The late Editor and Founder of ANTIQUITY had to deal with a difficult monument when he wrote his Long Barrows of the Cotwolds (1925). This was the Three Shire Stones which stand in an alcove in the wall on the west side of the Foss Way, two miles north of Batheaston, at the junction of Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire and the parishes of Batheaston, Marshfield and Colerne. Here are three uprights supporting a capstone. Inside is a broken boundary stone bearing the date 1736, and on the 2-in. manuscript map of the district at the Ordnance Survey (dated 1813–14) there is a note saying ‘Shire Stones, erected 1736’. As Crawford wrote, ‘The present structure is evidently a modem imitation of a “dolmen”.’
If we all accept the Three Shire Stones as an 18th-century ‘dolmen’, as we must, it prompts us to wonder what other megalithic imitations or ‘follies’ were constructed in England.
In 1792 Lord Arundel employed Josiah Lane to make a grotto for him at Wardour Castle in Wiltshire. Lane was a celebrated constructor of rock-work and his grotto at Wardour is a most remarkable and charming structure. To quote Barbara Jones’s description of it: ‘Built on a brick basis, it is of tufa and stone with the usual occasional ammonite, now covered with green moss and long ferns, for it is in a very sheltered and gloomy situation. The plan is most cunning, turning in and out with many views through jagged holes into other parts. The dark yews and the bank which it is built against, and the patternbook construction, make it the most Gothic of grottoes.’ Apparently Josiah Lane in his rock-work used part of a chamber tomb on Place Farm, Tisbury: three stones from this tomb were removed in 1792 and used at Wardour Castle.