toby fillpot jug

Blowing Stone

The Blowing Stone is a perforated sarsen stone, located at in a garden at the foot of Blowingstone Hill just south of the B4507, at Kingston Lisle, near Uffington, in the English county of Oxfordshire (formerly Berkshire).


The stone is capable of producing a booming sound, when anyone with the required skill blows into one of the perforations in a particular way. This was, according to legend, the means whereby King Alfred summoned his Saxon troops, in readiness for the nearby Battle of Ashdown, against the Vikings. This legend reputedly gives rise to the village's name, 'King's stone'. The Lisle suffix being a later addition.

Also, according to legend, a person who is capable of making the blowing stone sound a note which is audible atop Uffington White Horse Hill (where Victorian antiquarians thought King Alfred's troops had camped) will be a future King of England.

Blowingstone Hill is part of the scarp slope of the White Horse Hills, in the Berkshire Downs and at its crest is the Ridgeway.


The stone is mentioned in the Thomas Hughes novel Tom Brown's Schooldays and is referred to therein as the Blawing Stwun. In the same work, the village is called Kingstone Lisle.

It is also one of the 'sacred stones' mentioned in William Horwood's Duncton Wood, the first book in his fantasy/fiction series about a group of moles.

Excerpt from Tom Brown's Schooldays

"What is the name of your hill, landlord?" "Blawing STWUN Hill, sir, to be sure." [READER. "Stuym?" AUTHOR: "Stone, stupid—the Blowing Stone."] "And of your house? I can't make out the sign." "Blawing Stwun, sir," says the landlord, pouring out his old ale from a Toby Philpot jug, with a melodious crash, into the long-necked glass. "What queer names!" say we, sighing at the end of our draught, and holding out the glass to be replenished. "Bean't queer at all, as I can see, sir," says mine host, handing back our glass, "seeing as this here is the Blawing Stwun, his self," putting his hand on a square lump of stone, some three feet and a half high, perforated with two or three queer holes, like petrified antediluvian rat-holes, which lies there close under the oak, under our very nose. We are more than ever puzzled, and drink our second glass of ale, wondering what will come next. "Like to hear un, sir?" says mine host, setting down Toby Philpot on the tray, and resting both hands on the "Stwun." We are ready for anything; and he, without waiting for a reply, applies his mouth to one of the ratholes. Something must come of it, if he doesn't burst. Good heavens! I hope he has no apoplectic tendencies. Yes, here it comes, sure enough, a gruesome sound between a moan and a roar, and spreads itself away over the valley, and up the hillside, and into the woods at the back of the house, a ghost-like, awful voice. "Um do say, sir," says mine host, rising purple-faced, while the moan is still coming out of the Stwun, "as they used in old times to warn the country-side by blawing the Stwun when the enemy was a-comin', and as how folks could make un heered then for seven mile round; leastways, so I've heered Lawyer Smith say, and he knows a smart sight about them old times." We can hardly swallow Lawyer Smith's seven miles; but could the blowing of the stone have been a summons, a sort of sending the fiery cross round the neighbourhood in the old times? What old times? Who knows? We pay for our beer, and are thankful. "And what's the name of the village just below, landlord?" "Kingstone Lisle, sir." (Gutenberg Project)


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