Staff at the Marston Vale Forest Centre have recently cleared the area around the village’s mysterious standing stone which can now be seen by visitors.
Alan Rogers said: “There is little or no historical evidence as to the date or origin of this unassuming edifice, and as an inevitable result, a great number of myths have grown up around it.”
There are many different versions of how it became the Devil’s stone but the central story is linked to the detached tower of Marston Church. It’s rumoured that the Devil attempted to steal the tower, but in finding it too heavy, dropped it where it is today. He returned to the tower on a Sunday, and saw people playing leapfrog over the stone in the distance.
Since playing games on a Sunday was ungodly, he took his opportunity to bound from the top of the tower to the stone, where he collected the offenders and took them off with him, never to be seen again.
The earliest Ordnance Survey map, compiled in the late 18th century and printed in the early 19the century, shows buildings opposite the stone (long before Jubilee Cottages were built), with the words ‘The Three Jumps’ alongside.
The stone itself gives no clues as to its origin, other than it seems to be octagonal in shape and may well be the broken remains of a taller structure.
If you’d like to see the stone, enter the Forest Centre, not by the main entrance, but by the pedestrian entrance further along, opposite the Jubilee Cottages. Once through the gate, turn immediately right and walk over the grass until you can’t go any further and the stone is on the right.