King Alfred's Blowing Stone, Berkshire
Sitting behind some otherwise rather anonymous cottages in the village of Kingston Lisle is a strange stone, with various holes riddling it. Attached to this stone are not one, but two legends, though they are very much linked.
The stone is about a metre high, roughly square though it looks as though a giant has taken a few bites out of it. The holes may be accounted for by tree roots having gone through the mud that eventually became compacted into the solid grey sandstone that can be seen today.
The first legend is that King Alfred the Great , for some the man who created England, used the stone before the decisive battle of Ashdown which took place in the same area. The Danes yet again threatened his lands, and he had to gather his troops with great urgency to face the Norse army.
Lacking the time to send messengers King Alfred used his enormous lung power to blow through the stone like a giant trumpet, the booming sound carrying to Saxon fighters in villages for miles around. The warriors came in droves, and England, or at least Wessex, was saved.
The stone used to stand on the Ridgeway, which is where Alfred is supposed to have sounded it, but it was moved as an attraction to the inn that has now metamorphosed into the cottages.
It is still possible to try the stone, though according to many reports getting any sound at all out of it is hellishly difficult. But it may be worth the effort, as the second legend linked to it is that if a note from the stone carries all the way to White Horse Hill, Uffington , the successful musician is destined to become England's monarch.
You can't blame people for giving it a go then - if they have permission. A landlord in the early 19th century may not have become king, but he made a nice sideline out of getting a strong note from the boulder if visitors crossed his palm with silver.
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