The mysterious Nottinghamshire rock said to have been ‘thrown by the devil’

The story behind the stone might be legend but its geology is nonetheless very impressive The story behind the stone might be legend but its geology is nonetheless very impressive
The story behind the stone might be legend but its geology is nonetheless very impressive
The 28-foot-tall structure has confused people for centuries

If you’ve ever driven on the A6002 just outside Stapleford, you might have noticed a strange-looking object beside the northbound carriageway. 

Standing at 28-feet-high, the Hemlock Stone cuts a dominant figure beside the busy road and has been confusing motorists for decades. 

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In fact, you’ll have to go back quite a while to pinpoint a time when the enigmatic rock wasn’t there; 200 million years to be precise. 

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To put that into perspective, modern humans emerged around 300,000 years ago. 

How the huge sandstone pillar came to be has caused huge debate over the centuries. 

First up are the scientific theories. Studies have shown that the rock was forged out of red sandstone in a desert climate during the Triassic period. 

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If that estimate is correct, there is no doubt that dinosaurs would have cast their eyes upon the very rock we see today. 

You might be wondering why the rock is two different colours - the top half black and the bottom half beige. 

The mysterious stone has been around for centuries and would have likely been seen by dinosaurs! The mysterious stone has been around for centuries and would have likely been seen by dinosaurs!
The mysterious stone has been around for centuries and would have likely been seen by dinosaurs!

The rock is formed of a layer of Nottingham Castle Sandstone overlying a layer of Lenton Sandstone.

The blackening to the top half was caused by industrial air pollution to the Nottingham Castle Sandstone. 

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Now we’ve covered the geological stuff, let’s dig into the historical theories about the rock. 

In the Middle Ages it was claimed that the Devil threw the stone there from Castleton, Derbyshire, because the church bells annoyed him. 

Modern experts have discounted this theory because there is no red sandstone in the Castleton area of Derbyshire. 

Druids used the stone as an altar to light fires the night before May day to celebrate the Beltane festival. 

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Celts believed Hemlock Stone was specifically sacred as it was surrounded by oak trees and a nearby blessed spring. 

With so many different theories about the rock devised over the centuries, the truth about the bizarre structure will probably never be found. 

These days, the rock is recognised as an important local landmark and will go on intriguing passers-by for generations to come. 

Let us know what you think about the origins of the Hemlock Stone!