The Fosse Way is an ancient Roman road that ran for 182 miles linking the Roman settlements at Exeter and Lincoln, via the other Roman settlements at Ilchester, Bath, Cirencester and Leicester. The name of the Fosse Way derives from the Latin word for ditch and for the early part of Roman rule in Britain the Fosse Way marked the western border of Roman control. The Fosse Way may have started life as a defensive ditch and then latterly been converted into a road, or the initial construction may have been a road supported by a ditch - the jury is still out on that one.
The standing stones in question can be found on the Bannerdown Road as it passes between Batheaston in Somerset towards Colerne in Wiltshire. Whilst these standing stones look like an ancient monument they are actually a fairly modern construction that marks the point where the boundaries of the counties of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, and Somerset historically met. The stones were erected in February 1859 and were erected over three slightly older stones dating from 1736, each of which are said to be inscribed with the initials of one of the three counties (i.e. G, W & S).
A quick Internet search reveals that this is not the only “Three Shires Stone” in the country and other tripoints (a point where three counties meet) are also marked with monuments, whether these be standing stones, oak trees or a wood!
If you ever visit the Three Shires Stones on the Fosse Way, do keep your eyes peeled. Apparently nearby in a dry stone wall there are a few carved words that tell the story of an unfortunate person who was murdered on the Fosse Way. My brief inspection of the wall failed to uncover the inscription, but a more careful eye may be able to discern the inscription and the tale that it tells.
|The Three Shire Stones on the Fosse Way.|
Pictures: Wiltshire (August 2015).