Cornerstones of a city; MERSEYSIDE TALES.
Byline: Stephen Guy
TONE was used thousands of years for buildings and structures before modern materials were developed to eventually dominate our environment.
SLong before bricks, concrete and glass, ancient peoples quarried and carved stones to create monuments and structures in a world dominated by natural forces.
Standing stones have been found in almost every part of the inhabited world. These mysterious stones are abundant in the British Isles, standing alone or in regular groups.
Stone was used for most public buildings until about a century ago. Other local relics include the Sanctuary Stone, Robin Hood's Stone and numerous crosses and boundary stones.
Liverpool's Calder Stones date from around 4,500 years ago. Neolithic people used stone tools and brute force to cut the huge blocks of sandstone.
The stones were arranged into a structure called a dolmen which was covered with earth to make a burial chamber.
Strange spirals, circles and other symbols were carved into the stones, which remained undisturbed for centuries.
The stones were mentioned in a boundary dispute in 1568 so they must have been visible after the mound collapsed or was disturbed.
The mound was destroyed in around 1800, to provide sand for the building of a house nearby.
Farm workers and passers-by left their own marks on the stones, some drawing around their shoes or leaving initials in the rock.
The stones were placed in a circular enclosure at the entrance to the present Calderstones Park by Joseph Need Walker, who lived there between 1825 and 1875.
They were a popular outdoor feature before being moved to their present position under glass in 1964 to protect them from weathering and vandalism.
Nearby is a standing stone called the Hartley Pillar which looks ancient but has a very different story.
Jesse Hartley, the great Victorian dock engineer, either built or improved every dock in Liverpool.
Hartley lived in Bootle when it was still rural and well away from the docks which would later cover its shores.
In Hartley's garden, there was a large stone pillar used as an ornamental feature which must have attracted much attention.
Despite its appearance, the stone was a sample for dock building sent down from Scotland.
Hartley's daughter married John Bibby, an iron and copper manufacturer, who lived at Hart Hill, in Allerton. He acquired the stone pillar from his father-in-law's garden and put it in Hart Hill in Hartley's memory.
Another curious stone is shown in an 1878 print captioned Burial Stone, West Derby.
It shows a cross carved into a large stone on a rocky outcrop. I have been unable to find any other references to such a landmark.
| Stephen Guy is chairman of the historic Lowlands West Derby Community Centre. Details at www.lowlands.org.uk or 0151 226 5352.
The Calder Stones in their glass enclosure, with some of the markings highlighted, inset
The mysterious West Derby Burial Stone in 1878, left; and, above, the Hartley Pillar, in Calderstones Park, a monument to dock engineer Jesse Hartley