(che) The stone

Mid-winter solstice, 2007

By local understanding and common consent, the stone that gave its name to the Anglo Saxon settlement of Chediston is situated alongside the parish boundary, across a ditch in a private woodland to the north of Chediston Hall. The stone, or stones, for it consists of a concentration of several scattered rocks, is a conglomerate. Conglomerate is a 'sack name' for rocks that consist of rounded to subrounded fragments such as pebbles, cobbles and boulders, which are usually referred to as clasts, surrounded by a finer grained stratified matrix (e.g., sandstone). Chediston's rocks vary in the size and nature of the clasts, which in the smaller pieces project from the edges. In those pieces with few clasts it can be seen that the fine grained matrix is clearly stratified. The whole assembly gives the impression of once being part of a larger whole that has been deliberately fragmented.

Conglomerates are fossilised gravels from primeval river beds or sea shores. Superficially, their substance resembles concrete, but it is entirely natural, comprised of rounded and smoothed pebbles bound with a younger matrix of silica quartz. It is commonly known as 'pudding stone' a name derived from a resemblance to Christmas pudding. Both the clasts and matrices of many conglomerates consist of relatively resistant rocks and/or minerals such as quartzite and quartz. Chunks of pudding stone carried by the Anglian Ice Sheet were deposited in Suffolk and Essex as it melted about half a million years ago.

The first reference to the Chediston Hall stone was Englehart ( ref, below) in 1878. Then it was a pinnacle about ten feet high by eight by six in a 'pit'. There is also a photograph of two Edwardian ladies reclining at the foot of the stone in 1913. It was recorded as a substantial mass in the 1930s (see references below), and we are left with the conclusion that sometime during the last seventy years it was almost entirely quarried away for building or road-making, leaving just a few, but substantial, remains in Chediston Wood.

In summary, and taking into account the following references, three suggestions have been made as how and when the the Chediston stone originated.

  • It was deposited at the time of the Anglian Glaciation, at the spot where its remains are now to be found, as a substantial glacial erratic. The Cookley 'Rockstone', now in the garden of Rockstone Lodge across the valley, was deposited at the same time and was revealed by 13th century excavations in a gravel pit belonging to Rockstone Manor.
  • It is all that remains of a former covering of High Suffolk with Westleton Bed Gravel, most of which has been eroded away.
  • It was constructed as a folly by one of the owners of Chediston Hall (when the estate was beautified in the early 19th century), using material taken from the Cookley Rockstone.

  • The second suggestion does not fit the accepted facts of the Anglian Glaciation.
  • The last suggestion does not fit the names of the community, which is described in Domesday as Cedestan, Cidestan and Cidestanes (stan= stone). In other words, it is very likely that Chediston has had its own stone from time immemorial. On the other hand the two stones appear to have come from the same conglomerate strata. The natural explanation is that they were scraped off some northern outcrop and carried south to be dropped within a mile of each other when the glacier melted.

The present situation is that RIGS (The association that encourages the appreciation, conservation and promotion of Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites for education and public benefit') has been made aware of the above concerns. Officers from RIGS have agreed to visit the two sites during 2008 and report back to the 'Blything' team.

Pictures of the stones

Compare Cookley Rockstone

Previous local references (courtesy of Mrs Plumby of Rockstone Lodge)
....Fowler & Englehart (1932)
....Emms (1972)

But see Whitaker and Dalton (1887) for first professional geological assessment of the Rockstone in Cookley.