A history of staddle stones

We always have a good stock of these garden ornaments, often referred to as mushrooms, and we are always getting asked about the history behind them. This posts hopes to outline some of that history.

A staddle stone is defined as a stone, especially one resembling a mushroom in shape, supporting a framework or rick.

These stones were designed to elevate buildings from the ground, predominantly granaries and  hay ricks. The idea behind them is that rats and other vermin could not climb round the overhanging top, therefore reducing the amount of crop spoiled by vermin. They also assisted in the lifespan of the building by keeping the timber beams away from the damp ground and creating a good airflow which increased the time taken for the beams to rot.

staddlestone reclaimed
A Typical Sussex Staddle-stone

Although there is a massive amount of variation in the design of staddle stones, they are normally comprised of a tapered based, topped with a rounded cap. There can be significant regional variation between designs, for example in Sussex, Hampshire and Kent the bases are normally cylindrical, whereas in the Cotswolds a 4 sided tapering base is more common.

The earliest known examples of stone staddle stones date from the 15th century, where there are mentions of them in the court rolls of the time. However it is entirely possible, and indeed quite likely that they were in use for some time before this, although they would probably have been made of wood at this time. The origin of the word staddle is in the old english word stathol meaning a support or trunk of a tree.

staddle stone group
A rare granite staddlestone with a cotswold stone staddle

Another interesting aspect of the staddle stones history is that there appears to be some link between these structures and tenant farming. The idea being that if the barn was suspended on staddle stones then it was the property of the tenant and not the farms owner.

We hope that this post has helped inform you on the history of staddle stones. Please check out our current range here.