Staddle stones
Staddle stones were originally used as supporting bases for granaries
A granary is a storehouse for threshed grain or animal feed. In ancient or primitive granaries, pottery is the most common use of storage in these buildings. Granaries are often built above the ground to keep the stored food away from mice and other animals.-Early origins:From ancient times grain...

, hayricks, game larders, etc. The staddle stones lifted the granaries above the ground thereby protecting the stored grain from vermin and water seepage. In Middle English staddle or stadle is stathel, from Old English stathol, a foundation, support or trunk of a tree.


The name itself and evidence from surviving vernacular buildings with wooden 'feet' suggest that at first the staddles or supports were made of wood, such as at Peper Harow
Peper Harow
Peper Harow is a tiny village in south-west Surrey close to the town of Godalming.The whole village is privately owned and access is restricted. The name "Peper Harow" is very unusual and comes from Old English Pipers Hearg meaning, approximately "Pagan Temple".Peper Harrow appears in Domesday Book...

 granary in Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

. Stone staddles were longer lasting and a more reliable means of supporting structures which were sometimes a considerable weight.

The name has become integrated into the landscape with bridges, houses, farms and other structures incorporating the name 'staddle'.


The staddle stones usually had a separate head and base which gave the whole structure a 'mushroom' like appearance. Different areas in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 had different designs. The base varied from cylindrical to tapered rectangular to near triangular. Flat topped cone shaped staddle stones are to be found in parts of the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

. The tops are flat to support the beams, however some variation does exists, such as square tops, fluted designs, slate tops, etc.

A fine example is the English Granary built 1731, Supported on Staddle Stones, which can be seen in the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum
Weald and Downland Open Air Museum
The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum is an open air museum at in Singleton, Sussex, England. The museum covers , with nearly 50 historic buildings dating from the thirteenth to nineteenth centuries, along with gardens, farm animals, walks and a lake....

 in West Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

, UK. Such structures were common in Southern England in the 18th century. At Higher Farm in Heathfield, Tavistock, Staddle Stones are part of the substantial barns built by the Duke of Bedford
Duke of Bedford
thumb|right|240px|William Russell, 1st Duke of BedfordDuke of Bedford is a title that has been created five times in the Peerage of England. The first creation came in 1414 in favour of Henry IV's third son, John, who later served as regent of France. He was made Earl of Kendal at the same time...

 in the 19th century. The dressed granite stone bases have specially hewn slate tops.

The materials used depended on the stone available, giving rise to sandstone, red sandstone, granite examples, etc.

The tower mill
Tower mill
A tower mill is a type of windmill which consists of a brick or stone tower, on top of which sits a roof or cap which can be turned to bring the sails into the wind....

 at Reigate
Reigate is a historic market town in Surrey, England, at the foot of the North Downs, and in the London commuter belt. It is one of the main constituents of the Borough of Reigate and Banstead...

 on the Wray Common ceased to work in 1895. The mill had a granary standing next to it, supported by a large number of staddle stones.

The Museum of Scottish Country Life at Wester Kittochside near East Kilbride
East Kilbride
East Kilbride is a large suburban town in the South Lanarkshire council area, in the West Central Lowlands of Scotland. Designated as Scotland's first new town in 1947, it forms part of the Greater Glasgow conurbation...

 has two 'Stathels', made in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

 of cast iron. The structure is basically a cast iron version of a set of staddle stones with its wooden framework. These rare survivals are still in use.


The tops of the staddles were usually circular and this made it almost impossible for a rodent to climb up and into the hay or grain stored above. The air could freely circulate beneath the stored crops and this helped to keep it dry. A wood framework was placed onto the tops of the stones, the staddles being arranged in two or three rows, giving sixteen or more stones. The hayricks, Tithe barn
Tithe barn
A tithe barn was a type of barn used in much of northern Europe in the Middle Ages for storing the tithes - a tenth of the farm's produce which had to be given to the church....

s, granaries, etc. were built on top of this frame.

Granaries and beehives

These were often constructed with wooden weather-boards such as at Blaxland Farm in Sturry
Sturry is a village on the Great Stour river three miles north-east of Canterbury in Kent. The large parish of Sturry Church incorporates the former mining village of Hersden and several hamlets.-Geography:...

, Kent, which has nine staddles, however if the grain was stored loose then the sides were filled in with brick nogging and light lath-and-plaster at the wall tops. Wooden steps up to the buildings were detachable and stored by hanging them up on the side of the structure. If stone or brick steps were built then the top step was not built, thus denying access to rats and other vermin. Some of these granaries had a 'cat flap' and others had a recess inside the steps which served as a dog kennel.
Most granaries were used for the storage of two or three separate crops, having a capacity of 500 to 2500 bushels. The arrangement of the stones to support the structure and its weight when in use, required nine, twelve or sixteen staddles. The production of staddles was therefore a fairly significant local industry. Small granaries could make do with five, one being in the middle. The Upper Hexford granary in Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire is a county in the South East region of England, bordering on Warwickshire and Northamptonshire , Buckinghamshire , Berkshire , Wiltshire and Gloucestershire ....

 uses thirty-six staddles.

Bee hives were often set on top of staddle stones to keep out predators and provide dry and airy conditions.

Game larders

Small staddle stones were used to support small roofed box-shaped larders which were used on the larger estates for storage of game, such as pheasant, brought back by shooting parties, etc.


Timber-framed barns raised up on staddle stones were sometimes found in the south of England. Apart from the usual benefits it seems that some correlation between this barn type and the builder being a tenant exists. Being on staddles such barns remained the property of the tenant.

Landscape gardening

Staddles are often found in architectural salvage yards as they may be seen as attractive structures. They are also sold new, being made from moulded concrete. Chainsaws are used to produce wooden 'staddle stones' for use as garden seats or ornaments. In this context the staddle stones are often called mushroom stones
Mushroom stones
Mushroom stones, or wave stones, are limestone boulders undercut by water. These take the form of solitary sentinels of limestone which still bear the unmistakable marks of long-continued erosion by lapping waves at the edge of lakes which have since vanished or retreated...



Staddle stones are often well over a century old and have developed a good lichen 'patina' with slow and fast growing species adhering to the surfaces. They are better not cleaned therefore as the lichen flora is well worth preserving to add to the biodiversity of a garden scene.

Surveyors marks

Old land deeds in northeastern United States often refer to Oak Staddle or Walnut Staddle. These deeds are from the late 18th century to the middle 19th century. Either the owners would cut a tree leaving the stump and request that the surveyors measure to it, or the surveyor would measure out to the location of a new lot corner and a staddle would be inserted into the ground like a boundary stone.

See also

External links

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