WEIRD NORFOLK: The ‘orgy stone’ of Merton which if moved causes “erotic debauchery” - and the end of the world.

Weird NorfolkThe Merton Stone Byline: Sonya Duncan(C) Archant 2020

Weird NorfolkThe Merton Stone Byline: Sonya Duncan(C) Archant 2020 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

If only this stone could speak: the stories it could tell. Merton's gigantic boulder has – according to legend – been the scene of at least one orgy and may hold the key to Armageddon.

On the boundary of Merton with Threxton, just off Peddar's Way is a stone with its own saucy folklore - for if it is moved, legend has it so are those that move it: into a wild, lusty frenzy.

The Merton Stone boasts two stories, one of which brings about the destruction of the village, the other that brings about a possible population explosion. It has been said for many years that if the boulder is ever moved, it would - according to a tale recounted in Lantern (those marvellous men from the Borderline Science Investigation Group in Lowestoft) in 1976 - "cause the waters to rise and cover the whole Earth". When the BSIG wrote to the vicar of the parish, they received a reply from the Hon Richard de Grey, seventh Lord of Walsingham, who lived in the village and confirmed the stone was still in situ. He recounted a tale in which his grandfather decided to test the end-of-the-world theory by moving the stone: he assembled lots of men and women, gave them plentiful beer and many ropes and tried to move the stone. Although the operation was ultimately a failure, it did lead to what he called "an erotic debauch": we will spare you the more intimate details.

Weird Norfolk - wearing our Weird Suffolk cloak - has already written about such a stone with saucy powers over the border in Hartest. According to legend, the Hartest Stone was dragged from nearby Somerton Hill on July 7 1713 by 20 gentlemen and 20 farmers as a somewhat bizarre way to celebrate the Peace of Utrecht and Marlborough's victories in the War of the Spanish Succession. Stone-dragging, it appears, had a somewhat amorous effect on the villagers of Hartest and - according to the tale - when the stone found its new home, the people of the village fell under a spell which led to a similar "erotic debauch" by the stone. As Mike Burgess from the BSIG wrote: "I am beginning to wonder whether these stones were once part of pagan fertility rituals, and perhaps they still hold some mysterious power that affects people in this way?...One of these days I think I may try moving one, and see what happens!"

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On the Hidden East Anglia website ( offers an addition to Lord Walsingham's tale: "…even in my own boyhood, someone would say of some elderly love-child 'Ah, he's wun o' them wot cum the toime o' the ould stoon'." Of course large stones in Norfolk are generally leftovers from the Ice Age, swept into position by glaciers and left as reminders of a different era: the Merton Stone is the biggest of its kind in Norfolk and possibly the biggest in England, weighing around 20 tonnes. On, the alleged mystical powers of the Merton stone are explored further: "I have been told by many people, personal experiences, some with handed-down stories that when standing on the stone one feels ice cold together with a feeling of some kind of unexplainable spiritual presence."

Whether the Merton Stone makes you feel cold or hot beneath the collar, one thing is for sure: move it at your own risk.

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