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Four Shire Stone
Four-Shire Stone 2013-09-18.jpg
The Four Shire Stone at the meeting point of Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, and formerly also Worcestershire
Coordinates 51°59′14.96″N 1°39′56.65″W / 51.9874889°N 1.6657361°W / 51.9874889; -1.6657361
Material Stonework
Height 9 feet

The Four Shire Stone is a boundary marker that marks the place where the four historic English counties of Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, and Worcestershire once met. Since 1931, with a change to the boundaries of Worcestershire, only the former three counties have met at the stone.

Boundary marker

The Four Shire Stone is not a single stone, but a nine-foot high monument, built from the local Cotswold stone. It is in the English midlands at the northern corner of a T junction on the A44 road, a mile and a half east of the small town of Moreton-in-Marsh, at 51°59′15″N 1°39′57″W / 51.98750°N 1.66583°W / 51.98750; -1.66583 (Four Shire Stone)Coordinates: 51°59′15″N 1°39′57″W / 51.98750°N 1.66583°W / 51.98750; -1.66583 (Four Shire Stone), grid reference SP2301432023. The existing structure was probably built in the 18th century, and is a grade II listed building. There was an earlier "4 Shire Stone" on or near the site in 1675, almost certainly that illustrated in 1660. Thomas Habington's Survey of Worcestershire mentions "the stone which toucheth four sheeres, a thing rarely scene".

Four-County-Stone-Hollar-1660
Detail from Wenceslaus Hollar, An Orthographical Designe of Several Views Upon Ye Road, in England and Wales, 1660.
Four-shire-stone-map
Detail of map from Philips' New handy general Atlas, 1921, showing four counties meeting at the Four Shire Stone. Worcestershire is shown in yellow, Warwickshire in green, Oxfordshire in violet and Gloucestershire in pink.

Five (formerly seven) civil parishes meet at the stone:

  • Moreton-in-Marsh to the west, in Gloucestershire;
  • Formerly Batsford to the northwest, also in Gloucestershire, until Batsford/Moreton-in-Marsh boundary change in 1987;
  • Formerly Lower Lemington to the north, also in Gloucestershire, and which merged into Batsford in 1935;
  • Great Wolford to the north, in Warwickshire;
  • Little Compton to the northeast, also in Warwickshire;
  • Chastleton to the southeast, in Oxfordshire;
  • Evenlode to the south, now also in Gloucestershire; until 1931 it was a detached part of Worcestershire.

Most of Worcestershire is to the north-west of the stone. Thus the order of the four counties around the stone was different from what one might expect from a map of England. The stone ceased to be the meeting-point of four shires in 1931, when Evenlode was transferred to Gloucestershire, so since that date only three counties meet at the stone.

The J. R. R. Tolkien Society claims that the Four Shire Stone inspired the "Three-Farthing Stone" in J. R. R. Tolkien's book The Lord of the Rings. In that work, the Shire, the homeland of the hobbits is divided into four farthings, three of which meet at the "Three-Farthing Stone".

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