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First published in The Potter November 2008
Text © Copyright John Heaton 2008

Stone Common Plot


The internet has been a valuable source for my previous contributions; however when I started research on this project the only information I could find was the fact that a row of trees was planted there to mark Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, and a photograph of a cow in a field. Fortunately a few days later Brian Billington gave me some assistance; he had a name for part of the area and a possible link to one of the Jacobite rebellions of the C18th.


The area lies on the northern outskirts of Stone between two minor roads, one leading to Kibblestone and the other to Meaford. As its name suggests it is an area of common land and covers a small area about 600m N-S and 500m E-W. It comprises a hill gently sloping from near the north boundary to south some 30m. To the north the hill slopes gently at first, then more steeply through a narrow strip of woodland to the northern boundary. The main body of the area is open rough with scattered isolated trees. The top of the hill is peppered with earth banks/gullies. It is criss-crossed with footpaths, nearly all rights of way, covering a total distance of over 3 kilometres. Christchurch Middle School overlooks the southern tip of the area and has been included on the map.


The name for a part of the area, which appears on the 1:25000 OS map, is Mudley Pits and applies to earth banks/gullies on the summit area. It appears that these are the remnants of fortifications built by the army of the Duke of Westmorland to defend against Bonnie Prince Charlie. The 25 year old General was second son of George II. In November 1745 the Jacobite rebels swept down from Scotland unchallenged past Carlisle and Manchester. The main English forces under General Wade were stuck on the wrong side of the snowbound Pennines as the forces moved into England. From Manchester they advanced to Macclesfield, then Leek, and finally to Derby via Ashbourne. At this point this force of some 6000 then stalled; they were undecided on whether to move on to their target of London. Westmorland set up his forces around Stone to cover an advance to Wales by the rebels, where it was thought they would recruit more men. With Wade’s forces in Yorkshire and a militia waiting on the outskirts of London, a confrontation seemed inevitable. Prince Charlie however decided to retreat, taking the same route as his advance. Apart from a few skirmishes, they managed to return to Scotland unchallenged. Cumberland finished his chase at the border to return south, fearing a French invasion. Lieutenant General Hawley continued the chase, but was defeated at Falkirk on 17th January 1746, prompting Cumberland to return north. By 30th January he was in the Aberdeen preparing and training for a confrontation. This occurred at the infamous Battle of Culloden Moor on 17th April at which Charlie was heavily defeated, but managed to escape to exile.

Ordnance Survey

The O.S. maps (about 1:10000 and about 1:25000 scales) up to about the 1950's showed Mudley Pits on the Common and the word “Intrenchments” in gothic font, thus classing it as a monument. Then after this time this changed to Mudley Pits (Dis) which means that they considered them to be old mine workings. Who is right, were the previous markings based on a myth? To further confuse the matter the name appears on local written references as Mottley Pits!

John Heaton