Staddle stones (also known as mushroom stones) were originally used as supporting bases to raise tithe barns, hayricks, game larders and granaries off the ground. The staddle stones lifted the granaries above the ground thereby protecting the stored grain from spoilage by dampness/water seepage and also from mice and other vermin as they couldn’t climb past the staddle stone caps. In Middle English staddle or stadle is stathel, from Old English stathol, a foundation, support or trunk of a tree.
Photo: Antique English Staddle Stones at Detroit Garden Works
Virtually unchanged in design for many hundreds of years, staddle stones come in various types of stone (depending on what was available in the landscape) and wood with slight variations of form. They are extremely popular as garden ornaments especially in rural areas. 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. The base varied from cylindrical to tapered rectangular to near triangular.
Photo credit: Sheldon Manor
The tops of the staddles were usually circular which 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 barns, granaries, etc. were built on top of this frame.
Additional uses: Bee hives were often set on top of staddle stones to keep out predators and provide dry and airy conditions. Small roofed box-shaped larders supported by small staddle stones were used on large estates for storage of game, such as pheasant, brought back by shooting parties. Lastly, surveyors often used staddle stones inserted into the ground to identify property boundaries.
Today, staddles are often found in architectural salvage yards as attractive garden/landscape structures. Century old staddle stones have developed a lichen ‘patina’ with slow and fast growing species adhering to the surfaces adding to the biodiversity of a garden! Staddles are also sold new made from molded concrete or wood ‘cut’ with chainsaws to produce wooden ‘staddle stones’ for use as garden seats.
…a wonderful addition to any landscape!