This weathered obelisk stands before a stretch of greenery alongside a highway, frequently overlooked by passing motorists. It looks obsolete, much like the geographic purpose it once served.
A monument has stood on the site since 1675. This particular version was installed in the 1700s and is considered a historic building. For centuries, it marked the spot where four of England’s shires (Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, and Oxfordshire) touched. As such, it became known as the Four Shire Stone.
However, in the 20th century, some geographic shuffling demoted the marker from a four shire stone to a three shire stone. Because Worcestershire’s boundaries were changed, circling the stone will no longer take you through a brief journey through that shire.
Supposedly, the Four Shire Stone inspired none other than J. R. R. Tolkien himself. In both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the Shire is divided into three farthings, all which meet at the Three-Farthing Stone. Many say the famous author drew inspiration from this very obelisk.
Visit England with Atlas Obscura Trips
London Science Weekend: Medicine and Science in the Press
Join New York Times Journeys and Atlas Obscura for three days of scientific learning, special access and exploration in London. Accompanied by Times journalists and scientific experts, meet people contributing to the history of medicine and scientific journalism. This two-track program includes panels, exclusive visits and access to some of the best scientific minds available to concentrate on science reporting or medical history.