Easily overlooked tucked underneath old farm buildings and warehouses, the humble staddle stone was an important part of the structure. Originally made of timber, stone became the norm for its strength and durability.
There are two main reasons for using them.
The first is to raise the barn, grain store or other structure off the ground. This kept them above the damp earth and helped air circulate underneath to keep them dry. If this were the only reason they could have used stone blocks and laid the timber beams for the buildings framework directly on top.
Known for their ability to gnaw through just about anything and squeeze into small gaps, rats, and mice too, can’t walk upside down. This is where the stone cappings come into their own because the overhang they created when on top of the stone plinths made it impossible for vermin to climb over them. The shape of the caps varies regionally from square, round and fluted to the flat-topped cones we have on the Isle of Wight. A good example of this is the central feature of our lavender bed in the middle of the farm courtyard.
The staddle stones raised the buildings off the ground, which meant a big step up to access them. Building permanent steps gave hungry rodents an easy way of getting to the contents so temporary timber steps were used during the day and removed at night or when not in use. Sometimes stone or brick steps were built with the top step missing, making it too high for them to jump. For added protection these steps sometimes had dog kennels built under them.
Staddle stones are still used today as garden ornaments and original buildings exist with them in place. The word staddle stone is also used in house, farm, and road names.