New Forest Guides
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The Rufus Stone
The Rufus Stone - New Forest Walks and Picnic Areas
The Rufus Stone is a memorial to the former king of England William II who was also known as William Rufus so the tales go because of his ruddy complexion.
The Rufus Stone is not the grandest of memorials but the William Rufus was not exactly a much loved ruler and was by all accounts hated by both the people and the church at the time due to his tyrannical style.
The cast Iron monument that you see today (which was erected in 1865) is not the original stone monument but instead is an encasement. The original monument was defaced so was enshrouded to protect it.
Rufus Stone is sited at the spot of a former great Oak said to be the spot where the kings body was found left abandoned by Sir Walter Tyrell who had fired the shot that killed the king in an hunting accident. However the chroniclers of the time tend to tell a different story and there are a number of different recounts of the actual events of the day.
This has led rise to the conspiracy theory about the kings death with Walter Tyrell denying being in that part of the forest when the king was shot. Others claimed Williams younger brother Henry was hunting with him on that fateful day but the inscription on the stone is only one version of the events so should not be taken at face value, it is doubtful however if the true tale of the former kings death will ever be ratified.
What we do know however is that Henry immediately seized the opportunity to circumvent his older brother Robert's rightful succession to the throne (Robert was away on a crusade) and seized the treasury in Winchester and was subsequently only days later crown King Henry I of England.
There is a lovely ancient Beech woodland here where you can go for a pleasant stroll or have an impromptu picnic perhaps although the potential peacefulness of the woods is a little broken by the sound of the nearby traffic.
The scenery is stunning here on a sunlight lit day, but on darker days when the mists or fog close it can make the surroundings quite spooky, and there have been reports of a ghostly procession that follows the route that Williams body took back to Winchester where it now rests.
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