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HER Number:MDV9057
Name:Brutus Stone at the front of 51 Fore Street, Totnes


The Brutus stone is a large granite boulder fixed into the pavement outside 51, Fore Street. It is traditionally asserted that the Trojan Brutus first stepped ashore here and that the sea formerly flowed up to this stone.


Grid Reference:SX 803 604
Map Sheet:SX86SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishTotnes
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishTOTNES

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX86SW/14
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • STONE (VIII to Late Medieval - 701 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SX86SW3 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV350397.


Watkin, H.R., The History of Totnes Priory and Medieval Town (Article in Serial). SDV350394.

Prince, J., 1701, Worthies of Devon (Monograph). SDV24490.

Cotton, W., 1850, A Graphic and Historical Sketch of the Antiquities of Totnes, 32 (Unknown). SDV350395.

Ordnance Survey, 1855-1895, First Edition 1:500 Town Map (Cartographic). SDV338879.

'Brutus's Stone' is marked on the Ordnance Survey Town map of 1855-1895.

Windeatt, E., 1880, An Historical Sketch of Totnes, 159 (Article in Serial). SDV168929.

Worth, R.N., 1880, The Myth of Brutus the Trojan, 563-564 (Article in Serial). SDV350398.

Windeatt, E., 1920, Totnes Stone, 48-61 (Article in Serial). SDV350393.

Brown, T., 1955, The Trojans in Devon, 68-70, Plate 2a (Article in Serial). SDV350396.

There is a local legend that when Brutus stepped off his ship at Totnes, he stood on a stone, from which he declaimed, in astonishingly good English for a Trojan: “Here I am and here I rest, and this town shall be called Totnes”. R.J. King gave a slightly different version “Here I sit”, And Prince, in 1675, said that the stone was still there to prove it “a certain rock still called Brute’s stone”. The stone can be seen to this day, let into the pavement of Fore Street, outside Number 37, a considerable way up the hill, well above the level of the Dart at full tide. Curiously enough, a writer states that he has seen the river up to this point in a flood but that is of no importance, since there is no reason to suppose that the stone was originally set it this spot. It is a granite boulder, water-worn, of kidney shape, and quite small.

Mr Worth (in 1880) said that someone claimed to have dug this stone out of a well about sixty years before; it seems highly unlikely that such a find could be palmed off on the inhabitants of Totnes, and Mr Windeatt, in his Presidential Address to the Devonshire Association in 1920, said he did not believe this story. The present stone can hardly be called “a certain rock”, but then there is a Cotton, M.S. of 1850 which says that in 1810, the stone was ct down to its present height, from eighteen inches, in order, I suppose, to sink in its present position.

However, as Prince was the first to mention the Brutus Stone, it does not argue well for the antiquity of the tradition. It would indeed be natural that, at some time, people would begin to rake Totnes over for a relic of Brutus’ landing. What they hit on may have been one of two things:

a) The Stone from which the town crier, or “bruiter” called his “bruit”, or news. This seems to be a late medieval work, in use by 1494, lingering till 1671, when Evelyn employed it. It was used locally by ordinary people, presumably as the Receiver’s Accounts for Plymouth have a 1586 entry “When the Brut was of ye Spaniards”.

b) The stone mentioned in several medieval disputes as “le Brodestone”. It lay between two tenements as a mark or boundary, in 1459. By 1471 it had been moved, and now marked the limit to which the water from the Haperswille should flow down the hill before being diverted to the Castle moat. Obviously, the townsfolk wished this turning point to be as low as possible, hence litigation in 1428, 1459 and 1471. Perhaps as a result of the last case, the “Brodestone” was moved down to the East Gate. This identification of the Brutus Stone was suggested by the late Mr High Watkin; he pointed out that if the stone had originally been a boundary stone outside the gate, it would more likely have been called a mete-stone (The History of Totnes Priory, Volume 2, 622-3).

I think the second alternative most likely. It may still have been a stone of some importance form very early times, equivalent to town-stones of many other cities, if not as significant as London Stone. This was said to have been imported by Brutus from Troy to serve both as the foundation stone of his Trinovantum and as the altar for the temple to Diana, who had sent him to Britain. It is said that as long as London Stone is in London, the city will be secure. The temple of Diana, presumably Roman? lay under the present St Paul’s (Annals of St Paul’s Cathedral, H.H. Milman, Chapter 1).

Department of Environment, 1978, Totnes, 25 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV342722.

Dated 16/03/1978. Brutus Stone. Possibly glacial erratic. Traditionally asserted that the Trojan Brutus first stepped ashore here and that the sea formerly flowed up to this stone. Large boulder of granite fixed into pavement outside 51, Fore Street, East Gate. The tradition of Brutus is referred to by various writers including John Prince, Vicar of Totnes 1676-1681.

Visit in around 1920 (ancient monuments) recorded that it has for a long period been customary on the proclamation of a new sovereign for the mayor to make the proclamation from this stone.

Visit on 15/8/1951 records that it appears to be a rough unhewn block of granite now set flush with the pavement on the north side of Fore Street. The Ordnance Survey state, possibly following Windeatt, that the stone was 'an important landmark of the Anglo-Saxon town'.

Before the raising of the street level, the Brutus Stone was an important topographical landmark of the Anglo Saxon and medieval town. It may have marked the meeting place of the Saxon Witan.

English Heritage, 2012, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV348729.

Worn top of granite monolith set in pavement. Commemorated in local legend and the gathering place for civic ceremonies. Before the raising of the street level, an important topographical landmark of the Anglo-Saxon and medieval town, which may have marked the meeting place of the Saxon witan or council of Totnes.

Watts, M., 2020, The Brutus Stone, Totnes (Ground Photograph). SDV363517.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV168929Article in Serial: Windeatt, E.. 1880. An Historical Sketch of Totnes. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 12. Hardback Volume. 159.
SDV24490Monograph: Prince, J.. 1701. Worthies of Devon. Worthies of Devon. Unknown.
SDV338879Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1855-1895. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #109259 ]
SDV342722List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1978. Totnes. Historic Houses Register. A4 Comb Bound. 25.
SDV348729National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2012. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV350393Article in Serial: Windeatt, E.. 1920. Totnes Stone. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 52. Hardback Volume. 48-61.
SDV350394Article in Serial: Watkin, H.R.. The History of Totnes Priory and Medieval Town. Unknown. 2. Unknown.
SDV350395Unknown: Cotton, W.. 1850. A Graphic and Historical Sketch of the Antiquities of Totnes. 32.
SDV350396Article in Serial: Brown, T.. 1955. The Trojans in Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 87. 68-70, Plate 2a.
SDV350397Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. SX86SW3. SX86SW3.
SDV350398Article in Serial: Worth, R.N.. 1880. The Myth of Brutus the Trojan. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 12. Hardback Volume. 563-564.
SDV363517Ground Photograph: Watts, M.. 2020. The Brutus Stone, Totnes. Digital.
Linked images:1

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Nov 26 2020 10:06AM