A huge boulder which a road was bizarrely constructed around decades ago – could finally be removed after a motorist crashed into it.
The prospect of the ancient stone, thought to have been located in Chapel Hill, Soulbury, for millions of years, being taken away has prompted outrage from villagers as Bucks County Council finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Technically the stone is an obstruction in the public highway... and now that an incident has been brought to our attention we are obliged to take action
With the council investigating the health and safety implications of the wacky landmark known as the ‘Soulbury Boot’ – it appears the driver who careered into the stone is seeking compensation.
A letter sent to parish council chairman, Victor Wright by the Transport for Bucks’ Matt Whincup reveals the compenstation claim and states: “This puts TfB in a very difficult position as I understand the stone has been in place at the junction for a very long time.
“Technically the stone is an obstruction in the public highway according to The Highways Act 1980 and now that an incident has been brought to our attention we are obliged to take action.
“If we were to remove the stone it would naturally upset the parish council and local residents however, unless we can come up with an alternative solution to make the stone ‘safe’ we may have to resort to removing it.”
The county council has now placed traffic cones around the stone to make it ‘safe’.
A council spokesman said its investigation of the issue was ongoing.
Legend has it the ‘Soulbury Boot’ appeared on the top of Chapel Hill after villagers fought off the devil and cut off his foot .
Another tale is that the Boot rolls down Chapel Hill every night when it hears the clock strike midnight.
Local history afficiondo Chris Bryant told the LBO: “The stone originated in Derbyshire and was pushed to Soulbury in the last Ice Age, as the glacier disappeared across the south of England.”
When asked about the age of the stone, Mr Bryant said: “About 250 million years ... it was certainly there before the road! It’s claimed but completely unproven that what you see is only a small fraction of it.”
Soulbury Parish Councillor and LBO village correspondent, Alan Stevens, said: “When I heard it on the grapevine I didn’t believe it.
“The view of the residents is that the stone has been there for an awful long time.”
One solution touted is to offer the Boot to the parish council and move it to the village’s Millenium Green.
But that plan has provoked a mixed response.
Cllr Stevens said: “It’s where it is and that’s all there is to it. It’s part of Soulbury and I think that’s the general feeling.”
Mr Bryant said: “If they manage to get it out it wouldn’t worry me that much.
“It would seem a shame if they take an axe to it and smash it up.”
Residents on social media have talked of launching a protest campaign Save Our Soulbury Stone, with some vowing to chain themselves to the rock to protect it.
What do you think? Is the stone a hazard that should be removed or should this landmark which was there before the road be protected? Email email@example.com.
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