Screenwriter & Author

Who is Merlin, the deadly Pentagon hacker inside the heart of the Secret Government?

And who is hunting the hunter?

The Secret Government

A new novel by Stephen Leo Davis, now available in the Amazon Kindle Store


Los Angeles. 1953 Aldous Huxley lifts a water glass to his lips and the freeways turn and point to a new Bethlehem.

The Migrants' Song

A new novel by Stephen Leo Davis, now available in the Amazon Kindle Store

A writer daydreams – and the past opens up

This is about my real-life time travels  – several thousand years into the past…

The past is important to writers and no less so to me.  Of all the adventures I’ve had around the world, behind the lines in Northern Ireland, down the Xingu River in the Brazilian rain forest, with spies or with criminals or with some of the greatest scientists of my era, the most exciting adventure I had happened within five hundred metres of my house in England.

My writing office is on the first floor of a C16 house whose history I have researched all the way back to before the first Davis family lived here – in the 1600s – to when Norman French conquerors built the first recorded house on the site.  But I thought that was as far as I could go.

But then I discovered some 12th and 13th Century tax records for the manor, and between writing assignments my researches started over.

At the margin of my garden is a thick belt of trees marking off what was once a historic estate, since demolished and colonised by a carpet of ‘executive homes’. I used often to reflect that while I might regret the loss of the great house, the new residents were a reasonable constituent of the television and film audience for which I was writing.  Their homes were, to my eye, somewhat two-dimensional in historic terms.  Could I, I asked myself, ever find a story in which the past which I romanced so much could break through the ashphalt crust of their roadways in a dramatic and startling way?

I never thought of such a story, although the ancient records showed that several hundred years before the great estate was assembled and the grand house built there, a humble man called ‘John of the Horestone’ lived in the vicinity.

A ‘horestone’, I knew, was an ancient standing stone, a relic of the Druid era of nature worship that preceded the Roman invasion of Britain.  Could John’s Horestone still be standing?

It seemed unlikely, till I looked.  When the estate was built, a belt of inner woodland was retained by the developer to protect the privacy of his own new home at the centre of the new estate.  The woodland started where a spur of roadway ended.  Where the woodland began the driveways of executive houses abrubtly ended.

I stood looking one afternoon, into a grove of trees, dominated in the foreground by a massive chestnut tree.  Behind the chestnut stood a trunk, about six feet tall, covered with thick ivy.  There was no standing stone. The wild garlic was blossoming on the woodland floor, and considered the proximity of the houses, the atmosphere had a little magic.

I stood and reflected.  Before I left, I patted the ivy-clad tree trunk.  It was cold and jagged. I lifted away some foliage. I was staring at a massive standing stone, almost my own height. I had found The Horestone of Rodborough.

This ancient worship site, dating to the era of Stonehenge, had probably been forcibly abandoned when the Roman invaders built their Temple to the god Mercury at Uley West Hill, four miles away.  The name of the site had been lost when the Bownham Park estate was created by a rich local banker in the 1740s.  I was the first to see the stone in centuries – previous searches for it had failed, as I later discovered.

My story about the Horestone of Rodborough is a long and rich story and led me to more explorations around the ancient landscape of Minchinhampton and Rodborough.  I found at least five more unmapped ‘lost’ Neolithic monuments, to add to the two very famous ones that are known here, in what is already a famous archaeological landscape.

My writing career has distracted me from the chronicle of these journeys through the past till now.  I will now return to them.

Meanwhile, many followers of standing stone lore have shown interest in the Horestone of Rodborough.  Here are two stories that cover it.



4 Responses to A writer daydreams – and the past opens up

  • I was so delighted to read your comments and to follow the link that you left on the megalithic website – I had hoped to meet you in Minchinhampton during December when you ‘gave a talk’ at the market cross but I was called out on urgent business that night (I am a Crime Lawyer in private practice in Bristol)

    I tried, before encroaching (just a little bit) on your back garden, to obtain your permission – your CCTV must have caught my image every time I called to the front door!

    I do hope my remarks did your discovery sufficient justice – once the Minchinhampton Local History Society pointed me in the right direction it was downhill from there on – your stone was easier to find than you!!

    After copious research I am convinced that you and Clare Forbes have found the ‘Horestone’ – it would be wonderful to have the discovery formally recognised by English Heritage.

    I am not so sure about your suggestion of Druidic worship. Local Folklore can only be ignored ‘at your peril’ – that lore suggests it was one of four gravestones for four Danish Chieftains killed in a battle between the Saxons and the Danes that took place near Woefuldane Bottom just by Gatcombe Park; the Longstone, the Tinglestone and the Cobstone probably have the same pedigree – and the Peaked Stone and the Langstone also deserve an honourable mention – the more correct version is that they are all internal stones that once formed part of a Long Barrow – also the fact that all may have been quarried from the Devil’s Churchyard just adds to the fun.

    A word of caution – with all these stones moving around Minchinhampton when church bells strike midnight it might be as well not to travel in the area at the bewitching hour – let alone the chance of meeting an headless rider on a black horse accompanied by a ferocious black dog!! Much more fun than those Druids!!!

    I do hope we meet at a local function sometime – now a parting thought – you do know that ‘Horestone’ means a ‘boundary stone’ – that is how Sullivan was deceived – but the Scandinavian word ‘Horgr’ means sacred

  • Thx for your enthusiastic comments, John. You raise a lot of questions and if I may, I will email you with some detailed responses. Sorry to miss you at the talk – I am thinking I shd give a talk on the standing stones next!

  • A belated hello Stephen. You said you have more discoveries to report “if there is interest” – please do spill the beans.

    • Andy – thanks for your interest.
      I identified several more Neolithic stone monuments in the neighbourhood. They form a consistent topographical picture. I gave a talk about them but haven’t otherwise published them.
      I will post about them in due course.

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Strip joint-owner Jack Ruby, the Dallas Mob, the CIA and the assassination of JFK.

Starring Danny Aiello and Sherilyn Fenn.
Directed by John MacKenzie.
Screenplay by Stephen Davis from his play Love Field.

See Ruby at the IMDB

Double Agent

Tommy Lee Jones stars as CIA officer Steve Daley trying to unravel the riddle of high-level KGB defector Yuri Nosenko (Oleg Rudnik).

The real-life espionage case that started a secret war inside the CIA.

Screenplay by Stephen Davis.

View the details for the film at the IMDB

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