Definition of sarsen in English:


(also sarsen stone)


  • A silicified sandstone boulder of a kind which occurs on the chalk downs of southern England. Such stones were used in constructing Stonehenge and other prehistoric monuments.

    • ‘He glances up as the sun suddenly shafts through the dark rain clouds, illuminating two great rings of lichen-encrusted sarsens.’
    • ‘The first discovered and best-known Bronze Age carvings at the site are the dagger and axehead found by Richard Atkinson in 1953, on the inner face of Stone 53, one of the imposing Trilithon sarsens.’
    • ‘It appears not to be local heathstone, but a foreign sarsen.’
    • ‘The so-called sarsen stones, each weighing as much as fifty tons, came from Marlborough Downs, twenty miles away.’
    • ‘One curious natural source of musical sound is the ‘blowing stone’, a naturally perforated block of sarsen that can be blown to produce a wailing sound.’


Late 17th century: probably a variant of Saracen.