The Rufus Stone
The original stone that marked the location was clad in iron in 1841 to make it a more “durable memorial”. The unpopular king was killed by the wayward arrow of Sir Walter Tyrell whilst out hunting deer. Allegedly he aimed for a stag, but the arrow glanced off an oak tree before finding the chest of William Rufus.
Visit the Rufus Stone
Today, the Rufus Stone is an idyllic picnic spot, found just off the A31. The location is well sign-posted and has a Forestry Commission car park.
OS Grid Reference: SU 271 126
The Death of William Rufus
The English chronicler Orderic Vitalis describes the preparations for the hunt:
‘…an armourer came in and presented to [William] six arrows. The King immediately took them with great satisfaction, praising the work, and unconscious of what was to happen, kept four of them himself and held out the other two to Walter Tyrrel… saying ‘It is only right that the sharpest be given to the man who knows how to shoot the deadliest shots.’
The three sides of the Rufus Stone
The memorial is faced on three sides by inscriptions:
“Here stood the oak tree on which an arrow shot by Sir Walter Tyrell at a stag glanced and struck King William The Second, surnamed Rufus on the breast, on which he instantly died, on the second day of August AN No 1100”
“That the spot where an Event so Memorable might not hereafter be forgotten; The enclosed stone was set up by John Lord Delaware who had seen the Tree growing in this place.”
“This stone having been much mutilated, and the inscriptions on each of its three sides defaced. This more Durable Memorial with the original inscriptions was erected in the year 1841 by Wm Sturges Bourne Warden”
” King William The Second, surnamed Rufus being slain, as before related, was laid in a cart, belonging to one Purkis, and drawn from hence, to Winchester, and buried in the Cathedral Church of that city.”
A mysterious death
We will probably never know for certain why Rufus was killed. Nor can we be certain where it took place. New Forest historian Arthur Lloyd believes that Rufus was slain at Througham, on the south coast near Beaulieu.
Sir Walter Tryell Inn
The Sir Walter Tyrell Inn public house stands an arrow shot away from the Rufus Stone memorial.