The Petrified Servant has been in place for perhaps thousands of years
There is a mysterious reddish grey standing stone in the outskirts of Prague, and it is far older than the city itself. Who made it and why is a mystery that will likely never be solved. The rough, unpolished stone was once in an open field but urban sprawl caught up with it in the 1960s and it is now in front of a metal mesh fence of a family house.
Local people refer to it as a meteorite, but that is one thing it certainly is not.
The stone on Ládevska Street in the Dolní Chabry neighborhood in northern Prague is called the Petrified Servant, but the legend of whose servant it was and how it got petrified is long forgotten.
The stone is unique in Prague, with the Devil‘s Column at Vyšehrad as the only remotely similar monument, but that one at least has a legend and some possible explanations.
The Prague 8 district’s webpage claims the stone is of Celtic origin, and related to standing stones, or menhirs, found across Europe.
The official city explanation is that it was likely a magical touchstone to cure disease and spread fertility, and was possible even used by Celtic or Druid priests to see into the future.
Similar stones, often in widespread groups, have astronomical alignments, but none has been found for this one.
Some experts state that the stone could be as much as 5,000 to 7,000 years old, long before the Celts were in Bohemia. It might have been placed there by a group called the Beaker People, named after the pottery found in sites where they lived. It might have even come before them, from a more mysterious tribe.
In this case, the use of the stone is even more speculative. It could have been anything from a territorial marker to a place of ritual sacrifice. A crossroad marker has been suggested, but where the roads led is again a mystery.
The stone stands 157 cm tall and 2.75 meters in circumference at the base. It is not a local stone, but was moved from a hill in the Ládví neighborhood, several miles away. How it was moved using primitive technology is … yes, yet another mystery.
In 1980 during some sewer construction, a second smaller stone of the same type was found completely buried and in 2006 was lifted to the surface. It now stands near the original one, on the opposite side of the fence.
The stone would have been visible from a long distance, as it was on an elevated area. Houses now block that view.
Dolní Chabry became a part of Prague in 1968. The first known photographs of the stone were made in 1914 by writer Eduard Štorch, who wrote extensively about the Stone Age and Bronze Age.
The stone is siliceous flint-like rock, with a grey and slightly reddish-orange color and quartz veins. The origin of the name Petrifed Servant (Zkamenělý slouha) is not known, but likely comes from the vague resemblance to a crouched man.
There are some 26 standing stones in central and northwestern Bohemia, with the biggest one, nearly 3 meters tall, in the town of Klobuky in Central Bohemia. This one according to legend takes a step toward a nearby church every so often and when it reaches the church the world will end.
The term menhir comes from the Breton language from the words ‘maen’ (stone) and ‘hir’ (long).
Archeological sites in the Dolní Chabry area show signs that Celts and Slavs both settled the area at different times.
Celts gave Bohemia its name, with the Boii settling in around the 400 BC, and other Celtic sites dating a little earlier to the 600 BC. The Beaker People were in Europe from 2800 BC to 1800 BC.