Legend of the Fairy Stone

fairy stone 3

Growing up, I thought everyone had a fairy stone. My mother kept hers in the box that held her most treasured jewelry. She’d take it out from time-to-time and lay the cross-shaped stone in my hand. It was cool and brown, lightly polished with a metal loop on top but otherwise imperfect, raw, like it had just been pulled from the ground.

“This cross wasn’t made by man,” Mother would tell me.

Every time, I was amazed. I’d studied rocks in school. I’d pulled them from countless river beds. I’d never seen stones like this, but she said that there were many of them and that they were created by heartbroken fairies.

Many years ago, the fairies were happy, she’d explain. They lived in the woods not far away and were dancing when a stranger came. He’d traveled the world, and he stopped to tell them about the things he’d seen–great pyramids, rivers as wide as seas, and the saddest death ever.

A man who said he was the son of God had spent his life healing people and spreading love. ”Jesus,” I’d whisper. Mother would say, “Yes, Jesus,” and continue. The stranger told the fairies that some men were afraid of Jesus and threatened by him, so they captured him and nailed his hands and feet to a cross. They whipped him, starved him, and let him die.

The fairies had never heard anything so sad. They began to weep and when their magic tears splashed against the earth, they suddenly crystallized and were frozen forever in the shapes of little crosses.

Fairy Stone State Park. Photo provided by “hsarik” on Flickr.

I’d squeeze the rock in my hand, certain that it was an ancient fairy tear and wonder if I could find a fairy stone of my own. I searched every stand of trees in our suburban neighborhood and kept my eyes to the ground whenever we were in the woods. I never found one, but maybe I just wasn’t looking in the right place.

This Wednesday, June 6, Fairy Stone State Park in southwest Virginia will host a fairy stone hunt and a necklace making workshop. The park, named after the famous keepsakes found within its borders, is one of a kind. Stones form like crosses in other places, but they are only found in abundance at this one park, and, of course, nowhere else has built such a endearing story around the stones.

Geologically speaking, the stones are staurolite, a combination of silica, iron and aluminum. According to the Virginia State Parks website, staurolite crystallizes at 60 or 90 degree angles, creating the stone’s cross-like structure. The mineral, which is only found in rocks that have been subjected to great heat and pressure, was formed during the rise of the Appalachian Mountains.

As a grown up, I think the truth behind the stones is nearly as enthralling as the myth. What about you? Did you hear the legend of the fairy stones when you were little? Do you have a fairy stone of your own? Have you ever visited the park?

It would be great to hear about your experiences with these enchanting little rocks.

19 Comments

  • Okey Simmons

    I’ve heard this before & have had a cross, or many really that I sold. It is a unique thing to see them still embedded in the rock! Thanks for the “truth” but I’d rather believe the fairies!

  • Uncle

    I was heartbroken after my last move when I couldn’t find my Fairystone. I guess I’ll have to take a ride down 220 some day, but it won’t be the same. I had that little cross for years.

  • LeeLee

    I love this story. As a geologist I find the rocks and minerals pretty cool too though. I have two of them and I sware I think one of them is bad luck. I try not to even bring it out of its location in my jewlery box. I have never been to the park but I have always planned to go. Maybe I can take my little bad luck rock and put it back in its home! LOL

  • Jan W.

    I am wearing my fairy stone necklace right now. A friend admired it last night at church and I was reminded of the legend of the fairy stone that my Father shared with me when I was very young. I shared that legend with my friend. My Father was so enchanted with fairy stones that he took the whole family to Fairy Stone Park and helped us to find our own. I have one in my jewelry box at home that I found on that trip so long ago. The one I wear every day belonged to my Mother. Both of my parents have passed on now, but the little cross around my neck reminds me that one day we will be reunited.

  • Emile Chartier

    Hello I have wanted a fairy stone all my life and i am 57 so this summer I did the trip and with luck on my side I now have one and I also found a rock with many inside, I have it on me all the time it is very special to me.

    I am from Winnipeg Canada

  • marklynn

    Emile, that’s amazing! Such a long trip, but one that I’m sure you’ll remember forever. How did you hear about fairy stones originally?

  • Tribecca A

    I got my first fairy stone from one of my mom’s, friends and ever since I, never took my eyes off of it. Every time I went to fairy stone park or camping I would take the stone with me! reading your story was truly great I wear the stone as a necklace and not once did I lose it or had took it off around my neck.

  • Robin

    My grandmother was a rock/shell/fossil hound and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. She always had, among her other geologic treasures, a few fairy stones. I am a grandmother now and next week will make the trip to search for my own fairy stones to join my bowls and baskets of geologic treasures. So excited…

  • Janet Lucas Winslow

    I had a Fairy Cross for years. I have no idea where it was found – or what happened to it. When a friend graduated from VMI, my daughter found one in a gift shop. I have no idea what she paid for it, but the love she showed me, proved to me that what she felt for me was a love as great as the the love I will always feel for her.

  • Sona Chambers

    Yes my Mom told me about the fairy crosses when I was little girl also. I went to school at Appalachian State and found them while there in the NC Mountains. I now live in Atlanta, GA and find them in Mineral Rock, Ga. They are actually the state mineral of Georgia and each one has energy all of its own. I think they are one of the most fascinating crystals I have ever found which is why I collect them and wrap them in gold, silver and gold or plain silver. Please check out my website if interested in owning one of these little gems.

  • char

    Can u go to Appalachian mtns anytime ti find a fairy stone? how much r they if u do find one/some? id like some as gifts ti give as well.

  • Mark Lynn Ferguson

    Hey, Char. I believe admission to Fairy Stone State Park is free. And while it has gotten harder over the years to find the stones, I think you can just pick them up off the ground and put them in your pockets. Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong about that.

  • Emily Moore

    In November, over my kid’s Thanksgiving break, my whole extended family is going to my Mom’s house about an hour away from Fairy Stone. So… everyone is going to TRY to look for fairy stones. My daughter and I are printing out the story for all of the cousins were buying drawstring bags for those things we don’t want to carry or lose. Any suggestions?

  • Karen

    You can find the stones in the woods next to the old gas station near the entrance of fairy stone state park. When we went hunting for them we met a wonderful park ranger who showed us how to find them. The ones you can find loose in the dirt are weathered and somewhat unrecognizable. We brought home some large chunks of rock that had little fairy stones peeking out of them. We soaked those large chunks in water for a few days, and used a dental scraper and steak knife to free the stones from the soft matrix. The stones we collected this way are perfect! They have sharp angles, no broken segments, etc. They are just as pretty as the ones they had displayed in the gift shop. We had a lovely vacation, the campsites were nice, bathrooms were clean, and our dog was welcome too! We highly recommend a stay at fairystone.

  • Emily Moore

    Thank you so much for those tips! Fairy-stone hunting was great! Just like Karen, an amazing ranger helped my nephew find some big chunks of dirt. We soaked them in some dish washing detergent and the big chunks of dirt turned to 50 or so fairy stones! All and all we had a great time! Sorry I’m just getting back to you, my daughter has had braces put in and it’s been hectic here! Thanks again!

  • Anonymous

    I heard about Fairy Stones will watching my beloved “The Walton’s” on DVD. I am adding Fairy Stone Park to my bucket list right now.

  • KyadW

    Recently, my granddaughter & her friend have become enthralled with the idea of fairies & with the belief that there are particular fairies who visit them from time to time & bring them gifts (the girls of course, reciprocate). I have several Fairy Stones I got – don’t remember from where – while I was in school at ASU(c/o ’81) as well. Last week, I pulled them out & for a special birthday surprise, beaded matching fairy stone necklaces for both girls. They were a huge hit! Now I am feeling compelled to plan a trip to hunt for fairy stones. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a weekend with the grandkids!

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