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.

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  • 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!

  • SJM

    I have one of these that I got from my Paternal Grandmother.

  • Shannon Bondurant

    April 22 2014
    Our family took this trip during spring break. We didn’t expect to find the number of crosses that we did. The last one I picked up was a perfect Roman cross, about half an inch high. I feel blessed!

  • Mike

    My bride and I took a day trip to Fairystone State Park last week, and we found a couple handfuls of the fairy stones on the ground. There is an entry fee for the park. We paid $4 to park and hike in the park. They do not want you to hunt for stones in the main park areas, as it would destroy the beautiful park that is there for you to camp, fish, hike, boat, swim, and enjoy. They have some stones in the gift shop that you can pick up and feel to know what they look and feel like before you go hunting to ensure you actually find the real thing. They offer you directions to the one location that they allow you to “hunt” for the stones. It is about 3 miles down route 57 E on the left from the park. You park to the left of the Fairy Stone Pitstop gas station. There is a sign for the Fairy Stone State Park, and a trail head to follow to the left of the building. You can park there for free, and it is a nice hike, but not handicap accessible. You can find fairy stones along the trail head there. We did not have to dig for the stones, but it sounds like (based on above comments) that digging for them will produce less weathered stones than the ones we found. I had purchased a ball cap with a zipper pocket in it from the park gift shop that had an embroidered stone on it with the name of the park. I was hunting for the stones, and said that I needed a “lucky fairy stone” for my hat to make it my “lucky hat”. No sooner than those words left my lips, I found a double St. Andrews cross shaped fairy stone on the ground at my feet. I placed the stone in that pocket, and commenced to finding another 40 or so stones on my hunt. Now that I know you can dig for them to find more pristene versions, I am sure I will return to hunt for more. My bride is a “Rock Hound”, so I know that she will accompany me on this journey! Good luck to all who hunt for the stone and its legend! For Lee Lee, you should return the stone to its rightful location. It apparently wants to go home. This might bring you the best luck of your life (if you believe in these sort of things)!

  • Carol

    I moved to Patrick County in 1996, but worked at R J Reynolds Patrick County Memorial Hospital for 3 years before moving my mobile home down here. I had heard a lot about the fairy stones from some of the local people. I was told that this was the only place they were found. Of course I found out that was not true. They are found all over the world, but I think Patrice County and Fairy Stone Park make people aware of them. When I finally moved down here I moved in next to a wonderful person (a nurse at the hospital where I was also working.) we slowly became friends(she worked 2nd shift and I worked rotating shifts on 2nd shift one night a week. She introduced me to the Fairy Stones behind the service station on 57. Showed me what to look for and I was hooked. We go often. It’s best after a good rain. We have stopped at the museum in Horsepasture,Va. several times. The gentleman who owns the museum is very wonderful to talk to. He still shows people around the museum, but has it for sale. Just talking to him is very informative for those of us who love the Fairy Stone. I have quite a collection of them in all shapes and sizes and make jewelry with some of them. The ones I have are the ones you can pick up off the ground. They are hardened and their shape can not be changed like the ones that are dug up. I was told by a park employee that it cost $100.00 for a permit to dig in the park. If I am wrong about that would someone let me know. I like the ones that come to the surface naturally. I do not like the ones they sell in the gift shops. I love the story about the fairies tears. It brings tears to my eyes every time i read it.

  • G. Leigh

    The gas station on 57 was owned by Mr. Haynes, at least up until he retired a few years ago. The land right behind him was owned by him as well. Perhaps the park has recently purchased it from him?

    I grew up just down the road from there and thought everybody knew someplace where you could just find them laying on the ground. It wasn’t until I moved away for college and was telling a friend about how I got mine, that I realized they were not as common as I thought.


    I remember years ago,our Grandfather came back to Pittsburgh from a trip and brought some of the Fairy Stones back. Yesterday my sister showed me one that our Grandfather gave her before He passed away. He said it would bring her Good-Luck. I away’s remember our Grandfather having them, so the Wife and I went years ago and dug some up behind the Gas-Station Grandpa talked about. My Wife still has them in a box,and my Sister wears her’s on a Necklace to Church all the time. James Adelman

  • Bonnie Flippin

    My mom had a bowl of fairy stones that she kept in the dining room with our fine china. Her mom was from West Virginia. I remember it being said that they found them in a river. Must have been at your park! Maybe I’ll ask my mom and we should go back now that I’m an adult.

  • Joy

    Is there anywhere to buy Fairy Stones? I live out of state now but was raised in Buchanan County Virginia.

  • Catherine Spence

    Hi Joy. If you’ll send me your address, I’ll be glad to send you some fairystones. We live not far from Fairystone State Park and it’s no trouble to get you some. Email me: cjsnoopy@outlook.com

  • Sarah

    My mom was hanging out with one of her friends. One that I figured to be Wiccan, I was right. My mom was talking to her friend and her friend said that she had a fairy stone. She went inside the house to retrieve the stone, when she came back out of the house she handed the stone to my mom and said “This needs to be with your daughter, it told me it needed to be with your daughter”.

  • Berta

    My story of family Stone Mountain is that my mother live in Virginia when she was little. When I was nine years old we went to the mountain 1967. When we arrive my mother was so happy to go looking for rocks with fairy stones. There was a man who let you in I didn’t pay much attention. You stay there for very long time looking for rocks and by the time we were finished we had at the big box of rocks. When we got down the mountain the man look very surprised . When he saw how many we had found.Then he asked my mother didn’t you hear the rattlesnakes. She said no and I guess those fairy stones must be very lucky!!

  • Annette

    Hello everyone,

    I am a Canadian and up here we also have “Fairy Stones”. Ours are found in the Harricana River in Abitibi, Quebec. The beauty of the difference in the formations is wonderful. The Canadian Fairy Stones were created when the Glaciers receded. They are rounded and have a multitude of shapes. On one side there are tiny fossils while the other is smooth. They are made from sand and clay. Check it out.

    I love the story of the cross-shaped Fairy Stones.

    How wonderful nature is.

  • Fayme

    I would like to purchase a Fairy Stone. Is there a retail shooi can get in touch with? Please pass along a Name,email address of FB page or phone #.
    Thanks for your help!

  • Thomas Brown

    During my career in the Air Force my wife and I collected many items from all over the world. But a pocket watch left to me by my father with a fairy stone attached to the chain is my most cherished possession. Dad worked on the railroad during my early years in Richlands and told me the story of the fairy stones when I was young. I will leave it to my son.

  • Amanda

    Just heard about this stones and find them facinating.. seeing many on ebay one day hope to find one of my own.. very cool!! i think if i drove straight with out stopping its like 14 hrs to get to Fairy Stone State park.. from Ontario Canada… would love to find one to show my kids!!

  • kc

    I have a fairy stone I bought when i was in elementary school in the early 60s….somehow i have managed to keep it and it is one of my most favorite possessions…my bff at the time had one also…love them.

  • Jeanne Horton

    I have a Fairystone. I have had it for many, many years, maybe 55 years. It is as the original author described. I spent many days at Fairystone Park as a child and teen- ager. What a wonderful place to swim, picnic and keep cool in the hot summer. Fairystone is one of my favorite childhood memories. My mother and I took my son there when he was small because we thought he should experience the park as well. I know at least four generations of my family have been there, but maybe more because my great grand parents were from the Bassett area.

  • jonathan carpenter

    The legend is that these fairy crosses were created on the trail of tears, When the Cherokee Nation was evicted from the Carolinas every tear that touched the ground on the way to Oklahoma formed a FAIRY CROSS.

  • Joan mcminn

    My sister inlaw went camping up there in May and passed them out after my brother passed away, he too was a rock hound I will cherish mine for ever

  • Carol Feist

    When I was about 10 in 1948 my mother representing California went to a national PTA convention where each PTA group was asked to bring favors to be passed out representing their state or area. The PTA representatives from Virginia brought little boxes inscribed with the jewelry story “Henebry’s” and inside each was a Virginia Fairy Stone. My mother gave me hers. I still have it and take it out and look at it fondly, but I think I will have a link put on it and wear it as a necklace. I have married, moved 6 times, and now live in Washington. It is still so precious to me! Where is this park in Virginia?

  • Mark Lynn Ferguson

    Hi, Carol. That is the sweetest story. The park is in Southwest, Virginia.

  • Tink

    I’m a christian, and I am so glad that you had Jesus in that story! I LOVE fairies and have always wanted to see one.

  • Jacqueline

    I r got my first ferry stone three years ago . A dear man James A, brought me to the Ferry Stone park. It was one of the most amazing things I have come across. I have several ferry stones. I am told to carry it in my pocket in time the staurolite crystallizes down to form the mineral which h looks like a cross. I thank James for sharing this experience with me.

  • Rebecca Schaberg

    My son’s grandfather, William Jerome Meade, told me of this place, Fairy Stone Park 2 weeks ago. I was inquiring with him for MyHeritage.com information to add to our ancestry registry. He said it was his favorite place as a young man, though he had to think for some time before he remembered it. I think it had been a very long time since he’d thought of that place. He died 2 days ago. Upon looking into the info he provided I found this amazing story and legend. It will be held precious to our family.

  • Karen

    I have a question, more so than a comment. Are you able to mail these fairy stones? I would love to have one, but am unable to get to VA. Thank you.

  • Mark Lynn Ferguson

    Hi Karen. You might Google “buy fairy stones.” I’ve seen them for sale online. Best of luck!

  • Laurie

    A friend of mine told me he is taking his young son to Fairystone park soon. What he didn’t know is my grandparents once owned fairystone motel in Martinsville VA. I brought him the 3 I have and our conversation stired up some great childhood memorieso, your article did too. Thanks

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