The organisation places the date of the stones to be 13th or 14th century. KDHSO president Aram A Krishnan told DTNext, “It is rare because it was in honour of brave women going for a battle. Usually, hero stones were installed to honour a war hero or king who got killed in battle. Some of such stones have a woman standing by the hero’s side.”
“While we talk of brave warrior queens like Jhansi Rani in the North, the hero stones we discovered stand testimony to the fact the we too had brave women rulers as well here in the past,” he added.
The stones are placed in a small temple at a walkable distance from the bus stop at Sandhanapalli village, which is about 10 km from Denkanikottai on the Pettamukilam Road.
“We identified two such hero stones in the place. One of them had three women riding on horses with weapons inside a stone room. The other stone found nearby depicted two women on horseback,” Krishnan explained.
The main hero stone with the three women was housed in a 3.5 feet high and 10 feet wide square stone structure. The panel with the figures was 3.5 feet high and four feet wide. “Villagers call it Banniamman temple, named after the deity outside the structure. They were not aware that it was a hero stone. They had been worshipping the idols without knowing their significance,” he said.
The history buff said that the hero stone could be from the 13th century. However, the stones do not have any supporting inscriptions that would help in identifying the era to which they belonged and who they were.
“Of the three women in the stone panel, the one in the middle looked like a queen or a woman who ruled that region as there is an umbrella above her head. The two other women on horses before and after her could be officials or warriors in the next rank. The women had a small weapon in their right hand. A male warrior is also seen in front of the first horse and could be their guardian,” Krishnan said.
Apart from Krishnan, the KDHSO team which inspected the stones include Manjunath, Piriyan, Srinivas, Kamaraj, Sivakumar and Murugeshapandian. They sought the help of senior retired archaeologists R Poongundran, Veeraraghavan, T Subramanian and A Padmavathi to get a better understanding of the hero stones. The members were planning to document the stones and send it to the Archaeology Department.