Monday, 18 November 2013


The Maiden Stone

The Maiden Stone at Pitcaple near Inverurie in Scotland, of pink granite stands 10 feet tall and is one of the finest examples of a Pictish cross slab in Aberdeenshire. It dates from about the 9th century.  
The creation of the stone is subject of a local legend when The Maiden of Drumdurno made a wager with a stranger that she could bake a firlot of meal before he could build a road to the top of the local Benachie hill.  The stranger was the Devil and of course he finished the road before the bread was baked.  The maiden fled and as the Devil caught up with her she uttered a prayer to God.  At once she was turned to stone and the place where the Devil touched her shoulder is still marked by the cleft in the stone.


Sueno’s stone


This huge sandstone pictish cross slab stands on the eastern side of Forres in Scotland. Standing some 21 feet in height the stone has a Celtic cross on one side and a large battle scene on the other. Although the origin is uncertain, it may be that the stone commemorates the defeat of Malcolm 11 by Norse warriors led by Sueno in 1008.

Local legend says that it stands at the cross roads where Macbeth originally met with the three witches who were eventually imprisoned inside the stone.

The Eagle Stone

The Eagle Stone is a Pictish Symbol Stone which stands on a grassy hill in Nutwood Lane, overlooking the Scottish village of Strathpeffer in Easter Ross. Dating to the 7th century, the Clach an Tiompain or standing stone stands 32” high, 24” wide and 10” thick has two symbols carved on its face – an eagle (which gives the stone its name) and what may be a horse shoe or an arch. There are various legends about the stone but it is thought that it may have been used in marriage ceremonies or indeed may have commemorated a particular marriage. Originally the stone was sited lower down the valley and was moved to its present position in 1411 to commemorate a battle between the Munro’s and the MacDonald’s on the site of today’s village. Apparently this stone was the subject of a prophecy by Coinneach Odhar, known as the Brahan Seer,(see seperate pic), who, in the 17th century predicted that “ when the Eagle Stone falls three times, the waters will come so far that ships will be moored to the stone ”. It is said that the stone has been moved twice but is now firmly cemented in place.

The Eagle Stone

The Verbeia Altar
The iconic Verbeia Altar is a well weathered stone which is now finally preserved in the Old Manor House alongside the church at Ilkley, on the site of the Roman Fort of Olicana, an important crossing of the River Wharfe (Roman Trajectus). The altar bears a worn Roman inscription which translates to " To holy Verbeia, Clodius Fronto, Prefect of the 2nd Cohort of Ligones, dedicated this." It is thought that Verbeia was Godess of the River Wharfe. Legend has it that Clodius Fronto survived when he fell into the turbulent water at this deep ford in the river and dedicated this altar to the Godess.




The  Rudston  Monolith


Close to the east end of the parish church of All Saints at Rudston near Bridlington in East Yorkshire is Rudston Monolith  said to be the tallest of all Britain’s standing stones.  This huge, roughly cut, block of grit-stone, measures some 50 feet, with half of it above and half  below the ground, with a girth of some 16 feet.

So what is it doing at this location?  Local tradition says that the devil, angered by the building of a monument to his adversary, hurled this stone javelin at the church.  By divine intervention his aim was deflected and the stone landed in its present position deeply embedded in the ground.

On the other hand it may have been left there by glacial action, it certainly was not local but is thought to have originated several miles away on the coast at Cayton Bay near Scarborough.  Another theory is that it was erected by Bronze Age men for some ritualistic purpose, being later adapted by early Christians as a cross or ruud,  thus giving the village its name.

The Ruud Stone






The Barmby Wart Stone


Another curious standing stone can be seen opposite the church porch at Barmby Moor near Pocklington in East Yorkshire.  Just under five feet in height this stone is known locally as ‘The Wart Stone’.  Rain water sometimes gathers on the top of the stone and local legend has it that this water is a certain cure for warts.  Although very little is known about the stone, it would seem to be a prehistoric monolith, probably of some religious or Pagan significance.
The Wart Stone

The Long Stoop


The Long Stoop is a wayside marker stone alongside the roundabout at the entrance to Leeds & Bradford Airport at Yeadon, Leeds. An information plaque reads :

‘This marker stone (Long Stoop) erected hundreds of years ago to guide travellers towards an ancient settlement at Dene Head to the east, was moved from its earlier site 186 yards to the south west in the year 1984 for runway extensions.’
 The Long Stoop



Ralph  Cross


Many large stone crosses can be seen on the North York Moors where they were used as waymarkers over this once inhospitable area.  The 17th century  Ralph  Cross, which  is situated at the junction of ancient pathways on Blakey Ridge, has a hollow on top where money could be left for needy travellers.   It is now the symbol of the National Park.

Ralph Cross

The Drummer Boy

It has always been thought that there is an underground passage connecting Richmond Castle with Easby Abbey just one mile away on the Banks of the River Swale. The story goes that towards the end of the 18th century, soldiers at the castle found the entrance to the tunnel under the keep. It was so small that they had to use a small regimental drummer by to gain access. He was told to follow the tunnel, beating his drum as he went, to enable the soldiers to follow the route from above. Apparently the plan was successful in that the drum was clearly heard for half a mile in the direction of Easby Abbey, but then ceased and the drummer boy was never seen again. The supposed tunnel has never been found, but The Drummer Boy Stone marks the exact spot where the drumming was said to have ceased near to Easby Wood on the east bank of Swale.

 The Drummer Boy Stone

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