Ruther Cross

Not my usual habitat, an housing estate in Guisborough but cycling down Hutton Lane I remembered this medieval cross tucked behind a hedge having mentioned it in a post of last year. It comprises a sandstone shaft and base. No inscriptions but several square notches. It marks the spot where the medieval trackway south left or crossed the lane to Hutton. It is surmised that the ground the track crossed was marshy until it reached beginning of the ascent of Highcliff and that Ruther Stone marked the start of a stone causeway. Another suggestion is that the stone marked the boundary of the leper colony at Hutton so travellers would skirt the boundary to avoid contact with the lepers.

Ruther Cross map


Ana Cross

On Spaunton Moor, to the north east of Hutton le Hole, Ana Cross is a ‘modern’ 19th century cross made of gritstone. The heather moorland around about is scattered with limestone boulders so gritstone must have been imported some distance. The cross replaced an earlier one, Ain Howe Cross, the top of which is now in the crypt at Lastingham church. It is thought that this was a sanctuary cross signifying the bounds within which the church’s sanctuary, providing immunity from arrest, could be claimed. This practice ended with the Reformation.



White Cross

You might be forgiven for thinking that White Cross is so named because it is white but the whitewashing has been carried out by all the boundary stones of the Dawnay Estate. The stone post is actually 19th century sandstone but the limestone base is much older probably medieval. The original Christian cross now resides in Whitby Museum. The cross can be found at the junction of two ancient roads, Smeathorns Road, linking Lingdale with Castleton and the old turnpike road from Stokesley to Whitby and a mile or so out of Commondale.

Young Ralph Cross

The iconic cross of the North York Moors; used in the National Park’s logo. It is sited at Rosedale Head and although this current cross dates from the eighteenth century, a cross has stood here as a guidepost since the thirteen century.

It is not surprising that the cross is the subject of much folklore. In one story it was erected by the nuns of Rosedale Priory. Sometime in the thirteenth century, the nuns needed to settle a dispute with their sisters from Baysdale Priory and so the two prioresses agreed to meet up at Rosedale Head, roughly mid-way between the two priories. Elizabeth, from Rosedale set off guided by a lay man called Ralph; the Baysdale prioress, Margery, set off alone.

Approaching the head of the dale a roak came down. A roak is the mist or low cloud that often clings to the summit ridges. Elizabeth and Ralph arrived first. Margery arrived at what she thought was the right spot and waited. After some time Ralph went to look for Margery leaving Elizabeth alone.

Now you may think that I’m leading up to a tragic ending but eventually the roak cleared and all three found each other safe and well. Elizabeth had Ralph Cross erected as a guide post and and herself is remembered in a squat standing stone not too far away called Fat Betty.

A nun from Rosedale also features in another legend but this time in a romantic liaison with a monk from Farndale. It was as this spot that they frequently met until their superiors found out, when they both came to tragic ends. Quite un-Christian.

A third story comes from Danby. Another dale, another story. Ralph, a farmer from Danby, found a penniless traveller’s body at this spot. It so upset him that he erected this cross and had a hollow carved out at the top for wealthy travellers to leave coins for those less fortunate. The hollow is still there but nowadays any coins left are quickly pocketed.

And finally it is said that if three kings ever meet at Old Ralph Cross then the world will end.

There is another cross close by which is also named as Ralph so to distinguish it is referred to as Old Ralph Cross. This cross is smaller, just 5 feet high and also dates from the thirteenth century. It is said to be a memorial to another Ralph, the bishop of Guisborough.

Jenny Bradley

A pair of standing stones on Greenhow Moor. The smaller one is the remains of a medieval cross  going by the name of Jenny Bradley. It would have been much higher and probably in the form of an actual cross. It was erected on the old packhorse route from Baysdale Abbey to Ryedale which would have followed the ancient drovers road of Thurkilsti.

But who was Jenny Bradley? I have found two possible etymologies. One is that Bradley is a derivation of ‘broad ley’ meaning a broad track. Another is that it means ‘breadless’ or a beggar. Neither explains the Jenny. I’m not convinced by either.

The larger stone is inscribed with ‘F 1838’ on the south face and ‘SIR W FOWELS’ on the north. This would stand for the Feversham estate and Sir William Foullis who was the baronet at the time. The estate stretched all the way south to Duncombe Park at Helmsley.

The stones also mark the boundary of the civil parishes of Westerdale, Ingleby Greenhow and Farndale.

Donna Cross

An old boundary stone sited on the col between Cringle Moor and Cold Moor above Kirby-in-Cleveland. Only a stump is left set in a socket on a natural boulder. The boulder is inscribed ‘E’ (for the Emmerson of Easby Hall) and ‘F’ (for the Faversham estate). The stone is on the ancient packhorse route from Stokesley south into Bilsdale.

Link to map.