Penshurst Acorn Stone

John, one of my regular readers, put me onto this. It’s a dressed sandstone stone at the corner of Sunny Bank Plantation at the foot of Clay Bank. The inscription says “NOV 1906 PENSHURST ACORN”. The wording occupied my thoughts on my cycle home. A boundary stone? But sandstone boundary stones are more usual on the high moors and a few generations earlier. I can not think of any 20th century boundary stones on the moors. Back home Google came up with some clues.

In Penshurst Place, in Kent there is, or was, a very famous oak tree called the Sidney Oak after Sir Philip Sidney, a prominent Elizabethan soldier, poet and courtier. I say was because it finally succumbed to old age only last year, reputed to be 1,000 years old. Does the stone mark the spot where an acorn from the Penshurst Sidney Oak was planted? There is no oak tree now growing underneath the shade of an overgrown spruce.

But is there a connection between this odd corner of Ingleby Greenhow and Penshurst Place. Well yes, in the mid 19th century, Lady Mary Foulis, only child and heiress of the last Foulis baronet, Lord of the Manor of Ingleby Greenhow, married the 2nd Lord de Lisle & Dudley of Penshurst Castle, who was a descendant of the said Sir Philip Sydney. So the two estates came to belong to the same family.

Apparently there are another 4 or 5 similar stones in the neighbourhood. I wonder if those acorns have had more success.

For those who like a scenic posting, there is a fine view of Roseberry from the stone looking almost due north, unfortunately that spruce tree prevented me from getting it as a backdrop, so a bonus today:

From Sunny Bank Plantation

Penshurst Acorn Stone map



Good Goose Thorn

On Black Dike Moor above Scaling Dam, a stone, believed to be medieval, on the boundary between the parishes of Loftus and Glaisdale and inscribed with the curious name “Good Goose Thorn”, a name which is given on the 1853 Ordnance Survey map to another boundary stone one kilometre to the south west. I see a return visit to see if this stone is also so inscribed.

Good Goose Thorn map

Fat Betty

One the best known wayside crosses on the North York Moors. This squat stone stands at the head of Rosedale on Danby Moor and also marks the boundary of the parishes of Rosedale, Danby and Westerdale. It’s traditionally whitewashed hence it’s alternative name of White Cross. Legends abound how it has acquired its rather quaint but not politically incorrect name of Fat Betty. Some say Betty was the mother superior of the nuns at Rosedale Abbey who got lost lost on the moors whilst trying to meet up with her equivalent from Baysdale Abbey.

Chambered Cairn, Great Ayton Moor

In search of the chambered cairn on Great Ayton Moor. These stones, one adorned with  modern graffiti ‘Bela Vista’, looked a likely candidate but after studying the archaeological sketches from a 1950s excavation I am now not so sure. Chambered cairns are rare, unique on the North York Moors. Eight large flat stones leaning together with a headstone to form a chamber. No skeletal remains were found but given the acid conditions that is not surprising. Pottery shards and various flint and stone objects were found. Pollen analysis helped dating the site to the Neolithic.

Chambered Cairn map

The Badger Stone

Any resemblance to a badger is purely coincidental. According to a 12th century document the name is said to be derived from ‘bacheler‘ a Middle English word for a young man. Bachelor is an obvious modern word from the same root. By 1642 it was referred to as Bagerstone in the Duke of Buckingham’s lovely titled Perambulation of Helmsley Estate Boundaries. But whether George Villers, the Duke, actually perambulated himself or whether he sent one of his minions to do the job is unknown.

The Badger Stone can found found high on Bransdale Moor above Hodge Beck which flows through Bransdale to its confluence with the River Dove south of Kirbymoorside. It’s a solitary outcrop of sandstone rocks surrounded by miles and miles of heather moorland.

Badger Stone map


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


The Nelson Stone

Or is it? I was last here in 2005 when I took a photo of the Nelson Stone a 19th century boundary stone that I seem to remember being inscribed with “NELSON STONE”. But it’s gone, disappeared like a will-o’-the-wisp. Bill Cowley in his book ‘Snilesworth’ says the name derives from the medieval name Nelehou so the remaining standing stone is likely to be the real Nelson Stone. Comparing the two photos the notch at the base of the stone is clearly obvious and of course the shooting hut in the background, a landmark visible on the ridge for miles.

Snilesworth is a vast area of managed heather moorland which until the “Right to Roam” legislation came into effect in 2000 was out of bounds. The nearest public right of way over the plateau  is 4 kilometres away which means I can not even run with my dog along the motorways that masquerade as access tracks. The name Snilesworth Moor has gained some notoriety. In 2008 the head game keeper and two of his keepers admitted to using illegal traps baited with pigeons to catch birds of prey. We saw no raptors there today.