Devil’s Apronful, Appletreewick, North Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SE 07485 59355

Getting Here

Devils Apronful on 1853 map
Devils Apronful on 1853 map

An excellent spot with fantastic views. There’s many ways to approach the place, but a good one is from the roadside by Howgill, then following the track uphill until you reach the moor, then head towards the spectacular and legendary, Simon’s Seat (which folklore ascribes to be named after the great druid, Simon Magus). You’ll pass an old Grey Stone (two large rocks) from which you can espy the old tomb if you stand on top of ’em. Keep walking uphill and it’s about 100 yards off the footpath to your right. A large boulder is nestled just beneath the tomb itself, which stands out on a ridge.

Archaeology & History

When Harry Speight visited here (1900) he described it as being 40 yards in circumference. He also described “an upright stone below the cairn” with apparent cup-markings on the west-side.  I’m not quite sure where this has got to – but the site has shrunk somewhat since Speight’s day.  It’s only about 20 feet across now, and the middle of it has been hollowed into a grouse-shooting butt for the toffs!

About 100 yards southeast (towards the Truckle Stones) are the remains of some neolithic walling in a straight line.


One of many old tombs in our northern hills said to have been created by the devil who, as usual, accidentally dropped some stones he was carrying. The old folklorist Thomas Parkinson (1888) said the following of this place:

“The Apronful of Stones is a group of rocks heaped together in delightful confusion, their disorder and name being thus explained:  Once upon a time—whether when he built the bridge over the valley, or at some other time, the record saith not—the Devil was determined to fill up the ravine, or gill, of the Dibble. For this purpose he was carrying these enormous crags in his apron, when, too intent upon his object to properly observe where he placed his feet, he caught with one foot upon the top of Nursa Knott, and, stumbling, the strings of the apron broke, and the contents were thrown upon the ground as they now appear. It is also said of them that if any of them, even now, were to be removed, they would certainly be brought back to their original place during the succeeding night.”

Another legend tells that the Devil’s Apronful is also the grave of some local unnamed hero.


  1. Parkinson, Thomas, Yorkshire Legends and Traditions – volume 1, Elliott Stock: London 1888.
  2. Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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