A Charter in the time of King John allowed for markets to be held in Harewood from 1209 CE onwards, “on the first day of July and the two following days, and also to hold one market there every week on the Monday.” But whether or not a market cross was erected that far back, we don’t quite know. Certainly, the edifice illustrated by John Jones (1859) in his standard work on Harewood didn’t date from such an early period! It stood close to the old road junction to Wetherby in old Harewood village, “a little below the intersection of the roads, and about fifty yards higher up than the market house.” Jones told us:
“It stood upon a large stone pedestal, and was approached by a quadrangular flight of seven steps, very broad, where the neighbouring farmers used to stand, and dispose of their butter, fowls, eggs, &c. It was re-erected, AD 1703, by John Boulter, Esq., and in the year 1804, when the road was lowered, it was taken down and destroyed. This is to be regretted, it might have been re-erected in another situation, if that was inconvenient, and would have been in the present day, not only an ornament to the village but a relic of the past, of which the villagers might have been justly proud. On the top of this cross there was a knur and spell, a game for which the village was celebrated in old times, while close to the toll booth there was a strong iron ring fastened to a large stone, where the villagers used to enjoy the barbarous amusement of bull baiting.”
Bogg, Edmund, Lower Wharfeland, J. Sampson: York 1904.
Jones, John, The History and Antiquities of Harewood, Simpkin Marshall: London 1859.
Speight, Harry, Lower Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1902.
In the lovely village that is the Crook of Devon, go down Church Lane, past the houses, until you meet with the dirt-track on your left that runs straight up beneath a grove of trees heading into the green fields. Go up here 100 yards until you meet another track that goes sharp left. Just here, 10 yards along, a solitary tree sits by the wall; and just past it is a large boulder up against the walling. This is the Bull Stone!
Archaeology & History
If you didn’t know owt about this place, you wouldn’t even give it a second-thought. A decent-sized rock, obviously broken-up and then plastered back together again, is innocuously resting up against the wall. But it appears to have had some significance in bygone centuries, although its full story has yet to be recovered. It was described in the Royal Commission (1933) report for antiquities, where they told:
“Built against the dike on the north side of an old roadway, half a mile to the south of Crook of Devon, is a huge sandstone boulder known as ‘The Bull Stone.’ It is probably an old boundary mark or, like the Leslie Stone…it may have some association with the old-time pastime of bull-baiting. The stone was broken up a number of years ago, and the fragments were carted away to be built up in another dike hard by, but, in response to public agitation, they were returned to the original site and cemented together. The boulder rises 3½ feet above ground and has a girth of about 13 feet at the base. It is not set up vertically, but lies on its side.”
It may originally have been a standing stone as local lore tells that it once stood as high as a grown man, but is now only half that size. It may have been one of the meeting places of the legendary witches at the Crook of Devon, but this is guesswork on my behalf (so best ignored!).
Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, HMSO: Edinburgh 1933.