Standing Stone (missing): OS Grid Reference – SE 881 947
Archaeology & History
A number of standing stones were reported by regional historian Robert Knox (1855) in his antiquarian work of this area, but forestry and vandalism has seen the demise of some. This one, however, may possibly still be found, laid down somewhere on the tops, along the ridge aptly-named as Stone Hill Head. Where precisely it might be, we know not—but one of you Yorkshire antiquarian ramblers might be able to find and resurrect it by following old Mr Knox’s notes. Writing extensively of the ancient remains around nearby Blakey Topping this is what he told us of the Stone Hill Head monolith:
“The pillar…standing erect, is five and a half feet high, three broad, and from ten inches to two feet thick. This is much corroded either by natural decomposition, or designedly made so by manual labour; some of the holes in it being circular, as if intended to fit the heads of human beings into them, at the time of their immolation, while laid prostrate on the ground… This stone stands northeast from Blakey Topping, distant about six furlongs, and is the furthest pillar in this collection from that hill.”
If the real explorers amongst you manage to rediscover the stone, please let us know.
Knox, Robert, Descriptions Geological, Topographical and Antiquarian in Eastern Yorkshire, London 1855.
Although originally classed as a stone circle, this site should more accurately be described as a form of cairn circle, as burial remains were found in the middle. This is noted by both Aubrey Burl (2000) and John Barnatt (1989), who thought it to be a kerbed cairn. It’s only a small circle aswell, about 5 yards across and is found not far from other burial cairns in the neighbourhood.
First discovered around Easter in 1965 by the then owners of the farm, Mr & Mrs K. Jarman, parts of the circle were dug into by their children, who subsequently informed Sheffield City Museum of their finds. Subsequently, the circle was then described in a short article by J. Radley (1969) in ‘Notes on Archaeological Finds’ for the Yorkshire archaeology group. He wrote:
“The circle is 15ft in diameter and is made of ten stones which protrude a few inches above the turf cover. Inside the circle the ground is slightly concave. A two-feet wide trench was dug across the circle and a large stone was revealed at the centre. On the stone was a fragmented urn, remains of a cremation, and one fragment of flint. There are signs of burning on the stone, and also under the stone, but no other burial has been discovered. The whole burial was so shallow that it was in the root zone of the overlying grass. The survival of many pieces of bone in such a wet location suggests that the area must have been protected by a mound until quite recent times…
“The urn is too fragmentary to be restored. Of the hundreds of fragments, only a few retain both faces, and these are generally one centimetre thick. The urn appears to have been made of a fine clay with large grits and has a smooth brown surface marked in places with impressions of blades of grass. The urn may have been biconical in form with bands of horizontal grooves around the upper part, with vertical grooves below them.”
Barnatt, John, The Stone Circles of Britain – volume 2, British Archaeological Reports: Oxford 1989.
Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
Radley, J., “A Stone Circle on Kirkmoor Beck Farm, Fylingdales,” in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, part 167, volume 42, 1969.
Lilla Cross is situated on Fylingdales Moor, north Yorkshire, between Pickering and Whitby at the junction of two major moorland footpaths. It is located close to the Fylingdales Ballistic Missile Early Warning Station – which resemble giant golf balls on the horizon.
Archaeology & History
The ancient cross is 10 foot high and free-standing but it sits upon what is probably a ruined Bronze-Age bowl barrow called Lilla Howe; the recumbent stones that lie around the base of the cross may form part of that. It is a sturdy, stocky cross that has some letters carved onto it, one in particular being a large letter “C” possibly meaning Christos (Christ) and with that a small thin cross; there are a few other faint letters but these are difficult to decipher now. A plaque on a nearby stone gives information about the cross. I think Lilla Cross was used as a sort of Medieval milestone or way-marker – hence the lettering on the cross.
In 1952 the cross was moved to Sil Howe near Goathland but 10 years later in 1962 it was returned to its original site on top of Lilla Howe. In the 1920s excavations on the barrow revealed some artefacts of jewellery, but no remains of Edwin’s trusty chief minister were found; the jewellery was, in fact, said to date from the mid 9th century. Lilla Cross has been referred to by historians as the oldest christian cross on the north York Moors.
According to the legend, in AD 625 or 626 King Edwin of Northumbria was travelling with his entourage across the moors, but an assassin had been dispatched by the king of the west Saxons to kill Edwin. The assassin lunged forward with his poison tipped sword, but Lilla his chief minister at the king’s court, leapt in between his sovereign and the swordsman. Poor Lilla took the full thrust of the sword and died on the spot thus saving the king from being murdered. King Edwin, who was greatly impressed by this selfless act of devotion, ordered that Lilla being a newly converted christian be buried here in a christian way though he asked that a number of articles be placed with the body including gold and silver. The king then had a cross erected in memory at the spot where Lilla died. But it seems likely that the cross dates from the 10th century, though there may have been an earlier Saxon cross here. References:
Ogilvie, Elizabeth & Sleightholme, Audrey, An Illustrated Guide to the Crosses on the North Yorkshire Moors, Village Green Press: Thorganby 1994.
White, Stanhope, Standing Stones and Earthworks on the North Yorkshire Moors, Fretwell & Cox: Keighley 1987.
Woodwark, T.H., The Crosses on the North York Moors, Whitby Literary & Philosophical Society 1934.