Ringstone Wood, Howden, East Yorkshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 748 282?

Archaeology & History

I’ve looked and looked for info on this seemingly lost site, but have found very little.  It lent its name to the very woodland within, or on whose edges, it could once be found.  First described as early as 1284 in the ‘Calendar of Patent Rolls’ – where is appeared as ‘Ringestainhirst‘ – and then in the Testamenta Eboracensia in 1391, it is mentioned several other times before falling into nothing but literary memory in the middle of the 19th century.

We don’t know for sure where the circle was located, though one Latin reference describes it in proximity to a hermitage once known as St. Mary Magdalen’s Chapel at Howden: “heremitae de Ryngstanhyrste.”  The site would likely have been on the highest point in the locality, which may put it where the great church now stands, or perhaps on the more northern and western outskirts of the township.  Are there any Howden historians reading this who might be able to throw a bit more light on the issue?

The great place-name authority A.H. Smith (1937) thought that the Ringstone Hurst (woodland) at Howden got its name from a “wood near the circular stone”; but modern etymologists would place a  much greater likelihood that the woodland owed its name to the now lost stone circle that was once in this locality.


  1. Raine, James (ed.), Testamenta Eboracensia; or, Wills Registered at York, J.B. Nichols: London 1836.
  2. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the East Riding of Yorkshire, Cambridge University Press 1937.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian