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.
Various ways to get here, but I suppose the easist is by walking along the path just above the woods from the main A61 road, where there’s the junction turn-off to Wike. You have to walk perhaps 1000 yards until eventually, a couple of hundred yards up the slope to your left (south) you’ll see the boulder stuck in the field. You’re there!
Archaeology & History
Described first by Cowling & Hartley in 1960, this multiple-ringed carving gives the distinct impression that it aint quite as old as our more traditional cup-and-rings on the moors west and north of here – but I s’ppose we’ll never know for sure. There isn’t a central cup to this concentric-ringed carving, which is quite unusual, and which is why I get the impression that it’s from a later archaeological period. However, saying that, there are several other faint cup-markings on the southwest and east-faces of the boulder (which I forgot to photograph when I was there – idiot that I am!). Boughey and Vickerman (2003) illustrate as many as 18 other cup-marks on the rock surface – which they list as stone 399 in their survey.
Although there seems to be no folklore attached to this isolated carving, rock-art authority Graeme Chappell noted how “the midwinter full moon set behind Almscliffe Crags at its extreme northerly setting point in Bronze Age times” from this Grey Stone.
The archaeologist S.A. Moorhouse (1981) also pointed out how some of the many Grey Stones (which usually means ‘a boundary stone’, sometimes very ancient ones) found in northern England, derive their name from the word har, which “can also mean ‘grey, hoar,’ used to describe natural boulders, possibly with cup-and-ring markings” – just as we have here!
Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
Cowling, E.T. & Hartley, C.E., ‘A Ring-Marked Rock: The Grey Stone,’ in YAJ 1960.
Moorhouse, S.A., ‘Boundaries,’ in Faull & Moorhouse’s West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey, volume 2, 1981.