Peculiarity of Character: part 1

 Clair Shields – Planning Officer (Building Conservation)

The majority of the Listed Buildings across the North York Moors are traditional houses, cottages or farmsteads constructed of local stone with pantile or slate roofs.


However, the North York Moors also hold a number of more unusual and peculiar structures, listed for their special interest and historic value.

Stone crosses

There are approximately 150 crosses and standing stones on the moorland of the North York Moors. The crosses tend to be the earlier structures dating back to the mediaeval period (mid-10th to mid-16th centuries) while the majority of the standing stones were erected in the 18th century (so not to be confused with prehistoric standing stones). The crosses and erected stones marked boundary points between parishes, property or settlements; and/or acted as way markers across featureless moorland keeping the traveller on the right path (with a heartening Christian symbol).

The most iconic cross on the North York Moors is Young Ralph’s Cross – the National Park’s emblem; but there are many more with peculiar names such as Fat Betty, Catter Stone, Pricket Thorne.

National Park Commission Summer 2008imagesCA8CBUHB

Fat Betty is a wheel head cross (incorporating a circular shape) of the 10th or 11th century which make it the only surviving example of this type in the region. It is still in its original position on a road across the Danby Moors, as attested by a 13th century charter. The cross also marks the meeting point of the three original parishes of Danby, Westerdale and Rosedale.he1

The National Park Authority has grant aided the repair of a number of split boundary stones by fixing the two pieces of stone together with a steel dowel embedded in epoxy resin (used because both materials are inert and won’t rust and crack the stone like iron would) and also worked hard to keep the whitened ones painted, so conserving these landscape features which still aid navigation across the misty moors.

Mileposts and Finger Posts

Milestones and fingerposts are a relic of our transport heritage over the centuries; the variety of styles reflecting local materials and designs. Their existence dates back to Roman times when metalled roads were laid to move soldiers and supplies across the Empire, measuring distances to aid timing and efficiency – every 1,000th double step would be marked.

Most of the North York Moors’ mileposts are of 19th century origin, triangular in shape, cast iron construction and generally those which are listed were manufactured by F Mattison & Co of Bedale.

Last year, the local LEADER Programme and North Yorkshire County Council’s Highways & Transportation Department carried out a jointly funded project to restore some of the most vulnerable posts to ensure these historic features continue to survive in villagescapes and landscapes.

beths pics 059Roman Road after (2)IMG_0302




Shooting Box, Roseberry Topping

Situated at the foot of Roseberry Topping, this building which is known as a shooting afterbox or banqueting house was built for the local landowner, Captain Wilson, to shelter members of the gentry who visited this romantic spot for picnics and shooting expeditions. Providing far reaching views northwards on a clear and sunny day you won’t find many places as idyllic as this. The National Park recently managed the restoration of the building in partnership with Natural England who funded the repairs. Anyone who has tried to shelter here recently will know that the wind whistles through the building and the ensuing microclimate had caused severe erosion of the internal walls. Deeply eroded joints between stones were galletted (packed out with slips of stone) and then lime pointed and a damaged section of the cornice was replaced.

T’awd Abba Well, near Hawsker

WellAlso known as The Old Boiling Well, this feature is probably of 18th century origin and isn’t necessarily that prepossessing. However it was the original spring which fed Whitby Abbey (which helps explain the following rhyme). A plaque on the gable end, now replaced, used to read; 

“T’awd Abba Well (also known as The Old Boiling Well). Lang centuries aback.

This wor t’awd Abba well. Saint Hilda, veiled i’ black. Lang centuries aback.

Supped frey it, an no lack. All t’Sisterhood as well. Lang centuries aback.

This wor t’awd Abba well.”

3 thoughts on “Peculiarity of Character: part 1

  1. Pingback: Peculiarity of Character: part 2 | The official blog for the North York Moors National Park

  2. Pingback: Last year’s top 5 posts | The official blog for the North York Moors National Park

  3. Pingback: A to Z – a collection of Cs | The official blog for the North York Moors National Park

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.