The Giant’s Lapstone was a large boulder on the southern slope of the Basedale Beck valley at Hob Hole. The boulder was described by Blakeborough as Hanging, as though balanced and held by some unforeseen agency. he goes on to state that The massive rock was believed to possess the power of detecting those maidens who had in any way deviated from the paths of virtue..It was recognised as a testing-place of virginity and purity.
In the centre of the boulder was a hole about two feet deep shaped like a foot print. The tradition held that a maiden whose purity was tarnished would be able to place her leg in the depression without difficulty, whereas the leg of a virtuous women would cause the cavity to close towards the apex thus preventing her foot from being fully inserted.
The stone was also a place of pilgrimage for newly married women seeking a blessing on any children that they may have. For a pilgrim to receive a blessing from the stone she had to the perform the following ritual.
The visit must be made on a Monday, the mother to be had to bring a cobblers hammer and a shoe for her left foot. She had to then sit on the stone and recite a long doggeral rhyme. Blakeborough gives us an imperfectly remember version of the rhyme.
Cobbler, cobbler, look on me,
I come to crave thy blessing,
I beat thy leather for thee.
Nine nails to bind the heel I take.
A wild boar’s bristle, long and strong,
To thy wax-end I fix it.
To nine long strands well rolled,
I wax them well with drawn wax,
I wax, I wax it well for thee.
I wet the welt, I beat the welt,
As on they last I lay the welt.
Tough and firm from the middle hide,
Well-beaten on they lapstone,
I lay my sole upon thy last.
Strong as nine wax-ends thrice doubled,
So none but thy giant hands could pull asunder.
Now lifting up the shoe the supplicant had brought along with her, she continued:
The shoe is now made,
As well shaped as it I now put on, I pray
May all my children be;
Strong in every part.
I claim but one shoe from thee today.
May I never have a two-birth.
I cast my old shoes from me,
Poor and shapeless.
No part upon the lapstone ever lay-
Into the water I cast it-
To it may all my ill-luck cling,
And that of all that shall be mine.
So cobbler look upon me
With favour and great graciousness,
I pray thee look upon me,
And all mine yet unborn;
Ere I bid thee good-day.
Sadly, nothing remains of the Lapstone. Some time around 1830 the boulder slipped into the valley bottom causing an obstruction in the beck and the stone was broken up by blasting. The portion of the stone with the footprint shaped depression was taken to Castleton where it was used as a mounting-stone outside of one of the inns. This stone is thought to have been broken-up to repair the road. The legend of the Giant involves a wicked Baron and a boot-shaped chariot drawn by thirteen swans. I will write that tale in another post.
Source – The Hand of Glory. J Fairfax-Blakeborough. 1924