The Devil’s Arrows – Boroughbridge

The devil's arrows

This lovely cigarette card illustrates the legend of the origin of the prehistoric stone row, The Devil’s Arrows, Boroughbridge.

The legend of the Devil’s Arrows

In the days when the Brigantes were one of the most powerful tribe in Britain, a group of christian missionaries visited the king in his capital city, Iseur (Aldborough) .  The king was impressed by the missionaries and decided to hold a conference between the missionaries and the  druids of his kingdom to decide whether or not to adopt the new religion. The conference was held near Roulston  Scar on the slopes of the Hambledon Hills, presumably at the large iron Age hillfort that can still be seen today.

As the discussion got underway the christians put forward a very convincing case for their god and appeared to be winning the king’s favour. At this point a stranger arrived, he is described as a strange druid of commanding and venerable appearance. The stranger listened to the missionaries and then proceeded to dismantle their arguments swaying the king back in favour of upholding the tenets of druidism.

The king asked the missionaries to return from where they had come from, however one of the missionaries noticed that wherever the strange druid stepped he appeared to be sinking into the rock and that the stones around his feet would turn to liquid.  The missionary turned to the strange druid and cried ‘Satan, I defy thee!’ and commanded the devil to show himself.

The devil was unmasked and amid a ‘sulphurous emanation’ took flight carrying a large lump of semi-molten rock that had become stuck to his feet.  The enraged  devil landed some five or six miles away by which time the rock on his feet had cooled and loosened.  The devil flew to the top of How Hill, broke up the block into four parts and hurled them towards Aldborough shouting,

Borobrigg, Borobrigg,

Keep out of the way,

For Auldbro’ town

I’ll ding down to-day’

Fortunately, for the citizens of Aldborough, the stones fell well short of their mark, landing in a field on the outskirts of Boroughbridge.

Devils Arrows


Yorkshire Legends & Traditions.

Rev. Thomas Parkinson

Pub. 1888

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