As many of our ancient sepulchral heaps of heathens have obtained spurious christian names, so have various objects in our district acquired the epithet Old Wife, opprobriously applied to things that were inexplicable to our ancestors; when, to the disgrace of human nature, distressed old women were supposed to be witches, and could turn themselves into any shape. Such superstitious notion has, indeed, extensively prevailed up to our time; and before men, even in England, became humanised enough to enact poor-laws to succour starving people; such belief in the power of old women was entertained by even priests, judges, legislators, and kings. How perverted then was the human mind by false teaching!
DESCRIPTIONS GEOLOGICAL, TOPOGRAPHICAL, AND ANTIQUARIAN, IN EASTERN YORKSHIRE.
ROBERT KNOX 1855