Holy Stones are those artificial formations connected with the oracular ceremonies of past ages, and it is recorded that one of these uprights called the Needle, stood in the vicinity of the west pier at Whitby, through the eye of which rickety children were drawn in order to strengthen them; a custom practiced in some parts to this day. Lovers also pledged themselves by joining hands through the hole, especially in the case of young mariners bound on their voyage.

A Glossary of Words used in the Neighbourhood of Whitby. F K Robinson 1876

From an account in a M.S. in the Cottonian Library (Julius F.C. fo. 455) the date of which is variously given as 1550 and 1610, it seems that there had been formerly a hermitage on the top, but at that time there remained only a ” small smith’s forge cut out of the rock and called Willifryd’s needle” (later called the cobbler’s shop) There was a Wilfrid’s needle in Ripon Minster where trial was made of a woman’s chastity, the identity of names may or may not imply identity of use. According to Ord the grotto had been destroyed by quarrymen before his time and no trace of it existed on my earliest visit now well on to 60 years ago.

Cleveland Naturalists’ Field Club Record of Proceedings 1920 – 1925

On advancing a little farther, the main valley is discovered extending towards the west and the railway, sweeping rapidly round the foot of a bold and lofty projection on the right, crowned by a large mass of rock, called from a perforation visible near its point, the Needle’s Eye, brings the traveller in full view of the middle division of Newton Dale, extending for about a mile before him, and of which the general character is peculiar, and singularly picturesque.

Illustrations of the Scenery on the Line of the Whitby and Pickering Railway.  Henry Belcher. 1836

Update. Graeme Chappell kindly sent me this link to a picture and description to the Needle’e Eye in Newtondale


Sculpture & Photograph – Andy Goldsworthy

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