Two Whitby Stones

?Whitby circa 1827 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

The Battering Stone

A large mass of blue whinstone by the road side near the east end of Whitby abbey, which the boys were won’t to batter or pelt with stones on Holy Thursday, after the usual perambulation of the parochial boundaries, the fortunate breakers, it was said, being entitled to a guinea from the parish. The custom seems almost forgotten with the cessation of the perambulation, and the stone reposes from year to year in its wonted solidity, though bearing the marks on its surface, of the juvenile assaults of former days.

The Needle

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.

Sources

A Glossary of Yorkshire word and phrases: Collected in Whitby and the neighbourhood. 1885

A Glossary of words used in Swaledale, Yorkshire 1873

Image –  ?Whitby JMW Turner c,1827 Tate Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

2 thoughts on “Two Whitby Stones

  1. There is some folklore about the abbey bells being stolen, and then lost in the sea. The submerged bells can be heard by those who climbs up onto the Black Nab rock, just down the coast. There is a modern Turner-esque painting of the black nab too.

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