Locked Churches

..no security is as effective as a regular flow of welcomed visitors. A parish church is a church open to all. A church shut except for services is the meeting house of a sect.

Simon Jenkins. England’s thousand best churches. 2002

Welcome the Lucky Bird

To-night it is the New Year’s night, to-morrow is the day, And we are come for our right and for our ray, As we used to do in old King Henry’s day. Sing, fellows, sing Hagman heigh !

If you go to the bacon-flitch, cut me a good bit, Cut, cut and low, beware of your man ; Cut, and cut round, beware of your thumb, That I and my merry men may haye some. Sing, fellows, sing Hagman heigh !

If you go to the black ark, bring me ten mark, Ten mark, ten pound, throw it down upon the ground, That I and my merry men may have some. Sing, fellows, sing Hagman heigh !

If New Year’s Eve night wind blows south,

it betokenth warmth and growth;

If west, much mild and fish in the sea;

If north, more cold and storms there will be;

If east, will bear much fruit;

If north-east, flee it, man and brute.

Happy New Year Everyone

Size matters…Yorkshire Megaliths & Cumbria’s Prehistoric Monuments

I recently saw this wonderful illustration of Yorkshire Megaliths. I contacted the author, Adam Morgan Ibbotson, and he kindly sent me a copy.

I was rather chuffed, Adam wrote one of my favourite books of 2021, Cumbria’s Prehistoric Monuments. It’s a lovely book, comprehensive, very readable with beautiful photographs, maps and illustrations. If prehistory and big old stones are your thing, you’ll love this. You can buy it here

Near Moor

Wandering Red Way onto Near Moor

Near Moor is a moor on the western margins of the Cleveland Hills. The moor is at its highest in the north-east where it meets the wooded escarpment edge of the Cleveland hills, it then slopes gently southwards towards Crabdale. Near moor is bounded by Far Moor To the East, Pamperdale Moor to the South and the valley of Scarth Nick and Scarth Wood Moor to the west.

The moor is managed for grouse shooting. The vegetation of the moor is predominantly heather with patches of moorland grasses and sedges.

The rocks here are mainly Jurassic Sandstones, formed 170 million years ago in shallow estuaries and deltas. To the north, below the escarpment edge, there are many old jet workings. Blocks of ‘White Flint’ can be found on the moor-top.

Both Near Moor and the adjacent Scarth Wood Moor were used by our ancient ancestors, there are the remains of ancient walls, enclosures, trackways and cairns dotted across both moors.

There are a number of cup-marked rocks on the moor, all are very weathered and barely recognisable.

There are the remains of quarries on the margins of the moor, local stone masons also used the prehistoric walls as a source of stone.

Verjuice Press

I recently spotted this stone leaning against the wall at Tocketts Mill. It puzzled me for a while, I had seen a picture of a similar stone but couldn’t remember where. Eventually I remembered, the wonderful Hidden Teesside website

The stone is the base of a Verjuice or Beam Press. Elizabeth Ogilvie writes

..Verjuice or Beam Presses which were used to produce a kind of acid apple vinegar known as verjuice made mostly from crab apples and used in cooking and medicine. The method of crushing the apples was simple. Crab apples were placed on the base stone, a weight was positioned on top and pressed down by means of a wooden beam wedged at one end into a hollow of a tree stump or groove cut into a stone wall.

An Illustrated Guide to Stone Antiquities on the North Yorkshire Moors. E Ogilvie. 1996

The Crab Tree

Another Cleveland usage is, when a mare foals to hang up ‘the cleansings ’ (the placenta) in a tree, preferably in a thorn or failing that a crab tree; the motive assigned being to secure ‘luck with the foal.’ Should the birth take place in the fields, this suspension is most carefully attended to, while as for the requirements of such events at the homestead, in not a few instances there is a certain tree not far from the farm-buildings still specially marked out for the reception of these peculiar pendants. In one instance lately, I heard of a larch tree so devoted, but admittedly in default of the thorn; the old thorn-tree long employed for the purpose having died out.

Again, a lamb that is dropped dead, or that dies while still very young, is customarily hung up in a tree—properly in a thorn, though any fruit or berry-bearing tree will do. In the last case under my notice, the tree was a rowan-tree or mountain-ash. In all these cases the same principle is, I think, beyond question involved. Certainly in the case of the mare the offering would originally have been to Odin; probably in all cases of suspension on a berry-bearing tree the same may be true.

J. C. Atkinson, N. & Q., 4th S., vol ii., pp. 556, 557.

Wandering around the Nab

Cross Keys – Barnaby Side – Upsall Wood – Upsall Intake – Normanby Intake – Eston Moor – Oxen Hill – Lighthouse Fields – Moorgate Bog – Osborne Rush

Eston

Astun(e) 1086

Eston(a) 1160-72

v. east, tun. Eston is in the east of the parish