Osmotherley – St. Peter’s Church

The Romanesque arch, weather-beaten but recognisable.

The ghost of a Beakhead

The Norman font, uncomplicated with a cable pattern below the rim.

A protection mark? A saltire scratched into the underside of the arch resembles similar motifs carved into the witch posts of the moorland villages.

An Anglo-Saxon crosshead.

Regarding the grooves on the porch wall behind the cross head. These grooves are found on many of the walls of old churches throughout Europe. Tradition has it that they were caused by medieval archers sharpening their arrow heads prior to Sunday archery practice. In some parts of the country these stones are referred to as ‘Arrow Stones’. This seems like a highly unlikely explanation, the nature of the grooves would probably only serve to blunt a blade rather than sharpen it

Another possible, and more likely explanation for the grooves, is that they were caused by people collecting grit and dust from the church for use in folk medicines and ritual preparations. Any part of the fabric of a consecrated building, including water from the roof, was thought to have curative powers for both people and their livestock. The practice of collecting materials from a church, to use as a cure for all manner of ills, has been documented across Europe.

There is an old house on Marske High Street that has similar grooves on its external walls. I was told that it was once a schoolhouse and the grooves were caused by pupils sharpening their slate pencils on the building walls. An alternative explanation is that perhaps these stones were recycled from a previous building such as St. Germain’s Church or the medieval manor house that once existed on the outskirts of the town.

This cross shaft is thought to be Anglo-Danish. There is also the remains of an Anglo-Danish Hogback grave cover in the porch but it is is very eroded and barely recognisable.


Asmundrelac 1086 Domesday Book

‘Asmund’s clearing’…A hybrid formation with a Norse inflexion of the of the first element suggests very intimate association of the Norse and Anglian speech.

The Place-Names of the North Riding of Yorkshire by A.H. Smith 1928

A Ballad – The Lads of the Tees

Old Sagittarius, stuck in the sky  

To serve as a watchman as well as a spy.  

On finding our archers excel those above,  

In envious spite gallop’d off to tell Jove.  

Great king of the gods can you bear to look down

And see your great favorites of old so outdone

No more will your Trojans and Grecians please,  

When eclips’d’ by the feats of these ‘Lads of the Tees.’      


Jove rose in a rage and call’d out for Apollo,

And entreated that he would old Fourlegs follow

And examine if what he’d reported was true;

Then away to the banks of the Tees the god flew;

It happen’ d the arrow was shot for that day,

When the archers appeared in their nicest array;

Their sports and their mirth did his godship so please,

He resolved to stop with the ” Lads of the Tees.”  


Next morning old Jupiter sent out his scout,  

Winged Hermes to know what Apollo was about;  

Who swift as an eagle, headlong dashed forth  

To enquire why the god staid so long upon earth;

Oh ! I’ve found, cried Apollo, some lads to my mind.  

They’re gentle, they’re courteous, they’re social and kind;  

They shoot like us gods, and their songs me so please;  

I’ll never more quit these brave ” Lads of the Tees.”  


With the god of the bow and of music so near,

Triumphant our course, for no rival we fear;

With so splendid a model of grace and of art,

Emulation alone do we need on our part;

Now let us avoid all vain squabbles and strife,

And our science will gild the dull evening of life;

Aud hoary old age feel a glow when he sees

His sons are enrolled ‘mong the ” Lads of the Tees.”  


This is an admirable archery song, and is evidently the emanation of some superior mind whose name is to me unknown. It appears in that excellent selection of sporting lyrics— Charles Armiger’s Sportsmans Vocal Cabinet. 1830.

Taken from Holroyds Collection of Yorkshire Ballads. 1892