Giant’s headstone stands tall again

Prehistoric monument known as Wade's Stone
Prehistoric monument known as Wade's Stone

A TWO-METRE stone that, according to local legend, marks the grave of a giant, has been re-erected near East Barnby.

Wade’s Stone is reportedly named after a giant who lived in a Lythe castle and kept cattle on the moors, and the stone is reported to mark one extent of his grave.

Another Wade’s Stone, in Goldsborough, marks the other edge of the giant’s burial site, although in truth the two monoliths are probably Neolithic or early Bronze Age monuments.

They stones could be over 5,000 years old and may have been markers relating to land ownership, route-ways or meetings points.

Many prehistoric burial monuments are also located in the parish of Barnby, adding strength to the grave theory, if not the giant aspect.

Graham Lee, the National Park Authority’s senior archaeological conservation officer, said: “The standing stones and crosses dotted across the North York Moors are part of the area’s charm.

“They make our ancestors seem almost tangible and are probably some of the most photographed objects in the national park.

“The sheer size of some of these stones adds to the mystery of how they got here and what they were for – it’s therefore not surprising that local legends have sprung up around many of them.”

The giant Wade and his wife Bell had a tempestuous relationship and the Hole of Horcum was apparently formed during a domestic squabble between the two, when Wade scooped up a handful of earth to throw at Bell, creating Blakey Topping in the process.

Centuries of cultivation around Wade’s Stone had caused the scheduled monument to topple over and the North York Moors National Park Authority commissioned Tees Archaeology to record and then reinstate the monolith.

Tees Archaeology carefully excavated what little was left of the original socket hole and then extended its depth to provide an adequate trench into which to set the stone.

The stone was re-erected with funding from the authority’s Monument Management Scheme, a partnership between the authority and English Heritage to reduce the ‘at risk’ status of scheduled monuments and improve their management.

This partnership is particularly important since nearly a third of all the scheduled monuments for the entire Yorkshire and Humber region can be found in the North York Moors National Park.

There is no public access to Wade’s Stone but it can be easily viewed from the A174 near East Barnby Outdoor Education Centre.