On a beautiful sunny summer morning while on a trip to the Yorkshire Dales we stopped by a field in Boroughbridge and found ourselves in the presence of 3 magnificent standing stones known as the Devil’s Arrows. Originally believed to be either four of five in total, the other two removed either in the belief that treasure was buried beneath them or simply to be used as building materials many years ago.
The stones are believed to date back to either the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age period. The tallest standing stone is greater in height than those at Stonehenge and stands by the roadside among trees immediately on the west side of Roecliffe Lane, the other two are across the road in a field which is flanked by the lane which leads to Boddy’s timber yard and the Boroughbridge Marina. The lightest of the Arrows weighs over 25 tons. These are all made of millstone grit which over time has worn away leaving various lines and indentations in the surface making them look as if they did indeed once streak through the air.
Also known as The Devil’s Bolts, The Three Greyhounds and The Three Sisters, legend says that up until the 8th century the fair of St. Barnabas was held near the stones on Midsummer's Day each year. The standing stone became known as the Devil’s Arrows from an account of the Devil firing arrows of stone on a nearby Christian settlement at Aldborough. The area powerfully protected by the prayers of the faithful prevented any damage, and causing the “arrows” to fall harmlessly into a nearby field. It was also claimed that walking 12 times around the stones anti-clockwise will raise the Devil.
It has also been suggested that the stones were erected by the Romans to commemorate some great victory and there certainly was a Roman fort immediately to the west of the stones. Others have attempted, without much success, to connect them to Ley lines. More feasible is the theory that the line was built in prehistoric times to align with the southernmost summer moonrise. Inevitably a religious purpose is ascribed to the stones more than any other. But it has also been suggested that they are monuments to the power or prestige of a local chief, that they are an avenue leading to a henge, or ford, or burial area. (http://www.boroughbridge.org.uk/Devils_Arrows_3069.aspx)
There are many other stone circles and henges in this area forming a large fascinating prehistoric area of great importance in the valley of the River Ure. I look forward to returning one day and spending more time in this area exploring the other stone circles and henges. Whatever the true story behind these stones the spiritual energy radiating from them was just incredible, forming a fascinating link between the past and the present.