Medieval Cross Reused As a Signpost at the Top of Caper Hill on the North East Side of Glaisdale High Moor
North Yorkshire County Council
Scarborough Borough Council
Scarborough and Whitby
SE732732 (473174, 502205)
The nearest postcode is an aid to location, and does not necessarily reflect the actual address of the monument. Most scheduled monuments are not occupied buildings and have no postal address or postcode of their own. In rural and coastal areas, the nearest geocodable postal address may be several miles away.
The remains of a medieval wayside cross which was reused in the 18th century as an inscribed signpost. It is located 10 metres south west of the road junction of Caper Hill and the road on the north east side of Glaisdale High Moor. The cross survives without its cross head as a 95cm tall shaft, 26cm square, set into a monolithic and roughly dressed socket stone 48cm square and at least 15cm thick. The cross is orientated to the adjacent roads and its shaft is inscribed on all four sides: WHITBY ROAD; PEATHILL ROAD; and KIRBY ROAD are inscribed in two lines on the south east, south west and north west faces respectively. The remaining side, which faces the road junction, is inscribed over five lines with GLASDALE.ROAD THOMAS HARWOOD D:1735. In 1711 the justice of Northallerton ordered that signposts should be erected throughout the North Riding at cross roads. Thomas Harwood was the surveyor in Glaisdale in the early 18th century, and the reused medieval cross is one of a small number of inscribed stones in the parish bearing his name. Scheduled.
This particular monument is intriguing me - this website is the only source that I can find that refers to it as a cross .No other books about crosses on the North Yorkshire Moors or websites that I can find mention this as once being a mediaeval cross. Its not like its hidden away or in the middle of the moors , its right by the road and yet there is no mention of it in such books as The Crosses of the North Yorkshire Moors by Lewis Graham or An illustrated Guide to the Crosses of the North Yorkshire Moors by Elizabeth Ogilvie and Audrey Sleightholme. I would be interested to know where English Heritage got their information from. Admittedly having visited it and speaking as someone who has been to all the crosses on the North Yorkshire Moors (or thought he had) it certainly looks likes that it is a reused cross with its slotted base. To confuse myself further after visiting Caper Hill Cross I then headed south easterly along the road to Flat Howe. About 300 metres to the north west of Flat Howe I came across another couple of guidestones close together at NZ 7363 0128 one of which is very similar to the Caper Hill Cross and also sitting in what looks like a medieval slotted base so is this another reused cross that I didn’t know about?? Or are they just 18th century guidestones set in slotted bases similar to those which were used for medieval crosses. I will upload photos of the two guidestones at NZ 7363 0128 to the Flat Howe Monument Webpage at NZ 73828 01025 as they are nearer to that than the Caper Hill Cross , also to avoid confusion with the Caper Hill Cross Photos as they are very similar
John D Hunter, 24 May 2013
After recently reading Stanhope Whites 1987 book The Standing Stones and Earthworks of the North Yorkshire Moors I am now even more dubious that this was originally a cross. On page 41 of this booklet he describes four Guidestones in this area (including the one you describe as Caper Hill Cross) as being erected in a medieval type base or standing in a base similar to those found with medieval crosses. It would seem to me that when they erected the Guidestones in this area in 1735 they decided rather than just stick them in the ground to make medieval type bases for them, which for this area makes sense. One of the reasons that a medieval type base was used for crosses in the first place rather than just stick them in the ground was to spread the weight so that cross did not sink straight down into the peat bog. Considering the name of the hill on which the Guidestones are erected is Peat Hill gives you a good idea as to what the ground is like in this area and why they would also be erected in a medieval type base.
John D Hunter, 10 November 2013
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