Great Stone of Fourstones

The Great Stone of Fourstones is large boulder not far from Bentham, Yorkshire, but eleven feet from the Lancashire border, and the parish of Tatham. It’s not far from the road; there is a handy layby from which visitors can embark. Presumably, it was used as a boundary stone and a meeting place for the ancient tribes that lived in these parts. But where are the other three? It is suggested they were broken up to sharpen scythes centuries ago.

The modern explanation for its existence is that it was deposited there by a glacier after the ice age 5000 years ago. A sign close by the rocks suggests an Irish giant named Finn McCool flung it across the Irish sea in a pique of rage. Harry Speight (1892) claimed it was put there by the devil, while Jessica Lofthouse (1976) repeats a tradition that claims the devil removed the other three, using them to make devil’s bridge at Kirkby Lonsdale.

I doubt the existence of Irish giants, and whereas I believe in Satan, I suspect that even he has better things to do with his time than designing rockeries or feats of civil engineering. Of the Lord, the prophet writes

Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, And the rocks are thrown down by Him.

Nahum 1:6

Lofthouse, J., North Country Folklore, Hale: London 1976.

Speight, Harry, The Craven and Northwest Yorkshire Highlands, Elliott Stock: London 1892.

The Northern Antiquarian