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Conjuring Stone

Natural Rock Feature


Who knows if this stone is still here. Or indeed whether it might be legitimate TMA fare. But let's be optimistic. It's a big stone with magical connotations. It's named at this grid reference on some old maps. And now it might be too tucked away for anyone at the manor (now a hotel) to be worrying about.
A field adjoining the site of the mansion is still known by the name of Chapel-garth. A short distance from Chapel-garth in a hollow place, is a large stone called the "conjuring stone." In the days of superstition and witches, a troubled ghost supposed to be

'Doom'd for a certain time to walk the night,
And for the day confin'd to fast in fires;
Till the foul crimes done in his days of nature
Were burnt and purged away,"*

frequented this lonely spot and the neighbouring road and so terrified the natives, that it was deemed necessary for the peace of the town and the comfort of the "poor ghost" to ease it of its troubles by the aid of the priest, who after various ceremonies, exorcised the spirit and fastened it down with what is now designated, the "conjuring stone" which remains to the present day.
From Vallis Eboracensis by Thomas Gill (1852).

(*this is a quote from Hamlet)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
7th February 2014ce
Edited 7th February 2014ce

Comments (5)

We need a picture of this sharpish. Is Fitz still around? Not too far for Hob to drive to satisfy TMA, do you think? thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
7th February 2014ce
this one tweeked my conscience and shows my habit of putting things on the "back burner" I visited the conjuring stone in the early 1980's and then more recently went for a look and wrote the following in 2011............

The Conjuring Stone (Witches stone) Aldwark

The small village of Aldwark is located 10 miles north-west of York. The name Aldwark is Anglo Saxon and thought to refer to some 'old work' (possibly a roman structure) associated with the river crossing near the village.
A narrow lane on the south side of the village leads past Aldwark Manor and down towards the old ferry crossing over the river Ure. Just outside the village there is a dip in the road known as the 'Hollows Hole', where a low bridge crosses a stream flowing westward over fields to the river. On the east side of the bridge the stream flows through a small copse called the Manor wood and here on the north bank of the stream can be found the large boulder known as the Conjuring Stone.

For many years the Hollows Hole was regarded as a haunted place, some believing a troubled ghost hung about the spot, while others suspected the place was bewitched and under the spell of witch-craft. Either way the supernatural presence caused much trouble and fear in the village. As with other haunted spots, people no doubt avoided the lane, especially after dusk, horses would be spooked on the bridge or refuse to cross it, and unexplained 'accidents' occurred in the vicinity etc. Eventually the villagers decided something must be done, but as Aldwark had no church or priest at that time they had to look further a field for help.
So a priest 'experienced' in such matters was brought in and performed the rite of exorcism in the area around the bridge and stream. With chanting and ceremony he ‘conjured’ the spirit, bringing it under his control before transfixing it under flat rock located alongside the stream and trapping it there forever. From that day on the stone became known as the Conjuring or Witches Stone.

Although the Conjuring Stone still exists today, things have changed a little around it. The stone is in the grounds of Aldwark Manor which is now a Hotel and golf club. In the 1970's most of Manor wood was cut down leaving only a few mature trees alongside the stream. Then in the late 1980's it was decided to cover the stream and landscape the area, but in the process the Conjuring Stone was also buried. It was only through the efforts of Mr Stephen Watson (a native of Aldwark) that the stone was located and uncovered and the hotel owners then generously offered to build a retaining wall around the stone to preserve it.
Credit must go to the late Mr Stephen Watson, who for many years was the unofficial 'guardian' of the Conjuring stone and without him the stone would probably now be lost and buried. A booklet in the Easingwold library records his efforts to keep the stone and its tradition alive in the village and safeguard its future with the hotel owners. (The Conjuring Stone S.W. Watson 1987).

Posted by Chappers
10th February 2014ce
Wow, thank you for your reply. Good old Mr Watson eh. Fancy burying the poor thing. And you've visited, and I can only imagine you looked at it with a thorough eye for any carvings? But perhaps it looks rather like just a big stone. I wonder if it's the same sort as locally or where it might have come from. And soggy places often seem to get a spooky reputation. But they do look weird with their twisty trees and mossiness, perhaps it's not surprising. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
11th February 2014ce
Actually there are markings on the stone, but I think they are from attempts to split the rock at some time. I'm pretty sure i have a photocopy of Mr. Watson’s booklet so I will check the details (size etc) of the conjuring stone and post some photo’s as it is now, unfortunately I don’t think I have any from the 1980’s.

When we visited back then it was dusk/almost dark and I remember there was a definite ‘atmosphere’ where the stone was located under some trees on the stream bank. Although today it has been preserved, it is very different and located alongside a small golf course.
Posted by Chappers
11th February 2014ce
How interesting, thank you for posting those. It does look a bit smacked about. And now in quite a sterile landscape, quite different to in my imagination and how it must have been when you saw it originally. But it's very gratifying to see it protected by its wall (or perhaps it's the other way round, the mundane golf course is protected from the Influence of the Stone :)
thank you for that
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
12th February 2014ce
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