The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

The Devil's Arrows

Standing Stones


Their name, as the Devil's Arrows, seems to have originated from the following story, which we had related to us by an hoary headed individual living in Boroughbridge, when soliciting information as to their history:

"There lived a very pious old man {a Druid should we imagine} who was reckoned an excellent cultivator of the soil. However, during each season at the time his crops had come to maturity they were woefully pillaged by his surrounding neighbours; so that at this, he being provokingly grieved*, the Devil appeared, telling the old man if he would only recant and throw away his holiness he should never more be disturbed in his mind, or have whatever he grew stolen or demolished.

The old man, like Eve in the garden, yielded to temptation, and at once obeyed the impulse of Satan for the benefit of worldly gain. So when the old man's crops were again being pillaged, the Devil threw from the infernal regions some ponderous arrows, which so frightened the plunderers by shaking the earth that never more was he harrassed in that way. Hence the name of the 'Devil's Arrows.'"

Another individual told me that it was believed by some that the stones sprung up one night in the very places they now occupy.

These opinions seem to be somewhat firmly fixed in the minds of the narrators. A superstition once imbibed is in many instances difficult to eradicate. However, we neither believe nor wish others to believe that they either sprung up in a single night, or were shot from a bow of Satan.
From the notes and queries section of 'The Geologist' for October 1860. Online at Google Books.

*one can only presume 'being provokingly grieved' means he was swearing a lot at this point, which attracted the Devil's attention.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
7th March 2007ce

Comments (0)

You must be logged in to add a comment