Some say that these sturdy sandstone tors, protruding from a sea of bracken, were deposited in the ancient seas of an era when dinosaurs reigned supreme, some 150 million years ago. The ebb and flow of the Jurassic tides as they advanced and receded, left behind stratified rocks of various densities. A layer of resilient gritstone settled atop softer sandstones, and the winds and the rain sculpted these peculiar shapes, as the sandstone weathered more easily.
However, some believed that these rocks were strategically positioned by none other than the legendary giant Wade, during a spirited game of duckstones∗. Now, before you dismiss this notion as mere fantasy, let me acquaint you with Wade’s other exploits. This towering figure of a man was renowned for his ability to have excavated the Hollow of Horcum with his bare hands, an impressive feat accomplished during a heated quarrel with his wife, Bell. And let us not forget the creation of Blakey Topping, a prominent hill formed when Wade discarded the excavated soil. Wade’s relationship with Bell was not always tumultuous, as evidenced by his construction of a causeway across Wheeldale Moor, creating for Bell a pathway to milk her cows.
But here lies the crux of the matter: if this remarkable tale holds any truth, where do the minute fossils of crinoids and echinoids, delicately interred within the rock, originate?
Duckstones is a traditional game played by Yorkshire schoolboys. The game involves with the placement of one stone atop another, forming the shape of a stout mushroom, safeguarded by a vigilant band of players. Meanwhile, another group positions themselves at a designated line, known as the ‘taw,’ and hurls stones, the ‘duckstones‘ towards the towering structure. Should their well-aimed shots dislodge the balanced stones, the throwers hastily retreat in a backwards sprint, pursued by the guardians of the stone. Each guardian, upon capturing a fleeing opponent, must carry their captive on their back until reaching the safety of the stone. Eventually, the roles are reversed, and the game unfolds in a reversed order.