Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Donna Cross—from Medieval cross to a legal feud

On the col between Cold Moor and Cringle, one almost stumbles across the stump of Donna Cross hidden amidst the bracken. A boulder, rooted deep in the earth, serves as its natural base, with a socket in which a stone is wedged. This stone, however, is not believed to be a part of the original shaft, of which there is no trace.

The wayside cross probably dates from medieval times, but was chronicled in the 17th century1‘Heritage Gateway – Results’. 2023. Heritagegateway.org.uk <https://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=27495&sort=2&rational=m&recordsperpage=10&maplat=54.42341383&maplong=-1.15915922&mapisa=1000&mapist=os&mapilo=-1.1592&mapila=54.4234&mapiloe=w&mapilan=n&mapios=NZ545034&mapigrn=503450&mapigre=454550&mapipc=&resourceID=19191> [accessed 18 September 2023]. This col lies along the ancient path travelled by packhorses, leading from Stokesley southward into Raisdale and on to Chop Gate.

The earthfast boulder is carved with the letters ‘E’ (denoting James Emerson of Easby Hall) and ‘F’ (the Feversham estate). Emerson purchased the title of ‘Lord of the Manor of Kirby’ in the early 1850s. Come 1854, a rather heated legal tussle brewed between Emerson and the well-heeled Lord Feversham of Helmsley. It escalated into a lengthy and expensive dispute over boundary lines, with the coveted mining rights at its heart. The court ultimately found in Emerson’s favour. It’s a fair bet that the letters in question date from soon after the gavel fell.



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