Stone alignment west of Boroughbridge known as the Devil's Arrows, including three standing stones and the setting for a fourth


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Harrogate (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 39071 66588, SE 39099 66531, SE 39152 66430

Reasons for Designation

Stone alignments or stone rows consist of upright stones set in a single line, or in two or more parallel lines, up to several hundred metres in length. They are often sited close to prehistoric burial monuments, such as small cairns and cists, and to ritual monuments, such as stone circles, and are therefore considered to have had an important ceremonial function. Stone alignments were being constructed and used from the Late Neolithic period to the Middle Bronze Age (c.2500-1000 BC) and provide rare evidence of ceremonial and ritual practices during these periods. Due to their rarity and longevity as a monument type, all examples that are not extensively damaged will be considered worthy of protection.

This stone alignment includes three of the largest stones of any alignment in Britain, with the southern stone being the second tallest standing stone in Britain. The monument is rare as one of few examples of a stone alignment in a lowland setting. The construction pits for the erection of the stones remain buried beneath the ground and will retain significant archaeological remains. The stones are part of a wider prehistoric complex concentrated around the River Ure at the southern edge of a ritual landscape which includes henge monuments and round barrows extending several kilometres to the north. The stones and the associated remains offer important scope for the study of ritual and society in the prehistoric period.


The monument includes a stone alignment 174m long dating from the Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age, with three standing stones aligned on a NNW to SSE axis. They stand on relatively flat land which falls slightly to the south. The stones do not form a straight line. They are unevenly spaced with the central stone standing 60m from the northern one and 110m from the southern one. The three stones decrease in size from the south to north. The monument is divided into three separate areas. The site of a fourth stone lies 2.1m NNW of the central stone and is included in the central area. The northern stone stands 5.5m high and is rectangular in section, measuring 2.6m by 1.4m. The central stone is 6.7m high and is almost square in section, measuring 1.5m by 1.2m. The southern stone is 6.9m high and measures 1.4m by 1.2m in section. Excavations around the base of the central stone in 1709 revealed that it had a flat bottom standing squarely in a 1.5m deep stonehole which was packed with cobbles, clay and grit to hold the stone tightly in place. Further excavations around the bases of the northern and southern stones in 1876 and 1881 revealed the stoneholes to be 1.4m and 1.8m deep respectively. The top of each stone is marked by a series of deep grooves resulting from natural weathering. The fourth stone was recorded as standing by Leland in the mid-16th century, but by the end of the century Camden records it as lying prone. It is thought that this fourth stone was broken and used for the foundation of a bridge over the River Tutt in 1621, with the upper segment being set up in the grounds of Aldborough manor. The stones are formed of millstone and originated at an outcrop at Plumpton Rocks 15km to the west. Field walking, geophysical surveys and trial excavations in the area to the west of the stones have revealed extensive and intensive prehistoric remains of a high quality. The stones are thus part of a wider complex of buried prehistoric remains. The full nature and extent of this wider complex has yet to be confirmed and the scheduling therefore focusses on the stones. The monument is to the south of a wider group of prehistoric ritual monuments, including henges and round barrows, situated in the lowlands between the Pennines and the Hambleton Hills.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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