By Alan Smith

A solitary country walk is not only a good way of keeping fit and healthy but provides the opportunity to think. That is what I was doing the day after I submitted my, 'Is Anybody 
There?', contribution about the two puzzling churchyards on the parish boundary. Looking across to that location and the Cliffe above provided me with the clues to what I 
believe to be the answer.

 Whereas we spell 'churchyard' as one word, and link it to burials, in the Craven Estate record of 1771 it is spelt as Church Yard. As the meaning of 'Yard' is simply 'a plot of 
land' Church Yard is just a plot of land that belongs to the church'. No burials.  The two 'Church Yard' plots of land on the parish boundary, at the end of Startlewood 
Lane, make sense when one views the extensive quarrying that took place on the Cliffe.Those plots, I suggest, could have been stone mason's yards where sandstone would have
been fashioned into blocks.

As Elizabeth I had appropriated Ruyton's church lands in 1559 and sold them to Sir  Thomas Hanmer, the plots in question, and glebe lands must have been acquired by the 
Church at a later date. While it is therefore not possible to link the plots to the building of the church tower in the early1400s or the construction of the original north aisle in the 
mid14c, stone masons` yards within the parish would have been very useful when the  
north aisle had to be rebuilt in 1845.

If stone masons yards three quarters of a mile from the church seem impractical consider this: Because of weight, it would have been impractical to convey raw sandstone from the
Cliffe to a stone mason's yard near the church. Blocks cut to size and dressed at the 'Church Yard' locations, ready for building, would have require far fewer journeys, and 
the journeys wouldn't have been that difficult.

 Until it reaches Ivy Cottage, the lane that runs below the Cliffe is reasonably flat. While there is a fair drop down from the lane to the location in question I understand that, 
within living memory, a spur with a gentle gradient ran down to to the fields at Ivy Cottage. It would not therefore have been that difficult to get a wagon of sandstone up to 
the level lane.

 From there, down to the Little Ness road it's a gentle slope and, once that road is reached, It is pretty well downhill all the way until the road ends, just by the church's lych gate – 
where the sandstone blocks would have been required.  Alternatively, the 'Yards' might simply have been set aside for communal use by the 
parishioners who farmed the fields.







Back to History main page