WHILE DRAWING this medieval monument to the Battle of Boroughbridge (1322), it occurred
to me that the masons who carved it might have cannibalised one of the Devil’s Arrows
standing stones aligned near the modern A1 on the western side of the town. Today
there are three of them but there are early references to a fourth, which local tradition
suggests was broken up to be used in the construction of a small local bridge, which
can still be seen. If that happened in the 17th or 18th century then is it possible
that an earlier, fifth, ‘Arrow’ was recycled to make this monument? Are they the
same kind of rock?
The memorial originally stood in Boroughbridge but the Victorians moved it to the
adjoining village of Aldborough. This village is built on the site of the Roman town
of Isurium, so another possibility is that is was recycled from Roman masonry. Alternatively
they might simply have quarried the stone locally, although I assume that for miles
around the local bedrock is buried beneath superficial deposits of alluvial and glacial
The Devils Arrows are believed to have been transported from Plumpton Rocks, three
miles south of Knaresborough and nine miles south-west of Boroughbridge, but that’s
another story, one with some intriguing implications for the story that I’m telling
in my Walks in Robin Hood’s Yorkshire booklet.
This morning I started landscape vignettes for the booklet. I’ve actually been a
little too enthusiastic with this first one as I’ve included more detail than I’d
intended. It has to go down to about 2 inches across on the page. Hopefully when
I add watercolour it will simplify the drawing.
I sit at my desk and draw directly in pen from digital photographs that I’d taken
when we checked out the walk during the sunnier, more settled spell of weather we
had earlier this autumn. This suits me better than tracing the outlines in pencil
first. It’s as close as I can get to drawing on location without being there.