British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain

The Devil's Arrows

The Devil's Arrows

Near Boroughbridge are three very tall standing stones laid out in a north-south alignment called The Devil's Arrows. There were four in the 16th century, when recorded by the earliest of antiquarians, however the fourth, near the center one, was taken down, cut up and is now buried.

The stones were said to be Devils Bolts in the 16th century, 'which they shot at ancient cities and overthrew them.' Bolts are arrows, so when the antiquarian William Stukeley visited them in the 18th century, it had changed to the Devil's Arrows, as they are known today.  Stukeley however, ascribed the monument to the Druids. However, the Arrows are prehistoric, and part of a very large ceremonial complex; a number of barrows, six henge monuments and a cursus all between the Ure and the Swale at the end of the neolithic period and beginning of the Bronze Age.

The size of the standing stones suggest they were the tools of a giant. Traditionally that giant was oftentimes the Devil himself. The story goes that the Devil stood upon How Hill, seven or eight miles away, very close to Fountain's Abbey.  He put one foot on the hill and made a declaration of his intentions, the first part of which is lost, but the ending remains;

'Borobrigg keep out o'th way, 
For Audboro town
I will ding down.'

The, discharging his stone bow, fairly missed his mark, the bolts falling short a mile or so of their object.