Oswaldkirk is a village 20 miles north of York and four miles south of Helmsley in North Yorkshire. It is named after St Oswald (died 642), Anglo-Saxon king of Northumbria.

The turnpike was established by Act of Parliament in 1768 and followed the line of the present B1363. At Oswaldkirk the turnpike joined the present B1257, which with the A170 connected it with Helmsley. It thus provided a more direct connection to that area.

The milestones on this road are interesting, as every third stone is a so-called ‘horsing-stone’ – a tall block with steps to enable easy mounting of a horse. The minutes of the Turnpike Trust include the following details.

In 1772 ‘. . . milestones were to be erected … in the form as follows: wood mile post 4 feet in length; every third mile a horsing stone; … ‘. Later, in 1776 it was ordered ‘… that the mile posts be painted dark blue, with white letters and figures, old Roman capital letters and figures ‘. At a meeting at the (still there) White Bear in Stillington in 1789, it was ordered ‘. . . that the mile stones be repaired if necessary and that the letters or figures thereon be fresh painted’.

In 1814 it was ordered ‘that mileposts be erected at the end of each mile where the present stones are decayed and defaced, and that the first mile from York be measured from Bootham Bar, or such other place as the distance has commenced, and be so expressed upon the first mile post‘.

The Milestone Society has records of four surviving horsing-stones (or mounting-blocks) on this road. They are, from south to north:

At Wigginton, ¾ mile north of the A1237 York ring-road, on the west side of the road (and usually almost hidden in the grass), opposite the entrance to Villa Farm – three miles from York.

On the west side of the road north of Sutton-on-the-Forest, nearly opposite Low Inhams Farm, south of Moxby Lane, about half way between Sutton and Stillington – nine miles from York.

At Gilling East, just north of the cross-roads – 18 miles from York.

Between Oswaldkirk and Sproxton, about one mile south of Sproxton on the now B1257, on verge opposite the entrance to Golden Square Farm – 21 miles from York. Curiously, this appears to be beyond the remit of the Turnpike Trust, which ended where it met the Helmsley/Thirsk-Malton road at Oswaldkirk Bank Top. (Illustrated on right)

Those six, 12 and 15 miles from York have not been found.

Sources: Jennifer Perry: York-Oswaldkirk Turnpike Trust 1768-1881 (North Yorkshire County Record Office, 1977) and Milestone Society records.

See also the article on mounting-block milestones in the East Riding and elsewhere.

RWH / Jan 2019