The most common type of milestone is what we call the “tombstone” type, a thick stone pillar well embedded in the ground with mileages carved or painted, or with a cast-iron plate screwed onto it.
Occasionally, however, a different type is found, the horse mounting-block. There are a few roads in the North Riding with mounting-block milestones, such as the York-Oswaldkirk turnpike; and one road in the West Riding, between Bradford and Harrogate, has five such stones, one of which, at Pool, retains its plate – see illustration here.
It is in the East Riding, however, that these milestones are most common. In fact over 50 of the 108 milestones in the county known to the Milestone Society are of this type – a feature unique in its frequency in the country.
The roads with mounting-block milestones include Beverley-Hornsea, Hull-Beverley, Hull-Hedon, Hull-South Cave, York-Beverley and York-Driffield. Although on some only two steps are visible,it is likely that they are all three-step blocks: the bottom step has probably been covered, usually because of improvements to the carriage-way and associated verge works. A metal plate of varying design is normally attached to the block.
Many have deteriorated from weathering, or suffered damage from grass-cutting, or traffic accidents, and many have lost their plates, but the County Council and Milestone Society members have been actively renovating them as time and resources permit. The picture shows a typical one, plateless, near Beverley.
The restoration of one, Beverley 8 / Malton 20, in 2005 has been documented and well-illustrated on the Milestone Society website. The verge level was by then up to the height of the first step, and it was in a dangerous position, having been hit several times; the top step had eroded, and the distance plate was in a sorry state. The account of the subsequent removal ,refurbishment and repositioning in a safer place nearby is a useful account of how it should be done.
Another project was the removal of the Beverley 21 / York 8 stone at Wilberfoss, near the terminus of the Beverley to Kexby BridgeTurnpike Trust. The Trust was established in 1764, and the road was due to connect from Kexby, on the Riding boundary, to York via the York to Kexby Bridge Turnpike, established a year layer. Improvements to this road, the present A1079, meant that Wilberfoss was by-passed, and in 2012 the now little-noticed milestone was moved to the new road, where it can be seen by everyone passing with an eye for interesting and historic roadside features.
RWH / revised May 2021