The ruling about the need for guide-stones in moorland areas was acted on by the North Riding County Justices in 1711 (eleven years after the West Riding). They ordered that guideposts should be erected throughout the county; they were to be hewn from huge pieces of stone and set up in locations where roads, trackways and footpaths, used by the numerous packhorse trains (as well as solitary travellers even more likely to get lost on a bad day) crossed.
We call them guide-stoops but locally they are referred to as handstones. They were relatively plain four-sided upright stone slabs, with the names of villages roughly inscribed on the four faces. And hands: very crudely chiselled but very distinctive. The stone-masons, probably illiterate, often had difficulty with the letters and their spacing.
They can be found on Blakey Ridge (north of Hutton-le-Hole), Urra Moor (very worn), Ingleby Moor (with the date 1757) and elsewhere.
Here is a selection.
Sources: Historic England website; anonymous article on ‘North York Moors: guide posts or stoops – known locally as handstones’ (no further details).
RWH / September 2020