The visitor

We were very happy to have an impromptu visit by Christine Buckton (nee Baker) at the village hall this week. Christine used to live at Cliff House, and has been staying there on holidays.

Her father was W.P. Baker who wrote the book The English Village, in which there appears a lovely description of village life in Ebberston in the 1950s.

Christine and her family were shown around the village hall, which she remembered as the school, and she got re-acquainted with some of the objects we have in our “treasure” cabinet, much of which her father had collected and left to the village – some with his old hand-written labels still attached.

Ebberston Archaeology Tour: Sword Quest

The sword in the stone (wall). Image: Judith Winters

We all know the story of the sword in the stone, but did you know there is a real sword in the north wall at St Mary’s church in Ebberston?

The stone is particularly interesting because the carving was not made for the wall. Rather the stone has been selected and reused from an earlier monument (very possibly one that was close by). However it does seem to have been appreciated by the wall builders who recognised something of its significance and importance and kept it facing outward.

Despite earlier theories, it is almost certainly not an emblem that’s been cut out of a larger slab with a cross or other carvings on it. The stone edges have been chamfered (i.e. shaped with sloping edges) which is highly unlikely to have been done at the point of reuse . It would therefore appear to be an emblem-only monument that found a second life in the wall of a church.

What it marked, or who or what it memorialised, we do not know. However the style of the sword pommel (the handle) and the drooping curved guard does tell us that Viking-style sword pommels persisted in the north long after the Norman conquest. The sword is also similar in style to the ‘real’ one found at Cawood, now in the Yorkshire Museum.

It’s difficult to date (but it is clearly earlier than the 14th century church wall), but from the style of the sword, archaeologists think that it was probably carved in the 12th or 13th century.

Sword quest. Achievement unlocked. 2016. Image: Judith Winters


Ellis Davidson, H.R.  1998 The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England: Its Archaeology and Literature, Boydell Press.

Grove, L. 1938 Five Viking-Period Swords. The Antiquaries Journal, 18(3), 251-257. doi:10.1017/S000358150000723X

Perkins, J. 1941 Persistence of Viking types of sword. The Antiquaries Journal, 21(2), 158-161. doi:10.1017/S0003581500086194

And thank you to my colleague Dr Aleks McClain (Dept. Archaeology, University of York) for the pointers.

Judith Winters

Dargo the Dog

About 1km north west of Ebberston is Dargo Plantation in which can be found a memorial to Dargo, one of the dogs of the estate gamekeeper (Matthew Pateman).

The memorial is dated 1812 and so is in the time of Squire Osbaldeston’s predecessors – the Hothams. The engraving is barely visible now but thanks to some villagers in the early 1990s, who attended a course on village history (organised by the Workers’ Education Association), a booklet about the village was compiled and they were able to obtain a copy of what the engraving said. And now it can be shared again.

Enclosed beneath this peaceful shade

Dargo my faithful dog is laid

Who in his day performed a part

And gained applause from every heart

He was steady to scent and always true

For well his business Dargo knew

But now he’s gone, his work is o’er

My faithful Dargo is no more

Here snug he rests beneath these sods

And leaves the sport to other dogs

Dargo’s memorial, Ebberston. Image courtesy of Di Fletcher

Taken from: A History of Ebberston 1994 published by Centre for Continuing Education, Development and Training, University of Hull.