The Bull Stone

OS Grid Reference – SE 20675 43469

NB. The stone can be seen from a public footpath, but it actually stands in a farmers field with no right of way to it.

The origins on the Bull Stone are uncertain although several theories abound. It is very weathered and so has probably stood out in the elements for a long time and is maybe of Bronze Age origin. Is it a marker stone or route finder? A boundary stone? A Roman milestone as it stands near to the route of the  Roman between Ilkley and Adel?

Drawing on a listing by the Aireborough Historical Society, Philomen Slater gives an explanation  from folklore:

‘Fastening bulls to it when they were baited by dogs, a custom still know to Carlton farmers’

In the same article, a couple of other suggestions:

the word bull derives from an obsolete Yorkshire word “bull-steann” meaning a stone used as a whetstone for sharpening knives and tools

‘It is also thought that the bull stone didn’t stand in isolation and could have been part of a line of stones.’

Further reference: