Written Stone Lane is little more than a country lane today, but it is part of an old Roman road and was once a thoroughfare. It takes its name from a large slab of stone on the wayside, on which is written ‘Ravffe Radcliffe Laid This Stone to Lye For Ever A.D. 1655’. The words are deeply cut into this stone, which is huge – nine feet long, two feet wide and a foot thick.
Tales speak of a horrible murder committed here, the victim’s subsequent troublesome spirit being exorcised or ‘laid’ under the stone. Several members of the Radcliffe family did pass away just before the date on the stone, so perhaps the victim was one of them?
If the laying of the stone was indeed intended as an exorcism, it does not seem to have been successful. Local people were always convinced that a boggart still haunted the stone. One doctor, passing the stone on horseback one night, was thrown from his seat when his horse reared at some invisible threat. The story says that the doctor, not to be outdone, went up to the stone and threatened the boggart, which then materialised and tried to throttle him!
Many years later, the residents of the nearby farm decided the slab of stone would be ideal for use in their new buttery. Paying no heed to the old legends, the farmer went with two of his horses to drag the stone down the hill to his farm. Despite the fact that the route was all downhill, the task took hours and the horses, when they had completed their work, were exhausted.
After the stone was installed in the buttery, it very soon became apparent that there might have been some truth in the tales after all. Nothing would stand up straight on the stone, which seemed to be able to tip off any dish or jug or kettle placed upon it. What’s more, when the farmer was in bed at night, he could not sleep for the noise of smashing crockery. He realised that the stone would have to go back where it obviously belonged.
Next day, he set about moving the stone again – but even though the return journey was uphill, only one horse was needed and the job was over in no time. And no-one has ever tried to move the stone again.