The ‘Plague’ or ‘Vinegar’ Stone on Chapel Lane at the Boundary between Cracoe and Rylstone Parishes
Chapel Lane is part of an old track-way leading up the Dales via Cracoe from Rylstone where it links in to the old Skipton-Rylstone road. It was also the route for Cracoe people attending St. Peter's Church (previously a chapelry of Burnsall Parish - hence 'Chapel Lane'. At the point where the Rylstone-Cracoe boundary crosses the lane is to be found an old stone trough, which is often said to be the base of an old Quaker cross.
Local legend has it that during the 1665 plague, from which Rylstone people suffered, but Cracoe folks did not, vinegar was placed in its hollow and Cracoe people placed food underneath the stone in exchange for money left in the vinegar by their Rylstone neighbours. Hence the old local name for this artefact is 'the vinegar stone'. (Parish Magazine, 1978).
Photo of part of Chapel Lane The 'Plague Stone' on Chapel Lane
(Photograph taken by Humphrey Bolton (Photo taken by Lynne Primmer, RP)
and freely available from geograph.org.uk)
The Rylstone Plague Stone is not unique. ‘Plague stones are found across England, usually in the form of hollowed-out stones or boulders, relics of the medieval plagues. Stone boulders with hollowed-out depressions, or sometimes the bases of crosses, were filled with vinegar and placed at or near parish boundaries. Vinegar was used as a disinfectant in the hope that the community could buy food and other goods without fear of contagion. Residents placed coins in the vinegar-filled hollows to pay outsiders for goods or food left by the stone, believing that might halt the spread of the deadly disease'. From Plague stones (engole.info).