|The Blue Stone Heath, as marked on Captain Armstrong's Map of Lincolnshire, 1779; the interesting circle to its north is probably Belchford Wood, with a close examination of the marks revealing them to be trees (image: British Library).
In a field near the church, called Bound croft, is a blue stone, over which the manor court was formerly held.(7)
Ethel Rudkin noted of this in 1934 that 'the Stone lies in a field immediately north of the Church, in a depression, with banks round it' and that the Sexton at North Thoresby recalled there being a Court Day when he was lad.(8) Furthermore, in 1935 she published extracts of a mid-nineteenth-century manuscript history of Lincolnshire by John Smith of Caistor that included a tale that linked this blue stone and another at the Deserted Medieval Village of Audby/Autby in North Thoresby parish with the medieval Lincolnshire story of Havelok and Grim, the supposed founder of Grimsby (interestingly, both stones in Grimsby have been associated with figures from this too). According to Smith, he was told by locals twenty years previously that these two blue stones were magical, the one at Thoresby having the ability to control the rain and the one at Audby having the ability 'to make the corn grow', and together they caused there to be 'plenty in the land'. John Smith then went on record that he was told by the 'rustics' of Audby that:
Ivery year for a long while after the folks cam' fra far an' wide to a grand feast about the stanes, an' they were whipt till iverybody went wicked wi' prosperity. Then the Devil come an' flew away wi' Grim's stane [the Audby stone].(9)
is a large blue stone standing near the centre of an old enclosure at the north end of the village, I was met with the ready tradition that owing to its ancient votaries having made a practice of planting their rods of hazel and wych-elm in the soil around, after the ceremony of basting, a grove had grown up for its protection; hazel and wych-elm it appears offering very potent charms against necromancy...It is traditionally stated that in old time whenever the Manorial Court was held here the steward, jurymen and tenants of the Manor used to march in procession, each bearing a white hazel wand (peeled rods of ash, willow, or hazel) from the Manor House at Audeby through the village to Boundel's Croft, and there surrounding the stone, used to perform an ancient ceremony in connexion with all transfers of land.(10)
|Detail of Edward Metcalf's 1819 draft map of Grimsby for the Ordnance Survey, showing the location of the Blue Stone on the coast between Grimsby and Clee (image: British Library).
The origin of the term bluestone has not been ascertained, but the colour blue seems irrelevant to the instances known to me. There is no strong formal reason why the first element should not be Sc. *blōð ‘blood’ or even *blōt ‘sacrifice’. In either case, Sc. *stein- has presumably been replaced by its English counterpart. It is *stein- that appears in the earliest attestations of Stanholme in North Thoresby.(20)
|Bloater Hill, North Willingham, whose name may derive from Old Norse blóthaugr, 'a sacrificial mound' (image © Chris/Geograph, CC-BY-SA 2.0).
|The site of the ninth-century Gokstad ship-burial at Sandar, Sandefjord, Vestfold, Norway (left of the map, marked by an antiquity symbol) and the nearby Blåstein (right of map); click for a larger view (image: OpenStreetMap).
1. The Blue Stone Heath & Bluestone Heath Road
|The Bluestone Heath, as marked on Greenlough's A Physical and Geological Map of England and Wales, 1839 (image: David Rumsey).
2. The 'blew-stone' at Louth, aka the Louth Stone
a Druid stone, which was used perhaps on Julian Bower for an altar... (26)
3. Havelocks Stone, or 'the blew stone in Welowgate'
An ancient monument, still in existence, offers a further testimony to corroborate the story of Gryme and Haveloc. A large stone, composed of imperishable materials, said to have been brought by the Danes, out of their own country, forms the landmark which separates the parish of Grimsby from the adjoining hamlet of Wellow; and is know at this day by the significant appellation of Haveloc's Stone.(28)
4. Grimsby's blew stone on the coast by the old Race Ground
a relic of the time when the Mayor and Corporation of Grimsby "whipped the boundaries." Tradition, however, could not control the rapacity of the Grimbarians, who claimed that their Marsh extended as far as the Old Haven. The Meggies [a local name for the inhabitants of Cleethorpes] pinned their faith upon the Blue Stone, and the Kirton Quarter Sessions of 1828 pronounced in their favour. The town was not going to be brow-beaten by the village, verdict or no verdict; Grimsby turned its cattle to graze between the Blue Stone and the Old Haven. Cleethorpes promptly impounded them. Grimsby sent out a hundred stalwarts armed with bludgeons to assault the pound and rescue the cattle. Cleethorpes charged them with pound-breach, and nine of the enemy went to prison. Grimsby thereupon adopted the Meggy plan of campaign and impounded all Cleethorpes cattle found on the North of the Old Haven. Cleethorpes again invoked the law, and at the Lincoln Assizes of 1830 the matter was finally settled in their favour. (32)
5. The Humberstone
6 & 7. The blue stones at North Thoresby and AudbyThe North Thoresby stone, located in a field immediately to the north of the church, seems to be first recorded as a 'blue stone' in the early nineteenth century, but the field-name Stayneholme, recorded in 1451–53 and surviving as 'Stanholme Lane' running around the field to the north of the church, suggests that it was certainly in place by that date at the latest. Ethel Rudkin and others have chronicled a number of fascinating tales and superstitions surrounding the North Thoresby stone and an apparent now-lost twin at the DMV of Audby, which are given at length above. The stone seems to have functioned as a meeting-place and court-site, as well as being credited with some sort of role in ensuring rain. Further details of local traditions about the site are given by Walter Johnson, who recorded the following in 1908:
An old lady, born in 1819, told me that in her childhood the village fair of North Thoresby (Lincs.) was held near the church, in a field which had a large blue stone in the middle. Around this stone games were played. Villagers born a little later, say 1830–40, could tell nothing of the custom... the jury of the manorial courts formerly met at this stone, within 'an old enclosure'...(33)
|The site of the Blue Stone at North Thoresby to the north of St Helen's Church; note the street-name Stanholme Lane, aka 'the gate [road] that comes from Stainholme' (1664), around the field in question, which preserves the fifteenth-century name Stayneholme, probably referring to the meeting-stone in this field. The third side of the field is marked by 'Bond Croft Drain', which matches the later-recorded name for this field, 'Boundel's Croft' (image: imagery © 2021 CNES/Airbus, Getmapping plc, Infoterra Ltd & Bluesky, Maxar Technologies; map data © 2021 Google. Click here for a larger, zoomable version).
8. The West Ravendale Blueston
9. The Immingham Bluestone
My grandmother lived at 7 Bluestone Lane from the 1930s to the 1990s and my mother from when she was born in 1930s to marrying my dad in the late 1960s. I spent every summer of my childhood there. The stone is a glacial erratic and no-one knew for sure where it came from. It was originally further up Bluestone Lane, about half way up on the right hand side going towards the church. In this location it was laid on its side and kids used to play on it, sliding down it. It was a well known meeting place in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. It may have been taken from a field at the top of the Lane and placed there... When the Bluestone pub was built in 1961 it was moved to the corner of Habrough Road and Bluestone Lane and set on a plinth in its current upright position. The locals did not want it to be moved and there was a belief that moving it would bring bad luck, but as far as my mum can remember nothing bad happened after it was moved. Bluestone Lane has always been called that, even before any houses were built there and it was just a lane through the fields leading to the church (the first houses, including no.7, were built in the 1920s) and the bluestone has always been there, hence the name of the Lane.(36)
10. The 'blue coggul' at Risby