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of the Vavasours; a branch of which, resided here, before the year 1570, and after the year 1610. The situation is on a small eminence, commanding a fine view of the surrounding country. Over the front door, is a shield of arms, cut in stone ; containing those of Vavasour, Ingilby, and several others. The estate, consisting of 404 acres, was lately purchased by Matthew Thackwray, esq..
Harrogate, to Almias-Cliff.--Harewood.
AS-CLIFF, i. e., Altar-Cliff;* a group of
-“ rocks, on a bigh hill, about five miles south-west of Harrogate, which appear, at a distance, like some stupendous fabric, tumbled into ruins. On the summit of this enormous pile, are several basons, hollowed in the stone; one of which, is fourteen inches deep, and two feet four inches in diameter: near this bason, is a cavity, in the form of a parallelogram, or long square. It is the opinion of mr. Borlase, in his history of Cornwall, that the Druids made choice of situations like this, for the celebration of their religious rites; and, believes the basons were formed, to receive the water which came from the clouds, as the purest of all fluids; and, used by them, for the purposes of lustration, and purification. + The irregular cavaties, mr. Borlase supposes, were to receive the bodies of children, for the cure of particular disorders. Into these basons, the country people berea. bouts, do frequently drop a pin; to which ceremony, they certainly annex the idea of propitiation, as they confess, their motive is to obtain good fortune. The Druidical rites and ceremonies, in Britain, were (according to Tacitus,) abolished, in the time of Nero; yet, such is the amazing power of superstition, that, we still find some shadowy traces of them remain here, and in many other places, after a period of near two thousand years.
* Al, a rock, or cliff ; mias, an altar. Vide Shaw's Celtic dictionary.
+ It is very probable, that the vessel, called the holy water bason, used in our ancient churches, is derived from this origin. See Bower's life of Alcxander, the fifth bishop of Rome.
On the west side of the rock, is a fissure, called FAIRY-PARLOUR. This cavernous hole, which dips from north-west to nearly south-east, has been explored to a very great length; but, where it ends, is yet unknown.
Near Fairy-parlour, are the remains of a rockingstone; part of which, hath been evidently cut away, to prevent it's moving.
In the valley below, are two upright stones; the form of each, is that of an irregular wedge, about twelve feet high, and both very much corroded by the weather. The singular shape and position of these stones, have led some to suppose they were rock-idols, in those dark ages, when the rude britons bowed down to the spreading oak, and adored the massy column*.
Ossian thus describes a british prince, returning from his devotions.
“ GRUMAL was the chief of Cona. He sought the “ battle, on every coast. His soul rejoiced in blood: “ his ears, in the din of arms. He poured his warriors “ on Craca; Craca's king met him, returning from his “ GROVE: for then, within the circle of Bruno, he
spake to the STONE of power."
The surrounding country, seen from this lofty hill, affords a prospect, scarcely to be equalled. On one side, are steril, and bleak mountains, covered with ling; on the other side, (making the contrast as great as possible) is a delightful view of Wharfdale, through which, that fine river rolls, in a broad and rapid stream.
On, the farther bank of the river, stands the ruins of HAREWOOD-CASTLE, the Town, and CHURCH, with HAREWOOD-HOUSE, the princely residence of Edward, lord Harewood; behind which, the hills of Derbyshire are seen, at the distance of sixty miles.
* The canons of king Edgar, (who died about the year 975) were 67 in number; the sixteenth of which, forbids the worship of trees, rocks, fountains, and other remaining rites, of pagan superstition.
At the foot of Almias-Cliff, is a small village called RIGTON, i.e., the town on the ridge. The manor-house stood at the east end of this village; the site of which, now only remains, including near an acre of ground, encompassed by a moat.
The manor of Rigton, of which, this rock is the boundary, on one side, was granted, by Hugh de Lechley, to the monks of Fountains-abbey, with the homages and services of all tenants, and their heirs, and all natives, i. e., slaves; together with all their chattels, and the produce of them. On the dissolution of Fountains-abbey, this manor continued in the crown, till the year, 1556, when it was sold, to sir William Fairfax, for £226 75. 6d.. It continued in this family, till the year 1716, when it was sold, under a decree in chancery, to Robert Wilkes, esq.; from whom, it descended to his great grand-daughter, the only daughter and heiress of Charlton Palmer, esq., of Beckenham, in Kent, and lady of the rev. doctor Thomas Pollock, of whom it was purchased, by lord Harewood, in 1796. This manor was anciently esteemed, part of the forest of Knaresbrough.
ABOUT three miles north-west of this place; and, op the summit of a hill, is
AROUND which, the far distant mountains, form a