An ancient stone with a grisly history has been stolen from a Dales village.
And if village folklore is to be believed, a curse could be facing the thieves that took the “Gibbet Stone” from Lea.
The landmark had stood at the Shaw Lane Junction with Dethick Lane for hundreds of years.
It was once used to support the gibbet – a wooden beam mounted in a square socket hole – where the bodies of wrongdoers would have been strung up and left to rot as a warning to others.
Parish councillors and police are urging anyone with information about the large circular stone, which was set in the verge, to come forward.
Walker Linda Hardy, of Brackenfield, was shocked to find a piece of the area’s history had been stolen.
She said: “Imagine my surprise to see that the ancient stone had been removed. Judging by the wide tyre tracks slashing the verge, someone backed a JCB up to it and loaded up the historic relic, no doubt intending to break it up and sell it for rockery stone.”
She added: “I remember an old man who lived in the area once saying to me that anyone who moved a stone with such a dark and bloody history would surely find that a curse went with it.
“Anyone who knows where the Gibbet Stone was taken might want to think on this.”
Dethick Lea and Holloway Parish Council clerk Linda McCormick, said a number of residents had contacted the council about the stone – which has been missing for around three weeks.
She added: “Everyone is very upset about it and we can’t understand why anyone would take it. We have had a few people bring it to our attention and we have got the police involved. We wonder if someone has stolen it to order. It just seems a very strange thing to do.”
n Do you know anything about the stone’s disappearance or its history. Let us know at email@example.com or contact the police on 0345 123 3333.