One romantic theory behind the stones

Peter Keeble's image of stones at Long Dale
Peter Keeble's image of stones at Long Dale

How interesting that Peter Keeble (Mercury May 16) wants to know the secrets of the triptych stones carved in limestone in Long Dale, near Pikehall.

I have researched stone origins for over 50 years and have a particular interest in those throughout Derbyshire.

There are at least three possibilities for the origin of the Pikehall Stones; my favourite is surrounded in love.

In the middle of the 14th Century the knave of Canterbery Cathedral was being rebuilt under the direction of master stonemason, Henry Yevele. Tired of French and reclaimed Roman stone he considered Derbyshire Limestone to have possibilities, because of it’s ability to enhance healing, it’s encouragement of purification and association with innocence.

He was rumoured to visit Pikehall, already a tight community (even before the “Y Not Festival”), with his deputy Terep Belkee, who went on to become head teacher in a Cathedral School in Barham,Kent.

The legend goes that Terep fell in passionatelove with a young Pikehall maiden called Lettice Lor. Whose heart was doomed to be broken when her new beau returned south. Sure enough it was, but before leaving Terep carved the stones.

The sun, because of the light Lor had brought to his life; the swifts (not swallows) because of the speed of their romance, and the inscription “ we meet to create memories and depart to cherish them”, is self explanatory

Although almost impossibly difficult in Medieval times, Lettice Lor followed Terep back to Canterbury and worked with him at the school. They returned to Derbyshire in later life apparently to check on the stones and renew their vows.

Dr Peter Laight

Via email