Young Ralph Cross

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‘Young Ralph’ is much better known than his older brother, being on the logo of the North York Moors National Park.
Young Ralphs Cross
A cross at this location may date back as far as the 11th century, but the current cross is thought to be from the 18th century.
Young Ralphs Cross
The cross is currently in three pieces after being damaged in the1960s (see photo) and 1980s. It actually seems to have been extended compared to this old postcard, and the “R” seems to be no longer there.


The common tale told is that of a farmer called Ralph erected the cross after finding the body of a traveller here, the hollow carved in the top of the cross being left to hold coins for anyone in need of help. My grandfather would always stop here and lift me up to put coins in the top.


9 thoughts on “Young Ralph Cross

  1. There should be a “Show on map” link at the top of every post. But i’ve heard it doesn’t display on things like iphones and mobile browsers.

    • It seems that the Cross may have been knocked over as a result of people trying to look on top. In the ‘old days’ it was a supposed tradition to leave ‘alms’, i.e. a few coins, for the benefit if poor travellers – hence the scooped out bit at the top. Bill Cowley in one of the editions of his Lyke Wake Walk book says that when the cross was re-erected (50’s or 60’s) someone welded a thri’penny bit or sixpence on the top. I tried to check this out once with one of my sons on my shoulders but the combined height wasn’t enough to see – perhaps with a selfy stick you could get a pick of the top! The ‘leaving of alms’ tradition seem to have been transferred to the nearby Fat Betty (White Cross on OS maps)

      • I think the damage was done by a car, rather than people trying to look in the top.

        As a child in the 80s there were always a few pennies left in the top.

  2. From the old picture it looks like only the cross head is original now. Lower pieces look to be ‘dressed’ blocks rather than having the same finish as the head

  3. Found this.
    Over the centuries the cross has suffered damage and vandalism by being knocked down, particularly in the 1960s and again in 1984 after which it lay in two pieces. However, in 1985 the cross was lovingly restored and re-erected by some local men, Mr Robert Dixon, Mr Tom Rudd and Mr Michael Smith, at the English Heritage Commission’s stone masonry workshop at Mount Grace Priory. The middle section of the cross was made from new stone from nearby quarries; the top section was not badly damaged, but a section of delta metal was inserted inside the shaft to make a secure link between the sections and the cross-head. The cross is a listed monument.

  4. Regarding the name Ralph. There’s folk tale that tells of ‘Ord Ralph Rosdil who guided the Prioress of Baysdale Abbey and Rosedale Abbey during a boundary dispute. It is said they were lost in a fog and Ralph found on Prioress, Sister Margery, sitting on Margery Bradley Stone. He found the other Prioress, Sister Betty, sitting on the Fat Betty Cross. He guided them safely to the site of Old Ralphs Cross for their meeting.
    The Trailblazer Guide to Crosses & Stones on the NYM. J. Brian Beedle

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