Small stones painted with images of Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes appeared in Skipton just before Christmas.

Shoppers, shopkeepers and residents started noticing that the stones had been placed on the doorsteps and window ledges outside shops and cafés in the town centre on Saturday, December 22.

The mysterious pieces were actually the handiwork of a group of six people from Skipton Baptist Church.

Associate minister Lisa Holmes, minister’s wife Helen Burns and four other people from the church hand painted 140 stones and went out on the Friday evening to distribute them around the town centre.

“We put them out without people knowing about it as we thought this would be a subtle and careful way to remind people about Christmas,” said Lisa. “When Jesus came into the world, he did it in a quiet way as well.

“At the time, for most people life just carried on as normal.

“We’re just excited that people have found them,” she said.

“We wanted to put them in public places where people would notice them.”

Shops and cafés were not the only places the stones could be found, they were also placed at cashpoints, ticket machines and inside Skipton Library.

Lisa said that she and Helen got the idea after reading about an artist doing a similar thing at Newquay in Cornwall in 2008, which proved very popular with Christmas shoppers in the seaside town.

Last year Lisa and Helen painted around 70 stones and hid them around Skipton Baptist Church during its 2011 carol service.

This Christmas, they expanded their efforts to include the whole of Skipton town centre.

“I’m pleased to hear that people have been seeing them around,” added Lisa.

“People have been moving them around and little children have picked them up.

“It’s good to hear because some people don’t think Christmas is about Jesus at all.”