ON A hill to the south-west of Steeton, known as Great Snowden, are two rocks with curious lozenges cut into them, writes Robin Longbottom.

Some two miles to the south-west is another stone, Pole Stoop, with a lozenge cut into the side of it.

All three stones are located along the ancient boundary with Keighley, which is first recorded in an account of a boundary riding that took place in 1582.

Steeton was once one of the most important manors in the area.

Held by the famous Percy family of Spofforth, who later became the Dukes of Northumberland and resided at Alnwick, they in turn granted it to the de Stivertons who resided at Steeton Hall.

A fine effigy of Sir Robert de Stiverton, who died in 1307, can be found in Kildwick Church.

He is dressed in full armour complete with sword and shield, and the shield is of particular interest because it displays his coat of arms which consists of three lozenges, known as fusils in heraldry.

When the de Stiverton line failed in the mid-14th century the Percys passed the manor into the hands of the de Plumptons, who also held Eastburn and may well have merged both into the single township of Steeton with Eastburn.

The coat of arms of the Plumptons can also be seen on an effigy in Spofforth Church and consists of five lozenges, each surmounted by a scallop shell.

During the Tudor period lords of the manor began to mark particular boundary stones with their initial or initials to commemorate a boundary riding having taken place.

Unlike in the south of England, the 'beating of the bounds' was not an annual occurrence but only took place once every seven years or more.

By putting a mark on a stone, the inhabitants of a manor could associate it with the year of the riding and thereafter would mark another stone and so on, there are therefore usually no two marks that are alike.

The reason the people of Steeton used the lozenge and not the initials of their lord lies back in 1461 on the bloody battlefield of Towton.

Here during the Wars of the Roses the Lancastrian forces of Henry VI were soundly beaten by the Yorkists and during the slaughter of battle Thomas Plumpton, heir to the Steeton estate and who fought for the Lancastrians, was killed.

He left behind him a wife and two daughters and a father who subsequently attempted to disinherit his granddaughters in favour of his younger son, Robert.

The two granddaughters appealed to the courts to regain their inheritance and so started one of the longest legal battles in English history.

For a period of just over 50 years the two girls contested their uncle's right to their father's estates and it was not until 1513 that the matter was finally settled in their favour by Henry VIII.

As a consequence the manor of Steeton was divided between two families and eventually between three and so it was impossible to choose one family's initials over another and therefore the people of Steeton chose the heraldic lozenge from the shields of the de Stivertons and the Plumptons.

In the early 1600s the Garforths of Steeton bought up the separate manorial interests one by one and the manor was united once again under one family.

The use of the lozenge as a boundary marker was then discontinued and replaced by the letter G for Garforth.

The three surviving lozenge boundary marks were therefore inscribed between 1513 and about 1600.

Unfortunately the stones on Great Snowden are on private land and can only be visited with permission from the owners.

However, Pole Stoop, just off Pole Road in Aden on Sutton Moor, is in a field crossed by a footpath and only a short distance from it.

Of course Pole Stoop is today nowhere near the Steeton boundary but before the Keighley Inclosure Act in 1780 the land from Steeton as far as the stoop was considered to fall within the manor.