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Mounting blocks

Horse riding near Kilnsey
Photographer: Paul Harris
Horse riding near Kilnsey


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What are mounting blocks?

Wherever horses are ridden, it is helpful to have an easy way to get on them. Mounting blocks are a set of stone steps. They can be made of dressed stone, rubble or stone blocks with flagstone treads.

For example, the mounting block on Main Street in Askrigg is dressed stonework selected to match the probable nineteenth century frontage of the house. In contrast the block at the front of the Sun Inn at Dent is built up of painted stone blocks.

Mounting blocks will often have steps on just one side rather than both sides as with the Askrigg example. It is also easy to mistake mounting blocks with some churn stands. Some churn stands have a step or steps. Also it is possible some churn stands will have been used for mounting horses.

When were they used

Before major roads being turnpiked in the later eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, travel was difficult for carriages. Travelling on horseback was probably the easiest mode of transport. Riding to travel remained popular in the Yorkshire Dales until the twentieth century. The racing and breeding of horses continues to be of real importance in lower Wensleydale.

Where can you find them?

There are many more mounting blocks in the Yorkshire Dales than the six currently recorded within the Historic Environment Record (HER). They are usually built onto or next to buildings, normally next to the road. Four of the six mounting blocks recorded are next to public houses (or former public houses) – they could have been a necessity for some patrons after an evening’s drinking! Pubs could therefore prove to be a good starting point for your search for new examples. Similarly, churches and some public buildings - those to which people would frequently travel - may also be likely locations to find mounting blocks.

As mounting blocks are often found within settlements, some will consequently be protected within part of a wider designation such as a conservation area. A few will be protected because they fall within the boundaries of a listed building, but many won’t have any level of protection.


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