Ryedale parish population estimate: 70 (1999)
Oldstead - today
Oldstead is a small village, between Kilburn and Wass. It lies in a romantic situation, among the pleasant wooded valleys of this secluded area below the craggy ghylls and tree-clothed slopes of the Hambleton Hills.
Oldstead - a History
A community of Cistercian monks built a church and grange here in 1147 and lived here for thirty years before moving to Byland; the remains of their settlement, which they called "Stocking", lie under the turf near a field still called "Chapel Garth".
On a hilltop to the north of the village is "Scotch Corner" the site of a battle in 1322 between the English under Edward 11 and the Scots under Robert the Bruce. A battle that the English lost. King Edward, who had been lodging at Byland, was almost captured and the Abbey was sacked.
Running through the site of the battlefield is the old "Drovers road", used by the Scots drovers in the 17th and 18th centuries to bring their livestock to sell further south. One of the drovers' stopping points was the "Scotch Corner Inn". The Inn and farmhouse fell into ruin early in the 20th century but in 1957, a local sculptor, John Bunting from Ampleforth, built a memorial chapel on the site, using the old stone from the former buildings. The Chapel is dedicated to the memory of the sculptor's friends who lost their lives in the 1939-45 war.
Another landmark on the hilltop to the north-east, is the "Oldstead Observatory", a stone-built tower erected in 1838 to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Victoria. The tower was built by John Wormald, a timber merchant and entrepreneur, who lived at Oldstead Hall at that time. Unfortunately, the tower has become hidden by trees in recent years and no longer imposes its presence on the valley below. This has lead to the mistaken belief that it has fallen down. This is not the case and it is, in fact, in excellent repair.
In spite of its isolation, Oldstead is a pleasant village and a favourite area for walkers, who enjoy its woods and valleys far from traffic noise and pollution.
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OLDSTEAD, in the parish of Kilburn and wapentake of Birdforth (Oldstead Grange, the seat of Thomas Paul, Esq.); 7 miles N. of Easingwold