Kellington with Whitley Parish
In the churchyard, which for the place is rather unusually large, lies an old stone in a horizontal position, upon which very legibly appears, in the middle a cross, on the right side of which is a recumbent figure of a man with clasped hands, at his feet a dog, at his head something which cannot easily be deciphered, and on the left what seems to be a serpent, on each side of the top of the cross are also what appear to be two embossed circles. At the upper end of this lid or cover may also be seen, on another detached perpendicular stone, a similar cross ; no inscription whatever can be discovered on either. This, I conjecture, was the cover of a coffin. It perhaps may be objected that the breadth of the stone is not sufficiently large for that purpose. But may it not have been let into the coffin? Marks of holes still remaining, where lead has been used, may perhaps strengthen this supposition. Where the stone was originally placed is entirely unknown.
The traditionary account of this curious antiquarian relic is as follows :
In former times the districts adjoining this place, from its marshy situation, and abounding much with low wood and shrubs, afforded a retreat for reptiles of several kinds, among which was reared a serpent of enormous size, which proved very destructive to the flocks of sheep which depastured in its vicinity. This, however, was at length subdued, though with the loss of his own life, as well as that of his faithful dog, by a shepherd of the name of Armroyd. The stone is supposed to be intended to commemorate this occurrence; the cross upon it being imagined to represent a crook or dagger, by which this fierce and terrible invader of his fleecy care was at last extirpated. Armroyd Close, a parcel of ground situated at the point bounding the four divisions of the parish, and where it may well be supposed was placed a cross, is reported to have been given to the descendants of the courageous Armroyd for his signal services; and the rectorial tythes of which were bequeathed by theirs to the Vicar of Kellington, while the landed property itself is vested in the Trustees for the Free-school at Tadcaster.