Stoops, Stoups or Stopes?

Jill Sykes

 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

Stone Gate Posts are usually known by the farming community as stoops in the north west. Many old ones were not used with gates, but with poles slotted into angled grooves, which were more suitable to keep in cattle, than smaller sheep.

Later, the traditional five barred gates were hung on local made pegs and iron hinges and bands. They were fixed to the stone stoop, with lead in a drilled hole. As today the gates were fastened with a chain looped over an iron peg.

From the 1950s tractors came into use and gate openings had to be widened. Today you will see the stone stoop remaining at one side of the opening, with a concrete or timber post substituted at the other side. The original stone post is often turned through 90 degrees to show a narrower face and therefore take up less room in the opening. When this widening has happened in a dry stone wall, the 'widened' end of the wall often does not have the purpose built stone stouped end that the opening originally had, but a quick make-do finish.

For a stone stoop to be well set, half its height above the ground is bedded in below the ground. This is very labour intensive hence the use of concrete or timber when widening. Old stone posts often lie abandoned inside the field, now nearly grown over.

Gatepost at Miresfield, Malham
Stoop: Lawk land to Eldroth