BOROUGHBRIDGE, a market-town and chapelry, in the parish of Aldborough, Lower division of the wapentake of Claro, W. riding of York, 17½ miles (N. W. by W.) from York, and 206 (N. N. W.) from London; containing 1024 inhabitants. This place, which has risen into importance since the decline of Aldborough, within half a mile of which it is situated, derives its name from a bridge erected here over the river Ure, soon after the Conquest, when the road was diverted from Aldborough, and brought through this town. In 1318, it was burnt by Earl Douglas, at the head of a band of Scots, who ravaged the northern parts of England. In 1322, a battle was fought near the bridge, between the forces of Edward II. and those of the celebrated Earl of Lancaster; the latter were defeated, and the earl, having taken refuge in the town, which was assaulted on the following day, was made prisoner and conveyed to Pontefract, where he was soon afterwards beheaded. Of this battle, a memorial was exhibited in the number of human bones, swords, fragments of armour, and other military relics, which, in raising the bank of the Ure in 1792, were found near the spot.
The town has been greatly improved, and is pleasantly situated on the southern bank of the river, over which is a handsome stone bridge on the site of a former one of wood: the streets are partially paved, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water from springs and from the river. A court-house was built in 1836. The trade of the town is principally derived from its situation on the high road to Edinburgh. In 1846 an act was passed, enabling the York and Newcastle Railway Company to make a branch to Boroughbridge, 5¾ miles long. The market is on Saturday; and large fairs are held on April 27th, June 22nd, Aug. 16th, Oct. 23rd, and Dec. 13th, each for two days: the fair in June, which continues for a week, is chiefly celebrated for horses and hardware, and the others are for cattle and sheep. In the market-place, which is in the centre of the town, is a handsome fluted column of the Doric order, twelve feet high. The constables and other officers are chosen annually at the court leet of the lord of the manor. The elective franchise was conferred in the reign of Mary, from which time the borough returned two members to parliament, until disfranchised by the 2nd and 3rd of William IV., cap. 45.
The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £83; patron, the Vicar of Aldborough. Besides the chapel, there are places of worship for Particular Baptists and Wesleyans. To the west of the town are three large pyramidal stones, ranged in a straight line, in a direction from north to south; the central one, which is the largest, is 30½ feet in height: they are vulgarly called the Devil's Arrows, and were originally four in number. The purpose of their erection is involved in obscurity: some suppose them to have been raised in memory of a reconciliation effected between Caracalla and Geta, sons of the Emperor Severus who died at York. Camden considers them to have been Roman trophies; but though they may probably have been used by that people as metæ in the celebration of their chariot races, their origin appears to be more remote. Stukeley refers them to the earliest times of the Britons, and is of opinion that here was the great Panegyre of the Druids, where the inhabitants of the neighbouring district assembled to offer the sacrifices. From its proximity to Aldborough, a celebrated Roman station, the town has become the depository of numerous relics, consisting of tessellated pavements and coins, several of which have been found here; and in the immediate vicinity, the remains of a Roman wall are still discernible.