AN HISTORIC milepost stolen from the A64 near York has been recovered – after eagle-eyed enthusiasts spotted it for sale on the internet.

The Victorian, cast-iron landmark, which pointed the distance to Malton and York, disappeared from near The Highwayman Café three years ago.

But a member of the Milestone Society, a registered charity, spotted the sign on the online auction site eBay, and City of York Council is now planning to put it back in place.

The council recently collected the marker from Fulford Police Station, before its blacksmiths team restored it. The post, which is grade II listed, has now been sandblasted, welded and repainted.

Terry Collins, the council’s director of neighbourhood services, said: “I’m delighted that the milepost was spotted on eBay by the Milestone Society.

“The post has been restored by our in-house blacksmiths team and we’re currently liaising with the Highways Agency to try to get it back in its rightful place as soon as possible.”

The milepost was made by Mattison’s of Leeming Bar, Bedale. The firm, F Mattison and Co, is now long gone, but was once one of the biggest employers in Leeming Bar.

Its foundry operated from 1851 to 1937, and it is thought the post was put up between 1851 and 1865.

The modern-day A64 follows the line of the turnpike, or toll, road from York to Scarborough. The York to Scarborough turnpike trust was established in 1752, with power to collect tolls.

With the coming of canal and railways, the turnpikes became increasingly uneconomic and the York-Scarborough Turnpike Trust expired in 1865.

According to the Milestone Society’s website, theft of markers is an increasing problem throughout the country.

The society, founded in 2001, is keen to prevent the loss of these markers, which it says are part of Britain’s national heritage.

Milestones or posts beside a road belong to the authority responsible for the upkeep of the road, and therefore unauthorised removal constitutes a crime. Stolen milestones often turn up at car-boot sales or antiques fairs, in private gardens, and on commercially-based websites, as in this case.