The High Bride Stones 1817-1995

Other collections of upright stones, arranged in lines, or placed without apparent order, are found in several parts. On Sleights moor there are a remarkable assemblage of this description, called the high Bride stones, forming a kind of irregular line, and perhaps originally an avenue. There were 11 upright stones in this cluster some years ago: at present there are only 6 standing, and 3 or 4 that have fallen down: none of them exceeding 7 or 8 feet high.

A History of Whitby. George Young 1817

High Bridestones

The only other stone circles known to me are the High Bride Stones, near large and small barrows, at an altitude of 900 feet on Sleights Moor. To-day six only are standing, and at least fourteen are fallen. The most conspicuous stone is 7 feet high and terribly weathered. Near it lie three others nearly as long, and another about 4 feet long, which together with the upright stone form a semi-circle. Some distance to the south stands a solitary stone about 3 feet high. Thirty yards north of the semi-circle, three upright stones from 2-3 feet high form part of another circle, the remaining stones of which to the number of at least eight have fallen over and are more or less hidden in the heather. Further north are two fallen stones and still further in the same direction is a monolith 6 feet high high and deeply rain furrowed. Thus the High Bride Stones, which from north to south extend about 150 yards, seem to have originally consisted of adjacent circles, one of large, the other of smaller stones, with outlying monoliths. Despite their deplorable state they are the most impressive standing-stones in North-east Yorkshire.

Early Man in N.E. Yorkshire. Frank Elgee. 1930

High Bridestones 1

At the northern end, on Sleights Moor, the High and Low Bridestones offer an interesting contrast; the latter are natural formations, curious weathered blocks of sandstone, some of which look like  huge toadstools, raised on narrow stems. The High Bridestones, on the other hand, though hardly so fine to look at, are human handiwork, a stone circle of the Bronze Age; the individual monoliths are many of them very large, and although today more than half have fallen, this remains easily the best sanctuary of its kind in this part of the country.

A Guide to the Prehistoric and Roman Monuments in England and Wales. Jacquetta Hawkes. 1951

Note. The natural formations referred to by Hawkes are located in the Dalby Forest. The Low Bridestones on Sleights Moor are a number of low standing stones that have been interpreted as prehistoric walling.

High Bridestones2

On a bleak, often waterlogged limestone pavement the High Bridestones have been all things to all men. Even the name is deceptive. It has nothing to do with nuptials, sex or fertility symbolism. It relates to Brigid, the goddess of the Bigantes, the Iron Age tribe that inhabited this grim, windblown region. There have been varying interpretations of the eleven stones of which six stand. They have been called the remains of two stone circles with outliers to the north and south; standing stones among natural outcrops; and a ruinous double row or avenue. They may, instead, be the wreckage of two Four-Posters.

A. At the north-west and at right-angles to the line like a terminal stone on Dartmoor there is a single stone 5ft 2ins (1.6m) high. To its south-east, 190ft (58m) away, are three stones at the corner of a rectangle 25ft by 20ft (7.6 x 6.1m) from which the north-east stone is missing. The tallest pillar, 4ft 5ins (1.3m) high is at the south-east. The setting resembles a ‘christianised’ Four-Poster.

B. A further 76ft (23.2m) south-east is a low, loose stump and 28ft (8.5m) beyond it is a very questionable Four-Poster in such a disastrous state that little can be claimed for it. The biggest stone, 7ft 6ins (2.3m) high, still stands and around it in confusion lie three slabs, 8ft 4ins, 10ft and 7ft 6ins (2.5, 3.1, 2.3m) long. If this megalithic disaster had have been a Four-Poster its rectangle would have been about 15ft by 13ft (4.6 x 4m). Like the more identifiable setting to the north-west its sides would have been roughly aligned on the cardinal points.

A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany. Aubrey Burl. 1995

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5 thoughts on “The High Bride Stones 1817-1995

  1. Stunning photography…I am hugely interested in megaliths and stone circles myself – these are some of the best photos I have seen of them. Such a shame that they are lain ruined and neglected. One near us had a load of oil drums placed in it’s midst by the farmer and one was knocked down to fix a barn in the 60’s. Just a shame people aren’t better educated about them.

    • Thanks for your kind comments, as you may have guessed, I share your deep interest in megaliths, rock art and all things prehistoric. It would be great if this site could be excavated and the original post holes located to understand the true nature of the structures here but I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. Hopefully, given the resources that are now available via the internet including your lovely blog, people will have a greater awareness of what is around them and therefore be more vigilant when it comes to protecting these beautiful sites. There has been some work done at the Bride Stones to prevent access from the road onto the moor by 4×4 vehicles, the site used to be quite shocking with the loss of ground cover and subsequent erosion. I have also noticed that the practice of jamming coins into the cracks of the largest stone seems to have decreased, all of which can only be for the good.

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