|"Perhaps the most remarkable example of prehistoric walling, is that known as the Low Bride Stones at an elevation of 825 feet on the slope of Sleights Moor, a little to the west of and below the High Bride Stones. They consist of two groups. In the southerly group I counted twenty six stones, many upright, others fallen over, and all deeply weatherworn. The two tallest are between 4 and five feet high. Their arrangement suggests an alignment or wall straggling in a general north and south direction for seventy yards. In the middle of the line the stones are irregularly clustered and suggest an extremely rude circle, north and south of which they form distinct lines.
One hundred yards north of this group is a more extraordinary series. I counted sixty stones, the majority upright, the tallest 5 feet, and all deeply weatherworn. Their arrangement is decidedly complex. Young, who first described them, thought the foremed the remains of a 'camp' 170 feet square, but so "mutilated that we only meet with a great number of straggling upright stones, the remnants of demolished walls." He compares the site to his Fryup 'Camps' which, as we have seen, were fields.
I have carefully examined these stones and can say definitely that they do not form a circle. On the eastern and higher side the stones are arranged in a long irregular line, sometimes single and sometimes double. On the southern side what stones can be observed in the rank vegetation make a line at right angles to the eastern. The southern line descends the slope to the western line which, though badly preserved, is in alignment with the group of twenty six already described. Between the eastern and western lines I counted many stones, some of which seem to form lines parallel to the main lines. Other suggested circles but the whole area is so overgrown with moss and ling that their arrangement cannot be satisfactorily made out. In fact, for a prehistoric site the ground is unusually wet and boggy.
It is thus clear that the Low Bride Stones are the remains of stone walled enclosures, possibly fields.
No doubt they were erected not only as boundaries but as a symbol of a cult to promote the fertility of the crops. In fact the arrangement of the stones vividly recalls that of the menhirs aligned along the paths through the rice fields in Assam where as Mr J.H. Hutton has shown, standing-stones are associated with the dead, crops, and the reproductive powers of nature generally.
Near the stones I found a dry circular hollow and a circular stone pavement, possibly hut-sites. Round barrows are numerous on the moor above where the High Bride Stones formed the sacred site of this settlement. As a long barrow stands close to the Lower Bride Stones it is more than likely that the settlement was continuously inhabited from long-barrow times until the urn period, and that long barrow man was the first to erect stones on the spot.
Early Man in North East Yorkshire
Posted by fitzcoraldo
16th September 2003ce
Edited 16th September 2003ce