We visited the site in April 2000 and were totally perplexed by the layout of the stones. I'm not at all convinced that they represent a field system but cannot offer a better explanation. I contacted the National Monument Record at English Heritage about the site. They quoted the Elgee article but also sent me notes and a site plan from a survey carried out by the Scarborough and District Archaeological Society in June 1966.
They recorded measurements on 116 stones and assigned them to 5 possible rows. The stones averaged 17.1 in. in height (range 6 to 54 in.), 16.4 in. in width (range 6 to 33 in.) and 9.3 in. in depth (range 4 to 40 in.)
It was sorta strange to find out that Elgee described the Low Bridestones as "Perhaps the most remarkable example of prehistoric walling....". Cos like that was the first thought that struck me about the stones, that it was walling.....
In the Peak District there are quite a few field system walls from the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age that have the same appearance today as the Low Bridestones (tho' on a much smaller scale admittedly)....
In the case of the Peak's 'walling' the double row of larger stones and slabs once held a rubble infill....Whether that is the case here, I dunno.
Although the two larger 'gatepost' sized stones here in the Bridestones might kinda scupper the that theory......
Corkin' set of stones whatever they are anyway.....
Just down the road from the High Bridestones this is a line of stones running north-south across the hillside. The Low Bridestones are marked on the 1:25000 an 1:50000 OS Maps and are even scheduled monuments but there seems to be very little information about them, they appear to form a rough alignment but could be the remains of a field system or something else entirely. How many Bridestones? Difficult to tell, they are partly buried in high grasses and as you approach them 6-8 stones stand clear of the vegetation with the tallest standing about a metre high, but as you root round several more smaller stones are lurking in the grass to extend the alignment to about 20-30 metres in length, the total number of stones is probably between a dozen and 15 in all.
"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