I parked on the Hepple to Holystone road next to something called a Bastle, of which there are a few hereabouts, what one is I don't know, a castle with a cold probably.
There is no path to the stones from here, but with a good os map it should be easy enough, a good os map is needed for all places round here.
Eric was initially unimpressed with the site "is that it" he said , we had come a long way perhaps he was expecting some thing more.
After we had cleared and flattened as much bracken as possible and Eric had climbed up the biggest stone the place was much more agreeable.
Away over the trees at the armies otterburn camp the army was letting rip with the big guns, rifles punctuated by cannon fire, this was no grouse shoot.
So what happened to the fifth king ? I think it was he who turned these four kings to stone, as kings aren't really known for dancing on the sabbath, and they definatley don't conga. The stones are set at strange angles to each other specially the wide terminal stone at the west end.
The two end stones are much bigger than the inner two. A good stone row, pity about the view.
There are only 4 stones remaining. With plantation on three sides, and Dues hill rising behind them, these stones are almost hidden from the surrounding landscape. Remove the trees, and a superb view of the flanks of Simonside could be had. I'd always assumed that this would indicate some kind of deliberate placing of the stones in relation to Simonside, as so many other sites seem to have this hill as their focus.
But I'm not so sure now. Despite the view to Simonside that would be possible without the pine trees, I couldn't shake my attention past them, and my mind kept returning to Dues hill. It's etymological connection with the Duergar, the black dwarves of Simonside's mythology, and the strange nodules in the bedrock were far more interesting than the over densely planted view blockers. Combined with the possible long mound on Hareheugh hill, and the BA boundary dike and barrows at Holystone, not to mention the cairn circle at Piper Shaws, it all just gets too confusing. There are many other sites potentially connected in some way, but I shan't belabour the point.
Grouse shooting, ever present wet bracken and driving rain didn't help the pondering process much either. I gave up looking for traces of the fifth stone.
Still, these are large standing stones for Northumberland. The tallest of the kings tops 2m, and it's quite remarkable to find four in a line in these parts no matter how tall they are.
If you're sticking to footpaths (as it's a good idea to do in shooting season), it's a couple of miles from the handy parking spot on the Hepple-Holystone road. The path via Dueshill Farm gets quite narrow and slippy at points, and the bracken is a pain in the butt. There are a couple of stiles, so disabled access is not good.
In the back end of the 19th century, there were still five stones. The fifth was taken away for gatepost duties. At about the same time, Mr David Dippie Dixon, a local antiquarian, made a sketch which has since been reproduced as a lithograph.