Noth Ings Bride Stones (Commondale, North Yorkshire, Neolithic & Bronze Age)

As North East Statues is in the process of expanding and trying to record as much of the region’s public art as possible, we are going to start to look at some of the wonderful standing stones the area holds. I think a good place to start though is by justifying why North East Statues should be recording these sites, and why standing stones should be deemed as public art!

First of all, in the UK there is still a heavy north/south divide regarding prehistoric sites. Take, for instance, Avebury and Stonehenge. The nation’s most famous stones (recognised as World Heritage Sites), they both sit south of the Watford Gap. However, did you know that the UK’s largest standing stone is in Yorkshire? The Rudston Monolith stands at an impressive 7.6 meters high almost double the height of Stonehenge. North Yorkshire in particular is a prehistoric metropolis! Noth Ings Bride Stones, High Bride Stones, The Devil’s Arrows and Tripsdale Bride Stones are just a few names of standing stones in the region (see images). So, why aren’t such stones sung about and praised? Secondly, public art. North East Statues’ favourite art! As art history buffs are all too well aware, public art really took off in Britain’s post-war period but, why should works of public art be limited to recent memory? Why isn’t prehistory a more prominent part of history? These places hold so much mystery, sitting up on Moors, having been battered by all the elements over time. What was the stones’ purpose and “practicality”? What can this teach us about the landscape and its inhabitants as well as our current place in the North East? With so many questions it all just adds to their wonder.

Right, I’m no expert and some of you might be thinking, “gawd, how mundane” but, I’m hoping to change your minds and inspire you to get out to help gather up some more stones for North East Statues!

Looking out over the moors.

Not far from my family home in East Cleveland sits the rural village of Commondale. Like many of the villages scattered up on the North York Moors, Commondale has a nice pub and a war memorial. In 1880 pottery was produced here for the domestic market in red and buff terracotta yet, it’s amongst the heather that you’ll find Noth Ings Bride Stones and Sleddale Stone Circle.

A trip in late December 2021, sometime between Christmas and the New Year in a hazy Quality induced time warp, the Redpath family went out to search for Commondale Stone Circle (or rather Sleddale Stone Circle – the brilliant Smell of Water writes about it here). Armed with an iPhone bearing details of the stones, rather than an Ordnance Survey map, we inevitably got lost for a couple of hours. Feeling terribly cold, I got déjà vu of my horrible Duke of Edinburgh expedition and ate all the sweets I’d brought along for the walk. However, having considerably overshot the stone circle, we came across some stones! With phone signal again and stood by a stone marked with a cross, some Google searches took place and it was identified as Noth Ings Bride Stones.

Noth Ings Bride Stones is formed of 83 stones, with most no taller than 1 meter in height. Each of these stones stands in an alignment covering a distance of 490.6 meters over the moor. This presentation of stones makes it a stone row, however, the term ‘Bride Stones’ is commonly used to describe standing stones that form a stone row or stone alignment. This term is said to derive from the old English word ‘briddes’ for birds, suggesting that the stones resemble birds. It seems fitting to call them the Noth Ings Bride Stones as grouse hunting takes place on the land surrounding them. The date of the stones is said to be Neolithic or Bronze Age, so would have been put up between 3500 BC and 800 BC. As the stones predate Christianity, the crucifix is perhaps an attempt at “Christianising” the stones at a later date.

Stone marked with a crucifix, possibly an attempt to ‘Christianise’ the stones?

What did the stones mark? Are they birds? Why the need to mark them with a cross? Were they perhaps religious? Anyhow, they felt special that day in the middle of winter, sitting against a dramatic sky but maybe it was all the sugar I’d consumed. Oh, and I did return in early May to see the Commondale Stone Circle with a little help from an Ordnance Survey map!

Perhaps you know some more details about Noth Ings Bride Stones? If so please email

All photographs by Grace Redpath

3 thoughts on “Noth Ings Bride Stones (Commondale, North Yorkshire, Neolithic & Bronze Age)

  1. ironopolis May 4, 2022 / 12:53 pm

    Hi Grace, that’s a great article, the Bride Stones are a wonderful site. Regarding your questions, the accepted view seems to be that it marks a prehistoric boundary and falls into the category of a cross ridge dyke, of which there are a number on our moors.
    My thoughts on the stone with the cross carved, is that it was marked as part of the perambulation of the estate rather than for the purposes of ‘de-paganising the site’.
    Regarding the etymology of ‘Bride’ there is still an ongoing debate. I like your birds interpretation.
    I wrote a piece about valley and the stones, there are some references at the bottom for further info

    Liked by 1 person

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