The Bridestones

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The Bridestones
several large standing stones with some stacked
Location near Congleton
Region Cheshire, England
Coordinates 53°9′24.64″N 2°8′31.3″W / 53.1568444°N 2.142028°W / 53.1568444; -2.142028Coordinates: 53°9′24.64″N 2°8′31.3″W / 53.1568444°N 2.142028°W / 53.1568444; -2.142028
Type Chambered cairn
History
Periods Neolithic
Site notes
Condition damaged

The Bridestones is a chambered cairn, near Congleton, Cheshire, England, that was constructed in the Neolithic period about 3500–2400 BC.[1] It was described in 1764 as being 120 yards (110 m) long and 12 yards (11 m) wide, containing three separate compartments, of which only one remains today. The remaining compartment is 6 metres (20 ft) long by 2.7 metres (8.9 ft) wide, and consists of vertical stone slabs, divided by a now-broken cross slab. The cairn originally had a stone circle surrounding it, with four portal stones; two of these portal stones still remain.[1] The site is protected as a scheduled ancient monument.[1][2][3]

The origin of the cairn's name is unclear. Once legend says that a recently married couple were murdered at the location, and the stones were laid around their grave. Another possibility is that they are named for Brigantia. Alternatively, the Old English word for "birds" was "briddes"; the stones in their original form could have resembled birds, giving rise to "Briddes stones".[4]

Condition in 18th century[edit]

The state of the site was recorded in the second edition of Henry Rowlands's Mona Antiqua Restaurata (published in 1766), based on a report by Rev. Thomas Malbon, rector of Congleton. As the report describes removal of stones for road-building in 1764 (the Ashbourne–Leek–Congleton Turnpike, now Dial Lane, just south of the site), it appears that it was included by Henry Owen, editor of the second edition, and was not part of Rowlands's original 1723 edition. The report provides a detailed description of the site at the time along with a plate giving a plan of the site.[5]

Plan of The Bridestones from the second edition (1766) of Mona Antiqua Restaurata by Henry Rowlands.

Subsequent destruction[edit]

Concrete now joins two pieces of one of the portal stones together.

The largest single ransacking of the monument was the removal of several hundred tons to construct the nearby turnpike road. Stones from the monument were also taken to build the nearby house and farm; other stones were used in an ornamental garden in Tunstall Park. The holed stone was broken some time before 1854; the top half was found replaced in 1877, but was gone again by 1935.[4]

While the southern side of the main chamber was originally a single, 18-foot-long stone (5.5 m), it was split in 1843 by a picknicker's bonfire. Of the portal stones, only two remain, one of which is broken and concreted back together. This was reputedly caused by an engineer from the Manchester Ship Canal, who used the stone to demonstrate a detonator.[4]

Excavations of the site were done by Professor Fleur of Manchester University in 1936 and 1937, with the aim of restoring the site as much as possible to its former condition.[4]

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