Often described as an ‘outlier of the Neolithic monuments of the White Peak’, The Bridestones, lying along the line of the Cheshire/Staffordshire border is undoubtedly Cheshire’s most impressive and well-known ancient monument. The remains of this once-great chambered tomb lie between the hillside of Bosley Cloud and Wolfe Lowe close to the east Cheshire town of Congleton. Located at 250m (820ft) above sea level, the monument lies on the western crest of a pass running in a north-south line at the foot of the Pennines and has spectacular views across the Cheshire Plain.
The few remaining stones of this once great monument still stand along the line of the Cheshire / Staffordshire border between the hillside of Bosley Cloud and Wolfe Lowe at Dial lane between the A527 and A523.
The site is very different to its original structure; many tons of stone were taken from the cairn by the builders of the nearby turnpike road in 1764. Other stones were used to build the adjacent house and farm, and more were recycled into an ornamental garden in Tunstall Park.
However, before this large scale ransacking occurred, it appears that the Bridestones was an incredible monument, perhaps unique in England.
Evidence from a variety of sources indicates that it was a chambered tomb of massive proportions with a paved crescent forecourt and a port-holed stone dividing the main chamber. The complex was supposedly 110 metres in length with the horned cairn being 11 metres wide. A report from the 18th Century notes that in addition to the main chamber which still stands today, a further two subsidiary ones were located at a distance of 55 yards. No traces of these have ever been found, but there is much debate as to whether they are located east of the surviving chamber, or west. The latter seems more likely as they were probably covered by the same cairn as the main chamber.
Chambered tombs with crescent forecourts are normally found in the Clyde region of Scotland (Clyde Cairns) such as at Cairnholy and Carn Ban as well as in Ireland (Court Cairns). No other examples are known from the English mainland, the closest being Casthal yn Ard on the Isle of Man. In addition to the paved forecourt, the Bridestones also has another interesting feature in the port-holed stone, a characteristic usually associated with chambered tombs from the Cotswold Severn Region. In the case of the Bridestones it divided the two compartments of the main chamber – at 191/2 inches; the hole would have been large enough for a person to crawl through. A stone of identical proportions known as The Devil’s Ring & Finger lies in Staffordshire.
So the question is why was such an unusual monument built here? Cheshire is not a county known for its Neolithic architecture. In fact apart from a few long barrows, the Bridestones are the only authentic Neolithic monument.
The site has suffered much in the last two centuries. As well as the thousands of tons of stone that have been taken from the cairn, a number of the standing stones from the ‘circle’ forming the forecourt have also been removed.
During the 19th Century a picnicker’s bonfire led to the side slabs of the main chamber and the port-holed stone being seriously cracked. In fact the top half of the port-holed stone has long since disappeared. To add insult to injury a local newspaper article records that ‘many years ago, an engineer engaged in the cutting of the Manchester Ship Canal, visiting the spot actually used one of the biggest monoliths for the purpose of carrying out a demonstration with a detonator, as a result of which the great stone was broken off close to the ground’. Luckily the damage was not beyond repair as this portal stone was cemented back together during excavations in the 1930s.
In recent years there has been a long running debate as to which way the cairn at The Bridestones extended. A myth, that it ran east of the chamber into the grounds of the neighbouring Bridestones House rather than west down the slope, was started by Mr. Bertram B. Simms in an article in the Congleton Chronicle in 1936. Simms took the early references and re-interpreted the monument:
‘The Bridestones chamber was originally capped with a huge slab. The one monolith is all that remains of a pear shaped arrangement of similar pillars, some 12ft. high, which, interspaced with stones as walls and capped with slabs formed another chamber, hall or chapel, approximately 30ft x 45ft, where fire ritual ceremonies were performed to sever the spirit of the dead chief from earthly things.’
The stones that have survived are now fenced off in the corner of a field, surrounded by yews, rhododendrons and conifers and overgrown with bracken in the summer. The site is in desperate need of attention and recognition. The quarry to the rear of the site employs several large, noisy and angry Rottweilers’ devaluing the privacy and peacefulness of the site. Many visitors also leave behind rubbish and dog dirt. Additionally, quarry owners have somehow received planning permission for several large new builds around the site; the general overall feel of such an ancient and significant place is slowly being eroded.
These qualms aside, the Bridestones site occupies a magnificent spot; its beauty and occasional tranquility provide many visitors an escape from modern day hustle and bustle. I have in the past, penned a letter to the National Monuments Authority, expressing my concerns of the sites state, and hopefully its future protection. Bizarrely this is a site that many local persons know of but do not know of is enticing history or exact whereabouts, and have never actually visited.
During a visit to the Bridestones, I thought I would add some technology to the site, having a theory, knowing of some of the local geological information. I set out to record Electro Magnetic Frequency measurements, using a standard EMF monitor. I was able to record a low fluctuating measurement at an area external of the tomb, this was duly noted. I then used a Gauss meter EMF unit, which gave several beeps, a sign of EMF present, but was unable to recreate the event, within the cairn itself, again this was noted.
On a separate visit the Gauss Meter began to emit “ a drum beat” emission, again a signature of EMF present, I then entered the chamber itself with 4 different EMF units, at this point I received readings from 2x Gauss meters, an older multi axis unit and single axis unit, the Gauss meter showed a recording of between 4 and 7 miligauss, Multi axis device 2 on the light scale and the single axis, set on EMF and x1 was pulsating between 3 and 5 for some time, batteries were newly bought and fitted to all units, but the single axis unit power drained almost immediately.
Being in an easily accessible area and very local to me, The Bridestones have been monitored irregularly for the past 10 years and I have been lucky to have recorded EMF fluctuations on many occasions, and due to this began to look at the environment and geology of the local area, to see if natural Earth energies maybe the reason for our results.
A local geological map was referred to, and luckily I was able to ascertain several possibilities which may explain my results.
- There are two geological fault lines within 1 mile of the site, geological faults are scientifically proven to produce electrical discharges during seismic activity, and this is due to the friction caused in certain rock types. In certain areas of paranormal activity, this has been reported as lights in the sky, a dispersion of Electromagnetic energy into the atmosphere (known as Earthlights) caused by the frictional rubbing of Teutonic plates. The two faults are known as the Red rock fault, and the Mow Cop fault, a branch of which runs directly through the field adjacent to the Bridestones.
- The site geological content is that of a Carboniferous material, a base of iron ore, and a known conductor of electrical energy.
- The site sits exactly on the watershed between rivers draining to the Mersey/Irish Sea and the Trent/North Sea. Again a known conductor.
- The Buildings to the rear of the site belong to a quarry; unnatural methods of quarrying may have caused additional faults to occur around the site, again, seismic activity may cause the electrical build up from this area.
- Finally, a vein of copper exists at the location, passing through also both geological fault lines, this may automatically act as a conduit to the site.
Therefore this sites electrical energy may therefore be governed by natural geology and seismic activity.
I contacted a professor at Manchester University to discuss the reasons behind batteries power draining and the potential relationship between these occurrences and natural energy levels in the area. He responded that “A magnetic field can have unpredictable effects on an electronic device, as most electronic components are not affected by such a field. It is certainly possible for a strong electromagnetic field or a rapidly fluctuating magnetic field to interfere with certain components of a mobile phone, causing it to drain power faster. However, a small magnet such as a magnetic clasp on a mobile phone case is largely harmless. So yes, an electromagnetic field can cause battery drain”
I will be continuing a blanket monitoring of the site, I have access to a seismic activity database, and are hoping to have a period where I can monitor the area during this activity to add to my current data.
You may wonder why I have gone into depth about electromagnetic fields, geology, fault lines and seismic activity etc. Well, as I stated early in this article, I wondered why the Bridestones were constructed in this location?
Theories suggest that ancient monuments were built near areas of natural energy, some subscribe to the ley line theory. But I offer a different suggestion. Perhaps, given all the potential reasons listed above, Neolithic man may have experienced personal events at the site related to the naturally produced energy in that area.
Now I drift away to science for a moment –
Known variously as electromagnetic hypersensitivity, electrical sensitivity, electro sensitivity, and a host of other terms, electromagnetic sensitivity syndrome (ES) is a physiological disorder characterized by symptoms directly brought on by exposure to electromagnetic fields. ES is a serious public health concern and the incidence of ES is growing.
The typical Briton is in nearly continuous interaction with stimulation from across the electromagnetic spectrum. The density of radio waves around us is now 100 million to 200 million times the natural level reaching us from the sun. There is increasing awareness that humans are responding to electromagnetic radiation in a variety of ways.
EMFs are invisible fields of energy produced whenever electric current is flowing. EMFs are biologically active and a great deal of information exists regarding the health effects of EMF stimulation on animals, including humans. Evidence has been coming to light that EMF exposure may cause many more problems than had been contemplated and this includes the phenomenon of electromagnetic hypersensitivity.
ES is a disorder whereby neurological and allergic-type symptoms are brought on through exposure to electromagnetic fields. Many individuals with ES are primarily sensitive to certain frequencies of EMF and there is a wide range in the degree of sensitivity exhibited by those affected.
The incidence of electro sensitivity is growing. Many persons experience an abrupt onset of symptoms following exposure to a novel EMF such as fields associated with a new computer or with new fluorescent lights. Symptoms often are not immediately recognized by the injured as having been brought on by EMF exposure. Onset of ES has also been reported following chemical exposure. More research on this phenomenon is urgently needed in order to understand the mechanism behind it. It appears, however, that there is some direct effect upon the nervous system and that the immune system is likely also involved in this disorder.
Symptoms may include but are not limited to: Headache, eye irritation, dizziness, nausea, skin rash, facial swelling, weakness, fatigue, pain in joints and/or muscles, buzzing/ringing in ears, skin numbness, abdominal pressure and pain, breathing difficulty, and irregular heartbeat. Additional symptoms have been reported in some individuals such as paralysis, balance problems, body and/or muscle spasms, convulsions, confusion, depression, difficulty in concentrating, seizures, sleep disturbances, and memory difficulties.
Some people may experience and report ‘paranormal like’ phenomena resulting from their exposure to a high amplitude domestic Electro Magnetic Field. Prolonged exposure to the high amplitude EMF may increase the amount of reported paranormal activity. Additional factors may be responsible for the actual nature of the reported phenomena including an individual’s susceptibility, exposure time and socio-cultural beliefs”.
The presence of an EMF of sufficiently high amplitude in combination with weaker complexities within the overall EMF signal may increase the likelihood of otherwise unaffected people reporting experiences which they then interpret as being paranormal in origin. As the overall amplitude of the EMF increases a greater number of people will become susceptible to having such experiences.
This hypothesis regarding ES is based upon the research conducted by Professor Michael Persinger. It indicates a direct link between the domestic EMF’s and the incidents of reported paranormal phenomena. He suggests “that transient, complex temporal patterns of power-frequency magnetic fields generated by less than optimal grounding in dwellings and telluric currents may be sufficient to evoke experiences in the brains of sensitive individuals”.
So did ancient man experience peculiar personal events, leading to the belief that the site may be in some way sacred, leading to the entombment of a high level local tribesperson at the Bridestones. Or was it built just for the beautiful view of the Cheshire plains?
Stoke on Trent Museum Archaeological Society (SOTMAS) Have recently been able to place test pits in fields adjacent to the site, they were also able to produce ground penetrating radar results. Although test pits offered no new archaeological evidence, Geophysical results offered interesting findings, SOTMAS finds and full Geophysical survey report can be found here – The Bridestones final pro.
A seperate PDF for the Geophysical survey is available at – SOTMAS Bridestones Geophysical survey
Site Name: The Bridestones (Cheshire)
Country: England County: Cheshire Type: Chambered Tomb
Nearest Town: Congleton Nearest Village: Timbersbrook
Map Ref: SJ9061762182 Landranger Map Number: 118
Latitude: 53.156684N Longitude: 2.141774W