The Brigantes (The People of Brighid) were a Celtic people of the whole of the North East of England except the area just north of the Humber. Claudius Ptolemaeus was a famous geographer and astronomer, who lived in the second century. In his Geography he writes, “Below the Selgovae and Otalini are the Brigantes extending to both seas.”
The Annals of Tacitus mention two British women by name, Boudica and Cartimandua. The latter was a leader of the Brigantes who was granted a clientship with Rome in 43 ce. She ruled with her armour bearer, Vellocatus as her consort.
Ptolemaeus mentions nine cities under their tribal rule, Epiacum at Whitley Castle off the A689 in Northumberland (OS NY694486); Vinovia (The Vintners Way) north of Bishop Auckland in county Durham (OS NZ211315); Cataractonium (The City of the Waterfall) off the A1 at Catterick North Yorkshire (OS SE227990); Calacum (The Flower Basket) off the A683 in Lancashire (OS SD615758); Rigodunum (The King's Fortress) (OS SD996096) at Castle Shaw, Greater Manchester; Olenacum off the A56 near Skipton, North Yorkshire (OS SD925494); Eboracum (The Place of the Yews) York, North Yorkshire (OS SE603521); Cambodunum (The War God's Fortress) off the M62 in West Yorkshire (OS SE084176); and the tribal capital Isurium Brigantum off the A1 at Aldborough near Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire (OS SE406664).
Shrines to the Goddess Brigantia
Now a suburb in North Leeds (OS SE277410) Adel was a Romano British settlement. Two altar stones have been discovered one, “To the mother goddesses” and another inscribed “Deae Brigan D Cingetissa P” (To the goddess Brigantia a dedication by Cingetissa). These are now on display in the Leeds Story section of the Leeds City Museum by Millennium Square.
Arbeia is a Roman fort at the mouth of the river Tyne in South Shields (OS NZ366679). Building began in 125 ce on a site that had been occupied since at least 3,000 bce. An altar to Brigantia has been discovered with the inscription, “Deae Brigantiae sacrum Congenncus VSLM” (V[otum] S[olvit] L[ibens] M[erito]) (To the sacred goddess Brigantia Congennccus willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow).
The village of Rudston near Bridlington sits at the heart of a Neolothic ceremonial centre. It is famous for the Rudston Monolith (OS TA097678) which stands 25 foot tall. Two miles to the south is a sacred hill, Rudston Beacon. This is a fire hill of the Brigantes famous in Roman times for its fires lit to celebrate the Goddess Brig. The power of this place made the Romans very edgy and they laid a military road across it in an attempt to mitigate its sacred power.
There are many Bridestones in Yorkshire. Most are the remains of Bronze Age stone circles and barrows though the Bridestones in Dalby Forest are natural sandstone outcrops. The association of these stones with the goddess Bride is based on name and their location in a part of England once occupied by, “The People of Brighid.” They are all liminal places set in wild moorland. It is also suggested that their name derives from the Norse for edge stones. Local stories about some of the Bridestones tell a tale of petrified bridal parties lost in the mists that descend on the moor.
The Bridestones of Dalby Forest (OS SE 873915) are impressive, mysterious natural sandstone outcrops set above Bridestones Griff (steep valley) in ancient woodland. A 2.5 km footpath takes you on a circular tour through Low Wood to the Bridestones and back via Dovedale Wood.
This magical ancient woodland below the Bridestones (SE 870907) is rich in oak, larch, holly, rowan, birth and ash and is an important wildlife habitat for birds, butterflies and moths.
Gritstone rocks up to 9 metres in height on Bridestones Moor to the west of Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire (OS SD930271)
Some thirty stones, the remains of a Bronze Age barrow 1 km from the B1257 north of Helmsley (OS SE575979).
The High Bridestones are located on the road from The A169 at Pen Howe to Grosmont on stunning open moorland near Whitby (OS NZ850046). The large upright stone of the group is clearly visible to the left of the road. Many of the stones have fallen or have been pushed over. They may be the remains of two small stone circles. Offerings of coins have been left in the crevices of the largest stone over the years.
The Low Bridestones are located a short walk to the North West of the High Bridestones (OS NZ846048). The tallest is only about a metre so they are not easily visible from the road but the walk is well worth while as they appear much less damaged than the High Bridestones. They form an arc in the heather.
St. Bride's Farmhouse
Old farmhouse Built from the stone of a mediaeval chapel dedicated to St. Bride at Stanton by Bridge, Derbyshire (OS SK 368 251)