The Duddo Stones

The stone circle at Duddo is somewhat special. Archaeologist Roger Miket describes it as “Undoubtedly the most complete and dramatically situated in Northumberland” while Stan Beckensall describes it as “One of the most attractive monuments in Britain”.

The Duddo Stones consists of five Neolithic sandstone monoliths describing a circle 8.5 by 8.8 metres in diameter. An account, written in 1811, records a circle of six stones here but, at some time before Canon James Raine’s investigation of the site in 1852, two of the stones toppled over and one of them broke.

Around 1890 Robert Carr discovered and excavated a pit in the centre of the circle which he describes as being ‘six to eight feet in diameter’. Here he unearthed charcoal and fragments of burnt bone suggesting a cremation burial. In 1923 a fragment of pottery was found here though the type was not recorded but this could have been the remains of a cremation vessel. Carr also discovered two empty stone holes in the north west section of the site. The intact fallen stone was re-erected sometime between 1903 and 1934. In 1935 J. Hewitt Craw produced the first plan of the stones and noted the positions of the stone holes discovered by Carr.

Duddo Stones diagramThe Duddo Stones are unusual in that they are very flat and they taper down to ground level. The diagram here shows the layout of the stones today.

The solid shapes represent the stones at ground level and the dotted lines show the stones at their widest point. One name for the stones is ‘The Ladies’ which could be a reference to their tapering shape.

Another local name for the circle is ‘The Singing Stones. This name could have something to do with the other unusual aspect of the Duddo Stones. They are all very weathered with striking, almost vertical, deep grooves running down them. You can see a detail of this in the photograph below.

It has been suggested that the Northumbrian wind 

blowing past the stones may have, at some point, have resonated through the grooves creating a musical sound.

The Duddo Stones make an impressive silhouette as they stand against the sunset on their little mound in north Northumberland. The views from the stones down to the cheviots and Yeavering Bell are breathtaking.

The striking shape of the Scottish Eildon Hills can be seen from here too. This has to be one of the most special, even magical, places in the north of England.