Duddo Stones ~ 4,500 years old, or erected in 1558 to commemorate the battle of Grindon?
Up here in Northumberland we are lucky enough to have our own mini ‘Stonehenge’, a stone circle of standing stones currently five in number, although there is some speculation and debate as to how many stones there would have formed the circle originally. It was first scheduled as an ancient monument in 1925 as dating somewhere between 2400 and 1,000 years BC. This was based on archaeological evidence from the site that placed the stones from Late Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age period.
With this information in mind you can imagine my surprise when I happened upon the following information, completely by chance, whilst looking for some population figures for Norham Parish from the Statistical Accounts published in an original copy of a “History, Directory and Gazetteer of the Counties of Durham and Northumberland, by Wm. Parson and Wm. White Vol II published 1828”
“DUDDO is a small township, consisting of two farms, a few cottages, and a colliery, 10 ½ miles N. by W. of Wooler. On the rocky summit of Grindon Rigg, in this township are the ruins of Duddo Tower, and a little to the north west are six rude stones or pillars, which were erected to commemorate the victory gained by the English over the Scots at Grindon in 1558……”
This ‘fact’ was uncited giving no clue as to its primary origin so I set out to see if I could uncover a little more. “An Historical, Topographical and Descriptive View of Northumberland by E Mackenzie Vol 1, Second Edition published 1825” page 343 contained an almost identical description with the addition that “they are now called the “Duddo Stones””.
With still no clue as to the origin of this ‘fact’ I took a look in the earliest history I had at my disposal “A Historical and Descriptive View of the County of Northumberland, Vol 1, published by Mackenzie & Dent in 1811” which states the information contained therein as being “carefully collected from personal research, original communications and works of undoubted authority”. On page 455 of said volume appears the same description, but with the addition of some vital statistics in the form of dimensions. Conspicuous by its absence once again is any reference to the source of this information!
Taking a quick look at the National Archives Catalogue which returned a blank, I ran an online ‘Google’ search and came across a very similar account in “A Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain, Vol 5, by Rev Clement Cruttwell published in 1801” but differed slightly in that it states the stones were erected on the site of the battle at Grindon and were only four in number, rather than six as described in the previous accounts.
To my frustration there was still no reference as to where this ‘fact’, which is in all likelihood not a ‘fact’ at all, had originated, so I have abandoned my search for now, but I am sure when I have a spare afternoon, I shall resume my quest and hopefully one day get to the bottom of it. Until that time, like the stones themselves it will remain shrouded in mystery - unless of course you can help?.
6/6/2018 01:39:52 pm
I came across a similar sounding reference to the stones in a later book, John Murray’s 1864 Handbook for Travelers in Durham and Northumberland. They most both be referring to the tower which was built to commemorate the 1558 battle https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1042172
3/10/2021 09:39:51 am
There are several single "battlestones" in North Northumberland and it is generally accepted that they predate the battles they are supposed to commemorate by several thousand years e.g the Bendor Stone (near Humbleton but not related to the Battle of Homildon) and the Yeavering stone. The chances of Duddo Stones being something to do with the Battle of Grindon Rigg are remote. The presence of a Bronze Age cist in the middle of the circle seems convincing.
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