THE landscape that was home to the Brontes weaves through their work like wind whistling through moorland grass. Writing, said Charlotte, was “as natural as walking”.

And when we think of home for the Brontes, we think of Haworth - windswept village and global literary shrine. But it was eight miles away, in Thornton, where Emily, Charlotte, Anne and Branwell were born and where their father, Patrick, was curate at the Bell Chapel. Yet Thornton has never been recognised as ‘Bronte country’.

Now the village has a major role in the Brontë Stones project, celebrating the literary sisters’ legacy with memorials in landscapes that inspired their work. Commissioned by Bradford Literature Festival, and unveiled this weekend, the stones are carved with original writing - and, as the T&A has reported, Kate Bush has written a piece for Emily’s stone. The singer says it is a “thank you” to Emily, whose only novel inspired Kate’s breakthrough hit, Wuthering Heights. This year is Emily’s bicentenary and the 40th anniversary of the single.

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has written a verse for Charlotte’s stone, Scottish poet Jackie Kay for Anne’s, and Jeanette Winterson has written about the Bronte legacy for the fourth stone. The engravings are by Pip Hall, who has worked on various literary projects.

Walks around each stone, and a linear walk from Thornton to Haworth, follow the footsteps of the extraordinary sisters, who wrote some of the greatest works of literature.

The man behind the project is writer Michael Stewart, who will lead a guided walk of the Bronte Stones on Sunday.

Michael was keen to put Thornton, where he lives, on the Bronte map. “I thought about the Brontes’ journey when they moved to Haworth in 1820,” says Michael. “They were a happy family in Thornton - Patrick said he had the happiest time of his life there - but in Haworth came tragedy. Their mother, Maria, died shortly after they moved there, followed by the two elder sisters.”

Michael had the idea for the project in 2013; inspired by the Stanza Stones poems along the Pennine Way. “I wanted a tribute to the Brontes in places they knew,” he says. “It was important to commission contemporary female writers, to acknowledge the sisters’ bicentenaries. The Brontes were, of course, contemporary writers of their time.”

Adds Michael: “With each stone the aim is to create a ‘moment’, to read the carvings and take in the landscape. These are all places where the Brontes walked - each of these walks pays tribute to the origins of their writing.”

Two of the stones are in Thornton. The Bronte Stone, in the cemetery, overlooks the viaduct and moors, and Charlotte’s stone is at the Brontes’ birthplace, now Emily’s cafe. “I was chatting to the owners, Mark and Michelle De Luca, about having a stone for Charlotte outside the building. They said they could go one better and have it placed in a wall,” says Michael. “Charlotte would have remembered the house, so it seemed fitting to have her stone there. From her bedroom she’d have seen Thornton Hall, a likely inspiration for Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre. Charlotte’s walk is the shortest, at four miles. It’s one families can do together. It takes in the Bell Chapel, Thornton Hall, the viaduct and Kipping Barn.”

Anne’s walk heads towards Oakworth, past Goose Eye and Parsons Field, along the River Worth. The stone overlooks the Parsonage. “Anne is buried in Scarborough, far from the rest of the family, so this stone marks her return,” says Michael. “Jackie Kay has written a wonderful homecoming poem for Anne.”

Michael searched the moors for a suitably bleak spot for Emily’s stone. “It had to be somewhere remote, away from the tourist trail of Haworth. Ogden Kirk was perfect - it’s a fantastic spot; a stunning outcrop of rock with a reddish tint, overlooking Haworth and the moors.”

Michael is thrilled that Kate Bush has written for Emily’s stone, and has invited her to visit it. “I was seven when Wuthering Heights came out. It fascinated me; I wanted to know who Cathy was and why she wanted to be let in at the window... I read it in my teens, it was the first novel that made me want to be a writer,” says Michael, whose latest book, Ill Will, re-imagines Heathcliff’s missing years in Wuthering Heights.

Emily’s walk is the longest, at 15 miles. “It’s for serious walkers,” says Michael. “It takes in Oxenhope, up to Thornton Moor, Nab Hill, dropping down to Top Withens, Ponden Kirk, the inspiration for Penistone Crags in Wuthering Heights, and Alcomden Stones, cave-like structures where you could imagine Cathy and Heathcliff hiding.

“It passes Ponden Hall, which inspired Thrushcross Grange, then Stanbury to Haworth, back along the river to Oxenhope. Emily walked all those moors. You don’t get Wuthering Heights unless you go to them. “

Accompanying the walks are hand-drawn maps by Yorkshire cartographer Christopher Goddard, available at the Bronte Parsonage; Emily’s cafe, Thornton; Book Corner, Halifax; and Bookcase, Hebden Bridge.

“This has been a collaborative project,” says Michael. “There’s been huge support from the Parsonage Museum, Mark and Michelle De Luca, Yorkshire Water, Bradford Council and Huddersfield University, funding the maps.”

Michael is planning to work with schools and colleges on the Bronte Stones project. “The Brontes left a fantastic legacy,” he says. “We’ve got Patrick’s bicentenary in a couple of years.”

Now the stones and their engravings are part of that legacy.

* The Bronte Stones: Meet the Writers, presented by Michael Stewart, Jeanette Winterston, Carol Ann Duffy and Jackie Kay, is at Bradford's Midland Hotel tomorrow at 6.45pm.

* Head of Creative Writing at the University of Huddersfield, Michael's books and plays include King Crow, Mr Jolly and Connor’s Song. Tomorrow he joins author Louise Doughty for In Search of Heathcliff, discussing the fascination of Emily Bronte’s anti-hero, at the Midland Hotel, 11.15am. Call (01274) 238525 or visit