The residual stress (RS) field in ceramic-metal diffusion bonds has been studied by spatial-resolved neutron strain scanning. Strain profiles were directly determined by neutron diffraction along selected lines perpendicular to the bonding interface of cube-shaped Ni/Si3N4 specimens. Finite element method (FEM) calculations were carried out to simulate the joining process and residual strains have been obtained among the whole body of specimens. The simulations were validated by comparison with the experimental strain data obtained by neutron and (previous) X-ray diffraction along some particular line of the specimen. Finally, the RS field across the whole sample was obtained from the FEM-calculated strain field, showing that neutron strain scanning combined with FEM analysis is a very useful technique to study the RS map in silicon nitride-metal diffusion bonds at both sides of the joining interface. Maxima of the axial stress were found at the lateral surface and close to the joining interface, being tensile for both ceramic and nickel. On the other hand, the largest radial stress at the joining interface was found at the centre of the specimen on the ceramic side. From the point of view of FEM analysis, it is shown that in order to simulate the joining process of nickel and silicon nitride, nickel must be considered as a ductile material having strain hardening and Si3N4 must be considered as purely elastic material having a nearly temperature-independent elastic modulus.