The Rudston Monolith

Britain's tallest standing stone looms over a quiet churchyard far from the beaten path. Like all such stones, its meaning and purpose remain a mystery.

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The Rudston Monolith

The Rudston Monolith

Standing amongst the headstones of a quiet Yorkshire graveyard is the tallest standing stone in Britain. At 25ft tall, the slender megalith is reckoned to weigh upwards of 40 tons, and was dragged to its current location in around 1600BC from a quarry somewhere around Cayton, 10 miles to the North. It is thought that perhaps as much as 5ft lie beneath the soil - making this a true colossus.

The name Rudston is thought to derive from 'rood stone' - meaning 'cross stone' (see the famous Old English poem 'Dream of the Rood') suggesting that the village itself was built around the site. Almost certainly the 14th century church of All Saints in whose grounds the monolith now finds itself was built on the site primarily because of the location of the stone. As a place of religious significance, the site is now almost 4000 years old.

As with all such enigmatic presences in the landscape, the stone's purpose or meaning is lost to us. As a single stone, it lacks any obvious relationship to astronomical events that can be seen in the more organised circular or aligned sites, although one side does face in the direction of the midwinter sunrise. Fossilised dinosaur footprints on one face might also have been a factor in the choosing of the stone

In appearance, its slender, tapering form - enhanced by weathering - most closely recalls the Devil's Arrows, which are also in North Yorkshire. A protective lead 'cap' now sits atop the monolith and arguably does little to improve its appearance. Approaching the church via the B1235, it is the monolith that strikes you first as it seems to tower above the church through the partially-obscuring trees.

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 1st August 2015 | © Weird Island 2010-2017
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