The Rudston Monolith

It was pouring with rain, but this huge standing stone, thought to be the tallest in Britain, was something I was determined to see for myself.

Standing around 26 feet above the ground and an uncertain but considerable depth below, this stone was brought to the site where it now stands in the churchyard of All Saints Church at Rudston in East Yorkshire during the late neolithic period, possibly as long ago as 2000 BC.

The stone itself is a rough conglomerate moor grit and could have been brought from the Cleveland Hills. How this was achieved, given that it was transported before the invention of the wheel, is open to speculation though it could have been floated downriver on a substantial raft and then dragged up the hill to its final location.

It would have had some sort of religious significance as it seems certain that the Christian church was built on the same site as an earlier place of pagan worship. During excavations in the late 1700s by Sir William Strickland found many skulls nearby and there is speculation that this could have been a sacrificial site.

Christianity came to Rudston in 615 AD. Edwin who was the chief of the Celtic tribe of Parisii had been given permission to marry Ethelburga if he and his Yorkshire tribe embraced the new religion of Christianity. After discussion the Elders and the priest of the tribe agreed and hundreds of people were baptised in the cold waters of the river Derwent at Yedingham. Better than being killed as an offering to the pagan gods!

3 thoughts on “The Rudston Monolith

  1. I believe many churches were build on pagan sites as a way of ensuring they had a ‘new’ use. Just as many festivals were originally pagan but have been recycled.

    The stone is amazing. If only it could tell us what it has seen.

  2. What an amazing monolith, Elizabeth. I must take a look next time I visit East Yorkshire.

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