Friday, 12 September 2014

The Church and the Standing Stone - Rudston's amazing monolith

Rudston All Saints Church and standing stone

The tallest standing stone in Britain, Rudston Monolith towers over the gravestones close to All Saints Church in Rudston near Bridlington. Estimated at close to 40 tonnes, and with a height of almost 8 metres, nearly two metres wide and a metre thick, it is possible that it extends as far below ground (according to an experiment conducted by Sir William Strickland in the late 18th century.) 

The stone has been capped with lead, to protect it, and it is possible that it originally stood higher, with a pointed top, as it appears to have broken at some time.

Rudston Standing Stone
Looking up: Rudston Monolith

The age of the stone is put at 1600 - 1000 BC. It is comprised of a type of gritstone, the nearest source of which is Cayton Bay, about 10 miles to the North of the site.

All Saints Church is Norman, and, although there may have been a previous Saxon church on the site (there is none recorded,) the monolith obviously predates the church substantially. The monolith was, presumably, far too cumbersome to remove, when the church was built here, on a site that had obviously been sacred for very many years.

Rudston All Saints Church and standing stone
Rudston Monolith in the graveyard of All Saint's Church

Legend says the stone was thrown at the church by the devil, but, due to divine intervention, or a poor aim, he missed.

It is believed that Rudston also owes its name to the monolith, possibly deriving from the Old English Rood-stane, meaning 'cross-stone.'

This was one of the first ancient sites I ever visited, and it still fills me with awe. The juxtaposition of the monolith to the church somehow seems to emphasise its mystery, and strangeness, as well as emphasising its colossal size!

Rudston All Saints Church and Standing Stone
Rudston All Saints Church and Standing Stone

I have always wondered about the various church congregations over the years, what their reactions might have been, and what discussions they might have had relating to the enormous and obvious presence within their churchyard!
Thanks for reading!


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  1. Amazing thing to see in a churchyard, must admit I have never seen the like at ones I visit

    1. The size of the stone is quite impressive! I assume it was just too big to remove when the built the church on the existing sacred site. I would imagine that many more churches will have been built on sites that already had monliths/stone circles, but the stones will have been removed.