The Rudston Monolith.

In the little village of Rudston in the east of Yorkshire not very far inland from Bridlington there is a churchyard which I would say has been a religious site for thousands of years. It contains, just to the North East of the church's chancel, a large standing stone which they describe as a Monolith. Rudston monolith and church. Photograph: Peter Fairweather.
Rudston monolith. Photograph: Peter Fairweather. The Monolith is a roughly shaped block of grit stone thought by some to date back to the late Neolithic or Bronze Age in its present position. At ground level it is some 5 metres in circumference (just over 16feet) and is just under 8metres (25feet 9inches) tall. It wears a metal Bonnet or Cap of metal to protect it from the elements. If it was pointed at the top as is thought, it is assumed that it would have been just under 9 metres (about 28feet) originally (from measurements taken). Sometime in history a piece has broken off, hence its "head gear". In the late 18th century an excavation was carried out by Sir William Strickland who suggested that it could be as much underground as above! There is much speculation as to how it arrived in its present location.

The nearest natural outcrop of this type of stone is at Cayton Bay about ten miles away, just south of Scarborough. Nikolaus Pevsner in his volume of ‘Yorkshire, York and the East Riding’ suggests that it must have been dragged here from 10 miles away. A considerable feat of engineering and human effort in about 2000 BC.

Mr Thomas Shepherd, the then curator of Hull Museum wrote in 1939 that it must have come from there, but there is also a further theory that it could have been carried to Rudston by the same glacier which was responsible for the cutting out of Forge Valley, near Scarborough, and just left on Rudston Hill. It could then have been erected by the Celts in honour of their sun god as late as 400 AD.

However it arrived at Rudston, it was certainly used to mark a holy place or centre for worship for the indigenous local religion and this was followed by the Anglo-Saxon missionaries who perhaps Christened this sacred object and could even have put a cross on the top. This latter suggestion could have been responsible for the naming of the village. Rood being the old English word for cross and Stan being the word for stone.

There would probably have been a church built on the site in Saxon times but no church was recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086.

The popular local story is that the devil was angered at the building of a church in his sacred hill and hurled this stone javelin at it. Divine intervention meant that it was deflected and the stone now rests where it landed!

An Unusual Cast Iron Grave Surround

Not many feet away from the monolith in Rudston churchyard is an unusual grave surround which I have never seen before. It consists of a coped body stone with a cast iron cross standing at its head. (See UK cast iron gravemarker database, photographs: UK99, 100 &101). Attached to this is a chain to the top corners which are made in the shape of upturned cannon barrels as are the corners at the foot. Each of the foot corners is attached to a pair of crossed cast iron anchors which form the central foot feature exactly opposite the cross. Photograph: Peter Fairweather.

More cast iron gravemarkers.


This site is a work in progress.


Back to the Main Page.