Think of standing stones and you automatically think of Stonehenge, yes? That beautiful and world-renowned monument sited smack in the middle of greenest Wiltshire, spiritual home to druid and crusty alike, scene of many a cider-fuelled Solstice party.
Stonehenge is not, of course, the only place in Britain where you can marvel at ancient standing stones. In fact, you don't need to travel far at all. East Yorkshire has its own standing stone - a mere hour's drive from Hull - at Rudston, near Bridlington.
To be truthful, Rudston monolith is no Stonehenge. It is a single standing stone, situated in the graveyard of All Saints Church (worth seeing in its own right) in the rural village of Rudston, often reputed to be the oldest village in Britain. The stone is, however, the tallest monolith in the country, standing some 26 feet above ground, and 5 feet around. Its height below ground is unknown but could be as much again - a study by Sir William Strickland in the late 18th century concluded precisely this, although no modern surveys have been carried out. A smaller, 3-foot-high stone stands on the opposite side of the churchyard, and it is commonly thought that this "baby" stone may have been moved in latter years, having once stood alongside its much more imposing partner.
The monolith is made of Moor Grit - the nearest source of which is some 12 miles away in the Cleveland Hills. The stone has stood in Rudston for two millennia, and no-one knows for sure how it was transported there, but several theories propose that it was carried at least part of the way by water (either the River Derwent or the River Rye), on a large raft, to the Vale Of Pickering, which would still have been under a substantial depth of water. The rest of the stone's journey remains a mystery.
One local legend says that the stone arrived at its present location when the Devil threw it at the church, and missed. Romantic as this legend is, it is belied by the fact that Christianity was not introduced to Rudston until 615AD - when the stone had been long established in what is now the church graveyard. The existence of such legends, though, can only add to the mystique of this astounding monolith.
Rudston Monolith continued by Nicholas Boldock
The name "Rudston" is thought to originate from the Old English words "rood" (cross) and "stan" (stone), leading many experts to surmise that the stone may once have had a Christianising cross on its crown. Certainly this is borne out by the damage to the top of the monolith, which is now protected by a metal "cap" to prevent erosion. What is almost certainly true is that All Saints Church, like many churches throughout Britain, was built on the site of an ancient Pagan temple (with the introduction of Christianity into Britain, it was common practice for Pagan temples to be destroyed to make way for Christian churches), clearly suggesting that the stone had a strong spiritual significance for the Pagans.
Regardless of the myths which surround it - true or otherwise - Rudston monolith remains a sight to behold. It is one of the many hidden treasures of East Yorkshire, and is well worth the effort it takes to find it.
By a Bloke from Stoke
I first moved to Hull from Stoke-on-Trent in September 2001.
Romance and then a job offer in the area and I was on my way.
After moving to good old 'Ull I soon learned some important lessons.
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