North-easterly: Sidetracked and gobsmacked

We had chosen to take a very long route home for one simple reason… there was something we wanted to see that was never going to be on our way to anywhere. So the possible three hour journey took us over ten, and all to see a stone… a single standing stone… but a stone unlike any other in the country: the Rudston Monolith.

It stands in the churchyard of All Saints, Rudston, in the East Riding of Yorkshire and is the tallest megalith in the United Kingdom. It is nearly twenty-six feet tall, and was, until the ground of the churchyard was levelled in 1861, five feet taller, with at least another fifteen feet of stone below ground… and possibly more. William Stukely, who excavated the site, finding many skulls found that there was as much of the stone buried as now stands above ground.

The stone is around three and a half feet thick and five feet nine wide. It is thought to weigh around forty tonnes and is of a stone called Moorstone Grit. Because of the particular type of stone, it must have been carried to the site from either Cayton Bay, ten miles away, or Grosmont, nearly forty miles away.

The point of the monolith is weathered in fluted channels, in the way that we have seen at so many sites. In 1773 it was capped with lead to prevent further erosion, uncapped, then recapped again. If the stone had once come to a point, before the weather had its way, it would have been at least another two feet taller than it is today.

The stone was erected in the Neolithic period or early Bronze Age… no-one knows for certain. In Britain, the Neolithic period began around six and a half thousand years ago, with the change to the Bronze Age beginning around two thousand years later. It is thought to have stood here on its hilltop for around five thousand years. But facts and figures are not the whole story… and they are the least impressive thing about this stone.

It has a colossal presence that far outweighs its dimensions and stands at the centre of a landscape once sacred. It is the curious juxtaposition of church and stone that shows how far we have moved from seeing the sacred in the living land, to enclosing our approach to divinity within an ornate ‘box’.

Both approaches have their merits… to see the earth as a living expression of deity is to walk as do the druids, with the consciousness that every footfall touches sacred earth. But, unless we maintain that attitude, it would be easy to let necessity and desire cloud our consciousness of the spirit of a sacred earth. To enter the walls of a hallowed place of worship is to deliberately approach divinity with a focussed intent. Yet it is too easy to keep divinity in its box and forget its presence in our lives when we leave the sacred precinct. Perhaps we need both and perhaps these mysterious artefacts recognise that need.

There are some curious markings on the stone, too weathered to say with any certainty what they are, or even if they are any more than natural. One such marking has long been thought to be a fossilied dinosaur footprint. Whether it is or not, you can imagine it being sufficient cause for our ancestors choosing this particular stone to set at the centre of a sacred landscape. The surrounding countryside was once strewn with barrows and burial mounds. Four five-thousand year old cursuses… sunken processional ways… converge upon the stone and an ancient henge is not far away.

One of the burials was brought here from a nearby barrow and the cist rebuilt in a corner of the churchyard, close to a second, smaller standing stone. probably overlooked by most who visit Ruston. There are also the remains of a sarcophagus there.

It was obviously a site of some importance and even the name, Rudston, comes from the presence of the monolith. It may mean ‘rood’ stone, meaning ‘cross’… and while that might be a post-Christian interpretation, could it be that ancients tracks ‘crossed’ here? Or leys? the dragon energies and an apparent dinosaur footprint might work well together. Rudston may also come from a Viking term, Hrodr-steinn in Old Norse, which means ‘famous stone’. There are many Viking names in the area, including several barrows, like Ba’l Hill… with Baal being a mace-bearing storm god.

That the site continued to be seen as important throughout its history is easy to see from the local landscape and archaeology. The Romans built a road close by and a Roman villa was found across the stream below the church. This intermiitent stream is the Gypsey Race that flows to Bridlington… and could that town be named for the early goddess, Brid?

We still had the church to visit…  it would be well worth it too… and we would try, unsuccessfully, to find the holy well and the remains of the villa. But once the other visitors had left, who had asked us about the stone as they said we ‘looked like people who would know’, all we wanted to do was sit with the monolith and absorb its enormity… knowing that we know nothing at all and being perfectly okay with that.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in adventure, albion, Ancestors, Ancient sites, Churches, England, History, Landscape, mystery, Photography, Sacred sites, Spirituality, Stuart France and Sue Vincent and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to North-easterly: Sidetracked and gobsmacked

  1. Pingback: North-easterly: Sidetracked and gobsmacked — Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo | GrannyMoon's Morning Feast

  2. An amazing stone, Sue.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jenanita01 says:

    I love moments like that, when the world seems to slow down and thoughts depart. All you find yourself doing, is breathe and relax…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. willowdot21 says:

    This just so interesting Sue. There is just so much history and life on this island we just need to open our eyes and our minds.💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

  5. stevetanham says:

    Reblogged this on Sun in Gemini and commented:
    From Sue…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Bladud Fleas says:

    It looks as if it were The Shard of its time. Fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Magnificent! It’s just wonderful that it simply is there.

    Like

  8. noelleg44 says:

    It would give me goosebumps just to touch the thing! I wonder if Lidar could be used on it, to bring up the markings?

    Like

  9. Reblogged this on When Angels Fly and commented:
    Quite interesting…

    Like

  10. Darlene says:

    An amazing site. I would have been in awe.

    Like

  11. Eliza Waters says:

    So amazing, so huge! However did it get there, is my greatest wonder?

    Like

  12. Widdershins says:

    And leaning back on that headstone to take it all in? Priceless. 🙂 … I’m sure the occupant beneath welcomed the visit too. 🙂

    Like

  13. Trying to imagine, for a moment, what the world looked like. Smelled like. How empty is was compared to today.

    Like

  14. Jennie says:

    Just wonderful!

    Like

  15. There be giants who walked the land for sure. These were the gods.

    Liked by 1 person

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