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 at least 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 inches 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 was not found here, but 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.
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