I have been inspired by a visit to the Rudston megalith recently and the talk about the site given by a local geologist.

The Rudston Megalith is, at 27 feet, the tallest single standing stone in the UK.  It’s the most important site of pagan worship in the East Riding of Yorkshire.  It’s in the churchyard in the village of Rudston, which stakes a claim to be the oldest place of continuous settlement in England with a community there from megolithc times to the present day.

Today it’s nestled in a dry chalk valley but in pre-historic times the East Yorkshire Wold carried a wide river, now little more than a drain called the Gypsey Race.  Before the ice age geological movements sheared the river valley and formed a huge kink in the river.  This created a large platform with an outlook across the River and the rolling wolds beyond.  This was where the megalith was erected probably around 1,500 BC.

The stone is made of moor grit.  It may have been washed down from the North Yorks Moors during the ice age and deposited close to the site rather than transported there.  What is also remarkable about the stone is that the pock-marks on them are actually dinosaur footprints!

There were five cursors or ceremonial lanes that converged on the stone.  In neotlithic times these would have been covered in chalk and were white.  It is a theory that Stonehenge was the principal ritual site and that everybody in neolithic times would have heard of it.  This would have made Rudston a satellite site.  It would have been possible to walk from Rudston to Stonehenge following the chalkland.  There is also one more much smaller stone on the edge of the churchyard so it is possible that there was also a stone circle around the megalith.  This is supported by the fact that the church wall is curved, which is very unusual, and would appear to follow the line of a circle in line with the smaller stone.

Across from the megalith there is a ridge of hills known as Woldgate and there would have been a cursor leading across the river to the hills.  It was on these hills that the burial mounds were sited.  You can’t see them now because modern farming means you can no longer see them in the landscape.  The settlement was on one side of the river and the ritual sites for burials were on the other side of the river so that the dead had to pass from one side of the river to the other.  The churchyard has a cist or stone burial chamber recovered from one of the nearby burial mounds in the 19th century dumped in its corner.

When christianity arrived they put the early church on the ritual site next to the megalith.  It’s remarkable the standing stone still survives.  Perhaps it’s size and weight (allegedly it is  buried as deep as it is tall and weigh 40 tons) and the difficulty or removing it helped to protect it.

It’s certainly a very powerful and mystical site.

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