Other English Sites:


Standing Stones.

Altered Landscapes.




England Homepage.

Index of Ancient Sites.









About Us.

A-Z Site Index.

Gift Shop.

Contact Us

 Location: Yorkshire Wolds, England. O/S TA 098677.  Grid Reference: 54.093� N, 0.321�W.


Rudstone monument (ancient-wisdom)      Rudstone: (The 'Red-Stone' Monument').

The largest Standing-Stone in Britain in what is often claimed to be the oldest village.

The Rudstone monument is the largest standing stone in Britain. It stands 7.8m high and estimated to weigh 26 tons. It was fashioned from grit-stone from Cayton bay, around 16 km distant. Excavations (By Sir. William Strickland) in the late 18th century suggested the monument extends as deep below the ground as it stands and although this seems unlikely, the statement remains to be verified.



   The Rudstone Monument:

The largest standing stone in Britain, stood beside 'All Saint�s' Church, in what is said to be the oldest village in Britain.

The Rudstone monument (ancient-wisdom.com)The parish register contains a description of the monolith written by one of the parish clerks. After a rough pen-and-ink sketch of the monolith appears the following:-

There are no authorities to be depended upon in regard to either the time, manner, or occasion of its erection. It is almost quite grown over with moss from top to bottom.

In the year 1773 its top being observed to decay through the rains descent upon it, Mrs. Bosville ordered a small cap of lead to be put on it in order to preserve it, which was accordingly done. Its dimensions within ground are as large as those without, as appears from an experiment made by ye late Sr. Wm. Strickland, of Boynton.

The names of the immediately surrounding hills (Ba'al Hill, The Rudstone Beacon and Beacon Hill), suggest that the region had an important role in prehistoric affairs.

The name Rudstone derives from the old English words meaning 'cross-stone' (4), offering the possibility that Anglo-Saxons may have once placed a cross on top in an attempt to convert it. Similar conversions were performed on several Breton megaliths, such as the standing stone at Duzec.

There is a smaller stone on the north-east side of the churchyard, also made of gritstone, and close beside it a cist constructed of sandstone slabs. These too seem to be prehistoric structures. (4)


The Rudstone Cursus:

Cursus monuments are one of the most functionally enigmatic of prehistoric structures. Surrounding Rudston, East Yorkshire, a cluster of at least four cursus converges on a bend in the Great Wold Valley. Of these monuments, Cursus A, or the 'Woldgate Cursus', is particularly unusual, with a curving  'dog-leg' plan. The unique shape of this structure provides an opportunity for studying cursus morphology with the aim of interpreting its function - essentially, why does the structure curve in this way?

The Rudstone Cursus. (ancient-wisdom.com)

Barclay and Bayliss have assessed the Radio-carbon evidence for the five cursus and assigned their construction to the second half of the fourth millennium BC. (2)

The Rudston group contains an unparalleled concentration of cursus monuments. Cursus A is the southern most of the group. The southern end of the cursus survives as an earthwork and the remainder is visible on air photographs as two parallel ditches. The cursus is 2700 metres long by circa 58 metres, it tapers to 41 metres at the south terminal.

Cursus A is the only one of the group where both ends are visible, both of the terminals are square in plan.

It is noticeable that the Gypsey Race was used to define a part of an edge of the Cursus for a while.

(More about Cursus)



An alignment between Rudstone beacon and beacon hill as defined by one of the cursus (6).


The Neolithic Ritual Landscape.

The Neolithic modification of the landscape appears to have started with the construction of the two long Barrows on the horizon just over 2km directly west of the spur where the Rudstone monument now stands. (1)

The Great stone was erected upon a natural spur, overlooking a striking change in course of the Great Wolds Valley and the Gypsey Race, which form a natural amphitheatre with the spur as its focus. The Gypsey Race is the only permanent free-flowing water supply  in the Yorkshire Wolds. The Gypsey Race used to flow far faster in the past and has a tradition associating it with having prophetic abilities. (5)

Cope (6), says that the site was 'once a great Neolithic centre which stretched for miles'. He adds writes that the Brigantes or 'People of the Brig' worshipped their Great Goddess from before Neolithic times.

The monument connects the Rudstone Beacon and Beacon Hill through the alignment of a Cursus. There are several 'Howes' nearby, when combined with the several prominent 'hump's or Tumulus, the Henge and the dramatic landscape form together to become a significant, but almost lost landscape.

(Other examples of Altered Landscapes)



One of the Cursus is orientated roughly north-south, and another roughly east-west.



Gallery of Images: Rudstone Monument


Rudstone as it was 1873.


(Other Cursus)

(Menhirs, Obelisks and Standing Stones)

(Other Prehistoric English sites)



1). J. Manley. Atlas of Prehistoric Britain. 1989. Oxford University Press.
2). Barclay, A & Bayliss, A., 1999. Cursus monuments and the Radiocarbon Problem. in Barclay, A & Harding, J. Pathways & Ceremonies: The Cursus Monuments of Britain & Neolithic. Studies Group Seminars Paper 4, Oxbow Books, Oxford.
3). http://pastscape.english-heritage.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=79482# 
4). R. Castlededen, Neolithic Britain.
5). http://www.archaeology.look-here.co.uk/GypseyRace/RudstonNeo/files/RudstonPaper.pdf
6). J. Cope. The Modern Antiquarian. 1998. Thorsons.

About Us Homepage  |  A-Z Site Index  |  Gift Shop  |  Contact-Us