I had promised Glorious an expedition into the outdoors to take full advantage of the marvellous spring time weather conditions, and by way of celebrating the resumption of our joint outdoors activities.
I offered him the prospect of a pleasant meander along the byways of the East Yorkshire Wolds with a diversion to view an antiquity or two to along the way.
(Editor Note) An important point to remember in the achievement of a successful expedition dear reader is to always include the element of surprise. A pleasant and unexpected diversion along the way will increase the enjoyment of the outdoors experience immeasurably.
I explained to Glorious that I intended our journey to culminate with a visit to the quaint and little known village of Rudston. This journey would take us first back to pagan Britain of 1600 BC and then beyond, where we would eventually take a walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs.
(Editor Note) There was I think, a hint of scepticism in his response. I suspected that he believed my claims to be somewhat exaggerated especially if the achievement was to be complete before the luncheon I had also promised. I had in fact created the perfect ambience for a memorable expedition. You should always aim for such an achievement dear reader.
Situated between Driffield and Bridlington and approximately 6 miles to the west of Bridlington, Rudston lies in the Great Wold Valley. The romantically named ‘Gypsey Race’, an intermittent stream that runs through the village dominated by the magnificent 14th-century Norman church of All Saints. Whilst the church would be of undoubted interest alone, today the churchyard would be the setting for a most surprising series of encounters.
We drove along narrow lanes, flanked by fields and pasture. Both crops and stock where lazing in warm sunshine. The landscape seemed full of promise and sparkle on such a brilliant day. Blue skies without cloud, though still an ‘early year chill’ to the air. The young springtime fought to free itself from the old winter’s grip. Hedgerows had begun their cloaks of fresh green bloom and the verges a dazzle of golden daffodils. We both enjoyed the ride.
We arrive. Lonely, quiet and peaceful, a back-water village. Rudston is dominated by it church and it’s past. Whilst the inside of the church is of undoubted interest it is the churchyard where the astonishments lie. We enter the yard through a gated yew hedge and directly in front of us amidst the gravestones, standing massive and erect is the tallest Monolith in the realm, The Rudston Monolith.
Here in this quiet place stands The Great Rudston Monolith, hidden, unnoticed and undisturbed. At over 7.6 metres (25 ft) it is the tallest Standing stone in the United Kingdom. The nearest source of stone of the type the monolith is made of is nearly 10 miles north of the site. It is thought that it was probably erected around 1600 BC.
The close proximity of the church to the stone is almost certainly intentionally. The church was built upon the directions of St Augustine on this site which was already considered sacred. He felt it was appropriate to demonstrate to the pagans that the Christianity was here to stay. Indeed the name of Rudston is thought to come from the Old English “Rood-stane”, meaning “cross-stone”, implying that the stone, already venerated, was adapted for Christian purposes.
Glorious is, I think, impressed at the sight. The weight of the stone is estimated at 40 tons .The top appears to have broken off. If pointed, the stone would originally have stood about 28 ft high. In 1773, the stone was capped in lead.
“The largest Monolith in England”, I proudly announce. “You mean megalith”, Glorious attempted to correct. In fact he may be correct; the dictionary definitions do not really specify any difference. “You say Megalith and I say Monolith” I reply, almost breaking into song. It is undoubtedly an impressive feature. We are both agreed.
As we move around the stone I judge it time to offer my final piece of antiquity which is even more impressive. I draw Glorious’s attention to the fact that the stone has dinosaur footprints on it! A closer inspection of one side reveals a set of marks that appear to be a diagonal stagger. Perhaps on a similar springtime morning a million or so years ago, when the monolith was a humble bit of mud on a river bed, a lizard walked by enjoying the warming weather at the end of winter and leaving its marks in that mud as it passed by. Could it also be that the Bronze Age people who selected, shaped and transported the stone did so because of these marks? Who knows, but it’s interesting to theorise!
(Editor Note) “Time for luncheon” I announce finally breaking the magical spell of this place. We drive back across the Wolds hardly believing the wonders we had seen.
Echo Sweetly BV
Proprietor and Editor, A Gentleman Adventurer’s Chronicle