Standing stone known as the Rudston Monolith


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TA 09803 67743

Reasons for Designation

Standing stones are prehistoric ritual or ceremonial monuments with dates ranging from the Late Neolithic to the end of the Bronze Age for the few excavated examples. They comprise single or paired upright orthostatic slabs, ranging from under lm to over 6m high where still erect. They are often conspicuously sited and close to other contemporary monument classes. They can be accompanied by various features: many occur in or on the edge of round barrows, and where excavated, associated subsurface features have included stone cists, stone settings, and various pits and hollows filled in with earth containing human bone, cremations, charcoal, flints, pots and pot sherds. Similar deposits have been found in excavated sockets for standing stones, which range considerably in depth. Several standing stones also bear cup and ring marks. Standing stones may have functioned as markers for routeways, territories, graves, or meeting points, but their accompanying features show they also bore a ritual function and that they form one of several ritual monument classes of their period that often contain a deposit of cremation and domestic debris as an integral component. No national survey of standing stones has been undertaken, and estimates range from 50 to 250 extant examples, widely distributed throughout England but with concentrations in Cornwall, the North Yorkshire Moors, Cumbria, Derbyshire and the Cotswolds. Standing stones are important as nationally rare monuments, with a high longevity and demonstrating the diversity of ritual practices in the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age. Consequently all undisturbed standing stones and those which represent the main range of types and locations would normally be considered to be of national importance.

The Rudston Monolith is the largest single standing stone in England and is unique. Despite its age, it survives in very good condition and is still in its original setting, and will therefore preserve archaeological information dating to its period of erection. It lies at the focus of a major group of cursus monuments and will contribute to the study of their function and date.


The monument includes a tall standing monolith of gritstone, measuring nearly 8m in height and 5m in circumference, situated in the churchyard to the north side of the chancel of the Rudston parish church. The stone is widest at its base, where it measures 1.75m (east side) by 1.6m (west side) by 0.9m (north side) by 0.63m (south side). It tapers towards a point at the top, which has since been broken and is now protected by a lead `hood'. Excavations conducted by Sir William Strickland in the 18th century suggested that the monument may extend as deep below ground as its height above. As the nearest sources of gritstone occur as outcrops at Cayton and Cornelian Bays, a distance of 15km away, it is believed that the stone was dragged here, a feat requiring considerable effort and engineering skill. However, it might also have been carried to Rudston by the same glacier flow which cut the Forge Valley near Scarborough. The monument dates to the Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age period and stands at the centre of a number of important archaeological sites in the Yorkshire Wolds around the Rudston area. These include henges, prehistoric settlement complexes, rectilinear enclosures, round and square barrow cemeteries. In particular the monument appears to mark the convergence of three cursus monuments. These are major Neolithic monuments which appear to have had some form of ritual or ceremonial function. The association between the stone and the cursus monuments is not yet fully understood, but the site has been an important one for many centuries, a factor recognised by the siting of the parish church here soon after the Norman Conquest in around AD 1100, by William Peverel, who was then lord of the manor. The modern wooden fencing surrounding the monument is excluded from the scheduling, as are all the headstones, mortuary monuments and burials which fall within the area of the scheduling. The ground beneath the present level of the modern burials and beneath the wooden fence are included in the scheduling. The monument is also Listed Grade I.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Humberside SMR, Sites and Monuments Records Sheet, (1994)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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