Rudston Monolith – East Riding of Yorkshire, England - Atlas Obscura
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East Riding of Yorkshire, England

Rudston Monolith

Britain's tallest megalith towers over the cemetery of a quiet English village. 

Many weekend drivers making their way to the seaside havens of East Yorkshire are probably unaware that their route passes through a tiny village featuring an astonishing feat of ancient engineering.

The Rudston Monolith, a standing stone which can be found in the peaceful cemetery of All Saints Church in the village of Rudston, has been estimated to have been heaved into place and put upright sometime during the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age. At roughly 25 feet tall, it’s considered to be the United Kingdom’s tallest megalith.

It’s believed the rock was transported nearly 40 miles from the rugged Yorkshire Moors, via the sheer strength and ingenuity of the prehistoric people living in the area at that time. Little is known about how this was accomplished, but it’s agreed that it must have been a highly challenging feat.

Unfortunately, not much is known about why the stone was put in place, although some historians and archaeologists suspect that it was a central point for pagan religious rites and worship. This is further supported by the fact that there is evidence that at one point a cross was affixed to the top of the stone, suggesting that later Christian missionaries wanted to leave their mark as well.

The arrival of Christianity in ancient Britain may also have been the reason for the origin of a popular local myth. According to this tale, the stone appeared after the devil became so angry that a church was built on his sacred pagan lands that he hurled a chunk of rock at the heavens, only to have it ricochet back into in the church courtyard with the help of a divine hand.

Know Before You Go

There is very little parking available outside the church and the road is quite narrow, so please be considerate when stopping to view the monument.