Rudston Monolith, the tallest standing stone in the UK and a Cursus complex
The Rudston Monolith at over 7.6 metres (25 ft) is the tallest megalith (Standing stone) in the United Kingdom. It is situated in the churchyard in the village of Rudston in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
The nearest source (Cayton or Cornelian Bay) of stone of the type the monolith is made of is 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) north of the site. It was probably erected around 1600 BC. There is one other smaller stone, of the same type, in the churchyard, which was once situated near the large stone. The Norman church was almost certainly intentionally built on a site which was already considered sacred, a practice which was common through the country, indeed the name of Rudston is thought to come from the Old English "Rood-stane", meaning "cross-stone", implying that a stone already venerated was adapted for Christian purposes.
Royston stated that in 1861 during levelling of the church yard an additional 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) of the monolith was buried. The weight is estimated at 40 tons (~40,000 kg).
Sir William Strickland is reported to have conducted an experiment in the late 18th century determining that there was as much of the stone below ground as is visible above. Strickland found many skulls during his dig and suggests they might have been sacrificial.
The top appears to have broken off the stone. If pointed, the stone would originally have stood about 8.5 metres (28 ft). In 1773 the stone was capped in lead, this was later removed, though the stone is capped currently.
Fossilised dinosaur footprints on one side of the stone may have contributed to its importance to those who erected it.
The stone is very slender, with two large flat faces. The flat face of the stone faces the midwinter sunrise in the southeast.
Lines, created by removing soil and grass from above the turf may have been created in the area, and have been linked to the stone. There are many other earthworks in the area, including burial mounds and Cursuses.
Cursus (plural 'cursūs' or 'cursuses') was a name given by early British archaeologists such as William Stukeley to the large parallel lengths of banks with external ditches which they thought were early Roman athletic courses, hence the Latin name cursus, meaning "course". Cursus monuments are now understood to be Neolithic structures and represent some of the oldest prehistoric monumental structures of the British Isles; cursus may have been of ceremonial function.
They range in length from 50 metres to almost 10 kilometres and the distance between the parallel earthworks can be up to 100 metres. Banks at the terminal ends enclose the cursus.
Contemporary internal features are rare and it has been traditionally thought that the cursuses were used as processional routes. They are often aligned on and respect the position of pre-existing long barrows and bank barrows and appear to ignore difficulties in terrain. TheDorset Cursus, the longest known example, crosses a river and three valleys along its course across Cranborne Chase and is close to the henge monuments at Knowlton.
It has been conjectured that they were used in rituals connected with ancestor worship, that they follow astronomical alignments or that they served as buffer zones between ceremonial and occupation landscapes. More recent studies have reassessed the original interpretation and argued that they were in fact used for ceremonial competitions. Finds of arrowheads at the terminal ends suggest archery and hunting were important to the builders and that the length of the cursus may have reflected its use as a proving ground for young men involving a journey to adulthood. Anthropological parallels exist for this interpretation.
Examples include the four cursuses at Rudston in Yorkshire, that at Fornham All Saints in Suffolk, the Cleaven Dyke in Perthshire and the Dorset cursus.
A notable example is the Stonehenge Cursus, within sight of the more famous stone circle, on land belonging to The National Trust's Stonehenge Landscape.
Henges: Stonehenge, Woodhenge, Avebury & Stanton Drew from Michael Bott on Vimeo.
The Stone Rows of Dartmoor from Michael Bott on Vimeo.
Men-an-Tol from Michael Bott on Vimeo.
The megaliths of Cornwall from Michael Bott on Vimeo.
The Ballowall Barrow - Land's End, Cornwall from Michael Bott on Vimeo.
http://standingwithstones.net Standing with Stones is a remarkable and unprecedented documentary film that takes the viewer beyond Stonehenge on an incredible journey of discovery that reveals the true wealth and extent of Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain & Ireland.
If you ever wondered what it would be like to travel the length and breadth of the British Isles, visiting the most intriguing and enigmatic monuments that our ancestors left us, from Cornwall through England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland to the outer reaches of the Hebrides and Orkney, then you will love this film.
Described by one magazine reviewer as "A stunning study of standing stones. A work of art." (Forten Times), this is no amateur travelogue. Written and presented by writer and explorer Rupert Soskin and shot and edited by broadcast producer Michael Bott, this film is a stunningly beautiful and absorbing two and a quarter hour tour of our ancient heritage in the company of an engaging and knowledgable host - the journey of a lifetime.