15 September 2006
Not your usual rural parish church. This one has a huge monolith standing right next to it, towering over the chuchyard. The Rudston monolith is the largest standing stone in Britain, around 25ft (7.7 metres) high.
This neolithic stone does, of course, predate the church – which has been built alongside it. Christian churches were often built on or near sites already used as pagan religious sites, but it’s not that often you see such obvious evidence of this.
Research in the 1700s is said to have determined that the length of the stone buried below ground equals the 26ft or so above. Though the depth of the stone below the surface is a matter of some debate, we can assume it goes down some way, to be still standing upright. The top of the stone has been capped with lead, presumably to prevent erosion.
A plaque alongside the stone explains its significance. A pound coin had been left in one of the holes in the stone’s surface, and a candle lit nearby.
Our older churches show a fascinating mix of materials and styles from their various alterations and rebuildings. I love these strange little details in an older church’s exterior. Above, details from the south wall of the church, with evidence of repatching of the original stone with this rather attractive brick/terracotta type material.
Above – details from around the window on the south wall. Rather crumbling, these little carved heads, but I rather like these unrestored parts.
More recent, presumably, inside the porch, these carved heads on either side of the door. The lady appears to be wearing better than the gentleman.
In the churchyard, underneath the massive monolith, I noticed several of the graves had ironwork around them, including this one, with anchors and a chain, and even a cross made from iron. Also noticeable were many headstones of the same design, in a row next to one another, under the monolith. A few of them were leaning, as headstones in old churchyards often do. Unlike the monolith, buried so deep in the earth that it seems well anchored for more centuries to come.