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RUDSTON LEY
North Yorkshire/Humberside

The ley runs NW-SE for just over 10 miles across the undulating wolds of what used to be called the East Riding of Yorkshire.

The ley starts to the N in the small, somewhat lonely village of Willerby at the church of St. Peter (00837918). The ley goes through the 13th century tower.

Barely a mile along the ley to the SE is a tumulus (01727807), one of a pair on the top of steep Staxton Brow. It is marked on the 1:50,000 map but not on the 1:25,000. Our inquiries at the O.S. confirmed that there was a barrow: a site report of 1968 described the round barrow as 'discernible only as a large round swelling'. We verified this with fieldwork. Access to the site is along a track from the B1249, but the track has a Ministry of Defence sign discouraging casual visitors (there is a radar establishment near to the tumuli not marked on the maps). The compass bearing indicated that the ley went through the extreme SW edge of what remains of the ley marker. Looking back along the ley from the position of the tumulus, Willerby Church far below in the Derwent Valley can just be seen beyond the edge of Staxton Brow.

Sweeping over the large fields of the Wolds, the ley comes to Willy Howe (06187237), a huge round barrow 24 feet high and 130 feet in diameter. No burials have been found within it, and no evidence with which to date it, but the consensus of opinion seems to consider it late Neolithic. In the 12th century William of Newburgh reported that a man passing it on his way home one night heard singing coming from within the mound. On investigation he discovered an entrance and, looking in saw men and women in the well-lit interior engaged in what seemed to be a ceremonial meal. A cup of wine was offered to him, which he snatched, poured away the contents, and made off at speed on his horse. The outraged faeries could not catch him, and the cup, made of unknown material and of an unusual colour, apparently passed into the possession of King Henry the Elder, and was later kept in the Treasury of Scotland. Another story concerns the experience of some people who dug into the barrow and there found a huge chest of Gold. They attached a team of horses to it, but in vain - the chest sank deeper into the mound the more they pulled.

Willy Howe is situated by the Gypsy Race, a stream fed by a spring which flows irregularly. There a number of these 'gypseys' in Yorkshire, and they are supposed to flow particularly vigorously before major events, usually unhappy ones. As a result they are sometimes called 'Woe Waters'. The Gypsey Race is supposed to have predicted a number of local events, including severe storms and the fall of a large meteorite at Wold Newton in the 18th Century. This suggests the possibility of some geophysical connection between the spring and certain aerial phenomena.

The ley encounters the stream again at 09596803, just N of Rudston. At this precise point one of the mysterious cursuses in the countryside around Rudston crosses the Race as well, but is visible only from the air as a crop mark.

A short distance on, and the ley passes through the Rudston monolith (09816774) in the churchyard just to the E of the church. The compass bearing shows that the ley passes through the stone without touching the church. At 251/2 feet, this mighty stone is the tallest in Britain. Moreover, there is said to be as much of it below ground as above. It was brought from about 10 miles away and is thought to have been erected between 2200 and 1400 BC. The church is Norman, and here we can see how the site was marked from prehistory. In most cases a markstone was built into the church foundations, or used as a base for a churchyard cross, or removed completely, but this monstrous monolith, sometimes call the 'Grandmother of the Church' was a little too large for any of these! Traditions associated with the megalith say variously that it grew there one night, was shot from the Devil's bow, or was erected in gratitude for the spring that fed the Gypsey Race. This last might be a hint regarding the ley.

The ;final ley marker is South Side Mount (10746656), a round barrow about a mile SE of Rudston. It is now being ploughed out but was once substantial in size. Excavations have revealed skeletons of seventeen people, but these were secondary interments. The primary burial, if any, has not been found. The mound was surrounded by a no longer visible circular ditch, with a causeway, enclosed within a square ditch. Grave goods are in the British Museum.


Archives RudstonLine RudstonLine.zip

16km 323.2°/143.2°