Rudston Beacon
Round Barrow Cemetery
South of Rudston, East Riding of Yorkshire  OS Map Ref TA09456558  Elevation: 91M OSD
OS Maps - Landranger 101 (Scarborough), Explorer 301 (Scarborough, Bridlington & Flamborough Head)


Round barrow on the summit of Rudston Beacon
Large round barrow on the summit of Rudston Beacon.

Rudston Beacon is a hill to the south of Rudston village that seems to have played an important part in the ritual landscape of the Great Wold Valley and the Gypsey Race. Author and musician Julian Cope points to four clues, the first in the name of the hill itself - the 'Beacon' would lead us to assume the hills roll as a 'fire-hill'. Next he mentions the fact that it is directly aligned with the former Argham cursus which ran past the henge at Little Argham and almost to the Rudston monolith. This is one of the four cursuses in this landscape, the Beacon cursus also roughly aligns with the Beacon for most of it length, but skirts off at an angle at its southern extent to end on its eastern slopes. Although the monolith in the village would have been clearly visible from the hill (it is now obscured from the summit by a small copse of trees) Julian proposes a third reason for the hills importance. He claims that from Folkton Barrow at Kirkheads, 8 miles to the north a dip in the horizon allows a glimpse of the Beacon. Finally he draws attention to the Roman road (Woldgate) that runs from Kilham to Bridlington and passes over the summit of the hill as possible evidence that the site still had meaning to the locals by the end of the Iron Age, and hence had to be stamped with Roman authority. This is a possibility, although it could just have been the easiest and most direct route for the road builders to take. Interestingly a Roman Villa also once stood to the north of here, a short distance outside Rudston village.
The most compelling evidence however comes from a study of old maps, records of excavations by authors such as Canon Greenwell and photographs of cropmarks of the area around the Beacon. Piecing together the evidence points to between seven and ten Bronze Age round barrows clustered around the summit of the hill with a further twenty five or so barrows or ring ditches on its eastern slope as it runs down to meet the southern end of Beacon Cursus. It was in one of the barrows close to the cursus that Canon Greenwell discovered a well preserved double cist (pictured below) which he removed and placed in the grounds of Rudston Churchyard where it can be seen today in the northeast corner next to the boundary wall. The barrows on Rudston Beacon have been badly damaged by ploughing over the centuries but at least two mounds can still be clearly seen, the one shown in the photograph at the top of the page is the largest and appears to be at the highest point of the hill.

Double cist found in a barrow on Rudston Beacon
Double cist found in a barrow on Rudston Beacon now relocated to Rudston Churchyard.

Map of the Rudston Landscape
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