Friday, 2 November 2012
The Rollright Stones
David, my son, has been on holiday this week so we had a day out today and visited The Rollright Stones, a group of pre-historic Megalithic monuments, on the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border.
The Rollright Stones consist of the King's Men Stone Circle, the King's Stone, and the Whispering Knights. The name Rollright is thought to have originated from "Hrolla-landright" - the land of Hrolla. It is believed it was once a meeting place for communities - a stone axe from Cornwall and a flint from the Berkshire Downs have been found.
The King's Men Stone Circle - a ceremonial monument believed to have been built around 2500 - 2000 BC
The stone circle consists of heavily weathered, local oolitic limestones forming a circle around 30 metres in diameter. Legend has it that the stones are uncountable but there are around 70. Originally the circle consisted of around 105 stones which formed a continuous wall with one narrow entrance situated opposite the tallest stone.
The stones are covered in lichens some of which are thought to be 400 - 800 years old!
View from the circle - although it would have looked a lot different when the Stone Circle was erected. Most of the monuments may have originally been built in woodland glades or large clearings. In around 1500 BC the land would have been cleared to create open grassland.
400 yards in the distance are The Whispering Knights
This is the remains of a "Portal Dolmen " burial chamber believed to have been built between 3800 - 3000 BC i.e. long before the Stone Circle was erected. The 5000 year old burial chamber is believed to be part of a Neolithic Long Barrow. The five upright stones or Knights were so named because of the way the stones lean inwards towards each other as if they are conspiring or plotting against their King. It is the easternmost burial chamber of this type in Britain.
Looking back towards the Stone Circle which is situated between the two copses of trees in the distance.
The King's Stone - a large, single, Standing Stone
The age of this Stone is unclear although it is believed it was built in the Middle Bronze Age ~1800 - 1500 BC. It purpose is again unclear although it may have been a Bronze Age cemetery or an astronomical marker, marker stone or part of a former avenue of stones connected to the Stone Circle.
There is a large notch on one side of the King's Stone which was caused by eighteenth century drovers who chipped away small pieces to use as lucky charms.
"The Stones of the Blood" Doctor Who story which was first broadcast in four parts in 1978 was partially filmed at the Rollright Stones.
Myths and Legends
I love the sense of timelessness, mystery, myth and magic that you feel at ancient Stone Circles and there are many legends associated with the Rollright Stones.
A king who had ambitions to conquer England was leading his army across the Cotswolds when they chanced upon a witch who told them
"Seven long strides thou shalt take, and
if Long Compton thou canst see
King of England shalt thou be"
The King walked forward and as he took his seventh stride the ground rose up in a long mound hiding the village of Long Compton in the valley below. The witch turned the King and his men to stone with the King overlooking the village, his men standing in the circle nearby and his 5 knights plotting some distance away.
Tradition tells that at some point the spell may well be broken and the King and his army will come back to life and continue with their conquest of England.
Other legends tell that the spell is temporarily broken at the witching hour (midnight) when the King's Army come back to life and dance in a circle or sometimes they go down the hill to drink from a nearby spring but the King only joins them when he hears the Long Compton clock strike midnight.
Myths suggest it is impossible to count the stones accurately. If anyone gets the same number three times they will receive their heart's desire. Although another legends suggests they will die!
Underneath the King's Stone and Stone Circle it is told that faeries live in caverns. At midnight the fairies leave their caves via a hole in a nearby bank and dance around the circle by the light of the moon.
Myths suggest that the King Stone in particular has the power to improve fertility and in the past young women would visit the Whispering Knights and hold their ears against the stones in the hope that the Knights would whisper the name of their future husbands.
Earth mysteries are also connected to the Rollright Stones with dowsers recording powerful reactions here, UFO sightings and three ley lines have been associated with the site.
For more information on the Stones visit
After visiting the Stones we made our way to nearby Wyatts Farm Shop in search of sustenance!
A cup of tea and a Yogurt topped blackcurrant and apple flapjack which tasted as good as it looked!