Thursday, 16 November 2017
After leaving Long Compton village
we drove to the Rollright Stones which are only a couple of miles away.
The Rollright Stones are a group of prehistoric monuments constructed from large, naturally pitted, limestone boulders found within 500 metres of the site.
It must have been a place where communities from all over England met as a stone axe from Cornwall and a flint from the Berkshire Downs have been found.
The legend associated with the Stones tells of a King and his army who were marching across the Cotswolds when they met a witch who said to the King:
"Seven long strides thou shalt take, and
if Long Compton thou canst see
King of England shalt thou be".
The King took seven steps forward but as he took his last step the ground rose up in a large mound and he couldn't see the village below.
The witch cackled
"As Long Compton thou canst not see, King of England thou shalt not be.
Rise up stick and stand still stone,
for King of England thou shalt be none
Thou and thy men hoar stones shalt be and I myself an eldern tree"
At which point the King trying to overlook the village, his army standing nearby and his five Knights, who were plotting against him and planning treachery, a little way off, were all turned to stone.
View from the Stones across the Cotswold countryside. As you can see the location is quite high and it was freezing cold - how I wished I had brought my hat, gloves and scarf!
The King's Men Stone Circle is believed to have been built ~2500 - 2000 BC as a ceremonial monument. The circle of pitted stones forms a 30 metre diameter circle. There are at least 70 stones but they are apparently impossible to count. If you do count them and arrive at the same amount three times you can have any wish you want! Originally the circle contained 105 stones which formed a continuous circle apart from the entrance, opposite the tallest stone, which was flanked by portal stones. A third of the stones were re-erected in 1882. There is no ditch around the circle but it is slightly embanked. It is not known what the circle was used for - it may have been used for religious or secular ceremonies or both.
It is very atmospheric there although on this visit there were far more people around than when we first went and there wasn't quite the same sense of the past.
Some of the lichens growing on the stones are believed to be 400 - 800 years old.
Timothy making a brief appearance - it was too cold to linger he said. I am now under instructions to make him a scarf to keep him warm!
The Whispering Knights are about a quarter of a mile away
They are the remains of a "Portal Dolmen" burial mound - believed to have been built ~ 3800 - 3000 BC i.e. long before the circle. Originally, there would have been more upright stones and the chamber probably held the dismembered remains of several individuals.
One legend of the Knights tells that the stones walk down to the brook in the valley below to drink on New Year's Day or whenever the bells of Long Compton are rung.
The "latin" inscription on the bench reads
"ORE STABIT FORTIS ARARE PLACET ORE STAT"
You don't need to know Latin to translate this into English - have a go at the puzzle - the answer is given at the bottom of the post!
View walking to the King's Stone
The King's Stone is a large single standing stone probably erected to mark the site of a Bronze Age Cemetery used in 1800 - 800 BC. Other theories suggest that it was connected with the stone circle either as an astronomical marker or part of an avenue of stones which have long disappeared. A stone burial cairn is located under the grass next to the stone and 2 other burial mounds are nearby.
There is a large notch in the stone on the eastern side created by people who stole pieces of rock in the past. For this reason the Rollright Stones became a protected ancient monument and railings were built around them.
Other sites nearby include a possible Neolithic burial chamber, a Bronze Age round barrow and burial cairn, an Iron Age farming setttlement, a late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age trackway and field boundary, a Roman settlement and a Saxon cemetery.
The Rollright Stones really are well worth a visit if you are in the area and haven't been before.
We then drove a mile or so to Wyatts Farm Shop and Plant centre with a tearoom!! to warm up.
A late lunch of Leek and Potato soup and being very greedy indeed a piece of Spiced Parsnip and Chestnut cake which was truly scrumptious. Although cakes we eat out are usually very tasty they can sometimes be a little dry but this cake was one of the best I have eaten and very moist too. I have searched, without success, for a recipe.
Answer to quiz:
"O REST A BIT FOR TIS A RARE PLACE TO REST AT"
Reference: Leaflet on the Rollright Stones and Information Boards at the site
*D - Photos taken by my son with the Canon Bridge Camera SX50
Tuesday, 14 November 2017
On Sunday D and I drove down to South Warwickshire to visit the picturesque village of Long Compton with its amazing Lych Gate. The village is part of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and shows many features of the typical Cotswold village. It is very old having been established in early Saxon times and it appears in the Domesday Book.
Typical South Warwickshire countryside from the car window.
The Church of St Peter and St Paul
It is believed a church has existed on the site since the 5th century. St Augustine is understood to have visited Long Compton in 597 AD when the church was around 150 years old. According to legend he commanded that no ex-communicated person could attend mass and as he did so a man rose from the dead and left his grave and the churchyard!
The present day church, built of local stone, dates from the 13th century. The nave is the oldest part of the church and a chancel was added in the late 13th century followed by the North Aisle around 1300. The church was restored in 1862/63 by Woodyer and this included the addition of a tracery rood screed between the nave and chancel.
The wonderful lych gate is one of the main reasons for wanting to visit the village. - it dates back to 1600 and is constructed of timber, brick, stone and thatch. It is a Grade II Listed Building. It was originally at the end of a row of cottages but by the 1920's the rest of the cottages were derelict and were demolished leaving just the lych gate at the end. The upstairs room has been used as a cobblers, antique shop and later a museum of farm implements created by a George Latham. When he died in 1964 his wife gave the building to the church in his memory. Nowadays it is used by Compton District History Society to store maps and photos of the village and local area and is occasionally open to the public.
The old oak doors of the 14th century south porch are dated 1620.
The stone effigy of a woman dates from the 15th century although it is difficult to make out any details she is apparently wearing an ornate headdress and there is a dog at her feet. The effigy is possibly the cover of a tomb and was originally located in the North Aisle.
I managed to get D to come into the church for a short while to take these photos with the Canon Bridge Camera of stone corbels in the nave. These capital figures include a bishop's head with a horseshoe, pincers and a smith's hammer and a lady wearing a horned headdress together with a priest chalice and book.
I think the Font (and Pulpit) date back to the Woodyer Restoration
The North Aisle
Chancel and Rood Screen
Several reminders around the church that it was Remembrance Sunday.
Altar and East Window. The East window is modern glass set in a 14th century design and was made before the Victorians had become proficient in stained glass art.
Piscina dates from 1863
The Chancel carpet was made by local ladies in the 1960's.
Looking towards the Nave
This lovely noticeboard was covered in tapestries of local buildings.
Timothy insisted on having his photo taken to prove he had visited the lych gate!
While I was looking round the church D had a walk round the village - so a few of his photos to show you how picturesque it is.
The best book D ever found in our favourite second hand bookshop in Coleshill called "Books Revisited" was the Reader's Digest book on "Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain" - this mentions the stories mentioned above concerning St Augustine and also suggests there were once many witches in the village "There are enough witches in Long Compton to draw a load of hay up Long Compton hill". In the 19th century a man murdered a village woman claiming he had killed her because she had bewitched him. About a mile away are the Rollright Stones with their many myths concerning witches.
In fact these Stones, my favourite Neolithic location, were our next port of call but I will write about that in Part 2 - I think there are enough photos for one post!!!
*D - photos taken by my son with the Canon Bridge SX50
Reference: Leaflet on the Lych Gate and various information boards around the church.