Lin and I decided to pay the Rollright Stones a visit whilst on route to Chipping Norton. The Rollright Stones is the name of a megalithic complex close to Long Compton. It consists of 3 groups of heavily weathered limestone stones. The main group is the King’s Men which has 77 stones though originally it had 105 and is 33 metres in diameter and dates back 4,500 years. The area is surpose to have a special energy and is known to have magnetic properties. Lin is sensistive to these things so I asked her to stand in the middle of the King’s Men. After a couple of minutes she said she felt dizzy and if she was going to have an out of body experience. The King’s Stone is across the road and consists of a single stone which is believed to have been a marker for a bronze age cemetery. The oldest part of the complex is the Whispering Knights which date back 6,000 years and consists of 5 stones and was a burial chamber. I’m not sure why but coins have been left on various parts of the stones. Local legend says the the knights were conspiring against the king and were turned into stone by a witch together with the other monuments.
The Whispering Knights are a group of five stones, three of which are in a standing position. The oldest on this site, early Neolithic stones, they date back to 3500 - 4000 B.C. Their function is not a mystery - they are the remains of a megalithic tomb with a flat stone having once been on top of the standing ones. However, the only evidence of the dolmen's purpose is a human jaw bone found here in the 1920's.
The Whispering Knights look like a group of people holding a secret meeting and whispering to each other, but their name may also derive from the local belief that young girls can hear them whisper the name of their future husbands.
The King's Men are a circle of 77, mostly standing, stones dating from around 2000 to 3000 B.C. Apparently difficult to count as the number miraculously varies each time you do it, they are of local Oolithic Limestone, misshapen and weather-beaten but still standing proudly whispering of their glorious past. In 1882 the Stones were officially recognised as an Ancient Monument and the fallen ones were put in their original position by the land owners in the same year. And it was not only the weather that contributed to the damage, a few years ago they were daubed with yellow paint by anonymous 'practical jokers', which was very difficult to remove.
There is a mat placed in the middle of the Circle where you are supposed to feel some vibes. We stood there with Alan, but all I could feel was a kind of slight dizziness, probably the effect of emotions.
It is a fact that, although the Circle is believed to be a traditional witches' meeting place, it certainly is a place where modern neopagans perform their rituals. If I were them, I'd be very careful not to do any damage to the Stones as 'cursed be any mortal man that would try to move them'. I am not sure if they like visitors either: we never had to look for any place as hard as for this Neolithic site: we tried various roads, turning back a few times and finally had to ask some locals the way.
Admission: Adults - 50 p., children - 25 p.
There are a couple of laybys by the site of the stones that can be used for parking. Do not leave anything on display in the car because the area is a popular spot for thievies. The same warning also goes for portable devices such as mobile phones, cameras and laptops. Though they may be out of sight and switched off, anything with a battery source of power can be detected. If your car has been broken into and for example a laptop stolen from the boot, you may have thought it was just bad luck, its not. It is possible with a cheap and readily available device to determine which cars to break into. BE WARNED.
The Rollright Stones are a Scheduled Ancient Monument and you can be prosecuted for causing any damage to the Stones and the site. The King's Men Stone Circle stands on private land belonging to the Rollright Trust. According to their regulations, no one is permitted to stay on the site between sunset and sunrise - this has been stipulated to prevent modern neopagans from gathering there as they used to deface and damage the stones.
Understandably, the notice also says that dogs are not permitted within or close to the Stone Circle.
Legend has it that the stones of the Rollright Stone Circle were once real people, an army led by a king, now the King Stone. Here, in Oxfordshire a witch stood in their way and told the king he would become the King of England if after taking seven long strides he could see the village of Long Compton. The cunning witch knew there was (and still is) a mound on the king's way which would block the view. So of course he couldn't. The king and his army were turned into stones and the witch into an elder tree to look over them. It is believed that if the tree is cut when in blossom it will bleed. But it's hard to decide which of the elder trees is the witch. It is said that once when on midsummer's eve at midnight people gathered round the King Stone and the Witch Elder was cut the King moved his head. Just another interesting folk tale?
There is a popular poem quoting the conversation between the king and the witch. If you are interested, go to: