The Rollright Stones, Oxfordshire’s answer to Stonehenge
Today’s Hidden Gem was submitted by Jessica Friend of The Weekend Tourist to find out more about The Rollright Stones, a hidden gem in Oxfordshire and the county’s answer to Stonehenge!
The Rollright Stones are always the first place I take someone to visit – it’s also amazing how many locals have never visited the place either. They are Oxfordshire’s answer to Stonehenge.
I pass this Neolithic stone circle almost every day on my way to work in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, but if you didn’t know they were there, you wouldn’t necessarily measure their existence.
From the main street they are wrapped in trees and cover the stone circle. You only get a strange mystical glimpse as you speed past the national speed limit.
Why should you visit the Rollright Stones?
The stones are actually made up of three groups, all of which were built at different times between the Neolithic and the Bronze Ages. The largest group, known as the King’s Men, was formed around 2,500 BC. Erected while the lone Königsstein was placed about 1000 years later and finally the three Whispering Knights are the oldest of all, believed to have been around 3,800 BC. Were erected.
They are made from the same honey-colored Jurolitic Oolitic limestone that many Cotswold villages are built from, and it is believed that the boulders used to create the site were likely collected within 500m.
As with any stone circle, the Rollright Stones are steeped in local legend and folklore. The unusual names are derived from the almost Arthurian myth. The story goes like this …
An over-ambitious king was trying to conquer all of England when he was stopped by a witch – Mother Shipton of Shipton-under-Wychwood (a character who also inspired many of the characters at Wychwood Brewerywhich is a great tour too!).
She challenged the king:
“You should take seven long steps,
And if you can see Long Compton
You shall be King of England. “
The cocky king set out and tried to see the village of Long Compton. He called:
“Stock, supply, stone,
I will be known as King of England. ”
On his seventh step, the ground rose in front of him in a long hill (sometimes known as the Arch Druid’s wheelbarrow) that obscured his view. The witch laughed and explained:
“As long as you can’t see Compton,
You shall not be King of England
Get up and stand still, stone
You shall not be one to the King of England
You and your men should howl stones
And I myself am an elder. “
And so the king became the king stone, his men the stone circle of the king’s men and his treacherous knights, the whispering knights. Although some say the knights were actually in prayer.
It is not a complete story of evidence, no one is entirely sure which unfortunate king was turned to stone or why his knights planned against them. It has obviously been lost over the millennia. Legend has it that one day the spell will be broken and the king and his men will return to life and continue their conquest.
When you step out of the short wooded path into the stone circle you can’t help but feel impressed by these structures. Their unusual, rugged shape is the result of overzealous Victorian trophy hunters who chipped a piece of the rock as a souvenir.
The first thing visitors need to do is try to count the rocks. It is said that if you walk around the Rollright Stones three times, you will never count the same number every time. But if you can do it, you are entitled to a wish.
Cool Rollright Stone Facts!
- In 1743, local women believed that the stones could promote fertility and that they would especially touch the Königstein with their breasts!
- In 1962, a young farmer driving a tractor saw a pillar of white light floating 15 feet in the air before it gradually disappeared, so terrified he sped home through three gates. This incident only added to the theory that the circle was a calling card for extraterrestrial beings who shared esoteric knowledge with our ancestors, something that has been generally forgotten over the centuries.
- The stones are perfectly aligned in a north-south ley (old tracks that line up historical sites) with the Uffington White Horse.
- The classic 1978 Dr Who episode – – “The Stones of Blood” was shot at the Rollright Stones. Tom Baker’s doctor faces blood-sucking stones that roam the English countryside – even the doctor couldn’t count the same number of stones.
- You will often see people with fortune telling poles – ancient practice of holding twigs or metal bars intended to move in response to hidden objects. It is often used to Search for water.
How do I get to the Rollright Stones?
Address: Rollright Road, Little Rollright, Chipping Norton OX7 5QB
Parking for the Rollright Stones is limited – it includes two official laypeople along the main street. The entrance to the path to the stones is about halfway along the lay.
This is a busy road with lots of traffic at times. So be careful when opening doors. The charity also asks you not to park further down the street when the lay people are full, as this will cause congestion in the surrounding villages. Still, I’ve never been when the laypeople were so rammed!
Best time to visit the Rollright Stones
I would say if you can visit on a weekday there is a good chance you have the entire complex to yourself. Do not go on the days of the summer or winter solstice, because then the stones are a popular hangout for local druids.
Insider tips for a visit
- This is a good picnic spot as the views of the rolling Cotswold hills provide a great backdrop. Picnic benches are available from the Whispering Knights and in the main circle.
- It’s an ideal place for landscape photographers – but without drones.
- The stones are looked after by an independent trust, hence a donation to the charity either via the practical QR code on the signpost or a handful of change. Recommended donations include £ 1 per adult and 50p per child – bargain!
- I would say an hour is a good time to see all three parts of the complex.
- There is now also a living witch sculpture near the King’s Stone that keeps popping up.
- Dogs are allowed on a leash, but not within the stone circle.
- Do not climb or sit on the stones. The king’s men placed special stones in the grove for climbing.
- It’s an accessible place – you can push a buggy or wheelchair over it, although it’s mostly a grassy place with no designated footpaths.
- It’s open all the time and available for star gazers at night!
Other things to do near the Rollright Stones
Not only is the stone circle a great visit in itself, but it can be carried over to many other day trips to Cotswold. Bourton on the Water, Bibury, Stratford upon Avon and Chipping Campden are all within an hour of the stone circle.
over The weekend tourist
Most of us only do touristic things on vacation, 25 days a year vacation, I say that’s a shame especially since we have 104 weekend days to explore! The Weekend Tourist is all about discovering your neighborhood, attractions, historic locations, local restaurants and independent businesses that, to me, are in Oxfordshire and Warwickshire.
From Jess’s friend Bartlett
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