Rollright Stones

Little Rollright, Oxfordshire, England

The stones date from 3800-1500 BC and are made from local Cotswold limestone. The area directly around the stones has been a focus for ceremonies and burials, and farming which continues today. Their history is well documented and mention can be found in the Doomsday book (AD 1086) when it was valued at £5, being held under the Bishopric of Lincoln.

There are three groups of stones; The King Stone, The King's Men circle and The Whispering Knights. The oddly shaped King Stone is said to have evolved because of shepherds chipping off pieces to keep the Devil away. Its name may possibly relate to its use as a marker for a Saxon cemetery. The ceremonial King's Men circle has an indeterminate number of stones that may have once formed a solid ring but over milennia stones have been taken for local building projects leaving large gaps. The earliest stones, The Whispering Knights was an intimidating burial chamber before stones were removed, human bones from the site have been dated to c. 1700 BC.

The Stones take their name from a legend. A king leading his army over the Cotswolds was confronted by a local witch, "Seven long strides shalt thou take and if Long Compton thou canst see, King of England thou shalt be". As the king took his seventh stride up the hill, he saw the village and became king of England, unfortunately he turned into The King Stone and his army became The King's Men circle. The witch was said to have become an elder tree which still exists in the hedge; should its boughs be cut, the stones will come back to life.