The Rollright Stones

On the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border stands a complex of stones known as The Rollright Stones. This site is made up of three different parts, distinct in design and purpose and built at different periods in what we call ‘late pre-history.’ The oldest of the three is the Whispering Knights, an early Neolithic dolmen, which is well named for its appearance; then, a stone circle, the King’s Men, late Neolithic or early Bronze Age, 108 ft in diameter with 77 closely spaced stones, originally probably touching each other to create a sacred precinct; and then the King’s Stone, a single monolith from the Bronze Age.

Both Aubrey and Stukely paid considerable attention to this site. By the 1980s it was under considerable pressure from ritual behaviour, what has been called magico-religious ceremony, involving pagan and witchcraft groups. The site was sold in 1997 and is now cared for by a Trust that tries to balance the different demands of modern pilgrimage. The Rollrights are definitely viewed as an important site, cropping up in 17th century verse: ‘Seven long strides thou shalt take, says she/And if Long Compton thou canst see/ King of England thou shalt be!’ This complex sits at the heart of England and is thus still central to Albion’s emergent patterning but it can be rather confusing with its overlay of 20th century visions, atmospheres and ritual.

Location: Off an unclassified road between A44 and A3400, 3 miles NW of Chipping Norton, near villages of Little Rollright and Long Compton.  Lay-by parking available.

Coordinates: 51° 58′ 31.92″ N1° 34′ 14.93″ W

Photo credit: Midnightblueowl, Wiki Images, Creative Commons Licence