The Rollright Stones
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: What really makes the Rollright Stones fascinating are the legends associated with the site.
The Rollright Stones are not spectacular, in the manner of Stonehenge, or Avebury, but that also means they are not thronged with tourists, as those better-known circles can be. Situated atop a limestone ridge just north of Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, this ancient site is not a single circle, but three separate groups of stones.
The main circle is in a small clearing just behind a belt of trees atop the ridge. The circle measures about one hundred feet across, and the stones themselves are fairly small, ranging from several inches high to almost 9 feet. Perhaps because of the secluded location, the circle has an atmosphere of quiet mystery. The circle is also known as the King's Men.
Just across the road, which divides Oxfordshire from Warwickshire, from the main circle, a little climb over a stile brings you to a solitary standing stone of larger size known as the King Stone.
A few hundred yards further along the road, follow a path along the edge of a farmer's field to a group of large stones leaning crazily together. Originally a turf-clad burial chamber, this group of stones is known as the Whispering Knights.
The story goes that a king of ancient England was marching along the ridge with his men (the main circle). They stopped to rest, and while the king (the King Stone) surveyed the way ahead, a group of knights went aside to plot against the king and were immediately turned to stone.
Another legend goes that while the king was surveying the scene he met a local witch. The witch made a bargain with him, saying,
"Seven long strides shalt thou take, If Long Compton thou canst see, King of England thou shalt be." The king, thinking this an easy bargain, replied, "Stick, stock, stone, as King of England I shall be known."
The king took his allotted seven strides, but his view was blocked by the mound known locally as The Archdruids Barrow. The witch triumphantly announced,
"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 shall be, and myself an eldern tree"
Whereupon the king and his men became stones, and the witch turned into an elder tree. Moral: don't bargain with witches.
Located on a minor road just off the A34, signposted Little Compton. There is a small fee for entrance to the main circle, but the Whispering Knights and the King Stone can be seen for free. Free parking in a layby, but no toilet or food facilities.
About Rollright Stones
Address: Long Compton, near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, England
Attraction Type: Prehistoric Site
Location: 1 mile SE Long Compton, off the A3400
Website: Rollright Stones
Under private ownership
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Little Rollright, St Philip - 0.6 miles (Historic Church)
Long Compton, St Peter and St Paul - 1 miles (Historic Church)
Great Rollright, St Andrews - 1.9 miles (Historic Church)
Whichford, St Michael - 2.4 miles (Historic Church)
Chipping Norton, St Mary's Church - 2.4 miles (Historic Church)
Chastleton House - 3.2 miles (Historic House)
Adlestrop, St Mary Magdalene - 4.6 miles (Historic Church)
Swerford, St Mary's Church - 4.7 miles (Historic Church)
Nearest Accommodation to Rollright Stones: