The Rollright Stones, Oxfordshire is a megalithic stone circle actually made up of three elements, the King Stone, King’s Men and the Whispering Knights. Over the years, it’s been at the centre of plenty of mysteries and even now there seems no consensus on its origins.
1. It is said that if you walk round the Rollright Stones three times, you’ll never count the same number each time. But if you do manage it – you’re entitled to one wish.
2. The name “Rollright” is believed to derive from “Hrolla-landriht”, the land of Hrolla.
3. In 1743, local women believed they could help fertility and would touch the King Stone in particular with their breasts!
4. In 1962 a young farmer driving a tractor saw a white pillar of light hovering 15ft in the air before gradually disappearing, so frighten he sped home through 3 gates. This incident only added to the theory that the circle was a calling card for extra-terrestrial beings who shared esoterica knowledge with our ancestors, which was generally forgotten over the centuries.
5. The stones are perfectly aligned in a North – South Ley (ancient track ways lining up historic sites) with the Uffington White Horse.
6. The Whispering Knights is over 5000 years old and is believed to be part of a Neolithic long barrow (burial chamber). They got there name by the conspiratorial way they lean in against each other.
7. The strange shape of the King’s Stone has nothing to do with weathering but the Victorian’s habit of chipping off small piece for lucky charms!
8. The classic 1978 Dr Who episode – ‘The Stones of Blood’ was filmed at the Rollright Stones. Tom Baker’s Doctor faces up to blood-sucking rocks roaming the English countryside – even the Doctor couldn’t count the same number of stones.
9. The traditional story of the Rollright Stones describes how an over ambitious King attempted to conquer all of England, when he got stopped my a witch – Mother Shipton of Shipton-under-Wychwood (a character that also inspired many of the characters at Wychwood Brewery). She challenged the King –
“Seven long strides shalt thou take And if Long Compton thou canst see, King of England thou shalt be.”
Off went the King, shouting –
“Stick, stock, stone As King of England I shall be known.”
On his seventh stride the ground rose up before him in a long mound sometimes known as the Arch-Druid’s barrow. The witch laughed and declared –
“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 I myself an eldern tree.”
And so it was that the King became the King Stone, his men the King’s Men Stone Circle, and his treacherous and conniving knights the Whispering Knights, although some say that the knights were actually at prayer.
10. Tradition has it that one day the spell will be broken. The King and his men will return to life and continue with their conquest of England.