The Rollright Stones
by Ben Johnson
The legend behind the Rollright Stones in the Cotswolds centres around an Iron Age king who one day set out with his army to conquer the whole of England.
Whilst marching through the Cotswolds and over Rollright Hill, the king met a witch who told him that if he could see the local village of Long Compton after seven strides then she would make him King of England.
Above: The Rollright Stones: Whispering Knights
Knowing that Long Compton was just over the brow of the hill, the king – full of hubris and confidence – strode forward to claim his prize. Quite by his surprise though a mound rose up directly in front of him, and the witch exclaimed:
“Rise up stick, and stand still stone,
For King of England thou shalt be none;
As Long Compton thou ne’er didst see
Thou and thy men hoar stones shall be”
True to her promise, the witch instantly turned both the king and his men into the standing stones that can still be seen to this day! The mound, although reduced in height by centuries of ploughing, is also still in situ.
If visiting the site, the King’s Stone can be immediately identified as it stands isolated, whilst his soldiers are in a nearby circle called The King’s Men (pictured below). There are rumoured to be 72 stones in the King’s Men circle, but legend dictates that ‘no one shall live who counts the stones three times and finds the number the same’. What a delightful old witch she must have been!
The Rollright Stones are now in the care of English Heritage.
The Rollright Stones are off an unclassified road between the A44 and A3400, approximately 3 miles north of Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire. The nearest railway station is Moreton-in-Marsh 6½ miles, please try our UK Travel Guide for further information.
Above: The Rollright Stones: King’s Men
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