Neolithic / Bronze Age - Stone Circle / Standing Stone and Tomb
Great and Little Rollright, Oxfordshire OS Map Ref SP295309
OS Maps - Landranger 151 (Stratford-upon-Avon), Explorer 191 (Banbury, Bicester & Chipping Norton)
Looking southwest to the King's Men circle, Rollright. June 1992
consists of 3 main sites standing on the Warwickshire / Oxfordshire border which
are thought to date from as early as 3800BC to as late as 1500BC - The King's
Men, the King Stone and the Whispering Knights.
77 stones in a small 31 metre stone circle of heavily weathered and eroded limestone with possibly an entrance to the north. This is the only circle in this area and although attractive, has always appeared to me to have some kind of sinister aspect to it. It is believed to date from the late Neolithic to early Bronze Age period of 2500-2000BC.
This 2.5 metre stone stands on the other side of the road to the north in Warwickshire and may have originally been either an outlier for the circle or a marker for a Bronze Age cairn and round barrow that stand nearby to the northeast. It seems probable that the King Stone is the youngest of the monuments at Rollright.
A burial chamber in a farmers field to the SE of the circle with 4 remaining uprights and a fallen capstone. It would once have been covered by a stone and rubble cairn, traces of which were found during excavations in the 1980's. This is the oldest monument at the site with a suggested construction date of 3800-3000BC.
There are many legends attached to this site, one local tale claims that it is a king and his army turned to stone by a witch. Sybil Marshall recounts the tale in her book 'English Folk Tales', thus -
A local king was travelling across Oxfordshire with his 5 knights and soldiers. Suddenly he was challenged by an old woman who asked of his business, to which he replied 'To conquer England , and rule it as one kingdom'. To this she said -
'Seven long strides more take thee,
And if Long Compton thou canst see,
King of all England thou shalt be'
The king replied to her challenge:
'Stick, stock and stone,
As King of England I shall be known'
In doing so, he took 7 mighty strides, but found his view obscured by a mound of earth, the witch now crying aloud-
Long Compton thou canst not see,
The largest stone in the circle
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