Spirit of Summer - Rollright Stones
Have a bewitching tour of Rollright
A conquering king undone by greed or a religious artefact of days gone by, use our virtual tours to decide why the Rollright Stones are so mysterious.
We went to the Rollright Stones to bring you a virtual tour of the magical area.
The legend of the stones
Legend has it that many hundreds of years ago, a king from Europe and his soldiers were marching through the countryside close to the famous witching village of Long Compton in South Warwickshire.
As they continued their journey with the aim of conquering England, they happened across a mysterious old woman - who offered the king what seemed a simple challenge.
Said the hag to the king: "Seven long strides shalt though take, if Long Compton thou canst see, King of England thou shalt be!"
The king, anxious to know if his bid to conquer the country would see success, took her up on the task but, before he could complete his seven strides, his view of the village was suddenly blocked by a hill.
The witch was delighted and said: "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".
As she completed her verse, the king was turned to stone as were, in turn, his foot soldiers and the witch herself became a tree in a nearby hedgerow.
If the story is true, then that was the moment the Rollright stones came to be - but there are hundreds of other theories on the Neolithic stone arrangements, which span the Warwickshire - Oxfordshire border.
There are three main structures - a huge circle of stones known as the King’s Men, a smaller group of stones leaning together called the Whispering Knights and a solitary rock standing nearby, the King Stone.
The King Stone
The legend says the king was struck first and he stands alone, his soldiers became the circle of stones that are the King’s Men - all bar an errant group of plotters.
The Whispering Knights, which stand further back again, are said to be a group of soldiers the witch found standing away from the rest of the army, plotting against their leader and turned to stone on their own.
The stones are thought to be even older than Stonehenge. They have been standing since the Bronze Age and could date back to as early as 2500 BC.
Like Stonehenge, the stones are a place of great magic and mystery. Druids, astronomers and witches have gathered at the stones over the years for meetings and rituals, some of which continue today.
There are more sinister stories surrounding the stones and, indeed, the village of Long Compton and the areas around.
The body of Ann Turner was discovered in the village in 1875. A pitchfork lunged through her throat had pinned her to the ground and a bloody crucifix had been carved into her face and chest - a ritual rumoured to be the only way to ensure a dead witch could not rise from the dead.
Local farmer James Heywood was arrested for the murder after he had been heard blaming her for poor crops and for the death of his father, who went to the grave early through hard work and toil. He was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty.
The murder of Ann Turner was linked to the murder of Charles Walton at nearby Meon Hill, Lower Quinton. His body too was discovered mutilated with the carved cross and with a pitchfork through his fault - the sign of the witch. For more details, follow the link on the left.
The stones today
These tales, however, are thankfully at odds with the Rollright of today. The stones are known as a place of healing and peace. Strange energies have been found around the stones, particularly in the circle of the King’s Men.
Whatever you believe, the fields containing the stones are undoubtedly a place of tranquillity. Though be careful.
Legend has it that it is almost impossible to count how many stones stand in the circle of the Kings Men. Most people who count once and then count again reach a different number each time.
However, if you count the stones three times and get the same number each time, legend has it that tragedy will befall you!
However, some believe you will be granted a wish if you manage the same number three times.
It’s believed there are more than 70 stones in total.
Why not take our word for it?!
last updated: 18/04/2008 at 14:59