Rollright Stones, Rollright

History Museum · Hidden Gem · Museum
The Rollright Stones are a complex of three Neolithic and Bronze Age megalithic monuments near the village of Long Compton, on the borders of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. Constructed from local oolitic limestone, the three monuments, now known as the King's Men and the Whispering Knights in Oxfordshire and the King Stone in Warwickshire, are distinct in their design and purpose. They were built at different periods in late prehistory. During the period when the three monuments were erected, there was a continuous tradition of ritual behaviour on sacred ground, from the 4th to the 2nd millennium BCE.
The first to be constructed was the Whispering Knights, a dolmen that dates to the Early or Middle Neolithic period. It was likely to have been used as a place of burial. This was followed by the King's Men, a stone circle that was constructed in the Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age; unusually, it has parallels to other circles located further north, in the Lake District, implying a trade-based or ritual connection. The third monument, the King Stone, is a single monolith. Although its construction has not been dated, the dominant theory amongst archaeologists is that it was a Bronze Age grave marker.

The British philologist Andrew Breeze has proposed that the name "Rollright" is from the Brittonic phrase *rodland rïx 'wheel enclosure groove', where *rïx 'groove' refers to a narrow valley near Great Rollright and *rodland 'wheel enclosure' refers to the King's Men circle. By the Early Modern period, folkloric stories had developed about the Stones, telling of how they had once been a king and his knights who had been turned to stone by a witch.

Such stories continued to be taught amongst local people well into the 19th century. Meanwhile, antiquarians such as William Camden, John Aubrey and William Stukeley had begun to take an interest in the monuments. Fuller archaeological investigations were undertaken in the 20th century, culminating in excavations run by George Lambrick in the 1980s.

In the 20th century, the stones became an important site for adherents of various forms of Contemporary Paganism, as well as for other esotericists, who hold magico-religious ceremonies there. They also began to be referred to more widely in popular culture, being featured in television, literature, music and art.
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Rollright Stones reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
377 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • Easy to imagine this place being used for ceremonies thousands of years ago. Really evocative, and luckily not crowded.  more »
  • The complex of monuments are nearby the road. Actually you can park your car almost outside monument’s area. The King’s Men monument is very mysterious and interesting on the same time as we don’t...  more »
Google
  • A magical, mystical place to visit. Looked after by English Heritage with their usual care the stones are wonderful to stroll by, photograph or sketch. The atmosphere is dark and brooding. Definitely well worth a visit especially on a day with dark clouds and the sun breaking through. 🌟🌟🌟
  • Absolutely incredible place. Amazing energy, beautiful spot. Use the toilet at the pub down the road, as there are no facilities. Otherwise, what an enchanted place. I could have stayed for days and days.
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