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The Rollright Stones

The Rollright Stones are an early Bronze Age stone circle consisting of around 70 weathered stones, the ring is 100 feet in diameter and none of the stones are over 4 feet in height.

Legend suggests that a king and his knights were marching to war, a witch made a prophecy that if the king took seven strides and could see Long Compton, he would be the king of England. The king made seven strides and found he could not see the town, the promptly witch turned them all to stone, and turned her self into an Elder tree. The kings men are the stone circle, the Kings Stone is the king and the Whispering Knights are knights who were plotting against the king.

The Witch
Seven long strides shalt thou take,
If Long Compton thou can'st see,
King of England thou shalt be.

The King
Stick Stock Stone,
As King of England I shall be known,

The Witch
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. In tradition nobody can count the stones, anybody who tries is supposed to arrive at a different number each time. Bad luck is supposed to fall all those who move the stones.

According to one story, a local farmer fancied one of the Whispering Knights to build into his barn. He yoked up the stone with three of his best oxen and his best cart. There was a tremendous struggle to get the stone into the cart, finally he managed it and set off downhill to his farm.

After a long ponderous journey they reached the farm, whereupon all three of the oxen dropped dead and the cart fell to pieces. He built the stone into his wall and from that day on had nothing but ill fortune. He had to sell the house, his land and his stock, and finally he was left only with a shaky horse and a rickety cart.

He decided that his ill fortune stemmed from the Whispering Knight and decided to replace it. The stone went into the cart with ease and the old horse walked up the hill as if there was nothing in the cart. Once the stone was back in place the farmer returned to his former wealth and had no more problems.

The stones are situated about two and a half miles from Chipping Norton.

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Ian Topham
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Re: The Rollright Stones

English Fairy and Other Folk Tales by Edwin Sidney Hartland [1890]

NOT far from the borders of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, and within the latter county, is the pretty village of Rollright, and near the village, up a hill, stands a circle of small stones, and one larger stone, such as our Celtic antiquaries say were raised by the Druids. As soon as the Druids left them, the fairies, who never failed to take possession of their deserted shrines, seemed to have had an especial care over these stones, and any one who ventures to meddle with them Is sure to meet with some very great misfortune. The old people of the village, however, who generally know most about these matters, say the stones were once a king and his knights, who were going to make war on the king of England; and they assert that, according to old prophecies, had they ever reached Long Compton, the king of England must inevitably have been dethroned, and this king would have reigned in his place, but when they came to the village of Rollright they were suddenly turned into stones in the place where they now stand. Be this as it may, there was once a farmer in the village who wanted a large stone to put in a particular position in an outhouse he was building in his farmyard, and he thought that one of the old knights would be just the thing for him. In spite of all the warnings of his neighbours he determined to have the stone he wanted, and he put four horses to his best waggon and proceeded up the hill. With much labour he succeeded in getting the stone into his waggon, and though the road lay down bill, it was so heavy that his waggon was broken and his horses were killed by the labour of drawing it home. Nothing daunted by all these mishaps, the farmer raised the stone to the place it was to occupy in his new building. From this moment everything went wrong with him, his crops failed year after year, his cattle died one after another, he was obliged to mortgage his land and to sell his waggons and horses, till at last he had left only one poor broken-down horse which nobody would buy, and one old crazy cart. Suddenly the thought came into his head that all his misfortunes might be owing to the identical stone which be had brought from the circle at the top of the hill. He thought he would try to get it back again, and his only horse was put to the cart. To his surprise he got the stone down and lifted it into the cart with very little trouble, and, as soon as it was in, the horse, which could scarcely bear along its own limbs, now drew it up the hill of its own accord with as little trouble as another horse would draw an empty cart on level ground, until it came to the very spot where the stone had formerly stood beside its companions. The stone was soon in its place, and the horse and cart returned borne, and from that moment the farmer's affairs began to improve, till in a short time he was a richer and more substantial man than he had ever been before.



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