The Rollright Stones

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  1. Ian Topham says:

    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.