This week, Gary takes us the Rollright Stones… a place we know and love. The dog, or ‘IndieAni Bones‘ as she insisted on calling herself, wrote her own post about one of our visits… and I wrote about one strange and beautiful moment there too…
On the Warwickshire/Oxfordshire border are the prehistoric Rollright Stones. My grandmother who was born in the fairly nearby village of Cropredy first told us about them.
There are three main areas, the Kingstone, which is over the road in Warwickshire, a ring of stones and further away a collection of stones (actually the remains of a long barrow) known as the Whispering Knights.
It is said to be impossible to count the ring of stones and get the same number twice. I can vouch for that! One story is that a baker, on his rounds, counted out his rolls and put them on all of the stones. When he retrieved them, there were some missing.
One story about how they came to be was that a king and his army was trying to invade England (some say that it was Rollo the Dane). They were met by a witch who said that if the king could take seven strides to the top of the hill and see the village of Long Compton, then king of England he would be. So he did, but could not see Long Compton. So the witch did her patriotic duty, turning him and his army into stones. The ring of stones are said to be the army, the Whispering Knights, some plotting mutineers and the King Stone, the king.
Then she turned herself into an elder tree (which are associated with witchcraft). Others say that there are caves under the circle where the king and his army lie sleeping. On certain nights of the year the stones are said to go down to a brook in Little Rollright Spinney to drink. Children in nearby Long Compton were told that if they did not behave themselves, then the king and his men would carry them off!
The stones were tempting building materials. If anyone tried to remove any of them, it took a lot of horses to remove it, the stone would not stay in place and bad luck would follow! So they invariably got taken back. Then it would only take one horse with hardly any effort!
On St John’s Eve up until the nineteenth century, local people used to stand in a ring around the King Stone and cut a nearby elder tree. It was said that the elder tree would then bleed and the King Stone would bow his head! Although as far as anyone knows, no one ever saw this happen.
About the author
Gary Stocker graduated from Coventry Polytechnic in 1991 with a degree in combined engineering. He worked in civil engineering for nearly twenty years. For the last six years he has worked in materials science and currently works as a test engineer. His hobbies and interests include voluntary work, conservation work and blacksmithing. He is also interested in history, mythology and folklore and he says, “most things”.
How did your granny predict the weather? What did your great uncle Albert tell you about the little green men he saw in the woods that night? What strange creature stalks the woods in your area?
So many of these old stories are slipping away for want of being recorded. legendary creatures, odd bits of folklore, folk remedies and charms, and all the old stories that brought our landscape to life…
Tell me a story, share memories of the old ways that are being forgotten, share the folklore of your home. I am not looking for fiction with this feature, but for genuine bits of folklore, old wives tales, folk magic and local legends. Why not share what you know and preserve it for the future?
Email me at email@example.com and put ‘Living Lore’ in the subject line. All I need is your article, bio and links, along with any of your own images you would like me to include and I’ll do the rest.