Rollright Stones

A group of prehistoric of standing stones or megaliths located in the Cotsworlds in England. They are thought to be connected to pagan rituals and in popular legend with a witch. They are estimated to be older than Stonehenge, and are located between Chipping Norton and Long Compton. They stand on a high, windy ridge overlooking the latter. This area has a long history of witchcraft activities.

The legend of the stones is that once an unnamed Danish king and his army came to invade England. At Rollright they met a witch and the king sought her to use her supernatural vision to foretell whether he would conquer England. The witch told him, if he took seven strides to the top of the ridge and could see the village of Long Compton below he would become king of England.

The king followed the witch’s instructions and took seven steps to the top of the ridge. When reaching his destination he found his view blocked by a barrow. Suddenly the witch cried:

Sink down man, and rise up stone!
King of England thou shalt be none.

Suddenly the king and all of his men turned to stone.

The king became the solitary King Stone. His men formed a cromlech, or circle, nearby and are called the King’s Men.

The witch intended to change herself into an elder tree, but before doing so she went back to four of the king’s knights who had lingered behind. They had been whispering and plotting the king. She also turned them into stone, and today they are called the Whispering Knights. Originally there were eleven King’s Men, but over time some have been broken. The cromlech measured 100 feet across.

The stones are believed to be of the Bronze Age . The Whispering Knights are thought to form some sort of a burial ground.

According to another legend at midnight the stones turn into men again. They join hands and dance around. Anyone unfortunate enough to see them goes insane or dies.

Later in the 18th. century village maidens on Midsummer’s Eve would go out by the Whispering Knights hoping to hear whispers of their future and fate. Until the middle of the 20th. century witches held meeting and sabbats at the Rollright Stones. However, in 1945 a sacrificial killing was supposed to have occurred there. Soon the local people became suspicious of the meetings being held there, and finally in 1949 the witches were forced to meet elsewhere.

An interesting note is that a person practicing psychometry investigated the Rollright Stones and claimed to have found important information of ancient pagan rituals once practiced there. A.G.H.

Sources: 429.