Rollright Stones

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Rollright Stones, Oxfordshire. Courtesy Janet and Colin Bord/Fortean Picture Library.

Rollright Stones

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Located in Oxfordshire, England, three miles northwest of Chipping Norton, according to local legend the Rollright Stones were originally an invading Danish king and his army. They were turned to stone by a local witch who, in turn, changed herself into an elder tree. The story goes that the king, encountering the witch, asked if he would become king of England. She replied that if he took seven strides to the top of the ridge and was then able to see the village of Compton, he would indeed become king. The king did so but found his view obstructed by an ancient burial mound. The witch then cried out, "Sink down man and rise up stone, King of England thou shalt be none." At that, the king and his knights were all turned to stone. A second group of knights, who followed at a distance, were actually whispering together, plotting against the king. These, too, were turned to stone by the witch, becoming the Whispering Knights.

The site is made up of an eight-foot standing stone known as the King's Stone, a circle of stones known as the King's Men, and a burial chamber comprised of five stones known as the Whispering Knights. It is said that the number of King's Men stones cannot be counted. Legend also has it that, on New Year's Eve, these stones go down to a nearby stream to drink.

It is said that the largest of the King's Men stones was once temporarily removed to be used as a footbridge over a stream, but the person who took it was unable to rest until he returned it to its original place. Pieces of the King's Stone used to be chipped off to be kept as protective charms, especially for soldiers going into battle.

Until 1949 the Rollright Stones were used as a meeting site for modern-day

Wiccans, but intrusion by outsiders deterred them and they discontinued such use.