The Rollright Stones: Prehistoric Oxfordshire

I’ve lived near the Rollright Stones for several years, but it was only when we passed a signpost to them near Chastleton House on Saturday that I finally visited these mysterious ancient stones. Having grown up near Salisbury Plain, I’d say I’m pretty used to prehistoric stone circles and burial mounds, but I must admit it came as a surprise to learn that there are Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments right here in the Cotswolds.

The Rollright Stones consists of three groups of stones, and it’s a voluntary donation of £1 in the unmanned moneybox at the entrance to get in. The first is this stone circle, which is called the King’s Men stone circle.

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This one is thought to have been constructed in the Late Neolithic or early Bronze Age, about 2500 – 2000 BC.

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There are 77 stones in this circle, and they’re oolitic limestone. It’s thought that the original number of stones was 105; many that are left today had fallen over, and were re-erected in 1882.

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A sign near the stone circle informed us that some of the lichen growing on the stones is thought to be between 400 and 800 years old.

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As you can see, the stones have lots of holes eroded into them.

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A walk around the perimeter of the field in which the stone circle lies takes you to another group of stones, known as the ‘Whispering Knights’, which are the earliest of the three groups on this site. This was a Neolithic burial chamber, constructed around 5,000 years ago.

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Apparently they’re called the ‘Whispering Knights’ because they look like men leaning conspiratorially towards each other, as if plotting against their king. It takes a bit of imagination to see this! At this point we were distracted by a little golden Labrador puppy (a Dogs for the Disabled trainee!), who came bounding up to greet us and jumped up at my leg with his muddy paws!

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The last of the three groups of stones is in fact a single monolith, and it can be found on the opposite side of the road. It’s uncertain how old this one is, but it’s suffered the most of all the stones because apparently 19th century drovers used to chip bits off to keep as lucky charms.

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You can find more information about the Rollright Stones here.

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