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 Location: Oxfordshire, England. (O/S SP 2930).  Grid Reference: 51° 58′ 20″ N, 1° 34′ 19″ W.

 

      The Rollrights: (Stone Circle).Rollright stone circle-Oxfordshire England

The site consists of three separate monuments — a stone circle known as the 'King's Men', a cluster of four standing stones dubbed the 'Whispering Knights', (A probable long-barrow), and a single standing stone called the 'King's Stone' — that were built in different periods between 4000 and 1500 BC.

Situated on the border of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire

(Map with Location of site)

(1895 Site Plan)

 

 

   The Rollright's:  ('The King's Men')

This concentration of megaliths consists of a stone circle (The King's Men), a standing stone (The King Stone), 73m/239ft NE) and a burial chamber (The Whispering Knights, 357m/0.2mi ESE).  There are about 77 lumps of weathered limestone forming a 31.4m (103ft) near-perfect circle, some small enough to be almost lost in the short turf.

In 18th century, the antiquarian William Stukeley described this circle as The greatest Antiquity we have yet seen... corroded like worm-eaten wood by the harsh Jaws of Time. Early in the 17th century only 26 stones were standing; in 1882 there was a major re-erection of the remaining stones.

There is no other stone ring near the Rollright Stones, but the circle lies in an area of henges. Its name has nothing to do with any supernatural rotation of the stones, but it may derive from Hrolla-landriht as early spellings like Rollindricht suggest, the land belonging to Hrolla.

The "King's Men" is a stone circle that dates from about 2500-2000 BC. It is almost perfectly round and has a diameter of 104 ft (33 m). Originally, there may have been as many as 105 stones, but today there are 77 stones. Over a third of the stones were put back in place during the site's restoration in 1882.

Aubrey Burl called the Rollright's “seventy-seven stones, stumps and lumps of leprous limestone”. This number has altered considerably over the years - drawings from the tail-end of the 19th century, just before the Stones were scheduled under the 1882 Ancient Monuments Protection Act along with Stonehenge and Avebury, show about 25 stones in the Circle (see above). “In the year 1882 the proprietor of Little Rollright replaced all the fallen stones in their original foundation.”

The stones are of heavily-weathered local oolotic limestone: antiquarian William Stuckeley described them as being "corroded like worm-eaten wood, by the harsh Jaws of Time" that make for a "very noble, rustic, sight, and strike an odd terror upon the spectators, and admiration at the design of 'em".

The Whispering Knights are accessed by a well-maintained grassy path that leads around the outskirts of a private field. Here four stones stand upright in a tight cluster; a fifth, probably the capstone, has fallen. The stones are part of a portal dolmen-type burial chamber dating from about 4000-3500 BC, and originally projected out of a low, flat-topped platform that surrounded them. Dismembered bodies were placed in the chamber for burial. Human remains were place in the chamber for over a thousand years, well into the Bronze Age.

The King's Stone (right), is a large block of limestone about 2.5 m high. This is believed to have been a marker stone for an early Bronze Age cemetery and was erected between 1800-1500 BC. Several small cairns containing cremations were discovered around the stone. The stone's unusual shape is not original; it derives from early visitors chipping away pieces to take away as talismans or for healing purposes.

   

Chronology:-

The earliest monument is the Whispering Knights, which dates from as early as 4,000 BC. The stone circle was constructed around 2,500 BC and the single King's Stone was added about 1,800-1,500 BC.

 

The Desecration of the Rollright's (2004)

What was loosely called an April 1st 'prank'. - Yellow Gloss paint was found the next morning splattered across stones around the circle damaging around 70 stones; In some cases on both sides. The paint could still be seen clearly over two years later.

Still not sure how the clear-up operation cost so much (£250,000) - Someone got paid well for that job.

(Ref: Heritage action)

(Other examples of desecrated megaliths)

 

Myth and Legend:

According to a legend, the Rollright's Stones were once human beings: the army of a King. There are other legends, though; one is that the King's Men are uncountable. A baker who tried to ascertain their number by placing a loaf on top of every stone was not successful, because he did not have enough loaves. Another story tells that at midnight on New Year's Day the stones go downhill to drink at a spring in Little Rollright spinney.

The Whispering Knights are named for the conspiratorial way in which they lean in towards each other. Local legend has it that they were plotting against their king when they were turned into stone by a witch, along with the other monuments at the Rollright's. Another legend says that on New Year's Eve, at the tolling of the bells of Long Compton church, the stones go down to the valley to drink.

 

Archaeo-Astronomy:

The inclusion of 'portal-stones' opposite the tallest stone in the ring is suggestive of an astronomical association.

 

Alignments:

Lies on the border of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire.

The Rollright Ley: A ley line that extends for more than 16 miles from the Rollright Stones:

From Rollright, the ley passes through Madmarston Hill Camp, this was a hill fort that has evidence of late Roman activity it then goes on through Castle Bank Camp with its Iron age origins then to Wroxton All Saints Church (13th century church containing the tomb of Lord North one time Prime Minister)., Proceeding further the ley goes through Cropredy Bridge a site of a battle during the civil war 1644, It continues on to an Earthwork situated at Chipping Warden, this dates back to the Iron age and is known as Arbury Camp.

The diameter of the Rollright's is 31.4 meters (or 31.6m / 38 m.y.), an accurate expression of π times 10 meters. Given the 6/π relationship between the meter and the cubit, the diameter of the Rollright circle is also 60 ancient Egyptian cubits.

It is said that the Rollright's lie on the Eastern edge of a vast circle of ancient monuments lying on the Cotswolds landscape. This vast geometric design shares the same diameter as two other large circles found across the Marlborough landscape.

(More about English Geodesy).

 

(Stone Circles)

(Other Prehistoric English sites)

References:

1). L. V. Grinsell. The Archaeology of Wessex. 1958. Taylor and Francis.
2). http://www.rollrightstones.co.uk/index.php/stones/
3). http://www.kch42.dial.pipex.com/cotswold.htm
 

 

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