Rollright Stones, Oxfordshire

Visit Rollright Stones, an intriguing Neolithic henge in the Cotswolds that is the subject of some lively local legends

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The Rollright Stones are a collection of megalithic monuments on the borders of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire dating to the Neolithic period. The earliest monument is a Neolithic burial chamber, thought to date to around 3500 BC, and the second is the main stone circle dated to 2500 BC. The king stone is a later Bronze Age monument which is believed to have been erected around 1500 BC. The meaning of the stone structures or their purposes remains unknown.

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The entrance today to the circle is opposite the tallest stone, marked by a straight pillar and a more circular shape (which some suggest symbolise the male and female form) and three marker stones outside the main circle. The earliest antiquarians’ drawings indicate that this tall stone and entrance ‘gate’ stand in their original place, suggesting that the tall stone may have been a focal point for whatever ceremonies took place within.

The stones in the circle also appear to have been graduated in height with the tallest at the opposite side to the entrance. Interestingly, the stones most closely share their distinctive design with stone circles found in the Lake District and east Ireland rather than those found in the south of England, hinting at links with groups on the northwest coast of England.

The stones are rather weather-worn and many were removed or rearranged during the 18th and 19th centuries. More recently the site has sadly fallen prey to acts of vandalism.

Much local legend and folklore surrounds the Rollright Stones, but whether or not you take an interest in the more imaginative stories surrounding the stones they offer a fascinating trip for readers interested in megalithic monuments.

Don’t miss: the smaller Neolithic circle in the adjoining field. The stones are named the Whispering Knights because they lean conspiratorially.

Megan Palmer

Information

Located two miles from the small town of Moreton-in-Marsh, ten miles from Chipping Norton. Parking is available a short distance from the stones, which are signposted.

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www.rollrightstones.co.uk