Saturday, June 04, 2011

Travelling through Oxfordshire: Rollright Stone Circle

We left Stratford-upon-Avon after a nice English breakfast and some tea (with soymilk! yippee!) and headed for Reading. Luckily for me and unfortunately for P and C Oxfordshire is very rich in archaeological sites. In case you are not that interested in those beautiful monuments, just lean back and watch the surrounding landscape. Well, not much landscape in this photo of the King Stone, but a nice story about it. An ambitious chieftain wanted to become King of England but instead was transformed into a stone figure by a witch. So I present you the 'nearly King':

These stones are his men, today called the Rollright Stones:

You can still recognize human features, now can't you?

Three treacherous knights who wanted to plot against their chieftain stayed behind and were whispering to themselves, but the witch saw them and turned them into stone, too:

In reality it is a portal dolmen, a Neolithic tomb, called The Whispering Knights

This area is not only famous among archaeologists, it is very alive in the memory of the British people. The English rock band Traffic wrote a song in 1973 about the rock circle, tellingly called The Roll Right Stones. You can listen to it for more than 11 minutes (in case you have really nothing else to do and are nearly bored to death) here. But the lyrics are quite nice. Not a brainer, but still ... 

"Went to see a standing stone
Some in circles, some alone
Ancient, worn, and weather torn
They chill me to the very bone
Cause everybody is going insane
The only, the only thing that will sustain are the Roll Right Stones."
The stones also featured in a children's book by  Penelope Lively, The Whispering Knights. And fans of the 4th Dr. Who (Tom Baker) can enjoy a whole episode of Dr. Who and the gruesome secrets of the stone circle; the episode is called The Stones of Blood. The first ten minutes are here. Note that the series is not accurate in the depiction of the circle. There is no inner circle with lintel stones like in Stone Henge. I like the part where K9 takes everything so literally.

PS I have a correction to make. Since the King Stone is separated from the Rollright Circle by a street which itself separates Oxforshire from Warwickshire, the King Stone lies in Warwickshire and only the Rollright Circle and the Whispering Knights are actually in Oxfordshire.


  1. Awesome pictures. I love to visit places like these. Hope I can do one day.

  2. @amd: Thank you :) I very much hope you can do so in the future!