Free preview of our Stone Circles CD-ROM in the new Stone Circle Shop
Megalithic Mysteries - England Navigation:
Back ] Up ] Next ]

The King Stone

Standing Stone, Oxfordshire

View High Res Images

View High Res ImagesPhoto Julian Wates

OS Map: 151
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick & Banbury
Order this map from amazon.co.ukOS Map Preview
amazon.co.uk
bookshop.co.uk
(up to 20% off)
countrybookshop.co.uk
(up to 20% off, free UK P&P
OS Map ref: SP296308 View local map for SP296308
Nearest town: Chipping Norton View map of Chipping Norton
Nearest village: Long Compton View map of Long Compton

The King Stone is thought to have been erected around 1800 BCE. It stands some eight feet tall by a mound of earth, alleged centuries ago to be the remains of a prehistoric tomb, but which was only confirmed as such in the 1980s, when an old covering stone - said to be the entrance to faerie-land - was found to be the entrance to a tumulus, built around the same time as its attendant monolith.

Evans [1895] describes how the little people used to be seen emerging from the ground where the covering stone once lay. Similarly, witches were said to be here. Lambrick related the tale, told "by the [previous] owner ... which relates how a quarryman working in the old stone pit there dropped one of his tools down a crack in the rock and it disappeared, making a weird noise, stolen by the witches." The legend known to most is the stone's relationship with the King's Men circle and Whispering Knights, whereby the King, failed in his journey over land, about to take his final step to see the village of Long Compton and become king of England, was thwarted at the last when an old hag made the land rise up before him (the tumulus) and prevented him seeing the village, a mile away, in the valley below.

As such, for failing in his bet with the old crone, she turned him to stone. This old crone is said by some to have been Mother Shipton - not the historical witch of Yorkshire, but a less powerful character whose tomb lies ten miles south. But, like the tale of King Arthur, "some day the spell will be broken", wrote Lambrick [1988], and "the stones will turn to flesh and blood and the King will lead his army in battle to conquer his enemies and rule over the land".

One piece of lore tells that this spell is broken nightly at midnight; also, when a nearby elder tree (said to be the old witch) is cut. A similar piece of lore tells that when the midnight bell at Long Compton is heard, the King ventures to a well at Little Rollright Spinney for a drink. Folklore alleged the stone to possess healing and good- luck properties. As such, the appearance of the stone today differs considerably from the drawings done of it in previous centuries. Pieces of it were taken by soldiers, for protection, before going to World War 1.

Literary and oral accounts exist describing the failure of this for most men who took bits with them. Another piece of lore also tells how people would take bits off the King to protect themselves from the devil, A very curious ritual used to be performed at the King Stone by local people, whose nature is - if the tales are true - quite prodigious and incredibly ancient. The elder tree of the witch, cut on the eve of summer solstice, so that it bled, would make the King move his head, thus temporarily breaking the spell. Another tradition tells that young girls would visit the solitary stone, usually at night, and rub their breasts on the stone, so as to aid fertility.

Access: See above for map links

Text from The Old Stones of Rollright and District by Paul Bennett & Tom Wilson


Rating: General Impression 4, Ambience 3, Access 4

Do you agree with my description? Read visitors' comments on King Stone, or leave your own, and please visit our sponsors to support future development.


Megalithic Mysteries - England Navigation: Back ] Up ] Next ]

Back to the Home Page Megaliths in England Megaliths in Scotland
The Stone Circle Shop Megaliths in Wales Megaliths in Ireland
Recommended Books Audio Tours and Sound Discussion Board
Guest Book:
Sign / View
Search this site
Order or find out more
Price 20 ($30)
Order now
Stone Circles and Rows - a photographic tour on CD-ROM
Visit amazon.co.uk
Over 500 entries with photographs
Map based interface
Windows and Mac format
270 Hi-res images and maps available for personal use
Visit amazon.com

Free use of images:

The above photographs are Andy Burnham unless otherwise stated

You are free to use up to 20 of my photographs on your web site provided that:
1 - they are not images credited to another photographer
2 - you put a link to www.megalithic.co.uk and credit Andy Burnham near every image used

For images credited to other photographers please ask permission by contacting me for their e-mail address.
Using material in any other way without the author's permission is strictly forbidden.