The Cotswolds only has one stone circle of note, but it’s a pretty good one, not to mention a sneaky beast. It’s one of three distinct ancient monuments on the side of the A3400 road between Shipston-on-Stour and Chipping Norton, near Long Compton. The monuments are believed to have been built at different times for different purposes. The names of the megaliths, the King’s Men, the Whispering Knights and the King Stone, derive from a legend explaining their origins. Long ago a band of soldiers met a witch. She told them that their leader might take seven long strides, and then ‘if Long Compton thou canst see, King of England thou shall be’. The aspiring monarch risked all, saw nothing and was, along with his followers, turned to stone. The Whispering Knights, clustered together off in their own tight circle, were traitors who planned to overthrow the king once he became ruler of all England. There’s a more banal origin story for the Stones too. The three monuments are said to date from 3000–2000 bc, during the Bronze Age. Scholars believe that there were originally 105 King’s Men, but there are now only 77, each 100 feet in diameter. The remaining 77 are mysteriously difficult to count. If you can count them three times in a row and get the same total, it’s said you will receive a wish. The Whispering Knights are believed to be all that remains of a Neolithic long barrow. The Stones are open to the public, but note that parking is limited.
Facilities – at a glance
Assist dogs allowed
- Parking nearby
- Open all year
- Opening Times: Open all year, any reasonable time during daylight hours by permission of the Rollright Trust
Also in the area
About the area
Located at the heart of England, Oxfordshire enjoys a rich heritage and surprisingly varied scenery. Its landscape encompasses open chalk downland and glorious beechwoods, picturesque rivers and attractive villages set in peaceful farmland. The countryside in the northwest of Oxfordshire seems isolated by comparison, more redolent of the north of England, with its broad views, undulating landscape and dry-stone walls. The sleepy backwaters of Abingdon, Wallingford, Wantage, Watlington and Witney reveal how Oxfordshire’s old towns evolved over the centuries, while Oxford’s imposing streets reflect the beauty and elegance of ‘that sweet city with her dreaming spires.’ Fans of the fictional sleuth Inspector Morse will recognise many Oxford landmarks described in the books and used in the television series.
The county demonstrates how the strong influence of humans has shaped this part of England over the centuries. The Romans built villas in the pretty river valleys that thread their way through Oxfordshire, the Saxons constructed royal palaces here, and the Normans left an impressive legacy of castles and churches. The philanthropic wool merchants made their mark too, and many of their fine buildings serve as a long-lasting testimony to what they did for the good of the local community.
Places to Stay
Restaurants and Pubs
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