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Banburyshire’s Ancient Sites:

List of Sites

Landscape image, ‘The Wroxton Fingerpost’
‘The Wroxton Fingerpost’

‘Banburyshire’s Ancient Sites’ is a guide to the standing stones, earthworks, historic features, and sacred sites, that are part of the landscape of North Oxfordshire and the surrounding hills. Each site has a dedicated page with descriptions, pictures, maps, and links to other sources of information. The following pages list these sites, grouped according to six general types:

Sites List: ‘Standing Stones, Circles, and Megaliths’

Landscape image for ‘Standing Stones, Circles, & Megaliths’
‘The Hawk Stone’, 20th March 2019

This page gives a list of the ‘Standing Stones, Circles, and Megaliths’ sites in the ‘Banburyshire Ancient Sites’ guide.

Some years ago now, the starting point of this guide was walking the standing stones of North Oxfordshire. While our local pre-history ‘megaliths’ represent a spectacular link to our past, walking the stones can give access to a wider range of sites which convey a far better impression of the ancient local landscape than just visiting the stones alone.

The ancient standing stone kerbs around Churchill Churchyard
Churchill Churchyard’s Megaliths

Churchill Churchyard is an emblem of late Georgian prejudice. Built in 1826 (replacing the more ancient Saxon church which stands further down the hill) the tower dominates the landscape. But in a deliberate act of cultural supremacy, the churchyard is surrounded by stones robbed from a stone circle that stood in nearby Sarsgrove Woods, re-purposed as kerbstones and retaining walls.

A solitary standing stone hidden in a hedgerow
Churchill Standing Stone

This is an ‘Anomalous Megalith’, unremarked, buried in a hedgerow next to a road, seemingly at risk of damage each time the hedge is flailed. Its origins are unclear, as is its current status – as it doesn’t appear on the register of scheduled monuments.

Landscape image, ‘The Hawk Stone’
The Hawk Stone

For me, if there is one site that has to be ‘top of the list’, this is it. The Hawk Stone is the site I love to return to. It’s not just the stone itself; it’s the way it interacts with the location, and the landscape it sits within. It’s a very ‘special’ place to pause and take a break, irrespective of weather or time of year.

‘The Hoar Stone’ shines in a shaft of sunlight
The Hoar Stone

The Hoar Stone is ‘elusive’: I've known of people trying to find it and walk right by; I've known of people happening to pass there and seeing it by accident; sometimes its bathed in an eerie green light; sometimes, when the sun catches it through the small gap in the trees, it shines.

‘Kiddington Wayside Cross’ stands by the side of a rural road
Kiddington Wayside Cross

A roadside cross, probably 15th Century, a reminder that over the years the road priorities have changed. It pre-dates the nearby Ditchley Park, and leaves Kiddington Hall at the bottom of the hill in its shade. With the coming of the Woodstock & Rollright turnpike around 1800 – what is now the A44 – this route was sidelined.

‘Lyneham Long Barrow Portal Stone’ stands alone in a field
Lyneham Long Barrow Portal Stone

A large portal stone stands alone in the field, the scrubby mound beyond shrouding the earthwork of the long-barrow structure, the stones and chamber robbed for stone over the centuries. A strange location, alone at the fingertip of a promontory of land jutting out into the Evenlode Valley.

Landscape image, ‘Rollright Stone Circle and the Whispering Knights’
The Rollright Stones

‘The Rollright Stones’ are not a single feature. It is made up of three distinct sites which span 1,500 years of history. Set within a landscape which gives views over a wide area, it sits upon The Cotswold Ridgeway, spanning England from east to west; and very near to The Jurassic Way, running from Lincolnshire to Stonehenge.

As the site represents three distinct phases, it is split into three separate pages:

Landscape image, The Rollright Stones, ‘The King’s Men’ stone circle
The King’s Men Circle

Frozen in their dance, ‘The King’s Men’ hold their circle amidst the trees. These ancient stones are almost certainly not arranged as they were laid out, though the location has lost none of its splendour.

Landscape image, The Rollright Stones, ‘The King Stone’ standing stone
The King Stone

Standing alone on the far side of the road, The King Stone enigmatically surveys the view, still unable to see Long Compton.

Landscape image, The Rollright Stones, ‘The Whispering Knights’ dolmen
The Whispering Knights

Across the field from the circle stand a small close group of stones; the knights ‘whispering’ their treachery against The King and his Men, cast out to the edge of the site.

Landscape image, ‘Sarsden Wayside Cross’ dolmen
Sarsden Wayside Cross

Seemingly a backwater today, Sarsden Cross sits at what a few centuries ago would have been a significant local crossroads. Probably restored from its original form, in keeping with the nearby 17th Century manor house, it still makes a lovely spot to sit and have a break after the climb up into Sarsden.

Landscape image, ‘Thor’s Stone and Taston Wayside Cross’
Thor’s Stone & Taston Wayside Cross

They are a strange pair: A large megalith protruding from a retaining wall; and a weathered, battered old stepped stone cross in the middle of the road. Millennia separate their construction, though in the modern-day both seem to be monuments from worlds unrelated to our own.

Banburyshire’s Ancient Sites: ‘The Wroxton Fingerpost’, image 1
‘The Wroxton Fingerpost’

Most people speed past it along the A422 Banbury to Stratford road. Even if they notice the monument, they may not realise what it is. When you get up close to ‘The Wroxton Fingerpost’, though, if you really think about it, it’s telling you a story which – in the modern context – seems to make no sense.