Banburyshire Rambles Photo-Journal

Paul Mobbs’ photographic record of his walks around ‘Banburyshire’ and ‘The Irondowns’, and occasionally, as part of his work around Britain, the areas beyond.

Banburyshire’s Ancient Sites:
The Rollright Stones –
The Whispering Knights

Across the field from the stone 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.

Summary for ‘The Whispering Knights’:

Location: Rollright, Oxfordshire

Type: ‘Standing Stones & Circles’.

Condition: Restored Neolithic dolmen.

Access: Site owned by a private trust; you can leave a donation at the main site across the field.

OS Grid Ref.: SP299308

Further information: Rollright Stones Trust.

Walks posts for site:
    • Betwixt the Nortons.

This is the earliest part of The Rollright Stones complex. The Whispering Knights are the remains of a burial chamber constructed 5,500 to 6,000 years ago. If walking to the site from Great Rollright, it’s the first part of the site you reach, with views to the stone circle beyond.

The Rollright Stones, The Whispering Knights dolmen
The Whispering Knights dolmen, 14th March 2019
Landscape image, ‘The Rollright Stones, The Knights and Over Norton hill beyond’
The Knights, and Over Norton hill beyond, 14th March 2019
The Rollright Stones, The Whispering Knights, a closeup of the ancient stones
Closeup of the ancient stones, 14th March 2019

The Hoar Stone a few miles south of here was a very similar monument to this. A portal dolmen, like those seen in West Wales or Cornwall, where upright stones supported a large slab above.

If this site is a little more erect and tidy than The Hoar Stone, it is because it was ‘restored’ by Victorian antiquarians in the late Nineteenth Century, and the railings put around the stones in 1894.

The monument was erected by Beaker People, who founded many of the Neolithic sites across Britain, as part of the pan-European culture that arose alongside settled agriculture. It is estimated that the site was built around 5,800 years ago. The monument was used over many centuries, and artefacts from this site have been dated to 3,700 years ago.

Though it doesn’t have the strange, ethereal atmosphere of The Hoar Stone, and though it doesn’t have the more wild, natural character of Lyneham Long Barrow, I think this is my favourite of the three parts of The Rollright Stones.

Here you get the feeling that whoever made this site appreciated the view over the landscape. At that time this area would have just been cleared of trees by the first farmers, opening-up the view across the valley beyond, much as we see it today.

Too many people visit The Rollright Stones without taking the time to walk the short distance to this location. Made all the easier now that The Rollright Trust have installed a more permanent hard surface to walk upon, linking it to the stone circle site. Whatever the weather, it’s well worth the effort. If you walk here across the fields from the Rollrights, though, meeting this monument really gives a sense of having ‘arrived’, as would have been the case millennia ago.