Strangely enough this was my favourite part of the Rollright complex. I don't know why but I find tombs particularly interesting. Part collapsed but still very intriguing. Only a short flat walk from the stone circle and very much worth a look.
The Whispering Knights (The Rollright Stones) -25.10.2003
If you visit the King's Men please set aside a bit of time so you can visit the remains of this burial chamber, which really do live up to their nickname. Can be spotted from the King's Men, so you can hardly get lost. As someone else mentioned, just walk alone the main road (changing counties if you cross the road!) until the end of the field in which the Whispering Knights stand. A battered old green farm gate greats you, from where you can easily walk down the side of the field, slowing going downhill with the view in front of you getting more impressive. The stones are very large and if the railings weren't there we'd be able to get the full in yer face effect.
Well! This was a most memorable visit, and one I shall recall fondly. The Whispering Knights looked lovely in the open field – get rid of those sodding railings, and they would look stunning – and we started discussing the size and position of their erstwhile barrow. It would have been so impressive. I think the charming Cloudhigh was very taken with it indeed.
As we soaked up the views, and tried to rebuild the structure in our minds, conversation turned to the radiant Lissy’s professional talents as a voice over artist.
“Ever done the Shipping Forecast?” asked the delightful Jane.
“Oh, you mean ‘South Utsire, North Utsire’,” replied Lissy unwittingly, in her husky tones. It was too much for me.
“Oh *please*,” I implored her eagerly (several times, I might add), “Say ‘This is the Shipping Forecast issued by the Met Office at 14:00 on Sunday March 23’ . . . “
Lissy merely roared with laughter at my warped excitability; but eventually, sat in glorious sunshine beneath a beautiful portal dolmen at the furthest point from the sea anywhere in the country, the skylarks were briefly in competition with a mellifluous and husky voice –
On the way to Lyneham Longbarrow, Karen, Fiona and I stopped off at the Rollright Stones, but unfortunately were unable to get in, as there were rehearsals taking place for the ‘Lords and Ladies’ play. No matter, we decided to head off to the Whispering Knights.
I’m particularly fond of this site; don’t know why, just love it. The last time I visited was back in June, along with Jane, Andy, Karen, James, Louis and my enchanting sister, Deborah, on a fun day out. Then, the English summer was doing its usual crappy thing, and we hadn’t been there long before the first rain drops fell, necessitating a decampment to The George at Lower Brailes.
This time, however, we were treated to a little break in the clouds and a glimpse of blue sky, which meant we could really spend some time in the rolling wheat field that is home to the Knights. They stand at the edge of the field, lonely sentinels gazing towards Chipping Norton across an undulating north Oxfordshire valley. The stones looked lovely with lush growths of broad-leaved coltsfoot springing up from their bases, and next to them, occasional clumps of creeping thistle nodding in the breeze. Pock-marked by erosion, it was possible to see many mournful faces in the stones, and I loved the contrast of yellow wheat, green hawthorns, and blue sky.
Naturally, I was shooting in B/W!
How I *wish* though, that a ring of spiky metal railings didn’t have to encircle these magnificent megaliths. The bewitching Fiona was of the same mind, as it was clear she was yearning to feel the heart of the stones and commune with them. The lovely Karen was equally unimpressed, and we spent much time trying to photograph the stones’ essence without including their black corral. Karen got a corking view, including blue sky and white clouds, which was a bit good, all things considered. Not sure whether I captured them as I wanted to, despite sitting on a remarkably thorny thistle and kneeling in peculiar dampness in my efforts to do so . . . .
Being a local site for me, I have visited here often. But I visited here in early June with a bunch of friends who had NOT seen it before, (two of whom I was trying to 'introduce' to each other :-) By some simple twist of fate, although we had come up to see the King's Men, there was a private handfasting going on in the circle, so we drifted down to the Whispering knights to check it out. The corn was high and rain threatened but to see the wedding going on in the distance made the Whispering Knights seem like an acceptable distance to stand without intruding.
This must have been a mighty, mighty place at one time - if this ever had a capstone, I can hardly begin to imagine how big it must have been.
By the way, the two who were 'introduced' are now seeing each other.... a magic place indeed.
Trapped within a fence, but still with a clear view to the rollrights nearby, these stones really grabbed me. The trees and hedges around hinder the view of the whole complex but I found I was able to imagine the psychology behind this place.
I found these beings far more magical than the Rollright Stones when I visited in summer 2001...you can view them without having to walk on plastic mesh & without the knowledge that some warden is watching you from a hut!
Enclosed by an iron fence on the edge of an otherwise unassuming cornfield they make lonely but inspiring figures. Turn up on a summer evening, sit down & put 'In the Wake of Poseidon' by King Crimson on yer discman. Magic!
..the dolmen has become to the young girls of the neighbourhood a kind of primitive oracle. At least it has been so used within the memory of man. Old Betsy Hughes.. informed me that years ago, at the time of the barley harvest, when they were often out till dusk in the fields near the "Whispering Knights," one of the girls would say to another, "Let us go and hear them whisper." Then they would go to the stones, and one at a time would put her ear to one of the crevices. But "first one would laugh and then another," and she herself never heard any whispering.
Another old crone told me that the stones were thought to tell of the future. "When I was a girl we used to go up at certain seasons to the 'Whispering Knights' and climb up on to one of the stones to hear them whisper. Time and again I have heard them whisper - but perhaps, after all, it was only the wind."
From: The Rollright Stones and Their Folk-Lore, by Arthur J. Evans
Folklore, Vol. 6, No. 1. (Mar., 1895), p25 in pp. 6-53.
Dr Stukeley tells a tale of a repentant Vandal, who having carried off one of the biggest stones to help make a bridge, saw a vision - and, being smitten with remorse, returned the stone to its original group.
Yes, but what did he See? Leave out the interesting bit why don't you. Perhaps there's more in the original, if anyone knows it.
Quote from 'Our Ancient Monuments and the Land Around Them' by CP Kains-Jackson (1880).
The "Whispering Knights" are traitors who, when the King with his army hard by were about to engage with the enemy, withdrew themselves privily apart, and were plotting treason together, when they were turned into stone by the Witch. Some, however, say that they are at prayer. I was told that once upon a time the big flat stone (the capstone) was taken away to make a bridge across the brook at Little Rollright. It took a score of horses to drag it down the hill, for at first it would not move, and they had to strain and strain to get it along till every bit of the harness was broken. At last they got it to the brook by Rollright Farm, and with great difficulty laid it across to serve as a bridge. Butevery night the stone turned over back again and was found in the morning lying on the grass. So when this had happened three nights running they saw that the stone must be taken back to whence it came. This time they set a single horse to it, and the single horse took it up the hill quite easily, though it had taken twenty times that number to drag it down, and that they could hardly doWith regard to this tale, I found generally the most absolute belief among the country people, one man going so far as to say that there were those now living who had spoken to men who had helped to bring the stone down and up again, and "that it was done in Farmer Baker's day, who was not so very long dead."
From: The Rollright Stones and Their Folk-Lore
Arthur J. Evans
Folklore, Vol. 6, No. 1. (Mar., 1895), p25 in pp. 6-53.