Yesterday morning started with a dash to my local crystal shop. I was running late as my parking angel had been otherwise engaged and I had had to circle the high street twice before a parking place became free. I had words!
I pushed hard on the slightly stiff shop door and the bell rang out a warning of my arrival. I thought I’d come straight to the point, ‘Do you have any dowsing rods?’ I asked still holding onto the door.
The lady behind the counter didn’t. I tried not to allow my surprise to appear as a negative comment on her stock choices. I explained that I was off to the Rollright Stones and hadn’t been able to find my own dowsing rods and had thought it would be interesting to have some with me. I think I hoped this additional information would somehow soften her heart and she would open a secret drawer behind the counter and hand over a pair of contraband dowsing rods. It was not to be. She offered me a pendulum. I didn’t want one. I have several of those at home already. I thanked her and the bell rang again as I left pulling the stiff door behind me and hoping she didn’t think the forcefulness of my departure was in any way a reflection of my disappointment.
I wasn’t alone on my outing. My friend Nicola had agreed to come along too. Now Nicola is a poet and as such she knows stuff. Usually pretty impressive stuff and she can quote stuff too. So I wasn’t that surprised that on our way there she suddenly got very excited about a signpost for the village of Adlestrop. Turns out this village is mentioned in a poem by the poet Edward Thomas – well at least the station is. Being the free spirits we are we thought nothing of taking a detour to search out this station. Somehow we just knew that it was unlikely that the station still existed, especially as Edward Thomas mentions in his poem that even in his day nobody got on or off at that stop. But we were not to be deterred and were delighted to find that although the station was no more the station sign was. Nicola found the poem on her phone and recited it as we revelled in its Britishness. You can find it at Poem Hunter but interestingly they have a star system for judging poems and this one only got 3.5 out of 5, so you decide if it’s worth it.
We delighted our satnav by setting off again and returning to our previous route.
The Rollright Stones are found on the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border. Well, when I say found, it really helps to know where they are in order to find them and even then every time I go I end up driving up and down a country lane looking for the tell-tale layby which is really the only sign that you’ve arrived. Hidden behind a mature hedgerow a complex of three Neolithic and Bronze Age megalithic monuments ( I have no idea what any of that means, but I think it means they are old) can be found near the village of Long Compton. The site is managed by English Heritage. I suppose they cut the grass as there isn’t really anything much else to do there. There’s an honesty box that encourages you to donate £1 per adult, but it sounded sadly empty as my coins dropped in. No tea room, no gift shop, just a circle of stones.
Apparently they used to be a King and his courtiers and they were turned into stone by a Witch. Which King isn’t specified and I find that difficult to swallow. If a King went missing and you went looking for him and you found a circle of stones where he and his courtiers were last seen I think we’d have heard! Anyway I love the stones irrespective of their origin. The main circle is completely accessible. No fencing, nothing. You can touch them, walk round them and most importantly stand in the middle of them. The energy was palpable to us both, but we are a couple of old hippies. As we moved into the centre of the circle the sky directly above us cleared of the dark threatening clouds that had been following us thus far and I swear a beam of sunlight shone down on our upturned faces. Magical. It was a moment of knowing that the Universe acknowledged your presence. I’m sure Nicola will get a poem or two out of that.
You may be wondering just how many stones are involved. Well this is a very interesting question. Apparently if you count them three times and each time get the same number all your dreams will come true. Well that’s worth a bit of effort. So we started to circumnavigate the circle in tandem. As we got to the last stone I turned to Nicola and asked how many she had counted. 67 was her answer. Mine had been 76. You see the enormity of the problem? We decided not to go for the full three rounds. Total life fulfilment would have to wait. Feeling a bit spaced out we made our way to the Whispering Knight’s burial chamber which is a short walk away.
Several stones lean in towards each other as though whispering. One can only imagine what about. Probably about why they are fenced in. Across the road and incidentally in another county completely, is the last of the stones, the King Stone. He has a magnificent view. I tried to put the description, I had read somewhere, that this stone looked like a sea lion balancing a ball on its nose, out of my head. Very disrespectful. On one of the notice boards on the site it announced that at the weekend there is going to be an event at the stones where participants can enjoy an afternoon and evening of country crafts and ancient skills, music, dance, storytelling, dowsing (good luck with finding some rods) and astronomy. Bodging and besom making were mentioned amongst other things. I’m sure you don’t need to look up what they are, but they do sound very crafty and indeed ancient.
If you are interested, find out more, as they say, at The Rollright Stones. The event happens this weekend Saturday 13th June from 2.30pm – 10.30pm – but you do need to book in advance.