Long Compton and The Rollright Stones
Long Compton is a small village set in a delightful area of the Cotswolds, north-west of Chipping Norton, consisting of stone built and thatched cottages. Accommodation and meals are provided at the only pub, The Red Lion. Until as late as the 19th century, locals believed in witchcraft and there was a murder in 1875, when a man suffering from constant leg pain, killed a woman he believed to be a witch who was causing his pains.
The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, which dates from the 13th century, has an unusual Lych Gate. It was built about 1600, originally as the end cottage of a row of cottages, which was eventually opened on the ground floor to form the entrance to the church and churchyard. In the 1920s, the adjoining cottages had fallen into disrepair and were pulled down, leaving the Lych Gate standing alone. A local resident, George Latham, restored the building. In 1964, when he died, his wife gave the Lych Gate to the church in his memory. It is now used by the Compton District History Society. It is a Grade II listed building, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, who paid for the Lych Gate to be re-thatched in 2010.
Just south of the village is a group of large natural boulders forming a prehistoric megalithic monument, known as The Rollright Stones. In total, there are over 100 of these naturally pitted stones in various shapes, but there are three main features, The King Stone, The King's Men and The Whispering Knights. Legend has it that a King and his army, when approaching Long Compton, were confronted by a witch, who turned them to stone to prevent the King becoming King of England. The King Stone is a large single standing stone, probably erected to mark a bronze age cemetery about 1500 BC. A stone burial chamber lies under the grass, next to the King Stone and at least one other burial mound was nearby. In the 19th century, visitors chipped off the large notch on the eastern side of the Stone. It is now a protected ancient monument, with railings round it.
Across the road is a ring of very pitted stones, 30 metres in diameter, known as the King's Men Stone Circle. At one time, the stones formed a complete circular wall, when it was built about 2000 BC. Some of the lichens growing on the stones are thought to be 800 years old.
The Whispering Knights consist of two massive stones, either side of a closing slab, with a leaning stone at the back of the chamber. The capstone has fallen down from its original position on top of the uprights, of which there would have been several. These are the remains of a burial chamber for several Ancient Britons, probably built about 3000 BC.