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Trust believes purchase will help protect Rollright Stones

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Ron Dudley, warden and trustee of the Rollright Stones
Ron Dudley, warden and trustee of the Rollright Stones

THE ancient Rollright Stones have now come under one ownership, further protecting the future conservation of the historic monument against any proposed bypass nearby the site, a suggestion which caused a recent outcry.

The Rollright Trust, already owns and manages the c. 5,800 years-old Whispering Knights burial chamber and c. 4,500 years-old King’s Men stone circle in Oxfordshire and has now finalised a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire the King Stone, the third of the monuments across the road in Warwickshire.

The move is expected to help protect the stones against the any proposals for a Chipping Norton bypass through the site.

The single standing stone is probably c. 3,600 years old, erected to mark an adjacent Bronze Age cemetery. About 2000 years later, the Stones were valued by Saxon people, perhaps as a formal meeting place with a substantial cemetery nearby.

The Stones take their names from a legend about a King and his followers who were turned to stone by a witch because he couldn’t see Long Compton, the village at the bottom of the hill. The view over the Warwickshire vale and beyond is one of the most celebrated in the Cotswolds and is an integral part of the historic interest and setting of the King Stone and a well-known public amenity.

There is currently no firm proposal to re-route heavy traffic along the small road which bisects the Rollright Stones site, but rumours that such a plan might be considered emerged from a recent Chipping Norton Town Council meeting prompting trustees of the historic monument to quickly mobilise support to protect the stones which were recorded as one of the ‘Wonders of Britain’ in the 12 century AD.

The Chairman of the Rollright Trust, George Lambrick said: “The Stones are a true gem of the Cotswolds. With all three monuments in our ownership we can enhance their overall management in the low key way that everyone loves and respects. We are immensely grateful to Nat le Roux and Nick Cavalla who helped found the Trust and enabled us to acquire the two Oxfordshire monuments, and to Nat for a further major donation which has provided the bedrock of this acquisition. In addition to creating the meadow, we will be doing archaeological surveys to find out more about the site, enhancing our education work, and improving visitor information, including a ‘toposcope’ guide to the view. We will also have greater flexibility in managing events and access arrangements. The work starts now.”

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