The Rollright Stones, whose name might derive from Hrolla-landriht, 'the land with special local rights belonging to Rolla" stand upon a high ridge. They consist of a menhir or single standing stone known as the 'King Stone,' approximately eighty yards to the south-west is a stone circle, 108 feet in diameter, known as the 'Kings Men' and almost a quarter of a mile to the east of that circle is the denuded dolmen called the 'Whispering Knights;' in which was once found a human jawbone. Not only are this group of stones bound together by antiquity and location but also by mystery and lore:
Long, long ago in the field where the stone circle now squats once stood a local King and his army. The King was approached by a hag, by a witch of dubious reputation, ahe addressed the King thusly: "seven long strides shalt thou take. If Long Compton thou canst see, King of England thou shalt be."
The King, with a strong desire to be King of all England rose to the challenge and declared, " Stick, stock, stone, as King of England I shall be known." And with that he set of counting seven long strides towards the village of Long Compton. As the King counted out loud "seven" he looked up only to find that an ancient mound, known as the Archdruid's Barrow, obscured his view of the village and no matter if he stood upon the tips of his toes not one building, hut or chimney could he see.
Cawing with delight the witch cried, "as Long Compton thou canst not see, King of England thou shalt not be. Rise up, stick, and stand still, stone, for King of England thou shalt be none. Thou and thy men hoar stones shall be, and I myself an eldern tree."
And at that moment the King was turned into stone, to become known as the 'King Stone', his men in the field below suffered a similar hoary fate as they became the stone circle known as 'The Kings Men.' Some distance away from the ancient Kings mens stood his disatified cavalry, these too were immediatly turned to stone and have become better known as the conspiratorial 'Whispering Knights.'
It is said that the 'Witch-Elder' still watches over the victims of her magic, according to some she stands in a field not far from the 'Whispering Knights.' Others say that she once stood near the circle, but was blown down many years ago. Further suggestions say that she is to be found amongst the hedgerow that runs along the road, or that she is long gone, once standing in a field beyond the 'King Stone.' There is a tradition that the proof of an elder being a witch is to cut it with a knife to see if it bleeds. In the eighteenth century upon Midsummer Eve, the time of the summer solstice, when the "eldern-tree" was in blossom, it was custom for people to come upto the 'King Stone' and feast upon ale and cakes. Gathered together they would stand in a circle about the great standing stone; then the "eldern" was cut, and as it bled "the King moved his head."
The act of blood-letting was once believed to cure and prevent a great many illnesses and diseases, as it was good for breaking the curses and spells of witches. An expression amongst the villagers of Long Compton was that even if you draw a witches blood, "be it only a pin's prick," the witch looses all power for a time.
"An old man of Little Rollright told me that some years ago he was up by the stones and a ploughboy asked him whether it was really true that the elder-tree bled if it was cut. "Lend me your knife," said the old man, and forthwith stuck it into the bark. "Won't you pull it out?" said the boy. "Pull it out yourself!" was the reply, but the boy was too scared to do so. It was only at last, as they were about to go home for the night, that the boy, fearful that he would lose his knife altogether, approached the tree "tottering with fright and all of a tremble," and, snatching it out, rushed away without waiting to see whether the tree bled or not. - From p20/21 in 'The Rollright Stones and Their Folk-Lore' by Arthur J. Evans. (Folklore, Vol. 6, No. 1. (Mar., 1895), pp. 6-53).
There is a stone figure in the porch of the church at Long Compton which local tradition asserts is the figure of a witch, the figure itself is heavily eroded and pock marked like one of the Rollright Stones; the feet of the stone figure appear to be resting upon a cat or fox or perhaps her familiar. "In his 1968 book, Murder by Witchcraft, Donald McCormick describes how the female figure has "an eerie and malevolent stare on her face that fixed one wherever one stood." The author goes on to say that, even when moving back 20 paces from the figure, "the stare was still directly confronting me....."
"...in a field near the church can be seen some ancient earthworks. The field is called The Close. An old tradition is attached to it...It said a young man sold his soul to the devil there." [...] "Belief in witchcraft and the power of witches features prominently in Long Compton's folklore. Rarely in fact does one find a village with such strong witchcraft associations." - Mark Turner, Folklore & Mysteries of the Cotwolds. As to support this there is a local saying that, "There are enough witches in Long Compton to draw a load of hay up Long Compton Hill."