Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Chipping Norton and the Rollright Stones

The Town Hall

Another walk with my friend Merv. We started in the centre of Chipping Norton near the Town Hall of 1842 and headed west along the A44 soon bearing right across a field to eventually emerge into open country.

This led us to the edge of Salford from which we headed north towards Little Rollwright, passing the attractive Rectory Farm.

As we approached Little Rollwright we were struck by the neatness of the surrounding countryside with the trees planed in orderly rows.

We skirted the Manor House to reach the church of St Philip, built in 1617.

Inside this small and unprepossessing church we were surprised to find two handsome tomb-chests, also early 17th century to members of the Dixon family.

We headed across farmland to encounter the Rollright Stones. There are three elements. The first is a set of standing stones known fancifully as the Whispering Knights. They are what remains of an early neolithic (4000-3500 BC) burial chamber.

A little further on is the Stone Circle known as the King's Men. These date from the later neolithic period and form a ceremonial circle. Many were re-erected in Victorian times and apparently there were once more stones forming a continuous circle with ceremonial entrances. The circle is surprisingly large.

Finally, there is an outlying stone, on the other side of a road, known as the King's Stone, but also said to resemble a seal balancing a ball on its nose. This is thought to date from the Bronze age (1800-1500 BC).

Retracing our steps to the stone circle, we were struck by this fabulous temporary public sculpture, Three Dancing Fairies by David and Adam Gosling, inspired by a painting by William Blake. Well done to them!

We retraced our steps past the Whispering Knights and followed a field path down to a road. This in turn led us, via Over Norton, back to Chipping Norton. We detoured to Church Lane to locate the almshouses, founded by Henry Cornish in 1640.

Then, reaching the main road, turned right past the much altered Guildhall ...

... and bore left into Market Street with an attractive line of buildings.

I especially liked this one of 1890 almost opposite the Town Hall.

Conditions: Grey and cool, maybe 12 degrees.

Distance: 8 miles.

Map: Explorer 191 (Banbury, Bicester & Chipping Norton)

From: AA: 50 walks in the Cotswolds

Rating: four stars.

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