Tucked away on the fringes of an old English village called Long Compton is a roughly circular formation of stones called the Rollright Stones – and which, collectively, date back to the Neolithic era and the Bronze Age. For just about everyone that visits the stones, the effect is very much the same: a sense of being deep in the heart of a magical realm, one saturated by matters paranormal and supernatural. It’s not surprising, then, that the Rollright Stones have attracted numerous legends to explain their presence. As for their purpose, that’s quite another matter.
That the Rollright Stones are made up of a circle referred to as the King’s Men, and a burial area that the locals call the Whispering Knights, has led to the creation of an engaging legend. It’s a legend that dates back to the first decade of the 17th century. So the enduring story goes, a well-known, local character called Mother Shipton did not take kindly to the king and his knights intruding upon her land and so, as a result, she cast an ancient, powerful spell and turned the entire party into blocks of stone. In that scenario, the Rollright Stones are the petrified remains of a long-gone army that was defeated not by bows and arrows, swords, and spears, but by supernatural hex.
As for Mother Shipton herself, she was said to have the power of prophecy, among other paranormal abilities. And there is this, too: “Ursula Southeil (c. 1488 – 1561), better known as Mother Shipton, was an English soothsayer and prophetess. The first publication of her prophecies, which did not appear until 1641, eighty years after her death, contained a number of mainly regional predictions. Did you speak about the end of the world? It all goes to personal interpretation.”
Then, there are the following words from mothershipton.co.uk: “Ursula grew up around Knaresborough. She was a strange child, both in looks and in nature. Her nose was large and crooked, her back bent and her legs twisted. Just like a witch. She was taunted and teased by the local people and so in time she learnt she was best off on her own. She spent most of her days around the cave where she was born. There she studied the forest, the flowers and herbs and made remedies and potions with them.”
Now we come to the matter of monsters. Or, at the very least, to the saga of a distinctly odd and out of place animal. Paul Devereux is a noted expert on British-based stone circles and areas of archaeological significance, and the author of many books, including Stone Age Soundtracks: The Acoustic Archaeology of Ancient Sites. In 1977, Devereux created an ambitious program to study numerous standing stone formations in the U.K., ones which seemed to be surrounded by an excess of ultrasonic and magnetic phenomena. At the height of their investigation at the Rollright Stones, one of Devereux’s team caught a very brief view of a large and shaggy animal with coarse grey hair roaming near the stones. In an instant, it was gone – something which prevented the witness from getting a good look at it. Nevertheless, he was sure it was no normal wild animal of the types that roam around the U.K., such as a fox or a deer.
Then, in the early summer of 1982, there occurred a sighting at the site of what can only be termed as a “British Bigfoot.” The witness, Cheryl Andrews, saw the beast only briefly – before it vanished right before her, in what she described as a dense fog. There was no doubt in Cheryl’s mind that, in her own words, the beast “looked like a gorilla, but [it had] human eyes.”
The Rollright Stones: a creation of high-strangeness? To be sure!