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Monday, October 03, 2011

Outing to The Cotswolds and Rollrights Stones

Yesterday morning we didn't get up until quite late. It was a reasonably good evening on television, with "Strictly Come Dancing", the finale to the current series of  "Doctor Who", followed by the first in a new series of "Merlin."  We didn't get to bed until fairly late.
The last week or so has been very warm, temperatures reaching heights not normally reached in late September/Early October. We decided to make the most of the sunshine and have an afternoon out. Carol has wanted to visit the Rollright Stones out the other side of Oxford, near Chipping Norton, so we made a sort of picnic up and took the cameras and set out. I have to say that the Cotswolds are my favourite places to visit in this country. Having worked in Cheltenham in the late '60's as a Student A.S.M. at the Everyman Theatre, I know the area well. My mother had relatives around the Cotswolds, and visiting them was always a pleasure. We would have taken the dogs, but it would have meant them spending a lot of time in the car, and Alfie, in particular, doesn't travel well, and he is very susceptible to heat. We went to the Shell petrol station along Grafton Street and then towards the A5 and out towards Towcester. It was a real joy to be getting out of the house and to be out in the countryside. We have found, when travelling west from Milton Keynes, there is (or was) a problem with the M40. It seems to get in the way. It is difficult to cross. This may sound odd, but you try it. We have more recently discovered that you need to go through the village of Aynho and find a bridge that goes UNDER the motorway. We were trying to get to a National Trust property (Hidcote) and spent around 2 hours trying to avoid the motorway and get through Banbury. We have found this route thrrough Aynho and it makes the westerly journey so much easier. Anyway, we had to go through Banbury to get to Chipping Norton and then find the Rollrights Stones (having looked on Google Maps and a print driving atlas we have.) Attempting to get through Banbury and finding the correct road was something of a problem and this happened on the way home. Why can't local authorities do something about signage? It wasn't very good. Neither was signage approaching the Rollright Stones, you had to really concentrate to see where the turning was to get there and then there was a tiny parking space near the stones.There is definitely something mysterious about this place. It has a strange atmosphere, somehow, very similar to that at Stonehenge, which we have also visited. Together with the spectacular scenery, it makes an interesting afternoon. We visited the single stone which is set within it's own field over the road from the ring of stones. We sat on the rocks and ate our picnic. We had to get something to drink when we stopped for petrol at the Shell service station. The heat made us very thirsty. I took photographs of the scenery (and hope to upload them onto this blog later this week after I have sorted out the iMac which has no further space on it's hard-drive, due mainly to having around 12,500 digital photographs on it. We have an external hard drive ordered from Amazon and should arrive by Wednesday.)
Rollright Stone Circle

There are three areas to visit at the Rollright Stones. The first area we went to was opposite the main area of the 'complex' (as you are supposed to term it, apparently, having read the little handbook we later purchased at the near-by garden centre.)  This is called the 'King Stone' and stands within a fenced area. This is, apparently, to disuade people from chipping of chunks of it, as it's supposed to be lucky this stone.) It has all the appearance, from a distance, of a stooping figure, probably covered in material or something. As the legend which surrounds these stones is that a witch turned a king and his nights to stone. That figures.  It really does look like a person. This is where we sat and ate our picnic. Then we walked over the road to the main site, where we came across the ring of stone, 'some 40 strides across' as it says in the handbook.) A legend states that if you count the stones, on each following attempt, the number of the stones will change! We did not immediately take up the challenge, but as we were taking photographs, two couples appeared and one of them began to count the stones. The second couple had a go. Both came up with different totals. Then we had a go. We made the total 81. Who knows the correct number? To the east, at the far edge of a field, are the ruins of a so-called 'Portal-dolemen' called the Whispering Knights. We didn't attempt to walk to this site, as it was some distance from the main site. Having taken enough photographs, we decided to leave. We knew, from reading a sign near the lay-by where we parked the car, that there was a garden centre nearby which sold the handbook and other Rollright-Stone related items, and where we could get a cup of tea. So we left and made for this garden centre. Having had our cup of tea we left, making our way home back through Banbury towards Towcester and onto the A5 and home to Milton Keynes.

I have since learned that the Rollright Stones were used as a location for the filming of a "Doctor Who" story in the '70's, which makes our trip there all the more interesting. The story was called "The Stones Of Blood" and it was quite a good story. Being a "Doctor Who" fan I am more than interested. I do remember the story quite clearly. It was a Tom Baker story, and apparently the 100th serial.
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