THE sun may have been elusive, but dozens of people still gathered to greet the summer solstice at the ancient Rollright Stones.

In a tradition which has existed, in some form or other for at least 2,000 years, visitors descended on the neolithic stone circle, near Chipping Norton, to watch the sun set, and then await the dawn of the longest day of the year, yesterday morning.

Cloud and early morning rain scuppered hopes of a glorious sunrise, though countryside lovers and a smattering of pagans maintained a quiet, socially distanced vigil on the scenic ridge beside the 3,500 year-old King’s Stone.

Numbers were low with ongoing coronavirus restrictions in place, and those gathering at the ancient site – Oxfordshire’s answer to Stonehenge – sat quietly for the first rays of the murky dawn.

Among the visitors was Heather Rezek from near Wantage, who walked to the site from Chipping Norton. She said: “I’d always wanted to visit the Rollright Stones so this was a real treat.

Oxford Mail:

“To see other people gathered sitting peacefully around the inside of the circle was beautiful. People brought crystals and sat quietly. It felt a little magical to be there at this special time.”

The site contains three groups of monuments. The oldest is the Whispering Knights dolmen, which dates to at least 3,500 BC. The largest group, the King’s Men stone circle is late Neolithic, constructed in about 2,500 BC, while the solitary King Stone is believed to date back to 1,500 BC.

Lucy Silver from north Oxford, arrived for the sunset and waited all night for sunrise.

She said: “It was a lovely night, though we could have done without the early rain. Last night was particularly lovely – with everyone sat quietly as the sun set over the Cotswolds.

Oxford Mail:

“I used to go to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice, but that is always horribly busy and noisy. This was so much nicer, with not a single bongo drum to be seen – or heard!

“Everyone has been feeling cooped up with the lockdown, so it is refreshing to get into the country and breath the fresh air. Everyone has been respectful and careful not to leave a trace.”

At the centre of the stone circle, a crystal skull had been placed with prayers made for healing and rebirth.


Lionel Edwards from Warwickshire said he had been drawn to the site because of its spiritual significance as an ancient place of worship. He said: “We have all been through a difficult three months and many of us have lost people we know. It is good for the spirit to come to this place at a time of year synonymous with rebirth and hope for a brighter future.”

Legend has it, the stones are the petrified remains of a king and his army, turned to stone by a witch.