With the winter nights drawing in, we thought it was high time we introduced our readers to some of the legends about fairies and little people associated with Gloucestershire. What could be better than sitting around our wonderful fireside in Cooks Green Holiday Cottage learning some of the stories that have been handed down by people who have seen the fairies and those who tell the legends as stories to their children? In this article, we look at “The Legend of the Rollright Stones”.
Near to the borders of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire lays the village of Rollright, a little typically English village that has had much fairy intervention according to legend.
Up a hill slightly away from the village stands an old abandoned Druid shrine of stones. The story goes that the fairies would always take possession of abandoned Druid shrines and would take care of them. Anyone who interfered with the stones usually ended up suffering a misfortune. The village old people had their own story of the origin of the stones. They believed the standing stones were once a King and his knights who were about to declare war on England and seize the throne. On their journey when they reached Rollright, they were turned to stone, thus saving England.
Another tale of misfortune befell an old farmer who needed a large stone for his farm for the barn he was building. Despite the warnings of his neighbours, his mind was made up. He harnessed four horses to transport this huge weight of stone and with great difficulty managed to retrieve the stone. Although he succeeded in loading the stone onto his cart, it broke on the downhill journey home and all four horses were killed. Undaunted, the farmer raised the stone for his building and the fairy curse began.
Every year his crops failed, cattle died and he had to mortgage his farm of land. Eventually he was left with just one broken down horse and a rickety cart. It occurred to him that maybe the stone was causing his poor fortune. He harnessed his poor old horse and attempted to get the stone onto the cart. Surprisingly it was as though the stone put itself on the cart and the old horse drew the cart with ease and with a spring in his step that had been missing for years. The stone was replaced and the farmer very soon had good fortune and luck again to the extent where he became extremely wealthy.
The magical powers of the Rollright stones had shown that you do not mess with the fairies. The keepers of the stones had expressed their disapproval by causing ill luck to the farmer and as far as we know, they are still there guarding the stones on behalf of the Druids, and a very good job they do.
Take a trip out to visit the Rollright stones while you are staying here with us. See if you can uncover more of the stories and legends. While you are there do not forget to say hello to the fairies, after all you would not want to upset them!