Firstly, it’s cold and wet. The stones are cool. There’s probably a bit of mist. It’s almost dank, conjuring images of toadstools, gathering grey clouds and pulling your cloak closer against the “chill”. (Whatever that is.)
We didn’t have anything like that. There are technically quite a number of stone structures in central Australia but they offered no immediate genetic entry-point and are weird in an Annunaki kind of way. Also I don’t own a plane.
Being an incorrigible pseudohistory nerd, a lot of my vacation time centres on places such as this. Indeed, in the very same road trip we went here, here, here, here and here. The Rollright Stones were the first site on the list that felt the way a person who has never seen stone circles before expects them to feel.
The weather certainly matched expectation. You can see the second-by-second change from freezing gloom to glary January sunshine in the photos. But these are your risks when you travel in the extreme off-season. (Photographically the visit was a complete wash. Wasn’t feeling it. Was too distracted ‘feeling it’.)
Prior to the Rollright Stones, the other sites we’d visited so far on the trip had much more of a cthonic signature. (In their defence, most of them were tombs.) This place feels different. Standing in the centre of the King’s Men -the name of the actual circle of stones at the site- felt like nicotine… It’s head-clearing and somehow faster.
Tuning in, the sense of movement is indeed jerky and rapid… like Terence McKenna’s machine elves.
(It’s also interesting then that the area has twentieth century UFO stories attached to it.)
Other than Iona and Glastonbury there are few other places I have been that have felt so active and… for want of a better word… usable. Based on feeling alone you could cobble together a broadly appropriate, non-trespassy rite that you’d feel comfortable enacting in the dead of night… which is, of course, when you’re not supposed to be there.
In many ways, the Rollrights seem to be the quintessential home of our stone circle myths.
- It’s got the ‘turned to stone by a witch’ connection.
- The witch in question is often considered to be Mother Shipton. Whatever it is, the witchy presence beside the King’s Men feels very Sybilish.
- Dowsers go nuts for the place.
- An also-ran elderly British wizard has written a book about the place.
- It’s got the admonitions about not moving the stones or being in the circle at midnight.
- There is a history of local vandalism. Firstly with paint and then a few years back the visitors’ centre was burned down in an arson attack. Thus the Rollrights can both curse and be cursed.
So in a universe close to this one where you happen to be friends with the current prime minister and/or the bassist from Blur -both of whom have houses down the road- think about crashing on their couch for the night.
Because in this universe you wouldn’t have to bend at least two rarely-enforced laws just to give the Rollright Stones the updated esoteric exploration they richly deserve. (Shields up, get really high, make some offerings, see what comes through.)
No, here you’ll just have to settle for paying the one pound donation and visiting on a quiet Tuesday afternoon. Which can also have its charms.