Last Photographed: Saturday 20th March 2010
The King Stone lies about 75 metres to the north-east of The King's Men. This solitary megalith is made of the same weathered limestone as the rest of the Rollrights and rises to a height of 2.5 metres. It may be an outlier for the main circle, but it has also been suggested that it serves as a marker stone for a Neolithic burial site. The remains of cairns have been discovered around the King Stone, and a round barrow ("The Archdruid's Barrow") is known to have existed close by.
Like all the Rollrights, The King Stone is rich in folklore and legend. Aubrey Burl relates how as late as the 18th Century, women would touch the stone with their bare breasts in the hope that it would grant them fertility.
Writing in the 17th Century, Stukeley recounts how local people would gather at midsummer's eve to cut the Witch Elder and drain its sap. They would then form a circle around the King Stone, the head of which would then allegedly turn. Bleeding a witch was traditionally a means for reducing her powers, so the belief would appear to be that in cutting the Witch Elder, she was bled and her powers were lessened, thus weakening the spell that bound the king to stone.
Stukeley also reports that on a certain day of the year, young men and women would gather at the King Stone to "make merry with cakes and ale." It's not a huge leap of logic to assume that this day was Beltane and that celebrations carried on into the night.
A local legend tells that when the church clock strikes midnight, the King Stone descends the hill to drink at the local stream - although this behaviour is sometimes ascribed to other of the Rollrights.
Despite being surrounded by iron railings (placed here in Victorian times), The King Stone is still a dramatic and inspiring sight. It's worth noting that its distinctive twisted shape is not original, but rather the result of an old fashion for chipping away pieces of stone to use as good luck charms.