Top Ancient Sites in Oxfordshire

Oxfordshire is a landlocked county in the region of Southeast England. The county is mostly known for being home to the city of Oxford and its prestigious university. But the county is also home to extensive prehistoric landscapes and ancient sites. Here is a list of the top ancient sites in this amazing county.


The Rollright Stones consist of a complex of three Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments. The monuments are known as the King's Men, the Whispering Knights and the King Stone. The three monuments were built at different periods in late prehistory from local oolitic limestone and had distinct purposes. The Whispering Knights was the first of the monuments to be constructed in the area. The monument consist of the remains of a Neolithic portal dolmen used as a place of burial. Evidence suggests that the Whispering Knights is one of the earliest funerary monuments in Britain. It was constructed around 3,500 BC. The King's Men Stone Circle is a circle of about seventy stones constructed around 2,500 BC. It was used as a gathering place for Neolithic people. The King Stone is a monolith that was probably erected around 1,500 BC. It's believed that it was used to mark the location of a nearby Bronze Age burial ground.


Wayland's Smithy is a Neolithic chambered long barrow which was built over an earlier wooden and earthen mortuary structure. It's one of many prehistoric sites associated with Wayland, the Saxon god of metal working. The long barrow is trapezoidal in plan and it's believed to have been constructed around 3600 BC by pastoral communities. The site is important as it illustrates a transition from a timber-chambered barrow to a stone-chambered tomb. The barrow was excavated twice and revealed the remains of fourteen skeletons. Analysis of these remains indicated that they had been subjected to excarnation which is the practice of removing the flesh and organs of the dead before burial.


The Devil's Quoits is a henge and stone circle. It's believed that the henge is from the Neolithic Period, between 4,000 and 5,000 years old. The stone circle may have been put up at a later date, in the Early Bronze Age. The site was seriously damaged by the construction of an airfield in 1940. Excavations carried out in the 1970's and 1988, revealed the stone circle and the henge. The site was restored between 2002 and 2008, with stones which had fallen over being re-erected and the surrounding earthworks rebuilt. The name of the site is associated with a legend that states that the Devil once played quoits with a beggar for his soul and won by flinging the big stones.


The Hoar Stone is part of the ruins of a Neolithic portal dolmen consisting of three upright stones. A fourth stone lies flat on the ground nearby and is almost certainly the remains of the capstone. It's believed that the monument was originally surrounded by a low ring cairn which is no longer visible.


Hawk Stone is a prehistoric standing stone in Oxfordshire. It has been suggested that the monument might be all that remains of a portal dolmen, but there is no evidence to support this claim. Earlier historians believed that the Hawk Stone was once part of a stone circle, but no other stones were ever found in the area to support this theory. There are many legends surrounding this monolith. The most notorious one is about the cleft in the top of the stone. It's believed that the cleft was made by the chains of witches who were tied to the stone and burnt alive.

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