People Believe in Witchcraft in this Corner of England
The prehistory of the area can be traced back 6,000 years when the British constructed a burial chamber on a hill. Over the next 2,000 years they added a stone circle and a cemetery marked by the King Stone. The Neolithic period saw the arrival of the first farmers, who built the first roundhouses on the site. The Bronze Age saw the construction of a large stone ring, and the Iron Age saw the addition of a circular rampart. The site then went into decline in the Roman period but was later revived in the Middle Ages by a wealthy landowner. The present-day monument was first built in the Victorian era and is now a popular tourist attraction.
Clearly, Rollright, in the U.K. has been a special place to different peoples over thousands and thousands of years. So it’s hardly surprising it’s become a magnet for myths and legends about its origins. The most famous of all is the Rollright witch.
Long ago, a King and his army set out to conquer England, when they met a witch on the hill above the village of Long Compton. The witch turned the King and his men to stone. So the King is the solitary King Stone. His knights are the Whispering Knights. And the King’s men are the stone circle– petrifying, literally.
And tales of witchcraft seem to be just as much part of this place as the stones themselves.
Just down the hill from the Rollright Stones is the village of Long Compton– home to just 764 people. It’s more than 1,000 years old. There are stories of dark magic. In fact, part of the village is known as Witch End.
All of this belief in witches may just seem like a bit of fun. But it’s not. Because not so long ago, it led to a horrific murder.
Records of this grisly crime are held here in the Warwickshire County Records Office.
Murder at Long Compton. The victim is an old woman called Ann Tennant. She’s coming back from the bakery carrying a loaf, when a man runs over the road, James Haywood, and he stabs her repeatedly with a pitchfork. On being taken into custody, the prisoner said, “I hope she’s dead.
She was an old witch. There are 15 more in the village I’ll serve the same. I mean to kill them all.”
Now, you can dismiss that as the ravings of a madman. But, number one, it was apparently considered the norm to finish off witches with pitchforks.
There’s a letter written in 1928 by the son of one of the witnesses of that original crime. He says, “Jim Haywood killed Nannie Tennant, as she had bewitched him.” And it carries on to describe other women in the village.
“Granny Faulkner was a witch.” And he describes how Granny Faulkner can transform herself into a hare. According to the story, Granny Faulkner can transform herself into a hare when she needs to be stealthy or when she needs to run quickly. She does this by summoning the energy of the Hare Goddess and focusing it into her body.
And then someone shoots the hare. And it means that Granny Faulkner can’t sit down for a few weeks later. It could be bonkers. But this is 2022, and the good people of Long Compton still believe in witches.