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and its Barrows
Stonehenge and its Barrows
"Some persons are of the opinion that Hecataeus of Abdera,
a contemporary of Alexander the Great, and of Ptolemy, made allusion to
Stonehenge in his "History of the Hyperboreans." In this work he
described them as inhabiting an island as large as Sicily, lying
towards the north, over against the country of the Celts.... In this
island was a round temple which was dedicated to Apollo...." There is
no "consensus" of Antiquaries [about the significance of Stonehenge].
Every kind of theory has been proposed, and as regularly combated. And
so it will be to the end of time. Each generation considers itself
wiser than the preceding, and better able to explain those matters
which to their fathers and grandfathers only appeared more difficult of
explanation as they advanced in their enquiries. And thus it has come
to pass that more books have been printed about the much-frequented
Stonehenge than about all the other megalithic structures,
collectively, which the world contains; and that the literature of
this, the best known of them all, would fill the shelves of a small
Stonehenge and its Barrows
by William Long, Esq., M.A., F.S.A.
originally published by
THE WILTSHIRE MAGAZINE.
"MULTORUM MANIBUS GRANDE LEVATUR ONUS."—Ovid.
UPON the mind of the thoughtful visitor of Stonehenge,1 two considerations can hardly fail to press, and with considerable force, as he recovers from his first astonishment; the one being the very sacred character of the place to those who had selected this spot, and raised upon it this remarkable structure; the other the (probably) long period during which it must have served as a "locus consecratus" to the surrounding people. What may have led to the choice of this particular site is not apparent; but we need no modern Merlin to tell us that the work which was here carried out was one which must have required much labour, and must have been the result of a very deep religious feeling. It could have been no light fancy nor passing impulse which operated as the motive power for the transport and setting up of these huge stones, and the conveyance hither of others from a great distance; but an earnest and deep-seated conviction on the part of the builders that it was their duty in this way, and at any cost of time and effort, to construct a fitting temple for the worship of their God. The same sanctity appears to have extended to the plain and hills around. Every elevation within a circuit of a mile-and-a-half is crowned with the grave-mounds of the distinguished dead, who would naturally wish to be buried near to the sacred precincts of this, their holy shrine. The building and its surroundings are in perfect harmony. They are as closely connected as a churchyard is with its church; and no traces exist, as far as the writer is aware, of any early human settlements nearer to this great necropolis, than High-Down or Durrington. Here must have been the Westminster Abbey, and possibly the Westminster Hall, of the people of that day, who occupied the vast down tracts of Southern Wilts. Here, at certain sacred seasons, must have been solemn gatherings for worship, for debate, and probably for amusement in the remarkable circus, which bounds Stonehenge to the north. And it would be difficult to believe that this place had not been so made use of for a considerable time. Years must have been spent in bringing hither and setting up the many and great stones of which it was composed, and it must have been a considerable period during which were being gathered around it the magnificent tumuli, which have been formed with so much care and labour. One might fairly fancy that, for two or three hundred years, at least, there may have been the peaceful use and enjoyment of this holy place. But upon these points men are not agreed. There is no "consensus" of Antiquaries about them. Every kind of theory has been proposed, and as regularly combated. And so it will be to the end of time. Each generation considers itself wiser than the preceding, and better able to explain those matters which to their fathers and grandfathers only appeared more difficult of explanation as they advanced in their enquiries. And thus it has come to pass that more books have been printed about the much-frequented Stonehenge than about all the other megalithic structures, collectively, which the world contains; and that the literature of this, the best known of them all, would fill the shelves of a small library. To the enquirer about Stonehenge it would be a work of time and trouble to seek out, in different places, and from many volumes, what he would be glad to know about it; and the present compilation2 is an attempt to bring together for the benefit of the members of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society the more important notices, which are descriptive of the structure and its adjuncts, and of the views and theories which have been propounded respecting it. To one who has made Stonehenge his study it will possibly tell nothing with which he is not already familiar; but to others it may be convenient and useful to have in as concise a form as possible, a resumé of what the best authorities on this and on similar structures have written respecting it. A series of extracts, it is true, is not particularly pleasant reading; but a man's words are the dress of his thoughts, and no one can clothe the ideas of another in so suitable a drapery as the author himself, if only those ideas are clearly apprehended, and as clearly expressed.
While the much larger and much older megalithic structure at Abury [Avebury] has been in the shade, and comparatively disregarded, Stonehenge has been, for the last 700 years, written about, talked about, and visited. Poets have sung about its mysterious character and origin, and historians have rehearsed from generation to generation the fabulous narrative set afloat by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Stonehenge has been much indebted to its situation for its celebrity and popularity. Unlike Abury, and Stanton Drew, which are in decidedly out-of-the-way places, Stonehenge has had the advantage of being within a short distance of a cathedral-and-county-town, and it has thus acquired an amount of notoriety,3 which, by comparison with its seniors, is not altogether deserved.
It is easier to describe Stonehenge than Abury; for Stonehenge, although a ruin, is a compact one; whereas Abury is not only of much greater area and circumference, but it was approached by a long stone avenue of more than a mile in length. Although Stonehenge has been much despoiled, it has not been, to anything like the same extent as Abury, regarded as the convenient quarry for the materials of neighbouring buildings. "There is as much of it undemolished," says Stukeley, "as enables us sufficiently to recover its form, when it was in its most perfect state; there is enough of every part to preserve the idea of the whole." At Abury, on the other hand, the stones comprising the circles and avenue have been continually broken up, even when not wanted for building-purposes, because they encumbered the pastures, or obstructed the plough. Fortunately the village Vandals omitted to fill up the holes in which the stones had stood, so that we are still able to assure ourselves that there were circles within the large outer one, as described by Aubrey and Stukeley. It is also certain from Aubrey's plan; from the stones which remain; and from the stones of whose removal we have reliable mention; that there was a continuous avenue from the large circle to the top of Kennet Hill. There must always, however, be uncertainty about the (so-called) Beckhampton avenue. Good Dr. Stukeley, to whom we owe so much, became unfortunately possessed with the ophite theory, and there is too much reason to believe that but a few stones on that side of Abury were available for the vertebrae of his serpent's tail.4
Before proceeding to describe the plan of Stonehenge (for which, as Sir Richard Hoare says, the pen must call in the assistance of the pencil, for without a reference to plans and views, no perfect knowledge can be gained respecting this "Wonder of the West"), it will be best to give a somewhat detailed account of the different notices of Stonehenge in mediaeval and later times.
Some persons are of opinion that Hecataeus of Abdera, a contemporary of Alexander the Great, and of Ptolemy, made allusion
to Stonehenge in his "History of the Hyperboreans." In this work he described them as inhabiting an island as large as Sicily, lying towards the north, over against the country of the Celts, fertile and varied in its productions, possessed of a beautiful climate and enjoying two harvests a year. In this island was a round temple which was dedicated to Apollo. If Stonehenge were erected within the three hundred years which preceded the Christian era, it would not have been in existence when Hecataeus wrote. At all events, we shall never, from this vague statement, be able to emerge from the region of cloudland, and to take our stand upon "terra-firma." Mr. Herbert, in his "Cyclops Christianus" has devoted a large portion of Section I. to the proof that by this island Britain could not possibly have been meant.
No Roman historian makes mention of Stonehenge.
Neither Gildas, Nennius,5 nor Bede, make mention of Stonehenge.
The Saxon Chronicle makes no mention of Stonehenge.
Nearly 1200 years of the Christian era roll away before the curtain is raised at all, and we get a peep at Stonehenge under the following brief notice of it by Henry of Huntingdon, who died after 1154. He is enumerating the four wonders of England, and he makes Stonehenge the second of them—"Secunduin est apud Stanenges; ubi lapides mirae magnitudinis in modum portarum, elevati sunt, ita ut portae portis superpositae videantur: nee potest aliquis excogitare qua arte tanti lapides adeo in altum elevati sunt vel quare ibi constructi sunt."6 "The second is at Stanenges (Stonehenge), where stones of a wonderful size have been erected after the manner of doorways, so that doorway appears to have been raised upon doorway, nor can any one conceive by what art such great stones have been so raised aloft, or why they were there constructed." At a later period, when the Archdeacon of Huntingdon was on his way to Rome with Theobald, the newly-consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury, he met with the work of Geoffrey of Monmouth at the Abbey of Bec in Normandy, and abridged it. He appears to have adopted Geoffrey's story about Stonehenge, as in a letter to Warinus Brito he says, "Uterpendragon, id est Caput Draconis, juvenis praestantissimus filius [sic] scilicet Aurelii Ambrosii, choream gigantum attulit ab Hiberniâ, quae nunc vocatur Stanhenges."7
Before the year 1139, the work of the great British-Mythologist, Geoffrey of Monmouth, had been given to the world. His "Historia Britonum is the fountain-head of legendary British history, and poetry, and the source of—
In fable or romance of Uther's son,
Begirt with British and Armoric Knights,'
as well as the original to which we are indebted for the writings of Wace, Layamon, Robert of Gloucester (the rhyming historian), Robert of Brunne, and many more,—not to mention its influence on the historical literature of England up to the seventeenth Century."8
Dr. Guest speaks of it as "Jeffrey's romance, that unhappy work which is everywhere found darkening the pure light of our early history;"9 and elsewhere10 he says of it, "The history of Jeffrey of Monmouth appeared in the middle of the twelfth century, and was denounced by the ablest men of the day as an impudent imposture. But it was patronized by the Earl of Gloucester, whose vanity it ministered to, and the influence of this powerful noble gave it a popularity which soon spread throughout Europe. Few of our later historians dare to question the truth of Jeffrey's statements; but his history is only a larger collection of the legends to which Nennius introduced us,11 added to and 'embellished' without scruple, partly from his own imagination, and partly, no doubt, from foreign sources, and impudently obtruded upon the reader as a translation of a Breton original."12
The following is Geoffrey's account, which is given in the words of Thompson's translation, printed by Sir R. Hoare: "Aurelius, wishing to commemorate those who had fallen in battle,13 and who were buried in the convent at Ambresbury,14 thought fit to send for Merlin, the prophet, a man of the brightest genius, either in predicting future events, or in mechanical contrivances, to consult him on the proper monument to be erected to the memory of the slain. On being interrogated, the prophet replied, 'If you are desirous to honour the burying-place of these men with an everlasting monument, send for the Giant's Dance, which is in Killaraus [Kildare], a mountain in Ireland. For there is a structure of stones there, which none of this age could raise without a profound knowledge of the mechanical arts. They are stones of a vast magnitude, and wonderful quality; and if they can be placed here, as they are there, quite round this spot of ground, they will stand for ever.' At these words Aurelius burst out into laughter, and said, 'How is it possible to remove such large stones from so distant a country, as if Britain was not furnished with stones fit for the work?' Merlin having replied, that they were mystical stones, and of a medicinal virtue, the Britons resolved to send for the stones, and to make war upon the people of Ireland, if they should offer to detain them. Uther Pendragon, attended by 15,000 men, was made choice of as the leader, and the direction of the whole affair was to be managed by Merlin. On their landing in Ireland, the removal of the stones was violently opposed by one Gillomanius, a youth of wonderful valour, who, at the head of a vast army exclaimed, 'To arms, soldiers, and defend your country; while I have life, they shall not take from us the least stone of the Giant's Dance.' A battle ensued, and victory having decided in favour of the Britons, they proceeded to the mountain of Killaraus, and arrived at the structure of stones, the sight of which filled them with both joy and admiration. And while they were all standing round them, Merlin came up to them and said, 'Now try your forces, young men, and see whether strength or art can do more towards the taking down these stones.' At this word they all set to their engines with one accord, and attempted the removal of the Giant's Dance. Some prepared cables, others small ropes, others ladders for the work; but all to no purpose. Merlin laughed at their vain efforts, and then began his own contrivances. At last, when he had placed in order the engines that were necessary, he took down the stones with an incredible facility, and withal gave directions for carrying them to the ships, and placing them therein.
"This done, they with joy set sail again to return to Britain, where they arrived with a fair gale, and repaired to the burial-place with the stones. When Aurelius had notice of it, he sent out messengers to all the parts of Britain, to summon the clergy and people together to the mount of Ambrius, in order to celebrate with joy and honour the erecting of the monument. A great solemnity was held for three successive days; after which Aurelius ordered Merlin to set up the stones brought over from Ireland, about the sepulchre, which he accordingly did, and placed them in the same manner as they had been in the Mount of Killaraus, and thereby gave a manifest proof of the prevalence of art above strength."
On the death of Aurelius, his body was, according to Geoffrey (British History, book viii.), buried by the bishops of the country, near the convent of Ambrius, within the Giant's Dance, which in his lifetime he had commanded to be made. Uther Pendragon also, on his death, was carried by the bishops and clergy of the kingdom, to the convent of Ambrius, where they buried him with regal solemnity, close by Aurelius Ambrosius, within the Giant's Dance.
This story held its ground for 500 years.
Dr. Guest writes about it15 as follows, in the paper before alluded to, "Amesbury signified the burgh of Ambres or Ambrosius. According to the Welsh triads, it was once the seat of a great monastery. The three chief perpetual choirs of the isle of Britain: the choir of Llan Iltud Vawr, in Glamorganshire; the choir of Ambrosius, in Ambresbury; and the choir of Glastonbury. In each of these three choirs there were 2400 saints; that is, there were 100 for every hour of the day and night in rotation, perpetuating the praise of God without rest or intermission." (Probert Triad, 84.) He continues, "In the older Welsh poems we sometimes find allusions to a conflict which appears to have taken place about some nawt, or sanctuary. It has been keenly contested that these allusions refer to the massacre of the British nobles by Hengest, and that the nawt was the heathen sanctuary of Stonehenge. One of the poems which are supposed to allude to this subject is attributed to Cukelyn the Bald, who according to Owen Pugh, flourished in the sixth, and according to the compilers of the Archaeology, in the eighth century. It represents Eitol 'excelling in wisdom,' as the chief of this mysterious locality; and the structure itself is described as
Maus Pedir pedror
Mawr cor cyvoeth.'
'...the wall of the Eternal,
The quadrangular delight of Peter,
The great Choir of the dominion.'
I would venture to suggest that this celebrated nawt may have been the Christian monastery instead of the heathen temple, and that the legend which makes Stonehenge the work of Ambrosius (Gwaith Emrys) may have arisen from his having built or re-edified one of the 'Choirs of Britain' in its immediate neighbourhood. An attempt on the part of the invaders to surprise this monastery — probably during one of its great festivals — may have given rise to the charge of a treacherous massacre; and Hengest would naturally figure in the tale, as being the Saxon chief best known to Welsh fable. The story seems to have been a favorite fiction in the sixth and seventh centuries, for it is also told of the Saxons who invaded Thuringia. . . . There is reason to believe that the choir of Glastonbury arose after that of Amesbury was destroyed. The choir of Ambrosius was probably the monastery of Britain — the centre from which flowed the blessings of Christianity and civilization.
Around Amesbury the Briton was fighting for all that was dearest to him; and thus may we account for the desperate resistance which enabled him to maintain a weak frontier for nearly sixty years within little more than twenty miles of Winchester."
If the massacre at Amesbury was a massacre of Christians, Stonehenge was hardly the kind of monument which would have been erected to commemorate their dead by Christian survivors and successors.16
Giraldus Cambrensis (born 1146—died 1223), in his "Topogaphia Hiberniae," [sic Topographia] which was completed in 1187, speaking of some large stones in the plain of Kildare of a similar character to those now to be seen at Stonehenge, relates how the latter had been originally brought by giants from the remotest parts of Africa, and set up in Ireland, where they were called "Chorea Gigantum" but that according to British history they had been at the instigation of Ambrosius brought over by Merlin, to Britain, and set up where the flower of Britain had been treacherously slain by the Saxons.
The writer thinks that we may fairly say, with Leland, "Fabulosa fere omnia de lapidibus ex Hiberniâ adductis."
Wace, who died after 1171, in his Anglo-Norman translation of the history of Geoffrey of Monmouth, under the title of Li Romans de Brut, thus speaks of Merlin and Stonehenge (line 8381, Rouen ed., 1836):—
"Et Merlins les pieres dreça
Encor ordre et les aloa.
Breton les solent en Bretans
Cercle des geans Apeler Earole as gaians;
Stonehenge Senhange ont non en englois,
Pieres pendules en françois."
In "Analyse du Roman de Brut" by Le Roux de Liney, the editor of Wace, at page 78, he says "Elles furent conduites dans la plaine de Salisbury où, on les voit encore. Elles sont appelées Stonehenge en Anglais, et Pierres levées en Français."
The lines 17154—17513 in Layamon's17 Brut or Chronicle of England (Madden's edition, vol. ii., p. 295—310, 1847), contain an amplified version of the part of Geoffrey of Monmouth's history which relates to Hengist, Ambrosius, Merlin and Stonehenge.
Neckham,18 in his "De Laudibus Divinae Sapientiae," lines 723—746, ed. 1863, p. 457, thus describes Stonehenge. The two previous lines are descriptive of the baths of Bath:—
"Admiranda tibi praebet spectacula tellus
Bruti; summatim tangere pauca libet.
Balnea Bathoniae ferventia tempore quovis
AEgris festina saepe medentur ope.
Nobilis est lapidum structura chorea Gigantum,
Ars ezperta suum posse peregit opus,
Quod ne prodiret in lucem segnius artem
Se viresque suas consuluisse reor.
Hoc opus ascribit Merlino garrula fama,
Filia figmenti fabula vana refert.
Dicta congerie fertur decorata fuisse
Tellus quae nutrit tot Palamedis aves.
Dehinc tantum munus suscepit Hibernia gaudens,
Nam virtus lapidum cuilibet ampla subest.
Nam respersus aquis magnam transfudit in illas
Vim, qua curari saepius aeger eget.
Uter pendragon hanc molem transvexit ad Ambri
Fines, devicto victor ab hoste means
0 quot nobilium, quot corpora sancta virorum,
Illic Hengistae proditione jacent !
Intercepta fuit gens inclita, gens generosa,
Intercepta, nimis credula, cauta minus.
Sed tunc enituit praeclari consulis Eldol
Virtus, qui leto septuaginta dedit."
The history of Geoffrey of Monmouth was versified by Robert of Gloucester, who wrote after 1278. These are the last four lines of his account of the transfer of the stones from Ireland.—
"Uter the Kynges brother, that Ambrose hette also
In another maner name ychose was therto
And fifteene thousant men, this dede for to do,
And Merlyn, for his quoyntise, thider went also."
In vol. ii. of the Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden,19 Monachi Cestrensis, p. 23, ed. 1869, is the following, "The secunde (meruaille) is at Stanhenges, nye to Salisbury, where stones of a grete magnitude be exaltede in to the maner of gates, that thei seme as gates putte on gates, where hit can not be clerely perceyvede how and wherefore the stones were sette there."
In the Eulogium (Historiarum sive Temporis), Chronicon ab Orbe Condito usque ad annum Domini MCCCLXVI., a monacho quodam Malmesburiensi exaratum,20 ed. 1860, vol. ii., p. 141, we find the following account of Stonehenge, "Sunt in Britanniâ fontes calidi morbis mortalium medicinales. Sunt in ea plura mirabilia; sunt enim apud le Stonhenge lapides mirae magnitudinis in modum portarum elevati, nee liquide perpenditur qualiter aut quomodo sunt ibi constructi. Then we have the old story (p. 280) "how the Britones nullum falsum cogitantes, constituerunt diem amoris in civitate Ambri, ubi nunc est le Stonehenge; "how they were treacherously slain, and how Aurelius Ambrosius (pp. 302, 303) volens honorare sepulturae locum ubi proceres Britonum Engystus21 dolo ceciderat, misit propter choream Gigantum in Hiberniam qui eam per artem Merlini attulit, et circa sepulchrum nobilium occisorum statuit choream predictam, quae nunc vocatur Lapis pendens et Anglice Stonehenges. Post haec periit rex veneno apud Wyntoniam, anno xliiii regni sui. Sepultus est in caemeterio quod ipse praeparaverat, scilicet, infra choream Gigantum.
Mortuo Aurelio coronatus est Uther frater ejus. Tempore tarnen Aurelii regis per artem Merlini de Hibernia ducti sunt lapides illae (sic) magnae quae nunc apud le Stonhenge sitae sunt. In Hiberniâ vocatae fuerunt Gigantum Choreae. Merlinus autem cum primo regi de lapidibus tetigerat rex solutus est in risum, dicens an lapides Britanniae tanti valoris essent et tanti pulchritudinis sicut Hiberniae? Cui respondit Merlinus: Ne moveas rex vanum risum, quia haec absque vanitate profero. Mysticae sunt lapides illae et ad diversa medicamina salubres; nam olim gigantes illos asportaverunt ex ultimis finibus Africae, et posuerunt in Hiberniam dum ibi habitarent; erat autem haec causa: cum aliquis illorum infirmabatur vel vulnerabatur, statim infra lapides confecerunt balneum de herbis et de lotione lapidum quia tanti fuerunt medicaminis quod, lapidibus lotis et aqua potata vel in balneum missa, aegroti vel vulnerati statim sanitatem reficiunt. Non enim est ibi lapis qui medicamento careat, steterunt autem in monte Killarno. De lapidibus satis est.
Andrew Borde, of Phisicke Doctor, who called himself Andreas Perforatus, and whom others called Merry Andrew, "in his fyrst Boke of the Introduction of knowledge" (1542), reckons among the wonders of England, "the hot waters of Bath," and tells us that "in winter the poore people doth go into the water to kepe themself warm, and to get them a heate;" the salt-springs "of the whych waters salt is made;" — the "Stonege" on Salisbury Plain, "certayne great stones so placed that no gemetricion can set them as they do hang;" "fossil wood, there is wood which doth turne into stone;" and the royal touch, which "doth make men whole of a syckness called the Kynge's evyll." See Retrospective Review, vol. i., 1853, N.S. John Hardyng was an investigator of our national antiquities and history, and at length clothed his researches in rhyme, which he dedicated under that form to King Edward the Fourth, and with the title of "The Chronicle of England unto the reigne of King
Edward the Fourth in verse" (London, 1543). He thus sings of the obsequies of Aurelius Ambrosius:—
"Within the Giantes Carole, that so then hight,
The Stone Hengles, that nowe so named bene,
Where prelates and dukes, erles and lords of might,
His sepulture to worship there were sene.
Thus this worthy Kyng was buryed by dene,
That reygned had that tyme but thirten yere
When he was dedde and laide so on bere."
And Constantine was:—
"Buryed at Caroll ne lesse,
Besyde Uterpendragon füll expresse
Arthures fader, of great worthynesse;
Which called is the Stone Hengles certayne,
Besyde Salysbury upon the playne."
He had previously thus written of the erection of Stonehenge, as a monument to the Britons:—
"The Kyng then made a worthy sepulture,
With yeStone hengles, by Merlins' whole aduise,
For all the lordes Brytons hye nature,
That there were slain in false and cruell wise,
By false Engest, and his feloes vnwise;
In remembraunce of his forcasten treason,
Without cause, or any eis encheson."
Leland died in 1552, leaving behind him, amongst other writings, "Commentarii de Scriptoribus Britanicis." In this work (vol. i., p. 42—48) is an account of Ambrosius Merlin. The following is an extract from a translation of it, made by Canon Jackson for Dr. Thurnam: "After the death of Vortigern, the Britons plucked up fresh courage under a new leader; so much so, that in a short time they slaughtered and despatched to the regions below the greater part of the Saxons with their chieftain, Hengist; the rest were dismissed to slavery and a precarious existence. Then it was that Ambrosius began to study the glory of Britain, to restore cities and castles, and once more to elevate religion also to its former dignity. Amongst other things he was seized with the most generous desire of perpetuating the illustrious memory of the British nobles, who, whether through the fraud or the valor of Hengist and his party, I cannot say—fell on Salisbury Plain." Merlin was sent for, and "began by searching for a bed of stone in large masses, such as abound in Salisbury Plain, and having found one which was both near the site fixed upon and was also remarkable for the enormous size of its blocks, he immediately collected a number of 'navvies,' giving them orders to set to work hard and lay the ground open, wide and deep. The men got their tools together, and set to work. But when they came to raise to the surface the largest of the blocks out of its native bed, the 'navvies' were utterly at a non-plus what to do. Then Merlin by his art and skill lent that aid which the men's strength could not supply. By wonderful ingenuity that seemed almost inspired, he constructed machines similar to, and certainly not less cleverly contrived than those which in his Tenth Book on Architecture, Vitruvius attributes to Ctesiphon and Metagenes. So superior in difficult undertakings is the mind to the body. And now the engines were set up, the work glowed, every one being intent upon his own special business. To be brief, at least 50 slabs [tabula], of immense size and weight were brought to the spot where a large number of the British nobility had been put to death. Recourse was again had to genius and machinery, for Merlin, having marked out a round place, ordered the stone-quarriers to set up those enormous blocks, which were much greater in height than in breadth, and to place them in circular form at equal intervening distances. His next order was to unite the summits of these stones by placing enormous blocks over the vacant intervals, so as to form a crown. Besides these, other stones also were set up in the same, or very similar manner, only within the area of the outer circle, of which some have fallen through the injury of time. The same has also happened to some of the coronary stones of the first circle.22
1 Spelt "Stanenges," "Stanhenges," by Henry of Huntingdon; "Senhange," "Stahengues," "Estanges," "Estanhangues," by Wace; "Stanhenge," by Layamon; "Stanhenges," by Higden; "Stonhenge," in the "Eulogium Historiarum;" "Stonege," by Borde; "Stone Hengles," by Hardyng; "Stonage," by Bolton; the author of the "Fool's Bolt;" "Stoneheng," by Webb; Charlton; and Aubrey; "Stonendge," by Drayton.
The Rev. Prebendary Earle, the well-known Saxon scholar, to whom the writer submitted the foregoing list of spellings, writes of them as follows: "In all these forms I only seem to see two states of mind, and these the two I have indicated. I. 'Stanenges,' 'Estanges,' 'Stonege,' 'Stonage,' 'Stonendge,' all seem to me essentially adjectival, epithetical, only in a large and collective way, as if one were to imagine a Greek λίθωμα, a mass of stones, after the pattern of στεφανωμα πυργων, a diadem of towers. II. All the others seem to me breathe the idea of 'hanging,' and the structure of the word is that of two substantives in compound state, whereof the former plays the adjective to the latter, as in Stonewall. So this seems to be Stonehanging, and then the only question is how is the 'hanging' to be understood? The more architectural and elegant view will readily occur to you, and I suppose I touched on it before; but there is one idea, not graceful certainly, which might have been present to the crude mind of our rough ancestors, and that is this, 'Stone-Gallows;' for, I say it with reluctance, the Saxon word for Gallows was 'hengen.' But then on the other hand they used the word gracefully in 'hengeclif,' rupes dependens, or hanging cliff." Most Saxon scholars, as far as the writer is aware, look with disfavour upon the popular rendering of "Stonehenge" into "hanging stones," like Wace's "pierres pendues," and consider that the Saxons meant by it "stonehanging-places," or "stone-gallows," from the resemblance of the trilithons to such an instrument of punishment or torture. Mr. Herbert, who says that "hanging-stones" would have been expressed by the word "Hengestanas," believes that the word is properly "Stanhengest" as it is called by Simon of Abingdon, in his chronicle of the Abbots of that place, (Ussher's Brit. Eccles., p. 228, ed. ii.; Dugdale cit. Gibson's Camden, i., 207, Gough's i., 150,) and that it was so designated, not because Duke Hengest "there performed a desperate act, and was engaged in the bloody scuffles consequent upon it; but because he there ended bis days, and was solemnly immolated to the vengeance of the successors of the Druids." Cyclop. Chris., p. 175. In this view, however, he would stand very much alone. Dr. Guest, (Philological Society's Transactions, vi., 1853,) combats Herbert's "stone of Hengest," and considers Simon of Abingdon's "Stone-Hengest" to be a clerical blunder for Stonehenges. He says "We find in many of the Gothic languages a word closely resembling henge, and signifying something suspended." "In the compound Stonehenge, the henge signifies the impost which is suspended on the two uprights." Sir John Lubbock, (Prehis. Res., p. 114,) would "derive the last syllable from the Anglo-Saxon word "ing," a field; as we have Keston, originally Kyst-staning the field of stone coffins." The writer, in his younger days, used to play cricket with a father and son named Stonage, of Bishops Waltham, Hants; but this is the only occasion on which he has met with any form of the word as a man's name.
2 The work which the writer, at the request of his Wiltshire Archaeological friends, has taken in hand, would have been carried out, had he lived, by one, who, from long study of megalithic structures and tumuli, was eminently fitted for such a task. For many years Dr. Thurnam had contemplated a description of Stonehenge; and as he read, he jotted down references and made short extracts, which might be of use when he was in a position to undertake it. These memoranda, together with cuttings from newspapers, were most kindly given to the writer by Mrs. Thurnam, and they have been of material service to him in the compilation of this paper. The subject in Dr. Thurnam's hands, could not fail of receiving a complete and masterly treatment; but it was not to be his work. He just lived to complete his valuable contribution to the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, viz: his exhaustive account of "British Barrows, especially those of Wiltshire and the adjoining counties;" a work, which must henceforth be the text-book on the subject, and which exhibits in every line the scrupulous care and earnest striving after accuracy of statement which characterise all that Dr. Thurnam wrote. The writer cannot but think that the very great amount of research and close attention which this work required and received must have contributed, in no slight degree, to the sad and sudden termination of his valuable life. He told the writer shortly before his decease, that he would never have put his hand to it, had he, been aware of the immense amount of labour which it would entail upon him. By Dr. Thurnam's death, the writer lost a much-valued friend and correspondent of many years standing; who had given him important assistance in the preparation of his paper on Abury; and whose pleasant intercourse never left aught but agreeable recollections behind it. The work above mentioned, and his portion of the "Crania Britannica," are valuable and important contributions to archaeological literature; while his scientific reports on the treatment of his insane patients in Yorkshire and Wiltshire are highly esteemed by bis brethren of the medical profession. He will always live in the aftectionate remembrance of the writer, who would fain place this stone upon the tomb of his departed friend:
"His saltem accumulem donis, et fungar inani
3 Stukeley (p. 10, reprint) speaks of the "infinite number of coaches and horses, that thro' so many centuries have been visiting the place every day."
4 From a letter of Lord Winchelsea's, printed in "Nichols' Illustrations of the Literary History of the 18th Century," ii., p. 771, and dated July 12th, 1723, it is evident that Stukeley had, at that early period, made up his mind about this Beckampton avenue. In his common-place book, folio 1717—48, lately in the possession of Sir William Tite, at page 73, is "a rude general sketch of the wonderful relique of Aubury [Avebury], Wiltshire, as it appeared to us May 19, 1719," and then follow Stukeley's first impressions of it, containing nothing noteworthy except the conclusion, viz: "I believe there was originally but one entrance to it." There is the plan of the Kennet avenue, but no indication of any other. It is perfectly clear that Stukeley was conversant with all that Aubrey had written before him, although, like many other archaeologists, he would not acknowledge the obligations he was under to his predeoessor. Thomas Hearne, who must have been a crusty man, speaks very disparagingly of Stukeley as an antiquary. At page 485 of the "Reliquiae Hearnianae," (Bliss' edition,) is the fullowing entry: "1722. Oct. 9. Dr. Stukley [sic], fellow of the Royal Society, is making searches about the Roman ways. He is a very fancifull man, and the things he hath published are built upon fancy. He is looked upon as a man of no great authority, and his reputation dwindles every day as I have learnt from very good hands." And again, "1724. Sep. 10, Yesterday in the afternoon called upon me, William Stukeley, doctor of physick, whom I had never seen before. He told me he is about printing a little folio about curiosities. It is to be entitled 'Itinerarium Curiosum' . . . This Dr. Stukeley is a mighty conceited man, and 'tis observed by all that I have talked with that what he does hath no manner of likeness to the original. He does all by fancy." Hearne mentions Aubrey twice, but says nothing against him. Bishop Warburton considered Stukeley to have in him "a mixture of simplicity, drollery, absurdity, ingenuity, superstition, and antiquarianism." Malone says of Aubrey, that "his character for veracity has never been impeached, and as a very diligent antiquarian his testimony is worthy of attention." Toland says "that he was a very honest man, and most accurate in his accounts of matters of fact." That he was very credulous we shall find from the ready hearing which he gave to Mrs. Trotman's gossip at Stonehenge.
5 Bishop Gibson, in his edition of Camden's Britannia, published in the year 1695, says that Stonehenge is mentioned in some manuscript of Nennius. This appears to be an error, as no mention is made of Stonehenge in his "De mirabilibus Britanniae Insulae," or in any other part of his "Historia Britonum." Some gloss in some edition must have misled the Bishop. Nennius does however give an account in the 48th and 49th chapters of his history of the slaughter of the Britons. It ends as follows: "Et conventum adduxerunt, et in unum convenerunt. Saxones autem amicabiliter locuti sunt, et mente interim vulpino more agebant, et vir juxta virum socialiter sederunt. Et Hengistus, sicut dixerat vociferatus est. Et omnes seniores, ccc., Guortigerni regis sunt jugulati, ipseque solus captus et catenatus est; ac regiones plurimas pro redemptione animae suae tribuit illis, id est Eastsexe, Suthsexe, Midelsexe, ut ab illicita conjunctione se separaret."
6 The other three things, "quae mira videntur in Anglia," are "primum quidem est quod ventus egreditur de cavernis terrae in monte qui vocatur Pec, tanto vigore ut vestes injectas repellat, et in altum elevatas procul ejiciat. Tertium est apud Chederhole; ubi cavitas est sub terrâ quam cum multi saepe ingressi sint, et ibi magna spatia terrae et flumina pertransierint, nunquam tamen ad finem evenire potuerunt. Quartum est, quod in quibusdam partibus pluvia videtur elevari de montibus, et sine morâ per campos diffundi."
7 Ep. H. Hunt: ad calcem Guiberti Novigent. ed. Dacherii p. 739, cited by Herbert, C.C., p. 161.
8 Sir Frederick Madden, on "The Historia Britonum of Geoffrey of Monmouth." Arch. Journ., vol. xv., p. 299. Geoffrey died in 1154, having been made Bishop of St. Asaph, 1152.
9 Welsh and English Rule in Somersetshire after the capture of Bath, A.D. 577." Arch. Journal, vol. xvi., p. 123.
10 "Early English settlements in South Britain." Salisbury Vol. of Arch. Institute, 1849, p. 37.
11 Mr. Ellis, in the introduction to his "Specimens of Early English Metrical Romances" discusses the question of Geoffrey of Monmouth's work, and comes to the conclusion, that upon the whole there seems to be no good reason for supposing that this strange chronicle was a sudden fabrication, or the work of any one man's invention. It rather resembles a superstructure gradually and progressively raised on the foundation of the history attributed to Nennius.
With reference to the story of Merlin and the removal of the stones to England, "if," Mr. Ellis says, (p. 56 of the Introd.) "as Llwd and some other learned men have conjectured, a Gaelic colony preceded the Cymri in the possession of Britain, it is not impossible that Stonehenge, and other similar monuments, may have been erected by these early settlers, and that the foolish story in the text may have been grafted on some mutilated tradition of that event."
12 To the great popularity of Geoffrey's History, Alfred of Beverley, whose work was compiled about 1150, bears testimony: "Ferebantur tunc temporis per ora multorum narrationes de Historia Britonum, notamque rusticitatis incurrebat, qui talium narrationum scientiam non habebat."
13 The British nobles whom Hengist the Saxon is alleged to have treacherously murdered at or near Ambresbury.
14 Sir R. C. Hoare notices that Geoffrey of Monmouth "contradicts himself as to the placing of these stones; for he first says that Aurelius intended them as a memorial to those of his subjects who had been slain in the battle with Hengist, and who had been buried in the convent at Amesbury; and afterwards tells us, they were set up round the sepulchre on the mount of Ambrius, which place (where Stonehenge now stands) is two miles distant from the supposed site of the convent."
15 Stillingfleet, and Hume after him, considered this story of the massacre of the British as an invention of the Welsh to palliate their own weak resistance and the rapid progress of the Saxons. Sir F. Palgrave and Lappenberg regarded the entire history of Hengest as a fable.
16 On the British Church during the Roman period (A.D. 200—450), and on the British Church during the period of Saxon Conquest (A.D. 450—681), see Haddan and Stubbs "Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents relating to Great Britain and Ireland, vol i., 1869." The Appendix C. to the first portion, entitled "Monumental Remains of the British Church during the Roman Period," and Appendix F. to the second, entitled "Sepulchral Inscriptions in (Celtic) Britain, A.D, 450—700," are particularly interesting.
17 Layamon was a priest, and lived at Ernley (Lower Arley otherwise Arley Regis), three-and-a-half miles south-east from Bewdley in Worcestershire. The sources from which he compiled his work are stated by himself to be three in number, viz., a book in English, made by St. Bede, another in Latin, made by St. Albin and Austin, and a third made by a French Clerk named Wace, who presented it to Queen Eleanor (consort of Henry the Second). To the third, viz., the Anglo-Norman metrical Chronicle of the Brut, translated from the well-known Historia Britonum of Geoffrey of Monmouth by Wace, and completed in the year 1155, which embraces the History of Britain, fabulous or true, from the destruction of Troy, and subsequent arrival of Brutus, to the death of King Cadwallader, in A.D. 689. Wace's Brut is comprised in 15,300 lines, whilst the poem of the English versifier extends to nearly 32,250. Sir F. Madden (the editor of "Layamon's Brut," published by the Society of Antiquaries, 1847), thinks it most probable that it was written or completed at the beginning of the thirteenth century. His language belongs to that transition period in which the ground-work of Anglo-Saxon phraseology and grammar still existed, although gradually yielding to the influence of the populär forms of speech.
18 Neckham, born 1157, was elected Abbot of Cirencester in 1213, and he died at Kempsey, near Worcester, in 1217, and it is said that by direction of his friend the biahop, he was buried in Worcester Cathedral.
19 Higden was born in the latter part of the thirteenth century, somewhere in the west of England. He took monastic vows about 1299, and died in March, 1363, and was buried in the Abbey of Chester.
20 Written in the year 1372.
21 Dr. Rolleston, in a paper on "The modes of sepulture observable in late Romano-British and early Anglo-Saxon times in this country," points out, from the fact that Anglo-Saxon urns, indicating cremation, had been found in as many as fifteen counties in England, and that this practice could only have been prevalent during the 150 years intervening between the comings of Hengist and of St. Augustine, that we have here a clear proof that the Anglo-Saxons came over in great numbers. He says, "It is the fashion to consider Hengist a mythical person, and to disregard alike the story of his landing in Kent, and of his being executed at Conisborough, in South Yorkshire. But these urns show that men, such as Hengist was, did spread themselves over the very area which he is said to have overrun; possibly not in so short a period as the forty years assigned for his exploits, but, what is of greater consequence, without giving up the manners and customs and creed of the country whence they came, and in which at the present day (see Kemble's Horae Ferales, pl. xxx. et passim) we find similar relics to those of which we have been here speaking." Dr. Rolleston also argues from this prevalence of Anglo-Saxon urn burial over such an area and for such a period that the influence of the clergy, and of the Christian religion, which has always resolutely fought against cremation, must have been destroyed. As there is a disposition in some quarters to look favorably upon the revival of cremation, it may be as well to give the following references quoted by Dr. Rolleston, "Tertullian, A.D. 197, cit. Grimm, Berlin, Abhand, 1849, p. 207, 'Christianus cui cremare not licuit'; see also History of Esthonians, as lately as 1210, A.D.; Grimm, ibid, p. 247; Pusey, Minor Prophets, Amos, vi., 10, ibique citata; Kemble 'Horae Ferales,' p. 95, 'Wherever Christianity set foot, cremation was to cease.' The results of the Teutonic invasion of Britain upon its Christianity are forcibly set forth by Dean Milman, in his "Latin Christianity" Book, iv., c. 3, "Britain was the only country in which the conquest by the Northern barbarians had been followed by the extinction of Christianity." . . . "The Saxons and the Anglians, in their religion unreclaimed idolaters, knew nothing of Christianity but as the religion of that abject people whom they were driving before them into their mountains and fastnesses. Their conquest was not the settlement of armed conquerors amidst a subject people, but the gradnal [sic] expulsion — it might almost seem, at length, the total extirpation — of the British and Roman-British inhabitants. Christianity receded with the conquered Britons into the mountains of Wales, or towards the borders of Scotland, or took refuge among the peaceful and flourishing monasteries of Ireland."
22 About the fetching of them from Ireland, it is all fabulous. For every person even of common information must know that these stones, so large as not even to be moved by any mechanism in our unscientific days, were brought by Merlin with marvellous skill and the help of ingenious machinery from some neighbouring quarry to the place where they are now the admiration of travellers. It would, indeed, have puzzled him to bring them by sea to Amesbury, for there is no sea ooast within 20 miles of it." From the Latin in Collectanea, ii, by Canon Jackson (Wilts Mag. i., 176), who says, "It is remarkable that though so close to Stonehenge (which, no doubt, he saw), Leland has left no description of that place or Avebury."
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