Chapter 5: 'The Curious Itinerary.'

To travel forwards in time some thirty years to 1754, when as an old and distinguished antiquary Stukeley dined at Carlton House with his new friend, the Princess of Wales, we find him recording afterwards in his diary how he had discoursed with Her Royal Highness 'all the time she was at dinner, chiefly on the Romans'. Their subjects of conversation had included Hadrian's Wall and the exciting new discoveries being made by the Italians at Herculaneum. Given Stukeley's keen interest in classical history and archaeology, not surprisingly the princess inquired why he had never travelled abroad: 'I answered that I loved my own country, and that there was curiosity and antiquity enough at home to entertain any genius: that I had travelled pretty much through England, but resisted the solicitation of the Duke of Rutland and others to goe a foreign tour'.[1] By the early decades of the eighteenth century the Grand Tour had become firmly established as an important part of the education of an English gentleman, and it is generally agreed that by the 1720s it was dominated by British tourists, with their principal destinations being Paris and Rome.[2] For an antiquary of Stukeley's stature, not to have travelled to Italy -- indeed, never even to have left Britain -- might appear a considerable gap in his education. And in truth, his response to the princess that he was quite satisfied with what England had to offer him as an antiquary was slightly disingenuous. For in 1720 he had recorded that whilst at university he had studied French and Italian,

for I had thoughts of travelling especially to Rome which place I have ever had the most earnest desire of seeing, thinking there is all that can possibly satisfy the most curious Enquirer. That City which has been the Residence of the Greatest Genius's that ever lived firing my Ambition to breath in Italian Air & could only tempt me to undergoe the fatigues & dangers of foreign Expeditions where I might behold the Pantheon the Pillars the Obelisks the Gates the Amphitheaters & all that Art has to boast of Great & Venerable.[3]

But the sudden deaths of his father and uncle and the ensuing financial and family responsibilities had his 'hopes were frustrate'. It was in fact only then, he claimed, that he had fully turned his thoughts 'for a leisure Amusement' to the antiquities 'of my own Country'.[4] To some degree, he reflected, this had been a good thing, for 'had I gone [to Rome] tis not unlikely … that I should have been content to pass my Life there.'[5]

Stukeley, then, was not to be undone by his failure to make the European tour. From 1710, following his move to Boston, he started making annual summer tours around England, and he also started reading more thoroughly in history. His researches were aided by Maurice Johnson, who in 1714 sent him a comprehensive reading list of books on British history and antiquities. This included Book VI of Caesar's De Bello Gallico, Tacitus, Milton's History of England (1670), Richard Verstegan's Restitution of Decay'd Intelligence (1605), the preface to William Camden's Britannia (presumably the new, much expanded, 1695 edition), Robert Brady's Introduction to the Old English History (1694) and Peter Heylin's Help to English History (1652).[6] The outcome of this reading and his accounts of his alternative, annual domestic perambulations were published in January 1725 as Itinerarium Curiosum, Or, An Account of the Antiquitys and Remarkable Curiositys in Nature or Art, Observ'd in Travels thro' Great Brittan. Illustrated with Copper Prints. Centuria 1.[7] In their extensive areas of interest, the seven 'itineraries' or tours that made up the book, and which were written as letters to various of his friends, were not a form of travel writing as we would probably understand it today, but rather a genre known as 'chorography'. This combined the traveller's observation and remarks on things of both human and natural origin, including history, topography, natural and civic history, antiquities and genealogy. The cornerstones of British chorography in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries were the manuscript works of John Leland and the Britannia of William Camden. In the introduction to the first chapter of the Itinerarium Curiosum, which explored his native county of Lincolnshire and was dedicated to Johnson, Stukeley presented a lengthy and flourishing criticism of the popularity of the accounts by Grand Tourists and other overseas travellers which praised the rest of the world at the expense of England's own natural and ancient glories. This passage is worth reproducing in full:

The satisfaction of viewing realities has led infinite numbers of its admirers, thro' the labors and dangers of strange countrys, thro' oceans, immoderate heats and colds, o'er rugged mountains, barren sands and desarts, savage inhabitants, and a million of perils: and the world is fill'd with accounts of them. We export yearly our own treasures into foreign parts, by the genteel and fashionabl tours of France and Italy, and import ship-loads of books relating to their antiquities and history ('tis well we if we bring back nothing worse) whilst our own country lies like a neglected province. Like untoward children we look back with contempt upon our own mother. The antient Albion, the valiant Brittan, the renowned England, big with all the blessings of indulgent nature, fruitful in strengths of genius, in the great, the wise, the magnanimous, the learned and the fair, is postpon'd to all nations. Her immens wealth, traffic, industry, her flowing streams, her fertil plains, her delightful elevations, pleasant prospects, curious antiquitys, flourishing citys, commodious inns, courteous inhabitants, her temperate air, her glorious show of liberty, every gift of providence that can make her the envy and the desirabl mistress of the whole earth, is slighted and disregarded.[8]

As this diatribe reveals, the Grand Tour was not seen by everyone in Britain as a good thing, and Stukeley voices a recurrent criticism. Englishmen and women who stayed at home feared that their fellow countrymen who travelled abroad would return with continental vices and fashions (Stukeley's 'nothing worse'), that is, effeminacy, affected manners or -- worst of all -- Roman Catholicism. The Monthly Review would suggest in 1767 that 'for one person that it hath improved', the Grand Tour had been 'the destruction of thousands.'[9] A further criticism of the British Grand Tourist, and the one most relevant to Stukeley's remarks , was their embarrassing ignorance of their own country. This reproach that travellers know more of foreign countries than they do of their own is an old trope. Even as late as 1778 the London Magazine observed that the publication of tours of Britain would invalidate the condemnation 'of sensible foreigners, who complain that the English travel to every part of Europe in search of trifling curiosities, while they neglect or overlook the wonderful productions of nature and art at home.'[10] Stukeley recognized this problem in the first decades of the century, and he set out to provide an answer to the problem in his Itinerarium:

I had a desire by this present work, however mean, to rouse up the spirit of the Curious among us, to look about them and admire their nativ furniture: to show them we have rarities of domestic growth … It was ever my opinion that a more intimate knowledg of Brittan more become us, is more useful and as worthy a part of education for our young nobility and gentry as the view of any transmarin parts. And if I have learnt by seeing some places, men and manners, or have any judgement in things, 'tis not impossibl to make a classic journey on this side the straits of Dover. [11]

Stukeley was not the first to offer an answer to the Englishman's ignorance of his own land -- though he was, as we shall see, original in harnessing it to a wider ideology. One early eighteenth-century travel writer who had already made such a journey around Britain was James Brome, who accompanied the two eldest sons of an 'Eminent Merchant' for the purpose of their education. In the preface to his Travels over England, Scotland and Wales (1700) Brome had complained that it was 'the unhappy Genius of some Grandees in this Age to attest nothing, but what either happens in a Foreign Dress, or comes taught with new and unheard-of Rarities from abroad, as if our English Soil was so barren in its Productions that it could not afford anything to divert the Curious'.[12] But as Brome observed,

there is not any thing worth our Wonder Abroad, whereof Nature hath not written a Copy in our own Island: And it cannot be too frequently observed, that as Italy has Virgil's Grotto, and the Sybil's Cave by Puteoli, so England hath Ochy-Hole by Wells, and Pool's by Buxton: We have Baiae at the Bath, the Alps in Wales, the Spaw in Yorkshire … the Pyramids at Stonehenge, Pearls of Persia in Cornwall, and Diamonds of India at St Vincent's Rock …[13]

Thus, what with castles, fortresses, battle-sites, Roman roads, and antique coins and medals, Brome suggested that England 'will not stoop to any neighbouring Nation for such admirable Curiosities.'[14]

As if answering the same accusations, another, more famous travelogue was published in the same year as Stukeley's Itinerarium: Daniel Defoe's A Tour Thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain. But Defoe's professed interest was the present, the here and now. He was interested in the comparatively rapid economic transformation the country had experienced over the previous forty years, and he wanted to acclaim modern Britain's achievements, particularly the 'Improvement' and 'Encrease' in commerce, employment, building and wealth. Indeed, Defoe explained to the readers of his Tour that he had 'studiously avoided' the subject of 'Antiquity' as his book was intended to be 'a Description of the most flourishing and opulent Country in the world'.[15] Later, however, he would wistfully remark how 'I have many times repented that I so early resolved to decline the delightful view of antiquity … But I have condemn'd myself (unhappily) to silence upon this head.'[16] It has recently been written of Defoe's Tour that 'what he is essaying is not so much a dispassionate account, as a patriotic celebration or panegyric'.[17] The Itinerarium Curiosum can be interpreted in a similar fashion, and in its antiquarian design Stukeley's book fills the gap left in Defoe's account. It is a perambulating antiquarian's account which attempts to show how a young English gentleman did not need to travel to Rome itself in order to experience the edifying effects of the Grand Tour. He could, in fact, learn more than enough about antiquities and classical history through an educational journey around his own country. This would be a leading theme in Stukeley's antiquarian work: the resurrection of British history as an archetype for world history, and of Britain as a country historically fit to lead the world into the future. A country fit, furthermore, for a genius such as Newton's.

Antiquarianism, Religion and the State

The cultural, social and religious upheavals of the Reformation had resulted in a growing sense of national identity and destiny in Protestant European countries. In the seventeenth century, antiquaries such as Sir Henry Spelman, John Weever, William Somner and Sir William Dugdale were all particularly concerned with verifying the existence of the early British Church on grounds free from Roman Catholic ties. Camden's friend Robert Cotton, the famous bibliophile, planned a great ecclesiastical history of Britain, which would document its growth and early vigour, and the spiritual continuity from Romano-British to Saxon Christianity, thus emphasizing and illustrating its independent status. Cotton's library was assembled to some extent with this project in mind, but he made little progress and on his death the project passed into the capable hands of the Irish ecclesiastic scholar James Ussher (1581-1656). But when London's first Society of Antiquaries (which began meeting in the 1580s) showed a persistent concern with the origins of British institutions and customs, after Elizabeth's death it encountered James I's opposition. He feared the Society might undermine royal authority and the prerogatives of the Crown, and he put a stop to its meetings.[18] Nevertheless, Protestant clergyman continued to study history, seeking a conformity with ancient religious practices and a return to the primitive Christian Church. In Britannicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquatates (1639) Ussher claimed that by 597 Anglo-Saxon England was already a Christian country, and he interpreted St Augustine's proselytizing papal mission as having been primarily directed at an enclave of pagan Saxons in Kent.[19] It was of course historically correct that the Romano-Britons had converted to Christianity, and that the pagan Anglo-Saxon invaders had driven them into enclaves in Wales, Ireland and Brittany. St Augustine's papal mission to Canterbury in 597 to convert the English was merely a reconversion of the island. Early modern British antiquarians thus utilized this earlier legacy -- as well as popular legends such as Joseph of Arimathea's journey to Galstonbury with the Holy Grail in the first century AD -- to circumvent papal authority over England. Henry Rowlands in his 1723 history of Anglesey, Mona Antiqua Restaurata, could thus declare that the Gospel had been preached in Britain 'in the earliest Years of Christianity, even before Rome itself'.[20] The 'execrable Villainy' that had led to the destruction of the written historical records of this early conversion, Rowlands explained, had been 'perpetrated by the Instigation of Rome's Agents (envious of our earlier Conversion) after the coming over of Monk Austin [Augustine], to pervert our purer Faith, and to lay, on the Ruins of our antient Church, the Foundation of the papal Grandeur and Tyranny.'[21]

But concern with the history of the early Church was not solely associated with charting Protestant independence from Rome. The Reformation itself was fundamentally concerned with a return to the Bible, and to the authority and authenticity of ancient Christianity, free from the papal dictates and directives that had accrued over the previous centuries. In 1715 William Whiston founded a Society for Promoting Primitive Christianity, part of a movement back to a 'primitive' Christianity aimed at replacing the divisions and corruptions of modern Christianity with the purer, simpler, pattern that had existed in the first two or three Christian centuries, as it had been 'first settled by the Apostles from Christ himself.'[22] The conversion to Christianity of the pagan tribes of Europe had involved what some saw as a corruption of its true message: in order to accommodate paganism and gain converts the Roman Church had bent the truth of its religion. An obvious instance of this can be found in Bede's eighth-century History of the English Church and People. There Bede recorded Pope Gregory's instructions to Augustine that ''the temples of the idols'' of the pagan Anglo-Saxons

'should on no account be destroyed … For if these temples are well-built, they must be purified from the worship of demons and dedicated to the service of the true God … And since they have a custom of sacrificing many oxen to demons, let some other solemnity be substituted in its place, such as a day of Dedication or the Festivals of the holy martyrs whose relics are enshrined there. On such occasions they might well construct shelters of boughs for themselves around the churches that were once temples, and celebrate the solemnity with devout feasting.'[23]

In 1729 Conyers Middleton wrote a popular treatise with the self explanatory title, A Letter from Rome, Showing the Exact Conformity between Popery and Paganism. Here we clearly see the source of concern of Cambridge scholars such as Newton, Clarke and Whiston, who perceived the Holy Trinity as a false and late doctrine indicative of the Roman Church's corruption by pagan polytheism.

The congruence between religious history and national identity was intimately linked, therefore, with the aims and intentions of the British antiquaries. The study of British history was significant in the early modern period on at least two grounds: it served to prove and defend the independence and antiquity of the Church of England, and it returned true Christian (i.e. Protestant) worship to the original dictates of Christianity at its very earliest date, free from papal and pagan accretions. Added to this, the idea of Protestant providence, of a divine beneficence leading the nation, was still strong in early eighteenth century England: this was still God's own country. In his 1708 Boyle Lectures Whiston argued that Britain's recent military successes over Catholic France and Spain in the War of the Spanish Succession represented 'proof of God's continued special providence for his chosen people, the English Protestants.'[24] Stukeley in turn would likewise declare: 'That the Clergy of England, under God's Providence, are the main support of religion now upon the face of the earth, is a Truth that will not easily be denyd by good men'.[25]

Yet paradoxically, at the same time as they were attempting to distance themselves from continental Catholicism and identify their country with the true religion, the allure of the Grand Tour was attracting British gentlemen to the ancient glories of Italy and, to a lesser extent, Greece and Egypt. But the seventeenth-century collections of classical antiquities made by wealthy Grand Tourists such as the Second Earl of Arundel also inspired the collection and appreciation of those remains at home. The rise of connoiseurship encouraged the study of classical antiquities and civilization. In 1726 the miscellaneous author and former army officer John Durant Breval wrote of his 'great Pleasure' in finding

so many illustrious Connoisseurs, as there are at this time of Day, of the Growth of our own Island. As a Proof of the Zeal with which our Nobility and Gentry are attach'd to this noble Study, I may venture to affirm that we have now among us at least three times the Number of Antiques of all kinds, Italian paintings, and fine Medaillers, that our Ancestors could boast of at the beginning of the last Century … Our Neighbours indeed have some noble Collections (especially the French) but they are a kind of dead Treasure, the true Spirit being kept up no where out of England among People of Fashion.[26]

As Stukeley saw it, the pursuit of such collecting and learning in England had become 'so universal' that it was 'a necessary qualification for a Scholar & a Gentleman. it seems to me to carry with it a great force in enlarging the understanding of cultivating that Manly greatness of Spirit peculiar to the English, & that open-hearted honesty which distinguishes them from people of a warmer climate'.[27] His friend the Scottish antiquary Alexander Gordon reckoned England to be 'the true Seat of the Muses', and 'of all the Countries in Europe, the only Rival of Italy.'[28]

The conviction that England could be a successor to ancient Rome gained increasing ground through the eighteenth century. Indeed, at least one recent historian sees Roman literature and history as having replaced the Bible as the central text of English culture by 1700, and the term 'Augustan England' is frequently used to describe this period, after the Roman patron of the arts, Augustus Caesar.[29] When Stukeley asked rhetorically in notes made for his 'Iter Oxiense', 'What Regions boast of more Antiquity and genuine Reliques of it of all sorts? What Earth throws up so many Roman Coyns, Medals, Urns &c. that one would think Rome it selfe was transplanted in to Great Britain?'[30] he was expressing a sentiment that had caught the mood of the nation. But Stukeley's antiquarian work, especially as expressed in the Itinerarium Curiosum, also reflected a concern amongst contemporary authors that the knowledge of one's own country was an important quality in itself. Henry St John, Lord Bolingbroke, in his Letters on the Study and Use of History (1752) would observe that 'tho' an early and proper application to the study of history will contribute extremely to keep our minds free from a ridiculous partiality in favour of our own country, and a vicious prejudice against others; yet the same study will create in us a preference of affection to our own country.'[31] The study of history in the eighteenth century was very much associated with behaviour; history was a tool that taught virtue, manners and knowledge of human nature. As the Scottish philosopher David Hume would observe in 1760, the chief use of history was 'only to discover the constant and universal principles of human nature, by shewing men in all varieties of circumstances and situations, and furnishing us with materials, from which we may form our observations, and become acquainted with the regular springs of human action and behaviour.'[32] For Hume, history made up for the brevity of life and the limits of human knowledge: without history 'we should be for ever children in understanding', but history 'extends our experience to all past ages, and to the most distant nations.'[33]

Knights and Romans

This burgeoning interest in history, antiquities and connoisseurship -- highlighted by, among other things, the publication in 1695 of the expanded edition of Camden's Britannia -- led to the re-establishment of the Antiquarian Society, in which Stukeley had played a leading role. Whilst living in London in 1710 he had, with Johnson, the Gales and a few other gentlemen been part of an informal club which met at a coffeehouse near the Temple to talk about the ancient history of Britain. On his return to London in 1717 these meetings became formalized, and the Society which exists to this day was founded, with Stukeley appointed their first Secretary. The very success of a society devoted solely to antiquarian studies indicates that an awareness of the importance of the subject to an educated gentleman was gradually maturing in Britain in the early eighteenth century. However, despite his own leading role in its foundation, many of the Society's members (they were not styled 'Fellows' until the Society received its Royal charter from George II in 1751) were interested in medieval rather than more ancient history. So, not wholly contented with its activities, and to his own proposed end of reviving 'Roman glory' in Britain, in July 1722 Stukeley and a number of his friends founded the Society of Roman Knights, the 'Equites Romani'. Like Hume, Stukeley saw the importance of such societies in their ability to carry on their objectives beyond the life-span of a single person, and 'by their constant succession of members triumph over death & avoyd the common fate all things else are involved in.' He identified two relevant sorts of society, the military and the learned: 'twas a noble invention of Princes, to unite a body of brave Hero's, under the term of Knighthood.'[34] The precedents for the Roman Knights, he explained in an inaugural speech to its members, were the Royal Society and the Antiquarian Society 'whereof several persons here present are members at this time … But My Lords & Gentlemen … this days assembly is the first of the most learned Society of Roman Knighthood, rendered highly illustrious by the noble & splendid appearance here present'.[35] Members of this only short-lived society included the Earl of Winchilsea, Johnson, the Gales, John Warburton, Alexander Gordon and the engravers Gerard Vandergucht and John Price.[36] The 'knights' gave themselves nicknames from Celtic history, with Stukeley taking that of 'Chyndonax', by which he would continue to be known long after the demise of the club. He declared to his assembled friends at their first meeting that

the secret emotions which kindle in your hearts, a noble flame of recording the Antiquitys of our Country, which retrieved by your labors the most envious power of Time shall not be able to extinguish. too long has wretched ignorance & neglect of the valuable pledges of Roman Greatness & Art spread a dark & almost indissoluble [sic] Cloud over our Island …[37]

He specifically stated the position of the Roman Knights in contrast to the Society of Antiquaries who were 'busying themselves to preserve their Gothic Remains'. In contrast to this medievalism, 'the Glory is reservd for You to adorn the truly noble Monuments of the Romans in Britain & give them Roman eternity.'[38] Each member was given a brass ring ('the metal of eternity') bearing the Society's crest: a two-headed eagle holding open a book, with the motto 'Temporis Vtrivsqve Vindex'. Uniquely for a learned society of this period female members were also eligible, a line in the only meeting for which minutes are extant noting that 'the consuls were chose & members proposd for the next year, of both sex.'[39] The members were expected, like their title of knight suggested, to go out and explore the country: 'The name of Knights (equites) dictates to us that travelling is part of our province and we are so far to answer our title of Roman, as never to return home without conquests, without large spoils & trophys that merit the civic Crown.'[40]

The Society's patron was Thomas Herbert, eighth Earl of Pembroke, a good friend of Stukeley's. In his address to the Society's first meeting, Stukeley styled Pembroke as by 'the worthyness of his Ancestors' and the 'weighty employments of State' for which he was born, the 'equal to the flower of British nobility.' And by the extent of his learning, his personal dignity and 'his encouragement of art & sciences' he was 'a truly Roman Soul engrafted on British Virtue.'[41] Pembroke (1656-1733) had occupied a number of high positions in government: he had been First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and an adviser to William and then Queen Anne; he was briefly President of the Royal Society (1689-90), and Locke had dedicated his Essay on Humane Understanding to him.[42] But Pembroke is best known today for the collection of classical objects (including books, manuscripts, coins and sculpture) he amassed at his country seat of Wilton House (which had been designed by the architect Inigo Jones). This collection included many of the famous marbles brought from Italy by Arundel, and was described in 1700 as 'perhaps the most Curious and Gentlemanly Collection in Europe.'[43] Wilton was not far from Stonehenge, and Stukeley stayed there on a number of occasions whilst making his surveys of the monument, for which he enjoyed the personal assistance of the Earl himself. In an MS catalogue of the Earl's collection Stukeley noted 'how much thanks & praise is owing to the Noble Possessor from all the intelligent World [but] especially the British nation, for thus collecting in one view so vast a treasure of invaluable antiquitys, for bringing as it were all Athens to Wilton'. Such a collection, Stukeley suggested, was fitting 'for one that is inheritor to the spirit of the Roman Orator.'[44] As he told the Roman Knights, the present was so temporal as almost not to exist, such that 'time past is the object of the enquirys of this Society & time future is the terminus.'[45] For the early modern antiquary the study of antiquities had a clear and accountable importance for the future; past and future could not be separated. Stukeley declared that his Roman Knights would recover that spirit of the ancient Roman past for Britain's future glory: 'the Eternal Empire in you revives with fresh lustre & the Roman Eagle after long inactivity shakes its torpid wings, from the happy dawn & warm influence of British nobility feels new vigor again affects her lofty flight, & Phoenix like emerges out of the ashes the dust & rubbish of Antiquity to a better life.'[46]

Another of Stukeley's friends and a fellow antiquary and Roman Knight, Sir John Clerk of Penicuik (1684-1755), illustrates this sentiment well, providing a clear expression of the idea of antiquarian study as a model for the nationalistic temper. A Scot, Clerk had served on the commission to treat for the Union between England and Scotland, and had stood as an MP in the first parliament of Great Britain in 1707. In a letter of June 1726 to Roger Gale thanking him for an account he had recently sent of the Society of Antiquaries, Clerk remarked:

A little of the royall bounty & favour would be of singular use to it [the Society], but it will be hard persuading a true courtier that there is anything in the study of antiquitys above other trifling studys; & yet it may be demonstrated that nothing will tend more to promote true British spirits in the love of their countrey, liberty, & glory. One must be of a very abject frame of soul who cannot receive any impressions of this kind from the sentiments or valient actions of the Greeks & Romans … what are the heros of antiquity but so many models by which we may square our lives and actions?[47]

Gale agreed, and told Clerk that (unlike some Scottish historians) he could not think it 'a scandall for any nation to have been conquered by the Romans,' but rather it was 'a great misfortune not to have submitted to their arms'. For the Romans, 'so far from enslaving those they vanquisht' instructed them 'in arts and sciences' and looked upon them 'as fellow-citizens and freemen of Rome'.[48] As Britain's own empire grew over the next two hundred years this conception of benevolent imperial improvement would be -- in theory if not always in practice -- retained.

Stukeley's tours of England in the Itinerarium therefore offered the reader much more than the simple appreciation of local antiquities. The study of Roman remains in Britain would inspire the necessary impression of Roman civilization and liberties appropriate for an increasingly imperial country. Following a trip to Hadrian's Wall in 1725, he complained how it was

easy for some nations to magnify trifles, and in words gild over inconsiderable transactions till they swell to the appearance of an history; and some moderns have gone great lengths that way; but if any people['s] action has outdone the capacity of rhetoric, or in any place they have left historians far behind in their valour and military performances, it was in our own country … I hold myself obliged to preserve, as well as I can, the memory of such things as I saw; which, added to what future times will discover, will revive the Roman glory among us …[49]

The Romans also had an important religious role for the staunchly Anglican Stukeley. He believed their empire had been explicitly established by God to prepare for the advent of the Messiah, and for spreading Christianity throughout the Western world. Though this interpretation was by no means original to him, in 1757 he would write that the Romans were 'taken in by divine Providence: for the business to which the Jews were originally destin'd.' It was because of the Jews' 'unworthiness' for this considerable task that the Romans had persecuted them. In Stukeley's eyes, the Romans had succeeded the Jews as the chosen people, and he suggested that Moses had even predicted this in Deuteronomy. The Romans had built the roads for which they were so famous and which Stukeley had seen excavated not just for their military and trading functions, but 'for the naked feet of the apostles' so that the Gospel could be propagated to the world.[50] It was their wealth that had ultimately corrupted the Romans in turn, when they adulterated Christianity 'with superstitious fopperys … [and] their Religion & their empire dwindled together.'[51] The Roman Catholic Church was hence the modern representation of the corrupted Roman Church of old. But if the Romans had succeeded the Jews, then it was for the Protestant British to in turn succeed the Romans and to carry on their proselytizing mission: 'to be truly a classical & fine gentleman is the ready way to be a true Christian', he declared. And elsewhere he advised: 'Study the Roman history, ye Christians, ye Protestants, ye Britons, ye that sit at the helm of a State: learn to be virtuous and successful.'[52]

In Stukeley's opinion the British had to go about the process of becoming Roman, whilst at the same time taking care to avoid those errors and excesses of the Romans which had led to their downfall. By doing this, Britain would become the new Jerusalem, the country of the new Millennium. As he observed in his diary in 1741, the opening up of science would bring the dawn of the new religious truth:

England, in the person of Sir Isaac Newton, was destined by providence to open the scene. Oh may we not lose the privilege of carrying it on by our national corruption and immorality, of bringing about the fifth and last great monarchy, with the conversion of the Jews, the Kingdom of the Saints, of Grace, of Christ! May we have the honor at least of carrying it into the new world, America.[53]

Of course, by 1741 Stukeley was an ordained clergyman, and when in January 1742 he was invited to preach to the House of Commons on the anniversary of the execution of Charles I, he used the opportunity to lecture on 'National judgements the consequence of a national profanation of the Sabbath'. He declared to the assembled MPs that the liberties of Britain and 'a third part of the earth' were being threatened by that 'political comet, of a hideous size', that 'popish Babylon too near us', France. Britain's continued independence as God's 'own peculiar' depended upon 'a punctual observation of the Lord's day'. Only then would God 'continue us a flourishing people … the great bulwark against popery and arbitrary power.'[54] Again and again we discover in Stukeley the notion that Britain was a chosen nation, and it is in remarks like these that we can see how, when his Protestant ideology was harnessed to his antiquarianism, he could appeal to such a visionary artist as William Blake.

At Avebury and Stonehenge

Stukeley made his first visits to Stonehenge and Avebury on 18 and 19 May 1719, accompanied by the Gales. He was immediately fascinated by the both ancient stone circles, and made repeated visits over the next seven years, living at Avebury for weeks at a time.[55] His scrutiny did not fall solely upon the stones, either. A keen gardener familiar with the modern landscaped gardens at Wilton, Blenheim, Chatsworth and Marlborough, where features such as avenues of trees aligned themselves upon distant views of classical temples or obelisks, Stukeley was alert to the wider context of both sites.[56] In his opinion, Avebury and Stonehenge were 'theatres' and 'pictures' to be toured around in 'circuit walks'. The huge man-made Silbury Hill at Avebury made a perfect viewing platform, whilst the shallow earth embankment or 'cursus' which he was the first to discover at Stonehenge was, he suggested, a place for ancient chariot races. As he wrote in Stonehenge, it was 'not easy to enter at once, into the exceeding greatness of thought, which these people had, who founded it; bringing in all the adjacent country, the whole of nature hereabouts, to contribute its part to the work' (see figs. --).[57] At these ancient, mysterious places he could combine his eye for detail with the ready flight of his imagination.

That Stukeley was making a detailed study of the monuments became well known amongst the cognoscenti. William Derham, author of the Boyle Lectures on physico- and astro-theology, wanted an answer to the perplexing question of how Stonehenge had been built. 'I hope you, who have been curious and inquisitive in the matter,' he wrote to Stukeley, 'will inform us whence these stones were brought, and by what carriage and mechanism'.[58] In July 1723 Roger Gale wrote enthusiastically to Stukeley, who was then staying at Bath and working hard on his survey of Stonehenge, 'we shall have you come home like another Columbus from the discovery of a new world'.[59] If he could, Stukeley would have retired from medical practice altogether and devoted all his efforts to his historical labours. Roger commiserated that Stukeley's ticket in the government's lottery had not 'yet come up, so that you have certainly escaped the 10,000 l. [prize], and your good fortune is yet in embryo.' But he still wished him 'all successe in the lottery that still is left for the fortunate, as also in your searches after the rites and buildings of our ancestors, Celts, Britains, Romans, and other composers of the true born Englishman'.[60] The 'true-born Englishman' was, of course, Daniel Defoe's phrase. In his poem of that title of 1701 he had satirized the idea of a unique English national identity. As Defoe wryly observed, Romans, Saxons, Danes, Normans and many other peoples had all contributed to 'that heterogeneous thing, an Englishman.'[61] Stukeley was well-aware of this historical melting-pot of English civilization. In 'The Creation' MS, he broke off momentarily from his narrative to sing the praises of his country. He declared that the purpose of his 'Disquisition' -- and his words would stand as a manifesto for all his antiquarian studies -- was to

Endeavour to trace out the Ancestors of the Bryttons the Antient and present possessors of this most beautifull & happy of Islands, again & rightly united under one & the Same Antient Appellation, Rich, Valiant, Wise[,] Flourishing in all Learning Arts & Sciences, Lords of the Sea, Generous & Polite, but what is most inestimable Blessing Sons of that Communion which comes nearest the Original Purity & Simplicity of the Institution of Jesus Christ since the Apostolical Times, under the supreme head Ecclesiastic & Civil of a Prince, who to the German Fortitude derives to himself the Blood & all the Virtues of the old Bryttish, Scots, Saxon, Norman English Monarchs of the Bryttanic Islands.[62]

In these rushed words, he refers both to the 1707 Act of Union which had recently united England and Wales with Scotland, joining the island together for the first time as one united kingdom under the name of Great Britain, and the Hanovarian succession of 1714 which had brought the German George I to the throne. For Stukeley these had been momentous occasions. For the first time since the Roman army had left these shores, Britannia could be conceived of as a single geo-political entity.[63] These political events flavoured his antiquarian researches to a major extent.

Roger Gale had added a post script to his 1723 letter of encouragement to Stukeley, noting that 'Nobody here has yet seen Mr Twining's book', a reference to Thomas Twining's recently published Avebury in Wiltshire, The Remains of a Roman Work (1723). Any hopes that Stukeley might have had of being the first to publish a book on the antiquity had been trumped. But Twining would only be grist to Stukeley's mill. In the 1720s scholarly opinion was largely weighed in favour of the idea that Stonehenge -- and by default, Avebury -- were Roman works. This theory had first been advanced by Inigo Jones (1573-1652) in his book The Most Noteable Antiquity of Great Britain, Vulgarly called Stone-Heng on Salisbury Plain, Restored (1665), edited by his pupil John Webb (1611-1672). This contained very detailed architectonic designs, showing the supposed schematic design of the damaged Roman monument. Thomas Hearne, however, was uncertain, in two minds as to whether Stonehenge had been built by the Romans or the ancient Britains. 'I have formerly declared my self to be of Inigo Jones's Opinion,' he wrote in 1723, 'but I must needs say now that, since our old Writers unanimously make it to be Brittish … I can hardly differ from them who make it to be Brittish, tho' I cannot account for the Methods they used in erecting it.'[64] Stukeley, however, was already certain that Avebury and Stonehenge were both far older than the Roman period, dismissing Jones 'scheme' as 'a mere fiction'.[65] And he had the agreement of at least two of his friends at the Royal Society, Newton and Halley. Though Stukeley's is the name most closely associated with Stonehenge in this period, his was by no means an isolated interest. After dining with Halley on 20 April 1722, Hearne recorded in his diary that 'Dr Halley hath a strange, odd Notion that Stonehenge is as old, at least almost as old, as Noah's Floud'.[66] Stukeley had already spoken with Halley, recording that 'Dr Halley upon sight of Stonehenge Ao. 1720. brought a good Argument for its antiquity (which I have heard him repeat) from the wear of the weather', from which 'we cannot reasonably imagine it has stood less than 3000 years, & it need be may extend its date much higher.'[67] This weathering also suggested that the rough, uneven sarsens of Avebury were much older than the carefully crafted and polished trilithons of Stonehenge. Stukeley would later argue in Stonehenge that the Druids 'us'd a magnetical compass, in laying down the works' and the errors in alignment with the contemporary 'quarters of the heavens' was because 'the needle vary'd so much, at that time, from the true meridian line. I remember I open'd this affair, near 20 Years ago, to Dr Halley, who was of the same sentiment.'[68] Halley, who became a member of the Antiquarian Society in 1720, had used astronomy in his 'Discourse Tending to Prove at what Time and Place, Julius Caesar Made his first Descent upon Britain', which was published in the Philosophical Transactions in 1691. Stukeley utilized another theory of Halley's, which had also appeared in the Transactions, on the declension of the compass, to date the stone circles. In this 1692 paper Halley had written that according to historical records there was a 'gradual and universal' change in the variation of the compass from true north, so that in London 'in 112 years the direction of the Needle has changed no less than 17 degrees.'[69] By assuming a long period of change from an original north/south alignment of the temples, Stukeley calculated that Stonehenge had been constructed in 460 BC, and Avebury in 1860 BC.[70]

Newton also had taken note of Stonehenge in his researches into the origins of idolatry and ancient religion. He had observed amongst his notes that 'In England neare Salisbury there is a piece of antiquity called Stonehenge wch seems to be an ancient Prytaneum. For it is an area compassed circularly wth two rows of very great stones wth passages on all sides for people to go in and out at.'[71] A prytanion was the ancient Greek equivalent of a town hall, where the day-to-day business of the polis took place, and where the sacred hearth was located, providing the ritual and symbolic focus for the town. It was this central fire that Newton was thinking of when he used the word to describe Stonehenge. Hearne's remark that Halley's 'strange, odd Notion' associating the construction of Stonehenge with a period only shortly after the Flood squares with Newton's idea of the Prytanion, a temple representing the heliocentric universe and the true Noachic religion. Newton also speculated that there were similar temples in Africa. Stukeley recorded many years after their deaths that 'my late ingenious fr[ien]d Dr Harwood of the Commons, a lover of antiquity studys, was well acquainted with Sr Christopher Wren' who 'often spoke to him of such temples as Stonehenge being in Africa. I have heard the same thing from Sr Isaac Newton. what assertion the two knights had for such an assertion I know not'.[72] It is revealing to observe this interest in Stonehenge at the Royal Society, and that at least three of its acquainted Fellows -- Stukeley, Halley and Newton -- all dated the construction of the stones at Stonehenge to a period much more ancient than either the classical or the medieval periods.

John Aubrey and the Typology of Temples

A likely source for this increased interest in standing stone monuments was the work of the seventeenth-century Wiltshire antiquary John Aubrey. He had first recognized the Avebury stones as a man-made circle complex during a hunting expedition in January 1649, and recorded the event in his unpublished MS, 'Templa Druidum': 'the Chase led us (at length) thorough the Village of Aubury, into the Closes there: where I was wonderfull surprized at the sight of those vast stones: of which I had never heard before'.[73] With the assistance of the royal physician Walter Charleton (1619-1707), another critic of Jones's Roman design for Stonehenge, notice of Aubrey's discovery was presented at a meeting of the Royal Society in July 1663. Robert Hook recorded that 'Dr Charlton gave a description of Aubrey in Wiltshire, which seems indeed by his relation a very strange piece of antiquity, and more admirable than Stoneheng'.[74] Charlton claimed that these and other stone circles were medieval works, built by the Danes. Charleton, through a correspondence with the Danish antiquary Olaus Worm, author of Danicorum Monumetorum Libri Sex (1643), had heard of the barrows, tumuli and standing stones of that country. So Charleton argued that Stonehenge must have been constructed by the Danish invaders who had fought with the Anglo-Saxons. In Chorea Gigantum, Or, The Most Famous Antiquity of Great-Britain, Vulgarly Called Stone-Heng (1663) he wrote that Worm had furnished him 'with not onely verbal Descriptions but lively Draughts or Pictures also of sundry Antique Danish Monuments, as well in the Bulk and Rudeness of the Stones, as in the Order and Manner of their position and situation, much resembling our Stone-heng.'[75] But for Aubrey Stonehenge and other stone circles were the works of the ancient Druids, the priests of the Celts who had been persecuted by the Roman invaders (see Chapter 7). In the summer of 1663 he took Charles II on a guided tour of the site, and by 1668 when Samuel Pepys visited Avebury it had become a minor tourist attraction. Pepys, who had already bought a copy of Charleton's Chorea Gigantum in Oxford and had visited Stonehenge, was told by the villager who showed him round the Avebury stones 'that most people of learning coming by do come and view them'.[76]

Unfortunately, Aubrey's 'Monumenta Britannica', his master work on Celtic temples, went unpublished until the twentieth century. But his Druidic theory did make a brief appearance in print in Thomas Tanner's additions to the 1695 edition of Camden's Britannia.[77] Tanner paraphrased no less than seven different conjectures concerning the original builders of Stonehenge, including Aubrey's proposal that 'it was a Temple of the Druids long before the coming of the Romans.' Tanner came down on Inigo Jones's side, however, believing that the sophistication of the building 'Makes it probable, that Stonehenge was built after the Romans came in, and in imitation of some of their structures'.[78] The prevailing opinion therefore remained that the ancient Britons were simply too unsophisticated to have produced such a complex architectural structure. This argument was reiterated in 1725 when second editions of Jones and Charleton's monographs were published together in a single volume, alongside John Webb's A Vindication of Stone-Heng Restored (1665), a defence of Jones's Roman argument. (This perhaps reflects the renewed interest in the monument we have already noted, for Stukeley had recently spoken on Stonehenge and Avebury at both the Royal and Antiquarian Societies -- the Royal Society had thanked him for his 'Curious Communications' on Stonehenge as early as November 1719.[79]) At the end of his introductory account of Jones's life, the editor, Mr Browne, reviewed the varying opinions that had 'already employed the Pens of so many eminent Antiquaries' upon the subject:

Mr [Aylett] Samm[e]s, in his Britannia, will have this Structure to be Phenician; Mr Jones and Mr Webb believe it to be Roman, Mr Aubrey thinks it was British; and Dr Charleton derives it from the Danes … I cannot see, says Bishop Nicholson, why the Saxons may not have as just a Title as any, to the Honour of it. There is a Manuscript Treatise said to have been written upon this subject, by one Mr John Gibbons, and 'tis possible this Gentleman may have a different notion from all the rest.[80]

Charleton had declared that his book 'Restored' Stonehenge 'to the Danes', whilst Stukeley's Stonehenge in 1740 would 'restore' the antiquity 'to the British Druids'. A battle was clearly going on for the rightful provenance of Britain's most famous monument and the claimants were many. But in spite of the support they had received, it was not actually that difficult for a dedicated scholar to dismiss both the Romans and the Danes as the builders of Avebury and Stonehenge. Stukeley, like Aubrey, knew it could be done by collecting as much information as possible about all known stone circles and other archaeological sites, and by patient recording and measurement. Building up an accurate and detailed typology would lead to an accurate historical understanding of prehistoric sites based upon the scientific, Baconian quest for collectable data. Yet the importance of this empirical process of collection, measurement and comparison can be too easily dismissed. Aubrey had amassed information on a variety of archaeological remains, including prehistoric temples and barrows, hill-forts, castles, Roman towns and highways, and it was this methodology that provided the foundation for modern archaeology.

Stukeley therefore undertook a typology of 'Celtic' stone temple types, having written in 'Celtic Religion', 'I have chosen to call the monuments here described Celtic. therefore I must first show the reason of it'.[81] This typological programme has generally been lost behind consideration of the attempts Stukeley made to associate these structures with the Druids, and its importance has been overlooked, but it was his principal concern in his first, abandoned attempt at writing a book on this subject, the MS 'History of the Temples of the Antient Celts', written between 1722 and 1724, his first attempt at writing a book on this subject. Here he set out a list of characteristics which he considered to be common to all stone temple structures in Britain. By this he hoped to show how Avebury and Stonehenge were the works of the ancient inhabitants of Britain. In 'The History' he observed that there were five particular characteristics of these temples:

1. an Avenue or walk leading up to them …

2. an Area or plain before or around 'em where the people assembled & the sacrifices probably were prepared …

3. the Temples themselves which were generally circular & compsd of naked stones placd upright in the ground.

4. that they are generally placd on elevated ground, & in desert & uncultivated places.

5. that the place is generally ditchd about …[82]

From this list of features he concluded that 'those antient Philosophers [the Druids] seem to have had as much variety in their Sacred Architecture, as those Nations said to be more prolific.' Further evidence of his attempt to develop a typology appears in a letter Roger Gale wrote to him in 1719, concerning the small circle near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire known as the Rowlright Stones. Stukeley had visited this circle himself in 1710, but wanted further information from Gale in the light of his later studies. Gale observed that the stones were 'but a molehill to a mountain in comparison of those we saw at Stonehenge and at Abury, and seem to have been intirely of another nature and design.' He 'could observe no trench running round it … nor any marks of an avenue leading to it, nor any barrows or tumuli within view of it'.[83] Whilst the Rowlright circle actually appears to miss Stukeley's characteristics of a Celtic temple, he was still able to claim them as Celtic because 'The diameter of the outer circle of Stonehenge, and this circle at Rowldrich, are exactly equal'. Significantly, he over-ruled Gale's opinion that there were no barrows in sight of the circle, and included them in his engravings of the site, presenting them as 'Another argument of its being a Druid temple'.[84] Gales' remarks suggest that Stukeley was at an early stage formulating a typology of temple types, and that he was communicating this theory to his friends, perhaps through the meetings of the Antiquarian Society or the Roman Knights, and requesting particular observations back from them. In a sense, this harks back to the Royal Society's notes published with advice for far travellers -- what they should look for and how they should describe them.

But whilst recognizing that 'an unaccountable variety runs thro' all these Celtic works', Stukeley still believed that they had been 'formd from the same principles', and what he was proposing was a scientific typology.[85] By building up a rigid list of Celtic temples, he would be able to show that Stonehenge had the same 'Author' as all the other stone temples in Britain. From this he could dismiss Jones's claim by proceeding to the argument that one must conclude that either 'the Romans will have a new & better title to all alike, than yet has been provd on their side[,] or they must at once quit any manner of pretensions to one.'[86] In an early draft for a book on Celtic Temples Stukeley that though it was 'to me the most disagreeable task in the world to contradict' Jones's opinion, 'yet I have learnt to be superstitious in nothing. Truth & reason is my aim.'[87] For his argument to be wholly successful and for him to be able 'to lay a foundation towards retrieving this matter of so great antiquity',[88] Stukeley needed accurate measurements and detailed descriptions of as many stone temples as possible. His annotations from the manuscript of Aubrey's 'Monumenta Britannica' made in 1718 show his concern with accurate recording, making beside Aubrey's drawings such frustrated remarks as 'erroneously done', or 'This figure is inaccurate.'[89] He also complained that the drawings of stone circles in Wales by Aubrey's friend Edward Lhwyd (1660-1709) in his Archaeologia Britannica (1707), which 'are so imperfect that where he is not very particular in description & measure they are of little service.'[90] In 1722, when he gave instructions to a young draughstman, Hercules Ayleway, to make a description of the stone circle in Kent known as Kitt's Cotty House, he was careful to emphasize the necessity for objective observation. Ayleway wrote that he had visited the stones and had made his drafts and descriptions, 'According to your orders', and assured Stukeley 'I have added nothing of my own.'[91] Only through accurate comparisons could authoritative conclusions be drawn, and Stukeley was aware that this would be a time-consuming project beyond the capacities of a single man. He thus described his researches as but 'pregnant materials' for 'future times … to work upon, & when others of like nature shall be brought in competition therewith, & many monuments of a kind compar'd together [they shall] mutually explain each other.'[92] The foundation for this measuring project would be his 'Druid's cubit', an attempt to ascertain a standard of measurement used throughout the ancient stone monuments of Britain, akin to more modern attempts to establish a 'megalithic yard'.[93] At the beginning of Stonehenge he explained that this was 'the same individual measure, call'd the Hebrew, Egyptian, Phoencian cubit; most probably deriv'd from Noah and Adam.'[94]

As well as those writers such as Aubrey and Lhywd already mentioned, Stukeley's other sources for information on stone circles included Martin Martin's A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland (1703). Martin (d. 1719), a Scot, had identified the spectacular stone circle and avenue of Callanish on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides as a temple of the Druids, and this attribution gave considerable support to the argument that the ancient British Druids could have built Stonehenge.[95] It also drew attention to the existence of structures beyond the area of experience of English antiquaries, and well outside the known area of influence of the Romans. In describing the ancient monuments of Orkney, Martin also remarked upon the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar, noting that they 'are believed to have been Places design'd to offer Sacrifice in time of Pagan Idolatry; and for this reason the People called them the Ancient Temples of the Gods'.[96] These examples extended further afield to include the work of the Danish antiquary Ole Worm and the German traveller Johann Georg Keysler (1693-1743). Keysler had visited England, and in 1718 was made a Fellow of the Royal Society. There he met Stukeley who described him as his 'ingenious' friend. In 1720 Keysler published an account of the megaliths of northern Europe in his Antiquitates Selectae Septentrionales et Celticae. Another source was Sir John Chardin (1643-1713), who had travelled in Turkey, Persia and India, and published notes from his travels. These included the temple at Persepolis, which became an important example for Stukeley: he considered it to be 'no other than a temple precisely made as our Celtic ones of single stones & portals, except that their's are square.'[97] Another travel book with exciting material that allowed Stukeley to draw even broader comparisons was Edward Cooke's A Voyage to the South Sea, and Round the World (1712).[98] Cooke had sailed up the east coast of America, from Chile, Peru and Mexico to California in 1710-11. In his account of Peru and its ancient inhabitants, the Incas, Cooke wrote of a town

called Tiahuanuco, of whose wonderful structures it will not be amiss to add a few words. One of these is an artificial Mount, made by Hand, of a prodigious Height … but to what End, or by whom it was erected, is not known… There is also a very great Wall, of such Immense Stones, that it is amazing to think how they could be brought thither … The Natives affirm, that all these were standing before the Days of the Incas[99]

Stukeley noted down this passage, and the resonance between its description of South American antiquities and Avebury and Stonehenge is obvious, from a man-made hill analogous to Silbury Hill to the immense stones whose origins are older than the memories of the local inhabitants. He also had first hand contact with the antiquaries at the Egyptian Society founded in London in December 1741.[100] These included scholars such as the Earl of Sandwich, Richard Pococke, Charles Perry and Frederick Ludvig Norden, all of whom had travelled in Egypt and all of whose accounts of their travels were subsequently published. Stukeley was particularlay impressed by Norden's 'amazing collections of drawings'. From these, he observed that 'there are very many intire temples left, of a stupendous grandeur … many prodigious obelisks set before the temples'. Norden also informed Stukeley that back in his home country of Denmark there were 'many of the Druids altars left, which they know to be such'.[101] Pococke, who became bishop of Ossory, would draw Stukeley's attention to the similarities he perceived between Irish monuments and those he had seen in Egypt and the Near East.[102]

Stukeley's emphasis on observation, measurement, recording, reading and correspondence with other antiquaries and travellers remained crucial throughout his life. In 1749, over twenty years after his own Wiltshire fieldwork, he wrote to William Borlase thanking him for his 'accurate drawings' of the Cornish stone circles the Hurlers, Boscawen-Un, and Men an Tol. But Stukeley went on to request further information from him, of the type he had also expected from Roger Gale and Ayleway. Since, as he informed Borlase, the

measure by paces being inaccurate, I wish you would send me the exact diameter of the three circles of the Hurlers in English feet, and the intermediate intervals; likewise the bearing of the line that connects them, as exact as you can, by a compass; also a description of their situation, in regard to the ground, to any spring-head. Where came the stones from? Are there not tumulus's near them?

Of Biscaw Wn I want to know its true diameter in feet, and the bearing of the line between the kist vaen and the central obelisc or kebla, and a description of its situation. What spring-head near it? What tumulus's?[103]

Clearly Stukeley was not satisfied with rough, estimated or only partial data. Borlase in turn came to recognize the importance of measurement himself. Whilst he noted in his Observations on the Antiquities Historical and Monumental, of the County of Cornwall in 1754 that John Toland had written a history of the Druids, 'I doubt whether ever he copied or measur'd one Monument, and the authorities upon which he asserts many extraordinary particulars, have never yet been produc'd.' Whilst Borlase found that the Welsh antiquary Henry Rowland 'took a better method to advance this kind of Learning' as he 'examin'd a great variety of Druid Monuments in Angelsea' he still criticized his drawings, and Borlase wrote that he had become 'convinc'd of the necessity of copying the original Monuments', for which practice he praised Stukeley in particular.[104] In 1776 an anonymously published Description of Stonehenge, Abiry &c. concurred with this whole methodology, and shows how a definition of stone circles had gradually developed that included all such structures under one provenance through this procedure. The author, acknowledging Stukeley's work to this end, observed that stone circles were 'manifestly formed upon the same design, by the same measure, and for the same purpose, all over the British isles … Nor is there the least well-grounded pretense for ascribing the foundation of them to any other persons or people [than the Druids]. They are circles of stone, generally rude, of different diameters, upon elevated ground, and on open heaths or downs.'[105] Stukeley's work, founded on Aubrey, had at last paid off.

The Birth of Modern 'Archaeology'

By the late seventeenth century, antiquities were being regarded by some scholars as historical sources in themselves. Aubrey had noted in reading Camden's Britannia details of a stone monument in Denbighshire called Kerrig y Drudion, the etymology of which had suggested to him the survival of the name of its original builders, the Druids. He termed this discovery 'the Hinge of this Discourse' in the manuscript of 'Monumenta Britannica'.[106] Aubrey's 'Monumenta Britannica' has been described by his biographer, Michael Hunter, as 'the first English book that can be called 'archaeological' in the modern sense.'[107] Hunter also observes that 'the origin and growth of archaeology depended on the realization that such uninscribed antiquities, if collected and compared, could lead to conclusions not available from historical sources.'[108] The word 'archaeology' itself is derived from the Greek words archaeo, meaning ancient or primitive, and logia, meaning word or discourse, and in the eighteenth century it simply meant the study of ancient history. It did not acquire its modern meaning of the scientific study and excavation of ancient remains and monuments until the mid nineteenth century. But digging was certainly part of Stukeley's methodological repertoire. Not surprisingly given his profession, he considered excavation to be 'like an anatomical dissection'. As it resulted in destroying what was to be looked at there was 'some seeming cruelty in the operation; but there is a great pleasure & in struction resulting from it to such adepts as are fit to be admitted into the secrets of art or nature.'[109] As he explained in his account of an excavation of a Roman road near Stamford in the 1730s, he had a labourer cut a cross-section with a spade and clean its edge 'in the most advantageous manner. So that we had the exact form & dimension of the artificial road, as it was laid originally upon the natural earth' (see fig. --). As well as recognizing the importance of a clean cross-section that could then be accurately recorded, he also recognized the principal of stratigraphy. Observing that the 'cloathing of turf' that overlay the road was 'a natural accretion, owing to the effort of time', as the turf grew over the buried thoroughfare it 'became thicker every century in some small proportion. I have taken divers observations about it, in order to settle that proportion. then perhaps we may be able to give a near guess of the antiquity of roads, barrows & the like from the thickness of the turf upon them.' He noted that in time this principal could be 'extended to important points of chronology', and by comparing the depth of turf on 'artificial works' of known date, '& that of the natural & aboriginal surface of the earth, in proper places, we may perhaps deduce the distance of time since Noahs deluge'.[110] It does not appear that he ever actually attempted this, but it was in itself a preceptive discovery.

Similar researches to Stukeley's were being undertaken in north Wales by another clergyman, Henry Rowlands. In Mona Antiqua Restaurata: An Archaeological Discourse on the Antiquities, Natural and Historical, of the Isle of Anglesey, the Antient Seat of the British Druids (1723), Rowlands attempted 'to calculate the Archaeology' of the island from the Deluge to the Roman conquest. Though he accepted that written memoirs and records were important in such an historical study, 'But where those Lights are wanting,' he asked, 'what shall we do? Shall we lie down and wallow with our Forefathers in the general Slumber, blaming the past AGES for leaving us in the Dark …?' His answer was an emphatic 'no', for to do that would be 'to act unfaithfully with the Design of Nature; Knowledge is her gift from GOD unto us; and we ought to employ all the Means and helps she affords, to improve and enlarge it.' Historical events that had occurred in the period before writing (i.e. prehistory) did not need to remain in darkness. There was other evidence besides written records available to the discerning historian, including:

Analogy of Antient Names and Words: Ancient Laws, Constitutions, and Customs: Coins and Medals; Erections, Monuments, and Ruins: Idifices and Inscriptions: The Appellations of Places: The Genius and Tempers, and Inclinations and Complexions of People; and a Variety of such REMARKS, which afford here and there little strinkling Lights, to be cautiously and warily made use of, and which we ought likewise to scan and examine jointly and severally, and from them extract such secondary supplies and Assistances, as may help to fill up, and enlighten these obscure Chasms and interlineary Spaces of Time, which interpose the brighter Stroaks, and more undeniable Certainties of RECORDS …[111]

Stukeley never met 'The learned Mr Rowland',[112] but he read his book and shared his opinion on the potential of these alternative sources of historical knowledge, confirming as they did his own theories on Druid religion and stone circles.

But Stukeley was, of course, concerned with much more than simply showing that stone circles were build by the Druids of the ancient Celts. If the Druids had built these temples, what could this tell us about history, about natural philosophy, about religion? Plenty. If Stukeley could prove that the Druids were the builders of Stonehenge and other stone circles, he could also prove that the ancient Britains had had a greater grasp of science than some sceptics, such as Hearne, might accept. Proof of their skill in building in turn could be taken as evidence for their abilities in science, as suggested by the classical sources, and this in turn would be important for Stukeley's interpretation of Druidic religion within the prisca theologica. Though many considered the ancient Britons as technically too unsophisticated to have built Stonehenge, yet the Druids were at the same time thought to have held a surprising degree of philosophical knowledge. As John Woodward wrote of the ancient Britons in 1723, 'There was little or nothing that could claim the Name of Science among them. What they had was lodg'd with the Druids, who were the Devines and Philosophers of those Times'.[113] To fully comprehend this paradox it is necessary to retreat deep into the recesses of ancient history. In my next chapter I shall attempt to uncover more information about the ancient theology, before turning to the ancient and modern histories of the Druids themselves in Chapter 7.

[1] Stukeley, diary, 19 October 1754, in SS 3, p. 140.

[2] Black (1985) p. 7.

[3] Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 533 f. 16v.

[4] Ibid. f. 21v.

[5] Ibid. f. 16v.

[6] Johnson to Stukeley, 6 April 1714, Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 113, f. 225.

[7] The book is dated 1724 Old Style. Centuria II was published posthumously in 1776.

[8] Stukeley (1724) pp. 2-3.

[9] James Robertson, Monthly Review 37 (1767) quoted in Batten (1978) p. 94. See also Black (1985) p. 242.

[10] Thomas Pennant London Magazine 47 (1778) p.179, quoted in Batten (1978) p. 94.

[11] Stukeley (1724) p. 3.

[12] Brome (1700) p. ii.

[13] Ibid. p. viii.

[14] Ibid. p. ix.

[15] Defoe (1724) pp. iii, vi

[16] Furbank and Owens (1993) p. 285. But as we saw in the introduction, later editions of the book did include references to antiquities.

[17] Ibid. 'introduction' p. x.

[18] Parry (1995) pp. 4-5, 44.

[19] Ibid. p. 139.

[20] Rowlands (1723) p. 136

[21] Ibid. pp. 136-7.

[22] See Whiston (1712).

[23] Bede, A History of the English Church and People, chapter 30 (London, 1968), pp. 86-87.

[24] Quoted in Force (1985) p. 127.

[25] Stukeley (1980) p. 89.

[26] Breval (1726) unpaginated preface.

[27] Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 323 f. 81.

[28] Gordon (1726) unpaginated preface.

[29] See Zwicker, (1988) pp. 37-64; on 'the Augustans' see Weinbrot (1978).

[30] Stukeley BM Lans. MSS 688 f. 16.

[31] St John (1752) 'Letter II' p.31.

[32] Hume (1760) vol. 3, p. 130

[33] Ibid. vol. 1, p. 67.

[34] Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 401 f. 16.

[35] Ibid. f. 17.

[36] Ibid. ff. 8-9.

[37] Ibid. f. 15.

[38] Ibid. f. 19.

[39] Ibid. f. 9, 11 November 1724.

[40] Ibid. f. 22.

[41] Ibid. f. 17.

[42] DNB.

[43] Humfrey Wanley to Arthur Charlett, 19 December 1700, Bod MS Ballard 13, f. 91.

[44] Bod. MS Top. Wilts. e. 6 f. ii.

[45] Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 401 f. 23.

[46] Ibid. f. 22.

[47] Sir John Clerk to Roger Gale, 2 June 1726, SS 1, p. 184.

[48] Roger Gale to Sir John Clerk, 24 June 1726, SS 3, pp. 87-8.

[49] Stukeley (1776) p. 81.

[50] Stukeley (1757) pp. 14, 19, 17. Stukeley expressed this belief in 1732, in CCCC MS 617, where he also suggested that St Paul had come to Britain: 'the clouds of barbarism were broke by the Roman eagles, & made pervious to the meek rays of the Gospel.'.

[51] Stukeley CCCC MS 617 f. 9.

[52] Ibid. f. 29; Stukeley (1757) p. 18.

[53] Stukeley, diary 19 March 1741, quoted in SS 2, p. 351.

[54] Stukeley (1742) pp. 19-22.

[55] Bod. MS Eng. misc. e. 390 f. 7.

[56] For a full elaboration of the influence of eighteenth-century landscape gardens on Stukeley's archaeology see Haycock (1999). Stonehenge was certainly intended by its builders to be a focal point in what was very probably a complex ritual landscape; see Burl (2000) 349-55.

[57] Stukeley (1740) p. 35.

[58] Derham to Stukeley, 22 February 1726, in Nichols (1817) p. 799.

[59] SS 3, pp. 242-3.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Daniel Defoe, Works (1871) vol. 5, p. 437.

[62] Stukeley FM MS Stu (1) ff. 4-5; on ideas of British nationality and self-definition in this period see Colley (1992), Lesley (1991), Miller (1995), Newman (1987), and Withers (1995a and 1995b).

[63] The Romans never actually conquered the whole of Britannia, Hadrian's Wall being a testament to both their strength and failure. The 'German Fortitude' refers of course to the Hanovarian king George I, who had succeeded Queen Anne in 1714.

[64] See Hearne (1906-1921) vol. 7, pp. 89-90, 20 June 1723.

[65] Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 323 f. 93.

[66] Hearne (1906-1921) vol. 7, p. 350.

[67] Stukeley Cardiff MS 4.253 ff. 2-3.

[68] Stukeley (1740) p. 57.

[69] Halley (1692) p. 565.

[70] Stukeley (1740) p. 5 and (1743) p. 53. It is unclear whether Halley argued for the antiquity of Stonehenge solely from the wear of its stones, or from some other argument as well. The most recent archaeological report on the site indicate that Stonehenge had a construction period spanning approximately from 3200 BC to 1600 BC. Using radiocarbon dating, the first wooden henge has been dated to c. 3100 BC, whilst the main Sarsen circle and trilithons are dated to the third phase of rebuilding, roughly in the period around 2400 BC, and was possibly never finished; see Burl (2000) pp. 351-2 and Cleal et al (1995) pp. 6-8. Avebury likewise had a prolonged sequence of development, from the first coves built around 3400-3200 BC to the bank, ditch and main megalithic ring constructed c. 2600 BC; see Burl (2000) p. 319. The long barrows that ring both sites are older still, dating from the Early Neolithic.

[71] Newton Yahuda MS 41, ff. 3r--3v, quoted in Iliffe (1989) p. 82. This passage has been heavily erased by Newton, and is almost illegible.

[72] Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. e. 390 ff. 5-6. A paper on an a stone structure called 'Ras Sem' located '17 days journey south east from Tripoli, by the caravan', Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. e.389 f. 14

[73] John Aubrey, 'Monumenta Britannica or a Miscellanie of British Antiquities', vol. 1, Bod. MS Top. Gen. c. 24 f. 23. John Leland and William Camden both mentioned Avebury in passing. On Aubrey see Ucko et al (1991) pp. 8-35, and Hunter (1975). The spelling of place names was quite flexible at this date, and noting its closeness to his own name Aubrey used an eponymous spelling. Stukeley used both 'Abury', 'Aubrey' and 'Avebury'.

[74] Robert Boyle, Works edited by Thomas Birch (5 vols, London 1744), quoted in Ucko et al (1991) p. 17.

[75] Charleton (1663) pp. 29-30.

[76] The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Volume 9, edited by Robert Latham and William Matthews (London 1976) pp. 226, 240.

[77] Ucko et al (1991) pp. 35-6. Stukeley had read Thomas Gales' notes, made from Aubrey's manuscript, in 1718, and Ucko et al (1991) p. 47 point out Stukeley's 'lack of generosity' in crediting Aubrey for his earlier ideas on Avebury, and that he 'almost certainly perceived Aubrey as a threat to his own role as the discoverer of the significance of the site'.

[78] Quoted in Piggott (1989) p. 115.

[79] Royal Society JBC Vol. XI f. 400.

[80] Browne (1725). Sammes' Britannia Antiqua Illustrata had been published in 1676: see Chapter 7. Bishop Nicholson is perhaps William Nicholson (1591-1672), bishop of Gloucester. Thomas Hearne asked the antiquary James West to try and locate Gibbon's alleged manuscript in February 1725, but it transpired to be a fruitless search. West informed Hearne that there was 'nothing relating to Stonehenge' among Gibbon's manuscripts, 'except a Leaf at the end of Dr Charlton's printed Book, which is, indeed, wrote by Mr Gibbon, but contains only extracts from Charlton, without any mention of its being British.' See Hearne (1906-21) vol. 8 pp. 329-39.

[81] Stukeley Cardiff MS 4.26 ff. 125-9. His sources for this nomenclature of 'Celt' included Strabo, Caesar, Tacitus, Aristotle, Plato and Pliny.

[82] Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 323 f. 21.

[83] Stukeley SS 3 pp. 153-4. Stukeley refers to this letter in Abury (1743) p. 11.

[84] Stukeley (1743) p. 12. Stukeley's 'long barrow' is actually a natural feature. Burl (2000), pp. 300-6, uses the circle's measurement, in 'Cumbrian Yards', to identify it as a Cumbrian circle.

[85] Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 323 f. 37.

[86] Ibid. f. 84.

[87] Ibid. f. 93.

[88] Ibid. f. 79

[89] Stukeley 'Common place book' (1717-1748) Devizes MS ff. 21, 24.

[90] Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 323 ff. 47-9.

[91] Hercules Ayleway to Stukeley, 28 March 1722, quoted in SS 2, pp. 225-7.

[92] Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 323 f. 173.

[93] See Ucko et al (1991), pp. 80-1.

[94] Stukeley (1740) p. 6.

[95] Owen (1962) p. 110.

[96] Martin (1703) p. 365. See also Philosophical Transactions no. 254, p. 231 for Fraser's account of Scottish stones which Stukeley read: he 'acquaints us that the Pagan Temples or high places of Idolatry are still very numerous'. Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 323 ff. 23-59.

[97] Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 323 f. 75.

[98] Ibid.

[99] Cooke (1712) vol. 1 pp. 220, 268-9; Stukeley refers in his MS notes to 'V. Cokes voyages p. 255 Vol. I the works at Tiahanues. Stones 30. foot long 15. broad & his description of the temple of the sun p. 219.' In comparing the edition I have used, Stukeley's p. 219 refers to p. 220, and his p. 255 refers to Cooke's pp. 268-9.

[100] Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. e. 124 f. 85.

[101] Ibid. ff. 92-3.

[102] Stukeley, Bod. MS Eng. misc. e. 125, f. 40.

[103] Stukeley to Borlase, 17 October 1749, quoted in Pool (1966) pp. 11-2.

[104] Borlase (1754) 'To the Reader'.

[105] Anon. (1776) pp. 1-2.

[106] Parry (1995) p. 289.

[107] Hunter (1975) p. 159.

[108] Ibid. p. 160.

[109] 'Stanfordia Illustrata Vol. II', CCCC MS 618, ff. 43-7. The MS is written in classical style as a dialogue between Stukeley ('Palaephatus') and Warburton ('Panagius'): see Bod. MS Eng. misc. e. 121 f. 132.

[110] Ibid. ff. 47-8.

[111] Rowlands (1723) unpaginated preface.

[112] Stukeley (1743) p. 48.

[113] Woodward (1713) p. 217.

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