Chapter 7: 'Much Greater, Than Commonly Imagined.'

It was Posidonius (c.135-51 BC), the Greek writer who travelled widely in the western Mediterranean, including Gaul, who in his Histories first mentioned the Druids. Though only fragments of his fifty-two books on the history of the world survive, his writings on the Druids either influenced or were used by three further writers: the Greek geographer Strabo (64 BC--c.24 AD), who knew Posidonius personally; the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (first century BC); and the Roman general and dictator Gaius Julius Caesar (100-44 BC), who led the first Roman invasions of Britain in 55 and 54 BC. Almost all of the classical literature describing the Druids refers only to Gaul, with Caesar and the Roman historian Tacitus (c. 56--c. 120 AD) alone referring to the Druids in Britain. In three short paragraphs in his account of The Gallic War, Caesar described the Druids as responsible for 'divine worship, the due performance of sacrifices … and the interpretation of ritual questions'. He also wrote that 'It is believed that their rule of life was discovered in Britain and transferred thence to Gaul', and observed that 'to-day those who would study the subject more accurately journey, as a rule, to Britain to learn it.'[1] This observation lent great stature to the British Druids, and in 1747 John Wood, the architect of Bath, would describe the standing stones at Stanton Drew as the site of the 'University' 'or great school of learning' of the Druids.[2] It was also observed by Caesar that the Druids did not write down their religious utterances, but learnt them by heart, and that 'in their public and private accounts, they make use of Greek letters.' Probably drawing from Posidonius, Caesar wrote that the Druids had 'many discussions as touching the stars and their movements, the size of the universe and of the earth, the order of nature, the strength and the powers of the immortal gods'. He also noted the Druids' belief 'that souls do not die, but after death pass from one to another', and their gruesome practice of human sacrifice. Tacitus, meanwhile, recorded the Roman's massacre of British Druids on the island of Mona in AD 60, and the destruction of the 'groves consecrated to their savage cults'.[3]

It was the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder (c. 23-79 AD), who referred to Druidic magic and medicine in his Natural History, and to their worshipping in oak groves and venerating mistletoe. According to Diodorus, the Druids were 'philosophers' and 'men learned in religious affairs … experienced in the nature of the divine'.[4] Strabo noted their pursuit of natural and moral philosophy, an observation which concurred with Caesar's account, whilst the Romano-Spanish geographer Pomponius Mela recorded in the first-century AD that the Druids knew 'the size and shape of the world, the movements of the heavens and of the stars.'[5] From the references by Diodorus, Strabo and Caesar that the Celts believed in the immortality of the soul, the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus (c.330-395 AD)considered the Druids to have been Pythagoreans, and described them as 'elevated by their investigation of obscure and profound subjects'.[6] By the time of the early Christian writers, therefore, the Druids could be written of not only as wholly Pythagorean, but the very invention of that school of philosophy could be attributed to them. The Greek Christian writer St Clement of Alexandria (c.150-215) actually wrote that before philosophy came to Greece it had 'flourished in antiquity among the barbarians … First in its ranks were the prophets of the Egyptians, and the Chaldeans among the Assyrians, and the Druids among the Gauls … and the philosophers among the Celts.'[7] By the third century Hippolytus, 'bishop' of Portus, could write that the Druids had not only 'profoundly examined the Pythagorean faith', but had been instructed in it by the mythical Thracian Zalmoxis, said to have been a pupil of Pythagoras himself. In his Refutation of All Heresies he wrote of them as if they were equals of Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.[8] And also writing in the third century AD Diogenes Laertius, quoting the pre-Christian peripatetic philosopher Sotion, spoke of the Druids -- along with the Magi of Persia and the Brahmins of India -- as the actual originators of the study of philosophy.[9]

It is essential to realize, therefore, that many of the connections associating the knowledge of the Druids with ancient learning were made by classical historians and philosophers. Eighteenth-century antiquaries and theologians such as Stukeley, Borlase and Rowlands were not simply inventing tenuous associations, but building (however inventively or speculatively) upon a much older tradition based upon the authority of classical and patristic records, a tradition that had been utilized in English literature since at least the sixteenth century. For Leland and Camden, as well as the bishop of Ossory John Bale in The Actes of Englysh Votaries (1546) and the Elizabethan chronicler Raphael Holinshed in The First Volume of the Chronicles of England (1577), all mentioned the Druids in their historical works, whilst Thomas Caius of Oxford and John Caius of Cambridge both claimed the philosophical Druids as the first founders of their respective universities.[10] Michael Drayton, a friend of the antiquaries Camden and John Stow, referred to the Druids in his topographical poem Poly-Olbion (1612-1622), which mingled the history and legends of old England. In a commentary to the poem, the highly respected historian and orientalist John Selden wrote that 'the Druids, being in profession very proportionat in many things to Cabalistique and Pythagorean doctrine, may well be suppos'd much antienter then any that had note of learning among the Romans.'[11] John Milton in his political pamphlet Areopagitica (1644) wrote of Britain that 'the studies of learning in her deepest Sciences have bin so ancient, and so eminent among us, that Writers of good antiquity, and ablest judgement have bin perswaded that ev'n the school of Pythagoras, and the Persian wisdom took beginning from the old Philosophy of this Iland.'[12] Twenty years later in Syntagma de Druidism Moribus ac Institutis (1664), written whilst he was a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, Thomas Smith (1638-1710) gathered together all the information he could find on the Druids contained in the classical texts. In this erudite study, which cited sources in the original Greek, Syriac, Hebrew and Arabic, Smith demonstrated the Druids' role in handing down the ancient wisdom which had passed from Adam to the Patriarchs and to the poets of ancient Greece. He postulated that the Brahmins took their name from the biblical Abraham, and that the religion of the Druids had also originated with him.[13] A. L. Owen has written that to Smith's seventeenth-century readers, 'it may have seemed that one of the deepest and most widely read of scholars had at last become convinced of the truth of what had hitherto only been a daring conjecture.'[14]

Sir William Temple in his essay 'Upon Ancient and Modern Learning' (1690) also included the Druids and their Bards along with the Gauls, Goths and Incas of Peru as peoples who all had a group of men specially devoted to learning. Temple suggested that these 'Learned Men' may have had recourse to an even more ancient source of learning, and therefore their knowledge should not be dismissed out of hand, for the Druids and Incas 'were, or may have been … Antients to those that are Ancients to us'. Temple considered it 'enough to shew, that the advantage we have, from those we call the Antients, may not be greater, than what they had, from those that were so to them.'[15] That is to say, might not the giants of the ancients have stood on the shoulders of even greater, even more ancient giants, of whom we now knew nothing? The following decade in a short essay appended to William Sacheverell's An Account of the Isle of Man (1702) Thomas Brown considered whether the island had been 'the principal Seat of the Ancient Druids' called Mona where the massacre described by Tacitus had taken place.[16] Brown believed 'the most probable Opinion' was that 'these famous Celtick Philosophers … like all the other Professors of Learning [came] from the most Eastern parts of the World' rather than from Greece or Gaul. He referred to the opinion of Archbishop John Spotswood (1565-1639), that the Druids were monotheists and non-idolators, concluding that if is this were true, then 'we have yet a clearer proof that they borrowed the best and soundest part of their Theology, from the ancient Eastern Sages, that were always profest Enemies to Polytheism and Idolatry, and Adored one supreme Being, without any Idol or Representation.'[17]

Added to this extensive philosophical and literary material was the historical tradition, developed from the writings of John Leland by William Lambard, Archbishop Matthew Parker and John Pits, that the teachings of the Druids had facilitated the conversion of the British to Christianity.[18] Camden, in discussing the arrival of Christianity in Britain, referred in Britannia to a remark by the Greek Church Father Origen (AD 185-254) that the British had received Christianity so readily because they were prepared for it 'by their Druids … who always taught them to believe that there was but one God.'[19] John Speed in The History of Great Britain (1611) observed that the Emperor Claudius had persecuted both Druids and Christians, and inferred from this that Claudius believed Druidism savoured 'too much of Christianitie.'[20] And Thomas Jones in The Heart and its Right Sovereign (1678) found the Druids' 'sublime and unparallel'd Metaphysicks' 'touching God, and Soul, and the Holy Discipline' proved they were quite capable of appreciating and responding to the merits of Christianity.[21] Stukeley's 'Catalogue of Druids' MS shows he was thoroughly familiar with all the ancient texts (as well as most of those by modern authors), though he did note the limitations of these sources, observing in Abury, for example, that whilst Pliny 'has a great deal about the Druids fondness for snakes' yet it was 'a little unintelligible, as we find most of what authors have said concerning them.'[22] Nevertheless, he believed the Romans' persecution of the Druids, Christians and Jews together suggested a 'similitude' between them 'much greater, than commonly imagined.'[23]

When our recognition of this classical and early modern tradition of the learning of the ancient Britons is united within the early eighteenth-century historical context of a Newtonian revival of ancient learning discussed in the previous chapter, we have a powerful relationship between Stukeley's natural philosophical concerns and his antiquarian researches. It is evident that any early eighteenth-century writer wishing to study the Druids had available to him a substantial amount of literature, largely agreeing on a number of key points: first, that the British Druids were proficient philosophers who derived their learning from the East, perhaps from Pythagoras or Abraham; second, that their worship was monotheistic; third, that their religion was not wholly in opposition to the reception of Christianity, and in fact had assisted in the conversion of the Britons; and four, that they fulfilled a role as the holders of ancient knowledge. Stukeley noted that St Clement of Alexandria 'quotes from the famous Alexander Polyhistor that Pythagoras himself learned both from the Druids & the Brachmans, from the western & from the eastern philosophers'. He also noted that the Brachmans or Bramines in turn derived their name from Abraham 'as the learned are agreed.'[24] If the Druids were around at the birth of natural philosophy, then they were also there at the birth of religion, for as Newton had showed the two were synonymous. Given this perceived relationship between the Druids and the religion and knowledge of the East, how exactly did scholars believe it had reached Britain? The answer to this question was provided by those celebrated ancient Mediterranean seafarers, the Phoenicians.

According to modern scholarship the Phoenicians were an ancient Semitic people who called themselves Kinahu, or Canaanites, but were known to the Greeks as Phoinikes, 'purple men', probably from the purple cloth they wore. While they originated from the coastal district of what is now Lebanon, with their principal city there being Tyre (hence their sometimes being known as Tyrians), by the ninth century BC the Phoenicians had become the dominant sea traders of the Mediterranean. They founded small independent trading colonies in Cyprus, Sardinia, Sicily and southern Spain, and established Carthage in northern Africa. There they mined and traded in metals such as copper, tin, silver and gold, and according to Herodotus even sailed on an exploratory circumnavigation around the coast of Africa. They were also accomplished craftsmen famous for their skills as builders, and were employed to construct Solomon's Temple at Jerusalem in the tenth century BC. According to Tacitus, the Phoenicians described themselves as the inventors of the phonetic alphabet, and they 'imparted the knowledge into Egypt'.[25] In his Geography Strabo wrote of a group of islands called the Cassiterides, and these were commonly identified with the Scilly Isles, where the Phoenicians traded for tin. In Agricola Tacitus remarked that colonies had been established in Britain by the Iberians -- who according to Strabo were themselves of Phoenician origin.[26] In 1646 the French scholar Samuel Bochart (1591-1667) published Geographica Sacra, an extensive history of the Phoenicians. There he suggested that the Phoenicians had sailed, traded and settled colonies as far afield as Persia, India and the Americas. He devoted a whole chapter to the evidence of a Phoenician presence in Britain and Ireland, using classical sources to support his claim. Whilst visiting France Theophilus Gale (1628-1678), a sometime Fellow of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, and a nonconformist clergyman, met Bochart, and was influenced by the Frenchman's historical researches. In The Court of the Gentiles (1669) Gale proposed to show that 'the wisest of the Heathens stole their choicest Notions and Contemplations both Phililogic, and Philosophic, as wel Natural and Moral, as Divine, from the sacred [i.e. Biblical] Oracles.' In Gale's opinion, Egypt was the geographic centre at which heathen and Jewish learning met, and he showed that Orpheus, Homer, Hesiod and Pythagoras all spent time there. Gale noted that Plato had also spent time studying in Egypt, where he 'derived the choicest of his contemplations, both Physiologick and Theologick, originally if not immediately, from the Jewish Church and sacred Oracles'.[27] Gale devoted a number of chapters of his book to a discussion of the Phoenicians and the 'Tyrian' Hercules. He believed the Phoenicians were responsible for transporting 'their choicest Mysteries, and Traditions' -- derived from the Jews -- around Asia, Africa and the sea coasts of Europe, including Britain.[28] Gale wrote that whilst it was disputed who this Phoenician Hercules actually was, and when exactly he had lived, he identified him with the Hercules of ancient legend. He believed 'That the most ancient Hercules was not a Grecian, but a Tyrian, or Phenician Hero, and the same with Joshua, may be concluded by what we find of him in Lucian, Eusebius, and others.'[29] Gale connected the Phoenicians to the pristine theology tradition: of Man's Creation, Fall and forthcoming Redemption in the shape of a Messiah, he believed 'the blind Pagans had also no small discoveries, as we may presume, from Scripture, or Jewish Tradition originally. Indeed I find no Heathen to discourse more Divinely of the Fall of Man th[a]n Plato.'[30] As we shall see below, Gale's 'Tyrian Hercules' was a clear influence for Stukeley.

In England, Samuel Bochart's book also inspired Aylett Sammes (1636-1679), an Essex lawyer who had studied at Christ's College, Cambridge. He declared in the preface to his Britannia Antiqua Illustrata (1676) his belief 'that the language itself for the most part, as well as the Customs, Religions, Idols, Offices, Dignities of the Ancient Britons are all clearly Phoenician'.[31] Sammes made use of some dubious etymology to reveal the relationship between Punic words and British place names, but again there was some classical and scholarly authority for his arguments. Julius Caesar had recorded that the Druids had used Greek, whilst the Hebrew and Arabic scholar and fellow of Caius College, Cambridge, Robert Sheringham (1602-1679) -- whom Sammes may have known personally -- had identified many similarities between British/Welsh words and Greek in his De Anglorum Gentis Origine Disceptatio (1670).[32] Sammes' opinions were even seriously considered by the scholar and clergyman Edmund Gibson (1669-1748) when he was editing his new, expanded edition of Camden's Britannia (1695), and they appeared in the footnotes of the introductory section on Britain.[33] Newton was also influenced by this scholarly argument: in an MS on 'The Originals of Europe' he noted the primacy of the Phoenicians in settling Britain, observing how the Tyrians had traded on the Red Sea until 'the revolt of Edom from Judea', from when they 'began to sail upon the Mediterranean & built Carthage & some towns in Spain … & going out of the straits discovered Madera & Britain till then unpeopled.'[34] Stukeley recorded Newton telling him how 'when the Pastors were ejected [from] Egypt in great numbers, some went to Syria, to Greece, to Mauritania, to Spain, Italy, &c, under the conduct of the Egyptian Hercules, who passd the Straits, built Carteia, Cadiz, & was thence calld Melcartus, & this man first found the tyn trade to Brittan'.[35] In 1700 Charles Leigh (1622-1701), a Lancashire physician and naturalist educated at Oxford and Cambridge, developed these ideas in his Natural History of Lancashire, Cheshire and Peak in Derbyshire, with an Account of the British, Phoenician, Armenian, Greek and Roman Antiquities in those Parts. Proceeding from his reading of Strabo, Leigh considered Britain to have been a Phoenician colony, claiming that 'the whole Island [of Britain] was chiefly and primarily inhabited by Colonies from Asia long before either the Greeks or Romans came hither.'[36] John Toland in his History of the Druids (1726) pointed out that the remarkable stone circle of Callanish on Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, appeared to fit exactly Diodorus Siculus's account of 'the land of the Hyperboreans.' Referring back to an even earlier source, Diodorus had written that 'in the regions beyond the land of the Celts' there lay a fertile island with 'a magnificent sacred precinct of Apollo and a notable temple which is adorned with many votive offerings and is spherical in shape.' Even in recent times this spherical temple has been identified with Stonehenge, but Toland noted that 'in every circumstance' the description of Hyperborea agreed to that of Lewis. Diodorus was possibly drawing on the narrative of Pytheas of Massilia, a Greek sailor of c. 300 BC who, according to his lost work 'About the Ocean', travelled into the North Atlantic where he discovered the frozen island of Thule and circumnavigated Britain.[37] It has recently been written that Toland's attribution could well be correct: 'Implausible though it appears, the words of Diodorus Siculus may contain memories of ancient rites that endured into the Iron Age'.[38] Indeed, modern archaeological discoveries continue to unearth evidence of the trading relationship in prehistoric times between the 'Wessex culture' of south-west England and the classical civilizations of the ancient Mediterranean. So however dubious some of their scholarship was, for early eighteenth-century antiquaries to accept ancient Mediterranean seafarers such as the Phoenicians as the settlers of Britain was an advancement upon the historically unfounded myth of the Trojan Brutus, whilst at the same time it continued to provide a classical respectability for ancient British origins.

In Stukeley's published theory, then, 'the magnificent wonder'[39] that was Stonehenge was 'the remains of the Celtic people that came from the continent, who chiefly inhabited England, at least the south part, when the Romans invaded the island'.[40] These Celts were descendants of the Phoenicians, and their descendants in turn were the Picts, Scots and Irish, who were in his opinion 'all the same people'.[41] The Phoenicians had first come to Britain in search of tin, with 'Hercules, the hero of Tyre, the famous Navigator of antiquity' who 'seems to me, to have been a great man, raised up by providence, to carry the reform'd patriarchal religion, to the extremest parts of the then known world. Here, I suppose, the religion of Abraham remain'd pure, for many ages, under the Druids, till perhaps corrupted by incursions from the continent'.[42] The seaborne Phoenician origin also helped to explain Caesar's contention that Druidism originated in Britain, not Gaul. Stukeley described the 'patriarchal religion' as being 'so extremely like Christianity, that in effect it differed from it only in this; they believed in a Messiah who was to come into the world, as we believe in him that is come.'[43] 'Patriarchs', of course, was the name given to the Old Testament peoples who were the parents of the human race. They are divided into two groups: the antediluvians, who were descended from Adam and Eve and were punished in the Flood, and the postdiluvians, who were descended from Noah and his family. The patriarchs were the ancestors of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Stukeley's Tyrian Hercules, he supposed, 'lived at, or very near the times of the patriarch Abraham.'[44] Evidence for the raising of stone pillars came from the Bible, where 'we have an instance of Moses rising early up early in the morning and building an altar, and setting up 12 pillars around it.'[45] In his description of Stonehenge and its environment, Stukeley's intention was to show its similarity with and relationship to other ancient stone temples such as Persepolis and Solomon's Temple (itself built by Phoenicians). A principal tool for this comparison arose from the measurements Stukeley made at Stonehenge, identifying his so-called 'Druid's cubit' with the same measure used by the Hebrews, Egyptians and Phoenicians, itself 'most probably deriv'd from Noah and Adam.'[46] His purpose in seeking these parallels was to confirm his argument that Stonehenge was the remains of a patriarchal temple. His belief in the truth of this argument was assisted by the publication in 1720 of Richard Cumberland's translation of the so-called 'Phoenician History' by Sanchoniathon, a mythic account of the Creation and the times before the Flood, which he reconciled with the Mosaic account, as well as his own Origines Gentium Antiquissimæ, Or, Attempts for Discovering the Times of the First Planting of Nations (1724).[47] Cumberland (1631-1718) was another Cambridge graduate and had, prior to becoming bishop of Peterborough, held the living in Stamford which Stukeley would inherit. Stukeley frequently referred to Cumberland's work (which also included an essay on biblical measurements) who he believed had 'gone further in restoring ancient chronology' than Newton had in his two posthumous works.[48]

Another reader of Bochart and Sammes was Henry Rowlands, and reached similar conclusions to Stukeley on the history and progression of ancient religion. Rowlands book Mona Antiqua Restaurata (1723) was written on Anglesey, and it is this island that modern historians interpret as Tactitus's Mona, not the Isle of Man. In Rowland's opinion, the Druids of Britain had received true religion via the longevous Noah and his sons, who in the centuries after the Flood 'reign'd over all the Tribes of Mankind'.[49] He wrote:

I may presume to affirm, that some of the First Planters of this Island, being so near in descent, to the Fountains of true Religion and Worship, as to have one of Noah's Sons for Grandsire or Greatgrandsire, may be well imagin'd, to have carried and convey'd here some of the Rites and Usages of that true Religion, pure and untainted, in their first propagating; tho' I must confess they soon after became, as well as in other Countries, abominably corrupted, and perverted into the grossest heathenish Fictions and Barbarities.[50]

It is only in this final remark that Rowlands conflicts with Stukeley, who largely defended the good practice of the Druids. Yet later in his work, when Rowlands wished to defend the antiquity of Christian worship in Britain against the claims of primacy of the Roman Church, he noted that despite their 'Human Sacrifices and Diabolical Magick' the Druids were 'as to Life and Conversation in many Points, almost half Christians to their hands'.[51] But if all the aforementioned smacks of library study and excessive theorizing on the part of the antiquaries, the apparent relationship between ancient Mediterranean religion and the corrupted survival of the prisca theologia was apparently being confirmed by modern European travellers in China and South America, and was being supported by scholars as distinguished as Leibnitz and the Fellows of the Royal Society.

Modern Travel and the Prisca Theologia

We have already noted the importance of travel narratives in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and Stukeley's own library contained a wide variety of such books. Amongst them were a modern edition of Sir John Mandeville's fourteenth-century Voiage and Travaile (1727), John Ray's Collection of Travels (1693), Cornelis de Bruyn's Voyage au Levant (1700), as well as books by three of his acquaintances: Engelbert Kaempfer's History of Japan (1727), Thomas Shaw's Travels, Or Observations Relating to Barbary and the Levant (1738) and Richard Pococke's Description of the East (1745).[52] The most important collections of travel literature in English were those made by the London clergyman Samuel Purchas (1577-1626), Pilgrimage (first published in 1613, and appearing in new editions in 1614, 1617, and 1626) and his four volume Pilgrimes (1625), based on the papers of the eminent geographer Richard Hakluyt. Purchas explained in Pilgrimage that his intention was to 'bring Religion from Paradise to the Arke, and thence follow her round about the World, and (for her sake) observe the World it selfe.' With the material available for his Pilgrimage increasing with each successive edition, and with new facts and advice provided by the likes of Raleigh, Ussher and Hakluyt, Purchas continued to assert 'Religion is my proper aime.'[53] Consequently he arranged his travel material according to a sacred framework. His book was an immediate and great success, and Purchas helped to closely associate travel with biblical history in the public mind.

This religious exposition of new world geography is most obvious in European responses to South America. The belief that the Americas had been visited by two of the Apostles only shortly after the death of Christ, and that vestiges of the true religion could be found there, had spread quickly following Columbus's return from his first voyage in 1493.[54] Since the early Middle Ages -- for example in the sixth-century apocryphal Acts of the Apostles -- it had been claimed that St Thomas and St Bartholomew had both proselytized and even been martyred in India, where there were shrines built to them. Of course Columbus believed he had discovered not 'America' (whose name only came later), but a new route to China, Japan and India, the 'West' Indies. Traditionally India was the land of St Thomas's mission, and in 1514 a German book titled Tidings out of Brazil, based on a Portuguese or Italian account, reported that on the coast of South America 'they cherish the memory of Saint Thomas' and 'refer to him as the lesser god'.[55] At the same time Spanish conquistadors in South America discovered stone crosses -- similar to Maltese crosses -- amongst the Mayas of Yucatan in 1517, and later also in Mexico and Peru, discoveries that have been confirmed by modern archaeological discoveries at excavations of Maya sites. These discoveries were interpreted as a pre-Columbian knowledge of the crucifixion, and together with native painted and sculptured figures apparently resembling Christ, the Virgin Mary and even the Holy Trinity, they added weight to the European belief that Christian missionaries had visited the Americas before 1492. Picking up on this information, Stukeley would note in Abury how 'The ancient inhabitants of America honor'd the form of the cross.'[56] From the late sixteenth century the conviction of an ancient Christian mission to the Americas was actively promulgated in the writings of Spanish Jesuit and Dominican missionaries in Mexico and Peru. The Dominican writer Diego Durán, for example, considered the Aztec practice of human sacrifice to be the corrupted vestiges of the Christian religion (as we have already seen, an idea claimed by Stukeley for the Druids), and wrote that either 'our Holy Christian Religion is known in this land or the devil … forced the Indians to imitate the ceremonies of the Catholic Church religion in his own service and cult'.[57] By the early 1600s some converted Incas were writing in defence of a Christian element in their native religion. Indigenous writers such as Felipe Huaman de Ayala, Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti and, most famously, Garcilaso de la Vega (1539-1616), known as 'El Inca', the son of a Spanish aristocrat and an Incan princess. They claimed the Incas were descended from Adam and Noah, and defended the legend that a proselytizing mission to Peru had been made by St Thomas.[58] Stukeley read El Inca's Royal Commentaries of Peru (1688), observing that 'the Spaniards on the conquest of peru, found costly pillars set up, for 'em to observe the equinox by when they had a great religious festival.'[59] He also noted how 'The Pagan Temples in Mexico are of a round figure, built of vast stones & Pyramids with a large area about which will contain 8000 people dancing in a circle.'[60] We discover in Stukeley's work, therefore, an interest in comparative religion and archaeology extending well beyond the borders of Britain and Europe out to the Americas.

As travel and discoveries expanded in the eighteenth century this comparative method continued to affirm the theological theories and arguments Stukeley was developing. But although these accounts of South American religion might appear to have been objective, they often simply supported previously-formulated traditions of ancient monotheism. However, a contemporary reader would not necessarily have been aware of the process by which modern authors merely restated older preconvictions. It took an astute observer like Jean-Jaques Rousseau to recognize that in 'the three or four hundred years since the inhabitants of Europe have inundated the other parts of the world and continually published new collections of voyages and reports, I am convinced that we know no other men except Europeans'. He added that 'under the pompous name of the study of man no-one does anything except study the men of his own country.'[61]

Nevertheless, a similar process to that occurring in America also occurred in China, where French Jesuit missionaries drew similar conclusions from their travels. Marco Polo had reported the presence of Jews in Peking as early as 1286, and in 1605 a Jesuit missionary in the city, Matteo Ricci, was visited by a Chinese Jew, and Ricci was subsequently offered the position of chief rabbi. Ricci was excited by the idea that these Chinese Jews might be remote descendants of one of the lost Ten Tribes, and that they might possess ancient, unknown and uncorrupted manuscripts of the Old Testament.[62] In 1699 the French missionary Louis Le Comte's Memoirs and Observations … Made in a Late Journey through the Empire of China were published. He declared his belief 'that the Chinese during 2000 years up to the time of Christ had known the true God, had honoured Him in a way that can serve as an example to Christians, had sacrificed to him in the most ancient temple in the world, had had faith and all the Christian virtues, and of all the nations had been the most favoured by God's grace.'[63] Although Le Comte's argument was condemned by the Sorbonne in 1700, it did not prevent another Jesuit from writing to Leibnitz in the same year to inform him that he had found in the I-Ching traces of truth conforming so exactly with 'the best that remains to us of the wisdom of the ancients' that they must have come 'from the same source.' Like Newton, Leibnitz also had an often now unrecognized private interest in ancient history, counting Egyptian hieroglyphs amongst the subjects he discussed with his correspondents, whose number included Kircher.[64] Leibnitz was told by his correspondent that the I-Ching were 'Precious fragments remaining from the most ancient and excellent philosophy taught by the first Patriarchs of the world to their descendants, and later corrupted and almost entirely obliterated in the course of time.'[65] The I-Ching was attributed to the mythical Chinese emperor Fohi, whom Christian commentators identified phonetically as Noah. Leibnitz's correspondent believed that by working out the meaning of the I-Ching, he would be able to reveal both the 'religion of the first Patriarchs' and 'the ancient and universal system of the sciences.'[66]

Leibnitz had read the De Perenni Philosophia (1540) by the Italian Augustinian scholar Agostino Steuco (c. 1497-1548). This drew on the Neoplatonic prisca theologia tradition of the Florentine scholars Marsilio Ficino and Pico Mirandola, and declared that there was 'one principle of all things, of which there has always been one and the same knowledge among all peoples.'[67] Steuco, though dismissed by Vossius, was known by other late seventeenth-century syncrenistic writers, including Theophilus Gale and Stillingfleet, and in Abury Stukeley quoted from him, noting that he had traced the ancient tradition descending through 'Hermes, Orpheus, Hydaspes, Pythagoras, Plato, the Platonicks, the Sibylline verses, the oracles and the like'.[68] It has been observed that although Leibnitz is best known today as a precursor of modern logic and mathematics, 'his affinity to the tradition of perennial philosophy as envisioned by Steuco is most clear.'[69] Leibnitz thus even identified the numbers of the I-Ching with his own invention of the binary system, and in 1705 published a paper in the Mémoirs de l'Acadèmie Royal des Sciences on his binary arithmetic and its association with Fohi's characters. Equally significantly, in a letter to his Jesuit correspondent, Leibnitz observed: 'I have always been inclined to believe that the ancient Chinese, like the ancient Arabs (witness the book of Job), and perhaps the ancient Celts (that is to say Germans and Gauls) were far from idolatry, and were rather worshippers of the sovereign principle'.[70]

Religious practices were not the only evidence that European travellers and scholars discovered for the common descent of the human race from a single source, though once more it was largely a case of superimposing preconceived beliefs over the available evidence. The conviction that there had been in the distant past one original language common to Mankind had widespread currency, and was given Biblical authority through the story of the Tower of Babel. Early members of the Royal Society took a particular interest in either recovering or, failing that, recreating, this universal language, such John Wilkins' Essay Towards a Real Character, and a Philosophical Language (1668).[71] In An Historical Essay Endeavouring a Probability that the Language of the Empire of China is the Primitive language (1669) John Webb (the editor of Inigo Jones's account of Stonehenge) identified China as still possessing this original universal language, and he suggested China might retain an association with the religion of Noah. He concluded that 'the language of China affordeth us, the Acknowledgement of one only true God; Theology taught by Noah, Predictions of CHRIST in exotic Religions many centuries of years before his Incarnation'.[72] According to the Oxford antiquary Anthony Wood, James II was informed by the University's Regius Professor of Hebrew and Laudian Professor of Arabic, Thomas Hyde, that the Chinese ''have in their idol-temples statues representing the Trinity, and other pictures which shew that antient Christianity had been amongst them.''[73] In 1726 Roger Gale suggested to John Clerk that 'the best way' for accounting for the 'agreements' which scholars found between British words and Hebrew, Phoenician, Greek and Latin words was 'that they have been retained and preserved from one primitive language generally spoke before the migrations of the severall people now spread over the face of the whole earth'.[74] We thus find Stukeley seeking out similarities between ancient Chinese and Egyptian, teaching himself Chinese in 1735, and even writing '2 or 3 verses of the beginning of the book of Genesis in Chinese'.[75] In 1760 Stukeley's Jewish friend Emanuel Mendes da Costa would be involved in a joint attempt by the London Jewish community and the Royal Society to contact the Chinese Jews. Keen to hear whatever related to their 'origin and present condition', the questions enclosed in their letter of contact included: 'Do you know whether there are any congregations or numbers of Israelites in Tartary, or in any countries near or distant from you, and whether they are descendants of the Ten Tribes'?[76] Sadly, the details of any reply are not recorded.

From these examples it is clear a school of thought existed which, from at least the mid-seventeenth century, identified the existence of a universal, monotheistic religion and a common language which had descended directly from Adam and Noah as their descendants scattered across the globe. The religion of the Chinese, the Incas, the ancient Egyptians, the Indians and the Druids were all perceived as retaining strong traces of the original Hebraic religion.[77] Though potentially marginalized, these beliefs survived well into the second half of the eighteenth century, and were an important inspiration for antiquaries and theologians. The Brahmins, for example, were a topic of conversation when in December 1741 Stukeley dined with William Wake, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He recorded in his diary how 'his Grace discoursd with me about the Bramines in the eastern part of the world, who to this day remain of the patriarchal religion, like our Druids.'[78] Similarly in 1742 Richard Pococke, Stukeley's friend from the Egyptian Society, told him that 'in Ireland, he observ'd a surprizing conformity between the irish & the antient Egyptians.'[79] Through Aubrey, Lhwyd and Toland Stukeley was already well aware of the existence of Irish stone circles and other prehistoric structures such as Newgrange, observing that the locals' 'fancy of thos stones coming from the farthest parts of Africa seems to show they were Egyptian colonys.'[80] Pococke, who had spent some time in Egypt and the Near East, repeated his theory in 1754 when he wrote to Stukeley from Dublin: 'I am sure there was a colony here from Egypt … I take it, when the Continent was in wars in the fifth and sixth centuries, people came over to study, as to a place of quiet; but I believe the learning was very little.'[81] This kind of information was of obvious interest to Stukeley, for he had as early as 1723 or 1724 drawn up a list of thirteen similarities between the beliefs and practices of Egyptian priests and the Celtic Druids. These included a belief in the immortality of the soul, their division into different 'colleges' and orders, the practice of human sacrifice, 'the custom of women reigning' such as Boadicea and Cleopatra, and the 'setting up stones of a stupendous size.'[82] Even in 1773 James Macpherson, author of the Poems of Ossian, was writing in his History of Great Britain and Ireland that 'The ideas of the Druids concerning God were certainly the same with those of the eastern philosophers.'[83] It is little surprise, then, that Stukeley considered these possible links himself, and wondered how 'from the writings of Caesar, & other classic authors, we learn so much of [the Druids'] theology, astronomy, legislature, & other sublime knoledge as surprizes us, & we earnestly seek to know more of them'.[84] There was one way for Stukeley to find out more about the ancient mysteries in the 1720s. For if it was the Druids who had first carried the torch of the ancient religion in Britain, in early eighteenth-century London that torch claimed to have been picked up again by that obscure society, the Order of Freemasons.

The Famous Mysterys of the Antients

In discussing the early eighteenth-century theological arguments between materialists and anti-materialists, High and Low Churchmen and the formal foundation of modern Freemasonry with the establishment of the Grand Lodge in London in 1717, Margaret Jacob has gone so far as to suggest that 'To find a way through this thicket of religious tension, tolerant-minded Newtonians like Désaguliers and Stukeley, along with a few whig gentlemen, invented a new form of ritual to worship the Grand Architect of the Universe'. In her interpretation, Freemasonry was an innovation sprung 'from Newtonian inspiration.'[85] Although in the early 1720s Stukeley certainly did become a Freemason at a time when the movement first became formally established, and it did for a while appeal keenly to his antiquarian interests, there is no evidence to suggest he was in any way involved in the invention of Masonic rituals. However, Stukeley's comparatively extensive recorded remarks regarding his initiation, coming as they do at an early stage in the documented history of Freemasonry, have been of particular interest to historians of the Order. The composite origins of modern Freemasonry have been traced by David Stevenson to an amalgamation of traditions and practices originating in the medieval English and Scottish guild system, developing with possible Hermetic and Rosicrucian influences during the seventeenth century, and emerging publicly with the establishment of Grand Lodge, which united four London lodges.[86] Enlightenment Freemasonry has been seen as a reflection of 'the progressive spirit of the age, with ideals of brotherhood, equality, toleration, and reason.'[87] It is certainly correct that a number of early Freemasons were also Fellows of the Royal Society, including the experimental philosopher and Newtonian John Theophilus Désaguliers (1683-1744), who was Grand Master in 1719, and was the only Fellow known definitely to have been initiated before Stukeley. The Royal Society Newtonians Brook Taylor and Martin Folkes were also early Masons, whilst Sir Christopher Wren and Elias Ashmole were both identified as having been Masons. Stukeley was himself 'made a Free Mason at the Salutation Tav[ern] Tavistock street' on 6 January 1721, and the following 27 December at a meeting at the Fountain Tavern, Strand 'by consent of Grand M[aste]r present[,] Dr Beal constituted a new Lodge there, where I was chose M[aste]r.'[88] According to the account in his Commonplace Book, 'I was the first person made a freemason in London for many years. We had great difficulty to find members enough to perform the ceremony. Immediately after that it took a run, & ran it self out thro' the folly of the members.'[89] Other of his close friends were also intimately involved in the Freemasonry movement: on 24 June 1721 John, second Duke of Montagu (1688?--1749), became Grand Master, whilst Folkes was deputy Grand Master by 1725. Following his move to Grantham in 1726 Stukeley continued his involvement, founding 'a lodg[e] of freemasons, wh[ich] lasted all the time I lived there.'[90] This Grantham Lodge never appeared on the roll of the Grand Lodge, which, it has been suggested, might indicate Stukeley's dissatisfaction with the role and rules of Grand Lodge, but nevertheless shows a continued interest in Masonry at least up until his ordination.[91]

What, then, could Freemasonry have offered Stukeley? In terms of history, more than enough, as the order's 'Constitutions' reveal. He recorded that at a meeting on 24 June 1721 his friend the Grand Master 'producd an old MS. of the Constitutions which he got in the west of England[,] 500 years old.'[92] Then on 29 September 1721 the Grand Master 'and the Lodge finding Fault with all the Copies of the Old Gothic Constitutions, order'd Brother James Anderson, A.M., to digest the same in a new and better Method.'[93] Anderson (?1680-1739) was a Scottish Presbyterian Minister and miscellaneous writer who had lived in London since 1710. His rewrite of Masonic history resulted in the first printed Book of Constitutions (1723). In his 'dedication' at the beginning of the book, Désagulier claimed it contained 'a just and exact Account of Masonry from the Beginning of the World to your Grace's [Montagu's] MASTERSHIP'.[94] Anderson began his history with the statement that Masonry's origins lay in geometry, which 'ADAM, our first Parent, created after the Image of God, the great Architect of the Universe' had had 'written on his Heart'.[95] Noah had built the Ark 'according to the Rules of Masonry', carrying the geometric and Masonic skills to the postdiluvians, who had used them to build the Tower of Babel. With the subsequent dispersal of nations Masons 'carry'd the mighty Knowledge with them into distant Parts' including Egypt, where they displayed their skills in constructing the Pyramids. There the enslaved Israelites had learnt the craft, such that 'at their leaving Egypt, [they] were a whole Kingdom of Masons, well instructed, under the Conduct of their GRAND MASTER MOSES, who often marshall'd them into a regular and general Lodge.'[96] Subsequently these Jewish Masons (rather than the Phoenicians) had built Solomon's Temple, which was 'justly esteemed by far the finest Piece of Masonry upon Earth before or since'. The builders of Solomon's Temple then carried their skills abroad, travelling as far afield as Greece, India and Africa. They also apparently travelled to Europe, 'because some think there are a few Remains of good masonry … in Europe, raised by the original Skill that the first Colonies brought with them, as the Celtic Edifices, erected by the ancient Gauls, and by the ancient Britains too, who were a colony of Celtes, long before the Romans invaded this Island.'[97] If Stukeley did make any personal contribution to Masonic 'ritual' it might have been here, with Anderson's cryptic 'some think' very plausibly referring to Stukeley, his brother Mason and friend of the Grand Master. The appeal of such an organization to Stukeley is thus immediately obvious, for in its annals it embodied his entire belief in the progress of history according to the biblical account, and as this last remark shows, even alluded to the existence of pre-Roman stone structures in Britain, by which the author must surely have meant Stonehenge.

But there is more that links the Druids to the legendary early history of Masonry. On April Fools' Day 1724 an interesting pamphlet was anonymously published in Dublin, titled 'A Letter from the Grand Mistress', which, if it truly reflects the popular contemporary image of Freemasonry, may further indicate some of Stukeley's expectations from the brotherhood. Though this pamphlet was once attributed to Swift, and was included in three eighteenth-century editions of his Works, it has since been described as 'an eighteenth-century 'tease''.[98] Nevertheless, it is illuminating for the associations it makes. The events at the beginning of the pamphlet occur in a Lodge of Freemasons in Omagh, Ulster, where one evening the brethren get so drunk at their meeting that they cannot proceed with an initiation ceremony. Instead, a tale is recounted of an Irish Lodge of female Masons. The anonymous author observes in the story that the Druids

had nothing at all to do with Stones of any kind, till Jason a famous Druid or Free-Mason used the Load-stone when he went in quest of the Golden Fleece as it is called in the Enigmaticall Terms of Free-Masonry, or more properly Speaking of the Cabala, as Masonry was call'd in those Days. The use of the Load Stone was then and long after kept as Secret as any of the other Misteries of the Art, till by the unanimous Consent of all the Great Lodges, the use of it was made publick for the Common Benefit of Mankind …[99]

The author proceeded to inform his reader how

the Pagan Priesthood was always in the Druids or Masons, and that there was a perceivable Glimmering of the Jewish Rites in it, tho' much corrupted, as I said, that the Pagan Worship was chiefly in Groves of Oak that they always lookt upon the Oak as sacred to Jupiter, which Notion is countenanced (making Allowance for the Paganism) by the Patriarchs, for you see in Genesis, that Abraham sacrificed under the Oaks of Mamre. Joshua indeed took a great Stone and put it up under the Oak, Emblematically joyning the Two great Elements of Masonry to raise an Altar to the LORD.

Our Guardian also says, that Caesar's Description of the Druids of Gaul is as Exact a Picture of a Lodge of Free Masons as can possibly be Drawn.[100]

Whilst this passage is clear parody, it illustrates a clear connection in the eighteenth-century mind between gentiles and biblical traditions. The Druids' place as key characters in that tradition had obviously permeated popular culture by 1724 -- that is, a date almost exactly coeval with Stukeley's membership of the order of Freemasons and his studies at Avebury and Stonehenge. The Druids retained at least some association with Freemasonry well into the eighteenth century. In 1766 John Cleland, the author of Fanny Hill, suggested in his The Way to Things by Words an ingenious etymological origin for the word 'mason' from Druids: it derived from the sons of the May, or 'May-sons'. A century later R. F. Gould in his History of Freemasonry found it necessary to dismiss the idea of any connection between Druids and Freemasons.[101] This association appears to have had an early origin, and a long duration.

Yet, perhaps because of the obviousness of this overlapping of interest, I have found no reference amongst Stukeley's papers to these aforementioned aspects of early eighteenth-century Freemasonry, or their possible relationship with the Celtic Druids. However, Stukeley did observe that it was his 'curiosity [which] led him to be initiated into the mysterys of masonry: suspecting it to be the remains of the famous mysterys of the antients'.[102] Exactly what he meant by this remark has never been answered by previous commentators. But an explanation may be found in a long manuscript essay written in the mid 1730s, 'Palaeographia Sacra, or Discourses on Monuments of Antiquity that Relate to Sacred History Number II. A Dissertation on the Mysterys of the Antients in an Explication of that Famous Piece of Antiquity, the Table of Isis'.[103] The true origin of this peculiarly inscribed artefact, the Isiac or Bembine table, is unknown. It first appeared in Rome in the sixteenth century, where it was acquired by Cardinal Bembo, from whence comes its alternative name. It is apparently a genuine late antique cult object probably taken from some Italian temple or shrine to Isis. Although the apparently hieroglyphic images on the tablet were copied from genuine Egyptian hieroglyphs, they are actually meaningless decorations.[104] But early modern observers considered it a genuinely ancient artefact. At the beginning of his essay, which forms an extensive discussion of the images on the tablet, Stukeley explained exactly and clearly what he meant by 'the mystery of the antients.' He begins by stating, 'Since I have been engagd in the study of divinity, I have endeavord … to goe up to the fountain head, as near as I could. there, we must expect the purest & unsophisticated truth'. He explained that he had pushed his inquirys 'a considerable length, toward recovering a scheme of the first, the antient, & patriarchal religion. a disquisition that must needs be of great service to the cause of christianity. because christianity is but a republication of that religion; the Mosaic dispensation, as a vail, intervening.'[105] The original, patriarchal religion, 'the most excellent gift of heaven', had soon been corrupted by Mankind, and 'its native charms were miserably defac'd[,] obscur'd & perverted into superstition & idolatry.' One of the causes of this corruption had been 'this affair of the mysteries. nothing is more celebrated in ancient learning, than the mysterys: into which it was a fashion for all great men to be initiated, in all ages: & that under cover of the most impenetrable secrecy. & truly, so well have they guarded the deposit, that with difficulty we come to any tolerable knowledg of it'.[106] He continued that the heathen mysterys 'were the first deviation from true religion', and had existed throughout the ancient world. It was this secret religion -- a portion of the patriarchal religion -- which the Druids had possessed, and which Stukeley hoped to discover amongst the secrets of Freemasonry.[107] In ancient times men were 'initiated' into the mysteries, whereby they learnt

the art of keeping a secret, a thing of great use in the political part of life: they learnt to cultivate an inviolable friendship: they learnt morality: & at length a sublimer notion of religion than the rest of the world enjoy'd. … the friendship hereby seald among the initiated, took a sacred & inviolable character: they were brothers ever after.[108]

Those who were initiated and became 'brothers' in the mysteries

were thought to be bound by an oath, or sacramental tye, to lead a very vertuous course hence forward, both in word & action; agreably to that exacter knowledge of religion which they learnt herein … so that these mysterys were intended to make a better notion of the deity & a better religion, than that publickly proffessd; it was a religious act of a higher kind than the common, & was attended as they thought with a divine influence, better hopes & reward. All which considerations dictate it, to be only a corruption of some patriarchal institution, & that it was built upon the foundation of some more solemn part of the first & true religion; which history has not particularly transmitted to us. but an enquiry of this sort, is the only means left, of coming at any notion of it, at this time of day: & that is sufficient apology for it.

He then gave an account of the initiation process:

They that were initiated gave in their names, some time before the ceremony, sufficient for an enquiry into their life & conversation. & good care was taken to trust a matter of such consequence, in worthy hands, who would not divulge, or abuse it. the candidates were to be persons of good characters, & free from any remarkable infamy, from murder, tho' involuntary, & by accident. magicians & such sort of people were particularly forbid: & in general all kinds of wicked & profligate folks … a guard was set before the door with a sword drawn in his hand, to hinder all profane persons from approaching & such as were not fit to be admitted. & this is what is hinted at by Virgil, tho' as it were fitting, in a mystical way. Virgil travailed into Greece on purpose to be initiated. they took an oath of secrecy. therefore he was obliged to vail the description.[109]

the origin of the mysteries (as we hinted before) is no other than the first corruption of tru religion, when they began to deviate from the patriarchal religion, into idolatry & superstition. & this was nigh as early as the renovation of mankind, after the noachian deluge.[110]

Freemasonry was, therefore, one further piece of evidence confirming Stukeley's picture of the past, the loss of knowledge and the corruption of religion.

These references to 'initiation' and 'veils' need to be compared against another important text in the early history of Freemasonry, the preface to Eugenius Philalethes' Long Livers: A Curious History of Such Persons of Both Sexes Who Have Liv'd Several Ages, and Grown Young Again (1722). Written by a 'Brother' Mason, the book was dedicated to 'the Grand Master, Masters, Wardens and Brethren' of the Free Masons of Great Britain and Ireland, who 'are a chosen Generation, a royal Priesthood.' Philalethes' mysterious text alludes to 'those of you who are not far illuminated … and are not worthy to look behind the Veil', and 'those who are so happy as to have greater Light' who 'will discover under these Shadows somewhat truly great and noble, and worthy the serious Attention of a Genius the most elevated and sublime'.[111] In an 1892 reprint of the preface to Long Livers, R. F. Gould noted previous speculations on the book's bearing to the history of Freemasonry, referring to its possible relationship with the obscure seventeenth-century Protestant order of Rosicrucianism. A letter published in the Freemason on 16 April 1887 reflected that 'during the decade from 1720 to 1730, a kind of Rosicrucian or Hermetic influence must have taken place in the Lodges of London, and there are indeed some things in the ritual and terminology of Masonry after 1730 that cannot be derived at all from Operative Lodges, but are taken from the works of Rosicrucians and Cabbalists.' Gould suggested that it was possible that some high ranking Masons were members of another Hermetic Society, and it was to these that Philalethes' work applied.

Towards the end of the eighteenth century the 'Druidic Revival' would unite scholars and followers of the ancient bards into their own brotherhood. In the various spurious legends of their foundation, these modern Druidic fraternities would place William Stukeley alongside John Toland in London in 1717, founding together the Most Ancient Order of Druids. Of all the writers to publish on this subject in the early eighteenth century Toland was the most contentious, the one whose name has been most closely linked with Stukeley's, and one who has also been closely (but unfoundedly) linked with the origins of Freemasonry. We shall now look at the career of this important and controversial figure in some detail.

John Toland and Druidic Religion

Toland (1670-1722) was born of Catholic parents in Derry, Ulster. He converted to Protestantism early in his youth, was enrolled at Glasgow University in 1687, and took his MA from Edinburgh University in 1690.[112] He went on to study briefly at the universities of Leyden and Utrecht, before moving in 1693 to Oxford, though not as a student. There he met John Aubrey, who he described as 'the only person I ever then met, who had a right notion of the temple of the Druids'.[113] By 1695 Toland was living in London and was friendly with Locke. In that year that the Licensing Act lapsed, and books no longer required an official imprimatur in order to published. Toland was one of the first to take advantage of this new-found leniency, and in 1695 his most famous book, Christianity Not Mysterious, was published. This short work claimed that there was nothing either mysterious or beyond reason in the Gospels. Whilst at first seeming a work in support of Christianity, it was in fact a thinly veiled attack, and was seen to have been influenced by Locke's concept of reason. In the same year Locke's The Reasonableness of Christianity was also published, which led to Locke being charged by some with the heresy of Socinianism. From around this date Toland was also involved in politics, becoming a leading Whig writer. He took an interest in Newtonianism, and his Letters to Serena (1704) made veiled attacks against the political implications of Newtonian physics, but he came to an essentially Newtonian view on the history of religion in which he saw ancient Egyptian priests both as sages who had secretly possessed an essentially Copernican view of the universe, and as the teachers of Moses.[114] And, despite his attacks on aspects of Newtonianism, Toland was deferential to Newton himself and cautious and respectful in his criticisms.[115] Between 1708 and 1710 he was again in Holland, studying biblical criticism, examining the way in which primitive Christianity had been corrupted by centuries of superstitious additions and accretions.[116] In an appendix to Nazarenus: Or, Jewish, Gentile, and Mahometan Christianity (1718) Toland expressed his approval of a 'Respublica Mosaica, or the Commonwealth of Moses, which I admire infinitely, above all forms of Government, that ever existed',[117] which appears to indicate his conformity with Newton's Mosaical religion.

Like other British authors with an interest in religious history, Toland had read and was influenced by European scholars such as Grotius, Vossius and Jean LeClerc -- 'what mighty names!' he declared in Nazarenus.[118] His intention invariably was to shock his contemporaries, and he usually succeeded. As one critic saw it, in Nazarenus Toland 'shews himself a proffess'd Enemy to Christianity … wherein he gives Jews, Gentiles, and Mahometans an equal Title thereto with us who are baptiz'd in the Name of the Holy Jesus'.[119] Toland had observed in this book (though perhaps not entirely sincerely), that 'there is a sense, wherein the Mahometans may not improperly be reckon'd and call'd a sort of sect of Christians, as Christianity was at first esteem'd a branch of Judaism'.[120] His contemporaries were, therefore, soon well aware of what they perceived as his anti-Christian project, and nervous of what other works his pen might produce. In June 1718 his friend John Chamberlayne wrote to inform Toland that the Lord Chancellor was unhappy with Toland's proposal for a 'History of the Druids, which he told me he did not understand, but which he suspected to be level'd against Christian Priests'.[121] A connection between Toland's religious beliefs and his interest in Druids was thus made at an early date. Stukeley received a copy of this last work of Toland's, which was posthumously published in 1726 as the Critical History of the Celtic Religion and Learning, from William Warburton in 1728, a year before his ordination.[122] It is likely, however, that Stukeley had seen a copy of the book prior to this date, as he makes an (undated) note to 'Mr Tolands history of the druids in l[or]d molesworths hands' in a list of books on Druids and related subjects at the back of the 'Celtic Temples', the MS he was writing between 1722 and 1724.[123]

Whilst he has long been identified as one of the leading deistical writers of the period, Toland persistently denied the tag of deist, preferring to style his religious beliefs by the word he coined in 1705, 'pantheist'. Contemporaries also wavered over whether Toland should really be considered a deist. One obituary noted of him that 'as for religion … it is more easy to guess what he was not, than to tell what he was. 'Tis certain he was neither Jew nor Mahometan: but whether he was a Christian, a Deist, a Pantheist, an Hobbist, or a Spinozist, is the question.'[124] Toland's real concern in his works on religion was the corrupting nature of priestcraft which, he believed, had kept lay people in ignorance. In an Anglican context it was easy to accept the notion of the corruption of the Church, and the debilitating effect of centuries of 'priestcraft': the Roman Catholic Church and the necessity of the Protestant Reformation was proof enough of these facts. Clearing Scripture of corruptions and false interpretations that could be used in support of Papal authority had been an important part of the Protestant programme. However, in Protestant circles, the question of where authenticity was definitively established, for example in the claimed 'Authorized' version of the King James Bible, was moot. Some writers attacked (by subtle means) the very idea of authenticity and truth in the Bible. In Leviathan (1651) Hobbes had written on the misinterpretation of Scripture, whilst in Nazarenus Toland claimed to have discovered the lost text of a new Gospel by St Barnabas. Through this he deliberately underscored the difficulty of producing any truly authentifiable Gospel, and pursued a course of scriptural criticism that, notwithstanding his own assertions, appeared to lead directly to atheism or deism. In spite of his contemporaries' doubts, Piggott believed Toland was an unmistakable deist, and identified him as the intellectual opponent Stukeley was thinking of when he wrote in 1730 that his 'main motive' in pursuing his antiquarian studies was to 'combat the deists from an unexpected quarter'.[125] Piggott also suggested that the two men knew each other around 1718-19, though there is no clear evidence that they ever did, and it seems unlikely.[126] In 1962 Owen likewise identified Toland as 'the original pest who provoked' Stukeley, whilst more recently Sam Smiles has described Stukeley's patriarchal views on the Druids 'as an attempt to contest Toland's account.'[127] I wish to suggest, however, that Stukeley did not regard Toland as his intellectual enemy at all. This re-interpretation will radically alter our understanding of Stukeley's work and intellectual purpose.

There are a number of pieces of evidence indicating Piggott, Owen and Smiles are wrong in their judgement. The most convincing is a short manuscript titled 'A Catalogue of Druids', which Stukeley wrote sometime between 1743 and 1749. There he gives a brief but clear commentary of his opinion of Toland as a scholar and an authority on the Druids. Although this document has (rather incongruously) been in the library of the Wellcome Institute of Science and Medicine in London since early last century, it appears that no historian has previously noticed it. In his dedication of this work to the Duke of Montagu, Stukeley observes that whilst from the writings of Caesar '& other classic authors' we discover a great deal about the learning of the Druids, their practice of not committing anything to writing 'has hindered former authors from satisfying our curiosity.' Stukeley then continued by explaining that 'the chief means' of overcoming this deficiency

must be by examining our own domestic monuments. the late Mr Toland was very well qualify'd for performing this task, had he liv'd to have executed, what he has promis'd us. he has given us an excellent specimen of his work. he was a native of Ireland, where the Druidical order last subsisted. he was a person of great learning, & diligence; well acquainted with all the old languages of the britanic isles; had collected all the old names of persons, & places, & customs, that remain'd, concerning them. but his avow'd design in doing it, & unreasonable prejudice against religion in general, & priest-craft, as he call'd it; has hinder'd us from reaping the just fruits of that labour. but still it remains of good use to us, in our present purpose.[128]

From this account it appears fair to propose that Toland is not the chief origin of Stukeley's declared anti-deist attentions, as all other commentators have suggested. In Stukeley's opinion Toland was 'well qualify'd' to write on this subject, and had produced an 'excellent specimen' that 'remains of good use to us'. Though it is clear he was aware of Toland's religious position (his 'unreasonable prejudice' and 'priest-craft'), this extract casts serious doubt upon earlier interpretations of their intellectual relationship. But even without this new piece of evidence, there is actually nothing in Stukeley's oeuvre that can be taken as an attack on Toland's theology. In fact, Stukeley's own beliefs were not all that distant from Toland's. Like Toland, he accepted that religion had been progressively corrupted, observing in Abury that 'in all accounts of the first beginnings of nations, they had the first religion: 'till as every where, time, richness, politeness and prosperity bring on corruption in church and state.'[129] He treated Toland as a respectable authority ('a person of great learning, & diligence') on the subject. Furthermore, of all the modern authors referred to in Stonehenge and Abury, Toland's name appears more frequently than any other, and never in a negative context. For example, in Abury Stukeley noted how God imparted the knowledge of letters to the ancestors of Abraham in order to preserve 'the sacred records of his church', and this fact is 'exceedingly confirm'd by the explication which Mr Toland gives us concerning Hercules Ogmius, in his history of the Druids.'[130] This affirmative use of Toland's History is true also of Stukeley's references to him in his manuscript notes. It was this realization that first raised my doubts that Stukeley was pursuing an argument against Toland. Would he really have cited Toland in this way, as an authority on the subject, at the same time as he was attempting to demolish that very argument? It seems unlikely. And there is further evidence. In 1759 Charles Bertram suggested to Stukeley that he should 'write a compendious History of the Druids … according to your great Plan, or else to write notes upon Toland's Plan, and send it me, I will procure it translated into German, and get a Bookseller to buy the Copy, or we will print it at my Cost'. Again, why would Stukeley wish to publish, and thus promote, 'Toland's Plan' if he was its intellectual opponent?[131] It could be argued, of course, that Stukeley's 'notes' would be a demolition of 'Toland's Plan', and it is regrettable that Stukeley's notes from the Bertram correspondence do not appear to have survived. However, in 1763 Stukeley publicly cited Toland's History of the Druids as containing 'striking proofs, of the authenticity' of MacPherson's Poems of Ossian.[132] Again, this would have been an unnecessary advertisement for the work of his so-called 'enemy'.

It is unfortunate that in none of his published works does Stukeley name the people he might actually have been writing against (not in itself an uncommon practice in literary disputes of this period). So whilst it is clear Stonehenge and Abury do make a contribution to the eighteenth-century debates on natural and revealed religion, the progress of idolatry and the Holy Trinity, the heterodox targets of Stukeley's arguments are not immediately apparent. Toland makes an at-first obvious target, but closer examination reveals clear flaws in this interpretation. And if Toland had been his target, our picture of Stukeley's answer to the deist problem in Abury and Stonehenge would have to be toned down, for he clearly fails to meet that objective. This failure is unmistakable in Roger Gale's response to the publication of Stukeley's antiquarian efforts. 'I have read over your Abury very carefully,' he told Stukeley in 1743,

& with great pleasure, having mett with the greatest satisfaction, I may allmost say demonstration, in it, that a subject of that nature is capable of receiving, either as to the architectonical or theological part. I little thought Dr Tindall would have such a second to prove Christianity as old as the creation, though upon a different bottome and principles …[133]

Stukeley's response to this assessment is unknown, though he might, perhaps, have been surprised at the comparison with Matthew Tindal. One of the few times Stukeley mentions contemporary deists by name in his surviving correspondence is his admonishment in 1734 to his old school friend, Ambrose Pimlow, not to add his name 'to the number of those clergymen whose ingratitude to their patrons has done infinitely more mischief to religion than Tind[all or Coll[ins].'[134] We shall meet the Cambridge deist Anthony Collins (1676-1729), author of A Discourse of Freethinking (1713), again in the next chapter. Tindal (1657-1733), meanwhile, was a doctor in law from Oxford University and a Fellow of All Souls College who made his name in 1730 with his Christianity as Old as the Creation: Or, The Gospel a Republication of the Religion of Nature. Calling himself a 'Christian deist', Tindal aimed to show that natural religion 'differs not from Reveal'd, but in the Manner of its being communicated: The One being the Internal, as the Other the External Revelation of the same Unchangeable Will of a Being, who is alike at all Times infinitely Wise and Good.'[135] In the first pages of his book, Tindal expressed the view that had been expressed over a hundred years earlier by the 'father' of the deists Herbert of Cherbury -- and it is essentially the same as Stukeley's thesis -- that if Christianity was the 'Only True, and Absolutely Perfect Religion' (and what good Christian could disagree with that?) then

it follows, That the Christian Religion has existed from the Beginning; and that God, both Then, and Ever Since, has continu'd to give all Mankind sufficient Means to know It; and that 'tis their Duty to know, believe, profess and practice It; so that Christianity, tho' the Name is of a later Date, must be as old, and as extensive, as humane Nature; and as the Law of our Creation, must have been Then implanted in us by God himself.[136]

Tindal had carried the arguments of Grotius and Stillingfleet to their natural conclusion. Though there were numerous published refutations of Tindal's claim, if one followed the argument traced by Newton, Stukeley and their contemporaries that there had once been a world über-religion, then one was drawn inevitably to question of what functional rôle revelation had ever needed to play in the history of religion.

Other writers who Stukeley himself as sources for his researches were also not without clear hints of unorthodoxy. In 1743 he would note Andrew Michael Ramsay as one who had 'very laudably pursued the same track' in proposing that 'the ancients knew somewhat of the mysterious nature of the deity, subsisting in distinct personalities, which is more fully revealed to us in the christian dispensation.'[137] Ramsay (1686-1743) was a Scotsman who in 1708 had studied mathematics under Newton's friend Fatio de Duillier, and on a visit to London in 1729 had been made a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1710 he converted to Catholicism, and spent much of the rest of his life living in France. His book, The Travels of Cyrus (1730), was a popular work, influenced by Cudworth's True Intellectual System. In Ramsay's story the traveller Cyrus meets various ancient pagan philosophers who, he discovers, all teach the same esoteric religious truths, including that of the Trinity, which they expressed symbolically in their religious rites.[138] Although in 1748 Ramsay would publish a tract on natural and revealed religion, he nevertheless appeared in A View of the Principal Deistical Writers that Have Appeared in England in the Last Present Century (1754-56) by John Leland, an English nonconformist minister resident in Dublin. Leland (1691-1766) described Ramsay as a 'late ingenious author' who had 'endeavoured at large to show that some vestiges of the doctrines of the Trinity are to be found among the sages of all nations, times and religions.'[139] Though Leland did not mention Druids or British antiquities in his book, the ideas on the history and progression of religion as expressed by Stukeley and Newton were effectively approved by him. In the first volume of his View of the Principal Deistical Writers, Leland divided religious history into three distinct periods: 'First, the patriarchal religion. The second relates to the Mosaical dispensation. The third, which is the perfection of all the rest, is the Christian revelation.'[140] Although Leland identified Herbert of Cherbury as 'one of the most eminent deistical writers that appeared in England in the last age',[141] and although he wrote against Tindal's thesis of Christianity as old as the Creation, Leland's own account is only subtly different from that of these two men. He identified a principal characteristic of the Patriarchal religion its 'pure adoration of the Deity free from idolatry' and observed that in the ancient patriarchal religion 'there seems to have been a hope and expectation from the beginning, originally founded on a divine promise, of a great Saviour, who was to redeem mankind from the ruins to which they were exposed'.[142] Leland believed that the evidence for this future knowledge of Christ -- which Stukeley noted as a characteristic of the Druids -- came from the fact that the

most ancient rite of which we have any account, is that of offering sacrifice to God: And its having so early and universally obtained among all nations, and in the most ancient times, as a sacred rite of religion, can scarce be otherwise accounted for, than by supposing it to have been a part of the primitive religion, originally injoined by divine appointment to the first ancestors of the human race, and from them transmitted to their descendants.[143]

According to Leland, this patriarchal religion 'Seems to have been the religion of Adam after his fall', and later of 'Noah, the second parent of mankind'. Leland continued that 'above all, this religion was signally exemplified in Abraham … From him descended many great nations, among whom this religion, in its main principles, seems to have been preserved'. He added that 'There were also remarkable vestiges of it for a long time preserved among several other nations'.[144] The various affinities with Stukeley's Druids are clear in all these remarks from the pen of an orthodox divine. And not only is Stukeley's position repeated in these remarks. Leland went on to observe of those nations that preserved vestiges of the patriarchal religion, that 'whosoever among the Gentiles at any time, or in any nation, was a fearer of God, and a worker of righteousness, might justly be regarded as of the ancient patriarchal religion, and was favourably accepted with God.' But he appears to have realised the need to qualify this last remark, for he added that 'in process of time the nations became generally depraved, sunk into a deplorable darkness and corruption, and the great principles of religion were in great measure covered and overwhelmed with an amazing load of superstitions, idolatries, and corruptions of all kinds.'[145] It was only in the third, Christian, dispensation that religion was 'brought to its highest perfection and noblest extent'.[146]

Yet like Stukeley, in a later work Leland sought the traces of true worship amongst the practices of the gentiles, his book bearing the self-explanatory title The Advantage and Necessity of the Christian Revelation, Shewn from the State of Religion in the Antient Heathen World: Especially with Respect to the Knowledge and Worship of One True God (1764). Leland's sources for this extensive, two volume work included the many names we have already encountered, including Grotius, Burnet, Cudworth, Spencer and Ramsay himself. Though Leland does not refer to Stukeley, his work confirms both the acceptance of his general intellectual position, and the clear confusion over the desist--orthodox position. For as the examples of Cherbury, Tindal, Stukeley and Ramsay show, the relationship between the deist and the 'orthodox' Christian was both paradoxical and problematical. But if Stukeley's arguments on Druidical religion were actually very closely aligned with those of recognized or alleged deists such as Toland, and cannot really be credited as refutations of their arguments, where can we look for the true purpose of his work? Assuming we need to find a target for Stukeley's antiquarian works (and I think that we do), I suggest that his principal intellectual opponent was, in fact, the Arian Newtonian, his former university lecturer and sometime friend, William Whiston. The culture of Newtonian antitrinitarianism is a far more obvious context for Stukeley's discovery at Avebury of 'some notions about the Doctrine of the Trinity which I think are not common'.[147] As I shall argue in my next chapter, we may see Stukeley's antiquarian work in a different light, as providing a unique, archaeological, response to a challenging contemporary issue.

[1] See Caesar, The Gallic War, Book VI, 13, 14 and 16 (Loeb Classical Library, London, 1970). On the Druids see Owen (1962) and Piggott (1977), to which the discussion is very much indebted.

[2] Wood (1747) pp. 6-11.

[3] Tactius, Annals Book XIV, 29-30 (Loeb Classical Library, London, 1969). It was during this campaign that Boadicea of the Icenii led a rising against the Romans.

[4] Didorus Siculus, Library of History, Book V, 31, 2-5 (Loeb Classical Library, London 1971).

[5] See Piggott (1975) pp. 113-5.

[6] Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum Libri, Book XV, 9, 9. (Loeb Classical Library, London, 1971).

[7] Quoted in Owen (1962) p. 90.

[8] Owen (1962) p. 25.

[9] Ibid. p. 21. Stukeley quoted this remark from Diogenes Laertius in his notes on a letter to the Princess of Wales in June 1754; see Stukeley Bod. MS. Eng. misc. e. 403 f. 14r.

[10] See Owen (1962) pp. 27-39.

[11] Quoted in Owen (1962) p. 50.

[12] Ibid. (1962) p. 56.

[13] See Parry (1995) pp. 334-5, and Owen (1962) p.72.

[14] Owen (1962) p. 72. Smith left his valuable collection of books and manuscripts to Thomas Hearne.

[15] Temple (1690) Vol. 1, pp. 24-7.

[16] Brown, 'A Short Dissertation About the Mona of Caesar and Tacitus, The Several Names of MAN, whether it was the principal Seat of the Ancient Druids, &c.' in Sachaverell (1702). Brown (1663-1704) had briefly been a student at Christ Church, Oxford, and made a living as a miscellaneous writer and translator.

[17] Ibid. p. 166, p. 174. See John Spotswood, History of the Church of Scotland (1655), p. 3.

[18] William Lambard An Alphabetical Description of England and Wales (1570), and (1730) p. 205; Matthew Parker De Antiquitate Britannicae Ecclesiae (1605); John Pits Relationum Historicum (1619) p.14. Cited in Owen (1962) p. 60.

[19] Camden Britannia (1610) col. lxx, quoted in Parry (1995) pp. 34-5. Camden actually misinterpreted Origen's remark: see Owen (1962) pp. 62-3.

[20] Quoted in Owen (1962) p. 61.

[21] Thomas Jones (1678) pp. 542-3, quoted in Owen (1962) p. 65.

[22] Wellcome MS 4720; Stukeley (1743) p. 50.

[23] Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. e. 403.

[24] Ibid. f. 15r; f. 13r. 'Brahman' is actually derived from the Sanskrit word for prayer.

[25] Tacitus, The Annals, XI, 14, quoted in Iversen (1993), p. 43.

[26] See Parry (1995) pp. 310-12.

[27] Gale (1669) 'Advertisement to the Reader'.

[28] Ibid. p. 175

[29] Ibid. p. 175.

[30] Ibid. p. 341.

[31] Sammes (1676) Preface.

[32] Parry (1995) pp. 324-5.

[33] Ibid. pp. 323-4.

[34] Newton, New College MS 361/2 f. 104.

[35] See Stukeley (1980) p. 70.

[36] Quoted in Parry (1995) pp. 325-6

[37] See Toland (1726) 188-91, and Didorus Siculus, Library of History, Book II, 47, 1-5 (Loeb Classical Library, London, 1968). Strabo, however, called Pytheas 'the very worst of liars': see Romm (1992), p. 198.

[38] Burl (2000) p. 206,

[39] Stukeley (1740) p. 5.

[40] Ibid. p. 8.

[41] Ibid. p. 8.

[42] Ibid. pp. 50, 54.

[43] Ibid. p. 1.

[44] Ibid. p. 58.

[45] Ibid. from Exodus xxiv.4.

[46] Ibid. p. 6.

[47] Sanchoniatho's Phoenician History, Translated from the First Book of Eusebius (London 1720). This 'history' had been translated into Greek by Philo Byblius and partly preserved by the Greek Church historian Eusebius (c.260-340).

[48] SS 2, p. 262. Richard Cumberland, An Essay Towards the Recovery of the Jewish Measures and Weights (London, 1699).

[49] Rowlands (1723) p. 40.

[50] Ibid. p. 45.

[51] Ibid. pp. 140-1.

[52] See Piggott (1974) p. 442 and p. 450.

[53] Quoted in Steele (1975) pp. 23, 28.

[54] See Vigneras (1977).

[55] Quoted in Vigneras (1977) p. 88. The account, titled Copia der Newen Zeytung ausz Prasillg Landt (1514), was printed in Augsburg.

[56] Stukeley (1743) p. 101.

[57] Grafton (1992) pp. 142-3.

[58] Klaiber (1976) and Grafton (1992) p. 154. Herbert cites El Inca as his source.

[59] Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. e. 554 f. 88, also citing El Inca.

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

[61] 'Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité parmi les hommes', published in Oeuvres complète, edited by Bernard Gognebin and Marcel Raymond (Paris, 1755), Vol. 3, p. 212, quoted Schiebinger (1993), p. 76.

[62] See Katz (1990), pp. 895-6.

[63] First published in 1696 as Nouveaux Memoires sur l'état present de la Chine. Quoted in Walker (1972) p. 199.

[64] Iversen (1993), p. 100.

[65] Quoted in Walker (1972) pp. 220-21.

[66] Ibid. p. 224.

[67] Quoted in Schmitt (1966) p. 517.

[68] Stukeley (1743) p.97. In Sales Catalogue, 'Stuckius de Sacrificiis Gentlium Lig. 1598', Piggott (1974) p. 442, cat. 539. Stukeley also owned Leibniz's Essais de Theodicee (Amsterdam 1710), Piggott (1974) p. 439, cat. 429.

[69] Schmitt (1966) p. 530.

[70] Quoted in Walker (1972) p. 199.

[71] See Singer (1989) and Davis (1983).

[72] Webb (1669) p. 206, quoted in Harrison (1990) p.154.

[73] A. Clark (ed.) The Life and Times of Anthony Wood Vol. 3, p. 236 (Oxford, 1891-1990) quoted in Marshall and Williams (1982) p. 115.

[74] Roger Gale to John Clerk, 24 June 1726, in SS 3, p. 88.

[75] Stukeley to Roger Gale, 12 September 1735, SS 2, p. 116.

[76] Katz (1990), p. 904.

[77] Beurrier's Perpetuitas Fidei also included chapters on the foreknowledge of Christian truth among the Chinese, and on the good religion of the Druids.

[78] Stukeley Bod. MS. Eng. misc. e. 124 f. 90.

[79] Stukeley, 31 July 1741, Bod. MS Eng. misc. e. 125 f. 40. He included this observation in Abury (1743) p. 78.

[80] Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. c.323 f. 66.

[81] Pococke to Stukeley, Dublin, 3 January 1754, in Nichols (1817) p. 808.

[82] Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 323 f. 240;

[83] Macpherson (1773) p. 233.

[84] Stukeley Wellcome MS 4720 f. 1.

[85] Dobbs and Jacob (1995) p. 102. Trompf (1991) pp. 234-5, writes, 'The more one ponders Newton's axial principles … and then one relates this covert, Talmudically-inspired unorthodoxy to his fascination for the mysterious proportions of the Solomonic temple, the more one can sense the milieu of early Freemasonry.'

[86] See Stevenson (1988) on the origins of Freemasonry. The earliest reference to a 'lodge' in England, at Warrington, is recorded in the diary of Elias Ashmole, who was initiated in October 1646, whilst Robert Plot included an account of English Freemasonry in his Natural History of Stafford-shire (1686). See Stevenson (1988) pp. 219-23.

[87] Stevenson (1988) p. 5.

[88] Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 533 ff. 34v, 36.

[89] Gould (1893) p. 131.

[90] See Gould (1893) pp. 131-2.

[91] Ibid. p. 143.

[92] Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 533 f. 35.

[93] Gould (1893) p. 138.

[94] Anderson (1723) 'Dedication' by Désaguliers.

[95] Anderson (1723) p. 1.

[96] Ibid. pp. 4-5, 8.

[97] Ibid. pp. 10-13, 27-8.

[98] Knoop, Jones and Hamer (1963) p. 230; see pp. 229-39. I am indebted to the assistant librarian at Freemasons' Hall for drawing this pamphlet to my attention.

[99] Knoop, Jones and Hamer (1963) p. 236. Stukeley believed the 'Golden Fleece' of the legend of Jason and the Argonauts was in fact a loadstone or compass.

[100] Ibid. p. 236.

[101] Cited in Spurr (1987) p. 123. Jacob (1991) p. 25, points out that E. F. Bazot, in Manuel du Franc-Maçon (3rd edn, Paris, 1817) wrote that the Druids developed a religion that was 'uniquely universal and immutable, that is to say, freemasonry.'

[102] Bod. MS Eng. misc. e. 667/5 f. 33.

[103] Wellcome MS 4722.

[104] See Iversen (1993) pp. 55-6.

[105] Stukeley Wellcome MS 4722 f. 1

[106] Ibid. f. 2.

[107] Ibid. f. 3-5.

[108] Ibid. f. 7.

[109] Ibid. ff. 8-10.

[110] Ibid. f. 11.

[111] Philalethes (1722), p. iv. Philalethes was the pseudonym of Robert Samber.

[112] See Sullivan (1982) and Daniel (1984).

[113] In A Collection of Several Pieces of Mr John Toland, edited by P. Desmaiseaux (2 vols, London, 1726), quoted in Piggott (1989) p. 141.

[114] Sullivan (1982) p. 185.

[115] Ibid. p. 195.

[116] According to Jacob, at this time he was also becoming involved in the establishment of proto-masonic brotherhoods. Jacob (1991), p. 66. Stevenson (1988) is very critical of Jacob's account, of her 'sloppy use of the word Masonic', and her attempts to associate John Toland with early Freemasonry.

[117] Toland (1718) Appendix I p. 1.

[118] Toland (1718) p. 37.

[119] Paterson (1718) p. 62.

[120] Toland (1718) pp. 4-5.

[121] Quoted in Champion (1992) p. 168.

[122] Stukeley diary 12 May 1729, SS 2, p. 302.

[123] Stukeley Bod. MS Eng. misc. c. 323 f. 268. See also SS 1, p. 223.

[124] Abel Boyer, The Political State of Great Britain, XXIII (1722) p. 342. This quote was brought to my attention by Justin Champion.

[125] Stukeley to Roger Gale, 25 June 1730, in SS 3, p. 267.

[126] Piggott (1985) p. 85, and (1989) p. 143.

[127] Owen (1962) p. 121; Smiles (1994) p. 85.

[128] Stukeley Wellcome MS 4720 ff. 1-2. The 'present purpose' of this work was to give 'a succinct account chiefly of the most memorable names, & monuments' of the Druids that had survived to that date 'in our own islands, or on the continent'. The MS refers to the publication of Abury, which appeared in 1743, and is dedicated to Montagu, who died in 1749, so must have been composed between these two dates.

[129] Stukeley (1743) p. iii.

[130] Ibid. p. 73.

[131] Bertram to Stukeley, 5 March 1759, Bod. MS Eng. letters b.2, f. 66r.

[132] See Stukeley (1763b), pp. 12-13.

[133] Roger Gale to Stukeley, 20 May 1743, in SS 1, p. 359.

[134] Stukeley to Revd Ambrose Pimlow, 9 March 1734, SS 1, p. 274.

[135] Tindal, (1730), p. 3.

[136] Ibid. p. 4.

[137] Stukeley (1743) p. 6.

[138] See Walker (1972) pp. 231-49.

[139] See Ramsay (1748). Leland (1754-56), 2.600-1. Leland also wrote an Answer to a Late Book Entitled 'Christianity as Old as the Creation' (1733)

[140] Leland (1754) Vol. I p. 411.

[141] Ibid. p. 1.

[142] Ibid. pp. 1, 425.

[143] Ibid. p. 426.

[144] Ibid.

[145] Ibid. p. 427.

[146] Ibid. p. 432.

[147] Stukeley to Wake, 3 June 1729, in Stukeley (1980) pp. 141-2.

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Professor Rob Iliffe
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