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Stonehenge, A Temple Restor'd to the British Druids, by William Stukeley, [1740], at

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Plate 8. North Prospect from Stonehenge<br> P. a barrow opened by Lord Pembroke. S. by W. Stukeley.
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Plate 8. North Prospect from Stonehenge
P. a barrow opened by Lord Pembroke. S. by W. Stukeley.


The admeasurement of the ground-plot; and outer circle of the temple, and imposts over it. Of the principal line of the work, running down the avenue, and single entrance, into the area, or court. The imposts are jointed exquisitely by mortaise and tenon. The temple at Persepolis a building of this sort.

LET us now set about an examination of the measures of the temple itself. Take a staff 10 foot 4 inches and ¾ long. Divide it into six equal parts. These are the cubits of the ancients. Each cubit is divided into six parts. These are palms. Thus have we the original measure of the founders of Stonehenge. We will take Mr. Webb's measures, and compare ’em herewith. TAB. XI.TAB. XI. the ground-plot.

Mr. Webb says, p. 55. that the whole work of Stonehenge being of a circular form, is 110 foot in diameter. But to be precise, ’tis 108 and somewhat more, and his own scale in his ground-plot shows the same. This is the diameter from outside to outside, which in our ground-plot is the principal diameter. The thickness of the stones of the outward circle, he says, p. 59. are 3 foot and an half. Hence the inner diameter becomes almost 102 feet English. If the reader pleases to measure 102 feet upon the comparative scales, which I TAB. VI. gave of the English foot and Hebrew cubit, being the measure us’d by the Druids, or in the scales at the bottom of the ground-plot, he will find that it amounts exactly to 60 cubits. 30 cubits being the radius wherewith they struck the circle upon the turf, which is the inner circumference of that work. That sufficiently defin’d their ground-plot. For tho’ they intended in general, that the thickness of the stones of this outer circle should be 3 foot and a half; but to speak more properly, 2 cubits (which is the same measure) yet they were more careful of one side only, of that dimension. And the chief business being withinside this temple, they set the best face of the stones inwards, upon that ground-line; the other face was suited as well as the scantlings they could get, best answer’d. Webb's 3 foot and a half is precisely 3 foot 5 inches, and somewhat more, making compleatly 2 Druid cubits, as you find by the scales. They that carefully view Stonehenge, will easily see, that the stones of the inside both of the outward circle and of the cell, are the smoothest, best wrought, and have the handsomest appearance. For so the polite architects of the eastern part of the world, bestow’d more elegance within their temples than without. Not as our modern London builders, who carve every moulding, and crowd every ornament, which they borrow out of books, on the outside of our publick structures, that they may more commodiously gather the dust and smoke. The truth is, good sense and observation of nature, produces the same ideas in all ages and all nations. Our Druids observ’d, that God almighty in forming the body of a man, made all the external parts great, bold, round, with ornament sufficient; but where the beauty chiefly consisted in the fitness of the proportions, in symmetry and plainness. In the inside, he has display’d all the minutiæ of divine skill. They have done the like, according to their way, in Stonehenge. So even as to the outward appearance, I find they took care to set those stones that had the best outward face, toward the front or entrance. And to embarrass the general scheme of the work, they made use of two centers instead of one, but 2 cubits distance from one another; perhaps to make the thing intricate and as magical: besides the advantage it gives to the oval form of the included cell.

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Observe, in laying down the ground-plot and projecting this outer circle, we said it was 110 feet, (gross measure) in diameter. We remember what is before-mention’d, that the learned Greaves measur’d two galleries in the greater pyramid, in like manner, each 110 feet. So the bishop of London says, from the grand entrance of Stonehenge, to the work is 35 yards: so he says the diameter of the circle at Rowldrich in Oxfordshire, is 35 yards: all this while 60 Druid or Egyptian cubits are meant. So the length of Solomon's temple was 60 cubits, whereof the Ædes 40 cubits, the sanctum sanctorum 20.

The intention of the founders of Stonehenge was this. The whole circle was to consist of 30 stones, each stone was to be 4 cubits broad, each interval 2 cubits. 30 times 4 cubits is twice 60: 30 times 2 cubits is 60. So that thrice 60 cubits compleats a circle whose diameter is 60. A stone being 4 cubits broad, and 2 cubits thick is double the interval, which is a square of 2 cubits. Change the places between the stones and their intervals, and it will make a good ground-plot for a circular portico of Greek or Roman work. For supposing these intervals to be square plinths of 2 cubits each side, and columns properly set upon them: it will admit of 3 diameters for the intercolumniation, which is the diastyle manner in architecture. But to talk of pycnostyle with Mr. Webb, and call these stones of ours pillars or pillasters, where they are twice as broad as the space between them, and to call this an order, is monstrous.

Thus a stone and an interval in this outward circle of Stonehenge, makes 3 squares; 2 allotted to the stone, 1 to the interval; which for stability and beauty withal, in such a work as ours, is a good proportion. The curiosity of the work, and the general orthography of the outward circle, I have design’d in TAB. XII.
TAB. v.
Plate XII. and it may be seen in the seven stones now remaining at the grand entrance. Which show what strictly was the intent of the founders, and where they took the liberty to relax of that strictness, and that with judgment; so as to produce a good effect. I shall explain it from Mr. Webb's own measures, that I may give the truth its full advantage. P. 59. he says, the stones which made the outward circle are 7 foot in breadth. Observe that 7 foot makes 4. cubits of the Druids. He says, they are 15 foot and a half high. You find that exactly 9 cubits. P. 61. he says, the architraves lying round about upon them, are 2 foot and a half high, i.e. our cubit and half. He mentions their breadth to be 3 foot and half; equal to the thickness of the upright, i.e. our two cubits. They are jointed in the middle of each perpendicular stone. Hence tho’ he has not mention’d the length of these architraves, we gather them to be 6 cubits long. This is spoke of their inward length, for outwardly they must needs be somewhat longer, as being an ark of a larger circle. I must observe about these architraves, as Mr. Webb calls them, that they are more properly call’d imposts or cornishes; for they are not made to support any thing above them, as is the nature of an architrave, but for the stability and ornament of what supports them, which is the nature of imposts and cornishes. Tho’ these bodies of stone here, never had or were intended to have, any mouldings upon them, like Greek and Roman works; they are wrought perfectly plain, and suitable to the stones that support them. I observe further, the chizeling of our upright stones, is only above ground. For the 4 or 5 foot in length below ground, is left in the original natural form. And that the upright stones are made very judiciously to diminish a little, every way; so that at top they are but 3 cubits and a half broad, and so much narrower as to suffer their imposts, to hang over a little, or project (in properer terms) over the heads of the uprights, both within side and without. By this means these uprights are in much less danger of falling or swerving any way: and the imposts, which are not broader than the thickness of the stones at bottom, which support them, have a graceful effect, by projecting a little, without danger of surcharging them. We see here plain, natural, easy geometry, what we may call the

Plate 9. Southwest Prospect from Stonehenge<br> A. The barrow L<sup>d</sup>. Pembroke open’d. BB. those I open’d. C. Bushbarrow. D. a cavity in the vallum.
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Plate 9. Southwest Prospect from Stonehenge
A. The barrow Ld. Pembroke open’d. BB. those I open’d. C. Bushbarrow. D. a cavity in the vallum.

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first rudiment of art, deduc’d from common reason: but they that can find any Roman delicacy herein, must, I freely own, have a much nicer eye and talk, than I can pretend to. The Druids had, from patriarchal times, made their altars or temples of rude unpolish’d stones. But now hearing, probably from Phœnician traders, of the glories of Solomon's temple, at least of other temples made artfully in imitation of it; such as those of Sesostris in Egypt, and others about Phœnicia: they thus made a small approach to square scantlings and stones wrought. And this seems to have been the first and the last work of theirs of this kind, that I can hear of, either in the Britanic isles, or on the continent. And no doubt but it must give them so high a reputation, that even the people of Gaul themselves could not help owning to Cæsar, that the discipline of these men was first begun here, and carry’d on with such success, that they sent their youth from the continent hither, as to an academy, to be initiated in their learning. We are not to suppose these words are to be strictly taken, as if the Druids here began their institution: but that being an oriental manner of religion, and much different from that on the Gallic continent, what they had of it there, was deriv’d from Britain. It appear’d as much new to them, who were chiefly idolaters, as in many ages preceding, Abraham's religion appear’d new to the inhabitants of Phœnicia and Egypt: who were then not much tinctur’d with idolatry. Nor, probably, had the Druids much opportunity of building another such work, as Stonehenge, between its foundation and the Roman times. Because, I apprehend, the encroachments of the Gallic nations from the continent, seating themselves in Britain, about 200 years before Cæsar's invasion, had molested the Druids much, in these southern counties: and drove them with the old Britons, farther northward and westward. But of this we will treat more particularly afterwards, when we offer our opinion, of the time when it was made.

In the orthographic plate, TAB. XII. we may see the strict geometry of theTAB. XII. work of this outward circle, and the artful variation therefrom, in order to make the aperture of the grand entrance somewhat wider than the rest. Mr. Webb does not take notice of this particular; and he might have triumph’d in it. For ’tis no less than a Vitruvian rule, to relax the intercolumniation just in the middle of the portico, in the front of a temple, and over-against the door. He speaks of it in Lib. III. 2. when talking of the Eustyle ratio, the best for use, appearance and strength: he directs the intercolumniation to be of two diameters and ¼; but the middle intercolumniation of three diameters. By which means the approach to the door will be much more commodious, and nothing diminish’d of beauty in aspect. And this is the reality of the case before us.

But alas, our British priests knew nothing of Vitruvius; they deduc’d this knack from an authority much ancienter than him, viz. from pure natural reason, and good sense. Nor does this hurt the whole of the work. The aperture ought strictly to have been two cubits equal to the rest, but they advanc’d it to two cubits and a half. This only crowds the next intervals on each side a small matter nearer, the rest preserving their true distance quite round. And in the work itself, ’tis obvious enough to the naked eye. Again, there is another remarkable particular observ’d by our priests. Because the aperture of the principal entrance we are speaking of, is wider than the rest: they have made the impost over it thicker than the rest, and ’tis equally obvious to the naked eye. This was the more effectually to secure it from breaking. But this additional thickness they have put below. They were sensible it would have produc’d an ill effect at top, by breaking the line of that noble cincture. It must be own’d this was extremely well adjusted. And the breadth of the stone that hangs over head in this place is astonishing. See Plate VII. call’d a TAB. VII. peep into the sanctum sanctorum. I had the greatest pleasure imaginable, in the year 1723, July, in being here for several days together, with the learned Heneage Lord Winchelsea. I have just reason to boast of that intimacy he indulg’d

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me in; and his memory must for ever be dear to me, for his noble qualities. TAB. VII. My Lord and I were very careful in taking the measures of Stonehenge; and with great grief we observ’d, the stones here represented in that Plate, TAB. V. and TAB. V. the front view, to be much deviated forwards from their true perpendicular, and in the utmost danger of falling. ’Tis to be fear’d some indiscreet people have been digging about the great entrance, with ridiculous hopes of finding treasure, and loosen’d thereby the chalky foundation. We found by measure, that the upper edge of the impost overhangs no less than 2 foot 7 inches, which is very considerable in a height of 18. The whole breadth at the foundation is but 3 foot and a half. And this noble front is now chiefly kept up by the masonry of the mortaise and tenon of the imposts.

Thro’ the middle of the principal entrance, runs the principal line of the whole work; the diameter from north-east to south-west. This line cuts the middle of the altar, length of the cell, the entrance, the entrance into the court, and so runs down the middle of the avenue, to the bottom of the valley for almost 2000 feet together. This is very apparent to any one at first sight, and determines this for the only principal entrance of the temple. All the other intervals of the stones of the outer circle, have no preheminence in any respect. There is no such thing as three entrances, which Mr. Webb's scheme suggests. He might as well have pretended there are 6, for so many points of his triangles meet in intervals, at the verge of the outer circle. Upon this line are all the principal centers that compose the work, it varies a small matter from true north-east.

The contrivance of our artificers in making mortaises and tenons, between the upright stones and the imposts is admirable, but so contrary to any practice of the Romans, that it alone is enough to disqualify their claim to the work. Much judgment and good sense is shewn in the management of them. The centers of the tenons are 2 cubits distant from each other, upon each upright. By this means there is 4 cubits distance from the center of the tenon of one stone, to the center of the tenon of its next neighbour, across the intervals, or in one impost. Divide the upper face of an upright into its 2 squares, the center of a tenon is in the center of that square. Divide the under face of an impost, into its 3 squares, the correspondent mortaises are in the centers of the two outermost squares, and this was the strict geometrical method us’d by the founders: so that the stones fitted, as soon as plac’d in their true situations. These tenons and mortaises of this outer circle are round, and fit one another very aptly. The tenons and mortaises, are to inches and a half in diameter, which is 3 palms, or half a cubit. They rather resemble half an egg, than an hemisphere. These most effectually keep both uprights and imposts from luxation, and they must have used great labour that threw them down. Sir Robert Sibbald speaks of a rocking stone in Ireland, contriv’d with mortaise and tenon like ours: of which Mr. Toland gives us an account, with other like, the works of the Druids.

TAB. XII.The whole height of upright and impost is 10 cubits and a half. The uprights 9 cubits, the impost 1 cubit and a half, so that the impost is a 6th part of the height of the upright. If we measure on the outside, the collective breadth of two upright stones, and the interval between them, ’tis 10 cubits and a half equal to the whole height; and the interval is half the breadth of a stone, the thickness of a stone is half its breadth. That impost which lies over the grand entrance, we said, was deeper and longer than the rest. Abraham Sturges an architect, and myself measured it, in presence of Lord Winchelsea. Its middle length is 11 feet 10 inches, which is 6 cubits 4 palms; 2 foot 11 inches high, which is 1 cubit 4 palms. They have likewise added a little to its breadth, more than the rest, being 3 foot 9 inches, which is 2 cubits and a palm. N. B. The scale of my drawing is adapted for the inside of the circle, upon which the proportions in geometry are built: so that the outward

Plate 10. South-East Prospect from Stonehenge
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Plate 10. South-East Prospect from Stonehenge

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breadths of the uprights and lengths of the imposts are somewhat more, than by the scale appears there. The intelligent reader knows this must be the consequence, in arks of a larger circle.

Nothing in nature could be of a more simple idea than this vast circle of stones, and its crown-work or corona at top; and yet its effect is truly majestic and venerable, which is the main requisite in sacred structures. A single stone is a thing worthy of admiration, but the boldness and great relievo of the whole compages, can only be rightly apprehended, from view of the original. On the outside, the imposts are rounded a little to humour the curvity of the circle, and within they are strait, tho’ they ought to be a little curv’d. This makes them somewhat broader in the middle, than at the end, and broader than the 2 cubits, which is the thickness of the upright stones, upon an ichnography. So that within, the crown-work makes a polygon of 30 sides. But this little artifice without debating the beauty of the work in the least, adds much strength to the whole, and to the imposts in particular. We may guess their proportions are well chose, when so many of them are thrown down by violence, and not broke in the fall. And their greater breadth in the middle, or that part that covers the intervals, adds to the solemnity of the place, by the shadow they present at the bottom. The whole affair of jointing in this building is very curious, and seems to be the oldest and only specimen of this kind of work in the world. There is nothing, that I know of, comes in competition with it, but the celebrated ruins at Persepolis. TAB. XXXV. It is compos’d TAB. XXXV. of great stones laid across one another, as Stonehenge: but not with mortaise and tenon. The vulgar and learned too, generally take it for the remains of the palace of the Persian monarchs, burnt by Alexander the great; but it is really an open temple like ours, and made much in the same manner. But the stones are well squar’d, ornamented with mouldings and carvings, and the whole of them are squares, not round works as here. Persepolis is a mixture, between the ancient patriarchal round form of open temples, and the square form introduc’d under the Jewish dispensation, in opposition to the former, which were generally degenerated into idolatrous purposes. But of this I shall speak more perhaps hereafter, when I treat of the most ancient temples.

Of the outer circle at Stonehenge which in its perfection consisted of 60 stones, 30 uprights and 30 imposts, there are more than half the uprights, viz. 17 left standing. 11 of these uprights remain, continuous, by the grand entrance, five imposts upon them. One upright at the back of the temple or on the south-west, leans upon a stone of the inner circle. There are six more lying upon the ground, whole or in pieces. So that 24 out of 30 are still visible at the place. There is but one impost more in its proper place. And but two lying upon the ground, so that 22 are carried off. Hence I infer, this temple was not defac’d when christianity prevailed. But some rude and sacrilegious hands carried the stones away for other uses. However it cannot but be the highest pleasure imaginable to a regular mind, to walk round and contemplate the stately ruins which I have endeavour’d to preserve in the outside views, such as TAB. XIII. from the south-west, and so of the rest. TAB. XIII. But we may say with Lucan,

Jam magis atque magis præceps agit omnia fatum.

Next: Chapter IV