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

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Of the lesser circle of stones, without imposts. A disputation again Mr. Webb.

MANY drawings have been made and publish’d, of Stonehenge. But they are not done in a scientific way, so as may prove any point, or improve our understanding in the work. I have therefore drawn four architectonicTAB. XII. orthographies: one, TAB. XII. is of the front and outside: three are different sections upon the two principal diameters of the work. These will for ever preserve the memory of the thing, when the ruins even of these ruins are perish’d; because from them and the ground-plot, at any time, an exact modelTAB. XIV, XV, XVI. may be made. TAB. XIV, XV, XVI.these orthographies show the primary intent of the founders; they are the designs, which the Druids made, before they put the work in execution. And by comparing them with the drawings correspondent, of the ruins, we gain a just idea of the place, when it was in its perfection. But now as we are going to enter into the building, it will TAB. XI. be proper again to survey the ground-plot, pl11 which is so different from that publish’d by Mr. Webb. Instead of an imaginary hexagon, we see a most noble and beautiful ellipsis, which composes the cell, as he names it, I think adytum a proper word. There is nothing like it, to my knowledge, in all antiquity; and ’tis an original invention of our Druids, an ingenious contrivance to relax the inner and more sacred part, where they perform’d their religious offices. The two outward circles do not hinder the sight, but add much to the solemnity of the place and the duties, by the crebrity and variety of their intervals. They that were within, when it was in perfection, would see a most notable effect produc’d by this elliptical figure, included in a circular corona, having a large hemisphere of the heavens for its covering.

Somewhat more than 8 feet inward, from the inside of this exterior circle, is another circle of much lesser stones. In the measure of the Druids ’tis five cubits. This circle was made by a radius of 24 cubits, drawn from the common centers of the work. This struck in the chalk the line of the circumference wherein they set these stones. The stones that compote it are 40 in number, forming with the outward circle (as it were) a circular portico: a most beautiful walk, and of a pretty effect. Somewhat of the beauty of it may be TAB. XVII. seen in Plate XVII. where, at present, ’tis most perfect. We are impos’d on, in Mr. Webb's scheme, where he places only 30 stones equal to the number of the outer circle, the better to humour his fancy of the dipteric aspect, p. 76. He is for persuading us, this is a Roman work compos’d from a mixture of the plainness and solidness of the Tuscan order, with the delicacy of the Corinthian. That in aspect ’tis dipteros hypæthros, that in manner ’tis pycnostylos; which when apply’d to our antiquity, is no better than playing with words. For suppose this inner circle consisted of only 30 stones, and they set as in his scheme, upon the same radius, as those of the outer: what conformity has this to a portico properly, to an order, tuscan, corinthian or any other, what similitude is there between these stones and a column? where one sort is square oblong, the other opposite (by his own account) pyramidal. Of what order is a column, or rather a pilaster, where its height is little more than twice its diameter? Where is the base, the shaft, the capital, or any thing that belongs to a pillar, pillaster or portico? the truth and fact is this. The inner circle has 40 stones in it. Whence few or none but those two intervals upon the principal diameter, happen precisely to correspond with those of the outer circle. Whereby a much better effect is produc’d, than if the case had been as Webb would have it. For a regularity there, would have been

Plate 12. The Orthography of Stonehenge
Click to enlarge

Plate 12. The Orthography of Stonehenge

Plate 11. The Geometrical Ground plot of Stonehenge
Click to enlarge

Plate 11. The Geometrical Ground plot of Stonehenge

[Plate 11 is on the verso of Plate 12, and thus are out of order in the original--JBH]

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trifling and impertinent. Again, Mr. Webb makes these stones pyramidal in shape, without reason. They are truly flat parallelograms, as those of the outer circle. He says, p. 59. they are one foot and a half in breadth, but they are twice as much. Their general and designed proportion is 2 cubits, or two cubits and a half, as they happen’d to find suitable stones. A radius of 23 cubits strikes the inner circumference: of 24 the outer. They are, as we said before, a cubit thick, and 4 cubits and a half in height, which is above 7 foot. This was their stated proportion, being every way the half of the outer uprights. Such seems to have been the original purpose of the founders, tho’ ’tis not very precise, neither in design, nor execution. In some places, the stones are broader than the intervals, in some otherwise: so that in the ground-plot I chose to mark them as equal, each 2 cubits and a half. There are scarce any of these intire, as to all these dimensions; but from all, and from the symmetry of these Celtic kind of works, which I have been conversant in, I found this to be the intention of the authors. ’Tis easy for any one to satisfy themselves, they never were pyramidal; for behind the upper end of the adytum, there are three or four left, much broader than thick, above twice; and not the least semblance of a pyramid. I doubt not but he means an obelisk, to which they might some of them possibly be likened, but not at all to a pyramid. Nor indeed do I imagine any thing of an obelisk was in the founders view; but the stones diminish a little upward, as common reason dictates they ought to do. Nor need we bestow the pompous words of either pyramid, or obelisk upon them. For they cannot be said to imitate, either one or other, in shape, use, much less magnitude: the chief thing to be regarded, in a comparison of this sort. The central distance between these stones of the inner circle, measured upon their outward circumference, is 4 cubits. I observe further, that the two stones of the principal entrance of this circle, correspondent to that of the outer circle, are broader and taller, and set at a greater distance from each other, being rather more than that of the principal entrance in the outer circle. It is evident too, that they are set somewhat more inward than the rest; so as that their outward face stands on the line that marks the inner circumference of the inner circle. I know no reason for all this, unless it be, that the outside of these two stones, is the outside of the hither end of the ellipsis of the adytum: for so it corresponds by measure upon the ground-plot. This is apparent, that they eminently point out the principal entrance of that circle, which is also the entrance into the adytum. For five stones on this hand, and five on that, are as it were the cancelli between the sanctum and sanctum sanctorum, if we may use such expressions. ’Tis scarce worth mentioning to the reader, that there never were any imposts over the heads of these stones of the inner circle. They are sufficiently fasten’d into the ground. Such would have been no security to them, no ornament. They are of a harder kind of stone than the rest, as they are lesser; the better to resist violence.

There are but nineteen of the whole number left; but eleven of them are standing in situ. There are five in one place standing contiguous, three in another, two in another. The walk between these two circles, which is 300 foot in circumference, is very noble and very delightful. Probably it gave Inigo Jones the idea of designing that fine circular portico, which is one great beauty, among many, in his drawings for White-hall, publish’d lately from the originals by my Lord Burlington; who has a true notion of the extraordinary merit of that great man: and very commendably has reviv’d his memory. Such a circular portico put in execution, would have a marvellous effect, much exceed a common gallery in use, because ’tis a perpetual walk, without turning back, and well becomes a royal residence. The best view of this sort, to be had from our work, is from the north, as in TAB. XVII. the reader cannot TAB. XVII. but observe, how little pretence here is for an imitation of Greek or Roman portico's, notwithstanding the grand and agreeable curve of the outward circle.

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[paragraph continues] But when we see the disproportion of the inner circle in regard to any purpose of this sort, we must own the invention of Hermogenes in contriving the pseudo-dipteros, is here apply’d with an ill grace. The founders of Stonehenge cou’d have no need of make-shifts for want of room on Salisbury plain. Or how could a concentric row of little stones, or pillars if he will so have it, bear any resemblance to the contrivance of Hermogenes, which consisted in having none; in taking away the whole inner row of pillars, so as to add to the convenience of room, and preserve the aspect, at the same time? Most undoubtedly the Druids had no further meaning in it, than to make use of the even numbers of 30 greater stones, and 40 lesser stones; and this was to produce a more perplexed variety, by the interstices having no regard to one another. So far were they from having a notion of Grecian beauty, in the pillars of circular portico's being set on the same radius; pillar answering to pillar, intercolumniation to intercolumniation. And this will be shown repeatedly in the progress of this work, to be the common practice of the Druids in other like instances.

But when we consider the cell, as Mr. Webb names it, we find him guilty of great disingenuity, in ill conceiving the form of it, and in distorting his ground-plots, to colour it over the better. The minute you enter this adytum, TAB. XVIII. as in TAB. XVIII. you discover ’tis not a hexagon, nor ever was intended for one, and there can be no greater absurdity than to imagine it one. It is in truth compos’d of certain compages of stones, which I shall call trilithons, because made, each of two upright stones, with an impost at top: and there are manifestly 5 of these trilithons remaining. But the naked eye easily discovers, they are very far from making 5 sides of a hexagon. They cannot be brought to any approach, of a truly circular polygon. 3 trilithons of the 5 are remaining entire, 2 are ruin’d indeed, in some measure, but the stones remain in situ. And nothing is easier, than to take the ground-plot, from symmetry and correspondency. We see the two trilithons on the wings or sides of the adytum, are set almost in a strait line, one of another; when in a hexagon form, they ought to make a considerable angle. If you examine them trigonometrically, the true angle of an hexagon is 120 degrees, but here is an angle of near 150. And by making it an hexagon, he supposes one trilithon entirely gone, that nearest the grand entrance, when there is not the least appearance that ever there were such stones there. No cavity in the earth, no stump or fragment visible, nor is it easy to imagine, how 3 stones of so vast a bulk could have been clean carried away, either whole or in pieces. There is no room for them to have been carried away whole, no traces of their having been thrown down, broke in pieces and so carried away. This outer side of the work being the most perfect of the whole. Of the ruins of the other trilithons, there is not the least part wanting. What has been thrown down and broke, remains upon the spot. But this trilithon in dispute, must needs have been spirited away, by nothing less than Merlin's magic, which erected it, as the monks fable. Besides, if it were still standing, it would be very far from making this adytum a regular hexagon, to which he has accommodated his peripteros scheme: p. 87. Further, granting it was a regular hexagon, it would be very far from corresponding with that scheme, or have the least appearance, of its being taken from such a one. For our editor there, has converted the cell quite from the nature of that at Stonehenge. He has made the upper end of his cell at the letter H opposite to the grand entrance G, not a trilithon as it is notoriously at Stonehenge, but an angular interval between 2 trilithons. It is not the side of the figure, but the angle. Whereas it is most notorious at Stonehenge, that the upper end of the adytum opposite to the grand entrance, and to the whole length of the avenue and entrance between it and the area, is a trilithon; not an angle or interval. And that trilithon is exceeding stately, tho’ in ruins, one of the upright stones being fallen, the other

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leaning. So that here, we have the cell converted full a 6th part of the whole compass, from its true and original situation, and so in all the schemes of Mr. Webb's book, not one excepted. In that, for instance, Scheme I, p. 56, the high altar is plac’d at D not against a trilithon, as it ought to be, opposite to the grand entrance in the front of the temple, and to the (only) entrance below, into the area, but against an angle between two. If then you suppose that hexagon remov’d back a 6th part, so as that a trilithon be set behind the high altar, as it is really in the thing its self, and upon the principal diameter of the whole work: then this absurd consequence follows, that the opposite trilithon of the cell stands in the very midst of the entrance into the cell, upon the same principal ground-line or diameter of the work, and quite obstructs the view and entrance into it. It is altogether as ridiculous, as if a dead wall was built under St. Paul's organ-loft, which is and ought to be the chief entrance into the choir. Besides, by Webb's ground-plots and uprights, it seems as if, when you entered this adytum, there were 3 trilithons on the right, and 3 on the left, whereas it is most obvious, there are but two on the right, and two on the left; when you advance into it, the orderly way, from the northeast grand entrance of the avenue; which he himself p. 55. owns to be the principal. But I am tired of so ungrateful a task, which necessity alone could have extorted from me.

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