The Archaeologists


Lake House, Amesbury,
August 13th, 1846.


CHAPTER I. Origin and Progress of Idolatry ....... 1
CHAPTER II. On Barrows ....... 9
CHAPTER III. Origin and Extent of Druidism ....... 16
CHAPTER IV. Silbury Hill ........ 30
CHAPTER V. On the Serpent at Abury ....... 43
CHAPTER VI. The Temples at Abury ........ 55
CHAPTER VII. Temples at Abury continued—Grand Astronomical Diagram ....... 66
CHAPTER VIII. Temples of Mercury and Venus ....... 73
CHAPTER IX. Ancient British Trackway ... 83
CHAPTER X. St. Ann's Hill—Remarks on the Feudal System .... 91
CHAPTER XI. Temples of Mars and Jupiter ....... 102
CHAPTER XII. Stonehenge ....... 110
CHAPTER XIII. Names of Stonehenge ........ 115
CHAPTER XIV. Stonehenge continued ....... 126
CHAPTER XV. On the Fosse of Stonehenge, and the Stones located on it ....... 133
CHAPTER XVI. Stonehenge the conjoint Temple of Saturn and the Sun ........ 150
CHAPTER XVII. Temple of Saturn continued ....... 164
CHAPTER XVIII. The Platonic Cycle ....... 177
CHAPTER XIX. Summary of the foregoing Arguments, and Conclusion ....... 184





It pleased the Almighty, in his infinite wisdom, to select from among the nations of the earth one chosen race to keep alive the spirit of true religion, to preserve the knowledge of Himself, the one true and only God, to be the depository of His laws, and the promulgators of His counsels to future and successive generations. In His unerring wisdom, and for reasons inscrutable by man, He withdrew the light of His countenance from the rest of the world, and yielded them up to their own hearts lusts. The consequence was, that they forgot God, and gave themselves up to idolatry, they worshipped the created instead of the Creator, and well may we believe, that thus the holy Psalmist was in the grief of his heart tempted to exclaim, "the whole world lieth in wickedness." In the divine appointment of one day in seven to keep it holy in remembrance of the Creation, the wisdom of God manifestly shines forth. By ceasing to labour after the sixth day, man is afforded an interval to recruit his [2] strength, and the hebdomadal recurrence of this day reminds and admonishes him of his duties of prayer and praise to his great Creator, for His mercies vouchsafed unto him; and there can be no doubt, that a tradition of this Divine appointment prevailed generally throughout the world; but, when man forgot the one only true and living God, there is every reason to believe, that the earlier objects of his adoration were the Sun and Moon alone. The worship of the Planets arose in Chaldaea, and from thence pervaded Egypt and Arabia, and spread far and wide. At the entrance of the Israelites into the promised land all the surrounding nations were more or less imbued with this sin. It is supposed, that the Sun and Moon were the deities spoken of in Scripture under the titles of Baal and Ashtaroth. They imparted names to the two first days of the septenary cycle, or the week, as is apparent by the Sun-day, and Moon-day, even in Christian times, and it was easy (whether written numerals were then in use or not) to reckon the remainder of the week-days until the recurring Sunday again arrived. I must here beg leave to quote from Caesar a passage admirably illustrative of this subject, and to which it will be necessary to refer again in a future portion of this work. In describing the manners and customs of the Germans in his days, he says, "Deorum numero eos solos ducunt, quos cemunt, et quorum opibus aperte juvantur, Solem et Vulcanum, et Lunam; reliquos ne fama quidem acceperunt." Here Caesar confirms my [3] assertion, of the at first partial adoption of the planetary system for the purpose of idolatry. According to him the knowledge of astronomy amongst this portion of the Gothic race was limited to the greater luminaries alone. The deeper extent of science, which long before pervaded Chaldaea, and the neighbouring states, doubtlessly at length reached Germany and the other Gothic nations, and the minor planets became more generally known. It further appears, that the Germans, beside the Sun and Moon, were worshippers of fire. Nothing than this can be more natural. We can easily suppose, that, in the absence of the Sun and in the darkness of night, his devout worshippers would console themselves with the presence of fire, as partaking of the same elementary substance, and, therefore, well calculated to be considered as his representative. There is still a sect of fire worshippers resident at Bombay, said to be descended from the ancient Persians, they are called Parsees, and in their houses a perpetual fire is religiously maintained.

Pagans as they are, they are the most wealthy and influential inhabitants of that place, and are generally bankers and merchants. The worship of fire was also maintained in its utmost purity in ancient Rome, and the permanent fire in the Temple of Vesta was carefully preserved under the guardianship of the Vestal Virgins.

I very strongly suspect, that our early forefathers were worshippers of fire, if we may believe Solinus, who hi his "Polyhistor," has this passage: "In quo spatio magna et multa flumina, fontes calidi opiparo exculti [4] apparatu ad usus mortalium; quibis fontibus praesul est Minervse numen in cujus aede perpetui ignes nunquam canescunt in favillas sed ubi ignis tabuit yertit in globes saxeos." This passage evidently refers to Aquae Solis (modern Bath) where, a few years since, was discovered a curious sculpture, being the centre of the tympanum of a pediment of a temple ; on it was sculptured a head, surrounded with the symbols of Apollo and Minerva. Two ancient authors assert^ one, that at Aquae Solis (Bath) was a temple dedicated to Apollo, the other that there was a temple dedicated to Apollo and Minerva; this latter allegation, in conjunction with the sculptured head surrounded with the symbols of each, may be considered as bearing testimony to the existence of a conjoint temple of Apollo medicus and Minerva medica. We have here also reason to think, that our early ancestors knew the use of coal in that part of the country, so productive of that mineral, the "globos saxeos" significantly refers to its cinders, when deprived of the bitumen. In progress of time, the other five and minor planets arrested the attention of the astronomic world, and, as the worshippers of the two greater luminaries found that they apparently partook of the nature of the sun, (inasmuch, as Macrobius observes, they regarded them as scintillζ struck off, as it were, from the greater body), they not only included the whole of them within the number of their deities, but opportunely transferred the names of the planets to the days of the cycle of the week, equal as [5] they observed them to be in number. Thus was established in full the system of Sabaism, or the worship of the Planets. In the latter days of ancient Egypt, and in the more palmy days of ancient Greece and Rome^ the inhabitants of these states, in the midst of their refinements, dropped the more pure worship of the planets, but, having personified them, they invented a more complex scheme of gods and goddesses, to whom they attributed human passions, and founded a system fraught with credulity and superstition. So much for the rise and progress of Heathenism.

Stone temples are found in all parts of the world, whether inhabited by Celt or Goth, for at a later period all the early inhabitants of the globe seem to have been classed under these two appellatives. I shall not make any attempt to trace their limits, as it is unnecessary for the purposes of this dissertation; and I fear, that in the attempt I should lead myself and readers into a labyrinth, from whence we should find it difficult to emerge. These stone temples are usually circular, and in every instance devoid of a roof. They were, in my opinion, ancient Temples of the Sun; they well accord with the shape of his disc, and the regularly encircling stones not inaptly represent his rays, and how well do these stone temples correspond with the previous quotation from Caesar, as, from their inmost recesses, these pristine idolaters could view the open sky, and there behold the wandering Sun by day, and Planets by night, whom, from their apparent powers of voluntary locomotion, [6] they accustomed themselves to hail with paeans of joy and praise, and to regard as their tutelary deities. The Sun even to this present day is the prime object of adoration with the inhabitants of Mexico and Peru.

How well can I image to myself the rude inhabitants of the surrounding villages at stated seasons issuing forth from their fragile huts, wending their way to the Temple of the Sun, and there lifting up their hands and eyes in useless supplication to him, whom they could see ; by whose aid they supposed themselves to be openly assisted; there raising their voices with the ardent, but vain imagination, that he whom they saw through their roofless temple in the sky above, could hear, and would duly attend to their clamorous request! In concluding these brief and imperfect remarks on the origin and progress of idolatry, I know not that I can take a fitter occasion for laying before my readers the full scope of the hypothesis, which will be attempted to be developed in this work.

My hypothesis then is as follows: that our ingenious ancestors portrayed on the Wiltshire Downs, a, Planetarium or stationary Orrery, if this anachronism maybe allowed me, located on a meridional line, extending north and south, the length of sixteen miles; that the planetary temples thus located, seven in number, will, if put into motion, be supposed to revolve around Silbury Hill as the centre of this grand astronomical scheme; that thus Saturn, the extreme planet to the south, would in his orbit describe a circle with a diameter [7] of thirty-two miles; that four of these planetary temples were constructed of stone, those of Venus, the Sun, the Moon, and Saturn; and the remaining three of earth, those of Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter, resembling the "Hill Altars" of Holy Scripture; that the Moon is represented as the satellite of the Sun, and, passing round him in an epicycle, is thus supposed to make her monthly revolution, while the Sun himself pursues his annual course in the first and nearest concentric orbit, and is thus successively surrounded by those also of the planets, Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn; that these planetary temples were all located at due distances from each other; that the relative proportions of those distances correspond with those of the present received system; and that, in three instances, the sites of these temples bear in their names at this day plain and indubitable record of their primitive dedication. Now, further, as to the four temples constructed of stone, I shall be able to shew that they consisted of a certain definite number of stones, and by an analysis of their details I shall shew, that these details are resolvable into every known astronomical cycle of antiquity, whilst the other appendages attached to, but not forming component parts of three of such temples, are resolvable only into numerical cycles; and that these planetary temples taken synthetically, and as a whole, were intended to represent the magnus annus, the great year of Plato, the cycle of cycles, (well known before the days of Plato, but he, being esteemed the Solomon of [8] his age, this most celebrated of all cycles took its name from him), when the planets, some revolving faster, some slower in their several courses, would all simultaneously arrive at the several points from whence they originally started, and that then the old world would end, and a new world spring into being.

Such was, in my humble opinion, the grand astronomical scheme, that was originally portrayed on the face of this most interesting of all counties, the county of Wilts, to develop which at large is the task I have set myself, and now propose to enter on.




An inquiry into the origin of the stone structures of Stonehenge and Abury, necessarily calls for a preliminary inquiry as to the Tumuli, with which each of them is surrounded.

The simple interment of the human body has been, there is no doubt, the custom from the earliest times; and the place of sepulture has been temporarily distinguished by the lowly mound, destined early to sink into, or to be trodden level with, the surrounding land.

The lofty tumulus, fitted to bear its record to succeeding ages, is the exception to this general usage, and is to be found nearly throughout the habitable world—in all countries, whether inhabited by the Gothic or Celtic race.

It is a remarkable fact, that the Greek and Latin languages contain no specific word, whereby to denominate the raised place of sepulture, no word synonymous with that of the Saxon appellative, Barrow; from whence it may be inferred, that it was not with them an ordinary mode of interment. It is very true, that Homer, Virgil, and other classic authors, do describe in glowing colours the honoured interments of their heroes [10] and chieftains; but these are the exceptions to the general rule.

In this country tumuli have been found of three distinct ζras the most early of which has been considered as Celtic. In Barrows belonging to this period coins are never found, and, in general, their contents appear more rude and primitive. Urns are found in them, but merely formed by the hand, not with the lathe, and hardened imperfectly either by exposure to the sun, or by a slow fire; and they usually contain fragments of burned human bones, beads of amber, jet, glass, and stone, spear-heads of copper amalgamated with tin, stone celts, &c. and very rarely articles of pure gold, which from its extreme thinness, appears to have been considered very valuable by them.

The second species of Barrow is that of the Romanized Briton, who, during the protracted stay of the Romans in this country, for the lengthened period of four centuries, became so coalesced with them, as to adopt their coinage, &c. These are found few and far between; and such have been recently and successfully explored at Bartlow, in Essex, by John Gage Rokewood, Esq.

The third species of Barrow, of still later date, is that of the Britons, who were living in the days of the Saxons. These are found congregated in numerous groups on the Kentish Downs, and many of them having been opened some years since by the late Rev. James Douglas, their contents were described, and [11] formed the beautiful illustrations of his learned work the "Nenia Britannica;" they consisted of elegant circular and enamelled fibulse, of copper and glass vessels, and other rare and curious articles. On the decease of Mr. Douglas, the collection was purchased by the late Sir R. C. Hoare, Bart., and by him liberally presented to the Ashmolean Museum, of which it forms a prominent feature, and is much admired by its numerous visitors.

To return to the Celtic Barrows of the Wiltshire Downs, I cannot for a moment assent to fix an origin either to them, or to Stonehenge and Abury, (both of which structures they surround) other than one far remote from the days of Caesar. I am strongly inclined to think, that these pristine temples (for so will I now call them) were antiquities even in the days of Caesar. I think that the Romans may have walked around them. and, amazed at their solemn grandeur, have pondered within their minds on their origin, if not on their use; for I think it extremely probable, that in their times, Abury and Stonehenge may have ceased to have been resorted to, even as places of worship, that in their days these curious structures, standing in the centres of expanded plains, may even then have pointed at the tale of other and more distant ages. I think it extremely probable, that later times may have brought with them other manners and customs to a more modern people. In corroboration of these opinions, I will mention the following curious and interesting fact, that, although I [12] connect the numerous sepulchral tumuli scattered on the downs around Abury and Stonehenge with those religious temples, although the manners and customs of the ancient Britons became blended with those of the Romans during their lengthened stay of four hundred years, although they adopted, as we may rationally presume, their military weapons, their personal clothing and ornaments, their coinage, their vessels of pottery, their domestic furniture, and agricultural implements, yet in the opening of some hundred Barrows, by my late friend. Sir R. C. Hoare, (at which I was present) not a single discovery was made of a Roman coin, a Roman urn, a fragment even of Roman pottery, or any article whatever, which tended to demonstrate the then connection of the aboriginal Britons, (whose sepulchral interments they were) with the Roman people, no relic has yet been found, which proves, that the tribes who interred their dead within the sacred precincts of these venerated temples were Romanized Britons.

In proof of this identity between the later Britons and the Romans, let it be remarked, that in many parts of the surrounding downs, where the surface has never been broken by the invading plough, the sites of the villages, the habitations of the early inhabitants, are to be found and readily discerned. These spots are marked by the surest indicia of long residence; externally, the surface of the ground is of superior verdure, rough, with intermingled banks and excavations; and, in levelling these banks, there are found beneath them [13] quantities of large flints, mingled with fragments of British and Roman pottery, broken quern stones, coins of the lower Roman empire, &c.

With this fact arises another curious and very interesting arrangement, which is the connecting medium between one British village and another after the shades of night had set in. In those early times the Britons had not the advantage of artificial light; nor, indeed, even in modern days, would the candle and lanthorn avail a man wending his steps over the expanse of downs, with no mark to guide him. He, who thus ventured on his way, might probably, after walking for hours, as he supposed, in a straightforward direction, find himself on the rise of the moon, or at the dawn of day, at the rear of the point, from whence he started. To obviate this inconvenience, the ancient Britons had recourse to the following ingenious and successful plan, capable only of an advantageous execution in a calcareous soil. To unite one village with another, they formed a fosse of from four to five feet in depth, and about three feet in width at the bottom, so as to enable two persons to walk abreast; the banks expanding upwards were nicely curved, as they remain to the present day; the chalk thus thrown on the verge of the banks formed a bright and whitened line on either hand, leaving a path in the hollowed centre, from whence with common care they could not easily emerge; thus did they create "a lanthorn unto their feet, and a light unto their paths," and arrived with safety and certainty [14] at their destined goal. An illustrative example of this well-planned scheme occurs near my own residence. From an ancient British village on my own lands issues such a fosse, as I have described; it takes its course across the downs for the distance of about two miles, where it unites with a second similar place of residence; from thence it again emerges, and, passing over the brow of a hill, at the distance of about another mile, it again connects itself with the evident site of a third ancient British village.

It remains now only to say a few words relative to the skeletons found in these Celtic Barrows. On the average not more than one in six or seven contains human bones in an unburned state, and in such instances usually from one to five or six skeletons are found; these lie in all directions, and, if immured in chalk, are generally in a remarkable state of preservation, the skulls retaining all the teeth, and the teeth all their enamel; the bones appear to be those of every age from the infant to the adult, but on comparison of them with those of the living exemplar, it becomes manifest, that this ancient and Celtic race did not exceed the medium height of man in these modern days; and thus is negatived the absurd notion, that Stonehenge, and other temples were erected by a race of giants.

I cannot conclude this chapter without noticing the connection between the Celtic Barrows and the sacred temples of Abury and Stonehenge. Here I beg leave to quote Stukeley, who in his "Abury Described," p. [15] 40, in his delightfully simple language, thus writes: "So many ages as Abury was the great cathedral, the chief metropolitical or patriarchal temple of the island, no wonder there are an infinite number of these barrows about it. Great princes, and men within a considerable tract of country round here, would naturally choose to leave their mortal remains in this sacred ground, more peculiarly under the divine regard. Every hill-top within view of the place is sure to be crowned with them. As at Stonehenge, so here, there are great varieties of them, which no doubt, originally, had their distinctions of the quality and profession of the person interred." To these remarks of Stukeley I will only add, that the prominent view of these sepulchral tumuli from the temples themselves, served to keep alive, in the minds of surviving relatives and neighbours, the hallowed remembrances of the departed.




Various have been the writers, and as various their opinions, on the British stone temples of Stonehenge and Abury; but Stonehenge (the compound temple of Saturn and. the Sun,) retaining a greater portion of its original form till more modern days, has ever attracted the chief attention of the learned.

Stukeley was the first who called the public attention to the magnificent compages of antiquities at Abury, which consisted of the temples of the Sun and Moon, located in the northern portion of the Ecliptic, which is designated by a serpent, and delineated by large upright stones. Stukeley published his valuable work of "Abury Described" in the year 1743, but even in his days the work of dilapidation had made far progress, and very many of its stones had been broken up for building houses, stables, pigsties, aye, and even for the repair of the roads! The work of destruction has ruthlessly gone on to the present day, and so few stones, out of about 650, are now left, that we may truly say with a sigh, "Ilium fuit." Stukeley, however, with most laudable perseverance, accurately surveyed, and [17] measured the ground-plan of these magnificent antiquities, and, with an admirable correctness, he, from the remains yet standings proved, and made out one concordant whole. Labouring in the true spirit of enquiry after the truths he was induced to attribute both Abury and Stonehenge to the agency of the Druids, though he fails to acquaint us who those mystic sages were, audit is now my special object to enquire. The Druids (whatever their origin might have been) were indubitably the priests of the people, and not the people themselves, as they have erroneously been considered even by writers of eminence. When I say, that Abury and Stonehenge were constructed by the Druids, I mean, that they provided the master mind to plan and to direct, whilst the multitude, all obedient, yielded their united strength and powers to put their plan into execution. At first, beyond a doubt, the whole world was bonded together by one common language, and this has ever been considered by our most learned and skilful linguists to have been the Hebrew. Closely allied dialects of this primitive language pervaded the countries of Chaldaea, Egypt, Syria, Phoenicia, &c. With the exception of the Hebrews, who were the chosen race of God, to be the depositaries, and the promulgators of his laws and ordinances, we may well presume, that Sabaeism, or the worship of the planets, did ere long prevail generally throughout the world. From this primaeval, and comparatively pure idolatry, the Egyptians were the first to swerve, and together with the planets they, in process [18] of time, established other fictitious Deities, and descended to the worship of animals, &c. The Greeks and Romans also^ who were^ in their later age, esteemed the most refined and civilized nations on earth, became most debased in their religious systems, they personified the planets, they increased much their deities in number, and established polytheism in its fullest extent. They recognised as supreme a Holy Family, to whom they attributed not only all the virtues, but all the vices and follies, of frail and mortal man. So much was this the case, that it is difficult to believe, that Cicero, Socrates, and others, the most learned of the ancients, could have believed or trusted in their absurd mythologies. With the exception of the Hebrews, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans, we may well believe that Sabaeism, or the worship of the planets, still occupied the minds of men, and was the prevailing religion of the world.

To the priests of this extensive and prevailing religion, we have every reason to believe was imparted the generic appellation of "the Druids." "The religion of the Druids" is allowed, says Smith, in his "Galic Antiquities," to have been of the same antiquity with that of the Magi of Persia, Brachmans of India, and Chaldees of Babylon and Chaldaea." The wise men of the East, who honoured our Saviour's birth, and offered him "gold, and frankincense, and myrrh," were, doubtlessly, eminently skilled in the sister sciences of astronomy and astrology, in fact they were Sabeans, [19] may we not say, that they were Druids? In further consideration of this subject, it becomes necessary to advert to the etymology of the word Druid. This has been generally, though most erroneously, considered to have sprang from the Greek word δρΰς an oak, but the word was, curiously enough, well known, and in general use before the Greek language had existence; this error, however, led to a second one greatly deceptive, it led subsequently, to the connection in imagination of these sages with woods and groves, it gave them falsely "a local habitation and a name," and became the medium of their supposed connection with the misseltoe. A better, and probably more correct, derivation of the word Druid, is given by Cooke in his "Enquiry into the Patriarchal and Druidical Religion."

"The word Drew or Druid," says he, "I would derive not from δρΰς oak, for the order was prior to the word, but from the Hebrew דרוד signifying, according to Marius de Calashio, "Liberty, or exemption from all secular employments." These exemptions and exclusions have in all ages and nations had the effect of rendering the priesthood more especially the depositaries of learning, the skilled in the arts and sciences; this has been the case with the Druids of ancient days, and with the Jesuits of more modern times. Various ancient authors contain notices more or less of the Druids, but so vague, and withal so contradictory, that I was at one time inclined to omit the notice of them in this work, and to treat their existence and history [20] wholly as a fable, but, on the collation of numerous authors, I find the concurring testimony of their existence so strange that I am compelled to admit it, and to separate the truth and .the falsehood of the details of their history, as well as I can. The stories related of these sages are highly improbable, but the principles and opinions which we imbibe in our early years, usually stick fast by us; we look back on our scholastic exercises, and recall to our minds the delight of our imaginations, when we pictured to ourselves the white-robed Druid ascending the sacred oak, and with the golden hook cutting off the still more sacred misseltoe, when we heard the deafening shouts of the assembled multitude, as he waved with his hand the mystic branch. On the other hand, we remember again the horror, with which we shrank into ourselves, when we viewed, as we thought, the wicker image filled with its holocaust of human beings, when we saw their writhings, heard their cries, and felt their pangs, but we will draw the veil over these horrors; let it suffice to say, that I receive the assertions of classic authors as to circumstances, of which they do not assert personal knowledge, cum maximo grano salis; I believe, that assertion and verity are very often at variance in their pages. There is more or less said of Druidism by many ancient authors, such as Strabo, Pliny, Lucan, Pomponius Mela, Ammianus Marcellinus, Caesar, Tacitus, &c. &c. The classic authors are not only vague, and confined in their notices of the Druids, but contradic- [21] tory; Caesar says, that the Germans had no Druids, "neque Druides habent, qui rebus divinis praesint, neque sacrificiis student." Tacitus, however, affirms that they had Druids, and he is correct. Keysler, in his "Antiquitates Septentrionales" (Hanover, 1720) gives plates of the Druidical temples then existing, and, doubtlessly, still existing in Holstein; in fact, the northern German principalities are full of them. One of them he depicts with superincumbent imposts as at Stonehenge. Olaus Magnus and Rudbeck also bear testimony to stone temples in the states of Denmark and Sweden. Now to suppose temples without the concomitant of a priesthood, would be an absurdity far from us; and what should their priests be but Druids? They must fall into that analogous class, for it is impossible to suppose for a moment, that they assimilated with the priesthood of Egypt, Greece, or Rome. The history of these early sages, however, is very indefinitely given by ancient authors, who attribute to them manners and customs, to which, I am convinced, they were utter strangers; amongst other things they make them resort to woods and groves, and yet we find their temples in the most open and champain countries.

This contradiction has in vain endeavoured to be reconciled by the gratuitous assumption, that the open expanse has been caused by the destructive axe and mattock of the ruthless Roman; but there is no record of such a destruction by the Romans, and no reason to presume it; independently of which many of such structures exist in those distant countries, into which the Romans never penetra- [22] ted, and which are likewise found in plains, heaths, and moors. Not satisfied with the proved fact, that plains and open countries are the sites of the temples of the Druids, these unbelievers cry out "let us to the woods repair;" yet unconvinced, they still credit the belief, that the Romans denuded the grounds surrounding the existing temples by the destruction of the sacred groves, whilst they pass by without consideration the ungeniality of the soil to produce those native groves and woods. I readily acknowledge, that a large portion of this island was covered with woods in the days of Druidism. All countries in an aboriginal state present an alternation of woods and plains; this was both the case, as is well known, with America, and with New South Wales, and the general features of this country still remain the same, the woody regions are yet the most woody, and the champain parts are still the most open and champain; nature hath not interchanged her soils with the progress of years. Many of the aboriginal forests and woods, the forests of Dean, Rockingham, Wichwood, Chamwood, Bere, &c. still exist as such, many yet also retain their original names, as the forest of Selwood, Pewsham, &c. but from the change of the state of society are now broken into well-defined and bounded modern woods and copses, and others have altogether lost their names; but such woody regions are still known in many countries by the general appellation of the "Woodlands; but in none of those forests, in none of those woody regions, are the altars of the Druids, or their temples, now to be met with, but here these unbelievers will say [23] the Romans have destroyed them:'' they will thus make, I presume, in the one instance, the Romans to have destroyed the groves, and spared the temples; in the other, to have destroyed the temples, and to have spared the groves:

"The mouse, content with one poor hole,
Can never be a mouse of any soul."

We find the temples mirabile dictu! where we ought not to find them, and where we should meet with them, alas! they are not to be found!

Let us, however, leave the forests and woods, where we may search in vain, and again visit the sites most ungenial for timber, the plains, the heaths, and the moors, and here we do find the ancient temples of stone, the groves rooted up as these cavillers will say, their temples still remaining; but, assuming (what I will not admit) the aboriginal existence of the groves, why should the Romans have rooted up the comparatively unoffending trees and left the temples standing? the precise scenes (as they must have supposed) of superstition and barbarity, and yet how easily could these have been destroyed? The temple of Rowlwright, for instance, well known to me, a cirque consisting of slab-like lamellar stones, could with ease be demolished by a man with a sledge-hammer in a few hours. In he isles of Scilly, the Hebrides, and the Orkneys my readers will find ancient temples of stone, but will they meet with woods and groves? will they aver, will they believe, that at any time such temples in those sites were ever surrounded with woods and groves? Again [24] in Russia, Sweden, and Denmark; they will find these venerable temples, but although they may meet in those northern climes the forests of pine, yet will they find concomitant groves of oak clothed with the parasitic misseltoe? I presume not. Let them, however, not be satisfied with my assertions, let them satisfy themselves, let them range the native forests and woods of Britain, let them extend their travels throughout the continent of Europe, let them again and again explore the most secret recesses of its forests and woods, from Dan even to Beersheba, for a peregrination equal to the siege of Troy, and yet I suspect, I strongly suspect, that, so far as regards stone temples, seated in woods and forests, they will on their return exclaim that "all is barren."

From whence this country was first peopled is a very disputed point; certainly its inhabitants were not [Greek], nor were they, as the Arcades boasted of themselves, [Greek] "before the moon,'' but it was probably first settled by the Phoenicians in its western parts, and far inland, as traced by the presence of their temples, and by the remains of their language, who, in the earliest times, traded with this country for tin. The eastern coasts probably derived their first inhabitants from the continent, as the tide of population flowed from the east to the west, one swarm pushing on another from the officinβ of nations, seated, according to Higgins, on the western shores of the Caspian Sea. Assuming that I am, with Aylett Sammes, in his "Britannia," correct in my hypothesis, that the west [25] of England, and a considerable portion of its inland parts, was first peopled by these maritime wanderers, the Phoenicians, I must add, that we have no record when their earliest visits took place, and no grounds for conjecture: assuming that this was the fact, I have no doubt, that they then introduced their religion, and their language, and that their priests, or Druids, were the constructors of the ancient temples of Stonehenge and Abury, and of the magnificent planetarium, the curious portraiture of which on the Downs of the county of Wilts it is the object of this work to develope. I will now endeavour to trace the course, by which these maritime adventurers approached the coasts of these now mighty realms. I think then, that setting sail from the coast of Phoenice, these hardy mariners came up the Mediterranean; that they founded Carthage on their way; that they passed the Straits of Gibraltar, at that time known as the Straits of Gades; that they founded Carthagena, or New Carthage, on the western coast of Spain; sailing across the Bay of Biscay, I further think, that they then touched on the coast of Brittany, and colonized those states, subsequently called by Caesar, "The states of Armorica;" and pursuing their course yet northward, that they seized on the Scilly Isles; settled themselves in Cornwall; on the coast of Wales, in the Isles of Anglesea and Man; and, probably, on the eastern coast of Ireland, on the western coast of Scotland, and the Hebrides. From hence arise the strong correspondences of [26] language between the respective inhabitants of parts of the Mediterranean coasts, of Bretagne, Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Hence the analogy between the vernacular language of Brittany, the ancient Cornish, (now extinct) the Welch, the Erse, and the Galic tongues, which has ever been remarked and acknowledged. Plautus, in one of his Dramas, (the Penulus) introduces a native Carthagenian, speaking in the Punic language, and it is a remarkable fact, that General Vallencey, a learned Irishman, succeeded in translating, through the medium of his native Irish, these Punic passages in Plautus!

The history of the Druids is very indefinitely given by ancient authors, who attribute to them manners and customs, to which I am convinced, that they were utter strangers. Amongst other unproved assertions they make them resort to woods and groves, and yet we ever find their temples in the most open and champain countries. The Greeks and Romans had a great hatred for the Druids, they persecuted them, and at last extirpated both them and their religion; and for this a sufficient cause may be assigned. The religion of the Druids was more pure and innocent than that of the Greeks and Romans; and tacitly reproached them for the gross fables, which were attached to their incomprehensible and absurd mythologies, and the inhumanity of their gladiatorial shows; in fact, whilst their superior virtues shed lustre on Druidism, they threw into shade the debased religion of the Greeks and Romans. It is [27] certain, that these more refined people, as they vainly accounted themselves, did occasionally resort to human sacrifice, and, feeling the just imputations, which lay on them for this savage cruelty, they retaliated on the Druids, and calumniously accused them of immolating a holocaust of human victims, shut up in a wicker image, fashioned as a man, and made to surmount the fiery funeral pyre. A ludicrous representation of this lugubrious affair, may be seen in the "Britannia" of Sammes, p. 105. But no! I consider that this is nought but vengeful fiction, and that the Druids were innocent of such savage atrocity. Had such scenes been enacted at the temples of Abury and Stonehenge, or rather at these temples of the Sun, the Moon, and of Saturn, there would have been plenty of remains, if not above ground, at least beneath, of charcoal and ashes imperishable by the lapse of ages, even at the present day: but no! I suspect the Druids were Pythagoreans, and. averse from blood, they rejected even animal sacrifice, they were mild, holy, just, and good, and incapable of injury to any human being. In saying that the priests of the Wiltshire Downs were Pythagoreans, I do not mean to aver, that they lived after the time of Pythagoras; they were most probably his predecessors; but as Pythagoras did visit Egypt and the neighbouring states, and received from them those sublime principles, which he embodied in his celebrated "golden verses," before his retirement to Crotona, so I mean to say that they were actuated by these principles, which existed previous to his time [28] and which were imbibed by, and subsequently took the name of, that godlike man.

Of the Druids I could say much more, but I feel that I must have nearly exhausted the patience of my readers. I must, therefore, now hasten to the conclusion of this subject, and enter on the more appropriate and material object of my volume, the developement of the works of these mighty and sage philosophers. The Druids were indubitably the wisest of the wise, the most learned of their times; they were intimately skilled in astronomy and astrology, were well versed in the mechanic powers, they excelled in jurisprudence, and by their superior influence, they held an omnipotent sway over the minds and actions of the multitudes around them. They were well versed in Natural History, and the medicinal properties of plants, of which, it is said, they venerated, more especially, the misseltoe and the vervain, I do not wonder, that so curious and anomalous a parasite as the misseltoe engaged the attention of the Druids, but I cannot conceive how the vervain, regarded now as a weed, merited their regard; but God creates nothing in vain, and this humble plant may have possessed virtues of which we are now ignorant, yet certain it is, that the vervain is not included in the Materia Medica of the present day. The astronomy of the Druids, however, is that portion of their extensive science, which will shine forth most conspicuously in the interesting investigation of their temples of Abury and Stonehenge, &c.


Pomponius Mela thus bears testimony to the astronomical knowledge of the Druids. In his description of the exterior coast of Gaul we find these words: "Habent tamen et facundiam suam magistrosque sapientiae Druidas. Hi terrae mundique magnitudinem et formam motus caeli ac siderum ac quid Dei velint scire profitentur." Caesar thus speaks to the same effect: "Multa praeterea de sideribus atque eorum motu de mundi ac terrarum magnitudine de rerum natura de deorum immortalium vi ac potestate disputant et juventuti tradant."

The Druidical temples of Wilts, the Pyramids of Egypt, and the caves of Elora in Asia, were probably contemporary works, or nearly so. The temples were planned and constructed under the able superintendence of the British Druids, the mighty Pyramids owe their origin and scientific formation to the Egyptian priesthood, and the caves of Elora were fashioned without a doubt under the superintendence of the early Brachmans of India.

In these mighty works I do not imagine that recourse was had so much to the powers of machinery as, in these latter days, we may suppose.

In these several cases the philosophic priesthood found the master-mind to plan, to rear, and to construct, whilst the vast, the willing, and obedient multitude found the requisite powers to put duly those plans into execution, for

Union is Power.




Astronomy, as a science, took an early precedence, and those, whom at this day we account barbarians, possessed a knowledge, at which we ought worthily to wonder and admire. The early nations, having once adopted the Sun, Moon and Planets as gods, (although the first-named must have held the chief place in their estimation), we may well suppose, erected temples and paid individual worship to each, but, as the planets apparently partook also of the nature of the Sun, we may presume, that at varied times they paid worship to each in the same temple. In confirmation of this, Macrobius goes largely into the proof, that the ancients in their worship designated the Sun through the medium of the several planets. There have in earlier or later times been various systems of the Universe promulgated by successive theorists; Pythagoras led the way, and was followed, by Plato and Ptolemy, who each produced his differing scheme. In the fourteenth century arose up Copernicus, the author of the system now generally embraced, but which, as I believe, is not yet established on the surest grounds. Tycho Brahe endeavoured to [31] improve on this system of Copernicus, but his scheme has long since been discarded. Aristotle, and (in more modern days) Argolus and Ricciolus produced some variations in their leading systems, but failed to convince the world. It is quite unnecessary to enter into the details of their several systems, more than generally to observe, that, whilst some placed the Sun in the centre of the universe, others assigned that distinguished situation to the Earth.

The only name, by which this noble mound, which represents the Earth, and forms the centre of the Mundane system so ingeniously and laboriously pourtrayed on the face of the land, and around which all the planets may be supposed to revolve, is comparatively modern. It is of Saxon derivation, and thus, says Stukeley, "Silbury is the name of the hill given by our Saxon ancestors, meaning the great or marvellous hill. So Silchester, the Vindoma of the Romans, means the Great Chester." Cooke, in an anonymous and brief account of Abury, Stonehenge, &c. principally combined from the works of Stukeley, and printed by B. C. Collins of Salisbury, says thus of Silbury Hill, "The name of it is corrupted by the country people, and was either written or pronounced Silbarrow; and then it signifies no more than the peaceful grave, or, which is more likely, it was called Sil Barrow, the large or elevated barrow." A third etymology has been started, that its appellation is compounded of Sul, the British for the Sun, but as that luminary and great deity had a [32] temple at Abury, only one mile distant, and, as this enormous mound represents the Earth, around which the Sun is revolving, I must reject it. Of these proposed derivations I am inclined to think, that its name is pure Saxon, (for I do not like to go to two languages for the origin of a compound word), and I agree with Cooke, that it was probably Sil-barrow, signifying the great barrow, and that in progress of ages the word was corrupted into Silbury. This is the greatest barrow (if barrow it can be called) in these realms, or perhaps in the world, and it is a worthy centre to this stupendous astronomical scheme. Stukeley thus speaks of its vast dimensions: "The diameter of Silbury Hill at top is 165 feet, the same as Stonehenge. At bottom it is somewhat more than 500 feet, in reality 300 cubits, as at top 60 cubits; 100 cubits its exact perpendicular altitude. They, that have seen the circumference of Stonehenge, will admire, that such an area should be carried up 170 feet perpendicular with a sufficient base to support it, and they, that consider the geometry of this barrow, will be greatly pleased with the natural and easy proportion of it, but without actually seeing it we can scarce have a full idea of it. The solid contents of it amount to 13,558,809 cubic feet, some people have thought it would cost £20,000 to make such a hill." Thus says Stukeley, and every beholder of this vast mound of earth, raised by human labour, must experience similar sensations of astonishment. Great, however, as was the labour of raising this enormous [33] mound it appears more so to the beholder than was really the case since the natural ground, which is sunk around its base, constitutes for several feet the lower part of the base of the tumulus! Whether Stukeley and Sir R. C. Hoare took their admeasurements from the very base, (which is most probable) or, whether they allowed for this natural ground, I am not aware. In these great earthen works there is much illusion. Thus it is with the fosses at Old Sarum; as when the eye of the spectator looks upon the depth of the fosse he takes in at one scope of his vision the whole inclined plane from the bottom of the fosse to the top of the vallum, and he is lost in astonishment at the apparent vastness of the enterprise, and at the labour of the spade and pickaxe, whilst he never takes it into his contemplation, that the one half of the fosse alone has been excavated, and its contents raised upon the natural ground to form the vallum, and that thus the full fosse is formed from the united slope of the vallum and fosse. Sir R. C. Hoare, in speaking of Silbury Hill, thus saith, "If ten engineers were to survey this hill, I question if any two would perfectly agree, unless they should direct their chains exactly alike. The circumference of the hill, as near the base as possible, measured two thousand and 27 feet, the sloping height 310 feet, and the perpendicular height 170 feet; but, that part of our measurement, which will excite most surprise, is, that this artificial hill covers the space of five acres and 34 perches of land."


My late worthy friend seems, by these words, to have taken his admeasurement of height and circumference from, and at the very base, without deduction for the natural ground included within that circumference. I will, however, not cavil at this, as it was his desire to place it before his readers in all its apparent greatness. There appears between him and Stukeley, the discrepancy of fifteen feet as to the diameter of the top of this hill, but this may have arisen from various causes. If, however, the admeasurement of Stukeley was correct, the exact correspondency between the area of the top of Silbury Hill and the diameter of Stonehenge is most singular, and tends most strongly to prove the connexion between the several parts of the astronomical scheme, which I am now engaged in developing.

"For what purpose (continues Sir R. C. Hoare) this huge pile of earth was raised, appears to be beyond the reach of conjecture, but I think there can be no doubt, that it was one of the component parts of the grand temple of Abury, not a sepulchral monument, raised over the bones and ashes of a king, or Arch-Druid. The situation, opposite to the temple and nearly in the centre between the two avenues, seems in some degree to warrant the supposition. Stukeley, (p. 51), says, that the meridian line of the whole work passes from Silbury Hill to the centre of the temple at Abury, which observation, making the proper allowance for the variation of the compass, was found very nearly correct in the year 1814.''


Here Sir R. C. Hoare does seem to me to be too premature, when he says, "For what purpose this huge pile of earth was raised appears to be beyond the reach of conjecture," for, I trust, that I not only conjecture, but prove it to be the central representation of the earth, in this truly magnificent astronomical diagram, laid out on a meridian line, two and thirty miles in length. Sir R. C. Hoare again acknowledges, "that it was one of the component parts of the grand temple of Abury, not a sepulchral mound raised over the bones and ashes of a king, or Arch-Druid. The situation, opposite to the temple and nearly in the centre between the two avenues, seems in some degree to warrant the supposition."

Dr. Stukeley and Sir R. C. Hoare appear successively to have fallen into the same error, that is—to have confused, and connected the several parts of a whole, which ought to have been kept distinct in the mind; they have regarded the Serpent and Temple as one Temple, and that Silbury Hill was, though they knew not how, connected with that temple; and then, again dividing the parts, as they supposed, of the temple, they represented it as the portraiture of a serpent passing through a circle, and regarded the whole as a hieroglyphic! They seem both to have been ignorant of the fact, that the ancients did represent the Zodiac under the similitude of a serpent, or if aware of it, which from their extensive learning they could hardly have otherwise than been, the circumstance could not have occurred [36] to their minds, as the whole mystery would have been at once unravelled, and they would have seen with me, that this compages of antiquities did represent the Sun and Moon (by their temples) traversing the northern portion of the Zodiac, designated by the Serpent, and revolving around Silbury Hill as denotive of the Earth. Thus, and thus alone, have we the whole explained, and all its parts harmoniously combined. I have before shewn, that the word Abvri bears reference to a plurality of deities, signifying the "Mighty Ones," and I shall prove that here are the temples of the Sun and Moon, the chief deities amongst the early Sabaeans, or worshippers of the planets and stars. Thus have I brought the portions of this, as yet partial system of astronomy, into one harmonious and concordant whole, and thus, I trust, ere my work is brought to a close, so to combine it with the other planetary temples as to shew forth one entire mundane system. It has been observed to me, that the shape of Silbury Hill militates against the supposition, that it was intended to represent the earth. It is thus said, that the form of the earth is that of an oblate spheroid, whilst this hill presents the form of a cone to the eye. The objection, when duly considered, carries very little weight with it. In the first place, those early astronomers, erroneous as they were in placing the earth as the centre of the universe, may not have been quite cognizant of the shape of the earth. In the second place, another strong and valid reason presents itself for making [37] the representation of the earth to assume this conical form which is this, that, as we are not aware wherefore our heathen ancestry chose the north and south Wiltshire Downs, whereon to pourtray their gigantic astronomical diagram^ so it is evident, from the very form and place in which they did locate the temples of the Sun and Moon and the Zodiac at Abury, that they could not represent the Earth at any other spot than the one in which Silbury Hill is raised. Here they had a local difficulty to conquer, and they surmounted it in a way, which amply shews their ingenuity.

This peculiar spot is a hollow. nearly surrounded on all sides with moderately rising ground. It was evidently their object, that this important and representative mound should be visible from certain distances and certain points, and how was this to be effected? This vast work in its area now covers nearly six acres of ground, they might have made its base to extend over ten acres of ground, and only raised it half its height, but then their primary object would have been lost, they might thus have raised a hill somewhat in the form of an oblate spheroid, but then they would have hid it in a hollow! How were they to act? Why, to raise a cone of such a height as to rear its crest above the surrounding high ground, and at the same time to lessen their immense labours by the diminution of the base, and this they have done in such a way, as to call forth and demand the admiration of posterity. The geometry of Silbury Hill will not admit of improvement under [38] the hands of the most able tactician. In its full depth as a cone, it can be viewed only from one or two proximate situations. Its full view was not its primary intent; it was no Temple for the resort of worshippers, but it was the designation of a centre, around which the planets, represented by their temples, were supposed to revolve, and for this, whilst the base and lower parts of the cone were merely regarded as an accessory pedestal, its top, or upper part, as it more or less obtruded itself above the circumjacent rising grounds, when viewed from a distance, did aptly answer its intended purpose, that of representing the Earth.

I must now remark on the curious, though simple geometrical position of Silbury Hill. In the plan given by Stukeley of Abury and Silbury Hill, when taken in conjunction, he has represented the hill as centrically placed on an exact line drawn due east and west, from the head to the tail of the Serpent, and, I have no doubt, correctly so, as he had existing data for his sanction.

"Silbury," says he, "stands south of Abury, and exactly between the two extremities of the two avenues, the head and tail of the Snake."

In the analogous plan, given by Sir R. C. Hoare, there is some variation from this, as the Temple is placed somewhat to the north of the centre of the line connecting the head and the tail of the Serpent. The formerly existing data were gone, and "the places thereof knew them no more." The chorographer of Sir R. [39] C. Hoare thus inadvertently swerved from the original plan. Stukeley was evidently correct in the above description of the situation of Silbury Hill. He speaks with justice of the geometrical proportions of this enormous tumulus^ but to this testimony I will also add, that it is based on a geometrical figure, though a very simple one. This he fails to remark, whilst he unconsciously supplies the data. It is raised on the intersection of a cross, whose lines diverge to the cardinal points. Thus, if a meridional line be drawn due north and south through the centre of the circle of 100 stones, (which circle encloses within its area the Temples of the Sun and Moon, and is situate centrically on the neck of the sinuous Zodiac;) and, if another right line be drawn due east and west from the head to the tail of the Serpent, representing that Zodiac, then the intersection will be found on the centre of the base of the Earth, or Silbury Hill. Stukeley was often led by his fervour of mind into fancies, strange in themselves, and unworthy of credit. Having confusedly decided that the Temples and Serpent at Abury were one Temple, he supposed, that Silbury Hill was the mausoleum of the founder. He imagines this founder to have been "a famous king, Cunedha by name, who lived at Marlborough, called Kynyd Kyόidion, which we may English Cunidha of Marlborough, which name is mentioned in the ancient British genealogies, before the grandfather of King Arthur, though we scarce imagine their genealogies can truly reach the founder, we are thinking of."


So much for the reveries of Stukeley, in the reading of whose works, as I have before said, great care must be taken, although a most valuable author, to separate the grain from the chaff. Stukeley then relates, that in 1728 Mr. Holford planted some trees in the area at the top, and that the workmen dug up the body of the great king there, buried in the centre, very little below the surface. He also states, that he bought of one of the workmen the bridle buried with the monarch. Sir R. C. Hoare justly pays little attention to those old wives, fables of Stukeley, and observes, that the primary interment would have been found on, or beneath the chalk, or natural soil! I fully agree with him, and I have no doubt, that this was (if Stukeley was not altogether imposed on) a comparatively modern deposit.

Douglas, in his "Nenia Britannica," p. 161, has these remarks on Silbury Hill. "The great hill of Silbury, generally considered as a barrow, was opened under the direction of the late Duke of Northumberland and Colonel Drax, under the supposition of its being a place of sepulture. Miners from Cornwall were employed, and great labour bestowed upon it. The only relic found at the bottom, and which Col. Drax shewed me, was a thin slip of oak wood; by burning the end of it in a wax taper we proved it not to be whalebone, which had been so reported. The smell of vegetable substance soon convinced the Colonel of his mistake. He had a fancy, that this hill was raised over a Druid oak; and he thought that the remains of it were discovered in the [41] excavation; there was, however, no reason for considering it a place of sepulture by the digging into it. The bit of a bridle discovered by Stukeley, and his assertion of a monarch being buried there, has only the pleasure of conception to recommend it; it is not likely the monarch would have been buried near its surface, when such an immense mound of earth had been raised for the purpose; and the time of raising of it would not agree with the nature of a funeral obsequy, which must require a greater degree of expedition." Douglas here, with Sir R. C. Hoare and myself, equally repudiates the day-dreams of Stukeley, and he confusedly avers, that there was no reason for considering it to have been a place of sepulture by the digging into it. Silbury Hill presents the form and appearance of a barrow, ordinarily speaking; but, when we contemplate it in its primary use and intent, I must reject it as such. The word barrow, according to Cooke, is of Phoenician origin. In the Hebrew, he states that it bears reference to its purpose, and signifies the thrown up pile of Comminution, or Consumption, or Lamentation. The hill has been examined "parturiunt montes, nascitur ridiculus mus." A slip of oak is produced, which, I have no doubt, was the ultimate remains of an upright log, placed as a centre, around which this aspiring mound was raised, for I will not call it a barrow.

If an objection be taken, that wood must have been utterly perished in an artificial mound, which was probably coeval with the Pyramids of Egypt, I will meet it [42] by saying, that I have seen the remains of wood in barrows, and that heart of oak, immured in chalk, is almost imperishable. Yet here, I believe it to have been the last remains of one entire log, and thus far & visible and substantial evidence of the vast antiquity of Silbury Hill, which, as it is not a barrow, so neither is it a planetary temple, or place of worship, as the temples of all the planets in this astronomical diagram are found elsewhere; but, as the Sun is evidently represented as revolving around it, (his temple being placed within the circular area of stones at Abury), it can (as ancient astronomers made either the Sun or the Earth the centre of the universe) be no other than the representation of the Earth, as the centre of the planets revolving around, in their several orbits, at their due times and distances.




I THINK that I have made my readers fully cognizant of this interesting compages of astronomical antiquities, I am now in the course of describing, which is at present limited to Silbury Hill, the Serpent and the temples at Abury. Of these I must remind them, that Silbury Hill represents the Earth; the Serpent, ranging from east to west of Silbury Hill, and embowed to the north, represents the northern portion of the ecliptic; and the temples on that ecliptic represent the Sun, and the Moon, as his satellite, revolving around him. This, in the testimony of Caesar, was the opinion of the very early astronomers. In the last chapter I described Silbury Hill or the Earth; I must now move on, and explain the Serpent as the northern portion of the ecliptic. When I speak of the sinuous ecliptic, and that the ancients designated the ecliptic under the similitude of a Serpent, I must explain myself. The ecliptic, or path of the Sun, is derived from the Greek verb [Greek], derelinquo, to leave, and is denotive of the fact, that the Sun in his annual course passes through, or successively enters into, and leaves behind him, the twelve signs of the [44] Zodiac. The ecliptic in its line has ever been considered as winding around the globe, and the Sun has ever been regarded to glide, yet irresistibly to glide through the Zodiacal signs, even as a serpent pursueth his way through the yielding grass. It does appear evident to me, that Stukeley, deeply imbued as he was in classical lore, was yet ignorant of the fact, that the ancients did designate the ecliptic, or winding path of the Sun, under the similitude of a Serpent. He indefatigably traced out the figure of the Serpent, but, in his elaborate work, he never even alludes to this metaphor of the ancients. He saw on it the circle, enclosing the temples of the Sun and Moon, and never thought of the connexion between them and the Serpent as the ecliptic. Had he been aware that the ancients did assimilate the ecliptic to the Serpent, he would with this clue have unravelled that mystery, (at least as to the partial system of the universe exhibited at Abury and Silbury), which has been left to me in these latter days to unfold. It is a very strong corroboration of the correctness of my hypothesis, that it stands on record, that the ancients did designate the ecliptic under the similitude of a Serpent. Macrobius records this, and cites Euripides to the same effect, as follows:

"Est et alia ratio Draconis perempti; nam solis meatus, hcet ab Ecliptica hnek nunquam recedat. Sursum tamen ac deorsum ventorum vices certζ deflectione variando, iter suum velut flexum Draconis involvit: unde Euripides.



Sub hac ergo appellatione coelestis itineris sol cum confecissit suum cursum, Draconem confecisse dicebatur inde fabula exorta est de Serpentis, nece."

Let us now consider the origin of the Caduceus of Mercury, which is ultimately connected with the subject before us. In this dissertation let it ever be borne in mind, that, in the very early and simple, idolatry of the Egyptians, their worship was restrained to that of the Sun and Moon, it was then extended to the other five planets. Subsequently the early Egyptians degenerated in their idolatry, and paid adoration to their idols, Anubis, Apis, Isis, Osiris, and Serapis. They at last included in their veneration the Owl, the Crocodile, the Beetle, &c. The Greeks and Romans also extended their mythologies to a numerous and personified race. By these Mercury was considered as the messenger of the gods, and more especially of Jupiter; here, however, I must pause to observe, that the simple mythology of the ancient Egyptians, seems in after ages to have been strangely corrupted, since with them, as it appears to me, he was more connected with the Sun (the Roman Apollo), and more especially his messenger. I know not to what cause, unless it be that of the fickleness of nations, to attribute the raising of Jupiter, the sixth planet, over the head of the glorious Apollo, the Sun, the chief ruler of the universe, as the Egyptians believed him to [46] be. We must not, however, wonder at the confusion of the deities in the different earlier nations, since Macrobius writes, that every god in his origin was referable to the Sun. In the Egyptian system of astronomy, (the nearest allied to the one which it is the object of this work to develope), the orbit of Mercury is next to that of the Sun, and the origin of the Caduceus is thus fabled. It is said, that Mercury, taking a solitary stroll on the sea-shore, by chance picked up the shell of a tortoise; that he exercised his ingenuity on it, and fitted it with seven strings, the number of the planets; that, on his return home, he presented it to the Sun, the chief, and ruler of those planets; that the Sun, pleased with his newly acquired instrument, played so divinely on it, that he was henceforth denominated as Apollo, the god of music, and that on this lyre he is said to have celebrated the harmony of the spheres, the united concord of himself and all the planets. To these tuneful strains of the Sun (the Roman Apollo), it is said, that the several planets, as they revolved around in their courses, did lend their aid with their melodious voices; and it is reported, I think, by Kircher, that the heavenly strains of this celestial choir have ever and anon been heard on earth—"O terque quaterque beatus!" Happy—happy the man whose ears were greeted with these heavenly strains! the ecstatic joys, that thrilled his soul, must have compensated for years of woe! To whom could such a present as that of the lyre be more worthily given by Mercury than to the Sun, the greatest  [47] luminary and deity, the director of all the actions and movements of the planets, and to whom they were supposed to pay the most implicit obedience? I have before observed that this lyre was said to have seven strings; but why seven? I answer, because the Sun, the Moon, and the five other planets were seven in number, and we may thus believe, that a string was dedicated to each, and from hence probably originated the diapason.* Gratified by the kind attentions of his official, in return for the present of the lyre, the Sun (the Roman Apollo) is said to have given to Mercury a wand. He gave him this wand, and thus, in mythological fiction, constituted him the messenger, not only of all the planetary gods, but more especially of himself; and what was this wand, this mace of office, this heraldic insigne? what was it, I say, but the symbol of himself? It was a rod, at the extremity of which was a ball, (the Sun), and on each side of which was a Serpent, (the two portions of the ecliptic), and what did these together pourtray? Surely the Sun, in its passage through the sinuous ecliptic, the northern and southern portions of which were each designated under the similitude of a serpent; and thus do the Serpent and Temples of Abury, Macrobius, Euripides, and the Caduceus of Mercury, all unite in an astounding manner by their concurrence, to establish the truth of my theory. This conclusion is the result of reason, aided by reflection and research; and, to use the

* Diapason denotes a chord which includes all tones; it is the same with that we call an eighth, or an octave; because there are but seven tones or notes, and then the eighth is the same again with the first.

[48] language of Higgins, in his elaborate work entitled "The Celtic Druids:" "If the human mind can ever flatter itself with having been successful in discovering the truths it is when many facts, and these facts of different kinds, unite in producing the same result." Let us now consider the etymology of the word Caduceus, and most significant it is; it is derived from the Latin verb cado to fall, and is allusive to the action of the Sun in his passage around the ecliptic, glidings or gently falling, as it were, from one constellation to another, until, in his revolution, he has completed his annual course. From the Caduceus, the heraldic symbol of the Sun, as the chief deity and ruler in the planetary mythology of the early Egyptians, was derived the [Greek] of the Greeks, the fasces of the Romans, the mace and wand of our own country; and Mercury, the messenger of the Sun, was most assuredly the prototype of the [Greek] of the Greeks, the lictor of the Romans, the beadle of our mayors, the verger of our ecclesiastical dignitaries, aye, and the Legate a latere of modern Popedom. I need not to say that I am an utter disbeliever in the absurd mythologies of the ancients, and yet I think that I have shewn the origin of the Caduceus so clearly, that it cannot be denied. But further: "Pinge duos angues, sacer est locus," that is, Paint two snakes and the place is sacred: so says Persius, and yet perhaps the Roman satirist knew not why. To the serpent may have been attributed, even in his day, a sacredness of which he knew not the origin. Why does he speak of two serpents? Does not this lead [49] to the suspicion, that he unconsciously alludes to the portraiture of the Caduceus, the symbol of the Sun, the all-powerful deity of the Egyptians, pursuing his course around the ecliptic, the via sacra, represented in its northern and southern portions each by a serpent. This symbol is sculptured and depicted universally on the ancient Egyptian monuments, on their temples, their tombs, and their mummies, and I think that I have somewhere read, that it is to be found on the Trajan Pillar. The presence of this symbol may be considered aptly to denote the Divine presence, and when painted or ensculptured, it was doubtlessly regarded as both dedicatory and prophylactic. The obscure tradition of its sacred intent having been thus conveyed down to the Romans, Persius may have been well entitled to say, "Pinge duos angues, sacer est locus."

The assimilation of the ecliptic to a serpent prevalent with the ancients receives additional confirmation, when we consider the fable of the birth of Apollo and Diana, the sun and moon of the Egyptians, and the twin children of Latona. The planetary mythology of the early Egyptians quickly became corrupted when it passed into the hands of the Greeks, (for this is evidently a tale of Grecian manufacture) a nation at that time far less civilized and scientific. The deification of the sun, the moon, and the other planets was the prelude to the multitudinous system of the gods and goddesses of the Greeks and Romans. They first of all personified them, and then added to them a crowd [50] of fictitious relatives and to this great, yet holy family they attributed not merely the virtues, but all the vices and errors of mortal man. What, then, does the mythological history of those nations record of the birth and infancy of Apollo and Diana, the sun and the moon of the Egyptians? It says, that they were the twin son and daughter of Jupiter and Latona, who, to escape the wrathful vengeance of Juno, took refuge in the Isle of Delos, where the twins were born; that, whilst infants, their cradle was invaded by the serpent Python, and that Apollo, in defence of himself and his sister, grasped him within his hands and throttled him. Now, what was the origin of this story as thus related of Apollo and Diana, the sun and moon of the Egyptians? It is evidently and simply this, the Greeks from their eastern shores saw these twin luminaries rise, as it appeared to them, from the Isle of Delos, in the centre of the Archipelago; an island so named from the Greek word [Greek], to make manifest, since, from the rising of the sun, all things became [Greek], or visible to the sight. Thus was he, I repeat, alternately, as it were, with the moon, seen to arise from the Isle of Delos, the cradle of these twin luminaries, and in the majesty of his strength, thus did he mount on and irresistibly pursue his course on the sinuous ecliptic, and thus, in metaphorical language, was he said to have overcome the serpent Python. I am well aware, that these theories of the origin of the caduceus of Mercury, and the victory of Apollo over the serpent Python, will be cavilled at as novelties, will  [51] be said to be the futile production of a warm imagination; but to cavil; or contradict, is not to refute. I have proved that the result of the enquiry into the origin of the fiction of the birth of Apollo and Diana, the sun and the moon of the Egyptians, supports the assertion of Macrobius and Euripides that the ancients did pourtray the ecliptic under the similitude of a serpent. I have proved, from Stukeley, that such a serpent was pourtrayed on the face of the land at Abury. I have proved; that on it the Sun and the Moon, as his satellite, through the medium of their temples, (as no other planets can, with astronomic consistency, be placed together on the ecliptic) were represented, as progressing around the stationary earth as the centre of the universe, designated by Silbury Hill.

I have thus brought the name of this sacred place Abiri, signifying the Mighty Ones, and thus denoting a plurality of deities, the Serpent, the Temples, and Silbury Hill, the representative of the Earth, into close and intimate connexion. I have thus proved, that unitedly they illustrate and elucidate each other, that collectively they form one whole, so far as a detached portion of a system of astronomy can be said to form a totality. Here I seem to hear it whispered, "You are altogether wrong, you make the earth, and not the sun (as is really the case) to be the centre of the universe. You make the sun to revolve around the earth, whilst truly the earth revolves around the sun. Again you make the moon to be the satellite of the sun, when [52] it is well known, that she is the satellite of the earth." My answer to this objection is, "I am not endeavouring to prove what is the true astronomical system, but am only labouring to shew what was the system believed in, and actually pourtrayed on the face of the land by our heathen ancestry, however erroneous that system may have been."

The time has now arrived for me to analyse the details of the Serpent, after which I shall in a similar manner dissect the temples. This will be interesting to those, who love to ponder on the science and power of numbers.

I must now enter on the correspondences between the stones of the Serpent, those of the circle surrounding the temples, and those which compose the outer oval of the Serpent's head, (all adjuncts, and not portions of the temples), and the numerical cycles of the ancients; and again—between the stones of the temples, and the astronomical cycles of the ancients. By numerical cycles, I mean a series of numbers successively revolving and returning into itself. By astronomical cycles I mean, in like manner, a period of time successively returning into itself. Here I have first a remark to make on the numeral four, since the framers of these mighty works, (which are very remote from being a mighty maze without a plan) appear to make special reference to it. The ancients mystically considered the power of 10 to be resident in the number 4, since the decade, or 10, is the added or united com- [53] pound of the four numbers 1, 2, 3, 4. The number 4 was held in the greatest veneration amongst the Egyptians. Pythagoras, in his "Golden Verses," thus speaks of the mystic four:


These lines have been thus versified by our poet Rowe:

Thus by his name I swear, whose sacred love
First to mankind explained the mystic four,
Source of eternal nature and Almighty Power.

Pythagoras doubtlessly derived his knowledge of the Tetragrammaton, or four sacred letters, from the book of Moses, or his acquaintance with the Jews, who made this sacred number referable to Jehovah, or to the invisible God, or Great Creator of all things, whilst the Egyptians, in their corrupted and heathen worship of the Sun, as their chief deity, and to them visible supposed creator, applied this venerated Heirogram to him; united as the sun and the moon were in the heavens, the one "to rule the day," and the other "to rule the night," it is no wonder that the heathen associated them in their minds as relatives; it is no wonder, that they regarded them as twin deities; it is no wonder, that in the centre of their temples at Abury we see exhibited the mystic four. From the earnest attention of the Druids to the mystic number four, it arises, that in the 400 stones which compose the body of the serpent we have the number of 100 (the square of 10) four [54] times repeated, and that in the 40 stones, which form the outer oval of the Serpent's head, we have the cycle of the digits, or 10 four times repeated. Again, in the circle of the 100 stones, which surround and enclose the temples, we have the square of 10, or 100, composed of the mystic four twenty-five times repeated. From the presence of the temple of the Sun, this prevalence of the mystic number four must be referred solely to him.




In turning our attention to the component parts of the sacred temples we shall find the astronomical cycles to prevail. It is a singular circumstance, that correspondences of the cycles of the ancients with the stones of the ancient temples are utterly unnoticed in the valuable works of Stukeley on Abury and Stonehenge, but at the time he wrote, no author had noticed these curious coincidences. Stukeley possessed great extent of recondite learning, his writings delight from their combined elegance and simplicity of language, but he possessed also such fervour of mind, that it, not unseldom, led him to promulgate opinions, which were not maintainable. His works contain much pure grain, intermingled with some chaff. From his extensive knowledge he could not well have been ignorant of the cycles of the ancients, but it is evident, that the coincidences between them and the ancient stone temples never occurred to his mind, or he would otherwise have said much on this subject. Dr. Stukeley, however, does not in these ancient works wholly omit the consideration of astronomical connexion, but he merely limits his observations as to the bearings of the [56] temples, &c. to certain cardinal points of the heavens. The first author, who brings the cycles into connexion with the temples, is Wood, (the architect of Bath,) whose work on Stonehenge was printed at the Oxford University Press in the year 1747. He was followed in the same opinions, as to the connexion of the cycles and temples by Dr. John Smith, in an ingenious work on Stonehenge, printed by Easton of Salisbury in the year 1771; but these authors only partially illustrate these interesting correspondences. Maurice, in his "Indian Antiquities;" King in his "Monumenta Antiqua;" Davies, in his "Celtic Researches;" and Higgins, in his elaborate work, entitled "The Celtic Druids," all unite in the advocacy of the established connexion between the ancient cycles and the ancient temples, yet they none of them carry the subject out. The allusion from one to the other is constant and apparent, not only in the Temples of Abury and Stonehenge, but also in those of Rowlwright, Stanton-Drew, Classenniss, Biscauwoon, and many others, in Cornwall, and all parts of the kingdom. These extraordinary coincidences, which escaped the penetration of Stukeley and Borlase—the learned author of "The Antiquities" and of "The Natural History of Cornwall"—first engaged the attention of the discriminating mind of Wood, and have (as before noticed) been successively supported by those eminent writers, Maurice, King, Davis, and Higgins. This concordance of facts arises from no play pf the imagination, but from facts, visible to the eye; [57] on what grounds then, these simultaneous accordances, so constant and so obvious, were omitted by my late lamented friend. Sir R. C. Hoare, I cannot conceive; I am aware, that he was no stranger to the works of Wood, Smith, &c. but the correspondence between the ancient cycles and the ancient temples, I confess, are so strong and obvious, as I shall prove from the temples at Abury and Stonehenge, that it becomes folly to doubt it, and futile to argue on such a subject. The temples of the Mighty Ones, the Sun and Moon at Abury, are enclosed within a circular area of 28 acres, bounded in by a deep fosse, and within that fosse a circle of 100 stones; the area thus defined, was, beyond a doubt, considered as peculiarly holy, this clearly defined boundary emphatically, but tacitly, said, "enter not within, for this is holy ground:" but this circle was no part of the temple, it was an accessory or adjunct alone, a bounding in of the temple; the stones, therefore, 100 in number, form no astronomical cycle, but a numerical one, (as I have said before) they are the square of ten, 10 Ν 10 = 100, but, mark this, each decade, or 10, includes the power of the mystic four, 1 + 2 + 3 + 4= 10.

So again also is it with the outer circle (or rather oval) forming the Serpent's head; here have we a series of stones, forty in number, each decade, or number 10, including the mystic powers of the 1, 2, 3, 4; and those again being four times repeated. Here can we otherwise than recognize the deep contemplative mind, per- [58] petually intent on the mystic and sacred number Four? The twin temples, enclosed within the circle of 100 stones are composed wholly of astronomical cycles and it is now high time to turn the attention of my readers to them: of these twin temples that of the Sun is to lie east, whilst that of the Moon is to the west; these are aptly placed, and it will at once occur to my readers, that "God made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night." It is a remarkable coincidence, that these great and twin luminaries are usually spoken of together; thus in the Holy Canticle, called ''The Benedicite," and which may be, but seldom is read in the morning service, instead of the "Te Deum," the sun and moon are appropriately classed together; thus have we, "O ye Sun and Moon, bless ye the Lord, praise him, and magnify him for ever." Nothing certain is, I believe, known, as to this very ancient and beautiful composition, which abounds in forcible Orientalisms; it is an elegant and pious appeal to all parts of the creation, whether animate or inanimate, to praise and magnify the great Creator. It now only remains to add that the learned Calmet avers of the Moon, (known in the Scriptures by the name of Ashtaroth), that "her temples are generally with those of the Sun."

To proceed. The temple of the Sun is to the east, consisting of one outer circle, thirty stones in number, one inner circle twelve in number, and, in the centre, one [59] single obeliscal stone. The first, or outer circle of thirty stones, designated the cycle of the days of the month. The ancients (as well as the moderns) divided the circumference of the globe into 360 degrees, and thus also they attributed to the year 360 days, they divided the 360 degrees, into 12 portions, and hence they constituted the 12 signs of the Zodiac, and they also divided the 360 days into 12 equal portions of 30 days each; and thus have we the cycle of the months, and the cycle of the days of the month. The second circle consisted of twelve stones. As therefore in the outer circle we have the cycle of the days of the months, so also in the inner circle we have the cycle of the months of the year; in the centre we have a single obeliscal stone, which manifestly represents the entire year. Thus have we this most curious fact, that this temple of the Sun is formed by the involuted cycles (denoted by stones) of the days of the months, of the months of the year, and of the entire year. Having proved, that all the component parts of the temple of the Sun at Abury are referable to the astronomical cycles of the ancients, let us now move to the twin temple of the Moon, and ascertain, whether a similar enquiry will not lead to the similar curious result. This temple consists, first, of an outer circle of 30 stones, which denote (as in the temple of the Sun) the cycle of the days of the month, secondly, of the inner circle of 12 stones, and these, again, denote the cycle of the months of the year, but, in the centre, we have this singular [60] variation, we find three stones set in a triangular form, and what have we here, but—the cycle of the seasons? In explanation, it is necessary to observe, that, though the Greeks and Romans divided their year into four seasons of three months each, those of Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, yet the still earlier nations are said to have parted the year into Spring, Summer, and Winter, attributing to them four months each. Macrobius thus saith, "Arcades annum suum tribus mensibus explicabant.'' By that very ancient Canticle before quoted, called ''The Benedicte," I am led to believe, that the still more primaeval nations made only an equipartite division of the year into Summer and Winter, divided most probably by the equinoxes, for thus we read, ''O ye Winter and Summer, bless ye the Lord; praise him, and magnify him for ever." In speaking of these cycles of days, of months, of seasons, and of years, exhibited in the component part of the temple of the Sun and Moon at Abury, I cannot omit to observe, that in Holy Writ, we are told, that the two great luminaries are ordained, to be ''for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years." This is concordant with the characteristics of those great and twin luminaries, differing only in one respect, that in the central part of the temple of the Moon we have the three stones, aptly denotive of the great influences of the silver orb over all seasons, as has ever been recognized by man; but in the centre of the temple of the greater luminary, the Sun, we have the single obeliscal [61] stone, telling us in language we cannot misapprehend, that, when the cycles are completed, when the days of the months, the months themselves, and the seasons are gone by, and passed, then, and not till then, the cycle of the year is complete, and then it was, I have no doubt, some great and religious rite, worthy of the close of the annual revolution, was performed; but here, I cannot but acquit the priests of this early race of man of those inhuman and bloody sacrifices of their fellow creatures, which, as I believe, have so unjustly been laid to their charge. I doubt not, that the Druids were Pythagoreans, and averse from blood. Thus have I dissected, and illustrated those ancient holy temples; but Maurice, the learned author of the "Indian Antiquities," endeavouring to account for the presence of these ancient cycles, as component parts of these pristine temples, gives it as his opinion, that the intent was to preserve their remembrance in the human mind; but, I think, Maurice does not go far enough. I cannot but conceive, that these holy cirques were turned to a curious practical use. I cannot but recognize them as (before the use even of letters) standing almanacs, perpetual and circular calendars, which, year by year, renewed the powers to the priesthood to reckon the passing day, the months, the seasons, and the years, and thus enabled them to observe the religious festivals, as they arose in the perpetual and ever flowing course of time. Here shall I be reminded by the Sciolist: "Your astronomical [62] scheme will fail you. Your even division of months would never answer to the real efflux of time." Here again my answer is, "I seek not for the true calculation of time, but only how these early sages took their measures and, I have no doubt, that in those early ages of astronomy, the Druids, skilled as I have proved them to be, could and did rectify their calendar by the introduction of the five intercalary days, and at another and more distant period of time, they rectified the accumulated fraction of hours, &c. I believe, that they were as well acquainted with the precise limit of the year as we are."

I am of opinion, that every religious planetary temple, whether of stone, or of earth, usually had a gnomon, as accessory to the observance of that heavenly body, to whose service it was more especially dedicated. By a gnomon I mean not an index, wherewith to cast a shadow, as the gnomon of a dial, but a prominent body, over the apex of which the astronomer's eye was at certain periods directed for the observance of a planet. In the case of an earthen Temple or Hill Altar, I strongly suspect that the same object was attained by the use of a secondary neighbouring tumulus.

In reference to these remains I must now add, that one stone continues undescribed, which Stukeley speaks of, yet erringly so; these are his words, "Exactly in the southern end of the Temple, which connects the two centres of these Temples, is an odd stone [63] standing not of great bulk. It has a hole wrought in it; and was probably designed to fasten the victim in order for slaying it. This I call the ring stone." The reader will kindly observe, that this stone was located to the south-east of the temple of the Sun. It evidently was a gnomon, and served the curious purpose of watching the appearance of the Sun, when arising over the apex of that stone at the precise day of the winter solstice, and there was, I doubt not, some astronomical station within the temple, from whence to take the observation; but here we must add, "Troja fuit;" not so however at Stonehenge, where a similar arrangement yet happily does exist for a similar, yet opposite purpose, that of observing the rising of the sun at the summer solstice. Stukeley also notices three other stones, as yet unmentioned, two placed at angles with each other on the back of the Serpent. What their peculiar intent could have been I know not, unless to give it an appearance of corrugation, as it were, and thus to break the monotony of the outline. He also closes the tail of the Serpent with a single stone.

I have gone through the numerical cycles of the accessories, and the more sacred astronomical cycles of the temples themselves. I will now shift the scene, and prove to my readers, that the stones of the accessories and temples united disclose not numerical but astronomical cycles, when taken in their totalities.


The whole number of the outward lines of the structure at Abury makes 600; viz. 200 + 200 + 100 + 40 + 30 + 30 = 600: this is the very celebrated ancient cycle of Neros which contains the mystic four 150 times repeated. It is spoken of by Josephus who affirms that it was invented by the Ante-diluvians, The whole of the small circles again make up in their totality the number 144; viz. 30 + 12 + 30 + 12 + 40 + 19 + 1 = 144; this is the square of 12; or the sacred and mystic four 36 times repeated. Again, if all the stones be taken (except the inner circles) we have the number of 608, a very curious number, embracing the mystic four 152 times told the sacred number of the god Sol. If this be the effect of accident, says Higgins, it is a very odd accident. With reference to this sacred number of 608, I now beg to quote from Higgins the following most curious passage: "ΦPH pre or phre is a word, which Martianus Capella, in his Hymn to the Sun, tells us, was expressed in three letters, making up the number 608.

Salve, vera Dei facies, vultfisque paterni,
Octo et sexcentis numeris cai litera trina
Conformat sacram nomen, cognomen et omen.

Φ ........ 400
Ρ ......... 200
Η ........ 8

"But these Coptic numerals not corresponding with [65] those of the Greeks, they formed the word ΥΗΣ as an enigmatical name of the Sun:

Υ ........ 400
Η ........ 8
Σ ........ 200

"This is the real origin of our IHS, Jesus Hominum Salvator; mistaken by the priests of Rome, copied by ours:" thus saith Higgins.

I must long since have tired my readers with these curious, but dry correspondences. They must, I think, be fully convinced, as well as myself, of the connexion between the ancient cycles and the ancient temples at Abury. If so, I take my leave for the present of them, and pass on to other probably more interesting subjects. When, however, in my tour amongst the planets, I arrive at Stonehenge, the Saturn of this magnificent planetarium, I shall have occasion in the analysis of that temple to recur to them again, and to exhibit the powers and combination of numbers in still higher and yet more curious results.

* The intention of letters took precedence of that of numerals; the most early nations long made their letters serve a doable purpose, that of the constituent particles of words and the symbols of numerals.




Having shewn the astronomical connexion between Silbury Hill and the serpent and temples at Abury; having proved that unitedly, they form a partial system of astronomy, yet, as is probable, the complete system, so far as the knowledge of early man extended, representing the Sun and the Moon through the medium of their temples as pursuing their course through the northern portion of the ecliptic, designated by the serpent; and Silbury Hill, as denotive of the Earth: I must now unfold my theory yet further, and disclose the mode, by which I bring Abury and Stonehenge, although far distant from each other, into comparatively a close and intimate connexion. I have as yet been revelling amongst the dilapidated remains of North Wilts. Despoiled by the sacrilegious hands of modern barbarians, the stones broken up by ruthless Goths for the building of barns and pig-styes, aye, and for the repair of the roads, (and who are now, between, expiating their sins in purgatory,) I may almost say of these stones "etiam perifire ruinζ." Abury, from its secluded situation, although a monument of much greater extent, has ever been known less than Stonehenge. The [67] general attention of the public was first called to it by Stukeley, but even in his time the work of dilapidation had commenced its career, and far proceeded in the destruction of the beauty and plan of these venerable remains of antiquity. His persevering and attentive efforts, however, were exerted just in time to develope the entire of these mighty and antique works, as well as to describe the then existing state of the ruins. The miserable work of devastation has still gone on from the days of Stukeley to the present time in breaking, and indeed in burying the stones; the cupidity of man has been such, as to lead him to covet the scanty pittance of herbage, of which he has supposed himself to be deprived by the site of the standing stones of this unique and ancient structure. I fear, that we may now, with a sigh, say "Ilium fuit." I have given it as my opinion, and I have assigned the grounds for that opinion, that the planetary temples at Abury with their accessories of the serpent and Silbury Hill, are far more ancient than Stonehenge; yet when I considered, that the astronomical system at Abury was but a partial system, and when I reflected, that Abury and Stonehenge mutually fronted each other, I have been induced to think, that, when our heathen ancestry had subsequently extended their planetary knowledge, when they had discovered and began to pay adoration to the planets of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, as well as to the Sun and Moon, then [68] they devised and constructed a series of religious temples on a meridional line so as together with the Sun and Moon at Abury and the representation of the Earth at Silbury to form on the face of the land the diagram of the entire system of the Universe! In this diagram the temples of the Sun and Moon, and the temple of, the planet Venus are placed in the northern portion of their orbit as in the zenith; whilst the planets Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are by their temples denoted as situate in the southern portion of their orbit as in the nadir. The distance from the temple of the planet Venus, the extreme temple to the north, to the temple of Saturn, the last temple to the south, is twenty miles; but this is far short of the length of the meridional line, as I will thus shew: Stonehenge, or the temple of the planet Saturn, is distant from Silbury Hill, which in this astronomical scheme represents the Earth, sixteen miles. Now, could we give to the several temples, which represent the orbs of the planets, those movements which are exhibited in the modern orrery, then, as Stonehenge, or Saturn, is denoted in the nadir, and sixteen miles to the south from the earth, on revolution in its orbit when arrived at the zenith, it would be sixteen miles to the north, and the diameter of its orbit would thus extend a right line of thirty-two miles; and on this magnificent meridional line of thirty-two miles was the diagram of this curious astronomical system of the Universe laid out, with its sacred temples as representa- [69] tives of the several planets. Although I appropriate the temple of Stonehenge, when in connexion with the whole as the temple of Saturn yet I doubt not that it was used in common with all the other temples for the worship also of the Sun. I shall visit and describe the several planetary temples according to their respective distances from the Earth or Silbury Hill, and they are thus arranged in order: the temples of the Sun and Moon, the temple of Mercury, of Venus, of Mars, of Jupiter, and of Saturn.

The following are the relative distances of these successive planetary temples from Silbury Hill, as the centre of the Universe, 1, 3, 4, 6, 9, and 16 miles; and the respective diameters of their orbits are, accordingly, in their correspondent proportions, 2, 6, 8, 12, 18 and 32 miles. It may be remarked, that, in this enumeration, there are six numbers instead of seven, as truly corresponding to that of the planets, but I must remind my readers, that in this astronomical scheme the Sun and Moon are pourtrayed together as in the Ecliptic, and therefore one number is applicable to the two in union.

This Planetarium is formed on the basis of comparative proportion with (as in the opinion of these early sages) the real heavenly system; and here I cannot but remark with surprise, how curiously it corresponds with the order and proportionate distances of the several Planets in our own received system of Astronomy; but [70] how vast—how inexpressibly magnificent is this planetarium formed on a meridional line of 32 miles on the face of the land, and laid out by the astronomers amongst those whom we erringly imagine to have been barbarians, when contrasted with the largest orrery to be found beneath the roof of modern man!

The stones, of which these ancient works were constructed, are generally considered to have been procured from the surrounding country, which abounds both above ground and below with these ponderous masses of granulated quartz, or sandstone. They are known by the name of boulder stones; and they are also known by the term of sarsen stone, which, Stukeley says, is the Phoenician for rock. I much doubt whether the origin and formation of these detached rocks can be satisfactorily accounted for.

Townshend in his "Veracity of Moses, &c." the first geologist of his day, endeavours to account for them, but they evidently puzzled him. He seems to regard them as dislocations, but if so, where is the rock from whence they were dislodged? If the chalk of these Downs was in a state of fusion, how came these most ponderous stones to belie the system of gravity, and repose themselves on the surface? And, if the chalk was in a state of fusion, I presume that these heavy masses were also so, since I have seen small nodules of flint embedded in them, and, which is still more extraordinary, fragments of bone. These curious facts have also been [71] noticed by Stukeley. I shall be told by philosophers, that the particles of granulated quartz, circulating in the fluid chalky coalesced by virtue of chemical affinity, but this seems to me to explain the ignotum, per ignotius; and, in my turn, I will ask the philosopher, whence the power to these atomic particles in the womb of the earth to rush into each other's embrace, and whence the agglutinating and lapidific matter, which bound them together as in a chain of adamant? I will again ask him, why the particles of granulated quartz pervaded the fluid chalk of North Wilts, whilst that of South Wilts was destitute of them?

Stukeley, who was a better antiquary than geologist, gives this amusing opinion on the origin of the massive stones, scattered so profusely on the North Wiltshire Downs. "This whole country hereabouts," says he, "is a solid body of chalk covered with a most delicate turf." As this chalky matter hardened at creation, it spewed out the most solid body of the stones, of greater specific body than itself; and, assisted by the centrifuge power, owing to the rotation of the globe upon its axis, threw them upon its surface, where they now lie. This is my opinion concerning this appearance, which I often attentively considered.

Of the age of Abury it is impossible to speak with any precision of conjecture; I cannot, however, but attribute to it an antiquity far greater than that of Stonehenge. In hazarding a conjecture I am ever ready to supply my data. Sir R. C. Hoare is decidedly [72] of opinion, that the contents of the barrows around Abury evince greater age than those of the barrows around Stonehenge. The stones, composing this venerable structure, are also more rude than those of Stonehenge, they are rough and misshapen, and have not the mark of a tool on them, whilst those of Stonehenge are smooth, and mechanically worked into parallelograms and another strong fact is that of the cycle of the three seasons, spring, summer, and winter; "the word autumn not being known," says Smith, in his interesting work on Stonehenge, "in any of the Celtic languages, nor among the Jews, for in the Holy Scriptures you have only seed time, harvest, and winter, or spring, summer, and winter." Finally, we have in the conjunction of the sun, the moon, the earth, and the serpentine ecliptic at Abury, only a partial system of astronomy, but we have the whole, most probably, which was then known to man; for I am strongly inclined to believe, that the very early ancients worshipped the sun and the moony long prior to the time, when they recognized and adored the other planets also.

Caesar, even in his much later days, thus speaks of the uncultivated Germans of his time: "Deorum numero eos solos ducunt, quos cernunt, et quorum opibus aperte juvantur, Solem, et Vulcanum, et Lunam; reliquos ne famd quidem accepenmt."




I WILL now, if my readers are not too tired with having been led by me round and round the mazy circles of Abury, proceed onward in my walk and I hope that they will now permit me to take them to the Temple of Mercury, whose orbit was, according to this system, the next in juxtaposition to that of the Sun.

This was, in my opinion, represented by an earthenwork, situate on the brow of a hill, overlooking the vale of Pewsey to the south, and known by the name of Walker's Hill. When I laid open my design of proving the existence of a series of ancient religious temples placed on a meridional line, I never pledged myself, that they were all of stone, nor is it necessary, that they should all so be. The earth was represented by an earthen mound, though not as a temple, and the planets. Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter, were represented by temples of earth, the hill altars of Scripture; and on the spot alluded to, the very place, where I should have wished, and expected to have met with the Temple of Mercury, there it did present itself; there I find, according to Sir R. C. Hoare, a mound of earth, resembling that, which he terms a long barrow. To the hill altar, [74] or sacred mound of earthy there is frequent allusion in the Scriptures, and no where more prominently so than in the 78th Psalm, 59th verse. In this fine Psalm, in which David recounts the mercies of God to the Israelites, he beautifully depicts their ungrateful acts, and describes the judgments, which their evil deeds had brought upon them. Amongst the provocations, which this rebellious people offered to their Lord, the Psalmist thus pathetically complains of their idolatry: "For they grieved him with their hill altars, and provoked him to displeasure with their images."

That this passage is allusive to the planetary worship may be fairly inferred.

The singular mound alluded to attracted the especial notice of Sir R. C. Hoare, and in the 2nd Volume of his "Ancient Wilts," p. 12, he thus speaks of it. "Crossing the little vale through which the British trackway, before mentioned, pursues its meandering course over the Wiltshire hills into Berkshire, I ascended another eminence, which is distinguished in the map of Wiltshire by the name of Walker's Hill, and by a very large long barrow on its summit, which forms a very conspicuous feature; the dorsum or ridge of this tumulus is more acute than any I have seen, and has a singular appearance, when viewed from the western end, which (as is generally the case) is the lowest, as well as the narrowest point. This hill, as will be seen by our maps, is intersected by two banks, each having their ditch towards the north west."


In a note Sir R, C. Hoare thus adds: "It will be seen by our map^ that this long barrow is protected on each side by a strong vallum, having its ditch towards the north-west, which circumstance, as well as the immediate vicinity of the tumulus to the British trackway, induces me to suppose, that this mound might have been raised by the Britons as a hill altar, and, on that account, was so unusually guarded."

In p. III of the same vol. of his "Ancient Wilts," Sir R. C. Hoare, having been dilating on the subject of Barrows, subjoins these remarks on the same long barrow, which is the subject before us. "To these sepulchral mounds of earth," says he, "differing in the plan of their construction, may be added the 'Hill Altar,' which may be considered, perhaps, by some of my readers, as an ideal fabrication. 'An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon,' Exod. xx. 24. We know of none, which can with certainty be pronounced as such, but were I to fix upon any one artificial mound within our county likely to have been appropriated to purposes of worship, I should name the long barrow before described at p. 12 of this volume, situated on the very conspicuous eminence of Walker's Hill, differing from others in its construction, and protected by a bank and ditch towards the north and south; and I think also, that the stupendous mound at Silbury Hill, near Abury, and that also, which existed till very lately (1819) within the circle at Marden, may have been used as 'Hill Altars,' or sacred mounds."


Thus saith Sir R. C. Hoare, and I fully agree with him, as to the singular mound in question, and as to one which, alas! did exist at Marden, but I withhold my assent as to the noble tumulus of Silbury, since, as it represented the earth as the centre of the universe, there is great incongruity in the presumption that it was a sacred temple. We may well suppose, that the inhabitants of the terrene Orb would pay adoration to the planets (represented by their temples) revolving around them, but I cannot imagine them to worship that Orb, on which they were dwelling.

Silbury Hill then not representing a planet, but being a highly important feature in this astronomical diagram, must be excluded as a sacred temple of planetary worship. Stationary, as in this system, was the Earth, adoration was paid to the Sun, the Moon, and the five other planets; and the temples of all these are found elsewhere. The Sun was in the minds of these early Pagans a planet, and their great and chief deity; and, in accordance with this planetary and sevenfold worship, it seems to me, that the following expressions of Balaam to Balak, (Numbers xxiii.) had their origin, "And Balaam said unto Balak, build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven oxen and seven rams."

It is a remarkable fact, that the three places which have been previously shewn to have been spoken of by Sir R. C. Hoare as sacred temples, or altars, which are Silbury, and the earthen works at Walker's Hill, and [77] at Marden, are all in a line, and situate north and south of each other. They all form portions of my astronomical system, and were, indeed, the first, not a planetary temple, but the representative of the earth, and the other two in succession, the temples of the planets, Mercury, and Mars.

It is very singular, that, as Sir R. C. Hoare observed these three earthen works in succession and appropriated them as sacred works, he never conceived their astronomical connexion. When I point out, and illustrate the temple of Mars, I shall have occasion yet more strongly to allude to this remark.

I have before suggested, that each planetary temple, whether of earth or stone, was furnished with a gnomon, applicable to that heavenly body, to which it was more especially dedicated. An earthen temple we may well suppose to have been provided with an earthen gnomon. King in his "Monumenta Antiqua," vol. I. suggests, that the gnomons were used not only for the observance of planetary bodies, but also, in like manner, of the elevation and fall of certain fixed stars.

Slenderly skilled as I am in astronomy, there may be those, who are even less conversant with it, and I am willing to explain the apparent contradiction of the movement of fixed stars. To the human eye, the globe, on which we have our dwellings is miraculously suspended in the midst of another apparent and much larger globe, but which is indeed the boundless vault of the heavens, and the surface of which appears to us [78] to be studded with an innumerable host of stars; amongst which the planets pursue their meandering course in their appointed paths, sometimes approaching to, and at others passing by and receding from such or such a star. The apparent movement of the fixed stars in contradistinction to the planetary or wandering stars is thus explained—the diurnal revolution of the earth on its axis is completed in every twenty-four hours, and the real movement of the earth is from west to east; consequently the fixed stars ever preserving their due distance from each other, appear simultaneously to move with the vault of heaven from east to west.

To apply my observations on the gnomon to the subject before us, I must remark, that the Ancient British trackway, before spoken of, crosses the vale of Pewsey, which divides the Downs of North and South Wilts, and ascends those of the latter through a narrow gorge, and that the brows of the opposite head-lands, bordering this gorge, are each crowned with earthen works. On that to the west is the long mound, or planetary temple of Mercury, the subject of discussion, and on the other, which is at a short distance to the east, are two tumuli without a vallum. From the interruption of the trackway and gorge, the framers of this astronomical system appear to have availed themselves of the opposite head-land, whereon to place the appendages of the sacred temple, and, I have no doubt, that these tumuli served the purpose of gnomons. That this head-land, with its sacred tumuli, was thus connected [79] with the planetary temple on the opposite headland, I am strongly of opinion from this very remarkable circumstance, that it is known to this day by the name of Knap Hill, and what have we here, but the Hill of Mercury? I am no visionary, and utterly unwilling to stretch etymology beyond its due bounds, but I must explain myself. Kneph or Cneph, (for these varying orthographies are indiscriminately used,) was, as well as Thoth, the Egyptian or Phoenician name for Mercury. The transition from Kneph to Knap is obvious and easy, and connected with the facts, that the opposite mound was a sacred "Hill Altar," as corroborated by Sir R. C. Hoare, that its orbit is placed between the representatives of the planets Venus and Mars, that in position it is at the due distance from each of them, and also from the Hill of Silbury as denotive of the Earth, the centre, in accordance with this system, of the universe, I am justly sanctioned in adjudging, that this sacred mound was in this astronomical scheme the temple of the planet Mercury. This temple is situate about three miles from the Earth or Silbury Hill, and therefore would imply the circumscription of an orbit, whose diameter would extend a right line of six miles.

As this temple is placed, as it were, in the southern portion of its orbit, this planet must be considered to be in the nadir, as are those of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

Leaving, in company with my fellow travellers, the [80] temple of Mercury, we will make a detour to the north of Silbury Hill, and here, in the parish of Winterbome Basset, I point out to them the temple of the planet Venus. In compliment to this beauteous and brilliant planet^ our heathen ancestry appropriated to her a fair temple of stone. To this temple Stukeley in his "Abury," p. 45, thus alludes: "At Winterburne Basset, a little north of Abury, in a field north-west of the church, upon elevated ground, is a double circle of stones concentric, 60 cubits diameter. The two circles are near one another, so that one may walk between. Many of the stones have of late been carried away. West of it is a single broad, flat, and high stone standing by itself."

Stukeley, both in his Abury and his Stonehenge, gives it as his opinion, that these, and all such ancient temples, were formed on the scale of the old Hebrew, Phoenician, or Egyptian, cubit, which in the English measure amounts to 20 inches.

If he be correct, therefore, in his comparative measure, the diameter of this temple was in a small degree greater than 100 feet. On reference to the "Ancient Wilts," Vol. 2. p. 94, I find that Sir R. C. Hoare thus cursorily mentions this temple. After quoting the above extract from Stukeley, he says: "By the above description I was enabled to find the remains of this circle, which is situated in a pasture ground at the angle of a road leading to Broad Hinton, and consists [81] at present only of a few inconsiderable stones." Alas! I fear, that the "avarus colonus" has, been busied with their destruction.

We are ignorant of the number of the stones which constituted each circle of the temple, but from analogy I infer, that the outer circle may have consisted of thirty stones, denoting the cycle of the days of the month; and the inner circle either of twelve, or nineteen, representing, as the case may have been, either the cycle of the months, or the celebrated Metonic or lunar cycle. Stukeley states that to the west of this temple was "a single broad flat and high stone standing by itself." This is very singular. It was assuredly the gnomon of the temple, but why to the west? It was placed there, I suspect, for the purpose of directing the astronomic eye of the observer to the declination of this fair orb beneath the apex of the stone: and the propriety of this arrangement is self evident, when we consider, that Venus, as the evening star, could be more easily observed than when she appears as the morning star, and her brilliancy then liable to be obscured by the vivid rays of the rising sun. Her temple was distant four miles from Silbury Hill, and, in her orbit, she would therefore describe a circle of the diameter of eight miles. As the temple of Venus was to the north of Silbury Hill, denotive of the Earth as the centre of the universe, we must consider this planet to be in the zenith.

I cannot close this account of the temple of the [82] planet Venus without mentioning this singular fact, that, as in our astronomical system, the orbits of Venus and Mercury are nearer to each other than the orbits of any other two planets, so are they also in this interesting and very ancient planetarium.




In the last chapter I described the temple of Venus. This is the most northern temple of the diagram. From hence the distance to the temple of Saturn (Stonehenge) is 20 miles. In this walk I shall have much pleasure in accompanying my fellow travellers. We shall then retrace our steps and bend our way again down this meridional line, and from the temple of Venus we shall revisit in succession the temples of the Sun and Moon, Silbury Hill, denoting the Earth, and the temple of Mercury; and from thence we shall pursue our onward way and visit in our course the temples of Mars, of Jupiter, and of Saturn, which is my Ultima Thule on these expanded plains. Saying, therefore, "Allon" to my fellow travellers, let us enter on our walk. At the distance of four miles from the temple of Venus we again arrive at the temples of the Sun and the Moon, located as on the northern portion of the ecliptic, which is designated under the similitude of a serpent. Amply as I have described these temples, and their appendage, I will not endeavour [84] to add to my previous remarks. I will merely observe, that these most venerable and mighty works were probably coeval with the Pyramids of Egypt, and the Caves of Elora, and that in their perfect state, they must, from their complicated and extensive plan, and from the great art and science displayed in their combination of numbers, have ever excited the utmost astonishment and awe in all, who beheld them, as the locale of their venerated deity, the Sun, their supposed creator and preserver; whose temple they saw, with that of the Moon, bounded in on all sides, and guarded by, prophylactic lines formed with the ever recurring mystic FOUR. I feel the importance of the task which I have set myself, that of developing by substantial and existing facts my theory; for I am no visionary; and I seek alone to lay before my readers a connected chain of facts so clearly proved, as may enable us to dispel in some measure those mists, by which the temples of Abury and Stonehenge have been for ages enshrouded in impenetrable darkness. Let us proceed, (as we have a long walk before us,) and proceed we shall on the most interesting and ancient British Trackway, which crosses the lofty Down Lands intervening between the temples of the Sun and the Moon at Abury, and the temple of Mercury at Walker's Hill; and, as we go, I shall endeavour to beguile your way by describing to you the origin and intent of this ancient trackway, or, in other words, 'road on the turf.' This ancient trackway is spoken of by Stukeley in his "Abury [85] Described" and is again noticed by Sir R. C. Hoare, who, in his laborious remarks detailed in Vol. 2, of his "Ancient Wilts,'' speaks of it as occurring in various parts of its line, but, extraordinary as it may seem, neither of these authors makes any enquiries as to whence it came, or whither it went. I, however, am well satisfied, that it ran in a parallel line, with this range of planetary temples, and thus connected the whole.

It first emerges from the temple of Stonehenge. "This structure," says Sir R. C. Hoare, "is surrounded by a ditch and slight agger of earth." I cannot allow of more than one entrance into the area of the work. This faces the north-east, and is decidedly marked by a bank and ditch called the avenue, which leads directly into it. The slight fosse and vallum here alluded to, concentrically surround the temple of Stonehenge, with the exception of the interval which faces the north-east. This is, indeed, the front of the temple, and here the vallum passes off into two parallel banks, about seventy feet asunder. From hence it, at first, takes a direction to the north-east, following for ease the slope of the hill. Stukeley traced it in its descent for about 1000 feet, and when it reached the valley, he found that it branched in two directions, the one to the east, and the other to the north. Stukeley seems never to have contemplated, that this avenue, as he terms it, was the commencement of two lengthened trackways, or roads, to guide the distant Aborigines in their periodical visits [86] to the holy temple. Embanked as it was for some distance in its commencement it never occurred to him^ that this was the approach of a distant road made more significant as it neared the sacred structure. He conceived that the mounded approach was the whole, and therefore gave to it alone the appellative of the Avenue/ For my own part, I have no doubt that the trackway leading from the east was for the guidance of the numerous hordes, who dwelled on the plains in that direction, and in the still more remote districts, but the trackway to the north, into which the one just mentioned merged, was the great and hallowed way, the via sacra, which side by side accompanied the line of temples from Stonehenge, the temple of Saturn, the extreme temple to the south, to that of Venus, the last temple to the north. This was the great and holy road, by which, at stated periods^ the distant tribes progressed to the various temples at the religious festivals, held in honour of each planetary deity. This was the road, which received from collateral and converging tracks the assembling bands from their remotest stations, and conducted them to their desired and sought for end, the temples, as in their opinion, of the Holy Ones. Stukeley traced the avenues, as he terms them, with their mounded banks, as far as he was able to do; he then stops short, and pronounces it as his opinion, that from their limits, or the neighbouring rising ground, these pious heathen announced to their distant brethren, by lighted fires, the arrival of their several sacred festivals as an invitation for their [87] attendance. I think not thus: they were too deeply versed in times and seasons to need this call. Such a signal would have never reached to their remote homes, and we may rest assured, that these early pilgrims willingly and unsolicitedly bent their way to their sacred temples at the proper and appointed times. Where to the scrutinizing eye of Stukeley this important northern road by the absence of its bounding banks, reached its apparent limits there it pointed towards Silbury Hill, and the temples of Abury, How singular it is, that) from even this circumstance alone, no one of my predecessors conceived the connexion of Stonehenge with Silbury Hill and the temples of Abury!

Traces of this trackway are, I think, still evident between Stonehenge and Knighton Long Barrow after the discontinuance of the mounded banks; but much of the plain between that and Casterley Camp, or the temple of Jupiter, has been thrown into cultivation, and from hence, and the modern tracks of wagons, &c. this British trackway, for I will no longer give it the erroneous term of an avenue, cannot probably be further traced until we arrive at Casterley Camp, the temple of Jupiter. It is then, on the northern side of that temple joined by another ancient way from the west, bearing the expressive name of the Ridgeway, as it runs along the edge of the high lands bordering the vale. The trackway then descends down a gorge into the parish of Charlton, and from thence, crossing the Pewsey vale, it passes in its centre [88] the earthen works at Marden, or the temple of Mars, and subsequently, taking the names of Broad-street and Honey-street, it ascends by another gorge to the table land of the North Wiltshire Downs, passing under the temple of Mercury, which is seated on the brow of Walker's Hill. The adjunct of Street is derivable from the Romans through the Saxon tongue, and accordingly, we find, that those parishes whose names are compounded of Strat, Street, or Stret, are usually situate on Roman roads, or previous trackways which they have adopted. The trackway is from this earthen work, or temple of Mercury, traceable over the highlands between the vale of Pewsey and the turnpike road from Bath to London; crossing which; it then steers its course to the right of Silbury Hill, the Earth of this astronomical system, the temples of the Sun and Moon at Abury, and the temple of Venus, in succession; after which it diverges to the north-east, and passing by Badbury Hill under the adventitious name of the Ridgeway, it leaves the county of Wilts at Bishopstone St. Mary's, and, ranging along the edge of the extensive downs bordering on the vale of White Horse, it penetrates far into the county of Berks. The deflection of this ancient British trackway to the north-east, after it has left the meridional line of the temples near to that of Venus, the extreme temple to the north, does not at all affect my theory; it was no meridional line in itself, and it suffices for me that, emerging from the county of Berks, it at length accompanies in a parallel line from north to south the [89] entire series of temples until it closes its career by its arrival within the mounded 'avenue' at Stonehenge.

I can, on strong grounds, account for the line which this ancient and important trackway is made to pursue. There are few countries in a state of nature, in which forest lands, from the variation of soils, are not interchangeable with open and extensive plains, heaths, and moors. On those lands, void of wood from the inaptitude of the soil to produce and cherish them, did our remote and heathen ancestry locate themselves. Here alone we find their villages, their temples, and their sepulchres. The calcareous and open downs, with a portion of which we are surrounded, extend hither from the coasts of Dorset, and after traversing the county of Wilts in a direction from south-west to north-east, they continue their range across that of Berks, in the extensive sheep-walks and head-lands bounding the vale of White Horse.

On what occasions these early bands of pilgrims wended their way to these holy places, and what were the peculiar religious ceremonies in which they at those times engaged, it were absurd to attempt the development, for those mysteries are for ever necessarily hidden from our eyes; without data to guide us, we cannot look into times long since past, times of which there exists no record. Let it suffice to say, that, I doubt not, the worship especially of the Sun, that great luminary, with whose daily light they were cheered, with whose genial warmth they were refreshed, [90] and who, in their opinion, held an unbounded sway over the planets, and all the host of heaven, did, at his solstitial seasons, engage all their thoughts and actions, and that his rising at those especial times they hailed with paeans of tumultuous and heartfelt joy!




In the last chapter, after having visited the temple of Venus, we retraced our steps, and conducting my fellow travellers down the meridional line, we repassed the temples of the Sun and Moon at Abury, so curiously fenced in by the line of the powerfully protecting Serpent, composed of the sacred and mystic Four; we repassed also the marvellous Hill of Silbury, so well pourtraying the earth as the centre of the universe in this astonishing astronomical diagram; and we traversed the verdant and lofty downs, which intervened between the aspiring Hill, of Silbury, and the temple of Mercury; and as we pursued our onward course, I sought to beguile the tedium of the way by describing the ancient British trackway, whose lengthened course we were treading, and which ran parallel with this series of venerable temples. We are now arrived again at the temple of Mercury, seated on the extreme verge of the hills, bordering on the vale of Pewsey: behold the glorious view which extends its limits up and down that vale I and, directing your eye to the south, you will, in the centre of the vale, three miles from hence, [92] see Maiden, the temple of Mars, and again on the brow of the hill on the opposite side of the vale, three miles farther distant, you will perceive the temple of Jupiter (Casterley Camp); thus does the scope of human vision take in at one view the three temples of Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter, ranged on the meridional line; but, if my fellow travellers do not feel a little wearied with our long walk, I do; and therefore let us take our seats on this verdant tumulus, the temple of Mercury, which has been already described, and, whilst we regale ourselves with the charming view before us, I will commune on things present, past, and to come, and thus do I say:

The Greeks and Romans were wont to dedicate the highlands impending over the ocean to the several tutelary deities, whose protection from danger was fervently implored by the passing and adventurous seaman, and the summit of the hill was customarily crowned by the fane of the special deity, to whom it was so dedicated. The like usage prevailed on land, and the traveller, who. was plodding his weary way through the vale, sought the shielding aid of the deity, whose temple was seated on the projecting promontory. In the revolution of time race has succeeded to race, custom to custom, and objects of veneration have supplanted one another; but the country people naturally love a sound familiar to their ears, we may readily suppose therefore, that when they had to seek a new patron for their hill, they culled from the Romish Calendar the one whose name most nearly resembled that [93] to which they had been accustomed. In accordance with this view, I cannot divest my mind of the notion, (but I do not propound it as a fact,) that, in the days of the Romans, the shrine of the chaste Diana held her sway over the hill, now indeed rendered sacred by the aid of the modern St. Anne, the mother of the Holy Virgin.

I cannot help thinking, that from Diana and Dian were struck off the appellations Anna and Ann, (the additional 'n' being subsequently added,) and that the feriζ or festival of the goddess was superseded by the fair, as now held, of the saint. I shall now be told that the fame of the hunting goddess would never have been seated on this high and bare hill, that the Romans would have given her a habitation amidst the woods and groves, but here Callimachus comes to my aid. In his beautiful Hymn on Diana he thus feigns her, with these requests, to entreat her father Jupiter "[Greek]—also give me all hills and mountains." The father of gods and men gently kissed his suppliant daughter, and her request was granted. Horace, likewise, depicts her as "Montium custos nemorumque virgo:" "the virgin guardian of the mountains, and of the groves." He here evidently intends a contra-distinction: she is the montium custos, whether they be clothed or not with woods and groves; she is the nemorum custos, whether they cover the sides and top of the rising mount or whether they extend [94] their shadows over the lowly sea or expansive vale. But what does Virgil say:

Aut per juga Cyntbi
Exoereet Diana choros, quain mille secotas
Hine atque hinc glomerantnr Oreades.

Here we have in this beautiful picture Diana weaving the mystic dance followed in her train not by the Dryades and Hamadryades the nymphs of the woods and groves, but by the Oreades, the mountain nymphs; we see her thus disporting herself with her blithe companions; not on the summit of a wooded hill but on the ridge of a barren mountain. Toumefort, in his voyage to the Levant (Ozell's Translation, Vol. I. p. 323) says thus: "Mount Cynthus, whence Apollo was called Cynthius, is an ugly hill crossing almost the whole island (Delos) obliquely; this mountain properly speaking is nothing but a ridge of granite." Thus much for the peculiar resort of the hunting goddess to woods and groves!

Thus are the ancient poets in my favour and it appears to me that such a situation for the temple of the heathen goddess was most appropriate when we consider that the hill of St. Anne overlooks the vale of Pewsey, which, now a woody region, must have been in early days in a state of forest, where strayed the wild boar and the red deer, both now extinct in this country, in a state of nature, but the tusks of the one, and the horns of the other, are not unseldom met with in the barrows.


Scattered on the Downs, betraying the favourite amusement and occupation, as well as the luxurious living, of our heathen ancestry. It is very true, that the Aborigines of our land possessed not the means of giving additional relish to their feasts of venison, a food most meet for gods and men, by the aid of good old wine, as according to Virgil, the Trojans did, when they thus feasted on the shores of Lybia, "Implentur veteris Bacchi, pinguisqueferinae," but then they could aid their repast by libations from the purling brook, or bubbling spring, and I ever held with Pindar, that [Greek], that, where men love health, where they seek to preserve a "mens sana in corpore sano,"' to possess a mind and body alike free from disorder, that there "water is the best of all liquors," and my own experience has ever demonstrated to me this truth.

A large fair, alike devoted to pleasure and to business, is annually held on this hill. The day appropriated to the festival of Saint Anne stands in the Romish Calendar as the 26th of July, but, on the institution of the new style, it naturally fell on the 6th of August, on which day that anniversary of joy and trade. Tan Hill Fair, is now ever kept. This fair of Saint Anne, the successor nearly in name and nature (as I suppose) to the feriζ of the goddess Diana, is well-known by fame throughout the county of Wilts, whose rural population recognize as Tan Hill Fair, that which is evidently the fair of St. Anne's Hill. The [96] corruption of St. Anne^s Hill to Tan Hill is curious, but obviously thus, St. Anne's Hill—S'tan Hill—Tan Hill.

In primaeval ages the plains, the heaths, and the moors were the inhabited parts, and the valleys in a state of forest. In these the wild animals, the wolf, the boar, and the deer, roamed as they pleased, save when pursued the one by the other, or by man, the lord of the creation. That the Aborigines did partially cultivate the soil, I have reason to believe, as fragments of their quern stones, or hand mills, have occasionally been found in their settlements. I suspect, that the Romans, with the exception of the establishment of some few great towns, did not much alter the general features of the country; that they identified themselves with the inhabitants and were generally content to dwell with them in their previous settlements; but, when they withdrew themselves for the defence of their own country, then it was, I think, that the Saxons, successful in their invasion, induced the aboriginal Britons to descend from their higher grounds, and to unite with them in giving a population to the valleys, and in settling on the alluvial soil, as more suited to agriculture which then began to assume a name, and to rank as an occupation; then it was, that the thickets were cleared, the woods and forests cut down, and the morasses drained; then it was, that the purling brook and gentle stream were first placed under the restraint of dams and weirs, and the slender rivulet [97] was exchanged for the more expanded and deepened river. With the Saxons the feudal system was introduced, and the hall of the Thane or Lord of the Manor, the more humble dwellings of his tenantry, and the cottages of his menial vassals, the mill, and the church, all simultaneously arose. The mill was a distinctive feature of the Wiltshire Bournes, and of the feudal system, wherever there was a stream. In those early ages a grist mill was attached to every manor, however small; the flour-factor and the middle-man were unknown, and the tenantry were obliged to grind their com at the Lord^s mill; and in an ancient Court Roll I have seen the presentment of a tenant for his omission in so doing. By Domesday Book it appears, that in the three parishes of Amesbury, Dumford, and (ancient) Salisbury, including the now parish of Stratford, there were respectively 8, 4, and 5 mills, 17 in the whole, where there are now only 3. The principal mill at (ancient) Salisbury was possessed, in mutual moieties, between the king and the bishop, evidently for the purpose of grinding the com of the ecclesiastical and military establishments. The wretched state of general commonage yielded to the more advantageous establishment of private property. The ancient British tongue also now gave way to the language of the conquerors, and the Saxon forms the basis of our present national speech. The names of places are almost wholly Saxon, and generally arise from local associations. A singular exception may be made as to the appellative [98] of the river Avon. This is, if we may so say, generic. In the ancient British it signifies the river, and this appellative, often heard of, stands attached to all those streams, to which the Saxons failed to give a distinguishing and specific name. There are perhaps in the usages of manors more remains of the feudal system to be found in South Wilts than in any other portion of the kingdom. In those early ages the superior Lord exercised a dominant sway over his tenant, he called him out to till his land, and he called him out to accompany him to the wars. All society was bonded together in one social and warlike system. On a call to arms every disposable man, (impelled by a plan, which, under a gradation of numerous links, connected the highest and the lowest, the king on the throne and the humble cottager), stepped forth, and fell into rank under the banner of the baron, or the knight, led on by the national standard. Surely a more beautiful web was never woven by the most civilized state than was the feudal system by these semi-barbarians! As to coinage amongst the aboriginal Britons I have slender reliance on it. At the more early period when they buried in tumuli, I certainly think, that coins were not extant amongst them, as they are not found in those tumuli. The Romans introduced their coin, and in the days of the Saxons also, these were made the instruments of barter. Let us rest, my fellow travellers, a little longer, whilst I read to you the following appropriate remarks from the work known [99] by the title of "The Halle of John Halle," "At first,"' says our author "commodities were simply exchanged for each other, but, eventually a general medium of barter was found to be necessary, and, whilst the cowrie shell was thus adopted by the untutored negro, whose wants were few, the more civilised nations found a far better standard of commerce in the precious metals, and they have been generally agreed on by tacit consent to serve that purpose. They were comparatively to be obtained with difficulty in the first instance, and not like the cowrie shell, to be picked up on, the sea-shore. The sources, from whence they were procured, were usually seized on by the governing powers, and the metals themselves were admirably adapted for this beneficial service to man, being fusible in their nature they were easy to be formed into small pieces differing in weight and value, and impressed with the mark of the state. Hence the origin of coins.

"For many ages the discovery and the importation of the precious metals did not keep pace with the increase of commerce, and we may therefore reasonably believe, that it was long before commodities themselves ceased to be the objects of barter or exchange.

"The precious metals being thus scarce, money was, (commercially speaking) dear, and merely from the fact, that, some centuries since, a sheep cost but a few shillings, it is a great illusion to suppose, that it was very cheap, and from thence to envy the bygone [100] times, times of a rude society, prone to war, and of little comfort. A great change was made by the discovery of America and the Spanish mines. Europe was then inundated with gold and silver, and the relative value of those precious metals, as compared with that of other commodities, was much altered. Money itself was rendered much cheaper, in other words of less value, and a greater quantity was, of course, demanded for the exchange of commodities, and thus did these in their turn become much dearer. To buy and sell are convertible terms, when we consider money as the medium of exchange. I speak uncouthly, it may be, but, I think, not incorrectly, when I say, that, from the increase and consequent lowered value of the precious metals, a sheep will now buy much more money than it would 'have done in the days of John Halle.'"

It is time, my fellow travellers, to arise and pursue our journey, but, before we proceed, I must say a very few words on the subject of agriculture. The feudal system is passed by never to return. To agriculture it was a most injurious system, as under its auspices were supported a host of small copy-holders, and lifeholders, bound to pursue a certain and defined course of husbandry, often contrary to sound policy, and obliged to eke out a scanty subsistence, ill clothed, and ill fed. The extinction of this race has been mourned by ill-judging philanthropists, but it has to the great advantage of the community at large, been replaced [101] by a race of substantial yeomen, cultivating, under superior management, lands better combined in size and far superior in crop. The practice of agriculture is becoming every day better understood, improvements are ever arising up, and the time may possibly arrive, when the Salisbury Plains shall exist only in name. The greedy plough is ever encroaching on it, and farms and hamlets are now seen, where our forefathers never expected them; but if, my fellow travellers, you are sufficiently rested, let us arise and walk on. I could have said much more on things past, present, and to come, but before we start, I must request you from this lofty site, the temple of Mercury on Walker's Hill, to look across this beauteous vale, and, in a straight line before you, the temple of Mars at Marden may be seen in its centre, and, on the height of the opposite range of hills, may be viewed the temple of Jupiter, or Casterley Camp. Thus at one scope of the vision may be included three of the temples of this magnificent planetarium!




Having left the temple of Mercury behind us, and proceeded to the southward, we meet at the distance of three miles, and in the centre of the vale of Pewsey, with the earthen works of Marden, and here we recognize the temple of the planet Mars. These works consist of an immense tumulus called Hatfield Barrow, with a secondary or smaller one to the south, and they are together located on an area of 51 acres of land, the whole of which is surrounded by a rude and irregular circular vallum with its fosse within side! This arrangement denotes, (as at Abury,) that such a fosse and vallum were not purposed for defence. Within this circle, I regret to say, that the tumulus was; for in the year 1809 Sir R. C. Hoare endeavoured, with slender success, to investigate the inmost recesses of this enormous mass of earth, and on revisiting the spot in the year 1818 it was gone,—with barbarian hands it had been levelled to the ground! This curious Hill Altar, or earthen temple, is mentioned by no author but Sir R. C. Hoare, and the extracts relative to it, which I shall make from his valuable work on Ancient Wilts, are decidedly in favour of my asserted astronomical scheme.


In vol. 2, p. 6, Sir R. C. Hoare has this passage relative to it, bearing very strongly on my theory, which was equally unknown to and unthought-of by him. "With regard to its high antiquity," says he, "and being the work of our British ancestors, no doubt can be entertained, and its situation almost midway between Stonehenge and Abury, with the vicinity of the British trackway, seems to indicate an immediate connexion with those two grand sanctuaries."

The British trackway here spoken of by Sir R. C. Hoare, is the very same, which I have previously described as running in a parallel line from north to south with the series of temples, which form this grand astronomical scheme, of which his mind was on the brink of discovery, but he failed to seize on the chain of well connected facts, and to pursue them out to their final issue. The expression of my late and worthy friend is so forcible, that I must repeat it, for nowhere else does he even intimate a connexion between Stonehenge and Abury, but treats of the former, as all my predecessors have done, as an insulated and disconnected structure. Speaking of Marden—"Its situation," says he, "almost midway between Stonehenge and Abury, with the vicinity of a British trackway, seems to indicate an immediate connexion with those two grand sanctuaries." Here does Sir R. C. Hoare bring into contact the temples of Abury, Marden, and Stonehenge, and he observes the trackway, passing by Marden; but, puzzled with the obvious facts, he lost that clew, which I [104] have picked up, and am now unravelling! When treating on Silbury Hill also. Sir R. C. Hoare pronounces it, as connected with the temples of Abury, but he shows not wherefore! This I have likewise previously explained, and the object of this dissertation is to prove all these several temples to be one connected and astronomical whole.

Sir R. C. Hoare, remarking on the fosse and vallum, which surround the area, on which these interesting earthen works were located, thus proceeds to say, "That this enclosure was not destined for military purposes, the circumstance of the ditch being placed within the vallum, most satisfactorily proves, and we can never imagine, that so laborious an earthen work could have been constructed merely to protect a mound raised over the body of a simple individual. In the ditch and vallum we perceive a resemblance to the grander temple of Abury, and a huge tumulus supplies within the area the place of a stone temple, for here nature has not produced that material, which is so abundant in the immediate neighbourhood of Abury. I am therefore inclined to think, that this barrow was designated for a High Altar, or a place of general assembly, not a sepulchre, and the numerous remains of horns and the bones of men, birds, and beasts, which have been discovered within the barrow and area of the earthen works, seem to corroborate this opinion.

"Within the area of this entrenchment, and further towards the south, there is another small earthen work [105] which deserves our notice; its form is circular, and its diameter one hundred and ninety-eight feet, its vallum is slightly raised and the interior rises gradually to a low apex. In digging within the area we found a few bits of old pottery, and a little charred wood, but no marks of any interment. Its elegant form has been much defaced by tillage, and soon will probably be entirely lost.''

The second tumulus, just spoken of, was, I suspect, for the purpose as usual of a gnomon to direct at certain times the observant eye of the astronomer towards the planet.

In a previous portion of this dissertation I have said, that the word Abiri (the modern Abury) signifies in the Phoenician or Hebrew "The Potentes,'' "The Mighty Ones,'' and is allusive to the plurality of temples at that place, the temples of the Sun and Moon. I have also said, that the temple of Mercury is pointed out at the exact geometrical spot, where it should be found, by Knap Hill, an obvious corruption of Kneph, the Egyptian name for Mercury as well as Thoth: and here at Marden we have a similar and strong coincidence. Here at Marden we find the temple of Mars,—we find it, where (in accordance with this astronomical scheme) we should find it, geometrically situate midway between the temples of Mercury and Jupiter; and we also find, as I may with truth aver, an exact correspondence between the ancient and modern names. At first I was inclined to think, that a tradition of the sacred [106] worship paid to the planet Mars at this spot might have descended to the Romans, and that from them the modern name of Marden was derived, but there arose the objection of deriving a compound word from two languages, and on reference to the Ductor Tiingnarum of Minshieu, I was agreeably surprised to find, that the planet in question bore the appellative of Mars in the Teutonic, of which the ancient British is a dialect, as well as in the more modern Roman. It is generally considered, that the ancient British is the daughter of the Celtic tongue, but the Celtic and Teutonic were twin sisters, and, consequently, those dialects, so nearly allied, must have possessed many words in common.

The word Marden is, therefore, obviously compounded of the ancient British words. Mars and den, and may with strict propriety be rendered as the house or temple of Mars. We therefore, not only find, that the successive temples of the Sun and Moon, of Mercury, and of Mars are at due distances from each other, but that the modern appellatives of their sites still retain the allusive cognisance of their ancient appropriations!

The temple of Mars is situate six miles from the Earth, or Silbury Hill, pourtraying the centre of the universe, and therefore in this vast planetarium it may be regarded as the representative of the planet, to circumscribe an orbit whose diameter is twelve miles. From hence pass we on to the south, and, after emerging from the vale, by ascending in the parish of Charlton [107] through a gorge in the impending hill, we reach at the distance of three miles, the table land of the plains of South Wilts. Nearly on the brow of the hill we fall in with Casterley Camp, or the temple of Jupiter. The etymology of this comparatively modern name is Saxon, and is denotive of a fortified residence on an upland pasture, and nothing can be more descriptive of the place in question.

Thus does Sir R. C Hoare speak on the subject of Casterley Camp in his "Ancient Wilts," (vol. 1, p. 177), "This earthen work bears the strongest marks of originality, and none of the modern signs of innovation. I consider it as a British town. Here we find no deep or multiplied ramparts, but a simple ditch and vallum, of no great elevation, enclosing an area of above sixty acres. The richness of its soil having induced the owner to devote it to tillage, many of the original works and excavations have been defaced, but we still recognise the works of the Britons. There is an inner enclosure, which, by having the ditch within the vallum, denotes probably a place appropriated to religious purposes."

"Many passages," continues Sir R. C. Hoare, "have been made through these works for the accommodation of wagons. The line of ramparts is most perfect and regular on the east side. On the south side we may observe a bank and ditch issuing from the camp, which runs over the down, and bends towards the vale of Avon. The area of this camp contains above sixty-four [108] acres, the circuit of the outer ditch is one mile and a quarter and the depth of the vallum is twenty-eight feet. On the west side also are the signs of another bank and ditch.

"This camp, from its elevation, commands a very-distant view, and, upon minute investigation, will be found to be one of the most original and unaltered works of the British ζra, which our country, amidst numerous antiquities of a similar nature, can produce."

Thus does Sir R. C. Hoare rightly adjudge, that this area of sixty-four acres contains both a place of settlement, and the site of a religious temple and, situate as it is, in a line between the works at Marden, or the temple of Mars, and the well known structure of Stonehenge, or the temple of Saturn, and at a due distance from each, I cannot but consider it as pourtraying in this astronomical system, the temple of the planet Jupiter.

Cooke, the anonymous author of a brief account of Stonehenge and Abury, which has been before quoted, to which is subjoined, "An Account of Antiquities of Salisbury Plain," says thus: "The camp of Casterley was supplied with water from two wells, one within the wall, and another just without the southern gate. Pity it is, that the worthy owner of the land has not been properly applied to for the opening of these in search of coins, or what else might offer for our better information." If there be no error in this statement, I quite agree with Cooke, that the investigation of these wells [109] would be most desirable, and that it may possibly, in its result, prove a practical exposition of that metaphorical maxim of the ancients, that, Truth lies at the bottom of the well. I am well sanctioned in here placing the temple of Jupiter, as it is at the due geometrical distance, three miles from the temple of Mars, as it is on the testimony of Sir R. C. Hoare, the site of a religious temple, and as the chorographers all fortuitously so agree in its situation on the meridian line, that on every map of Wilts, a thread stretched from Stonehenge, as the temple of Saturn, to Silbury Hill, as the representative of the Earth, the centre of the universe, will intersect this remarkable earthen work.

The gnomon attached to this temple for the purpose of facilitating the astronomical observation of the planet is either destroyed by tillage, or, as is very probable, such an index was considered as unnecessary, since, from the lofty site of the temple, some distant hill in the horizon might have been made to answer the same purpose. The planet Jupiter, as thus represented by its temple, is situate nine miles from the Earth or Silbury Hill, as denotive of the centre of the universe, and thus may be regarded as describing an orbit, the diameter of which is eighteen miles.




Taking our departure from Casterley Camp, or the temple of Jupiter, we proceed towards Stonehenge, the temple of Saturn, the most distant planet in this astronomical scheme. After advancing about four miles we find seated on a lofty eminence on the plain, and on the ancient British trackway, before described, (which is the bond of connexion between the whole series of temples) a long barrow, well known by the name of Knighton Barrow, from a farm so called, to which it is attached. An extensive horizon may be surveyed from this elevated spot. Behind, you have Casterley Camp, the temple of Jupiter, and, in front, you have Stonehenge, the temple of Saturn, the celebrated wonder of the West of England. From this eminence, at the distance of three miles, Stonehenge is seen in the midst of rising grounds on all sides, whose tops are crowned by ranges of sepulchral tumuli, a sight unique, and captivating to the eye.

I regard this long barrow as a gnomon, seated as it is on the high ground, which intercepts the mutual view of the temples of Saturn and Jupiter from each other, as indicating to the religious assemblage convened at Stonehenge, the route from thence to the range of temples to the north, the course of the meridional line, on which [111] they are located and, contrariwise, indicating to the several pilgrims from the distant hordes, the route to be pursued by them, when, impelled by their religious feelings, they were travelling onwards to Stonehenge, the temple of Saturn, the extreme temple of this amazing and curious planetary diagram.

From this long barrow we pursue the ancient British trackway, now seated direct on the meridional line, and, at length, we enter within the mounded banks of that ulterior portion of it, which Stukeley calls "The Avenue," and, passing by the single stone, (near the modern turnpike road, and placed in the centre of the Avenue) we enter Stonehenge, or the temple of Saturn, and advancing up it, until we arrive at the flat stone, which is denominated by Stukeley, the altar stone, we may survey, as we proceed, the entire plan of the architects of this venerable structure, which readily opens itself to the discerning eye in equal parts to the right and left. When arrived at this stone, the visiting stranger should then turn round, and, from that peculiarly sacred spot, he should cast his eye down the middle of the temple, and, looking beneath the central impost of the three, which are still fortuitously left on the uprights of the outer circle, he will gain an advantageous and singular perspective view of the stone by the side of the road, from whence he took his recent departure, and over the apex of which, as its gnomon, the astronomic observer of yore watched with feelings of intense anxiety the rise of the solstitial sun at his summer season.


In the distant approach of Stonehenge, there is a disadvantage in its being first seen in diminutive perspective, although enlarging itself as we advance. On one, who, as a stranger, views thus this interesting ruin, the vastness of the stones makes the less impression from the unavoidable contrast of the surrounding and expansive plain; he should first view the plain from the temple, and not the temple from the plain, and, to obviate this optical illusion, the only mode is for him to travel to, and to enter the temple with his eyes beneath the duress of a bandage^ from which he should only be relieved, when he is placed in the midst of the surrounding stones, and then yielding to the impressions, excited by the extraordinary scene before him, when he views the expanse of plain covered with sepulchral tumuli, when he contemplates the massiveness of the stones, the evident skill, with which they are wrought, and the mechanical powers, called into action in raising the ponderous uprights, and placing on them their several imposts, secured by the mortise and tenon, when he examines the details of this curious and venerable structure, and reflects on the united grandeur and simplicity of the whole, then he cannot but acknowledge the work of a master-mind, he cannot but wonder at the scene before him, then his thoughts are irresistibly borne to ages, of which we have no record, to a people, of whom we comparatively know nothing.

In the ultimate developement of this astronomical theory, and of the series of temples, which, placed on a [113] meridional line, constitute unitedly the diagram of this magnificent planetarium, which I have brought before the attention of the public. I am at length arrived at Stonehenge, the representative of Saturn, the most distant planet of this mundane system, as acknowledged by the ancients, the Ultima Thule in their astronomical scheme, if I may be allowed thus to express myself.

Various have been the writers, and as various have been the opinions of those writers, on the subject of Stonehenge. "Quot homines, tot sententise," and I feel some difficulty as to the mode of drawing this lengthened dissertation to its conclusion. I am satisfied of the decided connexion between Stonehenge and the religion of the Druids, the origin of which religion I have endeavoured to develope in the opening chapter of this work. I am satisfied, that the religious priests of the people, who, in the earliest times, inhabited the Wiltshire Downs, in other words, the Druids, under whose superintendence and directions this mighty and unique temple, this Wonder of the West of England, was constructed, were, in principle, Pythagoreans, that that they were Sabaeans, or worshippers of the wandering planets, or starry host of Heaven, that they were peaceable in disposition, and averse from blood, that they did not truculently burn alive a holocaust of their fellow-men in a wicker image, as slanderously asserted of them by the marvellous Pliny, and as ludicrously pourtrayed in the Britannia of Aylett Sammes.

My opinion is, that Stonehenge and all such stone [114] temples, ever found in the most open and champaign countries, were the temples of the most early Heathen Sabaeans, who, having forgotten the one true God, did in their first lapse into idolatry, worship those greater luminaries, the Sun and the Moon, and subsequently, took the minor planets, influenced as they, doubtlessly, were by their apparent powers of self-locomotion, into their scheme of religious worship.

There are many collateral subjects connected with Stonehenge, and yet not bearing immediately on my theory. I will leave these for subsequent mention, and proceed at once ad scopum. I will therefore enter into some enquiry as to the origin of the names of Stonehenge, then will I endeavour to point out the original plan, and astronomical details of the temple in question, and finally disclose the ultimate intent, which our heathen ancestors bore in mind, when they formed this grand astronomical scheme, and thus placed their series of planetary temples on a meridional line. Thus will be disclosed the ultimatum, the gist of a theory, well supported, as I trust, from the first to last, not by a visionary train of reasoning, but by a chain of well proved facts, descending by a series of links, until they form one combined and connected whole.




There is amongst ancient authors a general supposition, that Stonehenge was known in the days of the Britons by the name of 'Choir Gaur,' and those words were, subsequently, rudely latinised by the monkish writers, and converted into 'Chorea Gigantum,' that is, 'The Giant's Dance.' For this prevalent idea, that Stonehenge bore the appellative of 'Choir Gaur,' although generally asserted and believed, extraordinary to say, there is no proof whatever.

In the early Welsh poems, called 'The Triads,' the supposed productions of the ancient Bards, an allusion is regarded to be made to Stonehenge. In one of these poems the three mighty works of Britain are there described as

'Erecting the stone of Ketti,
Constructing the work of Emrys,
And heaping the pile of Cyrangon.'

The work of 'Emrys' is here supposed to designate Stonehenge. The appellative of 'Choir Gaur' is, I have no doubt, a fiction of more modern date, and it is astonishing, in the early ages, how readily a fiction, pro- [116] mulgated by one was eagerly seized on, and adopted by successive writers until at last it surreptitiously took its place amongst established truths. I must confess that I am a great sceptic, as to many points of history long since adopted as truths. I disbelieve in the tales of Druidism, of which we really know very little, and the information concerning which has reached us through very suspicious channels. I never can give credit to their immolation by fire, of human victims in the wicker cage. I cannot believe in their cutting the misseltoe from the oak, on which it does not grow, and that with the golden hook, which does not cut. I regard these as old wives' fables. neither can I place any confidence in the slaughter of three hundred Britons by Hengist and his Saxon followers, when invited to a feast on the site of Stonehenge, nor do I attach the slightest credence to the asserted fact, that Aurelius Ambrosius raised Stonehenge as a monument in memory of those, there massacred, and that from hence that structure derived its name from Hengist, and the adjoining town its appellative from Ambrosius; nay even the visionary Stukeley repudiates these assertions as fables. To the recorded fact, that William the First, dispeopled the country for thirty miles round, and destroyed thirty churches to make a new forest I attach very slight faith; but I believe, that he afforested merely that which was native woodland, that he rendered then a large tract of country subject to the forest laws, and that it was called New Forest, not as being then planted, but simply in [117] contradistinction to the forests before existing; and although the dramatist Shakespeare in his marvellous love of fun has made posterity believe, that Jack Cade was a ruffian, who, through his mingled buffoonery and low daring, raised himself from the dregs of a mob, and became its leader; I believe on the other hand, that Jack Cade was a gentleman born and bred, and that he was in the secret employ of Richard Duke of York, the father of the subsequent Edward the Fourth, for the purpose of supplanting through an organized rebellion, under the semblance of a sudden and popular ferment, the then reigning monarch, Henry, the Sixth, and pushing him off his throne.

I have slender faith in these and many other facts of assumed history, nor do I believe, that Stonehenge was ever really known by the name of 'Choir Gaur.' It is possible that it may have been so, but we have no well accredited testimony to that effect.

Camden himself says nothing on this point, although he remarks on Stonehenge, that the ancient historians from its greatness called it 'Gigantum Chorea,' 'The Giants' Dance f and then he cites some Latin verses from Alexander Necham, a poet of the middle ages, who, in those verses, gives it this denomination. Gibson, bishop of London, the annotator on Camden, makes these remarks with reference to Stonehenge.

"For the name. Leland's opinion, that the British one 'Choir Gaur' should not be translated 'Chorea Gigantum,' but 'Chorea Nobilis,' or else, that gaure is [118] put for vaure, is probable enough. But the true Saxon name seems to be Stanhengist, (and so it is writ in the Monasticon out of a manuscript of good authority) from the memorable slaughter Hengist, the Saxon, here made of the Britons. For though 'tis not very probable that they were erected by Ambrosius in memory of the Britons, yet, without doubt, that treacherous slaughter was committed at or near this place. If this etymology may be allowed, that received derivation from the hanging of stones may be as far from the truth, as that of the vulgar Stone-edge from stones set on edge.''

Stukeley says of Stonehenge, "the ancient Britons called it 'chour gaur' which the monks latinized into 'chorea gigantum,' the giants dance, a name suited to the marvellous notion they had of the structure or of the reports of magic concerned in raising it. But I would rather choose to think 'choir gaur.' in Welsh truly means the great church, the cathedral in our way of speaking, a general title, which the Welsh inhabitants, the remnants of the Belgae, conquered by the Romans, gave it, as well knowing the true use of it, and even frequenting it in a religious way. Though they had driven off the first possessors of it, and the builders, I mean in Divitiacua's time or sooner before the Roman invasions." Stukeley, at the close of the previous passage, seems to me to adopt successive opinions unauthorized by history, and not sanctioned by general usage, he first makes the Aborigines of the land to recede before the Belgζ, and then the Belgζ in their turn to retire before the Romans into Wales.


I do not accede to either of these opinions, I think, that the prevalence of the British language in the Principality arises rather from the maritime settlements of the Phoenicians by the Irish Sea than from the compulsory inroads of the British tribes.

Cooke (an author whom I have repeatedly quoted) says, that he is led naturally to inquire into the meaning of its ancient denomination, 'Choir Gaur,' out of which the trifling monks formed their 'Chorea Gigantum.' Dr. Stukeley judges, that it imports as much as the 'Great Church,' or 'Grand Choir,' but has given us no other foundation for his opinion than the general design of such works. That learned antiquarian, however, happy in all his conjectures, has not erred from the mark in this respect It does indeed include that idea, and not only that, but the notion of every other purpose for which we have now imagined it intended. Choir in the Hebrew tongue is the concha-marina, or round double sea-shell, which very exactly comprehends the idea of circle within circle, and is thence used to signify any lofty pile of building raised in that form. Marius de Calashio says on this word, 'suggestis aliquis fastigiatis instar conchae exaedificatus.' Gaur is a gathering together of the people, collectio congregatio, so that the proper signification of 'choir-gaur' is the circular high place of the assembly or congregation.

Under all circumstances I am of opinion, that there is no proof, although there may be possibly truth in the tradition, that Stonehenge was known amongst the Britons [120] by the name of 'Choir-Graur,' and that from thence it was latinized by the Monks as 'Chorea-Gigantum,' that in the rude and middle ages it was called by this latter appellative is proved by Alexander Necham. Although there be a faint resemblance between the words 'Choir-Gaur' and 'Chorea Gigantum,' I do not think that they bore any reference to each other, either in origin or meaning, but that the latter had its rise from some obscure and legendary tradition, now obsolete; that these massive stones were certain gigantic human beings, who for their impieties were by the Divine Being turned into stone. Such legends often attach themselves to ancient stone monuments, and probably, the idea was originally based on the historic fact attested by the inspired writer, that of the conversion of Lot's wife into a pillar of salt.

I will now turn to the consideration of another supposed ancient British name of Stonehenge, I mean that of the Ambres, and for which, as I think, we have much better concurrent testimony. Stukeley, when speaking of the camp situate between Stonehenge and Ambresbury, and which, though without much reason, has been attributed to Vespasian, says, "I apprehend that Stonehenge was originally called the Ambres, from thence this camp was called Ambresburgh, and thence the name of the town underneath." Stukeley then quotes from Camden, citing the instance of a vast stone near Penzance in Cornwall called Main Ambre, which was destroyed by the soldiery in the days of Cromwell.


It was a patriarchal custom to anoint stones, or temples dedicated to Divine worship with sweet-scented oil or ambrosia, the meaning of which word is well illustrated by Baxter in his "Glossarium Antiquitatum Romanarum." The word signifies sweet-scented oil oleum rhodinum, oil of roses, a very ancient perfume, and from hence Stukeley justly says that, "main ambres, petrζ ambrosias, signify the stones anointed with holy oil, consecrated or, in a general sense, a temple, altar or place of worship." In progress of time its original became obscure, until developed by Baxter in his Glossary.

Virgil, as the classical reader may well remember, in his beautiful description of the goddess Venus, feigns, that her hair was anointed with this celebrated oil, and was thus scented with this delicious perfume:

"Ambrosiasque oomes divinam vertice odorem Spirarere."

We must not here suppose, that, in this fiction of Virgil, this personal use of ambrosia was degraded, since in her, as a goddess, it imparted, according to the author, a divine odour. This is an evident allusion to another supposed use of ambrosia, since, as nectar is said to have been the drink, so was ambrosia feigned to be the food of the heathen divinities. I must also here add, that Stukeley exhibits the representation of an ancient coin of Tyre, (copied from the second volume of Valliant's Colonial Coins), which bears on its face the figures of stones, and over them the legend of "Petrζ ambrosiζ" whilst beneath them is the figure [122] of a conch shell. This is a remarkable and corroborative fact.

Cooke also, in speaking of Stonehenge, says: "The vulgar opinion of its being raised by Aurelius Ambrosius (an opinion entirely owing to the similitude of sound in the name of the adjoining town of Ambresbury) is scarce worth while confuting. Let it only be remembered, that ambres are anointed stones, we shall not then be long at a loss for the etymon of that name, nor wonder, that the neighbouring camp of Vespasian, and thence the town itself, should take its name from these consecrated pillars, which composed the noblest structure of the kind within these islands, or it may be in the universe itself, that of Abury alone excepted."

Thus does Cooke corroborate Stukeley, and the appellative of the existing town of Ambresbury, (not Amesbury,) confirms the allegation of both, and proves its propinquity both to the neighbouring camp, and to the Ambres or anointed holy stones.

The opinion of Sir R. C. Hoare is coincident with this, and the views taken on the subject by Stukeley and Cooke.

In the spirit of candour I must remark, that Higgins, in his elaborate work entitled "The Celtic Druids,"' starts another derivation. He suggests, that Stonehenge itself may have been called Ambresbiri, from "ambres," the holy anointed stones, and "Abiri," the Potentes, the "Mighty Ones," thus denoting it as the temple of the gods. That the modern Abury thus [123] derives its name from the Hebrew Abiri, signifying, "the Mighty Ones," I fully believe; and this reference to a plurality of deities is corroborated by the curious fact, that in this planetarium the temples of the Sun and Moon were there located. That Stonehenge was the conjoint temple of Saturn and the Sun is certainly a singular coincidence, yet, although there may be some objection to the deriving of the name of Ambresbury from ambres, and burig or bury as compound word created out of two languages, yet, I think, that it appears more obviously true, than that suggested as the etymon by Higgins. I must now hasten, lastly, to the comparatively modern, and present name of this venerable and curious stone structure, that of Stonehenge. "This title is," as says Sir R. C. Hoare, "evidently Saxon, and derived from the word, stane, stone, and hengen, hanging, that is, 'the Hanging Stones,' obviously and appropriately allusive to the position of the impost, or the transverse stones on the uprights. In allusion to this curious mode of structure, Henry of Huntingdon, a monkish historian, who wrote about the year 1148, thus says,

"Apud Stanenges, ubi lapides mirae magnitudinis in modum portarum elevati sunt, ita ut portζ portis superpositζ videantur, nee potest aliquis excogitare qua arte tanti lapides adeo in altum elevati sunt, vel quare ibi constructi sunt."

The "portζ portis superpositζ" is in evident allusion to the appearance of the trilithons, with their imposts in the internal part of the temple, surmounting the corona, or imposts placed on the [124] uprights of the outward circle of stones. Indeed, this Saxon derivation is so very obvious that I should at once dismiss the subject were it not to refute the absurd notion that Stonehenge took its name from Hengist, the Saxon who was said to have invited Vortigern the king of the Britons to a feast at that spot, and with his followers to have slain three hundred of the chiefs of the British nation, and to have retained Vortigern prisoner; and it is further stated that in commemoration of this grievous slaughter Aurelius Ambrosius raised Stonehenge as an honorary cenotaph to the memory of the departed who were said to have been buried at the neighbouring monastery of Ambresbury. Various accounts are given of this alleged transaction by various writers. Some say that the massacre took place on the site whereon Stonehenge stands; and others that the dreadful deed was perpetrated at the monastery of Ambresbury. In my own opinion, I think, that there are good grounds to believe, that this alleged historic fact never had existence at all but was merely a transferred version of a somewhat similar, but real, circumstance, which took place in Thuringia. The Saxons, although the invading party, and more warlike, were far less numerous than the Britons. To Hengist and his followers was assigned the kingdom of Kent, and, although ambition might suggest the desire to possess the entire kingdom, yet policy would restrain his actions. I can never believe, that Hengist, leaving his own territory of Kent, would have ventured to have [125] advanced into the midst of the territories of the British king, Vortigern, to insidiously invite him to a feast there, and then to slaughter all his nobles, at the risk of incurring the fatal revenge of the indignant and exasperated British multitudes. Hengist may have been both ambitious and brave, but I do not believe him to have been a madman. This foolish tale is even rejected by the visionary Stukeley, and is repudiated by the most esteemed authors: and on whose authority was this precious historical morceau first promulgated? why, on that of Jeffrey of Monmouth, the most fabulous of all historians, who, as an historian, must be classed with Sir John Mandeville, the most marvellous of all travellers. The ancients were accustomed to say, that truth lies at the bottom of the well; but when the Saxon derivation of stanehengen, or the hanging stones, is so very obvious, I regret, that even some modern authors reject this, and seek its etymology in the adoption of the visionary and marvellous tale of Hengist! I regret, that when truth stands before their eyes, they will pass by, and rush in pursuit of her to the poles, or even to the antipodes




On a very slight survey of this celebrated Druidical temple it does not require the deep acumen of an antiquary to perceive at once that there is an anomalous appearance in it which must ever puzzle the uninitiated. On a slight inspection of this unique and grand structure a strong suspicion will arise (if the mind of the spectator be not very dull and obtuse) that this fine temple taken as a whole is the erection of two distinct ζras.

In its details, it consists of two circles and two ovals; the inner one being rather an ellipse, or portion of an oval. The different parts of the temple are constructed of stone varying in quality.

Sir R. C. Hoare, in his "Ancient Wilts," vol. 1, p. 157, gives a plate with five differing plans of the temple of Stonehenge, by Inigo Jones, Stukeley, Wood, and Smith; the fifth, which occupies the centre on a larger scale, is his own, and presents the elevation of all the larger stones, viz. those of the outer circle and their imposts, with the five internal trilithons and their imposts; this plan omits all the smaller stones of the inner circle, and inner oval.

With reference to this plan I quote thus from the [127] worthy and indefatigable Baronet. "The following letter," says Sir R. C. Hoare, "received from Mr. Cunnington has induced me to add a fifth plan of Stonehenge, which forms the centre compartment of my plate.

"'On viewing the remains of this monument of the Britons (says Mr. Cunnington) I have been surprised that the following question never occurred to the writers who considered this subject, viz. why did the Britons, in erecting Stonehenge, make use of two kinds of stone, which are totally dissimilar to each other? Any person, well versed in mineralogy, will perceive, that the stones on the outside of the work, those composing the outward circle and its imposts, as well as the five large trilithons are all of that species of stone, called sarsen, which is in the neighbourhood, whereas the inner circle of the small upright stones, and those of the interior oval, are composed of granite, homstone, &c. most probably brought from some part of Devon or Cornwall, as I know not where such stones could be procured at a nearer distance.

"'In considering the subject, I have been led to suppose that Stonehenge was raised at different ζras; that the original work consisted of the outward circle and its imposts and of the inner oval of large trilithons, and that the smaller circle and oval of inferior stones were raised at a later period, for they add nothing to the general grandeur of the temple, but rather give a littleness to the whole, and more particularly so, if, according to Smith, you add the two small trilithons of granite.'


"I am much pleased with this new idea respecting Stonehenge (continues Sir R. C. Hoare,) which, to use a well known Italian proverb, 'Se non i vero e ben trovato,' if not true is well imagined, for it is not like many others founded on idle conjecture, but has some rational grounds to rest upon. In erecting this mighty structure its builder would naturally select for that purpose the materials nearest at hand such were the sarsens, which compose the grandest part of the work viz. the outward circle and large oval; and why with these materials acquireable at no great distance (for at that early period the plain adjoining Stonehenge might very probably have furnished stones sufficiently large) should the architects have sought materials for the small circle and small oval in such distant countries? This difference in the stones is a strong argument in favour of Mr. Cunnington's conjecture, for had the Britons erected the temple at one and the same period, they would most naturally have made use of the native, not foreign, materials. And, in viewing this new supposed plan of Stonehenge, divested of its uninviting pigmy pillars of granite and diminutive trilithons, we behold a most majestic and mysterious pile, unconfused in its plan, simple and grand in its architecture, most awful and imposing in its effect. Such indeed is the general fascination imposed on all those who view it, that no one can quit its precincts without feeling strong sensations of surprise and admiration. The ignorant rustic will, with a vacant stare, attribute it to the giants or the mighty [129] arch-fiend, and the antiquary, equally uninformed as to its origin, will regret, that its history is veiled in perpetual obscurity. The artist, on viewing these enormous masses, will wonder, that art could thus rival nature in magnificence and picturesque effect; even the most indifferent passenger over the plain must be attracted by the solitary and magnificent appearance of these ruins, and all with one accord will exclaim—


Sir R. C. Hoare here (as well as in other passages) fairly yields as fruitless all attempts on his own part to elucidate Stonehenge, and such Druidical remains, but I know not why he should have denied those powers to his fellow men, who might be more fortunate in finding the key, wherewith to unlock these sacred temples, to explore them, and to lay open to mankind those stores, which had been hitherto hidden from their eyes, to throw off that hitherto impenetrable veil, by which they have been for ages enveloped in darkness and in mystery.

The conjecture formed by Sir R. C. Hoare, that Stonehenge is the structure of two different ζras, is, I think most correct; but his notion, that the portions of the temple formed by the larger stones were the prior erection, is in my opinion an error; so thought Mr. Britton, whose words I thus quote from his "Sketches of Wiltshire," p. 376.

The only other opinion relative to Stonehenge is some- [130] what analogous to the last. Instead of regarding the larger compartment as of anterior construction to the smaller ones, some antiquaries have drawn a conclusion directly the reverse, and conceive that the lesser circle and ellipsis are true Druidical remains of a very-early period, and that the outer circle and ellipsis were constructed in a more advanced state of art and science. This notion, we confess, seems more probable than that of Mr. Cunnington, The rudeness of the stones of the smaller compartments their greater dilapidation, and near resemblance of their configuration to the genuine Druidical monuments of Wales and Scotland, are circumstances, certainly more indicative of antiquity than the superior magnificence and workmanship of the great architraves and trilithons.

I most fully agree in this opinion of Mr. Britton, but he was not aware of the following fact, which, in my opinion, yields conclusive evidence on the subject; the smaller ellipse of nineteen stones evidently represents the celebrated Metonic cycle; this was surrounded with what is now the second circle, the numerical cycle of forty stones. So far all is correct, for it was the common practice of the Druids to surround an astronomical cycle with a numerical cycle, one in which the mystic Four was ten times repeated: thus did they fence in and surround the temple itself with this most sacred prophylactic; but, beyond this, the eyes of modern men behold in the enlarged temple of Stonehenge, this outer circle (of what I doubt [131] not was the temple of the Sun) itself bounded in and surrounded by an astronomical cycle as is now the case, a circle of thirty stones and their imposts, characteristic rather of the temple of Saturn than that of the Sun: this is indeed an anomalous arrangement, and contrary to all precedent; for though in an original temple an astronomical cycle is found to be fenced in with the numerical and prophylactic cycle, yet, I believe, no example of the obverse is to be found. This agreement then tells me plainly, that, in a former sera, the smaller or granite stones formed one individual temple, that of the Sun; and that, in a later age, when the minor planets became objects of adoration, and the planetarium was formed, then that the temple of the Sun was increased with the larger stones, and, in its enlarged state, became the temple of Saturn, or rather the conjoint temple of Saturn and the Sun. Here I feel that I shall be arraigned of folly in propounding the idea of a conjoint temple: but no! Macrobius, as I said before, makes all the planets referable to the Sun, and he says, that he was worshipped in the temple of each; this opinion and practice doubtlessly arose, from the opinion, that the minor planets partook of his nature, were of the same substance, indeed were as scintilla struck off from his body. Let not my reader be startled at the notion of a conjoint temple, a temple dedicated to the service of two deities; this was not at all uncommon amongst the heathen. The temple of Apollo and Minerva had existence even in our own country. At [132] Aquζ Solis (the modern Bath) I can adduce classic authority, proof that such a structure did exist.

It is now high time to analyse the temple in its enlarged state^ in doing which I shall exert my humble abilities to point out the distinguishing characteristics of the conjoint temple of the Sun and Saturn.




Before I enter on the description of Stonehenge, as the conjoint temple of Saturn and the Sun^ let US wander around its confines and see if there be anything external which needs explanation. On our approach to the temple we may observe close by the side of the modern turnpike road, and in the centre of the diameter of the mounded avenue, a large stone of the height of 16 feet, bulky and unhewn. I shall forbear, at present, to describe minutely the use of this stone, until we arrive at the centre of the temple itself, but merely observe, that it was a gnomon for the purpose of observing the rising of the Sun on the auspicious mom of the summer solstice. Let my fellow-travellers place their backs to this stone, and they will see before them the incidental archway of the entrance; being the central of the three continuous imposts, which yet remain (and long may they remain!) of the coronal line of imposts, which originally surmounted the encircling uprights, and connected the whole outer circle. From this [134] stone the Druids measured off 60 cubits; they then reached the spot which they marked as the limit of their Intended fosse to surround the temple; another 60 cubits arrived at the outer circle of the temple itself; 60 cubits more shewed the diameter of the temple and one other 60 cubits led them to the opposite side of the surrounding and circular fosse: thus was the temple of Saturn occupying the one thirds and central portion of the area included within the surrounding fosse; the whole diameter being 180 cubits; the circumference 540 cubits or the sacred and mystic four 135 times repeated.

Inigo Jones in his "Stonehenge Restored" slightly but somewhat incorrectly, alludes to this fosse, which he states as still appearing about thirty feet broad. In this mensuration I suspect, that Jones included both fosse and vallum. Of this fosse Stukeley thus speaks: "Stonehenge is enclosed with a circular ditch." "After one has passed this ditch," says Gibson, the right reverend annotator on Camden, "he ascends 35 yards before he comes at the work itself. This measure is the same in that, which Webb calls 110 feet, the diameter of the Work. For the area enclosed by a ditch, wherein Stonehenge is situate, is in diameter three times the diameter of Stonehenge."

It is extraordinary, that neither Wood, nor Smith, notices this fosse and vallum. Sir R. C. Hoare thus mentions them: "Stonehenge is surrounded by a ditch and slight agger of earth; writers have described this as a deep ditch and thirty feet wide, and have not noticed [135] the ditch being on the outside of the vallum; according to our measurement the ditch could not have exceeded fifteen feet, in short, this whole line of circumvallation was a very slight work."

I must now advance my own opinion, as to this encircling fosse and vallum. I vary from my late friend Sir R. C. Hoare, in giving it the appellative of a fosse, rather than that of a ditch. I may here be accused of drawing a distinction without a difference, since they are usually regarded as synonymous, yet the word fosse instinctively conveys to my mind the idea of greater regularity and evenness. Sir R. C. Hoare states the measurement of the fosse to be fifteen feet, and seems surprised that previous authors have described it as thirty feet. The difference is, in my opinion, reconcileable by supposing, that the latter measure includes the vallum as well as the fosse. In many of its portions this fosse remains in its original state, unworn and uninjured by carriages. Its circuit is beautifully and mathematically correct. It was evidently formed with great care, and the easy and pleasing serpentine curve, with which the fosse and vallum are made to slide into each other, cannot but excite admiration in the mind of the beholder, who may well suppose it to have been the work as of yesterday, rather than that of upwards of 2000 years since. It tends to prove the position of Hogarth in his "Analysis of Beauty," that the serpentine line is the line of beauty. This fosse and vallum is of slender depth and height, and obviously, not calculated for- [136] defence. I regard it as a sacred demarcation; which proclaimed to the multitude, the ignobile vulgus, in silent but expressive language: "Enter not within, for this is holy ground." This is my sincere belief, but to this I will also add, though with some hesitation, another curious and important fact, which is this, that as this temple, being the extreme one of the series in this superb planetarium, and being situate at the due distance from Casterley Camp, as the temple of Jupiter, should he the representative of the planet Saturn, so is it specially marked with a strong and^most singular concurrent fact, namely, that the temple of Stonehenge, and its surrounding fosse, bear the exact relative proportion as the planet Saturn, and his surrounding belt. The question here arises, whether this extraordinary fact be, or be not, an accidental coincidence I think not. My opinion is, that it must have been a purposed coincidence, but that, if so, the Druids had the use of the telescope; and this I frankly say, that I think they had, as they could have known nothing of the belt of Saturn without it. This subject is discussed by the learned Sir William Drummond in his "Origines," and by Higgins in his "Celtic Druids." The united arguments of these high authorities in favour of that knowledge are these, as briefly as I can condense them. They both agree, that the ancients knew the art of making glass, as is evident by the beads found upon the Egyptian mummies, (I have also a number of glass beads found in an urn from a barrow on the [137] plains;)—that Diodorus Siculus says, that in an island west of the Celtae the inhabitants brought the Sun and Moon near them that the ancients knew, that the Milky-way or galaxy consisted of small stars which without the telescope they could not be supposed to know—that they had an astronomical instrument called the dioptron, so named from the tube, and that it is unlikely they looked through an empty tube—that the Greeks employed mirrors when they surveyed the celestial appearances—that the Pythagoreans asserted, that the Moon contained mountains and valleys, the knowledge of which could be only thus gained—that Pliny says, that 1600 stars had been discovered in the 72 duodecans, into which the Chaldean and Egyptian zodiac was divided, and that they could not be counted in the zodiac without the assistance of glasses—that the ancients made burning mirrors of glass, and that, they could not make experiments with glasses of different forms without the discovery of the power of magnifying with the convex and concave glasses placed at certain distances, and that numerous experiments must have been made with them, before their use, as burning mirrors, could have been discovered—that the moderns are inferior to the ancients in the cutting of gems, cameos, and intaglios, which with the aid of the microscope they cannot now work so finely as the ancients did without it, unless we presume the use of the microscope, which we are constrained to do, and the knowledge of the microscope must carry with it that also of the telescope [138] that there are many traditions of telescopes, for which it would be difficult to account, if no telescope had existence before the time of Galileo—but the most striking fact is this which is involved in a question put by Sir William Drummond, "if astronomers never knew the use of magnifying glasses, and never placed lenses in the tubes of dioptrons, what does Strabo mean, when he says, 'Vapours produce the same effect as the tubes in magnifying objects by refraction?'" On reference to the original Greek of Strabo, (Vol. i. p. 369. Edit. Siebenkees. Lips. 1796.) I perceive, that Sir William Drummond has not at all strained this remarkable passage, which may, I think, be regarded as decisive of the question.

These high authorities, Drummond and Higgins, do not positively assert the use of the telescope, but they shew such a united testimony in its favour, that they evidently believe in it, and the feeling of my own mind is concordant with them.

I hesitate not to aver, that the preponderance of arguments, amongst which the passage from Strabo is in itself a host, when duly and impartially weighed, is strongly in favour of the knowledge and use of the telescope amongst the ancients; and, in addition to the arguments already adduced, it ought ever to be borne in mind, that Euclid was acquainted with the science optics. The necessary presumption, that the knowledge of the telescope was lost and revived, does not at all stagger my opinion. Many arts have been lost and never [139] recovered. The art of embalming as used amongst the Egyptians is lost; it may be guessed at, but will probably be never fully known and, although the Romans knew the art of making glass, yet the Saxons and early Normans in our country did not possess it. If it be asserted, that the ancients had not the instruments for cutting and polishing of lenses, I can give an irrefutable denial to the assertion. I have a crystal bead of the full size of a marble, which my workmen found, whilst digging flints for building in the site of an ancient British village. It is completely spherical, well cut and polished, and exactly perforated through its centre. No modern lapidary with his modern instruments could have more beautifully executed this work; and, if the early ancients could thus shape, polish, and perforate the hard crystal, surely they had ability to form glass lenses (perhaps crystal) of any form, and to adapt them to the tube of the dioptron.

Under the circumstances, that I have proved the existence of the planetary temples on the meridional line and that Stonehenge, bearing the due distance from Casterley Camp, the temple of Jupiter, is the extreme one of those temples, I cannot, although I have shewn it to be a temple of the Sun, but also appropriate it as the temple of Saturn; and in developing its characteristics as such, I cannot but advance my opinion, that the extras ordinary fact of the corresponding proportions of the temple and its fosse with the planet and its belt is not a mere casual occurrence, but a purposed coincidence.


I shall have again to notice this venerable structure of Stonehenge^ as bearing yet another strong characteristic of the temple of Saturn.

In conformity with my plan I must now proceed to explain the intended use of the different stones, &c. located on the verge of the fosse. My readers may have observed, that there are situate just within the fosse two stones, and two depressions in the ground. The latter are each surrounded with a slight circular vallum. These stones and depressions are sited at contrariwise angles with each other. Various opinions have been given of them, and a brief recital of these opinions will be due from me^ before I state that which is the result of my own personal reflection.

Inigo Jones leads the van. He suggests that there were three entrances across the vallum and fosse into the sacred area of the temple and that they were marked by four stones at each entrance, placed as portals in pairs without side and within the fosse and vallum of which the two stones now left on the inner verge of the vallum are alone remaining. According to this supposition the stones would have been twelve in number. I quite agree with Stukeley and Sir R. C. Hoare that there was but one grand entrance into the sacred area of the temple, which was to the north-east (towards the rise of the Sun at the summer solstice) where the fosse was left open, and the angles of that opening turned round, and continued (as to the vallum) tot the purpose of constituting the mound of the [141] approaching avenue, and also that there are no grounds whatever for the hypothesis of Jones.

As to the circular depressions in the earth he does not even allude to them.

These stones and circular depressions of course attracted the attention of the observant and fanciful Stukeley, but as he did not regard the temple in an astronomical point of view, they were inexplicable to him. His notices of them are very short and imperfect. Alluding to the circular depressions, he says: "I observed two remarkable places, which plainly have a conformity with the two stones set upon the vallum, which stones puzzle all enquirers." He supposes, that water vases were set by religious temples for the purpose of lustrations, and, in conformity with this idea, he further says: "The two cavities of our area very probably were the places, where two great stone vases were set, and the two stones were two altars for some particular rites, which we don't take upon ourselves to explain." This vague opinion of Stukeley is visionary, and is based on no sound data. Wood, in his ichnographical plan of the temple in its present state, merely gives the ground outline of the stones in question, but makes no mention of their supposed use, nor of the correspondent depressions. Smith, in describing these stones, makes these remarks: "that a line drawn from the one to the other passes through the centre of the two concentric circles of the temple." One of these stones he points out as [142] an astronomical gnomon, but he fails to notice the circular depressions in the ground. Sir R. C. Hoare thus notices these stones and circular hollows; "There are two small stones within the vallum and adjoining it, whose uses never have been satisfactorily defined. The one on the south side is nine feet high, and has fallen from its base backwards on the vallum; the other on the north-west, is not quite four feet high, both rude and unhewn. There are also two small tumuli ditched round, so as to resemble excavations, adjoining the agger; they are very slightly elevated above the surface, and deserve particular attention, as they may give rise to some curious and not improbable conjectures. On minute investigation you will see that the vallum of the agger, surrounding the work, has been evidently curtailed by forming the tumulus on the north-west side of the circle, which induced us to open it, when, much to our surprise, we found within it a simple interment of burned bones; from hence we may fairly infer, that this sepulchral barrow existed on the plain, I will not say before the erection of Stonehenge, but probably before the ditch was thrown up, and I scarcely know how we can separate one from the other."

It now remains for me, satisfactorily, as I hope, to account for the presence of these two stones, and the correspondent excavations of the ground at these opposite angles, and this I shall do by the test of actual experience. The stones then, were astronomic gnomons, [143] the circular hollows were the astronomic stations, from whence the observer turned those gnomons to practical use. To lay out the geometrical plan of the temple, and to obtain the site of these astronomic gnomons and stations, this early and scientific race of man thus proceeded. Having already erected the main gnomon, which guided the position of the temple (of Saturn) and having located the correspondent stone of astronomic observation, (which I must premise, although within the circumference of the intended temple, yet bore no reference to its precise geometrical centre), they then, on the right line drawn from the rising point of the Sun, measured off (as I said before) 60 cubits or 100 feet, and thus arrived at the circumferential line of the intended fosse; they again measured off 60 other cubits, and thus reached the outer circle of the temple; 60 cubits more lined out the diameter of the temple, and by another 60 cubits they arrived at the opposite circumferential point of the fosse. These four points, on the right line from the point of the rising sun, we must believe that they noted with precise demarcations. Each of these 60 cubits was formed of the mystic four fifteen times repeated. Across those lines which marked the opposite sides of the circumference of the temple, they then drew at right angles with the main line already described, two other right lines, until they reached the opposite sides of the intended fosse.

I shall here be asked, how all this is consistent with [144] the already existent temple of the Sun, which I have asserted to have previous possession of the ground, and to have been enlarged by the temple of Saturn. I answer that the already formation of the one did not in any respect interfere with the formation of the other; that I am convinced that the larger stones were then first raised and the fosse formed; and that this arrangement took place on a day of the summer solstice. I will now describe these stations and gnomons, which are all situate just within the verge of the surrounding fosse. Off the south-eastern side of the temple, and bearing east-south-east from its centre, may be seen one of these astronomic stations. It is a circular depression in the ground rising towards its centre, and surrounded by a slight vallum. The diameter from its outer circumference is about fifteen feet. The astronomer here taking his station in the centre at the summer solstice, and turning to the north-east, would see that majestic luminary in all his splendour mounting in the horizon, and making his first appearance over the gnomon, which is situate east-north-east from the centrical point of the temple. This stone is placed 60 cubits or 100 feet (the diameter of the temple), from the correspondent station. It is now lying prostrate on the vallum, and, when erect, it stood about nine feet in height. As this station and gnomon were of course located on the same line with the main gnomon and station before adverted to^ my readers may wish to know the cause of the differential height of these gnomons, the one being 16 feet, the [145] other only 9 feet in height. The obvious cause is this, the first gnomon is situate about 200 feet farther in advance to the north-east, and stands with regard to its correspondent station on a considerable declivity. This plainly tells the fact, that these differing heights of the two gnomons is for the purpose of accommodating the eye of the astronomic observer directed to the horizon over its apex. They suit the eye of the man of ordinary stature, as is proved by this fact, that they suit my own eye.

We must now cross over to the north-western side of the temple, and to the west-north-west of its centre may be observed the other astronomic station. This is similar to the one before described, with the exception, that it has a somewhat lesser diameter, and that the circle of the vallum is slightly intersected by the vallum of the fosse coming into contact with it. This decidedly proves, that these stones and gnomons were located on the surface of the plain, before the circumjacent fosse and vallum were constructed, and that they were adjuncts of the previously formed temple of the Sun. Sir R. C. Hoare opened this circular station at its centre, and, to his surprise, discovered an interment of burned bones; "from whence," he says, "we may fairly infer, that this sepulchral barrow existed on the plain, I will not venture to say before the construction of Stonehenge, but probably before the ditch was thrown up, and I scarce know how we can separate the ζra of the one from the other."' This is an additional confirmation (were it wanted) of [146] the subsequent enlargement of the temple of the Sun, by the superaddition of the temple of Saturn, this fosse being the representative of the belt of Saturn, and bearing the same proportion to the temple, which that belt does to the planet, this being one to three. I cannot accord with the previous opinion of the worthy Baronet, as to its being a sepulchral barrow, which has arisen in his ignorance of its original astronomic use, and its connexion with the other astronomic station and the gnomons. As to the burned bones, they may have been the remains of one of their astronomers, who, from his official connexion with the temple, was induced to wish, that his bones might be deposited within its sacred, area.

At the distance of 60 cubits from this station, and bearing west-south-west from the centre of the temple, stands its correspondent gnomon, four feet in height; and the astronomer, standing in the centre of this station, from thence observed, at the winter solstice, the setting sun descend exactly behind its apex. The correctness of these stations and correspondent gnomons, and their exact and purposed adaptation to astronomical observations were, by the aid of the quadrant, in my presence and at my request, very obligingly tested by the ingenious Rev. L. Tomlinson, of Salisbury, author of "Recreations in Astronomy, &c. &c." ably assisted by Mr. Browne, of Amesbury, son of the late lecturer on "History, &c." and the result verified my expectations. I must here [147] remark; that there are no defined stations for observing the rise of the sun at the winter solstice and his set at the summer solstice. For this purpose however, the same gnomons may have been used but the astronomic stations with this intent must have been within the temple. For this omission the following reasons are obvious—that the multiplication of appendages would have been less simple and have led to confusion; and that they would have been unsuitable to an important and geometrical use, to which the stations and gnomons in question were made subservient, which was this—that by striking diagonal lines to and from these gnomons and stations contrariwise placed it caused their intersection exactly at the centrical point of the proposed temple; and thus whilst its diameter was bounded in by the two transverse lines, these diagonals, and the main line drawn from the point of the rising sun, afforded the beautiful geometrical basis of a star of six rays; in certain relations to which (although not on them all) the parts of the temple and its several stones were exactly located.

One solitary stone, the last but not the least, remains yet to be described as an appendage to the temple; I allude to a large stone, lying imbedded in the ground, just within the vallum, and in the front. Sir R. C. Hoare thus speaks of it, "adjoining the agger, within the area, is a large prostrate stone, which has given rise to various opinions; the most prevailing of which is, that it was the stone, on which the victims were [148] slaughtered: but all these hypotheses are completely overturned by the circumstances of three sides of the stone bearing the same marks of tools, as the large uprights of the temple, and the projecting part of the base, where it rested in the ground, remaining in its rude state and unhewn; the fourth side being uppermost has been much defaced, and excavated by the continual effect of water on it for a long succession of years. This we proved by digging so completely under it as to be able to examine the under side of the stone, where we found fragments of stags' horns. This stone measures in height 21 feet 2 inches, of which 3 feet 6 inches being under ground, the height of the stone when upright was 17 feet 8 inches." Sir R. C. Hoare, in the previous extract, merely negatives it as a slaughtering, or outer sacrificial, stone, but refrains from proposing any other use. As to the fragments of stags' horns here found, this is no proof of sacrifice. We hear nothing of charcoal, or marks of burning—it only leads to the suspicion, that these semi-barbarians, yet scientific race of men, had, on that spot, with great gusto feasted on venison ('the feast of venison and the flow of soul'), and probably washed it down with the best of liquors, water from the neighbouring river.

The previous author. Smith, did find a use for this stone; he conjectured, that it was placed at the grand entrance of the temple to act as a screen, and to prevent the eyes of the vulgar from observing the mysterious rites, which were being practised within the [149] penetralia. He also states and as I think correctly, that this stone was placed so far deep in the ground, that the observer at the astronomic station could see the apex of the gnomon beyond surmounting its plane summit, and that' thus it offered no impediment to the observation of the heliacal rising.

With this opinion of Smith I do nearly, but not quite, agree. In my opinion the upright position was not to shut out the eye of the vulgar on the occasion of mysterious rites, but on the taking of the astronomic observations on solstitial days, so to cover the gnomonic stone, save as to its apex, as not to distract the attention of the astronomer at those moments by the passing by in its front of persons between him and the gnomonic stone. It thus screened him and those who did pass from mutual view, by their passing behind this stone.




Having described the several stones which are located externally of the temple, and explained as ably as in my power, the several uses to which they were applied, I must now proceed to elucidate the temple itself. We will then take the several portions of the temple, as they present themselves in the order of location. The temple at Stonehenge consists of two circles and two ovals, or rather ellipses, respectively concentric; we must then enter at once on the description of the outer circle. Here is much indeed to rivet the reader's attention, since I hesitate not to say, that this outer circle of Stonehenge is by far the most interesting and precious morceau of any Druidical remains in the universe. Of all the planets Saturn describes the most extreme orbit, and takes the protracted period of thirty years to revolve around his distant course, hence his orbit has ever mythologically been held to include all time and space. The stones of the outer circle of Stonehenge, which I must consider as a portion of the more modern and enlarged temple of Saturn, are 30 in number; this points out clearly its designation as the cycle of the years of Saturn, and it may be considered allegorically to point out the years of the life of man. Years succeed to years, life succeeds to life, and at every revolution of this planet, his return is held to [151] view a different race of man treading on and ruling this sublunary and bustling earthly globe; this circle of stones then may be aptly considered as a memento of mortality; but, further yet, they also represent the cycle of the days of the month; the Druids having divided the year into 12 months of 30 days each: The stones are represented as equidistant from each other, and consequently there were 30 intervening voids or interstices; and here let it be observed, that when the shades of night set in, and all nature is asleep, these alternating voids are veiled in darkness; and thus have we the cycles also of the nights of the months, as well as that of the days. I feel fully sanctioned in making this appropriation, since the very early ancients reckoned the passing hours from night to day, not from day to night; this is in accordance with the cosmogony of Moses, Genesis ch. 1. 4, 5, "And God divided the light from the darkness, and God called the light day, and the darkness he called night; and the evening and the morning were the first day;" and the lingering traces of this primaeval custom yet remain amongst us, in the familiar colloquial expressions, of 'Se'nnight,' and 'Fortnight,' used to denote the periods respectively of one, or two, weeks. Let it be also further noted, that this outer circle of 30 stones is connected and banded together by a corona or crest of 30 stones or imposts, lying superincumbent on their tops in one continuous circle; here then we have pointed out to us in the sexagenary cycle the emblem of man, who, when arrived at threescore years falls [152] into the sear and yellow leaf and is ripe for the scythe of time; and here too have we a memento of eternity: thus does age succeed to age; and the efflux of time will revolve in continuous rounds till time itself shall be no more, and like the baseless fabric of a vision, leave not a wreck behind. But further, this even and continuous circle of stones is yet designed to serve another and curious purpose; it is evidently designed in conjunction with a portion of the temple (to be described presently), to shew the inclination of the ecliptic as compared with the equator. I have just spoken of this even and continuous circle of stones, and this leads me to notice their mechanical construction; and here I feel, that the ingenuity of the best architect would have failed in devising a more ingenious, or scientific plan to hold together, or give additional beauty to, this outer circle of Stonehenge, on the uprights of which ranged the cornice or architrave of thirty stones, forming one even and continuous corona. These stones are about ten feet in length and two in thickness, so that the circle of uprights and imposts stood about 16 feet in height. The outer side of the uprights is usually more rough and misshapen, but the inner side is more smooth, and thus betrays the use of the tool; in fact from the evenness of their ends, and their reduction to the parallelogram, much substance must in their working have been struck off from them. The interval between every two was about half the height of the upright; the soffit, or lower side of the impost, was evenly worked, the outward line was humoured, so as [153] to assist in the continued curvature of the circle; the inner side was straight, so that on the inside this continued architrave or corona presented a polygon of thirty sides; and thus, as every two imposts met in the centre of each upright, so was the broader and deeper part of each impost brought over the interval between the uprights, to the increase of the strength of the whole and to its added beauty, by the superior depth of shade. On the top of each upright were two tenons and on the lower side of each impost were two mortises in correspondence with those tenons. The superincumbent imposts were thus let down on the uprights, on the centre of the tops of which they met each other; they were then dovetailed by a central vertical ridge at one end of each, made to fit into a corresponding groove down the end of the adjoining impost. This beautiful arrangement may be well observed by a view of two of the three imposts as yet remaining in the front of the temple; they are now time worn, and their edges become obtuse, but when fresh and perfect the adaptation must have well answered its designed end.

Saturn has supplied to the Greeks and Romans the source of a beautiful personification; they have represented him as Time, and furnished him with the apt emblems of a scythe, and of a convoluted serpent with its tail in its mouth; thus with his scythe is he considered to cut down in endless succession every ripened race of man; and as the serpent is annually renewed by the cast of its skin, so is every falling race of man held to be renewed by a young and succeeding progeny; from hence [154] arose the fiction, that Saturn devoured his own children, and hence also is the continuous cirque of imposts at Stonehenge an apt representation of this well imagined emblem.

Having explained the many wonderful combinations and beautiful metaphorical allusions contained in the outer circle of Stonehenge, which exhibits the characteristics both of the temple of the Sun and of Saturn, I must now move on, and proceed to the explanation of the inward or second circle. This then consists of 40 stones; here have we no astronomical cycle, but we have a numerical cycle, we have the sacred and ever-recurring mystic four, ten times repeated. This circle then, I cannot recognise as any portion of the enlarged temple of Saturn, but it must have been the outer or prophylactic circle of the original temple of the Sun, located on that spot from a still earlier period, and coeval with the original temples of the Sun and the Moon at Abury. This circle is involved within the outer one, but strictly cannot be said to be concentric, since to the north-east it approaches nearer to the outer circle than it does to the south-west, and therefore it is manifest that the two circles were struck from different centres; the reason of which, on a personal and critical examination of the temple, appears to be, thus judiciously to fill up the greater void to the south-west, caused by the yet more inward portion of the temple being protruded to the north-east. It is remarkable that this deviation from the concentricity of the two circles is not made to appear in the ichnographical plan of any writer on [155] Stonehenge. It is also unnoticed in the usually accurate work of Sir R. C. Hoare, who indeed states that the distance from the outer circle to this inner one is eight feet three inches. This is correct as to the part where he took his admeasurement; but in advance to the south-west it widens, and at that point the distance is increased at least two feet. The stones composing this circle vary in height from four to six feet, and differ much in shape, some being more pyramidal, others more slab-like.

I regret much that writers vary in opinion as to the exact number of stones which originally composed this circle About eight or nine of them only are remaining in situ and the fragments of some few are prostrate and out of position. Jones supposes them to have been 30; Stukeley holds them to have been 40; Wood makes them to have been 23; Smith regards them to have been 30, and Sir R. C. Hoare affixes their original number at 40. If those remaining had been placed at regular intervals we should then have had a sure datum to have guided us as to their full number, but it evidently appears that they were placed in a closer juxtaposition at the north-east and south-west sides of the temple; but the reason of this does remain, and probably ever will remain, to be discovered. On the fullest consideration which I can give to the subject, I cannot but agree with Stukeley and Sir R. C. Hoare that the number was 40. This number is referable to no astronomical cycle, it is a numerical one alone, and here two or three remarkable facts present themselves; the stones of this inner and [156] smaller circle are granite, and thus are assimilated in substance with the stones of the inner ellipse, and it is thus shewn that it was the outer and prophylactic circle surrounding the original temple of the Sun, prior to its enlargement as the conjoint temple of Saturn and the Sun. The number of 40 stones embraces again four decades, or the mystic number of four ten times repeated, and this special characteristic shews it to have been more particularly a portion of the original temple of the Sun, of which it was the outer circle.

The Druids habitually surrounded the temple of the Sun with a numerical and prophylactic circle, but never originally encircled the latter with an astronomic circle; but as this anomaly does occur in the instance before us, it proves almost to demonstration that the smaller stones, the second and inner circle, and the inner ellipse formed unitedly the original temple of the Sun, and that the larger stones were the additamentum to form the temple also of Saturn.

We arrive now at a peculiarly interesting and grand portion of the temple, and from a review of which I shall deduce another strong corroborative inference that this is more especially the temple of Saturn.

Involved within the inner circle is an ellipse or oval, formed by compages of large stones, consisting in each instance of three, that is, of two upright stones and an impost, or cross stone, placed on their summits. Stukeley first happily gave the appellative of trilithon to each of these detached compages of stones. This ellipse encloses within it the recumbent stone of astronomic observation, [157] commonly but erroneously called the altar-stone, but is advanced with regard to the circles towards the north-east, since, while to the south-west it progresses ten feet within the inner circle, the arc of its curve just touches on but does not intersect the arc of the inner circle. On its curve were placed certainly five, but as I contend seven, trilithons; and I will here remark that I agree with Stukeley that the area enclosed within the trilithons was the most sacred part of the temple, the sanctum sanctorum, correspondent to the Holy of Holies in the temple of Solomon.

Inigo Jones preposterously endeavoured to prove that Stonehenge was a Roman temple dedicated to the god Cœlus or Cζlum. In subservience to this hypothesis he makes these trilithons to be six in number, and twisting them out of their position he so locates them, as to enable himself to prove that the inner portion of the temple was a hexagon, raised on the base lines of six equilateral triangles! Dr. Stukeley ably and decidedly refutes this hypothesis, and a single glance at the temple itself will at once demonstrate its absurdity. Stukeley, Wood, and Sir R. C. Hoare consider these compages of stones, or trilithons, to have been five, but Smith and King hold that there were seven in number, and from repeated close and personal examinations of the temple, I am decidedly of opinion that seven is the correct number. With we alone the denomination of an ellipse is erroneous, as they would give but the portion of an ellipse, whilst the number seven yields a full and complete one; [158] and draws after it very weighty arguments in proof of its correctness thus equalizing the number of the planets; and we may rationally conclude that to each of these one of those trilithons was dedicated.

Smith boldly takes on himself to appropriate to each planet its peculiar trilithon, but thus far I will not venture, I will only say that I think he may be right so far as regards his allotment to Saturn and to the Moon. Stukeley gives an elaborate geometrical plan of this venerable temple. It is ingenious but as I think so unnecessarily complicated as to destroy the probability of its truth. I have before devised that a right line passing up the centre of the intended temple crossed at its extreme points by two transverse lines touching upon the circumference of the fosse, with diagonal lines from their several extremities would give such a star with six rays as would serve for a guide by which to appropriate and fix each part in detail, whether of the circles or ellipses.

The five trilithons described by Stukeley and Sir R. C. Hoare must, when the temple was in a perfect state, have made a most noble appearance since they all proudly raised themselves to the sight of the approaching spectator in every direction^ as surmounting in an inclined position, from north-east to south-west, the encircling architrave of the outer circle; I say, in an inclined position, from the circumstance that as you advance up the temple they progressively increase in altitude; thus the two opposite trilithons which [159] are nearest to the north-west or grand entrance, well 19 feet in height, the two next opposite trilithon correspond in the height of 20 feet 3 inches, and the trilithon at the back of the stone of astronomic observation or as erringly called the Altar-stone, raised its ascent to the astonishing height of 25 feet. Of the trilithons first mentioned, the one to the left is yet standing in a perfect state. Of the one to the right, one upright is standing, the other prostrate and broken into three pieces. Of the next pair of trilithons the one to the left is standing and in beautiful preservation. This compages of stone cannot be sufficiently admired, for its evenness of surface and the sharpness of its angles: the opposite trilithon, its partner, after having sustained the shock of ages and the war of time, bowed its head and fell prostrate backwards against the outer circle in the year 1797. The uprights and impost lie unbroken, save at the angles by the barbarous hands of foolish man. Would that I could see this trilithon raised and replaced in its former station; it might be done with ease, and would-be a glorious work. The fifth of these trilithons is behind the stone of astronomic observation, most erringly called the Altar-stone. Of this trilithon, one upright is prostrate; in its fall it slid backward and when it reached the underlying astronomic stone, it severed in two by its weight and the severe concussion; the other upright is in a leaning position, it is apparently rather than really supported by a slender stone, one of [160] the inner ellipse which stands underneath it. Its state of peril, such that we may say of it

"Jamjamqiie lapeora cadpntiqae Imminet assimilis,"

raises an involuntary shudder in the beholder. My readers will now ask me. Where are the sixth and seventh trilithons of which you spake? you have as yet described only five. My answer is, that the five trilithons described by Stukeley, Wood, Sir R. C. Hoare, and, as above by myself, do not complete an ellipse, they are only a portion of one, and that the sixth and seventh trilithons are wanting to make up the void; and that there were such I am convinced from this reason, that, on the entrance from the north-east, there lies within the inner circle an impost, having on its more evenly worked side two mortises. This impost is of the same quality as all the other smaller stones, it is of granite and is too short to have been an impost of the outer circle, as of no two uprights would it have reached from stone to stone. Sir R. C. Hoare thus speaks of it as if it were connected with the inner circle. In describing the inner circle, he says "No. 2 might appear to have belonged to this circle, and to have been the impost of a small trilithon. Might there not have been another in the vacant space on the opposite side to correspond with it?" Undoubtedly there was, nor would the plan have been complete without it; the ellipse with these two trilithons would then be perfect, and would not intersect, but gently touch on, the inner curve of the inner or second circle; and thus are [161] we presented with the cycle of the planets, as well as with the cycle of the days of the week. These two small trilithons differ in substance as well as in height and size from the others; they were of granite, and when standing could not have been above half the height of the two nearest neighbouring trilithons, and consequently the imposts on their summits could not have surmounted and been seen over the corona of the outer circle; yet I was much gratified by this circumstance.

I had long suspected that there did exist a relation between the inclined line formed by the verging line of these trilithons and the level corona of the outer circle. In consequence! requested the Rev. L. Tomlinson (the ingenious astronomer before alluded to) to test this angle with his instruments, which, assisted by Mr. Brown of Amesbury, he immediately and obligingly did in my presence; he found by the application of his quadrant that an inclined line, drawn from the summit of the lofty trilithon behind the stone of astronomic observation down to the summit of these two small trilithons, presented the angle of 23 degrees, and proved, as I suspected, that these Druidical philosophers did thus intend to represent the obliquity of the ecliptic as compared with the equator; thus was the ingenuity, skill, and ability of these early astronomers amply demonstrated.

There remains yet the inner ellipse to describe: this is the innermost part of the original temple of the Sun, and consists of nineteen granite pillars, similar in sub- [162] stance to the second circle; they are somewhat of a pyramidical form, they stand within the large trilithons and as they advance they increase in relative height as they do. This number of stones formed the celebrated Metonic cycle, so named from Meton a Grecian astronomer, but well known and in use long before his time. It embraces the period of 19 years, a term of years at the conclusion of which the Moon is found occupying a position precisely the same as at the beginning. It was in great estimation with the Druids, and is almost ever found to be a component part of each of their temples. The cycle forms the basis of our Epact or Golden Number.

Only one stone is left for description; the stone which is in the inmost part of the temple. It has been called the Altar-stone, but most assuredly it is the stone or station of astronomical observation. Sir R. C. Hoare states it to be 15 feet in length, but Cooke says that its length is 16 feet, its breadth 4 feet, and its thickness 4 inches. Now as to the use of this supposed stone. Smith speaks thus of it: "The last stone to be taken notice of is the altar: on this altar the Druids offered up the blood only of their sacrifices." Notwithstanding they have been charged by all authors with offering up human victims, I must beg here to differ from them for the following reason, which is, that this altar will not bear the fire; I tried a piece of fragment of it in a crucible, it soon changed its bluish to an ash colour, and in a stronger fire, was reduced to [163] powder—very unfit surely for burnt offerings! Townson in his tracts on Natural History and Physiology, when giving a mineralogical account of the stones of Stonehenge, also says of this stone, "The great slab, or altar is a kind of grey Cos, a very fine-grained calcareous sandstone; it makes a brisk effervescence in nitrous acid, but dissolves not in it; strikes fire with steel, and contains some minute spangles of silver mica. Had it been an altar stone, abundance of charcoal and ashes, imperishable by time, would have been found, but no! it is imbedded in solid and pure chalk: it is clearly the station of astronomic observation; here any man of the moderate average height, taking his station on it on the propitious mom of the day of the summer solstice, would, fixing his eye on the gnomon in the distance, see the Sun rise behind its apex, and in the majesty of his might, gloriously proceed on his diurnal course, and unresistingly wing his way around the azure vault of the heavens.

Thus have I completed my analysis of the Druidical Temples of this interesting county of Wilts—with what success it is not for me to say, but I must leave this question to the better and more impartial judgment of my readers. Fortunate shall I be if the public should consider me as the Œdipus who has expounded these interesting but hitherto incomprehensible remains of antiquity.




I MUST now give some account of the substance of the stones composing this most venerable temple; all the larger stones, those of the outer circle and their, imposts, and the stones of the five large trilithons, the gnomon, and three stones lying around the fosse, are of a silicious sandstone, stated by Stukeley to be provincially called sarsen stone, which he pronounces to be a Phoenician word, signifying a rock. These, as Townson says in his Tracts and Observations on Natural History and Physiology, "are of a fine-grained compact sandstone, which makes no effervescence with acids. As far as the lichens which cover the pillars will permit me to judge, some are of a yellowish colour, others white." Those of a yellowish colour are apparently tinged with the oxyde of iron. Of the stones of the second circle and inner ellipse, Townson thus speaks. "The second row of pillars and the six which are innermost are a kind of fine-grained Grόnstein where the black hornblend is the only constituent which has a crystalline form or spacious appearance. This in some pillars is but sparingly scattered, in others it forms a principal [165] part: the mass or ground has a finely speckled green and white appearance; an uneven fracture makes a slight effervescence with acids and may be scratched with a knife. This stone strikes fire with difficulty with steel.'"

But in this row there are two pillars of quite a different nature the one is a true and well characterised blackish silicious schistus, the Eliezel schiafer of Werner, the other he calls an argillaceous schistus. I was present, when my late friend, Sir R. C. Hoare, had a small specimen taken from every stone in the temple; these specimens were packed up in separate papers, which were numbered with reference to the plan in his work; and they were transmitted to London for the opinion of the late Mr. Sowerby, the mineralogist; the pieces of all the larger stones he defined to be of "a fine-grained species of silicious sandstone." "In the inner circle, (Sir R. C. H. proceeds to say) the inner oval, and the altar, we find a material difference in the nature of the stones; 26 (specially enumerated by Sir R. C. H.) are an aggregate of quartz, feldspar, chlorite, and hornblend; one is a silicious schist; three others are horn-stone with small specks of feldspar and pyrites. The Altar-stone is a micaceous fine-grained sandstone, and measures above fifteen feet in length." This little depredation committed by the scientific antiquary was very pardonable, but I must here take the opportunity of deeply deploring and deprecating the continual injury which is done to these valuable and venerable [166] remains by the breaking of the stones for specimens which are borne off and then, with childish satisfaction, thrown aside for ever. It is a practice pursued only, as I hope by the most senseless and illiterate portion of mankind. It is characteristic of brutal ignorance. It is not only an injury to the private property of the worthy owner of this venerable temple, but it is an injustice to the nation at large, which has a deep interest in the preservation of these ancient remains, which have not their parallel in the world.

A few questions relative to the temple of Saturn, the modern Stonehenge, remain for discussion.

These are, whether it was originally seated on a plain, or in the recess of a forest? whether the stones are natural, or any of them factitious, and if not factitious, from whence they were brought? whether they were erected by men of modern stature and strength, or by giants, and by what means they were erected? Most of these questions are of easy solution, but as the several opinions involved in them have been held, and are (strange to say) advocated, even at the present day, I must notice them all in order. Those who have erringly assigned Stonehenge and such other temples to Druidism and the Druids, have ever found themselves in this dilemma.

Caesar, and their other favourite authorities, represent the Druids as resorting to woods and groves, but contra, these temples are ever found in the most open and champaign countries. They therefore endeavour thus [167] evasively to cut the Gordian knot; they say, that in the woods and groves the temples are destroyed, and that on the plains and downs, the woods are rooted up and the temples suffered to remain. Proh pudor!—to such reasoners, what shall be said?

In all newly discovered countries, woods and plains alternately cover the face of the land, and this is owing to the diversity of soils; and when the tide of population has set in the alteration effected but partially changes the great features of nature. In these realms the forests and woods, the heaths, the wolds and the plains have ever been such in the main as they are now. Calcareous soils are the most ungenial for the natural growth of wood, and yet in this county, and the neighbouring ones of Dorset and Berks, do we find the stone temples and their accompanying tumuli seated more especially on the plains and downs of this description. The truth of my allegations is further evinced by reference to the Saxon language, from whence are derived our local appellatives. The word Hurst is significant of a wood, and from thence, in the purlieus of Windsor Forest, have we Hurst, Tilehurst and Sandhurst. In the New Forest also we meet with Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst, names long prior to the time of William the First, who by the early monkish writers, for the purpose of blackening his memory, was said to have destroyed many parishes and churches in order to make this forest; whereas he merely afforested, or made subject to the code of forest laws, a tract of country previously and [168] naturally woody throughout its whole extent. It was named the New Forest, only in contra-distinction to those which at that time were already existing. On the verge of the New Forest, and even within its bosom, are many extensive heaths, and these are studded with ancient tumuli.

To suppose that Salisbury Plains were formerly wooded, is to argue against natural probability. The soil is ungenial for timber, with the exception perhaps of the beech, which Caesar erringly states not to be a native of Britain; there is however no reason to suppose the beech to have been indigenous on our plains, or in fact, that the downs encircling the temple of Stonehenge were ever other than they now are, wide, open, and champaign. They were the inhabited portions of the country; and the thickets and wilds, the range of wild beasts, were to be found in the valleys alone. The question, however, whether the temple of Saturn, the modern Stonehenge, was seated on the plain, or within the recess of the forest, is thus at once set at rest by the consideration, that the surrounding tumuli are so placed as to be seen from the temple, and that if the experimentum crucis be resorted to, the calcareous subsoil will be ever found undisturbed, unbroken, and unpermeated by the roots of trees. Satisfactory as is the result of the previous question, that of the enquiry whether the stones of the temple are natural or factitious will be equally so. Tliere are five species of stone, but of these the only ones which could possibly [169] draw forth a doubt are the larger stones,—those of the outer circle and its imposts, the trilithons and their imposts, the gnomic stones and the prostrate stone in front of the temple. These are all of the same nature, a pure, fine-grained, compact sandstone, a granulated quartz; although two or three of the uprights are of a reddish hue, and appear to me to be tinged in their substance by an impregnation of ochre. The great Camden in his "Britannia," and Martin in his "Natural History of England," have advocated the opinion, that these stones are factitious, but when I aver that I can exhibit thin veins of quartz, which pass in flakes throughout the substance of the stone; this is decisive of the question. When however I am asked from whence are these stones brought? I cannot offer so ready a solution. There has ever existed a notion that these large sandstones were derived from the North Wiltshire Downs, and were some of the boulder or sarsen stones, as Stukeley calls them, so profusely scattered over the face of that country. I much doubt the correctness of this supposition. Some of the stones at Abury are coarse grained, and of a loose texture, with foreign substances embedded in them; silicious fragments, and even those of bone! Such stones are very unlike those of Stonehenge. Again, the boulders which are called sarsens, are by no means similar in substance, as, when broken they divide into sharp angular pieces, and are of a nature equally hard throughout, but the sandstones of Stonehenge are more subject to fracture into lumpish [170] pieces, and are internally of so soft a texture that they may be crumbled by the fingers.

Many of the stones on the North Wiltshire Downs are only partially exposed to view, and others are totally embedded in the land; but none can be found at as equal to the larger stones of this temple in magnitude and which were still much larger before they were reduced, as they are now, to the parallelogram in shape; and this, in order to lessen their weight in carriage, was of course effected on the spot from whence they were removed. Geology affords many riddles; its votaries hold that the boulder stones of North Wilts are dislocations from a continued stratum yet they cannot point out that stratum, nor say why similar boulders do not pervade the downs of South Wilts; but in my opinion the sandstones of Stonehenge never were detached boulders, but were quarried in the mass from a continuous stratum, and from whence no man can tell.

It assimilates not with the stone quarried at Fovant, Tisbury, Chilmark, Bath, or any other place, known to me, from whence that substance is procured. A like ignorance attends us as to the locus ΰ quo, the precise site from whence any of the other four species of stone is derived. I have heard many vague assertions hazarded on this subject, but I should like to meet the geologist who would bring to me in his hand the correspondent exemplar of any one of these five species of stone, and say from whence he had procured it.

There has been afloat a tradition that the stones of [171] this temple were first brought by giants out of Africa. and set up on the Curragh or Plain of Kildare in Ireland, and from thence transported by order of Aurelius Ambrosius, king of the Britons, through the agency of Merlin, the prophet and magician, to the plains of this country. Such a legend is given by Giraldus Cambrensis, and Jeffrey of Monmouth, from the former may I be allowed to make this extract: "Fuit antiquis temporibus in Hibernia lapidum congeries admiranda, quζ et Chorea Oigantum vocata fuit, quia Gigantes cam ab ultimis Afiricζ partibus in Hibemiam attulerant, et in Kildariensi planicie, tarn ingenii quam virium opere, mirabiliter erexerant. Juxta Britannicam historiam lapides istos Rex Britonum Aurelius Ambrosius, divine Merlini diligentie, de Hiberniζ in Britannium advehi procuravit, &c. &c.'' Certain it is that this country was first populated from the East, and it is very possible that the most early navigators may have imported from the Egyptian, or other quarries, on the coast of Africa these stones, whose origin (as to the place from whence they were derived) has ever been, and probably ever will be, a subject of mystery. If this were so, it is no wonder that this venerable temple was erected with a skill, which evinces intimate knowledge with the sciences of astronomy, geometry, and mechanics. With the stones might also have come in, from those remote and highly civilized countries, those who were skilled in the arts and sciences. As to the question whether the temple of Saturn, the modern Stonehenge, was erected by [172] men of the modern stature, or by giants, it appears to me to be a problem of such very slender doubt, that I should be altogether disposed to omit its discussion, were not the agency of giants advocated even in the present enlightened days. I am constrained then to fight them, and I readily anticipate an easy victory. I know of no one solid argument for the supposition that Stonehenge was built by giants, and it seems to me that those that hold it are forgetful of the veritable maxim, equally true indeed both in the political and physical world, that "union is power." Jocosely admitting for the sake of argument, the services of giants called in to erect a similar structure, let us suppose the builders of such a weighty work to average twelve feet in height, and to be of proportionate strength and bulk, yet what would this avail? A few of them would suffice to surround an impost of the largest size, when prostrate on the ground. Awkwardly stooping to lift it up and poise it with their broad spreading hands, their cumbrous bulk with their sprawling arms and legs would impede each other; unitedly grasping this encircled stone, they would be neither sufficiently strong, nor high, to place it on its destined site, on the summit of an upright of a trilithon. They would fall tottering beneath its weight, and "great would be the fall thereof." Even the giants would need the aid of machinery, and, with that, men of modern size and strength would supersede the occasion of the employ of giants. No! were I destined to build a Stonehenge, [l73] I would have chosen bands of men, from twenty to thirty years of age, and m height from five feet six to that of five feet nine inches; since in such men may we expect to, meet with the maximum of activity and strength united. It is a well known fact that physical strength does not increase in an equal ratio with the increase of height, whilst the active powers experience even a greater, proportionate diminution.

There is, however, no ground to suppose that the stature of man has decreased in the process of ages. and whenever giants are spoken of in the scriptures we may judge that they are referred to as exceptions from the ordinary height of men.

The wisdom of Divine Providence is beautifully manifest in all the adaptations of man, when considered in reference to the other parts, of the creation. To man alone is assigned the gifts of reason and an upright posture, he surveys the heavens and calleth all the stars by their names!

"Os homini sublime dedit, coelnmque taeri
Jossit, et erectos ad sidera tollere yaltus."—Ovid.

He walks fearlessly and in the power of his might he ruleth the animal creation.

His stature is the just medium. Had he been made, greater or less, higher or lower than he is, such variation of bulk and stature would have operated powerfully to this disadvantage; and because now and then human bones have been exhumed of an extraordinary size and length, there is no occasion to infer from a few casual [l74] and solitary examples, that in ancient days the race of man was gigantic. The temple of Saturn or Stonehenge is a pigmζan structure in comparison of the pyramids of Egypt, and if it be argued that the one was built by giants. I will then assert that the other must have been built by gigantic giants! Here I must remind my readers, that, "union is power," and that the power of numbers of men of modern stature, with the aid of machinery, would at the present day be equal to the accomplishment of these wonderful works. But further let us survey the stature of those surrounding human beings who at that day did tread the land, and were not improbably engaged in those very works. I have seen many skeletons exhumed from the tumuli of the plain around Stonehenge. I have meted their limbs with those of the living race, and I say decidedly that they were men but of the present common standard—of height in correspondence with my own. Again, it is a well-known fact that the mummies, from the catacombs of Egypt, are, if anything, smaller and shorter than the race of man with us, and yet by these were the gigantic pyramids, probably, raised aloft. This is truly a finishing argument, and with it I take leave of the subject. Having conquered the giants, the last point for discussion is by what means these stones were conveyed to the site on which they stand, and how they were raised? To these questions no decisive answer ever has been, or will be, given. That the stones of this temple could not be brought [175] there and raised without the aid of machinery is self evident. That the ancients did possess great knowledge in the science of mechanics is manifest from the works which they have left behind them. The Egyptians were in their day the most scientific people on earthy and through them the arts and sciences became diffused over the then known world.

If these stones were brought from Africa, and artificers accompanied them from thence, the wonder of their erection then ceases; as there can in my opinion be no doubt that the ancients well understood the principles of the moving powers, and were no strangers to the laws of the lever, the pulley, the wedge, &c., and I suspect that they were more intimately acquainted with the application of these powers than we allow. The science of mechanics may in the present day be more generally understood, but I question if this country ever had or now has a man whose ability for practical science can be held to surpass that of Archimedes. These stones may have been conveyed by carriages of a scientific construction equal with those of the present day. The ancient languages in their vocabularies prove that chains and ropes had an early existence; and indeed I see no difficulty whatever in the rearing of such a structure even by mechanic powers inferior perhaps to those which they had. Were Stonehenge now perfect and anon thrown utterly prostrate, I am convinced that every stone might be replaced in the course of a few months; and would that I could see the application of the [176] mechanical powers to the again raising the trilithon which fell in the year 1797! It would indeed be a glorious work! When we examine into the mechanical structure of Stonehenge, and observe the sedulous care to secure the equipoise of the upright stones, by the bevelling of each upwards, so as to throw the greater weight and circumference into the base,—when we look at the tendons and mortises for the steadfast connexion of those uprights with their imposts,—and when we notice the manner in which those imposts are, at their ends, dove-tailed into each other by vertical ridges, and correspondent channels to receive those ridges, then we cannot but ponder and admire—then we cannot but acknowledge the mechanical skill evinced in the structure—we cannot but recognize the presence of a master mind—we cannot but adjudge, in despite of the vanity and contempt of the moderns, that these ancients, these supposed barbarians, were equally as capable as they of erecting a Stonehenge.




The description of the series of temples which formed this magnificent planetarium, having been completed, the time is now arrived for me to discuss that ultimate end, yet primary intent, which our remote predecessors held in view, when, on the face of the land, they formed so vast a stationary orrery, constructed on a meridional line of 32 miles in length. The conception was as sublime, as its execution was wonderful! It cannot be denied that I have throughout this dissertation given ample proofs that these Sabaeans, these worshippers of the planets, were embued with an intimate knowledge of the science of Astronomy. We have analysed the stone temples of Abury and Stonehenge, and have proved, that in the details of these, they, by the number of correspondent stones, intimated their reference to the various cycles of the ancients. In the temple of the Sun at Abury, reference is thus made to the cycle of the days of the month, to that of the months of the year, and to the year itself; and in a similar manner in the temple of the Moon at Abury, reference is made to the cycle of the days of the month, to that of the months in the year, and to that of the seasons, or early tripartite [178] division of the year. In the temple within the head of the serpent, at the same place, I also proved, that reference is made to the famous Metonic or lunar cycle. Again, at Stonehenge I have also proved that reference is made to the cycle of the years of Saturn, to that of the days of the month, to that of the seven planets, and also of the days of the week. I must now take the key in my hand, and endeavour to unlock the sacred chest, in which the grand arcanum of our heathen ancestors has been for ages reposited,—to exhibit the light which will dispel those mists, with which the temples of Abury and Stonehenge have been for centuries and centuries enveloped,—to unfold the mystery, why this series of temples, representatives of the several planets, are so curiously located on a lengthened meridional line, and thus finally to explain the origin and intent of these sacred temples. The most early ancients held, that, at the close of an immense period of years, all the heavenly bodies would at a critical period simultaneously arrive at the same places, from whence they originally set out when the impulse of locomotion was imparted to them, and that then this world would be brought to a close and a new world would emerge into existence. This doctrine was called the Platonic Cycle; not that Plato was the inventor of it, for it was known before his time, but that it was embraced within his opinions, and from hence it took his name, since he was esteemed the Solomon of the Ancient Heathen. The Platonic Cycle was also called the "magnus annus," [l79] the great year; it was, in fact, the cycle of the years of the world, and, when we have seen, that the founders were well acquainted with all the minor cycles, and that in the details of these temples, they have demonstrated the cycle of the days of the month—the months of the year—the ancient seasons—the annual lunations—the years of Saturn—the planets—and the zodiacal signs can we for a moment suppose that their knowledge stopped here? Can we believe, that acquainted as they were with all these cycles, they were ignorant alone of the great year? the Platonic cycle? the cycle of the years of the world? the cycle of cycles?—No! to suppose this for a moment would be flagrantly absurd. The Platonic cycle is synonymous with what is astronomically denominated the precession of the equinoxes, which is thus described by Higgins in his "Celtic Druids," p. 149. "It was well known to ancient astronomers, that a certain slow periodical revolution of the pole of the equator took place round the pole of the ecliptic, and that this periodical revolution was completed in 25,920 years. The fact was known to the Ancients, and has been demonstrated by modern astronomers, by means both of theory and observation, so that it is not at this time a matter of doubt. In consequence of this circular motion of the earth, the equinox, the solstice, or any other fixed moment of the year, takes place a little previously to the time it took place in the year preceding, on which account this effect is called the precession of the equinoxes.


"In viewing the Sun in the belt of the zodiac compared with any other fixed star at the time of the equinox, solstice, &c. he falls every year a little short of the place he occupied in the preceding year, and keeps falling short of it each year an additional equal space, till he gets entirely refund the heavens to the same point again. Now as the circle of the heavens is divided into 360 parts or degrees, it is evident that it will take 72 years for the equinox to recede, or precede, for one degree, and 2160 for one sign, or thirty degrees, and 25,920 for the whole twelve signs of the zodiac, or 360 degrees."

It is most certain that the ancients observed this precession, or more properly speaking recession, of equinoxes, and in consequence considered that, in the progress of an immense period of time all the heavenly bodies would revert to their original stations, and from thence a new world would begin. Cicero, in his treatise "De Natura Deorum,'' thus alludes to this celebrated epoch, "Tum efficitur, cum Solis et Lunse et quinque Errantium ad eandem inter se comparationem, confectis omnium spatiis, est facta conversio."

That this astronomical phenomenon was regarded by the ancients to affect both the fixed heavenly bodies, and the planets, may be learned from Macrobius, who in speaking of the Platonic cycle, or mundane year, thus says, "Mundani ergo anni finis est, cum stellae omnes omniaque sidera, quae planes habentur d certo loco ad eundem locum ita remeaverint, ut ne una quidem cceli Stella in allo loco sit quam, in quo fuit cum aliae omnes [181] ex eo loco motae sunt ad quern reversae; anno suo finem dederunt, ita ut lumina quoque cum erraticis quinque in usdemlocisetpartibus sint, in quibus incipiente mundane anno fiienmt." The meaning of this and the previously quoted passage is this, "that at the close of the mundane year, all the planets and the fixed stars which the firmament contains would occupy the self same places, which they did when that mundane year took its origin." Macrobius affixes its period at 15,000 years. Various terms, even to that of 49,000 years, have been assigned by other ancient authors, as the term of the existence of the Platonic cycle or magnus annus, the cycle of the years of the world; different opinions on which may be found in the writings of Joseph Scaliger, and in the "Geniales Dies," of Alexander ab Alexandre.

Modern astronomers have also made their calculations on the precession, or more strictly the recession, of the equinoxes; and Cassini, Tycho Brahe, and Ricciolus, respectively assign the several periods of 24,800, 25,816, and 25,920 years, as the term to be passed, before which the several heavenly bodies shall resume those stations, which they occupied at the commencement of the world. In their astronomical diagrams the ancients were wont to locate the planets on a right line, doubtlessly conceiving that they were so placed by their Creator at the beginning of the world, and that from thence they received their starting impulse, or first movement.


My opinion that this majestic and stationary orrery (if I may thus express myself) was denotive of the cycle of cycles, the Platonic year, is borne out as to its correctness by reference to the temple of Saturn, the modern Stonehenge. Here is in the very centre of the temple an area beautifully assimilating the form of an egg and caused by the elliptical location of the seven trilithons, the representatives of the planets. This I regard, with Smith, as denotive of the celebrated Ovum Mundi of Universal Nature. Smith, however, but partially discovered the enigma thus couched beneath the geometrical lines of the temple; he viewed Stonehenge as an insulated structure, he knew nought of this magnificent planetarium, he recognized not the venerable works of Stonehenge, as the temple of Saturn; but, when thus considered, how does the mind expand! how wonderfully does the truth unfold I Here, within the only one in this series of temples in which it could with propriety be placed, in the inmost recess of the temple of Saturn, whose orbit was held to include all time and space—in that inmost recess, which was typically considered as the womb of time, and surrounded by the representatives of the planets, was thus mystically placed the Mundane Egg, the germ of Universal Nature—receiving during the term of this cycle of cycles, (that of the years of the world,) the daily influence of the rays of the sun, until the lengthened period of incubation being passed—even that of thousands and thousands of years—the old world [183] shall cease to exists the egg shall burst asunder, and the new world shall spring into being! A more beautiful allegory, a more expressive emblem was never devised by the mind of man, or practically illustrated by the operation of his hand.




Having now exhibited to my readers the whole of my hypothesis as to the origin of Abury, Stonehenge, and the other religious temples which render this county so highly distinguished among its fellows;—having proved that this is not a vain theory supported alone by high swelling words, and unproved assertions, but that it is based and promulgated on the authority of a strong and continuous series of well established facts, it is now for me to collect and embody those facts; to bring them forward link by link, and to connect them into one entire and efficient chain. There will arise, I am perfectly well aware, one forcible obstacle to the establishment of the theory, and that is, the strong prejudice of the public mind against the possibility of the discovery of the origin of Stonehenge and Abury. To decide that such a discovery cannot be made, and to refuse the examination of a theory which is alleged to [185] rest on the basis of approved facts is equally irrational and unjust. It may be asserted also that my theory is astronomical, and that our heathen ancestry knew nothing of astronomy. Why not? This is to resort to the petitio principii, and is evasive of the question at once, by a barbarous and logical negative. Astronomy was the earliest of all sciences, and was the first which brought into exercise the faculties of the mind of man. It probably originated in Chaldaea, and travelled from thence in succession to Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and from thence descended to modern times and spread itself throughout all nations. The sciences travel faster than the arts, they may be communicated orally to the many at once, but the knowledge of the arts is transferable alone from man to man. It was, I doubt not, during the most palmy days of Egypt, that commercial intercourse subsisted between the neighbouring shores of Phoenice, and the inhabitants of this isle. The Phoenicians may have introduced the knowledge of astronomy, or still prior settlers may have brought it with them, through the continent ; or that science may have here sprung up amongst them after their arrival, by the habitual observance of the heavens: be this as it may, it was the progenitor of all sciences, and earlier than any other was raised to eminence. According to Diodorus Siculus, the Chaldeans were acquainted with the periods of all the planets. We have seen that in the erection of the temples of Abury and Stonehenge, their founders by making the number of [186] stones, in their different details, referable to the various cycles, bore astronomy in all their thoughts; and why then should we for a moment doubt of their knowledge of the planetary bodies? and that they did know them, the existence of this superb planetarium (the evidences of which are before our eyes) proves to an absolute demonstration. To proceed with the synoptical view of the evidences adduced in proof of the theory. If the astronomical diagram in this instance so curiously pourtrayed on the face of the land as the cycle of cycles, or the Platonic cycle, does not accord with the present received system of astronomy, this in no wise militates against our theory, since our object is not to shew which is the true system, but to demonstrate that, which these early heathen delineated in this earthly portraiture, and which they thus have under their hands and seals, as it were, handed down, to us as the system of their faith, that in which they trusted and believed. In the various ancient systems of the universe, some gave precedence to the Sun and some to the Earth as the occupant of the centre. In this stationary orrery of the early heathen of our land, the Earth occupies this distinguished station, in which it follows the Egyptian system, which was espoused by Macrobius, Vitruvius, &c. and with this system perhaps it more accords than with any other, with the exception that it depicts the Moon as a satellite of the Sun, in which disposition it is unique.

The Earth, then, as the centre of the universe, is in [187] this terrestrial diagram adequately represented by Silbury Hill, a tumulus of earth, indeed, but not a sepulchral tumulus, neither is there reason to believe that it was a religious temple.

The researches of the antiquary have failed to discover any indicia that it was in use for either of these purposes. I not only assert that Silbury Hill was not a religious temple; but I claim that negative fact as a corroborative proof of my correct appropriation of it as the representative of the Earth; and on this strong ground, that though the Earth may be a planet to the inhabitants of any other heavenly body, to the Moon, reader, if you please, yet it could not be such to its own inhabitants, to whom, whether moving or not, it must be apparently stationary.

The circumstance that Silbury Hill does not develope itself as a religious temple, or sepulchral tumulus, leaves it admirably at my disposal as the representative of the Earth, the centre of this curious mundane system. I therefore closely connect this vast and interesting mound with the next portion of the system, the ancient works at Abury, of which Sir R. C. Hoare says, in his opinion, it formed a component part, but he frankly confesses that he knew not how; indeed, he asserts its purpose "to be beyond the power of conjecture," I think otherwise, and have proved its use, as thus appears: If I leave this representative of the Earth, and proceed on a direct northern course, within the distance of a mile, I arrive at two stone circular temples, sur- [188] rounded also by a circle of 100 stones, and the whole enclosed within a fosse; and when I enquire the name of this singular place, to my surprise and gratification, I learn that it is in the present day called Abury. Here then we have most obviously the slender corruption of Abiri, signifying in the Hebrew, "Potentes," or the "Mighty Ones," evidently allusive to these two temples as the representatives of the Sun and the Moon, the two chief deities in the Sabaean, or planetary, worship. I find these temples to be set in varied forms, and in their several details to be referable to various astronomical cycles. Thus in the temple of the Sun, I observe the cycle of the days of the month, the cycle of the months of the year, and a single stone in the centre to denote the entire year! Thus in the temple of the Moon, is again developed the cycle of the days of the month, the cycle of the months of the year, and the cycle of the very early tripartite division of the seasons. Am I asked, how I distinguish the temples of the l^un and Moon, which are here situate respectively north and south of each other? I will answer, by one decided characteristic. The southern temple is that of the Sun, since, at some distance to the south-east from it, is stationed a stone, evidently a gnomon, from its exact location to take the observation of the rise of the Sun over its apex at the winter solstice, in like manner as Stonehenge has a similar stone to the north-east for observing the rise of the Sun at the summer solstice. But let us move from hence, and proceed to the next [189] connecting link of the chain. What then have we here? What, indeed, but that link which most clearly connects the temples of the Sun and Moon with the Earth, or Silbury Hill.

Behold then, these temples, bounded by their circle of 100 stones, are located most singularly on the central portion of an immense curved serpent, whose bow is towards the south, and this serpent half surrounds the Earth, or Silbury Hill. In its full curvature it extends upwards of two miles, and its head and tail are sited respectively about half a mile due east and west from the Earth, or Silbury Hill. Here then, in this Serpent, I recognize the northern portion of the ecliptic, and I prove, by quotations from Macrobius and Euripides, that the ancients did pourtray the ecliptic under the similitude of a serpent. Thus then is proved the decided connexion between the temples at Abury, and Silbury Hill; in other words, in this compages of antiquities, we have the Sun, accompanied by the Moon as a satellite, traversing the northern portion of the sinuous ecliptic, which is depicted as ranging around the Earth, as the centre of the universe, denoted by Silbury Hill.

Thus is beautifully and synthetically formed one whole, which, if considered in its several insulated portions, whether of the temples, the serpent, or the hill, will mock the efforts of the wisest man on earth. In corroboration of this portion of the theory, we have, digressively, unfolded the history of the Caduceus of Mercury, in illustration of the emblematical portraiture [190] of the ecliptic through the semblance of the serpent. I suggest that Mercury, as the nearest planet to the Sun, was regarded as more especially his messenger, or the herald of the chief deity and master of the universe, and was supposed to bear on his official missions, as an ensign significant of his lord and master, a wand pointed with a ball, denoting the sun traversing his way around the ecliptic, the two portions of which are represented as entwining the sides of that wand. To the same illustrative purpose, I elucidate the or^in of the mythological fiction of the birth of Apollo and Diana in the Isle of Delos, and of the destruction by the former of the serpent Python, when he invaded their cradle. Apollo and Diana are here the twin luminaries of the Sun and Moon, which appeared to the Greeks from their shores to arise alternately, as it were, from the Isle of Delos, thus named, in reference to this beautiful fiction, from the Greek word δηλόω, to make manifest; since by the rising of the sun the shades of night are dispelled, and all things are made δηλα, or clear. The Serpent Python was the ecliptic, which the Sun or Apollo was alleged to overcome, when in the majesty of his strength he mounted thereon, and resistlessly pursued his onward course.

To return from this digression. The body of the Serpent, ranging to the right and left of the temple, is formed of two avenues of stones, composed of 200 in each avenue; and the head of the serpent is composed of 40 stones, enclosing a temple of 19 stones. This [191] temple again is astronomic, and is referable to the famous Metonic or lunar cycle, the basis of the golden number of our own calendar. In this temple it is not improbable that occasional worship was paid to the serpent, as the vivified path of the Sun. The verification of the Serpent, as the northern portion of the ecliptic, on which is seated the temple of the Sun, points out the identity of that temple, which is farther corroborated by the accompanying gnomon for taking the observation of the Sun at the winter solstice.

This hyemal arrangement, and the position of the Serpent, with its bow to the south, clearly unite in the demonstration, that the northern portion of the ecliptic is here designated.

The other temple exhibits the Moon as in this system the satellite of the Sun, and revolving around him as he revolves on the ecliptic designated by the Serpent.

I must now remark a very curious circumstance, which is, that as the details of the more sacred portions of this congeries of antiquities, the temples, are referable alone to astronomical cycles, so a wise and provident distinction is observed, by these sage worshippers of the planets, between the temples and their less important accessories, the cirque of 100 stones around the temples^ and the serpent himself. In the circle of 100 stones, we find no allusion to an astronomic cycle, but here we observe the reference to a numerical cycle, since 100 is the square of 10. Again, in the avenues composing the the body of the Serpent, we have the united number of [192] 400; here also is exhibited the cycle of the square of 10, four times repeated. A mystic allusion is also observable in this number four, which with the ancients was a very sacred number as it constituted the Tetragrammaton, or in plain language, was the number of the letters which, in all early tongues, the Hebrew, the Greek, and Roman, formed the word which denoted the Creator and Master of the universe. In this mystic ζnigma was thus couched the title of the Sun, whose temple, as his representative, was the great and leading portion of this compages of antiquities. Thus, whilst in the sacred temples, allusion is made alone to astronomical cycles, so in the accessories, reference to numerical cycles pervades the whole. Here is no delusion of the fancy, but facts founded on sound and proved data. We discover that the founders of this grand orrery were as attentive to the principles of geometry, as they were to those of astronomy. This is apparent in the location of the Earth or Silbury Hill. Thus, if a meridional line be drawn from the centre of the cirque surrounding the two temples, and another right line be drawn athwart this, from the head to the tail of the Serpent, the intersecting point of the lines will meet at the centre of the base of this vast mound. Thus the Earth, or Silbury Hill, is seated centrically on a cross, whose several rays diverge to the four cardinal points.

Taking my departure from the holy temple of the Sun and Moon, I proceed three miles to the south of the Earthy or centre of the universe, as represented by Sil- [193] bury Hill, and there, on the brow of a promontory, impending over the Pewsey vale, I meet with the temple of Mercury. This is a tumulus of earth, resembling the peculiar kind of barrow, called by Sir R. C. Hoare, "the long barrow." The peculiarities of this tumulus attracted his attention. He deemed it to be a place of religious worship, and paralleled it with the Hill Altar of Scripture. It stands, as I observed, three miles from the Earth, or Silbury Hill, and is seated on the meridional line from thence. A narrow gorge, passing from the vale to the upland down, separates this promontory, called Walker's Hill, from another at a short distance known by the name of Knap Hill. Here there are two tumuli surrounded by a fosse; it was subservient to the purpose of a gnomon for the taking observations of the planet from thence. It is a remarkable circumstance, that by the Egyptians Mercury was known both by the appellatives of Thoth, and Kneph. The corrupted transition from Kneph to Knap is obvious and easy; and the name itself seems to point at the site of the near adjoining temple. I now leave that temple, and repassing the Earth, or Silbury Hill, and the temples of the Sun and Moon, the "mighty ones,'' at Abiri (the modern Abury), I traverse four miles to the north of the Earth, and there, still on the meridional line, I meet with a temple consisting of a single circle of stones, with another stone at some distance, placed west from the temple. This temple, even in the days of Stukeley was so dilapidated, that the original number [194] of stones could not be recognized. I cannot omit to mention a remarkable circumstance attendant on this temple, which is this, that its gnomon is to the west to the peculiar point of the heavens most opportune for taking observations of this fair planet as the evening star. Another most important observation is that the temple of Mercury is three miles to the south of the Earth or Silbury Hill, as in the nadir, and that the temple of Venus is four miles to the north of the Earthy as in the zenith. Therefore, although the temples are placed seven miles from each other, could locomotion be imparted to this stationary orrery, they would, in their orbits, pass within one mile of each other. Thus, as in the present system of astronomy, the orbits of Mercury and Venus are nearest to each other, so, singularly enough, are they here in this curious terrestrial diagram. In another instance I have to mention a similar astronomic accordance.

I now leave the extreme northern temple, and wending my way again to the south, I repass the temples of the Sun and Moon at Abury. I repass the Earth, or Silbury Hill, and I again arrive at the temple of Mercury, at Walker's Hill. From thence, descending the neighbouring gorge into the vale of Pewsey, I reach, at the distance of three miles, the temple of Mars situate at Marden. Here I find an immense mound, inclosed within an area of 51 acres, and surrounded by a fosse. This mound, now destroyed, was, in the opinion of Sir R. C. Hoare, decidedly a religious temple. [195] He also says, that "its situation about midway between Stonehenge and Abury, with the vicinity of a British trackway, seems to indicate an immediate connexion between those two great sanctuaries."

Here my late friend appears to have a lurking suspicion of some grand connexion between this chain of ancient temples; he seems to have discovered, as he thought, a clue which yet he failed to unravel. Of the British trackway he makes mention, in other places he falls on it here and there, as he travels unconsciously up this meridional line, and yet fails to connect these several temples and the trackway, which runs parallel with them. We trace this trackway, in detached portions, from Stonehenge to the north of the temples at Abury; whence it pursues its course to the north-east, and leaves the county of Wilts, to traverse the high downs of Berks bordering on the vale of White Horse. And we find collateral trackways, from the right and left, which converge into this great way, and were, doubtlessly, to lead the distant hordes, at the stated periods of planetary worship, to and from the various temples to which it was subservient for this purpose. To return to the temple of Mars. This vast mound was also accompanied by a small tumulus, which most probably served the purpose of a gnomon. I here record a remarkable fact, strongly corroborative of my theory, which is this, that Marden, (although local appellatives are usually derived from the Saxon,) is derivable from the ancient British words Mars and den; the one [196] (according to the 'Ductor Linguanim,' of Minshieu) signifying the planet Mars, and the other, a cave or residence. What have we then but the temple of Mars? Again I take my leave of this temple, and pursue my pilgrimage on the meridional line; I .ascend the southern ridge of the hill bordering on the vale, and impending over the village of Charlton, and at the distance of another three miles, I meet on the upland down with another religious temple. This I assign to the planet Jupiter, as it is sited, where his temple ought to be. Here is an enclosed area of 60 acres, bounded by a slender ditch and vallum, the whole of which is under tillage. It bears the modern name of Casterley Camp. This appellative denotes the fortified residence on the upland pasture, and nothing can be more appropriate to its situation. In the centre, says Sir R. C. Hoare, is an inner inclosure, which, "by having the ditch within the vallum, denotes probably a place appropriated to religious purposes." He is of opinion that the large area, above mentioned, contained both a place of settlement, and a religious temple: and as it is at the due distance from the temple of Mars on the north, and the temple of Saturn on the south, I am fully sanctioned in the appropriation of it as the temple of Jupiter. The even location of the three successive planets, by their temples to the south of the Earth, or Silbury Hill, must not pass unobserved. The temple of Mars is found three miles from that of Mercury, and the temple of Jupiter again three miles from that [197] of Mars. The temples, I repeat again, are all located in succession in a right line, and that a meridional line. That they should be sited on a strictly mathematical line, is too much to be expected; but if on a map, the one end of a narrow piece of tape be placed on Stonehenge, which is 16 miles from the Earthy or Silbury Hill, and then if covering that hill, the other end be carried yet 16 miles further to the north, the extreme of the meridional line, the whole of the series of the temples will be covered, with the exception of the temple of Mars; which, on an extent of 32 miles, will be found about half a mile to the left out of the strict line; and this slight deviation, which at first sight would appeal to disprove, in reality confirms, our rule: for upon investigation it is found, that this temple, if sited on the meridional line, must have been looked for in the bed of the neighbouring river, and even as it is if at the present day a spectator place himself at the temple of Mars, in the centre of the vale of Pewsey, and look alternately at the temple of Mercury, and at the temple of Jupiter, sited respectively on the summits of the northern and southern hills bordering on that vale, all the three temples will appear to be on a straight line. From the temple of Jupiter I proceed onward on the meridional line. After passing four miles, I arrive at a long barrow seated on the top of an eminence, with a long and very gradual ascent on either side. This tumulus is known by the name Knighton Long Barrow. The view from it is very extensive, and whilst [198] from hence the temples of Jupiter and Saturn are fully seen yet from the interposition of the hill, the mutual view from each other is precluded. I regard then this tumulus to be raised as a telegraphic point, as a guide to and from these temples for their various religious visitants at their grand periodical festivals. Descending a verdant slope of three miles I arrive at the temple of Saturn, the modern Stonehenge, and here I remark a very curious circumstance, namely that the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn are of any two the most distant from each other, and thus it is in the present received mundane system.

I now record the relative distances of the various temples, representing the orbs of the planets, from the Earth as the centre of the universe. The temples of the Sun and Moon, the temples of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, are located respectively at the distances of 1, 3, 4, 6, 9, 16, miles from the Earth. The diameter of their respective orbits, (were the members of this vast planetarium not stationary, but capable of rotatory motion,) would be therefore 2, 6, 8, 12, 18, 32 miles. The temples are all placed on a right line, due north and south. As, therefore, the orbit of Saturn in this magnificent planetarium will have a diameter of 32 miles, this is the length of that meridional line, on which the temples are located, the space within which this wonderful work of the hand of man has been performed.

To return to the temple of Saturn. Although this temple be located at the extreme end of the meridional [199] line, yet it is a curious fact, that it does not front the north, but the north-east, for which this reason is assigned.

The astronomical founders of this temple resolved to erect it on a geometrical line with reference to the rise of the sun at the summer solstice. A gnomon, therefore, was pitched as a guide for the precise spot whereon to locate the temple; a right line was then drawn from that gnomon, as from the rising of the sun at the summer solstice, with reference to which line the surrounding fosse, and the temple withal, were meted out: for it was upon this central line, that the diameter of the circumferential fosse, and of its proposed included temple, were measured off. This being done, two transverse lines were next drawn athwart this central one to the fosse, either line touching, at opposite points, on the circumference of the temple within: at the four points thus ascertained, gnomons and astronomical stations were located on the fosse, two of each, at contrariwise angles; for the purpose of taking observations, on the rise of the sun at the summer solstice, and on the setting of the sun at the winter solstice; and further, if diagonal lines be drawn from these four extreme points of the transverse lines, they will mutually intersect each other in the centre of the temple, and these lines, together with the central one, will form altogether a star of six rays, and although the details of the temple were not sited on those rays, they formed a guide for the location of them in their due relative proportions. Thus simple [200] were the geometrical figures of this early and sagacious race. Before I enter on the subject of the cycles symbolised by the details of the temple of Saturn I say a few words on its fosse. In this an extraordinary circumstance presents itself; the temple enclosed within its centre bears the same relative proportion to the surrounding fosse, as the planet Saturn does to his ring, that is, as one to three. Supposing it will be objected that the knowledge of this as to the planet would have required the telescope, and that the ancients did not possess it. I then discuss the problematical point, and through the medium of Sir William Drummond, in his "Origines," I cite a passage from Strabo strongly demonstrative that they did possess the telescope. I then inquire around the temple, and I find the stones to speak in plain and intelligible language. From them I learn that here are represented the cycle of the years of Saturn, or the emblem of the race of man, that the 30 stones incumbent on these 30 uprights, are denotive of eternity, and the orb of Saturn as inclusive of space and time. The cycle of the planets also presents itself, and within that, the celebrated Metonic cycle, or lunar cycle of 19 years. Innermost of all in this temple of Saturn, as in the womb of time, an arrangement exhibits itself typical of the ovum mundi, the mundane egg, the germ of universal nature. I find also that the trilithons denoting the planets and the circular range of imposts, which surround the temple, present in combination a most curious astronomical feature [201] which is this; that taking the circle of imposts as denotive of the Equator, an oblique line, drawn from the topmost stone of the trilithon behind the astronomic stone of observation, (commonly called the altar-stone,) to that of the small trilithons, gives rightly the obliquity of the ecliptic. And I add other things to prove the astronomical knowledge of this early and scientific race of man, whom the moderns, puffed up with their own conceits, will call barbarians, but who, in the conception of this magnificent work, have exhibited the influential action of a master mind, and in its execution have amply shewn their united skill in the sciences of astronomy, geometry, and mechanics. Having thus traced the plans of these early sages in all their works and windings—having thus developed the details of their mighty doings, we finally unite the whole, and prove that collectively these several temples ranged on a meridional line, form one grand astronomical scheme, and typify the magnus annus—the cycle of the years of the world—the cycle of cycles—when after the certain revolution of thousands of years, the planets and all the heavenly bodies shall ultimately, and simultaneously, arrive at the same places from whence they originally received their first impulse of motion; when the Ovum Mundi, the Mundane Egg, reposited within the womb of Time, shall, having received the daily influences of the Sun during its lengthened period of incubation, burst its cerements; when the new world shall spring forth into being, and amidst the tuneful harmony of the spheres, the ζra [202] of the revived Platonic cycle shall again be in its new and long-continued revolution! Here then I close the series of proofs attendant on the theory, which it was proposed to offer to the world—a theory supported by a chain of facts, distinct as to their several links; yet so strongly combined, as I trust to be incapable of severance. It is a true remark of Higgins, that "if the human mind can ever flatter itself with having been successful in discovering the truths it is when many facts, and those facts of different kinds, unite in producing the same result."

When I first undertook to develope this theory of the origin of Stonehenge, and the other ancient religious temples of Wilts, I saw those detached and existing facts throughout its scope which might justify its submission to public attention; but I was not aware of that very full and successive chain of evidences, which has, as it were, been link by link drawn forth. I can truly say, that in my progress, new facts and arguments arose up in corroboration of its proof on every side, at the same time that no adverse or discouraging argument occurred, to impart doubt as to its correctness. And now having closed at length my attempted developement of this wonderful and magnificent scheme, I must leave to the judgment of my readers and the literary world, the decision it shall please them to make, concerning the result of my labours: to them I leave it to determine, whether any portion of the mists which have so long enshrouded these venerable monuments has been [203] dispersed, and whether any light, more copious than hitherto, has been let in, to fall on the dim history of these primaeval remains, and to bring forth to view, in our latter days, the objects with which they were originally raised, and the scientific rules, according to which they were constructed: and (to speak the whole at once) to them I leave it to determine, whether, or no, they may be considered now to stand forth in revealed light as an astronomical planetarium—a stationary orrery—devised by the ancient astronomers of the land, as a system of planetary worship; and to embody in stone a collection of cycles, from the cycle of the days of the week to that cycle of cycles—the cycle of the years of the world. And now may I say "Finis coronat opus."





This page last updated: 03/09/2009