Saturday 21 December 2013

Stukeley. Stonehenge, a temple restor'd to the British druids - online copy.

The ongoing mystery and obsession with Stonehenge, along with speculation on its supposed purpose, should be credited to William Stukeley (1687 –1765), a harbinger of modern archeological study and a pioneer in the restoration and preservation of ancient monuments and sites. Stukeley, a friend and biographer of Isaac Newton (acknowledged with creating the “apple falling” story), was a fascinating character in his own right. An English gentleman, scholar, historian, physician, freemason, and druid, Stukeley surveyed Stonehenge in the 1720s and published his principal work on the ancient monument in 1740. Although Stukeley incorrectly theorized that the monument was part of the druidic religion, he was the first to recognize and describe the alignment of Stonehenge with the solstice. His meticulous observations and thorough survey remain significant and valuable in the history of the monument.

“Stonehenge stands not upon the very summit of a hill, but pretty near it, and
for more than three quarters of the circuit you ascend to it very gently from
lower ground. At half a mile distance, the appearance of it is stately and awful,
really august. As you advance nearer, especially up the avenue, which is
to the north-east of it, (which side is now most perfect) the greatness of its con-
tour fills the eye in an astonishing manner… Nothing in nature could be of a more
simple idea than this vast circle of stones, and its crown-work or corona at top ;
and yet its effect is truly majestic and venerable, which is the main requisite
in sacred structures. A single stone is a thing worthy of admiration… ”
- William Stukeley

A complete copy of Stukely's book is available here:

Stukeley, William. Stonehenge, a temple restor'd to the British druids. London : Printed for W. Innys and R. Manby, at the West End of St. Paul's, 1740.


  1. Tim

    Well done in finding and publishing these digitised ancient manuscripts!!

    You maybe interested in page 124 showing 'glacial markings' in the avenue. Although I think the surrounding markings and the coach and horses in the drawing maybe a more rational explanation to the lines.


  2. Sorry it's sequence 124 page 52!!

  3. That would be one heckuva rough ride in a horse-drawn wagon!

    There is also no logical purpose for a road to be there in historical antiquity - that is, there's no place for the road to efficiently come from or go to.
    If Stone Robbers used it to haul rubble away, why is the NE portion of the Circle still intact?

    Two or three of the deeper markings were almost certainly created by moving Ice over 24,000 years ago. The others are probably solutional rills created by melting permafrost after the recession of this Ice.

    They all predate the Avenue by a score of millennia.

    Some of Stukely's observations were prescient - others were wildly outlandish.


  4. Neil

    Try page 54 showing how the road split at Stonehenge Bottom to the Cursus and Radsin (Ratfyn) if you need to see a larger map try my blog:

    Showing a major road went through Stonehenge from Old Sarum.

    If you look again at this picture you see the ditches of the Avenue quite clearly in the field past the Heal Stone unlike today!! If that was the case the amount of top soil (which from the lines in the picture show it had major agriculture activity surrounding the Avenue 300 years ago) was less than today and the coach and horses running over this area, especially in the wet season would have left considerable scars on the chalk.

    Which drives a literal 'Coach & Horses' through this glacial nonsense - its a shame archaeologists/geologists are not 'up to speed' on their history!!



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