« ForrigeFortsett »
“But with regard to the form of our beacons, as we learn from Lord Coke (fourth institul, c. xxv., p. 148), before the reign of Edward III., they were but stacks of wood set upon high places, which were fired when the coming of enemies were descried ; but in his reign pitch boxes, as now they be, were, instead of these stacks, set up." (Observations on the Antiquity and Use
of Beacons, by Mr. Professor Ward, of Gresham College. See ARCHEOLOGIA,
Vol. 1, p. 1.) “ The Spanish Armada actually arrived in the British Channel in July, 1588, the month after the date of the Queen's orders respecting the beacons." (Introduction to Poulson's HISTORY OF
HOLDERNESS, pp. 86 and 87.) I now come to that which has caused more speculation than anything else connected with the parish, viz., the Monolith, which stands in the Church yard, thirteen feet from the buttress at the North-east corner of the Church. Very much has been written upon it and many have been the conjectures respecting it, and yet, after all that has been written and the many specu
lations respecting it, no one has been able to positively affirm that his theory is really
I do not, as the old proverb remarks, "wish to run my head against a stone,” nor do I aspire to the same degree of ocular perception which a certain person in olden times is said to have possessed, and who was so gifted with extraordinary vision, that he could see through the trunk of an oak, and so discovered some thieves who had stolen a lot of his cattle; therefore, under these circumstances, I think the most advisable course to adopt will be to tell you, in a measure, what has been written and said upon this, and like monuments of time.
We, in our generation, know how much of the history of the world is written, as it were, underground; how the most eloquent chronicles are to be discovered in monuments buried deep beneath the earth; and how the most trustworthy annals of all are the pillars and buttresses, the foundation stones and monoliths, around and above which the soil of centuries has accumulated. Subterranean research has indeed changed the entire map of history. And it has not merely altered old sciences; it has given us absolutely new ones. Without these inves
tigations we should, for instance, have no such thing as “Comparative Philology." Every monument, therefore, with which the mind of the explorer comes in contact, or which his pickaxe unearths, every inscription which is brought to light, represents so much added to the sum of human knowledge, presents the man of science with so much of new data upon which to rest, and by which to verify his hypotheses.
In the first place let us go back to the oldest stones of which we have any record. The earliest notice which we have of the unhewn pillar is in the Scriptural account of the flight of Jacob from the presence of his justly offended brother Esau (Genesis xxviii.) Being benighted in his journey towards Padan-aram, the residence of Laban, his mother's brother, we are informed that he “ took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillow and lay down to sleep." Whilst sleeping he was visited with a vision from the Lord, the recollection of which, on his awaking, filled his mind with an awful sensation, so that he exclaimed, “How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God and this is the gate of heaven. And Jacob rose
up early and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar * and poured oil on the top of it.f And he called the name of that place Bethel.”-i.e. the house of God. Though this is the earliest mention of the unhewn stone being set up as a pillar, it does not follow, of course, that it was the first of such erections. Before the art of writing, they were set up to commemorate some remarkable occurrence on the place where they were erected, and they are in the sacred writings called stones of memorial. It is, however, not unreasonable to suppose that the name Bethel was now for the first time imposed on these pillars from the peculiarity of the circumstance that led Jacob to apply it. This name was adopted by the Phænicians, with a slight dialectic change from Bethel to Bothel, of which there is an instance in Cornwall, for some pillars erected in that part of Britain by the Phænician miners settled there, still retain the name of Bothel, and on account of an oak near the spot, the place is called Bothel-ac, a compound of the British name of the stones and the Saxon name of the oak.
* That which had formerly lain flat upon the ground was erected and set up, and consecrated.BISHOP WORDSWORTH.
+ The Hindoos to this day continue to pour oil on their Pandoo Koolies, when they have to pass them, and a name given to such stones by the Phænicians is Men-ambres, the anointed stones.
The Grecians, for a long time, had no other sepulchral monuments than these unhewn pillars, which they erected on the summit of the tumulus, as the patriarch Jacob set up one of these pillars on the grave of his beloved Rachel (Genesis xxxv. 20), which remained to be called pillar of Rachel's grave." These pillars the Greeks designated by the sonorous epithet of “Batuloi,” evidently derived from the ancient word Bethel.
The pillar in ancient times was a stone no bigger than a man might carry to its destined point, as in Jacob's Bethel, and the Gilgal of Joshua; yet stones that one man could bring to any place, and another might carry away from it, we find remained in their places for ages. This shows that the practice was a general one and of long standing, and that these deposits were regarded with inviolable respect. In time the magnitude of the pillar, or of the altar,