« ForrigeFortsett »
twenty inches thick. At the distance of sixty cubits from the outer circle was a trench on one side to the opposite exterior of the trench, thirty cubits in width, so that the whole diameter of the temple from the outside of the trench on one side to the opposite exterior of the trench, was two hundred and forty cubits. The outer trench or boundary, with which these structures were frequently surrounded, seems to have been an imitation of what Moses did at Sinai, by the Divine command, and possibly repeated on other occasions, and probably for the same purpose, viz., that of limiting the peoples' approach to these consecrated places; the command to Moses was - Set bounds about the mount and sanctify it.” (Exodus xix. 23).
From what I have said previously my readers will perceive that I believe this Monolith in the Church yard, standing as does at its North-east corner, to be thus in its secondary purpose, a Druidical remain. That it formed one upright of a Trilithite, or Druidical shrine, through which the priest of those ancient people passed. The space between the two upright pillars in these trilithons being only just sufficient for
one person to pass through.
The Druidical priest, like the high priest of old, no doubt was about the highest and most revered functionary of his time. Abiding as he did among the megalithic edifices, it may not be altogether foreign to our subject, to say something respecting the Logan, or Rocking Stone, which appears to have been an artifice by which these Britislı priests imposed upon the ignorance of the people. This consists of one immense stone so nicely poised on the top of some other stone or rock as to be moved with the slightest touch, or pressure of the hand, at the same time that it is almost impossible to move it from its station. Nature probably furnished the first idea of this superstitious structure, for there are many instances of fallen rocks that have been nicely poised on some projecting point of the mass on which they have fallen; but others have been discovered to be formed artificially. Rocking stones occur in various parts of the kingdom, as in Cornwall, Wales, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire, &c. At Walton, in Lancashire, there are five of these stones so contiguous to each other, that, if one was touched, the motion was communicated to
the rest. It is conjectured, and with much probability, that the rocking stone was a species of ordeal or test, by which the British priests, who, according to the patriarchal custom, were also the judges of the people, determined the innocence or guilt of those persons who were brought before them. Mason, in his “Caractacus," favours this idea, and exemplifies it in a very striking
He supposes two young men to be brought before the Druidical tribunal, on the charge of treason, on which occasion the Arch-Druid addresses them in this awful
“ Thither youths Turn your astonish'd eyes—behold yon huge And unhewn mass of living adamant ! Which, pois’d by magic, rests its central weight On yonder pointed rock. Fix't, as it seems, Such are its strange and virtuous properties, It moves, obsequious to the slightest touch Of him whose breast is pure; but, to the TRAITOR ! Though a giant's prowess nerv'd his arm, It stands as firm as Snowdon. No reply. The gods command that one of you
shall now Approach and touch it. Priests ! in your snowy vests The lots deposit, and, as our wont is, Present them to the younger."
After an address so solemn as this, from such a person, and with minds prepaed by
a superstitious dread of the secret and mysterious intelligence of this stone, it is highly probable that the guilty person would confess his guilt, rather than tempt the vengeance of the gods by making this appeal. It is therefore reasonable to suppose, that few, but those who were emboldened by the consciousness of their innocence would be hardy enough to make the attempt; but, if every one who ventured to make the trial, succeeded, which, if no unfair means were resorted to, he must do, the question then might reasonably be asked, where is the discriminating property attached to this stone ? Whoever has the courage to lay his hand upon it, moves it. To obviate this objection, and to establish the credit of this test, it was necessary that the stone should sometimes resist the pressure of the hand and remain immoveable.
This was easily effected, by inserting a wedge, or even a small pebble, into the socket in which the pivet moved, on which the stone was poised, and thus perhaps innocent persons were frequently made victims to the avarice and ambition of these designing priests, who increased their influence by thus exciting the astonishment of the people.
It will not do to leave this portion of our subject without a description of this stone. Drake, in his “Eboracum," describes it as
coarse rag stone, or mill stone grit,” and its weight is computed at between forty and fifty tons. There is a report current that it was hewn out of a quarry near Whitby; but I deem it far more probable that primarily it is one of those glacial deposits which lie scattered throughout the country. I am informed by geologists that a like stratum of stone is to be found on the opposite side of the North Sea to Bridlington Bay, in Sleswick-Holstein.
In form (the sides being slightly concave) it approaches to the oval; the breadth being five feet ten inches, and the thickness two feet three inches in its general dimensions. Its height is about twenty-five feet, and according to a very brief account communicated to the late Mr. Pegge, in the year 1769, “its depth under the ground equals its height above."
In order to ascertain the height of the stone, on Monday, August 12th, 1872, I ascended to the top, in the presence of the Hon. Mrs. Bosville, of Thorpe Hall; her