adjoining the agger, within the area, "as to be able to examine the undermost side of the stone, where we found fragments of stag's horns." 1 Further on he says, "In more modern times (since Stukeley's) we have found, on digging, several fragments of Roman, as well as of coarse British pottery; parts of the head and horns of deer, and other animals, and a large barbed arrow head of iron. Dr. Stukeley says that he dug close to the altar, and at the depth of one foot came to the solid chalk. Mr. Cunnington also dug about the same place to the depth of nearly six feet, and found the chalk had been moved to that depth; and at about the depth of three feet he found some Roman pottery, and at the depth of six feet, some pieces of sarsen stones, three fragments of coarse half-baked pottery, and some charred wood. After what Stukeley has said of finding the marl solid at the depth of one foot, the above discoveries would naturally lead us to suppose, that some persons, since his time had dug into the same spot; yet after getting down about two feet, there was less and less vegetable mould, till we reached the solid chalk; some small pieces of bone, a little charred wood, and some fragments of coarse pottery were intermixed with the soil. In digging into the ditch that surrounds the area, Mr. Cunnington found similar remains of antiquity; and in the waggon tracks, near Stonehenge, you frequently meet with chippings of the stones of which the temple was constructed. Soon after the fall of the great trilithon in 1797, Mr. Cunnington dug out some of the earth that had fallen into the excavation, and found a fragment of fine black Roman pottery, and since that, another piece in the same spot; but I have no idea that this pottery ever lay beneath the stones, but probably in the earth adjoining the trilithon, and after the downfall of the latter, fell with the mouldering earth into the excavation. The only conclusion we can draw from this circumstance of finding Roman pottery on this ground is, that this work was in existence at the period when that species of earthenware was made use of by the Britons in our island."

1 See page 56.

2 Ancient Wilts, vol. i., pp. 144, 150, 151. Sir Richard Hoare has spoken in the foregoing paragraph about the finding of Roman pottery. Stukeley has the following about the finding of Roman coins: "In 1724, when I was there,

The following extract is from a letter by Mr. Cunnington, F.S. A., of Heytesbury, dated November, 1802, with which his grandson, Mr. Cunnington, F.G.S., has kindly favoured the writer: "I have during the summer dug in several places in the area and neighbourhood of Stonehenge and particularly at the front of the altar, where I dug to the depth of 5 feet or more, and found charred wood, animal bones and pottery. Of the latter there were several pieces similar to the rude urns found in the barrows, also some pieces of Roman pottery. In several places I found stags' horns. The altar-stone is 16 feet 2 inches long, 3 feet 2 inches wide, and 1 foot 9 inches thick. It was completely broken in two by the fall of the impost of the great trilithon. It was neatly chiseled as you may see by digging the earth from the side."

Mr. Joseph Browne gave to Dr. Thurnam the following account of a digging in front of what is called the altar-stone by Captain Beamish, who undertook the exploration in order to satisfy a society in Sweden that there was no interment in the centre of Stonehenge:

Richard Hayns, an old man of Ambresbury, whom I employed to dig for me in the barrows, found some little worn-out Roman coins at Stonehenge, among the earth rooted up by the rabbets. He sold one of them for half-a-crown to Mr. Merril, of Golden Square, who came thither whilst I was at the place. The year before, Hayns was one of the workmen employ'd by Lord Carlton to dig clay on Harradon hill, east of Ambresbury, where they found many Roman coins, which I saw. I suspect he pretended to find those at Stonehenge, only for the sake of the reward. My friend the late Dr. Harwood of Doctors Commons, told me he was once at Stonehenge with such sort of Roman coins in his pockets, and that one of his companions would have persuaded him to throw some of them into the rabbit-holes: but the Doctor was more ingenuous. Nevertheless were never so many such coins found in Stonehenge, they would prove nothing more, than that the work was in being, when the Romans were here; and which we are assured of already. I have a brass coin given me by John Collins, Esq., collector of the excise at Stanford. The heads of Julius and Augustus averse: the reverse a crocodile, palm branch and garland, COL. NEM., the colony of Nemansus in France. It was found upon Salisbury plain: and might be lost there before the Roman conquest of Britain under Claudius, by people of France coming hither; or in after ages; no matter which" (p. 32). It thus appears that there were Coin-Jacks in Stukeley's time, for the distribution in convenient places, if not for the forgery, of these Roman pieces of money.

"Taking care not to go too near the stones."

"Some years ago, I do not remember the year, but it was that in which Mr. Antrobus came of age [? 1839], and that there were rejoicings at Amesbury, an officer from Devonport, named Captain Beamish, who was staying at the George Hotel, having obtained the permission of the proprietor, made an excavation somewhere about eight feet square and six feet deep, in front of the altar-stone, digging backward some little distance under it. I remember distinctly the hole being dug through the chalk rubble and rock. Nothing was found excepting some bits of charcoal, and a considerable quantity of the bones of rabbits. Before the hole was filled up, buried a bottle, containing a record of the excavation."



It thus appears that there have been already many and extensive diggings within the circles and the vallum, and that the result has been inconsiderable, beyond the throwing down of one of the trilithons. It has been recently proposed to examine "the flat surface within the stone circles," and perhaps "the ditch of the earthwork surrounding the structure." It would be well, therefore, to consider carefully the incidental notices of what has been already done in this way, and to calculate whether any future examination of the soil would be likely to be attended with more satisfactory results. The writer ventures to express his belief that the only important result would be the determination of the non-sepulchral character of the work. But even the discovery of human remains within the circles would no more prove that Stonehenge was constructed to be a burial place, than the finding of bishops' and other peoples' bodies in cathedrals would be decisive that these buildings had not been erected with the primary object of promoting the worship and service of Almighty God.

Warton, in his "Parochial History of Kiddington," says of Rollrich, that some years ago, "Its area, which is without a tumulus, was examined to a considerable depth by digging, and no marks of inhumation appeared;" and Stukeley had previously mentioned that

1 Colonel Lane Fox" on the Proposed Exploration of Stonehenge by a Committee of the British Association."-Journal of the Ethnological Society of London, vol. ii., p. 1, 1869.

Ralph Sheldon, Esq., dug in the middle of the circle at Rowlrich, but found nothing. Arbor-lowe, in Derbyshire, contains nothing sepulchral, nor do the Cornish circles of Boscawen-un and Botallack. In 1861 some Edinburgh archæologists made excavations within the great circle known as the "Stones of Stennis," in Orkney, but could not find a trace of human sepulture. The same result would probably attend the examination of the area of Stonehenge.'

It is to be hoped that the diggings at Silbury Hill, and within the large circle at Abury, will have set at rest, for ever, the questions relating to the connection of the former with the Roman road, and to the sepulchral character of the latter. To the writer, when spending some days at and near Abury in 1856 and 1857, the course of the Roman road through the cultivated fields, was, on sunny afternoons, unmistakeably apparent. From Mr. A. C. Smith's interesting account of these investigations, he extracts the following: “Although we have found no hidden treasures, and made no fresh discoveries, the result of our work was on the whole highly satisfactory to us; for we considered that we had fairly settled the question mooted by Mr. Fergusson, but which neither of us ever entertained for one moment, that Avebury was a vast graveyard, and that human bones would be disinterred, if search were made.

"We had made excavations in fourteen different spots within the area, some of them of no trifling dimensions, but not one single human bone had we found; quantities of bones of the sheep, the horse, the ox, we had disinterred, many of which, not far from the surface, were of comparatively recent date: glass and pottery too, near the surface told their tale of modern times; but the fragments of pottery which we brought to light from our deeper cuttings were invariably of the British type. Thus we flatter ourselves that our exertions have not been thrown away: we trust we have once for all disposed of the novel theory as to the great charnel house of the ancient Britons; while on the other hand we have unmistakeably proved the site of several of the most important stones long since broken up and carried away; and we have probed the great surrounding embankment to its very core, laying bare the original surface, and closely examining all the materials of which it is composed. We also found three stones not mentioned by recent writers. Ten yards to the east of the standing stones, nearest on the left hand side of the south entrance to Avebury, is a stone which is not laid down in Hoare's map. The dry summer of 1864, and the heat of some part of 1865, had killed the turf over the stone, and it now shows above the surface. Twenty yards in a north-westerly direction from the next standing stone ('m' in the map) another stone may be found under the turf, and ten yards from this again is yet another."—Wilts Arch and Nat. Hist. Mag., vol. x., p. 214.

There are doubtless many stone circles within which interments have been found, and it may be that in these the sepulchral character was the first and only character attached to them by their builders; but there are very many others in


Neither Webb nor Aubrey appear to have found out the avenues or cursus, and Stukeley might fairly claim to have been the discoverer of them both. As such, he shall describe them: "The avenue of Stonehenge was never observ'd by any who have wrote of it, tho' a very elegant part of it, and very apparent," and again, " About half a mile north of Stonehenge, across the first valley, is the cursus or

which have been found no traces of any interment, and it may be fairly believed that they were set up for some object of more general importance.

In the very interesting volumes by Mr. E. H. Palmer, entitled the "Desert of the Exodus," he tells us of "huge stone circles in the neighbourhood of Mount Sinai, some of them measuring 100 feet in diameter, having a cist in the centre covered with a heap of larger boulders. These are nearly identical in construction with the Druidical Circles' of Britain. In the cists we found human skeletons, the great antiquity of which was proved not only by the decayed state of the bones, but by the fact that the bodies had in every case been doubled up and buried in such a position that the head and knees met. There are also small open enclosures in the circles, in which burnt earth and charcoal were found." (p. 140.) At page 337, we have his account of digging into a stone circle in another part of the desert and finding charcoal and burnt earth "in what I have before alluded to as the sacrificial area, but nothing at all in the central cairn." Some of our archæologists are intent upon maintaining that all cromlechs have been at some time or other covered with earth, and that these, and all stone circles, have been sepulchral; but these exclusive and one-sided views are not in harmony either with reason or experience.

The writer takes this opportunity of saying that a note at page 38 of "Abury Illustrated," respecting "sacrificial" cromlechs, was inserted at the wish of a friend; but that it is not, and was not, in accordance with his own judgment in the matter.

The mention of Silbury Hill suggests that the following poem, by Southey,should have a place in the Wiltshire Archæological and Natural History Magazine:


This mound in some remote and dateless day
Rear'd o'er a Chieftain of the Age of Hills,
May here detain thee, Traveller! from thy road
Not idly lingering. In his narrow house
Some warrior sleeps below, whose gallant deeds
Haply at many a solemn festival

The Scauld hath sung; but perish'd is the song
Of praise, as o'er these bleak and barren downs
The wind that passes and is heard no more.
Go, Traveller, and remember when the pomp
Of Earthly Glory fades, that one good deed,
Unseen, unheard, unnoted by mankind
Lives in the Eternal register of Heaven.


[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »