Books, Prehistory, Avebury A Temple of British Druids

Avebury A Temple of British Druids, With Some Others, Described by William Stukeley is in Prehistory.

by William Stukeley (age 36), M.D. Rector of All-Saints [Map] in Stamford.

1724. Table I. Frontspiece. The Groundplot of the Brittish Temple now the town of Aubury Wilts. Ao. 1724. [Note. This drawing shows the location of a number of stones that were destroyed and the year in which they were destroyed. Curiously it shows the outer circle and inner north circle as being composed on two rings of stones rather than the one ring we presume today. Also interesting is that there is a note on the east entrance staying 'road to Marlborough' - this being the route to the Ridgeway.]

Wherein is a more particular account of the first and patriarchal religion; and of the peopling the British Islands.

Quamvis obstet mihi tarda vetustas, Multaque me fugiant primis spectata sub annis, Plura tamen memini - Ov. Met. XII. v. 182.

[Although old age hinders me, And many things shun me at first sight under the years, However, I remember more, or, Though the slowness of age hampers me, and many things I once saw have slipped from me, I can still remember many, or, "Although my great age is a harm to me, and many actions of my early days escape my memory; yet, most of them are well remembered.]

Avebury Chapter I Of the origin of Druid or patriarchal temples, with publick religion and celebration of the sabbath. They were made of rude stones set upright in the ground, round in form, and open. In hot countries, groves were planted about them. Abraham practised it, and from him our Druids. Of the quality of evidence, in matters of such antiquity. The patriarchs had a knowledge of the nature of the Deity to be adored, subsisting in distinct personalities: which is even deducible from human reason. The Druids had the same knowledge, as appears by their works. The first publick practice of religion was called, invoking in the name of Jehovah, the mediator.

Avebury Chapter II Of the origin of temples more particularly, the meaning of the name. The manner of them, round and open. The Mosaic tabernacle a temple square and covered, in opposition to the former desecrated into idolatry. Another reason, covered with skins, because typical of Messiah. So the patriarchal or Druid temples made in those forms, that were symbols of the deity, and the divine personalities thereof. When become idolatrous generally dedicated to the sun, by reason of their round form. The most ancient symbolic figure of the deity was the circle, snake and wings, which we see frequently on Egyptian and other Monuments. The patriarchal temples made in representations thereof; therefore of three kinds. I. A circle only. II. A circle and snake. III. A circle and wings. This Volume treats of a temple of each of these kinds in Britain. The temple of ROWLDRICH [Map] in Oxfordshire being of the first sort, described. The Evidence of its being a work of the Druids, drawn up in a kind of order, as a specimen. 1. Its high situation, on an open heath by the heads of rivers. 2. An open circle of stones set upright, taken from the surface of the ground. 3. The appearance of the weather on them. 4. From the name, the Gilgal of Joshua explained. 5. From the measure, the Druid cubit. 6. From the barrows all round it. A Druid's court. The king's tumulus. The archdruid's tumulus, the founder. 7. From old reports concerning these works. 8. Sepulchres frequently the occasion of founding temples in all ages, from a hope of the body's resurrection, and one occasion of deifying heroes, and introducing idolatry, the first species of it.

Avebury Chapter III Abury, the most extraordinary work in the world, being a serpentine temple, or of the second kind, described. Now was the critical time of saving the memory of it. Account of the place. Natural history. The gray weathers, called Sarsens, a phœnician word, meaning a rock. Whence the name of the city of Tyre. Their weight and texture. The wear of the weather, more apparent here, than at Stonehenge, an argument of its being a much older work.

Avebury Chapter IV The figure of the temple of Abury is a circle and snake. Hakpen [Map], another oriental word still preserved here, meaning the serpent's head. The chorography of Abury. A description of the great circle of stones 1400 foot in diameter. Of the ditch inclosing it. The vallum formed on the outside, like an amphitheater to the place. This represents the circle in the hieroglyphic figure. Of the measures, all referring to the ancient eastern cubit which the Druids used.

Avebury Chapter V Of the two great temples [Avebury South Circle and Avebury North Circle] included in the area of the great circle of stones. Each consists of two concentrick circles. One has a central obelisc or ambre, a very high stone in the center. The Egyptians called an obelisc an ambre. The other temple has a cove [Map] in the center, composed of three stones of a stupendous bulk, set in a nich-like figure. A short history of the destroyers of this noble work, but a very few years ago.

Avebury Chapter VI Concerning antiquities found about this place; with a more particular chorography of the country around. Description of the roman road here, via Badonica. A plain demonstration that these works we are writing upon, are older than the roman times. Another like demonstration. Of Divitiacus, of the british Belgæ, who made the wansdike. A Druid axe or celt, found under one of the stones in Abury. Burnt bucks-horns, charcoal, and the like.

Avebury Chapter VII A description of the great avenue from West-Kennet, a mile off, which is the forepart of the snake proceeding from the circle. Observations on the vallum and ditch. On the proportion between the breadth of the avenue and the side interval of the stones. The avenue broader in that part, which is the belly of the snake, than the neck. Its whole length ten stadia of the ancients; 4000 cubits, an eastern mile. The Hakpen an oriental word, signifying the snake's head. The temple on Overton-hill. Such another temple described by Pausanias in Bœotia, called the snake's head.

Avebury Chapter VIII A description of the other great avenue from Bekamton, a mile off, which is the hinderpart of the snake, proceeding from the circle. The cove [Map] on the midway of it called Longstones, or the Devil's coits. The avenue terminated in a valley. Some animal bones found in a stone, whence a conjecture concerning their age. Of the number of the stones. Solomon's temple compared with ours. The mechanicks of the Druids called magick. Of the effect of the weather upon the stones.

Avebury Chapter IX 1723. Of the barrows or sepulchral tumuli about Abury, very numerous here, as having for ages been a metropolitical temple. The several kinds of them, conjecturally distinguished. Royal barrows of old and later fashions. Druids' barrows. Archdruids' or long barrows. Silbury [Map] much the largest barrow about Abury, and perhaps in the world. The temple built, seemingly, on account of this barrow. The sacred character as a prophylactic to the ashes of the dead. The Druids taught the resurrection of the body as well as soul. The great king dug up, who was interred at top. His most ancient bridle found with the corps, in possession of the author. The british chariots an oriental usage. A conjecture of the name of this king, Cunedha, who lived at Marlborough. Of the fountain of the Kennet hard by, taking its name from him. The dimension of Silbury-hill, its solid content. A demonstration of the Roman road made since Silbury-hill. A conjecture concerning the time of year when this prince died. The anniversaries of the ancients at the tombs of the dead. What has been found in other barrows here. Beads of amber, and other matter, as glass, earth, &c. A flat gold ring, spear-heads, a bit of gold. Another demonstration of the Roman road being later than these works. An entire urn which the author dug up. A double circle of stones at Winterburn-basset. Pyriform barrows. Of long barrows or archdruids'. Very large ones here, above 300 foot long. Some set round with stones. Some with great stoneworks at the end.

Avebury Chapter X Of the arch-druid's house on Temple-downs, his barrow. Of their places of judicature, and execution. Another Druid's house called old-Chapel towards Winterburn-basset. Another under the Hakpen-hill, over Kennet avenue. Another at Bekamton. Another under Runway-hill. A Kist-vaen in Monkton-fields. Another in Clatford-bottom [Map] by Marlborough. Some general reflexions. They must have been a very great and learned people, that made this work of Abury. The parish of Abury now comprehends many townships, taken in by the extent of the snake. A notion of the snake, and its sacred quality retained by the people, reporting no snake will live within this tract. A conjecture concerning the time of founding this temple, which carries it up to the time of Abraham, or very near it; deduced from the variation of the compass observed there. A mathematical designation of the termination of Bekamton avenue. The major part of Virgil's fifth Æneid is a description of like anniversary games celebrated here, in old times.

Avebury Chapter XI This second sort of temples made by the circle and snake, was called in very old times, Dracontium, and not understood. The first temples made in form of the symbol of the deity. Why mankind should make the serpent the symbol of the deity? Of symbols in general. Their antiquity and use. It was the first kind of writing, even antediluvian. The serpent of high account from China to Britain. Of the nature of the serpent. The extraordinary beauty of the creature. Its wonderful motion without legs, thought to be like that of the gods. The wisdom of the serpent considered. Symbolically understood. Its bifid tongue the symbol of eloquence. Its enchanting power real. By the eyes, by the ears. Whence emblematic of the preachers of the gospel, and of our Saviour himself. On these, and many other accounts, esteemed a divine animal, and chosen to symbolize the first begotten son of God, or first product of the divine fecundity. Of the nature of the formation of symbols. The serpent a prophylactic symbol. Of the brazen serpent, typical of our Saviour. Of the emerods of the Philistines, whence the Phalli of the heathen. A serpent the symbol of Messiah in many views.

Avebury Chapter XII The second sort of temples called Dracontia, like that of Abury, have been built frequently in old times. The traces of them pursued. Part of the history of Phut, third son of Cham. A genealogy of the most ancient sacred and heathen families. Phut had a fleet of ships upon the Mediterranean. The Typhon, Typhis, Python of antiquity, called Apollo Pythius after death. He was a builder of these serpentine temples. Like the emperor Augustus in countenance. He erected the first patriarchal temple at Delphos, a Dracontium. Parnassus originally Larnassus, which is no other than our Hakpen of Abury. The sabbath observed there originally. Ææas, a son of Phut's, built the Dracontium at Colchis. Perseus, another son of his, bore the sacred hierogram, the circle, snake, and wings, in his shield; whence the Medusa's head.

Avebury Chapter XIII Hercules of Tyre, part of his history. Was a pastor king in Egypt. Retired thence with 240000 men, about the latter end of Abraham's time. The chronology of those pastor kings fixed, somewhat more accurately than in Usher and Cumberland. Hercules king in Egypt, or the Pharaoh with whom Abraham conversed there. He was a very great navigator: a learned prince, an astronomer, a chronologer. The Hercules Ogmius. What the word means. He knew the secret of alphabet writing, and the true length of the solar year. He learned probably of Abraham. He carried colonies about the Mediterranean, and into the Ocean, and brought the Druids into Britain. He built many patriarchal temples; some of serpentine form: particularly at Acon in Palestine. He had a son called Isaac. The evidences of Hercules planting Britain. Of Apher his companion, grandson of Abraham, giving name to Britain. Remains of Hercules his people, called Hycsi, in Britain. Hence we conclude our Druids had the use of Writing before Cadmus carried it into Greece.

Avebury Chapter XIV Part of Cadmus his history, who was a builder of serpentine temples. He was son of Canaan called Agenor. He was a Horite or Hivite, called Kadmonite in scripture. Hivite signifies a serpent. Mount Hermon denominated from his wife, Psal. cxxxiii. 3. "like as the dew of Hermon, which fell on the hill of Sion." Correct it, Sirijon. Another correction in the translation of our bible, "Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts," read merchant. 'Tis a prophecy not attended to, Zech. xiv. 21. The ancient greek fables of sowing serpents' teeth; of Cadmus and his wife being turned into serpents, and the like; are formed from their building serpentine temples. Not to be wondered at so much, when our country-people have the very same reports of Rouldrich stones; of the Weddings, another Druid temple in Somersetshire; of Long Meg and her daughters [Map], another in Cumberland; and most firmly believe, that they were men and women turned into stones. The mythology of the ancients not to be despised, but its original meaning sought for.

Avebury Chapter XV A metaphysical disquisition concerning the nature of the deity, shewing how the Druids, by the strength of reason, might arrive to the knowledge of a divine emanation or person, from the supreme first cause, which we call the Son of God; and the necessity of admitting of such an emanation. All the philosophers and priests of antiquity had this notion; as we read in Plato and many more.

Avebury Chapter XVI Of the third species of patriarchal temples, formed in the resemblance of a circle and wings. A description of one of this sort on the banks of the Humber in Lincolnshire. A very remarkable sort of barrows there, like to beds. This figure of the alate circle, the Egyptians called by the name of CNEPH; authors mistake in telling us it was the name of God. 'Tis indeed the symbol of the third divine emanation from the supreme, called the anima mundi. CNEPH is an oriental word, from canaph, to fly, עוף. The entire symbol, circle, snake and wings, was called CNEPHPTHA. Ptha more particularly meant the serpent, or symbol of the second divine person. The supreme, they held to be ineffable, as well as invisible, therefore symbolized him by the circle. The Neptune of the Greeks derived from CNEPH, דניא dunia, a circle added to Cneph, is circulus alatus. He was president of the waters, from Gen. i. 2. and the divine spirit moved upon the face of the waters. Hence this temple set on the edge of the Humber. Of the Egyptian Canopus. Another of these alate temples on Navestock-common in Essex. The word ganaph preserved in the name of the town. Knave, gnavus and knap, a teutonic word, all from the hebrew. Mr. Toland mentions an alate temple of the Druids in the hebrid islands, but does not altogether understand it. Of Abaris the hyperborean Druid, a friend of Pythagoras's. That the directive virtue of the magnetic needle was known anciently. The bed barrows on the Humber banks explained. A metaphysical disquisition concerning the Druids' knowledge of a third emanation or divine person, from the supreme; a truth agreeable to reason. This was the Mercury of the ancients, as well as Neptune. The names which the Druids gave to the three divine persons. Conclusion. They were in effect Christians.

Itinerarium Curiosum 1724 Itinerarium Curiosum, Or, An Account Of The Antiquities, And Remarkable Curiosities in Nature Or Art, Observed In Travels Through Great Britain. Illustrated With Copper Plates. Centuria I. The Second Edition, With Large Additions. By William Stukeley, M.D. F.R. & A.S.