Books, Prehistory, The Ancient History of Wiltshire by Richard Colt Hoare Volume 1, Station 5 Amesbury South

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Station 5 Amesbury South is in The Ancient History of Wiltshire by Richard Colt Hoare Volume 1.

In my account of Stonehenge, took occasion to notice the very improbable idea, that the British King Ambrosius had imparted his name to the adjoining town of Amesbury; and we must now endeavour to trace its derivation to a more remote, more probable, and more dignified origin. There can be but one opinion respecting the high antiquity of the temple OF Stonehenge, and the numerous sepulchral memorials around it, [some of which I have proved, in more than one instance, to have been raised since the construction of the building,] seem to attest the high veneration in which it was held by the Britons; thither they resorted as to the GREAT SANCTUARY OF THE DOMINION, and there they seemed desirous that their ashes should be deposited. In short, Stonehenge was to the what MECCA is now to the Turks.

I need not, by torturing etymology, endeavour to seek for an appropriate derivation for the word Amesbury or Ambrcsbury, as it has been frequently denominated; for in Ambres-bury, we recognize the town of the Ambres. Camden. in his description of Cornwall, tells us that near Pensans there was a noted stone called Maen Amber, which, though of vast bigness; you might move with your little finger; notwithstanding which, a great number of men could not remove it out of the place. It was, however, thrown down during civil wars by the Governor of Pendennis. The Cornish historian, Mr. Norden, supposes these stones were so set, and subtly combined, not by art, but by nature, and by referring to the drawing he has given of it, I am inclined to be of the same opinion.

Maen Amber signifies Lapis Ambrosius, or Petra Ambrosia, derived from the British word mean, a stone, and [Greek Text], divine or holy. Dr. Stukeley, in his description of Stonehenge, at page 50, has engraved one of the coins belonging to the city of Tyre, on which are represented two large upright stones placed before an altar, with the inscription of PETRE. I find also another coin in Vaillant, with a similar inscription. From these authorities, I think we may reasonably infer, that the modern name of Amesbury or Ambresbury, derives its origin from the mant ambres, or fetræ atnbrosiæ, and not from the British Emperor Aurelius Ambrosius,

Iter I. Let us now commence our perambulation of the southern district, of this station, which is separated from the northern by the turnpike road leading from Wily through Amesbury to London. Passing through Vespasian's Camp, I deviate on the left the little hamlet of West Amesbury in search of some antiquities, thus recorded by Mr. Aubrey, in his Monumenta Britannica: "There is place called the King's Grave, where is now the sheep penning of West Amesbury. Here doe appeare five small barrowes, at one corner of the Penning. At the ends of the graves there were stones, which the people of late (about 1640) have away: for stones, except flints, are exceeding scarce in these partes. 'Tis said here there were some letters on these stones, but what they were I cannot learne." In another part of his manuscript, he says, "neare to the farm house of West Amesbury, is a great ditch, where have been found rowells of spurres and other thinges, and near to the Penning is Normanton ditch, but why so called no tradition, Within the same farm is a place called PITT POOLE, wherein a king upon his escape riding hastily downe the steepe shoot was drowned."

In vain I searched for all these matters, for the remembrance of them exists not even by tradition. was enabled, however, to ascertain the position of West Amesbury Penning, which lies in a little vale between tumuli 134 and 137. The Kino's Grave was a large solitary barrow on the hill above the river, on which a clump of trees has been planted, and is called King Barrow by Dr. Stukeley. Though all traces of the name of PITT POOLE are lost, its situation is clearly pointed out by the steepe shoot above the river. I could find no vestiges whatever of any ditch answering Mr. Aubrey's description, on Normanton Farm.

I must now resume the account of our researches in the very numerous tumuli with which this district abounds, No. 128, 129, 130.