Books, Prehistory, The Beauties of Wiltshire

The Beauties of Wiltshire is in Prehistory.

Books, Prehistory, The Beauties of Wiltshire Section XII

Account Of Avebury And The Vast Ancient Temple And Earth Works There—Opinions Of Different Authors On The Subject—Cromlechs, Barrows, Hill—Wansdyke.

Avebury1, or Abury, is a village about six miles west of Marlborough and nearly nineteen directly north of Stonehenge. In Domesday Book it is stated, that Rainboldus, a priest, held the Church of "Avreberie," (Avebury) of the King, together with two hides of land, worth forty shillings3. The manor, in the reign of Henry the First, belonged to William de Tankerville, who gave it to the Benedictine monks of St. George of Bocherville, so that it became an alien priory. Having been seized by one of the predecessors of Richard the Second, that prince granted it to New College, Oxford. In the next king's reign it was given to the collegiate church of Fotheringhay, and, with other property of that establishment, came into the possession of Sir W. Sharington in the 2d of Edward the Sixtht.

Note 1. Dr. Stukeley calls this place Abury, and Sir R. Hoare adopts the same spelling: — Aubrey says it ought to be called Aubury," because it is so written in the leger book of Malmsbury Abbey, and in the records of the town. I have adopted the term Avebury from an old monument in the church, and from the present practice at the place, in spite of my esteemed countryman's sneer, who says it is " writt Avebury by ignorant scribes." The etymology seems obviously Auld-bury or Old-bury, i. e. the Old or pre-eminent cas- trametation, embankment, &c.

Note 2. Concerning the life Of Merlin, that there was such a man I hold it certaine, and that he had a castele in Wiltshire called after him Merlin's barie (now Marleborow), is verie likely: the Old ruines whereof are yet seene in our highway from Bath to London. Also the great stones, of unmeasurable bignesse and number, that lie scattered about the place, have given occasion to some to report, and others to believe, wondrous stratagems wrought by his great skill in magike, as likewise the great stones at Stonage on Salisburie plaine, which the ignorant people believe he brought out of Ireland: and indeed the wiser sort can rather marvell at, than tell either why or how they were set there."— Orlando Furioso, in English Heroical Verse. By Sir John Harington, of Bathe, Knight. 1591. Folio. p. 22. Notes on book iii.

Note 3. Wyndham's Wiltshire, p. 50.

Note 4. Tanner's "Notitia Monastica, Wiltshire."

The chief part of the village is disposed within the circuit of the vast mound which surrounded the ancient stone circles of Avebury, and the houses, walls, &c. have been partly erected with the stones which formerly composed the temple. The Church exhibits some remains of Norman architecture, and consists of a nave, two ailes, and a chancel, with a square tower at the west end. The ailes till lately were separated from the nave by plain, simple, semicircular arches supported by square piers ; and attached to the angles were small mouldings, resembling columns, with bases and capitals. Some repairs having been requisite, a few years ago, the old arches and piers were taken away, and their places supplied by tall, meagre arches, and thin, slight columns, quite incongruous with the general character of the building. The tower is surmounted by battlements and pinnacles, and there is a range of battlements on the south side of the body of the church. The entrance doorway is formed' by semicircular arch, with zig-zag mouldings, springing from rude capitals. The. Font is. ancient and curious. It consists of a, circular basin, fixed on a square stone basement. The upper part of the exterior is ornamented with scroll-work, beneath which is a range of intersect- ing semicircular arches resting on twenty-two pillars, the bases of which are placed in a fillet surrounding the font. To the west of the church is the Mansion-house, which Aubrey says was built by Dunches temp. Reg. Elizabethæ." He mentions another fair house not far from it," both of which, with the church, he says, were erected with the broken stones of the temple. Avebury has peculiar claims on the notice of the antiquary, on account of the great stone circles, &c. which formerly characterised this place, and which, in their pristine state, must have been more curious and important than those at any other spot in the British Isles. For various reasons, however, the antique monument, or temple as it is more gene- rally called, at Avebury, although situated in the immediate vicinity of a route so much frequented as that between the metropolis and Bath and Bristol, has, in general, been but little known, and has excited very little inquiry. This is the more surprising, when we consider what learning and ingenuity have been applied to explain and illus- trate the history and design of Stonehenge,—a monument undoubtedly of great interest for its antiquity, its regularity of form, and the evident traces of human labour employed, not only in raising the blocks of stone, but in preparing many of them for the peculiar situations they were to occupy. Of this previous preparation, the stones at Avebury present no indications, for the prodigious masses which enter into the composition of the monument furnish no proof of their ever having been fashioned by the hand of man.

Why Avebury has been deprived of its due portion of public notice and admiration, when compared with Stonehenge, may be thus accounted for: the latter, placed on a commanding and conspicuous spot, in the midst of. an open plain, visible from three public roads, and in the vicinity of the populous city of Salisbury, has attracted the attention of many curious travellers, and several essays and treatises have been published concerning it. The singularity of its having large and ponderous masses Of stone placed, and secured as imposts on pairs of upright columns, is well calculated to excite the attention of spectators and antiquaries ; at the same time that such artificial structure seems inconsistent with the idea of its being a work of that remote age to which the construction has sometimes been ascribed. In all these circumstances, Stonehenge has much the advantage over the temple at Avebury. Placed in a low situation, and not visible as a whole work from any one point, the latter monument has been successively invaded and mutilated by the farmers and the other inhabitants of the village which has been partly formed within its area; and its existing relics, vast and stupendous as some of them are, have been obscured or concealed by hedges, trees, and houses. To these disadvantages it must be added, that, with the exception of Dr. Stukeley's scarce and expensive folio volume, but little has been published, till within these few years, concerning Avebury. As an object, however, of very remote antiquity,—as serving to indicate the rites and customs of a people whose history is now unknown, this temple is peculiarly calculated to excite antiquarian curiosity, and to demand antiquarian investigation. To convey to the reader distinct and accurate ideas of this curious vestige of a remote age, plans and views of its present impaired state, and conjectural representations of what might have been its appearance in former times, would be requisite; but to furnish such representations does not come within the design of the present publication. I shall, therefore, merely describe the monument as it now appears; endeavour to point out, from the existing remains, its original extent and form; and then select from the observations of other authors, concerning this and similar structures, such statements as seem best calculated to ascertain the period and elucidate the object of its erection.

In the midst of a wide tract of generally flat country, bounded by a continued but irregular range of hills, at the distance of a mile on the east, by another range more lofty, about three miles to the south, and by rising grounds on the west and north, is situated the village of Avebury; the greater part of which is encircled by a deep and wide ditch, and a lofty rampart, or, as Aubrey calls them, a graff and a vallum. Within the enclosure are some very large masses or blocks of stone, standing erect, whilst others lie on the ground. At some distance, to the south of the village, other stones are seen, ...

Books, Prehistory, The Beauties of Wiltshire:Luckington

LUCKINGTON.—About seven miles to the west of Malmesbury is situated the village of Luckington or Lockington, near which rises the principal branch of the river Avon. The parish consists of about 1200 acres. Two manors, denominated "Lochintone," occur in the Domesday survey of Wiltshire, one of which was held by Durand de Gloucester, and before the Conquest, had been the property of King Harold. The other belonged to Ralph de Mortemer, the proprietor of Hullavington, Alderton, In the reign of Henry the Fourth, Richard de St. Maur, or Seymour, died seised of the lordship. His son Richard left an only daughter, who married William, Lord Zouche, of Haringworth, whose son inherited the honours and estates of his maternal ancestors.

In this parish, between the village and Badminton, is a tumulus called Long-barrow [Giant's Cave Long Barrow [Map]], in which are some Caves, said to be nine in number. They are formed of long stones set upon their sides, with other broader stones on the top. According to Aubrey, they were accidentally discovered about the year 1646. Spurs and fragments of armour have been found in or near these caves, which have hence been supposed to be the graves of warriors slain in battle. Sir R. C. Hoare says, "From the experience I have lately had in similar antiquities, I can with safety pronounce this to have been a long barrow with a kistvaen, (as at Lugbury [Map],) placed at the east end; and it is very probable that the oblong stone inclosures on the sides of the barrow may have also been appropriated to sepulchral purposes1." In 1809, another barrow was levelled, and found to contain the remains of several human skeletons.

Note 1. Ancient Wiltshire, Roman Æra," p. 102.