Stonehenge, A Temple Restor'd to the British Druids, by William Stukeley, , at sacred-texts.com
A few years ago I spent some time every summer in viewing, measuring, and considering the works of the ancient Druids in our Island; I mean; I mean those remarkable circles of Stones which we find all over the kingdom, many of which I have seen, but of many more I have had accounts. Their greatness and number astonishd me, nor need I be afraid to say, their beauty and design, as well as antiquity, drew my particular attention. I could not help carrying my inquiries about them as far as I was able. My studies this way have producd a vast quantity of drawings and writing, which considerd as an intire work, may thus be intitled,
The parts of which the whole is composd are these:
I. Canon Mosaicæ Chronologiæ, or the year of Moses settled, by which he reckons time in the history of the old world; the time of the year fixd when creation was begun. This is done in a new manner, and becomes an intire system of chronology from the creation to the Exodus, and is exemplified by many particular Kalendars of the most remarkable transactions; which are proofs of the truth of the Canon. There are interspersed a great many astronomical and historical illustrations of the sacred pages, particularly Sanchoniathon's genealogies, and Manethon's Egyptian Dynasties, are applied in a new Method to the history and chronology of the Scriptures.
II. Melchisedec, or a delineation of the first and patriarchal religion, from the best light we can gather in the sacred history; and from the most ancient heathen customs, which were remains of that religion. In this Treatise it is shewn, that the first religion was no other than Christianity, the Mosaic dispensation, as a veil, intervening; that all mankind from the creation had a knowledge of the plurality of persons in the Deity.
III. Of the mysteries of the ancients, one of the first deviations from true religion, to idolatry; this is chiefly pursud in an explication of the famous table of Isis, or Bembin-table, publishd by Pignorius, Kircher, &c. wherein that knowledge which the ancients had concerning the true nature of the Deity, is further explaind.
IV. A discourse on the hieroglyphic learning of the ancients, and of the origin of the alphabet of letters. Very many hieroglyphic monuments of the Egyptians are explaind, more especially those that relate to their true notions of the persons in the Deity. The time and rise of the alphabet of letters is deducd from a new foundation. The present square Hebrew characters are shewn to be the primitive idea of letters, from whence all others are derivd. Whence the idea of every letter was taken? an explanation of all the old Hebrew coins with Samaritan characters.
V. The patriarchal history, particularly of Abraham, is largely pursud; and the deduction of the Phnician colony into the Island of Britain, about or soon after his time; whence the origin of the Druids, of their Religion and writing; they brought the patriarchal Religion along with them, and same knowledge of symbols or hieroglyphics, like those of the ancient Egyptians; they had the notion and expectation of the Messiah, and of the time of the year when he was to be born, of his office and death.
VI. Of the Temples of the Druids in Britain, their religious rites, orders, sacrifices, groves, tombs, their cursus's, places of forts and exercises, &c. particularly an ample and accurate description of that stupendous temple of theirs at Abury in North Wiltshire, the most august work at this day upon the globe of the earth; with many prints of ground plots, views and admeasurements of all its parts; of their manner of sepulture; an account of my digging into many of their barrows and tumuli, with drawings of them, &c.
VII. Of the celebrated Stonehenge, another Temple of theirs, with prints of that work; an account of the barrows I dug up, and what was discoverd in then; of the knowledge the Druids had of the magnetical compass, and conjectures of the particular times when these works were made, long before Cæsar arrivd in Britain.
I propose to publish these two first, and proceed to the speculative parts afterwards; reserving them, God willing, to the maturer time of my life.
My intent is (besides preserving the memory of these extraordinary monuments, so much to the honour of our country, now in great danger of ruin) to promote, as much as I am able, the knowledge and practice of ancient and true Religion; to revive in the minds of the learned the spirit of Christianity, nearly as old as the Creation, which is now languishing among us; to restore the first and great Idea of the Deity, who has carryd on the same regular and golden chain of Religion from the beginning to this day; to warm our hearts into that true sense of Religion, which keeps the medium between ignorant superstition and learned free-thinking, between slovenly fanaticism and popish pageantry, between enthusiasm and the rational worship of God, which is no where upon earth done, in my judgment, better than in the Church of England. And feeing a spirit of Scepticism has of late become so fashionable and audacious as to strike at the fundamentals of all revelation, I have endeavoured to trace it back to the fountain of Divinity, whence it flows; and shew that Religion is one system as old as the world, and that is the Christian Religion; that God did not leave the rational part of his creation, like the colony of an ant-hill, with no other guide than instinct, but proportiond his discoveries to the age of the world, to the learning, wisdom, and experience of it; as a wise parent does now to his children. I shall shew likewise, that our predecessors, the Druids of Britain, tho left in the extremest west to the improvement of their own thoughts, yet advancd their inquiries, under all disadvantages, to such heights, as should make our moderns ashamd, to wink in the sunshine of learning and religion. And we may with reason conclude, there was somewhat very extraordinary in those principles, which prompted them to such a noble spirit as produced these works, still visible with us, which for grandeur, simplicity and antiquity, exceed any of the European wonders.
That the doctrines and works of the Druids have hitherto been so little considered (since authors only transcribe from one to another, the few remaining scraps to be found in classic writers) was an incentive to me likewise in the following attempt, and at the same time it pleads for me, and bespeaks the reader's favour. I want likewise the great advantages to be had from a knowledge of the remaining Celtic languages, books, manuscripts, and history, the Cornish, Welsh, Irish, Highland, &c. the chief repository now of their doctrines and customs; so that in my own opinion I may very well say with the poet,
And tho there has been of late a large volume publish'd on the subject of Stonehenge, yet we may well say there has nothing been wrote upon the subject. Nor have I any other notion of this performance, than that it is as a first attempt to say something upon those famous philosophers and priests the Druids, who are never spoken of in antiquity but with a note of admiration; and are always rankd with the Magi of the Persians, the gymnosophists of the Indians, the prophets and hierophants of the Egyptians, and those sort of patriarchal priests, whose orders commencd before idolatry began; from whom the Pythagoreans, Platonists, and Greek philosophers learnd the best things they knew. To clear away rubbish, and lay a foundation only, in this difficult and obscure work, is doing somewhat. The method of writing which I have chose is a diffusive one, not pretending to a formal and stiff scholastic proof of every thing I say, which would be odious and irksome to the reader, as well as myself. The knowledge I have acquired in these matters, was from examining and studying their works; the proofs are derivd from distant and different topicks, and it would be very inconvenient to marshal them syllogistically in a work of this nature; the proof results from the intire work; in all matters of so great antiquity it must be found out by the reader; and to one that has proper sagacity and judgment, conviction will steal upon him insensibly, if I am not mistaken; and he will own the evidence in general, is as strong as the nature of the subject will bear, or requires.
It was very disagreeable to me that I was forcd to combat against a book publishd in the name of the celebrated Inigo Jones, for whose memory I have the greatest regard. I wonder the publisher of that work did not think of a very easy method to convince himself that he was in an error. If Stonehenge is a Roman work, it was certainly built by the Roman scale; had he reducd his own measures to that standard, he would have seen the absurdity of his opinion; for we cannot think that a temple, or elegant building, as he would have it, should not shew its founders by the scale on which it is formd; they are all fractions in the Roman scale, undoubted evidence that the Romans had no hand in it. For there is no meaning, no design in the choice of the measures, neither in general nor particular; a thing unworthy of a great architect, or a great design. But it appears very evident to me, that Inigo Jones had little or no part in that work, especially as it is moulded at present; and I think I have reason to be of opinion that he never drew the designs therein published, because I should be unwilling to say he knowingly falsified them. I have very much shortened what I had to say against that book, because I have no love for wrangling, and barely mentiond what was necessary, that the reader may have a true notion of this noble antiquity.