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Wiltshire are almost everywhere scored by terraces or lynchets, attesting the long action of the plough upon their slopes; and the foundations of large villages and frequent enclosures are scattered abundantly over their surface. It has been usually supposed that the hills were resorted to only for safe residence when the plains beneath were occupied by the victorious invaders. But it seems more probable that the vales were in those early times so obstructed by dense forests and undrained marshes as to be unfitted for agriculture or pasturage, unhealthy in climate, and almost impenetrable through want of roads; while the hills, though comparatively bare of soil, being generally dry, open, healthy, and easy to till or to graze, offered greater inducements to industrial settlement, independently of their facilities for defence against invaders.

Some portions of the downs, however, were doubtless from the first covered with wild forests, of which remnants still exist in Groveley and Greatridge Woods, Savernake and Clarendon Forests, and Aldbourne and Cranbourne Chaces.

No county in England possesses more numerous or more interesting remains of its aboriginal inhabitants than Wiltshire. Stonehenge and Avebury are to Britain what the pyramids are to Egypt or the cave-temples to India—the mighty and mysterious monuments of an unknown antiquity. They have no parallel in any other part of the island ; and over the downs generally are scattered in profusion, as has been already said, British camps and earthworks, boundary ditches and track ways, foundations of houses aud villages ; above all, innumerable sepulchral mounds or barrows--some, like Silbury, of colossal size-attesting the longcontinued occupation of their surface by the Celtic tribes who are supposed to have first colonised Britain. The Romans and Saxons likewise left abundant traces of their sojourn in Ancient Wiltshire,' which has bad the advantage of a zealous and munificent historiographer in Sir Richard Hoare. Unfortunately, the great bulk and consequent costliness of his (literally) great work under this title has placed it out of the reach of ordinary libraries. To Sir Richard also the county is indebted for the publication (but on an almost equally expensive scale), under the name of Modern Wiltshire,' of the later history of its seven or eight southern hundreds, comprising nearly one half of its entire

The northern half as yet remains without a history, if we except a few separate publications relating to single towns or manors, recently brought out by independent topographers, or appearing in the magazine of the Wiltshire Archæological Society, which was founded in 1853. The southern hundreds, though printed at the expense of Sir Richard Hoare, were written chiefly



by a knot of congenial friends and lovers of topography, who, in his lifetime, were wont to congregate in his well-stocked library at Stourbead. Few of these now survive; but the names of Arundel, Cunnington, Offer, Bowles, Harris, Wansey, Benson, Hatcher, Matcham, Hunter, Black, and Nicholls, will be held in grateful remembrance, together with that of Richard Colt Hoare, by generations of Wiltshire men yet unborn. One of the survivors, Mr. Joseph Hunter, lately recorded his recollections of these gatherings in an interesting paper read before the meeting of the Archæological Institute, held at Salisbury in 1849 ; and the character of the place itself, as well as of its proprietor, was feelingly sketched by another of its frequent guests, "Poet Bowles,' in lines not unworthy of his reputation, beginning

"And thou
Witness Elysian Tempe of Stourhead,
Whose classic temples gleam along the edge
Of the clear waters, winding beautiful,' &c.

Days Departed, p. 18. Among the meritorious labours of Sir Richard Hoare, not the least was his indefatigable exploration of many hundred barrows among the Wiltshire hills, the position and contents of which are duly chronicled in his work. In these labours he had the able assistance of Mr. William Cunnington, who, indeed, preceded him in the search, and was his chief agent in its prosecution.

Such earthen mounds or tumuli were the burial-places of the distinguished dead through many stages of society, from the rudest to that which marks a certain progress in civilization. In these repositories, together with bones of individuals of both sexes and of all ages, weapons of several kinds, in bone and stone, brass and iron, have been found; and ornaments of horn, glass, jet, amber, brass, and in some instances, of gold. The contents of some few indicate a Saxon, and perhaps Christian origin. But the great bulk are unquestionably British and Pagan. If venison is good living, then the old Britons must have lived well, for the horns of deer, together with hunting-spear heads, are of very frequent occurrence in their sepulchres. The largest barrow in England probably is Silbury Hill, which those who are old enough to have travelled the dreary old Bath road by Beckhampton to Marlborough will well remember. It is a perfect cone, except that the top is flattened. Its sides slope at an angle of about 35°; its height is 135 feet, and its diameter at the base 500 feet. It covers an area of five acres. It has been opened more than once : in 1777,



from the top, and again in 1849, by means of a tunnel bored through one side; but no interment, nor indeed anything whatever, was on either occasion found. From its proximity to the great serpent temples of Avebury, some have reasonably conjectured that its purpose was not sepulchral, like the ordinary barrows, but perhaps to afford a high position whence the chieftains or priests might view and direct the solemn processions and sacred rites celebrated in that mystic area. The name Sil- or Sul-bury is suggestive of the god Sul or Sol, to whom the hotsprings of Bath, 'aquæ Sulis,' were certainly dedicated, and who was probably worshipped in the adjoining fane.

The quaint and amusing Wiltshire antiquary of the seventeenth century, John Aubrey, who may be called the discoverer of Avebury, since its existence was unknown to Leland or Camden, had the honour and gratification of showing this Cyclopean monument to Charles II., in the year 1663, and also of walking his Majesty and the Duke of York up to the top of Silbury Hill; where, he says, the merry monarch amused himself by picking up snail-shells. Probably

* The things, he thought, were neither rich nor rare,

But wonder'd how the d—1 they got there.' Charles had a few years before spent a less agreeable hour at Stonehenge, and had then employed himself-while waiting for the friends who were to assist his escape from the island after the battle of Worcester—by counting the stones over and over, in order to test the tradition that no one could count them twice alike, which he convinced himself to be a vulgar error. The frivolity of mind which was this Prince's chief characteristic, peeps out in these small matters very drolly.

In Aubrey's opinion the temple at Avebury as much exceeds Stonehenge as a cathedral does a parish church. But this was the partiality of a discoverer. The stone circles of Avebury no doubt suffer under the disadvantage of standing in the midst of houses, hedges, and orchards, in place of the lone surrounding waste to which we think Stonehenge owes much of its imposing grandeur. Avebury too, from the same cause, has been exposed to excessive dilapidation for building and other uses. It is only within a few years that a check has been put upon the practice of breaking up its few remaining colossal pillars for road material. Indeed nearly the whole of the once continuous avenue of upright stones has disappeared through this barbarous spoliation. Stonehenge must, however, at all times have been the grander temple of the two. It has also more of an architectural character ; the great pillars of its outer circle having been roughly-squared,


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and connected by a continuous circle of horizontal imposts with mortice-holes hewn in them to receive corresponding projections, or tenons, at the top of each upright stone. The five inner trilithons, moreover, are of dimensions far exceeding anything at Avebury, and, when perfect, the edifice-if such it can be called—as a whole must have possessed a majestic character. It is sometimes said that Stonehenge disappoints expectation; its vastness being lost in the expanse of open country around.

This is purely a matter of feeling, and not to be argued on. We ourselves have certainly been far more strongly impressed by its sublimity and mystery, by reason of the absolute solitude that surrounds it. Its strange giant-like outlines loom from a distance upon the traveller's eye through the hazy atmosphere of the Downs, and affect his imagination with a sense of wonder and reverential admiration which he WO scarcely feel if he saw it surrounded by incongruous objects. In this respect it resembles the temples of Pæstum and Segesta, which by general admission owe much of their imposing effect to their isolated position. The awe inspired by Stonehenge is heightened by the mystery that enshrouds its origin and purpose. In spite of all the learned lucubrations that have been employed in the attempt to solve these problems, from the profound 'Stukeley to the imaginative Duke, they remain to this day as doubtful as ever. The Celtic Isis has not yet withdrawn her veil at the wooings of any of her curious worshippers. Its astronomical import has generally been argued from the numbers and position of the stones composing its several circles. It has been considered in fact a kind of stone almanac, observatory, zodiac, and Orrery, all in one; as well as a temple of the sun; while the two separate circles of Avebury, with the serpentine avenue connecting them, have been supposed to be similar representative fanes for the worship of the Sun and Moon. Unfortunately, however, scarcely any two of the learned interpreters of these mysteries agree together on the mystical meaning to be attached to its different circles or stones. The story given in the British Chronicle of its foundation by Merlin at the instance of Emrys, King of the Britons, in the fifth century, as a memorial of the treacherous murder of his predecessor Vortigern by Hengist on this spot, is of very apocryphal character. In the midst of so much that is mythical, it is pleasant to be able to rest upon such facts as geology affords in relation to this stupendous monument of an unknown antiquity. The great stones of both the outer circle and pentagonal ellipse are hewn from concretionary masses of siliceous grit, belonging to tertiary strata of the age of the Bagshot sand, many of which show themselves in Vol. 103.-No. 205.


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situ in several neighbouring hollows of the chalk downs. These go by the local names of sarsen-stones or grey-wethers,—the latter from the resemblance they bear, when they pierce the turf in numbers, to a flock of sheep; the former meaning, perhaps, Saracen (or Pagan), an epithet which, after their conversion to Christianity, the Saxons may be supposed to have applied to the stones composing these ancient heathen temples. The small stones of the intermediate circle, as well as of the inner ellipse, are of granite, and must have been brought from a much greater distance, probably from Dartmoor. The altar-stone on which the Druids are usually supposed to have immolated human victims, or-as Mr. Duke prefers calling it—the stone of astronomical observation, is a coarse-grained basalt or dolerite,' derived perhaps from some of the Elvan dykes of the same district of Devon. It has been sometimes made a matter of needless marvel how the larger stones could have been conveyed to this spot from distances even of a few miles. But, in fact, the biggest pillar at Stonehenge is a trifle in comparison with some of the monolithic obelisks of Egypt. And the sculptures of Nineveh show by what simple means the rude force of numbers was in the earliest ages successfully applied to the transport of similar masses.

The downs around Stonehenge are thickly sprinkled with barrows; and close at hand are the earthworks called Vespasian's Camp, and the Cursus, whatever that may have been. In the narrow vale beneath lies Amesbury, by some supposed to be Ambres-burh, answering to the Welsh Caer Emrys, the City of Ambrosius. At no great distance upon the opposite hill rises the colossal mound of Old Sarum—a sort of Wiltshire Nineveh. Here, however, history is no longer entirely silent; telling the tale, not indeed of its erection, but of its desertion. Whoever may have originally founded it-whether or not it derived its name of Saris-burh from the great Roman Conqueror, Cæsaris oppidum,—the four Roman roads that meet at the spot prove it to have been a station of the Italian legions. Alfred certainly strengthened its bulwarks. King Edgar held there a National Council to devise the means of repelling the aggression of the Danes. And if we are to believe Henry of Huntingdon, the Conqueror, in 1085, convened upon the same spot his prelates, nobles, sheriffs, and knights, and there first and finally partitioned out alí England into the grand system of feudal tenures, recorded in that still authentic survey and register of its territorial divisions which he then commanded to be made-Domesday Book. No small amount this of historical-or should it be called pre-historical ?-fame, to be laid claim to by a bare, rude,


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