The perception that Stonehenge, in frequent with different megalithic stays within the British Isles — menhirs, dolmens, and circles, — is druidical, and that the majestic group of ruins on Salisbury Plain was the Westminster Abbey of the Druids in Britain, is extensively held, and particularly by the non-scientific public. It has discovered expression in most of the older Ordnance maps, wherein the time period druidical is utilized to teams of prehistoric stays which are actually recognized to belong to the Neolithic or Bronze Age. This error will probably be erased in future editions.
It has additionally led inside latest years to the formation of a sect at Clapham who assume that they’re the heirs of the Druids, and as such declare the suitable to bury the ashes of their lifeless at Stonehenge, which they view because the Mecca of their religion. From their very own account it seems that they’ve already buried the ashes of a few of their members and the our bodies of a few of their kids inside the precincts. No matter they do sooner or later, we glance to the Board of Works to forestall additional desecration of the noblest pre-historic monument in Europe, or any interference with the exploration now being carried on by the Society of Antiquaries and the Wiltshire Archeological Society.
Stonehenge has excited the imaginations of many writers, starting with Geoffrey of Monmouth within the first half of the twelfth century, who tells us that the stones had been introduced by the magic artwork of Merlin from Eire. Within the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries antiquaries had been nearly unanimous in assigning it to the Druids, and even in lately views have been superior that it was constructed on designs introduced from Egypt, and that it was a type of astronomical temple constructed by Chaldean or Egyptian priest-astronomers for the commentary of the solar and stars. It’s ineffective to criticise these improbable speculations. Let as take into account the outcomes of contemporary researches into origin and date.
The construction of Stonehenge signifies that it was constructed at totally different occasions, characterised by means of totally different constructing supplies. The interior small horseshoe, or apse, and the interior circle of reasonably sized blocks consists of international stones, which have not too long ago been traced by Mr Thomas of the Geological Survey of Nice Britain, to their quarries at Prescelly in Pembrokeshire. They most likely belong to the unique constructing, whereas the outer horse-shoe, or apse, and the outer ring of giant blocks of the Sarsen stone discovered within the neighbouring downs are most likely later additions.
It might be unattainable, as identified by Dr Gowland, for the interior apse of gigantic trilithons to have been erected with out disturbance of the interior circle of stones imported from Wales, however there can be no issue in these stones being eliminated and changed when the later work was accomplished. However, they could have initially occupied the holes within the vallum, or ramp, surrounding the outer ring of Sarsens at a distance of about 100 toes, and afterwards have been transferred to their current place. Within the latter case the older Stonehenge would fall in keeping with different comparable stone circles in Britain and on the Continent, though it differs from all in its trilithons and within the ring of stone crowning the outer circle. It’s in these respects a extra extremely developed constructing than the remainder, and possibly belongs to a later interval.