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Stukeley, Avebury and the Druids

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

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There have been few tendencies in the history of English culture with so profound a contemporary influence as the so-called Romantic Movement of the 18th and early 19th centuries, and still fewer with such a strangely assorted progeny. That toying with ‘the Gothick’, which produced such early jeux d'esprit as Walpole's Strawberry Hill or Beckford's Fonthill, led, on the one hand, to the Albert Memorial, and, on the other, to the sculpture of Eric Gill; in literature, while the Romantics founded an honourable poetic tradition extending from Collins through Wordsworth to Blunden, it is surely not fantastic to see in such works as Lewis' Bravo of Venice the genesis of the modern thriller. Most strange of all, one outcome of the Romantic Movement was a new branch of science. For prehistoric archaeology in England was not the product of the classical lore so eagerly absorbed from Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries, but originated in those eccentric gentlemen of the 18th century who perambulated the countryside studying at first hand the antiquities of their own forefathers.

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd 1935


1 Bodleian Quarterly Record, October 1924, no. 43, 149.Google Scholar

2 The writer owes a debt of gratitude to Mr Keiller not only for indicating in the first place the possibilities of the MSS., and suggesting the research of which this paper is an outcome, but for placing them unreservedly at his disposal and giving every facility for their study.

3 Where the source is not otherwise given, the details of Stukeley’s life are derived from Lukis’ published work referred to above.

4 A.K. MSS.

5 MS. History of the Society of Antiquaries (A.K.)

6 Long, W. Abury Illustrated, (Devizes, 1862), 61.Google Scholar (Reprinted from Wilts Arch. Mag. IV and VII, but with additions not published elsewhere).

7 Commonplace Book 1717–1748, in the library of the Wiltshire Archaeological Society at Devizes.

8 Kendrick, T.D. The Druids (1927), 8.Google Scholar

9 In the Commonplace Book at Devizes.

10 Avebury Drawings (A.K.)

11 Proof Plates, no. 62 (A.K.)

12 Ibid. no. 61 (A.K.)

13 Avebury Drawings (A.K.)

14 A.K. MSS.

15 The original MS. is in the A.K. Collection.

16 ANTIQUITY, 1934, 8, 3289 (plates I, II).Google Scholar

17 For Stukeley’s masonic career see Gould, R.F. in Ars Quatum Coronatorum, VI.Google Scholar

18 MS. Gough Maps, 231, 9v 54r.

19 Avebury Drawings (A.K.)

20 ANTIQUITY, 1933, VII, 4960.Google Scholar

21 MS. entitled Knaves Acre, written c. 1760 (A.K.)