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The Most Notable Antiquity of Great Britain, Vulgarly Called Stone-Heng on Salisbury Plain Restored by Inigo Jones Esquire, Architect Generall to the late King

100 pages
Library of Alexandria
Being naturally inclined in my younger years to study the Arts of Designe, I passed into forrain parts to converse with the great Masters thereof in Italy; where I applied my self to search out the ruines of those ancient Buildings, which in despight of Time it self, and violence of Barbarians are yet remaining. Having satisfied my self in these, and returning to my native Countrey, I applied my minde more particularly to the study of Architecture. Among the ancient monuments whereof, found here, I deemed none more worthy the searching after, then this of Stoneheng; not only in regard of the Founders thereof, the Time when built, the Work it self, but also for the rarity of its Invention, being different in Forme from all I had seen before: likewise, of as beautifull Proportions, as elegant in Order, and as stately in Aspect, as any. King James, in his progresse, the year one thousand six hundred and twenty, being at Wilton, and discoursing of this Antiquity, I was sent for by the right Honourable William then Earl of Pembrook, and received there his Majesties commands to produce out of mine own practise in Architecture, and experience in Antiquities abroad, what possibly I could discover concerning this of Stoneheng. What mine opinion was then, and what I have since collected in relation thereunto; I intend to make the subject of this present Treatise. And certainly, in the intricate, and obscure study of Antiquity it is far easier (as Camden very well observes) to refute and contradict a false, then to set down a true and certain resolution. For mine own part, in what I shall here deliver, I intend not to struggle against any opinion commonly, and long since received. Let every man judge as it pleaseth him. What opinion soever the Reader inclines to, I shall not make much materiall, my aime being, a desire only to vindicate, as much as in me lies, the Founders of this venerable Antiquity from oblivion, and to make the truth, as far forth as possibly I may, appeare to all men. Severall Writers, both Strangers, and our own Countreymen, have treated of Stoneheng. Before recite whole opinions, I think not amisse to seek this subject from the most ancient times, endevouring thereby to give satisfaction whether or no, the Druides, aliàsDruidæ (in Authors indifferently written, and in old time the Priests of the Britans and Gauls) or the ancient Britans, for the Druid’suse, might not be the Founders of so notable a monument; which if they were, there is then no cause why bestow farther study or pains, in searching who the Founders were, but acquiesce in the honour of our own Nations first erection of it. As far neverthelesse, as from History ancient or moderne may be gathered, there is little likelyhood of any such matter, considering especially what the Druid’s were; also, what small experience the Britans, anciently inhabiting this Isle, had, in knowledge of what ever Arts, much lesse of building, with like elegancy and proportion, such goodly works as Stoneheng. Concerning the Druid’s in the first place, true it is, they are reported in ancient times, to have been in great esteeme in this Island, where their discipline, and manner of learning, was supposed to be first invented, and from hence translated into Gaul.Disciplina in Britannia reperta (saith Cæsar) Cæsar. Commen. lib. 6. atque inde in Galliam translata esse existimatur. They are said in like manner no have ordered and disposed all divine matters, as well in relation to their severall kinds of Sacrifices, as to expounding whatever rites of their idolatrous superstition;Plin. lib. 16. insomuch, you may call them (if you please) the Bishops and Clergy of that Age.