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Dressing The Stones
Raising The Foreign Stones
Salisbury Plain
Stonehenge
Stonehenge Summarised Useful Facts For The Attention Of Visitors
Tenons And Mortices
The Barrows Of Salisbury Plain
The Building Of Stonehenge
The Druid Question
The Earthwork
The Foreign Stones
The Hele Stone Or Friar's Heel
The Legend Of The Friar's Heel
The Lithology Of Stonehenge
The Men Of The Barrows
The Process Of Erection
The Round Barrows
The Slaughtering Stone
The Stones Without The Circle
The Story Of The Sarsens
Valedictory
What Was Stonehenge?
When Was Stonehenge Erected?



Salisbury Plain








We passed over the goodly plain, or rather sea of carpet, which I
think for evenness, extent, verdure, and innumerable flocks, to be
one of the most delightful prospects in nature.--Evelyn's
Diary, 1654.


There is not a county in England which does not pride itself upon some
outstanding characteristic which places it in a category by itself.
And if there be a thing particularly characteristic of Wiltshire, it
is the Plain of which John Evelyn above quoted has written so
kindly.

The word Plain is somewhat misleading, for the surface of the
Salisbury Downland is anything but even, as poor Samuel Pepys found to
his cost when he traversed it in 1668, and on his journey encountered
some great hills, even to fright us. The actual truth lies midway
between the evenness of Evelyn and the great hills of Pepys, and
to the man of Wilts that word Plain will ever summon up a vision of
rolling downs, a short, crisp, elastic turf dotted with flocks, and
broken here and there by some crested earthwork or barrow, which rears
itself from the undulating Down, and breaks the skyline with its
sharp outline. It has been estimated that fully one-half of Wiltshire
consists of these high bare chalk downs which rise in bold rounded
bluffs from the valleys which thread their way through the county. It
is impossible to escape them. The Cotswold shepherd looks downward on
their folds, and marks the gleaming white of the occasional chalk pit
which breaks the surface of their scarp.

The huntsman in the Vale of the White Horse, and the farmer on the
fringe of the shady depths of the New Forest alike live in the
presence of the Wiltshire Downs. There is something of grandeur in the
immensity of their broad unbroken line stretching as they do, or did,
for mile upon mile, limited only by the horizon, a rolling sea of
green pasture.

And the very heart of the Downs is the Plain of Salisbury, that broad
stretch which is bounded on the west by the wandering valley of the
river Nadder, and on the east by the trickle of the Bourne, between
which the Hampshire Avon divides the area with almost mathematical
accuracy in two equal triangles; and Salisbury lies at the apex of
each.

The pasturage of the Downs, and the rich woodland of these valleys
must have been important factors in those old days, when the builders
of Stonehenge pushed inland from the coast, seeking a spot wherein
they might settle. As a general rule, it may be held with
considerable certainty, not only in Wiltshire, but also in other parts
of England, that our early settlers from the Continent elected to live
on the downland rather than in the valleys. Go where you may over the
Plain, its turfy surface is scored by terraces or lynchets, telling
the tale of the ancient ploughman's furrows on the slopes, and side by
side with them lie the scars of what were once cattle enclosures,
farms, and stockaded villages. Nor is the explanation far to seek, for
the valleys afforded shelter to the wolves, and were in places
obstructed by undrained marshes, unhealthy and unfitted for the
herdsman and his flocks, and impenetrable as regards roads.

Midway between the valleys of the Nadder and the Avon lies
Stonehenge, a Megalithic Monument without an equal in this country,
about which the legend of the peasant, as well as the speculation of
the savant have gathered in an ever-increasing volume.

The bibliography of Stonehenge alone comprises nearly a thousand
volumes, and it is hard to pick up an old magazine or periodical which
does not contain some notice of it. County historians, astronomers,
Egyptologists, and antiquaries have argued, as old Omar would say,
about it and about until the man of ordinary tastes who chances to
visit the spot and to study the stones, finds himself confronted with
such a mass of evidence, of theory, and of fantastic speculation,
that he sadly turns aside befogged, or maybe fired by the example of
others evolves from his inner consciousness yet another theory of his
own to add to the already plethoric accumulation on the subject. The
object of the following pages is not to propound any new theories, but
rather to reduce the existing knowledge of Stonehenge to a compact
compass, and to make it readily accessible to that vast body of
individuals who take an intelligent interest in the stones, without
having the leisure or opportunity of following up the elaborate stages
by which certain conclusions have been arrived at. In short, it is a
plain statement of the facts about Stonehenge which may serve either
as a guide to the visitor, or as a useful remembrance of his visit.





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