Salisbury Cathedral and its neighbour Stonehenge are two eminent

monuments of art and rudeness, and may show the first essay and

the last perfection in architecture.--Dr. Johnson, letter to

Mrs. Thrale, 1783.

Stonehenge is one of those historical monuments which possesses the

disadvantage of a reputation. The first impression is always one of

disappointment, the circle appears so much
maller than it really is

by reason of its isolated situation. Its proportions are dwarfed by

the wide expanse of downland which surrounds it. This feeling of

disappointment, however, gradually gives place to one of wonder, as

the stones are approached more closely, and their bulk is seen in true

proportion. The diameter of the outer circle of stones is 108 feet, or

almost exactly that of the internal diameter of the Dome of St.

Paul's. A casual glance even at the monument is sufficient to show

that its basic form is intended to be a circle. The earthwork which

girdles the stones is circular and 300 feet in diameter. Within this

stands the remnant of a circle of 30 upright stones, bearing imposts

upon them; within this again is what was once a circle of smaller

stones. Inside these three outer circular forms are two others, shaped

like a horseshoe. The first consisted of the five large Trilithons,

huge pylons of stone, comprising two uprights and an impost; standing

separate, while in front of them is the remnant of a horseshoe of

small upright stones, similar to those which comprise the inner circle

of the monument.

[Illustration: Upright stones shaded--Prostrate stones in outline.]

At first it may seem difficult to disentangle the chaos of fallen

stone which meets the eye; but when once the original design of the

structure is grasped, it becomes easy to piece together again in

imagination a work which even in the light of modern and scientific

engineering presents very considerable difficulties and problems.

Lying flat within these concentric circles and horseshoes is a single

flat tabular block generally known as the Altar Stone. From this

slab, now almost buried beneath the remains of a fallen Trilithon, the

visitor may look in a north-easterly direction, and through the arches

of the outer circle observe the Hele Stone or Friar's Heel, which

stands at some considerable distance from the main structure. On the

Summer Solstice (or Longest Day), the sun rises immediately over the

top of this monolith, when viewed from the centre of the Altar Stone.

Such, then, are the facts which meet the eye when standing within

Stonehenge. Each minute the stones appear to increase in bulk, and the

problem of their coming grows more inscrutable. Then if wearied with

such vastness, the eye may wander over the surrounding plain, broken

in almost every direction by the sepulchral mounds, or Barrows, which

cluster to the number of two hundred or more about the venerable stone

circle. The connection between Stonehenge and the Barrows, seems

almost irresistible. The hands which raised those huge monoliths must

assuredly have been laid to rest almost within the touch of their

shadow. Stonehenge and the Barrows, each casting light upon the

other's origin, confirming and reconfirming each other's existence,

knit together to-day as yesterday, by a bond of close union which even

Time and speculations cannot sever.