There is a certain sense of relief, not untinged with reluctance, on
laying down the pen after dealing seriously with so solemn a subject
as Stonehenge. The feeling of relief is akin to that of the schoolboy
whose task is done, and who is free to give vent to his animal spirits
unchecked by the hand of his master. The feeling of reluctance is that
which this same master must feel when he finally takes off his cap and
wn and becomes as other men, his brief authority gone with them. Cap
and gown are laid aside, and the present writer can now speak with his
readers freely, and offer perhaps some few words of practical advice.
The foremost question will surely be How shall I get to Stonehenge?
The answer largely depends upon the constitution and habits of the
querist. For the motorist, the way is clear: he will choose the best
road, or his chauffeur will do it for him; but it is possible even
with a motor to secure a little variety on the road. An excellent
route is to follow the main road from Salisbury to Amesbury, passing
Old Sarum, a very considerable earthwork of Roman if not earlier
origin. This road will give the motorist a fine idea of what the
Plain once was, with its wide expanses of undulating land. Military
requirements have broken up what the farmer had spared, but even
to-day the Plain has a character of its own, and forms a fitting
prelude to a visit to the Stones. Passing through Amesbury, the
circle is soon within sight. Unluckily the Stones do not appear to
advantage from this approach. The best view of them is from Lake Down,
which may be obtained if the return journey is made along the Avon
Valley by Normanton and Wilsford, Woodford, and Durnford. In any case
barrows will be seen on every side, particularly in the neighbourhood
of Normanton and Wilsford.
Those who can walk, and who are able to be afoot for about ten miles,
should follow the road up the valley from Stratford-sub-Castle,
crossing the river either at Stratford or Upper Woodford, visiting
Stonehenge and then Amesbury, thence by train to Salisbury. Allowance
should be made for the fact that the railway station is some distance
from the town.
Is there anything else to see? Plenty. As already stated there is Old
Sarum, which is perhaps rather too big an undertaking to be crowded
into the same day as Stonehenge. All the churches along the valley are
interesting. Stratford has its quaint hour-glass stand in the village
pulpit. Heale House, where Charles II. lay in the hiding-hole some
four or five days. Great Durnford Church, with its fine Norman doors.
Amesbury, home of the adorable Kitty Bellairs, Duchess of Queensbury,
and patron of Gay, who wrote the Beggar's Opera under her roof, and
the church (early English) all make pleasant breaks in the journey.
The bulk of the objects found at Stonehenge, and in the Barrows on the
Plain, belong to the Wiltshire Archæological Society, and are
preserved in their collection at Devizes. Visitors to Salisbury will
find the journey by train somewhat lengthy, but it should not be
neglected by the antiquary.
Some very fine cinerary urns and Barrow pottery from the Plain,
together with models, and a reconstruction of Stonehenge after
Stukeley, are to be found in the Salisbury, South Wilts, and Blackmore
Collections, at Salisbury.
It is seldom that the eye of the artist, as well as that of the
archæologist is to be found in one and the same individual. Mr.
Heywood Sumner, F.S.A., to whom I am indebted for far more assistance
in this volume than his beautiful and characteristic penwork, has
seldom been so happy in his choice of illustration, for Stonehenge is
one of those subjects which belongs to him of right, by virtue of that
understanding draughtsmanship which he has applied with such valuable
results to the Earthworks of Cranbourne Chase and elsewhere.
Readers are specially asked to give his plans kindly attention. They
are based upon the Ordnance Survey Maps, with the sanction of the
Controller of H.M. Stationery Office. They are far more interesting,
and less fatiguing, than the usual guide book production. The
bibliography of Stonehenge is frankly too heavy a subject to attempt
even briefly. A complete bibliography arranged under authors' names
alphabetically by W. Jerome Harrison, F.G.S. (1901, Devizes), will be
found quite solid reading in itself. Readers anxious to extend their
information, would do well to study Mr. Gowland's Report in
Archæologia, 1902, side by side with Sir Norman Lockyer's Report to
the Royal Society, of the same date. The two leading schools of
thought can thus be contrasted at first hand. The Wilts Archæological
Magazine passim, and particularly 1883 and 1876 should be consulted,
the latter article by Mr. W. Long has stood the test of publicity for
forty years, without appreciable damage. A curious writer to whom Mr.
Sumner is specially indebted is Mr. H. Browne of Amesbury; whose
conclusions must not be taken seriously, but who has lovingly
illustrated his work with restorations and sketches: it is all the
more pleasant therefore to render thanks to a painstaking but not
always appreciated worker. Last of all--greatest of all--Sir Richard
Colt Hoare, whose Ancient History of South Wilts, 1812, remains
to-day a classic. These grand volumes mark the dawn of the new era of
the field archæologist. The foregoing names are few, but they are as
old and tried friends, to whom reference can be safely made, and
seldom in vain. When Hoare and Long have been digested, few authors
have much else to offer, including the writer of the present lines.
A most pleasant debt of obligation is to the new owner of Stonehenge,
Mr. C.H.E. Chubb, who has rendered great assistance in the compilation
of this little handbook. Himself a citizen of New Sarum, and a
Wiltshireman by birthright, he can well be trusted faithfully to
discharge his duty to the grand old Cromlech. A constant visitor to
Stonehenge, he has already given a foretaste of his policy in revising
the rates of admission to the military; a very gracious act, based on
a common-sense appreciation of the usual condition of the pockets of
H.M. forces. Landlords are not always as liberal.
Last of all, my sincere thanks to Dr. H.P. Blackmore, Honorary
Director of the Salisbury and Blackmore Museums, for reading and
revising my manuscript.