Stonehenge, A Temple Restor'd to the British Druids, by William Stukeley, , at sacred-texts.com
Of the area round Stonehenge. The bowing stones. The manner of sacrificing.
OF the court round the temple of Stonehenge, somewhat is said already, TAB. XXIII. and of the two stones standing within the vallum: and of the two cavities remarkable, which have some correspondency therewith. I supposed, they were places, where two great vases of water stood, for the service of the temple, when they performd religious rites here. And I endeavourd to illustrate it by a coin of the city Heliopolis. 60 cubits is the diameter of Stonehenge, 60 more reaches the inner edge of the circular ditch of the court. The ditch originally was near 30 cubits broad, but thro long tract of time, and the infinity of coaches, horses, &c. coming every day to see the place, tis levelld very much. The intire diameter of the court, reaching to the outward verge of the ditch, is 4 times 60 cubits, which is about 410 foot. The five outer circles of the ditch are struck with a radius of 80, 90, 100, 110, 120 cubits.
Just upon the inner verge of the ditch, at the entrance from the avenue, lies a very large stone, at present flat on the ground. Mr. Webb, p. 57. pretends to give us the measure of it, confounding it with the other two before-mentiond to be within the vallum, to which they have no relation, no similarity in proportion. This is to favour his notion of three entrances of the area, dependant upon his hypothesis of equilateral triangles. He there tells us at the letter F, "the parallel stones on the inside of the trench were four foot broad and three foot thick; but they lie so broken and ruind by time, that their proportion in height cannot be distinguishd, much less exactly measurd." Thus he, but tis invita Minervâ; for all three stones, in all appearance, are as little alterd from their first size, as any stones in the work. The two stones within the vallum are very small stones, and ever were so. The one stands; the other leans a little, probably from some idle people digging about it. This stone at the entrance is a very great one, near as big as any one of the whole work, and seems too as little alterd from its original form: only thrown down perhaps by the like foolish curiosity of digging near it. Instead of Webb's four foot broad, it's near seven: but to speak in the Druid measure, four cubits. It is at present above 20 feet long. If it stood originally, and a little leaning, it was one of those stones which the Welsh call crwm lechen, or bowing-stones. However, Mr. Webb must falsify the truth very much, in making this and the two former any thing alike in dimension, situation and use. But he does so, much more in the next, which is doubtless a crwm leche, still standing in its original posture and place in the avenue. Tis of much the like dimension as the other, tho not so shapely, and stands in like manner on the left hand, or south, of the middle line, of the length of the avenue. I surmise, the Druids considerd the propriety of making the other a little more shapely than this, because within the area, and nearer the sacred fabric. There is the distance of 119 feet between them, to speak properly, 80 cubits. This interval Mr. Webb contracts to about 43 foot, and supposes there was another stone to answer it on the right hand, as also another to answer that on the inside the ditch. And he supposes the like of those before-mentiond, both within and without the ditch, at his two fancyd entrances. But of these, there is nec vola nec vestigium, and I dare say, never was. This stone has a hole in it, which is observable of like stones, set thus near our like temples: as we shall see in the progress of this work. The stone is of 24 foot in circumference, 16 high above ground, 9 broad, 6 thick. The use of it I cant certainly tell; but I am inclind to think,
that as part of the religious worship in old patriarchal times, consisted in a solemn adoration, or three silent bowings: the first bowing might be performd at this stone, just without the ditch, the second perhaps at the next stone, just within the ditch. Then they turnd by that stone to the left hand, as the manner was, in a procession round the temple, both the priests and animals for sacrifice. At those two stones and water-vases, probably there were some washings, lustrations, or sprinklings with holy water, and other ceremonies, which I dont pretend to ascertain. Then upon the entry into the temple, perhaps they made the third bow, as in presence of the Deity. After this, in the court, we may suppose the priests prepard the hecatombs and customary sacrifices. If that great stone just within the ditch, always lay, as it does now, flat on the ground, and in situ, (which I am not unwilling to believe) then, I apprehend, it was a table for dressing the victims. Ezekiel, in describing the temple of Jerusalem, speaks of such in the entry, xl. 30, 40, 41, 42, 43.
Tis just to think, the ancient form of sacrificing here, like that of the Romans, Greeks or elder nations, was pretty much the same as that among the Jews, and that as in patriarchal times; and in short, no other than the original practice of mankind, since the first institution of sacrifices, at the fall. Therefore we shall subjoin it from Homer's description, in Iliad I. It quadrates extremely well, in all appearance, with the place and temple before us.
34: In another place he adds,
[paragraph continues] These are most ancient rites, symbolical of the purity of the sacrifice of the Messiah, pointed at by, and derivd from the Mosaic dispensation, where every thing of sacred purpose was to be perfect.
Thus much is sufficient to give the reader an idea of the ancient manner of sacrificing, such, no doubt as was practisd at this very place entirely the Hebrew rite. I suppose only the priests and chief personages came within the area, who made the procession with the sacrifices along the avenue. The multitude kept without, on foot or in their chariots.