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Stonehenge, in its present aspect of ruin and disorder, gives but a faint impression of its pristine sublimity and grandeur, and yet enough remains to enable us in idea to recover and replace the majestic proportion of the whole. Its ancient name was Choir Gaur, which may be translated, a circular high place of assembly. The Saxon term, Stonehonge, by which we know it now, means only " the hanging stones," and would naturally occur to a spectator as he gazed in astonishment at its lofty imposts. The plan comprises two concentric eircles,and within them two imperfect ovals, forming a cell or sanctum. The outer diameter of the largest circle is 109 feet, and four cubits broad, and the interval between the uprights two cubits wide. The entire circle consisted of thirty stones, crossed at their tops by thirty others, meeting in a kind of architrave; each upright was to be nine cubits high, but at the entrance which faces the north-east, the interval is rather greater. According to modern pliraseology and actual computation, the height of the stones on either side the entrance is a little more than thirteen feet, the breadth of one seven feet, of the other six feet four inches, and depth of the transverse over them two feet eight inches; the width of the entrance is five feet. Of the original thirty uprights, seventeen remain. The stones are irregular in form and size, but many of them show the marks of tools. Eight feet from the interior of this circle is another circle of much smaller stones, rude and uneven iu shape; we may assume their proportions to have been half of those in the outer series; they had no horizontal coverings or imposts. Their number, when complete, was forty, and traces of twenty may yet be found. The sanctum of the temple was a space bounded by twothirds of a larger oval, and of an interior smaller oval. The great oval was composed of ten upright stones, capped by five horizontal stones, so as to constitute five sets of trilithons; the uprights line in height from sixteen to twenty-one feet, the imposts are sixteen feet in length, and not continued beyond the ends of the uprights. Four trilithons remain standing, one fell at the close of the last century, and where it fell its fragments lie Titanic ruins. The small oval consisted of nineteen stones, and eleven of these we still may trace; the inner oval, like the inner circle, was unprovided with any architrave, but the stones of the former were taller and less rugged than those of the latter. Within the sanctum or cell is an altar-stone, fifteen feet in length,prostrate on the ground. Beside the circles, ovals, and altar, there are five smaller detached stones, making the entire number that entered into the composition of the building 140. The width of entrance into the cell, left by the incompleteness of its elliptical boundaries, is forty-three feet. The altar-stone faces the entrance into the temple, at a distance from it of fifty-seven feet. The outer circle was constructed of surface stones, or, to adopt the provincial phrase, sarsens-blocks of sandstone that lie strewn about the chalk downs of Wiltshire. The stones of the inner circle are granitic, and must have been brought ,a considerable distance. Exterior to the outer circle, and 100 feet from it, is a ditch or trench, surrounding the whole, except that, opposite the entrance, it divides into two parallel lines to form an avenue indicating its approach; the trench is flanked on its outer side by an agger or rampart of earth, which has a circumference of 369 yards. It is a distinction between the religious and military works of the ancient British, that in the former the ditch is inside, and in the latter outside, the agger. The avenue runs north-east and south-west, and the entrance of the temple is directed towards that point of the heavens where the sun rises at the summer solstice.
Half-a-mile to the north of Stonehenge is a race-course or hippodrome, extending cast and west for nearly two miles; it is bounded and enclosed by two ditches 200 cubits asunder, or between 300 and 400 feet. At the eastern extremity is a mound of earth running across the course, supposed to be the place set apart for the company who witnessed the race.
Stonehenge has the aspect of having been built at different periods. Mr. Warner started the idea that tho Belgas having taken this part of the country from the Celts, proceeded to raise a monument of rival magnitude to that of Abury. It is possible that there may have been a primitive Celtic temple to the sun, and that round this the Belgaa erected a larger and more elaborate structure. The conception and completion of tho larger and loftier circle has been supposed to denote tho civilization'of a later age; while the fact of its materials having been drawn from the immediate neighbourhood, has been alleged as an argument that the artificers were not in undisturbed possession of the territory. Assuming, however, as we have a right to do, that Stonehenge was essentially of Druidical origin, we may also believe that in its finished form, if not in its more rudimentary features, it was the latest as it was tho grandest of the religious erections of the order; it was tho great high sanctuary or metropolitan temple of the realm, the Pantheon of national worship.
A few miles only from the ancient city of Sarum, it has imparted a name of its own to a town more closely adjoining, for the stones of which it was composed were the petrse ambrosia;, the anointed stones of the Greeks, tho ambers of an earlier epoch, such as that which Jacob set up for a pillar, pouring oil on the top of it, vowing a vow and saying, "This stone which I have set up for a pillar shall be God's house." By the word amber was implied something solar and divine; a monument in Cornwall is still called mainamber, or the hallowed stone. The proper anointing material with which stones were consecrated to a roligious character and office was the oil of roses, ambrosia, a term applied by the heathen poets to the food of the gods. Hence the parish in which Stonehenge is situate has received the name of Ambrosebury, or Amesbury, though subsequent superstition has made it the shrine of a fabled St. Ambrose. It has been no uncommon thing with the Romish chroniclers to canonize an idea, and then to record tho doings of a saint called into existence by their own imagination. Amesbury is distinguished in modern times as the birth-place of Joseph Addison.
Tho stupendous temple of Abury, (or Avebnry,) six miles from Marlborough, is in a state of far greater dilapidation than Stonehenge; but man, rather than time, has been the destroyer. Through the skill and perseverance of antiquarian explorers, especially of Dr. Stukeley, the plan of the work has been successfully traced. Stonehenge was simply circular; Abury represents a serpent with wings transmitted through a circle. Tho circle, as the figure of the sun, the great natural emblem of the Divine person, became a secondary symbol of the Deity, and a type of infinity and eternity. Among Eastern nations, the serpent was a symbol of light, wisdom, life, and health. It may have been so adopted from its annual renewal of beauty; from the change and variety of forms depending on its sinuous movements; from its acuteness of vision, its sagacity and craft, and its hues as of flame or burnished metal. It was also a solar emblem, either from its brightness, or from a fancied resemblance between its winding track and the sun's apparent motion. There was, moreover, some traditional reference to the serpent, as an instrument of man's primeval rain, which rendered it an object of awe and worship; or to the fiery serpent made by Moses, which, first a source of healing, became at last a stumbling-block of idolatry. It lias been disputed whether the Druids admitted the serpent into the number of their divinities, or assigned it a higher place than that of a sacred monogram; but at all events, the creatures their fancy portrayed, were the seraphim, or so-called flying serpents. There is properly no faculty of flight in serpents. Some by the distinction of their hoods, exhibit a vague resemblance to wings on either side their heads. Yet serpents may figuratively be said to fly, on account of the rapidity of their movements, or their sudden darting on their victims, or from their climbing trees, and thence springing to other trees, or pouncing on their prey. Some have conceived that the angelic seraphim, when manifested bodily, were animal forms, with serpents' heads, such as we may find in the sculptured temples of Thebes.
Whatever may have been the precise enigmatical idea of the pattern of the temple of Abury, we require an accurate survey of a wide circumference of outworks or approaches, to discover how far the conception has been realized. The site chosen is a separate plain, four or five miles in circuit. The temple was formed by a circular mound of earth, with a wide and deep ditch on its inner side, and the edge of the ditch set round with a row of erect 6tones, rough and uncliiselled. The circumvallation was 4,400 feet in length, and the enclosed area twenty-two acres. Within the outer circle were two smaller circles of enormous stones, called respectively the northern and southern temples. The materials of these were equally unhewn and rude. The large outer circle originally consisted of 100 stones. The northern temple was composed of two concentric circles, an exterior of thirty stones, and an interior of twelve. In its centre were three large stones, arranged to constitute a cone. The southern temple was the counterpart of the northern, with an outer circle of thirty, and an inner one of twelve stones; but in its centre was a single obelisk or Kibla, towards which, during worship, the faces would be turned. At the southern end of the line connecting the centres of the two temples, nearer the larger circle than the edge of the southern smaller one, a stoue stood by itself, having a ring or perforation, as if to tie the sacrificial victim. Whether or not it be more than coincidence, the product of the two series of each smaller circle multiplied, one into the other, and added to the detached stones, gives the period of the solar revolution. The inner series representing the months, the outer series the days of the month; the separate stones would represent the number to be added to fill up the days of the year. The centres of these two temples were 518 feet asunder; their circumferences, where nearest, eighty-six feet apart. To the entire structure were attached, to complete the figure of the serpent, two extended winding avenues, marked by rough stones, and stretching on either side of the enclosure to a distance of more than a mile. The total number of stones, including avenues and their appendages, is computed to have been 650.
In 1722, when described by Dr. Stukeley, of the hundred original stones of the larger circle, eighteen were standing, and twenty-seven remaining prostrate. At Sir E. Colt Hoare's surveying, in 1812, of the same circle, only ten stones were standing, and five left where they had fallen. Since that date, several of these have been broken up for road-mending, or removed for other purposes. With no respect for antiquity to restrain or animate them, the farmer or peasants of the neighbourhood, doubtless thought, they were doing good service in clearing useless cumberers of the soil. The ditch and mound are in tolerable preservation.
Due south from Abury, exactly midway between the extremities of the avenues that form the head and tail of the serpent, is an artificial eminence, called Silbury-hill. In shape the frustrum of a cone; it is 700 feet in perpendicular height, and covers a space of five acres. It was a prominent object on the road from London to Bath in days preceding railways. By calculation, based on the variation of the magnetic needle, Dr. Stukeley fixed the date of Stonehenge at about 460 years before Christ, and he supposed that Abury was founded 1,400 years previously. It is at all events a monument of vast and venerable age. In its name we recognize the mystic word Abiri, synonymous with the Cabiri of the East—the mighty or powerful ones. The worship of the Cabiri extensively prevailed; but its origin, which was evidently of the highest antiquity, is shrouded in doubtful and dark surmises. In every case rites were held, initiation to which was attended with scenes and incidents of fearful solemnity, succeeded by rapture and repose. The Cabiri were known