“DRUIDISM WAS TO HIM ‘THE ABORIGINAL PATRIARCHAL RELIGION’”: FIRST EDITIONS OF STUKELEY’S ILLUSTRATED STONEHENGE AND ABURY, WITH 75 LARGE ENGRAVED PLATESSTUKELEY, William.
Stonehenge. ISSUED WITH: Abury
Stonehenge, A Temple Restor’d to the British Druids. London: W. Innys and R. Manby, 1740. ISSUED WITH: Abury, A Temple of the British Druids. London: W. Innys, R. Manby, B. Dod, [and] J. Brindley, 1743.
Two volumes in one. Folio (10 by 14-1/2 inches), mid-19th-century three-quarter black morocco rebacked with original spine laid down, new marbled boards, new endpapers. $6500.First editions of this pair of fascinating works of scholarly conjecture—important early illustrated studies of Druid religious life based upon the ruins of their temples, with frontispiece portrait and 35 engraved plates (one double-page and eight folding) of Stonehenge, and 40 plates (four double-page and three folding) of Avebury.“If any man was born for the service of antiquity, it was Dr. Stukeley” (Allibone, 2296). A founding member of the Society of Antiquaries, Stukeley also joined the Society of Roman Knights, whose purpose was to preserve Roman remains in England, and became a freemason, believing that freemasonry was “the remains of the mysterys of the antients.” “Druidism was to him ‘the aboriginal patriarchal religion,’ and his intimates called him ‘Chyndonax’ and ‘the arch-druid of this age.’ In 1726 Stukeley went to live at Grantham, Lincolnshire, where he had a good [medical] practice. Here he laid out a garden and a sylvan ‘temple of the Druids,’ with an old apple-tree, overgrown with mistletoe, in the centre” (DNB). He was among the first to conduct fieldwork at Stonehenge and to recognize its historic importance—meticulously recording his findings, with a particular eye for evidence of early sacred ritual. “His Stonehenge field notes include careful measurements, drawings, and plans as well as original analyses and remarkable discoveries, among them the enigmatic cursus which no one before him had seen” (Aubrey Burl). “Nothing in nature,” wrote Stukeley in his notebook, “could be of a more simple idea than this vast circle of stones, and yet its effect is truly majestic, and venerable, which is the main requisite in sacred structures.” At Avebury he was determined “to perpetuate the vestiges of this celebrated wonder and of the barrows, avenues, [and] cursus, for I forsee that it will in few years be universally plowed over and consequently defaced.” Plates not bound in sequence, numbers not always corresponding to references in the text. This copy is complete. Duplicate of Plate X of Avebury serves as Plate [II] of Stonehenge, bound at page 2. The actual Plate II of Stonehenge should be numbered VI, according to the explanatory text on pages 11-12. Plate XXXVIII of Avebury mis-numbered “XXXIX.”
Lowndes 2541.An extremely good copy, with some shallow foxing to margins of plates, minor paper repairs to some folding plates.