Stonehenge, Centre Trilithon And Altar Stone Under The Left Upright And Capstone Of The Trilithon
Photographer: Ordnance Survey Department, under Colonel Sir Henry James
Medium: Photographic print
View of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, taken by the Ordnance Survey under the supervision of Colonel Sir Henry James. The image is one of eight photographs of the monument illustrating Colonel James’ 1867 book ‘Stonehenge, Turusachan and Cromlechs’. He wrote: “The celebrated structure called Stonehenge, that is, the ‘Hanging Stones,’ stands in a commanding position on Salisbury Plain, about seven and a-half miles north of the city of Salisbury and two miles west of Amesbury.” This view includes a portrait of James in frock coat and top hat sitting on a fallen megalith. Five pairs of stones surmounted by lintels known as trilithons originally stood in the centre of the stone circle. James continued: “Of the trilithons only two…are perfect; the lintel and one of the uprights [of this trilithon] has fallen and lies broken upon the Altar stone…, whilst the other upright is in an inclined position, and supported only by one of the smaller stones which stood in front of it; this fell in 1620.”
James (1803-1877) served as Director-General of the Ordnance Survey between 1854 and 1875. In addition to plans and photographs of Stonehenge, the book includes his text exploring the history and culture of the Druids, as well as accounts, sketches and plans of a stone circle on the Island of Lewis and four Irish cromlechs. He described his intention for the book as giving: “examples of the megalithic structures of this kingdom, all of which should be sketched and described by the officers on the Ordnance Survey, to form a record of the existence and state of preservation of these objects at the date of the National Survey”. The survey of Britain was completed in 1870.