Stonehenge, View From South West
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. It is one of eight photographs of the monument illustrating Colonel James' 1867 book ‘Stonehenge, Turusachan and Cromlechs’ and was published as plate 10. In his accompanying text, James refers to the Classical Greek historians Hecateus and Diodorus Siculus. They wrote of an island, “in the ocean over against Gaul, (as big as Sicily) under the arctic pole”, where the soil was “very rich, and very fruitful, and the climate temperate”. James continues: “Diodorus...goes on to say ‘[the] inhabitants demean themselves as if they were Apollo’s priests, who has there a stately grove and renowned temple of a round form, beautified with many rich gifts;’ – and I incline to the belief, held by many writers, that the island here referred to could be no other than Britain, and that this celebrated temple of a round form is no other than Stonehenge, and that the priests referred to were the Druids.”
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 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.