This is the frontispiece to William Stukeley’s ground-breaking archaeological study of the Avebury stone circles. His book, Abury, A Temple of the British Druids, was published in 1743, three years after his parallel study on Stonehenge. Stukeley conducted field research at Avebury and Stonehenge from 1719 to 1724, producing detailed drawings of what he discovered. This plate was engraved after Stukeley’s ground plan of Avebury, showing the henge – a round bank with an internal ditch – encircling most of Avebury village. Within the henge are outer and inner stone circles, and two ‘avenues’ of paired stones leading from the south eastern and western entrance of the henge.
Stukeley believed that Avebury had been built by the druids, Iron-Age Celtic priests. Archaeologists have since shown that the monument was erected over 2,000 years before the druids, during the Neolithic era.
This book is part of the King’s Library: the book collection of King George III (1738-1820). The collection covers a vast range of subjects, from early printing and philosophy to architecture, topography and painting; from astrology and biology to agriculture and ancient languages. George III’s books were given to the nation by his son George IV in 1823. The library is considered one of the most significant collections of the Enlightenment.