William Stukeley (1687-1765)

William Stukeley (1687-1765)

British antiquarian, best known for his competent archaeological fieldwork at Avebury and Stonehenge. Between 1710 and 1725 Stukeley made numerous summer expeditions on horseback across the English countryside accurately observing and describing, carefully sketching and drawing, and always looking for antiquities. He published several Itineraria, one of which was named significantly "Itinerarium Curiosum Centuria I: An Account of the Antiquitys and Remarkable Curiositys in Nature or Art observed in Travels through Great Brittan"

"The Herman street, now call'd high dyke road, goes along the heath which preserves it from being worn away, and 'tis a sight highly entertaining. The next town it comes to is Ancaster, what was its roman name I know not, but it has been a very strong city entrenche'd and walled about. as may be seen very plainly for the most part, and perceiv'd by those that are the least verst in these searches"

Stukeley lived in Grantham, Lincolnshire from 1726 until 1730.

In 1729, Stukeley was ordained and one year later he was installed as vicar in All Saints, Stamford. The preface of his Stonehenge (1740) included the following passage:

"My intent is (besides preserving the memory of these extraordinary monuments, so much to the honour of our country, now in great danger of ruin) to promote, as much as I am able, the knowledge and practice of ancient and true Religion; to revive in the minds of the learned the spirit of Christianity ... to warm out hearts into that true sense of Religion, which keeps the medium between ignorant superstition and learned free-thinking, between enthusiasm and the rational worship of God, which is no where upon earth done, in my judgement, better than in the Church of England"

By writing upon the spot he intended to capture every detail and have a regard to the eye of the Founders.

The field archeologist and antiquarian Rev. Dr. William Stukeley was part of the circles that gathered regularly at London coffeehouses and which included, among others, the scientist Robert Hooke (1635-1703), the writers Daniel Defoe (1660?-1731) and Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), the buccaneers William Dampier (1651-1715) and Woodes Rogers (1679?-1732) and the cartographer, Herman Moll (1654-1732). As a consequence of overseas expansion, coffee, tea, and chocolate became fashionable beverages throughout Europe in the seventeenth century. Over time London coffeehouses became centers of intellectual stimulation and provided gathering places where people conducted business and exchanged news, opinion, and gossip. Such establishments encouraged friendships and garnered specialized clienteles, circles for which they became famous. The promoted the idea that land and honest hard work, would transform colonists into the British archetype of the yeoman farmer.


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