While hunting with friends in 1649, John Aubrey discovered the monument at Avebury and spent much time over the next few decades investigating and surveying the monuments there, making a detailed survey in 1663. He also visited Stonehenge, drawing a plan that identified depressions within the bank for the first time, which we now refer to as ‘Aubrey Holes’. Aubrey was critical of the idea that these were Roman or Danish sites, concluding instead that they had been built by the indigenous pre-Roman population of Britain and in particular the Druids, a radical new idea.
Although he intended to publish his ideas, Aubrey continue to add to his notes on megalithic monuments and at the time of his death in 1697 it remained a vast two-volume manuscript, known as the Monumenta Britannica. However, his manuscript was widely consulted by others after this death, and his ideas would have a profound influence on scholars such as William Stukeley, with the idea that Druids had built these monuments remaining the accepted theory for over 200 years. Caption: Susan Greaney (English Heritage)

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  • Title: John Aubrey's Monumenta Britannica
  • Rights: © Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxfrod, MSS Top. Gen. c.24]