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This famous image of Stonehenge comes from a manuscript of Wace’s Roman de Brut, a French verse translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regium Britanniae. It dates from the second quarter of the 14th century and is probably the earliest known depiction of Stonehenge, and of any prehistoric monument. The accompanying story relates how Aurelius Ambrosius, the British king, commanded Merlin the wizard to dismantle a monument in Ireland and bring it to Salisbury Plain, as a memorial to the fallen British dead from a great battle. Here Merlin is either dismantling or re-building Stonehenge, visually identified with the giants who were said to have originally erected the monument. Unlike Avebury, which was largely unknown until its rediscovery by John Aubrey in 1649, Stonehenge never appears to have been forgotten; it seems to have been visited and to have inspired art and literature throughout history. Caption: Susan Greaney (English Heritage)

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  • Title: Medieval Manuscript Illustration
  • Location: British Library, Egerton MS 3028, f.30r
  • Rights: © British Library Board (Egerton MS 3028 fol 30)

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