The December 2022 Book of the Month looks at three treatises written about the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge, a complex constructed on Salisbury Plain between 3000 BC and 2000 BC, which is aligned on the axis of the summer solstice sunrise and the winter solstice sunset. The second editions of the three treatises were published together in a single volume entitled The most notable antiquity of Great Britain, vulgarly called Stone-Heng, on Salisbury Plain, restored, by Inigo Jones … To which are added, the Chorea Gigantum, or, Stone-Heng restored to the Danes, by Doctor Charleton; and Mr. Webb’s Vindication of Stone-Heng restored, in answer to Dr. Charleton’s reflections … Before the whole are prefixed, certain memoirs relating to the life of Inigo Jones … and four new views of Stone-Heng … with above twenty other copper-plates, and a compleat index … in London in 1725. The first part consists of a treatise compiled by John Webb (1611-1672) from notes by Inigo Jones (1573-1652) who argued that Stonehenge was a temple built by the Romans; the second part by Dr Walter Charleton (1620-1707) refuted Jones’ theory and attributed its construction to the Danes; and the third part written by John Webb defended the Roman temple theory.
Fig. 1: Jones, Inigo, et al., The most notable antiquity of Great Britain, vulgarly called Stone-Heng, … (London, 1725), restored orthographic view of Roman Stonehenge, pl. facing p. 42.
The architect and theatre designer Inigo Jones was born in Smithfield, London in 1573. He is regarded as being one of the first architects in England to have studied in depth and to introduce to Britain the architecture of ancient Rome and the works of the Italian classical architects, particularly Andrea Palladio (1505-1580). Jones travelled to Italy initially in the early 1600s, spending long enough there to become fluent in Italian, and visited Denmark in 1603 and France in 1609. Jones worked as a stage and costume designer on masques in the courts of kings James I (1566-1625) and Charles I (1600-1649) in collaboration with the poet and playwright Benjamin Jonson (1572-1637) and other poets from 1605 to 1640, which were elaborate theatrical entertainments, medieval in origin, that were popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The earliest extant architectural drawings by Jones date from 1608-9. They are an unexecuted scheme for the New Exchange in the Strand, London, built in 1609 and demolished in 1737, and an unexecuted design for the completion of the crossing tower of the old St Paul’s Cathedral, which were two projects that Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury (1563-1612) was responsible for and closely involved with respectively.
Jones served as Surveyor of Works to Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (1594-1612) from January 1611 until the prince’s untimely death in November 1612. He accompanied Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel (1585-1646), on a Grand Tour of Italy that lasted over a year from September 1613 to November 1614. He brought several books with him during his travels, including his copy of Andrea Palladio’s I quattro libri dell’architettura (Venice, 1601), which he annotated with observations on the buildings and monuments he visited. He was appointed as Surveyor of the King’s Works in September 1615, which was a role he held until the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642. He had a number of important royal commissions: Anne of Denmark, the queen consort of James I, commissioned him to construct the Queen’s House, Greenwich, which was commenced in 1616, but was not completed until 1638. James I commissioned him to build the Banqueting House at Whitehall, which was begun in 1619 and completed in 1622. Jones died at Somerset House, London in 1652 and was buried in the Welsh Anglican Church of St Benet Paul’s Wharf in the City of London.
Fig. 2: Jones, Inigo, et al., The most notable antiquity of Great Britain, vulgarly called Stone-Heng, … (London, 1725), composite image of two restored elevations of Roman Stonehenge, pls. facing p. 41.
James I visited Stonehenge in 1620 whilst staying at nearby Wilton House, the country seat of William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke (1530-1630) who was then Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household. The king commissioned Jones to survey Stonehenge and to investigate the origin and history of the structure. Jones continued to study Stonehenge after the king’s death and make notes of his findings. The notes were gathered together and prepared for publication after Jones’ death in 1652 by his former pupil and assistant John Webb and were published in London in 1655 as The most notable antiquity of Great Britain, vulgarly called Stone-Heng on Salisbury Plain. Restored by Inigo Jones Esquire, architect generall to the late King. Webb writes in the book’s preface, addressed “To the favourers of Antiquity”, that ‘this discourse of Stone-Heng is moulded off and cast into a rude Form, from some few indigested Notes of the late judicious Architect, the Vitruvius of his Age, Inigo Jones’. Webb later wrote in his A Vindication of Stone-Heng Restored … (London, 1665) that Jones’ ‘Notes were not found, much less Stone-Heng restored written, until long after his death’. Both statements suggest that Jones’ notes were very incomplete and have led scholars to question whether Webb’s contribution to the work was greater than Jones. It is impossible to determine for certain, however, how much of the text can be attributed to Jones because the original manuscript has not survived. Alan Andrew Tait and Rumiko Handa both propose that Webb most likely prepared the historical and literary references from the relevant passages identified by Jones in his notes and Jones constructed the classical and architectural analysis in the text.
Fig. 3: Bernard de Montfaucon, L’antiquité expliquée, et représentée en figures … (Paris, 1719), 5 vols. in 10, restored plan of Roman Stonehenge, Suppl. vol. 5, pl. 66 (detail).
Jones considered that the ancient Britons were not sophisticated enough to have built Stonehenge and that the only civilization capable of designing and constructing it was Roman. He asserted that Stonehenge was constructed as a temple dedicated to Coelus, the Roman god of the sky or heaven. He claimed that the upright standing stones originated as minimally adorned columns built in a prototypal Tuscan order and enclosed an open-air cella, or enclosure. Jones accompanied his text with drawings to restore the ruin to what he deemed to have been its original classical state. His plans and elevations, however, are highly idealised and deviate significantly from the actual layout of the monument. He included a plan showing an outer circle of thirty columns with a corresponding concentric circle of thirty smaller columns. An inner circle consisting of twelve standing stones corresponding to six trilithons, i.e. two upright stones capped with a lintel stone, arranged in a perfect hexagon is formed by four intersecting equilateral triangles inscribed in the outer circle. There are only five trilithons in the inner circle in reality at Stonehenge, which are arranged in a horseshoe shape rather than a hexagon. Jones based his geometric scheme on a plan by Vitruvius for the layout of the orchestra and stage of a Roman theatre. The image of the restored plan of Roman Stonehenge above is a detail taken from a plate in L’antiquité expliquée, et représentée en figures (Paris, 1719) by Bernard de Montfaucon (1655-1741). The plan that appears in The most notable antiquity of Great Britain, vulgarly called Stone-Heng, … (London, 1725) is on a double-page plate and some of the detail running down the centre is obscured in the gutter.
Fig. 4: Jones, Inigo, et al., The most notable antiquity of Great Britain, vulgarly called Stone-Heng, … (London, 1725), frontispiece portrait of Inigo Jones.
The etched frontispiece portrait of Inigo Jones by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) after Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) was reprinted for the 1725 edition from the same copper plate that was used in the 1655 edition with some retouching carried out on the plate. The Edward Work Library, incidentally, holds a copy of Icones principum virorum doctorum, pictorum chalcographorum statuariorum nec non amatorum picturae artis numero centum ab Antonio Van Dyck pictore ad vivum expressae eiusque sumptibus aeri incisae that was printed at Antwerp in 1646 by Gillis Hendricx. It contains a series of over one hundred portrait prints of famous contemporaries based on prototype images by Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), known as the Iconography. Van Dyke’s portrait print of Inigo Jones is reproduced on the ‘Artist’ webpage of the Van Dyke at the Edward Worth Library online exhibition.
Fig. 5: Jones, Inigo, et al., The most notable antiquity of Great Britain, vulgarly called Stone-Heng, … (London, 1725), frontispiece portrait of Walter Charleton.
Dr Walter Charleton was born in Shepton Mallet, Somerset in 1620 and served as physician-in-ordinary to both kings Charles I and Charles II (1630-1685). He entered what was then known as Magdalen Hall, Oxford in 1635, which subsequently became Hertford College in 1874, and obtained his Doctor of Medicine in January 1643. Charleton was one of the Original Fellows of the newly established Royal Society, being admitted initially on 15 May 1661 and re-elected on 20 May 1663 following the granting of the society’s second charter in April 1663. He was President of the Royal College of Physicians of London between 1689 and 1691. He translated, edited or wrote approximately twenty-five works on medicine, physiology, physics, natural history, natural theology, natural philosophy, and antiquity. The Edward Worth Library holds six editions of five of his original works and one title each that he translated and edited. The frontispiece portrait of Dr. Charleton reproduced above was engraved by Pierre Lombart (1612-1682).
Charleton response to Jones’ tract, entitled Chorea Gigantum, or, the most famous antiquity of Great Britain, vulgarly called Stone-Heng, standing on Salisbury-Plain, restored to the Danes, was originally published in London in 1663. Charleton had been in correspondence with the eminent Danish physician, natural historian and antiquary Ole Worm (1588-1654), Latinised as Olaus Wormius, and he drew heavily on Worm’s writings on the prehistoric megalithic monuments of Denmark, which he concluded were very similar to Stonehenge. Charleston refuted Jones’ claim that Stonehenge was built as a temple by the Romans and argued that it was erected by the Danes as a meeting place for the election and inauguration of their kings.
Charleton quotes a translation of a description of Stonehenge given by William Camden (1551-1623) from his antiquarian work Britannia, which he wrote in Latin and originally published in London in 1586. The Edward Worth Library holds the second edition of the two-volume English-language Britannia: or a Choriographical Description of Great Britain and Ireland, together with the Adjacent Lands Written in Latin by William Camden and translated into English with additions and improvements by Edmund Gibson that was published in London in 1722, the first edition having been published in 1695, which is the subject of the July 2022 Book of the Month blog post.
Fig. 6: Webb, John, A Vindication of Stone-Heng Restored … (London, 1725), restored orthographic view and key of Roman Stonehenge, p. 141.
John Webb was born in Little Britain in Smithfield, London in 1611 and he attended Merchant Taylors’ School in the City of London from 1625 to 1628. Webb was apprenticed to Jones at the age of 18 in 1628, and he received a practical and theoretical training in classical architecture and in stage design from him. Webb and Jones became related through marriage when Webb married Anne Jones, who was either Jones’s first cousin once removed or niece. Webb acted as executor to Inigo Jones’ will after his death and he inherited Jones’ books and drawings with Anne receiving almost three-quarters of his total wealth at death of £4,140. Webb’s lengthy and impassioned defence of Jones’ theory in reply to Charleton’s Chorea Gigantum, was published as A Vindication of Stone-Heng Restored … in London in 1665. The publisher’s unsold stock of the publication was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, which resulted in it becoming a rare edition.
The 1725 reprinting of the three treatises together in one volume was printed by James Bettenham for D. Browne Junior, at the Black-Swan without Temple-Bar, and James Woodman and Daniel Lyon, in Russel-Street, Covent-Garden, London. Four folding plates showing ‘Prospects’ of Stonehenge from the north, north-west, south-west and south-east engraved by Elisha Kirkall (1682?-1742) after designs by J. Hassell were added to the 1725 edition and precede Jones’ text. The volume held in the Edward Worth Library was purchased for £1. 7s. 0d. by Dr Edward Worth at the sale of the libraries of Charles Killigrew and Bartholomew Beale that was held in London on 7th December 1725.
Fig. 7: Jones, Inigo, et al., The most notable antiquity of Great Britain, vulgarly called Stone-Heng, … (London, 1725), composite image of ‘The North West Prospect of Stone Henge’ and ‘The South West Prospect of Stone Henge’.
The architect William Kent (ca. 1685-1748) and Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington and 4th Earl of Cork (1694-1753) were responsible for publishing The Designs of Inigo Jones, Consisting of Plans and Elevations for Publick and Private Buildings, Published by William Kent with some additional designs in London two years later in 1727, and the booksellers Woodman and Lyon were responsible for handling subscriptions for it. The Designs of Inigo Jones … (London, 1727) is discussed, along with the lives and careers of Jones, Webb, Lord Burlington and Kent on the ‘Inigo Jones’ webpage of the Architecture at the Edward Worth Library online exhibition.
Bold, John, ‘Webb, John (1611-1672)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004, rev. 2008).
Fowler, Lawrence Hall & Baer, Elizabeth, The Fowler Architectural Collection of the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, 1961), pp 73 & 129-131.
Handa, Rumiko, ‘Authorship of “The Most Notable Antiquity” (1655) : Inigo Jones and Early Printed Books’, The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, Vol. 100, No. 3 (September 2006), 357-378.
Handa, Rumiko, ‘Coelum Britannicum : Inigo Jones and Symbolic Geometry’, in: Kim Williams and Michael J. Ostwald (eds.), Architecture and Mathematics from Antiquity to the Future (Basel, 2015), Vol. 2: The 1500s to the Future, pp 197-216.
Harris, Eileen & Savage, Nicholas, British Architectural Books and Writers, 1556-1785 (Cambridge, 1990), pp 247-252 & 476-7.
Henry, John, ‘Charleton, Walter (1620-1707)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004, rev. 2010).
Jones, Inigo, et al., The most notable antiquity of Great Britain, vulgarly called Stone-Heng, on Salisbury Plain, restored, by Inigo Jones … To which are added, the Chorea Gigantum, or, Stone-Heng restored to the Danes, by Doctor Charleton; and Mr. Webb’s Vindication of Stone-Heng restored, in answer to Dr. Charleton’s reflections … Before the whole are prefixed, certain memoirs relating to the life of Inigo Jones … and four new views of Stone-Heng … with above twenty other copper-plates, and a compleat index … (London, 1725).
Newman, John, ‘Jones, Inigo (1573-1652)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004, rev. 2010).
Newman, John, ‘Webb, John’, Grove Art Online (Oxford, 2003).
Roark, Ryan, ‘“Stonehenge in the Mind” and “Stonehenge on the Ground” : Reader, Viewer, and Object in Inigo Jones’s Stone-Heng Restored (1655)’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 77, No. 3 (September 2018), 285-299.
Rolleston, Humphry, ‘Walter Charleton, D.M., F.R.C.P., F.R.S.’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Vol. 8, No. 3 (March, 1940), 403-416.
Savage, Nicholas, et al., Early printed books 1478-1840 : Catalogue of the British Architectural Library Early Imprints Collection (London & Munich, 1995), Vol. 2: E-L, pp 854-8.
Tait, Alan Andrew, ‘Inigo Jones’s “Stone-heng”‘, Burlington Magazine, Vol. 120, No. 900, 75th Anniversary Issue (March, 1978), 154-9.
Tavenor, Robert & Peacock, John, ‘Jones, Inigo’, Grove Art Online (Oxford, 2003).
Texts: Mr Antoine Mac Gaoithín (Library Assistant at the Edward Worth Library).
 Jones, Inigo, The most notable antiquity of Great Britain, vulgarly called Stone-Heng, on Salisbury Plain, restored, by Inigo Jones (London, 1725), p. [xii].
 Webb, John, A Vindication of Stone-Heng Restored … (London, 1725), p. 118.
 Tait, Alan Andrew, ‘Inigo Jones’s “Stone-heng”‘, Burlington Magazine, Vol. 120, No. 900, 75th Anniversary Issue (March, 1978), 156; Handa, Rumiko, ‘Authorship of “The Most Notable Antiquity” (1655) : Inigo Jones and Early Printed Books’, The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, Vol. 100, No. 3 (September 2006), 357-378.
 The Royal Society, ‘Charleton; Walter (1620 – 1707); physician and natural philosopher’, Search past Fellows, Available online at: