William Stukeley

January 2001
10 black and white illustrations
304 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780851158648
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS037030, SOC003000

William Stukeley

Science, Religion and Archaeology in Eighteenth-Century England

David Boyd Haycock

Stukeley's antiquarian researches, particularly into the great stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury, were the first to reveal their great antiquity. Friend of Newton, his life embodies the classic Enlightenment confrontation between science and religion.
Dr William Stukeley (1687-1765) was the most renowned English antiquary of the eighteenth century. This study discusses his life and achievements, placing him firmly within his intellectual milieu, which he shared with his illustrious friend Isaac Newton and with other natural philosophers, theologians and historians.
Stukeley's greatest memorial was his work on the stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury: at a time when most historians believed they were Roman or medieval monuments, he proved that they were of much greater antiquity, and his influence on subsequent interpretations of these monuments and their builders was enormous. For Stukeley, these stone circles - the work of "Celtic Druids", were a link in the chain that connected the pristine religion of Adam and Noah with the modern Anglican Church. Historians today belittle such speculations, but Stukeley shared his vision of lost religious and scientific knowledge with many of the great minds of his day; this account shows how throughout his distinguished career his antiquarian researches fortified his response to Enlightenment irreligion and the threat he believed it posed to science and society.

DAVID BOYD HAYCOCK is a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford.


David Boyd Haycock's excellent biography ably demonstrates that there was much more to Stukeley than stone circles. [It is] a work that on the one hand uses an impressive range of printed and underexploited manuscript sources and on the other brings to Stukeley's career a sophisticated historical analysis that places its subject firmly in his intellectual and religious worlds. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW
The major theme to Haycock's study is the reconstruction of the intellectual background which shaped the development of Stukeley's thought and influenced the direction of his studies and his interpretation of the evidence... A long overdue re-assessment. HISTORICAL JOURNAL An exemplary work of intellectual history, a revisionist biography and something of a 'rescue archaeology' for Stukeley himself and for the subject of antiquarian studies. HISTORY [This] massively researched and clear-headed biography is a spectacular exercise in interdisciplinarity. CHURCH TIMES Supplies us with much new information about Stukeley's life and activities. JNL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY A welcome addition to the literature on this learned physician and cleric.... [This] well-rounded study significantly extends our understanding of Stukeley. BRITISH JOURNAL for the HISTORY OF SCIENCE. A judicious, sensitive, and rewarding book which describes Stukeley's own ideas and their intellectual context.. A fine biography and a fine work of intellectual history. SOUTHERN HISTORY

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