Leveson Francis Vernon-Harcourt.

The doctrine of the deluge; vindicating the Scriptural account from the doubts which have recently been cast upon it by geological speculations online

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healed the earth which it surrounded, by washing away its mortal
sins j hence he is represented in one instance resting upon the club
or mountain. — Montfaufon, i. 286. pi. 187.


torn being inquired, he replied, that if the worst
should come to the worst, it was better not to
affront so formidable a person, by neglecting to
speak of him with respect. Mr. Deane, therefore,
is probably right, when he denominates this ancient
monument a Dracontium, or temple of the serpent \
and that opinion is confirmed by etymology : for
Hak, or Ak, in the old Breton language, as well
as in the old Persian and ancient British, is said to
have signified a serpent. In that case it is obvious,
that Carnac means the Cairn, or hill of the serpent^;
and Le Maenac, another spot over which this
temple extends, signifies the stones of the
serpent : and since Oub has the same significa-
tion, Penab is the head of the serpent.* But
still the conqueror of the serpent was more
respected than his vanquished adversary, and,
accordingly, Michael, which being interpreted is,
" Who but God," is placed on the summit of the
hill, where his victory was most conspicuous ; and
the priest, who took his name from the god whom
he served, as the Pythoness did from Python, was
called by a name which he has transferred to the
Christian priest, Belech, which is equivalent to
Bel Ak, the Lord of the Serpent ; and thus we see
how Bel and the Dragon came to be associated
together in the Aprocryphal book, which goes by
that name.*

Balak the king of Moab was perhaps one of these

' Deane's Observations on Dracontiaj p. 23.

2 Exactly the same name occurs near Thebes in Egypt, and that
Carnac too is a temple .belonging to the same religious system.

3 Ibid. p. 30. 4 Numbers, xxii. and xxiii.


priests ; for among the heathen nations the pon-
tifical and regal characters were often united in
one person ; and we may observe that he offered
sacrifices and introduced Balaam into the high
places of Baal, which the Greek version calls Stelffi,
or pillars. St. Michael is exhibited in his character
of Lord of the Serpent upon an antique gem, where
he appears grasping the neck of that monster, and
treading upon his body.' If M. Mahe had taken
these circumstances into his consideration, he would
not have been surprised to find him placed so fre-
quently on the summit of a cone, nor disposed to
ridicule the idea, that he was in the middle of a
vast Dracontium. Nevertheless, his views upon
this subject in another respect are perfectly correct:
beholds, that the stones which cover that extensive
area, were erected there for the purpose of worship
by worshippers of stones ^ : and certainly it would
be difficult to imagine a more imposing scene than
would be there presented to the eyes of the votaries
of that singular superstition ; for they are planted
in eleven long unequal rows with an average dis-
tance between them of 350 feet^: ten thousand of
them have been counted, and some are fifteen feet
in height. They appear to have extended from sea
to sea across the tongue of land on which Quiberon
stands. But why should any being possessed of
one particle of reason pay divine honours to a stone?
Of all the phenomena of religious eccentricity this
is surely the most unaccountable upon all the or-

' Hoffmann. ^ Deane, p. 38.

^ Roberts mentions sixteen rows, and the broadest only forty
paces wide. — Antiquities of Wales, p. 50.


dinary principles of human action. The elements
may appear to the materialist invested with a crea-
tive power, and therefore to be worshipped. The
heavenly bodies have a refulgence and a glory,,
which clothes their majestic motion with a mys-
terious awfulness,. and may impress the ignorant
spectator with a belief,, that they are superior in-
telligences, the guardians of this dark earth : and
if it were possible, that men could be the vice-
gerents and representatives of God after death, it
might seem no unreasonable homage to their dei-
fied spirits to honour the statues which were sup-
posed tO' resemble and distinguish them. But what
motive could tempt any man to expose himself to
the derision of worshipping a mere shapeless mass
of stone ? If nothing of the same kind therefore
were to be seen elsewhere, it would be quite in-
credible that religion would account for the stones
at Carnac : it might be supposed that they were
a freak of some capricious potentate setting all
reason at defiance. But when we find monuments
of the same description, though not of the same
extent, spread over a. large portion of the ancient
world, it is impossible not to refer them to some
general principle ; and we are forced to conclude,
that if we could only go deep enough into the
history of error, we should find the root from which
they all originate. In the British Isles they par-
ticularly abound, sometimes single, sometimes in a
line, sometimes circular, as atRoUdritch andStone-
henge. No doubt can be entertained, that both
these circles were constructed upon the same prin-


ciples, and by the same sort of people. It has been
contended, that the latter exhibits a knowledge of
astronomy, and is nothing less than a huge orrery
representing a part of the solar system. But with
respect to the former, the Welsh have preserved a
tradition, which seems almost intended to contradict
that hypothesis, and to prove that their origin must
be referred not to the certainties of science, but to
the mysteriousness of a dark superstition. It is
said, that the number of the stones in the circle
cannot be reckoned truly, for that in reckoning
them a second time the number will be found dif-
ferent from that of the first.' Maburg near Pen-
rith is a large circular area inclosed with a bank,
in the centre of which three or four large irre-
gularly shaped stones once stood, of which how-
ever only one remains. The Giant's Grave consists
of two pillars, five yards apart, and four in height;
and between them four stones, forming segments
of circles, inclose a narrower space of ground than
is usually taken up by a common grave. The
vulgar name therefore is as entirely a misnomer, as
the Giant's Thumb in the churchyard, which is six
feet high, and has a three-headed summit, pierced
with two holes. The use of these may be con-
jectured from that to which a similar monument in
the Orkneys was actually applied not very long ago.
At Stenhouse in Pomona there is a semicircle, or
rather a crescent ^ of those stones commonly called

1 Roberts's Antiq. of Wales, p. 220.

2 Maurice notices this as well as a similar monument at Trer
Drew, or Druid's Town in Mona or Anglesey, and observes, that their
crescent-like forms evince the original purpose of their fabrication. —
Ind. Antiq. vi. Igl.


Druidical, and on the right of it another single
stone, eight feet high, three broad, and nine and a
half thick, with a round hole on the side next the
lake. About I77O a young man was convicted of
seducing a girl under promise of marriage. The
elders were particularly severe, and their reason
was, that he had broken the promise of Odin ; that
is, a promise made by the contracting parties join-
ing their hands through this hole.' Now it is
certain, that the elders knew more of Noah than
they did of Odin. If therefore the legendary ve-
neration for the stone imparted so great a solem-
nity to the contract in their eyes, notwithstanding
their utter disbelief of the subject of that legend,
what should hinder us from transplanting the
founder of all that veneration out of the regions of
fable into those of real history, and recognising in
Odin one of the Patriarch's immediate descendants^,

1 Transactions of the Society of AntiquarieSj i. 263.

^ Annius of ViterbOj the false BerosuSj calls Britain Samothea
from Samothes, the sixth son of Japhet. Odin is perhaps the same as
that Teithan who was the great Hu of the Britons, the god of the
mysterieSj the thundering Beli. Budd was the giver of good, the Lord
of the sea, the teacher of agriculture, tjie Stammvater of all men. —
Barth, Ueber die Druiden, p. 66. And in that case, what was said
of Euboea will be true of Britain : Titanas in ea antiquissime
regnasse ostendunt ritus religionum. — Sol. Polyhist. c. 1 1 . Teithan
may be a jumble between Tenth and VToden ; for they were the
same person. Teut, says Barth, was the same as Belenus, and Kro-
nus, and Bacchus ; for Bacchus, and Hercules, and Mercury were all
one. But Mercury was Budda, and so was Woden ; but it is also
possible that the T in the beginning may have been only a prefix ; as
in Yorkshire at this day. The Horse is abbreviated into Torse : and
no more violence would be done to the word, than that of which the
Romans were guilty, when they converted the old Etrurian Esar
into Csesar, which, according to Suetonius, signified Dominus, and
so coincided with the Esa and Iswara of the Hindoos, and the Isis
and Osiris of the Egyptians.



probably the same whose memory has been pre-
served under the names of Budha and Woden.
The other pillars at Penrith serve in a different
way to illustrate the same propensity to receive into
the service of religion the sacred monuments of a
former age ; for they were enlisted in the cause of
Christianity by the inscription of the cross. At
Barkisland, which may be either the Shipisland, or
the Baris-land, on Ringstone Edge Moor, in the
parish of Halifax, there is a small ring of stones,
which, though rude and confused, have been con-
sidered of importance enough to give their name
to the whole moor on which they stand.

At Stansfield, is a pillar called the Bride, five
yards high : another, now thrown dotvn, is called
the Groom, which evidently means the bridegroom,
and the two names denote the union of design in
both those monuments. Near Boroughbridge,
three pillars, nearly in a straight line, but at a con-
siderable distance from each other, are denominated
the Devil's Arrows ' ; where we may perceive the
same symptoms of religious strife, as in the conflict
between Hercules and Jupiter, who is said to have
used stones for weapons. Borlase observes that,
in a village called Men Perken, which is equivalent
to The Stone of Barkisland, there stood, about five
years before he wrote, a large pyramidal stone,
twenty feet above the ground : but alas ! it has

^ In Sowerby there is a rude stone pillar of the same sort very
mossyj and near six feet high. At Rudstone, in Yorkshire, there is
another twenty-four feet high. The Clack an Druidshall in the He-
brides stands alone on a moor with no tradition of its use : it is six-
teen feet high, four in breadth, and three in thickness.


been cut away into stone posts for gates ; and in
the sides of Sharpy Tor and Wringcheese, he
saw many large stones of a rude columnar shape,
now lying prostrate, but formerly without doubt
erect. ^ These stones are usually arranged in a
circle ; and upon this subject the same writer has
a remark which, when the dihgence with which he
studied it is considered, must be allowed to go far
towards demolishing the astronomical hypothesis ;
for because in one or two instances it has been sup-
posed, upon very slight evidence, that some smaller
circles consisted originally of thirty stones, and the
larger ones of 360, it has been argued, that they
represented the revolution of the moon round the
earth, and of the earth round the sun ; although
neither the one number nor the other corresponds
accurately to the fact. In the same way, and with
as little foundation, Vallancey contends that the
Irish dedicated their obelisks to the sun and moon,
to Moloc Bal and Eaga Bal ; for, says he ^, Mole
is fire, and Eag, or Eac, is the moon, as well as Re
and Ire ; in Arabic Riha. But he himself refutes
his own statement, that Mole is an epithet of the
sun, by adding from Juriev an acknowledgement,
that " Le Moloch des Syriens etoit tres assurement
le Saturne des Romains et des Grecs ; " for it has
been shown that Saturn, the first Melech, or King,
was certainly the Patriarch Noah ; and therefore .
we are not surprised to find, that, in the land of
Ham, his son, under the name of Osiris, is de-

1 Antiquities of Cornwall, p. 156.

2 Vindication of Ireland in Collectanea, iv. 214.

X 2


scribed in an inscription upon an Egyptian column
mentioned by Evander as the eldest of all men,
after his parents, king Cronus and Rea.' But that
obelisks should be dedicated to Rea, which is, as
Vallancey rightly interprets it, the moon, or to
Eac, which is the same as the Egyptian loch, is
only the natural consequence of their connection
with the horns of her crescent, since both are in
truth memorials of the same thing. Hence the
pillar stone was called by the Irish, Barr Chean ^
which seems to have the same relationship to the
Bari of the Egyptians, and the Chann or Chandra
of the Hindoos: and hence Sophocles speaks of
Artemis, or the moon, as giving renown to the
circular throne of assembly^ ; where we may also
observe, that, on account of the reverence in which
these circles were held, we may conclude that the
elders and chiefs sometimes assembled there, to
deliberate on important matters, like the Witten-
agemot of our ancestors. But that they had any
connection with astronomical science, is a notion
most evidently disproved by the description which
Borlase gives of those which he had examined.
In the circular monuments, says he, the number of
the stones is for the most part different, and their
distance from one another : he had not noticed in
any more than seventy-seven. In or near the centre
of some stands a stone taller than the rest ; in the

1 Orphic Poems in the FragmentSj p. 365.

2 Vallancey translates Barr Chean fastigium capitis (p. 470.),
•which is an interpretation wholly destitute of meaning, as far as
I can see. But Barr is properly in Irish a hill ; and the piUar was
a representative of the hill of the moon.

* 'A KVKkoevr' dyofai; ^ooW Ev/cXta S'ao-o-ef, — ^d. Tyr. I67.


middle of others a Kistvaen, or stone cavity ; a
Cromlech distinguishes the centre of some circles,
and some remarkable rock that of others.' Now
it has never been pretended that Kistvaens, and
Cromlechs, and shapeless rocks were ever considered
emblems of the sun ; but they were Arkite monu-
ments, and had a relation to the Deluge, which has
been partly explained, and will be further elucidated
by and bye. But moreover, the form is sometimes
oval ; as at Kerris, in Cornwall. Will it be said
the Druids knew that the orbit of the earth was
elliptical ? On a cairn adjoining to the Giant's Castle
in St. Mary's, Scilly, the back of the rock is cleared
of all unevenness, and the area measures 172 feet
in one direction, and only 138 in the other, and
there is no uniformity in the shape of the stones,
and they do not seem to have been placed at any
calculated equal distances.* The same evidence is
given by Mr. Anderson, who had examined several
hundred of such places. His opinion is, that stones
placed in a circular form, and for the most part on
an eminence, were evidently places destined for
religious worship ; but they are quite irregular in
size and shape : only the largest seem to have been
selected ; but no particular number of stones seems
to have been preferred to any other. It was enough
that the circle should be distinctly rnarked out.
But not only were they quite unconnected with the
motions of the heavenly bodies, but, in some in-
stances, especial pains seem to have been taken to
mark their diluvian origin. For they are all situ-

1 Antiquities of Cornwall, p. 181. ^ Ibid. p. 187.

X 3


ated very near water, by the side of a lake or river ;
and at Trescow, in Scilly, a great rude stone, nine-
teen feet in length, has a circular trench round the
bottom, edged with a line of rude and unequal
stones. If therefore the trench were fiUed with
water, the central rock would be insulated. So also
on a high hill, called Karn Menelez ', the central
pillar is formed by four flat stones, placed one upon
another, the upper one which is circular, being
nineteen feet in length ; and that too is surrounded
by a trench with a diameter like the other, of
about six and thirty feet.^ In the Island of Lewis,
or, as the Gaels pronounce it, Leohus, one of the
Hebrides, there is a circle of stones, on a rising
ground, above the village of Calernish, with one in
the centre, which is exceeding high. Each of them
has a hollow round its base, which retains the rain
water ; and round that in the centre, the principal
representation of the Diluvian Mount, it is very
wide.^ It is remarkable that these circles, of which
there are many in the island, are called by the
country people Tavursanan ; for since Tavursach
signifies mournful, it is an expression very suitable
to the memorial of that tragic catastrophe, by
which a world was lost ; and it reminds us of the
mourning rites in India and in Egypt. Another
of these circular temples in Harries, which is an-
other of the Western Isles, and the most westerly of
them all, is most unequivocally Arkite ; for in the

1 Menelez seems to be, Men, the stone — El Ess, of the god of
the ship.

2 Antiquities of Cornwall, p. 189.
s Trans, of Soc. of Antiq. i. 285.


middle of twelve obelisks, about seven feet high,
it has another in the centre nearly twice that
height, shaped like the rudder of a ship.' These
circles abound along the Grampians ; for the Arkite
system clung most tenaciously to islands, and to
mountains. Yet the rule does not always hold
good; for the Arkites being divided into sects,
one form of commemoration was chosen by one
party, and one by another : hence the conical
towers abound in Caithness, but are not found south
of Inverness ; while, on the other hand, the circles
are not to be seen to the south of the Grampians,
nor to the north of Inverness.^ The Cattae, who
peopled the former country, were a distinct race
from the Celts, who settled themselves in the latter
district ; and therefore the two modes of comme-
morating the same event introduced by two per-
fectly different tribes, who entered the country in
all probability from two opposite quarters, the one
arriving from the north, and the other from the
south, or at least from Ireland, strongly corroborate
the argument in favour of the Arkite hypothesis,
when both are perceived to have a natural and ob-
vious connection with that event, which they are
supposed to commemorate.

But the circles which are commonly called Druid-
ical have obtained that designation for no other
reason than this : they are the oldest reUgious mo-
numents with which we are acquainted ; and the
history of religion in this country goes back no

Maurice's Ind. Antiq. vi. 122.
^ Archsologia, by Mr. Anderson, vol. v.

X 4


higher than the Druids. But it is evident that
they had no dependance upon the local peculiarities
of Druidism; for similar circles have been dis-
covered in various and distant regions of the an-
cient world, regions in vi^hich the name of Druid
was never heard. Clarke observed them on Ida,
and on Lebanon ; Ouseley in Persia'; Heber^ and
Coxe in Sweden and Norway, where they usually
surround a small hill containing a cell or stone-built
grotto. A physician sent by the emperor of Russia
in 1721 to explore Siberia found about the middle
of the Steppe to the west of the town of Krasnogar
a kind of needle, or spire, cut out of one white
stone about sixteen feet high, and some hundreds
of other small ones about four or five feet high set
round about the first, although there are no quar-
ries for a hundred leagues round about, from
whence those stones could be dug.*^ In Africa the
pillar of Mazora, known to the Moors by the name
of El Uted, or the Peg, is placed on the edge of a
large circular tumulus, which is nearly surrounded
by irregularly shaped upright stones eighty-six in
number, and in general about a yard asunder :
some are three or four feet high, and two or three
are conical. The pillar is a single block of stone
sixteen feet high, and nine in circumference. A few
feet from the ground, in the same vicinity, there are
other groups of similar stones, one of which is

1 Travels in the East, ii. 132.

2 Heber mentions the number of Runic columns in Sweden and
a cairn with a circle of stones. — Life by Mrs. Heber, p. 49.

3 Account of Northern Asia, 1729, by Abul Ghazi, ii. 556.


conical.' About a hundred yards to the north of the
pillar is a collection of nine other stones, like the
circle near Rowtor Rocks, called The Nine Ladies,
with a single stone near them called The King. In
former times it would have been called Moloch,
whom Milton appropriately describes as a " sceptred
king, whose trust was with the Eternal to be deemed
equal in strength."^ Thus the mountain peak was
confounded by idolatry with the Patriarch, and ad-
mitted to a share of his regal honours. But some-
times the Arkite priests personated the Lord of the
mountain, of whom they were supposed to be suc-
cessive incarnations, and so the rock idols became
representatives of the priests, and consequently
were multiplied, according to the caprice of super-
stition. Strong evidence in confirmation of this
view of the subject is furnished by the sovereign
pontiff of the Tatars even at the present day. He
is called the Dalai Lama *, or oceanic priest : he
pretends to divinity, and passes in the opinion of
those of his worship for immortal : he hves at the
top of a very high mountain, near Putala, on the
confines of China ; and 20,000 Lamas, or priests,
dwell in several circles round about it.* Here then
we have a mountain divinity, whose titlfe is derived
from the ocean, of which the nearest point is many
hundred miles distant from his residence, and a
circular arrangement of persons, who have a sacred
connection with their exalted chieftain. "When

• Brookes's Travels in MoroccOj ii. 44. 2 Paradise Lost, ii. 43.
^ Dalai signifies a vast extent, or the ocean ; but the latter is

obviously the primary meaning of the vrord. »

* Account of Tartaryj from the notes of Abul Ghazi, ii. 486.


therefore Olaus Magnus tells us that it was one of
Woden's laws to erect high stones on the graves of
famous men, we may easily perceive how that tra-
dition took its rise, since "Woden is no other than
Budh, and Putala is the Alaya or residence of Phut.







But it is possible that they, who have never
examined or considered this subject sufficiently,
may doubt whether a mere stone, with no pretence
of resemblance to any organised being, was ever in
fact regarded as an object of religious veneration.
I proceed therefore to adduce evidence to this
effect from various quarters of the world. First then
in classic mythology, which most particularly dei-
fied the human form, and in countries where the
arts sprung up into such sudden maturity, that
neither want of skill nor want of taste could be
supposed to restrain the hand of the carver, plain
stones were worshipped. The representation of
Venus Urania, of whose temple the Greeks could
give no account, was a quadrangular stone, like
the Hermae, which have been already noticed.' At
Pharffi (from Bari) Hermes had a statue sacred to
him, as well as a fountain ; for water was made an
appendage to the rock, wherever it conveniently
could : but his statue was square at the bottom,
and had about thirty rectangular stones around it,
to which the Pharians gave the names of their

^ Pausanias in Atticis, lib. i.


gods ; and the historian declares, that in ancient
times white stones received divine honours from
all the Greeks^ instead of statues. The same
author describes a circle at Conia near the con-
fluence of the Alpheus and the EUsson, in which
there is a perpetual fountain, and near it a figure
of Ammon resembling the quadrangular Hermae,
with the horns of a ram upon his head ^ probably-

Online LibraryLeveson Francis Vernon-HarcourtThe doctrine of the deluge; vindicating the Scriptural account from the doubts which have recently been cast upon it by geological speculations → online text (page 21 of 44)