11th June 1668 - Samuel Pepys visits Stonehenge

Stonehenge alone at sunset 29th december 2016 (31)

Samuel Pepys visited Stonehenge. He thought the Stones were

as prodigious as any tales I ever heard of them, and worth going this journey to see. God knows what their use was: they are hard to tell, but yet may be told.

The phrase ‘they are hard to tell’ I think refers to the legend that it is impossible to count the stones of Stonehenge - ‘tell’ was (and is) sometimes used to mean ‘count’.

Pepys’ full entry for the 11th June 1668 is as follows:

11th. Thursday. Up, and W. Hewer and I up and down the town, and find it a very brave place. The river goes through every street; and a most capacious market-place. The city great, I think greater than Hereford. But the minster most admirable; as big, I think, and handsomer than Westminster: and a most large close about it, and horses for the officers thereof, and a fine palace for the Bishop. So to my lodging back, and took out my wife and people to show them the town and church; but they being at prayers, we could not be shown the quire. A very good organ; and I looked in and saw the Bishop, my friend Dr. Ward. Thence to the inns; and there not being able to hire coach-horses, and not willing to use our own, we got saddle-horses, very dear. Boy that went to look for them 6d. So the three women behind W. Hewer, Murford, and our guide, and I single to Stonehenge, over the plain and some great hills, even to fright us. Come thither, and find them as prodigious as any tales I ever heard of them, and worth going this journey to see. God knows what their use was: they are hard to tell, but yet may be told. Gave the shepherd-woman, for leading our horses, 4d. So back by Wilton, my Lord Pembroke's house, which we could not see, he being just coming to town; but the situation I do not like, nor the house at present much, it being in a low but rich valley. So back home; and there being light we to the church, and there find them at prayers again, so could not see the quire; but I sent the women home, and I did go in and saw very many fine tombs, and among the rest some very ancient of the Montagus. So home to dinner; and that being done, paid the reckoning, which was so exorbitant, and particular in rate of my horses, and 7s. 6d. for bread and beer, that I was mad, and resolve to trouble the mistress about it, and get something for the poor; and come away in that humour: 2l. 5s. 6d. Servants, 1s. 6d.; poor, 1s.; guide to the Stones, 2s.; poor woman in the street, 1s.; ribbands, 9d.; wash-woman, 1s.; sempstress for W. Hewer, 3s.; lent W. Hewer, 2s. Thence about six o'clock, and with a guide went over the smooth plain indeed till night; and then by a happy mistake, and that looked like an adventure, we were carried out of our way to a town where we would lie, since we could not go as far as we would. By and by to bed, glad of this mistake, because it seems, had we gone on as me pretended, we could not have passed with our coach, and must have lain on the plain all night. This day from Salisbury I wrote by the post my excuse for not coming home, which I hope will do, for I am resolved to see the Bath, and, it may be, Bristol.

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10th June 1668 – Samuel Pepys visits Salisbury « Salisbury, Wiltshire and Stonehenge

Image credit

This one was taken by me in December 2016

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