20th July 1562 - first recorded tourist at Stonehenge. Possibly.

The Swiss (or possibly German) Herman Folkerzheimer was the first recorded tourist to visit Stonehenge.[1]. Folkerzheimer was an acadmic staying with the then Bishop of Salisbury, Bishop Jewel.

Folerzheimer wrote that:

On the 20th of July we rode into the country with a large retinue, as the bishop said he would shew me some things that would astonish me.

When I saw the cavalcade in the middle of the plain, Why, said I, is not Josiah a witness of this? or Bullinger, or indeed any Zuricher? for as to Peter Martyr, he is well acquainted with all your circumstances. I wish, he replied, those worthy men were here. But what do you think they are now doing ? Perhaps, he said, they have finished their dinner, and I fancy that I see Martyr seated in his elbow chair.

When we had gone on a little farther, he very kindly pointed out to me the whole character and bearing of the neighbourhood.

There, says he, stretching out his arm, was formerly old Sarum; there are the mounds which you can distinguish even now, and there the ramparts.
And then, in another place, Here was a camp of the ancient Romans, of which these are the vestiges that we see.
At length we arrived at the place which Jewel had particularly wished me to visit, and respecting which I should hesitate to write what I have seen, unless I could confirm it by most approved witnesses; because it has generally been my custom, when I had ascertained anything to be true, which might at first sight appear incredible, rather to prefer not to mention it, than to describe it, lest I should be regarded as unworthy of credit.

I beheld, in a very extensive plain, at a great distance from the sea, in a soil which appeared to have nothing in common with the nature of stones or rocks, I beheld, I say, stones of immense size, almost every one of which, if you should weigh them, would be heavier than even your whole house. The stones are not heaped one upon another, nor even laid together, but are placed upright, in such a way that two of them support a third.

Put forth now the powers of your understanding, and guess, if you are able, by what strength, or rather (for what could strength do in such a case ?) by what mechanical power these stones have been brought together, set up, and raised on high? And then, for what object has this immense mass been erected?

The bishop says, that he cannot see by what means even the united efforts of all the inhabitants could move a single stone out of its place.

He is of opini[2]on, however, that the Romans formerly erected them here as trophies, and that the very disposition of the stones bears some resemblance to a yoke.


[1] Mike Pitts says that

The first Stonehenge visitor we can name was Herman Folkerzheimer, a Swiss student who found himself the privileged guest of Bishop Jewel of Salisbury. One summer day in 1562 they ‘rode into the country with a large retinue,’ arriving in the great open expanse of Salisbury Plain.

Folkerzheimer was almost dumbstruck, writing to Josias Simmler, a Zurich theologian and friend, to say that if he had not seen Stonehenge for himself, he would never have believed it
. http://www.historyextra.com/article/premium/stonehenge-prehistoric-tourist-trap

[2] Full text of “The Zurich letters, comprising the correspondence of several English bishops and others, with some of the Helvetian reformers, during the early part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth”