Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Stukeley's drawing points the way to Post Glacial Flooding

By Robert John Langdon

1721 drawing of the Stonehenge area by William Stukeley.

What is interesting is the prominence of the waterways and the dry river valleys.  Clearly the river Willy not only changed its name to Tilly today but has become much smaller, in fact its quite tiny, but three hundred years ago it was as big as the Avon.  This is a clear indication that the ground water levels have been falling, ever since the last ice age and if we 'reversed engineered' the falling water levels - this would give us a clear indication of the river levels in prehistoric times.

The Dry river valleys are clearly marked by Stukeley almost like existing river banks - is this because in Stukeleys time these were still wet from the waters they once contained?

I have placed the same markers on a modern OS map with the ancient water levels to compare it to Stukeley's.

The other aspect of great interest, is the foot paths that originated from the site three hundred years ago -before the mass of the modern road and path systems.  These foot paths were used AFTER the waters had finally retreated and dried out and general boat travel was no longer viable.  These 'pathway' pointers are clearly show that the three mound Stones, The Heel Stone, The North Station and The South Station pointed to Woodhenge, Avebury and Old Sarum and is the reason for other Stone circles that were built on the routes of these paths in the Late Neolithic/Bronze age.

As time goes by, its getting more difficult to understand how and why these monuments were built - Stukeley's drawing not only show us that the medieval paths were linked to the Mounded Stones but more importaintly, the environment was waterlogged and our ancestors built their monuments on high ground that were visited by a civilisation that utilised boats.


(by Robert John Langdon)


  1. I'm not sure, but I think the Willy might be an old spelling for 'Wylye' which the Till joins at Stapleford. The label on the map is just below the bit where the rivers meet.

    The river was definitely spelt 'Wiley' at some point - there's a Wiley Terrace in Wilton - and it's supposed to have given it's name to both Wilton and Wiltshire.

    The word itself is supposed to have the same route as 'wiley' in the sense of cunning or treacherous - as per Wile E. Coyote!

  2. Matt

    I'm sure your correct.

    Its a shame, I was hoping for some cartographical political correctness with a name change.

    Its certainly not cunning or treacherous today, rather meek and mild.