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Arthur’s Oven was said to be “the best and most entire old building in Britain” but in 1743 it was demolished by Sir Michael Bruce.


Arthur’s Oven, the former Roman Antiquity near Falkirk, demolished in 1743.

William Stukeley responded: “From the bottom of my heart [I ]detest so abominable a stonekiller as that impious wretch, that demolisher of temples, Sir Michael Bruce. May his name be as odious to posterity as Herostratus’s [Stukeley’s name for Tom Robinson of Avebury]; and may he be condemned to lye 10,000 years in the sorry mildam, where he buryed those sacred stones, and still thirst on, Tantalus-like.”

And then, warming to his subject: “The demolition of Arthur’s Oon [Oven] is a most grievous thing to think on. I would propose, in order to make his name execrable to all posterity, that he should have an iron collar put about his neck like a yoke ; at each extremity a stone of Arthur’s Oven to be suspended by the lewis in thc hole of them: thus accoutred, let him wander on the banks of Styx,- perpetually agitated by angry demons with ox-goads; Sir Michael Bruce wrote on his back, in large letters of burning phosphorus.”

It’s a shame Stukeley’s recommended punishment isn’t applicable to those who would damage the Stonehenge World Heritage landscape. English Heritage et al loudly acknowledge that he pioneered the scholarly investigation of Stonehenge (and they recently noted the 254th anniversary of his death) so they can hardly claim his views on wanton destruction are irrelevant. Yet that’s exactly what they are supporting: wanton destruction (painted, by them alone, as “enhancement”).

Yet, the bottom line is THIS: it’s not theirs to destroy. Or enhance. (There’s still time to write to your MP!)


November 2020

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