British Museum collections, £12.99
Bronze medal of William Stukeley and Stonehenge
England, around 1775
The Revd Dr William Stukeley (1687-1765), a
Stukeley believed that these pre-Roman sites had been built by 'Celts', led by their priests, the Druids. Mixing speculation with evidence from ancient texts, he concluded that the Celts were originally Phoenician colonists, who had 'civilized' Britain long before the Romans arrived. Stukeley painted a romantic but fictitious vision of the Druids worshipping at Stonehenge that has lasted to the present day.
The medal is unusual for this period, both in its size and because it was cast rather than struck from a die, which was how most British medals were made at this time. Stukeley's antiquarian interests may have played a part in this, since the earliest medals, made in fifteenth-century Italy, were cast.
The letters after
Stukeley's name record that he was a doctor of medicine and
fellow of both the
K. Sloan (ed.), Enlightenment. Discovering the (London, The British Museum Press, 2003)
L. Brown, A catalogue of British histori, 3 vols (London, Seaby, 1980-95)