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STONEHENGE – A ROMAN TEMPLE OR A BUILDING OF THE FIRST PARLIAMENT OF BRITAIN: DISCUSSION IN XVII CENTURY BRITISH ARCHITECTURAL THEORY

D. Shvidkovsky
Friday 9 November 2018 by Libadmin2018

ABSTRACT

The paper has its aim to determine the features of the search of national identity and its origins in the architectural theory in XVII century Britain. In spite of troublesome period of time the rule of Charles I, with its difficulties, which led to the revolution, Civil war, execution of the king, the pass of power to the Parliament, then restoration of Charles II one topic had been constantly present in the British architectural mentality. It was the question, who built Stonehenge and what that already famous ancient architectural monument meant for the self determination of the British Nation. The first architect and author to establish the investigation of the problem of Stonehenge was the most important figure in the artistic life of Britain of the first half of the XVII century Inigo Jones himself. He received the royal order to make the proper measurements of the stones and as the Result prepared a book "Stone-heng Restored..." (at that time they wrote heng, not henge), in which he proposed for the ancient monument a very regular and harmonious form and proclaimed it a Roman temple devoted to the God of Winds. It was important statement by which Inigo Jones wanted to underline that Britain had its own Roman heritage, as a truly civilized Nation. The book was published by his son-in law architect John Webb in 1655. After the Restoration of Charles II as the King, his medic Charles Charleston tried to oppose the opinion of Inigo Jones and published another important volume "Stone-heng Restored to the Danes..." He insisted that the famous antiquity had been built after the disintegration of the Roman Empire and was considered as a meeting place of the representatives of Scandinavian tribes, which invaded Roman Britain – Angles, Sacsons and Danes. He found some comparisons especially with the ruins of early medieval buildings in Denmark. His idea was that Stonehenge was not connected with the Roman culture, but on the contrary of the fairy-tales tribes with good kings and true democracy. The point of view of Charleston made John Webb terribly angry and he answered by truly remarkable book "Vindication of Stone-heng Restored..." Where he not only confirmed the position of Inigo Jones, but wrote a full compendium of the history of the architecture of the Ancient World – Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Israel and Rome. He gave the biblical interpretation to the forms of architectural orders, which had been later used in the unpublished manuscripts of Sir Christopher Wren. The center of the discussion still had been preserved devoted to the origin and future of the architecture in Britain and this promoted the vast investigation of different trends in national schools of construction in the Ancient East and Greece, sponsored by the British Society of Dilettanti during the next XVIII century in the continuous search of the architectural ideal.

Keywords: architecture, history, XVII century, Britain, Roman tradition, Danish influence, national identity, theory of British architecture


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