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Quick view of plates in Volume One
- Title page and Table of contents [page 3 and page 4] (scholarly commentary)
- Plate i: A bronze lamp excavated from St. Leonard's Hill near Windsor (scholarly commentary)
- Plate ii: Horn of Ulf (scholarly commentary)
- Plate iii: Baptismal Font, in St. James' Church, Westminster (scholarly commentary)
- Plate iv: Ancient image of Richard II, King of England (scholarly commentary)
- Plate v: Three ancient figures (scholarly commentary)
- Plate vi: Ruins of Walsingham Abbey in the county of Norfolk (scholarly commentary)
- Plate vii: Waltham Cross, in the county of Middlesex (scholarly commentary)
- Plate viii: The ruins of the walls and city of Verulamium [St. Alban's] in the county of Hertford (scholarly commentary)
- Plates ix, x, xi and xii: Fountains Abbey in the county of York (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xiii and xiv:Three views of the Gate of St. Bennet’s Abbey in Norfolk, in two plates (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xv: The Tomb of Robart Colles and Cecili, his wif (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xvi: The Tomb of St. Edward the Confessor, King of England (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xvii: The North Front of the Gate at Whitehall (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xviii: The North Front of King's Street Gate (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xix: Plans of the two proceeding Gates, in one Plate (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xx: Coins of Henry VIII, Elizabeth and James I, Kings of England: Likewise, and image of Elizabeth Expressed in encaustic work (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xxi: Excerpt from Edward Hall's Chronicle of Henry VIII (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xxii, xxiii, xxiv, xxv and xxvi: The Tournament of Henry VIII, February 12, 1510: Ingraved from an ancient roll in the Heralds Office, London in six plates. A-S (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xxvii: The present day appearance of Furness Abbey in the county of Lancashire (scholarly commentary)
- Plates xxviii, xxix, xxx, xxxi, xxxii and xxxiii: Letters from the English Barons to Boniface VIII (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xxxiv: Head gilded from bronze, of ancient work, excavated at Aquae Sulis (Bath) (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xxxv: Distant view of Colchester Castle, Essex
- Plate xxxvi: Ground plan, south and east prospects of Colchester Castle
- Plate xxxvii: A table of English silver coins
- Plate xxxviii: A table of English gold coins
- Plate xxxix: Tutbury Castle, Staffordshire (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xl: Melbourne Castle, Derbyshire (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xli: Lancaster Castle, Lancashire (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xlii: Pontefract Castle, Yorkshire (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xliii: Coins struck in France and Flanders relating to the History of England
- Plate xliv: Knaresborough Castle, Yorkshire
- Plate xlv: Image of the greatly revered Thomas Tanner, Bishop of St. Asaph's and not long ago a most worthy associate of this society
- Plate xlvi: Tickhill an old castle
- Plate xlvii: A plan of the Roman roads in Yorkshire (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xlviii: Coins struck in France and Flanders relating to the History of England (scholarly commentary)
- Plate xlix: Ancient chapel adjoining to the Bishops palace at Hereford
- Plates L, LI and LII : Roman mosaic peacock (scholarly commentary)
- Plate liii: Antient seals
- Plate liv: Antient seals
- Plate lv: Fronts and backs of medals and gold coins
- Plate lvi: Gold and silver coins annotated with weights and values
- Plate LVII: Hypocaustum Romanun Lincolniae (scholarly commentary)
- Plate lviii: Antient seals
- Plate lix: Antient seals
- Plate lx: Antient seals
- Plate lxi: Winchester Cross
- Plate lxii: Decree imposed against the papal jurisdiction in England in the year 1534
- Plate lxiii: True and exact draft of the Tower Liberties
- Plate lxiv: Chichester cross
- Plate lxv: Astianax vicit Kalendio
- Plate lxvi: Portrait of Robert Cotton
- Plate lxvii: "Bibliothecae Cognominiis conditoris, Effigies, Ad archetypum opera depictum accurate expressa "
- Plate lxviii: Codice Geneseos Cottoniano Dissertatio Historica (excerpt)
- Plate lxix: Codice Geneseos Cottoniano Dissertatio Historica (excerpt)
- Plate lxx: Fragmentorum codicis Cottoniani libri Geneseos Tabula I
- Plate lxx: Fragmentorum codicis Cottoniani libri Geneseos Tabula II
- Standard of weights and measures in the Exchequer
- "View of the Court of Wards and Liveries with the Officers, Servants and other Persons there Assembled"
- Brief account of the Court of Wards and Liveries [page 1]
- Brief account of the Court of Wards and Liveries [page 2]
- Brief account of the Court of Wards and Liveries [page 3]
- 1 2015-07-11T17:02:11+00:00 Plate VIII: The ruins of the walls and city of Verulamium [St. Alban's] 20 Beginning of path [media files only] plain 166280 2016-02-29T12:04:33+00:00 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 51.7500,-0.3667
Plate VIII: Scholarly commentary
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0
George Vertue after William Stukeley in 1721.
Object:An extensively labeled map of the Roman remains of Verulamium with inset images of two ancient British coins and a section of Roman wall.
Provenance and Location:The Roman ruins today are encompassed by the modern city of St. Alban’s in Hertfordshire. Stukeley’s original map is preserved at the Society of Antiquaries of London.
Commentary [KH and NH]This plate shows a map of the ruined city of Verulamium in Hertfordshire, originally drafted and annotated by William Stukeley on a visit to the site in 1721. Verulamium, a municipium under Roman rule that had earlier been occupied by Britons, was subject to a series of wars and invasions, eventually becoming the town of St. Albans upon the construction of a Benedictine monastery in the 790s A.D. The abbey was built to honor the saint, who was England’s first martyr (Bohun 1710: 8; Heylyn 1709: 195). Verulamium is notable for having been controlled by many different groups over time and has connections to several important episodes in British history. The subject thus affords an opportunity for Stukeley to display both classical erudition and zeal for British antiquities in the same compass.
Verulamium was a wealthy city, and was the site of a mint even before the Roman invasion in the first century A.D. (Annual Register 1783: 132). Eighteenth-century accounts such as Collinson’s Beauties of British Antiquity noted the “several pieces of ancient money” found at Verulamium; these seem to match the coins illustrated on the map. The coins were observed to have the inscription “TASCIA” engraved on one side and “VER” on the other, signifying, according to this author, “the tribute of Verulam” since “Tasc, in the British tongue, signifies tribute” (Collinson 1779: 79). In fact, this inscription may refer to the Catuvellauni leader Tasciovanus. A traveler’s account included in the Annual Register for 1782 notes coins from the “British mints” containing “the word Ver… but no prince’s name to distinguish the reign,” linking them speculatively to the reign of “Cunoboline [a pre-Roman leader], whose coins are so frequent” (Annual Register 1783:132).
The town’s wealth made it appealing to invaders, one of whom was Boudicca, queen of the Iceni, who led a revolt in 60-61 A.D. An eighteenth-century account of the abbey, drawing on Tacitus for its account of this revolt against Roman occupation, declares that Verulamium was “rich and opulent… a greater temptation to a plundering foe than mere castles and military posts” (Newcome 1795: 3). Boudicca’s assault receives much attention in eighteenth-century accounts; the appearance of her name reinforces the importance of this episoide for the study of British antiquities. John Gifford’s History of England details Boudicca’s ill-treatment by the Romans in quasi-patriotic terms to justify her violent destruction of the Roman city. This queen of “dignified deportment” and “magnanimous spirit” roused the “flame of indignant virtue” in the Iceni and other groups of Britons (Gifford 1790: 19). Although not all accounts are so sympathetic to Boudicca’s cause, the destruction of Verulamium as a symbol of Roman rule is presented here as important in regaining lost British dignity.
The ancient site, labeled in large capitals, occupies a large proportion of the map and attracted the keen interest of many eighteenth-century observers. The wall, the outline of which is shown winding around the ancient city, seems to have been an impressive manifestation of Roman defenses. The writer whose travel account is included in the Annual Register for 1782 notes that these Roman walls were added onto pre-existing defenses of ditches and ramparts, an observation that exemplifies the merging of different layers of political and cultural influences on the site of Verulamium. He also observes that the area (once) enclosed within the wall is peculiar for being oval-shaped and “depart[ing] from the Rectangular form of the Romans.” It is “placed on a slope, and the other side bounded by the river Ver, which in former times might have… given greater security to the town” (Annual Register 1783: 131). The construction of the wall is illustrated in detail in the upper-right hand corner, corresponding to the Annual Register’s description of the twelve-foot-thick walls, arranged so that “By intervals of abo[ut] three feet distance, are three, and in some places four, rows of bro[ad] and thin bricks…which seem design[ed] as foundations to sustain the layers of flints and lime” (132). This 1782 account draws not only from the writer’s personal observation but from the present engraving of Stukeley’s map; the writer cites Stukeley’s measurement of Verulamium’s dimensions and in a note refers to his “admirable plan” of the city (132).
In the eighteenth century, the area formerly within the Roman walls was “inclosed into fields” (Annual Register 1783: 133), as portrayed on the plate. The same account notes that as the fields were being tilled, the ancient streets were revealed along with various artifacts under the hedges. The most notable was Watling-Street, a major road running all the way “from Dover into the north,” which was the source of the Saxon name of for Verulamium, Watlingcester (Geography 1744: 80). By juxtaposing the modern hedges with the ancient grid of streets, Stukeley’s map hints at the complex relationship between the “improvement” of land and the conservation of antiquities that is given pictorial form in other engravings in Vetusta Monumenta.
Verulamium / St. Albans also marks the site of intersecting religious traditions, residing at a symbolic juncture between the pagan past and a the rise of Christianity. The first English martyr, Saint Alban, was beheaded on Holmhurst Hill in the fourth century A.D. The Annual Register account describes St. Alban’s martyrdom at length, detailing some of the associated legends; according to this story, the executioner’s eyes fell out and a fountain sprang up, while a river that had been separating Holmhurst and Verulamium dried so that Alban’s followers could cross (Annual Register 1783: 133). Alban’s supposed remains were found by Ossa, King of the Mercians, who founded a Benedictine monastery on the site in the 790s (134; Bohun 1710: 8). The site of the monastery had held an earlier church that was destroyed in wars between the Britons and Saxons (Heylyn 1709: 195). The new abbey church was built partially from old Roman materials found around the area; Collinson notes that the “ancient part [of the Church of St. Alban] and the steeple are built entirely of Roman brick, fetched by the abbots from the old city” (Collinison 1779: 80). The new monastery became the basis for the town of St. Alban’s, and the abbot of St. Alban’s was, according to Peter Heylyn, given “precedency of all English abbots” by virtue of Alban’s position as the first English martyr (Heylyn 1709: 195).
The abbey was surrendered to Henry VIII in 1539 during the Dissolution of Monasteries, but the abbey church survived and was subsequently converted to a parish church (Heylyn 1709: 195-196). By this point, Verulamium was a place of conflicting identities, as is evident in The Ruines of Time, a poem written by Edmund Spenser in 1591, relatively soon after the harsh episode of the Dissolution. In the poem, Verulamium, or Verlame, personified as a woman, is presented as “sorrowfully [be]wailing” the unstoppable effects of time, lamenting that she once “the Garland wore / Of Britain’s Pride” but now must “lie in [her] own ashes.” Havng seen so much change and destruction over time, Verulamium aptly illustrates Spenser’s thesis that built monuments all eventually fall to ruin, and true longevity only comes from the written word. Scholars have noted that this poem is “informed by the Tudor destruction of the medieval Catholic past” and reflects the tensions present in the early years of English Protestantism, tensions resulting from the need to acknowledge that Early Modern Britain was built on a pagan and Catholic past and to reconcile the Protestant present with this past (Prendergast 2008: 178; cf. Melehy 2005). Stukeley and his collaborators, who consciously revived the Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries, has the benefit of historical distance in grappling with these tensions. Hence this map celebrates the rich historical texture created by religious and political conflict while also promising an enlightened overcoming of these differences.
Although Spenser’s Verlame admonishes her hearers that built works must, “as a Vapour[,] vanish and decay,” the city’s physical remains as of 1721 still bore abundant witness to many centuries of violence and transition. Some of the Roman remains have been repurposed, rather than “vanishing,” as noted by the eighteenth-century commentators who take interest in the use of Roman bricks to build a Catholic monastery and the subsequent conversion of this same abbey to a Protestant church. Each phase had built physically on the last, which is evident in Stukeley’s rendering of the city, containing items ranging from Roman walls to a cross built by Edward I in 1291 to the eighteenth-century town of St. Albans. Stukeley’s engraving celebrates the coexistence of the diverse historical layers that make up Verulamium. Clearly, even if Spenser’s Verlame insists that “vain Monuments of earthly Mass” are no match for the longevity of “wise Words… / Recorded by the Muses,” the phsyical site itself and the historical traces left behind in pieces of walls, evidence of roads, and excavated coins proved to be more and more intriguing for antiquaries in the centuries following Spenser; many of these remains, in fact, came to light only after Spenser’s time. By the time Vertue engraved Stukeley’s map in 1721, Verulamium could be seen to display many layers of historical resonance, all contributing to its—and by extension Britain’s—unique identity in the present.
Works CitedBohun, Edmund. 1710. A Geographical Dictionary Representing the Present and Antient Names and States of All the Countries, Kingdoms, Provinces, Remarkable Cities, Universities, Ports, Towns, Mountains, Seas, Streights, Fountains, and Rivers of the Whole World. London.
Collinson, John. 1779. The Beauties of British Antiquity; Selected from the Writings of Esteemed Antiquaries. London.
Gifford, John. 1790. The History of England, from the Earliest Times to the Peace of 1783. Vol. 1. London.
“Hertfordshire.” 1744. 79-80. The Geography of England. London.
Heylyn, Peter. 1709. A Help to English History. London. ESTC Number: N017458.
Melehy, Hassan. 2005. “Antiquities of Britain: Spenser’s Ruines of Time.” Studies in Philology 102.2: 159-183.
Newcome, Peter. 1795. The History of the Ancient and Royal Foundation, Called the Abbey of St.Alban, in the County of Hertford, from the Founding Thereof, in 793, to its Dissolution, in 1539. London.
Prendergast, Thomas A. 2008. “Spenser’s Phantastic History, The Ruines of Time, and the Invention of Medievalism.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 38.2: 175-196.
“Some Account of the antient Verulamium, near St. Albans—of its Ruins, &c.” 1783. The Annual Register, or a View of the History, Politics, and Literature, for the Year 1782. 131-35. London.
Spenser, Edmund. 1591. The Ruines of Time.