The Natural History of Wiltshire eBook

John Aubrey
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 257 pages of information about The Natural History of Wiltshire.

At Funthill Episcopi, higher towards Hindon, water riseth and makes a streame before a dearth of corne, that is to say, without raine; and is commonly look’t upon by the neighbourhood as a certain presage of a dearth; as, for example, the dearness of corne in 1678.

So at Morecomb-bottome, in the parish of Broad Chalke, on the north side of the river, it has been observed time out of mind, that, when the water breaketh out there, that it foreshewes a deare yeare of corne; and I remember it did so in the yeare 1648.  Plinie saieth (lib. ii.  Nat.  Hist.) that the breaking forth of some rivers “annonæ mutationem significant”.

[At Weston-Birt, in Gloucestershire, near the borders of Wiltshire, water gushes from the ground in spring and autumn, and at other times, in many hundred places at once, and continues to flow with great rapidity for several days, when the whole valley, in which the houses are placed, is completely filled.  The street of the village is provided with numerous rude bridges, which on these occasions become available for purposes of communication.-J.  B.]

’Tis a saying in the West, that a dry yeare does never cause a dearth.

Anno 1669, at Yatton Keynel, and at Broomfield in that parish, they went a great way to water their cattle; and about 1640 the springs in these parts did not breake till neer Christmas.


[This and the three succeeding chapters, on “Mineralls and Fossills,” “Stones,” and “Formed Stones”, comprise the Geological portions of Aubrey’s work.  In a scientific view, these chapters may be regarded as of little value; though creditable to their author as a minute observer, and enthusiastic lover of science.  It has been necessary to omit much which the progress of scientific knowledge has rendered obsolete; and in the passages quoted, the object has been to select such as possessed the most general interest, as well as having direct application to Wiltshire.  A good summary of the Geological characteristics of the county will be found in the article “Wiltshire,” in the Penny Cyclopædia.  Mr. John Provis, of Chippenham, contributed a similar sketch to the third volume of the Beauties of Wiltshire; and the geology of Salisbury and its vicinity is described in Hatcher’s History of Salisbury, by the son of the historian, Mr. W. H. Hatcher.-J.  B.]

This county hath great variety of earth.  It is divided, neer about the middle, from east to west into the dowries; commonly called Salisbury-plaine, which are the greatest plaines in Europe:  and into the vale; which is the west end of the vale of Whitehorse.

The vale is the northern part; the soile whereof is what wee call a stone-brash; sc. red earth, full of a kind of tile-stone, in some places good tiles.  It beareth good barley.  In the west places of the soile, wormewood growes very plentifully; whereas in the south part they plant it in their garden.

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The Natural History of Wiltshire from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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