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.

Pebbles. — The millers in our country use to putt a black pebble under the pinne of ye axis of the mill-wheele, to keep the brasse underneath from wearing; and they doe find by experience, that nothing doth weare so long as that.  The bakers take a certain pebble, which they putt in the vaulture of their oven, which they call the warning-stone:  for when that is white the oven is hot.

In the river Avon at Lacock are large round pebbles.  I have not seen the like elsewhere.  Quaere, if any transparent ones?  From Merton, southward to the sea, is pebbly.

There was a time when all pebbles were liquid.  Wee find them all ovalish.  How should this come to passe?  As for salts, some shoot cubicall, some hexagonall.  Why might there not be a time, when these pebbles were making in embryone (in fieri), for such a shooting as falls into an ovalish figure?

Pebbles doe breake according to the length of the greatest diameter:  but those wee doe find broken in the earth are broken according to their shortest diameter.  I have broken above an hundred of them, to try to have one broken at the shortest diameter, to save the charge and paines of grinding them for molers to grind colours for limming; and they all brake the long way as aforsayd.

Black flints are found in great plenty in the chalkie country.  They are a kind of pyrites, and are as regular; ’tis certain they have been “in fluore”.

Excellent fire-flints are digged up at Dun’s Pit in Groveley, and fitted for gunnes by Mr. Th.  Sadler of Steeple Langford.

Anno 1655, I desired Dr. W. Harvey to tell me how flints were generated.  He sayd to me that the black of the flint is but a natural vitrification of the chalke:  and added that the medicine of the flint is excellent for the stone, and I thinke he said for the greene sicknesse; and that in some flints are found stones in next degree to a diamond.  The doctor had his armes and his wife’s cutt in such a one, which was bigger than the naile of my middle finger; found at Folkston in Kent, where he told me he was borne.

In the stone-brash country in North Wilts flints are very rare, and those that are found are but little.  I once found one, when I was a little boy learning to read, in the west field by Easton Piers, as big as one’s fist, and of a kind of liver colour.  Such coloured flints are very common in and about Long Lane near Stuston, [Sherston ?-J.  B.] and no where else that I ever heard of.

It is reported that at Tydworth a diamond was found in a flint, which the Countess of Marleborough had set in a ring.  I have seen small fluores in flints (sparkles in the hollow of flints) like diamonds; but when they are applied to the diamond mill they are so soft that they come to nothing.  But, had he that first found out the way of cutting transparent pebbles (which was not long before the late civill warres) kept it a secret, he might have got thousands of pounds by it; for there is no way to distinguish it from a diamond but by the mill.

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