The stones at Easton-Piers are full of small cockles no bigger than silver half-pennies. The stones at Kington St. Michael and Dracot Cerne are also cockley, but the cockles at Dracot bigger. Cockleborough, near Chippenham, hath its denomination from the petrified cockles found there in great plenty, and as big as cockles. Sheldon, in the parish of Chippenham, hath its denomination from the petrified shells in the stones there.
At Dracot Cerne there is belemnites, as also at Tytherington
Lucas. They are like hafts of knives, dimly transparent,
having a seame on one side.
West from Highworth, towards Cricklad, are stones
as big, or bigger than one’s head, that lie
common even in the highway, which are petrified sea-mushromes.
They looke like honeycombs, but the holes are not
hexagons, but round. They are found from Lydiard
Tregoze to Cumnor in Barkshire, in which field I have
also seen them. [See page 9.-J. B.]
At Steeple Ashton are frequently found stones resembling the picture of the unicorne’s horn, but not tapering. They are about the bignesse of a cart-rope, and are of a reddish gray colour.
In the vicaridge garden at Bower Chalke are found petrified oyster shells; which the learned Mr. Lancelot Morehouse, who lived there some yeares, assured me: and I am informed since that there are also cockle shells and scalop shells. Also in the parish of Wotton Basset are found petrified oyster shells; and there are also found cornua ammonis of a reddish gray, but not very large. About two or three miles from the Devises are found in a pitt snake-stones (cornua ammonis) no bigger than a sixpence, of a black colour. Mr. John Beaumont, Junr., of Somersetshire, a great naturalist, tells me that some-where by Chilmarke lies in the chalke a bed of stones called “echini marini”. He also enformes me that, east of Bitteston, in the estate of Mr. Montjoy, is a spring,-they call it a holy well,-where five-pointed stones doe bubble up (Astreites) which doe move in vinegar.
At Broad Chalke are sometimes found cornua ammonis of chalke. I doe believe that they might be heretofore in as great abundance hereabout as they are about Caynsham and Burnet in Somersetshire; but being soft, the plough teares them in pieces; and the sun and the frost does slake them like lime. They are very common about West Lavington, with which the right honourable James, Earle of Abington, has adorned his grotto’s there. There are also some of these stones about Calne.
[The seventeenth century was peculiarly an age of scientific research and investigation. The substantial and brilliant discoveries of Newton induced many of his less gifted contemporaries to pursue inquiries into the arcana and profound mysteries of science; but where rational inferences and deductions failed, they too frequently had recourse to mere unsupported theory and conjectural speculation.