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.

I have not seen so many pied cattle any where as in North Wiltshire.  The country hereabout is much inclined to pied cattle, but commonly the colour is black or brown, or deep red.  Some cow-stealers will make a hole in a hott lofe newly drawn out of the oven, and putt it on an oxes horn for a convenient tune, and then they can turn their softned homes the contrary way, so that the owner cannot swear to his own beast.  Not long before the King’s restauration a fellow was hanged at Tyburn for this, and say’d that he had never come thither if he had not heard it spoken of in a sermon.  Thought he, I will try this trick.


Hungerford trowtes are very much celebrated, and there are also good ones at Marleborough and at Ramesbury.  In the gravelly stream at Slaughtenford are excellent troutes; but, though I say it, there are none better in England than at Nawle, which is the source of the streame of Broad Chalke, a mile above it; but half a mile below Chalke, they are not so good.  King Charles I. loved a trout above all fresh fish; and when he came to Wilton, as he commonly did every summer, the Earle of Pembroke was wont to send for these trowtes for his majesties eating.

The eeles at Marleborough are incomparable; silver eeles, truly almost as good as a trout.  In ye last great frost, 168-, when the Thames was frozen over, there were as many eeles killed by frost at the poole at the hermitage at Broad Chalke as would fill a coule; and when they were found dead, they were all curled up like cables. ["Coul, a tub or vessel with two ears.”  Bailey’s Dictionary.-J.  B.]

Umbers are in the river Nadder, and so to Christ Church; but the late improvement of drowning the meadowes hath made them scarce.  They are only in the river Humber besides. [Aubrey’s friend, Sir James Long, mentions these fish as “graylings, or umbers”.  They are best known by the former name.  Dr. Maton states that they are still to be found in the Avon, at Downton, where Walton speaks of them as being caught in his time.  Mr. Hatcher says that “the umber abounds in the waters between Wilton and Salisbury”. (History of Salisbury, p. 689.)-J.  B.]

Crafish are very plenty at Salisbury; but the chiefest places for them Hungerford and Newbury:  they are also at Ramesbury, and in the Avon at Chippenham.

        “Greeke, carps, turkey-cocks, and beere,
        Came into England all in a yeare.”

In the North Avon are sometimes taken carpes which are extraordinary good. [Besides giving “the best way of dressing a carpe”, Aubrey has annexed to his original manuscript a piece of paper, within the folds of which is inclosed a small bone.  The paper bears the following inscription:  “1660.  The bone found in the head of a carpe.  Vide Schroderi.  It is a good medicine for the apoplexie or falling sickness; I forget whether.”  Aubrey’s reference is to “Zoology; or the History of Animals, as they are useful in Physic and Chirurgery”; by John Schroderus, M.D. of Francfort Done into English by T. Bateson.  London, 1659, 8vo.

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