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.

When a boy I caught many of these fish in the pond at Kington St. Michael, both by angling and by baiting three or four hooks at the end of a piece of string and leaving them in the water all night.  In the morning I have found two, and sometimes three, large fish captured.  On one occasion “Squire White”, the proprietor of the estate, discharged his gun, apparently at me, to deter me from this act of poaching and trespassing. — J. B.]

As for ponds, we cannot boast much of them; the biggest is that in Bradon Forest.  There is a fair pond at West Lavington which was made by Sir John Danvers.  At Draycot Cerne the ponds are not great, but the carpes very good, and free from muddinesse.  In Wardour Parke is a stately pond; at Wilton and Longleat two noble canals and severall small ponds; and in the parke at Kington St. Michael are several ponds in traine. [The latter ponds are supplied by two springs in the immediate vicinity, forming one of the tributaries of the Avon.  The stream abounds with trout, many of which I have caught at the end of the summer season, by laving out the water from the deeper holes. - J. B.]

Tenches are common.  Loches are in the Upper Avon at Amesbury.  Very good perches in the North Avon, but none in the Upper Avon.  Salmons are sometimes taken in the Upper Avon, rarely, at Harnham Bridge juxta Sarum. [On the authority of this passage, Dr. Maton includes the salmon among the Wiltshire fish; but he adds, “I know no person now living who has ascertained its having ascended the Avon so far as Salisbury.”  Hatcher’s Hist, of Salisbury, p. 689.-J.  B.]

Good pikes, roches, and daces in both the Avons.  In the river Avon at Malmesbury are lamprills (resembling lampreis) in knotts:  they are but..... inches long.  They use them for baytes; and they squeeze these knotts together and make little kind of cheeses of them for eating.


We have great plenty of larkes, and very good ones, especially in Golem-fields and those parts adjoyning to Coteswold.  They take them by alluring them with a dareing-glasse,* which is whirled about in a sun-shining day, and the larkes are pleased at it, and strike at it, as at a sheepe’s eye, and at that time the nett is drawn over them.  While he playes with his glasse he whistles with his larke-call of silver, a tympanum of about the diameter of a threepence.  In the south part of Wiltshire they doe not use dareing-glasses but catch these pretty ætheriall birds with trammolls.

* ["Let his grace go forward, and dare us with his cap like larks.” - Shakspere, Henry viii.  Act iii. sc. 2.]

The buntings doe accompany the larkes.  Linnets on the downes.  Woodpeckers severall sorts:  many in North Wilts.

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