Bath | Stonehenge | Paganism | Ley Lines| Druids | Masonic Lodge
It is said that the Circus is joined to the Royal Crescent by a ley-line, that they
The Royal Circus is the same circumference as Stonehenge
represent the sun and the moon, and that Brock St which links them is the most paranormally active street in Bath! The circumference of the Circus also matches – almost exactly – that of the inner circle of rocks at Stonehenge, the most famous druid monument of them all.
The Circus really does epitomise the elegance of Georgian Bath. Beautiful curved terraces of Bath limestone sweep round in a circle, and it doesn’t take much to imagine the ladies and gentlemen of society on this street. So charming and respectable – but look closer….
The Circus was designed by the architect John Wood, who had a fascination with Paganism. He incorporated his interest into the buildings around the crescent, all of which are adorned with Pagan and naturalistic carvings such as pan pipes and mystical figures, each one quite individual. At the top of each house is an acorn. The circular crescent represents the sun, and the Royal Crescent, which he also designed, represents the moon. It is said that the road that connects the two is an ancient ley line.
John Wood the Elder – Stanton Drew Circle and Stonehenge.
Bath is famed for its neo-classical architecture but what underpins the thinking of the 18th century architect John Wood when he drew the designs for The Circus is a strange mish-mash of legend and myth, this of course is the age of the new ‘druidism’ that took hold when such figures as William Stukeley called such places as Stonehenge the Druidical Temple.
Fertile imaginations played with the ideas of sacrificial wicker constructions filled with victims, and Wood took it much further and in his book - A Description of Bath, he writes a history for Bath that is at once absurd yet full of that energetic imaginings that are still to be found in today’s new age books.
To understand why Wood designed The Circus as he did one must go back to the myths that formed the literature of the 18th century. Wood, though including neo-classical forms in the building, was not returning to a Roman past but a pre-Roman past steeped in the myths of a Britannic origin. The myth can be found in the 12th century writings of Geoffrey of Monmouthshire, and according to (R. S. Neal – Bath, A Social History) a 16th century edition of Monmouth’s book written in Paris was very much alive in the oral tradition of Bath. Putting stone circles and Druids together seems rather strange, but Wood thought that the chief ensign of the Druids was a ring.
So as he began to plan his city on paper, he incorporated the pagan elements, but also he was relating the pagan symbol of the circle back to Jewish symbolism, therefore Christian, and then British and Greek, which led quite nicely to the “Divine Architect” who was of course God. This is all creative flummery, a mixing of ideas, so when we look at The Circus we see classical lines, but with little touches of druidism – in the acorns that sit atop the surrounds of the roofs – and the frieze which incorporates specific symbols of Masonic details.
First though must come the story of Bladud, the founding father of Bath, an exiled prince because of his leprosy, whilst out herding pigs one day happened to notice that the pigs loved to roll in the hot muds of the spring. Bladud also tried this and was cured, and then went on to found the city of Bath on the spot. Our mythical King Bladud is given a date of 480 BC, and as Wood saw it Bladud created the city about the size of Babylon. Bladud was a descendant of a Trojan prince, a high priest of Apollo and a ‘Master of Pythagoras’. Therefore this high priest was a devotee of the heliocentric systems of the planets from which the Pythagorean system was derived. That the Works of Stantondriu (Stanton Drew) form a perfect model of the Pythagorean system of the planetary world
Do the 108 acorns on the parapets refer to the story of ‘Prince Bladud’ (the founder of Bath) or a reference to the Druids and oak trees ?
At Stanton Drew it must have taken him many hours, with his assistant wandering round taking measurements of the circles, which were probably at this time partly covered in orchards. There was a precedence for this fascination with megalithic stones, Stukeley and Inigo Jones were all entranced by these heathen stones of an earlier age, and the development of myths round druidic religions were already forming and capturing imaginative minds – a bit like today.
Now Stanton Drew was, according to Wood, the university for British Druids, which thereby made Bath the metropolitan city seat of the British Druids. ‘And since there is an apparent connection between the ancient works of Akmanchester (Bath) and those of Stantondriu, it seems manifest that the latter constituted the University of the British Druids; that this was the university which King Bladud, according to Merlyn of Caledon planted; that it was at Stantondrui the king feated his four Athenian colleagues and that they were not only the heads of the British Druids in those early ages, but, under Bladud, the very founder of them‘
The Circus is based on a diameter of 318 feet, Wood’s rough measurements of the circumference of the stone circle at Stonehenge, the terraced houses form a perfect circle around a ‘timber’ circle of planted trees in the centre. There is an early drawing by J.R.Cozens which shows hitching stone post for the horses arranged symmetrically round the The Circus which would give the allusion of stones.
Wood also incorporated into his thinking the hills around Bath, giving them various titles such as Sun and Moon Hill, and The Parade is also aligned on Solsbury Hill which had an Iron Age settlement on top. The Royal Crescent built by his son John Wood the Younger, was crescent shaped representing the moon.
Where you might ask is the masonic symbolism, well it is only seen from the air, taking The Circus as the round part of the key walk down Gay Street to Queens Square which is square, and you will see the ‘key’ of Bath.
What is a Ley Line?
Ley lines are alleged alignments of a number of places of geographical interest, such as ancient monuments and megaliths, natural ridge-tops and water-fords. Their existence was suggested in 1921 by the amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins, in his books Early British Trackways and The Old Straight Track. Watkins theorized that these alignments were created for ease of overland trekking by line of sight navigation during neolithic times and had persisted in the landscape over millennia. In more recent times, the term ley lines has come to be associated with spiritual and mystical theories about land forms, including Chinese feng shui.
I wonder if the fashionable Georgians who lived in these houses knew of the symbolism?
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