"Despite assuring readers of his Ancient History of Wiltshire in 1812 that, 'We speak facts not theories', the Stourhead antiquary Sir Richard Colt Hoare (1758-1838) found the facts about Silbury Hill hard to come by. 'This stupendous artificial mound of earth cannot fail to arrest the attention of every passenger from Marlborough to Bath,' he wrote. 'An attempt was made to open it some years ago by a Dorsetshire gentleman, Colonel Drax'... But who was Drax, and what was his interest in Silbury?"
Market practices could be the cause of many disorders throughout the early modern period, so food riots were a common occurrence. Rural customs and traditional rights were based on the belief that the rural community were entitled to a fair price of grain, even in times of dearth. These core beliefs naturally came with strong rules about which market practices were acceptable, and which were not. In this article, we meet a particular type of market villain: the ‘badger’. Neil Howlett uncovers the story of a Midford food riot in 1630 following the arrival of corn badgers.
The first recorded Quaker meeting in Wiltshire took place in 1653. From the very beginning, the Wiltshire Quakers were met with staunch opposition from the local authorities of law and order. It was widely believed among the ruling elite that the nonconformist nature of Quakerism would lead to widespread resistance to authority. In this article, Kay Taylor looks into the ways in which Quakerism in Wiltshire was criminalised, how the Quaker community sought to justify their practices, and the phenomenon of martyrdom.
'The surviving notebooks of eighteenth century magistrates can be used by historians to investigate the extent to which customary culture was constrained and regulated by law. Wood-gathering may have been essential to the economy of the rural poor, but it remained theft in the eyes of the law. Carl Griffin opens the notebook of William Hunt of West Lavington in Wiltshire and finds that it was a crime that kept the magistrate peculiarly busy'.
In this article, Brian Edwards follow the heritage timeline of Avebury, as well as incorporate the efforts of the heritage authorities to cash in and further popularise the history of Stonehenge and the surrounding area. The timeline stems from John Aubrey introducing Charles II to Avebury in 1663, to the impact that the Five Mile Act had on the surrounding environment.
Brian Edwards explores the tensions between individual interest and spatial identity, the reluctance of some local historians to engage in historical debate, and their tendency towards antiquarianism. This article argues that antiquarianism endangers the knowledge of history by masking it. In its place, Edwards advocates for an organic history which reflects popular historical consciousness; a history which embraces everything from photographs of dart teams to invented local traditions.