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William Stukeley (1687-1765)

The physician and antiquary William Stukeley was born in the Lincolnshire village of Holbeach and was the son of an attorney. Stukeley studied medicine at Cambridge and it was there that he allegedly began to steal dogs in order to dissect and experiment upon them. He also continued his medical studies in London. One of Stukeley's contemporaries, the historian Thomas Hearne, said of him that he was "very fanciful" and a "mighty conceited man".

In 1725, Stukeley travelled through the wilds of northern England gathering material for his formidable book "Itinerarium Curiosum". Included in this work are some interesting observations on the increasingly prosperous town of Manchester. "( Manchester is) the largest,most rich" populous and busy village in England. There are two thousand four hundred families. The site of the Roman castrum is now called Knock Castle. (1) They have a fabulous report of Tarquin a, giant living there, killed by Sir Lancelot de Lake, a knight of King Arthurs (2) . . A Roman altar (was) dug up here (at the Roman Fort)... and a large gold Roman ring... The Castle Field (has) the foundation of the wall and ditch remaining.

Some call it Man-castle: its name comes from the British maen, lapis, meaning its rocky soil. The old church, though very large,' having three rows of neat pillars, was not capable of containing the people at divine service; whence they raised, by voluntary subscriptions, a new edifice after the London models, finished last year... Their trade, which is incredibly large, consists much in fustians, girth web, tickings, tapes, etc, which is dispersed all over the Kingdom, and to foreign parts: they have looms that work twenty four laces at a time, which was stolen from the Dutch.

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