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Chester were enlarged by Ethelfleda so as to take in the castle, which he fancied to be Roman;' and this statement, being repeated by Leland, has acquired considerable vogue. It is very unlikely that any extension of the walls was made by the Mercian pair, seeing that the city was deserted at the time when it was occupied by the Danes, only fourteen years before. But it is quite certain that the Norman castle of Chester lay outside the city walls, as the manor of Gloverstone, which was not within the jurisdiction of the city, lay between the city and the castle. A charter of Henry VII. shows that the civic boundary did not extend to the present south wall in his reign. Ethelfleda's borough probably followed the lines of the old Roman castrum.
BREMESBYRIG.–This place has not yet been identified. Bromborough on the Mersey has been suggested, and is not impossible, for the loss of the s sometimes occurs in place-names; thus Melbury, in Wilts, was Melsburie in Domesday. Bremesbyrig was the first place restored after Chester, and as the estuary of the Dee had been secured by the repair of Chester, so an advance on Bromborough would have for its aim to secure the estuary of the Mersey. It was outside the Danish frontier of Watling Street, and could thus be fortified without breach of the peace in 911. There is a large moated work at Bromborough, enclosing an area of 10 acres, in the midst of which stands the courthouse of the manor of Bromborough. But this manor was given by the Earl of Chester to the monks of St
? The tower called Cæsar's Tower is really a mural tower of the 13th century. E. W. Cox, “Chester Castle,” in Chester Hist. and Archæol. Soc., V., 239.
? Cox, as above. See also Shrubsole, “The Age of the City Walls of Chester,” Arch. Journ., xliv., 1887. The present wall, which includes the castle, is an extension probably not earlier than James I.'s reign.
BREMESBYRIG, SCERGEAT, BRIDGENORTH
Werburgh about 1152, and it is possible that the monks fortified it, as they did their manor of Irby in Wirral, against the incursions of the Welsh. One of the conditions of the Earl's grant was that the manor is to be maintained in a state of security and convenience for the holding of the courts appertaining to Chester Abbey. Thus the fortification appears to be of manorial use, though this does not preclude the possibility of an earlier origin. On the other hand, if Bromborough is the same as Brunanburh, where Athelstan's great battle was fought (and there is much in favour of this), it cannot possibly have been Bremesbyrig in the days of Edward. Another site has been suggested by the Rev. C. S. Taylor, in a paper on The Danes in Gloucestershire, Bromsberrow in S. Gloucestershire, one of the last spurs of the Malvern Hills. Here the top of a small hill has been encircled with a ditch ; but the ditch is so narrow that it does not suggest a defensive work, and it is remote from any Roman road or navigable river.
SCERGEAT has not yet been identified. Mr Kerslake argued with some probability that Shrewsbury is the place ;' but the etymological considerations are adverse, and it is more likely that such an important place as Shrewsbury was fortified before Edward's time. Leland calls it Scorgate, and says it is “about Severn side.": It should probably be sought within the frontier of Watling Street, which Ethelfleda does not appear to have yet crossed in 911.
BRIDGENORTH is undoubtedly the Bricge of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, as Florence of Worcester identifies it with the Bridgenorth which Robert Belesme
1 The charter is given in Ormerod's History of Cheshire, ii., 405.
: Itin., ii., 2.
fortified against Henry I. in 1101. Bridgenorth is on a natural fortification of steep rock, which would only require a stout wall to make it secure against all the military resources of the roth century. We may therefore be quite certain that it was here Ethelfeda planted herborough, and not (as Mr Eyton unfortunately conjectured) on the mound outside the city, in the parish of Oldbury. This mound was far more probably the site of the siege castle (no doubt of wood) which was erected by Henry I. when he besieged the city.
TAMWORTH was an ancient city of the Mercian kings, and therefore may have been fortified before its walls were rebuilt by Ethelfleda.* The line of the ancient town-wall can still be traced in parts, though it is rapidly disappearing. Dugdale says the town ditch was 45 feet broad. Tamworth was a borough at the time of Domesday.
STAFFORD has a motte on which stood a Norman castle; but this is not mentioned in the table, because it stands a mile and a half from the town on the southern side of the river Sowe, while we are expressly told by Florence that Ethelfleda's borough was on the northern side, as the town is now. Stafford was a Domesday
1 “Arcem quam in occidentali Sabrinæ fluminis plaga, in loco qui Bricge dicitur lingua Saxonica, Ægelfleda Merciorum domina quondam construerat, fratre suo Edwardo seniore regnante, Comes Rodbertus contra regem Henricum, muro lato et alto, summoque restaurare cæpit.” IIOI.
2 A good deal has been made of the name Oldbury, as pointing to the old burh; but Oldbury is the name of the manor, not of the hillock, which bears the singular name of Pampudding Hill. Tradition says that the Parliamentary forces used it for their guns in 1646. Eyton's Shropshire, i., 132.
3 “ Bricge cum exercitu pene totius Angliæ obsedit, machinas quoque ibi construere et castellum firmare præcepit.” Florence, 1102.
4 Florence in fact says urbem restauravit.
borough; some parts of the mediæval walls still remain. The walls are mentioned in Domesday Book.'
EDDISBURY, in Cheshire (Fig. 4), is the only case in which the work of Ethelfleda is preserved in a practically unaltered form, as no town or village has ever grown out of it.
The burh stands at the top of a hill, commanding the junction of two great Roman roads, the Watling Street from Chester to Manchester, and the branch which it sends forth to Kinderton on the east. As a very misleading plan of this work has been published in the Journal of the British Archæological Association for 1906, the burh has been specially surveyed for this book by Mr D. H. Montgomerie, who has also furnished the following description
“This plan is approximately oval, and is governed by the shape of the ground; the work lies at the end of a spur, running S. E. and terminating in abrupt slopes to the E. and S. The defences on the N. and W. consist of a ditch and a high outer bank, the proportions of these varying according to the slope of the hill. There are slight remains of a light inner rampart along the western half of this side. The remains of an original entrance (shown in Ormerod's Cheshire) are visible in the middle of the N.W. side, beyond which the ditch and outer bank have been partially levelled by the encroachments of the farm buildings. The defences of the S. side seem to have consisted of a long natural slope, crowned by a steeper scarp, cut back into the rock, and having traces of a bank along its crest. The S.E. end of the spur presents several interesting details, for it has been occupied in mediæval times by a small fortified enclosure, whose defences are apt to be confused with those of the older Saxon town. The rock makes a triangular projection at this end, containing the foundations of mediæval buildings, and strengthened on the N.E. by a slight ditch some 7 to so feet below the crest; the rock on the inner side of this ditch has been cut back to a nearly vertical face, while on the outer bank are the footings of a masonry wall extending almost to the point of the spur.
1 D. B., i., 246,
There are traces of another wall defending the crest on the N.E. and S.; but the base of the triangle, facing the old enclosure, does not appear to have been strengthened by a cross ditch or bank.
“It may be noted that this enclosure presents not the slightest appearance of a motte. It is at a lower level than the body of the hill, and belongs most certainly to the Edwardian period of the masonry buildings.”
WARWICK Castle has a motte which has been confidently attributed to Ethelfeda, only because Dugdale copied the assertion of Thomas Rous, a very imaginative writer of the 15th century, that she was its builder. The borough which Ethelfleda fortified probably occupied a smaller area than the mediæval walls built in Edward I.'s reign; and it is probable that it did not include the site of the castle, as Domesday states that only four houses were destroyed when the castle was built. The borough was doubtless erected to protect the Roman road from Bath to Lincoln, the Foss Way, which passes near it. Domesday Book, after mentioning that the king's barons have 112 houses in the borough, and the abbot of Coventry 36, goes on to say that these houses belong to the lands which the
| These buildings formed part of a hunting lodge built in the reign of Edward III., called The Chamber in the Forest. See Ormerod's Cheshire, ii., 3. When visiting Eddisbury several years ago, the writer noticed several Perpendicular buttresses in these ruins.
2 D. B., 1., 238a, 1.