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CYRICBYRIG AND WEARDBYRIG
barons hold outside the city, and are rated there. This is one of the passages from which the late Professor Maitland concluded that the boroughs planted by Ethelfleda and Edward were organised on a system of military defence, whereby the magnates in the country were bound to keep houses in the towns.
CYRICBYRIG.—About this place we adopt the conjecture of Dugdale, who identified it with Monk's Kirby in Warwickshire, not far from the borders of Leicestershire, and therefore on the edge of Ethelfleda's dominions. It lies close to the Foss Way, and about three miles from Watling Street ; like Eddisbury, it is near the junction of two Roman roads. There are remains of banks and ditches below the church. Dugdale says “there are certain apparent tokens that the Romans had some station here; for by digging the ground near the church, there have been discovered foundations of old walls and Roman bricks.”8 Possibly Ethelfleda restored a Roman castrum here. At any rate, it seems a much more likely site than Chirbury in Shropshire, which is commonly proposed, but which does not lie on any Roman road, and is not on Ethelfleda's line of advance; nor are there any earthworks there.
WEARDBYRIG has not been identified. Wednesbury was stated by Camden to be the place, and but for the
1 “Abbas de Couentreu habet 36 masuras, et 4 sunt wastæ propter situm castelli. . . . Hae masurae pertinent ad terras quas ipsi barones tenent extra burgum, et ibi appreciatae sunt.” D. B., 1., 238.
· Domesday Book and Beyond, p. 189. See Appendix D.
3 Dugdale's Warwickshire, ist edition, pp. 50 and 75. The derivation of Kirby from Cyricbyrig is not according to etymological rules, but there can be no doubt about it as a fact ; for in Domesday it is stated that Chircheberie was held by Geoffrey de Wirche, and that the monks of St Nicholas (at Angers] had two carucates in the manor. In the charter in which Geoffrey de Wirche makes this gift Chircheberie is called Kirkeberia (M. A., vi., 996], but in the subsequent charter of Roger de Mowbray, confirming the gift, it is called Kirkeby.
• Britannia, ii., 375.
impossibility of the etymology, the situation would suit well enough. Weardbyrig must have been an important place, for it had a mint. Warburton, on the Mersey, has been gravely suggested, but is impossible, as it takes its name from St Werburgh.
RUNCORN has not a vestige to show of Ethelfeda's borough; but local historians have preserved some rather vague accounts of a promontory fort which once existed at the point where the London and North-Western Railway bridge enters the river. A rocky headland formerly projected here into the Mersey, narrowing its course to 400 yards at high water; a ditch with a circular curve cut off this headland from the shore. This ditch, from 12 to 16 feet wide, with an inner bank 6 or 7 feet high, could still be traced in the early part of the 19th century. Eighteen feet of the headland were cut off when the Duke of Bridgewater made his canal in 1773, and the ditch was obliterated when the railway bridge was built. From the measurements which have been preserved, the area of this fort must have been very small, not exceeding 3 acres at the outside ; ? and it is unlikely that it represented Ethelfleda's borough, as the church, which was of pre-Conquest foundation, stood outside its bounds, and we should certainly have expected to find it within. As the Norman earls of Chester established a ferry at Runcorn in the 12th century, and as a castle at Runcorn is spoken of in a mediæval document,: it seems not impossible that there may have been a Norman castle on this site, as we
1 Numismatic Chronicle, 3rd S., xiii., 220.
2 Fowler's History of Runcorn gives a plan of this fort, and there is another in Hanshall's History of Cheshire, p. 418 (1817). A very different one is given in Beaumont's History of Halton.
3 Beaumont's Records of the Honour of Halton. In 1368, John Hank received the surrender of a house near to the castle in Runcorn.
HERTFORD AND WITHAM
constantly find such small fortifications placed to defend a ferry or ford. It is probable that Ethelfleda's borough was destroyed at an early period by the Northmen, for Runcorn was not a borough at Domesday, but was then a mere dependency of the Honour of Halton.
The Burhs of Edward the Elder. HERTFORD.—Two burhs were built by Edward at Hertford in 913, one on the north and the other on the south side of the river Lea. Therefore if a burh were the same thing as a motte, there ought to be two mottes at Hertford, one on each side of the river; whereas there is only one, and that forms part of the works of the Norman castle. Mr Clark, with his usual confidence, says that the northern mound has “long been laid low”;1 but there is not the slightest proof that it ever existed except in his imagination.
Hertford was a borough at the time of Domesday. No earthworks remain.
WITHAM (Fig. 4).—There are some remains of a burh here which are very remarkable, as they show an inner enclosure within the outer one. They have been carefully surveyed by Mr F. C. J. Spurrell, who has published a plan of them.” Each enclosure formed roughly a square with much-rounded corners. The ditch round the outer work was 30 feet wide; the inner work was not ditched. The area enclosed by the outer bank was 264 acres, an enclosure much too large for a castle; the area of the inner enclosure was 91 acres. As far as is at present known, Witham is the only instance we have of an Anglo-Saxon earthwork which
1 Medieval Military Architecture, ii., 120. ? Essex Naturalist, January 1887.