Page images
[blocks in formation]

borough; some parts of the medieval walls still remain. The walls are mentioned in Domesday Book.1

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 medieval times by a small fortified enclosure, whose defences are apt to be confused with those of the older Saxon town, The rock makes a

1 D. B., i., 246.

triangular projection at this end, containing the foundations of medieval buildings,' and strengthened on the N.E. by a slight ditch some 7 to 10 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. 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 Ethelfleda, 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 medieval 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

1 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., i., 238a, 1.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small]



barons hold outside the city, and are rated there.1 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." 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. was stated by Camden to be the place, and but for the

1 66

Abbas de Couentreu habet 36 masuras, et 4 sunt waste propter situm castelli.... Hae masurae pertinent ad terras quas ipsi barones tenent extra burgum, et ibi appreciatae sunt." D. B., i., 238.

2 Domesday Book and Beyond, p. 189. See Appendix D.

3 Dugdale's Warwickshire, 1st 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.

« PreviousContinue »