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The popular meetings of the Anglo-Saxons, those of the hundred and the shire, were held in the open air. Since many of those who attended them had to travel far, some sign was necessary to mark out the place of meeting, and some striking feature, such as a hillock, or a particular tree, or an ancient barrow, was chosen. Thus we have the Shire Oak, near Leeds, which gives its name to the wapentake of Skyrack; and in a charter of Edgar we find the mot-beorh mentioned, and translated Congressionis Collem=the meeting barrow. (M. A., ii., 324.) It does not appear that a hillock was an essential feature of these meeting-places, though this is popularly supposed to be the case, because the “Thing-wall” in Iceland and the“ Tynwald” in the Isle of Man have hillocks from which laws were proclaimed. The Thingwall, or field of meeting in Iceland had a natural rock just above it, isolated by a stream, and though proclamations were made from this rock, deliberations took place on the level. (Gomme's Primitive Folk-Moots, 31.)
The Tynwald Hill, in the Isle of Man, which is also still used for the proclamation of new laws, was probably an ancient barrow, as there are other barrows in the immediate neighbourhood. (Kermode and Herdman, Illustrated Notes on Manx Antiquities, pp. 23 and 61.) At Thingwall, near Liverpool, and Thingwall in Wirral, both probably Norse settlements, there is no hillock.
In Scotland, the use of a former motte as a meeting-place for the baronial court appears to have been much more common than in England. Mr George Neilson's explanation of this fact is referred to in Chapter X., p. 307.
WATLING STREET AND THE DANELAGH
It has been pointed out by Schmid (Gesetze der Angelsachsen, xxxviii.) that the document called Alfred and Guthrum's Peace cannot belong to the year of Guthrum's baptism at Wedmore; and Mr J. R. Green (Conquest of England, p. 151) goes further, and doubts whether the boundaries laid down in this deed refer to anything except to the East Anglian kingdom of Guthrum. But Mr Green gives no adequate reason for rejecting the generally accepted conclusion that the Watling Street was the boundary between English and Danish Mercia, which is borne out by the following facts: (1) the Danish confederacy of the five boroughs, Lincoln, Stamford, Leicester, Nottingham, and Derby, pretty well covers the part of Mercia north of Watling Street, especially when Chester is added, as it sometimes is, to the list; (2) the division into wapentakes instead of hundreds, now believed to be of Danish origin, is found in Lincolnshire, Notts, Derbyshire, Rutland, Leicestershire, and Northamptonshire. Staffordshire, it is true, is not divided into wapentakes, but it was apparently won by conquest when Ethelfeda fortified the town. Chester was occupied by her husband in 908. Watling Street furnishes such a well-defined line that it was natural to fix upon it as a frontier.
THE MILITARY ORIGIN OF ALFRED'S BOROUGHS
KEUTGEN (Untersuchungen über den Ursprung der Deutschen Stadtverfassung, 1895) appears to have been the first to notice the military origin of the Old Saxon boroughs; and Professor Maitland saw the applicability of the theory to the boroughs of Alfred and Edward the Elder. (Domesday Book and Beyond.)
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in 894, speaks of "the men whose duty it was to defend the towns"; this proves that Alfred had made some special arrangement for the defence of the towns; and this arrangement must have been something quite apart from the ordinary service of the fyrd or militia, which was only due for a short time. It must have been something permanent, with an adequate economic basis, such as we have in Henry the Fowler's plan.
THE WORDS “CASTRUM” AND “CASTELLUM"
If we take the chroniclers of the reign of Charlemagne and his successors in the 9th century, we find the word castrum constantly used for places such as Avignon, Dijon, Macon, Rheims, Chalons, Cologne, Andernach, Bonn, Coblenz, etc., all of which are known to have been Roman castra, when there can be no doubt that the city is meant. Take, for instance, the Annales Mettenses (Pertz, i., 326), 737 : Karl Martel hears that the Saracens have taken "castrum munitissimum Avinionem" (Avignon); he marches against them, and “predictam urbem obsidione circumdat.” But these cities are not only called castra, they are also called castella. Thus the chronicle ascribed to Hincmar calls Macon both castrum and castellum in the same breath. (Migne, 125, 1298.) The fortifications built by Charlemagne against the Saxons are called castra, castella, and civitates. (Chron. Moissiacense, Pertz, i., 308. Ann. Einhardi, ibid., 196, 204.) The camps of the Northmen, which as we have seen, were of great size, are also called not only castra, but civitates, castella, munitiones, oppida. (Annales Fuldenses, Pertz, i., 397.) The camp built by Charles the Bald at Pistes in 868 is called a castellum, though it was evidently an enclosure of great size, as he measured out quarters in it for his nobles, and formed an elaborate scheme for its maintenance. (Hincmar, Migne, 125, 1242, 1244.) Coming to the oth century, the following passage from Flodoard will show the vagueness of the words in common use for fortifications: “Heribertus Ansellum Bosonis subditum, qui prædictum custodiebat castrum (Vitry), cum ipso castello recipit, et
( Codiacum S. Remigii municipium illi cum alia terra concedit. Nec longum, Bosonis fideles oppidanorum proditione Victoriacum (Vitry) recipiunt, et Mosonum fraude pervadunt. At Heribertus, a quibusdam Mosomensibus evocatus, supervenit insperatus, et entrans oppidum, porta latenter a civibus aperta, milites Bosonis, qui ad custodiam loci residebant, ibidem omnes capit.” (Migne, 135,297.) Here it is clear that castrum, castellum, municipium, and oppidum all mean the same thing, and the one word civibus betrays that it is a city which is meant. Undoubtedly the chronicler thinks it elegant to change his words as often as he can. Munitio is another word frequently used; in classical Latin it means a bulwark, a wall or bank; in the chroniclers of the roth century it is used indifferently for a town or castle, though certain passages, such as “subversis multarum munitionibus urbium "(Flodoard, i., vi.), show that the right sense is not far from the mind of the writer. The numerous passages in which we are told of monasteries being enclosed with walls and converted into castella, show that the enclosure is the chief idea which the chroniclers associate with this word. The citations made above are not exceptional, but typical, and could be paralleled by countless others.
Since the above was written, I have read Keutgen's Untersuchungen über den Ursprung der Deutschen Stadtverfassung. He remarks that the Latin words for a town (in the roth and IIth century writers) are urbs, castelluin, civitas, sometimes arx; for a village, villa, oppidum, vicus. This absolutely agrees with what I have observed in these writers, except that I have certainly found oppidum used for a town, as in the passage from Flodoard cited above.
THE BURGHAL HIDAGE
THE Burghal Hidage has been printed by Birch, Cartularium, iii., 671. The manuscript is very corrupt, and several of the places cannot be identified. Those which can be identified are: Hastings, Lewes, Burpham (near Arundel), Chichester, Porchester, Southampton, Winchester, Wilton, Tisbury, Shaftesbury, Twineham, Wareham, Bridport, Exeter, Halwell, Lidford, Pilton, Barnstaple, Watchet, Axbridge, Lyng (near Athelney), Langport, Bath, Malmesbury, Cricklade, Oxford, Wallingford, Buckingham, Eashing (near Guildford), and Southwark. The list thus seems to give an outline of Alfred's kingdom as it was at his death, or at the beginning of the reign of his son. Dr Liebermann refers it to the latter date. (Leges Anglorum, 9.)
A WRITER in the Manchester Guardian a few years ago suggested a new solution of the name Thelwall. He believes that the Thelwall raised by Edward was a boundary wall of timber, stretching from Thelwall to Runcorn. The Mersey, he argues, above Thelwall formerly broadened out into a series of swamps which would effectually defend the frontier towards the east. But westward from Thelwall there were no such obstacles, and it is assumed that Edward made a timber wall from Thelwall to Ethelfeda's fortress at Runcorn. Some support to this hypothesis is given in the names of places between Thelwall and Runcorn: Stockton, Walton (twice), Stockham, Walford, Wallmore, and Wall-hes. Further, when the bed of the Mersey