Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

a

reason to suppose that in the vallum of the town of Wallingford we have an interesting relic of Saxon times. Wallingford is one of the boroughs enumerated in the Burghal Hidage ; it was undoubtedly a fortified town at the time of the Conquest, and is called a burgus in Domesday Book; but there appears to be no evidence to connect it with Roman times except the discovery of a number of Roman coins in the town and its neighbourhood. No Roman buildings or pavements have ever

. been found. The Saxon borough was built on the model of a Roman chester : a square with rounded

The rampart of Wallingford, which still exists in great part, is entirely of earth, and must have been crowned with a wooden wall, such as was still existing at Portsmouth in Leland's time.3 The accounts of Wallingford in the great Survey are very full and important. King Edward had eight virgates in the borough of Wallingford, and in these there were 276 haughs paying vil. of rent. Eight have been destroyed for the castle." 4 This Norman castle was placed in the N.E. corner of the borough. At present its precincts cover 30 acres, but this includes garden grounds, and no doubt represents later enclosures. No ancient plan of the castle has been preserved, but from Leland's description there appear to have been three wards in his Leland says,

corners.

1 William of Poitiers calls it an oppidum, p. 141. 2 Hedges, History of Wallingford.

3 “The Towne of Portsmuth is murid from the Est Tower a forowgh lenght with a Mudde Waulle armid with Tymbre.” Itin., iii., 113.

4 “In burgo de Walingeford habuit Rex Edwardus 8 virgatas terræ ; et in his erant 276 hagæ reddentes in libras de gablo. . . . Pro castello sunt 8 destructæ.” D. B., i., 56. If we divide these 276 haughs by the 114 acres enclosed by the town rampart, we get an average of about i rood 26 perches for each haugh ; multiply this by 8 (the number destroyed for the castle) and we get an area of 3 acres, which is about the average area of an early Norman castle.

5 Hedges, History of Wallingford, i., 139.

no

2

time, each defended by banks and ditches. The inner ward, which was doubtless the original one, is rudely oblong in shape; it covers 43 acres. “ All the goodly buildings, with the towers and dungeon, be within the third dyke." The motte, which still exists, was on the south-eastern edge of this ward ; that is, it was so placed as to overlook both the borough and the ford over the Thames. It was ditched around, and is said to have had a stone keep on the top; but

foundations were found when it was recently excavated. It was found to rest on a foundation of solid masonry several feet thick, sloping upwards towards the outside, so that it must have stood in a kind of stone saucer. The masonry which remains in the other parts of the castle is evidently none of it of the early Norman period, unless we accept a fragment of wall which contains courses of tiles. Numerous buildings were added in Henry III.'s reign; the walls and battlements were repaired, and the hurdicium, which had been blown down by a high wind, was renewed. * But the motte and the high banks show clearly that the first Norman castle was of wood.

The value of the royal borough of Wallingford had considerably risen since the Conquest.*

WARWICK (Fig. 36).—Here again we have a castle built on land which the Conqueror obtained from a Saxon convent, a positive proof that there was no castle there previously. Only a small number of houses was

3

1 Camden speaks of the motte as being in the middle of the castle, but this is a mistake.

? Such is the account in Hedges' History of Wallingford, p. 139, but it sounds odd. It is to be inferred from the same source that the fragment of a round building which stands on the top of the motte must be modern ; it is thick enough to be ancient. 3 Close Rolls, i., anno 1223.

4 D. B., i., 56.

[blocks in formation]

2

destroyed for the castle, and this points to the probability, which is supported by some other evidence, that the castle was built outside the town. Warwick, of course, was one of the boroughs fortified by Ethelfleda, and it was doubtless erected to protect the Roman road from Bath to Lincoln, the Foss Way, against the Danes. 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 barons hold outside the city, and are rated there. This is one of the passages from which Professor Maitland has concluded that the boroughs planted by Ethelfleda and her brother were organised on a system of military defence, whereby the magnates in the country were bound to keep houses in the towns.: Ordericus, after the well-known passage in which he states that the lack of castles in England was one great cause of its easy conquest by the Normans, says: “The king therefore founded a castle at Warwick, and gave it in custody to Henry, son of Roger de Beaumont." 4 Putting these various facts together, we may fairly assert that the motte which still forms part of the castle of Warwick was the work of the Conqueror, and not, as Mr Freeman believed, “a monument of the wisdom and energy of the mighty daughter of Alfred,” 5 whose energy was very much better employed

3

"

5

1 “Abbas de Couentreu habet 36 masuras, et 4 sunt wastæ propter situm castelli." D. B., i., 238a.

2 “Hæ masuræ pertinent ad terras quas ipsi barones tenent extra burgum, et ibi appreciatæ sunt.” D. B., i., 238.

3 Maitland, Domesday Book and Beyond, p. 189.

4 Ordericus, p. 184. “Rex itaque castellum apud Guarevicum condidit, et Henrico Rogerii de Bello Monte filio ad servandum tradidit.” Mr Freeman remarks that no authentic records connect Thurkil of Warwick with Warwick Castle. N. C., iv., 781.

6 N. C., iv., 190.

in the protection of her people. Dugdale, who also put the motte down to Ethelfeda, was only copying Rous, a very imaginative writer of the 15th century.

The motte of Warwick is mentioned several times in the Pipe Rolls of Henry II. ; it then carried wooden structures on its top.' In Leland's time there were still standing on this motte the ruins of a keep, which he calls by its Norman name of the Dungeon. A fragment of a polygonal shell wall still remains. But there is not a scrap of masonry of Norman date about the castle. The motte, and the earthen bank which still runs along one side of the court, show that the first castle was a wooden one.

The bailey is oblong in shape, the motte being outside it; its area is about 2} acres.

The value of Warwick had doubled since the Conquest. Wigmore, Herefordshire (Fig.

36).-We have already referred to the absurdity of identifying this place with the Wigingamere of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. We have the strongest indication that the Norman castle at Wigmore was a new erection, since Domesday Book tells us that William FitzOsbern built it on waste land called Mereston. This express statement disposes of the fable in the Fundationis Historia of Wigmore

Priory, that the castle of Wigmore had belonged to Edric the Wild, and was rebuilt by Ralph Mortimer. Wigmore had only been

1 In operatione unius domus in mota de Warwick et unius bretaschie 51. 75. uid. Pipe Rolls, 20 Henry II. As domus is a word very commonly used for a keep, it is probable this expenditure refers to a wooden keep.

? From information received from Mr Harold Sands. There appears to be no foundation whatever for the curious ground plan given by Parker.

8 See ante, p. 42.

4 “Willelmus comes fecit illud castellum in wasta terra quæ vocatur Mereston." D. B., i., 183.

Mon. Ang., vi., 349.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »