« PreviousContinue »
knowledge of Danish camps does not tell us of
with citadels, and it is hardly likely that the democratic constitution of these pirate bands would have allowed of a citadel for the chief. It is far more probable that this work belongs to a later time, and that the Danish camp has been swept away by the river.
11. READING.—There is no “work” mentioned by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle at this place, which the Danes made their headquarters in 871, but we add it to the list because Asser not only mentions it, but describes the nature of the fortification. It was a vallum drawn between the rivers Thames and Kennet, so as to enclose a peninsula.” It had several entrances, as the Danes “rushed out from all the gates on the AngloSaxon attack. Such a fort belongs to the simplest and easiest kind of defence, used at all times by a general who is in a hurry, and it has therefore no significance in determining the general type of Danish works.
Besides these eleven places where works are mentioned, there are thirteen places where the Danes are said to have taken up their winter quarters, and where we may be certain that they were protected by some kind of fortifications. These are Thanet, Sheppey, Thetford, York, London, Torkesey, Repton, Cambridge, Exeter, Chippenham, Cirencester, Fulham, and Mersey Island. Four places out of this list-York, London, Exeter, and Cirencester—were Roman castra, whose walls were still available for defence. Three-Thanet, Sheppey, and Mersey—were islands, and thus naturally defended, being much more insular than they are
1 Mr Clark actually speaks of a subsequent Norman castle at Tempsford (M. M. A., i., 78), but we have been unable to find any confirmation of this. Faint traces of larger works in the fields below were formerly visible. V. C. H. Bedfordshire.
? Stephenson's Asser, p. 27.
DANISH WINTER QUARTERS
now. Three—Thetford, Torkesey, and Cambridgeappear as burgi in Domesday, showing that they were fortified towns. It is highly probable that the Danes threw up the first fortifications of these boroughs. There are no remains of town banks at Torkesey; at Cambridge the outline of the town bank can be traced in places ;? and at Thetford there was formerly an earthwork on the Suffolk side of the river, which appears to have formed three sides of a square, abutting on the river, and enclosing the most ancient part of the town. Chippenham and Repton were ancient seats of the Anglo-Saxon kings, and may have had fortifications, but nothing remains now. Chippenham is a borough by prescription, therefore of ancient date. At Fulham, on the Thames, there is a quadrangular moat and bank round the Bishop of London's palace, which is sometimes supposed to be the camp made by the Danes in 879; but it may equally well be mediaeval.
There was formerly a harbour at Fulham.*
It must be confessed that this list of Danish fortresses furnishes us with a very slender basis for generalisation as to the nature of Danish fortifications, judging from the actual remains. All we can say is that in six cases out of twenty-four (not including Tempsford or Fulham) the work appears to have been rectangular. In the case of Shoebury, about which we have the best evidence, the imitation of Roman models seems to be clear. If we turn from remaining facts to à priori likelihoods, we call to mind that the Danes were a muchtravelled people, had been in Gaul as well as in England, and had had opportunities of observing Roman fortifications, as well as much practice both in the assault and defence of fortified places. It may not be without significance that it is not until after the return of “the army” from France that we hear of their building camps at all, except in the case of Reading.
1 There are no remains of earthworks in Thanet or Sheppey, except a place called Cheeseman's Camp, near Minster in Thanet, which the late Mr Gould regarded as of the “homestead-moat type.” V. C. H. Kent, i., 433. Nor are there any earthworks on Mersey Island mentioned by Mr Gould in his paper on Essex earthworks in the V. C. H.
2 Stukeley, who saw this earthwork when it was in a much more perfect state, says that it contained 30 acres. See Mr Hope's paper in Camb. Antig. Soc., vol. xi. 3 Blomefield's Norfolk, ii., pp. 7, 8, 27. His description is very
confused. 4 See Erlingssen's Ruins of the Saga Time, Viking Club, p. 337.
As far as our information goes, their camps were without citadels. What evidence we have from the other side of the channel supports the same conclusion. Richer gives us an account of the storming of a fortress of the Northmen at Eu, by King Raoul, in 925, from which it is clear that as soon as the king's soldiers had got over the vallum, they were masters of the place; there was no citadel to attack. Dudo speaks of the Vikings “fortifying themselves, after the manner of a castrum, by heaped up earth-banks drawn round themselves," and it is clear from the rest of his description that the camp had no citadel.?
In no case do we find anything to justify the theory that mottes were an accompaniment of Danish camps. In five cases out of the twenty-four there are or were mottes at the places mentioned, but in all cases they belonged to Norman castles. The magnificent motte called the Castle Hill at Thetford was on the opposite side of the river to the borough, which we have seen reason to think was the site of the Danish winter quarters. Torkesey in Leland's time had by the river
1 Richerii, Historiarum Libri Quatuor, edition Guadet, p. 67.
2 “In modo castri, munientes se per girum avulsæ terræ aggere." Dudo, 155 (edition Duchesne).
DANISH FORTIFIED HARBOURS
side “a Hille of Yerth cast up,” which he judged to be the donjon of some old castle, probably rightly, though we have been unable as yet to find any mention of a Norman castle at Torkesey; a brick castle of much more recent date is still standing near the river, and probably the motte to which Leland alludes was destroyed when this was built. The motte at Cambridge is placed inside the original bounds of the borough, and was part of the Norman castle. We have already dealt with the Boley Hill at Rochester, and shall have more to say about it hereafter. The rock motte at Nottingham was probably not cut off by a ditch from the rest of the headland until the Norman castle was built.
It seems highly probable that besides providing accommodation in their camps for very large numbers of people, the Danes sometimes fortified the hithes where they drew up their ships on shore, or even constructed fortified harbours. We have already quoted Mr Spurrell's remark on the hithes at Benfleet (p. 51), and there is at least one place in England which seems to prove the existence of fortified harbours. This is Willington, on the river Ouse, in Bedfordshire, which has been carefully described by Mr A. R. Goddard." This “camp” consists of two wards, and a wide outer enclosure (Fig. 7). “ But one of the most interesting features is the presence of two harbours, contained within the defences and communicating with the
1 "The castle end of Cambridge was called the Borough within the memory of persons now living." Atkinson's Cambridge Described (1897), p. 9.
2 Steenstrup says, that the Northmen built themselves shipyards all round Europe, especially on the islands where they had their winter settlements. Normannerne, i., 354.
3 A.-S., hyth, a shore, a landing-place.