Page images

Dn the Entrenchments on the Yorkshire Wolds.



CAREFUL study of the accompanying map (Plate I.), which represents the original state of the earthworks at Aldro, as far as the writer's investigations have as yet extended, will probably convey a better idea of the matter in hand than any amount of letterpress.

from Wooing Nab, on Acklam Brow, the view is continued from the Hambleton Hills and Vale of Mowbray on the north, over the whole of the Vale of York, backed on the west by the hills beyond Harrogate and Leeds, to Selby, Howden, Goole, and the Humber on the south. For extent, variety, and beauty, there cannot be found a finer prospect in all Yorkshire.

Hence we are not surprised to find that the ancient Britons selected this spot as a favourite burial-ground. They seem generally to have chosen elevated positions for the interment of their chiefs and great warriors, presumably with the idea that the spirits of the dead might still overlook the

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

The area embraced, consisting of two farms, Aldro and Brown Moor-the former of which belongs to Lord Middleton, the latter to Viscount Halifax-forms the northwest extremity of the Chalk Wolds. The ground, except where cut into by the deep dales, is fairly level on the top, attaining a maximum height above sea-level of 775 feet; but from the contour line of 725 feet it slopes rapidly to the north and west. From both these sides magnificent views may be obtained. Facing the north from Birdsall Brow, the eye ranges from Scarborough racecourse on the east, throughout the ranges of the Tabular, Howardian, and Hambleton Hills, to Creyke and Ripon on the west; whilst

scenes of their earthly warfare. There are no less than forty-seven burial mounds, indicated by little rings, on the limited area of the map. With one or two exceptions these have all been opened, and found to contain British remains only, with scarcely a trace of bronze.*

The map exhibits also a network of entrenchments of various kinds. Were the tumuli there first, or the entrenchments ? or were they contemporaneous? We have no

Trifling articles of bronze, such as pins, have been found in about 12 per cent. of the graves, 300 of which have been opened by Mr. T. R. Mortimer, and the contents deposited in his splendid museum at Driffield.

hesitation in saying that, in some cases, the tumuli were first raised; for at A the entrenchment goes out of its way to skirt a tumulus, and the same is the case at B and at C; whilst at D a ditch was cut through the very centre of the mound. But these particular entrenchments may be later than others, for there are several different types, and in all probability the first step taken was to fortify the headland itself by constructing the large double dikes on the south-east, and the triple dikes on the north-east. This having been done, an inner line of defence was formed by making the great single entrenchment 30 feet wide and 10 feet deep, with the earth thrown up on the inner side, which extends from E, first westwards and then southwards to the head of Brown Moor Dale, inclosing I, and perhaps II. The enclosures III and IV appear to have been added subsequently, and were less strongly for tified, the ditches (F) being only from 10 feet to 12 feet wide, and somewhat resembling Mr. Mortimer's "hollow ways," but in this case they could hardly have been older than the larger entrenchments.

At E is the great Aldro "rath," as Phillips calls it in reality, a British tumulus-surrounded by a ditch and mound; from centre to centre of the external mound the diameter is 90 feet. It appears to have been constructed after the entrenchment by which it stands, as the encircling mound is somewhat higher than the mound of the entrenchment, appears to rest upon it, and slightly protrudes into the ditch.

The various uses of entrenchments may also be noticed from a study of the map. One, the double dike on the south-east, from Deep Dale to Acklam Brow, cuts off the extremity of a hill. Another, the triple dike from Birdsall Dale to Birdsall Brow, defends the level ground on the top. Those along Birdsall Brow protect the hill-tops from attack from below. One on the north goes down to a spring, a not unfrequent occurrence in a district where springs were of the utmost importance, and would have to be reached at all hazards; others seem to protect springs, or to furnish a place of concealment for hunters, with flint arrows, in wait for wild animals who came to drink; whilst, again, others would appear to be simply native ways

for communication, or for driving cattle from one pasturage or dale to another.

In speaking of these various uses it must be observed that, in some cases, though not in the area before us, they formed boundaries between tribes; but that entrenchments were thrown up to form the boundary of a parish is an anachronism-a sod wall can always be distinguished from an entrenchment. On the other hand, entrenchments were often taken for the subsequent boundary of a parish, simply as a convenient landmark. This is well illustrated in the map. A parish boundary runs from the head of Deep Dale, northwards, along a line of entrenchments to beyond enclosure III; then it leaves the entrenchment abruptly, and strikes down to Leavening. A second boundary starting midway from the first is carried to the spring at the junction of Birdsall and Brown Moor Dales. It is clear that, in each case, the entrenchment was utilized, but not constructed, for the purpose in view.

A supposed Roman road from Malton to Brough crosses the map. As some have attributed the entrenchments to the work of the Romans, it may be as well to point out that in this instance, as well as in all others known to the writer, there is not the slightest foundation for the theory; that the entrenchments are all of British origin, which the Romans cut through at haphazard, or intentionally, as the case might be.

Following the above road southwards, for a distance of four miles, along the western edge of the hills overlooking the Vale of York, the traveller arrives at a true Roman road, running east and west, called Garrowby Street. The point of intersection is the highest ground on the Wolds, being 809 feet above sea-level. Here again the tops of the hills are covered with entrenchments, with numerous tumuli, as will be seen from the accompanying map (Plate II.). These are the entrenchments and tumuli, alluded to in the first paper, which Dr. Burton and Mr. Drake considered to be Roman. As they were certainly wrong in their conjecture concerning the tumuli, which have all been opened and proved to be British, there is a fair presumption to start with that they were also wrong concerning the entrenchments. The writer has no hesitation in expressing

his conviction that all the entrenchments were the work of the British inhabitants of the Wolds.

Whatever separate tribes inhabited the Wold district (and there may have been several), it is not likely that two tribes, in opposition, would occupy so short a distance as that between Aldro and Garrowby; and, indeed, there is a distinct connection by way of double entrenchments, about half a mile on an average, in rear of the supposed Roman road from Malton to Brough, be

access to springs, and some may have been thrown up as late even as the occupation of York by the Roman legions; but it seems clear from the map that the Roman troops, in subjugating the stout Brigantes, cut their way through these defences, and constructed their road to the coast through the heart of them, and, in places, utilized the mound of a British entrenchment for the substratum of a road. Instances of this latter use may be recorded in the case of Settrington High Street, and in the road between Sledmere

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

from Malton, and also cuts both sets of entrenchments.

Perhaps the strongest entrenchments on the Wolds are those known as Huggate Dikes. These consist of five mounds and six ditches. At present only about 200 yards in length remain, in a grass field known as Huggate Pasture, but originally they ran across the neck of high land, half a mile long, and 650 feet above sea-level, which separates the end of Millington Dale, running west, from the head of Horse Dale, running east. Both these dales are cut very deeply into the chalk, the bottom being quite 200 feet below the top, and would each afford a serious obstruction to any enemy advancing, as it were, across country; but with the level plateau, on the height between, it would be different. This would require to be strongly and artificially fortified, the more so as it is the only level piece of ground by which a body of men might pass from north to south, or vice-versâ, without being forced to cross a deep dale. Accordingly here we find no less than five strong mounds, 12 or 13 feet high, originally, without doubt. Towards the western end an opening has been left intentionally, and there may have been others in the portion destroyed. Similar openings occur in Danes' Dike, and were probably intended for sally-ports, as alluded to in a previous paper. We may also notice that towards the centre of the original works the outer mound, on the south side, appears to have protruded in the form of an arc of a small circle, as if to form a sheltered post of observation commanding a view of the outer ditch on either side of it.

The Huggate Dikes lie about a mile to the eastward of the entrenchments shown on Garrowby Hill (Plate II.), and are connected with them. At the same time, they are connected with a line of entrenchments running on the top of the dale-side to the hill above Pocklington, and with entrenchments making for Warter; whilst, eastwards, the entrenchments are continued, for miles and miles, past Painslack, Wetwang, The Monument, and Kilham, to near Bridlington. These latter are connected again in several places, too numerous to mention, and which can only be studied on a map, with another long line of entrenchments running from Fridaythorpe to

Fimber, Fimber to Sledmere, and Sledmere to beyond Octon. To the north of these, and somewhat parallel, is another set of double dikes running from Octon Grange, by Helperthorpe, Kirby Grindalyth, and Burdale Tunnel Top, to Aldro. A portion of these may be seen in Major-General Pitt-Rivers' map, as also more completely the entrenchments at Settrington Wold, which are connected by the Several Dikes with the set of entrenchments running along the northern brow of the wolds from Knapton to Hunmanby.

Such a vast network of entrenchments over so wide an area implies a large population, and, as water would be equally an essential then as now, it follows that the bulk of the homesteads must have been within reach of water supply, and therefore more or less distant from the great body of the entrenchments, which cover the high grounds. This question deserves closer attention.

There were three sources of water supply in those days. 1. Springs on the outer margin of the wolds; 2. Springs on the inner eastern slope, where the chalk had been cut completely through to the underlying Kimmeridge clay; and, 3. Natural ponds.

1. The first kind abound all along the northern escarpment from Hunmanby to Leavening, and again, along the western edge, from Leavening to Welton, and here, to the present day, a considerable number of villages are met with, whose origin may date back to pre-historic times.

2. There are but two springs, or, rather, sets of springs, which issue on the eastern slope, all the rest of the rainfall being carried away by subterranean channels in consequence of the beds of chalk, which are very porous, dipping towards the south-east. One of these springs rises at Wharram-le-Street, and, being soon joined by others about Duggleby, forms the source of the stream which flows past the Dale towns to Bridlington Harbour. Throughout this valley there are signs of ancient buildings and habitations, and here, in all probability, a large proportion of the tribes occupying the northern Wolds had their settlement. The other spring appears, for a brief interval, at the head of Water Dale, and helped to supply the ancient settlement at Aldro, but it forms no surface

stream at present. Three miles lower down, however, at Thixendale, a fairly copious spring breaks forth, which runs as a tiny beck as far as Raisthorpe, one mile, where it sinks. It reappears at Burdale, a mile and a half lower down the dale, where, joined by one or two springs from the high ground on the north, it feeds a pond which never dries up and never freezes. Thence the water, except in dry times, runs on the surface towards Fimber for about half a mile, and then finally disappears. We may, therefore, include Thixendale, Raisthorpe, and Burdale, as suitable and likely places for ancient settlements.

3. There are very few natural ponds on the wolds. The one at Burdale has already been mentioned, as also the one at the head of Water Dale. Both these are distinctly connected with springs. Apart from springs, however, there are a few which appear to maintain their water supply, not from the rainfall on their surface, but from a sort of natural drainage from the surrounding rock to a hollow formed in a deposit of clay. Such are the ponds at Huggate and Fimber. The name of the latter place is a misnomer. In all ancient documents it is spelt Finmere or Finimere, and took its name from the mere, or “mar," locally so called, which occupies the centre of the village. Sledmere is an instance of a similar derivation, though the mere has been filled up in recent times. In the list of Knights' Fees in Yorkshire, A.D. 1303, under the head of "Sledemer," Martinus atte Mar* is mentioned as holding two bovates.

We may, therefore, reasonably conclude that all the above-mentioned places, from their natural supply of water, formed suitable sites of settlement for the primitive inhabitants of the Wolds. The profusion of entrenchments in their immediate neighbourhood is thus, to some extent, accounted for.

* The mere at Wetwang is also very ancient, having given rise, in the same list, to the name "Laurentius atte Mar."

A Forgotten Tudor Poet.


HE reign of Queen Mary was short, and unmarked by brilliant literary names. But short as it was, there

is no sign that its character would have been changed by its being lengthened. Solemn and sombre thoughts of religious matters on the one side, quakings and fears on the other; general unrest, hesitation and uncertainty among the people; inglorious foreign policy, failure in all hopes, seemed the portion of the people and their queen. There was naught to stimulate the poetic vein, and there were no poets. It seemed as if there were a great back-draw just then, in preparation for the swelling wave that rolled on to make the high tide of Elizabethan literary glory. It is true that Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst, was born in 1536, and might be said to have developed during the reign. George Peele and Sir Walter Raleigh were born just the year before her accession, and Spenser, Lyly, Sydney, Fulke Greville, Thomas Lodge, George Chapman, and William Warner were born subjects to this queen. Yet not to her their glory, but to her more fortunate sister.

But the absence of great poets make minor ones more noteworthy. Hence, to the other antiquities brought forward in connection. with the Tudor Exhibition, might have been added the life and verses of a young priest, Leonard Stopes. Having for other purposes been working up his life, I was told some time ago by Mr. Hazlitt that he had seen a broadside of his in the Library of the Society of Antiquaries. This, by the kindness of the librarian, I was permitted to copy, and to study the volume in which it is bound, in which I found a few other broadsides of the reign. It is on account of the verses one must give a short sketch of his life.

Sir Thomas Whyte, Alderman of London, founded the College of St. John at Oxford, May 29, 1555. It was arranged at first to hold "one President, and thirty Graduate or non-Graduate Scholars, or more or less." Sir Thomas Whyte dying soon after, increased his foundation by will. The first president

« PreviousContinue »