The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (Illustrations)
Oliver And Boyd, Edinburgh, 2015 M04 3 - 269 pages
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The study of earthworks has been one of the most neglected subjects in English archæology until quite recent years. It may even be said that during the first half of the 19th century, less attention was paid to earthworks than by our older topographical writers. Leland, in the reign of Henry VIII., never failed to notice the “Dikes and Hilles, which were Campes of Men of Warre,” nor the “Hilles of Yerth cast up like the Dungeon of sum olde Castelle,” which he saw in his pilgrimages through England. And many of our 17th- and 18th-century topographers have left us invaluable notices of earthworks which were extant in their time. But if we turn over the archæological journals of some fifty years ago, we shall be struck by the paucity of papers on earthworks, and especially by the complete ignoring, in most cases, of those connected with castles.
The misfortune attending this neglect, was that it left the ground open to individual fancy, and each observer formed his own theory of the earthworks which he happened to have seen, and as often as not, stated that theory as a fact. We need not be surprised to find Camden doing this, as he wrote before the dawn of scientific observation; but that such methods should have been carried on until late in the 19th century is little to the credit of English archæology. Mr Clark’s work on Mediæval Military Architecture (published in 1884), which has the merit of being one of the first to pay due attention to castle earthworks, counterbalances that merit by enunciating as a fact a mere guess of his own, which, as we shall afterwards show, was absolutely devoid of solid foundation.
The scientific study of English earthworks may be said to have been begun by General Pitt-Rivers in the last quarter of the 19th century; but we must not forget that he described himself as a pupil of Canon Greenwell, whose careful investigations of British barrows form such an important chapter of prehistoric archæology. General Pitt-Rivers applied the lessons he had thus learned to the excavation of camps and dykes, and his labours opened a new era in that branch of research. By accumulating an immense body of observations, and by recording those observations with a minuteness intended to forestall future questions, he built up a storehouse of facts which will furnish materials to all future workers in prehistoric antiquities. He was too cautious ever to dogmatise, and if he arrived at conclusions, he was careful to state them merely as suggestions. But his work destroyed many favourite antiquarian delusions, even some which had been cherished by very learned writers, such as Dr Guest’s theory of the “Belgic ditches” of Wiltshire.
A further important step in the study of earthworks was taken by the late Mr I. Chalkley Gould, when he founded the Committee for Ancient Earthworks, and drew up the classification of earthworks which is now being generally adopted by archæological writers. This classification may be abridged into (a) promontory or cliff forts, (b) hill forts, (c) rectangular forts, (d) moated hillocks, (e) moated hillocks with courts attached, (f) banks and ditches surrounding homesteads, (g) manorial works, (h) fortified villages.
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But before we deal with it, we will try to find out what sort of fortifications the Anglo-Saxons actually did construct. The first fortification which we read of in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is that of Bamborough, in Northumberland.
From the pages of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle we might be led to think that Alfred's son and daughter, Edward and Ethelfleda, were the chief builders of fortifications. But there is ample evidence that they only carried out a systematic ...
The present writer makes no pretensions to be an Anglo-Saxon scholar, but it is easy to pick out the word burh in the Chronicle and the Anglo-Saxon Laws, and to find out how the word is translated in the Latin chronicles; ...
Now let us contrast this piece of English history, as told by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, with the Norman history of about the same period, the history of the rebellion of the Norman nobles against their young duke, William the Bastard.
He generally translates the burh of the Chronicle by burgus, and he shows that he had a correct idea of Edward's work ... the very precise indications given in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle show that each burh was a separate construction.
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APPENDIX D THE WORDS CASTRUM AND CASTELLUM
APPENDIX E THE BURGHAL HIDAGE
APPENDIX F THELWALL
APPENDIX G THE WORD BRETASCHE
APPENDIX H THE WORDS HURDICIUM AND HORDIARI
APPENDIX I HERICIO ERICIO HERITO HERISSON
APPENDIX K THE CASTLE OF YALE
APPENDIX L THE CASTLE OF TULLOW OR COLLACHT p 335
CHAPTER VIII MOTTECASTLES IN NORTH WALES
CHAPTER IX MOTTECASTLES IN SOUTH WALES
CHAPTER X MOTTECASTLES IN SCOTLAND
CHAPTER XI MOTTECASTLES IN IRELAND
CHAPTER XII STONE CASTLES OF THE NORMAN PERIOD
APPENDIX B WATLING STREET AND THE DANELAGH
APPENDIX C THE MILITARY ORIGIN OF ALFREDS BOROUGHS
APPENDIX M THE CASTLE OF SLANE
APPENDIX N THE WORD DONJON
APPENDIX O THE ARRANGEMENTS IN EARLY KEEPS
APPENDIX P KEEPS AS RESIDENCES
APPENDIX Q CASTLES BUILT BY HENRY I
APPENDIX R THE SOCALLED SHELL KEEP
APPENDIX S PROFESSOR LLOYDS HISTORY OF WALES
SCHEDULE OF ENGLISH CASTLES KNOWN TO DATE FROM THE ELEVENTH CENTURY1207