Page images

demanded. The absence above ground of all trace of Roman buildings is not conclusive evidence of their previous non-existence, since I find that in most cases the near presence of a church, or monastery, or Edwardian castle, is quite sufficient to account for the disappearance of the remains.

In my paper in this volume, on the course of the Roman street from Deva to Varis, I have endeavoured to show that the Roman settlement of Flint was on the Itinerary road between Deva and Varis, and one of considerable importance both in a commercial and military point of view, and essential, in a measure, to the progress of the Roman rule in North Wales. The pigs of lead with the well-known stamp, DE CEANGI, may beyond doubt be assigned as the produce of the Roman settlement of Flint, from ore found in the immediate neighbourhood; the tribute, in part, of the Ceangi for the year A.D. 74. Another pig of lead, of evidently a later date, bears the word SANDON, for SANDONIVM, stamped upon it, which is recognised as the name of the Roman lead-producing town, the ancient Flint.

If, then, Flint in the past has been all that I have endeavoured to sketch, it is difficult to understand how so important a site became so obliterated both in name. and worth as not to find a place in later times in Domesday. According to the present reading of that record, Flint has no separate recognition, and so it is usual to consider it as included in the adjoining district of Coleshill. This is not, to my mind, a satisfactory assignment. If the ancient history of Flint, now unearthed, be anything near what I have suggested, then some trace of it in Domesday was to be expected. The Roman camp would survive in some form; its outlines, even if not its name, would be recognised in Norman times.

We find

This appeal to Domesday is not in vain. there just what is wanted,-a Castreton, which has been identified (irregularly, I think) with Kelsterton ; not, however, without a query on the part of the local

Editor. The Castreton of Atis-cross Hundred, I hope to show, relates to Flint. The claims of Kelsterton to it rest on no more substantial basis than a slight identity in sound in the name. The etymology of the name Kelsterton shows no connection with the Romans, or Roman subjects. Like the names of many other places on both sides of the estuary of the Dee, as Kirkby, Irby, Frankby, Pensby, there is, as we shall see, a Danish element in the word Kel-ster-ton. Kel, from the Danish kjöll, is the Anglo-Saxon ceol, a keel or small ship; ster is the Anglo-Saxon suffix denoting employment, as brewster, webster, etc. Kelsterton is, therefore, the ton occupied by the keelsters who built the keels or small ships which dotted the estuary in their time, engaged in fishing or transporting the lead produced at Flint to other localities. The shore about Kelsterton is singularly fitted for this occupation, with bays and inlets suitable for launching vessels when built, while on the higher ground about there is an abundance of good timber.

It is interesting to mention that in the shipbuilding yards of Connah's Quay, scarcely a mile distant, we see possibly a local survival of a race of Danish shipbuilders who once inhabited the district; at any rate the keelsters' art still lives at Connah's Quay. It is still their ton or home.

Kelsterton, then, as we have seen, has no claim to be identified with Castreton; and further, since there are no remains of a camp, there exists no valid reason for the claim. It remains a case of mistaken identity in sound. The effect of this is to leave a military settlement, an old camp, to be assigned to some place in Flintshire, limited to the Hundred of Atis-cross.

Seeing that the town of Flint has hitherto failed to find recognition in Domesday, and looking at its position in the time of the Romans,-the seat of a Roman garrison, Flint naturally and justly is qualified to take the vacant name of Castreton. There is no other site of a camp in Flintshire to dispute with Flint the

possession of the title to Castreton. We have, then, to think of the camp at Flint as constructed and left by the Romans; perhaps utilised, certainly named by the Saxons "Ceastre" (camp), as in the case of Deva (Chester); and appearing in the Domesday Book as Castreton. From this record we read that "Castreton was held by one Hamo, and Osmund of him. Edwin held it as a freeman. There is half a hide rateable to the gelt. The land is one carucate. Two villeins, with one bordar, have half a carucate there. There is a wood one league long, and the same broad. It is worth five shillings." We are further told that the same Hamo held Aston (in Hawarden).1

A word as to the exact position of the site of the Roman camp. That it was on the ground now occupied by the town of Flint seems pretty clear. The situation was one well chosen in every way,-a central position well set back from the shore, a stream of water from the mountains flowing by its side, the smelting works on either hand, ready communication by road and by water with Deva, surrounded by ample supplies of wood and coal, while the lead-ore gathered from the hills around was readily conveyed along the military road to the smelting places.

A mile distant from Flint, along the shore, is Atiscross, which at one time must have been a place of some note, since it gave the name to a very considerable hundred; and Pennant remarks, "there is a tradition that in very old times a large town stood at this place, and it is said the foundations of buildings have been frequently turned up by the plough."

There is something to be said in favour of the claims of Atis-cross as the site of the Roman garrison, mainly on account of the numerous relics found here from time to time. That it was a busy place there can be no doubt, that the lead and lime and coal for shipment were brought here, and that the little haven by Pentre

1 Pennant's Tours in Wales, ed. J. Rhys, vol. i, p. 68.
2 Domesday Book, Cheshire and Lancashire, p. 69.


Rock accommodated the vessels which conveyed these commodities to various stations along the coast. was, in fact, the port for shipping the raw materials produced here. It by no means follows that the Roman garrison would be in camp either here or close by, at Atis-cross. As a military body they would have a separate and distinct location, which we prefer to think was on, or about, the site of the present town. Future discoveries may clear up this point.

Later on the defences of Flint were utilised by the Saxons, probably by restaking or enclosing the old camp.

The part taken by Edward I. would seem to have been the restoration of the Roman camp, so far as its outline and fosse were concerned, while additional security was gained by the modern walled-in Castle. I prefer to think of Edward as utilising the lines of the old camp; hence we may regard the fosse and streets of Flint as partly survivals from Roman times. It is so in the case of Chester; and Flint, too, should be shown a like consideration, for as Pennant remarks,' "the town is formed on the principle of a Roman encampment, being rectangular, and surrounded with a vast ditch, and two great ramparts, with the four regular portæ as usual.”

Elsewhere in this volume I have brought forward reasons for supposing that the name of the Roman town. on the site of Flint was Sandonium. The Saxons, on coming into possession of the place, would appear to have paid no more regard to the Roman name of Sandonium than in the case of Deva.

A word as to the present name of the town of Flint. This is considered by Mr. Taylor, the historian of Flint, to be a contraction or corruption of the word "Fluentum", taken from a record of Edward I, who, when in the neighbourhood of Flint, and prior to the building of the present Castle, speaks of the place as "Castrum apud Fluentum" (camp by the flowing); a description

1 Pennant's Tours in Wales, ed. J. Rhys, vol. i, p. 57.

which is inaccurate, and without point, as regards anything in the surroundings of Flint.'

My suggestion is that the reference in "Castrum apud Fluentum" is not to Flint, but to Basingwerke, three miles distant; and that by the "flowing", reference is made to the remarkable stream which issues from St. Winifred's Well, and flows past Basingwerke. It is no stream or river in the ordinary sense. It is an outburst of the pent up waters from under Halkyn Mountain, a ceaseless, onward-flowing body of water, which, as Dr. Samuel Johnson remarks, "is all at once a very great stream", and hence it is spoken of "as one of the seven wonders of Wales". This view is confirmed by the historical fact that when Edward I superintended the erection of Flint Castle, his camp was pitched at Basingwerke, by the stream in question." His probably early letters from the place were dated from the "Castrum apud Fluentum", and the later ones from Basingwerke, which is alongside the stream. To my mind the designation in both instances is the same, Basingwerke, by the flowing, or stream.

The origin for the modern name of the town I take to be derived from its association in the past, in many ways, with the substance known as flint. The further discussion of this point I leave to a future occasion.

1 Taylor's Historic Notices of Flint, p. 2.
2 Journey into North Wales, p. 71.
3 Taylor's Historic Notices of Flint, p. 19.

« PreviousContinue »