« PreviousContinue »
in an ancient legal work on elections. I have since then paid a visit to Cricklade, with a view to discover how far it was still in existence. This proved an easy task. The mound in its entire course is still distinctly visible, and forms a square rather more than a third of a mile each way. The S.W. corner is in the meadow adjoining the parsonage and St. Sampson's churchyard; the N.W. corner at the north end of Long Close; the N.E. corner in the meadow adjoining the farm-yard of Abingdon Court; and the S.E. corner in Paul's Croft. In some parts it is very distinct; in others less so, having been levelled for gardens or for the roads. St. Mary's Rectory house and garden stand upon the bank, and are considerably higher than the lane outside. The bank is less distinct in Paul's Croft than in any of the other meadows. I think there can be no doubt that it is of Roman origin. The nature of the mound, its shape, its size, and whole character, present the appearance of such an encampment; and it would be interesting if some who have closely studied Roman fortification would visit Cricklade, and report upon the age of the bank. As far as I am aware, it has not been examined or alluded to by any antiquarian or archæologist. After an examination of General Roy's standard work upon the Military Antiquities of the Romans in Britain, I cannot help coming to the conclusion that the ancient local tradition will be found supported by scientific investigation. Its situation, close to the Irmine Street, Roman Road, of course adds to the probability of this opinion. Dr. Stukeley in his Itinerarium Curiosum, observes that Cricklade is probably a Roman town. The number of Roman coins which have been found in and around Cricklade, and which are frequently discovered now, leads irresistibly to the same conclusion. In 1865, as many as 75 Roman coins of a very early period, were found about half-a-mile from Cricklade, with many other Roman and Roman-British curiosities.1 It may not, perhaps, be generally known that about 1670, a tessellated pavement was discovered near the same spot, which is described as having consisted of chequer work two or
1 See a paper on "Roman Remains found at Latton, Wilts," by Professor Buckman, Wiltshire Magazine, vol. ix., p. 232.
three inches square. The colours of the pieces were white, black, and red. Pieces of brick, which are supposed to be of Roman manufacture, were also discovered in 1862 in the restoration of St. Mary's Church.
It is, however, certain that Cricklade was a fortified town, and the seat of important military operations at a date long subsequent to the Roman era, namely, in the time of King Stephen. Those who will refer to the "Gesta Stephani," or to "Waylen's History of Marlborough," will find that William of Dover erected there "an inaccessible castle, surrounded on all sides by water, and by marshes." From his head-quarters at Cricklade, he furiously attacked all the followers of King Stephen within a radius of many miles. He was succeeded as Commander there by Philip, son of the Earl of Gloucester, who was even more violent than his predecessor. Stephen, however, either by flattery or bribery, converted his enmity into friendship, and so secured the important post of Cricklade. Prince Henry, afterwards Henry II., returning from Normandy, A.D. 1153, captured Malmesbury, but was ignominiously repulsed by King Stephen, when he made an attack upon Cricklade.
It is clear that the fortifications which were in existence in the time of Stephen were not of recent construction, although the castle itself seems to have been so; the wall was not erected by William of Dover, but was probably at that time several centuries old. We know at least that it must have encircled or rather environed the town for 150 years; for by the laws of the Saxon Kings the privilege of minting was only conceded to walled towns, and from the time of Canute, and possibly long before, Cricklade was honoured by being one of the places set apart to manufacture the coin of the realm. I trust that some future student of the history of Cricklade may be able to discover additional links to connect the walls and fortifications which existed there in the time of the Saxons, and of the Norman invaders, with the Roman era, and to strengthen the opinion which tradition has handed down as to the Roman origin of the embankment. It would be interesting also if the latest date could be ascertained when remains of the
ancient walls were still in existence. As far as I am aware the last encounter sustained by the ancient fortifications of Cricklade was in the vain attempt of Prince Henry to recover Cricklade from the hands of King Stephen.
WILLIAM ALLAN, M.A.
P.S.-Since the above was written, I have had the pleasure of receiving a communication on the subject from that eminent archæologist J. Y. Akerman, Esq. He says, "There can be little doubt that the mound was formed by the Romans, probably coeval with the military road." Such an opinion from such an authority is a weighty testimony to the opinion I have ventured to express.-W. A.
As the Wootton Bassett Cucking Stool has been described and illustrated in the pages of the Wiltshire Magazine, (vol. i., p. 68, and vol. vii., p. 25) it may be well to record the fact that there is now living (May, 1869), a person who can distinctly remember the last occasion on which it was used. His name is Thomas Blanchett, now 91 years old, and residing at present in the ButtHay, Wootton Bassett. He states that the punishment was inflicted in the Weir-pond (filled up in 1836), which was a short distance to the west of the "Angel" and "Crown" Inns, in the High Street. The culprit's name was Margaret (or Peggy) Lawrence. Blanchett has a most vivid recollection of seeing her gasp for breath on being drawn out of the water, when the handle of the machine was pulled down by the two men who conveyed her to the pond. He believes the occurrence took place about 1787. Blanchett's wife is nearly 90 years old, and a strong hale woman. They have been married 67 years. His mother reached the patriarchal age of 99 years.1
W. F. PARSONS.
1 Since this paragraph was in type, the old man, Thomas Blanchett, who gave the above information, has died,
HE Editors do not venture a remark on the following opinions on Stonehenge, which have been published during the month of June, 1869.
I. "That Stonehenge was a place of burial and not a temple, is proved by analogy, as the stone circles of Khassia, Algiers, Penrhyn Island, are all sepulchral." From a paper “On Cromlechs and Megalithic Structures," by Hodder M. Westropp, in "Scientific Opinion," June 9th, 1869. "Whatever the date of Stonehenge, there can be little doubt that as a temple it represents that ancient, nay, that patriarchal worship which identified itself with the erection of commemorative stones." From an address by J. W. Morris, President of the Bath Church of England Young Mens' Society, June 14th, 1869.
III. "Other points of resemblance between Stonehenge and the Dracontine Temples of India, may be pointed out." ** “Here then we may seem to have a clue to the origin and adaptation of the Megalithic circular temples of our own island; they are the surviving memorials of a Turanian people, who in the far distant past were the sole inhabitants of whose existence we have any knowledge. These they raised, and they still remain, abundant evidence of the influence and persistency of that peculiar form of worship which was then cultivated—the worship of the serpent-the oldest form of religious idea." From a paper read at Salisbury, June 15th, 1869, by Rev. J. Kirwan.
Donations to the Museum and Library.
The Council have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of the following. By Rev. H. HARRIS, Winterbourne:-Eight coins. Small bronze torque. Object in bronze.
"On Roman coins found on Salisbury Plain," by C. Roach Smith, Esq.: presented by the author.
Archæologia Cantiana, vol. vii., 8vo, has been received. Also Journal of
H. F. & E. BULL, Printers and Publishers, Devizes.