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CHAP. 6. within the area, about twenty-five yards square, which, in all probability,
was the prætorium.”
This fort was an oblong square, the angles facing the points of the compass, and the north-west and north-east sides having the river Mersey flowing within one or two furlongs of the walls. The wall encompassing the area was about three yards in thickness; that which bounded the prætorium, about one yard and a half. Within the area, pieces of broken swords have been found; and very near the east angle, a stone about sixteen inches long and twelve broad (now in the wall of a farm-house) was discovered, with an inscription on it in Roman characters, partly abbreviated. This Mr. Watson reads thus: Cohortis primæ Frisianorum Centuria Valerius Vitalis: and concludes, that Melandra was a sister fort to that at Manchester, which, he observes, was garrisoned by another part of the Frisian cohort. Eleven square pieces of enclosed ground, adjoining to this fort, are called the Castle-carrs.
On the top of a high round hill, one mile from Glossop, called Mouselow castle, there probably was formerly a castle or station, being a spot well calculated for such a purpose, as it commands a most extensive prospect over the surrounding country. This hill, forty-five years ago, was pastured to the top, on which it was plain to be seen a building had stood, there being deep holes and a quantity of stones. The top occupies a large space of ground. The whole of the hill, as well as the top, is now planted with firs of about forty-five years standing, and the late Hon. Edward Bernard Howard gave it the name of Castle hill.
"The last of our certain Roman stations was at Buxton, a spot known probably from very early antiquity for its warm springs; and evidently inhabited on this account by the Romans, several of whose baths have been discovered here, and one indeed so lately as 1781, in digging the foundations of the present Crescent. The station itself is supposed by Watson to have been on the hill above the hall, which is known by the name of the Stene or Stane cliffs. Major Rooke also, in 1787, found remains which he conjectured to be those of a Roman temple. From these circumstances, and still more from the meeting of at least three of their roads at the same point, there is little doubt of a Roman town having existed in this spot; and there is some foundation for supposing the name of it to have been Aqua, not only as Aqua Sextiæ in Provence, and Aquæ Solis or Sulis in Somersetshire, were names given by the Romans to places distinguished like this by their warm springs; but because in Ravennas (who observes an awkward sort of order in his geographical enumeration of our British towns) the Roman station of Aquæ appears not far from Lindum (Lincoln) on one side, and Camulodurrum (Slack in Yorkshire) on the other; a situation which agrees perfectly well with this of Buxton.
"The above-mentioned places have all of them, I believe, good claim to be considered as Roman; but there are two others, whose pretensions are of a more uncertain nature. The first of these is at Parwich, between Buxton and Ashbourn. The camp, which is Roman in its shape, lies about half a mile from the village, at a spot called Lombard's green. Roman coins too have been found there, but in an urn, not scattered upon the surface, which last circumstance would have been decisive in its favour.
Foundations of walls have been dug up, and a bank, whether a prætentura CHAP. 6. or a road is uncertain, runs strait from it to the Ashbourn road on one side, Parwich. and to a pool of water on the other. It must be owned that the names Lombard's green and Parwich (Parvus Vicus) might warrant the conjecture; and the distance, which is about half way from Buxton to Little Chester, would suit well for an intermediate station. But, with all these advantages, the distance of two miles and a half from the Roman road, and an apparent want of connexion with it, is an objection not to be got over. If, indeed, a way from Buxton to Rocester should be found in the direction of the present Ashbourn turnpike road, Parwich, being then in the space between two Roman roads, might have some right to be considered as a station to accommodate both; but until such a discovery is made, an antiquary of any experience must be inclined to suspend his opinion.
"Another camp with a claim of the same nature is at Pentrich, on the Pentrich. Rykneld street, between Little Chester and Chesterfield: its figure also is Roman, being square with a double vallum. It lies close to the road; one coin at least has been found in it; and the distance suits well for a mansio between these two stations, being eleven or twelve miles from each. Indeed, the situation does not at all agree with Richard's present numbers; and this seems to have misled Mr. Pegge, who does not even notice its pretensions, but supposes the intermediate station would be found at Higham or Linbury, at the latter of which places, as I observed, foundations of old buildings have been discovered. But the numerals in Richard's iters, which are never remarkably accurate, are less so than usual in these roads, which he alone describes; being unchecked by those in Antonine, and only guessed at in his rude times by ignorant monks whom he states as his informers. And in this particular iter it is impossible to reconcile them either with one another or with truth; one station being inserted without name or numbers, and another with a number impossible to be right, being sixteen miles from Chesterfield, and more than that from Derventio. See Pegge, in Bib. Topog. No. 24. who quotes Bertram's edition of Richard's Iters.
"Now if we suppose the number left vacant to be as small as possible, for instance VII., the distance from Little Chester to Chesterfield, according to Pegge, would be thirty-nine miles, but by actual measurement it is only twenty-three. It is, therefore, far more rational, as Mr. Leman and Whitaker have agreed, to strike out the vacant fifth station, and alter the XVI on each side to XII, which in the first place would agree to the whole distance between Little Chester and Chesterfield, and in the second to the particular distance of Pentrich from both of them; though this last
CHAP. 6. circumstance seems to have escaped Whitaker's notice. The iter would then stand thus::
XVI Supposed Chesterfield.
XII Supposed Pentrich.
XII Little Chester.
"I should, therefore, without much hesitation, be inclined to rank the camp at Pentrich among the Derbyshire stations, as noticed by Richard in his 18th Iter.
"As to the Roman camp in the gardens of the village, which Pegge states as so plainly to be seen from the hill above Castleton in the Peak, it may have been either a summer camp for the garrison of Brough, or constructed here as a check to the old works on Mam-Tor, which King and others call Roman, but which I should rather suppose British, as we find circumstances exactly similar at Burrinswark in Scotland, and at the foot of the great British camp on Borough-hill near Daventry.
"The camp on Comb's-Moss, four miles from Buxton, which Major Rooke is said to have discovered, may in like manner have been a summer, or an exploratory camp to that station; but this antiquary was too apt to suppose all the camps he saw, however irregular in their shape, to be Roman, and he has not left us the slightest description of it to form our opinion on the subject."
At the distance of two miles, south-east of Chapel-en-le-Frith, are some works of a military appearance, near the northern extremity of a mountain called Combe's-Moss. On the level of the mountain are two deep trenches, which run parallel to each other to the extent of about two hundred yards. That which lies nearest to the edge of the hill is carried down the declivity by two traverses. This part of the intrenchment is much wider than the other, and is about a quarter of a mile long. We are not able even to form a conjecture respecting the people by whom these intrenchments were formed.
Near the site of the ancient manor-house, which stood in Risley Park, Silver Dish. a large silver dish or salver, of antique basso relievo, and of Roman workmanship, was found in the year 1729. Dr. Stukeley, by whom an account of it was read before the Society of Antiquaries, observes, that it was twenty inches long and fifteen broad, and weighed seven pounds. Upon the face were a variety of figures, representing rural sports, employments and religious rites. It stood upon a square basis or foot; and round the bottom and on the outside, this inscription was rudely cut, with a pointed instrument, in Roman characters of the fourth century;
EXSVPERIVS EPISCOPVS ECCLESIÆ BOGIENSI DEDIT.
intimating, that it was "given by Exsuperius, who was Bishop of Bayeux and Toulouse in the year 405, to the church of Bouges;" near which a battle was fought in 1421, between the Scots, under the Duke d'Alençon, who were quartered in the church, and the English, under Thomas, Duke of Clarence, brother to Henry the Fifth, who was slain there. At this
time it is supposed to have been brought from the church as a trophy, and CHAP. 6. given to Dale Abbey.*
The Rev. Henry Peach, of Langley hall, has a good collection of Roman and British coins, and several gentlemen have Roman remains in their possession. Charles Hurt, jun. esq. of Wirksworth has a valuable collection of coins, fossils, &c. Philip Gell, esq. of Hopton has several Roman spear-heads, &c. The brass trident, found at Middleton in 1822, and the Roman fibula, found at the same village in 1821, represented in the engravings, are in the rare and valuable collection of antiquities of William Bateman, esq. F. A. S. of Middleton.
There are many Saxon camps in this county: these are easily distin- Saxon guished from those of the Romans. The Romans always took care to have Camps. a good supply of water, and placed their camps near a road, that the men might always be in readiness to march; but the Saxons generally fixed upon high hills, with a steep precipice in front, preferring security to convenience: the former generally chose a square spot of ground, the latter gave themselves no trouble about the form, but had recourse to ditches.
The Saxons brought into this island a kind of fortification which they called a castle: this was placed on a high hill, rendered difficult of approach, and was sometimes surrounded by a moat or ditch: it served as a residence for the chief, and a constant garrison being kept, such places were considered, before the use of gunpowder, a good security to their occupiers. Saxon coins have been found in the county. Mr. Swanwick of Derby has one in a high state of preservation.
Ancient Church Architecture.
Saxon. Of the ecclesiastical edifices of Derbyshire, the crypt under the Ancient parish church of Repton claims the first notice; there being good reason Architecto suppose, that it was a part of the conventual church, destroyed by the ture. Stukeley's Dissertations.
CHAP. 6. Danes, who wintered here at this place in the year 874; at which time Eadburga, daughter of Adulph, King of the East Angles, was abbess of Repton. There have been three entrances to this crypt by flights of steps, one on the north side, now open; and two on the west, which appear to have communicated with the church. It is nearly a square of seventeen feet, the roof being vaulted with circular arches, supported by four columns of less massy proportions than those of the later Saxon architecture, the capitals are very plain and square, the bases round, without any mouldings: the shafts are wreathed in different directions.*
Melbourn church is a very perfect specimen of the massy style of architecture which prevailed in the eleventh century; a plan and sections of this church were published by the Society of Antiquaries, in the thirteenth volume of the Archæologia, from drawings by the late William Wilkins, esq., who conjectured that it was erected by King Ethelred, in the seventh century. We cannot but think that he has referred this edifice to too early a period, as its style by no means accords with that of the buildings, which, on the best evidence, are supposed to have been erected in the Saxon times; of which the conventual church at Ely, and the crypt at Repton, are those, whose dates are, perhaps, the best authenticated; but it coincides with that of the ecclesiastical edifices, which we know to have been built about the time of the Norman conquest.
Melbourn church has undergone little alteration, except in the lower range of windows, which have been enlarged; it consists of a nave and side aisles, separated by massy pillars, some of the capitals of which are ornamented with foliage and figures of animals, others with crosses: the arches are circular, ornamented with zig-zag mouldings. Between the nave and chancel is a large square tower, the upper part of which is more modern, with pointed windows; at the east end of each aisle is a chantry. The east end of the chancel and that of each of the chantries, Mr. Wilkins observes, appear to have been originally circular; they are now all square, with gothic windows. The entrance at the west end of the church consists of three porticos, with groined roofs, divided by arches from the nave, having chambers over them: Mr. Wilkins supposes these to be the porticus of the Saxon churches, described by Bede. The whole length of Melbourn church, within the walls, is one hundred and thirty-three feet, the width forty-four feet nine inches.
The desecrated church of Steetley exhibits a very complete specimen of the later and more enriched style of Saxon architecture, on a small scale. It is quite entire except the roof, and has undergone no alteration except in one of the windows on the south side, which has been enlarged. It consists of a nave and chancel, each twenty-six feet in length; the east end being circular and vaulted: the ribs of the arches, and the capitals of the half pillars, from which they spring, are much enriched with various mouldings, grotesque heads, foliage and other ornaments. A cornice, supported by brackets, ornamented with roses, heads, &c. runs round the upper part of the building on the outside. The circular part at the east end has also a fascia of foliage running round it, about the middle of the building; and
* See plate, given in the Parochial History, under the head of Repton.