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Necnon Corpus Georgii Filii prædicti Georgii Smith Qui obiit Januar. 1° 1653. Et Corpus Marice Vxoris Georgii Smith Junioris Quae obiit August. 5° 1641. Conceptio Culpa : Nasci Pœna.
XVI. Ischalis, 1velchester: And the Foss Way.
This Station of the Romans is scituate on the South side of the River Ivel or Yeovil, the Velox of Ravennas, Pillbridg a little lower seems to retain the name. It is the Uzella of Ptolomy. I perceiv'd immediately that this place had been originally encompass'd with a wall and ditch, and traced out the manifest vestigia thereof quite round. It was an oblong square 300 paces in length, 200 in breadth, standing upon the oblique points of the compass, conform to the Foss way, which passes through the town exactly from North East to South West. The N.E. side of the city lay against the River, where I saw foundations of the wall here and there, and took up several Roman bricks in searching for it in the gardens, The ditch on the N.W. side is become a road called Yard Lane,* as going behind the yards and gardens. Then it runs thro. the Friary Garden, (for the Religious had extended their bounds beyond the city,) and turned the road on the outside. Then it goes along the road† on the back of Mr Lockyer's garden. It is now visible between the Yeovil Road and the Southern angle: then runs thro another garden, being for the most part
* Here Dr. Stukeley has fallen into an error; probably never having heard of The Yerde so frequently mentioned in the Deeds, the Site of which must have been somewhere in the vicinity of this Lane.
+ This road could only have been a temporary thoroughfare, since it has long disappeared in the Paddock of the Farm House. The channel of the Moat being unclaimed property, was at first used by the Public as a shorter means of communication, in those parts of it conveniently situated for the purpose.
levelled by the gardener,who shewed me the track of it and had by times in digging, taken up remainders of the wall with many coins, bricks, tiles, and other antiquities. I bought some coins of him; among which, the brass one of Antoninus Pius depicted in the Plate; on the Reverse, Britannia sitting on a Rock with a military ensign. Sir Philip Sydenham has a great quantity of coins, found here; and the Minister of the Parish gave many to the learned Mr. Coke of Norfolk, This gardener showed me many square paving bricks in the floor of his house, and told me he dug up a great brass coin as big as half a crown under the foundation of the wall, which doubtless would have discovered to us the era of it's building. Crossing the Sherborne and Limington road, we find the ditch again, turning up to the River side on the Eastern angle, conformable to the scheme; where it is again enclosed into gardens and pastures. The occupier of the gardens there, informed me too, that he had frequently dug up the like antiquities together with the foundations of the wall. The quickset hedge that fences in the garden, stands on the edge of the ditch, and observes its turn at that angle of the city. By the New Mill, it meets the River. In all the gardens hereabouts by the Borough Green, they find foundations of old houses, and some run across the present streets now visible above ground. This ditch, when perfect, admitted the water of the River quite round. M1 Lockyer's house is built upon Subterraneous Arches. They say, here have been Sixteen Parish Churches, and foundations are to be found all the town over; and that the suburbs extended southward, especially on the Yeovil Road, which formerly had a Gate, It is not to be doubted, but that there were Gates at the passage of all the other streets. They say, the Bishop of Bath & Wells has a manuscript relating to the ancient State of this town. They have the same tradition as in many other places, that the old city was set on fire by matches ty'd to the tayls of sparrows,
let fly from a place call'd Standard Cross Hill. As soon as I came to the Inn, the Swan, I saw a great parcel of the little stones of a tesselated pavement, found but two days before, in a garden over the way near the River. A crowd of people came immediately, out of curiosity to see it, and tore it up. I saw some of the remainder in situ, about two foot deep, laid in strong mortar upon a hard gravell'd floor. I made the Owner melancholy, with informing him, what profit he might have got by preserving it to shew to strangers. The Foss way retains it's name, and makes the principal Street: the pavement thereof, or the original Ford across the River, may be seen on the West side of the Bridge, made with great flag stones. Upon the Bridge is an old Chapel, called Little St Mary's. At the foot of the Bridge, within the town, is another called White Chapel, both converted into dwellings. Foundations of houses, chimney pieces, and the like, have been dug up in the meads on the West side of the town, and on both sides the River, with stone coffins and funeral apparatus. The Head of the Mayor's Staff,* or Mace, is a piece of great antiquity in cast brass. There are four Niches with four images, two Kings, a Queen, and an Angel. It seems to have been the Crozier of some Religious House. Round the bottom is wrote, in two lines, + JESU DEDRUerie.
NEME DUNETMIE. In the Northern angle, beyond the old ditch of the city, towards the River, have been some bastions and modern fortifications of the time of King Charles the First. Beyond the River is a Village adjoyning, call'd Northover, with a Church. They talk of a Castle standing where now is the Gaol, and that the tide came formerly up hither, tho now it reaches not beyond Langport. These were all the remarkables I met with at Ischalis, where I
*This Mace is still in existence, and is used at the annual Election of the Bailiff. It was exhibited at Kensington, among other Corporation Maces, in 1863. The Inscription is in Lombardic letters, and has never been satisfactorily construed.
stayed but half a day. Hence I continued my journey [towards Ham Hill] along the Foss, which I observed paved with the original work in many parts. It is composed of the flat quarry stones of the country, of good breadth, laid edgewise, and so close that it looks like the side of a wall fallen down, and thro. the current of so many ages is not worn thro.; a glorious and useful piece of industry, and to our shame not imitated, for a small reparation from time to time, would have preserved it entire, and where it is so much wanted in a dirty country. Here [on S' Michael's Hill, Montacute] has been a Castle and Chapel at top, and below it a Religious House, built by the Earl of Moriton, in the time of William the Conqueror. Another Hill is near it, much of the same figure. Between them and the Foss, upon the same hilly ridge, is a Roman Camp called Hamden Hill, with a double ditch, to which leads a vicinal Roman way from the Foss thro. Stoke. The Foss is very plain and strait hither, and to Petherton Bridge near South Petherton, once the Palace of King Ina. Beyond this the Foss grows intricate and obscure, from the many collateral roads made thro. the badness and want of reparation of the true one, Yet it seems to run thro. Donington, which stands on a very high hill.
I suppose this Foss went on the East side of Chard. and so by Axminster and Colyton to Seaton, or Moridunum; where properly it begins. Whence, if we measure its noble length to the Sea coast in Lincolnshire, at Grimsby or Salt fleet, where I imagine, it ends; it amounts to 250 Roman Miles, in a strait line from North East to South West,