Page images


of the (probably) wooden castle of William the Conqueror. Its nature, position, and size correspond to what we have already observed as characteristic of the first castles of the Conquest. It stands on land which originally belonged to the church of St Andrew, as Domesday Book tells us William's castle did.1 The very name may be interpreted in favour of this theory." And that there was no Roman or Saxon fortification on the spot is proved by excavations, which have shown. that both a Roman and a Saxon cemetery occupied portions of the area."

It is well known that between the years 1087 and 1089 the celebrated architect, Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester, built a new stone castle for William Rufus, "in the best part of the city of Rochester." This castle, of course, was on the same site as the present one, though the splendid keep was not built till the next


1 See the charter of Coœnulf, King of Mercia, giving to Bishop Beornmod three ploughlands on the southern shore of the city of Rochester, from the highway on the east to the Medway on the west. Textus Roffensis, p. 96.

2 The name Boley may possibly represent the Norman-French Beaulieu, a favourite Norman name for a castle or residence. Professor Hales suggested that Boley Hill was derived from Bailey Hill (cited in Mr Gomme's paper on Boley Hill, Arch. Cantiana, vol. xvii.). The oldest form of the name is Bullie Hill, as in Edward IV.'s charter, cited below, p. 200.

3 Roman urns and lachrymatories were found in the Boley Hill when it was partially levelled in the 18th century to fill up the castle ditch. History of Rochester, p. 281. At the part now called Watt's Avenue, Mr George Payne found "the fag-end of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery." Arch. Cantiana, vol. xxi.

"In pulchriore parte civitatis Hrouecestre." Textus Roffensis, p. 145. Mr Freeman and others have noticed that the special mention of a stone castle makes it probable that the first castle was of wood. Mr Round remarks that the building of Rochester Castle is fixed, by the conjunction of William II. and Lanfranc in its history, to some date between September 1087 and March 1089. Geoffrey de Mandeville, p. 339. Probably, therefore, it was this new castle which Bishop Odo held against Rufus in 1088. Ordericus says that "cum quingentis militibus intra Rofensem urbem se conclusit." P. 272.


reign.' But if what we have maintained above be correct the castle of Gundulf was built on a different site from that of the castle of William. Nor are we without evidence in support of this. What remains of the original Norman wall of Gundulf's castle (and enough remains to show that the circuit was complete in Norman times) does not stand on earthen banks; and this, though not a proof, is a strong suggestion that there was no earthen bank belonging to some previous castle when Gundulf began his building. But further, Mr Livett has shown in his paper on Mediaval Rochester3 that in order to form a level plateau for the court of the castle the ground had to be artificially made up on the north and east sides, and in these places the wall rests on a foundation of gravel, which has been forcibly rammed to make it solid, and which goes through the artificial soil to the natural chalk below. Now what can this rammed gravel mean but an expedient to avoid the danger of building in stone on freshly heaped soil? Had the artificial platform been in existence ever since the Conquest, it would have been solid enough to build upon without this expense. It is therefore at least

It is now attributed to Archbishop William of Corbeuil, to whom Henry I. gave the custody of the castle in the twenty-seventh year of his reign, with permission to make within it a defence or keep, such as he might please. Continuator of Florence, 1126. Gervase of Canterbury also says "idem episcopus turrim egregiam ædificavit." Both passages are cited by Hartshorne, Arch. Journ., xx., 211. Gundulf's castle cost 60/. and can scarcely have been more than an enclosing wall with perhaps one mural tower. See Mr Round, Geoffrey de Mandeville, 340, and Mr Livett's paper, cited above.

2 Two common friends of Rufus and Gundulf advised the king that in return for the grant of the manor of Hedenham and the remission of certain moneys, "episcopus Gundulfus, quia in opere cæmentario plurimum sciens et efficax erat, castrum sibi Hrofense lapideum de suo construeret." Textus Roffensis, p. 146. There was therefore an exchange of land in this affair also.

3 Arch. Cantiana, vol. xxi.

[ocr errors]



probable that Bishop Gundulf's castle was built on an entirely new site.

It seems also to be clear that the Boley Hill was included as an outwork in Bishop Gundulf's plan, for the castle ditch is cut through the Roman wall near the south gate of the city.1 Mr Livett remarks that King John appears to have used the hill as a point of vantage when he attacked the city in 1215, and he thinks this was probably the reason why Henry III.'s engineers enclosed it with a stone wall when they restored the walls of the city. Henry III.'s wall has been traced all round the city, and at the second south. gate it turns at right angles, or nearly so, so as to enclose Boley Hill. It is probable, as Mr Livett suggests, that the drawbridge and bretasche, or wooden tower, ordered in 1226 for the southern side of Rochester Castle, were intended to connect the Boley Hill court with the main castle. In 1722 the owner of the castle (which had then fallen into private hands) conveyed to one Philip Brooke, "that part of the castle ditch and ground, as it then lay unenclosed, on Bully Hill, being the whole breadth of the hill and ditch without the walls of the castle, extending from thence to the river Medway." 5



The general opinion about the Boley Hill is that

1 Arch. Cantiana, vol. xxi., p. 49.

2 There are several entries in the Close Rolls relating to this wall of Henry III. in the year 1225.

3 Mr Beale Poste says that this ancient wall was met with some years since in digging the foundations of the Rev. Mr Conway's house, standing parallel to the present brick walls and about 2 feet within them. "Ancient Rochester as a Roman Station," Arch. Cantiana, ii., 71. The Continuator of Gervase of Canterbury tells us (ii., 235) that at the siege of Rochester in 1265, Simon de Montfort captured the outer castle up to the keep (forinsecum castellum usque ad turrim), and Mr Livett thinks this outer castle must have been the Boley Hill.

4 Close Rolls, ii., 98b.

Hasted's Kent, iv., 163.


it is a Danish earthwork, thrown up by the Danes when they besieged the city in 885. But if our contention in Chapter IV. is just, the Danish fortifications were not mottes, nor anything like them; and (as has already been pointed out) the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle indicates the nature of the fortress in this case by its expression, "they made a work around themselves"; that is, it was a circumvallation. Moreover, at Rochester the Danes would have had to pass under the bridge (which is known to have existed both in Roman and Saxon times) in order to get to the Boley Hill; and even if their ships were small enough to do this they would hardly have been so foolish as to leave a bridge in their possible line of retreat. It is therefore far more likely that their fastness was somewhere to the north or east of the city.❜

It is a noteworthy fact that up till very recently the Boley Hill had a special jurisdiction of its own, under an officer called the Baron of the Bully, appointed by the Recorder of the city. This appears to date from a charter of Edward IV. in 1460, which confirms the former liberties of the citizens of Rochester, and ordains that they should keep two courts' leet and a court of piepowder annually on the Bullie Hill. The anonymous historian of Rochester remarks that it was thought that the baron represented the first officer under the governor of the castle before the court leet was instituted, to whose care the security of the Bullie Hill was entrusted.R This is probably much nearer the truth than the theory which would assign such thoroughly feudal courts as those of court leet and

1 "Ymb sætan tha ceastre and worhton other fæsten ymb hie selfe." See ante, p. 49, note 2.

' Mr Hope suggests the east side, as the north was a marsh. History of Rochester (published by Fisher, 1772), p. 285.




pie-powder to an imaginary community of Danes residing on the Boley Hill. When we compare the case of the Boley Hill with the somewhat similar cases of Chester and Norwich castles we shall see that what took place in Edward IV.'s reign was probably this: the separate jurisdiction which had once belonged to an abandoned castle site was transferred to the citizens of Rochester, but with the usual conservatism of mediæval legislation, it was not absorbed in the jurisdiction of the city.

The value of Rochester at the time of the Survey had risen from 100s. to 20/1 The increase of trade, arising from the security of traffic which was provided by William's castles on this important route, no doubt accounts in great measure for this remarkable rise in value.

ROCKINGHAM, Northants (Fig. 29).-Here, also, the castle was clearly new in William's reign, as the manor was uninhabited (wasta) until a castle was built there by his orders, in consequence of which the manor produced a small revenue at the time of the Survey.2 The motte, now in great part destroyed, was a large one, being about 80 feet in diameter at the top; attached to it is a bailey of irregular but rectilateral shape (determined by the ground) covering about 3 acres. There is another large bailey to the S. covering 4 acres, formed by cutting a ditch across the spur of the hill on which the castle stands, which is probably later. The first castle would undoubtedly be of wood, and it is probable that King John was the builder of the "exceeding fair and strong" keep which

1 D. B., i., 56.

2 "Wasta erat quando Rex W. iussit ibi castellum fieri. Modo valet 36 solidos." D. B., i., 220.

« PreviousContinue »