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YAFFORTH (fig. 9). History.-When the Surveyl was compiled Yafforth was a berewick of Northallerton; but Count Alan le Roux of Richmond held lands within it, and it was on these lands that the motte castle of Yafforth was erected. The history of the fortalice is involved in obscurity; but it is highly probable that here we have the site of one of those notorious robber strongholds of the time of Stephen referred to by the Anglo-Saxon chronicler in his narration of the horrors of that unhappy time.2 The castle was probably erected, during the Cumin usurpation of the bishopric of Durham, by the Scotsman's ally, Alan Niger of Richmond.3 The reasons which led Alan to select this site are obvious. It commanded a ford of the Wiske ; it occupied, moreover, a highly defensible site, for there is no doubt that in mediæval times it was surrounded on all sides by a swamp) or morass, and even now the land around it is much liable to floods. 4 When order was restored the robber den would be dismantled, and as early as the reign of Richard I we find, in a Fine, a suit recorded concerning “the pasture of the island where the castle of Yafforth was, and the meadow close to the island.”'5
Description.---The fortalice of Yafforth occupied the summit of a low rounded elevation, locally known as “Howe Hill," on the west side of the river Wiske, to the north-west of Northallerton Castle. The summit of the hillock, which rises some 50 feet above the land around it, was formed into a motte with a slightly rounded top, some 75 feet in diameter at the
1 D.B., fo. 380, 3816, 299a.
2 It is possible that other North Riding castles were destroyed by Henry II, or by Stephen, in accordance with the terms of the treaty made with his rival in 1153. The castle of Wheldrake (West Riding), commanding the Ouse, was destroyed in 1149 by the citizens of York, with the permission of King Stephen, then on a visit to the city (Raine, York, 58). Philip de Colville erected a castle at Drax (West Riding), on the Ouse, which he refused to dismantle, and which Stephen besieged and captured in 1154 (Chron. Stephen, etc., Rolls Ser., i, 94). That a number of these castles were an intolerable infliction is quite certain, and these quiet green mounds which mark their sites could, were they able to speak, tell us many horrible tales of the bestiality and vicious cruelty of their inmates.
Saxon chronicler gives us a graphic account of the tragic barbarity of the time, and concludes : Never was a country delivered up to so many miseries and misfortunes, even in the invasions of the pagans it suffered less than now. It was openly reported that Christ and his saints were sleeping"
3 See Northallerton Castle.
4 On the occasion of three visits bv the writer to the site of this castle, in the middle of the summer of 1912, all the fields around it were under waterowing to the long-continued wet weather --and he was informed by the tenant farmer that his hay, then floating about in some six inches of water, had been cut some weeks previously, but that he had never had an opportunity of getting it into cock.
Pipe Roll (Pipe Rolls Soc.), xxiii,
summit. The motte rose some 16 feet above the ditch which encircled it, and part of the counterscarp bank of which still remains on the north and south sides. The motte measures some 210 feet in diameter at its base in the bottom of the ditch. There no bailey. The accommodation afforded by this timber castle would probably be rude and primitive in the extreme, possibly consisting merely of a shed within the timber palisade. There are faint indications that the entrance to the motte was on the north side, towards the west.
THE ROMAN STATION OF LAVATRÆ BOWES).
BY EDWARD WOOLER, F.S.A.
Raised by that legion long renowned,
Stern sons of war,
Bowes, though now an inconsiderable place, has a history which dates back to far distant times, being the site of a Roman station. It is, however, unnoticed in Saxon records or in the Domesday Book.
The name Bowes is suggestive, and when we read its early forms—Boghes, Boges, and Bous--we are at once transported by the two former to late Norman times, the latter being the way in which Leland spells the name in 1538.
Camden informs us that the place was destroyed by fire, and that it was in consequence called Boeth, which in the ancient British language signified "that which is burnt."
The remains of this Roman station bear eloquent testimony to the antiquity of the place. The name given to this fort by the Notitia Imperii is Lavatræ, a fact which is amply proved by the second and fifth Antonine Itineraries, and by existing remains.
Vestiges of the name yet remain in that of the adjacent stream called the Laver. This was probably the British appellation.
The station was a large one, measuring 143 yards by 133, and enclosed an area of nearly four acres, and was of the usual rectangular shape. Lavatræ continued to be garrisoned down to the time of Theodosius (379-95).
Its situation as a Roman fort resembles no other to be found in Britain. It is located neither on one of the highest and epest fells, nor on the warm and sheltered bank of it river at its junction with a similar stream ; but is placed on a bleak and exposed summit 975 feet above sea level, ill watered and wholly unsheltered, but commanding extensive views to the south, east, and west.