evidence in the southern parts of the island and on the
coasts. But even here inland there would be a certain
freedom from the grossness of savage life, the result of
national training and character through many centuries.
The Roman towns would in most instances be built upon
the site of British towns, and the roads and foids and
forest clearings would have an existence as being
necessary to the exchange of commodities indispensable to
In the open plains there were flocks and herds, though
checked considerably by the wild animals in the forests,
whose skins were used for clothing.
NOTES ON NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE. 1 1
These roads were rude, and were subject to much
improvement by the Conquerer, and whose great work,
but Httle obHterated, has been the wonder of each
The two principal Koman mihtary roads are Wathng
Street and Ickeneld Street. The former crosses the
River Tame out of Warw^ickshire into Staffordshire at
Falkesley Bridge near Tamworth, and running westward
passes into Shropshire near Brewood. Ikeneld enters
Staffordshire at Stretton near Tutbury, and runnincr
south-west crosses Wathng Street about a mile south of
Lichfield, and passes into Warwickshire at Handsworth,
But these roads do not touch this northern part of the
country, and we find a road, but not direct, going north-
ward to Deva (Chester) and on a north-easterly direction
to Mancunium (Manchester), meeting at Mediolanum
(Chesterton) with a road from Burton in a north-westerly
direction now known as Ptikeneld Street, or the Via
Devana, and another road joining the Mancunium road
at Kinderton, now Middlewich, generally called Condate.
On the lower road the station of Bovium, situated midway
near the present ruins of Beeston Castle in Cheshire.
The city of Chester, called Deva, was one of the earliest
and one of the strongest holds of the Roman power.
After the subjugation of the Ordovices by Agricola it
became the headquarters of the 20th Legion, according
to Henry, and remained for more than two centuries.
The next principal city was, perhaps, Uriconium,
supposed to be Wroxeter, near Shrewsbury. The names
of the garrisons and military towns are set down by
name in a work probably compiled under the direction
of Antoninus Pius, called The Itinera ofAntonine,K.Ti. 400.
This work is not very correct in its distances, or,
perhaps, from our knowledge does not seem to be. The
R,ev. Simeon Shaw conjectures that the circuitous routes
prove that the direct routes were not made, or that
they did not afford supplies or accommodation for the
Legionaries on' their march, or else that these Itineraries
were journeys of mere military inspection.
This favours the idea of other roads in this county
12 NOTES ON NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE.
having a claim to Roman origin. It is now, 1 think,
admitted that Chesterton was the Mediolanum of the
Romans, situated on Rikeneld Street, with a road
branching south and west to Uriconium, midway on
which is Ruturium.
There are other minor roads, one passing through the
south-west corner of the county by Areley, having a camp
in its centre ; and, in passing, I cannot forbear saying
how much I regret that in the rearrangement of boundaries
under the Act of 1894 this lovely bit was lost to the
county, and beautiful Severn is no longer one of our
So there appears to be quite a network of roads and
military stations, rendered necessary by the number of
Britons constantly ready for warfare, who had retreated
to these hills, and who watched with keen eyes the move-
ments of the Roman cohorts in the plains below.
The subjugation of the island by the Romans seems not
to have been brought about only by fighting, but by
milder attempts to soften the fierce disposition of the
As I said before, I do not think the Romans pene-
trated into the fastnesses to which the Britons retreated
and fortified themselves, but in touch with their main
roads maintained a chain of forts and kept the natives in
a certain awe. But I may not be content with this
enumeration without referring to the difference of opinions
among antiquaries as to its correctness.
Mr. Cooper, a diligent and thoughtful student at
Congleton, will not allow Condate to be on the site of
Kinderton, and produces evidence and argument for
Wallfield, Congleton. He certainly can quote as his
authorities Camden in his Britannia and Dr. Plot, but
relies more upon a MS. by Dr. Gower, containing an
account of a visit to and exploration of the Roman
encampment at Wallfield. This is quoted by Watkin in
his Roman Cheshire. In another visit, some nineteen years
later, all traces had disappeared, and this Roman camp
or town seems to have been forgotten, until Mr. Earwaker,
the painstaking historian of East Cheshire, brought into
prominence the MS. of Dr. Gower.
NOTES ON NORTH STAFFORDSHTRR. 13
The argument for Kinderton is well put forth at great
length in the early volumes of Archceologia, and Mr.
Bradley, the learned custodian of the Wm. Salt Library,
Stafford, calls my attention to Vol. 62, where Mr. Thomas
Percival says: "I have traced the Roman roads from
Manchester with the utmost care, and find that the
Condate of the Romans was Kinderton in Cheshire.
The road is visible almost all the way, and the camp yet
visible at Kinderton where the Dane and Weaver join.
There is a Roman way from thence to Chester, another
to Chesterton near Newcastle, and another by Nantwich
and Whitchurch to Wroxeter."
Certain it is that there was an encampment of import-
ance at Congleton; and we may, without drawing
upon the imagination, believe that from this stronghold
the Romans watched the Britons in their ruder fortifica-
tion on the Cloud near the altar at Bridestones, where
possibly the Arch-Druid presided.
Another difference of opinion will be found to be in the
site of Etocetum of Antoninus.
Mr. Redfern, quoting Erdeswick and Camden, does not
venture actually to declare for Uttoxeter in preference to
Wall near Lichfield, but gives in his History of Uttoxeter
his own interesting discoveries of remains in support
of his theory.
It is interesting, certainly, to note that this Rikeneld
Street, or Via Devana, was here called Portway and
Salter's Way, the latter in consequence of it being ^the
packway of the Romans for salt out of Cheshire. The
present Slade Lane, emerging from High Street, Toot
Hill, on Uttoxeter High Road, seems to have yielded Mr.
Redfern many treasures, and is in a most picturesque and
interesting situation. I have heard it called by the
name of the King's Low. It commands a magnificent
view. The name ^Toot implies that it was dedicated to
the Celtic deity Teutates as an altar. Tot, Toot, or Teut
is an Ethiopic word signifying Dog Star ; and^ it is
supposed by some that the Toth of Egypt, deified in the
Dog Star, was transferred to the Phoenicians. Another
authority gives the name as a Gothic term for the God
Mercury. Mr. Redfern was a painstaking archa3ologist.
14 NOTES ON NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE.
He pursued his studies under great difficulties such as
would have discouraged most men. He died, after a sad,
suffering life, last year.
The older antiquaries seem to confound Ikeneld Street
with Rikeneld Street, and make them one and the
same ; but the latter was quite a distinct and important
road. As to the etymology of the name, it is supposed
to be of Saxon origin. In the glossaries Rica is defined
as princeps (Olem Rex), though later the word Kyning
was used for King ; but the word Ric or Rice always
retained the sense of Kingdom. The genitive jolural of
Rica would be Ricena. Ricenael Street would be King
Street ; and in Cheshire the road beyond Middlewich
is called King Street, though some say Kind Street.
It is satisfactory to note, in support of this, that this
road is mentioned by name in the foundation charter of
Abbey Hulton as Rykenild Street, running through
Blythe Marsh and Mere.
This Rikeneld was most likely one of the principal
British roads ; and curiously I find Whitaker says the
name is British, the R being prefixed to distinguish it
as the road of the Upper Iceni, whilst the Ikenild way
itself led towards Norfolk, the country of the Iceni in
a stricter sense.
In mentioning the antiquities of this district, one
cannot help thinking of the indebtedness we owe to
Mr. Thomas Bateman for the results of his Barrow
opening given in his book, Vestiges of the Antiquities 0/
Derbyshire and Staffordshire, and Se^ndchral Usages of its
Inhabitants, fi'om the most Remote Ages to the Reformation.
He was assisted by a very worthy man and patient
worker, Samuel Carrington of Wetton.
I had the privilege of being present at the opening of
a cairn at Caldon Low in 1871, in which many bones,
flint chippings, and pieces of charcoal were found, after-
wards the subject of a paper by Dr. J. Barnard Davis,
F.R.S., the eminent craniologist, a member of our
Society, who was also present. He described it as of the
Round Barrow period or Bronze age.
Mr. Bateman's book contains an exhaustive account of
the excavations of tumuli in various parts of the county
NOTES ON NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE. 15
fVoiii 1751) to 1847. Altliouj^-li many of the barrow
opening's were in Derbyshire, still Wetton bears a
prominent part, and yielded many remains.
The jewellery exhibited here by the kind permission
of Mr. Brocklehurst, of Swythamley, was found in barrows
on his farms on the Swythamley estate.
I mention the Ward Low on Wever Hill, lilbden and
Caldon Low, Ecton Hill and Morridge, and many others,
while two hundreds still retain the names of Offlow and
Totmanslow. The remaining three hundreds of the county
I would just notice here, being Pirehill, from a hill near
Stone ; Seisdon, from a village ; of Cuddleston nothing
remains but a bridge over the Pank, called Cudd Bridge.
Mr. Bateman, evidently with a love for the idea of the
British origin of the tumuli, says : " It will be more in
accordance with truth if we leave the first century of the
Saxon invasion to the impenetrable darkness which
surrounds it, instead of stripping the tumuli of Komano-
Britons to ornament those of the idolatrous Saxons,
whose location in the most inland county of England in
the first century and a half of their occupation is
I must now claim your indulgence in making a
reference to what has become the most precious possession
of English literature â€” the story of King Arthur. He
was supposed to be a British prince. It is impos-
sible to deduce his descent from any authentic source.
The first to make mention of him is Taliessin, surnamed
Penhaird, the head or chief of the bards.
But for the history of King Arthur, in all its detail
and picturesque but wild romance, we are indebted to
Nennius, a disciple of St. Elbrod, 858, and GeoflVey of
Monmouth, who wrote a wonderful British history,
wherein he makes Arthur rescue Britain from the
Saxons. Much in Arthurian story had its germ in the
myths of the Celts, and more particularly in the
Brythonic Celts. Though the compilation of these stories
may have had some stimulus from Brittany, yet we claim
them as our own national possession, and regard the
Morte d'Arthuro^ S'lvThonms Malory as one of our most
valuable inheritances. It is to this and the Mahinoyion
16 NOTES ON NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE.
that some of our most beautiful poems owe their
foundation ; for although in our history we find the great
national story sometimes neglected or almost forgotten,
yet the chief master-singers have turned a longing eye
to its capabilities. And in no time so much as in our own
is it appreciated, for it is specially endeared to us by
Tennyson in his Idyls of the King, Matthew Arnold,
William Morris, Swinburne, and many minor poets ; for
we must ever remember that while the Germans cherish
with pride their Niehelungen Lied, and the French their
Song of Roland, we can hold with equal satisfaction our
Arthur and the Round Table, and the literature to which
it has given rise. Perhaps, if I need an excuse for so
lengthy mention of a theme I have made so much my
own study, I must say that we have a tradition for a site
of the sixth battle against the Saxons at Barcus,
now Basford, between Etruria and Newcastle. I pray
no breath of criticism may destroy this slight link with a
glorious but perhaps imaginary history.
In the study of the ancient dwellers in this district
we are largely dependent upon nomenclature. The
signification of a single name throws much light upon
the history of nations and their migrations ; for, says
Halbertsma : " It pleases not the muse of history to
speak but late, and then in a very confused manner ; yet
she often deceives, and before she comes to maturity she
seldom distinctly tells the truth. Language never
deceives, but speaks more distinctly though removed to
a higher antiquity."
Emerson, always worth quoting, says : " The names
are excellent ; an atmosphere of legendary melody
spreads over the land, older than all epics and histories,
which clothe a nation, this under shirt sits close to the
body. What history, too, and what stories of primitive
and savage observation it unfolds ! "
There are traces of British names left in this wild
moorland country, though but few, and I hope further
reference may be made to them during the week.
Verstegan says: "Thus the Saxons who at first came
to the aid of the Britons became, about two hundred
years after, to be the possessors and sharers of the best
NOTES ON NORTH STAB^FOUDSHIRb:. 17
part of the Isle of Britain among themselves. And as
their language was altogether different from that of the
Britons, so left they very few cities, towns, villages,
passages, rivers, woods, fields, hills or dales that they
gave not new names unto, such as in their own language
were intelligible, and either given by reason of the
situation or nature of the place in some sort like unto it
in Germany." May we be permitted to hope that at least
in this district we may have a few places whose nomen-
clature does not bear the mark of" Made in Germany".
And now, leaving the ancient history of this county,
I wish to comment briefly on a few interesting features.
From Cloud Hill (from dud, Anglo-Saxon) near the
Bridestones may be had one of the finest views in Eng-
land â€” nine counties, the whole of Cheshire, Runcorn
Gap, the Dee, the Mersey, the Wrekin, and the Welsh
Mountains. It is behind this hill, on the longest day,
the setting sun, viewed from Leek churchyard, gives the
double sunset so famous. There is a curious article in
the Gentleman s Magazine, vol. viii, 17, and a drawing
Eastward we come to the Pennine range of hills,
having for its last and most southerly spur the Roches,
a few miles from Leek, and the most romantically
picturesque part of the county. They are formed of
immense blocks of millstone grit.
In a History of Staffordshire by Thomas Cox (1700)
they are thus described : â€” " Vast rocks which surprise
with admiration, called the Hen Clouds and Leek
Roches. They ai-e of so great an height and afford such
stupendous prospects, that one could hardly believe they
were anywhere to be found but in picture. They are so
bare that they have no turf upon them, nor indeed any
earth to produce it, which, whether they were so from
the Creation, or were uncovered by the general flood, or
washed clean by the rain, it is not possible to account
for, unless we may suppose that the turf being taken off
to burn (as is useful in this county) this latter should
carry off the mould and leave them bare ; but, as rocky as
they appear, they certainly grow bigger, as have been
made evident to demonstration by billets, peeble stones,
18 NOTES ON NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE.
from a man's skull found in them." I think these quaint
remarks are taken from Dr. Plot's history, chapter iv, re-
Sir Walter Scott, in his letters lately published,
notices these rocks. " We were in the neighbourhood
of some very fine rock scenery, but the day was
unfavourable ; besides, I did not come from Scotland to
see rocks, I trow."
No wonder that the native of these wild moorlands
should, in spite of their inclemency, regard them with a
feeling of affection. In the history of the district they
claim an individuality, and mould to a certain extent the
life of the inhabitants ; as in Mr. Thomas Hardy's
delightful romance, The Return of the Native, where the
wild heath is really the hero and life of the story, so
do these moorlands and rocks, standing in their solitude,
exert an influence and call forth a feeling of reverence,
as it is remembered that with them rests the secret of
the history we can now feebly outline and with
These rocks, the haunt of the falcon, the curlew, and
the ring ouzel, tower over the moorland country,
impervious to the attacks of time. Now the prospect is
fine from the summit, but could we picture to ourselves
the view that met the eye of the Ancient Briton, vast
forests on every hand as far as his eye could reach, a
sight that could not easily be described. The names of
one of the Tors being Cat, seems to signify a battle, from
the Celtic word.
Near these Roches to the west is the long hill ridge
of great altitude called Gun, from Gund, a battle, though
some consider from Scandinavian "town"; and here it is
supposed in Saxon times a great fight took place, but
for the further story we are indebted to the Rev. W.
Beresford, who has made the district his own, and will,
I hope, give us some account of the remains ot
fortifications there. It is by no means certain that traces
of British occupation may not be seen.
Eastward of the Roches, and nearly equal in height. Is
a long extent of wild moorland country over which
sweeps unchecked the terrible east wind. Here there is
NOTES ON NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE. 19
a black tarn, to which tradition gives no bottom ; a
gruesome-looking place, from which a mermaid once rose
to warn the people against letting off the water. No
age so respects these old legends as our own ; they are
in the truest degree poetry, and fascinating above all
Along the crest of the Koches to the left of the path
is to be seen a rocking stone and a dolmen. Mr. Sainter,
in his Scientijic Rambles round Macclesfield, thinks
that from the proximity of this dolmen to a high and
steep escarpment it was no doubt intended to remain a
free standing specimen, i.e., uncovered by earth and
stones. Its sepulchral chamber, cist or cell, which most
likely contained an urn burial, is now cleared out.
We have here a casket, kindly lent by Mr. Eyre, dug
up on the Roches, supposed to have contained the bones
of a Briton.
Northward of this country, on the slopes of Axe Edge,
from whence springs some of the great rivers, lies the
little village of Flash. From this place comes, I believe,
the unenviable name of Flash as applied to the reverse
of genuine, for tradition gives an undesirable reputation
to its early dwellers. Near this place is a dolmen,
similar to the one described on the Koches. At the end
of the beautiful valley is the estate of Twythamley. The
hall is on the site of an old hunting-seat of the Earls of
At the west end of the E-oches, stretching far south-
ward, is the Frith Valley, signifying among the Saxons
a wood â€” a sanctuary.
A most romantic cleft is called Ludchurch, perhaps
from the legend of the Lollard worship here, Walter
de Lud-auk being the principal ; but probably the word
may be derived from lud (Scandinavian), a place of
retreat or refuge for the people.
Mr. Sainter further speaks of the remains of a stone
circle 20 feet in diameter, classifying it with battle
memorial stones, and suggesting that the possession of
this gap in this part of the Roches would have always
been of great importance in a strategic point of view to
all contending parties.
20 NOTES ON NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE.
There is a belief that a huge singularly shaped and
poised block of sandstone at Kuypersley Park, called the
Gawton or Gorstone, is the capstone of a large sepulchral
cell or dolmen that has undergone rough usage ; and Mr.
Sainter and Mr. Cooper are of this opinion, but there is
considerable doubt as to this: Mr. C. Lynam and many
of our members being of opinion that it is merely a riven
mass of the rock rolled down and excavated from
As one of the antiquities, I must notice what is called
the Staffordshire witch brooch, the subject of a paper
contributed by the late Mr. Rob McAldowie, one of our
valued members. " It is heart-shaped, unequal-sided,
one inch wide, little more than one inch in height, made of
silver, with eighteen crystals in a fancy setting ; a pin
at the back. The wearing of this brooch was thought
to be an infallible safeguard against all kinds of evil.
They were usually bought with the wedding ring, and
were supposed to keep away witches and all kinds of
evil. One was found in the garden at New Place, with
the name " W. Shakspeare" and " Love" engraved upon
In our wanderings to-morrow you will pass over a wild
district called Biddulph Moor. The dwellers here have
a distinctiveness less marked now than at a time in my
own recollection. The story is that Herbert de Langtry,
of the third crusade, brought home with him twelve
Saracen captives. A friend tells me he can remember
when they wore their hair long behind, cut short in front.
Their cottages are scattered over the moor ; the people
do not congregate. The men are black-haired and swarthy-
looking, the women frequently red-haired.
When a cottage possessed a cowhouse or byre, the
entrance to the living room was through this; seldom
now, though. Their dialect was quite different from
North Staffordshire, possessing many gips}'' words.
The donkey was called t'hummar â€” Homar is the
Arabic for ass. It is said many of their words may
be traced to this source. There is much mystery
about them, little trustworthy, but what there is is
NOTES ON NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE. 21
Mrs. iVmella B. Edwards gives these people a
prominent place in her " Lord Brackenbury", alluding to
the old legend. She gives the dialect (not easily
written) fairly well. The names most generally found
are Bailey and Stanway, and these go very far back.
I must trespass for a few moments upon your time
while I call attention to a very noble and beautiful
mansion in this district, Wootton Lodge. It is near the
villages of Wootton under the Wever Hills â€” there is an
old distich :
" Wootton-under- Wever,
Where God comes never", â€”
and to Ellaston, the scene o^ Adam Bede.
Sir Kichard Fleetwood is said to have built Wootton
Lodge from a design by Inigo Jones. The Fleetwoods
were an honourable and ancient family. Li 2 Edward VI
John Fleetwood, Esq., was sheriff of his county, and in
12 James I Sir PJchard Fleetwood, Bart., was sheriff
too. Their arms, which are carved over the doorway of
the mansion, are â€” Party per pale nebule, or and azure, six
At the time of the civil wars of Charles I the
Parliamentary forces, being under the command of Sir
William Brereton and Sir John Gell of Poyston, Colonel
Gell being in charge of the garrison at Leek, Sir Richard
Fleetwood garrisoned the Lodge ; and tradition affirms
that so well was it adapted for purposes of defence that
the Parliamentary artillery were not able to eHect a
breach of the front. We are not told how it was
afterwards taken, but the garrison were, I believe,
marched away as prisoners. There is an entry in a
curious old memoranda of accounts of the churchwardens
and constables at LTttoxeter : " 1643, June 1, charges to
Wootton Lodge with a horseload of bread." Only just
lately a cannon-ball has been removed from one of the
large front stones of the Lodge. But behind the house,
and perched on the edge of the rock commanding the
valley looking towards Alton, is a fort oi- bastion of
greater antiquity. This, I am sure, has a history, of
which I regret to say 1 can tell you nothing.
About the close of the seventeenth century, Sir
22 NOTES ON NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE.
Richard Fleetwood sold Wootton Lodge to Sir John
Wheeler, from whom it descended to the family of
Unvvin, Miss Unwin marrying a Cathcart and the
present possessor. It is interesting to record, on the
best authority on the subject,, that the remains of the
park wall is that of the oldest deer-park wall in England.
Near Dovedale is Throwley Hall, and I only mention
it to bring in our cognizance.