Eng. (Lancashire). Parish Bury.

The registers of the parish church of Bury in the County of Lancasrter. Christenings, burials, & weddings (Volume 2) online

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which this place is now distinguished. Another reason is, because
there are yet to be seen the foundations of a large building, not far
from the above rocking stone, by a place called Castle-dean, near
which are many rocks of various shapes and sizes, where it is supposed
a Druid might have exercised every part of his religion. There
are also many other curious rocks and stones on the adjoining
common, which are worth the inspection of the antiquarian. It may
be thought a mistake to suppose that the Druids were settled here,
because groves were essential to their worship, and there is not a
tree, or even a bush, in all the neighbourhood ; but there is sufficient
proof that it once was woody, the name of Catmoss adjoining to it,
helps to establish this fact. Coed is the British for a large number
of trees growing together; hence Thoresby, p. 213, makes Cat-
Beeston to be Woody-Beeston ; and Wright, in his Rutlandshire,
p. 94, after Camden, explains Catmoss, by a field full of woods.
But to put the matter quite out of dispute, the mosses hereabout
that are cut into for fuel, are full of the fragments of trees.

■ Loggon, or Rocking Stones, were huge stones so exactly poised on a p(oint, as to be
easily caused to rock or vibrate, if touched at a certain place ; some of these are artificial,
snd others natural rocks cleared of (he circumjacent earth.



BRITISH i-ERA. 27

The immense rocks and stones within the township of Stansfield,
and its very retired situation, affords an ample field for antiquarian
conjecture, that the Druids had a settlement here ; and the Hawk-
stones, Humberds, Bride-stones, &c. have been assigned by Watson,
as their temples or places of worship. The Bride consists of an up-
right stone or pillar, whose perpendicular height is about five yards, its
diameter in the thickest part about three yards, and the pedestal about
half a yard ; near this stood another large stone, called the Groom,
now thrown down ; which in all probability might have been used
by those ancient people for some religious purpose ; at short dis-
tances are several others, of different magnitudes, and a vast variety
of rocks and stones scattered about the common, presenting an appear-
ance not unlike those remains to be found in Wiltshire, and other
parts of the country, which our most eminent antiquarians have
decreed to be strictly druidical.

At the end of the second edition of Rowland's Mona Antiqua,
is a description of a druidical remain in Staffordshire, called also
the Bride-stones, which affords a presumptive argument that this in
Stansfield was made use of by the same people. They have been
known by the name of Bride stones from time immemorial and are
so described in a deed, temp. Henry VH.

Sowerby has in it a rude stone pillar, called the Standing Stone,
near six feet high. It is conjectured that stones of this description
are of more ancient date than Druidism itself ; and were placed as
memorials recording different events ; it might have been an idol of
the heathen inhabitants of this land.

On a swampy common called Saltonstall-moor, in Warley, is
a fine large altar, called by the country people the Rocking
Stone, the height of which on the West side, is about three yards
and an half. It is a huge piece of rock, with rock basins cut upon
it, one end of which rests on several stones, between two of which
is a pebble of a different grit, seemingly put there for a support,
and so placed that it could not possibly be taken out without break-
ing, or removing the rocks ; these in all probability have been
laid together by art. The stone in question, from the form and
position of it, could never be a rocking stone, though it has always
been distinguished by that name : the true rocking stone lies at a short
distance from it, throAvn from it? centre. The other part of this



28 BRITISH ^RA.

stone is laid upon a kind of pedestal, broad at the bottom, but
narroM^ in the middle ; and round this pedestal is a passage, which
from every appearance, seems to have been formed by art, but
for what purpose is uncertain. Borlase, p. 166, has given an
account of something of this sort, called in Cornwall, and Scilly,
Tolmen, or hallowed, which signifies the hole of stone, formed by
a large orbicular stone, supported by two smaller, between which
there is a passage or aperture, conjecturing, that whoever passed
through these, acquired a kind of holiness, and became more ac-
ceptable to God ; also that the cavity might be a sanctuarj?^ for the
offender to fly to ; but chiefly that such were intended and used for
introducing proselytes, people under vows, or going to sacrifice,
into their more sublime mysteries.

At the distance of about half a mile from this huge rock are the
remains of a Came, formed of loose stones, which for centuries has
been called by the country people. Sleepy Low. Several broken
fragments of rock are strewed over the moor, these are rendered
more remarkable from the fact that the common is one vast morass.

On the right side of the road leading to the village of Luddenden
there was formerly the remains of an altar, called Robin Hood's
Penny Stone, who is said to have used this stone to pitch with at
a mark for amusement, and to have thrown the Standing Stone, in
Sowerby off an adjoining hill with his spade as he was digging !
Report says that it was surrounded with a circle, but a few years
ago this relic of antiquity was broken up for building purposes.

There are other presumptive proofs that the Druids inhabited this
parish, such as a considerable part of the township of Wadsworth
being formerly called Crimlishworth, now Crimsworth, from Crom-
lech, a sepulchral monument of that people, now destroyed. The
term Cromlech is said to be derived from the armoric word crum,
crooked or bowing, and leh, stone, alluding to the reverence which
persons paid to them by bowing. Tliat this was a woody part of the
country, is not improbable, as appears from the name of Wadsworth
or Woodsworth. It is said to have been an essential amongst the
Druids to worship in groves of oaks, and such this country was
once famous for, though at present few remain. Large tracts, which
now are waste, are proved by tradition, and by their names, to have
been coA-ercd over with trees, so that there was no want of the



BRITISH ^RA. 29

sacred misletoe. But the finest druidical remain in these parts, and
what incontestably proves that these people were actually settled
hereabout, is what is called the Rocking Stone, which is so situated
as to be a boundary mark, dividing the two townships of Golcar,
and Slaithwaite, in the Parish of Huddersfield, adjoining to the
Parish of Halifax, on Whole-stone moor ; which last circumstance
seems to confirm the conjecture before made, that the Druids once
worshipped in Barkisland. This stone is ten feet and an half long,
containing nearly six cubits, druidical measure ; nine feet, four or
five inches broad, containing nearly five cubits ; and five feet three
inches thick, answering to three cubits or thereabout. Its weight,
supposing seventy pounds to a square foot, is eighteen tons, and
one hundred and ninety povuids. It rests on so small a centre, that
at one particular point a man may cause it to rock, though some
years ago it was damaged a little, in this respect, by some masons,
who endeavored, but in vain, to throw it from its centre, in order
to discover the principle on which so large a weight was made to
move.

The tale that is told of Stonehenge, is also related by the people
hereabout, namely that no one has ever been able to count the stones
of which the circles here are composed so as to make the numbers of
two successive reckonings agree. Although a baker once essayed
to do it by placing a loaf on every stone, and afterwards counting
the loaves, yet on a second trial he always found the same number
of loaves either too many or too few.

In connection with the first period of society that existed in
these mountains Dr. Whitaker refers to "one discovery which
must" he says, "without hesitation or controversy, be assigned to
the aboriginal Britons. About the year 1779, a countryman in
digging peat on Mixenden-moor, struck his spade through a black
polished stone, resembling a hone or whetstone ; adjoining to this
was discovered the most beautiful and perfect brass celt I ever saw,
it had apparently never been used, the edge being very sharp and
uncorroded, from its whiteness the copper appeared to have been
alloyed with tin. These remains were accompanied by four arrow
heads of black flint, or basalt ; by another light battle axe, of a
beautiful green pebble, speckled with white ; and lastly by a hollow
gouge or scoop of hard grey stone, evidently intended for the ex-



30 BRITISH JERA.

cavation of canoes, or other wooden vessels. This last is an unique,
no implement for this purpose having ever been discovered before.
Altogether they seem to have formed the imperishable part of the
arms and implements of some British soldier, who by some other
means than in battle perished among these wastes, where all
remains of the body, together with the handles of the weapons, had
long since perished, -while the more ponderous and durable parts
sunk beneath the spongy surface, to be disclosed by a fortunate
accident at the distance perhaps of two thousand years."

Such are the memorials which still exist of the ancient British
inhabitants of this district, that there are others yet undiscovered is
by no means improbable. It is with diffidence, but without distrust,
that I assert, it is my firm belief, (and herein I am not singular,)
that a large portion of this district was inhabited by the primeval
inhabitants of our isle.

Indeed if we look at the present aspect of the Parish, its general
appearance, the sequestered valleys with which it abounds, and the
brooks and springs by which thej^ are fertilized, and compare it with
the description given by early historians, particularly by C^sar, of
the sites usually selected by the aboriginal Britons for their habita-
tions, there is much room for probable conjecture that such was the
case, supported as that conjecture is by the evidence of the memo-
rials before adverted to. But further than this. I know that
in a part of our moorlands, there is an ancient highway still in
existence, the original formation of which there is little reason to
doubt may be safely assigned to this ^ra, notwithstanding it
may have been subsequently converted by the Romans into a vicarial
way, for we are informed, that many of the roads supposed to be
Roman are really formed in the line of British Trackways. I have
inserted a description of the highway, to which I particularly allude,
in the next chapter, for a cause purely deferential. Time will shew
whether my hypothesis be correct.



THE ROMAN JEKA.



Notwithstanding the County of York from its central i^osltion
in Great Britain, was the favorite seat of the Romans, while under
their yoke, there is not the visible remains of a Roman Station,
within the bounds of this extensive Parish. Two military ways are
supposed to have gone through it, one leading from Manchester to
York, and the other from Manchester to Aldborough. The first of
these has been described by Mr, Whitaker, in his History of Man-
chester, p. 81-86, who traced its course until it came to the town-
ship of Stainland, very near which, at a place called Slack, are the
manifest traces of an ancient settlement, "which I had the honor"
says Watson "of being the first discoverer of, and of shewing to
the Rev. Mr. Whitaker aforesaid." The wild and barren nature of
this district unquestionably suggested to the Romans a motive for
prolonging the usual distance between their stations. Hence in an
interval of fifty miles, they had only one station noticed in the
Itinerary of Antoninus between Mancunium (Manchester) and Cal-
caria (Tadcaster.) This was Cambodunum.

That Watson, our own historian and antiquarian had the merit
of having discovered the real site of Cambodunum, is confirmed by
the testimony of that able antiquary, Dr. Whitaker, and the result
of Watson's enquiry was transmitted to the Society of Antiquaries
by whom the communication was printed in the first volume of their
Archaeologia.

" Excited probably by Camden's vague account of the celebrated
altar, DVI CIV BRIG having been found in Greetland, as well as
the report of roman bricks discovered at Grimscar, and upon a
very accurate research finding nothing ancient or curious in that
township, he extended his enquiries into Stainland, on the con-
fines of which, but actually within Longwood, in the Parish of



32 ROMAN /ERA.

Hudderstield, he found, I think beyond a doubt, the long lost
Cambodunum of Antonine. On this subject, however differing on
others, Mr. Whitaker and himself agreed ; nor indeed could it be
otherwise, for the distance from Manchester is exact, the line, near
that of the great military way, and the remains decisive of Roman
antiquity."

This testimony of Dr. Whitaker's is at once so decisive, that
I shall not trouble my reader with the proofs brought forward by
Watson in support of his argument.

That Cambodunum was not at Almondbury, is clear from more
reasons than those assigned by Watson. " Burgh and Borough are
of the same origin, and denote in general the same idea, viz ; that
of a fortified hill ; but in the North of England there is a distinction
between the two which has not been sufficiently attended to, namely
that Borough describes for the most part a Roman, and Burgh, a
Saxon fortification." I concur with Watson in opinion that Al-
mondbury is merely a Saxon fortification, but the following memorial
will prove that a prison at least upon the site of the old castle there
was kept up until the beginning of the fourteenth century. " Al-
mondbury, Huddersfield, Elmsley, &c. pres. quod quidam extraneus
occisus est in prisona quondam Castri de Almondbury habens corpus
quasi devoratum vermibus, avibus et canibus, et dicunt quod alibi
occisus est et ibidem postea positus et projectus." "An horrid
picture" observes the Doctor.

" High on the verge of the bleak moors which divide the Parishes
of Huddersfield, Halifax, and Rochdale, but screened by a higher
ridge to the West and South, is a sloping piece of ground, contain-
ing about twelve statute acres, and divided into several enclosures,
some of which bear the name of the eald (or old) fields. The South
side of this is formed by the deep and precipitous channel of Longwood
Brook, the West by another nameless streamlet, the East by one
still more inconsiderable but evidently deepened by art, and the
fourth by a trench still visible, though partly covered by bvxildings,
and partly effaced by the operations of husbandry." The inhabitants
there have a tradition, that on these fields there formerly was a great
town. Tliis tradition, Watson observes, is amply confirmed by
many appearances, and from carefully considering where the plough
is said to meet with obstructions, and where not, he thought that the



ROMAN JERA. ' 33

range of a street or two might be made out, there are not any
appearances of a Camp." Amongst these buildings Watson was
directed to the fine altar of Fortune (a vignette of which is presented
to the reader) which he afterwards gave to his friend and brother
antiquary, Mr. Whitaker ; the place where it was found, is near
the centre of the station, beside a perennial spring, and where
from many symptoms, there must have been a bath with an hypocaust,
near this are still remaining many mossy fragments of Roman mortar
mixed with pounded bricks, apparently parts of the floor of the bath.




Of this spot Mr. Whitaker observes very judiciously " the station
must have been placed in the neighbouring fields, immediately beyond
the channel of the Western streamlet. This is a proper site for a
Camp, a Ungula formed by the union of two brooks, and defended
by their deep channels on two sides." "With submission to Mr.
Whitaker's judgment," says Watson "I can see nothing to incline
me to think that there ever was a camp here, or that if there had,
the two insignificant currents of water above-mentioned could not
have been any defence to it." "But had he" observes Dr. Whitaker,
"directed a critical or even an attentive eye to the banks of these
currents, he could not have failed to perceive the remains of a deep
agger, and on the line of Longwood brook of two, where the North-
East angle is very conspicuous, and turned entirely in the Roman



D



34 ROMAN /ERA.

manner. Both our antiquaries omitted to observe a small circus
of earth on the common to the North-West, which is now nearly
desti-oyed by a Turnpike Road, and there is a similar one in the hill
above. Both these were by the people of the place denominated the
Camps : but they are evidently gymnasia, or places of exercise for
the Roman Soldiers. On the side of a lane below, leading towards
Barkisland Hall, I saw, obsen^es Dr. Whitaker, an entire barrow
heretofore unobserved. Such are the few visible remains of Cam-
bodunum, of which I regret, after diligent and thrice-repeated
searches, I can add no more to the discoveries of my predecessors.
The present obscurity of Cambodunum may be imputed to a cause,
the very reverse of that which has occasioned the destruction and
disappearance of so many stations, viz. that their sites were so well
chosen in fertile districts, and on the banks of considerable rivers,
that after their abandonment by that sagacious people, later settlers
could find no other ground so eligible for the foundation of their
Parish Churches, their towns and fortresses, in preparing for which
they first destroyed all that remained of Roman architecture, and
then worked up the materials in their own constructions. On the
contrary nothing can be more bleak and ungenial than the site of
Cambodunum, on a barren soil, and an high unsheltered eminence,
then wholly unenlivened by those cheerful hues of cultivation which
now clothe the country below, the natives of Italy and Gaul, con-
demned to garrison duty within its walls, must have thought them-
selves exiled to the extremity of the habitable globe. The truth
seems to be, that at the first distribution of stations in the North of
England, this site was chosen, and fortified merely as a place of rest
from Calcaria (Tadcaster) to Mancunium (Manchester), but as the
country became better cultivated, and more inhabited, this cold and
inconvenient settlement was abandoned, the stages on the line were
multiplied ; and Castleshaw, in Saddleworth, the small Roman camp
near Kirklees, the Roman town mentioned by Dr. Richardson, near
Kirkheaton ; and lastly, Wall flat, near Leeds, were planted on the
same line, for the better accommodation of the Roman troops on
their marches. Let not this be thought a chimerical hypothesis ;
the obscurity of the remains at Cambodunum, where they can never
have been destroyed by future colonists, and the strong fact that
the coin found here with the altar, was of Hadrian, while the altar



ROMAN MRA. 35

bore strong internal evidence (as Mr. Watson lias well shewn) that

it belonged to the same period, all point to the same conclusion.

And if we add to this, that no coins of a later date have ever been

found here, and that all the coins found at or near the other Roman

settlements above mentioned, are uniformly of the lower empire, my

hypothesis must be allowed to be highly probable, that Cambodunum

was abandoned at an early period of the Roman Empire in Britain."

"With respect to the dimensions of this encampment, it should

not have been confounded by Watson with those minor stations,

which from the centurial inscriptions usually discovered within

them, he very rightly judged to be adapted to a century only, as

they seldom exceed 100 or 120 yards square; whereas there is a

space of 240 paces within the ramparts of Cambodunum on one

direction, and of 200 to the other. Such an outline could not

have been defended by less than a cohort. But there was another

objection to Cambodunum, as a post in time of war; which was that

it could scarcely be defended from missile weapons at all, as it is

commanded on two sides by higher grounds immediately beyond

the brooks. On the whole, it was an untenable post, as well as an

uncomfortable lodging, and therefore early abandoned. In short,

though decidedly Roman, this site of an encampment is an anomaly

in Roman castrametation." I *"? 1 C *> /? I

bhould any antiquary have the curiosity to trace the Roman way
by Slack, it is necessary to caution him against a mistake " that it
becomes the boundary to the parishes of Halifax and Huddersfield,
and passes within two hundred yards from the station and the town."
The boundary between these two parishes, is in the public road,
called the Outlane, but the military way runs nearer to the station,
through the fields called the Bents, having there frequently been
turned up with the plough, and being composed of gravel.

Dependent upon the station of Cambodunum, appears to have
been the Roman work on Lee Hill, near Slack, which Mr. Watson
considers as Saxon. The work referred to, is a circular remain of an
ancient encampment, about eighty yards each way, measuring to
the outside of the agger, it commands a fair view of Castle HiU,
near Almondbury, as well as of the adjoining country. There is a
tradition of a battle having been fought here, which is borne out
by the appearance of tumuli scattered here and there upon the



D 2



36 ROMAN ^RA.

common. Upon these remains Dr. Whitaker remarks " the castra
cestiva of the Romans, which were generally on elevated points,
commanding like this very extensive views of the country around,
were frequently oval or circular, adapting themselves to the shape
of the hill on which they were placed. The long connecting trench
running over Linley Moor to Watch hill, which has evidently
been an artificial specular mount, has more the appearance of a
Roman than a Saxon Work."

We are informed by Camden, that at Grimscar have been dug up
bricks with the inscription, COH. IIII. BRE, which Horsley judges
to be " Cohors quarta Brittonum." Bricks with the same inscription
on them have also been found in the neighbourhood of Slack since
Camden's time. Mr. Watson is of opinion, that a detachment of
the fourth cohort must have been quartered at Slack, and that the
probability is, they went to Grimscar to make bricks, on account
of the clay.

The most valuable remains of the Roman times which this dis-
trict has presented is the votive altar, (of which the following is a
vignette,) dug up in Greetland, and referred to by Camden.




The following is the inscription thereon, DVI. CI BRIG. ET
NVM. GG. T. AVR. AVRELIANVS DD. PRO SE ET SVIS
S. M. A. G. S. On the reverse. ANTONIO III ET GETA COSS



ROMAN ^RA. 37

The altar appears to have been dedicated .by Titus Aurelius Aure-
lionis, to the God of the state of the Brigantes and to the Deities
of the Emperors, on behalf of himself and his followers, in grateful
remembrance of the success of their undertaking. The reverse shews
the time when the altar was set up, that is, when Antonius was
consul the third time with Geta. And the altar of Fortune before
referred to, (p. 33) discovered by our antiquary, Mr. Watson ; the
reading on this altar is said to be " Fortunse sacrum. Gains
Antonius Modestus Centurio legionis sextse victricis posuit et votum
solvit lubens merito." From which it appears to have been erected
by Caius Antonius Modestus, centurion of the sixth legion, in dis-
charge of a vow. It was discovered in 1736, among the ruins of a
building manifestly composed of Roman bricks, many of which are
yet to be seen in the common fence walls there.

Roman coins either in single pieces or hoards, have at various
times been discovered in different parts of the Parish. In August,
1769, a quantity of coins of the small size were found in Elland.
Wood, in a cavity of a rock under a stone. A considerable number
were also discovered at one time, at a place called Beestones, in
Stainland, about two miles from Slack ; also some in Sowerby and
Warley, also two or three at High Greenwood, in Heptonstall.
These, it must be observed, cannot be received as evidence of the
permanent residence of the Romans, on any particular site. Single
pieces may be dropped any where, and as the intention with which
hoards of money were sometimes buried, was, that protection might
be gained by concealment, they might be deposited at a distance
from the owner's residence.



Online LibraryEng. (Lancashire). Parish BuryThe registers of the parish church of Bury in the County of Lancasrter. Christenings, burials, & weddings (Volume 2) → online text (page 4 of 52)