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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The fragment of a Roman lattice, made of iron, was found at a
place called Hall Body, in the Eald Field, at Cambodunum, among
a large quantity of Roman tiles and bricks, which apparently were
the remains of a building.

I have embodied within this chapter the most interesting
portion of what has been written by former historians respecting
the remains of the Roman JEra within the Parish, or rather bor-
dering upon it.

In the preceding chapter I referred to an ancient trackway,
which had not been previously noticed by them. It is a singular
fact that it should have escaped the attention of Watson, because



38 ROMAN JEHA.

in his time much of what is now destroyed, by the operations of
husbandry and other causes, might then be distinctly traced.

Accompanied by a few friends on a fine morning at the com-
mencement of the last spring, and bending our course to Ovenden
Common, whereby previous appointment we found our guide, (an
old man upwards of eighty years of age, who had, he said "known
the -way from his childhood, as also his father before him.") We
proceeded to a place called Cockle, or Cock Hill, in Ogden, an
elevated spot on Ovenden Common, where are distinctly visible the
remains of an ancient trackway ; on examination, the material, of
which it appeared to have been constructed were stones varying in
size from a diameter of five inches to sixteen inches, the interstices
between which had been filled up with a kind of mortar so tenacious
even at the present day, that it was with difficulty the stones could
be severed ; many of them, which from time to time had been turned
up, were used in building the adjoining walls. The way here is
elevated and about the average breadth of fourteen feet ; from this
spot it takes a direction due West, to a place a little below, called
the Peat Holes, a marshy spot where the way may be distinguished
by its firmness ; proceeding in the same direction over the common,
it crosses an highway leading to a farm-house, and passes through
two fields, at the bottom of one of which the waters of Skirden and
Ogden meet ; from this spot may be discerned at the distance of
about two hundred yards to the right, two mounds, which twa
of our party were induced to inspect ; the one resembled a cone, the
other was still larger, and there was a smaller one on each side, the
whole ])resented an artificial appearance, but time would not permit a
fuller examination of them. From Skirden Clough, the way i)ro-
ceeded through some cultivated land, where the operations of hus-
bandry had nearly eff^aced it, indeed the plough was then in full
operation, the men at work informed us that they had sometimes
met with obstructions from stones and stuflr, which had been thrown
in a heap. Passing through these lands we came to a place called
Mixenden Ings, where our guide informed us. Farmer Tattersall
had dug the road up, and formed with the stones a causeway to
Brookhouse. Crossing a small brook, and ascending a moor called
the Carrs, we reached the evident remains of a Camp, which if
any reliance is to be placed on the authority of those versed in



ROMAN iERA. 39

antiquarian lore, was in all probability formed by the Romans ;
the remains in question form a considerable circle, covered Avith
heath and ling, and are surrounded by a ditch or agger, this is nearly
filled up, but still distinctly marked : there is also a rampart or
vallum composed of the earth dug out of the agger, the remain is
divided into two parts by a way, which the Romans called the Prin-
cipia, one of these divisions is considerably larger than the other.
From this spot the way passes through Hunter Hill Lands, thence
into Barrett's Lands, where, entering the township of Warley, at a
place called Noah's Ark, in Coldedge, it is intersected by the
high road from Halifax to Haworth, and along which road we
proceeded homewards, anticipating the pleasure of a closer examina-
tion of these remains at a future period, which I regret to say has
not yet occurred.

Generally speaking, in some places the way cannot be traced
without difficulty, the vestiges being extremely faint and obscure ;
in others it continues firm and distinct, though covered with earth
and grass, its height does not present that fine bold rampart which
generally characterises the Roman Itinera in this country, though
its breadth is in some places considerable ; with respect to these re-
mains it may be observed that the Romans never passed a night even
in the longest marches without pitching a camp, and fortifying it with
a rampart and a ditch ; if they staid but one night in the same camp,
or even two or three nights, it was called castra ; if for a consider-
able time it was called castra stativa, a standing camp ; (estiva, a
summer camp, and hiberna a winter camp. This in all probability
was only a castra.

I cannot pretend to give an opinion as to what iter or vicinal
way, (if such it be) the road in question, may form a part. I must
leave that to others better versed in antiquarian research. If I
might venture on a conjecture, I should say, that it might be a
portion of the way mentioned by Mr. Whitaker, as issuing from
the Roman road, which may be traced in a broken causeway over
the wild moors of Heptonstall pointing towards Ilkley ; or it may
be a part of the Roman line of road leading from Ilkley to Cambo-
dunum, "so conspicuous on the high grounds between Keighley
and Halifax." Or, if these conjectures fail, I may perhaps be per-
mitted to indulge in the harmless s])eculation, that it may be the



40 ROMAN .ERA.

remains of an ancient British Trackway, passing on from the place
where we left it, over Saltonstall Moor, along the high grounds
of Warley and Wadsworth, by Old Town to Crimsworth, and
thence into Stansfield. I say passing in this direction, because
these places have been assigned as stations occupied by the aboriginal
Britons, (Ogden, or rather Oakden, the valley of Oaks, where the
halig, or holy brook is formed by the junction of the waters before
alluded to, being doubtless inhabited by the ancient Britons or their
Druids.) My readers will bear in mind the important fact that the
celts and arrow heads, referred to in the preceding chapter, were
found in the district through which the way passes, and this cir-
cumstance, it is submitted, has a tendency to confirm the plausibility
of my speculation. I fear, however, after all that can be said, the
matter must be left involved in that glorious antiquarian uncertainty
in which it was found. Happy shall I be if the account here given
be an incentive to others to follow up an enquiry, (which if pro-
vidence permit I intend to pursue,) and from Avhich I can confidently
assure them they will derive much gratification.



THE SAXON iERA.

The commencement of the fifth century introduces us to a new
Mva.. At a time when the ferocious hordes of Picts and Scots were
harrassing the island wherever they could penetrate, the Anglo
Saxon invasion of England occurred. This invasion, says Mr.
TuKNER, in his History of the Anglo Saxons, " must not be con-
templated as a barbarisation of the country. They brought with
them a superior, domestic, and moral character, and the rudiments
of new political, juridical, and intellectual blessings. An interval
of slaughter and desolation unavoidably occurred, before they estab-
lished themselves and their new systems in the island. But when
they had completed their conquest, they laid the foundation of that
national constitution, of that internal polity, of those peculiar cus-
toms, of that female modesty, and of that vigour and direction of
mind, to which Great Britain owes the social progress which it has
so eminently acquired. Some parts of the civilization, which they
found in the island, assisted to produce this great result. Their
desolations removed much of the moral degeneracy which at that
time prevailed." For an historical, impartial, and interesting ac-
count of the Anglo Saxons, the reader is referred to Mr. Turner's
work before alluded to. At the period of their establishment in this
countjy, Britain was unhappily divided into numerous petty sove-
reignties. " Fallen into a number of petty states, in actual warfare
with each other, or separated by jealousy, Britain met the successive
invaders with a local not with a national force ; rarely with any
combination. The selfish policy of its chiefs, often viewing with
satisfaction the misfortunes of each other, facilitated the successes
of the Saxon aggressors."

Into their general history I have not the inclination (were it
indeed within my province) to enter : and with regard to their con-



42 SAXON JERA.

tests, my readers must, in this instance, rest satisfied on the
authority of Milton, that they " are no more entitled to remem-
brance or recital, than the battles of crows and hawks in a summer's
day."

Neglected and abandoned as were the Roman remains in this
district, by the Saxons, they certainly colonized the more fertile
parts of the Parish of Halifax, for the villare is generally Saxon ;
there are also several earth-Avorks, which can scarcely be ascribed to
any other people. Evident traces of these entrenchments and for-
tifications are still visible, none of them how^ever are of any great
extent; "a poor and barren district, at the very extremity of
cultivation in the island, never afforded a residence to any of the
great chiefs of the heptarchy, or a scene for any great action likely
to be marked by permanent remains," but these remains on the
contrary can only have been relics of domestic precaution or of petty
discord, where the savage chief of one hamlet dreaded or attacked
that of the next. Conygarth will scarcely be considered an exception
to this remark.

A few of the most noted places which are supposed to be remains
of the Saxon vEra are here pointed out.

On Greenhalgh, a hUl above Hoohoile, in Erringden, is a cir-
cular remain, which Watson, from its name and appearance, judged
to have been Saxon, the diameter of which is about sixteen yards ;
it has been walled round, and seems to have been a fort ; the place
is called Tower Hill. There are the appearances of two breastAvorks,
the fir&t of which is about twenty-five yards from the remains,
towards the South, East, and North sides thereof, of a circular form,
the centre of which faces the east. The other is at a greater dis-
tance, running along the South verge of the hill, which is very
steep. It is remarkable that no breastworks appear to the West,
where the ground is level, but no danger might be apprehended from
that quarter. It is conjectured to have been raised for the purpose
of opposing some irruption from the side of Sowerby, wherein, on
an opposite hUl was another fort, at a place near Hollinhey, called
Conygarth, the site of which is still to be seen, but so situated, a^
plainly to be intended for a short use.

Near Ripponden, in the township of Barkisland, is a remarkable
high hill, called the Convgarth, from the Anglo-Saxon, Cyni^, •<



SAXON ^RA. 43

king;, and the British Garth, a mountain ; as if some crowned head
had encamped here with his forces, in the Saxon times. We have
indeed no tradition or annals to shew this, but many facts of this
sort are buried in oblivion, and others only to be discovered from a
number of concurring circumstances. This hill is well situated for
a thing of this sort, both on account of its being sufficiently spacious,
having a good command of the country, and being on several parts
of it very difficult of access.

In the depth of Rawtonstall Wood, within the township of
Stansfield, is a deep moat, which appears to have surrounded an old
manor house ; and on the pointed and rocky summit of the hill
above, tradition forty years ago, preserved the memory of a castle.
On the side of this hill, towards the South, there has been a very
large shoot of earth, which destroys the regularity of it ; part of this
earth was, in 1768, cut through to make a turnpike road. This
breach shews that the whole hill was natural, as a large rock appears
very near the summit of it. At the foot of the hill is a house called
the castle, which in all probability takes its name from the hill.
Whether the place was formed by our Saxon ancestors is altogether
matter of conjecture, nothing antique having ever been found near it.
It may have been used for the purposes of war by the inhabitants
of Yorkshire, to stop the incursions of the Lancastrians ; nothing
could be better situated for that purpose, as it is within a mile of
the borders, and stands in a pass between two very high ranges of
hills ; but no tradition of this kind remains. The valley below it
has the name of the Castle-nase-bottom.

At Rastrick, in this Parish, was lately a mound called Castle-
hill, which Dr. Johnson, who surveyed this neighbourhood in 1669,
said was trenched about, and hollow in the middle, as if many
stones had been got out of it. Tlie circumference of it he measured
to a huncked and eighty-eight yards within the trench, and on the
top a hundred and seventeen, which shews the form of it. It has
lately been destroyed, for the sake of the stone it contained, and it
appeared upon examination that the top of it, for a few yards per-
pendicular, was cast-up earth, the rest a natural hill, the whole
being left hollow at the top, seemingly with design. If this was
a work of the Saxons, its name may come from Repr, a bed, or
sleeping, and iu3e, the ridge of a hill, meaning the hill where



44 SAXON JEUA.

travellers or others used to lodge ; and such a situation as this was
very necessary in troublesome times, either for the neighbourhood to
retire to upon alarms, or for way-faring men to make their nightly
habitation ; for being hollow at the top, it formed a kind of breast-
work to protect the men in case of an assault ; there was also a
considerable ascent to it on every side, and there was no rising ground
about it, from whence it could be annoyed. It must be OAvned that
the words come very near to Rastrick. Several of the northern
nations use rast for rest, in particular the Swedes and Germans.
Raste also has the same meaning in the Belgic, or Low Dutch.

Works of this kind, I know, are generally attributed to the
Danes, who, being few in number, in comparison of the Saxons,
used this kind of fortification, to the end that, when alarms were
given, they might repair thither, and remain in safety, until they
could assemble themselves in greater strength. Now, if this was a
Danish settlement, probably its name may be Danish too. It is
certain, that all circular forts raised by this people, were called by
the Irish, Raths, as they were also by the ancient Cornish men,
and perhajjs other inhabitants of this island, from the word Radt,
which in the Celtic, signified a wheel, and by adding to this the
Danish word Ryg, the ridge of an hill, such as this mount stood upon,
we have Rath's-Ryg, which would easily be softened into Rastrick.

Watson conjectures that the Danes spread themselves all over
this neighbourhood, and is supported in his hypothesis by the fact
of an urn having been found, with two others, at the gates at the
bottom of the walk near Shaw Hill, leading to a house in Skircoat,
called Heath. They lay in a line, one yard deep, and one yard
asunder, with their mouths downwards. This urn contained calcined
bones, and dust; the two others were broken in pieces. It was
eight inches deep, stood upon a bottom of four inches diameter,
and where there was no moulding, measured from twenty-one inches,
or thereabouts, to twenty-three inches in circumference.

It appeared to that Gentleman, from a passage in the Saxon
Chronicle, that the Danes under Cnute, (or Canute,) their king,
made a grand march by the borders of this Parish. It is stated that
this Cnute went against Uhtred, the Earl of Northumberland,
through Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Huntingtonshire, Lincoln-
shire, Nottinghamshire, and towards York ; and the said Uhtred



SAXON ^RA. 45

being slain, " deinde regressus est austrum versus, alia via per
plagam occidentalem. adeo ut venirit totus exercitus ante pascha
ad naves ;" he returned to the south by the western coast, a different
way from what he had gone before. But what way so likely as this
which the Romans had made between Manchester and York ? It
might be then in good repair, and if the king chose to march by the
western coast, was the next and best way. This was in the year 1017.
There is a circumstance which confirms the opinion that this Danish
king did actually march along this road, for several places on the
line of it do still retain his name, such as Knot-lane in Saddleworth,
and by the side of this. Knot-hill, which is a remarkable round-
topped hill, from the top of which this king is said to have harangued
his army. Also Knot- Mill near the Castlefield, by Manchester, where
possibly the Danes might halt for some time ; and lastly. Knots-ford,
called by Camden Canuti vadum. The road which branches off from
this great military way, at Slack above-mentioned, and which has
the name of the Danes-road, might have been used by part of this
army, and have thence acquired its name ; for having no enemy to
fear in these parts, it might be more convenient for the army to take
two different routes from thence to Manchester ; if they did, that
division which fell in with the road between Ilkley and Manchester,
might possibly march to the place of rendezvous, along the street
called the Danes-gate, if indeed that name did not come from the
Deans of Manchester, as the head clergy there were formerly called.

That the parish was in some places desolated by the Saxons, and
made the arena of their contests, the memorials here exhibited suf-
ficiently shew, but to what extent we have no account. In what
further relates to their connexion with this Parish I have nothing to
add. No coin or other interesting memorial of their presence, has
ever been turned up within its precincts.

In this part of our subject we are walking over the country of the
departed, whose memory has not been perpetuated by the com-
memorating heralds of their day. A barbarous age is unfriendly to
human fame. When the clods of his hillock are scattered, or his
funereal stones are thrown down, the glory of a savage perishes
for ever. In after ages, fancy labors to supply the loss ; but her
incongruities are visible, and gain no lasting belief. But I cannot take
my leave of this obscure and barbarous sera, without looking back



46 SAXON ^RA.

upon it, and comparing in imagination, the then prospects of the
Country with its present flourishing condition, though it is not
easy for a mind familiarized to its present state to conceive of the
other even in fancy. But would my reader carry himself nine or ten
centuries hack, and ranging the high ground of Skircoat, or taking
his position at King-Cross, survey the vale of Calder ; instead of the
populous village, the well-built residence, the modern villa, the
comfortable cottage, the elegant mansion, the artificial plantation,
the enclosed park and pleasure-ground, instead of uninterrupted
enclosures, which have driven sterility almost to the summit of the
distant hills, how great must have been the contrast, when at a
distance, or immediately beneath, his eye must have caught vast
tracts of forest ground, stagnating with bog or darkened by native
woods, where the wild ox, the roe, the stag, and the wolf had
scarcely learned the supremacy of man ; when, directing his view
to the intermediate spaces, to the windings of the valley, or the
expanse of plain below, he could only have distinguished a few in-
sulated patches of culture, each encircling a village of wretched
cabins, among which would still be remarked one rude mansion of
wood, (scarcely equal in comfort to a modern cottage) rising proudly
eminent above the rest, where the Saxon Lord, surrounded by his
faithful coterii, enjoyed a rude and solitary independence, owning
no superior but his sovereign. This was undoubtedly a state of
simplicity, such as the admirers of uncultivated nature may affect
to applaud ; yet no good man can lament the subversion of Saxon
polity, for that which followed.



THE NORMAN ^RA



The earliest period of written and authentic information relative
to this Parish commences with Domesday*, the most ancient record
that exists in the Archives of the United Kingdom. We there find
the foUoMdng members of the Parish thus described as Berewicks of
the Manor of Wakefield, to which they still belong.

Terra Regis in Eurewickscire. In Wachefeld cu' ix Ber'. San-
dala, Sorebi, Werla, Feslei, Miclei, Wadesuurde, Crumbetonsetun,
Lanfeld, Stanesfelt. Sunr ad g'^ld LX Car rre 7 iii bovat 7 rercia
pars uni' bovat. Hanc r'ram poss. arare xxx Caruce. Hoc maner'
fuir regis Edw. in Dnio. modo in manu regis. Sunr ibi iiii vill. 7
iii Pb"ri 7 ii Eccli"se 7 vii Soch"i 7 xvi bord. Simul hr vii Car. Silva
pascua 7 c. From this it will be seen that the number of Carucates
in each Berewick is not particularized.

In the Terra Ilberti de Lacy, Elland and Overe (North and South
Owram) were thus surveyed ;

M". In Elanr hb" Gam el. iii Car. rre 7 dim ad g"ld ubi ii Caruce
poss. e e. Ilberr'. hr. nc' 7 wasr e. T. R. E. val xx sol. Silva
paST. dim leug. Ig 7 iiii q^ 2 lar 7 iiii acr. pri.

In Overe h'^'b Gamel iii Car. car rre ad g^ld ubi iii Car. poss. e'e'.
IlberT" hr 7 wasr e, T. R. E. val xx sol. Silva pasr. iii q^ 2
lg~ 7 iii lar.

" In the foundation of the Parish of Halifax (obsers^es Dr.
Whitaker) it ai:)pears that the two great houses of Warren and

* DOMESDAY BOOK is in this day in such high credit, that if a question arise, whether
a Manor, Parish or Lands be ancient demesne, the issue must be tried by it. Its authority
in point of tenure hath never been permitted to be called in question: when it has been
necessary to distinguish whether lands were held in ancient demesne, or in what other
manner, recourse hath always been had to Domesday Book and to that only, to determine
the doubt. If lands were down under the name of a private lord or subject, then it was
determined to have been, at the time of the survej-, the land of such private person, and not
ancient demesne. The exact time when the Conqueror undertook this survey is differently







48 NORMAN ^RA.

Lacy concurred. The former permitted eight of the berewicks
specified above to be detached from the parish of Dewsbury, and
the latter, from the vicinity of their situation to the new church,
permitted North and South Owram, in which are to be included
Shelf, Hipperholme, &c. and EUand to be separated from Morley,
the only Saxon church in the hundred beside Dewsbury. It is
remarkable that these portions of the Lacy fee are described as waste,
whereas all the townships in the terra regis were in a state of cul-
tivation. Was it that the conqueror in his dreadful devastation of
Yorkshire, spared his own demesnes } Scarcely so ; for almost all
the townships within the soke of Wakefield, as distinct from its
berewicks, are stated to have been depopulated. The probability
therefore is, that these remote townships lying at the very extremity
of population, had escaped those ravages with which first the Danes
and afterwards the Conqueror had visited the more open and fruitful
parts of Yorkshire."

Of the places described by Domesday in this district, corrupted
as many of them are, there can be little doubt with the exception
of Feslei, which is meant for Fesebie, Fekisbe, or the modern Fixby,
and Crumbetonsetun, which has been supposed to be Cross Stone ;
but this is not only no hamlet within Stansfield, but never was
included within it, I deem it therefore much more probable, that it
is meant for the valley, bounding on one side the township of Hep-
tonstall, now called Crimsworthden or Crimsworth (especially as
Heptonstall itself is not mentioned in Domesday) for Watson avrs
mistaken in supposing that ])lace to be meant for Hepton, which is
in the Wapontake of Agbrigg.

We have, however only ten townships in the Parish of Halifax,
which by subdivisions have gradually increased to twenty-three. Of
these Erringden, having been first a chace and afterwards a park,
formed no part. The sub-divisions of Overe have already been

stated; according to some, 1083, 17 Will. I. According to the Saxon Chronicle, 1085, but
the Red Book of the Exchequer states its commencement to be the 14th William 1st, lOSti,
and its completion in 1086. The pound mentioned in Domesday Book (says Sir Robert
Atkins) for reserved rent was the weight of a pound in silver, consisting of 12oz. which is



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 5 of 52)