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Ariconensia, or, Archaeological sketches of Ross and Archenfield : illustrative of the campaigns of Caractacus, the station Ariconium, &c, with other matters never before published online

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Online LibraryThomas Dudley FosbrokeAriconensia, or, Archaeological sketches of Ross and Archenfield : illustrative of the campaigns of Caractacus, the station Ariconium, &c, with other matters never before published → online text (page 3 of 11)
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(Richborough Castle, being still the appellation of
that Roman station in Kent,) or perhaps of Eccles-
wall Castle precincts.

The farmers are said to have thrown into the fields
numerous lanes ; one road is thought to have had a di-
rect communication with Framilode Passage : and the
Castle Tump at Dymock, seems to have been only a
Specula or observatory tumulus, common on the
sides of Roman roads ; for it is situated at the corner
of four roads, one of which, the northern, was appa-
rently part of the road from this station to Upton, the
supposed Ypocessa of Ravennas, which joined the
Ikenild street at Tewkesbury, To make this investi-
gation complete it would be necessary to examine all
the old lanes, and note down the strait pieces of them
with their respective lengths, (for stations were in
general remarkable for the straitness of all the roads


and bye lanes about them ;*) but it is a work of
fedious tiaTelling, which it is not in the power of the
author to execute.

The second test of this being a station is the na-
ture of the ground. It consists of gentle knolls,
surrounded by heights in the distance. Caerwent
and other stations are of similar character.

The third proof is the Camp on Penyard. The
Romans had a summer and winter station near each
other.t The station Venones, near Bittesby in Not-
tinghamshire afterwards called Cleycester was nearly
a mile from the Camp.§ But whether this camp on
the Chace or Penyard was the Estiva Castra of the
station, in subsequent seras, or not, it was probably,
(as the Romans did not go into action, without first
throwing up a camp,||) the, spot from whence they
went to found Aricon, and the fortification from which
they protected it ; there being at Walford, a Cas-
tellum or advanced post implying permanent occupa-
tion to preserve the communication, and command a
view of all the adjacent heights on the south.

* See before, p. 25.
f Hufchinson's Durham, ii. 399, note.
§ Thoroton's Nottinghamshire in Hichlin.
Hyginus de Casfr. Romanor. p. 115.


The fourth proof is the denomination Bury Hill.
This name often corrupted into Brill was that given
lo the fortification made by Edward the elder at Tow-
cester.* It was a common term of the Anglo-Saxons;
and beyond the camp at Symonds Yat, on the road
from hence towards Stanton, where runs a Roman
way, is another Bury Hill ; and places without number
are so called in various parts of the Empire.

The fifth evidence is the word Archenjield, In
the Saxon Chroniclef it is called Yrcinga-feld.
Geoff'rey of Monmouth mentions " a nation, called
Herglng upon the River Wye,"§ alluding plainly to
the petty British Kingdom of Erching, mentioned
hereafter; which Somner defines by Herinaceorum
Mons, or hill of Hedge-hogs.|| In Doomsday book
it is called Arcenefelde; and Bishop Gibson, who is
copied verbatim by Lye^ defines it by Aricon-field :
the latter term, not being limited by the Anglo-
Saxons to its modern meaning, but also denoting a
vast mountainous place. 4-

* Stukeley'B Itiner. i. p. 41. f p. 105.

§ " In natione Herging super flurium Guaiae" as quo-
ted in Abp. Usher's Eccles. Antiq. p. 34,

II Chron. Sax. Nom. Loc. Explic, p. 33. Lei. Collect.
IT. 141.

^ V. Yrcinga-feld. Chron. Sai. ub. supr.

4- Lye r. Felda.


The sixth attestation is the enormous quantity of
coins discovered on the spot. The Saxon Chronicle
says, •' In this year [418] the Romans collected all
the treasures of Gold, which they had in Britain,
and part they concealed in the ground, that no man
might afterwards find them, and part they canied
with them into Gaul."* From this passage the fol-
lowing inference has been deduced. " We are to
expect coins at such places as were of great note in
the year 418, when the Romans on leaving the island
hid their treasure : and the greater the towns were
the treasure is so much the larger ; and consequently
more coins are discovered in or about such towns as
were of more considerable note. I"

The seventh attestation is the great number of
lanes and roads on or just around the spot. These
were not only for the necessary purposes of commu-
nication, like streets, but, that the garrison might
not be exposed to danger. On the west side of the
town of Ancaster was a road, for the convenience of
those, who travelled when the Gates were shut.g
It has been already said, that the farmers have
thrown numerous lanes into the fields.

* Chron. Sax. p. 10.

t Bibl. Topogr. Brit. t. iv. p. p. 132. 133. !«.

§ Stukeley's Itin. i. 86.


The eighth proof is the situalion of Bromesash
which gave name to the Hundred, in or close to the
station: for Hundred Courts were to be held, on
account of security, in fortified places.*

Lastly, the Traditions on the spot affirm that the
ancient city was very considerable, and extended at
least over the whole space between Bollatree and
Bromesash. The old inhabitants call it Rose Town;
and the extent was upwards of twenty acres of land.
The site bore precisely the appearance of Kenchester.
It consisted of confused heaps of rubbish, with here
and there walls, and was coveied with bushes from
which hedgewood was cut. Mr. Merrick, a pro-
prietor, not many years ago, first cleared the land of
the stones. Remains of statues, heads, arms, &c.
were found ; and such a quantity of pieces of bronze
and coins, as when sold amounted to fifteen pounds.
Such was the ignorance of the times, that the money
wascalled Fairy-coins. Those exhibited to theauthor
were of the later Emperors. It has been said, that
a large bronze head with ram's horns was found.
That the town was a Roman Birmingham, cannot be
doubted, from the cinders of ore, which now remain:
and the head of a battering ram might have been
there cast. Upon digging the foundation of houses

* Spelraamii Arcluvologus, p, 3C6.


are still found ; but the author could not hear from
the traditions, preserved by the oldest inhabitants,
that any other part of a building was ever found,
than that of a vault with steps, discovered accidentally
by some children. The site is forgotten, except that
it was in a field, east of the Wynthfurlong', between
the station and Bromesasb. Fragments of Urns, Vases,
Pins, Fibulse, and other denotations of residence
have been found; but no tesselated pavement, possi-
bly because the part exploied has been merely the
site of the manufactory. For by the dip of the ground
at the Cindiies, it was probably situated at the lower
or Proetorian end of the station, where was the vete-
rinarium or workshops of arms, Sec. and if so, the
ground above is the most likely spot for grand
remains, because near the Ptcetorium. From the pre-
ceding statements, it may be inferred that in the
Roman and British ffira Ar'icon ov Ariconimn was the
metropolis of a particular district, afterwards a
British Kingdom called from its name, Ariconfield, or
Archenfield :* that it was occupied bythe Romans, as
a very convenient stage, between Glevum (Gloucester)

* We shall see hereafter from the account of Dubrieius
that originally Archenfield was a petty British Kingdom,
extending from the western edge of the Forest of Dean,
as far at least as Madley and Moccas one way.


andMagna,(Kenchester.) As also the vicinityabounded
in wood, it appears, from the vast quantity of Scoriae
still remaining, that they established Iron-works on
the spot, as they did in the adjacent Forest of Dean,
in order to assart the land, and thus render the coun-
try more productive and profitable, as well as safer
in a military view. — As to the Britons, those who
inhabited cities were chiefly men engaged in com-
merce, and their gieat Market day was Wednesday,
from its dedication to Mercury the God of Trade.*
The chief of these were no doubt Iron-workers; for
Smithery was the staple trade of the whole adjacent
country, for many ages after the Roman evacuation
of Britain;

After this period, the year 410, Britain was gov-
erned by petty tyrants, of whom there were not less
than thirty, so many being the number of indepen-
dent states, and in each there was a Bishop. Tlie
people in general were in two divisions, the free and
the servile ; and the Magistrates were Decurions,
a sort of Aldermen, and other subordinate officers.f

Thus there was a constitution, both religious and
civil, and we have evidences of the existence of both
in this country.

* M. Paris, p. 994. f Turner's Anglo-Saxons, 1, 135-6.


The prefix of Llan to the name of a place, as much
denotes a church or religious house among the Brit-
ons, as the mention of a Priest in Doomsday does
in the Anglo-Saxon sera. There are near Ross, Llan-
garran, Llanwarn, Llanfrother, Llandinabo, &c. all
upon the western side of the Wye, and three of them;
Llanwarn, Llanfrother and Llandinabo, are near
Hentland, fouriniles onlyfromRoss, where was a large
College of rehgious men, like the famous Monastery
of Bangor. On the eastern side of the River the
names of the places are chiefly Anglo-Saxon. In the
vicinity is also a parish, called Saint Weonards, This
holy man was a Hermit, for in the painted glass in
the north window is or was S. Wenardus Heremita
under the figure of an old man, holding a book in
one hand and an axe in the other,* possibly because
he was decapitated by the Anglo-Saxons.f The
British Churches, were built on or near Druidical
places of worship, and they were also dwelling places;
but they were not stone-buildings, which were deem-
ed almost miraculous. They were in the form however
of old houses : the fronts always to the S. east, hav-

* Cough's Camden in Herefordshire.

t The author is nuable to refer to Capgrave, for ans:-'
legend of him.



ing great windows opening that way.* At tlie time
of Aureliiis Anibiosius, i. e. the fifth century, the
slate of this country in a religious view, is detailei}
as follows, in literal translation: " A certain petty
King of the country of Ertic or Ercych,f called
Pepiau, but in the British language, surnamed
Clavorauc, which in Latin is interpreted Reumaticus,
or Spumosus, having gone against his enemies upon
an expedition, and retvuned to his own territory with
a trophy, ordered his daughter, by name Eurdil to
wash his head, on account of his fatigue in the
battle. When she attempted to execute his command,
the father perceived by her size§ that she was preg-
nant. On this account, the King excessively angry,
ordered her to be enclosed in a hide, and thrown into
the )iver, in order that wheresoever fortune m%ht
take her, she might be sunk in the deep of the river.
Which thing, because it by no means pleased God,
he was unable to effect. For, before the offspring
■which she had in her womb could be born, the Lord

* Rowland's, Moca Antiqua. 158. 221. Script, post. Bed.
155. a.

t The erroaeous versions of Wharton are well known,
lu the Chronicles of Warwick quoted by Archbishop
Usher Eccles. Antiq. p. 238 Ed. fol. it is" Regem jEjcJyni/.
Pepiau nomine;" thus decisively proving the spot to be
ytrc/jeii-field; the Hergyng of GeohVey of Bloumouth
before quoted : The Yrcynga-feld of the Sa;son Chronicle,
and Arcene-felde of Doomsday. § Gravitate.

. 41

thought worthy by showing his mercy and protection,
to exhibit of what merit it was about to be : since
the mother could by no means be sunk in the water.
For, as often as she was placed in the river, so many
times she was carried again uninjured to the bank.
Hence the indignant father, because he was unable
to immerge her in the waves, ordered her to be burn-
ed with fire ; at whose order a pile is immediately
prepared for her destruction, and the terror of other
girls ; into which the daughter of the aforesaid
King, Eurdil, is put in burning flames. But on the
morrow morning, whilst she was thought to hare
been completely burnt in the fire, messengers having
been sent by the father to enquire if any of her bones
remained unburnt, they found her safe, and holding
the son, whom she had brought forth in the midst
of the fire, in her bosom, her clothes and hair being
uninjured by the fire. For a very great stone was
placed near the spot where she brought forth her son,
in token of the birth of the boy. But the place, in
which the boy was born was called in the British
Tongue, Maismail Lochou by some, Matle by
others, because the blessed little man* was born
there : which place by the corruption of the English

* Homuncio, rascal, scrubby fellow in the classical,
interpretation, but this could not possibly be the mean-
iug^of the Monkish author,



idioms is named Medeley. [Madley near Hereford]
But the boy, as soon as he obtained the laver of
ieg;eii€ ration is called Dnbricius, and is immediately
filled with the Holy Ghost : but who was his father
remains unknown to the men of this time : and, there-
fore, some mistaken people fabulously pretend, that
he had no faiher."

Through the utter impossibility of making any
impression upon the barbarians of that age, by com-
mon sense or reason, it was customary, upon the
same principle as that of Columbus, when he
affrighted the Indians by making a miracle of an
Eclipse, to invent prodigies, which were executed
by disguised human agency; and it was a common
stratagem among the Greek and Roman Generals
and Priests, the Crusaders, Jesuits and others.*
Thus the unfortunate Princess was saved from drown-
ing by an inflated hide, and from the fire by creep-
ing under a stone or rock, placed there on purpose.

To proceed: " When, therefore, the father of the
aforesaid girl had heard from his officers what things
the Lord had done towards her and her son, moreover
the wonderful beauty and elegance of the tiny boy.

* See Mills's History of the Crusades, i. 208, seq.
Wadf3worth's English Spanish Pilgrim, p. K. 4to. 1680-
ct alios.


and the grace of Goil very conspicious in him, Tery
much desiring to see them, ordered them to bring his
daughter with her new-born child immediately to
him. Upon their being presented to him, immedi-
ately embracing the child with paternal affection, he
began afterwards to love him, above all his other
children and grandchildren; and made him heir of
that farm, where he was born, which was called Matle
by the natives, i. e. good place, because the good, or
blessed man, had been there born. Moreover after
the course of a few years, the aforesaid King Pepiau
made Dubricius heir of all this island, and ordered
it to be called from that time Miserbdil, from the
name of Eurdil his mother. From that time the little
boy increased every day in age and wisdom : and
having obtained seasonable time of learning, is deli-
vered to be instructed in letters, who a little time
after flourished famously in prudence, together with
the knowledge of divine precepts. And although a
youth in years, yet becoming in a short time a gray
headed old man in understanding, and the virtue of
knowledge in eloquence, likewise in skill in both the
testaments, he was cried up with so celebrated a repu-
tation through all Britain, that from neaily all the
provinces of the whole kingdom, not only the ignorant
but the informed, flocked to him for the sake of in-
struction and edification, in a different dogma. Of
whom the chief are knownj viz, S, Theliaous, Samson


his disciple, Ubeline and Aidan, with sixteen others,
whose names we have not thought it fit to insert in
this history ; besides another thousand clerks, whom
he had detained for the term of seven years to be
instructed in liberal disciplioe in the county, called
Henlland,* which is seated near the River Wye,
atFording to them in himself a form of religious life
and perfect charity. Again the Doctor in like manner
in the soil of his nativity, namely in the island of
Miserbdil, near the bank of the river which is called
Wye, chusing a situation, rich in wood and fish,
fit for himself and the multitude of his disciples,
remained in superintending that study to many,
imposing upon the place the name of Moth-ros, or
Moch-ros,'\ i. e. the place of Pigs.§ There he lived

* From Hentland there runs a British Trackway to the
Meend, theuce to Miret, theuce to Wi'.zon, thence to
Whitfield, where it falls into the Turnpike road at
Pencreck: but probably went further, for the author
has been informed, that, in making- the present Turnpike

road, a way apparently Roman was cut through. The

present road from Welsh Newton to the Callow beyond
Dewsall, appears to run upon an ancient line.

t There is near Hereford a place called Mockes or

Because he dreamed that he should found a dwelling
and church, where he discovered a white sow and pi<rs.
(Usserii Eccles. Antiq. p. 239.) an old story borrowed
from Virgil, and applied to various places.


for a long course of days; preaching and teacliing
the clergy and people, his learning shining through
all Britain, like a lamp upon a candlestick, every
superstition of bad doctrine being removed. Also
during the whole time in which he preached the
word to the Britons, the same nation preserved the
sound and catholic faith.* [These passages allude
to the Pelagian Heresy, with which the British clergy
were infected.]

Hereford arose out of the ruins of Kenchester,
evidently because the new situation had the advant-
age of the river, and was close to a ford. In the
same manner Ross is said by tradition to have been
founded from the ruins of Ariconium, the materials
in part having been removed to the former which lies
upon the banks of the river.

After tiie donation of the Manor to the See of Here-
ford, the Bishops contributed much to its improve.Tient
by founding a palace on the spot. By this term palace
we are not lo understand one of those magnificient
buildings now so denominated, but a foleia, (whence
is derived our modern word, Folly, apphed to houses)
a pleasant summer rural residence. f Besides, it was

* Vita S. Dubricii by Benedict of Gioucester in Anpl.
Saer. ii. 654 seq.

f Actum ap. domum Foleyce A. D. X280. Ducauge v,
Foleia — Fyleya.


the custom of our ancestors when they held their
lands in their own hands, or received their rents in
kind, to move about to their different Manors ; hav-
ing only one principal dwelling, called the Standing
House, and that of the old Bishops at least out of
Hereford, appears to have been at Sugwas.§ Without
these removals they could not have supported their
enormous establishments in domestics and horses.
In the year 918 the Danes entered the mouth of the
Severn, and laid hold of Bishop Cameleac, then in
Archenfieldf bywhich as there does not appear to have
been any other Episcopal residence in that district,
we may presume he was stopping at Ross. The King,
[Edward the elder] however, ransomed him for forty
pounds. After this the Danes again landed, and en-
deavoured to go a second time into Archenfield for
the sake of plunder; but the inhabitants, joined with
those of Gloucester and the neighbouring cities, mis-
erably defeated them.|| From the Danes endeavouring
to march here, we may presume, that there was
something to plunder, and the state of places and
civilization in the reign of Alfred, maybe estimated
by the size of the hundred. He borrowed the plan
from the Germans ; and every hundred contained that
number of farms, as we should now call them. Of
course, where the hundred is but small the

Cough's Camden. f Chron. Saxon, p, 105. (1 Ibid.


cultivation was considerable, and the place well
stocked for the age with inhabitants and cattle.

The Royal Manors before the coming of the
Normans, were furnished with churches; and chapels
also in the Hamlets, not far short of parochial
churches; and so were many other great Manors,
and some little ones also.§ It is accordingly observed,
that in Arcenefelde the King had three churches,
whose priests performed the King's Embassies into
Wales.f The policy of thus founding churches in
these districts, in order to tame and subjugate the
Britons, is made apparent by the following lines
from an old poem in Higden, concerning the man-
ners of the Welch. They were accustomed to
idolatrize the ministers of religion.

Parent tameii presbyteris Yet they obey priests

Et summi Dei famulos And the servants of the

most high God

Venerantur nt angelos«[r Worship like Angels.

This veneration was an archaism, derived from
their subjection to the Druids. Hereford was in the
time of the Confessor inhabited chiefly by Anglo-
Sason and Norman Burgesses; and Ross no doubt
by persons of the same nations in the main, for the

§ Thorofon's Nottinghamshire, Introd. xiv. £d. Thorsby.
t Doomsday. % xv, Scriptores, 188.


Welch did not live in towns, until they had been
civilized by the Anglo-Saxons, The old poem sayS

" Mores brutales Britonum The brutal manners of the

lam ex convictu Saxonum Now from intercourse with

the Saxons,
Commutantur in melius Are changed for the better

Ut patet luce clarius As is clearer than light,

Hortos et Agros excolunt They cultivate fields and

Ad oppida ae eonferunt."§ They betake themselves to


The Bishops, of course followed the line of policy,
practised by the Kings; and a church was built at
Ross, before the Norman Invasion, for a priest is
mentioned in Doomsday. Previous to giving the
extract, it is proper to premise, that in ancient hus-
bandry, nearly all the land was arable and open, there
being only a few inclosures about the houses. A large
common was set apart for the working animals and
cattle. This at Ross still exists.

The account in Doomsday book is as follows.
§ Ibid


In Rosse sunt septem In Rosse are seven hides
hidse geldabiles. In do- geldable. In demesn is
minio est una carucata
et alia posset esse. Ibi
xviii villani et sex bor-
darii et Pi-esby(er cum
xxiii caiucatis. Ibi tres
servi, et niolendinum de
sex solidis et octo denarii s
et xvi acrse prati, Silva
est in defensu Regis.
Villani reddunt xviii sol.
de censu.

In Walecfoid sunt
septem hidae geldabiles.
In dominio est una ca-
rucata: et adhuc duo
possunt esse. Ibi stx
villani et quatuor bor-
darii, cum quinque ca-
rucatis. Ibi xiv acise
prati et tres haise. Vil-
lani reddunt x s pro
wasta terra.


one carucate and there
might be another. There
are eighteen villains
and six bordars, and a
Priest with twenty-three
carucates. There are
three serfs, and a mill
of six shillings and eight
pence, and sixteen acres
of meadow. There is a
wood in the King's fence.
The villains pay eigh-
teen shillings rent.

In Walecford are seven
hides geldable. In de-
mesn is a carucate and
two more may be added.
There are six villains,
and four bordai-s, with
five carucates. There
are fourteen acres of
meadov.', and (hree haice.
The villains pay ten shil-
lings for the waste land.


Hasc tria maneiia Wal- These three Manors Wal-

forde et Rosse, et Up- forde, Rosse, and Up-

tune appreciata sunt xiv. tune, were valued at

lib.* fourteen pounds.

This account gives the state of Ross under the
reign of Edward the Confessor, who introduced
the Norman fashion of dividing lands into Manors.
There was not a single freeholder in the place,
there being very few small properties, in this
sera.§ The occupiers of the lands were eighteen
farmers, who paid their rents in kind and services
jointly; and six cottagers, who furnished poultry,
eggs, &c, and a Priest with a large endowment,
the present Rectory Manor.

There were three serfs, or slaves, subject to the
arbitraiy disposition of the Lord, who gave them
what he pleased ; a mill, rented at about twenty
shillings of our modern money; and sixteen acres
of meadow. There was a wood within the King's
fence, [the chase thus described because, annexed
to the royal pxulieu of Penyard.] The farmers
paid fifty-four shillings modern money, rent or

* Dugdale'sMonast. Eccl.Cathedr. iii. 182, 183. Ist. Edit.

§ Smyth's Berkeleys M. S. p, 32.

t Census is a very indefinite term, meaning- rent ia
kind, &c. See Dacange in voce.


In Walford were about seventeen hundred acres,
subject to the tax, called Danegelt. In demesn,
or direct occupation of the Lord, and cultivated
by four bordars or cottagers were from forty to
fifty acres, and eighty or ninety more might be
added. There were six farmers, who paid rents
in kind and services ; who with four cottagers,
occupied rather more than two hundred acres.
There were fourteen acres of meadow, and three
inclosures of wood.* The farmers paid thirty shil-

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