Books, Prehistory, The Ancient History of Wiltshire by Richard Colt Hoare Volume 1, Amesbury South Iter II

Amesbury South Iter II is in The Ancient History of Wiltshire by Richard Colt Hoare Volume 1.

Iter II.

In this Iter shall examine that tract of country bounded by the river Avon on the west, and extending to the limits of our county on the east, a district still abounding in tumuli, and other evident marks of a remote and extensive British population. Quitting Amesbury, and following the turnpike road which leads from thence to Andover, we perceive the hills on each side thickly strewed with barrows of large dimensions; and a little on this side the 76th mile-stone, we find a Druid barrow on the left, intersected by the turnpike road, and at short to the right, a large bank and ditch running nearly in a parallel line with the road, and ascending the hill with it. It is very perfect on this spot, and may be traced along the vale in its course westward down to a barn, and through one large arable hold beyond it. In its eastern progress, it continues along side of the turnpike road as far as milestone LXXV. when it makes a bend to the right, and is lost at the commencement of the demesne lands of Sir Charles Malet, at Wilbury. At the 74th milestone an ancient bank and ditch join the turnpike from Beacon Hill; and at Park House another does the same; the course of each of which has been already described in the Everley Station. These banks and ditches are still more numerous on the other side of Park House, and are very visible from the road; but I shall not trespass on the antiquities of Hampshire, having sufficient game to pursue within my own county. I shall only observe, that on pursuing one that came from Quarley Camp on the right of the road, I was led directly into a British village upon an eminence to the left.

Following the boundary line of the twa counties, and passing through the grounds of my friend Sir Charles Malet, and the little sequestered village of Newton Toney, I again find ntyself on turf, and soon rencounter the well known banks and barrows. Without much fanciful conjecture, we may suppose that one of these ditches formed a continuation of that before mentioned, as they correspond in their respective bearings. The first bank and ditch that occurred, crosses the Roman road, and after continuing for some time over down, ascends the hill in two branches towards a place called Old Lodge; and there takes leave of Wiltshire. The line of the second bank and ditch proves more interesting. It continues its devious course a considerable distance over hill and dale, leaving on the right a fine group of barrows, several of which were opened by Mr. Cunnington in the year 1807, at the request of Sir Charles Malet.1 On ascending the next summit, and carrying the eye forward in a southern direction, we perceive a singular coincidence of these banks and ditches; the one we had been following, continued its course straight forward, and at a short distance further to the west, we see another running in a parallel direction: these are united on the top of the hill by a transverse ditch, and again at bottom by a similar agger; thus forming an oblong closure, at the lower end of which are the two largest barrows I have seen on our plains, besides many others of smaller dimensions, in the fields behind the public house on the London road, called Winterslow Hut. From the lower end of this enclosure the line of bank is continued, and pursues an easterly course into Hampshire. On returning to the down where I first noticed the branching off of these banks and ditches, I met two others, the one pointing towards Idmiscon in the vale, the other towards an earthen work on a hill, vulgarly called

CHLORLIS'S CAMP [Map], but in Mr. Aubrey's Monumenta Britannica, as well as in Mr. Camden's Britannia, it is noticed under the title of FRIPSBURY [Map]. What, the origin of the latter name is, I am at a loss to conjecture. The former may be derived from the British General CONSTANTIUS CHLORES, to whom, perhaps, the construction of this camp may be attributed. In Kennet's Parochial Antiquities, I find this earthen work alluded to, and some history given of its supposed founder. "After the death of Carausius, in the year 297, the Emperors Dioclesian and Maximian succeeded to the government of the empire, and in order to withstand the rebellions that broke out in divers parts of it, elected Galerius Maximus and Constantius Chlorus as their generals. The latter having defeated the usurper Allectus, got a good footing in Britain, and a good governor he was, and was come forwards upon the downs as far as New Sarum2, where, upon the side of the downs he built a fortification, the rampers whereof still appear very apparently, and is called CHLOREN, after the name that the Britons gave him, by reason of his long train carried up after him; it standeth in Wiltshire, upon the north corner of CHLORENDON Park, now called CLARENDON, which taketh is name thereof; a park of that largeness and bigness that it excecdeth any park in the kingdom; it hadi a church covered over with ivy in the north pan thereof next CHLOREN, which thereupon is now called Ivy Church: and if we give credit to a late poet, the park had twenty groves in it, each of them of a mile compass, and without any sophistication, it had a house of kings within, but long since dilapidated; it cloth now belong to the Right Honourable William Earl of Pembroke, Lord Chamberlain to his Majestie, whose heart is as large and liberal as the park is wide. This CONSTANTIUS embraced the Christian faith, and married Helena, daughter to King Coyl that built ColChester, by whom he had Constantine the Great, that removed the empire to the east, and built Constantinople."

Note 1. The following minutes Were sent to me Mr. Cunnington, respecting his researches on these barrows. "August 6, 1807. Aboüt a mile and a half south of Wilbary House, in a shallow vale, immediately under the hills to the is a group of five barrows; three bowl-shaped, and two of the Druid they stand nearly in a straight line, and owing to the ground being in tillage, have been repeatedly over, therefore much reduced in height. No. 1 is a bowl shaped barrow, 74 feet in its base diameter, and 3 feet 9 inches in elevation. It contained within an oblong cist, an interment of burned bones. over which was a brass pin. In making the sections, our men found at the depth of two feet the skeleton of a dog, which had been deposited immediately over the cist. No. 2, a bowl-shaped barrow, 69 feet in diameter, and feet in elevation, produced a little pile of burned bones, unaccompanied by any arms [?] or trinkets. No. 3, a fine Druid barrow, of the second class, contained a deposit of burned bones; but Mr. Cunnington thinks he may have missed the primary interment, or it may have been disturbed by a prior opening, No. 4 and 5 had both been examined before,

"From hence we proceeded to a group of eight barrows on Idmiston Downs, two of which are shaped, four bowl-shaped, and two Druid; all situated on a piece fine maide down. One of the bell-shaped barrows produced a simple interment of burned bones; and in the other, the sepulchral deposit was not discovered.

The fine Druid barrow contained within its area, which measured 194 feet in diameter, two raised mounds, in one of which, immediately under the turf, were discovered three large urns within few inches of each other; they were inverted, and covered the burned bones of three Britons. From being placed so near the surface, two of the urns were broken, but the third is preserved entire in our Museum at Heytesbury. They were all of rude pottery, and without any ornament. Beneath these three urns, in a shallow cist, were the burned bones of another Briton, piled up in R little heap. In the other within the same barrow, was another interment of burned bones, accompanied by the following articles, viz. a small cup similar size to the very diminutive one discovered at Everley, and engraved in Tumuli Plate XXII but without ornament; a brass pin, and a considerable quantity of amber beads." In one of the bowl-shaped barrows Mr. Cunnington railed in finding the interment, and the others he did not open.

Note 1. For New, we must read Old Sarum, as the former dates its origin only from the year 1220, and this transaction must have taken place soon after the accession of Dioclesian and Maximian to the empire in the year 304.

The situation of this camp is delightful, and the prospect from pleasing and extensive. Its form is circular, and the area comprehends nearly fifteen acres; the circuit of the ditch is four furlong 198 yards, and the height of the vallum 46; the principal entrance lies towards the east, where there are some slight traces Of an outwork; it had an exit on the opposite side towards the west. One peculiarity attends this earthen work, and which must immediately arrest the attention of every eye accustomed to view the ancient specimens of castrametation. I allude to a deep and irregular ditch within the area of the camp, which forms a circle within a circle, and appears to have been excavated For the purpose of procuring materials to raise the vallum. of the outward ramparts; for it is evident at first sight, that a large supply of soil has been brought there for that purpose. Dr. Stukeley, in his Itinerarium Curiosum, has given a rude sketch of this camp, and at page 138 has noticed also this ditch within the area of the camp, which he supposes was once "a lesser camp, but enlarged by CHLORUS, by removing the earth of the inner vallum to the outward, or new circumvallation but I am rather inclined to think, that there originally was no inner camp, but that the ditch was merely excavated for materials raise the ramparts of the camp.

From this camp, I descend into the vale of the Winterbonrns, which is thickly strewed with villages: the adjacent lands are all in a state of cultivation, and afford no food for the antiquary. Crossing the Roman road, whose line is but faintly to be distinguished, I direct my course to the adjoining vale of the river Avon, on the eastern banks of which is a spacious earthen enclosure, bearing every mark of remote British antiquity, and known by the name of OGBURY CAMP [Map]. On this hill we recognize the very early and simple handiwork of the Britons, unaltered by their successors and conquerors, the Romans and Saxons. Here we see a large tract of 62 acres enclosed within a single rampart, and without any fosse to strengthen it against the attacks of an enemy; and we see within the area the evident marks of enclosures, and only one entrance towards the east. On the northern side the ramparts followed the windings of the hill, and are interrupted by the plantations belonging to Lord Malmesbury's demesne at Great Durnford1 in which parish this earthen work is situated. The area contains 62 acres and a quarter: the circuit of the outward ditch is one mile, one furlong, and fifty-five yards, and the depth of the vallum is 33 feet. On the south-east and west sides, the ramparts are very much mutilated, and in some places nearly levelled. I cannot consider OGBURY as a camp, or work of defence against an invading enemy, but rather as an asylum or place of refuge, whither the Britons, in times of danger, retired with their families and herds of cattle. Such I am glad to find it was considered by the learned Stukeley, who, in his Itinerarium Curiosum, page 138, thus notices it. "On the east side of the river Avon, by Great Durnford, is a very large camp, covering the whole top of a hill, of no determinate figure, as humouring the height it stands on: it is made entirely •without any ditch, the earth being heaped up very steep in the nature of a parapet, when dug away level at the bottom. I doubt not but this was a camp of the Britons, and perhaps an oppidum, where they retired at night from the pasturage upon the river, widl their cattle; within it are many little banks carried straight, and meeting ane another at right angles, square, oblong parallels, and some oblique, as the meres and divisions between ploughed lands; yet it seems never 10 have been ploughed; and there is likewise a small squarish work intrenched, no bigger than a large tent; these to me seem the distinctions and divisions for the several quarters and lodgments of the people within; for I have, upon the downs in Dorsetshire, often remarked the like of too small a compass to be ploughed fields. This camp has an aspect very old; the prominent part of the rampart in many places quite consumed by time, though the steep remains perfect; one being the natural earth, the other factitious. I know not whether we ought to derive the name of it: from the British OG, signifying the hurdles and pens they fence their cattle in with, which perhaps stood upon those meres, or little banks, to distinguish every man's property.

Note 1. The parish church of this little village deserves the antiquary's notice. The north and south doorways present curious examples Saxon decoration, and the font is richly oroameilted with sculpture in the same style.

This church also retains another relick of ancient usage, though not of so remote a date. John Jewel, consecrated Bishop of Salisbury in the year 1560, published, in the year 1562, an Apology for the Church England, to which Harding published a Confutation in the following year. This was answered by Bishop Jewel, in 1564, in a book, entitled A Defense the Church England work was held in such estimation both abroad and at home, that an order was issued by Queen Elizabeth, King James, and King Charles the First, and by four successive Archbishops, that it should bc read and chained up in all parish churches throughout England and Wales. One of these books in a wooden binding, and chained to a reading desk, still exists in the parish church of Great Darnford.

I am again happy to do justice to the accuracy of the learned Doctor's description as to the general appearance of OGBURY CAMP [Map], but I cannot attribute the same consequence, or antiquity which he does, to the little square work, which "as no bigger than a tent," for I dug into it, and found no ashes, no bones, no pottery: and I can consider it only as a slight embankment to protect some trees which might have been planted on this very conspicuous eminence in former years. I dug also in several parts within the area of the enclosure, but found no one symptom of ancient residence: but that it was connected with some British establishment in this neighbourhood, can have doubt: and I was fortunate during my researches in these parts to discover and investigate that settlement of the Britons, which existed on some high ground adjoining the camp, and whose site is marked on the map annexed to this Station. The extraordinary verdure of the turf induced me to try the efforts of the spade and pick-axe, for the plough bad at some very distant period nearly levelled the excavations so usually concomitant with British villages; and I was not deceived by these outward appearances; for we immediately, under a rich and black soil, dug up numerous bones of animals, with fragments of the rudest British pottery.

Pursuing my track from OGBURY CAMP [Map] towards Amesbury, I find continued marks of old enclosures, and a variety of banks and ditches, with a few scattered tumuli: the disposition of which will be clearly seen on our map. I must not, however, omit to notice two very singular banks and ditches, which run together in a parallel fine over the down for the distance of 1716 feet; the breadth between them is 97 feet. At first sight, thought they might have led us to the discovery of another CURSUS, but their short continuance puts a decided veto on such a conjecture. Their situation is marked on the map of this Station, in a line from the 9th mile-stone from Salisbury, to the village of Idmiston. In this same line, I was induced by the fine verdure, and divisions of land on Turpet Hill, to try the spade, and I have reason to think there was a British settlement in this neighbourhood, though I was not successful in discovering the exact site.

The remaining part of the district included within this Station, and hitherto undescribed, is not either of sufficient extent or importance to constitute a separate Iter; for although OLD SARUM is included within its limits, and ought therefore to be described the account of this Station, I cannot with propriety separate it from the next Station, which derives its name from it, and to which I am now conducting my readers.

The road from Amesbury to Salisbury passes over a tract of open and heathy down, and on approaching the vale of Avon, has several sinuosities, and ridges of verdant down intermixed with corn fields. A few tumuli are dispersed about the hills. On Netton Down are two, one of which, composed of a stiff clay, Mr. Duke opened, but he found only a few bits of charcoal, and no sepulchral deposit. He was deterred from opening the other barrow by the stump of a very large yew tree standing on it, which he considered as a boundary mark.

Following the same ridge of down, which presents a most pleasing view of the vale of the River Avor% we approach the village of Little Durnford; then crossing a narrow valley, we ascend another verdant down, on which are a bank and ditch, and several diminutive barrows. One group, consisting of seven, was opened by the Rev. Mr. Duke, in the summer of 1811 he has obligingly favoured me with the result of his researches. The four largest produced funereal deposits: one contained a simple interment of burned bones within a deep cist; two others produced large and rude urns which were secured by flints at top, but not sufficiently to prevent their being broken; and in the fourth was found another urn in a perfect state, containing, like the three former, a deposit of burned bones: near it were the fragments of two small cade and unbaked cups; and amongst them was the cover or lid of one of them, richly ornamented with indentations, and zigzags, according to the usual pattern made use of by the Britons. This may be considered a very interesting discovery, and is the first instance we have yet seen of a cover to a cup or vase. In the three smaller barrows of this group, nothing was found, so that probably they were not sepulchral. Before I quit chis hill, let me notice the very advantageous point of view in which the proud fortress of OLD SARUM, and the more elegant spires and turrets of NEW SARUM, present themselves from this spot, and likewise a passage which I have lately met with in the manuscripts of Mr. Letheuillier, alluding most probably to this very piece of down. He therein notices two barrows situated on a ridge of hill sloping down to the meadows through which the Avon runs, and where the