Culture, England, Societies, Society of Antiquaries of London Publications, Archaeologia Volume 8 Section X

Archaeologia Volume 8 Section X is in Archaeologia Volume 8.

X. An Essay towards a Discovery of the great Ikineld-Street of the Romans.

Wahtever ground there maybe for supposing the city of Winchester to have been built near 1000 years before Christ, there seems to be no doubt of its having been a Roman station, and probably one of their cities ; a pavement of brick, and coins of Constantine the Great, and others, were discovered in digging the foundations of the palace, which was begun by Charles II. [a]. It is said to have had formerly six gates, four principal of which still subsist. The Britons called it Caer-Gwent, or the White City, from its chalky situation, and it is agreed to be the Roman Venta Belgarum of Ptolemy and Antoninus.

Note a. Camden, Brit. vol. I. p. 215.

From the four remaining gates of this city there are six Roman ways. Mr. Taylor’s map of Hampshire, as it is the first that ever delineated a Roman way in the county, is consequently the first that has shewn any of these six; but he has overlooked two, viz. one from the East gate, which goes by Alresford to Farnham, and one from the South gate to Southampton. His oversight may be excused if we consider that they were lately become turnpike roads when he made his map, so that they were broken up and disguised.

1. From the East gate one goes by Alresford and Alton to Farnham, and is part of Antoninus’s 15th Iter, viz. Vindomis, Veuta JBelgarum [b]. The learned annotator on Camden says, that from Alresford to Alton there goes all along a Roman highway [c]. Part of this [d] makes a head or hank to the great pond at Alresford, out of which rises the river Itchin, running from thence by Winchester to Southampton.

Note b. N° 5 seems rather to belong to this Iter. Airesford and Alton are in a line to Farnham, bat very much out of the way from Winchester to Silchester, Vindomis. Dr. Stukeley makes Farnham to be Calleva, instead of Wallingford as Camden, or Henley as Talbot, interprets it, and, that it may answer that name, makes the road from thence to Winchester in the 15th Iter go round by Silchester, a long and needless circuit, when there was a straight road through Alton and Alresford. But Silchester would come naturally in the way from either Wallingford or Henley to Winchester.

Note c. Camd. vol. I. p. 214.

Note d. The turnpike road having taken a new courfe, this is no longer the common way to Alton. In the Gent. Mag. for 17 S3, p. 324, it is laid, that in a •wood called Monks wood near Alton were lately diicovered deep trenches and evident remains of an old camp.

2. Another way from the East gate proceeds on the now turnpike road to Morested, where it branches off westward from the Gosport and Portsmouth road to Oulesbury, and from thence to a wood called Rowh ay-coppice. Heie Mr. Taylor’s map loses it, and it is no longer a road ; but it goes through that wood* and through several inclosures by Upham and Bishops Waltham to Portchester, the landing place of Vespasian,

3. To the South gate comes the way from Southampton, mentioned in Antoninus’s 7th Iter; a Clausento Venta Belgarum. Dr. Stukeley says (Itin. Cur. I. p. 192. lad; edit.): "The way between Winchester and Southampton we perceived plainly to be a Roman road, especially as far as the chalk reached." [This erodes the city, goes out at the North gate, as in N° 6, and is, as will be shewn by and by, the true Ikineld-street.]

4. Another way goes from the West gate to Old Sarum, terminating in Hants at Buckholt, the site of the Roman Bridge demolished by William I. to extend the bounds of the new forest. This is part of the 15th Iter, viz. Venta Belgarum, Brige, Sorbioduno. From this gate also proceeds a turnpike road by Stockbridge to Salibury, and another to Romsey.

5. From the North gate to Silchefter, now the turnpike road to Bafingftoke [e].

Note e. This leems to be the 15th Iter, rather than N° 1.

From the North gate a Roman causeway [a continuation of N° 3.], shewn in Taylor’s map, runs N. W. through the whole county of Hants into Wilts at Hampshire gate, at the S. E. corner of Chute-park [f]. When got through the park into the Marlborough road again it turns into a diredt S. W, course, to avoid the descent of a precipice from the vast ridge which here runs along. At the Easst side of Hampshire gate it passes through the middle of a beautiful encampment, called by the country people Bevisbury, over a common North of Chute, and, as far as a single public house called Scot’s-poor, is known by the name of Chute caufeway [g]. At Scot’s-poor [h] it erodes a great intrenchment called Wansdyke (which Stukeley, in his Stonehenge, p. 48, says was a bound of the Belgae, and apprehends it to have been made by Divitiacus about fifty years before Caesar wrote, and that it seems to have been drawn from the upper end of Tees river about Whitchurch and Andover in Hants to the Avon river about Bristol, and that these two rivers and the Wansdyke separated the Belgick kingdom from the old Britons); then it turns in a right angle, and, presently amending, runs on the ridge of another high hill, and is here called Battle-hill causeway, all along crouded with barrows and in- trenchments. One of these barrows [the present earl of Aylesbury when] lord Bruce has planted with firs, which make a beautiful eye-mark from a summer-houfe in his park on the opposite side of the vale ; another of them [i] stands at the brow

Note f. Chute park was made a park by Sir Philip Medows about the year .... of the lands that were known by the name of Escourt, a place of great antiquity, and distinguilhed in all former maps of Wilts as if it were a town or village. This park is all in Wilts, and when Sir Philip made it, he got a writ of ad quod damnum to make the East bound in a straight line, thereby taking in this road, which now makes a grand gravel terrace walk. It is raised in a high ridge, on the summit of a high hill, and commands a view of the Isle of Wight and Salisbury steeple, the former at more than forty, the latter at more than twenty miles distance. The basis of this causeway is a high bed of flint ; the next stratum is like the cinder and ashes of a blacksmith’s forge, but from whence such a quantity could be collected is truly marvellous. I analysed it by washing it in a bason of water, and by often decanting the black ablutions whilst any colour stained the water, what had looked like the cinder was left perfectly white at the bottom of the bason, and resembled the small fragments of marble made by the stonecutterrs chippings, and much of the same grit. The sediment of the black water, being dried, made a powder like gunpowder rubbed fine, but was not at all inflammable. The upper stratum is not much less wonderful, though it is no more than a beautiful gravel, as no parts of the country near produce any such material.

Note g. From this causeway at Worthy Cowdown branches off a turnpike road for Whitchurch, Newberry, &c. And further North, near Newton Stacey, a turnpike road branches from it to Gosport and Southampton through Winchester, and a branch through Wherwell to Andover, from thence in the same direction to Weyhill, and from thence one by Everly and Devizes to Bath and Brihol; another by Amesbury to Shruton, Warminster, Froom, &c.

Note h. At Scot’s-poor the Marlborough road from Andover proceeds straight on to Burbach, and thence along the Weltern side of Savernake forest, which it leaves at the brow of the hill, where it joins the road part of the 14th Iter from Silchester to Newberry, and passes with it, crossing the river Kennet, to Marlborough, viz. Callcva , Spinis , Cunetio.

Note i. The peasants, being persuaded that great riches were hid in this barrow about the year 1750, bestowed almosl a summer’s labour to dig into it; when at last they found three prodigious large hones, much of the form and size of those at Stonehenge, and probably brought, as those were, from Marlborough Downes. These stood up perpendicular, having two others of like sort laid on the tops of them, and thereby making a sepulchre, for under them was deposited one human skeleton. When I visited it, one of the men presented me with a fragment of the lower jawbone with two or three of the teeth.