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Notices of Books.
ChertsEY ABBEY : An ExistENCE OF THE Past. By LUCY WHEELER.
With a Preface by Sir Swingen EADY. London : Wells Gardner,
Darton and Co., Ltd. The history of a great religious foundation is always a fascinating study, more particularly when we can trace it from the earliest days of Christian England. What story, for instance, is more engrossing than the vicissitudes of the little community which, founded on Holy Island by Aidan, eventually grew into the majestic Abbey of Durham; or the tale of Hexham Priory, from the time when Wilfrid built “the finest church on this side of the Alps,” to the day when the Master of Ovingham, in 1536, “beyng in harnes, with a bowe bentt with arrowes,” stood on the walls, ready “to defend and kepe the same with force”? On another page Mr. Ditchfield has traced the history of the Abbey of Abingdon ; and in this volume we have a detailed account of another great mitred Abbey beside the Thames.
The stories of these pre-Conquest foundations run on more or less parallel lines : there is the same initial enthusiasm, the same calamities during the Danish invasions, the same period of laxity, and the same revival of religious life; then we find the same ambition for architectural splendour, territorial aggrandisement, and temporal jurisdiction, till at last opulence and privilege bring on the inevitable period of decay. In this book we may follow the history of Chertsey Abbey through all these stages. Nominally founded by Frithwald, an ealdorman of Surrey, in A.D. 666, it owed its life and organisation to its first Abbot, Erkenwald, afterwards Bishop of London, a remarkable man even in that period of remarkable men and women—the age when England imported Aidan and Theodore, and produced Wilfrid, Cuthbert, Hild, Caedmon, and Baeda. Miss Wheeler describes the thirteenth century as the “Monastic Golden Age,” but the phrase might more truly be applied to the end of the seventh and the opening of the eight centuries : a period golden not with material wealth, but with work and workers.
We have not space to follow the writer through her minute and interesting account of the Abbey's history, its possessions, and its privileges; but we must notice one point which is of some importancethe suggested identification of Hugh, Abbot of Chertsey, in 1152, with Hugh de Puiset, who became Bishop of Durham in the following year. The identification is based on the fact that in each case Hugh is described as a nephew of King Stephen ; and though none of the northern historians mention the Abbacy, it is not improbable that the young man (he was twenty-five in 1153) was a pluralist. Before his election to the see of Durham he was Treasurer and Archdeacon of York. If the suggestion be correct, it is a curious coincidence that Chertsey should have supplied the two Bishops of Durham to whom we owe the majestic donjon of Norham Castle by the Tweed, built by Ralph Flambard, who was Abbot of Chertsey from 1092 to 1100, and restored by Hugh de Puiset in 1154.
In the title the Abbey is described as an existence of the past," and, unfortunately, the description is only too correct, since scarcely a vestige remains of this once magnificent edifice, Much of the material was used in building the palace of Oatlands, which in its turn has disappeared almost as completely as the Abbey. Happily, a number of medieval encaustic tiles have been recovered from the site of the latter building, and many of them are to be seen in the British Museum. To these a special chapter is devoted.
Neolithic Man in North-EAST SURREY. By WALTER Johnson and
William Wright. London : Elliot Stock, 1906. The ever-increasing interest that is excited by the engaging study of Neolithic Man renders any addition to literature that adds to our knowledge of the prehistoric eras of this country most welcome to all who take an interest in the untiring efforts made by savage man to attain civilisation in the remote past.
In ancient times, the peoples of all countries, from far Egypt to Scandinavia, were, at one stage of their development, users of flint and bone implements only; and there is no difference between some of the flint knives and arrow-heads found in the sands of the Theba ndesert and those so frequently discovered in our own Thames valley.
It is an astonishing fact that this enthralling study is quite a modern one, for although the ancients of historical times were acquainted with stone implements, they did not connect them with man, but looked upon them with superstition, attributing them to the gods. In the Middle Ages the fairies were held accountable for their manufacture, flint arrow-heads being called elf-bolts; and at the present time, in outlying districts of Ireland, the peasants still believe in their efficacy to cure disease by touch.
With this book and a few Aint implements before us, we can shut our eyes to our everyday surroundings, and picture the days when man brought down his quarry with a flint-tipped arrow, and proceeded to skin and dismember it with his flint knife : that useful tool without which he would have been in no better position than the wild beast that has to rend its food with claws and teeth. Further, to show how effective these simple weapons were, bones of animals, and even of man himself, have been found with Neolithic arrow- and lance-heads still tirmly embedded in their structure.
This ably written book is not only delightfully instructive, but will also suggest to the reader the joy of being a collector of the seemingly imperishable witnesses ,of early man's ingenuity therein described. Apart from the interesting description of the Neolithic implements, the topographical chapters, dealing with prehistoric camps and trackways, are of especial value to Surrey ramblers with antiquarian proclivities.
NOTES ON THE EARLIER HISTORY OF BARTON-ON-HUMBER. By ROBERT
Brown, Junior, F.S.A. London: Elliot Stock, 1906. This is a scholarly work, bearing evidence of patient research, and the author is to be congratulated on the production of a book which throws considerable light on the early history of the town of Bartonon-Humber, and incidentally upon the county of Lincolnshire in Anglo-Saxon and Danish times.
Barton-on-Humber is a town of great antiquity in a district closely associated with Roman civilisation, although not itself, apparently, of Roman foundation. We learn from Mr. Brown's valuable work that Barton was an important road-centre in Romano-British times. Its greatest interest, however, attaches to the Anglo-Saxon and Danish periods of our country's history, which are dealt with at length in this volume, commencing with the name of the town, which is purely Anglo-Saxon, derived from the words bere- barley, and tún -- an enclosure. The Anglo-Saxon name Beretún appears in Domesday as Bertone; in the Lindsey Survey, A.D. 1115, as Bartuna; in a Final Concord of A.D. 1202 as Bareton ; in a Final Concord of A.D. 1207 as Bacthon ; in a Final Concord of A.D. 1238-9 as Barthon; and in a map of Lincolnshire, A.D. 1576, as Bato, now Barton. The author, however, does not assert that the Saxon invaders founded the town, but considers that they gave the name Beretún “ to a town of
Romano-British origin, which already occupied the site, and displayed to them the characteristics suggested and implied in this Saxon name.”
A very interesting feature is the connection of the great Mercian Bishop Ceadda, or St. Chad, with Barton, where it is considered very probable he established a Christian church, with its connected buildings on a site previously regarded as sacred to some heathen god, which
was, indeed, no uncommon practice. The general characteristics of AngloSaxon defences and fortifications, as appertaining to Barton, are described with fulness, from which it appears that Anglo-Saxon Barton was surrounded by a rampart and a dýke; but the town was never at any period of its history defended, as a whole, by stone walls and towers. The Danes have left a deep impress both on the place-names and on the ordinary language of the town, neighbourhood, and shire, and some interesting reminiscences are given.
Of the celebrated example of Anglo-Saxon architecture, the tower and western adjunct of St. Peter's Church, the author has much to tell, and his description is good and up to date. He places the date of the tower in the reign of Cnut-probably about A.D. 1020. The later pages of the volume before us treat of the history of Barton in the Norman period, and we are promised a second volume dealing with the parish in both Plantagenet and Edwardian days. The work is well illustrated with maps, plans, and views; and as it is divided into sections instead of chapters, with detailed subsections, the absence of an Index is not of so much importance.
Discoveries at the Castle of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.- We are indebted to Mr. R. Oliver Heslop, M.A., F.S.A., Honorary Correspondent of the Association, for the following communication :
The Newcastle Society of Antiquaries recently conducted excavations on the site known as “The Heron Pit,” just within the great gateway, or Black Gate, leading into the Castle Garth. The pame of this site was acquired from William Heron, Sheriff of Northumberland from 1247 to 1257, who built a prison adjoining the south curtain wall during his period of office. Until quite recently the area had been covered by a row of half-timber houses, probably of severiteenth-century date. Their demolition uncovered the curtain along its entire length from the outer-and earlier—wall of the Castle enclosure to the Black Gate. Excavations under the direction of Mr. W. H. Knowles, F.S.A., revealed Heron's pit in a perfect state of preservation. It is entirely subterranean, and removal of the earth with which it had been filled showed it to consist of four walls of excellent ashlar work, forming a square pit measuring 10% ft. by 87 ft. in area. * This was excavated to a depth of 12 ft. Beam-holes show the level of its heavily-supported ceiling, a trap-door in which had given access to the prison below. In 1358 the sheriff of the period accounted 'for the cost of repairs, and, from his detailed statement, this trap-door was shown to have been renewed with the heavy iron bar and lock with which it was fastened. When this was closed, light and air must have been excluded, the four walls of the cell having neither slit nor air-hole in their faces. In this fourteenth-century account, particulars of a building, 44 ft. long, erected over the Heron Pit, are given. One step above the floor-level of this structure the curtain wall is pierced by a zigzag passage, giving access to a latrine over the Castle inoat. Further excavation adjoining the Pit revealed the site of the inner drawbridge, and the recess in which the apparatus for lifting or withdrawing it had worked. The bridge had crossed a