« ForrigeFortsett »
of the hill leading from the great pasture, between the Wold Gate road and the wood, may be seen, what have been, evidently, artificial lines of defence. By having a military station here, in contiguity to the above named road, and in close proximity to the embankment which runs to the North of this portion of the parish and terminates at Reighton, in connection with a fortress at Bridlington, the Romans would be centered, as it were, in a triangle, and completely command the old British town where Flambro' now stands.
Thinking that it will be interesting and instructive, and may, promote more observation than hitherto may have been given to early earthworks, we will now make a few remarks upon the utility of these various lines, which are termed Linchets or Links. They are certain lines, furrows, and terraces, formed on the declivities of hills in almost every part of this kingdom. exhibiting a striking appearance at a very considerable distance. The numerous visitors who ride, or drive, during the summer season, on the road between Bridlington and Rudston, may see a beautiful specimen of them in a field on the North side, about half a mile before
reaching the village of Boynton, as also, on the West side of the field facing Binsdale farm-house, which is seen on the right hand side before descending Boynton hill. These are very definite and regular; but some in other parts of England are so indefinite and irregular as to set all conjecture respecting them at defiance. When ranged in terraces one above another, as they are frequently found, then, even the most inexperienced archeologist, would easily conceive the purpose, for which they were constructed. Feeling fully assured that Stackhouse in his "Lectures on the remains of Ancient Pagan Britain," has divined their original design, we shall quote him as our authority hereon, and leave others who may have different ideas, or more fanciful opinions, to their own exposition :
"It has been asserted by some writers, that these terraces were constructed for the purpose of agriculture, but more particularly for the cultivation of the vine, which historians inform us once flourished in this country. On this I would in the first place remark, that for the common purpose of agriculture the constructing of these terraces was a very unnecessary expense of time and
labour; and secondly, that as they are as often situated in aspects that are unfavourable to vegetation (being frequently exposed, elevated, and unsheltered to the chilling blasts of our coldest winds) they were illadapted to the culture of the warmth-loving vine. It appears to me far more probable that these Linchets were of military designation."
Mr. Stackhouse says, he was fully confirmed in this opinion by the following circumstance: "When at Brighton," about 1830, "I was standing on the edge of the celebrated Dyke, near that place, two gentlemen, who I afterwards perceived were of the army, viewing the deep ravine at the entrance of this ancient camp, observed, that nature had done wonders in that place.' I replied that nature and art together had certainly done wonders there.' They immediately asked what I meant by art? I then directed their attention to the evidently artificial exactness of the angle of the declivity and the corresponding contours (outlines) on the opposite of the ravine, to the trench which encompassed the hill on which we were standing, and to the Linchets on the hill opposite. They then exclaimed,
'You are right; here is the scarp (the interior slope of the ditch and the fort); and those works on the opposite side are the counter-scarp.""
The Linchets which most strongly engaged his attention and excited his greatest admiration, were those formed on the declivity of a hill near Leighton Buzzard, on the side which is opposite to the Chiltern Hills. They commence at the base of the hill and ascend to the summit, forming a complete series of lofty and ample terraces; of them he says: "I found it very difficult to ascend from one to another, each of them being very steep, and above fifteen feet high; the width of each terrace is about the same dimension. From the commodiousness of these platforms from an elevation in the middle of them and from certain inclined plains by which they were connected with each other, I have been led to infer, that these terraces were stations for the military cars of the Britons; and that by rapidly traversing them, the approach to the top of the hill was effectually guarded." Cæsar informs us that, "the Britons were so expert in the use of the military cars, that they could turn or stop them at
pleasure, even while driving at full speed, and on the declivities of hills." From this account of Cæsar's it is plain that the Britons did drive their chariots on the declivities of hills; but how expert soever the British charioteers might be, it was impossible for them to overcome the laws of gravity. By driving swiftly they might keep the chariot from rolling down the steep side of the hill, but any attempt to stop or to turn it must have been attended with destruction to the carriage, the horse, and the driver; yet they might traverse the terraces at their pleasure, and stop or turn on them, as occasion required, with perfect safety; they might also ascend or descend by the help of the inclined plains which connect one terrace with another. From these remarks of Cæsar's, I think we may fairly infer that the Britons, or at least a portion of the population of Britain, differed very materially in some of their customs. and habits from the Celtic inhabitants of the continent, for if the military car had been in use in Gaul, Cæsar would have noticed it in the very circumstantial account which he has given of his campaign in that country; but he is silent on this subject, till