Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

THE

BEAUTIES

OF

England and Wales.

OXFORDSHIRE.

That division of England which derives its name as a county from the city of Oxford, (a spot so illustrious in the annals of learning, so venerable in thase of religion,) is bounded on the east by Buckinghamshire, and on the west by the county of Gloucester; on the south, south-west, and south-east, its limits unite with those of Berkshire; the river Charwell separates Oxford from Northamptonshire on the north-east; while the county of Warwick lies contiguous on the north-west. Oxfordshire is of a very irregular figure : near the centre of the county, at the city of Oxford, it is not more than seven miles across; and yet in the more northern part, at no great distance, its diameter is thirty-eight miles. Proceeding northward it assumes the resemblance of a cone, and terminates at what is called the Three Shire Stone, in a complete point or apex. The part south of Oxford is likewise disproportionately narrow, when compared with the chief central districts of the county. At no point south of the city is Oxfordshire above twelve miles in width. Its greatest length is fifty miles, VOL. XII.

B

This

[ocr errors][merged small]

acres,

This county is divided into fourteen hundreds, and contains one city, twelve market towns,* and 207 townships or parishes. According to a topographical survey made by Davis, there are about 450,000 acres of land in the county, 309,000 of which lie to the north of Oxford, and 141,000 to the south; but in the table of poor's rates, drawn under the inspection of the Right Hon. George Rose, the total number is stated to be 474,880

The number of houses, inhabited and uninhabited, at the time of the return for 1801, was 21,193, and the population 109,620. The area of the county appears to be 742 square stae tute miles, consequently the number of inhabitants in each square mile averaged at 148 persons.

When the Romans entered Britain under Aulus Plautius, by command of the Emperor Claudius, a great portion of the disoricts now denominated Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, was inhabited by a race of aboriginal Britons termed Dobuni. That the Dobuni only possessed a part of the present county of Gloucester has been already shewn;t and from the authority then quoted, (that of Dr. Whitaker, it is evident that they prevailed chiefly in the low valleys of Oxfordshire on the north side of the Thames, and the country bordering on the whole length of the

river Gough, following Mag. Brit. IV. 209. says that there are fisteen markettowns. It may be proper to observe, that Domesday Book mentions only Kve hundreds and a half, by name, in Oxfordshire, viz. Lcvecanole

... (Lewkoor.) Peritone

... (Pirton.)
Primo Gadre

-)
Secundo Gadre
Dorchestre

(Dorchester.)
And the Half Hundred of Besintone (Bensington.)
But it appears, in Terra Regis, that the soke of four hundreds and a half
belonged to Besintone; of two hundreds to Hedintone, (Headington ;) of
two hundreds and a half to Cherielintone, (qu. Chadlington ;) of three hun.
dreds to Optone; of three hundreds to Scipione, (Shipton ;) of two hundreds
to Bentone ; and of two hundreds to Blochesham, (Bloxham;) and Edburge
berie.- See Bawdwen's Translation of Domesday, &c.

Beauties, &c. article Gloucestershire, p. 497.

rivér Thame. On the north-western and northern sides of the county their possessions were bounded by the chain of hills which extends in those directions. On the east their sway was limited by that natural barrier which rises, in irregular form, on the Buckinghamshire side of the Thame. The propriety of thus circumscribing the territory of the Dobuni would appear evident from the meaning of the word which distinguished their tribe." The name Dobuni," says Camden,“ seems to be derived from Duffer, (Dwfn) à British word, signifying deep or low; because, inhabiting for the most part a plain, and valleys encompassed with hills, the whole people took their denomination from thenee.But an explanation more immediately relative may, perhaps, be received. The word Dob is observed, in a late ingenious Treas tise, to mean stream; and, in the same work, en, land, is shewn to have been often varied to an and un. Thus the compound term Dobuni may be inferred strictly to signify a' race possessing lands on river sides, or a people who are stream-borderers.

HISTORICAL CIRCUMSTANCES SUBSEQUENT TO THE ROMAN

INVASION. That the Dobuni were not very numerous appears likely, from the event of their subjugation to their eastern neighbours the Cattieuchlani; for though this latter people are described as a warlike race, and certainly possessed territories in the three counties of Buckingham, Bedford, and Hertford, yet their main strength must necessarily have lain so remote from the tracts inhabited by the Dobuni, that if the nation had been numerous in men adequate to warfare, the ascendancy of the subjugators could hardly have been so complete as circumstances warrant our supposing to be the fact. The impolitic animosities and party jea lousies which prevailed among the aboriginal Britons rendered a comparatively easy prey to the invaders a large portion of that #arlike mass of people, which would have been unconquerable if united. When Aulus Plautius, the proprætor, entered Britain, by command of Claudius, in the year of the Christian era 13,

B 2

the

the Dobuni, instead of hastering to arms in the great cause of their native island, looked only to their party feelings as members of a tribe. They would consider no men as enemies but the race of Cattieuchlani. This temper well suited the views of the proprætor: he took them immediately under his protection, and placed a garrison in a strong hold, for the ostensible parpose of shielding them from the attack of their eneroaching neighbours. Thus did the original inhabitants of this district surrender themselves votive tributaries to a foreign power ;* and yet so inefficient to the proposed task were the forces under Plautius, that when he met with a slight check on advancing nearer to the mouth of the Thames, he “ feared the worst,” and sent, as had been concerted, if much difficulty should occur, to the emperor Claudius, who directly sailed in person for Britain with reinforcements,

Throughout the whole period of the Roman sway we find the Dobuni to have remained quiet in contented servility. They were probably received with additional readiness by the conqueror as tributary friends, on account of their not having formed one of the British nations who opposed Julius Cæsar on his first landing. Cogidunvs was at this time prince of the Dobuni; and he was not only permitted to remain in the nominal government of his territories, but appears to have had some other states placed under his authority. While it is painful to think that the inhabitants and original possessors of such fertile districts as those bordering on the great streams of the two counties of Oxford and Gloucester, should not have lifted a single weapon against the invader, who took tribute from the best treasures of their soil, and recruited his distant armies with the flower of their youth, we should not forget that the River-Borderers merely exchanged

оле

The expedition, headed by Plautius, was undertaken at the suggestion of a Briton named Bericus, who had been driven from his country by factious intrigues, and had fled to Rome. From the immediate alliance which took place between the Romans and the Dobuni, it has been conjectured by many writers that this Bericus was, himself, of the latter nation or tribe.

« VorigeDoorgaan »