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ART. V.-1. Collections towards the History and Antiquities of Herefordshire. By John Duncumb, M.A. Hereford, 1804-1812. Vols. I. and II. (Vol. III. by W. H. Cooke, Esq., Q.C., in the press.)
2. Introductory Sketches towards a Topographical History of Herefordshire. By Rev. John Lodge, B.A. Kington, 1793.
3. MS. Collections for a History of Herefordshire. By Thomas Blount of Orleton, Esq. Vol. II., 1678.
4. The Town and Borough of Leominster. By Rev. G. Fyler Townshend. Leominster, 1862.
5. Military Memoir of Colonel John Birch, with Historical and Critical Commentary. By the late Rev. John Webb, M.A., F.S.A. Edited by his Son, the Rev. T. W. Webb, M.A., F.R.A.S. Printed for the Camden Society, 1873. 6. A History of the Castles of Herefordshire. By the Rev. C. J. Robinson, M.A. London, 1869.
7. A History of the Mansions and Manors of Herefordshire. By the Same. London, 1873.
8. The Transactions of the Woolhope Natural History Club for 1868-73. Printed at the Times' Office, Hereford.
9. A Glossary of Provincial Words used in Herefordshire. By the late Sir George Cornewall Lewis. London, 1839. 10. Fasti Herefordenses. By the Rev. F. T. Havergal, M.A. Edinburgh: R. Clark.
11. Handbook for Travellers in Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, and Worcestershire. London, 1872.
THE county,' writes Camden, which we call Herefordshire, and the Britons name "Ereinuc," lies in compass round as it were in a circle. Besides that it is right pleasant, it is for yielding of corne and feeding of cattle in all places most fruitfull, and therewith passing well furnished with all things necessary for man's life, insomuch as it would scorne to be considered seconde to any other county throughout all England for fertilitie of soile; and therefore says that for three W. W. W. -wheat, wool, water-it yieldeth to no shire in England. And verily it hath also divers notable rivers, Wye, Lug, and Munow, which, after they have watered the most flowering meadows and fruitful corn-fields, at length meet together, and in one channel passe on to the Severne Sea.' And not to multiply testimonies to the same tenor, it may suffice to note Speed's averment that the sweet rivers of Herefordshire running as veynes in the body do make the corne-bearing grounds in some
of her parts rightly to be termed the Golden Vale; while for waters, wool, and wheat, she doth contend with Nilus, Colchos, and Egypt.' The natural features of the county are indeed such as to avouch and even enhance the evidence of poets and chroniclers. The manufacture of cider and perry has been conducted from very remote times by the orchard-growers of Herefordshire and Worcestershire; but perhaps even before her famous apple-trees rendered Herefordshire an eye-service to luxuriate in, in its May blush of blossom and September blush of fruitage, the county was rich enough in herds, flocks, smiling corn, and well-timbered woodlands, to invite continual inroads of marauders; whilst it tended to the maintenance of a bold stock of natives, that what they held was worthy of defence and preservation.
The fertility of her soil; the feeding properties of her pastures; the richness of the water-meadows of the Wye, Teme, Lug, and Arrow sides, must have been a special temptation to the hungry Welshmen to overleap the warning Dyke of Offa, and incur the penalty ordained by Harold, son of Godwin-the loss of the right hand, if caught in arms; for are not hands or arms all to a thief, whose alternative is to starve? Hence it must have been that for some centuries the sleep of the dwellers in North and West Herefordshire, by the side of the 'beehive which they had stricken down,' was unrestful and interrupted, and that in the scant chronicles of the county's early history an exceptional number of notes concern the border. And though the hill-country and predatory neighbours must have made the north and west in some respects the least inviting regions, the student of Herefordshire history will find that in no respect did this circumstance affect the quality or eminence of the leaders and champions from those localities, whose deeds and dwellings, spirit and prowess, bespeak a Silurian origin and a constant warfare with reckless borderers, whose justification was a verse of the drinking-song in Peacock's 'Misfortunes of Elphin'
The mountain sheep are sweeter,
Herefordshire, topographically viewed, is of almost circular form, and stretches from Ludford, close to Ludlow, on the north, to the Dowards and Dixton on the south; whilst its range from east to west is from Cradley, under the Malvern Hills, to Clifford, near Hay, at the entrance of the Golden Valley. In length, it measures about thirty-eight miles; in breadth, some
thirty-five, and its cathedral city is the approximate centre of the county. For boundaries it has Salop to the north, Brecknockshire and Radnorshire to the west, Monmouthshire to the south, and Worcestershire and Gloucestershire to the east; but these, it may be remarked, varied at different periods of earlier history, as may be seen in an inquisition of the boundaries of Herefordshire, bearing the date of Henry III. and examined at the Tower in 1655, by which it appears that Skenfrith, Grosmont, and Whitecastle, all in Monmouthshire--Gladestry, Elvel, and it would seem some place beyond Radnor, in Radnorshire--were at that period reckoned within the limits of Herefordshire. It is no idle vaunt which claims for this county a pre-eminence in arms, and in men to wield them, as well as in fertility of soil. Of its earliest dwellers we have indeed less than ordinary vestiges, the almost sole prehistoric memorial of the county being the large and curious British cromlech which crowns the height of Meerbatch or Arthurston Hill, between Bred wardine and the secluded Golden Valley, and is traditionally known as King Arthur's Table. The dimensions of this doubtless sepulchral pile of some great king without a name' bear witness to the thews and sinews of the followers who transported its giant materials to such a specular height; the capstone, now broken in the middle, being an elliptical mass 18 feet in length, 9 in breadth, and 2 in thickness, while of its original eleven supporters some lie scattered about, and one larger than its fellows is embedded in the hedge hard by. Though so exceptional in this county, a cromlech could not be in a likelier site, and, as we shall see later, its locality is invested with an historic interest, which has helped to keep it in men's minds. But not to speculate on this prehistoric vestige, and its date, enveloped in mystery, our first historic notices of Herefordshire antedate the inroads of the Welsh, and connect the county and its border-land with the struggles of the Briton against the Roman invaders.
To speak generally, the Silures stretched from South Wales into Gloucestershire, and at the period (A.D. 50) when, in the reign of Claudius, Ostorius Scapula* succeeded Aulus Plautius as general in Britain, they were strong in the leadership of Caractacus, and in their connection with the Trinobantes of the south and centre of Britain both by kinship and common sovereignty. According to Tacitus, Caractacus had led his tribesmen through Herefordshire and the valley of the Wye, and laid
Caractacus was the son of Cunobelin, king of the Trinobantes. For Tacitus's account of the campaigns of Ostorius and Caractacus's last battle, see book xii. 32-33, seq.
Vol. 148.-No. 295.
waste the lands of the Roman settlers across the Severn and the Wiltshire Avon, when the Roman General gathered his contingents in the Cotswolds, and, crossing the Severn, pressed the Silures first to their outer defences on the Malvern Hills, and then, when driven from these with great loss of men and spirit, they fell back upon the camps probably of Whitborne and Thornbury, both to the west of the Teme in the Bromyard district; and thence, it is fairly conjectured, on the West Herefordshire camps of Croft Ambrey and Wapley. Of the first of these, Whitborne, there is rather the constans opinio' than the positive evidence of a British camp, in the same line as Thornbury; and Silas Taylor speaks also of a Roman entrenchment. Scant vestiges of either have survived the lapse of ages, but on a high camp-like site on Poswick Farm, in the demesne of Whitborne Hall, is an orchard, designated the 'Camp orchard,' with steep sides and a general aspect betokening defensive occupation. Upon this eminence Roman and British coins have been dug up within a generation; and there are symptoms, within a few hundred yards, of the Roman occupation, which, as every archæologist knows, unerringly follows a British camp.
Thornbury, the second camp in this line, is a position of more undeniable purpose and distinctness. Situate on a hill reached from the Leominster and Bromyard turnpike road by a bridle road, or by a short cut from the secluded but picturesque village of the same name, and approachable also from the banks of the Teme on the north through the wooded slopes of Netherwood, the British encampment of Thornbury encloses from twenty to thirty acres in a quasi-oval area of flat table-land within a rampart for the most part single, and in some parts, as to the south and south-east, not less than forty feet high. The sides referred to are now planted with firs and larch. There are tokens of entrances on the south-west and north-east, and the tradition, though not the visible presence to modern eyes, of a copious spring to the west. It is impossible not to recognize in this camp a grander defensive position than either Bredenbury, in the same neighbourhood, Ivington near Leominster, or even Whitborne, which is some eight or nine miles distant to the east of Bromyard. Croft Ambrey may be described as crowning the heights above the ancient and ancestral demesne of Croft, for above seven centuries the residence of a family claiming Saxon origin. And yet before they were, a resolute and patriotic British chief had influenced his devoted Silures to raise for purposes of resistance the trenches, now encroached upon by magnificent ash and beeches, of a camp, which, preserving traces of its double ditch and rampart, and possessing an
outlook over thirteen counties, was, with Wapley, one of the latest rallying-points of Caractacus's retreat. In Epping Forest* an early earthwork still bears the name of Ambresbury, as if both claimed to be the burial-place of the same British hero.
Croft Ambrey is some four miles to the north of Leominster; and three or four miles to the west, divided from it by the vale of Aymestry and the slopes of Shobdon Court and Park, lies Wapley Hill, the site of one of the finest Herefordshire camps, of British type, and, according to a constant tradition, a stronghold of Caractacus. Its entrance appears to have been to the south, and not, like that of Croft Ambrey to the north-west, and its form of entrenchment is nearly triangular, the parts facing south-east and west (just at the vertex of the triangle) being protected by a five-fold ditch; while to the north a single rampart surmounts the sharp sheer steep which frowns on the valley of Presteign beneath it. Within the enclosure at Wapley the land is mostly flat, and in the south of it is a perennial spring, almost without a parallel in Herefordshire camps of British type. It may or may not have been a permanent fortress, with the usual British huts within its barrier. More probably it was a place of resort and defence in case of sudden attack. From a map and measurements made in 1873 for the Woolhope Club, the camp is found to be 572 yards long by 330 yards at its broadest. The northern declivity is covered with woods, and at its base flows a tiny tributary of the Lug, without the faintest pretensions to be described as an 'amnis vado incerto.' The gate out of which, in confused array, the Silures quitted Croft Ambrey, is just where it might be looked for, if the next point to make for was Wapley: and may be that, when Caractacus had to retreat precipitately from Wapley, he divided his force into two bands, one to proceed Knightonwards, in due course to a rendezvous by the valley of Teme, the other to find its destination more circuitously by the stream of the Lug. Within eyeshot almost of Wapley, are traces of British defensive works of more or less consequence; Tomen Castle, Castel Ring near Discoed, Burva Bank, and others. where, as we have already remarked, British camps can be traced, Roman camps never fail to mark the surrounding topography.
At each, no doubt, a gallant stand was made against the concentrated Roman warfare; but the summa dies et ineluctabile fatum' was, we are persuaded, deferred with wonderful pertinacity until the site of the final arbitrament was selected
* See Thorne's 'Handbook of the Environs of London,' vol. i. p. 11, a.