Page:A book of the west; being an introduction to Devon and Cornwall.djvu/31

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9
SAXON RULE

Athelstan drove the Britons out of Exeter and made the Tamar their limit, it is not to be supposed that he devastated and depopulated Devon; what he did was to destroy the tribal organisation throughout Devon, banish the princes and subjugate the people to Saxon rule.

The Saxon colonists planted themselves in "Stokes" mostly in the valleys. The Celts had never been anything of a town-building people ; they had lived scattered over the land in their treffs and boths, and only the retainers of a chieftain had dwelt around his dun.

But with the Saxons, the fact that they lived as a few surrounded by an alien population that in no way loved them, obliged them to huddle together in their "Stokes." Thus towns sprang into existence, and bear Saxon names.

It is probable that the yeomen of the land at the present day represent the Saxon; and most assuredly in the great body of the agricultural labourers, the miners, and artisans, we have mainly a mixture of British and Ivernian blood. Throughout the Middle Ages, and indeed till this present century, there can have been no easy, if possible, passage out of the labouring community into that of the yeoman class—hardly into that of tenant farmer; whereas the yeomen and the tradesmen, wool merchants and the like, were incessantly feeding the class of armigeres, squires; and their descendants supplied the nobility with accretions.

There is, perhaps, in the east of Devon a preponderating element of Saxon, but I have observed