Page:A History of Horncastle from the Earliest Period to the Present Time.djvu/20

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Part I—Prehistoric.


IN dealing with what may be called "the dark ages" of local history, we are often compelled to be content with little more than reasonable conjecture. Still, there are generally certain surviving data, in place-names, natural features, and so forth, which enable those who can detect them, and make use of them, to piece together something like a connected outline of what we may take, with some degree of probability, as an approximation to what have been actual facts, although lacking, at the time, the chronicler to record them.

It is, however, by no means a mere exercise of the imagination, if we assume that the site of the present Horncastle was at a distant period a British settlement.[1] Dr. Brewer says, "nearly three-fourths of our Roman towns were built on British sites," (Introduction to Beauties of England, p. 7), and in the case of Horncastle, although there is nothing British in the name of the town itself, yet that people have undoubtedly here left their traces behind them. The late Dr. Isaac Taylor[2] says, "Rivers and mountains, as a rule, receive their names from the earliest races, towns and villages from later colonists." The ideas of those early occupants were necessarily limited. The hill which formed their stronghold against enemies,[3] or which was the "high place" of their religious rites,[4] and the river which was so essential to their daily existence, of these they felt the value, and therefore naturally distinguished

  1. Mr. Jeans, in his Handbook for Lincolnshire, p. 142, says "the Roman station (here) probably utilized an existing British settlement."
  2. Words and Places, p. 13. note. Ed. 1873.
  3. There are probably traces of British hill-forts in the neighbourhood, as on Hoe hill, near Holbeck, distant 4 miles, also probably at Somersby, Ormsby, and several other places.
  4. In the name of the near village of Edlington we have probably a trace of the mystic Druid, i.e. British, deity Eideleg, while in Horsington we may have the Druid sacred animal. Olivers' Religious Houses, Appendix, p. 167.