Page:A History of Horncastle from the Earliest Period to the Present Time.djvu/25

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would see the advantageous position for a stronghold in the angle formed by the junction of the two rivers, and would employ the subjugated Britons of the locality in constructing, it may be, at first only a rude fort, protected on two sides by the streams and in the rear by a "vallum," or embankment, and that on the site thus secured and already a native stronghold, they would, at a later period, erect the "castrum," of which massive fragments still remain, testifying to its great strength.

These remains, indeed, in almost their whole course can be traced through present-day gardens and back premises, shewing the four sides of an irregular parallelogram. Their dimensions, roughly speaking, are on the north and south sides about 600-ft., by about 350-ft. at the eastern, and 300-ft. at the western end, their thickness being about 16-ft. The material employed was the Spilsby sandstone, obtainable within five miles, cemented by course grouting poured into the interstices between the massive blocks. These walls inclose a portion of the High Street as far eastward as the site of the present Corn Exchange, westward they include the present manor house and form the boundary of the churchyard in that direction. On the north they run at the back of the houses on that side of the Market Place, and on the south they extend from St. Mary's Square, past the Grammar School, and through sundry yards, parallel with the branch of the canal, which is the old Waring river. The masonry of these walls, as now seen, is very rude. It is supposed that, originally as built by the Romans, they had an external coating of neat structure, but this has entirely disappeared, it is still, however, to be seen in the wells, which are next to be described.

In a cellar, south of the High Street, at a baker's shop, and close to the eastern wall of the castle, is a Roman well: there is another close to the north-east angle of the castle walls, in what is called Dog-kennel Yard, and a third just within the western wall, near the present National Schools. Thus, although the two rivers were without the castle walls, the Roman garrison was well supplied with water.

The Roman roads branching from the town were (1st) the "Ramper,"[1] as it is still called, running north-west, and connecting it with the Roman station Lindum; from this, at Baumber,[2] distant about 4 miles, a branch running northwards led to the Roman Castrum, now Caistor; (2nd) north-eastwards via West Ashby, being the highway to Louth, the Roman Luda; (3rd) eastwards, by High Toynton, Greetham, &c, to Waynflete, the Roman Vain-ona; (4th) southward, by Dalderby, Haltham, &c., to Leeds Gate, Chapel Hill, and there crossing the river Witham to Sleaford and Ancaster, the Roman Causennæ, situated on the great Roman Ermin Street. This also was continued to another Roman Castrum, now Castor, near Peterborough; (5th) south-west, by Thornton, &c., to Tattershall, locally supposed to have been the Roman Durobrivæ, and where traces of a Roman camp still remain.

Besides these Roman viæ and Roman coins, quite an abundance of Roman pottery has from time to time been unearthed, and fragments are continually being found in gardens in the town. A collection of these, probably cinerary urns, was preserved until quite recently in the library of the Mechanics'

  1. This is a thoroughly provincial word for highway or turnpike. It is of course a corruption of "Rampart," a fortified passage. In the marsh districts the main roads are called "rampires." See Brogden's Provincial Words.
  2. The name Baumber, again, also written Bam-burgh, means a "burgh," or fortress on the Bain, which runs through that parish.