Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/317

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ANGLO-SAXON REMAINS the proudest throne in Britain ; but it is open to question whether the battle took place within the present borders of the county, and the identification of the site with Wimbledon derives no real support from philology. Most recent historians have been content to admit the traditional claims of Wimbledon, but the tradition owes much to the ingenuity of Camden, and has been disputed more than once. Worplesden in the south-west of the county has been suggested, but though the site is not an unlikely one, the alleged similarity of the names is rather fanciful. Another proposal, which certainly has a more solid foundation in history, has been made by Mr. Elliot Maiden, 1 who would identify Wibbandune with Wipsedone, a place that was certainly known at the time when the boundaries of the land belong- ing to Chertsey Abbey were added to the original charter, perhaps in the thirteenth century. This would fix the field of battle somewhere on the heaths to the north of Chobham, near the Roman road 2 and the present railway line between Staines and Wokingham. For the present purpose the question is of great importance, for it has a direct bearing on the nationality of the peoples who had settled as early as the middle of the sixth century to the east and to the west of Surrey, the result of their collision affecting the subsequent occupation of the disputed area. A final solution is perhaps impossible, but the area within which the armies may have met is limited by various con- siderations. The prosperous kingdom of Kent was shut in by sea or river on three sides, and almost entirely on the south-western frontier by Romney Marsh and the forest of the Weald. Expansion was possible only along the strip of country between the Thames and the Weald, corresponding to the Surrey of later centuries. After the battle of 568 and perhaps before that date this was politically distinct from Kent ; and whatever the significance of the diocese of Rochester it seems clear that the present boundary between Kent and Surrey dates from the early pagan days of England. It will be observed also that on all other sides Surrey has a border that may well have been dictated by the nature of the ground. Attention has already been drawn to the expanse of barren heath that is backed by the forests of Windsor and the Silchester district ; and while the Thames formed a more effective barrier then than now, the southern limit seems to have depended on the progress of forest clearing in the Weald. On the other hand the Kentish border looks purely arbitrary on the map, for the valley of the Ravensbourne, which is certainly followed for a short distance, seems to have no bearing on the delimitation. 8 If this line is as old as the diocese of Rochester, it may be inferred that there was an efficient force on the west to maintain the frontier against any encroachments on the part of Kent. It is difficult however 1 EngTtsh Historical Review, iii. 428.

  • This is the Herestraet or via mifttaris of the charter.

8 On this point see Mr. Elliot Maiden's paper on the West Saxon conquest of Surrey in EngRib Historical Review, iii. 423, and his History of Surrey, p. 51. i 257 s