Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/318

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A HISTORY OF SURREY to account for the silence of the chronicles as to the prowess of a people who could thus permanently hold in check the leading powers of Britain ; for in the sixth century Wessex under Ceawlin already exercised a supremacy that rivalled that of Kent, and was destined later to unite the English kingdoms under one sovereign. At some time the West Saxons made the upper Thames valley their own, and after the extinction of Silchester probably came upon the Roman road which leads to Staines. The issue is thus narrowed, and whatever site is ultimately fixed on for the battle it may be reasonably assumed that Wibbandune was in Surrey, and that ' the battle resulted in the extension of West Saxon conquest or control to the Kentish border much as it stands to-day. Beyond this rather dubious reference some insight into the early condition of the district is afforded by the Chertsey Charter, which will be fully dealt with elsewhere, but must here be referred to as marking the definite establishment of Christianity in a part of Surrey not by any means the most attractive or populous at that time. The foundation of the abbey by Wulfhere is generally placed in the year 666, while Frith- wald was the local under-king owning allegiance to the Mercian throne ; but the mention of Ecgberht in the preamble 1 looks like a confusion in the mind of an editor between the kings of Wessex and Kent who bore that name. The latter was in fact contemporary, but had no authority in Surrey, and only serves to fix the date. Something will presently be said as to the bearing of the Charter on the archaeology of the county ; but as it was granted at a date when we may suppose Christianity to have been already a living force in what were then the more healthful and civilized parts of Surrey, it will be more convenient first to notice the remains of a pagan or half-converted population that have been brought to light from time to time. An investigation of the few well attested relics of the early Anglo-Saxon period will no doubt justify certain conclusions as to the condition of the first Teutonic occupants of the district ; but more extensive discoveries are necessary before the nationality of those early comers, and their relations with other settlers in the south, can be determined with any degree of accuracy. The most important discovery of Anglo-Saxon remains in the county is no doubt that recorded by Mr. Francis LI. Griffith in 1895," though circumstances rendered a complete account impossible. In constructing the present Edridge road, to the south of the town-hall at Croydon, the workmen came upon a number of burnt and unburnt interments at a depth of about z feet ; but as the excavations extended over many months, and were not specially watched, the remains cannot be precisely grouped or located, and their archaeological value is thereby much impaired. An interesting collection was however made by Mr. Thomas Rigby, who presented typical specimens to the British Museum ; and some objects from the site are exhibited in the Croydon town-hall. 1 The words are 'regnante ghrioso Egberto, rege Angkrum? ' Society of Antiquaries, Proceedings, xv. 328. 258