Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/330

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A HISTORY OF SURREY with Christianity in graves of that description. The Desborough necklace l with its central cross of gold and the Long Wittenham cup 2 with its scenes from the Gospel history go far towards proving the case, especially as both were found in cemeteries containing inter- ments in both directions. Though nothing strikingly suggestive of Christian ownership has occurred in the Anglo-Saxon graves of Surrey, the paucity of relics is in itself an argument of the same force as the direction of the graves ; and the exercise of a little more care in the investigation of the cemetery at Beddington would perhaps have settled the priority of the unorientated burial at least in this particular instance. It must be admitted however that the uniformity and the pre- sumably Christian character of the Surrey interments render the early period none the less obscure. If the graves already discovered are all later than Augustine, why are there no traces of occupation in the sixth century, when there were probably two armies in the heart of the district, both of whom considered it worth acquisition by the sword ? Where again are the traces of the West Saxons, who, after the fight of 568, apparently kept back the arms of Kent behind a frontier that was naturally weak and must have needed ample garrisons ? Nor are these the only problems still awaiting a solution that seems only possible from archaeological research. If the Surrey graves are all later than Augustine, whence came the Christian missionaries to the dwellers on the North Downs ? It is generally held that the mission of Augustine accounted only for the conversion of Kent and East Anglia ; and if Birinus brought baptism to Surrey, it is still more difficult to account for the absence of supposed pagan interments in the county, for the West Saxon court itself was not converted till 635, and at least a century must have elapsed since Wibbandune before the men of Surrey ceased to be worshippers of Woden. It is certainly open to conjecture that Surrey was less strongly West Saxon than Hampshire, a county which there is reason to think was not overrun by the house of Cerdic so early as is commonly supposed. 3 And it may be that a minute examination of some of the ancient sites in Surrey would reveal traces of occupation by Britons more or less Romanized for a considerable time after the legions had been withdrawn from our shores. There is no obvious reason why the discoveries of the late General Pitt Rivers near Salisbury should not find a parallel in Hampshire and Surrey, as the chalk is common to all three counties and remains of Roman buildings plentiful enough in each of them. For the present, archaeology dare not put a limit to the survival of a Romano- British civilization in any part of the country ; and in view of the Surrey discoveries, it is not impossible that the kings of Kent and Wessex were content to exercise dominion over the Britons of the North Downs without actually planting colonies of their own among them till Christianity had in a measure prepared the way. Though the 1 Arcbceologia, xxxviii. 350, pi. xvii. 2 Ibid. Iv. 467.

  • See chapter on Anglo-Saxon Remains in Victoria History of Hampshire, vol. i.