Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/286

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A HISTORY OF WARWICKSHIRE (e) ALCESTER In its course through Warwickshire the Roman road called Icknield or Rycknield Street passes the little country town of Alcester, lying among flat meadows near the confluence of the Arrow and the Alne. Leland and Camden recognized the site as ancient ; Dugdale was perhaps the first who realized its Roman character, and since his time numerous, though not very important, discoveries have been recorded. The principal finds seem to have been made in the fields called Blacklands which lie on the south and south-west of the present town, towards the sewage works and the village of Arrow. Dugdale notes that ' old foundations, Roman bricks and coins had been frequently found,' and that ' the greatest tokens of buildings ' occurred in Blacklands and towards Arrow. The cemetery of the place lay apparently between Alcester and Arrow, near the spot called Grunt Hill. Here, for instance, was found about 1866 a stone cofHn with two skeletons (one a later intrusion), which is now in the Warwick Museum, and other graves and burial urns have been noticed, though not properly recorded. Some noteworthy remains have also been discovered in other parts of the town. The Rev. J. H. Bloom tells me that bits of paving, thought to be Roman, were found when the Baptist chapel was built, in the north-east of the town. A curious monument is built up in a wall adjoining the rectory, west of the church. This is a much mutilated torso, 42 inches long by 20 inches broad, with face flaked off and legs lost. It appears to have represented a male bearded figure, dressed in a sort of tunic or chiton ; the left leg is advanced, the left arm drawn back, and drapery depends from the left shoulder (fig. 5). The whole is too ill-preserved for safe interpretation, but it may, I think, be accepted as Roman. Its origin is unknown, but it was doubtless found somewhere in Alcester. Another interesting find was made about 1638 in the same locality, and is thus recorded by the Rev. Samuel Clarke, rector of Alcester and afterwards of St. Benet Fink, London, in a noteworthy passage : [At Alcester] in plowing and digging, even until this day, are found many very ancient pieces of copper money, some of which I have, and among them one of Vespasian with Judeea Capta upon it. When I was Rector there, about 1638, my next Neighbour, whose house joyned to the Churchyard, being about to sink a Seller, I lent him one of my men to assist him therein, and after they had digged about three or four Foot deep, they Encountered with two Urns not far asunder. In the one there was nothing but some ashes ; the other was full of Medals, set edglong as full as it could be thrust : My man judging it only to be of that Copper-money which they find so oft about the Town, set it carelessly upon the ground by him : And the Town, consisting of Knitters, some of them coming to see the Work, picked out some pieces of this Money : At last one brought in a piece to me, which upon tryal I found to be Silver and thereupon sent for the Pot into my House : ... In the midst whereof I found sixteen pieces of gold, as bright as if they had been lately put in, and about eight hundred pieces of Silver, and yet no two of them alike, and the latest of them above fourteen hundred years old : They contained the whole History of the Roman Empire from Julius Casar till after Constantine the Great's time : Each of the Silver pieces weighed about sevenpence, and each of the Gold, about fifteen or sixteen shillings [Geographical Description of all the Countries in the known florid, by Samuel Clarke (London 1671), p. 167.] 236