Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/305

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ANGLO-SAXON REMAINS IF account be taken of the original aspect and extent of Arden, the Anglo-Saxon remains of Warwickshire now preserved in museums acquire a coherence that is certainly exceptional, and an interest that seldom attaches to isolated finds. A glance at the map will justify the statement of a well-known local antiquary that sepulchral relics of the pagan period are confined to the valley of the Avon. Perhaps the only exception is near Atherstone in the north, which must have been alien territory before the Anglian invaders from the north and cast skirted the forest and founded the Mercian kingdom of the midlands. It is difficult in these days and in this country to appreciate the sundering influence of such a forest as that which covered most of the county between the Avon and the site of Birmingham. The enlarged area of cultivation and the improved means of communication have annihilated the obstacles that to a primitive population must have been of immense importance. Friend and foe alike would find the transit irksome if not dangerous ; and though great highways ran beside it, Arden must have hindered intercourse between the dwellers to the north and south of what is known to-day as Warwickshire. Of the Rycknield Way nothing need here be said, as it only skirts the western border of the county ; but during the post-Roman period an important part must have been played in the over-running of the southern midlands by the Watling and Fosse Ways that meet at High Cross. The latter road runs through the centre of the earliest settle- ments of the Teutons in the Avon valley, and not only determined to some extent the area of their occupation, but also seems to indicate at least one point at which the strangers entered the county. Who these new-comers were may also be fairly conjectured from a comparative examination of the data furnished by history and archaeology. The Venerable Bede, who wrote at the beginning of the eighth century, is our best authority 1 for the settlement of a people called the Hwiccii or Hwiccans in the Severn valley. They seem to have been an offshoot, and were certainly the neighbours, of the West Saxons ; and from the extent of the pre-Reformation diocese of Worcester* it is permissible to 1 Ecclesiastical History, bk. ii. chap, z ; bk. iv. chaps. 13, 23. 2 The metropolis of the Hwiccan diocese (Kemble, Codex Diplomatics, No. xci.). 251