A HISTORY OF WARWICKSHIRE fix upon the eastern border of Gloucestershire as the dividing line between them so long as the West Saxon dominion centred in the upper valley of the Thames. The general similarity of the pagan relics dis- covered in the diocese is all in favour of a connection that is suggested by geographical considerations. A conquering people whose chief desire was to acquire the most fertile lands of the Britons would find no obstacle at the point where the Avon enters Warwickshire ; and the occurrence of a certain kind of brooch at Bidford 1 and at other points further up the river shows a connection with the West Saxon Hwiccan, while the diocesan boundary included the southern part of the county with most of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire east of the Severn. The first bishop of the Hwiccans was consecrated about 679, and it is therefore to be expected that signs of paganism should here appear in graves that on archaeological grounds may be assigned to the seventh century. As the heathen practice of burying arms and ornaments with the dead was gradually abolished, a lower time-limit is secured for the generality of graves so furnished ; but there is something also to give the earliest date for Teutonic burials in these parts. If the early entries of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle are to be trusted, the battle of Deorham in 577 marked the establishment of the West Saxons in what was after- wards to be the Hwiccan realm ; and a century later the conquests of Ceawlin were ratified by the Church. It has been suggested 2 that Fethanleah, the site of an important battle in 584, should be looked for not in the neighbourhood of Chester, but rather in the Avon valley ; and in the time of Offa, two centuries later, there was in fact a place Fa-hhaleah not far from Stratford-on-Avon, which would be a likely spot for a Hwiccan victory if the advance took place up the river valley. The Fosse Way would also be a convenient route from the south-west, and enable the Saxons to occupy the part of Warwickshire south of the Avon that was long known as Feldon to distinguish it from the forest district to the north. What may be regarded as a link between Romano-British civiliza- tion and the comparative barbarism of the Teutonic conqueror has come to light in the county. This interesting discovery was communicated by Mr. M. H. Bloxam to the Northampton and Warwickshire Architectural Societies in i85i, 3 and was at that time attributed to the Romano- British period. Eight years before, some labourers had been employed to fill up an old gravel-pit about half a mile north-west of Newton Lodge, in the parish of Clifton-upon-Dunsmore, and in levelling the surrounding soil had found the remains of eight or ten human skeletons buried a little below the surface. Among the objects deposited with the bodies was the bronze handle of what in all probability had been a Roman skillet, such as have occasionally been found in interments. 1 Two specimens of the saucer brooch are preserved in the museum of the Victoria Institute at Worcester, but no particulars of the discovery are available. 2 By Rev. C. S. Taylor, Tram. Bristol and Glouci. Arch. Soc. (1896-7), p. 354. 3 Reports f Associated Architectural Societies (1850-1), Nortkants, p. 229. 252
Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/306
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.