ANCIENT DEFENSIVE EARTHWORKS H ERE and there, up and down the length and breadth of our land, even the most casual observer must have noticed certain great grassy mounds and high heaped banks of earth, often accompanied by long and deep trenches, all of which strike the eye as being necessarily of artificial origin. Many of these banks and ditches still enclose some specific area ; others again, and these the majority, seem to have no definite use or object, and though in contiguity often appear quite unconnected with one another. In either case they are for the most part the remains of earthworks which were constructed by former inhabitants of the district for defensive purposes. Sometimes these entrenchments are of very imposing dimensions, with great earthern ramparts and ditches encircling the flat top of a hill or a lowland area of considerable extent ; they are then often known as ' burys,' ' camps ' and ' castles,' and their construction is ascribed to Dane, Roman, or other people of bygone days, or else some curious legend is connected with them, giving an earlier and even mythical origin. Defensive earthworks of one kind or another have been made and used by well-nigh every race of mankind ; they date from the present day, back through successive ages, to those far off prehistoric times when war was waged between man and man with primitive weapons of flint and stone. The most recent military forts, built to resist twentieth century artillery are scientifically designed earthworks, consisting of steep grass- covered ramparts protected outwardly by deep ditches. Such works now form the defences of the most strongly fortified cities in Europe. Dur- ing the middle ages great structures of masonry, instead of earth, were erected in most civilized countries for similar purposes, as the strong walls of many old towns and the imposing castles scattered over the land abundantly testify. But prior to this again, and back to very early times, the chief method of defensive fortification was by earthworks sup- plemented by palisading. Each of the different races and peoples which has successively invaded our island has settled down for protection within the shelter of some kind of earth-built fort : Normans, Danes, Saxons, Romans, Celts, back to the tribes of the Bronze and Stone ages, have all constructed earthworks, of which traces are still to be seen in different parts of the country ; and it is curious to note that although there have i 345 44
Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/407
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