Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/409

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ANCIENT DEFENSIVE EARTHWORK^ design, but is the result of the natural changes above described. But the greatest destroyer of these interesting memorials of the past is undoubt- edly man the agriculturist and the builder. A good farmer discovers that the light rich soil in a mound or bank would make excellent material with which to top-dress a clay field, and he forthwith digs into it and carts it away. Again, a great bank and ditch may stretch across his corn- lands and greatly impede the use of the plough or steam cultivator, and he promptly sets to work to level the one into the other, with very sad results for the archaeologist. Even in the absence of such measures on the part of the occupier of the land, wherever the ground within the area of an earthwork has been continously cultivated for hundreds of years, as is often the case, the natural action of the plough tends to flatten the ramparts and to wear away the sides of the ditches and make them wider and shallower. So that in this way camps are not only gradually being destroyed but their defences are meanwhile mate- rially altered from their original form. In such a highly cultivated county as Warwickshire the ancient earthworks have unfortunately suffered greatly at the hands of the farmer ; this may be particularly noted in the descriptions which follow of the remains at Beaudesert, Beausale, Brownsover, Corley, Chesterton, Edgbaston, Mancetter, Lap- worth, Solihull, Ratley, and elsewhere ; indeed, not only have several of the works described by Hutton as extant a hundred years ago in the neighbourhood of Birmingham apparently disappeared, but many of those mentioned by Burgess as recently as 1875, have since become very ill defined or have even entirely vanished. In Birmingham and other towns building operations have of course obliterated many early works. Though frequently therefore much changed in appearance and often but mere remnants of what they once were, the ancient defensive earth- works of the county are fairly numerous and are also very varied both in form and in choice of site ; they have probably been constructed by many distinct peoples and at widely different dates. Unfortunately however no systematic excavation has ever been undertaken in connection with them, and without this it is quite impossible to determine the age of par- ticular remains with accuracy. The adjoining county of Northampton has been more happy in this respect, its celebrated camp known as Huns- bury having been thoroughly explored by aid of the spade with very notable results. Defensive earthworks have for convenience of description been divided into certain easily recognizable types, based mainly upon their form and situation. 1 Before any description of local examples is given, it may be well therefore, for the clearer understanding of the subject, to sketch briefly the characteristics of these varieties. 3 After this we shall 1 Scheme for recording Ancient Defensive Earthworks^ pub. by Congress of Arch. Societies in Union with the Society of Antiquaries in London, 1903. 2 Epitomized in ' Early Defensive Earthworks,' by I. Chalkley Gould, in Brit. Arch. Assoc. Journ., 1901, to which article the writer is much indebted. 347