Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/410

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A HISTORY OF WARWICKSHIRE be better able to see how far the less perfect remains extant in Warwick- shire may agree with finer examples found elsewhere, and then it is hoped that more definite ideas as to their origin and use may be possible. It must always be borne in mind that knowledge of the subject at the present day is quite insufficient for the compilation of a strictly chrono- logical table of earthworks ; and the difficulty of doing this is increased by the fact that the earlier forms were reproduced again and again through long periods of time, and that the works themselves were fre- quently occupied by successive invaders of different races, who made alterations in their defences to accord with their own particular ideas upon the subject of fortification. In the Stone and Bronze Ages in Britain, men dwelt for the most part upon the higher ground, the lowlands being probably little else than impenetrable forest or dismal marsh and unhealthy swamp. The latter formed excellent hunting grounds, but they were quite unsuitable for per- manent habitation. On the hills therefore, which were always com- paratively dry and open, we look for remains of the earliest defensive earthworks. Passing over those vague banks and shelters found in many moun- tainous parts of the country, which still await careful exploration and may possibly prove to be the earliest extant earthworks, we commence with (A] Certain strongholds found upon the summits of high rocky hills in various parts of the country, the defences of which are chiefly the natural ones of crags and precipices, any weak side being fortified by ramparts and ditches. The entrance to such a fortress is usually by a difficult path winding up the rocky face of the hill. Being one of the simplest, this is probably one of the earliest types of large strongholds de- fended by earthworks. Of this description are the well known ' camps ' at Carl's Wark and Comb Moss in Derbyshire and Cleeve Camp in Gloucestershire, but we have no similar fortress within the confines of Warwickshire. The camp on the top of Corley Rocks has some features in common with this variety, but in other ways it corresponds with a much later form. (B l ) Another kind of stronghold is that in which earthworks sur- round the summit of a hill. The defences consist of one, two, and sometimes even three, ramparts and ditches ; these ramparts, as previously mentioned, were originally strengthened by having a palisade of wood or sometimes a rough wall of loose stones upon the top. Characteristics of this particular variety of camp are, firstly, that the earthworks follow the natural contours of the hill ; and secondly, that the entrance is gener- ally rendered difficult and intricate, by winding in and out among com- plicated artificial banks and ditches. Some of these hill fortresses are very large and even now most im- posing ; they were often engineered by their makers with marvellous skill, so that from their airy ramparts the defenders could sweep the slopes below with their sling-stones, javelins and arrows, and easily keep 348