Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/411

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ANCIENT DEFENSIVE EARTHWORKS an enemy at bay. Near these great strongholds the dwellings of the people, consisting of circular huts half buried in the ground, are fre- quently found grouped together in some secluded hollow. As among savage races at the present day, the population in Britain in these early times was split up into numerous small tribal communities, which were perpetually at strife with one another ; whenever danger approached, the whole tribe, with all their flocks and herds, would leave their dwellings in the vales and take refuge in their stronghold on the hill above. The frequent absence of water within the area of these ' camps of refuge ' has been remarked upon ; but there is little doubt that, as was formerly the custom among the aborigines of New Zealand, the women of the tribe carried up a supply in earthen vessels, in anticipation of the tem- porary occupation of the fortress. Many of the camps of this description have been proved to belong to the Bronze age, and some apparently date still further back ; but as successive peoples have so often made use of a previously existing design in the construction of their fortresses, careful excavation in any particular earthwork is the only method of arriving at its age with even approxi- mate accuracy. Well-known examples showing the features usually associated with this class of hill fortress are the earthworks on Mam Tor in Derbyshire and at Maiden Castle in Dorset. Camps of this type on a large and imposing scale are found upon many of the highlands surrounding the Avon valley, though beyond the actual confines of Warwickshire ; such are the deep entrenched strongholds upon the Malvern Hills, the great camp with ramparts nearly three miles in circumference at Burrow Hill, Daventry, the enormous earthworks on Meon Hill on the Gloucester- shire border, and the lesser camp on Burrow Hill near Leicester. As far as one can judge by appearance in the absence of excavation, War- wickshire can show somewhat similar remains, but upon a smaller scale and much worn, on the Edge Hill at Ratley. All traces of the circular hut village, which was once doubtless associated with such a fortress, have long ago disappeared in this highly cultivated county. In Worcester- shire, on the contrary, where the surface of the ground on Malvern Chace has never been disturbed by the plough, large numbers of such ancient dwellings may still be seen, hidden away among the brushwood, below the great camp on Midsummer Hill. (B n ) As a subdivision to this class we have earthworks somewhat resembling the last, but smaller in size and differing in various details. These camps are not found upon the high tops of hills, but usually upon some ridge or slight eminence on lower ground ; they are frequently near a river, and often in the triangular space above the junction of two streams ; here the swamps and morasses which in former days were wont to stretch far and wide on either side of every watercourse, formed an admirable natural defence. The ramparts of these camps do not follow the natural contours of the ground so much as those previously described, but are more artificial in form ; they are often oval or round, or some- 349