Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/412

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A HISTORY OF WARWICKSHIRE times they have more or less rectangular corners and straight sides. Their entrances are not made intricate and tortuous, but are straight cuttings in the encircling defences. Sometimes the ramparts and ditches are double, but often they are only single. The huts of the people were usually placed inside the area of this type of fort, which was thus a permanent dwelling place, in contradistinction to the camps of refuge last described. Although these two extreme types are thus distinct in character, it must always be remembered that one form merges gradually into the other, and that many extant remains have features in common with both and are intermediate between them ; this is particularly noticeable in the county of Warwick. A far-famed example of this class of camp, which is to be seen quite close to Warwickshire at Hunsbury near Northampton, has had the good fortune to be thoroughly excavated and explored. Form alone, we must always remember, is no criterion of age ; but, nevertheless, the oval camps at Beausale and at Claverdon in this county in many ways resemble that at Hunsbury would that the spade could be brought to bear within their area. As local examples of camps of the present class with angular corners, the entrenchments at Ipsley, at Lapworth and at Tachbrook may be cited, with perhaps those at Corley ; but this only as far as we may dare to judge simply by appearances. Our knowledge of the details of these earthworks of the ancient Britons is, of course, based almost entirely upon the evidence of archas- ology ; nevertheless with the dawn of history in the land on the advent of the Romans, we catch an occasional glimpse of such camps in con- temporary writings. Caesar describes the towns of the Britons as ' splendidly fortified by nature and art,' and Strabo speaks of them as defended by palisades of ' hewn down trees ' fencing round a ' circular space,' within which they erected huts for themselves and stalls for their cattle. Although we know that forts of this kind were constructed as far back as prehistoric times, we must bear in mind that they were also copied and used in much later days. In Celtic Ireland, for instance, the remains of thousands of these ' raths,' as they are there called, may be seen all over the lowlands, and Spenser, writing in the time of Eliza- beth, describes how the people then still lived in small tribal communi- ties within their shelter in times of war, while in peaceful days they wandered forth with their flocks and herds to the upland pastures. (C) We now come to quite a different variety of earthwork. Instead of the often large sized and irregularly shaped camps of prehis- toric days, which were generally either placed upon a hill or defended by water and marshy ground, we find small square or oblong earth- forts situated on an open plain or sometimes even in a hollow. These entrenchments were evidently constructed for purposes of offence rather than for defence ; they have a clear space all round, so that a body of drilled soldiers could rapidly issue forth to battle ; they were often placed near to a stream for the sake of a water supply. The ramparts of 350