Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/415

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


ANCIENT DEFENSIVE EARTHWORKS cause of greater controversy ; champions have been eager to ascribe them exclusively to the Saxon, to the Dane and to the Norman. The balance of probability would seem to be that this type of stronghold originated in its simpler form in Saxon times, as is the traditional record of the two ' Ethelflasda's mounts ' at Tamworth and at Warwick ; while there is no doubt that many existing remains (especially those with courtyards) date from Norman days, either, in the words of Mr. Gould, ' from the time of the Conquest, or as late as the days of anarchy when Stephen was reigning but not ruling.' During his reign so many fortified strongholds were constructed by the landed proprietors, that his successor, Henry II., thought it advisable to destroy no less than 1,150 of them; and after that no castle could be built without a royal licence to ' cren- ellate ' or fortify. It is also quite possible, of course, that in certain instances the makers of these forts may have utilized for their mount or keep an earlier sepulchral tumulus which they found ready to hand; this has been suspected at Brinklow, but excavation can alone decide such a point. (F) We have now to notice yet another form of earthwork, viz. the moated enclosure without a mount. In this case the earth dug out from the moat was either spread over the surface of the enclosed area, raising it above the level of the surrounding land, or else, but more rarely, used to form a rampart round the inside. These ' homestead moats,' as they are called, usually enclose areas ranging from a half to two acres, but are sometimes more extensive. They differ greatly in form ; one variety is very similar to the moated mount, but with only a flat raised platform inside instead of a conical hill, as may be seen at the site of the old manor house near the church at Maxstoke ; another has the above-named slight rampart round the edge of the platform, as, for example, at ' Castle Hills ' Fillongley, at 'The Mount' Cheswick Green near Solihull, at Ladbroke, at ' Kent's Moat ' Sheldon, and at ' Hob's Moat' Solihull. While some, perhaps the earlier ones, are circular, the great majority of these moated areas are either square, oblong, or of various irregular shapes ; some are single, as those named above ; some are double, either one within the other, as Peddimore near Sutton Coldfield, Ward End near Birmingham, Hob's Moat (formerly) and Salford Priors, or lying side by side as Court Farm at Fulbroke near Sherborne. Occa- sionally we find a group of moated enclosures placed near to one another, as at Horston Grange near Nuneaton, while in a few instances, as at Great Wolford and perhaps at Wappenbury, a whole village is sur- rounded by a fosse. All these varied forms merge gradually and almost imperceptibly into one another, but they no doubt represent different designs in vogue at considerably distant intervals of time. Some may have originated in Saxon days as a protection against the marauding armies of the Danes, and possibly others were made for defensive purposes as late as the reigns of Stephen, John and Henry III., when intestine wars harrowed the 1 353 45