A HISTORY OF WARWICKSHIRE perhaps formerly also straight. The platform was probably once defended by an encircling rampart and ditch, and would form the usual courtyard to the moated mount keep. Outside the limits of this moated mount and court fort there are further considerable remains of earthworks to be seen in Tamworth upon the east side of the castle and town ; these entrenchments have long borne the name of the King's Ditch, and are sometimes known as Offa's Dyke, in reference, as has been supposed, to the great Mercian sovereign who once had his palace here. Mr. Clark described these defences in 1884 as consisting of a raised bank and a ditch (the latter more or less rilled up), beyond which was a slope representing a glacis ; he traced them from the banks of the Anker below Bole bridge for about 300 yards to the north, where they turned at a right angle ; within this corner was a sort of earth tump, which people living ' remembered,' he says, ' to be somewhat larger.' Mr. Clark wrote of the works as being traceable from this angle in a straight line in an eastern direction nearly as far as the cross-road from Seckington, after which buildings obscured their course. 1 Two hundred and fifty years ago, in Dugdale's time, the King's Ditch was still intact round the three sides of the town which were not already defended by the river Tame. He described a vast Ditch which, stretching forth in a straight line from the River Anker somewhat below Bowl Brig, then making a right Angle, keepeth on its course paralell to the River for the Space of neer four Hundred Paces ; and so returning by another right Angle, runs into Tame below Lady Bridg ; whereby the ground within the Precincts thereof is of a Quadrangular forme. Which Ditch [he goes on to say] though much filled up in most Places, appears to have been at least xlv. Foot broad, as by Measure I have observed. 2 The earthworks at Tamworth would therefore seem to have con- sisted primarily of a moated mount fort with an adjacent courtyard, which courtyard, like those at Castle Bromwich and at Warwick, was apparently angular in outline, instead of crescentic, as more usual. This mount and court fort lay at the south-west corner of a large quadrangle which was defended by a rampart and fosse ; the latter enclosure may either have been constructed as an addition to the first- named, or it may have been a work of much earlier origin, as indeed its position, lying as it does in two counties, would seem to indicate. The origin of these various earthworks at Tamworth has been much discussed. 3 Many authorities have dated the rampart and fosse of the large outer area as far back as the time of the Romans, basing their argument upon the quadrangular form of the enclosure ; but no Roman antiquities have been brought to light to support this theory. Others have considered that they were the defences of the palace and town of the early Saxon kings who were located here ; this is possible, though, with the exception of the name 'Offa's Dyke,' we have no actual evidence of it. Early tradition in Tamworth, as in the similar case of Clark's Mil. Jrchit., vol. i. p. 20, vol. ii. pp. 481-8. Dugdale's Wane. pp. 802-8. 3 Timmins's Wanv., pp. 71, 83, 234-5. 398
Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/460
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