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OLD STOURTON HOUSE
DESTROYED A.D.1720 I RECOVERED FROM AN IMPERFECT SKETCH BY JOHN AUBREY A.D. 1070.]
The other 3 be north also, but without the parke.1 The Lorde Stourton giveth these 6 fountaynes in his Armes.
The name of the Stourtons be very aunciente in those parties.
Ther be 4 campes that servid menne of warre about Stourton : one towarde the north weste part within the park, double dichid. I conjecte that here stode a maner place or castelle. My Lord Stourton sayith nay.
Ther is another campe a mile dim. of Stoureton, doble dichid, in the toppe of an high hill. This is called communely Whiteshete Hill.
The other 2 campes be abrode in the lordshipe.
There is on an hill a litle without Stourton a grove, and in it is a very praty place called Bonhomes,2 builded of late by my Lorde Stourton. Bonhome of Wileshire, of the auncienter house of the Bonehomes there, is lorde of it.
MERE. (VIII. 100.] The diches and the plotte where the castle of Mere3 stood, appere not far from the chirche of Mere the market toune.
1 This spot is still called “ The Six Wells,” but they are not all now above ground, some of those without the old park wall having been stopped up. Three were in Wilts, and three in Somerset. The park paling or wall that divided them was pulled down by Sir R. C. Hoare. A rough delineation of the six fountains, also by Aubrey's pen, represents them exactly as described by Leland.
2 This place is still known as the tything of Bonham, south of Stourton. By Leland's account a house had been built here by Lord Stourton before 1540, but Sir R. C. Hoare quotes an indenture according to which the property was sold to the Stourtons by Walter Bonham, of Great Wishford (between Deptford and Salisbury) in the year 1665. [Mere 90.7 A younger branch of the Bonhams has already been mentioned as of Haselbury near Corsham. [See p. 144].
3 Mere Castle was built A.D. 1253, by Richard Earl of Cornwall, brother to King Henry III.
Kugla-Saron Cemetery at Warnham,
It is well understood that much of what is called the History of the Anglo-Saxon Settlement in Britain is only traditional, and built upon the fictions of poetry and romance. Some of the chief movements are no doubt accurately reported to us; whilst others are disguised, and many are false: the oldest of our chroniclers having lived very long after the events which they describe. On matters of detail, particularly the real habits and civilization of that people, those writers are still less to be depended on : for to such points they only allude incidentally. But we may, to a certain extent, judge of the Saxon, as the Romans did of Hercules; by measuring his footmarks.
Of the antiquities of the early Anglo-Saxon period, we are assured by those who have given much attention to the subject, that our information is derived entirely from one source; their graves. 1
1 We recommend those of our readers who take, or think that they are likely to take, an interest in English antiquities, to provide themselves with the very useful and inexpensive little book from which we borrow this remark, called “ The Celt, the Roman, and the Saxon,” by Thos. Wright, Esq., F.S.A. It is exactly the sort of Manual upon these subjects that has been long wanted : being clear, systematic, and illustrated by a great many woodcuts. With such a guide as this to refer to, the discoveries that are now constantly made of sepulchral relics become much more intelligible and interesting than they otherwise would be. There will be no longer that vague guessing of character and age, which leaves rational curiosity unsatisfied, and is also the cause of the relics themselves being often unduly depreciated. Such articles may indeed possess very little intrinsic value, but when their proper place in English antiquities is accurately known, and they are compared with others of the class and period to which they belong, they are of great use in leading to general conclusions, and in elucidating ancient history more accurately. For those who wish to place on the Anglo-Saxon shelf of their library a volume of more stately bulk and appearance, there is Douglas's “Nenia,” a valuable work published 1793. Mr. 1 In a tumulus on Roundway Down, near Devizes, a curious interment of a lady of the VI. or VII. century was brought to light, about 1843, on the property of Mr. Colston. The corpse lay north and south, in a wooden chest bound with iron. Near the neck were several ornaments composing a necklace ; garnets set in gold, in the fashion of the Roman bulla, seemed to have been arranged alternately with barrel shaped beads of gold wire. There were, also, two gold pins, set with garnets, united by a chain, in the centre of which was a circular ornament bearing a cruciform device engraved upon the setting. At the feet lay the remains of a bronze bound box or cabinet. It fell to pieces on the admission of the air, and the remains consisted of carved plates of thin
Fortunately for that study it happens that the contents of AngloSaxon graves are particularly abundant and interesting, and that we are enabled from the various articles found in them, to form a tolerable estimate of the civilization of our ancestors.
Anglo-Saxon graves occur generally in extensive groups and on high ground. They are found thickly scattered over the downs of Kent, Sussex, and the Isle of Wight. Extensive cemeteries have also been found in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, as well as in the counties of Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, Northampton, Lincoln, Cambridge, York, Suffolk and Norfolk. Collections of Anglo-Saxon antiquities, taken from Kentish barrows, have been formed by Lord Londesborough, Dr. Faussett, and Dr. Rolfe.
Wiltshire is one of those counties which have contributed largely to our stock of knowledge derived from subterranean depositories. The late Sir R. C. Hoare and Mr. Cunnington carried on for many years, as is well known, a very vigorous attack upon the barrows and tumuli with which the surface of a large part of the county is covered. The collection formed out of their contents, and now deposited at Stourhead House, is a considerable Museum of itself. But the greater part of it relates to ante-Saxon times. AngloSaxon interments have been occasionally laid open;1 but we are
W. M. Wylie's book on the Cemeteries in Gloucestershire, called “Fairford Graves,” Mr. Roach Smith's “ Collectanea,” and the “ Archäologia,” also contain extensive materials for the illustration of this period. For the general reader, however, who may not have the opportunity of purchasing or consulting expensive publications, the little book above referred to, will be found to contain a sufficient compendium of information.