Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine 1856 V3 Pages 67-86

Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine 1856 V3 Pages 67-86 is in Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine 1856 V3.

On the Barrow of Lanhill [Map] near Chippenham. with remarks on the site of, and the events connected with The Battles of Cynuit and Ethandun, A.D. 878 By John Thurnam (age 45), M.D. F.S.A.

The Lanhill Barrow is situated about three miles north-west of Chippenham, very near a farm-house of that name, in a meadow close to the road leading to Marshfield and Bristol. It is thus described, as it existed in the middle of the 17th century, by Aubrey in his "Monumenta Britannica"1 On the left hand of the road from Chippenham to Bristol, about half a mile short of Biteston, near a ground called Lanhill in Chippenham parish, is a barrow or tumulus, commonly known by the name of Barrow Hill, where they say one Hubba lies buried. This monument is sixty paces long, it is raised of small stone-brash stones, such as the fields thereabouts doe so plentifully yield; and is covered with earth a quarter of a foot thick; which I came to know by the tenant, who thought to have digged down this hill, for the earth to lay on other land. Perhaps there might have been some stones at the great end as in Lugbury [Map]." To what is here said, as to this barrow being regarded as the burial-place of Hubba, we will return.

Note 1. Sec "Ancient Wilts" by Sir R. C. Hoare, vol. II. p. 99. The original MS. of Aubrey's "Monumenta Britannica" is now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford; and a copy of the part relating to Wiltshire is preserved in the library, collected by the late Sir R. C. Hoare, at Stourhead.

Since the time of Aubrey, this tumulus has been much levelled; and it is known that, about fifty years since, a former tenant removed a large quantity of the stone of which it is formed. The only particidars we have been able to obtain of these excavations are from an old man, who states that many human bones were thrown up, among which he particular recollects several lower jaws. At present, the mound has the appearance of several irregular hillocks, in part overgrown with thorns and briars, resembling somewhat the site of an old quarry. Sufficient still remains to show that it was a long barrow, ranging cast and west, about 160 feet in length, broadest near the east end, and with its present greatest height not exceeding six or seven feet. About thirty or forty feet from the eastern extremity, the upper edges of two flat stones were just visible above the turf. These stones were parallel with each other, placed from east to west, and about four and a half feet apart. Their position was such as to lead to the inference that they formed part of a stone chamber or cist; and, on the occasion of the meeting of the Wiltshire Archfcological Society at Chippenham, in September last, it was agreed to make some excavations, with the view of determining the period to which the barrow belongs. It would have been proper to record what was then ascertained, had this even been less than was actually the case. Enough however Avas observed to establish the agreement of this with other long stone barrows, containing cists or chambers, found in this part of England; and which must be regarded as altogether distinct from the round, (bowl, or bell-shaped) barrows so common on the downs of Wiltshire and the adjacent counties. An excavation was made between the two stones, which soon disclosed a third flat slab, like the othei's, of a rough oolite. This was placed between, and at right angles with, the others, so as to form the figure of the Roman letter \r\, having the cross-bar disproportionately long. The two side stones are about four and a half feet in height, and about the same in length; the stone which separates them, and by which they are maintained in the erect position, is about five and a half feet high, and four and a half long, being sunk about a foot deeper in the earth than the two others. These stones differ altogether in size and character from tlie large massy stones forming the megalithic monuments, usually called triliths, dolmens, or cromlechs, such as are found at the east end of some.long barrows; the most perfect example in this part of England, being that called Lugbury [Map], near Littleton Drew. The space between the two upright stones was filled up with the small cornbrash of the district, roughly thrown in. Exterior to these large stones, the barrow must have been piled up, by hand, in the same way as a common dry wall at the present day. The stones were placed in regular layers, and their under surface encrusted with a remarkable white calcareous efflorescence. The same arrangement of the stones, and the same incrustation were observed, in other parts of the barrow. It was clear that the space enclosed by the two upright stones had at some time been disturbed, as nothing was found beyond a few scattered fragments of human bones, and a few belonging to lower animals, among which were those of some bird. These were at a depth of from three to four feet. Among the human remains, were parts of the lower jaw of a person about twenty, and another of perhaps fifty, years of age, both probably females. These remains were found on each side of the transverse stone, but chiefly on the west. The only object of art discovered, was a single flint flake, of very dark colour, and somewhat clumsy form, which might however have served as a knife, or as a spear or arrow-head. At a depth of about four and a half feet, the natural soil of a reddish clay was found, and below this the substratum of cornbrash. Further to the west, the barrow had been almost entirely levelled; and the excavations made in that situation only disclosed the natural soil. Nearer the centre, it preserved in great measure its original elevation, and at a distance of about forty feet from the former, another considerable excavation was made. The stones here presented their original stratified condition, as already described; but there were no traces of cists or chambers. Nothing was found beyond the jaw and molar teeth of an ox, very much dccaj'cd and encrusted with calcareous deposit. These were about two feet below the surface, where they had evidently remained for ages undisturbed.

In a hollow, on the north side of the barrow and of this excavation, the upper edge of a somewhat thick flat stone, about five feet in length, projected above the turf. On digging round this, it proved to be about two and a half feet in height, and to range from S.S.E., to N.N.W. On the east side, a piece of the large horn of a red deer was found, and on the west, were a few fragments of two human skeletons, which, as indicated by the lower jaws, were probably those of men, of about twenty and forty years of age. The stone rested on the natural soil, and at its south-west corner, a much smaller stone was observed, which was placed at a right angle with the other; and perhaps indicated that a small rude cist had existed in this situation. Nothing else was found.

Whilst we have no hesitation in classifying the Lanhill tumulus with the other long stone barrows of this part of England, we must remain in doubt whether the dilapidated stone structure near the east end had formed part of a chamber, such as may be seen at Stoney Littleton [Map] and Uley1, or whether it had rather been a large cist. If a chamber, intended to be entered from the east end, we must suppose that the covering stones had been removed, and that the stone now placed transversely between the two others, had, possibly during some earlier examination, been forced into its present place, with a view of preserving the position of these two side stones. If this transverse stone is regarded as always having occupied its present position, we must then conclude that the three stones formed the western end of a small chamber or large cist, the rest of the stones having long since been removed. On the whole, the former view appears the more probable. As to the stones on the north side of the centre of the barrow, we can have little difficulty in tracing in them the remains of a small cist, such as have been found in long stone barrows in this district; and of which we have examples at Littleton Drew, Duntesbourne Abbots, and other places. The occurrence of stone cists, with interments in sucli a position, should induce future explorers to examine with care the sides of these long barrows.

Note 1. See "Archæologia," 1819, vol. XIX, p. 43, for Stoney Littleton; "Archæological Journal," 1854, vol. XI, p. 313, for Uley.

We need hardly here reproduce the argimients by which it may be shewn that these long barrows are to be assigned to a very ancient British period, prior to the introduction of metallic implements or weapons, whether of bronze or iron. Lest, however, the historical evidence should be thought to outweigh the archaeological, it seems proper to take some notice of the statement that this tumulus was the burial place of the Danish chief, Hubba, who died so late as towards the end of the 9th century. Aubrey, as we have seen, alludes to a popular tradition to this effect, when he says, here "they say one Hubba lies buried." Of such a tradition there are, now at least, no traces in the neighbourhood. Aubrey, in a note, adds, "Mr. Wood!" (meaning Anthony A'Wood) "I leave it to you to give the name to this sepulchre, whether Hubbaslow or Barrow Hill. Sir Charles Snell, of Kington St. Michael, told me of it in 1646 or 47, when I was a freshman, and said it was Hubbaslow. He shewed me then an old Stow's chronicle of the first edition, in a thick octavo, or rather quarto, which mentioned it; but Caxton's chronicle makes him to be buried in Devonshire, which I presume is an error." In this last statement, Caxton, as mil be shown, was in all probability correct; his narrative, however, is full of inconsistencies and improbabilities; and neither he nor Stow, writers of the 15th and 16th centuries, can be accepted as authorities in a disputed question of this sort.

On turning to the cotemporary, and nearly contemporary historians of this period, Asser, the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, and Florence of Worcester, we find in them an almost uniform statement to the following effect, of the events early in the year 878. "The brother of Ilynguar and Hcalfdcn, with twenty-three ships, came from the country of Demetia, (South Wales,) where he had wintered, and sailed to Devon, where he was slain before the Castle of Cynuit, by the king's servants; and where was gained a very large booty; and, amongst other things, the war standard called the Raven;" which, as the annals, (erroneously attributed to Asser,) add — perhaps from a fabulous source1 — "the three sisters of Hynguar and Hubba wove in one day." That the brother of Hynguar and Healfden, here named, was really Hubba, is almost certain; and, indeed, his name is expressly mentioned by Geoffrey Gaimar, Roger of Wendover, and Matthew of Westminster; whose authority, however, has not the same weight as that of Asser and the other historians quoted. These two last writers, describe the three brothers, Hynguar, Hubba, and Healfden, as all being slain at Cynuit. It is certain that their names do not again appear as engaged in these expeditions.

There is no sufficient proof, to be derived from the earliest authorities, that Hubba was ever in the neighbourhood of Chippenham. Though no doubt frequently in alliance with Guthrum, the Danish king of East Anglia, Hubba and his brothers were more intimately connected with the Danes of Northumbria, of whom, one of them (Healfden) was the actual ruler. In the year 876-7, the Danes, under Guthrum, had wintered at Exeter, and were besieged there by Alfred. Notwithstanding temporary advantages, Alfred, being supported only by the people of Somersetshire, was obliged to retire from the contest, taking up his abode in Athelney, towards the end of 877. At the same period, the Danes under Guthrum left Exeter and went to Chippenham, where they wintered. Asser is very particular, in describing these movements of the Danish forces, to distinguish between those under diiferent leaders. He appears to have the Danes under Hynguar and Hubba, who were at this time in South Wales, as well as another force, which had retired to Mercia, in view, when in speaking of the departure of the army under Guthrum from Exeter to Chippenham, he terms it the army before mentioned — "supra memoratus sæpe exercitus." The other Danish leaders, kings as they are called, immediately associated with Guthrum, according to Asser, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and Henry of Huntingdon, were Oscytel and Amand, or Anwynd; who, if we credit the latter authority, accompanied Guthrum to Chippenham. As to the sons of tlie celebrated Ragnar Lodbrok, Healfdcn seems to have been occupied in consolidating his conquests, and settling his followers on the lands of Northumbria; whilst Hubba, almost certainly, and Hynguar, probably had fallen at Cynuit.

Guthrum's army was still at Chippenham, when, a few days before Whitsuntide, which this year fell on the 11th of May, Alfred, encouraged by the recent defeat of the Danes at Cynuit, rallied his followers, and entering "Wiltshire from Athelney, marched northward, and attacked the invaders of his country, at a place called Ethandun. Here he gained that great victory, by which the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon power was decided. After defeating the Danes in a pitched battle, with great slaughter, he piirsued them flying to their fortress, (no doubt some earth-work in the neighbourliood,) where he besieged them fourteen days. After an almost unconditional surrender, they entered into a treaty; and soon after Guthrum with thirty of the most distinguished of his army came to Alfred, and embracing Christianity, received baptism at his hands. In none of the narratives, do we find mention of any other king or leader, as might certainly have been expected, liad so celebrated a chief as Hubba either been killed at Ethandun, or been in any way immediately connected with these events.

And here we naturally pause to inquire the site of this celebrated battle. That it was at no great distance from Chippenham, seems certain; it being expressly stated that the Danes had their quarters at that place, both before and after the battle. Camden states, but gives no reasons for the opinion, that Edington near Westbury was the ancient Ethandun, where this battle was fought; and, in this assertion, he finds a strenuous supporter in Sir R. C. Hoarc. Gough, the annotator of Camden, equally with Sir Richard Hoarc, maintains that tlic fortified earth-work or camp, known as Rratton Castle, on the down immediately above Edington, is the fortress to which the Danes were pursued by Alfred.1 These views are now so generally received as to be incorporated, not only in most of the modern editions of the ancient chronicles. Let us, however, turn to the pages of, perhaps, the only strictly cotemporary authority, Asser; whose narrative, stripped of matter irrelevant to our present inquiry, is as follows: "In the seventh week after Easter, Alfred leaving Æthclingaeg, rode to Ecgbryht's stone, which is in the eastern part of the wood called Selwood, but in the British 'Coitmaur.' Here he was met by all the men of Somerset, "Wiltshire, and part of those of Hampshire, who rejoiced greatly when they saw him once more; and there they encamped one night." On this, the first day of his expedition, Alfred and those who accompanied him, being on horseback, of course, were able without difficulty to accomplish a longer journey than on the following days. On his arrival at Egbert's stone, the king, it is clear, mustered his forces, the principal part of whom woiild consist of foot soldiers. "When the following day dawned, the king moving his camp, came to a place called Æcglea, where he encamped for one night. The next morning, at daybreak, he moved his forces, and coming to a place called Ethandun, he engaged the entire host of the pagans, fighting for a long time in a close line of battle. The pagans were defeated with great slaughter, and pursued flying to tlieir fortress ('usque ad arcem.')2 Outside the fortress Alfred took much booty of horses and cattle, and made many prisoners, who were at once slain. Boldly encamping before the gates of the pagan fortress, with all his army, he remained there fourteen days, until the pagans, driven by famine, cold, fear, and last of all, by despair, sued for peace."3 This narrative of Asser is fuller than that of any other of the early authorities, which, however, so far as they go, entirely correspond; in fact, they were probably copied from Asser.

Note 1. Camden, "Britannia," Ed. 1806, vol. 1, pp. 131. 146.— Sir R. C. Hoare, "Ancient Wilts," vol. I, p. 56.

Note 2. "Ad firmitatem suum," says Henry of Huntingdon.

Note 3. The map here given will assist the reader in following the narrative, and in understanding the different views as to the line of Alfred's march and the sites of the battle and siege. The unbroken Line ( ) rejiresents the road taken by Alfred, according to the views held by Whitaker and adopted in this paper. The interrupted lines ( ) indicate the route in accordance with the differing opinions of Camden and his annotators, Hoare, Milner, Beke, and Moffat. The names of places are, as far as practicable, given in the Anglo-Saxon of the times.

There appears no difficulty in admitting with the learned Spelman1 and Sir R. C. Hoare, that Egbert's stone (the Ecgbryht's stane of the chronicle) is represented by Brixton Deverill, a distance of about 35 miles from Athelney. As to Æcglea, (Asser,) Iglea or Æglea, (Saxon Chronicle,) or Ecglea, (Florence,) the place where Alfred rested the second night, Gough and Sir R. C. Hoare place it at, or near Clay Hill or Bugley; whilst Bishop Gibson thought it was Westbury Leigh. The former of these sites, however, is little more than five, and the latter less than nine, miles to the north of Brixton; distances which seem too short for a day's march, when the king is described as setting forth at dawn, and with the head quarters of the enemy at Chippenham, a distance of at least twenty-five miles. Supposing Edington to have been the site of the battle, the same objection would apply to the next day's march, the length of which would be only four miles from Westbury, or eight miles from Clay Hill or Bucley. Here the question arises, whether the battle was fought on the day of the arrival at Ethandun, or on the following.2 Though not so stated, the former would seem implied in Asser's narrative, and is stated expressly, in a passage from a life of St. Neot, in the apocryphal "Annals." On turning, however, to Simeon of Durham, whose statements ought, perhaps, to be received, when not in direct opposition to earlier authority, we are told that the battle was not fought until the third day after leaving Egbert's stone; and, further, that the two armies spent the night previous to the battle opposed to each other at Ethandun. "After the third day" (post tertiam diem) says Simeon, in his somewhat inflated style, "Alfred came with a great army to a place which is called Edderandun, near which he found immense hosts of the pagans prepared for battle. After a brilliant sun-rise, the king and the chief of his followers, armed themselves for battle, not omitting the triple breast-plate of faith, hope, and the love of God. Advancing in warlike array, they boldly challenged their most renowned enemy to battle The two armies fought the greater part of the day, and their cries and the clashing of their arms were heard far and wide."

Note 1. Vita Ælfredi," 1678, p. 33. "Nobis hodie, ni fallor, Brixtona."

Note 2. It is worth notice that Gaimar, whose authority, however, is not decisive, makes Alfred reach Ethandun at noon on tlie third day.

"E lendemain a hure de none,

"Done sunt venuz a Edenesdone." — Line 3189.

It must also be objected that, from the promptitude of Alfred's movements, it is hardly probable that the Danes could have advanced so far to the south as Edingtou, fourteen or fifteen miles from Chippenham, after obtaining intelligence of the king's approach. Little difficulty, it must be admitted, exists on the ground of orthography, in accepting Edington as the representative of Ethandun; Edington being clearly the Edendone of Domesday, and being written Edyndon, at least as late as the time of Henry the Vlth, (1449.)1 An objection, on this ground, does exist against Heddington, near Calne, which is, the Edinfon of Domesday, but which has been assigned most improbably, as the site of this battle by Milner.2 The narrative of Asser seems, however, decidedly opposed to our assmning Edington and Bratton Castle as the sites of these important events. The description of the fortress, and the booty of horses and cattle found outside, appear to point, not to a stronghold hastily thrown up, or resorted to under the pressure of events, but clearly to a place of security where they had been some time encamped. That the Danes had advanced to meet Alfred and give him battle, seems evident, but it is not probable that they would have encumbered themselves with stores of horses and cattle. Even if Edington must be admitted as the site of the battle, we should still demur to accepting the camp at Bratton as the Danish fortress. Those who are familiar with the site of this earthwork, on the edge of the steep escarpment of the downs above Edington, will admit the difficulty of the Danes effecting a retreat thither; and we think it must be further granted, that Alfred could scarcely have maintained a successful siege whilst remaining, as he must, in the vale below;3 the Danes, meanwhile, possessing free egress to the south. The white horse, cut out in the chalk, directly below Bratton Castle, can have no reference (as is often thought) to these events, unless in the fancy of those who formed it, in quite recent times.4

Note 1. Modern Wilts," by Sir R. C. Hoare, "Hundred of Westbury," p. 15.

Note 2. "History of Winchester," 1798.

Note 3. There seems indeed much doubt whether the entrance to the north, with the road to Edington, are not altogether of modern origin. The principal entrance is clearly that on the south side, and it is by no means certain that originally any other existed. Earthworks of this kind, situated on the brows of hills, seem to have been so placed for the sake of the natiu'al advantages for defence, which such situations afibrd, and were not usually weakened by approaches on the side of the declivity.

Note 4. Figures of a horse, cut out in the side of the chalk hills, are common in Wiltshire: no fewer than eight might readily be named. The only figure of this kind, with a genuine ancient aspect, seems to be that of the Vale of White Horse in Berkshire. Their supposed significance, as to events in the Anglo-Saxon history of this period, is at once set aside by the fj^ct that a dragon, not a horse, was borne on the standard of the West Saxons. The wliite horse is supposed to have been the standard of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Kent.

Rather might it be supposed, with Dr. Pauli1, that at Chippenham itself was the fortress to which the Danes retreated. That Chippenham was their head quarters, there can be no doubt. It was such in the previous winter, and continued to be so in that of the following year, when in accordance with their treaty, they departed for Cirencester. Chippenham was a villa regia, and as such, may have been defended, not only by the winding stream of the Avon, but also by an earthen rampart and hedge, or palisade;2 but that it was sufficiently strong, either by nature or art, to resist a siege for fourteen days, seems hardly probable.

Note 1. "Life of King Alfred," 18j2, p. 180.

Note 2. See under "Ham," Leo's "Local Nomenclatuje of the Anglo-Saxons," 1852, p. 39.

On the whole, a third view, suggested by Mr. Whitaker, seems most probable; viz., that the battle was fought near Yatton, about five miles to the north west of Chippenham, in which place he finds "the fair representative of the Ethandun of the history." - Æcglea, he places at Highlcy Common, near Melksham, giving about eighteen miles for the second day's march, and ten for that of the third. "But the battle," says Whitaker, "was a little lower, on the Avon, even at Slaughterford; the very name of which denotes, what the tradition of the inhabitants has handed down, concerning a great slaughter of the Danes in this place. So happily do the local circumstances accord with the historical representation. Yet where was the fortress to which the routed Danes fled? It was undoubtedly that double entrenchment in Bury Wood, betwixt Colerne and North Wraxall."2 Aubrey, in writing of Yatton field, says "the country people have a tradition that here was a fight with the Danes, as also another at Slaughterford, about a mile and a half hence; it is likely it took its denomination from the flight and slaughter. Hereabout groweth great plenty of a good vulnerary herb, called Dane's blood. They doe believe it sprang from the blood of the Danes shed here in battle."3

Note 1. See under "Ham," Leo's "Local Nomenclatuje of the Anglo-Saxons," 1852, p. 39.

Note 2. "Life of St. Neot," 1809, p. 269. In this passage, Mr. Whitaker adopts statements, as regards Slaughterford and Bury Wood, to be found in the additions to Camden, by Bishop Gibson, (vol I, p. 141,) which were clearly taken from Aubrey. See "Collections for North Wilts," Part 2, 1838, pp. 17. 31. 33.

Note 3. Aubrey "Mon. Brit." This passage is erroneously attributed to Stow, by Sir R. C. Hoare. — "Ancient Wilts," vol. II, p. 100. See also Aubrey's "Natural History of Wiltshire," 1848, p. 50. The plant called Dane's Blood or Danewort, Sambucus Ebulus, is said, to occur in various sites where traditions as to the Danes exist, particularly in Essex and Norfolk. — Camden, "Britannia," vol. II, pp. 125. 135. 197. This plant is still to be found about Slaughterford.

Bury Wood camp [Map], or North Wood camp, referred to by Whitaker as the probable Danish fortress, is in the parish of Colerne, on the borders of Grloucestersliire, and within about half a mile of the Roman road, the Fosse. "It has," says Aubrey, "double-works [and is] therefore not Roman." It contains about twenty-five acres, and is situate on a promontory of Colerne Down, from which it is separated by a double, deep rectilinear rampart, having a single entrance in the centre facing the south-west. The other sides, says the same writer, are well secured by the precipice, at the bottom of which runs a stream. Within the area is a small subsidiary earthwork, about an acre in extent, and with an opening facins: the west.1 The name of Doncombe Bottom, which attaches to the ravine below the camp, may possibly refer to the Danes.

Note 1. See a good plan in Hoare's "Ancient Wilts," vol. II, p. 103, from which our wood engraving has been reduced. See also "Roman Era," p. 103. For this engraving, and for that of Bratton Camp [Map], also reduced from a plate in "Ancient Wilts," vol. I., p. 55, the Committee of the Society are indebted to one of the members, the Rev. E. Meyrick.

Admitting the head quarters of the Danes to have been at Chippenham, there seems no improbability in the supposition that they had a place of greater strength in the neighbourhood which they in part occupied, and to which they might in case of need retire. "Whitaker suggests, with much probability, that the Danes had formed here a camp for the summer. For such a purpose the site of Bury Wood camp would appear well chosen, situated, as it probably was, within the kingdom of Mercia, and in immediate proximity to the Fosse road, by means of which they could readily keep up communications with their confederate Danes, who at that time had possession of this Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Assuming then, that part of the Danish force was at Chippenham, and part at Bury Wood camp, a simple reference to the map will shew, that the neighbourhood of West Yatton, almost equidistant from the two places, was the probable spot for them to unite, on hearing of the advance of Alfred's army. The orthography of Yatton will not give us much difficulty; as to the present day it is known by the name of Eaton as well as Yatton, and there is scarcely a doubt as to its identity with the Ettone of Domesday. On the west side of the parish there is sufficient hilly or downland, (not enclosed till the begining of the present century,) to explain the final syllable of the name of Ethandun.1 Such being the probable position of the Danes, it would only be natural for Alfred in advancing from the south, to leave Chippenham itself on the east, and to take the road by Corsham and Biddeston, which would bring him directly in front of the Danish force. The situation of Bury Wood camp is readily reconciled with the narrative of the historians, approached as it is from the south by a gradual ascent, and presenting a level surface on that side. Horses and cattle would here have found pasture, and Alfred could advantageously have besieged the Danes, who would not here, as at Bratton, command a ready egress in the opposite direction.

Note 1. The only other mention of Ethandun is, we believe, in the will of the great Alfred. We may conjecture that he had purchased an estate on this spot, as a memorial of his signal victory; for he bequeaths one of this name, along with other estates and manors, to his wife, the Queen Ealhswith.

In a question of this kind, demonstrative proof is not to be expected; but, granting what has been advanced, all the rest follows clearly enough; — the desperate battle at Ettone-dun, — the flight and slaughter at the ford of the Avon, in the valley below, — and the pursuit to the hill fortress of Bury Wood camp, where the booty was taken, and where, for fourteen days, the miserable and vanquished Danes were shut up and besieged by "England's darling," the victorious Alfred.1

Note 1. There are two other views, as to the site of the battle of Ethandun, which may be briefly referred to. First, that of Mr. J. M. Moffat2, who adopts Whitaker's view as to the Æcglea of the chronicle being at Iley or Highley, near Melksham, and assigns the battle to a spot called "Woeful Danes Bottom," near Minchinhampton, in Gloucestershire, which town is enclosed by a large entrenched camp, popularly termed Danish. This, however, would give near thirty miles for the third day's march; and the place is, also, too far from Chippenham, being twenty mUes to the north. Altogether this view seems untenable; though the spot having this peculiar name, is likely enoiigh to have been the scene of some bloody encounter with the Danes. There were various other battles and skirmishes, between them and the Saxons, in this part of England, as well late in the ninth, as early in the eleventh century; and among the latter, the celebrated battle of Sccorstan, (Shirestones?) between Canute and Edmund Ironside. "With this, possibly, some further combat near Minchinhampton may have been connected.

Second, that of Mr. Lysons3, who, on the authority of Dr. Beke, professor of Modem History at Oxford, places Ethandun at Eddington or Hcdington, Hungerford, in Berkshire, and Æcglea in the same neighbourhood. This would give forty miles as the distance from Egbryght's stane, across the whole of Wiltshire, for the second day's march. This view seems, of all suggested, the most improbable.

Note 2. See "Graphic Illustrator," 1834, p. 106.

Noet 3. "Magna Britannia, Berkshire," 1813, p. 162.

Dismissing this great event, and returning to the minor question with which we were occupied, the place of Hubba's death and burial, it may be worth while to inquire how the notion of his having fallen, and being interred near Chippenham, arose. All the CO temporary and earliest writers are, as has been shewn, silent on this point; but what they do state is not inconsistent with the assertion of some later authorities, as to his having met his death at Cynuit in Devonshire. The first author, who connects the death of Hubba with Chippenham, is one of late date, John Brompton, Abbot of Jervaulx in Yorkshire, whose chronicle, compiled at the end of the 14th century, is of but little authority, though as the learned Dr. Lappenberg tells us, it is too often appealed to. Brompton places these events under the year 873, four or five years before their real date. He does not, however, connect them with the great battle of Ethandim, which he places under the year 877. He describes the Danes as going from Exeter to Chippenham, and being pursued by Alfred; who, after slaying Hubba, Inguar, and Bruen Bocard, is at last defeated. "The Danes," says Brompton, "finding the body of Hubba among the slain, interred it with great lamentations, raising over it a mound which they called Hubbelow, which place is so called to this day, and is in Devonshire."1 The discrepancies of this narrative of Brompton, are sufficiently apparent, and he is commented on, by the learned Spelman, as being inconsistent with himself, and in opposition to other historians.2 Caxton, in his chronicle, the earliest printed History of England, (1480,) has in this passage, copied Brompton, or Brompton's authority, almost verbatim3 and Stow, writing a century later, follows him in the main circumstances; though they both differ so far as to represent the Danes as reaching Chippenham, not from Exeter, but from Eeading; and in describing the battle they place at Chippenham, as following immediately that of Æscesdun, (a.d. 871.)4 Caxton concludes his narrative with the statement of Brompton, that Hubbaslowe is in Devonshire; whilst Stow omits this; perhaps from perceiving the improbability of the body of Hubba being carried from Chippenham to Devonshire for interment. Hence the reader of Stow's Chronicle might naturally conclude, with Aubrey and Sir Charles Snell, that the site of this barrow was at or near Chippenham.

Note 1. "Decem Scriptores," Twysden, 1652, p. 1809.

Note 2. "Vita Ælfredi," 1678, p. 31.

Note 3. Caxton's Chronicle is said to have had for its basis the Chronicle of Douglas of Glastonbury, a writer like Brompton of the foui'teenth century, but whose chronicle has not been printed. Douglas and Brompton, for the period before us, both seem to have formed thek chronicles on the basis of the Norman Gaimar, as the names disfigured like those in Gaimar, clearly shew the use of a Norman authority. See Laippenberg, "Anglo-Saxons," Lit. Int., p. lix, lxii; also "Mon. Hist. Brit." Gen. Int. p. 3.

Note 4. Dr. Pauli, referring to this supposed battle at Chippenham, says, "no older historical work (than that of Brompton) contains the slightest aUusiou to such an event; and Brompton's account, as is so often the case with him, is founded simply on a mistake of the dates, and the conseijuent confusion of facts." "Life of Alfred," 1852, p. 163. From Brompton, seems clearly to have been derived the narrative of these events to be found in Hardyng's "Metrical Chronicle," written about the middle of the fifteenth century, (see "Hardyng," by Sir H. Ellis, 1812, p. 201;) and also that in the "Soala Chronica," written probably in the same century, and printed in Leland's "Collectanea." "After they fought (at) Chipenham, and there was Hubba slayne, and a great Hepe of stones layed coppid up where he was buried. (Hubbeslaw.)" (See Lelaud, "Collectanea," vol. I, part 2, pp. 509. 521.)

John Brompton was probably led into error, as to these events, by a careless reading of the Metrical Chronicle of Geoffrey Gaimar, written about the middle of the 12th century, in the Norman-French of that day, and designed for the use of the then lords of England. Brompton seems certainly to have had Gaimar before him, when he wrote the passage referred to, as the words of both writers are, to a great extent, identical. Gaimar, in recoimting the events of the year 878, speaks of the arrival of the Danes at Chippenham, and of their ravages in Wessex. He then goes on to describe the events at Cynuit, though he does not allude to that place by name, and does not clearly distinguish the Danish force under Guthrum, from that under Hynguar and Hubba. This may probably have led Brompton to confound both events and places.1 Gaimar's narrative is important from containing the earliest mention of Hubba's death, as occurring in Devonshire, and naming the "wood of Pene" as the spot where he fell.

"Un frere Iware e Haldene

Eu fu oscis el bois de Pene;

Ubbe out a nun un mal fesant:

Sur li fircnt hoge mult grant

Li Daneis, quant I'ourent trove.

Ubbelawe, I'unt apele

La hoge est en Devcncschire:


Conquis i fu le gumfanun

Ubbe, ke Raven out nun."2

Note 1. The learned Dr, Pauli himself seems to have mis-read Gaimar in this passage, when he cites his narrative as authority for Hubba's fall before Chippenham. Loc. Cit., p. 180.

Note 2. Gaimar, line 3147.

The exact site of Cynuit, where the Danes under the "brother of Hynguar" were defeated, and where Hubba doubtless fell, is not known. Camden, however, unhesitatingly places it on the north coast of Devon, near where the Taw and Torridge fall into the sea. "On this coast," says he, "there was a castle of that name, (Kinwith) where Hubba the Dane, who had so frequently ravaged England, died of his wounds. The place was ever since called by our historians Hubbestow."1 Risdon, a cotemporary of Camden, is still more precise in his statement respecting "the Castle of Kenwith, where," he says, "the Danes where so valiantly repulsed, that they lost 1200 men, with their captain, Hubba. After which their overthrow, they buried him on the shore; and, according to the manner of northern nations, piled on him a heape of copped stones, as a trophy to his memorial; whereof the place took to name Hubbastone. And though the stones were long since swept away by the sea's incroaching, the name still remaineth on the strand near Appledore, as I conjecture; for more than the shadow, yea, even the very substance, with small alteration, being to this day known by the name of Whibblestone. This is in the parish of Northam." Risdon further conjectures that the Castle of Kenwith itself may have been an [earthen?] fort, not far from Appledore, called Hennaborough. In the largest modern maps of Devon, including that of the ordnance survey, no such sites as Whibblestone or Hennaborough are marked.

Note 1. "Britannia," (Ed. 1806,) vol. I, p. 38.

Gaimar's statement that Hubba fell in the "wood of Pene," demands the attention of the topographers of Devonshire, in their search for Cynuit. The fortress itself was almost certainly an earthwork; for Asser, who had seen it, says that it was "imfortified except that it had walls after our fashion, though the spot by nature was most secure on all sides except the east."2 Asser was a Briton, writing for the use of Britons, and his phrase "walls after our fashion," most probably refers to the earthen ramparts, such as the Britons of Wales at that period chiefly relied on, in their defensive works. Another statement of Asser, that there was no spring or water near the fortress, may assist topographers in their identification of the precise spot.

Note 2. "Arcem imparatam atqxie omnino inununitam, nisi quod moenia nostro more erecta solummodo haberet."

Since the above was written, we have seen a paper, by Mr. R. S. Vidal1, who early in the present century examined, what appear to have been the sites indicated by Risdon two centuries before, though without acknowledging the source from whence he doubtless obtained this information. The site of Hennaborough, this writer says, is about a mile to the north west of Bideford, and consequently little more than two miles to the south of Appledore, and on the west bank of the Torridge. Here, he tells us, is a small hill rising with an abrupt acclivity on all sides except the east, where it is connected, by a sort of isthmus, with some neighbouring high ground. The hill, now covered with trees, is said to have traces of an earthwork on the north and west sides. Old people said that the name was formerly Henniborough or Henni castle; that of a house close by, more recently called Hengist farm, seems only to be a fanciful corruption of the same designation. At the foot of the hill, are two streamlets which unite on the south-west side, but which it is conjectured may have had a different course and outlet; or may have formed a mere swamp, a thousand years ago, in the age of Alfred. On the high ground to the east of Henniborough, is a place called Silford Moor, where, Mr. Vidal says, are traces of an earthwork, apparently unfinished; which he thinks may have been an entrenchment formed by the Danes, when they besieged the Saxons at this spot. As regards Whibblestone, he was, after much enquiry, brought to a place "on the beach, a small way above the town," where was, "a rough slab of rock, about four feet in length, by three wide, lying on the open shore, but sunk nearly on a level with the surface." About two-thirds of the distance between Henniborough and Whibblcston, is a spot still called "Bloody corner," where Mr, Vidal thinks the final and decisive struggle took place, and where, we may add, Hubba possibly was slain.

Note 1. "Archæologia," vol. XV, p. 198.

More than enough has perhaps been said, to shew that the Lanhill tumulus, was not the grave of Hubba; and, it may be added, that it is not probable there ever was any real local tradition to that effect; though at first, on reading Aubrey's narrative, this might perhaps be thought. The fact appears to be, that Aubrey, and his friend Sir Charles Snell, and perhaps Anthony A'Wood, finding, in some very uncritical chroniclers and historians, the statement that Hubba fell near Chippenham, and was buried there under a heap of stones, looked roimd for some barrow in the neighbourhood, which might be assigned as his probable grave. The tumulus at Lanhill, now a defaced and irregular heap, was in Aubrey's days, (as proved by the sketch of it, in his Monumenta Britannica,) a conspicuous mound, and is situated not more than between two or three miles to the west of Slaughterford, where there was a genuine tradition of a great battle with the Danes. AVith no better grounds probably than these, Sir Charles Snell, who lived in the neighbourhood, seems to have pronounced this barrow to be Hubbaslowe. In such ways, do we find what may be called spui'ious traditions arising even in the present day; which are much more difiicult to deal with, and contain generally less truth than the genuine traditions of the vulgar. Had Hubba even fallen near Chippenham, it is hardly probable, that after so complete a defeat, his countrymen would have raised anj^ great tumulus over him. We have, however, seen good reasons for concluding that this barrow is of much greater antiquity than the time of the Danes in England; and that it must be attributed to some of the earliest inhabitants of our country, and to a tribe whose history is lost in remote antiquity.1

Note 1. Since the foregoing pages were struck off, the writer has seen an anonymous essay, entitled "Cursory Notes as to the Defence of Wessex, a.d. 851-878," in which the events considered in the foregoing paper are discussed at considerable length and with much ability. The essay deserves attention, in a critical and topographical point of view, though in placing Ethandun, (after Milner) at Heddington, near Calne, the author has adopted, to say the least, one of the less probable conclusions. See "Niagara, Jephthah, Remarks upon the Defence of Wessex, by Alfred the Great," &c. Brewster and West, 1848.

Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine 1910 V36 Pages 300-310. In June last (1909) a fine sepulchral chamber was discovered in the stone-built long barrow at Lanhill, near Chippenham, Wilts.

This once fine barrow was partially excavated by Dr. Thurnam in 1855, when he discovered what he believed to be the remains of two cists, both of which seem to have been previously opened and ruined.1 Until this summer the barrow seems to have been little, if at all, disturbed since that date, and the description of its appearance then applies to it equally well to-day. "At present the mound," Dr. Thurnam wrote, "has the appearance of several irregular hillocks, in part grown over with thorns and briars, resembling somewhat the site of an old quarry." The barrow has, indeed, from time to time been used as a quarry, and it is a matter of difficulty to recognise the remnants of a long barrow in the few more or less detached hillocks that now remain.

Some stone being needed to repair the floor of the cowyards of Lanhill Farm, the barrow was attacked this summer at a hitherto undisturbed section on the south side of the mound.

Note 1. Wilts Arch. Mag., vol. iii., p. 67. This barrow is sometimes called "Hubba's Low."