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Title: Byways in British Archaeology
Author: Johnson, Walter
Language: English
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                          BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGY

                      CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
                       London: FETTER·LANE, E.C.
                          C. F. CLAY, MANAGER


                    Edinburgh: 100, Princes Street
                       Berlin: A. ASHER AND CO.
                       Leipzig: F. A. BROCKHAUS
                     New York: G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS
             Bombay and Calcutta: MACMILLAN AND CO., LTD.

                         _All rights reserved_



                          BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGY


                        WALTER JOHNSON, F.G.S.
                     AUTHOR OF _FOLK-MEMORY_, ETC.

                        at the University Press

                      PRINTED BY JOHN CLAY, M.A.
                        AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS


The following chapters, though superficially presenting the appearance
of disconnected essays, really possess a strong bond of continuity.
Running through the whole, implied, where not actually expressed, will
be found an insistence on the principle which, in a former work, I
ventured to call folk-memory. This folk-memory--unconsciously, for the
most part, but sometimes with open ceremony--keeps alive those popular
beliefs and practices which are individually called survivals. With some
of these legacies from the past the present volume deals.

To a large extent the studies are connected with the church and
churchyard. The sections which treat of pagan sites, orientation, and
burial customs, embody the results of observations relating to some
hundreds of buildings in all parts of England and Wales. The chapters on
“The Folk-Lore of the Cardinal Points” and “The Labour’d Ox” partially,
at least, break virgin soil. In “The Churchyard Yew” are set down
inferences drawn from many years of investigation, the literary side of
which has been rendered difficult by the existence, in various modern
works, of unfounded statements and hypothetical references. The
remainder of the book treats of somewhat more familiar themes, though it
is hoped that fresh outlooks are suggested.

Since some of the matters here brought forward have been, and indeed
still are, provocative of keen, and even heated controversy, to
anticipate agreement with all the conclusions would be sheer folly.
Nevertheless, it may be claimed that the facts collected have been
carefully sifted, the references conscientiously verified, and the
opposing theories honestly presented.

To the multitude of friends who have rendered true service either by
supplying information or in preparing the illustrations, most grateful
thanks are expressed. Acknowledgements of all such help are recorded in
due place, but special recognition must be made of the expert assistance
of Mr Sydney Harrowing, who has borne the chief burden in illustrating
the volume. To Miss Nora Mansell thanks are tendered for the drawing of
Gumfreston church (Fig. 26). Fig. 93 is copied from a sketch prepared by
Mr C. G. Carter, of Louth. Messrs Frank Cowley and F. J. Bennett,
F.G.S., have kindly permitted the reproduction of an original painting
(Fig. 87). Mr Worthington G. Smith, F.L.S., has courteously allowed
Figs. 59 and 60 to be taken from _Man, the Primeval Savage_; Fig. 80 is
copied by the consent of Professor R. S. Lull; and Figs. 4, 22 and 88
appear by the kindness of Mr David Sydenham, the Rev. Percival Saben,
M.A., and the British Archaeological Association respectively. Dr W.
Heneage Legge and Messrs G. Allen and Sons have granted the use of the
block for Fig. 92, while Figs. 84 and 85 were photographed from a
horseshoe lent by the Rev. Hastings M. Neville, B.A., of Ford,

Many of the photographs were taken by Mr Edward Yates, who allowed free
choice to be made from his large collection, but the following ladies
and gentlemen have also assisted: Mr O. F. Bailey, Mr Alexander Barbour,
Mr J. G. V. Dawson, Mr E. W. Filkins, Miss Truda Hutchinson, Mrs W.
Johnson, Mr A. L. Leach, F.G.S., Mr Douglas Leighton, Mr P. McIntyre,
F.G.S., Mr Llewellyn Treacher, F.G.S., Mr W. C. Walker, Mr E. C. Youens,
Mr G. W. Young, F.G.S., F.Z.S., and Mr W. Plomer Young. Permission to
use photographs has also been granted by Mr James Cheetham of Lewes,
Messrs Thos. B. Latchmore and Son, Hitchin, Mr W. Wiseman, Corfe Castle,
the _Grimsby Telegraph_ Company, and the Watford Engraving Company.

                                                                  W. J.

_January, 1912_



I. CHURCHES ON PAGAN SITES                                             1

II. CHURCHES ON PAGAN SITES (_continued_)                             51

III. THE SECULAR USES OF THE CHURCH FABRIC                           101

IV. THE SECULAR USES OF THE CHURCH FABRIC (_continued_)              145

V. THE ORIENTATION OF CHURCHES                                       205

VI. THE ORIENTATION OF GRAVES                                        243

VII. SURVIVALS IN BURIAL CUSTOMS                                     268

VIII. THE FOLK-LORE OF THE CARDINAL POINTS                           324

IX. THE CHURCHYARD YEW                                               360

X. THE CULT OF THE HORSE                                             408

XI. “THE LABOUR’D OX”                                                452

XII. RETROSPECT                                                      488

     ADDENDA                                                         495

     INDEX                                                           498


FIG.                                                                PAGE

1. Roman altar, St Swithin’s, Lincoln. (_Phot._ Mr W. Plomer
Young)                                                                 6

2. Roman tesserae, St Saviour’s Cathedral, Southwark. (_Phot._ Mr W.
Plomer Young)                                                          8

3. Interior of Brixworth church, Northampton. (_Phot._ Mr O. F.
Bailey)                                                               10

4. Ruins of Knowlton church, Dorset. (From Warne’s _Ancient Dorset_, by
permission)                                                           14

5. Pharos, Dover Castle. (Bloxam’s _Gothic Eccles. Architecture_)     19

6. Ancient foundations at Lyminge church, Kent. (_Phot._ Mr Edward
Yates)                                                                21

7. Portion of wall, St Martin’s church, Canterbury. (_Phot._ Mr Edward
Yates)                                                                22

8. The Agglestone, Studland, Dorset. (_Phot._ Mr W. C. Walker)        35

9. Ruins of Maplescombe church, Kent. (_Phot._ Mr E. W. Filkins)      39

10. Sketch plan of Maplescombe ruins. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)           39

11. Rudstone church and monolith. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)               44

12. The Cove, Stanton Drew, Somerset. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)           47

13. Corfe Castle, as it appeared in 1643. (_Phot._ from an old print,
Mr W. Wiseman, Corfe Castle)                                          53

14. Ruins of Corfe Castle. (_Phot._ Mr Edward Yates)                  53

15. The Mount, Great Canfield, Essex. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)           54

16. Chapel, Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire. (_Phot._ Mr Edward
Yates)                                                                58

17. Pirton church and Toot Hill, Hertfordshire, from the South-East.
(_Phot._ Messrs Thomas B. Latchmore and Son, Hitchin)                 60

18. Pirton church and Toot Hill, Hertfordshire, from the South-West.
(_Phot._ Messrs Thomas B. Latchmore and Son, Hitchin)                 61

19. Toot Hill, Little Coates, Lincolnshire. (_Phot._ the _Grimsby
Telegraph_ Company)                                                   72

20. Mound, Berwick churchyard, Sussex. (_Phot._ Mrs W. Johnson)       75

21. Chislehurst church and mound, as it appeared c. A.D. 1800. (From D.
Lyson’s _Environs of London_, 1795-1800)                              77

22. Urns, found near Alphamstone church, Essex. (By the courtesy of the
Rev. Percival Saben, M.A.)                                            85

23. Tower of Bishopstone church, Sussex. (_Phot._ Mrs W.
Johnson)                                                             102

24. Tower of Scartho church, Lincolnshire. (_Phot._ the _Grimsby
Telegraph_ Company)                                                  109

25. Oystermouth church, Glamorganshire. (From _Archaeologia
Cambrensis_, N.S. I. 1850)                                           112

26. Gumfreston church, Pembrokeshire. (Miss Nora Mansell)            114

27. Corner tower, Nunney Castle, Somerset. (_Phot._ Mr W. C.
Walker)                                                              116

28. Round tower, Devenish, Fermanagh. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)          119

29. Rushmere church, Suffolk. (_Phot._ Mr Edward Yates)              124

30. Tower of Piddinghoe church, Sussex. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)        125

31. East Dean church, Sussex. (_Phot._ Mrs W. Johnson)               126

32. St Aldhelm’s chapel, St Alban’s Head, Dorset. (_Phot._ Mr Edward
Yates)                                                               128

33. Cheriton church, Kent. (_Phot._ Mr Edward Yates)                 129

34. St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall. (_Phot._ Mr Edward Yates)          130

35. Distant view of St Martha’s chapel, near Guildford. (_Phot._ Mr
Douglas Leighton)                                                    132

36. Squint, Leatherhead church, Surrey. (_Phot._ Mr Edward
Yates)                                                               152

37. Porch of Wotton church, Surrey. (_Phot._ Mr G. W. Young,
F.G.S.)                                                              153

38. Dial stone, Bishopstone church, Sussex. (_Phot._ Mr Edward
Yates)                                                               163

39. Enlargement of Bishopstone dial. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)           164

40. Parish stocks, Shalford, Surrey. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)           166

41. Church chest and dog tongs, Llanelian, Denbigh. (_Phot._ Mr Edward
Yates)                                                               169

42. Church chest, Rainham, Essex. (_Phot._ Mr Edward Yates)          169

43. Fourteenth century barn, Bradford-on-Avon. (_Phot._ Mr W. C.
Walker)                                                              171

44. Interior of barn, Bradford-on-Avon. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)        172

45. Mediaeval Clergy House, Alfriston, Sussex. (_Phot._ Mr Edward
Yates)                                                               176

46. Mediaeval Parsonage House, West Dean, Sussex. (_Phot._ Mr Edward
Yates)                                                               177

47. Church House, or Guild Hall, Lincoln. (_Phot._ Mr W. Plomer
Young)                                                               178

48. Morris dancers (Strutt’s _Book of Sports_). (Mr Sydney
Harrowing)                                                           184

49. Dovecot, Berwick Court, Sussex. (_Phot._ Mr Edward Yates)        189

50. “Canute’s knee-bone,” Canewdon church, Essex. (Watford Engraving
Company)                                                             200

51. Tyndall’s grave in Haslemere churchyard, Surrey. (_Phot._ Miss
Truda Hutchinson)                                                    265

52. Round barrow, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. (_Phot._ Mr Llewellyn
Treacher, F.G.S.)                                                    266

53. Inscribed cross, Sancreed, Cornwall. (_Phot._ Mr Edward
Yates)                                                               269

54. Mediaeval stone coffins. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)                   272

55. Roman and Bronze Age coffins. (From T. Wright’s _The Celt, the
Roman and the Saxon_.) (Mr Sydney Harrowing)                         273

56. Roman coffin of lead. (T. Wright)                                273

57. Grave celt, Puy-de-Dôme. (_Phot._ Mr J. G. V. Dawson)            298

58. Necklaces found in British barrows. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)        300

59. Skeletons of woman and child, Dunstable Downs. (By the kind
permission of Mr Worthington G. Smith, F.L.S.)                       304

60. Fossil sponges (_Porosphaera_) artificially modified for the
purpose of suspension. (By the kind permission of Mr Worthington G.
Smith, F.L.S.)                                                       306

61. The contents of a Roman sepulchral chest. (From T. Wright’s _The
Celt, the Roman, and the Saxon_)                                     314

62. Churchyard cross, Bakewell, Derbyshire. (_Phot._ Mr W. Plomer
Young)                                                               329

63. Capitals, Seaford church, Sussex. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)          330

64. Low side window, Tatsfield church, Surrey. (_Phot._ Mr Edward
Yates)                                                               331

65. Devil’s Door, Worth church, Sussex. (_Phot._ Mr Edward
Yates)                                                               332

66. Gateway, St Stephen’s, Coleman Street, London. (_Phot._ Mr W.
Plomer Young)                                                        336

67. Norham churchyard, Northumberland. (_Phot._ Mr Alexander
Barbour)                                                             345

68. Woldingham church, Surrey, as it appeared in A.D. 1809. (Manning
and Bray, _Hist. and Antiq. of Surrey_)                              356

69. Transverse section of yew. (_Phot._ Mr J. G. V. Dawson)          366

70. Vertical tangential section of yew. (_Phot._ Mr J. G. V.
Dawson)                                                              367

71. Yew, Tandridge churchyard, Surrey. (_Phot._ Mr W. Plomer
Young)                                                               370

72. Yew, Crowhurst churchyard, Surrey. (_Phot._ Mr W. Plomer
Young)                                                               378

73. Yew, Chipstead churchyard, Surrey. (_Phot._ Mr W. Plomer
Young)                                                               379

74. Yew, Mells churchyard, Somerset. (_Phot._ Mr W. C. Walker)       380

75. Yew, Hambledon churchyard, Surrey. (_Phot._ Mr W. Plomer
Young)                                                               381

76. Shooting birds with the cross-bow. (Strutt’s _Book of
Sports_)                                                             386

77. Shooting at the butts with the cross-bow. (_Book of Sports_)     386

78. Saxon bow and arrow. (_Book of Sports_)                          387

79. Saxon archers with long-bows. (_Book of Sports_)                 388

80. The ancestry of the horse. (By the courtesy of Professor R. S.
Lull)                                                                410

81. Cave man’s drawings of the horse. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)          412

82. Prejevalski’s horse, Zoological Gardens, London. (_Phot._ Mr J. G.
V. Dawson)                                                           413

83. Ancient horseshoes. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)                        425

84. Round horseshoe, Ford, Northumberland. Lower surface. (_Phot._
Mrs W. Johnson, from a specimen kindly lent by the Rev. Hastings M.
Neville, B.A.)                                                       427

85. Round horseshoe. Upper surface. (_Phot._ Mrs W. Johnson)         427

86. Hippo-sandal, Darenth, Kent. (_Phot._ Mr E. C. Youens,
Dartford)                                                            429

87. Capturing the White Horse. (_Phot._ from painting by Mr Frank
Cowley)                                                              435

88. Acoustic jars. (By the courtesy of the British Archaeological
Association)                                                         450

89. Ploughing in the eleventh century. (Anglo-Saxon Calendar, after
Strutt)                                                              459

90. Sussex oxen, turning the headland. (_Phot._ Mr James Cheetham,
Lewes)                                                               460

91. Ploughing on the Sussex Downs: a team of four. (_Phot._ Mr James
Cheetham, Lewes)                                                     461

92. Ox-yoke, Sussex. (By the kind permission of Dr W. Heneage Legge and
Messrs George Allen and Sons)                                        462

93. Ox-yoke, Gayton-le-Wold, Lincolnshire. (Mr Sydney Harrowing, from a
sketch kindly prepared by Mr C. G. Carter, Louth)                    462

94. Old plough and horse-rake, Sussex. (_Phot._ Mr James Cheetham,
Lewes)                                                               463

95. Roman and Saxon ploughmen. After Wright and Strutt. (Mr Sydney
Harrowing)                                                           464

96. Ox-shoes and nail. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)                         469

97. Skulls of British oxen. (Mr Sydney Harrowing)                    476

98. Chartley bull, Zoological Gardens, London. (_Phot._ Mr J. G. V.
Dawson)                                                              478

99. Highland cattle. (_Phot._ Mr P. McIntyre, F.G.S.)                480


Page 399, line 21. For _taxa_ read _taxo_.



Many years ago, the commanding position which the village church
frequently occupies forced itself upon the attention of the writer. As
will be shown hereafter, the builders, for some cogent reason, which may
yet be determined, chose a spot having considerable natural advantages
with respect to strength and security, and there they erected their
temple. These geographical observations would not alone have been
sufficient to evoke a general theory, had not other facts gradually come
into view. One of these facts was the frequent association of the church
with earthworks, tumuli, and similar relics of antiquity, and it was
this conjunction which raised the inquiry whether the relative positions
could, in all cases, be merely accidental. A closer and more prolonged
study, involving much personal investigation, together with a review of
many isolated fragments of archaeological literature, led to the
conclusion, almost irrefutable, as it now appears, that many of our
churches stand on pagan sites. A secondary deduction from the observed
facts was the probability that, in some cases, there has been almost
continuous site-occupancy since the first Christian church was reared.

During the inspection, numbers of records, based on imperfect knowledge
or on speculations of the earlier antiquaries, have had to be discarded;
in other instances the test has been successfully borne. The
presentation of the evidence, with its length of detail, may be somewhat
wearisome to the reader, who may, however, console himself with the
thought that he has escaped at least a moiety of the mass which has been
winnowed. Furthermore, one may recall the truth set forth by Professor
E. B. Tylor when apologizing for wealth of detail in stating a case:
“The English mind, not readily swayed by rhetoric, moves freely under
the pressure of facts[1].” One may, for a moment, arouse interest by a
new hypothesis, but it is only by the accumulation of facts that public
opinion is perceptibly influenced in the end.

Viewed strictly, every Christian church was originally built on a pagan
site, but we will limit the meaning of the adjective so that it shall
apply to those churches which were erected, not on virgin soil, but on
some spot once devoted to heathen worship, whether beneath a roof or
under the open sky. This definition would narrow the scope of the
inquiry; nevertheless, to arrive at a clear decision we shall have to
survey the whole question from pre-Roman times onward.

Our path will be greatly cleared if we recognize, and remember--what is
too commonly forgotten--that there was a Christian church in Britain
long before the mission of Augustine in A.D. 597. Apart from legends,
and documents of doubtful authenticity, some writers claim to have
proved that British Christianity was well developed before the close of
the second century of our era[2]. Other authorities assert that the
evidence for the second century is unhistorical, and that the first
genuine reference to Christians in Britain is made by Tertullian (c.
A.D. 208)[3]. However this may be--and the question of the exact date of
the introduction is foreign to our present study--there is unanimity as
to the existence of a strong British Church soon after the death of
Constantine (A.D. 337). It is even stated that, at the date just
mentioned, Britain was as fully Christian as any country in Europe[4].
At any rate, it is beyond dispute that, in A.D. 314, the British Church
was represented at the Council of Arles, in France, by three bishops,
together with a priest and a deacon[5]. Certain writers go further, and
contend that, before Britain was cut off from the Empire, the Church had
a vigorous corporate life of its own[6]. How long this organization
endured, and to what extent it was weakened or shattered by the shock of
the Teutonic invasion, are more debateable subjects. It is possible,
however, that a remnant of churchmen survived to greet the advent of
Augustine[7]. This only must be said, that the existence of any
continuity of Christian tradition, however slight, might render the task
of deciding what is a pagan site more difficult. Under the influence of
an unbroken tradition, churches might be constantly rebuilt on the old
foundations; hence, if this assumption be made, additional testimony
would be necessary in order to establish the theory that any original
structure was set up by the heathen. If such evidence were lacking, the
successive buildings would simply strengthen the hypothesis of
continuity of Christian worship, but would leave untouched the problem
of heathen sites.

The first problem to be attacked, then, concerns the existence of
Christian churches during the Roman period, and the after-history of
such buildings. Do any of these churches remain to us? The available
evidence seems to show that, in outlying districts, at least, churches
were constructed of wattle, and, of these structures, not a wrack could
possibly have persisted until the present day. In the cities, more
durable materials, limestone, flint, chalk, and baked tiles, would be
employed, and there is some likelihood that portions of buildings so
constructed would successfully resist the ravages of vandals and the
fury of storms. Now, it is singular that the churches which will least
stand the critical test of the architect and the antiquary with respect
to a Roman origin, are precisely those which the popular vote declares
to belong to that period. The churches thus misunderstood are those
which have large quantities of undoubted Roman materials built into
their walls. The catalogue is of formidable length, but may be soon
dismissed after a few typical examples have been noticed. The walls of
the cathedral church of St Albans contain abundance of Roman material,
and a continuity of buildings, dating from the Roman occupation, has
therefore been hastily assumed. Bede, it is true, relates that a church
was built over the grave of St Alban at Verulam[8], and it is possible
that the spot is now covered by the cathedral, but we cannot wisely go
beyond this, especially when we remember how plentiful were the Roman
materials close at hand. The fact remains: from the time of the erection
of the memorial church to the founding of the monastery in A.D. 793, we
have an interval which is unbridged by trustworthy testimony. A
generation ago, Mr Roach Smith, a most sagacious observer, compiled a
list of Kentish churches which he thought might be probable restorations
of pre-Saxon structures[9]. In all of these Roman materials were found.
Some of the churches, however, like those of Reculver and Lyminge, had
peculiarities of site, and these examples will be noted later. Among the
Kentish churches whose “Romanity,” as the early antiquaries would phrase
it, must be discredited, are those of Burham, Leeds, Southfleet, and
Lower Halstow. Yet the last-named church is chiefly built of Roman
spoil. The “Garden County” also yields Cuxton[10] and St Paul’s Cray,
with many another church inwrought with Roman tiles. Crossing the Thames
estuary, we find, according to Mr Guy Maynard’s computation, thirty-five
Essex churches which have Roman tiles in their walls[11]. A writer in
the _Athenaeum_, commenting on this list, gives a higher figure, and
asserts that Essex contains at least sixty such churches[12]. We may
safely infer from these facts that Roman ruins existed in the
neighbourhood of each of the sites at the time when the walls were
built. Any further conclusion must be viewed with suspicion, unless
Roman remains are discovered beneath the buildings. The “argument from
silence” is beset with peril in any department of archaeology. Moreover,
some of the churches in the list--which might be greatly
extended--belong, as Professor Baldwin Brown has observed, to purely
Mediaeval settlements, and consequently have little evidential

We turn to a different class of churches--those which occupy the sites
of Roman villas. The importance of these examples rests on the
probability that some of the wealthier Roman converts would allow their
dwelling-houses to be consecrated for Christian worship. From a small
reception-room, arranged like an ordinary church, there might be
developed a Christian building, with chancel, nave, and aisles complete.
A scrap of testimony, slight though it be, favours this hypothesis. It
is the discovery, on a mosaic, among the ruins of a Roman villa at
Frampton, Dorsetshire, and again on a tile from the villa at Chedworth,
Gloucestershire, of examples of the Chi-Rho monogram[14]. This sacred
monogram has also been met with on such objects as bowls, seals, and
rings. Seeing that the symbol was not used in Rome before A.D. 312, its
presence in Britain cannot date earlier. On the other hand, remembering
that the Roman departure took place in A.D. 410, we can scarcely assign
the Chi-Rho to a later date. Mr J. Romilly Allen is therefore plainly
near the truth when he attributes the British examples to the late
fourth century[15].

The validity of the evidence afforded by the Chi-Rho, while
unquestionable so far as the existence of British Christianity is
concerned, is not decisive with respect to site-continuity. At the
outset, one demands that the monogram should be found in juxtaposition
with the later Christian churches built on older sites--not isolated
from such buildings. On the other hand, it would be passing strange if
a large number of churches came to be built by chance on, or adjacent
to, the areas once occupied by Roman villas, whether the confirmatory
Chi-Rho were discovered or not. If we consider the case of direct
continuity non-proven, and yet rule out the possibility of accident, a
choice of two theories seems to be presented. We might either suppose
that the church builders were keenly anxious to utilize ruined villas,
or that, believing those villas to have been centres of pagan
family-worship, deliberately chose to set foundation over foundation.
That this second alternative is not altogether fanciful will be seen
hereafter. A few examples of villa sites will now be given.


     FIG. 1. Roman altar (2nd century A.D.), discovered on the site of
     St Swithin’s church, Lincoln. Height, 3´; base, 1´ 9´´ × 1´´ 3´´.
     The altar is hewn from a single block of oolite. The inscription
     states that the altar was erected by Gaius Antistius Frontinus,
     “thrice curator.”

The churches of West Mersea, in Essex, and Wroxeter, in Salop, are
believed to stand on sites of Roman villas; a little contributory
testimony is afforded by the fact that the shaft of the font, in each
case, is fashioned from the drum of a Roman column[16]. In the case of
Wroxeter, however, the only tessellated pavement recorded by Professor
Haverfield was found a little to the north of the church. The conditions
are supposed to have been similar at Haydon and Chollerton, in
Northumberland, and at Great Salkeld, in Cumberland; in all of these
instances the fonts are said to be hollowed out of Roman altars[17].
During the rebuilding of St Swithin’s Church, Lincoln (A.D. 1880-88), a
Roman altar (Fig. 1) was discovered beneath the tower. The old fabric
belonged to the Decorated period, while the altar dates from the second
century of the Roman occupation. There is thus an intervening space of
more than a thousand years, and this gap cannot yet be actually bridged
over. At the deserted church of Widford, in Oxfordshire, portions of a
Roman tessellated pavement were found in the chancel[18].

Professor Seebohm, who closely studied the district around Hitchin, and
discovered strong proofs of unbroken occupation of village sites, gives
some interesting examples which bear on our subject. He thinks that the
church of Much Wymondley, near that town, stands within a Roman holding,
probably that of a retired veteran[19]. A Roman cemetery was discovered
hard by, and to the east of the church is a double “tumulus,” which
Professor Seebohm conjectured to be a “toot-hill,” or a terminal
mound[20]. These toot-hills will be again mentioned; meanwhile, we are
bound to notice that more recent investigators claim this particular
hillock as an early castle-mound. Nevertheless, it is stated that the
mound and its associated bailey-court have been


     FIG. 2. Pavement of red and white tesserae, in the south aisle of
     the choir, St Saviour’s Cathedral, Southwark. Found in the adjacent
     graveyard. (For a catalogue of the relics discovered under and near
     the building, see _Victoria Hist. of London_, 1909, I. p. 140.)

inserted into the corner of a larger (and presumably earlier)
rectangular work[21]. A Roman villa is recorded from a field near
Litlington churchyard, Cambridgeshire, and a Roman cemetery from a spot
a short distance away[22]. Other examples have been noted at, or near,
the churches of Woodchester and Tidenham, in Gloucestershire, and
Wingham, in Kent[23]. The first-named instance is the most instructive.
In the churchyard an inscribed pavement, 25 feet in diameter, was
uncovered, and near at hand, the ground plot of an extensive building
was traced. The neighbourhood of St Saviour’s Cathedral, Southwark, has
yielded quantities of Roman remains. A portion of a pavement is shown in
Fig. 2. Within the last two or three years, Roman pottery, and the upper
portion of an amphora, have been discovered while alterations were
being made. These relics may be seen in the south transept. Whether the
long list of “finds,” given in the _Victoria History of London_, justify
the old tradition of a pagan temple may be doubted, but, at least, the
former existence of a villa is indicated. A tessellated pavement was
discovered in the south transept of Southwell Cathedral, and Mr Francis
Bond conjectures that this relic may have belonged to a Romano-British
basilica which existed there in the third century. Did such a building
exist, the church which St Paulinus is believed to have founded on this
spot in the seventh century had a prototype, which dated four hundred
years earlier[24]. In his recent standard work on Westminster Abbey, Mr
Bond has also recorded the finding of a portion of a Roman wall, in
position, under the nave of the Abbey, and a Roman sarcophagus in the
northern part of the nave. Roach Smith alludes to foundations, probably
Roman, which were unbared at Chalk Church in Kent[25]. The Saxon church
of Bosham, Sussex, is another claimant for superposition on a Roman
villa[26], and the fine old Saxon building at Brixworth, Northants (Fig.
3), is a further example, although no part of the present structure is
older than the eighth century[27]. Our list is by no means exhausted. A
very fine mosaic floor, worked in seven colours, together with a bath
and other remains, were laid bare many years ago at Whatley House,
Somerset, just behind the ancient church of Whatley. When the church of
St Mary Major, Exeter, was being rebuilt in 1866, the Norman foundation
was seen to cover a Roman tessellated pavement[28]. Still more recently,
in 1906-11, during the process of underpinning Winchester Cathedral, the
workmen discovered Roman coins and tiles[29]. These remains may have had
no causal


     FIG. 3. Interior of Brixworth Church, Northampton. Chancel and
     eastern portion of nave. The Saxon arches are constructed of hard
     red Roman bricks or tiles, set edgewise. The arches spring from
     square, massive piers which have simple abaci. The materials were
     evidently obtained from some edifice previously in existence near
     the site of the church.

connection with the present building, or with any hypothetical
predecessor, yet the discovery was curious. We need have no desire to
strain the evidence. In such instances as Winchester and Wroxeter, Roman
ruins and Roman sites would be so plentiful, that no enterprising Saxon
builder would overlook the economical value of the spoils. Again, he
might unwittingly select an old site concealed by long-continued labours
of earthworms, and by natural agencies of weathering. Yet even this
admission will, in its turn, react if accepted too eagerly or too fully.
We are dealing, so far, primarily with the existence of early British
churches, and if we urge that old sites were re-occupied
unintentionally, because they lay hidden from view, we imply that, in
other cases, foundations hitherto undiscovered may rest beneath later
architectural monuments. In other words, the foundations of a pagan
temple may lie beneath a Mediaeval church. There may have been
continuity up to a certain date, and then a break; after which a new
builder started work over the forgotten floor. Seeing that most of the
Romano-British towns, at least, were continuously occupied since their
first establishment[30], and that, as already shown, old material was
intercalated between the courses of masonry in newer buildings, these
facts alone would be sufficient to account for the obliteration of the
earlier work[31].

Having now referred to the very doubtful instances of continuity
represented by fabrics in which there has been an adaptation of Roman
materials, and having glanced at those churches which stand on the sites
of earlier buildings, we turn to Christian edifices which have been
built adjacent to Roman camps. At present, we will consider those cases
in which there is actual contiguity, but only a suggestion of
purposiveness. The ivy-clad church of Ashtead, in Surrey, stands within
a rectangular earthwork, partially defaced, and the visitor will readily
detect Roman tiles in the walls of the chancel. At Rivenhall, in Essex,
tesserae and Roman pottery were dug up in the churchyard, and a villa
was unearthed in the neighbouring field. From the data available, one
cannot decide whether or not a camp is indicated[32]. In the same
county, we notice Stoke-by-Nayland, while Suffolk supplies us with the
camp Burghcastle--a most interesting example. St Furseus, or Fursey,
built a monastery at this spot, but there remains only the church, which
lies a little to the north of the Roman fortifications. Its walls
contain triple bands of flints, faced by Roman workmen, while vases and
potsherds have been discovered in the vicinity[33]. Squared flints of
Roman workmanship were also found at Caister by Norwich[34]. The church
of St Edmund, at the last-named village, was built by Mediaeval
architects at one corner of a Roman earthwork, which encloses an area of
34 acres. The present church, as Professor Haverfield points out, is
certainly not a Romano-British “sacellum” or temple[35], but, in the
absence of excavations, one cannot assert that no earlier ruins lie
buried underneath the edifice. The oft-quoted instance of Castle Acre,
also in Norfolk, must be dismissed as spurious. Professor Haverfield,
who has carefully examined the evidence, could find no proofs in support
of the tradition of a camp, though there was evidence of Roman
occupation in the neighbourhood[36]. Under the present section, however,
we must include Market Overton and Great Casterton in Rutland. The
church of the latter village is situated at the south-west angle of an
earthwork, presumably Roman, though of earlier construction than the
Roman road hard by[37]. At Market Overton, the church stands entirely
within a square Roman camp[38]. In the adjoining county of Lincolnshire,
we get examples at Caistor and Ancaster[39], places bearing tell-tale
names. The church of Horncastle is within a few yards of a Roman wall, a
portion of which remains visible above the land-surface[40]. Lincoln
Cathedral is built partly within and partly without a Roman camp[41].

In Durham, the church of Chester-le-Street, which contains some traces
of pre-Conquest work, was originally inside a Roman camp, now
unfortunately destroyed[42]. Ebchester Church, also in Durham, stands at
the south-western corner of the ancient Vindomora, and has a foundation
of large squared stones, but little can now be seen of the surrounding
fortifications[43]. While surveying the North of England, we notice
Moresby, near Whitehaven[44]. In Scotland, to mention but one case, we
have the Cistercian Abbey of Cupar-Angus, which was built, in A.D.
1164, within the boundaries of a Roman camp[45]. Returning to the south,
we discover, in the churchyard of St John’s-sub-Castro, at Lewes, a
small Roman camp, of which the vallum is still traceable[46].
Porchester, in Hampshire, is a square-walled fort which occupies an area
of 9 acres, and which encloses a Mediaeval keep and bailey-court at the
north-west corner, and a Mediaeval church and graveyard at the
south-west corner[47]. In like manner, the Norman church at Silchester
nestles within the celebrated Roman settlement. Here our list of
Christian churches placed within Roman camps must be curtailed, for we
have still to consider earthworks belonging to an earlier period. The
reason for separating the two classes of earthworks is, that those
churches which were reared within Roman camps may, probably, in some
cases, have replaced more primitive buildings, while those built inside
prehistoric forts most likely had no predecessors. In other words, we
shall have to search for different motives inducing the choice of the
two respective series of sites.

At the very threshold of the inquiry a marked difference is noticed: the
pre-Roman earthworks contained no building material to entice the
churchmen within their boundaries. Turning to individual examples, we
find a most instructive case at Knowlton or Knollton, Dorsetshire, four
miles south-west of Cranborne. Here, a ruined church built by Norman
labour, though not necessarily representing the first church reared on
the spot, stands within a round British earthwork (Fig. 4). The ditch,
or fosse, of the enclosure is situated on the inner side, as in the
renowned earthwork at Avebury, Wiltshire. The Saxon church at Avebury
dates in the main, perhaps, from the early tenth century, and stands
just outside the vallum. Some writers have inferred, from the presence
of the inner fosse, that these enclosures had religious, or, at least,
sepulchral associations. The Knowlton earthwork is one of a group, and
close by is a cluster of ancient, storm-beaten yews[48]. Such a
collocation, as will be seen in Chapter IX., is not without

[Illustration: FIG. 4. Ruins of Knowlton Church, Dorset, standing within
an ancient earthwork.]

Another dilapidated chapel, now used as a barn, is situated within the
oval camp of Chisbury, near Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire. This earthwork,
which has double, and in some parts treble, lines of trenches, is
described by Sir R. Colt Hoare as one of the finest specimens of
castrametation in England. One rampart is 45 feet in height. The
existing ruins represent a Decorated fabric which was dedicated to St
Martin, but Mr A. H. Allcroft, in his _Earthwork of England_, suggests
that a church was erected here after the drawn battle between Wessex and
Mercia in A.D. 675. On the hill above Standish Church, Gloucestershire,
is a somewhat notable camp. Although it is said that the ditches were
deepened during the Civil War, and although Roman coins have been dug up
in large numbers[49], it is conceived that the camp was originally
British. On the height just above Gunwalloe Church, Cornwall, is a
“cliff castle”--one belonging to the Group A, as defined by the Congress
of Archaeological Societies in 1903[50]. Such earthworks are
inaccessible along a portion of their boundaries, on account of the
presence of cliffs or water. The site of the church of St Dennis, also
in Cornwall, is associated with a “hill castle[51],” which is assigned
to the Group B. In this class, the earthwork follows the contour of the
hill. Another contoured camp, much disturbed and defaced, is situated on
St Anne’s Hill, near Midhurst Church, Sussex[52], while a small circular
fortification may be seen to the west of the churchyard of South
Moreton, Berkshire[53]. Coldred Church, Kent, was built actually within
a fortress, conjecturally of Romano-British date[54], though the
elevation of the earthwork is rather exceptional for that period, being
about 370 feet above the sea-level, and 50 feet above the valley towards
the west. Again, at Kenardington, also in Kent, an earthwork of unknown
age, now much mutilated[55], surrounded the graveyard and part of the
neighbouring fields.

The so-called Dane’s Camp (Group B) at Cholesbury, Bucks., 600 feet
above the sea-level, encircles the church of St Lawrence with its
embankment[56]. Another St Lawrence, at West Wycombe, in the same
county, is built inside a ring earthwork (Group B), which crowns the
hill. This fort, probably of British construction, is remarkable for its
double-terraced defences, and for the manner in which it commands three
converging valleys[57]. A somewhat similar example was once visible at
Brownsover, near Rugby, where, a century ago, the church and village
were enclosed within elaborate entrenchments. These represented a
fortress, constructed on a ridge which overlooked the valleys of the
Avon and the Swift. The fort was probably prehistoric, although a
cinerary urn, found in the churchyard, was identified as Roman.

The hill-village of Burpham, in Sussex, is clustered near an oblong
promontory fort (Class A) constructed on a tongue of land, around which
a loop is formed by the river Arun. A gigantic vallum and exterior
fosse cross the neck of the peninsula. The early Norman church of the
village stands but a few yards beyond an entrance breach in the northern
rampart. Mr A. H. Allcroft, pursuing the “method of exhaustions,”
declares the earthwork to be Danish, and Mr P. M. Johnston suggests that
the church occupies a pagan site. At all events the juxtaposition can
hardly be considered casual.

Immediately to the east of Hathersage churchyard, Derbyshire, may be
seen a simple circular earthwork, consisting of a high rampart with a
moat outside. It is classed by Dr J. C. Cox in the division C of the
scheme above-mentioned[58], namely, the division which embraces round
enclosures of a defensive character. An analogous earthwork adjoins the
churchyard of Tissington, also in Derbyshire[59].

Without pursuing this quest further, one or two pitfalls must be pointed
out. Entrenchments found near a parish church may sometimes represent
portions of the “ring fence” of a Mediaeval settlement; and the banks,
which once bore a hedge or palisade, might be hastily ascribed to an
earlier period. Mr Allcroft, in the work just mentioned, cites numerous
warning examples. Again, banks of boulder clay or glacial drift may
assume a false appearance of ridging, as if due to the work of man. To
glacial action I venture to assign the surface irregularities near
Ludborough Church, Lincolnshire, though they may represent the partially
erased banks of the Mediaeval village. Close by the neighbouring
churchyard of St Lawrence at Fulstow, one sees similar unevenness of the
ground, the most important hillock being perhaps a grave wherein were
buried some sixscore parishioners who died of the sweating sickness in
the early seventeenth century. Once more, the traces of earthwork,
military or agricultural, below the church of St Michael, on Glastonbury
Tor, Somerset, may not be very ancient, and I should not connect them in
any manner with any ideas which were held by the Gothic architects.

We next inquire why churches should have been built in situations such
as those which we have been considering. Mr Allcroft, arguing
apparently from the assumption that the church was a defensive
building--in fact, almost the only one in the parish--considers that it
was sometimes built near earthworks for additional security[60]. That Mr
Allcroft’s premises are sound, I shall attempt to show in the next
chapter. That, in exceptional cases, his conclusion is correct, one
would not care to deny. But can the theory be of general application?
Scattered throughout the land are churches built in exposed and lofty
situations, so that traditions, varying in detail, but related in their
main principle, have sprung up to account for the choice of these
isolated and inconvenient positions. Most of the stories put fairies,
or, more commonly, the Spirit of Evil, in opposition to the efforts of
the builders. Churches were moved in a night, or the day’s work was
undone by the malignant foes. In cases of this kind, as in those
instances where churches stand in some secluded meadow, the reason may
occasionally be found in the churlishness of the manorial lord, or in
the fact that the village settlement has shifted since the church was
built. Houses are demolished and rebuilt, but the church remains. The
desire to place the church in an impregnable spot may more frequently
account for the hill-structures, which will be considered in Chapter
III., though not for the churches near earthworks, nor for the
sequestered churches in the fields. Some other explanation must be
sought, and, curiously enough, Mr Allcroft has incidentally suggested
two other theories. The early missionaries to the pagan Saxons, he
supposes, made their headquarters on deserted Roman sites, first, to
demonstrate their own power in successfully defying the evil spirits
which haunted those spots, and secondly, through the bad reputation of
these earthworks, to obtain “something of a guarantee against
molestation by human beings quite as formidable[61].” While not agreeing
that the second motive would be very influential, with the first
suggestion I find myself more in harmony. The miraculous power of
withstanding devils and demons would not be without its effect on the
ignorant. Moreover, the claim would be as effective during the Mediaeval
as it was during the Saxon period. For we are not to suppose that
superstition fled the land on the advent of the Normans. Who were these
new folk, and what were their antecedents, that they should be free from
slavish fears of the unknown? Legends were without doubt attached to
prehistoric remains down to a late date; how intense and how gross are
the superstitions of country folk even in our own day, only the close
student of men and books can be aware. Thus, for some reason,
inexplicable, except on anthropological grounds, there exists among the
Lincolnshire woldsmen a prejudice in favour of burial on the heights,
and many similar facts could be given.

Above all these causes of selection of prehistoric sites, however, one
may place the spirit of compromise which actuated the missionaries.
Everywhere, the preachers found that the Saxons, who were unaware of the
real origin of the old defences, attributed them to diabolism. Devil’s
Dykes, Devil’s Highways, Devil’s Doors, as has been shown in another
volume, meet us in every part of the country[62]. Believing firmly in
the diabolic origin of the earthworks and megaliths, the Saxon was moved
to fear, and to that slavish respect which is the child of fear. Yet it
was pre-eminently in the open country, where such objects abounded, that
the Saxon loved to dwell. It has been shown that, however much he may
have avoided the walled towns--and these he did not shun altogether--the
Saxon settler had no antipathy to occupation of the deserted villas and
rural settlements[63]. Here, then, the potential convert, with his
superstitions and aversions, lived and toiled. The monuments of earlier
races he regarded with sacred awe. It would be well-nigh impossible to
wean him from his creed by direct denunciation; it would be easy to win
him over by toleration and compromise, and this possibility seems to
supply the real explanation why earthworks and other spots with weird
associations were chosen for many of the early churches. If it be asked
why still more instances are not forthcoming, it may be answered that
the earthworks were frequently too remote from settlements on the
plains, and were too elevated in position, to tempt the builders, even
when the desire for protection reinforced the primary purpose.
Moreover, though the earliest open-air preachers in Saxon times may have
selected the earthwork as a pulpit, the permanent church would not
necessarily be built within that area. (It will save misapprehension, if
an explanation of the use of the word “Saxon” be interpolated here. In
strictness, there is a clear distinction between Angle and Saxon,
dialectically and archaeologically. But it is impossible always to
observe the differences, especially when the data are scanty. The term
will be employed, then, in its old loose signification, to denote, as Mr
Reginald A. Smith says, “the roving Teutonic bands that for centuries
infested the Northern seas.”)


     FIG. 5. The “pharos” or lighthouse, near the church within Dover
     Castle (Bloxam’s _Gothic Eccles. Architect._). The building is
     hexagonal externally, and square within. The lower part is composed
     of flints and rubble, with bonding courses of Roman tiles. The
     upper part of the tower belongs to the Tudor period. The doorway
     shown in the drawing has now been blocked up.

We have now glanced at those churches which contain remnants of Roman
ruins, and others which are built over Roman villas, or within Roman
camps, and we have been led insensibly to examine buildings which are
connected with earthworks of other ages. The problem of site-continuity
has constantly impinged upon the question of continuity of fabrics. A
few paragraphs may now be devoted to a consideration of those churches
which lay claim to a possession of one or both of these features. The
small ruined church of St Mary, within the confines of Dover Castle, is
a well-known example. It stands in juxtaposition with an octagonal
structure, usually described as a pharos, or lighthouse (Fig. 5), and
believed by some to be a fort belonging to the Romano-British period.
This polygonal tower has an exterior casing of flint, dating from the
fifteenth century, but the original uneven masonry of rubble and flint,
bonded with bricks at intervals, is still visible at the base. The
supposition is that the church, with the lighthouse, was utilized for
Christian worship during Roman times. By most modern authorities, the
church itself is attributed, and perhaps more correctly, to the late
Saxon period[64]. Lyminge, in Kent (p. 4 _supra_), is another claimant.
The foundations of a seventh-century chapel, probably of apsidal
basilican plan (Fig. 6), have been traced here (A.D. 1899), but it is
supposed that the present church, though rich in Roman materials,
belongs entirely to a later epoch[65]. At Reculver (Regulbium), near
Herne Bay, there is an example of a church which Professor Baldwin Brown
places with that of Dover in a distinct category as representing
possible authentic relics, since the buildings stand alone within
deserted Roman stations. The church at Reculver stands over the
foundations of a basilica, but the present building is probably
altogether post-Roman, the earliest known date for the existence of a
church on this spot being A.D. 670[66].

Dean Stanley held the belief, once shared by many antiquaries, that in
St Martin’s at Canterbury we have a veritable monument of early British
Christianity--a monument, moreover, erected over a pagan temple[67].
Bede asserts that there


     FIG. 6. Chancel of Lyminge Church, Kent. In the churchyard, to the
     right hand, is a portion of the foundations of a seventh-century
     chapel, composed of re-arranged Roman materials. The church seems
     to occupy the site of a villa.


     FIG. 7. Portion of chancel wall, south side, St Martin’s Church,
     Canterbury. Roman tiles are seen abundantly in the wall on the
     right, and in the round arch; they are also bonded into the wall on
     the left. The wall is mainly seventh-century work, but the
     round-headed doorway is later, and the buttress has been
     modernized. The flat-headed doorway is probably original.

was a church on this spot in Roman times, and that the building which
existed in his day retained relics of the older structure[68]. In spite
of this tradition, the popular belief is only doubtfully tenable. The
site is old, and there may have been unbroken continuity, but the
present building, though doubtless largely composed of the original
materials, has been altogether re-arranged[69] (Fig. 7). An exception
may perhaps be made for portions of the western nave, which Professor
Baldwin Brown considers may represent early work. St Pancras, at
Canterbury, by some writers judged to be older than St Martin’s, must,
under reserve, be given up, for similar reasons. Foundations, nearly
complete, of a single-celled apsidal church have been revealed to the
excavator, but the actual persistence of work above the surface is not
demonstrated[70]. Other churches put forward are Ribchester, in
Lancashire[71], and the chapel of St Peter’s-on-the-Wall, at Bradwell
(_Othona_), in Essex. St Peter’s Chapel represents a barnlike building,
of which the materials were evidently quarried from the adjacent
fortress, but, once again, proof of continuity is lacking.

St Joseph’s Chapel, at Glastonbury Abbey, presents us with an
interesting case of probable retention of site, though not necessarily
of continuous buildings. The earlier history of Glastonbury is,
unfortunately, mainly a history of legends and traditions. We may well
discredit the tale, told by the imaginative William of Malmesbury, a
millennium after the alleged event, that, so early as the first century
of the Christian era, a chapel constructed of osiers existed at this
spot. That some kind of primitive church or oratory, with walls of
wattle, and a roof of reeds, was set up during the Roman occupation is,
however, very probable, and it may fairly be supposed, though it cannot
be proved, that no break had occurred when the Saxon abbey was

Among other churches for which a reasonable claim has been advanced is
that of Jarrow, which Professor Brown places in his period “A,” that is,
the period anterior to the year A.D. 800[73]. Again, the oldest part of
the cathedral church of Canterbury, as attested by experts, slightly
supported by Bede’s description, may be a relic of Roman
Christianity[74]. We pass from these examples in order to glance at a
church whose age may now be deemed undisputed, namely, the small apsidal
church or basilica which was uncovered in 1892 at Silchester (_Calleva
Atrebatum_). The nature of the building was at first much canvassed, and
some authorities, relying chiefly upon the absence of Christian symbols
in the mosaics, and upon other details, denied that the foundations were
those of a church[75]. Curious to relate, the Chi-Rho, along with the
Omega, was found impressed on the side of a small leaden seal which was
dug up in the Silchester Forum[76], hence, if the basilica has yielded
no evidence of Christian symbolism, such testimony lay hidden at no
great distance. To be brief, not only is the basilica now accepted as
genuine by the best authorities, but Messrs G. E. Fox and W. St John
Hope declare that it is the only example of a Christian church of Roman
date yet found[77].

On the ruins of the Silchester basilica no Gothic church sprang up, so
that there was not site-continuity. Yet the parish church, which was
afterwards built during the twelfth century, within the enceinte of the
destroyed Roman town, has a direct bearing on the subject of this
chapter. It is one of the two instances of churches which Professor
Brown admits as having possibly superseded pagan Roman buildings. He
does not, however, concede that we have any examples of Saxon churches
which once actually formed parts of such temples. In all cases, the form
and orientation of the churches, he asserts, betray an ecclesiastical
origin. The churches may point to a survival of Romano-British
Christianity, but that is another question[78]. Nevertheless, as
Professor Brown himself notes, Silchester parish church was built close
to the remains of two small Roman shrines of Gaulish type. The
orientation of the church exactly agrees with that of one of the
shrines, and this may indicate some relationship[79]. Messrs Fox and St
John Hope have stated that the list of edifices dedicated to pagan
deities in this country is very scanty, yet it is noteworthy that, of
this list, three were recorded at Silchester. Moreover, one of these
temples was found lying partly under the graveyard of the parish church,
and partly under the buildings of an adjacent farm[80]. “Perhaps,” say
these writers, “the rising power of Christianity, as seen in the little
church [the basilica] within the south-eastern corner of the Forum, may
have made for their destruction[81]” [i.e. the destruction of the
shrines]. May we not add that, should someone excavate a second
Silchester, further evidence of this kind might be obtained? Dr Thomas
Ashby’s explorations at Caerwent (_Venta Silurum_) have, so far (1910),
yielded no certain traces of a Christian church. The basilica discovered
on the north side of the Forum is of a civil, not religious, character.
We might frankly discard all the examples previously given, save perhaps
those in which churches stand over Roman villas, and yet come to a wrong
conclusion by arguing from the absence of particular witnesses. Other
deponents may press forward. Before, however, we can examine these, we
must make a rather lengthy digression to inquire if there exist _a
priori_ reasons for the annexation of pagan sites by Christian teachers.

We have, in proceeding to this examination, principally to consider the
policy which was pursued by the early missionaries. Writing about
Christianity in general, Harnack has shown that, during the third
century, it united enthusiasm with the spirit of tolerance. “Stooping to
meet the needs of the masses,” the leaders studied polytheistic customs,
instituted festivals and saints, and utilized sites already deemed
sacred. To express the fact otherwise: the religion became syncretistic
in the proper meaning of that term[82]. Christian and pagan ideas were
blended. Following the wise, and, indeed, the only practicable
method--that of peaceful permeation--the Church often retained the forms
of heathen ceremonies, while actually investing these with new meanings.
The process has been pithily expressed by Sir G. L. Gomme: “Christianity
was both antagonistic to, and tolerant of, pagan custom and belief. In
principle and purpose it was antagonistic. In practice, it was tolerant
where it could tolerate freely[83].”

As a matter of history, however, we learn that the policy did not remain
strictly consistent, and a struggle for survival ensued. Under the rule
of Constantine, the tendency was to destroy heathen temples and their
idols, but by the Edict of Theodosius (A.D. 392), pagan shrines were to
be dedicated as Christian churches. Later, the Edict of Honorius (A.D.
408) definitely forbade the demolition of heathen temples, at least in
the cities[84]. These enactments seem to have a direct bearing on cases
like that of Silchester and upon other examples, to be described
hereafter. Leaping over a gulf of nearly two centuries, we discover Pope
Gregory the Great (A.D. 601) sending a letter to the Abbot Mellitus, who
was then about to visit Britain, commanding that, while idols were to be
destroyed, the temples themselves were to be preserved. Holy water was
to be sprinkled in the buildings, altars were to be erected, and sacred
relics were to be placed therein. Anniversary festivals were to be
appointed, and the new worship inaugurated[85]. Keeping this in mind, we
are not surprised to find that, on the conversion of Ethelbert, two or
three years previous to the Gregorian edict, Augustine received a
licence to restore, as well as to build churches[86]. Whether these
churches were pagan temples which had been partially despoiled, or
Romano-British basilicas which had fallen into decay, we are left to

On the continent, the breach of continuity of policy was still less
perceptible. Grimm distinctly states that churches were erected on the
sites of heathen trees or temples. He warns us against false conceptions
of history. We are not to picture the poor peasants as being ruthlessly
expelled from their accustomed places of worship. The heathen, he
declares, were not so tame and simple, nor were the Christians so
reckless, as to lay the axe to sacred trees, or to fire the pagan
temples. The rude forefathers of the hamlet trod the old paths to the
old site. Sometimes the very walls were retained, nay, the local idol or
image was retained outside the door or within the porch. Thus, at
Bamberg Cathedral, in Bavaria, zoomorphic stones, inscribed with runes,
passed the examination of lenient judges[87]. Again, pagan festivals
were converted into Christian holy-days. The Yule-tide merry-makings in
honour of Thor--revels which have also been connected by some writers
equally with the gods Adonis, Dionysos, and Mithra--became the festival
celebration of the birth of Christ. Canon E. L. Hicks (now Bishop of
Lincoln) contends that the observance of the exact date, December 25th,
as Christmas Day, is directly borrowed from Mithraism[88]. The old
German feast in memory of departed warriors was metamorphosed into All
Souls’ Day, when the spirits of resting believers were kept in mind[89].
As with holy-days, so with symbols. Thor’s hammer was replaced by the
Christian Cross, and the heathen sprinkling of newly-born babes became
Christian baptism[90]. Thus, by the retention of holy oaks, of
idolatrous feasts, of pagan symbols and ceremonies, of the heathen names
for the days of the week, the new religion gained entrance. In Ireland,
where the problem to be faced was remarkably complex, the
Christianization of pagan myths was very noticeable[91]. Here, the very
names of the feasts long continued as in pagan times. Only when the
conciliatory policy had “eased the yoke of the new ordinances,” was it
possible to take drastic measures, and to extrude heathenism from the
places of worship[92].

But this time was slow in coming. In the heart of the Empire, as
Friedlander has shown us, the triumphant Christians did, indeed,
assimilate many heathen practices, yet they strove hard to stifle
paganism altogether. On the other hand, all over Northern Europe, the
spirit of compromise was at work. In Sweden, during this transition
period, old associations were so strong that prayers to Thor and Freya
were often mingled with Christian orisons[93]. Professor F. Kauffmann
speaks of the great temple of Upsala, with its evergreen tree, and its
mysterious sacrificial well, which received the bodies of the slain. So
late as the eleventh century, this temple still stood in all its
splendour[94]. Professor O. Montelius, while noting the frequency with
which sacred stone-circles are associated with the church, considers
that the cromlechs were not places of sacrifice, but of judgement. This
idea is gaining ground in England, where also there is a tendency to
change the nomenclature of megaliths. (To avoid confusion, it must be
noted that “dolmen,” in these chapters, refers to a “table-stone,” that
is, several upright stones capped by a flat one. “Cromlech” is used in
its Breton sense of stone-circle, not in Welsh and Cornish
significations of table-stone, nor in Sir Norman Lockyer’s restricted
connotation--a kind of “irregular vault generally open at one end.”) At
Gamla Upsala, near Upsala, a church was built on the site of a temple,
which was the traditional burial place of Odin, and the centre of his
worship. Modern excavations at this spot have yielded bones of horses,
pigs, and hawks, together with relics of gold and silver[95]. This
example is instructive, alike for its testimony to the value of
folk-memory, and for its illustration of the employment of a pagan site.
But, indeed, example can be piled upon example. At the Danish coast-town
of Veile (or Vejle), two barrows, locally known as the graves of King
Gorm and his queen, stand by the churchyard. Hard by are ancient stone
monuments, bearing runic inscriptions[96].

Nor do these Northern cases lack counterparts elsewhere. The church at
Arrichinaga, in the province of Biscay, in Spain, was so built as to
enclose the huge stones of a great dolmen; between the stones is placed
the shrine of the patron saint[97]. The rugged land of Brittany is
well-known to all travellers for its illustrations of lingering
paganism; to some of these we shall again refer. But if we desire to
learn how imperative, how inescapable, was the spirit of compromise, we
should turn to the works of old writers, such as that curious old volume
which relates Jean Scheffer’s travels in Lapland in the latter part of
the seventeenth century[98]. There, we shall discover a strange alloy of
heathenism and Christianity, visible to all, seemingly condemned by
none. Even in our own day, so recently as the year 1895, we hear of
curious practices among the Samoyads. These folk, though nominally
Christians, within modern times still sacrificed human beings
clandestinely, and conducted heathen services within the ancient
stone-circles, carefully screening the images of their gods from the
public gaze.

Returning to the high road of our inquiry, we ask whether these examples
can be paralleled in Britain. Consider for a moment the great wealth of
our folk-lore, our superstitions, our almost incredible heathen
practices. Grease from the church-bell to cure rheumatism; pellitory
from the church-wall for whooping-cough; teeth from the graveyard to
serve as charms; the midnight watchings on St Mark’s Eve; the folk-tales
about evergreens; the superstitions connected with baptisms, marriages,
and deaths; the hundred and one little beliefs which run in an
undercurrent beneath the apparently smooth surface of religious
thought--do not these suggest that we may expect to find parallels to
the continental examples of church-building on heathen soil? How strange
if our islands had escaped the influences which are seen in almost every
other European country! Yet, to speak plainly, our direct testimony is
very scanty.

We know that, at Rome, the Pantheon became a Christian church, and we
have previously mooted the possibility of pagan idol-temples having been
similarly treated in Britain. Conclusive proof cannot be given, since
subsequent restorations would erase, or at least obscure, the vestiges
which we seek. Professor Baldwin Brown admits two possible examples,
without committing himself to a decided opinion. One is the church of
Silchester previously noted (p. 23 _supra_), and the other that of St
Martin’s, Leicester. The latter church rests on the site of a Roman
columnar structure, which would have been suitable for a temple[99].
There are also certain clues afforded by tradition and philology. At
Woodcuts Common, in Cranborne Chase, there is an imperfect amphitheatre
known as Church Barrow, which was excavated by General Pitt-Rivers. This
high authority suggested that the depression which forms the arena was
used for games, and, not improbably, in early Saxon times, before any
church was built in the neighbourhood, for divine worship[100]. Mr
Allcroft gives reasons for supposing that the present earthwork is on
the site once occupied by a tumulus[101]. Whichever hypothesis be
accepted, the name of Church Barrow will not be lightly set aside by the
folk-lorist, for it does not stand alone. At a spot called Church
Bottom, or Sunken Kirk, near Ickleton, in Cambridgeshire, Roman relics,
suggestive of a columnar building, were discovered. Pitt-Rivers supposed
that a Roman basilica, for Christian worship, existed on the site, and
that it was re-adapted when the East Anglians became converted to
Christianity[102]. The data, in this instance, are not plentiful, and
one might perhaps conjecture, with equal reason, that the original
building was pagan. An earthwork on Temple Downs, a few miles north of
Avebury, Wiltshire, was traditionally called “Old Chapel.” By the way,
we notice that the names of Kirk, Old Kirk, Sunken Kirk, and Chapel
Field, as applied to earthworks and sites containing ancient
foundations, are not uncommon[103], and one is naturally led to connect
this fact with the known association of churches and earthworks. Again,
at Llangenydd, Glamorganshire, there may be seen, in a field, the
remains of a stone-circle which is still called Yr Hen Eglwys, “the old
church,” the meadow being known as Cae’r Hen Eglwys, “Old Church Field.”
Tradition says that here the inhabitants worshipped before the present
church at Lalestone was erected. A remarkable parallel is exhibited in
the Shetlands, where churches were often built, we are assured, amid the
ruins of heathen “temples.” The analogy consists in this: that the word
“kirk” is now applied to holy spots, whether a chapel exists there or
not. Again, Sandwich Kirk, in the island of Unst, represents the ruins
of a reputed chapel which stood beside an ancient kitchen-midden. At
Kirkamool, bones and pottery were dug up under the foundations of the
sacred building[104]. Germane to this subject, one may mention the old
ruins of Constantine Church, in Cornwall, which lie near an old
kitchen-midden, and which have yielded to the spade of the explorer
bones of men and domestic animals, besides pottery of the Mediaeval,
Roman, and Neolithic periods[105].

Pursuing the trail provided by philology, one must glance cursorily at
the theory propounded by Isaac Taylor that place-names like Godshill,
Godstone, Godley, Godney, Godstow, and Godmanchester, are mute witnesses
of the substitution of the new faith for the old[106]. The theory is
certainly plausible, but, as Professor W. W. Skeat pointed out in a
letter to the present writer, the question can only be settled by an
appeal to carefully compiled name-lists, especially those which give the
spellings that were current during the Middle English period. Now it
chances that my friend Mr A. Bonner has, for many years past, been
making researches on these, and similar place-names, and he has kindly
allowed me the use of his unpublished work. Thus, by the aid of
Professor Skeat and Mr Bonner, one is able to test the theory that these
particular names commemorate the establishment of Christian worship. To
begin with, it must be observed that, owing to the modern defective and
misleading system of orthography, not only may origins be disguised, but
one mode of spelling may hide several possible etymologies. Thus, the
A.S. _gōd_ (=good) is frequently confused with _god_ (=God); moreover,
since _Gōd_ (=Good) was also a personal name in Anglo-Saxon, we may get
further complexity; e.g. Goodrich (A.S. _Gōd-ric_), in Herefordshire.
Dealing with a few of the names mentioned above, we have Godstone,
Surrey, appearing in the thirteenth century as Codeston and Coddestone,
the spelling _God_ being of much later date. Though the question cannot
be settled in the absence of an Anglo-Saxon form, it is probable that
the word denotes a personal name. Godney, Somerset, apparently
represents “Gōda’s island,” and Godley, the name of a hundred in Surrey,
“Gōda’s meadow.” Godshill (Gōds, i.e. Good’s hill), Godstow, and
Godstoke, again, all give indications of personal names.

Goodmanham, or Godmundingham, near Market Weighton, in Yorkshire, is
believed to be the spot mentioned by Bede as having a celebrated pagan
temple, and as being the scene of missionary work by Paulinus. Isaac
Taylor was at first content to follow Grimm in deriving the word from
the Norse (_godi_ =priest, and _mund_, protection of the gods).
Afterwards he discovered his error, for, in a later edition of _Names
and their Histories_, he explains the name as the “home of the
Godmundings or descendants of Godmund.” Alas, in a posthumous edition,
very recent, of _Words and Places_, the old blunder creeps in again. Mr
Bonner states that the earliest form (c. A.D. 737), is Godmunddingham;
the tenth century spelling was practically the same; hence the meaning
is, “ham of the Godmund or Goodman family.”

Again, the village-name of Malden, in Surrey, has been claimed as
meaning “Hill of the Cross,” and as indicating the turn-over to
Christianity. It is true that the Anglo-Saxon _m[=æ]l_ means a mark, and
that the Domesday form, Meldone, points to a down on which stood some
mark, probably a beacon or boundary post. Yet, although the village
church is situated on the highest spot in the neighbourhood, whence the
ground slopes away on two sides, the building does not stand on the
Chalk downland, but on the London Clay. Moreover, although we have many
post-Conquest orthographies, such as Maudon, Meaudon, and Maldene, to
guide us, we lack evidence concerning the true A. S. form. Had the name
been Christ’s Maldon (_Cristes m[=æ]l dūn_), it would certainly have
implied a “hill with a cross or crucifix,” just as, according to
Professor Skeat, we have “Christ’s _m[=æ]l_ ford,” now oddly turned into
Christian Malford (Wiltshire). The evidence for Maldon, in Essex, is
more satisfactory than that for the Surrey village. Here we get the
tenth century spelling M[=æ]ldune, and, although the modern town is
built on low ground by the river Blackwater, a hill, surmounted by a
tumulus, rises behind to a height of 109 feet. Hence this name may
perhaps be the equivalent of “Hill of the Cross.”

The prefix _Llan_, which occurs so frequently in Wales and the Marches,
affords a surer indication of a period when the possession of a church
by the village community was the exception, and not the rule. Not only
this; but expert opinion shows that _llan_ signifies an enclosed or
fenced-in space. The reference is therefore rather to the churchyard
than to the sacred fabric, and it is believed by some that the word
retains memories of the worship held within stone-circles. When we come
to consider the relation of Bardic assemblies with parish churches, it
will appear that this supposition is reasonable. Even in Wales, the
prefix _Llan_-is sometimes replaced by _Kil_-, as in Kilfowyr and
Kilsant, in Caermathenshire; but it is chiefly in Scotland that we look
for such place-names. The word _kil_ originally meant a hermit’s cell,
and afterwards came to be applied to a church. Finally, as an aid in
detecting places which possessed churches at an early date, and which
were thus pre-eminently worthy of special designations, we have the
Norse, and Danish, prefix, _Kirk_-, as in Kirby, Kirk Ella, Kirkcolm.
Premising that a little additional testimony under the head of philology
will be given later, we must now follow another clue.

On the whole, it must be conceded that the support derived from
geographical names is somewhat feeble, yet it may prove capable of being
extended as knowledge increases. Our next line of research gives fairer
promise; it brings us to examine the ancient rude monuments which are
frequently found in the vicinity of village churches.

The megalithic monuments recognized by the archaeologist are of several
kinds, but we shall be here concerned with three of these groups--the
menhir, or single upright stone; the cromlech, or stone-circle; and the
dolmen, or “stone-table.” These prehistoric remains seem to have
seriously attracted the notice of the Teutonic invaders, who were prone
to follow idolatrous practices based upon lingering traditions about the
storm-fretted stones. To this superstitious respect attention has been
drawn in a previous work[107]. Some indications of the honour imputed to
these megaliths is gleaned from a study of parish boundaries, though it
is almost certain that many of the stones erected in such positions
belong to the historic period. The old open-air tribunals, too, were
wont to meet at barrows, cairns, cromlechs, and menhirs, and at the foot
of the crosses by which the menhirs were largely supplanted. This
statement holds true for other places besides England. In the churchyard
of Ste Marie du Castel, Guernsey, there existed three large stones,
which marked the spot where open-air courts were held until recent
years[108]. Evidence is also obtainable from several countries, showing
that the election and coronation of kings and princes were associated
with stone-circles. Nor, indeed, were our ancestors very exigent in this
matter; a rude natural boulder or monolith was considered a good
substitute for the artificial pillar which had been erected by forgotten
folk. Over and over again we meet with “blue-stones”--chiefly glacial
boulders--which were set up to mark the limits of a parish, or to form
the trysting-place of a manorial court[109]. Lastly, it is on record
that Patrick, Bishop of the Hebrides, desired Orlygüs to build a church
wherever he found the upright stones or menhirs.


     FIG. 8. The Agglestone, Studland Heath, Dorsetshire. A natural mass
     of concretionary sandstone belonging to the Bagshot sands of the
     district. Much pagan tradition is associated with this block, which
     has been curiously eroded by rain, frost, and wind. The so-called
     “Druid’s basins” are altogether natural cavities.

One of the best known of the natural megaliths to which traditions cling
is the Agglestone, or Hagglestone, situated on the moors near Studland,
in Dorsetshire (Fig. 8). This Agglestone is a huge inverted cone of
indurated rock in direct connection with the Lower Bagshot Sands on
which it rests; in other words, its shape and position cannot be
artificial. It is a mass of sandy material, so thoroughly cemented by
oxide of iron that it has resisted denudation with some degree of
success. Yet the so-called sub-aërial agencies, principally wind and
rain, have undercut its base, rounded its outlines, and scooped out the
“rock-basins,” which the eighteenth century antiquaries ascribed to the
labours of Druids[110]. It is noteworthy that the Agglestone belongs to
a part of the country the inhabitants of which were pictured by Bede as
confirmed pagans (_paganissimi_)[111]. From a review of the legends, as
well as from a consideration of the name, Agglestone (most probably from
A. S. _halig_ = holy), and its alternative designation, Devil’s
Nightcap, there is fair reason to believe that the stone had some
significance to the heathen folk of Wessex, and that it was very
probably a Christian preaching station.

The Agglestone doubtless proved too unwieldy and obdurate for the tools
of those who set up the first Christian crosses, but this has not been
the case with many other pillars, whether hewn or unhewn. Some of the
upright “crosses” of Devon and Cornwall, for instance, are of extremely
coarse workmanship, as the student may see for himself by inspecting the
illustrations given in the works of Messrs A. G. Langdon and W.
Crossing[112]. Nor need the simplicity of the early workmanship cause
surprise, for the oldest Cornish crosses date from the seventh century.
A like plainness is met in many other parts of England. At Fulstow,
Lincolnshire, I noticed a crude churchyard pillar of hard, grey chalk,
roughly squared, now mounted on a much more recent plinth. The stone is
much pitted by weathering, and is clad with lichens of varying hues. If
the monolith be not a pre-Christian relic, trimmed into a rectangular
form, it is most probably a very early pillar, co-eval with the first
Early English church. It may have been dug out of the boulder clay, like
many of the stones with which the churchyard paths are paved; or, if we
accept modern theories respecting the glacial drift on the East of the
Wolds[113], it is not an ice-borne relic, but must have been brought to
the alluvial plain by man. The original home of the pillar was in the
hill-slope, several miles to the West. This Fulstow “cross” is typical
of others scattered throughout the East of England. Reverting to
Cornwall, it must be observed that the numerous inscribed monoliths of
that county are believed, on a balance of probabilities, to be of a
Christian character[114]. Specimens are frequently found in remote
spots, or they may occur in proximity to the church itself. At Camborne,
an example is seen under the communion-table; at East Cardinham, in the
graveyard; at St Cubert, in the wall of the church[115].

The early pillar “crosses,” though accounted Christian when tested by
inscription and decoration, may yet have an earlier origin. It is now a
commonplace that many of the crosses and calvaries of Brittany, “with
shapeless sculpture decked,” are merely primitive menhirs adapted by the
Christian artificer[116], and anyone who, like the writer, has had the
opportunity of comparing the Breton series with the kindred group of our
English Brittany, will readily agree that a similar story may be told of
Cornwall. Something has been written on this topic elsewhere[117], and
one need now only call attention to a curious instance of reversion in
connection with the allied subject of tombstones, to show how
deep-seated and perennial is the habit of imitation. In the “Quaker’s
Cemetery,” two miles from Penzance, the only tomb remaining within the
enclosure is formed of a massive slab of granite (5´.7´´ × 2´.1´´ ×
1´.1´´), resting on large pieces of the same kind of rock. The tomb is
evidently a copy of the dolmens of the moorland, yet its date is so
recent as A.D. 1677[118]. This illustration of the “past in the present”
supplies a warning note, and is not so irrelevant as it may appear for
the moment.

We may follow our work by inspecting some interesting cases of the
occurrence of unshaped masses of stone in, or near, the fabric of the
church. We must start, however, with the clear axiom that natural blocks
of stone, where readily procurable, must, like the spoil heaps of Roman
buildings, at all times have invited the attention of masons. Not more
than fifty or sixty years ago, Sir A. C. Ramsay noted that the
“greywethers,” or sarsens, of the Marlborough Downs, were so thickly
strewn over the surface, that across miles and miles of country a person
might almost leap from stone to stone, without touching the ground. Yet,
in our own day, the preservation of the greywethers has become a serious
task, because they have been found so useful for paving-stones during
the interval that has elapsed since Ramsay wrote, and it has been
difficult to stop depredations on those that remain. Not forgetting our
warning, there is still a possibility that, should the examples of
churchyard sarsens prove numerous, and should there be a co-operation of
other factors which indicate early sites of pagan worship, these two
series of circumstances may be in relationship. A solitary example might
be declared accidental; two or three citations only might raise an
incredulous smile; hence, it is the cumulative force of recurring
details which can alone afford pretence for a theory.

Situated in a long, dry Kentish valley which runs upwards in a Southerly
direction towards the escarpment of the Chalk, and at a distance of
about 1½ miles from the railway station at Eynesford, one may see the
forlorn wreckage of Maplescombe church (Figs. 9, 10). This church, which
had a semicircular apse, still partially remaining, has been in ruins
for three centuries. My attention was first called to the spot by Mr
Benjamin Harrison, of Ightham, an archaeologist whose knowledge of his
native district is unsurpassed. On visiting the ruins in 1904, I found a
large, partially-sunken sarsen stone (3´.0´´ × 2´.0´´ × 1´.6´´)
occupying what appeared to be the site of the ancient altar. A few
smaller sarsens were also discernible, and other specimens, Mr Harrison
states, have been carried off, at various times, by hop-pickers, to
build hearths in the fields. In the field adjoining the church, the
ploughshare has turned up


     FIG. 9. Ruins of Maplescombe church, Kent. View from the
     North-West. The ruins are unenclosed, amid a field of cabbages. The
     interior space is overgrown with brambles and elder bushes, but the
     semicircular apse can be detected on the left.

[Illustration: FIG. 10. Sketch plan of the ruins of Maplescombe church,
Kent, showing the positions of the sarsen stones.]

human bones and other relics[119]. This area was presumably the
graveyard, and may have been originally unenclosed, but with this
hypothesis we shall deal in a later chapter. Parenthetically, it may be
explained to the non-geological reader that a sarsen is a hard mass of
rock, which was once part of the Bagshot Sands or the Woolwich and
Reading Beds, and which, having resisted denudation, remains on, or
near, the present surface of the soil. The earliest record of a church
at Maplescombe is A.D. 1291, but the building may, perhaps, be of Norman
foundation, and the largest stone may possibly be a sacred relic which
existed previously on the present site. The worship of “stocks and
stones” died hard, and it is at least conceivable that the church
builders adapted one or more megaliths to form an altar. Further than
that we cannot go, seeing that sarsens are fairly common in the
locality. Examples of churchyard sarsens are abundant in Kent. Mr
Harrison informs me that there are specimens at Kemsing Halling and
Trottescliffe; in the last-named village, the stone is built into the
church wall. At Meopham, there are several blocks just outside the
churchyard, but, as the ground is merely fenced in, we have again,
doubtless, an instance where the demarcation between consecrated and
unconsecrated soil is of modern date. Still further records from Kent
have been supplied by Mr F. J. Bennett. The ruins of the churches at
Punish and Paddlesworth (near Snodland) enclosed in each case a large
sarsen; the nave of the dismantled church at Dode contains a good-sized
specimen; several other blocks stand just outside the graveyard wall at
Birling[120]. In passing, it may be observed that the other Kentish
village named Paddlesworth, near Lyminge, contains a font, of which the
base is a massive round stone, evidently of great antiquity.

We now examine other counties where the Tertiary beds are represented.
Crossing the Thames, we find in the churchyard of Ingatestone, Essex, a
large sarsen, which was formerly a part of the foundation of the
church[121]. At Pirton, in Hertfordshire, a huge mass of conglomerate,
or “puddingstone,” consisting of rounded flint pebbles cemented by a
siliceous matrix, supports the North-Western buttress of the church. The
block, as determined by my friend, Mr James Francis, F.G.S., measures
5´.6´´ × 2´.7´´ × 1´.4´´ above the ground. At the base of two other
buttresses on the North side are further lumps of conglomerate, each
about 3 feet in length. These “puddingstones” are vulgarly believed both
to breed and to increase in size, and the superstition is put forward to
account for a block of this material which projects from the foundation
of Caddington church, Bedfordshire[122]. It is worthy of notice, in
passing, that a pre-conquest church existed at Caddington.

Our observations would be incomplete were they limited to the Tertiary
area of South-Eastern England. In Devonshire, built into the chancel
wall of North Molton church, we have a large, heavy stone, which is said
to be composed of material foreign to the district[123]. At Branscombe,
in the same county, where the church bears marks of considerable
antiquity, a rough pillar, about seven feet long, doubtfully described
as a coffin lid, lies in the churchyard. Just outside the churchyard
wall of Whatley, Somerset, is a huge rounded sarsen, and another is to
be seen near the cross-roads 50 yards distant. When the London
Geologists’ Association visited Whatley in 1909, a doubt was raised
whether the stones were true sarsens. Some authorities pronounced the
material to be millstone grit, which could be obtained a few miles away;
while, on the contrary, no Tertiary rocks occur in the immediate
district. In Cornwall, there was discovered, under the collapsed Western
tower of Constantine church, a large, rounded boulder of Cataclew stone,
weighing a quarter of a ton. The nearest locality from which this stone
can be obtained, says the Rev. R. Ashington Bullen, is a quarry which is
1¼ miles distant in a straight line. Mr Bullen believes that the boulder
marked a meeting-place for ceremonial observances in pagan times, and
that consequently it was assigned a place of honour in the Christian
building[124]. It will be recalled that the ruins are adjacent to a
kitchen-midden (p. 31 _supra_). At Bolsterstone, near Deepcar, in
Yorkshire, two large stones lie in the village churchyard. One of them
has been adapted for receiving another stone by mortising. On the high
ground above the church is a cairn known as Walderslow, and it is
believed that the churchyard stones may have had connection with this
monument. The diligent searcher will not fail to discover many other
examples of these natural megaliths, but he will doubtless preserve
considerable detachment of mind, and be wary in the acceptance of
theories. The scarcity of suitable rocks in many localities, the
difficulties of transport,--whether accomplished by ox-drawn sledges or
by canal barges,--the saving of time, and, far more important, the
lessening of expenditure, are factors which must receive full weight.
Nevertheless, while maintaining due reticence, we shall find ourselves
continually wondering whether the probabilities do not point to
site-continuity. The pronounced liking for megalithic monuments
exhibited by the primitive Britons must have strongly influenced all
future comers for many a century. All analogy suggests that Mediaeval
folk were still sufficiently pagan to treat such relics with a kind of
“hyperdulia.” A sacred stone, or group of stones, may well have been
embedded in the walls of the church, or set up as an altar, in order to
propitiate those who gave up the old faith with reluctance.

When we examine megaliths which were indubitably placed in position by
the labours of men, we find ourselves on surer ground. The building of
churches near such memorials as these cannot always have been at
haphazard. Moreover, we should bear in mind that all the evidence is not
now producible. The hand of the spoiler has been busy, and the results
have been lamentable. Utility has been the common plea for the removal
of many ancient monuments, but other motives have also been at work. The
famous “Longstone” which formerly stood a little to the East of St Mabyn
church, in Cornwall, was broken up and carried away in order “to brave
ridiculous legends and superstitions[125].” Happily, the well-known
menhir in Rudstone churchyard, near Bridlington (Fig. 11), remains with
us. This pillar, which is composed of fine-grained grit, stands about 4
yards from the North-East angle of the building. Its height is 25 feet,
and it is believed by some authorities that an equal length is concealed
underground. The monolith was first fully described by the Rev. Peter
Royston, in 1873. The present Vicar of Rudstone, the Rev. C. S. Booty,
informs me that Mr Royston’s measurements are accurate. The conjecture
has been made that the village took its name from the menhir. This may
well have been the case, but what the first syllable of the name means
is another matter. The word is commonly said to signify Rood-stone. The
Domesday form Rodestan (cf. 13th cent. Rudestone; 14th cent. Ruddestan,
Rudston, etc.), leads Mr Bonner to suppose that a personal name, Rod,
Rodd, or Roda, is indicated. If the monolith bore an incised or carved
cross, Mr Bonner would admit the rendering “Rood-stone.” But it should
be remembered that a simple pillar might have been called a cross, and
that it may have been accepted as a preaching cross. To consecrate an
existing stone would save much labour. On this view, “Rood-stone” may
actually be correct. Countryfolk do not care for etymology or
archaeology, but they have not been remiss in attributing the presence
of the stone to diabolic agency. What concerns us at the present is,
that the site of the church was probably selected because the spot had
already some significance to the older inhabitants of the neighbourhood.
The whole district of Rudstone is rich in prehistoric remains[126].

The “sacred chair” of Bede, at Jarrow, is considered by Professor Rupert
Jones to be an ancient sacred stone, which has been chiselled into shape
by modern masons[127]. The Coronation Stone, in Westminster Abbey, has
also perhaps a notable genealogy, but its deposition in its present
quarters took place long after the foundation of the Abbey, and hence
the relic is not illustrative of our theory.

[Illustration: FIG. 11. Rudstone church, and monolith, near Bridlington.
View of the North side.]

On the Greensand hill a little above Mottestone church, in the Isle of
Wight, there is a huge, untooled monolith, known as the “Longstone,” but
it is not certain that it was originally solitary. A smaller pillar lies
at its base, and Mr W. Dale, the Hampshire archaeologist, supposes that
the two stones represent a fallen dolmen, or the remnants of a
cromlech[128]. Other writers have considered the relics to be ancient
boundary stones[129], but I think this explanation not very
satisfactory. The Rev. G. E. Jeans, who advocates the boundary-theory,
declares against the view that Mottestone signifies “mote-stone,” and
points out that the Domesday spelling, Modrestone, indicates a personal
name, Modr[130]. Even allowing for possible approximations made by the
Domesday scribe, the etymology given by Mr Jeans seems more reasonable
than the older one. Another Hampshire village, Twyford, on the Itchen,
is worthy of a visit in connection with megaliths. The church in this
old-world nook was believed by Dean Kitchin to be built on ground once
occupied by a stone-circle or a dolmen, and Mr Dale considers that the
two large sarsens which lie by the side of the building represent the
wreckage of this ancient monument[131]. A particularly fine yew in the
graveyard will be noticed in a subsequent chapter. On the neighbouring
hillside of Shawford Downs, there are also some linchets, or ancient
cultivation terraces. These associations imply that Twyford was not only
an inhabited site, but presumably a sacred site, at a very early period.
Still another Hampshire example is furnished by Bishopstoke, the church
which Mr Hilaire Belloc asserts was erected on the site of an old
stone-circle[132]. Cobham church, in Kent, stands a little to the North
of the remains of a stone-ring. Outside the North porch there is a large
sarsen, another lies against the wall at the West end, while a third is
built into the South wall[133]. Thomas Wright long ago pointed out that
the church of Addington, in Kent, was in the immediate neighbourhood of
numerous megalithic remains, though all of these were in a ruinous and
disordered condition. In fact the area seemed to be a vast tribal
cemetery. Professor W. M. Flinders Petrie, in 1878, was able, from a
study of the monumental relics, to make an imaginary restoration of
parallel avenues of stones as they once existed. At the North-Eastern
extremity, there was a stone chamber which has unfortunately since been
disturbed[134]. Some writers have believed that the hillock on which
Addington church is built was artificial, but it is practically certain
that it is purely natural; its existence being perhaps due to a
protective capping of ironstone which has been proof against denudation.

The church of Stanton Drew, near Bristol, is placed within the precincts
of a veritable Valhalla of monumental relics. Three stone circles are
situated, as it were, within a stone’s throw of the building, the most
distant being about one-third of a mile away, and the nearest only 150
yards. But besides these more perfect remains, there is a group close to
the churchyard, towards the South-West. This group, called the Cove,
consists of two upright blocks, 10¼ feet and 4½ feet respectively in
height, and one prostrate stone, 14½ feet in length (Fig. 12). The
original character of the monument cannot be decisively known. Mr C. W.
Dymond contends that the stones hardly represent a ruined dolmen,
because of the unusual height of two of the remaining pillars. Other
speculations, hazarded, as it seems to the writer, without a vestige of
proof, regard the Cove as a “druidical chair of state,” and, again, as a
shelter for sacrificial fire. On the whole, it is safer to consider
these monoliths as survivors of a cromlech or stone-ring. The material,
which is unhewn, is a siliceous breccia of Triassic age, and was
probably brought from Harptree-under-Mendip, about seven miles from the
present position. The church, it should be added, retains portions of
Norman work[135].

[Illustration: FIG. 12. The Cove, Stanton Drew, Somerset; a group of
megaliths situated near the village church.]

The vanished menhir of St Mabyn has been noticed (p. 42 _supra_), but,
before leaving the English megaliths, we ought to glance at the smallest
cromlech in Cornwall, that of Duloe, which is situated near Duloe
church. Its longer diameter is 39 feet, and its shorter, 37 feet, so
that the cromlech is slightly elliptical. The “circle” contains seven
standing stones, and one fallen or broken stone. One of the pillars,
which are very unshapely, is 9 feet in height. The finding of charcoal,
together with a cinerary urn enclosing bones, near one of the pillars,
is sufficient to show the sepulchral character of the circle[136].
Cornwall should indeed prove the touchstone of our theory, and I believe
that both Cornwall and Devon would stand the test well, could we recall
the witnesses. But these, sad to relate, are for the most part gone.
Here a gatepost, there a tombstone, and yonder the hearth of a cottage,
warn us not to expect the impossible. Sir Norman Lockyer, in his work on
Stonehenge, asserts that many churches have been built on the sites of
circles and menhirs, but he proffers no actual examples[137]. He gives,
however, numerous instances from Cornwall, Ireland, and Scotland, of the
juxtaposition of megaliths and sacred wells. Now, it will be shown in
the next chapter, that churches were frequently built in proximity to
holy wells, so that we have a triple relationship. Sir Norman Lockyer’s
informant doubtless knew of other examples of church-megalith sites than
those which have been adduced[138]. Such sites are said to be not
uncommon in Wales. The church at Yspytty Kenwyn (or Cynfyn), near the
Devil’s Bridge, in Cardiganshire, had the circle of stones built, at
intervals, into the churchyard wall. There were also stone pillars at
the Eastern entrance to the church, just as they are sometimes found
near stone-circles. Large megaliths are also recorded from the churches
of Tregaron, in Cardiganshire, and Llanwrthwl, in Brecon[139]. Cordiner,
an eighteenth century writer, asserts that Benachie church,
Aberdeenshire, is built within a stone-circle, and that the practice of
thus building was not infrequent in that country. And Mr W. G.
Wood-Martin has recorded at least two cromlechs in Irish

There is also a scrap of linguistic testimony which is pregnant of
ancient tradition, and which has been noted by several writers. Sir
Daniel Wilson seems to have been the first to make the fact publicly
known. The common Gaelic sentence, _Am bheil thu dol d’on chlachan?_
(Are you going to the stones?) may be rendered alternatively, “Are you
going to the church?” and is used in this second sense by the Scottish
Highlander when addressing his neighbour. Primarily, _chlachan_
(_clachan_) means a circle of stones, hence, a battle, or the scene of
single combats. The interpretation “place of worship,” is, as might be
anticipated, derivative, though not recent. So far back as 1774, Shaw,
in the chapter which he contributed to the third edition of Pennant’s
_Tour in Scotland_, observed, “From these circles and cairns many
churches to this day are called _clachan_, i.e. a collection of

A word of caution is necessary to those who may be inclined to accept
too hastily, and without examination, the claims of this or that
megalith to a great antiquity. For instance, there stands at the
South-Eastern gate of Binstead church, in the Isle of Wight, a grotesque
figure, called by the villagers “The Idol.” This uncouth image has been
thought by some to be a pagan object of worship. Little, indeed, is
definitely known about the object, but it is asserted, with much
credibility, that the gate once formed the door of the church, and that
the image is merely a Norman keystone, or perhaps a corbel[142]. We
note, however, that if it were a corbel, it could scarcely have been a
portion of a doorway, though this matter is inessential. Our second
illustration shall be given in order to show the danger of dating
objects as pre-Christian, when they bear clear signs of Christian
influence. In the churchyard at Penrith there is a large tomb which
bears the nickname of “Giant’s Grave.” It happens that this name is
often applied to prehistoric barrows and megaliths, and in this
particular instance it has been proclaimed that the tomb is a
cromlech--a “dolmen” being perhaps intended. Hutchinson, Pennant, and
other writers, were greatly exercised concerning this ancient relic. But
if the reader will turn to the beautiful engraving of the monument in
the _Victoria History of Cumberland_, he will understand, even without
the aid of the letterpress, that the tomb has features decidedly
Christian. The monument really consists of the shafts of two
pre-Conquest crosses, one being placed at the head and the other at the
foot, while the space between is enclosed by three “hog-backs,” one of
which has been split longitudinally[143]. Once again, in the churchyard
of Chadwell St Mary, Essex, a large sarsen, concerning which fantastic
theories were current, was observed by the Rev. J. W. Hayes to have a
weathered concavity, or “pebble-hole,” within which were carved the
letters “N. G.,” followed by the date 1691. Referring to the parish
register, Mr Hayes found an entry, made during that year, recording the
death of a churchwarden, Nathaniel Glascock. The inference was clear,
and the lesson of caution was delivered with some force. These
reservations about the nature of burial monuments lead us easily to the
subject of grave-mounds, to which we must allot a special chapter.



Our next task is to review the evidence, collected during many years of
inquiry, respecting the mounds which are frequently seen in the
neighbourhood of churchyards. Formerly, those archaeologists who gave
any attention to this subject,--they were a very small band of
observers,--contented themselves with grouping all the mounds as
“barrows” or “tumuli.” With fuller information, we are now able to
classify the hillocks as (1) defensive mounds, (2) “moot-hills,” (3)
“toot-hills,” and (4) true barrows, or grave-mounds. Etymologically,
there is nothing which warrants the limitation of the word “tumulus” to
a burial-mound, and, in actual practice, it is often loosely applied to
any kind of mound whatever. To avoid confusion, however, it will be
well, in this chapter at least, to refrain from using “tumulus” to
describe those knolls, comprised under the second and third headings,
which have not yet been proved to be of a sepulchral character.

Taking the groups in order, we deal first with the defensive mounds,
known to archaeologists under a variety of alternative names:
castle-mounds, moated mounds or mounts, mound-castles, and _mottes_. And
it should at once be said that this group includes the majority of the
examples which will be adduced. This result might have been anticipated,
for these moated mounds are large and durable, and hence have escaped
levelling by spade and ploughshare.

A few words must be devoted to an explanation of mottes or
mound-castles. These hillocks were essentially low, flat-topped,
truncated cones of earthwork, usually surrounded by a ditch, and placed
in direct connection with a larger defensive enclosure. The mound was
generally artificial, either wholly or in part: the entirely natural
mound is the rarest kind[144]. Of these natural hillocks, an
illustration is found in the chalk “monticle” on which Corfe Castle is
built (Figs. 13, 14). This mound need not detain us, because it is still
crowned by the ruins of what was once a solid structure of masonry,
built during the reign of Henry I. Of its true character there can,
therefore, be no doubt. The castle-mounds which we are particularly
considering, in their earlier forms at least, are believed to have
supported a kind of wooden guard-house (_turris_, _bretasche_, or keep),
which was surrounded by a stockade. Not until a later period of
fortification, when the material of the mound had subsided and become
firm and solid, did a structure of stone appear on the summit, if
indeed, the wooden structure were ever replaced by a more permanent keep
or fortress. Stone keeps were built on mottes at Kilpeck in
Herefordshire, Fewston in Yorkshire, and other places, but this does not
appear to have been the more general custom. Many mounds, at any rate,
were never capped by a superstructure of masonry.

The castle-mound, as already stated, was encompassed by a moat, which
probably, however, was not intended to contain water, except in special
cases (Fig. 15). Yet it is very possible that “puddling” was often an
undesigned result of the constant trampling to which the ditch was
subjected. It should here be explained that the Norman-French term,
_motte_, which is constantly applied to the moated mound, is not related
to the word “moat,” though, owing to a misunderstanding of the Latinized
form, _mota_, it has often been so translated. Beyond the real moat, or
ditch, was the larger enclosure to which reference has been made. This
was the outer ward, the bailey or base court; it was of horseshoe or
crescentic form, and was reached by crossing a wooden bridge. The bailey
had its own moat, which, in its turn, was engirdled on the outside by a
bank passing along the counterscarp[145].


     FIG. 13. Corfe Castle, as it appeared in A.D. 1643. This is a good
     example of a castle built on a natural eminence. The hill is almost
     encircled by two streams, which have cut deep valleys, and have
     nearly severed the mass from the main ridge. A deep, artificial
     trench on the townward side completes the isolation.

[Illustration: FIG. 14. Ruins of Corfe Castle, 1910.]


     FIG. 15. The Mount, Great Canfield, Essex, a typical
     motte-and-bailey earthwork. _M_, motte, or castle-mound: the top of
     which is about 40 feet from the bottom of the moat. _B_, the
     bailey-court with its own moat. _D_, a dam, by means of which the
     water of the river Roding was probably utilized to increase the
     supply for the moat. The direction of the stream is shown by
     arrows. The parish church is seen near the North-West boundary of
     the motte.

This short description must suffice. The question which first arises is
concerned with the age of the moated mounds. The older opinion, as
expressed by Mr G. T. Clark, and to some extent accepted by later
authorities, such as Mr I. Chalkley Gould, was, that some of the
hillocks, at least, were of Saxon date[146]. Mr Clark was largely
influenced by the belief, which most modern writers consider erroneous,
that the word _burh_ of old documents referred to these castle-mounds.
This word _burh_, however, is said to stand always for a fortified town
and to have never been applied to a motte-and-bailey castle[147]. Among
quite recent writers who assign some of the mounds to an early date, may
be mentioned Mr Willoughby Gardner, who considers that, on a balance of
evidence, the simple form of moated mound may be said to have originated
in Saxon times. This view is also shared by Mr Reginald A. Smith. Again,
Mr T. Davies Pryce has brought forward evidence to show that the moated
mound belongs to diverse races and periods, and he contends that some
mottes are of much earlier date than the Norman Conquest[148]. The trend
of modern opinion, as enunciated by Dr J. H. Round, Mr W. St John Hope,
Mrs E. S. Armitage, Mr G. Neilson, Mr A. H. Allcroft, and others, places
the castle-mounds within the Norman period[149].

So far as the moated mounds are artificial and of Norman construction,
they are extraneous to our inquiry about pagan sites; they are the
feudal strongholds of which the village church was often the religious
appendage. This relationship of fortress and temple will be forced upon
us in the next chapter, and will continue to suggest itself when we
discuss other matters. But if we suppose that the Norman mottes had
their Saxon forerunners, or even that the Norman mound-builders took
advantage of pre-existing knolls of an artificial character, we are led
to search for vestiges of an accompanying Saxon church. For, under
these conditions, it is conceivable that we might have a Christian
church built near a pagan mound. From the nature of the problem,
satisfactory proof is difficult to procure. Certain moated mounds have
yielded more than a hint of the adaptation by the Normans of earlier
works. The flat-topped castle-mound near the churchyard of St Weonards,
Herefordshire[150], has been claimed, on “the testimony of the spade,”
as having been a prehistoric grave-hill. This was the view held by Mr I.
C. Gould. Thomas Wright, who opened this mound in A.D. 1855, declared
that, “beyond a doubt,” it had been used for sepulchral purposes, though
the discoveries did not warrant his assigning its specific period. It
may be mentioned that a decayed yew, of considerable age, together with
other trees, adorned the hillock[151]. A similar defensive hillock, 50
feet in diameter, near the churchyard of Thruxton, Herefordshire, and
known to the peasantry as Thruxton Tump[152], was also found to contain
animal bones and pieces of crockery[153]. I can gather no details
concerning the excavations of this last-named mound, and am inclined to
accept the claims with great reserve, principally because other mottes
have furnished similar relics, which have been proved capable of a more
obvious interpretation. The first example of these supposed barrows is
the castle-mound which is included within the present extended graveyard
at Penwortham, in Lancashire. Careful sections cut in this remarkable
hillock exhibited a profusion of remains, such as animal bones,
mussel-shells, decayed timber, and objects of iron and bronze. These
relics were disposed in layers, in such a manner as to show that the
mound had been raised in height at two different periods[154].
Successive elevations of surface were also discovered in the moated
mound adjacent to Arkholme church, Lancashire[155]. The castle-mound,
again, at Warrington, situated about 100 yards from a church which
stands almost within the fosse of the outer ward, has been raised more
than once. The last occasion when the height was increased was during
its occupation by the Parliamentary forces in A.D. 1643[156]. In all
these cases the relics seem to indicate alterations which took place
after the Norman period of mound-construction had set in. The bronze
articles found at Penwortham, and the broken amphora which is recorded
from Warrington, superficially suggest an earlier origin. But these
relics were most probably scraped up with the soil when the motte was
enlarged, or were picked up by the inhabitants somewhere in the
neighbourhood, and were afterwards blended with the refuse-stratum of
that particular period. These explorations, then, tend to discredit, in
some degree, the statements made with respect to the Herefordshire
mounds. At the same time, we must not rashly conclude that, in every
instance, the workmen commenced their work on a perfectly level surface.
The story of St Weonards teaches us caution. There were hundreds of
early burial-mounds, as well as hillocks of other kinds, which may well
have served as bases for mottes. An incidental fact, noted by Dr Round,
is worth recalling. Moated mounds are to be seen in places where, so far
as we know, the Normans never had a castle. It is clear that
castle-mounds, with their appendant bailey-courts, were sometimes thrown
up, and afterwards abandoned for other sites. Such a mound was raised by
William at Hastings[157]. This opinion is quite accordant with what has
been previously said about the absence of stone keeps on earlier mottes.

Seeing that the feudal baron dominated the village community, and that
compliance with the claims of religion was deemed secondary only to the
arrangements for personal security[158], one would naturally expect to
find the Norman church not far distant from the castle-mound. And this
is actually what one often sees: the church is either just outside the
moated mound, or within the crescentic bailey-court. It would, I think,
be an over-statement to assert, as do some writers, that the inclusion
of the church within the entrenchments is typical of the arrangement of
a Norman earthwork


     FIG. 16. Chapel, Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire (c. A.D.
     1330-1450). The beautiful window tracery has been demolished, but
     below the opening on the right are a small piscina, and a
     trefoil-headed credence-table.

castle[159]. True, the association is not infrequent, but it is
doubtfully the rule. While the feudal lord would be able, by this plan,
to concentrate the ecclesiastical and the civil administration of his
estates, and to exercise keen supervision over his clerks and other
dependants, he commonly had his own chapel (Fig. 16) and domestic
chaplain within the castle itself. The disposition of the parish church
would not, therefore, solely depend on the lord’s convenience, but
would be affected by many other circumstances.

We shall now be equipped for steady work in eliminating all those
examples of miscalled barrows, which are, in truth, castle-mounds. The
path will then be cleared for an advance. Without pretending to give a
complete catalogue, we must notice some of the better-known mottes. The
hillocks at Barwick-in-Elmet, Yorkshire, Great Canfield, in Essex, and,
possibly, Towcester, in Northampton, belong to Dr J. H. Round’s group of
mounds without castles[160]. The Great Canfield motte-and-bailey (Fig.
15, p. 54 _supra_) is a fine specimen. It is remarkable from the fact
that a stream was diverted to provide the moat with water. Moreover, it
seems likely that there was a dam on the North-East, by which the supply
could be augmented from the river Roding. The interesting Norman church
of the village lies at the North-West angle of the earthwork.
Laughton-en-le-Morthen, near Rotherham, contains another noteworthy
motte. We know that the church of the village contains some masonry
belonging to the latter part of the tenth century[161]. Hence we are
moved to ask, Was the mound also of pre-Norman date, or did the Norman
settlers elect to rear their fortress near a spot already famous? In our
next chapter, we shall touch on a matter which is of interest in this

To continue the survey: we find that most counties afford examples of
mottes raised near churches. Lancashire, in addition to the cases
mentioned, contributes the Melling fortress to our list[162]; Yorkshire
gives us another mound, that of Bardsey, from the district once covered
with the Forest of Elmet. In Lincolnshire, we find Owston, where a
portion of the ditch is still visible[163], and Redbourn, which has its
Castle Hill, and traces of a moated area, often described by the older
topographers. Buckinghamshire yields, at the village of Cublington, a
somewhat unusual hillock, which is probably a moated mound,


     FIG. 17. Pirton church and Toot Hill, Hertfordshire, from the
     South-East. The portion of the ditch in which the children are
     standing frequently holds water. Further to the left, but out of
     the picture, a stretch of the moat is permanently filled with

constructed during the reign of Henry III. In immediate association with
this mound, Mr Allcroft has found traces of the old village “ring-fence”
(p. 16 _supra_), that is, an enclosure consisting of vallum and fosse,
the former of which is supposed to have carried a stockade[164].
Professor Seebohm has recorded a mound near the church of Meppershall,
in Bedfordshire[165], and another, known as the Toot Hill, at Pirton, in
Hertfordshire[166] (cf. p. 7 _supra_). He was of opinion that the Pirton
knoll was a place of observation, or watching-mound, but more recent
inspection has led to its being classed as a Norman motte. This oval
hillock covers more than an acre of ground. Its height is 25 feet, but
there is a depression in the crown, caused by the removal of earth to
fill in the inner part of the moat.


     FIG. 18. Toot Hill, Pirton, Hertfordshire; a “moated mound.” View
     from a point South-West of the church. The moat is seen at the foot
     of the hill, and it passes away to the right, behind the mound.

Mr D. H. Montgomerie states that the bank and ditch of the bailey-court
may be distinctly traced in the churchyard[167] (Figs. 17, 18). Yet
there must always remain the doubt whether an earlier mound was not
enlarged and entrenched by the builders of the castle-hill. The
nickname, Toot Hill, to be noticed shortly, gives a half-hint of such a
reconstruction. The Penwortham and Arkholme mottes have taught us to
scrutinize each example closely, and on its own merits. Anywhere we
might expect to find the spade telling us of a castle-hill which
conceals, within its substance, a British barrow, or a Roman botontine
or _specula_. A botontine, it may be explained, was a small mound which
was heaped up by Roman land-surveyors, and in which were usually
deposited a few scraps of pottery and a handful of ashes, or fragments
of the bones of animals. A specula was an earthwork “watch-tower,” if
the expression be permissible. A slightly puzzling mound, situated a
short distance from Towcester church, Northampton, revealed coins and
pottery which betrayed Roman occupation, yet these alone did not tell
when the mound itself was raised[168] (cf. p. 59 _supra_). Again, the
Castle Hill, at Hallaton, in Leicestershire, an earthwork of the
mound-and-court type, yielded traces of British, Roman and Saxon
settlements[169]. The Hallaton mound, however, is about a mile distant
from the church.

A most interesting castle-mound, though of small size, is that of Earl’s
Barton, Northampton. The famous Saxon church of this village abuts on
the South side of the motte, which has been peeled away, either to
accommodate the tower, or for some other reason[170]. Mr Reginald A.
Smith, who quotes an article written by Professor Baldwin Brown, in
which a pre-Norman origin of the motte is called in question, points to
the undoubted Saxon age of the church tower, and thinks, with Mr G. T.
Clark, that the earthen stronghold belongs also to the Saxon
period[171]. Swerford, Oxfordshire, again, presents a deviation from the
normal churchyard castle-mound. Besides the motte and bailey-court,
there is a subsidiary mound, guarding the entrance, together with two
detached platforms towards the East. These may indicate different
periods of construction.

Coming South of the Thames, we notice the castle-mound on the slope of
the hill above Brenchley church, in Kent[172]. The Saxon church of
Swanscombe, near Northfleet, which suffered severely from fire a few
years ago, has an attendant mound on the hill by which it is overlooked.
This earthwork, known as Sweyn’s Camp, has a diameter of 100 feet, and
its ground-plan, as shown in the _Victoria History of Kent_, suggests a
somewhat earlier date than that of the ordinary motte-and-bailey
group[173]. In the sister county of Surrey, a defensive mound is known
to have existed near Ockham church, and some of the outlying banks have
escaped entire obliteration[174]. Behind Abinger church, again, there is
a hillock, which may be a motte, or perhaps a true barrow of the Bronze
Age[175]. Dr J. C. Cox says that it is “obviously an ancient barrow,”
but it appears never to have been opened. We might proceed, county by
county, and catalogue many further examples, but it would result in
wearying the reader. One further instance only shall be given, and it
chances to be that of a motte which diverges from the type. The Norman
church of Kilpeck, Herefordshire, is built on the bank and ditch of a
rectangular enclosure, which lies outside the curvilinear courts of a
castle-mound. Possibly we have here a Norman fortification encroaching
upon an earlier earthwork, and it should be observed that the church
occupies vantage-ground strong by nature[176] (p. 52 _supra_). We must
now dismiss the castle-mounds, though we shall be unconsciously
compelled to revert to them hereafter.

Our second group of church-mounds comprises the “Moot-Hills.” These
objects, usually artificial, vary much in size, and are not confined to
the neighbourhood of churches. The etymology of the word “moot” (O.E.
_mōt_, M.E. mōt, imōt = meeting, public assembly) at once gives a clue
to the uses of these mounds[177]. It was at spots of this kind, as well
as at other places having characteristic landmarks, that the early
open-air assemblies were wont to meet. Now, in the first place, we
notice, as Sir G. L. Gomme has ably shown, that open-air courts have not
been confined to one race or to one period[178]. Doubtless they are
practically coeval with the formation of the primitive village
community. To attempt to fix the precise date is foreign to our purpose,
it is enough to know that open-air courts preceded the first preaching
of Christianity in Britain. Near some well-known object, then, the men
of the hamlet, the inhabitants of the forest, the warriors of the
hundred, or the tenants of the manor, met to transact their
business[179]. Sir G. L. Gomme has collected a mass of information
concerning these meeting-places. We have seen (p. 34 _supra_) that
monoliths, stone-circles, and ancient burial-places were much favoured
as meeting-places. To this list must be added barrows, tumuli, and
mounds[180]. There is no reason to impede our quest by stopping to
enumerate examples, because the fact is now a commonplace. Besides
ancient burial-mounds, “camps” also served for open-air courts. At
Downton, in Wiltshire, there is a moot-hill about 70 feet high, rising
in six terraces from the river Avon below. Despite any later
alterations, it seems probable that the hillock was constructed within
an earthwork of earlier date. In a small volume entitled _‘The Moot’ and
its Traditions_ (1906), Mr Elias P. Squarey, the proprietor of the Moot
House, Downton, has collected all the available records about this
interesting relic.

The old Welsh laws help us to form a picture of a gathering at a
moot-hill. During a law suit, the judge sat on the circular mound.
Below, on the left hand, sat the plaintiff, the defendant being placed
on the right. The lord must sit behind the judge, and have his back to
the wind or sun, lest he be incommoded. Mr S. O. Addy notes that, as the
court was held in the morning, the lord must have sat towards the East
and faced the West, and that, in this respect, the later indoor court
was a copy of the outdoor court[181]. A word of reminder may be said
concerning the annual ceremonies connected with the Tynwald Hill in the
Isle of Man. Here we have an instance of a national assembly meeting on
a hill to elect officers and promulgate new laws. No law was fully
recognized until it had been proclaimed from this mound. The custom is
still (1910) formally observed. Hard by is a small chapel, built on the
site of an ancient church, and the present day gathering is heralded by
a religious service, the procession to the hill being formed afterwards.

Some of the moot-hills, like that of Pirton (p. 60 _supra_), were Norman
mottes, though possibly not belonging wholly to the Norman period. It is
extremely probable, moreover, that some of the earlier mounds were
either actual British barrows, or were tumps raised for the specific use
of folk-moots. In other words, the first moot-hills would belong to
pagan times, and were therefore used long before the organization of
the Norman form of the manorial system, or the establishment of Norman
mottes. There is hence a likelihood that, where churches stand near
moot-hills, those mounds may, in some cases, be assigned to the
pre-Christian period. Nor would it greatly diminish this probability if
it were proved that some of these hillocks were entirely natural in
their formation. The force of the argument is derived from the fact that
secular affairs and heathen ceremonies were connected with the mounds,
and that it was thought wise to retain the bond by preaching the new
faith from a building erected in the vicinity.

A pertinent fact was observed by Mr James Logan, a generation ago. He
noticed that moot-hills were the seats of assemblies which afterwards
came to be held in churches[182]. Further, he discovered that
stone-circles were also formerly used for meetings: he thus anticipated
the conclusions of later writers. One remarkable instance is given. So
late as A.D. 1380, a Court of Regality was held “_apud le stand and
Stanes de la Rath de Kingusie_[183].” Of the moot-hills proper, Logan
found that these were often actually dedicated to saints. The Hill of
Scone was known as the _Collis Credulitatis_. Here we have obviously a
consecration due to the influence of Christianity. When, at a somewhat
later period, the custom was introduced of holding the courts in
churches, the clergy objected on the ground that the sacred building was
not suited to such a purpose. A canon was issued forbidding the laity to
hold such meetings within the church. These injunctions were frequently
disobeyed[184]. Up to this point, Logan is a safe guide, and his
theories can be justified by documentary evidence. He is supported, too,
by comparative customs. Professor F. Kauffmann, for instance, states
that the pagan temples of the West Teutons were situated near the places
of judgement, where the Things, or popular assemblies, were held[185].
The “doom-rings,” or stone-circles, of Iceland were used as judgement
seats down to a late period. Thus far, Logan’s view is corroborated.
But when, misled apparently by the Christian dedications just referred
to, he proceeds to argue that moot-hills were raised after the use of
churches was disallowed, he exactly reverses the order of events. The
stone-circles, according to his own presentment of facts, must have been
reared for the same cause, and, similarly, at a late period. One
suspects that vague ideas respecting the age of the megaliths led to a
hasty conclusion as to the age of the moot-hills. The real history would
be that the spots most convenient for folk-moots were most suitable for
worship, and that consequently it was politic to build churches there.
To what extent the moot-hills were originally sepulchral is, for the
moment, inessential. That verdict lies with the labourer’s mattock and
spade, not with the theories of the student, who can only collate the
records. To resume: little by little, as we shall find, secular business
began to be transacted in the churches, and the primary purpose of
moot-hills slowly vanished. One result, perhaps, was that the name
“moot-hill,” in some cases, got wrongly applied to mounds that had not
been used for assemblies. This error probably sprang from the confusion
of the moat (_mota_), belonging to the castle-mound, with the better
known and already accredited “moot[186].”

That some of the moot-hills are actually barrows has been proved by
excavation. Duggleby Howe, a moot-hill, or “rath,” in the East Riding,
was opened by Mr J. R. Mortimer for Sir Tatton Sykes in 1880, and was
found to be a prehistoric grave-mound. The relics happened to be very
abundant[187]. To show the fallibility even of conclusions based on the
results of experimental diggings, another case, reported by Mr Mortimer,
may be cited. Eleven miles from the Duggleby moot-hill is another
hillock known as Willy Howe. The two mounds are exactly alike in size,
shape, and other respects, yet, although Willy Howe has been twice
opened, no skeleton has been encountered. Mr Mortimer, evidently anxious
to point a much-needed moral, remarks, “Had the excavation at Duggleby
been no wider than that of Willy Howe, the two graves containing the
primary interments would not have been found[188].” To compare small
things with great, one may recall the boring and the tunnelling of the
famous Silbury Hill. The toil was barren of results, and one feels that
no really safe deduction can be drawn from this negative testimony.

Having admitted that some moot-hills are really mottes, it will be well
to lay stress on the present contention that other moot-hills are of a
date anterior to that of castle-mounds. If _mota_ has been corrupted
into “moot,” the word “moot” itself has also suffered rough treatment.
Mr Mortimer speaks of a knoll which perplexed the antiquaries, because
it was variously known as Mud, Mude, and Mundal Hill. The real name
proved to be Moot Hill, and, although no proper excavations have been
made, a bronze celt has been dug up, along with Mediaeval relics, and Mr
Mortimer believes that the mound is a British grave[189].

Again, though the castle-mound, especially when standing near the parish
church, was convenient as a place of assembly, yet there is a danger in
resting satisfied with this truth, and refusing to probe matters
further. Mr Allcroft notices several examples of so-called moot-hills
which are really castle-mounds, and notices one in particular at
Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey, which is believed to be of this nature. He
observes that this mound is surrounded by a ditch, which would be
useless for a moot-hill, but would be fitting for a motte on which the
lord’s dwelling was built. He therefore concludes that in such cases the
motte was degraded to a moot-hill[190]. This criticism is both acute and
just, but does it cover the whole field? Moots are very ancient
institutions. Is it not quite as likely that, in many instances, the
castle-mound was an earlier moot-hill, and that the fosse was
constructed when the turris was about to be built? And how are we to
know, in the absence of proof to the contrary, that the fosse is not, in
some cases, the encircling trench of a large round barrow, deepened for
purposes of defence? Moreover can the plea of uselessness be valid
against moot-hills, when we remember the frequent occurrence of circular
trenches around these barrows and also around some megaliths? The
trenches may, in some instances, have been incidental to the mode of
construction. These are not idle questions. Some of the moot-hills of
the East Riding seem to be grave-hills which were consecrated by making
incised crosses on the chalky mound to a depth of several feet. The arms
of the cross, in each case, are directed towards the cardinal points. Mr
Mortimer believes that the carving of the symbol on the mound gave
sanctity to the spot[191]. Frankness compels one to note that the local
name for these sunken crosses is _bields_ (= shelters), the underlying
notion being that the trenches were originally dug as cattle shelters,
and that they were made crosswise to afford protection from all quarters
of the heavens. But this explanation could not possibly apply to other
crosses, in low relief, formed of ridges of earth and stones, occurring
on other ancient sites[192]. Nor is it valid for the intaglio crosses,
since these were usually found to have been filled with broken bones and
Saxon shards[193]. As shedding light on these strange discoveries, it
may be noticed that, in old Saxony, an open-air tribunal was consecrated
by digging a grave, into which were thrown ashes, a coal, and a
tile[194]. In passing, we note that these moot-hills are often known
alternatively as Gallows or Galley Hills, names which evidently denote
places set apart for judicial executions[195]. The antiquity of such
names may not be very great, and there is a possibility that the word
“Galley” in some cases simply means poor and unfertile. Yet there are
traditions that gallows stood on these spots, and both the word
“gallows” and the thing denoted are ancient. The word is as old as
Beowulf, and although hanging does not appear to have been a mode of
punishment greatly favoured by the Saxons, it was not altogether
unknown. William the Conqueror made provisions to restrict the practice
of hanging, a penalty which, curious to relate, was in his day thought
more cruel than mutilation[196].

We have now reached this point: a moot-hill may be natural or
artificial, and, if artificial, it may, or may not, be a burial mound.
That the pagan Saxons respected mounds which they believed to be barrows
is fairly evident. Thomas Wright has clearly shown that Roman monumental
inscriptions not infrequently contain warnings against neglect of, or
disrespect to, the tombs of the departed. Besides, therefore, the leaven
of superstition, I consider that we must reckon with the probability of
living knowledge, the result of direct transmission, possessed by those
members of the population who understood debased Latin at the time of
the Teutonic invasion. Some of the venerated mounds were employed as
boundaries[197]. We shall find, at a later stage of our studies, that
the half-Christianized folk were apt to resort to the barrows for the
burial of their dead. Roads are even reported to swerve a little from
their course to avoid a grave-mound. These clues are “light as air, but
strong as links of iron.” The pivotal fact to be remembered is that,
wherever the church-builders found a reputed barrow at a spot not
altogether unsuitable in other respects, they would recognize the
sanctity of the mound, and would be enticed to accept it as a fit
neighbour for the new structure.

A possible illustration seems to be afforded by a hummock which is in
contiguity with the churchyard at Old Hunstanton, Norfolk. Canon A.
Jessopp surmised that this mound was a moot-hill[198], but excavations,
we are now informed, have proved that the knoll is purely natural[199].
Accepting the correctness of this conclusion, one may yet reasonably
retain the hypothesis that the mound was used as an open-air court. Both
the early settlers and the later architects may conceivably have
mistaken the hillock for a sepulchre. Our problem does not concern alone
the character of the knoll, but the purpose to which it was applied. We
have not simply to ask, Is the mound an artifact? but, How came the
church to be associated with the mound? Were such an instance solitary,
it would not be worth a moment’s thought. Contrariwise, if the examples
are numerous, as they undoubtedly are, we are not justified in
dismissing them summarily and without reserve.

The third group of mounds placed in the vicinity of churches will detain
us a still shorter time than did the second. The “Toot Hills” are
frequently confounded with the “Moot Hills,” both in name and nature.
Often, indeed, a particular eminence would serve both purposes, and it
would be difficult to define each class with distinctness. The Toot Hill
at Pirton (p. 60 _supra_) is accepted as a castle motte, though it must
have also been an earthwork watch-tower. Such outposts, or places of
observation, have been employed by many peoples. Xenophon and Herodotus
speak of the σκοπιἁ, or watch-tower, while Cicero and Livy use _specula_
in practically the same sense (view-point or beacon). In Britain the
toot-hills appear to have been utilized throughout the Middle Ages;
perhaps, too, they did not fall into entire disuse until after the
Peninsular War, but were employed, at intervals, in times of stress and
danger. When they did not serve as rallying points, they were still
valuable for beacon-fires.

The word “toot” is almost certainly derived from A. S. _tōtian_, to
project, to peep, the allusion being primarily to the swelling or
protuberance of the ground (cf. _tumulus_) and afterwards to the watch
which was kept from its summit. Professor J. Tait has collected much
interesting lore concerning the word. Thus, the word which in the
Authorized Version of the Bible (Isa. xxi. 8) is rendered “watch-tower”
was translated “toothyl” by Wyclif[200]. The Vulgate renders the term by
_specula_. Mr Allcroft further connects the word “toot” with A.S.
_tutta_, a spy[201]. The absurd etymologies once in vogue, such as that
which associated “toot” with Taith, a pagan deity, are now relinquished.
Among the variations and compounds of “toot” are Tout Hill, Tothill,
Tutt Hill (near Thetford), Tutbury, Tothill Fields, Touting Hill,
Beltout (Sussex), and others. Some of these are familiar to us as names
of villages and districts. Sir John Rhŷs describes vantage-points in the
Isle of Man, which are evidently the equivalents of our toot-hills.
These knolls are called _cronks_, and they are found near churches.
Thus, we have “Cronk yn Iree Laa,” near Jurby, a name which signifies
“Hill of the Rise of Day,” or possibly, “Hill of Watch and Ward[202].”
In Ireland an artificial hillock of this kind is called Moate-o’-Ward,
or alternatively, a rath or Danes’ Grave. In the popular mind, again,
our English word has been associated with burial mounds and banked
enclosures. For instance, a long barrow in Staffordshire is known as the
Fairy’s Toot. The Toot Hill at Uttoxeter was found to contain both
Neolithic and Roman remains. Again, the quadrilateral earthwork at
Toothill, near Macclesfield, is provisionally believed, as the result of
spade-work, to be an early fortification.

Mr S. O. Addy, in his valuable work _The Evolution of the English
House_, speaks of the presence of “Tout” or “Touting Hills” near parish
churches, but, from his descriptions, it would seem that most of his
examples are genuine castle-mounds[203]. In two features, however, the
mound which is a toot-hill, and nothing more, occasionally differs from
the other hillocks which we are


     FIG. 19. The Toot Hill, Little Coates, Lincolnshire. View from the
     North-Eastern boundary. The basal portion of the hill is entirely
     natural, and is now being excavated for sand. The upper portion,
     surmounted by the tree, has been modified artificially.

describing. One characteristic is the great size, as compared with
barrows and mottes, and the other is the irregularity of shape, where
the mound has been untouched by man. The writer’s notebook contains an
account of a visit to the Toot Hill at Little Coates, near Grimsby, in
December, 1903. The church of Little Coates, which is probably of early
foundation, though only the featureless chancel arch of the present
building dates before the Perpendicular Period, is about one-third of a
mile distant. This Toot Hill (Fig. 19) is a huge mound with an irregular
ground plan, but the upper portion has an elliptical contour. It is
composed chiefly of sand and sandy clays, which seem to belong to the
late Glacial Period. A sand pit which was being worked at the base of
one side of the hill, yielded broken and comminuted specimens of
_Ostrea_, _Tellina_, and other marine shells. Towards the summit,
however, there were undoubted signs of man’s work. A slight fall of snow
had rendered discernible a shallow trench which encompassed the hill
slope. One could also pick out, near the base, the radial ridges and
furrows of some old-time plough, but even these had not quite
obliterated the trench. A few small flint flakes were detected on a
patch bare of turf. One suspects that this hill served both as a beacon
and a watch-tower when the Humber and the North Sea were nearer the
spot, and when Grimsby was represented by a string of islets lying amid
the waters of a lagoon. This condition of the landscape is known to have
prevailed during the early historic period. The capping of the mound
covers, mayhap, the dust of more than one celebrity. Bones and
earthenware were found at, or near, this spot a century ago, and soon
after the visit just described skeletons were dug up in the sand pit.
The ultimate fate of these skeletons, and their determinations, could
not be ascertained. Perchance this toot-hill will remind the visitor of
the cremation of Beowulf, and the mound which “the Weders people wrought
on the hill,” after the funeral-pyre which they had kindled had ceased
to glow. We learn that the lamenting warriors raised

    “A howe on the lithe (=body), that was high and broad,
     Unto the wave-farers wide to be seen,
     Then it they betimbered in time of ten days,
     The battle-strong’s beacon.”

We pause for a moment to recapitulate briefly our records and results.
Wherever a mound which is intimately associated with a church is of
Norman or post-Norman construction, it tells of feudal convenience and
the centralization of business; perhaps, too, of religious expediency,
with more than a hint of the secular use of the church. In a lesser
degree, this argument of convenience applies also to the Saxon nobles.
One of the means by which a ceorl could secure thegn-right, was by
building a church, and if he followed this method, it is probable he
would prefer to erect the church near his dwelling. Again, the
connection of churches with pre-Norman moot-hills or toot-hills, whether
these were “blind” mounds or grave-knolls, suggests the deliberate
choice of sites already famous. And if it be granted that the Norman
motte had, even by exception, a rudimentary origin in the Saxon period,
reasoned selection is again indicated. A mound which was the seat of
judicial and legislative assemblies would be so indissolubly linked with
the religious ceremonies of the community or tribe, that the site of the
future church may be said to have been almost predetermined.

The mounds which form our last series are the grave-hills or barrows.
These features, when found near Christian places of worship, form such a
critical test of intentional selection, that each record should be
closely scanned. British examples of the barrow and the church as
neighbours are not very abundant. In parts of the Continent, however,
the records are so numerous and so obvious that they crave a more
lenient inspection. Few European countries have been overrun by the
invader during the last fifteen hundred years to the same degree as
Britain. Churches have been pulled down and rebuilt, or they have been
fired and deserted, and, long afterwards, restored. The surrounding
churchyards have been trenched and dug far more intensively than the
treasure-field of Aesop’s fable. The spade has disturbed and distributed
flints and shards, and any other primitive relics have been broken and
scattered so many times that their original positions are unknown.
Levelling has followed inequality, and, in some cases, the graveyard has
been enlarged and a secondary dispersal of soil has been made. (The
observations on burial shards in Chapter VII. should be read in this

We will start with some of the less-authenticated examples first. A
mound, long thought to be a barrow, but now considered to be quite
natural, stands near Woodnesborough church, Sandwich, Kent. No trenching
of the mound, however, has been recorded. The late Mr T. W. Shore
recorded several instances of churchyard barrows from Hampshire, but I
am not aware that the true character of these particular mounds has ever
been investigated. Thus, at Corhampton, a church of Saxon foundation is
actually built on a mound, while at Cheriton, the church is not only
placed on a hillock, but it is also adjacent to a permanent spring[204].
This collocation of church and spring, it may be remarked, will greet
us continually. In the churchyard of Ogbourne Maisey, Wiltshire, a fine
“tumulus” stands close to the river[205], and Mr F. J. Bennett, who
records this example, informs me that there was formerly another mound
in Allington churchyard, Kent. This last example, one is disposed to
think, may have been an outpost of Allington Castle.

The next mound which deserves attention is situated just outside the
North wall of the churchyard of Over Worton, Oxfordshire. It is a round
hillock, and has a circumference of 198 feet. Except that it is
tree-clad, it has the characteristics of the other round barrows of the
district. The assertion has been made that the mound merely represents a
heap of rubbish removed from the churchyard, but a living witness, whose
memory covers the date assigned to its construction, denies this story,
and states that the hillock was there previously[206].


     FIG. 20. Supposed barrow in Berwick churchyard, Sussex. The base of
     the mound is marked by the white crosses, and by the horizontal
     tombstone in the foreground.

With respect to a mound which I recently discovered in Berwick
churchyard near Lewes, in Sussex, nothing is definitely known. This
mound, which occupies the South-Western corner of the graveyard, and
which stands but a few yards from the church, appears to be mainly, if
not altogether, artificial, and is most probably a barrow. It is
slightly elliptical in shape, the diameters being approximately 48 and
42 feet respectively, while its height is about seven feet. A large
sycamore and a horse chestnut overshadow the hillock; the former tree is
shown to the spectator’s right in Fig. 20. On this side also, towards
the base of the mound, a monumental cross is seen. In digging the grave
beneath, it is said that hard chalk was soon reached, but this proves
little, since the excavation was made near the foot of the hillock. No
other graves have been dug in the mound. On the whole, and in default of
actual trenching, I am disposed to consider this mound a true burial
place. Its small size and the absence of an outer court seem to preclude
the idea of its having been a defensive mound of the moated type.

A large barrow, hitherto unexplored, lies concealed in a wood near Ryton
church, in county Durham[207]. Another knoll, bearing the name of
Brinklow Mount, stands to the East of Brinklow churchyard, Warwickshire,
and is believed to have been originally a grave-hill, though afterwards
made to serve as a motte[208]. A low mound near Great Wigborough church,
Essex, is reputed to be the burial place of soldiers killed in battle,
but it is probably a true barrow.

One of the most interesting of these mounds, speculatively barrows, to
be seen near London, is situated on the Northern side of Chislehurst
churchyard, Kent. This hillock is surmounted by an altar tomb, the
horizontal slab of which now rests on the plinth. No tidings can be
gleaned respecting the origin of the mound. For reasons which appear to
be satisfactory to the writer, and which will be considered at a later
stage (Chapter VIII.), a knoll of this kind would scarcely be expressly
raised over an ordinary grave or vault on the North side of the
graveyard so early as the year 1712, the date when Caleb Trenchfield was
interred in the mound. The fact that this gentleman did not


     FIG. 21. View of Chislehurst churchyard from the North side,
     showing tumulus. (From a print in D. Lyson’s _Environs of London_,
     1795-1800.) Incidentally, the illustration shows the fewness of the
     tombstones on the North side of the churchyard, a century ago.

belong to the ordinary rank of village folk would render burial in that
quarter the more noticeable, since the practice of burial on the North
side was then unusual. But a mound of this size would not be heaped up
to cover a single vault. One would infer that, unless Mr Trenchfield
left instructions for an extraordinary kind of burial, the mound existed
long before, and had no connection with Christian interments. Mr E. A.
Webb, the able historian of Chislehurst, has kindly supplied all the
available facts about the tomb. Two trees were planted on the mound, as
the evidence shows, only a few years after the burial, in 1712. The
growth of the trees first damaged and then broke the monument, and they
were therefore cut down. Mr Webb states that there is no record that
the mound has ever been opened, save at the funeral of Mr
Trenchfield[209]. An illustration of the mound and tomb as given by
Daniel Lysons about the year 1800, is shown in Fig. 21. Pending further
excavations, which are, however, not likely to be made, I should place
the mound, with reserve, under the present section of our subject.

Near Bramber church, in Sussex, there is a group of “valley mounds,” 27
in number. They are circular, and have a diameter of from 15 to 20
yards. Around each of these low eminences, which are flat-topped, runs a
ditch. A group of 38 similar mounds is situated between Applesham Creek
and Coombe church. Trial holes, which were sunk in 1908-9, under the
direction of the Brighton and Hove Archaeological Club, brought to light
bones, a Mediaeval knife, and pottery which was assigned by Mr F. W.
Reader to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The real nature of the
mounds is still, however, undetermined.

We may amplify our references after glancing at the map of Yorkshire.
Speeton church, near Bridlington, is said to be built on a tumulus[210].
Again, Mr Mortimer discovered that a burial-ground, or, at least, a
barrow, lay beneath Fimber church, in the East Riding. His excavations,
made in 1869, brought to light flint implements, pottery, shells, and
human bones[211]. The vanished building at Chapel Carn Brea, in
Cornwall, which stood on the crest of a conspicuous hill, is another
instance of a church built on, or near, a sepulchral mound[212]. The
neighbourhood of this last church abounds with antiquities, and traces
of about 100 hut circles have been recorded[213].

Oftentimes, in places where no mound is visible in the church garth, the
soil still holds relics which denote archaic interments. During the
repairs which were made some five-and-twenty years ago, at the East end
of Wyre Piddle church in Worcestershire, two skeletons were discovered
in a sitting posture. The faces were disposed towards the North-East.
With the bones were found the remains of iron shield-bosses. A kind of
rough pavement was also reached under the soil of the churchyard. The
interments had been made prior to the introduction of Christianity[214],
and a mound may once have marked the spot. From the churchyard of
Llanbedr, in the Vale of Conway, a somewhat analogous find is recorded.
Six feet below the surface, the sexton’s spade struck a flat slab of
stone, and underneath this was found a crouching, or kneeling, skeleton,
surrounded by boars’ tusks[215]. The district around is rich in British

Some forty years ago, when the church tower of East Blatchington,
Sussex, was being restored, an urn containing burnt bones and charcoal
was discovered. The precise nature of the urn, and its after-history, do
not seem to be known. Urns were also discovered during the restoration
of Arlington church, in the same county, in the year 1892. Among the
Saxon graves which have been disturbed by the modern sexton, two Kentish
examples should be noted. In a churchyard at Faversham, the frontal bone
of a human cranium and a Saxon tumbler of transparent green glass were
dug up in the year 1853[217]. A bell-shaped cup of glass, ornamented
with vertical ribs, was found associated with a skull and other human
bones in the churchyard at Minster. The bones represented a skeleton
which was computed to be eight feet in length[218]. Whether or not the
burial-places at Faversham and Minster were ever capped with mounds must
remain undecided. It is quite probable that a small “howe” of some kind
marked the spot in each case. These Kentish discoveries add
enlightenment in another direction. At a meeting of the Prehistoric
Society of East Anglia, held at Norwich, in February, 1910, there was
exhibited a polished axe which came from the churchyard of Gresham, in
Norfolk. At the same meeting, Mr J. Cox showed a chipped celt which had
been built into Gresham church tower. Its presence there was most
probably accidental, though it is well to recall the Breton practice of
building stone axes into chimneys to ward off lightning. Mr Stephen
Blackmore, the aged “Shepherd of the Downs,” who has long been known as
a collector of Neolithic implements, informs me that he secured an
excellent polished flint hatchet from a depth of four or five feet in
East Dean churchyard, Sussex. Again, in the Brighton Museum, there are
displayed two fine flint celts, the one polished, the other neatly
chipped. They were obtained from South Harting churchyard, Sussex. The
chipped specimen came from a depth of three feet below the surface[219].
No further details can be gleaned, but, as the celts are of the types
occurring in barrows of the Neolithic and Aeneolithic periods, one may
suppose that the church is adjacent to the resting-place of some
prehistoric chieftain. This is only a reasonable hypothesis, but the
discoveries at Pytchley, Northamptonshire, in 1845, lie outside the
domain of guesswork. The church was built in the early Norman period.
Situated partly under the fabric itself, and partly under the present
graveyard, a British cemetery was found. Although only a small area was
excavated, twenty kist-vaens were uncovered. The Rev. W. Abner Brown,
who described the graves, believed that the Norman builders were
ignorant of the kists over which they placed their foundations, and that
the stone graves belonged to Romanized Christians. It does indeed seem
strange that pillars should be built over small hollow chambers; yet,
interpolated between these chambers and the Norman graveyard, was still
another burial ground, which had been used by the villagers long before
the Norman Conquest. Again, while it is stated that the bodies lay East
and West, “or nearly so,” this alone does not prove Christian influence.
A pre-christian date might be inferred from the relics, though these
were few. Besides Roman coins and scraps of pottery, the scanty list of
grave-gifts included a perforated tusk of the wild boar, and a rude
amethystine crystal “eardrop.” British earthenware was also found, and
the whole of the data seem rather to point to continuity. We must
remember that the surface of the churchyard once stood at a lower
level, and a narrow pathway of pebbles was actually found at a depth of
six feet. The Norman architects, then, most likely knew that they were
building over a graveyard of some kind, even as the Saxons may have been
aware that their own cemetery was superimposed upon a still older

By far the best-known churchyard tumulus, and the one which has most
successfully stood the test of exploration, is that of Taplow, in
Buckinghamshire. A study of this barrow, which remains in the old
churchyard of the village, near Taplow Court, will help to elucidate
some of the other difficulties. The church itself is no longer visible,
though its ruins remained on the spot until 1853. On clearing away the
masonry, it was seen that the foundations of the building passed through
an ancient ditch. The church had been erected at the Eastern end of an
enclosure, the centre of which was dominated by the barrow. The whole
occupied high ground, known locally as Bury Fields[221]. The folk-lorist
will note, in passing, how valuable these philological details are,
since names of this kind are not uncommon, and they generally seem to
preserve the tradition of some actual event. To proceed with the
description: from time to time fragments of pottery--British, Roman, and
Saxon--together with well-worked flint flakes, had been collected on, or
near, the surface of the village graveyard[222]. The evidence showed
that the tumulus had been intentionally shut in when the boundaries of
the churchyard were first fixed. At a later date, a yew tree had been
planted on the grave-hill, and the trunk of this ancient tree was still
in existence when digging was started in the year 1883.

Briefly, the following observations were recorded. Scattered throughout
the uppermost layer of the soil, to a depth of two or three feet, the
explorers found pieces of dressed chalk. These are supposed to have
formed part of a Norman doorway, and were doubtless buried when the
church was restored, or rebuilt, in the fourteenth century[223]. A
confusing feature was the discovery, at various levels, of coarse
pottery, bones, bone tools, hammer stones, flint flakes, and flint
cores[224]. These objects were found “in larger measure at the top of
the mound, but were at no time absent[225].” Yet, at the very bottom of
the barrow, scraps of Samian ware and a portion of a Roman “brick” were
exposed[226]. These Roman vestiges, lying at the lowest horizon, showed
that the mound could not be Celtic. All the objects hitherto described
might have been collected, along with the soil, from lower levels when
the pile was raised. Are we driven to marvel at the surprising wealth of
relics? If so, we must remember that the spot had some strategical
importance, and had doubtless been occupied by Britons and Romans long
before the occasion of the construction of the barrow. There is no
necessity here to relate the engrossing story in greater detail, since
this has been fully done by Dr J. Stevens and Mr Reginald A. Smith. It
is enough to state that the barrow was heaped up to cover the remains of
a Saxon chieftain. This was distinctly shown by the character of the
grave-furniture--drinking horns, military trappings, utensils, and
ornaments of Saxon date. The circumstances connected with this primary
burial, as well as the relics, showed that the interment was of the
non-Christian type[227].

For our next example we turn to the history of Ludlow. Down to the close
of the twelfth century, the parish churchyard of that town occupied the
site of a tumulus. In A.D. 1199, the barrow was cleared away, and there
were disclosed sepulchral relics which pointed to a Roman origin. The
clergy, however, declared that the remains were those of Irish saints,
and thus turned the discovery to good account[228]. This ludicrous
ecclesiastical fiction serves one purpose, and by good chance it speeds
us in our present business. Through this tale we get a hint that the
priests of the Middle Ages were inquisitive about the contents of
barrows. Hallowed bones and mythical treasure formed the lure. Canon
Jessopp has related numerous instances of this Mediaeval “hill-digging”
for treasure in the county of Norfolk[229]. Thomas Wright put the other
side of the matter in a way which arrests the eye and ear of every
modern antiquary, for he thought that he could adduce, from monastic
legends, a hundred distinct examples of the opening of barrows to search
for the bones of saints[230]. From this keen dissection of ancient
burial mounds, we may infer that even the Mediaeval churchmen imputed
sanctity to barrows, although the belief found expression in paradoxical
acts of desecration.

In alluding to discoveries like that of Pytchley, we approached the
subject of cemeteries, rather than that of barrows. A few instances of
pagan burial-grounds lying beneath Christian churches may be cited. The
oft-quoted case of St Paul’s Cathedral does not properly fall under this
head. It is true that, at various times, a number of ox-skulls and
boars’-tusks have been discovered beneath the foundations. Tradition
says that the cathedral stands on the site of a temple dedicated to
Diana[231]. The legend may be fallacious, for the finding of a heap of
animal bones scarcely warrants the assumption of a pagan temple, much
less of a pagan burial-place. Rather is the indication towards one of
those foundation sacrifices, which might profitably engage attention in
another volume. Moreover, the site of St Paul’s has always been a
prolific field for Roman relics, hence it is within possibility that the
bones are accidental items of a greater depository of rejected remains.

Other records, however, may pass unquestioned. At Lewes, in Sussex[232],
and at Mentmore[233], in Buckinghamshire, churches have been built, if
not on the actual sites of Saxon cemeteries, at least, very near them.
With respect to the Mentmore interments, it is to be noted that those
bodies of which the positions were recorded lay East and West[234].
According to the view, now widely held, such a position indicates
Christian burial, but, as will later be shown (p. 248 _infra_), the rule
is by no means absolute. Unfortunately, the concomitant relics were so
few as to yield little support to either theory. This difficulty is
peculiarly noticeable in churchyard discoveries. Either the records date
from the pre-scientific period of excavation, or, from the nature of the
case, little modern exploration can be attempted. Thus, numerous relics
have been dug up at various times near the West side of another
Northamptonshire church,--that of Whittlebury. These relics comprise a
bronze celt, Roman coins, an inscribed legionary tile, and several
uninscribed tiles[235]. Such articles may suggest a burial-ground, or,
at least, an inhabited site, but obviously no systematic excavations can
be made.

Discoveries made at Alphamstone, in Essex, near the boundary of that
county and Suffolk, and not far from the little town of Bures, deserve
some attention. It has been a somewhat lengthy task to obtain the
precise particulars relating to the discoveries, which date from the
year 1905 onwards, but through the courtesy of Miss A. Stebbing, the
Rev. P. Saben, and Mr Arthur G. Wright, the Curator of the Corporation
Museum at Colchester, I am able to present an epitome of the finds. On a
spur of the hill projecting into the valley, through which flows a small
tributary of the Stour, there must have been a kind of cemetery
belonging to the Bronze Age. The surface soil is underlain by sand, and
this, again, by fine gravel. Workmen, digging for gravel, have, at
various times, lighted upon urns, the bodies of which rested in the
sandy layer. The specimens have now been secured, by gift or purchase,
for the Colchester Museum. Through the kindness of the present rector,
the Rev. P. Saben, a group of these urns is shown in Fig. 22, though it
is doubtful whether these were all taken from one grave. With the
vessels were associated numbers of white quartz pebbles, which occur
naturally in the sand and gravel, but which may have been collected by
the mourners who deposited the ashes in the urns (cf. p. 299 _infra_).
The interest of these Alphamstone discoveries lies in the fact that,
some 200 yards distant, on the same projection of the hill, the village


     FIG. 22. Group of urns (Bronze Age) found near Alphamstone church,
     Essex. The large “cinerary urn,” in the middle of the group, is
     ornamented with bands of cord-markings, which form a chevron-like
     pattern. On the left is a “food-vessel,” of coarse buff-coloured
     ware, with overhanging rim. Of the smaller vessels on the right,
     one bears an incised trellis pattern on the rim, the other has
     vertical cord lines.

church was built. It has, indeed, been asserted that an urn was dug up
in the churchyard itself, but of this I can obtain no confirmation. The
late incumbent, the Rev. R. H. Anketell, for the loan of whose
manuscript I am indebted to Miss Stebbing, strongly argued that the
church was erected on a barrow, but Mr Wright’s observations do not
verify this hypothesis. A second discovery, however, was made under the
church and in the churchyard during the recent restoration of the
building. This consisted of a number of boulders, some vertical, others
recumbent, pitted with what are popularly known as “pebble-holes.” The
stones were all devoid of tooling. The proximate origin of the stones
was the Boulder Clay of the district. Two of the blocks were found
under the angles of the tower, two others came from beneath the chancel,
while three were situated in, or near, the churchyard. It is also known
that other specimens had been carried away in past times, for the
purpose of repairing walls and farm buildings. Mr Anketell considered
that the church had been built over a stone-circle, but one must
hesitate a little before yielding assent. The group of stones may
represent a portion of the builder’s stock, yet we must interpret the
discovery by the light of similar occurrences. It should be added, as
establishing another bond of continuity, that Roman pottery is turned up
from time to time in the neighbourhood.

In pondering the foregoing examples, we ought frequently to call to our
aid comparative customs in more remote parts of the British Isles.
Taking Ireland, for instance, it will be seen that that country is
fertile in the kind of evidence so deplorably scanty in those portions
of Britain which have been most disturbed and overrun by the spoiler.
One instance alone, as related by Mr W. G. Wood-Martin, will exemplify
the difference in the quality of the evidence. In the graveyard of the
very early church at St John’s Point, co. Down, there were discovered
numerous pagan graves arranged in a circle. Within this series, and
arranged concentrically, was another ring of smaller graves, while the
common centre was marked by a stone pillar[236]. After this concluding
example, we may sum up this side of the evidence. Occasionally, it must
be admitted, the juxtaposition of pagan and Christian burials may be the
result of coincidence. Pre-Christian burials are so abundant and so
widely scattered that, by chance, the church builders may have stumbled
on a forgotten cemetery. But this explanation will not cover the whole
of the cases. While it may be urged, with respect to the Alphamstone
cemetery, that there was probably a break in continuity, due to the
slackening of folk-memory, the objection is manifestly irrelevant to the
Taplow barrow, which must have been a conspicuous object when the
foundations of the church were being laid. Even with examples of the
Alphamstone type, there is the witness of tradition and superstition to
be heard. The salutary respect which was paid to the dead by primitive
folk, and the superstitious beliefs, cherished, half in fear, half in
hope, were centred around burial-places. These are facts to be graven on
the tablets of the memory of every archaeologist. Realizing how potent,
even to-day, are the traditions of ghosts, and fairies, and hidden
treasure, wherever the dead are known to lie, and remembering that
folk-memory has frequently proved to be sound in the identification of
graves previously overlooked by the antiquary, we are bound to conclude
that nothing short of the extermination of the whole of the inhabitants
of a country-side could completely wipe away such recollections. Even
to-day, after several centuries of the printed book, and several decades
of the day school, the most definite legends, and those with the
greatest living force, are those which the peasant connects with graves
and ghosts. How much stronger was this kind of tradition when delivered
orally from father to son, and when all folk alike were under the spell
of superstition!

If it be objected that the majority of Gothic churches, perhaps even the
majority of existing Saxon churches, do not stand near pagan
burial-grounds, that the general rule was to establish new cemeteries at
a distance from the old, one would naturally answer that it is just
these exceptions which prove that the chain of continuity was never
absolutely broken. The examples where old sites were seized upon might,
at first, be relatively numerous, but they would tend to become fewer
and fewer, as adherence to ancient heathen custom weakened. A time would
arrive when, save to combat a prejudice, the pagan spots would be
completely shunned, and all churches would be built on soil newly
hallowed. The evidence must be judged as a whole, and especial weight
will have to be allowed for the records of holy wells, which we must
review before closing the chapter. A combination of features will often
impress the most sceptical. When we find, hidden away in a wilderness of
moors and hills at Bewcastle, in the Northern corner of Cumberland, the
remains of a Mediaeval castle close to a restored twelfth century
church, while the shaft of a seventh century cross stands hard by, and
when we notice that a Roman camp of hexagonal outline--a rare
feature--encloses all these objects[237], we are justified in tracing a
causal connection. What, but deliberate purpose, conspired to make
warrior, churchman, and feudal lord, one after the other, settle in this
remote fastness? Confronted with testimony of this kind, the burden of
proof must rest upon those who would see, here and there, a distinct
hiatus in the history of social development. A parallel may be drawn
from the science of organic evolution. Recent researches have taught us
that we must be prepared to encounter “mutations” in the lines of
descent. It is also undeniable that ethnology may present us with
similar mutations, caused, for instance, by the advent of a conquering
race or a new religion. The fresh factor may produce either an
exaltation or a retrogression, nevertheless, the general external and
internal aspects of folk-custom will, for a long time afterwards, suffer
little alteration, and the movement which is visible at the surface will
not influence the undercurrents of belief to a corresponding extent. If
the modification of the outward signs may be incautiously exaggerated,
the strength of the unseen movements of belief may be carelessly deemed
exhausted, when, in truth, it has scarcely waned at all. The hidden
pagan forces which exist in England to-day, though they are normally
kept in check by conventional habits and national religion, are well
known to the professed student of survivals, while they are largely
ignored by the orthodox historian. On the whole, then, experience
teaches that the introduction of an alien religion does not interpose an
impassable gulf between the old and the new, but that there will follow
gentle transitions in custom, probably masked, for the time, by local
outbursts of fanaticism or by the apparent sudden conversion, in certain
districts, of large masses of the people. Beneath these disquieting
superficial symptoms, there runs, in the main, an unbroken sequence of
life and custom.

The present place seems convenient for expressing a warning against
certain false appearances which an old graveyard may present. Often the
area has been girdled with a trench, several feet in depth, in order to
afford greater protection against the intrusion of cattle than could be
provided by a railing or a stone wall alone. By this means, too, the
animals are prevented from browsing upon evergreen hedges where these
are planted. This double barrier is especially necessary when the church
is in the neighbourhood of a park, in which deer are kept. The
wall-and-ditch arrangement, or even the ditch only, is common in the
West country, though it is not infrequent in other districts. To allow
the entrance of worshippers to the churchyard, and at the same time to
baulk the efforts of cattle, a single block of stone, or a “grid”
composed of two or three narrow slabs, set edgeways, is placed across
the trench to form a bridge. A subsidiary purpose of the ditch is that
of drainage. Or again, where the ditch is absent, rude stone pillars,
sloping outwards from the base, serve as a strait gateway. All these
features may suggest to the unwary a simple system of fortification.
Moreover, one may often trace, in the vicinity of the church, vestiges
of earthen banks, the remains of the boundaries of a Mediaeval village
(cf. p. 16 _supra_). Thus there is a double possibility of deception. A
dry ditch does not necessarily denote antiquity. A favourite method of
setting about the enclosure of an estate or the establishment of a
coppice was to construct a trench along the proposed limits, and this
mode of delimitation seems also to have commended itself occasionally to
the churchmen of old. This practice, I am inclined to think, accounts
for the “moat,” now filled up, which formerly encircled the churchyard
at Tooting, in the South-West of London, about two miles distant from
the place where these lines are being written. Yet the late Mr T. W.
Shore, the well-known archaeologist, suggested that the church had been
built within a small British earthwork[238]. The position of the church,
at the foot of a steep hill, seems to negative this theory, and to point
to a later period, when the Church had quite triumphed over paganism.

There is a still more seductive danger to entice the credulous
investigator who, having heard of churchyard tumuli, would fain see
barrows everywhere. Many churches have the appearance of standing on
artificial hillocks simply because, for a score of generations, the
surface of the ground has been continually raised by a succession of
interments. The effect is most marked where the graveyard is of limited
area, and is held up by strong containing masonry. The soil has long
been confined within a definite space, and the turf is now almost on a
level with the coping of the walls. The curvature of the surface and the
bulging walls tell the rest of the story. Near the fabric, the feet of
the visitor are almost in a horizontal plane with the sill of the Early
English or Decorated window, so that a trench, lined with concrete, has
been cut to preserve the walls from damp. The interpretation is obvious.
The building, instead of being perched on a knoll, is actually in
process of being sunk within a hillock which has grown up around it. Let
us revert for an instant to the concealed pathway which was found six
feet below the present surface at Pytchley churchyard. One imagines that
this difference of level may sometimes be considerably exceeded. Huxley
tells us that the skeleton of a full-grown man weighs, on the average,
24 lbs.[239] According to the analyses of bone made by Berzelius, 67 per
cent. of this weight--roughly, 16 lbs.--consists of mineral salts which
are practically indestructible[240]. Though the actual bulk of this
residue is small, we must add to it the miscellaneous materials of the
more permanent parts of the funeral furniture. This latter factor would
become important after the use of coffins had spread to all classes of
village folk.

Among the most striking examples of elevated graveyards which have come
under my notice are those at Telscombe and Rottingdean in Sussex;
Brighstone or Brixton, in the Isle of Wight; and Milton Lilbourne, in
Wiltshire. Various writers have noticed a like feature in Breton and
Basque churchyards. After perusing these records afresh, two passages
from the writings of observant travellers come to mind. The first is
from Peter Kalm, the Swede, who visited England in 1748. He noticed
that the floor of the English church often goes deeper down than the
surface of the churchyard soil. From this, he inferred either that the
church had sunk, or that the earth of the churchyard had been raised,
owing to burials; unless, indeed, soil had been brought to the spot.
William Cobbett’s _Rural Rides_ affords a strong corroboration of the
facts. Cobbett’s keen eye missed little, and his quick intuition
sometimes--by no means always--suggested the correct explanation of
features which more careless tourists would have overlooked altogether.
The passage refers to the village of Rogate, near Petersfield in
Hampshire, and his remarks are so apt that a full quotation may be
pardoned. The letter is dated 12 November, 1825. “When we came to the
village of Rogate, I saw a little group of persons standing before a
blacksmith’s shop. The churchyard was on the other side of the road,
surrounded by a low wall. The earth of the churchyard was about four
feet and a half higher than the common level of the ground round about
it; and you may see, by the nearness of the church windows to the
ground, that this bed of earth has been made by the innumerable burials
that have taken place in it. The group, consisting of the blacksmith,
the wheelwright, perhaps, and three or four others, appeared to me to be
in a deliberative mood. So I said, looking significantly at the
churchyard, ‘It has taken a pretty many thousands of your forefathers to
raise that ground up so high.’ ‘Yes, sir,’ said one of them[241].”
Cobbett then proceeds with a little socratic questioning of the
villagers, in order to point a political moral, but with this we are not
concerned. As he trots off on his nag, however, he begins to estimate
how many hundreds of years a church has stood on the spot, and here our
musings may be in accord with his once more.

Having passed in review those churches built on Roman sites, and those
which are associated with earthworks, megaliths, and burial places, we
deal next with churches which stand near sacred wells. The testimony
which falls into this class yields the most satisfactory, as well as
the most ample, proof of the bequest of pagan sites to the Christian
community. At the outset, it must be admitted that the juxtaposition of
a sacred spring and a church does not, in every case, prove the adoption
of a purely pagan site of primitive repute. Throughout the Middle Ages
pilgrimages to hallowed wells were approved by the Church. Nevertheless,
the custom had a pagan origin, and undoubtedly, the sacred spring was
visited long before it was appropriated, and perhaps enclosed, by church

The literature of holy wells is, if scattered, rather extensive, and the
various customs connected with well-dressing, with the offering of gifts
to the divinity of the waters, and with the belief in sympathetic magic,
are familiar to most folk. Here, an enraged peasant thrusts a number of
pins into a wax doll, and throws the object into the spring, fully
believing that his enemy will be injured in that part of the body which
corresponds to the pierced portion of the image. There, a well is
overhung by an immemorial thorn, which is decorated with parti-coloured
rags,--offerings which are reputed to relieve the devotee of his
sickness. Yonder, the muddy bottom of the spring hides a number of pins
and copper coins, the humble oblations of the ignorant.

The superstitions referred to are most rampant in Ireland, Wales, and
Cornwall, but they still survive also in remote parts of East Anglia,
Yorkshire, Northumberland, and other districts. Perhaps the best known
English examples of holy wells are at Tissington, Derbyshire (cf. p. 16
_supra_). At this village there are several wells, or rather fountains,
but the most celebrated gushes out of the hill below the parish church.
On Ascension Day, a kind of floral mosaic, designed on a framework, is
placed over this fountain. After this has been done, a religious service
is held. From statements made by various writers, it would appear that,
of old, the ceremony took place on May Day, and that flowers and fruits
were preserved long beforehand for this festival, which at its inception
was essentially pagan[242]. One need scarcely insist on the other
evidence which marks May Day as a heathen feast, but it would be
advantageous to recall the fact that well-worship was practised by the
ancients. Classical writings contain many allusions to the decoration of
wells with garlands, to the flinging of nosegays into fountains, to the
veneration paid to the nymphs of springs and streams. Now, as in the
case of megaliths and tumuli, springs which already had a great
reputation would appeal strongly to the Christian missionaries. By
annexing a site which was accounted holy, the apostles would secure that
gentle transition of ideas which the times demanded. The spring would,
of course, be re-dedicated. There would also be the subsidiary motive of
advantage. A church built near a perennial spring would always have a
supply of water for baptismal purposes, or for the washing of vessels.
Indeed, after the lapse of centuries, this secondary reason would
doubtless be advanced as having alone determined the choice of site.

St Patrick and his followers, who, we are told, almost invariably chose
heathen sites for their churches, did not neglect the sacred wells.
Once, at least, St Patrick preached at a fountain “which the Druids
worshipped as a god[243].” One illuminating custom must be noted. At the
well of Tubberpatrick, in the parish of Dungiven, co. Derry, the
devotees of the well, after having uttered their prayers and washed
themselves in the waters, hang up their rags on a neighbouring bush.
Then they proceed to a standing stone below the church, repeat their
prayers, walk round the stone, and bow themselves. Next, they enter the
church, where a similar ceremony takes place. Finally, they return in
procession to the upright stone. This account is given on the authority
of Mr W. G. Wood-Martin, to whose valuable works on Ireland the reader
is referred. We pass on to notice that Sweden is similarly rich in
tradition. Professor O. Montelius asserts that offering wells are
frequently found near stone-circles, just as these are often met with in
the neighbourhood of churches (cf. p. 28 _supra_). Some of these wells
have received tributes in recent times[244].

Scotland does not appear to have been pre-eminently noted for
well-worship. Sacred wells have, however, been recorded as existing near
the churches of Little Dunkeld, in Perthshire, Musselburgh,
Strathfillan, and many other places[245]. Perhaps some of our best
illustrations of the well-cult are derived from Wales. We will note, in
passing, Sir G. L. Gomme’s conclusions, which he based on a large number
of observations, respecting the wells of Ireland and Wales. In Ireland,
the highest point reached by the primitive cult of well-worshippers was
to identify the deity as a rain-god, while in Wales the tradition
centred around a guardian spirit. A few Welsh examples may now be
briefly noted. A famous spring is that of St Tecla, Virgin and Martyr,
situated about 200 yards from Llandegla church[246]. Sir John Rhŷs
records the well known as Ffynnon Beris (_Ffynon_ = well), near the
parish church of Llanberis, and the healing waters of Ffynnon Faglan (=
Baglan’s Well), close to the church at Llanfaglan, in
Carnarvonshire[247]. This authority has also shown that, in some
instances, there existed, until late times, a guardian of the well,
though whether the “priesthood” was acquired by inheritance or otherwise
could not be ascertained. Thus, at St Elian’s Well, near Llanelian
church, in Denbighshire, a “priestess” had charge of the well so late as
the close of the eighteenth century. At the healing well of St Teilo,
hard by the ruined church of Llandeilo Llwydarth, in North
Pembrokeshire, the calvaria of a skull, reputed to be that of St Teilo,
was, even within our generation, handed to the patient. With this
strange cup he secured a draught which was warranted to cure
whooping-cough. The adjacent churchyard, it may be observed, contains
two of the oldest post-Roman inscriptions in the Principality. Sir John
Rhŷs thinks that the well was probably sacred before the days of St
Teilo, and that its ancient sanctity was one of the causes which decided
the choice of the ground for the erection of the church. The faith in
the well remains intact while the church walls are in utter decay.
Well-paganism has annexed the saint, and has established a belief in the
efficacy of the skull in well-ritual[248]. From North Pembrokeshire we
turn to South Pembrokeshire, to that district known as “Little England
beyond Wales,” which presents so many interesting problems to the
ethnologist and the archaeologist. It was in the year 1898 that Mr A. L.
Leach, whose careful researches in this district are now familiar to
many, first pointed out to me the interesting chalybeate springs in the
churchyard of Gumfreston, near Tenby. The waters were reputed to have
great medicinal virtue[249], and there can be little doubt that the
existence of the springs proved an inducement to the church builders.
The church itself, and the entire surroundings, will be found worthy of
retrospect later.

We pass across to the Marches and find the holy church wells almost as
numerous in Western England as in the Principality. In the county of
Salop alone we have examples at Donington, Stoke St Milborough, Ludlow
Friary, and Wenlock Priory[250]. In the Midlands, we notice St Chad’s
Well at Lichfield[251]. Journeying Southwards through Gloucestershire,
we observe that the ruined churchyard cross at Bisley covers an old
well, which is now, however, reported to be dry[252]. As we traverse
Somerset, we have our attention called to the holy well near which
stands the church of St Decumen, at Watchet. Some remote prototype of
this church is reported to have existed here so early as the year A.D.
400[253]. Another Somerset example is that of St Agnes’ Well, near
Whitestaunton church. The well is said to be tepid and to possess
healing properties. Professor Haverfield states that, close at hand, a
Roman villa was uncovered in the year 1845, when abundant relics were
found[254]. Instances such as this speak eloquently in favour of
continuous site-occupation. Still keeping to Somerset, we have the well
of St Aldhelm below the churchyard of Doulting. The church is dedicated
to the same saint. So recently as 1910, I found that the spring, which
is the source of a small stream, still retained a hold in local story,
the waters being declared good for rheumatism.

The numerous holy wells of Cornwall have been sufficiently described by
Mr R. C. Hope and the Rev. S. Baring-Gould[255], so we retrace our
steps, and, travelling Eastward, observe the spring which, traditionally
connected with St Augustine, flows from the North-East corner of Cerne
Abbas churchyard, in Dorsetshire[256]. Hampshire, as the late Mr T. W.
Shore discovered, has its Itchenswell, Maplederwell, and Holybourne. The
last name is very significant, the more so as the spring issues from
below the village churchyard. The permanent spring near the churchyard
at Cheriton has been noticed (p. 74 _supra_), while, at another
Hampshire church, that of Hambledon, a “bourne” or “lavant,” that is, an
intermittent spring, gushes forth at intervals[257]. In Surrey one of
these bournes is thrown out by the side of Merstham churchyard. The
overflow of the bourne waters is traditionally believed to be a portent
of evil. Near the church of Carshalton, also in Surrey, there is a well,
now covered in, known locally as Anne Boleyn’s Well. The legend runs
that the horse which carried that lady struck the ground with its hoof,
thus turning “the flint stone into a springing well.” The story is
evidently an afterthought, a late attempt to explain the association of
the church and the spring.

London itself might not be expected to yield much testimony to this
romantic portion of our study. Yet several London churches had their
wells. Hard by St Giles’s churchyard there was formerly a pool, and near
Clerkenwell church was the celebrated “Clerkes’ Well” which is believed
to have given the parish its name. At the Skinners’ Well “the skinners
of London held there certain plays yearly, played of Holy Scripture.” St
Clement’s Well, Holywell Street, Strand, near the parish church of the
same name, was “fair curbed with hard stone, kept clean for common use,
and [was] always full[258].” Rapidly skimming over the Eastern counties,
we find that the Rev. G. S. Tyack, who has assiduously collected
examples of holy wells, records an example from the West end of East
Dereham graveyard, in Norfolk. In Yorkshire alone, Mr Tyack claims
seventeen wells, though whether all of these are in the neighbourhood of
churches, he does not say[259]. Lincolnshire contributes several
instances; one only need be noted. Caistor church, in that county,
previously mentioned (p. 12 _supra_) as standing within the confines of
a Roman camp, was built near three or four springs. One of these, a
“healing” spring, issued from the side of the churchyard. This example
may be compared with that of Whitestaunton; in each case, there seems to
have been a desire on the part of both Roman general and Christian
architect to exploit the reputation previously gained by the waters.
Here our enumeration must come to an end; for fuller details the reader
may be referred to well-known works[260]. But if we forget that worship
may be conducted under the open sky as well as under a roof of wood or
stone, and if we overlook the fact that natural features, not less than
stately fanes, were dedicated to patron saints, we shall miss much of
the evidence which has fortunately been bequeathed to us.

Not connected with the subject of holy wells, but apparently forming
isolated and local features peculiar to Wales, are the well-known oval
or circular churchyards, enclosing churches which date from the Norman
period. The churchyards are usually encompassed by a road, for which
there is no obvious public requirement[261]. It has been conjectured
that these roads represent ancient ramparts, which separate the
churchyard from common ground, and this prosaic explanation may be the
correct one. But one is obliged to notice another ray of light which
comes from ancient custom. The Rev. E. Owen, who has described these
churchyards, sees an analogy to the circle of stones in which religious
ceremonies were performed by the Druids[262]--evidently he is referring
to historic times. These circles, when prehistoric, are known to the
archaeologist as “cromlechs”; the latter erections, from the fifth
century onwards, were technically called “gorseddau” (_sing._ gorsedd).
The Gorsedd consisted normally of a mound of earth and a circle of
standing stones[263]. From denoting the place of assembly, and
afterwards, “the Great Seat,” the word came to mean the “Assembly of
Bards,” the chief member of which was throned on a “Chair,” or stone,
which occupied the centre of the circle. So early as the ninth century,
there was a separation of functions; hence we read of the gorsedd of the
bards and the legislative gorsedd[264]. My friend, the Rev. J. W. Hayes,
who has collected much curious lore respecting the gorseddau of later
centuries, notices that, though the legislative gorsedd has now no
political or judicial powers, but merely controls the bardic order, it
has a successor, for all worthy aims, in the national Eisteddfod. The
Eisteddfod has social and educational functions only, the Gorsedd, on
the contrary, was an institution for the framing of laws. Even in the
year 1910, however, the Eisteddfod was preceded each day by the Gorsedd
proper. This slight description will enable us, in the next chapter, to
approach closely to another side of our problem, but, for the present,
it must be taken as illustrative of the supposition made by Mr Owen.
From the fact that, at one village, Efenechtyd, Denbighshire, a part of
the encircling road really occupies the ancient bed of a stream, Mr Owen
has further considered that the “roads” were originally intended to be
moats, and that they contained water. This seems to be mere
speculation; a more plausible explanation--though, again, perhaps not
the real one--is that the hollows formed portions of an old stockaded
village. Or again, we may have here small ring earthworks belonging to
the pre-Christian period, though not necessarily of a defensive
character. One cannot avoid recalling Stonehenge and Stennis; the round
churches of Northampton, Essex, Cambridge, and London; the round towers
of many other churches; the favourite “broken ring” of Bronze Age
barrows and Bronze Age ornaments; and the earthwork rings and circular
mazes of various periods. How much is ceremonial, and how much
constructional, in matters primitive, is a nice question. It is worthy
of notice that, in at least two instances, the churches under
consideration have had double dedications. It has been mentioned that
the circular churchyard seems to be essentially a Welsh feature. Two
examples, those of Kerry and Llanfechain, are recorded from
Montgomeryshire, and two from Carnarvon. Flint furnishes one instance,
and Denbigh half a dozen[265]. England has hitherto supplied no records,
but the feature may have been overlooked, and further observations would
be valuable.

We have now completed what may have appeared, to the reader, a prolix
and tedious inquiry. Impatiently, it may be, the query is uttered, What,
in brief, is the conclusion of the whole matter? The reply may be framed
by first presenting the opinion of a high authority, Professor Baldwin
Brown, who asserts that there is no known instance where a Christian
church has, in Britain, replaced a heathen fane[266]. We have seen that
there are possible loopholes in such a general statement, and if we
narrow its scope by using the word “site,” instead of “church” or
“fane,” in each member of the sentence, the decision, with which
Professor Brown would doubtless agree, is surely in the affirmative. To
deny that many Christian churches stand on pagan sites is to blind
oneself to facts. There is a folly of scepticism which is as blameworthy
as that of credulity. With respect to the buildings themselves Professor
Brown admits that such a substitution is “often signalized on the
Continent[267].” Waiving the _a priori_ argument that like conditions
tend to beget like results, and that a series of events, in the main
homotaxial, might be predicted for North Germany and England, for Sweden
and Scotland, for Brittany and Wales, we may still choose to express the
plea otherwise. For, as has been insisted, the conditions have not been
exactly similar: Britain has suffered social disturbances to a greater
degree than any of the countries named. It is therefore safer to say
that, though there was, in Britain, as in other countries, no severe
opposition between the old and the new faiths, there is difficulty in
proving the case with respect to buildings, because of the loss of

As matters stand, the archaeologist is in the position of a diver,
groping amid the timbers of a sunken ship for lost treasure, of whose
presence he is certain, be his toll never so scanty. Or again, the
archaeologist is like a scholar, closely poring over some blurred and
defaced palimpsest, if haply he may decipher even a few of the original
characters. “The drums and tramplings of three conquests,” the fires of
marauders, the mistaken zeal of church restorers, the husbandman’s
plough, the mason’s hammer, and the sexton’s spade, to say nothing of
the gnawing tooth of Time, have so altered, if not obliterated, the
records, that he must be content to read but a little, here and there,
of the full story.



Having established the proposition that ancient churches were oftentimes
erected near older pagan memorials, we are prepared to search for
supplementary motives for the determination of sites. A very superficial
survey makes it clear that no single explanation will apply to all
cases. A few of the churches built within old entrenchments may,
perhaps, as before noted (p. 17 _supra_), have been so placed in order
to obtain additional protection. Respect for tradition, or defiance of
superstition, was, however, in the majority of such cases, the uppermost
consideration: the ground was not primarily chosen because of its secure

But besides the churches which accompany earthworks and megaliths, we
possess a large number of churches which stand like sentinels on
isolated hills, and these require separate study. Here again, no single
theory will serve to account for the choice of site. The facts are
familiar to those who have travelled through the more elevated parts of
the country. But it is not alone on rugged hills that we find the
Christian outposts; even on the gentle downlands the lonely church may
be seen dominating the landscape. In the South-East of England, the hill
parishes often have their churches mounted on the highest ground. Among
the Surrey churches, that of Caterham stands 600 feet above sea-level;
Chaldon and Coulsdon, 500 feet; Merstham, 400 feet[268]. Taking Sussex,
we find Pyecombe church at an elevation of 400 feet; Falmer and
Plumpton, 250 feet; and Street (Streat), 200 feet. Brook church, in the
Isle of Wight, is built on a conspicuous natural hillock. Kent supplies
us with excellent examples at Down, Cudham, and several other villages.
These instances are sufficient--the list could be extensively enlarged,
if necessary.


     FIG. 23. Tower of Bishopstone church (Early Norman), near Seaford,
     Sussex. A typical semi-defensive tower of South-Eastern England.

The first comment on such a catalogue concerns the interpretation of the
figures. Obviously, it is the height of the church relatively to the
village or valley which is of importance, not the actual elevation above
the sea. For example, although the Sussex village of Bishopstone lies in
a chalk coombe, the church (Fig. 23) is built on a hillock which
overlooks the dwellings of the inhabitants. Again, with respect to
villages situated on the plain, the church frequently occupies the
highest ground. Various causes may have been at work to influence the
selection of such spots. Here, there were difficulties with the feudal
lord (p. 17 _supra_); there, the building was placed centrally so as to
serve numerous outlying townships; yonder, the church stands prominently
on the hill-top because a hamlet had arisen there before the church was
thought of.

When all these deductions have been made, there remain very many
churches unaccounted for. These have been raised, after prolonged labour
and at great expense, on some inconvenient hill, up which the
worshippers must struggle breathlessly Sunday by Sunday. Standing by one
of these churches, the observer is mastered by the conviction that he is
placed on an ancient vantage ground. Range of outlook, and effective
strength of position, must have been the fundamental ideas in the minds
of those who chose the site. Throw aside this conception, and all is
contrariety. The modern architect, unaided by the student of folk-lore
and folk-custom, is entirely at a loss when asked to explain such
apparent folly on the part of the designers.

We have before noticed (p. 17 _supra_) how the annals of folk-lore are
crowded with stories respecting these hill-top churches. The tales vary
a little in detail, but the main theme is the same. Devils, or witches,
or fairies, were in league against men, and so soon as the builders
began their work, unseen hands removed the stones by night and laid them
elsewhere, the church being finally set up only after a severe and
lengthened contest. A variant of the superstition is met with in
Scotland and Brittany, where churches are reported to have been reared
in a single night by the fairies[269]. Just noting, as we pass, that the
legends do not attempt to tell why men were so anxious to have their
churches in lofty positions, let us glance at some of these bewitched

One of the examples best known to the writer is that of Churchdown, in
Gloucestershire. The church stands on a Liassic hill of pyramidal
outline, 500 feet above the sea-level. To climb the steep slope from the
village below is an arduous task. The devil-theory still thrives
vigorously in the neighbourhood, and the visitor will soon hear the
account of the nightly removal of the stones by the spirit of evil. It
chances that the local pronunciation of Churchdown is “Chōsen,” and this
has suggested to the otherwise serious countryfolk a weak pun. Not only,
they say, was the spot deliberately “chosen,” but the “chosen people” of
the Prayer-Book response refers specifically to the favoured inhabitants
of the village. The traveller cannot escape--

    “Full of their theme, they spurned all idle art,
     And the plain tale was trusted to the heart.”

Breedon church, in Leicestershire, is on a hill which similarly
overlooks the village clustered at the foot. For pedestrians, the ascent
has been made easier by cutting steps in the pathway, but carriages have
to take a circuitous route to reach the church[270]. Other churches
concerning which a contest was waged between Christian masons and the
powers of darkness are St Chad’s, Rochdale, and Capel Garmon, in
Denbighshire. In the second of these cases, the church was to have been
erected on a hill, contiguous to an ancient spring, but the stones were
repeatedly carried to a lower position[271]. This detail respecting the
spring is not without significance, as was shown in the last chapter.
Another illuminative Welsh example comes from Llanllechid, near Bangor.
Here the fairies, or spirits, bore away the stones from a field called
Caer Capel, and actually selected a situation--so the legend runs--more
convenient than the first[272]. Both Caer Capel and Llanllechid are
suggestive names, the latter gives a hint of a church built on the site
of megaliths. At Wendover, in Buckinghamshire, the builders were
thwarted by malevolent witches: at Hanchurch and Walsall, in
Staffordshire, the trouble was caused by mischievous fairies. Each
locality has its own bit of colour tinging the testimony, but to
rehearse all the variations would be tedious. The number of these
solitary hill-top churches was once probably much greater than at
present. In some instances the buildings have been demolished; in
others, modern dwellings have sprung up around the church and have
masked its isolated position. Indeed, this shifting of the population is
a factor which must never be left out of sight.

How shall we explain the superstitions attached to these churches? One
fact is manifest--the selection of site was, in the majority of cases,
freely made, in the sense that other spots were available. On a broader
interpretation, based on retrospect, we perceive that there was little
choice, since there existed an ever-present necessity for an asylum in
times of stress and danger, not to mention minor reasons. We have seen
that the traditions do not assign a cause for the persistence,--nay,
obstinacy, of the church-builders. Perhaps we should except those
churches which were erected in particular spots as the result of the
vision of some saint, or of warning cries and mysterious voices heard by
the masons. On the whole, however, we can interpret the stories only by
the aid of folklore and anthropology. Modern research has shown that, in
the earlier stages of human life in Britain, the communities dwelt
mainly on the downlands and elevated moorlands[273]. Only when the
historical period was well advanced, namely, during the late Roman and
Saxon occupations, were the thickly wooded valleys and marshy plains
settled and cultivated. The evidence, though largely inferential, is
both good and abundant, and need not be recapitulated here. All that is
essential, for the moment, is to remember that descendants of the
earlier races probably lived on, isolated in sparse communities,
wherever the conditions were favourable. This is the legitimate
conclusion to be drawn, for example, from the classical excavations made
by Pitt-Rivers in the chalk downlands of Cranborne Chase.
Anthropological tests afford similar support in other regions, such as
the Yorkshire Wolds and the Derbyshire Moors. The remnants of the older
British races, modified somewhat by intermarriage, doubtless held aloof
on their bleak hills and tablelands with considerable stubbornness. The
Teutonic farmers of the vales would not at first greatly interfere with
the hill-top folk. A time came, however, when fresh-comers began
seriously to re-invade the more elevated spots, and to form
settlements. This does not seem to have been done systematically until
after the Norman period. But it is clear that any impinging of new races
upon the older hill-top communities, however partial in its character,
would give birth to exaggeration and myth. A fair corollary may be
stated: the traditions which tell of the efforts of builders having been
baulked or defeated by demons, witches, or evil spirits, are echoes of
the time when older races still lingered sparingly on the hill-top
settlements. On the other hand, the legends which speak of dreams and
visions seem to represent a purely religious development belonging to
the Christian period.

The erection of a church on soil hitherto relegated, by silent consent,
to primitive tribal folk, or, failing these, to the wild beasts, was a
novel and startling event. We need not assume that the primary purpose
of the builders was to Christianize those remote peoples, though that
may have been a subsidiary motive. It is more likely that the church was
intended for the churchmen who built it. But to enter an area previously
left intact would provoke keen opposition. Further, it is now a
commonplace that our stories of witches and wizards, fairies and demons,
are in part, at least, derived from folk of the Neolithic and Bronze
periods, or from their near descendants. To the conquered people was
imputed magical power, while to the victors, their weapons, and their
appliances, the beaten folk paid the respect due to fear. Briefly, then,
the superstitions which we are considering seem to speak of the
projection of one race over territory long occupied by the survivors of
much earlier races, and again, of the intrusion of social habits and
religious customs among folk whose beliefs and modes of life were widely
different from those of the invaders.

Still the question is unanswered, Why were hill-tops chosen as sites of
churches? Primarily, of course, the churches were built for worship, but
the answer to the question seems to be, that, in very many cases, the
building was intended for temporary refuge and defence in those
unsettled centuries which lasted down to the Wars of the Roses (cf. p.
57 _supra_, concerning earthworks). To establish this theory, we must
consider a moderate number of instances extracted from a lengthy list.
And a clearer understanding will be promoted if our minds are chiefly
fixed, for the present, upon church towers alone, because these are the
portions of the buildings which best illustrate the theory.

As might be anticipated, the specimens of towers which furnish the most
apposite illustrations are found in the Border Counties, and in the
Welsh Marches, or, on the other hand, in those districts which have few
natural defences. Beginning with Cumberland, we have the embattled tower
of Great Salkeld church, guarded by a massive door, plated with iron,
and fitted on the inside with stout iron bars. Under the aisle of the
church are chambers, which are believed to have been used as
dungeons[274]. The tower at Burgh-on-the-Sands, near Carlisle, seems to
have served as a fortress or pele-tower[275]. (Etymologically _pele_ or
_peel_ = the _stockaded_ enclosure or fort.) Normally, the pele or
“peel” towers were special structures, and were erected along the border
irrespective of the position of churches, as at Corbridge, in
Northumberland[276]. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that strong
church towers were used as substitutes for peles in times of necessity.
Thus, the twelfth century tower of Edlingham church, in Northumberland,
is one of several that served this purpose; while Merrington church,
with its tall steeple, crowning an eminence, actually stood a siege. The
tower of Bedale church, near Richmond in Yorkshire, seems to have been
constructed purposely for defence. The narrow staircase has, in fact, a
portcullis groove, which was accidentally revealed after the steeple had
been struck by lightning. The portcullis screened the tower from the
body of the church[277]. Melsonby tower, also in Yorkshire, has been
described as “a Norman keep in miniature[278].” The round steeple of the
Early Decorated church of Roos, in Holderness, is supposed to have been
a post for watch-and-ward. It stands on high ground, and contains, near
the top, a chamber which is reached by a spiral staircase of stone[279].
We know that the surrounding district was terribly ravaged by the Danes,
and it is interesting to note that, in 1836, there was discovered, in a
ditch at Roos, a rude model of a boat with a warrior crew. This curious
object is considered to be of Scandinavian origin, and to date back to
the invasion of the Danes and vikings[280]. If it be urged that the
church fabric belongs to a period long subsequent to the raids of the
Northmen, the comment is both fair and relevant. Two replies might be
made: first, analogy indicates that churches of this kind most likely
had predecessors on the same site, and secondly, defensive structures
continued to be built long after the events which called them into
existence passed away.

From Yorkshire we pass into North-East Lincolnshire. Here we meet with a
remarkable series of Saxon towers, and here the Danish question recurs.
Popular tradition, vigorous even “yn tyme of mynde,” as Leland quaintly
expresses it, declared that the present towers were built as refuges
from the Danes. The idea was unhesitatingly accepted by the earlier
school of antiquaries, and was supported by the older architects. We now
know, as the result of comparative study of architectural styles, that
the theory is barely tenable. The three best-known towers of the group
under consideration are those of Waith, Scartho, and Holton-le-Clay, and
they are all placed by Professor Baldwin Brown in his Saxon period C[3].
In other words they are believed to belong to the time of Edward the
Confessor, when there was a revival of church-building[281]. As a
further safeguard against ante-dating these churches, we may notice Mr
Francis Bond’s dictum that we have no Anglo-Saxon tower which is earlier
than the end of the ninth century[282]. Of course, neither of these
verdicts affects the question of the existence of previous towers on the
present foundations. For instance,


     FIG. 24. Scartho church, Lincolnshire, from the South. The Saxon
     tower differs from the ordinary defensive type in having an
     original doorway at the base, seen at the West end. The doorway
     facing the spectator is a later insertion (Early English) and the
     parapet belongs to the Perpendicular period. There is a Saxon
     belfry window, divided by a mid-wall shaft. The walls separating
     the tower from the nave are three feet in thickness.

according to writers of the middle of the last century, and indeed, much
later, the tower of Scartho church (Fig. 24) was said to rest on large
blocks of stone which showed traces of fire, and these blocks were
thought to be relics of an older fabric which was burnt by the Danes. I
have visited this church several times, and, while believing that the
present tower may not be the original, I am not convinced that there are
any fire-marked boulders to be seen. True, the masses of stone referred
to by the topographers may now be quite concealed under the raised turf,
but it is more likely that red lumps of ferruginous grit, which are
plainly visible, have misled the antiquaries. The tower walls certainly
contain a miscellany of geological specimens,--limestones, flints,
sandstones, and rusty-coloured grits--and superficially the stains
suggest scars caused by fire. One must, however, take account of all the
circumstances that influenced church-building in a locality which, like
that under consideration, is destitute of building stone. Some two or
three miles distant is the church of Clee, the tower of which, except in
the uppermost stage, bears a close likeness to that of Scartho. (The
parapet, in each church, is a later addition.) The materials employed in
Clee tower are mainly large beach pebbles, and ice-worn “cobbles,” which
had been washed out of the now-vanished cliff of Boulder Clay at
Cleethorpes, and which must have been assiduously collected by the
perplexed and needy masons.

Professor Brown declares that there is nothing about the Lincolnshire
towers themselves to indicate a defensive character, though they are
situated in a region which was exposed to Danish visitations. These
eleventh century towers, however, he says, represent a style which was
evolved at a somewhat earlier time, when the Danes were actually
hostile. At most, he will admit only “a certain general likelihood” that
these particular towers were used for defence[283], but he notes the
general opinion that the occurrence of such towers in districts like
Lincolnshire is “hardly fortuitous[284].” The palmary fact remains, that
the Lincolnshire towers were, relatively to the exposed and unprotected
tract of marshland on which they were built, real fortresses. There are
no natural defences in the vicinity of the churches, and ordinary
dwellings must have been of an insubstantial kind. Moreover, unless the
idea of earlier buildings on the present sites be unreservedly
abandoned, there still remains the great probability of continuity of
general pattern. Long after the land ceased to be harried by pirates,
the countryfolk would anticipate, and provide against, future
onslaughts. It is no bar to this argument to oppose the fact that, as we
later folk now know, those attacks were not made. We shall, indeed, find
that defensive towers continued to be popular for several centuries
after the Norman Conquest. We may say then, that the Lincolnshire type
of Saxon tower was semi-defensive, though the existing specimens are of
post-Danish age. Further than that we are not warranted in forming

Leaving Lincolnshire, we notice a Bedfordshire example, that of Clapham.
Here the church has a massive Saxon tower, which possesses an exterior
door at a height of twenty feet from the ground. There is no window
opening in the lower portion. It is not an insignificant fact that this
tower overlooked a ford across the Ouse, which was approached by an
ancient road[285]. The striking position of the door at Clapham has many
parallels. The old tower of Swanage parish church, Dorset, had no door
lower than the second story, and access was probably gained by ladders,
which could be afterwards drawn up if required. At Norton, Derbyshire,
the doorway of the tower, which is supposed to have been erected about
A.D. 1300, is six feet from the ground, and was formerly reached by an
external staircase of stone[286]. Occasionally, the external door was
absent altogether. This was originally the case at Rugby church, the
tower of which could be entered only through the nave[287]. This tower,
which dates from the fourteenth century, is of square outline, and is
devoid of buttresses. Its loftiness is conspicuous, for it reaches a
height of 63 feet. The windows are narrow, and the lowest is twelve feet
from the ground. Consider, again, the little church of Swindon, near
Cheltenham, with which the writer was once very familiar. The tower is
of hexagonal shape, and the walls are thick and substantial. The only
windows, a quarter of a century ago, were mere loopholes, splayed
without and within, and placed near the top of the structure. A doorway
on the North-East gave access to the tower; were this entrance blocked,
one could only gain admittance by an exterior staircase on the West


     FIG. 25. Oystermouth church, Glamorganshire, from the South-West.
     The tower is less lofty than is usual with the churches of Gower,
     but it has several “defensive” features. It batters from the base,
     and has the characteristic battlement. There are no buttresses, but
     a flat staircase-turret will be noticed. Except the debased West
     window, the openings are all of very insignificant size.

The defensive tower, however, is perhaps seen at its best in South
Wales. In the district of Gower, in Glamorganshire, twelve out of
sixteen towers are believed to have been erected as much for defence as
for beauty; each is a stronghold as well as a campanile[288]. Generally
these towers have no buttresses, and frequently, as at Oystermouth (Fig.
25), they “batter,” or slope a little from the base upwards. This
battering is also met with in the castles of South Wales. Again, the
towers have an overhanging embattled parapet, supported on corbels.
Where exterior doors are now found, they are usually later insertions.
The original doors, where they exist, resemble those of keeps in being
situated some height from the ground. The tower, too, opens into the
nave as often by a mere doorway as by a belfry arch. Instead of belfry
windows, there are insignificant slits, and the rest of the wall is
quite blank, and destitute of architectural or decorative features. In
short, as Freeman expressed it, the essential military character of the
towers is stamped on every stone[289].

The churches of South Pembrokeshire are not less remarkable. The study
of these buildings is rendered more attractive because the area in which
they are found corresponds roughly with the territory occupied by the
non-Welsh folk of “Little England beyond Wales.” This fact may indicate
a period of severe struggles between the English and Norman intruders
and the earlier settlers, but not necessarily; since the Gower churches,
at least, would have to be explained somewhat differently. The raids of
the Norsemen upon the Pembrokeshire coast seem to have come to an end
with the eleventh century; hence dread of inland foes seems to have
caused the erection of these strong towers. Professor Freeman, who
carefully investigated the Pembrokeshire towers, and who wrote a
painstaking account of their architectural details, observed, “Every
tower is a fortress, designed to hold out as long as Zaragoza or
Sebastopol[290].” Anyone who has examined these churches, will, after
making some deduction for the literary form of expression, be prepared
to endorse this opinion. Take, for instance, the church of Gumfreston,
near Tenby (Fig. 26), already known to the reader through its medicinal
spring (p. 95 _supra_). This sequestered church is built on the inner
slopes of that high ridge which, on the North, overhangs the lovely vale
of St Florence. Almost enclosed by trees, with whose foliage the
ivy-wreathed tower quietly harmonizes, the tall fabric is approached
unwittingly, so that, when the visitor reaches the gate of the
churchyard, the

[Illustration: FIG. 26. Gumfreston church, near Tenby, Pembrokeshire, a
building with a defensive tower.]

picture calls forth a sudden exclamation of pleasure. A second and more
critical glance reveals the chief features of the tower. Its height, 65
feet, is especially noticeable. Like other towers which we have met, it
tapers a little, and it is crowned with a battlement. Each of its five
stories was evidently devoted to a particular use. Freeman has noted
them: a ringers’ chamber below, followed by stories which had windows
looking towards the North and East, then a room fitted up as a dovecot,
and lastly the belfry itself[291]. The date of the Gumfreston tower is
fixed approximately at A.D. 1300. Of the Pembrokeshire series as a
whole, Freeman says that they were all built within “castle times,” and
that they belong to “all manner of centuries from the first to the last
Harry[292].” He further considers that he could discern preparations for
habitation in “some of the vaulted apartments.” The simple character of
the Pembroke towers formerly led many writers to assign them to a
pre-Norman period, but this opinion is now discredited. On the other
hand, the evidence shows that they are not, as a class, late Tudor
buildings, as extremists in the contrary direction have suggested.

A subtle objection is made that the towers may be simply imitations of
castellated architecture, and that the resemblance, being incidental and
unintentional, has no recondite significance. There is some degree of
force in the contention, because there must have been interaction of
influence. Thus, not only in semi-secular buildings, like the abbot’s
barn of Bradford-on-Avon (Figs. 43, 44, pp. 171, 173 _infra_), but also
in castles and fortified mansions, like that of Nunney (Fig. 27), do we
meet with architectural features which are usually associated with
religious structures. Such details, as a rule, are best seen in doors
and windows, and they are in harmony with the Gothic styles of their
respective periods. Side by side with these ornamental features,
primitive arrangements for defence are retained, even in the Tudor
country mansions. In spite of this cross-influence it may be observed
that the defensive steeples occur just in those places where defence


     FIG. 27. Portion of Nunney Castle, Somerset, a fortified
     manor-house, built A.D. 1373-1400. The corner towers probably
     served as peles. In the windows (Decorated style) and in other
     details, there is evidence of the relationship between religious
     and secular architecture.

would be required. Often, as at Gumfreston, the church was the only
building strong enough to give adequate security to human beings and to
portable property. Castles do not exist everywhere, neither, indeed, do
these sturdy towers; but the one group seems to be largely complementary
to the other. Exception has also been taken to the evidential value of
the narrow window openings. Mr Allcroft, while expressing agreement with
the theory that ecclesiastical towers were frequently employed for
protection, deprecates an appeal to these narrow slits as affording
satisfactory testimony[293]. He contends that the openings were made
strait and were provided with an inner splay to minimize draughts. That
they would be moderately efficient for this purpose may be conceded. Not
only the ordinary current of air, but the high gale, had to be foreseen
and provided against. Glazing the apertures was out of the question, in
the early times when glass was a costly article, especially in remote
counties. But there is another mode of approaching the question. What
was the purpose of the well-known “oillets” in buildings purely
defensive? Even in primitive warfare no tower was impregnable if it
presented wide openings to the foe. Arrows and slingstones would, under
certain conditions, prove more swift and deadly agents than fire itself.
We may grant that the round-headed twin aperture, with its single plain
baluster-shaft in the middle, so familiar in the late Saxon towers of
England, was not avowedly of a defensive character. That admission does
not exclude a belief in the defensive value of the narrow window. During
the Perpendicular period a tiny battlemented parapet was frequently used
for the ornamentation of a capital or transom, but such a practice does
not negative the original use of the battlement in fortification.
Further it might be reasonably argued that the strait window-opening was
copied from secular strongholds because it originally served one purpose
in all cases. The point is not of prime importance, but it is worthy of
note that the narrow loophole continued to prevail after glass had come
into general use for church windows, and after bells had become common.
The price of glass was, therefore, not the deterrent. Again, the
bell-ringer would perhaps have actually welcomed a wider opening.
Whatever may have been the motive, we find that, from the Early English
period onward, the tiers of spire lights known as dormer window’s or
lucarnes, though mainly decorative in character, continued to be made
very narrow. On the other hand, these dormers were so arranged that one
series was placed, with respect to the group above or below, on
alternate sides of the spire. One fact remains; in towers which were
designed to withstand attack, the retention, if not the initiation, of
the narrow type of opening, suggests motives of strategy.

Before quitting the English towers it is well to note that the strength
of many of them was tested during the Civil War. In Devonshire alone, a
number of instances can be brought forward. The Parliamentary troopers
turned the towers of Powderham and Ottery St Mary into temporary
fortresses, while the Royalists annexed those of Tiverton, St Budeaux,
and Townstall[294]. In Wiltshire and Yorkshire, again, several churches
were used as shelter for men and horses. Thorold Rogers asserts that the
Royalists garrisoned the parish church of a Hampshire town, the name of
which, however, he does not give, and, thus protected, withstood a siege
and cannonade[295]. The reader will doubtless recall many instances in
which tradition tells of church walls battered by shot and shell. Making
due allowance for exaggeration, it must be admitted that folk-memory has
a sound basis in fact, and some, at least, of the damaged buildings may
be genuine illustrations of the effects of assault by artillery.

It is all but impossible to bid farewell to defensive steeples without
some reference to the famous round towers of Ireland. The disinclination
to ignore the subject is increased by the knowledge that these
structures afford collateral proof of the defence theory. For the best
instructed modern opinion pronounces them to be fortresses as well as
belfries. These towers, which have been the cause of an abiding
controversy, are typically tall and slender, and are surmounted by
conical caps. Their height ranges roughly from about 60 to 125 feet. The
number of examples still remaining is given as 76, and they are found
exclusively in association with some early church, or with some
ecclesiastical settlement. The usual position is near the North-West
door of the church[296]. This fact alone indicates their connection with
early Christianity. A typical round tower, somewhat restored, is that of
Devenish, situated on an islet of the same name in Lower Lough Erne,
county Fermanagh (Fig. 28). In the vicinity is the ruined priory of St
Molaise, as well as several other ecclesiastical remains.


     FIG. 28. Round tower of Devenish, on Devenish Isle, Lower Lough
     Erne, near Enniskillen. Height, 84 feet; doorway, 9 feet from the
     ground; walls, 4 feet thick. The windows approximately face the
     Cardinal Points. A string course will be seen around the base of
     the conical cap.

A gradual advance can be traced in the architectural style of the round
towers. The stages of their development were parallel to, and probably
contemporaneous with, those of the churches and oratories[297]. Three
periods of building have been distinguished. It is not until the
beginning of the tenth century, says Miss Eleanor Hull, that we find the
towers mentioned, and none can be dated earlier with certainty. They are
later in date than the churches built by St Columba at Raphoe, Kells,
and elsewhere, and they belong essentially to the period when the
Northmen made their attacks on Ireland. Nevertheless, they continued to
be built until the middle of the thirteenth century[298]. All these
facts are of vast interest when we recollect those Lincolnshire churches
which, folk-memory tells us, once served as refuges from the Danes.

Normally, the round tower contained three stories, and, like many of the
English towers before described, had the outside door placed high up in
the wall, so that it was accessible only by means of a ladder.
Similarly, the oratory of Kells has three small chambers, or attics,
between its round barrel vault and the outer pointed roof of stone;
these chambers could be reached only by the aid of a long ladder, and
entered through a hole in the inside roof. Viewed in comparison with the
other buildings of the period, the oratory represents a lofty structure.
It has a highly pitched roof, and receives no light save what is
afforded by two small windows. This building is assigned by Miss M.
Stokes to the year A.D. 807[299].

In passing, we note that the round tower was probably developed from the
beehive hut, and became specialized for a definite purpose, which we
shall discuss in a moment or two. The beehive house, in its turn, was
most likely evolved from the wattled dwellings of the ruder aborigines
of Ireland. Professor A. C. Haddon cited authorities to show that the
round towers structurally betray their pagan design, by their retention
of string-courses which serve no useful object. The towers, he
considers, are, in reality, derived from primitive wicker huts, circular
in plan, and of a somewhat tall type[300].

We now inquire what purpose the towers were intended to serve. The
answer, though given with a fair degree of decisiveness to-day, has been
long in coming, and there still exists a minority of writers who dissent
from the orthodox view, and who favour other theories, some of which are
of the fantastic kind.

The earliest name given to the round tower, so far as is yet recorded,
is _cloictech_, or belfry (A.D. 948). Naturally, therefore, one is led
to associate the towers with bells; yet, seeing that only small
hand-bells are believed to have been in existence at that date, a large
tower of masonry would not be needed for their reception. Nor, again,
would these small bells have been well heard, when rung from the top of
the tower, even by folk standing at the base[301]. The insignificant
windows of the earlier towers are, for some unknown reason, usually near
the floor. The later structures, it is true, have windows near the top,
facing different points of the compass. These examples may have been
used as belfries proper. Speaking generally, the towers were,
nevertheless, not belfries. Even could it be proved that, co-eval with
the towers, there existed a knowledge of bell-casting, that would not
settle the question, because there are no structural signs that bells
were ever hung, or rung, within the buildings. We may conclude, then,
that the towers were, in part, depositories for bells, though not
themselves actually bell-towers.

Dismissing a number of unsupported speculations, one by one, we are
finally shut in to the conclusion that the towers were originally
defensive. They were refuges for men, and storehouses for valuable
property. This is the verdict delivered by those who, like Miss M.
Stokes and Miss E. Hull, know the round towers best[302]. Mr G. T.
Clark, in his early study of the subject, thought that the towers were
principally intended to receive bells, and that their uses for refuge
and storage were later adaptations. In after years, he changed his
opinion, and declared that what he had formerly deemed the secondary
purpose, was in reality the sole one[303]. A more recent authority, Mr
Francis Bond, has compared the round tower with the Italian campanile,
of which he considered it to be a local variety. But he draws this great
distinction: the Italian structure was built to receive bells, and may
afterwards have served for defence; with the builders of the Irish
towers, refuge was the primary idea, though, at a subsequent period,
bells were hung in the fortress. There remains an authority whose voice
must be heard with great respect. Mr J. Romilly Allen, while agreeing
that the bells of the early Celtic church were portable, and that they
were rung by hand, contends that the towers were erected to accommodate
bells of a heavier kind. Nevertheless, he admits that the Viking
invasion gave an impetus to the building of the towers[304]. This
divergence from the modern view is noteworthy, though if Mr Allen’s
statement were restricted to the later buildings, the theories would
harmonize fairly well.

When the Northmen swooped down upon a district, priests and people would
hasten to the nearest tower. Thither the fugitives carried their most
precious possessions: manuscripts, relics, sacred vessels, and
vestments. Some objects of this kind may have been housed in the tower
permanently. Once gathered within their asylum, the inhabitants were
comparatively secure. They could hurl stones and other projectiles from
the narrow loopholes, while they themselves were safe from danger, at
least, until relief arrived. On the other hand, missiles thrown by the
besiegers, either from the hand or a catapult, would rarely hit the
defenders inside. A successful battery could not be made in a few
minutes, and even firing the stone tower was not a speedy mode of
overpowering the refugees.

After the Danish incursions came to an end, the towers would still serve
as spy-places against native enemies, as “strongrooms” for protection
against thieves, and, probably, as we have seen, as bell-towers for
raising alarms. The pattern of the tower, moreover, would long survive
its original necessity. Summing up, we may say that the round towers
were defensive buildings, the use of which was mainly secular, but to
some extent ecclesiastical also. Perhaps we ought rather to say that the
religious and the secular uses were so blended that no demarcation could
be made.

The round towers suggest to us parallel usages in England. The first
similarity is that of the detached church tower, which is not a rare
feature in our Gothic architecture. Selecting a few examples from a
numerous list, we notice the isolated tower of Walton, Norfolk;
Berkeley, Gloucestershire; Evesham, Worcestershire; and Ledbury,
Herefordshire. The last-named county supplies several instances, a fact
not without interest, in view of the geographical position. Bosbury
tower, Hereford, is situated 60 yards from the South side of the church;
while that of Pembridge, which stands on an eminence, is 25 yards
distant from the main body of the building. As with the hill-top
churches, the peasantry generally have a tradition to explain the
anomaly. Thus, at Warmsworth, Yorkshire, two sisters, charitable, but
obstinate, are said to have made a bequest for the building of a church.
Each lady had chosen a site for the church; neither would give way. The
fabric was in consequence built in detached portions. The bells call the
folk to church in one direction, the congregation walks away to service
in another. Obviously, the ordinary folk-tales, as told nowadays, do not
fully explain the facts. In several cases, as at Wickes and Wrabness, in
Essex, and at Brookland in Romney Marsh, it is evident, from the size
and construction of the tower, that it was built, not for hanging bells,
but for defence and refuge. The English detached towers, it will be
remarked, are usually square, not circular. The round detached tower of
Bramfield, in Suffolk, is an exception, and there may be others.

The circular towers of East Anglia (Fig. 29) are only partially
analogous to those of Ireland. They belong to various styles from the
Norman period onwards, but they are, as just mentioned, attached, not
free. Again, while the Irish towers are round because of their
development from primitive structures of that shape, the English towers
had their form determined by the nature of the building materials
available, flint and coarse rubble. Yet there are points of resemblance
also. The towers of Norfolk and Suffolk are usually devoid of ornament
or individuality. The windows, too, are commonly found in the upper
stories, and they face the Cardinal Points[305]. Many of the towers
overlook the North Sea, and they were doubtless used for posts of
observation, if not as receptacles for treasure. The custom of building
defensive towers, whether square or round, in connection with the
church, was, as before indicated, probably a legacy from Danish times.
But danger did not cease with the piratical raids of the sea-kings. No
one who has not lived on the sea-coast, especially on the East or South
coast of England, can rightly appreciate the fears which beset maritime
folk with respect to invasion. We see the alarm translated into action
at the time of the Armada, during the Dutch Wars, and at the period of
the Napoleonic struggle, when the martello towers were built, nay, we
witness its influence in our own day.

[Illustration: FIG. 29. Rushmere church, Suffolk, with Early English
round tower. The upper portion has been rebuilt.]

Of the three attached round towers still existing in the county of
Sussex, that of Piddinghoe (Fig. 30) deserves notice. The immediate
explanation of the form adopted by the builders is that the necessity of
having stone quoins was thus obviated. But if this be the sole reason,
why are not such towers more common in Sussex? Consider the facts. The
church at Piddinghoe stands on a natural platform, at a slight, but
effective, elevation above the adjacent river Ouse. The tower, built c.
A.D. 1120, has the narrow, round-headed windows of the period. One of
these, facing West, is six feet from the ground. There is no external
doorway. At the time the church was erected there seems to have been no
other defensive building. One may fairly suppose that the tower was
used as a refuge against pirates and invaders, who would have only a few
miles to sail from the mouth of the Ouse in order to reach the village.
Another Sussex tower, a square structure in this instance, that of East
Dean (Fig. 31), probably served as a partial defence of the rising
ground above Birling Gap.


     FIG. 30. Norman tower (c. 1120) of Piddinghoe church, Sussex, seen
     from the North-West corner of the churchyard. The tower is built of
     squared flint, and the short spire is timbered.

In tracing the parallel which has been proposed, let us not lose sight
of the fact that the church of Mediaeval England was, as such writers as
Canon Jessopp have fully demonstrated, almost incredibly rich in
priceless relics and portable treasure. Chalices and basins and
thuribles; jewelled crosses, and candlesticks wrought out of precious
metals; lanterns and bells; vestments and girdles, brooches and buckles,
these and many other valuables, needed to be protected from theft.
Large and important churches, which possessed hoards of treasure, not
uncommonly had a watchman who spent the night in the sacred building.
Sometimes he was provided with a special chamber which was situated over
the porch, sacristy or vestry[306]. The Cathedral church of St Albans,
for instance, had a celebrated watching-loft which was erected about the
year A.D. 1400[307]. At Lincoln it was considered sufficient for
watchmen to patrol the Minster after nightfall. It may be added that
down to the sixteenth century, in such German cities as Ulm and
Frankfort-on-the-Main, watchmen lived in rooms constructed in the church
steeples. On the approach of strangers, or in times of alarm, the
watchman rang a bell, blew a horn, or fired a musket.


     FIG. 31. East Dean church, Sussex, from the North-West. The walls
     of the tower, possibly pre-Norman, are very massive, about three
     feet in thickness. An apsidal structure, the foundations of which
     are still traceable, was attached to the Eastern face of the tower.

Another detail which is germane to the question of resemblances and
contrasts, is concerned with the word “belfry.” We have seen that, from
the earliest time of which we have documentary evidence, the Irish
towers were called by a name which is equivalent to “belfry,” but that,
notwithstanding, the structures were not originally bell-towers. The
English term “belfry,” now, indeed, denotes a building for hanging
bells, yet, contrary to popular belief, the word has no etymological
connection with the word “bell.” Sir James Murray and Professor Skeat
have collected irrefragable testimony proving that the Middle English
_berfrey_, and the Old French _berfrei_, in all their various spellings,
denoted a wooden tower, or pent-house, generally movable, employed in
besieging and defending fortresses. In due time the word came to signify
a watch-or beacon-tower, then an alarm tower, and, finally, a
bell-tower. The English form _belfray_, which seems to have misled the
earlier philologists, did not appear before the fifteenth century[308].
Hence we have this curious case of opposites: the Irish towers, at an
early date, possess a name which erroneously implies that they were
merely bell-houses, while the English steeples contained bells long
before the bell-chamber got the designation “belfry,” a word which
became spuriously connected with “bell.”

This review of the Irish towers and their possible analogues in England
must not further detain us, for we must hasten to consider another
secular use of the tower. Many English steeples were set up largely to
serve as beacons and landmarks, and, in fact, this purpose was doubtless
kept in mind even when the primary intention was defensive. Sometimes,
the entire building, rather than the steeple alone, was a landmark.
Whitby Abbey church, as is well known, is reached by ascending 199 steps
from the old town lying below in the valley of the Esk. The church is
believed, with good reason, to owe its prominent position to a desire,
on the part of its founders, to provide a lighthouse for storm-tossed
mariners. Much the same may be said of the parish church (St Mary’s)
which stands on the cliffs hard by. Again, comparing the small with the
great, and choosing, for the sake of emphasis, a towerless structure,
let us take the tiny square chapel of St Aldhelm (Fig. 32), which is
perched on the summit of St Alban’s Head, in Dorsetshire. This quaint
chapel, with its vaulted roof, and its interesting Norman doorway, has
unfortunately been greatly restored. The buttresses shown in the
illustration are modern additions; they are not seen in old engravings
of the chapel. The building looks down on the waves, 440 feet below,
but, so fierce are the storms now and then, that the chapel is drenched
with spray and bombarded with small pebbles. Within, says tradition,
chantry priests were wont to offer prayers for the sailors in the
Channel, while a beacon light was burnt on the roof. And, truly, no
other explanation sufficiently accounts for the presence of the chapel
in such a remote position[309]. Perhaps a similar reason will apply to
the conspicuously placed church of Cheriton, near Folkestone (Fig. 33).

[Illustration: FIG. 32. St Aldhelm’s chapel, St Alban’s Head, Dorset; a
beacon for sailors.]

A curious legend is told of St Botolph’s church, at Northfleet, in Kent.
The tower, originally set up, it seems, to guide ships coming up the
Thames estuary, proved too serviceable, for pirates found it an
excellent beacon. It was therefore thought fit, so the story runs, to
make the tower look like a fortress, and it was accordingly rebuilt by
the villagers[310]. We notice that there are steps leading from the
churchyard to the first floor, so that one is inclined to believe a
portion of the story, at least. Whether, however, this was a feature of
the original design is uncertain.


     FIG. 33. Cheriton church, Kent; an isolated hill-top church, of
     Norman or pre-Norman foundation, built on the edge of a steep hill
     overlooking the English Channel. The site was probably chosen so
     that the church would serve as a landmark for mariners and

On Brent Tor, Devon, at a height of 1130 feet, there stands a little
church which overlooks the very edge of a precipice. The diminutive
graveyard contains a few mouldering tombstones. The building, which was
probably first set up during the Early English period, is, like so many
others found on eminences, dedicated to St Michael, the tutelary saint
of churches so placed. (Cf. St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall, with its
former chapel and shrine (Fig. 34); Mont St Michel in Normandy, with its
Benedictine Abbey; Mont St Michel at Carnac, with its chapel, calvary,
prehistoric tumulus, and pagan legends.) The church was evidently
intended as much for a landmark as for a house of prayer. To explain its
exalted position, local tradition relates that a grateful merchant had
a struggle with the Evil One concerning the site, and that mastery
remained with the trader. To ask why the merchant desired to build in
such an unfavourable situation is to supply at once the missing link of
the chain.


     FIG. 34. St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall. The present building on the
     top of the mount is almost entirely modern, little of the original
     Priory church of St Michael being traceable. In this church was the
     shrine of the saint.

    “Where the great vision of the guarded mount
    Looks towards Namancos and Bayona’s hold.”

One may recall how, in the days when roads were execrably muddy, and
pathways across the boggy moorlands were intricate and difficult to
follow, it was customary to erect pillars, towers, and other guide-marks
at suitable spots. For instance, Dunston pillar, in Lincolnshire, was
reared (A.D. 1751) as a lighthouse to assist travellers in crossing the
desolate, thief-ridden expanse of Lincoln Heath. The practice of
building such towers continued until the nineteenth century, as is amply
proved by the famous monuments and towers of the Isle of Wight and
Somersetshire. Often the first intention has been lost, and the
buildings are considered as mere prospect towers. It must not, however,
be inferred that the beacon towers were never used for this last
purpose, though the need of protection, and not pleasure, gave the
impulse. A conspicuous church tower would serve the same object as a
toot-hill. At Royston, near Barnsley, may be seen, below the belfry, on
the West side of the tower, an oriel window, supported by a long corbel.
The recess thus formed was locally called the “lantern” or “look-out,”
and tradition says that a light was formerly burnt within it[311]. The
case of the tower of St Nicholas, Newcastle, is especially instructive.
It was furnished with a “lantern,” and was valued as an inland
lighthouse by wayfarers over the moors. But the remarkable fact about
the tower is that, from time immemorial, it has been repaired by the
Corporation of the city. Legal opinion, to this very day, upholds the
view of the liability of the Corporation[312].

St Michael’s church, poised on the summit of an outlier of Inferior
Oolite at Glastonbury Tor (cf. p. 16 _supra_), in Somersetshire, was
doubtless, like so many other churches of that county, a day-mark for
travellers. This section may conclude with a notice of a building which
is usually considered solely as a “pilgrims’ church,” but which, I feel
convinced, at one time served also as an important beacon. The church
referred to is that of St Martha, Chilworth, near Guildford (Fig. 35).
It stands on the top of a Greensand hill (720 feet), and is, for many
miles around, an outstanding object, whether viewed from the distant
heights or from the pleasant valleys below. Common belief ascribes the
foundation to the Mediaeval folk who traversed the Pilgrims’ Way to
Becket’s shrine at Canterbury. There can be no question that pilgrims of
those days would welcome such a church, both as a landmark and
as a temporary resting-place. The name of the church, St
Martha’s-on-the-Hill, is believed to be a perversion of “Martyr’s
Church,” the martyr being St Thomas of Canterbury. But the structure,
though rebuilt and modernized, has a foundation which dates somewhat
earlier than the year of Becket’s death. For this reason, and because of
contributory local tradition of a massacre of Christians, a high
authority on church dedications urges that the name should be “Martyrs’
Church,” and that the spot is consecrated, not to one person, but to
early Christians who suffered there[313]. It should be noted, in
passing, that St Martha’s is technically called a chapel, but that it is
really a church, as described above. It possesses all the customary
parochial rights, and is used for the usual functions. Legally, the
building is what is termed a “donative,” and is independent of episcopal

[Illustration: FIG. 35. St Martha’s chapel, near Guildford, Surrey. The
present cruciform building is a restoration (1848) of the supposed
“Pilgrims’ Church,” which had fallen into a ruinous condition. The view
is taken from the South, a little to the East of Chilworth station. The
Tillingbourne stream is seen in the foreground.]

Leaving the tower, we come next to the nave of the church, and approach
an attractive study--one that has exercised the minds of many observers.
Why should the size of the nave be often so utterly disproportionate to
the congregation which it has to accommodate? Has the population changed
inversely to such an extent since the church was built? One might
rashly deem the riddle solved by a reference to acts enforcing
conformity in religion, or to the half-truth that “all persons went to
church in those days.” On rare occasions, perchance, the inhabitants did
all go to church, at least those who were neither infantile nor
bed-ridden. But these explanations are idle. Churches may be found,
which, even if we allow that every adult in the village was a regular
churchgoer, could never at any time have been quite filled at a purely
religious service.

Various answers have been given to the troublesome query. At Thaxted, in
Essex, in whose church, as the natives say, all the parishioners might
comfortably be put to bed, the excess of accommodation is thought to be
explainable on the assumption that the builders provided for a growing
population. The general facts, however, are strongly against this
notion. William Cobbett, who will be admitted as a careful observer,
though his conclusions were frequently hasty, exemplified both his
strength and his weakness in discussing this subject. Over and over
again, in his _Rural Rides_, and his _History of the Protestant
Reformation_, he calls attention to churches, which, in his day, would
hold three or four times the total number of the inhabitants in the
respective parishes. From these facts, he deduces that the land in
Mediaeval times supported a greater number of folk, and that the
villages were larger and much more densely populated. Other writers,
favoured with greater opportunities than were available to Cobbett,
have, nevertheless, been betrayed into the same error. But the
population theory is now so generally discredited, that it is
unnecessary to rebut it directly by an appeal to the estimated
populations of the country during each successive century. Besides, an
estimated census of the population during the Edwardian period, for
instance, can never be more than approximate, and may itself cause more
controversy than the theory which it is warranted to disprove.

The seemingly obvious answer to the puzzle of spacious churches is, as
so often happens, incorrect. The best refutation, perhaps, is afforded
by general principles, and by certain ascertained facts. These
principles and facts are bound up with what has been briefly called “the
social theory of Mediaeval Christianity.” What this theory implies will
shortly appear. From a slightly different point of view, the inordinate
size of the nave directs us to a period when secular and sacred
departments of parish life were more closely blended than they are
to-day. Before developing this idea, however, we must pause, else we
shall find another hypothesis barring our way.

This latest hypothesis, and one which will command greatest attention
because of the high reputation of its advocates, might best be termed
“the devotional theory.” It may thus be stated: a large Mediaeval church
was not necessarily built for a large congregation, but it was, first of
all, a monument, freely raised, as a permanent expression of duty and
devotion to the Divine Father. Mr Francis Bond, who propounds this
theory, is dealing primarily with Westminster Abbey, but, from the
context, it seems clear that he supports a wider application. Here is an
Abbey church, a huge building, over 500 feet in length, and 100 feet in
height; yet it was erected, as documentary evidence proves, for a
congregation which was normally under sixty[315]. “It seems hardly
conceivable,” remarks Mr Bond, “that it could have been planned and
built for pigmy man who walks beneath; it seems not built for mortal man
by mortal men; man is overpowered by his own work[316].” No, this
vastness had another purpose besides that of the accommodation of
worshippers--it was man’s tribute to the Unseen, his attempt to
symbolize the Eternal and the Infinite. For, indeed, at the Great
Sacrament, “the priest of the church officiated, congregation or no
congregation,” and in the village church all the choir that could be got
together, as a rule, consisted of the parish priest and the parish
clerk[317]. A congregation of two: yet, as Thorold Rogers observes, “it
is certain that villages with fewer than fifty or a hundred inhabitants
possessed edifices which would hold a congregation of five, or even ten
times that number[318].”

Does the “devotional theory” furnish a full explanation of the
difficulty? As befits one who has learned many valuable lessons when a
student under Mr Bond, and who has almost unqualified admiration for his
teaching, I criticize the theory with some misgiving. Yet, though Mr
Bond’s solution is probably correct, in the main, with respect to our
cathedrals, minsters, and abbey churches, it seems quite unsatisfactory
for hundreds of parish churches. All thoughtful students must, indeed,
admit that the aesthetic and devotional aspect of church
architecture--its grandeur, its freedom, its wealth of what was choicest
in design and ornament, its sculpture, painting, stained glass, and
mosaic work--cannot be eliminated when considering the question of size.
These details are parts of a whole. Again, the daily service, constantly
observed until the Reformation, and, as recent investigation has shown,
probably never wholly discarded since that event[319], was a duty
undertaken, we may readily admit, irrespective of the number of
worshippers. The building was as magnificent and costly as wealth or
self-denial could make it. The resplendent vestments, the solemn
liturgy, and the beautiful music were the best that the age could
produce. So, too, the very vastness of the structure was a token that
the founders performed their work in no niggardly spirit of economy or

    “They dreamed not of a perishable home,
     Who thus could build.”

It must be understood that, with respect to the populace, this
description is largely theoretical. In practice, such lofty sentiments
would be confined to picked leaders and their devoted adherents. Even
with these churchmen, ideals were often degraded, and always
unattainable. Of the people in general, it may be said that beneath a
veneer of religion there existed an amorphous mass of heathenism. The
monks and parish clergy of remote districts were not merely the pioneers
of religion, but they represented the outposts of civilization amid a
population of semi-barbarians. But, in architecture, it was the leaders
who counted.

In spite of all these considerations, the argument from devotion appears
to be insufficient to meet the case, unless--an improbable event--the
secular uses of the nave, which are about to be described, were the
results of afterthought. Rightly to understand the problem, we must
constantly recollect two staple facts: first, that the early churchmen
were ever ready to adopt a compromise, and, secondly, that, especially
during the Mediaeval period, there existed a close relationship between
the secular and the religious aspects of social life. So many pieces of
evidence have to be colligated to explain the working of these two
principles, that it is difficult to make a beginning. But, since the
question of compromise has already been dealt with in Chapter I., we may
chiefly confine ourselves to the second point. On the whole, a start may
best be made by reviewing the meetings, other than those strictly
concerned with worship, which were held of old time in churches. Some of
these meetings must have comprised far more able-bodied men than were
ever collected together for a strictly religious celebration. In fact, a
particular church may have had to shelter not only the inhabitants of
the parish, but also the dwellers in several outlying parishes and
hamlets. What business was it that gathered these folk together?

When discussing pagan sites, we found that open-air courts, whether
territorial, or composed of members of a free community, commonly met
near some prominent landmark, natural or artificial (p. 34 _supra_). Of
these objects, megalithic monuments--particularly menhirs and
stone-circles--were much favoured. The stone-circles, as we saw, were in
later days gradually abandoned, and the members of the community
assembled in the churches. We should reasonably expect to discover
evidence of overlapping of custom, and this is what we actually find.
For, at a date when gatherings on mounds and within cromlechs are still
sporadically recorded, we find frequent references to courts held in
churches. Thus, during the Saxon period, trial by ordeal, which was
deemed a religious transaction, was conducted by the priests in the
parish church[320]. So early as A.D. 973, says Sir G. L. Gomme, a
_gemōt_ was held in St Paul’s, London, while in A.D. 1293 a court met in
Norham church, Northumberland[321]. The County Court, a very ancient
body, presided over by the sheriff, was held in the Sheriff’s Court, or
the Manor Court, but, if these were not convenient, the members
assembled in the open air, or in the church[322]. The Welsh laws of the
ninth and tenth centuries frequently refer to churches as courts of
justice[323]. Relics, it was declared, were unnecessary at trials held
in churches, for the church was the place of relics.

What is true of the Saxon and Norman times holds good for a somewhat
later period. At Ashburton, Devonshire, the annual courts of the
manorial lord met in the chapel of St Laurence, when such officials as
the bailiff and the port-reeve were elected[324]. The court leet, which,
under the feudal system, was charged with maintenance of the peace, and
which had jurisdiction over petty offences, frequently, as at Bolton,
assembled in church[325]. The Courts of the Lord Warden of the Cinque
Ports also met in a consecrated building[326]. Sometimes the business to
be transacted was of a trivial kind. At Alvingham, Lincolnshire, “the
Commune of the servants of the Ladye Nicholas,” or their “baylifes,” are
bidden to meet in the adjacent church of St Leonard, Cockerington, to
appoint a day for mowing grass in their common pasture[327]. But whether
the matters to be considered were light or weighty, the church seemed to
be the natural building for such gatherings. Hence, when Mr A. C.
Benson, in one of his delightful essays, speaks of the “great cruciform
structures” of the Fens, “built with no idea of prudent proportion to
the needs of the places they serve,” he does not take a comprehensive
view of local requirements.

The course of events just sketched might have been anticipated. Meetings
in the open-air having been discontinued, where were the folk to meet in
council? There was a poverty of suitable buildings. Long ago Fergusson
remarked on “the almost entire absence of municipal buildings during the
whole of the Middle Ages[328].” The short list of notable examples
which he was able to bring forward served to make the general absence
more striking. A few guild halls and town halls make up the catalogue
for the cities; the smaller towns have little to show of this kind.
There is consequently a basis for the belief, expressed by some
writers[329], that the use of churches as courts of justice was
“universal in feudal England.” The assertion is doubtless too general,
but, if for the word “universal,” we read “widespread,” it would be
quite correct. The case of St Nicholas, Newcastle--a church to which
allusion has already been made (p. 131 _supra_)--supplies a noteworthy
example of this usage. For centuries the burgesses met in that church
for public business. In the tower hung a bell, known as the “common
bell,” which was tolled on these occasions. Three times a year it also
summoned the freemen to their guild meetings, when a sermon was preached
by the Lord Mayor. This bell had another name, “the thief and reever
bell” (_reever_ = freebooter, cattle-robber); tradition says that it
announced the holding of fairs, and gave warning to drovers and dealers
that no inconvenient questions would be asked concerning the beasts
which they had for sale[330].

In view of the foregoing facts, surprise need not be provoked by the
statement that consistorial courts were commonly held in places of
worship. If it be urged that much of the business of these courts
pertained strictly to religion, it may be answered that a still greater
proportion was distinctly secular[331]. At Ripon, for example, where the
collegiate church was the place of assembly, the ecclesiastical courts
took cognizance of cases of perjury, theft, defamation of character,
debt, affiliation, and so forth. A similar court sat in the “galilee”
(porch, vestibule, or ante-chapel) of Durham cathedral[332]. The most
famous of our consistories, the Court of Arches, derived its name from
the characteristic architecture of the church of St Mary-le-Bow,
London, where it was originally held[333]. The trials of Lollards and
other heretics were usually held in cathedrals or important
churches[334], but these instances must not detain us, since they belong
chiefly to the religious field of action. Yet it is really a hard task
to decide where the line of cleavage runs. The bishop in his cathedral,
and the abbot in his abbey-town, were, as Mr J. C. Jeaffreson has
observed, in many respects comparable to the lay baron or the wealthy
manorial lord. Administering large estates, these dignitaries often had
an army of tenants, from whom fealty was exacted. The business
transactions connected with the property must have been somewhat
numerous, and, from their very nature, they were constantly recurring.
It may call forth wonder nowadays to specify some of the curious
possessions once held by the Church. The Gate House, the chief prison in
Westminster, belonged to the Dean and Chapter, and the town gaol of
Salisbury to the bishop of that city[335]. Of the stocks and whipping
post we shall have to speak later. Enough has been said to prove that
secular courts, as well as justices’ sessions, formerly met in churches.
The practice, it may be added, continued, to some extent, long after the
Reformation. The persistence of some of the legal vestiges is indeed
really amazing. Not only, as Mr Addy informs us, was the ancient order
of serjeants-at-law wont to meet in the nave of old St Paul’s, to meet
clients in consultation, but each serjeant actually had a pillar
allotted to him. This rendezvous was known as Paul’s Walk. Down to a
late period, certain executors met annually in St Mary’s church at Bury
St Edmunds, for the auditing of their accounts.

But custom was never uniform with respect to these assemblies within
sacred buildings. Contemporaneously with the use, in some parishes, of
the church fabric for meetings, we find other villages where the
churchyard was the rallying-place. Several causes may have conduced to
these results. The church may have been too small; there may have been a
quarrel with some strict incumbent; more frequently, there was a dispute
about the interpretation of a prohibitory canon. Indeed, records show
that the practice was always being condemned, and always being
continued. Thus, during the reign of Henry II., the old port-moot of the
burgesses of Oxford met in St Martin’s churchyard[336]. Meetings in
church were forbidden at the Synods of Exeter and Winchester (A.D.
1287)[337]. Yet, in A.D. 1472, the inhabitants of two Yorkshire parishes
were reported to the Archbishop of York for holding councils in the
churchyard. (“_Dicunt quod omnes parochiani tenent plebisitum, et alias
ordinaciones temporales, in ecclesia et cimiterio_[338].”) Nevertheless,
in the sixteenth century, we find that one of Laud’s unpopular acts was
his attempt to stop the practice of holding lay tribunals in consecrated
places. At Tewkesbury, in particular, the townsfolk deemed this a
grievance. Armed with a licence from the bishop, and shielded by ancient
custom, the justices of the peace had long held their sessions in the
churchyard. For these acts, the primate called some of the justices into
the High Commission Court. When challenged, Laud was obliged to confess
that temporal courts might be held on consecrated ground or within the
church upon urgent occasion, yet there was no warrant for sessions which
might involve a “trial for blood[339].” Sir G. L. Gomme, who has
collected many instances of the custom which we are discussing, cites
authority to show that, in recent times, the stewards and bailiffs of a
leet would occasionally, in bad weather, disregard the canon and hold
their courts in churches[340].

As the practice of holding manorial courts in the church fell into
abeyance, or died out altogether, certain vestiges were left behind as
tell-tales of the past. The principal survival of this kind was the
announcement from the pulpit of forthcoming meetings of secular courts.
In A.D. 1656, the notice convening the Court Baron of Hathersage,
Derbyshire, was published in the village church[341]. But there are
later instances of the transaction of business within the sacred walls.
Several cases are given by Mr and Mrs Sidney Webb, whose untiring
researches deal with the period which has elapsed since the Revolution
(1689-1835)[342]. Thus, the villagers of Puxton, Somerset, down to the
year 1816, were summoned to church by “sound of bell,” in the early
morning, to perform business connected with Dolmoors Common. Of this
land, we are told, 23 parts were assigned by drawing lots, the
remaining, or twenty-fourth part, known as the “Outdrift” or “Outlet,”
being let by auction, by “inch of candle.” The rent of this plot was
employed to defray the incidental expenses of the twelvemonth. This
ancient custom was terminated, in the year mentioned, by an award under
the Enclosure Act which was passed in 1811[343]. Records of this
character could doubtless be easily paralleled by those students who
have access to parish documents. For, speaking generally, at the close
of the seventeenth century, the inhabitants at large had, both by common
law and immemorial local custom, the right to be summoned, by tolling of
the bell, to transact specific business in the vestry of the church.
This claim held good not only for the Easter “vestry,” but for such
other “town meetings” as might be judged necessary. Manifestly, these
“open” vestries could not always be accommodated in the small side-rooms
with which we are familiar--the nave must have been utilized. Within the
sacred building, officers were elected, church rates made, and
miscellaneous matters, such as those connected with commons, pasturage,
and the parish pound, were settled[344]. The old name of these
assemblies, by the way, seems to have been “town meeting,” yet the name
“vestry” goes back to A.D. 1564, at least. The summoning bell bore the
significant name of mote-bell, and it was rung for half an hour[345].

It has been affirmed, by H. R. von Gneist, that the open parish vestry
was almost unique in England, since, besides the House of Commons, it
was the only popular assembly which had the right to impose compulsory
taxation. Yet, according to Mr and Mrs Webb, the legal framework was
slight, and the proceedings were “supported with some dubiety[346].”
Again, it was argued by Professor Maitland and Bishop Hobhouse that the
vestry is not traceable before the fourteenth century--the name itself,
as we have seen, is apparently later--that it belonged to the parish,
not the township, that it was “a purely ecclesiastical entity,” and that
churchwardens are officials of comparatively modern institution. In
short, the authorities mentioned considered that the germ of the vestry
was ecclesiastical, though its civil power may have sprung from the
decay of the manorial courts[347]. It is further considered that it was
only during the reign of Henry VIII. that churchwardens were entrusted
with civil functions, such as providing arms or harness for
soldiers[348] (cf. p. 157 _infra_). In later times, even within living
memory, we have had the so-called “close” vestries. Usually, a close
vestry consisted of the clergyman, the squire, three or four farmers,
the miller, the innkeeper, and a freeholder or two. Mr and Mrs Webb
pertinently remark that, if one’s imagination is greatly swayed by the
idea of the close vestry, it will be difficult to picture the assemblies
which met in past ages. We must conceive an assembly composed of
numerous and diverse constituents, and endowed with various powers.
Here, then, we get a ray of light on the theory of social convenience as
affecting the church fabric.

We may remind ourselves, as we go along, that vestries are still held in
our English parishes, and that they meet in the room attached to the
church fabric. But their powers are now confined to ecclesiastical
matters. Other business, such as the control of parish property, and the
management of civil charities, was, by the Local Government Act of 1894,
transferred to the Parish Councils. And this mention of the stripping
away of secular powers leads us to ask, Were the original vestries,
which Professor Maitland deemed purely ecclesiastical, so entirely
restricted to church matters as at the present day? Probably not,
because, as we have seen, the secular and the ecclesiastical were, in
some measure, inextricably united. Even supposing, then, that the open
vestry did not rise from the ruins of the old village-moot, it must have
partially dealt with secular affairs. The simple fact, however, which
affects the present discussion is that the old parish meetings were,
like the modern vestry, held within the walls of the church.

Another derivative from the era of church assemblies is the custom of
electing mayors within the sacred building. Formerly, the mayors of
Sandwich, Boston, Northampton, Grantham, and other towns were chosen in
the parish church[349]. Sometimes, not only was the election conducted
in church, but the function was performed around a particular tomb. This
was the case with the mayor of New Romney and the bailiff of Lydd, in
Kent[350]. At Brightlingsea, Essex, the place of election was the

Still another survival, eloquent even in its insignificance, is the
practice of posting secular notices on church doors. When one sees,
affixed to the door, bills referring to such subjects as regimental
orders or government commissions, and when one watches the villager
scanning the list of parliamentary voters, it is easy to dismiss the
matter by saying, “Oh! the notices are posted there because the place is
public and known to all; besides, the Church is established by law.”
Doubtless, such ideas are often present in the mind of the overseer or
parish clerk when he pins the bill on the door, but inquiring folk want
to know more. If the query be closely pressed, the response may be that
the door of the porch is not considered a part of the fabric. For this
explanation there is an appearance of reason, but, after all, the reply
is inadequate. The fact that the baptismal service, and a portion of the
marriage service, were often performed in the church porch, shows that
the structure was recognized as a part of the hallowed building. It is
true that, in France, one may observe “affiches” posted inside the
cathedral, because the porch is deemed a part of the exterior, and
notices which are placed in the latter position must be stamped, and the
duty paid. How the idea has arisen it would be difficult to say with
certainty. But there is one feature which the French and English
buildings have in common. The porch was pre-eminently the spot for
discussing parish business, because it formed a convenient shelter and
halting place for the worshippers. It was a focus of attraction to
gossips and traders alike. The real reason, then, behind the tradition,
is, not so much that the porch was a kind of no-man’s land--a neutral
territory--but that it was a most appropriate rallying point for the
transaction of business. To this subject we shall return in the next

The retention of the Royal Arms in churches has been supposed by Mr Addy
and other writers to be a secular survival. Mr Addy suggests,
inferentially, that the practice is a relic of the “basilica-temple”
period[351]. But, in the first place, the symbol does not seem traceable
to the old civil or ecclesiastical courts. It is true that the Royal
Arms may be seen on stained glass, and, occasionally, on priestly
vestments of the pre-Reformation period. Again, in Spanish churches, the
Arms are displayed at the present time, sometimes even over the altars.
Further, although the symbol began to be exhibited in special tablets or
frames almost immediately after the death of Henry VIII., it was not
until the Restoration that the suspension of the Royal Arms was made
compulsory[352]. While it is clear, therefore, that the symbol has no
necessary connection with Protestant reformations, it seems to be
straining the facts too far when one tries to carry the practice back to
the early centuries of the English Church. It is essential, too, to
remember that Royal Arms, as we understand them, did not exist in the
pre-Conquest period. There remain, however, more authentic relics of the
union of secular and ecclesiastical affairs which must be reserved for
the present, since it is high time to consider another aspect of the
question. To do this properly, we shall require a separate chapter.



For the practice of holding judicial and civil courts in churches there
is, as we have seen, a sufficient explanation in the necessities of the
time, and in the simple outlook which our forefathers took concerning
human affairs. But the further problem arises: at what stage in the
early history of the Church must we look for the germ of this custom? It
has been shown that the open-air court lingered on after secular
assemblies had begun to flock into the church. Yet, in the broader
sense, it seems clear that civil business, to a greater or lesser
extent, had been transacted in the church ever since churches were
founded. All analogy points in this direction, but where is the actual
evidence to be found? Some have sought it in the word “church” itself.
We must therefore turn our thoughts to philology for a few moments. We
shall find ourselves engrossed in an alluring, but, at the same time, a
tantalizing study. Unfortunately, we cannot yet reach a final decision,
and we shall have to be careful to set aside such conjectures as betray
perverse ingenuity. Philological testimony is very helpful where its
voice is certain; where indistinct, it may lead us far astray.

The word “church,” and its variant “kirk,” present us, in fact, with an
unsolved problem. Let us attempt to summarize what is known on the
subject, and so prepare the way for a startling hypothesis. First, then,
both _church_ and _kirk_ were once believed by lexicographers to be
purely Saxon words, but recent research has disproved this theory. After
the scholarly labours of Professor Skeat, and the exhaustive analysis
prepared by Sir James Murray, we are able to assert that the word
_church_, though appearing in a somewhat different form, was known in
West Germanic speech so early as the fourth or fifth century of our
era. Moreover, there is now general agreement among scholars in
referring _church_ to the Greek κῡριακόν. This word is strictly
adjectival (neuter of κῡριακός) and means “of the lord,” i.e. dominical
(from κῡριος = lord). The term, however, is found to occur
substantively, from the third or fourth century at least, in the sense
of “house of the Lord,” meaning a Christian place of worship. Writing on
this phase of the subject, Sir James Murray declares that there is no
other derivation, except that from κῡριακόν, which will bear scientific
statement, much less examination.

The Greek origin of _church_ has, nevertheless, been assailed, but
without success. The counter-argument runs thus: the ordinary Greek name
for _church_ was εκκλησία, and this word, or βασιλική (_basilica_), was
the name which passed into Latin and all the Romanic, as well as all the
Celtic languages. In the last-named group we find, for example, the
Irish and Gaelic _eglais_, and the Welsh _eglwys_. Hence there is “an _a
priori_ unlikelihood” that any other Greek equivalent (e.g. κῡριακόν)
should have passed into the Teutonic languages. And, as a matter of
history, we know that εκκλησία was actually adopted in Gothic, though
only to represent a society or an assembly, not a place or building. So
far, then, there is no convincing proof against the co-existence of a
Gothic representative of κῡριακόν. Moreover, it seems clear that the
other Teutonic tribes did not accept _ecclesia_ on their conversion; yet
one would suppose that this word, or its counterpart _basilica_, would
have been adopted naturally. What was the reason for this
non-acceptance? The answer is, that a Teutonic form of κῡριακόν, namely
_kirika_, had already obtained a firm hold, and could not be dislodged.
A minor argument against the proposed derivation is the rareness of the
Greek word, but this objection has not much weight.

The objections against the early introduction of _kirika_ are mainly
historical. We do not know the actual circumstances in which _kirika_,
as the representative of the Greek κῡριακόν, became so powerfully
entrenched as to resist all the influence of Latin Christianity to
supplant it. The word may have been picked up by Teutonic invaders of
the Roman Empire before those invaders had become Christianized.
Curiously enough, this very question is discussed by a writer of the
ninth century. But whatever may have been the cause of the transfer, the
word _kirika_ (church) was brought to England by the Angles and

It is of some interest to find that the Latin equivalent, _dominicum_,
of the two Greek words, was employed in the sense of “house of God,” by
the middle of the third century. To a certain extent this word was
adopted in Old Irish, since _domnach_ (mod. Irish, _domhnach_) is
frequently used to denote a church[354].

Another detail, worth noting as we pass along, is the existence of a
group of place-names which appear to contain _ecclesia_ as a prefix. Out
of a goodly list, we may mention Ecclesfield, Eccleshall, and Eccleston.
It has been plausibly argued that these names could not have been given
by the Saxons, who would have handed down words compounded with
_church_, instead of _ecclesia_; that in fact, the group has an earlier
history, dating from the days of Roman or Celtic Christianity. Only in
this way, it is thought, could the Graeco-Latin term have formed part of
a place-name. The objection to this theory--and it is a grave one--lies
in the inability of its defenders to prove that the place-names possess
the element _ecclesia_ at all. Most, if not all, of the names, break
down under examination. In brief, Professor Baldwin Brown, who has
investigated the subject, declares against the pre-Saxon origin[355].

The remarkable theory to which allusion has been made, and towards which
the reader has been gradually led, was propounded by Mr Sidney O. Addy,
upon whose pages toll has already been freely levied. Starting from the
accepted etymological data, which have just been outlined, Mr Addy
produces a striking chain of testimony. He notices that, since βασιλική,
like κῡριακόν, means a king’s or lord’s house, the words _church_ and
_basilica_ are virtually identical terms. Searching for evidence from
North-West Spain, he found that the local council was summoned by the
church bell, on Sundays, that is the _dies dominica_, or lord’s day. The
Spanish custom, moreover, “is only an accidental survival of what was
once the universal practice in Western Europe[356].” In addition, the
facts show that the Spanish court, which is now convened by the sound of
the church bell, was formerly held in the church, and was originally
analogous to the old Greek ἐκκλησῖα,--the meeting of citizens assembled
by the crier (ἐκκαλεῖν = to call out)[357]. In Western Europe such a
court was summoned by the bell or moot-horn. Thus, the bell in the
campanile of old St Paul’s Cathedral--an independent structure--summoned
the citizens of London to the folk-moot[358]. The next link in the chain
is supposed to be furnished by certain ancient English churches, which
have apsidal terminations, and which possess, or formerly possessed,
crypts. Of these churches, Brixworth, in Northamptonshire (cf. p. 9
_supra_), and Repton, in Derbyshire, are taken as types[359]. Mr Addy
institutes comparisons between these old churches and the Roman
basilicas, and again, between the crypts and the subterranean chambers
of those basilicas. And undoubtedly the analogy is a very close one.
From the harmony of design which the examination reveals, he infers that
Roman and British structures alike were reared for the administration of
public business and the dispensation of justice. His main conclusion is,
that a new church “was the nucleus of a new liberty or free community.”
It was the “house” or public hall of a new lord, or chief (the lord of
the manor), who presided over that community[360]. Another valuable line
of evidence may be noted. Professor Baldwin Brown has called attention
to the “coenacula,” or upper chambers, which are found over the Western
choir in some continental churches. These council chambers of the
territorial chiefs prove, at least, the strong hold which the lord
possessed over church affairs.

Several minor features are held to support the theory. A fresh
interpretation is tendered of the much-discussed “squints” or
hagioscopes in churches. Respecting these curious apertures, folk-memory
tells us nothing. Antiquaries have never secured complete unanimity on
the subject, though it is usual to say that the openings were made to
allow persons standing near the door or in the transept to see the
elevation of the Host at the high altar. The “squints” sometimes pass
through two or three walls in succession, and they very commonly point
directly to the South, or main door of the building[361]. Mr Addy,
however, conceives that the openings were so arranged in order to allow
the doorkeeper (_ostiarius_)--the door-ward of Middle English times--to
see the president of the assembly sitting in the chancel, and thus,
directly or indirectly, to take orders from him. The chancel was the
tribunal (βῆμα), where, behind a screen of lattice-work, sat the lord
and his assessors. Since the altar, in the oldest English churches, such
as those mentioned, was situated on “the chord of the apse,” that is,
just under the chancel arch, it is argued that the squints could not
have been intended to enable persons to see the elevation of the
Host[362]. It is also noted that the old name for the choir was the
presbytery, or seat of the elders. The very word πρεσβύτερος was often
applied to the “headman” of a village.

Furthermore, so early as A.D. 685, as shown by an inscription of
undoubted authenticity, referring to the Saxon church at Jarrow, the
English parish church was, in one instance, termed a basilica[363]
(_Dedicatio basilicae_). The earliest reference in English literature,
however, as given in the _New Oxford Dictionary_, is A.D. 1563[364].

Now Mr Addy’s theory, which he supports with abundant details and
illustrative comparisons, is surpassingly attractive to the
archaeologist, especially to one who has grasped the fact of the former
unity of secular and religious movements in the village commonwealth.
The conclusions are, nevertheless, open to some criticism. At the
outset, the theory seems to assume that the Roman secular basilica was
the immediate prototype of the Christian church, and this assumption, as
will be shown in a later chapter, runs contrary to the teaching of very
good authorities. Again, though Mr Addy has adduced several examples of
crypts connected with buildings in the basilican style of architecture,
we have just seen that the word “basilica” itself, as applied to
Christian churches, cannot be traced earlier than the seventh century.
One would have rather expected to find the name given to the first
Romano-British churches of the country. This absence of the term, it is
true, is not a fatal objection. Nor does it lie in the mouth of those
who believe, that, as in the case of fortress-towers, defensive designs
outlasted their real use, to deny that the provision of crypts continued
after their first purpose was forgotten. Hence, one is not disposed to
cavil at the example adduced from Hornsea in the East Riding, where the
present building dates no earlier than the fourteenth century. There was
a church in Hornsea at the time of the Domesday survey, and there may
have existed a crypt before the Norman Conquest.

A more serious objection is the anachronism, for so it seems, which
makes English assemblies meet indoors at the early period when open-air
courts were the rule. For we are not dealing with the Norman or the
Plantagenet periods. That the old Greek assemblies were held in the
basilicas may be true, but the earliest moots of which we have records
in Britain were held out of doors. Little can be inferred from comparing
the customs of peoples who occupied different social and political
levels. The British open-air gatherings were doubtless in vogue before
the days of the feudal lord, or even his pre-manorial prototype. From
what has gone before, it will be readily supposed that the church built
near the stronghold of the feudal chief was dominated by the lord or his
representative. In this special sense, the church was, indeed, the
“lord’s house,” because, if necessary, it was utilized as a
court-room[365]. But that the “Lord’s house” in England was ever
primarily and essentially the “lord’s house” (κῡριακόν), may be doubted.
Leaving aside the question of origins, we require to know by what
process that particular transition from the political to the religious
use was made; if it were ever effected in this country at all. The
English evidence rather shows that a reverse development took place: the
“Lord’s house” gradually became the “lord’s house” in the limited sense
just indicated. At any rate, before the time when churches began to be
commonly used as secular trysting places, that is, in the late Saxon and
the Norman periods, the word “church” itself was established in popular
speech. And it remains to be proved that “basilica” ever was, to any
appreciable extent, an alternative term. Expressed otherwise, we may say
that the word “church” would, by the time of the introduction of
Christianity to Britain, have lost its primary Greek connotation, and
this would scarcely be revived and transferred to Christian churches
reared under a new set of conditions.

With respect to the squints, is it claimed that the early basilicas
possessed similar apertures, or that these familiar skew openings were
the rule, even in those churches which are most closely connected with
the moated fortress? One does not overlook the abundance of squints in
the churches of such a district as that around Tenby, nor forget that
these buildings exhibit defensive features (p. 113 _supra_). Were the
problem concerned with South Pembrokeshire as a self-contained country,
the theory of the lord and his door-keeper would seem more plausible. As
the facts stand, however, it is more reasonable to rely on the old, if
incomplete, explanation that a line of squints permitted the door-keeper
to see the altar and to ring the Sanctus bell at a given moment.
Numerous minor difficulties are involved in Mr Addy’s theory. The
squints are often on the North side of the building, and are not in the
line of communication with the Southern door. Again, they are frequently
seen in chantries and transepts, where they point to the interior of the
sanctuary, if not to the altar itself, as at Whatley, in Somerset, or
Leatherhead, Surrey (Fig. 36). Still further, the squints, on the whole,
belong to the post-Norman period of architecture, when constructional
decoration, as well as utility, was kept in view by the builders.

In the light of comparative custom, the theory of the “lord’s house”
may, at first sight, appear tenable. Indeed, there may have been a time
in the history of Greece when this hypothesis corresponded to the facts.
Applied to this country, however, and tested in details, the theory
seems to fail, and can only be countenanced with great qualifications.


     FIG. 36. Squint in East wall of North transept, Leatherhead church,
     Surrey. Persons sitting in the portion of the transept shown in the
     illustration can see the altar through the squint.

In the last chapter, allusion was made to the church porch as a centre
of public life, and this part of the building has just come under notice
again in connection with the door-ward. A few further remarks may now be
added. The church porch was often of great size (Fig. 37). The practice
of holding schools in the porch is well attested. In Derbyshire
villages, such as


     FIG. 37. Stone porch, Wotton church, Surrey. The inner doorway
     dates from c. A.D. 1200, but the porch itself belongs to the 13th
     or 14th century. Internal measurements, 14 ft × 11 ft approx. The
     outer doorway and the inside arcade are modern restorations. The
     barge board is of the Decorated period.

Hope and Tideswell, the former existence of the porch-school rests on
tradition alone. But John Evelyn, referring to the year 1624, says
definitely that “one Frier taught us at the church porch at Wotton,” in
Surrey[366]. The Surrey historian, William Bray, writing in A.D. 1818,
asserts that the village schoolmaster of Wotton taught over the porch,
and considers it “not altogether incurious to observe” that the son of a
man of very considerable fortune should receive his first rudiments of
learning in such a school. There was another school during the sixteenth
century over the porch of St Sepulchre’s, London. A few more instances
may be given where porch-schools existed. St Michael’s Loft, in the
Priory Church, Christchurch, Hants; the parish church, Cheltenham; Selby
Abbey (in a room over a chapel); Berkeley, Gloucestershire (until 1870);
and Malmesbury (until 1879, or later). An interesting expression, of
which little note has been made, occurs in _Twelfth Night_, Act III. Sc.
2. Maria, referring to Malvolio, says, “He’s in yellow stockings.” “And
cross-gartered?” queries Sir Toby Belch. “Most villainously; like a
pedant that keeps a school in the church,” runs the disdainful reply.
Schools held in the body of the church have also been known in our own
time, for they usually survived the porch-schools proper.

It is suggested that the stone seats often found in the porch were used
as benches for the children who came to be taught or catechized. Setting
aside the fact that wooden seats are also met with, it is not inherently
improbable that stone ledges should have been used, particularly when we
remember the chilly, comfortless fittings so familiar in monastic
cloisters and chapter houses. These benches, too, may have been covered
with straw or rushes. But it is more likely that the schools were held
in those rooms which are constantly seen built over the porch. Here, in
some parishes, the ostiarius (from _ostium_=door), who was to develop
into the “usher” of the public school, probably taught his little flock
of pupils[367]. The ostiarius, it may be recollected, belonged at first
to one of the minor orders of the church. Occasionally a chantry priest
had this duty of teaching allotted to him. It will be remembered that
Roman schools were held in a verandah partly open to the street. Some of
the upper chambers of porches are fitted with fireplaces. When provided
with a squint, the room may have been intended to lodge a priest, whose
duty it was to keep alight the sacred fire on the altar, or to house a
watchman who had to guard the treasure. Often the porch-chambers have
degenerated into lumber rooms. At times, as we shall see later, armour
was stored in them. In many porch-chambers libraries existed[368], and,
in others, documents were preserved. When employed for teaching
purposes, the chamber was proportionately large[369]. In place of the
overhead chamber, a gallery of oak or stone is sometimes found around
the inside of the porch. Galleries of this kind, to which access is
obtained by staircases, either in, or passing up the wall, are to be
seen at Bildeston, Suffolk, Weston-in-Gordano, Somerset, and several
other places. These “eminences” are usually believed to have
accommodated the singers at weddings and festivals, and, more
especially, on Palm Sunday[370]. In passing, we are obliged to notice
the term “parvis” or “parvise” which is commonly used to describe the
room above the porch. The usage, though fixed, is erroneous, for a
parvise is strictly the enclosed space before the door of a church or
cathedral. The application of the word to a porch-chamber has no
precedent earlier than the nineteenth century[371].

That much informal business was carried on in the porch has been
previously noted (p. 143 _supra_). Under this sheltering pent-house the
layman met his fellows to arrange slight matters of public interest. In
Saxon days, the finder of a stray beast would bring it to the porch, and
there, in the presence of the priest and the reeve of the tun, would
exhibit the animal to all possible claimants[372]. The church porch has,
in fact, always been a favourite resort for the performance of certain
business. In 1610, we hear of mortgages being paid off in the South
porch of Ecclesfield church, near Sheffield. Welsh instances prove that
rent for lands was sometimes brought to the church porch. Mrs C. King
Warry, who has made a careful study of the folk-customs of the Isle of
Portland, describes a practice which helps us to realize the business
methods of our ancestors. The practice, which exists to-day, is a
survival of the old pre-feudal mode of conveyance by “church-gift.” A
father, wishing to bequeath his paddock (i.e. a small enclosure of land,
with the freedom of quarrying stone therein) to his four daughters, let
us suppose, proceeds in the following manner. He divides the property by
means of partition walls into the requisite number of shares. Then,
after the church service on Sunday evening, he conveys the property by
word of mouth in the church porch. An old manuscript describes the
ceremony: “The churchwardens, and some of the best inhabitants” assemble
in the porch, when the testator thus expresses himself: “I, A----,
desire you, my neighbours, to take notice that I give to each of my
daughters an equal share of my Paddock, called----, and bounded----, as
it now lys divided into four parts.” “Wherefore,” continues the
manuscript, “the assembly rises and blesses (by name) the
daughters[373].” It is necessary only to add that the Portland custom
can be paralleled from other parts of the country.

Students of English literature will have noticed that marriages in the
church porch were once common. Chaucer makes the “Wife of Bath” speak
thus: “Housbondes at chirche-dore I have had fyve[374].” The allusion to
the church-door is not mere rhetorical licence. According to the Sarum
service, the marriage ceremony was performed in the porch (_ante ostium
ecclesiae_), the nuptial benediction being pronounced at the altar
afterwards. It was only when the first Prayer Book of Edward VI. was
issued that the rubric was thus settled: “The persons to be married
shall come into the body of the Church,” and this version has been
retained to the present time[375].

Several minor details might be noted to illustrate the secular uses of
the porch. Frequently the parson used the porch as a temporary stable
for his horse, and, although such action is now held to call for
interference on the part of the churchwardens[376], we may confidently
say that public opinion has not always discountenanced the practice.
Occasionally, one meets with old “stirrup stones” or “jossing blocks,”
placed in such positions as to show that no prohibition could have been
effectively in force against the horseman who brought his steed to
church. One of these stoops still remains at the gate of Duddington
churchyard, near Edinburgh, while at Edlington, Lincolnshire, the
mounting block is actually fixed on the North side of the porch[377].
Doubtless, a careful search would show that many more examples remain.

Only when we have fully recognized the vitality of ancient superstitions
and customs, shall we appreciate certain lingering practices connected
with the porch. John Aubrey saw, in the porch of a Suffolk church, a
horseshoe fixed on the wall to keep away the witches. The numerous
authenticated cases of portions of human skin having been found nailed
to church doors also bear on the point. Such instances carry us back,
not simply to the period when the secular and the religious were
combined in one mode of thought and action, but to a still earlier time
when the Christian teachers could not, or would not, repress the
savagery of paganism. The fragments of skin served to warn sacrilegious
robbers that they, too, ran the risk of being flayed alive.

It was casually mentioned, in a preceding paragraph, that armour was
sometimes stored in the porch-chamber. The subject will repay a little
further examination, because it has not yet received the attention which
it merits. Nor, even now, have we sufficient material available to give
very positive decisions. From the time of Edward I. onwards, every
parish was bound to keep in readiness an amount of armour in proportion
to its population. By the time of Henry VIII., as already stated (p. 142
_supra_), this obligation was vested primarily in the churchwardens. The
churchwardens were evidently the deputies of the constables, and these,
in turn, were the representatives of the sheriff, who was ultimately
responsible, both for the parish arms and for the training of the
soldiers. Yet, before this period, the clergy, as well as the laity,
were assessed for arms. Whoever was answerable for the observance of the
law is a question which does not greatly concern us for the present. The
most interesting part of the problem touches the storage of the armour.
The subject was discussed in a valuable article by Miss Ethel
Lega-Weekes in _Notes and Queries_ for 1909[378]. Was either the nave or
the porch used as an armoury? or were the weapons housed elsewhere?
These are questions to which one would fain get an answer.

The writer of the article which has just been cited considers it an open
question whether the expression “church armour,” occurring in old
documents, means the same as “town armour,” or “parish armour.” With
respect to storage, it is admitted that arms may have been deposited in
the church, though there has not been discovered any law or regulation
enforcing this practice. It is argued that the church would be damp and
unsuited for the keeping of armour: arms may have been deposited in
churches, but it was such as had fallen into disuse or become obsolete.
At once we may grant that iron weapons and body-coverings needed to be
carefully treasured. Professor Vinogradoff pertinently observes that, in
the eleventh century, well-forged helmets and swords were scarce and
expensive[379]. Yet one imagines that, down to the end of the Wars of
the Roses, at any rate, there was little chance for either arms or
armour to rust away. The monumental armour which is found in churches is
rusty and half-perished, but how many times has it been taken down since
it was first suspended over the tomb? It is said that the churches of
the fighting period possessed no snug, weather-proof vestries, where
arms could be safely protected. But there existed chantry chapels, as
well as porch-chambers, both of which might have served. Again, is it so
certain that the church was markedly damp--less dry, shall we say, than
the outbuildings of a feudal castle, where doubtless considerable
quantities of armour were once preserved? We shall shortly see that the
church was not deemed unfit for the storage of goods. If any building
were kept in a weather-tight condition, surely the church was that
building. In villages where no “church house” or tithe barn existed, one
is inclined to think, for several reasons, that some of the armour, when
not in use, was placed in the church. The clues which lead to this
opinion will be gathered together in the next few lines.

We may leave out of the discussion the mouldering helmets and crumbling
swords which hang derelict over many an altar tomb, and which were
oftentimes specially made for purposes of commemoration. These arms,
“undertakers’ properties,” as someone has well called them, are
irrelevant to the general question, and are apt to prejudice an
examination. Fortunately, we possess a little definite evidence as to
the housing of the “town’s armour” in churches. A large equipment of
such armour, of which Dr J. C. Cox gives a detailed inventory, was kept
in a room over the South porch of Repton church, Derbyshire, down to the
year 1840[380]. This collection comprised “corsletts,” “pickes,”
“calevers,” halberds, swords, a flask and touch-box, with many other
requisites. The parish books distinctly speak of the store as the
“Townes Armore.” In the steeple of the parish church of Darley, also in
Derbyshire, “harness and weapons” were, during the first year of
Elizabeth, kept in readiness for one bill-man and one archer[381]. The
poverty of this store excites a little surprise, and the explanation is
not immediately forthcoming. But doubtless the population of Darley was
then small, and the assessment would be proportionately low. A hoard of
old armour was lighted upon accidently at Baldock, Hertfordshire--again
in a chamber above the porch, which had been closed for many years. The
available space was nearly choked up with armour and helmets, as well as
with pikes and other weapons. Although the local historian considers
that the chamber was merely the lumber room for arms removed from tombs,
Dr Cox, with more reason, perhaps, considers that the relics were
representative of the old store of the town’s armour.

Quite recently, in the early part of the year 1910, a discovery of
great corroborative value was made at Mendlesham church, in Suffolk.
Over the South porch of the church is a remarkable room, locally known
as the “Priest’s Chamber.” The ceiling and walls are lined with oak
planks, the windows are strongly barred, and the iron-plated doors are
fitted with “log locks.” Hidden within this chamber was found a fine
collection of parish armour, consisting, in all, of twenty-three “lots.”
The hoard contained several rare specimens, such as the “gusset” of a
breast-plate, two pairs of arm defences, and an early pauldron, or
shoulder-guard. Mr Seymour Lucas, who inspected the armour, stated that
the earliest portions belonged to the closing years of the fifteenth
century. There can be little doubt that here, at any rate, we have a
genuine instance of the storage of armour in churches, and that these
decaying relics belonged to the fighting men of Mendlesham[382].

There are numerous scraps of evidence which tend incidentally to support
the theory. We may look for some of these when we come to discuss the
churchyard yew (Chap. IX.). More directly bearing on the point, however,
is the former existence of societies, in close connection with the
church, known by such names as “Robin Hood guilds[383].” These clubs
appear to have been occasionally formed to promote skill in archery,
though, in some instances, they may have consisted of mummers and morris
dancers (cf. p. 184 _infra_). Nevertheless, in the case of the Abbots
Bromley horn dancers, shortly to be noticed, it is the cross-bow man,
not the “hobby horse,” who is called Robin Hood.

It would be a great exaggeration to say that the church was the only
place which was likely to be used as an armoury. Here and there, tithe
barns and “church houses” would be available as storehouses. The
squire’s mansion or the constable’s farmhouse--for that official would
usually be a yeoman--were possible repositories. But the church was,
after all, the centre of parish life, so that any reasons against the
storage of weapons in the sacred building would be of a practical, not a
religious kind.

There is a curious passage in a treatise written by the old Swedish
historian, Olaus Magnus, titular Archbishop of Upsala, which deals with
a side-question relating to our subject. Writing in A.D. 1555, under the
section entitled “_De secura positione armorum in atrio Ecclesiae_,” and
alluding to Northern nations generally, he says, “_Templa, seu Ecclesias
parochiales ingressuri ruricolae Septentrionis, ante valvas, sive in
atrio absque ulla furti suspicione praedicta arma donec divina
absolvuntur, praecipue tempore pacis deponunt, rursusque ad propria
reversuri resumunt_[384].” We may translate this as follows: Before the
countryfolk of the North enter the temples or parish churches, they
place the aforesaid arms in front of the door or in the porch, with no
suspicion of theft, until the service is finished, especially during
times of peace, and take them up again when about to return to their own
affairs. Of what did the “aforesaid” arms consist, and what was the
motive of bringing them to church at all? These questions are explicitly
answered by the writer. When these Northern folk came from remote
villages to be present at baptisms, they were allowed to bring three
kinds of weapons, the bow, the sword, and the axe, and nothing besides
(_praeter ballistam, gladium, et securim_). It was foreseen, and
admitted, that the wayfarers would need a sword and a bow to keep wolves
at bay and to defend themselves against robbers, while an axe would be
necessary to lop off branches of trees which were obstacles in the way,
or to repair bridges which had broken down[385]. Clearly, then, we have
here a limitation of privileges. The old volume has a quaint
illustration of arms piled up under an arch or in a vault. Why were the
arms restricted in kind and number? Without doubt, to prevent brawling
and quarrelling within the precincts of the church. However, storage in
the church was allowed, and to this extent we have a profitable analogy.
The only difference was that, according to English usage, the weapons
were stowed away for a time more or less indefinite. In the Northern
solitudes permanent storage in the church may have been both
inconvenient and dangerous. The inhabitants were probably unruly and
undisciplined. The great point of likeness between the British and
Scandinavian cases lies in the tacit acknowledgement that arms did not
defile a church.

It is not easy, indeed, to imagine why the history of customs should be
different from that just presented. If we look at the factors aright, we
find ourselves witnesses of the supremacy of the doctrine of social
convenience. The priesthood, at times, no doubt, rebelled against the
grosser intrusions of the laity, but for the most part there was
acquiescence, if not partnership, in what would now be called sacrilege,
or at least improper use of the church. The needs of the community
over-rode all theoretical scruples. Did the villager wish to tell the
hour of the day? Then the church-dial met his needs. From the earliest
times, sundials were probably attached to churches. A portion of such a
dial, bearing a Runic inscription, and belonging to a date somewhere
between A.D. 1063 and 1065, was unearthed at Skelton churchyard, in
Cleveland[386]. The well-known dial at Kirkdale church, Yorkshire,
belongs to a slightly earlier period. Pre-Conquest mural dials, or at
least, dial-stones, exist at Warnford, and Corhampton, in Hampshire,
Stoke D’Abernon, in Surrey, Bishopstone, in Sussex (Figs. 38, 39), and
other places. When the dial was gradually being superseded by clocks,
these were set up in the church tower. The new timekeepers long remained
scarce, but even when they had come to be generally used by private
persons, the public clock held its own. The weathercock, too, was found
to be of great utility, and was rarely lacking on tower or spire. As
with the vane, so with the cresset, or fire-pan, in which tar or tow was
burnt to guide the traveller, or to arouse the countryside. The old iron
cresset on Monken Hadley tower, in Middlesex, which directed the lonely
wayfarer across Enfield Chase, may still be seen. Another cresset,


     FIG. 38. Pre-conquest dial-stone, Bishopstone church, Sussex. The
     porch, as a whole, is believed to be of Saxon date; it contains a
     little long-and-short work. The chevron ornament, under the
     pediment, is evidently the later work of Norman artificers (c. A.D.
     1120). An enlargement of the dial is given in Fig. 39.

above an angle of the chancel at Alnwick, in Northumberland, was
employed to signal an alarm[387]. The branks, or scold’s bridles,
barbarous relics of an earlier time, of which some thirteen are still
believed to exist in Cheshire alone, seem to have been
occasionally stored in churches. At least, the famous specimen at
Walton-on-the-Thames, Surrey, is to be found in the vestry of the
church. In several churches one may notice the old manual fire-engine
placed under the church tower, and we may feel sure that its valuable
aid was not confined to fires which broke out in the church. In short,
we can scarcely limit the possible conveniences which were centred
around the church fabric. Chained books and libraries, which were
particularly numerous; records of charitable bequests; the registers
with their details of the lives of individual villagers; the churchyard
monumental records; nay, the reputation of the curative simples of the
very walls--pellitory, whitlow grass, and spleenwort; who shall tell of
all these? There is no doubt that decorative or symbolical
considerations were often uppermost in the minds of later designers. The
gilded weathercock was given a religious significance, though its origin
may have been pagan; the dial bore an appropriate motto. But no ulterior
purpose, either artistic or symbolical, is connected with the village
stocks or the pillory. These instruments were severely practical.


     FIG. 39. Bishopstone dial, enlarged. The five principal Day Hours,
     6, 9, 12, 3, 6 o’clock, are shown by slightly prolonged lines with
     cruciform terminations. The first and last radii are drawn at a
     slight angle with the diameter. The upper semicircle contains a
     cross, and is surrounded with an ornamental border, usually
     described, and figured, as a fret; close examination seems to show
     that it is billet work in low relief. It is not known to whom the
     name Eadric refers: he was probably an ecclesiastic.

Seeing that courts were formerly held in the church, it must have been
expedient to have the stocks fixed near the place of trial, so that
prisoners might quickly be placed where village life was busiest. One
cannot go so far as to assert, with some writers, that the churchyard
was the usual situation for these instruments. If the statement were
amended so as to read, “in or near the churchyard,” it would command
assent. In the majority of instances, the stocks which remain seem to be
in the village street, or on the village green, though generally not a
stone’s throw from the church. At Brading, Isle of Wight, they are
housed in a building near the entrance to the churchyard. At Hessle and
Kirk Ella, in Yorkshire, and at South Harting, in Sussex, they are
placed by the church gate; in the Surrey villages of Alfold and
Shalford, as well as at Brent Pelham, in Hertford[388], they occupy a
like position. The weather-worn stocks of Shalford are shown in Fig. 40.
The specimen at Kilham, Yorkshire, stands against the churchyard wall;
while about 100 yards away, the old bull-ring may be seen[389].
Haveringatte-Bower, in Essex, has its stocks set up by the side of the
green under an immense hollow elm, opposite to a whipping-post. In the
following places the stocks are also adjacent to the churchyard:
Abinger, Surrey (on the green); Walton-on-the-Hill, near Liverpool[390];
Waltham Abbey, Essex[391]; Weston-under-Redcastle, Salop[392]; and,
formerly, Prestbury, Gloucestershire[393]. Within the churchyard itself
we have examples at Burnsall, Yorkshire; Mottistone, Isle of Wight; and
Crowle, in Lincolnshire. The stocks at Mottistone are very dilapidated;
those at Crowle have been used within living memory[394]. Formerly
stocks were kept in the Minster Yard at York, and there was a movable
pair in the yard at Beverley Minster[395]. Lastly, to conclude this
fragmentary list, we notice the stocks of Northorpe, Lincolnshire, which
were kept in the church tower[396].

[Illustration: FIG. 40. Remains of stocks, outside Shalford churchyard,

Most of the stocks which remain are perhaps not remarkably ancient. The
institution, however, has a long history. Stocks are referred to in a
priory charter, dated A.D. 1324, under the name of _cippi_. In the
statute 25 Edward III. 1350, they appear as _coppes_; while by 7 Henry
VI., c. 17, every village or town is to provide itself with a pair of
stocks[397]. We can easily picture for ourselves the Mediaeval village
with its institutions massed together as closely as possible around a
central spot. Castle, church, court-house, tithe-barn, playing green and
archery ground; the cross and the yew; the stocks and pillory; the pound
and the maypole, were complementary to the usual group of farmsteads and
cottages, and helped to relieve a landscape which in the pre-enclosure
period was often quiet and bare. We may see baron and priest,
representing the civil and the ecclesiastical powers, sitting side by
side, to arrange feudal services, tolls, and holidays, to allocate
tithes and settle disputes, to assess fines and declare sentences; while
ever at hand waited the instruments of punishment.

Here we may make reference to a very curious relic of the old courts.
Chained to the wall of the vestry in Wateringbury church, in Kent, is an
official mace known locally as the “Dumb borsholder” (_pr._ buzzelder)
of Chart. This wooden staff, which is a little over three feet in
length, is surmounted by an iron ring, while the lower end is tipped
with a square iron spike. At the annual court leet, the head man of the
tithing of Pizein Well, in the manor of Chart, appeared before the
meeting bearing this staff. Thus armed, and provided with the necessary
warrant, he might search for goods unlawfully concealed. The tradition
runs that he was empowered to break in, by means of the iron spike, the
doors of those who resisted his authority. The Wateringbury mace, which
is probably the symbolical successor of the more warlike clubs employed
in the old Saxon moots, was in use down to A.D. 1748[398].

In speaking of the so-called parvise, it was incidentally stated that
documents were sometimes preserved in that chamber. The storage of deeds
and documents in churches has a history both ancient and continuous.
The scope of the underlying principle is much wider than the needs of
any particular social or political system, whether the framework of that
system be manorial or extra-manorial. From the foundation of the
Christian church in Britain the priest seems to have been a kind of
banker, just as, in an informal manner, he was the village notary. An
attenuated survival of the old order of things is seen in the rubric
appended to “The Order for the Visitation of the Sick,” in our modern
Prayer Book. The minister is told to admonish the sick man to make his
will. More than this: men are often to be “put in remembrance” to settle
all such business “whilst they are in health.” On the fly-leaves of the
ancient altar-books were written various kinds of memoranda referring to
sales and other transactions. An appeal to an entry in a “Christ’s
Book,” or a “Gospel Book,” as representing a genuine legal record, was
considered decisive[399]. Again, the manumission of slaves, an act of a
semi-legal character, was probably performed at the altar, and an entry
of the proceedings was made in the “church-book[400].” Of the
preservation of Court Rolls in churches, we have numerous instances,
ranging from the time of Canute onwards. The latest record at hand is
that of the Manor of Howden, Yorkshire, the rolls of which were retained
in the parish church so recently as A.D. 1809[401].

There can be little doubt that some of the old oaken church chests
(Figs. 41, 42, 50) strongly clamped with iron, each furnished with an
exceedingly elaborate, though clumsy, arrangement of locks, were
utilized for keeping, not only the church books, registers, and
vestments, but many of the parchments and manuscripts of which we are
speaking. It is asserted that the ordinary parish church possessed two
or three chests; where one alone has been preserved to hold the
registers and other documents, it is usually the least attractive and
valuable. The specimen from Llanelian in Denbigh (Fig. 41) is hewn from
a single block of wood. The chest from Rainham in Essex (Fig. 42) is


     FIG. 41. Church chest, Llanelian, Denbigh. Hewn from a single block
     of timber. The dog-tongs, seen on the left, are made on the
     principle of the compound lever. Initials, and the date, 1748, are
     cut in the bars of the tongs.

[Illustration: FIG. 42. Church chest, Rainham, Essex. Date: second half
of the fourteenth century. The carving belongs to the early
Perpendicular period.]

handsomely carved with ornament of the Perpendicular period. It was not
the provision of locks and bolts alone which gave security: stronger far
was the acknowledged repute of the building itself, and the dread of the
consequences of sacrilege. Behind the high altar of St Paul’s Cathedral
there was formerly such a chest, in which deeds were protected[402].
Some of the remaining church coffers are skilfully carved and afford
good examples of the decorative art of the architectural period to which
they belong[403]. The subject merits separate examination, but the most
that can be done here is to remind the reader of the broad outlines. The
fact that wills were commonly deposited for safety in ecclesiastical
buildings, is too well known to require emphasis. The huge collections
of wills in the cathedrals of Gloucester and York, for example, at once
spring to memory. We may also recall the right of sanctuary, which was
vested in the church and the churchyard. Again, the Synod of
Westminster, A.D. 1142, granted certain immunities, probably freedom
from seizure for debt, to ploughs and other agricultural implements
placed in the churchyard. All these details agree well with the theories
of social convenience and unwritten religious compact.

We commenced our survey by inspecting the towers of certain churches,
and afterwards, it will be remembered, we began to discuss the secular
uses of the nave. This has led us to examine some historical facts
connected with the church porch, which, ecclesiastically, as well as
architecturally, is an integral part of the building. Indeed, it was
this very inability to separate the porch from the fabric as a whole
which compelled us to linger by the way. We must now retrace our steps
in order to garner some further details respecting the nave, and to
substantiate the assertion that the body of the church was not devoted
to worship alone. One cardinal fact to be borne in mind is, that the
nave was essentially the property of the parishioners, who were liable
for its repair, in the same way that the rector was responsible for the
upkeep of the chancel. This proposition is well attested by the canons
of the church, and by all ecclesiastical writers of repute. Partly as a
consequence of this separation of interests, and partly in deference to
the accepted ethics of both the pre-Norman and post-Norman periods, the
nave was allowed to be put to a variety of uses. In the words of
Jeaffreson, “The Mediaeval nave, by turns, or simultaneously,


     FIG. 43. Fourteenth century barn, Barton Farm, Bradford-on-Avon,
     Wiltshire. From the South-West. The barn exhibits numerous Gothic
     features of the period; angle buttresses, transept-like porches,
     gable crosses, &c. The windows, of which those at the ends are
     cruciform, are narrow slits, with wide splays internally. The
     Glastonbury barn is one of the finest in the country; the parochial
     tithe-barn was a much smaller building.

was a public-hall, a theatre, a warehouse, a market, a court of justice,
and a place of worship; but the chancel was rigidly reserved for the
mysteries and sublime offices of priestly service[404].” Already we have
glanced at the judicial and legislative aspects of the question; we may
now consider the remaining features. Serving the purpose of a warehouse,
the thirteenth century church was sometimes used for the storage
of corn and wool, a small fee being paid to the clergy for the
accommodation[405]. The practice may not have been usual, but it does
not seem to have been rare. For the reception of the grain and fodder
which was paid to the church in kind, there was, as we know, the
spacious tithe-barn (Figs. 43, 44). But other persons besides


     FIG. 44. Interior of barn, Bradford-on-Avon. The windows, which,
     viewed from the outside (Fig. 43), were narrow slits, are here seen
     to have a wide internal splay. The timber roof is remarkably fine.
     Internal measurements 85 ft × 25¾ ft.

abbot or priest were often anxious to store goods temporarily--perhaps
against the time of the village fair or feast--and hence the nave of the
church became, for the time, a granary or barn. Bread was stored in
churches so recently as A.D. 1665[406]. The English village possessed
few buildings, other than the church, which were both capacious and
weather-proof. Previous to the Reformation, it must be observed, fixed
pews were not often found in churches; at the most, the worshippers were
supplied only with movable benches. These benches could be cleared away
in times of emergency, and the nave was thus admirably fitted to receive
merchandise, such as sacks of wheat, wool-packs, and boxes of treasure.
Comparatively large quantities of produce could be packed in the space
thus set free.

The evidence that the nave was extensively used as a market-hall is not
abundant. In view of the repeated attempts to enforce the Scriptural
principle respecting the House of Prayer, we have some difficulty in
distinguishing between what was considered lawful and what profane.
Manifestly, it would have puzzled the bishop or priest to justify the
use of the nave as a mart or bazaar, save on special or urgent
occasions. Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln (d. A.D. 1253), expressly
forbade markets to be held in sacred places (_ne in locis sacris
habeantur mercata_)[407]. Frequently, the habit, after having been
denounced, crept in again unawares. In one village, pleading necessity
or stress of weather, and, in another, advancing no plea whatever,
hucksters coming to the parish wake or the annual fair would boldly set
up their stalls for the sale of victuals within the church[408]. And
what was done without let or hindrance in the village was contrived
craftily in the city. In old St Paul’s, and other cathedrals, stands
were erected for special occasions, and were afterwards allowed to
remain as centres of bargaining[409]. When driven out of the nave, the
dealers could still find a harbour in the porch. The York Fabric Rolls
record the fact that pedlars sold their wares in the porch of Riccal
church (A.D. 1510)[410]. Even the Reformation did not bring these
customs to an end. Barnabe Googe’s _Popish Kingdome_ (1570)--a
translation, or adaptation, of the Latin work of Thomas Naogeorgus
(Kirchmayer), contains, among other complaints, a bitter lament over the
sale of “carpes and pykes and mullets fat,” in the church on St Ulrick’s
Day (July 4th). Both Googe and Naogeorgus wrote as strong Protestants,
hence there is a possibility that their pictures are too highly
coloured. But it is more likely that they branded as irreligious what
was an acknowledged custom. Whether they exaggerated the evil or not,
their statements are supported by another Protestant, William Harrison,
who wrote only a few years later (A.D. 1577). Harrison’s doleful story
runs thus: “But as the number of churches increased, so the repair of
the faithful unto the cathedrals did diminish, whereby they now become,
especially in their nether parts, rather markets and shops for
merchandise than solemn places of prayer, whereunto they were first
erected[411].” In Norwich, he tells us, the church was turned into a
barn, while the people, himself among them, heard service further off,
on a green. There, a bell was suspended from an oak, for want of a
steeple. “But now,” says he, “I understand that the oke likewise is
gone[412].” Like Googe, Harrison was such a strenuous Reformer, that he
ignored the antiquity of some of the customs which he condemned. Had he
been able to take a detached view, he would have seen that the excesses
which he witnessed had not sprung up in his day, but that they were
extravagances arising from the abuse of a once recognized practice. The
Mediaeval citizen, who sauntered into the church to cross himself and to
utter a momentary prayer, might often be tempted to stay a full hour to
converse with his fellows. The church was a hall for social intercourse,
a comfortable shelter for the poor. It was a museum of sculpture and
painting, an academy of music. But, running through all these
arrangements, there was a current of salutary religious influence. To
judge the Mediaeval condition of affairs by the standard of the
eighteenth, or the early nineteenth century, as one might be hastily led
to do, would be a grievous error. The broken windows, once “richly
dight,” the defaced carvings, the bare, whitewashed walls and the
concealed fresco, the demolished rood-loft, the font out of position,
the memorial brass at the back of the kitchen fireplace, the registers
torn up by the village shopkeeper--these are features which do not
belong to the period when the nave, perchance, was used as a storehouse
and a market. Such treatment was left to a generation of which
eye-witnesses can still speak. We must discriminate between the
theoretical principle that all secular matters are bound up in religion,
and the lukewarmness which engenders sheer indifference to desecration.
If we learn to make this distinction, we shall put a different
construction on such queer survivals as the distribution of doles and
charities in church, or the scrambling for loaves in the churchyard.
They are not acts of wanton irreverence; commendable or not, they are
genuine relics of the older legitimate tradition.

From the sale of commodities in the nave we pass to the question of
guilds and festivals. The English guilds, which once played an important
part in Church history, largely owed their origin, if Dr F. A. Gasquet
be correct, to the revival of the religious spirit after the desolating
effects of the Black Death in A.D. 1348 and 1349. It will be remembered
that the bells of Newcastle summoned the members of the local guild to
church three times annually (p. 131 _supra_). These guilds or
brotherhoods were in the habit of holding feasts and banquets. For
example, the churchwardens’ accounts for the village of Chagford, Devon
(A.D. 1550-99), show that a society known as the “Young Men’s Wardens”
were responsible for getting up the “Church-ales.” These “Ales” we shall
describe in a moment. At South Tawton, in the same county, the “St
George’s Wardens” undertook the duty[413]. Frequently, the
entertainments would be provided in the parsonage-house (Figs. 45, 46),
or the church-house


     FIG. 45. Priests’, or Clergy house, Alfriston, Sussex. Fourteenth
     century. It consists of a central hall (23 ft × 17 ft), at each end
     of which are two rooms, one above the other. The framework of the
     house is of oak, the intervening spaces being filled with wattle
     and daub. The hall has an open-timbered roof, with king-posts and
     cambered tie beams. It contains a hooded fireplace. There are
     several original windows. (See _Vict. Hist. of Sussex_, II. p.
     384.) The old elm tree, partly visible on the right, is of unusual
     size for the species, having a girth of 24 feet at a height of 3
     feet from the ground.

(Fig. 47), the latter of which was sometimes actually called a
guild-hall[414]. The church-house was essentially a parish room, built
and maintained by the community, under the direction of the
churchwardens. It was built in the architectural style of the period.
Unlike the parsonage-house, it was not a place of residence for the
clergy. Brand has shown that barns were also used--presumably the large
tithe-barns, where these existed. There is reason to believe, however,
that the church itself was sometimes the guest-house on these occasions.
Certainly this was often the case with the “Ales” proper, to which we
must now very briefly allude. The Church-ale, or


     FIG. 46. Clergy, or Parsonage house, West Dean, Sussex (c. A.D.
     1280). View from North end. The building, which is of stone,
     consists of a hall (30 ft × 15 ft internal measurement), with a
     story above. The walls are 2 ft 6 in. in thickness. The solar, or
     loft, is approached by a stone newel staircase, built in the
     buttress-like projection, which is seen at the North-East angle.
     The chimney is elaborately constructed. In the east wall a
     double-lighted window, with trefoiled heads, is visible. (For
     fuller description, see _Vict. Hist. of Sussex_, II. p. 383; A.
     Hussey, _Churches of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey_, 1852, p. 219;
     _Sussex Archaeol. Coll._ III. pp. 13-22.)

Whitsun-ale, was a kind of parochial festivity in which the
churchwardens usually, though, as just noticed, not always, took the
initiative. Subscriptions were invited, and, with the money obtained,
large quantities of malt were bought. Contributions in kind, such as
eggs and meat, were also accepted. The malt was brewed, and the liquor
broached, either in the church-house,


     FIG. 47. Church House, or St Mary’s Guild Hall, popularly known as
     John of Gaunt’s Stables, Lincoln. 12th century. Principal front,
     showing the Transitional Norman entrance doorway, with tooth
     ornament in a shallow moulding. Above is a rich cornice of
     sculptured foliage. The buttresses are flat, and there is a Norman
     loop in the lower story. Within is an ancient fireplace. The roof
     is modern.

or as Philip Stubbs (or Stubbes), the Puritan, asserts, in the sacred
building itself[415]. The church-house was doubtless a familiar
institution in Elizabethan England. Examples are on record where the
leases of such houses expressly stipulate that they should be available
for making “Quarter ales” or Church-ales. Such buildings contained all
the spits, crocks, and utensils necessary for preparing the
banquet[416]. In the tower of Frensham church, Surrey, there is
preserved a large cauldron of beaten copper, locally known as “Mother
Ludlam’s Kettle.” This vessel has doubtless played its part in many a
parish feast.

Though the church-house, or, alternatively, the tithe-barn, was, after
the Reformation, generally the scene of the revels, custom was not
uniform, as frequent injunctions against the holding of drinking-parties
and banquets within the church sufficiently testify. The transition from
church to church-house was made, it would appear, in deference to
Puritan opinion, but the populace was somewhat tenacious of the old
habit. One great objection to the Church-ales lay in the rude and
boisterous sports with which they were associated. However slight might
be the murmur against quoits, bowls, or shooting at the butts, it is
plain that the baiting of bulls, bears, or badgers, the loud, and
possibly lewd folk-songs, the noisy dancing parties, would pass the
bounds of decency and decorum, and cry out for suppression. The feast
lasted a day or two, and occasionally longer. The profits of the
merrymaking formed a kind of voluntary church-rate, and were devoted to
church-restoration, or the purchase of service books and vessels. It has
been pertinently suggested that some of the grotesque corbel heads, so
frequently found in churches, may mark the restorations which were made
out of the profits of Church-ales. Nothing but a village feast, it is
supposed, could have furnished the sculptor with models to enable him to
represent so well gluttony and drunkenness. The theory is rather harsh,
but it may contain a measure of truth.

There were other Ales besides the one just described. The Bid-ale was a
co-operative banquet, devised to aid some unfortunate or impoverished
parishioner. The Clerk-ale was intended to provide, or to increase, the
salary of the parish clerk. There were also Lamb-ales, Bride-ales,
Scot-ales, and others. In fact, occasions seem actually to have been
sought for holding these holy-ales, which were of a nature at once
social and benevolent[417]. Needless to say, there were two sides to
this, as to every question. Regrettable, even disgraceful, though the
proceedings might oftentimes become, we are yet compelled to consider
the original and normal conditions. The relief of the poor has been
mentioned. Tyack states that, in the year 1651, so many as seventy-two
parish priests of Somersetshire certified that not only were the
congregations larger during a Church-ale--not a surprising fact--but
that “the service of God was more solemnly performed[418].” If such
opinions were held generally--and, so far as they were held at all by
the clergy, they would be reciprocated by laymen--one cannot marvel at
the action of the villagers of Clungunford, Shropshire, who in 1637
complained to Archbishop Laud about the discontinuance of the Easter
feast. For centuries the poor and aged folk had been regaled with bread,
cheese, and beer, after evensong on Easter Sunday. Fifty years previous
to the presentation of the petition, in accordance with the wishes of
the ruling Archbishop, the feast had been transferred from the church to
the parsonage; but now it was abandoned altogether. Laud’s decision ran
thus: “I shall not go about to break this custom so it be done in the
parsonage house, in a neighbourly and decent way.” Similar cases might
be brought forward to show that the tradition of feasting in church died

We leave the tempting subject of church-ales, and, still considering the
motives which led to the provision of such ample space within the sacred
walls, we must take a glimpse of church-plays. The connection between
the church and the drama has been partially dealt with by numerous
writers, and exhaustively by Mr E. K. Chambers, in his _Mediaeval
Stage_. On the character of the church plays we cannot dwell at length,
nor is this necessary, for the subject has interested most antiquaries,
and descriptions are to be found in many treatises. A brief enumeration,
however, is desirable. There was the Passion Play at Easter, when a
solemn representation of the burial and Resurrection of the Saviour was
enacted at the altar, or beneath a specially constructed “sepulchre.”
There was the Nativity play at Christmas, when clergy, choristers, and
other folk, represented the scenes connected with the manger-birth[420].
But the best known performances were the Miracle Plays. At first, these
were acted within the church walls, but, at a later date, the players
were driven into the church-yard. The popularity of these plays became
so great that the church could not accommodate the audience, and this
consideration, rather than clerical disfavour, probably turned the
scale. Indeed, when the drama had passed out of the hands of the clergy
and choir, and had become appropriated by trade guilds or strolling
players, when, too--it must be said--the plays had become tinged with
ribaldry and profanity, the authorities seemed to have regretted the
expulsion. Within the church, a certain degree of oversight was always
exercised; on the village green, the censorship was lax and
intermittent. Occasionally, as Dr J. C. Cox asserts, the wandering
troops were still allowed to use the churches[421]. An attempt was made
to recover lost ground, and miracle plays were declared sinful if played
on the roads or greens[422]. We must shortly return to this phase of the
question, but meanwhile let us recapitulate Mr Chambers’s theory of the
development of the religious drama.

Mr Chambers, after tracing the steady evolution of religious plays,
concludes that the Church gradually came to make the appeal to the
mimetic instinct in mankind by means of the introduction of dramatic
elements into its liturgy[423]. From the fourth century, at least, the
Mass was the central object of ritual, and it was from this service,
little by little, that the dramatic dialogues and representations were
derived and elaborated. Originally a mere symbol of a commemorative
kind, the Mass became a repetition of the initial sacrifice, invested
with a dramatic character[424]. Thus the ritual play proper was evolved,
and out of this, in later times, sprang the familiar miracle play[425].

We may infer, then, that there was a valid reason why the religious
plays should be performed in hallowed buildings. The question arises,
whether this was the usual practice, or an exceptional liberty. No less
an authority than Canon Jessopp, that tireless and conscientious
elucidator of ancient documents, is of opinion that the use of churches
for setting forth miracle plays was rare. He cites an instance where
twenty-seven parishes contributed to the expenses of one of these
spectacles. From this circumstance, he concludes that there must have
been a “monster performance,” and that the onlookers could not well have
been sheltered within the church[426]. Perhaps the case brought forward
itself represents the exception, or, at any rate, belongs to the era
when plays had been driven out into the churchyard. And it is extremely
probable, I think, that some of the old tithe-barns (Figs. 43, 44, pp.
171-2 _supra_), when almost, or quite empty, would be very serviceable
as theatres. Against the verdict of Canon Jessopp--a verdict which
cannot be airily dismissed--we have to set undeniable facts. Mr Chambers
affirms that for a long time the church proved sufficient for the
accommodation of the folk who came to watch the plays. The performances
spread, perhaps by degrees, from the choir to the nave. “The _domus_,
_loca_, or _sedes_ [were] set at intervals against the pillars while the
people crowded to watch in the side aisles.” It was during the twelfth
century that the players first sought ampler room outside the
church[427]. The ousting of the performance was a gradual process.
Perhaps it would be more correct to say that the liturgical play was
slow in severing its intimate connection with the church. From the
churchyard it passed to the church gate, and thence to the market-place,
or to some croft or field. While all these changes were being made, the
village fair, as a popular institution, was becoming well established,
and the outdoor play was heartily welcomed by the holiday-makers[428].

The evidence produced by Mr Chambers shows, therefore, that convenience,
and not clerical censure, was the prime cause at work in removing the
players from the churches. The demand for ejection was afterwards
reinforced by the Reformers, but by that time the result was being
otherwise brought about. It now becomes still more intelligible why
plays on the green were, at one period, actually denounced. The natural
home of the play was the church, and in the church it lingered. “Quite
apart from the survival of ritual plays proper, the miracle play, even
at the moment of its extinction, had not always and everywhere been
excluded from the church itself[429].” Mr Chambers gives numerous
examples, and avers that the last of all the village plays--he is
evidently referring to annual institutions--that of Hascombe, Surrey, in
1539, “was at, but perhaps not in, the church[430].” A few years later,
Bonner forbade the presentation of plays either in the church or
churchyard[431]. This edict does not seem to have been fully obeyed, for
Dr J. C. Cox declares that both in pre-Reformation and post-Reformation
times the authorities occasionally suffered secular country dramas and
rude historic scenes to be represented in the nave of the church[432].
Nor is this all; in the sixteenth century Bishop John Bale endeavoured
to counteract the miracle plays by Protestant dramas, conceived in much
the same style as the genuine works (A.D. 1538, etc.). The unintentional
hardihood of some of Bale’s impersonations is said to have bordered on
blasphemy. This is one view of the matter; allowance must be made for an
important fact, noted by Mr A. W. Pollard, namely, that Bale wrote as an
antiquary, not as a controversialist[433].

Lest anyone should demur to this narrative of the miracle

[Illustration: FIG. 48. Morris dancers, from 14th century MS. in the
Bodleian Library (Strutt).]

play, a glance at certain customs, either pagan or semi-pagan in their
origin, may help to dispel all suspicion of unfairness. The old
morris-dances (Fig. 48), which were associated with the church, were
occasionally, as at Whitsuntide, performed within the nave. The wardens
were not infrequently entrusted with the “properties” necessary for the
performance of the dances. The earlier churchwardens’ accounts contain
abundant references to the costumes of the dancers and mummers. The
accounts of St Mary’s, Reading, contain entries of this kind so late as
A.D. 1556-7[434]. We may perhaps find the immediate exemplars of some of
these dances in the fandango of the Moors, especially if, as
philologists tell us, the word “morris” is connected with the name of
this race[435]. The ultimate origin of the custom, however, lies
deeper, and goes back to the turn-over from heathenism. Some of the
dances are as essentially British as any legacies which antiquity has
bequeathed to us. One example, known as “Bean-setting,” is conjectured
to be derived from a primitive ceremonial dance which was once performed
in the springtime, when the crops were sown. In fact, dancing, and the
revels with which it was accompanied, gave great trouble to the Early
Fathers, who had much difficulty in safeguarding the precincts of the
church from such intrusions[436]. So recently as the seventeenth
century, a writer quoted by Mr Chambers could assert that, in his
lifetime, he had seen clergy and singing boys dancing at Easter in the
churches of Paris. Here, surely, was a vestige of paganism. And,
although one cannot produce apposite parallels from Britain, there are
astounding modern survivals of this kind reported from Continental
churches, for example, at Seville, and at Echternach, in
Luxembourg[437]. The Whit-Tuesday dancing procession at Echternach still
takes place annually and attracts a huge crowd of pilgrims. The dancing
is a kind of rhythmical leap, and is performed on the way from the Abbey
church to the grave of St Willibrord, and then back again. Dancing in
churches at Christmas--a different matter from dancing at Easter--was
not unknown in England itself in the seventeenth century. John Aubrey
says that, in his day, Yorkshire folk danced in the churches at
Christmas-tide, singing or crying, “Yole, Yole, Yole[438]!” Philip
Stubbes, in 1583, had denounced bitterly the “Devil’s dances” in church.
Mention should not be omitted also of the horn dancers of Abbots
Bromley, Staffordshire, whose reindeer antlers, dresses, and other
properties are preserved in the parish church. There are records of
horn-dancing from other places, but the Abbots Bromley performance,
which is still continued annually, is most instructive, because it was
carefully investigated by Dr J. C. Cox about a dozen years ago. Dr Cox
then found persons living who could recollect the accompanying music
being played in the church porch, while the dancers executed their steps
in the churchyard. Moreover, this authority credits the tradition that,
in former times, the dance, which was a preliminary to making the round
of the parish, was performed in the church[439].

Having considered the use of the nave for purposes of trade and
amusement, we must now notice what really seems to have been an unusual
occurrence--the confinement of animals within the church. The custom was
uncommon, because it never seems to have been actually sanctioned. And
little wonder; decency alone demanded some limitation of such ignoble
uses. In permitting the building to be employed for secular purposes,
there was always a danger of licence, yet it must be said that notorious
laxity seems to have usually brought a reprimand. But the practice
alluded to, like a troublesome weed, refused to be extirpated. Von
Hefele relates that, at the Quinsext, or Trullan Synod, held in the
Imperial Palace at Constantinople in A.D. 692, the following decree was
passed: “No cattle may be driven into the church, except in the greatest
need, if a stranger has no shelter and his animals would otherwise
perish[440].” One wonders whether a certain Essex vicar, who, in A.D.
1550, was reported for allowing sheep to be folded in the church, had
ever heard of this decree. At all events, he pleaded that his action was
taken “for grete and extreme necessitie sake, and not in anie contempt.”
He was able to prove that there had been a heavy and unexpected fall of
snow, and that the animals were placed in the church to save their
lives. After the storm had abated, the sheep had been removed, and the
church cleaned. The offender did not altogether escape punishment, even
after this plea, for he was ordered to do penance and to distribute alms
to the poor of the parish[441]. The vicar might have found a still wider
loophole provided by an injunction belonging to the reign of the English
king Edgar. This injunction not only specifically forbids eating,
drinking, and indecorous behaviour within the church, but bans the
entrance of dogs, or of more pigs than could be kept under control. The
position is most remarkable, though, indeed, the expression used seems
equivocal, “_Neque intra ecclesiae sepem canis aliquis veniat, neque
porcorum plures quam quis regere possit_[442].” If we assume that all
churchyards were actually enclosed at this period, and if we allow the
wider interpretation of “_ecclesiae sepem_,” as meaning the whole
enclosure of church and churchyard, the decree still appears
inferentially to permit a considerable latitude of custom. That, in
periods of general looseness of discipline, animals were allowed to
graze in the churchyard, is well known to most readers. In the same year
that the Essex clergyman was summoned for folding sheep in the church,
complaint was made, concerning a churchyard in the Archdeaconry of
Colchester, that “hogges do wrote up graves, and besse (= cattle) lie in
the porch”; while a parish priest was “sworn to penance” for putting his
horse in the churchyard[443]. But the practice could not be stopped.
Essex had an unenviable reputation in this respect, for Peter Kalm, in
1748, notes that in this county and in the part of Kent around Gravesend
and Rochester, grazing the churchyard was customary. Horses, pigs, and
donkeys, but especially horses, were pastured among the graves. The
churchyard was also kept as a meadow for hay. Let the acts be reprobated
to the uttermost, they could not be entirely brought to an end. During a
tithe dispute between a Derbyshire prior and the parochial clergy, lambs
and wool were placed in a church, and a free fight ensued[444]. This was
before the Reformation, but if we turn to such a work as Mackarness’s
edition of _Prideaux’s Churchwarden’s Guide_ (1895), we find a curious
hesitancy in pronouncing definitely on a somewhat kindred matter. Should
the parson “merely turn a horse or a few sheep into the churchyard to
pasture therein,” the churchwardens may not feel called upon to
interfere. But if he lets loose animals which turn up the soil, and
profane the graves, or if, again, he converts the church-porch into a
stable for his horse, he may rightly be censured[445]. The
mounting-blocks already mentioned (p. 157 _supra_) show that these
maxims must, in former times, have been indifferently followed in some

Throughout the Middle Ages, there was prevalent another custom which is
repugnant to modern ideas. This was the keeping of doves in or near
churches. Most frequently, it is true, a separate structure seems to
have been built to accommodate the birds, as at Garway, Herefordshire.
The Garway dovecot, a fourteenth century building, would house 600
birds. Sometimes, as we have seen at Gumfreston (p. 115 _supra_), a
portion of the tower was utilized as a pigeon loft, while again, as at
Elkstone, Gloucestershire, a chamber was built over the chancel[446].
Incidentally, we may notice that the privilege of building a
columbarium, or culver-house, as it was called, was confined to the lord
of the manor, the rector, the heads of monastic houses, and freeholders.
The existence of a culver-house is usually deemed a sign of Norman
influence. The dovecot of Berwick, Sussex, shown in the illustration
(Fig. 49), is doubtless several centuries old. A few Sussex
culver-houses probably go back to the twelfth or thirteenth century, but
such examples are generally in ruins. The Berwick dovecot can be traced
back at least to the year 1622, when it was rented from the parson for
five pounds a year.

Most persons are familiar with the old box pew, in which the territorial
family used to sit during service. Frequently these apartments--for they
really deserved this name--contained a fireplace. Pre-Reformation
fireplaces are rare in churches, but in the Norbury chapel, or chantry,
at Stoke D’Abernon, Surrey, there is a specimen dating c. A.D. 1490.
During the worst days of the large private pews, which were often
partially screened from the body of the church, a special compartment


     FIG. 49. Ancient dovecot, Berwick Court, Sussex. These buildings
     are usually attached to the territorial-house of the village.
     Sussex has many examples; some are much older than the specimen
     figured, but they are usually not so well preserved. The whole of
     the interior of the Berwick dovecot is fitted up for the birds.
     (See description in _Sussex Archaeol. Coll._ VI. pp. 232-3.)

was sometimes provided for the dogs of the local squire. Examples of
these recesses could be seen at Aveley, Essex, and Northorpe,
Lincolnshire, not much more than a century back[447]. At Northorpe, the
dogs’ pew was just within the chancel arch. Nevertheless, not everyone,
was permitted to take his dog to church. The dog-whipper was a
recognized officer in many churches, and it is common to find, in church
accounts, entries relating to the payment of this functionary[448]. In
some cases the office was endowed, and the salary, though small, was
fixed. His pew was sometimes marked with the words “The dog-whipper.”
The dogs kept out of the building were doubtless those belonging to
farmers and shepherds. Custom was not uniform, but, as a rule, the
minister does not seem to have raised any objection to quiet animals.
Some of the contrivances employed by the dog-whipper, or “dog-noper”
(_noper_, _knauper_ = striker), are peculiar. Generally, the weapon was
a thick stick, to which was attached a stout lash or thong, but in some
churches instruments known as dog-tongs (Fig. 41, p. 169 _supra_) were
used. These weapons were especially necessary when shepherd dogs flew at
each other’s throats. Such fights often led to local disputes, and the
incumbent then felt bound to interfere.

There are records which are more distasteful even than those which tell
of taking dogs to church. When we read of card-playing and cock-fighting
in church, we are really compelled to regard these as acts of wanton
impiety which marked a period of deadness in religion. The records are
certainly sporadic. Again, there is good reason to believe the
tradition, met with at Chislehurst and elsewhere, that parishioners left
the house of prayer and walked across the green to the cockpit. At
Hayes, in Middlesex, it is said that the uncouth and brutal custom of
throwing at cocks in the churchyard was kept up so late as A.D.

It has been a difficult feat to disentangle the secular use of the nave
from that of the churchyard. The reason is simple: the play of social
and administrative forces was rarely quite balanced and continuously
uniform for any considerable length of time. Alternately, the church and
the graveyard were utilized for parochial purposes, as ecclesiastical
power and public opinion rose and fell. In addition, before the final
severance was made, there was a period when assemblies were allowed to
be held in the churchyard, on sufferance only. We have seen that, when
fairs and markets were impending, the clergy sometimes permitted the
church to be used as a warehouse or exchange. Contemporaneously with,
as well as subsequently to, this use of the church, we find the traders
being pushed into the churchyard, and thence to the village green, or a
pasture field.

The village fair was commonly held on the day which was dedicated to the
patron saint of the church. This coincidence often proves helpful to the
investigator, for when the original dedication of a church has been
lost, it may perhaps be recovered by noticing the date of the fair,
which gives the anniversary of the saint[450]. (The saint’s day and the
dedication festival are not now always coincident, but the divergence
may not be a primitive feature.) The agreement of dates doubtless takes
us back to the days when Christianity had not yet become supreme, and
when the leaders took advantage of any casual support, such as would be
obtained by holding the patronal festival on a day devoted to the
affairs of popular assemblies or the pleasures of a general holiday.
Naturally, there long remained a close connection between the feast and
the church fabric which was the centre of much of the activity of the
community. When fairs, in the strict sense, began to be held, the old
date of the feast would still be retained. For many a century, too, no
serious attempt was made to deprive the merry-makers of the right to
meet within the sacred enclosure. Farmers came to buy or sell stock,
labourers stood for hire, merchants arrived from distant towns to trade
in wool or grain, pedlars spread their wares on the tombstones in the
churchyard, while the populace gave itself over to pastime and

Intermittently, murmurs were heard respecting these doings. Thus, in a
presentment (A.D. 1416) from St Michael-le-Belfry, in the city of York,
complaint is made of the tumult and clamour caused by the traders. On
Sundays and holidays there was “a common market of vendibles in the
churchyard.” All kinds of goods were exposed for sale (_diversa res et
bona ac cirpi_ [= rushes] _vendicioni ibidem exponuntur_); while horses
stood over the dead and defiled the graves[451]. Especially when a
cathedral or church possessed some famous shrine or relic, as at
Canterbury, Walsingham, and Glastonbury, pilgrims and traders met on
common ground. For a long time it was customary, at St Audrey’s fair, to
erect booths in Ely Cathedral, for the sale of laces made of thin
silk[452]. Pilgrims from afar would naturally require refreshment at the
end of their journey, and the victuallers of the cities were always
ready to meet the demand. But, unfortunately, to the legitimate buying
and selling of food and drink, was appended the boisterousness of
minstrels, actors, and jugglers[453].

Perhaps the most important legislation against churchyard commerce is
contained in the Statute of Winchester, A.D. 1285 (13 Edw. I., c. 6),
which forbade the holding of fairs and markets in churchyards[454]. The
act, however, proved ineffectual, for, in A.D. 1368, Archbishop Simon
Langham found it necessary to issue a mandate against Sunday markets in
the Isle of Sheppey, where the traders approached so near the church as
to interrupt the celebration of Mass. Later infractions have already
been noticed (p. 174 _supra_), so that the story may be cut short by
citing such cases of survival as those of All Saints, Northampton, and
Laughton-en-le-Morthen, Yorkshire, where, until modern times, fairs were
held in the churchyards[455]. The churchyard at Laughton was of enormous
size, and in this respect, at least, was well adapted for its purpose.

I have suggested that the coincidence of fair day and saint’s day is a
vestige of a very early compromise, when the dedication festival was
substituted for heathen ceremonial. The idea may be pursued in two other
directions. First, we might observe how many fairs, or feasts, are held
at seasons which are known to correspond to pagan festivals, for
example, Whitsuntide and midsummer. It would then be seen to what extent
the dedication periods were in harmony with those of festivals, either
as regards actual coincidence of dates, or preliminary warnings.

Sir Norman Lockyer and the Rev. J. Griffith have called attention to the
large number of fairs which are held on the festival, or quarter days,
of the “May Year.” These writers consider that such fairs are the
representatives of meetings summoned when fires were lighted and
Gorsedds or Gorseddau (see p. 98 _supra_) were erected. The fairs and
the churches together “mark for us the _loci_ of the original
circle-worship, and the fact that we are dealing with the May Year and
_not_ the solstice shows that we have to do with a very high antiquity.”
Our fairs, according to this view, represent “thousands of British
Gorsedds, the pedigrees of which are as unimpeachable as that of the
Welsh institution[456].” To the present writer, this theory seems to go
much beyond the recorded facts, but time and further inquiry may tell.

The second mode of research is to ascertain with what frequency the
village fairs are, or were, kept near ancient monuments or earthworks.
Thus, from time immemorial a sheep fair has been held within the oval
camp on the top of Woodbury Hill, near Bere Regis, in Dorset[457]. Mr
Thomas Hardy has seized upon this fact, and has deftly worked it into
the opening chapter of _Far from the Madding Crowd_. Another earthwork
used in this way is that known as Yarnborough, or Yarnbury Castle, in
the parish of Hanging Langford, Wiltshire[458]. As these words are being
written, one may see bills on the walls in London announcing that
special trains are to be run on the day of the fair.

Further corroboration might be given, if it were desirable. Sometimes it
is a “blue stone,” or a stone pillar, where the concourse of traders
gathered. At North Thoresby, in Lincolnshire, the fair was held near a
“blue stone” in a meadow near the church called Boundcroft--a
significant name.

Intimately connected with the question of fairs held near old
earthworks, are the sports which were associated with such places. And,
in fact, the fairs and the games are two phases of one subject, while
both features, in turn, will illustrate the inability of the early
founders of the Church to eliminate pagan customs.

Hence, though for the moment we may appear to wander from our theme, we
shall soon see that the matter is not extraneous. When we learn, for
instance, that Wiltshire villagers were wont to climb Cley Hill to play
a game with balls and sticks within the British earthwork at the summit,
and when we hear that this took place on Palm Sunday, we express only
mild surprise[459]. When, however, we read of a similar procession of
men and maidens, again occurring on Palm Sunday, to the prehistoric camp
on the top of St Martin’s Hill (or Martinsell), a steep-sided promontory
of the chalk range near Marlborough[460], the subject becomes
interesting. In discussing the churchyard yew in a later chapter we
shall have occasion to recall the Martinsell anniversary (p. 381
_infra_); in the meantime we cast around for other illustrations. A like
ceremony was carried out on Palm Sunday by the villagers of Avebury,
Wiltshire, who mounted the famous Silbury Hill, there to eat fig cakes
and drink sugar and water. The water was procured from the spring below,
known as the Swallow Head. Seeing that Palm Sunday bears elsewhere the
nickname of “Fig Sunday,” and that figs were often eaten at this
festival, ecclesiastical writers have supposed that the custom is
connected with the Gospel story of the cursing of the barren fig tree.
(Figs were not always the fruit eaten; in Wessex and the West of England
“fig” also means a raisin.) To the folk-lorist, however, this item will
be regarded as adventitious--as an accretion which is due to ideas
impressed from without. Were the habit of making these pilgrimages to
early earthworks confined to one or two localities, or to one particular
festival, this superficial explanation might pass unchallenged. But when
we encounter instance after instance, reported from many counties, and
connected with various anniversaries, then, though the ceremony be often
touched with curious little tinges of local colour, we are compelled to
go beyond the accidents, and to seek a common underlying principle.
This, indeed, does not seem discoverable by any purely historical
process. We are driven back to unconscious folk-memory and immemorial
tradition--which rarely endeavour to supply a fully efficient cause--to
the dim period when, though the practice of raising earthworks was not
obsolete, a considerable amount of superstition, and even of ceremonial
observance, was already connected with those old monuments. The period
referred to roughly covers the first five or six centuries of our era.
Behind this transitional stage of superstition lies the prehistoric
period, with its own rites and ceremonies, and its own anniversary

Let us now notice one or two cases of hill customs not connected with
Palm Sunday. I am informed by Mr W. J. Lucas that it was the custom,
forty years ago, for youths and maidens to ascend Chilswell Hill, near
Oxford, every Good Friday, to indulge in rude sports and noisy
merry-making. So coarse was the play that it was not considered proper
for respectable folk to take part in the proceedings. Now one cannot, in
any reasonable way, seek the origin of these games in the solemn rites
connected with the Christian anniversary. Rather must we look to some
ancient spring festival, such as that connected with the Saxon goddess
Eostre. It would appear as if the Church in the early period could not,
and in the later times would not, altogether abolish the custom. A
similar Good Friday procession was formerly made to St Martha’s Hill,
near Guildford, the church of which was described on p. 131 _supra_. The
loud music and the riotous dancing in which the crowd took part were so
indecorous that few were found to lament the discontinuance of the
custom[461]. There are some curious earth-rings situated to the South of
the church, half-hidden by heather, and I have elsewhere suggested that
these represent part of a maze[462], within which the sports were once
held. If this be correct, there is an indication of a half-hearted
attempt on the part of the Church to modify the games, and turn them to
a penitential purpose. Some writers have thought that the morris-dancers
made use of such circles for their performances. Here, too, we may have
a link which binds these outdoor customs to the practice of dancing in

We now see that the apparent digression respecting fairs was not
altogether irrelevant. There is a thread running through the whole
story. First, we have the practice of making earthworks, which continued
in the Early Iron Age, almost to the dawn of documentary history. Within
the ramparts, assemblies, whether peaceful or warlike, would often be
held, and would be accompanied with some amount of barbaric ritual.
Next, we have the period when the true purpose of the camps was becoming
forgotten. Myths arose, and though it was considered fitting to hold
councils within the old fortifications, for a while all was done with
fear and trembling. The earthworks were peopled with giants, fairies,
and evil spirits. Time passed, and fairs came into vogue. The dread of
giants and “little folk” diminished, and the buyers and sellers would
often be conveniently accommodated in, or around, the earthworks. The
Early Fathers could not stop the gatherings, or abolish the heathen
practice of charms and witchcraft, or quell the tumult of the
feast-makers. The difficulties could only be circumvented. When the
Christians erected a church on the site once occupied by a pagan temple,
they performed a dance to their God as the heathen had previously done
to theirs[463]. Occasionally, the Christian teachers built a church near
an earthwork. More frequently, they retained the pagan feast-day, but
diverted the ceremonies to the honour of the patron saint. The moots
were allowed to gather within the church. The healing well and the
primitive dance were indulgently accepted. Attracting all functions unto
herself, the Church finally allowed the fairs to be held within hallowed
ground. It was only when the Mediaeval period was reached that a
reconsideration of policy was seriously proposed.

The subject of fairs and markets has claimed so much attention that
churchyard sports must be treated rather summarily. So early as A.D.
1225 a provincial synod in Scotland forbade wrestling matches and other
sports in churchyards; and the Synod of Exeter, A.D. 1287, similarly
prohibited combats, dances, and stage plays. But these isolated
ordinances were repeatedly ignored. “Improper and prohibited sports,”
such as wrestling, football, and handball, involved the transgressors in
a penalty of twopence for each offence, at Salton, Yorkshire (A.D.
1472)[464]. The rule was infringed, for, nearly half a century
later (A.D. 1519), the disobedient had to be threatened with
excommunication[465]. So matters went on until the Reformation, and,
indeed, down to a much more recent date. Writing in A.D. 1804, Malkin
avers that, at feasts and revels, dancing and games at tennis and fives
were “universal in [the churchyards of] Radnorshire, and very common in
other parts of the Principality[466].” It should be noted, however, that
these amusements were commonly permitted only on the North side of the
burial-ground, where there were rarely any graves. (Cf. Chap. VIII.) At
Stoke St Milborough, Shropshire (p. 95 _supra_), the games were not
discontinued until the year 1820[467].

Though this recital of events may cause a shock to devout persons, the
severity of the criticism will be relaxed when the conditions are duly
appreciated. Once grasp the fact that social convenience reigned almost
supreme, and the master key is found. Permeating the whole of the old
social customs, though doubtless, to some extent, existing entirely
apart from them, there were influences essentially religious and
symbolical. On actual examination, however, it is often impossible to
make a severance between the practical and the ideal. Take, for example,
the widespread custom of preserving natural or semi-natural curiosities,
such as fossils and aerolites, in churches. Was this practice based
merely on superstition, or on the satisfaction of public curiosity? We
are all conversant with the legends which are attached to some of our
commoner fossils, and to “thunderbolts” of various kinds[468]. When the
Breton peasant, finding a “_pierre de tonnerre_,” or “_pierre de
foudre_”--really a Neolithic celt or axe of stone--builds it into his
chimney to ward off lightning (cf. p. 80 _supra_), he is influenced
partly by superstitious fear and partly by credulity. His very
superstition is turned to useful account. Similarly, the meteoric
stones, such as that which Ambrose Parey (Ambroise Paré) found suspended
by an iron chain in the church of Sugolia, on the borders of Hungary,
was probably believed to protect the building from the effect of
thunderstorms[469]. Grimm tells us of a _donner-stral_ (= “a flash of
lightning”; thence, evidently, “a thunder-stone,” i.e. either an
aerolite or a stone celt) which was hung up in Enisheim church, in
Alsace-Lorraine. In this connection, it would be well to read the
valuable paper written by Professor O. Montelius, entitled “The
Sun-God’s Axe and Thor’s Hammer.” He shows that the superstitious
respect paid to the stone celt appears in many countries in the most
diverse guises[470]. When stone-axes were unearthed by the plough in
Norway, they were regarded as gifts from the gods. It is interesting to
turn to the Scriptural account of “the image which fell down from
Jupiter[471],” and which was said to represent Diana. Some authorities
have considered that the “image” was in reality an aerolite, but
Professor W. M. Ramsay contends that it was a rude idol. This writer is
of opinion that both the Authorized and the Revised Versions are wrong
in giving the translation “Jupiter”; the original refers to an object
falling “from a clear sky.” The tradition of images falling from the
heavens was common. The image of Cybele, at Pessinus, about which a
story of this kind was told, is believed to have been a “shapeless
stone[472].” The reader may feel inclined to ask why, by a similar
argument, the image of Diana was not likewise a shapeless stone,
especially as ignorant folk everywhere are prone to assert that various
objects, such as fossil belemnites and lumps of iron pyrites, have
dropped out of the firmament. But is there any authenticated instance
where an actual image, rather than a natural stone, has been identified
as connected with this superstition?

The more noticeable fossil remains attracted attention at an early date.
The Emperor Augustus decorated his villa at Capri with large fossil
bones--“Giants’ bones.” The church was long considered the natural
repository for other curious relics. The tusks of fossil animals were
commonly placed in Continental churches during the Mediaeval period.
Although there existed a collection of fossils in the museum of the
Vatican, and although these had been described--inefficiently, it is
true--by Michele Mercati, towards the end of the seventeenth century,
yet such relics still found a home in the church. Mercati’s manuscript,
with its mixture of truth and error, was not, indeed, published by
Lancisi until the years A.D. 1717-19, but neither this, nor similar
works, made much impression upon the unlettered crowd. Stories soon
gathered around the treasured bones or fossils. At the church of Pennant
Melangel, in Montgomeryshire, the rib of a mammoth became metamorphosed
into a “Giant’s rib,” as well as into a bone of St Monacella[473]. In
the Foljambe Chapel of Chesterfield parish church, the jaw-bone of a
whale has become a rib of the Dun Cow of Warwick[474] (cf. p. 485
_infra_). A bone is preserved in the church of St Mary’s Redcliffe,
Bristol, which, report says, belonged to a cow that once supplied the
whole city with milk. Other folk, ruthless destroyers of myths, declare,
with more reason, that the bone is that of a whale, and was brought from
Newfoundland by Cabot. There are many other bones which claim to belong
to this celebrated Dun Cow. Instances of church curiosities of this kind
could be greatly extended; space can be found only for one, which
happens to be of great interest.

In the church chest of Canewdon, near Rochford, Essex, there is
preserved an immense and somewhat unattractive relic which, in all
probability, is a portion of a vertebra of a whale (Fig. 50). How the
bone came to be deposited in the church, and where it was found, are
mysteries. The most plausible surmise is that it was dredged up by
fishermen off the coast. Strange to say, the relic, which is known to
the villagers as “Canute’s knee-bone,” is the second which the church
has possessed. The predecessor of the present bone long since


     FIG. 50. “Canute’s knee-bone,” Canewdon church, Essex. The other
     objects are: (1) an iron-bound church chest; (2) a carved panel (c.
     A.D. 1410), probably part of a screen; (3) a cylindrical alms box,
     8½´´ high and 12´´ in circumference, turned out of a solid piece of

disappeared--no one knows where. There is an entry in the parish
register, dated A.D. 1711, which refers to a certain “Ribbe Bone”--a
portion of the skeleton of St Christopher. The Rev. C. R. Hardy, vicar
of Canewdon, informs me that a later writer alludes to the “knee-cap of
a Dane,” which was kept locked up in the church chest and shown to
visitors. The two bones alluded to can scarcely be identical, and the
facts show how rapidly a secondary myth can arise, when there is, as
will at once be shown, a tributary tradition to support it. This
tradition asserts that on the hill overlooking the village a battle was
fought with the Danes. Professor Freeman, who closely investigated
matters on the spot, came to the conclusion that the topographical
details harmonized well with the description of Assandun, and that it
was here that Canute met Edmund Ironsides in conflict (A.D. 1016). By
the way, we notice that Canute’s nephew, Sweyn, was presented with the
manor of which Canewdon forms a part. Freeman further considered that
the place-name Canewdon may preserve the name of the Danish
conqueror[475]. The Rev. E. W. Heygate has also suggested that Canewdon
signifies “Cnut’s Down[476].” In these days, however, when etymology is
based on research work, the conjectures of a past generation must be
approached with suspicion. The Domesday spelling Carenduna, occurring
only seventy years after the battle, and the later forms Carendun,
Cannedon, Canvedon, Canudon, seem practically decisive against the
proposed derivation. Title-deeds of the sixteenth century have Canudon;
and the parish register of 1636, Canewdon. Mr F. W. Reader, whose
reputation as an archaeologist and scientific observer is
well-established, found, upon inquiry, that the pronunciation of the
village name was Cańewdon, and that it is only in modern times that
the accentuation of the second syllable has gained ground. Mr Hardy says
that the pronunciations are equally common. This fact also tells
somewhat against the popular derivation. On the whole, it seems probable
that folk-memory may be fairly sound on the question of the battle, and
even of Canute’s share therein, but that the suggested etymology is
incorrect, and is an afterthought due to the currency of the “knee-bone”

In truth, wherever we meet with these curious legacies of bones,
fossils, or other objects, there we also find what Sir Thomas Browne
called “fallacious enlargements.” The cathedral of St
Bertrand-de-Comminges, in the French department of Haute-Garonne,
possesses a stuffed crocodile. Legend says that the relic was brought
thither by a Crusader, but one may doubt the story. A goose feather,
kept in a recess fashioned in a pillar of Pewsey church, Wiltshire, and
carefully screened by a little door of glass, was once thought, so the
inscription informs us, to be a feather of the wing of the angel
Gabriel. At East Wellow, near Romsey, Hampshire, an old flint-lock gun
is seen attached to a beam in the chancel, and local tradition has an
explanation to offer, though it is probably not the correct one. Those
who are fond of such quaint trifles can find other examples[477] of
symbolism and superstition. The widespread custom of suspending eggs in
churches is symbolical rather than superstitious, though it has given
rise to considerable debate. In Spanish churches the eggs chosen are
chiefly those of the goose; and they are usually placed near
statues[478]. Elsewhere, however, ostrich eggs are in favour, and
especially is this the case in Mohammedan mosques, where they are hung
from the ceiling. At home we have our Easter or Pasque eggs, with which
many customs and much folk-lore are associated. Durandus, ever-ready to
supply some strained and mystical interpretation, will have it that the
ostrich eggs denote the “cherishing mercy of God[479].” Present-day
writers, with a greater knowledge of comparative customs, recognize in
the “world-egg” the great emblem of life, resurrection, and
restoration[480]. But into this spacious field we must not now enter.

Some of the objects bequeathed to the twentieth century are not quite so
free from superstition as is the ostrich egg. At Laniscat, Pont Croix,
Kerdreuff, and one or two other places in Brittany, there may still be
seen, in the church, “wheels of fortune.” These are large wheels with
spokes; to the outside of the rim bells are attached. As the wheel is
turned, the bells ring. There are boxes for the reception of money, and
when the sufferer from some malady has placed his money in the box, he
pulls the rope to make the bells clang. These wheels, as Mr Baring-Gould
and others have pointed out, have a long pedigree[481]. They go back,
first to the Roman worship of the goddess Fortuna, and finally, perhaps,
to sun-worship. Among the Gaulish tribes, the wheel represented the
protection afforded by the solar deity; in tombs, it was perhaps
emblematic of restoration of life and vigour. The wheel, held by a god,
is also found on Romano-Gaulish statues. In Christian art we meet with
our wheel windows, symbolical, it is believed, of the Sun of

After having seen the “wheels of fortune,” one is but little impressed
by the spectacle of small models of sailing vessels which may be seen
suspended in the churches of the smaller seaport towns of Normandy and
Brittany. These models symbolize in a pleasing manner the idea of the
Church’s protection of mariners. In Belgium, votive offerings of silver
horses are met with; they are the gifts of persons whose horses have
recovered from some disease, or perhaps from the effects of the “evil
eye.” These customs are probably of modern date, and, therefore, not
directly traceable to heathen times.

It is doubtful whether we could find preserved, in churches on British
soil, pagan vestiges exactly comparable with the solar wheel. In early
art it is otherwise, as our architecture and ritual abundantly testify.
With respect to actual relics, many a parish church shelters some
object, quaint or grotesque, which had its origin in no sentiment of a
purely Christian character. When superstition waned, these heirlooms,
either from oversight, or, more probably, by tacit consent, were often
allowed to remain within the sacred building, for the idea of the church
as the house of the people never completely died away. The church
continued to be the receptacle for these curious relics, and few folk
were found to deny the fitness of the custom.

One by one, tiny fragments of testimony accumulate, attesting such a
survival and continuance of folk-memory as few men of to-day have
suspected. From the mass of facts there emerges the truth of the twofold
purpose of Mediaeval church architecture--the religious and the social.
Some writers have attempted to interpret the evidence on the principle
that, as the ecclesiastical power diminished, the secular increased, and
that the sway of custom was brought about by encroachments from the one
side or the other alternately. Certainly, the problem must be surveyed
from that point of view, yet it appears to me that such an outlook is
only partial. For instance--to mention one objection only--at the period
when clerical power was in its heyday, the church fabric appears also
to have been most used for social purposes, and this fact seems to stand
quite apart from the disorderly tendencies observable in times of
irreligion and desecration. Whichever power, clerical or lay, chanced to
be uppermost, the parochial customs, as a whole, until within the last
few centuries, seem to have been fairly, though not entirely, uniform;
and when external causes, whether political or economical, produced a
balance of forces, the right to use the church for secondary purposes
does not seem to have been seriously challenged. For the strength of the
earlier faiths long continued to lie in the recognized union of
political, social, and religious interests. There was no gulf fixed
between the conceptions of the religious and the secular commonwealth.
“Such a distinction,” says Kauffmann, “is foreign to ancient modes of
thought[482].” And of the tenacity of thought and the persistency of
custom we have had ample proof.



Orientation, as the word is commonly understood nowadays, may be
described as the principle, and practice, according to which a sacred
building or other object is set in an East-to-West line. In speaking of
a Christian church, there is implied further that the altar is normally
placed at the Eastern end of the building. The word “orientate,” it is
hardly necessary to say, comes primarily from the Latin _oriri_, to
rise, the reference being, of course, to the sun. To get one’s bearings
with respect to the East was therefore naturally called “orientation.”
There is a more general signification when the word is employed
scientifically: thus, the crystals in a mass of rock may be orientated,
and not necessarily to the East. There is also a broader usage of the
term, mostly of literary interest, which merely conveys the sense of
determination of one’s position, physically or mentally, so that even
theories and opinions may be orientated, honestly or disingenuously, by
their advocates. Under this definition, moreover, a building may be
orientated, and yet the chief part need not face the geographical East.
But it has been conjectured that there was also a Mediaeval Latin word,
_orientare_, which specifically meant “to set towards the East,” and
thus arose the fuller and more precise connotation familiar to the
modern antiquary[483]. From the Mediaeval term we get our verb “to
orientate,” which, like the briefer and more usual term, “to orient,”
implies the setting out of a church East to West, with the altar towards
the East of the edifice. Merely premising that there is an orientation
of graves as well as of buildings, we will proceed to consider the case
of churches only.

The most heedless observer must have noticed the main facts. The choir
or chancel of a cathedral or parish church faces East, while the nave
runs towards the West. The exceptions form a trifling minority. Casting
about for an explanation of these exceptions, it will be found that the
buildings which infringe the rule are usually modern, or that the
exigencies of space permitted no alternative, or that there has been a
spirit of opposition manifested of set purpose. Let us first notice a
few examples where the rule is broken. The small, modern church of Well,
Lincolnshire, is indeed built East and West, but the altar is situated
at the West end. Eastville church, in the same county, runs North and
South, its altar being towards the South[484]. St Mary Major, Exeter,
which lies to the West of the cathedral, is alined North-East and
South-West, but the alteration was probably made in 1866, when the
church was rebuilt. The original building was of Norman date[485], and
would scarcely be out of line. St Paul’s, Covent Garden, built by Inigo
Jones in 1633, and rebuilt at the close of the eighteenth century, has
its axis about 30° North of the East-to-West line, but the altar stands
at what must be called the “East” end of the church. St John’s, Chatham,
another church which transgresses the principle, was erected in the
years immediately preceding the Oxford Movement, at a time when the
practice of orientation had grown lax[486]. Several Georgian churches in
the Paddington and Marylebone districts are out of line, while, strange
to tell, a Primitive Methodist Chapel in Seymour Place, hard by, is
properly orientated[487]. The fact is noticeable, since the custom is
not widely observed by Nonconformists. Camden church, Peckham, is built
askew, but that is doubtless owing to its founders having consisted of a
coalition of Nonconformists and dissatisfied churchmen from the mother
parish of Camberwell. In the Georgian era, as is well known, there was
general slackness: fonts were often placed in the North and South
aisles, ornaments were neglected, brasses stolen, documents mislaid and
misused. To this period of slovenly treatment can be traced the
anomalous alinement of St George’s, Bloomsbury. The Eastern recess
having proved too small to receive an altarpiece which had been
presented by the Duke of Bedford, the main axis of the church was, as it
were, turned through an angle of 90°, and it is now arranged almost
North and South, the original chancel being represented by a

Other churches which do not conform to the usual plan are St Edmund the
King, Lombard Street, and Immanuel church, Streatham Common (altar at
Western end). A number of French examples might also be given, but even
were it possible to compile an exhaustive list, it would only weary the

Roman Catholic churches are sometimes found to have unorthodox
alinements, but not so generally as is commonly believed. Frequently,
the so-called lack of orientation simply means that the position of the
altar is reversed. Thus, St George’s Cathedral, in Westminster, like St
Peter’s at Rome, has its altar at the West end. But since the axis in
these cases, as in that of the little Anglican church at Well,
previously mentioned, lies East and West, I prefer to consider these
churches as not fundamentally violating the rule. To this matter we must
presently return. It has been asserted, and afterwards stoutly denied,
that disregard of orientation, with respect to the Eastern altar, is a
feature of the churches of the Jesuits[489].

A goodly number of modern churches owe their incorrect alinements to the
limitations of shape, slope, and area of the ground on which the
buildings are placed. Thus, while the old parish church of Hornsey,
Middlesex, stands correctly, the new building is sadly discordant. This
variation is caused by a corresponding difference in the long axis of
the rectangular plot on which it is built. The axis of the Roman
Catholic church of the English Martyrs at Streatham, again, is in marked
disagreement with that of the Anglican parish church hard by; a glance
at the manner in which the former edifice is wedged in seems to supply
the reason. Whether the North-to-South line of the Church of the
Oratory, Brompton, is to be so explained, is more uncertain. Of ancient
English buildings which do not orientate, the classic example is found
at the Cistercian Abbey of Rievaulx, Yorkshire. A steep bank on the one
side of the church, and a river on the other, necessitated an axis from
North to South.

Then we have to deal with churches designedly mis-built. The Puritan Sir
Walter Mildmay, founder of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, built the
original College chapel North and South, as a protest against
superstition, and in marked derogation of catholic usage (A.D. 1584).
This action led Evelyn to speak of “that zealous house” which was
“reformed _ab origine_[490].” The Cambridge example is serviceable as
showing the approximate date when early tradition began to be defied.

To-day, except through pure carelessness on the part of architects or
builders, the Church observes the broad rule, both with respect to the
axis and the Eastward altar. One or two critical instances will render
this evident. When, in India, under the first Bishop of Calcutta, Dr
Middleton (A.D. 1814-22), the question arose whether the chancel of a
church should not face the city of Jerusalem, it was decided to build
towards the East, and leave the sacred city out of account[491]. Again,
it was mooted, a few years ago, whether churches situated in, and West
of, the diocese of Honolulu in the Sandwich Islands (157° 53´ W.),
should not have occidentation, rather than orientation, and the verdict
was that the chancel should point to the rising sun[492]. Someone has
remarked, in this connection, that in crossing to another hemisphere,
the Northern and Southern points may be said to change values[493], but
this does not affect the question of orientating from a given place on a
fixed meridian. Moreover, since Honolulu lies 21° North of the Equator,
it is outside this consideration altogether.

Although, as just stated, the modern builder follows the rule, he
appears to lack precision in his methods. This opinion has been
expressed in private letters to the writer from such high authorities as
Professor Reginald Blomfield, Mr H. Phillips Fletcher, and Mr P.
Mainwaring Johnston. Mr Johnston says that even in the matter of
inserting the points of the compass on architectural drawings there is
greater laxity than was formerly the case. The builder seems often to
rely on a small portable compass, which frequently is not corrected for
the variation of the needle.

By way of parenthesis, it may be noted that the lodges of Freemasons
were formerly orientated, and, although the rule is not always now
followed in towns, where meeting places are numerous, yet the house of
assembly is still called Orient, and, in the case of a grand lodge,
Grand Orient. The explanation is that the Freemasons claimed to be
descended from the old ecclesiastical builders[494]. From the annals of
Freemasonry we can also gather valuable information concerning the
alinement of churches. In some of the Scotch lodges, there are said to
exist documents which describe the actual method pursued. The site of
the altar having been decided upon, a pole was thrust into the ground,
and a day appointed for the building to be commenced. “On the evening
previous, the Patrons, Ecclesiastics, and Masons assembled, and spent
the night in devotional exercises: one being placed to watch the rising
of the sun, gave notice when his rays appeared above the horizon. When
fully in view, the Master Mason sent out a man with a rod, which he
ranged in line between the altar and the sun, and thus fixed the line of

Wordsworth refers to the ceremony in the following stanzas (he is
alluding to the rising of the sun):

    “He rose, and straight--as by divine command,
     They, who had waited for that sign to trace
     Their work’s foundation, gave with careful hand
     To the high Altar its determined place;
     Mindful of Him, who in the Orient born,
     There liv’d, and on the Cross His life resign’d,
     And who, from out the regions of the morn
     Issuing in pomp, shall come to judge mankind[496].”

In passing, it will be noticed that Wordsworth seems to attach
importance to the fact that the Nativity took place in the East, as if
that were the reason for orientation.

Having seen that, in our day, the custom agrees faithfully with a
formulated tradition, we will go back, and, pursuing the link-to-link
method, strive to ascertain the origin of the idea. There existed a
sound tradition in A.D. 1584, for, as already stated, Sir Walter Mildmay
deliberately broke with it. A French example will help to carry us on
our way. During the fourteenth century the church of Saint-Benoît, in
Paris, had its grand altar turned towards the West, and hence bore the
nickname of Saint-Benoît-mal-Tourné, i.e. “Sanctus Benedictus male
versus.” The church was rebuilt during the reign of Francis I. (A.D.
1515-47), when the altar was made to face East. The name, says M. L’Abbé
Migne, was consequently changed to Saint-Benoît-le-Bétourné, which the
narrator claims as the equivalent of “Bene versus[497].” It has been
questioned whether _bétourné_ does not really mean _mal-tourné_[498],
but the point to be noticed is, that orientation, in the fuller sense,
was recognized in the early sixteenth century, and that even in the
fourteenth, a true alinement was observed, though the altar was placed
at the wrong end. M. L’Abbé Migne, indeed, asserts that orientation in
France is known to date from the eleventh century at least[499]. Yet, in
modern times, the French practice has become very uncertain, and
numerous instances might be given of North-to-South alinements.

William Durand, commonly known under his Latinized name, Durandus, who
was born in Provence, in A.D. 1237, has some interesting remarks on
orientation. Following St Isidore, he connects the word _temple_ with
_contemplate_, a kinship which recent lexicographers do not
discountenance. While “contemplating,” the worshippers must look towards
the East, and Durandus lays down the rule that the exact position should
be determined at the equinox. This would ensure that the sections of the
building to the right and left of the true East-and-West line should be
equal. Thus would the Church Militant show that she behaved herself with
moderation, a virtue not symbolized when the median line is taken at the

Dr Daniel Rock asserts that the Saxons built their churches
East-and-West, and numerous instances might readily be given to
substantiate his statement. A specific example is cited by Dr Rock
himself. Wolstan, monk of Winchester (A.D. 990), speaks of a church
built by Bishop St Ethelwold (b. A.D. 908, d. 984) as pointing to the
East. Like Durandus, Dr Rock favoured the equinoctial East, and urged
that, in cases where the site was unfavourable, the East-and-West line
should be approached as nearly as possible. The chancel should face
South-East rather than North-West, assuming that the axis must run in
that line[501]. This principle was formerly undoubtedly considered
binding. Brand, quoting from a history of Birmingham, tells how St
Bartholomew’s chapel, in that city, “veres toward the North,” because
the ground space would admit of no other position. In planning St John’s
chapel, Deritend, Birmingham, the architect was so anxious to catch the
Eastern point, that he lost the line of the street, hence the writer
humorously adds that the designer sacrificed to the East[502]. Another
instance of an attempt to keep in harmony with Mediaeval teaching, is
seen at Hornsey new church (p. 207 _supra_), which has its chancel at
the Southern end, in preference to the Northern.

Granting that the Saxon churches show orientation, we are led to suppose
that the idea goes back still earlier, and this is confirmed by facts.
In the “Apostolical Constitutions,” a document dating probably from the
latter part of the fourth century, it is ordained that the churches are
to be built oblong, with the head to the East, and the congregation is
directed to pray Eastward[503]. So early as A.D. 472, there was a
tradition that the Apostles turned towards the East in prayer[504]. Leo
I., in A.D. 443, is found condemning the people for bowing to the rising
sun as they stood on the steps in the Court of St Peter’s[505]. St
Basil, who flourished in the middle of the fourth century A.D., alludes
distinctly to the custom of turning towards the East in prayer[506].
Several early writers might be quoted for corroborative testimony on
this point. The fourth Provincial Council of Milan (A.D. 1576), speaks
of the practice of orientating churches as being usual and in accordance
with tradition (_antiquus mos et probata traditio_)[507]. Thus there is
cumulative evidence, fairly satisfactory in character, of deference paid
to the Eastern position, practically from the time when the Christians
began to build their own churches[508].

Certain pronouncements to the contrary, which, if accepted, are
calculated to weaken the force of these arguments, and to modify our
views on the general question of orientation, must not be withheld. For
example, Walcott asserts that orientation has never been a law of the
Church, and that it has probably an Eastern origin. He also points out
that, in Rome, the entrance to a Christian place of worship was
frequently at the East, and that the priest at the altar faced the
people[509]. The Romano-British church discovered at Silchester (see p.
23 _supra_) must be noted as an instance of this kind of ground plan.
This “basilica,” as proved by the foundations, had a Western apse, and
presumably, therefore, a Western altar, the entrance being towards the
East. Fergusson, in his _Illustrated Handbook of Architecture_, affirms
that orientation is wholly a peculiarity of Northern or Gothic races,
and that the Italians never knew or practised the custom; it is found
only where the inhabitants of an Italian district had been largely
superseded by Gothic peoples[510]. Professor Baldwin Brown, again,
asserts that “the Church of early times generally, and the Church of
Rome throughout,” were indifferent to the practice of orientation. A
fourth writer, whose opinion carries great weight, Professor E. B.
Tylor, deals with Jewish influence, and concludes that it was scarcely
effective in establishing the principle of orientation in the course of
European history. He is rather of opinion that the rise of the Christian
custom is sufficiently accounted for by Asiatic sun-worshippers, such as
the Persians. The rite of orientation, he considers, was unknown to
primitive Christianity, and was developed within its first four

Let us examine these statements. That orientation has never been a law
of the Church may be literally true. I can find no such obligation
recorded in works like Sir R. Phillimore’s _Ecclesiastical Law_. Yet Dr
Rock refers to an authority, “one deeply read in liturgical
lore,”--Bellotte, who pronounced him guilty of mortal sin who wilfully
built a church which was not directed towards the East[512]. Again, Mgr
Barbier de Montault, while regretting that the canonists no longer make
orientation rigorously compulsory, observes that the rule, all the same,
remains prescribed in the rubric of the Missal (“_qui n’en reste pas
moins inscrite dans la rubrique du Missel_”)[513]. Above this, the
evidence already adduced shows that the rule has had a very general
acceptation in England since the Saxon period at least.

The churches of Rome, and indeed, of Italy as a whole, are admittedly
irregular in their adherence to strict orientation. Yet even these
churches largely conform to the principle, in its wider sense of
East-to-West alinement. Very frequently, however, the second, and
perhaps almost equally important part of the principle is ignored, that
is, the altar is placed at the Western end, instead of at the Eastern.
St Peter’s itself supplies a good example of this arrangement; other
instances are found in St John Lateran, San Paolo fuori le Mura, and Sta
Maria Maggiore. In these churches, now often called basilicas, the
entrance is at the East, and the sanctuary at the West[514]. Out of
fifty early churches in Rome examined by Mr G. G. Scott, forty were
found to have the sanctuary at the West; of the remaining examples,
“there are only seven which appear to have retained their original form
and which have an Eastern sanctuary[515].” Of the forty churches just
mentioned, as of some later ones, it must be noted that the alinement is
by no means true East-to-West, hence the epigram of the French wit:
“_Tout système d’orientation peut trouver son modèle à Rome_.”

To leave the matter here would nevertheless convey a false impression.
It is credibly asserted that, in the cases where the altar is at the
Western extremity, the celebrant faces the East, thus taking the same
relative position personally as when, under a reverse arrangement, he
turns his back on the congregation[516]. If, then, the axis of the
church be situated East-to-West, and if the prayers be offered towards
the East, orientation cannot be truly said to be neglected: the relative
dispositions of portico and altar become secondary considerations.

Dr Rock, with a manifest anxiety to reconcile the diversity of practice
in Rome, submitted, as an explanation, that isolated basilicas (=
Christian churches) grew up over narrow, lonely pagan grottos, or the
graves of martyrs, or sprang out of the halls of patrician
converts[517]. That many of the anomalous alinements may be thus
accounted for is probable, but too much must not be made of this method
of harmonizing contradictions. Other writers, like Fergusson, have urged
that the church was a basilica, or court of justice adapted to Christian
worship. The word “basilica,” by the way, is said not to have been used
by writers or architects of Byzantine times[518]--a significant detail,
if correct (cf. p. 151 _supra_). For it is contended that there is, in
Rome, no well-authenticated instance of the conversion of any pagan
forensic basilica into a Christian church, though there are abundant
examples of pagan temples which became Christian sanctuaries[519]. The
actual secular basilicas would generally be still required, and still
employed, century after century, for the transaction of legal business;
the heathen temples, now useless for their original purpose, would be
adapted and consecrated by the teachers of the new faith. The Christians
most likely copied the basilican type of building for their
meeting-places because it offered the simplest and most economical plan
of accommodating an immense body of worshippers[520].

An attempt has been made to evolve order out of chaos by supposing that,
during the early days of the Church, in some parts of the Empire, the
priest stood on the Western side of the altar, namely, the side remote
from the people, and that, during the celebrations, he looked towards
the East, over the heads of the worshippers. The body of the church thus
lay to the East of the sanctuary, and the altar was interposed between
priest and congregation. At a later date, for some unassigned reason,
the priest changed his position with respect to the altar, and stood
with his back to the people, hence the ground-plan of the building was
modified, so that the main entrance was fixed at the West, and the
sanctuary at the East[521]. Thus the Eastward position of the priest
was the essential feature, not the position of the altar in the church.

Fergusson’s dictum concerning the churches of Italy, however, need not
be accepted without demur. It has been endorsed by writers like Sir E.
Beckett (Lord Grimthorpe)[522], but is considered by others to involve
overstatement. Fergusson himself admits that, while it is only by
accident that we find the rule observed in Pisa, Bologna, and Ferrara,
yet in more Northerly (“German”) cities like Milan and Verona, the
orientation will be found correct nine times out of ten[523]. He
accounts for the absence of orientation in the three first-named cities
by supposing that in them the original population was not submerged by
“Gothic races.” Whatever may be the precise meaning which Fergusson
attaches to this phrase is of little moment, for it is fairly certain,
as we shall soon see, that the principle was put into practice by
peoples to whom the term could by no licence be applied. Therefore, at
any rate, the custom was not, as he believes, wholly a feature of the
Gothic builders. Let us recall the fact that seven out of fifty early
churches in Rome are carefully oriented. Link this with the fact that
many other ancient churches in that city are more or less accurately
alined, and the conclusion is clear that the direction of the median
line was rarely left to chance. This verdict is confirmed by an
examination of early Romanesque churches elsewhere. In Auvergne, for
instance, the present writer ascertained, by a careful use of the
compass, that oriented churches were very common, yet Gothic influence
has not, even in our day, penetrated that region to any considerable

Professor Tylor’s opinion that the Jews exercised little influence on
the development of the custom among the early Christians, claims great
respect and attention, because of the high authority which he deservedly
possesses. Yet it may be doubted whether he has not under-estimated
Jewish influences, and over-estimated the effects of Jewish contact with
the Persians and other peoples living East of Palestine. In the first
place, one is led to conclude that Professor Tylor’s argument is
somewhat weakened by the stress which is laid upon the differences of
position adopted in prayer, with respect to the sun. The Brahmans, we
are told, pray towards the East, the Thugs towards the West. In the
first case, the symbolism represents hope, the birth of life, the glory
of the rising sun; in the antithesis of the second, the gloom and horror
of death, typified by the departure of the life-giver. These
distinctions, though not trivial in themselves, and even less so in
their later developments, seem to be largely obliterated by the very
existence of adoration performed sunwards. The essence of orientation,
in its early stages, appears, if one may so express it, to consist in
respect paid to the sun. This deference is proved by the East-and-West
axial line, as exemplified in primitive temples and monuments. Where the
altar was at the Western end, the sun’s rays fell on the sacred object
through the Eastern doors at sunrise. As the centuries pass by, we still
find rival opinions as to the proper positions for the altar or other
sacred object. The alinement is agreed upon, but the question arises,
Shall the sanctuary be East or West?

Now do we not find noticeable traces of the solar idea in the Hebrew
Scriptures, with a certain tendency, moreover, to the adoption of the
Eastern rather than the Western position? The Tabernacle of Moses and
the Temple of Solomon had their entrances towards the East, and in each
building the Holy of Holies was at the West. There was also an Eastern
porch to Herod’s Temple[524]. The student of the Bible and the Apocrypha
will be familiar with numerous passages, which, without any wresting
from the context, appear to contain the germ of the idea of
orientation[525], displayed in respect paid to prayer at sunrise. In the
Wisdom of Solomon, xvi. 28, these words occur, “We must prevent the sun
to give thee thanks, and at the dayspring pray to thee.” Language of a
very similar kind is found in more than one of the Psalms. It is
undeniable that repeated attempts were made by the monotheistic Hebrews
to prevent adoration of the sun. The practice is implicitly forbidden in
the Second Commandment, and expressly in such passages as Deut. iv. 19.
Why should these prohibitions have been necessary, unless the Jews were
prone, in this matter as in some others, either to copy pagan rites, or
to follow primal instincts inherited from forefathers among whom solar
worship was common? Ezekiel was horror-stricken at the sight of the
five-and-twenty men who worshipped the sun with their backs toward the
Temple and their faces toward the East[526]. Josiah found it necessary
to put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained
to burn incense to Baal, and to the sun, moon, and planets; the
“chariots of the sun” he burned with fire[527]. The attention paid to
direction in offering one’s prayers is illustrated again by the case of
Daniel. Domiciled in a heathen land, he prayed with his face towards
Jerusalem, although that city lies West, and not East, of Babylon[528].
To look again toward the Holy Temple was the prayer uttered by Jonah
when in the belly of the fish[529]. In short, prayer offered towards
Jerusalem was actually recommended, if not stipulated, by Solomon, as a
condition of success in warfare[530]. The Jews, in later times, seem
always to have been zealous in obeying the precept, though it is not
recorded that they carry a compass with them for the purpose, as the
Mohammedans are said to do[531].

The Book of Job contains a remarkable and enlightening passage
concerning sun-worship. Protesting his integrity, the patriarch says:
“If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness;
And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my
hand: This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge[532].” Now,
the ancient Greeks used to kiss their hands as an act of worship to the
sun, and Tertullian had to complain that even Christians would move
their lips toward the sunrise, as if affecting adoration[533]. Grimm
says that Teutonic peoples would swear an oath by the sun, stretching
out their hands to the all-seeing god[534].

A moment’s pause may be made to notice a remarkable parallel, suggested
by Barclay. On the one side, we have the stretching out vertically of
the separated fingers. On the other, as Barclay observes, we have the
five large trilithons of the outer “horsehoe” of Stonehenge, graduated
so that the central one corresponds to the middle finger of the hand,
and the other trilithons to the other fingers, each to each. Similarly,
if the fingers are brought together so as to form a circle, we get the
symbol employed in the sacred salute to the sun[535]. Barclay’s
comparisons may be fanciful, but who shall deny their aptness? We cannot
forget the symbolism adopted in the Greek and Latin churches when the
Benediction is pronounced. Even a temporary assent to Barclay’s
hypothesis leads us to ask further, Whence came the custom of shading
the face with the hands when the worshipper is engaged in prayer? Did
the habit originate in protecting the eyes from the sun during the act
of supplication?

But to return: we have seen that sun-worship, and prayer offered towards
the East, or towards a hallowed site, are abundantly illustrated in the
Old Testament. Again, if the Jews did not practise orientation in our
specific sense of the word, they observed an East-to-West system in
planning their chief place of worship. The older generations of Jews, at
least, could not have been ignorant of orientation. As bondmen in Egypt,
they must have become acquainted with the principle. In Canaan, they
were subjected, as Professor Tylor states, to the influences of solar
worship on all sides. Their heathen neighbours, the Phoenicians, bowed
themselves to Baal, the Ammonites offered sacrifices to Molech, and the
Syrians worshipped the god Hadad[536].

If the probabilities favour a knowledge of the idea of orientation among
the Jews of the Old Testament times, reason must be shown for the
assumption of a complete break between the ancient practice and the
customs of the Apostolic period. For primitive Christianity was not only
in great measure developed from, but was a fulfilment of, the older
Judaism. The “Sun of Righteousness” in Malachi has its counterpart in
the “Day spring from on high” of St Luke, the “Day star” of the Second
Epistle of Peter, and the “Morning star” of the Apocalypse[537]. The
“Light of the World,” or some variant of the phrase, occurs again and
again. While, therefore, it would be folly to force these figurative
expressions too far, it would equally be a mistake to overlook them.
There is a possibility, then, of an early Christian as well as a Hebraic
groundwork for subsequent developments of orientation. Perhaps the
lesson was soon reinforced by Christian contact with converts from
paganism, for, as already shown, we do not get far into the Christian
era before we meet with oriented churches and the custom of praying
towards the East. During the rite of baptism, too, as we learn from St
Jerome, the candidate turned towards the West to renounce the devil, and
then faced East to confess allegiance to Christ[538].

This specific inquiry may now be dropped, yet a brief survey of
religions and races other than the Jewish will not only elucidate the
subject generally, but will cast a light back on the question which we
are leaving. We are informed, on good authority, that, in the Holy
Eastern Church, orientation is “universal through Asia as well as
Europe[539].” Again, with respect to the ancient Coptic churches of
Egypt, it is asserted by Butler that the entrance is “almost invariably
towards, if not in, the Western side, while the sanctuaries lie always
on the Eastern[540].” This authority suggests that the early Christians
may have derived the practice of orientation from Egypt. The ancient
Egyptian temples afford wide scope for discussion. Sir J. Norman Lockyer
and other workers have arranged these temples in groups according to
their orientation. One temple, at Karnak, is said to be so planned that
it acts as a gigantic telescope which allows a two minutes’ flash at the
summer solstice, when the building is found to be accurately
oriented[541]. Other temples are so alined that, on the anniversary of
the dedication, the rays of the sun fall on the innermost sanctuary, and
light up the statues placed therein. The sanctuaries, it should be
explained, are situated at the Western end, so that the sun’s beams
would shine through the Eastern entrance. Other groups of structures
may, perhaps, exhibit “orientation” to Sirius, Spica, Capella, and so
on[542]. The evidence goes to show that considerable nicety of
observation was required to get the true axis; probably this was done
either by watching the shadow cast by a vertical object when the sun was
on the meridian, by stretching a cord between two stakes, carefully
alined, or by keeping a standard line constantly directed towards the
North Pole of the heavens. It has just been stated that Egyptian temples
are sources of much controversy, and it would be unwise to attempt
further to make clear one complicated question by introducing another
fully as perplexing. Merely observing, then, that Sir Norman Lockyer
has submitted evidence to show that the orientation of Egyptian temples
influenced the temples of Greece, a country which he believes to
represent a transitional stage of the custom[543], we again turn our
attention to English churches.

The first obvious fact to demand notice is that few of our churches face
the true equinoctial East. Over sixty years ago a series of Norfolk
churches was examined, when it was found that, at West Beckham, the axis
was due East; at St Peter’s, Bampton, so much as 20° North of East; and
in a number of other examples the discrepancies varied from 5° to
8°[544]. In 1856, a paper was read by the Rev. W. Airy, in which he
stated that, among churches which he had inspected, there were hundreds
deviating between 5° and 10° from the true East, six or seven diverged
above 20°, and one more than 30°[545]. The late Mr T. W. Shore, whose
knowledge of Hampshire was very comprehensive and thorough, found that a
line about 20° North of East was favoured in that county, about seventy
churches having this inclination[546]. If, then, we assume, for the
moment, that the orientation was taken from the rising sun on the day
when the building was commenced, the Hampshire figures would indicate
that operations were usually begun either about a month after the vernal
equinox or a month before the autumnal equinox. This conclusion must not
be finally accepted without inquiry. From an old map known as John
Leake’s _Exact Surveigh_ (1667), it has been found that hardly any two
city churches then existing agreed in their axes, nor with the true
East-to-West line. Such is the assertion made in Smith’s _Old Topography
of London_, but I doubt whether the map, which one may see in the
Library of the British Museum, will bear the strictest tests. The
authority just cited affirms that he made minute measurements for his
plan of Westminster and discovered that even such close neighbours as
Westminster Abbey, St Margaret’s, and St Catherine’s in the Little
Cloister, vary many points from each other[547]. Sir Henry Chauncy had
noticed similar variations in Hertfordshire at the close of the
sixteenth century, and had explained them on the theory of seasonal
alinement just given[548]. It is needless to adduce further examples:
let the student take a carefully adjusted compass, and test a number of
churches for himself. Like the present writer, he will find that he
rarely meets with a chancel which faces exactly East.

If we scan the pages of works on ecclesiology and symbolism we shall
find hypotheses regarding orientation in great abundance. Whether or not
the Christian practice came directly from Jewish antecedents, concerning
which question, as we have seen, there is a doubt, its ultimate origin
must be sought among pagan peoples. Yet the old authors were mainly
unaware of these beginnings, and they, like the common folk, were driven
to invent secondary explanations. And it may well be that the subsidiary
beliefs were, at certain periods, fully effective--that builders did
orient churches for this or that symbolical reason, unconscious
meanwhile of a deeper cause which lay behind, rooted in past heathenism
and strengthened by long prescription.

As we follow the tortuous threads of Mediaeval and later traditions, it
becomes plain that some of the clues may be dropped as valueless. Thus,
because the Tabernacle and the Temple had each the Holy Place towards
the West, and because the Jews turned their faces thitherward in prayer,
some writers have ingeniously supposed that the early Christians adopted
the opposite arrangement, in order to mark the advent of the new Gospel.
In like manner, urge these writers, the Day of Rest was changed from the
seventh to the first day of the week[549]. This hypothesis respecting
orientation, born in the study of the mystic, is too whimsical and
lacking in proof to be seriously considered.

Two of the early Fathers submit that, since Christ, while on the Cross,
looked towards the West, His followers should therefore turn towards the
East to seek His face[550]. Another view is that, at the Second Advent,
Christ will appear from the East, hence worship and regard should be
paid towards that point of the heavens. The East was the traditional
cradle of the human family; the Magi came from the East; in that
quarter, relatively to Western Christendom, Christ was born, and from
that quarter He ascended to heaven. To the East lies the traditional
land to which we return after life’s pilgrimage[551]. St Basil had a
curious theory that ancient churches were built towards the equinoctial
East in order that worshippers might face the Garden of Eden, the
terrestrial Paradise. As Reusens puts it, “_nous devons tourner nos
regards vers le paradis terrestre que Dieu planta à Eden vers
l’orient_[552].” The last of these esoteric explanations worth
mentioning is that the devout have always been anxious to look towards
Jerusalem in prayer; hence altars are built to face that quarter. To
this plea, Dr Neale replies that orientation in the Eastern Church is as
distinctly an Asiatic as a European practice, hence the idea is

Here we encounter a kind of side-theory which has long been a favourite
with liturgical writers. It will be remembered that Durandus laid down
the ideal rule of building so as to face the equinoctial East. But we
have also seen that this counsel of perfection has been little heeded.
The obvious explanation of the exceptions is that the sun’s varying
daily position has resulted in diversity of alinement. The obvious,
however, not always being the true, other reasons have been sought, and
other theories formulated. Hence arose the attractive “Saint’s Day
theory,” to the effect that the axis of the building depended on the
point of sunrise which corresponded to the day of the patron saint to
whom the church was dedicated. So far as I am aware, the idea is not
traceable, in writing, earlier than the middle of the seventeenth
century, but this origin may perchance be pushed backward as the
question is further studied. The following account may supply a clue.

Silas Taylor, otherwise Silas Domville, was a captain in the
Parliamentary army, who later devoted himself to antiquarian pursuits.
Careless in money matters, he died in debt, and his manuscripts were
sold by his creditors at his death, in A.D. 1678. One manuscript
contains this passage: “In the days of yore, when a church was to be
built, they watched and prayed on the vigil of the dedication, and took
that point of the horizon where the sun arose from the East, which makes
that variation, so that few [churches] stand true, except those built
between the two equinoxes. I have experimented (_sic_) some churches,
and have found the line to point to that part of the horizon where the
sun arises on the day of that Saint to whom the church is
dedicated[554].” Noting, incidentally, that the expression, “between the
two equinoxes,” is evidently a slip, and that the writer means “at the
two equinoxes,” we are struck by the likeness between this account and
that which is credited to the old Masonic lodges. The Saint’s Day theory
is merely an amplification of the earlier Masonic idea, a specific
practical mode of orientation being introduced.

The theory just given has been productive of an abiding controversy. It
has been sanctioned by several authorities, among others by Sir Norman
Lockyer[555]. But, although the subject will bear deeper investigation,
there is already sufficient evidence available to prove that the theory
is faulty. There exist well-established cases of variation which cannot
be forced under the rule. Again, some saints have several festivals
allotted to them: St Nicholas has two, St Martin three, St John four,
St Peter five, St Mary the Virgin eight[556]. Suppose, moreover, the
case of an ancient church dedicated, we will say, to St Barnabas, and
further assume that the present-day observer examines the orientation
and finds it correct for the day of that saint, June 11th. The theory
would still fail, since, by an Act of Parliament passed in the year
1752, eleven days were omitted from the calendar, and the orientation
would, by the hypothesis, have been taken on May 30th. In considering
ancient churches, therefore, the change in reckoning must be allowed for
at the start. To meet the necessities of such an example as that
proposed, it must also be granted that the advice of Durandus to build
at the equinox was not generally followed. But we have seen that the
facts are in accord with such an assumption, so that this minor
objection falls to the ground. Once more; arguing from the fact that the
village feast, which is usually held on the Saint’s Day, does not always
coincide with the dedication festival, Mr Airy concluded that the theory
under consideration was invalid. Without prejudicing the general
verdict, we notice that this contention is impaired by evidence which
proves that the dates of many village feasts have, at various times,
been changed to suit local convenience (cf. p. 191 _supra_).

A more damaging argument is supplied by Mr Airy’s assertion that he had
never met with one church pointing to the place of sunrise between the
1st of May and the 9th of August[557]. If this testimony were
unassailable, it would seem to indicate at least an approximation to the
rule of Durandus--a pushing back of building operations towards early
spring (March 22nd) or forwards to autumn (Sept. 22nd). Unfortunately,
we do not know the church which, according to Mr Airy, has a deflection
of 30°; unless it be situated in the Northern part of Britain it must
fall between the 1st of May and the 9th of August. One cannot agree with
Mr Airy’s contentions that festival orientation involved too great a
knowledge of the variation of sunrise, that the “ancients” [apparently
the Mediaeval builders] did not observe such “refinements,” that they
had no idea of the sun’s movements “in his course Northward and
Southward to the τροπαὶ ήελίοιο” [the solstices]. On the contrary, we
believe that from very early times rough observations of this kind must
have been taken with some frequency. The possession of this knowledge by
our forefathers does not, of course, prove the case for the Saint’s Day
theory. But between the idea of dedication alinements and Mr Airy’s
conclusion that the variations are accidental, and represent attempts to
make the fabrics bear to the East as nearly as possible, there is room
for a middle opinion. Should Domville’s assertion prove true, then,
whatever may have been the practice of the early Fathers, the Mediaeval
builders were imbued with the symbolism of festival dedication and
alinement, and would not fail to give effect to their ideal. Granted
that this practice cuts at the root of the equinoctial precept, there is
yet a possibility that, as with so many other customs, uniformity was
never attained. Exceptions alone, numerous though they be, do not
disprove the theory altogether. A smaller number of positive cases would
have force against them. I incline to the belief that the Mediaeval
builders followed partially the Saint’s Day principle--perhaps invented
it--and that a limited list of churches may conform to the idea. If John
Leake’s map, already mentioned, be really accurate, the various City
churches dedicated to St Mary have approximately parallel axes, and this
evidence, so far as it goes, would be confirmatory. That the explanation
covers even the majority of instances is very doubtful. And, at most, it
accounts only for the symbolism which produced variations of the axial
line, and for the actual routine of the builders. The master reason for
orientation, whether equinoctial or solstitial, is to be sought, as we
have seen, in much more primitive times.

A modern theory, propounded by Herr H. Wehner, to account for discordant
axes of buildings, is based upon the belief that the early Freemasons
for centuries possessed, and kept secret, a knowledge of the polarity of
the magnetic needle. Should it be ultimately proved that the builders
employed the magnetic compass, it is urged that we shall have, in the
case of dated churches, a key to the variation of the needle, and,
conversely, for those churches whose date is unknown, a guide to their
age[558]. That other folk, besides the Freemasons, were acquainted with
the compass, is indisputable. A commonly received opinion is, that the
mariner’s compass was introduced to Europe from China about the twelfth
century, probably through the medium of the Arabs[559]. Strong evidence
has, however, been produced to show that the instrument was discovered
independently, or “re-discovered,” in Europe. Among other writers who
refer unequivocally to the compass is the Englishman, Alexander Neckham
(died A.D. 1217), whose description of its properties, as given in two
Latin treatises, is unmistakeable[560]. Hence, from the early thirteenth
century, and perhaps much before that time, the compass may have been
used. But were the builders cognizant of the declination of the needle,
and did they make allowance for it? This is extremely improbable.
Indeed, it is authoritatively stated that the variation with which we
are familiar was discovered by Stephen Burrowes (A.D. 1525-84), when
voyaging between the North Cape of Finmark and Vaigatch[561]. This
voyage would give a date of about the year 1553. The determinations were
afterwards made by Gillebrand, who was professor of geometry at Gresham

If, then, the compass had been employed by masons previous to A.D. 1553,
we should have expected, from their ignorance of its declination,
considerable diversities of alinement. For the changes in declination
have been very remarkable. Particulars are available dating from the
year 1580. In that year, the needle pointed 11° 15´ E.; in 1622, the
angle was 6° E.; while in 1657, there was no declination. By the year
1692, a swing of 6° W. had been attained, this rose to 24° 41´ W. in
1818, from which time the variation has steadily diminished[563]. These
figures show that from 1580 to 1818 the needle has varied in London by
so large an angle as 36° (approx.), and one may reasonably suppose that
during the two or three centuries preceding there were similar
alterations. The use of the compass, together with ignorance of its
declination, would therefore supply a very prosaic explanation of
differences in the axial line of churches.

One further attempt at solution may be mentioned. The Rev. J. Griffith,
as the result of examinations of ancient megalithic monuments, has
submitted that the stones were erected in such positions in order to
give a three weeks’ warning of the coming equinox or solstice (cf. p.
192 _supra_). Arguing from this assumption, and citing the alinements of
churches in corroboration, he suggests that a similar interval of
preparation was provided for in the orientation of some churches. As a
rule--he refers evidently to Welsh examples--the older churches are
found to be oriented for May and November, then come buildings alined
for the equinox. “I find,” he says, “N. 76° or 77° E., and N. 80° or 81°
E., to be rather common orientations[564].” [These figures refer to
azimuths; subtracting the number of degrees from 90°, we get the
“amplitudes,” 13° or 14° N. and 9° or 10° N., respectively. In other
words, Mr Griffith found that many churches are alined at these angles
North of East.] With these figures we may compare those of Hampshire,
already given. The inference to be drawn from the Welsh churches is that
the builders there commenced work at dates rather nearer the equinoxes
than did their contemporaries of the South of England. Mr Griffith’s
interpretation gives us a theory within a theory, and requires much
further study and observation before it can be accepted.

This chapter must not close without an allusion to those curious
examples of churches in which the axes of nave and chancel do not
correspond, but point to different points of the horizon. Such cases are
often loosely described under the general term, “orientation,” but
either they really represent double orientations, or, as some contend,
the buildings were purposely constructed with an angular twist. The
subject is usually treated as if the problem merely concerned the
chancel, consequently, in works on ecclesiology, and in the
semi-popular language of architects and antiquaries, a church possessing
the feature now under consideration is described as having a “weeping,”
“twisted,” “deflected,” or “skew chancel.” Manifestly, these expressions
beg the question, for, unless it can be proved that nave and chancel are
of the same age, and that the Eastern limb was purposely deflected, or
that it was deflected at some subsequent re-building, it is possible
that the nave is the portion which has been mis-alined. Hence we might
equally well speak of a “weeping nave.” The matter is nevertheless
unimportant, so long as we do not tacitly allow the popular term to hide
the possibility of a re-building or a re-orienting of either limb of the
church. By that one phrase, “weeping chancel,” we might be led to credit
the old builders with ideas of which they were utterly unconscious, just

              “Learned commentators view
    In Homer more than Homer knew.”

Glancing down the columns of a convenient note-book, one observes, as
famous examples of deflected buildings, Lichfield cathedral, which leans
to the North, and Canterbury, Ely, and York cathedrals, which incline to
the South. Other cases of Northern deflection are Brent Pelham,
Hertfordshire (“several degrees North of East”); St Michael’s, Coventry;
St Mary’s, York; North Curry, Somerset; St Mary’s, Bridlington, and
Whitby Abbey[565].

The instances of deflections towards the South are much more numerous in
this country. My list includes Bishopstone and Bosham, Sussex; St
Mary’s, Coventry; Holy Trinity, Stratford; Priory church, Tynemouth;
West Malling, Kent; St Andrew’s, Lammas, Norfolk (15°); Chipstead and
Mickleham, Surrey, and many others. Further lists have been compiled
from various sources, but, as the direction of the twist is not usually
specified, it would serve no purpose to reproduce the whole catalogue.

Examples of unsymmetrical churches abound on the Continent, but the
deflection of these is usually to the North. The Southern bend is not
unknown, however, for it is found in the cathedral choirs of Geneva and
Stuttgart. Some French chancels even, contrary to common belief, lean to
the South. Speaking of the deflection of French churches, M. J. K.
Huysmans, in his romance, _La Cathédrale_, says, “This twist in the
church is to be seen almost everywhere--in St Jean at Poitiers, at Tours
and at Reims[566].” M. de Caumont observed the Northerly deflection in
more than a hundred churches of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries,
the examples being widely scattered[567]. The deviation, in the case of
Bayonne cathedral, is at once noticed by the visitor; Mr Baring-Gould
claims this irregularity as the result of English domination and English

Returning to our own churches, we find it necessary to clear the ground
somewhat. On the one hand, we have the estimate given by the able
editors of Durandus, to the effect that probably about one quarter of
our English churches have a deflection, and that it is usually towards
the South[569]. The present writer dare not hazard the opinion that the
proportion is so high, but he feels convinced that the instances are too
numerous to be explainable by chance. But consider an experience of an
opposite kind. About a dozen years ago, Mr G. Watson, of Penrith, stated
that he had examined the plans of nearly four hundred churches as shown
on the Ordnance maps, and found either no deflection at all, or, at
most, a trifling variation[570]. Precisely what constitutes a trifling
variation we are not told, though it may be freely admitted that the
angle is often very slight. Thus, Mr W. J. Maxton and myself found that
the Lady Chapel of St Saviour’s, Southwark, inclined but a degree or two
East of the nave, yet surely, even this trivial deflection could have
been avoided by the architect, had it been desired. It has been
asserted, apparently with some reason, that York cathedral, already
cited as a “leaning” edifice, has no deflection[571], and to this the
reply has been given that the variation would be obvious on a good
ground-plan[572]. There is no need to argue about these examples in
detail, because there exist sufficient cases of undisputed deflection.

The “skew chancel” is not confined to one epoch. Yet it is submitted
that we have no marked examples before A.D. 1200. The feature is most
observable in churches of the time of Edward III. It is said to be
doubtful whether any instance could be adduced from the Renaissance
period of building; the apparent exception in the church St Mary
Magdalen, Taunton, being of later date[573]. That the feature has a
certain fixity is shown in the case of St Aldate, Oxford, where it
exists in spite of the restoration made in 1863[574]. A late example of
the “twisted” ground-plan, which is valueless as regards the present
discussion, occurs in St Peter’s of the Vatican. Here we have a
deflection of some feet, due to an architect’s blunder, when the Greek
cross was formed into a Latin one by prolonging the nave[575].

Admitting, as we are compelled by the facts to admit, that there exist
many undoubted examples of skew chancels, we next look for an
interpretation. Two schools of thought, the symbolist and the
rationalist, are soon encountered. The case presented by the rationalist
group of authorities may be thus summarized; deflection is the result
either of carelessness or of differences in the dates of building the
nave and the chancel respectively. We will consider first the
explanation involved in the question of dates. It is generally believed
that the choir of a church was often consecrated as soon as it was
completed, the consecration of the nave or vestibule being held over
until that part of the building was, in turn, ready for use. For
instance, as Mr Parker pointed out, the Norman choir and transepts of
the earlier Westminster Abbey are known to have been consecrated in
A.D. 1065, but the nave, if one were ever added, was probably not
finished until the twelfth century. Separate alinements may, in such
cases, have been set out, and slight errors have been made during the
operation. Again, in some of the churches which show inharmonious
alinements, the nave and the choir manifestly belong to different
epochs, one or other portion having been rebuilt. The architect of the
later period unconsciously took an orientation which deviated from the
first axis, or, according to the alternative view, he was actually
unable to make the axes correspond. If we assume that he employed a
magnetic compass, there is a third possibility of error in the variation
of that instrument. But all these hypothetical causes of miscalculation
are removed if we attach weight to a simple suggestion which has been
made by one or two writers. It is submitted that the axis of the nave or
the choir, whichever portion was already standing, would probably be
hidden from the mason’s view, through the temporary blocking up of the
chancel arch. This might render harmonious alinement a task of some
difficulty[576]. It has been averred that every case of deflection
occurs in a church which has been partially rebuilt; hence the lack of
agreement. It is difficult to say whether this statement is absolutely
correct, but it seems to be true in many instances. Even so, why are the
misalinements practically confined to re-buildings of the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries?

Again, it is asserted that many cases of deflection were discovered only
when, in modern times, the rood-screen was, for one reason or another,
taken down. In such instances, it is argued, the mason would have his
standard line concealed while setting out the new section of the
building. But, as we shall shortly see, this fact about the rood-screen
may be interpreted in another way. If we accept the Saint’s Day theory,
there remains the possibility of error due to the re-dedication, or
plural dedication, of churches. The difference might then conceivably
originate without any re-building of the fabric. Mr Airy cites the case
of Clapham, Bedfordshire. A better known example, possibly, is found in
Whitby Abbey. The building, as a whole, is dedicated to St Peter and St
Hilda jointly--a fact proved by the Abbey seal. St Peter’s Day is on
the 29th of June, and St Hilda’s on the 25th of August[577]; it was
therefore tentatively submitted that there have been two dedications for
the existing building. At this point we are thrown back on the
“two-period” theory, for the Abbey choir dates from the late twelfth
century, while the nave, which is considered to be the deflected limb,
belongs to the mid-fourteenth century. Yet why should the axis of the
nave lie nine feet North of the choir line? Canon Atkinson, who
carefully investigated this example, expressed the result thus: the axis
of the nave diverges from true East and West by 14°·5, that of the choir
by 9°·7. He adds this statement: “That it was planned so requires no
elaborate proof[578].” The parish church of Whitby, St Mary’s, which is
hard by, and which belongs to the twelfth century, runs exactly parallel
to the Abbey choir. Why, again, assuming the theory of separate
dedications, should the nave be assigned to one saint, and the choir to

This query leads us to consider, for a moment, the subject of dedication
to two, or even three patron saints. Miss Frances Arnold-Forster, in her
_Studies in Church Dedications_, suggests several reasons for “twofold
ascriptions[580].” The two names may represent that of the founder and
that of the patron saint. The Lady chapel or chancel may have been
placed under the invocation of one patron, and the rest of the building
under another. Or, the founder may have deliberately intended to have a
dual dedication. Again, when a church was rebuilt and re-dedicated, a
new name may have taken its place alongside the old; such re-naming is
thought to have been of frequent occurrence, especially in Cornwall.
Lastly, the double dedication may be due to the union and consolidation
of two parishes, as is the case with the large majority of our City

Now, with respect to Whitby, we seem to have obtained a clue to the
dedication difficulty, at least. The Rev. Canon G. Austen, Rector of
Whitby, informs me that the Saxon Abbey was dedicated to St Peter alone.
Though somewhat contrary to popular belief, it must be accepted as a
proof that the ascription to St Hilda was a later addition. Let us
suppose that St Hilda’s name was introduced at one or other of the
rebuildings of the Abbey; and let us assume that there was a second
formal dedication. This admission does not, perforce, imply our
acceptance of the Saint’s Day theory as explaining the discordant
alinements. Else we should expect to find many more cases of deflection
among the churches with double dedications. Nor, again, does the fact of
re-dedication necessarily support the notion that the builder was
incapable of setting out a straight line. In short, the solution
tendered enforces the very difficulties which it professes to dispel. If
it can be clearly shown beyond dispute how the Mediaevalists obtained
their axial line, then the theory that the misalinement is the result of
re-dedication will have to be faced seriously. Until that time comes,
the theory is little more than a fair surmise. As a slight contribution
to the inquiry, and as a possible instance of the architect’s
incapacity, the case of Leatherhead parish church may be cited. Here the
tower is deflected about 3´·6´´ from the axis of the nave, while the
nave diverges from the chancel. The church is dedicated to St Mary and
St Nicholas, but whether there is further connection between the two
facts is uncertain. It was a visit to this church which led Dr J. C. Cox
to refer to “symbolic absurdity,” and the “leaning-head” theory as being
propounded by “ill-instructed persons.” His own explanation of the
divergences is twofold: the “endeavours to obtain the true East at
differing periods of the year,” and “the well-known carelessness of
Mediaeval builders in following out a true square[581].”

We next consider the arguments of the symbolists. Several solutions are
offered by these authorities, though there is no great divergence of
fundamental ideas. The favourite explanation, as just hinted, is that
Christ, while on the Cross, faced Westwards, and that His head leaned
towards the left, or South side. Another school teaches that the
inclination was to the North, and, as we have already seen, such
Continental churches as have varying axes, are deflected towards that
point. In roods, it may be noted, the head is usually made to fall
towards the left[582]. The “leaning-head” theory was accepted by Dr
Rock. M. Huysmans has evidently paid so much attention to this phase of
the question that he may be again quoted. Describing the fine abbey
church of Preuilly-sur-Claise, in Touraine, he declares that the
builders gave life to the stones. In its serpentine line, in the
perspective of its aisles, and the obliquity of its vaulting, the church
gives an allegorical presentment of Our Lord on the Cross, and
perpetuates “the never-to-be-forgotten moment between the ‘Sitio’ and
the ‘Consummatum est’[583].” M. Huysmans mentions, with reserve, the
opinion of some writers, that the bent line occasionally represents the
body of a saint instead of that of the Saviour; thus the curved axis of
St Savin is supposed to be symbolical of the wheel which was the
instrument of martyrdom of the saint[584].

There are not lacking authorities who, like Dr Cox, spurn these theories
as idle fancies. “Symbolism!” exclaimed Welby Pugin, when viewing a
twisted chancel in Leicestershire, “Pack of nonsense: it was because
they didn’t know how to build straight[585].” This summary verdict, told
by a person who heard it delivered, may, however, be countered by an
opinion in the opposite sense, uttered by the same architect, and
equally well attested. Asked about the bend in the nave at Whitby Abbey,
which has just been mentioned, Pugin declared that it signified that the
debt of redemption had been paid; “for, after the Saviour had expired on
the Cross, his head would naturally lean or incline to one side[586].”
Which of Pugin’s two opinions is the earlier cannot be ascertained, but
even if antagonism to the “leaning head” theory were representative of
his maturer judgement, he surely could not pretend that the deflection
can always be ascribed to a blunder. Mr Parker himself, who advanced the
theory that the twist might be due to the consecration of a building
before its completion, admitted that many cases of deflection are
incapable of a constructional explanation[587]. One may well ask whether
the architects who reared our magnificent Gothic cathedrals, edifices
whose every part, when untouched by the restorer, exhibits skill in
design and workmanship, were really unable to build straight. What of
the deflection at St Ouen, in the city of Rouen, a building which
Fergusson enthusiastically declares was “beyond comparison the most
beautiful and most perfect of the abbey edifices of France[588]?” And,
coming to meaner structures, dare we say that a discrepancy of 5° or 10°
is likely to be the result of mere carelessness? One might as reasonably
argue that the existence of a “low side window,” with its deviations of
size, shape, and position, indicates a clumsy arrangement of

Rebutting arguments against the “theory of error” may be urged on broad
grounds. We have seen that in the greater number of instances, our
undeflected buildings bear to the North of the equinoctial point,
indicating, if we suppose a calendar alinement at sunrise, that work was
begun either a little after the advent of spring, or, less probably, a
little before the autumnal equinox. Consider, then, the case of a church
of which one member is to be rebuilt. Under similar conditions of
starting work, the assumed error in direction might be on either side of
the axis. We might perhaps conclude that it would actually tend to be on
the Northern side of that axis--a Northern deviation added to a Northern
deviation--for, in spite of liturgical rules, a liking for summer
orientations (North of East) appears to have been very common. But, not
to press this probability, it is at least claimable that, on a balance
of instances, the deflections, if due to clumsy workmanship, would
range themselves in equal numbers North and South of the earlier
alinement. But the fact remains that the Southern variations form the
rule, and we are driven to the belief that they are Southern by reason
of design.

This leads us to consider an hypothesis which embraces a purpose more
aesthetic than symbolical. Put shortly, this hypothesis is, that the
bend was designed to produce an artistic illusion--a perspective effect
whereby a building appeared to be longer than it actually was. Thus, if
one of the side walls of a church with a “weeping chancel” be viewed
from the Western entrance, an impression of greater length and of
undefined distance is received by the spectator. Again, where a rood
screen exists, the bend in the wall, not a pleasing feature, considered
separately, would be concealed, but a change in the direction in a lofty
roof would still produce an illusion that the church is indefinitely
extended. Moreover, as the beholder caught a glimpse of a portion of the
sanctuary window, which was often richly ornamented, both in form and in
colour, the beauty of the vista was much enhanced. On this hypothesis,
the screen, instead of being the immediate cause of the inclined axis,
was an accessory to a complete design, a feature of which the effect was
foreseen and provided for. To round off this question, it should be
added that not many relics of screen-work exist which belong to a period
earlier than the fourteenth century. A few specimens of thirteenth
century work remain, and doubtless others were swept away at the
Reformation, but most of the examples which have come down to us are
assignable to the fifteenth century[589]. In short, the middle stage of
the development of rood-lofts seems to correspond roughly with the
period in which deflection is most commonly observable. This coincidence
does not, indeed, solve the riddle, since each of the opposing schools
may produce it as testimony.

Seeing that the “aesthetic theory” is unsupported by documentary proof,
evidence must be sought in the possible existence of similar
contrivances associated with other architectural features. Can such
evidence be produced? The reply is in the affirmative. As one enters
certain Egyptian temples, he perceives a gradual transition from light
to darkness. This effect is brought about by the forced ascent of a few
steps, combined with a lowering of the roof; thus the sense of gloom and
mystery increases as the worshipper moves forward[590]. Again, we find
that, in the columns of the Parthenon and other Greek buildings, there
is an entasis, or slight convexity of outline, perchance not more than
the length of a finger nail, yet sufficient to prevent the appearance of
hollowness. The Parthenon is said to possess scarcely a vertical or a
horizontal line throughout the whole design. The columns lean a little
inwards, the corners incline diagonally, the entablature is curved and
recedes in the centre[591]. Such subtle niceties, trivial when taken
singly, prove that, in Classical times at least, the aesthetic phase of
architecture was not ignored. The next question is, Can parallel
instances of design be observed in our own country? The Norman church of
Barfreston, Kent, may be cited. In this building, the axes of the nave
and chancel correspond, but the walls of the chancel are so built that
this portion appears to incline about 5° North. One can hardly find a
rectangle in the plan of the church--“everything is oblique[592],” and
apparently oblique by intention. Again, the South arcade of the nave of
Scarborough parish church has a distinct curve, as if deliberately thus
planned. In the case of Whitby Abbey, before cited, Canon Atkinson
discovered another intentional irregularity. The West wall of the North
transept projects into the interior at least a foot more than does the
East wall. The view, being thus interrupted by the broken line, has a
pleasing effect upon the mind of the spectator. Consider, too, the
churches, to be met with in many a village, in which the pillars and
mouldings of the Northern arcade are simpler than those of the Southern,
the Northern windows less rich in tracery, the specimens of painted
glass more sombre in motive and execution. It will be understood that a
reservation must be made for those churches in which the South arcade
is of slightly later date than the North. The symbolism of the Northern
aspect of Nature must have been clearly appreciated for these conditions
to have arisen (see p. 334 _infra_). Or, take the feature just alluded
to as entasis, by which the optical illusion of hollowness in upright
lines is corrected. Many of our spires exhibit this convexity. Mr
Francis Bond, a high authority on such matters, states that the entasis
probably does not exceed 1 inch for 60 feet in our best examples of
Gothic spires. The important point to notice is, that the curvature
exists as the result of design. True, it has been mooted whether the
bulging is not an incidental consequence of a peculiar method of
building, but this idea is not commonly accepted, nor does it seem to
satisfy the conditions of the problem. Sometimes, as in the Lincolnshire
spires of Caythorpe and Welbourn, and of Glinton (Northants), the limit
just given is greatly exceeded, with results not at all pleasing to the
eye[593]. Caythorpe spire, once grotesque with its “sugar loaf”
protuberance, exhibits the familiar curve even after being shortened and
rebuilt[594]. That there appears to be an artistic necessity for the
convex treatment, or for some equivalent device, is exemplified once
more in the steeple at Louth. There, the impression of concavity is
prevented by increasing the projection of the crockets about one-third
of the way up the spire[595]. Again, there is the artistic disposition
and gradation of ornament, the delicate, enriched carvings being
reserved for the parts of the building near the eye, while a “greater
effective quantity” is provided in the upper parts, as on pinnacles and
parapets. Perhaps the reader will admit that there is no need to press
further the plea of aesthetic artifices on the part of the early
builders. It is, at least, conceivable that our English masons
understood the value and charm of subtle suggestions of spaciousness and
mystery. To elaborate their art, and to conceal it, and to keep

    “This modest charm of not too much,
     Part seen, imagined part,”

may well have been one of the golden rules of the Gothic architect. For
the trained eyes of the sympathetic beholder admire “both what they half
create, and half perceive,” and they will find privileged pleasures in
sublimities of form and colour.

Nevertheless, in the absence of positive testimony that our early
builders were actuated by artistic principles such as those just
described, there is no justification for putting the case a whit more
strongly. Is there, indeed, any evidence at all for the intentional
designing of deflected churches? St Charles Borromeo (A.D. 1538-1584)
has been cited as recommending deflection towards the South, if
deflection be necessary[596]. The reference is probably the result of
misunderstanding St Charles’s meaning, and, in that case, the claim is
vitiated. What the writer actually required was, that the High Chapel
(cappella) should look directly East, equinoctial East. Should dwellings
exist which obscured the view, that fact did not relieve the builder of
his responsibility. If the axis of the building must be turned, it
should be towards the South, and not towards the North. The passage
seems to allude to the church as a whole, not to the High Chapel, but I
admit that there is some little ambiguity[597].

Attention has been drawn by Mr W. F. Hobson to an early allusion to
orientation, involving, as he considers, the principle of deflection
also. The passage occurs in the writings of St Paulinus of Nola, c. A.D.
420. Speaking of a church which he had built, St Paulinus remarks,
“_Prospectus basilicae vero non, ut usitatior mos est, Orientem spectat,
sed ad Domini mei B. Felicis basilicam pertinent Memoriam ejus
aspiciens_[598].” The statement is that the outlook of the church was
not directed towards the East, following the more common practice, but
towards a certain basilica, containing a particular tomb, that of the
martyred presbyter, St Felix. That we have here an early instance of
orientation is manifest, but whether “_aspiciens_” may be interpreted so
as to prove deflection is doubtful. It is, however, possible that while
the church had its general alinement to the sacred basilica, there was a
bend or slant which caused the “chancel”--speaking conventionally--to
face the monument. Mr Hobson urges that, from orientation towards a tomb
and orientation for a Saint’s Day there is but a slight transition[599].

We will now attempt to sum up the evidence. Skew chancels were, in some
cases at least, due to carelessness or unskilfulness. A few deflections
seem to have been caused by the architect’s dislike to build on old
foundations--a prejudice felt by Wren in re-building St Paul’s. The
Saint’s Day theory may hold for some examples, since a few positive
instances of observance, if these can be produced, cannot be nullified
even by many negative exceptions. As to the symbolism of the leaning
head, whimsical though it may at first sight appear, one cannot dismiss
it as mere folly. Mediaeval symbolism was no dead art, and it is visible
in many guises, though to a less extent than its advocates would insist.
Unless, therefore, we are to believe that symbolical explanation is
altogether an after-thought--the creation of cultured ecclesiastics--we
have to find a reason for its existence in Mediaeval days. And, if the
idea be so old as the foundation of our finest churches, we may
conjecture that it received an embodiment in architecture. Lastly, the
theory of artistic design, though least advocated, seems most in
consonance with all the facts. The deflection does cause an agreeable
optical illusion; and it is probable that this was intended. While we
search in vain for some early document to throw a glimmering of light on
the problem, we are bound to consider all tentative solutions
unsatisfactory. He would be a bold man who should unhesitatingly affirm
that one explanation will meet every case, and hardier still would be
the prosaic architect who should dismiss every instance of deflection as
the result of pure chance or blundering ignorance.



When the roaming antiquary stops to watch the sexton dig a grave, he
observes, not for the first time doubtless, that the graves all lie East
and West. To the person whose tastes are not antiquarian, the matter is
quite commonplace and he seldom gives it further thought. Yet, so firmly
is the custom fixed as a popular institution, and so unconsciously is it
obeyed, that it is only when it is perforce disregarded, in crowded
cemetery or churchyard, that one’s feelings receive a slight shock by
reason of the irregularity. Now these unconscious observances carry with
them their certificate of age. For, as John Brand, in the opening words
of his famous book, well declares, concerning such “vulgar rites”: “The
strongest proof of their remote antiquity is that they have outlived the
general knowledge of the very causes that gave rise to them.”

Perhaps there is a little danger of a misunderstanding: it should be
made clear that it is only in modern times that folk have become unable
to give any reason whatever for the custom. The earlier churchmen had an
explanation to tender, though, as we shall see, it was only of secondary
and derivative rank. Further, the rule was, and indeed still is, more
precise in its operation than above stated, for the head of the corpse
is directed towards the West and the feet towards the East. In other
words, the normal disposition of the corpse, according to the ancient
teaching of the Church, is that it shall face the East.

Durandus, who has already been frequently cited, states the rule, and
gives as a reason that the Eastward position is properly assumed in
prayer[600]. Bede explains the arrangement on the supposition that the
Coming of the Great Day and of the “Sun of Righteousness” will be seen
from the East, hence the dead should face the sunrise[601]. The
Scriptural allusion in Zechariah, too, has often been quoted in support
of the practice; the feet of the Messiah, so the verse runs, shall
“stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem
on the East[602].” Larousse, to mention but one more writer, refers to
the injunction, but adds that the bodies of priests, martyrs, and
bishops are laid in a reverse direction--“_caput versus altare_,” so
that they face the West. A curious reason is assigned: churchmen of high
or clerical rank are expected to rise first, and to pass onwards with
the head looking West[603], a strange contradiction of Bede’s

Since the effective force of a rule is tested by its exceptions, we
shall now glance at some breaches of conformity. With such
transgressions of custom one might profitably compare the deliberate
refusal to orient churches, discussed in the preceding chapter. Thus, in
John Aubrey’s _Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme_, we are assured that
most of the ancient graves at Middleton Stoney, Oxfordshire, were made
to lie North and South. Whether this were due to ignorance or to the
spirit of opposition, the author of the statement, Dr White Kennett, was
unable to say. In one of the rare and anonymous “Marprelate” tracts
(A.D. 1589), now familiar to most students through Professor Arber’s
admirable “English Scholar’s Library,” we read that Martin Month “would
not be laid East and West (for hee ever went against the haire) but
North and South: I think,” adds the tractarian, “because ‘_ab aquilone
omne malum_,’ and the South wind ever brings corruption with it[604].”
Martin Month has not lacked followers. Mr Hissey, in his _Over Fen and
Wold_, has recorded a seventeenth century example from Lincolnshire, a
stronghold of Puritanism[605]. William Glanville, who died at Wotton,
near Dorking, in the year 1750, left documentary injunctions requiring,
among other curious details, that he should be buried facing the North.
In a case of infringement of the rule, as related by Brand, the motive,
strangely enough, was not contumacy, but the desire to exhibit a visible
mark of penitence and humiliation[606]. In support of this view,
attention may be called to a stone coffin which is built into an
exterior angle of two walls at Lindisfarne Priory church. The coffin
lies South-East and North-West, and is believed to have held the body of
a monk who had broken his vows.

Thomas Hearne, the antiquary, as befitted a philosopher, ordered that
his executors should determine the true orientation of his grave by
means of a compass (A.D. 1735). This was done, with the result that the
monument appeared to be awry, though the actual error, it is affirmed,
lay in the incorrect orientation of the surrounding graves[607]. One is
inclined to modify this explanation; the divergence was probably caused
by the different modes of orientation, the earlier graves having been
most probably alined by the sun or the church fabric, while that of the
antiquary was set out by the needle, and, it may be, without making
allowance for the declination. In a parenthesis, an analogous case,
which came under the notice of the present writer, may be given. An
oblong kerbing of marble was to be placed around a grave in the
churchyard of Chipstead, Surrey, and the mason was told to take his
alinement from the wall of the chancel. When the task was finished the
kerbing was seen to be out of line with the surrounding graves. Dispute
was followed by a careful test. The kerb was true to the chancel wall,
but, as was then discovered, the chancel itself was askew, when compared
with the nave. Was the twist, then, of a date posterior to that of the
earliest grave-mounds, and were these made parallel with the nave? I
think the answer to the latter question is probably affirmative, but the
puzzle of dates cannot be so readily solved. It is almost certain that
none of the existing mounds is co-eval with the rebuilding or partial
rebuilding of the chancel[608], but again, the present mounds may have
been alined from a succession of earlier ones.

As already suggested, direct infraction of the general rule arrests the
attention; were it not for this, familiarity might make us blind. So
again, one may easily pass by at least two Shakespearean allusions.
“Make her grave straight,” says one sexton to the other, when about to
dig Ophelia’s grave[609], and, though certain commentators have
considered the words to imply “Make it immediately,” there is good
authority against this interpretation. The alternative reading supposes
that the command is to dig the grave East and West. This rendering of
the words seems very reasonable, seeing that they form part of an answer
to the question whether Ophelia shall have Christian burial. “I tell
thee she is: and therefore make her grave straight.” The explanation is
in full accord with the tradition, held in the South-East of England,
that the bodies of suicides were buried in a North and South direction.
The instruction given by Guiderius to Cadwal concerning the apparently
dead body of Imogen is more specific:

    “Nay, Cadwal, we must lay his head to the East;
     My father hath a reason for’t[610].”

The meaning probably is, “Lay his head to face the East”; although the
other interpretation, “Head directed to East, feet to West,” is
possible. At any rate the passage clearly shows that the orientation of
graves was assumed by the poet to have been observed, even in the

A scrap of quaint, but illuminating, evidence comes from the folk-lore
of Wales, where the East wind is called “the wind of the dead men’s
feet[611].” Nor is the practice of orienting graves confined to Britain.
A Scandinavian folk-story makes the grave-diggers, either through stress
of bad weather, or “out of mischief,” bury an unpopular person, one Jón
Flak, in a grave dug North and South. Every night the dead man haunted
the grave-diggers and repeated this verse:

    “Cold’s the mould at choir-back,
     Cowers beneath it Jón Flak,
     Other men lie East and West,
     Every one but Jón Flak,
     Every one but Jón Flak.”

And no rest was obtained until the body was taken up and buried in the
proper position[612]. A study of comparative customs will, however,
furnish us with departures from the British plan, although haphazard
alinements seem to be exceptional. Thus, some Australian tribes allow
the head to front the West, others the East. The Samoans, the Fijians,
and the North American Indians place the head to the East; this was also
the practice of the Peruvians. Some South American tribes and the old
Ainus of Yesso made their dead face the sunrise[613]. Plainly, while all
these instances involve alinement of the corpse, they illustrate the two
opposing ideas mentioned in the last chapter,--that of darkness and
death, connected with sunset, and that of resurrection and new life,
typified by sunrise. Sir Thomas Browne, in his _Hydriotaphia_, remarks:
“The Persians lay North and South: the Megarians and Phoenicians placed
their heads to the East; the Athenians, some think, towards the West,
which Christians still retain. And Beda will have it to be the posture
of our Saviour[614].”

Various Greek authors attest the practice of orienting graves before the
time of Solon (died _c._ B.C. 558)[615]. Setting this evidence aside,
and restricting the inquiry chiefly to our own country, we have good
reason to believe that there has been continuity of custom from the
Saxon period at least. Mr Romilly Allen asserts that the East-to-West
position was usual in the early days of Christianity. Further it was
formerly suggested by Mr Reginald A. Smith that, wherever East-to-West
graves are met with in Saxon cemeteries, they indicate the burial-places
of Christians, in contrast to the tombs of the heathen. But the
discoveries at Mitcham, in Surrey, of a large number of skeletons
carefully orientated, break the rule, since Mr Smith himself shows that
the burials were of pre-Saxon date, while the associated relics point to
pagan interment. Again, a cemetery which was discovered at the Roman
“level” in Bishopsgate Street, London, contained bodies laid East and
West. Since no pagan objects were associated with the skeletons, we may
perhaps conjecture that the burials were those of Christians[616]. But
the most common position of skeletons in Roman cemeteries, according to
Wright, is found to be East and West; usually, though by no means
always, the feet are towards the East[617]. This generalization must now
be considered too confident. There is the further complication that some
of the cemeteries contain burnt, as well as unburnt bodies, suggesting a
mingling of pagan and Christian burials.

We next take the pre-Roman period. Two examples from France will serve
to illustrate one stage. A cemetery at Charvais, belonging to the
earliest Iron Age, contained more than seventy graves, all but two or
three of which were so oriented that the head lay at the West end[618].
Out of five graves excavated at Pleurs, in the department of Marne,
three exhibited a like arrangement[619]. Examples might be multiplied,
so far as the Continent is concerned; the position of the skeleton in
English interments of the Iron Age unfortunately seems not to have been
much noted by investigators. Even the excellent _Guide to the
Antiquities of the Early Iron Age_ does not furnish much information
about British orientation, the main cause, doubtless, being the neglect
of the excavators to record such details. One remarkable interment, at
Kilham, near Driffield, in the East Riding, is worthy of notice. The
grave contained the remains of a man, with the head placed at the West
end; on each side of the body a goat had been laid, with a similar
orientation[620]. Mr J. R. Mortimer, who, in 1897, conducted a series
of excavations at Kilham, gave this summary respecting the disposition
of the skeletons. Of twenty burials, eleven bodies had the head towards
the North, five towards the South, and only four West[621]. At the
Late-Celtic cemetery at Harlyn Bay, Cornwall, the majority of the
skeletons, which were contracted, lay on their left sides, and faced the
East. This evidence, which might be supplemented, plainly shows that the
placing of corpses East and West was not uniformly observed during the
Early Iron Age.

But we must widen the scope of the inquiry, for it is necessary to
remember that the round barrows of the Bronze and Aeneolithic periods,
and the long barrows of the Neolithic Age, were nothing but huge graves.
Mr Mortimer’s excavations in the round barrows of Yorkshire led him to
the conclusion, that, while no rule could be formulated concerning the
alinement of the body, “the most prevalent position of the head [was] to
the West and the East[622].” Canon Greenwell’s explorations revealed a
like absence of regularity in the position of round-barrow skeletons,
though the tables which he furnishes indicate a tendency to an
East-and-West approximation. One of his results is of great interest. He
found that, wherever the head of the skeleton pointed, roughly speaking,
towards the West, the body had generally been laid on its right side;
where the head was towards the East, the body was usually resting on its
left side[623]. The inference has therefore been drawn that the corpse
was made to face, not merely the sun, but the position of the sun in the
sky at the time of burial. This opinion has been widely held until
recent years, but it is now becoming customary to heap ridicule upon
it[624]. The scoffers should, however, in fairness, consider collateral

First, it is well to note an actual record of careful orientations. For
example, it is not contested that, in the round barrows of Wiltshire
there is a strong tendency for the body to face the South[625]. If the
theory just mentioned be correct, the corpse had, in the Wiltshire
graves, been placed with the face towards the midday sun, implying a
possible, but not demonstrable intention, with some fixity of custom.
General Pitt-Rivers, who believed that the Saxons arranged the body with
the head towards the rising sun, examined 31 Saxon graves at Winkelbury.
He discovered that, while the skeleton was always alined towards an
Eastern point, the exact axis varied from E. 19° S. to E. 28° N., but
was usually towards the North. Supposing that his theory were valid, he
admitted, with great candour, that all but two of the bodies must, from
their positions, have been buried in summer. Here, again, we meet a
possible, but certainly not provable, adherence to a custom.

Let us now look at Mr Mortimer’s valuable tables, which are found on the
page of his book to which reference has just been made. From an
examination of 383 interments, Mr Mortimer obtained these results:

Bodies lying on the right side   178
  “      “     “    left side    103
  “      “     “    back          68
  “      “     “    chest          3
Position not known                31

The 31 unascertained positions must be ignored. The 71 instances in
which the body lay on its back or chest are obviously testimony against
the “face-to-sun” hypothesis. Moreover, of the 281 remaining cases, only
61 will be found to have the head pointing North-East, South-East, or in
intermediate directions. At first sight, this summary is fatal to the
theory. But the question is not easily settled. Other details must be
known concerning each individual interment, and these are, to some
extent, lacking. It is evident that a corpse may occupy any one of
numerous linear positions, and may lie on either its right or left side,
and yet face the sun at some time of the day. For the sun constantly
changes its position in the course of its daily journey, and also alters
its points of rising and setting. The consequence is, that a body lying
on its left side might have its head directed to any point from
North-East round to North-West approximately, and nevertheless face the
sun. If we do not know the season, or the hour, of the interment, we
cannot assert that the corpse did not so face the sun. Similarly, if the
deceased tribesman were placed on his right side, he might, broadly
speaking, occupy any position from East round to West, and yet fulfil
the condition. Now the tables show that 245 out of the 281 bodies might
conceivably have been laid as the theory supposes. Mr Mortimer gives
Greenwell’s list for comparison: it supplies details of 234 bodies. Of
these bodies, 112 lay on the right side, and 122 on the left--there is
no reference to other positions. An inspection of the columns reveals
that about 200 cases might support the “face-to-sun” theory.

It would be highly undesirable to press the facts further than is
necessary to appeal for a suspended verdict. The “face-to-sun”
hypothesis was never meant to be more than a possible explanation, but
it has the virtue of accounting for many instances in which the skeleton
lies, not due East and West, or North and South, but obliquely, at some
intermediate horizon. And, at least, the alinement of the head, if not
the face, towards the sun, is not peculiarly a British feature of
prehistoric burials. Among the Tlingits, or Tlinkits, of South Alaska,
the corpse was buried with the head towards the sun, so as to allow the
soul of the deceased person to return; if the body were laid in the
contrary direction, the spirit could never come back. Professor Frazer,
who records this custom, asserts that other totemistic peoples inter
their dead, according to fixed rules, with the head towards particular
points of the compass. Professor E. B. Tylor has also collected abundant
testimony corroborative of such customs. In places widely sundered
geographically there has existed a strong desire to bury the dead “in
the path of the sun[626].” Recently, too, Dr A. W. Howitt has
discovered, just in time, at the Australian station of Wotjo, an
isolated tribe which still preserves the custom. The arrangement of the
head of the corpse is determined by the class and totem of the deceased
person, and the direction is fixed by reference to the rising sun. The
practice is nearing extinction, for, although Dr Howitt was able to
secure sufficient information from the natives to construct a kind of
burial compass, they could give him no reason for the varying
dispositions. The only explanation proffered was: “Oh, that is what our
fathers told us.” Such a man was buried in such a way because he was
“nearer to us” than the others[627]. The folk-memory of this tribe will
soon become a mere echo of tradition, and the task of reconstructing
these primitive burial customs will grow increasingly difficult as each
aboriginal patch of the earth’s surface becomes influenced by

Respecting graves themselves, we readily perceive that a round barrow,
from its very nature, cannot be normally oriented. But in the British
long barrows, usually accepted as the earlier kind, the long axis
generally runs East and West. The broader end of the mound, where the
sepulchral deposit is, as a rule, discovered, is directed towards the
East[628]. So that, during the Neolithic period, some broad principle of
orientation was observed, the constraining motive being probably
connected with sun-worship.

Orientation in barrow burials having been considered, one is easily led
to discuss an allied subject, in part connected with interments, in part
not so strictly related, yet tinged with like primitive ideas. This
topic is the orientation of megaliths and ancient earthworks, and it has
been so prominently put forward by Sir Norman Lockyer that no
archaeologist can pretend to be alert and watchful who has not, to some
extent, followed the discussion. Hence a notice, however slight and
imperfect, is demanded. Sir Norman Lockyer has made careful
triangulations and measurements in connection with the prehistoric
monuments of Cornwall, Wiltshire, and other counties, and his general
conclusion is, that the axes of these monuments, and their mutual
geographical relations, were carefully determined by their constructors.
The assumption having been made that the monuments were originally
alined to sunrise, the problem has been to calculate when that
arrangement could have existed, because now, owing to the alteration of
the inclination of the earth’s equator with regard to the ecliptic, the
solstitial points have considerably shifted their positions. Stonehenge,
which Sir Norman Lockyer considers to have been a solstitial temple, was
accurately alined by astronomical means when erected. He believes that
the original alinement of the circles was adapted (_c._ B.C. 2200) to a
“farmer’s year,” May to November; but that, about B.C. 1600, a new cult
was introduced, probably from Egypt, and the lines of orientation were
changed to harmonize with a June-to-December year[629]. The
investigation has also been applied to other monuments, and it is
claimed that not only can we determine to what star a particular
megalith was originally oriented, but, as a consequence of this
determination, we can discover the approximate date also of the erection
of the stones[630]. To any one who, like the present writer, is not a
skilled practical astronomer, the evidence is difficult to handle, for
the actual observations and measurements must, of necessity, be
implicitly accepted. Yet, on general grounds, one cannot avoid the
thought that the assumptions are not self-evidently true, and that even
if this were the case, the theory is pushed much further than seems
reasonable. These objections have been raised by several writers, and
the views of Sir Norman Lockyer have been exposed to severe, and,
apparently, disintegrating criticism[631]. It is but fair to add that
these rebutting arguments have been met by rejoinders, though of varying
value. Do we urge that the theory, with the minute measurements which it
involves, presupposes too high a state of culture for those early times,
too deep a knowledge of astronomy, too complicated a system of religion
or worship? We are met by the enunciation of another hypothesis, that
the Druids of Caesar’s time, admittedly men of some learning, were the
descendants of astronomer-priests of a more ancient British
civilization[632]. Do we ask for proof of re-orientation, as a result of
the immigration of a new race of men? We are thrown back on a further
series of intricate astronomical data, reinforced by similar details
relating to Egyptian temples. It may be that the objector has some
misgivings as to the exactitude of the orientation of these very
temples--that is a small matter--but he would like to know the reason
for placing our rough, unhewn cromlechs and menhirs in the same
category. To the general archaeologist, the comparison between our rude
“amorpholiths” and an elaborate Eastern temple is not just. Such a
person asks questions about the instruments which the builders of the
megaliths may have used in their observations, about the possible
obstacles which may have blocked out of view portions of the horizon,
about the difficulty in ascertaining which standard line was used, where
all the monoliths are so crude and irregular. Again, which was
considered the time of sunrise--the moment when the sun’s rim peeped
above the horizon, or when his centre was clearly visible? Each position
has been assumed, the one in England, the other in Egypt. In the ages
when not even the Julian calendar had been invented, could primitive
folk know, for certain, the exact date of the solstice? In England, the
sun rises on the slant: where was the observer’s eye placed in relation
to that oblique line? In one Cornish instance, at least, it has been
asserted that the stones from which the alinement had been taken cannot
be seen from the central group of stones[633]. And of Sidbury Hill,
which was deemed so important in the Stonehenge measurements, Dr T. Rice
Holmes declares that it cannot be seen from that monument, only the
trees on its summit being visible[634].

Somewhat in accord with the conclusions of Sir Norman Lockyer, but by no
means in total agreement, are the theories propounded by the Rev. J. W.
Hayes, of West Thurrock. Mr Hayes, who has made a close study of
stone-circles, especially with regard to their use in Gorseddau and
other assemblies, has kindly permitted me to read his unpublished
papers, and to glean therefrom such information as is germane to the
present question. It is manifestly impossible to give more than the
briefest summary of the evidence, or to enumerate the miscellaneous
documents, written and printed, which Mr Hayes has consulted. The
leading idea is, that the stone-circles were first erected to serve as
indicators of seasons. By means of these “dials,” the priestly caste
determined the times of fasts and feasts. In spring, there were
sacrifices to ensure bountiful crops. Before entering upon a war, there
were offerings to propitiate the gods and thus to win success. A
comparison is made between the old festivals and our own Easter--itself
a pagan feast originally, and still depending on the moon for the exact
date of its observance. Analogies are also drawn from the customs of the
Jews, the Romans, and the Egyptians. The outstanding menhirs connected
with stone-circles are considered to have been intended to provide
sight-lines, while the trilithons of Stonehenge, it is suggested, marked
out sky-spaces. It is interesting to note, in passing, that Professor W.
Gowland has recorded the use of wooden trilithons by modern Japanese
sun-worshippers, for determining the position of the sun and of sacred

It will be inferred that Mr Hayes’s theory makes the sacrificial use of
the circles subsidiary to a primary astronomical and judicial purpose.
Yet he takes note that the old Irish name for a cromlech--the accepted
term among modern writers for a “stone-ring”--was _siorcal leacht_, or
“circle-stone-of-death.” In old Irish manuscripts such circles are
always associated with pagan priests or druids. The sepulchral aspect of
stone-circles, however, seems to be largely ignored by the modern school
of investigators.

Mr Hayes lays stress upon a singular fact, the true explanation of which
has long been an enigma--the frequent occurrence of a definite number of
pillars in the stone-ring. Nine is not an uncommon number in England,
though it is recorded from Ireland and Germany. (The stones of the Nine
Maidens, near St Columb Major, in Cornwall, form a row, not a circle.)
The cromlechs of Boscawen-ûn and the Dawns Mên, in Cornwall, of
Whitemoorstone Down, Dartmoor, as well as the inner “horseshoe” at
Stonehenge, have nineteen uprights. Thirty, again, is the tale of some
circles, as in the outer ring of sarsens at Stonehenge. The group of
nine is puzzling, but the arrangement of nineteen is held to represent
the metonic, Indian, or lunar cycle of the astronomers. After the lapse
of nineteen years, the sun and moon occupy relatively the same positions
as at the commencement of the cycle, so that full moon and new moon
recur on the same days of the months as before. Whether this
astronomical explanation of the number nineteen can be proved or not,
one curious feature deserves notice. The circles which show nineteen
stones have a gap towards the East, and no explorations have hitherto
brought a twentieth stone to light.

It further appears that the old Gorsedd circles (p. 98 _supra_)
consisted of twelve stones, set 30° apart, and said to represent the
twelve signs of the Zodiac. The circles reared at the annual Eisteddfod
by the neo-Druidic cult are arranged similarly. Besides the twelve
pillars, three outstanding menhirs were fixed at the North-East, East,
and South-East respectively so that the sun’s rays at the solstices, or
the equinoxes, as might be, fell on the central stone, or “chair” within
the circle. And, by a strange coincidence--or is it due to
imitation?--another plan of the Gorsedd circle, as preserved in ancient
manuscripts, gives nineteen stones, with a gap towards the East. In this
case, eight outstanding pillars were erected, so as to indicate, by
shadows or rays, (1) the summer and winter solstices, (2) the old
May-December agricultural year, (3) the equinoxes, and, possibly, (4)
other solar and lunar periods.

The weakness in the foregoing theories seems to lie in the assumption,
up to the present unproved, that the primary purpose of the cromlechs
was to serve as places of assembly. True, the convocations are supposed
to have been hedged with much ceremony, to which the stones were
accessory. But, dealing with circles, are we not liable to argue in a
circle? Until the prime purpose of the cromlechs is ascertained, the
student is forced back like the turnspit in _Hudibras_:

    “And still he’s in the selfsame place
     Where, at his setting out, he was.”

Were the stone-rings first erected for worship, and did the later
conveners of Gorseddau, retaining faint memories of ancient usages,
cling to the traditional system of orientation and astronomical
measurement? Or were the cromlechs primarily intended for open-air
meetings, which were afterwards invested by the priests with a religious
character? Or, again, were the circles first of all astronomical, and
the assemblies, features of later times? Minor theories may be
neglected, although, in the present condition of the evidence, even
these might claim recognition.

Setting aside the modern Druidical ceremonies, as having a parentage no
older than the sixteenth or seventeenth century, there remain the more
ancient Gorseddau. The evidence regarding these, for the past 1500
years, notably with respect to the practice of orientation and the use
of “pointers” to indicate the seasons, is weighty, and cannot be ignored
by the impartial student. But the grand difficulty remains. We cannot
yet bridge over the interval between oral tradition and written history,
between the builders of the Bronze and Early Iron Ages and the bards of
the Arthurian period. It is quite possible that folk-memory was
effective during that dim period, but it is equally possible that the
cromlechs became gradually diverted from their original purpose, whether
sepulchral, astronomical, or other. This diversion would be a natural
process when the functions of priest and lawgiver became more
differentiated. The religious ceremonies which accompanied legislative
and judicial meetings would tend to conceal the change which had

Sir Norman Lockyer considers the whole question of Gorsedd circles so
important, that, in the second edition of his work (1909), he has
devoted a special chapter to the subject. Should it be finally
established, beyond cavil, that Gorsedd circles have been frequently
erected throughout the period which extends from the fifth century of
our era until the present day, there will be a fair claim for
continuity, if not of function, yet of habit, from prehistoric times.
But there will also arise a grave suspicion whether some of the
cromlechs, hitherto ascribed to prehistoric peoples, may not, after all,
be the more permanent Gorsedd circles of a later date. We cannot forget
the misleading stone-circle set up at Pontypridd no farther back than
fifty years ago, by the “Arch-Druid” of that time, Myfyr Morganwg (or
Myvyr Morgannwg); nor the sham “Druidic structure,” raised in the
neighbourhood of Pateley Bridge, in Yorkshire, about thirty years

Having uttered these objections, and having implied the necessity of
slow-moving circumspection, one cannot think that the boundary of
knowledge has yet been reached. Frequently, excavations reveal little
more evidence than was already suspected after critical external
examination. If then the archaeologist and the astronomer can find
agreement in common premisses, the theodolite may indeed help the spade
and atone for its limitations. While feeling persuaded that our
megalithic monuments were never alined with such nicety that the
orientation can be expressed in seconds, one can still understand that
they may have been set out with greater accuracy than is commonly
supposed. When we recollect, too, that many of our megaliths had at
first probably a sepulchral purpose, we shall see no sufficient reason
why they should not have been planned, at any rate, as skilfully as
funeral earthworks.

The Rev. J. Griffith, indeed, carries the orientation theory further,
and applies it to primitive earthworks of a general character--those
which are popularly known as camps and forts. Speaking of Burrington
Camp, Somerset, he claims that its Southern bank is oriented to the
equinox, and that another bank corresponds both to the sunset line at
the summer solstice, and to sunrise at the winter solstice. He adds that
the star alinement of this earthwork has been “worked out” by Sir Norman
Lockyer to Arcturus. Castle Dyke, near Aysgarth, Yorkshire, gives
indications of an alinement either to Alpha Centauri or to Capella[635].

These much-canvassed theories have led us away from our highroad, yet
the digression was really slight, seeing that many of our megaliths mark
the position of early burial-places. It is not asserted that all our
ancient stone monuments are of this character, but some, at least, of
those which are claimed as “temples,” were primarily graves; hence they
come under our survey. Here, too, it seems fitting to notice another
matter, dependent to some extent on the orientation of graves, and
illustrative of the persistency of unconscious folk-memory.

The modern sexton, having filled up the grave, banks up the surplus soil
in the form of a long, neatly-finished mound. Is there any obvious
reason why he should do this, instead of spreading out the remaining
earth until all is level? The explanation of positive necessity is not
admissible: I have noticed one churchyard in which mounds are not
raised, just as, in two or three other instances, all the tombstones are
laid in a horizontal position. The popular belief, if it is found to
exist, ascribes the mound to an economical cause--the advantage of
banking up some soil to prevent the shallow depression which is the
after result of subsidence. But this does not account for the oblong
mound with curved ends--a shape which does not altogether correspond
with that of the pit which is being closed. Nor does it explain the
careful turfing-over which sometimes follows, nor the masonry or coped
tombstone which is frequently designed to preserve the accepted form of
the mound.

The only satisfactory answer to the question, so far as competent
authorities have yet discovered, is that the modern grave-mound is the
shrunken representative of the long barrow, the features having been
retained because of the inertia of social custom, and because inveterate
imitation is easier than new experiment. It is noteworthy that the
modern mound is often so large as to be unsightly. The size is
especially increased in places where, as in the little Huguenot burying
ground at Wandsworth, the pile is surmounted by a “box” tomb of brick or
stone. (These mounds are not, however, comparable in size to that of
Chislehurst, p. 76 _supra_.) To the late Mr Grant Allen belongs, I
believe, the chief credit for the barrow theory, the conclusion having
been forced upon him by long study of the comparative burial customs of
primitive folk[636]. Thomas Wright had earlier classed the Saxon barrow
as the prototype of the modern grave-mound; and, in the eighteenth
century, Hearne had remarked, concerning tumuli and churchyards: “But
now the straitness of [churchyards] will not permit such _aggeres
consecratos_, as some terme them, to be made there.”

The proposed interpretation involves the assumption that the practice of
barrow-burial, in the sense of raising a tumulus of some kind over the
dead, has never completely died out in our country. Link by link, as we
pass onwards from the Neolithic period, through the Bronze and Iron
Ages, and include the Romans, Saxons, and Danes in our survey, we
discover that this claim can be made good. The chief difference between
the ancient practice and that of our own day lies in the fact that
mound-burial is now almost universal, at least throughout our country,
while in former ages it was not quite so general. One may hazard the
opinion that mound-burial may have been markedly the exception in
prehistoric times. The great ones of the land were truly laid under
these earthen monuments, but in what manner the great masses of the
poorer folk were buried we may never know. Perhaps these humbler members
of the community were interred in much the same way as nearly the whole
of the present population may expect to be interred; that is, a hole was
dug in the ground, and perhaps a tiny tumulus was heaped above the
buried corpse. But the mound was not always raised, especially when
cremation came into fashion. The question need not be here complicated
by a consideration of the evolution of the coffin, since some remarks
will be made on this subject later. An instance or two will tend to
confirm the opinion just expressed. Dr T. Rice Holmes has collected
numerous records to show that there were moundless graves during the
Bronze Age[637]. Such graves were dug in caverns, or sunk on the chalk
downs, or in other soils near a settlement. Doubtless, other examples
remain yet to be discovered. The reader will, however, note that, except
in the case of caves, the original absence of a mound cannot always be
absolutely proven; the forces of Nature, aided by the plough, may have
obliterated the external signs of burial. During the Early Iron Age,
mounds appear to have been even less general than in the preceding
period. Thus, several pit-burials have been recorded from Hagbourne
Hill, near Didcot, Berkshire[638], and from the celebrated “urn-field”
at Aylesford, Kent, which dates from _c._ B.C. 50[639]. For the
intervening Roman period, there is no need to cite examples, since they
abound, and of the Anglo-Saxon burials, it may be sufficient to state
that in various localities (Cambridge, Northampton, Gloucester,
Wiltshire), groups of graves have been found in such close proximity
that the tumuli, if they ever existed, must have been of small

All through these centuries, nevertheless, barrow-burial had persisted.
Nay, more, the barrows were often collected in groups, representing the
prototypes of our modern cemeteries. The classic example of such
clusters is seen in the barrows around Stonehenge; within a circuit of
three miles it is said that there are about three hundred barrows[641].
Another illuminating record is that of the collection of barrows known
as the Danes’ Graves, near Kilham, on the Wolds of Yorkshire. Not fewer
than 500 graves once existed here, “massed together as in a modern
churchyard, not isolated as in the Bronze period[642].” Mr J. R.
Mortimer found that the burial-mounds of East Yorkshire fell readily
into clusters, some of which contained so many as thirty or more
individual barrows. From Mr Mortimer’s conclusion that the ground-plans
of these groups agree with the outlines of certain of the heavenly
constellations, notably with that of Charles’s Wain, we must, however,
withhold assent. The Stonehenge barrows are grouped, not actually
“massed.” Other groups of tumuli might be given; we will merely mention
those interesting cases where one or two large barrows are connected
with collections of tiny mounds; the smaller ones, perhaps, representing
the resting-place of the poorer tribesmen[643]. It would be safe to
assert that most of the small barrows have ere now been long levelled
down. Of the larger mounds not a tithe of the original number remains.

The clusters of barrows, one may consider, led indirectly to the
Christian cemeteries. At first, as stated in a sermon by St Chrysostom
(A.D. 403), the Christian communities had their cemeteries outside the
walls of cities[644]. Interment in churchyards was not a primitive
practice, and was prohibited by the decrees of early church councils.
The custom gradually crept into use about the sixth century[645], the
innovation appearing first in connection with monastic settlements. By
the time of St Cuthbert (_c._ A.D. 742) the practice was becoming well
known, the bones of pious men and martyrs being actually admitted within
the building itself[646]. To such an extent did the practice grow, that
the floors of churches often became too uneven for walking over. As a
parenthesis, we note that the early ban against churchyard burial must
not be interpreted as contradicting the probability of the building of
churches near older Christian cemeteries.

Scandinavia was apparently in a state of transition from barrow burial
to small-mound burial at a later date, namely, during the Viking Age
(A.D. 700-1000). At that period it became the habit to make low barrows
for the poorer folk, the “warrior houes” being reserved for the families
of powerful chieftains[647]. And one cannot doubt that the collaterals
of the Scandinavians--the Anglo-Saxons--developed their burial customs
along similar lines. In addition, it must be remembered that these
latter peoples, when settled in England, had a marked predilection for
burial in the older and larger barrows which they found already in
existence. Such “secondary burials” are familiar to the archaeologist,
and are discriminated by the level and posture of the skeletons, as well
as by the associated objects. When the conversion of the people to
Christianity became more general, such practices were discountenanced.
Down to the eighth century, however, it was usual to bury the
illegitimate offspring of nuns and others in these older mounds.

The Capitularies of Charlemagne (A.D. 789) order the burial of
Christians in cemeteries, and expressly forbid the pagan practice of
barrow-burial: “_Jubemus, ut corpora Christianorum Saxonum ad
coemiteria_ [al. _coemeteria_] _Ecclesiae deferantur, et non ad tumulos
paganorum_[648].” The burial-ground soon became known in Germany as
“Gottes-acker” (God’s Acre). This change, too, completed the break
between cremation and simple burial of the corpse. Orientation of graves
now became a fixed rule. Keysler suggests, and his view has since been
largely upheld, that the transfer of custom was due to the doctrine of
the Resurrection, as epitomized in I Cor. xv. 5 et seqq. and St John
xii. 24[649]. In other words, the new religion discouraged cremation,
and enjoined simple earth burial, thus curiously reviving the primitive
habit (cf. p. 264 _infra_).

If we desire, to-day, to see folk who represent the transitional stage
of culture which connects the large tumulus with the smaller and more
insignificant mound, we may visit the natives of the Pandsh valley, in
the district of the Pamirs. Recently it has been discovered by Olufsen
that these “equine-faced” folk raise a burial-mound over the dead, and
surround it by high stones or a clay wall, according to the social
standing, riches, or holiness of the deceased man[650]. The
distinctions of rank have ever been preserved by the tomb, in spite of
proverbial wisdom.

Reverting to the “mould’ring heap” of which Gray sings in his _Elegy_,
it may fairly be asked why the mound should be long and not round. A
decisive answer cannot be tendered. It is worth considering,
nevertheless, whether this shape does not represent a “throw-back” to
Neolithic custom. The round barrows which fell under the Christian ban
enclosed the relics of burnt or partially burnt bodies. The long
barrows, which, with some possible exceptions[651], are believed to be
of earlier date, were raised over corpses which had not been cremated.
Now, if it be true, as Mr Grant Allen supposed, that the shape of the
circular tumulus was determined by the cinerary urn around which it was
piled, while the form of the long barrow depended on the subjacent
chambered tomb--the underground home or palace of the dead
person[652]--we begin to see a glimmer of light. For the subterranean
chamber, being intended to hold an uncremated corpse, would be roughly
adapted to the form of the human body. In like manner, when inhumation
was again enforced, there would be an unconscious return to the use of
the long mound. As if to show once more that no rule is of universal
application, certain exceptions must be recorded. In some village
churchyards, a few round mounds are interspersed with the long ones.
Occasionally, the round mounds may be explained by the division of a
long mound caused by the tread of careless feet, repeated throughout
several generations. That this is not always the reason, is plain to the
observant eye. Do these mounds represent the graves of children, or of
unbaptized infants? On the Sussex coast, the graves of drowned sailors
are said to be thus distinguished. Once again, why should it be
customary, as in some churchyards of Dorsetshire and the Isle of Wight,
to make the long mounds of unusual size?

A fact of some little interest, though it has no scientific bearing on
our theme, is that the late Professor Tyndall’s grave, in Haslemere
churchyard, Surrey, is a round tumulus, clad with bracken and heather.
The memorial took this unpretentious form in accordance with the
expressed wish of the philosopher himself. Through the kindness of Miss
Truda Hutchinson, I am enabled to give an illustration (Fig. 51) of the
mound. For the purpose of comparison, a round barrow situated at
Henley-on-Thames is shown (Fig. 52).

[Illustration: FIG. 51. Tyndall’s grave, Haslemere churchyard, Surrey. A
modern round barrow.]

We have seen that orientation, as we know it, was not strictly observed
in the burials of prehistoric folk, while, in our day, it is all but
universal. Contrariwise, what was originally a common feature--the
placing of the corpse in a crouched or sitting posture--is now decidedly
exceptional, being restricted to the

[Illustration: FIG. 52. Round barrow, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.]

burials of very eccentric or very pious persons[653]. Interment in an
upright position has not, however, been of infrequent occurrence. Ben
Jonson was so buried at Westminster. The case of the Hobarts, who are
buried in a brickwork vault at Blickling, Norfolk, is also often cited.
The vertical position was formerly adopted for the interment of captains
in the army[654]. The body of Clement Spelman, Recorder of Nottingham,
was immured (A.D. 1679) in a pillar in Narburgh church[655]. Many other
curious vagaries of custom might be given; one or two instances must
suffice. Surrey folk are familiar with Leith Hill Tower, under which lie
the remains of Mr Richard Hull, who died in 1772, and whose peculiar
opinions led him to stipulate burial in this elevated region[656]. In
another instance, a corpse was buried within a flint pyramid at the top
of a fir-clad hill near Great Missenden, in Buckinghamshire. A chapter
might easily be filled with such particulars, but enough has been said
to show that, amid all these eccentricities of habit, there is often an
unwitting reversion to primitive methods. The similarities have been
revealed only by the labours of the barrow-digger and the antiquary. Not
only has the practice of orientation been found to have a very ancient
descent, but many quaint usages, ofttimes deemed abnormal, have proved
to be genuine survivals. In the next chapter some of these survivals
will be considered. Not a little pathos is associated with our knowledge
of these details. Bones which had “quietly rested under the drums and
tramplings of three conquests,” have been unromantically disturbed by
the busy archaeologist, and compelled to yield their secret. One cannot
withhold sympathy from the investigator who had obtained permission to
open a certain barrow, but who pondered and procrastinated, viewing,
with indulgent eye, the even outline of the grassy mound. Day by day his
pity for the sleeping warrior increased, and he hesitated to thrust his
spade into the wind-swept turf, until the opportunity for work had
slipped away. One admires the spirit, yet to widen the limits of
knowledge that spirit has to be sadly, though judiciously, corrected.



A discussion of burial customs might, in the absence of a little careful
selection of material, tend to become rather gruesome. This may be
conceded at the outset, but, fortunately, an impersonal treatment is
possible, and one need not even imitate the mournful example of “Old
Mortality.” There is nothing morbid in a dispassionate review of customs
which, in all ages and among all peoples, seem to have been general,
because born of that vicissitude which is the common lot of man.
Perhaps, in some measure, the antiquary may be able to reach the
standard of stoicism set up by John Earle: “His grave does not fright
him [the antiquary], because he has been used to sepulchers, and he
likes Death the better, because it gathers him to his fathers[657].”

Already we have spoken of the orientation of graves, and the degradation
of the barrow to the grave-mound. Several kindred matters must now
receive attention, and in a later chapter, when chariot-burial is
considered, our eyes will again be turned backward. For customs are like
crystals with several facets; to get a true perception we must, in each
case, frequently change our point of view.

A few more instances of the development of funeral monuments may be
first noted. It has been shown elsewhere that the churchyard headstone
may be traced back, step by step, to the unhewn menhir set up by
primitive man on some bleak moorland. Within the last two or three
years, there have been discovered in France and Italy remarkable
connecting links, in the so-called “statue-menhirs,” prehistoric stones
rudely carved


     FIG. 53. Inscribed, ornamented, round-headed cross, Sancreed
     churchyard, Cornwall. In the head of the cross is a figure of Our
     Lord in relief. The shaft is decorated with interlaced work, and
     contains a panel with an imperfect inscription.

to represent the human head and trunk[658]. The evidence derived from
observing the gradual evolution is corroborated by strange cases of
survival. Thus in St Martha’s churchyard, near Chilworth, Surrey, low
headstones, untouched by any tool, have been set up in considerable
numbers. The slabs are merely masses of ironstone dug out of the Lower
Greensand of the hill on which the church is built. Pursuing another
line of descent, Mr J. Romilly Allen claimed that a similar kind of
coarse monolith had developed into the “wheel-cross” and the
“free-standing” cross of Christian churchyards[659] (Fig. 53 and Fig.
62). The dolmen, or “stone-table,” a familiar prehistoric monument, has
been replaced by the family vault and the altar-tomb, the ossuary of
Brittany, the flat tombstone of the village graveyard, and the
sarcophagus of the cathedral[660]. The cromlech, a circle of upright
stone pillars, is by some believed to have been the forerunner of the
temple and the round church[661]; but this claim may be waived, as not
fully proven (cf. p. 99 _supra_). More plausible is the theory that the
rude, unfashioned grave-stake is represented to-day by the humble wooden
cross of our cemeteries[662]. Each of these examples of unconscious
imitation and modern survival might be examined at some length, but the
theories which they illustrate are now so familiar as to be commonplace.
Not quite so well known is the theory that we have derived our custom of
placing shrubs on graves from our heathen forefathers of the Bronze Age,
who were wont to plant trees on their burial mounds[663]. Mr Grant Allen
argued, with some reason, that the pine-trees so frequently found on
round barrows in the South of England are survivors of those placed
there by the first mound-raisers, since the Scottish pine is not now
indigenous to that tract of country[664] (cf. p. 401 _infra_).

Attempts have been made to connect the noun “barrow” with the verb “to
bury,” but the relationship cannot really be upheld. The primary notion
involved in “barrow” was that of a height, while “to bury” was
associated with concealment or covering. The word “barrow,” it may be
remarked, went out of use in English literature before A.D. 1400, but it
survived locally in dialects, and was ultimately taken back into the
nomenclature of archaeology[665]. But, though philology forbids us to
bind these two words together, the actual continuity between
mound-burial and pit-burial, as we have seen, has never been completely
broken. Something has been said about the later development of barrows
and megaliths; it is now desirable to trace the earliest representatives
of our wooden coffin. To begin with, we notice that coffins did not come
into universal use until a little over two centuries ago. This is proved
by numerous terriers and by minutes of parish vestries. In London, it is
true, burial in the simple winding-sheet seems to have been discarded so
far back as the early years of Elizabeth, but in remote districts the
custom lingered much later. Thus in the Isle of Man, down to the early
part of the eighteenth century, the bodies of the poor were wrapped in a
blanket fastened with a skewer, and were carried on a bier to the grave.
A hundred years afterwards, coffinless burials survived to a
considerable extent in county Wexford. Sir R. Phillimore quotes Lord
Stowell’s dictum that funerals were either “coffined” or “coffinless,”
and were charged for accordingly. The use of coffins is extremely
ancient, but at first the custom was by no means common[666]. There
appears, in fact, to have been no real uniformity in this, as in many
other practices, since the earliest days of English Christendom. And in
this lack of system we find at once an approximation to the customs of
the barrow period, when corpses were either enclosed, or buried without
a cist, the exact reason for the difference of treatment being not
always explicable by the general ideas held at the time.

Lest there should still be any doubt of the antiquity of coffins, it is
necessary to recall those coffins of the Middle Ages (Fig. 54), often
hewn out of a single block, and familiar to persons who have inspected
the relics of ruined abbeys and the nooks and corners of our existing
parish churches. These stone coffins are obviously the representatives
of prehistoric tombs, though they may not be in the true British line of
descent. Rather do they suggest the Roman coffins of stone, lead, or
brick (Figs. 55 B, 56). Occasionally, Roman coffins of stone are


     FIG. 54. Mediaeval stone coffins. A. From Wellesbourne churchyard,
     Warwickshire (Bloxam’s _Mon. Archit._). There is a hole in the
     bottom of the coffin, as in the prehistoric specimen from
     Gristhorpe (Fig. 55 B). An almost exact replica of this coffin may
     be seen in the Guildhall Museum, London, associated with a
     thirteenth century lid bearing a foliated cross. B. From Eynesford
     church, Kent. This specimen has a raised head-rest.

found, covered with a lid of undoubted Saxon workmanship, proving that
there had been a re-adaptation. We note, in passing, that the stone
coffin must be carefully distinguished from those hog-backed or coped
stones which were employed as grave covers in early Christian times, and
to which Mr Romilly Allen assigned a Saxon or Scandinavian origin[667].
With respect to the wooden coffin, commonly adjudged as of Christian
design, there is occasionally some difficulty. At Colchester, wooden
coffins have been found associated with leaden ones,


     FIG. 55. A. Prehistoric coffin, formed of a hollowed oak trunk,
     found in a barrow at Gristhorpe, near Scarborough. The bark is
     still adhering to the timber. A hole (3´´ × 1´´) has been cut in
     the bottom of the coffin. The relics indicated that the grave
     probably belonged to the Bronze Age. (After T. Wright.)

     B. Roman coffin of baked clay, Aldborough, Yorkshire. (After T.
     Wright.) The shapes of such coffins are rather variable.


     FIG. 56. Roman coffin of lead, found at Colchester. Length 4´ 3´´;
     depth, exclusive of lid, 9½´´; width at head 15´´, at foot 11´´.
     The lid has overlapping edges. The decoration consists of scallop
     shells, concentric rings, and lines of beaded ornament.

and have been taken to indicate a Christian element among the
population. In connection with the leaden coffins were found Roman
coins, mainly, of the Constantine group, so that the burials were of
late date. Yet, although there were probably many converts in that part
of England by the time of the Diocletian persecution, A.D. 303, Mr Guy
Maynard, who records the discoveries, admits that there is little
corroborative evidence of the Christian character of the graves[668].
Looked at from either standpoint, the association of coffins and coins
seems to show a period of transition.

We are able, however, to extend our view much beyond the Roman invasion,
and to find the counterpart of the coffin in many primitive burials.
Some of the stone cists which enclosed unburnt bodies of the older
Bronze Age barrows are actually described as “coffin-shaped
receptacles[669].” A Bronze Age barrow at Hove, Brighton, contained an
oak coffin in which objects of bronze, stone, and amber had been
deposited with the skeleton[670]. Belonging to the same period was the
famous barrow of Gristhorpe, near Scarborough; in this example the
interment had been made in a hollowed oak trunk, specially prepared for
the purpose[671] (Fig. 55 A). King Barrow, near Wareham, Dorset, was
found to be raised over a coffin, wherein a cup of shale had been
deposited with the body[672]. Mr J. R. Mortimer asserts that traces of
wooden supports for protecting the body are often found. In a barrow at
Easington, in Holderness, broad slabs, made from the trunk of a willow,
formed the covering. It would be superfluous to continue the list, but
should the reader desire to examine further material in justification of
the plea of continuity, he will find ample opportunity in Mr Llewellynn
Jewitt’s interesting volume[673].

The Roman and pre-Roman periods have been considered; we turn to the
Romano-British burials, and proceed in the forward direction.

Gen. Pitt-Rivers discovered “dug-out” coffins at Woodyates, and other
sites in Cranborne Chase, and he inferred the former existence of
further specimens by the presence of nails which were associated with
the burials. To ascertain whether the record can be extended into later
historical times, we might turn especially to our Northern churchyards.
Some examples of the stone cell, found at Alloa and elsewhere, are
described by Sir Arthur Mitchell as being simply cists, enlarged so as
to avoid doubling up the body[674]. Later stages of survival are
witnessed by the rude box-shaped tombstones of many churchyards in
Devonshire, Gloucestershire, and other counties[675]. Stone coffins have
been dug up in the Dorsetshire graveyard of Worth Matravers, almost
identical with those which have been unearthed from barrows in the
surrounding Isle of Purbeck. In short, it is clear that the stone coffin
and the table tombstone are derived from the ancient stone cist, and
this, in its turn, bears some analogy to the chamber of the long barrow.

This endurance of custom becomes the more remarkable when we remember
that great changes have occurred in the mode of treating the corpse at
burial. At first there was inhumation; then we have a period during
which inhumation and cremation were, to some extent, contemporaneous,
while, as a variant, partial burning of the body was common. Cremation
gradually becomes obsolete, and earth-burial again comes into vogue. If
we carry back our thoughts to the advent of Christianity into Britain,
we see that the trend of custom was the exact reverse of that which
obtains in our day, when cremation is very slowly replacing
earth-burial. The substitution of inhumation for the funeral pyre is one
of the four chief distinctions drawn by Mr Romilly Allen between the
burial customs of the Celtic pagans and the Celtic Christians[676]. Yet
the change was a slow one; in the remote fastnesses of the country, the
custom of burning bodies lingered for generations, though it was
generally extinct in the fourth century of our era[677]. Indeed,
Macrobius, the critic and philosopher, who wrote at the beginning of the
fifth century, declared that cremation had been discontinued for so long
a time that it was only from books that he could glean information
concerning the custom[678]. Whether the turnover from cremation to
earth-burial were always the result of religious or of racial influences
is a moot point[679]. The evidence seems to prove, as already hinted,
that in Britain the cause was mainly religious (p. 263 _supra_), though
one dare not assert that religion was the sole cause. Cremation must
always have been a comparatively expensive process. Someone has well
said, “To this day we speak of the ashes of the great, and the bones of
the poor.” At all events, transitions may be noted, as in the case of
the famous flat-earth burial-ground at Aylesford, which was referred to
in the preceding chapter. The ashes of the “family circle” represented
at Aylesford had been enclosed in urns, and then placed in pits, as
before stated (p. 261 _supra_). Sir A. J. Evans supposes that the
variation of custom was due to the influence of Belgic conquerors. The
urn-burials represented at Aylesford superseded the old skeleton
interments of the late-Celtic peoples, as exemplified in the
“chariot-burials” of Yorkshire, where the skeleton of the departed
warrior is laid alongside the chariot[680]. In Scandinavia and Northern
Germany there was a further intermediate stage, for the ashes were
sometimes deposited in the grave without any enclosing urn. To such
graves the Northern archaeologists apply the term “Brandgruben,” or
cremation pits. This mode of burial is connected with the La Tène period
of culture[681].

Though this question of cremation may appear to have slight connection
with the use of coffins, a little study will show that there is a bond
of association. The ashes of the dead were, it is true, usually
enshrined in a cinerary urn, and this vessel was often placed in a
chamber specially constructed for the purpose. But it was the coffin
which was essentially a receptacle for preserving the entire body, and
which therefore became the sign of earth-burial. Dr Rock lays down the
rule that bishops, kings, and persons of rank were interred in stone
coffins, while the bulk of the people had coffins of wood. Whenever the
receptacle was made of wood, and not of stone, one might have supposed
that it would readily become an accessory in the rite of cremation. This
was apparently not the case, though, obviously, proof would be difficult
to obtain. The body seems to have been burnt in an open pyre, not
enclosed in a chest. Contrariwise, in a Saxon cemetery at Sibertswold,
in Kent, ninety-nine of the coffins had been “submitted to the fire,”
the bodies themselves being unburnt. Again, in the early Christian
burials a cist of stones, instead of a coffin, was sometimes placed
around the corpse[682], but there was no reversion to the funeral pyre.
Yet, as already noticed, the employment, in isolated instances, of rude
coffins, to say nothing of the cists by which they were foreshadowed,
was probably in some measure contemporary with the general pagan custom
of burning the dead. There was an overlapping of custom. Such seeming
anachronisms, while they puzzle, do not greatly surprise the
archaeologist, to whom such occurrences are no new feature. He
frequently sees remote traces of the beginnings of a practice of which
the general adoption was long delayed; he observes rites and customs
overlapping in time and struggling for victory; and, in his own day, he
is a witness of extraordinary vestiges and of ceremonies which must be
deemed reversions or “throw-backs.” The overstepping of one burial rite
by another of older origin is not a whit more inexplicable than the
contemporaneous use, by man, of diverse kinds of clothes or of varying
types of habitation. It is perhaps the more difficult problem to
determine, in the absence of additional data, why, at a particular
period, one group of men is found dwelling in pile-houses on the margins
of lake or mere, while another class frequents caves and rock-shelters,
and a third prefers the wattled hut with sunken floor, and roof of reeds
or heather. Convenience was doubtless a partial cause of these
diversities, just as belief was the great regulator of burial customs,
but this is not the full answer. We must look to primary race
distinctions, in which were the germs of the variations, and to the fact
that human immigrations to Britain occurred at intervals, so that mental
as well as physical territories were invaded and transgressed.

A remarkable instance of anticipation will illustrate, to some extent,
what has just been said. The antiquary is well aware that, during the
Stuart period, in order to encourage the woollen industry, statutes were
passed (A.D. 1666, 1678, 1680), which made it compulsory to bury the
dead in woollen shrouds. An interesting chapter of burial-lore might be
written on this curious subject, for the Acts, though they had long been
in abeyance, were not repealed until late in the reign of George III.
(A.D. 1814)[683]. The practice is recalled in our own day when, by
request of the dying person, the body is enfolded in some special garb,
usually of wool, before being committed to the earth. The strange
circumstance, however, is that such a custom should have been
foreshadowed in the far-away past. In Danish burials belonging to the
earliest Bronze Age, the bodies are sometimes found to have been placed
in hollowed tree trunks, and the remains show that a woollen shroud had
been used. Skeletons wrapped in a woollen textile have likewise been
discovered at Rylston, in the Western Riding of Yorkshire[684]. I have
provisionally regarded these instances as revealing anticipations rather
than origins, but it is possible that many intermediate examples could
be supplied. One of these gradations is perhaps traceable in the custom
of burying a person in his ordinary dress. If these links were
complete, there would obviously be entire continuity, but if we
encountered a gap, it is probable that the eighteenth century practice
would have to be considered as a “throw-back.”

It is now time to review the custom, still common among uncivilized
peoples, and once extremely popular in Britain, of placing objects with
the corpse in the grave. A mass of evidence has been collated and
examined, and though only a portion can be given here, we must, while
shunning tediousness, present as much detail as is actually profitable.
A rough preliminary classification of these funerary objects would
include, (1) weapons and useful implements; (2) amulets, talismans, and
symbolical objects; (3) trinkets, ornaments, and decorative articles;
(4) a miscellaneous group, partly useful, partly symbolical or
commemorative. It is necessary to premise that this classification is
conventional, and lacks well-defined boundaries, hence, while dealing
with one series of relics, other groups will be forced upon our
attention, producing, later, unavoidable repetition.

That the groups enumerated have a somewhat arbitrary basis is rendered
clear when we perceive a principle running through the whole series,
most effective in prehistoric days, but probably reaching, in a vague
and partial manner, to the utmost confines of modern religious thought.
This principle, which must be briefly outlined, has been well described
by Professor Tylor under the name of Animism. The term implies the
doctrine of Spiritual Beings or Souls--a deep-lying belief in the
two-fold nature of both animate and inanimate objects, as opposed to the
teachings of Materialistic philosophy[685]. Animism supplies us,
according to Professor Tylor, with “a minimum definition of
Religion[686].” The primordial idea, which impelled early man to acts of
worship, was, according to this theory, the belief that not only his own
fellows, but the beasts, trees, and surrounding objects, natural or
artificial, possessed spirits--ethereal images, as it were--of
themselves. Hence the dead man must be provided with food, weapons, and
other necessaries; not that these material objects themselves, but
their corresponding phantasmal shapes, might, when disembodied,
accompany the departed warrior or huntsman on his journey to the
spirit-world[687]. In the earliest times, when the dead man was thought
to be merely asleep, it may have been believed that the actual objects
were of service, but at a later period, when it was recognized that the
soul had actually left the body, the weapons were burnt, or perchance
broken, before being interred. The precise mode of transmission of the
simulacral forms to the dead man’s service was left in vague suspense,
but the duty was clearly understood. The spirit of the weapon or
ornament must be set free; the ghost desired the immaterial wraiths or
shadows, not the solid earthly utensils. Mr Grant Allen has ingeniously,
and with considerable force, contended that the two faiths may be
correlated with the Long-Barrow Period and the Round-Barrow Period
respectively. During the former age, when inhumation was in fashion, the
life of the grave was considered to be as material and real as life on
the earth, and the weapons would serve equally well for both worlds.
Among the cremationists of the Bronze Age who imagined the existence of
“a realm of incorporeal disembodied spirits,” the ghost was conceived to
be immaterial, therefore the weapons were broken or charred with
fire[688]. It must further be noted that Mr Grant Allen, along with some
other writers, does not altogether accept Professor Tylor’s theory of
animism. He does not believe that the ideas involved in animism are
demonstrably primitive[689], and, following in the footsteps of Herbert
Spencer, he seeks the origin of religion in ancestor-worship and its
associated ancestral ghosts. According to this hypothesis, objects were
first placed in, or on, the grave, to propitiate the dead. As fear of
the corpse gradually diminished, respect became the dominant idea, and
ghost-worship and shade-worship were established. Between this
“Humanist” school of thought, and that of Animism, as represented by
Professor Tylor and Professor Frazer, a reconciliation may, to some
extent, be effected[690]. We may perhaps look upon ancestor-worship as a
sub-division of the animistic belief, and as tending towards a higher
plane of religion. Professor Frazer, in his work on _Totemism and
Exogamy_, has cleared the ground by showing that totemism, which has
often been regarded as a primitive religion, is only occasionally found
in connection with the doctrine of external souls. In pure totemism, the
totems are in no sense deities, to be propitiated by offerings or
sacrifices. Professor Westermarck declares that there is no
justification in facts for regarding the worship of the dead as “the
root of every religion.” The spirits of the dead were not originally
conceived as the only supernatural agents existing. Whichever be
considered the primitive type of religion is a matter which will not
greatly affect our present review of the facts of continuity. Nor need
we feel much concerned with a third claim--that certain races may have
reached the pastoral stage of society without passing through the
nomadic stage, and may have been worshippers of the sun or some of the
other external powers of Nature without embracing animism.

From the animistic side itself, Professor Tylor has uttered a
significant warning against straining the theory. While in the vast
number of cases, the idea of object-souls is, he informs us, both clear
and explicit, yet it is notorious that there are peoples who sacrifice
property or deposit offerings to the dead from other motives. Affection,
fancy, or symbolism, a desire to abandon the dead man’s property,
anxiety to appease the hovering ghost, may each, in particular cases,
be an efficient motive[691]. Again, although the animistic conception,
so far as primitive peoples were concerned, was world-wide in its
extent, yet, in our day, and among civilized folk, the system seems to
be drawing in its outposts. It has outlived the belief in the objective
reality of apparitional souls or ghosts; the notion of the souls of
beasts is similarly being left behind. The central position is now held
by the doctrine of the human soul[692].

A still more modern theory, the psychological, is put forward by Mr A.
E. Crawley, in his recent work, _The Idea of the Soul_. Mr Crawley
considers that the world of spirits is a mental world, and that the soul
itself is “the mental duplicate of reality.” As soon as man had the
power of perception to enable him to form a memory-image, he possessed a
soul. The mental replica of the object perceived was, in the earlier
stages of savage life, concrete, though immaterial; at a later period,
under the influence of language and science, abstractions were formed.
One is bound to add that Mr Crawley’s theory does not seem to meet with
general approbation, though it will have to be reckoned with in all
future discussions.

We shall expect, from these preliminary observations, to encounter
various gradations of belief as we proceed to consider the evidence for
continuity of custom respecting burial gifts. In order that the forest
may not lose its importance by being considered in detail, tree by tree,
let us keep to our proposed classification, and glance first at the
practice of burying weapons and other useful objects with the dead.
Though the custom was not a marked feature of the Long-Barrow Period,
the original inspiration dates from that age at least. The Round-Barrow
epoch, however, was pre-eminently associated with the burial of weapons
and utensils. A rough enumeration made by Canon Greenwell showed that
about one-fifth of the barrows which he had opened contained implements
of some kind, the commonest materials employed in the manufacture being
stone, bronze, or horn. To be exact, out of 379 burials by inhumation or
cremation, 77 had associated implements[693]. A study of the researches
of Mortimer and Pitt-Rivers will give similar results. Nor when we trace
the story onwards to the advent of Christianity, does the force of
custom diminish, even if its direction becomes slightly changed. Flint
scrapers and useful instruments of many kinds are turned out of graves
belonging to the Roman period, just as Early Iron Age burials yield
corresponding relics. A fragment of a flint celt was found with a Late
Roman or Early Saxon burial at Leicester[694], while a Saxon grave at
Ash, in Kent, yielded a polished celt, together with a Roman
fibula[695]. The celt, in this instance, was evidently an heirloom from
an earlier period, and had been regarded by its finder with
superstitious reverence. One need scarcely recall the celebrated Saxon
tumulus in Taplow churchyard, Buckinghamshire (p. 81 _supra_), which
contained, in addition to Anglo-Saxon relics of the ordinary kind, flint
flakes, cores, and scrapers[696]. On the Continent, flint arrow-heads
are frequently found with Merovingian remains dating from the fifth to
the eighth centuries of our era. In one case, an iron sword of the
Frankish period accompanied the arrow-heads. Such occurrences are not
well-attested with respect to Britain, though the collocation of flint
and bronze articles is frequent[697]. The most remarkable instance of
the survival of celt-burial is that supplied by the tumulus in Flanders,
described by Evans. Within this barrow, arranged in a circle around the
body, the mourners had placed six celts in an upright position. The
celts, seemingly of different ages, had been gathered from the surface
of the soil, and deposited within the tomb as amulets[698]. There can be
little doubt, however, that the custom, thus shorn of its primary
significance, was once the expression of a deep conviction of service.
An ancient Vedic hymn, or dirge, has the words, “Take not the bow from
the hand of him who lies dead.” Does not also Ossian give instructions
to Oscar on this very subject? “Remember, my son, to place this sword,
this bow, the horn of my deer, within that dark and narrow home, whose
mark is one grey stone[699].” When we observe that parallel ideas are
actually common the world over, we shall be inclined to believe that
Macpherson has here recovered a bit of genuine Celtic tradition. Thus,
the Greenlanders inter bows and other weapons with the dead, the
Turanians of Eastern Asia bury axes, flints, and food, and supply the
deceased warrior with a spear that he may be ready for future

There is no need to press this point, but having carried the custom to
Saxon times, when objects of stone still survived along with such burial
relics as iron swords, daggers, and knives, let us consider one or two
later observances. In Mediaeval days, burial in armour was considered
most honourable. Not seldom, the warriors lay uncoffined, their shroud a
panoply of iron. Their arms and weapons, again, were suspended over the
tomb. This practice lasted a long time, and allusion to it may be found
in Shakespeare. Laertes, speaking of the burial of his father Polonius,
complains of

                        “his obscure funeral,
    No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o’er his bones[701].”

And Iden, in the second part of _Henry VI._, inquires,

    “Is’t Cade that I have slain, that monstrous traitor?
     Sword, I will hallow thee for this thy deed,
     And hang thee o’er my tomb when I am dead[702].”

Every ecclesiologist is familiar with such arms and accoutrements as are
here mentioned. Dr J. C. Cox has enumerated churches where personal
armour is still preserved[703]. No further digression can be made here,
but the reader may again be reminded that many armorial relics belong to
a later period, and are counterfeits which constituted part of the
undertaker’s trappings (cf. p. 159 _supra_). One attenuated survival
lasted until the middle of the nineteenth century in the form of square
or lozenge-shaped hatchments (= “achievements”), made of wood. On these
wooden shields, which, after the funeral, were nailed up in the church,
were blazoned the coats-of-arms borne by the family of the deceased
person. The most recent spectacle of this kind, surprisingly belated,
was witnessed at the church of Hunmanby, in the East Riding, during the
year 1897[704].

Strangest of all the warrior superstitions was that exemplified in the
ceremony of offering food to weapons. The custom, which is plainly
traceable to pagan ideas of worship, continued without interruption, we
are assured, until the reign of Elizabeth. One instance must suffice.
Sir Howel-y-Furyall, known to his fellows as “Sir Howel of the
Battle-axe,” a weapon which he wielded bravely at Poitiers, ordained
that his axe should be hung up in the Tower of London, and a “messe of
meat” served before it daily. The injunction was obeyed, and each day,
after the rite had been completed, the food was distributed to

Arms and food do not, however, complete our list of serviceable gifts to
the dead. Among implements of this nature must be reckoned divers kinds
of fire-producers. Excavations have shown that flint and iron pyrites
were occasionally concealed in round barrows, while, in the mounds of
later periods, a piece of iron replaced the customary mineral nodule.
These ignition agents, the forerunners of our “strike-a-lights” and
tinder boxes, are found so late as the Saxon period. Certain small
“nests” of chipped flints occurring in Merovingian, Frankish, and Saxon
sepulchres, are also believed by some authorities to have been intended
for fire-kindlers[706], by means of which the departed spirit could be
provided with cheerful warmth. To the present writer this theory is not
entirely satisfactory, at least as regards the later developments of the
practice. The cases just cited seem to be analogous to those described
by Pitt-Rivers, who repeatedly found, in British barrows, urns filled
with chips of flint[707]. In a notable barrow at Winkelbury Hill, on a
Northern spur of the Wiltshire Downs, not only was the urn packed with
flakes, but it was surrounded by a mass of similar objects[708]. Besides
the flakes placed in the cist or urn itself, we have to take into
account the very common occurrence of flint spalls in the body of the
mound, a sight familiar to the barrow-digger. The number of chips is
often out of all proportion to what might be incidentally brought
together in piling up the substance of the mound from the surface soil.
They were evidently struck off for the particular occasion. Now,
although the germ of the ceremony may be discoverable in the burial of a
trimmed flint and a lump of iron pyrites, there is no manifest virtue in
the multiplication of the chips. Each tribesman may indeed have thrown
in his tributary flint, or perhaps a handful of small flakes, but the
intention would scarcely be to increase the opportunities of procuring
fire. Rather do the chips seem to represent some esoteric doctrine, such
as that which was held by the primitive Lapps. Hidden in the flint lies
the spark, the emblem of life and animation, ready to burst forth. The
scattered flakes of flint were therefore probably the proofs, not alone
of dutiful respect, but of a strong faith that the dead man was merely
asleep, that his spirit would return. Pliny’s _Natural History_ has been
credited with the statement that Northern peoples used to throw flint
chippings into graves in order to confine the dead within those dark
dominions. Pliny does, indeed, describe certain stones that consume dead
bodies, and other kinds that have the power to preserve the corpse, and
to turn it into stone[709]. But the reference to the flint flakes, as
commonly given, is bibliographically incorrect, and, although the
passage may exist, I have not been successful in finding it. Except for
the sake of the reason assigned to the custom, the passage is
unimportant, since we possess actual relics as a testimony of the
practice. What is of more interest is the fact that we have a reference
to the custom as apparently existing in Shakespeare’s day. When Ophelia
is about to be buried, the surly priest makes complaint:

    “She should in ground unsanctified have lodged
     Till the last trumpet; for charitable prayers,
     Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on her[710].”

From this passage it seems clear that a ceremony, which, if I interpret
it aright, was originally indicative of respect, had degenerated into a
mark of disgrace. The potsherds and flint chips were known to be a mark
of heathen burial, and were therefore reprobated by Christians, without
any inquiry as to their purport. There is an alternative explanation:
the idea of laying the evil spirit, so that it should not wander abroad
and annoy the living, may at some time have been operative. If this
assumption be well founded, it might be urged that the priest had caught
an echo of the superstition, and actually believed that the ghost of a
suicide might return. The usual annotation of the lines, to the effect
that Ophelia is worthy only of pagan burial, comes a little short of the
whole truth, and one of these ideas--respect or fear--is required to
round off the meaning. In support of this view, the case of the Czechs
is apposite. When returning from a funeral, it is the custom of this
folk to throw stones, mud, and hot coals in the direction of the grave
to deter the spirit from following the burial party[711]. Again, the
purpose of wearing mourning is believed to have arisen from attempts to
disguise the person, so that pursuit by the dead may be evaded; or, as
Mr E. S. Hartland contends, the intention was to express sorrow and
abasement, so as to deprecate the malice of the disembodied spirit[712].
Yet, in spite of these by-theories, one is led to believe that the
earlier intention of the funeral flints was to express honour and
respect, though the feeling may have been tinged with wholesome fear. To
this extent the theory of ancestor-worship, as opposed to that of
animism, receives some confirmation.

A passage occurring in Herodotus has been noted as throwing some light
on the custom, while not affording an actual explanation. The writer is
describing the ceremony of purification observed after funerals by the
Scythians in Europe. A cavity was made, or a dish was placed in the
middle of a specially constructed tent. Into this hollow they threw
stones heated to a transparent brightness (λίθους ἐκ πυρὸς διαφανέας
ἐσβάλλουσι ἐς σκάφην)[713]. This description, however, does not really
apply to the rite which we are considering, for Herodotus goes on to say
that hemp-seed is put on the red-hot stones. The intention was to
prepare a kind of vapour bath, and also probably to induce
intoxication[714]. In other words, the heated stones seem to have been
our familiar “pot-boilers,” common on all prehistoric camping-grounds,
and capable of a purely industrial explanation, though often applied to
a ceremonial purpose.

Returning to the shards alluded to by the priest at Ophelia’s grave, we
note, as an illustration, that Pitt-Rivers found considerable quantities
of broken pottery in the Romano-British graves of Dorset and Wiltshire.
A remarkable coincidence must now be mentioned. Douglas, writing his
_Nenia Britannica_ in 1793, had noticed that pebbles and fragments of
pottery were often mixed with the earth which had been scattered over
the corpses in Saxon graves. The shards were generally of more ancient
date than the interment[715]. Douglas had lighted upon the passage in
_Hamlet_, already quoted, and had connected it with the superstitious
Saxon practice. Over half a century later, Mr W. M. Wylie, who was
exploring Saxon graves at Fairford, in Gloucestershire, came upon
quantities of similar burial shards. The vessels which had furnished the
fragments had not been newly broken for the occasion, since the pieces
did not correspond, but had been previously collected and kept in
readiness. Along with these potsherds were found pebbles that had been
fired, as well as scoriae from iron smeltings, obtained perhaps from the
neighbourhood of Cirencester, not far away[716]. After referring to the
description of the Scythian custom, which has just been quoted from
Herodotus, and after making a half-hearted attempt to connect the
Scythians with the Northern Teutons, Wylie cites the now-famous lines
from _Hamlet_. That Wylie should have independently come to the same
conclusion as Douglas, and should have called attention to the same
Shakespearean allusion, is very noteworthy, for he had never read
Douglas’s work[717].

Although we are considering relics which were judged to be of use to the
dead, we have transgressed our limits, and have been compelled to glance
at the ceremonial aspect. Yet before we can safely return to the main
inquiry, we must notice some instances of survival in this matter of
potsherds. Numerous records tend to show that the deposition of pieces
of earthenware in Christian graves was not an uncommon practice during
the Middle Ages. At once, however, we must make a reservation: the
scraps of pottery may, to some extent, represent vessels in which
charcoal had been deposited, but which afterwards were fractured by the
sexton’s spade. For the broken pottery is sometimes, but not always,
associated with charcoal, while, as we shall see, the charcoal is often
found alone. The Rev. R. Ashington Bullen found traces of the custom at
Little Stukeley, Huntingdonshire. At a depth of 4½ feet, graves were
found to contain fragments of Mediaeval pottery, possessing a greenish
glaze, but no charcoal was discovered[718]. Canon Atkinson states that
potsherds were also found near Dunsley chapel, Yorkshire, which was
probably demolished prior to the Dissolution of the Monasteries. This
capable antiquary, whose eye was well trained for the work, observed
charcoal and broken crocks in abundance in the old churchyard graves of
Danby-in-Cleveland. The charcoal occurred in lumps of the size of a
small bean. Occasionally, out of half a spade-graft of mould brought to
the surface, from one-third to one-half would be principally charcoal.
Fragments of coarse red pottery, partly glazed on the interior surface,
and without doubt of Mediaeval age, were also constantly lighted upon.
About a wheelbarrow full of shards was turned up within a quarter of a
century, few graves being dug without some scraps being encountered. The
charcoal and the pottery were not actually found in contact,
nevertheless Canon Atkinson believed that charcoal, in the form of live
coals [_Qy_ live charcoal, i.e. “coal” in the older sense?] had been
placed in earthen vessels. The reason for this opinion is not given, nor
does the hypothesis harmonize with all the related facts. Canon
Atkinson, while granting that the idea of purificatory energy may have
underlain the custom, stated that collateral evidences showed a desire
to keep the spirit in abeyance[719]. These opinions have been dealt with
in advance; it remains to be noted that Danby churchyard seems once to
have formed part of an open field. “That pagan Danes were laid to their
rest there I make no doubt; and that they were the fore-elders of a
Christianized generation or series of generations is equally
certain[720].” These details, though interesting, are unimportant; the
essential matter is that the bulk of the pottery was of Mediaeval
date--the narrator allows for exceptions--and must therefore have been
employed in Christian times (see p. 287 _supra_). The practice had
possibly a direct lineal descent from the Bronze Age. In one barrow
belonging to that period, a deposit of burnt bones was underlain by
wood, and was covered with charcoal and wood ashes, probably the remains
of the funeral pile[721]. On the other hand, a barrow which was opened
by Canon Atkinson contained pieces of charcoal, varying in size from a
bean to a nutmeg, scattered through the material of the mound[722].
Other cases might be given from the investigations of Pitt-Rivers. Late
Frankish cemeteries have yielded fragments of charcoal[723], and the
same may be said of Mediaeval graves in France[724]. The accidentals of
cremation ceremonies clearly survived the essentials, and a pagan
custom was engrafted on Christian rite. The Mediaeval churchman’s
explanation of the charcoal is thus given by Durandus: _Carbones in
testimonium, quod terra illa ad communes usus amplius redigi non potest,
plus enim durat carbo sub terra quam aliud_[725]; that is: Charcoal is
employed to show that the earth can no longer be put to ordinary uses,
because charcoal endures underground longer than any other substance.

Is there any known instance of the actual use of flint flakes at
Christian funerals? Research has so far given a negative reply, but a
scrap or two of evidence may be produced. Canon Atkinson found flint
chippings and even the ruder kinds of implements in the churchyards of
Cleveland[726]. The present writer picked up a flint flake from a
newly-dug grave at Northolt, Middlesex, and another, a long, thin
specimen, with a “back ridge,” at Warlingham churchyard, Surrey. The
risks of drawing an inference from such isolated occurrences as these
are both numerous and patent. The churchyard was once part of the open
country, and these flakes might, perhaps, originally have been derived
from the surface soil. Again, chips of a rough kind fall as waste when
flint is dressed and squared for church walls. A sufficient knowledge of
the properties of modern and ancient flakes enables the observer to
dismiss this source of error, though it must be stated that both at
Warlingham and Northolt flint forms a portion of the structural
materials. Now the two flakes described were not whitened by exposure
and dissolution of the colloidal portion of the silica. They had
retained their old unpatinated surface, save that a polish had been
acquired; one may therefore conclude that they had lain for a
considerable period in a close impervious clay or loam. Probably they
had been dug from a depth of two or three feet below the surface. The
specimens were certainly ancient. Should instances of this nature be
recorded with a fair degree of frequency, the meaning might be
deciphered in either of two ways: the adaptation of a pagan site for a
Christian place of worship, or the casting of flint chips into a
Christian grave. Whether the occurrence of quantities of ancient
splinters of flint near a churchyard, as at St Paul’s Cray, Kent, must
be interpreted in the same manner, is not so clear. I prefer to await
further records, which are, from the nature of the case, difficult to
procure. The flints are mysterious witnesses, at most, and the sceptic
may justly scorn their testimony, if asked to consider these objects
alone. But the triad of flints, potsherds, and charcoal, stands
moderately firm. Concerning the charcoal, we have fortunately, apart
from the relics, the words of Durandus to help us to read the ostensible
meaning. But assume that we were unaware of the Mediaeval character of
some of the graveyard pottery, who would believe that the custom of
interring potsherds was observed at so late a period? The sceptic would
say that the scraps represented prehistoric urns accidentally occurring
in the churchyard soil. We should be justified in refusing our assent at
the outset, but we should have to reconsider the matter when we found
that the habit of breaking vessels and utensils over the dead is common
among many races[727]. Moreover, there is a record, within the last
thirty years, of a Lincolnshire woman’s breaking pottery over her
husband’s grave, because she had forgotten to inter the perfect vessels
with the body. At present, then, we must allow that there is a possible
preliminary case in favour of the flints, if these should be now and
again detected.

Let us summarize the last few paragraphs. The original purpose of
placing apparently useless potsherds with the dead was to provide the
departed tribesman with the spiritual utensils thus represented, the
spirit-forms having been liberated by the breaking of the vessels.
Similarly, the charcoal, the calcined pebbles or “pot-boilers,” and the
few scraps of flint, would supply him with fire, first material,
afterwards spiritual. Thus he had the means of making a fire, and of
carrying water and hot embers. “Poor indeed,” says Professor T. Rupert
Jones, “was the greatest of the heroes, on his dreary death-path, who
had not ‘a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal
out of the pit’ (Isa. xxx. 14)[728].” So far, the theory agrees well
with the explanation given respecting votive implements and weapons.
Moreover, we can see how the idea of “laying the spirit” with hot stones
and fractured flints may have arisen. The homeless ghost would be happy
only when fealty had been proved by funeral gifts. Careless or daring
folk who neglected to pay the tribute would, in dreams, receive visits
from the disembodied dead. Where no affection or respect existed,
experience might teach that formal adherence to custom was prudent. The
explanation based on actual needs seems only to suffice for those cases
where the flint and earthenware gifts are solitary, or at any rate, few,
like the celts and arrow-heads. Wherever the flint flakes are counted by
scores, and the potsherds, broken, it may be, from vessels made
expressly for the sepulchre, are representative of many individual
pieces of pottery, the idea involved seems to be, not mere utility, but
dutiful respect, tempered, as some will have it, with fear.

It may be submitted that, just as the Bedouin Arabs are wont to set up
groups of stones around the burial-place of a fakir, so the chief
members of a prehistoric tribe, each carrying his portion, produced the
accumulation of flint spalls. True; but this does not support the
suggested explanation that the flakes were strike-a-lights. So soon as
the multiplication of fire-kindlers--if we assume that the flakes were
at first of this nature--reached to the extent of filling an urn or
cist, utility must have been the waning, and reverence the waxing
principle. The idea that material objects could benefit the dead
lingered, it is true, for ages, and in some half-hearted manner
persisted, as we shall see, until our own day, but it was ultimately
overpowered by the growth of symbolical rites. It remains to notice
Pitt-Rivers’ theory that the broken pottery may have been buried to mark
the site of a barrow, but how this mode of indication could be effective
that cautious and experienced investigator does not suggest. In a
boundary tumulus, entombed pottery might be significant, but even
there, it could not form a visible memorial.

Reverting for a moment to the subject of fire-kindlers, I would remark
that many of the objects known to archaeologists as flint “scrapers”
were probably ignition agents[729]. Consequently, to call such flints
“thumb-scrapers,” or oval scrapers, as is often done by the
barrow-digger, is to push aside a debateable question by means of an
assumption. Scrapers they may have been, but it is at least permissible
to believe that they were also fire-producers. In due time, the
strike-a-light became a specialized article, but both scraper and
fire-kindler continued to find a place in the grave. Pliny speaks of the
discovery of mirrors and “body-scrapers” (_specula quoque, et
strigiles_)[730], in ancient tombs. These strigils, which Philemon
Holland quaintly renders “currycombes[731],” and Littré, as _instruments
pour les oreilles_[732], were actually, in Roman days, the scrapers of
horn or metal, used by the bather to remove impurities from the skin.
Thus, considered as a scraper, the strigil reaches back to the rounded
flint with trimmed edges, and forward to the Mediaeval “sleeker” of
stone or metal, employed by the currier in tawing hides. As a
“slick-stone” of black glass, degraded, doubtless, to the ornamental
stage, the object again appears in Islay, associated with a burial of
the Viking period[733]. Later records of the scraper, and of the
strike-a-light, definitely illustrative of the theory of funeral gifts,
seem to be lacking.

A survival of the custom of furnishing the dead with fire-kindlers is
partially traceable in the ancient practice of depositing a candle in
the grave, to light the dead man on his way. In Ireland a hammer was
also interred, to enable the deceased person to knock at the gates of
Purgatory, while a sixpenny piece secured admission[734]. Within the
last generation a native of Cleveland was buried with a candle for the
purpose of obtaining light, a bottle of wine for nourishment, and a
penny to pay the ferryman[735]. The village of Bucklebury, Berkshire, by
the way, supplies an instance of a different kind; in a grave apparently
modern, two bottles of beer had been placed but no candle[736]! In
Lincolnshire a groat, “a mug and a jug,” were placed in the coffin. The
Lincolnshire widow, who had forgotten to deposit the mug and the jug in
the grave, broke the crockery, as we have seen (p. 292 _supra_), and
laid the fragments on the mound. In one case, where a bottle, full of
pins, was found in a recently opened grave, the explanation can probably
be found in sympathetic magic. The pins had been used to touch warts on
the skin, and the operative belief was either that the warts were
transferred to the dead person, or that, as the pins rusted, the warts
would die away. The former explanation is the more likely, else the pins
might as well have been buried anywhere. Mr England Howlett asserts that
the burial of a candle in the coffin was once common. He throws doubt on
the theory of the provision of light for the dead, and claims that the
candle was emblematic of an extinguished life. Support for this new
theory is sought in the custom of immuring candles in the foundation of
churches and houses, of which, Mr Howlett says, many examples are
known[737]. Owing to the amount of correlative evidence bearing on the
question of fire-kindlers and fire-worship, I prefer to regard the
candle as representing the attenuated symbolism of light and heat.

Even while referring to candles, we have been forced to observe another
burial-gift--the coin placed in the hand or mouth. Since the coin had
originally a supposed useful purpose, a few words may be devoted to it.
The practice is at least as old as the time of the ancient Greeks, who
were accustomed to place an obolus in the dead person’s mouth. To a
classic origin, however, in the ordinary sense of the term, the custom
cannot be limited. It prevailed in pagan Germany[738], and in Christian
England. Professor Tylor cites examples from several countries, and
gives a list of authorities. De Groot states that the silver coin
deposited in the mouth of the corpse by the Chinese has replaced the
earlier cowrie, just as it has superseded the cowrie for purposes of
currency[739]. The custom of coin-burial was well known to the
Romano-Britons, as is proved by the excavations of General Pitt-Rivers
in Cranborne Chase. We are compelled, therefore, to postulate a more
extended history than Greece or Rome would afford. Even in England the
belief must have been profound, even touching, in its sincerity. Silver
coins are occasionally dug up in English churchyards, and the tradition
runs that such money had originally been placed in the mouth of the
corpse[740]. Evidence of this kind prevents a too confident acceptance
of Mr Romilly Allen’s conclusion that the idea of Charon’s penny ceased
with the introduction of Christianity[741]. The spirit, if not the
precise tradition, of the ancient custom long survived with some
intensity. Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff relates how an old Burgundian
woman, being asked why she had placed a sou in the hand of a dead child,
replied, _C’est pour payer le trajet à Charon_. The narrator supposes,
with fair reason, that this incident revealed the lasting influence of
Roman civilization over the Gaulish people[742]. The woman may have
heard, or read, the classic tradition, but this is rather improbable.
Folk-memory had seemingly retained the orthodox explanation, but the
custom itself may go back to the time when the newly invented coin
replaced some cruder amulet. From what centre, or centres, the belief in
the virtue of the coin was transmitted, is at present unknown.

An illustration drawn from the writings of Mr Thomas Hardy will
doubtless be pardoned, since much genuine Wessex folklore has been
presented to us in the garb of fiction by that shrewd observer and
archaeologist. In _The Mayor of Casterbridge_ [i.e. Dorchester], after
having been told of the death of Mrs Henchard, the reader is treated to
a rustic gossip on death in general. Mrs Cuxsom gives her own little
commentary, and then proceeds to quote the words of her dead neighbour:
“And there’s four ounce pennies, the heaviest I could find, a-tied up in
bits of linen, for weights--two for my right eye, and two for my left.
And when you’ve used ’em, and my eyes don’t open no more, bury the
pennies, good souls, and don’t ye go spending ’em, for I shouldn’t like
it.” In the sequel, a servant buries the coins in the garden, but
Christopher Coney digs them up and spends them. One of the listeners,
Solomon Longways, excuses this action, and can see “no treason in it,”
but the general verdict ran: “’Twas a cannibal deed[743].”

Now we may be certain that this conversation describes, in all essential
details, the Wessex superstition. Within our own times, Northumbrian
folk were wont to bury a penny piece just under the soil of a newly-made
grave. And it is a very common belief that misfortune will follow him
who desecrates the coin--the ferryman’s penny--by ignoble use. If, as is
probable, the “eye-coin” be the genuine representative of this penny, it
has degenerated into a humble accessory of the death-chamber; it is not
now even deposited in the grave. Nevertheless, the segregated coin must
not be put again to everyday uses. Well did Jowett of Balliol in
luminous phrase speak of “underground religion,” that strain of
superstition which cannot be banished from the peasant mind. Nor,
indeed, does orthodoxy, at least as understood by provincial or
unthinking folk, raise any serious demur to the observance.

We cannot accept as adequate the superficial explanation that the penny
is simply used to close the eyes. This is the immediate purpose, of
course, but it does not explain why a penny, though certainly an object
of convenient size and shape, should alone be used. Least of all does it
account for the placing of coins in the mouth, or of burying money in
the grave. Norwegian folk-lore supplies us with a curious correlative.
When the Norwegian peasant takes earth from the churchyard to succour
ailing children, he must bury silver coins in place of the stolen
specific. Customs like these carry us back, by almost imperceptible
transitions, to the building of the British barrow, and to the interment
therein of flawless arrow-head or fractured celt. Following the
centuries forward, we may dimly surmise why the various changes took
place; glancing back, we marvel that the beliefs have been clung to so

[Illustration: FIG. 57. Grave-celt, of polished flint, from Murols,
Puy-de-Dôme (Author’s collection). Length 2⅛´´; greatest width 1⅛´´.]

We must now leave our first group of objects--the axes, the knives, the
arrow-tips, with fire-kindlers, pottery, querns, spindle-whorls, and all
similar appliances, in order to give some attention to the next division
of the relics. This class, it will be remembered, comprises amulets,
talismans, and symbolical objects. Some difficulty arises when we try to
separate these from the purely decorative articles, but there are
certain relics whose purpose does not seem to admit of doubt. The tiny
polished celts, of which an example from Puy de Dôme is shown in Fig.
57, must have been charms. Specimens much smaller than the one
illustrated are often met with. Still more convincing are the small
amber axes which Professor Montelius has described as occurring in
Scandinavia: these cannot have had any economical use.

Examples of objects wholly symbolical or protective are furnished by the
white or transparent pebbles frequently found in ancient graves. In the
innermost chamber of a Scottish cairn opened by Dr Angus Smith, at
Achnacree, near Loch Etive, a row of quartz pebbles, each larger than a
walnut, was seen displayed on a granite ledge. Canon Greenwell, who
examined cairns containing similar objects near Crinan, thought that the
stones had a symbolical meaning[744]. Similarly, Mr Reddie Mallett
discovered shield-shaped masses of quartz deposited in the Celtic
Cemetery at Harlyn Bay, Cornwall[745]. Smooth white pebbles, sometimes
five or seven in number, but never more, and usually arranged in
crosses, were found in graves under the fallen ramparts of Burghead, in
Elginshire[746]. The belief in the virtues of selected pebbles was of an
enduring kind, for crystals of quartz and white stones (“Godstones”)
were commonly placed in Irish graves within recent times. In ancient
Irish graves the finding of such objects is of common occurrence.
Pebbles of other hues have also been discovered, representing a small
colour-series[747]. The fisher-folk of Inverary have a practice, which
outruns all memory, and which is independent of everything save
tradition, of placing little white pebbles on the graves of their
friends[748]. More might be said concerning these white stones--the
symbols of justification in the Apocalypse[749], the sacred comforters
of the dying Hindoo, the counters by means of which the ancient
Thracians recorded their happy days[750]. We will, however, pass to a
more elaborate kind of amulet, the crystal ball which is often found in
Saxon graves. Sometimes the crystal is mounted with a silver band or
ring, as if its owner had carried it in suspension. From a consideration
of the passage in _Beowulf_ respecting the value of such amulets in
protecting the head from the blows of the enemy, from a knowledge that
crystal pendants have, until modern times, been deemed efficacious in
stanching the flow of blood, and from a study of parallel beliefs and
divinations existing among various races, we conclude that these objects
were prized as talismans. It is noticeable that Mr Roach Smith did not
accept this interpretation, and regarded the balls simply as objects of
which the use was less obvious than that of the ordinary funeral


     FIG. 58. Necklaces from British round barrows.

     A. Barrel-shaped jet beads and pendant of like material, with six
     smaller glass beads. Tan Hill, Wiltshire. Four-ninths of real size.

     B. Amber beads and links, much decayed. Lake, Wiltshire.
     Four-ninths of real size.

Whether we ought to consider the amber beads of British barrows as
charms, or, like their fellows of glass and clay, as ornaments solely,
is a moot point. The abundance of the beads increases when we reach the
Saxon period. Perhaps, where they are numerous, they formed part of a
necklace (Fig. 58). In more than one instance an amber bead was found
attached to, or lying near, a skeleton. I am inclined to put the amber
beads in a special class because of the virtues formerly assigned to
this substance. Amber shielded the living from evil, and it sped the
departed on their long journey. Decoration, therefore, was not the sole
reason for the selection. Elton quotes an ancient Welsh poem, in which
is described, with “Homeric minuteness,” the amber ornaments of the
British chief Gododin:

    “Adorned with a wreath was the leader, the wolf of the holm;
     Amber beads in ringlets encircled his temples;
     Precious was the amber, and worth a banquet of wine[752].”

The amber dug out of British barrows is usually of the red variety, not
blackish or honey-coloured. Much archaeological warfare has been waged
as to its place of origin. Along the East coast of Britain, from
Ramsgate to Aberdeen, specimens are frequently picked up, generally of a
yellowish tint. A native source, however, is not perhaps to be assigned
to most of the amber beads. From their great abundance in Saxon tumuli,
Elton favoured the hypothesis that the main supply came from over the
North Sea[753].

The supposition that amber beads were credited with occult virtues is
strengthened by folk-lore. Such beads were popularly believed to render
the wearer proof against witchcraft. St Eloi forbade women to wear these
objects around the neck[754]. Zest is added to our inquiry by the
superstition about the “lammerbeads” (Scotch, _lammer_ = amber; cf. Fr.
_l’ambre_), of Tweedside, which, on being dug out of ancient barrows,
were worn as charms for the cure of weak eyes and sprained limbs, and
were ultimately handed down as cherished heirlooms[755].

Among the other articles which seem to have been prized for magical or
protective properties may be mentioned wolves’ teeth and boars’ tusks,
perforated for suspension as charms[756]. Mention, too, must be made of
a naturally perforated flint to which a fossil echinoderm (_Micraster_)
was attached, found by Mr E. Lovett on the breast of a skeleton in a
barrow on the Sussex Downs[757]. This last example leads us
imperceptibly to our third group of funeral relics, wherein fossils
occupy an important position. This third class includes articles
primarily of an ornamental or decorative character. Reviewing the
fossils first, we notice that primitive man had learned at an early
period to collect and store up the flint echinoderms left among the
residual drift of the surface over which he daily trod. We may pass by,
with but a hasty glance, the fossil “sea-urchins” dug up in great
numbers by Pitt-Rivers in the Romano-British villages at Rotherly
(Wilts.) and Woodcuts (Dorset), since these echinoderms are believed to
have served purely secular purposes, such as those of coinage[758]. In
like manner the ammonites, pierced for spindle-whorls, unearthed at the
Glastonbury lake-village, may be dismissed as not being graveyard

The most famous instance of the occurrence of echinoderms in
burial-mounds is that recorded by Mr Worthington G. Smith from a round
barrow on Dunstable Downs. The description of this discovery, which is
not without pathos, is worthy of even greater renown than it has yet
achieved. The barrow, on being opened, revealed the skeleton of a woman,
clasping the almost perished relics of a child. One is tempted here to
compare the later superstitious practice of burying an unbaptized child
at the feet of an adult, to prevent the child-spirit from wandering
around its former home. It has been suggested that the child may have
been buried alive with its mother. Be this disquieting thought well
based or not, the objects associated with the burial were of a striking
nature. Besides celts and scrapers of flint, the excavators found a
dozen fossil echinoderms. On extending the diggings, nearly 100 more
specimens came to light, and after repeatedly shovelling and raking the
soil which formed the tumulus, still more, to the number of over 200,
were added to the spoils. Mr Smith, who was unfortunately not present at
the first opening of the mound, concluded that the fossils had formed a
border around the bodies. In his fascinating volume, _Man the Primeval
Savage_, he has given us an interesting illustration of the grave as it
was probably arranged before the mound was piled over it (Fig. 59). The
fossils were of two species: the “Heart urchin” (_Micraster
cor-anguinum_) and the “Fairy loaf” (_Echinocorys ovatus_, Leske =
_Ananchytes scutatus_)[759]. A belief became somewhat generally current
among archaeologists that these “urchins” had been directly obtained
from the chalk. If that had been the case, the fossils would have been
composed of unabraded flint, with a whitened surface, or the “tests” or
outer coverings would have been of calcite, with an amorphous interior
filling of chalk. But this opinion, confidently and frequently repeated,
seemed to credit the Bronze Age man with much too great a familiarity
with chalk fossils. It appeared strange that he should have extracted
the fossils from the parent chalk by the aid of a deerhorn pick or a
celt of flint or bronze. The presumption was more likely that the
specimens were silicified “casts” which had been dissolved out of the
chalk mass ages previously, and which, lying on, or near the surface,
when the primitive settler tilled the downs for a livelihood, met with
the approval of his keen eye. Accordingly, I wrote to Mr Smith, who, in
a letter dated 3 May, 1909, stated that this supposition was
correct--the fossils were of flint, and had been washed out of the
Clay-with-Flints. In other words, they had not been derived immediately
from the parent chalk.

It may be appositely remarked in this place that the fame of fossil
echinoderms is well attested by the folk-name “Fairy loaf,” already
given, not to speak of such genuine popular terms as “Shepherd’s crown”
or “Shepherd’s helmet” (_Echinocorys_), and “Sugar loaf” (_Conulus =
Echincconus = Galerites_). Concerning the Fairy loaf, the legend runs
that whoso will keep a specimen in his house shall never lack bread.


     FIG. 59. Skeletons of woman and child, surrounded by fossil
     echinoderms. The relics were found by Mr Worthington G. Smith in a
     round barrow on Dunstable Downs.

But the watchful eye of the barrow-builder saw other derelict fossils
besides Micrasters and their allies. Man of the Neolithic and Bronze
Ages, though deficient in the artistic skill of his Palaeolithic
predecessor, exhibited some selective taste even in matters of daily
life. Often one lights upon an implement which has been made from a
particular substance chosen for its natural beauty. Thus, one perforated
hammer is of a green colour; another, of gneissose rock, is banded
alternately black and white; a third, from a Wiltshire barrow, contains
a mass of fossil serpulae (worm-tubes). Sir John Evans, who records the
last-named example, leaves it an open question whether superstition or
love of beauty determined the choice[760]. While, as already suggested,
the detached fossil was probably regarded as a charm, the section of
such a fossil, visible on the surface of a polished celt, or the
delicately moulded impression of a shell on a flint flake, was carefully
left untouched, mainly for artistic reasons. One occasionally sees an
axe in which a fossil remains intact, yet the tool was meant for
everyday use. Scrapers, too, are often deftly fashioned from portions of
a banded flint, and many arrow-heads chipped from agate or chalcedony
speak of beauty as well as utility. In the course of time such objects
may indeed have appealed to their owners as talismans.

Endowed, then, with acute vision which was trained to a high degree
along certain lines, and gifted with the first glimmerings of artistic
taste, prehistoric man learned to appreciate any conspicuous and
attractive-looking fossil. That very common chalk fossil, which seems to
have settled down finally to the name of _Porosphaera globularis_, and
which is by general consent now regarded as a sponge, was a special
favourite with men of the Barrow period. This small, spherical fossil,
unfortunately nameless among common folk, occurs somewhat plentifully as
a flint “pebble” in drift gravels which have originally been eroded from
the chalk. Sometimes the _Porosphaera_ has a natural perforation,
corresponding with one of its diameters, and thus the searcher could
obtain a ready-made bead. By stringing together these fossils, a
necklace was formed, and of these necklaces, the “threads” of which have
perished, the number of flint “beads” found in the barrows supply
convincing testimony. The salient fact is that, in several recorded


     FIG. 60. Specimens of the fossil sponge _Porosphaera_ (=
     _Coscinopora_) _globularis_, with orifices artificially enlarged.

     A, B, C, sections of the fossil; A, with hole artificially enlarged
     at both ends; B, in the middle; C, at one end only. D, E, F, show
     the natural shapes of _Porosphaera_, and the attempts made to
     enlarge the openings. H, J, K, L, exhibit sections of the “beads,”
     which contained a little organic matter, probably the remains of
     the ligament by which the beads were strung. G is a perforated
     fossil shell.

the fossils were found in groups; thus precluding natural agencies as a
cause of their occurrence. In ordinary circumstances, the fossils would
be isolated and scattered throughout the gravels somewhat sparingly.
Moreover, Mr James Wyatt, who examined over 200 specimens of
_Porosphaera_, believed, from markings which were visible when sections
were cut, that in several cases the hole had been artificially enlarged
with a drill[761] (Fig. 60). To enumerate barrows which have yielded
this particular fossil would be wearisome, but another globular fossil,
the beautifully ornamented echinoderm known as _Cidaris_, deserves a
note. Evans records his having seen specimens of this fossil bored so as
to form part of a Saxon necklace, and, in other cases, to serve as

Among the other grave-mound fossils, those of cephalopods find a place.
A considerable number of belemnites lay in a “large” [i.e. British or
pre-Saxon] Dorsetshire barrow opened in the eighteenth century by
Colonel Drax. Douglas, who saw the specimens, figures one of them in his
_Nenia Britannica_[763]. Canon Greenwell found a portion of an ammonite
lying beside a skeleton in one of the Yorkshire mounds[764]. It is well
to remember that a black ammonite, of which the species is not stated,
is associated with the religious ceremonies of the Brahmans, being
regarded by the devout as the embodiment of Vishnu[765]. Some of the
larger fish teeth, occurring as fossils, also come in our list. In a
tumulus described by Dr Henry Woodward, the sides of the grave were
lined with the teeth of _Lepidotus_ (= _Sphaerodus_) _gigas_, a Mesozoic
fish allied to the “bony pike” of North American lakes and rivers. In
one case a locket-like arrangement was noticed, a kind of keyhole having
been cut in the tooth[766]. I record this evidence, but not having seen
the specimens referred to, cannot express an opinion on the individual
example, and will merely say that the artificial nature of the hole is
antecedently probable. But it is only right to add that doubt has been
cast on the necessity of invoking human skill to explain certain of
these orifices. Some species of boring mollusc may possibly have been
the real agent. One recalls the controversy respecting the perforated
sharks’ teeth of the Crag formation. To explain this feature, Mr H. A.
Burrows suggested that the cavities originally represented hollows for
the passage of blood-vessels, and that the perforations had been
completed by subsequent friction and solution. It remains to be noted
that the first collectors of fossil fish teeth lived in Palaeolithic
times, since specimens, associated with flint flakes, were found at the
celebrated “Palaeolithic floor” at Stoke Newington[767]. Similarly,
fossil and “recent” shells, perforated for suspension, have been found
in the Palaeolithic caves of France and Belgium[768]. A limestone
cavern, opened by M. Dupont in the latter country in 1860, yielded a
collection of fossil molluscan shells, including _Cerithium_, which must
have been brought a distance of 40-50 miles. Accompanying the fossils
were a piece of fluor spar and other curiosities, so that it has been
suggested, with reason, as well as mirth, that here was a primitive
museum[769]. British barrows have furnished specimens of the joints of
encrinites (“sea-lilies”), known in folk-lore as “St Cuthbert’s
beads[770].” In one case the specimen had actually been bored for
stringing[771]. It is probable, indeed, that from the earliest ages men
have never ceased to collect these beautiful little “beads.”

Land-and sea-shells, not usually so hard as the fossil species, have
also been assiduously collected by early man for funeral gifts. It has
been asserted that nearly every barrow on the Chalk Downs contains
land-shells[772]. Limpet shells have been found under the megaliths of
Cornwall and Brittany[773]. Saxon graves in Kent frequently yield, not
only native land-and sea-shells, but also exotic cowries, which must
have come from the East[774]. Necklaces made of the curious little
shell, known from its shape as the “elephant’s tusk” (_Dentalium_), are
recorded from barrows, and there is also a note of the discovery of the
“Venus’s ear” (_Haliotis_)[775]. The catalogue might be extended, but it
is already long enough to illustrate the topic under discussion.

Mention must be made of a parallel custom which was observed in Lapland
in both ancient and modern times. Old Lappish graves opened near
Varanger Fiord contained, besides our familiar quartz and flint, numbers
of sea-urchins, presumably, though it is not explicitly so stated,
belonging to recent species[776]. More interesting were the
snail-shells, known by the Laplanders as _Hundsjael_, or “dog-souls,”
and mussel-shells, or “cow-souls.” It seems that the natives, down to a
comparatively recent period, treasured fossils and queerly-shaped stones
as fetishes. Nordvi, who opened the graves, conjectured that the shells
were substitutes for living dogs and cows, these animals being too
precious for sacrifice[777]. This explanation is plausible as an
explanation of this particular case. The natives of Ceylon, however,
employed shells of a certain species for funeral purposes[778], and
altogether the custom is too widely known to be explicable on narrow
grounds. To round off these examples, we may note the strange cases
reported from Frampton church, near Boston, in Lincolnshire. Several
stone coffins, discovered in this church, were found to be filled with
sand, together with the shells of cockles and other molluscans. The
shells had evidently been placed in the receptacles by design, and as
the bones had not perished, the speculation was put forward that the
purpose of the shells was to preserve the skeleton[779]. This solution
of the puzzle does not appear to be allowable, but the circumstances are
certainly peculiar. The fact that the coffins were filled with material
leads us to suspect that they had been tampered with at some unknown
period[780]. Alternatively, we may suppose that the maritime folk of
Frampton were especially given over to the belief in shells, and carried
the principle to extremes. For the graves of sailors and fishermen are
eminently marked out for shell decoration, though, it is true, these
ornaments are now placed above ground. Frequently one reads of the
practice being observed when a sailor dies in a strange land.

Our list of grave ornaments is by no means exhausted. Brooches and pins,
armlets and bracelets, trinkets of gold or silver, perforated boars’
tusks and crescents of wolves’ teeth, are among the relics known to the
barrow-digger. Oftentimes, the decorative and the useful objects lie
side by side. We have already noticed Pliny’s allusion to mirrors. A
valuable commentary is afforded by the old Swedish custom of depositing
a looking-glass in the coffin of an unmarried woman[781]. Instances of
the discovery of golden ornaments abound in archaeological handbooks. We
look around for an instance of survival, and meet with a startling
example of recent date. The incident took place at the funeral of Lord
Palmerston in Westminster Abbey, in 1865, and is thus described by Mr
Moncure D. Conway: “The rain fell heavily, the wind howled about the old
walls, and in that darkness the body was lowered--gold rings along with
dust falling on the coffin[782].” This story is of the provoking kind
which makes the reader put questions, but Mr Conway, alas, has now also
passed beyond the reach of inquiries, and we must be content with the
definite statement, inherently probable, and made in all honesty.
Perhaps light may come from a study of the practice of presenting rings
at funerals to the mourners,--a custom frequently alluded to by John
Evelyn in his _Diary_. Were these funeral gifts ever thrown into the
grave as votive offerings?

With the foregoing incident we may compare the evidence given in the
_Victoria History of Cornwall_, tending to show that the practice of
burying rings, coins, and other articles, was common in Cornwall during
the Mediaeval period and lasted until the latter part of the sixteenth
century. Still more singular is the persistence of the practice of
laying combs along with the other mortuary furniture. Wooden combs are
not unusually found in settlements of the Bronze Age[783], and examples
in bone are of common occurrence on Early Iron Age sites. It is
believed, however, that some of these combs were employed, not for
arranging the hair, but for pressing home the weft in the manufacture of
fabrics[784]. But when we approach the Saxon period, we find the
ordinary comb installed as a recognized grave gift. Contemporary burials
on the Continent, in North France, in Luxembourg, in Belgium, tell the
same story[785]. The Saxon combs, incised with lines and circles, were
laid in the graves both of men and women. Turning to our _Hydriotaphia_,
and reading once more of Browne’s discovery, in his beloved Norfolk, of
“nippers” and “combs handsomely wrought[786],” we are tempted to pursue
the matter. The sequel is curious: combs, in later history, appear to
have been reserved for burials of members of the priestly order. The
beginnings of the practice are seen as early as the days of St Cuthbert,
on whose breast was found, when his body was disinterred in Durham
Cathedral, a plain simple Saxon comb of ivory[787]. Later records are
numerous, and it has been conjectured that the combs were those which
had been used at the first tonsure of the novice[788]. The comb played
an important part in Mediaeval ritual, as related by Dr Daniel Rock.
These objects were of ivory, elaborately carved, and studded with gems.
At the High Mass, the hair of the celebrant was combed by someone
appointed for that purpose, this coadjutor varying according to the rank
of his superior[789]. Mr Romilly Allen, in discussing the changes in the
methods of sepulture brought about by the spread of Christianity,
asserts that no objects were placed in the grave with the Christian
dead[790]. This pronouncement, even when made by such a high authority,
must not be accepted literally. Apart from the comb, ecclesiastics had
other special articles buried with them. Mr Allen himself notices the
striking exception of burying a crozier in the coffin of a bishop[791].
The chalice and paten were also commonly deposited with priests.
Specimens of these articles, with a pair of scissors, were found in the
coffin of St Cuthbert. Dr Rock tells us, too, that small wooden crosses,
gilded with metal, were placed in the coffin, and on the breast of the
corpse was a parchment scroll, inscribed with the Absolution. Again,
while on the one hand, Professor Tylor has shown that the early
Christians of Rome and Greece retained the heathen custom of placing in
the tomb articles of toilet and children’s playthings[792]; on the
other, records prove that in our own country there has always been a
secret longing to place gifts in the grave. The truth seems to be that,
down to our own day, there has existed among the more ignorant classes
an undercurrent of belief, essentially pagan in its origin, usually
driven under by the external pressure of orthodoxy and public opinion,
but so strong and permanent, that it often reaches the surface, to the
surprise of the more intelligent folk. But the heathen belief has been
present all the time, and need not greatly astonish us, since the most
advanced materialist is frequently a victim of trivial superstitions
which are scouted by scientific men as absurd and baseless.

The fourth group of articles with which we have to deal, comprising
objects partly useful and partly symbolical or commemorative, will not
detain us long. The sole reason for considering this miscellaneous group
separately is its diversified character--the objects do not so readily
fall into classes. One or two modern examples will illustrate the kind
of collection sometimes met with. While this chapter was being written,
the daily newspaper supplied an account of the burial of a gipsy woman
and her son at Tiverton. All the woman’s jewellery was deposited in her
coffin, and, by the side of her son, the mourners laid his watch and
chain. All the other personal effects were burned. A short time
previously the same journal had recorded the funeral of an old mountain
hermit at Carnarvon. The dead man was buried in his ordinary clothes,
and with him were placed his pipe, his tobacco pouch and walking-stick.
Only a whim, exclaims the careless reader, but the fancy was not bred
for the first time in the brain of that old recluse. Other folk, not
unobservant, recognize that such a miscellany of votive offerings is
evidence of an older condition of culture, and that the variety of
objects proves only the decay of tradition, with a consequent confusion
of ideas. To some degree this is true, but the ethnologist and the
archaeologist can decipher the meaning otherwise, and can show that
primitive peoples love to offer a wealth of objects. First, the student
of ethnology notices similar customs prevailing in many countries. The
practice was well known to the ancients, and the translator of Ovid has
thus rendered the idea:

    “Tombs have their honours, too, our parents crave
     Some slender present to adorn the grave....
     They only ask a tile, with garlands crowned,
     And fruit and salt to scatter on the ground.”

Salt, by the way, was formerly strewn on graves in the North of England.
Sir William Turner tells how the grave of an aboriginal Australian
savage, who was buried only a little over sixty years ago, contained a
varied assortment of articles, not all of quite the same age.
The list included a large piece of flint and the handle of a
pocket-knife--probably fire agents--a clay pipe, an iron spoon, and the
remains of a rusted pannikin[793]. In Bengal, modern graves have
revealed such diverse objects as rice, tinfoil coins, pipes, paper
houses, and models of boats[794]. Thus the custom under notice, though
of isolated occurrence in Britain, has its correlative in other lands.
But even in Britain, one hears whisperings of weird customs. A lock of
wool used to be placed in the coffins of Wiltshire shepherds. The
traditional explanation was that shepherds are often unavoidably absent
from church, and the wool was a guarantee that the nature of the man’s
calling would not be overlooked at the great assize. But elsewhere we
read of the desire to inter some tool or vessel typical of the
occupation of the deceased person; and with this habit we might connect
the practice, common in Scotland and the North of England, of carving
tools and implements on gravestones.


     FIG. 61. Roman Sepulchral chest, found at Avisford, Sussex. The
     chest was formed out of a single block and was covered with a flat
     slab. The square glass vessel in the middle contained calcined
     bones. Around this vessel were disposed three earthen vases with
     handles, several paterae, a pair of sandals, an oval dish, with
     handle, scalloped round the edge, containing a transparent
     egg-shaped agate. Three lamps are fixed on supporting projections
     of stone.

The archaeologist advances to inspect examples of early tombs rich in
funeral relics. He pauses a moment to remark the abundance of objects
sometimes found in Saxon graves: swords and buckets, rivets and nails,
weighing scales and bunches of keys, drinking-cups, brooches, buttons,
and many other articles[795]. The Romans, too, besides entombing coins
and jewellery, added such objects as sandals, glass vessels, and
amphorae[796] (Fig. 61). The taste for accumulating grave-gifts can be
observed in the earlier Barrow period. A Bronze Age barrow at Aldbourne,
Wiltshire, supplies perhaps the most noteworthy example. This grave
contained an exceptional number of articles. Besides the “incense-cup,”
with its characteristic ornament, the excavators found, among the burnt
bones, a small bronze knife and two bronze awls, each tool bearing signs
of having passed through the funeral fire. Beads were also discovered,
wrought from such different materials as glass-paste, amber, and
lignite, and one from the stem of an encrinite. The list further
included a large flat ring and a pendant ornament of lignite, a conical
button made of shale, a small polished pebble of haematite, and the cast
of a cardium shell, presumably in a fossil condition. The flint flakes,
the arrow-heads and shards, the bones, tusks, and teeth of animals,
which complete the list[797], seem unimpressive by the side of such a
collection. Here then, in very early times, we see the system of funeral
gifts highly developed. The abundance of objects displayed in the
Aldbourne barrow may indicate the burial of someone whose importance was
pre-eminent, but in other cases, where the number, rather than the
value, of the gifts is noticeable, there seems to have been a desire to
supply the deceased person with all things conveniently obtainable.
Food, weapons, and charms, ornaments and luxuries were thus provided.
Our modern representative relics of this cultural stage furnish a list,
meagre by comparison, but still significant by reason of its eclectic
character. The same idea, materialized in somewhat different forms,
impelled the man of old and the man of yesterday. Belief in a future
state, at times modified by fear and faint in its expression, at others
amounting to a profound conviction, has tinctured almost all of our
funeral ceremonies. Savage and sage, for some thousands of years past,
seem to have acted towards the dead in accordance with the word of our
English philosopher: “It is the heaviest stone that melancholy can throw
at a man to tell him he is at the end of his nature[798].”

We have yet to review, very briefly, three or four interesting subjects
which fall within the scope of this already lengthy chapter. The Burial
Service of the Anglican Church provides for earth to be cast on the
coffin “by some standing by,” while the priest pronounces the solemn
words, “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” This combination
of phrases has been traced to a similar passage in the Sarum Manual, a
passage founded in turn, it is supposed, on several Biblical
expressions[799]. A little doubt, however, hangs over the ultimate
origin of the words of the Commendation, though the precise form of the
phrases may be due to Scriptural influence. The idea underlying the
words, and its mode of operation, are alike ancient. For my part, I
think that the expression plainly points to a time when cremation and
inhumation were both familiar to the community; that is to say, some
equivalent words were used when the early Christians of Britain had
begun to combat, not altogether with success, the system of burning the
body. If the words “earth to earth” and “dust to dust” stood alone, it
might fairly be argued that the compilers of the earliest Services
believed literally in the creation of man from the dust. But the phrase
“ashes to ashes” forbids that interpretation. It has, so far as may be
known, never been taught that man originally came from ashes, though,
figuratively, in moments of contrition, he has declared himself to be
“but dust and ashes.” The collocation of the phrases seems to betray a
compromise between modes of burial. Parenthetically, we note that the
Roman practice, as described by Horace, was to cast earth three times
upon the body[800]. Until this was done, the spirit could not enter
Elysium. It is probable that a like custom goes back to the Barrow
period. Canon Greenwell supposes that, at a barrow funeral, each of the
tribesmen carried his portion of earth, probably in a basket[801]. This
conjecture receives support from the conduct of certain South African
tribes, the members of which share the task of scooping together the
material for the burial-mound, using however, for that purpose, the
hands alone. The same procedure is followed by Lascars when burying a
comrade in a strange land[802].

Let us examine a little further this co-operation of the mourners, as
testified by actual survival. As already stated, the rubric directs that
the earth shall be cast upon the body “by some standing by,” while the
priest repeats the collect or “Commendation.” In practice, the sexton
usually throws in the earth, although I feel certain that I have more
than once seen the officiating clergyman perform this office. The
rubric, as we know it, was formulated in the year 1552. Prior to that
date, the soil was cast upon the corpse by the priest[803]. We may take
it that this was the more common practice in Mediaeval times. The
ceremony was also rendered symbolical in some districts by strewing the
earth in the form of a cross[804]. Again, as in the Ritual of Brixen,
the priest scattered the earth three times with a shovel[805]. In the
Greek rite, too, the lot fell to the priest[806]. Among the Jews, each
relative of the dead person threw earth on the coffin[807], and there
are records of a like observance in Christian communities[808]. The
daily newspapers occasionally report instances of the practice in our
own day. Taking these isolated examples, and comparing them with the
custom, once common in rural England, of five or six persons assisting
the sexton to fill up the grave[809], we can outline a simple
hypothesis. The early Christians probably followed their heathen
contemporaries in allowing the interment to be a common labour.
Afterwards, the throwing in of handfuls of earth--and perhaps of ashes
also (cf. p. 290 _supra_, concerning charcoal)--was a rite in which many
took part, the antiphonal service being chanted during the act. In the
later Mediaeval period the priest seems largely to have usurped the
office. The Reformation allotted the function once more to the mourners
in general, at least nominally, and on rare occasions the right is still
exercised. The original meaning is forgotten, and symbolism is evoked to
explain the practice. And just as some writers are content to see, in
the ashes, merely a symbol of penitence and humiliation, as illustrated
in the old Ash Wednesday observances, so other authorities, with what
appears to be a short view, deem the earth simply typical of man’s
reputed origin and mortality: _Hodie mihi, cras tibi_. It seems more in
accord with facts to recognize the bit of soil thrown into the grave as
a vestigial proof of the continuity of habit, weakened to some degree
because the ceremony, instead of being generally shared by the mourners,
is performed vicariously by the sexton.

The next survival to claim our attention is illustrated by the
Lancashire custom, in vogue not further back than the year 1888, of
sending a small sheaf of wheat to be distributed, at the time of the
funeral, to the relatives of the deceased person[810]. At once the words
of the Burial Service, and the Scriptural allusion to the “corn of
wheat,” come to mind[811]. The ancient Christians considered wheat to be
a symbol of the resurrection of the body, and this idea is exemplified
on a gem described by De Montfaucon. The ear of wheat, carved in wood or
stone, seems to perpetuate an old pagan belief. The custom, in varied
forms, is as widespread as it is time-honoured. At a modern Greek
funeral two men were observed carrying each a dish of parboiled wheat to
be deposited over the corpse[812]. General Pitt-Rivers quotes Professor
Pearson to the effect that the burning of corn on graves was forbidden
by the Church in Saxon times[813]. This ban implies that the practice
had its roots in pagan soil, so that all that the Christians did was to
change the underlying principle. General Pitt-Rivers himself found ears
of corn mixed with the sand near a Romano-British grave which contained
a skeleton, and he also recorded the finding of charred wheat in
contiguity with skeletons belonging probably to the Roman period[814].
Closely connected with these observances is the practice of placing corn
and other articles of food on the grave. Instances are multitudinous. In
the recesses of the Pamirs, corn, berries, and flowers are the
offerings[815]; the Spaniards deposit bread and wine on the anniversary
of death; the Bulgarians hold a special Feast of the Dead on Palm
Sunday, and eat the remains of the funeral offerings[816]. The subject
is, indeed, wide and complicated. At the back of the attenuated ceremony
of to-day lies the primitive belief in the life of the dead, with the
consequent feasts and sacrifices. The inquiry, upon which we cannot now
enter, soon leads us into an investigation of the corn-gods and “gods of
cultivation,” which are associated with the religions of primitive
folk. For a discussion of these matters, the reader is referred to the
exhaustive works of Professor Frazer and Mr Grant Allen.

With respect to the burial feasts of the prehistoric period, the line of
descent might be easily traced. The funeral suppers given by the Greeks
and Romans to the relatives of a dead person are frequently referred to
by classical authors. Similar feasts are mentioned by our English
writers from the time of Robert de Brunne (fl. A.D. 1288-1338)
onwards[817]. Huge repasts--shall we not say orgies?--continued in
fashion until the eighteenth century at least. Brand relates that, at
the funeral of a Highland lord in 1725, not fewer than 100 black cattle
and 300 sheep were slain “for the entertainment of the company[818].”
Nowadays the feast has dwindled, in most localities, to a glass of wine
and a biscuit. But there have been some amazing exceptions. Canon
Atkinson, in the earlier years of his incumbency at Danby-in-Cleveland,
about the middle of the nineteenth century, found that the “funeral
bak’d meats” were held in high esteem. On the death of a villager of
importance, invitations were sent out “not merely by the score, but by
the hundred. I have myself counted,” he says, “more than three hundred
seated in the church on at least four, if not five, different occasions.
And the rule is, and, still more, was, that the preponderating majority
of these ‘went to the burial’ at the house where the corpse lay,
beginning at ten o’clock and continuing to drop in, according to
convenience or distance to be traversed, throughout the morning and
afternoon till it became time to ‘lift the body’ and make a start for
the church. And all these were fed--entertained, rather--at the house of
mourning, if it chanced to be that of one of the principal inhabitants.”
All day long there were relays of visitors, from a dozen up to a score,
smoking and drinking at the house[819]. During the latter part of the
entertainment glasses of wine were handed round, with crisp cakes,
colloquially known as “averils” or “averil bread[820].” Canon Atkinson
traced this word thus: _averil_, _avril_, then by transposition, _arvil_
or _arvel_ (= heir-ale). This “heir-ale,” or succession-ale, thus stands
for the feast at which the heirs drank themselves into their father’s
land. It is interesting to note that this etymology is supported by the
highest authorities--for example, by the _New Oxford Dictionary_.

Whilst insisting on the continuity of custom and folk-memory, as proved
by survivals, it would be very unwise to ignore the changes which have
been gradually taking place since the Barrow period. Looking, for the
moment, at extreme cases, the actual result appears to reveal a wide
gap, and for the sake of contrast, I will quote Mr Grant Allen’s
fanciful description of the burial of a chieftain in a long barrow on
Ogbury Downs, Wiltshire. The passage is long and somewhat ornate, but,
because it is probably correct in most of the details, and helps us to
“visualize the past,” it shall be given in full. “I saw them bear aloft,
with beating of breasts and loud gesticulations, the bent corpse of
their dead chieftain: I saw the terrified and fainting wives haled along
by thongs of raw oxhide, and the weeping prisoners driven passively like
sheep to the slaughter: I saw the fearful orgy of massacre and rapine
around the open tumulus, the wild priest shattering with his gleaming
tomahawk the skulls of his victims, the fire of gorse and low brushwood
prepared to roast them, the heads and feet flung carelessly on the top
of the yet uncovered stone chamber, the awful dance of blood-stained
cannibals around the mangled remains of men and oxen, and, finally, the
long task of heaping up above the stone hut of the dead king the earthen
mound that was never again to be opened to the light of day till, ten
thousand years later, we modern Britons invaded with our prying,
sacrilegious mattock the sacred privacy of the cannibal ghost[821].”

A curious side-question is raised by this mention of funeral feasts--the
difficulty sometimes felt in accounting for the abundance of teeth,
human and non-human, in ancient graves. Granted, that the heads of
animals might be thrown into the grave as uneatable, or, perchance, as
having accredited virtues, and granted, again, that teeth are among the
most durable portions of a skeleton, the facts are occasionally
puzzling. Baron de Baye suggests that the heads of sacrificial
animals--he is referring to the Saxon period--were fixed on large stakes
as offerings to the gods, and that, as the heads decayed, the teeth
became detached, and were scattered over the ground, to be accidentally
mixed with the soil when a fresh burial took place[822]. The explanation
may be partially true, but one thinks that a simpler solution is at
hand, in the successive interments and sacrifices which would be
associated with one grave. This would lead to inevitable mingling of
bones and teeth, and if, as is probable, the skeletons of the dead were
often kept some time before they were buried, the confusion would be
increased. This would account for the numbers of human teeth found in
the Late-Celtic cemetery at Harlyn Bay, not corresponding to the
skeletons with which they were associated. In one cist there were
twenty-three teeth which did not belong to that particular
interment[823]. Though putting forward the prosaic explanation of
unintentional mixture, I think that there is another phase of the
question--the superstitious. Among primitive folk there is commonly a
belief in the efficacy of human bones as talismans. The atlas and axis
bones of the neck have been preserved for this purpose, and the skull
especially has been treasured and worshipped[824]. It is very probable
that pieces of human skulls which had, either in life or after death,
undergone the operation of trepanning, were kept as mascots. And,
remembering the part played by teeth in folk-lore and superstition, one
is compelled to retain an open mind on the subject of teeth found in
ancient graves. Messrs Spencer and Gillen have described, in a vivid
manner, the ceremony of knocking out the teeth, as performed by some of
the tribes of Central Australia. The operation is accompanied by the
drinking of blood as an act of fealty, the displaced teeth being
pounded, laid on a scrap of meat, and eaten by a specified
relative[825]. Again, in Cornwall, the very county, as it happens, in
which Harlyn Bay is situated, teeth were formerly stolen from the
coffins under the floors of churches and sold as charms against
disease[826]. According to the Devonshire superstition, a tooth bitten
out of a churchyard skull will ward off toothache, and the Shropshire
peasant has a similar legend[827]. All over England we hear of the fancy
for preserving or ceremonially burning teeth which have been extracted.
Somersetshire women would hide the teeth in their hair[828], but more
usually, the teeth, like the parings of the nails and locks of hair, are
burnt, lest they should fall into the hands of an enemy who, by
“sympathetic magic,” might injure the whole body of the owner[829]. The
most suggestive evidence, however, comes from Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and
Cornwall. In those counties all the teeth shed during a person’s
lifetime were saved and placed in his coffin, being “required at the
Resurrection.” Authentic instances are on record[830].

We have now surveyed, however inadequately, our modes of burial, the
forms of the graves, the gifts deposited with the dead, and funeral
feasts, and incidentally we have noticed a number of superstitions. We
may fittingly terminate the discussion by glancing at the closing
ceremony of a modern funeral--the placing of flowers on the grave. The
practice has its aesthetic as well as its religious side, and
represents the refinement of ideas which are really very ancient. Even
in the time of Durandus, the funeral evergreens were deemed to be
symbolical only[831]. The rite of strewing graves with flowers was
symbolical, too, among the Romans. Yet this kindly ceremony belongs, in
the first place, to the pre-Christian age[832], and we are bound to
believe that the original objects scattered over the dead were neither
evergreens nor flowers. Perhaps these prototypes were the flints and
shards of which we have spoken. These “forgotten things, long cast
behind,” have reappeared, in a more attractive guise, and, consecrated
by time, have secured a firm hold in the sentiments of European



To weave romance and mystery around the four points of the compass might
appear an impossible task, yet this feat was successfully performed by
our rude forefathers, to whose primitive minds the plain, undeviating
phenomena of Nature conveyed comfort or warning. A few simple
superstitions, bequeathed from father to son, and ever amplified
throughout a thousand generations, became at last a somewhat complex
body of doctrine. This accumulated lore is now being rapidly scattered
to the winds by the growth of science and the spread of education, but
stray fragments may still be gathered by the student.

The magnetic compass, of which the history is a little uncertain (see p.
228, _supra_), may be put aside in our present inquiry, since it belongs
to a state of society of comparatively high development. The
unembellished teaching which is to be examined dates far earlier than
the birth of science in the Middle Ages, or the period of the
introduction of the magnetic needle into Europe. We shall find, however,
that the folk-lore of the Cardinal Points received many additions at the
hands of Mediaeval symbolists. The mythology of that epoch has, indeed,
been fitly compared to a complex alloy, formed by the blending of pure
ores from various sources. The traditions of previous ages were
retained, and blended, but new material was thrown into the crucible.

Certain patent facts would appeal even to the elementary minds of the
Stone Age men. These folk saw the sun rise daily in the East, traverse
the sky by way of the South, and finally set at evening in the West.
Birth and brightness were followed by ascendancy and power; the descent
led to disappearance and darkness. There was the dawn, followed by warm
beams which dispersed both gloom and vapour. The blue South yielded the
heat of noonday, at which time the sunbeams were genial, even in the
depth of winter. But when the dying sun had withdrawn for the day,
primitive men would experience discomfort and uneasy forebodings. This
disappearance of the great luminary, the lord and giver of life, was a
permanent mystery; the rebirth next morning was even more perplexing. At
a later period, the men of China and North America, of Greece and Rome,
evolved curious explanations of these phenomena, but at first only the
physical effects of the sun’s apparent movements would concern the
barbaric mind.

Very early in the growth of ideas man would learn that the position of
the sun was a good index of direction. It has been mooted whether the
most ancient method of denoting direction, that is, “orientation” in its
wider sense, was not to describe the speaker’s surroundings, or to
indicate natural features known to him and his fellows[833]. Thus, a
hunter might speak of a place by reference to some prominent rock or
tree; his direction might, in the same way, be told in terms of the
prevailing winds. One is nevertheless driven to believe that simple
observations of the sun’s position would be made almost as soon as man
began to take notice of any natural features or occurrences whatever; in
either case, any slight priority of method is of such trivial account as
to be negligible.

Seeing that the East and West points are much more clearly marked than
the North and South, one would naturally expect that the ancients found
those points more convenient as standards. To make accurate use of the
North-to-South direction, one would either need to have an approximate
method of determining time by the length of shadows, or to know how to
find the Pole Star or the Great Bear by night. The modern schoolboy is
occasionally taught to reckon his position by facing the East, and long
ago Canon Isaac Taylor suggested that some of the early Aryan peoples
similarly took the East as their standard[834]. According to this
authority, the place-name Deccan is connected with the Latin _dexter_,
the right hand, that is, the right hand as the observer faces the East.
On this view, Deccan would be the right-hand, or South country. As an
analogy, Taylor cites the Arabic word _yemin_, which means both
right-hand and South (whence el-Yemen for Southern Arabia)[835]. These
ideas have received considerable modern support. The Welsh name for
South, _dehau_, like the Old Irish _dess_ (Mod. Irish, _deas_) means
also right-hand[836]. Hence we get _Deheu-dir_, the South land, for
South Wales, and the Brit-Latin adjectives, _dextralis_, Southern;
_sinistralis_, Northern. So, too, the Continental names, Texel and
Teisterbant, are supposed to mean places lying towards the South[837].
Similarly, with the Eskimos, the words used for North and South
correspond with those used for the sides of the body[838]. Other
languages might be cited to show like peculiarities, but it will be
sufficient here to note a few curious instances of folk-memory
illustrative of the root idea.

The Jewish rabbis taught that man was born with his face towards the
East; hence the right and left hand directions were respectively
indicative of good and evil[839]. We infer this from the New Testament
parable, wherein the sheep are set on the right hand and the goats on
the left. Our words _dexterous_ and _sinister_ have a groundwork of the
old belief to support them; the latter word, at least, is not
exclusively concerned with physical awkwardness or ineptitude. The
superstition concerning the left-hand colours the current meaning. A
difficulty, however, arises when we discover that the Roman augurs
deemed the left side indicative of good-luck. How can the two ideas be
reconciled? Schrader conjectures that the East, and not the North side,
was intended as the equivalent of the left hand, the supposition being
that the soothsayer faced the South in his divination. Seyffert states
this as a fact, adding that, in ancient Greece, augurs looked towards
the North[840]. The Greek usage seems to be reflected in Homer’s
frequent employment of δεξιός, in the sense of favourable, or boding
good, with respect to the flight of birds and other omens. It would
appear that the Latin poets (e.g. Virgil and Livy) copied the Greek idea
and mode of expression, using the cognate word _dexter_ to denote
skilful or fortunate. This theory implies that the restricted meaning of
_dexter_ is borrowed, and is not directly derived from Roman augury.
Moreover, since the Roman diviner faced the South, _dexter_ could not be
applied to that point of the compass. To this extent, then, the attempt
to connect the word with Deccan and similar place-names breaks down. The
main conclusion, nevertheless, is little affected, namely, that words of
this character were often employed to distinguish the Cardinal Points.
The pitfall to be avoided is the assumption that superstitions and
beliefs everywhere take precisely the same form of expression. Professor
Skeat traces a connection, for example, between the Malay word _kidal_
(= South), and _kidul_ (= left-handed)[841]. This relationship would
suggest that the standard point for observation was the West, not the
East. In Greece and Rome, as we have seen, the North and South
respectively were so chosen.

In some districts, where the distinctive names of the four Cardinal
Points have been fully accepted, the reverse principle is seen at work:
the peasant, instead of using the terms “right hand” and “left hand” to
signify East and West, applies the compass points to indicate position
with respect to the body. Thus, in some parts of Scotland, one still
hears such expressions as “the East trouser pocket[842].” And Miss C. F.
Gordon-Cumming tells of an old Highland woman who inquired at the
post-office whether the envelope should be stamped in the East or the
West corner[843].

A little detail respecting the folk-lore of the Cardinal Points may not
be unacceptable. Taking first the East, we find that this quarter,
besides serving as the point of determination for certain races whose
speech was of the Aryan stock, was the reputed home of deities. We have
seen that folk of many climes turned to the East in prayer. That portion
of the firmament was symbolical of hope, and purity, and fulness of
life. Milton speaks of

... “the Eastern gate,
    Where the great sun begins his state”--

as if the grandeur of dawn could not be overlooked by the most
unresponsive eye. St Augustine considers the East emblematic of the
“Light of Heaven.” How important this point of the compass was esteemed
by Christian and pagan architects is proved by the practice of
orientation--the word itself marks out the idea. Hawker, of Morwenstow,
ever mystical in his beliefs, declared that the East was the realm of
oracles and represented the special throne of God, while the West was
the domain of the people--the Galilee of all nations[844].

The South, the region of warmth and midday, has always been beloved by
the religious, as well as the superstitious, of most countries,
especially in the Northern parts of the world. The prose Eddas speak of
the Southern edge of heaven as the everlasting abode of righteous men.
Again, one of the roots of the magic tree Yggdrasill springs from the
warm South side, over the Urdur fountain. The preference for the South
is well seen in ecclesiastical matters. The churchyard cross usually
stands on the South side of the church (Fig. 62). As will be shown in
Chapter IX., on this side the churchyard yew is most generally found.
The Southern doorway is somewhat more common than the Northern; where
both exist, the Southern is more in favour with the worshippers. On a
balance of observations, I find that the Southern side of a church is


     FIG. 62. Churchyard cross, on the South side of Bakewell church,
     Derbyshire. The cross, which belongs to the latter half of the
     eighth century, is complete, except the top arm. It exhibits
     foliage and fine interlaced work, with sculptured figures
     illustrating the Life and Death of Christ. (See _Vict. Hist. of
     Derby_, I. pp. 280, 287.) The cross is supposed to indicate a
     pre-Conquest burial ground.

elaborately decorated than the Northern (cf. p. 239, _supra_, and the
reservation there made), a fact illustrated in the mouldings and
capitals (Fig. 63), the window tracery and the painted glass. The
bishop’s throne is customarily placed on the South side of the
cathedral. The so-called “low side windows” (Fig. 64) occur most
frequently in the South walls. Those curious oblique passages, known as
squints or hagioscopes, cut through church walls (cf. p. 148, _supra_),
are most commonly Southern features, in which case they often point
directly to the Southern entrance of the building. In this country, we
are accustomed to look for the cloisters of a Benedictine abbey on the
South side of the church, but in Italy the covered way usually lies to
the North[845]. Here, all symbolism seems to be stripped away, and
primal considerations of comfort gain the ascendancy. Our variable
climate renders a sunny outlook desirable, and we notice efforts to
secure this end in the familiar arrangement of old farmsteads, where the
barns and enclosures frequently stand to the South of the dwelling. In a
hot country, like Italy, coolness and shade would be sought, hence we
find the dissimilar ground plan of the Italian abbeys.


     FIG. 63. Capitals, Seaford church, Sussex, (c. A.D. 1190.) A, from
     the North arcade, bears the ordinary stiff-leaved foliage of the
     period. B, from the South arcade, has elaborate carvings
     representing the Crucifixion, the Stoning of Stephen, and the
     Baptism of Christ.

But if the arrangement of the cloisters be adjudged a mere matter of
economy and convenience, there exist well-rooted superstitions which
cannot be so explained. “The front of everything to the South,” is an
old Irish maxim, and though, as Mr W. G. Wood-Martin suggests, the
saying may have reference to the ceremony of making the deiseal, or
right-hand circle, yet the words are pregnant of folk-custom. Formerly
the Irish ploughman turned the head of his horses towards the South
before yoking or unyoking. Taking an English example, we find that in
Suffolk, wherever the churches possessed both a


     FIG. 64. Quatrefoil low side window, on the South side of the
     chancel wall, Tatsfield church, Surrey. c. A.D. 1300. A feature
     most frequently found on the South side of churches.

North and a South entrance, it was the practice to carry the coffin into
the building by the South door, allow it to rest at the West end of the
aisle, and then take it out by the North door[846]. In Lincolnshire, the
North door was entirely reserved for funerals, the South and West doors
being used for weddings and christenings[847]. At baptisms, again, there
was a prevalent belief that the Holy Spirit entered the church by the
South door, while the devil departed through the opening opposite--the
Devil’s Door (Fig. 65). Lastly, to abbreviate our list of superstitions,
Pennant may be cited, to the effect that in North Wales the mourners
used to bring the corpse into the churchyard by means of the South gate
only[848]. With this we may compare the Welsh superstition that a
healing spring should have an outlet towards the South, and should be
visited at midsummer. Girls who wished to know their lovers’ intentions
were accustomed to spread a pocket-handkerchief over the water of the
well. If the waters pushed the handkerchief towards the South, so Sir
John Rhŷs informs us, the lovers were honest and honourable; if the
article shifted Northwards, the omen was bad. These marked preferences
for the South prove that the motive involved was sentimental as well as

[Illustration: FIG. 65. Devil’s Door (Saxon), Worth church, Sussex.
According to legend, the exorcized spirit passed through this door at
the time of the baptismal renunciation.]

We have referred to the superstitions connected with the East and the
South, and we now follow the sun to the region where he descends into
the dark underworld. Professor Tylor neatly expresses the symbolism of
these three positions: “Man’s life in dawning beauty, in midday glory,
in evening death[849].” The West, then, represents the kingdom of the
dead, and, by transfer of ideas, the territory of alien peoples. A
natural metaphor makes it the abode of shadow, of sleep, of ignorance of
the Divine. In sharp contrast to these ideas is the teaching of certain
races that the West is the Garden-land, the Earthly Paradise, “the new
heaven and the new earth[850].” Such notions, so directly contradictory
to the first-mentioned, seem to indicate worship paid to the setting sun
(cf. p. 217, _supra_).

The older advocates of the Asiatic origin of the Aryan peoples were led
captive by the proverb, “_Ex oriente lux_.” This phrase doubtless
influenced philologists like Pott and Müller, while to Grimm must be
credited the complementary epigram, “the irresistible impulse towards
the West[851].” Along with the fallacy hidden in these aphorisms there
is some amount of truth. Berkeley’s assertion, “Westward the course of
Empire takes its way,” is historically justified, and is still apposite
to a large degree. The more modern idea, expressed by Kipling, “Oh, East
is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet[852],” though
correct as a key to manners and customs, may be much canvassed if
applied to actual migrations of men. To carry our parallels further
would lead us to the purely fanciful, and would evoke the derision of
the scornful. Yet the mention of one more whimsical belief may be
pardoned on the ground of its age. Peter Heylyn gave utterance to the
idea two and a half centuries ago, though it is likely that he was a
borrower from earlier geographers. He tells us that the poets turn their
faces to the West, the Fortunate Islands, “so memorized and chanted by
them.” To the poets, then, the North is the right hand, the South is
left. But to the “Augures of old, and in our days, to Priests and Men in
holy Orders, [who] usually in sacrifice and divine oblations convert
themselves unto the East,” the South is the right hand. Astronomers face
the South, because in that way the motions of the planets may best be
observed. Finally, geographers, who have “so much to do with the
Elevations of the Pole,” turn their faces to the North, and, to them,
the left hand is West[853].

If the West, according to one superstition, is the realm of death, what
shall be said of the North? From that quarter no sunny rays are sent
forth. The North blast brings ice and snow. A time-honoured tradition
makes all fogs and storms rise from the Northern heavens[854]. Even
to-day the Wiltshire peasant avers that thunder always comes from the
North, though the sound may reach the ear from another direction[855].
The Northern slopes of an undulating meadow are overrun with moss and
tussocks of coarse grass. But lichens, lovers of sunlight, avoid the
North side of trees. An East-to-West wall built further North of East
than 41° 26´ can, in latitude 51° N., receive no rays of the sun except
on the South side. In the same manner a chancel which is deflected very
much towards the North gets no sunshine on that side, except in the
early morning, and then only in the summer season. Let hardy souls, like
Kingsley, extol the North wind, if they desire, but the mass of men will
still hold the icy blast in detestation. Hence the superstitions
regarding the North are closely knit with physical dislike and
discomfort, and rest on a basis of sound reason.

Bearing these facts in mind, we are not astonished to learn that early
beliefs allocated the North to the Spirit of Evil. The idea is rife
throughout the heathen legends of Northern nations[856]. The underworld,
in Teutonic mythology, is placed under the third root of the ash tree,
Yggdrasill, “low down toward the North,” where there is cold, eternal
night. In this mist-hell, the unhappy sojourner wanders down valleys
deep and dark; he enters joyless caverns; oftentimes, too, he hears the
roaring of the waterfall which belongs to the demons[857]. Nor are such
ideas confined to heathen folk. Again and again, in the Old Testament,
especially in Job and Isaiah, “the sides of the North” are represented
as the abode of the Prince of Darkness[858]. Even the New Testament has
faint allusions to the same belief. Naturally, then, English literature
became permeated with this idea. Shakespeare, all-embracing in his
references to prevailing superstitions, makes La Pucelle invoke
demons--“substitutes under the lordly monarch of the North[859].” In
_Paradise Lost_ we are told how the banded powers of Satan appear in
“the spacious North,” where the arch-rebel has erected his throne[860].
Milton recurs to the idea several times; thus, in one of the sonnets, we
meet with the epithet, “the false North[861].” Later poets, perhaps
unconsciously imitating Milton, have expressed the same fancy. Kirke
White, in the _Christiad_, the poem on which, as Southey tells us, the
hapless young poet bestowed most pains, placed his hosts of demons among
the impenetrable fogs and lamenting gales--

    “Where the North Pole, in moody solitude,
     Spreads her huge tracks and frozen wastes around[862].”

These illustrations show that the Northern quarter of the heavens was
the source of much superstition. The simple childish myth was often
amplified. Origen taught that the place of everlasting damnation was at
the earth’s centre, and that the entrance was situated at the North
Pole. Each time the Aurora Borealis flashed, the gates of hell opened
anew, and the wicked on earth were warned of their doom[863]. The
doctrine of fear of the North creeps in everywhere. The parish church,
according to some writers, is most suitably built on the North side of
the graveyard, so that it may not cast a shadow on the graves[864]. This
“rule” is undoubtedly beset by many transgressions, but it embodies a
tendency, and I have noticed some remarkable confirmations. Many
churchyards have but a very narrow strip of ground lying to the North of
the edifice. In spite of these instances, I consider that the
generalization is too definite, and that the alleged reason lacks
adequate support. The superstition concerning the Northern, or Devil’s
door, on the contrary, is general and well-authenticated.


     FIG. 66. Gateway, at Eastern entrance to St Stephen’s church,
     Coleman Street, London. The carving (5 feet × 2½ feet) on the upper
     portion was originally over the North gateway. The subject is the
     Day of Judgement, and the figures are in high relief. The Judge is
     seen enthroned above, Satan is falling from heaven, and the dead
     are rising from their coffins. Representations of this kind are
     often called “Dooms.”

The building itself affords evidence of the current superstition. Part
of this testimony was put forward, inferentially, when the South was
being considered; one or two additional facts may now be noticed. On the
Northern gate of the church, there were sometimes represented the
terrible scenes connected with the Last Judgement. An elaborate example
of this treatment formerly existed over the Northern gateway of St
Giles-in-the-Fields, London, and another at St Stephen’s, Coleman Street
(Fig. 66), though in each case the craftsman’s work now occupies a
different position[865]. Gloomy subjects, like the one mentioned, were
also reserved for the North face of the church by those Mediaeval
sculptors whose sermons in stone warned many long-past generations.
Rheims Cathedral has the terrors of the Last Day thus depicted on its
North side. The arrangements of the church services also show traces of
the influence now under discussion. In the North of Europe, where the
usual rule for orienting churches is observed, the Gospel is read from
the North side of the altar, so that, according to Mediaeval symbolism,
light may be given “to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of
death[866].” Or, as Durandus has it, the North side is allotted to
sinners, and the Gospel calls sinners to repentance[867]. Conversely,
the Epistle is read from the South side, the abode of the faithful and
the converted. If one person has to read both the Epistle and the
Gospel, he crosses from the South to the North before reading the latter
service. To account for this change of position, other reasons have been
advanced. Some writers think that the spread of the Word from the South
to the North is intended; others declare that the crossing over was a
matter of mere convenience. Moreover, while a similar custom prevailed
in the early churches of Rome, the position of the reader in those days
was to the right or left of the celebrant; consequently, where the
building was not alined East and West, the mystical interpretation could
not apply. Whatever be the origin or the date of the introduction of the
custom, it seems fairly conclusive that some such symbolical meaning was
understood during the Mediaeval period[868]. Nevertheless, we should be
on our guard against the meticulous and over-strained interpretations
which the symbolists are wont to produce for the most trivial ceremonies
and occurrences. Most readers will recall the passage in Ecclesiastes
concerning the fall of the tree to the South, or to the North. On these
expressions, Coverdale, in his treatise entitled “Praying for the Dead,”
bases a far-fetched fragment of symbolism. It runs as follows: “As men
die, so shall they arise; if in faith in the Lord, towards the South,
they need no prayers; they are happy, and shall arise in glory
presently; if in unbelief, without the Lord, towards the North then are
they past all help, in the damned state presently, and shall rise in
eternal shame[869].”

To descend to the prosaic affairs of life, we notice some curious facts
which seem to confirm the evil reputation of the North. It may be deemed
a trifle, but why did our ancestors, under the old open-field system of
cultivation, divide their territories into East, West, and South
Fields[870], not North? To reply that, since the land was cultivated
chiefly under a three-field system, with its three-course rotation of
crops, one quarter of the compass must necessarily be omitted, is
scarcely satisfactory. Why should it be the North particularly which is
avoided in the allotment of areas and in the nomenclature? Besides,
where the two-field system was in vogue, we commonly find East and West,
rather than North and South. One does not wish to press such nice
points, but was it by chance that in the old Lombardic boundary treaties
the Northern tract was styled “_nulla ora_[871]”? Undoubtedly, it is a
fair response to say that these matters were instinctively settled on
principles of convenience and physical comfort. The motive for the
choice was at first probably thus simple, but supplementary ideas sprang
up, and tended to harden the preference into a rule. One or two further
illustrations will now be given.

A study of the ancient Pilgrims’ Way of the South of England shows that
the Mediaeval wayfarers, and, doubtless, the far earlier prehistoric
folk, preferred to travel along the Southern slope of the hills, and
consistently avoided the Northern. The Southern, or drier, side of a
stream was also selected, wherever the pathway chanced to follow a
watercourse for a short distance. Mr Hilaire Belloc states that he has
counted but four exceptions to this rule in the whole course of the
Mediaeval Pilgrims’ Way. And, again, where the Mediaeval track leads to
a church, Mr Belloc asserts that it passes on the South side, leaving
the building on the North[872]. One exception seems to have been
overlooked by Mr Belloc--the church of Paddlesworth, near Snodland, in
Kent, which has the Pilgrims’ Way passing by its North door. Another
apparent exception, at Puttenham, Surrey, is accounted for by a modern
diversion of the old road.

Isaac Taylor, writing to prove the predilection of our forefathers for
the South, once asserted that there are more villages named Sutton than
Norton, Weston, or Aston[873]. He gave no statistics in support of his
contention, but the clue seemed worth following. I have therefore
examined the place-names contained in the most recent Post Office Guide,
and have supplemented these from other lists. All village-names
consisting of a single compounded word, one member of which is clearly
derived from the Cardinal Points, were counted and classified. Doubtful
examples were set aside; many others, though disguised under curious
orthographies, were properly included. The result showed

32  Nortons, + 58 other place-names obviously
       traceable to “North”                                  90

52  Suttons, + 49 other place-names obviously
       traceable to “South”                                 101

35  Astons and Eastons, + 38 other place-names
       obviously traceable to “East”                         73

41  Westons, + 63 other place-names obviously
       traceable to “West”                                  104

As might have been anticipated, the disparities are not so great as
Taylor’s statement implied, because, on the whole, the village-names run
in pairs; a North keeps company with a South. With respect to North and
South, there is indeed a slight preponderance in favour of the sunny
quarter. The Wests, likewise, outnumber the Easts, from which we may
infer that a sheltered situation was operative in determining the choice
of a site. The coombe which opened towards the West or South, and the
hill-slope similarly situated, would attract the first settlers.

The place-names which consist of two separate words, one of which was a
prefix indicating position, revealed somewhat similar preferences. Of
this class, comprising such names as North Cheam and West Ham, there
were 241 Wests to 181 Easts, thus confirming the first list. Then came a
surprise; 164 Norths against 133 Souths. There are, it is true, names
like North Cotes, with no corresponding South Cotes[874], but this also
holds good conversely. On the other hand, it is probable, either that
these double names which have not coalesced represent comparatively
recent parochial divisions (e.g. East and West Horsley, Surrey), or that
one name is a modern imitation or duplicate of the other (e.g. East and
West Wickham, Kent, several miles apart, the first being a later
geographical distinction). If any support is lent to Taylor’s dictum
therefore, it could only come from a consideration of names originally
given to genuinely ancient settlements, and to obtain these names a very
accurate and intimate study of thousands of local documents would be

Though not strictly concerned with the Cardinal Points, an old custom
which bears on the question of sites may be noticed here. This is the
pastoral habit, adopted by primitive shepherd folk, of living, during
summer, in booths or tents set up on elevated pastures, and of
descending, in winter, from these grazing grounds to the plains, where
there were substantial houses, each having its ox-stalls and other
outbuildings. The “summer-houses” may be preserved for us in many
place-names, as in Somerscales and Summer Lodge, Yorkshire; Somersby,
North and South Somercoates, Lincolnshire; besides Somergranges,
Somersall, Summerley, and many others in other counties. With these
places, one may compare the Norwegian settlements, known as _saeters_,
which exist to-day. There are also, in England, _sets_ or _seats_ (=
summer abodes), such as Moorseats, Outseats, Runsett, and
Thornsett[875]. The names indicative of winter sites are not so common,
perhaps because, representing permanent settlements, they required no
distinctive term; that is to say, it was the temporary hut which called
forth the need of a separate name. Against twenty “Summers” there are
opposed only nine “Winters,” reckoning the seventeen Winterbournes once
only: it is questionable whether this last name is an instance in point,
since it probably denotes a site where an intermittent stream was wont
to appear after rainy seasons. From the nature of the case, we should
expect no “Summerbournes.” Of the other Winters, one or two, like
Winteringham, may be reminiscent of a Saxon family name. The late Mr T.
W. Shore considered that not only the various Winterbournes, but also
Winterton and Winteringham, signify “Wendish” settlements, _Windr_ being
an old name applied to Northern nations[876]. This idea seems too
fanciful and strained, the more so, because, in the case of
Winterbourne, a simple explanation based on familiar physical phenomena
is at hand.

Returning to our proper subject, we find a curious superstition which
merits detailed examination, namely the general antipathy of country
folk to burial on the North side of the churchyard. This strange
aversion must have come within the experience of most antiquaries and
folk-lorists. During the peregrinations of many years, the writer has
collected a large number of instances illustrative of the belief, and a
few of these will be submitted.

So recently as the year 1904 there was buried, in a quiet Surrey
churchyard, the body of a well-known public man who had poisoned himself
shortly after receiving a sentence of penal servitude. The newspapers
duly recorded that the interment took place on the North side of the
churchyard, and that a specially adapted service was read, but no one
seemed to notice the significance of these details. An explanation, as
we shall see, is nevertheless discoverable. A few years earlier, in
1899, during the discussion of a Burials Bill, then before the House of
Commons, it was alleged that in most village churchyards there remained
burial accommodation sufficient for some time to come. Against this
plea, it was urged that the space still available was usually situated
on the North side of the graveyard, and that there was a rooted
objection among villagers to burial in that quarter. The Home Secretary
replied that he had never heard of the prejudice, and a somewhat general
incredulity as to its existence was revealed among the Commoners.
Thereupon a correspondent, writing to _Notes and Queries_, clinched the
argument based on superstition by quoting the inscription on a tombstone
in the graveyard of Epworth, the village of the Wesleys. The epitaph ran

    “That I might longer undisturb’d abide,
     I choos’d to be laid on this Northern side[877].”

Such a wish was no new, crazy fancy, for earlier instances are on
record. From an account published in 1657, we learn that Benjamin
Rhodes, steward to Thomas, Earl of Elgin, requested to be buried on the
North side of Malden churchyard (Bedford), “to crosse the received
superstition[878].” Combining the last two incidents, we may infer that
the Northern portion of the churchyard was little used, and that neglect
was due to its ill-repute. So, then, in the remark made by Edmund Burke,
“I would rather sleep in the Southern corner of a country churchyard
than in the tomb of the Capulets[879],” the indication of the Southern
position is not mere rhetoric. Let us proceed to examine some further
instances, in order to show that our generalization is sound.

At Winterton, a village not far from Epworth, at the time of the
controversy of which mention has been made, the burials on the North
side had all taken place within living memory. It was a matter of doubt
whether “a dozen gravestones, over fifty years old, could be found in as
many parishes in [that] deanery on the North sides of churchyards[880].”
Another Lincolnshire village, Springthorpe, had no Northern graves;
while, at Saltfleetby All Saints, so recently as 1880, as the present
writer can avouch, not a single stone or grave existed on the North
side, though monuments were closely crowded on the South side. Dr Alfred
Gatty, who was vicar of Ecclesfield, Yorkshire, for more than fifty
years, once stated that, in the early nineteenth century, there were
practically no interments in the North yard of his church. In the year
1823 a clergyman was buried in that portion, and the evil reputation was
banished[881]. Morwenstow, Cornwall, Hawker’s beloved “Daughter of the
Rock,” formerly exemplified the same superstition[882]. The prejudice
was especially strong in Norfolk[883]. It was also very prevalent in the
neighbouring county of Suffolk[884]. At Newbourne, in that county, while
the graveyard was filled on the South, East, and West, the turf had long
appeared unbroken on the North. “The bishop had never walked on it,” so
ran the story, and all endeavours to break down the superstition proved
fruitless for many years[885]. In churchyards situated in the Border
Counties, on both banks of the Tweed, the prejudice is barely removed
even at the time of writing. John Brand (A.D. 1744-1806) discovered
that, in his day, the belief still pervaded many “inland and Northern
parts,” but had been “eradicated from the vicinity of the metropolis.”
He quotes numerous authorities to prove that the prejudice was also
rampant in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales[886]. Another eighteenth century
writer, none other than Gilbert White, recorded that the Southern side
of the churchyard of Selborne had “become such a mass of mortality that
no person [could] be there interred without disturbing or displacing the
bones of his ancestors.” However, “two or three families of the best
repute” had begun to bury on the North side, and White had hoped that,
by degrees, the prejudice might wear out[887].

Frequently we encounter evidence which, without directly alluding to the
superstition, implies its existence. A curious bequest made at the close
of the seventeenth century will serve as an illustration. Archbishop
Tenison having presented a burial ground to the parish of Lambeth, it
was deemed necessary, in order to lessen the number of Southern
interments, to charge double fees for that portion of the yard[888].

Additional testimony, though inconclusive, is gleaned from an
examination of the position of the fabric with respect to the
churchyard. As already stated, in many instances the North yard is all
but non-existent. This is the case at Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex; Caterham
and Weybridge, Surrey; Littleton, Middlesex; Barnet, Hertfordshire;
North Cockerington, Lincolnshire; Upper Beeding, Falmer, Street,
Bishopstone, and West Dean, in Sussex; Manningford Bruce,
Bradford-on-Avon, and Amesbury, in Wiltshire. The list could be greatly
extended. At the last-named village there were no gravestones in the
North yard at the time of my visit in 1901. Mr J. T. Micklethwaite has
pointed out that, when an aisle was added to Wakefield parish church
during the twelfth century, it was built on the North side, because at
that period all the burials were on the South side[889]. One is
compelled to regard this line of evidence as only partially
satisfactory, not because the instances are insufficiently numerous, but
because cases can be cited where the South yard, not the North, is very
narrow and insignificant. At Whitchurch, Oxfordshire; Alciston, Sussex;
Hatfield Peverel, Essex; and Chertsey, Surrey, the burial ground is cut
off almost sheer with the South side of the church. Nevertheless these
instances are much fewer than those in which the North yard is so
treated, and to this extent the theory stands good.

More satisfactory confirmation of the belief is afforded by the actual
disuse of the North graveyard in many parishes. A reference to Fig. 21
(p. 77 _supra_) will show that, a century back, scarcely a headstone was
to be seen on the North side of Chislehurst churchyard, yet we know that
numerous examples existed on the South side. One may visit village after
village and find that the tombstones on the North side are all erections
belonging to the last half-century. The writer’s notebook abounds with
instances of this kind, but it would serve no purpose to give the
catalogue here. Two or three striking examples may, however, be quoted.
At Faringdon, or Farington, Hampshire, where Gilbert White was once
curate, there is a large strip of graveyard towards the North, yet, on
visiting the place in 1899, I found not a single tombstone in that
quarter. At Yateley, in the same

[Illustration: FIG. 67. Norham churchyard, Northumberland. North side,
showing the undisturbed turf, and absence of tombstones.]

county, the Southern area has been enlarged, though the Northern portion
was still partly available. Strangest of all was the case of Eversley,
which is not far distant from the last-named parish, and which is always
associated with the name of Charles Kingsley. Here, at the date just
mentioned, an additional plot of burial-ground on the opposite side of
the road had been consecrated, yet the Northern part of the old yard
remained unfilled. Whatley, in Somerset, had only four graves on the
North side in 1910, and all of these were recent. The North yard was,
indeed, small, yet it still had accommodation, in spite of which fact
the churchyard had evidently been enlarged on the South. Widdicombe,
Devonshire, had no Northern tombstones in 1906, and Denton, in Sussex,
but one stone on the North side in 1910. In the same year, I found no
stones on the North yard proper at Norham, Northumberland; a group of
elms occupied the space enclosed by the Northern boundary and an
imaginary line continued from the East wall of the church (Fig. 67). In
1911, no North stones existed at Ford, Sussex, and Abbotsham and
Countisbury, Devon.

A note of warning must now be uttered. The antiquary who is bent on
examining this question will doubtless be guided, in the absence of
documentary proof and of modern excavations, by two kinds of visible
evidence: the level, unbroken condition of the turf, and the age of the
tombstones, if these be present. A perfectly even area of turf is, as we
shall see, not distinctly conclusive against the existence of former
interments, since it may only imply carelessness in the raising, or in
the preserving, of any possible grave-mounds. The evidence deduced from
tombstones, too, must always be judiciously weighed. The absence, or the
modernity, of the monuments is a fair test, if applied only to the
period during which such memorials are known to have been erected. But
the investigator will be on his guard against giving what Bishop Butler,
in fine phrase, termed “an otiose assent.” If the level state of the
sward agrees with absence of gravestones, we may infer, either that no
burials have taken place, or that they have been of a peculiar and
exceptional nature. The wearing down of undisturbed mounds by
atmospheric denudation may be left out of consideration, as being an
unlikely occurrence.

Speaking generally, the upright headstone and the outdoor altar-tomb go
back no farther than the middle of the seventeenth century[890]. It has
been surmised that existing churchyard monuments which exhibit an
earlier date may have been, in some cases, originally set up inside the
building[891]. But genuine outdoor stones are found which belong to the
late sixteenth century at least. There are two dwarf headstones on the
South side of Branscombe churchyard, Devon, dated 1570 (? 1579) and 1580
respectively[892]. Headstones belonging to the fifteenth century have
been recorded from Thrapstone, Northampton; Lavenham, Suffolk;
Blyborough and Kirton-in-Lindsey, Lincolnshire; and Loversall,
Yorkshire[893]. An allusion to the upright stone occurs in _Hamlet_:

    “He is dead and gone, lady,
     He is dead and gone;
     At his head a grass-green turf,
     At his heels a stone[894].”

Where flat slabs occur in the churchyard, they are frequently a century
earlier than the upright stones. Specimens of these early “ledger
stones” may be seen in the church porches at High Halden, Kent (1583),
and Wellington, Somerset (1589). There seems to be little doubt that
this form of monument is much older as a class than the vertical,
lettered stone. The ledger stone is a familiar object on the floors of
churches, as a Mediaeval relic, and it is, no doubt, this kind of
monument which is referred to as having been sometimes ejected from the
sacred building[895]. There is strong reason for believing that rude,
uninscribed wooden crosses preceded the upright headstones.

Working by the light of these facts, the searcher will discover that
there is ample proof of the unpopularity of the North graveyard for
three centuries past. And it would appear that there is good ground for
the supposition that the unpopularity was as great, or even greater,
during the long period which elapsed before stone monuments came into
general use. These conclusions are based on the cumulative evidence of
individual instances, but some remarkable exceptions to the rule demand
due consideration.

Frequently, where one finds the oldest headstones on the North side, a
probable reason can be advanced. Thus, in Norfolk, a county where the
superstition is common, the three contiguous parishes of Garvestone,
Reymerstone, and Thuxton, have the majority of burials on the North
side. The explanation may be that the main entrance to the church, in
each case, is by the North porch. Expressed otherwise, the North yard is
the portion most traversed by the villagers on their way to the
services[896]. Burlingham St Andrew has the North side of the yard well
filled, while, so late as 1899, there were no burials on the South side.
This is the more extraordinary, since the parishioners used the Southern
porch as an entrance, and the local territorial family, the
Northern[897]. We might conjecture, though there are no data at hand,
that this was a case like that of Selborne, described by White, in which
some highly-placed person or persons set a bold example, and helped to
destroy the tradition. At Martin Hussingtree, near Worcester, all the
burials, down to the year 1853, were on the North side, but it is
noteworthy that the only entrance to the church was from that
quarter[898]. Similarly, at Oystermouth, Glamorganshire, the graves were
thickly clustered to the North of the church. A few only lay at the East
and West; and not one on the South, but here, again, the sole access to
the building was from the North[899]. Numerous other instances have come
under the writer’s own notice, tending to show that the objection to
Northern burial is partly neutralized by the position of the church
door, especially in those cases where only one door exists. Should there
be two or three entrances to the church, the one most employed seems to
be connected with the burial customs--the Western entrance to a smaller
degree than the other. Needless to say, it is not the position of the
doorway which primarily provoked the belief, though it may have modified
the practice. As a matter of actual statistics, it will be found that,
where there are two or three ways of approach, the South door is the one
most used.

Is it a coincidence that the South is the prevailing quarter for the
churchyard yew and the ancient cross, and that this sunny side has other
superstitions attached to it? Mr Harry Hems asserts, with truth, that
churches and churchyards generally lie to the North of the roads which
give access to them (cf. p. 335 _supra_), and he seems to imply that
some cases of preference may be explained by the position of the roads
which lead to the fabric[900]. But surely, this is mistaking the effect
for the cause. The problem is: why should the churches have been built
on the North side of the road? Had they been erected on the opposite
(South) side, worshippers would have been admitted from the reverse
point of the compass (the North). Some early pagan belief influenced the
choice of position; casual or arbitrary circumstances, including,
occasionally, the disposition of roads and pathways, may have held the
belief in check. The road, assuming that it existed before the church,
could scarcely have influenced the position of the latter, in the
absence of superstition. While we admit that Mr Hems’s rule is fairly
safe, it must not be forgotten that, where churches are built to the
South of the road, the pathway often winds round the Western tower to
give admission by a South door--an important aim with the builder.

Candour now compels us to notice a few records, which, in view of the
particulars already given, seem inexplicable. The church of
Ashby-de-la-Zouch is said to be built so near the South wall, as to
indicate that the North side was clearly intended for burial[901].
Streatley, in Berkshire, is one example out of a fair-sized list,
exhibiting a large North yard with very old stones. The ancient church
of Swanscombe, Kent, had, on the whole, its oldest monuments towards the
North, but the South doorway had been blocked by masonry. In most
instances of this kind there is doubtless some circumstance, or series
of circumstances, which would explain the departure from custom. Let us
pause a moment to consider the exact importance of these exceptions.

The headstones, it will be remembered, carry us back only a few
centuries. But, so far as these memorials reach, they tell
overwhelmingly in favour of the superstition. Twenty years ago, this
evidence was much more patent to the eye. A very general exception,
however, must be made of the town churchyards, in which the old
tombstones are often found evenly distributed over the available space.
Several reasons may be adduced for this non-observance of the usual
practice. The town church, as a rule, stands centrally in its graveyard;
it is commonly approached by several alleys and paths, leading from a
thoroughfare or market-place; it is frequently cruciform in plan, with
North and South doors, and this design, wherever met with, seems to have
had some effect in counteracting the fears of the ignorant. Above all
these reasons, must be set the fact that populous districts would
soonest lose touch with the superstition, so that, even before the era
of headstones, the belief retained but a comparatively feeble foothold
among the inhabitants of towns. The argument from monuments fails in
cases such as these. We must seek the tradition in the rural districts,
and turn back to a time when it was more firmly held. We shall then see
that the present exceptions, numerous as they are, cannot invalidate the
general practice. They represent what Professor L. C. Miall, writing on
a vexed question in botany, calls “negative exceptions.” I venture to
repeat his witty illustration: “A wooden leg is used to enable a man to
walk when he has lost his natural leg. If you saw a one-legged man
walking with a pair of crutches, and no wooden leg at all, would that
shake your belief in the motive for using wooden legs[902]?” The
“negative exceptions” which we have been studying may, indeed, testify
to a weakening of tradition, or occasionally, to its apparent local
non-existence, but they do not abolish it, or change its purport one
whit. How it chances that, of two adjacent parishes, the present-day
evidence shows the belief at work in the first, but seemingly unknown,
or in abeyance, in the second, is a matter upon which we can only
speculate. The puzzle reminds one of the difficulty which meets the
palaeontologist when he strives to explain why one line of animal
descent stops, and remains fixed, while another continues to develop;
why creatures which seem to be completely adapted to their surroundings
become extinct; why one species or genus is taken, and another left.

We now go behind the testimony of the tombstones, and meet some apparent
contradictions. When the turf on the Northern side of a churchyard is
broken up, for the first time, as the sexton thinks--since there are
neither mounds nor tombstones to serve as “frail memorials,” bones are
sometimes discovered. At Bottesford, Lincolnshire, though the North yard
had been wholly unused until our day, yet when graves were actually
dug, traces of former burials were revealed[903]. The churchyard of
Swinhope, in the same county, yielded stronger proofs. Seven or eight
very old interments, closely grouped, were found; in one case there was
a coffin formed of loose slabs of chalk[904]. The late Canon A. R.
Pennington, of Utterby, again in the same county, told the writer of his
surprise when bones were thrown out of the first grave made towards the
North of his church. It is a fair inference that no mounds had been
raised over the earlier interments. Further instances could be added,
but these will suffice. The details concerning the Swinhope interments
are peculiar, especially the finding of the chalk coffin. These
particular burials may point to the building of the church on a
pre-Christian site. The other examples, however, have a different
interpretation; namely, that the Northern portion of the churchyard was
formerly reserved for the bodies of murderers, suicides, excommunicated
persons, and still-born or unbaptized children[905]. That the custom is
not yet obsolete is attested by the case already described on p. 341
_supra_, which is one of many.

This ecclesiastical rule has found its expression in literature. A
modern poet, Professor A. E. Housman, has deftly wrought the tradition
and the practice into his sad story, _A Shropshire Lad_:

    “To South the headstones cluster,
     The sunny mounds lie thick;
     The dead are more in muster
     At Hughley than the quick.
     North, for the soon-told number,
     Chill graves the sexton delves,
     And steeple-shadowed slumber
     The slayers of themselves.”

Parochial histories supply the facts necessary for the confirmation of
the tradition. Brand cites the case of a burying-ground in Edinburgh,
where the North was reserved for the unbaptized and suicides. The
graveyard belonged to the Quakers, and thus is of especial
interest[906]. Another record tells how, a century ago, the body of a
murderer who had been executed at Lincoln was carried to Swine, over
the Yorkshire boundary, and was there interred on the North side “as the
proper place in which to bury a felon[907].” To the Irish peasantry, the
North is the “wrong side,” and we have a contemporary account of a
murder in the year 1786, which incidentally states that the malefactor
was buried on the “wrong side” of Turlagh churchyard[908]. Miss
Gordon-Cumming found that, among the Hebrideans, the belief was full of
vitality. A young Englishman, who had committed suicide, was carried
head foremost to a grave on the North side of Portree church, and was
there buried, with his head towards the East, instead of towards the
West. Even this qualified reception into consecrated ground sometimes
meets with opposition, from fear that a suicide so buried will cause the
herrings to desert the coast. The suspicious fishermen have been known
to dig up a corpse from the kirkyard, secretly, by night, and to
re-inter the accursed thing either on the shore, at low-water mark, or
on the summit of a high mountain. Burials of this kind have taken place
on the top of Aird Dhubh, and also on a mountain on the border of
Inverness and Ross-shire, two years after the original sepulture[909].

Still bearing on this question, it has been suggested that a part of the
churchyard, presumably the Northern, was formerly left unconsecrated for
the burial of such persons as have been enumerated. Burn, in his
_History of Parish Registers_, expressly states this as a fact, and
gives, as an example, “the single woman’s churchyard,” in Southwark,
where the dead bodies of the inmates of the licensed stews were
buried[910]. This part of the graveyard was frequently known as the
“back side[911].” The West of England tradition taught that this area
was designedly left unconsecrated to serve as a playground for the
village children. To speak more generally, the North was reserved for
the village sports during the period when these were permitted in the
churchyard. And, although there seems no clear proof that butts for the
use of archers were set up in the churchyard itself, the ground
immediately adjoining the North boundary was so used. Such a strip of
land, of some length, known as “the Butts,” lies to the North of the
churchyard at Beeston-next-Mileham, in Norfolk[912], and at Coleshill,
in Warwick. The theory of non-consecration, though not for the purposes
just named, receives some support from Durandus, who observes that to be
buried on the North side is to be buried “out of sanctuary[913].” And
through all the centuries which have rolled away since the date of this
learned ecclesiastic, the country folk have shunned the North side,
which lies “benighted in the midday sun.” There was always a dislike of
lying alone in death. The accustomed path, leading to the South door,
was trodden by the assembling worshippers[914]. Under the shadow of the
graveyard cross or the sombre yew the country folk could stop to whisper
a prayer. In far-away times, Gregory the Great had taught that it is
more profitable to be buried in the churchyard than in the distant
cemetery, because, in the former case, the survivors may frequently
behold the sepulchres as they enter the sacred building, and may put
forth their petitions. (Cf. p. 262 _supra._)

The distant cemetery, mentioned by Gregory, seems oftentimes to have
formed an incentive to church-building in its neighbourhood. It would
appear that the earliest Christian graveyards, like the cemeteries of
the heathen, were often unenclosed. Being hallowed spots, a preaching
cross would be erected near the graves. The setting up of a cross, the
“truly precious rood,” must precede the actual building of the church,
according to the decree of the Emperor Justinian (A.D. 530). This act of
consecration was the work of the bishop of the diocese. Durandus notices
the claim of some churchmen that a space of thirty feet around the
church ought to be set apart for burial, while others contended that the
space actually enclosed by the circuit of the bishop was
sufficient[915]. Though the cross may at first have been portable and
adapted only for temporary use, yet a permanent symbol was frequently
employed. The heathen Saxons are said to have had a rooted dread of
entering an enclosed place of worship, lest they should be the victims
of supposed magical rites[916]. An enclosed graveyard was also a decided
innovation. So late as the reign of Canute, one class of building, the
“feld-cirice” (= field-church), was unprovided with a graveyard. As time
passed away, however, boundary hedges were planted, or walls were built
around to form a burial-ground. The sacred garth, as well as the
building, became a sanctuary, with its “benefit of adjuration,” and its
right of appeal to trial by ordeal. The actual enclosure of spaces
around the churches dates from about the year A.D. 750. (Cf. remarks on
the early cemeteries in Chap. VI.) The practice must have been loosely
observed, for we find, down to the year A.D. 1603, statutes and canons
repeatedly enforcing the law[917].

Chance excavations sometimes attest the early laxity of custom. Outside
the churchyard wall of Kirby Grindalythe, in the East Riding, stretching
towards the West, are many ancient interments. This fact seems to
indicate, either that the Norman church originally stood in an unfenced
portion of the hillside, a part of the cemetery being excluded when the
wall was built, or that the open wold had been used for burials,
Christian or pagan, before the church was erected[918]. Gilbert White
was of opinion that the churchyard of Selborne was once larger, and had
extended to what was, in his day, the vicarage garden[919]. Maplescombe
church, the ruins of which were referred to on p. 38, seems to have
never been properly fenced in from the fields. The retired churchyard of
Branxton, in Northumberland, which lies within a bowshot of Flodden
Field, has at least two features which are illustrative of our subject.
The present churchwarden, Mr John Rankin, the representative of a family
which has long held that office, informs me that the graveyard was
formerly unfenced, save on the South side, where a thorn hedge separated
it from the road. On this side, also, there is a narrow strip of land
which contains no graves, and which, Mr Rankin asserts, has, through an
oversight, never been consecrated. (Cf. p. 343 _supra._) The churchyard
at Norton, near Evesham, was unenclosed, except on the Eastern side,
down to the year 1844. It stood in a grass field which formed part of
the church glebe, thus illustrating Wordsworth’s lines, descriptive of
an Oxfordshire parsonage:

    “Where holy ground begins, unhallowed ends,
     Is marked by no distinguishable line[920].”

The sonnet from which these lines are taken seems to show clearly that
the poet was writing of a churchyard which was open on one side. Again,
one often discovers churches of ancient foundation standing apart in the
fields, and having a fence composed of wooden rails or iron hurdles of
such modern date that one is forced to believe that the area has only
been shut in for a few generations. The church of Little Washbourne,
Gloucestershire, already ruinous when I saw it in 1888, is an instance
which comes to mind. The tiny church of Woldingham (Fig. 68), which is
situated near the escarpment of the North Downs, lay in the open fields,
and the ground was apparently unenclosed down to the year 1852. The
building, which measured only 30 feet by 17 feet, was rudely constructed
of flints and “firestone” (from the Upper Greensand), but has since been
restored more than once. The old structure was “desolate [and]
dilapidated” so far back as the time of Evelyn[921]. The illustration
shows the restored church of a century ago. To-day the building is
approached by a short road. The visitor will notice how small a strip of
ground was left on the North side when the boundaries were marked out.
Seeking examples elsewhere, we observe that, in the marshland of East
Lincolnshire, churches must have been built before the district was
effectively drained, and therefore, before the existing boundary ditches
or dykes were cut[922].


     FIG. 68. The restored church of Woldingham, Surrey, as it appeared
     in 1809. (Manning and Bray.) The view seems to be taken from the
     North side. Behind the church, on the South side, is a large yew,
     much decayed, and partially hollow. To the right, just out of the
     drawing, is a huge ash, which to-day measures 20 feet in
     circumference at a height of 3 feet from the ground. The churchyard
     was probably unenclosed until a comparatively late date.

The prejudice against burial on the North side can be traced beyond the
advent of Christianity. It is one of those “clinging faiths and fears”
which beset the early folk of these islands. As a result of the
examination of several hundred British barrows, Canon Greenwell found
that, in secondary burials, bodies were rarely deposited on the North
side of the mound, the most favoured positions being towards the South
and East[923]. Mr J. R. Mortimer, after quoting Canon Greenwell’s
observations, confirms them by the testimony of the mounds of
Yorkshire. Canon Atkinson’s experiences yielded similar results. During
the course of many years, he opened some eighty “houes” or grave-mounds
in his own district of Danby-in-Cleveland, and found one interment only
in which the body “lay a little, and but a little, North of the magnetic
East-and-West line[924]” (i.e. the median line). The evidence derived
from megalithic monuments and prehistoric dwellings and settlements
tends the same way. The chilly North was shunned; the brilliant East and
the gracious South were courted. These ancient preferences were
emphasized in the building of temples and Christian places of worship.
Egregious among these old-world superstitions stands the hatred of the
North. All the inherited antipathies of primeval folk were long retained
by their civilized successors, and hence the Northern portion of the
graveyard was allotted to those who were deemed spiritually undeveloped
or spiritually lost.

Another fact which tends to prove the continuity of the superstition is
that, during the Romano-British period, the bodies of persons who had
committed suicide were not allowed to be burnt. The prohibition was
afterwards extended to those who had died in their infancy[925].

Surveying the general question of suicide, one or two intermediate
stages of folk-custom may be noted. In the early days of English
history, suicides and murderers were buried at crossroads. It has been
argued that this procedure was not altogether intended to heap indignity
on the corpse, but that the intersecting roads were emblematic of the
Cross, for which reason such spots were therefore deemed
self-consecrated[926]. That this idea was prevalent two or three hundred
years ago, one would not care to deny; nevertheless it was a late
accretion. Else, why was a stake driven through the body of the person
so interred? Dishonour to the dead may not, indeed, have been the
primary motive which impelled the survivors to behave in this manner,
although a desire to prevent the ghost walking was doubtless a strong
constituent[927]. The living would naturally object to the burial of a
criminal or murderer near an inhabited house[928]; the ghost, angry at
being disembodied, according to the elementary notions of our
forefathers, might walk abroad, and wreak vengeance or disaster on
whomsoever it would. This fear was common among priscan folk, and is
widespread even at the present day. Professor Frazer has shown how the
natives of Uganda bury still-born babes, and children born feet
foremost, at cross-roads. Women, passing by, throw dust or grass on the
mound to prevent the spirit entering themselves and being reborn. The
bodies of suicides are also burned at cross-roads. Westermarck has
collected and collated many analogous practices and beliefs from such
far-sundered countries as India and Servia, Japan and Morocco[929]. If,
following this high authority, we are disposed to agree that the
crossways were believed to disperse such energy as might be ascribed to
the deceased person[930], that this mode of interment diverted diseases,
and warded off all evil influences from the living, we shall the more
readily perceive why the superstition retained its vitality in later
times. When the Cross became the symbol of the new religion, the old
belief about suicides was reinforced so far as the idea of protection
was concerned, though the superstition might be weakened in respect of
any supposed indignity to the dead. Even here, however, there is room
for further investigation, and writers like Mr Andrew Lang have
questioned whether the supposed efficacy of the Cross is a sufficient
explanation[931]. The idea of abandonment, as it appears to the present
writer, must have been an essential portion of the ceremony, and this
was the natural consequence of the theory that the soul of the suicide
was self-doomed to perish.

A middle stage of the belief is illustrated by the Scottish practice of
burying self-murderers outside the churchyard, but close by the wall.
(Cf. p. 352 _supra._) This plan was afterwards modified to the extent
of allowing the body to come technically within the yard, but to be
placed actually beneath the wall, so that no one might walk over the
grave[932]. In England, we find constant reference to the burial of
suicides in the open fields. The custom of driving a stake through the
bodies of persons found _felo de se_ has been noticed. This brutal
treatment, excusable in folk who, in the dawn of the world, had a real
horror of ghosts and vampires, was only abolished by law in the year
1823[933]. Yet, as if to prove the unequal working of the human mind,
and to exemplify the truism that like customs have not everywhere the
same lease of life, we find remarkable exceptions to the rule. While the
barbarous belief concerning suicide still held its sway, church
discipline was, on the whole, gradually relaxing, and ordinary burials
were permitted to take place within the sacred building. Then came the
exception which we have examined. A certain part of the burial-ground
was devoted to burials of murderers and suicides. In at least two cases,
as attested by parish registers, the bodies of murderers were admitted
into the church, though still on the North side of the fabric (A.D. 1616
and 1620)[934]. The fact is, that one can scarcely mention a single
custom or tradition which has not been disregarded exceptionally at
certain periods, though the main current has flowed on almost as
strongly as ever. No doubt each particular infraction was the result of
powerful local influences. For, even to this hour, as has been clearly
shown, the body of the suicide or the manslayer may be interred in the
churchyard, and yet remain, according to the superstition, “out of



The student who attempts to master the problem of the churchyard yew
finds himself in danger of being bowed down by the burden of conflicting
facts and theories.

With respect to the facts, there lies at hand a note-book containing the
jottings of years, but so plethoric are its pages, that a mass of detail
must be correlated and much matter shorn away before the case can be
presented with any degree of lucidity.

Concerning the theories, folk-memory lends us little help. It does not
ring true, and there is more than a suspicion that it has been
influenced by ideas gathered from the printed book of the ecclesiologist
and the antiquary.

“Things are as they are, and the consequences of them will be what they
will be, wherefore, then, should we desire to be deceived?” Following
the spirit of Butler’s philosophy, let us leave aside all hypotheses for
the present, and review the facts. It will conduce to clearness if the
particulars are summarized in due order.

The botanist will tell us that the yew (_Taxus baccata_) is a
fine-grained, slow-growing tree belonging to the sub-division Taxineae
of the Natural Order Coniferae, or Pinaceae. Its timber is tough,
durable, and elastic, so that there is some truth in the New Forest
proverb: “A post of yew will outlast a post of iron.” The trunk of the
yew is deeply channelled, and its reddish-brown bark easily peels off.
Looking at the narrow, leathery leaves, which are dark and glossy on the
upper surface, but rather pale on the undersides, one might casually
conclude that they are arranged in two rows on opposite sides of the
twig. Closer inspection, however, proves that the leaves spring from all
sides of the axis, but that a twist at the base of each leaf gives a
false appearance of a plain double series[935]. The yew is dioecious,
that is, the male and the female flowers grow on separate trees, but
occasionally both kinds of inflorescence may be seen on the same tree.
Over a large area of the Northern Hemisphere our familiar yew is met
with, and an allied species grows in North-East America and Japan. The
columnar variety (var. _fastigiata_), known as the Irish, or Florence
Court yew, is said to have originated as a wild sport at Florence Court,
in county Fermanagh, about 130 years ago[936]. Its outline looks very
unlike that of the common yew, which has horizontal branches, and it has
no further practical bearing on our subject.

It is important to note that the yew is demonstrably indigenous to
Britain. It can be traced back not merely to the Neolithic Age[937], but
even to the Glacial period[938]; hence there need be no debate
concerning its possible introduction in later times.

Whether the yew be poisonous--no unimportant matter, as will shortly be
seen--has been discussed frequently and at great length. The disputants
often argue at cross-purposes, each side in turn misapprehending the
exact point at issue. Having read all the literature which is reasonably
accessible on this subject, I am convinced of the overwhelming proof
that the yew has poisonous properties, though the noxiousness may be
comparatively slight at certain seasons, in certain years, and with
respect to certain animals. The results are most fatal when the beasts
eat the leaves on a fasting stomach. When the leaves are dry and tough
there is the additional evil of indigestibility. Yet there is an
opposing fact. Mixed with three or four times their bulk of other food,
green yew leaves are actually employed as fodder for cattle in times of
scarcity. Records of this custom come from Hanover, Hesse, and other
parts of the Continent. Stated in general terms, then, the poisonous
principle (taxine) cannot be very intensely concentrated; it may even be
inoperative until acted upon by the juices of the stomach. Again, the
pulpy portion of the fruit is eaten with impunity, but the stones are
considered highly injurious. Sufficient references are given in the
footnote to obviate further discussion here[939], but it will be seen
later that the modern theory was preceded by an empirical knowledge
which harmonizes well with the ascertained facts.

The belief in the pernicious properties of the juice of the yew is,
indeed, as old as Pliny, who tells us that arrows were dipped in the
poison (_toxicum_), and that the hurtfulness might be neutralized by
previously driving a brass nail into the tree[940]. He adds that some
writers have asserted that _toxicum_ was formerly _taxicum_, from the
name of the yew (_taxus_). The assumption seems to be that _taxus_ is
connected not only with τάξος, a yew, but also with τόξον, a bow (τὰ
τόξα = _bow and arrows_, and perhaps _arrows_ only)[941], and φάρμακον,
poison. But even if these links be allowed, the claim is vitiated by the
refusal of the lexicographers to admit such a word as _taxicum_.

Caesar informs us that Cativolcus, one of the rulers of the Eburones,
poisoned himself with yew[942]. Since a doubt has been raised whether
the Latin _taxus_ and the Greek τάξος accurately represent our word
“yew,” it may be said that the latest authorities on both languages
give that rendering to the respective words[943]. It must nevertheless
be observed that there is an alternative word in Greek, for one of the
several meanings of σμῖλαξ, or μιλαξ, is “yew.” Pliny’s word _tristis_
(sad), applied to _taxus_, stands good therefore for the yew. It has
been suggested that the Greek word is allied to τάξις, arrangement (from
τάςςω = I arrange), the allusion being to the apparent double row of

Before leaving the philological section, some English equivalents of the
word must be noticed. “Early Modern English” forms include _yewe_,
_yeugh_, _eugh_, _yowe_, etc. These come to us from the Middle English
_ew_ or _u_, and these, again, represent the A.S. _īw_ and _eów_[944]. A
seventh century manuscript has a still earlier form, _īuu_, and this is
said to be the oldest spelling in any Teutonic language[945]. There are,
says the _Century Dictionary_, Danish, Old High German, Spanish, Old
Irish, Welsh, Gaelic, and Cornish equivalents, and of these, the Celtic
forms are possibly original and not derivative[946]. Professor W. W.
Skeat supports the Celtic origin of the word _yew_, which, by the way,
is quite distinct from the word _ivy_, although the various forms of
_yew_ and _ivy_ suggest one another[947]. Dr Schrader says that the Old
High German word _iva_, in the sense of “yew,” disappears as we go
further East, and, in Sclavonic dialects, signifies a willow. The same
holds good of the word for “beech,” and Dr Schrader believes that the
change is due to the thinning out of these trees Eastwards. In
Lithuania, again, the meanings of “fir” and “yew” run into each
other[948]. Professor V. Hehn called attention to the same series of
facts, from which he drew similar conclusions.

The etymological road leading us no further, we take counsel of the
forester and the arboriculturist. We wish to ascertain the greatest age
which the yew is believed to reach.

The older authorities followed implicitly the dictum of the Swiss
botanist Augustin De Candolle, who, basing his conclusions upon a study
of the annual rings of the yew, and upon the sizes of yews of known age,
formulated the rule: An increase in diameter of one line annually. If we
allow an average yearly growth of one line in diameter, we shall
probably over-estimate the rate of growth for very aged trees (“_il est
probable qu’on est au-dessus de la vérité_”), so that while we may, in
practice, reckon each line of the diameter as a year, we shall, in
reality, make the trees younger than they actually are[949]. De
Candolle, in another place, admitted that for the first 150 years the
annual growth somewhat exceeded a line in diameter, though for older
trees it was less than this amount[950]. Abridging this rather involved
statement, let us put the rule thus: Up to the age of 150 years the yews
increase annually a line or a little more in diameter, and a little less
than a line afterwards.

Since De Candolle’s day, it has been contended that his estimate makes
the trees too old. Dr J. Lowe, in his interesting volume on _Yew-Trees_,
has combated the conclusions at some length; his chapters are here
freely drawn upon and compared with my own private notes. Dr Lowe’s
estimate, taking young and old trees together, allows a growth of one
foot in diameter for each period of 60-70 years. De Candolle’s rule
would make a like growth represent 144 years at least (1 foot = 144
lines), or, supposing him to have taken the line as one-tenth of an
inch--as some writers mistakenly believe[951]--120 years, or a little
over. In the absence of testimony to the contrary, I think we may safely
consider that De Candolle’s line was reckoned on the one-twelfth basis:
indeed there appears to be no valid reason for doubting this. We note,
in passing, that the calculations of Edward Jesse, the naturalist, made
after measuring trees at intervals, agree closely with those of the
Swiss savant[952].

Between the estimates of De Candolle and those of Dr Lowe, but far
nearer to those of the latter observer, is the determination adopted by
Sir R. Christison and his son, Dr D. Christison. Working on the
eminently scientific method of measuring the increase of girth at a
fixed point during stated periods, these observers decided that one foot
for every 75 years would be more than the average rate of increase[953].
The three varying results may therefore be thus stated:

De Candolle        1 foot represents 144 years

The Christisons    “  “       “      75 years

Dr Lowe            “  “       “      60-70, say 65 years

Mr J. E. Bowman, making use of the trephine, came to the conclusion that
young trees may add two lines per year, and if the soil be very rich,
three lines, but that, after a diameter of two feet has been reached, De
Candolle’s limit of one line yearly holds true. De Candolle’s formula,
Bowman considered, “makes old trees too young, and young trees too old.”
Commenting on Bowman’s mode of experiment, Dr Lowe asserts that it has
“no utility whatever,” because the external rings of the tree--those
reached by the trephine--are not concentric, and are not formed in the
same manner as those of the young shoot. Further, Bowman’s experiments
seem to have been performed on young trees only[954].

The true estimate, therefore, seems to lie between the determinations of
De Candolle and Dr Lowe respectively. The latter writer admits that De
Candolle’s rule is fairly sound when applied to young trees with
undecayed centres, but he stipulates that the tree must be cut down and
proved to have not more than one centre. He refers to the case of a yew
in Kyre Park, Worcestershire, which possesses two huge trunks, united
below, and he proceeds to argue that, if we suppose the tops to have
been broken off underneath the junction, and young shoots to have sprung
up from the base, the trees would have been deemed as old as our most
noted specimens in the British Isles. Such a case, however, would
rarely be encountered in actual experience.


     FIG. 69. Transverse section of yew, showing annual rings. Longest
     diameter, 5½´´; shortest, 4⅛´´; number of rings, 51. It will be
     noticed that the section is excentric; this is due to irregular
     growth. The light coloured, outer zone, is the alburnum, or
     sap-wood; the dark, inner zone, the duramen, or heart-wood. The
     large, radial cracks are the results of shrinkage. These cracks run
     along the lines of the medullary rays, though the actual rays are
     much too fine to be seen without a good lens. (For an excellent
     description of such a section, see G. S. Boulger, _Wood_, 2nd
     edition, 1908, p. 301.)

We will now examine De Candolle’s “ring method” a little more closely.
First, what is the botanical theory respecting the formation of the
rings in a tree? In our climate trees make little or no growth during
the winter season, hence the new spring wood, with its wide, thin-walled
vessels, is rather sharply defined against the narrower, compact,
dense-walled vessels which were formed in the preceding autumn or late
summer. The successive concentric cylinders of new wood, therefore, when
seen in cross-section, appear as zones, or “annual rings.” These rings
are well shown in the transverse section of yew (Fig. 69). In vertical
section the rings appear as parallel strips, forming what is popularly
called the “grain” of the wood (Fig. 70). It is true, in general, that
one ring represents one year’s growth. The rule must, however, be
applied under slight reserve. Dr D. H. Scott clamped the branch of an
elm in June, thus increasing the pressure on the cells. The result was
that wood was formed similar to that which is usually associated with
autumn. After six weeks, during which the nutrition had been practically
uniform, the clamp was removed, and another ring was produced.


     FIG. 70. Longitudinal, tangential section of yew. In this section,
     taken with the “grain,” the annual rings appear as alternate
     parallel strips of dark and light wood. The tracheids, or elongated
     thick-walled cells, are invisible to the unaided eye.

     A branch is seen emerging on the right, forming a “pin,” which
     would be obnoxious to bowyers.

The conditions just described were artificial and abnormal, but varying
temperatures, if extreme, might act in a similar manner. Sequoias and
red-woods may naturally form several concentric wood rings in a year, a
result probably due to alternations of heat and cold. Against the danger
of over-calculation of age from neglecting such factors, may be set the
consideration that, owing to damage by frost, or to seasonal
peculiarities, no ring may be formed within the year[955]. In normal
circumstances, “one ring, one year” is a trustworthy maxim.
Unfortunately, to verify this rule, should its accuracy be challenged,
the tree must be cut down--a most undesirable proceeding. Moreover, if
the tree be aged, counting the rings is a matter of some difficulty; one
must use a lens and a pair of needles, moving these “counters” as if
scoring at a game of cribbage. Now Dr Lowe, while doubting whether the
yew may not form more than one ring per year--a contingency that would
seriously upset all computations based on this system--feels confident
that in this country young trees produce one only. He is of opinion that
the ring test consequently holds good for uninjured trees up to 200 or
250 years. Beyond that period, he asserts confidently that the yew
sustains injuries from storm or disease sufficient to invalidate the
rule. To the extent, let us say, of 250 years, Dr Lowe’s assumption runs
parallel with that of De Candolle, who believed that there is
practically no limit to the age of the yew, except disease. After the
third century, Dr Lowe, as we shall soon see, actually claims a more
rapid rate of growth, at least, intermittently.

The errors to which De Candolle’s method is liable are thus epitomized.
A yew which has been maltreated by lopping or injured by the browsing of
animals may thicken and form bosses, and so increase the apparent girth.
Trunks may be fused together. Wounds may prevent the formation of rings.
Small shoots may be enveloped by the spread of the “bark,” and thus a
vast number of rings may be formed which eventually become

Nevertheless, since we cannot always cut a tree down, some other method
of estimating the age must be followed. And if the actual circumference
be not always the true measure of the normal free-growing parent stem,
our observations should, by way of counterpoise, be correspondingly
numerous. Whoever has attempted to measure a yew, with the object of
employing De Candolle’s rule, will recognize the force of Dr Lowe’s
contentions, yet one cannot but think that the risk of error has been

We are told, again, that there may be a difference in the number of
rings on the two sides of a tree, even at the same level, in other
words, a given ring may not be everywhere of the same thickness. This is
noticeable in the specimen, Fig. 69. In the famous yew of Darley Dale,
Derbyshire, it is asserted that the number of rings varied from 33 to 66
in an inch of radius, taken horizontally--a curiously neat ratio[957].
Michel Montaigne, so far back as 1581, pointed out that the rings were
narrower on the north side of the tree. Yet these occurrences do not
hopelessly affect our conclusions. The writer possesses a section of a
branch of yew from Offchurch, Warwickshire, which was over-developed on
one side, the result of proximity to a stream, and of a sunny aspect.
The consequent curvature of the heart wood, though certainly
disappointing to the bowyer, who bought the tree, did not prove very
troublesome even to the amateur ring-counter. Taking the average of a
long series of years, and examining a large number of specimens, the
inequalities in such specimens would be found to cancel each other. In
an aged tree like that of Darley Dale, the coalescence of the rings
would be far more perplexing than the unsymmetrical growth.

With respect to one source of error, Dr Lowe seems to answer his own
objection. “A tree may have died on one side,” says he, “or may have
ceased forming, while the other side is growing vigorously.” Yes, but in
that case the error would be one of under-calculation; the yew would be
credited with fewer years than the measurements warranted.

Once again, it is argued that not only may a particular ring have
inequalities of width, but the different rings vary among themselves in
thickness. And we have seen that growth does not increase uniformly with
age. An oak of 50 years had a circumference equal to another which was
four times that age. Nor is the rate of growth always uniformly
diminished as the tree becomes older. De Candolle found an oak, 333
years old, which showed as great an increase between the rings of 320
and 330 as between those of 90 and 100 years. Now it is not mere
captiousness to remark that these figures refer to an oak, not to a
steady-growing yew, though Dr Lowe claims that the observation would
apply equally well to the latter tree[958]. We may repeat: while
variations in rainfall, temperature, and food-supply, correspondingly
affect the rate of growth, it is a matter of common knowledge that our
seasons tend to follow ill-defined cycles, and that a series of such
cycles may be expected to equalize each other with a fair approximation
to exactitude.

[Illustration: FIG. 71. Yew at West end of Tandridge churchyard, Surrey.
Though hollow, it is one of the finest specimens in England.]

A far graver indictment of De Candolle’s figures is contained in the
insinuation that his selected trees were stunted and ill-grown, so that
the rate of growth was made to appear too slow[959]. The supposition, if
well grounded, would severely shake De Candolle’s rule, but at present
it is a supposition merely, as readers of the _Physiologie Végétale_ may
learn for themselves. De Candolle did indeed believe that trees die from
accident or disease rather than from old age, but how could the bias
resulting from such an opinion make the age of a yew greater than it
actually was? An injured tree whose development had been arrested would
be credited with too few years rather than with too many. Take the case
of the Tandridge yew, in Surrey (Fig. 71). Aubrey found that this tree
had a girth of 30 feet at a height of five feet from the ground. Manning
and Bray, about 130 years later, gave the corresponding measurement as
32 feet 9 inches. To-day the reading is only 32 feet 4 inches. Allowing
for some discrepancies in the modes of measurement, the results are
striking. The explanation is that, though the tree is still vigorous, it
has long been hollow, and growth must have been slight, if indeed there
has not been an actual arrest for the past century.

The method, adopted by the two Christisons, of measuring a tree at known
intervals of time, is perhaps open to less objection than that of
assuming a mean rate of growth, based on the enumeration of the rings of
selected specimens. A combination of both systems would be better, if
not ideal. The “interval method,” nevertheless, overlooks the objection
that growth is not quite uniform. De Candolle urged, as already noticed,
that the rate diminishes in aged trees, and gave several reasons. The
roots are farther from the air, and they are also working in competition
with those of neighbouring trees. Should the soil be rocky or otherwise
uncongenial the lessened elasticity of the bark retards growth. Add to
these factors the likelihood of oncoming disease, and the slackened
development would be appreciable. Against these considerations, Dr Lowe
boldly affirms that “there is abundant evidence to show that old trees
grow, at intervals, much more rapidly than young ones”; but he makes
this concession: “they do not, as I have said, grow uniformly, but have
periods of comparative arrest of growth[960].” These pauses, he
believes, are due to the overshadowing head of the tree. Were the head
to be broken every half century or so, rapid growth would again
commence. But to what degree does such a pollarding occur in nature?
Does not the head continue, in the main, to overshadow the trunk and
roots? (The lopping of yews for making bows, as apart from true
pollarding, will be discussed later.) One reiterates, all systems are
liable to error, but some systems are more accurate than others. And the
“interval method,” especially if supplemented by estimating the total
number of rings, according to an ascertained standard rate of increase,
still awaits the coming of a better system to supersede it.

The obtruding difficulty which now meets us is, Where are we to measure
the girth? Sir Robert Christison thought the ground level best, but,
wherever possible, he also measured the tree at five feet from the
base[961]. Yews, however, frequently thicken upwards; there may be
swellings under the branches; the stem is often encumbered by bunches of
young sprays; aged trees are usually deformed, and are studded with
knobs and excrescences. To follow Christison’s plan with the trees at
Dryburgh, Roseneath, and Sanderstead, and other yews which have
protuberances at the base, would result in too liberal an estimate. The
reaction of root-pressure tends to make trees “lift themselves out of
the ground.” Moreover, in exposed situations, scraping animals, such as
rabbits and foxes, lay bare the roots of trees, and increase the
apparent girth. Rain tends to wash away the soil, and so aids in the

On the other hand, the level of the soil in churchyards is gradually
rising (cf. p. 90 _supra_), and it is primarily with churchyard yews
that we are concerned. Hence it is proposed that the measurement should
be taken at the base, and also at a height of three feet from the
ground. De Candolle recommended a height of two feet for exogenous
trees. Those who have had practical experience in measuring yews, will,
while employing the tape at both these levels, recognize that there must
be a slightly varied treatment for each individual tree. Perhaps, like
Sir R. Christison[962], the investigator will be impelled, where the
trunk is short, to take the girth at the narrowest part.

Unfortunately few actual records have been kept of measurements of yew
trees taken at intervals. One or two cases may, however, be instructive.
At Hurstbourne Tarrant, near Andover (Hants), there are two churchyard
yews, which, the parish register informs us, were planted in 1693 and
1743 respectively. Now, if we accept Dr Lowe’s mean rate of one foot for
65 years, the first tree, when re-measured in 1896, should have been
about 9´ 10´´ in circumference, and the second 7´ 6´´. The actual
measurements were[963]:

1st tree. 8´ 4´´ at base; 6´ 8´´ at a height of five feet.

2nd  “    7´ 3´´  “   “ ; 7´ 3´´   “    “      “       “

Hence Dr Lowe’s rate of growth would be too high for these trees; in the
first example, markedly, yet the trees were still only of moderate age,
and growth must have been active.

Other good records refer to two yews in the churchyard of Basildon,
Berkshire. Details of the measurement of the first tree were entered in
the parish register in 1780, and of the second in 1834, though both
trees had been planted by Lord Fane at a considerably earlier date than
the year 1780. In 1889 the trees were again measured by Mr Walter Money,
and the results thus compared[964]:

1st tree. From 1780-1889, an increase from 6´ 3´´ to
            9´ 10´´; a gain of 3´ 7´´.

2nd  “    From 1834-1889, an increase from 9´ 2½´´ to
            9´ 6´´; a gain of 3½´´.

Now, if it be true, as Dr Lowe’s rule supposes, that a mean period of 65
years represents a gain of one foot in diameter, the first tree should
have increased 5´ 3´´ in circumference, and the second 2´ 8´´. But here,
again, the postulated rate of growth is far too high; in the second
example, nine times too high. Even if we grant that “old trees grow, at
intervals, much more rapidly than young ones,” Dr Lowe’s main rule is
not verified. For it happens that measurements of the first tree were
made at two intermediate dates, 1796 and 1834. During the first period,
1780-1796, the increase was indeed three times as great as Dr Lowe’s
formula would demand, but in the second, and longer period, 1796-1889,
the growth was less than a quarter of the estimated amount. These
measurements of yews, dealing with odd inches, truly suggest some degree
of error, due to the substitution of one observer for another,
nevertheless, we may assume the figures to be roughly correct. At the
same time, these rather surprising results indicate the wisdom of
calling in the aid of the total ring-estimate as a supplementary
witness, since the increase of girth tends to be so variable.

Particulars respecting the growth of yews at Wrexham, as given by John
Timbs, also show that an increase of one foot in 65 years is somewhat
over the limit[965]. More records are desirable, yet the facts generally
seem to favour Dr Lowe’s higher limit of 70 years for each foot of
growth, or even the 75 years proposed by the Christisons. On the whole,
Dr Lowe himself seems to sanction the last-named estimate, for, while he
thinks that one foot in 75 years is “below the average rate of growth,”
yet for purposes of calculation he prefers to adopt that scale[966].

The basis of 75 years, then, shall be taken in the present chapter. Two
reservations, dependent upon what has been said previously, must,
however, be borne in mind. First, seeing that young trees have,
proportionately, a more extended leaf surface than old ones, larger
rings are formed and the 75-years rule will make the trees too old.
Secondly, and more important, there seems to come a period when aged
trees are practically at a standstill; they make no more increase, but
linger until disease and decay set in and slowly drain off the vitality.
Of the yew at Aldworth, Berkshire, it is asserted that it has not
increased in circumference since 1760[967]. I feel sure that this
arrest, though not usually absolute, is very common; hence, for aged
trees, additions to the age must be made after applying the 75-years
rule. Much stress should be laid on this point.

This slightly technical review has brought us so far as this: there was
a certain proneness among earlier observers to over-estimate the age of
the yew, and it is only as a result of modern observation that the
tendency has been checked. Whoever has walked along the Pilgrims’ Way of
the Southern counties, and has stopped to pass his tape-measure around
the oldest yews, must have realized that popular notions concerning the
age of these trees are not justified. Elsewhere, I have attempted to
show that many of these yews are successors of earlier ones, and that
they were designedly preserved by pilgrims and other wayfarers[968].
That explanation embraces the spirit of the folk-tales which point to
existing yew-trees as ante-dating particular Norman or Saxon churches.
The traditions cover the fact that trees have studded the Pilgrims’ Way
for many centuries--a conclusion differing from the reckless guesses of
guide-book antiquaries respecting the vast age of individual existing

In some few instances, as we shall see, churchyard yews are extremely
ancient, and it is a sound hypothesis that a replacement of dead yews
has often been made, thus bridging over the period which has elapsed
from the introduction of Christianity and the rearing of churches to the
present day. But, in general, deductions drawn from the age of existing
buildings are faulty. A caution must also be entered against
over-estimating the age of particular trees in yew groves which are
known to be ancient. Popular tradition says that the yews in Kingly
Bottom, or Vale, near Chichester, existed when the sea-kings landed. The
legend may be doubted, yet if we were to express it as Dr Lowe
suggests--“yews were there” at that date--the statement would probably
be accurate. Presented in this form, we may fairly assume the statement
true for earlier periods. Doubtless the Neolithic flint-workers of the
Vale, of whose old mines large numbers were discovered in 1910, looked
upon a dusky yew grove as they went to their labours. Once more: in
spite of the oft-repeated assertion that this or that yew is alluded to
in Domesday Book, it is none the less a fact that no individual yew, no
individual tree, in short, is mentioned therein[969].

From a long descriptive list of aged yew trees, slowly accumulated in a
note-book, a few examples only need be extracted. At the head, in regard
to antiquity, stands probably the yew in the graveyard of Fortingal
(Fortingale, or erroneously, Fotheringhall), Perthshire. Sir R.
Christison estimated this tree to be 3000 years old, and deemed it “the
most venerable specimen of living European vegetation[970].” De
Candolle’s determination was about the same as Christison’s. The hollow
stump, which has been carefully railed in, is now the merest wreckage.
The Fortingal yew was measured by Daines Barrington in 1769, when the
circumference was set down as 52 feet[971]. Pennant, a few years later,
gave the result as 56½ feet, so that, reckoning on the 75-year basis,
the tree would at that date be about 1340 years old. Mr C. T. Ramage,
basing his calculations on the observed rate of growth of a yew in
Montgomeryshire, arrived at the total of 1400 years[972]. It is worthy
of notice that a very old ecclesiastical establishment once existed near
the Fortingal yew[973]. Loudon gives us a woodcut representing the tree
as it appeared in 1837[974]; beyond this we have to rely on the figures
quoted, and on oral tradition.

Competing with the Fortingal yew for the premier position, there
formerly existed that of Brabourne, in Kent. It was alluded to by Evelyn
in his _Discourse on Forest Trees_ (1664), as already “supperannuated,”
and it disappeared about a century ago[975]. De Candolle put its age at
more than 3000 years[976], and while this was doubtless an
over-estimate, yet, if the recorded circumference, 59 feet[977], be
correctly stated, the tree was actually more ancient than its Scottish

A third claimant, from Hensor (Bucks), must be introduced with a
wavering pen. Its circumference, according to Mr J. R. Jackson, of Kew,
was 81 feet[978], hence, if this measurement be accurate, the yews
already mentioned are hopelessly out-ranged, for here we should have a
tree 2000 years old. Unfortunately, this yew no longer remains to tell
its own story, or to allow the measurement to be checked.

The celebrated churchyard yew of Darley Dale, Derbyshire, has suffered
much in reputation owing to travellers’ tales. Half a century since its
diameter was approximately 9½ feet[979], its age may therefore be
roughly estimated as 760-770 years.

A dead yew, under-propped, and chained together so as to preserve the
upright position, stands in the grounds of Kersal Cell, Lancashire. This
cell was founded about the middle of the twelfth century, and Mr Arthur
Mayall has suggested that the seed from which the yew sprang was brought
from the Holy Land at the close of the Second Crusade (1149)[980].

The yews known as the “Seven Sisters,” which grew on a knoll near the
mill at Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire, but of which only two remain, have
been deemed by an able, though anonymous, authority to be “most certain
relics” of the mid-twelfth century[981]. The Abbey was founded in A.D.
1135. For the sake of comparison, De Candolle’s figures--1280
years[982]--although too high, may be noted.

The Buckland yew, near Dover, which was removed from the churchyard in
1880, was one of those erroneously reputed to have been mentioned in
Domesday Book. Serious historians, however, like Hasted, do not make
this mistake. The tree was of vast size, though details are now lacking.
At Watcombe, a lonely farm on the roadside between Wantage and
Hungerford, stands a cluster of aged yews, possibly coeval with the
Benedictine cell and church which were built there at the close of the
eleventh century. The trees form a kind of covered way or cloister and
now surround a central pond[983]. Of “Talbot’s yew,” in Tankersley Park,
Yorkshire, it is said that a man on horseback could turn round inside
its hollow trunk[984], and similar stories are related of other yew

Our catalogue might be extended, but there is scant space to describe
the yew of South Hayling (Hants), 33 feet round at its narrowest
girth[985]; that of Tisbury (Wilts.), 37 feet[986]; of Crowhurst
(Surrey) (Fig. 72), nearly 32¾ feet at a yard from the ground[987]; or
of its namesake, the Sussex Crowhurst, 27 feet[988]. The Chipstead yew,
in Surrey (Fig. 73), and the two yews of Mells, in Somerset, one of
which is shown in Fig. 74, are also well-grown trees. Hambledon, in
Surrey, possesses two good examples; the larger is seen in Fig. 75. A
mere glimpse only can be taken of the Swallowfield yew, Berkshire,
believed by Kingsley to be older than the parish church (built A.D.
1286)[989]; of Evelyn’s specimen at Scottshall (Kent), which he said was
eighteen of his paces “in compasse[990]”; the huge monarch of Twyford
churchyard, Hampshire; and the memorable, oft-described yew of Gilbert
White’s village of Selborne[991].


     FIG. 72. Crowhurst yew, Surrey. East side of churchyard. 32¾ feet
     in circumference at a height of 3 feet from the ground. The inside,
     which was artificially hollowed in the year 1820, contains a table,
     around which a dozen persons can be seated.

Before taking final leave of individual trees, an example given by
Strutt claims passing notice. Strutt cites an original charter which
refers to the building of a church at Pérone, or Péronne, in Picardy, in
A.D. 684. In this charter, a remarkable clause was inserted, giving
instructions for the preservation of a particular yew tree. The writer
adds that the tree was in existence in A.D. 1799[992]. If we could be
sure that the charter referred to the identical tree which survived till
the latter date, we should here have a rival to the veterans of
Fortingal and Brabourne.


     FIG. 73. Yew on North side of Chipstead church, Surrey.
     Circumference at 4 feet from the ground: 25 feet. The blocked-up
     doorway is Transitional Norman (c. A.D. 1175); the arch is round,
     but is ornamented with the “dog-tooth.” The Northern position of
     the yew was probably determined by the Northern approach to the

It has now been made clear that neither the exaggerated estimates of the
earlier school of botanists, nor the under-calculations of recent
writers, are quite satisfactory, and that, as of old


     FIG. 74. Yew, Mells churchyard, Somerset. Girth, at a height of 3
     feet from the ground, 11 ft 8 in. A slightly smaller tree stands a
     little towards the East, both specimens being situated on the South

the middle path is safest. We next ask how the yew came to be planted in
churchyards. One section of antiquaries teaches that the object was to
ensure a supply of evergreens for great festivals, and to furnish, in
particular, “palms” for the procession on Palm Sunday (the second Sunday
in Lent). That the “yew, or palm,” served this purpose is abundantly
proved by entries in churchwardens’ accounts, and by the actual evidence
of living eye-witnesses. Nor is it entirely a valid objection that box,
laurel, broom and willow, have been or are still used for a like
purpose[993]. It is on record, too, that twigs of yew were employed by
the priests for sprinkling the Holy Water, in the Asperges, before
Mass[994]. This class of evidence can be extended. The _Liber
Festivalis_, or “Directory for keeping the Festivals,” an old

[Illustration: FIG. 75. Yew, Hambledon churchyard, Surrey.
Circumference, at 3 feet from the ground, 29 feet; at 4 feet from the
ground, 30 feet.]

black-letter volume dated 1483, states that yew is carried about on Palm
Sunday, “for encheson (= cause)[995] that we have none olyve that berith
greene leef algate (= always)[996].” Irish peasants were wont to carry
sprays of yew in their caps during Passion Week, and to place small
portions beside the crucifix at the head of the bed[997]. On St Martin’s
Hill, near Marlborough, as previously noted (p. 194 _supra_), there is
an ancient earthwork, to which, so recently as 1858, a band of villagers
went in procession on Palm Sunday, carrying boughs of hazel, not of
yew[998]. Although the yew was absent, the ceremony supplies an
interesting link, and the connection of a Christian festival with
prehistoric remains seems to indicate an early origin of the custom.
Again, a well-known ecclesiastical ceremony consisted in the solemn
blessing by the priest, on Palm Sunday, of branches of yew and box,
which were then burnt to ashes, and these were preserved for use on the
Ash Wednesday of the following year[999]. When visiting Wookey, in
Somerset, during the summer of 1906, I was told that the old churchyard
cross, recently restored, was known as “Yew Cross,” because it was
formerly decorated with yew on Palm Sunday. It is an astonishing fact,
moreover, that in the North-West Himalayas the yew is not only an object
of veneration, but its twigs are carried in processions and incense is
made of its timber[1000]. The enthusiastic antiquary might rashly adduce
this as a proof of the Asiatic origin of the “Aryans,” let us rather
suppose, without prejudicing that vexed question, that it is another
instance of similarity of custom developing independently among diverse

Plainly, then, we have obtained at least a partial answer to our
question. Further usages, of a somewhat kindred nature, suggest reasons
for the presence of the tree in the churchyard. Yew branches were
carried by mourners at funerals; sprigs of yew were scattered on the
coffin; corpses were even rubbed with an infusion of the leaves, with a
view to preservation[1001]. Dryden speaks of the “mourner yew”; in
_Twelfth Night_ the clown sings of “My shroud of white, stuck all with
yew[1002]”; allusions are also found in the works of Dekker (1603),
Thomas Stanley (1651), and other seventeenth century writers. The
association of the yew with funerals survived until our day[1003]. Sir
Thomas Browne, discussing, with sonorous eloquence, the burials of the
ancient Greeks and Romans, tells us that “the funeral pyre consisted of
sweet fuel, cypress, fir, larix, yew, and trees perpetually verdant,”
and continues, later, “whether the planting of yew in churchyards hold
not its original from ancient funeral rites, or as an emblem of
resurrection, from its perpetual verdure, may also admit

Turning to a more prosaic theory, we find it urged that yew-trees were
planted in churchyards to protect the fabric from high storms and to
shelter the assembling congregation before the doors were opened. The
chief basis for this opinion is discoverable in the notable statute of
which the date is believed to be 35 Edward I. (A.D. 1307): _Ne rector
prosternat arbores in cemiterio_, that is, the rector must not cut down
trees in the churchyard, save, as the act proceeds to specify, for the
repair of the chancel[1005]. The statute was a repetition of a decree of
the Synod of Exeter (A.D. 1287), which forbade the felling of churchyard
trees, and expressly stated that they are often planted to prevent
injury to the building during storms[1006]. A like prohibition, it is
asserted, though mistakenly, had been earlier embodied in Magna
Charta[1007]. It is more pertinent to the present inquiry to remark that
the law is still binding. A foreign writer, whose name I cannot
ascertain, is quoted as stating that the yew was planted for shade and
_conciones_ (= assemblies)[1008]. With reference to the above-mentioned
decrees, it is argued that the yew would be the principal, if not the
only, kind of tree which needed preservation. If, then, with Gilbert
White[1009], we adopt the shelter theory as one explanation of the
presence of the yew, we tacitly admit that the tree, to have been of any
service, must have been planted long anterior to the date of the
statutes. Was the yew, it will reasonably be asked, well adapted for a
screen or shelter? On the one hand, Dr Lowe urges, as objections, the
tree’s slow growth and the horizontal habit of its branches. Against
this opinion we may set the more plausible view of Daines Barrington,
that the thick foliage of the yew renders it better for the purpose than
other trees[1010]. While not admitting that the shelter theory accounts
for the original intention of the earliest planters, it seems obvious
that even one yew would be effective in breaking the force of the wind
from a particular quarter. Moreover, two or three trees were often grown
in the churchyard. Slowness in reaching maturity would not be an
absolute bar, if, indeed, the tree were not already well advanced in
growth ere the church fabric was actually reared. As a matter of
history, a case cited by Barrington shows that the felling of yews
caused the roof of the church to suffer.

Other trees besides the yew would, without doubt, be also employed;
whether this was the case in primitive times may, however, be
questioned. The “rugged elm” of the _Elegy_ would come into favour in
due course. Examples of magnificent elms are to be seen at North Mimms
(Herts), Iford (Sussex), East Bedfont (Middlesex), and in many Essex
villages. Alfriston, in Sussex, has an immense elm, hollow with age.
Somewhat later, the sycamore, as at Plumpton (Sussex), and the horse
chestnut, as at Thursley (Surrey), were also utilized. This brings us
probably to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, though the precise
dates are usually not ascertainable. Cedars occasionally replace the
yew[1011], for example, in the churchyard of Lullingstone (Kent), or
they supplement it, as at Ashtead (Surrey). Rodmell, in Sussex has a
magnificent holm oak, besides a large horse-chestnut and numerous elms.
Walnuts are not uncommon; Mitcham and Great Bookham (Surrey), Clee and
Great Coates (Lincs.), furnish good examples. Boldre churchyard (Hants)
contains a maple which was considered by Gilpin and Strutt to be the
largest in England. A huge ash borders the Eastern yard at Westmeston
(Sussex), but the ash, especially the “weeping” variety, is a feature of
churchyards in the Northern counties. “They, too, had once their
office, they handed on the fire.” Of these miscellaneous trees I have
compiled, from observation, a goodly list, but always one meets the yew,
either sporadically, or in each successive churchyard. Whatever may have
been the case with our indigenous trees, such as the oak, and beech, or
the common elm--a tree now acknowledged to be endemic--at the date
referred to in the ordinances for protection, we do know that the yew
then existed as a churchyard tree. Its most common position--on the
South side of the building--is also that which is exposed to the
prevailing winds and rainstorms.

A very popular theory, and one which merits close examination, is that
yews were grown in the churchyard so as to ensure a ready supply of
material for the manufacture of bows. Even should anyone audaciously
deny that the yew is poisonous, he cannot dispute the existence of an
old-standing belief to that effect. A tree dangerous to cattle, it was
therefore argued, must be grown in an enclosed area. In Mediaeval times,
though perhaps not so commonly in the early Saxon period, such a space
was already furnished by the conveniently fenced churchyard. While we
cannot allow the claim that the fact of the tree’s being poisonous will
account for the felling of yew groves, while, rather, we must believe
that the needs of archery would demand the actual plantation of thickets
and woodlands, there is no reason for doubting that, where an additional
tree was preserved for the village bowyers, the husbandman would desire
to have it railed in. The yew groves, at least those artificially
planted, would usually have their own fences, and would be inaccessible
to cattle. Partly, the bow theory goes against the shelter theory, since
constant lopping would impair the tree’s usefulness as a curtain. The
bow theory, however, is not quite inconsistent with the employment of
sprays of the tree on festal occasions.

To review briefly the subject of British archery let us start fairly at
the Norman Conquest. It is known that the Normans were acquainted with
the cross-bow[1012] or arbalest (prob. from _arcus_ = a bow; _ballista_
= a military engine: the later spelling

[Illustration: FIG. 76. Shooting birds with the cross-bow. From a 14th
century MS. (Strutt.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 77. Shooting at the butts, with the cross-bow. 16th
century. (Strutt.)]

“arrowblest” is discredited), a somewhat complicated weapon, having a
handle or stock, to which was attached a bowstave of yew or steel (Figs.
76, 77). The cross-bow was drawn by means of a stirrup fixed at the end
of the stock, or it was slowly and laboriously wound up by cords and
windlass, and then drawn by means of a lever. Besides this cumbrous
weapon, the Normans, as we learn from the Bayeux “tapestry,” were
accustomed to use the simpler long-bow[1013], a plain arched weapon--a
“self” bow made of a single yew stave. These bows were employed at the
Battle of Hastings, and some writers have hastily assumed that the
long-bow “came over with the Conqueror.” This conclusion cannot be
accepted in silence.

[Illustration: FIG. 78. Saxon bow and arrow; an elaborate specimen. From
a 10th century MS., in the Cotton Library. (Strutt.)]

Able authorities state that the long-bow (Figs. 78, 79) was peculiarly
the weapon of Northern races in general[1014]. The Danes and the Saxons
used it in warfare[1015], and it is noteworthy that we inherit the
Anglo-Saxon words, _boga_, _boge_ (bow), and _arwe_ (arrow), the last
term having been in use so early as A.D. 835[1016]. There is also
evidence, based on examples of decorative ornament and on runes, that
archery was practised in England about the year A.D. 750. By some
authorities the Romans are supposed to have introduced the bow,
presumably the cross-bow, which is really a kind of portable ballista,
into the country[1017]. Sir John Evans, while admitting that the
cross-bow was in use during the Roman period, believes that it was not
known in the Neolithic

[Illustration: FIG. 79. Saxon archers, with long-bows. From an 8th
century MS. in the Cotton Library. (After Strutt.)]

Age, when long-bows made of yew were probably employed[1018]. Between
these two periods vast centuries roll, and we may fairly assume that the
cross-bow does not belong to pre-Roman Britain. But what impresses us is
the conviction that the plain long-bow had never been entirely
superseded. A yew bow, made of indifferent material, consisting of a
single stave about five feet long, was dug out of deep peat near
Cambridge in 1885, and was judged to be prehistoric[1019]. Switzerland
has also yielded a few specimens, but bows of undoubted Neolithic Age
are rare. Reasoning from the unnumbered arrowheads of stone which have
come down to us and which are now preserved in collections, we may infer
that the long-bow was in common use during the Later Stone Age, even
supposing that many “arrow-heads” were really tips for shafts thrown by
hand. We may peer yet further into a darker past, when, as Pitt-Rivers
suggests, primeval man fastened his lance to the stem of a young forest
tree, which he improvised as a spring-trap or an elastic throwing

This slight digression carries us thus far: the cross-bow may possibly
reach back to the Roman period, but the long-bow is certainly of
prehistoric origin. These conclusions have some bearing on the
artificial planting of yews, and are important to the upholders of the
“bow theory.” It may be advisable, too, to notice the discovery of a
spearhead of yew in the peat of the Fenland[1021].

Now we may return to the Norman Conquest, and the Norman cross-bow. To
wind up and discharge this weapon was obviously a difficult and tardy
process. For every bolt shot by the cross-bowman, the archer could
deliver six arrows[1022]. Mr C. F. Longman and Col. H. Walrond consider
this ratio much too favourable to the clumsier engine[1023]. Be that as
it may, the long-bow, swift and deadly, won for us Creçy and Poitiers.
Aided by their field entrenchments, the English were able to give the
national arm free scope, and the “quarrels” discharged by the Genoese
cross-bowmen were more than answered by the English arrows[1024]. The
scene makes us remember Gilpin’s apposite observation, that the
Frenchman drew a bow, while the English bent a bow. For, in England, the
cross-bow had given the first place to its lightsome competitor in the
thirteenth century[1025]. But the bolt and cross-bow lingered for two
more centuries, until the long-bow itself was struggling for supremacy
with the hand-gun or hand-cannon, which had been introduced about the
year A.D. 1446. A statute, passed in A.D. 1515, increased the property
qualification for using a cross-bow or hand-gun to 300 marks a year,
and this sum was again raised a few years later. At the same time the
use of the long-bow was enforced[1026].

We will now deal exclusively with the long-bow. Statutes relating to
archery are very numerous, and range from the time of Edward I. to that
of Charles II., during whose reign the long-bow practically died out as
a weapon, in spite of many patriotic attempts at resuscitation. Very
pleasant reading is afforded by some of these old ordinances. The first
statute, 13 Edward I. (A.D. 1285), known as the Statute of Winchester,
ordered all males of a certain rank to shoot from the age of seven, and
this act was not repealed until A.D. 1557. Statutes passed during the
reign of Edward III. commanded that bows and arrows should be provided
by the local authorities, and archery should be encouraged. Under
Richard II. all servants were to practise at the target, and Sunday was
specially nominated for the purpose. Henry IV. (A.D. 1405) regulated the
manufacture of arrow-heads, which were to have a steel point, and to
bear the mark of the maker. Most important legislation was passed under
5 Edward IV. c. 4 (Irish Statutes): “Every Englishman, and every
Irishman dwelling with Englishmen, shall have a bow of his own height.”
Later, came laws regulating the importation of bowstaves. Here it should
be explained that the timber of the yew, dense and elastic, was
considered to form the ideal raw material, but modern bowyers have
largely abandoned “self-yew” bows, and seem to prefer a combination of
two kinds of wood, yew for the inner, and hickory for the outer layer.
Since English yew was inferior to that of Spain, Portugal and Italy,
because it suffered from an excess of “pins”--spots from which branches
had been trimmed (Fig. 70, p. 367 _supra_)--importation was necessary.
First, then, bowstaves were ordered to be brought over with other
merchandise, and marked accordingly. Next, they were to be imported with
every butt of wine. The price was fixed, and soon the scale of charges
became complicated. In A.D. 1504, good bowstaves were admitted free of
duty. And so the story might be continued. There are commands to
practise the sport on feast-days, and on every possible occasion; the
quality of the bowstaves and arrows is to be improved; butts are to be
erected or repaired. Entries under this last head are found in parish
accounts extending well into the seventeenth century. The churchwardens’
accounts of Ashburton (Devon) for instance, refer (A.D. 1558-9) to
“lopping the yew-tree” and to payments “to the Bowyer.” So late as A.D.
1772, several thousand bowstaves came to England, chiefly from the
Baltic ports and from Rhineland[1027].

Seeing then, that the making of bows and arrows was, for many centuries,
a leading industry both in England and on the Continent, we are led to
ask to what extent Sir A. Conan Doyle’s lines express historical facts,
since they are obviously not correct as they stand.

        “What of the bow?
         The bow was made in England:
         Of true wood, of yew-wood,
         The wood of English bows.
         So men who are free
         Love the old yew-tree
    And the land where the yew-tree grows[1028].”

In the first place, it is abundantly clear that yew was the material
most sought after. Roger Ascham says that yew was best for “parfite
shootyng,” and that “Brasell (a hard, red, dye-wood), Elme, Wych, and
Asshe” were “meane for bowes[1029].” Now the importation of foreign yew
was rendered necessary, as already noticed, because the native material
was not the most suitable. More than this, the supply of yew, even with
the addition of cargoes from abroad, was insufficient. Thus, in 1541, to
give one instance only, it was enacted that the bowyer should make four
common bows of “elme, wych, brasil, ashe,” or other wood, for one of
yew. Near London, the proportion might be reduced--two bows of common
wood to one of yew[1030]. Our English yew was so knotty, that, as Brady
sadly remarks, it was “used for bows of boys, and other weak
shooters[1031].” While a bow made of the best foreign yew was to be sold
for 6_s._ 8_d._, a bow of English yew was assessed at a value of 2_s._
only. The main point to be noticed here is that, as an historical fact,
English yew was employed, at any rate, in part. And Warner, a writer of
the late eighteenth century, asserts that among the “lower ranks” there
was, in his time, a tradition that the churchyard yew was the source of
bowstaves[1032]. Apart from the churchyard tree, there were other
supplies. A general plantation of yews, we are informed, was
specifically commanded in 1483[1033]; Strutt cites the remarkable yew
wood on the isle of Inchconakhead, Loch Lomond, as a probable result of
such afforestation[1034]. General Pitt-Rivers suggested a like date and
origin for the yews of Cranborne Chase, and it is possible that several
ancient copses of yew were much extended in area about this time. In the
reign of Elizabeth--so we are told, but I doubt whether the assertion
can be upheld--yews were actually ordered to be planted in
churchyards[1035]. It is also stated that Charles VII. of France (A.D.
1422-1461) commanded that the tree should be grown in all the
churchyards of Normandy expressly to provide wood for cross-bows[1036].
Incidentally, we observe that the yew was employed in making both kinds
of bow. Connecting these facts with the practice of archery on the
village green, and with the ordinances for the repair of the parish
butts, it is a fair supposition that the churchyard yew served, though
perhaps as a secondary purpose of its existence, the demands of the
local bowyers.

Several objections have been raised against this last-named theory. The
inferiority of English yew has been mentioned; in the face of a
constant lack in the supply of yew, the objection is not weighty. Then
it is pointed out that the English churchyard seldom contains more than
one full-grown yew, and as a final word, Hansard affirms that “Every
yew-tree growing within the united churchyards of England and Wales,
admitting that they could have been renewed five times in the course of
a century, would not have produced one-fiftieth of the bows required for
military supplies[1037].” This is a hard saying. But, in fact,
churchyards sometimes have two or three yews, and probably, as Dr Lowe
hints, there may formerly have been more, though few have survived the
severe periodical loppings. Again, it is not claimed that the churchyard
stock of timber was more than supplementary and subsidiary. The yew
avenues and yew groves of many a nobleman’s estate would give toll. To
argue that the churchyard yew could not have been pruned to make bows
because that supply was insufficient, would be as erroneous as if the
future historian were to assert that English wheat could not have been
used for bread in the year 1911, because five out of six loaves were
obtained from external sources. And, as we have already seen, the plain
facts prove that the combined native and Continental stores of yew were
so inadequate that the laws compelled the substitution of other kinds of
timber in fixed proportions.

This deficiency of raw material has led some writers to raise the
question whether the artificial scarcity did not render the planting of
yew trees in graveyards a strict necessity[1038]. Hansard himself admits
that the inferiority of English yew has been too much insisted on[1039].
His other statement--that Henry IV. forbade the royal bowyer, Nicholas
Frost, to trespass for wood on the estates of any religious
order[1040]--does not finally dispose of the claim of churchyard trees,
though, in its own connections, the fact has some importance. A wary
controversialist, with a position to defend, might urge that the
injunction implies a former practice which was now, after this order, to
be discontinued. Here we are concerned, however, to test fairly all the
theories. Without wresting the evidence, there seems good ground for
believing that the churchyard yew supplied its quota of bowstaves to the
village, and that this may have possibly been the case even in the
pre-Conquest period. Not for a moment, however, do I believe that the
needs of archery explain the primary purpose of the first planters.

A faint side-light on the general subject of the utilization of
churchyard trees comes from Rodmell, in Sussex. During the sixteenth
century the rearing of silkworms was one of the industries of this
village, and a portion of the necessary supply of mulberry leaves was
obtained from trees grown in the churchyard. It is stated that specimens
of the trees were still standing in the eighteenth century.

From interpretations based on social economy, to those which make
ornament the primary purpose of the churchyard yew, the leap is not
great, since the latter idea, after running parallel with, may have been
ultimately superseded by the former. Thus, the churchwardens’ accounts
of Bridgenorth (Salop) record the planting of a yew-tree “for reverence
sake[1041].” Again, Giraldus de Barri, commonly called Giraldus
Cambrensis, who visited Ireland about the year A.D. 1184, observed the
yew in burial grounds and holy places. His words are: “_Prae terris
autem omnibus, quas intravimus, longe copiosus amara hic succo taxus
abundat, maxime vero in coemiteriis antiquis, locisque sacris, sanctorum
virorum manibus olim plantatas_, [al. _plantatis_] _et decorum et
ornamentum_ [al. _ornatum_] _quem addere poterant, arborum istarum
copiam videas_[1042].” The style of Giraldus is not beyond criticism,
but his meaning is quite clear: “In this country more than any other
which I have visited, yew-trees, having a bitter sap, abound, but you
will see them principally in ancient cemeteries and sacred places, where
they were formerly planted by the hands of holy men, to give what
ornament and beauty they could[1043].” While offering this as an
explanation of the original intention, Giraldus informs us, in another
part of his work, that, when Henry II. made his expedition to Ireland,
his archers went to Finglas, about two miles from Dublin, and
sacrilegiously laid violent hands on a beautiful group of yews, in a
most irreverent and atrocious manner (“_enormiter et irreverenter
desaevire coeperunt_”)[1044]. This took place, it will be noted, but a
few years before the Welsh antiquary’s own visit to Ireland, as
secretary to Prince John (A.D. 1185). Incidentally, we may glance at a
curious suggestion made by Mr C. I. Elton. Referring to the reputed
introduction of hive-bees to Ireland by St Dominic of Ossory, Mr Elton
supposes that there could have been little bee-culture until the yews
had largely disappeared, for the tree is prejudicial to this
industry[1045]. One would like to hear the opinion of bee-keepers on
this question; so far, one’s own inquiries have been fruitless.

From the idea of ornament we turn to the motive force of superstition.
The most curious example of this folly is given in a fantastic
description by Robert Turner, a seventeenth century writer on botany.
The passage merits full quotation. The yew was planted “commonly on the
West side [this is an error, W. J.] because those places being fuller of
putrefaction and gross oleaginous vapours exhaled out of the graves by
the setting sun, and sometimes drawn into those Meteors called Ignes
fatui, divers have been frightened, supposing some dead bodies to walk,
others have been blasted, not that it is able to drive away Devils, as
some superstitious Monks have imagined; nor yet that it was ever used to
sprinkle Holy Water, as some quarrelsome Presbyters, altogether ignorant
of natural Causes, as the signification of Emblems and useful Ornaments,
have fondly conceived.” The writer further admits that the yew is
poisonous; “yet the growing of it in the Church-yard is useful, and
therefore it ought not to be cut down upon what pittiful pretence
soever[1046].” Turner’s lofty disdain of “superstitious Monks” and
“quarrelsome Presbyters,” coupled with his own ideas of “natural
causes,” is very diverting, but discounts his claim to accuracy. Yet we
notice that, while pressing his own interpretation, he alludes to others
which were probably current in his day. We should remember, moreover,
that Turner wrote nearly two and a half centuries ago, and that he was,
to this extent, nearer the origin of the custom. Consequently, he may
have caught the record of genuine folk-memory, though that might have
already become confused.

In opposition to Turner’s scepticism about the power of the yew to
banish devils, was the popular belief that the tree protects the
graveyard from witches[1047]. Henderson says that the yew was indeed “a
very upas tree to witches,” and that this accounts for its proximity to
the church[1048]. Another writer, Mr W. G. Black, in an excellent paper,
takes a contrary view. Witchcraft was ever most powerful when it
exercised its mysterious influences through instruments usually
connected with the Church. Hence the value of divination by church key
and a book of Psalms; hence charms by coffin-rings and churchyard grass
(cf. pp. 164, 302 _supra_). The yew was actually helpful to witches
because it grew near the church[1049]. To harmonize these conflicting
superstitions is unnecessary, yet they might perhaps be traced along
converging lines to a common source. From religious consecration to
sorcery is a short journey for the ignorant. Besides this, the antiquary
is thoroughly accustomed to what one may call the “contradiction of
localities”; the yew may have been a guardian against witches in one
village, while in the next village the “midnight hag” used it as a
spell. Superstitions and customs cannot be adequately represented in a
unilinear series. The tree of descent throws out branches which lie in
many planes, and the terminal points may often be opposed to one

It chances that a passage in _Macbeth_, easily glided over unthinkingly,
bears upon this subject of the yew’s uncanny properties: “Slips of yew,
sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse[1050].” (_Sliver_, diminutive of Earlier
Mod. Eng. _slive_, a variant of _slip_ = to cut off[1051].) The allusion
to the balefulness of the eclipse arouses no special comment. The “fatal
and perfidious barque” which proved so unfriendly to Lycidas was “built
in th’ eclipse[1052].” The Venerable Bede found it necessary to forbid
Christians to practise witchery by the moon. The Chinese believe that
the eclipsed sun or moon is being devoured by a dragon, and the Hindoos
attempt to ward off the ill-effects of an eclipse by breaking
earthenware vessels and casting out the food contained therein[1053]. It
was natural, then, that eclipses represented times of foreboding and of
mysterious rites. But why employ a “sliver” of yew? The answer is
probably supplied by Sclavonic folk-lore. The devil, or storm-spirit,
claims the yew as his own. To use a beam of this tree, or even a branch
broken off by the wind, that is, a picked-up portion, was unlucky. The
devil would haunt the house of the sorcerer to regain his own. The
witch, therefore, employs a mere insignificant slip, useless either to
woodman or demon[1054]. Or was it that the three hags, being in league
with the Evil One, might lawfully use his instruments?

In German folk-lore, there was a belief that the wood of the yew, ground
to powder, made into paste, and baked in an oven, was a sovereign remedy
against the bite of a mad dog[1055]. Alternatively, a die was made of
yew and letters and signs were cut in the block. Cakes stamped with this
charm (_Toll-holz_) were given to the mad animal. These instances show
that the yew, while feared as of ill-omen, brought its measure of luck
to him who could obtain and use it aright.

The foregoing beliefs seem to form part of a tangled skein, which, if
temporarily dropped, must be picked up again shortly. In the interval,
material of a like nature may be examined.

The dense, heavy tree, “standing single in the midst of its own
darkness,” has been considered a just emblem of sin, death, and
mortality. Being, perhaps, our most deadly indigenous tree, it
materializes the adverse spirit of evil and destruction[1056]. In
partial conflict with this idea, the vitality of the tree, its
longevity, its durable timber, and its evergreen leaves, have suggested
to some minds the Resurrection and the eternal life. This latter fancy
may have been strengthened by the sight of young shoots springing out of
the old, apparently dead, wood, even from a decaying stump, or a hole
entirely hollow, and charred perchance by fire. Whether these symbolisms
are altogether adventitious and derivative, and whether they can be
quite reconciled, are difficult questions. The ideas have a Mediaeval
tinge, but none the less they may be relics of an older mysticism.

The inquiry may be pushed back further, because there are a few
miscellaneous fragments of evidence to be collected. Dr Daniel Rock,
whose volumes show wide research and carefulness in sifting
ecclesiological details, casts aside the bow theory, and proceeds to say
that many of our yews were planted by Anglo-Saxons, and not a few by
British Christians. The hardy evergreen yew is the analogue of the
cypress of hotter climes. The converted Britons, he believes, “often, if
not always, sought to build their churches near to some fine
yew-tree--even then, maybe, a few hundred years old[1057].” Dr Rock
gives the grand yew of Aldworth, Berkshire, as an example of this early
planting, but we can scarcely accept his opinion. Although, by actual
measurement, it was found, as already mentioned, that this tree has not
increased in girth since the year 1760, yet this girth is but 27 feet,
and will not satisfy the claim of so great an antiquity. Undoubtedly the
yew-tree was reverenced in the early times. Two churches, alluded to by
an ancient Welsh bard, were renowned for their prodigious trees: the
minsters of Esgor and Heûllan, “of celebrity for sheltering yews[1058].”
Boswell Syme, the authority for this statement, adds that Heûllan
signifies an old grove. We read, too, of consecrated yews. In the old
Welsh laws, a consecrated yew was assessed at £1, a specimen of
ordinary yew at 15 pence only. With these prices we may compare those of
a mistletoe branch and an oak branch, which were threescore pence and
sixscore pence respectively[1059].

In the North of Scotland the yew was credited with a peculiar property.
A branch of graveyard yew would enable one chief to denounce another, in
such a manner that, while the clansmen standing by could hear the
threats, the intended victim could not hear a word[1060].

Accumulated testimony shows that the yew was an object of veneration in
pre-Christian times. Mr H. C. Coote has dragged forth evidence on this
subject, as on many kindred questions, which had previously lain
unnoticed. “But of these old-world superstitions,” he writes, “that
connected with the yew-tree is the most interesting. For, as of old, it
was associated with the passage of the soul to its new abode,--so ever
since the introduction of Christianity into this country it has
continued to adorn the last resting place of the body which the soul had
left[1061].” He then quotes the poet Statius, who flourished about A.D.
81: “_Necdum illum_ [i.e. Amphiaraum] _aut trunca lustraverat obvia taxa
Eumenis_[1062],” that is, Amphiaraus had descended into Hades so quickly
that the Eumenides, or Furies, had no time to purify him by a touch of
the holy yew branch[1063]. The Furies are also fabled to have made
torches of yew[1064]. In connection with the superstition mentioned by
Statius, a discovery described by Wright is of interest. In a Roman
cinerary urn there was found a dark incrustation of vegetable matter,
believed to be caused by the decay of a branch of yew[1065].

Since, then, the yew called forth tributary respect in pagan times, we
are led nearer the centre of mystery, and the Cimmerian shades close in
rapidly. Can we be sure of the primary cause of the veneration? The tree
has been popularly associated with that much misunderstood priestly
caste, which embraced the Druids of classical writers. Dr Lowe contends
that there is no evidence to show that the Britons held the yew in
reverence; to disprove the notion, he adds, “I have been unable to
discover a single instance of a Druidical stone being associated with a
Christian church[1066].” If, as is fairly evident, “Druidical stone” is
to be interpreted as “prehistoric megalith,” a reference to Chapter I.
will show that such cases were probably not uncommon. Concerning the
Druids and their sacred trees our direct knowledge is scanty, but
absence of allusions to the yew in connection with Druidical rites is
not completely conclusive against the ceremonial virtues of the tree.
Besides, there are some half hints which are not quite negligible.

To speak of the worship of sacred trees would carry us far from our
bearings. Those who desire to study this subject would do well to read
Professor J. G. Frazer’s _Golden Bough_, and the famous seventh chapter
of Mr Grant Allen’s _Evolution of the Idea of God_. From these writers
we learn not only the significance of tree-worship and tree-spirits, but
we understand the inspiring motive of ceremonial tree-planting. The
first trees which grew on barrows may have become rooted there by
accident, such as the chance visits of birds, or the scraping together
of the material of the mound. The trees would receive the more
encouragement from the fact that the soil had been turned over and
laboured. Again, is it too fanciful to suggest that a sacred
grave-stake, freshly trimmed, might occasionally put forth leaves and
take root? Whatever the origin of the practice, direct planting, with a
fixed purpose, would eventually come into vogue. Shrubs, especially
evergreens, would be placed on the graves of dead tribesmen (cf. p. 323
_supra_). Like practices have been recorded the world over. Greeks,
Arabs, Etruscans, Phoenicians, Hindoos, Chinese, and various American
peoples furnish examples. A survival is seen in the English custom of
thrusting slips of bay and yew into the green turf of Christian

Frequently the round or Bronze Age barrows of the South of England are
topped by the Scotch pine, a tree which is not indigenous to that
region. In Southern Europe the cypress is the favoured evergreen of
tombs and cemeteries, but in Italy and Provence the holm-oak is equally
a conventional graveyard tree. In Northern Europe it is the yew which
receives the place of honour[1068]. Branches of cypress and yew were
employed in ancient Greece and Rome as signals that a household was in
mourning[1069]. No great stress can be laid on the passage from
Macpherson’s _Ossian_, “The yew was a funereal tree, the companion of
the grave among the Celtic tribes. Here rests their dust, Cuthullen!
These lonely yews sprang from their tomb and shaded them from the
storm[1070].” Without daring to re-open the _Ossian_ controversy, one
may, however, hazard the opinion that the passage enshrines a genuine

At Knowlton, Dorset, as stated on p. 13 _supra_, the church, which is
now utterly ruined, and which is of Norman, or, as some have supposed,
perhaps even Saxon foundation, stood within a round British earthwork,
one of a small group. The earthworks, which were first carefully
described by Warne, are themselves now nearly obliterated, but a group
of storm-swept yews, it will be recollected, marks the site[1071]. It is
perhaps justifiable to suppose that our early ancestors, like the
churchmen of Mediaeval days, replaced dead or uprooted yews by fresh
saplings. The group of yews at Kingly Vale, to which we have already
paid some attention, stands in the neighbourhood of four barrows, and
numerous excavations, probably prehistoric, dot the turfy slopes of the

Folk-lore lends a little help in attaching the yew to prehistoric
observances. Sir John Rhŷs relates a story of an Irish hero, who, by the
aid of his druid or magician, defied the fairies, dug into the heart of
their underground home, and recovered his lost wife. To accomplish
this, the druid used “powerful ogams” written on rods of yew[1072].
O’Curry records a saga wherein the druids employ divination wands made
of yew[1073]. Sir G. L. Gomme thinks that the change from oak or
mistletoe to yew was the result of Christian influence, and that
Druidism continued to exist long after it was officially dead[1074].
This may be so, but, theory for theory, there is a little more reason
for supposing that the early Church diplomatically accepted a settled
custom. Moreover, though the yew was planted in the graveyard, and
though it was pressed into service on Palm Sunday, it is only in modern
times that its branches have been admitted into the sacred building as a
portion of the Christmas decorations. Even to-day an East Anglian
superstition says that if anyone accidentally brings yew into the house
along with the other Christmas evergreens, a death will occur in his
family within a twelvemonth[1075]. This refusal of a place of honour
during the great period of joyousness and festivity seems to indicate
that the tree was originally adopted by the Christians, not from choice,
but from policy; in other words, a pagan emblem was adopted, but not
unreservedly. Yew twigs were appropriate only to the more solemn
services of the Church. Again, the branches were doubtless proper
decorations for a maypole, as one may learn to-day from outlying
districts like the Aland Isles; but for centuries the yew was not
recognized at the great Christian anniversary.

In a legend related to the king of Tara by Finntann, the cultivator and
craftsman of the yew, it is said that the first household vessels were
made of the timber of this tree[1076]. In the British Museum, London, as
well as in the Science and Art Museum of Dublin, many early implements
made of yew are exhibited. Ossian speaks of the war chariot thus: “Of
polished yew is its beam; its seat of the smoothest bone.” This
tradition may point to a former abundance of the tree, or it may denote
a slackening of ceremonial, followed by the employment of yew wood for
economic purposes.

There remain a few more “half-hints.” The Fortingal yew (p. 375 _supra_)
had its career shortened by the lighting of Beltane fires against its
trunk[1077]. The origin of Beltane fires is on all hands admitted to be
at least pre-Roman. Another illuminating fact is that when this aged
tree had become separated into two portions, funeral processions were
accustomed to pass between the limbs[1078].

Readers of Scott will remember that in the _Lady of the Lake_ (canto
iii., st. 8), the fiery cross by which clansmen were gathered to battle
was made of yew, and we may assume that the poet had heard of the
mystical associations of the tree. The lines run thus:

    “A slender crosslet formed with care,
     A cubit’s length in measure due:
     The shaft and limbs were rods of yew.”

We return for a moment to the question of the association of yews with
ancient remains. Professor H. Conwenz, at the meeting of the British
Association in 1901, asserted that there exist some hundreds of
place-names in England, Scotland and Ireland, connected with the word
“yew.” Ireland was especially rich in this respect, and in some of the
Irish localities fossil yew had been found. The statement, if
verifiable, is of deep interest, but our English philologists, up to the
present, do not seem to have dealt with this series of place-names. Near
the churchyard yew of Darley Dale are traces of British dwellings[1079].
The Cranborne Chase yew grove is not far from the camp at Winkelbury,
nor from the Romano-British villages of Woodcuts and Rotherly. Our
churchyards, as shown in Chapters I. and II., are sometimes in
close proximity to prehistoric antiquities. The allusion to
assemblies--“conciones”--around the yew-tree (p. 383 _supra_) may carry
us back to Saxon or even early British customs. At least one example of
such ancient usage has been brought to light by Sir G. L. Gomme. It
refers to the market and fair of Langsett, Yorkshire, which, together
with the manorial court, were held under an old yew. During the
eighteenth century, when the tree still flourished, tradition said that
the meetings went back to time immemorial[1080]. Within these last sixty
years, again, a yearly fair or wake was held on Palm Sunday--a
noteworthy date--under the boughs of the old Surrey yew in Crowhurst
churchyard[1081] (Fig. 72, p. 378).

One further problem remains to be noticed. Why is the yew, in a majority
of instances, placed on the South side of the churchyard, or, failing
the South, why on the West? For it is manifest to the careful observer
that the North side is little favoured, and the East even less. In
discussing the folk-lore of the cardinal points we saw that parishioners
formerly shunned the North side of “God’s Acre,” and craved burial in
the Southern or Western portions. The roots of this preference spread
wide and deep, but even superficially there were reasons good enough. On
the South side stood usually the churchyard cross (p. 328 _supra_). The
main door and the entrance gate commonly faced the noonday sun. In Saxon
times, when, as Dr Rock remarks, the simple building had often only one
door, this door looked to the South[1082]. Clearly this quarter was
popular. Originally, man would be guided in his selection by
considerations of physical warmth; respect for solar influences on
animated nature may have followed. Based on these feelings, ideas of
sentiment, and later, of reverence, would be kindled in the minds of the

For many years I have been collecting details concerning the position of
yews in churchyards. Turning to the county of Surrey, I find well-grown
yews tabulated for 41 churchyards--the list is not quite exhaustive. Of
course, many churches lack the attendant yew. To simplify the question,
we will imagine a median line passing East and West through the church,
and prolonged through the churchyard. Trees standing South-East and
South-West may for our present purpose be considered to be on the South
side; the North-East and North-West corners are similarly reckoned as
North. There remain the yews which occur roughly on the median
line--East or West. On this basis, five Surrey yews were noted as being
on the North side, and only six on the West. One only is recorded as
standing due East. The remainder are situated due South or at
intermediate positions in the sun’s track. Partial explanations may
frequently be offered. In one case of a Western yew, there is a doorway
at the West end only; in another, the tree is rather young, and is a
doubtful claimant to be catalogued. Again, at Chipstead (Fig. 73, p.
379), a noble yew on the North overshadows a blocked-up Northern door of
Transitional Norman date, so that formerly the villagers passed this
tree as they entered the edifice. Still again, one North yew is perhaps
accounted for by the fact that the Southern yard is a mere strip,
though, to present the case fully, we must note that occasionally one
finds a North yew where the Southern burial ground is spacious, and the
Northern actually narrow and stinted.

In order to form a just opinion on the subject of the yew’s position, we
ought to ascertain the earliest plan of the church and the original
extent of the burial-ground. It would then, I think, be discovered that
the space most used for interments, and the porch or door through which
the worshippers generally entered the building, correspond, in the vast
majority of cases, with the position of the sentinel yew. Which is
cause, and which is effect, may be an open question. Did the yew obtain
its place--generally, as we have seen, with the South aspect--because of
the superstitious notions already given, and were the graves afterwards
made in a cluster around it? Or did the accumulating burials on a
particular side call forth a desire for a funereal emblem, a “warder of
these buried bones,” as Tennyson sang? Again, did the yew precede the
church, or the church the yew, or were they co-eval? Probably no single
solution is the true one. Surveying the whole field, I think that the
planting of the yew was generally an after-event, because a preference
for interment on the sunny side goes back to pre-Christian times, and
because the yew is not a universal feature in churchyards. In some few
cases the building and the tree are apparently of equal age; in other
instances, the church may have been built, one imagines, adjacent to an
already existing tree.

The Surrey statistics are borne out by those of Hampshire. Out of
twenty-one ancient yews which I have scheduled for that county, five
only stand on the North side, two on the West, and one on the East. If a
complete list were obtainable, it might tell a similar story. Here, as
in dealing with Surrey, should two yews be present, the classification
considers the older and more important tree; should there be more than
two, the positions of the majority of old trees are taken. It frequently
happens that there are several young trees, in those cases what may be
called a “foundation yew” often dominates the graveyard. Two Easterly
yews and one Northerly are alone recorded for those positions in
Middlesex; two Northerly for Berkshire, and similarly for other
counties, though in no county is the list at all complete. Again, out of
nineteen Normandy villages with churchyard yews, the figures were:
thirteen yews on the South, five West, one North, and none East. Hence,
the preference is French as well as British. In districts where chalk
and limestone are absent, the yew is comparatively scarce. On the
Boulder Clay of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, and, in fact, over the North
of England as a whole, the ash, elm, and horse chestnut are the most
usual trees. Frequently they are supplemented by a few pyramidal Irish
yews of no great age.

A rapid co-ordination of details may now be given. The yew appears to
have been held in superstitious respect during the Bronze Age[1083], and
it is possible, in the preceding Neolithic period. The Romans and
Greeks favoured the tree for its funereal symbolism. The earliest
Christians in Britain seem to have adopted the yew as a sacred emblem,
occasionally, perhaps, building their churches by its side; and,
reverencing it because of its hallowed associations, they employed it
for certain gloomy ceremonies. Early Mediaeval symbolists saw in the
tree a type alike of death and of resurrection, and the yew actually
obtained a position in ritual, and prestige in the Church Calendar. Much
later, it crept into the Christmas decorations. Meanwhile, in harmony
with the Mediaeval practice of combining the secular and religious life
of the community, the yew seems to have been in some instances a
trysting-place for open-air assemblies. It sheltered the church fabric
from storms, and, at a time when “England was but a fling, But for the
eugh and the grey goose wing,” it lent its aid in protecting the country
itself. The “sad, unsociable plant” most likely increased
numerically--in churchyards, in avenues, and on upland wastes where it
had flourished in Pleistocene times but had afterwards disappeared.
History tells little of all these incidents, but in the minds of most
men, ignorant or learned, there is an instinctive feeling, not dissonant
with reasonable probability, that this mysterious, old-world tree
derives its dignity and expressiveness from the customs of ages
exceedingly remote. Well might Mr William Watson, sitting--not indeed,
under some aged tree in a sequestered graveyard, but beneath the shade
of the monarch yew near Newlands Corner, in Surrey--sing of the
exceeding longevity of these sentinels, which guard their secrets with
such jealousy:

    “Old emperor yew, fantastic sire,
       Girt with thy guard of dotard kings,--
     What ages hast thou seen retire
       Into the dusk of alien things?
     What mighty news hath stormed thy shade,
     Of armies perished, realms unmade[1084]?”



It is probable that the story of the horse fascinates more diverse
groups of students than does that of any other domestic animal. Truly,
too, has it been said, though with a touch of cynicism, that association
with this creature will draw out all that is knavish in man, just as it
will encourage acts of the finest heroism. But whether the cynic or the
idealist be right, or each partly right, there can be no denial of the
leading place taken by the horse in the history of man’s conquest of
Nature or in the decisive battles which have determined the supremacy of

To the expert palaeontologist, who prepares the way for the patient
workers in zoology and folk-lore, the descent of the horse is attractive
because it illustrates, with great beauty and precision, the modern
doctrine of development. From an examination of many collections of
bones, derived both from the Old and the New Worlds, Huxley and Marsh
constructed a general pedigree, of which the details, as discoveries
have gradually accumulated, have been filled in by such workers as Sir
E. Ray Lankester, Dr C. W. Andrews, Mr R. Lydekker, and Professor J.
Cossar Ewart, in Britain, and, in the United States, by Professor R. S.
Lull. We begin, far back in the lowest Eocene division of the Tertiary
period, with a small hypothetical, or at least unidentified, plantigrade
creature, perhaps no larger than a rabbit, with five digits on each of
its fore and hind limbs. It would be difficult to produce a specimen of
the exact ancestral animal which would satisfy all investigators, but
its former existence is doubted by few[1085]. Still keeping to the
Eocene formation, though mounting to a higher horizon--the London
Clay--we come to _Hyracotherium_, which was an animal about the size of
a hare or very small fox, and which fed on the soft, green vegetation
around the margins of lakes and rivers[1086]. _Hyracotherium_ (Fig. 80)
had four toes on its fore feet[1087], with vestiges, or “rudiments,” as
they are unfortunately called, of a fifth. In _Palaeotherium_ of the
Upper Eocene, there are three toes only, but these are nearly equal in
size[1088]. (It may be well to recall the geological systems of the
Tertiary period: they are, in ascending order, Eocene, Oligocene,
Miocene, Pliocene.) In the Oligocene genus _Mesohippus_, of which the
members were perhaps as large as a sheep, there is still a suggestion of
a fourth toe in the fore foot[1089], but the two side toes which are
actually discernible do not themselves quite touch the ground. In
_Hipparion_ of the Miocene and Pliocene formations, the lateral toes,
each terminated by hoofs, were still shorter; and the earlier
_Anchitherium_ was in much the same plight. Both the last-named animals
are now deemed to be off the direct ancestral line of our present-day
horses[1090], but they may stand as early types. Indeed it is difficult
to formulate a genealogy which is everywhere accepted. Chiefly owing to
the migrations which must have occurred, no complete family tree can be
prepared, and all attempts, while true as a whole, are only
approximately correct as regards the detailed relationships. The general
direction being clear, onward we go, passing creatures as large as a
donkey, still preserving vestiges of the lateral toes, till at last we
reach the horses of history. The horse which we know

[Illustration: FIG. 80. The ancestors of the horse and its relatives:
comparison of sizes and forms.

_a._ _Hyracotherium_ (Lower Eocene deposits).
_b._ _Plagiolophus_ (Middle Eocene).
_c._ _Mesohippus_ (Oligocene).
_d._ _Merychippus_ (Miocene).
_e._ _Pliohippus_ (Pliocene).
_f._ Typical modern domesticated horse (_Equus caballus_).

From the _Amer. Jour. Science_, XXIII. p. 167; by the courtesy of
Professor R. S. Lull.]

has but one central, solid-nailed or hoofed toe, but it retains, hidden
beneath the skin, traces of two side toes in the form of the “splint
bones,” as they are called by the anatomist and the veterinary surgeon.

Thus we see that the primitive creature, which throve on the lowlands
and in the damp forests, was succeeded by representatives which had lost
the divided hoof. We infer that a change of habitat had occurred: the
cloven, spreading foot was no longer necessary. Accompanying this
modification, great structural changes were developed in the teeth,
suggesting that the animal had begun to feed on harder, drier herbage.
There are other “decadent remnants” visible in the modern horse, such as
the callosities, or “chestnuts,” of the limbs, which are believed to
have once been functional, possibly as scent-glands[1091]. Viewed as a
whole, the developed genus _Equus_ is larger, swifter, and stronger than
its ancestors, and it is proportionately more supple and graceful.

The story just outlined is not a whispering vision vouchsafed to a few
favoured palaeontologists. Behind the theory there is reality, as may
easily be proved by a study of authoritative works[1092], or by an
examination of the specimens in the Natural History Museum at South

Our first intimation of human contact with the horse is furnished by the
Solutrean and Magdalenian caves and rock-shelters of France.
Representations of the animal, both on the flat and the round, are not
uncommonly found associated with remains of the latter period. The
cavern of Bruniquel, Tarn-et-Garonne (Magdalenian period), yielded
sculptures of horses’ heads, representing carved objects which were
probably portions of javelin-throwers. A fragment of a horse’s rib from
the same site was engraved with three horses’ heads[1093]. From the
cave-shelter of La Madelaine, Dordogne, there was obtained a bone
incised with the figure of a naked man, on each side of which was a
horse’s head[1094]. Other French examples might be given (Fig. 81 A).
Only one English specimen is on record--a polished fragment of a rib,
engraved with the head of a horse, found at Robin Hood’s Cave, Cresswell
Crags, Derbyshire[1095] (Fig. 81 B).

[Illustration: FIG. 81. A. Drawing of a horse, by a cave-man. Dordogne,
France. (British Museum.) The large head and the upright mane are
especially noticeable.

B. Horse’s head, incised on a piece of bone; Limestone cave, Cresswell
Crags, Derbyshire. (British Museum.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 82. Prejevalski’s (or the Mongolian) wild horse
(_Equus prejevalskii_). This animal has a large head, a short upright
mane, and relatively long ears. The body colour is yellow dun, merging
into rufus brown. A narrow dark stripe runs down the back. The
illustration may be compared with the cave-man’s drawing (Fig. 81 A).]

From a casual inspection of these early and priceless works of art, we
might conclude that the horse known to Palaeolithic man was of a stunted
breed, small and heavy, with a large head, rounded forehead, short neck,
and an upright or “hog mane.” But this generalization would be lacking
in precision. Professor Ewart has discriminated three types. The first
type includes horses the features of which closely agree with those of
the wild species (_Equus prejevalskii_) recently discovered in the Great
Gobi Desert. (There is a wide diversity of usage in spelling the
scientific name of this animal, as also the name of its Russian
discoverer.) This horse, a specimen of which is to be seen in the
Zoological Gardens, London (Fig. 82), resembles pre-eminently the Cave
horse just described. The second type embraces animals which resemble
the broad-browed ponies often met with in the Western Highlands of
Scotland, while the third type suggests the slender-limbed,
narrow-headed ponies of Western and North-Western Europe[1096].

Whether Palaeolithic man, even during the latest Cave Period, had begun
to tame the horse, is a question which has been keenly debated. Bones
found by M. É. Piette in the celebrated cave of Mas d’Azil, on the left
bank of the Ariège, in Southern France, were incised with drawings of
horses’ heads. In one example there was a delineation of what are
supposed to be halters, and in another, of some kind of trappings[1097].
I believe that the nature of these ornaments is not widely disputed, so
that the controversy turns upon their exact signification. The trappings
have, indeed, been thought to represent a hunter’s fur cloak, carelessly
thrown over a subjugated horse; and again, with slightly more reason, it
is urged that the “saddle” is imaginary, the lines being merely a
conventional finish to the drawing, comparable to the marks on early
pottery. Again, the use of anything of the nature of a saddle could
scarcely appertain to the earliest stages of domestication. M.
Zaborowski has conjectured that the supposed halters are really lassoes,
and it has therefore been inferred that horses were kept
semi-domesticated in a kind of compound, for purposes of food[1098]. We
may notice, as bearing on this contention, the description given by
Herodotus respecting the Sagarthians, an ancient people allied to the
Persians in speech and in dress. The Sagarthians were in the habit of
capturing their foe--“be it man, or be it horse”--by the aid of lassoes
terminating in nooses[1099]. Canon Rawlinson tells us that this practice
was common to many of the ancient nations of Western Asia[1100]. As to
the horse of the Cave Period, MM. Carl Vogt, Émile Cartailhac, and G.
de Mortillet, consider that its domestication would be possible only by
the help of the dog, the first animal to be tamed; and since remains of
the dog are lacking at Palaeolithic stations, a presumably fatal
objection is lodged[1101]. This view is not, however, uniformly
accepted. M. Julien Fraipont, for instance, grants that the drawings
show that man had tamed the animals represented, but denies that this
implies domestication. The creatures were probably captured young[1102].
But is not this tantamount to an admission that the first step towards
domestication had been taken?

Early man, as a modern humorist has remarked, would indeed at first take
to his heels to avoid the heels of the early horse. But this fear did
not last for ever. Palaeolithic man both hunted the animal and ate its
flesh. At the rock-shelter of Solutré, Saône-et-Loire, there was
discovered, around the primitive hearths, a veritable wall of horse
bones, the relics of thousands of animals[1103]. At La Laugerie, horses’
teeth abounded[1104]. At the rock-shelter of Cro-Magnon remains of the
horse were predominant. It has been urged that these remains were not
those of wild animals. Professor N. Joly supposes that the horse would
be sheltered, and gradually brought to a less precarious condition of
life. He also cites M. Toussaint, who boldly claims that the horse bones
of Solutré are those of domesticated animals. Allowing for minor
differences, it is submitted that the bones are quite similar to those
of modern horses. The quantity of bones and the age of the horses which
they represent--four, five, or six years--are deemed to indicate a
domestic herd. The remains are assembled in one place, and it is
therefore assumed that the horses were boiled, cut up, and eaten at that
spot, just as would be the case with domesticated animals. Had the
horses been hunted in a wild state, they would have been carried
piecemeal from a distance, as is the case with the earliest caves of
the archaeolithic age[1105]. These arguments are by no means without a
flaw, but they carry some weight. And English opinion, so far as can be
gathered, is rather in favour of the theory that the Palaeolithic
cave-men had made tentative efforts in taming the horse. Our English
authorities seem to lay more stress on the Mas d’Azil trappings than do
their French brethren[1106].

When we come to the Neolithic Age, we find an anomaly; the horse seems
to be a much rarer animal than in the preceding period. Yet horses of a
type closely resembling those of the Palaeolithic Age were probably
domesticated in several parts of Europe[1107]. Skulls obtained from
Pleistocene deposits at Walthamstow, Essex, seem, on the one hand, to
indicate a race allied to, if not identical with, the Solutrean
cave-horse of the Mongolian type (_E. prejevalskii_)[1108]. Horse
remains, however, from later superficial deposits, associated with
Neolithic relics only, appear to be rare. Though found amid the ruins of
Neolithic lake-dwellings in Switzerland, bones of the horse cannot be
declared abundant, even at those stations. The British evidence is so
unsatisfactory that some writers, like Lord Avebury, have doubted
whether the horse was known in Britain during the Neolithic Age. Lord
Avebury states that he knows of no well-authenticated instance of the
occurrence of the horse in a long barrow. After analysing the records of
excavations made by Greenwell and Bateman, he concludes that the horse
bones tabulated by these investigators belong to the Bronze Age, or even
to a later period[1109]. Again, Professor Ridgeway, after asserting
that it is by no means clear that Neolithic man had tamed the horse,
conjectures that the primeval horses had become extinct, and had been
replaced by a re-introduced species only at the end of the Bronze, or
the beginning of the Iron Age[1110].

Against these conclusions may be set the opinion of Canon Greenwell: “I
cannot understand how any one with the evidence properly before him can
doubt that the goat, sheep, horse, and dog were, in the earliest
Neolithic times, imported as domesticated animals into this country and
into Switzerland[1111]”--a notable statement. Since it is the horse
alone with which we are now dealing, I select some of Canon Greenwell’s
examples of barrows which yielded bones of that animal. In a round
barrow of the East Riding, two pelvic bones were found associated with
implements of flint and greenstone[1112]. Another round barrow contained
the remains of three horses, accompanied, however, by a bronze dagger as
well as pottery[1113]. The famous Rudstone barrow, in which horse teeth
were discovered, furnished large quantities of implements, all of
stone[1114]. With these typical cases, the reader may compare those
described by Mr J. R. Mortimer, whose researches were also made in
Yorkshire[1115]. If it be objected that round barrows are not Neolithic,
it must be remembered that the Yorkshire round barrows form a special
class. They enclose human remains which do not belong to one race only,
and many of them are now assigned to the Transition period which is
known as the Aeneolithic (i.e. Bronze-Stone Age)[1116]. When stone
implements alone are found in the barrows, the early, or, at least,
transitional character of such mounds is emphasized.

There is other evidence available. Professor Boyd Dawkins has recorded
the discovery of remains of the horse (_Equus caballus_) from five
British bone caves, and from one refuse heap in North Wales, all the
stations being considered as belonging to the Neolithic period[1117].
Mr W. J. Knowles, in a letter to the writer, dated February 10, 1909,
states that he has frequently found teeth and bones of the horse at the
Whitepark Bay site, co. Antrim; the associated implements found there
are classed as early Neolithic or Mesolithic. Although Mr Knowles has
not himself found the relics in the “old floor,” he believes that they
were derived from that level; moreover, the Rev. G. R. Buick has
actually obtained similar remains from this undisturbed “black layer.”
Again, Mr Wintour F. Gwinnell informs me that he has in his possession
horse teeth, which there is every reason to believe were found in
association with a flint celt, also in his possession. The implement and
the teeth were dug up at Wiggonholt, in Sussex. Dr A. Irving, again,
describing to the British Association (1910) horse remains found at
Bishops Stortford, claimed that the relics were those of a late
Pleistocene type of animal, and further that this type persisted down to
the Early Iron Age. Since the associated objects included some which
belonged to the Bronze and Early Iron, as well as the Neolithic,
periods, the age of this particular deposit could not, unfortunately, be
settled beyond dispute. Some have even thought the remains modern[1118].

There is thus a measure of reasonableness in the belief that “the horse
has been here all the time,” as a witty naturalist once expressed it. It
is also not improbable that Neolithic man of Britain had tamed the
animal, and that, partly in consequence, it had become less familiar to
the primitive butcher. That the horse was eaten by man during the Bronze
Age seems proven. The bones and teeth found in grave-mounds of the
period appear to be the relics of funeral feasts. Mr J. R. Mortimer,
who has excavated large numbers of barrows of the Aeneolithic and Bronze
Ages, deems it certain that the horse was eaten at the burial banquet.
He relies for proof mainly on the fact that the bones were always found
detached, and often broken[1119].

From a study of classical references to the horse, and from a comparison
of survivals existing among primitive peoples, one is led to infer that
the horse was first domesticated, not for riding, but for yoking to
carts and chariots. By some writers it is conjectured that there was
even an earlier stage, when Turko-Tartaric tribes impounded the horse
and reared it for the sake of its milk and flesh. In corroboration of
this hypothesis, Professor Ridgeway and Dr O. Schrader refer to the
modern Kalmucks and Tartars, who retain a rooted preference for mares’
milk, a legacy from the days when this liquid was used for daily
nutrition[1120]. Among other races, and in other climes, the ox may have
had a parallel history. But from this debateable ground we move to
matters better attested. Riding a horse (κελητίξειν) was such a rare and
curious exhibition in ancient Greece, that but a single casual instance
is recorded in the writings of Homer. Equestrian exercise was “the
half-foreign accomplishment of the Kentauroi[1121].” It has, indeed,
been suggested that the fable concerning the Thessalian Centaurs, who
were half-man and half-horse, originated in accounts of the earliest
feats of horsemanship. At Marathon (B.C. 490), the Persians, but not the
Greeks, used cavalry. The story of the horse in Greece seems to have
been repeated in Ireland, as shown by the poetical literature of the
latter country. Professor Ridgeway states that, in the earliest Irish
epics, the warriors all fight from chariots--there are no riders on
horseback. In the later cycle--that of Finn and Ossian (A.D. 150-300),
horses are little used, and, when mentioned at all, they are ridden.

Herodotus tells us of tribes who lived North of the Danube and who
possessed horses of a peculiar kind. The description is somewhat
precise. The horses were small and flat-nosed (or “short-faced”) and
were incapable of carrying men (σμικροὐς δἐ καἰ σιμοὐς καἰ ἀδυνάτους
ἄνδράς φέρειν). The animals were covered entirely with a coat of shaggy
hair, five fingers in length--about 3½ inches. (ἐπἰ πέντε δακτύλους το
βάθος--“to the depth of five fingers.”) Though not strong enough to bear
men, the horses, when yoked to chariots, were among the swiftest
known[1122]. While some writers have seen in this passage an allusion to
creatures of the type of the Shetland pony, Professor Ridgeway has
remarked that the description agrees well with the skeletons of horses
found near Mâcon (Saône-et-Loire), especially in respect to the short,
ugly-shaped skulls[1123].

The Hebrew Scriptures contain numerous references to the horse, in
connection with both riding and charioteering. Yet it is noteworthy that
no mention is made of the animal at all until after the return of the
Israelites from Egypt. Earlier enumerations of patriarchal wealth speak
of sheep, oxen, camels, and asses, but not of horses. The first mention
of the horse on Egyptian monuments appears during the 18th Dynasty (c.
B.C. 1520)[1124]. After the Egyptian Captivity, Scriptural allusions
begin to grow common. No lover of literary form will forget Job’s
magnificent description of a war-horse, whose neck is clothed with
thunder, and the glory of whose nostrils is terrible[1125]. It is well,
too, to remember, as an historical event, the establishment, by David,
of a force of cavalry and charioteers after his crushing defeat of

The deplorable deficiency of pictorial art in the Neolithic and Bronze
periods deprives us of the means of fully checking the sequence of the
stages in horse-taming in Europe. The rock-carvings, however, of Norway
and Sweden, which date from the Bronze Age, show that the horse was
used for riding and driving[1127]. That this age was preceded, in
Scandinavia or Central Europe, by an era when the horse was employed for
traction and transport only, is very probable. Swiss lake-dwellings of
the Bronze Age seem to indicate an overlapping of the stages. The
discovery, on these sites, of numerous horse-bits and wooden wheels
would suggest that the villagers both rode horses and drove waggons or

An incidental matter is of some little interest. How did the very
earliest horsemen--who, by the way, would ride barebacked--mount their
steeds? Stirrups, and perhaps even bridles, were, at the beginning of
the experiments, unknown. Four modes have been suggested as possible:
vaulting, vaulting with the help of a pole or spear, making the horse
crouch, and lastly, as in the old Persian fashion, stepping from a
slave’s back[1129].

That the Britons of Caesar’s day were expert equestrians and
charioteers, is sufficiently clear from the _Commentaries_[1130]. The
great general describes, with manifest admiration, the manner in which
the Britons, suddenly quitting their chariots, charged the Romans in an
unequal contest on foot (_ex essedis desilirent et pedibus dispari
proelio contenderent_)[1131]. More startling still was the amazing
trick, exhibited by the drivers of chariots, of running along the pole,
or standing upon the yoke, while the chariot was going at full speed.

While the Celts of Britain were pre-eminently noted for their fighting
by a combination of infantry and cavalry, some of the more Easterly
Aryan races were unaccustomed to the latter mode of warfare. Dr
Schrader, whose authority has already been invoked on the question of
the use of mare’s milk by tribes living on the Asiatic steppes, brings
out the contrast by a reference to the European Celts. These Celts built
waggons and chariots, and it seems probable, from a study of the Latin
vocabulary, that the Romans were dependent on the vanquished for the
manufacture of such objects. Dr Schrader cites, among other words,
_reda_, a mail-coach, and _carrus_, a waggon, which are derived from
Celtic sources[1132]. To Dr Schrader’s list may be added Caesar’s word
for chariot, _essedum_, and its synonym, employed by Tacitus,

Since it is not intended to trace here fully the story of the horse in
historic times, a short digression may be allowed in order to notice one
or two important details. That the Saxons practised horsemanship to some
extent is proved by Bede’s allusion to a party of young men trying the
speed of their horses on an open piece of ground[1134]. Much earlier, in
the reign of Alexander Severus, about A.D. 222, there is an authentic
record of horse-races, but these were probably held under Roman
patronage. Like records are known, referring to races at the Roman
stations of Netherby, Caerleon, Silchester, and Dorchester[1135]. King
Athelstan paid some attention to the breeding of horses, and imported
animals from Spain to improve the species[1136]. William of Malmesbury
describes a present sent to this monarch by Hugh the Great, Count of
Paris. A portion of the gift consisted of racehorses (_equos cursores_),
with their rich trappings (_cum phaleris_)[1137]. Again, William
Fitzstephen, writing in the twelfth century, supplies us with a spirited
and detailed account of an English horse-race[1138]. During the reigns
of John and Edward III. horse-breeding received further encouragement;
the latter king forbade the exportation of English horses. Henry VIII.
made various enactments with a like general purpose, but stress was
especially laid on the deterioration of breed due to promiscuous
crossing of strains. The pasturing of entire horses on the common lands
was therefore forbidden[1139]. Gradually the English cart-horse began
to be developed--to some extent, perhaps, from sires and dams of the old
war-horse type. By the time of Charles II., James II., and William of
Orange, marked changes became apparent[1140]. But there is no space at
present to pursue the subject. Else we might refer to the evolution of
the modern racehorse, and the rise of the bewildering breeds which one
sees to-day. In the next chapter, however, it will be shown by what
means the horse came to supplant the ox for work in the fields and on
the high roads.

A subsidiary matter must be lightly touched. Were the horses of
classical times provided with shoes? Much contradictory evidence has
been put forward in reply, and the case seems to depend upon the
periodical swing of ancient opinion and practice, neither of which moved
uniformly. At times, shoeing was entirely deprecated. Yet the feet of
Roman horses of the first century B.C. were often clad with coverings of
reeds or hemp (_soleae sparteae_), or, more rarely, with leather[1141].
These coverings constituted a sort of sandal, and it has been supposed
that their use was temporary, as is the case to-day with the leather
slippers worn by horses when drawing a mowing machine across a lawn.
Thin soles or shoes of iron were also used, being fixed, according to Mr
Basil Tozer, to the leather cap just described[1142]. Whether this were
the actual mode of attachment or not, we find Nero, in the first century
A.D., shoeing his mules with “soleae” of silver, instead of iron, while
his wife Poppaea, with the arrogance of wealth, used plates of gold for
a similar purpose[1143]. Professor Ridgeway supposes that the next
advance from the sole of metal would be to cut a piece out of the
middle, thus economizing material, and giving the horse a firmer
grip[1144]. This lies in the realm of conjecture, but of more direct
importance is Professor Ridgeway’s opinion that there is no reason to
doubt the Roman date of certain horseshoes found in France, seeing that
the associated objects pointed to that period[1145]. Horseshoes of
supposed Roman date are exhibited in various museums. Four specimens are
to be seen in the Guildhall Museum, London; one is sketched in Fig. 83

Richard Berenger (A.D. 1771), in his _History and Art of Horsemanship_,
states that a horseshoe was found in the tomb of Childeric I. of
France[1146] (d. A.D. 481). Berenger gives an illustration of the shoe,
copied from De Montfaucon; it has four nail-holes on each side, and
looks remarkably like the modern article. Mr Tozer asserts that iron
shoes came into regular use in the first half of the sixth century
(A.D.). Yet General Pitt-Rivers describes and figures horseshoes (Fig.
83 A, 83 B) which were found in the Romano-British settlements of
Woodyates and Woodcuts, in Cranborne Chase. He records other specimens,
and asserts that the people of that period shod their horses with
iron[1147]. Professor Ridgeway, while believing it improbable that the
Angles brought with them any particular shape of horseshoe[1148],
reproduces from the _Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society_
Professor T. McKenny Hughes’s


     FIG. 83. A, B. Portions of small horseshoes, much corroded, found
     by Pitt-Rivers in Cranborne Chase. The worn fragment, B, exhibits
     three holes, with T-shaped nails. There is a calkin at _k_, formed
     by turning up the lower surface of the shoe. C. Ancient horseshoe
     found by Mr E. C. Youens, at Edenbridge, Kent. The shoe, which is
     formed of wrought iron, is markedly concavo-convex, the convex
     surface being the lower one. The “wale-holes” are very near the
     edge. There is no raised rim. D. Side view of the same shoe. E.
     Small horseshoe, Guildhall Museum, London. Roman layer, City. The
     curve is sinuous, the holes are elliptical, and the calkins are
     well formed.

drawings of seven Old English shoes, two of which, the circular and the
split types, would appear to be rather primitive.

We need not linger over the allusion to horseshoes in Domesday Book. The
reference to the blacksmiths of Hereford, who were liable to be called
upon to make horseshoes for the king at a fixed rate, is well known to
most students.

The circular horseshoe, which has just been mentioned, and which is
occasionally dug up in the Fens, is still commonly employed in
Northumberland. Through the kindness of the Rev. Hastings M. Neville, of
Ford, Cornhill-on-Tweed, I am enabled to give illustrations of this form
of shoe (Figs. 84, 85). The shoe, which has been somewhat abraded by
wear, is markedly convex on the lower surface, and correspondingly
concave where it is fitted to the hoof. In this respect it resembles the
broad shoe (Fig. 83 C, D) of the ordinary outline, discovered in making
a main drainage trench at Edenbridge, Kent. This latter specimen is now
in the possession of Mr C. E. Youens, of Dartford, through whose
courtesy a sketch has been obtained. As in the Northumbrian example, the
“wale-holes” are very near the margin; but while the iron of the former
shoe is carried completely round to give support behind, the Edenbridge
specimen does not even possess calkins--that is, portions projecting
downward at the “heel.” The Edenbridge shoe appears to be Mediaeval, but
it may perhaps be Saxon, or even of earlier date. The specimen should be
compared with the Mediaeval examples in the Guildhall Museum.

The circular form of shoe, according to Mr James Weatherston, the
blacksmith at Duddo, near Norham, Northumberland, is advantageous to a
horse which has a weak “toe” or heel. This shape has been used from time
immemorial. Sometimes a leather sole, covering the whole foot, is placed
between the hoof and the circular shoe. Again, a detachable iron plate,
or “complete shoe,” is occasionally screwed on to the outside surface of
the round one, so that, by removing the plate, the horse’s foot can be
examined without interfering with the shoe. In this case, the leather
sole is omitted. The screws or “cogs” are square-headed, and project to
such a degree that the animal walks on them alone.


     FIG. 84. Round horseshoe, lower convex surface, from Ford,
     Northumberland. Greatest breadth 6½ inches.

[Illustration: FIG. 85. Round horseshoe, upper concave surface. Scale of
inches shown.]

The purpose of the convexity of the round shoe is to break the shock as
the horse’s foot strikes the ground. The efficacy of this shoe is
specially noticeable with “foundered” horses--those which have inflamed
feet. An animal, thus suffering, tends to tread more on the heel than
the toe, and the convexity allows a better grip to be obtained. Indeed,
the ordinary form of shoe is sometimes slightly bent for the same
reason. The Northumberland practice, with regard to “soles” and round
shoes, while now based on expert veterinary principles, seems to
represent a primitive plan. It is noteworthy that the round form of shoe
is especially prized as a bringer of luck. Obviously, it is the material
of the shoe--witch-hated iron--which is there considered important; all
folk-memory respecting the virtues of the crescentic shape has perished.
Youatt describes a shoe, under the name of the “bar-shoe,” which appears
roughly to correspond to the Northumberland type[1149]. The observant
person will occasionally see a London dray horse wearing a somewhat
similar kind of shoe, the difference being in the hinder portion, which
is either straight or slightly re-entering. This peculiar mode of
shoeing, in all cases, seems to be due to the advice of the veterinary
surgeon. It will be well, for anyone who wishes to pursue the subject,
to read the opinions of the authorities already given (pp. 423 n., 424

A slight digression may here be made to consider a kindred topic. Iron
objects of peculiar shape, commonly called hippo-sandals, have been
discovered in various places, notably by Pitt-Rivers, in the
Romano-British settlements in Cranborne Chase. Some authorities have
thought that the hippo-sandal represents a kind of horseshoe, but
Pitt-Rivers agrees with Fleming in scouting this theory. The shape, he
considers, would be inconvenient for this purpose. Moreover, horseshoes,
and--so it is believed--ox-shoes, are represented among the relics of
the settlements, so that another type of shoe, he argues, would scarcely
be found at the same spot. This objection is, as Mr C. Roach Smith has
hinted, not conclusive against the use of hippo-sandals for special
occasions. The suggestion was made by Pitt-Rivers that the hippo-sandals
were intended for shoeing the poles of sledges, and he figures a form of
that vehicle in which the shaft skids along the ground. In a footnote,
however, he betrays some uncertainty, and admits that specimens of
hippo-sandals which are displayed in the Museum at Mayence must have
been fitted to the feet of horses, probably as splints when the hoofs
had been accidently broken. The hippo-sandals, in those cases, would
doubtless be attached by cords or straps which passed through the iron
rings. Mr Roach Smith, writing in 1859, stated that iron pattens,
fastened to the hoof by means of leather straps, were still used in
Holland. This fact supplies, doubtless, the key to the puzzle. The
hippo-sandal shown in the illustration (Fig. 86) was discovered, along
with many other relics, at the Roman villa at Darenth, in Kent, and was
first figured by Mr George Payne, in _Archaeologia Cantiana_. About half
a dozen specimens are on view in the Guildhall Museum[1150]. In
connection with this subject it may be noted that Youatt, in his book on
_The Horse_, describes and illustrates a light kind of open-work sandal
for horses with delicate hoofs, made of strap-work and iron clips.

[Illustration: FIG. 86. Hippo-sandal, found on the site of a Roman
villa, at Darenth, Kent, and now in the Rochester Museum.]

A slight retrospect of the shoeing question will be made when we deal
with oxen, but we must now return to the British horsemen of the Early
Iron Age. At that period, so engrossing was the craft of the
chariot-warrior, that care was often taken to provide the dead chieftain
with the means of renewing his pastime elsewhere. Thus it was not
unusual to inter a horse, or chariot, or both of these, in the burial
mound. Keysler quotes numerous instances of the custom, chiefly with
respect to the ancient Scythian and Scandinavian peoples[1151]. Records
also implicate Tartars, Franks, Wends, and Finns as agents in like
ceremonies. A well-known passage in Virgil seems to show that the
practice obtained in classical times. Aeneas, on his descent into the
lower regions, views with wonder the empty chariots of the chiefs, and
the horses feeding at large on the plain. The heroes retained their old
fondness for chariots and shining steeds[1152], and these necessaries
had evidently been deposited in the earth at the time of the funeral.

The English records of chariot-burial are fairly numerous. The Rev. E.
W. Stillingfleet (c. A.D. 1816), and Canon W. Greenwell (A.D. 1876),
excavated several round barrows at a farm called Arras, near Market
Weighton, in Yorkshire, and discovered therein remains of horses,
chariots, and harness. Associated with these mute memorials, there was
found, in one instance, a boar’s tusk, which had been invested with some
ceremonial value, since it was perforated with a square hole, and was
mounted in a brazen case. Interments of this class belong usually to the
Late-Celtic period. A small urn, of unspecified age, dug up near
Eastbourne in 1778, contained about a dozen horse’s teeth. Mr J. Romilly
Allen compiled a considerable list of instances of chariot-burial. Many
others are given in the _Guide to the Early Iron Age_ (British Museum),
as well as in the writings of Messrs L. Jewitt and J. R. Mortimer. So
recently as 1906, a chariot-burial was discovered at Hunmanby,
in Yorkshire, and was described by Canon Green well in
_Archaeologia_[1153]. The “trappings” found in connection with the other
remains comprised bridle-bits, buckles, head-ornaments, and similar

One of the Wold barrows, which was opened by Canon Greenwell, contained
a whole chariot and the bones of two horses, placed alongside a human
skeleton. In another mound the wheels alone had been buried[1154]. A
third grave yielded wheels and an iron bit[1155]. Similar discoveries
were made at Nanterre, in France; horses were found entombed with
portions of their trappings, together with tires of wheels, and various
bronze and iron objects, evidently betokening a Transitional
period[1156]. In all the foregoing cases we must suppose that the horse
was sacrificed at its master’s funeral--the coincidence of natural or of
violent death must have been exceedingly uncommon save in warfare. The
custom of chariot-burial persisted for centuries into the Christian era,
and an assemblage of relics, kindred to those mentioned, is common in
Scandinavian graves of the Viking Age (A.D. 700-1000), wherein unburnt
bodies were interred[1157]. Again, an Anglo-Saxon grave at Reading was
shown to contain the skeleton of a horse, human bones, and a sword
remarkably rich in its ornament[1158]. At a still later date, A.D. 1389,
when Bertrand Duguesclin was buried at St Denis, several horses, which
had been previously blessed by the Bishop of Auxerre, were sacrificed,
or, as one account says, compounded for by the owners.

Were we ignorant of the foregoing facts, certain modern practices of an
analogous nature would have to be dismissed as inexplicable. Once
acquainted with the ancient instances, however, the student can account
for the atavism which here and there betrays itself. We cannot, of
course, in the absence of overlapping evidence, be certain that the
burial of the horse along with its master is a custom which has never
died out. There may have been a continuous bond of tradition, or again,
folk-memory may have lain almost dormant for centuries, to be
unconsciously revived at a later time. A few instances will now be
rapidly surveyed.

A surgeon, one Mr Thomas Sheffield, dying in 1798, at Downton, in
Wiltshire, left instructions that he should be interred in his garden,
and that, when his favourite horse should die, it was to be laid by his
side. Mr Sheffield was buried as he desired, but in 1807 his body was
removed to the village churchyard[1159]. We are left to infer that the
horse was placed in its master’s grave, as was undoubtedly done in the
case, quoted by Southey, in which a man of Salisbury, “in derision of
religion,” commanded that his horse should be slaughtered and buried
with him[1160]. Again, so recently as 1866, when Queen Victoria’s
huntsman died, his favourite horse was shot, and its ears were placed in
his coffin and buried in his grave in Sunninghill churchyard,
Berkshire[1161]. Parenthetically, we notice that, in Patagonia, the
horse of a deceased person is still killed at the grave[1162]. Such
incidents as these do not seem to be far removed in time from the days
of barrow burial. Not quite so apposite is the case of Wellington’s
horse, Copenhagen, which was buried (A.D. 1836) with full military
honours at Strathfieldsaye (Hampshire), and which was commemorated by a
tombstone bearing an appropriate inscription and epitaph. In thus
honouring his charger, however, the Duke had a prototype in the Emperor
Augustus, who, as Pliny relates, erected a tomb to his horse, on which
occasion Germanicus Caesar wrote a poem[1163]. Turn the facts which way
we will, they seem to tell of an ingrained instinct which unexpectedly
reveals itself to the surprise of the majority of folk--surprise,
nevertheless, which speedily becomes tinged with sympathy.

Not so distinctly a reversion, but still probably a custom derived from
primitive observances, was the Mediaeval ceremony, when a great person
was buried, of leading his horse before the body and presenting the
animal to the ecclesiastical authorities as an obituary due[1164]. Such
legacies were very common, so that a single example will suffice. At the
obsequies of Henry V., three war-steeds were led to the altar, and were
there formally bequeathed to the Church[1165]. It will be fresh in the
memory of all, how, at the funeral of King Edward VII., that monarch’s
favourite horse was led by a groom behind the body of his late master.

In considering how far these lingering customs may represent real
survivals, it will be of some assistance to collect examples showing to
what extent the horse cult was observed in the ceremonial routine of the
ancient Celts and Teutons. In the first place, we are struck by the
respect which was paid to white horses in particular. Tacitus, in a
familiar passage, asserts that the German tribes kept milk-white horses
in consecrated woods and groves[1166]. From these horses, which were
never degraded by being put to any kind of labour, warnings and auguries
were received by the priestly caste. Grimm tells us that there existed,
at Drontheim, temples in which sacred horses were kept and fed[1167].
Other peoples have betrayed a similar affection for the white horse.
Such animals, Virgil relates, are not usually put to work, since they
are beloved of the gods; it is criminal to kill or wound them, except
for sacrifice. Herodotus describes how the sacred white horses of the
Persians were drowned when Cyrus was endeavouring to cross the river
Gyndes[1168]. The same writer states that, in his day, Russia teemed
with white horses[1169]. White was pre-eminently the noble colour. In
the Apocalypse, a white horse is symbolical of victory and
triumph[1170]. This idea is also common among classical writers[1171].
The figure of a white horse appeared on the Standard of the Saxons, and
later, in the arms of Saxony and the House of Brunswick. In our day, a
white horse constitutes the Kentish emblem, and is popular as a tavern
sign. The celebrated “White Horse” carved on the Chalk downs near
Uffington, Berkshire, and its fellow, incised on Bratton Hill, near
Westbury, Wiltshire, though usually believed to commemorate victories
over the Danes, are more probably to be referred to the Late Bronze, or
Early Iron Age. In each case, the neighbouring country abounds with
prehistoric remains--earthworks, barrows, and trackways[1172]. Certain
details of the carvings, such as the bird-like head of the Uffington
Horse, and the crescentic tail of the original, but now destroyed,
“Horse” of Bratton, have been compared with corresponding features on
early British coins[1173]. These coins were probably debased
representations of the gold stater of Philip II. of Macedon. In modern
times, other intaglios have been cut on our hillsides; these, while
reviving the practice, have introduced breeds of horses unknown to the
Britons. This seems a fitting place to observe that we have some
indication of horse figures in Late-Celtic ornament. On a Late-Celtic
bucket (_c._ first century B.C.) unearthed near Marlborough, in 1807,
and enclosing burnt human bones, curious representations of the horse
were carved[1174]. Belonging to about the same period are the queer
horse-like figures depicted on a bronze-mounted wooden bucket, coming
from the Late-Celtic cemetery of Aylesford, Kent[1175]. And, to conclude
this section of our subject, we will note that the Anglo-Saxon tumulus
in Taplow churchyard, Bucks. (cf. p. 81 _supra_), yielded portions of a
bucket decorated with horseshoe symbols[1176]. We find representations
of supposed horses appearing later on church fonts; the celebrated
eleventh-century font of Burnsall, in Wharfedale, will serve as an

Our discussion of the white horse has carried us far afield, and may
have momentarily masked the general question. Not white horses alone
were used in sacrifice and divination. The sacrifice of any horse was a
most solemn event, attended with much ceremony, alike among Persians and
Indians, among Teutons, Finns and Slavs[1178]. In auguries, too, the
animal bore an honoured part. The Greeks, Strabo informs us, deemed the
neighing of a horse an omen of good[1179]. In Germany, divinations by
means of the horse lasted till the seventh century, for, when St Gall

[Illustration: FIG. 87. Capturing the White Horse. In this scene the
artist depicts an imaginary incident in connection with the legend of
the “White Horse of Kent.” The animal, which is of a rather idealized
strain, has broken the cords of the captors, and remains “Invictus.”]

unbroken horses were charged with the burden of his coffin, and to their
decision was entrusted the choice of a burial-place[1180]. In Denmark,
horse-sacrifices lingered until the early part of the eleventh century;
a specific instance is given by Keysler, on the authority of the
historian Dithmar, who was the Bishop of Mersburg, or Merseburg, and who
died A.D. 1028. Dithmar relates that the Danes were wont to celebrate
the Feast of the Epiphany by sacrificing ninety human victims, together
with an equal number of dogs and cocks, in order to appease the infernal
deities[1181]. The custom indicates a not infrequent kind of early
compromise. Kemble states that, although bulls are known to have been
used for divination in England, he knows of no allusion to augury by
means of horses[1182]. A few faint traces, however, suggestive of the
horse cult, may be detected. There is, for example, that curious story,
told by Bede, how the priest Coifi rode on a stallion when he went to
destroy the images in the heathen temple at Godmundingham (now
Goodmanham) in Yorkshire[1183] (cf. p. 32 _supra_). As Bede’s narrative
runs its length, we learn that a high priest among the pagan Saxons
might lawfully ride only on a mare[1184], and one is inclined to
speculate whether any of the idols took the form of this animal. We know
that the stallion was the most honoured among horses[1185], and it is
expressly stated that, when Coifi borrowed the king’s stallion, he did
so in contempt of his former superstitions. The change of steed, at any
rate, coincided with an onslaught upon established custom, and we shall
see later that the priestly rule about riding mares only was abandoned.
Another vestige of the horse cult was the belief, common among Teutonic
peoples, that the last wisp of corn in the harvest field was inhabited
by the sacred horse. For this reason, a horse, representing the
corn-god, was customarily slaughtered, and eaten with special rites by
the reapers at the harvest supper. Professor Frazer describes some
quaint harvest customs, prevalent in Hertfordshire and Shropshire, which
furnish examples of the corn-spirit, appearing in the shape of a horse
or mare. And, again, in his recent work, _Totemism and Exogamy_, he
records the Red Indian practice of sacrificing costly horses to appease
the “medicine” or corn-spirit[1186].

Underlying such observances as those which have been described, there is
an idea which gives a clue to a much-discussed problem. Folk of our
generation are continually asking why the flesh of such a clean-feeding
animal as the horse--a true vegetarian--should be despised as food. The
question is not indeed altogether of recent date, for it was propounded
in A.D. 1720 by Keysler, who reviews the subject at some length[1187].
He contends that the stringent prohibition must not be credited to the
influence of the Mosaic Law; first, because no flesh, in itself, was
deemed unclean for the saints, and secondly, because other articles of
the ceremonial law had already at various times been abandoned with
impunity[1188]. The rejection of horseflesh for food, Keysler concludes,
was due to the Christian teachers, who found our pagan ancestors
employing the animal in sacrifices and auguries, and eating its flesh in
the subsequent repasts; hence, as a mark of disapprobation, this kind of
food was forbidden to converts. The results, it is urged by the old
antiquary, have been deplorable, more especially, because there is no
law of Christ which prescribes this rule of conduct (_Christi certe lex
nulla exstat, quae eum agendi modum praescribat_)[1189].

These propositions, in the main, seem undeniable. We have seen that the
Palaeolithic cave-man ate horseflesh freely, and that the Britons of the
Round Barrow Period were probably addicted to a like custom. There is
little doubt, again, that throughout Roman Britain horseflesh was a
common article of food. This is attested by the frequency of the
occurrence of broken bones of the horse in the “Brit-Welsh” caves of the
Iron Age[1190]. Corroboration of Keysler’s theory is afforded by
historical facts. Pope Gregory III. (ruled A.D. 731-741), in a letter to
St Boniface, the Apostle of Germany, forbade the eating of the flesh of
wild horses as an unclean and execrable act[1191]. Yet at a somewhat
earlier date, Gregory II., when consulted on the same perplexing
subject, had sent a temporizing answer, shielding himself behind the
famous passage in the Epistle to the Corinthians respecting meat offered
to idols[1192]. So long as the new faith held its converts insecurely,
and wherever Christianity was merely nominal, the frontier line of
authority alternatively advanced and receded. Nearly half a century
after the death of Gregory III., at the Council of Celchyth (A.D. 787),
the consumption of horseflesh was noted as a stain on the character of
the British Christians; their fellow-believers in the East were not
guilty of such a sin (_quod nullus Christianorum in orientalibus
facit_)[1193]. Yet the monks of St Gall not only ate horse-flesh, but
returned thanks for it in the metrical grace, written by the monk
Ekkehard III. (died _c._ A.D. 1036): “_Sit feralis equi caro dulcis sub
cruce Christi_.” Elsewhere, too, the habit seemed incurable. The
Norwegians, apparently in paying devotional honour to Odin, still ate
the forbidden food during the eleventh and twelfth centuries[1194]. The
growth of superstition tended to strengthen the Christian ban against
horseflesh. This food was the reputed diet of giants and witches[1195];
its preparation was associated with sacrifices; it was eaten with
hallowed salt. The sacrifices, in turn, were connected with popular
assemblies or folk-moots[1196]. Now witches and trolls were supposed to
live under mounds. Inside these mounds they held their dances, and
played on pipes made of horse bones[1197]. The hillocks were, as a rule,
actually barrows, the burial-places of bygone peoples, and the folk who
had once raised them probably not only ate horseflesh ceremonially, but
regarded it as welcome fare in times of dearth and scarcity. Successors
of the mound builders continued to partake of horseflesh, and coupled
the act with the worship of Odin. The ecclesiastical decrees were thus
primarily directed against the pagan practice, but, because of
superstition, the ban remained when its original necessity had passed

L’Abbé Valentin Dufour, who in the year 1868 translated and edited
Keysler’s valuable chapter on the eating of horseflesh, adds a few facts
which bring the story down to modern times. He tells us that the sale of
horseflesh was forbidden in Paris in A.D. 1739, no reason being assigned
for the prohibition. When, however, in A.D. 1784, a similar promulgation
was issued, the ostensible motive was to prevent disease--there were
certain maladies “_que l’usage de pareilles chairs ne pouvait manquer
d’occasionner_[1198].” Since considerable importance was also attached
to the assumed novelty of eating horseflesh, Dufour is at some pains to
show that slaughter-houses (_boucheries_, _écorcheries_) existed, and
that the forbidden flesh was vended, during the early part of the
fifteenth century[1199]. Statutes continued to be passed against the use
of horseflesh in France, until, in the early nineteenth century (1814,
1816, 1817), the commodity was allowed to be sold by certain persons who
had secured the special privilege[1200]. Scarcity of food was doubtless
a factor in bringing about a relaxation. By some writers it is supposed
that the revulsion of feeling dates from the siege of Copenhagen (A.D.
1807), when the Danes ate horseflesh from necessity, and that the habit
gradually spread all over Europe[1201]. This may be true in the general
sense, but, archaeologically considered, one may doubt whether the
practice had ever been really quite extinct.

The old pre-Christian veneration of the horse probably touches the
groundwork of much of the folk-lore about the animal. Professor A. de
Gubernatis, in his work on _Zoological Mythology_, deals fully with
horse legends as exemplified in the Vedic, Greek, and Latin literatures,
and particularly with the horse as the favourite animal of the solar
hero[1202]. It is common, in ancient art, to find symbols of sun-worship
associated either with the horse or the chariot, or with both. All that
can be done in this place is to supply the reference. One old story may,
nevertheless, be noted: that which tells how the Emperor Caligula spoke
of raising his horse to the consulship. The usual explanation attributes
the remark to a passing caprice, but another interpretation is
conceivable. May it not be that Caligula intended the observation as a
compliment to British and Gallic opinions concerning the sanctity of
selected horses, opinions with which he must have been well acquainted?

We retrace our steps a little. Evidence seems to show that when the
early Palaeolithic cave-men hunted the horse, they were accustomed to
carry into their shelters only the fleshy parts of the carcass, together
with the head of the animal, and--for ornamental purposes--the valuable
tail. The long bones, which were crushed to obtain the marrow, do not
appear, as a rule, to have been taken into the caves[1203]. Light may
be cast on the anomalous separation of flesh and bones by a study of
ancient Egyptian custom as described by Herodotus. This writer states
that imprecations were heaped on the head of the sacrificial victim, so
that any impending evil might fall thereon; the Egyptians, in
consequence, would never eat the head of any animal[1204]. Strict taboo,
as imposed among common folk, is not inconsistent with ceremonial eating
by privileged individuals, and numerous instances might be given in
support of this antinomy of custom. Merely as a speculation, it might be
suggested that the head of the victim was at one time a delicate morsel
reserved for the chieftain. In the caves of the Neolithic and Bronze
Ages, the skull does not seem to be of common occurrence, but in the
early historic period, as shown by folklore, we catch echoes of its
legendary repute. Tacitus relates that the ancient German tribes hung
the heads of animals on trees as offerings to Odin. In Teutonic fairy
tales, the horse’s head works miracles, especially when played upon as
an instrument[1205]. It was thrown by witches into the Midsummer
fire[1206]--a notable collocation of details. Russian magic teaches that
ambrosia comes out of a horse’s head, and enables its possessor to do
deeds of prowess. By virtue of this ambrosia one hero discomfited
ninety-nine hostile monsters[1207]. In parts of Germany, horses’ heads
were buried in stables; in Holland, they were hung over pigstyes; in
Mecklenburg, they were placed under a sick man’s pillow[1208]. Again, in
Lower Saxony, horses’ heads, projecting outwards, were carved on the
gables of buildings, ostensibly for ornament, but in reality, it is
probable, to prevent mischief to the horses kept within. A similar
practice was observed by the builders of the older houses in
Rhaetia[1209]. In modern Norway, the handles of bowls, and the ends of
the wooden lever by which the primitive mangles are worked, are often
formed of carved horse-heads. Numerous examples may be seen in the
Horniman Museum, London. Specimens are said to have been met with in
English houses also. Some authorities considered that the figures
represented a Celtic legacy, but Grimm claims that the custom of carving
these images, like that of horse-worship generally, belongs “equally to
Celts, Teutons, and Slavs[1210].” The domain might be much extended.
Even in our own day (1865), such carvings as those described have been
recorded from Jutland. They were once common, it is stated, in Sussex,
and Miss M. Braitmaier has figured a series of modern gable ornaments
from different parts of Germany[1211]. When someone asked the meaning of
the horses’ heads on the Jutish gables, the natives answered, “Oh, they
are Hengist and Horsa[1212].” (Note that the name Hengist = a stallion,
and Horsa = a mare.) Whether or not Hengist and Horsa were historical
personages may be left in abeyance, the fact remains that they were
sometimes represented by horses’ heads carried in front of the army as
tutelary deities.

In certain parts of England, notably in Kent, there still survives the
custom of a group of men going round at Christmas carrying a horse’s
head, crudely carved in wood, and known as the “hoodening horse.”
Sometimes, it would appear, a skull long buried in the soil, and
afterwards dug up by chance, formed the “wooser,” “wooset,” or
“husset[1213].” Mr P. Maylam, who has carefully collated the records of
analogous customs from both England and Germany, considers that the word
“hoodening” is not, as popularly supposed, derived either from the Norse
word Odin or the Low German form Woden. He prefers to connect it with
those old performances in which the hobby horse and characters
representing Robin Hood and Maid Marian were prominent. A writer in the
_Athenaeum_ ridicules this idea, and prosaically refers the name to the
hood or sack which concealed the supposed body of the horse--really the
body of the hoodener, or performer[1214]. Yes, but why should the
horse, hooded or otherwise, enter into the ceremonies at all? It is easy
to deride the early school, of which Grimm is a representative, as
old-fashioned and full of extravagances. But we have to face a series of
converging customs, which were not begotten of a complex society like
that of modern or even Mediaeval England. Only by an appeal to some
primitive form of the horse cult can an ultimate solution be really

Standing in close relationship to the “hoodening horse” custom, is a
somewhat weird Welsh practice, which is now nearly extinct, but which
some enthusiasts have lately attempted to revive. A horse’s skull is
dressed up and carried about by a performer who is enveloped in a cloak.
He makes the jaws of the skull snap to the accompaniment of Welsh
rhymes. Houses are visited, and largesse is demanded. The performance,
known colloquially as Mari Lwyd, is traced by some to pre-Reformation
usage. But doubtless, it goes back, like the “hoodening horse,” of
which, perhaps, it is a mere variant, to pagan times[1215].

Virgil relates a curious tradition which bears on our subject. As the
Carthaginians were digging near a venerable wood, they dug up a horse’s
skull--a “courser’s head,” as the phrase runs in Dryden’s translation,
and this discovery was accounted such a prosperous omen that a temple
was raised to Juno on that spot[1216]. Professor Conington, garnering
his knowledge from several classical writers, gives us the additional
information that the head of an ox was first lighted upon, and that this
was thought to portend servitude, but after further excavation, the
horse’s head appeared--an earnest of plenty, combined with success in
war[1217]. From Vishnu mythology comes a contradictory item, for, in
that system, the mouth of hell is conceived as a huge horse head[1218].

Before quitting this department of folk-lore, we may scan the wider
field of skull superstitions in general. A fox’s head, nailed to a
Scotch stable door, was supposed to keep off the dreaded witch. I
noticed an instance of this custom at Rottingdean, near Brighton, in
1908, but cannot be sure that any significance was attached to the fox’s
head[1219]. Why, again, does the gamekeeper suspend rows of weasels,
stoats, cats, magpies, and jays on his gibbet? Certainly he does this,
in the first place, to prove his zealous stewardship, and perhaps with
some dimly conscious belief that similar “evil-doers” will take warning.
But from observation of other curious practices, scarcely to be
discussed here, one suspects that the origin was ceremonial. We must
also remember cases like that described by Mr Baring-Gould, who once
saw, hanging on a magnificent elm at Westmeston, under Ditchling Beacon,
in Sussex, the carcasses of two horses and three calves. The reason
offered for this custom was that the suspension of the bodies was lucky
for cattle. Keeping, however, to a consideration of heads, we notice
that Sir G. L. Gomme records a peculiar instance from Hornchurch, in
Essex, where the lessee of the tithes used to pay, as a Christmas
tribute, a boar’s head. This payment could not depend upon the intrinsic
value of the toll, nor could the destruction of a single boar be counted
meritorious in itself. The tribute was obviously symbolical. Camden
relates that a stag was formerly paid as part of the rent of Church
lands situated in Essex. He adds that, when he was a boy, namely, in the
third quarter of the sixteenth century, the priests of St Paul’s
Cathedral were accustomed to meet the stag as it was brought up the
steps of the sacred building. The animal’s head was then carried on a
spear round the cathedral, which echoed meanwhile to the sound of horns.
Of this curious ceremony, the young antiquary was an eye-witness[1220].

From a review of these facts, we may deduce that the head of a
slaughtered animal bore an imputed sanctity. This was essentially the
case when the animal had been offered in sacrifice, and it is to pagan
and prehistoric ritual that we must look for an interpretation of the
facts. The species of animal esteemed most sacred would vary with the
time and the place--here, the horse, there, the ox. Later days brought
other competitors for the position of honour. Only by keeping well in
mind the widespread belief in the efficacy of skulls, are we enabled to
understand another series of records, which we now proceed to summarize.

More than half a century ago, when the chancel of St Botolph’s church,
Boston, was being rebuilt, a quantity of horses’ bones and the jaw-bones
of sheep were found under the floor[1221]. Again, we have seen that, on
the site of the present St Paul’s Cathedral, a deposit of bones of oxen
and other animals was discovered indicating a pagan site[1222] (cf. p.
83 _supra_). Secular buildings have also yielded horse remains. In 1895,
when Colonel Stanley Scott was taking up the ground floor of a house in
North Devon, he discovered, laid in order and well preserved, the skulls
of eight horses and ten bullocks[1223]. In Wharfedale, again, under the
floor of a house, probably from two to three hundred years old, the
workmen took up the skulls of seven horses and a cow[1224]. With these
discoveries one naturally associates the Dutch and German customs
already mentioned (p. 440 _supra_). And, of course, the primitive idea
must be connected with that which underlies foundation sacrifices,
although complication arises from the unique merit attached to skulls.
The foundation sacrifice is widely prevalent, but the burial of skulls
is a more specialized custom.

It will be noticed that, of the last two examples, one is recent, and
the other comparatively recent, therefore any folk-memory associated
with the deposition of the skulls was probably defective. According to
popular belief in Ireland, the skulls which are nowadays placed under
buildings are intended to “cause an echo.” Just as a public building
has, or has not, a horses skull buried beneath it, so will it be good or
bad for the purpose of hearing. A certain field which possessed a good
echo was commonly believed to have a horse interred in it; the tradition
was sound, but it is not known whether the horse was buried for that
purpose[1225]. Why, it may be pertinently asked, does a field need a
good echo?

On broad grounds, it is sufficiently obvious that the sacrificial idea
preceded the economic, yet there must have been a period of overlapping.
For not only was some variation of the custom observed, as we shall see,
by Mediaeval church builders, but the practice was kept up until our own
days. Noticeably has this been the case in the Scottish Presbyterian
Church[1226]. When the old Bristol Street meeting-house, in Edinburgh,
was being demolished a century ago, eight horse skulls were found
concealed in the sounding-board of the pulpit[1227]. Less than half a
century back, the same class of object was put under an organ in a
parish church in the province of Munster to increase the effect of the

The modern theory of the acoustic purpose of the skulls fades as we
trace the custom to more remote times. A small chamber in the belfry of
Elsdon church, Northumberland, appeared to have been built specially to
contain three horse skulls, which had lain piled against each other for
hundreds of years[1229]. The masons of old time doubtless imagined that
the skulls would make the tones of the bells more resonant, but, “lulled
in the countless chambers of the brain” there must have been
almost-forgotten memories of these traditional talismans. These sacred
and oracular heads, there can be little question, were built into
heathen temples before the dawn of history, and the habit was passed on
from one generation to another[1230]. Does this theory seem far-fetched?
Consider the conditions at Elsdon. Here is a district teeming with
earthworks and other British and Roman remains. The population is
scanty, the moorland wild and pathless; there was, until recently,
little inter-communication among the scattered folk. Hereditary custom
held firm sway. Such was the preference for burial in Elsdon
churchyard, that corpses were carried many miles over the moors for
interment. Yet pagan customs were rife. Well-worship was carried on here
until our own times, and not many decades have passed since cattle were
driven through the Midsummer bonfires to ward off disease. How much
stronger was superstition when the village church of Elsdon was first
built! There must have been dark, undisturbed depths of paganism in the
lives of the countryfolk. We really know little of the true beliefs of
the Mediaeval peasant, as recorded by himself. Even our information
about the faiths held by the official classes, though somewhat exiguous,
reveals a basis of gross superstition. The gap between the twentieth
century and the sixteenth is almost immeasurable as compared with that
between the sixteenth century and the Neolithic period.

Let us halt, to draw a comparison from Brittany. Who, in the absence of
direct evidence, would have imagined that, in our own generation, a
people, nominally Christian, could have been found to set out dishes of
cream for the dead on All Souls’ Eve, to employ grave-earth for the cure
of fevers, to pour out milk on tombs as a libation, to anoint menhirs
with oil and honey, to scatter the ashes of the festival fires over the
fields to ensure a fat harvest? Yet all these customs have been
practised by the Bretons in recent times. Well-worship, the blessing of
oxen at Carnac, the ghastly reverence paid to images personifying Death,
and all such rites, we pass by, as being everywhere somewhat persistent.
The parallel which I wish to draw is between the Mediaeval Englishman
and the more modern Breton. Could we turn back and thoroughly understand
the pages of history, I am convinced that even the seventeenth century
peasant of the English Cornwall, for example, would be found quite as
superstitious as the nineteenth century peasant of the French Cornwall.
What is true of Cornwall, holds good for the Highlands of Scotland, for
Ireland and Wales, and, in a lesser degree, for the whole of rural

To return: the acoustic idea had its birth so far back as Roman times at
least, though at that period it was associated with the use of sounding
jars. Probably horse skulls were still buried sacrificially, but the
purpose was being forgotten. The belief in the efficacy of horse skulls
as reverberators seems to have been derived from the employment of these
jars, at a rather later time when the sacramental idea concerning skulls
was obsolete. About the jars themselves there has been a vast
controversy, which, even at the risk of being discursive, we must
briefly notice.

To take a Roman example first: along the seats of the Coliseum there was
a peculiar arrangement of horizontal pots, which Sir E. Beckett (Lord
Grimthorpe) believed were intended to augment the sound. As a result of
experiment, this authority found that the vessels acted much in the same
way as would a series of short, wide tubes, if presented to a
hemispherical bell when this was struck[1231]. Vitruvius mentions brazen
vessels, perhaps comparable to the gong or kettle-drum, as being in use
in Roman theatres. Some writers have thought that the purpose was to
make the voices of the actors more distinct, others consider that the
vessels were accessories in the imitation of thunder.

Coming to Mediaeval times, we find that the church of the Celestins at
Metz was furnished (A.D. 1439) with jars, expressly to improve the
chanting, but it is affirmed that experience showed them to be useless.
Mr Gordon M. Hills, in a valuable paper on this subject, says that the
jars were “a great disfigurement to the building, the marvel of all
beholders, and the jest of fools[1232].” There are other Continental
records of acoustic jars from Strasburg, Angers, Paris, and other
places. L’Abbé Cochet discovered numerous specimens in the churches of
Upper Normandy, together with “cornets” of baked earth in the church of
St Blaise, at Arles. Illustrations of some of these are given in
Cochet’s paper in the _Gentleman’s Magazine_[1233], and the statement is
made that similar “cornets” are found in the interior walls and vaults
of many churches in Sweden, Denmark, and Russia[1234]. Didron, after
referring to specimens from the two first-named countries, and to those
discovered at Arles and Metz, decides against the acoustic
hypothesis: “_Ce mode [d’acoustique] me semblait aussi puéril
qu’inefficace_[1235].” And, seeing that the men of the Middle Ages made
bells and organs so commonly, why, he asks, are not the sounding
“poteries” of more frequent occurrence[1236]?

In England, notable finds of jars are on record, though the number of
churches concerned is but a trivial percentage of the whole. At St
Clement’s, Sandwich, the jars were built into the walls of the chancel,
overlooking the altar[1237]. At Barkway, Hertfordshire, they were
likewise embedded in the chancel wall, but on the floor level[1238].
They are also found in the thickness of the wall, a few inches below the
floor level, as at Fountains Abbey, where they had been placed at the
base of the old choir screen. The Fountains vases lay on their sides,
and both in and around them there was an abundance of charcoal. The
charcoal, it is conjectured, may have had no more mysterious origin than
a fire which occurred at the Dissolution[1239]. Jars, supposed to be of
Romano-British make, were found on the top of the chancel wall at East
Harling, Norfolk; in each case the mouth of the jar faced the interior
of the chancel. For a long time a coating of lath and plaster had
concealed these curiosities[1240], and one is led to wonder whether
other jars may not, even now, lie hidden elsewhere. The gables of
Newington church, Kent, yielded three jars. Other records come from
Fairwell (Staffs.), Denford (Northants.), St Peter’s Mancroft and St
Peter-per-Mountergate in Norwich, Upton, near Newark, and from Youghal,
in Ireland[1241]. But the greatest collection of all was uncovered at
the village church of Leeds, near Maidstone, in 1878. Altogether, about
fifty earthenware pots were revealed. They were found on the top of each
wall of the nave, below the wall plate. The walls and oaken roof
belonged to the fifteenth century. The best judges at first declared
that the vessels were of Romano-British manufacture, and dated a
thousand years earlier than the fabric. This would seem to indicate
that a series of urns had been discovered in the neighbourhood, and
pressed into service by the Mediaeval masons. Later expert opinion,
however, declares that the jars, though possessing some Celtic
characteristics, are of Mediaeval date. The bodies of the jars were
cylindrical, and about 8 or 9 inches in diameter, while the mouths
narrowed to 3 or 4 inches. The height averaged 10-12 inches. The bottom
of each jar was convex and perforated. Mr Hills calls attention to some
perplexing general considerations. The jars are of any form and every
form, they are old and new, they are placed, as if at hazard, from the
floor to the roof. He therefore concludes that the intentions were
several, although he does not himself suggest any other purpose to
supplement the acoustic theory[1242]. In such a matter as this,
difference of purpose, variety in underlying belief, changeable custom
according to locality, confused folk-memory and tradition, need cause
the antiquary no surprise. The prime motive having vanished, the custom
is bereft of its full meaning, and the course of development runs along
divergent rather than parallel lines. Two other discoveries which seem
to favour the acoustic theory may be given--those at Ashburton, in Devon
(1838), and Luppitt, also in Devon (1880). The Ashburton jars (Fig. 88
A), though convex at the base, and exhibiting chevron ornament, are
assigned not to the Late-Celtic period, but to the close of the
fourteenth or the beginning of the fifteenth century. The jars from
Luppitt (Fig. 88 B) are comparable to those found at Leeds. They were
apparently made especially for insertion in a wall, as they are
flattened a little in one portion. They probably belong to the fifteenth

This question of “acoustic jars” has been dilated upon because it seems
to involve an indirect derivative of the skull superstition, and one is
induced to outline the story, however roughly and tentatively. We start
with a period when the horse cult is rife, and when solemnity is the
note of the priest and soothsayer. At a later date, a horse, or among
some peoples, an

[Illustration: FIG. 88. Acoustic jars.

     A. Skittle-shaped specimen from Ashburton church, Devon. The jar is
     grey, and highly burnt. _a_, _b_, are yellow bands, on which are
     incised chevrons.

     B. Small jar (6´´ × 4½´´) from Luppitt, Devonshire. It has some of
     the characteristics of Celtic pottery, but probably belongs to the
     fifteenth century.

_Jour. Archaeol. Assoc._ XXXVIII. p. 220.

ox, is slain and buried under the foundations of the pagan temple. By
and by, the skull, representing the most mysterious and sacred part of
the animal, is considered to be sufficient by itself. Instead of being
uniformly hidden under the building, it is built into the wall or placed
in a specially constructed recess. The depositories are not confined to
one part of the building. At a later date, a purely practical
interpretation is assigned to the skulls. Secular architects, or
architects not versed in the mystic lore of their heathen fathers,
become prone to substitute an urn or a jar for the skull. The early
Christians, adapting, it may be, the old pagan site, and actuated either
by necessity or diplomacy, at times prudently permit the old rite and
custom. The two practices run side by side, but the motive is weak, and
ultimately becomes debatable. Then springs up the explanation that
skulls and jars alike are used to produce sonorous beauty, and on this
our modern theory is based. Nevertheless, these perversions of the
original purpose have not been everywhere co-eval; we have seen, for
example, that the architects of the Coliseum had reached the structural
stage of the idea, and evidently turned the principle to good account.

Folk-memory weakens according to the degree of civilization and in
response to outside influences. As, on the one hand, the imperfectly
hollow horse skull is supplanted by jars, vases, and urns; so, on the
other, an ox-skull becomes a mere ornament on the frieze of a Roman
Doric building. Again, certain builders, apparently misled by the
earthenware vessels, and connecting them with traditions or actual
experiences of urn-burial, employ a modification of such vessels as pure
ornament. The story has several parts. The mingling of the symbolic and
the utilitarian idea is difficult to unravel, hence there is room for
much speculation, and need for some suspension of final judgement.



    “Two such I saw, what time the labour’d ox
     In his loose traces from the furrow came,
     And the swink’t hedger at his supper sate.”
              _Comus_, ll. 291-3.

An easy-going reader, with no taste for agricultural inquiries, might
admire the above picturesque lines and then pass on, counting as a
trifle what is really a most important feature of early social
history--the use of the ox as a beast of draught. Let us pursue the
question a little, for, although the spectacle described was apparently
commonplace to the poet, yet, to us, a ploughing ox is undoubtedly a
rarity. Some two or three teams in Sussex, perchance a similar number in
Dorset, and, it may be, an odd team in the West Country, seem to
complete the census of working oxen.

By means of personal investigations made in various counties, and by the
collection of scattered particulars given in certain periodicals, I have
endeavoured to determine at what dates the bullock was discarded as a
draught animal. It may be well to give an epitome of the results,
premising that what is now an exceptional occurrence was, at no remote
period, the general rule, just as it is still the rule in the
agricultural districts of Germany, Austria, and Southern France, not to
speak of such distant lands as Cape Colony and Ceylon.

Commencing with the “county of broad acres,” we find that Arthur Young
speaks of having seen many oxen in harness between York and Beverley in
the year 1768. Waggons were drawn by two oxen and two horses; for
tillage, oxen alone were deemed more serviceable[1244]. A little later,
in 1788, Marshall gives a somewhat different testimony. Oxen were still
preferred for drawing farm carriages and timber waggons along the roads
in the Vale of Pickering, but not a single ox was left at field
work[1245]. Near Whitby, however, bullocks were attached to the plough
so late as 1826[1246], and for hauling stones from the quarry, in
1858[1247]. A single team was still engaged in quarry work in

Coming to the neighbouring county of Lincoln, draught oxen were still
employed near Brigg in 1853[1249], and five years later the writer’s
father saw a plough-team in regular work at North (or Nun) Ormsby, near
Louth. The particulars from the Midlands touch more recent times. For
Stratford-on-Avon the last recorded year is 1895[1250]. A friend noticed
a team at work near Oxford, in 1881, and I have a record from Helmdon
(Northants), for 1902. At Hockliffe, near Luton, in Bedfordshire, oxen
were constantly employed by an eccentric farmer who died so recently as
1909. The feature was, however, admittedly an anachronism: the farmer in
question would not use machinery, and was, in other respects, a follower
of old-world customs.

The West Country supplies records for the year 1895; in the Vale of
Pewsey it is asserted that more ox-teams than horse-teams were seen at
the plough in that year, though the ox was not used for road-work. In
1909 I could not find a single team; inquiries showed that the year 1897
or 1898 must have marked the change over, so that either there must have
been an abrupt reversal of custom, or, more probably, the statement with
respect to the year 1895 was incorrect. There, as in Dorset, red and
white Herefords represented the breed most in favour[1251]. An
eye-witness reports a team from East Ilsley (Berks.), for 1906. During
the years 1887-8, I occasionally saw oxen ploughing on the Cotswolds,
and, a few years previously, Devonshire farmers still chose bullocks for
heavy land.

Labouring oxen were not uncommon in Hampshire and Dorsetshire about
twenty years ago. Two oxen were yoked to the plough, while, to increase
the speed, a horse was attached as leader. The case of Essex is
peculiar. One is bound to believe that bullock labour was formerly as
common in that county as elsewhere, nevertheless Arthur Young informs us
that the Essex farmers of the eighteenth century ridiculed Lord Clare’s
introduction of oxen to his estate at Braintree. It was only when the
experiment resulted in a great saving of money as compared with the
general expenditure on horse-labour that the example was reluctantly
copied. Young says that the importation of the oxen from
Gloucestershire, where Lord Clare had purchased them “with all their
geers,” was “a stroke of agriculture most unusual in Essex.” On one
occasion, a waggon drawn by horses became “sett” in the village. The
horses were taken off, “and the oxen clapt too (_sic_), who to the
amazement to the beholders, drew it out in triumph[1252].” One cannot
help thinking that the popularity of horse-labour around Braintree was a
chronological inversion, applicable only to a limited area. At whatever
period introduced, working oxen remained in the Essex districts of
Romford and Ilford until the year 1830[1253], and probably later. In the
sister county of Kent, bullocks were worked near Tunbridge Wells until
the year 1886[1254].

It is to the county of Sussex, however, that we must look for the
lingering exploitation of ox-labour. During the summer of 1908,
remembering what I had witnessed about twenty years previously, I made
careful inquiries about the disuse of working-oxen by Sussex farmers.
The result proved that two teams at least were still under the yoke, one
at Housedean Farm, Falmer, and the other, which I did not actually see,
at Itford Farm, near Rodmell, a few miles North of Newhaven. The latter
team has now been disbanded. In February, 1910, Dr W. Heneage Legge, of
Ringmer, informed me that teams could still be seen daily near Brighton.
Later, in August of that year, I found a single team retained--for
sentimental reasons, probably--at Exceat New Barn, near West Dean. The
Falmer cattle are black, long-horned animals, apparently of Welsh breed.
The old Sussex red cattle are no longer employed. The oxen are not shod
at the present day, though it is but a few years since the custom was
abandoned. This is a point to which we shall return. At Pyecombe and
Pangdean, bullocks were last worked, and shod, about eight years since.
“A few years ago,” was the answer given at Saddlescombe, and again at
Sompting. At Steyning, the blacksmith had not shod oxen for twenty
years, nor had his brother craftsman of Ditchling treated bullocks for a
decade or more. Here the details may stop; it is perhaps well that they
should be given, as an aid to the future historian.

But what of the past? For it is practically certain that from the
earliest historical times onwards to the eighteenth century the ox was
pre-eminently, nay, almost entirely, the beast which was yoked to cart,
plough, and harrow. There were, it is true, some exceptions, to be noted
in a moment. The old illuminated manuscripts show pictures of oxen only,
and the famous embroidery known as the Bayeux “tapestry” furnishes
similar evidence. The animals there shown as attached to the plough,
whether they represent oxen, horses, or asses, are very different from
the finely drawn horses exhibited throughout the rest of the
tapestry[1255]. Until the eighth century, as was stated in Chapter X.,
the horse was often used for food, and it was likewise kept for the
saddle. Thus we may say that, while the hunter, the warrior, and the
pilgrim claimed the horse for riding, the husbandman in the field was
content to use the ox for draught.

The language of Domesday Book corroborates the testimony of the early
manuscripts. In general, the records of that remarkable survey indicate
that a painstaking assessment was taken of farming stock. The terms used
in the minute inventories are extremely suggestive. The amount of land
which an ox could till is called an “oxgang” or “bovata” (Lat. _bos_,
_bovis_ = an ox + _ata_). A bovata, originally “one ox’s worth,” was
half a “jugum,” “a pair’s worth” (Lat. _jugum_ = a yoke), and a quarter
of a carucata (post-classical Latin, _car(r)uca_ = a four-wheeled
carriage; cf. root _quatuor_, whence the word was later applied to a
plough, possibly because it was drawn by four oxen, or, by extension,
two yoke of oxen, four abreast)[1256]. Recollections of early Mediaeval
literature will emphasize the truth of our proposition. In the “Vision
of William, concerning Piers the Plowman” (c. A.D. 1377), it was
doubtless an ox-team which ploughed the “half-acre.” Again, in the
writings of Bartholomew Anglicus (cir. A.D. 1260), there is a
description of the duties of Bubulcus, the ox-herd. “He feedeth and
nourisheth oxen, and bringeth them to leas and home again; and bindeth
their feet with a langhaldes [M. E. _langelen_ = to bind together;
_langel_, _lanzel_ = a rope or hopple] and spanells [= fetters; cf.
Germ. _Spannseil_ = a tether] and nigheth and cloggeth them while they
be in pasture and leas, and yoketh and maketh them draw at the plough:
and pricketh the slow with a goad, and maketh them draw even. And
pleaseth them with whistling and with song, to make them bear the yoke
with the better will for liking of melody of the voice.” The oxen not
only “ear” (= plough) the ground, but thresh the corn by treading:
Bartholomew also speaks of their use in “treading the flour[1257].” The
trivial round of the ox-herd’s labours may be completed from an Old
English dialogue of the eleventh century, in which the garthman is made
to say: “I stand over [the oxen], waking against thieves: and then again
in the early morning I betake them, well filled and watered, to the
plowman[1258].” A like story is told in the anonymous “Seneschaucie,” or
“The Office of Seneschal” (_temp._ Edw. I.), wherein it is stated that
ox-herds must sleep with their oxen to guard them[1259]. If we pass by
a few centuries, we get, in a passage from Shakespeare, an allusion to
the traffic in draught oxen at the great fairs of England. Shallow
inquires of Silence, “How a good yoke of bullocks at Stamford
fair[1260]?” And moving forward again, we have Robert Burns singing

    “And owsen frae the furrow’d field
     Return sae dowf [= slow, heavy] and wearie O[1261].”

In short, through all the centuries down to the middle of the
eighteenth, it might have been affirmed, in the words which Richard
Carew used of his own county of Cornwall: “For meate, draught, and
plowing, Oxen; for carriage and riding, horses[1262].”

But there must have been exceptions, perhaps even a little more
numerous than the foregoing paragraph would seem to imply. Fitzstephen,
who, about the year A.D. 1174, wrote a short account
of the city of London, describes a market at which one could buy
all kinds of commodities, and he remarks, incidentally, “_Stant ibi
aptae aratris, trahis, et bigis equae_” (There stand the mares, fit
for the plough, the sledge, and the cart)[1263]. Letters written in
A.D. 1222 to Ralph de Nevil, Bishop of Winchester,
contain repeated requests for “mares to draw the carts” which were to
convey marl to the fields[1264]. The employment of mares for draught
is directly at variance with their early heathen allocation to the
priestly body, one instance of which was given on p. 436 _supra_. This
old usage does not, of course, imply that all mares were reserved
for the priests: moreover, traditions respecting such animals were
doubtless fading away. But to return to our subject: the evidence
adduced is sufficient to prove that horses were partly employed in
agriculture during the Norman and Plantagenet periods. Moreover, Walter
de Henley, writing not later than A.D. 1250, advised
the farmers of his day to plough with two oxen and two horses, “if the
ground is not so stony that the oxen cannot help themselves with their
feet” (_si la tere ne seyt si perouse ke buefs ne se pussent eyder des
pes_)[1265]. As already noted, this plan was followed in Yorkshire,
Hampshire, and Dorsetshire until modern times. When all exceptions are
allowed for, however, the broad fact remains, that the bullock was the
main beast of draught during the earlier periods of English history.
Even in the Yorkist and Lancastrian periods, horses, we are assured,
were hardly ever used for field-work[1266]. They carried corn to the
mill or the market on their backs[1267], and they served the packman on
his journeys through the country. In the fields the ox was master.

Concerning the number of oxen which were grouped to form a team, usage
has varied. The Domesday terms bearing on the subject have caused much
controversy. Canon Isaac Taylor argued that eight oxen made up the
team[1268]. This view is supported by Dr J. H. Round, and, to some
extent, by Professor Vinogradoff and Professor Seebohm. The last-named
authority believes that eight oxen, yoked four abreast, made up the
full manorial plough-team at the time of Domesday, as well as in the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries. He admits, however, that the villains
had apparently smaller ploughs, with about four oxen to the team (Fig.
89). He also cites records to show that, occasionally, the plough-team
consisted of ten or twelve oxen. Mr W. de Gray Birch contends that the
number was four, and that four bullocks were the equivalent of two


    FIG. 89. Ploughing in the eleventh century. From
    MS. Anglo-Saxon Calendar, early eleventh century.
    (Strutt.) It will be observed that the team consists of four
    animals. Other illuminated manuscripts also tend to support Mr de
    Gray Birch’s theory.

Fortunately, there are precise statements extant respecting the
Mediaeval practice. In the Cartulary of Rievaulx Abbey (founded
A.D. 1132) eight is given as the number of the full team
or “draught”: “I[i]dem etiam monachi habebunt in eadem pastura quatuor
carrucatas boum, unamquamque de viii bobus[1270].” A team of eight
was also known on the high road, as we learn from the rhyming _Life
of St Cuthbert_ (c. A.D. 1450). We find the following
description of the conveyance of a huge beam to Durham Abbey:

    “It was of eight oxen draght (= draught),
     It was in a wayne wraght[1271]” (= worked, put).

This quota was, however, often exceeded. A great bell, cast in London,
was brought to Durham on a truck:

                    “Oxen twenty and twa
    War drawand this bell full thra[1272]” (= vigorously).

By a curious coincidence, twenty-two was the strength of the ox-teams
which formerly drew timber along the proverbially wretched roads of
Sussex[1273]. Mr R. E. Prothero tells us that

[Illustration: FIG. 90. Sussex oxen: showing the wide space required
when turning the headland, with a team of six.

    “Thou art not for the fashion of these times.”
              (_As You Like It_, Act II. Sc. 3.)

in the eighteenth century from eight to ten went to a plough. A trace of
these large teams may be seen, he asserts, in the old crooked ridges
visible on grass lands. The enormous length of the team, together with
the use of unwieldy ploughs, necessitated the allowance of a vast width
of head-row on which to turn (Fig. 90), hence there was a marked
deflection or curvature of the furrow[1274]. The furrow, in fact, took
the form of a flat reversed S[1275]. The Lincolnshire tradition says
that only the tops of the ridges were cultivated, and that the oxen were
attached to each end of a long pole, which stretched across the “land.”
Thus yoked the animals walked along the grass in the furrow. How the
ridges and furrows were originally formed we are not told. Rham says
that the old-fashioned plough was drawn by six oxen, and that barely
half an acre was turned in a summer’s

[Illustration: FIG. 91. Ploughing on the Sussex Downs: a team of four.]

day[1276]. Youatt recommended two pair of oxen to a plough; he
considered the ancient method of using four pair unnecessary[1277]. The
modern Sussex team commonly, but not always (Fig. 91), consists of six
or eight oxen. Eight was also the usual number in Northumberland.
Something, of course, depended upon the mode of harnessing the animals.
A case is recorded, in which a country clergyman, departing from the
common practice of attaching bullocks to the plough by means of a yoke,
adopted Arthur Young’s advice and used collars, with the result that
five oxen, harnessed according to the latter mode, would do the work of
eight in yokes (i.e. paired), with equal ease[1278]. The yoke which was
used in Sussex until quite recent years was a curved wooden beam about 5
feet long, 4 inches thick, and 6 inches deep. Near the extremities were
light oval hoops made of ash, about 1½ inches in thickness. These hoops
passed round the necks of the oxen, and then went through the thickness
of the


     FIG. 92. Ox-yoke (Sussex). _Reliquary_, XI. p. 222. _Dimensions_:
     length 5 ft; thickness 4´´; depth 6´´. The loops (ox-bows), which
     are of ash, are about 1½ inches thick.


     FIG. 93. Ox-yoke (c. A.D. 1800), Gayton-le-Wold, Lincolnshire. Now
     in the Museum of the Louth Antiq. and Nat. Soc. The material is
     ash. Length 51½´´; breadth 6´´; depth 4½´´. Ropes, or chains,
     passing through the vertical holes, appear to have served as

yoke[1279]. One of these yokes lay outside the blacksmith’s shop at
Rodmell, when I visited the village in 1910. Through the kindness of Dr
W. Heneage Legge, I am enabled to give an illustration of a Sussex
ox-yoke (Fig. 92). A Lincolnshire specimen, over a century old, now in
the Museum at Louth, is shown for the sake of comparison (Fig. 93). In
Fitzherbert’s time (A.D. 1534) the hoops were known as ox-bows. It would
appear, from a casual remark made by Rham, that the yoke was sometimes
fixed across the horns[1280]. We may note, by parenthesis, that the team
sometimes carried bells; one of these was discovered under the ruins of
the tower of Ringmer church (Sussex). The tower fell at some period
between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, and it is supposed
that oxen had been employed to remove the fallen stones[1281].

[Illustration: FIG. 94. Old Sussex plough and rake, in use about 150
years ago, at Rodmell, near Lewes. Now in the Castle grounds at Lewes.]

Of the various kinds of plough which have been in use for ox-labour, a
treatise might be written. What surprises the student most, is the
persistent crudeness of these implements down to a very late period. In
the grounds of Lewes Castle there is to be seen a specimen of the old
Sussex plough (Fig. 94). This dilapidated relic, which belongs to the
authorities of the County Museum hard by, is probably a century and a
half old, and originally came from Northease Farm, near Rodmell. The
plough is 12 feet long, and its two wheels are each about 2 feet in
diameter. The hubs and spokes are of wood, and are clumsily fixed to a
narrow iron tire, which is circular in cross-section. This feature may
be observed to-day in some of the ploughs of the neighbourhood, and the
method of attachment of the spokes is nearly as primitive in the modern
implements. The mouldboard of this cumbrous old plough is a semi-conical
iron-plate, and the coulter--a cutting instrument, according to
theory--is a heavy bar of wood with one edge a little narrowed. One may
be sure that the Mediaeval plough was of still ruder design. The Saxon
and Roman ploughs (Fig. 95), drawn by oxen, are of an extremely simple

[Illustration: FIG. 95.

     A. Bronze, representing Roman ploughman, said to have been found at
     Piercebridge, Durham. Lord Londesborough’s collection. (Wright.)

     B. Saxon ploughman. From the Psalter of Eadwine, _temp._ Stephen.
     (Strutt.) In both cases the oxen represented evidently belong to a
     shorthorn breed.

Opinions have always differed as to the age when a bullock’s services
are most valuable. A Sussex steward informed me that the age for
commencing work was 4 years, and that the ox would continue to be of use
for seven or eight years afterwards. Another account gave the starting
age as 2½ years, and the working period from three to five years. Youatt
cautiously remarks that the working life varies with the breed[1282].
The Yorkshire plan was to “break in” the animal at the age of 2 or 3
years, and work it till it was rising 6 years; but Marshall, while
agreeing with the “harness age” just given, contends that the beast
might be worked until it was from 15 to 20 years old, when it would be
in its prime[1283]. He adduces this instance: “An ox which I worked
several years in Surrey, might at 17 or 18 years old, have challenged,
for strength, agility, and sagacity, the best bred cart-horse in the

It will prevent confusion if we pause to note that the terms “ox” and
“bullock” are properly applied to castrated males of the species after
the age of 4 years; up to that age the animals are known as
“steers[1284],” or “stirks.” The distinction, however, need not be made
in the present survey.

When the ox was no longer of service in the field, it was fattened, and,
wherever the food was of a generous kind, the beef, we are assured, was
not especially tough. “Besides,” as an old Sussex peasant once remarked
to the writer, “we a’nt all on us got bad teeth, zur.” A more decided
opinion was that of a Newhaven butcher, who averred that he always used
to consider the beef of ploughing oxen a special dainty for the
consumption of himself and friends[1285]. And in general, the
countryfolk of old acted on the advice of the Hebrew proverb: “If the ox
fall, whet your knife.” Worn-out oxen were doubtless a great boon. In
Mediaeval England, fresh beef was consumed chiefly by the nobles and the
wealthy corporations, and by them only during a few months of the year.
Many bullocks were, indeed, killed and salted in November, when
provender had become scarce, but these represented grass-fed cattle. It
is estimated that only a very small proportion of the whole herd was
fattened for the table[1286]. Sir Anthony, or as he was termed Maister
Fitzherbert, who has already been cited, describes the position of the
husbandman very ingenuously: “And if any sorance (= injury, sore,
disease) come to an oxe, [and he] waxe old, broysed (= bruised) or
blinde, for ii. s. he may be fedde, and thanne he is mannes meate, and
as good or better then euer he was. And the horse, whan he dyethe, is
but caryin[1287].” Horseflesh, in Fitzherbert’s day, had long been
discarded as human food. (See _supra_, pp. 437-8.)

Among the reasons which led to the selection of the ox, rather than the
horse, for dragging the plough or hauling sledges laden with farm
produce, was the comparative cheapness of the keep of the former animal.
During summer, the ox was mainly fed on grass, which was supplied by the
common pasture. Winter found the poor beast living on a scanty diet of
straw, with occasional meals of chaff. Therefore the yeoman who had only
a few acres of land, with access to a waste or common, or the squire who
possessed sufficient pasture to supplement his arable fields, discovered
that bullocks formed the more economical team[1288]. Rogers estimates
that the cost of keeping a horse between October 18th and May 3rd,
during which term it could not graze, was nearly four times that of an
ox[1289]. Again, beast for beast, the bullock was deemed to have
proportionately a greater capacity for draught, that is, the strength of
an ox was utilized to better advantage when the animal was put in
traces, though for carrying burdens the horse was superior. The
assumption seems always to have been that two oxen could, in the mean,
drag as much as a good cart-horse. Though slow, the ox was surefooted,
and on the old, undrained fallows it was invaluable, because its hoofs
spread out as it tramped along. Not indeed that all breeds of this
creature are invariably sluggish. The trotting bullocks of India are
familiar to most folk, and Youatt relates that a British ox ran four
miles on Lewes racecourse in sixteen minutes[1290]. Walter de Henley
actually asserts that the ox is as quick at its work as the horse, but
the context shows that this statement must be interpreted in a peculiar
manner--he is comparing oxen with horses which are “pulled” by sullen,
prejudiced workpeople. “Besides,” so runs the comment, “a plough of oxen
will go as far in a year as a plough of horses, because the malice of
ploughmen (_la malyce des charuers_) will not allow the plough [of
horses] to go beyond their pace, no more [distance] than the plough of
oxen (_aler hors del pas nent ke la charue des buefs_)[1291].”

Generalizations respecting such a subject as ox-labour must obviously,
however, be accepted under reserve. The problem is not really simple.
Arthur Young prepared elaborate tables to show the relative values of
ox-labour and horse-labour, as applied to different soils under varying
conditions[1292]. The balance of opinion, as expressed by Young’s
calculations, is in favour of the ox[1293], but there are some important
conclusions in a contrary sense. Fitzherbert anticipated Young’s
verdict, though his assigned reason seems to indicate that he was
parrying a difficult question. “For in some places an oxen-ploughe is
better than a horse-plough, and in somme places a horse-plough is
better[1294].” Oxen are preferable, he tells us, where there exist
pastures into which the animals can be put on their return from work.
Horses are better when the team has to be “teddered” on leas and balks
(= unploughed, grassy strips), though, in practice, strange to say, they
were not usually so tethered. A more cogent plea for the bullock is
appended to this somewhat weak reason: “And oxen wyl plowe in tough
cley, and upon hylly grounde, where-as horses wyll stande
st[i]ll[1295].” This explanation carries weight, for it is on a steep
hill slope that the superiority of the ox-team was always best seen.
After the teachings of Jethro Tull, Lord Coke, and James Smith of
Deanston, had borne fruit, and farmers had begun to drain their land,
the horse came into serious competition with the ox. Even then, however,
a cause which had, all along, operated against the horse, continued for
some time to exercise a partial influence. This cause lay in the fact
that too little attention had been paid to horse-breeding, but so soon
as this art began to be practised, and powerful draught horses were, in
consequence, developed, the change of system began in earnest. An
illuminating piece of evidence was afforded when the transition was
taking place in Italy. The husbandmen in the neighbourhood of Rome,
copying French and English customs, abandoned ox-labour, but they had
not learnt how to rear horses strong enough for heavy field-work, and
much cruelty resulted from the change[1296].

Another reason for the preference given to cattle requires careful
examination. Mr W. J. Corbett, relying apparently on Walter de Henley
and Fitzherbert, states that the ox did not require shoeing[1297], and
that thus expense was saved. It may be doubted whether this cause was
ever generally active. The custom of shoeing oxen seems to be very
ancient. There is no obvious reason for disbelieving that the iron
object found by General Pitt-Rivers at Rushmore, in Cranborne Chase,
was, as the discoverer supposed, a Romano-British ox-shoe (Fig. 96 _C_).
It was of crescentic shape, widened at one extremity, slightly concave
on the upper side, and measured 3⅖ × 1⅛ inches[1298]. There is the
possibility, of course, that it was part of a horseshoe, but that
alternative is not so likely. The question of the existence of
horseshoes in Roman times has been dealt with in the preceding chapter.
It must be noted, on the one hand, that other objects of about the same
age as the Rushmore example, found in association with Roman remains in
ash-pits at Dorchester and Silchester, and in the Cam valley, have been


     FIG. 96. A. Ox-shoe or “cue,” made at Ditchling, Sussex, c. A.D.
     1898. B. Nail for fixing shoe. (Author’s collection.) C. Ox-shoe
     discovered by Pitt-Rivers at Rushmore, in Cranborne Chase. D.
     Ox-shoes in position.

horseshoes[1299]. (Cf. details given on p. 424 _supra_.) Against this
may be set a few scraps of evidence which support the correctness of
Pitt-Rivers’s determination--assuming that the two opinions clash--an
assumption which must not be made unless one has the opportunity of
comparing the various objects. First, we learn from ancient writers like
Pliny that the ancients shod, or at least bandaged, the hoofs of injured
camels with woven or plaited hemp[1300]. They were also often shod with
strong ox-leather[1301]. (Cf. Information about horseshoes, p. 423
_supra_.) Roman mules, and therefore, presumably, horses and oxen, were
shod with iron when they had to cross miry places, or when pomp and
display required some ornamentation of the team. The shoes were, indeed,
ill-fastened, and were often lost in the stiff clay[1302]. If, in view
of facts like these, we feel disposed to allow that the Rushmore plate
was really an ox-shoe, then there follows a strong presumption that the
custom of shoeing bullocks was never altogether given up. That “vis
inertia” of social habit, which so impressed Palgrave[1303], and the
continuity which arose from that condition, are nowhere more noticeable
than in the history of agriculture.

We turn to re-examine the Mediaeval authors already mentioned. On their
writings, partly, one supposes, Thorold Rogers based his statement that
“Oxen were shod, though the shoe is [was] far cheaper than that of the
horse[1304].” Unless, however, Rogers is basing his assertion on writers
other than De Henley and Fitzherbert, whom he frequently quotes, it is
obvious that he has misread his authorities. De Henley, in explaining
his preference for ox-teams, says that “if the horse must be shod” it
will cost “each week more or less a penny in shoeing[1305].” We may
fairly infer, then, that De Henley does not sanction the shoeing of
bullocks, and is a little doubtful about horses. Fitzherbert’s
objection, again, to horse-labour is that the animal must be “well
shodde on all foure feete[1306].” This assertion, standing by itself,
might be taken to imply that cattle were shod on two feet only--the fore
ones. All dispute, however, is removed by Fitzherbert himself, a little
later; speaking of oxen, he definitely tells us, “And they haue no
shoes, as horses haue[1307].” Neither can I find any allusion to the
shoeing of oxen in “Grosseteste’s Rules” (_c._ A.D. 1240), nor in the
“Seneschaucie,” which was probably written about half a century later.

In spite of this negative evidence, one may be bold enough to suppose
that such a careful writer as Thorold Rogers did not go seriously astray
in this matter, and that he had somewhere met with references to the
custom in Mediaeval works. There exists, in fact, some corroborative
testimony, because it is asserted by one who speaks from personal
investigation, that in a fifteenth century will, made in the city of
York, a certain man is described as an “ox-shoer[1308].” This takes us
back beyond Fitzherbert’s days. Two centuries later than the York
evidence, in the years 1666 and 1667, there are clear records of
payments for shoeing oxen in the Northern counties[1309]. Thus there is
a fair case to be put for the prevalence of the custom locally for the
last four or five centuries. Evidently not all oxen were shod. Without
doubt, too, the practice differed according to the county or district.
Recalling, then, the conservatism of agricultural methods, there is a
possibility that the custom has never been altogether in abeyance since
the Roman period. The evidence against the former shoeing of cattle
might be advanced equally to show that horses were not shod, at least,
universally. De Henley’s “if” indicates that the custom was not without
its exceptions, just as some modern equestrians like Mr W. S. Blunt are
exceptional in their opposition to the shoeing. Nor is Mr Blunt’s
doctrine without ancient precedent and parallel among modern primitive
folk. The Jews of Palestine, in the time of Isaiah, did not shoe their
horses, believing that this breach of custom--if it were indeed a
breach--would ensure hoofs “like flint[1310].” This was a great
advantage in warfare, comparable, in the opinion of the prophet, to the
strong man’s possession of sharp arrows and chariot wheels swift as the
whirlwind. As to present practice, the Arabs, the Tartars, the Gauchos
of the Pampas, allow their horses to go barefooted.

Whatever decision we may reach respecting the Mediaeval custom, more
recent records, till within the last few years, afford sufficient
testimony of the shoeing of cattle which worked on the farm. The animals
were also shod when taken long distances to fairs[1311]. The Sussex
tradition is sound on this point, for old drovers still talk of the
former usage. Within the last decade the custom of shoeing has been
abandoned, at the time when “the labour’d ox” is itself about to
disappear. A Sussex farmer told me (1908) that shoeing is unnecessary,
save for bullocks working on the “hard road”: if the creature’s feet
become tender, it should simply be allowed to rest for a day or two. A
second authority puts the matter tersely: “Once begin to shoe, and you
have to keep on doing it.” The operation needed some skill. A rope
(“girt” or girth) was placed around the neck of the animal, while
another cord embraced one fore and one hind leg. Then, by passing the
ropes over a beam--evidently by the aid of a pulley block--the beast was
thrown on its back. To prevent struggling, a man sat on the bullock’s
head and neck. Not unfrequently the long horns would be snapped off by
the impact, in such a way that the horn cores and skull were injured. If
this were followed by excessive bleeding, the ox had to be slaughtered.
Each foot was supplied with two shoes, or, as the Sussex folk term them,
“kews,” or “cues”: “You can’t call them shoes, zur; they are like a
_q_,” and the shape of this letter doubtless originated the nickname.
The word “cue,” as proved by the _English Dialect Dictionary_, is common
in the Southern and Western counties. Sometimes only the outer toe of
each foot was shod, since the exterior edge was believed to get the
greatest strain and pressure. The shoes, as we will continue to
designate them, are in the form of a rough crescent, or a comma much
widened at the head (Fig. 96 _A_). The nails look like tiny hammers
(Fig. 96 _B_). One relic of folk-custom is curious. Before being driven
in, each nail was thrust into “a piece of fat pork,” the belief being
that this made the nail enter the hoof more easily; moreover, if the
“quick” were accidentally pierced, the hurt would be speedily healed.
One blacksmith declared that he was glad when the shoeing of oxen was
given up: he did “not want to shoe any more of the vicious creatures.”
On the contrary, the aged blacksmith of Ditchling, now long past work,
averred that he would rather shoe two bullocks than one horse, although
each bullock required eight “cues” with five nails in each (40 nails),
as against four horseshoes with 28 nails[1312]. But perhaps this worthy,
in his retirement, looked back on his bygone labours through the
pleasant haze of years, and remembered only the happy occasions.

The Ditchling blacksmith, however, unconsciously had the support of an
authority on cattle, Youatt, who, while of opinion that shoeing was a
necessary evil, justifiable only because it increased the speed and
endurance of the bullock, declared that the task was not difficult. He
alludes, adversely, to a contrivance recommended by Bakewell for aiding
the blacksmith. This arrangement, the “trevis” (O. French, _traversan_ =
a cross-beam), was apparently some kind of modification of the
cross-beam described by the Sussex blacksmith. In the Vale of Pewsey,
the ox was placed in a kind of rectangular cage made by fixing
horizontal bars in four uprights. The animal’s leg having been fastened
to one of the posts, “cueing” was an easy matter--at least, so the
Pewsey blacksmith considered. Still another method was to throw the
animal on his back, tie his legs, and “hold down his horns with a

Youatt declares that the trevis is dangerous both to the ox and to the
smith. What the bullock suffers from is fear, not natural indocility.
Therefore prepare the beast gradually for the ordeal. Often handle him,
lift his feet, and strike them gently with the hammer. By and by, as he
finds that no harm is done, he will most likely submit meekly to the
process of real shoeing. Little skill is required on the part of the
artisan, but much patience. There is no weakness of particular parts of
the hoof, no “corn,” no tenderness of the frog, no contraction to be
studied. One has simply to fit the metal to the sole. The shoe of the
hind foot, should be thinner, narrower, and lighter than that of the
fore foot; it should also be less curved and more pointed[1313].

If we now inquire why the bullock was, little by little, driven from his
old position, we may find it partly in the two improvements already
mentioned--the drainage of arable lands, and the evolution of the
draught horse. Another reason which has been assigned, was the wild
condition of the boundary hedges of fields, which, although now usually
trimmed and pleached, had been allowed to straggle wastefully and to
increase in height. The consequence was that the horns of the cattle
often became entangled when the team turned at the headland; where the
branches of hedgerow trees hung low, the risk was still greater. The
narrow roads and hollow lanes, too, were frequently so overarched with
branches and climbing plants that the Craven breed of cattle, whose
horns were a yard in length, were in danger of breaking either their
horns or their necks[1314]. During great heat, Mr Stephen Blackmore
informs me, the oxen would often fall exhausted in the furrow, while the
horses laboured on. Always, too, in hot weather, there was anxiety lest
the team, being attacked by flies, should become ungovernable, and,
dragging the plough over ridge and furrow, dash madly for the nearest
thicket or pond, to the dismay and peril of the ploughman. Such are
some of the causes which are supposed to have wrought the revolution,
but surely these reasons must have been effective long before the actual
change came. Another factor, more operative one would think, was the
improvement made in the construction of ploughs, which now became
lighter and more manageable. Roads, also, received greater attention.
Trackways of soft clay, responsive to the cloven hoof, were superseded
by metalled roads and rough causeways of limestone, “in all seasons
unfriendly to the feet of oxen[1315].” We thus see that it needed a
strong set of forces to break the bond of tradition concerning draught
oxen. For some decades, it is true, the horse and the ox continued to be
allies in farm work, but the partnership was virtually dissolved about
the time when the leas were visited by the

                                                  “kittle o’ steäm
    Huzzin’ an’ maäzin’ the blessed feälds wi’ the Divil’s oän teäm.”

And now the tradition of working oxen has so nearly vanished that,
except in Sussex, it is difficult to glean information on the subject.
To begin the search for a cow-shoe is almost like setting out to find
the golden fleece. Even more difficult would it be to discover, outside
a museum, a specimen of the framework, with its set of bells, which was
formerly fixed above the yoke. The ox-waggoner of these unromantic
times, could we find such a worthy, would tell us that the bells were
employed for ornament and for their musical sound: his ancestors,
however, would have asserted that the jingling noise kept off witches
and persons possessing the “evil eye.”

There is, indeed, a considerable amount of folk-lore respecting the ox,
but, before examining this, time will not be misspent if we examine the
pedigree of the animal.

Most authorities now recognize three species of ox (_Bos_) as having
inhabited our island in Pleistocene and recent geological times. We will
glance at the three species in order. The European bison (_Bos priscus_)
is now found nowhere except in Poland, and need detain us only a moment.
This animal had


     FIG. 97. Skulls of British oxen. A. The Urus (_Bos primigenius_),
     from British Pleistocene deposit (British Museum, Natural History,
     South Kensington). B. Upper portion of skull of the urus, showing
     the long, curving horns, the bases of which form almost a straight
     line with the upper skull. C. Skull of the Celtic shorthorn (_Bos
     longifrons_), showing the short, stout, downward-curved horns, and
     the depression in the skull between their bases. D. Skull of
     Chartley bull, one of our Park cattle. This type exhibits the
     straight-topped skull, a feature not possessed by all the breeds of
     Park cattle. The outline of the horns is comparable to that seen in
     the domestic longhorn breed, rather than to the “pitch-fork”
     arrangement in the Chillingham cattle.

humps on its withers, and since none of our present breeds of cattle
exhibits this feature, the claimant is deemed an impossible
ancestor[1316]. Next in rank is the gigantic ox, known scientifically as
_Bos primigenius_, which was characterised by long curving horns, of
which the basal portions lay in a straight line with the top of the
skull (Fig. 97 _A_). This beast was domesticated in Switzerland in the
Neolithic Age, though, in Britain, it seems to have been known only as a
wild animal during that period. It had made its appearance in our island
in Palaeolithic days, but many writers suppose that it had become
extinct here before the Roman invasion. Without much hesitation this
animal may be considered identical with the urus which Caesar describes
as inhabiting Continental forests. The urus, he tells us, was a little
below the elephant in size, while its appearance, colour, and shape were
those of a bull (_Hi sunt magnitudine paulo infra elephantos, specie et
colore et figura tauri_). Its strength, speed and ferocity were
extraordinary. The Germans captured it by means of pitfalls and killed
it (_Hos studiose foveis captos interficiunt_)[1317]. It is stated as a
fact of no little importance that the urus, or, as it was sometimes
called by German writers, the aurochs, survived in Poland and Lithuania
until A.D. 1627[1318]. Since its extinction, the name of aurochs has
been improperly given to the European bison, which, as already stated,
still lives on.

The interest of the late survival of the urus lies in the theory that
all European breeds of long-horned oxen, and indirectly--through
introductions from the Continent--some of our semi-wild cattle, are
descended from this species. The famous breeds of Chartley (Fig. 98),
Lyme, and Chillingham Park, are placed in this list. We say
“indirectly,” because Professor James Wilson asserts that _B.
primigenius_ is not found in British deposits latter than the Bronze
Age, and hence cannot have left direct descendants in our country.

Wild bulls are, indeed, mentioned in Fitzstephen’s _Life of Becket_, as
existing near London in the latter part of the twelfth century, though
it is extremely doubtful if these were uri[1319]. They were more
probably more akin to our Park cattle. And one reason for believing that
these Park cattle are derived from partially domesticated breeds is
their white colour, which, had natural selection been allowed free play,
would have tended to bring about their extermination. Moreover, the Park
cattle occasionally have black calves; one was born in the Zoological
Gardens, London, in 1909. This fact would seem to indicate that the
original colour was black. Professor Wilson’s theory is, that the Park
cattle are the wild representatives of oxen introduced by the Romans.
Again, the present feral descendants of the supposed domesticated
ancestors are not all of one type as regards skull and horns, so that
the problem is not simple.


     FIG. 98. Wild bull, Zoological Gardens, London; the sole survivor
     of the (mixed) Chartley herd. Characteristics: white body, long,
     level back, coarse hair, black muzzle. The horns, which are
     blackish towards the tips, project slightly downwards and then
     curve upwards again. (Cf. the horns of _B. primigenius_ and _B.
     longifrons_, Fig. 97 B, C.)

Touching the origin of our domestic long-horned breeds, there are two
views extant. The first hypothesis is that our longhorns are traceable
to the Roman invasion. The Romans had a tame long-horned ox of a size
intermediate between _B. primigenius_ and _B. longifrons_, the last
named being a smaller breed, to be noticed shortly. This Roman ox was
perhaps the result of crossing _B. longifrons_ with Italian stock.
Alternatively, it may have been a domesticated form of _B. primigenius_
itself, which, not having passed through so many generations as later
varieties, retained more of the original features--such as the long
horns and straight forehead--its size alone being diminished[1320]. The
other view taken of our long-horned cattle is that of Professor Boyd
Dawkins, who, arguing from the occurrence of _B. longifrons_ as the only
species discovered at the Roman station of Uriconium, credits the
Scandinavian invaders with the importation of the long-horned
race[1321]. Professor Wilson has also strongly argued that the Norsemen
brought over our polled cattle. Mr R. Hedger Wallace, in an excellent
contribution to this subject, considers that the longhorns may even have
been introduced from Holstein and the Low Countries in Mediaeval
times[1322]. This might be termed a third hypothesis, and, before
accepting it, the student should carefully read Professor Wilson’s
little volume.

We pass to the last of our ancient types, the “Celtic shorthorn” (_Bos
longifrons_ = _B. brachyceros_), already mentioned as known to the
Romans. This smaller ox had an abnormally developed forehead, hence its
name _longifrons_. The short horns and the depressed curve of the upper
portion of the skull frontal should be compared with the corresponding
features in the urus (Fig. 97 _C_). The Celtic shorthorn was
domesticated in Britain in the Neolithic period, and during the Bronze
Age it was our characteristic, if not our only ox, and occupied this


     FIG. 99. Highland cattle, Perthshire. These cattle are mixed
     descendants of the Celtic shorthorn (_Bos longifrons_), they have a
     shaggy coat, and the horns, which are set widely apart, have a tuft
     of hair between their bases. The animals shown in the illustration
     are of a tawny-brown colour.

position on the arrival of the Romans. Its remains have been found in
vast quantities among the ruined lake-dwellings of Croyland[1323], and
also in turbaries in various parts of England[1324]. In short, if
Professor Wilson be correct, this ox represents our original native
breed. The ox described by Nilsson under the name of _B. frontosus_ is
believed to be the same, or a closely allied species[1325]. From the
black Celtic shorthorn our black cattle of Wales and the Highlands (Fig.
99) are probably derived, though inter-breeding has doubtless much
diminished the purity of the strain. It is curious to find that _B.
longifrons_ is, by some, supposed to have been originally a stunted
variety of _B. primigenius_. Actual crossing of the breeds is unproved.
The larger animal, it is believed, became locally dwarfed by
unfavourable environment, and was hence more easily subjugated by
Neolithic man[1326].

Once having tamed the ox, early man soon used it for purposes of haulage
and carrying burdens. The paintings on ancient Egyptian sepulchres,
which go back nearly to the days of polished stone implements, exhibit
several breeds of the ox tribe, both bearing the yoke and drawing the
plough[1327]. Again, Dr T. Rice Holmes cites authorities to show that an
ox drawing a plough is depicted on rock-carvings in Scandinavia[1328].
And that the animal was used as food there is abundant testimony
afforded by the nature and condition of the bones unearthed from barrows
and primitive settlements.

With the position of the ox in prehistoric times is intimately connected
its status in folk-lore and history. At once, however, we notice that
the ox has not here played such a prominent part as the horse. With
regard to sacrifice, Jacob Grimm sums up the case by the axiom that
agricultural nations have leaned more towards bovine, and warlike
peoples towards equine sacrifices[1329]. We may accept this as a general
tendency, but perhaps not more. Among the Greeks and Romans, indeed,
bullocks were the favourite victims[1330]. It will be remembered, too,
that the Philistines, when about to send back the Ark of Jehovah to the
Israelites, selected for the purpose two milch kine which had never been
subjected to the yoke. These kine were offered as a burnt-offering by
the jubilant Israelites when the end of the journey was reached[1331].
In Sweden, almost down to the time of Grimm (b. 1785, d. 1863), there
existed cattle known as “God’s cows.” Grimm sagaciously hints that the
term had its origin when such animals were claimed as priestly
dues[1332]. One is inclined to trace the expression further, namely, to
the days of real sacrifices. Among the old Norse and Alamannic tribes
the sacrifice of oxen was a custom which was eradicated with great
difficulty. A letter written to St Boniface (died A.D. 755) speaks of
ungodly priests who offered bulls and he-goats to heathen deities (_qui
tauros et hircos diis paganorum immolabant_)[1333]. Gregory the Great,
in a letter to the Abbot Mellitus (A.D. 601), uttered a like complaint
against the Angles: “_Boves solent in sacrificio daemonum multos
occidere_[1334].” The horns of cows intended for sacrifices were
bedecked with garlands[1335], somewhat in the manner of the Swiss cows
which are adorned with ribbons by their herdsmen. To witness the
inveteracy of custom concerning the cult of the ox, it is only necessary
to cross over to Brittany at the period of the great religious
processions. Notably, one should get a glimpse of the display made
during the “Pardon” of St Cornély at Carnac. At that period cattle are
driven many miles to be sprinkled with holy water at a sacred well. Such
farmers as can afford the gift, present an ox as an oblation to the
Church. As soon as the animal has been blessed, it is led away to be
sold by auction, the money being delivered to the church authorities.
Until about a century ago, at Clynnog in North Wales, cattle were
similarly offered to St Beuno. Apparently, both in Wales and Brittany, a
Christian saint had supplanted a pagan deity. Indeed, at a Roman villa
in Carnac, Mr James Miln dug up the votive image of an ox--a suggestive

There is another phase of the ox’s domination--that connected with the
soothsayer. The ancient Cimbrians swore oaths over a brazen bull[1337].
In Hindoo folk-lore, the bull appears in the ceremonial associated with
childbirths, weddings, and funerals[1338]. In ancient Rome, as is
familiar to most readers, the ox figured in oracles. Speaking with a
man’s voice, the beast gave dire warnings, such as that which bade
Caesar beware the Ides of March[1339]. White oxen were sacrificed to
Jupiter, and black ones to Pluto. The black ox was therefore deemed
accursed, a herald of ill-luck. In this superstition lies the
explanation of such a proverb as, “The black ox has trodden on his
foot,” allusions to which are found in old writers like Thomas Tusser
and Heywood the dramatist. Perhaps of more interest to us is Kemble’s
statement that there are records of bulls having been used for
divination in England[1340] (p. 435 _supra_). In the Bronze and Early
Iron Ages oxen were frequently sacrificed at graves when interments took
place, as indicated by the prevalence of bones and teeth in the mounds.
It is supposed that the animals formed part of the funeral feast. Ox
skulls (_B. longifrons_) are recorded from many round barrows of the
Aeneolithic (Copper-Stone) and Bronze period[1341]. But more remarkable
was Sir R. Colt Hoare’s discovery, in a barrow near Amesbury (Wilts.),
of the skeletons of two children, each resting on the head of a cow. The
animal appeared to have been of small size. The head of one child lay to
the East, that of the other to the West[1342].

There will perhaps be always some doubt as to which animals were used by
prehistoric folk as daily food, and which were eaten only on ceremonial
occasions. It seems probable that the earlier peoples did not commonly
eat beef. Contrariwise, there is good evidence to show that horseflesh
was much sought after, and we have seen how strong was the later
tradition and how difficult it was to destroy it. Pliny relates the case
of a man who was brought before the Roman people, and condemned to
exile, for having killed an ox for purposes of food. The grave part of
the offence was that the wretch had slain the beast--the partner in
man’s labours--with as little compunction as he would have killed one of
his own peasants[1343]! And Virgil instances the eating of oxen
(_juvenci_ = young bullocks) at banquets as a sign of degeneracy, and
as not having existed in the Golden Age[1344]. Other classical writers
give utterance to a like misgiving. This tradition of a “Golden Age” was
probably an instance of subconscious recollection of the pastoral stage
of society.

Honour, therefore, was reserved for the ox. Labour did not diminish its
dignity. But since wealth sprang from labour, whether of man or beast,
the Athenians did not deem it amiss to stamp the figure of an ox upon
their coins[1345]. Yet the Athenians, Professor Frazer tells us, were
accustomed to sacrifice the ox with elaborate ritual as the
representative of the spirit of vegetation. The sacrifice was known as
“the murder of the ox” (βουφόνια). Apart, too, from actual sacrifice,
there was a mysterious virtue imputed to the animal. Thus, the Egyptian
reverence for cows, which were regarded as embodiments of Isis, and
which were never killed, has been fully established by Professor Frazer,
who attributes the worship to either the pastoral or the agricultural
stage of Egyptian development. The kings of Northern Europe were
accustomed to take with them, when set on great enterprises, one or more
sacred cows, to yield a supply of potent elixir that would ensure
success[1346]. Bulls drew the chariots of Frankish monarchs[1347]. At
this point, the past is revealed in the present, for Defoe records how
he witnessed, near Lewes, the strange spectacle of “an ancient lady of
very good quality” being drawn to church in her own coach by six oxen.
This was done, however, not from “Frolick or Humour,” but from
necessity, the roads being so deep and miry[1348]. In the same county,
too, it was the custom, down to our own days, for a farmer who had
employed oxen on his land to be drawn to his burial by an ox-team[1349].

The symbolic side of our subject deserves a word or two. The figure of
an ox was emblematic of St Luke, and in later times, a similar device
was representative of St Frideswide, St Leonard, and St Sylvester[1350].
As the ox gradually lost its prestige, and the symbolic was replaced by
the secular, fables superseded the older reputable beliefs. All are
familiar with the celebrated “Dun Cow,” said to have been slain by the
doughty Guy of Warwick (cf. p. 199 _supra_). It was about four yards in
height, and six in length, with a head proportionately large. As
described in the old ballad:

    “On Dunsmore heath I also slewe
     A monstrous wyld and cruell beast,
     Calld the Dun Cow of Dunsmore heath,
     Which many people had opprest.
     Some of her bones in Warwick yett
     Still for a monument doe lye[1351].”

The basis of this legend of Sir Guy, according to good authorities,
belongs to a period previous to the Norman Conquest.

In Chapter IV. we had occasion to refer to the bones of the Dun Cow. In
recalling the story, the subject of inn-signs deserves a moment’s
notice. The Bull, whether Black, White, or Red, is very popular on
tavern sign-boards, but it is a little curious that the Ox is not
common, and is, in fact, now becoming rare. The Cow takes the place of
the Ox, and is represented as of various colours, Red, White, Brown,
Dun, and Spotted. The Wild Bull is met with, to say nothing of the
Chained Bull and the Bull and Chain. There is reason to believe that the
Ox signs formerly held a more favoured position. In nursery rhymes, the
animal was certainly prominent. The cow that jumped over the moon has
its fellow in the childish jingles of other lands besides ours. There is
also a German counterpart of the bull who tolled the bell when pussy was
drowned, for in a twelfth century manuscript the bull is made to read
the Gospel over the dead body of the wolf[1352]. The tradition that oxen
talk in their stalls on Christmas night is old, but is probably
post-Christian--there being no likely pagan basis for the story.

We may conclude with a notice of a pleasant custom, once common--the
giving of pet names to oxen and cows. Richard Carew (1769) states that
Cornish folk were much addicted to the practice: “Each Oxe hath his
severall name, upon which the drivers call aloud, both to direct and
give them courage as they are at worke[1353].” With dairy cows the
nomenclature was quite as diversified. Excluding the “fancy names” of
the breeder’s herdbook, we find such appellations as Whytelocke (in a
will _c._ A.D. 1546); Fyll Kytt (A.D. 1551); Cherry and Cherrye (in
wills, A.D. 1546, 1585); Shakespeare (A.D. 1793); Fill Bowl and Fill Pan
(A.D. 1809)[1354]. Such names as Daisy, Damsel, Grizzle and Straighthorn
are representative of old Hampshire[1355]. Then there are the names made
familiar to us in literature, for example, “Jetty,” “Lightfoot,” and
“Whitefoot,” of Jean Ingelow, “Brockie” and “Gowans” of Sir Walter
Scott[1356]. Pet names are still given to milch cows, as Mr Edward
Thomas has observed in his _South Country_. Monotonously, persuasively,
the cowboy calls, in turn, to such cows as linger to crop the roadside
sward: “Wo, Cherry! Now, Dolly! Wo, Fancy! Strawberry! Blanche!” and so
on, throughout a pleasant roll-call[1357].

But now that the ox no longer drags his burden along the dusty
turnpike, he receives no nickname. He is merely merchandise--the subject
of transactions between the butcher and the grazier. Not the least
lamentable feature in his history is the fact that no one remembers, or
cares to remember, his social services in the past. Knowledge of the ox
as a toiler of the field has all but departed, and, with oblivion,
kindliness perchance has diminished. “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when
he treadeth out the corn[1358],” said the Mosaic law. Nowadays, one
hears of Societies whose work, imperatively necessary, consists in
watching, with friendly eye, the interests of dumb, driven cattle. It is
a little doubtful whether any hardships connected with the use of
draught oxen ever exceeded, or equalled, the cruelty which is
oftentimes, if reports be true, associated with the lives of fatted



We are now in a position to see whither the lines of our inquiries
converge, and to draw a few general conclusions. Since each chapter has
been provided with its own summary, the retrospect will not detain us

We began by reviewing the facts with regard to the existence of
Christian churches on ancient pagan sites. It was soon discovered that
the chief testimony was afforded by tangible relics. These objects
comprise, on the one hand, rude stone monuments, ancient burial mounds,
prehistoric earthworks, and sacred wells, existing in close association
with parish churches; and, on the other, of scraps of treasure-trove,
such as bones, urns, coins, and implements, thrown up by the spade. The
material relics, it is true, did not complete the evidence. A little was
learned from place-names, and more, perhaps, from folk-stories
concerning the deeds of fairies and witches, giants and demons, who
baulked the efforts of the early builders. These traditions, widespread
and genuinely spontaneous, are--in whatever way we may choose to explain
and interpret them--valuable records of true folk-memory. Our general
verdict respecting the sites was that, in many instances, they were
originally of pagan selection, although no existing building can be
produced which exhibits, as a structure, undoubted continuity from the
days of heathendom.

From the site we went on to consider the church fabric. It was seen that
some of the earliest churches were raised during periods when the
community thought it wise to plan buildings adapted both for defence and
worship. The truth of this proposition will, by most students, be
deemed to have been satisfactorily proved. The part of the building
specially designed for protection was the steeple, which was frequently,
by turns, conning tower, beacon, treasure-chamber, and fortress.
Touching this ancient use, folk-tales have the true ring.

As the centuries passed away, defensive towers became unnecessary, yet
the idea survived in slight architectural features, now meaningless,
unless interpreted by the light of history. The nave, however, continued
to have its social value for several hundred years. Partly owing to the
Reformation of the sixteenth century, partly in consequence of the
pressure of population and the subsequent provision of more suitable
buildings for secular purposes, even the nave was at last forbidden to
the trader and the religious dramatist. Only a few trivial vestiges,
such as the affixing of public notices on the church door, remain to
tell of the old latitude given to customs, almost all traces of which
have vanished from the memory of the common folk. We must except from
this oblivion the village chatter about Cromwell’s soldiers stabling
their horses in the nave, the gossip about dog-whippers and dicing, and
the numerous bits of scandal coming down from the less creditable
periods of church history. All of these stories possess a germ of
reality. With respect, however, to the current explanations of “lepers’
windows,” squints, “priests’ chambers,” and deflected chancels, there is
no direct tradition, these explanations having been obtained from
outside sources.

Again, with regard to the orientation of churches, the reasons given by
country folk are obviously hearsay presentations of what has been taught
by educated persons. We have, it is true, the records of ecclesiological
writers to aid us, but these are, unfortunately, rather contradictory.
Priest and architect seem to have conspired to keep any actual details
of tradition to themselves, supposing, indeed, that any precise canons
ever existed. This select corporation may have handed down the theory
and the practice, but the rite is now shorn of much ceremonial, and the
custom is followed almost blindly. Moreover, modern builders appear to
be very careless in their alinements. The staple rudimentary idea of
orientation is clearly pagan, and the broad general tradition of
sun-alinements must have been well kept during the early centuries of
church-building, whether any definite, exact rules as to seasonal
alinement were observed or not. If the orientation of modern churches is
settled in a somewhat haphazard manner by the builders, and if the
primitive idea has become blurred and indefinite, the orientation of
graves affords a splendid example of unconscious folk-memory. Not only a
sexton, but probably any villager chosen at random, would take into
account the East-and-West direction in digging a grave, though he might
not be able to assign a reason for his method. The primitive purpose has
long since been driven aside by the force of events, and even the
symbolists have had to introduce secondary explanations.

In burial customs, with their numerous little superstitious observances,
the survival of folk-memory is well displayed. It is needless to repeat
the evidence here--how, in recent years, objects have been
surreptitiously, and even openly, buried with the dead; how the funeral
feast, in an attenuated form, lingers on; how we still scrupulously don
the funeral garb, once the sign of deprecation or fear; how graveyard
teeth are used as charms and remedies. True, the underlying ideas have
much altered; witness, for instance, the modern reasons put forward to
justify the wearing of mourning; but so far as the practices are
affected, we are still living, though, of course, unavowedly, in the
Neolithic period. The superstitions relating to death cannot be expelled
from the uneducated mind, which realizes too well that the event itself
is inescapable. Hence the prejudice against cremation, stubbornly
defying enlightened opinion, and hence the stories of ghosts and
apparitions furtively believed in by many persons who would be ashamed
to admit such credulity.

The folk-memory connected with the points of the compass supplied us
with some curious little touches of local superstition, and with the
familiar objection to burial on the North side of the churchyard--an
inherited antipathy coming down from prehistoric times. Next, the
churchyard yew presented a complicated problem. During the eighteenth
century there appears to have existed an echo of the days when the
churchyard yew was pruned for purposes of archery. In the few instances
where traditions concerning archery are still extant, there is a strong
suspicion that folk-memory has been “assisted” by local writers and
rambling antiquaries. Indeed, the strange silence about the yew in
genuine popular legend is so complete as to be amazing. One does not
refer to accounts of the employment of the yew on Palm Sunday, and other
similar observances; at most, these are valid only as furnishing
secondary motives. The real puzzle remains. Here we have a graveyard
tree, possessing strong distinctive characters--sombreness, strength,
longevity, perpetual verdure--appealing eloquently to human sentiment.
The planting of the tree was a custom in the early days of British
Christianity, and the practice has never become obsolete. Individual
trees, when decayed or uprooted, have been replaced by fresh ones. In
face of the cumulative testimony we cannot believe that the choice of
the yew, like that of the elm or ash, was merely casual; yet most of the
trustworthy tradition respecting the tree has long since disappeared in
a most extraordinary manner.

Rapidly passing on, we recall the chapter relating to the horse-cult.
Neglecting the minor details, we observe, in the obstinate prejudice
against eating horseflesh, a reversal of prehistoric ideas. Here, at
least, the Church made little admitted compromise, though the pagan
habit died hard, and backslidings are recorded. Strange to say, few
persons could give a reason, except that derived from the Jewish law,
for the general repugnance. On broad grounds, we should have expected to
find some curious, inconsequent explanation, such as that involved in
the superstitious fear of killing robins and swallows, or of eating
certain kinds of fish. There could scarcely be any rooted distaste for
horseflesh, nor natural repulsion to so clean an animal. Yet the
original ecclesiastical ban has lingered long after its actual effective
force has been lost. Perhaps a partial explanation is found in the fact
that we have always had numerous other domestic animals which have
furnished us with flesh food, though the native stores have had to be
supplemented by importation.

While folk-memory has sub-consciously kept alive the antipathy to
horseflesh, the story of the working ox supplies us with an excellent
illustration of the direct failure of oral tradition. The use of the
bullock as a beast of draught constituted an economic question simply.
So soon as the immediate material advantage was removed, owing to the
disuse of ox-labour, all interest in keeping up the tradition was lost.
Consequently, it is extremely difficult to get sound information
respecting a custom so recently abandoned, and not one person in a
hundred has ever seen an ox-shoe. Had the ox been pre-eminently
connected with British and Early Teutonic sacrifices and superstitions,
as was the horse, we should almost certainly have inherited a number of
vagrant traditions. As it is, we possess but a few old ballads, legends,
and nursery rhymes, like that of the Dun Cow of Warwick, or the cow that
jumped over the moon.

The study of the ox, indeed, helps us to appreciate exactly where the
strength and the weakness of folk-memory lie. Roughly speaking, the
soundest traditions are concerned either with essential details of
urgent social economy, or with religion and superstition. In these
matters, oral transmission is usually faithful. “This story shall the
good man teach his son.” But let an industrial practice be dropped,
through its being no longer necessary or profitable, and a few decades
will wipe out all direct remembrance. The most stupid myths will arise
to account for this or that visible relic of the industry or custom. So
long as the occupation brings material gain, the tradition is
scrupulously passed on from father to son. Of superstition, or of
widely-felt fears, affecting both body and spirit, there is the same
careful transmission and the same vivid retention. Scenes of horror also
remain long in the memory of the people; hence we meet with traditions
of battles, massacres, raids, burnings. Just in proportion as the
historical facts grow tenuous, the accounts become distorted and
exaggerated, as, for instance, in the Irish legends about Cromwell.
There are minor divisions of each series, such as those which comprise
the stories about buried treasure, ghosts and “barguests,” omens and
amulets, together with superstitions respecting personal
characteristics, times and seasons, health and disease, with many other

Viewing broadly the tract occupied by folk-memory, we indeed find
certain stable elements. We see the peasantry, diminishing numerically,
but still forming a great multitude, slow-moving by nature, and
tenacious of their heritage of folklore. The dull, mechanical monotony
of the lives of many of the industrial classes, again, tends to check
any breaking away from tradition. Our educational system is, alas, still
so uniform as to put a curb on originality, hence there is a tendency
for ideas to keep their traditional set. Opposed to these conservative
factors, there is at work a well-known biological principle. As our
society--to use the Spencerian phrase--is being slowly transformed from
a state of homogeneity to one of heterogeneity, as the individual
becomes separated and specialized from the mass, the habit of acting
instinctively like blind units of the human crowd is slowly lost, while
race-memory is weakened, and the primitive faculty of unconsciously
preserving and transmitting unwritten lore becomes atrophied and almost

Even the wofully scanty records of folk-memory such as those which we
have noticed, are destined soon to disappear. Education, in spite of its
cramped conditions, is destroying many foolish beliefs and baneful
superstitions. But it is doing more than this; for the printed book and
the daily newspaper not only obliterate folk-memory, but remove the need
for its lawful exercise. The reader no longer relies on oral tradition,
but on the printed pages of history and on works of reference. Scarcely
can we tell whether an important event took place five years ago, or a
dozen years ago. The speech and actions of famous men become confused in
popular tradition--always there is some book wherein the record is kept.
A credulous antiquary may proclaim that a certain mound is a barrow, and
though the “barrow” was actually raised within the past twenty years,
few folk can come forward to gainsay the statement. Or some old shepherd
“believes” that he has used flint celts for bell-clappers, whereas it is
more likely that he has merely heard, or read, of such a practice. In
fact, we are swiftly approaching the time when folk-custom and
folk-memory will be so utterly vitiated by books and lectures as to be
worthless. Caution is especially necessary at the present day. In his
address to the British Association in 1910, Mr W. Crooke gave a timely
warning respecting the “half-trained amateur.” Such a person, visiting
India, “may see a totem in every hedge, or expect to meet a corn-spirit
on every threshing floor.” And, at home, the rash enthusiast may see an
idol in every stone heap, an Iberian in every dark-haired man, a symbol
in every line of an ancient building, a prehistoric grave in every stray
bit of potsherd.

There is, however, a middle course of action. And, though folk-memory is
waning, there is work which can be done, if it be done quickly. There
are still waifs and strays of custom to be collected and correlated.
Every village clergyman has his parish registers, which, though
unfortunately not reaching back so far as one could wish, may yet give
information on some of the topics which we have studied. The local
antiquary who will make a precise record of all discoveries which
connect the present with the past, will do great service. The muniment
room, with its deeds and charters, sometimes yields us timely help. The
old chest, with its wills, leases, and covenants, may, in a few
scattered sentences, throw light on some quaint custom. The ballads and
folk-songs, which are now being so sedulously collected and studied,
still safeguard many curious fancies and superstitions. All these
sources will gradually yield less and less to the searcher. It is true
that there are libraries full of volumes which treat of antiquities,
folk-customs, and folk-lore, but the details need to be carefully
re-arranged, and, in many instances, to be re-vivified by comparison
with the living present.


Page 9. _Churches on Roman foundations._ The piers of the chancel arch
of Bosham church, Sussex, rest on enormous square bases, which are
believed to be Roman. The capitals were also probably copied from Roman
models. Mr P. M. Johnston, F.S.A., in _Victoria Hist. of Sussex_, 1907,
II. p. 362, suggests that the work represents “possibly the triumphal
arch of Vespasian’s basilica.” Roman relics have been found under the
floor of this pre-Conquest church.

St Michael’s church, St Albans, retains much Roman material in its walls
and piers.

Since this chapter went to press, I have read Mr Montagu Sharpe’s
_Parish Churches on Romano-British Sites_, 1909, in which evidence is
adduced to show that many of our parish churches occupy the sites of
pagan rural chapels (_sacella_) and are closely associated with the
lines of centuriation as planned by Roman surveyors. The sacellum was a
small unroofed place consecrated to a deity (p. 4), containing an altar,
and sometimes a shrine (_aedicula_). The sacellum was also used for
non-religious purposes, e.g. as a place of refreshment. Mr Sharpe states
that the Roman surveyors divided a district into areas or “blocks” by
means of four public ways (_viae vicinales_). In the canton of the
London Civitas a side of such a square measured 1⅛ miles (p. 2). Maps
are given, one of which shows that 30 parish churches of the Isle of
Wight “had intimate connection with the lines of the Roman Survey” (p.
3). Such churches are especially found near cross-roads.

Mr John Ward’s _The Roman Era in Britain_, 1911, pp. 111-113, deserves
notice in this connection, especially with regard to the conflict
between the historical evidence and the “comparative silence of

Page 14. _Classification of earthworks._ A portion of the scheme is
appended, in order to explain the groups of earthworks to which
reference is made.

A. Promontory fortresses: partly inaccessible, on account of cliffs or
water, partly defended by artificial walls or banks.

B. Hill-or Contour-forts: fortresses situated on hill-tops, with
artificial defences following the natural line of the hill.

C. Rectangular, or other simple enclosures, including forts and towns of
the Romano-British kind.

D. Castle mounts: forts consisting of a mount, with an encircling ditch
or fosse.

E. Castle mounts with baileys: fortified mounts wholly or partly
artificial, having an attendant court or bailey.

Page 118. _Churches as fortresses._ The church of St Michael,
Torrington, Devon, was employed by the Royalists (1646), both as a
prison and a powder magazine. Owing to an explosion, probably
accidental, the church was blown up, and about 200 prisoners were

The town referred to by Thorold Rogers seems to be Alton.

Page 161. _Arms taken to church._ A few of the old oak seats in Clovelly
church, Devon, are notched, and it has been supposed that the purpose
was the accommodation of weapons. In one case there is a corresponding
hole in the floor, rectangular in shape, which may have been intended to
receive the butt end of a musket (cf. the stands in City churches for
holding the sword of the Lord Mayor).

Respecting the rating of the clergy for armour, see _Notes and Queries_,
11th Ser., IV. p. 468.

Page 167. _The Borsholder._ The powers of this official are enumerated
in William Lambard’s work, _The Duties of Constables, Borsholders,
Tythingmen, and such other lowe Ministers of the peace_ (1583), pp. 15,
16, 20, etc.

Page 201. _Objects in churches._ An enormous pole was formerly suspended
in a horizontal position in the nave of Bosham church, Sussex. It was
traditionally said to be the staff of a Mediaeval giant, Sir Bevis of
Southampton, who was accustomed to stride across Bosham Harbour at one
step, on his way to Southampton (K. H. MacDermott, _The Story of Bosham
church, Sussex_, 1906, pp. 14-15). For a list of curiosities formerly
preserved in pagan temples, see J. Beckmann’s _History of Inventions,
Discoveries, and Origins_, trans. by W. Johnston, 1846, I. pp. 283-4.

Page 344. _Plan of churchyards._ Additional examples of churches which
have little space on the North side: West Tarring, Sussex; Northam and
Clovelly, Devon; Hambledon, Surrey. Small South yards: Ferring and
Lyminster, Sussex.

Page 346. _Introduction of headstones._ It is asserted that the
churchyard of Grasmere, Westmoreland, was devoid of gravestones until
the early part of the nineteenth century, and was used as the playground
of the village school. Wordsworth thus refers to the churchyard in _The

    “An orphan could not find his mother’s grave;
     Here’s neither head nor footstone, plate of brass,
     Cross-bones nor skull,--type of our earthly state
     Nor emblem of our hopes: the dead man’s home
     Is but a fellow to that pasture-field.”

Page 405. _Tennyson and the yew._ Two other lines from the same poem
(_In Memoriam_, XXXIX. _vv._ 1, 2) deserve notice:

    “Dark yew, that graspest at the stones
     And dippest toward the dreamless head.”

These lines suggest the Breton superstition that the yew sends out a
root into the mouths of the dead.

Page 412. _Drawings of the horse._ Sketches of hog-maned horses, bearing
signs of halters, have recently been discovered in the Magdalenian caves
of North Spain.

Page 440. _Superstitions respecting the horse._ In Bavaria, it was
formerly the custom for horses to be taken to church once every year, to
peep at the altar or the effigy of the local saint. This observance was
supposed to ensure good health to the animals during the next
twelvemonth. (_Notes and Queries_, 11th Ser., III. p. 266, authority
cited.) The practice is still followed in Italy.

In our own country, horses were taken at Easter into the “middle” of
Hertfordshire churches to be blessed. (_Notes and Queries_, 11th Ser.,
III. p. 318.)

Page 460. _Curved ridges due to plough-teams of oxen._ The curvature
indicative of ancient tillage generally takes the form of a flat
reversed S; in other words the unwieldy team turned to the left when
approaching the headland. Mr T. Blashill (_Jour. Brit. Archaeol.
Assoc._, N.S., II. pp. 218-23) deduces that the old-fashioned heavy
ploughs turned the furrow-slice to the left. This is not, however, a
necessary conclusion. A reversed S-curve might be associated with a
right-handed mould-board. Moreover, Dr W. Fream (_Elements of
Agriculture_, 1892, p. 45) asserts that “none of the old ploughs turned
a furrow”; they stirred the earth but did not turn it over. In such a
conservative occupation as agriculture, one would scarcely expect to
find such a revolution as Mr Blashill postulates. He observes that
modern ploughs are so made that the furrow-slice is thrown to the right,
and the team also turns in that direction at the headland. A similar
feature is noticeable in old cultivation ridges in many parts of the
Continent, where the curve is more frequently that of a flat S, not
reversed. It should be remembered that the old turnwrest plough,
formerly employed in some parts of England, enabled the ploughman to
throw the furrow either way.

The “line of beauty” traced by old ploughs is alluded to by William
Mason, in his _English Garden_, Bk II., ll. 51-6 (Vol. I. of _Works_,
1811, p. 237). He is referring to “ploughing steers”:

                    “That peculiar curve,
    Alike averse to crooked and to straight
    Where sweet Simplicity resides; which Grace
    And Beauty call their own; whose lambent flow
    Charms us at once with symmetry and ease;
    ’Tis Nature’s curve ...”

To prevent overstatement respecting the connection between ox-teams and
the curved furrow, it should be added that formerly there was “a
prejudice, if not a superstition, in favour of crooked ridges” (W. L.
Rham, _Dict. of the Farm_, 1858, p. 291).


Abbots Bromley (Staffs.), 160, 185

Abbotsbury (Dorset), 128 n.

Abbotsham (Devon), 345

Aberdeen, 301

Abinger (Surrey), mound, 62-3;
  stocks, 165

Achnacree (Argyle), 299

Acoustic jars in churches, 446-9, 451

Acoustic skulls in churches, 444-5, 449-51

Addington (Kent), 46

Addy, Mr S. O., on old Welsh courts, 64;
  Touting Hills, 71;
  old St Paul’s, 139;
  Royal Arms in churches, 144;
  theory respecting basilicas, 147-50, 151;
  word “church,” 147-9;
  “lord’s house,” 148;
  ostiarius, 149

Adonis, and Yuletide, 27

Aeneas, and chariots, 429

Aeneolithic Age, 249, 417, 419, 483

Aerolites, in churches, 197;
  superstition respecting, 198

Aestheticism in architecture, 238-41

Age of trees, how determined, 366-8

Agglestone, the (Dorset), 35-6

Ainus, burial customs of the, 247

Aird Dhubh (mountain), 352

Airy, Rev. W., on orientation of churches, 222, 226, 227, 233

Aland Isles, 402

Alciston (Sussex), 344

Aldborough (Yorks.), 273

Aldbourne (Wilts.), barrow, 314, 315

Aldworth (Berks.), 374, 398

“Ales” (= feasts), 175-9

Alexander Severus, 422

Alfold (Surrey), stocks, 165;
  yew, 221 n.

Alfriston (Sussex), clergy house, 176;
  elm, 176, 384

Alinement of churches (see Orientation)

Allcroft, Mr A. H., on Chisbury camp, 14;
  Burpham, 16;
  Mediaeval earthworks, 16, 60;
  defensive churches, 17;
  churches near earthworks, 17;
  Church Barrow, 30;
  castle-mounds, 55, 67;
  Cublington earthworks, 60;
  mound at Walton-on-the-Hill, 67;
  word “Toot,” 71;
  window-slits, 116

Allen, Grant, on grave-mounds, 260, 264;
  trees on barrows, 270;
  objects buried with the dead, 280, 319;
  barrow burials, 320;
  _Evolution of the Idea of God_, cited, 400

Allen, Mr J. Romilly, on the Chi-Rho, 5;
  Irish round towers, 121-2;
  orientation of graves, 247;
  evolution of “wheel-cross,” 269-70;
  coped tombstones, 272;
  burial customs of early Christians, 272, 275;
  Charon’s penny, 296;
  the comb in ritual, 311-12;
  burial of crozier with bishops, 311-12;
  chariot-burial, 430

Allington (Kent), 75

Alloa (Clackmannan), 275

All Souls’ Day, 27;
  Eve, 446

Alnwick (Northumberland), 163

Alpha Centauri, orientation to, 259

Alphamstone (Essex), 84-6

Altars, at East end of church, 205, 208-24;
  at West end, 206, 207, 214-17

Altar-tombs, 76, 346

Alton (Hants.), 496

Alvingham (Lincs.), 137

Amber, beads in graves, 300-1;
  as a charm, 301

Amesbury (Wilts.), churchyard, 344;
  discoveries at, 483

Amulets, in graves, 298, 300;
  teeth, used as, 301, 314

Ancaster (Lincs.), 12

Ancestor-worship, 280

_Anchitherium_, 409

Andrews, Dr C. W., on the horse, 408

Angers (France), 447

Anglo-Saxon remains (see under Saxon)

Animism, defined, 279;
  Prof. Tylor on, 279-81

Anketell, Rev. R. H., on Alphamstone discoveries, 85, 86

Anne Boleyn’s Well (Surrey), 96

Annual rings, in trees, 364, 365, 366-9

_Apostolical Constitutions_, quoted, 211

Applesham Creek (Sussex), 78

Apsidal churches, 20, 22, 149, 213

Arabs, and magnetic needle, 228;
  burial customs, 293;
  cardinal points of, 326;
  and shoeing horses, 472

Arbalest, or cross-bow, 385, 386

Arber, Prof. E., his “English Scholar’s Library,” 244

_Archaeologia_, cited, 430

_Archaeologia Cantiana_, cited, 428

Archery, British, 385-94;
  statutes concerning, 389-90;
  practised on the village green, 392;
  traditions, 491

Arcturus, orientation to, 259

Arkholme (Lancs.), mound, 56, 61

Arles (France), Council of, 2;
  church of St Blaise, 447

Arlington (Sussex), 79

Armitage, Mrs E. S., on castle-mounds, 55

Armour, stored in churches, 157-62;
  parish, 158;
  town, 158;
  funeral, 159, 284;
  at Repton, 159;
  Darley, 159;
  Mendlesham, 160;
  Olaus Magnus, respecting, 161-2;
  stands for, in churches, 496

Arnold-Forster, Miss F., her _Studies in Church Dedications_, 234

Arrichinaga (Spain), 29

Arrow-heads, 283, 315, 388, 390

Arrows, regulation of manufacture, 390

Art, of primitive man, 411-12, 414, 420-1

Aryans, early orientation among, 325, 328;
  supposed Asiatic origin, 333, 382;
  and horses, 421-2

Ascension Day customs, 92

Ascham, Roger, on archery, 391

Ash (Kent), 283

Ashburnham (Sussex), 201 n.

Ashburton (Devon), manorial courts, 137;
  yew-tree, 391;
  acoustic jars, 449, 450

Ashby, Dr Thomas, explorations at Caerwent, 25

Ashby-de-la-Zouch (Leicester), 349

Ashford (Middlesex), 250 n.

Ashtead (Surrey), Roman camp, 11;
  cedar and yew in churchyard, 384

Ash-trees, in churchyards, 384

Ash-Wednesday, symbolism of, 317;
  and yew, 382

Assandun, battle of, 200

Aston, as place-name, 339

Astronomy, early, 254, 257;
  cycles, 256

_As You Like It_, quoted, 460

Athelstan, and horse-breeding, 422

_Athenaeum_, cited, 4, 441

Athenian coins, 484;
  sacrifices, 484

Atkinson, Canon J. C., on Whitby Abbey, 234, 239;
  charcoal in graves, 289-90;
  funeral feasts, 319;
  “averils,” 320;
  grave-mounds, 357

Aubrey, John, on horseshoe custom, 157;
  dancing in church, 185;
  burial in a
  North-and-South direction, 244;
  Tandridge yew, 370-1

Augurs, divination by the left hand, 326, 327;
  by the horse, 434, 435

Augustine, and churches, 26

Augustus, Emperor, his villa at Capri, 198;
  burial of his horse, 432

Aurochs, the, 477

Austen, Canon G., on Whitby Abbey, 234 n., 235

Australia, burial customs, 247, 313, 322

Austria, 452

Auvergne, churches of, 216

Avebury (Wilts.), earthwork, 13, 30;
  church, 13;
  Palm Sunday celebration, 194

Avebury, Lord, on the horse, 416

Aveley (Essex), 189

“Averils,” or averil bread, 320

Avisford (Sussex), 314

Axes, made of amber, 299

Aylesford (Kent), “urn-field,” 261;
  flat-earth burials, 276;
  discovery of bucket, 434

Aysgarth (Yorks.), 259

Baal-worship, 218, 220

Bagshot Sands, 35, 40

Bailey, or bailey-court, 52, 61

Bailiff, chosen in church, 143

Bakewell (Derby), churchyard cross, 329

Bakewell, Robert, on shoeing oxen, 473

Baldock (Herts.), 159

Bale, Bishop, his Protestant plays, 183

Bamberg (Bavaria), 27

Bampton (Norfolk), 222

Banquets, in churches, 178-80;
  funeral, 319-21, 419

Baptism, at the church door, 143;
  St Jerome on, 220;
  superstition, 331

Barclay, E., on Stonehenge, 219

Bards, assemblies of, 33, 98

Bardsey (Yorks.), 59

Barfreston (Kent), 239

Baring-Gould, Rev. S., on holy wells of Cornwall, 96;
  wheels of fortune, 202;
  deflected chancels, 231;
  animals suspended from trees, 443

Barkway (Herts.), 448

Barnet (Herts.), 344

Barrington, Daines, on Fortingal yew, 376;
  on “shelter theory,” 384

Barrows, at Abinger, 62-3;
  early respect for, 64, 83, 87;
  Over Worton, 75;
  Ryton, 76;
  Brinklow, 76;
  Speeton, 78;
  Taplow, 81-2;
  Ludlow, 82;
  of Neolithic and Bronze Ages, 99, 249, 417;
  trees planted on, 270;
  discussion on word, 270-1;
  objects found in, 280, 282-3, 285, 300-1, 430, 483;
  fire-kindlers in, 293, 294;
  fossils, 302-4, 305;
  Aldbourne, 314, 315;
  feasts, 320, 438;
  North side of, 357;
  horse in, 416, 417, 419;
  oxen in, 483

Bartholomew Anglicus, quoted, 456

Barwick-in-Elmet (Yorks.), 59

Basildon (Berks.), 373

Basilica, at Southwell, 9;
  Reculver, 20;
  Silchester, 23;
  meaning of word, 146, 151;
  Roman, 148, 150;
  British, 148, 213;
  at Jarrow, 149;
  Rome, 150, 214-15;
  orientation of, 213, 214-15;
  at Bosham, 495

Bateman, T., his excavations of barrows, 416

Battlements, 117

Bavaria, 497

Baye, Baron J. de, on sacrificial custom, 321

Bayeux tapestry, and long-bow, 387;
  oxen, 455

Bayonne (France) Cathedral, 231

Beads, in graves, 300-1, 305, 314

Becket’s shrine, 131

Beckett, Sir E. (Lord Grimthorpe), on orientation, 216;
  acoustic jars, 447

Beckmann, J., on shoeing horses, 470 n.

Bedale (Yorks.), 107

Bede, the Venerable, on St Alban, 4;
  St Martin’s, 20;
  temple at Godmanham, 32;
  Wessex, 36;
  Jarrow, 43;
  orientation of graves, 244, 247;
  witchcraft, 397;
  horse-races, 422;
  story of Coifi, 436

Beehive huts, 120

Beeston (Norfolk), 353

Belemnites, in barrows, 307

Belfries, in Ireland, 120-2;
  origin of word, 126-7;
  horse-skulls found in, 445

Belgium, votive offerings, 203;
  caves of, 308;
  burial customs, 311

Belloc, Mr Hilaire, on Bishopstoke church, 45;
  Pilgrims’ Way, 338, 339

Bells, early, 120-2;
  “thief and reever,” 138;
  Mediaeval, 448;
  on oxen, 462-3, 475

Beltane fires, 403

Beltout (Sussex), 71

Benachie (Aberdeen), 48

Benedictine abbeys, 329

“Benefit of adjuration,” 354

Bengal, grave-gifts of, 313

Bennett, Mr F. J., on sarsens near churches, 40;
  Ogbourne Maisey mound, 75

Benson, Mr A. C., quoted, 137

“Beowulf,” use of the word “gallows,” 68;
  funeral mounds, 73;
  amulets in graves, 300

Berenger, Richard, on horseshoes, 424

Berkeley (Glos.), detached tower, 122;
  school in church porch, 154

Berkeley, Bishop G., quoted, 333

Berkshire, yews of, 406

Berwick (Sussex), mound, 75-6;
  dovecot, 188, 189

Berzelius, on analysis of bone, 90

Beverley (Yorks.) Minster, 165;
  oxen, 452

Bewcastle (Cumberland), 87

Bible, ideas of orientation in, 217-20;
  quoted, 318;
  symbolism of the North, 334-5;
  references to the horse, 420;
  white horses, 433;
  horse hoofs, 472;
  oxen, 481, 487

Bid-ales, 179

Bields (= cattle-shelters), 68

Bildeston (Suffolk), 155

Binstead (I. of Wight), 49

Birch, Mr W. de Gray, on Domesday ox-team, 458

Birling (Kent), 40

Birmingham, St Bartholomew’s chapel, 211

Bishops, burial of, 312

Bishopsgate Street (London), 247

Bishopstoke (Hants.), 45

Bishopstone (Sussex), position of church, 101;
  sundial, 162;
  chancel, 230;
  churchyard, 344

Bishops Stortford (Herts.), 418

Bisley (Glos.), 95

Bison, the European, 475-6

Black Death, the, 175

Black, Mr W. G., on yew in witchcraft, 396

Blackmore, Mr Stephen, 80, 474

Blashill, Mr T., on ancient agriculture, 497

Blickling (Norfolk), 266

Blomfield, Prof. R., on orientation, 209

Bloomsbury (London), 207

“Blue stones,” 35, 193

Blunt, Mr W. S., on shoeing horses, 471-2

Blyborough (Lincs.), 346

Boars’ tusks in graves, 80, 83, 302, 310, 430

Boat, model of Scandinavian, 108

Boldre (Hants.), 384

Bologna (Italy), 216

Bolsterstone (Yorks.), 42

Bolton (Lancs.), 137

Bond, Mr F., on Southwell Cathedral, 9;
  Westminster Abbey, 9, 134-5;
  age of church towers, 108;
  Irish round towers, 121;
  size of churches, 134-5;
  entasis of spires, 240

Bone-caves, 308, 411, 417

Bones, in churches, 198-201;
  as talismans, 321

Bonner, Mr A., on place-names, 32, 43

Bonner, Bishop, and miracle plays, 183

Booty, Rev. C. S., on Rudstone menhir, 43

Borromeo, St Charles, on church-building, 241

Bosbury (Hereford), 123

Boscawen-ûn (Cornwall), 256

_Bos frontosus_, 480

Bosham (Sussex), Roman villa, 9, 495;
  deflected chancel, 230;
  pole in, 496

_Bos longifrons_, 476, 478, 479, 480

_Bos primigenius_, 476, 477, 479, 480

_Bos priscus_, 475

Boston (Lincs.), mayor chosen in church, 143;
  discoveries at, 444

Botontine (= surveyor’s mound), 61

Bottesford (Lincs.), 350

Boulder Clay, 16, 36, 85, 110, 406

Boundaries, barrows on, 69;
  treaties concerning, 338

“Bournes” (= intermittent springs), 96

Bovata (= oxgang), 456

Bow, antiquity of word, 387;
  kinds of, 387-90

Bowman, J. E., experiments on yews, 365

Bowstaves, statutes concerning, 390, 391;
  from the churchyard yew, 394

Brabourne (Kent), 376, 379

Bradford-on-Avon (Wilts.), 115, 171, 172

Brading (I. of Wight), 165

Bradwell (Essex), 23

Brady, J., on English yew timber, 392

Brahmans, the, and praying towards the East, 217;
  respect for fossil ammonites, 307

Braintree (Essex), 454

Braitmaier, Miss M., on gable ornaments, 441

Bramber (Sussex), 78

Bramfield (Suffolk), 123

“Brandgruben,” 276

Brand, John, on tithe-barns, 176;
  Birmingham church, 211;
  vulgar rites, 243;
  curious burial, 245;
  funeral feasts, 319;
  burial on North side, 343;
  Edinburgh burial-ground, 351

Branks (= scolds’ bridles), 163

Branscombe (Devon), stone in churchyard, 41;
  headstones, 346

Branxton (Northumberland), 354

Bratton Hill (Wilts.), 433, 434

Bray, W., on church porch at Wotton, 154

Bread, stored in churches, 173

Breedon (Leicester), 104

Brenchley (Kent), 52

Brent Pelham (Herts.), stocks, 165;
  deflected chancel, 230

Brent Tor (Devon), 129

Bretasche, or guard-house, 53

Bride-ales, 179

Bridgenorth (Salop), 394

Bridlington (Yorks.), 230, 483 n.

Brigg (Lincs.), 453

Brighston (see Brixton)

Brightlingsea (Essex), 143

Brighton and Hove Archaeological Club, 78

Brighton Museum, 80

Brinklow (Warwick), 76

Bristol, St Mary’s Redcliffe, 199

Britain, early settlements, 105-6

British Association, the, 403, 418, 494

Brittany, lingering paganism in, 29;
  crosses and calvaries, 37;
  church superstition, 103;
  dolmens, 270;
  peasantry and thunderbolts, 197;
  “wheels of fortune,” 202;
  objects in churches, 203;
  megaliths, 308;
  superstitious customs, 446, 496;
  “Pardons,” 482

“Brit-Welsh” caves, 437

Brixton (I. of Wight), 90

Brixworth (Northants.), church, 9, 10;
  church crypt, 148

Brompton (London), 208

Bronze Age, relics, 67, 84, 85, 99, 249, 249 n., 257,
     274, 290, 311, 418, 419, 433;
  moundless graves, 261;
  coffins, 274, 278;
  horse, 416;
  rock-carvings, 421;
  oxen, 477, 479, 483

Brook (I. of Wight), 101

Brookland (Kent), 123

Brown, Rev. A. W., on Pytchley burials, 80

Brown, Prof. G. Baldwin, on Romano-British churches, 5;
  Reculver, 20;
  Dover Castle, 20;
  St Martin’s (Canterbury), 22;
  Jarrow, 23;
  Silchester, 24, 30;
  St Martin’s (Leicester), 30;
  Earl’s Barton mound, 62;
  pagan sites, 99;
  Lincolnshire towers, 108, 110;
  _Eccles_- in place-names, 147;
  “coenacula,” 148;
  orientation of churches, 213

Browne, Sir T., quoted, 201, 267;
  on burial customs, 201, 247;
  combs in graves, 311;
  yew on funeral pyres, 382-3

Brownsover (Warwick), 15

Bruniquel (Tarn-et-Garonne), 421

Brunne, Robert de, on funeral feasts, 319

Brunswick, arms of, 433

Buckland (Kent), 377

Bucklebury (Berks.), 295

Buick, Rev. G. R., discovery at Whitepark Bay, 418

Bulgarian funeral custom, 318

Bull-baiting, 179

Bullen, Rev. R. A., on Constantine church, 41;
  charcoal in graves, 289

Bullock, use of term, 465 (see also Oxen)

Bulls, in divination, 435, 483;
  in sacrifice, 481;
  in folk-lore, 482, 484, 486

Burghcastle (Suffolk), 11

Burghead (Elgin), 299

Burgh-on-the-Sands (Cumberland), 107

Burgundy, burial custom, 296

“Burh,” meaning of term, 55

Burham (Kent), 4

Burial customs, survivals in, 268-323, 490

Burial feasts, 319-21, 419

Burial-grounds, ancient, near Christian churches, 83-6, 262

Burials, in East-and-West position, 80, 83, 243-9, 352;
  North-and-South, 244-5, 246;
  in barrows, 249-51, 357;
  facing the sun, 249-52;
  in cemeteries, 262, 263;
  in churchyards, 262, 353;
  in church, 262;
  in upright position, 266;
  on hills, 266-7;
  without coffins, 271;
  in woollen, 278-9;
  of unbaptized persons, 302, 351;
  of suicides, 351, 352, 357-9;
  in open fields, 359

Burials Bill, 1899, 341

Burial Service, the, 315, 318;
  modified, 341

Burke, Edmund, quoted, 342

Burlingham St Andrew (Norfolk), 348

Burnham-on-Crouch (Essex), 344

Burn, J., his _Parish Registers_, cited, 352

Burns, Robert, quoted, 457

Burnsall (Yorks.), 165;
  font, 434

Burpham (Sussex), 15, 443 n.

Burrington Camp (Somerset), 258

Burrowes, Stephen, his voyages, 228

Burrows, Mr H. A., on fossil teeth, 308

Bury Fields (Bucks.), 61

Bury St Edmunds (Suffolk), 139

Butler, A. J., on Coptic churches, 221

Butler, Bishop, quoted, 346, 360

Butts, near churchyard, 353;
  shooting at, 386;
  repair of, 391

Byzantine architecture, 215

Cabot, Sebastian, 199

Caddington (Beds.), 41

Caer Capel (Denbigh), 104

Cae’r Hen Eglwys (Glamorgan), 31

Caerleon-on-Usk (Monmouth), 422

Caerwent (Monmouth), 25

Caesar, on British camps, 89 n.;
  on the yew, 362;
  British chariots, 421, 422;
  the urus, 477;
  the Ides of March, 482

Caister (Norfolk), 11

Caistor (Lincs.), Roman camp, 12;
  springs, 12, 97

Calcined flints, 292

Calendar, alteration of, 226;
  Julian 254

Caligula, and his horse, 439

Calleva Atrebatum (= Silchester), 23

Calvaries of Brittany, 37

Camberwell (London), 206

Camborne (Cornwall), 37

Cambridge, round church, 99;
  Emmanuel College, 208;
  prehistoric bowstave, 388

Camden, W., on Essex custom, 443

Camels, shoeing of, 470

Campanile, use of, 121;
  of old St Paul’s, 148

Cam valley, the, 468

Candles, in graves, 295

Canewdon (Essex), bone in church, 199-200;
  battle, 200;
  name, 201

Canterbury, churches, 20;
  Becket’s shrine, 192;
  alinement of cathedral, 230

Canute, his battle with Edmund Ironsides, 200

Cape Colony, 452

Capel Garmon (Denbigh), 104

Capella, orientation to, 221, 259

Capri (Italy), 198

Cardinal points, folk-lore of the, 324-59;
  symbolism, 324-59, 404;
  Heylyn’s description, 333-4;
  in place-names, 339-40

Carew, Richard, on Cornish oxen, 457;
  names of oxen, 486

Carnac (France), Mont St Michel, 129;
  blessing of oxen, 446;
  “Pardon,” 482;
  discovery at, 482

Carnarvon, circular churchyards of, 99;
  burial at, 312

Carshalton (Surrey), 96

Cartailhac, M. É., on the domestication of the horse, 415

Carthaginians, and temple of Juno, 442

“Carucata,” meaning discussed, 456

Castle Acre (Norfolk), 12

Castles, early, 51-5;
  keeps compared with church towers, 107;
  mounds, 51-63, 67 (see Moated Mounds)

Cataclew stone, 41

Caterham (Surrey), position of church, 101;
  churchyard, 344

Cativolcus, poisoned by yew, 362

Cattle, in the church and churchyard, 186-8;
  and yew leaves, 362, 385;
  breeds, 453, 455;
  Park, 476, 477, 478;
  long-horned and short-horned, 478-9;
  polled, 479;
  black, 480, 483
  (see also Oxen)

Caumont, M. de, on deflection of chancels, 231

Cave period, 414, 437;
  men of, 439-40

Caves, of France, 308, 411, 412;
  of England, 412;
  of Spain, 497

Caythorpe (Lincs.), 240

Cedars, in churchyards, 384

Celchyth, Council of, 437

Celtic burials, 276, 299;
  horse cult, 433, 441;
  pottery, 449, 450

Celtic shorthorn, 476, 479-80

Celts, chariots of the, 421-2

Celts (= stone implements), 79-80, 197, 298, 302

Cemeteries, ancient, 83-6, 262, 299, 353, 354

Centaurs, the, 419

_Century Dictionary_, cited, 363

_Cerithium_ (= fossil shell), 308

Cerne Abbas (Dorset), 96, 427

Ceylon, 309, 452

Chadwell St Mary (Essex), 50

Chagford (Devon), 175

Chained books, in churches, 164

Chaldon (Surrey), 101

Chalk (Kent), 9

Chalk coffin, 351

Chambers, Mr E. K., his _Mediaeval Stage_ referred to, 180;
  evolution of ritual and miracle plays, 181-2, 183

Chancels, at East end of church, 205-11;
  at West end, 206, 207;
  “twisted” or deflected, 229-38, 242, 334;
  and rebuilding of church, 233-4, 235

Chapel Carn Brea (Cornwall), 78

Charcoal, in graves, 287, 289-91, 292-3

Chariots, burial of, 276, 429, 430, 431;
  early use, 419, 421;
  British, 421;
  the Latin word discussed, 422

Charlemagne, 263

Charms, teeth, 302, 305;
  yew, 396, 397, 399

Charon’s penny, 296

Chart (Kent), 167

Chartley (Staffs.), 477, 478

Charvais (France), 248

Chatham (Kent), 206, 459 n.

Chaucer, his _Wife of Bath_ quoted, 156

Chauncy, Sir H., on orientation, 223

Chedworth (Glos.), 5

Cheltenham (Glos.), 154

Cheriton (Hants.), mound, 74;
  spring, 74, 96

Cheriton (Kent), 128

Chertsey (Surrey), 344

Cheshire, scolds’ bridles in, 163

Chesterfield (Derby), 199

Chester-le-Street (Durham), 12

“Chestnuts” of the horse, 411

Chests, church, 168-70, 199, 200

Chichester cathedral, 312 n.

Childeric I, tomb of, 424

Chillingham Park (Northumberland), cattle of, 476, 477

Chilswell Hill (Oxford), 195

Chilworth (Surrey), 131, 269

China, and magnetic needle, 228;
  burial custom in, 296;
  and eclipses, 397

Chipstead (Surrey), alinement of graves, 230;
  deflected chancel, 245;
  yew, 377, 379- 405

Chi-Rho monogram, 5, 6, 24

Chisbury (Wilts.), 14

Chislehurst, mound in churchyard, 76-8, 260;
  cockpit, 190;
  tombstones, 344

Cholesbury (Bucks.), 15

Chollerton (Northumberland), 7

Christchurch (Hants.), 154

Christian cemeteries, early, 80, 247-8, 262, 290

Christianity, early British, 2-3, 23-4, 26, 63, 437, 438, 446;
  compromises of, 26-9, 399, 437;
  “social theory” of, 133;
  burial customs of, 246, 262, 263, 272, 274, 275, 277, 311-12, 316, 317

Christian Malford (Wilts.), 33

Christison, Dr D., 365, 371, 374

Christison, Sir R., on yew-trees, 365, 371, 372, 374, 375;
  on Fortingal yew, 375

Christmas, originally a pagan festival, 27;
  dancing at, 185;
  evergreens at, 402;
  tradition respecting oxen, 486

“Christ’s Book,” 168

“Church,” etymology of the word, 145-7;
  Greek and Latin equivalents, 146;
  Teutonic and Celtic equivalents, 146-7

Church-ales, 175-9

Church armour, 158

Church Barrow, Cranborne Chase, 30

Church Bottom (Cambs.), 30

Church, chancel, 140, 170-1 (see also Chancels)

Church chests, 168-70

Church doors, 143, 156;
  position of, 328, 348

Churchdown (Glos.), 103, 104

Churches, on pagan sites, 1-100, 444, 488;
  early Christian, in Britain, 2, 23;
  of wattle, 3, 23;
  Roman materials in, 4, 5, 495;
  on sites of Roman villas, 6-9;
  in Roman camps, 11-13;
  near earthworks, 13-18;
  removed by fairies or demons, 17;
  near stone-circles, 28, 29 n., 45-8, 86;
  near sarsens and megaliths, 34-49, 104;
  near moated mounds, 55-63;
  near Toot Hills, 60, 69-72;
  near barrows, 74-83;
  near early cemeteries, 83-6;
  near holy wells, 92-7;
  round, 99;
  on hills, 101-4;
  used as beacons, 127-32;
  naves of, 132, 154, 170-1, 173, 183;
  daily services in, 135;
  courts held in, 136-40;
  notices on doors, 143-4;
  Royal Arms in, 144;
  crypts of, 148, 150;
  schools in porches of, 152-5;
  armour stored in, 157, 159, 160;
  dials on walls, 162, 164;
  chained books in, 164;
  weather-cocks on, 164;
  records kept in, 168-70;
  Court Rolls kept in, 168-70;
  storage of wills in, 170;
  of goods, 171-3;
  markets held in, 173-4;
  banquets, 178-80;
  plays held in, 182-3;
  animals admitted into, 186-7;
  dovecots in, 188, 189;
  cock-fighting in, 190;
  dedications of, 191, 192;
  aerolites and fossils in, 197-9;
  eggs in, 202;
  wheels of fortune, 202;
  orientation of, 205-42;
  standing North and South, 206, 207, 208;
  supposed development from basilica, 215;
  of Norfolk, 222;
  of Hants., 222;
  of Herts., 223;
  deflected chancels of, 229-41;
  burial in, 262;
  hatchments in, 284;
  position with respect to churchyard, 348-9;
  “giant’s staff,” 496

Church fabric, secular uses, 101-204, 488-9;
  tower, 107-18, 122-5;
  nave, 132;
  doors, 143, 404;
  porch, 143, 152-60;
  protection afforded by, 169-70;
  repair of, 170

Church fonts, 7, 434

Church-gift, custom, 156

Church-house, armour stored in, 159, 160;
  uses of, 175-6, 178-9;
  leases respecting, 178

Church, nave of, 132, 154, 170-1, 173, 183

Church porch, baptisms and weddings in, 143;
  schools, 152-5;
  fireplaces, 154;
  galleries, 155;
  business, 155-6;
  stirrup stones, 157;
  armour, 157, 159, 160

Church towers, defensive, 107-18, 122-5, 150;
  Saxon, 9, 10, 13, 62, 108-11, 117;
  of Lincolnshire, 108-11;
  of Gower, 112-13;
  of Pembroke, 113-15;
  comparison with castle keeps, 115-18;
  detached, 122-3;
  horse-skulls in, 445

Churchwardens, civil functions of, 142, 157;
  and protection of the church and churchyard, 157;
  published accounts of, 175, 184, 380, 391, 394;
  and church-ales, 176;
  responsibility for churchyard, 187

Churchyards, showing false appearance of fortification, 16, 88-91;
  raised, 90-1, 372;
  circular, 97-8;
  meetings in, 139-40;
  stocks in, 165;
  plays performed in, 182, 183;
  markets in, 191-2;
  sports in, 196-7;
  burials in, 261, 262-3;
  yews, 328, 348;
  North side disliked, 335;
  burials on North side of, 341-52;
  with North side wanting, 344;
  with South side wanting, 344;
  position with regard to the church, 348-9;
  unconsecrated, 343, 352;
  as playgrounds, 352;
  butts erected in, or near, 353;
  unenclosed, 354-6;
  yews, 360-407;
  and shelter trees, 383

Cicero, cited, 70

_Cidaris_ (= fossil echinoderm), 307

Cimbrians, the, and the brazen bull, 482

Cinerary urns, 84, 85

Cinque Ports, the, 137

“Cippi” (= stocks), 167

Cirencester (Glos.), 288

Cists, at Alloa, 275;
  in burials, 277

City churches, and their parishes, 235

Civil War, use of mounds during the, 57;
  churches used as fortresses during, 118, 496

“Clachan,” 49

Clapham (Bedford), church tower, 111;
  re-dedication of church, 233

Clapham (Sussex), 356 n.

Clare, Lord, and oxen, 454

Clark, Mr G. T., on moated mounds, 54, 55;
  Earl’s Barton mound, 62;
  Irish round towers, 121

Clay-with-Flints, 303

Clee (Lincs.), church tower, 110;
  walnut tree in churchyard, 384

Cleethorpes (Lincs.), 110

Clerk-ales, 179

Clerkenwell (London), spring, 96

Cleveland (Yorks.), burial customs, 291, 295

Cley Hill (Wilts.), 194

Cloictechs (= belfries), 120

Cloisters, position of, 329-30

Clovelly (Devon), 496

Clungunford (Salop), 180

Clynnog (N. Wales), 482

Cobbett, William, on raised churchyards, 91;
  size of churches, 133

Cobham (Kent), 45

Cochet, M. L’Abbé, on acoustic jars, 447

Cockerington (Lincs.), 137

Cock-fighting, in churches, 190

“Coenacula” (= upper rooms), 148

Coffins, use of, 271-7;
  stone, 271-2, 309;
  wooden, 271, 272;
  leaden, 271, 273, 274 n.;
  of tree trunks, 273, 274, 275;
  objects placed in, 309;
  filled with shells, 309;
  of chalk, 351

Coifi, destruction of heathen temple by, 436

Coins, placed in graves, 274, 295-8, 310;
  early British, 434;
  Athenian, 481

Coke, Lord, on agriculture, 468

Colchester, Museum, 84;
  Archdeaconry of, 187;
  leaden coffins at, 272, 273

Coldred (Kent), 15

Coleshill (Warwick), 353

Coliseum, the (Rome), 451

“Collis Credulitatis,” 65

Columbaria, or culver-houses, 188

Combs, in graves, 310-11

Compass, early use of mariner’s, 228;
  points of, as determined by the Arabs and Eskimos, 326

Conciones (= assemblies), 383, 403

Congress of Archaeological Societies, on earthworks, 14

Conington, Prof. J., on the Carthaginians, 442

Consistory Courts, 138-9

Constantine (Cornwall), ruined church, 31, 41

Constantine, Emperor, 2, 274

Constantinople, 186

Continuity, of tradition, 3, 86, 106;
  of sites, 3, 10, 23, 42, 80, 86-7, 95, 99;
  in burial customs, 279, 313, 317

_Conulus_ (= fossil echinoderm), 303

Conway, Mr M. C., on Lord Palmerston’s funeral, 310

Conwenz, Prof. H., on “yew” in place-names, 403

Coombe (Sussex), 78

Coote, H. C., on yew superstitions, 399

Copenhagen, siege of, 439

Copenhagen (= Wellington’s horse), 432

Coppes (= stocks), 167

Coptic churches, 220

Corbett, Mr W. I., on shoeing oxen, 468

Corbridge (Northumberland), 107

Cordiner, C., on Benachie church, 48

Corfe Castle (Dorset), 52, 53

Corhampton (Hants.), mound, 74;
  sundial, 162

Corn, burnt on graves, 318

Corn gods, 318, 436, 440 n.

Corn spirit (see under Corn gods)

Cornwall, crosses of, 36, 46-7;
  megaliths, 48, 253, 308;
  holy wells, 92, 96-7;
  churches with double dedications, 234;
  prehistoric monuments, 253, 256;
  burial custom, 310;
  teeth superstition, 322;
  use of oxen in, 457, 486

Coronation Stone, the, 43

Coulsdon (Surrey), 101

Councils, of Arles, 2;
  Milan, 212;
  Celchyth, 437

Countisbury (Devon), 345

County Courts, 136

Court of Arches, 138

Courts, held in churches, 65, 136-8, 140;
  rolls of, kept in churches, 168

Coventry, St Michael’s church, 230;
  St Mary’s church, 230

Coverdale, Miles, on symbolism of cardinal points, 337-8

Cowries, 296, 308

“Cow-souls” (= shells in Lappish graves), 309

Cox, Mr J., chipped celt, 80

Cox, Dr J. C., on Hathersage earthwork, 16;
  Abinger mound, 63;
  church armour, 159, 284;
  plays in churches, 181, 183;
  secular drama, 183;
  horn dancers, 185;
  deflection in churches, 235, 236

Crag (geological formation), 308

Cranborne Chase, barrow, 30;
  discoveries in, 105, 296;
  yews, 392, 403;
  horseshoes, 424, 428

Crawley, Mr A. E., his _Idea of the Soul_, cited, 282

Creçy (France), 389

Cremation, early, 260, 275;
  disuse of, 275-6, 277;
  Macrobius on, 276;
  ceremonies, 290, 316

Cressets, on churches, 162

Crinan (Argyle), 299

Cro-Magnon (France), 415

Cromlech, use of term, 28, 34;
  near churches, 45, 48, 49;
  theories concerning, 98, 253-8;
  as places of assembly, 98;
  developments from, 270
  (see also Stone-circles)

Cronks (= toot-hills), 71

Crooke, Mr W., on research, 494

Cross-bow, antiquity of, 385-9;
  description, 387;
  later history, 389-90

Crosses, of Devon and Cornwall, 36;
  Bewcastle, 87;
  evolution of, 270;
  wooden, 312, 347;
  churchyard, 328, 348;
  Bakewell, 329;
  preaching, 353;
  symbolism, 357, 358

Crossing, Mr W., on crosses of Dartmoor, 36

Cross-roads, burials at, 357-9

Crowhurst (Surrey), 377, 378, 404

Crowhurst (Sussex), 377

Crowle (Lincs.), 165

Croyland (Lincs.), 480

Crozier, in graves, 312

Crypts, 148, 150, 216 n.

Crystal balls, in Saxon graves, 299-300

Cublington (Bucks.), 59

Cudham (Kent), 101

Cues, 471, 472-3

Cult of the horse, the, 408-51

Cultivation, ancient, 460, 497

Culver-houses, 188

Cupar-Angus (Perth), 12

Cuxton (Kent), 4

Cybele, image of, 198

Cycles, in astronomy, 256

_Cymbeline_, quoted, 246

Cypress, the, in Greece, 383;
  Rome, 383;
  in English churchyards, 384;
  in Southern Europe, 401

Cyrus, king of the Persians, 433

Czechs, burial custom of the, 287

Dale, Mr W., on Mottestone menhir, 45;
  Twyford stones, 45

Danby-in-Cleveland (Yorks.); charcoal in graves, 289;
  funeral feasts, 319;
  burial-mounds, 357

Dancing, in churches, 183-5;
  at Easter, 185;
  at Christmas, 185

Danes, and white horses, 435;
  and horseflesh, 439

Danes’ Graves, 71, 261

Daniel, praying towards Jerusalem, 218

Danish invasion, in Yorkshire, 108;
  in Lincolnshire, 108-11;
  in Ireland, 122;
  and Irish round towers, 122;
  in Essex, 200

Darenth (Kent), 428, 429

Darley (Derby), armour stored in church, 159;
  yew-tree, 369, 376, 403;
  British dwellings, 403

David, his cavalry and chariots, 420

Dawkins, Prof. W. Boyd, on horse remains in caves, 417-18;
  long-horned cattle, 479

Dawns Mên (Cornwall), 256

Day spring, day star, 220

De Candolle, Augustin de, on age of yews, 364, 365, 366, 368, 369, 371, 375;
  his _Physiologie végétale_, 370;
  Fortingal yew, 375;
  Brabourne yew, 376;
  Fountains yew, 377

Deccan, meaning of the word, 326

Declination of magnetic needle, 228

Deddington (Oxford), 272 n.

Dedication festivals, 191, 192

Dedications of churches, to St Michael, 129;
  lost, 191;
  connection with alinements, 209, 225-6, 227, 234-5;
  double, 234-5

Defensive towers, 107-18, 150

Deflected chancels, theories concerning, 232-9;
  and rebuilding of church, 232-4, 237;
  and double dedications, 234-5;
  symbolism of, 235-7;
  aesthetical explanation, 238-41

Defoe, Daniel, on carriage oxen, 484, 484 n.

De Groot, J. J. M., on Chinese burial custom, 296

De Henley (see Walter de Henley)

Deiseal, the, 330

Dekker, Thomas, on the yew, 382

De Montfaucon, Father B., on ancient gem, 318;
  early horseshoe, 424, 424 n.

Denbighshire, circular churchyards of, 99

Denford (Northants.), 448

Denmark, horse sacrifices in, 435;
  acoustic jars found in, 447

_Dentalium_ (= marine shell), 308

Denton (Sussex), 345

Derbyshire, church quarrel, 187;
  teeth superstition, 322

Deritend (Birmingham), 211

Detached towers, 122-3

Devenish (Fermanagh), 118, 119

Devil’s Door, 18, 331, 332, 336;
  Dykes, 18;
  Highways, 18;
  Nightcap, 36

Devon, crosses of, 36;
  church towers of, 118;
  tombstones, 275;
  teeth superstition, 322;
  skull superstition, 444;
  oxen, 454

_Dexter_, dexterous, meaning of, 326, 327

Diabolism, 18, 83, 103

Dials (see Sundials)

Diana, supposed temple in London, 43;
  image of, 198

Didron, M. É., on acoustic jars, 447

Diocletian persecution, the, 274

Dionysos, and Yule-tide, 27

Ditchling (Sussex), use of oxen, 455;
  shoeing of oxen, 469, 473

Dithmar, Bishop of Mersburg, 435

Divination, 327, 402, 434, 435

Dode (Kent), 40

Dog, domestication of the, 415

Dogs, in churches, 189-90

“Dog-souls” (= shells in Lappish graves), 309

Dog tongs, 169, 190

Dog-whippers, 189, 190

Dolmens, 28, 34;
  developments from, 270

Domesday Book, place-names, 33, 45;
  and traditions, 375;
  respecting yews, 375, 377;
  horseshoes, 426;
  oxen, 455-6, 458

Dominicum, meaning of word, 147

Domville, Silas (see Taylor, Silas)

Donative (= church outside episcopal jurisdiction), 132

Donington (Salop), 95

Donner-stral (= thunder-stone), 198

Doom-rings (= stone-circles), 65

Dooms, over church gateways, 336

Doors, church, notices on, 143;
  baptisms at, 143;
  marriages at, 143, 156;
  position of, 348, 349

Doorward, the, 149

Dorchester (Dorset), 402;
  Roman ash-pits, 468

Dorset, burials, 264, 288, 307;
  employment of oxen in, 452, 454, 458

Douglas, J., his _Nenia Britannica_, 288, 289, 307;
  fossil belemnites, 307

Doulting (Somerset), 95

Dovecots, in churches and churchyards, 188

Dover Castle, church at, 19, 20;
  pharos, 19, 20

Down (Kent), 101

Downton (Wilts.), moot-hill, 64;
  horse-burial, 431

Doyle, Sir A. Conan, quoted, 391

Drax, Col., on fossils found in Dorset barrow, 307

Drontheim (Norway), 433

Droxford (Hants.), 250 n.

Druids, and the Agglestone, 36;
  circles of, 98;
  as astronomers, 254, 257;
  and yew-trees, 400, 401;
  persistence of, 402

Dryburgh (Berwick), 372

Dryden, on the yew, 382;
  translation of Virgil, 442

Duddingston (Midlothian), 157

Duddo (Northumberland), 426

Duff, Sir Mountstuart Grant, on Burgundian burial custom, 296

Dufour, M. L’Abbé V., translation of Keysler, 435 n., 438;
  on horseflesh, 438-9

Duggleby Howe (Yorks.), 66

“Dug-out” coffins, 275, 278

Duguesclin, Bertrand, burial of, 431

Duloe (Cornwall), 48

“Dumb borsholder” (= court mace), 167, 496

Dun Cow of Warwick, 199, 485

Dungiven (co. Derry), 93

Dunsfold (Surrey), 221 n.

Dunsley (Yorks.), 289

Dunstable Downs (Beds.), 303

Dunston pillar (Lincoln), 130

Dupont, M., on shells found in caverns, 308

Durandus, on eggs in churches, 202;
  on word “temple,” 210-11;
  orientation of churches, 211, 224, 226;
  editors of, 231;
  orientation of graves, 243;
  charcoal in graves, 291, 292;
  evergreens at funerals, 291 n., 323;
  reading of the Gospel, 337;
  burial out of sanctuary, 353, 353 n.;
  graveyards, 353

Durham, cathedral, court held in, 138;
  St Cuthbert’s grave, 311;
  Abbey, 459

Dymond, Mr C. W., on Stanton Drew circle, 46

Earle, John, quoted, 268

Earl’s Barton (Northants.), 62

Early Iron Age, 248, 249, 257, 261, 283, 312, 429, 433, 483

Earth-burial (see Inhumation)

“Earth-to-earth,” discussion of phrase, 315-16

_Earthwork of England_, cited, 14

Earthworks, churches near, 13-18;
  classification, 14, 15, 16, 495;
  Mediaeval, 16,  60, 89;
  fairs held in, 193;
  sports in, 193-4;
  superstitions concerning, 195-6;
  alinement of, 252, 258-9

Easington (Yorks.), 274

East, prayer towards the, 212, 214, 217;
  orientation to, 214-24;
  symbolism respecting, 217, 224;
  Welsh superstition, 246;
  as cardinal point, 326, 327;
  in place-names, 339, 340

East-and-West burial, 80, 83, 243-9
  (see also Orientation)

East Bedfont (Middlesex), 384

East Blatchington (Sussex), 79

Eastbourne (Sussex), 430

East Cardinham (Cornwall), 37

East Dean (Sussex), discovery at, 80;
  church tower, 125

East Dereham (Norfolk), 97

Easter, feasts, 180, 255;
  Passion Plays, 180-1;
  dances, 185;
  eggs, 202

East Harling (Norfolk), 448

East Ilsley (Berks.), 454

Eastville (Lincs.), 206

East Wellow (Hants.), 201

Ebchester (Durham), 12

Ecclesfield (Yorks.), name, 147;
  church porch, 155;
  burial on North side, 342

Eccleshall (Staffs.), 147

_Ecclesia_, meaning of word, 146, 148;
  in place-names, 147

Ecclesiastes, cited, 337

Eccleston (Cheshire), 82 n.

Eccleston (Lancs.), 147

_Echinocorys ovatus_, 303

Echinoderms, fossil, 302-4, 309

Echternach (Luxembourg), 185

Eclipses, 397

Eddas, the, cited, 328

Edenbridge (Kent), 425, 426

Edgar, injunction of, 187

Edinburgh, graveyard, 351;
  Bristol Street meeting-house, 445

Edlingham (Northumberland), 107

Edlington (Lincs.), 157

Edmund Ironsides, battle with Canute, 200

Edward the Confessor, 108

Edward VII, funeral of, 432

Efenechtyd (Denbigh), 98

Eggs, in churches, 202;
  Easter, 202

Egypt, churches of, 220;
  temples of, 221-2, 239, 254;
  the horse in, 420;
  horse-head custom, 440;
  paintings on sepulchres, 481;
  ox-worship, 484

Eisteddfod, its aims, 98;
  stone-circles erected at, 98, 256

Ekkehard, the Younger, grace written by, 438

Elkstone (Glos.), 188

Elms, experiment on, 366-7;
  in churchyards, 384, 385

Elsdon (Northumberland), 445, 446

Elton, Mr C. I., on amber ornaments, 301;
  hive bees in Ireland, 395

Ely cathedral, market in, 192;
  deflection, 230

Enclosure Act, of 1811, 141

Encrinites, fossil, 308

Enfield Chase, 162

_English Dialect Dictionary_, quoted, 473

Enisheim (Alsace-Lorraine), 198

Entasis, of spires, 239, 240

Eocene ancestors of the horse, 408-9

Eostre (deity), 195

Epistle, the, read from South side, 337

Epworth (Lincs.), 342

Equinoxes, orientation at, 211, 222, 229, 237, 241, 256, 258

_Equus_, genus, 411;
  _prejevalskii_, 413, 416;
  _caballus_, 417

Esgor, Welsh church of, 398

Eskimos, and the points of the compass, 326

Essex, Roman remains in church walls, 4;
  animals in churches and churchyards, 186, 187;
  oxen, 454

Ethelbert, conversion of, 26

Evans, Sir A. J., on cremation and inhumation, 276

Evans, Sir J., on tumulus in Flanders, 283;
  perforated hammer from Wiltshire, 305;
  Saxon necklace, 307;
  Roman cross-bow, 387

Evelyn, John, taught in a church porch, 153;
  on Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 208;
  funeral custom, 310;
  Woldingham church, 355;
  Brabourne yew, 376;
  Scottshall yew, 378

Evergreens, at funerals, 291 n., 323;
  on graves, 400

Eversley (Hants.), 345

Evesham (Worcester), 122

_Evolution of the English House_, cited, 71

Evolution of Irish round towers, 120

Ewart, Prof. H. Cossar, on the ancestry of the horse, 408;
  cave horses, 413;
  wild horses, 418 n.

Excommunicated persons, burial of, 351

Exeter, St Mary Major, 9, 206;
  Synod of, 140, 196, 383

Eynesford (Kent), 38, 272

Ezekiel, and the sun-worshippers, 218

“Facing the sun theory,” 249-52

Fairford (Glos.), 288

Fairies, 103, 104, 106, 196

Fairs, miracle plays performed at, 183;
  dates of, 191;
  held in earthworks, 193;
  and Gorsedds, 193;
  of the “May-Year,” 193;
  near yew-trees, 404

Fairwell (Staffs.), 448

“Fairy loaf” (= fossil echinoderm), 303

Fairy’s Toot (Staffs.), 71

Fairy tales, 440

Falmer (Sussex), position of church, 101;
  churchyard, 344;
  oxen employed at, 454, 455

Faringdon, or Farington (Hants.), 344

Faversham (Kent), 79

“Feld-cirice” (= field-church), 354

Fergusson, J., on Mediaeval municipal buildings, 137;
  orientation of churches, 213, 215, 216;
  development of early churches, 215;
  on St Ouen, 237

Fermanagh (Ireland), 361

Ferrara (Italy), 216

Ferring (Sussex), 496

Festivals, pagan, 27, 195, 255, 435;
  plural, for one saint, 225-6

Fewston (Yorks.), 52

Ffynnon Baglan (Carnarvon), 94

Ffynnon Beris (Carnarvon), 94

“Fig Sunday” (= Palm Sunday), 194

Fiji, burial customs, 247

Fimber (Yorks.), 78

Finglas (co. Dublin), 395

Finmark, 228

Finns, burial custom, 429

Finntann, and the king of Tara, 402

Fire-engines, in churches, 163

Fire-kindlers, in barrows, 285-6, 293, 294, 313

Fireplaces, in churches, 154, 188

Fitzherbert, Sir Anthony, on ox-bows, 462;
  beef as food, 466;
  comparison of horse and ox, 466;
  shoeing horses and oxen, 470, 471

Fitzstephen (see William Fitzstephen)

Flanders, tumulus in, 283

Fleming, J., on hippo-sandals, 428

Fletcher, Mr H. P., on orientation, 209

Flint, implements, in churchyards, 79, 80;
  in barrows, 283;
  chips, in graves 285-6, 291-3;
  in Saxon and British barrows, 285, 305, 315;
  works, 375

Flintshire, circular churchyards of, 99

Florence Court yew, 361

Flowers, on graves, 322-3

Fluor spar, in graves, 308

Folk-lore, respecting isolated churches, 17, 103-4, 106;
  thunderbolts, 197, 198;
  Welsh, 246;
  concerning the East, 246;
  Scandinavian, 246;
  objects in graves, 294-8, 300;
  funeral coins, 295-7;
  amber, 300-2;
  fossils, 302-4, 308;
  teeth, 321-2;
  of the cardinal points, 324-59, 404;
  burial on the North side, 342, 343, 352;
  yew, 396-9;
  Sclavonic, 397;
  of horse, 438, 439;
  of horse-skulls, 440-1, 442;
  oxen, 473, 475, 481

Folk-memory, concerning graves, 86, 87, 320;
  and treasure, 87;
  and the Danes, 108, 120;
  Civil War, 118;
  squints, 149;
  earthworks, 194;
  church customs, 203, 489;
  orientation of graves, 252, 259, 490;
  burial of coins, 296;
  determination of one’s position, 326;
  churchyard yew, 360, 396, 490-1;
  and horseshoes, 427;
  horse-burial, 431;
  horse-skulls, 444;
  acoustic jars, 451;
  ploughing oxen, 475, 492;
  general conclusions, 488-94

Folk-moots, at megaliths, 34, 63;
  in stone-circles, 34, 66;
  at mounds, 64;
  in churches, 66, 148;
  of Saxons, 167;
  and sacrifices, 438

Food, offered to weapons, 285

Ford (Northumberland), 426, 427

Ford (Sussex), 345

Fordington (Dorset), 80 n.

Forel, Prof. F., 249 n.

Fortingal, or -gale (Perth), 375-6, 379, 403

Fortuna, goddess, 202

Forum, at Silchester, 25

Fossils, at Little Coates, 72;
  in churches, 197, 199;
  in graves, 302-8

Foulis, Mr W. A., on Inchlonaig, 392 n.

Foundation sacrifices, 83, 444

Fountains Abbey (Yorks.), yews of, 377;
  acoustic jars, 448

Fox, Mr G. E., on basilica at Silchester, 24

Fox’s skull, on door, 443;
  paws, 443 n.

Fraipoint, M. J., on domestication of the horse, 415

Frampton (Dorset), 5

Frampton (Lincs.), 309

France, church porches, 143;
  orientation, 210;
  statue-menhirs, 268;
  caves of, 308;
  burial customs, 311;
  sale of horseflesh, 439;
  oxen, 452

Francis, Mr J., on Pirton church, 41

Frankfort-on-the-Main, 126

Frankish burials, 283, 285, 290;
  burial of chariots, 429;
  oxen, 484

Frazer, Prof. J. G., on burial customs, 251, 319, 358;
  on animism, 280;
  _Totemism and Exogamy_, cited, 281, 436;
  _Golden Bough_, cited, 400;
  harvest customs, 436;
  Athenian sacrifices, 484;
  Egyptian reverence for the ox, 484

Fream, Dr W., on ancient ploughs, 497

Freeman, E. A., on church towers of Gower, 113;
  of South Pembroke, 113, 115;
  battle near Canewdon, 200;
  place-name Canewdon, 200-1

Freemasons, orientation practised by, 209;
  Scotch lodges and orientation of churches, 209;
  and magnetic needle, 227,  228

Frensham (Surrey), 178

Freya, prayers to, 28

Friedlander, L., on early Christianity and paganism, 28

Frost, Nicholas, bowyer to Henry IV, 393

Fulstow (Lincs.), traces of earthwork, 16;
  pillar cross, 36

Funeral superstitions, 280, 286-7, 292-300;
  feasts, 319-21, 419;
  use of yew, 382-3, 399, 403

Furies, and yew torches, 399

Gable ornaments, 440, 441

Gaelic, survival of terms, 49

“Galilee” (= porch), 138

Galleries in church porches, 155

Gallows, discussion of word, 68, 69 n.

Gallows (or Galley) Hill, 68

Gamekeepers’ gibbet, 443

Gamla Upsala (Sweden), 28

Gardner, Mr W., on castle-mounds, 55

Garvestone (Norfolk), 347

Garway (Hereford), 188

Gasquet, Dr F. A., on guilds, 175

Gatty, Dr A., on burials at Ecclesfield, 342

Gatty, Rev. R. A., and horse remains, 418  n.

Gauchos, horses of the, 472

Gayton-le-Wold (Lincs.), 462

Geneva, 231

Genoese bowmen, 389

_Gentleman’s Magazine_, cited, 447

Geologists’ Association, London, 41

Germanicus Caesar, 432

Germany, stone-circles, 256;
  ancient burial customs, 276, 296;
  folk-lore respecting yew, 397;
  ancient tribal groves, 433;
  horse sacrifice, 434;
  horse-head superstition, 440, 444;
  gable ornaments, 441;
  “hoodening horse,” 441;
  oxen, 452, 477

Ghosts, worship of, 280;
  fear of, 287, 357-8, 359

Giant’s Grave (Penrith), 50

“Giants’ bones,” in churches, 198, 199

Gillebrand, on variation of magnetic needle, 228

Gillen, F. J. (and B. Spencer), on Australian custom, 321-2

Gilpin, William, on Boldre maple, 384;
  on bows, 389

Gipsy burial, 312

Giraldus de Barri (or Cambrensis), on yews in Ireland, 394, 395

Glacial period, 72, 361

Glastonbury (Somerset), Abbey, 23;
  Tor, 16, 131;
  shrine, 192;
  lake-village, 302

Glinton (Northants.), 240

Gloucester cathedral, 170

Gloucestershire, tombstones, 275;
  oxen of, 454

Gneist, H. R. von, on parish vestry, 141

Gobi Desert, 413

_God-_, prefix in place-names, 31, 32

Godley, hundred in Surrey, 32

Godney (Somerset), 31, 32

“God’s Acre,” 263, 404

“God’s Cows,” 481

Gods of cultivation, 318

Godstone (Surrey), 31, 32

“Godstones,” in Irish graves, 299

Gold, in graves, 310

Golden Age, the, 484

Gomme, Sir G. L., on early Christianity, 25;
  open-air courts, 63, 136, 140, 404;
  well-worship, 94;
  St Paul’s Cathedral, 136;
  courts leet, 140;
  Irish druidism, 402;
  Essex custom, 443

Good Friday, sports, 195;
  dancing, 195

Goodmanham, or Godmundingham (Yorks.), 32, 436

Goodrich (Hereford), name, 32;
  castle, 58

Googe, Barnabe, his _Popish Kingdome_, quoted, 174

Gordon-Cumming, Miss C. F., determination of position
     among the Highlanders, 327;
  Hebridean burial custom, 352

Gorm, grave of, 28

Gorseddau (= assemblies), 98;
  dates of, 193, 257;
  connected with stone-circles, 255, 256, 257

Gospel, read from North side, 337

“Gospel Book,” 168

Gothic architecture, 216, 240, 241

Gould, Mr I. Chalkley, on castle-mounds, 54;
  St Weonard’s mound, 56

Gower, churches of, 112-16

Gowland, Prof. W., on trilithons in Japan, 255

Grantham (Lincs.), 143

Grasmere (Westmoreland), 496

Grave-gifts, 80, 279, 280, 282-315

Grave-mounds, derivation of modern examples, 259-60;
  round, 264, 265;
  trees on, 270 (see also Barrows)

Graves, orientation of, 243-67;
  early, 259;
  ancient groups, 261-2;
  objects found in, 279, 282-5;
  flints, 285-6, 287, 288-9, 291-4;
  broken pottery, 286-7, 289, 292-3;
  charcoal, 289-91, 292;
  coins, 295-8;
  white pebbles, 299;
  fossils, 302-8;
  mirrors, 310;
  combs, 310-11;
  chalice and paten, 312;
  trees on, 400

Gravesend (Kent), 187

Gravestones (see Headstones)

Gray, Mr J., on stone-circles, 254 n.

Gray, Thomas, _Elegy_, quoted, 264, 384

Great Bear, used for direction, 325

Great Bookham (Surrey), 384

Great Canfield (Essex), 54, 59

Great Casterton (Rutland), 12

Great Coates (Lincs.), 384

Great Missenden (Bucks.), 267

Great Salkeld (Cumberland), font, 7;
  church tower, 107

Great Wigborough (Essex), 76

Greece, temples of, 152, 222;
  divination in, 327;
  funeral custom, 401;
  horses, 419

Greeks, and sun-worship, 219;
  temples of, 239;
  burial customs, 295, 296, 312, 317, 319, 383;
  wheat at funerals, 318;
  divination, 327;
  horse-lore of, 419, 434;
  at Marathon, 419;
  sacrifice of ox, 481

Greenland, burial customs, 284

Greenwell, Canon W., on barrow burials, 249;
  statistics respecting burial alinements, 249, 251;
  objects in barrows, 282, 307;
  white stones in graves, 299;
  fossil ammonite, 307;
  barrow funerals, 316;
  burial on North side of mound, 356;
  on the horse, 416, 417;
  Arras burials, 430;
  discovery at Hunmanby, 430

Gregory I, Pope, letter to Abbot Mellitus, 26, 482;
  on burial in churchyards, 353

Gregory II, Pope, 437

Gregory III, Pope, letter to St Boniface, 437

Gresham (Norfolk), 79, 80

“Greywethers” (= sarsen stones), 38

Griffith, Rev. J., on fairs and Gorseddau, 192-3;
  orientation of Welsh churches, 229;
  alinement of earthworks, 258-9

Grimm, J., on heathen trees and temples, 26, 32;
  “donner-stral,” 198;
  sun-worship, 219;
  epigram, 333;
  sacred horses, 433;
  horse-heads, 441, 442;
  sacrifice of the ox, 481;
  “God’s cows,” 481

Grimsby (Lincs.), 73

Gristhorpe (Yorks.), 272, 273, 274

Grosseteste, Bishop, and markets in churches, 173

“Grosseteste’s Rules,” cited, 471

Gubernatis, Prof. A. de, on mythology of the horse, 439

_Guide to the Antiquities of the Early Iron Age_, cited, 248, 430

Guildhall Museum, London, 424

Guildhalls, 138, 175, 176

Guilds, Mediaeval, 138, 181

Gumfreston (Pembroke), healing springs, 95;
  church tower, 113, 114, 115, 116;
  dovecot, 115, 188

Gunwalloe (Cornwall), 14

Guy of Warwick, 485

Gwinnell, Mr W. F., on the horse, 418

Gyndes, crossed by Cyrus, 433

Hadad, worship of, 220

Haddon, Prof. A. C., on Irish round towers, 120

Hagbourne Hill (Berks.), 261

Hagioscopes (see Squints)

_Haliotis_ (= marine shell), 309

Hallaton (Leicester), 62

Halling (Kent), 40

Hambledon (Hants.), 96

Hambledon (Surrey), 221 n., 378, 381,

_Hamlet_, quoted, 246, 284, 286, 288, 289, 347

Hammer, of Thor, 27, 198;
  in graves, 294, 305;
  perforated, 305

Hampshire, holy wells of, 96;
  orientation of churches, 222, 229;
  yews, 406;
  oxen, 454, 458

Hanchurch (Staffs.), 104

Hanging, punishment by, 68-9

Hanover, 362

Hansard, G. A., on supply of yew for bows, 393

Hardy, Rev. C. R., on bone in Canewdon church, 200, 201

Hardy, Mr T., _Far from the Madding Crowd_, cited, 193;
  burial of coins with the dead, 296

Harlyn Bay (Cornwall), Late-Celtic cemetery, 249, 299, 321, 322;
  quartz in graves, 299;
  teeth found in graves, 321

Harnack, Prof. A., on early Christianity, 25

Harptree-under-Mendip (Somerset), 46

Harrison, Mr Benjamin, on Maplescombe church, 38

Harrison, William, on churches used for markets, 174

Hartland, Mr E. S., on mourning dress, 287

Harvest customs, 436

Hascombe (Surrey), 183

Haslemere (Surrey), 265

Hasted, E., on Buckland yew, 377

Hastings, Battle of, 57, 387

Hatchments, in churches, 284

Hatfield Peverel (Essex), 344

Hathersage (Derby), earthwork near church, 16;
  court held in church, 140

Haverfield, Prof. F. J., pavement at Wroxeter, 7;
  Castle Acre, 12;
  Whitestaunton villa, 95

Havering-atte-Bower (Essex), 165

Hawker, R. S., on symbolism of the cardinal points, 328;
  his “Daughter of the Rock,” 343

Haydon (Northumberland), 7

Hayes (Middlesex), 190

Hayes, Rev. J. W., tombstone at Chadwell St Mary, 50;
  Gorseddau and stone-circles, 98, 255-7;
  purposes of stone-circles, 255, 257

Heads, of animals, superstitions regarding, 440, 441, 442, 443

Headstones, evolution of, 269;
  early examples, 346;
  distribution in the churchyard, 347-50

Healing springs, 94, 95, 97, 332

Hearne, Thomas, his grave, 245;
  on grave-mounds, 260

_Heart of Midlothian_, cited, 486

Heart-urchin (= fossil echinoderm), 303

Hebrew proverb, quoted, 465

Hebridean burial custom, 352

Hehn, Prof. P., on range of yew-trees, 363

Helmdon (Northants.), 453

Hems, Mr H., on position of churches, 348, 349

Henderson, W., on churchyard yew and witches, 396

Hengist and Horsa, 441

Henley-on-Thames (Oxford), 265

Henry V, burial of, 432

Hensor (Bucks.), 376

Hereford, blacksmiths of, 426

Herefordshire, detached church towers, 122-3

Herodotus, cited, 70;
  on Scythian burial customs, 287-8, 289;
  horses of the Sagarthians, 414;
  Danubian tribes, 420;
  white horses, 433;
  Egyptian custom, 440

Hertfordshire, churches of, 223;
  harvest custom, 436;
  horse lore, 497

Hesse, 362

Hessle (Yorks.), 165

Heûllan (Wales), 398

Hexham (Northumberland), 216 n.

Heygate, Rev. E. W., on place-name, Canewdon, 201

Heylyn, Peter, on the cardinal points, 333

Heywood, Thomas, cited, 483

Hicks, Canon E. L., on Christmas, 27

High Commission Court, the, 140

High Halden (Kent), 347

Highlands, burial feasts, 319;
  use of terms East and West, in the, 328;
  yew superstition, 399;
  ponies of, 413;
  black cattle, 480

Hill of Scone (Perth), 65

Hills, Mr G. M., on acoustic jars, 447, 449

Hill-top churches, 101-4

Himalayas, the, 382

Hindoos, and white stones, 299;
  and eclipses, 397

_Hipparion_, 409

Hippo-sandals, 428, 429

Hissey, Mr J. J., on Lincolnshire burial, 244

_History of the Protestant Reformation_, cited, 133

Hitchin (Herts.), 7

Hive-bees, 395, 395 n.

Hoare, Sir R. C., on Chisbury camp, 14;
  discovery at Amesbury, 483

Hobhouse, Bishop, on parish vestry, 142

Hobson, Mr W. F., on orientation, 241, 242

Hockliffe (Bedford), 453

Holland, use of horse-pattens, 428;
  horse-skull superstition, 440

Holland, Philemon, translation of Pliny, 294

Holmes, Dr T. Rice, and Sidbury Hill, 255;
  moundless graves, 261;
  Scandinavian rock-carvings, 481

Holm oak, in churchyards, 384, 401

Holton-le-Clay (Lincs.), 108

Holybourne (Hants.), 96

Holy wells, 92-7

Homer, cited, 327; on the horse, 419

Honolulu (Sandwich Islands), 208

Honorius, Edict of, 26

“Hoodening horse,” the, 441-2

Hope (Derby), 153

Hope, Mr R. C., on Cornish holy wells, 96

Hope, Mr W. St John, on basilica at Silchester, 24;
  castle-mounds, 55

Horace, cited, 316

Horncastle (Lincs.), 12

Hornchurch (Essex), 443

Horn dancers, 185

Hornsea (Yorks.), 150, 418 n.

Hornsey (Middlesex), 207, 211

Horsa and Hengist, 441

Horse, in the churchyard, 157, 186-7;
  cult of the, 408-51;
  ancestry, 408-11;
  modifications of structure, 411;
  carvings of, by cave-man, 411-12;
  possible domestication by cave-man, 414-16;
  eaten by cave-man, 415, 416;
  during Neolithic period, 416, 417, 418;
  in round barrows, 417, 419;
  at Whitepark Bay, 418;
  in lake-dwellings, 418 n., 421;
  reared by nomadic tribes, 419, 421;
  in the Bible, 420, 472;
  attached to chariots, 421;
  how mounted in early times, 421;
  in warfare, 421;
  shoeing, 423-9, 470, 471, 472, 473;
  buried with owner, 429, 431-2;
  slaughtered at altar, 432;
  white, 433-4;
  sacrifices of, 433, 434, 435, 436;
  in augury, 433, 434;
  as food, 436-40;
  as beast of draught, 454, 455, 457, 458, 466-8, 474;
  yoked with oxen, 458;
  breeding, 468;
  superstitions, 497

Horse-chestnut, in churchyards, 384

Horseflesh, eating of, 436-40, 466, 483, 491;
  Keysler’s view, 436-7, 438;
  forbidden by Gregory III, 437;
  dictum of Gregory II, 437;
  connected with Odin and witches, 438;
  Dufour on, 438-9;
  eaten by cave-men, 439-40

Horse-heads, ceremonial eating of, 440

Horse-races, early, 422

Horses, in church porch, 157;
  in churchyards, 187-8

Horseshoes, in church porch, 157;
  Roman, 423, 424, 425, 468-70;
  Saxon, 424, 424 n., 426;
  in Domesday Book, 426;
  in Northumberland, 426-7;
  round, 426, 427-8

Horse-skulls, deemed accursed by the Egyptians, 440;
  ceremonies attached to, 440;
  offered to Odin, 440;
  in magic, 440;
  as gable ornaments, 440, 441;
  in mythology, 442;
  under buildings, 444-5;
  in acoustics, 445, 446, 449-51;
  sacrifice, 481

Horsley, East and West (Surrey), 340

Houghton-le-Spring (Durham), 272 n.

Housman, Prof. A. E., his _Shropshire Lad_, quoted, 351

Hove (Sussex), 78, 274

Howden (Yorks.), 168

Howitt, Dr A. W., on Australian burial customs, 252

Howlett, Mr E., on burial of candles in graves, 295

_Hudibras_, quoted, 257

Hughes, Prof. T. McKenny, on horseshoes, 424

Hull, Miss E., on Irish round towers, 119, 121

“Humanist” school, 280

Hundsjael (= snail shells), 309

Hunmanby (Yorks.), 285, 430

Hurstbourne Tarrant (Hants.), 372

Hutchinson, Miss T., photograph by, 265

Hutchinson, W., on Penrith tomb, 50

Huxley, T. H., on the human skeleton, 90;
  on the horse, 408

Huysmans, M. J. K., on deflected chancels, 231;
  on “leaning-head theory,” 236

_Hydriotaphia_, Browne’s, cited, 311

_Hyracotherium_, 409, 410

Iceland, stone-circles of, 65

Ickleton (Cambs.), 30

Iford (Sussex), 384

Ilford (Essex), 454

“Incense-cups,” 314

Inchlonaig, or Inchconakhead (island in Loch Lomond), 392, 392 n.

India, Christian churches in, 208;
  superstition regarding white stones, 299;
  burial of suicides, 358;
  horse sacrifice, 434;
  oxen, 467, 482

Ingatestone (Essex), 40

Ingelow, Jean, pet names for cows, 486

Inhumation, practice of, 263, 264, 275, 277, 316;
  why introduced, 263

Inn-signs, 433, 485

Inverary (Argyle), 299

Ireland, early Christianity in, 27;
  churches on pagan sites, 48, 49, 86;
  holy wells, 93, 94;
  round towers, 118-22, 123;
  stone-circles, 256;
  hammers in graves, 294;
  “Godstones” in graves, 299;
  deiseal, 330;
  burial on “wrong side,” 352;
  yew-trees of, 394, 395, 403;
  hive-bees, 395;
  magicians, 401;
  epics, 419;
  skull superstition, 444;
  horse-skull in church, 445;
  paganism, 446

Irish yew, the, 361, 406

Iron Age, Early, 248, 249, 257, 261, 283, 312, 429, 433

Iron pyrites, 285, 286

Irving, Dr A., discoveries at Bishops Stortford, 418

Isis, and ox-worship, 484

Islay (Scotland), 294

Isle of Man, Tynwald, 64;
  “cronks,” 71;
  burial without coffins, 271

Isle of Portland, church-gift custom, 155

Isle of Purbeck, discovery of stone coffins, 275

Isle of Sheppey, 192

Isle of Wight, landmark towers, 130;
  graves, 264;
  churches, 495

Italy, orientation of churches in, 213, 214;
  abbeys of, 330;
  holm oak on graves, 401;
  use of horse-labour, 468;
  horse superstition, 497

Itchenswell (Hants.), 96

Jackson, Mr J. R., on Hensor yew, 376

Japan, sun-worship, 255;
  burial of suicides, 358;
  yews of, 361

Jarrow, early church, 23;
  Bede’s chair, 43;
  inscription at, 149

Jars, acoustic, 446-9

Jeaffreson, J. C., on powers of Mediaeval ecclesiastics, 139

Jeans, Rev. G. E., on Mottestone, 45

Jerusalem, orientation towards, 208;
  prayer towards, 218

Jesse, Edward, on age of yews, 364

Jessopp, Canon A., on Old Hunstanton mound, 69;
  hill-digging, 82;
  church treasure, 125-6;
  miracle plays, 182

Jet beads, in graves, 300

Jewellery, in graves, 310, 312, 314

Jewitt, L., on grave-mounds, 274;
  horseshoes, 424 n.;
  chariot-burial, 430

Jews, the, and orientation, 216-20;
  burial custom, 317;
  symbolism of right and left hand, 326;
  and shoeing horses, 472;
  on sacrifice, 481

Job, on sun-worship, 218;
  and the North, 334;
  his description of the war-horse, 420

Johnston, Mr P. M., on Burpham church, 16;
  on orientation, 209;
  on Bosham church, 495

Joly, Prof. N., on domestication of the horse, 415

Jones, Inigo, church built by, 206

Jones, Prof. Rupert, on Bede’s chair, 43;
  burial superstition, 292-3

Jonson, Ben, burial of, 266

Josiah, and priests of Baal, 218

Jossing-blocks, or stirrup stones, 157

Jowett, Prof. B., quoted, 297

“Jugum” (of oxen), 456

Julian calendar, 254

Juno, temple of, 442

Jupiter, and white oxen, 483

Jurby (I. of Man), 71

Justinian, Emperor, on church-building, 353

Jutland, horse-skulls on gables, 441

Kalm, Peter, on raised churchyards, 91;
  cattle kept in churchyards, 187

Kalmucks, and the horse, 419

Karnak (Egypt), 221

Kauffmann, Prof. F., on temple of Upsala, 28;
  pagan temples, 65;
  ancient modes of thought, 204

Keeps, castle, 52, 107

Kells (co. Meath), 119, 120

Kemble, J. M., on bulls in divination, 435

Kemsing (Kent), 40

Kenardington (Kent), 15

Kennett, Dr White, on graves, 244

Kent, churches of, 4;
  churchyards, 187;
  White Horse of, 433, 435;
  “hoodening horse,” 441

Kerdreuff (Brittany), 202

Kerry (Montgomery), 99

Kersal Cell (Lancs.), 377

Kesserloch (Baden), 415 n.

“Kews” (= ox-shoes), 472-3

Keysler, J. G., on inhumation, 263;
  chariot-burial, 429;
  horse sacrifices, 435;
  eating of horseflesh, 436-8

_Kil-_, prefix in place-names, 33

Kilfowyr (Carmarthen), 33

Kilham (Yorks.), stocks, 165;
  Danes’ graves, 248-9, 261

Kilpeck (Hereford), 52, 63

Kilsant (Carmarthen), 33

_King Henry IV_, Second pt, quoted, 457

_King Henry VI_, First pt, quoted, 335;
  Second pt, 284

Kingly Bottom, or Vale (Sussex), 375, 401

“King’s evil,” 202 n.

Kingsley, Charles, on the North wind, 334;
  and Eversley, 345;
  Swallowfield yew, 378

Kingusie, or Kingussie (Inverness), 65

Kipling, Mr Rudyard, quoted, 333

Kirby Grindalythe (Yorks.), 354

_Kirk-_, prefix in place-names, 33;
  etymology of, 145-7

Kirkamool (Shetland Isles), 31

Kirkcolm (Wigtown), 33

Kirkdale (Yorks.), 162

Kirk Ella (Yorks.), 33, 165

Kirton-in-Lindsey (Lincs.), 346

Kitchen-midden, near Constantine church, 42

Kitchin, Dean, on Twyford megalith, 45

Knollton (see Knowlton)

Knowles, Mr W. J., on remains of the horse at Whitepark Bay, 418

Knowlton (Dorset), church within earthwork, 13;
  yews, 401

Kyre Park (Worcester), 365

_Lady of the Lake_, quoted, 403

Lake-dwellings, 249 n., 416, 421, 480

La Laugerie (France), 415

Laleston (Glamorgan), 31

La Madelaine cave (France), 412

Lamb-ales, 179

Lambeth (London), 343

Lammas (Norfolk), 230

Lammer-beads (= amber-beads), 301

Lancashire, funeral custom, 318

Lancisi, and the writings of Mercati, 199

Lang, Mr A., on burial of suicides, 358

Langdon, Mr A. G., on the study of Cornish crosses, 36

Langham, Archbishop, on Sunday markets, 192

Langsett (Yorks.), 404

Laniscat (Brittany), 202

Lankester, Sir E. Ray, on the horse, 408

Lapland, heathen customs, 29, 286;
  graves, 286, 309

Larousse, Pierre, on burial of clergy, 244

Lascars, burial custom of, 316

Late-Celtic period, cemetery of, 249, 299, 321, 434;
  burials, 276, 430;
  bucket, 434

La Tène, period of culture, 276

Laud, Archbishop, and tribunals held in churches, 140;
  Easter feasts in churches, 180

Laughton-en-le-Morthen (Yorks.), 59, 192

Lavants (= intermittent springs), 96

Lavenham (Suffolk), 346

Leach, Mr A. L., on Gumfreston springs, 95

Leake, John, his map referred to, 222, 227

“Leaning-head theory,” 235-6

Leatherhead (Surrey), squint, 151-2;
  deflection of tower, 235

Ledbury (Hereford), 122

Ledger stones, 347

Leeds (Kent), church, 4;
  acoustic jars, 448-9

Lega-Weekes, Miss E., on church armour, 158

Legge, Dr W. Heneage, on ox-teams, 455;
  ox-yoke, 462

Leicester, 30, 283

Leicestershire, church, 236

Leith Hill (Surrey), 266

Le Mans (France), 29 n.

Leo I, Pope, and bowing to the sun, 212

_Lepidotus gigas_ (= fossil fish), 307

Lewes (Sussex), St John’s-sub-Castro, 13;
  Saxon cemetery, 83;
  Castle, 463;
  race-course, 467;
  ox-carriage, 484

_Liber Festivalis_, quoted, 381

Libraries in churches, 155, 163

Lichens, 334

Lichfield, holy well, 95;
  alinement of cathedral, 230

_Life of St Cuthbert_, quoted, 459

Lighthouse, supposed, at Dover Castle, 19, 20

Linchets, on Shawford Downs, 45

Lincoln, cathedral, 126;
  cathedral watchmen, 126;
  Heath, 130;
  St Mary’s Guildhall, 178;
  execution at, 351

Lincolnshire, burial superstition, 18;
  holy wells, 97;
  Danish invasion of, 108-11;
  burials, 248;
  burial superstition, 292, 295;
  church doors, 331;
  unenclosed churchyards, 355;
  churchyard trees, 406;
  oxen, 453, 460;
  ox-yoke, 462

Lindisfarne, Priory church, 245

Linton Heath (Cambs.), 402 n.

Lithuania, 363, 477

Litlington (Cambs.), 8

Little Coates (Lincs.), 72

Little Dunkeld (Perth), 94

Little Stukeley (Hunts.), 289

Littleton (Middlesex), 344

Little Washbourne (Glos.), 355

Littré, É., translation of Pliny, 294

Livy, cited, 70, 327

_Llan-_, prefix in place-names, 33

Llanbedr (Vale of Conway), 79

Llanberis (Carnarvon), 94

Llandegla (Denbigh), 94

Llandeilo Llwydarth (Pembroke), 94

Llanelian (Denbigh), holy well, 94;
  church chest, 168, 169;
  dog-tongs, 190

Llanfaglan (Carnarvon), 94

Llanfechain (Montgomery), 99

Llangenydd (Glamorgan), 31

Llanllechid (Denbigh), 104

Llanwrythwl (Brecon), 48

Local Government Act, of 1894, 142

Lockyer, Sir J. Norman, on cromlechs, 28, 48;
  sites of churches, 48;
  dates of fairs, 192-3;
  Egyptian temples, 221;
  “Saint’s Day theory,” 225;
  alinement of megaliths, 252-4, 255, 258;
  earthworks, 259

Logan, J., on stone-circles, 65-6

Lollards, trial of, in churches, 139

Lombardic treaties, 338

London, holy wells, 96;
  ancient burials, 247, 271;
  burials without coffins, 271;
  horseshoes, 427;
  market for oxen, 457;
  bell-casting, 459;
  wild bulls near, 477

London Clay, 409

London Geologists’ Association, 41

Long-bow, antiquity of, 387-9;
  at Creçy and Poitiers, 389;
  supersedes cross-bow, 389-90

Longman, Mr C. F. (and Col. F. Walrond), on bows, 389

Lord’s House, the, 150-1

Loudon, J. C., on Fortingal yew, 376

Louth (Lincs.), 240, 453, 462

Loversall (Yorks.), 346

Lovett, Mr E., on Sussex barrow, 302

Lowe, Dr J., his _Yew-Trees_ cited, 364;
  estimate of age of yews, 364, 365-6, 368, 369, 370, 372, 373-4, 375;
  his rule discussed, 365, 368-70, 373-4;
  “shelter theory,” 384;
  “bow theory,” 393;
  prehistoric respect for the yew, 400

Lower Greensand, 269

Lower Halstow (Kent), 4

Low side windows, 237, 329

Lucarnes (= dormer windows), 117

Lucas, Mr Seymour, on Mendlesham armour, 160

Lucas, Mr W. J., on Good Friday sports, 195

Ludborough (Lincs.), 16

Ludlow (Salop), 82, 95

Lull, Prof. R. S., 408

Lullingstone (Kent), 384

Luppitt (Devon), 449-50

Luxembourg, dancing in churches, 185;
  burial customs, 311

_Lycidas_, quoted, 397

Lydd (Kent), 143

Lydden (Kent), 187 n.

Lydekker, Mr R., on the horse, 408, 416 n.

Lyme Park (Cheshire), 477

Lyminge (Kent), 4, 20, 21

Lyminster (Sussex), 496

Lysons, Daniel, cited, 78

_Macbeth_, quoted, 396

Macclesfield (Cheshire), 71

Mackarness, F. C., cited, 187

Mâcon (France), 420

Macpherson, J., his _Ossian_ quoted, 283-4, 401

Macrobius, on cremation, 276

Magdalenian caves, 411, 412, 497

Magna Charta, referred to, 383

Magnetic needle, early knowledge of, 227-8, 233;
  where first discovered, 228, 324;
  variation of, 228, 233

Magnus, Olaus, on armour in churches, 161

Maid Marian, 441

Maidstone (Kent), 459 n.

Maitland, Prof. F. W., on the parish vestry, 142

Malabar, 222 n.

Malay, terms for points of compass, 327

Malden (Beds.), 342

Malden (Surrey), 32, 33

Maldon (Essex), 33

Malkin, B. H., on churchyard sports, 197

Mallett, Mr Reddie, and Harlyn Bay discoveries, 299

Malmesbury (Wilts.), 154

Manning and Bray, cited, 266 n., 371

Manningford Bruce (Wilts.), 344

Manorbier (Pembroke), 237 n.

Manor Courts, 137

Manuscripts, illuminated, 455, 459

Maplederwell (Hants.), 96

Maples, in churchyards, 384

Maplescombe (Kent), 38, 39, 40

Marathon, Battle of, 419

Mares, kept for milk, 419, 421;
  ridden by priests, 436, 457;
  used for draught, 457, 457 n.

Mariner’s compass, 228

Market Overton (Rutland), 12

Markets, in churches, 173-4;
  in churchyards, 191-2;
  on Sundays, 192

Market Weighton (Yorks.), 32, 430

Marlborough (Wilts.), 434

Marlborough Downs, 38

_Marprelate Tracts_, the, 244, 244 n.

Marriage, at the church-door, 156

Marsh, Prof. O. C., on the horse, 408

Marshall, W., on use of oxen in Yorkshire, 453, 465;
  working age of oxen, 465

Martin Hussingtree (Worcester), 348

_Martin Monthes Mind_, quoted, 244

Marylebone (London), 206

Mas d’Azil (France), 414, 416

Mashonaland, 222 n.

Mason, W., poet, quoted, 497

Maxton, Mr W. J., on St Saviour’s, Southwark, 231

Mayall, Mr A., on Kersal yew, 377

May-Day, and well-dressing, 92;
  customs, 92, 97 n.

Mayence, museum, 428

Maylam, Mr P., on the “hoodening horse,” 441

Maynard, Mr G., on Essex churches, 4;
  discoveries at Colchester, 274

Mayors, chosen in church, 143

May-year, the, 193, 253

McIntyre, Mr P., on Gaelic, 49 n.

Mecklenburg, horse-skull superstition, 440

Mediaeval earthworks, 16, 60, 89;
  settlements, 16, 89;
  treasure-diggers, 82-3;
  churches, 125;
  villages, 167;
  burials, 271, 289, 311, 317;
  symbolism, 324, 337, 407;
  tombstones, 347;
  superstition, 446;
  use of salt meat, 465-6;
  shoeing of oxen, 470-1

Megaliths, kinds of, 28, 34;
  new churches, 34, 42-9, 104, 400;
  destruction of, 42-3;
  orientation of, 229, 252-8;
  discoveries at, 308

Melling (Lancs.), 59

Mellitus, Abbot, letter to, 482

Mells (Somerset), 377, 380

Melsonby (Yorks.), 107

Mendlesham (Suffolk), 160

Menhirs, 34-5, 37, 45, 136, 255;
  at St Mabyn, 42;
  Rudstone, 43;
  Mottestone, 45

Mentmore (Bucks.), 83

Meopham (Kent), 40

Meppershall (Beds.), 60

Mercati, Michele, on fossils, 199

Merovingian burials, 283, 285

Merrington (Northumberland), 107

Merstham (Surrey), 96, 101

_Mesohippus_, 409, 410

Mesolithic period, 418

Metz (Germany), 447

Miall, Prof. L. C., on “negative exceptions,” 350

Mickleham (Surrey), 230

Micklethwaite, Mr J. T., on Wakefield parish church, 344

_Micraster_ (= fossil echinoderm), in graves, 302, 303, 304

Middlesex, yews of, 406

Middleton, Bishop, and the orientation of churches, 208

Middleton Stoney (Oxford), 244

Midsummer festivals, 192;
  fires, 440, 446

Migne, M. L’Abbé, on church of St Benoît, 210

Milan (Italy), 212, 216

Mildmay, Sir W., on orientation, 208, 210

Miln, Mr James, his discoveries at Carnac, 482

Milton, John, _L’Allegro_, quoted, 326;
  _Paradise Lost_, quoted, 335;
  _Comus_, quoted, 452

Milton Lilbourne (Wilts.), 90

Minster (Kent), 79

Miracle plays, development of, 181-3;
  in church, 182-3;
  in the churchyard, 182-3;
  in the market-place, 182

Mirrors, placed in coffins, 310

Mistletoe, 399

Mitcham (Surrey), pre-Saxon cemetery, 247;
  churchyard, 384

Mitchell, Sir A., on discoveries at Alloa, 275

Mithraism, 27

Moated mounds, or mounts, 51, 54;
  St Weonards, 56;
  Thruxton, 56;
  Penwortham, 56, 57;
  Arkholme, 56;
  Warrington, 56, 57

Moats, 52, 66, 67, 89, 98

Molech, worship of, 220

Monasteries, dissolution of, 289

Money, Mr W., 373

Mongolian horse, 413, 416

Monken Hadley (Middlesex), 162

Montaigne, Michel, on annual rings in trees, 369

Montault, Mgr B. de, on orientation of churches, 213

Montelius, Prof. O., on stone-circles, 28;
  Thor’s hammer, 198;
  holy wells, 93;
  amber axes, 299

Montgomerie, Mr D. H., on Pirton Toot Hill, 61

Montgomery, round churches of, 99

Mont St Michel (Brittany), 129

Mont St Michel (Normandy), 129

Moot-hills, 51, 63, 67, 70;
  near churches, 63, 66;
  meaning of word, 63

Moresby (Cumberland), 12

Morocco, burial of suicides in, 358

Morris dances, in church, 184-5, 195;
  meaning of word, 184

Mortillet, M. G. de, on domestication of the horse, 415

Mortimer, Mr J. R., on Duggleby Howe, 66;
  Willy Howe, 66-7;
  mound-crosses, 68;
  Fimber, 78;
  Kilham graves, 248;
  statistics of alinements, 249, 250, 251;
  groups of barrows, 261-2;
  Easington barrow, 274;
  objects found in barrows, 282;
  position of body in the mound, 356;
  remains of the horse in barrows, 417, 419;
  chariot-burial, 430

Morwenstow (Cornwall), 343

Mosaic Law, 436

“Mother Ludlam’s Kettle,” 178

“Motte” and “mota,” 52

Mottes (see Moated mounds)

Mottistone (I. of Wight), 165;
  menhir, 45;
  stocks, 165

Mound-crosses, 68

Mounting blocks, 157, 188

Much Wymondley (Herts.), 7

Mud, Mude, or Mundal Hill, 67

Mules, shoeing of, 423, 423 n., 470

Müller, Max, and the Aryans, 333

Murderers, burial of, 351, 352, 358-9

Murols (Puy de Dôme), 298

Murray, Sir James, on “belfry,” 127;
  “church,” 145-6

Museums, Brighton, 80;
  Colchester, 84;
  Vatican (Rome), 199;
  British, 223, 402;
  Guildhall (London), 272, 424, 425, 426;
  Science and Art (Dublin), 402;
  Natural History, 411;
  Mayence, 428;
  Horniman (London), 441;
  Louth, 462;
  Lewes (Sussex), 463

Musselburgh (Midlothian), 94

Myfyr Morganwg, Arch-Druid, 258

_Names and their Histories_, cited, 32

Nanterre (France), 430

Naogeorgus, Thomas, on markets in churches, 174

Narburgh (Nottingham), 266

Nativity plays, 181

Nave, uses of the, 132, 154, 170-1;
  as warehouse, 171;
  used for markets, 173-4;
  miracle plays in, 182, 183;
  morris dances in, 184

Neale, J. M., on orientation of churches, 224

Neckham, Alexander, on magnetic needle, 228

Necklaces, in graves, 301, 305, 307, 308

“Negative exceptions,” 242, 350

Neilson, Mr G., on castle-mounds, 55

Neolithic celts, 79-80, 197, 298;
  burials, 249, 280, 320;
  yew, 361;
  bows, 387-8;
  horses, 416, 417, 418;
  bone-caves, 417-18;
  oxen, 477, 479, 481

Nero, and shoeing of mules, 423

Netherby (Yorks.), 422

Neville, Rev. H. M., on horseshoes, 426

Newbourne (Suffolk), 343

Newcastle, St Nicholas’ church, 131, 138, 175, 359

New Forest proverb, 360

Newfoundland, 199

Newhaven (Sussex), 465

Newington (Kent), 448

Newlands Corner (Surrey), 407

_New Oxford Dictionary_, cited, 149, 320

New Romney (Kent), 143

Nine Maidens (stone-row), 256

Nordvi, A. G., discoveries in Lapland, 309

Norfolk, hill-digging in, 83;
  round towers, 123;
  orientation of churches, 222;
  burial custom, 311;
  burial on North side, 343, 347

Norham (Northumberland), court held in church, 136;
  churchyard, 345

Norman castles, 52-9;
  churches, 55-6, 57-8, 63, 80, 97, 239;
  cross-bow, 389

Normandy, objects in churches, 203;
  churchyard yews, 406;
  acoustic jars, 447

North, side of churches, 239;
  determination of position by the, 327;
  symbolism of the, 324-38;
  Bible references, 334-5;
  in place-names, 339-40;
  side of churchyards disliked, 341-53

Northam (Devon), 496

Northampton, round church, 99;
  mayor chosen in church, 143;
  fairs in churchyard, 192

North Cockerington (Lincs.), 344

North Cotes (Lincs.), 340

North Curry (Somerset), 230

Northfleet (Kent), 128

North Mimms (Herts.), 384

North Molton (Devon), 41

Northolt (Middlesex), 291

North Ormsby (Lincs.), 453

Northorpe (Lincs.), 165, 189

North side of churchyards, burial on, 341-53, 490;
  headstones, 344-5, 347-8;
  sports held there, 352-3

North Thoresby (Lincs.), 193

Northumberland, burial custom, 297;
  horseshoes, 426;
  ox-team, 461

Norton, as place-name, 339

Norton (Derby), 111

Norton (Worcester), 355

Norway, aerolite tradition, 198;
  folk-medicine, 298;
  settlements, 340;
  rock carvings, 421;
  and horseflesh, 438;
  domestic utensils of, 440-1

Norwich, desecration of churches, 174;
  acoustic jars, 448

_Notes and Queries_, referred to, 158, 342

Notices on church doors, 143

Nunney (Somerset), 115

Nun Ormsby (see North Ormsby)

Nursery rhymes, concerning oxen, 486

Oak, growth of the, 369

Ockham (Surrey), 62

O’Curry, E., on wands of yew, 402

Odin, burial-place of, 28;
  and horseflesh, 438;
  horse-heads offered to, 440;
  and the “hoodening horse,” 441

Offchurch (Warwick), 369

Offerings to the dead, 280, 282, 295

Ogams, or Oghams, 401

Ogbourne Maisey (Wilts.), 75

Ogbury Downs (Wilts.), 320

“Oillets” (= slits in castle walls), 117

Old Hunstanton (Norfolk), 69

_Old Topography of London_, cited, 222-3

Olufsen, O., on burial customs of the Pamirs, 263

Open-air courts, near megaliths, 34, 63, 64, 70, 136;
  near barrows and tumuli, 34, 64, 70;
  in Wales, 64;
  and churches, 150

Open-field system, the, 338

Organs, Mediaeval, 447

Orientation, of graves, 80, 83-4, 205, 243-67, 490;
  meaning of word, 205, 325;
  of churches, 205-42, 489;
  East and West, 205, 207, 208, 211, 219, 337;
  North and South, 206, 207, 208;
  of Freemasons’ lodges, 209;
  origin of idea, 216-24;
  allusions in Bible, 217-20;
  Egyptian, 219, 221;
  symbolism, 223-4;
  theories concerning, 224-37;
  of long barrows, 252;
  of earthworks, 258-9;
  by natural features, 325;
  by the sun, 325;
  of skeletons, 483

Origen, and earth’s centre, 335

Orlygüs, 35

Ornaments in graves, 302-10

Ossian, poems of, quoted, 283, 401, 402, 419

Ossuaries, 270

Ostiarius (= doorkeeper), 149, 154

Ostrich eggs, in churches, 202

Othona (Essex), 23

Ottery St Mary (Devon), 118

Over Worton (Oxford), 75

Ovid, on grave-gifts, 313

Owen, Rev. E., on circular churchyards, 98

Owston (Lincs.), 59

Ox-bells, 475

“Ox-bows,” use of, 461, 462

Oxen, in agriculture, 423;
  blessing of, at Carnac, 446;
  as beast of labour, 452-75, 491;
  in various countries, 452;
  breeds, 453, 455;
  early use in ploughing, 455-60;
  Domesday Book, 455, 456;
  terms referring to, 455, 456;
  Bartholomew Anglicus on, 456;
  formerly yoked with horses at plough, 458;
  number in a team, 458-61;
  yokes, 461-2;
  value of services, 465, 466, 467, 471;
  limitation in use of word, 465;
  value of flesh, 465-6;
  how fed in winter, 466;
  labour value, 466, 467;
  trotting, 467;
  comparison with horses, 467, 470-1;
  discussion on shoeing, 468-74;
  why displaced by the horse, 474-5;
  ancestral forms, 475-81;
  folk-lore, 475, 481-6;
  sacrifice of, 481-2, 483, 484;
  white and black, 483, 485;
  sacrificed at graves, 483;
  as food, 483;
  drawing carriages, 484 n.;
  symbolism of, 485;
  on tavern signs, 485;
  pet names, 486

Oxford, port-moot, 140;
  Movement, 206;
  St Aldate’s church, 232

Oxfordshire, oxen in, 453

Oxgang (= bovata), 456

Ox-herd, in literature, 456;
  duties of, 456

“Ox-kews,” or “cues,” 469, 472, 473

Ox-shoes, 428, 468, 470, 472, 473, 475

Ox-skull, found by Carthaginians, 442;
  in ornament, 451;
  prehistoric, 475, 476

Oystermouth (Glamorgan), church tower, 112;
  burial on North side, 348

Paddington (London), 206

Paddlesworth, near Lyminge (Kent), 40

Paddlesworth, near Snodland (Kent), 40, 339

Paganism, hidden forces of, 88, 312

Pagan sites, churches on, 1-100, 488

Palaeolithic Age, references to the, 305, 308, 414, 416, 437, 439;
  “floor,” 308;
  oxen, 477

_Palaeotherium_, 409

Palestine, 217, 472

Palgrave, Sir F., on persistence of custom, 470

Palmerston, Lord, funeral of, 310

Palm Sunday, singing on, 155;
  sports, 194, 195;
  Bulgarian feast, 318;
  yew displayed, 380, 381, 382, 402, 491;
  fairs, 404

Pamirs, burial customs in the, 263, 318

Pangdean (Sussex), 455

Pantheon, conversion into a church, 30

_Paradise Lost_, quoted, 335

Parchments, inscribed, buried with the dead, 312

Parey Ambrose (= Paré Ambroise), cited, 197

Paris, dancing in churches of, 185;
  churches of, 210;
  laws regarding horseflesh, 438;
  acoustic jars, 447

Parish boundaries, 34, 69;
  registers, 50, 359, 372, 373;
  vestry, 141-3;
  armour, 158

Park cattle, 477, 478, 479

Parker, J. H., on Westminster Abbey, 232;
  deflected chancels, 237

Parsonage-houses, 175, 177

Parthenon, columns of the, 239

Parvise, erroneous use of word, 155, 167

Pasque eggs, 502

Passion plays, 180

Patagonia, burial custom, 432

Pateley Bridge (Yorks.), 258

Patrick, Bishop of the Hebrides, 35

Patron saints, of churches, 129, 191, 224-6

“Paul’s Walk” (St Paul’s Cathedral), 139

Payne, Mr G., discoveries at Darenth, 428

Pearson, Prof., on burial custom, 318

Pebbles, in graves, 286, 288, 299

Peckham (London), 206

Pele, or peel towers, 107

Pembridge (Hereford), 123

Pembrokeshire, holy wells, 94-5;
  churches, 113;
  squints, 151

Pennant Melangel (Montgomery), 199

Pennant, T., his _Tour in Scotland_, cited, 49, 50;
  Welsh burial custom, 331;
  Fortingal yew, 376

Pennington, Canon A. R., on burial superstition, 351

Penny, Charon’s, 296

Penrith (Cumberland), 50, 231

Penwortham (Lancs.), 56, 57

Penzance (Cornwall), 37

Pepys, Samuel, quoted, 400 n.

Pérone, or Péronne (Picardy), 378

Persians, white horses of, 433;
  horse sacrifices, 434

Persistence, of architectural types, 111, 117, 120, 122;
  of custom, 203, 204, 259, 313, 445-6

Peruvians, burial customs, 247

Pessinus (Galatia), 198

Pet names, of oxen, 486

Petrie, Prof. W. M. Flinders, on Addington megaliths, 46

Pews, in churches, 173, 188

Pewsey (Wilts.), feather preserved in church, 201;
  oxen, 453, 473

Philip II, of Macedon, 434

Phillimore, Sir R., his _Ecclesiastical Law_, cited, 213;
  use of coffins, 271

Philology, its aid in archaeology, 145, 270

Piddinghoe (Sussex), 124, 125

Piercebridge (Durham), 464

“Pierres de foudre” (= stone celts), 197

“Pierres de tonnerre” (= stone celts), 197

_Piers the Plowman_ (see _Vision of William_)

Piette, M. É., excavations by, 414

Pilgrims’ Way, 131;
  churches near, 338-9;
  follows the Southern slope, 338;
  yews, 374, 375

Pillory, the, 167

Pine trees, on barrows, 401

Pins, in graves, 295, 310

Pirton (Herts.), church, 41;
  Toot Hill, 60, 64, 70

Pisa (Italy), 216

Pit-burial, 261, 271

Pitt-Rivers, Gen. A. L., on Church Barrow, 30;
  his work in Cranborne Chase, 105;
  Saxon burials, 250;
  “dug-out” coffins, 275;
  objects found in barrows, 282;
  Winkelbury Hill barrow, 285, 406 n.;
  broken pottery in graves, 288,  293;
  charcoal in graves, 290;
  coins in graves, 296;
  fossils found at Rotherly and Woodcuts, 302;
  burning corn on graves, 318;
  ears of corn in grave, 318;
  primitive bows, 388;
  yews in Cranborne Chase, 392;
  horseshoes discovered by, 424, 425;
  hippo-sandals, 428;
  ox-shoe, 468, 469, 470

Place-names, and early Christian settlements, 31, 32, 33, 147;
  and the cardinal points, 339-40;
  and the yew, 403

Plays, in churches, 180-3;
  in churchyards, 181, 182, 183;
  evolution of, 181

Pleurs (France), 248

Pliny, his _Natural History_, cited, 286;
  objects placed in tombs, 294, 310;
  mirrors, 310;
  yew poison, 362, 363;
  burial of horse, 432;
  shoeing camels, 470;
  slaughter of oxen, 483

Ploughing, Domesday terms relating to, 456;
  by horses and oxen, 458;
  composition of team, 458-61

Ploughs, early, 463, 464, 497;
  specimen at Lewes Castle, 463;
  modern, 475

Plumpton (Sussex), position of church, 101;
  sycamore in churchyard, 384

Pluto, and black oxen, 483

Point Croix (Brittany), 202

Poitiers (France), 231, 285, 389

Poland, European bison in, 475, 477

Pole Star, 325

Pollard, Mr A. W., on miracle plays, 183

Ponies, Highland, 413

Pontypridd (Wales), 258

Poppaea, wife of Nero, 423

Porches, church, baptisms and weddings in, 143;
  business, 143, 155-6;
  schools, 152-5;
  fireplaces in, 154;
  chambers, 155;
  stirrup stones at, 157;
  as stables, 157;
  armour, 157, 159, 160

Porchester (Hants.), 13

_Porosphaera globularis_ (= fossil sponge), 305, 306, 307

Portree (I. of Skye), 352

Post Office Guide, cited, 339

“Pot-boilers” (= calcined flints), 288, 292

Pott, A. F., and the Aryans, 333

Pottery in graves, 287, 288-90, 292

Powderham (Devon), 118

Prayer, towards the East, 212, 214, 217, 218;
  towards the sun, 212, 218;
  towards Jerusalem, 218

Prayer Book, first, of Edward I, cited, 156;
  rubric of, 315, 316

Preaching crosses, 353

Prehistoric Society of East Anglia, 79

Prestbury (Glos.), 165

Preuilly-sur-Claise (Touraine), 236

_Prideaux’s Churchwarden’s Guide_, quoted, 187

Priests, attached to holy wells, 94;
  as notaries, 168;
  burial of, 311;
  mares used by, for riding, 436, 457

Priest’s chamber, in church porches, 160

_Proceedings of Cambridge Antiquarian Society_, quoted, 424

Prothero, Mr R. E., on size of ox-team, 459-60

Provence, birthplace of Durandus, 210;
  holm-oak on graves, 401

Proverbs, quoted, 360, 483

Pryce, Mr T. Davies, on castle-mounds, 55

Psalter of Eadwine, 464

Pugin, A. W. N., on deflected chancels, 236-7

Punish (Kent), 40

Puttenham (Surrey), 339

Puxton (Somerset), 141

Pyecombe (Sussex), position of church, 101;
  oxen, 455

Pyramids, orientation of, 221 n.

Pytchley (Northants.), 80, 83, 90

Quakers’ Cemetery, Penzance, 37;
  in Edinburgh, 351

Quarter-ales, 178

Quartz, pieces of, in graves, 299, 309

Quinsext Synod, 186

Radnorshire, sports in churchyards, 197

Rainham (Essex), 168, 169

Ralph de Nevil, letters of, 457

Ramage, Mr C. T., on Fortingal yew, 376

Ramsay, Sir A. C., on “greywethers,” 38

Ramsay, Prof. W. M., on image of Diana, 198

Ramsgate (Kent), 301

Rankin, Mr J., on Branxton churchyard, 355

Raphoe (Donegal), 119

“Raths” (= mounds), 66, 71

Rawlinson, Canon G., on Scythians, 288 n.;
  on capture of wild horses, 414

Read, Dr C. H., on urn-burials, 250 n.

Reader, Mr F. W., on discoveries at Bramber, 78;
  place-name, Canewdon, 201

Reading, morris dances at, 184;
  Anglo-Saxon graves, 431

Reculver (Kent), 4, 20

Redbourn (Lincs.), 59

Red Indians, and horse sacrifice, 436

Reformation, the, 144, 174, 197, 238, 317, 489

Regulbium (= Reculver), 20

Reims, or Rheims, 231, 337

Repton (Derby), crypt, 148;
  armour in church porch, 159

Resurrection, the, influence of doctrine, 263, 318;
  and teeth superstition, 322;
  symbolized by yew, 398

Reusens, E. H. J., on orientation, 224

Reversion of custom, 275, 277, 278-9

Reymerstone (Norfolk), 347

Rhaetia, horse-head superstition, 440

Rham, W. L., on the ox-team, 460;
  ox-yoke, 462;
  on ancient cultivation, 497

Rhŷs, Sir J., on “cronks,” 71;
  holy springs in Wales, 94, 332;
  Irish magicians, 401

Ribchester (Lancs.), 23

Riccal (Yorks.), 173

Ridgeway, Prof. W., on early horses, 416-17, 420;
  Kalmucks, 419;
  Herodotus, 419;
  Irish epics, 419;
  shoeing of horses, 424

Rievaulx Abbey (Yorks.), orientation, 208;
  cartulary, 459

Right and left, determination of position by, 326-8

Ringmer (Sussex), 455, 462

Rings, in graves, 310

Rings, of trees, 364, 365, 366-9

Ripon cathedral, 138, 216 n.

Ritual of Brixen, 317

Rivenhall (Essex), 11

Robert de Brunne, cited, 319

Robin Hood, guilds, 160;
  and Maid Marian, 441, 442 n.

Robin Hood’s Cave (Derby), 412

Rochdale (Lancs.), 104

Rochester (Kent), 187

Rock, Dr Daniel, on Saxon churches, 211;
  orientation of churches, 211, 213;
  churches in Rome, 214;
  “leaning-head theory,” 236;
  use of coffins, 277;
  combs in ritual, 311;
  St Cuthbert’s tomb, 312;
  yews, 398;
  Saxon churches, 404

Rock-basins, 36

Rock-carvings, 421, 481

Rock-shelters, 411

Rodmell (Sussex), horse-chestnut in churchyard, 384;
  mulberries, 394;
  oxen, 455;
  ancient plough, 463;
  ox-yoke, 462

Rogate (Hants.), 91

Rogers, J. E. Thorold, on use of church as garrison, 118, 496;
  size of churches, 134;
  cost of keeping horses and oxen, 466;
  shoeing oxen, 470, 471

Roman Catholic churches, orientation of, 207, 208

Romanesque churches, 216

Romano-British churches, 3, 9, 150, 495;
  shrines at Silchester, 24;
  graves, 288, 296, 357;
  ears of corn in graves, 318;
  villages, 403;
  horseshoes, 424, 428;
  jars, 448;
  ox-shoes, 468

Roman villas, 5, 6, 8, 9, 95, 428;
  cemeteries, 7, 248;
  pavements, 7, 8, 9;
  altar, 7;
  camps, 11, 12, 13, 87, 97;
  miscellaneous remains, 69, 81, 83, 468;
  schools, 154;
  coffins, 271-3, 274;
  coins, 273;
  grave-gifts, 283, 294, 296;
  funeral customs, 294, 318, 319, 323, 383, 401;
  augurs, 326, 327;
  urn, 399;
  horseshoes, 423, 424, 425;
  chariot-races, 440 n.;
  acoustic jars, 447;
  theatres, 447;
  ploughs, 464;
  oxen, 478-9, 480, 481

Rome, orientation of churches, 207, 212, 214, 215, 216;
  liturgical custom, 215, 312, 316, 337;
  oxen near, 468;
  oracles, 482

Romford (Essex), 454

Rood-screens, removal of, 233, 238

Roos (Yorks.), 107, 108

Roseneath (Dumbarton), 372

Rotherly (Wilts.), 302, 403

Rottingdean (Sussex), churchyard, 90;
  foxes’ heads on door, 443

Rouen, 237

Round, Dr J. H., on castle-mounds, 55, 57, 59;
  Domesday Book, 375 n.;
  ox-team, 458, 458 n.

Round towers, of Ireland, 118-22;
  description, 118-20;
  stages of development, 119, 120;
  theories concerning, 120-2

Roundway Down (Wilts.), 402 n.

Royal Arms, in churches, 144

Royston (Yorks.), 131

Royston, Rev. P., on Rudstone menhir, 43

Rubrics, of Missal, 213;
 of Prayer Book, 316

Rudstone (Yorks.), menhir, 43, 44;
  meaning of name, 43;
  barrow, 417

Rugby (Warwick), 111

Ruined churches, 13, 31, 38, 42

Runic inscription, on sundial, 162;
  and archery, 387

_Rural Rides_, Cobbett’s, quoted, 91, 133

Rushmere (Suffolk), 124

Rushmore (Wilts.), 468, 469, 470

Russia, white horses of, 433;
  acoustic jars, 447

Rylston (Yorks.), 278

Ryton (Durham), 76

Saben, Rev. P., on Alphamstone discoveries, 84

Sacellum, 12, 495

Sacred trees, 28, 400;
  springs, 92-7;
  heads, 440, 442, 443

Sacrificial animals, 321

Saddlescombe (Sussex), 455

Saeters (= settlements), 340

Sagarthians, horses of the, 414

Sage, planted on graves, 400

St Agnes’ Well (Somerset), 95

St Alban, martyr, 4

St Albans cathedral, Roman remains, 4;
  watching loft, 126

St Alban’s Head (Dorset), 127, 128

St Aldhelm’s Chapel (Dorset), 127, 128

St Aldhelm’s Well (Somerset), 95

St Anne’s Hill (Sussex), 15

St Audrey’s Fair, 192

St Augustine (= Aurelius Augustinus), 328

St Augustine, or Austin, his mission, 26;
  holy well, 96

St Basil, on turning to the East, 212;
  building towards the East, 224

St Benoît (Paris), church of, 210

St Bertrand-de-Comminges (Haute-Garonne), 201

St Beuno, sacrifice of oxen to, 482

St Boniface, letter to, 437;
  forbids sacrifices of oxen, 482

St Budeaux (Devon), 118

St Catherine’s (Westminster), 223

St Chad’s Well (Lichfield), 95

St Christopher’s “ribbe bone,” 200

St Chrysostom, 262

St Clement’s Well (London), 96

St Columb Major (Cornwall), 256

St Columba, 119

St Cornély, “Pardon” of, 482

St Cubert (Cornwall), 37

St Cuthbert, 262;
  burial of, 311, 312

“St Cuthbert’s beads” (= portions of fossil encrinites), 308

St Decumen’s Well (Somerset), 95

St Denis (France), 431

St Dennis (Cornwall), 15

St Dominic of Ossory, 395

St Edmund the King (London), church, 207

St Elian’s Well (Denbigh), 94

St Eloi, offerings to, 301

Ste Marie du Castel (Guernsey), 34

St Ethelwold, Bishop, 211

St Felix, 242

St Florence, Vale of, 113

St Frideswide, and the ox, 485

St Fursey, or Furseus, founds church at Burghcastle, 11

St Gall, burial of, 434-5;
  monks of, 437-8

St George’s Cathedral (London), 207