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The unanimous thanks of the whole body of British Archaeologists are due to Mr. Petrie for the splendid display of antiquarian taste and learning made in his pages.
2. Delineations of Roman Antiquities found at Caerleon (The ancient. ISCA SILURUM,) and the neighbourhood. By John Edward Lee. London: Longmans, 1845. 4to. pp. 54.
Though short, this work is one of the best that has appeared in this country for many years upon Roman antiquities. The author does not profess to go into any disquisitions upon the discoveries made at Caerleon, nor on the objects found there; but merely gives an account of the place itself, and of what has been brought to light. The account is, what Cowper says all narratives should be,
—“judicious, clear, succinct,
The chief attraction and value of the book, however, lies in the illustrations—twenty-seven plates in all, and in the minutely-detailed explanations that are given for each plate. They are executed in the best style of lithography, and, the plate of inscriptions in particular, may be cited as models of what such illustrations should be. The list of coins, supplied by a friend of the author's, gives much additional interest and value to the work. The extracts given below will afford a good notion of the nature of the book, and of the author's style. We find in Caerleon a case parallel to that of Caernarvon and Segontium; and our observations made above with regard to the latter place will apply, with equal justice, to the former. Both North and South Wales have thus had each a focus of Roman civilization within their limits. Are the venerable remains of these ancient cities to be for ever neglected or destroyed ?
The knowledge which we possess of the history of Caerleon under the Romans is very scanty indeed: in fact, it rests more on the antiquities which are found there, than on actual historical records. There can, however, be no doubt, that for a long series of years it was the residence of the second Augustan legion, which, from its protracted stay in our island, obtained also the name of Britannica. It also appears, from the terms in which the town is mentioned by writers of the middle ages, that it had been and still was a place of very considerable note. Giraidus Cambrenis speaks of it in the most pompous language ; and it has been shown by Usher and Bingham, that in the early ages it was the metropolitan see of Wales; in after-times the archiepiscopal seat was transferred to St. David's. Caerleon appears to have had several names: in the Itinerary of Antoninus it is called ISCE LEGVA AVGVSTI, evidently a corruption of Isca Legionis secunda, Augustae: it was also called Isca Augusta and Isca Silurum. he word Isca occurs also in the ancient name of Exeter, Isca Damnoniorum : it is in fact the British word Wysg with a Roman termination, and signifies that the place was situated on the banks of a stream.; the word is still preserved in the name of the Usk, the river on which Caerleon is situated. Mr. King has pointed out to me, that on a coin of Postumus, given by Mionnet and Bandurius, the modern mode of spelling the word is made use of; thus, EXERCITVS, VSC. Mr. Akerman also reads it in the same manner: it is singular that Spanheim, who refers to §§* coin, copies the legend EXERCITVS ISC, and Vaillant, EXERCITVS The modern name of Caerleon is generally supposed to have been derived from Caer, the British word for a camp or fortified city, and leon, a corruption of legionum, thus making it “the city of legions,” and this o: the more probable from its having been frequently mentioned under this title by the writers of the middle ages. But this derivation, as we are informed by Mr. Coxe, is denied by Owen, a famous Welsh scholar, who considers the correct spelling to be Caer-llion, or “the city of waters,” a name by no means inapplicable, for, when viewed from an eminence, the town appears almost surrounded by the winding river Usk, and its tribu streams. The s of the ancient fortress may be traced very distinctly, partly by the remains or. actual walls, and partly by an elevated ridge formed from their ruins. Like most other Roman encampments, it appears to have been nearly a square, with the angles rounded, and with an entrance near the middle of each side. That to the south west led into a road, now called the Broadway, and very probably to a ford over the river. Till within a short period, the ground on both sides of the road was a common pasture, and was found to contain such abundance of stones, from the ruined buildings of the suburbs, that the quarrying of it for many years formed a remunerating employment for the labourers of the town. Many antiquities were consequently brought to light, but it is mortifying to state, that by far the ater part have been lost, scattered, or destroyed. , Caerleon might have possessed a §: more excellent local collection of Roman antiquities than is now to be found there, but the opportunity was lost, and probably maynever occur again. (pp. 1–3.) on'the hilisiit still nearer Caerleon is another place of burial; urns have been repeatedly found there, and not long since five or six were discovered at one time. As usual, the contents were ashes and burnt bones; but it is said that no coins were sound in them: the whole of the urns were of coarse pottery, and within one of them was found a smaller vessel of the same material, probably a lachrymatory; they all fell to pieces on exposure to the air. In two instances the urn was deposited in a conditorium of large tiles, marked, as is frequently the case, with checkered scorings, and forming a square vault just large enough to contain it. Even where there was no vault, it appears that a flat stone was placed above the urn, in order to protect it in some measure from injury; and sometimes this stone was inscribed, as is proved by the fragment drawn Plate XXVI. Fig. 3, which evidently is part of a sepulchral inscription for some person aged seventeen or eighteen years. In the course of the last summer, a large portion of the field in which these urns were found was dug up, chiefly with a view to further discoveries, but the search was unsuccessful; the fragments of a single cinerary vessel being all that was obtained. Almost the whole of this hill appears to have been appropriated to sepulchral oses; for immediately behind that part of Caerleon commonly called “the Village,” but which has not yet quite lost the name of Ultra Pontem, several urns of smaller dimensions were found some years ago, all containing burnt bones and ashes: their shape was that of a small bell glass for gardening purposes; the material was a black or dark coloured ware; they also fell to pieces onexposure. (pp. 6–7.)
3. Monumenta Antiqua; or the Stone Monuments of Antiquity yet remaining in the British Isles. By R. WeaveR. 1 vol. 8vo. pp. 199. London: J. B. Nichols and Son. 1840.
In this work the author, who is evidently well versed in subjects of British antiquity, endeavours to prove that the various remains, such as cromlechs, circles of stone, &c., still found abundantly in Wales and other parts of Great Britain and Ireland, had not only a religious character attached to their destination, but that they had also a decidedly Eastern origin. He dwells much upon the intercourse kept up by the Phoenicians with Britain, and compares the description of stones of memorial, &c., found in the Sacred Scriptures with the monuments now before our eyes on our plains and mountains. Although differing in opinion from the author upon various points which he maintains, we are too well aware of how much time has been consumed in theorizing on points, so obscure as those connected with early British monuments, to enter into controversy on the subject. The recent discoveries of Mr. Lukis, and others, are only now beginning to throw light upon these venerable monuments of our forefathers, of the very name and intent of which we have as yet no certain knowledge.
Mr. Weaver goes at considerable length into an examination of Stonehenge, comments with great learning upon the monument itself, and revises with care the various labours of his predecessors. The following passage will give a good idea of the author's views, and also of his general style, which are calculated to attract the attention of many readers: —
We conceive, then, that Stonehenge was a place of general assembly of the states and inhabitants of Britain, for the celebration of their public religious festivals, for the inauguration of their kings, and for general councils; that it was built by the direction of the Druidical priesthood as originally Phoenician, under the patronage of the British states; and that the stones were conveyed and the building was constructed by the use of rollers, &c. Moreover, that, besides the area or court, and the trench, the barrows are connected with it; and that these latter are buryingplaces of the honoured dead. Whether this general view of the subject be founded in Fo perhaps will best appear by an attention to its several particulars, and that in their order. First. We conceive it was a place of general assembly of the states and inhabitants of Britain, for the celebration of their public religious festivals. From time immemorial it has been the custom of nations to hold religious festivals at stated seasons. So it was with the ancient nation of Israel. Thrice a year all their males, princes and priests, elders and people, assembled at the place of sacrifice, and offered their solemn sacrifices, viz. at the feast of unleavened bread, at the feast of weeks, and at the feast of tabernacles; and very much akin to this was the custom of the British Isles to assemble together in the calends of May, at midsummer in June, and at the beginning of November. As did Israel, so did the Britons combine with these feasts the offering of sacrifices; and hence we call them religious festivals. There they sacrificed to their gods, sung their praises, and made their orations or prayers, as was the custom among the nations of Greece and Rome, and others. Perhaps we shall not err if we say, that at Stonehenge there were, on certain occasions, meetings of the inhabitants of the British Isles for the worship of the sun and heavenly bodies. And why should not Stonehenge be a place of general assembly for public idolatrous worship ! The place itself is admirably suited to it. The vast plain is a }. on which it is almost impossible to tread without feeling some sort of awe of im, who made the heaven above and the earth around ; and if they worshipped the sun, as we shall presently see they did, where would they find a more eligible spot But the circles of stones form an argument in favour of the supposition ; for there is satisfactory evidence that circles of stones were commonly placed for the purposes of worship in all the British Isles. Many of them remain in England even until now ; and, as observed before, in the Highlands of Scotland they not only remain, but are called “Clachan,” which, in Gaelic, actually signifies a place of worship ; and to this day they use the phrase, “Are you going to,” or “Are you come from the stones 3", when they mean, “Are you going to,” or “Are you coming from the church " Neither can any purpose be assigned so satisfactory for those numerous circular stone monuments of antiquity that are to be found in England and Wales, and Scotland and Ireland : while, if you consider the practice of erecting them for such purposes as originally introduced from those ps. territories that border on the Land of Israel, according to our last chapter, it is very easy to account for such structures, and as erected for such a purpose. (p.p. 107–113.)
4. The Pagan Altar. By R. WEAver. — The author of the foregoing work has also published this, in which he takes a review of the state of relis gion in this island previous to the introduction of Christianity, and giveseveral long dissertations on the effect which this great change in religious opinions had upon the feelings and manners of the people. It is not our intention to ol. Mr. Weaver into his disquisitions upon this subject, which does not lie within the province of the Archaeologia Cambrensis; but we will observe that he displays in this, as in the other work, both learning and depth of reading. The o: extracts, relating to the Culdees, will be found interesting by archaeologists: —
These monasteries, then, were most probably both retreats from persecution, and seminaries of religion and learning ; and it is not at all improbable that the former led to the establishment and advancement of the latter. #. mind, oppressed with the afflictions of the times, sought its relief in religious and literary pursuits. And we concur with Jamieson, in his “History of the Culdees,” who says, “Their great design was, by communicating instruction, to train up others for the work of the ministry. Hence it has been justly observed that they may more properly be viewed as colleges, in which the various branches of useful learning were taught, than as monasteries. These societies, therefore, were in fact the seminaries of the church, both in North Britain, and in Ireland.” The reader may now form some idea of these Culdees—of Columba, their chief leader— of Iona, their principal seat—and of their extensive influence. And it is worthy of remark that, as Jamieson informs us, until now, “the memory of Columba is by no means lost, even in the Highlands of Scotland. A Highlandman about to set out on a journey, thus expresses his wish for Divine protection: Gilli Chalumchilli ghar pilli, agus ghar liaunda;" i.e. “May the servant of Columba of the cell protect ofbring me safe home.” . This invocation is especially used by Roman Catholics. And “Claich Icholmkilli” is the name given to a small pebble, brought from the shore of Iona; that is, “the stone of Icolmkill.” Stones of this description are still worn by Catholics as amulets. They are sometimes set in silver, and suspended over the heart. Dr. Jamieson, as another proof of the celebrity of Columba, mentions (p.20) the following churches as memorials of his name. Kilcolmkill, in Morven; the same in South Cantire ; in Mull; in Isla island; on the north-west of Isla island; in North Uist ; in Benbeula.; in Skye; in Sutherland ; Columbkill, in Lanark; Columbkill Isle, in Loch ; Erisport, in Lewis; Columbkill Isle, in Loch Columkill, whereon there are the remains of a monastery dedicated to St. Columba. Many other parishes are dedicated to St. Columba. (pp. 167–169.)
5. A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Welshmen. By the Rev. Robert WILLIAMs, M.A. 8vo. Part I.
This is the opening part of a work that promises to be highly useful in elucidating the history of the Principality, and which, when completed, will be a standard book of reference on the subject. The author draws his information from sources of the best authority, many of them not lying within the reach of the ordinary reader; and, while he has condensed his information in a clear, forcible, manner, he preserves, at the same time, great freedom and elegance of diction. We subjoin the following extracts as good specimens of this work: —
ANEURIN, one of the most celebrated of our poets, lived in the early part of the sixth century. He was the son of Caw, lord of Cwm Cawlwyd. About the year 540, the fatal battle of Cattraeth was fought between the Britons and Saxons when the former were defeated with such slaughter, that out of three hundred and sixty three British chieftains, three only, of whom Aneurin was one, escaped with their lives. He was afterwards taken prisoner, loaded with chains, and thrown into a dungeon, from which he was released by Ceneu, a son of Llywarch Hén. The disastrous battle of Cattraeth caused the migration of numbers of the Northern Britons to their kindred race in Wales, and Aneurin is said to have found a refuge at the famous college of Cattwg, in South Wales, where, about A.D. 570, he was treacherously slain by one Eiddin. (Myv. Arch. ii. 65.) The battle of Cattraeth is the subject of a noble heroic poem by Aneurin, which is still extant, and the authenticity of which has been indisputably proved by Sharon Turner, in his “Vindication of the ancient British poems.” 8vo, London, 1803. This great poem is entitled the Gododin, from the Ottadini, which was the name of that tribe of Britons to which Aneurin belonged. . It contains 920 lines of varied measure, but all in rhyme, and it is printed in the first volume of the Myyyrian Archaiology. Another poem, being stanzas on the months of the year, entitled “Englynion y Misoedd,” is preserved in the same collection. Dr. Owen Pughe, in his Cambrian Biography, advances some arguments to prove that Aneurin and Gildas were the same person. It appears that they are both reckoned among the children of Caw in our old manuscripts, but both do not occur as such in the same lists; for where Aneurin's name is inserted, Gildas is omitted, and where Gildas occurs, the other is left out. It is certain that Gildas is not a British name, but in fact a Saxon translation of Aneurin, according to a practice that was common in the middle ages. The various ways in which the names are written, Gilda, Gildas y Coed Aur, Åur
Coed Aur, and Aneurin § Coed Aur, all of similar signification, confirm their identity. Cetydd a son, and Uvelwyn a grandson of Gildas, are sometimes called the son and grandson of Aneurin. It is clear that the Welsh genealogists have always considered the names Gildas and Aneurin convertible. The animosity, however, with which Gildas speaks of the bards, seems to militate against this opinion, and the monkish writers of the life of Gildas distinctly assert, that he embraced the sacred profession from an early age, which statement is also quite at variance with the warlike character of Aneurin. (See Gildas.) The following works may be consulted with advantage on this subject; Dr. Owen Pughe's Cambrian Biography, Turner's Vindication, Davies's Mythology of the Druids, Parry's Cambrian Platarch, and Rees's Welsh Saints.
BELI, king of Britain, was the eldest son of Dyvnwal Moelmud, upon whose death a violent contest arose between him and his brother Brân, which was appeased after much disturbance by the sage counsels of the nobles; and it was agreed that the kingdom should be divided between the brothers, Beli having South Britain, and Brån all to the north of the Humber, subject to the paramount authority of Beli. They rested thus for five years, when Brân sought in marriage the daughter of the king of Llychlyn, that he might obtain aid against his brother, upon which Beli crossed the Humber and jo possession of his cities, and castles, and also defeated the foreign forces which Brân had brought with him. Beli, being now sovereign of all Britain, put in order the affairs of his government, and more especially attended to the formation of roads across the country, which when completed he ordered to be made sacred, and conferred upon them a privilege of refuge. After some years of repose he had again to meet his |. who had brought over a large body of troops from Gaul, but on the eve of the battle a reconciliation was effected through the means of their mother. In the following year the two brothers invaded Gaul, and defeated all that opposed them, whence they proceeded to Rome, having subdued all the intervening countries. The Romans were glad to buy them off with a large sum of money, and the promise of an annual tribute, giving twentyfour hostages for the performance of the treaty. From Rome they turned to Germany, but finding that the Romans were sending assistance to the Germans, they returned to Rome, and after a siege, they took the city, and Brân remained as emperor of Rome. Beli returned to Britain, which he ruled in peace for the remainder of his life. He built Caerlleon ar Wysg, and also a magnificent gate in London, from him called Belingsgate : over this he erected a high tower, and when he died, his body was burned, and the ashes were put into a gold vessel curiously wrought, which was then placed on the summit. Such is the substance of the account given in the Welsh Bruts, printed in the second volume of the Myvyrian Archaiology.
6. Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Abergavenny. By John WHITE. 8vo. pp. 88. Morgan: 1845.
This little volume, which, for the valuable matter it contains, and the able manner in which it is got up, we could wish to see swelling into the proportions of a goodly 4to, is a contribution to Welsh antiquities, for which the archaeological public ought to be really thankful. The book opens with the history of the town and castle; the antiquities and public buildings are then described; the biography of remarkable personages, connected with the place, follows; and the author afterwards leads us most agreeably round the antiquities of the neighbourhood. Although in a county j, reckoned as an English one, Abergavenny is essentially a Welsh town, just as Monmouthshire itself belongs to the Principality, by its people, its language, and its national features, rather than to ... Hence this district closely concerns all Welsh antiquarians; and we can assure them, that few parts of the country will better repay the trouble of an archaeological visit.
In speaking of the castle of Abergavenny, Mr. White says, –
It is probable that after the Romans left the island this spot was occupied as a fortified post by the Britons. The present is evidently a style of building subsequent to the Norman era. There is a tradition that Abergavenny Castle originally was built by a giant named Argross, and this serves to prove its extreme antiquity as a fortress, though said to be founded so late as the Norman Conquest, by Hammeline de Balun, or Balodun, whom Camden calls the first Lord of Abergavenny, whose father, Dru de Balodin, was one of those Norman adventurers who came over with William, and who, under the political system of that wily monarch, were permitted to war and to endeavour to subdue : last indigenous spark of freedom.