Page images
PDF
EPUB

skulls, ribs, jaws, thigh-bones, and teeth, with fresh impressions of their combustion. Besides the extraneous substances, like pieces of small boxes, or combs handsomely wrought, handles of small brass instruments, brazen nippers, and in one some kind of opale. (27)

Near the same plot of ground, for about six yards compass were digged up coals and incinerated substances, which begat conjecture that this was the ustrina (8) or place of burning their bodies, or some sacrificing place unto the manes, which was properly below the surface of the ground, as the aræ and altars unto the gods and heroes above it.

That these were the urns of Romans, (29) from the common costume and place where they were found, is no obscure conjecture, not far from a Roman gar

(27) In one sent me by my worthy friend Dr. Thomas Witherly, of Walsingham.

This opale stone appears to have been a crystal globe, which is frequently discovered in barrows and urns. Vide Nania. Or perhaps glass beads.-DOUGLAS.

66

(28) The ustrina, or place where the dead were burned, was often situated in cemeteries, in the immediate vicinity of the tombs, as appears from several inscriptions: "Huic monumento ustrinum applicari non licet." And again, “ ad hoc monumentum ustrinum applicari non licet." Frequently, however, a different practice prevailed; the body was burned in one place, and interred in another, as in the case of Julius Cæsar. Dion. 1. xliv. The meaning of ustrinum, or ustrina, for both forms were in use, is thus explained by an ancient Glossary: ustrina, πVρкaïkȧ: ustrina, καῦστρα νεκρῶν.-ED.

(29) Unless this spot was near the station, that is, a few hundred yards from it, it is impossible that it could be the Roman station. Its distance from Brancaster proves it not to be a Roman burial-place, but, in my opinion, a British one, contemporary with the Romans.-DOUGLAS.

rison, and but five miles from Brancaster, set down by ancient record under the name of Brannodunum. And where the adjoining town, containing seven parishes, in no very different sound, but Saxon termination, still retains the name of Burnham, which being an early station, it is not improbable the neighbour parts were filled with habitations, either of Romans themselves, or Britons Romanised, which observed the Roman customs.

Nor is it improbable that the Romans early possessed this country; for though we meet not with such strict particulars of these parts, before the new institution of Constantine, and military charge of the count of the Saxon shore, and that about the Saxon invasions, the Dalmatian horsemen were in the garrison of Brancaster; yet in the time of Claudius, Vespasian, and Severus, we find no less than three legions dispersed through the province of Britain. And as high as the reign of Claudius a great overthrow was given unto the Iceni, by the Roman lieutenant Ostorius. Not long after the country was so molested, that in hope of a better state, Prastagus bequeathed his kingdom unto Nero and his daughters; and Boadicea, his queen, fought the last decisive battle with Paulinus. After which time and conquest of Agricola the lieutenant of Vespasian, probable it is they wholly possessed this country, ordering it into garrisons or habitations, best suitable with their securities. And so some Roman habitations not improbable in these parts, as high as the time of Vespasian, where the

Saxons after seated,(30) in whose thin-filled maps we yet find the name of Walsingham. Now if the Iceni were but Gammadims, Anconians, or men that lived in an angle, wedge, or elbow of Britain, according to the original etymology, this country will challenge the emphatical appellation, as most properly making the elbow or iken of Icenia.

That Britain was notably populous is undeniable, from that expression of Cæsar;(1) that the Romans themselves were early in no small numbers, seventy thousand with their associates, slain by Boadicea, affords a sure account. And though not many Roman habitations are now known, yet some by old works, rampiers, coins, and urns do testify their possessions. Some urns have been found at Castor, some also about Southcreek, and not many years past, no less than ten in a field at Buxton, (3) not near any recorded garrison. Nor is it strange to find Roman coins, of copper and silver, among us; of Vespasian, Trajan, Adrian, Commodus, Antoninus, Severus, &c. But the greater number of Dioclesian, Constantine, Constans, Valens, with many of Victorinus Posthumius, Tetricus, and the thirty tyrants in the reign of Gallienus; and some as high as Adrianus have

(30) Saxon burial-place before Christianity. The same near Salisbury Plain. This mode (of burying in urns) prevailed among all the northern nations.-DOUGLAS.

(31) Hominum est infinita multitudo, creberrimaque ædificia ferè Gallicis consimilia. Cæs. de Bello Gal. 1. v. § 12.

(32) In the ground of my worthy friend Robert Jegon, Esq. wherein some things contained were preserved by the most worthy Sir William Paston, Bart.

been found about Thetford, or Sitomagus, mentioned in the itinerary of Antoninus, as the way from Venta or Castor unto London. (33) But the most frequent discovery is made at the two Casters by Norwich and Yarmouth,(") at Burghcastle and Brancaster.(35)

Besides, the Norman, Saxon and Danish pieces of Cuthred, Canutus, William, Matilda, (3) and others, some British coins of gold have been dispersedly found; and no small number of silver pieces near Norwich ;(3) with a rude head upon the obverse, and an ill-formed horse on the reverse, with inscriptions Ic. Duro. T. whether implying Iceni, Durotriges, Tascia, or Trinobantes, we leave to higher conjecture. Vulgar chronology will have Norwich castle as old as Julius Cæsar; but his distance from these parts, and its Gothic form of structure, abridgeth such antiquity. The British coins afford conjecture of early habitation in these parts, though the city of Norwich arose from the

(33) From Castor to Thetford the Romans accounted thirtytwo miles, and from thence observed not our common road to London, but passed by Combretonium ad Ansum, Canonium, Cæsaromagus, &c. by Bretenham, Coggeshall, Chelmsford, Brentwood, &c.

(34) Most at Caster by Yarmouth, found in a place called Eastbloody-burgh Furlong, belonging to Mr. Thomas Wood, a person of civility, industry and knowledge in this way, who hath made observation of remarkable things about him, and from whom we have received divers silver and copper coins.

(35) Belonging to that noble gentleman, and true example of worth, Sir Ralph Hare, Bart., my honoured friend.

(36) A piece of Maud, the Empress, said to be found in Buckenham Castle, with this inscription, Elle n'a elle.

(37) At Thorpe.

P

ruins of Venta, and though perhaps not without some habitation before, was enlarged, builded, and ⚫ nominated by the Saxons. In what bulk or populosity it stood in the old East-angle monarchy, tradition and history are silent. Considerable it was in the Danish eruptions, when Sueno burnt Thetford and Norwich, (38) and Ulfketel, the governor thereof, was able to make some resistance, and after endeavoured to burn the Danish navy.

How the Romans left so many coins in countries of their conquests seems of hard resolution, except we consider how they buried them underground, when upon barbarous invasions they were fain to desert their habitations in most part of their empire, and the strictness of their laws forbidding to transfer them to any other uses; wherein the Spartans (39) were singular, who, to make their copper money useless, contempered it with vinegar.(°) That the Britons left any some wonder; since their money was iron, and iron rings before Cæsar;(11)

(38) Brampton Abbas Jornallensis.

(39) Plut. in vita Lycurg.

(40) The Romans may have adopted that use, and this may account for so many coins, which are found entirely destroyed by verdigrease.-DOUGLAS.

(4) Remark, that Cæsar only made a fugitive conquest, and to judge by the old British coins found in this island, we may suppose they were stricken before Cæsar's conquest.-DOUGLAS. In truth Cæsar never conquered the island at all. He merely made the discovery that, by bringing the forces of Rome to bear upon it, it might be subdued. For himself, so far from defeating the Britons, he was clearly driven out of the country, though he had not the candour to acknowledge it. Tacitus, in fact, observes, that he merely pointed out the island to his successors:

« PreviousContinue »