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from whose reign they dated the knowledge of all civil, but more especially, all sacred, rites. His laws were the basis of King Alfred's” ........ “IIe has the repute of being founder of those two antient buildings in the West, Malmesbury and The Vyes, the first having the stamp of his name yet upon it."
Then as to the theory which sheds on the early history of the castle the lustre of Alfred's name. While it is quite possible that mere oral report was the only basis for the firm belief which both Walker and Hearne appear to have entertained, the case seems one of those in which the probable presses very closely on the certain. Tradition, even when not the exact truth, generally has a basis of truth. For an ancient road in this direction we can at all events adduce respectable evidence, for one of the boundaries defined in the charter of Roger de Paveley mentioned in the History of Bremhill, page 110, is a road passing from Studley to Devizes, which was called an “antient way” even in the time of Edward I, and which Mr. Bowles hesitates not to designate “tho old Roman road to Devizes.” The words in the charter are “Totam illam partem quæ est subtus viam antiquam quæ tendit a Stodleia ad Divisas.” Besides, we are repeatedly told that Bishop Roger's castle was only a "re-edification” of a former structure; and, perhaps, the most decisive testimony to the truth of this statement, exists in the nature of the earthworks in and around the castle, evidence of more force, indeed, to our ancestors than to ourselves, so much have these works been degraded by the combined agency of. time, of operations during the civil war, and of the modern process of levelling. In spite of all these changes, the huge central mound still points to a period long prior to the system of castrametation introduced by the Norman conquerors, who delighted far more in masonry than in embankment.
“I will say nothing,” remarks Asser, “of the Castles which Alfred ordered to be built, but which, being begun late, were
never finished; because the hostile troops broke in upon them by land and sea, and they who had thwarted the King's commands repented when it was too late." ...... “But while his ministers thus neglected his commands, preferring with true Saxon blood to meet their enemies in an open field, the King himself zealously discharged such offices as came within his own personal supervision, and restored the dilapidated towns and cities to more than their former condition.”
Sir John Spelman also adds, “Neither were his reparations notable in regard only of their greatness and universality. They were also of an extraordinary kind, both in regard of the materials and of the new manner; for when the walls of towns and castles were but wood and combustible, as we may see by those of York and Rochester that they generally then were, stone buildings were very rare till Alfred made them more frequent.” Steinitz's 'Life of Alfred'. 203.
It is proper to remark that the unearthing in Devizes Green of the large collection of Penates, or household gods, found in 1714, as well as of other Roman relics, has been regarded by many as indicative of Roman settlement on the spot. Dr. Davies disputes this inference, believing that the persons who thus hid their treasures would have chosen fields more distant from habitations. The point is at least open to discussion.
In explanation of some of the conflicting facts of the case, may not the following hypothesis be accepted?—That previous to the existence of Devizes-proper, a Roman villa standing on the site of Southbroom House constituted the nucleus of a group of houses forming a suburb to the municipium, now known as Bishops Cannings,—that immediately beyond these limits a new town having sprung up became subject to Alfred's fostering care, and the site of one of those numerous castles which he began to build but could not induce his nobles to complete,—and that this unfinished fabric subsequently formed the foundation of Bishop Roger's magnificent pile?
But what are we to make of the name,-a plural word, generally bearing the form Divisæ-arum ? On this point Canon Jackson says, "Towards determining the real origin of the name of this town the following testimony drawn from other counties may be useful. “Thence he, [Sir Tho. Fairfax), passed to Thorne, [in Yorkshire], and then across the Devises of Hatfield to Crowle”. This, says Mr. Hunter, is the single instance in which I have found the word Devises applied to these lands. It means no more than border lands, and is in fact the Latin word Divisas with an English form given to it. [South Yorkshire, I. 174]. In the book of the priory of Bath, in Lincoln's Inn Library, No. XLIV. Art. 4. is mention of lands between the “Divisas de Corston, [near Bath], and Wansdyke.”!
Accepting this explanation of the meaning of the word, and admitting that the proximity of such a vast territorial boundary as the Wansdyke strengthens the possibility that we are in the neighbourhood of border or debateable ground, we still find ourselves in presence of a difficulty arising from the absence of any positive historic guide as to the era when such lands were likely to be the subject of debate. Kemble's account of Folk-land and the Marches hardly meets our case; nor, I fear, would an elaborate investigation of the various provinces into which the island has from time to time been parcelled out, much advance the object in view. It may, perhaps, be worth just hinting, that the space between Devizes and the Wansdyke is principally occupied by the two Cannings; and it has already been suggested in a former History of Devizes that Kannings may originally have borne the same meaning as Divisæ. In Danish old books, Kantning is constantly used to signify edge, border, selvage, coast-side, from the verb Kante to edge. It is the Danish language from which, far more than from the Saxon, our own is derived,
1 See notes to Leland's Journey through Wilts. Wilts Magazine, ii. 180.
and it may here be remarked that it is the Danish alone which explains the meaning of the Bretesques (Brittox) of Devizes—of which more hereafter.
Some notice must necessarily be taken of the conjecture thrown out by Mr. Wyndham, in his translation of the Wiltshire portion of Domesday book, and adopted by some other writers, viz. that the word Theodulveside, occurring in that survey, has reference to Devizes. The idea was, perhaps, suggested not so much by the resemblance of sound, as by the manifest side and importance of the borough of Theodulveside, ranking in population with Old Sarum, and giving entertainment to the King. But independently of the fact that Theodulveside and Devizes are in numberless instances mentioned contemporaneously as distinct places, the genealogical descent of Theodulveside, through a variety of spellings, down to the modern Tilshead, is a fact so notorious, that if we will have a similar fountain-head for Devizes, we must discover two Theodulvesides. But, in fact, the name never does occur in the Hundreds either of Swanborough or of Cannings. The Wiltshire portion of Domesday-book is written without much local classification; but in all subsequent surveys Theodulveside is found just where we should seek for Tilshead, in the Hundred of Dolesfeld, now Branch and Dole. The compiler of the Subsidy-Rolls, for instance, going south, takes Gore-Cross and then Theodulveside. Finally, we have the evidence of the parochial Institution, and the fact that the present vicar of Tilshead holds deeds given him of the glebe and tythe of Theodulveside. Tilshead acquired its early eminence from lying on the hill track leading from Sorbiodunum, or Old Sarum, to the healing waters of Aquæ Sulis or Bath.
Before dismissing this subject, it seems but a just tribute to the talent and zeal of Dr. Davies to allow him to speak for
1 See the Rotuli Hundredorum, Testa de Neville, the Fædera, the Placita, and many other Records.
himself, in a discussion which he was the first to array in an argumentative form. The following extracts, therefore, from the Origines Divisianæ are offered as a fair exhibition of his satirical powers.
“An old woman who shewed Lord Bathurst's fine place by Cirencester, was asked by a gentleman that came to see it, 'Pray what building is that'—'Oh! sir, that is a ruin a thousand years old, which my lord built last year, and he proposes to build one this year, half as old again. This absurdity is scarce greater than what is seriously practised by modern antiquaries. Dr. Stukeley is for carrying the Castle of The Devizes into the legendary state of the old woman.
"..... You have seen that castles have their periods; they rise, flourish, and decay; and seem as mortal as the man that built them. Though they were once noble and amazing structures, they were, as Rome has been, and as my Lord Mayor's house will be, ruined by their own greatness. They ought not, however, to dazzle our eyes so much as to make us conclude upon the greatness of their age from that of their bulk. No further allowance should be given to their years than that which is justified by authority; and this will not allow you to go one step farther back for the origin of your castle than the year 1132. Then it was certainly built. But what weight can so puny an author as your friend is, who never yet published a sixpenny pamphlet, have against so ponderous an author of some Folios ? Mine is like the fate of Hector in Homer, or Turnus in Virgil, or the Devil's in Milton, which
Flew up and kick’t the beam.' "I acknowledge myself to be a mean Cockney to that great hunter after objects of antiquity, the renowned Antiquary of Lincolnshire, the incomparable—incomprehensible -inconvincible Doctor Stukeley, who affirms—very peremptorily affirms, “That the town was enclosed by the Romans with a vallum and ditch,' though no traces of a vallum and