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Grimsditch and Cuthwulf's Expedition to the Chilterns in A.D. 571

  • Michael W. Hughes

In its original form this paper was prefaced with an account, painfully extracted from the somewhat unsatisfactory descriptions in the Historical Monuments Commission’s volumes for Herts and South Bucks and in the Victoria County History, of the existing portions of the earthwork with which I proposed to deal. For the South Oxfordshire Grimsditch, which I ventured to associate with the continuous work which runs through Herts and Bucks, I relied upon Plot and Burn, and some of the original documents used by the latter.

As readers of ANTIQUITY are already aware, the Editor, moved by the conviction that the earnest seeker after truth in this field at least deserved to be supplied with the facts, has during the past two years personally investigated the whole of the remaining fragments of earthworks in the district, and I am therefore able to refer to his paper in the June number, and to the map which he has compiled to illustrate this paper as well as his own, as furnishing a succinct and authoritative statement of the main features of the Chiltern Grimsditch, by which my arguments stand or fall.

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1 Natural History of Oxfordshire, 1677, pp. 316, 317.

2 History of Henley–on–Thames, pp. 1417. He cites Stukeley’s, , and Horsley’sreferences.

3 Place-Name Society, Bucks, p.13; Beds and Hunts, Introduction; Place-Name Society, Mawer, Problems of Place–Name Study, 1929.

4 Burnop. cit., p. 14; eg., Bouedone to Walenger, c. 1300; totam terram meam extra cortillagium meum que tacet inter terram quam Alanus Belami quondam tenuit ex una parte et terram quam Gunnilda Chaloner quondam tenuit ex a h a extendentem a dicto cortillagio…usque ad Grimesdig’ …; Colchestyr to Deuyn and others, 1449; quandam parcellam terre arabilis que iacet in le Chyrchemoft inter terram Johannas atte Lee Smyth ex parte bmiali et Grimysdich ex parte australi.... See also Catalogue 4f Ancient Deeds, 6, C . 4609, 6588, 7129.

5 Plot, Burnop. cit., p. 317.

6 The fact that leah often meant a wood rather than a clearing in it has recently been emphasized by Professor Ekwall, , Bull. de la Soc. roy. des Lettres de Lund, 1930–31, pp. 95100. —ED.

7 Bucks, V.C.H., 2,4.

8 Birch, Cart Sax., 934; cited in Place-Name Society, Worcestershire, p. 126.

8* I have found in the Missenden Cartulary (f. XXXVI(sod)) the following grant; it is dated by one of the witnesses as between 1170 and 1179 and is identified by other documents as relating to land in Great Hampden ;—Alexander son of Richard de Colewurda confirms to the Abbey the grant which his father and mother made of one virgate of land nearest their land of Hanora. And he makes in addition a grant of a certain increment adjoining the said land out of his demesnewith 4 acres which he gave them in exchange for 4 acres which he retained. . . . And the increment and the 4 acres and the virgate are bounded by fossatum eorum quod extendit per Waltringden et sagna lapidum quorum unus est positus in Waltringdene & alius contra illum positus est ultra Hoanner super Grimesdic ita quodhaia eorum est posita super crestam fossati. Hoacmer maysurvive in Oakengrove. HanoraisHonorend.

9 Harl. MS. 3688, at end. Incipiendo apud Fastyngdich ubi furce sunt eundo Huntesgrene & ab Huntesgrene usque ad domum Johannis Astwik nunc Johannis Bassingborne. & sic ad domum (sic) Johannis Astwik usque b Gore Et ab le Gore usque ad grauam Ade Ladde & sic a Graua Ade Ladde usque ad portam Thome de Wedon Et aporta Thome de Wedon usque ad Chiveraylane Et a Chiveraylane usque Hoggemede apud Sowthforde Et sic rediendo ad Sykmanstile & a Sykmanstile usque Grymesdene N a Grymesdene uspe le thorne & a le thorne usque leSandehegge & ab Sandehegge usque Deneshegge Et redando usque Honor Hucche & ab Honor Hacche usque Pedderesfeld & sic descendendo uenellamusque Grenemyle & Fastyngdich. At present I can identify only Hunt's Green, but I thinkthese places will be found to run from Grimsditch and Hunt’s Green in a circle round Great Missenden. The Wedon family lived at Weedonhill in the sw corner of Chesham. Honor Hatch may be somewhere near Honorend Farm in Hampden, land near which was given to the Abbey about 1175. ‘Grenemyle’ was, I have some reason to think, in Wendover. The part of Martinsend Lane nearest Missenden Station is now known as Grim’s Hill ; but I do not know when or why the name was given. There was a Hugh Grim holding land in that neighbourhood in thethirteenth century, and the dene may take its name from him : and he may also be commemorated in the hill. [The same expression was used to describe the Froxfield entrenchments in South Hants; see DrGrundy, in Arch. Journ. 83, 96—ED.].

10 Harl. MS. 3688, f. LI (62) … omnes tmas pas Walterus de Fastendich et Willelmus de Fastendich de me tenuerunt in uilla de Wendouere . . . . On the same folio Will. de Festindich quitclaims to Missenden Abbey, to whom Henry's grant was made, … totam terram quam tenui de Abbate et conuentu de Messendene in uilla de Wendouere ex dono Henrici de Scaccario. This is the Chequers family from which the Prime Minister’s country house took its name.

11 P.R.O.,Feetof Fines,Bucks. Case 14/1. 33. This finewasmade between Will. de Widendon and Walt. de Fastindig’, and concerned a half virgate of land in Fastindig’.

12 P.R.O., Ass. Roll 55, m. 9. Will. de Wydendon’ cognovit pod dedit concessit etc. Ricardo filio Mathei de Smalenden’ totamtmam deFestindich . . . . Quam terram Rikilda de Festindich tenuit in uilla de West Wicumb’.

13 p. 207. These references are as follows :—1269, July 22, Westm. Grant to Henry de Norwico, king’s serjeant and his heirs, of freewarren in hisdemesne lands in Lavenden, Baunfeld, Fastendich, and West Wicumbe, co. Bucks. Cal. Charter Rolls, 11, 123. 1476–7, Walter Bonham’s estates include a tenement in Fastyngdiches and land in Westwicumb, Bucks. 1479-80, Estates of JohnLeynham, kt. ; as those of Walter, Bonham. Rec. Comm., Inq. Post Mortem, 4, 380, 397.

There is a suggestive collection of instances of the use of the word fuesten in later Anglo-Saxon times in Lees, Aljred the Great (Putnams, 1915; or in the Heroes of the Nations series),pp. 238 sqq., from which it appears that Alfred used it as the equivaIent of the Latin arx; and that this was so far from being a merely literary translation that the expressions faestengeweorc and burhbot seem to have been used indiscriminately to denote the duty of building forts.

14 The West Saxon Invasion and the Icknield Way. History, (July 1925) 10, 38, p. 97.

15 At Taplow the famous barrow, which is said to date from about 620 to 630, is in the old churchyard.

16 Place-Name Society, Beds and Hunts, p. II.

17 History, l.c., p. 101. 18 Histovy, l.c., p. 103. he calls Frilford an early West-Saxon cemetery, which seems inconsistent with his main thesis.

18 Histovy, l.c., p. 103.

19 Guide to Anglo–Saxon Antiquities, pp. 35,78.

20 Antiquaries Journal, 8, 176.

21 Archaeology of the Anglo–Saxon Settlements, p. 62.

22 Mawer, Problems of Place–Name Study; Place-Name Society, Bucks, Introduction, p. XIII; Beds and Hunts, Introduction.

23 Beds and Hunts, p . XIV.

24 Mr Leeds characteristically says (The West Saxon Invasion, ut supra, p. 105, footnote) :— ‘It is assumed that Swinford was captured from the Berkshire shoreafter the first crossing of the Thames had been effected lower down’. Rejecting his historical assumptions and accepting his archaeological evidence as to the early date of the finds at Frilford, Sutton Courtenay, Long Wittenham, and East Shefford, it would seem that in 571 the Berkshire shore had long been occupied.

* Where there is a pass through the hills, Grimsditch juts out into a salient to cover it.

25 Place-Name Society, Bucks, p. XIV, p. XII note.

26 Maps of Bucks showing the Domesday Hundreds may be found in Place-Name Society, Bucks; in V.C.H. Bucks, vol. I; or in Fowler, , ‘Pipe Rolls of Richard I for Bucks and Beds,’ Beds Hist. Rec. Soc., 1923, vol. 7.

27 Harl. MS. 3688, f. XLVIIB (58).

28 Place-Name Society, Bucks, p. 153.

29 Herts, V.C.H., 1, 318b, 324b.

30 The V.C.H. editors are mistaken in identifying the Domesday Book Ha’dena as Great and Little Hampden. The two Hampdens are feudally independent with quite separate histories. I have no doubt that the D.B. Wandene is Little Hampden, w having been substituted for H by association with Wendover, which name follows in the text. It afterwards appears as a chapelry of Hartwell. Added to Ellesborough it makes up the latter’s 30 hides.

31 Professor Mawer will not have this ; but cf. Place-Name Society, Bucks, p. 177 (Hambleden) ;Worcs, p. 44 (Hamcastle). At the same time I shouldbe better satisfied if Professor Mawer agreed.

32 Bucks, pp. XIV, xv.

* History (April 1926), 11 41, p. 83.

33 Guide to Anglo–Saxon Antiquities, p. 64.

34 Archaeology of the Anglo–Saxon Settlements, p . 16.

35 Place–Name Society, Bucks, p. XIX.

36 Uppsala 1926; and Cambridge. Reviewed in ANTIQUITYS, September 1928, 361–3.

37 Op. cit. Foreword.

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