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of primitive history and of primitive remains. The road, just before it descends the bill, passes through the area of what Stukeley called “Vespasian’s Camp," but which is here only known as “the Ramparts." In outline it is a long oval. It is perhaps a British work; but whoever may have been its constructors, the camp entirely commands the approach to the Avon on this side. A beautiful view of the valley, with the church of Amesbury immediately below, is gained from it; and in looking from the “Ramparts.” we at once understand the importance of the position of Amesbury as an ancient centre of British civilisation. The place, there can be no doubt, is of the highest antiquity. A Welsh triad claims it as the seat of one of “ the three chief perpetual choirs of the Isle of Britain”—the others being the “ Choir of Llan Iltud Vawr in Glamorganshire,
and the Choir of Glastonbury”_"and in each of these three Choirs there were 2,400 saints.” “The Choir of Ambrosius in Amesbury,” as it is called in the triad, may well have been the foundation, or at least have been under the special protection, of Aurelius Ambrosius—the British prince who so long defended his country against the advancing Saxons. Dr. Guest identifies Ambrosius with "a British king whose name was Natanleod,” killed, according to the Saxon Chronicle, in battle with Cerdic and Cynric in 508. “Natanleod” he believes to be a title, signifying “the prince of Nate,” and “Nate” appears to be identical with the Welsh “nawt," a sanctuary. This sanctuary was the “ Choir of Ambrosius,” probably, in its time, “the monastery of Britain—the centre from which flowed the blessings of Christianity and civilisation.”* Hence the important place which it held in Welsh tradition, and its selection by Geoffry as the scene of the murder of the British
Dr. Guest's arguments, which cannot be given here, will be found in his paper on “The Early English Settlements in South Britain," printed in the Salisbury volume of the Archæological Institute.
chiefs by Hengist.* Amesbury thus became connected, at least in romance, with Stonehenge ; and it is not impossible that the name of the “nawt” or sanctuary had been transferred to the Christian monastery from the great monument on the plain above it. However this may be, so much venerable tradition has gathered round Amesbury as to give no ordinary interest
to the quiet village round which winds what Fuller calls the “troutful stream” of Ayon. The British monastery, among whose courts we are to picture Queen Guinevere sitting in her sad penitence, was replaced, about A.D. 980, by a house of Benedictine nuns, founded by Elfrida in
* It is perhaps necessary to say that this massacre, of which the details are given by Geoffry of Monmouth, is entirely mythical. A precisely similar story is told by Widukind of the Old Saxons on the Continent.
some such feeling that Eleanor “la Brette”—the “Damsel of Brittany," as she was called — provided by her will that her body should be laid to rest in the conventual church of Amesbury, leaving also to the nuns, “with the king's permission,” her ,” her manor of Melksham.
Eleanor was the sister of that Arthur of Brittany who was “done to death ” under the order, perhaps by the hand, of King John. After her young brother's death, she became the heiress of Brittany. Her “safe keeping" was therefore a matter of importance; and she was brought to England, where she was detained for forty years, in honourable captivity, first in the castle of Corfe, afterwards in the castles of Bristol and of Gloucester. Once a year she was brought out and shown to the people, that they might be sure of her being still alive She died in 1241—the twenty-fifth year of Henry III.-at what age is unknown. But Arthur had been murdered in 1203, and his sister “Linor”—as the Breton ballad-makers call her—was probably the elder. She was buried at Amesbury
“With mass and rolling music, like a queen,”
and a stately monument was raised above her grave.
Mary, the sixth daughter of Edward I., in company with thirteen ladies of noble birth, took the veil at Amesbury; and within the convent, in 1292, died Eleanor, queen of Henry III. It was one of the houses in which Katherine of Arragon was lodged on her first arrival in England. The house of Sir Edmund Antrobus—built either from the designs of Inigo Jones or from those of his son-in-law, Webb-occupies the site of this once famous nunnery; but the church which now exists was, apparently, never attached to it.
It is large and important, cruciform, with a central tower, and of Early English character. But it was not beneath its roof that the body of “La Brette” was laid to rest, or that the nuns of Amesbury gathered for their services. That church has altogether disappeared. The existing building was always secular and parochial.
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T the beginning of the seventh century, when the Anglian conŜ querors had spread themselves over the greater portion of
Northumbria, and the Britons bad, for the most part, been driven back on the Cumbrian highlands, a small district, embracing portions of the valleys of the Aire, the Calder, and the Wharfe, still maintained its independence, and was ruled by a British king, whose name, according to Bede, was Cerdic. This little kingdom was known as Loidis; and its western half was “ the wood of Elmete.” It was impossible that a dominion so isolated* should long hold out against the Anglians, especially after the rise of the powerful Bretwalda Edwin. Hereric, a nephew of Edwin, exiled for some unknown cause from the Northumbrian court, took refuge with the Briton Cerdic, who,
after a short time, poisoned him. It followed that Edwin led his "host" against Cerdic, conquered him, and incorporated the district over which he had ruled with the great Anglian kingdom. This conquest occurred about the year 616.
The district thus Anglicised was much favoured by the Northumbrian kings. After the burning (A.D. 627) of the “ king's hall” (villa regia) at Slack near Huddersfield, by the fierce heathen Penda of Mercia, the successors of Edwin “ built for themselves another villa in the region which is called Loidis.”+ The great wood of Elmete was a pleasant hunting-ground; and it is possible that the remarkable earthworks which remain at Barwick (generally known as Barwick-in-Elmete) may represent the mounds and foundations of such a villa, enclosed and defended after the fashion which seems to have been general among all the Teutonic races which settled in Britain. But the solitude of the forest was attractive to others than kings and hunters. Somewhere in the same wood had arisen, probably about the same time as the royal villa, a monastery, which in Bede's time was presided over by the "most reverend priest and abbot Thrydwulf.” Paulinus, who first preached Christianity in Northumbria, and baptised the Bretwalda Edwin, had built a church in the king's villa at Slack, which was burnt by Penda. But the stone altar escaped the fire, and was afterwards preserved in Thrydwulf's monastery.
It has long been believed, and there is great apparent reason for the belief, that this
* Loidis, at this time, and until its conquest by Edwin, was probably backed by the still powerful British kingdom of Strathclyde. But it formed a long, narrow offshoot of British territory, and, except on the western side, was hemmed in by Anglian settlements.
+ Beda, “Hist. Eccles.," ii. 14. The Campodonum of Bede has been fixed with certainty at Slack.
# The lofty earthen mound, such as occurs at Barwick, is constantly found on the site of such strong places as are known to be of English (Saxon or Anglian) foundation. On many of these English mounds, the Normans afterwards erected keep-towers.
religious house occupied, in part, the site of the existing parish church of Leeds. This church was entirely rebuilt in 1840 ; but built into the walls of the structure which was then destroyed were found rudely-sculptured stones and fragments of crosses, some of which were of very great antiquity. It is clear, therefore, that a church, or religious
house of some nature, existed here at an early period; and when we add the fact that Simeon of Durham records the death of Eanbald, Archbishop of York, in 769, as having occurred “in Thrydwulf's Monastery at Leeta,"* we can hardly doubt that the site of
* Simeon, in his “Historia," inserts the name of the place in English, “æt Leeta.” “ Leeta,” no doubt, represents the earlier (f) form “Loidis.” The etymology is altogether uncertain, but there can be little doubt that the word is British, and not Teutonic. “Elmete” is held to signify “the elm wood.” If this be so, it must represent the Latin “ulmetum ;” and it is barely possible that such a name may have been preserved in the British district, and, likr: “Loidis," have been accepted by the Anglians.