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been placed in the graves, which were about four feet deep, in a sitting position. The graves when opened were found partly filled with blocks of limestone, used at first, it is most likely, as a lining. Among the relics, all of which are now in the Athenæum at Plymouth,* were bronze mirrors, bracelets, cups, and fibulæ, fragments of glass and pottery, and some much-decayed iron implements. The whole belong apparently to the late Celtic period, that is to a time shortly before the appearance of the Romans in Britain ; and the extent of the cemetery indicates that a permanent town or village of some size must have existed in the immediate neighbourhood. At Plymstock, about one mile from Oreston, a great hoard of bronze weapons and implements—possibly the store of a travelling merchantwas found in 1868. British gold coins have been discovered at Mount Batten ; and on the whole it seems more than probable that the settlement on the Oreston side of the harbour should be regarded as the Plymouth of pre-historic times.
To enumerate the various scenes of which Catwater has been the witness, the famous ships that have lain there, and the expeditions that have sailed from thence, would be to enter on the history of Plymouth, which we reserve for another occasion. It must here suffice to say that in Sutton Pool, which we see from Catdown, the Princess Catherine of Arragon arrived in 1501, after a long and stormy voyage; that in 1588 the English fleet, awaiting the appearance of the Armada, lay quietly in Catwater; that the great Cadiz expedition, under the Earl of Essex, sailed from this harbour in 1596; that the Mayflower, conveying the Pilgrim Fathers, left the same shores in 1620; and that the ships which conveyed Captain Cook round the world were prepared for their expedition in the Catwater, and lay there for some time. All the surrounding scene has much changed. The banks are covered with houses, and Catdown has become an inhabited district; but the harbour itself remains much as in former days; and the outlines of the shores within view of it are, of course, unaltered. Of this we have very interesting evidence in a landscape painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, before he went to Italy, in 1749—now at Port Eliot, in the collection of the Earl of St. Germans. It is a long narrow picture, severely topographical, and for that very reason of great local value. The view is from the point of Catdown, looking across to Mount Edgcumbe. In front is the Citadel of Plymouth, as it existed in the first half of the eighteenth century. Stonehouse Point and Drake's Island are easily recognised, and the inland heights of Plymouth. But the scene is scarcely peopled. It is a "landscape with figures ”—not the "view of a town.” A few fishermen linger in the foreground. The rest of the picture, with its green slopes, and its broad open spaces, tells more clearly than any description how great have been the changes in the seaward aspect of Plymouth since the days of Dettingen and Culloden.
* They were placed there by Mr. C. Spence Bate, by whom the cemetery was explored. He has described and illustrated the diseoveries in the “ Archæologia," Vol. XL
The Monasteries of the Fenland—“Courteous Crowland "-Approach to Crowland-Peakirk and St. Pega–The Dykes
and Drains of Fenland -Character of the Scenery–The Village of Crowland, The Triangular Bridge-The Remains of the AbbeyIts History-The Cell of St. Guthlac-Abbot Ingulf - Ordericus Vitalis-Waltheof Buried at Crowland - Dissolution of the Abbey-A Warlike Cleric.
HE great Benedictine Abbey of Crowland — “Crowland, as courteous as courteous may be ” —was one of the wealthiest and most important of the monasteries of the Fen-land, that vast tract of alluvial soil which covers the whole of Cambridgeshire, and great part of Lincolnshire, besides encroaching on the borders of the adjoining counties. Here were grouped some of the most ancient and most remarkable religious houses in England. All were Benedictine, a fact which alone bears sufficient witness to their antiquity. Among them were Ely, Peterborough, Ramsey, Sawtry, Spalding, Thorney, and Crow
land. The abbey at Bury St. Edmunds may also be classed among the houses of the Fens; for, although it was itself situated at some distance from the marsh-land, the border of its possessions ranged with that of Ely, and a very ancient causeway, crossing part of the marshes, connected the two monasteries. A local rhyme, one line of which has already been quoted, characterised certain of these houses, so far, at least, as their neighbours could judge them :
ARMS OF CROWLAND.
" Ramsay, the bounteous of gold and of fee ; Crowland, as courteous as courteous may be ; Spalding the rich, and Peterborough the proud; Sawtrey by the
abbaye, Gave more alms in one day
Than all they."
St. James Dhure
The causes which led to the foundation of so many wealthy monasteries in a district which in modern times does not hold out any remarkable attraction, will be clearly understood in considering the history of Crowland; but we must first visit the place itself, and see what remains of the once “courteous abbey are still in existence. They are but scanty; and, indeed, among all these abbeys, the only churches which have been preserved in their integrity are those of Ely and Peterborough. At the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, Ely was the place of an episcopal see, and its church was, of course, spared. In that of Peterborough, Queen Catherine of Arragon had been buried; and when it was suggested to Henry VIII. that "it would well become his greatness
to erect a fair monument to her," he
is said to have replied, “Yes, I will CROWLA
leave her one of the goodliest in the kingdom ”—meaning the great church
beneath whose arches her remains were 0 RS
reposing. However this may be, the monastic church was spared, and became the cathedral of a new diocese.
Crowland—in spite of mis-spell
ing and of false etymologies, the name CROWLAND
really means what it appears to mean, the “ land of crows”-is in Lincolnshire, but at no great distance within the border which divides that county from Cambridgeshire. It is not very easily accessible, for no railway passes nearer to the village than five or six miles. From Peterborough it is distant nine miles and a half. The pedestrian may approach Crowland
either from the Peakirk station or from that of Eye. In both cases the road is somewhat monotonous; but if the day be fine and bright, the expedition is not without charm or interest, and the remarkable position of the abbey is well seen as the visitor advances.
Peakirk, on the edge of the Fens, is five miles from Crowland, with the early history of which place it is closely connected. The “kirk” (we are on the border of northern English, where the softer southern “church” retains the harder form) is dedicated to St. Pega, a sister of St. Guthlac, who, as we shall presently see, was the first religious "settler” at Crowland. Pega founded a cell here about the year 716, whilst her brother retired to a yet more desolate stronghold among the marshes. She afterwards died in Rome, but her cell remained, and its little oratory grew at length into the church of the district. In it was a sculptured figure of St. Pega, greatly venerated ; and a certain Robert Angel in 1566 (the date is noticeable) leaves, by his will, “unto the repairyng of St. Pees image, 11 strike of barley and xxd. in money." There is, however, little now to
MAP OF CROWLAND.
THE “OLD BED” OF THE WELLAND.
delay us at Peakirk.
We proceed along the raised road, which, for great part of the way, follows the course of the river Welland, and makes direct for Crowland. This is the south-eastern portion of the “Great Level of the Fens," a district which, reclaimed and drained by the labour of successive generations of engineers, contains about 680,000 acres of the richest land in England, and is as much the product of art as the Kingdom of Holland itself. Where the road leaves the existing bed of the Welland, it proceeds by
the side of the “old bed.” To explain this “old bed” we borrow a passage from Smiles' “ Lives of the Engineers."
“Not many centuries ago, this vast tract of about 2,000 square miles of land was entirely abandoned to the waters, forming an immense estuary of the Wash, into which the rivers Witham, Welland, Glen, Nene, and Ouse discharged the rainfall of the central counties of England. It was an inland sea in winter, and a noxious swamp in summer, the waters expanding in many places into settled seas, or meres, swarming with fish, and screaming with wild fowl. The more elevated parts were overgrown with tall reeds, which appeared at a distance like fields of waving corn ; and they were haunted by immense flocks of starlings, which, when disturbed, would rise in such numbers as almost to darken the air. Into this great dismal swamp the floods descending from the interior were carried, their waters mingling and winding by many devious channels before they reached the
They were laden with silt, which became deposited in the basin of the Fens. Thus the river-beds were from time to time choked up, and the intercepted waters forced new channels through the ooze, wandering across the level, and often winding back upon themselves, until at length the surplus waters, through many openings, drained away into the Wash. Hence the numerous abandoned beds of old rivers still traceable amidst the Great Level of the Fens—the Old Nene, the Old Ouse, and the Old Welland. The Ouse, which in past times flowed into the Wash at Wisbeach (or Ouse beach), now enters at King's Lynn, near which there is another Old Ouse. But the probability is that all the rivers flowed into a lake, which existed on the tract known as the Great Bedford Level, from thence finding their way by numerous and frequently shifting channels into the sea.”*
The country through which we pass is not the richest portion of the Fen-land. The whole, however, has been drained and dyked; and although the Welland overflows its banks in a wet season, it is kept within very different bounds from those of earlier days. Clumps and lines of trees rise about distant farms and hamlets, that shine out as sun-gleam chases shadow across them. Great tracts of pasture, and lesser stretches of corn-land, extend toward the far horizon, all clearings, and all reclaimed from the wild, marshy fen, as the drains, banks, and raised “droves" (so the roads are called) which cross and intersect each other in all directions, sufficiently prove. Yet, with all the modern changes, we have constant indications—"survivals,” as they may perhaps be called—of the primitive character of the district. Vast beds of reeds extend by the side of the river. The cries of wild birds, which still haunt the Fens, ring through the air. Broad water-plashes still reflect the sky in places; and the “low-wavering sky” itself, which rounds about the wide, far-stretching level, gives a certain feeling of space and freedom which, in this flat country, no amount of cultivation can entirely counteract. point on the road, a large decoy, shrouded among reeds and willows, tells of the ducks and wild swans that frequent the marsh-land in winter; and further on, between the old bed of the Welland and the new, appears the stump of a cross, known as “ Kenulph's Stone," one of four bound-stones which marked the immediate halidom of the abbey. Then, as we advance, the great tower of the abbey church is seen, gleaming ghostlike among trees, across the wide, watery plain—watery even in summer—for a great stretch of the Old Wash extends northward from Crowland. When the water is fairly “out," the view in approaching the village suggests that of some Flemish “casteel,” with its dependencies, or some low-horizoned landscape by Hobbema or Van Goyen. It is thoroughly Dutch. The water sweeps up to the flat, drier ridge, hardly raised above the general level, on which the monastery was built. A long line of house-roofs, barns, and hayricks is shadowed here and there by trees, from among which the grey tower, massive and time-worn, looks forth over the marshes.
Crowland is one of the many “islands” of firmer soil which, long before the days of draining, existed in the Fens. All about it, in the time of the monks, was “a wilderness of shallow waters and reedy islets.” There was room, on the higher ground, for the monastic buildings, but little space for cultivation ; and the bread-corn of the brethren
* Vol. I., pp. 18, 19.