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Heddius in 679. Wilfaid is received by Dagobert II in Austrasia, who offers him the See of Strasburg.
In 679 Dagobert is assassinated, and Wilfrid is involved in the tumults of his death, but arrives at Canterbury in that year.
Wilfrid preaches in Sussex, 681; preaches in Isle of Wight, 685; returns to York in 686. He is deprived of Ripon in 691. Wilfrid returns to Northumbria in 705. He visits Hexham and Ripon, 706; and after a somewhat stormy life (seemingly the custom of Northumbria), he died April 24th (atat 76), 709.
[From page 398, vol. i, Pt. 1, of Descriptive Catalogue of Materials Relative to the History of Great Britain and Ireland, by Sir T. Duffus Hardy.]
Not a trace anywhere exists of Wilfrid having at any time any connection with land inside the boundaries of that granted to Medes-ham-Stead.
At Oundle he built a monastery, which seems to have been entirely of wood. For when, after his death, the body was brought there, this monastery had been so thoroughly burnt that no part of it could be found to set his body in during the night, until it found refuge in a small cottage that had escaped the fire.
Wilfrid, we are told, carried along with him masons and carpenters, for building monasteries at different places. But such works require not only time but funds, and the obtaining of machines, ropes, tools, and quarries of stone and material, etc. The carpenters may be accepted, but the masons could at best be only rough stone wallers, who built the low dwarf wall or “grundsettles” on which the carpenter's wooden superstructures were erected.
It seems scarcely possible that the man who at Oundle built a whole monastery of wood should, at a place unheard of until three hundred years afterwards, erect first a wooden church, and afterwards add to it the stone tower now seen : one of such size and dignity as to present an internal space of over 19 ft. square; and that now, after having lost its top story, still rises to a height of 56 ft. above the ground line; this also, at a site that did it exist then at all, could only have been a single farmstead !
The grants to Medes-ham-stead state such land boundary as commencing at Walmesford, from it to Clive (King's Cliffe), thence to Aston (Aston), and from Æston to Stanford-boundaries, including considerably more land, and westward of any part which Barnac parish contains.
There is no doubt that all the monasteries hereabout were destroyed by Scandinavian plunderers in or about 870, that is, some one hundred and sixty years later than Wilfrid's death in 709. Are we then to suppose it alone entirely escaped destruction ?
Some years afterwards (about 948), there appears the commencement of a monastic school at Peakirk; this afterwards receiving gifts of neighbouring lands, for undertaking services for the dead ancestors of the givers.
Barnac seems to have been such a gift, some time during the next sixty-five years.
For we learn that in 1013 a portion of the Danish King Swend Forkbeard's army advanced from Lincolnshire-probably along the Roman road-crossed the Welland, and gave up to slaughter the southern populations, their structures to the flames. This was the fate of Peakirk Monastery, with its manors of Glinton, Northburtham, or Northborough, Maxey, Etton, Badyngton (or Baynton) and Barnac, which now thus for the first time appears by name in history.
Mark: this is at least three hundred and four years after Archbishop Wilfrid's death!
When King Cnut had reached sole monarchy (and made of Denmark, Norway, and Great Britain a united Scandinavian kingdom), unwonted quiet existed, and it may be while thus restored to (a restored) Peakirk, the wooden church, to which this stone tower was an aster-addition, may have been erected.
In 1036 “Denmark's joy” departed, and monastic joy fell to a low ebb: Peakirk, Croyland, and other monasteries, being thronged with fugitives who expected civil war.
Between 1036 and 1039, the monastery of Burg St. Peter, relying on its (so-called) original royal grants, raised in the Royal Court an action against Peakirk, claiming even the very land on which the last monastery stood. . After a contest continued to 1048, it was decided against Peakirk, whose unhappy abbot commenced the erection of a new monastery on his manor of Northborough.
Scarcely was this begun when the heirs of those who had given property to Peakirk for prayers to rise in their ancestors' behalf, thereon reclaimed such estates. For no longer could such prayers rise on their behalf, they said, at Peakirk Monastery, which had now ceased to exist.
In the general scramble following, the great Northumbrian noble, Earl Siward Digre, recovered Barnac as having been given to Peakirk by his “ ancestors."
That Earl's descent being from “ Thorer Spracaleg," a Swede, his claim could only be made as the representative of one of his Saxon wives. Could his life and history be given, it would not only clear up Barnack's history but that of other neighbouring places.
This Earl held it from about 1048 to his death in 1055, and lies in St. Olave's Church, York, which he had “timbered" (could he have rebuilt a wooden church at Barnac ?). After him his son Waltheof (the Earl Waltheof of the Conquest period) succeeded, who may be said to have been the greatest and last of the Saxon nation.
To this Earl, about 1069 or 1070, was given by the Conqueror his neice, the infamous Judith (still recorded in the Sawtry St. Judith of Huntingdonshire).
By her he had two daughters, 1st, Maud, who by her second marriage with David of Scotland rose there to be queen; and 2nd, Alice, wife of Ralph de Toeny.
The Earl was beheaded by the Conqueror's orders in 1075, after holding Bernac about twenty years.
To this Earl Waltheof, I believe, is owing the erection of this stone tower, and also that at Earl's Barton, built perhaps between the years 1070 and 1075, its advanced character arising therefrom.
Hence, as the upper stories of Barnac Tower were intended to lodge at times both the Earl and his wife, arose the desire for glazed windows, and the advance of the glass pane up towards the wall front therefore followed, while other openings have but perforated mid-wall slabs. Hence, also, the probable intention to have in its upper part a chapel of St. Michael, where the perforated mid-wall slab has, in direct contradiction to the others, ordinarily designed window openings. This chapel addition was, I think, also intended at Earl's Barton, where over the slits on north side of east wall face small circular openings are introduced to mark such superiority, from a like cause.
From the above circumstance, viz., that it contained rooms for the Earl's use, came the remarkable size of the interior (over 19 ft.), a mark of late Saxon work, as also the evidence of traces of Norman feeling presented in the carved slabs ornamenting three of its sides : this is also the cause why the projecting carved stone over the west window is so much like those seen at Norman Kilpeck in Herefordshire.
To Earl Waltheof I would refer the tower, and I believe its remarkable value, both architecturally and archeologically, lies not in its age—though probably eight hundred and twenty years but in its showing so admirably the dignity and excellence of almost pure Saxon architectural art, at the very moment when it and the old West Saxon nation were to depart altogether. Further, also, from its being the work of the most truly great and remarkable man that nation ever produced.
The difficulties in obtaining any reasonable standpoint whence to found a belief in this structure reaching back to Wilfrid's period, are so great as to prevent such an acceptance. In the Medeshanı-stead grants mentioned, which Wilfrid signs as a witness, not a trace of Wilfrid's connection with the land appears. Nor did any statement of such connection anywhere exist, until the theory was propounded by Mr. D. M. Haig in or about 1876.1 It is also impossible to deny that all such structures underwent destruction about 870, and mostly remained in ruins until nearly 970. When first historically heard of, it is in an account of the slaughter of the people of Barnac, and the burning of its structures, in 1013.
i See his letters to the then Rector, Canon Argles.
It is therefore impossible to believe that it had stood in perfect safety throughout all the destructive three hundred years from Wilfrid's time down to that day; not only so, but during the additional amount of nearly nine hundred more, up to our meeting here. This also, when in its upper part is still seen the original Saxon wall-plaster, so fairly perfect as still to retain the sunk slot of its top wooden floor. Did its first roof, then, last perfect over so many centuries, and during so many various devastations, as to have protected the plaster safe against the damp and frosts of twelve hundred years?
The long list of property under the head of “ Land of Countess Judith," given in Domesday (that is, Earl Waltheof's widow), proves the abundant wealth at the Earl's command for the execution of such works; executed here at least by the Earl's own Barnac masons, though Norman carvers may have produced the carved slabs seen on its three wall-faces.
JAS. T. IRVINE.
PROPOSE on this occasion to call the attention of the members of the British Archæological Association, before whom I have now the honour to read these remarks, to the “ Orders and Statutes" of a charitable institution at Oundle,
drawn up by “ Nicholas Latham, Parson of Barnwell St. Andrew in the county of Northamtoun for the ordering and directing of the Hosspitall in Owndell.” Many centuries ago, when Peterborough was known as Medeshamstead, had a course then proposed been adopted of removing the monastery which existed here to Oundle, I should now have had the pleasure of addressing you in Oundle itself in lieu of Peterborough. Parson Latham's Hospital (as it was and is still commonly styled) appears to have been founded upon the lines of the old Bead Houses that existed prior to the Reformation, which were designed to harbour the aged and infirm poor. It is very probable that the good parson of Barnwell borrowed his idea from the older institution at Stamford, called “ Brown's Hospital,” substituting women for inmates in place of men. These Statutes and Orders are very quaint and peculiar, and throw curious sidelights on the habits, customs, and manners of the age in which they were compiled. Nicholas Lathom appears to have been born of gentle parentage in “Brigstock, Grete Park," as stated on his tomb, in the year 15+8, and to