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Landing on the south coast he made his way, with much fighting, through Kent and Surrey to the Thames, which he is said to have crossed near Chertsey, where stakes have been found in the bed of the river, supposed to be some of those which Cæsar mentions as having been driven into the bed of the river at a ford, to impede his progress. Not far from the place the river Colne enters the Thames ; and, as the river Ver, which flows at the foot of Verulam, joins the Colne, it may be supposed that he marched along their valleys and arrived at the foot of these hills, on which was the stronghold of the Casii. Cæsar says the place was strongly fortified, and at the bottom protected by a marsh.
British strongholds consisted of a deep ditch and embankment, and on the top of this embankment were palisades. It may therefore be assumed that the deep ditch at the top of this place, protecting it from attack on the side of the way, or road, known as Watling Street, and also by the side of the path, was the work of the Casii, and was stormed by Julius Cæsar. The defenders, having no heavier weapons than spears, javelins, and, perhaps, stone axes, were unable to resist the advance of the Romans; who, with their shields over their heads, could scramble up the banks uninjured by the shower of darts hurled at them, and carry the place by storm. Cæsar, it is said, was anxious to return to his ships, and so made terms easy for the Casii. Mandubratius was to be restored to his kingdom, and their prince was to cease from molesting his neighbouring princes.
The Casii, however, seem to have retained their hold of Essex, for when next we hear of Britain, the Casii and Trinobantes were ruled over by father and son. The father, Tasciovanus, was chief of the Casii,and Cunobelene, his son, was chief of the Trinobantes, ruling over Essex, and having either Malden or Colchester for his capital.
It was not until a hundred years after Cæsar's invasion that Britain again occupied the attention of the Romans, and then their interference was due to the bad behaviour of the son of Cunobelene, and the grandson of the chief of the Casii. His rebellious conduct obliged his father to banish him from his kingdom. He went to Rome, and by his representation of the unsettled state of the country induced the Emperor Claudius to invade England. There was, it is said, much hard fighting. Cunobelene, the father, was, however, conquered, and then the Roman army, under Claudius, marched against the grandfather, Tasciovanus, who held this stronghold on these hills. It is probable that the Romans marched along a trackway, at present the road to Hatfield. The Romans here built the town of Verulamium, of which some of the remains are now in situ, but it was evidently used as a quarry when the Abbey was built, for much Roman material can be seen in its walls.
Verulamium was then the utmost limit of the Roman conquest, and formed a basis from which their armies made military excursions against the neighbouring tribes. Verulamium again became prominent in English history when Boadicea revolted against the Romans, on account of their cruelties to herself and daughters. It is said that after she had destroyed Colonia, or Colchester, and massacred the garrison, she marched to Verulamium, then a flourishing Roman colony. It was probably badly garrisoned, as the Roman General had gone to the west, making war against a British tribe. She reduced it to ruins, and then marched to London.
The next time we hear of Verulamium it is in connection with the Christian religion. St. Alban, thought to have been a Roman soldier, was the first Christian martyr in England. In the reign of Diocletian there was an unusual persecution ; and St. Alban, who was probably a leader of the hated sect in the city, was condemned to death, as he spurned the Roman heathen worship. He was marched out of the fortification, probably along a road traversing the city, passing through St. Michael's to the hill on which the Abbey now stands, and executed.
ALTHAM Abbey, now consisting of the
nave of the Abbey church, used as the parish church, and a few remains of the conventual buildings, is situate in the parish of Waltham, or Holy Cross, in the hundred of Waltham in the
county of Essex, twelve miles north-east from St. Paul's by road, and fifteen by the Cambridge section of the Great Eastern Railway. Its name is derived from the Saxon Weald-ham, a village in the forest, the parish including the forests of Waltham (which belongs to the Crown), Hainault and Epping.
The history of Waltham Abbey presents some special features of interest, inasmuch as it grew with the town of Waltham out of the reverence paid to a Holy Cross which was set up there in the reign of Canute. Prior to the time when the monastic orders were, after the Norman Conquest, established in England it was, until the reign of Henry II, served by a body of secular canons, who were not bound by the vow of celibacy and the more rigid rules and observances which were adopted by the religious orders since the Conquest, but lived as a community more like the canons of our Cathedral churches at the present day.
Polydore, following Matthew of Westminster and others, has derived the foundation of Waltham from King Harold; but as both the town and the Abbey owed their origin to the Holy Cross, it will be as well to commence with the account in the Chronicle of Waltham, which is contained in two tracts forming part of the
Harleian MS., 3776, in the British Museum, another copy of which is among the Cottonian MSS., Julius D. vi. One of the tracts is entitled “Vita et Miracula Haroldi quondam Regis Anglia” the other is “De Inventione S. Crucis Nostre de Waltham”. They are in the hand of the twelfth century, and were once in the Abbey library: The first tract is imperfect at the end. From the second we learn that, in the time of King Canute, there lived, at a place called Lutegaresbyry (the ancient name of Montacute, in Somersetshire, four miles from Yeovil), "a man of great simplicity and good natural abilities, without malice, fearing God and eschewing evil, by occupation a carpenter and sexton of his parish, to whom one night appeared a vision of Christ crucified, commanding him that as soon as day broke he should go to the parish priest and will him, accompanied with his parishioners in solemn procession to go up to the top of the hill adjoining, and to dig where (if they would beforehand make themselves, by confession, fasting and prayer, worthy of such a revelation) they should find a cross, the very sign of Christ's passion. This plain man, supposing it a fantastical dream, took at the first no great heed thereof, save that he imparted it with his wife, who also thought it an illusion. Wherefore the Image appeared again, and so gripped him by the hand that the dint of the nails remained in his hand to be seen the day following: Being thus pricked forward, on he goeth to the priest and discloseth the whole matter. He arrayeth his parish, displayeth his banners, putteth on copes and surplice, and setteth the carpenter foremost as his captain ; they march to the place, they dig awhile, and anon they find a great marble, having in it of black flint the image of the Crucifix, so artifically wrought as if God himself had framed it. Under the right arm of this crucifix there was a small image of the same form, a little bell also, and a black book containing the text of the four evangelists. All this they signified to Tovi le Prude, then lord of the soil, who of all England, after
1 It has been edited by Dr. W. de Gray Birch, with a translation (1885). The “ De Inventione Crucis” has been edited by Dr. Stubbs, with an introduction and notes (Oxford, 1861).
the King, was the chief Staller, and his chief counsellor; who came to the place in great haste, and by the advice of his gents left the small cross in the church there, determining to bestow_the greater in such place as God should appoint. Forthwith, therefore, he caused to be yoked twelve red oxen and so many white kyne, minding (if God so will) to carry it to Canterbury ; but the cattle could not by any force be compelled to draw thitherward. When he saw that, he changed his mind and bade them drive towards his house at Reading, where he had great delight, but still the wayne stood immoveable, notwithstanding that the oxen did their best. At the lengthe he remembered a small house that he had begun to build at Waltham for his disport, and commanded them to move thitherward. Which words he had no sooner spoken but the wayne of itself moved : Now in the way many were healed of many infirmities; amongst the which threescore six persons vowed their labour toward the conveyance of this cross, and were the first founders of Waltham Town, where was nothing before but only a simple house for this Tovi to repose himself at when he came thither to hunt, notwithstanding that he had thereby divers lands, as Enfield, Edolmetun (Edmonton), Cetrehunt (Cheshunt), Myms, and the whole barony that Geoffrey of Mandeville, the first of that name and Earl of Essex, after had. Now when the cross was brought thither, Tovi commaunded it to be set up; and whiles one by chance pierced it with a nail, the blood issued out of the flint in great abundance. Whereat Tovi, being greatly amazed, fell down and worshipped it, promissed before it to manumitte his bondmen, to bestow possessions on such as should serve it, and there presently gave Waltham, Cheulevenden, Hicche, Lambec, Lukentun and Alwareton, and offered the sword wherewith he was girded when he was first dubbed knight. His wife also, called Glitha, bestowed on the head of this crucifix a crown of gold garnished with stone, and gave besides one jewel for the which a Bishop of Winchester offered 100 marks.”
i Stallere, i.e., horsthegen, marshall, comes stabuli, or constable. Dr. Stubbs' edition of “ De Inventione S. Crucis”.