Sectional Preface

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1926

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'Sectional Preface', An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Huntingdonshire (1926), pp. XXX-XLI. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=123737 Date accessed: 21 September 2014.


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HUNTINGDONSHIRE.

Sectional Preface.

(i) Earthworks, etc. Pre-historic and later.

The physical features of the county lend themselves but little to the normal forms of prehistoric earthworks; the eastern half is largely reclaimed fenland with occasional 'islands' rising a few feet above the general level; the western half of the county is formed of gentle undulations, which in no place rise more than some 260 feet above sea-level. As a consequence there are no examples of hill, contour or promontory forts. On the other hand, there are numerous mounds, no doubt mostly sepulchral, but of which only one, at Godmanchester, has been systematically excavated (see under Roman Remains, p. xxxiii). The other earthworks of early or Roman date include the rampart of the Romano-British town at Chesterton, and the confused system of banks and ditches on the Romano-British site at Colne.

Mediæval earthworks are not of much greater importance. The earthworks of the Castle at Huntingdon have been seriously damaged by a railway-cutting, and have otherwise suffered from denudation. There is also a small motte at Wood Walton and works, perhaps of the same class, exist at Kimbolton, Hartford, Ramsey and possibly as the nucleus of a later work at Great Staughton. The county contains some 90 homestead-moats.

From the point of view of general archaeology, the most important earthworks in the county are the two 17th-century forts at Bluntisham (Earith Bulwark) and Stanground (Horsey Hill). Though no documentary reference has yet been found to these constructions, there can be little doubt that they date from the period of the Civil War, and were thrown up to command the traffic on the rivers Ouse and Nene. The comparatively rare survival of works of this nature, of which Newark and Carmarthen are the best known examples elsewhere, gives an added importance to the Huntingdonshire forts which have preserved their forms and contours largely unimpaired. A small work, perhaps of the same date, lies on the eastern outskirts of Huntingdon town. The round hill at Conington is probably a post-Reformation earthwork but its form and arrangement are so unusual as to leave it doubtful if it were designed as a piece of landscape-gardening or for defensive purposes.

The earthworks connected with the draining of the Fens, form too extensive and complicated a question to be dealt with here. Though it may perhaps be admitted that artificial drainage began under the Roman dominion and was certainly brought to some measure of success in the 17th century, it will be unprofitable to attempt a survey of an undertaking in which Huntingdonshire had, at best, a minor share.

(ii) Roman Remains.

The famous Roman road—the Ermine Street (fn. 1) —which forms the axis of the county may be regarded as a relic of the northward progress of the ninth legion in the early years of the conquest. It enters the county four and a half miles south of Godmanchester, proceeds north-west (with a slight change of direction at Great Stukeley) towards Alconbury Hill, and thence in an almost straight line north-north-west to a point about one and a half miles north of Stilton; here it again changes direction towards the north-west, and leaves the modern road to pass through "the Castles" at Chesterton and so across the river Nene to Castor. The actual Roman road-metal has been seen at Godmanchester (where the road was twelve feet wide), beneath St. Mary's Street in Huntingdon, near Stilton and across the Nene at Castor (fn. 2) ; whilst the road is still visible as a ridge across "the Castles," where mile-stones of the years 265 and 276 have been found alongside it. Piers of stone and remains of a timber-structure found at the crossing of the Nene in the 18th century possibly represent the Roman bridge here (fn. 3) .

Beyond this road, within the limits of Huntingdonshire, we scarcely touch the official life of the Roman province. The road itself must have been a busy one, as traffic went in those days; the imperial post to and from the northern frontier, the governor, his officials, and at rare intervals the emperor himself, must have been borne along it. Pack-horses and carts must have used it in the distribution of the products of the countless kilns which have been identified at Chesterton (Castor) and elsewhere. Infrequently, a few soldiers may have traversed it to or from the almost unchanging garrisons of the north. But, except at the river-crossings, of which more later, a traveller along this stretch of highway in the early centuries of our era would have seen few traces of any population other than a sparse, hard-working peasantry, or of any architecture more elaborate than huts and kraals of plastered wattle in the traditional native manner.

The cultural level of this population had probably varied but little for many centuries before the coming of the Romans. It was indeed imposed by peculiarly exacting physiographical conditions, which the modern eye must to some extent reconstruct. Apart from the gravel terraces bordering the river systems, practically the whole county consists of claylands, doubtless then densely forested, with a fringe of fenland on the east. These rivers approximately define the north and south boundaries of the county; they are joined along the eastern border by a channel known as the Old West Water, and with it formed a useful system of waterways which must have carried traffic from early times and may have been developed by the Romans as part of an extensive series of waterways between Cambridgeshire and York (fn. 4) . But dry and habitable areas were few and far between. Under primitive conditions, settlement was inevitably restricted to the intermittent stretches of gravel of the river-banks or of the small islands amongst the marshes. To unambitious immigrants drifting inland from the Norfolk and Lincolnshire coast, these gravel-patches presented a ready and tolerably secure foot-hold; but, fen-bound or forestbound as they were, they offered little opportunity for the development of wealth or of political authority. Their evidence, yielded chiefly in the form of potsherds and simple implements, thus forms an unusually complete register of the successive prehistoric cultures of East Anglia, without ever suggesting any higher local initiative than might be expected from a mixed and scattered population of peasant-cultivators, hunters and fishermen.

Save perhaps in an accession of public security, the coming of the Romans must at first have meant but little to a population of this kind. Politically, there can have been few points of contact between the new authorities and the fen-men, and the conquest involved no sudden revolution in economic or social conditions in these outlands. But slowly and indirectly the new regime made itself felt even here; it slightly modified the distribution of the native population, it provided fresh markets for the native potteries, and at the same time it developed and materially changed the character of the native crafts—the inevitable result of the impact of a vital and efficient culture upon one which had long been poverty-stricken and lacking in direction and incentive.

In the first place, as to distribution. To the three river-highways of the county the Roman builders in the early days of the settlement, as we have seen, added an important overland route across a region hitherto well-nigh impassable. The Ermine Street must quickly have become the main artery of the district, and at those points where it crossed the old waterways, at Chesterton and Castor in the north, and at Godmanchester and Huntingdon in the south, we find, as we might expect, a new concentration which, at least in the former case, seems to represent a fair-sized township. Extensive but ill-recorded excavations here, on both sides of the Nene, have revealed a straggling settlement, or perhaps rather two settlements, extending over more than a mile of countryside, and apparently not laid out on any systematic plan. The houses were in some cases richly decorated, with mosaic pavements (Plate 2) and veneered walls; in other cases, they were simple oblong sheds, possibly work-rooms or shops; again others were merely timber huts, oblong or circular on plan. Associated with the settlement were great numbers of kilns, in which the well-known "Castor" or "Durobrivian" wares were produced. The population must have consisted almost wholly of natives, but to some of them the local industry, aided by the proximity of the main road, clearly brought considerable wealth and luxury. It was perhaps the upgrowth of a fairly prosperous manufacturing class that led during some unsettled period of the middle or later Empire to the fortification of a part of the settlement at Chesterton; for, although detailed information is lacking, the earthwork (as it now appears) known as "the Castles" in that parish, seems to be posterior in date to the Ermine Street which it cuts, and is significantly surrounded by cemeteries which seem to have been wholly or largely of the 3rd and 4th centuries.

Of Roman Godmanchester considerably less is known, but the site is that of the junction of Roman roads, the polygonal shape of the modern village is suggestive, and Roman relics and foundations are recorded to have been found here. At Huntingdon, the counter-settlement across the Ouse, the Roman evidence, though definite, is slighter still. For the rest, the flanks of the Ermine Street in Huntingdonshire have yielded little or no evidence of occupation, beyond the finding of a glass burial-urn at Glatton (fn. 5) and of "Roman urns" at Sawtry—perhaps the relics of a small posting-station. The forested clay-lands of this part of the county held their own against the Romanized peasantry as they had held their own against its prehistoric fore-runners.

Apart, therefore, from the natural tendency to concentrate at the river-crossings of the new Ermine Street, the population of Romano-British Huntingdonshire retained its primitive distribution amongst the stretches of habitable gravel dispersed along the waterways of the county. In the Nene valley, Romano-British hut-circles are recorded from Orton Longueville Park, whilst at Woodstone and Fletton levelled floors, pits and burials similarly indicate a peasant-occupation of this period. The Ouse valley is less productive, but hut-villages are probably represented by 1st-century burials at Houghton and later burials at Hartford and Hemingford Abbots. The stretches of gravel on the west bank of the Old West Water from Earith to the north of Somersham, have yielded more abundant evidence of the same type, and slight traces of occupation come from fen-islands such as Ramsey. All these small settlements suggest that the enhanced security of Roman dominion may have brought about an increase in population and, to a less extent, in wealth, but the general status of the inhabitants must have remained essentially unchanged.

Attention may here be drawn incidentally to the occurrence of a mound containing a primary urn-burial of the Roman period a mile outside Godmanchester at Emmanuel Knoll, about forty yards south-east of the Cambridge road. The mound, before its destruction in 1914, was thirty-two feet in diameter and five and a half feet high, and was made of the chalky boulder-clay of the district. Near by, close to the road is another tumulus, unexplored; on the west side of the Ermine Street, at exactly the same distance south of Godmanchester, is a similar mound, whilst further north, at Great Stukeley, a fourth and fifth are visible beside the Roman road. Moundburials of Roman date form a distinctive group in our south-eastern counties, with Continental analogies in the stretch of country between Bavai and Maastricht (fn. 6) . In date they extend from the beginning of the first century A.D. to the middle of the second. Their cultural significance has not yet been examined in detail, but they presumably represent, like the Late Celtic pedestal-urns, the diffusion of certain distinctive tribal units on both sides of the Channel, and deserve further investigation. The Godmanchester example seems to be the most northerly of the series definitely proved to be of Roman date.

If we turn from distribution to commerce and industry, the effects of Romanization become at once more insistent. The fringes of the wooded clay-lands provided ample supplies both of suitable clay and of fuel for the manufacture of pottery, and, possibly under influences from north-eastern Gaul and the lower Rhine-valley, the native potteries of Huntingdonshire in the 2nd and 3rd centuries built up a flourishing and distinctive industry. The characteristics of the so-called "Castor" or "Durobrivian" wares—the hard, smooth paste, the use of decoration applied in relief by the "barbotine" process, the Celtic boldness of the curvilinear designs, and the vigour of the crudely rendered animal-forms and partially assimilated classical motives—have often been described and illustrated (fn. 7) , and need not be discussed in the present context. How far these wares formed a monopoly of the fen-district, cannot be said with certainty; allied, though not identical, wares are known to have been manufactured elsewhere in southern Britain. But it is significant that the main line of dispersal of the Castor wares is north and south, rather than east and west, and so points to the Great North Road (the Ermine Street), with its branches and adjacent waterways, as the primary commercial channel. Thus, Castor pottery is found in fair quantities at York, Corbridge, and other northern sites, and abundantly in south-eastern Britain, but is rare in Gloucestershire and scarcely occurs at all west of the Severn. It is likely enough, therefore, that the famous potteries beside the Ermine Street in the Nene valley, did in fact, produce by far the greater proportion of the wares which, in this country, are conventionally associated with them.

Whether the industry developed any extensive over-sea trade is difficult at present to determine. Pottery of Castor type occurs frequently in Belgium, notably near the coastline, and in Holland, on the Isle of Walcheren, sporadically in north-eastern France, and fairly abundantly along the lower Rhine; it is rarer in the upper valley of the Rhine and in that of the Moselle. (fn. 8) Attention, moreover, has been drawn to a dedication by a negotiator cretarius Britannicianus at Domburg, on Walcheren. From these facts it has been inferred with some verisimilitude that Britain was the centre of distribution. On the other hand, potters are known to have been active at many points along the Rhine valley, and it is possibly more correct to regard the British fenland and the lower Rhine in this respect as a single cultural unit which developed in similar fashion on both sides of the North Sea. It must be admitted that this alternative view is not proved, whereas some export of Castor ware from Britain seems tolerably certain—perhaps as a counterpart to the import of German "Samian" ware into this country during the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Be that as it may, in the appearance of wealth which seems to have distinguished one or two of the houses at Castor and Chesterton may be recognized the reflection of one of the most far-reaching and successful industries of Roman Britain.

Lastly, a word as to the Roman roads of Huntingdonshire, other than Ermine Street. Two, or perhaps three, roads have a substantial claim to Roman origin.

(i) From immediately north of Godmanchester a road which bears the stamp of Roman origin strikes south-eastwards to Cambridge, and thence in the direction of Colchester. (fn. 9) It is clearly secondary to the Ermine Street, upon which it impinges. In a cutting at Godmanchester, it was seen to be twelve feet wide, with a ditch on each side.

(ii) In Silver Street, Godmanchester, has been seen a section across another road which ran south-south-west towards Sandy in Bedfordshire. It apparently failed to meet a characteristically straight stretch of Roman road, some five miles in length, at the Sandy end of the route, but the reason for the break is not clear. It has been suggested that the southern section is an incomplete Roman reconstruction. (fn. 10)

(iii) A more shadowy road has been thought to leave the Ermine Street in the neighbourhood of Alconbury Weston and to proceed towards Leicester. Stretches of existing road, parish boundary and footpath, carry the line fairly continuously to Titchmarsh, but its further course westwards is not clear. (fn. 11)

[Bibliography: F. Haverfield, V.C.H. Northants, I.; C. Fox; The Archaeology of the Cambridge Region, pp. 159 ff.; M. V. Taylor, V.C.H. Hunts, I. For other references, see these works. Much information has also been received from Mr. G. Wyman Abbott, F.S.A., and Dr. Cyril Fox, F.S.A.]

R. E. M. Wheeler.

(iii) Ecclesiastical and Secular Architecture.

Building Materials: Stone, Brick, etc.

The county of Huntingdon, as a building area, shares the characteristics of the two districts adjoining it on the N. and S. Its north-western parishes are close to the best stone districts of Northamptonshire, and themselves produce a number of minor building stones, such as Alwalton marble, which were locally employed in the middle ages. The eastern and southern parts of the county, on the other hand, produce no stone of their own, and in proportion as they are distant from the Northamptonshire quarries, the great stone building of that county is replaced by the less ambitious construction of the Chiltern district. The stones most commonly employed in the N.W. and to a less extent throughout the county, are from the quarries of Barnack, Ketton and Weldon, and perhaps some of the Lincolnshire quarries, but on the S. and S.E. these begin to give place to poorer materials, such as clunch, ironstone and flint-pebbles. Brick-work first appeared at the close of the Middle Ages and did not become the predominant material until modern times. Stone rubble is usual for domestic building of all sizes in the N.W., but elsewhere the smaller buildings are generally timber-framed. The only buildings of any size built largely or entirely of brick, are the Palace at Buckden (so far as its surviving parts are concerned) and Place House at Great Staughton. There are brick church towers at Did dington, Morborne and Southoe, and a much restored timber tower at Hail Weston.

Ecclesiastical Buildings.

Three churches only in the county would appear to retain structural remains of the Saxon period. Of these the W. wall at Woodstone contains a rude double-splay window, while Haddon has one angle of the nave showing 'large-stone' quoins. The third example, Great Paxton, is of much greater importance—here is preserved the crossing and a large part of the nave of an important cruciform church dating probably from the first half of the 11th century. The details of this building present little trace of Norman influence, while the masonry of the crossing-responds is definitely of pre-Conquest character. Pre-Conquest sculpture survives at Alconbury, Elton, Fletton, Keyston and Long Stow, the first and two last being fragments of late interlaced work; the two small standing-crosses at Elton, with wheel-heads, are also of late character. The fragments at Fletton are of much greater importance, forming two groups, the first and earlier group being a series of stones carved with busts, angels, beasts, conventional foliage, vine-pattern, etc., built into the external walls of the 12th-century chancel. The free naturalistic character of the vine-scroll panel implies that the whole group dates from not later than the 8th century. These stones themselves appear to be marked by the action of fire, and it seems probable that they originally appertained to the Abbey of Peterborough. The second group consists of two panels inside the chancel with carved figures of an angel, and perhaps an apostle, in relief; the work is of later character than that of the first group and may perhaps be assigned to the 10th century.

Ecclesiastical work of the late 11th and of the 12th century is not very well represented in the county and very few complete buildings of the period survive. The most important is the late 12th-century church at Ramsey, built on the plan of a monastic hospital or guest-house. Its most remarkable feature is the vault of the chancel which is of the slightly convex or domical form generally called Angevin. Other churches possessing good detail of this period are to be found at Bury, (W. doorway and chancel-arch); Fletton, (chancel and N. arcade); Haddon, (chancel-arch); Toseland, (S. doorway and chancel-arch); Southoe, (S. doorway) and Morborne, (chancel-arch).

The doorways at Long Stow, Little Paxton and Covington, have crudely carved tympana, and those at Southoe and Folksworth have chequer or diaper-ornament. Attention may also be called to the curious grooved 'beak-head' ornaments at Spaldwick, Little Stukeley and Toseland.

The most notable feature of 13th and 14th-century church-building in Huntingdonshire is the series of fine stone towers and spires of the Northamptonshire type. The finest of these are to be found at Keyston, Warboys, Buckworth, Easton and Alconbury. There is a curious spire at Bythorn and a good late spire at Yaxley.

Apart from the spires, 13th-century work is not of any great distinction, though there is a good chancel at Alconbury, as well as interesting remains of a vaulted church at Alwalton, and a good tower at Bury. Several churches of this period have internal wall-arcading.

Work of the end of this and the beginning of the following century is well represented, especially in the N. of the county. Stanground is a complete church of this period, and work of the same character occurs at Fletton, Yaxley, and elsewhere.

The finest individual example of the 14th century is the spacious chancel at Fen Stanton closely dated by the tomb of its founder, which still survives. Another curious work of the period is the apsidal chancel at Bluntisham, which has, however, been drastically restored. The tower at St. Mary, Huntingdon, is a notable example of the period.

Handsome churches, mainly of the 15th century, are to be seen at St. Neots, Buckden, Ellington and Wistow. The tower at the first-named place is perhaps the finest in the county, and the tower at Elton, though less ornate, is of good massive construction and outline.

After the Reformation, the buildings of the dissolved monastic houses, especially Ramsey Abbey, provided material for a certain amount of ecclesiastical building. Thus the tower at Holywell, built in 1547, was constructed from materials brought from Ramsey, and the re-used material in the 17th-century towers of Ramsey (1672) and Godmanchester (1623) had, perhaps, the same provenance. Other post-Reformation church-building includes the tower at Leighton Bromswold built in 1634, the tower at Brampton built in 1635, and the nave at Little Gidding built in 1714.

Comparatively little stone vaulting was used in Huntingdonshire churches. Ramsey and Alwalton are the only buildings showing evidence of the vaulting of any of the main spans, and the vault at Alwalton was removed in the 15th century. The late 12th-century vault of the chancel at Ramsey still survives, and there are also remains of the stone vaulting of two side chapels. Glatton possesses a stone-vaulted vestry of early 16th-century date, and there are vaulted porches at Buckden and Brampton. The ground-stage of the tower at St. Ives has also a stone vault, and there is a restored vault in the tower at Conington; the vaulted bell-chamber at Bury is said to have supported a beacon. At Great Staughton a projecting bay in the N. chapel has a panelled vault of early 16th-century date.

There are many good timber roofs in the county, but nearly all are of the low-pitched type and there does not appear to be a single example of the hammer-beam truss. The richest roof is to be found at St. Neots, where there is a profusion of carving including a remarkable series of beasts. The eastern bay of the nave-roof at Hemingford Abbots is painted and inscribed. Carved angels and other figures occur on roofs at Ellington, Offord Cluny, Alconbury, Fen Stanton, Kimbolton, Tilbrook, etc. All these roofs are of 15th or early 16th-century date, and indeed roofs of an earlier date are very uncommon; there is, however, a late 14th-century roof at Somersham, and remains of an early 14th-century roof, re-used, at Great Gidding. The stone corbels supporting the roof-trusses in the naves at Bluntisham and Somersham are carved with figures of unusual excellence. Roofs of the first half of the 17th century survive at Leighton Bromswold and Easton.

Monastic and Collegiate Buildings.

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Huntingdonshire contained the Benedictine Abbey of Ramsey, and priories of the same Order, at St. Ives and St. Neots, a Cistercian Abbey at Sawtry, Augustinian priories at Huntingdon and Stonely, a Benedictine nunnery at Hinchingbrooke, and a house of Austin Friars at Huntingdon. The remains of all these buildings are insignificant; the rich abbey at Ramsey is represented by remains of the Gatehouse and probably of the Lady Chapel; the lay-out of the abbey at Sawtry can be traced, but there are no structural remains; some portions of the nunnery at Hinchingbrooke are probably incorporated in the later house; and of the rest only a few fragmentary remains survive.

The parish church at Ramsey was perhaps built as a guest-house or hospital connected with the abbey, and at Huntingdon part of the 12th-century hall of another hospital has survived.

Post-Reformation collegiate building is represented only by the school-house at Godmanchester.

Secular Buildings.

The earliest secular building in the county is the mid 12th-century stone-built Hall-block at Hemingford Grey Manor House. It is an important example of a scanty class, more commonly represented in towns. Later mediæval building is uncommon, there being no examples of 13th or 14th-century houses, and but few of the 15th and first half of the 16th century. The surviving buildings of this age are all timber-framed except the gatehouse and undercroft at Elton Hall and the fragmentary remains at Kimbolton Castle which are of stone, and at Buckden Palace which are of brick. A series of houses of considerable interest begins in the middle of the 16th century and includes the converted monastic buildings at Hinchingbrooke and Ramsey, Stibbington Hall, Toseland Hall, Leighton Bromswold Castle and Upwood Manor House. Late 17th and early 18th-century building is best represented at Kimbolton Castle, at Huntingdon (Walden House, Ferrar's House and Cowper House), and Hemingford Grey Rectory.

Godmanchester contains a good series of timber-framed houses, many of them dated, and extending from the later part of the 16th century to 1714.

Huntingdonshire possesses a good series of bridges, of which the earliest is perhaps the fine structure at Huntingdon, dating mainly from c. 1300. The bridge at St. Ives retains its 15th-century chapel standing on the middle pier, and the bridge at St. Neots has a central arch of wide span. All these bridges cross the great Ouse. Wansford Bridge, in the northern part of the county, spans the Nene, and crossing minor streams are bridges at Alconbury, Spaldwick, Hinchingbrooke, Wistow and elsewhere.

The Barns of the county include besides the usual timber-framed structures, a number of large brick or stone barns, including the remains of one at Stanground, of 14th-century date.

Military architecture is represented in the county only by the Gatehouse at Elton and this is an example of late 15th-century castellated architecture built more to accord with tradition than to serve any useful military purpose.

Condition.

1. Pre-historic and Roman.—The ramparts at Chesterton have been much reduced by ploughing and several of the mounds have suffered from the same cause.

2. Mediæval Churches, etc.—Of the ninety-five churches of ancient foundation, in the county, six have been largely or entirely re-built, and the rest are, with very few exceptions, in a state of good structural repair.

About 10 per cent. of the secular buildings are in a poor or bad condition, but most of these are of little importance. The larger houses are nearly all in good condition and the same may be said of the bridges except that at St. Ives, where some of the piers show signs of subsidence.

The castle at Huntingdon has been divided by a railway-cutting, but the two 17th-century forts at Stanground and Bluntisham have been but little damaged by time or by the hand of man.

Fittings.

Altars: There is a mediæval altar-slab at Old Hurst and doubtful examples at Kings Ripton and Catworth.

Bells: There are apparently some forty-eight pre-Reformation bells still remaining in the county, but of these some of the later ones assigned to the founders Newcombe and Watts, are of rather doubtful date. The earliest bell is probably that at Sawtry, which may date from the early part of the 14th century; the first at Water Newton and the first at Bury are also of the 14th century, and have been attributed to the Ruffords. There are also four or more bells probably from the foundry of William Dawe, who flourished 1381–1418. The post-Reformation bells need not here be particularised, but mention must be made of the foundry of William Haulsey, established within the county, at St. Ives, between 1617 and 1629. He was responsible for the casting of eleven bells still existing in Huntingdonshire.

Brasses: The county contains comparatively few brasses of interest; the earliest is to a civilian and his wife, c. 1400, now covered by the organ at Tilbrook, another important example is to a member of the Moyne family, 1404, and his wife, at Sawtry; the male figure is in armour. There is another figure in armour, engraved c. 1440, at Offord Darcy and a figure of William Taylard, 1505, and his wife, at Diddington, may also be mentioned. Also at Offord Darcy is a kneeling figure of William Taylard, Doctor of Laws, c. 1530, in his academic robes.

There are a fair number of 14th-century indents of brasses with inscriptions in separate Lombardic letters; of these the most important are those at Fen Stanton and Great Gransden.

Chests: There are mediæval 'dug-out' chests at Somersham and Wistow. The later chests are not of great interest, but those at St. Neots, Easton, St. Mary Huntingdon, Great Gidding, Sawtry and St. Ives are worth mention; the last named is dated 1703. The chest at Sawtry has remains of painted decoration.

Communion Tables and Rails: Handsome examples of Jacobean and later Communion tables remain in the county; of these the richest are at Alconbury, St. Neots and Catworth, the last mentioned being dated 1634. Good tables of simpler design remain at Bythorn, Holme, Abbots Ripton, Upton, Winwick and Wyton. Communion rails of the Laudian period and of unusual and interesting form remain at Great Gidding and there are others of some note at Denton and Great Staughton.

Doors: The doors at Great Paxton, Wistow and Wyton, have 13th or 14th-century ornamental ironwork, and there are remains of similar work at Easton. Doors with traceried panelling remain at Brampton, Long Stow, Kimbolton, etc.

Fireplaces and Overmantels: Domestic fittings of this class are generally undistinguished. There are remains of a 12th-century stone fireplace in the Manor House at Hemingford Grey, but apart from this there is nothing of earlier date than the end of the 15th or the beginning of the 16th century. The wide fireplace in the Lion Hotel, Buckden, has a carved lintel of c. 1500. There are Elizabethan or Jacobean overmantels of carved oak at Hinchingbrooke (dated 1580), Buckden Manor House and Huntingdon (28). A fireplace at St. Neots (7) has a plaster panel above it with amorini.

Fonts: None of the fonts of the county are of very early date. Late 12th or early 13th-century examples of some distinction are to be found at Stibbington, Upton, Kings Ripton and Warboys; the two latter have square bowls with carved foliage-decoration, and both have been partly restored. The best fonts of later 13th and 14th-century work are at St. Ives, Stanground, Woodstone and Old Hurst. There are 15th-century fonts of some interest at Bluntisham, Little Stukeley, Little Raveley and Brampton, and a curious 16th-century example at Fletton. At Little Gidding there is a 17th-century font of brass.

Glass: There is little ancient painted glass of importance; the most complete example being the window at Wistow showing the Annunciation and Resurrection. The earliest glass of importance is probably that at Wood Walton which includes late 13th or early 14th-century figures of St. Katherine and St. Lawrence. There is fairly good tabernacle-work with small figures at Buckden and Upwood, as well as figures of seraphim at Catworth and a single figure at Kimbolton. Heraldic glass is poorly represented, though there are 14th-century shields at Covington and Stanground and later heraldry at Great Gransden and Sawtry. The only other glass that need be mentioned is the miscellaneous collection at Diddington, some good borders at Bury, and glass of a variety of types at Keyston, including a lion of St. Mark.

Lecterns: The remarkable 14th-century oak lectern at Bury is one of the most interesting fittings in the county. There is a much restored 15th-century lectern at Ramsey, and an early 17th-century example at Keyston, both of oak. A brass 'eagle-lectern' of the 17th century survives at Little Gidding.

Monuments: There are fifteen mediæval effigies in the county in a whole or fragmentary condition. The military effigies consist of the shattered examples at Hinchingbrooke and Orton Longueville and the curious late 13th or early 14th-century figure at Conington in a Franciscan habit. There are figures of priests at Morborne, Stibbington and probably at Southoe, the last a partial figure only, cut on a coffin-lid; the upper part of another figure of a priest survives at Grafham and at Gaynes Hall, Great Staughton, is the upper part of an effigy of an abbot under a small canopy; fragments of yet another effigy of a priest survive at Yaxley. The finest effigy of a civilian is that preserved at Ramsey Abbey, and there are others at Offord Darcy (with wife) and at Water Newton. A defaced effigy forms part of the coping of the Quay at St. Ives. The only wooden effigy is the 'cadaver' at Keyston. Other mediæval monuments, of interest, include a late 12th-century cross at Fletton, a heart-burial of c. 1300 at Yaxley, a good 14th-century tomb-recess at Abbotsley, an altar-tomb at Diddington and an altar-tomb in the churchyard at Buckden. Renaissance monuments are poorly represented in the county, there is, however, a good series at Conington, mostly erected by Sir Robert Cotton to the memory of his ancestors. Monuments with figures of judges remain at Great Staughton and Tetworth and there are other 16th and 17th-century monuments of interest at Chesterton, Kimbolton, Leighton Bromswold, Orton Longueville, Great Staughton and Upwood. At Elton is a slab with an incised figure in armour of 1600–1.

Paintings: Remains of mediæval figure-subjects are comparatively numerous. There are 'Dooms' at Broughton and Haddon and faint traces of a third at Ellington. Figures of St. Christopher occur at Orton Longueville, Molesworth, Hamerton and Hemingford Abbots, but the two latter are almost completely defaced; the figure at Molesworth is set in a large panel and has a corresponding painting of St. Anthony on the opposite wall. At Yaxley is a painted series of events after the Resurrection. Other figure-subjects are to be found at Glatton, Hamerton, Old Weston, Ramsey, and Conington. All the above are of 14th, 15th or early 16th-century date. There is some 13th-century painted decoration at Alconbury and Godmanchester. The screens at Bluntisham, Kimbolton and Tilbrook have painted figures of saints. At Yaxley the W. end of the nave has an elaborate scheme of painted decoration of early 17th-century date. There is little painted decoration in secular buildings, but a 'royal arms' survives at Godmanchester (60) and some conventional decoration at St. Neots (3) and Yaxley (10), all of late 16th or 17th-century date.

Piscinae: The earliest piscinae of interest date from the 13th century, and of this period there are good examples at St. Ives and Leighton Bromswold. Those at Catworth, Morborne and Holywell may also be mentioned. Piscinae with good detail of c. 1300 survive at Yaxley, Buckden and Stanground, and there are 14th-century examples at Brampton and Tilbrook. The best later examples are at Great Gransden and Conington.

Plate: The mediæval plate of the county consists of two patens, at Farcet and Long Stow respectively, the latter with the date-letter for 1491, a portion of a base metal coffin-chalice at Stanground and the fine repoussé dish at Upwood; this last is of Spanish origin, and the decoration of beasts and foliage is similar to several specimens in the Victoria and Albert Museum, S. Kensington. There are thirty-one Elizabethan cups in the county, the earliest being those at Godmanchester of 1559, and Abbotsley, 1564; fourteen date from the years 1568–9. The Kimbolton cup is perhaps of foreign workmanship, and has an elaborately engraved scene from the book of Bel and the Dragon. There is a curious secular bowl of 1630 (?) at Woodstone and a very handsome repoussé dish at Kimbolton. The cup (1614) at By thorn is also noteworthy.

Pulpits: There are mediæval pulpits at Fen Stanton and Catworth, the former with enriched 'linen-fold' panelling; the stems of two more survive at Yaxley and St. Ives. Late 16th and early 17th-century pulpits are best represented at Farcet, Buckden, Great Gransden, Orton Waterville, St. Ives, Yaxley, Leighton Bromswold and Caldecote; those at Farcet (1612), Yaxley (1631) and Caldecote (1646) are dated, but the pulpit at Farcet is made up with earlier work. The pulpit at Orton Waterville is a particularly rich example of late 16th-century work, and is said to have come from a church or college-chapel at Cambridge. Leighton Bromswold is remarkable as having two contemporary pulpits, differing slightly in design and placed on either side of the chancel-arch; they both retain their sounding-boards. At Eynesbury there is a good late 17th-century pulpit.

Rainwater-Heads and Pipes: The county contains some good examples of this form of leadwork, notably at Kimbolton Castle, Hinchingbrooke, Leighton Bromswold Church and Great Staughton Church. The examples at the two first named places have heraldic enrichments, while the leadwork at Leighton Bromswold has painted decoration. All these examples date from the 17th century, those at the churches being dated 1632–4 and 1656 respectively.

Screens: Two 14th-century screens remain in the county at Brampton and Offord Darcy, but the latter retains only the upper part. The best 15th and early 16th-century screens are at Abbotsley, Catworth, Glatton, Kimbolton, St. Neots, Tilbrook, Wistow, Great Paxton, Spaldwick and Yaxley. Of these the rood-screen at Tilbrook is the only one in the county retaining its loft. The screen at Yaxley is of the East Anglian type and one of the screens at St. Neots has carved decoration of unusual character, resembling that on the stalls in Henry VII's Chapel at Westminster. Three screens in the county, at Bluntisham, Kimbolton and Tilbrook, have painted figures of saints. There is a low chancel-screen of early 17th-century date at Leighton Bromswold, with turned balusters.

Sedilia: Few of the sedilia call for special notice, but there is a 13th-century example of some interest at Somersham and good ranges of c. 1300 in the N. chapel at Yaxley, Water Newton, and at Buckden, a 14th-century example at Elton and a somewhat elaborate early 16th-century recess with a canopy at Conington. Mention may also be made of the late 13th-century stone seats with arms at Farcet, Stanground and Houghton.

Staircases: The large houses of the county have almost all had their staircases either renewed or replaced. There are, however, remains of the rich dado-panelling of the late 17th-century staircase at Hinchingbrooke, and, at Kimbolton Castle, the adjuncts of the great staircase remain, though the wrought-iron balustrade appears to have been renewed. Of staircases in the smaller houses there are good examples of late 16th and early 17th-century work with symmetrically-turned balusters at Stibbington Hall, Hilton Hall, Toseland Hall, Manor Farm, Old Hurst, and the Manor House, Warboys. Other good staircases of rather later date survive at Offord Darcy Manor House, Yaxley (3), Buckden (7), and the Haycock, Sibson-cum-Stibbington (4). There are early 18th-century staircases at Ferrar's House, Huntingdon, and the Manor, Fen Stanton.

Stalls and Seating: There are 15th or early 16th-century stalls in the chancels at Godmanchester, St. Neots, and Yaxley, the two former with elbow-rests and misericords. The misericords, elbows and desk-ends at Godmanchester, have an interesting series of carvings. The stalls at St. Neots also have carving of poorer quality; those at Yaxley are in the form of benches and have been extensively restored. The finest seating in the county is at Eynesbury, where there is a richly carved series of early 16th-century pews. Other seating of interest survives at Great Gransden, Glatton and Diddington and there are early 17th-century stalls at Leighton Bromswold.

Footnotes

1 In 957 this section was already known as Earninga-straet, and Erning or Earning Street are old forms of the name. Victoria County History, Northants, I, 204 n.
2 References in V.C.H. Hunts, I.
3 Ibed.
4 Stukeley's suggestion is supported by Dr. Cyril Fox, The Archaeology of the Cambridge Region, p. 180.
5 See Ant. Jour. V. p. 287.
6 See the Inventories for North-West Essex and South-East Essex; and Ann. Soc. Archéol. Namur, XXIV (1900), p. 45; F. Cumont, Comment la Belgique fut romanisée, p. 88.
7 e.g. by Haverfield in The Romanization of Roman Britain, and in V.C.H. Northants, I; and by Miss. M. V. Taylor in V.C.H. Hunts, I.
8 F. Cumont, Comment la Belgique fut romanisée, p. 67.
9 C. Fox, Arch. of the Cambridge Region, pp. 168 ff.
10 Fox, op. cit., p. 170.
11 V.C.H. Hunts, I.


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