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Devil's Dyke. Cultivation has nearly effaced it, but when it gets to the common, it is splendidly perfect, and goes on almost into the village of Beechamwell. I have taken its section, and its ditch is outwards towards the east, shewing it was made as a protection from invasion from those coming from the sea.
It may be taken that settlements were able to take care of themselves; probably they were defended by their own outworks, and therefore the dyke as it passes Beechamwell is lost. Oxborough is its central point. Southward it clears the fen land at Northwold, rising again direct from the water, and takes its course over the heath for eleven miles without the slightest fault to the west of Brandon, joining again the fen which spreads itself on either side of the Little Ouse, before the land on both sides closes at Brandon, two miles higher up. It is a grand sight to see this dyke running over the hills with the high road beneath it, stretching for miles and miles, telling us of the contests of tribes and people of whom all record is gone. But here again the ditch is to the east. The whole line of fortification from Narborough to Brandon I have said is continuous with this central fort at Oxborough, lying a little outward of its lines. It is one plan of defence—a defence against those coming from the east. Now let me take you a little further from Oxborough, still eastward of these lines, and speak for one moment of the other great ditch in Norfolk, the Launditch. I have traced every yard of it from Wendling to the parish of Litcham. It is caught here untouched at a common, and I have made sections also of it. Cultivation and enclosure have pretty well elsewhere effaced it. Its defence here is again to the east, and therefore these dykes must have been a despairing line of protection for a retreating and defeated people, earlier, I suggest, than the Iceni, and for reasons which follow. But one moment more, and I must ask some serious attention here.
Running south from Swaffham and eastward to our Devil's Dyke, is another line of forts parallel to it, shewn by the names of Hilborough, Ickborough, and perhaps Lynford. Now the name of Ickborough is generally considered to contain the remains of the name of the Iceni. See Guest's Origines Celticæ, vol. ii. p. 228. It would be called the fort of the Iceni, not by the Iceni themselves certainly, but by the neighbouring tribe, within whose boundary it was not. It was given, I would suggest, by those who were behind their own fortifications, as the name of the nation which was in possession there, and whose march was stayed by our Devil's Dyke, the great line of defence which the older inhabitants, driven out, had made. This division probably remained as a barrier between the two for a long time. The invaders were stopped in their progress westward, and the older inhabitants rested until they were again subdued, and the invaders themselves going forwards at the larger Devil's Dyke, near Newmarket, had to defend themselves from the foe coming eastward against them, for the ditch is there on the western side.
Before leaving these, as I may not write again for some time, let me speak of the “Launditch." I have shewn before that the Hundred of “Wayland” is called from the Padders' Way going through it, and Watton is the town on the way, so the Hundred of Launditch certainly has its name from the dyke, and Litcham is
· Dr. Guest on the Belgic Ditches, Origines Celticæ, vol. ii. p. 200, treats similar dykes in the south as the boundary dykes of the successive Conquests of the Belgæ, the northernmost and last being the great Wansdyke, extending from Berkshire to the Bristol Channel, but they must have also been defences against the unsubdued country.
2 See “Padders' Way,” by E. M. B., Cambridge Antiquarian Soc. Proceedings, 20th May, 1895,
the Ditch-ham, taking its name from the ditch, precisely the same as it is known that the Dittons take their names from the great dykes which have their rise in those villages. And it is not a far cry from Ditcham to Litcham. I would use it only as a suggestion-Max Müller gives this reducing the D to L as an instance of that laziness which causes phonetic degradation (see Max Müller's Science of Language, vol. ii. p. 260), thus it is that Odysseus becomes Ulysses ; lachryma comes from dakrus; and within our language we have Giles from Egidius, and the familiar "grill” from grid-iron. I would add it is well known that Alcibiades turned all his R's into L's, and the Chinese pronounce Europa Eulopa (Max Müller, vol. ii. p. 165).
Now may I carry this one step further, and I have done. The Padders' Way goes through Palgrave and Sporle, forming there the procession or “session ” lane. At its northern end, commencing at Palgrave, if you take the line of the three manor houses, they are all exactly on it. I would suggest that the D has deteriorated into L, and that Palgrave is the “pad-grave” or the path ditch, and this is strengthened because at its southern end when it leaves Sporle there is Petygards on it,-in mediæval documents, Padegates; which is the pathways, and which clearly denotes that that manor is named from the old track-way. It is the path ditch at the northern end and the pathways at the southern end.
THE EARLIER HISTORY.
Nothing is left of the early history of Oxborough and its neighbouring settlements, except what is written in the names of the villages near it, shewing their settlements on the beach, or on the well, or, as Stoke on the opposite shore of the northern gulf, the fortifi
cation by the water, and except what is scarred on the land by its dykes, or raised by its tumuli and forts. In the great survey Turchell held Oxborough. His name sounds as if there had been no dispossession here. But Ralfe of Limesi was put as the Norman over-lord, and the Dane remained. The over-lordship goes through several generations deeply uninteresting to record till it gets to William de Odingsell. He was over-lord of the whole town, and under him was Hubert Puffin, who gave lands to the Abbey of Dereham. Then Ralfe Worcester was an under lord. He had a patent for a weekly market--this was in 1252, and a fair every year for two days. In 1265 the lord returned all the writs, and his steward would not permit the sheriff to enter. The fair remained to days of memory. But I have begun to feed on Parkin: all the earlier portion of this paper has been my own.
The history of Oxborough is so carefully written by Mr. Parkin that those coming after him can only add very slightly to its details, and I have only to tell of the facts running parallel to illustrate it. In the 3rd of Edward I., Nicholas Weyland had the town, and from that year to the day that we all stood under the towers of Oxborough, it has been in one family. It is shortly in
1 Mr. Charles Parkin, of whom I ought here to speak as my authority was the Rector of Oxborough, and it may not be out of place to reliev these dry facts by a little personal narrative. I may say that he marrie a Mrs. Meriton, the widow of a previous rector, who had the patronag of the living for her life. He was the Rector of Oxborough, I ha understood, for forty years, and fortunately for its history he was a pers of very high intelligence, of great power of observation, and of inter industry. He wrote for Blomefield the whole of the Hundreds of Grimst and South Greenhoe. Blometield acknowledges that he did his “Oxboroug and Blomefield died very soon after, for in the title page of vol. iii. of folio edition, it is stated that from page 678 the history was contin by the Rev. Charles Parkin, A.M.
this wise: this Nicholas Weyland had a further grant of another fair of eight days. So we see that in its territorial rights and also in its business, Oxborough was a great place; for these fairs all meant business. It was to the markets weekly that the wayfarers brought their goods ; for the village shop, owing to the means of communication being imperfect, was an unknown thing until the beginning of this century. At least so Professor Thorold Rogers says. But the fairs would bring from all the surrounding country the buyers, and from afar the merchants and sellers of the luxuries and necessities of life. Oxborough seems to have been a kind of metropolis, for it had its harbour close by the older settlement near the rectory. It is still called the Hythe, and up to within the last century there were large warehouses there, and “ships” came backwards and forwards, taking the corn and bringing back merchandise to the district.
Then a William Weyland had Oxborough, and Robert and John, and John's line dies out, and the issue of Robert take it up, and Sir Thomas Tuddenham, his great grandson, inherits soon after 1427, on failure of the older line. But he was unfortunate, for he was the Sir Thomas Tuddenham who, in 1437, was in trouble with his wife, whom he had married before he was twenty-one, and from whom he was parted for ever, she having gone into the Nunnery of Crabhouse. The Chancellor of the Diocese and the Prior of Lynn heard the case at Lynn, and the full report of it is in the Institution Books at Norwich. The proceedings are fully set out, and occupy seventeen pages. They are headed :-“ Processus et sententia divortii inter Thomam Tudenham militem et Aliciam
1 Thorold Rogers' Six Centuries of Work and Wages, p. 146, excellent on mediæval village life.
? See Blomefield, vol. vi. p. 172. Joan, the widow of John Streche, who was childless, gave it up to Thomas Tuddenham, her cousin.