----- Original Message -----
From: "Karl Wittwer" <[log in to unmask]>
> Margaret Gelling some while ago ("Signposts to the Past") pointed out
> were regular sound-changes to be applied, Badon might well give "Badbury".
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Kevin Flude" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> No, no modern Mons in Bath but it is very hilly! and if you live in a
> country without true Mons I daresay you might call one of the hills a Mons
Oh dear. Only just noticed this in my drafts folder, for which
I intended a reply several weeks ago:
Yes Bath is very hilly. There's the old I.A. hillfort of (Little!)
Solsbury Hill as you drive into Bath on the A6 (which isn't
that little, as anyone who has climbed it will know). This is
often mentioned in folklore as being Mount Badon. And it
would be a good defensive position. Only problem is there's
no archaeology to suggest it was occupied after the 1st c. BC.
and the steep slopes mean there's no access to the River
Avon, so it's not a good site to be besieged at.
But there is a far more likely candidate (to my mind) in
Bathampton Down, on the opposite (South) side of the
valley. This also has I.A. earthworks on it, and forms a
larger plateau, which could have accommodated a greater
population during a siege (as the battle of Badon is described).
The slopes are also not quite so steep as on Solsbury Hill,
and would thus have allowed access to the water supply in
the valley, not just for the population, but also the horses
that performed the cavalry counter-charge to break the
siege (also mentioned in the battle's description, c. 496).
But there are plenty of other candidates along the Ridgeway
as it runs through Wiltshire, just South of Swindon. Several
more I.A. hillforts, such as Barbury Castle and Liddington
Castle (Badbury) would offer good defensive positions. And
we know that Barbury was the site of the 556 CE battle of
Beran-birig, between the native population and the AS. For
in the ASC, the enemy admit that: "The Christian Britons
displayed their military skill...... by drawing their troops up
in three lines; the first being spear-armed infantry, the middle
being archers and the rear being cavalry". Interestingly, the
(10) recently discovered plumbatae at Wroxeter date as
late as 550-600 (when the city was finally annexed by
the AS Penda).
Barbury actually consists of a Hill Fort at the end of a
promontory of the Ridgeway, with a broad plateau in
front of it. Liddington is similarly situated, allowing for
a large population to live and spread out over the plateau,
and then seek refuge within the re-occupied Hill Fort
on the approach of danger. There are also more shallow
slopes to the North and East of Liddington than at
Barbury, which (as in the case of the comparison
between the two hills at Bath) would allow for the
cavalry charge mentioned for Badon. The only serious
shortcoming for either candidate is that they are miles
from the nearest source of water (unless they had some
form of storage on the hills for rainwater).
But then, a few miles further East, just off the Ridgeway,
we come to the village of Badon, itself. There are even
some extant terraced earthworks to the North of the
village, though these have been truncated, to some
extent, by the cutting for the M4 Motorway. So we
have no idea how large they would originally have been.
So the problem remains, not that we have no serious
candidates for the Battle of 'Mount' Badon, but that
we are spoilt for choice.
As a footnote, my good friend Heinrich Harke of
Reading University observes that 26 % of Germanic
inhumation burials of this period contain (remains of)
a shield; whilst 44 % contain at least one spear.
One can surmise that the cremation burials might
have included a similar percentage of each item -
except that they would have been kept back by the
living (as they would not fit into the funerary urn :o)
So in response to the recent question: Yes, in the
mid-sixth century (not the seventh) the movement of
Germanic peoples in the Eastern half of the island was
towards the West. Although, they seem to have been
beaten back during the previous century at various
geographical sites, only to return later. So it was
not for want of trying that it took them this long.
And much of the land in the East was certainly
not poor in agricultural terms. For example, Kent
(which was the first area to be colonised by the
Jutes) is known as the 'Garden of England', and
the North Downs are especially suited to growing
soft fruits (though less so these days, due to
foreign imports being cheaper, all-year-round).