High Cross, Leicestershire

High Cross, Leicestershire

High Cross is the crossroads of the Roman Roads of Watling Street and Fosse Way in Leicestershire, England. It is located about a mile west of the village of Claybrooke Magna and was located in the hundred of Guthlaxton. It was the site of a Roman fort known as Venonis.

In 2005, Watling Street is now a dual carriageway section of the A5, the southern part of the Fosse Way is a B road, and the northern route of the Fosse is now a track which forms a part of a long-distance path called the Leicestershire Round.

A Roman Station

:"text based on extract from The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, see below"

About two miles to the west of Little Claybrook, in the hundred of Luthlaxton, in Leicestershire, is a place called High Cross, which, according to some antiquarians, was the Benonce or Vennones of the Romans.

Dr. Stukely describes this station as situated at the intersection of the two great Roman roads, "which traverse the kingdom obliquely, and seem to be the centre, as well as the highest ground in England; for from hence rivers run every way". The Foss Way went on the backside of an inn standing here, and then off towards Bath.

The ground around this area is very rich, and much Ebulus (a herb much sought after for the cure of dropsies) grows here. Claybrook Lane has a piece of quickset hedge left across it, betokening one side of the Foss which passes exactly north-east and south-west as it does upon the moor on this side of Lincoln.

In the garden of the inn mentioned above, a tumulus was removed in about 1720, under which the body of a man was found; various other similar finds have been produced locally, along with the foundations of buildings: these have been frequently dug up along the street here, all the way to Cleycestre along Watling Street. Both sides of the way have been ploughed and dug up and many ancient coins, great square stones bricks and other rubbish found. These apparently come from an ancient Roman building, not far from a beacon, standing upon the way now called High Cross, the location of a cross which at one time had stood there.

The Camp of Claudius

At the intersection of the roads is the pedestal, &c. of a cross which was erected here in the year 1712; on which are the two following Latin inscriptions. On one side is:

:"Vicinarum provinciarum, Vervicensis scilicet et Leicestrensis, ornamenta, proceres patritiique, auspiciis, illustrissimi Basili Comitis de Denbeigh, hanc columnam statuendam curaverunt, in gratam pariter et perpetuam memoriam Jani tandem a Serenissima Anna clausi A.D. MDCCXII."

Which is thus translated:

:"The noblemen and gentry, ornaments of the neighbouring counties of Warwick and Leicester, at the instances of the Right Honourable Basil Earl of Denbeigh, have caused this pillar to be erected in grateful as well as perpetual remembrance of Peace at last restored by her Majesty Queen Anne, in the year of our Lord, 1712."

The inscription on the other side runs thus:

:"Si Veterum Romanorum vestigia quaeras, hic cernas viator. Hic enim celeberrimae illorum viae militares sese mutuo secantes ad extremes usque Britanniae limites procurent: hic stativa sua habuerunt Vennones; et ad primum ad hinc lapidem castra sua ad Stratam, et ad Fossam tumulum, Claudius quidam cohortis praefectus habuisse videtur."

Which may be translated thus:

:"If, traveller, you search for the footsteps of the ancient Romans, here you may behold them. For here their most celebrated ways, crossing one another, extend to the utmost boundaries of Britain; here the Vennones kept their quarters; and at the distance of one mile from hence, Claudius, a certain commander of a cohort, seems to have had a camp, towards the street, and towards the foss a tomb."

The ground here is so high, and the surrounding country so low and flat, that it is said, fifty-seven churches may be seen from this spot by the help of a glass.

Manners, Customs, and Dialects of the people of the District.

The following judicious remarks on the customs, mariners, and dialectsof the common people of this district by Mr. Macauley, who published ahistory of Claybrook, may be amusing to many readers.

The people here are much attached to "wakes"; and among the farmers and cottagersthese annual festivals are celebrated with music, dancing, feasting, andmuch inoffensive sport; but in the neighbouring villages the return ofthe wake never fails to produce at least a week of idleness,intoxication, and riot.

These and other abuses by which those festivals are grossly perverted, render it highly desirable to all the friends of order and decency that they were totally suppressed. On Plow Monday isannually displayed a set of "morice dancers"; and the custom ofringing the curfew is still continued here, as well as the pancake bellon Shrove Tuesday.

The dialect of the common people is broad, and partakes of the Anglo-Saxon sounds and terms. The letter "h" comes in almost on every occasion where it ought not, and it is frequentlyomitted where it ought to come in. The words "fire", "mire",and such like, are pronounced as if spelt "foire", "moire";and "place", "face", and other similar words, as if spelt "pleace", "feace"; and in the plural you sometimes hear "pleacen", "closen", for closes, and many other words inthe same style of Saxon termination. The words "there", and"where", are generally pronounced "theere" and "wheere";the words "mercy", "deserve", thus, "marcy","desarve". The following peculiarities are also observable:"uz", strongly aspirated for "us"; "war" for "was";"meed" for "maid"; "faither" for "father";"e'ery" for "every"; "brig" for "bridge";"thurrough" for "furrow"; "hawf" for "half"; "cartrit" for "cart rut"; "malefactory" for "manufactory";"inactions" for "anxious". The words "mysen" and"himsen", are sometimes used for "myself" and "himself";the word "shoek" is used to denote an idle worthless vagabond; andthe word "ripe" for one who is very profane. The following phrasesare common, "a power of people," "a hantle of money," "I can't awhile asyet." The words "like" and "such" frequently occur asexpletives in conversation, "I won't stay here haggling all day and"such"." "If you don't give me my price "like"." Themonosyllable "as" is generally substituted for "that"; "thelast time "as" I called," "I reckon "as" I an't one," "Iimagine "as" I am not singular." Public characters are stigmatizedby saying, "that they set poor lights." The substantive "right"often supplies the place of "ought", as "farmer A has a right topay his tax." Next ways, and clever through, are in common use, as "Ishall go clever through Ullesthorpe." "Nigh hand" for probably,as he will nigh hand call on us. "Duable", convenient or proper:thus "the church is not served at "duable" hours." Wives of farmersoften call their husbands "our master," and the husbands call theirwives "mamy", whilst a labourer will often distinguish his wife bycalling her the "o'man." People now living remember when "Goody"and "Dame", "Gaffer" and "Gammer", were in vogue amongthe peasantry of Leicestershire; but they are now almost universallydiscarded and supplanted by Mr. and Mrs. which are indiscriminatelyapplied to all ranks, from the squire and his lady down to Mr. and Mrs.Pauper, who flaunt in rags and drink tea twice a day."


* "This article incorporates public domain text from "The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction", Vol. X, No. 272, published September 8, 1827."

External links

* [http://www.roman-britain.org/places/venonis.htm Venonis]
*" [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/12595 The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction] ", Vol. X, No. 272, published September 8, 1827

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