Monday, January 15, 2007

When is a Wall not a Wall?

When it’s a potential archaeological feature, of course. According to F. T. Wainwright’s ‘Fieldnames of Amounderness Hundred’: “Wall names are always worthy of notice; they vary greatly in significance, but it is never wise to ignore possible indications of ancient sites.”
The name ‘Wall’ itself is derived from the Old English ‘weall’ referring to a rampart more often than not of Roman construction. Of course, ramparts are also connected with other structures, from defensive embankments surrounding villages and keeills, to cobbled roads crossing the Wyre’s treacherous marshes. Therefore anywhere bearing this epithet might well have been named by some long forgotten farmer who accidentally ploughed into a buried historical site without realising its significance.
There’s an area of Eccleston that’s teeming with ‘Wall’ names; ‘Wall Farm’, ‘Wall Pool Bridge’, ‘Wall Mill Pool’. The district itself is now known simply as ‘The Wall’. Considering that Eccleston was recorded in the Domesday Book as ‘Eglestun’ meaning ‘The Village of Egil’ (one of Athelstan’s mercenaries associated with the Battle of Brunanburh) it wouldn’t be too far fetched to assume that Egil himself was defending a fort or village in this vicinity during that famous encounter.
Then again, as Sigmund Freud might have put it: “Sometimes a wall is just a wall.” Obviously not all ‘Wall Fields’ will contain historic structures…otherwise the Wyre would be bursting at the seams with as yet undiscovered archaeology. ‘Wall Fields’ are extremely common, however, cropping up with alarming frequency at places such as ‘Great Wall Greaves’ in Claughton, ‘High Wall Furlong’ and ‘Low Wall Furlong’ in Hambleton, ‘Wall Field’ in Forton and ‘Wall Butts’ in Singleton.
Perhaps the most interesting, however, can be found in Carleton just south of ‘Dick’s Mill Terrace’ across Poulton Road. Although the field maps in Fleetwood Library are difficult to read without a magnifying glass, this particular ‘Wall Field’ (to the best of our interpretation) lies either on or next to the peculiar mound shown in the photograph below.

The mound, itself, continues on the other side of the road, is almost perfectly circular and is surrounded by a large ditch. Was this the site of some Roman fortification, perhaps? Did it originally house a keeill or, possibly, a fortified Saxon village? Well, other names in this district suggest that it might have done. The area is known on old maps as Anglesholme, a name referring to ‘the village of the Angles’, and Carleton itself is recorded in the Domesday Book as ‘Ceorlton’ meaning the ‘Village of the Lowly Saxon Landowners’.
Obviously, as yet, we don’t know what the mound actually is or whether the ‘Wall Field’ name is significant to it. However, if you happen to know of a ‘Wall Field’ yourself and, if the owner of said field is ready and willing, it might be worth getting your spade out and taking a closer look.

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