Keith Hunt - Ancient London #4 - Page Four   Restitution of All Things

  Home Previous Page Next Page

Ancient London #4

Ancient Kings and Others #2


Continued from previous page:

time a few old walls are all that remain of the royal Castle. The
property belongs to the Duke of Somerset, in whose family it
appears to have been since the Stuart times.
     Neither in Keltic literature nor in tradition have we been
able to find any mention of the movements of Brutus immediately
after he had been proclaimed King Paramount at Totnes. It is
probable he lost no time in making his way to the headquarters of
Kymric administration, the Metropolitical Temple of the "Mighty
Ones," Abury or Avebury, and that within the supreme Gorsedd, the
chosen of the People was first "lifted" 1 by the Elders to a
stone sedd or seat according to a most ancient custom of the
Kymry, and there crowned within the precincts of the stone
circle, in the presence of a vast concourse assembled on the
Earth-circle (a mile in circumference) that enclosed the Temples
of the sun and moon, the only portion, alas! of this majestic
prehistoric monument that was not destroyed in the wreckage of
the eighteenth century.
     That Stonehenge was standing at this time is no longer an
uncertainty, thanks to Sir Norman Lockyer's observations and
calculations, taken from the precincts of the Solar Circle, which
have proved the "Circle of the Dominion" to have been erected
circa 1680 B.C., some five centuries before the fall of Troy in
1185 B.c., and the subsequent dispersion of the Trojans. These
dates may possibly help us to identify the personalities of the
mysterious "7 Old Kings" and "7 New Kings," whose barrows may be
seen on the horizon from the Great Circle of the Ambresbiri. The
tumuli of the "7 Old Kings" may be the burial mounds of the
monarchs of Hu Gadarn's migration, who each in his day had been
"lifted" and "crowned" within the northern circle of the
"Potentes," under the shadow of the mighty mound of the Cludair
Cyvrangon whose age, like that of the Temple of Abury, will
probably never be known.
     And may not the barrows of the "7 New Kings" contain the
mortal remains of the successors of Brutus, of the heroic
1 Richard II was the last king who was "lifted" to the stone
seat, which clown to the time that the Houses of Parliament and
St. Stephen's Chapel were burnt, 1833, was at the upper end of
Westminster Hall.

     Trojan race, destined, as they believed, to sway a wider
Empire than either the Asiatic or Italian Troy (Rome)- a
tradition which some hope is in the course of fulfilment?
     In the Chronicles it is stated that "Brutus, minded to build
him a chief city, went round the whole circuit of the land in
search of a fitting site. When he came to the river Thames he
found the very spot best suited to the purpose. He therefore
founded his city there and called it New Troy, and by this name
it was known for many ages thereafter until at last, by
corruption of the word, it came to be called "Trinovantum."
     A glance at the index of an atlas shows that London was not
the only city in Europe to have been called after the historic
Troy; there are two towns of that name in Italy and one in
France. In the ancient Troy on the Tagus, although practically
destroyed by the earthquake, many remains of so-called Phoenician
masonry may still be seen. In our own case we have to account for
the loss of the name of Troy before the Roman invasion in 52 B.C.
The solution of the difficulty may be that the older prehistoric
name of the Llandin triumphed over the alien appellation of Caer
     Brutus' knowledge of the different seaports of the
Mediterranean would have led him at once to appreciate the
exceptional capabilities of the site of the Kymric Caer, perched
on a hillock on the narrowest reach of a tidal river, with two
natural ports, the Walbrook and the Fleet, and practically
impregnable by land, girt in as it was by primeval forest on the
north, by fen and moor on the east and west and unapproachable
from the south, the shore from Battersea and Greenwich being one
unbroken expanse of mud some 8 miles long, varying from 2 to 2
and 1/2 in width, twice in every twentyfour hours submerged by
the tide.
     The numerous prehistoric remains unearthed in the city and
figured in the catalogue of the Guildhall Museum afford positive
proof of a Neolithic occupation, succeeded by that of the Bronze
Age. The evidence of these material remains point to the
probability that the original settlers were no other than the
first wave of emigrant under Hu Gadarn, the mounds and
circle-builders of Britain.
     Seeing that the great waterway of the Severn had its
Glastonbury and its Caerleon, and the South Coast its Totnes and
its Winton, it is most unlikely that the site of London would
have been neglected from the coming of Hu Gadarn in the time of
Abraham, to the arrival of Brutus and his Trojans in the days of
Samuel, unique as it is, in position as the only high ground on
the North Bank of the Thames, 60 miles from the sea. Navigable,
moreover, for nearly its entire length of 150 miles, the
prehistoric mounds of Windsor, Wallingford and Oxford testify to
the existence of early Kymric settlements on the banks of this
all-important waterway on the East of the Island. 
     Brutus is celebrated in the Triads as one of the "Three King
Revolutionists of Britain," the Trojan system under him being
incorporated with the Patriarchal. The changes which the Trojan
Prince intended to carry out may have influenced his choice in
making the Porth of the Llandin his capital, a trading centre,
removed from the immediate influence of the Druidic authorities
at Abury, who would, naturally, have resented any innovation of
their own ancient laws. It is satisfactory to find the text of
the Triad confirmed by the most learned jurists, who refer the
original Institutes of our Island to the Trojan law brought by
Brutus. Lord Chief Justice Cope (Preface to Vol. III of Report)
affirms "the original laws of this land were composed of such
elements as Brutus first selected from the Ancient Greek and
Trojan institutions."
     It is to these native laws, says Morgan, and "not as has
been absurdly alleged to any foreign or continental source,
German, Saxon or Norman, Britons have in all ages been indebted,"
for the superior liberties they have enjoyed as contrasted with
other nations. Lord Chancellor Fortescue, in his work on the
"Laws of England," justly observes, "Concerning the different
powers which kings claim over their subjects, I am firmly of
opinion that it arises solely from the different nature of the
original institutions. So the kingdom of Britain had its original
from Brutus of the Trojans, who attended him from Italy and
Greece and wove a mixed government, compounded of the regal and
     The most memorable of the laws of Brutus is that of the
Royal Primogeniture, by which the succession to the Throne of
Britain was vested in the eldest son of the King. This was known
as pre-eminently "the Trojan law," and has in all ages regulated
the succession to the British Crown among the British dynasties.
It was eventually adopted by the Normans and became the law of
England. Another fundamental ordinance established by Brutus was,
that the sovereigns of Cambria and Alban should be so far
subordinate to the sovereign of Llcegria that they should pay him
annually forty pounds weight of gold, for the military and naval
defence of the Island. The whole Island was never to be regarded
otherwise than one Kingdom and One Crown. This Crown was called
"the Crown of Britain" and the sovereignty over the whole Island
vested in it - the Crownship of Britain, Unbennaeth Prydain. The
military leadership remained in the Eldest Tribe, the Kymry, and
from it the Pendragon, or military dictator, with absolute power
for the time being, was, in the case of foreign invasion or
national danger, to be elected. The leadership was the same as
Sparta exercised in Greece and Rome in Italy. Every subject was
as free as the King. There were no other laws in force than those
which were known as Cyfreithiau, or "Common Rights." There were
no slaves, the first slaves in aftertimes were the Caethion, or
captives taken in war.
     The Usages of Britain could not be altered, by any act of
the Crown or National Convention. They were now considered the
inalienable rights to which every Briton was born, and of which
no human legislation could deprive him. Many of these usages are
remarkable for their humane and lofty spirit, for instance,
"There are three things belonging to a man, from which no law can
separate him - his wife, his children and the instruments of his
calling, for no law can unman a man, or uncall a calling."
     A British or Trojan law remains in full force to this
daythat the sceptre of the Island might be swayed by a queen as
well as a king. In the Pict kingdom, the succession went wholly
by the female side. Amongst the continental nations no woman was
permitted to reign, the Saxons considered it a disgrace to a king
to be seen seated on a throne with a queen.

     The chariot system of warfare and the system of military
castrametation are said to have been introduced into Britain by
Brutus. Caesar describes both as having attained, in his time,
the highest perfection. The British castrametation was, in some
important respects, superior to the Roman.

     Another memory of the Trojan colonization is perpetuated in
the numerous Troy Towns or Mazes cut in the turf in all parts of
England and in those which still exist in the uplands of Wales,
called by the shepherds "Caerdroia," the city of Troy, allusion
to which is made in Drych y Prif Oesoedd and in other Welsh
histories. There is nothing more popular among the Welsh, we are
told, than the belief that they came originally into this island
from Caerdroia. This tradition has impressed itself so indelibly
on the Keltic mind, that we see even shepherds on the summit of
every hillock making pictorial representations in the surface of
the grass of the labyrinthine walls of ancient Troy. On the
plains on both sides of the Solway, mazes are also to be met
with, and as in Wales herdsmen still cut labyrinthine figures
upon the turf, which they call, for no reason except that their
fathers used the same expression, the "Wall of Troy."
     Whether the name Troy Town was used generically of all
turf-cut mazes, it is impossible to say, but it is certain that
many of them in different parts of the country were so
designated, and both in name and in form take us back to
classical antiquity. Even around London the name survives; for
example, at Peckham Rye an old row of cottages built on the site
which formed part of the Common is called Troy Town. The upper
garden at Kensington was known as the "Siege of Troy"; it was on
this site William III laid out a topiary maze, and at about the
same time he restored Henry VIII's popular maze at Hampton Court,
which that monarch may have probably founded upon a yet earlier
maze of unknown antiquity.
     At Blackheath another maze may be identified in the midst of
the prehistoric remains, where, not far from the entrance to
Morden College, successive ridges and depressions, faintly
discernible, represent the remains of the old labyrinthine
pathway. An old survey of the Manor of Greenwich shows that the
familiar thoroughfare of Maze Hill led direct to the Maze. That
this commanding tableland was an important centre of civilization
in remote antiquity is certain from the partial remains of the
prehistoric Gorsedd (Great Seat) to-day known as Whitfield's
Mount, where, as upon similar sites in the vicinity of London
previously described, the "Privelege" of the people to hold
public meetings still survives, and it is only within the memory
of the present generation that the numerous barrows, which for
centuries crowned the Lansdown (Llan, sacred) and the Point,
commanding the river for some six miles on the east and west, as
also the upper part of the royal Park, have been ruthlessly
destroyed in order to supply the ever-increasing demands for
cricket and football grounds.

     Passing right through the middle of these tumuli on the
Heath ran Watling Street, the old trade route from the South
Coast to the Porth of the Llandin. Its north-westerly course has
been traced on the high ground near Peckham, where, as we have
seen, was another Troy Town, probably connected with the "Place
of Assembly," the Sacred Mound at Kennington. The names of Maze
Pond, Maze Street, and Maze Lane, near the site of the old Ferry
on Bankside, Southwark (Wark, fortification), preserve the memory
of yet another of these places of amusement, as some suppose them
to have been, and suggest the presence of a large population,
composed probably of traders and merchants connected with the
control of the corn supplies from the numerous "dene holes," or
granaries, in Kent and Surrey, for it was at this point that food
and other commodities were conveyed into the old Caer of New
     The Ferry at Southwark would appear to have rivalled the
ford at Westminster in importance, from the fact that before a
stone of the Abbey was laid, we find St. Swithin, Bishop of
Winchester, in the ninth century buying up the site of the ferry
and building his beautiful cathedral, to which he attached a
college for the training of secular priests to minister to the
spiritual needs of the people, as well as to administer civic
justice. It is to the first Chancellor-Bishop St. Swithin that
the eountry owes the first organized attempt to reestablish the
Druidic system of Church and State government on Christian lines,
a system peculiar to Britain, with the traditions of which the
Bishop would have become acquainted in royal Winchester, where
his Cathedral stood on the actual site of a Druidic Court of
Justice. It has been thought, moreover, that it was the Druidic
College of Priests in the Close that suggested to St. Swithin to
found Theological Colleges at Winchester and Southwark. Be this
as it may, on the north side of the sacristy of Southwark
Cathedral the remains of the Saxon apse are said to exist, and
marking the work of St. Swithin as the first Chancellor-Bishop of
England is the original stone seat on the north-east side of the
Chancel, where, for centuries, Bishops of Winchester held their
Consistory Courts.
     Not only was the great St. Swithin the founder of secular
education in Saxon times, but it is to the Chancellor-Bishop, the
Church owes the revival and restoration by statute of the Druidic
law of tithes. The terrible incursions and depredations of the
Danes, the Bishop regarded as a visitation of Providence for the
neglect and poverty into which the Churches in all parts of the
country had been allowed to fall from the lack of funds and
dearth of clergy. It was to remedy the latter need that he
established his Seminary at Winchester, the "Nurserie" of his
College at Southwark, and in order to alleviate the former, King
Ethelwulf by his Chancellor's advice "booked" (gebochde) the
tenth part of the land of the kingdom to God's praise and his own
eternal welfare. The deed was written at Winchester (from early
British times to Edward III the seat of government) and laid
solemnly on the altar of the Cathedral Church in presence of
Swithin and the Witan - the Saxon Parliament. It was thus by
consent of Church and State that the payment of tithes became
established as a national institution. The original Charter is in
the British Museum, written in the year 834, with the consent of
those witnesses whose names and signatures are attached.

     To go further afield, in addition to the mazes at
Blackheath, Peckham Rye and Southwark, there is Troy Town at
Rochester, adjoining an open space called the Vines; Troy Town, 3
and 1/4 miles from Dorchester, a maze at Leigh between
Yetminster and Yeovil; Wick Down at Downton; Breame Down near
Salisbury; St. Ann's, Sneinton, Notts.; another near Ripon;
Comberton in Cambridgeshire; Caerleon in Monmouthshire, and the
maze at Somerton, near Oxford, known to this day as Troy Town or
Troy Farm. Ruskin compares the design of this Oxfordshire
turf-cut Troy Town, or maze, to the circular labyrinth of
Daedalus depicted on a stone in Lucca Cathedral, and he is the
first to call attention to the fact that it closely resembles the
circular labyrinth on a coin of Knossos in Crete. But the three
most interesting examples are Saffron Walden maze, which occupies
a space of 138 feet by 100, while the convolutions of its path
are said to measure about a mile in length; the maze on the
Winton (sacred mound), St. Catherine's Hill, Winchester; and the
Alkborough Maze, commanding the Humber on the borders of
Lincolnshire, known as Julian's Bower. It is a curious
coincidence that the design of these three existing mazes should
belong respectively to the types seen on the coins of Crete,
casts of which have been kindly given to the author for
reproduction, by Mr. G. F. Hill of the Coin and Medal Department,
British Museum.
     This is no chance resemblance, but has behind it the fact
attested by Virgil that the Trojans came from Crete (AEneid iii.
     Stukeley tells us that the Maze at Alkborough, in
Lincolnshire, used to be known within his own recollection as
"Julian's Bower," and he adds that the same name was applied to
many other mazes then existing on village greens. The word Bower
in place-names is a corruption of Burgh, a castle or city. Julian
is probably no other than Julius or lulus, the son of AEneas of
Troy. Julian's Bower is therefore the "City of Iulus," which may
be taken as the equivalent of Troy Town.
     The names of Troy Town and Julian's Bower, applied to our
ancient English mazes, were treated in uncritical times as
"confirmation strong as Holy Writ" of the descent of the Ancient
Britons from Brutus and his Trojan followers. However much this
tradition may be questioned there must have been some reason for
associating these turf-cut labyrinths on our downs and commons
with the city of Priam and the connecting link may perhaps be
found in the Roman game of Troy.
     An animated description of the Troy Game is given in the
AEneid, book v, in a passage in which Virgil professes to afford
an account of its origin:

     "Father AEneas commands all the throning people to draw back
     from the long Circus and that the plain should be clear. The
     youthful warriors advance and in even line glitter on their
     bridle steeds before their fathers' eyes: as they pass by
     all the youth of Troy and Sicily admire and cheer. The hair
     of all is restrained according to rule by garlands of
     slipped leaves; they bear two shafts of Cornel wood tipped
     with steel; some wear polished quivers on their shoulders;
     high on the breast a bent circlet of twisted gold runs round
     their neck. Three troops of horse and three leaders gallop
     hither and thither; twelve youths follow each captain and
     shine in divided bands under leaders of equal bodies, and
     each of the three squadrons broke up its companies with
     parted bands and again at a signal they wheeled around and
     charged with levelled spear. They then made charges and
     retreats to and fro, still opposite to one another, and they
     interlock hither and thither their wheeling circles, and in
     arms present the image of a battle; and now they expose
     their backs in flight, now charge with spear, and now make
     peace and ride abreast.
     As in days of old, the Labyrinth in lofty Crete is said to
     have possessed a way, enmeshed 'mid baffling walls and the
     tangled mystery of a thousand paths, that there, a trickery,
     that none could grasp, and whence was no return, might
     destroy the clue of progress; just so the sons of Troy
     entangle their paths at a gallop, and interweave flight and
     combat in sport; like dolphins who, as they swim through the
     waters of the sea, cleave the Carpathian and Libyan deep and
     gambol through the waves. This mode of exercise and these
     contests first did Ascanius revive, when he girdled Alba
     Longa with walls, and taught our Latin forefathers to
     celebrate after the fashion in which he himself when a boy,
     and with him the Trojan youth, had celebrated them. The
     Albans taught their sons and from them mighty Rome received
     the games in due course and cherished the ancestral custom,
     and even now the game is called Troy, and the boys are
     called the Trojan band. Thus far were the games celebrated
     in honour of the holy sire of AEneas."

     This account of Virgil's produces the impression of a
bewildering complexity of movement upon clearly formulated lines,
and it must be admitted that there is a striking coincidence in
the fact that on the one hand we find Virgil describing the Troy
Game as consisting of movements which are only comparable to the
entangled pathways of the labyrinth or maze of Crete; and that,
on the other hand, we find our ancient turf-cut mazes so commonly
known down even to our own time as Troy Towns or Walls of Troy.
The coincidence becomes all the more remarkable when we see how
Virgil connects Lulus or Julius with the Troy Game, and recall
that Julian's Bower, that is Julian's Castle or City, is another
name given to our old English mazes.

     The story of the Cretan Labyrinth referred to by Virgil, in
illustration of the "entangled" and "interwoven" figures of the
Troy Game, is familiar even in our nurseries. The skilful workman
Daedalus constructed for King Minos a labyrinth, in the centre of
which the Minotaur had his lair. No one who entered this
labyrinth could find his way out again. The seven young men and
maidens who formed the annual tribute of Athens were sent into
the Maze, lost themselves in its winding passages, and were
devoured by the monster. Theseus slew, the Minotaur and escaped
out of the labyrinth by the help of the clue which Ariadne had
given him.
     But what had the Cretan legend to do with Troy?
     It is material to recall that Ilium was supposed to have
been founded by settlers from Crete. Virgil tells us in the
AEneid, that Crete was the cradle of the Trojan race and the
source of its national religion. Virgil is understood to have
based his poem upon mythical histories which have since
altogether disappeared, and it may be assumed that the ethnical
connexion of Troy with Crete was an accepted belief in the age in
which he wrote. Thus it is possible that the story of the
Minotaur may have been regarded as a legend of the Trojan people,
and the famous labyrinth may have been associated in the popular
mind with Troy as well as Crete.
     Again it must be remembered that Troy had a legend of its
own which bore a strong resemblance to that of Crete. The story
was that Neptune and Apollo appeared in the guise of men before
Laomedon, King of Troy, and undertook, for an

To be continued

  Home Previous Page Top of Page Next Page

Navigation List:

Word Search: