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RECORDS OF BUCKINGHAMSHIRE.
As the chief work of the Bucks Architectural and Archæological Society is the issuing of the papers read before the members at the meetings of the Society, it is worthy of notice, as an evidence of what has recently been accomplished, and of the increasing energy of the Society from a literary point of view, that in comparing Volumes V. and VI. of the RECORDS, the period taken in collecting together the former volume occupied from the year 1879 to 1885, whilst the latter volume is the result of the Society's publications from 1836 to 1890. This last volume reminds us of the losses the Society has sustained by the death of its distinguished President, the Duke of Buckingham ; of an old and valued friend and contributor to the RECORDS, the Rev. Bryant Burgess; and of its former indefatigable Secretary, the Rev. Charles Lowndes. In its pages will be found fitting tributes to the memory of these prominent members, of whom the Society has been deprived. As the ranks have been filled up it is gratifying to have, as the succeeding President, the Bishop of Oxford, whose suitability to the position, in every sense, will be at once recognized, and who, we may hope, will at some future time give the Society the advantage of his great historical and archæological experience.
In again referring to the volume completed during the past year, it will be found that all the papers contributed are essentially on archeological or historical subjects in connection with Buckinghamshire, and that the writers may be said to have had the special purpose of carrying out the main objects of the Society-namely, the adding to the knowledge already acquired, which must ultimately result in an accurate and comprehensive county history. The papers which have been published have, as a rule, been previously read before the Members at the Church or Manor House, or other place of interest of which they treat. This, of course, is the usual practice with kindred societies, and is the one most suitable and the most conducive to intelligent investigation, and the most likely to lead to still further research--and it is a practice which will certainly be pursued in the future, with the earnest hope that an interest for archæology will be found to exist in every part of a county so well worthy of the attention of those who have made the subject their study.
In 1890 the Bibliotheca Buckinghamiensis was completed by our member, Mr. Henry Gough, and collected into a volume, with an excellent index. It is a publication which every library in the county should possess, and which will be found of great service to the student who is pursuing his investigations, whether in the county at large or in any separate parish. It is only to be hoped that some other member will follow in Mr. Gough's steps, and undertake a like independent and useful work in connection with the Society.
Two of the members of the Society are engaged on important subjects, the mention of which should not be omitted. Mr. A. H. Cocks is bringing out a volume on “The Church Bells of Buckinghamshire.” The work had its origin, it will be remembered, in a former volume of the RECORDS, where a very interesting account of the bells in the Hundred of Desborough is given. Our junior Secretary, Mr. John L. Myres, with the sanction of the Bishop, is obtaining a return of the church plate in the Archdeaconry of Buckingham; the information gained by this return, we may hope, will result in a volume on the church plate of Bucks—a subject which is being separately treated in other counties with unquestionable utility and advantage.
The discovery, in 1888, of British pottery from a barrow on an elevation above Wycombe Marsh, referred to at
page 259 of Vol. VI., is one of those finds to which attention should again be called, from the fact of this being probably an isolated example of very early pottery found in Bucks and preserved.
Perhaps the most important work the Society could now undertake would be an archæological map of the county, and as the Society of Antiquaries offers to publish such a map at its own expense, and to facilitate the supply of copies to local societies, a very opportune time is afforded for the work. This work might be shared by a few members, each taking in hand some special branch.
The foundation of the undertaking would be a bibliography, collected by one well acquainted with the literature of the county ; Mr. Gough’s labours, already alluded to, would be of invaluable assistance, and would render the collection comparatively easy. When the objects of interest thus recorded in the sources of information indicated are grasped, and this is really the task which requires thoroughly mastering, then the map may be commenced. Let us consider the special objects of archæological interest Buckinghamshire affords us. It cannot boast of considerable Roman remains, it is not specially famed for walled towns or castra within its borders, but it has a very early history. Take, for instance, the Chiltern district, the country of the Cattieuchlani, or Cassii, as Dr. Guest remarks in his “ Origines Celticæ,” “the country of the great tribe which for nearly two centuries predominated in Britain,”a tribe that also occupied Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. This district is traversed on the crest of its hills by the Icknield way, one of the most important track-ways in England, and along either side of its course are the remains of considerable earthworks, camps, and numerous tumuli, indicating the presence of an active bygone race. Overlooking this great trackway, too, and the Vale of Aylesbury, are the wellknown White Leaf Cross above Princes Risborough and the Bledlow Cross. Then there is the remarkable ditch still bearing the name of the Grimsdyke, which traverses the edge of the Chilterns from Berkhamsted to Princes Risborough, and which Dr. Guest considers was adopted by the West Sexe as the western boundary of their conquest, when, as he says, “ they swept the valleys of the Ouse and Thame, or the districts dependent on the burghs of Lenborough and Aylesbury, by the union of which with the woodlands of the Chilterns the modern County of Buckingham has been formed.” To mark with precision such objects as are thus indicated in the Chiltern district on a coanty map is a work of no little importance. When we call to mind that two of the four great British strongholds that held out against the Saxon invaders-Lenborough and Aylesbury-are situate in the County, we realize that there is much of our early history still to be unravelled that is centred in the locality; and, whilst on the subject, it should be remarked that it may be of no slight consequence to accurately indicate the position of tribal settlements, as an aid to future historical investigation.
In these introductory remarks it is obviously not the intention to take a survey of the archæological resources of the entire county, but by calling attention to one particular district, it may be shown what can be done if a map on the lines I am pointing out is undertaken.
Mr. George Payne, F.S.A., in his archæological map of Kent, published in the “ Archæologia” (see Vol. 51,