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account for their almost perfect hemispherical form, and the long grooved channels by which, in every locality, some of them have been united. Wavelets pushed over the edges of the basins by strong winds do not supply a sufficient cause; for then grooves would form the rule and not the exception.
On the whole it appears to me safe to conclude that these rock basins, whether wholly or partially natural or artificial, have been appropriated to the worship of the Druids. They furnish the means by which they could offer their sacrifices and perform their ablutions.* They would also suffice for baptism, and preserve the rain or the dew from being polluted by touching our "mother earth." mother earth." The Tolmen on the neighbouring hills, as noticed in Watson's History of Halifax, pp. 27-36, may be taken as an additional reason for associating Druidical worship with such remains. These contain small basins on their summits which differ in no respect from those previously enumerated. They have therefore most probably been used for similar purposes.
The subject may now be left to the judgment of the reader. He has most of the evidence for and against within his reach; and whether my conclusions be adopted or rejected, he will probably not be displeased to find a record of these remains in the Transactions of this Society.
wrought by the attrition of pebbles a few rock basons on the sides; and, in the "course of thousands of years, it has excavated a foot or two from the rock at "the point of its projection." (History of Whalley, 3rd edition, London, 1818, p. 371.)
Mr. King, in the Reader for 17th December, 1864, thus speaks of the "mysterious megalithic monuments of New Grange and Dowth," near the Boyne. "Instead of being sepulchral, as some imagine, I cannot but think that the "Boyne antiquities have been erected for religious purposes, as caves wherein "Druid priests performed their mystic rites. The huge stone basins, (one of "granite, one of sandstone, and another, broken, apparently of schist,) each "occupying one of the three recesses terminating the long entrance passages in "the New Grange mound, may have been used for sacrificial or baptismal "purposes." This opinion is in accordance with what is stated in the text, and adds weight to my conjectures.
THE ANCIENT BOROUGH OF OVER, CHESHIRE.
By Thomas Rigby Esq.
(READ 1ST DECEMBER, 1864.)
ALMOST every village has some little history of interest attached to it. Almost every country nook has its old church, round which moss-grown gravestones are clustered, where—
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
These lithic records tell us who lived and loved and laboured at the world's work long, long ago. Almost every line of railroad passes some ivy-mantled ruin that, in its prime, had armed men thronging on its embattled walls. Old halls, amid older trees-old thatched cottages, with their narrow windows, are mutely eloquent of the past. The stories our grandfathers believed in, we only smile at; but we reverence the spinning wheel, the lace cushion, the burnished pewter plates, the carved high-backed chairs, the spindle-legged tables, the wainscoted walls and cosy "ingle nooks." Hath not each its narrative? These are all interesting objects of the bygone time, and a story might be made from every one of them, could we know where to look for it.
With this feeling I have undertaken to say a few words about the ancient borough of Over in Cheshire, where I reside; and, although the notes I have collected may not be specially remarkable, they may perhaps assist some more able writer to complete a record of more importance.
Over is a small town, nearly in the centre of Cheshire. It consists of one long street, crossed at right angles by Over
Lane, which stretches as far as Winsford, and is distant about two miles from the Winsford station on the London and North-Western Railway. The Borough of Over embraces the townships of Over, Marton and Swanlow and contains about 5,000 inhabitants, who find occupation in agricultural pursuits and in the numerous extensive salt-works lying along the banks of the neighbouring River Weaver.
Over has a Mayor, who is appointed annually, and who exercises the duty of a Magistrate within the limits of the borough during his year of office; but, unlike other boroughs, it has no Councillors constituting a Corporation, nor does it return any member to Parliament. It is mentioned in Domesday Book, and is there spelt "Ovre" and reported as a borough by prescription or by immemorial custom; but it probably attained its position amongst English boroughs by special charter. "Houses joined together, or rows of houses "close to each other" might be the foundation of it; but, without the protection of the King or of some neighbouring Baron, the trade of the inhabitants would be liable to the raids of neighbouring foragers, who would rob and lay waste without let or hindrance except for the resistance of individuals in defence of their own. In those days" might gave right;"
The good old rule, the simple plan,
That they should take who have the power,
The state of the people of Darnhall, a township adjoining Over, was a complete serfdom or vassalage to the monastery of Vale Royal adjacent. They could not marry their daughters out of the manor without permission. The monastery tenants had to resort to the abbey mills and pay pasturage for their hogs. When any native died, the Abbot became entitled to "his pigs. "and capons, his horses at grass, his domestic horse, his bees, "his pork, his linen and woollen clothes, his money in gold "and silver and his vessels of brass." Other exactions were
made upon the poor tenants. In fact the Abbot stripped the dead of everything-leaving him nothing, by all accounts, but his winding sheet.
Although the people of Over were under the same rule, yet there is no mention of their having been in this degraded state; and it is probable, therefore, that they were protected by some charter of an early date. There is a charter existing in favour of Over, granting a weekly market and annual fair. This was obtained from the Abbot of Vale Royal and is dated the ninth of King Edward I; but no other is known to exist.
It is said by some that Over had a Mayor before Chester could boast of such a dignitary, and that the former takes precedence of the latter in this respect. Webb, who wrote two hundred years ago, says that "Over was made a Mayoral
town by means of the Abbot and convent of Vale Royal;" but Ormerod gives the name of Walter Lyneet as the first Mayor of Chester, in the twenty-sixth Henry III, A.D. 1242, which would be at least forty years before the establishment of the monastery; therefore the assumption of Over having this priority may be erroneous. It is probable that Over enjoyed the protection of the Norman kings or some powerful Baron or perhaps of the Earl of Chester, as a borough for trade, before the foundation of Vale Royal. However, it was the policy of the Norman rulers after the Conquest to confirm and enlarge the charters of previous Saxon monarchs and confer similar favours upon rising towns, and thus the allegiance of the inhabitants of such places would be secured. Henshall says, in his History of Chester, that "Over was "numbered among the immediate possessions of the Earl "of Chester until the fifty-fourth of Henry III, when it was "granted to the abbey of Vale Royal by Prince Edward."
It is probable that the appointment of Mayor emanated from the Abbot's inability or disinclination to attend to his magisterial duties. This potent Churchman lived in all the
splendour of a powerful Baron and possessed full judicial rights over the manors of Weaverham and Over, with which the Abbey was endowed. He had an extensive right of advoury," affording protection to criminals fleeing from the hands of justice-Over Church being, it is believed, one of the "sanctuaries," of which there were several in the County of Chester. The Abbot of Vale Royal was invested even with the power of dealing out capital punishment. In Town fields, near Over, there are several fields or crofts called " Loonts." These are narrow strips of land, which once constituted the common rights of the Over people. One of these still bears the title of the "Gallows Loont," from its being the site on which in olden time the gallows was erected. Indeed some very old men, recently deceased, used to affirm that they recollected in their young days seeing the oak side posts of this erection.
The Abbot of Vale Royal had also the power of Infangthef and Utfangthef, with the privileges of Tol and Stallagium, and the amends of bread and ale. Infangthef was liberty to try and judge a thief taken within his jurisdiction; Utfangthef was liberty to take a thief that fled and bring him back to the place where he had committed the crime; Tol was an imposition for things bought and sold in the markets; while Stallagium was payment for privilege to stand at markets and fairs. Accompanied by his Seneschal and under Seneschal, the Prior, Bailiffs and Gentry of the neighbourhood, the Abbot used to hold his court and there receive the oaths of fidelity of the large landowners and hear their recitation of the circumstances and obligations of their tenure, and also receive the acknowledgment of suit and service from every male burgess in the borough. He appointed a Coroner to hold regular courts of law in his manors of Weaverham and Over, for the administration of justice; and in the appointment of this officer I think may be traced that of Mayor.