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Nor 'in their long co-habitation with Ægyptians, crept into a custome of their exact embalming, wherein deeply slashing the muscles, and taking out the brains and entrails, they had broken the subject of so entire a Resurrection, nor fully answered the types of Enoch, Elijah, or Jonah, which yet to prevent or restore, was of equall facility unto that rising power, able to break the fasciations and bands of death, to get clear out of the Cerecloth, and an hundred pounds of oyntment, and out of the Sepulchre before the stone was rolled from it.
But though they embraced not this practice of burning, yet entertained they many ceremonies agreeable unto Greeke and Romane obsequies. And he that observeth their funerall Feasts, their Lamentations at the grave, their musick and weeping mourners; how they closed the eyes of their friends, how they washed, anointed, and kissed the dead; may easily conclude these were not meere Pagan-Civilities. But whether that mournfull burthen, and treble calling out after Absalom, had any reference unto the last conclamation, and triple valediction, used by other Nations, we hold but a wavering conjecture.
Civilians make sepulture but of the Law of Nations, others doe naturally found it and discover it also in animals. They that are so thick skinned as still to credit the story of the Phoenix, may say something for animall burning : More serious conjectures finde some examples of sepulture in elephants, cranes, the sepulchrall Cells of Pismires, and practice of Bees; which civill society carrieth out their dead, and hath exequies, if not interrments.
THE Solemnities, Ceremonies, Rites of their Cremation or enterrment, so solemnly delivered by Authours, we shall not disparage our Reader to repeat. Only the last and lasting part in their Urns, collected bones and Ashes, we cannot wholly omit or decline that
Subject, which occasion lately presented, in some dis covered among us.
In a Field of old Walsingham, not many moneths past, were digged up between fourty and fifty Urnes, deposited in a dry and sandy soil, not a yard deep, nor farre from one another : Not all strictly of one figure, but most answering these described : some containing two pounds of bones, distinguishable in skulls, ribs, jawes, thigh-bones, and teeth, with fresh impressions of their combustion. Besides the extraneous substances, like peeces of small boxes, or combes handsomely wrought, handles of small brasse instruments, brazen nippers, and in one some kinde of Opale.
Near the same plot of ground, for about six yards compasse, were digged up coals and incinerated substances, which begat conjecture that this was the Ustrina or place of burning their bodies, or some sacrificing place unto the Manes, which was properly below the surface of the ground, as the Avæ and Altars unto the gods and Heroes above it.
That these were the urnes of Romanes from the common custome and place where they were found, is no obscure conjecture, not farre from a Romane Garrison, and but five Miles from Brancaster, set down by ancient Record under the name of Brannodunum. And where the adjoyning Towne, containing seven Parishes, in no very different sound, but Saxon Termination, still retains the name of Burnham, which being an early station, it is not improbable the neighbour parts were filled with habitations, either of Romanes themselves, or Brittains Romanised, which observed the Romane customs.
Nor is it improbable, that the Romanes early possessed this Countrey; for though we meet not with such strict particulars of these parts before the new Institution of Constantine, and military charge of the Count of the Saxon shore, and that about the Saxon Invasions, the Dalmatian Horsemen were in the Garri
In one sent me by my worthy friend, Dr. Thomas Witherley of Walsingham.
son of Brancaster : Yet in the time of Claudius, Vespasian, and Severus, we finde no lesse than three Legions dispersed through the Province of Brittain. And as high as the Reign of Claudius a great overthrow was given unto the Iceni, by the Romane Lieutenant Ostorius. Not long after, the Countrey was so molested, that, in hope of a better state, Prastaagus bequeathed his Kingdome unto Nero and his Daughters; and Boadicea, his Queen fought the last decisive Battle with Paulinus. After which time and Conquest of Agricola, the Lieutenant of Vespasian, probable it is they wholly possessed this countrey, ordering it into Garrisons or Habitations best suitable with their securities. And so some Romane Habitations, not improbable in these parts, as high as the time of Vespasian, where the Saxons after seated, in those thin-fill'd Mappes we yet finde the Name of Walsingham. Now if the Iceni were but Gammadims, Anconians, or med that lived in an angle, wedge, or Elbow of Brittain, according to the Originall Etymologie, this countrey will challenge the Emphaticall appellation, as most properly making the Elbow or Iken of Icenia.
That Britain was notably populous is undeniable, from that expression of Cæsay." That the Romans themselves were early in no small Numbers Seventy Thousand, with their associats slain by Boadicea, affords a sure account. And though many Roman habitations are now knowne, yet some by old works, Rampiers, Coyns, and Urnes, doe testifie their Possessions. Some Urnes have been found at Castor, some also about Southcreake, and not many years past, no lesse than ten in a Field at Buxton,? not near any recorded Garison. Nor is it strange to find Romane Coynes of Copper and Silver among us; of Vespasian, Trajan, Adrian, Commodus, Antoninus, Severus, &c. But
1 Hominum infinita multitudo est, creberrimaque ædificia ferè Gallicis consimilia. --Cæs. de Bello Gall. 1. v.
? In the ground of my worthy friend Rob. Jegon, Esq. wherein some things contained were preserved by the most worthy Sir William Paston, Bart.
the greater number of Dioclesian, Constantine, Constans, Valens, with many of Victorinus Posthumius, Tetricus, and the thirty Tyrants in the Reigne of Gallienus ; and some as high as Adrianus have been found about Thetford, or Sitomagus, mentioned in the itinerary of Antoninus, as the way from Venta or Castor unto London. But the most frequent discovery is made at the two Casters by Norwich and Yarmouth,at Burghcastle, and Brancaster.s
Besides the Norman, Saxon, and Danish peeces of Cuthred, Canutus, William, Matilda,4 and others, some Brittish Coynes of gold have been dispersedly found; and no small number of silver peeces near Norwich ;5 with a rude head upon the obverse, and an ill formed horse on the reverse, with inscriptions Ic. Duro. T.; whether implying Iceni, Durotriges, Tascia, or Trinobantes, we leave to higher conjecture. Vulgar Chronology will have Norwich Castle as old as Julius Cæsar; but his distance from these parts, and its Gothick form of structure, abridgeth such Antiquity. The British Coyns afford conjecture of early habitation in these parts, though the City of Norwich arose from the ruines of Venta, and though perhaps not without some habitation before, was enlarged, builded, and nominated by the Saxons. In what bulk or populosity it stood in the old East-Angle Monarchy tradition and history are silent. Considerable it was in the Danish Eruptions, when Sueno burnt Thetford and Norwich, and
1 From Castor to Thetford the Romanes accounted thirty-two miles, and from thence observed not our common road to London, but passed by Combretonium ad Ansam, Canonium, Cæsaromagus, &c. by Bretenham, Coggeshall, Chelmeford, Burntwood, &c.
2 Most at Caster by Yarmouth, found in a place called Eastbloudyburgh furlong, belonging to Mr. Thomas Wood, a person of civility, industry and knowledge in this way, who hath made observation of remarkable things about him, and from whom we have received divers Silver and Copper Coynes.
Belonging to that Noble Gentleman, and true example of worth, Sir Ralph Hare, Baronet, my honoured Friend.
4 A peece of Maud, the Empresse, said to be found in Buckenham Castle, with this Inscription, Elle n' a elle, 6 At Thorpe.
8 Brampton Abbas Journallensis.
Ulfketel, the Governour thereof, was able to make some resistance, and after endeavoured to burn the Danish navy:
How the Romanes left so many Coynes in Countreys of their Conquests, seems of hard resolution, except we consider how they buried them under ground when upon barbarous invasions they were fain to desert their habitations in most part of their Empire, and the strictness of their laws forbidding to transfer them to any other uses; wherein the Spartans were singular, who, to make their Copper money uselesse, contempered it with vinegar. That the Brittains left any, some wonder ; since their money was iron and Iron rings before Cæsar ; and those of after stamp by permission, and but small in bulk and bigness; that so few of the Saxons remain, because, overcome by succeeding Conquerours upon the place, their Coynes, by degrees, passed into other stamps and the marks of after-ages.
Than the time of these Urnes deposited, or precise Antiquity of these Reliques, nothing of more uncertainty. For since the Lieutenant of Claudius seems to have made the first progresse into these parts, since Boadicea was overthrown by the Forces of Nero, and Agricola put a full end to these Conquests; it is not probable the Countrey was fully garrison'd or planted before ; and therefore however these Urnes might be of later date, not likely of higher Antiquity.
And the succeeding Emperours desisted not from their Conquests in these and other parts; as testified by history and medall inscription yet extant; The Province of Brittain in so divided a distance from Rome, beholding the faces of many Imperiall persons, and in large account no fewer than Cæsar, Claudius, Britannicus, Vespasian, Titus, Adrian, Severus, Commodus, Geta, and Caracalla.
A great obscurity herein, because no medall or Emperours Coyne enclosed, which might denote the date of their interrments, observable in many Urnes,
1 Plut, in vità Lycurg.