Castles in the ‘airth’…

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‘In the early epic ‘Beowulf’ occur the similar words ‘beorh’ and ‘burh’.

The first used only for a tumulus or barrow, which was a burial place. The second for a  fortified or protected dwelling or enclosure.

Philologists have adopted these ‘meanings’ and have extended ‘burh’ to include, hill-top camps and also, later, enclosed settlements or towns which now carry the suffix -bury.

On this evidence, then, they derive -bury in a place name from ‘burh’ but not from ‘beorh’.

The ley student, on the other hand, finds that the earthwork enclosures called ‘burh’ (camps or castles) in most cases originated from a nucleus of an older tumulus or ‘beorh’. He notes, also, that farmers wishing to protect their roots call the earth-mound used for this purpose a ‘bury’ although the same heap of roots protected in a barn is not so designated.

Our modern verb ‘to bury’ has the earth covering and also the mound, for that matter, as an essential component yet cremated remains are not ‘buried’ if enclosed and protected in an urn and placed on a shelf in a chapel…’

Alfred Watkins – The Old Straight Track

 

 

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