Annals of a Fortress - AbeBooks - Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc:
They say that the land is good, and can support a much greater number of inhabitants than it does now. They bring an abundance of things useful to man. They teach youths to ride, and to use arms against evil men. They say in fine that we have nothing to fear, and that you may return to your dwellings. They also say that if you will not return to your homes and live in peace with them, they will kill us all like wild beasts, for they are both numerous and strong. They will await your answer here until the sun reaches the middle of its daily course.
This is all we have to say. Several of the elders of the valley then came out of the wood and advanced towards the captives; but the party of fair-haired men made signs to them to come no farther, and fitted their arrows to the strings of their bows. The captive who had already spoken, again addressed them: "Do not come any nearer; deliberate among yourselves, and give an answer quickly. The old men thereupon assembled, and having cut some branches of trees on which they seated themselves, one of them spoke thus: "These fair-haired people with painted faces are more numerous than we; they have murderous, weapons, and horses, and are brave; we are not able to drive them out of the valley; if they desire to live with us in peace, as they say they do, why not [Pg 8] consider them as friends?
Is it to their advantage to kill us? They possess many things which we have not, and are provided with what they need. Have you not observed the flocks and herds, the loaded waggons, and the women and children that accompany them? They are not empty-handed robbers. Let us accept the conditions they offer us.
One of the hunters, among the bravest in the valley, then rose and spoke in his turn: "Why do these people with painted faces come into our valley? It is to take possession of it and drive us away.
Annals of a Fortress.
They are strangers to us, and we have never done them any harm. Why do they not remain where they were born? Will there be fish enough in the river and enough wild animals in the forest to feed them and us?
They will take all and leave us nothing. Fighting against them is impossible, it is true—but we can fly. There are other valleys and other rivers not far off. Let us take our wives and children with us; I know the woods as far as three days' journey. Let us leave our huts and our boats, and go and settle far away from these strangers.
Some of the most venerated of the inhabitants of the Val d'Ohet tried more than once to impose silence and make themselves heard, but the tumult continuing to increase, the assembly was broken up into groups, and the women began to cry out and lament and the children to weep. Meanwhile the little party of fair-haired men had begun to cut some bushes and briars and to make a rampart with them. Not long afterwards twelve boats crossed the river, and sixty of the strangers came and joined the first twelve.
These were bearing twelve oval shields of wicker-work covered with skin. They set up these shields by means of stakes driven in the ground, and placed themselves behind them; only their heads painted red and blue and their sparkling eyes remained visible. They were laughing together loudly.
Midday was at hand, and confusion continued to prevail among the fugitives. Then were heard again those strange sounds which had so much alarmed the unhappy inhabitants of Ohet at dawn; and the shore opposite to the promontory was covered with a multitude of fair-haired men in several detachments, all armed. They began to cross the river, and to seat themselves in a line on the shore beneath the plateau. Then the captive who had already spoken advanced alone toward the forest, and when he was within hearing, said: "My friends, my brethren, you are going to be attacked: and we are to be killed before your eyes.
Have pity on yourselves—have pity on us; come down to the fair-haired men; they will do you no sort of harm; they have respected your houses and the women that have fallen into their hands. Do not hope to defend yourselves, for they will kill you with their keen weapons! He was a short, robust man, of dark complexion and crisp hair; he was well known as a skilful carpenter, and the best boats were his handy work. They will be able to fly with their [Pg 10] families; for the strangers do not know how many we are. As for myself, I remain where I was born. Many had bows and stone hatchets.
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The strangers laughed, skipped, and leaned their brows on the breasts of the inhabitants of the valley in token of good will. Thus some hundreds of the natives went down towards the river surrounded by their new guests. They were compelled to get into the boats, and they went back to their houses, which had been completely pillaged. Many of the huts remained vacant, and the new-comers took possession of them, without troubling themselves much respecting the inhabitants and what had become of them.
Two centuries later, the land of Ohet had assumed a new aspect, and its name was changed. It was then called the Valley of Avon.
Beautiful fields, affording pasture to flocks and herds, carpeted the slopes of the bordering hill; while in the vale below ripened harvests of barley and rye. The uplands were still covered with forest, and on all sides wooden houses peeped out from the meadows, with their inclosures of palisades painted in lively colours. The marshes of the rivulet were drained, and at the summit of the promontory was to be seen cutting the sky the talus of an Oppidum which commanded the valley and the two streams.
Its origin was as follows:—. Not long after the invasion of the fair-haired people, the inhabitants of the valley who had fled into the woods had re-appeared, accompanied by a great multitude of men of the same race, and at dawn had fallen with great violence and loud cries upon the strangers. The latter, not expecting an attack, defended themselves as best they could; but the younger and more active among them assembled on the promontory, where they waited until night.
Then they descended noiselessly, crossed the stream, and fell in their turn upon the men of the ancient race, who thought to repossess themselves of the valley. The greater number were asleep; many [Pg 12] had dispersed in search of food and plunder. The young fair-haired men massacred a vast number of them, making no distinction between the old inhabitants who had remained in their homes and those who presented themselves as enemies; the women and children alone were spared.
Catalog Record: Annals of a fortress | HathiTrust Digital Library
After a council of the elders, and after having consulted the women, it was decided that in order to prevent fresh surprises, and to protect the inhabitants of the valley, they should form a vast camp on the promontory, where in case of alarm the people of the valley of Avon could take refuge with their families, their flocks and herds, provisions and arms, defy every attack, and resume the offensive at the opportune moment. The summit of the promontory was therefore cleared; every able-bodied man was required to give one day's work in four till the camp was finished; and those of the old inhabitants who had escaped the massacre, as well as the children and women, had to labour without ceasing at the circumvallations.
The women prepared food for the workmen, and the children carried earth in baskets or brought branches of trees which were mingled with the earth. First, with the aid of strong levers of wood hardened by fire, the stones which obtruded above the level of the plateau were forced out and arranged on the perimeter described; then upon this layer, behind which was [Pg 13] heaped coarse gravel mixed with earth, were placed trunks of trees, crosswise, four feet apart.
The width of the base was twenty feet. The interval between the trunks was filled with stones, earth, and branches. Then another layer of stones mingled with earth, then three rows of trunks of trees, laid this time lengthwise, bound together with strong bands of green withy, always with gravel between. On this a third layer of stones, more trunks of trees across, overlapping the others, and a topping of gravel, of turf and soil, forming the rampart walk.
Stakes were placed upright, five feet apart, and firmly driven three feet down into the rampart on the outer edge, serving to fix, by means of osier bands, wattled hurdles five feet six inches high, so as to form a continuous parapet pierced with loop-holes. The rampart rose to a height of five feet. The inclosure completed, the Druids marked out the area allotted to the eight tribes. To each of them was given a circular space of two hundred feet in diameter; the huts were disposed in two rings around the perimeter; in the middle was the paddock for the animals and the hut of the chief.
The general view of the camp is given in Fig. The entrances were masked by a mound forming [Pg 15] an advanced work, and leaving two ways out along the ramparts. The two extremities of the rampart were strengthened by a wider embankment, H , affording space for a numerous assemblage of defenders. Here is shown the screen thrown up outside the cutting, and at K the sunken road with its mound, L. The camp finished—except the habitations of the tribes, whose site was only marked by circles of stones—a certain number of young men were put to live there, who [Pg 17] replaced each other every day.
Arriving there at sunset, they remained in the camp until the beginning of the next night. Those of the former inhabitants of the valley who still lived were forbidden to enter the camp on pain of death. The tribes prospered, enriching themselves with the produce of the earth and with their cattle. Some, having discovered copper ore in the neighbourhood, manufactured arms and utensils. There were also potters who wrought skilfully in clay. At certain periods of the year, merchants brought to the valley stuffs, salt, spices, and even wine in leathern bottles.
They took in exchange articles of bronze, skins, cheese, and corn.
The tribes, not having had any fresh attacks to resist during a lengthened period, left off guarding the camp, which was rarely visited except on occasion of certain solemnities and of assemblies convoked by the Druids. The latter lived by themselves, surrounded by their college, within the vast inclosure which they cultivated, and where their sheep and cattle grazed. The ramparts, whose timber work had decayed, had sunk, and presented only a slight elevation.
They were overgrown with vegetation in several places. But in the peaceful state in which the tribes were living, no one thought of repairing these defences.