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Mornington Vic. Specimens of his handiwork show that he was a much more civilised person than his predecessor, and presented a much higher type of humanity. Anderson is of opinion that the stone circles were developed out of the hedge, or setting of stone, which frequently surrounds the base of a barrow, and was intended to keep the ghost in, and prevent it from injuring the living. What remains have we in our English villages of our Saxon forefathers, the makers of England? South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands. The sea worked its relentless way through the chalk hills on the south and gradually met the waves of the North Sea which flowed over the old Rhine valley. Part of the wall is still about 10 feet high. There is a fine circle at Rollright, in Oxfordshire, which is the third largest in England. Westbury Vic. The Upper Saltway was the communication between the sea-coast of Lincolnshire and the salt mines at Droitwich; and the Lower Saltway led from Droitwich, then, as now, a great centre of the salt trade, to the sea-coast of Hampshire.❿
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He could spin thread, and weave stuffs, though he usually wore garments of skins. His dwellings were no longer the caves and forests, for he made for himself rude pit huts, and surrounded himself, his tribe, and cattle with a circular camp.
Their implements are far superior to those of the Old Stone men, and are found on the surface of our fields, or on hillsides, where they tended their flocks, or dug their rude pit shelters. Their weapons and tools are highly polished, and have evidently been ground on a grindstone. They are adapted for an endless variety of uses, and are most skilfully and beautifully fashioned. There are finely wrought arrowheads, of three shapes—barbed, tanged and barbed, and leaf-shaped; axes, scrapers for cleansing and preparing skins for clothing, hammer stones, wedges, drills, borers, knives, and many other tools.
In the Reading Museum may be seen a heavy quartzite axe and chipped flint hatchet, which were found with some charred timber on an island in the Thames, and were evidently used for scooping out the interior of a boat from a tree with the aid of fire. So this New Stone man knew how to make boats as well as a vast number of other things of which we shall presently speak more particularly.
His descendants linger on in South Wales and Ireland, and are short in stature, dark in complexion, and narrow-skulled, like their forefathers a few thousand years ago.
Another wave of invaders swept over our land, and overcame the long-headed Neolithic race. These were the Celtic people, taller and stronger than their predecessors, and distinguished by their fair hair and rounded skulls.
From the shape of their heads they are called Brachycephalic, and are believed to have belonged to the original Aryan race, whose birthplace was Southern Asia. At some remote period this wave of invaders poured over Europe and Asia, and has left traces behind it in the languages of all Indo-European nations.
Their weapons were made of bronze, although they still used polished stone implements also. We find chisels, daggers, rings, buttons, and spear-heads, all made of bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, and fashioned by the skilled hands of these early Celtic folk. As they became more civilised, being of an inventive mind, they discovered the use of iron and found it a more convenient metal for fashioning axes to cut down trees.
When Caesar came to Britain he found that the inhabitants knew the use of iron, even the less civilised early Celtic settlers driven northwards and westwards by the Belgae, had iron weapons, and the wild Caledonians in the time of Severus, although they were naked, woad-dyed savages, wore iron collars and girdles and were armed with metal weapons. Such are some of the relics of antiquity which the soil of our native land retains, as a memorial of the primitive people who first trod upon it.
Concerning their lives and records history is silent, until the Conqueror tells us something of our Celtic forefathers.
From the scanty remains of prehistoric races, their weapons and tools, we can gather something of the earliest inhabitants of our island, and try to realise their habits and mode of life. Barrows near churchyards—Their universality—Contents—Food in barrows—Curious burial customs—Belief in future life—Long and round barrows—Interior of barrow—Position of bodies—Cremation— Burial urns—Articles of dress and ornament—Artistic workmanship— Pottery—Remains of agriculture—Organised condition of society among prehistoric people.
It is not unusual to see a barrow in the centre, or near, an old churchyard, as at Taplow, Bucks. The church was built, of course, much later than the erection of the mound; but doubtless the early preachers of the gospel took advantage of the reverence which was paid to these ancient tombs, proclaimed there the story of the cross, and on the spots so consecrated churches were ultimately built.
These mounds have much to tell us of the early inhabitants. To cover the dead with a mound of earth was a custom common to all nations. The pyramids of Egypt are only glorified mounds; and our islands can boast of an endless variety, sometimes consisting of cairns, or heaps of stones, sometimes of huge hills of earth, feet in height, as at Silbury, Wilts, and covering five acres; while others are only small heaps of soil a few feet high.
The contents of the tumuli differ also. Sometimes the bodies were burnt and the ashes preserved in rude urns; sometimes they were not cremated. Sometimes they were buried in stone cists, or in the hollowed trunk of trees; sometimes without any covering save that of the earth. In nearly all cases we find numerous articles buried with the dead, such as personal ornaments, weapons, pottery, and food. The presence of food in the tumuli testifies to the natural instinct implanted by the Creator in the human heart with regard to a future existence.
The idea that the soul of the departed is about to take a long journey is constant and deeply rooted; the rainbow and the milky way have often been supposed to be the paths trod by the departed, who require sustenance for so long a journey.
The Aztecs laid a water-bottle beside the bodies to be used on the way to Mictlan, the land of the dead. Bow and arrows, a pair of mocassins with a spare piece of deerskin to patch them if they wear out, and sinews of deer to sew on the patches with, together with a kettle and provisions, are still placed in the graves by the North American Indians.
The Laplanders lay beside the corpse flint, steel, and tinder, to supply light for the dark journey. A coin was placed in the mouth of the dead by the Greeks to pay Charon, the ferryman of the Styx, and for a similar purpose in the hand of a deceased Irishman. The Greenlanders bury with a child a dog, for they say a dog will find his way anywhere. In the grave of the Viking warrior were buried his horn and armour in order that he might enter the halls of Valhalla fully equipped.
These and many other examples might be quoted showing the universality of the belief in a future life, a belief that was evidently shared with other nations by the primeval races who inhabited our islands in prehistoric times. The presence of food and drinking vessels in the tumuli clearly shows this, and also the store of weapons and implements, adzes, hammers, scrapers, and other tools which the barrows have preserved through so many ages.
These barrows are not confined to one period or one race, as their shape denotes. Some are long, measuring to feet in length by 60 or 80 feet wide; others are circular. The former were made by the long-headed dolichocephalic race of whom we have already spoken; the latter by the round-headed brachycephalic , conquerors of their feebler long-skulled forerunners. When we consider the poor tools used by these primitive peoples, we may wonder at the amount of labour they must have expended on the construction of these giant mounds.
Countless toilers and many years must have been needed to produce such wonderful memorials of their industry. With better tools we will proceed to dig into these mounds and discover what they contain.
First we notice an encircling trench and mound surrounding the barrow, the purpose of which is supposed to have been to keep the dead person in the tomb, and prevent it from injuring the living. After much digging in the centre of the barrow we find a single stone chamber, entered by a passage underneath the higher and wider end of the mound. Sometimes the chamber is divided into three parts, the centre one being covered by a dome, formed by the overlapping of the stones in the upper parts of the walls.
The passage leading to the centre chamber is also built with large stones erected with much care and skill. The contents of these long barrows are not so interesting, or numerous, as those contained in the round barrows.
The skeletons are usually found in irregular positions, and few weapons or ornaments accompany the buried bones. Derbyshire possesses many barrows; wherever in a place-name the suffix low occurs, derived from the Anglo-Saxon hlow , signifying a small hill or mound, a barrow is generally to be found.
The long barrow is usually about feet in length, 40 feet wide, and 8 to 12 feet high. They run east and west, frequently north-east by south-west, the principal interment being usually at the eastern and higher end. The bodies are often found in a cist or box made of large stones, and several were buried in one mound, generally on the south and east sides, so that they might lie in the sun. This practice may have been connected with sun-worship; and the same idea prevailed in modern times, when the south side of the churchyard was considered the favoured portion, and criminals and suicides were relegated to the colder north side.
The position of the bodies varied, but usually they were buried in a crouching position, with knees bent and head drawn towards the knees. This was probably the natural position which a man would assume when he slept without a luxurious bed to lie upon, and with little to cover him, in order to keep himself as warm as possible.
Hence when he sank into his last long sleep, his mourning relatives would place him in the same posture. In the Channel Islands bodies were often placed in a kneeling position. The custom of burning the body seems to have been adopted later by the same long-headed race who used the long barrows, and prevailed more in the north of England, in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and Scotland, than in the south.
The cremation was sometimes not very thoroughly performed. The bodies were placed together, wood being piled about them, and over the heap the mound was raised. Then the fire was lighted, which naturally only partly consumed the bodies. We find also, mingled with bones of men and women, the bones of animals, which were probably the remains of funeral feasts.
As we have said the round-headed race introduced the circular barrow, and cremation was their usual, though not exclusive, practice. These people were much stronger and bigger men than their predecessors, their powerful jaws and projecting chins showing much more power of will than the softer narrow-faced dolichocephalic race. However, in the round barrows we also find the bodies of the latter, and we gather that they were not exterminated or driven out by their conquerors, but mingled with them, intermarried, until at length the type of the long-skulled race prevailed, and the Celt of later times possessed the features of the race he had formerly subdued.
At least such seems to be the teaching of the barrows. The Celt became acquainted with the use of bronze, and his tomb was enriched with a store of the relics of the life and art of the workmanship of the time.
As cremation was the usual practice, it was no longer necessary to have a chamber which the dead might inhabit; the size of the sleeping-place of the dead was reduced, and a cist was constructed for the receptacle of the urn in which the remains were placed.
The mound also was reduced in size and looked much less imposing than the huge barrows of the Stone Age; but its contents were much more important. The ashes we find frequently contained in a rude urn of black pottery with some ornamentation. Then we discover pins made of bones, which were evidently used to fasten the dress.
The people therefore were evidently not naked, woad-dyed savages; moreover we find bits of woollen fabric and charred cloth, and in Denmark people belonging to this same early race were buried in a cap, shirt, leggings, and boots, a fairly complete wardrobe.
They also loved to adorn themselves, and had buttons of jet, and stone and bone ornaments. Besides flint implements we find adzes and hatchets and chisels, axe-hammers constructed with a hole in them for the insertion of a handle, grain rubbers, wheat stones, and hammer stones. The mounds also disclose a great variety of flint implements, hatchets, scrapers, both round and long, knife-daggers, knives, saws, drills, fabricators or flaking tools, sling stones, hammer stones, polishers, arrow-points, either leaf-shaped, triangular, or barbed, and heads of darts and javelins.
A very curious object is sometimes found, a stone wrist guard, for the purpose of protecting the wrist from the bow string. These barrows and their contents bear evidences to the artistic workmanship of the prehistoric dwellers in our villages. Their tombs show that these people did not confine themselves to the fabrication of objects of utility, but that they loved to adorn themselves with personal ornaments, which required much art and skill in the manufacture.
Necklaces of beads pleased their fancy, and these they made of jet, or shells, the teeth of deer, and the vertebrae of fish. Moreover they loved ear-rings, which were sometimes made of the teeth of pigs.
Objects of gold, bronze, glass, ivory, amber, clay, and bone were also used as ornaments. If we examine the pottery in the barrows we find that a vessel of earthenware was usually placed at the back of the head of the body when it was not cremated. There were also cinerary urns, cups, usually called incense cups, which were certainly not used for incense, whatever may have been their purpose, food and drinking vessels.
The ornamentation consisted of a series of straight lines made by a sharp-pointed instrument and by impressions of the finger nails or string, often revealing much skill and artistic workmanship.
From a study of the barrows we may learn much about the early inhabitants of our island, who lived and worked and died on the same spots where we now are spending our days. We can see them hunting in the wild woodlands, rearing cows and sheep and goats, and cultivating their crops of corn. We can still trace on the hillsides some curious terraces fashioned by them for the growing of their grain, and discover querns, or hand millstones, and stones for bruising the corn.
The bones of young oxen a few days old, discovered in the mounds, show that they knew the use of milk, and how to get a good supply. A rude spindle-whorl shows that they knew how to weave stuffs for their clothing, and the numerous buttons, fasteners, and belts prove that the clothes were fitted to the wearer, and not mere shapeless sacks.
The barrows also bear evidence to the existence of some organised condition of society. In the early savage state of human existence the family is the only community; but as man progressed towards civilisation, he learnt how to combine with his fellows for mutual defence and support. We gather from our examination of the tombs of these early races that they had attained to this degree of progress. There were chiefs of tribes and families who were buried with more honour than that bestowed upon the humbler folk.
Many families were buried in one mound, showing that the tribal state had been reached, while the many humbler graves denote the condition of servitude and dependence in which a large number of the race lived.
All this, and much more, may be learnt from a careful study of the tombs of these prehistoric people. We have examined in our last chapter the abodes of the dead; we will now investigate the abodes of the living which the earth has preserved for us for so many centuries. The age of the cave dwellers had long passed; and the prehistoric folk, having attained to some degree of civilisation, began to devise for themselves some secure retreats from inclement rains and cold winds.
Perhaps the burrowing rabbit gave them an idea for providing some dwelling-place. At any rate the earliest and simplest notion for constructing a habitation was that of digging holes in the ground and roofing them over with a light thatch. Hence we have the pit dwellings of our rude forefathers. Many examples of pit dwellings have been found by industrious explorers. Some labourers when digging gravel at Brighthampton, near Oxford, came across several such excavations. They were simply pits dug in the earth, large enough to hold one or two persons, and from the sides of these pits a certain quantity of earth had been removed so as to form a seat.
At the bottom of these a few rude flint arrow-heads were found. In the remarkable British oppidum at Worlebury, near Weston-super-Mare, several circular, well-like pits may be seen, fairly preserved in shape owing to the rocky nature of the ground in which they have been excavated.
One in particular is very perfect, and about two feet from the bottom is a seat formed of the rock extending all round the pit. These ancient pit dwellings are usually surrounded by an earthen rampart. At Hurstbourne, Hants, nine of these early habitations were discovered by the late Dr. Stevens, some of which were rudely pitched with flint stones, and had passages leading into the pit. A few flints irregularly placed together with wood ashes showed the position of the hearths, where cooking operations had been carried on.
The sloping entrance-passages are peculiar and almost unique in England, though several have been met with in France. A rude ladder was the usual mode of entrance into these underground dwellings. Fragments of hand-made British pottery and the commoner kinds of Romano-British ware were found, and portions of mealing stones and also a saddle-quern, or grain-crusher, which instruments for hand-mealing must have been in common use among the pit dwellers. The grain was probably prepared by parching it before crushing; the hollow understone prevented the grain from escaping; and the muller was so shaped as to render it easily grasped, while it was pushed backwards and forwards by the hands.
Similar stones are used at the present time by the African natives, as travellers testify. One of the pits at Hurstbourne was evidently a cooking-hole, where the pit dwellers prepared their feasts, and bones of the Celtic ox bos longifrons , pig, red deer, goat, dog, and hare or rabbit were found near it.
One of the bones had evidently been bitten by teeth. The pit dwellers also practised some domestic industries, as Dr. Stevens found a needle, an awl or bodkin, and fragments of pointed bone, probably used for sewing skins together. A rude spindle-whorl shows that they knew something of weaving, and two bored stones were evidently buttons or dress-fasteners.
A large supply of flint implements, scrapers, and arrow-heads, proves that the dwellings were inhabited by the Neolithic people before the Britons came to occupy them.
I have found many such stones in Berkshire, notably from the neighbourhood of Wallingford and Long Wittenham. The South Sea Islanders have similar primitive methods of cooking. The Highlanders used to prepare the feasts of their clans in much the same way; and the modern gipsies adopt a not very dissimilar mode of cooking their stolen fowls and hedgehogs.
We can now people these cheerless primitive pit dwellings with their ancient inhabitants, and understand something of their manners of life and customs. Their rude abodes had probably cone-shaped roofs made of rafters lashed together at the centre, protected by an outside coat of peat, sods of turf, or rushes.
The spindle-whorl is evidence that they could spin thread; the mealing stones show that they knew how to cultivate corn; and the bones of the animals found in their dwellings testify to the fact that they were not in the wild state of primitive hunters, but possessed herds of cows and goats and other domestic animals. Who were these people? Boyd Dawkins is of opinion that the early pit dwellers belonged to the Neolithic folk of whom I have already told you, as the flint implements testify.
But these dwellings were evidently occupied by a later people. The querns and spindle-whorl probably belonged to the Celts, or Britons, before the advent of the Roman legions; and that these people were the inhabitants of the Hampshire pit dwellings is proved by the presence of a British gold coin which is recognised by numismatists as an imitation of the Greek stater of Philip II.
According to Sir John Evans, the native British coinage was in existence as early as years before Christ. Hence to this period we may assign the date of the existence of these Celtic primitive habitations. Pit dwellings were not the only kind of habitations which the early inhabitants of our country used, and some of our villages possess constructions of remarkable interest, which recent industrious digging has disclosed.
These are none other than lake dwellings, similar to those first discovered in Switzerland about fifty years ago. Few of our villages can boast of such relics of antiquity.
Near Glastonbury, in , in a dried-up ancient mere a lake village was discovered, which I will describe presently; and recently at Hedsor in Buckinghamshire a pile dwelling has been found which some learned antiquaries are now examining.
In Ireland and Scotland there are found the remains of fortified dwellings called Crannogs in some of the lakes, as in Dowalton Loch, Wigtownshire, and Cloonfinlough in Connaught, but these belong to later times and were used in the Middle Ages. Hence they conceived the brilliant notion of constructing dwellings built on piles in the midst of lakes or rivers, where they might live in peace and safety, and secure themselves from the sudden attack of their enemies, or the ravages of beasts of prey.
Switzerland is famous for its numerous clusters, or villages, of ancient lake dwellings, which were of considerable size. At Morges, on the Lake of Geneva, the settlement of huts extends 1, feet long by in breadth; and that at Sutz on the Lake of Bienne covers six acres, and is connected with the shore by a gangway feet long and 40 feet wide. Nor is the use of these habitations entirely abandoned at the present time. Herodotus describes similar dwellings on the Lake Prasias, existing in the fifth century B.
These habitations of primitive man were built on piles driven into the bed of the lake or river. These piles were stems, or trunks of trees, sharpened with stone or bronze tools. A rude platform was erected on these piles, and on this a wooden hut constructed with walls of wattle and daub, and thatched with reeds or rushes.
A bridge built on piles connected the lake village with the shore whither the dwellers used to go to cultivate their wheat, barley, and flax, and feed their kine and sheep and goats. They made canoes out of hollow trunks of trees. One of these canoes which have been discovered is 43 feet in length and over 4 feet wide. The beams supporting the platform, on which the huts were erected, were fastened by wooden pins.
Much ingenuity was exercised in the making of these dwellings. Sometimes they found that the mud of the lake was too soft to hold the piles; so they fashioned a framework of trunks of trees, which they let down to the bottom of the lake, and fastened the upright piles to it. Sometimes the rocky bed of the lake prevented the piles from being driven into it; so they heaped stones around the piles, and thus made them secure.
The lake dwellers were very sociable, and had only one common platform for all the huts, which were clustered together. The floor was of clay, and in the centre of the building there was a hearth made of slabs of stone. The people who inhabited these structures belonged either to the later Stone Age, or the Bronze Age, as we learn from the relics which their huts disclose.
Besides the remains of the usual domestic animals we find bones of the beaver, bear, elk, and bison. When the use of bronze was discovered the people still lived on in their lake dwellings. Fire often played havoc with the wooden wattle walls; hence we frequently find a succession of platforms. The first dwelling having been destroyed by flames, a second one was subsequently constructed; and this having shared the same fate, another platform with improved huts was raised upon the ruins of its predecessors.
The relics of each habitation show that, as time went on, the pit dwellers advanced in civilisation, and increased the comforts and conveniences of life. Some of the dwellings of these early peoples belong to the Bronze Age, as do those of the Auvernier settlement in the Lake of Neuchatel; and these huts are rich in the relics of their former inhabitants. At Marin on the same lake the lake dwellers were evidently workers in iron; and the relics, which contain large spear-heads, shields, horse furniture, fibulas, and other ornaments, together with Roman coins, prove that they belonged to the period of which history tells us.
I have described at length these Swiss lake dwellings, although they do not belong to the antiquities of our villages in England, because much the same kind of habitations existed in our country, though few have as yet been unearthed. Possibly under the peaty soil of some ancient river-bed, or old mere, long ago drained, you may be fortunate enough to meet with the remains of similar structures here in England.
At Glastonbury a few years ago a lake village was discovered, which has created no small stir in the antiquarian world, and merits a brief description. Nothing was known of its existence previously; and this is an instance of the delightful surprises which explorers have in store for them, when they ransack the buried treasure-house of the earth, and reveal the relics which have been so long stored there. All that met the eyes of the diggers was a series of circular low mounds, about sixty in number, extending over an area of three acres.
Imagine the delight of the gentlemen when they discovered that each of these mounds contained the remains of a lake dwelling which was constructed more than two thousand years ago.
First they found above the soft peat, the remains of a lake long dried up, a platform formed of timber and brushwood, somewhat similar to the structures which we have seen in the Swiss lakes. Rows of small piles support this platform, and on it a floor of clay, or rather several floors. The clay is composed of several horizontal layers with intervening thin layers of decayed wood and charcoal, each layer representing a distinct floor of a dwelling.
In the centre of each mound are the remains of rude hearths. The dwellings, of which no walls remain, were evidently built of timber, the crevices between the wood being filled with wattle and daub. In one of the mounds were found several small crucibles which show that the inhabitants knew how to work in metals. They worked in metals, made pottery and cloth, tilled and farmed the adjoining lands, and probably belonged to the late Celtic race before the advent of the Romans.
These lake dwellers used a canoe in order to reach the mainland, and this primitive boat has been discovered. It is evidently cut out of the stem of an oak, is flat-bottomed, and its dimensions are 17 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 1 foot deep. The prow is pointed, and has a hole, through which doubtless a rope was passed, in order to fasten it to the little harbour of the lake village.
It will be gathered that these people, whether dwelling in their pit or lake villages, showed so much capacity, industry, and social organisation, that even in the Neolithic Age they were far removed from a savage state, and a low condition of culture and civilisation. They showed great ingenuity in the making of their tools, their vessels of pottery, their ornaments, and clothing. They were not naked, woad-dyed savages. They could spin and weave, grow corn, and make bread, and had brought into subjection for their use domestic animals, horses and cattle, sheep and goats, and swine.
They lived in security and comfort, and were industrious and intelligent; and it is interesting to record, from the relics which the earth has preserved of their civilisation, the kind of life which they must have lived in the ages which existed before the dawn of history.
Among the antiquities which some of our English villages possess, none are more curious and remarkable than the grand megalithic monuments of the ancient races which peopled our island. Marvellous memorials are these of their skill and labour. How did they contrive to erect such mighty monuments? How did they move such huge masses of stone?
How did they raise with the very slender appliances at their disposal such gigantic stones? For what purpose did they erect them? The solution of these and many such-like problems we can only guess, and no one has as yet been bold enough to answer all the interesting questions which these rude stone monuments raise. Superstition has attempted to account for their existence. Just as the flint arrow-heads are supposed by the vulgar to be darts shot by fairies or witches which cause sickness and death in cattle and men, and are worn as amulets to ward off disease; just as the stone axes of early man are regarded as thunder bolts, and when boiled are esteemed as a sure cure for rheumatism, or a useful cattle medicine—so these stones are said to be the work of the devil.
In addition to the subterranean sepulchral chambers and cairns which we have already examined, there are four classes of megalithic structures.
The first consists of single stones, called in Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany, menhirs , a name derived from the Celtic word maen or men signifying a stone, and hir meaning tall. There is one at Enstone, Oxfordshire, and at Wardington, Warwickshire.
Possibly they were intended to mark the graves of deceased chieftains. The second class consists of lines of stones, which the French call alignements. Frequently they occur in groups of lines from two to fourteen in number, Carnac, in Brittany, possesses the best specimen in Europe of this curious arrangement of giant stones.
The third class of megalithic monuments is the circular arrangement, such as we find at Avebury and Stonehenge. These are now usually called cromlechs, in accordance with the term used by French antiquaries, though formerly this name was applied in England to the dolmens, or chambered structures, of which we shall speak presently.
There is no need to describe these grand circles of huge stones which all antiquaries have visited. The cromlech at Avebury covers a larger area than that of Stonehenge, the circle being about 1, feet in diameter. There is a fine circle at Rollright, in Oxfordshire, which is the third largest in England. The diameter of the circle is about feet, and the stones numbered originally about sixty. Near the circle stand the Five Whispering Knights, five large stones leaning together, probably the remains of a dolmen, and a large solitary stone, or menhir.
Popular tradition has woven a strange legend about these curious relics of bygone ages. A mighty chieftain once ruled over the surrounding country; but he was ambitious, and wished to extend his sway, and become King of England.
So he mustered his army, and the oracle proclaimed that if he could once see Long Compton, he would obtain his desire. Having proceeded as far as Rollright, he was repeating the words of the oracle—. Immediately the king and his army were changed into stone, as if the head of Medusa had gazed upon them. The solitary stone, still called the King Stone, is the ambitious monarch; the circle is his army; and the Five Whispering Knights are five of his chieftains, who were hatching a plot against him when the magic spell was uttered.
The farmers around Rollright say that if the stones are removed from the spot, they will never rest, but make mischief till they are restored. Some sacrilegious persons transported a cromlech bodily from the Channel Islands, and set it up at Park Place, Henley-on-Thames. Such an act of antiquarian barbarism happily has few imitators. For what purpose were these massive stones erected at the cost of such infinite labour? Tradition and popular belief associate them with the Druids. Some years ago all mysterious antiquarian problems were solved by reference to the Druids.
But these priests of ancient days are now out of fashion, and it is certainly not very safe to attribute the founding of the great stone circles to their agency. The Druidical worship paid its homage to the powers of Nature, to the nymphs and genii of the woods and streams, whereas the great stone circles were evidently constructed by sun-worshippers.
There is no doubt among antiquaries that they are connected with the burial of the dead. Small barrows have been found in the centre of them. Anderson is of opinion that the stone circles were developed out of the hedge, or setting of stone, which frequently surrounds the base of a barrow, and was intended to keep the ghost in, and prevent it from injuring the living.
By degrees the wall was increased in size while the barrow or cairn decreased; until at last a small mound of earth, or heap of stones, only marked the place of burial, and the huge circle of stones surrounded it. Stonehenge, with its well-wrought stones and gigantic trilitha, is much later than the circles of Avebury and Rollright, and was doubtless constructed by the people who used iron, about two hundred years before our era. The earlier circles have been assigned to a period eight or ten centuries before Christ.
Many conjectures have been made as to how the huge capstones of the circle at Stonehenge were placed on the erect stones. Then the caps were placed on rollers, and hauled up by gangs of men. Probably in some such way these wonderful monuments were formed. The last class of rude stone monuments is composed of dolmens, or chambered tombs, so named from the Welsh word dol , a table, and maen or men , a stone.
They are in fact stone tables. The typical form is a structure of four or more large upright stones, supporting a large flat stone, as a roof. Sometimes they are covered with earth or stones, sometimes entirely uncovered. Some antiquaries maintain that they were always uncovered, as we see them now; others assert that they have been stripped by the action of wind and rain, and snow, frost, and thaw, until all the earth placed around them has been removed.
Possibly fashions changed then as now; and it may console some of us that there was no uniformity of ritual even in prehistoric Britain.
Dolmens contain no bronze or iron implements, or carvings of the same, and evidently belong to the time of the Neolithic folk. Among prehistoric remains none are more striking than the great camps and earthworks, which hold commanding positions on our hills and downs, and have survived during the countless years which have elapsed since their construction.
These early camps are usually circular in shape, or follow the natural curve of the hill on which they stand. Roman camps are nearly always square or rectangular. They consist of a high vallum, or rampart of earth, surrounded by a deep ditch, and on the counterscarp , or outside edge of the ditch, there is often another bank or rampart. The entrance to these strongholds was often ingeniously contrived, in order that an enemy endeavouring to attack the fortress might be effectually resisted.
Chun Castle, in Cornwall, is an interesting specimen of ancient Celtic fortress. It consists of two circular walls separated by a terrace. The walls are built of rough masses of granite, some 5 or 6 feet long.
The outer wall is protected by a ditch. Part of the wall is still about 10 feet high. Great skill and military knowledge are displayed in the plan of the entrance, which is 6 feet wide in the narrowest part, and 16 in the widest, where the walls diverge and are rounded off on either side.
The space within the fortress is about feet in diameter. In Berkshire we have the well-known Whittenham Clumps, the Sinodun of the Celts, on the summit of which there is a famous camp, with a triple line of entrenchment, the mound and ditch being complete. The circumference of the fortress is over a mile.
Berkshire and Oxfordshire are very rich in these camps and earthworks, which guard the course of the old British road called the Iknield Way. The object of these camps was to provide places of refuge, whither the tribe could retire when threatened by the advent of its enemy.
The Celts were a pastoral people; and their flocks grazed on the downs and hillsides. When their scouts brought news of the approach of a hostile force, some signal would be given by the blowing of a horn, and the people would at once flee to their fortress driving their cattle before them, and awaiting there the advent of their foes.
There, armed with missiles, they were ready to hurl them at the invading hosts, and protect their lives and cattle until all danger was past. Those who are skilled at the art can still make the Blowing Stone sound. There are several White Horses cut out in the turf on the hillsides in Wiltshire, besides the famous Berkshire one at Uffington, celebrated by Mr.
Thomas Hughes in his Scouring of the White Horse. We have also some turf-cut crosses at White-leaf and Bledlow, in Buckinghamshire.
The origin of these turf monuments is still a matter of controversy. It is certainly improbable that, when he was busily engaged fighting the Danes, Alfred and his men would have found time to construct this huge White Horse.
In addition to the earthen mounds and deep ditch, which usually formed the fortifications of these ancient strongholds, there were wicker-work stockades, or palisading, arranged on the top of the vallum. Such defences have been found at Uffington; and during the present year on the ancient fortifications of the old Calleva Atrebatum, afterwards the Roman Silchester, a friend of the writer has found the remains of similar wattle-work stockades.
Evidently tribal wars and jealousies were not unknown in Celtic times, and the people knew how to protect themselves from their foes. Another important class of earthen ramparts are the long lines of fortifications, which extend for miles across the country, and must have entailed vast labour in their construction. These ramparts were doubtless tribal boundaries, or fortifications used by one tribe against another. There is the Roman rig, which, as Mrs.
Armitage tells us in her Key to English Antiquities , coasts the face of the hills all the way from Sheffield to Mexborough, a distance of eleven miles. A Grims-dike or Grims-bank, as it is popularly called runs across the southern extremity of Oxfordshire from Henley to Mongewell, ten miles in length; and near it, and parallel to it, there is a Medlers-bank, another earthen rampart, exceeding it in length by nearly a third. Near Salisbury there is also a Grims-dike, and in Cambridgeshire and Cheshire.
There are twenty-two Grims-dikes in England. The name was probably derived from Grim, the Saxon devil, or evil spirit; and was bestowed upon these mysterious monuments of an ancient race which the Saxons found in various parts of their conquered country. Unable to account for the existence of these vast mounds and fortresses, they attributed them to satanic agency.
There is much work still to be done in exploring these relics of the prehistoric races; and if there should be any such in your own neighbourhood, some careful digging might produce valuable results. Perhaps something which you may find may throw light upon some disputed or unexplained question, which has perplexed the minds of antiquaries for some time. I do not imagine that the following legend will deter you from your search. It is gravely stated that years ago an avaricious person dug into a tumulus for some treasure which it was supposed to contain.
At length after much labour he came to an immense chest, but the lid was no sooner uncovered than it lifted itself up a little and out sprang an enormous black cat, which seated itself upon the chest, and glowed with eyes of passion upon the intruder. Nothing daunted, the man proceeded to try to move the chest, but without avail; so he fixed a strong chain to it and attached a powerful team of horses.
But when the horses began to pull, the chain broke in a hundred places, and the chest of treasure disappeared for ever. Some rustics assert that if you run nine times round a tumulus, and then put your ear against it, you will hear the fairies dancing and singing in the interior.
Indeed it is a common superstition that good fairies lived in these old mounds, and a story is told of a ploughman who unfortunately broke his ploughshare.
However he left it at the foot of a tumulus, and the next day, to his surprise, he found it perfectly whole. Evidently the good fairies had mended it during the night. But these bright little beings, who used to be much respected by our ancestors, have quite deserted our shores.
They found that English people did not believe in them; so they left us in disgust, and have never been heard of since. If you have no other Celtic remains in your neighbourhood, at least you have the enduring possession of the words which they have bequeathed to us, such as coat, basket, crook, cart, kiln, pitcher, comb, ridge , and many others, which have all been handed down to us from our British ancestors.
Their language also lives in Wales and Brittany, in parts of Ireland and Scotland, and in the Isle of Man, where dwell the modern representatives of that ancient race, which was once so powerful, and has left its trace in most of the countries of Europe. Our English villages are rich in the relics of the old Romans; and each year adds to our knowledge of the life they lived in the land of their adoption, and reveals the treasures which the earth has tenderly preserved for so many years.
If your village lies near the track of some Roman road, many pleasing surprises may be in store for you. Oftentimes labourers unexpectedly meet with the buried walls and beautiful tesselated pavements of an ancient Roman dwelling-place. A few years ago at Chedworth, near Cirencester, a ferret was lost, and had to be dug out of the rabbit burrow. In doing this some Roman tesserae were dug up; and when further excavations were made a noble Roman villa with numerous rooms, artistic pavements, hypocausts, baths, carvings, and many beautiful relics of Roman art were brought to light.
Possibly you may be equally successful in your own village and neighbourhood. If you have the good fortune to live near a Roman station, you will have the pleasing excitement of discovering Roman coins and other treasures, when you watch your labourers draining the land or digging wells.
Everyone knows that the names of many of the Roman stations are distinguished by the termination Chester, caster , or caer , derived from the Latin castra , a camp; and whenever we are in the neighbourhood of such places, imagination pictures to us the well-drilled Roman legionaries who used to astonish the natives with their strange language and customs; and we know that there are coins and pottery, tesserae and Roman ornaments galore, stored up beneath our feet, awaiting the search of the persevering digger.
Few are the records relating to Roman Britain contained in the pages of the historians, as compared with the evidences of roads and houses, gates and walls and towns, which the earth has preserved for us.
Near your village perhaps a Roman road runs. The Romans were famous for their wonderful roads, which extended from camp to camp, from city to city, all over the country. These roads remain, and are evidences of the great engineering skill which their makers possessed. They liked their roads well drained, and raised high above the marshes; they liked them to go straight ahead, like their victorious legions, and never swerve to right or left for any obstacle. They cut through the hills, and filled up the valleys; and there were plenty of idle Britons about, who could be forced to do the work.
They called their roads strata or streets; and all names of places containing the word street , such as Streatley , or Stretford , denote that they were situated on one of these Roman roads. You may see these roads wending their way straight as a die, over hill and dale, staying not for marsh or swamp. Along the ridge of hills they go, as does the High Street on the Westmoreland hills, where a few inches below the grass you can find the stony way; or on the moors between Redmire and Stanedge, in Yorkshire, the large paving stones, of which the road was made, in many parts still remain.
In central places, as at Blackrod, in Lancashire, the roads extend like spokes from the centre of a wheel, although nearly eighteen hundred years have elapsed since their construction. The name of Devizes, Wilts, is a corruption of the Latin word divisae , which marks the spot where the old Roman road from London to Bath was divided by the boundary line between the Roman and the Celtic districts. In order to acquire a knowledge of the great roads of the Romans we must study the Itinerary of Antoninus, written by an officer of the imperial Court about A.
This valuable road-book tells us the names of the towns and stations, the distances, halting-places, and other particulars.
The Romans made use of the ancient British ways, whenever they found them suitable for their purpose. The British roads resembled the trackways on Salisbury Plain, wide grass rides, neither raised nor paved, and not always straight, but winding along the sides of the hills which lie in their course.
There were seven chief British ways: Watling Street, which was the great north road, starting from Richborough on the coast of Kent, passing through Canterbury and Rochester it crossed the Thames near London, and went on through Verulam, Dunstable, and Towcester, Wellington, and Wroxeter, and thence into Wales to Tommen-y-Mawr, where it divided into two branches. We have in Berkshire a branch of this road called the Ridgeway.
The Upper Saltway was the communication between the sea-coast of Lincolnshire and the salt mines at Droitwich; and the Lower Saltway led from Droitwich, then, as now, a great centre of the salt trade, to the sea-coast of Hampshire. Traces of another great road to the north are found, which seems to have run through the western parts of England extending from Devon to Scotland. Such were the old British roads which existed when the Romans came.
The conquerors made use of these ways, wherever they found them useful, trenching them, paving them, and making them fit for military purposes. They constructed many new ones which would require a volume for their full elucidation.
Many of them are still in use, wonderful records of the engineering skill of their makers, and oftentimes beneath the surface of some grassy ride a few inches below the turf you may find the hard concreted road laid down by the Romans nearly eighteen hundred years ago. Roman milestones we sometimes find. There is one near Silchester, commonly called the Imp Stone, probably from the first three letters of the Latin word Imperator , carved upon it. Curious legends often cluster round these relics of ancient times.
Our English villages contain many examples of Roman buildings. Where now rustics pursue their calling, and sow their crops and reap their harvests, formerly stood the beautiful houses of the Roman nobles, or the flourishing towns of Roman citizens. Upon the sites of most of these old-world places new towns have been constructed; hence it is difficult often to trace the foundations of Roman cities in the midst of the masses of modern bricks and mortar.
Hence we fly to the villages; and sometimes, as at Silchester, near a little English village, we find the remains of a large, important, and flourishing town, where the earth has kept safely for us during many centuries the treasures and memories of a bygone age. Every student of Roman Britain must visit Silchester, and examine the collections preserved in the Reading Museum, which have been amassed by the antiquaries who have for several years been excavating the ruins.
The city contained a forum, or marketplace, having on one side a basilica, or municipal hall, in which prisoners were tried, business transactions executed, and the general affairs of the city carried on.
On the other side of the square were the shops, where the butchers, bakers, or fishmongers plied their trade. Apsley Vic. Avoca Vic. Beaconsfield Vic. Beaufort River Beaumaris Tas. Beaumaris Vic. Bellfield Northern Grampians – Vic. Beulah Vic. Bridgewater Vic. Brighton Vic. Broadmeadows Vic. Brooklyn Vic. Buckland Vic. Bungaree Vic. Bushy Park Vic. Carlton Vic. Christmas Hills Vic. Cremorne Vic. Cressy Vic. Derby Vic. Fairy Dell East Gippsland – Vic. Fingal Vic. Flowerdale Vic.
Glengarry Vic. Glenorchy Vic. Golden Point Mount Alexander – Vic. Gordon Vic. Guildford Vic. Hamilton Vic. Hastings Vic. Hillcrest Vic. Hillside Melton – Vic. Invermay Vic. Irishtown Vic. Jericho Vic. Killarney Qld Killarney Vic. Kimbolton Vic. Kingston Vic. Lillico Vic. Lilydale Vic. Longford Vic. Macclesfield SA Macclesfield Vic. Mangalore Vic. Merrijig Mansfield – Vic.
Molesworth Vic. Montrose Vic. Moonlight Flat Mount Alexander – Vic. Mornington Vic. Myall Gannawarra – Vic. Newstead Vic. Newtown Greater Geelong – Vic.
Orford Vic. Paradise Vic. Plenty Vic. Preston Toowoomba – Qld Preston Vic. Queenstown SA Queenstown Tas. Ravenswood Vic. Richmond Vic. Riverside Vic.
ENGLISH VILLAGES, by P. H. Ditchfield
In most of our large towns the old features are fast disappearing; historical houses An examination of the Victoria Cave, Settle, clearly shows this. E.T. Joy, ‘Some Aspects Of The London Furniture Industry In The. Eighteenth Century’, unpublished M.A. thesis, University of London. , pp. welding system (UNI EN ISO ) as also updating and promotion to GRATING FENCE Mesh 62X Electrofused Steel grating fence PEUCEZIA by.❿