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Title: Ancient Britain and the Invasions of Julius Caesar

Author: T. Rice Holmes

Release date: June 15, 2018 [eBook #57336]

Language: English

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Hon. Litt.D. (Dublin)

‘There seems no human thought so primitive as to have
lost its bearing on our own thought, nor so ancient as to
have broken its connection with our own life’.—E. B. Tylor.





This book is in one sense a companion of my Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul; and much that was written in the preface of that volume is equally applicable here. The last three chapters of Part I, and the later articles in Part II, are intended to do for Britain what I formerly tried to do for Gaul; but whereas the main object was then to illustrate the conquest, and the opening chapter was merely introductory, my aim in these pages has been to tell the story of man’s life in our island from the earliest times in detail. What has been called ‘prehistory’ cannot be written without knowledge of archaeology; but from the historical standpoint archaeological details must be handled, not for their own sake, but only in so far as they illustrate the development of culture. The two books are constructed on the same principle: in this, as in the other, the second part is devoted to questions which could not properly be discussed in narrative or quasi-narrative chapters, though I am encouraged by the judgement of expert critics, British, American, and Continental, of Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul, to hope that general readers who are interested in these matters may not find the articles which deal with them tedious. Those on Stonehenge, Ictis, and the ethnology of Britain, although they controvert certain opinions which are commonly accepted, will, I hope, tend to place facts in their true light. Two articles deal with well-worn themes,—the identity of the Portus Itius, and the place of Caesar’s landing in Britain. These problems have been pronounced by eminent scholars, iv including Mommsen, to be insoluble; nevertheless, I venture to affirm that in both cases the inquiry has now been worked out to demonstration. Critics who may be disposed to regard this claim as arrogant or frivolous will, I trust, read the articles through before passing judgement upon them. The questions would have been settled long ago if any competent writer had bestowed upon them as much care as has been expended in investigating Hannibal’s passage over the Alps.

Books and articles on various branches of the study of ancient Britain are practically innumerable; no other book, intended to treat it comprehensively from the beginning to the Roman invasion of A.D. 43, has, so far as I know, yet appeared.

I wish to express my gratitude to all who have in any way helped me. I am indebted to Sir John Evans for figures 1-6, 8-11, 14, 15, and 18-29, as well as for an opinion, most kindly given, in regard to certain coins which are not mentioned in his Coins of the Ancient Britons; to the Director of the British Museum for figures 30, 36-9, 41, 43, and 44; to the Society of Antiquaries for figures 7, 13, 16, 31, 35, and 40; to the Delegates of the Oxford University Press for figures 12 and 32-4; to Dr. Joseph Anderson for figure 17; and to Canon Greenwell for a proof of a valuable and interesting article—‘Early Iron Age Burials in Yorkshire’—which, I believe, is to appear in Archaeologia. Captain Tizard, R.N., F.R.S., kindly answered various questions which I asked him about tidal currents. Mr. E. J. Webb, Sir George Darwin, Professor Postgate, Professor Haverfield, Mr. Clement Reid, F.R.S., Mr. George Barrow, F.G.S., Captain J. Iron, Commander Richmond, R.N., and Commander Boxer, R.N., gave me information, which, in every instance, will be found, acknowledged either in footnotes of Part I, or in Part II, on various points of detail. v

It is vain to plead that work would have been better if circumstances had been more favourable. But if any indulgence may be accorded to an author who, except on holidays, can only find leisure for writing or research after he has fulfilled the duties of an exacting profession, and who, in order to gain time, has worked steadily throughout his vacations for nearly thirty years, I am entitled to it.

11 Douro Place, Kensington, W.
October 19, 1907. vi


Preface iii
List of Illustrations xv
Introduction 1
Reasons for devoting a chapter to the Palaeolithic Age 13
Tertiary Man 13
The Ice Age 14
Continental Britain 19
The relation of palaeolithic man to the Ice Age 22
‘Eolithic’ man? 25
The environment of palaeolithic man in Britain 30
Whence did he come? 30
Chronological puzzles 31
Palaeolithic skeletons 33
Palaeolithic artists 35
Range of the palaeolithic hunters in Britain 35
Where their tools have been found 36
Inhabited caves 37
Cave implements and river-drift implements 38
Divers forms of tools 41
Palaeolithic workshops 42
Handles 44
Uses of tools 45
Culture of the palaeolithic inhabitants of Britain 45
Religion 49
Totemism 51
Was the domestication of animals a result of totemism? 55
Magic 57
Was there a ‘hiatus’ between the Palaeolithic and the Neolithic Age? 59vii
The early neolithic immigrants 62
The origins of British civilization were neolithic 63
Geography of neolithic Britain 64
Who were the later neolithic invaders? 64
Evidence from dolmens 65
Relics of the neolithic population: their settlements 67
Flint mines and implement factories 69
Difficulty of determining age of stone implements 71
Indefiniteness of the prehistoric ‘Ages’ 72
Stone implements 73
The two main divisions of flint implement 73
How flint implements were made 73
Celts 75
Their uses 77
Chisels and gouges 77
Axes, axe-hammers, anvils, and mullers 78
Implements made of flakes 79
Javelin-heads and arrow-heads 80
Bone implements 82
Pygmy flints 82
Specialization of industries 83
A lost art 83
Dwellings 84
Food and cookery 88
Agriculture 89
Treatment of women 91
Duration of life 91
Clothing and ornaments 91
Trepanning 92
The couvade 94
Hill-forts 95
Primitive writing 99
Sepulture: barrows and cairns 100
Inhumation and incineration 110
Human sacrifice 112
Traces (?) of cannibalism 113
Interment of animals 114
Religion 115
An alien invasion: period of transition 119viii
A Copper Age preceded the Bronze Age in certain countries, but has not been proved to have existed in Britain 121
Bronze implements used for many centuries in Europe before the Iron Age 123
Where did the European bronze culture originate? 124
Origin and affinities of the bronze culture of Britain 126
Period of its commencement 126
Physical characters of the late neolithic and early bronze-using invaders of Britain 127
Their social organization 128
Character and results of the invasions: the invaders poor in bronze weapons 129
Evidence of finds as to the settlements of the invaders 129
Stone implements used long after the introduction of bronze 132
Hill-forts 132
Primitive metallurgy 139
Bronze implements:—celts 139
Sickles 144
The Arreton Down hoard 145
Halberds 145
Shields, swords, spears 145
Moulds 148
Decoration of weapons 149
Hoards 149
Pasturage 150
Agriculture 151
Signs of amelioration in the conditions of life 152
Dwellings 153
Lake-dwellings 153
Hut-circles 154
Inhabited camps 156
The Heathery Burn Cave 157
Dress 160
Pins and buttons 161
Weapons mounted with gold or amber 162
Ornaments 163
Distribution of wealth: sources of gold, ivory, and amber 167
Why was Wiltshire exceptionally rich in ornaments? 169
British trade and the spiral 170
Comparative backwardness of culture in Britain 171
The information obtainable from graves 172
Round barrows, cairns, and sepulchral circles 173ix
Chronology of the barrows 181
Cremation and inhumation 184
Sepulchral pottery 191
The ‘drums’ of Folkton Wold and their significance 199
Sepulchral evidence as to religion 200
Engraved stones 205
Sun-worship 207
Stone circles and other megalithic monuments 207
Stonehenge 213
The voyage of Pytheas 217
Ictis 221
‘Ultima Thule’ 224
Pytheas and the ethnology of Britain 227
The passing of the Bronze Age 230
Iron probably introduced into Britain by Gallic invaders 231
The Belgae preceded by other Brythons, who began to arrive about 400 B.C. 232
Ethnology of the invaders 234
The order in which the various tribes arrived unknown 235
‘Late Celtic’ art 236
Coral and enamel 237
Swords and scabbards 238
Mirrors 239
Brooches and pins 240
Ornaments 241
Woodwork 241
Pottery 242
The noblest creation of Late Celtic art 244
Imported objects of art 246
British ships and coracles 247
Trackways 247
Coinage 248
Iron currency bars 250
Mining 251
Agriculture 252
Dwellings of the rich 254
Towns 254
Hill-forts 255
Some permanently inhabited 257
Hunsbury 259
Inhabited caves; pit-dwellings; ‘Picts’ houses’; beehive houses; and brochs 260x
The Glastonbury marsh-village 263
Dress 264
Reading and writing 265
Inequalities in culture 266
Intertribal war and political development 268
Instances of female sovereignty: the condition of women 269
Political and social conditions of Britain and Gaul compared 270
Religion 271
Sepulchral usages 286
The Druids 289
Ties between Britons and Gauls 299
How the Britons were affected by Caesar’s campaigns in Gaul 300
Caesar obliged to secure his rear before invading Britain 301
He contemplated invasion as early as 56 B.C. 301
Campaign against the Veneti necessary in order to secure command of the Channel 303
Campaign against the Morini 305
Its failure leaves Caesar’s base not quite secure 305
Caesar determines to sail from the Portus Itius (Boulogne) 306
He attempts to obtain information about Britain from Gallic traders 307
Gaius Volusenus sent to reconnoitre the opposite coast 308
Envoys from British tribes sent to Caesar to promise submission 308
He commissions Commius to return with them and gain over tribes 309
Volusenus’s voyage of reconnaissance 309
Kentishmen prepare for resistance 312
Certain clans of the Morini spontaneously promise to submit 312
Caesar’s expeditionary force 313
Sabinus and Cotta sent to punish the recalcitrant Morini and the Menapii 314
Caesar’s voyage 314
His cavalry transports fail to put to sea in time 314
He anchors off the Dover cliffs 315
Late in the afternoon he sails on to Walmer—Deal 316
The landing vigorously resisted 316
Caesar’s victory indecisive owing to want of cavalry 317
The Romans encamp 317
British chiefs sue for peace 318
The cavalry transports dispersed by a gale 318
Caesar’s fleet partially wrecked 319
The British chiefs prepare to renew hostilities 320
Caesar labours to retrieve the disaster 320
The 7th legion surprised and attacked while cutting corn 321
Military operations suspended owing to bad weather 322 xi
The Britons, attempting to rush Caesar’s camp, are defeated with heavy loss 323
Caesar compelled by the approach of the equinox to return to Gaul 323
Causes of his partial failure 323
Two transports fail to make the Portus Itius: the troops whom they carried attacked by the Morini 324
Punishment of the Morini and Menapii 324
Thanksgiving service at Rome for Caesar’s success 325
Caesar builds a fleet for a second expedition 326
Mandubracius flees from Britain and takes refuge with Caesar 327
Caesar winters in Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum 327
His correspondence with Cicero 327
Cicero’s hopes and fears about the second British expedition 329
Caesar returns to Gaul 329
He is obliged to march to the country of the Treveri 330
Returning to the Portus Itius, he finds fleet and army assembled 331
He resolves to take Gallic chiefs of doubtful fidelity as hostages to Britain 331
Dumnorix resolves not to go 332
The fleet weatherbound 332
The fate of Dumnorix 333
Caesar sets sail, leaving Labienus in charge of Gaul 333
The fleet drifts north-eastward out of its course 334
The landing-place, between Sandown Castle and Sandwich, reached by rowing 335
Leaving the fleet at anchor in charge of a brigade, Caesar marches against the Britons 335
forces the passage of the Stour near Canterbury 337
and storms a fort to which they had retreated 337
Next morning he sends three columns in pursuit 337
but is forced to recall them by news that many of his ships had been wrecked 338
He beaches the ships, constructs a naval camp, and repairs damage 338
Results of the disaster 338
Caesar again marches towards Canterbury. Cassivellaunus elected commander-in-chief of the Britons 339
The Romans harassed by British charioteers 340
Trebonius routs the Britons 341
The British infantry disperse 341
War-chariots versus Roman troops 341
Caesar marches for the country of Cassivellaunus 343
whose chariots harass his cavalry 344xii
Caesar crosses the Thames 345
Cassivellaunus orders the kings of Kent to attack the naval camp 346
Caesar enters the country of the Trinovantes, who furnish hostages and grain 346
Five of the confederate tribes submit 346
Attack on the naval camp repulsed 347
Caesar’s hurried journey to the coast and its significance 348
Cassivellaunus sues for peace 349
Caesar and his army return to Gaul 350
Caesar’s description of Britain 351
Review of Caesar’s invasions of Britain 352
The importance of Caesar’s British expeditions underestimated by his contemporaries and by historians 355
Development of British commerce 357
The British inscribed coinage and its historical value 358
The dynasties of Cassivellaunus and Commius 361
Tasciovanus 361
Epaticcus and Cunobeline 361
Cunobeline’s coins prove growth of Roman influence in Britain 362
His conquests 362
Flight of Dubnovellaunus and Tincommius (?), the son of Commius, to Rome 363
The later adventures of Commius 364
His conquests in Britain 365
Tincommius, Verica, and Eppillus 365
Augustus contemplates an invasion of Britain 367
Why he abandoned his intention 367
Continued growth of Roman influence in Britain 368
Cessation of British coinage in certain districts which had belonged to the sons of Commius 368
Relations of Cunobeline with Rome 369
His exiled son, Adminius, takes refuge with Caligula 369
Death of Cunobeline 370
Unpopularity of his dynasty intensified on the accession of his sons, Caratacus and Togodumnus 370
Invasion of Britain by Aulus Plautius 371
Review of British history from 54 B.C. to A.D. 43 371
The Roman conquest and its results 372
Permanence in English history of prehistoric and Celtic elements 372xiii
The Ethnology of Ancient Britain.
I. Introduction 375
II. The methods of anthropology 376
III. Eolithic man(?) 379
IV. Palaeolithic man 380
V. The Pygmies (?) 390
VI. Neolithic man 393
VII. The ‘Pictish Question’ 409
VIII. The Round-heads 424
IX. The Celts 444
X. Conclusion 455
The Names ΠΡΕΤΑΝΙΚΑΙ ΝΗΣΟΙ, Britanni, and Britannia 459
The Birthday of Religion 461
Dumbuck, Langbank, Dunbuie 463
Inhumation and Cremation 465
Sepulchral Pottery 467
Stonehenge 468
The Cassiterides, Ictis, and the British Trade in Tin.
I. The Cassiterides 483
II. Ictis and the British trade in tin 499
Dene-holes 515
The Coast between Calais and the Somme in the Time of Caesar 517
The Configuration of the Coast of Kent in the Time of Caesar 518
I. Between Ramsgate and Sandown Castle 519
II. Between Sandown Castle and Walmer Castle 521
III. The Goodwin Sands 525
IV. The South Foreland and the Dover Cliffs 528
V. Dover Harbour 530
VI. Between Dover and Sandgate 531
VII. Romney Marsh 532
Portus Itius.
I. Review of the controversy 552
II. The data furnished by Caesar, Strabo, and Ptolemy 554
III. Caesar sailed from the Portus Itius on both his expeditions 556
IV. The value of Caesar’s estimate of the distance between the Portus Itius and Britain 557
V. The estuary of the Somme 558
VI. Ambleteuse 563
VII. Calais 565
VIII. Wissant 565
IX. Boulogne 585xiv
The Place of Caesar’s Landing in Britain.
I. Introduction 595
II. The data furnished by Caesar and other ancient writers 596
III. The day on which Caesar landed in 55 B.C. 600
IV. Did Caesar land at the same place in both his expeditions? 603
V. The various theories about Caesar’s place of landing 604
VI. The question of the tides 605
VII. The theory that Caesar landed at Pevensey 611
VIII. The theory that Caesar landed at Lympne or Hythe 622
IX. The theory that Caesar landed at Hurst 638
X. The theory that Caesar landed between Hurst and Kennardington 639
XI. The theory that Caesar landed opposite Walmer and Deal 644
XII. The theory that Caesar landed at Richborough or Sandwich 662
The Credibility of Caesar’s Narrative of his Invasions of Britain 666
The Disembarkation of the Romans in 55 B.C. 673
The Site of Caesar’s Camp in 55, and of his Naval Camp in 54 B.C. 673
The War-Chariots of the Britons 674
The Operations of the Britons during the last few Days of Caesar’s First Expedition 677
Where did Caesar encounter the Britons on the Morning after his Second Landing in Britain? 678
Caesar’s earlier Operations in 54 B.C. (B. G., v. 9-11) 685
Caesar’s Second Combat with the Britons in 54 B.C. 688
The Combat between Trebonius and the Britons 692
Where did Caesar cross the Thames? 692
Caesar’s Passage of the Thames 698
The Site of Cassivellaunus’s Stronghold 699
Did Londinium exist in Caesar’s Time? 703
The Julian Calendar and the Chronology of Caesar’s Invasions of Britain 706
Topographical Notes 735
Addenda 739
Index 743xv
1 Harpoon-head (Kent’s Cavern) 43
2 Flint flake (Reculver) 43
3 ‘Tongue-shaped’ implement (Biddenham, Bedfordshire) 43
4 Oval implement (Dartford Heath) 43
5 Rough-hewn celt (Mildenhall, Suffolk) 75
6 Polished celt (Coton, Cambridgeshire) 75
7 Hafted celt (Solway Moss) 76
8 Chisel (Burwell, Cambridgeshire) 77
9 Double-edged axe-head (Hunmanby, Yorkshire) 78
10 Flint knife (Saffron Walden) 79
11 Curved blade (Fimber, Yorkshire) 80
12 Leaf-shaped arrow-head (Yorkshire Wolds) 81
13 Lozenge-shaped arrow-head (Yorkshire Wolds) 81
14 Triangular arrow-head (Amotherby, Yorkshire) 81
15 Barbed arrow-head (Rudstone) 81
16 Ground-plan of chambered barrow (Uley) 104
17 Horned cairn of Get 106
18 Flat bronze celt (East Riding of Yorkshire) 142
19 Flanged bronze celt (Norfolk) 142
20 Flanged bronze celt with stop-ridge (Northumberland) 142
21 Winged bronze celt (Dorchester, Oxfordshire) 143
22 Looped palstave (Brassington, Derbyshire) 143
23 Socketed celt (Kingston, Surrey) 143
24 Arreton Down blade 145
25 Bronze shield (Yetholm, Roxburghshire) 146
26 Leaf-shaped bronze sword (Battersea) 147
27 Bronze spear-head (Thames) 148
28 Jet button (Rudstone) 161
29 Bronze torque (Wedmore, Somersetshire) 164
30 Gold lunette (Llanllyfni, Carnarvonshire) 164
31 Amber necklace (Lake, Wiltshire) 166
32 Drinking-cup 192
33 Food-vessel 193
34 Cinerary urn (Goodmanham, Yorkshire Wolds) 193
35 Incense-cup (Bulford, Wiltshire) 194
36 Chalk ‘drum’ (Folkton Wold) 200
37 Bronze mirror (Trelan Bahow, Cornwall) 239
38 Brooch (Water Eaton, Oxfordshire) 240
39 Wooden bowl (Glastonbury) 242xvi
40 Late Celtic urn (Shoebury, Essex), 243
41 Patterns on Late Celtic pottery (Glastonbury), 243
42 Late Celtic shield (Battersea) 245
43 Bronze open-work ring (Stanwick, N.R. Yorkshire) 265
44 Circle of interments (Aylesford) 287
South-Eastern Britain to face page 305
East Kent to face page 313
Romney Marsh and Hythe harbour (illustrating theories of their topography in 55-4 B.C.) 531

[The maps of South-Eastern Britain and East Kent, like all maps of Ancient Britain, are inevitably inexact; but the errors are unimportant. The Dover cliffs, for instance, have lost by erosion, but one cannot say how much (see pages 528-30); nor is it possible to indicate the exact nature of the slight change which the coast has undergone between Sandown Castle and Walmer Castle (pages 521-5). Again, I have not attempted to delineate the coast west of Pevensey or west or north of Reculver precisely as it was in 55 B.C., because, even if such an attempt had been successful, nothing would have been gained for the purpose of this book. As far as possible, however, the maps represent the conclusions reached in the article on the configuration of the coast of Kent in the time of Caesar. The outline of Richborough harbour and of the estuary between Thanet and the mainland is intended to show approximately the high-water mark of spring tides. At low tide the channel was very narrow (page 519).] 1




When Caesar was about to sail on his first expedition to Britain, he summoned the Gallic traders whose vessels used to ply between Gaul and the Kentish coast, and tried to elicit from them information; but, to quote his own words, ‘he could not find out either the extent of the island, or what tribes dwelt therein, or their size, or their method of fighting, or their manners and customs, or what harbours were capable of accommodating a large flotilla.’ Even after he had seen the country and its inhabitants with his observant eyes he was not much better informed: all that he could learn about the aborigines he summed up in a single sentence; and later writers, Greek, Italian, and mediaeval—Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, Augustus Caesar, Pomponius Mela, Tacitus, Suetonius, Dion Cassius, Herodian, and the rest—added very little to the knowledge which he had gathered. Yet the materials which are now available for a description of prehistoric and pre-Roman Britain, however limited their range, are so abundant that the difficulty is to use them with discrimination and to fashion the essential into a work of art. How have these materials been obtained? When the general reader takes up a history, he accepts the narrative in a spirit more or less sceptical. He knows that it has been composed, either directly or at 2 second hand, from written, perhaps also from oral testimony; and he rarely troubles himself to inquire what the evidence is, or with what diligence and acuteness it has been sifted. But when he is invited to read an account of the evolution of culture among people who recorded nothing and of whom nothing was recorded, it is natural that he should insist upon peering into the writer’s workshop that he may judge for himself what the materials are worth.

During many centuries, while the materials were most abundant, they remained unused. Many of them were rifled by treasure-seekers, carted away by builders, or destroyed by the plough. Even when the Renaissance turned men’s minds to the study of the past, they had no thought of any sources of information except the written documents which they were only beginning to learn how to use. The Italian scholar, Raymond de Marliano, the Dutch geographer, Abraham Ortels, made futile guesses about topographical questions suggested by Caesar’s Commentaries, but never dreamed that there was anything to be learned of a people who had lived in Britain when the South Foreland and Cape Grisnez were still undivided. Camden travelled over the length and breadth of England, amassing stores of information, much of which he did not know how to interpret, and built up geographical theories upon place-names, which, in default of linguistic science, were of necessity worthless. Even the great French scholars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—Chifflet, Du Fresne, Scaliger, Sanson, and d’Anville—although their geographical essays are still worth reading, failed to determine the port from which Caesar had sailed to Britain. Stukeley, who was one of the first to excavate barrows and describe their contents and who made valuable observations of some of our megalithic monuments, encumbered his folios with fanciful speculations which only served to entertain his contemporaries and to mislead posterity.1 But 3 these men had no access to the sources which are now open to many who are intellectually their inferiors; and, notwithstanding the smallness of their achievement, they did their work as pioneers.

About the middle of the eighteenth century a spirit of antiquarian curiosity was aroused in England. The Society of Antiquaries, which had been founded in 1717, received in 1752 a charter from George the Second; and in 1770 appeared the first number of their principal organ, Archaeologia, which is still in course of publication. Many of the earlier papers were crude and superficial, showing keen interest in the things of the past, but naturally betraying ignorance of the methods by which alone the significance of antiquarian discoveries could be ascertained. Early in the nineteenth century, however, Sir Richard Colt Hoare and his friend, William Cunnington, began to excavate the barrows of Wiltshire; and with their labours the era of scientific investigation may be said to have begun. Hoare had in earlier life been an ardent fox-hunter; but, as he grew older, he found that barrow-digging was a pastime more exciting still. Craniology was at that time unborn; and Hoare omitted to measure the numerous skeletons which he discovered or to utilize them for the advancement of ethnology. Even the work that he professed to do was often marred by a lack of thoroughness which, although it was inevitable in a pioneer, irritated the critical spirit of later explorers.2 But with all its limitations the Ancient History of North and South Wiltshire, the first volume of which appeared in 1812, was an important work. A few years earlier, John Frere had recorded in Archaeologia3 the discoveries of stone implements which he had made at Hoxne in Suffolk. Such discoveries had of course in innumerable instances passed unrecorded. In the British Isles, as in many other lands, flint arrow-heads were regarded by the peasants who found them as fairy-darts; while stone axes, which in Scotland, Ireland, 4 and Cornwall, are still deemed to possess medical virtues, were said to have fallen from the sky.4 In the time of Charles the Second, however, Sir Robert Sibbald, greatly daring, affirmed that the fairy-darts had been made by man;5 and nearly a century before the time of Frere an implement, which has since been assigned to the Palaeolithic Age, had been found near Gray’s Inn Lane, and had been vaguely described as ‘a British weapon’. But Frere saw that the tools which he had collected were not to be ascribed even to the ‘painted savages’ who had resisted the invasion of Caesar; and although even he did not suspect their immeasurable antiquity, he declared that they must have belonged to ‘a very remote period indeed’ and to ‘a people who had not the use of metals’. In 1824 Dr. Buckland, who had spent some years in exploring ossiferous caves, published an account of his work in Reliquiae Diluvianae, a book which, by attributing the phenomena that it recorded to an universal deluge, impelled geological research in a wrong direction, and delayed for many years the recognition of the truth that the earlier human occupants of the caves had been contemporary with the mammoth and other extinct animals. Soon afterwards MacEnery, whose example was followed by Godwin Austen, examined Kent’s Cavern near Torquay, a task which was systematically completed some five-and-twenty years ago by a committee of the British Association. It was not, however, before the middle of the nineteenth century that the knowledge of the Stone Ages began to be built up on a sound foundation. From 1841 to 1860 Boucher de Perthes was patiently exploring in the neighbourhood of Abbeville and Amiens the gravels which the river Somme had deposited in the Pleistocene Period, and collecting flints which were proved to have been shaped by the hands of man. Lyell, Prestwich, John Evans, Lubbock, and Flower visited the scene of his labours, and testified to the authenticity 5 of his discoveries; and after long controversy the most reluctant were forced to admit that the human race had existed at a period infinitely more remote than had hitherto been imagined. Similar discoveries were soon made in England, in various European countries, in Africa, Asia, and America. In our islands, as well as on the Continent, as antiquarian zeal became more widely diffused, the need of organized effort was felt; and, side by side with the leading academies—the Society of Antiquaries, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, the Royal Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, the Royal Irish Academy, the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, and the Cambrian Archaeological Association—local societies were gradually formed in every important provincial town. Accident from time to time revealed objects for which no search had been made. Ploughmen guiding their teams, navvies working upon roads or in railway-cuttings, miners and quarrymen, labourers draining land, sportsmen groping after game which they had shot, came upon antiquities of the nature of which they were ignorant. Evans, in the intervals of leisure which he could win from a busy life, indefatigably collected implements of stone, bone, and bronze, systematized the discoveries of a host of minor workers, and marshalled facts and deductions in volumes which have become classical; and, not content with this, he supplemented the labours of Akerman, Hawkins, Roach Smith, and others, and revealed to his countrymen the origin, the varieties, and the geographical distribution of the coins which their British ancestors had minted, and the historical value of which he was the first to emphasize. His son, who has lately become famous as the explorer of Crete, carried his researches further afield, but often found time to grapple with British problems; contributed to our knowledge of Stonehenge and other megalithic circles; and by his discoveries at Aylesford in Kent threw a beam of light upon the history of the Celtic Iron Age. Boyd Dawkins explored the caves of Somersetshire, Derbyshire, and Wales. Bateman, Thurnam, Davis, Warne, Greenwell, Mortimer, and Atkinson of Danby continued in a more 6 scientific spirit the labours of Hoare,6 and recorded the discoveries which they had made in numerous barrows. General Pitt-Rivers brought the experience of a soldier, the sagacity of a man of the world, and the genius which was his own to the investigation of archaeological and anthropological problems; demonstrated the value of thorough excavation7 and of accurate pictorial illustration; impressed upon the rising school of students the need of precision in recording the circumstances of every find; and by expending a considerable fortune in adding to knowledge set an example of enlightened generosity. Sir Arthur Mitchell, in a series of lectures8 which have been described as a masterpiece of sceptical irony, warned antiquaries, but in no didactic spirit, to think, and to think again, before they drew conclusions from the records which the spade had revealed. The Devonshire Association appointed committees to examine the antiquities of their richly dowered county, and printed a series of reports upon the megalithic monuments, the graves, and the ‘hut-circles’ of Dartmoor. John Abercromby traced from Great Britain to the original seat of manufacture the sites where the so-called drinking-cups, which accompanied so many British interments of the earlier round barrows, have been found; while Romilly Allen, following in the steps of Wollaston Franks, helped to elucidate the development of the art of the Bronze Age and the Late Celtic Period. Professor Gowland disclosed by excavation the origins of Stonehenge, 7 and by his metallurgical knowledge enabled us to understand the methods of prehistoric miners. Charles Read made intelligible, even to casual visitors, the collection of antiquities in the British Museum which illustrates the culture of the Ages of Stone, Bronze, and Iron. Francis Haverfield, scholar, archaeologist, and practical excavator, while making himself the foremost authority on the history of Roman Britain, incidentally enlarged the records of pre-Roman times. Joseph Anderson carried on the work which Daniel Wilson had begun, and described the successive stages of culture through which the inhabitants of Scotland had passed from the earliest to the beginning of the historic period. Coles, Christison, and Bryce added significant details to the information which his lectures had given. But it would be tedious to prolong the list of workers. Everywhere the success with which the last resting-places of the dead had been made to tell their tale stimulated antiquaries to search for fresh relics that might help them to realize more fully how those dead had lived. Flint quarries and workshops, where primitive tools were fabricated, hut-circles, Scottish brochs, lake-dwellings, pits, and ‘earth-houses’ were explored; and, in response to the exhortations of Pitt-Rivers, camps and other earthworks were patiently excavated, although, for lack of funds, research of this kind has not progressed very far. The exploration of the far-famed marsh-village at Glastonbury is nearly complete; and the results which have been obtained, collated with those that were yielded by the examination of the camps of Cissbury, Lewes, Hod Hill, and Hunsbury, have done much to dispel the old fancy that the ancient Briton was a savage.

But perhaps no intelligent man ever progressed far in archaeological study without discovering for himself this caution:—though the relics of man’s handiwork, unlike his written history, cannot lie, their meaning may in divers ways be misinterpreted. They will not yield it up except to the trained and discerning eye.9 8

Meanwhile toilers in other fields were co-operating with the archaeologists. Physical anthropology began to make strides. Since Davis, Thurnam, and Rolleston described the skeletons which had reposed in the long barrows and the round barrows of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Yorkshire, and Northumberland, since Huxley wrote his memoirs on the river-bed skulls of England and Ireland, greater accuracy of method has been evolved, and Beddoe, Turner, Garson, and Haddon have supplemented and corrected their predecessors’ work. Geologists endeavoured to determine the configuration of the land at the time when man first lived in Britain; and a definite result was attained when borings made in implement-bearing beds showed the relative chronology of the period during which palaeolithic hunters had inhabited the eastern counties. Burial customs revealed by the opening of barrows and cists, holes drilled in the stones of dolmens, strange devices sculptured on graves and on rocks, suggested problems as to the religious ideas of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, which the archaeologist, the ethnographer, and the folklorist attempted to solve. Philologists studied the Celtic languages, and succeeded in some measure in deducing from place-names and other relics of the ancient dialects information bearing upon the history of the invasions and the distribution of the two great branches of the Celtic stock.

A great advance was made when the Comparative Method was brought to bear upon the study of primitive culture. It was recognized that the antiquities of our own island 9 could not be adequately comprehended without reference to those of other lands. For at every turn the inquirer found himself arrested by obstinate questionings. Whence had the immigrants of the Old and the New Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Early Iron Age set out? Whence was the knowledge of bronze derived? What was the starting-point of the culture of the Iron Age? What were the first beginnings of Late Celtic Art? How was one to account for the existence in remote countries of this or that British custom? The British archaeologist who would intelligently ponder these questions must take account of the work which has been done by Cartailhac, the brothers Siret, Bertrand, Edouard Piette, Salomon Reinach, Montelius, Sophus Müller, Arthur Evans, Ridgeway, Myres, and Flinders Petrie in elucidating the antiquities of France, Spain, Italy, Central Europe, Scandinavia, the Aegean Sea, North Africa, and Egypt; and the British ethnologist cannot afford to be ignorant of what Broca, Hamy, de Quatrefages, Salmon, Hervé, Manouvrier, Virchow, Ranke, and Sergi have done for the ethnology of Europe. Pitt-Rivers saw that ethnography, which informs us about the arts and crafts, the manners and customs of surviving savage tribes, can give archaeology indispensable aid;10 and all who have compared the contents of the American Room and the Ethnographical Gallery in the British Museum with what they have seen in the Prehistoric Room will believe the Keeper when he assures them that ‘in all probability the resemblance between the perishable productions of the modern savage and those of prehistoric man, which are now lost, was as great as that which undoubtedly exists in the case of implements of stone and bone which have remained’:11 but in endeavouring to apply their knowledge to the elucidation of the antiquities of a particular country they will not forget to be on their guard. Nor may we neglect the facts which folk-lore 10 societies have in late years so diligently collected; but those who have learned from the great works of Tylor how much of primitive custom still lingers in the depths of modern civilization will become sceptical when they are invited by less sober reasoners to trace the origin of this or that surviving superstition to any one race or tribe or period of the remote past; and readers who have accepted with enthusiastic admiration the seductive theories of The Golden Bough should weigh well the criticism which Sir Alfred Lyall, qualified by intimacy with primitive peoples as well as by a sceptical and cultivated intellect, has published of that brilliant and truly epoch-making book.

When we have finished our survey of prehistoric times we shall find that while we can still rely upon the aid of the archaeologist and the anthropologist, other materials have been accumulating which will enable us to read our classical texts with an insight that was impossible for the old-fashioned historian. The texts themselves have been purified and restored. Inscriptions have yielded new information on matters of history, ethnology, and religion; and the vast labour which has been expended by those who have striven to elucidate the most interesting of all subjects cannot wholly fail to help us when we inquire what the British Celts thought of man’s relation to the universe. As one scholar after another has noted the significance of dates recorded in Cicero’s correspondence, and compared them with the relevant passages in the Commentaries and other ancient writings, chronological difficulties have gradually disappeared. Physical geography and geology, supported partly by written documents, partly by archaeological discoveries, have combined to reconstruct the map of the coast on which Caesar landed. Astronomers and hydrographers have perfected our knowledge of tidal streams, and thereby forged a key which, for those who possess the indispensable knowledge of seamanship and of ancient military history, can unlock the secrets of Caesar’s voyages. Military experts and soldiers who have served in the field are willing to help us to understand the story of his campaigns. 11

But after the student has digested all the information which he can extract from books and manuscripts, from museums, from travel and observation, perhaps from practical experience in digging, and, above all, from those who combine learning with knowledge of the world, of affairs, and of men, he will find that his materials are still, and on certain points must always remain inadequate. Some branches of research, indeed, are virtually complete. All, or nearly all, that sepulchres and skulls and coins can teach us of Ancient Britain and its inhabitants we know. Many more implements, weapons, ornaments, and urns will be accumulated; but it may be doubted whether they will add sensibly to that knowledge which is really worth having. But much still remains to be learned. The geological record is still incomplete; and one of our most accomplished field-geologists is hopefully looking forward to a time when it may be possible to determine the uttermost antiquity of man and to illuminate the dark era that intervened between the Pleistocene Period and the apparent commencement of the Neolithic Age.12 His experience has enabled him to tell archaeologists that in order to solve chronological problems, they cannot afford to neglect even the shells which abound in many burial-mounds.13 There is room also for many labourers in excavating stone circles, camps, and earthworks, and determining their age, in exploring habitations, wherever they can be found, and learning what they can teach about those who constructed them.14 What has been already done in this department has produced the most fruitful results: the speculations of Dr. Guest, for instance, in regard to the so-called ‘Belgic ditches’, have been stultified by pick and shovel.15 But such work, which in other civilized countries is an object of national concern, languishes here for want of funds. No British Government can expect support from the intelligence and the public spirit of its constituents in spending 12 money upon archaeological research, or has the courage to give them a lead;16 and where are the wealthy Englishmen who will follow the example of their American cousins in endowing such work?

Nevertheless, enough is already known to justify an attempt to create a synthetical work, the aim of which shall be to portray in each successive stage and to trace the evolution of the culture—nay, in some sort even to construct a history—of prehistoric Britain, and to rewrite the history of the period which is illustrated by contemporary records. Not only is the subject fascinating; it is an indispensable introduction to the history of England. I have tried to bear ever in mind the interdependence of all the sciences which can help to restore the past, and to remember the warning, ‘Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.’ It is easy to laugh at the guesses of Camden and the theories of Stukeley; but they were only framing the hypotheses which are as necessary for the progress of archaeology as of other sciences; and certain theories which in our own day have been acclaimed with enthusiasm, while serving their purpose like theirs, will, like theirs, be found open to criticism.

But we need not exercise ourselves overmuch in the region of theory. Though we must be content to remain ignorant of many things, the story of Ancient Britain, gaining as it progresses firmness of outline and fullness of detail, can be constructed upon a basis of fact. 13



Reasons for devoting a chapter to the Palaeolithic Age.

A chapter devoted to Palaeolithic Man may perhaps appear irrelevant to a work the aim of which is to serve as an introduction to English history; for it has been questioned whether in this country he left any descendants, and therefore whether he exercised even the smallest influence upon the later immigrants. But in France, if not here, the Palaeolithic merged, perhaps by a long period of transition, into the Neolithic Age:17 the neolithic inhabitants of Britain were of course descended from palaeolithic ancestors; and in every part of the world in which it existed the palaeolithic culture was apparently much the same. There are therefore other reasons besides that of sentiment for attempting in this book to describe the life of primitive men and the surroundings in which they lived: yet sentiment has its weight; for no one who is not heedless of the past would forget the efforts of those who, in hard struggle with nature and with fierce beasts, were the unconscious founders of European civilization. Without the faith of the Shinto ancestor-worshipper one may share his daily repeated pious gratitude,—‘Ye forefathers of the generations, and of our families, and of our kindred, unto you, the founders of our homes, we utter the gladness of our thanks.’18

Tertiary man.

The palaeolithic people had acquired a degree of skill in the manufacture of stone tools which is only attainable by the most practised modern imitators. But the progress which they made during the incalculably long period of their existence was so small that they must have needed ages to ascend to the level at which we are able to observe them. Therefore, although no skeletons, no implements have yet been found which can be referred, in the opinion of all 14 experts, to the Tertiary Period, the most sceptical are willing to believe that man, even if he did not deserve the appellation of Homo sapiens, did then wander upon the face of the earth.19 But how, when he had assumed the erect position and had begun to make intelligent use of the hands which gave him such an advantage in contending with other carnivorous animals more powerful than himself, he learned slowly and by repeated efforts to chip the flints that he picked up into serviceable shapes; how in the struggle for a livelihood the stronger or the more cunning prevailed; how with developing intelligence came keener susceptibility to pain as well as to pleasure; how men’s fancies were quickened by light and darkness, sun, moon, and stars, and their fears excited by storm and flood and fire; how they strove to communicate to each other their alarms, their desires, and their joys—these things may only be imagined; and the imagination of those who have read most wisely and have most observantly studied the ways of modern savages will lead them least astray.

The Ice Age.

The Tertiary was merging into the Quaternary or Pleistocene Period when the climate which had before fostered the palms and crocodiles whose fossils have been discovered in the London Clay,20 but had been gradually changing, became intensely cold. Snow fell thickly upon the mountains of Scandinavia; glaciers began to creep down the valleys; and gradually the ice accumulated until it overspread the whole of Northern Europe, filled the basins of the Baltic and the North Sea, hid mountains and uplands in Scotland, and choked the dales of Northern England, of the Midlands, and of Wales; while isolated glaciers were formed even so far southward as the valleys of the Beaujolais and the Lyonnais. The ice has left its record upon the Highland and Cumbrian mountains, whose rugged crags it moulded into flowing curves; upon rocks which were scratched by stones embedded in slowly moving glaciers; 15 in the mud, stiff and tenacious, which they deposited as they grided over many kinds of rocks, and which, being interspersed with stones, large and small, is called boulder-clay; in rocks which they transported and dropped far from their native sites, and by which the directions that they followed can still be traced; in moraines which mark the limits of their descent and their recession; in lakes that were formed, after the ice had disappeared, in glens which moraines had dammed;21 in the Arctic plants which survive on mountains, and in those whose fossil remains have been found in Norfolk near the level of the sea. In many places the boulder-clay lies in two or more layers, separated by stratified sands and gravels, from which it has been generally inferred that the Ice Age was interrupted by a period—here and there by short intervals—during which the climate was mild. Told briefly and in general terms, the tale which a learner might piece together from geological textbooks22 is something like this. The cold was most intense during the earlier stage, when the lower boulder-clay was being deposited, and, little by little, Britain rose until it became one with the Continent, with Ireland, and with Scandinavia, and extended far westward into the Atlantic Ocean. Then, we are told, the ice-sheet that covered Scandinavia was 16 six thousand feet thick; and though it became thinner as it advanced southward, it shrouded the hill-tops in Scotland, where boulders were lifted right over the water-parting, and dropped on the western side, and scored its marks upon rocks in the Lake District at heights of two thousand five hundred feet; while, spreading over Ireland, it went out to sea beyond Cork and Kerry, where the wall of ice broke off and floated away in bergs. Then the land slowly sank until in the interglacial period only the hills stood out above the sea, and Great Britain became an archipelago. Again the movement was upward, though often interrupted and perhaps not general in extent: the climate was again becoming severe; and, although the rigours of the first period were not repeated, local glaciers crept down the higher valleys north of the Midlands, while icebergs floated over the parts that remained submerged and over the North Sea. Now too, as in the earlier period, the cold was not everywhere continuous: there were oscillations during which the glaciers alternately advanced and retreated. As the Ice Age was beginning to near its end, the land continued to rise until the North Sea, the English Channel, and the Irish Sea once more disappeared. In the latest stage of all, when Arctic conditions were about to vanish even in our northern latitudes, there was a gradual subsidence: Scotland was lowered about one hundred feet beneath the present level of the sea, as the highest ‘raised beach’ along the shores of the great estuaries testifies; and the waters rushed in over the sinking valley of the Dover Strait.

Such was the orthodox faith: but the rising geologists have discarded some of its articles; and even among the faithful there are pious doubters. Many authorities deny that the sea-shells which are found on hills in North Wales, Cheshire, and elsewhere, prove that they were once submerged: those shells, they insist, were ploughed up by glaciers out of the sea-floor; and they require us to believe that they were carried up the sides of the hills to heights of thirteen hundred and fifty feet above the sea-level.23 But 17 although these shells are probably not in their original position, and the mere presence of marine organisms is no sufficient proof of former submergence, shells have been found near Inverness, five hundred feet above the sea, in the very place where they lived and died. Still, it does not follow that the submergence which they attest was interglacial.24 Some inquirers believe that the glaciers advanced and retreated once and no more;25 that there was only one slight elevation of the land and one slight subsidence: others that Britain was not only elevated twice, but also twice partially submerged; others that it was finally severed from the Continent in the earlier part of the Ice Age, when the drainage of Northern Europe, pouring into the North Sea and barred by the ice-sheet from escaping northwards, cut for itself a channel across the isthmus which now lies below the Dover Strait.26 One expert still insists that when man first entered Britain the whole country stood at least six hundred feet above its present level:27 another, in the same work, denies that its greatest elevation was more than seventy feet;28 and their editor looks helplessly on. One writer suggests that there may never have been an Ice Age, in the strictest sense of the term, at all, but only local glaciers, such as now exist in Greenland.29 Another has laboured to show that the accumulation of ice-sheets ‘merely marked one or more culminating epochs in a period when the climate was at least as commonly temperate as Arctic’.30 Others even now 18 maintain that not one only, but five interglacial periods interrupted the intense cold;31 others again that there was no interglacial period at all, but only local ameliorations of climate.32 Another fertile theme of controversy has been the origin of the boulder-clays. But the confession of a Fellow of the Royal Society, who, as a member of the Geological Survey, lived in Norfolk for eight years, studying its geology, suggests that, after all, a sense of humour may compensate for inability to fathom the mysteries of the Ice Age. ‘After spending about a year in Norfolk,’ he says, ‘I began to believe I knew all about the drifts, but during the following seven years of my sojourn in that county, as I moved from place to place, I somehow seemed to know less and less, and I cannot say what would have been the result, but fortunately the geological survey of the county came to an end.’33 Fortunately, too, it is not essential to our study of palaeolithic man to decide in every case between the theories of rival geologists. All admit that in Britain the Thames was the extreme southern limit of glacial movement, although even in the southern fringe Arctic conditions prevailed; that glaciers covered a large part of the country north of the Thames, and on the higher regions coalesced into ice-sheets: the view that the lower boulder-clay was a moraine profonde has at last been generally adopted;34 while almost all agree that there was at least one interglacial period, and that there were climatic variations in certain tracts. Nevertheless one of the ablest and most experienced of our field geologists has recently given weighty reasons for his own conviction that even this solitary age of amelioration should not be regarded as an established fact.35 19

Continental Britain.

But, if we are to study the Palaeolithic Age intelligently, we must endeavour to test for ourselves the dogma that Britain was then continental. That dogma has recently been questioned by geologists who have minutely re-examined in the field the phenomena of the Glacial Epoch. Mr. Clement Reid, for instance, holds that in the Palaeolithic Age England never rose more than seventy feet above its present level,36 and that men first entered it across a narrow strait which was formed in the earlier period of glaciation.37 It is certain that the sea then washed the coast of Sussex and the western counties; for near Selsea there is a patch of boulder-clay—the only one south of the Thames—which must have been deposited by shore-ice, and there are rocks belonging to Bognor or the Isle of Wight, to the Channel Islands, and to Brittany, which were transported by icebergs and dropped when they melted under the summer sun.38 Again, before the first English boulder-clay was formed Arctic plants flourished near Cromer; and, says Mr. Reid,39 ‘as these occur just above the present sea-level, and lie evenly on the strata below without deeply channelling them, the height of the land at the commencement of the Glacial Epoch, in Norfolk 20 at any rate, must have been almost the same as it is now’. The same observer assures us that in Southern Britain the first intense cold was succeeded, after an interval of which geology has nothing to tell, by an interglacial period in which the land sunk about one hundred and forty feet below its present level, so that shingle was deposited on what is now Portsdown Hill;40 and that it then gradually rose until, long before the second glaciation began, its level, marked by fresh-water and estuarine deposits, once more virtually coincided with the present line.41 But, he tells us, at some time after the disappearance of the ice which deposited the latest boulder-clay of Norfolk the land stood rather higher than now;42 and he holds that even in the early part of the Neolithic Age Britain must have been almost connected with the Continent, for many of the river valleys were excavated to depths of from sixty to seventy feet below the present level of the sea.43 The submerged forests of Devonshire, Cornwall, and the Bristol Channel, which contain traces of neolithic handiwork, flourished at a time when the land stood from fifty to seventy feet above its present elevation.44

But there are other facts which demonstrate that at some time after the first period of intense cold—perhaps in that interval of which geology has nothing to tell—the Continent must have included Britain. As we shall presently see, not only the mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros, the glutton, and other Arctic animals, but also many species which prefer a temperate climate, and others which are now tropical, lived in this country side by side with palaeolithic man. Nearly all of them had been represented here 21 before the earliest glaciers of Scotland were formed.45 But even on the southern side of the Thames the cold was so intense during the earlier part of the Ice Age that none of the tropical, none even of the temperate species could there have lived: since the land was barren, treeless, and frozen,46 even the mammoth, protected though it was by its woolly coat, could have found little food;47 and large herds of Arctic animals travelled as far southward as Italy and Spain.48 It is therefore evident that the beasts of tropical and of temperate climes whose remains have been found in the river-drift and in caves along with palaeolithic implements must have entered Britain after the coldest period had ceased.49 Moreover, vast quantities of bones 22 of Pleistocene mammals, some of which, such as the reindeer, have never been found in Britain in preglacial deposits, have been dredged up out of the bed of the North Sea, principally from the Dogger Bank;50 and it is therefore clear that at some time after the climax of the Glacial Period that sea or a large part of it did not exist. It cannot indeed be proved that the men of the river-drift and the caves entered Britain as soon as the other animals;51 and possibly the Dover Strait may have existed as a narrow channel at the time of their arrival: but since the bones that were raised from the Dogger Bank appear to belong to the time when the Thames was laying down the gravels in which men’s tools have been found,52 it seems probable that the land bridge was standing in some part of the Palaeolithic Age.

The relation of palaeolithic man to the Ice Age.

It has been demonstrated that palaeolithic men were living in East Anglia after glaciers had finally disappeared from that part of the country. The valleys of the Ouse and its tributaries, in the gravels of which their implements are to be found, were worn down through boulder-clay.53 Excavations at Hoxne in Suffolk have shown that the people who left their tools there lived at a time which was separated by two climatic waves, attested by the flora of two sets of strata, from the age in which the latest boulder-clay 23 of that district had been deposited.54 Moreover, in many cases in which evidence has been adduced to show that palaeolithic remains are of glacial or interglacial date, doubts have arisen either as to the artificial character of the flints or as to the age of the beds in which they were found.55 When, for instance, a member of the Geological Survey announced that he had found palaeolithic implements at Brandon in Suffolk in three interglacial beds, separated by layers of boulder-clay,56 Sir John Evans suggested that the clay was not in its original position, but had slipped down from a higher level.57 Again, Dr. Henry Hicks and Sir Joseph Prestwich were convinced that the cave of Cae Gwyn in the Vale of Clwyd had been inhabited before the climax of the Ice Age.58 Here a flint flake was taken out of earth separated by a superincumbent bed of clay from a layer of sand and gravel, above which again rested boulder-clay that, in Hicks’s judgement, showed no sign of having ever been disturbed, and which, in the opinion of Mr. Clement Reid,59 must have been deposited before the last glaciation of the district. Even this evidence, however, is not unanimously accepted. Flints have also been found in the Cromer Forest Bed at East Runton, which was certainly preglacial; but Sir John Evans cannot see on them the faintest marks of human workmanship.60 24

Nevertheless, it is not improbable that when the hunters whose tools have been exhumed from the drift of South-Eastern Britain were living in a comparatively mild climate, Scotland, the Lake Country, and the highlands of Yorkshire and Wales may still have been partially buried beneath ice.61 The high-level drift of the Thames valley, which has yielded so many implements, is believed by eminent geologists to have been laid down at a time when ice spread over Northern Britain;62 and in support of this view it has been contended that in those regions no palaeolithic implements have been found.63 The argument cannot be easily set aside; but it has been pointed out that in the northern districts, owing to the extreme scarcity of flint, stone tools could only have been made of harder rocks, on which it is not so easy to detect marks of human agency; that the alluvial deposits in those parts are not readily accessible to search; and that, if they are patiently explored, implements may yet be recovered from them.64 Some years, however, have elapsed since this suggestion was made; and it has not yet been verified. Moreover, the absence from the country north of Yorkshire, save in a few preglacial deposits, of such bones as have been found with palaeolithic remains seems to indicate that the animals contemporary with palaeolithic man were unable to find food in Northern Britain owing to the continuance of an Arctic climate.65 Man was undoubtedly living in Southern Britain in the cold period that succeeded the so-called interglacial 25 period of Sussex and Hampshire; for the plateau gravels that cap the Bournemouth cliffs, in which his tools have been found, are older than the valley gravels of the Hampshire Avon and the Stour, which were formed towards the end of the Ice Age by torrents that streamed over frozen chalk downs impervious to water and swept away the fragments of their crumbling surface.66 Furthermore, stone implements have been found at Caddington below, and near London embedded in, a stratum known as ‘contorted drift’, which is believed to have been formed in a period of great cold;67 and it is merely a question of words whether this period is to be included in the last phase of the Ice Age.68

‘Eolithic’ man?

But there is one district from which evidence has been obtained that has convinced many who sought conviction, that there were men in Britain before the first British palaeolithic tool was made. In the village of Ightham, near Sevenoaks, lives a tradesman, named Benjamin Harrison, whose discoveries have caused much searching of heart, if they have not revolutionized our knowledge of the life of early man. In 1885 he began to search for old stone implements on the chalk plateau between the valleys of the Medway and the Darent. There, embedded in patches of gravel that must have been drifted on to the plateau from hills higher still, which had been already worn down by denudation even when palaeolithic hunters were roaming among herds of mammoths in the valley of the Thames, he found flints of divers shapes which seemed to him to bear sure traces of man’s handiwork, and which have been 26 termed ‘eoliths’, or stone implements of a dawning age. Nearly all of them, indeed, were so rude that the chipping on their edges has been ascribed by sceptics to the action of nature. But if even a small fraction of them could be proved to be authentic, the contention of their finder would be established. They recur, again and again, in certain well-defined and peculiar shapes; the chips have in many cases been removed not from the exposed parts but from concave sides which, he would have us believe, natural agents could hardly have affected;69 if Sir John Evans and other experts are unable to accept them as artificial, Canon Greenwell,70 Pitt-Rivers,71 and Prestwich72 were convinced that they had been wrought by man; even the labourers who picked them out of the gravel hardly ever failed to distinguish them from the surrounding flints;73 and, if we may believe the champions of their authenticity, those who assert that they were shaped by nature have failed to produce stones of similar forms from the valley-drift.74 Now when the hunters of the Thames valley were making their tools, Britain had the same main features of hill and dale that it has to-day; but when the gravels were being drifted on to the Kentish plateau, Thames and Medway were yet unborn; and, filling the great valley that now lies between the North Downs and the Lower Greensand hills, some five miles further south, the plateau rose southward to Central Wealden uplands two thousand feet or more above the sea. With no special knowledge of geology the antiquary who spends a holiday in walking from Sevenoaks or Wrotham on to the plateau may satisfy himself that this is true. Mingled with the eoliths in the patches of 27 drift are fragments of chert that must have been washed down from the Lower Greensand at a time when it rose high above the plateau’s level; for south of the eolithic area, inclining upward below the chalk and below the Upper Greensand, the outcrop of the Lower Greensand shows itself still. The plateau drift lies upon rock of preglacial age;75 and although there is no evidence that it is itself older than the Pleistocene period, some geologists hold that it was deposited soon after, perhaps before, British glaciers began to form.76

But assuming that the eoliths are artificial, does it follow that they are older than the oldest palaeoliths, or that they were wrought by a race different from the men of the valleys? Mr. Clement Reid has pointed out that the gravel at Alderbury, some three miles below Salisbury, in which multitudes of eoliths have been found, is on exactly the same level as that of a gravel three miles lower down the valley, where Prestwich picked up a palaeolithic implement which had fallen from a yet higher elevation.77 If the position of this implement was an index of its age, eoliths were being used in Wiltshire after palaeoliths had begun to be manufactured.78 On the other hand, it is asserted that eoliths have lately been found in Tertiary deposits on the high plateau above the Avon;79 and one 28 geologist, who rejects all eoliths, would argue that Benjamin Harrison’s labours have not been vain. Many palaeolithic implements have been found on the Kentish plateau, but never embedded in association with eoliths: most of them are unworn, and look as if they had remained on the very spot where they were lost; and it is easy to see that they are far less ancient than the eoliths. But certain implements have also been found there which, although they were not lying in the gravels, appeared to bear marks of having been derived from them and washed down in the same drift that contains the eoliths. Like the latter they were stained deep brown, covered with glacial scratches, and coated with the white deposit of silica.80 If this argument had been generally accepted, one might conclude that the greater antiquity of British man does not depend for its proof upon the authenticity of the eoliths. What all admit is that in France flints of eolithic form have been found even in Tertiary beds.81 29

But while the extreme antiquity of many eoliths is certain, the question of their authenticity has recently been debated with renewed and redoubled vigour. About two years ago an eminent French palaeontologist, Monsieur Marcellin Boule, announced that in the process of manufacturing cement at Mantes many flints had been converted into eolithic forms;82 and it has been contended that the conditions which were actually observed in the factory were analogous to those of the torrential streams by which flints may have been dashed hither and thither as they were swept on to the Kentish plateau in primaeval times.83 An ardent advocate of the authenticity of eoliths insisted that some of the Kentish types would be looked for in vain among the machine-made specimens from Mantes;84 but a sceptic affirmed that he had himself found an eolith, manifestly untouched by man, with its notch accurately fitting against another stone, the two having been ground together by a natural process which he described as the slipping, sliding, and foundering of the insoluble surface material from higher to lower levels.85 Although it was objected that certain rectangular eoliths with blunt edges could not have been produced except by art,86 it is permissible to doubt whether the human origin of eoliths will ever be established beyond dispute; and he who reflects that they have been met with not only in Tertiary beds but in those immeasurably later deposits which were contemporary with or but little older than palaeolithic man87 30 will leave them for the present without regret to the consideration of enthusiasts.

The environment of palaeolithic man in Britain.

Let us then try to conceive of the environment of those palaeolithic hunters of whose culture we have clearer indications in a late phase of the Ice Age, when the glaciers of Southern Britain had passed away. Then the configuration of the country was very different from that which we behold. The chalk ranges of Kent and of Picardy were unbroken. The Thames, fed sometimes by torrential rains, flowing rapidly and fitfully in the broad shallow valley which it was excavating, was depositing gravels on the slopes that bordered it, a hundred feet above the level of its existing waters,88 and wandering far eastward across a plain from whose now sunken surface bones of mammoth and reindeer, of hyena and bear have been dredged, to swell that greater Rhine which found no outlet till it reached a far northern sea. Mammoths, woolly rhinoceroses, and giant elks with antlers ten feet across, roamed in the forests; hippopotamuses swam in the streams;89 brown bears and grizzly bears and lions and hyenas made their dens in caves, and dragged into their dark and sinuous recesses the prey which they had torn down in the open.

Whence did he come?

The earlier palaeolithic immigrants, impelled perhaps by scarcity of game, had crossed the valley of the Dover Strait doubtless from the nearer parts of France or Belgium; but the original home of the race is unknown, for palaeolithic tools have been found not only in this island and almost every European country except Scandinavia, but also in North Africa, in the valley of the Nile,90 in Palestine and 31 Asia Minor, the Euphrates Valley, Somaliland, India, and North America: as a high authority has remarked, they are ‘so identical in form and character with British specimens that they might have been manufactured by the same hands’;91 and the same may be said of those which were wrought by the Tasmanians, who, fifty years ago, had not yet been exterminated by the pioneers of Christian civilization.92

Chronological puzzles.

Many attempts have been made to calculate the number of millenniums that have elapsed since our Palaeolithic Age began and since it came to its end. Croll, the author of the astronomical theory of the Ice Age, finally concluded that that epoch ceased about eighty thousand years ago;93 and Sir Archibald Geikie laboured in his youth to estimate the time which the rivers would have taken to excavate their valleys from the days when they were depositing the high-level gravels to the era when they reached their present depth.94 But any one who uses his powers of reflection will see how many elements of uncertainty must stultify such a method as this;95 and, since the cause of the Ice Age remains unknown, the calculations of Croll were futile.96 Indeed, if it were possible to prove that eighty thousand years have passed since the beginning or since the end of the Palaeolithic Age, not much would be gained; for whose mind can conceive what such a period means? 32 The wiser archaeologists have given up the quest of chronological precision; and they know that the imagination may be stimulated by more legitimate means. Go to Caversham and stand upon the gravels washed down by the Thames in his lusty youth:97 one hundred and twenty feet below he is flowing now; think of the ages that passed while his waters were hollowing out that valley, which was as it is still before the Palaeolithic Age had passed away. Walk along the cliff near Bournemouth, and look out over the Solent Sea. That cliff was once a river bank; and even the cautious geologist who has described how Hampshire was wrought into its present form is willing to believe that man had then appeared in our land. Where you see salt water he would have seen dry land, bounded far away by a range of hills which linked the downs of the Isle of Wight to those that rise behind Weymouth Bay, and of which the Needles remain as lonely relics: he would have seen the Solent flow, a mighty river, enriched by the tribute of the Stour, the Avon, the Itchen, and the Test.98 Ascend the hill on which stands Dover Castle, and gaze upon Cape Grisnez. Let the waters beneath you disappear: across the chalk that once spanned the Channel like a bridge men walked from the white cliff that marks the horizon to where you stand. No arithmetical chronology can spur the imagination to flights like these.99 33

Palaeolithic skeletons.

The dwellers on the plateau, if they did exist in preglacial times, have left us no memorial save their tools: but can we picture to ourselves the lineaments of the palaeolithic hunters who came after them? Human bones, including two perfect skulls, closely associated with the bones of hyenas, have been recovered from a cave near Plymouth. The average height of the people to whom they belonged was little more than five feet: the skulls have hardly been described with sufficient accuracy to enable us to compare them with others of the same period; but, in regard to breadth and to the degree of projection of the lower jaw, they were not very different from the majority of modern British skulls.100 Two other human skulls have been found in England for which palaeolithic age has been claimed—one near Swanscombe in Kent, the other near Bury St. Edmunds; but the former may not be as old as the bed from which it was unearthed; and the other was so broken that its contour could hardly be restored.101 But almost all the older palaeolithic skulls that have been found in Western Europe belong to the same type, which is generally called after the famous specimen that was exhumed nearly half a century ago in the Neander valley in Rhenish Prussia, and of which the most characteristic examples were derived from a cavern at Spy in the province of Namur. The Swanscombe skull has somewhat similar characters; and it has been supposed that the earlier palaeolithic inhabitants of Britain belonged to the Neanderthal race. Unfortunately, however, the 34 dates of the Neanderthal and Spy specimens cannot be fixed. The latter may belong to the comparatively advanced period in which the best palaeolithic stone implements of France were manufactured: the former was not seen in place by a competent observer, and its age is quite uncertain.102 If the very few skeletons that we possess are typical, these men were short, big-boned, and powerfully built. Their heads were long and narrow, their foreheads amazingly low and retreating, and their jaws heavy and projecting. But their most striking features were enormously massive and outstanding brow ridges. Although the Neanderthal skull was described by Huxley as the most ape-like of all human skulls, and although for some time after its discovery it was the subject of animated discussion, it and its congeners were thenceforward regarded by all anatomists until the beginning of the present century as human in the strictest sense of the word. Within the last few years, however, a German anthropologist has endeavoured to prove that it and the two skulls of Spy may only be called human in a limited sense: he refuses to class them under the head of Homo sapiens, and refers them to an older species, which he calls Homo primigenius. This view, however, has not made influential converts: the Neanderthal skull was capacious enough to lodge a brain as large as that of many a living savage; and trained observers have pointed out that skulls of like contour have belonged in modern times to men of considerable mental power.103 A considerable number of skeletons have lately been discovered in Moravia, which, although like the Neanderthal race they had long skulls and prominent brows, belonged to a higher type, and, as the length of their thigh-bones showed, were of great stature;104 while the caves of Baoussé-Roussé, near Mentone, were the resting-place of very ancient men, in whose skeletons anatomists have detected certain negroid characteristics, although their skulls must have contained a large volume of brain.105

But the Palaeolithic Age was of such vast duration that 35 Palaeolithic artists. before its close Britain may well have been invaded by new races. In the latest period there were living in the Riviera a people whose physical features connect them with the earliest French neolithic race; and in South-Western France skulls of like type have been found at Laugerie-Basse and Chancelade in the valley of the Lozère.106 The relics of these men which have been discovered in the caves in which they dwelled show that some of them were worthy to be called forerunners of Pheidias and Praxiteles. With their tools of flint or chert they carved ivory dagger-handles, or, as we are now assured, objects of uncertain use,107 adorning them with figures of the heads of reindeer, and scratched on horns or tusks drawings of mammoths, deer, horses, and hunters spearing salmon, of which the finer examples are recognized by modern artists as true works of art.108 A single specimen, found in the Robin Hood Cave in Creswell Crags, is all that we can show:109 but implements with which it was associated present points of likeness to those of the French caves which justify the assumption that the primitive artists of France sent emigrants to our land.

Range of the palaeolithic hunters in Britain.

The palaeolithic nomads, whether of the earlier or the later race, pushed their way as far north as Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, and Denbighshire, perhaps even into the East Riding of Yorkshire; and as far west as Glamorganshire, Caermarthenshire and Devonshire:110 but almost all the 36 remains of their handiwork have been found in the south-eastern district of England,—in Kent, especially the neighbourhood of Reculver, Sussex, Hampshire, Essex, Middlesex, and Surrey, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk.

Where their tools have been found.

The places in which these relics lay buried may be grouped in four classes,—the plateau gravels, already described; gravels which were apparently deposited not by rivers but by heavy rains which, falling upon frozen chalk downs, destroyed the shattered surface and swept it away in floods;111 the river-drift, and caves; and, unlike the belongings of the neolithic herdsmen, those of the older inhabitants are not to be found, except in special cases, on or near the surface of the earth. The amateur who has acquired the rudiments of geology and has learned to discern stone implements among the fragments of rock which surround them, knows that in the gravels and sands which rivers deposited at various elevations when they were flowing now here now there in higher and wider channels he may hope to find specimens to add to his collection. Common sense too teaches him that in the same valley the higher terraces were formed before the lower, and that the tools which they contain, however closely they may resemble 37 those which are embedded below, are nevertheless, as a rule, far older.112 If he asks himself how they found their way into these gravel beds, reflection will soon suggest the answer. It would seem that although the palaeolithic hunters dwelled sometimes near lakes or ponds, they usually settled on the banks of streams. Fishing, hunting, wading through fords, warned by swiftly rising floods to quit their habitations, they lost or abandoned the weapons which now serve our purpose instead of theirs. But in some cases beds which contained palaeolithic remains are so situated that a tiro would never suppose that they had been deposited by running water at all. Few even of professed geologists would have thought of searching on the hill-tops at Caddington, near Dunstable; yet old stone implements have been found there in profusion. When the men who made them were alive the hills were valleys, and the valleys which now lie below the hills did not exist. Nor would it have occurred to any but a geologist that the tools which were espied lying at the foot of the cliffs between Reculver and Herne Bay had fallen from the gravels which line their summit.113

Inhabited caves.

Kent’s Cavern and the Brixham Cave, near Torquay, the Wookey Hole ‘Hyena Den’, near Wells, the Long Hole Cave in Glamorganshire, and the caves of Creswell Crags, on the north-eastern border of Derbyshire, are perhaps the most famous of their class. Heaps of bones have been found in all of them, which proved that the men who, from time to time, inhabited them were contemporary, like those whose tools are recovered from the river-drift, with animals of which some, like the mammoth, the straight-tusked elephant, and the ‘sabre-toothed’ tiger, have disappeared from the face of the earth, and many have long been extinct in Britain. Generally in the lower strata the stone tools are exactly like those found in the river-drift; while in the higher they are as a rule more elaborately finished, and are associated with needles, harpoons, and other implements of bone. The same sequence is discernible 38 in the palaeolithic caves of France and Belgium.114

Cave implements and river-drift implements.

Let us compare in some museum the sets of tools and weapons which have been taken from caves with those of the river-drift. Are the latter older than the former, and is it possible to establish in either or in both a chronological succession of types? Taken by itself, the form of palaeolithic implements, at least in this country, is not generally a criterion of their age; but neither the forms of those that have come from the caves nor the bones which accompanied them forbid us to believe that the oldest are at least as old as any that belonged to the drift. Generally speaking, the fauna of the caves and of the river gravels are identical.115 It is therefore certain that, although in general aspect a collection of implements derived from the former source is unlike one from the latter because the two were deposited in different circumstances, some of the deposits in the drift and in the caves were contemporaneous.116 Since a few implements of river-drift form have been found in caves along with those of higher types, it seems reasonable to conclude that the same men possessed both; and if those which are characteristic of the caves are almost entirely absent from the drift, is not the explanation partly that they were more perishable, partly that many of them would not have been used in the field? In other words, there is no reason to believe that the later occupants of the caves were men of different race or of different habits from the contemporary hunters whose lost tools have been given up by the drift.117 Long ago Monsieur de Mortillet framed a chronological classification of French and Belgian palaeolithic implements according to their types, which, though of late years it has been modified, has been provisionally accepted; but in this country it has been found impossible to follow his example: the same types exist 39 here, but the relative antiquity of the specimens can seldom be determined; for implements of the oldest French types have been found in deposits which belong to the close of our Palaeolithic Age.118 Even when implements from the high-level terraces are compared with those of the lower, no marked distinction is observed. In certain cases of course a local classification has been established. Thus the stone implements in the upper strata of two of the caves of Creswell Crags belonged to the advanced type which is called after the settlement of Solutré in the department of Saône-et-Loire;119 and the implements of North-East London which, from their position at the bottom of the excavations as well as their colour, were evidently the oldest, were also inferior in workmanship to newer specimens found above them some twelve feet beneath the surface, and far inferior to the newest of the same district, which were recovered from an old land-surface, two or three feet below the existing ground, generally called the ‘Palaeolithic Floor.’120 Again, in the brick-fields of Caddington excavation revealed an ancient land-surface on which a palaeolithic colony had made their tools. At a later time a new surface about two feet higher was formed by brick-earth, which must have been swept down by heavy rains from the hills above; and on this more implements appeared. Above it again is a bed of contorted drift, containing implements whose deep ochreous colour would seem to show that of the three series they are the oldest: evidently they were washed down from the hill-tops on which perhaps lived the earliest inhabitants of the district, and which, as they were gradually worn away, formed 40 a deposit in what were then valleys, but are now in their turn hills. The lowest implements, which were of course older than those next above them, belong to the type called after the cave of Le Moustier in the valley of the Vezère, which is itself later than the type associated with the high-level gravels of the Somme.121 It has been suggested that when the evidence of plants or of strata is wanting, the relative age of palaeolithic implements may be provisionally estimated by the animal remains with which they are found. The straight-tusked elephant, the ‘big-nosed’ rhinoceros, and the hippopotamus were characteristic, we are told, of the earliest palaeolithic times;122 the mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros, the cave-bear, and the hyena of a later period; and the reindeer was specially abundant towards the close of the age. But it is now generally recognized that if this orderly succession of fauna existed in Aquitaine, it cannot be distinguished either in our island or in Northern Gaul. When we find Arctic and tropical animals commingled, when we see that the bones of big-nosed rhinoceros and woolly rhinoceros, of straight-tusked elephant and hyena and reindeer have been dug out of the same beds,123 we may conclude that it is hardly worth 41 while to gauge the antiquity of the works of palaeolithic craftsmen by such tests as these.

On a general review it should seem that the French chronological classifications of palaeolithic implements, even applied to England, contain a measure of truth. The implements which are commonly found in the river-drift and other deposits in the open field undoubtedly began to be manufactured before those which are characteristic of the caves; and those of Mousterian type were first made, both in England and in France, long before the development of the elegant Solutrean forms and the period in which flourished the artists of South-Western France.124 But both in France and in England Mousterian implements were still used during the later period;125 and even drift implements of the oldest kind continued to be used by palaeolithic hunters of the latest generation.126

Divers forms of tools.

In order to apprehend the culture of the palaeolithic races, it is necessary to be conversant with the forms of their tools. The great majority were made of flint; but in places where flint was scarce or difficult to obtain other stones, for example, chert, quartzite pebbles, sandstones, and felstone, were used. The principal forms were flint flakes, which were probably intended to serve as knives, sometimes even as saws (for a few of them are serrated),127 and, in certain instances, as scrapers for dressing hides; implements or weapons, pear-shaped or tongue-shaped in outline, more or less acutely pointed, and more or less truncated at the butt, some of which look like spear-heads, though they may have been grasped in the hand; and oval, almond-shaped, and occasionally heart-shaped or 42 triangular implements, which have a cutting edge all round. Each of these forms of course comprises many varieties, not only in contour but also in the mode of chipping; and a few tools of abnormal shapes have also been found, as well as natural blocks of flint, called ‘hammer-stones’, which were used in the process of manufacture, and most of which were slightly trimmed in order to make them more serviceable. Near Ipswich a lady has recently discovered a tiny implement which, it has been fondly suggested, some hunter may have wrought as a toy for his child.128 Among the bone implements were harpoons, barbed sometimes on one, sometimes on both sides, which have been found in Kent’s Cavern and other caves, and which closely resemble those that are used by the Eskimos of our own day; and needles drilled by bone awls, with eyes so small that the threads of reindeer sinew which they received could hardly have exceeded a thirtieth of an inch in diameter. Moreover, it is more than probable that clubs, wooden tools, and utensils and vessels of skin were also used, which, from their perishable nature, have long since disappeared.129

Palaeolithic workshops.

The explorations of antiquaries have revealed more than one of the open-air workshops in which the primitive tool-makers plied their trade. Near Crayford, on a sandy beach beneath an old chalk cliff that overhung the Thames when on its southern side its bed was nearly two miles wider, excavation discovered the surface, strewn with flint flakes, in actual contact with mammoths’ bones, on which the workers had lived and toiled until a great flood drove them away, leaving the sediment which for countless ages concealed their remains. The inferior quality of the flint showed that they had not known how to win it by mining from the rock, but had been obliged to content themselves with such stray blocks as they could find. The enthusiast who discovered the site was actually able to fit 43 44 many of the flakes together, and to reconstruct the original blocks from which they had been struck off.130 At Caddington, where hammer-stones and punches, great blocks of flint which had been used as anvils, and innumerable flakes and cores bore their silent testimony, Mr. Worthington Smith inferred from the confusion in which finished and unfinished tools were left that the settlers, terrified perhaps by some violent storm, had suddenly quitted their abode. He found an implement which had been ruined by an ill-directed blow of the hammer, and one which had been re-flaked and re-pointed by a later worker; and his practised eye detected that the craftsmen had flaked their tools differently from those of Crayford.131 Speaking generally, however, the methods of working were the same as those which are still followed by the ‘knappers’ of Brandon in Suffolk, who manufacture gun-flints for African savages. The flakes which were to be used as knives or scrapers were detached from the blocks by a stone hammer; and the larger implements were trimmed into the various shapes which have been described, by blows along their edges, which chipped off small splinters. The effect of the hammer was to produce on the flake, just below the point where the blow was delivered, a protuberance, which is called the ‘bulb of percussion’, and which of course left a corresponding cavity on the block from which the flake was detached. This bulb is the mark by which a manufactured flint may be recognized; but on tools whose artificial origin is manifest even to an untrained eye it has often been obliterated by the process of chipping.132

Fig. 1.

Fig. 2. ½

Fig. 3. ½

Fig. 4. ½


Inquisitive antiquaries have raised the question whether any palaeolithic implements were furnished with handles. The Tasmanians simply grasped their tools in their hands;133 and there is little evidence that the Britons mounted theirs:134 45 but the triangular sharply-pointed flints which have been already described might sometimes have been used as arrow-points or javelin-heads.135 Some were doubtless missiles and nothing more.

Uses of tools.

But, as experts who have passed their leisure in recovering, comparing, and classifying these things confess, it is impossible to define the various purposes to which this or that stone tool was applied. ‘Who,’ says Lord Avebury,136 ‘could describe the exact use of a knife?’ We only know that with his rude implements the palaeolithic hunter did all the work that his hand found to do,—felled trees, chopped wood to feed his fire, dug up esculent roots, scooped out canoes, killed and cut up the animals on which he subsisted, skinned them and dressed their hides to clothe himself withal, encountered his enemies in battle, and defended himself in conflict with the beasts against which his keen sight and hearing, his intellect, and these weapons, which it enabled Culture of the palaeolithic inhabitants of Britain. him to fashion, were his sole protection.137 Yet as we look at the tools in a museum, nearly the same at the end as the beginning of our immeasurably long Palaeolithic Age, we marvel even more at the mental stagnation of the primeval savage than at the skill which he had laboriously attained; and we wonder how it was that men who had learned to chip their blocks of flint so accurately remained content, generation after generation, with the art which they had acquired, and never thought of grinding the cutting edge against another stone and thus producing a better and sharper weapon. ‘We see in our own times,’ wrote Sir Charles Lyell,138 ‘that the rate of progress in the arts and 46 sciences proceeds in a geometrical ratio as knowledge increases; and so, when we carry back our retrospect into the past, we must be prepared to find the signs of retardation augmenting in a like geometrical ratio.’ It would seem that in the Palaeolithic Age men had no pottery and grew no corn: they certainly had no cattle; and, though they lived by hunting, they had no dogs.139 Perhaps they sometimes dug pits to trap their game; for one of the engravings from La Madelaine may have been intended to depict a beast impaled upon a wooden stake.140 Their numbers must have been very small; for people who live by the chase alone require for their sustenance forests of vast extent.141 Some, as we have seen, lived in caves; others, as we may infer from the remains that have been picked up beneath the cliffs of Oldbury,142 by Sevenoaks, under projecting ledges of rock; generally perhaps, and especially in districts in which no caves were available, the dwellings were huts or shelters made of trees and boughs. Some of the bones that were found in Kent’s Cavern, some even of the gravels that have yielded eoliths,143 show traces of fire, which was probably produced by the friction of sticks or by striking flint against iron pyrites;144 and one is tempted to infer that the hunters or their women learned to make their food more palatable by cooking. The numberless fractured 47 bones which were strewed in the caves had evidently been pounded for the sake of the marrow, which in every age was a dainty dish for prehistoric folk; and in the closing period, when harpoons had been invented, men were able to vary their diet of meat and herbs and wild fruit with divers kinds of fish. By that time too they had acquired the art of sewing, and doubtless they made themselves coats of skins, perhaps even, like the cave-dwellers of the Pyrenees, long gauntlets of fur;145 while fossils that have been found with natural holes artificially enlarged may justify the assumption that, like the cave-dwellers of France, they adorned themselves with necklaces.146 The figure of a horse engraved on a bone that was disinterred from one of the Creswell caves suggests, as we have seen, that in this country, as in France, there were men who were not destitute of the artistic faculty: but this solitary specimen can hardly compare with the best of the drawings that delighted the explorers of the contemporary French caves. It is difficult for any one who looks at these life-like sketches to believe that those who made them were not inspired by love of art; but the ingenuity of a modern archaeologist, who observes that the Australian aborigines scratch on rocks the likenesses of animals as charms to promote their fecundity, has suggested that they were merely talismans intended to supply the hunter with abundant game. As he insists147 that the animals which the artists represented were all edible, one may fairly ask whether they were accustomed to feed upon the glutton,148 the serpent, and the wolf;149 whether they counted each other as legitimate prey; what could have been the utilitarian motive for depicting an otter chasing a fish;150 and what was the object of engraving the 48 strange quasi-human creature which the antiquary who discovered it in the cavern of Mas d’Azil described as an ‘anthropomorphic ape, nearer akin to man than the anthropoids that we know’.151 Nevertheless it is not improbable that religion, which has stimulated savage as well as mediaeval and modern art, may have been one of the motives of the cave-dwellers; and perhaps the artist was sometimes a magician, though it would be idle to speculate on the purpose of his spells.152

Disciplined imagination, working upon a basis of ascertained fact, may help one to picture the lives of those primitive inhabitants of our island. We can see them returning at evening to the fires which their women had kindled, and which served at once to warm them, to cook their food, to keep off beasts of prey, and to scare away the malignant spirits of whom, if they were like other savages, they were yet more in dread. We may see a vast herd of reindeer crossing the ford at Windsor, and wolves watching for their chance to spring upon stragglers. We may hear the trumpeting of the elephant, the roar of the lion, the bellowing of the wild bull, the howl of the hyena, the snort of the hippopotamus, as it splashed or swam in the waters of the Thames or the Ouse. We may imagine the hunter striving by sign, or gesture, or rudimentary language, to express his delight when he has succeeded in the chase, his despair when ill success leaves him and his to pine with hunger, his terror when the eclipsed moon turning to red, when flood, or lightning, or pestilence warns him that the spirits of nature are wroth, his grief when bear, or bison, 49 or famished wolf has slain his wife or child. How he disposed of his dead he has left no sign: but in the caves near Mentone, which were inhabited in successive periods of the Palaeolithic Age, there were evidences that the corpses had been decently interred;153 and the skeletons found in Moravia154 had been carefully protected by a rampart of stones.155


Had the primitive people of Britain any religion, or any ideas that contained the germs of religious belief? It is not enough to point to modern savages like the Tasmanians, whose material culture was lower than that of the palaeolithic Britons, but who certainly believed in a spiritual world.156 The cave-dwellers of Mentone were interred with their implements and ornaments, perhaps intended for use in a future state;157 but such evidence is not forthcoming here. The painted pebbles, however, and the ‘bull-roarers’ which were treasured in the caves of South-Western France may well have had analogues among the inhabitants of this island158 who were in the same stage of culture; and doubtless, like the similar objects which are shown by the natives of Central Australia, they were connected, more or less closely, with religious ideas.159 No savage tribe, indeed, has yet been observed of whom it can be proved that they were without religion; for some travellers who have affirmed the contrary have been unable to comprehend ideas which differed wholly from their own; some have recorded facts 50 which gave the lie to their own denial; some have confessed that after long intercourse they had discovered the existence of beliefs which they had never suspected; and all who have been qualified by tact and sympathy to deal with savages have recognized how hard it is to induce them to disclose their inmost thoughts.160 But much depends upon the sense in which the word Religion is to be understood. The great anthropologist whose writings have given the most powerful impetus to the study of primitive culture has taken as his ‘minimum definition of religion’ the belief in spiritual beings;161 and although it might be rash to affirm that materialism is inconsistent with religion, and no sympathetic reader would deny that the Latin poet who denounced ‘foul religion’ with such fierce earnestness had a religion of his own, Professor Tylor’s words may serve as our guide.162 It is true that the conception of a spiritual being formed by a primitive mind has hardly anything in common with that approved by a theologian or a philosopher: for the savage, as for Tertullian and Origen, spirits are not immaterial; they are exceedingly subtle, but still corporeal. Nor, indeed, are they necessarily immortal. Savage religion is utterly different from that which has been the guide of life to men who, though they had put away all hope of everlasting life, retained their sense of the nobility of human nature,—‘to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world’; utterly different from that which inspires the idealist to whom theology is a vain thing and the supernatural unreal, but who clings to his belief that man’s punishment or reward hereafter is simply to be what he has become, that his destiny is to grow in grace, lapsing perhaps, but again aspiring, until his spirit becomes one with the indwelling spirit of God. Yet, although the orthodox may refuse the name of religion to an animism begotten of fear and unconnected with ethics, though idealists may scoff at the conception of spiritual beings which invests them with bodily form and ponderable and mortal albeit ethereal substance, that 51 animism was the seed out of which their own faith—its framework but not its nobler part—was evolved.

He whose mind is informed by the teaching of ethnography may conceive, if he has a sympathetic imagination, the mental state that gave birth to primitive religion; but if his reading has not been wasted, he will understand how vain would be the attempt to ascribe to this or that prehistoric people any known savage creed. For, alike in origin and in essence, the forms of modern animism are manifold. To the palaeolithic Briton fire, leaping roaring and devouring, devastating flood, rushing wind, lightning flash, disease, death itself,—all may have been animated by spirit, or have been themselves spiritual beings. Elves, goblins, phantoms may have been created by his brain, and have seemed to flit before him when prolonged fasting had stimulated the creative power of his fancy. The conceptions that were ultimately to become the greater gods of polytheism may have arisen in his mind as in the minds of other savage men. At least we may believe that, unless he differed greatly from the modern savages whose handiwork resembles his, he began to people the universe with spiritual beings when he became conscious of his own soul; that the phantasms which he saw in dreams were for him real and alive; that every spirit in which he believed originated in the curiosity that led him to seek the cause of every natural phenomenon; that, although social friction had compelled him to recognize a moral code, his religion and his morality were not one but two, not mutually supporting but distinct; and, finally, that no thought of future retribution or reward troubled or comforted his heart.


Intimately connected with primitive religion is totemism, that strange institution which has been observed in various stages of survival among the North American Indians, the forest tribes of South America, the aboriginals of Western and Central Australia, the Malays, the hill-tribes of Central India, certain Mongoloid tribes of Central Asia, in Bechuanaland, and in the Bantu district of South Africa;163 which 52 in every case began before those whom it affected had come to domesticate animals, to till the earth, or to fashion pottery;164 and which tends to decay when hunting gives place to pasturage.165 One cannot but inquire whether an institution so widespread existed among the prehistoric inhabitants of Britain; and, although no distinct case of totemism has been found or recorded in Europe,166 the inquiry is not perhaps so hopeless as it may at first sight appear.

The leading principles of totemism have been so often defined that they are doubtless familiar to many readers. Evidently it originated at a time when men were not possessed by the fancy that they were a distinct branch of creation, but felt their kinship with other animals, which they had hardly begun to regard as inferior.167 The members of the clans which form a totemic tribe trace their descent generally from some animal, sometimes even from a plant or an object which we should call inanimate, and bear its name. But how did the conception of relationship between a clan and an animal or vegetable species arise? It has been suggested that metempsychosis may supply the explanation. Some great man perhaps gave out that after his death no hare was to be eaten by his clan because a hare would be possessed by his soul. Thus not only his own children and grandchildren but also hares would be his descendants; and he would be the founder of a totem-family, which might develop into a totem-clan.168 On the other hand, it has been argued that when totemism began descent was necessarily reckoned in the female line, and that it is therefore useless to search for its origin in anything—for example, ‘a paternal soul tenanting an animal’—which was deemed to be inherited from a male ancestor.169 53

Until a recent date it was an article of faith among anthropologists that, except in special circumstances, the life of a totem-animal was, in the eyes of the clan which belonged to it, sacred, and that marriage between the members of any one clan was absolutely tabooed. If a clansman of a Crocodile clan desired a wife, he must seek her from a Wolf clan or from some other. But within the last few years totemism has been carefully and minutely observed among the Arunta tribe of Central Australia; and the records of these observations mark a new era in anthropology. With the Aruntas totemism does not forbid the slaughter of the totem-animal and does not prescribe exogamy: it is based upon the belief that they are descended from ‘quasi-human animal or vegetable ancestors, whose souls are still reborn in human form in successive generations’.170 It has, however, been maintained that in the organization of this tribe there are still discernible traces of totemism of the primitive type, involving both exogamy and respect for the life of the totem-animal;171 and also that their totemism is so decadent that nothing can be learned from it as to totemic origins.172

Totemism is indeed a subject of extraordinary difficulty: its literature is enormous and rapidly growing; and it is out of the question in this book to do more than point out its problems, and put the reader in the way of pursuing the study for himself. The problem of its origin can never be solved with certainty; for the institution cannot now be observed in its primitive state; and any attempt to trace it backward must start from conjecture as to the original social condition of man.173 Perhaps the most plausible and 54 ingenious theory rests upon the assumption, for which considerable evidence has been adduced, that groups of men originally designated one another by animal and plant names, and that these names were accepted even when they were bestowed in derision. Such a group, finding itself called, let us say, by the name of the pig, and not knowing how it had come by the name, would naturally believe that there was an intimate connexion between itself and the porcine species.174 The taboos which forbade the slaughter of the totem-animal and marriage between a man and a maiden of the same kin would, it is argued, follow when once the universal belief, that ‘the blood is the life’ and therefore sacred, was evolved.175

There are superstitions and names which suggest that totemism may once have existed in Britain; but even if their evidence is accepted, it is of course impossible to point out the source from which they were ultimately derived. They may have belonged to our early Neolithic Age, or they may have been introduced later, when totemism had died out, by invaders who had received them from inferior tribes with whom they came in contact. We are assured that Cornish fishermen believe that drowning men sometimes assume the form of animals;176 that in the village of Burchurch in Shropshire it is deemed unlucky to kill a bat;177 that at Great Crosby in Lancashire the goose is held sacred;178 55 and that certain Scottish clans derived their names from animals.179 The familiar passage in which Caesar observes that the Britons counted it impious to taste the flesh of hares, fowls, and geese180 has also been interpreted as a survival of totemism.181 But this is a mere guess. The greatest of anthropologists has warned us not to assume that every sacred animal is a totem:182 the association with a clan of a species of animals is only one form of animal-worship. It is, however, quite possible that if these animals had once been totems, they were revered by clans with whom the ancestors of the British Celts had mixed before they emigrated from Gaul; for broken bones of the hare, which were found in one of the caves of Perthi-Chwareu in Denbighshire, show that at all events in that part of neolithic Britain the animal was eaten.183

Was the domestication of animals a result of totemism?

Some anthropologists have argued that the domestication of animals and even agriculture resulted from totemism.184 Thus Monsieur Reinach insists that the domestication of 56 the boar is an irrefragable proof of its former sanctity; for, he argues, if men had always thought themselves entitled to kill and eat boars, boars would never have multiplied under human protection, and become the ancestors of domestic swine. Domestication, he considers, implies a long truce between men and animals, something analogous to the Golden Age, celebrated by poets of antiquity, in which men were vegetarians. One may be pardoned for maintaining a sceptical attitude towards a theory which is obviously incapable of proof, which to men who live remote from libraries but in the midst of animals presents insuperable difficulties, and which, moreover, seems to imply that prehistoric tribes were excessively stupid. If it were true, one would expect to find that oxen, sheep, and pigs had been reared in the Palaeolithic Age, and that modern totem groups had domesticated or were now domesticating totem animals. But the only animal which the cave-dwellers of South-Western France apparently domesticated was the horse, which was doubtless lassoed and fastened not because it was sacred but for food;185 and the Aruntas have no domestic animals. A hungry Australian would have no scruple in killing and eating an animal, not belonging to his own totem-species, which by his wife would be deemed sacred: the Bantus have sheep and oxen, but neither the ox nor the sheep is among their totems. What motive could savages have had for keeping totem-animals in captivity in large numbers unless they had desired to eat their flesh or to drink their milk, and why should they have toiled to provide food for them in winter? Why should the domestication of any species be impossible unless the lives of the animals were spared for a long term of years; and why, if every bull and ram were suffered to gratify its sexual instincts unchecked, and cows and ewes were 57 unmilked and unused, should they become tame.186 It is surely not incredible that primitive hunters, not belonging to Bull or Boar clans, who saw that wild oxen and wild boars were good for food, should have conceived the idea of ensuring a more constant supply by trapping young animals, taming them, and breeding from them. Totemism may conceivably have had some influence upon the domestication of animals; but it seems probable that there was room for common sense.187 And the mere fact that a piece of sculpture representing an ear of barley was found in a cave at Lourdes hardly seems sufficient to justify the conclusion that barley was an object of worship in the Palaeolithic Age, and that its subsequent cultivation was due to totemism.188 What we may safely conclude is that exogamy, with which totemism is commonly associated, although they may have been originally distinct, was one of the chief factors in consolidating groups and allying them together.189


The subject of totemism naturally leads on to that of magic; for in Australia totemic groups have developed into co-operative magic-working societies; and there is no rashness in assuming that magic flourished everywhere before the end of the Palaeolithic Age. We are often told that magic was based upon a confused association of ideas; that it was the embryo of science;190 and that priest and magician have ever been foes. There is much truth in this: but magic is not to be so easily explained; and 58 most of us are still far from sympathetically understanding the mental state in which it originated. To say that one kind of magic is an outgrowth of the law of similarity, the magician fancying, for example, that by making drawings of animals he can cause their species to multiply; that the other depends upon the law of contact, when, for instance, it is supposed that whatever is done to a weapon will correspondingly affect the person whom it wounded,191—to say this is not to fathom the magician’s mind. Magic, notwithstanding the hostility with which priests have regarded magicians, cannot be separated from religion by a line of demarcation; nor indeed is it always possible to differentiate magicians from priests.192 It has been well said that magic, as observed among primitive tribes, is ‘part and parcel of the “god-stuff” out of which religion fashions itself’.193 Australian magicians believe that their powers are conferred upon them by supernatural beings;194 and the magicians of many tribes call upon spirits to aid them in working their spells.195 One of the most important functions of the magician is to ensure an adequate fall of rain; but in New Guinea this duty belongs to the priest of the god by whose favour the rain is believed to fall.196 Vast learning has been expended to prove that monarchy originated in magic;197 but we only know that magicians have sometimes succeeded in making themselves kings;198 and doubtless in certain cases magic may have helped to sow the seed out of which gradations of rank were evolved.199 But this would be but one more illustration of the accepted truth that family, tribe, priesthood, monarchy—all our institutions—are rooted in savagery.200 59

Was there a ‘hiatus’ between the Palaeolithic and the Neolithic Age?

The close of the British Palaeolithic Age is veiled in obscurity. ‘Mesolithic’ implements, whose form might show that they belonged to a period of transition between Palaeolithic and the Neolithic Age, have been diligently sought for; and some of the seekers insist that they have found them:201 but the claim has not won general acceptance; and even if it could be established, a doubt would remain whether the makers of those implements belonged to the palaeolithic race of Britain or to a race which had come from abroad after our Palaeolithic Age had passed away. In the words of a high authority202 ‘there appears, in this country at all events, to be a complete gap between the River-drift and Surface Stone Periods, so far as any intermediate forms of implements are concerned; and here at least the race of men who fabricated the oldest of the palaeolithic implements may have, and in all probability had, disappeared at an epoch remote from that when the country was again occupied by those who not only chipped but polished their tools.’ It has been urged by those who would extend this characteristically guarded conclusion that out of forty-eight mammalian species which were living in Britain in the older, only thirty-one survived into the later period; that Britain was united with the Continent in the former, and was an island in the latter; and that in caves which were inhabited in both periods the strata that contained palaeolithic remains were separated by a layer of stalagmite, the formation of which would have required many centuries, from the upper neolithic stratum. But all these arguments do not prove that there was a breach of continuity between the two ages. If seventeen mammalian species perished, thirty-one did survive. If Britain was continental in the Palaeolithic Age and insular in the Neolithic, the contrast does not exclude the possibility that man survived with his fellow animals from the former into the latter: at the time when the Hoxne implements were lost the land stood only a few feet above its present level,203 and a strait must have separated Britain from Gaul; 60 nor, on the other hand, is it absolutely certain that the earliest neolithic immigrants did not cross the Channel valley on foot. And if the stalagmite which lay between palaeolithic and neolithic implements proved that in certain caves the stage of culture represented by the lower strata was separated by a vast gulf of time from that represented by the higher, it still remains possible that some descendants of the primitive hunters may have survived to meet the neolithic invaders. Whoever maintains that there was a ‘hiatus’ between the two stone ages in Britain must frame some theory to account for the disappearance of the palaeolithic race. Either they must have been utterly destroyed by some cataclysm which could hardly have been less fatal to the thirty-one mammalian species that survived; or they must have been struck down by a pestilence, such as has never been recorded, that spared none; or they must have died out, although there was no civilized race to expedite their fate; or they must one and all have emigrated for some reason which cannot be explained. It is true that in the valley of the Lea near London and at Caddington the old land-surface on which they lived is covered by ‘contorted drift’, above which no undisturbed palaeolithic relics have been found; and it has been supposed that the cold to which the formation of this deposit was due forced the inhabitants to migrate southward. But this evidence has not been taken seriously; and it has also been suggested that the emigration, if it took place, was caused by an outbreak of disease, which, if it was real, may have been merely local. Again, it has been asserted by the most persistent advocate of discontinuity that the ‘cave men’ fled in terror before neolithic persecutors;204 that their line of retreat is indicated by implements in the caves of Germany and in refuse heaps of Siberia; and that the extinction of certain mammals and the flight of others was due to the change of climate which resulted from the new-born insularity of Britain.205 But if the cave-men were driven away by neolithic invaders, what becomes of the alleged hiatus? why 61 should implements in Germany and Siberia be connected with British fugitives? and if mammals abandoned Britain because it had become an island, how did they get away? Somewhere or other the newer was evolved from the older culture: the palaeolithic skeletons which have been found in the caves near Mentone are not distinguishable from those of the same Ligurian coast which were interred in the Neolithic Age;206 and evidence from stratified deposits in the valley of the Seine, lying one above another in unbroken succession, as well as the remarkable discoveries at Mas d’Azil and in the Riviera, have convinced the anthropologists of France that in their country a hiatus did not exist.207 Therefore those of us who cling to the belief that the neolithic immigrants who first ventured to launch their frail canoes on the narrow Channel and ran them aground on the Kentish coast may have found the new-born island inhabited by men of an older race have some reason to show for our pious faith.208 62



The early neolithic immigrants.

No one can say how long after the close of the Ice Age the first neolithic immigrants appeared;209 nor can it even be positively affirmed that in Northern Britain the last glacier had then melted away. If they sailed across the Dover Strait, it was, as we have seen, extremely narrow; and we can hardly be sure that it existed at all.210 Neolithic hunters, who may not have belonged to the earliest horde, roamed in forests which now lie buried beneath the Bristol Channel and the waves that break upon the Land’s End;211 and from the depths at which their remains have been dug up it may be reasonably inferred that Southern Britain then extended at least as far as the line which is marked upon our maps and charts by the ten-fathom contour. But while in England the land stood above the modern level, in Scotland it lay below; for along the margin of the fifty-foot raised beach there are heaps of refuse left by men who lived at a time when the estuary of the Forth ran up to Falkirk, and the lands which form the Carse of Stirling were submerged:212 dug-out canoes have been found embedded in the basin of the Clyde more than twenty feet above the present high-water mark;213 and in a cave which was discovered by quarrymen in a cliff facing the bay of Oban, a hundred yards from the existing beach, dwelled hunters 63 and fishermen, whose mode of life is attested by their deer-horn harpoons, the remains of the oxen and deer on which they partly subsisted, and the bone pins with which they fastened their clothing.214 The character of the relics has led experts to the conclusion that the people to whom they belonged were among the earliest of the neolithic inhabitants of Western Europe; indeed it may be that they were descendants of a British or a Pyrenaean palaeolithic stock. The harpoons are of the same type as those which in the caves of South-Western France are assigned to the close of the Palaeolithic Age and to a time of transition between it and the following epoch, and which in recognized neolithic deposits have never been found either in Britain or in Gaul; and the general aspect of the Scottish and the Gaulish remains is virtually the same.215 There are, moreover, other indications that the British Neolithic Age began long before the period to which the great majority of the antiquities that lie in our museums belong. A few years ago there were brought to light traces of a settlement which some primitive clan had formed on the bank of a stream that flows through Blashenwell Farm, hard by Corfe Castle. These settlers had lived in great part upon limpets, which they must have eaten raw, since the broken shells showed no trace of fire: they did not till the soil; they had no domestic animals and no pottery; and their tools were of the rudest kind.216 Moreover, besides the implements that lay beneath the submerged forests, there have been found in the bed of the Trent, and in the Ham Marshes, thirty feet below the surface, skulls which are so far different from those that have been recovered from barrows and cairns as to suggest that the oldest neolithic invaders may have belonged to another stock.217

The origins of British civilization were neolithic.

But whoever they may have been, whatever the date 64 of their arrival, it was an era since which the history of this country has been continuous. Their descendants are with us still: they or later comers brought with them the seeds of cereals and plants which are cultivated still, and animals the descendants of which still stock our farms; they practised handicrafts and arts from which the industries of modern Britain have been in part evolved.218

Geography of neolithic Britain.

The subsidence which is proved by the submerged forests was going on throughout the Neolithic Age, and only ceased about three thousand years ago. While the forests were insensibly sinking, the valleys that stretched behind them were flooded by the advancing sea, which penetrated through the chalk downs into the Weald in long fiords, and doubtless often carried the canoes of the later invaders.219 But we cannot fix even approximately the period at which these people began to arrive.220 All that can be said is that it was many centuries before the Bronze Age, which probably began in this country about eighteen hundred years before the Christian era.221

Who were the later neolithic invaders?

These hordes doubtless set out from various parts of northern Gaul; but to determine their origin is perhaps impossible.222 The skeletons that have been exhumed from the neolithic tombs of England, Scotland, and Ireland, except some which were interred in the very latest period, when invaders of a widely different race were beginning to arrive, belong, for the most part, to the same general type. All, or almost all, had long narrow skulls: their faces were commonly oval, their features regular, and their noses aquiline: most of them were of middle height, and their limbs, as a rule, were rather delicate than robust. Men 65 with the same physical characters lived contemporaneously in Gaul and the Spanish peninsula, and are still numerous in the basin of the Mediterranean; and the race to which they belonged is often called the Iberian, though there is no reason to believe that its British representatives belonged to the Iberian rather than to some other branch of the Mediterranean stock.223 But it is remarkable that while early in the Neolithic Age Gaul and Spain, as well as Central Europe, were overrun by invaders of a totally different kind, who were extremely short and sturdy and had broad round heads, there is no evidence that men of this race reached Britain until the very end of the period, and then only in comparatively small numbers.224 One would be inclined to infer that tribes of the Mediterranean stock began to migrate into Britain before many of the round-headed race had settled in Gaul. Vain attempts Evidence from dolmens. have been made to trace the migration to its original starting-point by the distribution of the dolmens, or rude stone sepulchres,225 which are found in many European countries. A dolmen, in the strict sense of the word, is composed of large stones set on end, which wholly or partially enclose a space, and are covered by other stones or by a single stone, which rests upon their upper ends. Most of the chambers in our chambered barrows virtually answer to this definition; and if the enclosing mounds were removed, would appear as dolmens.226 Some few, however, as well as chambers which have been explored in Brittany, were roofed over, like the so-called beehive huts, by layers of stones, which, as they rose, gradually approached each other, the highest supporting a flat slab whose weight kept them in place, while the pressure of the superincumbent 66 cairn or barrow gave solidity to the whole.227 But although the dolmens which are generally so called may be older than the chambered barrows,228 they also were almost always covered or at least fenced by earthen mounds or cairns, which, in many cases, were still visible little more than a century ago.229 There is no reason to suppose that in this country or in Ireland they were built by tribes of a different stock: it is impossible to draw a sharp distinction between the two classes of graves;230 and for our present purpose they may safely be grouped together. They abound in Syria and Northern Africa, along the western side of the Spanish peninsula, over nearly the whole area of France, in Northern Germany, Wales231 and the west of England, Ireland, South-Western and Northern Scotland, Denmark, and Scandinavia. Some archaeologists conclude that a dolmen-building race gradually moved westward from Syria, crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, and thence passed through Spain and Gaul into Britain; while others insist that the place of their departure was Scandinavia. But it is not improbable that dolmens, which exist also in India, Japan, and many other countries, and which might have been 67 built all over the world if stones had been everywhere available for their construction, were not originally designed by any one people, and that the resemblances which have been pointed out between those of widely separated regions were simply due to the similarity with which different tribes acted in similar circumstances. The neolithic skulls and the neolithic sepulchral pottery of Scandinavia are unlike those of Britain; while, on the other hand, the British dolmens belong to an earlier stage of culture than those of Africa. Everything points to the conclusion that the earliest dolmen-builders of Britain retreated from Gaul before the sturdy round-headed invaders;232 and it is useless to inquire whether the Mediterranean stock, to which the British, like the earlier French dolmen-builders, belonged, originated in Europe, in Asia, or in Africa. We only know that the oldest traces of the race were discovered in the Riviera.233 Some philologists, however, affirm that the modern Celtic dialects are distinguished by peculiarities of syntax which show that they were influenced by contact with an older language akin to the Hamitic dialects of Africa.234

Relics of the neolithic population: their settlements.

Relics of the neolithic population have been found over the whole extent of Great Britain and in the adjacent islands, from Kent to Cornwall, from the Isle of Wight to Shetland, not only in barrows and cairns, but also in caves in which they lived and died, in the neighbourhood of the quarries from which they obtained flint for manufacturing their tools, in pit-dwellings, on the margins of lakes, in the beds of rivers, in ditches, in peat-mosses, in sandy wastes where the sand had been blown away from the soil which it had long concealed, in fens, on open downs, and in fields by the accidental impact of a plough. Their sepulchres, as we shall afterwards see,235 remain in comparatively few regions; but on the more cultivated lands many have doubtless been destroyed. It is reasonable to suppose that the settlements were made successively throughout a long period; and that the earliest comers took possession of the choicest lands in the south. Those who came later would 68 displace their predecessors if they had the power, and if the prize seemed worth a struggle: otherwise they would move on to the nearest vacant lands; and so in the course of ages, and after much bloodshed, the whole island came to be occupied. But each successive horde found large tracts of the country through which they plodded overgrown by forests or covered by morasses; and they must often have had to travel far before they could obtain a suitable abode. Except the gigantic Irish elk and the wild ox known as the aurochs, which survived into the Bronze Age, and which, later still, Caesar found roaming in the German forests,236 the great beasts which had lived in Britain with palaeolithic man were no more; but brown bears and grizzly bears, beavers and wild cats, still survived; herons, swans, and cormorants flitted over the fens; red deer, wild boars, and even a few reindeer remained to supply the new comers with game; and in every forest wolves were lurking to prey upon their cattle.237 If we were to mark upon a map all the places at which neolithic implements have been found, it would correspond more or less closely with one constructed a priori by a geographer, ignorant of the results of archaeological research, who appreciated the requirements of early settlers. He would expect to find that they had avoided as far as possible the toil of cutting down woods, and that they had selected dry uplands, where the subsoil was porous and their cattle could find pasture, and which overlooked river-valleys, where they themselves could get water and fuel, and on the slopes of which they could build sheltered dwellings. He would not therefore be surprised to learn that the traces of occupation are most numerous on the chalk downs, the Derbyshire moorlands, the Pennine Range and the Yorkshire Wolds, the Malvern Hills, and other high lands which fulfilled the necessary conditions.238 69

Without his tools the settler could not build his hut, cut his firewood, or kill and dress a calf or a kid from his herd. Let us therefore try to ascertain how he made them, and how far he had improved as a craftsman upon the rude methods of his palaeolithic predecessor.

Flint mines and implement factories.

Within the last half-century archaeologists have succeeded in revealing some of the factories in which the prehistoric cutlers wrought. The nature of their materials of course still depended upon the rocks which were to be found in the district where they lived. Those who could get no flint used quartzite, basalt, felstone, greenstone, porphyry, diorite, or whatever stone they could obtain.239 But flint was still the staple material. The palaeolithic hunters were obliged, as we have seen, to use stray blocks: their successors had learned how to win the flint from the bed of chalk in which it lay. Among the chief centres of mining and manufacture were Brandon in Suffolk and Cissbury, which is on the South Downs, about three miles north of Worthing. Grime’s Graves, the mines which supplied the famous factory of Brandon, are situated in a fern-clad wood, and occupy more than twenty acres. The so-called graves are circular shafts, about twenty-five feet in diameter at the mouth, from thirty to fifty deep, and on an average twenty-five feet apart. Most of them were connected by galleries, which had been tunnelled in directions that followed the seams of the flint. The tools with which the excavations were made were stone ‘celts’, or hatchets, and picks made of the brow-tines of the antlers of reindeer. Unlike modern picks they were one-sided; and a specimen encrusted with chalk on which the owner’s finger-prints 70 are still visible, is now lying in the Prehistoric Room of the British Museum. More than one of the lamps were found by the aid of which the workmen had groped their way through the galleries,—small cups hollowed out of chalk, which they had evidently filled with oil or fat and furnished with some kind of wick.240 When the flint had been hewn out with the hatchets, which have left their marks upon the sides of the galleries, it was hauled up to the surface, perhaps in baskets made of wicker or hide, and carried to the workshops, where it was wrought into implements, which were afterwards bartered for such articles as the manufacturers required. Innumerable flakes and chips of waste flint were found, which testified to their activity. One of them at least was a sculptor as well. A fragment of a human limb, modelled out of chalk, was discovered by the antiquary who first explored the site; and he tells us that the anatomical features were ‘rendered with an accurate knowledge of the parts’.241 But what most impressed him was to find in one of the galleries a set of tools lying upon a piece of unfinished work in the position in which they had been laid some four thousand years ago.242 Walking through the wood to the open heath of Broomhill, he came to the pits that yield the material which the ‘knappers’ of Brandon still manufacture into gun-flints for African tribes. The industry has been carried on since neolithic times, and even then it was ancient; for Brandon was an abode of flint-workers in the Old Stone Age. Not only the pits but even the tools show little change: the picks which the modern workers use are made of iron, but here alone in Britain the old one-sided form is still retained. Only the skill of the workers has degenerated: the exquisite evenness of chipping which distinguished the neolithic arrow-heads is beyond the power of the most experienced knapper to reproduce.243 71

The flint works at Cissbury have a general resemblance to those of Grime’s Graves; but the pits were sunk on a different principle.244 They are contained in an entrenchment which did not exist at the time when the earliest were made, but was almost certainly constructed in the Neolithic Age.245 The extreme rudeness of the tools which were found in them has led to the belief that they are older than Grime’s Graves;246 but, on the other hand, stone implements of the rudest kind were manufactured for special purposes long after the Stone Age had passed away.247 Moreover, many of the ruder Cissbury tools appear to be unfinished; and it may have been intended that they should be perfected by the people with whom they were exchanged. Many of the smaller pits contained not only stone implements but also fragments of pottery and remains of horses, goats, deer, and horned cattle; and from this Pitt-Rivers, who first explored them, concluded that they had been used as dwellings after they had ceased to serve their purpose as quarries, or had been inhabited by the workers who obtained their flint from the larger pits. On this site also deer-horn picks were found; and Pitt-Rivers, wishing to test their value, provided a set of similar tools, with which he and one of the labourers whom he employed dug a pit three feet square and three feet deep in an hour and a half.248

Difficulty of determining age of stone implements.

With the better material which was thus obtained the neolithic craftsmen fashioned implements of which some can hardly be distinguished, even by experts, from those of the older period, though the greater number are recognizable even by a tiro. It must, however, be remembered that in many cases one cannot tell whether a find of stone implements belongs to the Neolithic or to the Bronze Age; and some are probably later still. Indeed it would be impossible 72 to point to any kind of stone implements which ceased to be manufactured in Britain when bronze was introduced.249 Indefiniteness of the prehistoric ‘Ages’. One of the first cautions which the student of archaeology gives himself is that the epochs into which it has been found convenient to divide the Prehistoric Period were not definitely separated. It has been well said that they shade into one another like the colours in the solar spectrum.250 The age in which we are now living affords an illustration. In one sense what might be called the Mechanical Age began when the first motor-car appeared on a London street; but we are still living in an era of transition, which will not end until, if ever, horses shall have ceased to be used for traction. Similarly stone tools continued to be used throughout the Bronze Age and the Late Celtic Period; and in certain remoter parts of the British Isles they are being used to-day.251 When they are found associated with primary interments in long barrows or chambered cairns, or when they are met with in large numbers in other deposits which there is no reason to assign to a later period, they may as a rule be safely referred to the Neolithic Age; but, as we shall presently see,252 there are certain implements of stone which were undoubtedly used in the Bronze Age, and of which it cannot be said with certainty that in this country they were used before. Some interments, however, which are ascribed to the Age of Bronze may have belonged to the older race, who still remained in their neolithic age although they were glad to use any bronze tools upon which they could lay their hands. Similarly the grave of an Australian savage who was buried some sixty years ago was found to contain, besides a piece of flint, a clay pipe, an iron spoon, and the handle of a pocket-knife.253 73

Stone implements.

The several kinds of tools that first began to be used in the Neolithic Age present numerous varieties of form which, in this book, it would be irrelevant to describe. To deal with them is the province of archaeology; and the reader who wishes to make himself acquainted with them can do so, after he has mastered the literature of the subject, by visiting the collections in our museums and by himself becoming a collector. Here we desire only to learn so much as may help us to understand how neolithic man lived, and from what origins the culture which succeeded his was evolved.

The Neolithic Age is sometimes, especially on the other side of the Channel, called the period of polished stone:254 but most of our flint implements were neither ground nor polished; they were merely chipped. Many specimens indeed, from one cause or another, have never received their finishing touches; but many others were of such a kind that grinding or polishing would have been labour lost.255

The two main divisions of flint implements.

Neolithic flint implements may be grouped in two classes. In one, which comprises the larger kinds—axes, hammer-stones, and the like—the implement was made out of a block of flint, and the splinters struck off during the process of manufacture were either mere waste or utilized for making smaller tools.256 The other class consists of tools which were made out of flakes, the core, after all the required flakes had been detached, being thrown away.257

How flint implements were made.

Flint fresh from the quarry was easier to manufacture; and accordingly the cutlers established their workshops close by the mines. Their methods were perhaps not everywhere the same; but it is easy to form a general idea 74 of them from observing the processes which are followed by tribes which are still in their stone age and by the knappers who ply their trade near Grime’s Graves. Sometimes, like the Cloud River Indians, the workers may have applied a pebble or a punch of deer-horn to the surface of the flint block, and produced flakes by striking it with his stone hammer; but Sir John Evans believes that the flakes were generally struck off with a hammer or a pebble alone; and he has found experimentally that by this simple method a practised hand can attain almost perfect precision. Laying the flakes which he had thus removed with the flat face uppermost upon a smooth block of stone, he has succeeded by blows of a pebble in chipping their ends into whatever form he desired. Similarly hatchets were first rough-hewn by striking splinters from the flint block, and afterwards gradually chipped into the proper shape. Whether the material was flint or some other stone, the method would have remained the same. When it was desired to attain the utmost perfection, the implements were ground, not upon a revolving but upon a fixed stone, and polished by stone rubbers in conjunction with sand.258 The process by which the arrow-heads and spear-heads were manufactured, whose exquisite workmanship entrances all who see them, cannot be described; for the modern tribes who make such weapons work in various ways. Small stone tools, however, are often found, with blunted ends, made out of thick flakes, which may have been used in arrow-flaking, and which accordingly have been termed ‘fabricators’; and as they are most numerous in the districts which have yielded the greatest number of arrow-heads, the appellation is probably correct. Arrow-heads have indeed been recently made with them, but with somewhat obtuse edges; and it has therefore been suggested that the fabricator was only used for removing irregularities from the flake, and that the final chipping was accomplished with a tool of deer-horn, which, pressed deftly against the edge of the flake, detached minute splinters. The surface of many flint arrow-heads 75 and javelin-heads is, however, covered with beautifully uniform fluting, like ripple-marks on sand; and the most experienced modern operators confess that they do not understand how this effect was produced.259

Fig. 5. ½

Fig. 6. ½

Fig. 7.


It may be well to enumerate the various tools which would have formed a complete outfit for a neolithic household. The kinds which were made from a block of stone were celts, which comprised hatchets and adzes, and of which some may have been used as chisels and knives; axes perforated for the insertion of a handle; chisels and gouges; hammer-stones, pestles, and whetstones. Most readers are familiar with the term ‘celt’; but not every one is aware that it has no connexion with the name of the people who were the latest prehistoric invaders of these islands, and is simply an Anglicized form of a Latin word, meaning a chisel, which does not occur except in the Vulgate.260 76 Some celts were ground or polished only on the edge; some over their whole surface; and a few are so exquisitely finished on both sides that the labour which was devoted to them would have seemed excessive unless it had been a labour of love.261 On the other hand, many were neither ground nor polished; and some of the ruder ones may have been used as agricultural implements.262 Several have been found with pointed butts and extremely elongated oval sections, which have the closest resemblance to celts from the West Indies, and illustrate the truth of the observation that identity in form of implements, weapons, and other objects belonging to widely separated lands does not necessarily prove community of origin, but as a rule merely shows that similar wants in similar circumstances produce similar results.263 Although those celts which were used as hatchets or adzes were evidently mounted, there are some that show grooves on both sides or notches on one side, which seem to have been intended to enable them to be easily grasped.264 Most of the handles, having been made of wood, have naturally perished; but two hatchets, now in the British Museum, have been found with their handles complete,—one in Solway Moss by a man digging peat for fuel,265 the other in the bed of a Cumbrian lake called Ehenside Tarn.266 Unlike 77 the Swiss lake-dwellers, who had learned to fix their blades in deer-horn sockets, which were sufficiently elastic to prevent the wooden hafts from being injured by concussion,267 the makers of these hatchets had simply mounted them in a hole which fitted the butt, but which, by the jar of repeated blows, must soon have become split.268

Their uses.

Fig. 8.

Like the stone hatchets of the Maoris, neolithic celts were doubtless used not only for felling trees,269 chopping firewood, and slaughtering cattle, but also as battle-axes; and the profusion in which the ruder kinds have been found at Cissbury and Grime’s Graves shows that they also served as miners’ tools.270

Chisels and gouges.

Among the chisels some of the most interesting are small specimens, which came from Suffolk and the Yorkshire Wolds, and which may have been designed for wood-carving, and one from the Fen country, the end of which is described as exactly like that of a narrow ‘cold chisel’ of steel, used by engineers.271 Gouges, which are abundant in Denmark and Sweden, are very rare in this country. It has been suggested that canoes, for making which they were perhaps chiefly used, were more necessary in Scandinavia than in Britain; and it is significant that the best British gouges all 78 come from the fens, where canoes must have been needed for crossing the floods.272 It is probable, however, that although gouges may have been used in finishing the vessels, the heavy work of hollowing the trees out of which they were formed was largely performed by the agency of fire, as among the North American Indians of comparatively recent times.273

Fig. 9. ½

Axes, axe-hammers, anvils, and mullers.

No stone implements are more familiar to students of antiquities than the axes, axe-hammers, and hammers, in which, as in those of our own day, holes were drilled for the insertion of handles. Many of them were probably used as weapons of war. Some of the axes are double-edged, though the edge is often blunted, as though it had been intended rather for striking than for cutting; while the axe-hammers resemble an ordinary hammer at one end, and are sharpened at the other.274 It would perhaps be impossible to prove that any of these tools were used in Southern Britain in the Neolithic Age, although they 79 were not uncommon on the Continent;275 and most of those which are to be seen in our museums undoubtedly belong to the time when bronze was common:276 but some few have been found in Scotland in chambered cairns.277 Not one of them is made of flint.278 Of the implements which are known as hammer-stones some which have deep cup-shaped depressions may have served as anvils or mortars; and others again—quartzite pebbles or flint cores, which were found at Cissbury, Grime’s Graves, and other places—were apparently used for chipping flints. Some nearly globular stones, whose battered surfaces testify to hard wear, were doubtless for triturating grain or edible roots.279

Fig. 10. ½

Implements made by flakes.

The varieties of tools which have been made out of flakes are too numerous to particularize. Simple flakes, flat or triangular in section, varying in length from nine or ten inches to one inch, are the most abundant of all stone implements, and are to be found in every quarter of the globe. Here they are generally made of flint and are rarely ground. Some of them may have been used as surgical instruments; for, as we shall presently see, trepanning of the human skull was practised in the Neolithic Age.280 Others were made into saws, the teeth of which are occasionally so fine that to the unaided eye they are hardly visible.281 Many, shaped like horse-shoes, ducks’ bills, oyster-shells, or short spoons, or nearly round, were used for dressing hides, for scraping haematitic iron ore in order to obtain the red pigment which served 80 primitive man as rouge,282 and perhaps, in conjunction with nodules of iron pyrites, for producing fire.283 Some were fashioned into awls and drills;284 others into knives, daggers, and curved blades, which may perhaps have Javelin-heads and arrow-heads. been sickles.285 But the most beautiful weapons made out of flakes were javelin-heads and arrow-heads, which in this country are almost always of flint. If British neolithic workmanship did not on the whole reach the level of that of Denmark, in fashioning missile weapons our armourers could hold their own. Whether any given specimen was an arrow-head or a javelin-head, a javelin-head or a spear-head, can generally be decided only by size. Many are so small that no one can mistake the purpose for which they were intended; but it is not certain whether the largest were attached to spear-shafts, properly so called, or served as javelins. Arrow-heads and javelin-heads may be grouped in four classes, each of which has several varieties,—leaf-shaped, lozenge-shaped, stemmed, and triangular; but some five or six arrow-heads have been picked up whose outline was characterized by ogee curves. The stemmed heads are generally, and the triangular, which are rare, occasionally barbed. Although the various kinds were used contemporaneously, 81 barbs were perhaps of comparatively late invention,286 and may have been evolved in the struggle for existence as the population became more dense.287 Not a single barbed arrow-head or javelin-head has ever been found in a long barrow;288 but they occur in the chambered cairns of Scotland, as well as in certain English round barrows which were erected towards the end of the Neolithic Age;289 and a fine specimen was associated with many beautifully finished implements in a neolithic village at West Wickham.290 A leaf-shaped arrow-head was found in a peat-moss at Fyvie, in Aberdeenshire, still fixed 82 in a cleft in its shaft; but the cord or sinew by which it had doubtless been secured had disappeared.291 Arrow-heads may also have been made of hardened wood or bone, which holds poison better than flint.292

Fig. 11. ½

Fig. 12.

Fig. 13.

Fig. 14.

Fig. 15.

Bone implements.

The archers of many countries use wrist-guards to protect their arms against the recoil of the bowstring; and for this purpose the prehistoric Britons made rectangular plates of stone or bone, curved to fit their wrists and perforated near the angles with holes to enable them to be fastened. Most of those which have been collected belonged to the Bronze Age; but they probably came into use before.293 Various other implements of bone—awls, needles, chisels, and perhaps daggers and lance-heads—were also common in the Neolithic Age;294 and it is worth noticing that a well-known collector has found palaeolithic tools which, as his practised eye discerned, had been picked up and reflaked by neolithic men.295

Pygmy flints.

Of all stone implements the most curious are the tiny objects which are known as ‘pygmy flints’, and which have been found not only in certain parts of Britain296 and Ireland,297 but also in France, Belgium, Spain, North Africa and Egypt, Palestine and India. They are all made of minute flakes; and in one of our collections the marks of working could not be detected without the aid of a microscope, while sixty-four specimens, many of which were no more than a quarter of an inch long, weighed less than half an ounce. Numerous guesses, which need not be repeated, have been made as to their use. Everywhere their forms are identical; and, partly for this reason, partly because 83 in many places no other implements were associated with them, it has been supposed by lovers of the marvellous that they were the work of a peculiar race.298 If the latter reason were valid, we should be compelled to assume that the Lilliputians had sent out many colonies from the land where Gulliver found them. But every archaeologist knows that tools and other articles of identical form are to be found in divers continents; and pygmy flints may often have lain with others and have escaped observation.

Specialization of industries.

A survey of the implements and other relics arranged in a representative collection teaches us that men had already learned the necessity of a division of labour. Some clans who used flint implements could only have obtained them by barter. Even in the great factories of Grime’s Graves and Cissbury the miners were evidently distinct from the cutlers, as were both from the herdsmen. But in other settlements, where mining and cutlery were apparently not predominant industries, implements have been found of such perfect finish that their manufacture would seem to have been the special or the sole occupation of skilled members of the community.299

A lost art.

But there was one thing which the forerunner of neolithic man had done, and which he could not do. Among his relics we may look in vain for the carved dagger-handles, the engraved antlers, and the other works of art of the palaeolithic caves. Except in Grime’s Graves, not a single attempt to portray the human figure, or animal, or plant has ever been found among the deposits of the Neolithic Age. If the artists of Derbyshire and Aquitaine had left descendants, perhaps they were massacred or enslaved, perhaps their individuality withered under oppression: whatever may have been the cause, the old creative art was dead.300 84


Provided with their tools, the neolithic herdsmen were able to construct dwellings which, humble as they were, must have been comfortable in comparison with the shelters that had satisfied the hunters of the older time. Unfortunately, however, the evidence relating to the domestic life of the neolithic people is far less complete than that which has been preserved in regard to their Swiss contemporaries. In that age and for many centuries after it had come to an end the inhabitants of northern and western Europe, like the ancient Romans whom Horace301 eulogized, were content to live in habitations which were small and mean, while, under the influence of superstitious terror as much as of reverence, they constructed the mansions of their dead chieftains on a magnificent scale. Thus, while neolithic sepulchres are still conspicuous upon the western hills, few buildings have left traces which can be referred with absolute certainty to the same period.302 Many of the ‘hut-circles’ and pit-dwellings which have been excavated contain no trace of metal; but it is generally 85 impossible, in any given instance, to dismiss all doubts as to their antiquity when we find others, precisely similar, which were certainly occupied, if not built, by people who used implements of bronze. Still it is not credible that such dwellings were constructed for the first time after the introduction of metal working; and it is reasonable to believe that they were common before the earliest bronze implement was imported into Britain. Indeed a pit-dwelling has been found at the eastern end of a long barrow near the village of Hanging Grimston on the Yorkshire Wolds; and, as it was proved by excavation to be older than the barrow,303 it must have been dug in the Neolithic Age. There were of course villages of some sort at Cissbury and Grime’s Graves; and at Grovehurst, near Sittingbourne, are the remains of huts which were occupied by implement-makers.304 A group of pits on the sheltered southern slope of Croham Hurst, about a mile south of Croydon, the fields near which are thickly strewn with flint flakes, probably formed the winter abode of a small community:305 on Hayes Common a village has been explored, comprising about one hundred and sixty pits, the period of which was determined by the discovery of a neolithic workshop, on the floor of a pit of identical form, at Millfield in the immediate neighbourhood; and the neolithic age of a settlement at West Wickham was as clearly proved by the nature of the implements.306 At these places, at Weybourne in Norfolk, on the Hampshire Downs, and elsewhere, the sites of such dwellings are indicated by circular depressions, ranging in diameter from six to thirty feet and from two to six feet deep, which, though they generally occur in groups, are sometimes isolated. Each is surrounded by a bank, formed of the excavated earth, in which the entrance is marked by a gap. The bank was in certain cases prevented from falling in by a stone circle; and upon it was reared a hut, sometimes 86 perhaps formed of stones, but more often of interlaced boughs, while the roof, in which a hole was left for the escape of smoke, was probably thatched with fern or heather or turf, and, if it happened to be large, supported by a pole or the trunk of a tree, the position of which seems to be indicated by a mound in the centre of the pit.307 A cluster of huts was apparently sometimes surrounded by an entrenchment, which protected the inhabitants and their cattle from night attacks.308 Rude as these structures were, they fulfilled their purpose. The soil on which they were built was generally dry: the pit not only ensured warmth but also enabled the roof to be carried to a sufficient height: the bank, by throwing off the rain, kept the interior dry; and while in certain cases the remains of a hearth made of flints are found in the centre, in others it would seem that cooking was performed outside. Thus one group of pits on Hayes Common, the dimensions of which are within the ordinary range, is associated with smaller depressions, which apparently contained cooking-hearths.309 A small fire might have been safely lighted inside the hut to warm the inmates; but a large one, such as would have been necessary for cooking a joint or an entire hare or sucking-pig, might have ignited the inflammable roof.310

A remarkable group of pits has recently been excavated in Wigtownshire.311 Piles had been driven into them to 87 support a wooden floor, the object of which was doubtless to keep them dry; and the marks on the piles seemed to their discoverer to show that they had been cut with stone hatchets.312

Three entirely subterranean chambers, of a kind which has been met with nowhere else in the British Isles, have lately been discovered by navvies who were digging a sewer-trench at Waddon, near Croydon. They were about twelve feet in diameter and seven feet high; and although they contained fragments of Romano-British pottery, the flint flakes and blocks which lay upon the floors were assigned by the experienced antiquary who explored them313 to the Age of Stone. While he was impressed by their exact resemblance to certain Portuguese neolithic chambers which were used for burial,314 he suggested that they might also have served as shelters in times of excessive heat or cold.

Unlike their Swiss contemporaries, who built their huts on platforms, supported by piles driven into the beds of lakes, the neolithic Britons lived mainly if not exclusively on land. Lake-dwellings indeed abound in the British Isles; but exploration shows that almost all were erected in the Late Celtic Period; and the only one in Britain which can with any show of reason be referred to the Age of Stone is in Holderness, which, before it was drained, was covered with marshes and shallow meres. One of a group of five, called the West Furze dwelling, contained a large number of flint flakes: but a bronze spear-head was also found in it; and the evidence is not sufficient to show that it was built in a pre-metallic period.315 88

Food and cookery.

The food of the neolithic population has left more abundant traces than their homes. The bones which are strewed in their sepulchres and settlements show that they lived in great part on venison and the flesh of the wild boar;316 and the skull of an aurochs, which was found in the Fen country with a stone weapon sticking in it,317 proves that they also followed the largest game. Unlike the palaeolithic hunters, they used dogs in the chase; and it has been plausibly conjectured that these animals were the first to be domesticated. For man was a hunter before he was a herdsman; and the dog would soon begin to lick the hand that rewarded it with a share of the slaughtered boar or deer.318 It would seem, however, that when with advancing age dogs had become too slow for hunting, they were killed and eaten; for canine bones, apparently of old animals, were found at Grime’s Graves.319 Neolithic immigrants introduced sheep,320 goats, and pigs as well as horned cattle; and all the bones of the latter which have been collected from their refuse-heaps and graves were those of small oxen, the scientific name of which—Bos longifrons—is familiar to all students of antiquities, and which resembled their living descendants, the Kerry cattle of Ireland and the small black animals of the Welsh mountains. Some authorities believe that these and all our varieties of domestic oxen are descended from the aurochs, which, as we have seen, was living in this country in palaeolithic times, and suggest that its calves were trapped and tamed;321 while others maintain that Bos longifrons was introduced by neolithic immigrants. The extreme smallness of the prehistoric domestic oxen is as easily accounted for as that of the mountain cattle of the present day. The tribes who kept them had but limited pasturage: forage 89 in winter was probably scanty; and the milk which was needed by their calves was largely consumed by their owners.322 The broken bones of cattle which were found at Grime’s Graves belonged to very young animals, which the implement-makers who bred them evidently could not afford to rear.323 The meat was boiled in rude hand-made vessels of earthenware heated by red-hot flints, or, as we may infer from the frequent occurrence in barrows of charred bones, roasted or broiled over the fire; and the remains of each meal were left to accumulate in the huts.324 It has been suggested by one of the most eminent of living anthropologists that the ornament, so often observed on prehistoric earthenware, which was produced by impressing a cord upon the clay while it was soft, may be traceable to an earlier time when the art of the potter had not been evolved, and vessels were made of plaited cords and also perhaps of skins and hollowed wood.325


Although agriculture was practised by the later neolithic inhabitants of Denmark326 and the lake-dwellers of Switzerland,327 there is very little evidence that their contemporaries in this country tilled the soil. A few of the stone pestles which have been found belong, it is true, to that period,328 but it is impossible, except perhaps in a very few instances, to affirm that they were used for grinding corn;329 and although, as we have seen, certain rough-hewn celts may have been agricultural implements,330 it is doubtful whether they all belong to the Age of Stone. Cereals and textile flax-fabrics, which are abundant in the lake-dwellings, are 90 absolutely wanting in every British neolithic deposit that has been explored.331 Negative evidence of this kind may not be worth much: nevertheless there is reason to believe that agriculture was rare in Britain before the introduction of bronze. Barrow-diggers have often noticed that the teeth of neolithic skeletons are, as a rule, remarkably perfect; while those of the skulls found in round barrows and unchambered cairns are very much worn down; and it has been reasonably argued that the difference was due to food. The people of the Bronze Age, who were undoubtedly cultivators, subsisted in great part upon grain, which was probably ill cooked, and must have been largely mixed with stony grit from contact with the rude mullers by which it had been ground. The neolithic people, on the other hand, lived mainly upon milk and flesh-meat.332 Pastoral tribes do not turn to agriculture until their numbers have increased to such a degree that they have no prospect of being able to live by hunting and on the produce of their flocks and herds alone: they prefer an easy life; and agriculture, especially to those whose implements are primitive, is difficult and laborious.333 If corn was grown, it was probably on the open chalk downs.334 The richer soils were covered with forest; and, although the stone axe was a better tool than any which the primitive hunters had possessed, the neolithic herdsman must have shrunk from the labour of cutting down the trees and dragging them 91 away. Fire would have been of no avail. Men who have cleared forests in New Zealand will tell you that the fiercest flames will not destroy standing trees: twigs and leaves burn like tinder; but the trunk remains unconsumed.

Treatment of women.

There is evidence, though it is hardly needed, that the inevitable hardships of life were not equally shared, and that the lot of the women was worse than that of the men. Judging from the measurements of the neolithic skeletons, the disparity between the sexes in stature was as great as it is among modern savage tribes. The average height of the men was about five feet six inches, of the women only four feet ten inches: the difference in civilized communities is about half as much.335 It is perhaps safe to conclude that when food was scarce, the men thought first of themselves, and that the women not only suffered from the effects of early child-bearing,336 but had more than their Duration of life. share of toil. No doubt disease, the attacks of wild beasts, and frequent accidents, as well as intertribal wars, tended to shorten the duration of life: at all events Thurnam calculated that the average age of the people whose skeletons he had examined was not more than forty-five years.337

Clothing and ornaments.

The sheep and goats and the wild red deer which supplied the tribes with food doubtless clothed them as well; and it may be questioned whether in this respect they had advanced much beyond the primitive denizens of caves. The lake-dwellers of Switzerland were expert spinners: the textile fabrics which lay unnoticed for millenniums in their settlements show what they could achieve.338 Our own forefathers may have been as skilful: but evidence is lacking; and their pottery was so inferior to that of the Helvetians, they lagged so far behind them as tool-makers, that we may reasonably assume that their women also were less proficient in domestic arts.339 The perforated disks of stone and baked clay, called spindle-whorls, by which the 92 spindle was made to rotate, have indeed been found in great numbers here; but not a single specimen can be assigned with confidence to the Neolithic Age.340 British ornaments too of that period are very rare.341 No doubt the Britons were as fond of display as other barbarians: there is, as we have seen,342 some evidence that they decorated their bodies with red paint; but a few lignite beads, found in the long horned cairn of Yarhouse,343 and a single bead of shale, found in a long barrow in Gloucestershire,344 are all the personal ornaments that we can unhesitatingly refer to the Age of Stone. An ingenious archaeologist, who perhaps knows less of human nature than of books and museums, has argued that the origin of jewellery was rooted in superstition;345 and those who know that natural holed stones are still prized as amulets in the more primitive villages of this country346 may easily persuade themselves that savage men and women had faith in the prophylactic properties of the perforated teeth and beads which they hung round their necks: but nobody who can understand the passion for sparkling gems which possesses many women and some men will believe that the love of adornment for its own sake was not as deep-seated in primitive human nature as superstition.347


But amulets of a different kind, which are abundant in other lands, appear to be almost entirely wanting in our own. It is not difficult to understand that in material culture the prehistoric inhabitants of Britain should have been outstripped by those of the Continent; but it is 93 remarkable that a practice, the motive of which was mainly superstitious, and which was prevalent not only in every European country but also in America, has in this island apparently left but one vestige, which belonged to the Late Celtic Period. Sixty trepanned skulls were found in the cavern of Baumes-Chaudes in the department of Lozère; and twenty years ago a French physician had collected one hundred and sixty-seven. The operation was evidently performed either by scraping the skull with a stone implement or with a stone saw;348 for an eminent surgeon has remarked that saw-cuts are distinctly visible on some of the French trepanned skulls. In a few cases the object was to remove dead bone; but as most of the skulls show no trace of disease, it has been conjectured that the patients were afflicted with epilepsy, and that the operator’s aim was to relieve them by permitting the escape of the demon who was believed to be the author of their sufferings. It is, however, certain that the skull of a corpse was sometimes trepanned; and the edge of the perforation in specimens of this class generally shows signs of an old cicatrization. The explanation may easily be found. Some of the fragments which had been removed from trepanned skulls were evidently used as amulets, for they are carefully rounded, polished, and perforated for suspension; and one was actually found hanging from a Gallic torque, or gold collar, of the Early Iron Age. Most probably, as the famous anthropologist, Paul Broca, concluded, these amulets were taken posthumously from the skulls of persons who had survived the operation, being regarded as potent prophylactics.349 94

The couvade.

Folk-lore societies have collected countless instances of beliefs or customs preserved by the lower classes of modern nations, many of which are certainly of very remote origin, although it is generally impossible to say where they originated, or whether they belonged to this or that people of antiquity. But there is evidence that one custom which appears utterly meaningless to those who have not inquired its original meaning, which is retained by peoples who have long forgotten what that meaning was, but which with others is still or was in comparatively recent times not merely a survival but a reality, existed among our neolithic ancestors. Every one has heard of the couvade, or hatching, which ordains that when a child is born the father should take to his bed, and there remain for days or weeks after the mother has resumed her ordinary mode of life. We learn from Greek writers that it prevailed among the ancient Corsicans,350 the Tibareni of Pontus in Asia Minor,351 and the Iberians of Northern Spain;352 and with various modifications it exists or has existed among the Basques and the Caribs of the West Indies, in South America, California, Greenland, West Africa, Southern India, the Indian archipelago, and Eastern Asia. It originated in a belief that the real parent was the father, and that between him and his child there was a physical union so intimate that unless he rested and were nursed and abstained from ordinary food, his child would suffer. But this belief was not primitive. Matriarchy, it would seem, was the root of family life: descent was reckoned 95 through the mother, for the father was often unknown. It has been conjectured that when paternal relationship began to be acknowledged, fathers felt the need of insisting upon their rights, and that accordingly a parody of lying-in gradually became a custom.353 An Irish legend shows that the couvade survived in Ulster into the Christian era;354 and a few years ago a similar custom was observed in a remote district of Yorkshire.355 Although the peoples who have retained the couvade in modern times, like those among whom its existence was noted by ancient writers, are, with hardly an exception, neither of Aryan nor of Semitic origin, it is perhaps conceivable that it may have been brought into the British Isles in post-neolithic times by invaders who had accepted it from races whom they had subdued; but it is far more probable that it was a widespread custom of the Neolithic Age belonging to tribes of the Mediterranean race, to which the neolithic Britons, as well as the Iberians and Corsicans, belonged.356


Although the neolithic tribes of Britain had common customs and superstitions,357 and were, for the most part, sprung from one stock, they were not of course a nation. Arriving in successive hordes, and settling wherever they could find room, they were separated by mountain, stream, forest, and morass, as well as by the lack of horses, vehicles, and roads. But as their numbers multiplied and it became more and more difficult to find sufficient food, the struggle for life must have led to intertribal war, and men’s minds must have been exercised to improve their weapons and to fortify their settlements and cattle-pounds not only against the wolves, which they had ever with them, but also against depredation. Every one who knows the 96 South Downs and the hilly districts of the midlands, the west, and the north, has noticed the camps and earthworks which crown almost every height; but, as we have already seen, there are only a few of these entrenchments of which the period of construction is known, although we have abundant evidence that many have been occupied by successive races or in successive stages of culture. Almost all of them have been superficially explored, and implements of neolithic form have been found in many; but the reader knows that such implements were used in the Bronze Age and in the Iron Age even in those parts of the country where bronze and iron were common. If stone tools were found in the original body of a rampart or beneath the silt in a trench, without any objects of metal or any such tools or pottery as were characteristic of the Bronze Age or of later times, it might fairly be presumed that the people who built the camp were in their neolithic stage.358 Except the camps that are known to be Roman, and others which have been proved by excavation to be Norman, most of those that have been thoroughly explored were evidently constructed after the art of metal-working had become known; and this is also true of those that have been scientifically examined in France.359 There are, however, not a few British strongholds for which neolithic age has been claimed, though perhaps in some instances on insufficient grounds. Thus it has been asserted that Whit Tor camp on Dartmoor has yielded ample evidence of neolithic origin;360 but all the excavations of hut-circles, kistvaens, and barrows that have been made on Dartmoor tend to show that it was not occupied before the Bronze Age.361 A few of the pits which abound in the hill-fort of Eggardun in Dorsetshire have been explored; and it is said that one of them contained ‘typical neolithic pottery’.362 97 But, in the absence of an exact description of the vessels, such an argument is unsatisfactory, although it might have some weight if they resembled the coarse unornamented bowls which were found in the long barrow of North Bavant in Wiltshire363 or the neolithic bowls of the Scottish chambered cairns.364 Still there are entrenchments, such as Chanctonbury Rings,365 on the downs some six miles north of Worthing, Beltout,366 within which stands the Beachy Head lighthouse, the Maiden Bower camp near Dunstable,367 and some on the Surrey Hills,368 in and around which flint implements have been found in such profusion that they may be provisionally referred to the Neolithic Age.369 Even 98 Cissbury camp, which contained numerous relics of the Early Iron Age, may have been constructed in the age of stone: a single cutting, only eleven yards long, revealed numerous worked flints lying, without pottery or metal, on the chalk bottom; and Pitt-Rivers suggested that the entrenchment might have been made for the protection of the mines.370 It is true that no bronze implement was found, from which it might be argued that the camp was not constructed before the Iron Age: but, for aught that we can tell, bronze may still be lying beneath the soil; for the cost of excavating the whole camp, without which it is impossible to prove the negative, would be enormous. Certain small entrenchments in Franche-Comté were unquestionably constructed in neolithic times;371 and it may be safely said that in an age when life and property were so insecure every isolated settlement must have been in some way fortified. Many of the entrenchments on the South Downs are, however, so slight that they could only have protected flocks and herds against wolves; and this may also have been the purpose of the thickset hedge, undoubtedly of prehistoric origin, that marks the line along which the downs were bounded by the Wealden Forest.372 99

Primitive writing.

Although the historian who endeavours to press archaeology into his service is struck by the general similarity in material culture between the peoples of different lands, and is sometimes inclined, overlooking the differences in detail, to think that in describing one he would be describing all, he presently remembers that if historical records were to be destroyed, much the same state of things would confront the archaeologist of the remote future; and in his own researches he meets with differences which lead him to believe that in every land the first beginnings of a national culture and of a national character were already being evolved. In this country or in that significant relics are discovered of which in others there is not a trace. One of the more sensational discoveries of recent years may set us wondering whether in prehistoric Britain vestiges of primitive writing will ever come to light. Many people have heard vaguely of the painted pebbles and the frescoes of Mas d’Azil and the other caverns in the Western Pyrenees which the veteran archaeologist, Edouard Piette, has for many years diligently searched. On one of the objects found in the cavern of Lorthet—a spirited engraving on reindeer-horn representing reindeer and salmon—are to be seen two small lozenges, each enclosing a central line: ‘justly proud of his work,’ says Monsieur Piette, ‘the artist has appended his signature.’373 Be this as it may, other explorers have exhumed from the Placard cave at Rochebertier and the caves of La Madelaine and Mas d’Azil antlers incised with signs which exactly resemble various Greek and Phoenician letters, and may be compared with signs that have been found in an island of the Pacific. These signs are not letters but symbols: they are not combined in such a way as to form words or inscriptions.374 But, says Monsieur Piette, being symbols, they do constitute 100 a kind of primitive writing.375 True writing is, however, evident on a potsherd taken from a neolithic settlement at Los Murciélagos in Portugal.376 If this fragment could itself be proved to be of neolithic age, it would follow that in that remote time the art of writing was already known to at least one branch of the Mediterranean stock. But not a trace of writing, not even one of the alphabetiform symbols which were so widespread in the Pyrenees even in the late Palaeolithic Age, has yet been found in any prehistoric deposit in this island.

Sepulture: barrows and cairns.

So far we have been trying to piece together an account of the life of neolithic man. But it is of the last scene of all that the vestiges which he has left behind are most unmistakable. His sepulchres have been thoroughly and scientifically explored. Moreover, it is from them that much of the knowledge which we possess of his daily life has been gleaned. They afford evidence about his political and social organization, his religion, and his customs; and when we have examined them we shall be able to form a more vivid idea of the way in which he lived.

We have seen that the dead were sometimes buried in caves wherein they or their forefathers had dwelled;377 and the humbler folk who had not the means of erecting sepulchral monuments must have dug graves of which no apparent trace remains; but the funerals that have told their own tale were those of chieftains, their families, and perhaps their favourite slaves, who were buried beneath mounds which, in divers forms, are found all over the world.378 Savage communities indeed are commonly ruled by councils of elders; but in the period when the neolithic barrows were being erected the Britons had certainly passed 101 beyond this stage. The means by which the revolution was effected were probably various. If the most adroit magician in a community of which every member practised magic may sometimes by force of character have made himself a chief,379 it is certain that when property accumulated and group began to prey upon group, the instinct of self-preservation must have led men to submit to the rule of him who was marked out as the fittest to command in war.380 Those who love to look for the places in this land that are hallowed by their associations with an older world may have seen the long barrows which are conspicuous on the hills that command Salisbury Plain and on other western heights, the chambered cairns of Scotland, and the dolmens of Cornwall and Wales. These sepulchres are far rarer than those of the Bronze Age, not more than sixty having been counted in Wiltshire, where they are most numerous, while the round barrows of the same county number nearly two thousand;381 and the area of their distribution is far less extensive. In Gloucestershire, Somersetshire, and Dorsetshire they are not uncommon; a few are to be seen in the East Riding of Yorkshire; and Kent, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Durham, Cumberland, and Westmorland have each one.382 Chambered cairns which are related to chambered long barrows are found near 102 St. Asaph and in Caithness;383 and other chambered cairns and chambered round barrows, which belong to the latest period of the Stone Age or to a time of transition, exist in Orkney, Inverness-shire, Argyllshire and some of the adjoining islands, the Holm of Papa Westray, Derbyshire, Wales, Cornwall and the Scilly Isles, and the islands of the Channel.384

The materials of which these monuments are composed vary of course according to the nature of the country in which they were erected. Stone was used where it was abundant, and earth or rubble where stone was not to be obtained. The significance of the barrows lies not in their substance but in their form; but it is probable that the absence of chambered barrows in South Wiltshire and Dorsetshire, where unchambered ones are common, is due simply to lack of the necessary stones.385 The eminent Swedish archaeologist, Nilsson, argued that the ‘passage-graves’, or chambered barrows, of Scandinavia were designed on the model of subterranean dwellings; but the little evidence that remains tends to show that no such analogy existed here; and the Eskimos and Lapps, whose dwellings Nilsson had in view, bury their dead in tombs of a different kind.386 Antiquaries who have had experience in opening 103 chambered and unchambered barrows consider that the two classes were erected in the same period;387 and the nature of the interments, as we shall presently see, justifies this conclusion.

The orientation of the long barrows and of the chambered cairns which are classed with them seems to show that the builders intended that the spirits of the dead might look upon the rising sun. The axis of the barrow or cairn generally lies either due east and west or in a direction approximating more or less closely thereto; and the broader and higher end of the barrow, where, as a rule, the sepulchral deposits are found,388 generally faces eastward. In a few instances the axis lies between the north and the south, the broad end pointing sometimes northward, sometimes southward. When the direction is not due east, it varies between north-north-east and south-east; and one may reasonably conclude that this variation depended upon the place of sunrise at the time of the year when the barrow was erected. Similar varieties, combined with the same general tendency to point the barrow towards the east, have been observed in the neolithic tombs of other countries.389

Fig. 16.

Long barrows vary greatly, not only in their materials and orientation, but also in their size and shape. Many of them exceed a hundred feet in length; and the chambered barrow of West Kennet is three hundred and thirty-five feet long and seventy-five broad at its eastern end.390 More 104 striking, however, than the mere dimensions of a long barrow is the disproportion between its whole extent and that part of it in which alone the dead were laid. The immense toil which must have been expended in constructing such a monument by labourers who had only deer-horn picks and stone tools proves not only density of population, effective organization, and the despotism which the chiefs must have exercised, but also a religious awe the compelling force of which we, who live in a world that has grown old, can hardly conceive. Some of the mounds might in outline be compared to a very elongated egg, others to one-half of a pear cut lengthwise and laid upon its flat side.391 The trenches from which the material was excavated extend along their sides, but never encircle the ends.392 The chambered barrows are of many kinds, no two being exactly alike. Some have a central gallery, entered by a doorway at the broad end, so low that it is necessary to stoop or even to crawl. Generally the chambers, 105 placed opposite one another in one, two, three, or even six pairs, open out of the gallery like the chapels in a Gothic cathedral; while occasionally, as at West Kennet, the gallery leads to a terminal chamber; and in other instances both lateral and terminal chambers are found. At Rodmarton and Nether Swell in Gloucestershire there is no gallery; and the chambers open externally. Galleries and chambers are alike built of stones set on edge, which (the interstices being filled in with dry walling) support flags laid horizontally across; though occasionally, as at Stoney Littleton in Somersetshire, the roof is constructed of converging layers of stones which form a rude arch.393 Some so-called chambered barrows, for instance Littleton Drew in Wiltshire, have no chambers, but only cists, or shallow graves excavated in the soil and built up with stone slabs. The mounds were generally faced with dry walling; and on the chalk downs of North Wiltshire, where blocks of sandstone abounded, the wall was often, as at West Kennet, surrounded by a peristalith formed of stones erected at regular intervals. These stones have disappeared; but drawings, made in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, show what they were like.394 The architects were inspired by a vivid sense of beauty. The enclosing wall, as it approached the broad and high end of the barrow, was turned inwards by gradual and graceful curves, which generally terminated in great stones that served as the jambs of the entrance. Even when there was no gallery, this symmetrical curve was still adopted, and its termination marked by monumental pillars.395 The Wor Barrow on Cranborne Chase, an oval mound of such uncommon form that Pitt-Rivers, before he opened it, felt doubtful whether 106 it did not belong to the Bronze Age, appears to have been a chambered sepulchre of an abnormal kind. When the tumulus had been removed, a trench, enclosing an oblong space, appeared in the chalk which had formed the old surface. Stake-holes were detected in the trench; and the famous antiquary concluded that the stakes had been simply ‘a wooden version of the long chambers of stone’.396

Fig. 17.

Intimately related to certain chambered long barrows are the famous horned cairns, which exist only in Caithness. Although their forms also are various, the larger cairn of Yarhouse being extremely elongated while that of Ormiegill might be almost exactly contained within a perfect square, the ruling idea remained the same. The exterior wall, which is always double, develops eastward and westward into horn-shaped projections, which curve outwards. Thus the four sides form four symmetrical concave curves; whereas in English chambered barrows, like that of Uley and some of the barrows at Upper Swell in Gloucestershire,397 the curvilinear projections which correspond with the horns exist only at the eastern end. An opening between the eastern horns in the Scottish cairns gives access to the chamber, which is commonly divided into three partitions by two pairs of stones, crossing the side walls and leaving a passage between.398 107

Just as the long are earlier than the short horned cairns, so the latter are earlier than the round chambered cairns of Scotland; for no horned cairns were erected after the Scottish Bronze Age had begun, whereas, although the round chambered cairns were developed towards the close of the Neolithic Age, and although metal has never been found in them,399 their external form was reproduced in the Bronze Age, when chambers were no longer built.400 The chambers of the round cairns also are divided into sections; and one of them, near Loch Etive in Argyllshire, shows traces of an encircling trench and rampart.401 In Southern Britain the chronological sequence was probably the same: the round chambered cairns seem to be later than the chambered long barrows. The Park Cwm tumulus in the peninsula of Gower, which has a central avenue and two pairs of opposite chambers opening out of it,402 has been likened to the Uley barrow; but its form is round. The chambered tumulus of Plas Newydd Park in Anglesey, which is roughly oval,403 may possibly represent an earlier and transitional form.404 108

Round chambered barrows exist in Derbyshire, the design of which is purely local. Thus the Five-Wells barrow, near Taddington, has two chambers, each of which was approached by a gallery entered through a kind of port-hole on either side of the mound. The skulls that have been found in these tombs are of the neolithic type: but a barrow on Derwent Moor, which is commonly assigned to the same period,405 contained an urn, ornamented with designs characteristic of the Bronze Age, in which a piece of copper was found;406 and an experienced antiquary has remarked that in cataloguing the remains found in the Derbyshire barrows he ‘found it almost impossible to separate the Neolithic from the Bronze Age interments’.407 In West Cornwall also there are gigantic chambered cairns, round or oval, the date of which is uncertain. No bronze has been found in them, but abundance of pottery, and cists which are undoubtedly later than the chambers. One, standing on the cliff which rises above Cape Cornwall, contained a double-walled dome, and reminded its explorer of the huge tope at Bhojpur.408

Chambered cairns of a peculiar kind remain in Argyllshire and the islands of Islay and Arran, the like of which have been discovered nowhere else except on the opposite coast of Ireland.409 Nearly all the pottery that has been 109 found in them closely resembles that of the dolmens of North-Western France and the Pyrenees, while none exactly like it has been exhumed in England; and, combining these facts with the geographical position of the sepulchres themselves, the antiquary who has explored them concludes that their builders came late in the Neolithic Age from Brittany, and, sailing up St. George’s Channel, settled on the opposite shores of Scotland and Ireland.410 Physically, however, they belonged, as their skeletons show, to the same stock as the great majority of the neolithic people of Britain.411 110

Inhumation and incineration.

Here, as also in France412 and Northern Germany,413 funerals were performed both by inhumation and incineration. In the barrows of South-Western Britain, cremation, although not unknown, was very rare;414 in Yorkshire415 and the chambered cairns of Bute,416 almost universal. Judging from the analogy of other countries and from the fact that inhumation persisted into the Bronze Age, and then for a long period was generally superseded by cremation,417 it seems probable that the latter was not introduced until a comparatively late epoch.418 The two modes of burial were, however, contemporaneous not only in different parts of the country but in the same district and in the same grave. Burnt and unburnt bones have been found lying together in such a manner as to prove that they had been interred at the same time.419 Cremation was generally performed in the chamber or on the floor of the barrow where the body was deposited.420 When the corpse was buried entire, it was usually laid upon the ground421 with the knees doubled up towards the chin, or placed sitting in a similar posture by the side of the tomb.422 This custom, which was 111 almost universal in prehistoric times, and is still practised by many savages, is best explained by the assumption that it was thought seemly to bury the dead in the position in which they had slept, and that, for the sake of warmth, they had commonly lain down to rest in an attitude which most of us have occasionally adopted for the same reason.423 In some barrows only single skeletons have been found; but generally in unchambered barrows, where more than two persons had been buried in one grave, the bones lay heaped together as though the bodies had been unceremoniously flung down;424 while in certain cases they were found disjointed in such wise that it was evident that the dead had not been buried entire, or, as is often the case in savage countries and even in Brittany and the Catholic cantons of Switzerland, until long after the flesh had decayed.425 The Balearic islanders, in the time of Diodorus Siculus,426 used to sever the bodies of their dead in pieces and inter them in urns; and the same practice prevailed in Spain in the Age of Bronze.427 British explorers, moreover, have often noticed, in opening barrows, that skeletons were incomplete, many of the bones being absent.428 Since the piled skeletons belonged to old and young, male and female, it can only be concluded that corpses were often stored, as in a mortuary, until a sufficient number had accumulated, and then buried all together.429 In a barrow 112 situated at Upper Swell in Gloucestershire, Rolleston found evidence which convinced him that interments were sometimes made successively upon the same spot. An undisturbed skeleton was here surrounded by a great quantity of bones, the arrangement of which was such that he was forced to conclude that they had been displaced in order to make room for it.430 In chambered barrows successive interments were of course regular, gallery and chamber being designed to admit them.

Human sacrifice.

Thurnam was convinced that in the barrows which he explored there were unmistakable evidences of human sacrifice. In nearly all of them he found fractured skulls, the broken edges of which were so sharp that he inferred that the skull had been cleft in life by a club or a stone axe; while in some cases one skull only was unmutilated. His conclusion was that the few entire skulls were those of chiefs or their relatives, while the others belonged to slaves or captives who had been sacrificed. In one instance, in which only two interments were met with, the broken skull was that of a woman, while the bones of the other corpse, which belonged to a man, had been imperfectly burned. Thurnam argued that the burnt bones belonged to a chief, and that the woman was his wife.431 Rolleston, on the other hand, could see no reason for believing that the broken skulls had been cleft deliberately.432 He pointed out that the fragments were so numerous that if the persons to whom they belonged had been sacrificed, they must have been slaughtered by a succession of wanton blows; that the fractures were utterly different from those of skulls which are known to have been broken by deliberate blows, and resemble those which have been caused by the shifting 113 of soil or the collapse of stones; and he argues that from what we know of the sentiments of savage and barbarian peoples it is in the last degree improbable that slaves or captives, if they had been sacrificed, would have been allowed to repose side by side with their lords. Nevertheless it is not safe to reject all the evidence which Thurnam adduced. In a round barrow near Stonehenge Hoare found a skull which appeared to have been cut in two as deftly as by a surgical instrument;433 and one may believe that what was done in the Bronze Age was not unknown in the Age of Stone. When we remember that evidences of human sacrifice have been detected in French neolithic tombs,434 and that the practice was universal in ancient times,435 we shall be safe in assuming that neolithic Britain was no exception to the rule that after a chieftain’s obsequies his dependents were immolated in order that their souls might be set free to minister to his.436

Traces (?) of cannibalism.

But Thurnam also believed that the long barrows contained evidences of cannibalism.437 The numerous passages in which ancient writers accused the inhabitants of the British Isles of devouring their own kind refer mainly to the Irish:438 but they were speaking of their contemporaries; and when some of the Yorkshire barrows were opened it was evident that the flesh had been removed from the bodies before they were interred.439 But even if cannibalism was practised in our Neolithic Age, the motive was not hunger. The numerous bones of oxen, swine, red deer, goats, and horses440 which are found in the barrows, mingled 114 with fragments of pottery, prove that a funeral was an occasion for a feast, and may show that, as in later times, offerings were made to the ghosts of the dead.441 If human flesh was eaten, it was doubtless in the hope that moral qualities which had distinguished the dead might be absorbed by the living.442

Interment of animals.

Perhaps the most curious feature in neolithic interments is that animals were sometimes buried entire.443 It is not indeed surprising that at Eyford in Gloucestershire there was buried with a woman a dog which may have been her companion;444 but in a long barrow near Stonehenge was found the skeleton of a goose which had evidently not been eaten.445 Was it a sign that neolithic people had the same religious prejudice against eating geese which Caesar noted,446 or had this goose been sacrificed?447


We can hardly err in regarding the sepulchral monuments on which such stupendous labour was expended as witnesses of a belief which may be called religious, and perhaps as a further illustration of the apophthegm, ‘The first begetter of gods on earth was fear’.448 For if the spirits of ancestors are believed by savage tribes to be on the whole well disposed towards those whom they leave behind, yet when their bodies do not receive due burial their wrath is terrible.449 The most eminent of modern French archaeologists maintains that the dolmens, chambered tombs, and standing stones of France were erected under the influence of Druids;450 and in 115 this country also the belief has long been growing that Druidism was of non-Celtic and neolithic origin: but since our knowledge of it is confined to the period when it was a Celtic institution, we must defer our consideration of it.451 But, apart from the graves themselves, there is hardly any certain evidence in our neolithic interments of religious belief. While in France, Scandinavia, Northern Germany, and other lands, the tombs of this period were stored with implements, ornaments, and weapons, the spirits of which were doubtless consecrated to the service of the dead,452 such relics are so rare in Britain453 that unless the barrows were despoiled in bygone days by heedless explorers, we can only suppose that it was not generally thought necessary to provide those who had passed away with the means of continuing their life in another world; and it may be that the few arrow-heads, flakes, and other objects which have been found in graves were rather intended as marks of reverence or affection than for use.454 On the other hand, some of the implements found in neolithic barrows are said to have been intentionally broken;455 and this is often done by savages in the belief that the souls of the implements456 may thus be set free to be of use to the spirits of the dead.457 The holes that are to be seen in the stones of dolmens in many lands are here so rare458 that we may hardly regard 116 them as evidence of a belief that spirits must be allowed an exit from their graves; although such a belief has been common to many peoples, and may even linger on among ourselves, as in France and Germany, in the superstition which often impels survivors to open door or window when life is ebbing away459. It must be confessed that we know little more of neolithic than of palaeolithic religion. Fetichism, which is ubiquitous—the belief that spirits inhabit or operate through stocks and stones and what not; the belief by which the Dorsetshire peasant who treasures his holed pebble for luck is still animated—may be assumed to have belonged to both.460 The worship of saints may be a survival of the worship of ancestors.461 The traces of the adoration of wells and lakes and rivers which may still be observed in the remoter parts of Great Britain and Ireland, where peasants offer pence to the spirit of the spring, and children were lately bidden to beware of the river-sprite who was waiting to drown them, are undoubtedly linked to a prehistoric faith;462 and so is that superstition which prevails in New Zealand, in the Malay Archipelago, and on the banks of the Ganges, and which among the islanders of St. Kilda and the Shetlanders of Scott’s day impelled men to refuse aid to a drowning comrade because they feared to balk the marine demon of his prey.463 Nor need we doubt that, like other savages, our neolithic forefathers saw sun, moon, and stars as living beings, or that, like the Australian aboriginals and the nameless tribes who passed on to the Greeks the myths which were by them invested with poetic form, they invented stories to account for the wonders which they saw in the starry heavens.464 117 Neither need we hesitate to believe that, as each clan had its chief, so the clansmen saw, above elves and kelpies, gnomes and goblins, rock-spirits and tree-spirits, the mightier deities of Heaven and Earth, Sun and Moon, Fire, Water, and Thunder.465 We may believe, if we please, that they prayed, as savages, nay Christians, often pray, not that they might become better, but that they might be better off.466 We may suppose too that magic, which is even now used in remote villages as an engine of extortion,467 was still a power by which men strove to ensure supplies of food or to make rain fall in time of drought, perhaps also a weapon by which the man of intellect made himself obeyed. But when we consider the infinite variety of forms which superstition assumes, we see that it would be vain to contend that any one belief now held by this or that savage tribe was identically part of the faith that was professed in Britain in the Neolithic Age. Even the fancy that an ethereal soul survived bodily death may not have been universal; and as the Tonga islanders and the Virginians are said to have believed that only the souls of chiefs would live again,468 so it is conceivable that the slaves by whose sweat were built the barrows in which their lords were to be interred were regarded as doomed to annihilation. And when we are told that some quaint superstition which the folklorist discovers in Devonshire or the Highlands is non-Aryan, and must therefore be traceable to the people who were here before the first Celtic invader arrived, we may ask how it is possible to disprove that it had been inherited by the Celt from remote ancestors or had been borrowed by him from non-Aryan tribes while he was still a wanderer. We must be content, if we can but catch something of the spirit of neolithic religion, to remain in blank ignorance of its details. We must keep in mind that in unnumbered centuries it cannot have remained the same, and that in 118 diverse regions its manifestations must have been various. We must not ask for more than the assurance that to the herdsmen who pastured their cattle on our downs all Nature was animated; that in their eyes ‘as the human body was held to live and act by virtue of its own inhabiting spirit-soul, so the operations of the world seemed to be carried on by the influence of other spirits’;469 and that, like all savage and half-savage peoples, they were enslaved by custom, fettered by taboos, and compelled, when they were driven by necessity to violate them, to expiate their offence by complex rites.470 It may, however, be presumed that the religion of neolithic man progressed when he ceased to be a wanderer, and especially when he began to till the soil. Supernatural beings were not of necessity gods to be worshipped; but when the god of a community became the lord of its land, he was its protector, nay, its father, who, in return for due reverence and sacrifice, would do his utmost to guard it against human enemies and hostile deities.471

And perhaps, since primitive worship concerned the community rather than the individual,472 common superstitions and participation in sacrificial feasts were already beginning to do their work of creating the sense of kindred between divers groups, out of which, ages later and after successive new invasions, war and policy were to develop a state.473

We have gathered some scraps of information from the tools and weapons and pottery, the dwellings and mines, the graves and the skeletons of neolithic man. Can these dry bones live? Only for him who has imagination, which, as the historian whose own was supported by a vast armoury 119 of solid knowledge declared with splendid paradox, ‘is the mother of all history as of all poetry.’474 It is not when we are reading the memoirs in which discoveries are recorded, not when we are wandering through the galleries of a museum, that those happy moments come in which we discern the faint outlines of the prehistoric world, but rather when we are roaming over sand or moor or upland, looking for the tools that those old workers wrought, in the midst of the monuments which their hands upreared. Not the outward life alone comes back to us—the miner with lamp and pick creeping down the shaft; the cutler toiling amid a waste of flints; herdsmen following cattle on the downs; girls milking at sundown; lithe swarthy hunters returning from the chase; fowlers in their canoes gliding over the meres; serfs hauling blocks up the hillside to build the chambers in yonder barrow; the funeral feast; the weird sepulchral rites; the bloody strife for the means of subsistence between clan and clan:—we think also of the meditations of the architects who created those monuments in memory of the dead and of the adventurous lives of those who were thus honoured; of their survivors’ desperate denial of death’s finality; of the immeasurably slow, age-long movement of expanding civilization; of the influence of superstition, paralysing, yet ever tending to consolidate society; of the enthusiast whose thoughts soared above the common level; of the toil that spent itself in millenniums past, but is still yielding fruit; of unrecorded deeds of heroism and of shame; of man’s ambition and of woman’s love.

An alien invasion: period of transition.

Before the Neolithic Age came to its end invaders began to appear who had not yet learned the art of metal-working, but who belonged to a race of which the people in possession knew nothing.475 Sepulchral customs began to change. Long barrows were erected still, but, as in France, Holland, and other lands,476 mounds of circular form were rising, and at 120 last supplanted them. It was a time of transition; and although in the far west and the far north the Stone Age lingered on, another was approaching, which had long since dawned in more favoured lands,—the Age of Bronze. 121



A Copper Age preceded the Bronze Age in certain countries, but has not been proved to have existed in Britain.

Those who have learned to realize the extreme slowness with which material culture was evolved in its earlier stages would be disposed to doubt whether the first metallic implements were made of bronze, and to ask whether, at all events in some part of the world, the Neolithic must not have merged into a Copper Age. It is easy to imagine that the accidental melting of a piece of copper ore may have suggested the possibility of fashioning the metal into tools; and that inventive cutlers took impressions of stone axes in clay, and found that they could make from them copper axes which were not liable to break:477 but one can hardly believe that simultaneously the discovery should have been made that the softness and bluntness of copper could be remedied by mixing with it a small proportion of tin. 122 It is indeed not inconceivable that bronze was the first metal which was ever manufactured; for near the surface copper ores often contain tin oxide; and it has been proved that by smelting such ores bronze can be produced.478 But of course only experiment could have shown that tools made of this metal were better than copper. The Egyptians were acquainted with the use of copper long before they began to manufacture bronze;479 and in many parts of the British Isles as well as of the Continent copper implements have been discovered which belonged to prehistoric times.480 But such discoveries do not necessarily prove the existence of a Copper Age: they may often be accounted for by the supposition that tin, which is far less widely distributed than copper, was temporarily wanting. In many cases implements of copper and of bronze have been met with in intimate association; and sometimes copper implements of advanced type with primitive bronze.481 When, on the other hand, copper implements are repeatedly found in deposits which are known to be older than the oldest bronze in the districts in which they occur, the conclusion is irresistible that they were used there before bronze was manufactured.482 There was certainly a Copper Age in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Cyprus; and probably also in Hungary, Northern Italy, Spain, and Ireland, with which, in ancient times, Spain was closely connected, and in which copper celts were unmistakably modelled upon those of stone: but for Britain the evidence is not sufficient.483 We must 123 assume then provisionally that in our island the metal which was first used for cutting-tools was bronze.

Bronze implements used for many centuries in Europe before the Iron Age.

Certain metallurgists, however, maintain that a Bronze Age, properly so called, may never have existed; and that iron may have been manufactured during and even before the period to which the bronze tools that are exhibited in museums belong. Iron was undoubtedly known to the Egyptians at a very remote date, perhaps as early as bronze.484 Primitive methods of extracting iron from its ore, which are still practised in India and Africa, require far less skill than the manufacture of bronze: the metallurgists argue that since iron is rapidly oxidized by air and moisture, the iron tools which they assume to have been made in the so-called Bronze Age must have perished in the conditions to which most of the bronze tools that have been discovered were exposed; and they insist that iron tools have actually been found in association with objects of the early Bronze and even of the late Neolithic Age.485 124

The inconsistency of these arguments is self-evident; and if their authors had known the rudiments of archaeology, they would never have published them.486 Hundreds of iron weapons have been recovered from the Thames: a competent archaeologist has affirmed that there was not one which could not with certainty be attributed to some period later than the Bronze Age; and since numerous articles of stone and bronze have been found in the same bed, he reasonably concludes that if iron implements had been used in the Bronze Age, some few at least must have come to light.487 Nor is there any reason to suppose that if iron tools had been laid in graves of the Bronze Age, they would necessarily have perished beyond recognition; for in the famous Tyrolese cemetery of Hallstatt, and in many other deposits that, like it, belonged to the transitional period when bronze and iron were simultaneously used, the iron objects, oxidized though they are, retain their distinctive forms.488 Yet in the numerous British barrows of the Bronze Age, and in the hoards of the same period that have been unearthed in England, Scotland, and Wales, not a trace of iron has ever been found.489 Nothing then can be more certain than that in Britain, as in the rest of Europe, the Iron Age was preceded by a long period during which the only metals used were copper and bronze.490

Where did the European bronze culture originate?

Every antiquary knows that bronze did not reach this country until long after it was first used in Southern Europe, and that it was common in Egypt many centuries before; but in what part of the world it was first manufactured 125 remains an unsettled question.491 The oldest piece of bronze that has yet been dated was found at Mêdûm in Egypt, and is supposed to have been cast about three thousand seven hundred years before the birth of Christ. But the metal may have been worked even earlier in other lands; for a bronze statuette and a bronze vase, which were made twenty-five centuries before our era, have been obtained from Mesopotamia; and the craft must have passed through many stages before such objects could have been produced. Yet it would be rash to infer that either the Babylonians or the Egyptians invented bronze; for neither in Egypt nor in Babylonia is there any tin. Some archaeologist who shall explore the virgin fields of the Far East may one day be able to prove that bronze was worked by the Chinese, in whose country both copper and tin abound, earlier than by any other people; but even so it will still remain doubtful whether the art was not independently discovered elsewhere. There is no evidence that the bronze culture of Mexico and Peru did not originate in America;492 and although it was once believed that all the tribes of Europe ultimately derived their knowledge of the metal from Asia,493 there are many who now maintain that it is impossible to detect in European deposits of the Bronze Age the slightest trace of Oriental origin.494 126

Origin and affinities of the bronze culture of Britain.

But whatever may have been the case in Southern lands, there is no doubt that the knowledge of bronze came to this country from abroad. The old theory that it was a result of Phoenician commerce with Britain has long been abandoned;495 and British bronze implements are so different from those of Norway and Sweden, Denmark, and Hungary that it cannot have been derived from any of those countries.496 German influence was felt at a comparatively late period;497 but from first to last the British bronze culture was closely connected with that of Gaul, and through Gaul with that of Italy.498

Period of its commencement.

The period when bronze first appeared in Britain can only be approximately fixed. It is certain that in the south-eastern districts iron tools began to be used not later than the fourth century before the Christian era.499 The final period of the British Bronze Age is marked by the discovery of bronze-founders’ hoards, all of which contain tools or fragments of tools which are known as socketed celts, or other socketed instruments which were contemporary with them. These hoards are so numerous and so widely diffused, and the objects of which they are composed are so varied in form, that the time during which they were deposited cannot, in the opinion of experts, have been less than four or five hundred years. But before the first socketed celt was cast the bronze culture passed through earlier stages, during which the flat celts that resembled those of stone were being used, and then gradually giving way to improved forms, which in their turn were succeeded by later developments. The veteran archaeologist who has handled and examined almost every specimen of these numerous varieties has arrived at the conclusion that the British Bronze Age 127 must have begun at the latest between 1400 and 1200 B.C.;500 and while no one would now contend for a later date, there are some who maintain that bronze was first used in Britain twenty centuries before the Christian era.501

Physical characters of the late neolithic and early bronze-using invaders of Britain.

After the Bronze Age set in, as before the close of the preceding period, bands of invaders, wholly different in physical type from the neolithic aborigines, landed successively through long ages upon our eastern and southern shores. They came from the Netherlands, from Denmark and its islands, perhaps also from Scandinavia and from Gaul. They must not, however, be identified either with the invaders who introduced the Celtic language into Gaul or with any Celtic-speaking people. There is no evidence, and it is in the last degree improbable, that any Celtic tribe had appeared in Gaul at the time when the alien immigrants began to settle in Britain, or that Celtic had then taken shape as a branch of the Indo-European language. Those immigrants have often been described as a tall, stalwart, round-headed race; but the evidence of sepulchral remains shows that they sprang from various stocks. Those of the type which is commonly regarded as specially characteristic of the Bronze Age were taller and much more powerfully built than the aborigines: their skulls were comparatively short and round; they had massive jaws, strongly marked features, enormously prominent brow ridges and retreating foreheads; and their countenances must have been stern, forbidding, and sometimes almost brutal. Similar skulls, which have much in common with the primitive Neanderthal type,502 have been exhumed from neolithic tombs in Denmark and the Danish island of Falster. But the skeletons which have been found in some of the oldest Scottish cists belonged to men whose average height, although they were sturdy and thickset, was barely five feet three inches, and whose skulls, shorter and rounder than the others, as well as their milder features, proved that they were an offshoot of the so-called Alpine race of Central 128 Europe, of which there were numerous representatives in Gaul. Again there were tall men with skulls of an intermediate type; while others, who combined harsh features and projecting brows with narrow heads, and whose stature was often great, would seem to have been the offspring of intermarriage between the older and the newer inhabitants. Not a single skeleton of the characteristic British round-barrow type is known to have been discovered on French soil: the round-headed inhabitants of Gaul were as conspicuously short as those of Britain were generally tall; nor, excluding the Britons of the Alpine stock, was there any physical resemblance between the two peoples. The British invaders of the Alpine stock, judging from the pottery which was found with their skeletons, came for the most part, as we shall afterwards see, not from Gaul but from the valley of the Rhine. Moreover, the round-headed people of Gaul settled there first early in the Neolithic Age, before a Celtic word was spoken; and although their descendants formed the substratum of the Gallic population who, in Caesar’s time, called themselves Celts, that name was introduced by conquerors of a wholly different stock. Probably a Celtic invasion of Britain took place before the British Iron Age began: but the remains of such invaders are not recognizable in any British graves.503

Their social organization.

Each of the invading clans was doubtless ruled by a chief; for many of the burial mounds which they erected were intended for the great alone, and could only have been constructed by the organized labour of many hands.504 They must have respected family ties; for women and even babies were interred with scrupulous care; and more than one barrow was reared for the reception of a single child.505 Yet infants have so often been found buried along with women that one can only conclude that infanticide was as prevalent in ancient as in modern Britain.506 Only the 129 children were slain because their mothers could no longer nurse them, not because they desired to rid themselves of trouble.

Character and results of the invasions: the invaders poor in bronze weapons.

In Wiltshire and other parts of Southern Britain the old population would seem to have been largely dispossessed or subdued; but the skeletons found in the barrows of Derbyshire and Staffordshire, of Yorkshire and the other northern counties, indicate that there the immigrants mingled more or less peacefully with the people whom they came among.507 Fighting no doubt took place everywhere; but the notion that bronze weapons gave the first invaders victory is disproved by the fact that in the earlier part of the era bronze was both costly and rare.508 If chieftains had bronze, their clansmen were still armed with old-fashioned weapons; and until the new age was far advanced, the neolithic tribes, in so far as they were conquered, must have yielded to superior numbers, superior skill, or superior strength. Probably in certain districts they were never conquered, and never permitted the intruders to dwell among them. Among a vast number of stone implements that have been found lying on the moors west of Rochdale and Ashton-under-Lyne bronze was searched for in vain;509 and one may provisionally infer that these hillmen were protected by the strength of their territory.

Evidence of finds as to the settlements of the invaders.

Bronze implements or other relics of the Bronze Age have been found in almost every county of England, Wales, and Scotland, and in some of the adjoining islands;510 but their distribution appears to imply that, as might have been 130 inferred from the geographical features, some districts were far more densely populated than others. The lands which the new comers selected were mainly those which were already occupied by the neolithic inhabitants. The relics are most abundant in those which are now most sparsely peopled, but which were then sought after because, even when the soil was poor, it was dry, well-watered, and comparatively open. The moors of Derbyshire, Yorkshire and other Northumbrian counties, Devonshire and Cornwall; the bracing uplands of East Anglia; the downs of Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Hampshire, Dorsetshire, and Wiltshire; and the wolds of Lincolnshire,—these were the tracts which the immigrants occupied in the greatest numbers. The Midlands, on the other hand, would seem to have attracted comparatively few: Durham, for some unexplained reason, was generally avoided;511 while the northern and north-western tracts of Scotland were almost entirely neglected.512 The Yorkshire Wolds afford an interesting example of the motives which determined the choice of abode. Their scanty vegetation could not have tempted a people who depended for their subsistence mainly upon their flocks and herds; yet the numerous barrows with which they are studded and the flint implements which have been picked up in thousands from their surface prove that they were as thickly peopled as any other part of Britain. The reason was that they were unencumbered by the forests which could only have been cleared by arduous labour; their climate was healthy; and, above all, they were so completely isolated by the wooded valley of the Derwent, the swamps of Holderness, the broad estuary of the Humber, and the morasses which then covered the plain of York, that their occupants were secure from all attack.513 131

In certain parts of England the routes by which invaders advanced may be traced by the sites at which bronze implements have been found. In Worcestershire, for example, these spots have been mapped along the line of the Avon from Warwickshire to the Severn, and again in the valley of the latter river, where it was apparently crossed by ancient trackways. The implements in these two counties belong to comparatively late periods.514

The settlements must often have been desperately resisted, more and more as time passed and unoccupied lands became rare. But it would be a mistake to assume that the struggle was always between aboriginal communities and round-headed invaders. There must have been much intermingling between the old population and the new: gradually the use of bronze weapons must have spread to neolithic clans or to those who could obtain them by barter or theft; and by the time when the Bronze Age was far advanced tribes of mingled stock must often have presented a united front to enemies from over sea. Even when the invaders had slowly made their way from the Channel to the far north, and from the German Ocean to the Irish Sea, hunger or the lust of booty would often lead to intertribal raids. Gradually weapons were improved; and we shall presently endeavour to trace their evolution. Even to the very end of the period, however, not only the rank and file but the wealthiest chief, who had a complete set of bronze implements and weapons, and who could afford to decorate the handle of his blade with ivory, amber, or gold, to wear gold buttons on his clothing, sometimes even to adorn his charger with a gold peytrel, shot arrows tipped with flint. Flint arrow-heads, leaf-shaped and barbed, have been found by thousands in deposits of the Bronze Age, but in this island never one of bronze. Even when daggers had given place to swords and bronze spears were common, battle-axes were made not of bronze but of stone.515 132

Stone implements used long after the introduction of bronze.

Stone implements indeed, such as were in use in the Neolithic Age, have been found so often in the graves of chieftains associated with those of bronze that we may be sure that, at least in the earlier part of the Bronze Age, even the wealthier classes could not afford to discard the older material; while among the needy population of the Yorkshire Wolds many barrows contained no implements except those of flint or bone.516 Bronze saws have very rarely been found in this country, although they were common enough in Southern Europe;517 and since all our bronze gouges are comparatively late,518 it may be inferred that during the earlier Bronze Age these tools were everywhere still made of flint. In the west of Scotland, at all events, metal tools were apparently unknown until long after the first round-headed people landed, and probably until long after bronze had begun to be used in Southern Britain.519 We may indeed be sure that the Stone Age continued for centuries later in remote parts of the country; and perhaps in certain islands bronze may have remained unknown.


When a clan had succeeded in establishing itself, it had to provide for its protection against cattle-lifters and slave-hunters; and gradually and by immense labour great 133 strongholds were constructed on suitable sites. Comparatively rare in the south-east, they are conspicuous on nearly all the hilly districts of England, Wales, and Scotland;520 but it is in the western and south-western counties that they most abound. Devonshire and the adjacent parts of Somersetshire contain not less than eighty; and almost every spur on Salisbury Plain is fortified.521 The multiplicity of these camps bears witness not only to density of population and constant warfare, but also to the utter disunion which existed at the time when they were constructed. Supposing that the majority of the forts in Dorsetshire, for instance, were built in the Late Celtic Period, we should have to conclude that the Durotriges, who then inhabited that district, were merely a loose aggregate of scores of clans, ever ready to prey upon one another; for if the forts had been destined only to repel the attacks of some other tribe, they would hardly have been so numerous and so widely scattered. It is true that the Gallic Morini in Caesar’s time had not become welded into one state, and that the Kentish clans were under four petty kings; but in the period when the older earthworks were thrown up it would seem that far less progress had been made towards union. But even supposing that most of the prehistoric forts were later than the Bronze Age, their purpose accorded with the methods of primitive warfare. A chain of modern fortresses impedes an invader because, while they remain uncaptured, he cannot pass between them without exposing his line of communication. But in ancient times, when one tribe attacked another, it had no communications to guard: the invaders carried their food with them, and when it was spent trusted for support to the enemy’s country.522 If a tribe had desired merely to protect its frontier, it would not have erected hill-forts but a continuous entrenchment. 134

Amongst those which were occupied in the Bronze Age or before may be mentioned Badbury Rings in Dorsetshire;523 the stone fort on Whit-Tor in Dartmoor524 and another in the Rhonddha valley in Glamorganshire;525 Small Down camp near Evercreech in Somersetshire;526 the fort of Carn Brea in Cornwall;527 the series of entrenchments which mark the spurs of the hills that command the valley of the Esk from Guisborough to Whitby;528 those which line the western border of Worcestershire;529 Oldbury, some three miles east of Sevenoaks;530 Hollingbury on the Sussex Downs;531 Lutcombe Castle on the Berkshire Downs, overlooking the Vale of White Horse;532 and the greatest of all—the Maiden Castle, whose stupendous ramparts are the pride of Dorchester.533 But it is probable that the greater number may ultimately be referred to the Age of Bronze.534 135

The form, construction, and materials of British forts are naturally diverse. In Cornwall, Devonshire, Wales, and other places they were of course built largely or wholly of stone, the masonry being always uncemented: elsewhere they were true earthworks. Leaving out of sight the question of their date, they may be grouped in three classes.535 The first comprises those that were erected on promontories or other heights which on one or more sides were fortified by precipice, river, or sea. Such was the fort of Carl’s Wark in Derbyshire, which, on three sides, rises almost sheer above the swamps of Hathersage Moor. On the west, where the ground slopes towards the plain, a huge earthen rampart, faced with dry masonry, afforded secure protection; and the slopes below the eastern and southern sides are strewn with great stones which must have fallen from the walls above.536 The ‘cliff-castles’ on the coasts of Kirkcudbright and of Wales and on the headlands between the Land’s End and Cape Cornwall belong to the same 136 group.537 In the second class the entrenchments, traced upon commanding sites, which, however, were nowhere so steep as to dispense with artificial aid, followed the tactical line of defence which the nature of the hill indicated. Most of the heights on which they stand are covered with soil so thin that they never could have been thickly wooded, and if trees had encumbered their sides they would have been cut down; for the object of the engineers was to leave no ‘dead ground’ on which an assailant could conceal himself. If he felt strong enough to lead his clansmen to the assault, he knew that they could not avoid being exposed from the moment when they penetrated within the range of a bow or a sling. General Pitt-Rivers, who did so much to illuminate the study of prehistoric fortifications, was never weary of calling attention to the skill with which they had been designed. Once only, when he was exploring the camp at Seaford, he thought that he could detect evidence of neglect. As he stood upon the rampart he noticed that an advancing force would be able to conceal itself for a while. Presently, however, it flashed across his mind that time had done its work upon rampart and ditch; and soon excavation proved that the latter had lost by silting seven feet of its original depth. The general saw with delight that the designer had been as vigilant as any of his contemporaries. The rampart in ancient times must have been at least five feet higher; and then the garrison who manned it would have been able instantly to detect the first enemy who ventured within range. ‘How carefully,’ he wrote, ‘the defenders economized their interior space, drawing their rampart just far enough down the hill to obtain a command of view, but not one yard further.’538

In certain cases, however, the hill was so extensive that if the tactical line of defence had been slavishly followed, the defenders would have been too few. Then the chief 137 engineer modified the accepted principle. Selecting a spot at which he might safely abandon the natural line, he made his sappers build a cross rampart at right angles to it straight across the hill-top until it joined the works on the further side. An example of this device may be seen in the camp of Puttenham in Surrey.539

Among the more famous strongholds of the second class are Cissbury on the South Downs, which, as we have seen, was almost certainly erected in the Neolithic Age,540 Badbury Rings, and the Maiden Castle. This noble fortress must surely have deserved its modern name. No British force could ever have taken it: no other country can show its match. Three lines of ramparts defend the northern and four the southern side: gaining the summit of the road from Weymouth, you see them outlined against the sky; and as you mount the hill-side, they rise, one behind another, like veritable cliffs. Worn by the rains of five-and-twenty centuries or more, they still stand sixty feet541 above their fosses; and their entrances, on the east and the west, are guarded by overlapping works so intricate that if a column had succeeded in forcing its way across the abatis, it would have found itself helplessly winding in and out as through a labyrinth, pounded on either flank and enfiladed by stones and arrows discharged at point-blank range.

The strongholds of the third class were erected on lower hills or on high ground little elevated above the surrounding country, and therefore depended less for their protection upon natural features.542 Those that have been explored belong to the Late Celtic Period.543 It may be doubted, however, whether such forts were generally later than those whose sites were more commanding; for the inhabitants 138 of every district could only choose the best positions which they could find.544 Cherbury camp indeed, about four miles south-east of Fyfield in Berkshire, was built on a lowland plain.

Some of the Gallic forts which Caesar saw, and of our own, were in his time inhabited by large industrial communities; but although many of the British strongholds which belonged to the Bronze Age contain the foundations of huts and broken pottery,545 it is doubtful whether they had more than a few occupants except in time of war.546

Every explorer who has tried to imagine the conditions of life in ancient British forts has noticed that many of them have no apparent source from which water can be obtained. It has indeed been suggested that where there was neither a spring nor running water within reach the garrison had recourse to dew-ponds, which are still used for watering cattle on the Hampshire downs.547 But even these reservoirs were generally lacking. Pitt-Rivers, however, argued that in the chalk districts many sites which are now remote from water may have possessed springs. At the village of Woodcuts in Cranborne Chase, after cleaning out a Roman well, one hundred and eighty-eight feet deep, he found no water, but the iron-work of a bucket.548 But even where there was no spring it is easy to understand how the garrison supplied themselves. None of these camps was ever subjected to a prolonged siege. No army can undertake such an operation 139 unless it can ensure a continuous supply of food; and to do this requires forethought and organization of which barbarous clans are incapable. Again and again the Gauls with whom Caesar contended, whose civilization was far more advanced than that of the Britons of the Bronze Age, were obliged to abandon movements that might otherwise have succeeded, simply because their commissariat had been neglected.549 When ancient Britons were obliged to take refuge in their stronghold, they knew that the danger would pass if they could hold out for a little while. Women and children who failed to reach the entrenchment in time were doubtless slain or enslaved. But otherwise the worst that was to be dreaded was the loss of crops or stock and the destruction of dwellings. We may suppose that while the cattle were being driven into the fort the women carried up in vessels of skin or earthenware as much water as would suffice for a few days. Such was the practice of the Maoris at a recent time.550

Primitive metallurgy.

In spite of war industrial arts were making progress, which was stimulated by war itself. Copper was abundant in Cornwall, Cardiganshire and Anglesey, and near Llandudno: tin was to be had near the surface in Cornwall,551 and perhaps first attracted attention where it was associated with gold; native smiths began to copy the tools which were brought from abroad; and insular forms were gradually evolved. Among the immigrants there must have been some who were acquainted with metallurgy; and just as the modern coach-builder finds himself obliged to manufacture motor-cars, so, we may be sure, the more enterprising cutlers who had hitherto made stone implements 140 gradually learned to produce tools of copper or bronze. The metals were of course not at first procured by mining. Copper would be obtained from boulders or from lumps of ore on hill-sides, and tin from the gravel beds of streams. The methods, which have been recorded by modern observers, of primitive communities are probably much the same as those of the Britons of the Bronze Age. The original furnaces differed hardly at all from the fires at which food was cooked. The fire was kindled within a fire-place of large stones, underneath which was a pit. The wind, rushing through the crevices of the stones, created a draught, which may have been forced by some rude bellows. After the embers and the slag had been raked away the molten metal in the pit was watched until it was on the point of becoming solid, when the copper cakes were snatched out and broken into the lumps of which specimens have been found in bronze-founders’ hoards. For the smelting of tin a method may have been adopted which was still practised in Germany in the Middle Ages. A trench was filled with brushwood, above which logs were piled; and as soon as the fuel was aglow the ore was pitched on to the fire until a sufficient amount had accumulated. Then the embers were raked away, and the molten tin ladled out.552 It is worthy of remark that all the Scottish bronze implements which had been analysed up to the year 1880 contained lead;553 and one may perhaps infer that the tin which was exported from Cornwall to Scotland was not pure.

Bronze Implements:—celts.

Many bronze implements were reproductions, more or less modified, of neolithic models. Stone celts, knives, daggers, spear-heads, awls, chisels, gouges, sickles, and saws have their successors in bronze. Gradually, however, new forms were developed or invented. Bronze was of course at first reserved for weapons; and knives or knife-daggers probably preceded all others, because the metal was originally too scarce and expensive to be used for those 141 which required a large expenditure of material.554 Flat axes, resembling more or less closely the polished neolithic celts, were, however, manufactured early in the Bronze Age. After some time the sides of the narrow part of the celt, above the cutting edge, were hammered upwards,—probably in order to steady the blade against a lateral strain; and thus by insensible gradations the flat was transformed into the flanged celt; while a projection, commonly called a stop-ridge, was cast on the narrow part of the blade with the object of preventing it from being forced too far into its wooden haft. As the flanges became more marked, they were first confined to the upper part of the tool, and afterwards developed into wings which were hammered inwards so as to form a kind of rudimentary socket.555 Celts of this form are called palstaves,—a word of Icelandic origin, which denotes a spade. In palstaves of another kind the part between the wings and above the stop-ridge was cast thinner than the rest, so that a groove appeared into which the haft could be securely fitted; and a loop was often added at one side to enable the attachment to be secured by bands of twine.556 The final improvement was to cast the blade with a socket for the reception of the handle: but palstaves remained in use down to the very end of the Bronze Age;557 while in some socketed celts the wings survive as mere ornaments upon the sides.558 Like palstaves nearly all socketed celts are looped on one side, and a few on both.559 Naturally the socket was not limited to celts, but applied also to knives,560 chisels,561 gouges,562 and other tools. Socketed knives, however, are very rare in Scotland; and on the Continent, except in Northern France, they are almost unknown.563 On the other hand the patterns 142 143 144 of our socketed chisels and gouges appear to have been derived from some foreign source.564

Fig. 18. ½

Fig. 19. ½

Fig. 20. ½

Fig. 21. ½

Fig. 22. ½

Fig. 23. ½

The earliest British celts were copied not from stone models but from foreign ones of bronze;565 and our winged celts and palstaves resemble certain French specimens so closely that they too were probably modelled in the first instance upon the latter.566 The socket also was invented by some ingenious foreign cutler;567 for palstaves with the wings bent over are rare in this country, whereas socketed celts with ornamental wings are common.568 Socketed celts were apparently never widely diffused in Northern Britain; and of course even in the south they did not altogether displace palstaves.569 Even after they began to be manufactured here the output was supplemented by importation from Gaul: a certain type, the blades of which, instead of expanding, are long and narrow, and the sockets almost square, occurs frequently in North-Western France and our southern counties, but very seldom in the north.570

Bronze celts in general, like those of stone, were doubtless used for various purposes—as hoes, hatchets, and possibly battle-axes—and some, which are very narrow or very small, as chisels.571 Palstaves were sometimes used, as their name would suggest, in the construction of earthworks.572


Sickles probably originated in Southern Europe. The few early specimens that have been found here have their closest analogies in France and Denmark; but, for some 145 unknown reason, socketed sickles are almost peculiar to the British Isles.573

Fig. 24. ½

The Arreton Down hoard.

A hoard was found early in the eighteenth century on Arreton Down, near Newport in the Isle of Wight, which helped to illustrate the evolution of bronze weapons. Daggers, which differed from knives principally in size, though they began to be manufactured later, were originally hafted with rivets; but afterwards they were cast with tangs or shanks, which were let into the handle, and fastened by a single rivet.574 The Arreton Down hoard contained nine tanged blades, which closely resemble daggers but may have been spear-heads. Many similar blades have been found since, but hardly any outside the British Isles.575


From daggers were derived a class of weapons very rare in this country, called halberds, which in Scandinavia and Northern Germany have been found mounted as battle-axes. Heavier and broader than their prototypes, they were often made of nearly pure copper, which rendered them less brittle and more suitable for dealing heavy blows.576

Shields, swords, spears.

Swords, shields, and, with certain exceptions, spears and javelins were not manufactured until the latest period of the Bronze Age. Swords and spear-heads required great skill in casting: shields were so thin that they could not be cast at all, but were wrought by the hammer.577 Even at the close of the Bronze Age they were probably unobtainable except by the rich, while the rank and file doubtless 146 still made shift with bucklers of wicker-work, wood or leather. The shields of the Bronze Age were invariably circular. Nearly all were ornamented over their whole surface with concentric rings, of which one example has as many as thirty, separated by circles of small studs; and this ornamentation is peculiarly British. One curious shield, found in the Fen country, is adorned with serpentine lines, which may have been intended to represent snakes.578

Fig. 25.

British bronze swords, like those of the Continent, from which they were copied, are commonly of a type which is called leaf-shaped, the blade tapering gently inwards from 147 the hilt, then gradually expanding until, at about one-third of the distance, measured from the point, it attains its greatest width. They, as well as certain rapier-shaped swords, were intended for stabbing, not striking. Their length was generally about two feet, but varied between sixteen and thirty inches. Their sheaths were as a rule made of wood or leather, which, however, were often tipped with bronze; and many of these tips or chapes have been found in the Thames and elsewhere without the scabbards, which had perished.579

Fig. 26. ¼

The spears of the earlier Bronze Age were identical with neolithic flint weapons. Probably the earliest bronze spear-heads were some of the larger blades that have been found in Wiltshire barrows, which are commonly described as knives or daggers.580 Others were derived from the tanged blades of the Arreton Down type, if, indeed, the latter were not themselves spear-heads. A curious and unique specimen, which was found in the Thames at Taplow, and is now in the British Museum, is ornamented with gold studs on the bottom of the blade, which are merely survivals of the rivets that attached to its haft the dagger from which it had been evolved.581 Spear-heads of this kind, which are invariably provided either with a pair of holes in the blade or a pair of loops below it, intended to secure its attachment to the shaft,582 are extremely rare on the Continent, 148 and appear to have been invented in Ireland, whence they spread in the course of trade to Britain.583 Another form of spear-head, which originated in the British Isles and has never been found elsewhere, was barbed, and seems to have been used for hunting rather than in war.584 The commonest, however, is the continental leaf-shaped type, some specimens of which have analogies in Gaul and the Swiss lake-dwellings.585 The smaller weapons of the spear-head class were doubtless javelins.586

Fig. 27. ½


Many of the moulds in which weapons and implements were cast have been preserved. Open moulds sufficed for flat axes; but the more difficult operations of casting palstaves and socketed celts required that the moulds should be made in halves. All the open ones that remain were of stone; many others, however, were doubtless formed of more perishable materials, such as clay or compact sand. Bronze moulds were also used; but the only specimens which have been found were for palstaves, socketed celts, and gouges. There is a bronze mould in the British Museum that was itself cast in a mould of clay, formed round a model palstave, and attached to it by string, which was of course reproduced in the metal. Leaden celts have once or twice been met with, which of course would have been useless as cutting tools; and it is probable that they were intended simply for making moulds of clay or sand. Bronze moulds were costly, and would soon wear out. It has been suggested therefore that, just as a printer uses in his press not his original wood-block but an electrotype 149 copy, so the bronze-founder generally reserved his bronze moulds for making leaden models from which any number of clay moulds could be formed.587 Sockets were produced by means of clay cores, which were inserted in the moulds. Socketed celts have so often been found in hoards with the cores remaining in them that we may reasonably conclude that they were bartered by the bronze-founders in this state, and that, as in the Neolithic Age, the purchasers finished them with their own hands.588 The hammers and anvils which were used in the final stage of manufacture were commonly stone, though a few light bronze hammers have been unearthed; and the decoration was applied by means of punches.589

Decoration of weapons.

The patterns with which weapons were decorated are worth noticing even by those to whom archaeology for its own sake makes no appeal. Daggers and flat or slightly flanged celts were incised with rectilinear figures and chevrons only:590 winged celts, palstaves, socketed celts, and spear-heads have similar designs in a few instances,591 but for the most part they are ornamented with concentric circles. The significance of these facts will become apparent when we come to deal with certain chronological questions relating to the Bronze Age.592


What we know of the metal-work of this period has been learned mainly from buried hoards which were never recovered by their owners, and of which more than a hundred have been unearthed in Great Britain from Cornwall to 150 Sutherland.593 These hoards were of three kinds.594 Some, consisting entirely of newly-made articles, belong to traders. Others, which comprise damaged or broken goods, and include moulds and often cakes of copper, represent the stock-in-trade of bronze-founders, who tramped over the country-side, and were ready to cast implements or ornaments of the latest fashion and to melt and recast old ones for anybody who could give them what they wanted in exchange. The tools in these collections were for the most part broken intentionally to make them more portable and ready for the crucible.595 Other hoards again, which frequently comprise ornaments, alone or associated with implements, were the property of persons who were not in the trade. Hoards were of course buried when robbers were about or when some marauding clan appeared. By far the greater number belong to the latest period of the Bronze Age,596 which shows that in earlier times the craft had not been specialized, or that people who could afford to buy bronze implements were so few that no travelling dealer could make a fair profit. Those who then possessed bronze tools must have made them for themselves unless there happened to be a skilled craftsman near who could earn a living by working for his neighbours.

The great improvement of tools and weapons would lead us to look for traces of corresponding progress in every department of material culture.


Pasturage of course continued to be the mainstay of the mass of the population; and although there were probably 151 few households which did not subsist partly upon the chase, the remains of funeral feasts in barrows and the refuse heaps of dwellings show that game was eaten much less than the flesh of domestic animals. It has been said that sheep were not introduced into Britain before the Roman conquest; but excavation has proved that they were bred by the bronze-using inhabitants of Dorsetshire.597 Besides the small cattle that were common in the Neolithic Age large oxen were reared, at all events on Cranborne Chase and the Yorkshire Wolds; and, as in the Neolithic Age and doubtless for the same reason, animals were commonly slaughtered before they had reached maturity.598 Although bronze fish-hooks, almost identical in form with our own hooks of steel, abounded in the Swiss lake-dwellings, and were present in more than one of the hoards that have been unearthed in France, only a single specimen has yet come to light in the British Isles: but it need not be inferred that the Britons had no taste for fish; for they probably caught trout and salmon with nets or spears.599

The growth of population was indeed making it difficult for men to provide for their families; and they were constrained to toil harder in order to avoid starvation. Under Agriculture. this pressure agriculture began to flourish; and wheat was grown at least as far north as Yorkshire.600 Armed with bronze axes, the husbandmen were better able to clear forests and to bring new land under cultivation; and at harvest time, when they reaped their reward, then, we may be sure, the clansmen gathered, and sacrificed to their god, and held high festival.601 Their labours are attested not only by numerous stone mullers and by the sickles that have been already mentioned, one of which was found even in Aberdeenshire, but also, as we have already seen, 152 by the teeth of the skeletons in the barrows.602 Oxen were probably used in ploughing.603 Horses, which were very small, were domesticated, and in certain parts of the country eaten,604 but they were not common; and, although the rock-carvings of Scandinavia and the bridle-bits and wooden wheels that have been found on the sites of Swiss lake-dwellings show that in the Bronze Age men had learned to ride and drive,605 similar evidence is wanting in Britain. Looped bronze plates, however, have been found in a hoard at Abergele, which are supposed to have been a jingling ornament, attached to harness; and some small bells, found at Dowris in Ireland, resemble those which occasionally form a part of modern horse-trappings.606 Oxen indeed, if not horses, must have been required for hauling timber even in neolithic times when clearings had to be made; and the wagons which conveyed tin to the coast when Pytheas visited Cornwall607 had probably been in use long before his time.

Signs of amelioration in the conditions of life.

Certain facts seem to indicate that the conditions of life in the Bronze Age were becoming more favourable to longevity, and in particular that women were better off than before. Famines indeed must still have occurred; for of course there were bad harvests from time to time, and cattle then, as now, were liable to disease, and doubtless often perished in hard winters. But the disparity in stature between men and women was far less than it had been in the Neolithic Age;608 and Thurnam estimated the average 153 age of the people of the round barrows whose skeletons he had examined at fifty-five, eight years more than that of the aboriginals.609 It has been affirmed that even the primitive Aryans often put old people to death;610 but skeletons have been exhumed in Britain which showed signs of extreme age.611


One might be inclined to suppose that this amelioration was partly due to improved housing; but such evidence as exists tends to show that the habitations of the Bronze Age, although, owing to improved tools, they may have been better built, were designed on much the same lines as those of the preceding epoch. Pit-dwellings, like those which have been already described,612 were still constructed in districts where stone was not obtainable. Very few, as we have seen, can be even approximately dated; but some which have been excavated at Hitcham in Buckinghamshire and in the fort of Eggardun on the Dorsetshire downs contained pottery which made it safe to assign them to the Bronze Age.613 It may be that some of the Scottish subterranean dwellings which are known as weems belong to the same period, for a bronze sword was found in one at Monzie in Perthshire;614 and perhaps a few of the so-called Picts’ houses and of the beehive huts in Cornwall and North Britain, which will be described hereafter, were built before iron was there used.


It is, as we have seen,615 very doubtful whether any of the lake-dwellings of Britain were older than the Bronze Age; and it cannot be positively affirmed that any were as old. One at Barton Mere in Suffolk, if it really was a lake-dwelling,616 probably belonged to that time, although the only implement found in it was a spear-head;617 but the evidence 154 for the date assigned to the well-known settlement at Holderness is considerably stronger. It has been argued that since both stone and bronze implements were found there, the site must have been occupied before the Iron Age, because, although in a time of transition the old material may persist by the side of the new, implements of two earlier periods would hardly survive into a third.618


There is, however, one class of dwellings numerous examples of which have been proved to have existed in the Bronze Age, if not before. The best-known groups of hut-circles are those of Anglesey, Dartmoor, Cornwall, and Northumberland. Sportsmen who have shot snipe in Anglesey must have noticed low mounds dotting the rough wastes which are common in the island. Buried beneath these hillocks lie the foundations of huts which were built in prehistoric times. Most of them are clustered in tiny hamlets of five or six; but at Ty Mawr on the southern slopes of the Holyhead Mountain, sheltered from the cold winds by a precipitous cliff and fortified against attack from below, was a considerable village, comprising more than fifty huts. On a clear day the villagers could discern the Wicklow Mountains; and the triple head of Snowdon, haunted, as they surely believed, by some divinity, closed their southward view. The lower walls of the huts, which alone remain, are about three feet thick, and enclose spaces of from fifteen to twenty feet in diameter, partitioned in one instance by upright stones. The entrance, defined by two pillars, invariably faces the south-west. Stones, blackened by fire and doubtless used for cooking, were found within, and also mullers for grinding corn, and the broken shells of the limpets and periwinkles on which the occupants partly lived. Some of the huts, however, appear to have been simply workshops. They were littered with broken quartz from a neighbouring copper lode: the fire-places, 155 of which each contained two, one having a chimney in the thickness of the wall, were strewn with slag; and mortars and mullers abounded, which had been used not for grinding corn but for breaking stone.619 Possibly the huts may have been roofed with converging stones, laid one above another in the beehive fashion; but some in Northumberland and Devonshire contain central cavities, like those of neolithic pit-dwellings, in which poles for supporting a roof of boughs thatched with turf were apparently fixed.620 Hut-circles everywhere present the same general features; but of course there are numerous varieties of size and construction. Nearly all the huts were round; but a few in East Cornwall are oval;621 and while most of the hamlets were enclosed by walls, some apparently did not need protection,622 or were situated near a fort in which the villagers could take refuge. Grimspound on Dartmoor, the typical example of a fortified village, was apparently the stronghold of the people whose huts were scattered on the slopes hard by; and the dwellings which it enclosed may have been occupied in time of peace only by caretakers.623 Some hamlets were encircled by non-defensive walls, which appear to be the remains of cattle-pens; while in others each pen was connected with its own hut, the walls forming a complex whole.624 Many huts contain cooking-holes, lined with stones, in some of which traces of charcoal are found:625 others had cooking-stones but no holes:626 occasionally the kitchen was in the open air outside the dwelling;627 and in a circle on Whit-Tor, where no provision for cooking was discernible, there seemed to be evidence that the hut had been simply the workshop of 156 a flint implement maker.628 Many of the dwellings on Dartmoor apparently consisted of only one room; while others, like the single specimen on Ty Mawr, contained partitions.629 Some huts were paved, while others had no visible means of excluding damp.630 The large size of many of the Dartmoor circles has led antiquaries to believe that they could not have carried roofs sufficiently strong to withstand the snows and storms of winter, and were only occupied in the summer by herdsmen;631 but in most parts of England huts must have been inhabited throughout the winter, whose roofs were constructed of nothing more substantial than woodwork overlaid with sods or bracken. It is remarkable that not a single bronze implement, weapon, or ornament has ever been found in a hut-circle on Dartmoor, although sufficient pottery of the Bronze Age type remained to attest their age.632 Probably, like the people who dwelt on the Yorkshire Wolds, the inhabitants were poor and backward; for the extreme scarcity of spindle-whorls and the abundance of the flint scrapers used for leather-dressing that lay scattered in their abodes seem to show that they were commonly clad in skins.633

Inhabited camps.

On the borders of Wiltshire and Dorsetshire, and doubtless also in other parts of Britain, small communities erected earthworks for permanent occupation, which differed in size, situation, and mode of construction from the great hill-forts, but were nevertheless adapted to some extent for defence. A considerable number of small entrenchments, approximately square in outline, are scattered over the downs in these two counties; and three of them—Martin Down Camp, South Lodge Camp, and Handley Hill Camp—have been thoroughly excavated. The results left it doubtful whether the last-named had not been constructed 157 in Roman times;634 but the other two belonged unmistakably to the Bronze Age. Martin Down Camp covered about two acres; and South Lodge Camp only three-quarters of an acre. The ramparts, which were very low, were probably strengthened by stockades. Both camps were situated not on the summits of hills but in sheltered nooks, and were probably used as enclosures for cattle; but an abundance of broken pottery, animal bones, and burnt cooking flints proved that they had also been inhabited by man.635

But the evidence for describing the domestic life of our Bronze Age is insignificant in comparison with that which is afforded by the Swiss lake-dwellings. The most remarkable British habitation of that time, indeed almost the only one which can rival those of Switzerland in the richness of its remains, is not a hut, not even an artificial shelter of the poorest kind. In 1859 some quarrymen were removing limestone from a ravine formed by the Stanhope Burn, a tributary of the Wear, when they discovered the now The Heathery Burn Cave. far-famed Heathery Burn Cave. Antiquaries hurried to the spot; and when a layer of stalagmite had been removed relics began to be found. During thirteen years exploration went on; and finally, besides the bones of the family who had occupied the cave, those of the animals on which they had fed, and the shells of mussels, cockles, and limpets, a vast number of tools, weapons, utensils, and ornaments were collected, which belonged to the closing period of the Bronze Age. A pair of bronze tongs, unique in Britain, 158 and one-half of a mould for casting socketed celts showed that they had been independent of bronze founders; and their outfit comprised two swords, seven spear-heads, nineteen socketed axes, two chisels, three gouges, two socketed knives, a tanged knife, a razor, two implements of deer’s horn, three bone knives, a stone spindle-whorl and some flint flakes, fifteen bronze and four bone pins, a bronze cauldron, a gold bracelet, numerous penannular bronze bracelets, including one which was so small that it must have been worn by a little girl, eight large bronze bangles evidently intended to be worn on the upper arm, six bronze disks, whetstones, buttons, and other articles too numerous to mention. Indeed the only bronze objects of any importance which are not represented in the collection are daggers, hammers, sickles, and shields.636 The cauldron, which is shaped like a truncated cone with the broad end uppermost, belongs to a class of vessels which were not made before the close of the Bronze Age, and are exceedingly rare in England, but not uncommon in Scotland and Ireland. It closely resembles one which was dredged up from the bed of the Thames near Battersea, and which may be seen in the British Museum; and perhaps it may have come in the course of trade from Etruria, where the type originated.637 159 It had been used for cooking, and was associated with numerous fragments of earthenware. The domestic pottery of the Bronze Age, like the sepulchral vessels, was made by hand,638 and, unlike them, was fitted to endure rough usage; but while the collection obtained from the cave and nearly all the other examples that have been found are unornamented, the table ware of Dartmoor hardly differs from that which came from the barrows of the same district and is as elaborately decorated.639 It is also remarkable that many kinds of household utensils—bowls and jars, pans and pannikins, cooking pots, pots for boiling water or meal, pipkins, cups, and strainers—have been discovered in barrows. Some, which were entire, had apparently been deposited instead of regular sepulchral vessels; but many were in fragments, and may have been used in funeral feasts.640

The exploration of the Heathery Burn Cave not only illustrates the life of the Bronze Age; it also shows that even in districts far remote from the Continent the use of bronze was not confined to a conquering people but spread to the descendants of the older population. The skeletons in the cave were wholly different from the types which are associated with the round barrows, and closely resembled 160 those which have been recovered from the beds of rivers in England and Ireland.641

But what is most remarkable is the contrast between the wealth of these cave-dwellers and the discomfort in which they lived. Here was a family well armed, equipped with the best tools of the time, owning flocks and herds, possessing land which they cultivated, and rich enough to load their women with ornaments, yet content to live in a dark damp cavern traversed by a stream, which one night rose in flood and drowned them in their sleep. It has been suggested that they had huts in the neighbourhood, and only resorted to the cave on extraordinary occasions.642 What could have induced them to live in it even for a day is difficult to conceive; but that they inhabited it, if not permanently, at least for long periods, is proved by the abundance of pottery as well as by the heaps of refuse which represented the remains of a long succession of meals.643

Fig. 28.


The spindle-whorls of stone, bone, and baked clay which have been found in this cave, in barrows,644 hut-circles, and elsewhere, and hardly differ from those which, a few years ago, were commonly used in Scottish villages and in many parts of the Continent,645 are not the only relics that bear witness to the development of dress during the Bronze Age. The deer-horn implements which belonged to the cave-dwellers and exactly resemble others that were obtained from the sites of Swiss lake-dwellings, were probably used in weaving.646 Bone tweezers from barrows in Wiltshire and Dorsetshire and bronze tweezers from Anglesey were perhaps designed for drawing thread through holes in leather: but they may also have been used for extracting superfluous hairs;647 and the numerous razors648 that have come to light, 161 some of which have no parallel in any foreign country, show that Britons, even in the furthest north, shaved their beards many centuries before Caesar noticed the custom.649 Leathern garments, as we have seen, were largely worn:650 indeed the remains of a stitched leathern dress have been recovered from a barrow in Northumberland;651 but more interesting are pieces of the woollen and linen clothes in which the dead were sometimes buried.652 Nor was the apparel of the Bronze Age devoid of ornament, or fastened merely with thorns, like that of the Germans of a far later period Pins and buttons. whom Tacitus653 described. Pins of bone or bronze, some certainly worn with dresses, others perhaps in the hair, were not uncommon; and we have seen how large a store was possessed by a single family.654 Even the indigent people of the Yorkshire Wolds wore buttons not only of stone, bone, and wood, but of jet, some of which were beautifully ornamented with the pattern of a Maltese cross.655 During the earlier part of the Bronze Age buttons were pierced on the under side with V-shaped holes, which enabled them to be sewn on to the dress—a device which, on the Continent, was inherited from the Stone Age; and, 162 as far as can be judged from the skeletons with which they are associated, they were used only by men. At a later time the perforation was apparently superseded by a raised loop, which is found on buttons of bronze.656 In Wiltshire and Norfolk chiefs actually adorned their tunics with buttons of gold.657 Ivory buttons and ivory pins have been unearthed in Wiltshire; and amber buttons were among the ornaments not only of that rich district but of Norfolk and even of Yorkshire and Dorsetshire.658 Nor were these costly materials used only for personal adornment. A Weapons mounted with gold or amber. bronze dagger with an ivory handle has been obtained from a barrow near Bere Regis in Dorsetshire:659 an archer’s wrist-guard or bracer of bone, found at Kellythorpe in the East Riding, was decorated with bronze studs, plated with gold:660 a barrow on Hammeldon Down in Devonshire has yielded a dagger hilt of red amber inlaid with pins of gold;661 and from a barrow near Normanton in South Wiltshire Hoare obtained a dagger with a wooden handle exquisitely inlaid in a chevron pattern with thousands of golden rivets, each smaller than the smallest pin. ‘It could not,’ he wrote, ‘be surpassed (if, indeed, equalled) by the most able workman of modern times.’662 With such a weapon hanging at his side and his dress glittering with gold or amber studs, a British chieftain must have made a splendid show. But some were not content with such display. Early in the last century a cairn was opened at Mold in Flintshire, which was said by the peasants of the country-side 163 to be haunted by a ghost in golden armour. Three hundred loads of stones were carted away; and then appeared a skeleton, accompanied by three hundred amber beads that had once formed a necklace, and a golden peytrel, mounted on a copper plate, with which the owner had decorated his horse’s breast.663 This interment indeed belonged to the very latest period of the Bronze Age; but much earlier was the barrow of Upton Lovel in South Wiltshire, which contained along with personal ornaments Ornaments. of gold an amber necklace of a thousand beads that had been worn not by a woman but by a man.664

Fig. 29. ½

Fig. 30.

But although necklets and bracelets and other ornaments were commonly worn by knights and Druids in Gaul, their use in this country seems to have been generally restricted to women; and, whatever the reason may have been, the women of Britain, then as now, wore less jewellery than those of foreign countries.665 Still, many specimens, most of which belonged to late periods, are to be seen in the museums which illustrate the culture of the Bronze Age; but for the most part they were either imported or fashioned after foreign designs.666 Bronze ornaments are comparatively rare667 although, as we have seen, the family who lived in the Heathery Burn Cave possessed many, and their armlets are absolutely unique.668 In Scotland as well as in the wealthier parts of England women displayed gold torques of various patterns, some plain, others penannular, which resembled large bangles, others again funicular, of twisted ribbon-like form, or wrought with a pattern like the thread of a screw;669 while gold bracelets in equal variety 164 165 clasped their wrists; and an ivory armlet has been found in a Wiltshire barrow.670 In 1863 a ploughman, guiding his team at Mountfield in Sussex, turned up a hoard of gold ornaments weighing eleven pounds.671 A hoard buried in Elginshire contained no less than three dozen gold armlets, belonging to the latest period of the Scottish Bronze Age; and an armlet of twisted wires, made to encircle the arm in four coils, which was considered the finest specimen of the goldsmith’s art of this period ever found in Scotland, was cut up and melted down by an Edinburgh jeweller.672 The most interesting, however, of all the Scottish gold ornaments are the crescent-shaped lunettes, worn round the neck, which were of Irish origin, and of which only four English specimens are known.673 They would seem to be of early date; for two were found in association with a flat celt.674 Rings were extremely rare;675 and ear-rings have only been met with in Derbyshire, the East Riding of Yorkshire, and the north of Scotland.676 A pair which was found in a grave in Morayshire can only be described as hideous. They were made of gold, in shape like an open shell or pod, five inches and a half long, and suspended at right angles 166 167 to the hook.677 Perhaps the most beautiful and characteristic ornaments of the Bronze Age were the jet necklaces, which were very common in Scotland and comparatively rare in Southern Britain, though they were worn in Northumberland, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, and on the Yorkshire Wolds. They generally consisted of flat plates, adorned with chevron or lozenge patterns, and strung together by bugle-shaped beads.678 A similar necklace of quadrangular amber tablets, connected by beads of the same material, formed part of the treasures of a chieftain’s wife in Wiltshire, and was deposited in one of the barrows at Lake, near Stonehenge.679 Amber was indeed the most fashionable of all ornaments in this region, where it was worn sometimes alone, sometimes in combination with jet and with blue or green glass beads. In full dress, with one of these necklaces hanging over her bosom, gold bracelets on her arms, a pair of gold disks, bearing devices like a Greek cross, on her dress, and pins of bronze, which shone like gold, in her hair, a Wiltshire dame must have surpassed even her husband in splendour.680

Fig. 31. ½

Those who could not afford such costly ornaments were not always obliged to content themselves with perforated boars’ teeth or bone beads; for, incredible as it may appear, sham jewellery was in vogue even in the Bronze Age. Not many years ago three penannular rings, picked up by a ploughman near Forfar, were found to consist of bronze coated with gold leaf.681

Distribution of wealth: sources of gold, ivory, and amber.

While these things help us to realize the circumstances of the people who wore them, they also throw light upon the distribution of wealth, and supplement the information which we have already obtained from implements and weapons about internal trade and foreign commerce. Possibly some difference of burial customs may account 168 for the comparative abundance of gold ornaments in Scotland and the almost entire absence of trinkets of any kind in Cornwall; but the evidence is generally accepted which seems to point to the conclusion that the inhabitants of Wiltshire—especially of Salisbury Plain—were richer than those of any other part of Southern Britain. The most expensive ornaments—amber, gold, ivory, and glass—have been found there in considerable numbers; and all of them must have been imported, directly or indirectly, in some cases from abroad. The glass beads, which, strictly speaking, were made of vitreous paste, perhaps came from the Mediterranean; and a blue one of real glass with yellow spirals, taken from a Ross-shire barrow, had its counterparts in the cemetery of Hallstatt.682 Where the ivory was procured is doubtful: objects of this material, apparently made from the fossilized tusks of a mammoth, lay among the relics in the Paviland Cave in Glamorganshire;683 but most of the mammoth tusks in this country are too decomposed to be susceptible of manufacture.684 Gold has been obtained from most of the alluvial gravels in the West of England that have been worked for tin;685 but many of the English and perhaps all the Scottish gold ornaments were made of gold that had been won in Ireland, which has been justly called the El Dorado of the ancient world. Many gold ornaments in Denmark are of Irish origin; and the leading archaeologist of Scandinavia affirms that the metal-workers of his own country and of France imported Irish gold.686 Amber has been washed ashore at Deal and on other parts of the 169 east coast; and the necklaces of Wiltshire may perhaps have been generally of British material as well as of British workmanship:687 but those of Ireland were probably made from amber that had come from Scandinavia,688 and may have been taken in exchange for gold. In the time of Augustus amber was one of the British imports;689 and, although at least one necklace found its way even to Orkney,690 its rarity in Scotland and in the northern counties of England suggests that it was imported even in the Bronze Age.691 Indeed, since amber was so much commoner in Wiltshire than elsewhere, it would seem probable that it came generally from abroad.692

Why was Wiltshire exceptionally rich in ornaments?

But why was it so abundant in Wiltshire? Why are gold, amber, and ivory rare even in the other southern counties, and wholly absent in Derbyshire, where round barrows are so numerous?693 Why was the wealth of Wiltshire, so far as it can be estimated from the evidence of the graves, almost entirely concentrated in the south, and especially in the district round Stonehenge?694 The modern population of South Wiltshire is very scanty: Salisbury Plain is barren; and the only soil at all fertile is in the valleys of the Wiley and the Avon.695 One would 170 have expected to find that the wealthiest part of Britain was the south-east; and that in the prehistoric period, as in the time of Caesar, the richest of all was Kent. Yet Kent has yielded very few glass beads or gold ornaments of the Bronze Age, and not one of amber or ivory. Doubtless there were once many barrows in the south-eastern counties which have been rifled or ploughed down; but jewellery was not deposited only in barrows; and so many bronze tools and weapons have been found in this region that the scarcity of barrows will not account for the rarity of ornaments. No explanation, so far as I know, has ever been offered; and I offer one with diffidence. First, it is not certain, and indeed improbable, that more than a small proportion of the riches that have been unearthed from the sepulchres of South Wiltshire belonged to families who had lived in the neighbourhood. The prodigious abundance of barrows around Stonehenge can only be explained by supposing that the bodies of chieftains, of their wives and children, were brought from distant parts to be buried there, as to a hallowed spot. Secondly, it is conceivable that the clans which, early in the Bronze Age, settled in South Wiltshire were numerically stronger, better organized, or better armed than their neighbours, and that much of their wealth may have been obtained by plunder.

British trade and the spiral.

Another indication of ancient British trade appears in the geographical distribution of the spiral. This form of decoration, which was common in Egyptian and Aegean art, travelled along the route of the amber trade by the Danube valley and Hungary to Scandinavia, and ultimately reached the British Isles, where, however, it occurs only on stone balls,696 the stones of cists, and megalithic monuments, of which the most conspicuous example is New Grange in 171 the county Meath. The spiral is not found on objects of the Bronze Age in Spain, nor in France except on the dolmen of Gavr’ Inis in Brittany and in a grave in the department of the Aube: in the British Isles it is confined to Scotland, Cumberland, Lancashire, and Northumberland, the north of Ireland,697 and Merionethshire (which may have owed its solitary specimen to Irish influence); and, moreover, in the British Isles and Scandinavia spirals are connected by the same device.698 Scandinavia therefore was undoubtedly the source from which the spiral reached Britain.699

Comparative backwardness of culture in Britain.

Yet while the reader who has been accustomed to suppose 172 that the Britons even of Caesar’s time were mere savages may be astonished to learn that already in the Bronze Age there was commercial intercourse between Britain and the Continent, he must beware of assuming that his forefathers were on a level with the inhabitants of Central and Southern Europe. Our country has long been the geographical centre of the civilized world: in ancient times it was outside the pale. Regular trade did not exist except with Northern Gaul and, probably towards the end of the age, with Massilia and Phoenician Spain:700 such articles of commerce as found their way to Britain from Central Europe were flotsam and jetsam. Long after swords had come into use abroad the Briton’s chief weapon was still a stout dagger: bronze was used here for centuries after iron had been adopted in more fortunate lands; and the glass beads of which the women of Wiltshire were so proud would have been scorned by foreign ladies who compared them with their own.701 Moreover, even in bronze our workmanship never reached the pitch of excellence which the artificers of the north, in their prolonged Bronze Age, were able to attain. Just as the neolithic cutlers of Britain were inferior to those of Denmark, so there is nothing in our museums which can vie with the astonishing splendour of the decorated palstaves and shields, the trumpets and vessels of the Scandinavian region.

The information obtainable from graves.

But we shall be better able to understand the relations that existed between our country and the Continent in the Bronze Age when we have studied the graves, the objects other than weapons, implements, and ornaments that have been found within them, and the rude stone monuments with which they were often associated. 173

Round barrows, cairns, and sepulchral circles.

We have seen that round barrows were already being erected before the Bronze Age began, and that they were used not only by the round-headed invaders but also by the older population.702 After the close of the Neolithic Age no more long barrows were constructed,703 although some of those which existed were still used even under the Roman occupation;704 nor were the dead buried, except perhaps in certain Cornish cairns,705 in chambers which were intended to be opened from time to time. Thenceforward the graves were cists, commonly made of four stones set on edge, which were closed by a fifth once for all after the corpse or burnt bones had been laid within them;706 or, where no stones could be obtained, holes scooped in the chalk,707 and sometimes even hollowed trunks of trees or real coffins.708 Occasionally, however, the body, burnt or unburnt, was laid upon the ground without anything to protect it from the superincumbent mass.709 When a tumulus was erected, whether it was an earthen barrow or a cairn, its form was usually round and occasionally oval. The change involved degeneration.710 Galleries were no longer required. The chambered cairns of the north gave way to structureless heaps of stone: the chambered long barrows of England 174 with their portals, entrance-passages, and graceful exterior curves were succeeded by mere mounds.711

What would first impress an ordinary wayfarer is the vast number of the round barrows compared with the rarity of those of the older form. The mounds clustered in the immediate neighbourhood of Stonehenge many times outnumber all the long barrows in Britain. Three hundred still exist in an area of twelve square miles; and from one spot hard by the great stones Stukeley counted a hundred and twenty-eight.712 Again, while the long barrows almost always stand on conspicuous hills, round barrows are sometimes placed on low ground.713 In certain maritime districts, for instance Cornwall and Brittany, it has been noticed that the monuments of the dead are most thickly strewn in the extreme west, as if the builders had desired that the spirits of those who had gone before them might look upon the setting sun.714

The material, it need hardly be said, varied according to the resources of the district. In Scotland, Wales, and Cornwall cairns are almost universal, some being of gigantic size. In 1876 a cairn in Fifeshire was opened; and after more than a thousand cartloads of stones had been removed, a solitary cist appeared, containing one interment.715 Sometimes, however, mounds of various kinds coexist in the same region: thus in Devonshire we find round barrows, cairns, and small central cairns covered by round barrows.716 In other counties again barrows made of earth, of chalk, and of earth and chalk mixed may be seen close together.717 Curiously enough many barrows on the Yorkshire Wolds 175 were constructed of clay which had been fetched from distant places.718

Round barrows range in diameter from twenty to one hundred and fifty feet; and while some are even now twenty-four feet high, others barely rise above the level of the surrounding ground.719 Those of the oldest form, which, however, continued to be erected contemporaneously with others of later types, have some resemblance to a shallow inverted bowl. More than three-fourths of the Wiltshire barrows belong to this variety, which is also prevalent in Yorkshire and almost invariable in Derbyshire, Dorsetshire, Somersetshire and the Orkney Islands.720 These mounds are occasionally surrounded by shallow ditches, in which cases they represent a transition to the form which is called bell-shaped.721 Barrows of the latter kind, which stand on a flat area surrounded by a ditch, but not by a bank, and are larger, steeper, and more conical than those of the primitive form, are far more numerous in Wiltshire, and especially round Stonehenge, than elsewhere; although a few exist in other parts of Southern England, and some of the so-called bowl barrows in the East Riding can hardly be distinguished from them.722 Latest of all were the disk-shaped barrows,—small mounds standing alone, in pairs, or in groups of three, within a circle defined by a ditch, which is fenced on its outer side by a bank. Occasionally the enclosure contains no mound at all, but only a grave dug out of the chalk; on the other hand, in one instance the whole area within the ditch is covered by a low mound. Disk barrows are commonest near Stonehenge, and outside 176 Wiltshire they are hardly to be found except in the adjoining corner of Dorsetshire, on the Cotswold Hills, in Sussex, and, though rarely, in Derbyshire. As they contained ornaments more frequently than the other kinds, it has been supposed that they were specially devoted to the interment of women;723 but we may accept the explanation that, like the barrows, the ornaments for the most part were comparatively late.

The significance of the ditches and banks has puzzled many antiquaries. There are barrows close to one another, some of which are surrounded by ditches, while others have none; while in districts in which stone is abundant there are barrows enclosed by or enclosing small circles of stones, and others which have neither one nor the other.724 Perhaps the barrows enclosed by circles are comparatively late, and the stones may sometimes have been intended, wholly or 177 in part, to give form and symmetry to the mound; for in Derbyshire, where the barrows of the Bronze Age are really cairns, a structural improvement was made by building up the whole mound of concentric rings of stones.725 Again in Wiltshire ditches and banks are invariably complete;726 whereas on the Yorkshire Wolds banks and ditches or circles of stones are generally incomplete; and this characteristic, which belonged, as we have seen, to certain long barrows,727 is repeated not only in megalithic circles in the British Isles and in India, but also in rings which are carved on rocks and on the covering stones of cists.728 It has been suggested that the banks and stone circles were intended to bar the exit of the dreaded spirits of the dead;729 but if this was the purpose of the builders, why did they leave the barrier imperfect? It is possible that their motive was not superstitious but utilitarian: the break may simply have been a causeway intended to give access to the barrow.730

Round barrows and cairns, like long barrows, are commonly supposed to have been erected only as memorials of chiefs, their relatives, and perhaps their honoured retainers;731 for, 178 it is said, no humble family would have had the needful command of labour: but considering that in Wiltshire, where there are more long barrows than in all the rest of Britain, round barrows are thirty-four times as numerous,732 it is difficult to accept this opinion. Many of the round barrows are small; and it is surely probable that the poorer clansmen sometimes voluntarily gave their services to provide respected members of their own class with a distinctive monument. Barrows and cairns, however, are not the only sepulchres in which interments of the Bronze Age have been discovered. A cave at Gop, near Rhyl, which had been used as a dwelling, contained a sepulchral vault;733 and Rains Cave in the same county was used alternately as a dwelling and a cemetery.734 Many graves also exist over which no mound was erected.735 Thus on Handley Down in Dorsetshire no less than fifty-two interments of cremated bones were found in holes dug out of the chalk on the western side of a barrow. They were evidently later than the funeral in the barrow itself, and were doubtless the remains of the descendants or connexions of the chief who had been buried there.736 In Scotland numerous cemeteries, most of which were on knolls or sandhills, were unmarked by any external sign;737 and at Elton, near Beverley, in the East Riding, more than seventy bodies were interred without a barrow.738 It has been supposed that such graves belonged to the poor and lowly; and doubtless where they occur in large numbers and are almost or entirely devoid of accompanying relics the assumption is justified.739 In certain cases also, where one or two large barrows are associated with groups of tiny mounds, the latter were devoted to the 179 humbler members of the tribe. Two of the Scottish cemeteries, however, contained gold armlets, others beautifully ornamented bronze blades;740 and three of the only four graves in which Pitt-Rivers found the sepulchral vessels which are known as drinking-cups lacked any memorial.741 These may have been the graves of men of rank; and so may the simple stone cists, in which relics have been found that would seem to have belonged to persons of some wealth;742 for while every cist that has been observed in Devonshire either is or was once covered by a mound,743 there are many in Northumberland, as in Scotland, which were left without any monument.744

Perhaps the most curious of all the burial grounds of the Bronze Age is one which has been lately explored at Bleasdale in Lancashire, and which may be compared with the wooden chamber in the neolithic Wor Barrow on Cranborne Chase.745 Here, on a moorland knoll surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills, is a circle made not of stones but of wooden logs closely planted in a trench, and containing a smaller circle, which consists of a bank with a ditch on its inner side. Within this ditch is a low mound, concealing another circle of logs, in the centre of which were found two sepulchral urns. The ditch is floored with poles, which may perhaps have been trodden by worshippers who walked in 180 ceremonial procession around the grave; for the bottom of a ditch surrounding a barrow near Blandford, which was opened towards the end of the last century, was worn into a smooth track by human feet.746

Hardly less remarkable is a circle near Port Erin in the Isle of Man, formed of eighteen cists, in six separate sets, each composed of three arranged in the shape of the letter T, two being placed end to end along the circumference, while the third extended outwards at right angles.747

In Britain, as in other countries, cenotaphs were erected in honour of the dead whose remains could not be found. Barrows have been opened within which, after the most careful scrutiny, not the faintest indication could be detected of any burial, although in one there was an empty urn and in another a small stone pavement, enclosed by a miniature stone circle and resting upon burnt earth, which suggested that an ideal cremation had been performed.748 It seems possible that Silbury Hill was a monument of this sort. This stupendous earthwork, which commands the Bath road, six miles west of Marlborough, is one hundred and thirty-five feet high and covers about five acres. The cost of its erection at the present day would be not less than twenty thousand pounds.749 In 1777 a shaft was sunk from the top to the bottom; and in 1849 a tunnel was driven from the side to the centre. No trace of burial was found:750 181 but even primary interments were not always made at the centre of a barrow; and the labour of proving, if it could be proved, that Silbury Hill was not erected over a grave would be out of all proportion with the result. At all events its purpose was connected with sepulchral usage. Recent excavations in the meadow west and north of the hill are believed to have shown that it was originally surrounded by a trench, which was filled with water; and a local antiquary has suggested that the mound was an artificial stronghold!751 But what clan would have undertaken this herculean labour in a district where every hill was suitable for defence, and of what use would the mound have been for such a purpose?

Chronology of the barrows.

The chronology of the barrows is somewhat perplexing. There is hardly a single absolutely certain instance in which a socketed celt, a sword, or a socketed spear-head has been found in a barrow, associated with an interment;752 and most antiquaries infer that the round barrows generally belong to the earliest period of the Bronze Age.753 It would follow that during not less than four or five centuries the 182 practice of raising mounds over graves was discontinued, and one could only wonder how it came to be revived at the beginning of the Iron Age. It has indeed been argued that the absence of swords is no proof that they were not used when barrows were being erected, but merely shows that it was not customary to bury costly weapons which were not habitually worn.754 It seems difficult, however, to explain why a distinction should have been drawn between swords and socketed celts, on the one hand, and knives, daggers, and awls, which were often buried, on the other.755 Some may accept the suggestion that in the later period of the Bronze Age, when cremation had presumably become general, the practice of burying weapons or ornaments had ceased;756 but in the Early Iron Age it was not uncommon.757 It would seem, moreover, that in one or two instances socketed weapons were laid with the dead;758 and Dr. Arthur 183 Evans, pointing out that an amber necklace, found in one of the barrows near Stonehenge, is identical in form and arrangement with the amber necklaces of Hallstatt, boldly affirms that the disk-shaped barrows of Wiltshire belong to the end of the Bronze Age.759 Be this, however, as it may, it is morally certain that some of the glass beads which abounded in the graves of South Wiltshire were contemporary with socketed weapons; and a competent antiquary, who has diligently examined their associations, concludes that they belonged to the eighth and seventh centuries before the Christian era.760 Moreover, an earthenware vessel of the kind which are called incense-cups, found in a barrow at Bulford, near Amesbury, was ornamented with concentric circles;761 and, as we have seen,762 this form of decoration, which is common on the covering stones of cists in Scotland and in the north of England,763 is also characteristic of socketed celts and unknown on implements of earlier date. The number of celts which have been found in barrows is so small that it would be premature to lay stress upon the fact that only one belonged to the socketed type;764 and there 184 may have been some reason, of which we are ignorant, for the absence of spear-heads and swords. In Gaul, at all events, relics belonging to every phase of the bronze culture have been exhumed from burial mounds.765

Cremation and inhumation.

In the Bronze Age, as in the period of the long barrows, both cremation and inhumation were practised in Britain. In Cleveland and on the coast between Scarborough and Whitby cremation was almost invariable:766 in Northumberland nearly twice as common as inhumation.767 In Derbyshire,768 on the other hand, inhumation interments are slightly commoner than those by cremation; and on the Yorkshire Wolds more than three times as numerous.769 In Wiltshire and Dorsetshire inhumation is as rare as cremation on the Wolds; and in Gloucestershire, Devonshire, Cornwall, Merioneth, Carnarvon, and Denbigh cremation is practically universal.770 In Devonshire interments by inhumation have been found, but never in barrows.771 In Scotland the numbers are about equal.772

Archaeologists generally hold that cremation was not practised in the Bronze Age until a comparatively late date,—probably not before 1000 B.C.; and this view seems at 185 first sight to be supported by the facts that it was unknown in Scandinavia in the earlier period;773 that cinerary urns were not the earliest of the sepulchral vessels; and that drinking-cups, which were in use before any of the others, although they continued to be used after cinerary urns had been introduced,774 are generally found with unburnt skeletons, and have never been found with the cremation interments in Cleveland.775 On the other hand, in Brittany in the centuries which immediately followed the introduction of metallurgy cremation was almost invariable;776 burnt bones, as we shall presently see, were often buried without urns; and since cremation was not uncommon in the Neolithic Age, the custom probably persisted into the Bronze Age independently of its introduction by immigrants who possessed weapons of bronze. Indeed, unless cremation existed from the very beginning of the Round Barrow period, it seems impossible to account for the fact that in the sepulchres of certain districts not a single instance of inhumation has ever been observed. Before the inhabitants of Bute emerged from their Stone Age they practised both cremation and inhumation; and there is no evidence that the latter was earlier than the former.777 Not infrequently both in Scotland and 186 in many parts of England skeletons and burnt bones reposed under the same cairn, in the same barrow, within the same stone circle, even in the same cist; and in some cases they were buried at the same time.778 A cairn has been opened at Greenhill in Fifeshire, in which four different modes of sepulture had been practised: cremated remains had been laid in the earth, and beneath a stone slab; an unburnt body had been buried in a cist, and another lowered into a pit.779 In some barrows one unburnt body has been found accompanied by several deposits of burnt bones; and it has been inferred that, even after cremation had become general, the bodies of chieftains were very rarely burned, although those of their wives and retainers were.780 It is possible that this distinction may sometimes and in some places have been maintained; but obviously it was very unusual. For otherwise we should be compelled to suppose that in Cleveland and in those western districts in which cremation was universal no chiefs were buried in barrows at all, although it is universally admitted that it was in their honour that barrows were erected. And if the presence of an unburnt body surrounded by urns is a sign that wife and dependents were sacrificed in honour of the dead chief, what conclusion is to be based upon the association of nine skeletons with a single cremated interment?781 On the 187 Yorkshire Wolds the question as to which method should be adopted had nothing to do either with rank or sex or age;782 and one may reasonably suppose that it was often settled simply by individual preference. Moreover, the expense of cremation was far greater than that of inhumation;783 and it is not improbable that long after the former had become prevalent among the wealthy the poor were generally obliged to content themselves with the latter.

Inhumation was accompanied by many varieties of usage. Most of the Wiltshire barrows contained only one interment, though in a few—evidently family tombs—there were two or even more.784 Those of the Yorkshire Wolds, on the other hand, generally contained several, two or three having sometimes been laid in one grave; and where one only was found the barrow was of the conical kind which is common in Wiltshire.785 In the Scottish cists also, single burial is the rule, though occasionally husband and wife were interred together, and sometimes a father with his child.786 The same variety has been noticed in connexion with cremation: a group of eight barrows in Lincolnshire contained one urn each, while inside a barrow in Dorsetshire was found a cairn which covered nearly fifty interments.787 When a mound was erected, the primary interment was generally made in the centre.788 The body was almost always laid in the crouched position. In Wiltshire this custom was absolutely, and on the Yorkshire Wolds almost, universal: the same posture indeed was commonly adopted 188 there even when the body was cremated.789 In Dorsetshire, on the other hand, the extended position appears to have been occasionally met with.790 When secondary interments have been found, they were generally on the surface of the barrow or just outside it, and were covered with fresh material.791 There is a barrow on Lord’s Down in Dorsetshire, formed of alternate layers of mould and chalk, which represent no less than five successive interments, each of which was covered by a new tumulus.792 Almost invariably on the Wolds secondary interments were made on the southern or eastern side of the mound, doubtless in order that the dead might face the sun; and this fancy underlies the prejudice, which still exists, against burying on the northern side of a churchyard.793 Probably the same purpose is discernible in the orientation of the skeletons. Generally in Wiltshire they were laid with their heads towards the north so that they looked southwards;794 and although in Yorkshire and elsewhere the head has been found directed to almost every 189 point of the compass, yet, as a general rule, it was so laid as to face the sun: thus when it pointed westward or to the north or south of west, the body was commonly laid upon its right side; when to the east or the adjacent points, upon the left.795

It is probable that bodies were generally interred either in the clothes which had been worn in life or in a winding-sheet; for at Kelleythorpe in the East Riding a linen cloth was underlying a skeleton: bones have been found in divers parts of Britain with fragments of woollen or leathern fabrics clinging to them; and buttons in their natural positions on the breast-bone.796 In one instance Hoare found a skeleton in a disk-barrow near Amesbury, lying on the ground, without cist, grave, or coffin, beneath a heap of stones, and quaintly suggested that the dead man had suffered the doom of Achan.797 Occasionally, however, corpses were not buried entire; but, as in the Stone Age, the bones were disjointed and interred separately.798

When the dead were cremated the customs which governed the disposal of primary and secondary interments remained the same: indeed in the Lord’s Down barrow the latter comprised both skeletons and burnt bones. The mound was sometimes raised over the funeral pile; but more commonly the ashes were brought to the place of interment.799 190 Although they were often enclosed in urns, this custom was by no means universal. In the disk-shaped barrows of Wiltshire, in which cremation was almost invariable, urns were very rare: the remains had generally been wrapped in a skin or a linen cloth.800 In Dorsetshire, on the other hand, except in the north-eastern corner, the customs of which closely resembled those of Wiltshire, urns were used three times out of four;801 while some barrows have been opened which contained both urns enclosing burnt bones and burnt bones without any urn.802 Occasionally an urn has been found which, instead of containing the bones, was surrounded by them.803 Sometimes the urn was placed upright; but much oftener, at least in Wiltshire, it was inverted;804 and occasionally one urn was inverted as a cover over another.805 In more than one instance a custom described by Homer had found its way to Britain: the urn which contained the ashes of Patroclus was wrapped in a cloth;806 and in a barrow in Cambridgeshire, as well as in six of those which Hoare opened, the same ritual was observed.807 In several Scottish graves tiny urns, containing the remains of infants, were placed inside vessels of ordinary size;808 and it is remarkable that in a few instances empty cinerary urns have been found in association with unburnt bodies.809 Why urns were sometimes 191 broken into fragments before they were placed in the grave it would be vain to guess.810

Sepulchral pottery.

The urns and drinking-cups which have been so often mentioned were not the only kinds of sepulchral pottery. Besides them were bowls which have been called food-vessels and incense-cups. The custom of placing vessels in graves was not, however, universal: both in Wiltshire and in Yorkshire the majority of interments were without them.811 All four kinds are worth studying, not only as illustrative of funeral customs, but also because they throw light upon the origin of the round-headed invaders and upon the intercourse which subsisted in the Bronze Age between Britain and other lands.812

Like the domestic pottery of the same period and of the modern inhabitants of the Hebrides, they were generally made by women: the markings, produced by the impression of finger-tips and finger-nails, with which they were often ornamented, were the work of small hands.813 The potter’s wheel, which, more than two thousand years before the Christian era, was used in Hissarlik, the town on whose site Troy was afterwards built, was as yet hardly known in Britain,814 and the British pottery of the Bronze Age was baked at open fires.815

Fig. 32. ½

Although they all comprise numerous varieties, the four groups are so distinct that an observant eye, after an hour spent in a well-stored museum, or even after studying the illustrations alone, would be able, in almost every instance, to assign this or that specimen to its proper class. Drinking-cups are generally about seven or eight inches high, and fall under three principal types. That which is apparently the earliest and, in Southern Britain, by far the commonest, is 192 globular in its lower part, and rises from the waist into a high brim with straight sides. In cups of the second class an oval body passes into a brim which curves outward. The third kind, almost all the examples of which belong to Northumberland and Scotland, and which, from its accompaniments, would seem to have been the latest, is also somewhat oval in the lower part, and has a very low and more or less straight brim. A few high-brimmed cups have handles, and are not unlike modern tankards. Drinking-cups in general are the handsomest and the most skilfully baked of all the British sepulchral vessels; but in course of time their forms gradually deteriorated, for each generation had inferior models to copy.816 193

Fig. 33. ½

Food-vessels, which range between three and eight inches in height, are very diversified in form, and, unlike drinking-cups, vary greatly in quality. They commonly resemble a large cup or bowl with a narrow bottom, and sometimes they are slightly contracted towards the mouth. Many of them have knobs round the neck, which are sometimes perforated, so that they might have been suspended by a cord; and those which have no perforations are doubtless mere survivals.817

Fig. 34. ½

Cinerary urns, which were certainly introduced later than food-vessels or drinking-cups, are as a rule much larger, although one or two have been found which were as small as the smallest incense-cup. Many of them are more than two feet high. The 194 commonest form resembles a double truncated cone with the base in the centre, the upper being much the smaller of the two; but some urns are cylindrical, barrel-shaped, or even like flower-pots; while a few, which are peculiar to central Dorsetshire, are nearly globular, and, except for the scantiness of their ornament, not unlike certain drinking-cups.818

Fig. 35. ½

Incense-cups are the smallest, perhaps the latest of all sepulchral vessels, and the most various in form. Some contract from the centre towards the top and the bottom; others expand, others again contract from the bottom to the top. A few resemble saucers in shape; and many are perforated with oval, lozenge-shaped, or vertical holes, one example having as many as twenty-seven.819

Drinking-cups have been found on the Continent not only in Germany, Gelderland, and Denmark, from which countries, it should seem, they were introduced into Britain, but also in Spain, Portugal, Brittany, and the Channel Islands.820 On the Continent they all belong to the Neolithic 195 Age; and this fact alone is sufficient to show that the people who brought them into Britain had no bronze implements.821 Moreover, although they continued in use in this country during a considerable part of the Bronze Age, they have rarely been found with bronze.822 Only two specimens have been obtained in Ireland,823 an additional indication of the erroneousness of the theory which identifies the earliest round-headed invaders who introduced drinking-cups into Britain with the Goidelic Celts. Like food-vessels, drinking-cups were receptacles for solid food or perhaps some kind of porridge; for remains which have been proved by analysis to be animal or vegetable have been found in both.824 196

Food-vessels are unknown outside the British Isles, and are frequent in Ireland,825 while hardly a single specimen has been found in any of the numerous barrows of Wiltshire or Dorsetshire.826 Like drinking-cups, they accompany skeletons far more frequently than burnt bones;827 and they were obviously invented after drinking-cups had been some time in use, though, as it would seem, while incense-cups were still unknown.828

Incense-cups, like food-vessels, are common in Ireland as well as in Britain: a few have been found in the Channel Islands; but on the Continent they do not exist. They, too, are rare in Dorsetshire and the western counties,829 although cremation was even more prevalent there than in Wiltshire, where they are numerous, and although they have hardly ever been found except with cremated remains.830 It is remarkable that they were often deposited inside the urn and among the burnt bones.831 The purpose for which they were designed has been a subject of much controversy. It is difficult to believe that they were really censers, for incense was probably not obtainable in Britain, though amber, which has occasionally been used as incense, may possibly have been burned in them. The numerous holes with which so many of them are pierced, and which would have stimulated combustion, might suggest that they were intended to carry the sacred fire from which the funeral pile was to be lighted; but as many specimens contain no holes it is impossible to acquiesce in this explanation.832 197

All these vessels were ornamented with the geometrical decoration characteristic of the Bronze Age, which consists for the most part of combinations of straight lines, arranged in almost infinite variety—chevrons, zigzags, lozenges, and the herring-bone pattern—as well as dots and what have been called oblong punch marks, and, in a few cases, crosses, curves, and even circles. The patterns were impressed upon the clay while it was still wet by a pointed implement of bone or wood, by cords, and occasionally, as we have seen, by finger-nails or finger-tips. Some of them may have been imitated from basket-work or from the plaited straw or grass with which the fragile vessels were protected; for Pitt-Rivers found on his estate a fragment of fine basket-work over which clay had been plastered on both sides. As a general rule drinking-cups and food-vessels are far more profusely ornamented than the other kinds, both being in many cases covered with decoration.833 Except perhaps in the case of drinking-cups, it is doubtful whether any useful conclusion can be drawn from the patterns; for, although the oblong punch marks are apparently peculiar to the British Isles,834 chevrons of divers kinds have been found in nearly every country of Europe, as well as Africa, Madagascar, Siberia, Ceylon, the Philippine Islands, and North Australia.835 198 Indeed one form of chevron ornament—the so-called diaper pattern—appears not only on French neolithic pottery and on urns from a chambered cairn in Orkney, but also on a palaeolithic implement from Brassempouy;836 and the rude hand-made bowls out of which the modern Hebrideans eat their porridge are still ornamented, as they were three thousand years ago, with straight lines made with a pointed stick or with impressions of a thumb-nail.837 On the other hand, as chevron patterns characterized the Bronze Age throughout Europe, although they occurred both earlier and later, further research may ultimately show that they had a common origin.838 The supposition that concentric 199 circles—a form of ornament which, as we have seen, is also characteristic of the shields of the Bronze Age—were generally symbolical of sun-worship,839 is hardly likely to be proved. Probably in some cases they had this or some other religious meaning: but in others they may have been purely decorative; and they are to be seen on the churingas or sacred stones of the Aruntas of Central Australia,840 who, it need hardly be said, do not worship the sun. More interesting are the few vessels which bear incised designs inlaid with white earth, and resemble, though in a ruder style, pottery from the lake-dwellings of Switzerland and Austria and from Hissarlik.841 It is conceivable that this kind of decoration may have arisen independently in the different lands in which it has been observed: but the most sceptical would hardly deny the evidence of indirect connexion with the Aegean which has been furnished by the famous chalk The ‘drums’ of Folkton Wold and their significance. ‘drums’ of Folkton Wold. Associated with the body of a child in a trench which partially surrounded the barrow were three solid drum-shaped cylinders of chalk, decorated 200 not only with familiar geometrical designs, but also with concentric circles, which in one case seemed to be degenerate spirals, figures called ‘double horse-shoes’, which occur at New Grange and at Gavr’ Inis in Brittany, and quaint representations of the eyes and eyebrows of the human face, closely resembling the so-called owl-heads which Schliemann found on vases at Hissarlik. Similar faces are sculptured on standing stones and the walls of sepulchral grottoes in the departments of the Marne, the Gard, and the Tarn, and incised on Spanish pottery of the early Bronze Age; and probably it was by way of Spain that this Mediterranean influence found its way to a remote Yorkshire moor.842

Fig. 36.

Sepulchral evidence as to religion.

We have already examined the evidence which the articles deposited in graves afford as to the wealth and social condition of the people who were buried there. They also suggest problems connected with their religious faith. The custom of depositing implements, weapons, or ornaments with the dead was the exception rather than the rule. Less than one-fourth of the interments in the Yorkshire Wolds were associated with any article whatever; and even in South Wiltshire barely two-thirds. In Derbyshire and Scotland relics were comparatively frequent, but by no means universal; in Cornwall almost entirely absent.843 201 When we find that daggers were often placed in the hands of corpses844 and that nearly all the flint tools on the Wolds were brand-new,845 we may be disposed to reject the theory that the motive of those who deposited them was simple affection or superstitious dread of using what had belonged to the living; but when, on the other hand, we remember that so many of the dead were left destitute, we ask ourselves whether the articles that were placed in graves were really intended to be used in a future state.846 But it is a mistake to expect either uniformity of custom or rigid consistency. Different tribes and different individuals may well have had different beliefs; and it is not likely that belief was always translated into action. Articles that belonged to the living have sometimes been buried from mere motives of affection or from a wish to get rid of that which was associated with the idea of death; sometimes from a vague desire to please or to avoid the displeasure of the dead.847 Often, however, as we learn not only from historians, such as Caesar848 and Tacitus,849 but also from the evidence that has been collected respecting the customs of savage tribes, objects have been deposited with the dead in the full expectation 202 that their souls would be of use to the souls of their owners in another life;850 and when not inanimate objects only but wives, slaves, and animals have been sacrificed, it may be safely assumed that this was the motive. Nor is the belief absolutely extinct even in civilized lands. Less than half a century ago the widow of an Ulster farmer killed his horse, and, in reply to a remonstrance, asked, ‘Would you have my man go about on foot in the next world?’851 All these motives may have worked in the Bronze Age. We have seen that offerings of food were placed in food-vessels and drinking-cups; and they may sometimes have been laid beside the dead even when no vessels contained them. The bones of domestic animals, deer, and wild boars which have been found in scores of barrows, and most of which had been pounded for the extraction of the marrow, were doubtless in many cases the remains of the food upon which the survivors had feasted, but perhaps also of food offered to the dead.852 It is possible too that the burnt bones which are sometimes mixed with cremated human bones may be the remains of animals sacrificed at the funeral, and may represent the custom, described by Homer853 and Caesar,854 of slaying animals of which the dead had been fond and burning them on the funeral pile;855 203 and when we are told that the skulls of oxen were carefully interred in several barrows and that a horse was buried near the summit of a barrow in Wiltshire above a cremated interment,856 we are tempted to accept a similar explanation. We can understand why implements and weapons were often placed inside urns along with the burnt bones;857 but it would be vain to ask why a cow’s tooth was frequently placed in juxtaposition with a corpse;858 and who would venture to account for the presence of the burnt bones of a fox inside an urn in a barrow on Ridgeway Hill in Dorsetshire, of the skeleton of a mole and the bones of mice in an urn in Glamorganshire, or of the skeleton of a hog in a cist in a Staffordshire barrow?859 We can only suppose that these mysterious deposits had some religious meaning.

But whether animals were sacrificed or not, there can hardly be a doubt of the prevalence of human sacrifice. It has been pointed out that several bodies were frequently interred in one barrow at the same time; that in some cases a man and a woman were laid in one grave or in adjoining graves of the same date; and that in a barrow overlooking the valley of the Derwent a woman was buried with a man whose head her hands clasped, while his legs were above hers and his right hand upon her hip; and of these facts one finds it difficult to suggest any explanation save that of sacrifice or of suicide.860 The innumerable potsherds which 204 lay scattered in many barrows when they were first opened, and the minute flint chips with which cinerary urns were sometimes crammed861 remind one of the words in Hamlet:—

For charitable prayers Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on her,

though we should be mistaken if we supposed that in the Bronze Age such offerings were made in the spirit which animated the ‘churlish priest’ who grudged decent burial to Ophelia.862

A distinguished archaeologist has argued that not only in Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean but also in Gaul and Britain inhumation and cremation were associated with different conceptions of a future life; the ghost of the body which was interred being regarded as tenanting the grave, whereas, when cremation was practised, the soul was supposed to take flight to Hades or to some far land, though it could not enter the confines until the body which it had quitted was duly burned.863 But whatever the Mycenaeans and the Greeks may have believed, there is no reason to suppose that in the West cremation was attended with any such doctrinal change. We have seen that both in the Neolithic Age and after, cremation and inhumation were practised contemporaneously and sometimes even in the same grave;864 and recent excavations have shown that in the caves of Mentone, even in the Old Stone Age, the two modes of sepulture were in use.865 If the Celts of the Early Iron Age believed that ‘on the burning of the body the soul departed to a distant region’, there is no proof that their belief 205 was different when they laid the body in the grave; and who will maintain that the religious ideas of the Gauls were revolutionized when in the second century before Christ cremation once more became the rule, or that among the Britons of Caesar’s time cremation and inhumation, which had each their votaries, were the outward signs of religious beliefs that were utterly unlike?866

Engraved stones.

We may perhaps hope to find other clues to the religious ideas of the Bronze Age in megalithic monuments and in the engraved stones which have been already mentioned.867 There are certain designs upon the latter of which the meaning is evident. The figure of an axe graven on a cist at Kilmartin in Argyllshire has many analogues on dolmens in the Morbihan and on the walls of artificial sepulchral grottoes in the department of the Marne; and, as the axe in the Mycenaean Age was a symbol of Zeus, we may suppose that such engravings represented a widespread cult of one of the most fruitful of human inventions, which originated in neolithic times, and survived in the manufacture of miniature celts to serve as pendants and, still later, in the use of stone celts as amulets.868 The most common devices, however, are small circular depressions, called cup-markings, and concentric circles; while occasionally groups of concentric circles are united by grooves. Cup and ring markings are found on the stones of cists, on standing stones, on boulders, and on rocks in most parts of Scotland, in Carnarvonshire and Merionethshire, in Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmorland, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Man, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Dorsetshire, and Cornwall, and likewise in Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Scandinavia, Asia, Africa, and America.869 Natural cup-markings 206 have been noticed on the covering-stones of certain dolmens;870 and it may be that such stones were deemed lucky and that, when they could not be obtained, they were imitated; but of those which are artificial the significance remains unknown.871 The rings may perhaps in some instances be symbolical of sun-worship, for on the cairn of Lough Crew in Ireland and in Scandinavia a few have rays;872 and since we find them on the covering-stones of cists, while in Australia similar designs, drawn on rocks, are magical or sacred,873 it would seem probable that they had some religious meaning.874 Sun-worship undoubtedly prevailed 207 Sun-worship. in certain parts of the British Isles. A few years ago there was found in Zeeland a gold-plated bronze disk, engraved with concentric circles and mounted on a miniature car with the model of a horse attached, which was recognized by all archaeologists as a votive object, connected with the worship of the sun. Similar disks, two of which are ornamented with a cruciform pattern—a well-known solar symbol—have been exhumed in Ireland, and a fragment of one in a barrow near Bath.875 Besides the spirals which have been already mentioned, the most remarkable of all the rock-carvings is a swastika on a rock near Ilkley, identical with one which has been discovered in Sweden, not far north of Gothenburg: the oldest known examples of this mystical figure come from the second city that was built upon the site of Troy.876

Stone circles and other megalithic monuments.

We have seen that many barrows and cairns were immediately surrounded by, or enclosed, rings of standing stones which were part of the sepulchral structure. It is now time to consider the larger stone circles and other megalithic monuments which have occasioned voluminous controversies. They were not invented in the Bronze Age; for, as we have seen,877 some of the long barrows were surrounded by peristaliths: the famous circle of Callernish in the island of Lewis contains a chambered cairn, from which it is structurally distinct;878 and some of our circles which are apparently non-sepulchral may have been set up in transitional times. But the development of the circle, which can be traced most clearly in Scotland, was gradual. In the chambered cairns and chambered long barrows the 208 peristalith as a rule was merely an adjunct: in many unchambered cairns and round barrows the stone setting is still a subordinate part of the whole; but, gradually separating itself, it became the leading feature of the monument, while the central cairn or barrow frequently disappeared, and was replaced by a simple cist.879 By similar stages the encircling trenches and banks in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire became distinct from the small disk barrows which they contained.880

Stone circles are to be seen in the northern counties of England, in Derbyshire and Staffordshire, Shropshire and Cheshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, Devonshire, Somersetshire, and Cornwall; and also in Glamorganshire, Orkney, the islands of Arran and Lewis, Argyllshire, Perthshire, Inverness-shire, Banffshire, Aberdeenshire, and Kincardineshire.881 Menhirs, or isolated standing stones, and stone rows are found in this island only on Dartmoor, in Cornwall, Northumberland, Scotland, and Wales.882 209

In form as well as in size British stone circles present numerous varieties.883 It would, however, be useless, at all events until circles of every kind had been excavated, to attempt to account for their distinctive features; and it is significant that, although various districts have types of their own, there are examples of divers kinds in close proximity.884 Many were simple rings. Some consisted of concentric rings; and here and there small circles, each of which was outside the others, were enclosed within a greater. Sometimes the stones were set up in close proximity; sometimes in open order.885 Among circles of the latter kind Stonehenge, Avebury, and Callernish were approached by stone avenues,886 the existence of which has been tentatively explained by the supposition that originally the spaces between the stones of the circle were filled by walls intended to keep out beasts.887 A few circles are surrounded by ditches, which were spanned by causeways; others by both ditches and banks; and it is noteworthy that at Avebury the ditch lies within the bank, while at Stonehenge in the same county it surrounds it.888 In many circles of Banffshire, Kincardineshire, and Aberdeenshire, there is a recumbent stone, placed intentionally in that position,—a 210 feature which appears to be elsewhere unknown:889 a few in Aberdeenshire have a solitary pillar in the centre;890 while Stonehenge, the Rollright Stones in the Cotswold Hills, and some Scottish circles are distinguished by a similar stone which stands outside.891

The imaginative Stukeley, whose teaching is still echoed in many handbooks, regarded stone circles as Druidical temples; and although nearly every modern antiquary feels bound to ridicule this theory, none can prove that it does not contain a kernel of truth. Druids presided at all religious ceremonies;892 and it would be rash to deny that in stone circles religion had any part. The foremost archaeologist of France has virtually sanctioned the discredited theory;893 and if there is any truth in the view, which still has respectable advocates, that some circles were solar temples, Druids may well have directed the worshippers. It has been contended that many circles were orientated to the place of the midsummer sunrise, and that the presence of the solitary outlying stones would be inexplicable unless they were set up as pointers. These monoliths, however, are very rare: some are in positions which cannot be reconciled with any theory of sun-worship; and when they are absent and there is no avenue, it is clearly impossible to prove that the circle was orientated at all.894 It is true that the existence of an interment within a circle no more proves that it was not a temple than the graves in Poets’ Corner prove that Westminster Abbey is not a church: but the most enthusiastic advocates are forced to admit that many circles show no trace of orientation, 211 and the evidence upon which they rely is sometimes of the flimsiest kind.895 The one statement which can be positively made about the object of stone circles is that very many of them were erected in honour of the dead. Many enclose cairns or barrows: many others contained human remains, almost always cremated, in cists.896 Stone circles are associated with sepulchres not only in Britain but in Scandinavia, Northern Germany, France, Spain, Italy, North Africa, Syria, and India, indeed in every country in which they exist.897 It is true that in many English circles evidence of 212 such association is lacking;898 but we may doubt whether in any case its absence has been absolutely proved; and if the excavations had been directed by an antiquary as wealthy and as diligent as Pitt-Rivers, it might have been forthcoming.899 But supposing that there are circles in which no burial ever took place, it does not follow that they were unconnected with sepulchral usage: like the empty barrows which, as we have seen, are cenotaphs, they may have been erected in honour of brave men who had fallen in battle or of some chief whose body could not be recovered. Nor are circles the only megalithic monuments the object of which was sepulchral. The menhirs of France are often grouped with dolmens and burial mounds;900 and there is not a single stone row or avenue on Dartmoor which is not associated with cairns, barrows, or cists.901 One, which is more than two miles long—longer than any in Brittany—links 213 a circle to a cairn, and was perhaps designed to perpetuate the memory of two ancestors who had done great deeds.902

Perhaps among the many superstitions about these monuments which have survived into modern times there are some that recall the purpose for which they were designed. When Camden wrote, the Rollright Stones were still regarded as petrified men; and it has been suggested that the belief pointed to a time when popular imagination ‘transferred to the stone that marked the resting-place of the departed something of his very material being’.903


But of all the megalithic circles of our island one only is familiar, even by name, to us all. Stonehenge is the most famous and in its artlessness the most artistic of all rude stone monuments. Even those who have never visited it are acquainted with its form; and the imagination of Turner has caught the spirit of the scene. The grandeur of Stonehenge does not depend upon size: in its best days it bore much the same relation to Avebury as the Sainte Chapelle to the cathedral of Notre Dame; but, weather-worn and mutilated, with many of its stones fallen and others gone, it impresses all who are sensitive to nobility of design as the creation of a master mind. When the work was finished, if indeed it was not left incomplete, the outer circle probably formed a continuous architrave, all the stones supporting imposts, whose ends were wrought into bosses that rested in hollows prepared for their reception. Within was an incomplete circle of smaller stones, which in their turn surrounded five great trilithons, disposed in the form of a horse-shoe, of which two only remain. They have analogues in Tripoli and in Syria; but in this island they are unique.904 On their inner side was a similar group of lesser stones; and within this choir lies a vast block, which is known as the Altar Stone.905 From the north-eastern 214 point of the trench that surrounds the rampart an avenue, flanked on either side by a bank and a shallow ditch, may still be traced for some four hundred yards; and on it stands the huge pillar called the Friar’s Heel.

A portion of the area of Stonehenge has recently been excavated; and more than a hundred of the rude tools have been recovered with which the stones were dressed. It was proved that the great sandstone boulders, commonly called sarsens, had been roughly trimmed where they were found on Salisbury Plain; for the fragments that were found by the excavators were very few.906 After they had been carried to the place where they now stand907 they were dressed with a skill which shows how far superior the masons were to those who had set up the rough blocks of Avebury. Each pillar was gradually uplifted by levers until it could slide down the sloping rim of the pit which the workers with their deer-horn picks had excavated, and of which the other three walls were vertical: then it was hoisted by ropes till it stood upright, and finally secured by a packing of smaller stones which supported it below. It is thus that megaliths are commonly erected in Japan to this day.908 How the huge imposts were elevated is somewhat doubtful. The Khasis shove theirs up an earthen bank.909 In Japan the stone is raised at one end by wooden levers, logs being inserted beneath it: the other end is raised by the same means; and thus by slow degrees the proper level is attained, when the stone is forced on to its supports.910 Once it was thought that the ‘blue-stones’ of which the inner circle is composed had been fetched from Cornwall or Dartmoor,911 or oversea from Ireland; but the geologist who was consulted after the excavation inferred from the vast number of angular chips which were discovered within the small area of operations that the stones had been not only dressed 215 but also chipped into shape by the site of Stonehenge; and one can hardly believe that if it had been necessary to carry them from afar, the builders would not have reduced their weight by rough-hewing them where they were found.912

Stonehenge has a literature of its own which comprises nearly a thousand works. It has been assigned to the Neolithic Age, to the Bronze Age, to the era of Roman dominion, and to a time when the Saxons had been long settled in Wessex. Many years ago Pitt-Rivers pointed out the only way in which these controversies could be closed; but unfortunately the recent excavation was confined to a small area. It only proved that the use of copper was not unknown in Wiltshire when the stones were set up; for on one of the sarsens, seven feet below the surface, was found a stain produced by contact either with copper or bronze. Deer-horn picks were commonly used in the Bronze Age, and bronze tools are useless for working stone; therefore the stone implements which the excavations brought to light leave the question of date unsettled. The absence of bronze implements is of course no proof that the monument belonged to the Stone Age; not a single article of bronze was found in twenty-four barrows of Rushmore in South Wiltshire, every one of which was erected when bronze was common.913 Moreover, with hardly an exception, every primary interment that has been found within a megalithic circle in Britain was made in the Age of Bronze.914 All antiquaries agree that of all the British circles Stonehenge was the most elaborate; and the natural conclusion is that it was one of the latest of them all. Two barrows are encroached upon and partially surrounded by the rampart, which must therefore be of later date; and chippings of both sarsens and blue-stones were found by Hoare in one of the surrounding barrows along with a bronze dagger and a bronze pin. On the other 216 hand this discovery proves that Stonehenge existed before the period of the barrows, not one of which is later than the Bronze Age, came to an end.

Nevertheless a distinguished astronomer, who has been a President of the British Association, recently assigned a date to Stonehenge with which these facts are irreconcilable; and although his theory was demolished by a brother astronomer, he has not hesitated to republish it. Stonehenge, he insists, was originally built a thousand years before the trilithons were added; and the trilithons represent a reconstruction and a re-dedication, which took place about sixteen hundred and eighty years before the birth of Christ. His chronological argument rests upon the assumption that Stonehenge was a temple, consecrated, at its hypothetical second dedication, to the cult of the solstitial sun. Remarking that the avenue extends in the general direction of the sunrise at the summer solstice, he attempted to determine its azimuth. Unhappily the bearing was not everywhere the same. He took the mean, and found that it nearly coincided with a line drawn from the principal bench mark of the Ordnance Survey on Sidbury Hill, the site of an ancient fort, to the centre of Stonehenge. Although there was no evidence that the erection of Stonehenge had the remotest connexion with Sidbury Hill, although the hill itself is not visible from Stonehenge, he found it convenient to discard his own calculation of the azimuth of the avenue and to adopt instead the bearing of the bench mark. Then, making the further assumption that the sun-worshippers adopted as the moment of sunrise the time when the upper tip of the sun first appeared above Sidbury Hill—a phenomenon which is very rare—he ascertained from the rate of change in the obliquity of the ecliptic that it would have been there visible about sixteen hundred and eighty years before the Christian era; or perhaps two centuries earlier or later. Nor did his assumptions end here. Although the Alexandrian astronomer who constructed the Julian calendar miscalculated the date of the summer solstice, he assumed that sixteen centuries earlier the barbarous inhabitants of a northern 217 island could tell it exactly; and he assumed that, in order to observe the sunrise, they stood at the exact point within the circle at which it was convenient to him to place them.915

But such laborious puerilities will not trouble the unlearned wayfarer who feels the enchantment of the past. For him it is enough that Stonehenge was the work of men who felt the majesty of death, and for whom no toil was too great that could do honour to the dead. Chronology has little interest for him: whether Stonehenge was built to hallow the vast necropolis in which it stands, or the dead were brought from afar to lie beneath its shadow, he knows that the three hundred barrows and the great monument are indissolubly connected. The moment when he descried the grey weather-beaten stones on the lonely Wiltshire upland will not fade from his mind. Above the south horizon appeared the slender spire of Salisbury; and the work of the Middle Age and of the Age of Bronze awakened emotions of the same kind: for both were erected in obedience to the thought that man cannot live by bread alone. It may be that those who set up the circle thought differently from the believers who thronged it in later times: the cult of ancestors, the worship of the sun, the adoration of the Celtic deity who was the counterpart of Zeus may have called successive generations of pilgrims to the holy place. Passing beneath the trilithons and among the prostrate stones, one thinks of all that has been done and suffered since mason and digger worked side by side to execute the nameless architect’s design. Time-honoured even when the Roman first landed on our shore, Stonehenge was standing in all its glory when the Greek explorer came who first made known our island to the civilized world.

The voyage of Pytheas.

It was about the time when the conquests of Alexander the Great were revealing the far east to the eager curiosity of the Greeks that Pytheas set forth from Massilia on the 218 peaceful voyage which was to bring Northern Europe within their ken. Such knowledge of Gaul and Britain as had already reached the Mediterranean was of the vaguest kind.916 It has indeed been argued that the Greek word for tin, cassiteros, which occurs in Homer, was of Celtic origin, and was learned by the Greeks from traders who as early as the ninth century before the Christian era procured tin from Cornwall.917 If this conjecture were accepted, it would suggest that the existence of an island somewhere in the far northern ocean was at that time known to a few dwellers in the south. It has also been supposed that the lines in the Odyssey which describe the country of the Laestrygones, where the summer nights were short, were founded upon stories told by sailors who had seen the British Isles;918 but the passage seems more applicable to Scandinavia, which, owing to the amber trade, was from an early period of the Bronze Age connected with South-Eastern Europe. The knowledge that tin was to be got from Cornwall must, however, have reached the Mediterranean at a remote epoch through the ties that connected Britain with Gaul. Himilco, the Carthaginian admiral who, more than a century before the birth of Pytheas, sailed into the English Channel, perhaps undertook his voyage for the purpose of opening up trade with Cornwall at a time when the tin mines of Galicia were nearly exhausted; but it is unlikely that his report, upon which the poem of Festus Avienus was ultimately based, was originally known except to his own government.919 In the time of Pytheas, however, there was a regular overland trade in tin between Cornwall and Massilia, and doubtless also a seaborne trade between Cornwall and the Carthaginian port of Cadiz.920

Pytheas was a great man. As an explorer he was the forerunner of Columbus; and it is not easy for us, who live in an age when hardly any part of the earth’s surface, except the polar regions, remains untrodden, to conceive 219 the animation with which his narrative was discussed by his Greek contemporaries and by the geographers of a later time.921 His scientific eminence is attested by the use which was made of his writings by Eratosthenes, the Alexandrian geographer and poet, and by Hipparchus, the greatest astronomer of the ancient world.922 With a gnomon which he erected in his native town he obtained an estimate of its latitude which erred by no more than a few seconds;923 the observations which he made in the Atlantic enabled him to announce that the height of the tides had a definite relation to the moon’s age;924 he determined with some approach to accuracy the configuration both of Gaul and Britain;925 and at four stations in or near our island he took observations of the altitude of the sun at noon, from which Hipparchus calculated their respective latitudes.926 Unfortunately the work ‘On the Ocean’, which he based on the diary of his voyage,927 has perished. All that we know of it is contained in a few fragments, quoted with more or less accuracy by the astronomer Geminus, who was contemporary with Caesar, by Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, Pliny, and other writers.928 Strabo, influenced by the unimaginative mind of Polybius, was bitterly hostile;929 220 and his treatise on geography taught many generations of readers to regard Pytheas as a romancer.

It has been supposed that the Government of Massilia, jealous of the commercial predominance of the Carthaginians, and hoping to wrest from them a share of the trade in tin, employed Pytheas as their agent. But the Massiliots already received a constant supply of tin directly from the British mines; and it is hardly credible that they could have expected to profit by importing it oversea round Spain instead of overland.930 Nor indeed could they have expected the Carthaginians, who were all-powerful at sea, to allow their vessels to penetrate into waters which they jealously policed. Polybius, who was affluent, sneeringly remarked that a private individual, in poor circumstances, could not have travelled such distances as Pytheas claimed to have done.931 It is no longer necessary to prove that Pytheas’s travels were real; but, supposing that he could not afford to pay his own expenses, we can only conclude that the Massilian Government, or perhaps a syndicate of merchants, were sufficiently public-spirited to spend money on scientific aims. For although it would seem probable from his having extended his voyage to the amber districts that his object was partly commercial, the fact that he sailed far away from the trade routes, and spent a large part of his time in collecting ethnographical information and making astronomical and geographical observations shows that his own purpose was the advancement of science. It is unnecessary to refute the quaint suggestion that poverty compelled him to work his passage on board a Carthaginian merchantman:932 Carthaginian ship-owners would hardly have permitted a captain to circumnavigate 221 Britain in order to gratify the whim of an alien scientist in the forecastle. If anything that relates to the voyage of Pytheas is certain, it is that he was free to direct the movements of the vessel as he pleased.933

The outward voyage, even before he first saw the British coast, was full of interest. After passing Cape Finisterre, he steered eastward along the northern coast of Spain, and found that, owing to the set of the current and the prevailing westerly winds, the rate of sailing was much more rapid than along the southern side of the Peninsula.934 He touched at Corbilo, a port on the estuary of the Loire, where British tin was unshipped; noted the great bend which the Breton coast makes towards the north-west; and found in the peninsula the same tribe of Osismii whom Caesar encountered nearly three centuries later in his campaign against the Veneti. Having visited Uxisama, the modern Ushant, he struck thence along the course followed by the Phoenicians, and in twenty-four hours crossed the western arm of the Channel and landed near Belerium, the Land’s End.935 He conversed freely with the inhabitants, doubtless through the medium of an interpreter, and found them friendly and comparatively civilized. They told him that the tin was cast into ingots, shaped like ankle-bones, two of which would form a suitable load for a pack-horse, and conveyed to an island off the Cornish coast, called Ictis, which was accessible at low tide to their wagons. There Ictis. it was shipped and carried to Corbilo; and thence it was 222 transported on horseback to the mouth of the Rhone. The whereabouts of Ictis has long been a subject of dispute. It has been identified with St. Michael’s Mount, with the Isle of Wight, and even with the Isle of Thanet. This guess has, however, been discarded,936 and no longer needs refutation. It has recently been shown that a natural causeway, formed by a limestone reef, connected in prehistoric times the coast off Lymington with Yarmouth. But this does not prove that Ictis was the Isle of Wight; nor does the fact, on which much stress has been laid, that coins of a certain type are common to Brittany, the Channel Islands, and the south-western districts of Britain. Doubtless much traffic passed by way of the Channel Islands, but not necessarily that which Pytheas described; and the Dumnonii, who produced the tin, never struck coins at all.937 We are told that in those days St. Michael’s Mount was an isolated rock begirt by a swampy wood; and that the voyage from Cornwall to the mouth of the Loire would have been too long and dangerous for ancient seamen to attempt. The former argument, in so far as it leans upon tradition, was demolished forty years ago; the legend that St. Michael’s Mount was ‘The Hoar Rock in the Wood’ was based upon a mediaeval story which confounded St. Michael’s Mount with Mont St. Michel. It is true that the eminent geologist who has proved the former existence of a causeway between the Isle of Wight and the mainland has attempted to reinforce tradition by science; but his calculations, which assume that alluvium was dispersed by marine action at a constant rate, seem hardly less liable to error than the discredited estimates of the antiquity of man which were based upon assumptions regarding the rate of deposition of stalagmite in caves.938 Nor would any one who knows that long before the time of Pytheas men were not afraid to sail from Norway to Ireland, that the 223 distance between Rome and Sardinia is greater than the greatest breadth of the English Channel, and that before the invention of the compass Irish monks made the voyage to Iceland, believe that the Phoenicians or the Veneti in their stout ships were too timid to cross from Cornwall to the Loire. It is not credible that shrewd merchants would have submitted to pay the heavy additional price which would have been exacted if the tin had been conveyed two hundred miles by land before it was shipped, and then to saddle themselves with the cost of conveying it by sea from the Isle of Wight to the Loire,—a voyage much longer and not less dangerous than the direct route from Cornwall. St. Michael’s Mount is the one island off the south coast of Britain between the Land’s End and the Isle of Wight which corresponds with Diodorus’s description; it is opposite the only part of the Cornish coast where wagons could have descended to the shore; and Pengelly, Lyell, and Ussher testify that its main features have persisted unchanged for more than two thousand years.939

As far as the Land’s End the route of Pytheas is evident: thenceforward all becomes obscure. We know that he circumnavigated Britain; for he mentioned the South Foreland and alluded to the northern extremity of Scotland, and he attempted to estimate the circumference of the island.940 We know that he explored the amber coast, and some conjecture that he sailed to ‘far-off Thule’; but it is safe to prophesy that on the details of his itinerary agreement will never be reached. He accurately indicated the position of Ireland, which Eratosthenes, guided by his observations, placed west of Britain, but which, Strabo notwithstanding insisted, was the most northerly of all inhabited lands.941 It would seem that he landed more than once; for he had much to tell of the manners and customs of the Britons. He was especially struck by the gloominess 224 of the climate; the corn, he remarked, was not threshed on open threshing-floors on account of the heavy rains and the lack of sunshine, but the ears were cut off, carried into barns, and there ground; and he learned that the grain was not merely used for food, but also for brewing a kind of beer. In the far northern districts he observed that domestic animals were few, that the fruits of more favoured lands were not to be seen, and that the only cereal was oats.942 According to Pliny,943 he stated that the tide rose in one place to the prodigious height of eighty cubits, or about one hundred and twenty feet. It has been supposed that this passage refers to the race of the current through the Pentland Firth;944 but more probably Pytheas had seen the tidal wave in the Bristol Channel, which actually rises sixty feet;945 and it must remain doubtful whether he exaggerated its volume or Pliny misrepresented his meaning.

‘Ultima Thule.’

The voyage which Pytheas made to the amber coast has no place in the history of Britain; but we cannot but be interested in his account of Thule, which he called the most northerly of the British Isles.946 It is doubtful, however, whether he even saw it.947 He says that it was six days’ sail from Britain;948 but this statement may have been made upon the authority of natives949 who had conversed with Scandinavian mariners on their way to or from Ireland. His description of the manners and customs of the northern peoples, of their agriculture, their domestic animals, and their food is reproduced by Strabo in a paragraph so vague that one cannot be sure whether it was intended to refer 225 only to Britain, or to Thule as well.950 Strabo, if he had any clear notion on the subject, must have applied it to Britain, for Thule was in his eyes a mythical land;951 but if Pytheas was thinking of Thule, his account may have been based upon hearsay. He described it as situated on or near the Arctic Circle,952 and since he called it an island, his description, if he sailed thither himself, can only refer to Iceland: but Iceland, when the Northmen took possession of it, was found uninhabited except by a few monks;953 and it may be that he simply drew his own conclusions from the reports of Britons who told him that in Thule there was one night every year on which the sun never set.954 Again, when he said that Thule was near the frozen ocean,955 he may only have reported what he had heard; though it is unlikely that the natives of North Britain would have made a statement so misleading about any of the Shetlands, which were within a few hours’ sail of their own land. But perhaps we may find a clue in a well-known passage in Geminus’s Elements of Astronomy.956 ‘The natives,’ said Pytheas, according to this extract, ‘pointed out to us the sleeping-place of the sun; for in these parts the nights were very short, in some only two, in others three hours long, so that the sun re-appeared soon after it had set.’ Even in the Shetlands the duration of the shortest 226 night is about five hours; but Cosmas Indicopleustes,957 a traveller and geographer of the sixth century, affirms that the natives explained ‘the sleeping-place of the sun’ as the place where for twenty-four hours there was unbroken darkness. We may well conceive how Pytheas stood talking to Shetlanders or to people who lived near Cape Wrath, while they pointed in the direction of Norway, in the remoter parts of which, as they had learned from Norwegian sailors, was to be seen the midnight sun, and at midwinter there was for twenty-four hours continuous night. But Pytheas would not have told this tale if he had himself watched the sun above the horizon throughout the midsummer night; nor would he have placed Thule on the Arctic Circle if he had not believed that such a spectacle was there to be seen. For the Romans of the Empire Thule, as the northernmost of the British Isles, was Mainland, which Agricola visited.958 But on the whole it seems most probable that Pytheas described it from hearsay;959 that he was misled into believing it to be in the British archipelago; and that the Thule to which his informants pointed was the Scandinavian peninsula.960 227

Pytheas and the ethnology of Britain.

But, apart from the deeds of Pytheas himself, perhaps the most interesting information which we owe to the fragmentary record of his voyage relates to the ethnology of Britain. He learned that it was called the Pretanic Island. Before his time the Gauls for the most part had come to change the original sound qu into p; whereas certain tribes of Western Gaul961 as well as all those Celtic-speaking inhabitants of the British Isles from whose dialect Gaelic, Irish, and Manx have been evolved retained it, though the latter afterwards modified it into c. On the other hand, wherever the Indo-European tongue from which Celtic was an offshoot had the sound of p, most of the Celtic-speaking tribes both of Britain and Gaul had let it disappear. The word Pretanic therefore implied the existence 228 of an earlier word Qrtanic; and supposing that Pytheas, as some believe, heard Pretanic only in Gaul, it might be argued that Qrtanic was still the British pronunciation. If so, none of the tribes who had changed qu into p, from whose dialect Welsh, Cornish, and Breton descended, and who are commonly called Brythons, had yet invaded Britain. But if, as seems much more probable, Pytheas derived his information from Britons, the Brythons were already predominant at all events in those parts of Britain in which he conversed with them. Indeed, as we shall afterwards see,962 it is morally certain that Brythonic tribes had been settled here at least half a century before he came.

The subject of the ethnology of the Celtic-speaking tribes of Britain is extremely difficult; and on nearly every important point Celtic philologists differ widely among themselves. It is almost an article of faith that the earlier Celtic invaders were Goidels, or tribes who had not changed qu into p; but there are some who maintain that neither in the time of Pytheas nor even in that of Caesar were there any Goidels in Britain; and that those who were settled in Wales in the third century of our era were all of Irish origin. No direct evidence indeed can be adduced for the common view; but it is hard to conceive that the earliest Celtic immigrants, unless they set out from Spain or from North-Western Gaul, should have passed by Britain in order to settle in Ireland. Even those who admit the priority of the Goidels in Britain are not of one mind. While the foremost Celtic scholar of this country maintains that when Celts first reached Britain the distinction between the Goidelic and Brythonic dialects already existed, the foremost Celtic scholar of France insists that at that time the Celtic language was everywhere the same: according to him none of the Celts had then changed qu into p: that change was made later by Celtic conquerors of Gaul, some of whose descendants afterwards colonized Britain; and the people with whom Pytheas conversed were not, strictly 229 speaking, Goidels, but simply Celts who spoke a language from which the Goidelic dialects—Gaelic, Manx, and Irish—were subsequently evolved.

On its chronological no less than on its ethnological side the Celtic question is involved in obscurity. History, archaeology, and physical anthropology can give the philologists little aid. The slender historical evidence does not warrant us in assigning the earliest Celtic invasion of Britain to a period more than six or seven centuries before the Christian era. Philologists who, a few years ago, acquiesced in this date, now put it back three centuries or more without troubling themselves to give a reason. The Hallstatt period of culture, which, in its earlier stage, coincided on the Continent with the transition from the use of bronze to that of iron, is believed to have lasted in Gaul from about 800 to about 400 B.C. As it is all but entirely unrepresented in this country by iron weapons, one might perhaps argue that Celts invaded Britain before iron implements of Hallstatt type began to be common in Gaul; but this date gives us no help, for it certainly was not earlier than the sixth century before Christ.963 Assuming that Goidelic and Brythonic were distinct dialects before the Celts invaded Britain, there is no evidence that the Goidelic invaders (if they existed) were physically different from their Brythonic kinsmen; and if they were, the fact would throw no light upon the Goidelic invasion. For, as we have seen, even if the period of the round barrows lasted to the end of the Bronze Age, cremation, which destroys evidence of physical type, was then in vogue. Therefore we must rest satisfied with the probability that at some time after the earlier period of the British Bronze Age tribes began to invade Britain who spoke a language from which the Gaelic that we know was descended; and with the certainty that when Pytheas landed on our shore he found Brythons already in possession.964 230

The passing of the Bronze Age.

The coming of Pytheas marks the beginning of a new era. Bronze and even stone implements were still used in the north and probably even in the greater part of Southern Britain.965 But the Bronze Age, properly so called, had passed away: the Early Iron Age had begun. 231



Iron probably introduced into Britain by Gallic invaders.

Iron-working was of course familiar to the people of the Mediterranean and even to the continental Celts long before it was introduced into Britain;966 but, it need scarcely be said, everywhere until the Middle Ages, the metal was not cast, but only wrought. Not far from Hallstatt, the only place in Europe where the gradual transition from the use of bronze to that of iron can be traced, were the iron mines of Noreia, which were certainly worked at a very early period, and from which, some archaeologists still insist, the use of iron spread to all European lands.967 Since iron tools and weapons of the later Hallstatt type, ranging from about the beginning of the sixth to the end of the fifth century before the Christian era, are almost entirely wanting in Britain, the earliest products of our Iron Age can hardly be older than the later of these dates. Were they introduced by immigrants or in the ordinary course of trade? Among the round barrows on the Yorkshire Wolds are two, situated in the parish of Cowlam, each of which contained the skeleton of a woman. The appearance of these mounds was not different from that of many others, most of which belonged to the Bronze Age and a few perhaps to that of stone: the skeletons were interred in the contracted position which had been common for many centuries; and the pottery exactly resembled the domestic pottery which is associated with bronze. The practised explorer who opened the barrows confessed that but for 232 the presence of a brooch and certain ornaments of the Iron Age he would unhesitatingly have assigned them to the older period; and he accordingly concluded that no new people had come in with iron.968 But the conclusion is not warranted except perhaps for the particular district to which these graves belong. The use of iron might have spread by barter to Yorkshire after it had been introduced by new-comers into lands nearer Gaul; and the prevalent opinion is that it was introduced about the beginning of the fourth century before Christ by Gallic invaders who spoke a Brythonic dialect.969

The Belgae preceded by other Brythons, who began to arrive about 400 B.C.

Caesar knew nothing of any Gallic invaders of Britain except the Belgae, who, as he gathered, inhabited the maritime districts, evidently of the south-east and south: the people of the interior, according to his informants, were aborigines. This statement, however, made no distinction between the real aborigines and the round-headed immigrants who found them in possession. It is impossible to say certainly which of the tribes in Caesar’s time were Belgic, except the Belgae, the Catuvellauni, and the Atrebates, none of whom possessed territory north of the basin of the Thames;970 but the names of tribes and of places 233 mentioned by Ptolemy and other late writers show that the greater part of England and Wales and at least a considerable part of Southern Scotland were in the first century of the Roman occupation inhabited by Brythons; and it is morally certain that they did not arrive after Caesar’s departure. Evidently, therefore, the Belgae had been preceded by other Brythons. But when did the first Belgic invaders appear? Those who are not content to take on trust the widely different dates which have been assigned by archaeologists will find that it is impossible to achieve any definite result. Dr. Arthur Evans has at different times conjectured that the invasion began about two hundred,971 about one hundred and fifty,972 and about three hundred years before the birth of Christ.973 It would appear, however, from the time that must have been required for the gradual evolution of the successive types of British coins which will be noticed hereafter, that the prototype was introduced not less than a century and a half, possibly two centuries, before the Christian era; but it is impossible to prove, though it is generally assumed, that 234 money was coined by the first Belgic invaders. The date of the commencement of the earlier Brythonic invasion is equally uncertain. It is now provisionally fixed about 400 B.C.974

Ethnology of the invaders.

Classical writers are practically unanimous in describing Celts as a tall stalwart people with fair or red hair; and physical anthropology confirms the general accuracy of their statements. But this science shows that the Celts, Goidelic and Brythonic, who successively invaded Gaul were mixed themselves, and that the population whom they found there were composed of two intermingled elements—a small dark people who resembled the older neolithic inhabitants of our own islands, and a short sturdy people, also dark but round-skulled, who began to enter Gaul in the Neolithic Age. Doubtless the Belgae as well as the earlier Brythonic invaders of Britain were an amalgam of all these elements, the tall red Celts whose ancestors had introduced the Celtic language into Gaul being the most conspicuous. But it is remarkable that although Strabo emphasizes the great stature of the Britons, such sepulchral evidence as we possess does not bear out his description. The skeletons of the Early Iron Age that have been exhumed in Britain are mainly those of small or middle-sized men, who to an untrained eye seem hardly distinguishable from the neolithic race, but whose skulls, although they too are long and narrow, generally differ from theirs in the sight of an expert. Even the skeletons that have been found interred with war-chariots are unlike those of the cemeteries of North-Eastern Gaul. Unfortunately the chariot-burials of Britain are very few: many of the later British interments of the Early Iron Age 235 were made by cremation; and it can only be concluded that the evidence which might have enabled us to recognize the Celtic conquerors of the classical type has perished or has not yet come to light.975

The order in which the various tribes arrived unknown.

Attempts, based upon the geographical positions of the various Brythonic tribes, as they were defined by Caesar, Ptolemy, and other ancient writers, have been made to determine the order in which they arrived. Thus it has been supposed that the Britanni, coming from the country near the mouth of the Somme, crossed the Straits and took possession of Kent; that the Atrebates sailed up Southampton Water and pushed inland till they reached those parts of Hampshire and Berkshire in which they were afterwards found; that the Trinovantes, who in Caesar’s time occupied Essex, steered for the mouth of the Thames; that the Catuvellauni, arriving a little later, were obliged to move higher up the valley and content themselves with parts of Middlesex, Hertfordshire, and Oxfordshire; that the Eceni, whose settlements were in East Anglia, came later still; and after them the Coritani, who dwelled beyond the Wash, the Parisi, who seized the region of the Humber, and the Brigantes, who held the greater part of Yorkshire and Durham. The Cornavii of Cheshire and Derbyshire, whose name seems to mean the inhabitants of the horn or peninsula, are accordingly assumed to have landed between the Mersey and the Dee. Last of all, we are told, came the Votadini, who took to themselves the tract between the Tyne and the Firth of Forth.976

It would be surprising if these conjectures did not attain some measure of truth; but those who will not accept guesses even from the highest authority without testing them will perceive that they bristle with difficulties. It is not certain that the obscure Britanni, who are known to history only as a Gaulish tribe and are not even mentioned by Caesar, ever invaded Britain at all: the same writer who tells us that they were the first comers tells us also that they were Belgic, and that the Belgae were preceded by other 236 Brythons;977 and the Belgae, although they were last in the field, were not forced to seek distant abodes, but conquered the best parts of the country which were nearest to the Continent. We know nothing and can learn nothing of the history of the Belgic or the earlier Brythonic settlements.

‘Late Celtic’ art.

The Brythonic invaders introduced the first beginnings of the so-called Late Celtic art, which, remotely connected with that of Central and Southern Europe, attained its highest development in the British Isles. It was partly an outgrowth of the culture which on the Continent is called after the Helvetian settlement of La Tène, a village built on piles in a bay of the lake of Neuchâtel. This culture, which owed much to that of Hallstatt, has also been traced to classical and even to Oriental sources; but in the century which preceded the Roman conquest of Britain, while the Continent was dominated by the influence of Rome, its offspring asserted its own individuality.978 The Belgic conquest, which brought Britain into closer connexion with the Continent, gave a powerful impetus to the spread of Late Celtic art. The study of its details and of the evolution of its various types belongs to archaeology; but a general knowledge of its main features is essential to the understanding of British history.

Late Celtic works of art are in general as easily recognized as those of the Bronze Age, although only an expert could assign a given specimen to its proper period; but they are far more difficult to describe. While the chevron is the characteristic feature of the older culture, that of the younger is the curve. Rectilinear patterns, inherited from the Bronze Age, appear on many Late Celtic objects, but generally combined with those of curvilinear form.979 Anthropomorphic 237 and zoomorphic designs occasionally occur; and although the examples which best illustrate this tendency—two bronze-mounted buckets found at Marlborough980 and Aylesford981—were imported from Gaul, a bronze shield, dredged up from the river Witham, which is decorated with the figure of a boar, was undoubtedly of British workmanship.982 Geometrical designs are associated with representations of natural forms; and in certain cases one may see the latter becoming so conventionalized that they are tending to pass into the former. The scroll-like curves which hang from the mouths of the pair of confronted animals on the Marlborough bucket represent twigs on which they are supposed to have been browsing: certain scabbards are embellished with undulating curves, of which the original motive was an attempt to depict foliage; and everywhere the effect of successive copying was to transmute forms suggested by nature into sinuous lines, the origin of which is veiled by their very beauty. The ultimate result was a system of decoration which has been likened to the flamboyant,—the flame-like tracery of decadent French Gothic architecture.983

Coral and enamel.

The Late Celtic artist was not content with merely devising graceful lines on metal, wood, or earthenware: he often adorned his creations with coral and enamel. Coral, which was imported from the islands of Hyères, was no longer used in Gaul after the middle of the third century before our era; but in this country it remained in vogue until a much later period.984 The art of enamelling, which had been practised long before in the Caucasus, was already known in Gaul before coral fell into disuse. The centre of the industry was the Aeduan town of Bibracte, on Mont Beuvray near 238 Autun, where the crucibles, moulds, and polishing-stones of the workers have been discovered; but the enamellers of Britain elaborated the art to a far higher pitch of perfection. Enamels of many colours were produced at a late stage, but in pre-Roman times only red.985 Originally, as on a bronze helmet found in the Thames by Waterloo Bridge, the enamel was let into parallel or crossed grooves scored on the surface of the metal;986 but afterwards, by the champlevé process, a bed was scooped out for the reception of the fused material, and thus, by the covering of larger surfaces, the brilliancy of the effect was enhanced. The earlier British enamels, which show no vestiges of Roman influence, are found principally upon bridle-bits and harness-rings.987

Swords and scabbards.

But Late Celtic art may be studied on many other objects besides those which have been already mentioned. Though British swords of the Early Iron Age are rare, and belong for the most part to dates subsequent to the Belgic invasion, a beautiful specimen of La Tène type was found in its bronze sheath in the village-stronghold of Hunsbury near Northampton;988 and several have been recovered from the Thames, the scabbard of one being ornamented with a basket-pattern and open-work and an S-shaped scroll, another with transverse bars like examples from La Tène and Somme Bionne.989 Late Celtic swords, which invariably had bronze handles,990 were not, like those of the Bronze Age, leaf-shaped: their edges were nearly straight, and only tapered slightly near the point. Some late specimens, more than three feet 239 long and with blunt points, intended not for thrusting but cutting, correspond to the description of Tacitus;991 but others are much shorter. A dagger-sheath, found in Oxfordshire, is noticeable for its unusual decoration,—minute punched ornament between two pairs of ribs, which follow the outline of the edge, and not a single curve;992 while a scabbard from the Thames at Wandsworth is adorned with mock spirals and lozenges enclosed between parallel ribs.993

Fig. 37. ½


The reader who has been taught to regard his British forefathers as savages would not expect to find that they used mirrors; but although some of those whose pre-Roman age is certain are quite plain, a beautiful specimen which was found at Trelan Bahow in Cornwall, where to the last Roman influence was hardly felt, is probably representative of many which were made in the century before the Roman conquest, even though its own date may be later than the time of Claudius. Unlike the primitive mirrors, which were of iron mounted with bronze, it is made entirely of the brighter metal, and ornamented on the back with three circles, which 240 enclose patterns of engraved scroll-work, filled with cross-hatching.994

Fig. 38. ½

Brooches and pins.

The fibula or brooch—the prototype of the modern safety-pin—which had come into use on the Continent in the earliest period of the Hallstatt culture, was not known in our island before the Iron Age. Brooches of the successive La Tène types, in all of which the pin was straight and the body curved like a bow, have been found in considerable numbers; one of the earliest, from Water Eaton in Oxfordshire, being engraved with scrolls and the familiar ring-and-dot pattern, while another, from Avebury, was set with coral.995 Some brooches discovered in the stronghold of Hod Hill, near Blandford, had been modelled upon an Italian pattern of much earlier date.996 Pins, however, were still used for fastening the dress. Plain ones, which may be as old as the fourth century before Christ, have been found at Hagbourne Hill in Berkshire, and on the site of a pile-dwelling at Hammersmith, and others, which are hardly distinguishable in shape from a modern scarf-pin and belong to the period immediately preceding the coming of the Romans, in various parts of Scotland;997 but one which lay among the relics in a grave near Driffield was far more elaborately designed, its head being a miniature chariot-wheel with four spokes, curiously inlaid with shell.998 241


Of our Late Celtic ornaments many are undatable; and while the torques and richly decorated collars which are familiar to all antiquarians are common in early Gaulish graves, those of this country which are most characteristic of Late Celtic art appear to belong to the Roman period:999 but bronze bracelets set with paste were worn even in Yorkshire; and a penannular bracelet with small tooth-like projections, which closely resembles far earlier specimens from Hallstatt, belongs to the same district.1000 Of less costly trinkets lathe-turned bangles of Kimmeridge shale,1001 glass armlets,1002 and glass beads1003 can hardly perhaps be classified as works of art; but it is noteworthy that the beads, yellow, green, and blue, with their zigzag patterns and wavy white lines, which have been found at Glastonbury and in Yorkshire barrows, are utterly different from those of the Bronze Age, and belong mainly to a late period of the La Tène culture, though some had analogues in the cemetery of Hallstatt. As Glastonbury has also yielded pieces of glass slag and of crucibles, the beads were probably manufactured on the spot.1004 For some reason which has not been explained gold ornaments were apparently far rarer both in this country and in Gaul than in the preceding period.1005


Among the finest examples of woodwork are bronze-mounted tankards which have been found in Suffolk1006 and 242 Merionethshire,1007 the former being ornamented with circles enclosed between bronze bands, and each containing the mystic three-limbed figure, called the triskele, which seems to have been akin to the swastika; while the handle of the latter is notable for its flamboyant tracery. Specimens of a different kind include a beautiful bowl from Glastonbury, the sweeping curves incised on its surface expanding into circles and trumpet-like projections which enclose diagonal cross-hatching, and a rectangular object from the same site, which has no curves but is engraved with a step-like pattern shaded with cross-hatching of double diagonals.1008

Fig. 39.


Fig. 40.

Not less interesting is the Late Celtic pottery, which is generally very different from that of the Bronze Age, and the distinctive forms of which were first classified a few years ago by the explorer of the cemetery at Aylesford. Since then numerous examples of the same types have been found in other parts of Kent and in Essex; but the influence was felt as far north as Northamptonshire, and as far west as Dorsetshire. These vessels were turned upon the wheel and were much finer in quality than those of the Bronze Age. 243 The most characteristic of the cinerary urns, which in outline may be likened to a truncated pear, stand upon narrow pedestals and are generally divided into zones by ridges and corresponding grooves; while a few are incised on the bottom with concentric circles. They closely resemble urns found in Belgic cemeteries near St. Valéry-sur-Somme and in the lower valley of the Seine, which are nearly contemporary with them, belonging to the latest period of Gallic independence; but vases of the same form had been deposited three centuries earlier in the cemetery of Somme-Bionne, where the bodies had all been simply interred, whereas the urns of Aylesford were filled with cremated bones. The type, however, was not indigenous in Gaul. Its descent has been traced to vessels of earthenware found in North Italian graves of the fifth and fourth centuries before Christ, which were in their turn derived from bronze vases common on both shores of the Northern Adriatic. The cordons on the bronze vessels were simply survivals of wooden rings that compacted a frame of staves to which metal plates had been riveted.1009

Fig. 41. 244

Pedestalled vases were not the only pottery found at Aylesford and the analogous sites. There were others, bowl-shaped or with low globular bodies, some of which were also cordoned, while a few had the triangular decoration characteristic of the Bronze Age.

Domestic vessels of wholly different forms have also been recovered, some with handles on either side, and perforated bases, which were perhaps used for draining honey-combs, and others which are more easily recognized as Late Celtic by their flamboyant decoration. A fragment of this ware was taken from the same cavern near Torquay which had been used as a dwelling-place in palaeolithic times. Household pottery was still commonly made by hand; and while some specimens were without any ornament, others had rectilinear patterns of such a kind that, but for the associations in which they were found, they would have been referred unhesitatingly to the Age of Bronze.1010

The noblest creation of Late Celtic art.

If archaeologists were invited to name the noblest creation of Late Celtic art, I think that with one consent they would point to the bronze shield which was lost in the Thames, and found after it had lain there some nineteen hundred years. Oblong with rounded ends and gently contracted in the middle, the outline forming an endless curve, it is adorned with three successive circles of repoussé work, a large central one and two smaller, connected by sinuous lines, within which lesser circles are contained. The central piece of each greater circle is a boss enclosing enamelled swastika designs and surrounded by curves, S-shaped and C-shaped, which begin and end with the same mysterious device. Yet, though the beauty of form remains, the glory of colouring is gone; and one can only now imagine how, when the shield hung upon the forgotten warrior’s arm, gleaming bronze and raised 245 246 curves and red enamel combined to produce their due effect. Like Stonehenge this was the work of a master: not one detail could be altered, or removed, or added without impairing its perfection.1011

Fig. 42.

Imported objects of art.

Among the products of Late Celtic art that have been found in Britain are some of foreign manufacture, which testify to the increased commercial activity that followed the Belgic invasion. Besides the bronze-mounted bucket, already mentioned, the Aylesford cemetery yielded a bronze flagon, which had been made in Northern Italy:1012 an elegant Graeco-Italian two-handled cup of black glazed earthenware with white foliated ornament encircling its inner margin was discovered in the rick-yard of the Manor Farm at Dorchester in Oxfordshire;1013 while the Marlborough bucket is adorned with figures of sea-horses which are common on Gallic coins of the neighbourhood of Rennes, and which warrant the conjecture that it was imported from North-Western Gaul,1014 perhaps in one of the vessels that plied between the Loire and Ictis. What else besides tin the Britons in the days of their independence exported in return for such articles we do not know; but in a later chapter we shall see that a long list of their exports and imports was compiled by Strabo.1015 The carrying-trade was for the most part in the hands of Gallic ship-owners; but some cargoes were perhaps loaded in British bottoms. The British envoys who presented themselves in Caesar’s camp in 55 B.C. may indeed have crossed the Channel in a Gallic merchantman, and so may the hostages who were sent to him after his first invasion of Britain; but it is unlikely that the maritime Belgic tribes, who must 247 British ships and coracles. have set out from Gaul in ships of their own, built none after they had settled in Britain, or that the numerous British adventurers who reinforced Caesar’s Gallic enemies depended for their transport upon the latter. The only British vessels, however, which are expressly mentioned by our authorities were light coracles of lath covered with hides, which Caesar observed when he was in Kent and afterwards copied when he was fighting in Spain against Pompey’s lieutenants,1016 and which are still used by Irish fishermen off the coast of Connaught.1017 These boats were doubtless employed in coastal navigation and on inland waterways; but much of the intertribal traffic must have been carried on along trackways, Trackways. which are still traceable, and the prehistoric antiquity of which is proved by their association with hill-forts. Most of them, like the Pilgrim’s Way, which is known to all who have tramped the high grounds of Surrey and Kent, ran along ridges or the slopes of downs which were generally unencumbered by forest or morass. If their origin could be traced, we should find that they were formed by the earliest settlers who felt the need of communication, along the lines of least resistance which nomadic hunters had followed when they passed from one temporary settlement to another;1018 and doubtless attempts were made to render them more suitable for wheeled traction when the Cornish miners began to convey their tin in wagons to the coast, and the invaders of the Iron Age brought their chariots from Gaul. Even then, 248 however, wheel-less vehicles, like those which Sir Arthur Mitchell noticed a few years ago in Strathglass and Kintail, must have been used for carting timber down steep hills or over heaths where no wheeled carriage could have moved.1019


Foreign commerce as well as domestic trade were greatly stimulated by the introduction of coinage and by the development of a ruder form of currency. Towards the end of the fourth century before the Christian era the Greeks of Massilia had introduced into Gaul gold coins of Philip of Macedon, which bore on the obverse a representation of the head of Apollo wreathed in laurel, and on the reverse a charioteer driving a pair of horses with the name Philippos stamped underneath. On these coins the Gallic coinage was modelled, and the British coinage was derived mainly from that of Gaul or through Gaul from a Macedonian stater; for certain peculiarities are noticeable on our earliest coins which distinguish them from those of Gaul.1020 Evidently a considerable time must have elapsed before the new art travelled from Southern to Northern Gaul, and again before it crossed the Channel; and it is only natural to find that the oldest and heaviest British coins weigh no more than a hundred and twenty grains, or thirteen grains lighter than the Philippus, although, on the other hand, they are heavier than Gallic coins which belong to the latter half of the second century before Christ.1021 Until about a quarter of a century after Caesar’s invasion the British coins were uninscribed: indeed uninscribed coins were still current during the earlier years of the Roman 249 occupation.1022 Their weight gradually diminished; and gradually, owing to successive copying, the head of Apollo and his wreath, the charioteer, the chariot, and the horses became more and more conventionalized and degraded, the head in certain cases passing ultimately into a cruciform pattern or even into a four-leaved flower, the charioteer being evolved into pellets, and the pair of horses becoming first one, then more and more grotesque until it lost all resemblance to a quadruped. Die-sinkers (who were doubtless few) would use the same dies or follow the same general type during their working career; and new types appeared when their successors came to engrave new dies. By estimating the time which would have been required for these successive alterations, it has been calculated that the earliest British coins must have been struck about a hundred and fifty or perhaps two hundred years before the birth of Christ.1023

For many years the only coins of Britain were gold of two values, the smaller being a quarter of the weight of the larger;1024 and it may be gathered from the testimony of Strabo1025 and Tacitus1026 that they were made, at all events in part, from metal extracted from the alluvial deposits of the Cornish peninsula. Coins of silver, bronze, and even tin were afterwards circulated, but probably not before the era of redoubled commercial activity which began when the British islands became more closely connected with the Continent in consequence of Caesar’s invasion: indeed many of the silver coins are little earlier than the time of Claudius.1027 Specimens of all these metals are much scarcer than those of gold. Only two British tin coins are known to exist; and in the western counties no bronze coin has ever been found.1028

Specimens of the prototype of British gold coins have been found more frequently in Kent than in any other 250 county; and it may be inferred that, as might have been expected, they were first struck in the more civilized district which was nearest to the Continent.1029 For a long period indeed the gold currency was confined to the southern and eastern districts: before Caesar’s time there is no evidence that any tribes coined money except those whose territories lay south of a line drawn from the Wash to the Bristol Channel; and even from these the peoples of Gloucestershire, Northern Somersetshire, and Northern Wiltshire must probably be excluded.1030 Uninscribed coins have indeed occurred as far north as Yorkshire,1031 and as far west as Cornwall;1032 but they had found their way thither from other tribes.1033

Many coins of British origin which have been discovered in France, especially in the Belgic territory,1034 and many Gallic coins in South-Eastern Britain, bear further witness to the development of international trade.1035

Iron currency bars.

But coins were not the only medium of exchange. Caesar, in his description of the manners and customs of the Britons, remarked that some of them made use of iron bars of specified weights as a substitute for coins.1036 Until a very recent period antiquaries were waiting for some lucky find which might corroborate the accuracy of Caesar’s statement, not knowing that the evidence was before their eyes and only 251 needed interpretation. Within the last eighty years a large number of iron bars have been unearthed in Berkshire, Northamptonshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Somersetshire, Dorsetshire, Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight. Many of them were found on well-known sites of the Early Iron Age, such as the lake-village of Glastonbury, and the forts of Hod Hill and Spettisbury; and some of the hoards comprised very numerous specimens—amounting in two cases to about one hundred and fifty, and in a third to three hundred and ninety-four—which had been buried deep in the ground. A tiro might take them for swords; but to the experts who compare them with the known swords of the Late Celtic Period it is evident that they contain too much metal; and, moreover, they may be arranged, according to their weight, in three groups, the heaviest being twice as valuable as the intermediate, and four times as valuable as the lightest. Not a single specimen has come to light in the eastern and south-eastern counties, in which coins are most abundant.1037


The British iron-mines of which Caesar speaks were situated in the Wealden Forest; and although they were not finally abandoned before the nineteenth century, it is probable that some of the pits which mark the site of the works were excavated by British miners.1038 But the iron from which some of the currency-bars were wrought was obtained, in the opinion of an eminent metallurgist, from the Forest of Dean,1039 and, as we shall presently see,1040 those which were found in Northamptonshire may have been manufactured on the spot. Mining indeed was one of the principal industries of Britain. Tin was still exported, if not in About 100 B.C. Caesar’s time, at least as late as that of Posidonius;1041 copper was still needed for bronze ornaments, horse-trappings, 252 sword-sheaths, and other objects, and indeed in certain districts for cutting-tools;1042 and although the numerous ‘pigs’ of lead which have been found in Staffordshire and Cheshire belong to the time of the Empire, the discovery of leaden celts and sword-pommels of the Bronze Age1043 raises the presumption that the mines of those districts, of the Mendip Hills, Flintshire, and the neighbourhood of Matlock may have been worked even by the Britons.1044

Looking at all these tokens of industrial enterprise, one is prepared to find evidences of increased comfort and more Agriculture. settled conditions of life. Since the Bronze Age agriculture had undoubtedly made a notable advance. It is impossible to tell whether the Britons, like the Gauls, recognized private property in land;1045 but archaeology has furnished abundant evidence, which confirms Caesar’s statement, that at all 253 events in the south-eastern districts corn was grown in plenty. When he made his first expedition to Britain, his army, numbering at least twelve thousand men, reaped enough wheat in the near neighbourhood of Walmer to supply its wants for a fortnight or more; while in the following year he requisitioned from the people of Essex grain for four legions with their auxiliaries and seventeen hundred cavalry, which was delivered within a few days.1046 An iron sickle and a ploughshare found in Bigbury camp near Canterbury;1047 traces of terrace cultivation on the Sussex downs;1048 grain of several kinds stored in Worlebury Fort, in the Glastonbury lake-village, and in Hunsbury, where also were found fragments of stone querns in such profusion that every family may well have possessed its own, bear witness to the industry of the British farmers.1049 So also perhaps do the famous dene-holes of Kent, Essex, and Norfolk, whose purpose has been a theme of voluminous controversy, but of which the most satisfactory explanation seems to be that they were for the most part subterranean granaries, which may have been used as refuges in time of danger, and that the chalk extracted in the process of excavation was used, as Pliny says, for manuring fields.1050 Under the necessity of cultivating fresh land considerable progress must have been made in clearing the forests; and axes, saws, and bill-hooks, with which the woodmen worked, are still to be seen.1051 It is true that even in the more civilized south the great Wealden Forest, in which swine, guarded by fierce dogs, fed secure among wolves and foxes, badgers, and deer, still extended beyond the chalk downs from the neighbourhood of West 254 Hythe to the eastern border of Hampshire, reached northward as far as Sevenoaks, and skirted the Surrey Hills; while great parts of Essex were overgrown with wood; another forest overshadowed the valley of the Kennet from Hungerford to Windsor; and the Isle of Ely was surrounded by broad meres, swelled by the heavier rains which fell in those days.1052 But even in Essex much timber must have been removed to make room for the cornfields from which the Trinovantes supplied Caesar’s legions, and in Kent to form the denes in which cattle grazed; while of those myriad homesteads which Caesar passed on his devastating march not a few must have been built upon reclaimed land.

Dwellings of the rich.

The researches of the eminent scholar who has so greatly enlarged our knowledge of Roman Britain have led him to suggest that among these homesteads there may have been, besides the round Celtic huts, dwellings, belonging to the rich, which might almost be described as country houses. Under Roman administration the rural parts of Britain, as of Northern Gaul, were parcelled into estates, the owners of which let out the greater part to cultivators who were in a state of semi-serfdom, while their demesne lands were tilled by slaves. The houses belong to two types, known as the Corridor type and the Courtyard type, neither of which exists anywhere save in Britain and the north of Gaul. The corridor house consisted of a row of rooms with a passage running along them: the other of three such rows, which formed three sides of a quadrangle. Since there is little resemblance between either of these types and those of Italy, it may be assumed that the extant examples of both, although they had been made luxurious by Roman mosaics and hypocausts and baths, were but modified representatives of the chieftains’ houses which Caesar saw.1053


Nor were petty hamlets and isolated cottages the only places of abode. Town-life was beginning to emerge. The 255 Britons, like the Gauls, had large fortified villages, which afterwards gave place to the flourishing Romano-British towns whose secrets are being revealed by pick and shovel. Camulodunum, or Colchester, the chief town of the Trinovantes, and Verulamium, hard by St. Albans, the chief town of the Catuvellauni, each of which had its mint before the Roman conquest, were doubtless tribal centres before Caesar came.1054 So too, probably, was Corinium, the capital of the Dobuni, which stood upon the site of Cirencester;1055 and Calleva, now Silchester, the excavation of which has been pursued for many years with illuminating results, was surrounded by a rampart which had evidently defended the capital of the Atrebates in pre-Roman times.1056 London, which, if we may trust Ptolemy,1057 was in the territory of the Cantii, was probably not less ancient; for Augusta, the name which Roman officialism endeavoured to impose upon it, was unable to resist the vitality of the Celtic appellation.1058 Imaginative historians have pictured British London in the midst of a vast lagoon;1059 but although the site of Westminster Abbey was an island surrounded by a marsh, and the Walbrook, where it flowed into the Thames, was little less than a hundred yards in width, it was proved during the construction of a sewer in London Wall that the land on the north side of the city had in Roman times been as dry as it is to-day.1060


The tribal capitals were of course fortified; but the old hill strongholds of the Neolithic Age and the Bronze Age had not been abandoned; and new ones were doubtless constructed as occasion required. Among those that have yielded remains of the Late Celtic Period the most famous are Worlebury, which crowns a headland just north of Weston-super-mare; Hod Hill, which rises sheer above the 256 valley of the Stour, four miles north-west of Blandford; Bigbury Camp, through which runs the Pilgrim’s Way; and Winkelbury Camp in South Wiltshire, Mount Caburn, overhanging Lewes, and Cissbury Camp, already mentioned for its neolithic factory, which have been excavated by General Pitt-Rivers. Worlebury is the most remarkable of the few stone forts in the west of England. Unlike the great earthworks it has no ditch, because it needed none; and on its northern side a limestone precipice rendered fortification superfluous. The rampart is a vast wall, compacted with rubble and faced on either side with dry masonry; and, to prevent an enemy from demolishing it, the outer face was buttressed by heaps of loose stones. Many of the modern walls in the neighbourhood of the fortress are indistinguishable from it in structure.1061 At Winkelbury large openings were left in that part of the rampart which is contiguous to the plain, probably to enable cattle to be driven in rapidly when marauders were near; while another rampart, which bisects the camp, may have been designed to separate the cattle-pound from the quarters of the garrison.1062 Cissbury, the principal fort on the Sussex Downs, was one of the few British strongholds which appear to have had access to a permanent supply of water: about a mile and a half off, at a place called Broadwater, is a spring, abundant enough for an army, which is connected by a trackway with the southern entrance.1063 The most characteristic feature of Mount Caburn is the number of pits which, as at Worlebury, are contained within its area. In both camps these pits are so small that they could not have been ordinarily inhabited, although, during a siege, they might have afforded shelter: probably they were used as store-rooms, for some of them contained corn.1064 Dwellings, however, were connected with them; for the remains of a clay wall were discovered on 257 Mount Caburn, impressed with marks of wattle-work; and it may be inferred that many such huts, which have left no trace, once existed within the ramparts.1065 Bigbury was probably one of the entrenchments of which Caesar was thinking when he said that ‘the Britons apply the term fortress to woods difficult of access and fortified with rampart and trench in which they are in the habit of taking refuge from a hostile raid’.1066 The familiar sentence was a stumbling-block to Pitt-Rivers; for, as we have seen, the British forts were as a rule constructed upon treeless heights, and the presence of trees upon the slopes would have been incompatible with the designs of the engineers: but Caesar’s observations must of course be accepted; and we can only suppose that the entrenchments which he described were exceptional even in the region which was the theatre of his campaign.1067 May we conjecture that they had been erected in the Iron Age by Celtic immigrants, and that their lack of finish was due to the lazy shrinking from the hard labour of fortification which Caesar regarded as characteristic of the Gauls?1068

The fort of Pen-y-Gaer, which overlooks the valley of the Conway, is remarkable as an almost unique specimen of ancient military engineering. A storming-party which had succeeded in passing the two outer ditches would have fallen, in attempting the next, under the missiles that showered from the rampart, on to chevaux de frise of pointed stones.1069

Some permanently inhabited.

The relics that have been collected from the hill-forts of the Iron Age prove that the forts themselves, like those of Gaul, were not merely places of refuge but permanent abodes. Those that were situated on heights extremely difficult of access or remote from water were of course very sparsely inhabited in time of peace; but others were analogous to 258 the Gallic fortresses which Caesar called oppida, and which were evidently distinct from the refuges, such as Aduatuca, which he designated as castella.1070 Pottery, it is true, would have been indispensable even during a few days’ siege; and the stone lamp, resembling that of Grimes’s Graves,1071 and blackened by use, which was recovered from Castle Law in Perthshire,1072 might well have been needed at such a time. But when we find bill-hooks, ploughshares, bridle-bits, and fragments of querns among the objects that had been left in the forts which have been mentioned, it is clear that they were occupied by an industrial population: iron slag, which lay among the deposits on Hod Hill, was evidence of metallurgy; while the loom-weights which were collected on the same spot, the bone weaving-combs of Cissbury and Mount Caburn, and the spindle-whorls which abounded not only in these comparatively civilized settlements but also in a stone fortress on far St. David’s Head show that among the inhabitants were women who pursued their ordinary domestic avocations.1073 This Welsh stronghold was almost identical in construction with Carn Brea,1074 and the hut-circles which the two contain are exactly alike; yet the time which had elapsed since the Cornish ramparts were thrown up was as long as that which separates us from Alfred the Great.1075

Although many of the Scottish forts can be referred to the Early Iron Age, it would perhaps be impossible to prove that the relics found in any of them were earlier than the time of Caesar’s invasion;1076 but two have an interest of their own as being the only examples that have yet been observed in Britain of fortifications constructed, like the Gallic walls 259 which he described,1077 conjointly of timber and stone. In one of them, situated at Burghead near Elgin, wooden logs were actually discovered in the stone walls;1078 while at Castle Law, which stands upon a hill commanding a view over the Tay, as it winds through the carse on the west and loses itself in its eastern estuary, the outer face of the wall contained rectangular openings, which had manifestly been designed for the reception of beams.1079


While the hill-forts were probably only inhabited permanently by comparatively small numbers, and, like Gergovia, the mountain-city of Auvergne, where Vercingetorix defeated Caesar, may have sheltered thousands of fugitives in time of need, one stronghold at least of the other group was a town in the strictest sense of the word. Hunsbury, the most celebrated representative of this class, which 260 stands upon high ground about two miles south-west of Northampton, might never have surrendered its precious relics if the iron ore which was known to underlie the site had not attracted the prospector. About thirty years ago a company was formed to win the iron; and navvies accidentally did the work which would have been better performed under scientific direction. Hunsbury is so small that it could hardly have been a tribal centre: the entrenchment encloses only four acres,—less than the twelfth part of the area of Hod Hill. Not the faintest trace of Roman influence could be detected among the remains, which are now arranged in the Northampton Museum; and the experts who examined them concluded that they belonged to the time of Caesar’s invasion. They were found in pits, resembling those of Mount Caburn, about three hundred of which had been dug inside the rampart; and here too there was evidence that the dwellings had been huts of wattle-work. The townspeople were well armed: they kept horses and chariots, wove their own cloth, sawed their own timber, made their own earthenware, and grew their own corn; and heaps of slag showed that they had smelted the ore, which lay thenceforward undisturbed for nineteen hundred years.1080 One of several skulls which were found just outside the town was perforated with three holes, which suggest that the British Celts, like the Gauls and their neolithic predecessors, made amulets out of the remains of their own dead.1081

Inhabited caves; pit-dwellings; ‘Picts’ houses’; beehive houses; and brochs.

But perhaps not many British settlements were of this 261 comparatively advanced type. In the Late Celtic Period, and indeed long after its close, caves were still inhabited, as throughout the prehistoric ages, in some cases by outlaws, who made a precarious livelihood by robbing wealthy travellers.1082 Pit-dwellings in small groups, which apparently differed little from those of the Neolithic Age, have been found stored with Late Celtic relics;1083 and doubtless it was from habitations of this class that the thatched huts of mud and wattle-work which Strabo1084 describes, and the remains of which have been already noticed, were evolved. Such cottages, as Caesar1085 testifies, were much the same in Gaul and Britain. Posidonius was made welcome in them when he travelled in Gaul. He tells us how his hosts, seated on straw round low tables, took their meat in their fingers and tore it like lions or chopped it in pieces with their pocket-knives, and washed it down with draughts of beer from earthenware or silver beakers; how the meal was sometimes interrupted by a quarrel, when the disputants sprang to their feet and fought till one was slain.1086 In the far north and in the Cornish peninsula men lived in underground dwellings, commonly called ‘Picts’ houses’, which generally consisted of a paved trench lined with dry masonry, roofed over with slabs, and terminating in a round chamber; while in some Scottish examples rooms were grouped on both sides of the gallery.1087 Related to these structures are the 262 Scottish mound-dwellings or bee-hive houses, specimens of which in the island of Lewis were still inhabited in the nineteenth century. They may be looked for in places such as the Hebrides, where branches large enough to form roofs like those of pit-dwellings were not to be had. In some a central chamber was connected with others which opened out of it: a hole, which could be closed at will, was left in the roof for the escape of smoke; the chinks between the stones were stuffed with grass or moss; and the roof was covered with turf, which adhered to the interstices and made the structure compact. It is impossible to assign a precise date to these huts. Some of them contained querns and were certainly occupied in the time of the Romans; but probably many had been built before, while others are comparatively modern.1088 The most elaborate buildings of this type were the brochs, whose range extends from the Orkney and Shetland Isles, which contain nearly a hundred and fifty, to Berwickshire, but which do not exist outside the Scottish area. These buildings, which were really small forts, represent the art of dry-walling at its zenith. They were round towers about sixty feet high and fifty feet in diameter. If an enemy succeeded in forcing a way in, he found himself in an inner court open to the sky and enclosed by a commanding wall, pierced by numerous apertures, which formed the windows of encircling galleries, from behind which the defenders were prepared to shoot.1089 The relics which have been found in them belong for the most part to the close of the Roman occupation and even later; but some which have been excavated in Caithness contained painted pebbles like 263 those of the late palaeolithic cavern of Mas d’Azil; and it is possible that they may have existed in pre-Roman times.1090

The Glastonbury marsh-village.

The most interesting, however, of all the Late Celtic settlements is the far-famed marsh-village of Glastonbury. Besides those of Holderness, which have been already mentioned, there are several lake-dwellings in Great Britain which belonged to the Early Iron Age; but almost all seem to have been built after the commencement of the Christian era.1091 Glastonbury, on the other hand, was first inhabited more than two centuries before the Roman conquest. The peat-moor on which it stands was then surrounded by a shallow mere, and is now covered by low circular mounds which mark the positions of the former huts. Timber and brushwood, surmounted by layers of clay and stones, were laid upon the peat to serve as foundations, and retained in 264 place by piles fixed round their margins. The huts were then built of wood, filled in with wattle and daub; and the entire village was protected by a palisade. The foundations were, however, so unstable that they gradually sank; and in order to keep the floors dry, fresh timber and clay were periodically added. When this was done, the old hearth-stones were left undisturbed; and their presence attests the construction of the successive floors. Among the numerous relics which excavation has revealed, and which prove that skilled agriculturists, potters, weavers, wood-carvers, and coopers lived in the village, there is hardly a single weapon: the sling-bullets evidently served only for killing game. Dozens of coloured pebbles, similar to others which have been found on Hod Hill, were perhaps used in some indoor game;1092 and the spur of a cock may suggest to those who remember that the Britons thought it impious to eat poultry that the pastime for which, as Caesar says, the birds were reared was cockfighting.1093 It is hardly necessary to mention the weaving-combs, the spindle-whorls, the querns, the harness-buckles, and the other objects which are common in Late Celtic settlements, though it is curious that the bridle-bits were made of deer-horn; but the explorers were astonished to find a bronze mirror, tweezers, rouge, and other exotic objects, which showed that continental luxury had invaded this remote region.1094


The arts of the toilet had indeed been elaborated not only in the more civilized south but even in places which, like the Yorkshire Wolds, had no direct communication with foreign lands.1095 The tunics, the cloaks which men and women alike wore, fastened on the right shoulder with a brooch, the breeches which were common to Brythonic Celts in Britain and Gaul, and the use of which seems to have been 265 borrowed by the Continental Celts from the Scythians,1096 the kilts which, as we may perhaps infer from stone monuments,1097 were the national garb of the Goidels, were made, like the modern tartan, of many-coloured cloths; while the men whom Caesar encountered, although, like the Gauls, they wore their hair long, and cultivated moustaches, carefully shaved the rest of their faces and even their bodies.1098 The chieftain driving his chariot, his brilliant cloak clasped by a coral-studded brooch, his sword clanking in its decorated scabbard, his bronze shield gleaming like gold and adorned with enamel, his horses’ bridle-bits showing enamelled cheek-pieces, and their harness jingling with open-work bronze ornaments,1099 was perhaps only a splendid barbarian; but his weapons and his trappings were not mere products of a factory:—they were true works of art.

Fig. 43. ½

Reading and writing.

Nor indeed are indications wanting that Britons of the upper class—not Druids only—had some tincture of letters. The Druids of Gaul, and presumably also of Britain, used Greek characters in official documents and private correspondence.1100 Diodorus1101 affirms that it was common among the Gauls to throw letters, addressed to the dead, on to the funeral pile. The Romans, after they had defeated the 266 Helvetii, found in their encampment a schedule, on which were recorded in Greek characters the numbers of the armed men, the women, and the children who had migrated into Gaul.1102 A few years later, when Caesar was marching through the territory of a Belgic tribe to relieve a besieged camp commanded by Quintus Cicero, he wrote him a letter in Greek characters—possibly in Greek1103—which he entrusted to a Gallic trooper. Unless he made his interpreter write the letter in Celtic, he evidently had reason to fear that, if it were intercepted, some of the Belgae would be able to read the Latin; in any case that some of them knew how to read. Is it not reasonable to infer that a British Belgian here and there was as good a scholar as his kinsmen over the water? At all events the British inscribed coins, the earlier of which at least must have been the work of native die-sinkers, are evidence that before the birth of Christ there were Britons who had mastered the art of writing, and had even acquired some slight knowledge of Latin.1104 But the origins of Celtic literature, sacred and profane, were of course purely oral. Bards, who were apparently Druids of an inferior grade, sat at the tables of the great; accompanied them with their harps to festivals; sang their praises and satirized their enemies; and recited poems in honour of valiant warriors who had fallen in battle.1105

Inequalities in culture.

It must not, however, be supposed that the same level of culture had been attained in every part of the island. The Scottish specimens of Late Celtic workmanship are for the most part later than the Claudian conquest;1106 and it is probable that in outlying districts even of England and Wales iron tools in pre-Roman times were rare or unknown. No objects of the Early Iron Age which are regarded as purely 267 British have been found in Lancashire;1107 and even on Cranborne Chase, where one might have expected that continental improvements would have been adopted at least as early as in the far western settlement at Glastonbury, the searching exploration of Pitt-Rivers could detect no signs of any interval between the Bronze Age and the period of the Roman occupation.1108 Indeed the association of late bronze implements and weapons with iron harness-rings and bridle-bits at Hagbourne Hill1109 suggests that some of the deposits which are assigned to the Bronze Age may have belonged either to a period of transition or even to the time when, in South-Eastern Britain, the use of iron was universal.1110 Readers of the Commentaries would see nothing surprising in this. Caesar was told that the people of the interior for the most part did not grow corn, but lived on milk and flesh-meat and clothed themselves in skins.1111 This information was somewhat misleading; for remains of four different kinds of corn were counted at Hunsbury; and since cloth and linen were worn in Yorkshire by the well-to-do even in the Bronze Age,1112 it is not to be supposed that their successors had lost the arts of spinning and weaving. Still, Caesar’s statement points to an ascertained truth. It has been well observed that the western and northern uplands held out far longer against the Roman conquest than the central, eastern, and southern lowlands, and that they were never really Romanized 268 at all.1113 From the earliest times their inhabitants had been less open to continental and civilizing influences; and one of the gifts which Nature had bestowed upon Britain was that the regions more accessible from over sea were also more fitted to sustain an industrial population.1114 Later on, however, we shall find reason, in the juxtaposition of old and new sepulchral rites, to believe that even in Kent such influences had not prevented the survival of the earlier culture.1115

Intertribal war and political development.

Moreover, notwithstanding the progress in material civilization, intertribal fighting was of course still frequent even in the south, and even after the Belgic tribes had settled down in the territories which their swords had won, and established themselves as the dominant people of Britain. Both Caesar1116 and Tacitus1117 spoke of these wars; but if they had been silent, the numerous strongholds which were still occupied, permanently, or as occasion required, the weapons that have been found in them, the beach-rolled pebbles, the round chipped flints, and the bullets of baked clay which lie heaped in and near them would tell the same tale;1118 nor indeed is it 269 necessary to insist upon a fact which is universal in the stage of culture in which the Britons then were. What is worthy of remark is that war was probably entered upon from motives other than those which had caused the struggles of earlier ages. Raids were no doubt still undertaken, especially in the poorer and less settled districts, by mere plunderers and cattle-lifters. But clans were tending to become welded, not only by the voluntary combination which was necessary for defence, but also perhaps by the sword of the ambitious captain, into the larger communities which Caesar called civitates1119; and successful chiefs were assuming the state of petty kings. As trade increased, and with it wealth, the king of a tribe which was fortunately situated would seize opportunities of acquiring dominion or overlordship over others. Though forest or mountain or fen might enable even small tribes to hold their own, and though the success of a strong king might not endure, it is possible, as we shall see, to discern in Caesar’s memoirs signs that attempts were already being made to achieve such sovereignty as might eventually lead towards political union, and we may suppose that in Britain also there were astute princes who, like the Aeduan Dumnorix, saw that they could strengthen their position by diplomacy or marriage.1120

Instances of female sovereignty: the condition of women.

We all learned in childhood that the Britons admitted the sovereignty of women. In the middle of the first century Cartismandua was queen of the Brigantes;1121 and a few years later, when the Iceni revolted against Rome, their general was Boudicca, who is better known by the barbarous misnomer of Boadicea.1122 The Gauls may have had the same institution; and perhaps it would hardly be worth noticing if it were not apparently inconsistent with what Caesar tells us about the status of Gallic wives. They were indeed permitted to own property. The bride brought a dowry to her husband; but he was obliged to add an equivalent 270 from his own estate and to administer the whole as a joint possession, which, with its accumulated increments, went to the survivor.1123 On the other hand, the husband had the power of life and death over his wife1124 as well as his children; and when a man of rank died his relations, if they had any suspicion of foul play, examined his wife, like a slave, by torture, and, if they found her guilty, condemned her to perish in the flames of the funeral pyre.1125

Political and social conditions of Britain and Gaul compared.

When we try to form an idea of the political and the social conditions of Britain in the later days of its independence, we naturally turn to Caesar’s account of Gaul in the hope of supplementing the scanty and scattered scraps of information which he has left about the country which was less known to him. We must, however, bear in mind that Britain had not yet come under the two currents of influence, German and Roman, which had profoundly affected Gaul, and in some measure prepared it to accept Roman dominion; and also that even the south-east was in a more rudimentary stage than the neighbouring country, though perhaps not more than the backward parts of Belgic Gaul.

When Caesar came to Gaul, revolutionary forces were at work to which there are analogies in the earlier history of Greece and Rome. Many of the states had expelled their kings, whose authority had passed in some cases into the hands of annually elected magistrates, while in others perhaps the council of elders kept the government to itself. But these oligarchies were never long secure. The magistrates were fettered by rules, jealously framed, which weakened their executive power. Like the Tarquins, the banished kings or their descendants looked out for opportunities, which Caesar’s policy offered to them, of regaining their position; 271 while eloquent nobles who had contrived to amass wealth summoned their retainers, hired mercenaries, surrounded themselves with desperadoes or with the discontented poor, whose grievances they promised to redress, and occasionally succeeded, like Pisistratus of Athens, in making themselves tyrants. Celtillus, the father of the great Vercingetorix, had acquired a kind of supremacy over the whole of Celtican Gaul; but he was dogged by the jealousy of his brother nobles, who put him to death on the charge of plotting to revive the kingship. Monarchy and oligarchy had each their partisans: everywhere there were adventurers who hoped to make their way to fortune by Roman aid, while others, eager to oust their rivals, were ready to welcome German invaders; and thus every state, every clan, every hamlet, nay, every household was riven by faction.1126 But in Britain there is no sign that either oligarchy or tyranny had yet anywhere supplanted monarchy. Still, there were doubtless many points of resemblance. We may suppose that in Britain, as in Gaul, the tribal king was assisted by a council of elders; that the British, like the Gallic nobles, had their devoted retainers and perhaps also dependents who had fallen into their debt;1127 that only those who became their dependents could expect protection, and that only those lords who were strong enough to protect could count upon obedience. In Britain too we may be sure that the masses were in the state of semi-serfdom which Caesar regarded as the condition of the Gallic populace; and that political power was monopolized by the nobles and the Druids.


But, besides improved communication, developed commerce, and constant intercourse with their Continental kinsmen, there were other forces making slowly and feebly for unity,—common religious ideas and, to some extent, common ecclesiastical organization. On the other hand we may suppose that the religious union which existed together with much diversity was an effect as well as a cause of political association: when clans found it expedient to combine, the similar deities of each, which the others had before 272 regarded with hatred and jealousy, would tend to become fused, while those which were peculiar would be worshipped still.1128 Old superstitions of course continued to flourish side by side with those which the Celtic invaders had brought with them. The spirits of springs, of lakes, of rivers, of mountains, and of woods—of every weird and awesome dell, or cavern, or rock—were worshipped in the Iron Age as they had been for centuries before, and as they continued to be after what was called Christianity had become the official creed.1129 The Dea Arduinna who hovered over the forest of the Ardennes and Abnoba, the goddess of the Black Forest, had their counterparts in Britain. These deities, however, may have been comparatively recent; for the conception of a god whose realm was a forest was of course later than that of the spirit of a single tree.1130 Even the terror that impelled the pristine savage to propitiate demons was not yet dead: near Newcastle-on-Tyne was erected by some Roman or Romanized Briton an inscription Lamiis tribus—‘to the Witches three’—who, it has been truly said, ‘were doubtless as British as the witches in Macbeth’.1131 But the cult of wood and water and the dread of devils are common to all primitive peoples and to the ignorant among many who are called civilized;1132 and such survivals in Celtic Britain may well have been common to the pre-Celtic population and to the Celts who conquered them. Moreover, it is likely enough that the greater gods whom the Celts worshipped and who, variously imagined and with various names, were the common heritage of the Aryan-speaking peoples, were in part descended from deities who were not Aryan, and were adored in Britain in a somewhat different spirit before the first Celt landed on the Kentish shore.1133 273

What do we know about those gods? The Celts were the first inhabitants of Britain about whose religious views definite information has been handed down to us, as distinct from what we may infer from sepulchral discoveries and from ethnography; but it is hardly an exaggeration to say that of the spirit of their religion we know little more than of that of the people who built the chambered tombs. Some five-and-twenty writers, from Timaeus, who wrote three centuries before the birth of Christ, to Ammianus Marcellinus, who was contemporary with Julian and Valens, have contributed to our knowledge; but most of them have left only a few sentences derived from hearsay or from nameless authorities of whose credibility we know nothing. They wrote of Celts who lived in widely distant countries, among various populations, and at different epochs; and very few of them referred to the Celts of Britain.1134 Supposing that official Christianity were to become extinct, what could the historian of the fifth millennium learn of the manifold doctrines preached by English clergymen if he were obliged to extract his materials from passages referring to mediaeval Catholicism, Calvinism, Methodism, or the orthodox faith which thinly disguises the Shamanism of Russia, and scattered in the works of writers who began with à Kempis and ended with Spurgeon? Coins, Gallic and British, in so far as they are not merely imitative, appear to be fraught with religious symbolism; but the ingenuity which has spent itself in the effort to explain the symbols has yielded little certain result.1135 Geographical names testify to the cult of various gods without telling us anything of their attributes; and sometimes we may fancy that we can detect the presence of divinity when we have only to do with the name of a Roman gens.1136 Inscriptions and altars supply names of 274 deities which are names and nothing more, or bewilder us by coupling as surnames with the name of a Roman god a multiplicity of Celtic gods. Anonymous statues are attributed to divers deities by divers archaeologists, though some of them may not be deities at all. Inscriptions, altars, and statues alike belong to the period of the Roman Empire, when the introduction of Roman gods and goddesses had thrown the Celtic pantheon into wellnigh inextricable confusion; and the monuments of Britain, for the most part, were apparently the outcome of the devotion either of Romans or of Gallic, Batavian, Dacian, and other officers of auxiliaries. Nor can we tell how far British religious ideas had become estranged from those of Gaul by contact with aboriginal cults, or how far the religion of the British Goidels (if indeed they existed) differed from that of the Brythons. If we turn to the Mabinogion, to the Triads, or to Irish mythology, we are checked by the reflection, which our foremost Celticist was forced to make even while he was fascinated by the quest, that ‘the gulf of ages’ separates ‘the literature of the Celtic nations of the present day from the narrative of the writers of antiquity and the testimony of the stones’.1137

Cannot then Caesar help us? His evidence is of course valuable; but he did not write for the modern student of religion. Disregarding minor and local deities, perhaps ignorant of their existence, he recorded the names and summarized the attributes of the five principal Gallic gods; but,—the names are Roman. Mercury—the inventor of all arts, the pioneer of communication, the patron of commerce—was the most reverenced of all:1138 275 then follow the names of Apollo, Mars, Jupiter, and Minerva.1139

Now we do not know from whom Caesar derived his information; but assume that it came from the best authority, his friend and political agent, the Aeduan Druid, Diviciacus, who was also an honoured guest of Cicero.1140 Then Caesar was in the position not of Lafcadio Hearn, who made his home in Japan, gave his life to the study of all things Japanese, and at last confessed that the more he tried to learn the more he realized his ignorance; not of Sir Alfred Lyall, who, prepared by discriminative reading, devoted all the time that he could command to the observation of Oriental creeds; but of some Anglo-Indian administrator who, in his scanty leisure, should jot down the heads of a conversation with a Brahmin, and offer them as an outline of Hindu religion. Only the Anglo-Indian could speak Hindustani; and Caesar was obliged to employ an interpreter. One of the most learned and sane of modern Celtic scholars has related that when the musician, Félicien David, was invited at Cairo by the viceroy to instruct his wives, etiquette compelled him to give the lessons to a eunuch, who passed them on as best he could.1141 Caesar, he remarks, was in the position of the eunuch. And if we could certainly identify the five great Roman gods with their Gallic counterparts, how much more of Celtic religion should we know?

But let us learn what we can. Celtic religion, in so far as it was descended from the religion of the undivided Aryan stock, was fundamentally one with the religions of Italy and Greece; and we might expect that it would resemble most closely the religion of the Italians, to whose tongue Celtic 276 was most nearly akin. But our imperfect knowledge of the classical religions hardly helps us more to understand the religion of the Celts than the remark of Caesar, that about their deities ‘they have much the same notions as the rest of mankind’.1142 For the religion of Rome had been deeply tinged by contact with the Etruscans and the Greeks, just as the religion of the Celts had been affected by their fusion with the aboriginal peoples of Central Europe, Gaul, Spain, and Britain; and the Celts were in a less advanced state of civilization than the Romans. What is certain is that, like every other polytheistic religion, that of the Celts, except perhaps in so far as it was moulded by Druidical doctrine, had no definite theology, but was an ever-expanding, ever-shifting, formless chaos,—the same in its main developments in Britain, Gaul, and Spain, yet differing in every tribe and household, and in every age;1143 that, on its practical side, it was a performance of traditional rites; that its aim was not the salvation of souls, but the safety of the state; and that it concerned the individual most as a member of a family, a community, or a tribe.1144 Like all other polytheists too the Celts were ready to believe in gods who were not theirs: in the reign of Tiberius the boatmen of Paris set up an altar on which, side by side with their own Esus and Tarvos Trigaranus, were figured Jupiter and Vulcan.1145 The theory, which has been defended with vast if somewhat uncritical erudition, that the king was regarded as an incarnation of the sky-god, may possibly be true both of the Celts and of other Indo-European peoples.1146 Perhaps the Celts, like the Romans, gave more thought to the ritual by which their gods might be persuaded to grant them their hearts’ desire 277 than to the persons of the gods themselves.1147 Doubtless to the Celt, as to the Roman, however little his religion may have fostered nobility of life or contrition for sin, dread of the mysterious was a salutary discipline.1148 But what we want to apprehend is this,—wherein the spirit of Celtic religion differed from that of the religion of ancient Latium, of Greece, of the Semitic tribes; and if the effort is not wholly vain, we may only hope to attain a distant and hazy view. He who desires to understand the subject will work at it for himself. All that I can hope to do is to put him on the road and to set up a sign-post here and there. The reader who has absorbed what is valuable in the teaching of Tylor, Boissier, Lyall, Frazer, Robertson Smith, Reinach, and Camille Jullian will be best able to discern what is suggested by the texts and monuments that preserve a few fragments of Celtic faith.

Why was the god whom Caesar equated with Mercury honoured above all others by the Continental Celts? Did the Britons share their devotion? And is Caesar’s statement confirmed? Some centuries earlier, when the Celts were a host of warriors, the war-god had been the most conspicuous figure in their Olympus; and his subsequent inferiority to Mercury is regarded, perhaps justly, as an indication of the progress which they had made meantime in the arts of peace.1149 Possibly Lug, the Irish representative of the Gaulish Lugos, whose name appears in Lugudunum, or Lyons, in Luguvallum, or Carlisle, and in Lugotorix, a Kentish chieftain,1150 and who in an Irish legend figures as a carpenter, a smith, a harpist, a poet, and a musician, may have been the British Mercury;1151 but we cannot tell whether he ranked higher than Mars. Assuming that votive stones 278 in some measure reflect the faith of the native Celts, Mars was deeply reverenced in Britain. He appears with various epithets, the names of Celtic deities, one of which, Camulus, meaning ‘the god of heaven’,1152 was commemorated in Camulodunum, and perhaps bears witness to his former greatness. It is remarkable, in view of Caesar’s statement, that in British inscriptions the name of Mercury is far less common than that of Mars;1153 but if the discrepancy is at all connected with the comparative backwardness of British civilization, it must also be remembered that the organization of Britain under Roman rule was military.1154 One religious custom indeed, of which Caesar himself witnessed examples, proves that Mars, however inferior he may have been to Mercury, had still many fervent worshippers in Gaul. When the warriors of a Gallic tribe had made a successful raid, they used to sacrifice to Mars a portion of the cattle which they had captured; the rest of their booty they erected in piles on consecrated ground. It rarely happened that any one dared to keep back part of the spoil; and the wretch who defrauded the god was punished, like Achan, by a terrible death.1155 Another British epithet of Mars, Toutates,1156 appears with Esus and Taranis in a famous passage of Lucan,1157 where they stand out as representative deities, in whose honour dreadful rites were performed. None of the three, save Esus,1158 is mentioned in Gallic inscriptions, whereas Epona, 279 the goddess of equitation, a minor deity, whose statues, representing a woman riding upon a mare, or seated between foals, have been found both in France and Britain,1159 appears ten times; and accordingly a distinguished French archaeologist concludes that they were insignificant objects of local worship.1160 But it is not credible that the devotee who composed his inscription to Toutates should have unwittingly ascribed to a mere local god the qualities of Mars. Again, if Taranis was not one of the greater gods, it is surprising to find in Britain an inscription in honour of Jupiter Tanarus,1161—Jove the Thunderer. Nor is it likely that Lucan should have learned the names of the trinity whom he made famous unless their worship had been national.1162 But it does not follow that Tanarus was the Jupiter of the independent Celts. Tanarus, being the Thunderer, was assimilated to the Roman Jupiter; and perhaps the Jupiter Tanarus whose inscription was found at Chester may have been an outcome of the Roman Jupiter and of a Gallic divinity who is known as the god of the wheel.1163 Statues have been discovered in France, representing a god with a wheel on his shoulder, in 280 his hand, or at his feet; and this god was assimilated in imperial times to Jupiter. Altars on which wheels are represented have also been found in the north of England; and miniature wheels of gold, silver, bronze, and lead—alone, or forming parts of ornaments or helmets, or stamped on coins—have been met with in scores both in France and England. Probably they had a religious meaning; and it has been supposed that they are symbolical of sun-worship, and that the god with the wheel was the god of the sun.1164 Traces of sun-worship are still discernible in the May and midsummer festivals which are kept up in our own island and in many European lands.1165

Of the other great deities Minerva appears in Irish legend under the name of Brigit1166, possibly the same goddess as Brigantia, in whose honour several inscriptions were erected in Britain,1167 although in Gaul, unless perhaps in the name of the town Brigantium, there is no trace of her worship;1168 while Apollo was assimilated by Roman or Romano-British devotees sometimes to Maponus, whose name survives in the familiar Welsh Mabon1169, sometimes to Grannos, in whose honour an inscription was set up near Edinburgh.1170 There are also vestiges of the cult of a god who resembled Neptune. At Lydney, on the western bank of the Severn, in the country 281 of the Silures, a temple was built in Roman times to Nodons, whose name reappears in Welsh legend as Lludd and again in our Ludgate Hill. The marine scenes which are depicted in mosaic on the floor seem to show that he was a god of the sea;1171 while the structure of his temple may justify the conjecture that he was likewise a Jupiter, even as the Italian Jupiter was god of sea as well as of storm and sky.1172 In Gaul he was unknown; and an eminent Celticist has assumed that he was peculiar to the Goidelic Celts.1173 On the other hand, Toutates, Taranis, Epona, and Belisama were apparently unknown on Goidelic soil.1174 But it profits little to dispute about names. It does not follow that the Goidels did not recognize somewhat similar deities akin to these; and Belisama was simply the goddess who in Roman Gaul was identified with Minerva.1175

Caesar, in a familiar passage,1176 tells us that the Gauls regarded themselves as descendants of Dis Pater, who was conspicuous in the old Latin pantheon as the god of the dead, although in Caesar’s time he had been dethroned by the Pluto who was imported from Greece.1177 Several Gallo-Roman images, the best known of which is on an altar discovered at Sarrebourg,1178 represent a god with a hammer: 282 a bronze statue of the same deity has been found in England;1179 and eminent French archaeologists believe that this was no other than Dis Pater.1180

But we must not imagine that these gods had always been distinct, or even that in Caesar’s time their physiognomies were sharply outlined. When we see that the Germans whom he encountered worshipped Sun, Moon, and Fire,1181 and that those whom Tacitus described had their Mars and Mercury,1182 we may be inclined to suspect that Celtic ideas, under classical influence, had undergone a like transformation.1183 In polytheism divers attributes of deity tend to become separate deities.1184 Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus were, it would seem, only specialized forms of the same god;1185 and some of the Celtic epithets which are attached to Minerva, Mars, and the rest may mean that they were assimilated by this or that tribe to topical divinities.1186 Dis Pater was certainly near of kin to Saturn,—that old Italian chthonian divinity;1187 and Dis Pater and Toutates, ‘the god of the people,’ who was perhaps primarily conceived as a kind of Saturn,1188 may once have been one; indeed there seem to be 283 indications that from one point of view Dis Pater was Jupiter,—a Jupiter of the nether world.1189 Again, if Toutates in Britain remained Mars, while in Gaul the Romanized Celts seem to have hesitated whether to identify him with Mars or Mercury, one is tempted to conjecture that he may have been the common ancestor of both.1190

No deities were nearer to the hearts of Celtic peasants than those who were known as deae matres,—the mother goddesses. Once they were thought to belong to Germans and Celts alone;1191 but their statues have been found in numbers at Capua; and, slightly modified, they survived into the Middle Age. Generally figured in groups of three—a mystic number1192—their aspect was that of gentle serious motherly women, holding new-born infants in their hands, or bearing fruits and flowers in their laps; and many offerings were made to them by country folk in gratitude for their care of farm and flock and home.1193

Besides the gods whose cult was common to all the Celtic peoples or to one or the other of the two great stocks were local deities innumerable. We know that the Gallic cities, Bibracte1194 and Lugudunum,1195 had their divine patrons; and it is probable that every British town had its eponymous hero.1196 The deities, however, from whom towns derived their names were doubtless often worshipped near the site long before the first foundations were laid: the goddess Bibracte was originally the spirit of a spring reverenced by the peasants of the mountain upon which the famous Aeduan town was built.1197 Perhaps we shall not err if we also suppose that the heads of his slain enemies, which the Celtic brave religiously treasured and fastened upon the walls of his 284 cottage, were offered to his household gods or to the spirits of his ancestors.1198

The worship of animals, to those who have not felt the fascination of anthropology, appears merely unintelligible and absurd. Animals were worshipped because they were formidable or wonderful; because men fancied that they were incarnations of deity; because they might be tenanted by the souls of heroic forefathers;1199 and animal-worship, or a relic of animal-worship, which may perhaps, in some cases, have been a survival of totemism, has left vestiges in Celtic art. The boar was especially sacred. Bronze figures of boars have been found alone and on the crests of helmets: the Witham shield, as we have seen, was decorated with the figure of a boar; and so are numerous coins, both Gallic and British.1200 Like the Romans, the Gauls and doubtless also the Britons had military standards: like the Romans also, they carried not a flag but the figure of an animal, and with them this animal was always the boar.1201 A reminiscence of animal-worship is probably also discernible in the horned head of Cernunnos, a god who is figured on one of the well-known altars of Paris, and in Tarvos Trigaranus—‘the bull with the three cranes’—which fills the back of another.1202

But votive altars, statues, and temples, although they embodied older beliefs, belong, as we have seen, to the period when the Celts had fallen under the dominion of 285 Rome. The Cisalpine Gauls, if Livy1203 and Polybius1204 are to be believed, worshipped in temples: but the holy places of the Western Celts were groves,1205 and perhaps stone circles which they inherited from the people of the Bronze Age. Such simplicity was of course not peculiar to the Celts and the Germans.1206 The Pelasgian Zeus had no temple: the oldest sanctuary of Jupiter on the Alban Mount was a grove of oaks.1207 Not a single statue of pre-Roman date has ever been found in Britain; not one in Gaul later than the close of the Palaeolithic Age. Caesar indeed says that the Gallic Mercury was represented by numerous simulacra; but if these were statues, it is inexplicable that none of them has ever come to light; and perhaps we may accept the suggestion that Caesar was thinking of menhirs, which had been erected long before the first Celt set foot in Gaul,1208 but which, like the formless stones that the Greeks venerated as figures of Hermes,1209 were, he supposed, regarded as possessed by the spirit of the great national deity. On the menhir of Kernuz in Finistère a rude Mercury was sculptured in Roman times.1210 The conjecture may be well founded that the 286 Druids, like the priests of Israel, were opposed to anthropomorphism;1211 but it is not needed to explain the lack of native statues of Celtic gods.1212 The Romans, according to Varro, had for many years no sacred images:1213 like the Celts, like the Germans, who also, even in the time of Tacitus,1214 deemed it derogatory to the majesty of the gods to ascribe to them human form, they were content to recognize manifestations of divine will; and even when their temples were being crowded with the works of Greek art, their ancient Vesta remained shrouded in awful mystery.1215 But, while the Druids may have been as hostile as Israel to Gentile abominations, the Celts in general were as receptive as the Romans, and readily accepted the services of foreign sculptors.

Sepulchral usages.

The evidence of interments, from which we tried to glean some information as to the religion of the Bronze Age, remains much the same during the later period; and the noticeable changes do not seem to have much significance. British customs differed somewhat from those of Gaul. Inhumation, which had almost entirely ceased in that country in the second century before Christ, continued everywhere in Britain except in the territory of the Belgae; and even there cremation was not universal.1216 In the more 287 southern districts nearly all the interments which have been explored were unmarked by any tumulus; while in the cemetery of Aylesford the urns which contained the cremated remains were placed in small cylindrical pits set in what has been described as a family circle.1217 When barrows were erected their form was still circular: but they were generally much smaller than those of the Bronze Age: they were grouped in much greater numbers;1218 and they were never more than structureless heaps of earth or stone.1219 Although the contracted position was still common, skeletons have been found extended in this country, as generally in Gaul;1220 and, as in Wiltshire in the Bronze Age, the head generally 288 pointed towards the north.1221 On the other hand, ornaments and weapons were placed in graves more frequently than before:1222 animals were still occasionally interred;1223 and flint chips and stones were still sometimes deposited in or along with urns.1224 But rites which in the Bronze Age could only be inferred are attested in the Iron Age by eye-witnesses. We learn from Caesar1225 that it was a custom of the Gauls to immolate the dead man’s cherished possessions, even his favourite animals, on the funeral pyre; and that not long before the time of his oldest contemporaries slaves and retainers had been sacrificed.

Fig. 44.

The most remarkable perhaps of the sepulchral discoveries that illustrate this period appears to show that old persisted along with new. Hard by the family circles of the Aylesford cemetery, Dr. Arthur Evans opened three cists, each containing a contracted skeleton, the upper slab of one being pierced with a hole which may perhaps have been intended to let the ghost escape;1226 while almost side by side with elegant Late Celtic vases he picked up fragments of the old-fashioned finger-dented ware, including a drinking-cup and a cinerary urn.1227 289

The Druids.

It would be interesting to learn whether any Celtic prophet, like the great preachers of India and Palestine, taught that mercy is better than sacrifice. If we may trust Diogenes Laertius,1228 the Druids bade their disciples not only to fear the gods, but to do no wrong and to quit themselves like men. At all events the study of Celtic religion is inseparable from that of Druidism.

Where did Druidism originate? Caesar, in a well-known passage, remarks that it was believed to have arisen in Britain and to have been imported thence into Gaul;1229 and some scholars accept this tradition as literally true. The earliest extant mention of Druids1230 was made about the commencement of the second century before Christ,—not long after the Belgic conquest of Britain began; and it has been supposed that the conquerors found Druidism flourishing there, and made it known in the land from which they had set out. But the Belgae were not the first Celtic conquerors of Britain; and it is reasonable to suppose that if Druidism was of British origin, it would have been imported into Gaul long before. The common view is that on both sides of the Channel it originated among the neolithic population; and Caesar’s words are sometimes explained in the sense that in his time it was more vigorous in Britain than in Gaul, and that Gallic Druids therefore travelled to Britain in order to be initiated into its mysteries. At all events it is not unreasonable to believe that the Celts learned it from some non-Aryan people; for there is nothing to show that the Gauls whom the Romans first encountered had ever heard of it. The Germans, with whom the Celts were long in contact in Central Europe and to whom they were ethnically akin, had no Druids;1231 and although it may be true that the intense devotion to religious observances which Caesar remarked among the mixed population of Gaul1232 did not exceed that of other barbarians,1233 it appeared to him to contrast sharply 290 with the temper of the peoples beyond the Rhine.1234 This spirit led them to connect religion with every act of life: in the chase,1235 in all the operations of war, after victory or defeat, before undertaking an expedition, in selecting the site of a town, the gods were regularly invoked:1236 there was no distinction between the sacred and the profane; or rather, nothing was profane. The contrast which Caesar observed supports the theory of the non-Aryan origin of Druidism.

But was Druidism in Britain universal? The leading Celtic scholar of this country insists that there is no evidence that Druidism was ever the religion of any Brythonic people;1237 and since he assigns almost the whole of Britain south of the firths of Forth and Clyde to the Brythons, he appears to restrict the area of Druidism to a narrow western fringe. This hardly accords with Caesar’s statement that Britain was the stronghold of Druidism. Moreover, when Caesar tells us that the Druids were the religious aristocracy of the Gauls, he plainly gives us to understand that Druidism was common to all the peoples who lived between the Seine and the Garonne; and it is certain that among many if not most of these peoples the Gallo-Brythonic element was predominant. Indeed, although it is commonly assumed that the Belgae had no Druids, there is absolutely no ground for the assumption. Caesar often used the word Galli in a wider sense, including the Belgae; and it is not improbable that when he was describing the manners and customs of the Gauls and Druidism, which was their most remarkable institution, he intended his description to apply to the Belgae as well.1238 Moreover, the very writer who denies that 291 the Brythons had Druids tells us that Druidism was the religion of the British aborigines and was borrowed from them by the British Goidels; and it is certain that both the aborigines and the Goidels (if they had already reached Britain) survived in considerable numbers in the territory which the Brythons conquered.1239 It is clear therefore that Druidism persisted within the Brythonic area; and that the Brythons held aloof from it is a groundless guess.1240 292

But concerning Druidism as it existed in Britain we have no special information, except the passage in which Tacitus1241 speaks of the cruel rites practised by the Druids of Anglesey. Caesar described Druidism once for all;1242 and since he says that British Druidism was the model and the standard of the Gallic Druids, we can only infer that his description applied in many respects to Britain as well as to Gaul. There the Druids formed a corporation, admission to which was eagerly sought: they jealously guarded the secrecy of their lore; and full membership was only obtainable after a long novitiate. They were ruled by a pope, who held office for life; and sometimes the succession to this dignity was disputed by force of arms. They were exempt from taxation and from service in war. They had, as the priests of a rude society always have, a monopoly of learning. The 293 ignorance and superstition of the populace, their own organization and submission to one head, gave them a tremendous power. The doctrine which they most strenuously inculcated (if Caesar was not misinformed) was the transmigration of souls. ‘This doctrine,’ he said, ‘they regard as the most potent incentive to valour, because it inspires a contempt for death.’1243 They claimed the right of deciding questions of peace and war. Among the Aedui, if not among other peoples, at all events in certain circumstances, they exercised the right of appointing the chief magistrate.1244 They laid hands on criminals and, in their default, even on the innocent, imprisoned them in monstrous idols of wickerwork, and burned them alive as an offering to the gods. They immolated captives in order to discover the divine will in the flow of their blood or their palpitating entrails;1245 they lent their ministrations to men prostrated by sickness or going forth to battle, who trusted that heaven would spare their lives if human victims were offered in their stead; and one form of human sacrifice which they appear to have countenanced—the slaughter of a child at the foundation of a monument, a fortress, or a bridge—has left many traces in European folk-lore and been practised in Africa, Asia, and Polynesia in modern times.1246 They practically 294 monopolized both the civil and the criminal jurisdiction;1247 and if this jurisdiction was irregular, if they had no legal power of enforcing their judgements, they were none the less obeyed. Primitive states did not originally take cognizance of offences committed against individuals, which were avenged by their kin; and when they began to intervene they did so at the request of the injured party or his surviving relatives. What was peculiar to the Celts was that this intervention was exercised by the priests;1248 and doubtless the outlaws who, as Caesar says,1249 abounded in Gaul were criminals whom they had banished. Every year they met to dispense civil justice in the great plain above which now soar the spires of Chartres cathedral.1250 Those who disregarded their decrees were excommunicated; and excommunication meant exclusion from the civil community as well as from communion in religious rites.

Did the Druids owe their conception of immortality, as Diodorus Siculus1251 and Timagenes1252 imply, to the influence of Pythagoras? The testimony of these writers has been contemptuously rejected:1253 but it seems not improbable that Druidism may have absorbed tenets of Pythagorean origin through the medium of the Greeks of Massilia;1254 and this conjecture gains some support from numismatic evidence. 295 A British uninscribed gold coin, found at Reculver, bears on its reverse side the figure, formed by five interlacing lines, which is known as the pentagram and was a well-known Pythagorean symbol.1255 It would seem, however, that if metempsychosis was really a Druidical doctrine, it had no firm hold upon the Celts in general; and their sepulchral customs were not consistent with it. Their notion of a future life, like that of the Bronze Age, was a form of the ‘Continuance Theory’, which has had so many adherents both in primitive and modern tribes.1256 They believed that there was an Elysium somewhere in the west, where they were to live again, feasting, carousing, and duelling, a life like that which they had lived before, but free from care.1257 If the Druids, as Caesar said, taught that souls passed ‘from one person to another’, they meant perhaps that after death the soul entered a new body,—the ethereal counterpart of that which it had left behind. The immortality of the soul 296 was an idea, more or less vague, common to many peoples: for the Celts the Druids made it an article of faith. Nor indeed are we precluded from supposing that some of them may have conceived or borrowed from a classic source the doctrine of future retribution. But what that theory was which, as Caesar says1258, the Druids inculcated in regard to the origin of the universe and the nature and motion of the heavenly bodies, it is useless to inquire1259. We only know that, as they traced the descent of the Gauls back to Dis Pater, they regarded night as older than day, and reckoned time by nights; and that, in common with all the peoples of antiquity, they computed their years by the revolutions of the moon1260. The statements of Caesar and Pliny are supplemented by a calendar, engraved on bronze, which was discovered towards the end of the last century at Coligny in the department of the Ain1261. It has its lucky and unlucky days; certain days would be regarded as suitable for sacrifices as well as for other functions1262; and the regulation of these important matters would certainly have been retained by the Druids. It has been said, perhaps in reliance upon a mistranslation of the word dryas or druias, that Druidesses taught side by side with Druids1263: at all events Boadicea 297 sought to divine the issue of her campaign by observing the movements of a hare, besought the gods to bless her enterprise, and after her success offered female captives to Andate, the goddess of victory;1264 and her joint exercise of royal and priestly functions seems to give colour to the suggestion that in primitive times Celtic kings may also have been priests.1265 Cicero1266 indeed relates that the Galatian King, Deiotarus, was the most skilful augur of his country. But the facts of historical import which stand out as certain are these. Like the Brahmans, who, so long as their authority is acknowledged, recognize, but regulate, the Protean manifestations of Hindu religious fancy,1267 the Druids kept control over the manifold forms of aboriginal and Celtic worship. Being a sacerdotal caste, not, like the priests of Rome, popularly elected, but self-constituted and self-contained, they were naturally opposed to all innovation. It has been said that ancient writers regarded as peculiar to the Druids beliefs and practices which were common to them and other priests of antiquity. Certainly human 298 sacrifice was not peculiar to the Celts: the ceremony of cutting the mysterious mistletoe was German as well as Druidical;1268 and as the Druid sacrificed white bulls before he ascended the sacred oak,1269 so did the Latin priest in the grove which was the holy place of Jupiter.1270 But while every ancient people had its priests, the Druids alone were a veritable clergy.1271 Celtic religion, in so far as it had the same ancestry as that of Rome, would easily harmonize with it; but Druidism, with its more definite theology, might be expected to counteract this tendency, and would therefore be a danger to Roman dominion.1272 And it was British Druidism that supported and renovated the Druidism of Gaul, and formed one of the bonds of union between the two Celtic lands.1273 299

Ties between Britons and Gauls.

For, if their material culture was somewhat less advanced, the Britons, at least those of the south-eastern districts, naturally remained connected by the closest ties with the Gauls, and particularly with the Belgae. The Britons of Kent were little less civilized than the Gauls;1274 and Belgic kings, like William the Conqueror and his descendants, ruled on both sides of the Channel.1275 Not many years before the period of the Gallic wars, Diviciacus, king of the Suessiones, who governed directly the country round Soissons, had established supremacy not only over a large part of the surrounding Belgic territory but also over Britain;1276 and during a period which may have coincided with his reign gold coins of certain types were used indifferently in the Belgic districts of Britain and of Gaul, and were doubtless struck for rulers who had possessions in both.1277 But the power of Diviciacus had ended with him;1278 and when Caesar came 300 to Gaul, the tribes of South-Eastern Britain were divided into antagonistic groups, headed respectively by the Catuvellauni and the Trinovantes. Cassivellaunus, the king of the Catuvellauni, was the ablest and most aggressive of the British princes of his time; but his opponents were supported, it would seem, by the influence of Commius, a chieftain of the Belgic Atrebates, whose territory comprised adjacent districts of the departments of Pas-de-Calais and Nord, and who were connected with the British tribe of the same name.

How the Britons were affected by Caesar’s campaigns in Gaul.

But, if anything could induce the Britons to forget their differences, it was the news which reached them of Caesar’s movements in Gaul. The events of the first year of his pro-consulship—the overthrow of the Helvetii, who had migrated into Gaul from Switzerland, and the defeat of the German invader, Ariovistus—might not affect their interests: but in the following year, when the Belgae banded together against the Roman conqueror, it was time for them to be on the alert. British adventurers crossed the Straits to assist their kinsmen; and when Caesar shattered the forces of the coalition, the leaders of at least one Belgic tribe fled over sea to escape his vengeance. Late in the autumn of that year or early in the following spring rumours reached the ports of the Channel that Caesar purposed to invade Britain. 301



Caesar obliged to secure his rear before invading Britain.

Before Caesar could venture to undertake so difficult an enterprise as the invasion of Britain, it was necessary for him to secure the country in his rear. His first two campaigns had been directed against enemies who were as dangerous to Gaul as to Rome. Cavalry levied from friendly Gallic tribes fought side by side with the Roman legions against the Helvetii and against Ariovistus: after the defeat of the Helvetii envoys came from all the tribes of Central and Eastern Gaul to congratulate the victor; and after the defeat of Ariovistus the legions took up their quarters for the winter in Gallic territory without resistance. There was probably not a single tribe in which Caesar had not opponents: but the prestige of Rome and of his own victories, the factious spirit and the intertribal jealousies of the Gauls, and above all the sagacity with which he played off party against party, and selected the chiefs who, for their own purposes, were able and willing to serve him, prevented open opposition. Thus, although the seeds of future troubles were even then germinating, he could safely use Celtican Gaul as his base of operations when he crossed the Marne in the following year to encounter the Belgae. The series of victories which he gained in this campaign intimidated his opponents for the time and increased his renown, but had little effect upon the remote maritime tribe of the Morini, on whose coast was the harbour from which he must sail.

He contemplated invasion as early as 56 B.C.

Caesar’s first mention of Britain occurs in the chapter that follows his narrative of the operations by which he destroyed the invading hordes of the Usipetes and Tencteri, crossed the Rhine, and chastised the tribe which had given an asylum to their fugitives:—‘Only a small part of the summer remained; and in these parts, the whole of Gaul having a northerly trend, winter sets in early: nevertheless 302 56 B.C. Caesar made active preparations for an expedition to Britain; for he knew that in almost all the operations in Gaul our enemies had been reinforced from that country.’1279 But even if we had not Strabo’s explicit statement, it would be unnecessary to argue that Caesar could not have undertaken so momentous an enterprise upon the spur of the moment. Strabo says that the Veneti, who in 56 B.C. formed a coalition of the maritime tribes of North-Western and Northern Gaul against Caesar, made war upon him because they were determined to prevent him from invading Britain, the trade with which was in their hands.1280 The statement is intrinsically probable, and is supported by facts for which we have the authority of Caesar himself. The alliance which the Veneti headed included almost all the maritime tribes between the Loire and the Rhine; and auxiliaries actually came from Britain to join them. It is not credible that the Britons would have crossed the widest part of the Channel, or that the Morini, whose country lay between the Somme and the Scheldt, and the Menapii, whose seaboard reached the Rhine, would have supported the remote Veneti, if they had not had reason to believe that their own interests were imperilled. Moreover, Caesar tells us that among the ships which he assembled for the invasion of Britain were galleys which he had used in the naval action with the Veneti. This action took place off the coast of the Morbihan, the nearest harbour to which was in the estuary of the Loire;1281 and it is needless to argue that the galleys were not there when Caesar sent for them. If only ‘a small part of the summer’ remained when he began to prepare for the invasion, there was no time for his messengers to travel from the 303 neighbourhood of Coblenz, where he had crossed and recrossed the Rhine, to the mouth of the Loire, or for the galleys to make the voyage of six hundred miles from the Loire to the north-eastern coast of Gaul. When Caesar’s messengers set out, the galleys must have been within a short distance of the port from which he set sail,—probably in the mouth Campaign against the Veneti necessary in order to secure command of the Channel. of the Seine or of the Somme. The war which he waged against the Veneti was a necessary prelude to the invasion of Britain. For he could not safely embark his army unless he had command of the Channel; and at the time when he planned the invasion the masters of the Channel were the Veneti. They had a powerful fleet of large vessels, the model of which had, we may suppose, been originally borrowed from that of the merchantmen of the Carthaginians, whose commerce in the Atlantic and in British waters they had inherited. This fleet enabled them to close the ports not only of their own territory in Western Brittany, but also of the western seaboard at least of Northern Gaul; and no one was permitted to use those ports except on condition of paying them toll.

57 B.C.

But Caesar attempted to gain his object without fighting. After his campaign against the Belgae he sent the 7th legion under Publius Crassus, the younger son of the wealthy triumvir, to winter in the valley of the lower Loire; and all the tribes of Brittany submitted to him and gave him hostages. It was probably about this time that Crassus made his celebrated voyage to the tin-producing districts of Cornwall;1282 and it seems not unreasonable to conjecture that it was the news of his mission which gave the alarm to the Veneti. They arrested two officers whom he had sent to make a requisition of corn: the other maritime tribes of Brittany and Normandy threw in their lot with them; and an embassy was sent to Crassus to demand the restoration of the hostages. Messengers were promptly dispatched to inform Caesar, who had gone to Illyricum. He sent orders to Crassus to have a fleet of war-galleys built in the estuary 56 B.C. of the Loire, to summon oarsmen from the Roman Province of Southern Gaul, and to impress seamen and pilots. Meanwhile 304 the Veneti were engaging fresh allies, and reinforcements were hastening from Britain to join them. The allied fleet was speedily assembled on the coast of the Morbihan. Caesar hurried back to join his army, and on his arrival made all the necessary dispositions for preventing the spread of the insurrectionary movement. Crassus was dispatched southward into the country of the Aquitani, from whom, it is true, little danger was to be expected: another general, Titurius Sabinus, was sent northward into the peninsula of the Cotentin, to prevent the tribes of Northern Brittany and Western Normandy from joining the Veneti; and Labienus, Caesar’s most capable lieutenant, marched eastward through the heart of Gaul to the neighbourhood of Treves, with orders to watch the Belgae and repel the German tribes, who were believed to be in communication with the Gauls, in case they attempted to cross the Rhine. Labienus appears to have had little trouble; but Crassus and Sabinus encountered and defeated their respective enemies. Caesar himself invaded Venetia, and entrusted Decimus Brutus with the command of his fleet. During a great part of the summer Brutus was detained in the mouth of the Loire by stormy weather; and Caesar spent the time in endeavouring to reduce the strongholds on the Venetian coast. These operations were fruitless; but on the first fine day the struggle was brought to an issue. The decisive battle was fought in Quiberon Bay.1283 The allied fleet numbered two hundred and twenty sail, while the Roman galleys were reinforced by ships lent by friendly tribes who inhabited the maritime districts south of the Loire. The ships of the Veneti and their allies were so heavy and so stoutly built that it would have been useless for the galleys to attempt to ram them; and they stood so high out of the water that the legionaries were unable to throw missiles with effect. But the Roman engineers came to the rescue as they had done in the First Punic War. Long poles had been prepared, armed at one end with sharp-edged hooks. The galleys swifter and more mobile than the Gallic ships, which 305 had no oars.1284 When the fleets approached each other, two or more galleys ran alongside one of the enemy’s ships; and the halyards were seized by the hooks. Instantly the rowers pulled away: the halyards snapped, and yards and sails fell down, leaving the helpless hulk to be boarded by the legionaries. ‘Thenceforward,’ wrote Caesar, ‘the fight turned upon valour, in which our soldiers easily had the advantage.’1285 When several ships had been captured, the Veneti abandoned the fight and made haste to escape. But their ships had hardly been put before the wind when they were becalmed; and the galleys, running swiftly in and out among them, captured them one after another, all but a few which contrived to reach land when darkness fell.

See note on page XVI.

The Veneti surrendered unconditionally. Caesar was determined to teach the Gauls that ‘the rights of envoys’1286 must be respected in future. The Venetian senate were put to death; and all the tribesmen who failed to escape were sold into slavery.

Campaign against the Morini.

It remained only to subdue the Morini, who had never yet acknowledged the supremacy of Rome. Caesar marched against them: but the season was too far advanced; and he found it impossible to strike a decisive blow. The Morini would not risk a battle, and took refuge in their forests. Caesar allowed himself to be surprised on the outskirts and lost a few men, though he succeeded in punishing his assailants; and after the legions had spent some days in cutting down trees, capturing baggage, and driving off cattle, stormy weather set in, and rain fell so heavily and continuously that they could no longer live safely in tents, Its failure leaves Caesar’s base not quite secure. and were forced to abandon the campaign. Owing to this failure, which Caesar hardly atoned for by ravaging the cultivated lands as he retreated, the base of operations for the expedition which was to take place in the following year was still insecure. On the other hand, the maritime tribes between the Somme and the Pyrenees were effectually 306 subdued; and Caesar was absolute master of the sea.

55 B.C. Caesar determines to sail from the Portus Itius (Boulogne.)

When the campaign of the following year against the Germans was over, Caesar marched westward into the country of the Morini, ‘because,’ as he tells us, ‘the shortest passage to Britain was from their coast.’1287 Probably he had already ascertained what was the best port to sail from; but any competent cavalry officer could have procured the information in a couple of days. Between the Scheldt and the Somme there was only one harbour which would satisfy all his requirements. Calais did not then exist: Sangatte, on the east of Cape Blancnez, was at best a mere roadstead; and the sandy waste between Cape Blancnez and Cape Grisnez, from which the village of Wissant derives its name, though it possessed two tiny creeks formed by rivulets, offered no shelter for a fleet and no facilities for building or repairing ships, or for provisioning an army. The Canche, the Authie, and the Somme, if at that time they were used as harbours, were too far from Britain. But the estuary of the Liane, on whose right bank stood Gesoriacum, the village whose site is now covered by Boulogne, combined every advantage. Caesar, Latinizing its Celtic name—the port of Icht, or ‘the Channel harbour’—called it the Portus Itius. Gallic merchants sailed from it to the ports of Kent: from the time of Augustus it was the Roman port of embarkation for Britain, and at a later period the naval station of the Roman Channel Fleet. The estuary, longer, wider, and deeper than it is now, was protected from every gale by the bold bluff of land which on the west throws out the promontory of Alprech, and which then projected northward considerably beyond its present limit.1288 Vessels of light draught could enter the harbour at low tide. Shipyards lined its banks. Roads connected it with the interior; and timber in abundance could be floated down the river from the forest of Boulogne. The heights that look down from the east upon the harbour, about half a mile south of the column which commemorates the assemblage of Napoleon’s ‘Grand 307 Army’, offered an excellent site for the encampment of the force that was destined to protect the communications; and perhaps a detachment may have been posted on the opposite bank of the river.1289 If the distance in a straight line to Britain was a little longer than from the creeks of Wissant, the passage, owing to the set of the tidal streams and the prevalence of south-westerly winds, was more convenient. Caesar therefore gave orders that vessels should be collected from the adjacent coasts, and assemble, along with the galleys which had been docked after the war with the Veneti, in the Portus Itius.

He attempts to obtain information about Britain from Gallic traders.

The summer was now far advanced; and Caesar saw his first expedition must be a mere reconnaissance: but, as he tells us, ‘he thought that it would be well worth his while merely to visit the island, see what the people were like, and make himself acquainted with the features of the country, the harbours, and the landing-places.’1290 Though on a clear day he could see beyond the straits those ‘astonishing masses of cliff’ which haunted the imagination of Cicero,1291 he was about to venture into an unknown land. The Italians of that time knew hardly anything of the island which they vaguely regarded as the end of the inhabited world, except that it produced tin, some of which found its way to the markets of the Mediterranean.1292 Perhaps Cicero and other cultivated men had read extracts from the journal of Pytheas: but Pytheas was a discredited writer; and, after all, his description of the Britons who lived in the time of Alexander the Great would have been little more useful to Caesar than Bernier’s account of the empire of Aurangzeb would be to a traveller who intended to spend a winter in India. Caesar sent for traders from all parts of North-Eastern Gaul, and questioned them about the island:—How large was it? What tribes inhabited it? What were their methods of fighting, their manners and customs? 308 What ports were capable of accommodating a large fleet? He failed to obtain the information which he required. Many commentators have insisted that the traders could have told him all that he wanted to know; and certainly it seems difficult to understand how they could have professed ignorance of the harbours without manifest contumacy: but at least as regards the other questions, the reason which Caesar assigns for their silence is sufficient:—‘even they know nothing of Britain except the coast and the parts opposite the various regions of Gaul.’1293 Moreover, it must be remembered that Caesar asked them what harbours could shelter a large fleet; and as they were only acquainted with the harbours of Kent, none of which would fulfil this requirement, it is quite intelligible that even on this point they should have been unable to enlighten him. Still, they could have given valuable information about the Kentish coast; and the passage in which Strabo accounts for the hostility of the Veneti suggests that they kept silence from interested motives.1294 They could not foresee that Caesar’s expeditions would powerfully stimulate British trade.

Gaius Volusenus sent to reconnoitre the opposite coast.

Thrown back upon his own resources, Caesar sent a military tribune, named Gaius Volusenus, in a galley to reconnoitre the opposite coast. Volusenus had distinguished himself in a campaign, conducted by one of Caesar’s generals, against the mountaineers of the upper Rhône: he possessed, as his later history proved, not merely a keen eye for the features of a country, but daring of that kind which characterized the sons of Zeruiah; and how highly Caesar thought of him is evident from the fact that he was the only military tribune whose name is mentioned with honour in the Commentaries.1295

Envoys from British tribes sent to Caesar to promise submission.

All this time trade was going on as usual between Gaul and Britain; and Gallic merchants had informed their clients in Kent that the long-expected invasion was about 309 55 B.C. to take place. While Volusenus was cruising in the Straits of Dover a ship with envoys from various British tribes on board sailed into the Liane. Presenting themselves in Caesar’s camp, they announced that their principals were prepared to submit to the Roman People and to give hostages. Caesar received them courteously, exhorted them to adhere to their resolve, and dismissed them. But they were not to return alone. Two years before, during the campaign against the Belgae, Caesar had gained over Commius, whose connexion with Britain1296 he had perhaps already ascertained, and, in accordance with the policy which he often followed, had established him as king over the Atrebates. He had doubtless learned much from him about British politics, and had concluded that, just as in Gaul he had taken advantage of tribal disputes and had found it politic to support the Aedui and the Remi against their rivals, so in Britain his best course would be to side with the Trinovantes against the aggressive Catuvellauni. He had formed a high opinion of the energy and judgement of Commius, and believed him He commissions Commius to return with them and gain over tribes. to be thoroughly loyal. Accordingly he charged him to approach all the British chieftains with whom he had any influence, engage them on the side of Rome, and give them notice that he himself would shortly visit the island. Commius took with him a troop of cavalry, composed of thirty of his retainers.

Volusenus’s voyage of reconnaissance.

Meanwhile Volusenus had been carrying out Caesar’s instructions. His galley, manned by trained oarsmen, not only made him comparatively independent of wind and tide, but, owing to her superior speed, would enable him to keep clear of any ships which Gauls or Britons might send against him. We do not know what part of the coast he reconnoitred first: but it is probable that his coasting voyage did not extend beyond Lympne, or, at the furthest, Rye on one side and the North Foreland on the other; for within those limits the port and the alternative landing-place of which he was in search were to be found. The port was indeed too small for such a vast armada as would be required to transport the grand army with which Caesar purposed eventually 310 to invade Britain, but not for the comparatively small fleet that had been collected for the preliminary expedition: if Volusenus had sailed westward in quest of the great harbour which he could not have found until he had reached the coast of Sussex,1297 he would have turned back when he saw the inhospitable forest of the Weald, or the Fairlight Down; and, moreover, he knew that Caesar intended to cross the Channel in its narrowest part. While he was still some miles from the British coast he could see the low but precipitous chalk cliffs, backed by a commanding range of heights, that hem in the rock-strewn shore of East Wear Bay: the inlet of Folkestone was plainly too small to accommodate the Roman fleet; and the first sight of the hills that guarded the coast from Folkestone to Hythe and of the wooded uplands that overlooked the tide-washed flat which is now Romney Marsh,1298 must have warned him not to advise the great captain whom he served to land beneath them. It was a maxim of ancient warfare, never disregarded without urgent necessity, to avoid engaging an enemy who had the advantage of higher ground; and there was not a foot of land in the whole extent of coast between Shakespeare’s Cliff and Lympne which a Roman soldier would not have described as a most unfavourable position. The hills behind Hythe were, indeed, pierced by three valleys: but it was evident that they ascended to high, broken, and wooded ground, where cavalry would be useless, and an invading army would be encompassed by manifold perils;1299 and for such disadvantages the narrow pool harbour which extended opposite Hythe, between the hills and the long bank of shingle, through a gap in which it might be entered at high tide,1300 promised no compensation. Eastward of Shakespeare’s Cliff Volusenus saw that he must look for the place of disembarkation. There, sheltered in the valley between the cliffs, was old Dover harbour, in which we may suppose that Gallic merchants used to discharge their freight.1301 But even this haven would be useless if the landing 311 were to be opposed; and it was necessary to look for some broad expanse of open beach which would give easy access to the interior. None such was yet visible. The galley ran on under the Castle Cliff, round the Foreland and past the coomb within which lies St. Margaret’s Bay, past the cliffs, still precipitous but diminishing in height, which end at Kingsdown. About a hundred yards further on the ground was seen rising again; and the tribune observed a low rampart of cliff extending and gradually sinking towards the north till it finally terminated just south of the spot where Walmer Castle rises amid embowering trees. Stretching northward for several miles from this spot he saw the open beach for which he had been looking. Not a sign of high ground was visible. Once the legions had succeeded in forcing their way on to dry land, they would find no difficulty in following up their advantage; and the cavalry would be able to ride down the beaten enemy. The slope upon which Walmer Church now stands would afford a suitable site for the camp. But it was of course impossible to see far inland; and, as Volusenus could not venture to disembark and run the risk of falling into the hands of the natives, he was unable to find out all that he wished to know. The nature of the inner country, the comparative density of the population, the water-supply,—of all these things he remained ignorant. But Caesar had chosen him because he was the fittest man that he could find; and we may assume that he did not neglect precautions which any competent officer would have taken, and that he did not overlook what no observant man could have failed to perceive. He spent three entire days in British waters; and his time must have been fully occupied. We may be sure that he bore in mind that the beach was of shingle; that he took soundings all along the coast between Walmer and Deal as close inshore as he could venture to go, and tested the character of the anchorage; and that he noted the phenomena which twice daily obtruded themselves upon his attention,—the rise and fall of the tide, and the movement up and down the Channel of the tidal stream. Perhaps indeed he went as far north as Sandwich, and concluded that a landing might still more 312 advantageously be effected between that point and Sandown, where, even in those days, the beach must have shelved more gently than at Walmer or Deal.1302 One other feature, if it then existed, cannot have escaped his scrutiny,—the Goodwin Sands, perhaps only half-formed, or the long low bank of London Clay, which, as some geologists believe, may then have occupied their place.1303 On the fourth day following that of his departure he returned to the Portus Itius, and presented his report to Caesar.

Kentishmen prepare for resistance.

The Kentishmen, on their part, knew what they had to expect. The Roman galley had of course been watched; and though Caesar was coming professedly to receive them under the protection of Rome, his visit would portend the loss of their independence. If they chose to resist, they would not be embarrassed by having a long line of coast to defend. The movements of the galley indicated where the fleet of which she was the forerunner would probably arrive; and, moreover, those who lived by the sea were aware that the invaders could not attempt to land except at a few points within a strictly limited range. War-chariots would be helpful in checking them when they attempted to advance through the surf: accordingly the horses were exercised on the beach until they became accustomed to enter the waves.

Certain clans of the Morini spontaneously promise to submit.

The Portus Itius was thronged with shipping, and the preparations for the expedition were nearly complete; but the base of operations was still insecure. The Morini had hardly felt the weight of Caesar’s hand, and might give trouble to the garrison which he intended to leave for the protection of his communications: but the end of August was approaching; he was anxious to set sail; and he had no time to reduce the tribe to submission. Fortune, however, as usual, befriended him. The various communities of the Morini were accustomed to act independently. Envoys from some of them appeared in Caesar’s camp, and excused themselves for having resisted the Romans in the two previous years. He of course accepted their excuses, and ordered them to give him a large number of hostages, who were promptly brought to the camp. 313

East Kent

55 B.C. Caesar’s expeditionary force.

And now all was ready. The expeditionary force consisted of two legions—the 10th, which had gained renown on many fields and was regarded by Caesar with special favour, and the 7th, which had played a conspicuous part in the famous battle with the Nervii—besides about five hundred cavalry, raised from various tribes of Gaul, slingers from the Balearic Isles, and Numidian and Cretan archers. The entire army numbered about ten thousand men. A small squadron of galleys and about eighty transports were assembled in the harbour; and on the 25th of August1304 the legionaries embarked on the transports, while the galleys were assigned to the archers, slingers, and artillerymen. The catapults which they carried would be worked, in case they were required, under the protection of movable turrets, which could be erected, at short notice, on their decks.1305 Caesar omitted to mention the class of ‘long ships’ to which they belonged: but his narrative shows that they were shallow; and it may be doubted whether any of them had more than one bank of oars.1306 The transports had of course been carefully selected, and were all excellent sea-boats: but they had not been designed for disembarking troops on an enemy’s coast; and in case it should prove necessary to land on an open beach, the troops whom they carried would find themselves, on entering the water, almost out of their depth. They were probably sailed by their native crews; and the galleys, which were severally placed under the command of the quaestor, the two generals who commanded the legions, and the auxiliary officers, were doubtless handled by the seamen and Provincial oarsmen who had manned them in the preceding year. The fleet included some small fast-sailing vessels of light draught, which were commonly used for reconnoitring, and would now be called scouts. Eighteen other transports were lying in the little harbour of Ambleteuse, between five and six miles to the north,1307 having been 314 prevented by contrary winds from reaching the Liane; and, as the wind was now favourable for the voyage to Britain, and Caesar could not afford to wait, he sent his cavalry by road with orders to embark on these vessels and follow him. As the expedition was to be of such short duration, no heavy baggage was taken, and only sufficient supplies to last for a few days. A general named Sulpicius Rufus remained with an adequate force to guard the camp and the harbour; Sabinus and Cotta sent to punish the recalcitrant Morini and the Menapii. while Titurius Sabinus, who had commanded a division in the war of the previous year, and Aurunculeius Cotta, who had served with distinction in the campaign against the Belgae, were directed to march with the remaining legions against those clans of the Morini which had not submitted, and their neighbours, the Menapii.

Caesar’s voyage.

It was just five days before the full moon;1308 and high tide that evening was about six o’clock. About midnight the moon set, and we may suppose that, like the ships of William when he sailed to encounter Harold, each vessel carried a lantern.1309 Soon afterwards the signal was given to weigh anchor,1310 and the ships stood out to sea and steered against the ebb tide, which, however, was moving at less than one knot an hour,1311 for Dover harbour.1312 As they passed Ambleteuse, there was no sign that the cavalry transports had His cavalry transports fail to put to sea in time. yet got under way. About half an hour before sunrise the stream turned eastward; and by that time Cape Grisnez had been left behind. But at some period of the voyage the wind must have shifted to an unfavourable quarter,1313 for Aug. 26. it was not until the fourth hour of the day, or about nine 315 o’clock in the morning,1314 that the galleys approached the Dover cliffs; and at that time the transports, which were slower sailers and had no oars, were far behind. Above the white precipices, ranged on the undulating downs behind, Caesar descried an armed host of the enemy. ‘The formation of the ground,’ he observed, ‘was peculiar, the sea being so closely walled in by abrupt heights that it was possible to throw a missile from the ground above on to the shore.’1315 To attempt a landing in the harbour or below the cliffs on either side of it was of course out of the question; and He anchors off the Dover cliffs. Caesar determined to remain at anchor until the rest of the fleet should arrive. The reader who is familiar with the Commentaries, and can comprehend their implied meaning, will perceive that the vessels must have been grouped in the bay somewhere between the Castle Cliff and the South Foreland, the one on the extreme right being about a mile westward of the latter.1316 Caesar summoned his generals and tribunes to come on board, communicated to them the substance of the report which he had received from Volusenus, and instructed them how to handle their ships and troops when the landing-place should be reached, warning them above all to bear in mind that rapid and irregular movements were of the essence of seamanship, and to be prepared to obey orders on the instant. When he was satisfied that all understood what was required of them, he sent them back to their ships. Between three and four in the afternoon the infantry transports arrived; and although Caesar does not expressly say so, it seems reasonable to assume that he communicated with their officers as well.1317 Between four and five the stream, which, for about six hours, had been running down the Channel, turned towards the east, and, as the wind was now blowing from a favourable quarter, Caesar gave the signal to weigh anchor.1318 A few minutes 316 later galleys, transports, and smaller craft, with all sail set, Late in the afternoon he sails on to Walmer—Deal. were running in an extended line past the Foreland, while the British chariots and cavalry, followed by their infantry, were hurrying across country to intercept them. In about an hour the armada was off the coast between Walmer and Deal, heading straight for the shore; and, while the galleys were held ready for emergencies, the transports were run aground.

The landing vigorously resisted.

Caesar now saw crowding upon him the troubles that were due to his lack of preparation. All along the beach a multitude of painted warriors,1319 with long moustaches and hair streaming over their shoulders, were drawn up ready for action. The transports were immovable in water so deep that the men, crowding in the bows, shrank from plunging in; and when some of them overcame their hesitation, they found themselves staggering and slipping, over-weighted by their armour and encumbered by the shields on their left arms and the javelins which they grasped in their right hands; while the Britons, standing securely on the beach, and the charioteers, driving their trained horses into the sea, harassed them with missiles to which they could not reply. Old soldiers as they were, they felt unnerved by difficulties which they had never encountered before. Caesar promptly sent the galleys to the rescue. Driven through the water at their utmost speed, they were ranged on the right flank of the enemy, who, alarmed by the long low rakish hulls, the like of which they had never seen, and distracted by the measured stroke of the oars, suddenly found themselves assailed by slingers and archers, and enfiladed by strange artillery. Unable to use their shields unless they changed front, they ceased to press their attack, stood still, and presently began to give ground. But few of the legionaries had yet ventured to enter the water; and the rest still hesitated to take advantage of the respite. Then the standard-bearer of the 10th legion, calling upon the gods for aid, turned to his comrades, and cried, ‘Leap down, men, unless you wish to abandon the eagle to the 317 enemy. I, at all events, shall have done my duty to my country and my general.’ Springing overboard, he advanced alone, holding the eagle above his head. The men plucked up courage, and, calling upon one another not to bring the legion to shame, leaped all together from the bows. Encouraged by their example, the men in the nearest vessels followed, and the fight became general.

But the advantage was still with the defenders. The galleys could not be everywhere at once. The Romans, though they could not get firm foothold, tried hard to keep their ranks and follow their respective standard-bearers; but they soon lost all formation. As men entered the sea from one ship or another, they attached themselves in bewilderment to any standard they came across; and the enemy on the shore, whenever they saw a few legionaries dropping one by one into the water, drove their horses in, and surrounded and attacked them before they could join their comrades; while others planted themselves on the exposed flank of a disordered unsupported group,1320 and showered missiles into their midst. Jarring with the shouts of the disciplined soldiers, resounded the harsh Celtic yell,1321 the clangour of the Celtic trumpet,1322 and invocations uttered in strange language to strange gods.1323 Caesar now manned his scouts and the boats belonging to the galleys, and sent them in different directions to assist all who were overmatched. Gradually the foremost bodies of legionaries fought their way on to the beach: the rest followed quickly Caesar’s victory indecisive owing to want of cavalry. in support; and now, closing their ranks and drawing their swords, they charged the enemy with exultant cries, and put them to flight. Want of cavalry, however, made it impossible to complete the victory.

The Romans encamp.

It was now near sunset. The site which Volusenus had noted for the camp was close to the sea; and while fatigue-parties were sent out to cut wood and the outposts took up 318 their appointed places, the rest of the troops fell to work with pick and shovel along the lines which had been marked out for them. The galleys were hauled up on the beach; but the transports were necessarily left at anchor. Until the cavalry should arrive it would not be prudent to venture into the interior; and we may suppose that a galley was sent back to the port of Ambleteuse, to inform their captains about the landing-place for which they were to steer.

British chiefs sue for peace.

It would seem that the resistance which the Britons had opposed to the disembarkation was purely local, and that no defensive league had been organized. The men of East Kent were disheartened by failure, and on the next day sent envoys to sue for peace. Some days before, when Commius had just landed and was formally communicating Caesar’s mandate to the chiefs, he had been arrested and imprisoned. The envoys, who brought him with them, begged Caesar to pardon this outrage, for which, they said, the ignorant rabble were responsible. He replied that their countrymen had made an unprovoked attack upon his army although they had spontaneously sent an embassy to Gaul to proffer submission; but he promised to accept their excuses on condition of their giving hostages. Part of the required number were handed over there and then, the envoys promising that the rest, who would have to be fetched from considerable distances, should be brought within a few days. The Britons who had fought at Walmer were ordered by their leaders to return home; and within the next few days tribal chiefs arrived from various districts, and formally surrendered.

The cavalry transports dispersed by a gale.

On the morning of the 30th of August the long-looked-for cavalry transports were descried in the offing. They had sailed from Ambleteuse with a light breeze; but as they were approaching the British coast a sudden gale prevented them from keeping on their course. ‘Some,’ wrote Caesar, ‘were carried back to the point from which they had started, while the others were swept down in great peril to the lower and more westerly part of the island. They anchored notwithstanding; but, as they were becoming waterlogged, they were forced to stand out to sea in the face of night, and 319 make for the Continent.’1324 The brief sentences tell a tale which cannot be mistaken. The ships which were swept down past the Foreland and the Dover cliffs scudded before the north-easterly gale;1325 and, although they were evidently in no danger of being driven ashore, they were in great peril because only the most watchful steering could prevent them from broaching to: if a heavy sea struck the stern, it might swing the vessel round, and in a moment she would be overset and founder. The ships which were carried back to the point from which they had started were of course handled differently. A sailing-vessel, caught by a gale, must either run before the wind or lie to. With these vessels the latter course was adopted. Carrying only just enough sail to keep them steady, they were laid to on the port tack; and once they had drifted past Cape Grisnez into comparatively sheltered water, they were able to stand in for the shore and make the port of Ambleteuse.1326 Not one of the eighteen vessels, not a single man among their crews, was lost; and this fact, which Caesar was careful to record, bears witness to the skilful seamanship of the Gauls.

Caesar’s fleet partially wrecked.

But on the shores of East Kent the gale was still raging; and the moon that shone out that night through the fleeting clouds was at the full. Caesar’s officers and, it would seem, Caesar himself were ignorant of the connexion between tide and moon; but if he had ever had leisure to study the writings of Pytheas or of Posidonius,1327 he would have known what he might expect. His Gallic pilots indeed could certainly have enlightened him; and there will always remain a doubt whether he did not know more than he chose to admit. It was high water about an hour before midnight; 320 and the seas that came rushing over the shingle before the north-east wind rose as high as a spring tide. The galleys which had been hauled up, as Caesar supposed, above high-water mark, were swept by the waves; the transports were driven ashore. Soldiers and crews could only look helplessly on. Several vessels were totally wrecked; and the rest lost their anchors, cables, and other tackle. No provision had been made against the chance of such a disaster; and the tools and materials that were needed for repairs were on the other side of the Channel. The whole army was seized with panic. Men asked one another how they were to subsist when they had no grain, and how they were to get back to Gaul when there were no ships to carry them.

The British chiefs prepare to renew hostilities.

The British chiefs who were still in the camp saw their opportunity. The coincidence of the shipwreck with the full moon was a good omen.1328 They knew that Caesar had no supplies; and although they did not know exactly the strength of his force, they saw that his camp was very small, and concluded that his troops were correspondingly few. Besides, his want of cavalry would place him at a disadvantage. Accordingly, they determined to recall their tribesmen, to prevent the Romans from getting supplies, and to harass them by an irregular warfare, in the hope that they would be able to starve them out, or at any rate prevent them from re-embarking until wintry weather should have set in. One by one they moved away from the camp without attracting observation.

Caesar labours to retrieve the disaster.

Meanwhile Caesar was doing his best to retrieve the disaster; and, although the chiefs managed to keep their plans secret, he suspected that they meant mischief. Moreover, the hostages who were still due did not arrive. The crops were ripe; and troops were detailed every day to get corn. A galley was sent back to Gaul to fetch everything that was required for repairing the ships. Twelve of them were so badly damaged that it was impossible to patch them up even for one voyage; but their timbers and bronze were utilized for the repair of the rest. All the legionaries who had any knowledge of carpentry or metal-working were employed 321 as shipwrights, and worked with such good will that within a few days the fleet had been made tolerably seaworthy.

The 7th legion surprised and attacked while cutting corn.

All this time natives were daily passing in and out of the camp; and no one in the Roman army suspected that trouble was brewing. At a considerable distance from Walmer there was a wood, close to which was a field of standing corn. Everywhere else the crops had been already cut; and to this spot the 7th legion was dispatched. The officer who commanded it neglected to send out scouts; and the troops laid aside their arms, and went to work securely with their reaping hooks. It is true that the only cavalry were Commius’s thirty retainers; but they might have done good service. It would seem that even the ordinary precaution of keeping some of the cohorts under arms was neglected.1329 Suddenly the enemy’s chariots and cavalry emerged from the wood, and swept down upon the unarmed and scattered reapers. The chariots careered at full gallop all over the field, the warriors who stood beside the drivers hurling javelins1330 or slinging stones at the legionaries as they were running to seize their arms, and intimidating them, as Caesar said, ‘by the mere terror inspired by their horses and the clatter of the wheels:’ presently the drivers passed into the intervals between the troops of their supporting cavalry; horsemen and charioteers charged together;1331 and while the warriors leaped from their chariots and fought as infantry, the drivers moved off to a safe distance, ready to receive them in case they were hard pressed. Meanwhile two cohorts were on guard as usual outside the gates of the camp;1332 and some of their number reported to Caesar that an 322 unusual amount of dust was rising in the direction in which the 7th had gone. His suspicions were aroused; and, ordering the two cohorts1333 to accompany him, two others to take their places, and the remaining cohorts of the 10th legion to leave their work, arm, and follow him immediately, he marched towards the corn-field. He had advanced some little distance before he came in sight of the legionaries, who were evidently unable to hold their own. Huddled together in a small space, with ranks disordered, they were surrounded by cavalry and charioteers, missiles flying into them from every side. Caesar was just in time. When the enemy saw reinforcements approaching they suspended their attack, and the 7th recovered from their panic. But if the enemy had no mind to renew the combat, Caesar did not feel able, without cavalry and with only two legions, one of which had just been so roughly handled, to strike an effective blow. ‘The moment,’ he afterwards explained, ‘was not favourable for challenging the enemy and forcing on a battle.’1334 Accordingly he contented himself with maintaining his ground, and, after a short interval, withdrew both legions into camp.

Military operations suspended owing to bad weather.

The tribesmen who had not yet rejoined their chiefs were on the way: but during the next few days stormy weather prevented the Romans from going out of camp and the enemy from attacking them. Such was Caesar’s statement; and it is not difficult to fathom his meaning. He would not attack a mobile enemy whom it was difficult to bring to action, but preferred to wait until they should attack him on his own ground, before his impregnable camp: on the other hand, the ground was so miry that for the time their chariots could not act. The Kentish chiefs, however, were 323 not idle. Messengers scoured the country, assured all who still remained passive that the Roman army was contemptible, and urged them to seize the opportunity of plundering their camp and securing their own independence for ever. A large body of horse and foot speedily assembled, and advanced towards the coast. If they had been commanded by one skilful leader, and had adhered to the simple plan of harassing the Romans when they were endeavouring to embark, they might have achieved something. But they were a mere aggregate of tribal levies under tribal chiefs; and greed and impatience worked their ruin. The one thought that troubled Caesar was that their speed would enable them to escape the consequences of defeat. They The Britons, attempting to rush Caesar’s camp, are defeated with heavy loss. made a wild attack upon the camp, and the legions, which were drawn up outside, of course scattered them. Commius’s horse were of some slight service in the pursuit; and the legionaries, who exerted themselves to the utmost, killed many of the fugitives, and burned all the buildings which they had time to reach.

Caesar compelled by the approach of the equinox to return to Gaul.

This success came just in time to enable Caesar to leave Britain with some show of credit. His departure could not be postponed. It was about the middle of September: the dreaded equinox was near; and, with his unsound ships, he would need a fine night for the voyage. He must therefore have been relieved when, on the very day of their defeat, the chiefs sent envoys to sue for peace. He ordered them to find twice as many hostages as he had demanded before; and, as he could not wait for them, the chiefs were to send them in their own or the merchants’ vessels to Gaul. Before he embarked he may have personally reconnoitred the coast north of Walmer: anyhow he decided that, when he returned in the following year, his best landing-place would be the sandy flats between Sandown and Sandwich, where, as we have seen, the seaward slope was gentler than Causes of his partial failure. that of the Walmer shingle.1335 But otherwise the objects for which he had undertaken the expedition had not been attained. The time for preparation had been too short. 324 Owing to the excessive draught of the transports, the disembarkation had entailed unnecessary loss: by neglecting to bring over supplies Caesar had exposed the 7th legion to the risk of a defeat which would have been calamitous; while the unfortunate absence of the cavalry had made it impossible to obtain any information about the nature of the country, and had weakened the effect of the final victory. The troops were embarked without opposition, and, taking advantage of a fair breeze, Caesar set sail just after midnight. The Two transports fail to make the Portus Itius: the troops whom they carried attacked by the Morini. fleet reached the opposite coast safely; but two of the transports, which perhaps were in worse condition than the rest, kept a little too far out to sea, and, failing to make the mouth of the Liane, drifted a few miles further down the coast and reached land somewhere north of the mouth of Canche. The soldiers who had disembarked from them, numbering about three hundred, were marching northward to join their comrades when they were intercepted and attacked by a band of the Morini, who belonged to one of the clans which had submitted a few weeks before. As the Romans were considerably outnumbered, they were obliged to form in a square; and, hearing the shouts of the combatants, large numbers flocked to join in the attack. The three hundred defended themselves with vigour; and four hours later, when Caesar’s cavalry came to the rescue, they were still unbeaten. The assailants speedily dispersed; Punishment of the Morini and Menapii. but next day Labienus marched against them with the two legions which had just returned from Britain, and almost all were taken prisoners. Titurius and Cotta, with the other legions, had been punishing the Menapii. Finding that they had taken refuge in their forests, they mercilessly ravaged the open country, cutting the corn and burning the hamlets. Thus, when the legions went into winter-quarters in the country of the Belgae, Caesar might feel that in the ensuing summer his base of operations would be secure. ‘Thither,’ he wrote dryly, ‘two British tribes and no more sent hostages: the rest neglected to do so.’1336 325

55 B.C.

When Caesar’s dispatches reached the Senate, they ordered Thanksgiving service at Rome for Caesar’s success. a thanksgiving service of twenty days to be held in honour his exploits. No one who is versed in Roman literature and gifted with historical imagination will regard the decree as ironical. For Caesar’s countrymen may well have felt that he had opened the way for the conquest of a new world. 326



55 B.C.

Caesar had learned the lessons which failure had taught Caesar builds a fleet for a second expedition. him. In the winter he was obliged, as usual, to go to Cisalpine Gaul, partly in order to discharge judicial and administrative business, partly to safeguard his own political interests in Italy. Before he left Belgium he ordered his generals to employ the legions in repairing the old ships and building a new fleet for the second expedition. He drew up minute instructions for their guidance. Two thousand cavalry horses, besides transport cattle, were to be conveyed across the Channel; and, as the campaign would probably be protracted, it would be impossible to leave all the heavy baggage behind, and imprudent to trust again for supplies to the resources of the country.1337 The ships were to be somewhat shallower than those which were commonly used in the Mediterranean, in order to facilitate the work of loading and to enable them to be hauled up on the shore: on the other hand, to make room for troops and freight, they were to be rather broader in the beam. Their low freeboard would admit of their being constructed for rowing as well as sailing;1338 and Caesar, who had noticed that the waves in the Channel were comparatively small, thought that it would involve no danger. But this shallowness, combined with unusual breadth, entailed a disadvantage which he had perhaps not foreseen: it would cause the vessels, unless the wind were right aft or on the quarter, to make a great deal of leeway.1339 It was of course impossible to build such a large 327 flotilla in one port. Some of the ships were to be constructed in the mouth of the Seine: others doubtless in the Portus Itius itself; others probably in the Canche, the Authie, and the Somme, possibly even on the Marne, far from the sea-coast.1340 The legionaries were ill provided with appliances for ship-building: but they might be trusted to do their best; and the tackle necessary for rigging and equipping the fleet was to be imported from Spain. The cost of the expedition would be very heavy: but Caesar was amassing wealth for himself and his lieutenants by plundering Gaul; and he certainly hoped to do more in Britain than recover his expenses.1341

News of these preparations must of course have flown swiftly across the Channel; but it is hardly surprising that the British chieftains did not take advantage of the time that was given them to mature a scheme of defence. Cassivellaunus was still intent on self-aggrandisement; and in the struggle with his neighbours, the Trinovantes, he slew Mandubracius flees from Britain and takes refuge with Caesar. their king, whose son, Mandubracius, contrived to escape, took ship for Gaul, and presented himself—the first of a series of British exiles who invited Roman interference—in Caesar’s camp. The exact date of his flight cannot be given: it is sufficient to know that he was with Caesar when the time arrived for the Roman army to embark.

Caesar winters in Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum.

Caesar did not start for Italy until the middle of November,1342 and after he had fulfilled the civil duties which awaited him in Cisalpine Gaul he was obliged to travel to the further shore of the Adriatic in order to punish a tribe which had been making devastating raids upon Illyricum. In the early spring he was again in Cisalpine Gaul, clearing off arrears of His correspondence with Cicero. work, and preparing to recross the Alps. Cicero for whom he had an unfeigned admiration, and whom he was always endeavouring to conciliate, was now upon the best of terms with him; and his correspondence throws a ray of light upon the hopes which had been awakened in Italy by the preparations for a fresh expedition to Britain. Caesar was of 328 course beset with letters of recommendation written by public men on behalf of friends who hoped to acquire riches in Gaul or Britain; and Cicero wrote one, as he alone knew how to write, begging him to do something for a young lawyer, named Trebatius, who was destined to achieve distinction as a jurist. Caesar, however pressed with business he might be, received all such applications, when they came from men whom he cared to conciliate, with good humour. ‘Just as I was speaking,’ wrote Cicero, ‘to our friend Balbus at my house, a letter from you was handed to me, at the end of which you say: “Rufus, whom you recommend to me, I will make King of Gaul.... Send me some one else to provide for!” ... I therefore send you Trebatius.’1343 The confiding lawyer wanted to make a fortune without having to work for it: but Cicero banteringly told him to moderate his expectations. ‘I hear,’ he wrote, ‘there is no gold or silver in Britain. If so, I advise you to capture a war-chariot and come back in it as soon as you can.’1344 He ended his letter by telling Trebatius that if he wished to cultivate Caesar’s friendship, he must take the trouble to make himself useful. Caesar bestowed upon him the rank of tribune, exempting him from military duty, for which he was manifestly unfit; but, after a short experience of camp life, he made up his mind that the expedition would involve more hardship than profit, and preferred to remain in Gaul. But Caesar had gained another adherent who turned out a real soldier. Quintus Cicero, the orator’s younger brother, had consented to serve on his staff as a legatus, or general of division;1345 and a few words from a letter in which this consent is alluded to illustrate the gracious tact which helped Caesar to gain adherents. ‘Caesar,’ writes Marcus Cicero to his brother, ‘has written to Balbus that the little bundle of letters in which mine and Balbus’s were packed was so 329 saturated with rain when it was delivered to him that he was not even aware that there was one from me. However, he had made out a few words of Balbus’s, to which he replied as follows:—“I see you have written something about [Quintus] Cicero, which I have not deciphered: but as far as I could guess, it was of a kind that I might wish, but hardly hope to be true.”’1346 On the 30th of April Quintus was with Cicero’s hopes and fears about the second British expedition. Caesar at Blandeno, a small town near Placentia. Marcus knew of course that Quintus was to accompany the expedition to Britain; and he indulged the fancy that Caesar’s exploits would furnish him with a theme for a heroic poem. ‘Only give me Britain,’ he wrote to Quintus, ‘to paint in colours supplied by you, but with my own brush.’1347 But he must have soon received discouraging news; for early in June1348 he wrote to Atticus:—‘The result of the British expedition is a source of anxiety. For it is notorious that the approaches to the island are ramparted by astonishing masses of cliff; and, besides, it is now known that there isn’t a pennyweight of silver in the island, nor any hope of loot except from slaves; and I don’t suppose you expect any of them to be a scholar or a musician.’1349

Caesar returns to Gaul.

By this time Caesar and his new lieutenant, having posted across Gaul at the rate of fifty miles a day or more,1350 must have reached the country of the Belgae; and there is no more conclusive proof of the hold which he had already obtained upon the Gallic tribes than the fact that he was 330 able to count, as securely as in Italy, upon finding horses ready for each successive stage. He immediately proceeded to inspect the various shipyards, near which the troops were encamped, and was well satisfied with the manner in which his instructions had been executed. ‘Thanks,’ he wrote, ‘to the extraordinary energy of the troops, and in spite of the extreme deficiency of resources, about six hundred vessels of the class specified and twenty-eight ships of war had been built, and would probably be ready for launching in a few days.’1351 Caesar, who knew the stimulating power of discriminative praise, bestowed hearty commendation upon officers and men, and gave orders that the ships, as soon as they were ready for sea, should all assemble in the Portus Itius. For this purpose he detached an adequate He is obliged to march to the country of the Treveri. number of troops. Meanwhile his presence was urgently required in the country of the Treveri, a powerful tribe who inhabited parts of Luxembourg and Rhenish Prussia, and whose name survives in that of the modern Trèves. A squadron of cavalry furnished by this people had served on his side in the battle with the Nervii, and had deserted in a body at a moment when it seemed that he was doomed to defeat. Since that day the Treveri had refused to send representatives to attend the councils of Gallic magnates which he periodically convened; and he was now informed that they were making overtures to the Germans. Unless he recalled them to obedience, it was more than probable that while he was absent in Britain, Gauls and Germans would raise a rebellion in his rear. Accordingly, he marched against the malcontents with four lightly equipped legions and eight hundred cavalry. Fortunately for him the Treveri were not unanimous. Two rival leaders, Indutiomarus and Cingetorix, were struggling for supremacy. Cingetorix at once threw in his lot with Caesar, and gave him full information of all that was going on. Indutiomarus began to raise levies, and prepared to resist; but, finding that most of his fellow chieftains were going over to the 331 stronger side, he sent envoys to Caesar, and endeavoured to explain away his conduct. Unwilling to lose time, Caesar feigned to accept his excuses, and contented himself with taking hostages for his good behaviour.

Returning to the Portus Itius, he finds fleet and army assembled.

It was near the middle of June when he returned to the camp on the Liane. More than eight hundred vessels of all sorts were in the harbour, including numerous small craft, constructed by rich officers who desired to make the voyage in comfort, by merchants who had dealings with the troops, or by adventurers who, we may suppose, had been attracted by stories of the wealth of Britain;1352 but sixty of Caesar’s ships had encountered contrary winds, and failed to arrive.1353 The entire Roman army, comprising eight legions, perhaps about thirty-five thousand men, besides slingers, archers, and four thousand Gallic cavalry, were assembled on the spot. The notables from all the tribes had also repaired He resolves to take Gallic chiefs of doubtful fidelity as hostages to Britain. thither in obedience to Caesar’s summons. He was aware that there was much smouldering discontent among them, and he intended to take all but the few on whose fidelity he could depend, as hostages across the Channel. Among these was one whose name, as written by Caesar, was Dumnorix, and whose coins, bearing the legend DUBNOREIX,1354 still testify to the authority which he exercised. He was the most powerful chieftain of the Aedui, the most powerful Gallic tribe, whose territories, corresponding with the Nivernais and Western Burgundy, gave access to all parts of Northern and Western Gaul; who, from the time when the legions first entered Transalpine Gaul, had borne the honorary title of ‘Friends and Allies of the Roman People’; and whom it had been Caesar’s constant policy to treat with special favour. Dumnorix was the leader of the anti-Roman faction which existed in this as in almost every other Gallic tribe. He was a man of boundless ambition, the vehemence of whose character was out of all proportion with his judgement: 332 he had amassed great wealth, which enabled him to maintain an army of retainers; and he had great influence not only with the lower orders in his own country but also with the Gauls of every tribe who wished to rid themselves of the Roman dominion. For the last four years his intrigues had caused anxiety to Caesar. He had been secretly in league with the Helvetian invaders at the time when Caesar marched to encounter them; and in the early part of the campaign his own brother, the famous Druid, Diviciacus, as well as the chief magistrate of his own tribe, had advised Caesar to beware of him. At that time Caesar had not felt sufficiently secure in his new position to punish him; he had simply given him a severe reprimand and a stern warning, but had ever since employed spies to watch his movements. It was now reported that Dumnorix had announced in the Aeduan tribal council that Caesar intended to make him king, and that the announcement had been received with alarm and indignation. There are writers who believe that Caesar had really offered him the throne in order to purchase his support: but it is hardly credible that he would have made such a gross miscalculation; and there is more reason in concluding that Dumnorix had spread a false report in order to estrange the loyal Aeduans from Caesar’s side. At all events he was irreconcilable; Dumnorix resolves not to go. and he determined that to Britain he would not go. He began by imploring Caesar to allow him to remain behind, pleading that he was not accustomed to the sea, and dreaded it, and insisting that he was debarred by religious obligations from leaving the Continent. Finding Caesar obdurate, he approached his brother chieftains, and adjured them to join him in refusing to go, assuring them that Caesar only wanted to get them out of Gaul in order that he might safely put them to death. Caesar did his utmost to keep him quiet, at the same time informing himself through his agents of all The fleet weatherbound. that he said and did. Meanwhile the fleet was lying idle in the harbour. All the preparations were complete: but continuous north-westerly winds made it impossible to sail; and we may safely presume that the troops, who might be required to row the transports, were employed in learning 333 to use their oars. The two Ciceros were in constant correspondence; and the elder brother was impatiently waiting for the announcement that the campaign had begun. On the 2nd of July he wrote to Atticus, ‘Judging from my brother Quintus’s letter, I imagine that by this time he is in Britain. I am anxiously waiting for news of his movements.’1355 The fleet had been weatherbound then for about three weeks; and the chief of Caesar’s commissariat, who succeeded in feeding forty thousand men for so long a period in an unfriendly country, must have possessed rare powers of organization. At length the wind shifted; and infantry and cavalry began to embark. Suddenly, while every man in the force had his thoughts concentrated on the work in hand, Caesar received news that Dumnorix and his Aeduan troopers had gone. Instantly he stopped the embarkation; and a strong detachment of cavalry was soon riding in pursuit with orders to bring Dumnorix back, or, if he resisted, to kill him on the spot: for, as Caesar afterwards said, ‘he thought that a man who disregarded his authority when he was present would not behave rationally in his absence.’1356 The fate of Dumnorix. Adjuring his retainers to be true to him, Dumnorix resisted desperately; but he was surrounded and slain, passionately crying with his last breath that he was a free man and a citizen of a free country.

Caesar sets sail, leaving Labienus in charge of Gaul.

It was about the 6th of July, probably the day after this episode, when the embarkation took place.1357 Commius, still friendly to Rome, was to accompany the expedition, as well as Mandubracius, the Trinovantian prince who had placed himself under Caesar’s protection. The slaughter of Dumnorix, following the temporary submission of Indutiomarus, had relieved Caesar from imminent danger: but he knew that to keep a hold on the half-subdued and restless peoples whom he was leaving behind would require all the ability of his ablest lieutenant; and there are indications in 334 his narrative that he hoped, if all went well, to winter in Britain, and thus to find time not merely to deter the Britons from combining with the Gauls, but to conquer the south-eastern part of the country.1358 Labienus therefore remained in charge of the camp and port with three legions and two thousand cavalry. He was to keep the expeditionary force supplied with corn, ascertain all that was passing in Gaul, and act on his own discretion according to circumstances. Among the divisional commanders that accompanied Caesar was Gaius Trebonius, an intimate friend of Marcus Cicero,1359 who, two years before, had proposed, in the interests of the triumvirate, the law by which the province of Syria was assigned to Crassus, and the two provinces of Spain to Pompey. Late in the afternoon all was ready for the start, the flotilla lying moored in the harbour with five legions and two thousand cavalry on board. The ebb stream was running slowly down the coast. Towards sunset the hawsers were cast off,1360 and the ships steered north by west before a light south-westerly wind. The moon was invisible,1361 but at that time of the year there is no real night in these latitudes; and perhaps, as in the preceding year, each vessel hoisted a lantern when the twilight waned. About ten o’clock the stream began to run up the Channel, and for a time the vessels made good progress. By midnight the leading division was not far off the South Foreland, and somewhere near what is now the southern end of the Goodwin Sands; but it is probable that in steering, sufficient allowance had not been made for the current, and that the shallow flat-bottomed vessels had already drifted to leeward away from their true course. And now the wind, which had been gradually dying down, almost entirely dropped, only retaining The fleet drifts north-eastward out of its course. just sufficient force to give steerage way. Borne along by a rapid flood, the armada drifted into the North Sea; and about a quarter past three, when day broke, Caesar descried the white cliffs of Kingsdown and the South Foreland 335 receding on the port quarter. Right opposite, but hardly discernible, was the low coast on which he had landed in the previous year. We may assume that when he saw where he was drifting he anchored for a time. Presently the stream ceased to run up the Channel, and, after a few minutes’ slack water, the ebb set in.1362 The Romans had a system of naval signalling,1363 and either by this means or by oral instructions conveyed from vessel to vessel, the order was given to go about and run down Channel with the stream. The soldiers on board the transports got out their oars. For some time their work was easy; but when, not far from the spot where the South Sand Head Light Vessel is now moored, the ships’ heads were turned in the direction of Sandwich, they encountered a cross current setting towards the south-west.1364 Although the transports were heavily laden, they toiled with an energy which earned Caesar’s warm admiration, and actually The landing-place, between Sandown Castle and Sandwich, reached by rowing. succeeded in keeping up with the galleys. About noon the whole fleet had reached the landing-place; but no enemy was to be seen, and in the course of the day a galley was speeding back across the Channel with one of Caesar’s couriers on board, who carried, besides other dispatches, a letter in which Quintus Cicero informed his brother that all was well.1365

Leaving the fleet at anchor in charge of a brigade, Caesar marches against the Britons,

While the troops and baggage were being disembarked, Caesar chose a site for his camp, perhaps on the slight eminence near the village of Worth. Some prisoners were soon brought in by the cavalry and questioned. They stated that their countrymen had assembled in large numbers to oppose the landing, but that, on observing the huge size of the the armada, they had abandoned the shore and retreated to higher ground inland. Caesar determined to march against them that very night, and accordingly accepted the risk of not hauling his ships up on shore, an operation which would have consumed valuable time. He had not forgotten the disaster of the previous year; but, as the shore where he now left the ships at anchor was not only perfectly open but 336 sloped very gently seaward, he felt little anxiety for their safety.1366 He mentioned this fact in his memoirs1367 with an emphasis which suggests that he wished to deprecate professional criticism. Moreover, the storm which had wrought such havoc before had occurred on the night of a full moon: the moon was now new; and it may be doubted whether Caesar had studied the writings of the Greek astronomers, or consulted the pilots, from whom he would have learned that the tides at new and at full moon are virtually identical. Ten cohorts selected from the various legions, or about four thousand men, and three hundred cavalry were left, under the command of an officer named Quintus Atrius, to protect the fleet. Soon after midnight Caesar set out against the enemy. We may presume that he had sent a troop of cavalry in the afternoon to reconnoitre; but he must have trusted to his prisoners for information as to the whereabouts of the British force. It was posted on high ground overlooking Durovernum, the village which stood upon the site of Canterbury, and which the Romans afterwards linked by a system of roads with their settlements at London, Reculver, Richborough, Dover, and Stutfall near West Hythe. The general direction of Caesar’s march is indicated by the road which runs across the gently undulating and somewhat featureless country between Sandwich and Canterbury. He had advanced about eleven miles when, in the early morning, he descried the enemy’s cavalry and charioteers descending from high ground towards the left bank of the Stour. The spot where he encountered them must have been somewhere between Sturry on the east of Canterbury, and Thanington on the west; and military experts who know the country will probably conclude that it was near the latter.1368 The enemy had doubtless attempted to occupy the whole range of low hills which closes the valley of the Stour between these two points, prepared to oppose the legions wherever they might attempt to cross. It would seem, however, 337 that their resistance was comparatively feeble, perhaps because they were surprised, and, having needlessly strung out their forces, were unable to concentrate in time. Caesar forces the passage of the Stour near Canterbury, may have sent a detachment to turn their position: anyhow they were driven from the banks after a combat which he recorded in a single sentence. Retreating to the higher ground, they took up their position in a stronghold situated in the midst of woods,—probably the earthwork, about a mile and a half west of Canterbury, through which runs the Pilgrims’ Way, and within which, as we have seen, have been discovered iron implements and weapons of pre-Roman age.1369 The legions, pressing after them, found the entrances blocked by abatis; and when they attempted to force their way in, the Britons, issuing from the woods in small groups, assailed them with showers of missiles. It would appear from Caesar’s narrative that the rampart, or at least a part of it, extended along the edge of the wood. The 7th legion was selected for the assault. Advancing in a dense column, with shields close-locked over their heads, they shot earth or fascines into the ditch so as to form a causeway flush with the top of the rampart; and it may be conjectured that the work was performed by men who advanced between the files under the protection of their comrades’ uplifted shields.1370 and storms a fort, to which they had retreated. In this way the entrenchment, which, like all the British forts that Caesar saw, was weaker than the great strongholds of Western Britain, was speedily captured with small loss; and the Britons were expelled from the woods. The legionaries followed up their success, but Caesar soon stopped the pursuit. He was afraid to run the risk of letting his troops get entangled in a wooded country, of the intricacies of which he was ignorant; and, as it was late in the afternoon, he was obliged to utilize the remaining hours of daylight for the construction of his camp.

Next morning he sends three columns in pursuit,

Early next morning he dispatched his cavalry in three columns, each supported by a strong body of infantry, to hunt down the fugitives. The pursuers had advanced a considerable distance from the camp, the rearguard being 338 still in sight,1371 when some troopers rode up to Caesar with a note from Atrius. A storm had arisen on the previous night: the ships had parted from their anchors, collided with one another, and almost all been dashed ashore and damaged. but is forced to recall them by news that many of his ships had been wrecked. Caesar sent gallopers to recall the pursuing columns, and order them to march back to the coast, defending themselves, if necessary, against a counter-attack, and started in person for the scene of the wreck.1372 When he arrived, he found that Atrius’s report was accurate: about forty ships were totally destroyed; but, after inspecting the rest, he saw that it would be possible to repair them. In the course of the day the legions arrived. The men who had enlisted as skilled craftsmen were segregated and set to work; and galleys were sent to Labienus with a letter in which he was ordered to dispatch gangs of shipwrights from his three legions, and to employ the rest of the men in building new He beaches the ships, constructs a naval camp, and repairs damage. vessels. Caesar reluctantly concluded that the only way of preventing another disaster was to have all the ships hauled up on land out of reach of the highest spring tides. They were doubtless moved in the usual way, by capstans over greased logs, which the Romans called phalangae;1373 and then, in order to secure them against attack, an earthwork was thrown up round them, and connected with the existing camp. The amount of labour which these operations entailed was enormous: but there were some twenty thousand willing workers; and by employing them in relays all day and all night, Caesar was able to complete the task in about ten days. The repairs of course required a longer time.

Results of the disaster.

This second shipwreck was a calamity of which the mere loss in ships formed the smallest part. It changed the course of the campaign. Why had not Caesar restrained his eagerness to close with the enemy, and employed every available man in beaching the vessels which he had constructed with that very aim? Granted that it might not have been possible to complete even the mere work of dragging them all out of reach of the waves before the storm began, he would still have done right in not presuming 339 upon the favour of fortune. Nobody knew better how necessary it is, especially in making war upon a half-civilized enemy, to complete all preparations, even at the cost of delay, before opening the campaign, so as to lose not a moment in following up an initial success, and to give fugitives no time to recover from their demoralization. Less than two days after he set foot in Britain he had dealt the enemy a succession of heavy blows, and the game was in his hands,—when all that he had done was undone by his own carelessness. Britons saw Romans in full retreat, and concluded that they were not invincible.

Caesar again marches towards Canterbury. Cassivellaunus elected commander-in-chief of the Britons.

By the time when the naval camp was finished the season was far advanced. It was near the end of the third week in July when Caesar was able to renew his campaign. The Britons had made good use of their respite. The tribes had suspended their feuds: Cassivellaunus had been called upon by a general assembly of notables1374 to undertake the chief command with full powers; and a large force, composed of contingents from all, or almost all, the cantons of the south-eastern district, had marched to join the men of East Kent. We may doubt whether the Trinovantes had not held aloof; but if they had been forced to join the league, they were half-hearted. It is certain that, before Caesar had been long in the island, they sent envoys, promising submission and begging him to send Mandubracius back to them as their ruler and to protect him against Cassivellaunus. He allowed Mandubracius to depart, only stipulating that the Trinovantes should give him forty hostages and provide grain for his army; and readers who can interpret the Commentaries will conclude that the embassy was dispatched before he had advanced far into the interior, and doubtless as soon as he had proved his superiority. He left the same force as before—ten cohorts and three hundred cavalry—to protect the camp, and marched once more in the direction of Canterbury. As he was approaching the valley of the Stour, the enemy’s cavalry and charioteers commenced a fierce running fight with his Gallic cavalry; but they were 340 beaten back at all points and driven to take refuge on the The Romans harassed by British charioteers. wooded heights near the river. The Gallic cavalry, however, over-eager to pursue, and getting entangled in ground which was unknown to them, suffered considerable loss; and soon afterwards, while the legionaries, careless of danger, were engaged in entrenching their camp, the enemy suddenly swooped down upon the cohort on guard and began to overpower it. Caesar had not yet learned due respect for his enemy; otherwise he would have kept a much more powerful force, as he had done on a similar occasion in Gaul, to protect the working-parties. He sent two cohorts, however, to support the struggling guard and cut off the retreat of the assailants. These reinforcements were separated from one another by a narrow interval: the men who composed them, and who had not served in the preceding year, were unnerved by the novel tactics of the charioteers; and the enemy boldly rushed through the interval, and got back to the main body unhurt. Several additional cohorts, accompanied by cavalry, were sent to retrieve the situation. The combat was clearly visible from the camp; and Caesar saw that his troops, who had so often routed their continental enemies, were at a serious disadvantage. The Britons fought not in close order but in small groups, separated by wide intervals; and when these were tired, their places were taken by reserves. Whenever a group was hard pressed by the legionaries, the men who composed it ran away: the Romans, weighted by their heavy armour, were ineffective in pursuit; and, besides, accustomed as they were to fight in compact masses, they and their officers naturally failed to adapt themselves to new conditions. Again, when the Gallic cavalry charged the charioteers, the latter drove rapidly away; and, as soon as they had withdrawn their assailants from the support of the legions, the warriors leaped to the ground, and, supported by their own cavalry, fought as infantry, with the odds in their favour.1375 A tribune named Quintus Laberius Durus was killed; but at length the reinforcements which Caesar sent up succeeded in beating back the Britons, or 341 at all events deterring them for the moment from renewing their attack.

All this time Caesar was doubtless fighting to gain the line of the road or trackway by which he would have to march westward into the interior of Britain and assail the dominions of Cassivellaunus. But it was of course out of the question to begin his march until he had inflicted a crushing defeat upon the allies; and, as he saw now, their game was to avoid a general action. On the following day, however, a chance presented itself. In the morning the enemy, who had taken up a position on the heights at some distance from the Roman camp, moved down, as before, in scattered groups, and began to assail the cavalry outposts, but with somewhat diminished vigour. The outposts fell back; and presently the whole of the cavalry were sent out, along with three of the legions, under Gaius Trebonius, on a foraging expedition. Part of the force proceeded to cut grass, while the rest remained drawn up in support. Suddenly the enemy rushed down from all points on the foragers, and, made reckless by success, ‘did not even hesitate,’ as Caesar wrote, ‘to attack the ordered ranks of the legions.’1376 Trebonius routs the Britons. The Romans charged them fiercely, and took ample revenge for the previous day. The Britons were driven from the field, hotly pursued by Trebonius and his men, until the Gallic cavalry, relying upon the support of the legions, which still followed as closely as they could, hunted them in headlong rout, cutting them down in numbers, and never giving them a chance of rallying. Not even the charioteers could get a moment’s respite, or dared to dismount and turn The British infantry disperse. upon their pursuers. This defeat was decisive. The tribal levies of foot at once dispersed to their homes; and ‘from that time’, wrote Caesar, ‘the enemy never encountered us in a general action.’1377

War-chariots versus Roman troops.

Cassivellaunus had learned a lesson which his kinsmen on the other side of the Channel were already taking to heart. 342 His undisciplined foot were evidently powerless to contend against the legions on a fair field, and, except behind works, in a strong position, or in attacking small bodies which had been carelessly isolated, they were of little use. The Celtic infantry of the more warlike tribes were not indeed to be despised. The Helvetii with their allies made a stubborn fight against Caesar: the Parisian confederation under the veteran Camulogenus tested the mettle of Labienus; and the issue of the battle with the Nervii remained long doubtful. But in all these combats the Celts had a great numerical advantage; and in all they were beaten to the verge of annihilation. Cassivellaunus saw that his object was not to be attained by regular warfare. Moreover, it is certain that, during a prolonged campaign, he would have been unable to feed a large army. But he still had four thousand charioteers with the cavalry who supported them;1378 and on them he determined to rely. The success with which he had already used them makes us wonder why the Continental Celts had abandoned the arm which their insular kinsmen wielded with such effect. Less than a century before Caesar crossed the Alps chariots had been generally employed in Eastern and in Central Gaul.1379 Chariots have been found in scores in the great sepulchres of the Iron Age which have been opened in Burgundy and Champagne, while in the British barrows their remains are extremely rare.1380 It is evident to every reader of the Commentaries that Caesar was at his wits’ end to know how to adapt his organization to this strange form of resistance; and it is equally evident that on his own side of the Channel he never encountered it at all. The most satisfactory explanation is to be found in a passage of the Commentaries from which we learn that the Gauls spent large sums in buying well-bred horses.1381 Evidently they discarded chariots for cavalry when they began to import from Southern Europe horses which were powerful enough to carry big men and charge 343 with effect.1382 The German cavalry, it is true, had only small underbred cattle; but they were virtually mounted infantry.1383 The British may have been well or ill mounted; but for the most part British horses were no bigger than ponies,1384 able to draw a light car but not to gallop fast with heavy riders. Still, whoever calls to mind how in the last Samnite War the Gallic chariots routed the Roman cavalry,1385 will perhaps doubt whether the Gauls did well to abandon chariots altogether in favour of mounted troops.

Nevertheless the reader who trusts to his first impressions of Caesar’s narrative is prone to exaggerate the successes of the British charioteers. Their object was to break up the formation of their opponents; and this they could only do when carelessness gave them an opening. The punishment which they inflicted upon the 7th legion was invited by the almost incredible negligence of its commander: the check which Caesar himself suffered in the following year befell an outpost of inadequate strength. In irregular warfare chariots could cause serious trouble; but the difficulty which Caesar found in dealing with them was partly due to the fact that his army, like all Roman armies, was weak in cavalry,—and in cavalry of the right kind. If he could have taken to Britain one of those German squadrons with their attendant light infantry which so effectively supported him in the war with Vercingetorix, he would have had less trouble in his encounters with the British charioteers.

Caesar marches for the country of Cassivellaunus,

Caesar now marched for the country of Cassivellaunus, who, as he divined, intended thenceforth to wage a guerrilla warfare. The troops must have carried in their wallets rations for several days, drawn from the magazine in the naval camp; for they could not count upon getting supplies from the farms till they reached the territory of the Trinovantes; and we may be sure that Caesar, venturing into an unexplored country and against so troublesome an enemy, dispensed as far as possible with transport. What route he 344 followed is an interesting but perhaps insoluble question. He dismisses the story of the march, which must have occupied nearly a week, in a single sentence, which contains no clue. We know only that he started from the neighbourhood of Canterbury, and that he crossed the Thames at or not far from Brentford.1386 It is, however, morally certain that he marched either by the trackway on the line of which the Romans of a later period made the great road called Watling Street, which crosses the Medway between Rochester and Strood, or along the southern slope of the chalk escarpment, and across the Medway at Aylesford or Halling. All the antiquities of Roman or pre-Roman age that have been discovered in Kent, west of the maritime tract which is bounded by a line drawn from Reculver through Canterbury and Lympne to Romney, have come from sites clustering alongside these routes.1387 That Caesar makes no mention of the Medway has no significance. He must have crossed it somewhere; and it is certain that he crossed many rivers to which he never alluded unless the passage had some tactical or strategical importance. His narrative shows that his object was to inflict the greatest damage possible upon the enemy’s homesteads and farms; and we may reasonably suppose that he followed the route, leading through a fertile and populous country, which his successors selected, diverged from it somewhere near Rochester, and thence advanced by way of Bromley. But the matter is of no great consequence. Caesar demands from his readers not only attention and intelligence, but also expert knowledge; but from those who possess these qualifications he rarely withholds necessary information: when he baffles their curiosity, his silence does not prevent them from understanding what is essential.

whose chariots harass his cavalry.

During a great part of the march Cassivellaunus dogged the Roman column. Caesars object was to strike terror; and despoil the inhabitants of their chief source of wealth,—their flocks and herds. But Cassivellaunus soon taught him 345 a lesson of caution. He succeeded in ascertaining what route the Romans intended to pursue, and sent messengers to warn the inhabitants to drive their cattle into the woods and to fly for refuge thither themselves. Knowing every inch of the country, and having the advantage of superior mobility, he would conceal his force in some wooded spot, and when he saw the Roman horsemen diverge from the column and ride forth to plunder, swoop down upon them and inflict heavy loss. Caesar was compelled to keep his cavalry, who were terrorized by these unforeseen attacks, in constant touch with the infantry; while the legions, whose powers of endurance were taxed to the uttermost, moved off the road from time to time, and burned and ravaged whatever they could reach.1388

Caesar crosses the Thames.

Caesar had ascertained that the Thames, in that part of its course which formed the southern boundary of the territory of Cassivellaunus, was only fordable at one spot; and since the time of Camden it has generally been supposed that this was close to Halliford,—the only place, it is said, between Hurleyford, about two miles west of Great Marlow, and the sea, whose name preserves the memory of an ancient ford.1389 Evidence, however, has lately been adduced which makes it more probable that Caesar was describing Brentford; for, though the name may only have denoted a ford over the Brent, in this part only of the lower Thames have piles been discovered in dredging operations which could reasonably be identified with the obstacles that threatened the passage of the Roman army.1390 When the column descended into the valley, Caesar found that Cassivellaunus had anticipated him. The further bank was fenced by a row of sharp stakes, behind which were massed Cassivellaunus’s tribesmen; and Caesar learned from prisoners and deserters that similar stakes, concealed by the water, were planted in the bed of the river. He sent his cavalry behind cover to swim the stream close by; and at the right moment the column of infantry plunged into the water, and advanced to the attack. Caesar had calculated that the British levies 346 would be distracted by the onset of the cavalry upon their flanks and rear; but the infantry were determined to have the credit for themselves. We may suppose that, while they were removing the stakes, the slingers and archers harassed the enemy.1391 ‘The infantry,’ wrote Caesar, ‘advanced with such swiftness and dash, though they had only their heads above water, that the enemy, unable to withstand the combined onset of cavalry and infantry, abandoned the bank and fled.’1392

Cassivellaunus orders the kings of Kent to attack the naval camp.

But Cassivellaunus did not despair. Before Caesar crossed the Thames, he had sent mounted messengers to order the four petty kings of Kent to raise all their tribesmen instantly and make a sudden attack upon the naval camp.1393

Meanwhile Caesar was moving eastward into the country Caesar enters the country of the Trinovantes, who furnish hostages and grain. of the Trinovantes. Cassivellaunus haunted his line of march as before, and pursued the same harassing tactics; but the legionaries succeeded in doing considerable damage. When, however, they crossed the frontier of the Trinovantes, Caesar was careful to restrain them from committing any act of violence. The Trinovantes punctually handed over the hostages and delivered the grain which Caesar had required from them; and several other tribes which had joined the defensive league, seeing that they had been rewarded for their Five of the confederate tribes submit. submission, sent envoys to announce their surrender. These tribes were the Cenimagni, the Segontiaci, the Ancalites, the Bibroci, and the Cassi. The last three do not reappear in history: they were evidently dependent tribes, and nothing is known about their geographical position except that they lived somewhere in the basin of the Thames, on the west or possibly on the north of the Trinovantian territory in Essex.1394 The territory of the Segontiaci, judging by 347 coins, may have been conterminous with, and was probably north of that of the Atrebates,1395 who occupied parts of Hampshire and Berkshire.1396 The Cenimagni may have been the people who dwelt in Suffolk and Norfolk,1397 and who, under the name of Eceni or Iceni, rose in revolt under Boadicea, a century later, against the Romans. The envoys told Caesar that the stronghold of Cassivellaunus was not far off, and that a large number of the inhabitants with their flocks and herds had taken refuge in it. Possibly it was Verulamium, near St. Albans,1398 which was in later times the capital of the son and successor of Cassivellaunus, though Caesar seems to imply that there was no permanent settlement within the fortress: at any rate it was not far west of the river Lea, which formed the boundary of the Trinovantes. When Caesar arrived, he found that the stronghold was protected by woods and marshes, and fortified with a rampart and trench: but the legions, advancing on two sides, speedily carried the place by assault: many of the Britons, as they were endeavouring to escape, were caught and killed; and all their cattle were taken.

Attack on the naval camp repulsed.

Meanwhile the counter-attack which Cassivellaunus had ordered had been delivered. The extent of the naval camp, enclosing as it did several hundred vessels, might appear disproportionate to the slender force to which Caesar had entrusted its defence; but he had made no miscalculation. Probably the entrenchment was protected at intervals by towers like those which he used to strengthen his lines at Alesia, and from which artillery could play upon the flanks 348 of the assailants. A chieftain named Lugotorix was chosen to lead the assault; but the garrison made a sortie, beat off the Britons with considerable loss, and captured their commander.

Caesar’s hurried journey to the coast and its significance.

It was perhaps just after this event that Caesar, accompanied by a flying column, made a journey to the coast, of which he omits all mention in the Commentaries. His silence, which can hardly have been unintentional, certainly suggests that the news of the attack—perhaps the information that it was about to be delivered—caused him serious anxiety. On the 5th of August (the 1st of September of the unreformed calendar) he wrote a letter from the naval camp to Marcus Cicero. A service of dispatch vessels had been organized, which plied from time to time between the Kentish coast and the Portus Itius. Caesar had found time to write at least once before; and the younger Cicero had sent a long series of letters to his brother, whose allusions to them reveal something of the inner history of the campaign. In the first week of August he replied to the one which had described the safe arrival of the armada:—‘How I rejoiced at your letter from Britain. I was nervous about the sea and the coast of that island. I don’t underrate what you have still to do; but there is more ground for hope than fear.’1399 On the 1st of September he dispatched a long letter, written in instalments, in which he acknowledged the receipt of four successive letters:—‘I gather from yours,’ he said, ‘that we have no occasion either for fear or exultation.’1400 The letter to which he here alludes—the first of the series—was written before the 16th of July, that is to say, while the construction of the naval camp was still going on. Caesar’s first letter was written in a spirit so friendly that it gave him the keenest pleasure, mingled with pain; for he knew that Caesar could not long remain in ignorance of the death of his daughter, Julia, the wife of Pompey. Towards the end of the 349 letter of September 1 he says, ‘Caesar wrote me a letter on the 5th of August, which reached me on the 31st, satisfactory enough as regards affairs in Britain, in which, to prevent my wondering at not getting one from you, he tells me that you were not with him when he reached the coast.’1401 Caesar did not, it would seem, write again until the 29th of August, after which about a fortnight elapsed before he quitted the island; and it is hardly credible that he should have spent more than five weeks inactive at the sea. The only conclusion is that he had some urgent motive for leaving the main body of his army and undertaking a journey of seventy miles, and that this journey was connected with the attack upon the camp. Perhaps he desired to see for himself that the defences were secure against any future attempt, to reinforce the garrison, and to ascertain what progress had been made in the repair of the fleet.1402

Cassivellaunus sues for peace.

But Cassivellaunus had by this time begun to lose heart. His country had been harried without mercy; his people had been dragged off by hundreds to be sold as slaves; and—what he valued most of all—his cattle had been taken away from him. Discredited by reverses, he had not been able to hold his ill-assorted confederates together; their defection left him powerless to retrieve his fortunes; and his last great stroke had failed. He therefore sent envoys to the Roman camp to propose surrender, and requested Commius to negotiate for him.1403 Caesar, on his part, was glad to be able to leave the island with a semblance of success. He had originally intended to winter in Britain and renew the war in the following spring. But Labienus had just warned him that the outlook in Gaul was threatening: the season for campaigning was nearly at an end; and he was aware that Cassivellaunus could still maintain a guerrilla 350 warfare. He was obliged therefore to content himself with demanding hostages, fixing a sum which the tribes that had belonged to the league were to pay annually as tribute to Rome, and admonishing Cassivellaunus to leave the Trinovantes and their king unmolested.

Caesar and his army return to Gaul.

The hostages were handed over without delay; and Caesar, with his army and his train of captives, marched back to the coast. He found all the ships which it had been possible to repair ready for sea: but the number of those which had been condemned was not inconsiderable; and, as the prisoners were very numerous, he determined to effect the transport in two successive trips. With the first convoy went one of his couriers, bearing letters from him and Quintus to the elder Cicero. Their purport is preserved in one of Cicero’s letters to Atticus:—‘On the 26th of September I received letters from my brother Quintus and from Caesar, dated from the nearest coasts of Britain on the 29th of August. They had settled affairs in Britain, received hostages, and imposed tribute, though they had got no booty, and were on the point of bringing the army back.’1404 Caesar expected that when the empty transports returned, they would be accompanied by sixty ships, which had just been launched by Labienus; but only a few either of the old or the new vessels arrived, the rest having been driven back by contrary winds. Day after day Caesar waited for them with increasing anxiety; for the equinoctial gales might soon be expected. At length he made up his mind that he could wait no longer. The few available vessels were inconveniently crowded: but the sea was perfectly smooth, and, leaving the Kentish coast between About Sept. 15. nine and ten at night, the fleet rowed into the harbour at break of day. In spite of all the perils to which they had been exposed in their numerous voyages, not a man had been lost at sea, not a ship had foundered in either year.

While Caesar was still in Britain he had begun to collect 351 materials for a description of the island and of the manners Caesar’s description of Britain. and customs of its inhabitants. Partly, indeed, it may have been based upon the account of the Greek historian, Timaeus, who had himself derived material from the journal of Pytheas;1405 but certain sentences embodied the results of his own observation. What specially struck him as he marched through the country was the density of the population and the superiority in material civilization of the people of Kent. ‘The population,’ he wrote, ‘is immense: homesteads, closely resembling those of the Gauls, are met with at every turn; and cattle are very numerous.’1406 His curiosity was excited by the statement, which he had seen in one of his Greek authorities, and the origin of which we have already endeavoured to trace,1407 that in some of the islands off the mainland there was continuous night for a month about the winter solstice. ‘Our inquiries,’ he tells us, ‘could elicit no information on the subject; but by accurate measurements with a water-clock we ascertained that the nights were shorter than on the Continent.’1408 It would be useless to guess from what authority he derived the puzzling statement that groups of ten or twelve men had wives in common, brothers sharing with one another and fathers with their sons;1409 in other words, that one of the British customs was polyandry. Thoughtless commentators have condemned the passage as simply untrue: it has been explained as the outcome of a misunderstanding; and an eminent scholar, with a theory that needed every support, has insisted that it was merely a blundering description of the primitive institution of matriarchy, which he believed to have survived among the Picts of a later time.1410 We can only be sure that neither matriarchy nor polyandry existed among the dominant Celts; but it is permissible to suppose that certain primitive communities in remote districts had some usage which gave 352 colour to Caesar’s statement. But perhaps the most remarkable feature in his description was the approximate accuracy of his estimate of the size of the island. He was told that its circumference was two thousand miles; and this information was certainly not derived either directly or indirectly from Pytheas, whose estimate, if Strabo has reported it correctly, was monstrously exaggerated.1411 On the other hand, Caesar, although, like Pytheas, he placed Ireland in its true position, imagined, in common with other geographers who derided Pytheas’s teaching, that the Gallic coast, from the Rhine to the Pyrenees, was roughly parallel with Southern Britain.1412

Review of Caesar’s invasions of Britain.

The story of these invasions is not without interest for students of military history. In Britain Caesar was confronted by tactical problems of an entirely strange kind; and he did not dissemble the difficulty which he had experienced in attempting to solve them. The Roman soldiers had been trained to encounter an enemy who fought in close order; if ever, in the stress of unforeseen circumstances, such as those which beset the foragers of the 7th legion, they found themselves cut off from the standards which they were accustomed to rally round, they felt that they were but the units of a mob.1413 It was not perhaps that they lacked the intelligence which enabled the German soldier in 1870 to adapt himself to new conditions. The coolness with which, in the fearful combat with the Nervii, each legionary shook off the effects of his surprise, and, disentangling himself from the press, ‘fell in by the standard he first caught sight of,’1414 and fought as steadily as under his own centurion, shows that in Caesar’s soldiers no moral, as no physical, military qualification was wanting. But encompassed by those rushing chariots, assailed by those nimble groups of skirmishers who would not come to sword’s point with them, they found themselves helpless. And when they advanced with ranks closed—for the enemy never 353 succeeded in breaking their formation—the charioteers could easily keep out of the way and concentrate the whole weight of their attack upon the cavalry, which they had lured away from their support. Cassivellaunus handled his levies with commendable skill; and if he did not deserve from Caesar the admiration that makes itself felt in the terse chapters which mirror the tremendous personality of Vercingetorix, he was a leader of no ordinary capacity, raised to his high place by merit alone. For the mistake which gave Trebonius the opportunity of dealing him that staggering blow near the banks of the Stour—the rush of his tribesmen, intoxicated by success, upon the ranks of the legions—not his lack of judgement but their lack of discipline was responsible. And if, instead of disbanding his infantry and following Caesar’s march with his chariots, he had then had the hardihood to let Caesar go his way, and, leaving his cattle, his homesteads, and his granaries to their fate, had hurled his entire force, combined with the levies of the Kentish kings, against the little garrison which held the naval camp, it might have gone hardly with Caesar. For, like the weak cohorts with which Galba strove to hold his camp in the Valais against a host of mountaineers, the garrison would have been compelled to defend themselves without respite against assailants whose numbers enabled them to fight and rest by turns; and if, like Galba’s men, they had attempted to disperse their enemies by a sortie, they would have been attacked in flank and rear by the charioteers and cavalry. Perhaps, indeed, Cassivellaunus saw what to do, but was not sufficiently master of his countrymen to do it. He who can keep in hand an aggregate of levies, shattered by defeat in a regular combat which they should never have fought, must needs be a king of men. Caesar understood the weaknesses of half-civilized tribes, and knew what risks he might fairly run. Just as Vercingetorix was compelled by his tribesmen to let go his hold upon the country of the Bituriges, where he barred Caesar’s advance, and to leave the way open to him by returning to succour their farms, so Cassivellaunus, we may be sure, would not have been able to withstand the clamours that 354 would have bidden him go to the rescue of the threatened dominions of the Catuvellauni and their allies, even if, by sacrificing them, he could have cut the invaders’ communications, and detained him a prisoner in Britain. One may be allowed perhaps to speculate whether Caesar, if he had himself had much experience of British tactics in his first expedition, would have been able, without sacrificing the advantage of discipline, to train his troops in the intervening winter to adapt their formation to the methods of attack which they had to expect; or whether it would have been possible for him then, as it was two years later, to enlist the invaluable aid of German cavalry: but in his second campaign he speedily corrected the mistakes which his sanguine temperament had led him to make; and in his mode of conducting the war he conformed so closely to the maxims which the foremost British soldier of our time, himself an enthusiastic admirer of the Commentaries, has laid down for generals who have to command against uncivilized enemies,1415 that one might almost suppose those maxims to have been derived from a study of the campaign. By marching in the night to seek out his enemy after his disembarkation, he gained the advantage which is the reward of a secretly-planned, sudden, and swift movement against an undisciplined foe. Instantly following up his success, he taught the fugitives that the strongholds which kept their own countrymen at bay were of little avail against Roman soldiers. As soon as he was free to advance into the interior, he demoralized his enemies by rapidity of movement and incessant energy; and by ruthlessly destroying their crops, seizing the stores upon which they depended for subsistence, and driving off the cattle, which were their most valued possession, he succeeded, within a few weeks, in bringing the campaign, which fortune would not permit him to continue, to a successful conclusion. 355



54 B.C.A.D. 43.

Caesar’s contemporaries and the Roman writers of succeeding The importance of Caesar’s British expeditions under estimated by his contemporaries and by historians. generations did not over-estimate the results of his British campaigns. The well-known line of Lucan—

Territa quaesitis ostendit terga Britannis1416

is only worth quoting as an instance of the poet’s animosity; but the impression left by the various passages which refer to Caesar’s expeditions is, that public expectation, having been wrought up to a high pitch, had suffered disappointment.1417 Everybody knew that Caesar had not incurred the vast expense of his second expedition merely for plunder or to deter the Britons from aiding the Gauls: they gathered from his own book that he had aimed at conquest; and they could see no more than that he had failed. Tacitus came nearest to the truth when he said that ‘Julius, though by a successful engagement he struck terror into the inhabitants and gained possession of the coast, must be regarded as having indicated rather than transmitted the acquisition to posterity’.1418 But even this judgement was based upon imperfect knowledge; and the tendency of modern historians, including the greatest scholar of them all, has been to underrate the importance of what Caesar had achieved.

For although Caesar had failed to achieve his aim, he had opened a new world to his countrymen; had proved the facility with which it could be conquered; and had done all 356 that opportunity permitted to pave the way for the conquest. He directed the course of British history into a new channel. He forced the most civilized peoples of the island to acknowledge the supremacy of Rome, and made it clear to those of them who could read the signs of the times that the enforcement of that supremacy would not be long delayed. He impressed upon them such respect for the Roman power that the avowed object with which he had invaded the country was effectually gained:—the Britons ceased to abet the resistance of their kinsmen on the other side of the Channel. He showed that the key to the conquest was to take advantage of the jealousy between the family of Cassivellaunus and their rivals. In the presence of these facts, the question whether the tribute which he imposed was ever actually paid is merely academical; but the great scholar who required us to believe that ‘it is certain that the stipulated tribute was never paid’1419 made an assertion which is not only improbable but is opposed to such evidence as we possess. Mommsen did not fully appreciate the severity of the punishment which had been inflicted upon Cassivellaunus, or the hold over him which Caesar could exert through his hostages. It is probable indeed that Diodorus,1420 when he said that Caesar forced the Britons to pay tribute, was only putting his own construction upon Caesar’s words: but what is certain is that the Britons, although in the reign of Augustus they were not required to pay tribute, were obliged to pay duties at the Gallic harbours upon the goods which they exported to and imported from Gaul; and it is not unreasonable to conjecture that these charges may have been imposed as an equivalent for a tribute which could no longer have been collected except by an irresistible army.1421 But the influence which Caesar exercised upon the destinies of Britain was communicated chiefly through Gaul. In the three years 357 which followed his departure the Britons saw the conquest of Gaul completed: while the civil war ran its course they saw that Gaul made no effort to throw off the Roman yoke; and as time passed and the provinces settled down in the grasp of Augustus, they saw that Gaul was incorporated in the Roman Empire. Meanwhile in Britain the history of Gaul was being enacted over again. In the earlier half of the first century before our era Roman traders, settled in Gallic towns, had prepared the way for the legions of Julius: in the later half Roman or Romanized traders who found it profitable to deal with Britain prepared the way for the legions of Claudius.

Development of British commerce.

In Strabo’s time the Britons still imported ornaments of various kinds from the Continent, vases of amber and glass, gold necklets, and ivory for the decoration of horse trappings. Among their exports were slaves, which shows that intertribal warfare was still rife, and, if Strabo’s statement is to be taken literally, corn, cattle, and iron.1422 Representations of horned cattle, sheep, and pigs are found so often upon British coins1423 that we can easily understand how the graziers should have been able to spare of their abundance; but, although ears of corn are figured on some of Cunobeline’s coins,1424 it requires more faith to believe that the population by whose density Caesar was amazed grew enough corn to satisfy not only their own requirements, but those of their continental neighbours, and that the Gauls, whose resources were sufficient to enable them to feed Caesar’s army, were obliged to import grain. One would have supposed too that the output of the Gallic iron mines, which Caesar mentions, would not have required to be supplemented from Britain; and that the iron-workers of the Weald had enough to do in supplying the wants of their own countrymen. But, though Britain was not as opulent as Gaul, it would seem that some of the chiefs in the southern and eastern districts amassed a considerable amount of wealth. 358 Tacitus1425 tells us that Prasutagus, who was king of the Iceni about 60 A.D., was renowned for his riches; and, like Dumnorix the Aeduan, he may have acquired them in part from tolls. It has been maintained that the tin trade, which had once been so flourishing, and which certainly flourished during the later period of the Roman occupation, ceased about the beginning of the Christian era, and was suspended for the next two hundred years: but the mere absence of ingots of tin bearing the Roman stamp is hardly sufficient to establish a theory which, intrinsically, is so improbable; and it seems more reasonable to conclude that the mines were continuously worked, but not until the third century under Roman control.1426

The British inscribed coinage and its historical value.

But the notices of Britain which appear in the writings of Strabo and Diodorus are the least important sources of our knowledge. More valuable is the systematic classification of British coins which has been accomplished during the last fifty years. They show how thoroughly Roman ideas had permeated British civilization before the legions returned to the island, and enable us to trace in outline the course of British political history during the century that elapsed between the departure of Julius and the invasion of Claudius Caesar. Soon after the former event the numismatic art of Britain entered upon its second period. Coins of silver, copper, bronze, and tin were now coming into use;1427 and the need that was beginning to be felt for small change testifies to an advance in material civilization. On the site of Verulamium have been found gold coins of two values, silver of one, and bronze of three.1428 Perhaps we must also regard as a sign of progress increased ingenuity in fraud: at all events besides the authorized mints there were forgers, who made a living by passing coins of base metal thinly plated with gold.1429 Uninscribed coins were still struck, especially in the 359 remoter districts,1430 and remained in circulation in the time of Claudius;1431 but from about 30 B.C. the greater number of new coins bore the name either of the prince or of the tribe in whose territories they were minted, and in some cases also the name of the town in which the mint was situated. This evidence shows that Verulamium and Camulodunum were the chief political centres of Southern Britain;1432 and it is remarkable that the name of Londinium, although it may even then have been the chief commercial town, as it certainly was from the very beginning of the Roman occupation,1433 does not appear upon any British coin which has yet come to light.1434 The earliest of the inscribed coins naturally belonged to the south-eastern parts of the country:1435 the northern tribe of the Brigantes were the last to adopt them;1436 and not a single specimen has been discovered which can be assigned to the Durotriges.1437 Of the course of events in the northern and western regions history tells us nothing, and coins but little: indeed there is no evidence that the tribes of Scotland, Wales, Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland, Westmorland, Shropshire, Devonshire, and Cornwall even now had coins at all;1438 and it was not until some time after Caesar’s departure that the inhabitants of Gloucestershire, northern Wiltshire, and Somersetshire began to use them.1439 Probably the iron bars which have been already described were still current1440 in the midlands and the west; and Solinus affirmed that in his time the people of the Scilly Islands refused money and traded by barter.1441 Coins bearing the simple inscription, 360 CATTI, which has been assumed to be that of a tribe, have been found in Worcestershire, Monmouthshire, Somersetshire, Devonshire, and Cornwall;1442 and it has been hastily concluded that some of the remoter British tribes, like many of those of Gaul, had expelled their kings.1443 But our most experienced numismatist thinks that the inscription represents the name of the prince by whom the coins were minted;1444 and one would be inclined to believe that the more backward north and west were then, as they were sixteen centuries later, the strongholds of conservatism.1445 The evidence 361 which relates to Southern Britain is less flimsy; and it points to the conclusion that the course of events in that part of the country was leading inevitably to the Roman conquest.

The dynasties of Cassivellaunus and Commius.

The history of Southern Britain in this period, if we disregard Dorsetshire, Devonshire, and Cornwall, is the history of two dynasties,—that of Caesar’s old antagonist, Cassivellaunus, and that of his old ally, Commius. Of the later life of Cassivellaunus nothing is known; but it would seem probable that the recollection of the punishment which the legions had inflicted upon him and the knowledge that his hostages were in Caesar’s power were sufficient to induce him to obey Caesar’s last injunction and to leave the Trinovantes Tasciovanus. and their king, Mandubracius, unmolested. About 30 B.C., or perhaps a few years earlier, he was succeeded by his son, Tasciovanus.1446 The earlier coins of this prince were purely British in character; but those of later date are adorned with the figures of Pegasus and centaurs, while one of them is imitated from a coin of Augustus, which was first struck in 13 B.C.;1447 and their number and variety are so great that the reign of Tasciovanus must have extended over a long period,—not improbably until about A.D. 5.1448 His dominions, which were perhaps originally confined to the country of the Catuvellauni, in whose capital, Verulamium, most of his coins were struck, ultimately included, it should seem, not only those of the Trinovantes, but also of the Epaticcus and Cunobeline. Segontiaci and parts of Northamptonshire.1449 He left several sons, among whom were Epaticcus and Cunobeline. The coins of the former, which bear the abbreviated Latin inscription TASC. FIL.—‘son of Tasciovanus’—have all been found 362 either in the western part of Surrey or the east of Wiltshire; and it has been inferred that he either succeeded to the western portion of his father’s dominions or conquered territory which had never been subject to him.1450 Epaticcus was, however, completely overshadowed by his brother, who, under the name of Cymbeline, has been immortalized by Shakespeare. There may perhaps be a kernel of truth in the statement of Geoffrey of Monmouth, that he was Cunobeline’s coins prove growth of Roman influence in Britain. educated by Augustus:1451 at all events his silver and copper coins bear witness to the growing influence of Roman culture; and many of them must have been designed either by Romans or by artists who had received Roman training. One of his silver coins, in the opinion of the highest authority, is characterized by exquisite workmanship, ‘worthy of a Greek artist;’1452 and some of them suggest that not long after the commencement of the Christian era the worship of Hercules had been introduced into Britain.1453 Not one of the coins bearing his name which have so far been discovered was struck at the mint of Verulamium, from which, as we have seen, those of his father had mainly issued: the name of Camulodunum appears upon them all; and the conclusion seems warranted that he inherited the eastern part of his His conquests. father’s dominions, and extended them by subduing the Trinovantes,—the hereditary enemies of his family.1454 It is not improbable that he had begun to reign about 5 B.C., while his father was still alive; and that he conquered the Trinovantes before his father died.1455 The area which was under his immediate rule when he was at the height of his power included perhaps, besides their country and that of the Catuvellauni, a part of that of the Dobuni, who inhabited what is now Gloucestershire;1456 but it would seem 363 that he also exercised a general supremacy over the whole of the south-eastern part of the island.1457 Suetonius was so impressed by the fame of his power that he described him as Britannorum rex,—‘King of the Britons.’1458

Flight of Dubnovellaunus and Tincommius(?), the son of Commius, to Rome.

Cunobeline’s conquest of the Trinovantes appears to have been one of the causes which led to the flight, briefly chronicled by Augustus on the monument of Ancyra,1459 of two British princes who sought for Roman aid. Their names, as recorded on the stone, were DVMNOBELLAV[nus], and, if we are to accept the testimony of Chishull,1460 an antiquary of a past generation, TIM.... The name of the former, as it is spelled on British coins, was Dubnovellaunos. Those of his coins which appear to have been circulated earliest have been found only in Kent, which he probably at one time ruled.1461 His later coins tend to show that he afterwards annexed the territory of the Trinovantes, from which he was in his turn expelled by Cunobeline.1462 But who was the prince who with him undertook the long journey to Rome? The letters TIM, if indeed M was really graven upon the monument, were of course only the first three of another name; and it is possible that Chishull may have mistaken one or perhaps two broken letters for M, or, since M and N were often confused, that the engraver may have been misled by his copy.1463 Be this as it may, there is only one known 364 name with which TIM ... can be identified,—that of Tincommius, who called himself on some of his coins TINCOM[mios] COMMI FILI[us] REX1464—‘King Tincommius, son of Commius.’ In order to understand the history of Tincommius, we must trace the later career of the Commius who was, beyond all reasonable doubt, his father,1465—the king of the Atrebates who had accompanied Caesar to Britain.

The later adventures of Commius.

Commius had of course been liberally rewarded for his services: but in the great Gallic insurrection of 52 B.C. he had thrown in his lot with Vercingetorix; and he was one of the four generals to whose joint direction was entrusted the command of the Pan-Gallic host which marched to relieve the latter when he was beleaguered in Alesia. ‘Caesar,’ we read in the seventh Commentary, ‘had found Commius a loyal and serviceable agent in former years in Britain; and, in acknowledgement of these services, he had granted his tribe immunity from forced contributions, restored to it its rights and laws, and placed the Morini under his authority. Yet so intense was the unanimous determination of the entire Gallic people to vindicate their liberty and recover their ancient military renown, that no favours, no recollection of former friendship, had any influence with them, but all devoted their energies and resources to the prosecution of the war.’1466 Patriotism, however, was not the only motive 365 of Commius: he had a reason for the bitterness of his hostility, which Caesar does not mention, but which we learn from Caesar’s friend, Aulus Hirtius, who wrote the last of the Commentaries on the Gallic War. In the winter of 53-52 B.C., while Caesar was absent in Cisalpine Gaul, Commius took an active part in forming the nucleus of the coalition of which Vercingetorix was destined to be the leader; and Labienus, who found out his designs, commissioned the tribune Volusenus to assassinate him. Commius escaped with a severe wound; and in the year which followed the overthrow of Vercingetorix he formed, in conjunction with a chief of the Bellovaci, a fresh coalition against Caesar, who was obliged to exert all his strength in order to subdue it. For some time Commius led the life of a brigand chief, and succeeded in capturing several convoys which were on their way to Caesar’s winter camp in the country of the Atrebates. He made himself so formidable that Mark Antony sent Volusenus to make a second attempt to kill him; and although he again escaped, he ultimately surrendered on the express condition that he should never again be brought face to face with any Roman.

His conquests in Britain.

When and why Commius took up his abode in Britain is not known; but some probability may be claimed for the conjecture that his motive was to check the encroachments of the Catuvellauni.1467 No coins have been found which can with absolute certainty be ascribed to him:1468 but it is admitted that he issued coins before Tasciovanus, who, as we have seen, began to reign at least as early as 30 B.C.;1469 and before his death he became overlord of the maritime tribes of South-Eastern Britain on the right bank of the Thames.1470 He Tincommius, Verica, and Eppillus. left three sons, Tincommius, Verica, and Eppillus; and almost all their coins have been found in Kent, Sussex, Surrey, and Hampshire.1471 Each of these sons described himself on his coins as REX, and each of them appears to have had a kingdom of 366 his own, Tincommius ruling the Regni, who inhabited Sussex, Eppillus the Cantii, and Verica the Atrebates.1472 The dominions of Verica cannot, however, be certainly defined. There is some reason to suppose that he held sway over the Atrebates of Belgium as well as over those of Britain; for certain coins found in the north of France, and closely resembling others that are common in the south-eastern counties of England, are inscribed with a monogram which appears to denote the abbreviation VE.1473 It should seem that Eppillus, at some time, was king of the Atrebates, for some of his coins have the legend CALLEV,—an abbreviated form of Calleva, the chief town of that tribe.1474 Certain coins, however, exist which apparently bear the names of all the three brothers, a fact which can only be explained on the theory that at one time they exercised a joint sovereignty over the dominions which had belonged to their father;1475 while others are inscribed with the names of Verica and Eppillus only.1476 It has been assumed that these coins were not struck until after the death of Tincommius;1477 but another explanation seems possible. Why did Tincommius, alone of the three brothers, solicit the protection of Augustus, and why did he undertake the journey to Rome in conjunction with Dubnovellaunus? Numismatic evidence has led to the belief that Dubnovellaunus had once ruled over the Cantii;1478 and if so, Eppillus, who afterwards acquired dominion over the same tribe, probably dispossessed him. Dubnovellaunus, as we have already seen, appears to have once ruled over the Trinovantes as well, and to have been expelled from their country by Cunobeline. These successive reverses may have been the motive for the journey which he undertook to Rome; and when we consider that certain coins bear the names of Eppillus and Verica, without that of Tincommius, which on others appears side by side with theirs, it seems possible 367 that Tincommius, finding that his brothers were leagued together against him, threw in his lot with another prince who had been as unfortunate as himself. This conjecture is perhaps somewhat strengthened by the fact that one of the coins of Tincommius bears, along with TIN—the abbreviated form of his name—the inscription DV,1479 which has baffled the acumen of numismatists, but which, on the analogy of TC—one of the abbreviations of TINCOMMIOS1480—may possibly stand for DUBNOVELLAUNOS.1481

How the fugitives were received we are not told; but it is certain that Augustus did not grant them armed assistance; nor is there any evidence that they ever recovered power. Augustus contemplates an invasion of Britain. As early as 34 B.C. Augustus had marched into Gaul with the intention, as was generally believed, of invading Britain; but, owing to an insurrection in Dalmatia, he was compelled to abandon his resolve.1482 For several years, however, it was expected that he would sooner or later complete the work which his adoptive father had begun; and this expectation was voiced in the poetry of the time. About the year 30 B.C. Vergil1483 prayed that ‘far off Thule’ might obey Augustus; and Horace, in odes which seem to have been officially inspired, called upon Fortune to preserve him in his expedition against the Britons, ‘remotest inhabitants of the world,’1484 and foretold that when they and the Parthians were brought under the imperial sway he would be hailed a god upon earth.1485 In 27 and again in 26 B.C. Augustus marched into Gaul with the ostensible purpose of invading Britain, but again without result.1486 But the latest of these dates was earlier than the flight of Tincommius and Dubnovellaunus; and thenceforward Augustus abandoned all thought of Why he abandoned his intention. invading Britain.1487 The cause of his inaction is discernible 368 in two passages of Strabo’s Geography,1488 which give the official explanation of the imperial policy. The conquest of Britain would be very costly; and it was unlikely that the revenue would be more than sufficient to defray the expense of the garrison and the administration: the duties levied at the Gallic harbours on goods imported from and exported to Britain were more productive than any tribute; besides, Britain was too weak to be dangerous, and its conquest was therefore unnecessary. Possibly we may gather from the prominence which is given in the monument of Ancyra to the petition of Tincommius and Dubnovellaunus that it was officially interpreted as a sign of the virtual submission of the Britons.

Continued growth of Roman influence in Britain.

This confidence indeed is not difficult to understand. The conjecture that at the courts of Commius, of Tasciovanus, and of Cunobeline Latin was the official speech1489 may perhaps be somewhat rash: but at all events Latin was the language of the mint; and perhaps it is not unreasonable to suppose that, as some Pannonian Celts were versed in Latin literature,1490 a Briton here and there was equally accomplished. Roman silver coins were already eagerly accepted, on account of their purity, in Southern Britain.1491 And if Rufina, the young British wife of a Roman, whose praises Martial sang,1492 could hold her own in Italian society, we may realize that before the Roman conquest Britain had begun to be Romanized.

Cessation of British coinage in certain districts which had belonged to the sons of Commius.

With the sons of Commius the British coinage in the districts which they had ruled, with the sole exception of Kent, came to an end.1493 It may be that the inhabitants had begun, like the Gauls with whom they traded, to use only Roman money; but, as the coinage of Kent continued, the more probable explanation would seem to be that they were 369 no longer able to make head against the King of the Catuvellauni.1494

Tincommius and Dubnovellaunus were not the only British Relations of Cunobeline with Rome. princes who paid their respects to the emperor. ‘In our time,’ says Strabo, ‘various British chieftains gained the friendship of Augustus Caesar by sending embassies and performing services; placed votive offerings in the Capitol; and made almost the whole island familiar to the Romans.’1495 Among them, we can hardly doubt, was Cunobeline, whose coins, like those of his father, testify that Roman mythology had already taken root on British soil,1496 and who, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth,1497 voluntarily paid tribute to Rome. If there is any truth in Geoffrey’s statement, the tribute must have been the price paid for moral support. During the reign of Tiberius, who adhered to the conservative and moderate policy of his stepfather, the relations of Cunobeline and of Britain with Rome apparently remained unchanged: history only relates that some soldiers of Germanicus, who had been shipwrecked on the British coast, were sent back by British princes.1498 It can hardly be doubted, however, that the conquest of Britain was contemplated by Roman statesmen as inevitable: to leave independent the Celtic island which was so near the conquered Celtic mainland His exiled son, Adminius, takes refuge with Caligula. was unnatural, and could not be permanently safe.1499 The latter part of Cunobeline’s reign was clouded by domestic quarrels; and in A.D. 40, when he was an old man, his son Adminius,1500 whom he had driven into exile, threw himself on 370 the mercy of Caligula, who was at the time in Gaul, and offered to surrender his father’s kingdom. The feather-pated emperor sent messengers to Rome, who were charged to announce to the Senate in the temple of Mars the submission of the whole island;1501 but the magniloquent and mendacious message testifies not only to his vanity but to the fame of Cunobeline.

Death of Cunobeline.

Within the next three years the great king died, leaving, besides Adminius, three other sons who still remained in Britain,—Caratacus, Togodumnus, and, as we may conjecture, one Bericus, who fled over sea. Caratacus, whose name is more familiar under the erroneous form Caractacus, was the prince who in later years opposed a desperate resistance to the Roman conquest of Western Britain. After Cunobeline’s death he and Togodumnus assumed royal power, and perhaps combined to exclude Bericus from any share in the Unpopularity of his dynasty intensified on the accession of his sons, Caratacus and Togodumnus. inheritance of their father’s dominions.1502 It is possible that Bericus had some influence with the Iceni, who were bitterly hostile to the dynasty of Cassivellaunus and his successors, and were prepared to join the Romans if they should invade the island. But another explanation has been proposed. There are late coins of the Iceni which bear the name of a prince named Antedrigus, who later still issued coins which have been found in the territory of the Dobuni. It has been suggested that, like the Treveran Indutiomarus and his enemy Cingetorix,1503 Antedrigus and Bericus were the leaders of rival factions of the Iceni; that Antedrigus prevailed; that Bericus thereupon determined to seek Roman aid; and that Antedrigus, when the Iceni joined the Romans, sought an asylum among the Dobuni.1504 Anyhow Bericus 371d to Rome.1505 It would seem that Caratacus and Togodumnus took offence when he and Adminius were not sent back, and even committed, or threatened to commit, some act of violence against the Roman power;1506 and it may be that their attitude, combined with the information which Bericus gave about the internal politics of his country, was Invasion of Britain by Aulus Plautius. among the motives that induced Claudius to dispatch the force which, under Aulus Plautius, was to begin the Roman conquest of Britain.1507

Review of British history from 54 B.C. to A.D. 43.

Amid many uncertainties the facts of British history which stand out prominently are these. The invasions of Caesar, supported by his conquest of Gaul, stimulated trade between the Britons and the Romanized Gauls, and thereby brought Britain within the sphere of Roman influence; encouraged those British princes who needed protection or support to turn to Rome, and made them all look up to the Emperor as a patron, who might eventually be their sovereign lord. In the island itself Commius and his sons made themselves supreme in the eastern districts south of the Thames; 372 54 B.C.A.D. 43. their power was overmatched and perhaps finally absorbed by that of the family of Cassivellaunus, who steadily augmented their dominion by conquest until under Cunobeline it extended from the coast of Essex to the estuary of the Severn, and from the Midlands to the English Channel. The Roman conquest and its results. the jealousy and the fear which this ambitious dynasty aroused led directly to the Roman invasion, by which the influences that had already begun were so developed that the upper classes and the townspeople of Britain learned to speak Latin1508 and to adopt Roman customs, and in the end came, like their Gallic neighbours, to regard themselves as Romans; that the Late Celtic art which had flourished for centuries gave way to that of Rome, and even in cottages and remote hamlets Samian pottery and rude hypocausts were to be found;1509 that by the fourth century a British church had been fully developed, which continued to flourish after the Roman administration had ceased, while even in the sixth century the forsaken Britons gloried in the name of Romani;1510 and that, in a word, Britain, becoming completely Romanized, received an impress which has not yet wholly faded away.1511

Permanence in English history of prehistoric and Celtic elements.

But when the Roman had gone, when the Saxon, the Dane, and the Norman had come, the descendants of neolithic aboriginals, of bronze-using immigrants, and of Celts still lived on; and their composite influence has ever since been helping to form the British character and to determine the course of British history. The roads on which we travel, the flocks and herds that feed us, the corn that grows in our fields, the implements which we use,—all our industrial arts are inseparably connected with theirs. Not only do their beliefs still survive, tinging the faith which their successors have been taught, but their spirit has lived again in the men who have done the deeds of which our nation may be proud.

And perhaps the story which this book has told may 373 54 B.C.A.D. 43.d a few to become less self-complacent and to think more of those primitive ancestors. In some things we have sunk below their level: in what have we risen? Riches, luxury, the security that tends to make self-reliance weak, the softening of manners, rapidity of communication, the development of engines of destruction, medicine, and surgery—all that appertains to material civilization—herein we have made giant strides. But such improvements hardly enable men to bear up under burdens which are ever increasing. The tourist in a Pulman car is not happier than those who travelled in stage-coach or wagon, and speed deprives him of as much as it bestows; machinery has but substituted fresh evils for those which it destroyed. New superstitions, less gross but not less false, have been engrafted upon the old; but ‘pure religion and undefiled,’—how far has it strengthened its hold upon the hearts of men? We have professed indeed to teach inferior races the gospel of love; but in Australasia our mission has been not so much to evangelize as to exterminate. Apart from the extirpation of the coarser forms of inhumanity and from those other civilizing influences which may operate even in a decadent society, the progress of which we may not unreasonably boast has been in knowledge, which to the vast majority is unattainable, and, in this island, unheeded or contemptuously rejected by most of the few who have it within reach. 374 375



The ethnology of ancient Britain has been studied from many points of view. Writers of a past generation relied simply upon the notices which are to be found in the works of Caesar, Strabo, Tacitus, and other ancient writers. In the last century the science, if it may now be so called, of physical anthropology came into being. The barrows in which our prehistoric ancestors had buried their dead were opened; and the skeletons which had been left in them by earlier explorers were systematically measured. The physical characters of the living population were noted as far as possible in the hope that they might help to solve the problems of the past. Archaeologists collected the pottery, the tools, the weapons, and the ornaments which were found beneath the soil, in the beds of rivers, in barrows, cairns, caves, earthworks, and elsewhere, described them, classified them, and compared them with those of other countries. Philologists studied the forms of the Celtic dialects, and endeavoured to discover in them traces of dialects older still. Finally, folk-lorists formed an association, and joined the army of inquirers. The united efforts of all these seekers after truth have stored up a huge mass of information; and those who may read this article will, I believe, agree with me that there is no reason to expect that any additional facts which may be ascertained will throw much new light upon the questions which we are about to consider:1512 but no serious attempt has yet been made to co-ordinate 376 the materials which exist. To do this is the aim of the present article. If the problems of British ethnology can be solved, history, physical anthropology, archaeology, and philology must combine.


A lay reader who takes up a treatise on ethnology ought to understand the methods by which anthropologists differentiate the various human types. I may be allowed to reproduce a paragraph which I wrote a few years ago in another volume, and to which I shall have something to add.

‘Anthropologists are obliged to make use of technical terms, more or less uncouth; and they are guided in their observations by very precise and minute rules, framed with the object of eliminating, as far as possible, the chance of error. But it is unnecessary for my purpose to trouble the reader with more than a few of these things. What I shall have to say about stature, complexion, hair and eyes, will need no explanation; and in regard to the skull I shall, as a rule, only have to deal with that measurement which fixes the proportion between its length and its breadth. In this measurement the length is represented by 100; and the proportion which the breadth bears to the length is called the cephalic index. Thus, if the breadth is four-fifths of the length, the index is 80. According to the system formulated by the great French anthropologist, Paul Broca,1513 skulls are grouped, according to the cephalic index, in five classes. Skulls whose index exceeds 83·33 are brachycephalic; those whose index falls between 83·33 and 80 are sub-brachycephalic; those between 80 and 77·77 mesaticephalic; those between 77·77 and 75 sub-dolichocephalic; and those below 75 dolichocephalic ... it is necessary to bear in mind that measurements of living heads invariably yield a higher cephalic index—the average difference being as much as 2—than those of skulls1514 [of the same form]. Another important character of the skull or head is gnathism, that is to say, the degree of projection of the upper jaw. The word orthognathous denotes that this projection is comparatively slight; for absolute orthognathism does not exist. The remaining technical terms which it is necessary for general readers 377 to understand are those which describe the structure of the nasal skeleton. Platyrrhinian means that it is wide, mesorrhinian intermediate, and leptorrhinian narrow.’1515 I should have added that the orbital index, which is important, denotes the relation of the breadth of the orbit to its length; and, since we are dealing with the ethnology of Britain, it will be convenient to adopt for cephalic indices the notation which is prevalent in this country, and according to which skulls whose indices exceed 80 are called brachycephalic, those between 80 and 75 mesaticephalic, and those under 75 dolichocephalic.

The value of the cephalic index was for many years taken for granted in all ethnological treatises; and many anthropologists still lay great stress upon it.1516 But there has lately been a reaction.1517 Professor Sergi1518 scoffs at ‘the old and discredited method of the cephalic index, which only indicates artificial and conventional distinctions’, and tells us that ‘it is the forms alone that we have to take into consideration’,1519 and that ‘indices may serve to approximate the most diverse forms and to separate the most homogeneous’.1520 This last remark is unquestionably true; as Huxley said, ‘in nine cases out of ten you may diagnose an Australian skull [among other dolichocephalic skulls] with certainty.’1521 Nevertheless the cephalic index, used with discrimination, retains the value which Broca, Beddoe, Collignon, Turner, and other anthropologists ascribe to it; and those who are familiar with Sergi’s writings will not be surprised to learn that, when it suits his purpose, he lays great stress upon the distinction between dolichocephalic and brachycephalic skulls.1522 He considerably modifies his view when he affirms the truism that ‘we cannot accept the evidence of the cephalic index when that evidence is contradicted by other important facts’;1523 but if any one who has a taste for ethnology will spend a few days in 378 walking through the department of Jura or the mountainous parts of Auvergne, the contrast between the round heads which he will see everywhere and the totally different type which he has been accustomed to in his own country will convince him that the cephalic index has been ‘discredited’ in vain.1524 Anthropologists are, however, becoming convinced that the labour which has been spent upon calculating the averages of tables of widely different indices has borne little fruit.1525

When we consider the cranial forms, apart from measurements, we find the same lack of unanimity. According to Sergi,1526 ‘the norma verticalis, or view from above,’ is ‘the most important of all’. According to Rolleston,1527 ‘the norma lateralis, or profile view of a skull is the most important.’ The present tendency, however, of British anthropologists is to follow the Italian professor.

The evidence of skulls will often mislead unless it is used with caution and discernment, reinforced by collateral knowledge. Certain British brachycephalic skulls of the Bronze Age closely resemble in many respects those of the Maoris.1528 Rolleston, remarking on the likeness between a dolichocephalic skull of the Bronze Age from Weaverthorpe and the famous Engis skull, observes that ‘resemblances so strong ... should, as they are also so widely scattered over the globe, make us careful not to speak as to the ethnological affinities of any skulls, until we have a very considerable number of representatives of both objects of comparison to place alongside of each other; and it may be added until we have also succeeded in bringing other lines of evidence to bear upon the question’.1529

Besides the various characters of the skull and face, and, when they can be ascertained, the complexion, and the colour of the hair and eyes, ethnologists have to take account of stature, because, although it partly depends upon food and social environment,1530 it unquestionably varies in different races. Now the stature of prehistoric men, when their skeletons are found, can only be estimated 379 by calculating the relations between the lengths of certain bones and the actual height of the individual; and since these relations are obviously variable, the calculation can only lead to approximately true results. The error would no doubt be insignificant if the average relations were certain; but various anthropologists have adopted various methods of calculation, which have led to widely different results.1531 The most satisfactory, for our purpose,1532 appears to be that of Dr. Beddoe,—‘I take away from the length of the femur [or thigh-bone] one-quarter of the excess over 13 inches up to 19, and thereafter only one-eighth, and then multiply by four’.1533


Much controversy was excited in the last decade of the nineteenth century by the announcement that stone implements, ruder than the rudest of the Palaeolithic Age, had been discovered on the plateau between the Medway and Caterham valleys: but even if it were possible to convince sceptics that some of these flints were wrought by men’s hands, the proof would not affect the present inquiry; for we should have no means of ascertaining to what race 380 (supposing that it differed from that of the earlier palaeolithic hunters) those men belonged.1534


1. The people who inhabited this island in the Old Stone Age appear to have been confined to the south; for no palaeolithic implement has yet been found further north than Lincoln, or, as some maintain, the East Riding of Yorkshire.1535 An attempt has indeed been made to prove that such tools were used in Scotland;1536 but the best judges are unanimously of opinion that the contention has not been established.1537

Little direct evidence exists as to the physical type of the palaeolithic inhabitants of Britain. Only four human skulls have been found in England which can be referred to that period,—one at Galley Hill, near Swanscombe,1538 one at Westley, near Bury St. Edmunds,1539 and two in the Cattedown cave near Plymouth:1540 but it is not certain that the first was contemporaneous with the beds which contained it:1541 of the second only fragments remained from which it was impossible to determine the contour;1542 and the others could not be removed entire. Almost all the older palaeolithic skulls, however, which have been discovered in Western Europe belong apparently to the same race,1543 which may have been represented among the hunters who entered Britain when it still formed part of the Continent. Indeed the Galley Hill skull, whether it belonged to a palaeolithic man or not, has certain characteristics of the most famous representative of the race,—the Neanderthal skull, which was discovered about the middle of the last century in the valley of the Neander in Rhenish Prussia.1544 The skulls of this type are extraordinarily dolichocephalic; and the people to whom they belonged had extremely low and retreating foreheads, heavy and projecting lower jaws, and amazingly prominent brow ridges, and were short, big-boned, and muscular.1545 381

But what if the Neanderthal skull was not human? If that poor creature had but known how famous he, or it, was to become! His broken cranium has a bibliography of its own. Virchow, who, however, late in life changed his mind, at one time regarded it as abnormal,—pathological. Huxley and Broca vigorously defended its respectability; and at the end of the nineteenth century the most eminent anthropologists of Europe and America accepted it as the type of the most ancient of the known races of men. But in 1901 a German anthropologist, Dr. G. Schwalbe, wrote an article of appalling length,1546 which disturbed settled convictions. Huxley had pronounced the Neanderthal to be the most ape-like of all known human skulls: Schwalbe refused to regard it as human, in the accepted sense, at all. For him it represents a distinct species, intermediate between the Pithecanthropus of Java—the famous ‘missing link’, whose remains were discovered a few years ago by Dr. Dubois—and man himself. In the same class Schwalbe places the skulls of Spy, which have always been grouped along with that of Neanderthal; and he insists that all the human palaeolithic skulls of Europe, however closely they may appear to resemble these, are in reality different.1547 ‘In the Neanderthal skull,’ says Dr. Laloy, in a lucid summary of Schwalbe’s article, which will satisfy all who are not specialists, ‘the greatest length coincides with the “inio-glabellar” diameter,’ that is to say, the diameter measured from the space between the supraciliary, or brow, ridges and the sinus at the back of the neck: this, he adds, is never the case in man. No, not in man as we know him. But what sense are we to attach to the word ‘human’? Was there ever a creature of whom it could be affirmed that he was the first man?1548

Ten or twelve skulls, which, in dolichocephaly and prominence of the supraciliary ridges, resemble those of the Neanderthal type, but, unlike them, have high foreheads, and are said to have belonged to tall men, have lately been found associated with tools of Mousterian form,1549 at Krapina in Northern Croatia.1550 Fourteen skeletons, which may evidently be assigned to the same group, have been found at Předmost in Moravia,1551 and another at its capital, Bruenn.1552

But the Palaeolithic Age, in Britain as in other parts of Europe, 382 was of such immense duration that it would be absurd to assume that it had no other representatives than men of the Neanderthal type; and the ‘artists’ of the latest period, whose creations have been discovered in the caves of La Madelaine and Les Eyzies,1553 belonged to a different race, represented by skulls discovered at Laugerie-Basse and Chancelade in the valley of the Lozère. While these skulls are hardly less dolichocephalic than those of the Neanderthal type, they are in other respects strikingly different, being much more capacious, and having high and broad foreheads, and brow ridges which are hardly perceptible.1554 Although no skulls of this kind have been found in our own country, it is not improbable that men of the stock to which they belonged penetrated into Britain; for in one of the caves of Creswell Crags in Derbyshire there has been found a bone engraved with the figure of a horse’s head,1555 which reminds one of the spirited designs of the artists of the Dordogne, and was associated with implements of the kind which have been found in the caves of La Madelaine and Les Eyzies and others of the Dordogne basin.1556

The recent systematic exploration of the Baoussé-Roussé caves near Mentone is of the highest importance because it has demonstrated an intimate connexion between palaeolithic and neolithic races in Southern France. All the interments have been proved to be palaeolithic.1557 The newest skeleton in the Grotte des Enfants approximates to the dolichocephalic type of the Neolithic Age.1558 Beneath it, 5 metres 15 millimetres lower down, lay a gigantic skeleton, closely resembling but far older than that of the famous ‘old man’ of Cro-Magnon, which is commonly assigned to the earliest neolithic times, but may possibly be as old as the period that in France is recognized as transitional.1559 This skeleton has certain negroid characteristics,1560 which, however, are more pronounced in the two most ancient skeletons of the Grotte des Enfants, 383 discovered 70 millimetres lower still and associated with the bones of a rhinoceros.1561 M. Verneau argues that the prognathism which appears in certain skeletons of Western Europe of the early Bronze Age was connected by atavism with these primitive denizens of the Riviera.1562

2. Professor Boyd Dawkins draws a sharp distinction between ‘the River-drift men’ and ‘the Cave-men’. I must remark that the term ‘Cave-men’ is not happily chosen; for the professor himself assures us that ‘the Cave-men did not always use caves’, and that ‘the habit of camping in the open air must have been the rule ... because caverns and rock-shelters are only met with in very limited areas’;1563 while on the other hand he points out that ‘River-drift men’ often lived in caves.1564 By ‘the Cave-men’ he means those who made implements of what he terms ‘the higher types’, that is, the types which are called after the caves of Le Moustier, Solutré, and La Madelaine. Observing that there were ‘Cave-men’ not only in our own country and in France, but also in Belgium, Switzerland, and Germany, he argues that ‘from this distribution of the implements it is evident that the Cave-man belongs neither to the southern group of the Pleistocene animals nor to the temperate which found its way over the mountain barriers into Spain, Italy, and Greece. On the other hand,’ he continues, ‘the River-drift man must be considered as a member either of the temperate or southern fauna of Europe, because his remains are met with in the regions of the Mediterranean, north [and also south] of those mountain barriers.’1565

Granting that no implements of the higher types have been discovered in caves south of the ‘mountain barriers’, it is hardly safe to conclude that the ‘Cave-men’ did not belong either to the southern or the temperate group of mammals.1566 The question is 384 whether the implements to which the professor refers were characteristic of one palaeolithic race to the exclusion of others. Assuming that such implements do not exist outside the area in which they have been found—a very rash assumption—it does not follow that the men who made them belonged to a race different from their contemporaries whose tools have been discovered in the drift. Only one interment of the Late Celtic Period has been found in Scotland, and that quite recently;1567 yet there were numerous Celts then in North as well as in South Britain.

The professor also insists1568 that ‘the absence of the higher types of implement in the camping-places of the River-drift men cannot be accounted for on the ground that they are smaller or ... more perishable’; for, he says, ‘camping-places of the Cave-men have been met with in France [for instance at Solutré] ... in which the implements are associated in the same manner as in the caves’.

I reply, first, that it is begging the question to say that the men who encamped at Solutré were ‘Cave-men’ as distinct from ‘River-drift men’; secondly, that implements of Le Moustier type, which were characteristic of the earliest French ‘Cave-men’,1569 are common both in France and Britain in the river-drift;1570 and thirdly, with due deference to the professor, that the absence ‘of the higher types of implement’ from the river-drift is as easily explicable as the absence of implements of bone or wood:—partly they were more perishable and would be more difficult to find, and partly they were less likely to be used in the field.1571 Besides, is it not possible that none of the very few palaeolithic ‘camping-places’ that have been found in this country belonged to the Solutrean period? As we have seen, the professor himself affirms that ‘the Cave-men’ encamped as a rule not in caves but in the open air: they, like ‘the River-drift men’ were, as he himself assures us, hunters: why then have hardly any of their ‘higher types of implement’ been found in this country in the field? Simply for the reasons which I have given. And since ‘the Cave-men’, like ‘the River-drift men’, lived commonly in the open air, how could the latter, even if they belonged to a different race, have escaped the influence of the former or have failed to acquire their culture? And how could the two races have escaped amalgamating?

The ‘Cave-men’, as Professor Boyd Dawkins himself admits,1572 undoubtedly used certain implements of river-drift type as well as ‘the higher types’; nor is there any reason to suppose that the ‘River-drift men’ did not use implements of ‘the higher types’ as well as implements of river-drift type, except the fact, easily accounted for, that the former are not found in the drift. Professor Boyd Dawkins himself strenuously maintains that ‘River-drift men’ as well as ‘Cave-men’ lived in caves.1573 How then can he 385 prove that the two sets of occupants were ethnologically different? He insists that ‘the river-drift implements in the Caves of Creswell Crags, of Kent’s Hole, and of the Grotte de l’Église, are found in the strata below those with the implements of the Cave-men, and consequently that the River-drift men lived in Britain and France before the Cave-men.’1574 But on his own showing the owners of both sets of implements did live in caves; and so far nothing is proved except that those who used one set were more ancient than those who used the other. ‘Some caves also,’ he adds, ‘were inhabited by River-drift men, who have left behind their implements without any trace of the higher types of the Cave-men.’1575 But here again nothing is proved save that these particular ‘River-drift men’ had not yet learned to make ‘the higher types’. The professor might have a good case if he could say, River-drift implements have been found in the lower strata of caves: in the upper strata none have been found, but only ‘the higher types’; consequently the men who used the higher types were quite different from those of the later Palaeolithic Age whose implements have been recovered from river-drift. But this he could not truly say; for implements of river-drift type have been found, although rarely, in the highest strata of caves.1576 Lastly, I would ask the professor, who insists that ‘the Cave-men’ were ‘northern mammals’, and that they did not enter Europe until long after the appearance of ‘the River-drift men’, to tell us whence they came.

3. Are we to count the palaeolithic inhabitants of Britain among our ancestors? ‘I do not consider,’ says Dr. Garson, ‘that there is any evidence of the existence of the direct descendants of Palaeolithic man among the osteological remains of Neolithic or subsequent date in Britain.’1577 On the other hand, Dr. Beddoe1578 thinks that the oldest inhabitants of this country may have left descendants, whom he is inclined to identify with ‘some Mongoloid race’, traces of which, he believes, are discernible in the population of the west of England; while two distinguished French anthropologists, MM. de Quatrefages and Hamy, affirm that the Neanderthal race ‘has left a permanent imprint on the population of the three kingdoms’,1579 and refer to various skulls of the Neolithic and later periods which resemble more or less closely that of Neanderthal.1580 Moreover, 386 it is generally admitted that even at the present day a few individuals here and there belong to the same type.1581 But it does not follow that these persons or those to whom Dr. Beddoe and M. Hamy refer were descended from men who lived in Britain in the Palaeolithic Age. That palaeolithic man left no descendants in any part of the world is of course not maintained even by the most ardent supporters of the theory of the ‘Hiatus’: somewhere or other there must have been a link; but Sir John Evans, as I have observed in the first part of this book,1582 argues from the supposed absence of intermediate forms of implements that it did not exist in this country; and Dr. Keane1583 thinks that ‘the few scattered palaeolithic hunters could scarcely have lived through the last ice-age in a contracted region at one time reduced by subsidence to a mere cluster of islets’, &c. The answer is, first that there is no reason to believe that in ‘the last ice-age’ or at any time between the dawn of the latest palaeolithic period and the arrival of neolithic man Britain was ‘a mere cluster of islets’;1584 and secondly that, as Professor Boyd Dawkins assures us, out of forty-eight species of mammalian fauna living in Britain in the Palaeolithic, thirty-one survived in the Neolithic Age.1585 Professor Boyd Dawkins, however, insists that ‘the mere contrast between the Palaeolithic and wild Neolithic faunas implies a zoological break of the first magnitude’.1586 I take leave to say that it implies no break at all, seeing that thirty-one of the older species confessedly lived on: it implies no more than is implied by the disappearance of the urus, the wolf, the wild boar, and many other animals which were living in this island at a time since which it has been continuously inhabited by man. The professor triumphantly points out that in those caves which were successively used as dwellings by palaeolithic and neolithic people ‘the remains of the domestic animals are found alone in the upper Prehistoric [or neolithic] strata.’1587 Undoubtedly. But what then? The fact does not prove that palaeolithic man had become extinct when neolithic man arrived: it merely proves that the latter had domestic animals, and that the former had not. Arab horses, Siamese cats, and many other animals have been introduced into this country since the Christian era: yet the people who were here before their introduction did not become extinct. And if ‘in a great many cases the lower Palaeolithic strata [in caves] are sealed down, and mapped off from the Neolithic, by a layer of 387 stalagmite’,1588 that only proves ‘a break of continuity between the two periods’ as far as those caves are concerned. The Palaeolithic Age, says the professor, ‘was continental, the Neolithic insular in North-Western Europe.’1589 He means that in the Palaeolithic Age Great Britain was an outlying part of the Continent, and that the neolithic invaders had to sail across the Channel.1590 But why should the formation of the Channel have extinguished the palaeolithic race? ‘There is obviously,’ continues the professor, ‘a great gulf fixed between the rude hunter civilisation of the one and the agricultural and pastoral civilisation of the other.’ Obviously. But the gulf is not more obvious than that which separated the civilization of the Red Indians from the civilization of the Pilgrim Fathers. Yet the Red Indians still lived on.

It is true that if the professor has failed to show that the Palaeolithic Age in Britain was abruptly terminated, he has no difficulty in disposing of certain arguments which have been adduced to show that it was not. When, for instance, Mr. Allen Brown points to the implements of palaeolithic type which were found in the refuse heaps of the neolithic settlement at Cissbury in Sussex, he replies that ‘in the vast accumulation of refuse, representing every style in the chipping, from the rough block of flint ... to the highly finished axe, broken ... by an unhappy blow, it is obvious that there must be some which would represent well-known Palaeolithic types.’1591 Nevertheless it remains true that not one of the facts which he has stated is inconsistent with the hypothesis that men may have lived on in Britain in the palaeolithic stage of culture until the time when the first neolithic immigrants arrived. What his opponents suggest is that certain types of palaeolithic implements survived into the Neolithic Age;1592 in other words, that implements of those types continued to be manufactured or used then. That this was the case in Ireland is certain;1593 and, since there is no evidence of a Palaeolithic Age in Ireland, it seems not unreasonable to conjecture that they were made by descendants of palaeolithic refugees from Britain or Gaul. Mr. Allen Brown may be wrong in maintaining that implements which he has found ‘at or near the surface’ at East Dean in Sussex are ‘mesolithic’, that is, belong to a period of transition;1594 but Sir John Evans himself says1595 of some of the implements, usually classed as palaeolithic, 388 which have been found in the cave earth of the famous Kent’s Cavern in a position which authorizes us to assume that the people to whom they belonged were not separated by any ‘hiatus’ from the palaeolithic race whose remains were found immediately underneath, that ‘so far as form is concerned, there is little or nothing to distinguish them from the analogous implements of the Neolithic Period’. Is it not possible that these and some of the ruder implements which have hitherto been classed as neolithic may have been fabricated not by neolithic immigrants but, after their immigration, by descendants of the palaeolithic race?1596 Those who deny that mesolithic implements have been found in Britain deny also that they have been found anywhere else. Granted for the sake of argument. But if their general absence does not weaken the certainty that the supposed hiatus was not universal, how can their absence in Britain prove that there was a hiatus here? In Part I I have shown that it is impossible to frame any theory which shall account satisfactorily for the assumed disappearance of British palaeolithic man. Professor Boyd Dawkins asks us to believe that the ‘Cave-men’ fled in terror before the neolithic invaders and eventually settled in Greenland, where they became the ancestors of the Eskimos; and in support of this theory he assures us that ‘Palaeolithic man appeared in Europe with the arctic mammalia, lived in Europe along with them, and disappeared with them’; that the gloves of the ‘Cave-men’ were ‘similar to those now used by the Eskimos’; that their implements ‘are of the same kind as those of the Eskimos’; that, like the Eskimos, they did not take the trouble to bury their dead; and that ‘the most astonishing bond of union between the Cave-men and the Eskimos is the art of representing animals’.1597 Judging from the specimens of Eskimo art which the professor gives, I confess that what I find astonishing is its inferiority to that of the Cave-men;1598 there is no evidence that the Cave-men of Britain wore gloves; and if they did, may not the reason have been, not that there was any connexion between them and the Eskimos, but that their hands were cold? Is the professor sure that ‘the River-drift men’ did not also wear gloves? We do not know whether palaeolithic man appeared in Europe with the arctic mammalia: he certainly did not accompany them from the north; and it is an article of faith with French anthropologists that he did not disappear with them, but became the ancestor of 389 neolithic man. There is a general resemblance between the palaeolithic drift implements of all countries; and in the earlier part of this volume many facts have been noted which show how cautious one should be in inferring identity of race from similarity in implements, weapons, or ornaments. There is not the slightest evidence that ‘the Cave-men’ did not bury their dead; and there is irrefragable evidence, as we have seen, that cave-men in the Riviera and in Croatia did.1599 Again, since the professor differentiates the ‘Cave-men’ from the ‘River-drift men’ of Britain, can he prove that the latter did bury their dead? If not, what becomes of his argument? Finally, the theory that the Eskimos are descendants of ‘the Cave-men’ of Western Europe has been rejected by every recent inquirer.1600

How does Professor Boyd Dawkins account for the disappearance, which he assumes, of palaeolithic man? ‘Simply,’ he says, ‘by assuming that at the close of the Pleistocene age, when they came into contact with Neolithic invaders, there were the same feelings between them as existed in Hearne’s times between the Eskimos and the Red Indian, terror and defenceless hatred being, on the one side, met by ruthless extermination on the other. In this way the Cave-men would be gradually driven from Europe.’1601 That men who were ruthlessly exterminated should have survived to become the ancestors of the Eskimos is certainly remarkable. But seriously I would ask the professor whether he has really succeeded in persuading himself that ‘the Cave-men’ were one and all either exterminated or driven out of Europe. Did none remain? He assures us that ‘the Cave-men’ migrated eastward; and he still insists, in defiance of all French craniologists, that ‘neither of the two races of Palaeolithic man have left behind any marks in the existing population of Europe’.1602 How they contrived to make their slow progress across the Continent without leaving one descendant is a problem which he does not attempt to solve. And since he himself admits, or rather affirms, that they ‘came into contact with Neolithic invaders’, it is difficult to see how he can maintain the existence of a hiatus.

The professor has asserted that there is ‘no evidence in any part of the world of a continuity between the Palaeolithic and Neolithic ages’.1603 Yet he of course admits that it must have existed somewhere. Good reasons have been given for believing that it existed in France.1604 Why not also in Britain?1605 390

Such are the reasons by which I endeavour to justify myself in refusing to believe that neolithic man, when he entered Britain, found none to welcome or to oppose him save the thirty-one species of mammalian fauna which Professor Boyd Dawkins has spared.


British pygmies are the creation of Celtic imagination. The evidence on which we are required to believe that they existed is this. Professor Rhys1606 suggests that the name of the Coritani, a tribe mentioned by Ptolemy,1607 who inhabited the country between the Trent and the Nen, is related to the word cor, a dwarf. ‘Then,’ the professor concludes, ‘we should have accordingly to suppose the old race to have survived so long and in such numbers that the Celtic lords of Southern Britain called the people of that area by a name meaning dwarfs.’ Afterwards, referring to various articles by Mr. David MacRitchie, he observes that in certain parts of Wales and Scotland there are mounds enclosing cells, which are ‘frequently so small as to prove beyond doubt that those who inhabited them were of remarkably small stature’;1608 and he finds in Welsh, Irish, and Scotch folk-lore traditions which confirm him in the belief that these cells were inhabited by dwarfs, whom he calls ‘the Mound Folk’. ‘This strange people,’ he tells us, ‘seems to have exercised on the Celts ... a sort of permanent spell of mysteriousness and awe stretching to the verge of adoration ... the Celt’s faculty of exaggeration, combined with his incapacity to comprehend the weird and uncanny population of the mounds and caves ... has enabled him ... to bequeath to the great literatures of Western Europe a motley train of dwarfs,’1609 &c. The professor’s conclusion1610 is that the earliest people who inhabited these islands [apparently after the Palaeolithic Age] were ‘the mound folk, consisting of the short swarthy people variously caricatured by our fairy tales’; and that they were conquered by neolithic invaders, who, he tells us, ‘made slaves and drudges of the mound-haunting race.’

‘These,’ the professor warns us, perhaps superfluously, ‘are conjectures which I cannot establish; but possibly somebody else may.’

I venture to hint a doubt. Not only is the derivation of Coritani utterly uncertain,1611 but it is safe to assume that the Celtic tribe 391 who undoubtedly conquered the country which belonged in Ptolemy’s time to the Coritani would not have called its population, themselves included, by a name which described not even the people whom they found in possession, but the ‘slaves and drudges’ of that people, or rather of their neolithic predecessors! The professor indeed argued in Celtic Folk-Lore1612 that the Coritanian dwarfs ‘may be conjectured to have had quiet from invaders from the Continent because of the inaccessible nature of their fens’. How then did they themselves and the non-dwarfish invaders of the Bronze Age get there? It is almost superfluous to remark that in the year before and in the year after the publication of Celtic Folk-Lore the professor counted the Coritani among the Brythonic ‘invaders from the Continent’.1613 The ‘mound-dwellings’ which Mr. MacRitchie describes1614 belong to the class of structures which are popularly known as ‘Picts’ houses’, ‘Earth-houses’, or ‘Weems’, and are immeasurably later than the period to which Professor Rhys’s theory would compel him to assign them. The mere fact, indeed, that many of them have been shown by excavation to have been occupied in Roman times does not prove that they were not constructed earlier; but I can find no evidence that any of them belong even to the Neolithic Age. Mr. MacRitchie himself assures us that one which was opened at Crichton in Mid-Lothian ‘was proved to have been built not earlier than 80 A.D.’;1615 and he assigns the ‘mound-dwellings’ in general not to a pre-neolithic race but to the Picts of historic times.1616 He also says that one which was 392 explored in 1855 contained four chambers, of which the largest was ‘6 feet 2 inches long, 4 feet 6 inches in height, and 2 feet 6 inches wide’, and, with a fascinating lack of humour, he adds that ‘while the size of the stones used in its construction is evidence of great personal strength on the part of the builders, the small and narrow rooms seem to indicate a diminutive race.’1617 When the reader is invited to believe that ‘those who inhabited’ these ‘rooms’, which were only built by the exertion of ‘great personal strength’, ‘were of remarkably short stature’, he falls to calculating whether even a race of Tom Thumbs, each of whom possessed the muscular power of a Sandow, would not have used their strength to make their rooms a little more comfortable.1618 Mr. MacRitchie shows more acumen when, after remarking that ‘two alleged Fairy Knowes in Shetland’ proved on investigation to be natural hillocks, and that another in Stirlingshire ‘was only a sepulchral mound’, he concludes that these instances are ‘sufficient to show the unreliable nature of popular tradition’.1619 If it was ‘the Celt’s faculty of exaggeration’ that ‘enabled him to bequeath to the great literatures of Western Europe a motley train of dwarfs’, why should he not have exercised his faculty upon the comparatively short neolithic population rather than upon the imaginary pygmies whom Professor Rhys has appointed as their ‘slaves and drudges’?1620 And if the imagination which created ‘a motley train of dwarfs’ had pygmies for its basis of fact, will the professor tell us who were the originals of the ‘motley train’ of giants whom the imaginations of various European peoples associated with the dwarfs?1621 I am aware that Professor 393 Kollmann1622 claims to have proved that pygmies existed in prehistoric times in France, Germany, Switzerland, and other European countries; but the fact remains that no evidence has been produced that a race of pre-neolithic or even prehistoric pygmies existed in this country save only that which is furnished by ‘the Celt’s faculty of exaggeration’.


The remains of neolithic man have been discovered in caves, in cairns, in submerged forests, and in barrows in Essex, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Somersetshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Caermarthenshire, Denbighshire, the Isle of Man,1623 Argyllshire and the island of Arran, Caithness, and the Orkney Islands.1624 The neolithic population, however, it need hardly be said, were scattered over many other parts of Britain in which their skeletons have not come to light. Many anthropologists consider that all of them belong to one race; but at all events the great majority represent men of medium stature with long skulls; and it is a generally accepted article of faith that no long barrow has ever yielded any article of metal in association with a primary interment, and that no skull whose cephalic index exceeded 79, belonging to a primary interment, has ever been found in a long barrow since the time when anthropologists first began to measure skulls in this country.1625 According to a table1626 published by Dr. Beddoe in 1894, the value of which has been confirmed by later measurements,1627 the cephalic indices of 87 skulls belonging to the Neolithic Age ranged from 63 to 79; and, as Dr. Thurnam points out,1628 some of them are more dolichocephalic than those of any modern European people.

When we come to examine the stature of the neolithic Britons, we find that, according to Thurnam’s latest estimate,1629 the average height of 25 male skeletons found by him in long barrows 394 was 5 feet 5.4 inches,1630 or 1 metre 661: but Dr. Beddoe gives good reasons, to which I have already called attention,1631 for believing this estimate to be too low; and his own is 5 feet 6.7 inches, or 1 metre 694.1632 Recent measurements (although they include those of individuals under 5 feet) do not invalidate the evidence of these figures;1633 and the few Scottish skeletons which undoubtedly belong to the Neolithic Age have yielded practically the same results.1634

Dr. Garson, describing the dolichocephalic Long Barrow skulls, with which anthropologists agree in associating those that have been found in the ‘horned cairns’ of Caithness,1635 in the neolithic cairns of the isle of Arran,1636 and in the caves of Oban,1637 says that ‘the superciliary ridges and glabella [the surface between the superciliary ridges] are moderately or even feebly developed ... the malar [or cheek] bones are never prominent ... there is no tendency to prognathism ... as a whole the face is oval in form; the jaws are small and fine ... the facial characters are mild and without exaggerated development in any direction’.1638 It may be added that the Long Barrow skulls, as Thurnam pointed out, are ‘more or less depressed—platycephalic’,1639 and that the nose is usually aquiline.

The general truth of the foregoing descriptions will be apparent to any one who examines the plates in Crania Britannica; but we must take account of exceptions. As Dr. Davis pointed out,1640 a skull found in the Long Lowe barrow, near Wetton in Staffordshire, is very different from another dolichocephalic skull from a chambered long barrow at Uley in Gloucestershire.1641 In the latter 395 the brow ridges are strongly marked, and the chin is comparatively broad and square.1642 Of another skull, found in a barrow near Littleton Drew in North Wiltshire, Thurnam observes that the lower jaw is ‘thick and heavy’.1643 A third, taken from a barrow at West Kennet in North Wiltshire, has an amazingly angular and square lower jaw, which, as Thurnam truly says, ‘deviates considerably from the normal type.’1644

Again, while the average stature of the Long Barrow skeletons which Thurnam examined was, according to the higher estimate of Dr. Beddoe, only 5 feet 6·7 inches,1645 and Rolleston affirmed that he had ‘never found the stature to exceed 5 feet 6 inches ... in any skeleton from a barrow which was undoubtedly of the stone and bone period’,1646 a skeleton found in the West Kennet barrow had a thigh bone 20 inches long;1647 and its possessor would therefore have stood 6 feet high, or nearly 1 metre 830, on the lowest computation, and, according to the estimate of Dr. Beddoe, 6 feet 1½ inch or 1 metre 867. Not less remarkable is a dolichocephalic skeleton of almost identical dimensions,1648 described by Dr. Garson, which, although it was found in a round barrow, undoubtedly belonged to the Neolithic Age.1649

It is evident, therefore, that although not one of the people, so far as we can tell, who buried their dead in long barrows was brachycephalic in index, yet not only was there a very wide range in their indices, but some of them were strikingly different, both in form of skull and feature and in stature, from the normal type. Were they the result of crossing between individuals of the Long Barrow race and tall brachycephalic invaders who will be noticed later? Thurnam himself pointed out that a male skull, whose cephalic index was 79, found in a primary interment in the long barrow of Charlton Abbot’s in Wiltshire, was ‘unquestionably brachycephalous’.1650 The mere fact that its index was below the conventional limit did not blind him to its true character.

Let us now see how far those skulls of the Neolithic Age which have been found in other surroundings resemble the type which is associated with long barrows.

Putting aside the Scottish skulls which have been already mentioned, they comprise specimens found in the caves of Perthi-Chwareu in Denbighshire and Cefn, near St. Asaph; in a chambered cairn at Tyddyn Bleiddyn, near Cefn; in caves at Rhosdigre and Llandebie, and at Uphill in Somersetshire;1651 in the East Ham Marshes, along with two ‘chipped celts’, fifteen feet below the 396 surface;1652 in the bed of the Trent at Muskham;1653 and in a submarine forest, thirty feet below the level of the sea, near the Land’s End.1654 Skulls found in tumuli at Keiss in Caithness,1655 in a tumulus at Towyn-y-Capel in Anglesey,1656 and in ‘what seems to be an alluvial deposit formed by the river Dove’, near Ledbury Hall in Derbyshire,1657 may be added doubtfully to the list;1658 but, as we shall afterwards see,1659 there need be no doubt that certain brachycephalic skulls of the type which is commonly associated with the round barrows belonged to the Neolithic Age.

Professor Ripley1660 holds that the Long Barrow people were ‘quite similar to’ those whose remains have been found in caves, if ‘somewhat less extreme in physical type’; and Huxley1661 thought that all the dolichocephalic and mesaticephalic British skulls of the Neolithic Age belonged to the same race. Similarly Dr. Garson1662 identifies the river-bed type, represented in Britain by the Muskham skull, with that of the long barrows; while, according to Professor Boyd Dawkins, the skulls from the Welsh caves and from Tyddyn Bleiddyn ‘agree in shape ... with some of those given in Tables i. and ii. of the “Crania Britannica” as “ancient British”’,1663 and ‘belong to that type which Professor Huxley terms the river-bed skull’,1664 and which, according to him, was identical ‘in general characters’ with the Long Barrow type.1665 Dr. Beddoe,1666 on the contrary, says that both they and the Caithness skulls ‘depart considerably from the typical long-barrow cranium’, and is inclined to regard them as belonging to a distinct mesaticephalic race.1667 The cephalic indices of the Welsh skulls, which range from 74·3 to 80,1668 are considerably higher than those of the Long Barrow skulls in general; and (though 397 this may be unimportant) the average height of the men to whom they belonged was ‘little more than 5 feet’,1669 or considerably below the average height of the Long Barrow people. In my opinion neither they nor the Land’s End skull, which resembles them,1670 are pure specimens of the Long Barrow type;1671 and the same may be said of the East Ham and Muskham skulls. The one from Towyn-y-Capel, on the other hand, might be supposed to have come from a long barrow. The cephalic indices of the Caithness skulls range from 73 to 78. Four of them1672 might, I think, pass muster as Long Barrow skulls; but the remaining two1673 appear to me different. Of the Ledbury skull, the cephalic index of which is 77, Huxley himself says that ‘a little flattening and elongation, with a rather greater development of the supraciliary ridges would convert this into the nearest likeness to the Neanderthal skull which has yet been discovered’.1674 It may be that there was some infusion of the blood of the Long Barrow race in all the people to whom these skulls belonged; but I have little doubt that if, with the few exceptions which I have noted, they were placed on a table among those of the long barrows, a skilled craniologist could pick out every one of them. The difference is easily accounted for when it is remembered that the long barrows were almost certainly erected late in the Neolithic Age,1675 and that there were neolithic men in Scotland when the estuary of the Forth extended 8 or 10 miles west of Stirling, and when the sea relatively to the west coast was 25 feet higher than it is now.1676

A female skull, belonging apparently to the Neolithic Age, was discovered about the year 1891 ‘on the Batten promontory, near Plymouth Sound’.1677 According to the report of the discovery, it ‘approaches dolichocephaly’. A photograph of this skull1678 reminded 398 me of some of the illustrations of round skulls in Crania Britannica. To quote from the report,1679 ‘the most striking features of the face are the great size of the orbits, the strongly marked superciliary ridge, the lowness of the retreating forehead’; and all these features are characteristic of some of the most typical Bronze Age skulls.

A few years ago Professor Macalister said that he had not recognized any skulls of the Long Barrow type in Ireland,1680 where no such barrows exist; but several specimens have since been found.1681

There is, as we have seen, reason to believe that the neolithic population of Britain were not homogeneous; but, with the qualifications that have been already noted, it may be truly said that the people of the long barrows present a uniform type. Whence did they come, and what were their affinities? The view which may be said to hold the field, although it is not universally accepted,1682 is that they belonged to the so-called ‘Iberian’ race. Before we discuss this theory, it may be well to warn the reader that among those who hold it are writers who have absolutely no knowledge of ‘the Iberian question’ except on the side of physical anthropology. The word ‘Iberian’, as used by ethnologists, is not always confined to the Iberians of history, that is, the inhabitants of the Spanish peninsula and of Southern Gaul between the Pyrenees and the Rhône:1683 it is often loosely applied to a people, possessing certain common physical features, who inhabited various parts of the Mediterranean basin, and, according to some writers, notably Sergi,1684 penetrated in late quaternary and neolithic times into almost every country of Europe. And when it is applied by ethnologists to the Iberians of history, it is not applied to all of them, for the Iberians of history were of course a mixed people: the ethnologists are thinking only of those Iberians who belonged to the dolichocephalic Mediterranean stock.

The arguments which have been brought forward in favour of the theory that the Long Barrow race belonged to the Iberian branch of the Mediterranean stock may be summarized as follows:— First, according to Tacitus,1685 the Silures, a British tribe which in his time inhabited what is now Monmouthshire, Glamorganshire, and Herefordshire, were dark and had curly hair, from which fact, 399 as well as from their geographical position, he inferred that Iberians, that is inhabitants of the Spanish peninsula, had migrated into Britain.1686 But if the dolichocephalic Iberians were dark, so were the brachycephalic people who settled in Gaul in the Neolithic Age: Tacitus’s geographical argument was based upon the notion, prevalent among the ancient geographers,1687 that Spain was ‘opposite’ and near Britain; and it is of course incredible that people should have sailed in the Neolithic Age from Spain to our island.

Secondly, much stress has been laid upon the alleged resemblance of the Long Barrow skulls to those of the Basques, the assumption being that the latter were Iberians, properly so called. Dr. Garson affirms that there is ‘a strong similarity between Basque skulls and those of the Neolithic people of Britain’;1688 while Thurnam1689 points out that the skulls of the Basques are very ‘similar in many respects to the skulls from chambered long barrows of South-West Britain’, and that the Long Barrow skulls in general closely resemble ‘sixty Basque skulls lately added to the collection of the Anthropological Society of Paris’.1690 Moreover, Dr. Beddoe1691 says, ‘Many photographs of Basques ... are recognized, both by myself and by an observant Welsh anthropologist to whom I have submitted them, as being in no respect different from some of the ordinary types of feature in South Wales.’

Now, as I have shown elsewhere,1692 the investigations which have been made regarding the cranial characters of the Basques have led to widely different results; and Dr. Garson does not say to what group of Basque skulls he refers. Both the Spanish and the French Basques, according to Dr. Collignon,1693 differ in certain respects from all other European peoples; but they also differ from each other, the former being generally dolichocephalic, while the latter are (according to Broca’s notation)1694 sub-brachycephalic, and their cranial capacity is considerably less than that of their Spanish brethren. Dr. Collignon is inclined to assimilate the Basques generally to the Kabyle type.1695 Assuming that the Long Barrow 400 race resembled the Spanish Basques in certain respects, the resemblance only tends to show that the ancestors of the Long Barrow race came from the south. The ancestors, or rather some of the ancestors of the Basques were undoubtedly Iberians,—in one sense of the word: but the French Basque type which Dr. Collignon has described, and which he regards as original,1696 is in many respects different from that of the long barrows, which ethnologists call Iberian; and, as I have shown elsewhere,1697 the purest French Basques are generally fair, the Spanish Basques are less dark than other Spaniards, and the Long Barrow race were undoubtedly dark. Moreover, many ethnologists overlook the fact that the language of the so-called Iberian inscriptions, which have been found scattered over the territory that belonged to the Iberians, cannot be interpreted by the aid of Basque,1698 and shows no trace of kinship with Basque.

Thirdly, Sergi, affirming that the Long Barrow people belonged to the Iberian branch of the stock which he has taught ethnologists to call Mediterranean, says,1699 ‘I have compared the forms of the skulls from British graves with ancient.... Mediterranean skulls, and have found those characteristic of Spain, of Portugal ... of Greece, of Hissarlik, and of East Africa.’ The fact is undeniable; but obviously it does not tend to prove that the Long Barrow race belonged to the Iberian rather than to the Ligurian branch, which, according to Sergi,1700 ‘extends from the Iberian peninsula as far as Italy,’ or to any other branch of the Mediterranean stock. Moreover, when Sergi affirms1701 that ‘wherever the Mediterranean stock established itself, it preserved its primitive burial custom of inhumation’, and that ‘incineration was of absolutely Aryan [that is to say, on his theory, Asiatic] origin’,1702 he weakens his argument, 401 for it is certain that incineration was practised by many of the Long Barrow people.1703 Furthermore, Sergi tells us that skeletons of ‘the Mediterranean type’ are characterized by ‘slender and delicate forms’,1704 and doubtless most of the skeletons which have been found in long barrows answer to this description; but thirteen skeletons found in a chambered long barrow at Rodmarton, Gloucestershire, were distinguished by ‘powerful and vigorous frames’.1705

I conclude that there is not sufficient evidence for referring the Long Barrow people to the Iberian rather than to some other branch of the Mediterranean stock.

It is generally admitted that the Long Barrow race closely resembled in cranial characteristics, and to a lesser degree in stature, the dolichocephalic neolithic population of Gaul, of whom the people whose remains have been discovered in the caverns of l’Homme Mort1706 and Baumes-Chaudes1707 were perhaps the most typical representatives; and this resemblance confirms the truth of the theory that the Long Barrow people were a branch of the ‘Mediterranean’ stock. But one argument, upon which Thurnam1708 laid great stress, should warn us to be cautious in drawing conclusions from the skeletal characters of prehistoric peoples of whose other characters we are necessarily ignorant. About the middle of the nineteenth century several skeletons were discovered in a neolithic barrow at Fontenay, near Caen. Their skulls resembled those of the long barrows; and the height of the tallest, according to Thurnam’s system of measurement, would not have exceeded 5 feet 1 inch, or 1 metre 550. This, he triumphantly remarks, confirms the opinion that the peoples who erected the sepulchral chambers at Fontenay and in the south-west of England belonged to the same race. But the average height of the Long Barrow people, according to Thurnam, was 5 feet 5·4 inches,1709 and the average height of the brachycephalic Round Barrow people 5 feet 8·4 inches.1710 This difference of 3 inches 402 is one of the facts upon which he relies to prove the distinction—a distinction which is of course as certain as it is universally admitted—between the Long Barrow people and the brachycephalic Round Barrow people. Yet he regards the difference of 4.4 inches between the average height of the Long Barrow people and the tallest of the men who were buried at Fontenay as sufficient to prove the racial identity of the latter with the former!

Dr. Keane1711 maintains that the route followed by the people who introduced the neolithic culture into the British Isles is indicated by the dolmens which abound in many parts of Northern Africa, and are scattered along the western side of the Spanish peninsula and over nearly the whole area of France. This is also the opinion of Professor Flinders Petrie, who affirms that ‘the dolmens belong to one continuous series, passing from Syria, along North Africa, and up Spain to Western Europe’,1712 of Montelius,1713 Sophus Müller,1714 and Sergi.1715 Penka, on the other hand (I quote from Mr. J. L. Myres’s exposition of his views), ‘reads the series the other way,’ because ‘while on the north these monuments go back into the Stone Age, in France and the south they belong to the Bronze Age’. He observes that ‘the discovery of dolmens in North Africa and Syria ... has proceeded pari passu with the discovery both of actual survival of a tall blond dolichocephalic race in the same areas, and of evidence in Egyptian portraiture of its wider extension in the second millennium B.C.’ He maintains therefore that the earliest dolmen-builders were dolichocephalic blonds, speaking an Aryan language, in Southern Scandinavia and Denmark.1716

Now the ethnological problem presented by the distribution of the dolmens is exceedingly difficult; and it is not certain that either of the above-mentioned views is right. Dolmens are found not only in the countries which have been already mentioned, but also in Japan, India, Persia, Arabia, Syria, Palestine, Moab, Asia Minor, the Crimea, the Netherlands, Northern Germany, and the Balearic Islands;1717 and it is possible that in certain other countries their non-existence may be due simply to lack of the necessary stones.1718 In the territory which corresponds with ancient Gaul there are no dolmens east of the line formed by the Jura and the Vosges;1719 403 while the departments in which they are most numerous form a band extending obliquely from Finistère to Gard, that is, from the Channel to the Mediterranean.1720 The single department of the Morbihan contains more megalithic monuments, including menhirs, or single standing stones, than all the other departments put together; but in the list of dolmens it ranks below Aveyron and Ardèche.1721 In the Spanish peninsula almost all the dolmens are concentrated in Portugal, the north-eastern corner of Spain, and the southern and eastern seaboard: in Southern Britain they are found in Cornwall, Devonshire, Dorsetshire, Somersetshire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Kent, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, and Northumberland, in Monmouthshire,1722 Herefordshire, and Wales;1723 while in Scotland they are represented by the horned cairns of Caithness and the chambered cairns of Orkney, Inverness, Argyllshire, Arran, and other islands.1724 In Ireland they are everywhere, but most numerous in the west.1725

There is a striking resemblance, which, in certain cases, amounts to almost complete identity of form, between many of the dolmens of Western Europe and some even of the Caucasus and India; although, as might have been expected, local peculiarities exist everywhere.1726 Thus the chambered long barrow of West Kennet in Wiltshire is identical in construction with the Hünebedden, or ‘Giants’ Graves’, of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, and Hanover;1727 and close resemblances have been noted between certain dolmens in Wales and others in Brittany and Portugal,1728 between some in Antrim and others in Denmark,1729 and between certain Irish dolmens and the peculiar ship-shaped monuments of the Balearic Isles.1730 It is of course true that in sepulchres of such rude and simple construction general resemblance is inevitable, and does not necessarily imply community of origin: but when we find that in the Caucasus, in Syria and India, and in every European country in which dolmens exist some few have one of their stones pierced with a hole;1731 that the covering-stones of certain dolmens in Portugal, Ireland, Cornwall, Sweden, and elsewhere are indented with small circular depressions,1732 and that the sepulchral customs discernible in the dolmens 404 of widely separated countries are virtually identical,1733 it must be admitted that there is ground for the opinion that the custom of dolmen-building originated with some one people.1734 On the other hand, it is easily conceivable that these coincidences originated in customs and beliefs which may have been common property before the first dolmen was set up, or which may have been handed on at a later time from tribe to tribe. De Mortillet argued that dolmens were not the exclusive creation of any one race because in France skeletons of widely different races have been found within them.1735 But this fact only proves that an intruding race buried their dead in dolmens built by others, or else adopted the custom of dolmen-building from their predecessors. It has also been argued that the differences in detail which are noticeable in the dolmens of the various countries of Western Europe prove that they were not the work of one migratory people but of various settled tribes; and that this conclusion is borne out by the similarity between the culture of the dolmen-builders of widely separated countries such as France and Denmark.1736 What is certain is that if the dolmens had been erected successively by peoples who migrated westward from Syria or even North Africa, and whose descendants moved on northward to the British Isles, we should expect to find that the British dolmens belonged to a period very much later than those of the Mediterranean. But the oldest dolmens of North Africa are assigned by General Faidherbe to the very end of the Neolithic and the commencement of the Bronze Age.1737 The arguments of Penka, whatever value they may have in regard to the origin of dolmen-building, certainly do not prove that the Long Barrow race were descended from Scandinavian ancestors: for their skulls are easily distinguishable from those of Scandinavia;1738 the neolithic 405 pottery of Britain is utterly different from that of the north;1739 and the distribution of the dolmens in the British Isles, where they are most numerous in Western Britain and in Ireland, is hardly consistent with the theory that the people who erected them came from the north-east. Moreover, the remains which have been found in the oldest Scandinavian dolmens indicate that the culture which they represent was more advanced than that which is manifested in similar tombs in Gaul or the British Isles.1740

On the question of the origin of dolmens I offer no opinion. But in regard to those of Western Europe the least improbable theory appears to be that which was first tentatively propounded by M. Cazalis de Fondonce,1741 and developed by Mr. Borlase,1742 namely, that a dolichocephalic people who were erecting dolmens in France and the Spanish peninsula, where these monuments may have been evolved from sepulchral caves,1743 were forced westward by the brachycephalic ‘Grenelle’ race who invaded those countries in the Neolithic Age;1744 that some of them migrated into the British Isles, and others into Holland and Northern Germany,1745 whence the custom of dolmen-building would have spread to Denmark and Scandinavia; and that others [perhaps] moved southward into Africa. The earlier neolithic dolmen-builders of Gaul, like the Long Barrow people of Britain, belonged to the ‘Mediterranean’ type; and on the theory which I have stated their ancestors might have migrated into Spain and Gaul from Africa long before the first African dolmen was erected.

Lastly, linguistic arguments have been adduced to prove the African origin of the Long Barrow race.1746 Professor Morris Jones1747 endeavours to show that the Celtic language was modified, after 406 it had been introduced into Britain, by the language or languages which it encountered;1748 and he claims to have established the syntactical similarity of the modern Celtic dialects to Egyptian and to the Hamitic dialects generally, and to have demonstrated that ‘neo-Celtic syntax agrees with Hamitic in almost every point where it differs from Aryan’.1749 This, he concludes, is ‘the linguistic complement of the anthropological evidence, and the strongest corroboration of the theory of the kinship of the early inhabitants of Britain to the North African white race’.

I would not, however, venture to commit myself to the theory of Sergi, that the cradle of the ‘Iberian’ race, or of the ‘Mediterranean’ race of which it was an offshoot, was in Northern Africa or Somaliland.1750 Professor Boyd Dawkins infers ‘from their range as far north as Scotland, and at least as far to the east as Belgium, that they travelled by the same paths that the Celtic, Belgic, and Germanic tribes travelled ... coming from the East, and pushing their way to the West; and that another [group] mastered Northern Africa’; and he argues that this view ‘is confirmed by the examination of the domestic animals which they possessed. The short-horned ox, the sheep, and the goat, are derived from wild stocks that are now to be found only in Central Asia.... None of these animals were known in Europe before the Neolithic Age.’1751 But any one who has read so far will have seen that the range of the ‘Iberian’ race ‘as far north as Scotland’ lends no support to the theory that it originated in Asia. In regard to the argument which the professor derives from the examination of the domestic animals, Rolleston1752 inclined to the view that ‘though coming in the ultimate resort from the east, [they] ... did not reach the north of the Alps directly from the East, but only ... from the Greek and Italian peninsulas’. But the truth is that we do not know whether the earliest neolithic invaders of the British Isles or of Western Europe possessed short-horned oxen, sheep, or goats.1753 Supposing that these animals came from the East, is it not possible that they were 407 introduced into Europe not by the ‘Mediterranean’ race but by brachycephalic neolithic immigrants? Moreover, Professor Boyd Dawkins has himself admitted that ‘the common domestic hog, descended from the wild boar, may have been originally tamed in Europe’,1754 and that the vegetables possessed by the Swiss lake-dwellers may have been ‘derived from Southern Europe’;1755 and it is now generally held that the domestic animals of the neolithic inhabitants of Europe were of European origin, and that there is no evidence that their plants and cereals were derived from Asia.1756

On the whole the evidence shows that the neolithic inhabitants of Britain, or at all events a large proportion of them, were descended from ancestors who lived in the Mediterranean basin. But it does not follow that they were more intimately related to the people whom the ancient writers called Iberians than to some other branch of the Mediterranean stock. It is certain that before the Romans entered the Spanish peninsula two languages at least besides Celtic were spoken there,—Basque and the language of the so-called Iberian inscriptions.1757 The latter has not yet been deciphered: but, as we have seen,1758 all attempts to explain it by means of Basque have failed; and, as Professor Morris Jones admits, all attempts to discover traces of Basque influence in the Celtic dialects have been equally unsuccessful.1759

Therefore it should be distinctly understood that if the term ‘Iberian’ is to be applied to the neolithic inhabitants of Britain, it must be taken in a purely conventional sense.1760

M. d’Arbois de Jubainville1761 adduces various British place-names, 408 for example, Sabrina (the Severn), Isca (the Exe), Albion, and Cantium (Kent), which he chooses to call Ligurian; but I am not aware that he has made any converts. Little or nothing is known about the Ligurian tongue;1762 and even if M. d’Arbois’s conjectures could be verified their ethnological value would be comparatively slight; for, as I have shown elsewhere,1763 there is some reason to believe that the Ligurians, like the Iberians, belonged to the ‘Mediterranean’ stock.

It is perhaps hardly necessary now to insist upon the fact that the Long Barrow race is not extinct. Not only have their remains been found, as we shall presently see, in graves of the Bronze Age and the Late Celtic period,1764 but men of the same type, but little modified, are still numerous.1765

It is often taken for granted that no round barrows were erected in Britain before the close of the Neolithic Age, and that the earliest of the brachycephalic invaders whose remains have been found in them landed with bronze weapons in their hands.1766 But these assumptions are made in spite of conclusive evidence. There is not the slightest doubt that most if not all of the circular chambered cairns of Argyllshire, Caithness, Orkney, and Derbyshire were erected before the Bronze Age in those parts began.1767 Dr. Garson, speaking of brachycephalic skulls which have been found in round barrows in Orkney, says that ‘the fact that no metals of any kind were found, and that all the implements were of the most primitive manufacture, points to the people belonging to the unpolished stone period’, and concludes that ‘we probably post-date the existence of the people who buried in the round barrows of Orkney if we attribute them with (sic) the same antiquity as those of the round barrows of England’.1768 Dr. Garson has also shown that the round barrow of Howe Hill in Yorkshire was erected in the Neolithic Age, and that the skeletons found in it belong to the Long Barrow type.1769 The round-headed people who introduced drinking-cups into our island brought no bronze with them. According to 409 Barnard Davis, a skull from a chambered round barrow at Parsley Hay Low in Derbyshire, which had a cephalic index of 81, ‘without doubt belongs to the early “stone-period”’;1770 and he assigns to the same epoch another skull, the cephalic index of which was the same, from Green Gate Hill barrow, Pickering, Yorkshire.1771 Canon Greenwell suggests that some of the round barrows ‘belong to an age before bronze was discovered’; and it is certain that the round barrows of this country were connected by evolution with the earlier long barrows.1772 Finally, if Sergi1773 is right in maintaining that ‘the new burial custom of cremation’ was introduced into Europe by brachycephalic immigrants, it follows that they invaded Britain in the Neolithic Age; for in this country, as in Gaul, cremation was then practised.1774


A view which has become fashionable of late years, owing to the influence of Professor Rhys and Professor Zimmer, is that the [dolichocephalic] neolithic people of this country were identical with the Picts,1775 whose name first occurs in the panegyric addressed about A.D. 296 to Constantius Caesar.1776 To clear the ground, I should say, first, that it is universally admitted that descendants of the neolithic race survived not only in the part of Scotland which was inhabited by the Picts but in most parts of Britain. The question is whether the Picts represented that race in a special sense, and still spoke the neolithic non-Aryan language. As we shall see, Professor Rhys himself, who maintains that they did, emphatically affirms that among the medley of tribes who were known as Picts some were Celtic and spoke a Celtic tongue. Secondly, it may be well to state certain elementary facts of Celtic phonology (although I dare say that to most of those who may read these pages they are already familiar), without a knowledge of which parts of the following discussion and of the later section on the Celts would be unintelligible. The ancient Gauls, for the most part,1777 and the Brythons, from whose dialect modern Welsh is descended, are commonly called the P Celts; while the Goidels, whose dialect was the ancestor of Gaelic, Irish, and Manx, are known as the Q Celts. 410 The reason of this distinction is that the Gauls and Brythons changed the original sound qu into p, while the Goidels retained it, and in the sixth century of our era modified it into c.1778 It has been affirmed, however, on the evidence of the formularies of Marcellus of Bordeaux, that some of the Western Gauls in the fourth century spoke a dialect which was akin to Goidelic;1779 and Professor Rhys and Mr. Nicholson1780 regard the words Sequani and Sequana (the Gallic name of the Seine) as proving that this dialect was not confined to the west: but M. d’Arbois de Jubainville refuses to admit that these names are Celtic,1781 and contemptuously denies that the formularies are to be taken seriously.1782 Professor Rhys1783 and Mr. Nicholson1784 also infer from certain inscriptions found in the departments of the Ain and Deux-Sèvres, which probably belong respectively to the first and the fourth century of our era, that a dialect akin to Goidelic was spoken in those localities: but here again M. d’Arbois dissents;1785 and he remarks that an inscription found at Géligneux in the department of the Ain contains a word, petru-decametos,1786 which belongs to the language of the P Celts. Professor Rhys urges that ‘the presence of monuments in the language occupying the subordinate position may be taken as evidence presumptive of its being the vernacular in the immediate neighbourhood’:1787 but, as we shall see hereafter,1788 a pillar, bearing a Goidelic inscription, has been found at Silchester, where the vernacular was undoubtedly Brythonic; and the obvious explanation is that the inscription was the work of a stranger. M. d’Arbois,1789 moreover, unlike Professor Rhys, maintains that when the Celts first invaded Britain, the Celtic language everywhere was one and the same: according to him, none of the Celts had then changed q into p, but that change was made at a later date by the Celts who conquered Gaul, and some of whose descendants afterwards conquered Britain. Until near the end of the nineteenth century Celtic scholars unanimously believed that all the Celtic dialects had rejected ‘Indo-European p’, except, as Mr. Nicholson says,1790 ‘in borrowed words or in certain combinations of consonants’; 411 in other words, that wherever the Indo-European or Aryan tongue from which Celtic was descended had the sound of p the Celtic dialects had all lost it: but Professor Rhys holds that Mr. Nicholson has proved from the above-mentioned inscriptions, found in the departments of the Ain and Deux Sèvres, that it was retained by the Sequani and the Pictones.1791 M. d’Arbois de Jubainville of course rejects this conclusion; and he reminds his opponents that p is absent from all Ogam inscriptions.1792

1. In 296, when the panegyric addressed to Constantius was written, the Picts to whom the writer referred were confined to the part of Scotland which extends northward from the firths of Forth and Clyde; but Professor Rhys and Professor Zimmer maintain that the habitat of the Pictish people was once much more extensive. ‘Irish literature,’ says Professor Rhys,1793 ‘alludes to Picts here and there in Ireland ... in such a way as to favour the belief that they were survivals of a race holding possession at one time of the whole country.’ That the Picts once inhabited the whole of Britain is proved, in the opinion not only of the two professors but also of M. d’Arbois de Jubainville, who differs from them on the question of Pictish ethnology, by the following linguistic facts.1794 The Irish name of the Picts was Cruthni.1795 Britain has, since the Middle Ages, been called in Welsh ynys Prydein: Prydein is the Welsh equivalent of Cruthni; and ynys Prydein means ‘the island of the Picts’. Now, as Professor Rhys remarks,1796 Prydein, with its cognate forms, Prydain, Prydyn, and Pryden, represents an old Welsh word Priten; and accordingly, the Brythonic or the Gaulish name of the Picts, when it reached the ears of the Greeks, would have been written by them Πρετανοί. It must of course be borne in mind that Cruthni, Prydain, and Priten did not appear in literature until long after Caesar’s time; but the etymology which connects Πρετανοί and Πρεταν(ν)ικαὶ (νῆσοι)—the name by which Ptolemy and other Greek writers call the British Isles1797—with Priten is accepted by Celtic scholars who, on the question of the ethnology of the Picts, differ widely among themselves. M. d’Arbois de Jubainville1798 concludes that in the time of Pytheas the masters of Britain were the Picts; while Professor Rhys holds that when, shortly before that epoch, the Brythons first landed in Britain,1799 not the Picts but the Goidelic 412 Celts were the dominant race. In other words, he believes that the Goidelic Celts called the island which they conquered by ‘some such a Goidelic name as Inis Chruithni, “Island of the Picts”’.1800 M. d’Arbois identifies the Picts of the time of Pytheas with the ancestors of the Goidelic Celts: like Professor Rhys he regards the word Pretani as simply the Brythonic, or Gaulish form of a Goidelic word Qrtanoi, of which Cruthni was the later Irish equivalent;1801 but he holds that no Brythons had set foot in Britain until after the time of Pytheas, and that the word Pretani was learned by Pytheas not in Britain but in Gaul.

Both the views that have just been stated seem to involve difficulties. If Professor Rhys is right in believing that the pre-Roman Goidelic invaders of Britain (whose very existence, as we shall afterwards see, is not universally admitted) called the people whom they found in possession by some such name as Chruithni or Cruthni, the name which, transformed by Brythons into Pretanoi, was applied by Pytheas to the inhabitants of Britain generally, it would appear either that the Goidelic invaders had no name of their own or that it was suppressed.1802 Moreover, Professor Rhys does not explain how it happened that Pytheas never learned the name by which, as he tells us, the Brythons called themselves, namely, Brittones. On the other hand, M. d’Arbois’s view would compel us either to assign the first Brythonic invasion to a date a century later than that which is now generally accepted,1803 or to assume that Pytheas, although he visited Britain, learned nothing there of the name of its inhabitants. I confess that I cannot suggest any satisfactory solution.

It remains to be inquired whether the Picts of history did really, in a special sense, represent the neolithic population, and whether they spoke a non-Aryan language.

2. Was the word Pict, in its original form, pre-Aryan or Celtic? The answers that have been given to this question only serve to amuse the ignorant scoffer, and to illustrate the truth that even if the labours of Zeuss placed the study of the ancient Celtic languages upon a scientific basis, Celtic scholars still know very little about them. When we inquire of Professor Rhys, we are perplexed by the quick changes of front to which his most devoted disciples have by this time become accustomed. In the second edition of his Celtic Britain1804 he said that ‘neither the Picts nor the Scotti probably owned these names, the former of which is to be traced to Roman 413 authors’; and he described the theory which ‘connected the Pict with the Gaulish Pictones’ as a ‘clumsy invention’.1805 In his Rhind Lectures he assured us that ‘the principal non-Aryan name of the inhabitants of both islands [Great Britain and Ireland] was some prototype of the word Pict’,1806 and gave reasons, which are now generally accepted, for believing that that name was not connected with the Latin pictus.1807 At the same time he definitely committed himself to the view which he had previously derided as a ‘clumsy invention’, and affirmed that ‘the word Pict ... is hardly to be severed from the Pictones of ancient Gaul’. In The Welsh People, which first appeared in 1900, and in a later edition of the same work, dated 1902,1808 he argued that ‘Ictis [the name of an island mentioned by Diodorus Siculus1809] and Icht [the old Irish name of the English Channel] represent possibly a Celtic pronunciation of the same Aboriginal word which the Romans made into Pictus ... we must’, he added, ‘suppose it an early name which the Aborigines adopted, while the Celts ... applied another name Qṷrtani, Pretani, Cruithni,’ &c. But in the same year in which the first edition of The Welsh People appeared he told the members of the British Association that ‘pictos was a Celtican word of the same etymology, and approximately, doubtless, of the same meaning as the Latin pictus; that the Celticans had applied it at an early date to the Picts on account of their ... tattooing themselves; and that the Picts had accepted it’.1810 It is not absolutely clear whether by ‘the Celticans’ he means only those people of Gaul who spoke a language akin to Goidelic or the first Celtic invaders of Britain. As, however, we are told that the Picts accepted their name from ‘the Celticans’, it would seem that those ‘Celticans’ were, or at all events included, the British Goidels; and we ask ourselves in bewilderment why, if the ‘Celticans’ applied the name pictos to the Picts, they also applied the name Qṷrtani.1811 But when we open the latest edition of Celtic Britain,1812 we find that the professor’s views are still in process of development, or of flux. He now reverts to the theory that ‘the native name which suggested the Latin [Pictus] was not of Celtic origin either, though only found treated as Celtic’. He adds that ‘the term Pictones, as occurring in Gaul in Caesar’s time, makes it probable that it was also a name of long standing in Britain’; and finally he avows with characteristic candour that ‘we know not from what language it comes’. Turning to our other authorities, we learn from Zimmer that Picti is obviously a Latin translation of the name [the ancestor of Prydain] which the Romans learned from the Britons.1813 In other words, the German savant holds that the word Pictos [if it ever existed except as a 414 Latin accusative plural] was neither aboriginal in Britain, nor Celtican. It has been suggested1814 that Picti is connected with the old Irish word cicht,1815 a carver or engraver, and is the Cymric form of a Goidelic word Qicti;1816 while Mr. Nicholson, who insists that Picti is not Cymric but Goidelic, claims to have ‘fully shown that this name is ... from the root peik- “tattoo”, with Ind.-Eur. p preserved’.1817

The one absolutely certain conclusion to which the student of ethnology can come is that the name of the Picts has not been proved to be of pre-Aryan origin.

3. Still, Professors Rhys and Zimmer will have it that the Picts must have been a non-Aryan people. Caesar,1818 in a well-known passage, states that among the Britons groups of ten or twelve men had wives in common; in other words, that one of the British customs was polyandry. It has generally been assumed that he meant to say that the custom was prevalent among the Britons generally; but Zimmer, after reviewing the whole chapter in which the passage occurs, concludes that it refers only to interiores—the Britons of the interior1819—whom Caesar contrasts with maritimi,—the descendants of the Belgic invaders. The latter, he argues, according to Caesar’s express statement, differed but slightly in their customs from the Gauls:1820 therefore the words in which Caesar describes the British custom of polyandry cannot refer to them, but must refer to interiores.1821 The two professors agree in thinking that Caesar, owing to his ‘inability to realize a state of society exclusively based on birth’,1822 misunderstood the institution which he tried to describe; in other words, that that institution was not polyandry but matriarchy,—the rule of succession by which rank and property are transmitted in the female line; a king, for example, being succeeded not by his own son but by the son of one of his sisters.1823 Zimmer, referring to Schrader’s Prehistoric Antiquities of 415 the Aryan Peoples,1824 remarks that among all Aryan-speaking peoples and among the primitive Aryans the custom by which a father is succeeded by his own son (das Vaterrecht) was the foundation of social ordinance.1825 Professor Rhys,1826 indeed, thinks that this generalization cannot be proved, and refers to a well-known passage in the 20th chapter of the Germania of Tacitus,—‘Sisters’ sons are held in as much esteem by their uncles as by their fathers: indeed, some regard the relation as even more sacred and binding’,1827 &c. (Sororum filiis idem apud avunculum qui apud patrem honor: quidam sanctiorem artioremque hunc nexum sanguinis arbitrantur); but he suggests that the tribe of which Tacitus speaks may have been mixed with some ‘aboriginal race practising the same institution as the aborigines of the British Isles’. And I suggest that the Picts were Celts mixed with aborigines who practised this same institution, and consequently that if it prevailed among the Picts, its prevalence does not prove that they were in any special sense representatives of the aborigines, or that they spoke a non-Aryan language.1828

Having corrected Caesar’s narrative to his own satisfaction, Professor Rhys sets himself to prove that matriarchy was a Pictish institution. He observes1829 that ‘a Pictish king [during the later period of the Roman occupation and afterwards] could not be succeeded by a son of his own, but usually by a sister’s son. The succession,’ he continues, ‘was through the mother, and it points back to a state of society which, previous to the conversion of the Picts to Christianity, was probably based on matriarchy as distinguished from marriage and marital custom.’ To show that matriarchy had formerly prevailed in Britain outside the territory within which the Picts of history were confined, he adds1830 that ‘the ancient literature of Ireland abounds in allusions to heroes who are usually described with the aid of the mother’s name’, and that ‘this kind of nomenclature implies the Pictish succession as its origin’. Again, he quotes an inscription found at Colchester, which ends with the words


(‘This gift has been dedicated at his own expense by Lossio Veda, 416 the son of the sister [?] of Vepogen, a Caledonian’), and remarks that when Lossio calls himself a Caledonian, that ‘is for our purpose much the same as if he had called himself a Pict’, and that, moreover, both Veda and Vepogeni ‘may be said to occur in the list of Pictish kings’, where the latter is ‘written Vipoig’. Vepogeni, indeed, is a Celtic word, borrowed, the professor assures us, in accordance with Pictish custom; but ‘the reduction of Vepogen to Vepog, which is what underlies Vipoig, is impossible on Celtic ground ... while Pictish offers a simple and natural explanation’.1831

Professor Morris Jones remarks, in support of Professor Rhys’s argument, that ‘the Pictish succession’ has ‘come down to our own times among the Berbers’1832 (or rather Kabyles), who, he says, have been shown, on craniological grounds, to be akin to our neolithic race.

Apparently Professor Rhys does not regard the custom of reckoning descent ‘by birth alone’ as confined in these islands to the Picts, or to the pre-Aryan aborigines: if, as he is inclined, like Professor Zimmer, to believe, it was non-Aryan, ‘it must,’ he says, ‘have been accepted by the Goidelic Celts from the aborigines.’1833

Now, in regard to this last observation, the comment suggests itself that what Professor Rhys has not yet proved is that those aborigines were Picts. The Picts, as we shall presently see, were, according to some Celtic scholars, themselves Goidelic Celts (mixed of course with aborigines whom they had subdued and Celticized); according to others, their speech was akin to Brythonic.1834 And if, as Professor Rhys insists, matriarchy may have been accepted by the Celts from the aborigines, it is perhaps not incredible that, as Mr. Sidney Hartland suggests, the Celts themselves, in prehistoric times, may have passed through the matriarchal stage,1835 and that the survival of matriarchy among the Picts is not necessarily attributable to pre-Aryan ancestry.1836 But, be that as it may, the survival 417 of matriarchy among the Picts proves nothing more than that among the Picts, as among every other British people, the substratum of the population was pre-Aryan: it does not prove that the dominant element among them was pre-Aryan, or that they spoke a non-Aryan language.

As for Professor Morris Jones’s argument, it may perhaps raise a probability that the ‘Pictish succession’ prevailed among the neolithic race, although, if the argument is worth anything, the professor ought to be able to show that the same institution belonged to the ‘Iberians’ of Spain, of Gaul, and of other countries who have also been shown ‘on craniological grounds’ to be akin to the Kabyles: but at all events it lends no support to the theory that the Picts were, in any special sense, descendants of the neolithic aborigines; for, assuming that they were Celts, they might have accepted the Pictish succession from them. There remains Professor Rhys’s statement that ‘the reduction of Vepogen to Vepog, which is what underlies Vipoig, is impossible on Celtic ground’. Is the professor quite sure? A few years ago he would certainly have said that the retention of ‘Indo-European p’ was ‘impossible on Celtic ground’; but in 1900 he announced that the ‘Celtican language’ which was spoken in the country of the Sequani ‘preserves intact the Aryan consonant p’.1837 He has himself assured us that both the Celtic dialects spoken in the British Isles were greatly modified by a pre-Aryan language.1838 Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the Pictish language was Celtic, is he prepared to deny that it could have been so far modified by a non-Aryan tongue that ‘the reduction of Vepogen to Vepog’ would still have been ‘impossible on Celtic ground’?1839 Finally, when he tells us that Lossio’s description of himself as a Caledonian ‘is for our purpose much the same as if he had called himself a Pict’, we cannot help recalling his own statement1840 that ‘the Caledonians were, as we understand their history, Goidels’; though, to be sure, in the latest edition of Celtic Britain1841 he expunges this compromising sentence, and substitutes for it ‘the Caledonians were Picts’.

For my part I accept the professor’s emendation unreservedly. Picts the Caledonians certainly were; for does not the author of the panegyric addressed to Constantine speak of ‘the Caledonians and other Picts’?1842 But for me the Picts were a mixed people, comprising descendants of the neolithic aborigines, of the Round Barrow race, and of the Celtic invaders,—a mixed people who 418 spoke a Celtic dialect. And what puzzles me is that the professor should not have been struck by the anthropological facts that are fatal to the theory that the Caledonians were Picts in the sense which he attaches to the word,—that is, pure survivors of the neolithic aborigines, who spoke a non-Aryan language. For the neolithic aborigines, as we have seen, were, speaking generally, small dark men of the ‘Iberian’ type: the Caledonians were big fair or red-haired men. Doubtless there were, as I have said, ‘Iberian’ survivors among them; but who will deny that the powerful race whom Tacitus describes were predominant, or that their Aryan tongue had prevailed?1843

4. It is usually inferred from statements in Claudian1844 and Herodian1845 that the Picts tattooed themselves; and their testimony is supposed to be strengthened by the etymology of the names by which the Picts were known to the Irish and Welsh respectively,—Cruthni and Prydain. The former is said to be derived from cruth,1846 the Gaelic word for ‘form’ or ‘shape’; and the latter from its Welsh equivalent, pryd.1847 Thus Cruthni and Prydain would mean 419 ‘the people whose bodies were decorated with figures’; and, as we have seen, Zimmer has no doubt that the Roman name for the Picts—Picti, or ‘painted men’—was simply a translation of Prydain or its older equivalent. Professor Rhys, who, in one of his many and diverse utterances on the subject, affirmed that pictos was a Celtican word,1848 drew this conclusion from the fact, pointed out by Mr. Nicholson,1849 that a coin of the Gallic tribe of the Pictones1850 bears on the obverse a tattooed face; and he supposes that the reason why the Celticans applied this word to the Picts was that the latter tattooed themselves. ‘The Picts of Britain and Ireland,’ he remarks, ‘are found also called Pictones’; and ‘ancient Egyptian monuments represent the Libyans of North Africa with their bodies tattooed’.1851

Now what does this community of custom prove about the ethnology of the Picts? The inhabitants of the Tonga and Society Islands and of New Guinea tattoo themselves: so do the Burmese, the Shans, the Maoris, and the people of British East Africa;1852 so do very many Englishmen. All the available evidence tends to show that among the ancient inhabitants of the British Isles tattooing was not confined to the Picts. Herodian does not mention the Picts at all: he merely says that the Britons tattooed themselves. Professor Rhys admits, or rather strenuously maintains, that in the territory inhabited by the Picts in Scotland there were also numerous Celts;1853 and he would hardly deny that they were included among the people whom Herodian describes. He himself remarks that ‘the Scotti (that is to say the Goidels)’1854 practised tattooing.1855 Mr. Nicholson, to whom he appeals, argues from the evidence of 420 coins that tattooing was customary not only among the Pictones, but also among several other tribes of Gaul,—the Ambiani, the Baiocasses, the Caletes, the Coriosopites, the Osismi, the Sequani, and the Unelli. All these peoples were undoubtedly Celtic; that is to say, they were Celtic-speaking tribes among whom the Celtic element, ethnologically speaking, was, I do not say numerically, but politically predominant. Professor Rhys would certainly not argue that they were Picts: yet if he admits, as he does, that they were Celtic, the argument which he bases on the practice of tattooing collapses.

5. Some years ago Professor Rhys attempted to prove that the Pictish language was related to Basque;1856 ‘but,’ he says, ‘whether it is related or not, my attempt to prove that it is has been pronounced, and doubtless justly pronounced, a failure.’1857 At the same time, however, pointing to a famous ogam inscription, he wrote, ‘my challenge still remains, that if Pictish resembled Gaelic or Welsh, or in fact any Aryan language, those who think so should make good their opinion by giving us a translation of such an inscription, for instance, as the following from Lunasting, in Shetland:—Xttocuhetts : ahehhttmnnn : hccvvevv : nehhtonn.’1858

The lay reader will perhaps mentally endorse the comment of another Celtic scholar, Dr. Alexander Macbain, who disposes of the cacophonous puzzle by observing that ‘it is neither Welsh nor any other language’.1859 For the present, at all events, it is safe to say that Dr. Macbain is as likely to be right as Mr. Nicholson, who, having boldly accepted Professor Rhys’s challenge, first judiciously reconstructed the text of the inscription, and then made an heroic attempt to translate his own version. It is Goidelic, so he assures us; and it means

‘Place of O’ Cuhetts his place within: CUAIBH of Nehton’.1860

On the other hand, the translation which Professor Rhys ‘provisionally’ offers of his text runs

‘“Kin—Ahehhtmnnn King Nechtan”.

That is to say, King Nechtan of the kin of Ahehhtmnnn’.1861

Perhaps it shows a slight lack of humour to attempt, even ‘provisionally’, to translate an inscription assumed to be written in a language the very existence of which is doubtful. Still it is conceivable that Professor Rhys’s text means what he says. But, supposing that it resembles neither Gaelic, nor Welsh, nor any Aryan language, what does it prove? Not that the Picts represented 421 the neolithic aborigines, but simply that in the remotest of the British isles there still survived the non-Aryan language which, as every scholar admits, was once spoken in Britain.

But the truth is that the so-called Pictish inscriptions, even in the hands of the philologist, are so intractable that for ethnology they are practically useless. ‘I can hardly do more,’ says Professor Rhys,1862 ‘than pick from previous attempts by others and by myself what seems to me the most probable reading.’ This is only one of numerous instances in his well-known article on the inscriptions which show how impossible it is to construct the text with any approach towards certainty.

Professor Rhys remarks, further,1863 that ‘we have indications in Adamnan’s Life of Columba that [in the sixth century of our era] the language of the aborigines was still a living tongue’. The indications are that when Columba, who spoke Goidelic, visited the province of the Picts, he preached ‘to peasants or plebeians by interpreter’. To those who hold, with Dr. Whitley Stokes and Dr. Macbain, that the Pictish dialect was akin to Brythonic, the fact on which Professor Rhys lays stress presents of course no difficulty. M. d’Arbois de Jubainville, however, while he agrees with Dr. Macbain,1864 makes a reply to Professor Rhys which might be used by those who hold, with Mr. Nicholson, that Pictish was akin to Goidelic. He tells a story of a Breton priest of the diocese of Quimper who assured him that he himself could not understand the Breton dialect of a woman who belonged to the diocese of Vannes.1865

Mr. Nicholson1866 says that ‘we have abundant materials for deciding whether Pictish was or was not (1) Aryan, (2) Keltic, (3) Goidelic, in (a) the place-names recorded by ancient geographers and one or two mediaeval documents, (b) the person-names given by one or two ancient historians and in mediaeval chronicles, (c) the inscriptions’. From these materials Mr. Nicholson undertakes to demonstrate that Pictish was Goidelic, and that ‘it stands to Highland Gaelic in exactly the same relation in which Anglo-Saxon stands to modern English’;1867 while Dr. Whitley Stokes1868 and Dr. Macbain1869 undertake with equal confidence to demonstrate that it was related to Brythonic. According to Bede,1870 the place which marked the western termination of the wall of Severus was called in Pictish Peanfahel. Pean is commonly identified with the Welsh word penn, ‘a head’; and accordingly it has been inferred that Pictish was ‘a Kymric or semi-Kymric dialect’.1871 422 Mr. Nicholson, on the other hand, claims to have shown that Pean is ‘a Goidelic borrowing from the Latin penna or pinna’. Professor Rhys1872 formerly clung to the view that Peanfahel was a Brythonic name, but was not in the least disconcerted thereby; for, he explained, ‘the Picts must have learnt it ... from the Verturian Brythons.’ On the question of etymology he has now become a convert to Mr. Nicholson’s view:1873 but on the question of ethnology he retains his own opinion; for, he explains, ‘The non-Celtic Picts, when we find them coming southwards, seem to have been fast adopting the idioms of their neighbours.’1874 Mr. Nicholson1875 analyses with laborious ingenuity a large number of names in Adamnan’s Life of Columba, of place-names in the Pictish Chronicle, of Pictish historical names, and of words which occur in the ‘Pictish inscriptions’, and insists that they are Goidelic: Dr. Whitley Stokes[1876] and Dr. Macbain[1877] produce words from the same sources, from Ptolemy’s Geography, and from Dion Cassius, and insist that they are Brythonic. Dr. Stokes’s authority is so great that his verdict is worth quoting:—‘The foregoing list of names and other words contains much that is still obscure; but on the whole it shows that Pictish, so far as regards its vocabulary, is an Indo-European and especially Celtic speech. Its phonetics, so far as we can ascertain them, resemble those of Welsh rather than of Irish.’1878

But the arguments for Brythonic, on the one hand, and for Goidelic, 423 on the other, leave Professor Rhys unmoved. Prove as many Pictish words as you please to have been Goidelic, as many as you please to have been Brythonic: he will regard them with serene indifference.1879 For, he tells you,1880 ‘the Pictish language would seem to have been rapidly becoming overloaded with loan-words from Goidelic or Brythonic when we first hear anything about it. So, failing to recognize this borrowing of words by the Picts, some have been led to regard Pictish as a kind of Gaelic, and some as a dialect akin to Welsh. The point to have been decided, however, was not whether Gaelic or Welsh explains certain words said to have been in use among the Picts, but whether there does not remain a residue to which neither Gaelic nor Welsh, nor, indeed, any Aryan tongue whatever can supply any sort of key.’ The professor is still thinking of that outlandish inscription which, according to Mr. Nicholson, is Goidelic, and the professor’s reading of which, according to Dr. Macbain, is no language at all. But, admitting provisionally the existence of ‘a residue’ to which no Aryan language ‘can supply any sort of key’, we should, I must repeat, only have to conclude that in certain remote parts of the extensive territory occupied by the Picts a non-Aryan language survived into the Christian era, just as in a remote part of France a non-Aryan language survives at this day: we should not have to conclude that that language was spoken by the Picts in general. ‘La question,’ says M. d’Arbois de Jubainville, in a notice of Professor Rhys’s article on the Pictish inscriptions,1881la question est de savoir si cette population [the pre-Aryan population] est restée dominante. Les noms de peuples tels que Smertae ... des noms d’hommes tels que celui du Calédonien Argentocoxos ... me semblent décisifs.’ It is absolutely certain, and is insisted upon by Professor Rhys himself, that in Roman times many of the tribes which were included under the general designation of Picts bore Celtic names, and that many of the geographical names in the country which they inhabited were Celtic also. On the other hand, not a single Pictish name, tribal, or geographical, or personal, not a single Pictish word which has been preserved by Ptolemy or by our other authorities, has been proved to be non-Celtic; and if, as Professor Rhys maintains, Pictish was a non-Aryan language overlain by loan-words from the two Celtic dialects, it was so buried beneath them as to be no longer discernible. Argentocoxos,1882 as the professor says, was a Pict, and one of the many Picts whose names were Celtic: if the Picts had spoken a non-Celtic language, however much overloaded with Celtic loan-words, would not their own names have been non-Aryan? As their names were Celtic, it is reasonable to infer that their language was Celtic also. The professor, it is true, points out that ‘in Wales many a man has the English name John Jones, 424 though he cannot speak English’.1883 Yes, but the Welsh are a conquered or, let us say, absorbed people, whereas the professor himself assures us1884 that before the time of Ptolemy ‘the Goidels and the Picto-Brythons [of the North] had come under the power of the more purely non-Celtic tribes beyond them’.1885 But this is of course a pure assertion. The professor fails to prove that any Celtic people in Britain came under the power of non-Celtic tribes. Many centuries before the time of Pytheas the neolithic population had for the most part been reduced to subjection; and, although remote clans may possibly have retained their individuality, in many parts of the island the descendants of the aborigines had become intermingled, first with the ‘Round Barrow’ invaders, the earlier of whom at all events, as I shall presently show,1886 were not Celts, and secondly with the Celts themselves. Professor Rhys1887 himself admits that the name of the Picts ‘was never, perhaps, distinctive of race, as Brythons and Goidels seem to have been sometimes included under it’; and, although he goes on to say that ‘the term probably applied most strictly at all times’ to ‘the non-Celtic natives’, it is not likely that the name of non-Celtic natives should have prevailed over that of the Celts.

For all these reasons it appears to me infinitely more probable that in Pictland as, according to Professor Rhys himself, in the rest of Britain,1888 the non-Aryan language should have been absorbed by Celtic than that Celtic should have been absorbed by the non-Aryan language.

There is probably this grain of truth in Professor Rhys’s theory, that the non-Celtic natives continued to exist in greater purity in the country which was occupied by a group of tribes who, during the latter part of the Roman occupation and afterwards, were called Picts, than in any other part of Britain. But I doubt whether this eminent scholar could have spent his time less profitably than in striving to demonstrate, first, that the language of the Picts was related to Basque, and, when he was forced to abandon this attempt, in clinging to the theory that it was a non-Aryan tongue.


There is, as we have already seen,1889 sufficient evidence that round-headed immigrants had begun to appear in Britain towards the end of the Neolithic Age; but the majority of the prehistoric skulls of this kind undoubtedly belong to the Age of Bronze. Men of the 425 same type were living in England at the time of the Saxon invasion;[1890] and their descendants may be recognized here and there at the present day.1891 The prehistoric skeletons have been found not only in the round barrows of Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, Denbighshire, Man, and Orkney, and in secondary interments in long barrows, but also in Welsh caverns and graves and in the short cists of Scotland.1892 The range of this people in Britain was, however, it need hardly be said, far wider than that which the discovery of a few skeletons has indicated.

The round-headed invaders are commonly described as physically finer men than the neolithic population whom in most parts of Britain they subdued;1893 but the truth is that, both in respect of stature and of cranial form, they belonged to two utterly different groups, though, as might be expected, some exhibit characteristics of both.1894 The average height of 17 brachycephalic men whose skeletons had been found in round barrows before 1865 would have been, according to Dr. Beddoe’s estimate, 5 feet 9 inches, or almost 1 metre 753; while the average height of 27 men of various cephalic indices, including the 17 just mentioned, whose skeletons (described in Crania Britannica) have been found in round barrows, would, according to the same authority, have reached 5 feet 9⅖ inches,1895 or approximately 1 metre 763. Measurements of 426 skeletons which have been discovered since the publication of Crania Britannica have yielded results virtually the same.[1896] On the other hand two groups of skeletons have recently been described which belonged to a much shorter race. Four, taken from round barrows in Glamorganshire, showed, according to Dr. Beddoe’s method, an average height of about 5 feet 5¾ inches;1897 while 7 male skeletons, found in short cists in and near Aberdeenshire, ranged, according to Mr. Alexander Low, between 5 feet and 5 feet 7 inches, the average being only 5 feet 3 inches.1898 The skulls of these skeletons will be presently described.

The cephalic indices of 103 male skulls, found before the year 1894 in round barrows or in other interments of the Bronze Age,[1899] ranged from 70 to 88, 55 of them exceeding 80; while those of 19 skeletons from round barrows in which no bronze was found ranged from 68 to 88, six of them exceeding 80.1900 In both series a large proportion of the skulls whose indices fell short of 80 belonged, wholly or in part, to the Long Barrow race. Other skulls, however, which have since been described and of the characteristics of which Dr. Beddoe, the compiler of this list, may have been ignorant, yielded indices higher still.1901

But it is not enough to describe the invaders of the Bronze Age as brachycephalic: they shared that characteristic with peoples who were otherwise markedly different from them. Let us first consider those which belong to the so-called characteristic type, which, until a recent date, received more than its share of attention,—that which is seen only in the taller skeletons. Their foreheads, says Rolleston, were ‘sometimes ... especially in cases where the whole skull and skeleton are marked by great strength and even ruggedness, markedly sloping’.1902 Their supraciliary ridges 427 were often extraordinarily prominent. ‘The eyebrows,’ says the same authority, ‘must have given a beetling and probably even formidable appearance to the upper part of the face, whilst the boldly outstanding and heavy cheek bones must have produced an impression of raw and rough strength.... Overhung at its root, the nose must have projected boldly forward.’[1903] These men were, in some instances, extremely prognathous:1904 their teeth were often extraordinarily large;[1905] and, to quote Thurnam, ‘the prominence of the large incisor and canine teeth is so great as to give an almost bestial expression to the skull.’[1906] The reader who scans the illustrations in Crania Britannica and in Canon Greenwell’s British Barrows will, however, see that the brachycephalic skulls even of the taller skeletons are not all of the same type. Moreover, some few of the Round Barrow skulls combine the contour of the characteristic brachycephalic skull of the British Bronze Age with dolichocephaly;1907 and this is one of the facts which tend to prove that in certain parts of England the brachycephalic invaders intermarried with the people whom they found in possession. In the East Riding of Yorkshire, indeed, it would seem that the old race and the new were as completely intermingled as the modern population. Dr. William Wright tells us that in a collection of 80 skulls, taken from round barrows and preserved in the Mortimer Museum at Driffield, ‘almost all the varieties of cranial shape met with in Europe are represented.’ Their cephalic indices ranged from 69 to 92; and, says Dr. Wright, ‘it is doubtful if it is possible to find a materially more mixed series of skulls in a community of to-day.’1908 Dr. Wright, however, does not believe that the skulls of apparently hybrid form prove intermarriage between the invaders and the old neolithic population, or that the former were purely brachycephalic. ‘To grant this,’ he argues, ‘one must believe that a pure round-headed race could have made its tardy progress across Europe unmixed,—an assumption which to my mind is incredible.’1909 Has the doctor forgotten that ten male skulls, found in short cists in and near Aberdeenshire and evidently assignable to the end of the Neolithic or the beginning of the Bronze Age,1910 were all brachycephalic, 428 and that nine of them belonged to the same pure type.1911 Has he forgotten that the round barrow skulls of Wiltshire were mainly brachycephalic? Has he ever walked over the mountains of Auvergne? Very likely the round-headed race which he has in mind did not make its way across Europe unmixed; but the mixture did not greatly diminish the roundness. Very likely when it reached Britain it included a few long-heads; but the contrast between the uniformity in Wiltshire and the diversity in East Yorkshire suffices to disprove the doctor’s theory.

Some of Dr. Wright’s brachycephalic specimens belonged to a type which is quite different from the ‘characteristic’ Round Barrow type, and is also common to almost all the short Welsh and Scottish skeletons mentioned above.1912 These skulls are generally broader than those of the other kind. The ten found in Aberdeenshire and its neighbourhood ranged between 80.8 and 92.3, their average index being 85.39;1913 while those of Glamorganshire ranged between 81.7 and 86, and yielded an average of 84.2.1914 Not one of these skulls is prognathous:1915 all are high as well as round and broad: the supraciliary ridges are only slightly developed: the cheek bones are not prominent: the face is both broad and short; and the lower jaw is small.1916

Who were the brachycephalic people of the round barrows and the short cists, and whence did they come? Those who have attempted to solve these problems have generally had in mind only the tall round-heads, whether their skulls belonged to the characteristic type or showed signs of crossing with the other. Wherever the short people came from, their ethnical affinities are certain: they belonged to the so-called Alpine type of Central Europe, of which the French Grenelle race were a branch. Let us for the present confine our attention to the others. To the questions which I have asked at least six different answers have been given:—that they were Goidelic Celts; that they were Belgae; that they were Finns; that they came from Denmark or the Scandinavian peninsula; that their original home was Dalmatia; and, lastly, that they may be traced back to the valley of the Rhine.1917 But the view which has been repeated by almost every recent writer is that they were Goidels.1918 429

1-2. The Goidelic theory and the Belgic (which I ought perhaps to apologize for noticing) may be considered together; for if any argument tells in favour of the latter, it tells as much or more in favour of the former.

Thurnam, who does not trouble himself about the distinction between Goidelic and Brythonic Celts, points out that ‘extremely brachycephalic skulls have been exhumed from many of the French chambered tumuli’;1919 that seven skulls with cephalic indices of 80 and upwards from a dolmen near Senlis, which is in the territory that was occupied by the Belgae, ‘have much resemblance to those from the round barrows’;1920 and that three skulls with indices of 80, 80, and 85 respectively from a sepulchral grotto in the Belgic department of the Oise are ‘very similar in general character to the short skulls from the round barrows’.1921 He argues that of the cranial types represented by the peoples of the long barrows and the round barrows respectively ‘one at least must be Celtic’:1922 he points out that in the cremation interments which have been discovered in round barrows ‘the appearances are consistent with what we are told of the funerals of the Gauls ... by Caesar and Pomponius Mela’;1923 and his general conclusion is that the Round Barrow people were ‘an offshoot through the Belgic Gauls from the great brachycephalic stock of Central and North-Eastern Europe’.1924 Finally, Professor Rhys maintained in 18901925 (it would be rash to assume that his opinion is unchanged) that the Round Barrow race belonged to the Brythonic group, who, he asserted, being comparatively broad-headed, were less pure than the Goidels.

According to Professor Boyd Dawkins, the Round Barrow race must have been Goidels, and not Wends, Finns, or Slaves, because the latter would not have subsequently retreated eastward ‘against the current of the Celtic, Belgian, and German invasions’;1926 while the late Canon Isaac Taylor1927 affirmed that the skulls of the well-known ‘Sion type’, which by some anthropologists are believed to have belonged to the Celtic Helvetii, resembled those of the round barrows.

Now the view that the tall brachycephalic people of the round barrows were the Belgae is so utterly absurd that it is difficult to conceive how writers who posed as authorities on ethnology could ever have entertained it.1928 If some benighted classical scholar had 430 ascribed the Copernican system to Ptolemy, one may imagine how he would have been derided by scientists; yet such a blunder would not have been different in degree from that which Thurnam committed and Huxley approved. For the Belgic invasion began, at the earliest, in the third, and, as Professor Rhys himself maintains,1929 in the second century before the Christian era; and the first invaders of the Round Barrow race landed in Britain, at the latest, about 1400 B.C.,1930 and probably several centuries earlier. The argument which Thurnam bases upon the alleged similarity between Round Barrow skulls and some which have been exhumed from French dolmens has no weight. To begin with, the theory that any Celtic-speaking people invaded Gaul in the Neolithic Age is contrary to historical and archaeological evidence;1931 and, assuming that they did, the resemblance between the skulls to which Thurnam refers and most of those of the tall Round Barrow skeletons is purely superficial. Any one may convince himself of this who will take the trouble to compare the illustrations of Round Barrow skulls in Crania Britannica with those in Crania Ethnica; and Thurnam himself in more than one passage1932 admits, indeed emphasizes, the distinction. Even Broca1933 denied that there was any physical affinity between the tall brachycephali of the round barrows and the [so-called] ‘real Celts of Gaul’; and, as we shall see presently, by the latter he simply meant the brachycephalic people, descended from neolithic ancestors, that formed the substratum of the population whom Caesar called Celtae. Similarly Dr. Beddoe truly says that the [characteristic] Round Barrow skulls resemble those of Borreby in the Danish island of Falster, rather than those of Broca’s Celtae.1934 It is true indeed, as we have seen, that some of the Round Barrow skulls resemble some of the neolithic French 431 skulls; but, speaking generally, the former are far more rugged and in every way more strongly marked than the latter.1935

More striking, however, than the contrast between the skulls of the characteristic Round Barrow skeletons and those of the French brachycephalic neolithic race is the discrepancy in stature. The average height of the former was, as we have seen, on the lowest computation, 5 feet 8⅖ inches; that of the latter was very little over 5 feet.1936 Moreover, while the brachycephalic Finns and Danes and the few modern brachycephalic inhabitants of England are generally tall or moderately tall and fair, those of France and Central Europe are generally not only short but dark.1937

The argument that since the Long Barrow skulls were pre-Aryan, those of the round barrows must have been Celtic, begs the question. As we shall see presently, there are other skulls in museums, which belong to neither type, and which undoubtedly are Celtic. What reason is there to deny that the earlier brachycephalic invaders who were buried in round barrows may, as Mr. C. H. Read1938 reasonably suggests, have been pre-Aryan? The British Celts of the later Bronze Age were doubtless cremated; and therefore their skulls are not forthcoming. And if the resemblance between the cremation interments of the round barrows and those described by Caesar proved that the former were all Celtic, it would also prove that they were Greek!1939

In answer to Professor Boyd Dawkins it may be said that if the tall Round Barrow race were not Finns or Slaves, it does not follow that they were Goidels. And supposing that they were Finns or Slaves, why should it be necessary to assume that they ‘subsequently retreated eastward against the current of the Celtic, Belgian, 432 and German invasions’? Or that they retreated eastward at all? The ‘Iberian’ immigrants certainly did not retreat ‘against the current’ of the Round Barrow invaders: they retreated, if at all, to the remoter parts of Britain. The argument that the Round Barrow skulls resemble those of the Sion type is disposed of by merely comparing the measurements and the illustrations of the two series. The Sion type, as Rolleston1940 says, ‘corresponds to many of our long-barrow skulls,’ and is not brachycephalic but dolichocephalic or mesaticephalic:1941 there is no proof that it was that of the Helvetii;1942 and, as I have pointed out elsewhere,1943 there is strong reason to believe that the Helvetii did not appear in Switzerland before the Iron Age.

So much for the arguments which have been adduced in favour of the popular theory. There are facts which absolutely disprove it. First, there is no evidence that the brachycephalic people who built round barrows ever reached Ireland, at least in appreciable numbers; for not a single skull of the characteristic Round Barrow type has ever been found there, and only four brachycephalic skulls which can be referred to prehistoric times.1944 Yet it is needless to say that since a time long anterior to the Roman invasion of Britain Ireland has been one of the principal abodes of the Goidelic stock. Secondly, it is, as we have seen, in the highest degree probable, if not certain, that the Round Barrow race first invaded Britain in the Neolithic Age. Let us, however, for the sake of argument, accept Professor Boyd Dawkins’s assumption that their advent synchronized with the beginning of the British Bronze Age. Now, according to Professor Montelius, the Bronze Age in this country began about 2000 B.C.; according to Sir John Evans,1945 six centuries later. It is impossible to fix with certainty the date of the earliest Celtic invasion of Britain; but such historical evidence as we possess points to the conclusion that it was not earlier than the seventh 433 century before the Christian era.1946 M. Salomon Reinach has argued that a Celtic-speaking people appeared in North-Western Gaul in the ninth century,—the earliest date which has ever been proposed by any scholar; but his view is based on the mere conjecture that κασσίτερος,, the Greek word for tin, which occurs in Homer, is of Celtic derivation.1947 M. d’Arbois de Jubainville, indeed, who adopts this conjecture,1948 supposes that the Celts actually landed in Britain as early as the ninth century before Christ; but even if we accept his chronology, we are confronted with the fact that the very earliest date that has been assigned on historical or linguistic grounds for the first Celtic invasion1949 is four or five centuries later than the latest, ten or eleven centuries later than the earliest date which has been assigned by archaeologists for the commencement of the Bronze Age in Britain. Yet anthropologists and antiquaries will go on repeating the dogma that the builders of the round barrows, who, at the latest, began to arrive in Britain at the commencement of the Bronze Age, were Goidelic Celts. The moral is that anthropologists and antiquaries would not be worse equipped if they enlarged the sphere of their studies.

Again, the view that a Celtic-speaking people invaded Britain at the close of the Neolithic or the beginning of the Bronze Age implies that Celtic and Latin, the nearest of kin in the Aryan family of languages, had become differentiated long before the Neolithic Age came to its end. Would any philologist who knew the rudiments of archaeology sanction a theory so preposterous?1950

The foregoing arguments apply equally to the short men whose remains have been found in the greatest purity in North-Eastern Scotland. The race to which they belonged began to arrive in Gaul very early in the Neolithic Age:1951 they themselves landed in Britain before its close. Whoever they may have been, they were neither Goidels nor Belgae nor Brythons of any tribe.

Finally, although I am aware that I am about to tread upon thorny ground, I affirm that there is not the slightest reason to doubt that the Celtic invaders of Britain, in so far as they were descended from the Celtic-speaking people who conquered Gaul, were not a brachycephalic but a dolichocephalic or mesaticephalic people. I have already argued in favour of this thesis in a dissertation 434 on ‘the Ethnology of Gaul’,1952 and I will now adduce fresh evidence in its favour. But first let me make my meaning perfectly clear. I do not mean that the Celtic invaders of Britain were all of the same type. On the contrary, I assume that the dominant race had intermixed and intermarried, before they embarked from the Continent, with descendants of the neolithic stocks. I do not mean that even the invaders who introduced the Celtic language into Gaul, even those who beat the Romans on the Allia, were homogeneous. Dr. Beddoe, as I have remarked elsewhere,1953 warns us not to believe that there was ever a period when, for example, all the Caledonians were red-haired. I only mean that among the Celtic-speaking conquerors of Britain dolichocephaly, as well as tallness and fairness, was a prevailing characteristic.

Thurnam1954 asserted that ‘we may ask in vain for a series of ancient dolichocephalic skulls which, on satisfactory archaeological grounds, can be assigned to the immediately pre-Roman, and therefore to the Celtic period, either in England or in France’. Let us consider England first. Now it happens that the skulls of the ‘Late Celtic’ period, or Early Iron Age, which have been found in this country are almost all either dolichocephalic or mesaticephalic.1955 Canon Greenwell,1956 it is true, explains this fact by the assumption that ‘the intruding round-headed people ... were gradually absorbed by the earlier and more numerous [Long Barrow] race’. ‘In this way,’ he says, ‘it appears to me that we may account for the skull type of the Early Iron Age without the necessity of requiring any immigration into Britain or its conquest after the time of the presumed occupation by the bronze-using round-headed people,’ &c. But that necessity is imperative. Had Canon Greenwell momentarily forgotten his Caesar? The immigration of the Belgae took place, at the earliest, in the third century B.C., many centuries after the ‘occupation by the bronze-using round-headed people’. It is true that some of the British skulls which belong to the Late Celtic period are of the same type as those of the Long Barrow race:1957 but this only proves that the Long Barrow race survived; and others are of a type which, as Rolleston says, is ‘entirely wanting ... in the series from the long barrows’.1958 435 Unfortunately, however, the Late Celtic skulls which have been found in Britain are comparatively few;1959 and hardly any of them can be assigned with certainty to the Brythonic invaders. 436

In France, on the other hand, the skulls of the corresponding period are very numerous; but few of them have been measured. Those few, however, confirm my argument. They belonged with very few exceptions to tall mesaticephalic or dolichocephalic men; and two of them may be seen in Salles IX and X of the Musée de St. Germain, near Paris, the former having been buried with his war-chariot, iron helmet, and long iron sword. The mean index of twenty-seven adult male skulls of this type, found in tumuli of the Early Iron Age in the department of the Marne, was 78.49; but Broca, who has described them, maintains that the index of skulls of the purest ‘Kymric’ (or, to use the term which is now in vogue, ‘Galatic’) type would be considerably lower; for, he argues, as the Gauls of the Marne lived very near the frontier of the Celtae, they must have intermarried with the brachycephalic people who formed the great majority of that group of tribes.1960

Again, in a recent article on tumuli of the Early Iron Age in the department of the Côte-d’Or, Dr. Hamy points to the noteworthy fact that two brachycephalic skulls, belonging to descendants of an earlier race, were found ‘among the dolichocephali who predominated in that population’;1961 and in a paper which he has just published on the earliest Gallic invaders of the Iron Age he shows that the cephalic indices of the available skulls from the Châtillonnais and the arrondissement of Beaune range between 73.1 and 76.59, while the average stature was 1 metre 75.7, or just over 5 feet 9⅛ inches.1962

The prevalent view in this country is, I am aware, that the Celts were a brachycephalic people; but it is begotten of sheer confusion of thought. Professor Ripley1963 remarks that ‘there is practically 437 to-day a complete unanimity of opinion among physical anthropologists, that the term Celt, if used at all, belongs to the brachycephalic darkish population of the Alpine highlands’; and he adds that the only dissentient is M. G. de Lapouge.1964 But Dr. Beddoe,1965 whom he counts among the professors of the orthodox faith, has emphatically recorded his opinion that, at the time of the Roman conquest, the Celtic-speaking people of Southern Britain ‘partook more of the tall blond stock of Northern Europe than of the thick-set, broad-headed dark stock which Broca has called Celtic’; and the ‘unanimity’ (which is far from being ‘complete’) upon which Professor Ripley pins his faith is due partly to misunderstanding or misinterpretation of Broca’s famous essay, Qu’est-ce que les Celtes, partly to the desire of establishing a uniform connotation, and partly to the fact that some physical anthropologists have neglected to supplement their scientific researches by the study of classical texts. Broca found the term ‘Celt’ used in a multiplicity of senses, and he attempted to put an end to confusion by attaching to it one limited, conventional, and, as we shall see, misleading signification. When, in the essay to which I have just referred, he endeavoured to prove that the Celts were a dark brachycephalic people, he expressly limited the term ‘Celts’ to the population of that part of Gaul which, according to Caesar,1966 was inhabited by ‘a people who call themselves Celts and whom we [the Romans] call Gauls’. ‘There is no proof,’ he insists, ‘that the existence in the British Isles of a people bearing the name of Celts has ever been authoritatively affirmed’:1967 according to him, the invaders of Britain who spoke the so-called Celtic languages were the Belgae,1968 for he knew nothing about Goidels or pre-Belgic Brythons; and, although he allowed himself to be persuaded that the tall Round Barrow race spoke Celtic, he denied ‘that there is any other affinity except that of language between the brachycephali of the round barrows and the real Celts of Gaul’.1969 When he insisted that ‘the Celts’ were a dark brachycephalic people, he did not mean that darkness and brachycephaly were characteristic of the conquerors who 438 introduced the Celtic language into Gaul: he meant that they were characteristic of the great mass of the mixed population whom Caesar called Celtae,1970 who were in the main descended from neolithic invaders, and whose uppermost stratum, so to speak, consisted of invaders whom Broca, speaking as a physical anthropologist rather than a philologist, called ‘Kimris’.1971 That the name Celtae did not belong to the people of Gaul until it was introduced by these Celtic-speaking ‘Kimris’ is evident from the fact that it belongs to the Celtic tongue:1972 in other words, the Celts, anthropologically speaking, were originally identical with the invaders who introduced the Celtic language first 439 into Germany and then into Gaul.1973 These invaders were tall and mesaticephalic or dolichocephalic; and the Celtic-speaking conquerors of Britain belonged to the same stock.

‘The radical errors in Broca’s definition of the “Celts of history” [so I wrote some years ago1974] are these:—first, he calmly assumes that no classical writer’s testimony, except Caesar’s, is of any value; and secondly, he fails to see that Caesar, by saying that the people who called themselves “Celts” were called by the Romans “Gauls”, makes it as clear as noon-day that for him and for his countrymen, as for Polybius and Pausanias, the words “Celt” and “Gaul” were synonymous. Broca admits that the older population of Gallia Celtica was conquered by men of the same race as the Gauls or Celts who captured Rome. Therefore it is absolutely certain that the Celtae of Transalpine Gaul were called after their conquerors. The truth is that Broca, while he aimed at putting an end to confusion, only made confusion worse confounded. Moreover, throughout his discussion, he simply ignores the Helvetii, who, according to Caesar, were included among the Celtae.’

Since the foregoing paragraph was written, I have lighted upon a passage1975 in which Broca himself justifies my argument and uses the word ‘Celt’ in the sense which I attach to it. The Celtae of Gaul, he remarks, ‘were already mixed before the arrival of the Kimris [or Gallo-Brythonic invaders], since the name [Celtae] under which they appeared for the first time in history had been imposed upon them by the conquering race of the Celts properly so called, which, like the Kimris and the Germans, came from the east, and, like them, was dolichocephalic.’1976

Professor Ripley appeals to the German ethnologist, Johannes Ranke,1977 whose arguments, he insists, are ‘decisive’. But any one who will take the trouble to read the chapter which Ranke devotes 440 to the Celts will see that his argument does not support Professor Ripley’s contention. Virchow, he reminds us, has pointed out that wherever the Celts are known to have penetrated dark peoples are now to be found. But, as he fully admits, Virchow himself said, ‘I am not on that account inclined to assume that the original Celts were ... dark,’ and reminded his readers that the ancient writers described the Celts as fair. Ranke points out, further, that wherever the Celts originally dwelled in Central Europe we now find the people not only dark but also brachycephalic; but at the same time he warns us to bear in mind that in certain Celtic districts of Britain dolichocephaly is unmistakable, and that there is evidence that on the Continent the Celtic invaders found a dark brachycephalic people in possession. In other words, Ranke does not commit himself to any theory as to the physical characters of the Celts properly so called,—the invaders who introduced the Celtic dialects into Germany, Gaul, Britain, and other countries which they subdued. The reader will also bear in mind that the writers who identify the tall brachycephalic Round Barrow race with the Goidelic Celts unanimously maintain that they were fair.

That the Celtic-speaking invaders of Gaul and Britain were commonly dolichocephalic or mesaticephalic is not only attested by the skulls of warriors of the Iron Age, but is either attested or at least not disproved by the results of modern observations of existing Celtic-speaking peoples1978 and of the country which was formerly inhabited by the Gallic Belgae.1979 When Sergi1980 tells us that the Gauls who captured Rome were ‘composed of brunet Celts and blond Teutons’, he makes an assertion which, as it is absolutely unsupported by any evidence, calls for no refutation; and it would be useless to ask him who were the ‘blond Teutons’ who were the ancestors of the red-haired Gauls of the Perthshire Highlands.1981 As Dr. Beddoe1982 puts it, the Gauls of Scotland are probably descended from ‘Iberians’ crossed with ‘a long-faced, harsh-featured, red-haired race, who contributed the language and much of the character’.1983

3. The late Mr. Charles Elton,1984 referring to Professor A. H. 441 Sayce’s Science of Language,1985 affirmed that ‘a Finnish idiom has been traced in several of the British languages’, and inferred that the tall builders of the round barrows were Finns. The idiom in question may, for aught that I know, have been traced by some philologist who had determined to find it, but not by Professor Sayce nor by any one to whom Professor Sayce refers. Mr. Elton’s argument is as obsolete as that which Professor Rhys founded upon his imaginary tracing of Basque in the language of the Picts.

4. Much may be said for the theory of the late Professor Rolleston, that the tall people of the round barrows came from Denmark or some of the adjoining islands, if it be duly modified. On the coast near Flamborough Head are remains of earthworks, which, as has been demonstrated by General Pitt-Rivers, who excavated them, were erected by invaders fighting their way inland; and, as he remarks, ‘it is unlikely that any but Northmen should have landed in this spot.’1986 Thurnam himself admits that there is ‘a great resemblance’ between the characteristic Round Barrow skulls and those from ‘the Giants’ Chamber at Borreby [in the island of Falster], and from other Scandinavian megalithic tombs’;1987 and his testimony is confirmed by Rolleston1988 and Dr. Beddoe.1989

Dr. A. H. Keane1990 argues, in opposition to Rolleston’s view, that if any of the Round Barrow invaders had come from Scandinavia, ‘they must have spoken some Low German dialect, of which there are no clear traces in the tribal and place-names of the Bronze Age.’ The answer is, first, that, as Mr. C. H. Read1991 suggests, they may have spoken not a Low German but a pre-Aryan dialect; and, secondly, 442 that we know absolutely nothing about either the tribal or the place-names of Britain in the Bronze Age. Assuming that Low German tribal or place-names existed in Britain before the Celtic invasion, they would for the most part have been superseded by Celtic names, just as the Celtic invaders of Gaul generally substituted their own tribal and place-names for those of their predecessors, and just as in certain parts of Scotland Celtic names of rivers gave place to Norse names.1992

5. Messrs. J. Gray and J. F. Tocher infer from their observations of the physical characteristics of the population of West Aberdeenshire that ‘a tall, broad-headed, dark-haired, light-eyed people’, whom they regard as ‘the descendants of the men of the Bronze Age’, formerly inhabited Aberdeenshire, but were driven inland by later blond immigrants, who were shorter and had narrower heads, and whom they identify with North Germans.1993 The resemblance of the tall dark people to modern Dalmatians1994 is, they say, ‘significant when taken in conjunction with the fact that bronze first came into the British Isles from South-East Europe.’

‘The fact!’ But is it the fact? Archaeology has certainly shown that Britain, in the Bronze Age, was commercially connected with Northern France, which, as Mr. C. H. Read1995 says, was ‘supplied to a certain extent from Italy’. But no archaeologist supposes that bronze was carried all the way from Italy, still less from Dalmatia, into Britain or even into Northern France by Italians or Dalmatians. It came through the methods of primitive commerce. Moreover, as we have already seen,1996 ‘the men of the Bronze Age,’ by whom Messrs. Gray and Tocher mean the tall brachycephalic people of the round barrows, were still in their Stone Age when they began to invade Britain. A direct immigration from the coasts of the Adriatic into West Aberdeenshire or even Southern Britain is inconceivable; and if it had taken place gradually across the Continent, we should find that the immigrants had left traces of their presence on the way, which is not the case. Notwithstanding the thoroughness with which Messrs. Gray and Tocher conducted their investigation, I fear that it throws no new light upon the ethnology of Ancient Britain. After the successive invasions and immigrations, the internal migrations, and the intermarriages of 3,000 years, it is utterly impossible to establish by dint of even the most elaborate census of a living population the fact that the people of the Bronze Age even in West Aberdeenshire were ‘tall, broad-headed, dark-haired, and light-eyed’; and if they were, why only in West Aberdeenshire?

6. The Honourable John Abercromby maintains that the brachycephalic invaders, or some of them, came at the beginning of the Bronze Age or in the period of transition between the Neolithic Age 443 and the Bronze Age from the neighbourhood of the middle Rhine or from some intermediate district between it and Britain.1997 Remarking1998 that ‘the recorded finds of the last hundred years are sufficient to establish the fact that the beaker [or drinking-cup] is the oldest form of fictilia in the Bronze Age of this country’, he argues that the immigrants who introduced the oldest drinking-cups of the kind which Thurnam designated as ‘type β’ must have belonged to a tribe who at one time lived in the valley of the Rhine, because between British and Rhenish specimens of this type ‘there is a substantial agreement’ both in form and ornament, which ‘seems too great to be the result of pure accident’; and he points out1999 that ‘the type exists not only in the central Rhine, but also near its mouth’, though the intermediate stages cannot be traced. The Rhenish cups belong to the Neolithic Age; and it seems impossible to prove that the earliest British examples were not made before any objects of bronze were manufactured in or introduced into Britain:2000 but Mr. Abercromby has certainly established a very strong probability in favour of the locality to which he refers their origin.2001

The great mistake that has been made in discussing the question is the not uncommon assumption that the brachycephalic immigrants who buried their dead in round barrows arrived in Britain at one time and came from one place. Some of them certainly appeared before the end of the Neolithic Age: others may have introduced bronze implements or ornaments; others doubtless came, in successive hordes, during the course of the Bronze Age. Some of those who belonged to the Grenelle race, who certainly came from Eastern Europe and possibly from Asia,2002 and whose centre of dispersion was the Alpine region,2003 may have started from Gaul;2004 others could have traced their origin to some Rhenish tribe; and I am inclined to believe 444 that those who belonged to the characteristic rugged Round Barrow type crossed over, for the most part, from Denmark or the outlying islands. That the first Celtic-speaking invaders landed in Britain before the end of the Bronze Age I do not deny; and if they came from that part of Gaul which was inhabited by the Celtae, I have no doubt that many of them were brachycephalic. But it is nevertheless certain that among these invaders the dominant element, who were Celtic in blood as well as in speech, and whose physical type was that described by the ancient writers, were not brachycephalic but mesaticephalic or dolichocephalic. And if I am asked where the Celtic skulls of the later British Bronze Age are to be found, I answer, Nowhere: they were reduced to ashes by cremation.2005

It is interesting to find that, according to Huxley, of the skeletons that were found in the famous Heathery Burn Cave, near Durham, which was inhabited in the closing period of the Bronze Age, not one belonged to either of the brachycephalic types, but all to ‘the same race of rather small and lightly-made men with prominent superciliary ridges and projecting nasal bones’2006 which is represented by the river-bed skulls of England and Ireland.2007


1. Little can be added to what has been said in the previous section about the physical characteristics of the Celtic invaders of Britain. Some Celtic scholars, as we shall presently see,2008 deny that any Goidels reached this country before the Roman conquest; but, assuming that some did so, there is no reason to suppose that they differed much physically from the Brythons. If Strabo2009 was right in saying that the Britons generally were less fair-haired than the Gauls, the inference would seem to be that the Celtic invaders of Britain had intermarried more freely than those of Gaul with the descendants of the aborigines; nor would this inference be weakened by the fact that, according to the same authority,2010 they were conspicuously taller than their Gallic kinsmen.2011 I believe, however, that Strabo’s statements were based upon nothing more than his own observation of the few Britons whom he says that he himself saw in Rome, supplemented perhaps by hearsay evidence derived from Roman soldiers or traders who were not trained observers; and that his testimony 445 is worth neither more nor less than that of Lucan, who speaks of ‘the fair-haired Britons’.2012 Dr. Beddoe2013 has concluded, from his observation of the modern inhabitants of ‘those parts of Scotland and the north of England where Kymric blood may well be supposed to remain in large proportion,’ that the Belgae who invaded Britain as well as those of Gaul were on the whole somewhat dark: but his arguments, which I have examined fully elsewhere,2014 do not prove that the dominant Celts among the Belgae were dark, but simply that, before they invaded Britain, they had become largely intermixed with an older dark population, and that, since they reached this country, they and their descendants have intermarried with people darker than themselves.2015

2. Professor Rhys has more than once changed his opinion about the Celtic invaders of Britain since he began to handle the subject. In the second edition of his Lectures on Welsh Philology2016 he argued that they were not ‘two distinct nationalities, speaking two distinct languages’; in other words, he maintained that the Goidelic and Brythonic dialects had been evolved within the British Isles after the Celts had entered them. In the preface to Celtic Britain, however, which was written in January, 1884, he recanted; and his old view is now obsolete. For many years past he has maintained that the earliest invaders were Goidels, or, as he now prefers to call them, Celticans;2017 and that the later comers were Brythons. But whereas until a recent date he held that the only Brythonic invasion was that of the Belgae, and that Pytheas, who visited Britain towards the end of the fourth century B.C., ‘is not likely to have found any Brythons here,’2018 he now holds, or at all events held a few weeks before the time when I am writing, that the first Brythonic invaders ‘appear to have settled here before the middle of the fourth century B. C., for Pytheas ... gives indirect evidence to their presence’.2019 To this view I hope he will firmly adhere. There is, indeed, no direct evidence that any Brythonic immigrants landed in Britain before the Belgae. But indirect evidence there is; and that of two kinds. The first has been already noticed in the section on the Picts. There are good grounds for believing that the authority whom Diodorus 446 Siculus followed in his notices of Britain was Pytheas.2020 Diodorus speaks of the British Isles as Πρετ(τ)ανικαὶ νῆσοι;2021 and the P in Πρετ(τ)ανικαί (if that reading is certain), shows that Pytheas learned the word from lips which spoke a Brythonic, or Gaulish dialect. M. d’Arbois de Jubainville asserts that his informants were Gauls:2022 but that is simply his opinion; it is open to any one to argue that Pytheas probably learned the name of the Britons as well as the facts which he reported about them and their country in Britain, and not in Gaul. Be this, however, as it may, it is, as we shall presently see, certain that during the earlier period of the Roman occupation, the greater part of England and a considerable part of Scotland were inhabited by Brythons; and, as we shall also see, it is extremely improbable that they were all of Belgic origin. The question of the chronological order of the various Celtic invasions is, according to Professor Rhys,2023 answered by the present geographical distribution of the Celtic-speaking peoples of the British Isles: ‘it may be regarded,’ he says, ‘as fairly certain that those who are found driven furthest to the west were the earliest comers.’ The argument might be sound enough (though the word ‘driven’ begs the question) if we were considering the British Isles as a whole, and not merely Britain;2024 and even those who maintain that there were no people of Goidelic descent in Britain in the time of Caesar could hardly answer Professor Rhys unless they assumed that the Goidelic invaders of Ireland came from Spain, or that they dared not risk a contest with the Southern Britons; for otherwise it is hard to believe that they would not have directed their immigration towards Britain, the nearer country.

Professor Rhys, in his Celtic Britain,2025 endeavours to trace the distribution of the Brythonic and Goidelic peoples, as he believes it to have existed at the time of the coming of the Romans; and in so doing he uses materials on which he founds another argument to show that there were Goidels in Britain at that time. These materials are Goidelic inscriptions which have been found in North Wales, in Cornwall, and in Devonshire:2026 but not one of them belongs to an earlier date than the fifth century of our era. With the exception of the districts in which they occur, of the greater part of Somersetshire and Dorsetshire, of South Wales and the adjoining parts of England 447 which lie between the Severn and the Teme, and of Cumberland, part of Westmorland, the Isle of Man, Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Wigtown, Ayrshire, Renfrew, and part of Lanarkshire, the professor regards the whole of Britain south of the Firths of Clyde and Forth as Brythonic; and he prints a list of proper names, most of which are certainly Brythonic, in support of this conclusion.2027 The northern part of the island he divides, for reasons which have been already examined, between Goidels and aboriginal tribes, whom he identifies with the Picts properly so called.2028 It will, however, of course be understood that when he speaks of Goidelic and Brythonic tribes, he means tribes who spoke the Goidelic and Brythonic dialects. The former he regards as mingled largely with the aborigines, and the latter with both Goidels and aborigines. But it is difficult to understand how he has been able to maintain that the Dumnonii of Cornwall and Devonshire were Goidels in the face of the fact that most of the British emigrants who invaded Brittany came from the Cornish peninsula,2029 bringing the name Dumnonii with them, and that he himself formerly insisted that the Dumnonii who inhabited what is now Renfrew and Ayrshire were Brythons.2030 I say ‘formerly’, because this is one of the many opinions which the professor has felt obliged to discard: ‘the southern portion’ of the Scottish Dumnonii have just been transformed by a stroke of the pen into ‘Goidels who adopted Brythonic speech’.2031 However, as M. d’Arbois de Jubainville says, referring to the inscriptions upon which Professor Rhys relies, ‘To conclude from the fact that five Goidels were buried, during the period which elapsed from about 400 to about 700 A.D., in the territory of the Dumnonii, that the entire population of that territory was Goidelic seems extremely rash;’2032 and, he asks,2033 ‘if they were Goidels, how came it that they brought a Brythonic dialect into Brittany?’ Further, he asks why Professor Rhys maintains that the Novantae of Galloway were Goidels when he admits that the Trinovantes of Essex were Brythons;2034 and the only answer which the professor vouchsafes to this question is that the name Novantae 448 was ‘given them probably by Brythons’.2035 What are the grounds of his opinion, he does not say. I may add that while he explains2036 that ‘the consonantal combination of cs or x’ is Gaulish, that is to say, Gallo-Brythonic, he says2037 that it is ‘remarkable’ that ‘most of the early names with x belong to districts which have before been pointed out as non-Brythonic’. When we look for these districts, we find2038 that they were those of the Taexali, the Vacomagi, the Scottish Dumnonii, the Selgovae, and Cumberland. When we ask on what grounds the inhabitants of these districts had been ‘pointed out as non-Brythonic’, we find2039 that the Taexali and the Vacomagi were Pictish, that is to say ‘no doubt’ aboriginal; that the Dumnonii, according to the professor himself,2040 were ‘undoubtedly Brythons’, and remained so until, discovering perhaps that he had inadvertently given his case away, he changed them by his enchanter’s wand into ‘Goidels who adopted Brythonic speech’;2041 and that the Selgovae are asserted to have been, like the Novantae, ‘in a great measure ... most likely a remnant of the aboriginial inhabitants.’2042 Why? Because they were afterwards included under the name Atecotti, which ‘appears to have meant old or ancient’, and was ‘possibly given to them by the Brythons’.2043 Doubtless they were ‘in a great measure’ aboriginal, as were doubtless all the British tribes; but seeing that Uxellon, the name of a town in their country, is Gaulish, the natural conclusion is that their Celtic masters were not Goidels but Brythons.

3. Professor Kuno Meyer holds that ‘no Gael ever set his foot on British soil save on a vessel that had put out from Ireland’;2044 and his words are echoed by Dr. Macbain.2045 Professor Meyer points out that ‘we have the concurrent testimony of Irish and Welsh tradition that from the second century of our era till the sixth a series of partial conquests of Britain took place’.2046 Dr. Beddoe2047 has indeed argued that it is extremely improbable that ‘the Romans would have allowed the Irish Gael to acquire by violence possession of a large portion of one of their provinces’; and Professor Meyer, who admits the difficulty, says that he will not attempt to explain it away. He might have noted that the author of the panegyric which was addressed A.D. 296 to Constantius Chlorus2048 expressly affirms that 449 such invasions did take place. Professor Meyer also points out that the Gaelic inscriptions which have been found in Southern Britain belong almost exclusively to South Wales, the quarter to which the invasions may be assumed to have been directed, very few having come to light in North Wales, Devonshire, and Cornwall.2049 On the other hand, it will be admitted that the record of these invasions is no proof that Goidels had not settled in Britain in pre-Roman times.

4. M. d’Arbois de Jubainville holds, as we have already seen,2050 that Goidels, or rather a people who spoke ‘the Celtic dialect from which Goidelic was evolved’,2051 were masters of the British Isles in the time of Pytheas, and that between his time and that of Caesar Britain was conquered by the Cymric Brittones. So far he is substantially in agreement with the view which, until a recent date, commended itself to Professor Rhys,2052 who, as the reader knows, now believes that there were two successive Brythonic invasions.2053 The more important differences between the two scholars lie partly in their views, which have been already examined, of the Pictish question; partly in the fact that M. d’Arbois is unable to accept the evidence which satisfies Professor Rhys that in Caesar’s time and later Goidelic tribes still remained in Western and Northern Britain. He holds that many of them had been driven by the Belgae into Ireland, and that in Britain they only survived as a vanquished people who had been forced to adopt the language of their Gaulish conquerors.2054 I am inclined to believe, from the analogy of Gaul,2055 that in Caesar’s time Goidelic was still spoken in remoter parts of the island.

5. Mr. Nicholson has recently attempted to prove that all his predecessors are entirely mistaken even on the few points on which they are agreed. According to him, the earliest Celtic invaders of the British Isles were Brythons, whom, however, he prefers to call Kymri; after them came a horde of Goidels; in the third century before Christ the Picts, who were also Goidels, invaded Scotland; and finally came the Belgae, who were Goidels too! The result was that ‘apparently the great majority of the tribes inhabiting Roman Britain were Goidels’,2056 although ‘of the later Kymric recovery and victory in Wales and some other parts there is no manner of doubt’.2057 It will, at all events, be admitted that a victory, however late, gained by a small minority, was no mean achievement. 450

How does Mr. Nicholson set about proving this revolutionary theory? He tells us that ‘on the map of Roman Britain’ he can only see one ‘certainly Kymric geographical name’2058—Pennocrucium (now Penkridge) in Staffordshire. The long lists of Cymric names which have been drawn up by Professor Rhys, Dr. Whitley Stokes, M. d’Arbois de Jubainville, and Dr. Macbain do not move him at all. When he is confronted with geographical, tribal, or personal names belonging to Pictland—names such as Argentocoxos, Epidii, Gartnait, the Ochil Hills, and the prefixes aber and pet—he either ignores them or, as his opponents would say, explains them away.2059 Professor Rhys’s list2060 is disposed of with the same breezy self-confidence. Corstopiton, Epeiacon, (Mons) Graupius, Leucopibia, Maponi, Parisi, Petuaria, Prasutagos, Rutupiae, Toliapis,—these names are either left out of account or explained as Goidelic by the simple method of affirming or ‘suspecting’ that the p in each case is ‘Indo-European’.2061 The reader will form his own opinion if he can; only he will bear in mind that the weight of authority is all on one side. When doctors disagree, the patient must decide for himself which is the quack.

So much for the assertion that the Goidels, who, according to Professor Kuno Meyer and Dr. Macbain, were non-existent in Britain at the time when the Roman conquest began, formed then ‘the great majority’ of the population. What is the evidence for the theory that they came later than the Brythons?

There is no doubt that the Celts who first entered Gaul were Goidels2062 (assuming that Goidelic was then a distinct dialect2063), and that the latest Celtic invaders of Gaul as of Britain were Belgae.2064 If the Belgae had been Goidels, we should then have to admit that Gaul was invaded first by Goidels, then by ‘Cymri’, and finally by Goidels again. Is this likely? And is it not likely that if Goidels were the first Celts who invaded Gaul, they were also the first who invaded Britain?

Mr. Nicholson offers the following arguments in favour of his theory. Remarking that the Menapii were a Belgic tribe, he says2065 that ‘the Isle of Man(n) [which Caesar calls Mona] is called Monapia by Pliny (iv, 103)’; and that the Gaelic dialect which is spoken in the island is evidence that its inhabitants in Pliny’s time were Goidels.

Now I ask, first, is it certain that Pliny’s Monapia, rather than Caesar’s Mona, was the name by which the Isle of Man was known to its own inhabitants? Is it not probable that the name Monapia, which is, at all events presumably, Brythonic, came to Pliny from 451 a Brythonic source?2066 Secondly, assuming that the names Monapia and Menapii are etymologically connected, does it necessarily follow that Monapia was a name peculiar to the Belgae, seeing that the tribal name Ceutrones occurs not only in Belgic Gaul but in the Alps?2067 Thirdly, is Mr. Nicholson prepared to prove that the Isle of Man was not colonized by Goidels after it had received the name Monapia from Brythons? Lastly, since Mr. Nicholson himself affirms2068 that although the name Aremorici is ‘certainly Kymric’, it nevertheless ‘is no proof that the Aremoricans were Kymric’, why does he insist that the fact, if it is a fact, that Monapia was Goidelic proves that the Belgae were Goidels?

Again, he says that the Parisi, who lived near the mouth of the Humber, were Belgae,2069 and he believes that ‘their name preserves Indo-European p’.2070 But Caesar did not include the Gallic Parisii among the Belgae, and did include them among the Celtae.2071 Mr. Nicholson’s belief, that the p in their name is Indo-European, is not shared by any other Celtic scholar.

Thirdly, he argues that the Atrebates, who were certainly Belgae, were Goidels; for, he says,2072 ‘With one exception, no ogam-inscription has ever been found in these isles outside territory which is known to have been once in Goidelic occupation. The single exception is that of the stone found at Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester).’ But, according to Mr. Nicholson himself, ‘the great majority’ of the British tribes were Goidelic: yet in only a small minority of their 452 territories are ogam inscriptions forthcoming; and that minority, with the possible exception of the Atrebates, is in the west of England. What then is proved by the solitary inscription at Silchester? The individual who erected it was doubtless a Goidel:2073 but if it is to be regarded as a proof that the Atrebates were Goidels, then the existence of synagogues in Great Britain proves the truth of that widespread delusion which Professor Tylor2074 has described as ‘abject nonsense’,—the ‘Anglo-Israel theory’.2075

Fourthly, Mr. Nicholson remarks2076 that between the Parisi and the Iceni, the name of whose king, Prasutagus,2077 he regards ‘as containing Ind.-Eur. p’, while all other Celtic scholars regard it as Brythonic, dwelled the Coritani.2078 ‘From their position on the coast,’ he says, ‘they should belong to the same Picto-Belgic family, and I submit that their name is simply Qṛtanoi, Cruitni.’ In other words, Mr. Nicholson submits that a single tribe, which he assumes to have been Belgic, called itself by the same name which, on his own showing,2079 had been given to the entire population of Great Britain2080 long before the Belgae set foot in the land! 453

6. I have set down the gist of the linguistic evidence which has been offered in support of the various theories about the Goidels and the Brythons in order that the reader may be able to form an independent judgement about its value. It goes without saying that on any particular question of Celtic etymology no opinion except that of a competent Celtic scholar is worth listening to: on most of the questions that concern us competent Celtic scholars differ widely among themselves: Professor Rhys differs from himself; and Mr. Nicholson, whose competence I neither affirm nor deny, differs from everybody. Even the lay reader who has studied the writings of Dr. Windisch, of Professor Rhys, of Dr. Whitley Stokes, of Dr. Macbain, of Mr. Nicholson, and of M. d’Arbois de Jubainville, and who has made much use of Alfred Holder’s Alt-celtischer Sprachschatz cannot but see how few of the etymologies that relate to ethnology are to be accepted as certain. It would of course be absurd to sneer at the services which philology has rendered to ethnology and history; nevertheless the fact remains that on almost all the fundamental questions of Celtic ethnology the philologists agree to differ. And, at the risk of appearing flippant, I cannot help saying that when I read some of Mr. Nicholson’s pages, when I see how M. Salomon Reinach demonstrates, with the approval of M. d’Arbois de Jubainville and of Professor Rhys, who for once find themselves in agreement, that κασσίτερος, the Greek word for tin, must be of Celtic derivation because the root cassi- is found in numerous Celtic names,2081 I ask myself whether some future philologist will not adduce the similarity between Tamesis and Tamesi, the name of a Mexican river, as a proof that the Celts once colonized Central America; whether he will not compare the name of Admiral Togo with that of the British prince, Togo-dumnos, and prove that ‘the Japanese Nelson’ was of Celtic extraction.2082

7. Caesar, in a familiar passage, states that ‘the maritime districts [of Britain are inhabited] by people who crossed over from Belgium to plunder and attack [the aborigines], almost all of them being called after the tribes from whom the invaders were an offshoot’.2083 454 It is, however, impossible to define the limits of the region which, in Caesar’s time and during the period that elapsed between the date of his departure and that of the Claudian conquest, was occupied by the Belgae. The only tribal names that indicate their presence are those of the Catuvellauni,2084 who, about the commencement of the Christian era, occupied a territory of uncertain area round Verulamium, or St. Albans, which included Hertfordshire, Middlesex, and probably parts of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Northamptonshire; the Atrebates, who possessed parts of Hampshire and Berkshire; and the Belgae, whose chief towns, according to Ptolemy,2085 were Aquae Calidae, or Bath, and Venta, or Winchester.2086 Caesar’s words would certainly lead us to believe that the Cantii, the Trinovantes, and the Regni were also Belgic peoples, although their names do not occur in the list of the Belgic tribes of Gaul.2087 Professor Rhys indeed affirmed in the second edition of Celtic Britain2088 that ‘there is no evidence that the Cantii ... should be considered Belgic’; and this statement is repeated in the edition which has recently been published: one feels therefore that the evolution of the professor’s views is quite normal when one reads in an intermediate volume, published two years ago,2089 that the earliest Belgic invaders of Britain were probably the Brittani,2090 and that the Brittani were probably the Cantii.

8. Finally, Dr. Macalister regards certain skeletons which have been found in the War Ditches of Cambridgeshire below layers that contained traces of late Roman occupation as Anglian2091; and it may be that they testify to a pre-Roman immigration from Northern Germany. 455


For the sake of clearness I shall summarize the results which this inquiry has attained. No human remains, except those of Bury St. Edmunds and Cattedown, which can be certainly attributed to the Quaternary Period have been found in Britain; but it is probable that the earlier inhabitants belonged in part to the Neanderthal stock, and that towards the close of the Palaeolithic Age they were joined by immigrants akin to the Chancelade people of the Lozère valley. There is no conclusive evidence that the earliest neolithic invaders found this island inha