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Title: Notes on the Fenland - with A Description of the Shippea Man
Author: MacAlister, Alexander, Huges, T. McKenny
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Notes on the Fenland

Woodwardian Professor of Geology


A Description of the Shippea Man

Professor of Anatomy

at the University Press

Edinburgh: 100 PRINCES STREET

Bombay, Calcutta and Madras: MACMILLAN AND Co., Ltd.
Toronto: J. M. DENT AND SONS, Ltd.

_All rights reserved_



GEOGRAPHY OF THE FENLAND                                            1

SUBSIDENCE OF THE VALLEY OF THE CAM                                 2

TURBIFEROUS AND ARENIFEROUS SERIES                                  3


ABSENCE OF PEAT IN ARENIFEROUS SERIES                               6

FEN BEDS NOT ALL PEAT                                               7

SECTIONS IN ALLUVIUM                                                7

FLOATING ISLANDS; BOG-OAK AND BOG-IRON                             13

MARL: SHELL MARL AND PRECIPITATED MARL                             17

THE WASH: COCKLE BEDS (Heacham): BUTTERY CLAY (Littleport)         18

LITTLEPORT DISTRICT                                                18

BUTTERY CLAY                                                       19

THE AGE OF THE FEN BEDS                                            20

PALAEONTOLOGY OF FENS                                              20

BIRDS                                                              25

MAN                                                                27



The Fenland is a buried basin behind a breached barrier. It is the
"drowned" lower end of a valley system in which glacial, marine,
estuarine, fluviatile, and subaerial deposits have gradually
accumulated, while the area has been intermittently depressed until
much of the Fenland is now many feet below high water in the adjoining

The history of the denudation which produced the large geographical
features upon which the character of the Fenland depends needs no long
discussion, as there are numerous other districts where different
stages of the same action can be observed.

In the Weald for instance where the Darent and the Medway once ran off
higher ground over the chalk to the north, cutting down their channels
through what became the North Downs, as the more rapidly denuded beds
on the south of the barrier were being lowered. The character of the
basin is less clear in this case because it is cut off by the sea on
the east, but the cutting down of the gorges _pari passu_ with the
denudation of the hinterland can be well seen.

The Thames near Oxford began to run in its present course when the land
was high enough to let the river flow eastward over the outcrops of
Oolitic limestones which, by the denudation of the clay lands on the
west, by and by stood out as ridges through which the river still holds
its course to the sea--the lowering of the clay lands on the west
having to wait for the deepening of the gorges through the limestone
ridges. A submergence which would allow the sea to ebb and flow through
these widening gaps would produce conditions there similar to those of
our fenlands. So also the Witham and the Till kept on lowering their
basin in the Lias and Trias, while their united waters cut down the
gorge near Lincoln through a barrier now 250 feet high.

The basin of the Humber gives us an example of a more advanced stage in
the process. The river once found its way to the sea at a much higher
level over the outcrops of Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks west of Hull,
cutting down and widening the opening, while the Yorkshire Ouse, with
the Aire, the Calder and other tributaries, were levelling the New Red
Sandstone plain and valleys west of the barrier and tapping more and
more of the water from the uplands beyond. The equivalent of the Wash
is not seen behind the barrier in the estuary of the Humber, but the
tidal water runs far up the river and produces the fertile estuarine
silt known as the Warp.

The Fenland is only an example of a still further stage in this
process. The Great Ouse and its tributaries kept on levelling the Gault
and Kimmeridge and Oxford Clays at the back of the chalk barrier which
once crossed the Wash between Hunstanton and Skegness.

The lowlands thus formed lie in the basin of the Great Ouse which
includes the Fenland, while the Fenland includes more than the Fens
properly defined, so that things recorded as found in the Fenland may
be much older than the Fen deposits.


During the slow denudation which resulted in the formation of this
basin many things happened. There were intermittent and probably
irregular movements of elevation and depression. Glacial conditions
supervened and passed away.

The proof of this may be seen in the Sections, Figs. 1, 2 and 3, pp. 8,
9 and 10.

At Sutton Bridge the alluvium has been proved to a depth of 73 feet
resting on Boulder Clay. At Impington the Boulder Clay runs down to a
depth of 86 feet below the surface level of the alluvium. That means
that this part of the valley was scooped out before the glacial
deposits were dropped in it, and that the bottom of the ancient valley
is now far below sea level.

In front of Jesus College, gravel with _Elephas primigenius_ was
excavated down to a depth of 30 feet below the street, while in the
Paddocks behind Trinity College the still more recent alluvium was
proved to a depth of 45 feet, i.e. 16 feet below O.D. These facts
indicate a comparatively recent subsidence along the valley, as no
river could scoop out its bed below sea level.

We need not for our present purpose stop to enquire whether this
depression was confined to the line of the valley or was part of more
widespread East Anglian movements which are not so easy to detect on
the higher ground. From the above-mentioned sections it is clear that
the denudation, which resulted in the formation of the basin in the
lowest hollow of which the Fen Beds lie, was a slow process begun and
carried on long before glacial conditions prevailed and before the
gravel terraces were formed.

As soon as the sea began to ebb and flow through the opening in the
barrier, the conditions were greatly altered and we see the results of
the conflict between the mud-carrying upland waters and the
beach-forming sea.


The Fen Beds belong to the last stage and, notwithstanding their great
local differences, seem all to belong to one continuous series. Seeing
then that their chief characteristic is that they commonly contain
beds of peat it may be convenient to form a word from the late Latin
_turba_, turf or peat, and call them Turbiferous to distinguish them
from the Areniferous series which consists almost entirely of sands
and gravels.

When the land had sunk so far that the velocity of the streams was
checked over the widening estuary and on the other hand the tide and
wind waves had more free access, some outfalls got choked and others
opened; turbid water sometimes spread over the flats and left mud or
was elsewhere filtered through rank plant growth so that it stood clear
in meres and swamps, allowing the formation of peat unmixed with earthy

Banks are naturally formed along the margin of rivers by the settling
down of sand and mud when the waters overflow, as seen on a large scale
along the Mississippi, the Po, as well as along the Humber and its

The effect of a break down of the banks is very different. A great hole
is scooped out by the outrush, and the mud, sand and gravel deposited
in a fanshape according to its degree of coarseness and specific

A good example of this was seen in the disastrous Mid-Level flood at
Lynn in 1862[1] and the more recent outburst near Denver in the winter
of 1914-15[2], of which accounts were published in contemporary
newspapers. The varied accompanying phenomena can be well studied in
the process of warping in Yorkshire or the colmata in Italy.

          [1] _Times_, _Cambridge Chronicle_, May 31, 1862.

          [2] _Times_, Jan. 16, 1915.

This was a much commoner catastrophe in old times, before the banks
were artificially raised, and, as the streams could never get back into
their old raised channel, this accounts for the network of ancient
river beds which intersect the Fens.

The bottom of the Turbiferous alluvium is always, as far as my
experience goes, sharply defined. This of course cannot be seen in a
borehole or very small section.

The surface of the older deposits seems to have been often washed clean
either by the encroaching sea or by the upland flood waters.

In saying that there is an absence of sand and gravel in the Fen Beds
we must be careful not to force this description too far. For when the
first encroaching water was washing away any pre-existing superficial
deposits the first material left as the base of the Fen Beds must have
depended upon the character of the underlying strata, the velocity of
the water and other circumstances.

This is well seen in the Whittlesea brickpit where an ancient gravel
with marine shells rests on the Oxford Clay and over the gravel there
creeps the base of the Turbiferous series. It here consists chiefly of
white marl which thins out to the left of the section and above becomes
full of vegetable matter until it passes up into peat, over which there
is a flood-water loam.

About a mile west-north-west of Little Downham near Ely, and within a
couple of hundred yards of Hythe, the Fen Beds were seen in a deep cut
carried close to the gravel hill which here stretches out north into
the Fens.

They consist at the base of material washed down from the spur of
gravel and sand of the Areniferous series against which the Fen Beds
here abut.

This basement bed is succeeded by beds of silt and peat of no great
thickness as they are near the margin of the swamp.

When any considerable thickness of the older Areniferous gravels has
been preserved, the base of the Turbiferous series is smooth or only
gently undulating. But where only small patches or pot-holes of gravel
remain, there the top of the clay has been contorted and over-folded so
as often to contain irregularly curved pipes and even isolated nests of
sand and gravel[3]. The base of the Areniferous gravel must generally
have been thrown down upon clay which had been clean cut to an even
surface by denudation without any soaking of the surface or isolated
heaps of gravel sinking into the clay under alternation of dry and wet
conditions, such as would puddle the surface under the heaps and allow
the masses of heavy gravel to sink in pipes and troughs. These small
outlying patches of gravel are sometimes so little disturbed that we
leave them in the Areniferous, whereas they are sometimes so obviously
rearranged that we must include them in the Turbiferous series, taking
care not to include derivative bones from the older in our list of
fossils from the newer series.

          [3] Cf. _Archaeol. Journ._ Vol. LXIX, No. 274 2nd Ser.; Vol.
          XIX, No. 2, pp. 205-214.


The basement beds of the Turbiferous or Newer Alluvial Fen Beds are
clearly separated by their stratification from the Areniferous or Older
Alluvial Terrace Beds down the sloping margin of which they creep, but
there is not anywhere, as far as I am aware, any passage or dovetailing
of the Fen Beds into the gravel of the river terraces, while the
difference in the fauna is very marked.

It is however from such sections as those just described that the
erroneous view arose that the Elephant and Rhinoceros occurred in the
older Fen Beds. It is true that they have been found under peat in the
Fenland, but that is only where the gravel spurs of the Old Alluvial
Terraces or Areniferous Series have passed under the newer Fen Beds.

I saw the remains of _Rhinoceros tichorhinus_ in the gravel beds
belonging to the older or Areniferous Series at Little Downham, and
from the base of the gravel in the Whittlesea brickpit I obtained a
fine lower molar of _Elephas antiquus_. This was, however, not in
the Gravel, but squeezed into the soft surface of the underlying
Jurassic Clay.

There have never been any remains of Elephant or Rhinoceros found in
the Turbiferous series.


It is not easy to realise what the conditions were during the formation
of the later Terrace Gravels (Barnwell type), and, if it is a fact, why
there was not then, as in later times, a marshy peat-bearing area here
and there between the torrential deposits of the upper streams near the
foot of the hills and the region where the tide met the upland waters.
A few plants have been found in the Barnwell gravel but they are very
rare in this series. The older Terrace Gravel (Barrington type) might
be expected to furnish evidence of the existence of abundant vegetation
if we are right in assigning it to about the age of the peaty deposits
overlying the Weybourn Crag. But at present we have no evidence of any
such deposit in the Cambridge gravels.

Although there are great masses of vegetable matter formed in the
swamps of tropical regions, peat is essentially a product of northern
climes. Pliny[4] evidently refers to peat as used in Friesland but not
as a thing with which he was familiar.

          [4] Lib. XVI, cap. 1.


It must not, however, be imagined that the Fen Beds consist wholly or
even chiefly of peat. As we travel north from Cambridge the surface of
the alluvium is brown earth for miles and only here and there shows the
black surface of peat. The numerous ditches for draining the land
confirm this observation, and when we have the opportunity of examining
excavations carried down to great depths into the alluvium we usually
find only a little peat on the surface or in thin beds alternating with
silt and clay and marl. Sometimes, but only sometimes, we have evidence
of the growth of peat for a long time, then of the incoming of turbid
water leaving beds of clay, then again of the tranquil growth of peat.
All this points to changes of local conditions and shifting channels
during a gradual sinking of the area, for some of the peat is below sea

I believe that the volume of clay is much greater than that of peat,
although from the common occurrence of peat on the surface and clay in
the depth the area over which peat is seen is greater. We have not,
however, the data for estimating the proportion of each.

In embayed corners along the river even above Cambridge we find little
patches of peat, while on the other hand in deep excavations near the
middle of the valley we find only thin streaks of peat or peaty silt.
In the trial boreholes at the Backs of the Colleges there was only this
kind of record of former swamp vegetation.


In digging the foundations for the chimney of the Electric Lighting
Works opposite Magdalene College the following section was seen (Fig.
1, p. 8).

Under the new Tennis Courts in Park Parade facing Mid-summer Common the
section was somewhat different (Fig. 2, p. 9).

While in the pit dug some years ago by Mr Bullock at the other end of
the Parade at the lower end of Portugal Place in the south-east corner
of the Common there was a section very similar to the last (Fig. 3, p.

    |                Made ground
    |        7'-8'
    |                Black silt
    |        7'-8'
    |        4'      Peaty silt
    |        4'      Gravel
    |                Gault

[Illustration: Fig. 1. Section seen in foundations of chimney for
Electric Lighting Works near river opposite Magdalene College, July,

These three sections, immediately north of Cambridge where the valley
of the Cam opens out on to the Fens, are important as showing the
variations right across the alluvium from side to side and the absence,
here at any rate, of any indication of a constant sequence distinctly
pointing to important geographical changes. A section seen under
Pembroke College Boat House gave 16 feet of clay and peaty silt on the
black gravel which here, as in the borings at the Backs of the
Colleges, forms the base of the alluvium. About half way down were
bones of horse and stag, but I do not believe that these are of any
great antiquity, probably not earlier than mediaeval.

    Thickness  Depth

                     |               Irregular made ground
     5               |               Clayey
                     |               Alluvium
                5    +------
     4               |               Peat
                9    +------
   10-12             |               Sand and Gravel
               21    +------
     2               |
                     +------         Gravel
     2               |
               25    +------
    4'6"             |               Running Sand
               29' 6" +------         Gault

    _Scale_ 8' to 1"

[Illustration: Fig. 2. Section seen in digging foundations of Tennis
Courts on Midsummer Common, Cambridge.]

Lower down the river near Ely a most important and interesting section
has recently been exposed. A new bridge was built over the Ouse near
the railway station and to obtain material for easing the gradient up
to the bridge a pit was sunk close to it on the east side of the river,
and was carried down to the Kimmeridge Clay thus giving a clear section
through the whole of the alluvium (Fig. 4, p. 11).


    _a_      |
             +------   4'
    _b_      |
             +------   7'
    _c_      |
             +------  10'
    _d_      |
             +------  12' 6"
    _e_      |
             +------  13' 2"
    _f_      |
             +------  21' 2"
    _g_      |
             +------  23' 2"
    _h_      |

    _a._ Dark clay, with much carbonaceous matter, scattered
           stones, and freshwater shells                        4' 0"
    _b._ Tough clay                                             3' 0"
    _c._ Dark clay full of bits of wood                         3' 0"
    _d._ Light coloured clay full of rootlets                   2' 6"
    _e._ Rusty sand                                                8"
    _f._ False bedded gravel and sand pierced by rootlets       8' 0"
    _g._ Black silt and gravel                                  2' 0"
    _h._ Gault                                                 23' 2"

[Illustration: Fig. 3. Section seen in Bullock's Pit in S.E. corner of
Midsummer Common.]

It will be noticed that there is very little peat here and all of it
was below O.D. The upper four feet of the clayey peat (_f_) looked as
if the vegetable matter had been transported, perhaps from peat beds
being destroyed by the river higher up, and been carried down in flood
with the clay, while the lower four feet of peat (_h_) was only a
cleaner sample of the same, before the river had cut down into the
clay. The trees in both _f_ and _h_ were not trees that had grown on
the spot and had been blown down, but were broken, water-worn, and
evidently transported.

    _a_  +-----------------
    _b_  +-----------------
    _c_  +-----------------
    _d_  +-----------------
    _e_  +-----------------
    _f_  |·················  _g_
    _h_  |
    _i_  |
    _j_  |

    _a._ Surface soil                                            7"
    _b._ Clayey alluvium                                         7"
    _c._ Peaty alluvium                                          9"
    _d._ Brown clayey alluvium                                1' 6"
    _e._ Peaty alluvium.                                         9"
    _f._ Brown clayey peat with trees scattered throughout
    _g._   and lenticular beds of freshwater shells in it        4'
    _h._ Peat with trees to 2' diam.                             4'
    _i._ Mottled green and grey clay with lines of sand and
           gravel giving out water                               2'
    _j._ Yellow clay with springs and much rusty water
           at bottom.                                            4'
                                                             18' 2"
    (1)  Skull and a few other bones of horse.
    (2)  Broken fragments of bone.

    _Scale_ 8' to 1"

[Illustration: Fig. 4. Section seen in pit dug for material for making
up the roadway east of the new bridge over the Ouse by the railway
station. Ely, 1910.]

If now we travel about 30 miles a little west of north we shall arrive
near the shore of the Wash about half way across its southern coast
line at Sutton Bridge. Here I had an opportunity of seeing the material
of which the alluvium is composed. With a view to securing a sound base
for the foundation of the piers of the Midland and Great Northern
Railway bridge an excavation was made through the whole of the Fen Beds
down to the Boulder Clay which as I have already stated was reached at
a depth of 73 feet. The clerk of the works kindly gave me the following
measurements (Fig. 5).

    Depth      Thickness

                      +---------- High water (12' 6" above O.D.)
               12' 6" |
    12' 6"            +---------- Ordnance Datum
                4' 0" |           Silt and clay
    16' 6"            +----------
                     {+---------- Low water (6' 0" below O.D.)
               19' 6"{|
                     {+---------- Bed of river (17' 6" below O.D.)
    36' 0"            +----------
                9' 0" |           Sand with shells
    45' 0"            +----------
                3' 6" |           Loam and sand
    48' 6"            +----------
                5' 6" |           Ballast with shells
    54' 0"            +----------
                3' 6" |           Loam with Peat
    57' 6"            +----------
                3' 6" |           Fine red ballast
                      |            mixed with clay
    61' 0"            +----------
                5' 0" |           Blue and grey clay
                      |            mixed with sand
    66' 0"            +----------
                1' 0" |           Ballast
    67' 0"            +----------
                4' 6" |           Silty Sand
    71' 6"            +----------
                      |           Ballast with flint
                1' 6" |            and stone
    73' 0"            +----------
                      |           Stiff grey clay

[Illustration: Fig. 5. Section seen at Sutton Bridge.]

Here again we see that the only peat is a bed between three and four
feet in thickness of mixed loam and peat more than 40 feet below mean
sea level.

From these sections it is clear that along the direct and more
permanent outfall from Cambridge to the north, peat forms but a small
part of the Fen Beds.

Peat is a substance of so much value as fuel, of such importance to the
agriculturist, of such commercial value in what we may call its
by-products, and of such scientific interest in the history of its
formation and the remains which its antiseptic properties have
preserved, that it has, as might be expected, a large literature of its

I have before me a list of more than 150 references to peat or to the


When we turn aside into the areas cut off by spurs of gravel and
islands of Jurassic rock, we find wide and deep masses of peat which
has grown and been preserved from denudation in these embayed and
isolated areas. Burwell Fen, for instance, protected on the north and
west by the Cretaceous ridge of Wicken and the Jurassic ridge of
Upware, furnishes most of the peat used in the surrounding district. If
we travel about two miles to the north-west from the pit dug near the
railway station (see Fig. 4, p. 11) over the hill on which Ely stands,
we shall come to West Fen, where there is a great mass of peat which
has grown in a basin now almost quite surrounded by Kimmeridge Clay.
In this there is a great quantity of timber at a small depth from the
surface. The tree trunks almost all lie with their root-end to the
south-west, but some are broken off, some are uprooted, telling
clearly a story of growth on the peat which had increased and swelled
till the surface was lifted above the level of floods. Then some
change--perhaps more rapid subsidence, perhaps changes in the
outfalls--let in flood water, the roots rotted and a storm from the
south-west, which was the most exposed side and the direction of the
prevalent winds, laid them low. The frequent occurrence of large
funguses, _Hypoxylon_, _Polyporus_, etc., points to conditions at
times unfavourable to the healthy growth of timber.

It is worth noting when trying to read the story of the Fens as
recorded by their fallen trees that in all forests we find now and then
a few trees blown down together though the surrounding trees are left.
This may be the result of a fierce eddy in the cycloidal path of the
storm, but more commonly it seems to be due to the fact that every tree
has its "play," like a fishing rod, and recurring gusts, not coinciding
with its rhythm, sometimes catch it at a disadvantage and break or blow
it down.

The story told by the West Fen trees is quite different from that told
by the water-borne and water-worn trunks in the section by Ely station.

The same variable conditions prevailed also in the more westerly tracts
of the Fen Basin, but the above examples are sufficient for our present

From the large numbers of trees found in some localities and from
records referring to parts of the Fens as _forest_ it has sometimes
been supposed that the Fens were well wooded, but forest did not
generally and does not now always mean a wood, as for example in the
case of the deer forests of Scotland.

When Ingulph[5] says that portions of the Fenland were disafforested by
Henry I, Stephen, Henry II, and Richard, who gave permission to build
upon the marshes, this probably meant that they no longer preserved
them so strictly, but allowed people to build on the gravel banks and
islands in them.

          [5] _History of Croyland_, Bohn's edition, p. 282.

Dugdale, recording a stricter enforcement of game-laws, quotes
proceedings against certain persons in Whittlesea, Thorney and Ramsey
for having "wasted all the fen of Kynges-delfe of the alders, hassacks
and rushes so that the King's deer could not harbour there." He does
not mention forest trees.

In the growth and accidents of vegetation in a swamp there are some
circumstances which are of importance to note with a view to the
interpretation of the results observed in the Fens.

For instance in fine weather there is a constant lifting and floating
of the confervoid algae which grow on the muddy bed of the stream. This
is brought about by the development of gas under the sun's influence in
the thick fibrous growth of the alga. The little bubbles give it a
silvery gleam and by and by produce sufficient buoyancy in the mass to
tear it out and make it rise to the surface dropping fine mud as it
goes and thus making the water turbid. Other plants, such as
Utricularia, Duckweed, etc., have their period of flotation, and in the
"Breaking of the Mere" in Shropshire we have a similar phenomenon. In
the "Floating Island" on Derwentwater the same sort of thing is seen
with coarser plants. All these processes are going on in the meres and
in the streams which meander through the Fens and did so more freely
before their reclamation. But besides this, when the top of the spongy
peat is raised above the water level and dries by evaporation, then
heath, ferns and other plants and at last trees grow on it, until
accident submerges it all again.

This at once shows why we often find an upper peat with a different
group of plant remains resting upon a lower peat with plants that grow
under water.

The most conspicuous examples of these various kinds of peat we see in
the mountainous regions of the North and West, where the highest hills
are often capped with peat from eight to ten feet in thickness,
creeping over the brow and hanging on the steep mountain sides.
Sometimes, close by, we see the gradual growth of peat from the margin
of a tarn where only water-weeds can flourish.

The "Hill Peat" is made up of Sphagnum and other mosses and of ferns
and heather.

The "Tarn Peat" of conferva, potamogeton, reeds, etc.

As Hill Peat now grows on the heights and steeps where no water can
stand and Tarn Peat in lakes and ponds lying in the hollows of the
mountains and moors, so the changes in the outfalls and the swelling
and sinking of the peat have given us in the Fens, here the results of
a dry surface with its heather and ferns and trees, and there products
of water-weeds only, and, from the nature of the case, the subaerial
growth is apt to be above the subaqueous.

One explanation of the growth of peat under both of these two very
different geographical conditions is probably the absence of
earthworms. The work of the earthworm is to drag down and destroy
decaying vegetable matter and to cast the mineral soil on to the
surface, but earthworms cannot live in water or in waterlogged land,
and where there are no earthworms the decaying vegetation accumulates
in layer after layer upon the surface, modified only by newer growths.
Some years ago a great flood kept the land along the Bin Brook under
water for several days and the earthworms were all killed, covering the
paddock in front of St John's New Buildings in such numbers that when
they began to decompose it was quite disagreeable to walk that way. It
reminded me of the effects of storm on the cocklebeds at the mouth of
the Medway, where the shells were washed out of the mud, the animals
died on the shore and the empty shells were in time washed round the
coast of Sheppey to the sheltered corner at Shellness. Here they lie
some ten feet deep and are dug to furnish the material for London

In those cases when the storm had passed the earthworms and the cockles
came again, but the Hill Peat is always full of water retained by the
spongy Sphagnum and similar plants, and the Fens are or were
continually, and in some places continuously, submerged and no
earthworms could live under such conditions.

The blackness of peat and of bog-oak may be largely but certainly not
wholly due to carbonaceous matter. Iron must play an important part.
There is in the Sedgwick Museum part of the trunk of a Sussex oak which
had grown over some iron railings and extended some eight inches or
more beyond the outside of the part which was originally driven in to
hold the rails. Mr Kett came upon the buried iron when sawing up the
tree in his works and kindly gave it to me. From the iron a deep black
stain has travelled with the sap along the grain, as if the iron of the
rail and the tannin of the oak had combined to produce an ink. The
well-known occurrence of bog-iron in peat strengthens this suggestion.
An opportunity of observing this enveloping growth of wood round iron
railings is offered in front of No. 1, Benet Place, Lensfield Road.

The trees in the Fens often lie at a small depth and when exposed to
surface changes perish by splitting along the medullary rays.

It is not clear how long it takes to impart a peaty stain to bone, but
we do find a difference between those which are undoubtedly very old
and others which we have reason to believe may be more recent. Compare
the almost black bones of the beaver, for instance, with the light
brown bones of the otter in the two mounted skeletons in the Sedgwick


"Marl," as commonly used, is Clay or Carbonate of Lime of a clayey
texture or any mixture of these.

Beds of shell marl tell the same tale as the peat. Shells do not
accumulate to any extent in the bed of a river. They are pounded up and
decomposed or rolled along and buried where mud or gravel finds a
resting place. Only sometimes, where things of small specific gravity
are gathered in holes and embayed corners, a layer of freshwater shells
may be seen.

But to produce a bed of pure shell marl the quantity of dead shells
must be very large and the amount of sediment carried over the area
very small, while the margin of the pond or mere in which the formation
of such a bed is possible must have an abundant growth of confervoid
algae and other water plants to furnish sustenance for the molluscs.
Shell marl therefore suggests ponds and meres. Of course it must be
borne in mind that in a region of hard water, such as is yielded in
springs all along the outcrop of the chalk, there is often a
considerable precipitation of carbonate of lime, especially where such
plants as Chara help to collect it, as the Callothrix and Leptothrix
help to throw down the Geyserite.

These beds of white marls, whether due to shells or to precipitation,
are thus of great importance for our present enquiry as they throw
light on the history of the Fens.

We should have few opportunities of examining the marl were it not for
its value to the agriculturist. As it consists of clay and lime, it is
not only a useful fertiliser but also helps to retain the dusty peat,
which when dry and pulverised is easily blown away. Moreover, as the
marl occurs at a small depth and often over large areas, it can
commonly be obtained by trenching on the ground where it is most


We have now carried our examination of the Fen Beds up to the sea, but
to understand this interesting area we must cross the sea bank and see
what is happening in the Wash. There is no peat being formed there, nor
is there any quantity of drifted vegetable matter such as might form
peat. There are marginal forest beds near Hunstanton and Holme, for
instance, and it is not clear whether they point to submergence or to
the former existence of sand dunes or shingle beaches sufficient to
keep out the sea and allow the growth of trees below high water level
behind the barrier, such as may be seen at Braunton Burrows, near
Westward Ho, or at the mouth of the Somme. What is the most conspicuous
character of the Wash is that the upland waters, now controlled as to
their outlet, keep open the troughs and deeps while tidal action throws
up a number of shifting banks of mud, sand and gravel, many of which
are left dry at low water. Along the quieter marginal portions fine
sediment is laid down, and relaid when storms have disturbed the
surface. On these cockles and other estuarine molluscs thrive. Before
the sea banks were constructed these tidal flats extended much further


In the light of this evidence let us examine the Fen Beds east of
Littleport, a district of great interest not only from its geographical
position in relation to the Fens but also from the remains recently
discovered there.

Looking north and west there is no high ground between us and the Wash.
If we could sweep out the soft superficial deposits and abolish the sea
banks the tide would still ebb and flow over the whole area.

If we look north and east we see the high ground stretching from
Downham Market to Stoke Ferry and sweeping round to the south by
Methwold and Feltwell and the islands of Hilgay and Southery, thus
enclosing a great bay into which the Wissey on the north and the
Brandon River on the south deliver the waters collected on the eastern
chalk uplands.

The island known as Shippea Hill marks the trend of an ancient barrier
blocking the northward course of the river Lark. (Fig. 6, p. 29.)

Here, then, it seems probable that we might find evidence of a local
change from the conditions we now see in the Wash and those which have
resulted in the formation of the Fens.


In deep trenching in the Fen between Littleport and Shippea Hill in
order to obtain clay for laying on the peaty surface a very fine
unctuous deposit was found at a depth of four or five feet. The
overlying Fen Beds were chiefly peat with lenticular beds of white marl
and grey clay, obviously laid down from time to time in small
depressions in the surface of the peat. This marl was often largely
made up of, or was at any rate full of, freshwater shells but sometimes
showed evidence of having been gathered on the stems of Chara which on
perishing have left small cylindrical hollows penetrating the partly
consolidated marl. Under these beds of peat and marl there was the
unctuous clay, which is sometimes referred to as the Buttery Clay. It
is an estuarine deposit like that mentioned above as occurring in the
Wash off Heacham, for instance. It contains shells of _Cardium edule_,
_Tellina_ (_Tacoma_) _balthica_, _Scrobicularia piperata_, and other
estuarine shells, some of which had the valves adherent or rather
adjoining, for the ligament had perished. Mrs Luddington has in her
collection the bones of the Urus, Wild Boar and Beaver, obtained from
the peat above this Buttery Clay.

On the other or south-western side of Shippea Hill, which is an island
of Kimmeridge Clay, we get further into the embayed and isolated
portions of the Fen and we find more peat in proportion to the other
deposits although it is very thin. There are still small lenticular
beds of white marl similar to that nearer Littleport and the peat rests
upon Buttery Clay of unknown thickness. In this part, however, no
shells have yet been noticed. Near Shippea Hill the peat has recently
been trenched with a view to obtaining clay with which to dress the
surface of the peat and it was here, at a depth of four feet from the
surface and four inches above the Buttery Clay, that the human bones
described below (pp. 27-35) were found.


Now we may enquire what are the limits within which we may speculate as
to the age of the Fen Beds.

These Turbiferous deposits all belong to one stage, though it may be
one of long duration. They are sharply separated from the Areniferous
deposits, i.e. the sands and gravels of the terraces and spurs which
always pass under and, in fairly large sections, can always be clearly
distinguished from the resorted layers at the base of the Fen Beds.

There is no definite chronological succession which will hold
throughout the Fens. The variations observed are geographical--clay,
marl, peat, etc., alternating in different order in different
localities and subaerial, fluviatile, estuarine, and marine, having
only a changing topographical significance.

The Fen Beds crept over an area where the underlying formation had been
undergoing vicissitudes due to slow geographical changes--changes
which, being at sea level and near the conflict of tides and upland
water, produced irregular but often important results.

There is not in the Fens any _continuous_ record of what took place
between the age in which the Little Downham Rhinoceros was buried in
the gravel and that in which the Neolithic hunters poleaxed the Urus
in the peat near Burwell.


Nor do we find any constant succession in the fauna and flora in the
sections in the Fens any more than we find a uniform distribution of
plants and animals over the surface to-day. The most numerous and
largest specimens of the Urus I have obtained from near Isleham: the
best preserved Beaver bones from Burwell. Modern changes of conditions
have limited the district in which the fen fern (_Thelypteris_) or
the swallow-tailed butterfly may now be seen; but nature in old times
produced as great changes in local conditions as those now due to human

When we compare the fauna of the Areniferous Series with that of the
Turbiferous, although there is not an entire sweeping away of the older
vertebrate and invertebrate forms of life and an introduction of newer,
there is a marked change in the whole facies.

There is plenty of evidence about Cambridge of the gradual
extermination of species still going on. Indeed, I feel inclined to say
that there is no such thing as a Holocene age. I remember land shells
being common of which it is difficult now to find live specimens, and
my wife[6] has shown how the mollusca are being differentiated in
isolated ponds left here and there along the ancient river courses
above the town.

          [6] "On the Mollusca of the Pleistocene Gravels in the
          neighbourhood of Cambridge," by Mrs McKenny Hughes. _Geol.
          Mag._ Decade 3, Vol. V, No. 5, May 1888, p. 193.

But we have not in older beds of the Turbiferous or newer beds of the
Areniferous Series any suggestion of continuity between the two. There
must have been between them an unrepresented period of considerable
duration in which very important changes were brought about. Perhaps it
was then that England became an island and unsuitable for most of the
life of the Areniferous age.

Not only have we in the Turbiferous as compared with the Areniferous
Series a change of facies but we have many "representative forms," a
point to which that keen naturalist, Edward Forbes, always attached
great importance.

We have for instance in the Fen Beds the Brown Bear (_Ursus arctos_)
with his flat pig-like skull, instead of the Grizzly (_Ursus ferox_)
of the Gravels with his broad skull and _front bombé_.

If we turn to the horned cattle we shall find a confirmation of the
view that there was not an entire break between the Turbiferous and
Areniferous fauna for the Urus (_Bos primigenius_) occurs in both.
This species became extinct in Britain in the Turbiferous period and
before the coming of the Romans, for no trace of it seems to have been
found with Roman remains in this country; and indeed when we remember
the numerous tribes, the dense population and high civilisation of the
natives of Britain in Roman times it seems improbable that they can
have tolerated such a formidable beast as this wild bull around their
cultivated land.

Some confusion has arisen as to the description and the names of
the Urus and the Bison. Caesar, who was not a big game hunter and
probably never saw either, has given under the name Urus a description
which evidently mixes up the characters of both. Both existed on the
continent down to quite recent times and the Bison is still found
in Poland, but later writers also have evidently confounded them.
For instance, the Augsburg picture of the Urus is correct, but
Herberstein's, which also is said to represent the Urus, is obviously
that of a Bison. I have gone into this question more fully

          [7] "The Evolution of the British Breeds of Cattle," _Journ.
          R. Agric. Soc._ Vol. V, Ser. 3, pp. 561-563, 1894. "On the
          more important Breeds of Cattle which have been recognised in
          the British Isles in successive periods, and their relation
          to other archaeological and historical discoveries,"
          _Archaeologia_, Vol. V, Ser. 3, pp. 125-158, 1896. Cf. also
          Morse, E. W., "The Ancestry of domesticated Cattle,"
          _Twenty-seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of Animal
          Industry_, 1910, Department of Agriculture, U.S.A.

The Urus (_Bos primigenius_) is common in the Fen Beds and is of
special importance for our present enquiry, as there is in the Sedgwick
Museum a skull of this species found in Burwell Fen with a Neolithic
flint implement sticking in it. The implement is thin, nearly parallel
sided, rough dressed, except on the front edge which is ground, and it
is made of the black south-country flint. It is very different in every
respect from the thick bulging implements with curved outlines, which
being made of the mottled grey north-country flint or of felstone or
greenstone suggest importation from a different and probably more
northerly source.

This gives us a useful synchronism of peat, a Neolithic implement of a
special well-marked type, and the Urus.

The Bison is the characteristic ox of the Gravels and never occurs in
the Fen Beds; while the Urus, as I have pointed out above, occurs in
both the Turbiferous and Areniferous deposits.

_Bos longifrons_ is the characteristic ox of the Fen Beds and never
occurs in the Gravels. It is the breed which the Romans found here,
and we dig up its bones almost wherever we find Roman remains. I
cannot adduce any satisfactory evidence that it was wild, that is to
say more wild than the Welsh cattle or ponies or sheep which roam
freely over wide tracts of almost uninhabited country. This species,
like the Urus, has horns pointing forward, but the cattle introduced
by the Romans had upturned lyre-shaped horns, as in the modern
Italian, the Chillingham or our typical uncrossed Ayrshire breed, and
soon we notice the effect of crossing the small native cattle (_Bos
longifrons_) with the larger Roman breed.

The Horse appears to have lived continuously throughout Pleistocene
times down to the present day and to have been always used for food.
Unfortunately the skull of a horse is thin and fragile and therefore it
has been difficult to obtain a series sufficiently complete to found
any considerable generalisations upon it. The animal found in the peat
and alluvium appears to have been a small sized, long faced pony.

The appearances and reappearances of the different kinds of deer is a
very interesting question, but it will be more easily treated when I
come to speak of the Gravels of East Anglia. I will only point out now
that neither of the deer with palmated antlers properly belongs to the
Turbiferous series. The great Irish Elk (_Cervus megacerus_) has not
been found in the Fen Beds. Indeed it is not clear that in Ireland it
occurs in the peat. The most careful and trustworthy descriptions seem
to show that its bones lie either in or on top of the clays on which
the peat grew.

The other and smaller deer with palmated antlers, namely, the Fallow
deer (_Cervus dama_), were reintroduced, probably by the Romans, and
although some of them have got buried in the alluvium or newer peat in
the course of the 1500 years or so that they have been hunted in royal
warrens in East Anglia, they cannot be regarded as indigenous or
indicative of climate or other local conditions.

Remains of the Red deer (_Cervus elaphus_) and of the Roe deer
(_Cervus capreolus_) are common in the Fen Beds; both occur in the
Gravels also; and both are still wild in the British Isles. Unlike the
Red deer, which lives on the open moorland, the Roe deer lives in
woods and forests. And this is an interesting fact in its bearing upon
our inferences as to the character of the country before the
reclamation of the Fens and the destruction of the plateau forest. The
open downs and the spurs and islands of the fenlands offered the Red
deer a congenial feeding ground, while the thickets on the edge of the
upland forest and the bosky patches along the margins of the lowland
swamps provided covert for the Roe deer. Sheep and goat are found in
the peat and the alluvium, but it is not easy to tell the age of the
bones. They do generally appear to be of that lighter brown colour
which is characteristic of remains from newer peat as compared with
the black bones which seem to belong to the older and more decomposed
peat. The sheep is probably a late introduction and is never found in
the Terrace Gravel (see _Geol. Mag._ Decade 2, Vol. X, No. 10, p.

The Wild Boar (_Sus scrofa_) is fairly common.

It is remarkable that we get very few remains of Wolf, although it is
not much more than 200 years since the last was killed. There is in the
Sedgwick Museum one fairly complete skeleton, found a long time ago in
Burwell Fen and I have recently obtained another from the same
locality. There do not seem to be any obvious and constant characters
by which we can distinguish a wolf from a dog, and Britain was
celebrated for its large and fierce dogs. The bones of the Eskimo dogs
are very wolf-like, but they are frequently crossed with wolf.

Perhaps the most interesting animal whose remains are found in the Fens
is the Beaver. Why do we not find here and there a beaver dam? Perhaps
it is because we have not been on the look-out for it, and the
peat-cutters would not have seen anything remarkable in the occurrence
of a quantity of timber anywhere in the Fens. We must suppose that the
peat which often contains whole forests of trees and even canoes would
have preserved the timber of the beaver dam. It is an animal too which
might have contributed largely towards the formation of the Fens by
holding up and diverting meandering streams. Perhaps it did not make
dams down in the Fens, and the skeletons we find are those of stray
individuals or of dead animals which have floated down from dams near
Trumpington or Chesterford; very suitable places for them. We want more
evidence about the fen beaver.

I have heard that there are beavers in the Danube which do not make
dams, but among those introduced into this country in recent years the
dam building instinct seems to have survived the change. The beavers on
the Marquis of Bute's property in Scotland cut down trees and built
dams as did the beavers in Sir Edmund Loder's park in Sussex, and even
in the Zoological Gardens they recently constructed a "lodge." We have
not found the beaver in the Gravels.

Part of the skull of a Walrus was brought to us a long time ago and
said to have been found in the peat. But it is a very suspicious case.
It does not look like a bone that had been long entombed in peat, and
we are not so far from the coast as to make it improbable that it was
carried there by some sailor returning home from northern seas.

Bones of Cetaceans are thrown up on the shore near Hunstanton, and
Seals are still not uncommon in the Wash, so that we need not attach
much importance to the occurrence in marine silt of Whale, Grampus,
Porpoise, and such like.


We have paid much attention to the birds of the Fens, partly because of
the occurrence of some unexpected species, and also because of the
absence, so far as our collection goes, of species of which we should
expect to find large numbers.

Perhaps the most interesting are the remains of Pelican (_P. crispus_
or _onocrotalus_)[8]. Of this we have two bones, not associated nor
in the same state of preservation. The determination we have on the
authority of Alphonse Milne Edwards and Professor Alfred Newton. One
of the bones is that of a bird so young that it cannot have flown over
but shows that it must have been hatched or carried here.

          [8] _Annales des Sciences Naturelles, Zool._ (5), Vol. VIII,
          Pl. 14, pp. 285-293. _Ibis_, 1868, pp. 363-370, _Proc. Zool.
          Soc._ 1868, p. 2. _Trans. Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists
          Soc._ Vol. VII, Pt. 2, 1901. _Geol. Mag._ No. 447, N.S. Dec.
          4, Vol. VIII, No. 9, p. 422.

Of the Crane (_Grus cinerea_) we have a great number of bones but of
the common Heron not one. I have placed a recent skeleton of heron in
the case to help us to look out for and determine any that may turn
up. Bones of the Bittern (_Botaurus_ or _Ardea stellaris_) are quite
common, as are those of the Mute or tame Swan (_Cygnus olor_) as well
as of the Hooper or wild Swan (_Cygnus musicus_ or _ferus_). Goose
(_Anser_) and Duck (_Anas_) are not so numerous as one might have
expected. The Grey Goose (_Anser ferus_) and the Mallard (_Anas
boscas_) are the most common, but other species are found, as for
instance _Anas grecca_. We have also the Red Breasted Merganser
(_Mergus serrator_), and the Smew (_Mergus albellus_), the Razor Bill
(_Alea tarda_), the Woodcock (_Scolopax rusticola_), the Water Hen
(_Gallinula chloropus_) and a few bones of a Limicoline bird, most
likely a lapwing. We have found the skull, but no more, of the
White-tailed or Sea Eagle (_Haliaetus albicilla_). The whole is a
strangely small collection considering all the circumstances.

We find in the Fens of course everything of later date, down to the
drowned animals of last winter's storm, or the stranded pike left when
the flood went down. It is a curious fact and very like instinct at
fault that in floods the pike wander into shallow water and linger in
the hollows till too late to get back to the river, so that large
numbers of them are found dead when the water has soaked in or
evaporated. An old man told me that he well remembered when pike were
more abundant they used to dig holes along the margin when the flood
was rising and when it went down commonly found several fine pike in
them. This explains why we so often find the bones of pike in the peat,
but where did the pike get into a habit so little conducive to the
survival of the species?

Although we notice at the present day a constant change in the
mollusca, their general continuity throughout the long ages from
pre-glacial times is a very remarkable fact.

The presence of _Corbicula fluminalis_ and _Unio littoralis_ in the
Gravels characterized by the cold-climate group of mammals such as
_Rhinoceros tichorhinus_ and _Elephas primigenius_, the absence of
those shells from the deposits in which _Rh. merckii_ and _E.
antiquus_ are the representative forms, and their existence now
only in more southern latitudes, as France, Sicily or the Nile, but
not in our Turbiferous Series, lay before us a series of apparent
inconsistencies not easy of explanation.


Every step in the line of enquiry we have been following, from whatever
point of view we have regarded the evidence, has forced upon us the
conclusion that a long interval elapsed between the Areniferous and
Turbiferous series as seen in the Fens; and yet, having regard to the
geographical history of the area with which we commenced, we cannot but
feel that the various deposits represent only episodes in a continuous
slow development due to changes of level both here and further afield
and the accidents incidental to denudation.

But the particular deposits which we are examining happen to have been
laid down near sea level where small changes produce great effects. We
may feel assured that over the adjoining higher ground the changes
would have been imperceptible when they were occurring and the results
hardly noticeable.

If the Fen Beds include nearly the whole of the Neolithic stage the
idea that glacial conditions then prevailed over the adjoining higher
ground is quite untenable.

So far everything has taught us that the Fens occupy a well-defined
position in the evolution of the geographical features of East Anglia
and also that the fauna is distinctive, and, having regard to the whole
facies, quite different from that of the sands and gravels which occur
at various levels all round and pass under the Turbiferous Series of
the Fens.

We will now enquire what is the place of these deposits in the
"hierarchy" based upon the remains of man and his handiwork.

No Palaeolithic remains have ever been found in the Fen deposits. We
must not infer from this that there is everywhere evidence of a similar
break or long interval of time between the Palaeolithic and Neolithic
ages. There are elsewhere remains of man and his handiwork which we
must refer to later Palaeolithic than anything found in the Areniferous
Series just near the Fen Beds, and there are, not far off, remains of
man's handiwork which appear to belong to the Neolithic age, but to an
earlier part of it than anything yet found in association with the Fen

The newer Palaeolithic remains referred to occur chiefly in caves and
the older Neolithic objects are for the most part transitional forms of
implement found on the surface in various places around but outside the
Fens and in the great manufactures of implements at Cissbury and Grimes
Graves, in which we can study the embryology of Neolithic implements
and observe the development of forms suggested by those of Palaeolithic
age or by nature. The sequence and classification adopted in these
groups, both those of later Palaeolithic and those of earlier Neolithic
age, are confirmed by an examination of the contemporary fauna; the
Areniferous facies prevailing in the caves and the Turbiferous facies
characterising the pits and refuse-heaps of Cissbury and Grimes Graves.

It is interesting to note that these ancient flint workings, in which
we find the best examples of transitional forms, have both of them
some suggestion of remote age. The pits from which the flint was
procured at Cissbury are covered by the ramparts of an ancient British
camp and the ground near Grimes Graves has yielded Palaeolithic
implements _in situ_ in small rain-wash hollows close by--as seen near
"Botany Bay." Palaeolithic man came into this area sometime after the
uplift of East Anglia out of the Glacial Sea and was here through the
period of denudation and formation of river terraces which ensued and
the age of depression which followed. But Neolithic man belongs to the
later part of that period of depression when the ends of some of the
river gravels were again depressed below sea level and the valleys had
scarcely sufficient fall for the rivers to flow freely to the sea. In
the stagnant swamps and meres thus caused the Fen deposits grew, and
in this time the Shippea man met his death mired in the watery peat of
the then undrained fens.

Human bones have not been very often found in the Fen, and when they do
occur it is not always easy to say whether they really belong to the
age of the peat in which they are found or may not be the remains of
someone mired in the bog or drowned in one of the later filled up
ditches. That they have long been buried in the peat is often obvious
from the colour and condition of the bone. By the kindness of our
friends Mr and Mrs Luddington my wife and I received early information
of the discovery of human bones in trenching on some of their property
in the Fen close to Shippea Hill near Littleport and we were able to
examine the section and get some of the bones out of the peat ourselves
(Fig. 6). A deposit of about 4' 6" of peat with small thin lenticular
beds of shell marl here rested on lead colored alluvial clay. In the
base of the peat about four inches above the Buttery Clay a human
skeleton was found bunched up and crowded into a small space, less than
two feet square, as if the body had settled down vertically.

                      /       \               [Greek: ph]
       --------------/         \--------------
    _c_     ···_d_  /           \  _d´_···    _c_
                   /             \         +
       -----------/      _a_      \-----------
    _e_          /                 \          _e´_

    _a._ Kimmeridge Clay forming Shippea Hill, on which monastic
    buildings in connection with Ely Cathedral formerly stood.

    _b._ Patches of rusty flint gravel.

    _c._ Peat with bones of beaver, boar, urus, etc.

    _d._ Shell Marl, occurring in lenticular beds of limited extent in
    the upper part of the peat, sometimes in one bed as at _d_ and
    sometimes in several distinct beds as at _d´_.

    _e._ "Buttery Clay"; full of cockleshells etc. at _e_, but at
    _e´_ containing only freshwater shells and pieces of wood.

    + Position of skeleton.

    [Greek: ph] Dressed flint flake on surface.

[Illustration: Fig. 6. Diagram Section across Shippea Hill.]

Some of the bones were broken and much decayed, while others, when
carefully extracted, dried and helped out with a little thin glue,
became very sound and showed by the surface markings that they had
suffered only from the moisture and not from any wear in transport.

The most interesting point about them is the protuberant brow, which,
when first seen on the detached frontal bone, before the skull had been
restored, suggested comparison with that of the Neanderthal man.

Much greater importance was attached to that character when the
Neanderthal skull was found.

When I announced the discovery of the Shippea man the point on which I
laid most stress was that, notwithstanding his protuberant brow, he
could not possibly be of the _age_ of the deposits to which the
Neanderthal man was referred. I stated "my own conviction that the peat
in which the Shippea man was found cannot be older than Neolithic times
and may be much newer" and, believing that similar prominent brow
ridges are not uncommon to-day, I suggested that he might be even as
late as the time of the monks of Ely who had a Retreat on Shippea Hill.

The best authorities who have seen the skull since it has been restored
by Mr C. E. Gray, our skilful First Attendant in the Sedgwick Museum,
refer it to the Bronze Age which falls well within the limits which I

This skull is unique among the few that I have obtained from the Fens.
Dr Duckworth has described[9] most of these, and I subjoin a
description of the Shippea man by Professor Alexander Macalister.

          [9] Duckworth and Shore, _Man_, No. 85, 1911, pp. 134, 139.


"The calvaria is large, dark coloured and much broken. The base, facial
bones and part of the left brow ridge and glabella are gone. The
sutures are coarsely toothed and visible superficially although
ankylosis has set in in the inner face. The bone is fairly thick (8·10
mm.), and on the inner face the pacchionian pits are large and deep on
each side of the middle line especially in the bregmatic part of the
frontal and the post-bregmatic part of the parietals. The superior
longitudinal groove is deep but narrow, and, as far as the broken
condition allows definite tracing, the cerebral convolution impressions
are of the typical pattern.

[Illustration: Fig. 7.]

"The striking feature is the prominent brow ridge due to the large
frontal sinus. The glabella was probably prominent and the margins on
each side are large and rough and extend outwards to the supraorbital
notches. The outer part of the supraorbital margin and the processus
jugalis are thick, coarse and prominent (Fig. 7).

"In norma verticalis the skull is ovoid-pentagonoid euryme-topic with
conspicuous rounded parietal eminences, slight flattening at the
obelion and a convex planum interparietale below it (Fig. 8).

[Illustration: Fig. 8.]

"In norma lateralis the brow ridges are conspicuous; above them is the
sulcus transversus from which the frontal ascends with a fairly uniform
curve to the bregma. The frontal sagittal arc above the ophryon
measures 112 mm. and its chord 116. Behind the bregma the parietals
along the front half of the sagittal suture have a fairly flat outline
to the medio-parietal region, behind which the flattened obelion is
continued downwards with a uniform slope to the middle of the planum
interparietale whence it probably descended by a much steeper curve to
the inion, which is lost. The parietal sagittal arc, including the
region where there was probably a supra-lambdoid ossicle, was about 140
mm. and its chord 121 but the curve is not uniform.

"In norma occipitalis the sagittal suture appears at the summit of a
ridge whose parietal sides slope outwards forming with each other an
angle of 138°, as far as the parietal eminences. From these the sides
drop vertically down to the large mastoid processes. The intermastoid
width at the tips of the processes is 115, but at the supramastoid
crest is 148 (Fig. 9).

[Illustration: Fig. 9.]

"In norma frontalis the conspicuous feature is the brow ridge. This
gives a kind of superficial suggestion of a Neanderthaloid shape, but
the broad and well arched frontal dispels the illusory likeness. The
jugal processes jut out giving a biorbital breadth of 115 mm. while the
least frontal width is 97 and the bistephanic expands to 125. There is
a slight median ridge on the frontal ascending from the ophryon, at
first narrow but expanding at the bregma to 50 mm. The surface of this
elevated area is a little smoother than that of the bone on each side
of it.

"The other long bones are mostly broken at their extremities. The
femora are strong and platymeric. The postero-lateral rounded edge,
which bears on its hinder face the insertion of the gluteus maximus,
taken in connexion with the projection of the thin medial margin of the
shaft below the tuberculum colli inferior causes the upper end of the
shaft to appear flattened. The index of platymeria is ·55. The femoral
length cannot have been less than 471 mm. The man was probably of
middle stature, not a giant as was the Gristhorpe man. The tibiæ are
also broken at their ends, they are eurycnemic (index ·80) with sharp
sinuous shin and flat back, the length may have been between 335 and
340 mm. The humeri are also bones with strong muscular crests, and the
ulnæ are smooth and long. The fibula was channelled. There is nothing
in the bone-features which is inconsistent with the reference of the
skull to the Brachycephalic Bronze Age race.

[Illustration: Fig. 10.]

"In the following Table are recorded the measurements of the different
regions. The two crania which I have selected to compare with it are
(1) a Round-barrow skull from near Stonehenge (No. 179 in our
Collection) and (2) the Gristhorpe skull, to both of which it bears a
very strong family likeness.

                              Shippea  Stonehenge
                               Hill    (No. 179)    Gristhorpe
    Maximal length             194       185           192
    Maximal breadth            153       153           156
    Auricular height           135       132           133
    Biorbital width            115       112           117
    Bistephanic width          128       132           133
    Least frontal width         97       103           106
    Biasterial                 120       127           125
    Auriculo-glabellar radius  116       113           114
    Auriculo-ophryal radius    113       111           105
    Auriculo-metopic radius    134       127           124
    Auriculo-bregmatic radius  137       132           134
    Auriculo-lambdoid radius   104       102           115
    Length and breadth index  78·87     82·7          81·25

"The resemblance to the two Round-barrow skulls of the Bronze Age is
too great to be accidental, so we may regard this as a representative
of that race, possibly at an earlier stage than the typical form of
which the two selected specimens are examples (Fig. 10).

"The mandible also resembles that of the Gristhorpe skull in general
shape of angle and prominence of chin.

"The measurements are as appended:

                              Shippea  Stonehenge
                               Hill    (No. 179)    Gristhorpe
    Condylo mental length      131        --           130
    Gonio mental length        100        --            99
    Bigoniac                   115        --           116
    Bicondylar                 139        --           141
    Chin height                 32        --            33"


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Notes on the Fenland - with A Description of the Shippea Man" ***

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