By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Rude Stone Monuments in All Countries - Their Age and Uses
Author: Fergusson, James
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Rude Stone Monuments in All Countries - Their Age and Uses" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


generously made available by Internet Archive (https://archive.org)

      file which includes the 234 original illustrations.
      Images of the original pages are available through
      Internet Archive. See

Transcriber's note:

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

      The caret symbol (^) indicates that the following character
      is superscripted. (e.g., vig^t).

[Illustration: THE STANDING STONES OF STENNIS. From an original drawing
in the possession of the Author. FRONTISPIECE]


Their Age and Uses.


V.P.R.A.S., F.R.I.B.A., &c.

[Illustration: Demi-Dolmen, Kerland.]

With Two Hundred and Thirty-Four Illustrations.

John Murray, Albemarle Street.

The right of Translation is reserved.

Printed by William Clowes and Sons, Stamford Street,
and Charing Cross.


When, in the year 1854, I was arranging the scheme for the 'Handbook
of Architecture,' one chapter of about fifty pages was allotted to
the Rude Stone Monuments then known. When, however, I came seriously
to consult the authorities I had marked out, and to arrange my ideas
preparatory to writing it, I found the whole subject in such a state
of confusion and uncertainty as to be wholly unsuited for introduction
into a work, the main object of which was to give a clear but succinct
account of what was known and admitted with regard to the architectural
styles of the world. Again, ten years afterwards, while engaged in
re-writing this 'Handbook' as a 'History of Architecture,' the same
difficulties presented themselves. It is true that in the interval
the Druids, with their Dracontia, had lost much of the hold they
possessed on the mind of the public; but, to a great extent, they had
been replaced by prehistoric myths, which, though free from their
absurdity, were hardly less perplexing. The consequence was that then,
as in the first instance, it would have been necessary to argue every
point and defend every position. Nothing could be taken for granted,
and no narrative was possible. The matter was, therefore, a second
time allowed quietly to drop without being noticed. I never, however,
lost sight of the subject, and I hoped some time or other to be able
to treat of it with the fulness its interest deserves; and in order
to forward this project, in July, 1860, I wrote an article in the
'Quarterly Review,' entitled 'Stonehenge,' in which I stated the views
I had then formed on the subject; and again, ten years afterwards, in
April of last year, another article, entitled 'Non-Historic Times' in
the same journal, in which I added such new facts and arguments as I
had gathered in the interval. The principal object it was sought to
attain in writing these articles, was to raise a discussion on the moot
points which I hoped would have tended towards settling them. If any
competent archæologist had come forward, and could have pointed out the
weak point in the argument, he would have rendered a service to the
cause; or if any leading authority had endorsed the views advocated in
these articles, the public might have felt some confidence in their
correctness. This expectation has not been fulfilled, but they have
probably not been without their use in preparing the minds of others
for the views advanced in them, while, as no refutation has appeared,
and no valid objection has been urged against them, either in public
or in private, I may fairly consider myself justified in feeling
considerable confidence in their general correctness.

Till antiquaries are agreed whether the circles are temples or tombs
or observatories, whether the dolmens are monuments of the dead or
altars for sacrificing living men, and whether the mounds are tombs
or law courts, it seems impossible, without arguing every point, to
write anything that will be generally accepted. Still more, till it
is decided whether they are really prehistoric or were erected at
the periods where tradition and history place them, it seems in vain
to attempt to explain in a simple narrative form either their age or
uses. As a necessary consequence of all this confusion, it is scarcely
practicable at present to compile a work which shall be merely a
Historical and Statistical account of the Rude Stone Monuments in all
parts of the world; but till something is settled and agreed upon, we
must be content with one which to a certain extent, at least, takes the
form of an argument. Many of its pages which would have been better
employed in describing and classifying, are occupied with arguments
against some untenable theory or date, or in trying to substitute
for those usually accepted, some more reasonable proposition.
Notwithstanding this, however, it is hoped that this work will be
found to contain a greater number of new facts regarding Rude Stone
Monuments, and of carefully selected illustrations extending over a
larger area, than have yet been put together in a volume of the same

       *       *       *       *       *

It may fairly be asked, and no doubt will, how I dare to set up my
opinions with regard to these monuments in opposition to those of
the best informed antiquaries, not only in this country but on the
Continent? The answer I would venture to suggest is, that no other
antiquary, so far as I am aware, has gone so carefully and fully into
the whole subject, or has faced all the difficulties with which the
questions are everywhere perplexed. The books that have hitherto been
written are either the work of speculative dreamers, like Stukeley,
Higgins, or Vallancey, who having evolved a baseless theory out of
their own inner consciousness, seek everywhere for materials to prop
it up, and are by no means particular as to the inferences they draw
from very obscure or slender hints: or they are, on the other hand,
the works of local antiquaries, whose opinions are influenced mainly
by what they find in their own researches. The works of such men are
invaluable as contributions to the general stock of knowledge, but
their theories must be received with caution, as based on too narrow
a foundation either of facts or inferences; for it need hardly be
insisted upon that no amount of local experience can qualify any one
to write on such a subject as this. It does not even seem sufficient
that an author should be familiar with all the varieties of megalithic
remains. Unless he has also mastered the other forms of architectural
art, and knows in what manner and from what motives the styles of one
people are adopted from or influenced by that of another race, he will
hardly be able to unravel the various tangled problems that meet him at
every step in such an investigation. When looked at, however, from the
same point of view, and judged by the same laws as other styles, that
of the dolmen builders does not appear either mythical or mysterious.
They seem to be the works of a race of men actuated by the same motives
and feelings as ourselves, and the phenomena of their arts do not seem
difficult of explanation.

It is because I have spent the greater part of my life in studying
the architecture of all nations, and through all ages, that I believe
myself entitled to express an opinion on the perplexed questions
connected with megalithic remains, though it differs widely from that
generally received, and that I dare to face the objection which is sure
to be raised that my work is based on too narrow an induction, and that
I have overlooked the evidences of primæval man which exist everywhere.
It is not, however, that I have neglected either the evidence from
the drift, or from the caves, but that I have rejected them as
irrelevant, and because I can hardly trace any connexion between
them and the megalithic remains, to the investigation of which this
work is specially devoted. I have also purposely put on one side all
reference to hut circles, Picts' houses, brochs, and other buildings
composed of smaller stones, which are generally mixed up with the big
stone monuments. I have done this, not because I doubt that many of
these may be coeval, but because their age being doubtful also, it
would only confuse and complicate the argument to introduce them, and
because, whenever the age of the great stones is determined these minor
monuments will easily fit into their proper places. At present, neither
their age or use throws any light either for or against that of the
great stones.

It need hardly be remarked, to anyone who knows anything about the
subject, that the difficulties in the way of writing such a book as
this are enormous, and I do not believe any one could, in a first
edition at all events, avoid all the pitfalls that surround his path.
The necessary information has to be picked up in fragments from some
hundreds of volumes of travels, or the Transactions and Journals of
learned Societies, none of which are specially devoted to the subject,
and very few of which are indexed, or have any general résumé of their
contents. Add to this that the older works are all untrustworthy,
either from the theories they are twisted to support, or from bad
drawing or imperfect knowledge; and too many of the modern examples are
carelessly sketched and still more carelessly engraved. Another source
of difficulty is, that it is rare with readers of papers and writers in
journals to quote references, and sometimes when these are given they
are wrong. I have thus been forced to limit the field from which my
information is taken very considerably. I have tried hard to introduce
no illustration I could not thoroughly depend upon, and I have not
intentionally quoted a single reference I had not verified from the
original authorities.

In one respect I cannot but feel that I may have laid myself open to
hostile criticism. On many minor points I have offered suggestions
which I do not feel sure that I could prove if challenged, and which,
consequently, a more prudent man would have left alone. I have done
this because it often happens that such suggestions turn the attention
of others to points which would otherwise be overlooked, and may lead
to discoveries of great importance; while if disproved, they are only
so much rubbish swept out of the path of truth, and their detection can
do no harm to any one but their author. Whatever my shortcomings, I am
too much in earnest to look forward with any feelings of dismay to such
a contingency.

Besides the usual motives which prompt the publication of such a work
as this, there are two which seem to render its appearance at this time
particularly desirable. The first is to promote enquiry by exciting
interest in the subject; the second is to give precision to future
researches. So long as everything is vague and mythical, explorers do
not know what to observe or record: this work, however, presents a
distinct and positive view of the age or use of the megalithic remains,
and every new fact must tend either to upset or confirm the theory it
seeks to establish. With this view, I need hardly add that I shall
be extremely grateful for any new facts or additional sources of
information which may be communicated to me, either through the public
press or privately. Numerous persons having local experience must know
many things which may have escaped me. It is very probable that these
may induce me to modify some of the details of this work; but so much
is now known, and the field from which my inductions are gathered is so
wide, that I have no fear that they will touch the main arguments on
which the theory of this work is founded.[1]

However this may be, I trust that this work may lay claim to being, in
one respect at least, a contribution to the cause of truth regarding
the much-disputed age and use of these Rude Stone Monuments. It states
distinctly and without reserve one view of the mooted question, and so
openly that any one who knows better can at once pull away the prop
from my house of cards and level it with the ground. If one thing comes
out more clearly than another in the course of this investigation, it
is that the style of architecture to which these monuments belong is a
style, like Gothic, Grecian, Egyptian, Buddhist, or any other. It has
a beginning, a middle, and an end; and though we cannot yet make out
the sequence in all its details, this at least seems clear--that there
is no great hiatus; nor is it that one part is prehistoric, while the
other belongs to historic times. All belong to the one epoch or to the
other. Either it is that Stonehenge and Avebury and all such are the
temples of a race so ancient as to be beyond the ken of mortal man,
or they are the sepulchral monuments of a people who lived so nearly
within the limits of the true historic times that their story can
easily be recovered. If this latter view is adopted, the whole, it
appears to me, hangs so perfectly together, and presents so complete
and so rational an account of all the local or historical facts which
are at present known concerning these remains, that I feel great
confidence that it must eventually be adopted as the true explanation
of the phenomena. If it is it will have this further advantage, that
when any serious attempt is made to investigate either the history or
the manners and customs of these ancient peoples, it is probable that
these megalithic remains will be found to be the best and surest guide.

From the circumstances above detailed, this work would have been a
much more meagre production than it is hoped it will be found, had
it not been for the kindness of many friends who have assisted me in
my undertaking. My chapter on Ireland, for instance, would have been
much less full had not Sir W. Wilde, Mr. Eugene Conwell, and Mr. Moore
assisted me with illustrations and information; and for my knowledge of
Scotch antiquities I owe much to my friend John Stuart, of Edinburgh,
while Sir Henry Dryden's invaluable collections have been of the utmost
service to me both as regards Scotland and Brittany. Professor Säve
and Mr. Hildebrand have materially aided me in Sweden, and M. Riaño
in Spain; but the post apparently suppresses any correspondence on
archæological subjects with France and Denmark. Without the kindness
of Sir Bartle Frere and his elder brother in lending me drawings, or
Colonel Collinson in procuring information, my account of the Maltese
antiquities would have been very much less satisfactory than it is; and
I also owe my best thanks to Mr. Walhouse, of the Madras Civil Service,
and Mr. Burgess, of Bombay, for their assistance in respect to Indian
antiquities. I have tried in the text to acknowledge my obligations to
these and all other parties who have assisted me. If I have omitted
any, I trust they will believe it has not been intentionally, but
through inadvertence.

For myself, I hope I may be allowed to plead that I have spared no
pains in investigating the materials placed at my disposal, and no
haste in forming my conclusions; and I may also add, they are by no
means those of predilection or that I wished to arrive at. When I
first took up the subject, I hoped that the rude stone monuments would
prove to be old,--so old, indeed, as to form the "incunabula" of other
styles, and that we might thus, by a simple process, arrive at the
genesis of styles. Bit by bit that theory has crumbled to pieces as my
knowledge increased, and most reluctantly have I been forced to adopt
the more prosaic conclusions of the present volume. If, however, this
represents the truth, that must be allowed to be an ample compensation
for the loss of any poetry which has hitherto hung round the mystery of
the Rude Stone Monuments.

_Langham Place, Dec. 1, 1871._

    [Footnote 1: What is really wanted now is, a "Megalithic Monument
    Publication Society." After the meeting of the Prehistoric Congress
    at Norwich, a committee for this purpose was formed in conjunction
    with the Ethnological Society. After several meetings everything
    was arranged and settled, but, alas! there were no funds to meet
    the necessary expenses, or, at least, risk of publication, and
    the whole thing fell through. To do what is wanted on a really
    efficient scale a payment or a guarantee of 1000_l._ would be
    necessary, and that is far beyond what is attainable in this poor
    country. If it could be obtained, the materials are abundant.
    Sir Henry Dryden alone could fill a volume with the materials he
    already possesses; and Lieut. Oliver, Mr. Conwell, and others, have
    drawings sufficient to keep the society at work for a long time.]


  INTRODUCTORY                                                  1


  PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS. Tumuli--Dolmens--Circles--Avenues
  --Menhirs                                                    29


  ENGLAND. Avebury and Stonehenge                              61


  Rollright--Penrith--Derbyshire--Stanton Drew--Smaller
  Circles--Dolmens                                            116


  IRELAND. Moytura--Cemeteries--Boyne--Lough
  Crew--Clover Hill--Dolmens                                  175


  SCOTLAND. Orkney Stone Circles--Orkney Barrows--
  Maes-Howe Dragon and Serpent-Knot--Holed Stone of
  Stennis--Callernish--Aberdeenshire Circles--Fiddes
  Hill--Clava Mounds--Stone at Aberlemmo--Sculptured
  Stones--Crosses in Isle of Man                              239


  Battle-fields--Harald Hildetand's Tomb--Long Barrows--
  Tumuli--Dolmens--Drenthe: Hunebeds                          275


  FRANCE. Introductory--Distribution of Dolmens--Age of
  Dolmens--Grottes des Fées--Demi-Dolmens--Rocking Stones--
  Carnac--Locmariaker--Alignments at Crozon--Age of
  the Monuments--What are these Monuments?--They must
  be Trophies--Time of the Fight--M. Bertrand's List of
  Dolmens in Thirty-one Departments of France                 325


  SPAIN, PORTUGAL, AND ITALY. Introductory--Dolmens--
  Portugal--Italy                                             377


  ALGERIA AND TRIPOLI. Introductory--Bazinas and Chouchas--
  Free-Standing Dolmens--Age of Dolmens--Circle near Bona--
  The Nasamones--Origin of African Dolmen-builders--Tripoli:
  Trilithons--Buddhist Monument at Bangkok                    395


  MEDITERRANEAN ISLANDS. Malta--Sardinia--Balearic Islands    415


  WESTERN ASIA. Palestine--Sinai--Arabia--Asia Minor--
  Circassia--The Steppes--Cabul                               438


  INDIA. Introductory--Eastern India--Khassia--Western
  India--Geographical Distribution--Age of the Stone
  Monuments--Comparison of Dolmens--Buddhism in the West      455


  AMERICA. North America--Central America--Peru               510

  APPENDIX A.--Glens Columbkille and Malin                    520

         "     B.--Oden's Howe, &c., Upsala                   526

         "     C.--Antiquities of Caithness                   527

  INDEX                                                       533


FRONTISPIECE.--Standing Stones of Stennis. VIGNETTE.--Demi-Dolmen at

  NO.                                                        PAGE

  1. Section of Tomb of Alyattes                               31

  2. Elevation of Tumulus at Tantalais                         32

  3. Plan and Section of Chamber in Tumulus at Tantalais       32

  4. Section and Plan of Tomb of Atreus at Mycenæ              33

  5. View of Cocumella, Vulci                                  33

  6. View of principal Chamber in Regulini Galeassi Tomb       34

  7. Dolmen in Castle Wellan, Ireland                          46

  8. Dolmen de Bousquet                                        46

  9. Tee cut in the Rock on a Dagoba at Ajunta                 47

  10. Nine Ladies, Stanton Moor                                49

  11. Chambered Tumulus, Jersey                                51

  12. Avenues, Circles, and Cromlech, near Merivale Bridge,
      Dartmoor                                                 55

  13. Lochcrist Menhir                                         60

  14. View of Avebury restored                                 62

  15. Plan of Avebury Circle and Kennet Avenue                 63

  16. Circle on Hakpen Hill                                    76

  17. Section of Silbury Hill                                  78

  18. Iron Bit of Bridle, Silbury Hill                         81

  19. Plan of Avebury                                          81

  20. Elevation of the Bartlow Hills                           83

  21. Marden Circle                                            85

  22. General Plan of Stonehenge                               90

  23. Stonehenge as at present existing                        92

  24. Plan of Stonehenge restored                              93

  25. Tomb of Isidorus, at Khatoura                           100

  26. Country around Stonehenge                               102

  27. Countless Stones, Aylesford                             116

  28. The Sarsen Stones at Ashdown                            122

  29. Sketch Plan of King Arthur's Round Table, with the
      side, obliterated by the road, restored                 128

  30. Arbor Low                                               140

  31. Vases and Bronze Pin found in Arbor Low                 141

  32. Section of Gib Hill                                     141

  33. Summit of Minning Low, as it appeared in 1786           142

  34. Plan of Chambers in Minning Low                         142

  35. Fragment of Drinking Cup from Benty Grange              145

  36. Fragment of Helmet from Benty Grange                    145

  37. Circles at Stanton Drew                                 149

  38. View of the Circles at Stanton Drew                     150

  39. Rose Hill Tumulus                                       154

  40. Snaffle-Bit found at Aspatria                           156

  41. Side Stone, Aspatria Cist                               157

  42. Mule Hill, Isle of Man, View of Cists                   157

  43. Circle of Cists at Mule Hill                            157

  44. Circles on Burn Moor, in Cumberland                     160

  45. Boscawen Circles                                        161

  46. Park Cwn Tumulus                                        163

  47. Tumulus, Plas Newydd                                    166

  48. Entrance to Dolmen, in Tumulus, Plas Newydd             166

  49. Dolmen at Pentre Ifan                                   168

  50. Dolmen at Plas Newydd                                   169

  51. Arthur's Quoit, Gower                                   170

  52. Plan of Arthur's Quoit                                  171

  53. Hob Hurst's House, on Baslow Moor, Derbyshire           172

  54. Circle on Battle-field of Southern Moytura              177

  55. Cairn on Battle-field of Southern Moytura               177

  56. The Cairn of the "One Man," Moytura                     179

  57. Urn in the Cairn of the "One Man," Moytura              179

  58. Battle-field of Northern Moytura                        181

  59. Sketch Plan of Circle 27, Northern Moytura              182

  60. View of Circle 27, Northern Moytura                     183

  61. Dolmen, with Circle, No. 7, Northern Moytura            183

  62. Rath na Riog, or, Cathair of Cormac, at Tara            194

  63. View of Mound at New Grange                             201

  64. New Grange, near Drogheda                               203

  65, 66. Ornaments at New Grange                             205

  67. Branch at New Grange                                    207

  68. Sculptured mark at New Grange, of undecided
      character                                               207

  69. Chambers in Mound at Dowth                              208

  70, 71. Ornaments in Dowth                                  210

  72. Cairn T, at Lough Crew                                  214

  73. The Hag's Chair, Lough Crew                             215

  74. Two Stones in Cairn T, Lough Crew                       216

  75. Cell in Cairn L, at Lough Crew                          217

  76. Stone in Cairn T, Lough Crew                            222

  77. Stones in Sculptured Graves, Clover Hill                223

  78. Dolmen at Knockeen                                      229

  79. Plan of Dolmen at Knockeen                              230

  80. Calliagh Birra's House, north end of Parish of
      Monasterboice                                           230

  81. Plan and Section of Chamber in  Greenmount Tumulus      232

  82. Dolmen of the Four Maols, Ballina                       233

  83. Sketch-Plan of Monument in the Deer Park, Sligo         234

  84. Circle at Stennis                                       242

  85. Dragon in Maes-Howe                                     245

  86. Wurm-Knot, Maes-Howe                                    245

  87. Plan and Section of Maes-Howe                           246

  88. View of Chamber in Maes-Howe                            247

  89. Monument at Callernish                                  259

  90. Circle at Fiddes Hill                                   264

  91. Plan of Clava Mounds                                    266

  92. View of Clava Mounds                                    266

  93. Stone at Coilsfield                                     267

  94. Front of Stone at Aberlemmo, with Cross                 269

  95. Back of Stone at Aberlemmo                              269

  96. Cat Stone, Kirkliston                                   271

  97, 98. Crosses in Isle of Man, bearing Runic
      Inscriptions                                            273

  99. View of Battle-field at Kongsbacka                      279

  100. Part of the Battle-field of Braavalla Heath            281

  101. Harald Hildetand's Tomb at Lethra                      282

  102. Long Barrow, Kennet, restored by Dr. Thurnam           284

  103. Long Barrow at Wiskehärad, in Halland                  288

  104. Battle-field at Freyrsö                                292

  105. Dragon on King Gorm's Stone, Jellinge                  296

  106. Dolmen at Herrestrup                                   303

  107. Dolmen at Halskov                                      304

  108. Dolmen at Oroust                                       306

  109. Diagram from Sjöborg                                   307

  110. Dolmen near Lüneburg                                   308

  111. Double Dolmen at Valdbygaards                          309

  112. Plan of Double Dolmen at Valdbygaards                  309

  113. Triple Dolmen, Höbisch                                 309

  114. View of Interior of Chamber at Uby                     311

  115. Plan of Chamber at Uby                                 311

  116. Dolmen at Axevalla                                     313

  117. Head-stone of Kivik Grave                              314

  118. Graves at Hjortehammer                                 316

  119. Circles at Aschenrade                                  317

  120. Plan of Hunebed near Emmen                             320

  121. Dolmen at Ballo                                        321

  122. Dolmen at Sauclières                                   334

  123. Dolmen at Confolens                                    337

  124. Plan of Dolmen at Confolens                            337

  125. Dolmen near Mettray                                    342

  126. Dolmen at Krukenho                                     342

  127. Holed Dolmen, at Trie                                  344

  128. Dolmen of Grandmont                                    344

  129. Demi-dolmen, Morbihan                                  344

  130. Demi-dolmen, near Poitiers                             347

  131. Demi-dolmen at Kerland                                 347

  132. Pierre Martine                                         347

  133. Pierre Martine, end view                               348

  134. Pierre Branlante, near Huelgoat, in Brittany           348

  135. Map of Celtic Antiquities, near Carnac                 352

  136. Carnac Antiquities, on enlarged Scale                  353

  137. Head of Column at St.-Barbe                            355

  138. Long Barrow at Kerlescant                              356

  139. Hole between Two Stones at Kerlescant                  357

  140. Entrance to Cell, Rodmarton                            357

  141. Vases found at Kerlescant                              357

  142. Plan of Moustoir-Carnac                                358

  143. Section of Moustoir-Carnac                             358

  144. Section of Chamber of Moustoir-Carnac                  359

  145. 146. Sculptures at Mané Lud                            361

  147. View of Dol ar Marchant                                361

  148. End Stone, Dol ar Marchant                             362

  149. Hatchet in Roof of Dol ar Marchant                     362

  150. Stone found inside Chamber at Mané er H'roëk           364

  151. Plan of Gavr Innis                                     364

  152. Sculptures at Gavr Innis                               364

  153. Holed Stone, Gavr Innis                                364

  154. Alignments at Crozon                                   367

  155. View of the Interior of Dolmen at Antequera            383

  156. Plan of Dolmen called Cueva de Menga, near
       Antequera                                              384

  157. Dolmen del Tio Cogolleros                              385

  158. Sepultura Grande                                       386

  159. Plan of Dolmen at Eguilar                              387

  160. Plan of Dolmen at Cangas de Onis                       387

  161. Dolmen of San Miguel, at Arrichinaga                   387

  162. Dolmen at Arroyolos                                    389

  163. Dolmen at Saturnia                                     392

  164. Bazina                                                 397

  165. Choucha                                                398

  166. Dolmen on Steps                                        398

  167. Tumuli, with Intermediate Lines of Stones              399

  168. Group of Sepulchral Monuments, Algeria                 399

  169. Plan and Elevation of African Tumulus                  400

  170. Dolmen with Two Circles of Stones                      401

  171. Dolmens on the Road from Bona to Constantine           402

  172. Four Cairns enclosed in Squares                        402

  173. Tombs near Djidjeli                                    404

  174. Circle near Bona                                       405

  175. Trilithon at Ksaea                                     411

  176. Trilithon at Elkeb                                     412

  177. Buddhist Monument at Bangkok                           413

  178. Giants' Tower at Gozo                                  417

  179. Plan of Monument of Mnaidra                            419

  180. Section through Lower Pair of Chambers, Mnaidra        419

  181. Entrance to Chamber B, Mnaidra, showing Table inside   420

  182. North End of Left-hand Outer Chamber at Mnaidra        421

  183. Plan of Hagiar Khem, partially restored                423

  184. View of Madracen                                       424

  185. Nurhag                                                 428

  186. Nurhag of Santa Barbara                                428

  187. Section and Ground-plan of Nurhag of Santa Barbara     429

  188. Map of La Giara                                        430

  189. Talyot at Trepucò, Minorca                             435

  190. Talyot at Alajor, Minorca                              435

  191. Dolmens at Kafr er Wâl                                 441

  192. Holed Dolmen                                           447

  193. Holed Dolmen, Circassia                                447

  194. Baba                                                   448

  195. Four-cornered Grave                                    448

  196. Tumulus at Alexandropol                                450

  197. Uncovered Base of a Tumulus at Nikolajew               451

  198. Circle near Peshawur                                   452

  199. Circle at Deh Ayeh, near Darabgerd                     453

  200. View in Khassia Hills                                  462

  201. Khassia Funereal Seats                                 463

  202. Menhirs and Tables                                     464

  203. Turban Stone, with Stone Table                         464

  204. Trilithon                                              464

  205. Dolmen at Rajunkoloor                                  468

  206. Plan of Open Dolmen at Rajunkoloor                     468

  207. Closed Dolmen at Rajunkoloor                           468

  208. View of Closed Dolmen at Rajunkoloor                   468

  209. Arrangement of Dolmens at Rajunkoloor                  470

  210. Cairns at Jewurgi                                      472

  211, 212. Sections of Cairn at Jewurgi                      472

  213. Double Dolmen, Coorg                                   473

  214. Tomb, Nilgiri Hills                                    473

  215. Sepulchral Circles at Amravati                         474

  216. Iron Pillar at the Kutub, Delhi                        481

  217. Sculpture on under side of cap-stone of Nilgiri
       Dolmen                                                 483

  218. Dolmen at Iwullee                                      484

  219. Plan of Stone Monuments at Shahpoor                    485

  220. Cross at Katapur                                       486

  221. Dolmen at Katapur                                      487

  222. Dolmen with Cross in Nirmul Jungle                     487

  223. Lanka Ramayana Dagoba                                  490

  224. Dolmen at Pullicondah                                  491

  225. Rail at Sanchi, near Bhilsa                            492

  226. View of the Senbya Pagoda, Burmah                      497

  227. Enclosure in Newark Works, North America               511

  228. Plan of Uprights, Cromlech D I., Columbkille           521

  229. Position of Stones of D III.                           522

  230. Plan of D VI.                                          522

  231. Plan of Cromlechs of Group E.                          523

  232. Horned Cairn, Caithness                                528

  233. Dolmen near Bona, Algeria                              532


The MAP illustrating the distribution of Dolmens to be placed
at the end of the Volume.



SO great and so successful has been the industry recently applied
to subjects of archæological research that few of the many problems
in that science which fifty years ago seemed hopelessly mysterious
now remain unsolved. Little more than forty years have elapsed since
Champollion's discoveries enabled us to classify and understand
the wonderful monuments of the Nile Valley. The deciphering of the
cuneiform characters has in like manner enabled us to arrange and affix
dates to the temples and palaces of Babylon and Nineveh. Everything
that was built by the Greeks and the Romans has been surveyed and
illustrated; and all the mediæval styles that arose out of them have
been reduced to intelligible sequences. The rock-cut temples of India,
and her still more mysterious dagobas, have been brought within the
domain of history, and, like those of Burmah, Cambodia, or China, shown
to be of comparatively modern date. The monuments of Mexico and Peru
may be said still to defy those who are endeavouring to wrest their
secrets from them; but even for these a fairly approximate date has
been obtained. But amidst all these triumphs of well-directed research
there still remains a great group of monuments at our own doors,
regarding whose uses or dates opinions are nearly as much divided as
they were in the days of rampant empiricism in the last century. It is
true that men of science do not now pretend to see Druids sacrificing
their bleeding victims on the altar at Stonehenge, nor to be able to
trace the folds of the divine serpent through miles of upright stones
at Carnac or at Avebury; but all they have yet achieved is simple
unbelief in the popular fallacies, nor have they hitherto ventured
to supply anything better to take their places. They still call the
circles temples, but without being able to suggest to what god they
were dedicated, or for what rites they were appropriate, and, when
asked as to the age in which they were erected, can only reply in the
words of the song, that it was "long long ago."

This state of affairs is eminently unsatisfactory, but at the same time
to a great extent excusable. Indeed it is not at first sight easy to
see how it is to be remedied. The builders of the megalithic remains
were utterly illiterate, and have left no written records of their
erection; nor are there any legible inscriptions on the more important
monuments which would afford any hints to the enquirer. What is even
more disheartening is that in almost every instance they are composed
of rough unhewn stones, not only without any chisel marks, but even
without any architectural mouldings capable of being compared with
those of other monuments, or, by their state of preservation, of giving
a hint as to their relative age.

  "They stand, but stand in silent and uncommunicative majesty."

So silent, indeed, that it is hardly to be wondered at that fanciful
antiquaries have supplied them with voices most discordantly and
absurdly various, or, on the other hand, that the better class of
enquirers have shrunk from the long patient investigations and
thoughtful ponderings which are necessary to elicit even a modicum of
truth from their stolid reticence.

If the investigation into the age and uses of the megalithic remains
were a new subject which had for the first time been taken up some
thirty or forty years ago, it is probable that a solution might have
been obtained before now, or at all events would not be far off. When,
however, an investigation gets into a thoroughly vicious groove, as
this one has done, it is very difficult to rescue it from its false
position. The careless are willing to accept any empirical solutions
that are offered, however absurd they may be, and the thoughtful are
deterred from meddling with an enquiry which has hitherto led only to
such irrational conclusions.

The first of those who, in this country at least, led off the wild
dance was the celebrated Inigo Jones, the architect of Whitehall. It
seems that when King James I. was on a visit to the Earl of Pembroke
at Wilton, he was taken to see Stonehenge, and was so struck with its
majesty and mystery that he ordered his architect to find out by whom
it was built, and for what purpose. Whether the treatise containing the
result of his enquiries was ever submitted to the King is not clear. It
certainly was not published till after its author's death, and though
it shows a very creditable amount of learning and research, the results
he arrived at were very startling. After a detailed statement of the
premises, his conclusions--as condensed in the Life prefixed to his
treatise--were "That it was a Roman temple, inscribed to Cœlus, the
senior of the heathen gods, and built after the Tuscan order."

This theory was attacked by Dr. Charleton, one of the physicians of
Charles II. He had corresponded for some time with Olaus Wormius, the
celebrated Danish antiquary, and struck with the similarity in form and
of construction that existed between the monuments in Denmark and those
of this country, he came to the conclusion that Stonehenge and other
similar monuments were erected by the Danes, and consequently after
the departure of the Romans. This attack on the theory of Inigo Jones
raised the wrath of a Mr. Webb, by marriage a relative, who replied in
a very angry treatise, in which he reiterates all Jones's arguments,
and then, adding a considerable number of his own, he concludes by
triumphantly--as he supposes--restoring Stonehenge to the Romans.[2]

So far no great harm was done; but Dr. Stukeley, who next appeared
in the controversy, was one of the most imaginative of men and one
of the wildest of theorists. His studies had made him familiar with
the Druids, whom classical authorities describe as the all-powerful
priests of the Celtic race, but who had no temples; on the other hand,
his travels made him acquainted with Stonehenge and Avebury, to the
latter of which attention had just been called by the researches of his
friend Aubrey. Here, then, were temples without priests. What could
be so natural as to join these two, though in most unholy matrimony.
Our stone circles must be temples of the Druids! But there was still
one difficulty. What divinities did they worship therein? Cæsar tells
us that the Celts or Celtic Druids principally worshipped Mercury
and some other Roman gods whom he named;[3] but no images of these
gods are found in these temples, nor anything that would indicate a
dedication to their worship. Unfortunately, however, Pliny[4] tells
a very silly tale, how in Gaul the snakes meet together on a certain
day and manufacture from their spittle an egg (_Anguinum_), which,
when complete, they throw aloft, and if any one wants it, he must
catch it in a blanket before it falls to the ground, and ride off with
it on a fleet horse, for if the snakes catch him before he crosses a
running stream, a worse fate than Tam o' Shanter's may befall him! He
then goes on to add that this egg was considered as a charm by the
Druids. From this last hint Dr. Stukeley concluded that the Druids
were serpent-worshippers, and consequently that Stonehenge, Avebury,
&c., were serpent temples--Dracontia, as he calls them, daringly
assuming that a word, which in the singular was only the name of a
plant, was actually applied by the ancients to serpent temples, of the
form of which, however, they were as ignorant as the Doctor himself.
Having advanced so far, it only remained to adapt the English circles
to this newly discovered form of worship, and Avebury was chosen as
the principal illustration. There was a small circle on Hakpen Hill,
which had a stone avenue formed by six or eight stones running east
and west; between West Kennet and Avebury there was another avenue
leading to the circles, but trending north and south. By introducing
a curved piece between these fragments, Hakpen became the head of the
snake, the avenue its body; Avebury a convoluted part of it, and then
a tail was added, a mile long, on the authority of two stones in the
village, and a dolmen, called Long Stone Cove, about halfway between
Avebury and the end of the tail! Stanton Drew and other circles were
treated in the same way; curved avenues, for which there is not a
shadow of authority, except in the Doctor's imagination, were added
wherever required, and serpents manufactured wherever wanted. It never
seems even to have occurred to the Doctor or his contemporaries to ask
whether, in any time or place, any temple was ever built in the form of
the gods to be worshipped therein or thereat, or how any human being
could discover the form of the serpent in rows of stones stretching
over hills and valleys, crossing streams, and hid occasionally by
mounds and earthworks. On a map, with the missing parts supplied, this
is easy enough; but there were no maps in those days, and in the open
country it would puzzle even the most experienced surveyors to detect
the serpent's form.

Had so silly a fabrication been put forward in the present day,
it probably would have met with the contempt it deserves; but the
strangest part of the whole is that it was then accepted as a
revelation. Even so steady and so well informed an antiquary as Sir
Richard Colt Hoare adopts Dr. Stukeley's views without enquiry. His
magnificent works on 'Ancient and Modern Wiltshire,' which are not only
the most splendid, but the most valuable works of their class which
this country owes to the liberality and industry of any individual,
are throughout disfigured by this one great blemish. He sees Druids
and their Dragons everywhere, and never thinks of enquiring on what
authority their existence rests.

It is not of course for one moment meant to contend that there were
not Druids in Europe in ancient days. Cæsar's testimony on this point
is too distinct, and his knowledge was too accurate to admit of any
doubt on this point. It is true, however, that the description of them
given by Diodorus,[5] and Strabo,[6] who mix them up with the bards
and soothsayers, detracts somewhat from the pre-eminence he assigns to
them: but this is of minor importance. The Druids were certainly the
priests of the Celts, and had their principal seat in the country of
the Carnutes, near Chartres, where, however, megalithic remains are
few and far between. Neither Cæsar, however, nor any one else, ever
pretended to have seen a Druid in England. Suetonius met 'Druidæ'
in the Island of Anglesea (Mona),[7] but none were ever heard of in
Wiltshire, or Derbyshire, or Cumberland, where the principal monuments
are situated; nor in the Western Islands, or in Scandinavia. Still
less are they known in Algeria or India, where these megalithic remains
abound. According to the Welsh bards and Irish annalists, there were
Druids in Wales and Ireland before the introduction of Christianity.
But, even admitting this, it does not help us much; as even there they
are nowhere connected with the class of monuments of which we are now
treating. Indeed, it has been contended lately, and with a considerable
show of reason, that the Celts themselves, even in France, had nothing
to do with these monuments, and that they belong to an entirely
different race of people.[8] It is not, in short, at all necessary
to deny either the existence of the Druids or their power. The real
difficulty is to connect them in any way, directly or indirectly, with
the stone monuments: and it seems still more difficult to prove that
the Celts ever worshipped the serpent in any shape or form.[9]

Notwithstanding all this, in the present century, an educated gentleman
and a clergyman of the Church of England, the Rev. Bathurst Deane,
adopts unhesitatingly all that Stukeley and his school had put forward.
He took the trouble of going to Brittany, accompanied by a competent
surveyor, and made a careful plan of the alignments of Carnac.[10] Like
the avenues at Avebury, they certainly bore no resemblance to serpent
forms, to eyes profane, but looked rather like two straight lines
running nearly parallel to one another at a distance of about two miles
apart. But may not an intermediate curvilinear piece some three miles
long have existed in the gap and so joined the head to the tail? It is
in vain to urge that no trace of it now exists, or to ask how any human
being could trace the forms of serpents seven or eight miles long in an
undulating country, and how or in what manner, or to what part of this
strange deity or monster, he was to address his prayers.

It would be incorrect, however, to represent all antiquaries as
adopting the Ophite heresy. Another group have argued stoutly that
Stonehenge was an observatory of the British Druids. This theory was
apparently suggested by views published by Daniell and others of the
observatories erected by Jey Sing of Jeypore at Delhi, Ougein, Benares,
and elsewhere in India. All these, it is true, possess great circles,
but each of all these circles contains a gnomon, which is as essential
a part of such an astronomical instrument as it is of a sun-dial, and
no trace of such a feature, it need hardly be said, occurs in any
British circle. One antiquary, who ought to be better informed,[11]
concluded that Stonehenge was an observatory, because, sitting on a
stone called the Altar on a Midsummer morning, he saw the sun rise
behind a stone called the Friar's Heel. This is the only recorded
observation ever made there, so far as I know; and if this is all, it
is evident that any two stones would have answered the purpose equally
well, and as the Altar stone is sixteen feet long, it allows a latitude
of observation that augurs ill for the Druidical knowledge of the exact
sciences. Neither Mr. Ellis, however, nor Dr. Smith, nor the Rev. Mr.
Duke,[12] nor indeed any of those who have taken up the astronomical
theory, have yet pointed out one single observation that could be made
by these circles that could not be made as well or better without
them. Or, if they were orreries, as is sometimes pretended, no one has
explained what they record or represent in any manner that would be
intelligible to any one else. Till some practical astronomer will come
forward and tell us in intelligible language what observations could be
performed with the aid of the circles of Stonehenge, we may be at least
allowed to pause. Even, however, in that case, unless his theory will
apply to Avebury, Stanton Drew, and other circles so irregular as to be
almost unmeasurable, it will add little to our knowledge.

It might be an amusing, though it certainly must be a profitless,
task to enlarge on these and all the other guesses which have from
time to time been made with regard to these mysterious remains. It
is not, however, probable that theories so utterly groundless will
be put forward again, or, if promulgated, that they will be listened
to in future. The one excuse for them hitherto has been that their
authors have been deprived of all their usual sources of information
in this matter. It is not too much to assert that there is not one
single passage in any classical author which can be construed as
alluding directly or indirectly to the megalithic remains on these
isles or on the continent. With all their learning and industry, the
antiquaries of the last century could only find one passage which, with
all their misapplied ingenuity, they could pervert to their purposes.
It was this--in his second book, Diodorus, quoting from Hecatæus,
mentions that in an island, not less in size than Sicily, and opposite
to Celtica, there existed among the Hyperboreans a circular temple
magnificently adorned.[13] Stukeley and his followers immediately
jumped to the conclusion that the island not less than Sicily and
opposite Gaul must be England, and the circular temple Stonehenge,
which was consequently dedicated to Apollo and the serpent Python, and
our forefathers were the Hyperboreans, and our intercourse with Greece
clear and frequent. It is marvellous what a superstructure was raised
on such a basis. But against it may be urged that the whole of the
second book of Diodorus is dedicated solely to a description of Asia.
In the preceding chapter he describes the Amazons, who, if they ever
existed, certainly lived in that quarter of the globe. In the following
chapters he describes Arabia, and even in this one (xlvii.) he speaks
of the Hyperboreans as inhabiting the northern parts of Asia. By the
utmost latitude of interpretation we might assume this island to have
been in the Baltic--Œsel probably, Gothland possibly, but certainly
not further west. It is impossible Diodorus could be mistaken in the
matter, for in his fifth book he describes the British Isles in their
proper place, and with a very considerable degree of accuracy.[14] But,
after all, what does it amount to? In this island there was a circular
temple. We are not told whether it was of wood or of stone, whether
hypæthral, or roofed, or vaulted, and certainly there is not a shadow
of a hint that it was composed of a circle of rude stones like those in
this country with which the antiquaries of the last century tried to
assimilate it.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is little to be wondered at if all this rashness of speculation
and carelessness in quotation should have produced a belief that the
solution of the problem was impossible from any literary or historical
data, or if consequently our modern antiquaries should have grasped
with avidity at a scheme, first proposed by the Danes, which seemed
at all events to place the question on a scientific basis. No country
could well be more favourably situated for an enquiry of this sort than
Denmark. It is rich in megalithic remains of all sorts. Its tumuli and
tombs seem generally to have been undisturbed; and it was exceptionally
fortunate in having a government with sufficient common sense to enact
a law of treasure-trove, so just and, at the same time, so liberal as
to prevent all metal articles from finding their way to the melting
pot, and governors so intelligent as fully to appreciate the scientific
value of these early remains. In consequence of all this, the museums
at Copenhagen were soon filled with one of the richest collections of
antiquities of this sort that was ever collected, and when brought
together it was not difficult to perceive the leading features that
connected them in one continuous sequence.

First it appeared that there was an age extending into far prehistoric
times, when men used only implements of stone and bone, and were
ignorant of the use of any of the metals; then that an age had
succeeded to this when the use of bronze was known, and also probably
that of gold; and, lastly, that there was a third age, when iron had
been introduced and had superseded the use of all other metals for
weapons of war and utilitarian purposes.

The Danish antiquaries were somewhat divided in opinion as to the exact
period when bronze was first introduced, some carrying it back as far
as 2000 B.C., others doubting whether it was known in Denmark
more than 1000 or 1200 years B.C.; but all agreed that iron
was introduced about the Christian era. Having satisfied themselves on
these points, the Danish antiquaries proceeded at once to apply this
system to the monuments of their country. Any tomb or tumulus which was
devoid of any trace of metal was dated at once at least 1000, probably
2000, years before Christ, and might be 10,000, or 20,000 years old, or
even still older. Any tomb containing bronze was at once set down as
dating between the war of Troy and the Christian era; and if a trace
of iron was detected, it was treated as subsequent to the last-named
epoch, but still as anterior to the introduction of Christianity, which
in Denmark dates about the year 1000 A.D.

This system seemed so reasonable and philosophical, compared with the
wild theories of the British antiquaries of the last century, that it
was instantly adopted both in the country of its birth and in England
and France; and the succession of the three ages--stone, bronze, and
iron--was generally looked upon as firmly established as any fact in
chronology. Gradually, however, it has been perceived that the hard and
fast line at first drawn between them cannot be maintained. At the last
meeting of the International Archæological Congress, held at Copenhagen
in the autumn of 1869, it was admitted on all hands that there was
a considerable overlap between each of the three ages. Men did not
immediately cease to use stone implements when bronze was introduced;
and bronze continued to be employed for many purposes after the use of
iron was well known.[15] Antiquaries have not yet made up their minds
to what extent the overlap took place; but on its determination depends
the whole value of the scheme as a chronometric scale.

If the Danes, instead of breaking up their "finds" and distributing
them in cases according to a pre-conceived system, had kept and
published a careful record of the places where the contents of their
museums were found, and in what juxtaposition, we should not probably
be in our present difficulty. Under the circumstances, it is perhaps
fortunate that we had no central museum, but that our antiquaries have
published careful narratives of their proceedings. Sir Richard Colt
Hoare's great works are models of their class, but are scarcely to be
depended upon in the present instance, as the importance of flint
and flint implements was not appreciated in his time to the extent
it now is.[16] The explorations of the Messrs. Bateman in Derbyshire
are more completely up to the mark of the science of the present day.
A few extracts from one of their works will show how various and how
mixed the contents of even a single group of tombs are, and will prove
consequently how little dependence can be placed on any one class of
objects to fix the age of these monuments.

In his 'Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire,' published in 1848
by Thomas Bateman, we find the following among other interesting facts,
taking them as they are found arranged in his volume, without any
attempt at classification:--

On Winster Moor (p. 20), a gold Greek cross--undoubtedly Christian,
with a fibula of the same metal richly ornamented, and a quantity of
glass and metal ornaments.

Pegges Barrow (p. 24). Several Anglo-Saxon ornaments, most probably of
the seventh or eighth century.

In a barrow at Long Roods (p. 28) were found two urns, with calcined
bones and a brass coin of Constantine, of the type "Gloria exercitus."

In Haddon Field Barrow (p. 30) were found 82 brass coins: among them
Constantine 9, Constans 17, Constantius II. 9, family of Constantine 3,
Urbs Roma 1, Constantinopolis 2, Valentinian 5, Valens 12, Gratian 3.
The remainder illegible.

At Gib Hill, near Arbor Low (p. 31), of which more hereafter, there
were found a flint arrow-head 2½ inches long, and a fragment of a
basaltic celt; also a small iron fibula, and another piece of iron of
indeterminable form.

On Cross Flatts (p. 35) the weapons found with the skeleton were an
iron knife, the blade 5 inches long; a piece of roughly chipped flint,
probably a spear-head; and a natural piece of stone of remarkable form.
A similar iron knife and a stone celt were afterwards found within a
few yards of the barrow, probably thrown out and overlooked when first

In Galley Lowe (p. 37), a very beautiful gold necklace set with
garnets, and a coin of Honorius; but towards the outer edge of the
Lowe, and consequently, as far as position goes, probably later,
another interment, accompanied with rude pottery, a small arrow-head of
grey flint, and a piece of ironstone.

In the great barrow at Minning Lowe (p. 39) were found coins of
Claudius Gothicus, Constantine the Great, Constantine Junior, and

In a smaller barrow close by were found fragments of a coarse,
dark-coloured urn, a flint arrow-head, a small piece of iron, part of a
bridle-bit, and several horses' teeth; lower down, a cist with an iron
knife, with an iron sheath; and on the outer edge another interment,
accompanied by a highly ornamented drinking-cup, a small brass or
copper pin, and a rude spear or arrow-head of dark grey flint.

In Borther Lowe (p. 48) were found a flint arrow-head much burnt and a
diminutive bronze celt.

In Rolley Lowe (p. 55) were found a brass coin of Constantine, and
a brass pin 2-3/4 inches long; and lower down a rude but highly
ornamented urn, and with it two very neat arrow-heads of flint of
uncommon forms; and in another part of the barrow a spear-head of
coarse flint, with the fragments of an ornamented drinking-cup.

In a barrow on Ashford Moor (p. 57) were found, scattered in different
parts, a small iron arrow-head and five instruments of flint.

In Carder Lowe (p. 63) were found several instruments of flint, amongst
the latter a neatly formed barbed arrow-head; and lower down, with the
primary interment, a splendid brass or bronze dagger; a few inches
lower down a beautiful axe hammer-head of basalt. In another part of
the barrow another interment was discovered, accompanied by an iron
knife and three hones of sandstone.

A barrow was opened at New Inns (p. 66), where, along with the
principal interment, was found a beautiful brass dagger, with smaller
rivets than usual; and in another part a skeleton, with two instruments
of flint, and some animal teeth.

In Net Lowe (p. 68), close to the right arm of the principal interment,
a large dagger of brass, with the decorations of its handle, consisting
of thirty brass rivets; two studs of Kimmeridge coal. With the
above-mentioned articles were numerous fragments of calcined flint, and
amongst the soil of the barrow two rude instruments of flint.

At Castern (p. 73), in one part of the mound, an instrument was
found, with a fine spear-head of flint, and a small arrow-head of the
same. In other parts, but in apparently undisturbed earth, a circular
instrument, and various chippings of flint, and the handle of a knife
of stag's horn, riveted in the usual way on to the steel. A similar one
is figured in Douglas's 'Nenia Britannica,' plate 19, fig. 4, as found
with an interment in one of the barrows on Chartham Downs, Kent.

In Stand Lowe (p. 74), on digging towards the centre, numerous flint
chippings and six rude instruments were found, and above the same place
a broken whetstone. The centre being gained, an iron knife was found
of the kind generally attributed to the Saxons. This was immediately
followed by a bronze box and a number of buckles, fibulæ, and articles
of iron, silver, and glass, all showing the principal interment to have
been of very late date. Mr. Bateman adds--"the finding of instruments
of flint with an interment of this comparatively modern description is
rather remarkable, but by no means unprecedented."

In a barrow midway between Wetton and Ilam (p. 79) with the interment
were found three implements of flint of no great interest, some
fragments of an ornamented urn, and an iron pin, similar to the awl
used by saddlers at the present day. Mr. Bateman adds--"one precisely
similar was found in a barrow on Middleton Moor in 1824."

In a second barrow near the same place were found the remains of a
coarse and rudely ornamented urn with its deposit of burnt bones. A
third brass coin of Constantine the Great was also found on the summit,
just under the surface.

In Come Lowe (p. 95), with an interment of a very late period, were
found gold and iron ornaments and glass beads, as well as the usual
chippings of flint and rats' bones.

In Dowe Lowe (p. 96) the most remote interment consisted of two much
decayed skeletons lying on the floor of the barrow about two yards from
its centre; one was accompanied by a fluted brass dagger placed near
the upper bone of the arm, and an amulet of iron ore with a large flint
implement, which had seen good service, lying near the pelvis.

The other tumuli examined by this indefatigable explorer either
contained objects generally of the same class or nothing that was of
interest as marking their age. If his other works, or those of others,
were abstracted in the same way, numerous examples of the same sort
might be adduced. The above, however, are probably sufficient to show
how little reliance can be placed on the hard and fast distinction
between the flint, bronze, and iron ages which have hitherto been
supposed to govern every determination of age in this science. If in a
hundred short pages of one man's work so many instances of overlapping,
and, indeed, of reversal of the usual order of things, can be found, it
is easy to understand how many might be added if other works were also
examined. All, however, that is wanted here is to show that the Danish
system is neither perfect nor final, and that we must look for some
other means of ascertaining the age of these monuments if we are to
come to a satisfactory conclusion regarding them.

The fact is that, though a tomb containing only stone and bone
implements may be 10,000 or 20,000 years old, unless it can also be
shown that stone and bone were no longer used after the Christian era,
it may also be as modern, or more so, than that epoch. Unless, also,
it can be proved that stone implements were never used after iron was
introduced, or that bronze was never employed down to a late period,
this system is of no avail; and after the examples just quoted from the
Bateman diggings, it seems the merest empiricism to assume that the
use of each class of implements ceased on the introduction of another;
and till it can be shown at what date their use did really cease,
any argument based on their presence is of very little value. This,
however, is a task to which no antiquary has yet applied himself; all
have been content to fix the age of the monuments from the assumed age
of their contents, empirically determined. It is a far more difficult
task, however, to ascertain the age of the contents from that of the
monument in which they are found; it is a task that requires an
investigation into the history and circumstances of each particular
example. With the scant materials that exist, this is by no means easy;
but as it seems the only mode by which truth can be arrived at, it is
the task to which we propose to devote the following pages; should it
prove impossible, we may indeed despair.

It is curious to observe how different would have been the fate of this
science, had the Scandinavians followed up the line of investigation
commenced by their writers in the sixteenth century. Olaus Magnus,
for instance, Archbishop of Upsala, writing in 1555, describes the
megalithic remains of Sweden with the sobriety and precision with which
a man in the present day might give an account of the cemeteries of
Kensal-green or of Scutari. Some, he tells us, marked battle-fields,
some family sepulchres, others the graves of greatly distinguished
men.[17] In like manner, Olaus Wormius, in 1643, describes the tombs
of the kings of Denmark as a writer in the present day might the
Plantagenet sepulchres in Westminster Abbey.[18] Neither have any
doubt or hesitation about the matter, and though Dr. Charleton was
hasty in following this author too implicitly in applying his data to
this country, still, so far as I can form an opinion, if that line of
research had been steadily followed out, there would now have been as
little doubt about the age of Stonehenge, as there is about that of
Salisbury Cathedral. Stukeley, however, cut the vessel adrift from the
moorings of common sense, and she has since been a derelict tossed
about by the winds and waves of every passing fancy, till recently,
when an attempt has been made to tow the wreck into the misty haven of
prehistoric antiquity. If ever she reaches that nebulous region, she
may as well be broken up in despair, as she can be of no further use
for human purposes.

       *       *       *       *       *

Whether this will or will not be her fate must depend on the result
of the new impulse which has within the last ten or twelve years been
given to the enquiry. Hitherto it seems certainly to be in a direction
which, it is to be feared, is not likely to lead to any greater degree
of precision in the enquiry. While the Danish "savans" were arranging
their collections in the museums at Copenhagen, M. Boucher de Perthes
was quietly forming a collection of flint implements from the drift
gravels of the valley of the Somme, which far exceeded all hitherto
found in antiquity. For many years his discoveries were ridiculed and
laughed at, till in 1858 the late Hugh Falconer visited his museum at
Abbeville, and being then fresh from his investigations at Kent's Hole
and the Gower Caves,[19] he at once saw their value and proclaimed
it to the world. Since then it has not been disputed that the flint
implements found in the valley of the Somme are the works of man, and
that from the position in which they are found their fabricators must
have lived at a period on the edge of the glacial epoch, and when
the configuration of the continent differed from what it now is, and
when probably the British isles were still joined to France. Similar
implements have before and since been found in Suffolk,[20] and other
parts of England in analogous circumstances, and all allied with a
fauna which was extinct in these parts before historic times.[21] If
you ask a geologist how long ago the circumstances of the globe were
such as these conditions represent, he will answer at once not less
than a million of years! But they deal in large figures, and it is not
necessary to investigate them now. It was a very long time ago.

Even more interesting than these for our present purposes was the
discovery a few years later of human remains in the valleys of the
Dordogne and other rivers of the south of France. Here geology does not
help us, but climatology does. At that time the climate of the south
of France was so cold that the inhabitants of these caves had all the
habits of people now dwelling in the Arctic regions. Their principal
domestic animal was the reindeer, but they were familiar with the
woolly-haired mammoth, the cave bear, and the aurochs. The climate was
so cold that they could throw on one side the débris of their feasts,
and floor their dwelling with marrow bones and offal without dreading
pestilence or even suffering inconvenience. They were, in fact, in
every respect, so far as we have the means of judging, identical with
the Esquimaux of the present day, and must have inhabited a climate
nearly similar to that of Arctic North America. How long ago was this?
We know from the pictures in the tombs near the pyramids that the
climate of Egypt was the same 5000 or 6000 years ago as it is now, and
we have no reason to suppose that, while that of the southern shores of
the Mediterranean remained unchanged, the northern would vary in any
very different ratio. Clearing of forests may have done something, but
never could have accounted for such a change as this. If we take 50,000
or 60,000 years instead of 5000 or 6000, it will not suffice for such a
revolution, though geologists will be wroth if we assume only 100,000;
as a convenient number this will answer our present purposes.

Having at least this space of time at their disposal, the tendency of
modern antiquaries has been to sweep everything into this great gulf.
Why, they ask, may not Stonehenge and Avebury be 10,000, 20,000, or
50,000 years old? Man then existed, and why may he not have erected
such monuments as these? Of course he might, but there is no proof
that he did, and as no single tangible reason has yet been adduced
for supposing them so old, the mere presumption that they might be so
cannot count for much.

To my mind the force of argument seems to tend the other way. If a race
of men lived on the face of the globe for 100,000 years so utterly
unprogressive as these cave men, incapable of discovering the use of
metals for themselves during that long period, or even of adopting them
from Egypt and the East, where bronze certainly, and most probably
iron, were known at least 6000 or 7000 years ago; if this people
used flint and bone during all this period, is it likely that they
would adopt new-fangled implements and new customs the first time they
were presented to them? The Esquimaux have been familiar with the
Danish settlers in Greenland for some centuries, and could easily have
procured improved implements and many of the advantages of civilization
had they been so inclined. They have not been changed a hair's-breadth
by the influence of the stranger. The red man of North America has been
in contact with the white man for centuries now. Has he changed, or
can he change? In Alaska, and to the northward of Vancouver's Island,
there is a race of savages, called Hydahs, with all the artistic tastes
and faculties of the men of the Dordogne caves, and with about the
same degree of civilization.[22] All these are dying out, and may soon
disappear, but they present at this day exactly the same phenomenon as
we see in the south of France, say 10,000 years ago. They have been
exterminated in all the civilized parts of Europe by the progressive
Aryan races who have usurped their places; and it seems only too
certain that, like them, their American kindred must perish before the
growing influence of the white man, but they cannot change. In so far
as we can judge from such facts as are before us, if any family of this
old people still lurked among our hills or on any rocky island, their
habits, or customs, and their implements, would be as like those of
the cave men as those of the Esquimaux or Alaska savages are at the
present day. It appears most unphilosophical to apply to those people
the principles of progress that are found among the higher races of
mankind, and to represent them as eagerly seizing on any improvement
offered them, and abandoning their old faith and their old habits at
the bidding of any wandering navigator that visited their shores.

This is not the place to enter on such an enquiry, but so far as can at
present be seen, it seems that mankind has progressed not so much by
advance within the limits of certain races as by the superposition of
more highly organized races over those of an inferior class. Thus we
have those stone men of the caves who possessed the world for 100,000
or a million of years, and made no more progress in that period than
the animals they were associated with. Even the progress from a chipped
to a polished stone implement seems to have been taught them by a
foreign bronze-using people. We have then such races as the Egyptian,
the Chinese, or the Mexican, who can progress to a certain point, but
stop and cannot go beyond; and, lastly, we have the Aryans, the last
to appear in the field, but the most energetic, and the only truly
progressive race. Our great error in reasoning with regard to the older
races seems to be that we insist on applying to them the reasoning and
principles which guide us, but which are wholly inapplicable to the
less progressive races of mankind.

All this will be plainer in the sequel; but in the meanwhile it may
safely be asserted that, up to this time, no royal road has been
discovered that leads to an explanation of our megalithic antiquities.
No one has yet been able so to classify the contents of cognate
monuments as to construct a chronometric scale which is applicable for
the elucidation of their dates; and no _à priori_ reasoning has been
hit upon that is of the smallest use in explaining either their age or
their peculiarities. The one path that seems open to us is a careful
examination of each individual monument, accompanied by a judicial
sifting of all or any traditions that may attach to it, and aided by a
comparison with similar monuments in other countries. By this means we
have a chance of arriving at a fair proximate degree of certainty; for,
though no one monument will tell its own tale directly, a multitude of
whispers from a great number may swell into a voice that is clear and
distinct and be audible to every one; while no system yet invented,
and no _à priori_ reasoning, can lead to anything but deepening the
ignorance that now prevails on the subject. This is especially true
with regard to the great megalithic circles in this country. With the
rarest possible exceptions, no flint and no bronze or iron implements
have been found within their precincts. They cannot be older than the
invention of flint implements, and iron has been in continuous use
since the art of smelting its ores was first discovered. If, therefore,
they have no written or traditional history which can be relied upon,
their age must for ever remain a mystery. The conviction, however,
under which this book is written is that such a history does exist;
that, when all the traditions attached to the monuments are sifted
and weighed, they amount to such a mass of circumstantial evidence as
suffices to prove the case and to establish the main facts of their
history and use, wholly independently of any system or of any external

Direct literary evidence, in the sense in which the term is usually
understood, cannot be said to exist. As before mentioned, no classical
author alludes, either directly or indirectly, to these megalithic
structures; yet they could not have been ignorant of them if they
existed. When Cæsar and his army witnessed the fight between his
galleys and the fleet of the Veneti in the Morbihan, he must have
stood--if he occupied the best place--on Mont St. Michel, if it then
existed, and among the stone avenues of Carnac. Is it likely that such
an artist would have omitted the chance of heightening his picture by
an allusion to the "standing stones" of Dariorigum? The Romans occupied
Old Sarum probably during the whole time they remained in this island,
and the Via Badonica passed so immediately under Silbury Hill that they
could not have been ignorant of either Stonehenge or Avebury. Nor in
France could they possibly have missed seeing the numerous dolmens with
which the country is covered. Notwithstanding all this, the silence is
absolute. The circular temple of the Hyperboreans is the only thing any
one has ever pretended to quote against this; and that, for reasons
given above being inadmissible, any argument based on it falls to the

Neither Cæsar nor Tacitus, though describing the religious observances
of our forefathers, make any mention of temples; nor, indeed, does
any other classical author. Tacitus[23] tells us that the Germans
worshipped only in groves; and though this is hardly to the point, his
relations with Agricola were so intimate that had the Gauls and Britons
had temples of stone, he could hardly have avoided alluding to them.
The inference from Cæsar and all the other authors is the same, but
there is no direct evidence either way.

There is no passage in any classical authors which connects the Druids,
either directly or indirectly, with any stone temples or stones of any
sort. Dracontia are wholly the creation of Dr. Stukeley's very fertile

So far, therefore, as negative evidence goes, it is complete in showing
that our megalithic circles did not exist in the time of the Romans,
and that they were not temples. Unfortunately, however, no amount of
negative evidence is sufficient to prove an affirmative, though it may
suffice to establish a strong presumption in favour of a particular
view, and, at all events, clears the way for the production of any
direct evidence which we may have. The direct written evidence that has
been adduced is, however, of the most shadowy character. It amounts
to little more than this:--that every allusion to these monuments in
mediæval authors, every local tradition, every scrap of intelligence
we have regarding them, points to a post-Roman origin. No writer, of
any age or country, suggested their being prehistoric or even pre-Roman
before the age of Stukeley,--say 1700.

There is, so far as I know, only one paragraph in any classical
author which mentions a French or British temple; but it belonged to
so exceptional a community that it would hardly be safe to base an
argument upon it. A "hieron," Strabo tells us, existed at the mouth
of the Loire, inhabited by a colony of women who lived apart from
their husbands, but the roof or thatch of the roof of whose temple
was renewed annually:[24] a fact that shows, in the first place, that
it had a roof, and in the second, that it was not a very dignified or
permanent structure.

It would add very much to the clearness of our conception on this
subject if the early Christian writers had left us some descriptions
of the temples of the Britons when the missionaries first came among
them. Though not quite so silent on the subject as the classical
authors, their direct evidence is far from being so complete as
might be wished. One of the passages most distinctly bearing on this
question is found in a letter which Pope Gregory the Great addressed
to the Abbot Millitus, then on a mission to England. In this letter he
instructs him by no means to destroy the temples of the idols belonging
to the English, but only the idols which are found in them; and adds,
"Let holy water be made, and sprinkled over them. Let altars be
constructed, and relics placed on them; insomuch as if these temples
are well constructed, it is necessary that they should be converted
from the worship of dæmons to the service of the true God. So that the
people, seeing their temples are not destroyed, may put away errors
from their hearts, and, acknowledging the true God and adoring Him, may
the more willingly assemble in the places where they were accustomed
to meet."[25] A little further on he adds, in order that no apparent
change may be made, "that on great festivals the people may erect huts
of boughs around those churches which have been converted (commutatæ)
from temples."

The fair inference from this paragraph seems to be that there was so
little difference between the temples of the Pagans and the churches
of the Christians that a little holy water and a few relics--as much
esteemed in the West as in the East in those days--were all that was
required to convert the one into the other.

We gather the same impression from another transaction which took
place at Canterbury about the same time. After taking possession of
the Cathedral, built of old by the Romans,[26] St. Augustine obtained
from the recently converted King Ethelbert the cession of the temple in
which he had been accustomed to worship his idols, and without more ado
dedicated it to St. Pancras, and appropriated it as a burying place for
himself and his successors from the circumstance of its being outside
the walls.[27] We further learn from Gervaise[28] that it was so used
till Cuthbert, the second archbishop, got permission to allow burials
within the walls, and then erected the baptistry of St. John for this
purpose, where apparently Becket's crown now stands. Afterwards the
monastery of SS. Peter and Paul, now St. Augustine's, was erected "in
fundo Templi"--whatever that may mean--but at that time St. Augustine
seems to have accepted the Pagan temples as perfectly appropriate to
Christian rites.

In like manner when King Redwald, after his conversion to Christianity
was persuaded by his wife not rashly to forsake the faith of his
forefathers, he set up two altars side by side in his temple (in fano),
and dedicated the one to Christ, the other to the "victims of the
dæmons."[29] The temple, apparently, was equally appropriate to either.

A still more instructive example is the description of the destruction
of the church at Godmundingham by Coifi--the heathen priest--on his
conversion to Christianity. He first desecrated it by throwing a spear
into it--whether by the door or window we are not told--and then
ordered his people to burn it to the ground with all its enclosures.
These, therefore, must all have been in wood or some equally
combustible material.[30]

All this is not much nor very distinct, but by these passages, and
every hint we have on the subject, it would appear that the temples
of the Pagans, between the departure of the Romans and the time of
Alfred, were at least very similar to those of the Christians. Both
were derived from the same model, which was the temple or basilica of
the Romans, and both were apparently very rude, and generally, we may
infer, constructed of wood. The word circular does not occur in any
description of any Pagan temple yet brought to light, nor the word
stone; nothing, in fact, that would in the remotest degree lead us to
suppose that Bede, or any one else, was speaking or thinking of the
megalithic monuments with which we are now concerned.

Although the classical authorities are silent regarding these rude
stone monuments, and contemporary records help us very little in
trying to understand the form of the temples in which our forefathers
worshipped, till they were converted to Christianity, still the Decrees
of the Councils render it quite certain that Rude Stone Monuments were
objects of veneration--certainly in France, and, by implication, in
England--down to the times of Charlemagne and Alfred, at least.

One often-quoted decree of a Council, held at Nantes, exhorts "Bishops
and their servants to dig up, and remove, and hide in places where they
cannot be found, those stones which in remote and woody places are
still worshipped, and where vows are still made."[31] Unfortunately
the date of this Council is not certain; but Richard places it in
658, which is probably at least nearly correct.[32] This, however,
is of comparatively little consequence, as in 452 a Council at Arles
decreed that "if, in any diocese, any infidel either lighted torches
or worshipped Trees, Fountains, or Stones, or neglected to destroy
them, he should be found guilty of sacrilege;"[33] and about a century
later (567), a Council at Tours exhorts the clergy to excommunicate
those who, at certain Stones or Trees or Fountains, perpetrate things
contrary to the ordinances of the Church.[34]

Still another century further on (681), a Council held at Toledo
admonishes those who worship Idols or venerate Stones, those who light
torches or worship Fountains or Trees, that they are sacrificing
to the devil, and subject themselves to various penalties, &c.[35]
Another Council held in the same city, in the year 692, enumerates
almost in the same words the various heresies which were condemned by
the preceding Council.[36] A Council at Rouen, about the same time,
denounces all who offer vows to Trees or Fountains or Stones as they
would at altars, or offer candles or gifts, as if any divinity resided
there capable of conferring good or evil.[37]

Lastly, a decree of Charlemagne, dated Aix-la-Chapelle in 789, utterly
condemns and execrates before God Trees, Stones, and Fountains, which
foolish people worship.[38]

Even as late as in the time of Canute the Great, there is a statute
forbidding the barbarous adoration of the Sun and Moon, Fire,
Fountains, Stones, and all kinds of Trees and Wood.[39]

The above which are taken from Keysler[40] are not all he quotes,
nor certainly all that could be added, if it were worth while, from
other sources; but they are sufficient to show that, from Toledo to
Aix-la-Chapelle--and from the departure of the Romans till the tenth,
or probably the eleventh century--the Christian priesthood waged a
continuous but apparently ineffectual warfare against the worship of
Stones, Trees, and Fountains. The priests do not condescend to tell
us what the forms of the Stones were which these benighted people
worshipped, whether simple menhirs or dolmens, or "grottes des fées,"
nor why they worshipped them; whether they considered them emblems
of some unnamed and unknown God, or memorials of deceased ancestors,
in whose honour they lighted candles, and whom they propitiated with
offerings. Nor do they tell us what the form of that worship was;
they did not care, and perhaps did not know. Nor do we; for, except
an extreme veneration for their dead, and a consequent ancestral
worship,[41] mixed with a strange adoration of Stones, Trees, and
Fountains, we do not know now what the religion was of these rude
people. The testimony of these edicts is, therefore, not quite so
distinct as we might wish, and does not enable us to assert that the
Rude Stone Monuments, whose age and uses we are trying to ascertain,
were those alluded to in the preceding paragraphs. But what it
does seem to prove is, that down to the 11th century the Christian
Priesthood waged a continuous warfare against the veneration of some
class of Rude Stone Monuments, to which the pagan population clung with
remarkable tenacity, and many, if not most of which may consequently
have been erected during that period. This is, at all events,
infinitely more clear and positive than anything that has been brought
forward in favour of their prehistoric antiquity. If, like the other
branches of the written argument, this is not sufficient to prove, by
itself, that the monuments were generally or even frequently erected
after the Christian era, it certainly entitles that assertion to a fair
_locus standi_ in the argument we are attempting to develop.

       *       *       *       *       *

If, however, the pen has been reticent and hesitating in its testimony,
the spade has been not only prolific but distinct. It is probably
not an exaggeration to say that three-fourths of the megalithic
monuments--including the dolmens, of course--have yielded sepulchral
deposits to the explorer, and, including the tumuli, probably
nine-tenths have been proved to be burial places. Still, at the present
stage of the enquiry, it would be at least premature to assume that
the remaining tenth of the whole, or the remaining fourth of the stone
section, must necessarily be sepulchral. Some may have been cenotaphic,
or simply monuments, such as we erect to our great men--not necessarily
where the bodies are laid. Some stones and some tumuli may have been
erected to commemorate events, and some mounds certainly were erected
as "Motes" or "Things"--places of judgment or assembly. In like manner
some circles may have been originally, or may afterwards have been
used as places of assembly, or may have been what may more properly be
called temples of the dead, than tombs. These, however, certainly are
the exceptions. The ruling idea throughout is still of a sepulchre,
with what exceptions, and at what age erected, is the thesis which we
now propose to investigate.

At present these are mere assertions, and it is not pretended that
they are more, and they are only brought forward in this place in order
to enunciate the propositions it is hoped we may be able to prove as we
advance in this enquiry. These are,--

First, that the Rude Stone Monuments with which we are concerned are
generally sepulchral, or connected directly, or indirectly, with the
rites of the dead.

Secondly, that they are not temples in any usual or appropriate
sense of the term, and, Lastly,--that they were generally erected by
partially civilized races after they had come in contact with the
Romans, and most of them may be considered as belonging to the first
ten centuries of the Christian Era.

In stating these three propositions so broadly, it must be borne in
mind, that the evidence on which their proof or disproof rests is
eminently cumulative in its character; not perhaps with regard to the
use to which the monuments were applied, that probably will be admitted
as settled, as so large a proportion of the tumuli can be shown to have
a fair title to a sepulchral character, and most of the stone monuments
can equally lay claim to being erected for the same purpose to which
one-half of them have been certainly proved to have been dedicated.
This is the more clear, as, on the other hand, in spite of every
surmise or conjecture, no one monument of the class we are treating of
can be proved to have been erected as a temple, or as intended for any
civic or civil purpose.

With regard to their age, the case is not quite so easily settled.
Except such monuments as those of Gorm and Thyra, and one or two
others, to be mentioned hereafter, few can produce such proof of their
age as would stand investigation in a court of law. But when all the
traditions, all the analogies, and all the probabilities of the case
are examined, they seem to make up such an accumulation of evidence
as is irresistible; and the whole appears to present an unbroken and
intelligible sequence which explains everything. The proof of all this,
however, does not rest on the evidence of two or three, or even of a
dozen, of instances, but is based upon the multiplication of a great
number of coincidences derived from a large number of instances, which
taken together in the cumulative form, make up a stronger body of
proof than could be obtained from the direct testimony of one or two
cases. To appreciate this, however, the whole must be taken together.
To try to invalidate it by selecting one or two prominent cases, where
the proof is manifestly insufficient when taken by itself, is to
misunderstand and misrepresent the whole force of the argument.

One point, I fancy, there will be very little difficulty in proving,
which is, that the whole form one continuous group, extending in an
unbroken series, from the earliest to the latest. There is no hiatus
or break anywhere; and if some can be proved to belong to the 10th
century, it is only a question how far you can, by extenuating the
thread, extend it backwards. It can hardly be much beyond the Christian
era. It seems that such a date satisfies all the known conditions of
the problem, in so far as the Stone Monuments at least are concerned.
There is, so far as I know at present, absolutely no evidence on the
other side, except what is derived from the Danish system of the three
ages: if that is established as a rule of law, _cadit questio_, there
is no more to be said on the subject. But this is exactly what does not
appear to have yet been established on any sufficient or satisfactory
basis. There need be no difficulty in granting that men used stone and
bone for implements, before they were acquainted with the use of the
metals. It may also be admitted, that they used bronze before they
learned the art of extracting iron from its ores. But what is denied
is, that they abandoned the use of these primitive implements on the
introduction of the metals; and it is contended that they employed
stone and bone simultaneously with bronze and iron, down to a very late
period. The real fact of the case seems to be, that the people on the
shores of the Baltic and the North Sea, were as remote from the centres
of civilization on the Mediterranean and to the eastward of it in the
earlier centuries of our era, and were as little influenced by them,
as the inhabitants of the islands in the Pacific and Arctic America
were by Europe in the last century. In the remote corners of the world,
a stone and bone age exists at the present day, only modified by the
use of such metal implements as they can obtain by barter or exchange:
and this appears to have been the state of northern Europe, till, with
their conversion to Christianity, the new civilization was domesticated
among its inhabitants.

    [Footnote 2: Those three treatises were afterwards republished in
    one volume, small folio, with all the plates, &c., in London, 1725.
    It is from this volume that the above is abstracted.]

    [Footnote 3: Cæsar, 'De Bell. Gal.' vi 13-20.]

    [Footnote 4: 'Hist. Nat.' xxix. 3.]

    [Footnote 5: 'Historia,' v. 31.]

    [Footnote 6: 'Geographica,' iv. 273.]

    [Footnote 7: Tacitus, 'Ann.' xiv. 29.]

    [Footnote 8: See controversy between M. Bertrand and M. Henri
    Martin, in volume of 'Congrès préhistorique' (Paris, 1867), 193,
    207, &c. See also 'Revue archéologique,' août, 1864, 144.]

    [Footnote 9: For further information on the subject, the reader is
    referred to 'Tree and Serpent Worship,' by the author, p. 26 _et
    seq._, where the subject is treated of at length.]

    [Footnote 10: 'Archæologia,' xxv. 188 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 11: Mr. Ellis, 'Gent. Mag.' 4th series, ii. 317.]

    [Footnote 12: 'Proceedings of the Archæological Institute,
    Salisbury,' volume 113.]

    [Footnote 13: Diodorus, ii. 47.]

    [Footnote 14: Ibid. v. 21 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 15: The volume containing the account of the proceedings
    of the congress has not yet been published; so those who were not
    present cannot feel sure to what extent these modifications were
    carried or admitted. A short account of the Congress was published
    by Gen. Lefroy, in the 'Journal of the Archæological Institute,'
    Nov. 1869, p. 58 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 16: "According to an analysis made by Sir John Lubbock,
    of the contents of 250 tumuli described by Sir Richard Colt Hoare,
    in the first volume of his 'Ancient Wiltshire,' 18 only had any
    implements of stone, only 31 of bone, 67 of bronze, and 11 of iron,
    while one-half of them contained nothing to indicate their age; but
    whether those that contained nothing are earlier or more modern is
    by no means clear."--_Prehistoric Times_, 2nd edit. p. 131.]

    [Footnote 17: "Veterum Gothorum et Suevorum antiquissimus mos
    est ut ubi acriores in campis seu montibus instituissent et
    perfecissent pugnas, illic erectos lapides quasi Egyptiacas
    pyramides collocare soliti sunt ... Habent itaque hæc saxa in
    pluribus locis erecta longitudine x. vel xv. XX. aut xxx. et
    amplius et latitudine iv. vel vi, pedum, mirabili situ sed
    mirabiliori ordine et mirabilissimo charactere, ob plurimas
    rationes collocata literato, rectoque et longo ordine videlicet
    pugilarum certamina, quadrato, turmas bellantium, et spherico
    familiarum designantia sepulturas ac cuneato equestrium et
    pedestrium acies ibidem vel prope fortunatum triumphasse," &c.
    &c.--_De Gentibus Septentrionalibus_, &c. p. 48.

    Or again:--"Quos humi recondere placuit honorabiles statuas lapidum
    excelsorum prout hodie cernuntur mira compagine in modum altissimæ
    et latissimæ januæ, sursum transversumque viribus gigantum
    erecta."--_Ibid._ 49.]

    [Footnote 18: 'Danicorum Monumentorum,' libri sex, 22 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 19: 'Memoirs of Hugh Falconer,' by Dr. Murchison, ii. p.

    [Footnote 20: In 1797, Mr. John Frere found flint implements
    identical with those at Abbeville, and published an account of
    them, with engravings, in vol. xiii. of the 'Archæologia,' in 1800.]

    [Footnote 21: In the first years of the last century a flint
    implement, together with some bones of the _Elephas primigenus_,
    were found in an excavation in Gray's Inn Lane. An engraving of
    it was published in 1715, and the implement itself is now in the
    British Museum.]

    [Footnote 22: For the last, and one of the best, accounts of the
    Hydahs, see 'Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society,' vol.
    xiii. No. V. p. 386 _et seq._, by Mr. Brown.]

    [Footnote 23: 'Germania,' 9.]

    [Footnote 24: Strabo, iv. p. 198.]

    [Footnote 25: Bede, 'Hist. Eccles.' i. 30.]

    [Footnote 26: "Inibi antiquo Romanorum fidelium opere factam,"
    Bede, 'Hist. Eccles.' i. 32.]

    [Footnote 27: Thorn, 'Dec. Script. Col.' 1760:--"Erat autem non
    longe ab ipsa civitate ad orientem quasi medio itinere inter
    ecclesiam Sti. Martini et muros civitatis Phanum sive ydolum situm
    ubi rex Ethelbertus secundus ritum gentis suæ solebat orare et
    cum nobilibus suis dæmoniis et non deo sacrificare. Quod Phanum
    Augustinus ab iniquinamentis et sordibus gentilium purgavit et
    simulacro quod in eo erat infracto, synagogam mutavit in ecclesiam,
    et eam in nomine Sti. Pancratii martyris dedicavit."

    Of this "Fane" we further learn from Godselinus ('Leland Collect.'
    vol. iv. p. 8), that "extat adhuc condita ex longissimis et
    latissimis lateribus more Britannico ut facile est videre in muris
    Verolamiensibus," and may now be seen in this very church at
    Canterbury. "Basilica Sti. Pancratii nunc est ubi olim Ethelbertus
    idolum suum coluit. Opus exiguum structum tamen de more veterum

    [Footnote 28: Gervaise, 'Acc. Pont. Cant.' p. 1640.]

    [Footnote 29: Bede, 'Hist. Eccles.' ii. 15.]

    [Footnote 30: "Succendere fanum cum omnibus septis suis," Bede,
    'Hist. Eccles.' ii. 13.]

    [Footnote 31: Summo decertare debent studio episcopi et eorum
    ministri ut--_Lapides_ quoque, quos in ruinosis locis et
    silvestribus, demonum ludificationibus decepti venerantur ubi et
    vota vovent et deferunt, funditus effodiantur, atque in tali loco
    projiciantur ubi nunquam a cultoribus suis inveniri possint et
    omnibus annunciatur quantum scelus est idolatria.--Labbeum, t. ix.

    [Footnote 32: Richard, 'Analyse des Conciles,' i. 646.]

    [Footnote 33: Si in alicujus episcopi territorio infideles, aut
    faculas accendunt, aut arbores, fontes vel _Saxa_ venerentur si hoc
    eruere neglexerit, sacrilegii reum se esset cognoscat.--Labb., iv.

    [Footnote 34: Contestamur illam solicitudinem tam pastores quam
    presbyteros, gerere ut quemcunque in hac fatuitate persistere
    viderint, vel ad nescio quas _petras_ aut arbores vel fontes,
    designata loca gentilium perpetrare, quæ ad ecclesiæ rationem non
    pertinent eos ab ecclesia sancta auctoritate repellant.--Baluz, i.

    [Footnote 35: Cultores idolorum, veneratores _Lapidum_, accensores
    facularum excolentes sacra fontium vel arborum admonemus,
    &c.--Baluz, vi. 1234.]

    [Footnote 36: Illi diversis suadelis decepti cultores idolorum
    efficiuntur, veneratores _Lapidum_, accensores facularum,
    excolentes sacra fontium vel arborum, &c.--Baluz, vi. 1337.]

    [Footnote 37: Si aliquis vota ad arbores, vel fontes, vel ad
    _Lapides_ quosdam, quasi ad altaria, faciat aut ibi candelam, seu
    quolibet munus deferet velut ibi quoddam Numen sit quod bonum aut
    malum possit inferre.--Baluz, 1. 2, p. 210.]

    [Footnote 38: Item de arboribus vel _Petris_ vel fontibus ubi
    aliqui stulti luminaria vel aliquas observationes faciunt omnino
    mandamus, ut iste pessimus usus et deo execrabilis ubicunque
    invenitur tolletur et distruatur.--Baluz, t. i. p. 235.]

    [Footnote 39: Barbara est autem adoratio, sive quas idola (puta
    gentium divos), Solem, Lunam, Ignem, Profluentem, Fontes, _Saxa_,
    cujusque generis arbores lignam coluerunt.--Keysler, 'Antiquitates
    Septemtrion.' (Hanoveræ, 1720), p. 18. He quotes also a canon of
    Edgar (967) to the same effect.]

    [Footnote 40: 'Ant. Sept.' chap. ii.]

    [Footnote 41: Laing in his wrath seems to have, by accident, very
    nearly guessed the truth, when, refuting the authenticity of
    Ossian, he accuses Macpherson of "having rendered the Highlanders a
    race of unheard-of infidels, who believed in no Gods but the ghosts
    of their fathers."]



Before attempting to examine or describe particular instances--in
which, however, the main interest of the work must eventually be
centred--it would add very much to the clearness of what follows if
a classification could be hit upon, which would correctly represent
the sequence of forms. In the present state of our knowledge such an
arrangement is hardly possible, still the following 5 groups, with
their sub-divisions, are sufficiently distinct to enable them to be
treated separately, and are so arranged as roughly to represent what we
know of their sequence, with immense overlappings, however, on every

  I.--TUMULI     _a._ Or barrows of earth only.
                 _b._ With small stone chambers or cists.
                 _c._ With megalithic chambers or dolmens.
                 _d._ With external access to chambers.

  II.--DOLMENS   _a._ Free standing dolmens without tumuli.
                 _b._ Dolmens upon the outside of tumuli.

  III.--CIRCLES  _a._ Circles surrounding tumuli.
                 _b._ Circles surrounding dolmens.
                 _c._ Circles without tumuli or dolmens.

  IV.--AVENUES   _a._ Avenues attached to circles.
                 _b._ Avenues with or without circles or dolmens.

  V.--MENHIRS    _a._ Single or in groups.
                 _b._ With oghams, sculptures, or runes.


The first three of the sub-divisions of the first class are so
mixed together that it is almost impossible in the present state of
our knowledge to separate them with precision either as to date or
locality, while, as they hardly belong to the main subject of this
book, it will not be worth while to attempt it here.

Without being too speculative, perhaps, it may be assumed that the
earliest mode in which mankind disposed of the bodies of their deceased
relatives or neighbours was by simple inhumation. They dug a hole in
the earth, and, having laid the body therein, simply replaced the
earth upon it, and to mark the spot, if the person so buried was of
sufficient importance to merit such care, they raised a mound over the
grave. It is difficult, however, to believe that mankind were long
content with so simple a mode of sepulture. To heap earth or stones on
the body of the beloved departed so as to crush and deface it, must
have seemed rude and harsh, and some sort of coffin was probably early
devised for the protection of the corpse,--in well-wooded countries,
this would be of wood, which, if the mound is old, has perished long
ago--in stony countries, as probably of stone, forming the rude cists
so commonly found in early graves. That these should expand into
chambers seems also natural as civilization advanced, and as man's
ideas of a future state and the wants and necessities of such a future
became more developed.

The last stage would seem to be when access was retained to the
sepulchral chamber, in order that the descendants of the deceased might
bring offerings, or supply the wants of their relative during the
intermediate state which some nations assumed must elapse before the
translation of the body to another world.

It is probable that some such stages as these were passed through by
all the burying races of mankind, though at very various intervals
and with very different details, while fortunately for our present
subject it seems that the earliest races were those most addicted to
this mode of honouring their dead. All mankind, it is true, bury their
dead either in the flesh or their ashes after cremation. It is one of
those peculiarities which, like speech, distinguish mankind from the
lower animals, and which are so strangely overlooked by the advocates
of the fashionable theory of our ape descent. All mankind, however,
do not reverence their dead to the same extent. The peculiarity is
most characteristic of the earlier underlying races, whom we have
generally been in the habit of designating as the Turanian races of
mankind. But if that term is objected to, the tomb-building races may
be specified--beginning from the East--as the Chinese; the Monguls in
Tartary, or Mogols, as they were called, in India; the Tartars in
their own country, or in Persia; the ancient Pelasgi in Greece; the
Etrurians in Italy; and the races, whoever they were, who preceded the
Celts in Europe. But the tomb-building people, _par excellence_, in the
old world were the Egyptians. Not only were the funereal rites the most
important element in the religious life of the people, but they began
at an age earlier than the history or tradition of any other nation
carries us back to. The great Pyramid of Gizeh was erected certainly as
early as 3000 years before Christ; yet it must be the lineal descendant
of a rude-chambered tumulus or cairn, with external access to the
chambers, and it seems difficult to calculate how many thousands of
years it must have required before such rude sepulchres as those our
ancestors erected--many probably after the Christian era--could have
been elaborated into the most perfect and most gigantic specimens of
masonry which the world has yet seen. The phenomenon of anything so
perfect as the Pyramids starting up at once, absolutely without any
previous examples being known, is so unique[42] in the world's history,
that it is impossible to form any conjecture how long before this
period the Egyptians tried to protect their bodies from decay during
the probationary 3000 years.[43]

[Illustration: 1. Section of Tomb of Alyattes. From Spiegelthal. No

Outside Egypt the oldest tumulus we know of, with an absolutely
authentic date, is that which Alyattes, the father of Crœsus,
king of Lydia, erected for his own resting-place before the year 561
B.C. It was described by Herodotus,[44] and has of late years
been thoroughly explored by Dr. Olfers.[45] Its dimensions are very
considerable, and very nearly those given by the father of history. It
is 1180 feet in diameter, or about twice as much as Silbury Hill, and
200 feet in height, as against 130 of that boasted monument. The upper
part, like many of our own mounds, is composed of alternate layers of
clay, loam, and a kind of rubble concrete. These support a mass of
brickwork, surmounted by a platform of masonry; on this still lies one
of Steles, described by Herodotus, and another of the smaller ones was
found close by.

[Illustration: 2. Elevation of Tumulus at Tantalais. From Texier's
'Asie Mineure.' 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 3. Plan and Section of Chamber in Tumulus at Tantalais.]

There is another group of tombs, called those of Tantalais, found near
Smyrna, which are considerably older than those of Sardis, though their
date cannot be fixed with such certainty as that last described. Still
there seems no good reason for doubting that the one here represented
may be as old as the eleventh or twelfth century B.C., nor
does it seem reasonable to doubt but these tumuli which still stand on
the plain of Troy do cover the remains of the heroes who perished in
that remarkable siege.[46]

A still more interesting group, however, is that at Mycenæ, known
as the tombs or treasuries of the Atridæ, and described as such by
Pausanias.[47] The principal, or at least the best preserved of these,
is a circular chamber, 48 feet 6 inches in diameter, covered by a
horizontal vault, and having a sepulchral chamber on one side. Dodwell
discovered three others of the five mentioned by Pausanias,[48] and
he also explored the sepulchre of Minyas at Orchomenos, which had a
diameter of 65 feet.

[Illustration: 4. Section and Plan of Tomb of Atreus at Mycenæ. Scale
of plan 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 5. View of Cocumella, Vulci.]

Another group of tombs, contemporary or nearly so with these, are
found in the older cemeteries of the Etrurians at Cœre, Vulci, and
elsewhere. One of the largest of these is one called Cocumella, at
Vulci, which is 240 feet in diameter, and must originally have been
115 to 120 feet in height. Near the centre rise two steles, but so
unsymmetrically that it is impossible to understand why they were
so placed and how they could have been grouped into anything like a
complete design. The sepulchre, too, is placed on one side.

A still richer and more remarkable tomb is that known as the Regulini
Galeassi Tomb at Cœre, the chamber of which is represented in the
annexed woodcut.

[Illustration: 6. View of principal Chamber in Regulini Galeassi Tomb.]

It is filled, as may be seen, with vessels and furniture, principally
of bronze and of the most elaborate workmanship. The patterns on these
vessels are so archaic, and resemble so much some of the older ones
found at Nineveh, whose dates are at least approximately known, that we
may safely refer the tomb to an age not later than the tenth century

We have thus around the eastern shores of the Mediterranean a group of
circular sepulchral tumuli of well defined age. Some, certainly, are as
old as the thirteenth century B.C., others extend downwards
to, say 500 B.C. All have a podium of stone. Some are wholly
of that material, but in most of them the cone is composed of earth,
and all have sepulchral chambers built with stones in horizontal
layers, not so megalithic as those found in our tumuli, but of a more
polished and artistic form of construction.

The age, too, in which these monuments were erected was essentially
the age of bronze; not only are the ornaments and furniture found in
the Etruscan tombs generally of that metal, but the tombs at Mycenæ
and Orchomenos were wholly lined with it. The holes into which the
bronze nails were inserted still exist everywhere, and some of the
nails themselves are in the British Museum. It was also the age in
which Solomon furnished his temple with all those implements and
ornaments in brass--properly bronze--described in the Bible,[50] and
the brazen house of Priam and fifty such expressions show how common
the metal was in that day. All this, however, does not prove that iron
also was not known then. In the Egyptian paintings iron is generally
represented as a blue metal, bronze as red, and throughout they are
carefully distinguished by these colours. Now, in the tombs around the
pyramids, and of an age contemporary with them, there are numerous
representations of blue swords as there are of red spear-heads, and
there seems no reason for doubting that iron was known to the Greeks
before the war of Troy, to the Israelites before they left Egypt (1320
B.C.), or to the Etruscans when they first settled in Italy.
Hesiod's assertion that brass was known before iron may or may not be
true.[51] In so far as his evidence is concerned we learn from it that
iron was certainly in use long before his time (800 B.C.); so
long indeed that he does not pretend to know when or by whom it was
invented, and the modes of manufacturing steel--ἀδάμασ--seem also
to have been perfectly known in his day.

In India, too, as we shall see when we come to speak of that country,
the extraction of iron from its ores was known from the earliest ages,
and in the third or fourth century of our era reached a degree of
perfection which has hardly since been surpassed. The celebrated iron
pillar at the Kutub, near Delhi, which is of that age, may probably
still boast of being the largest mass of forged iron that the world yet
possesses, and attests a wonderful amount of skill on the part of those
who made it.

When from these comparatively civilized modes of sepulture we turn to
the forms employed in our own country, as described by Thurnam[52]
or Bateman,[53] we are startled to find how like they are, but, at
the same time, how infinitely more rude. They are either long barrows
covering the remains of a race of dolicocephalic savages laid in
rudely-framed cists, with implements of flint and bone and the coarsest
possible pottery, but without one vestige of metal of any sort, or
circular tumuli of a brachycephalic race shown to have been slightly
more advanced by their remains being occasionally incinerated, and
ornaments of bronze and spear-heads of that metal being also sometimes
found buried in their tombs.

According to the usual mode of reasoning on these subjects, the
long-headed people are older than the broad-pated race, the one
superseding the other, and both must have been anterior to the people
on the shores of the Mediterranean, for these were familiar with the
use of both metals, and fabricated pottery which we cannot now equal
for perfection of texture and beauty of design.

The first defect that strikes one in this argument is that if it proves
anything it proves too much. We certainly have sepulchral barrows in
this country of the Roman period, the Bartlow hills, for instance--of
which more hereafter--and Saxon grave mounds everywhere; but according
to this theory not one sepulchre of any sort between the year 1200
B.C. and the Christian era. All our sepulchres are ruder, and
betoken a less advanced stage of civilization than the earliest of
those in Greece or Etruria, and therefore, according to the usually
accepted dogma, must be earlier.

It may be argued, however, that several are older than the Argive
examples. That the Jersey tomb (woodcut No. 11), notwithstanding the
coin of Claudius, is older, because more rude, than the Treasury at
Mycenæ (woodcut No. 4); but that the Bartlow hills and the Derbyshire
dolmens and tumuli above alluded to (page 11 et seq.), containing
coins of Valentinian and the Roman Emperors, are more modern. Such an
hypothesis as this involves the supposition that there is a great gap
in the series, and that after discontinuing the practice for a 1000
or 1500 years, our forefathers returned to their old habits, but with
ruder forms than they had used before, and after continuing them for
five or six centuries, finally abandoned them. This is possible, of
course, but there is absolutely no proof of it that I know. On the
contrary, so far as our knowledge of them at present extends, the
whole of the megalithic rude stone monuments group together as one
style as essentially as the Classical or Gothic or any other style
of architecture. No solution of continuity can be detected anywhere.
All are--it may be--prehistoric; or all, as I believe to be the case,
belong to historic times. The choice seems to be between these two
categories; any hypothesis based on the separation into a historic and
a prehistoric group, distinct in characteristics as in age, appears to
be utterly untenable.

The argument derived from the absence of iron in all our sepulchres
also proves more than is desirable. The Danish antiquaries all admit
that iron was not known in that country before the Christian era. Our
antiquaries, from the testimony of Cæsar as to its use in war by the
Britons, are forced to admit an earlier date, but it is hardly, if
ever, found in graves. It is, on the other hand, perhaps correct to
assume that its use was known in Egypt 3000 years before Christ; even
if this is disputed, it certainly was known in the 18th dynasty, 15
centuries B.C., and generally in the Mediterranean shortly
afterwards. If, then, the knowledge of the most useful of metals took
3000 or even 1500 years to travel across the continent of Europe, it
seems impossible to base any argument on the influence these people
exercised on one another, or on the knowledge they may have had of each
others' ways.

Or to take the argument in a form nearer home. When Cæsar warred
against the Veneti in the Morbihan, he found them in possession of
vessels larger and stronger than the Roman galleys, capable of being
manœuvred by their sails alone, without the use of oars. Not only
were these vessels fastened by iron nails, but they were moored by
chain cables of iron. To manufacture such chains, the Veneti must
have had access to large mines of the ore, and had long familiarity
with its manufacture, and they used it not only for purposes on shore
like the Britons, but in vessels capable of trading between Brest and
Penzance--no gentle sea--and quite equal to voyages to the Baltic or
other northern ports, which they no doubt made; it is asserted that, in
50 B.C., the Scandinavians were ignorant of the use of iron,
though their country possessed the richest mines and the best ores of

The truth of the matter appears to be that, a century or so before
Christ, England and Denmark were as little known to Greece and Italy,
and as little influenced by their arts or civilization, as Borneo or
New Zealand were by those of modern Europe at the beginning of the last
century. Even now, with all our colonization and civilizing power, we
have had marvellously little real influence on the native races, and
were our power removed, all traces would rapidly disappear, and the
people revert at once to what they were, and act as they were wont to
do, before they knew us.

In like manner the North American Indians have been very little
influenced by the residence of some millions of proselytizing Europeans
among them for 200 years, and while this is so, it seems most
groundless to argue because a few Phœnician traders may have visited
this island to purchase tin, that, therefore, they introduced their
manners and customs among its inhabitants; or because a traveller like
Pytheas may have visited the Cimbrian Chersonese, or even penetrated
nearly to the Arctic Circle, that his visit had, or could have, any
influence on the civilization of these countries.[54] Civilization, as
far as we can see, was only advanced in northern and western Europe
by the extermination of the ruder races. Had this rude but effective
method not been resorted to, we should probably have a stone-using
people among us at the present day.

We may not know much of what happened in northern Europe before the
time of the Romans, but we feel tolerably safe in asserting that
none of the civilized nations around the Mediterranean basin ever
colonized and settled sufficiently long in northern Europe to influence
perceptibly the manners or usages of the natives. What progress was
made was effected by migrations among themselves, the more civilized
tribes taking the place of those less advanced, and bringing their
higher civilization with them.

If these views are at all correct, it seems hopeless by any empirical
theories founded on what we believe ought to have happened or on
any analogies drawn from what occurred in other countries to arrive
at satisfactory conclusions on the subject. It is at best reasoning
from the unknown towards what we fancy may be found out. A much more
satisfactory process would be to reason from the known backwards so far
as we have a sure footing, and we may feel certain that by degrees as
our knowledge advances we shall get further and further forward in the
true track, and may eventually be able to attach at least approximative
dates to all our monuments.

From this point of view, what concerns us most, in the first instance
at least, is to know how late, rather than how early, our ancestors
buried in tumuli. We have, for instance, certainly, the Bartlow
Hills, just alluded to, which are sepulchres of the Roman period,
probably of Hadrian's time; and we have in Denmark the tumuli in which
King Gorm and his English wife, Queen Thyra Danebode, were buried
in A.D. 950. We probably also may be able to fill in a few
others between these two dates, and add some after even the last.
Thus, therefore, we have a firm basis from which to start, and working
backwards from it may clear up some difficulties that now appear


The monuments alluded to in the last section were either the rude
barrows of our savage ancestors, with the ruder cists, or the chambered
tumuli of a people who, when we first became acquainted with them,
had attained nearly as high a degree of civilization as any Turanian
people are capable of attaining. The people who erected such buildings
as the Tombs of Mycenæ or Orchomenos must have reached a respectable
degree of organization. They possessed a perfect knowledge of the use
of metals, and great wealth in bronze at least, and had attained to
considerable skill in construction. Yet it is not difficult to trace
back--in imagination, at least--the various steps by which a small rude
chamber in a circular mound, just capable of protecting a single body,
may by degrees have grown into a richly-ornamented brazen chamber, 50
or 60 feet in diameter and of equal height. Nor is it more difficult
to foresee what this buried chamber would have become, had not the
Aryan occupation of Greece--figured under the myth of the return of
the Heracleidæ--put a stop to the tomb-building propensities of the
people. Before long it must have burst from its chrysalis state,
and assumed a form of external beauty. It must have emerged from its
earthen envelope, and taken a form which it did take in Africa[55] a
thousand years afterwards,--a richly-ornamented podium, surmounted by a
stepped cone and crowned by a stele. In Greece it went no further, and
its history and its use were alike strange to the people who afterwards
occupied the country.

In Italy its history was somewhat different. The more mixed people of
Rome eagerly adopted the funereal magnificence of the Etruscans, and
their tumuli under the Empire became magnified into such monuments as
the Tomb of Augustus in the Campus Martius, or the still more gorgeous
mausoleum of Hadrian, at the foot of the Vatican hill.

In like manner, it would not be difficult by the same process to trace
the steps by which the rude tepés of the Tartar steppes bloomed at last
into the wondrous domes of the Patan and Mogol Emperors of Delhi or
the other Mahomedan principalities in the East. To do all this would
form a most interesting chapter in the history of architecture, more
interesting, perhaps, than the one we are about to attempt; but it is
not the same, though both spring from the same origin. The people or
peoples who eventually elaborated these wonderful mausoleums or domed
structures affected, at the very earliest periods at which we become
acquainted with them, what may be called Microlithic architecture. In
other words, they used as small stones as they could use, consistently
with their constructive necessities. These stones were always squared
or hewn, and they always sought to attain their ends by construction,
not by the exhibition of mere force. On the other hand, the people
whose works now occupy us always affected the employment of the largest
masses of stone they could find or move. With the rarest possible
exceptions, they preferred their being untouched by a chisel, and as
rarely were they ever used in any properly constructive sense. In
almost every instance it was sought to attain the wished-for end by
mass and the expression of power. No two styles of architecture can
well be more different, either in their forms or motives, than these
two. All that they have in common is that they both spring from the
same origin in the chambered tumulus, and both were devoted throughout
to sepulchral purposes, but in form and essence they diverged at a very
early period. Long before we become acquainted with either; and, having
once separated, they only came together again when both were on the
point of expiring.

The Buddhist Dagobas are another offshoot from the same source, which
it would be quite as interesting to follow as the tombs of the kings or
emperors; for our present purposes, perhaps, more so, as they retained
throughout a religious character, and being consequently freed from the
ever-varying influence of individual caprice, they bear the impress of
their origin distinctly marked upon them to the present day.

In India, where Buddhism, as we now know it, first arose, the prevalent
custom--at least among the civilized races--was cremation. We do
not know when they buried their dead; but in the earliest times of
Buddhism they adopted at once what was certainly a sepulchral tumulus,
and converted it into a relic shrine: just as in the early ages of
Christianity the stone sarcophagus became the altar in the basilica,
and was made to contain the relics of the saint or saints to whom
the church was dedicated. The earliest monuments of this class which
we now know are those erected by the King Asoka, about the year 250
B.C.; but there does not seem much reason for doubting that
when the body of Buddha was burnt, and his relics distributed among
eight different places,[56] Dagobas or Stupas may not then have
been erected for their reception. None of these have, however, been
identified; and of the 84,000 traditionally said to have been erected
by Asoka, that at Sanchi[57] is the only one we can feel quite sure
belongs to his age; but, from that date to the present day, in India as
well as in Ceylon, Burmah, Siam, and elsewhere, examples exist without

All these are microlithic, evidently the work of a civilized and
refined people, though probably copies of the rude forms of more
primitive races. Many of them have stone enclosures; but, like that at
Sanchi, erected between 250 B.C. and 1 A.D., so evidently derived from
carpentry that we feel it was copied directly, like all the Buddhist
architecture of that age, from wooden originals. Whether it was from
the fashion of erecting stone circles round tumuli, or from what other
cause, it is impossible now to say; but as time went on the form of the
rail became more and more essentially lithic, and throughout the middle
ages the Buddhist tope, with its circle or circles of stones, bore much
more analogy to the megalithic monuments of our own country than did
the tombs just alluded to; and we are often startled by similarities
which, however, seem to have no other cause than their having a common
parent, being, in fact, derived from one primæval original. There
is nothing in all this, at all events, that would lead us to the
conclusion that the polished stone monuments of India were either older
or more modern than the rude stone structures of the West. Each, in
fact, must be judged by its own standard, and by that alone.

For the proper understanding of what is to follow the distinctions just
pointed out should always be borne in mind, as none are more important.
Half indeed of the confusion that exists on the subject arises from
their having been hitherto neglected. There is no doubt that occasional
similarities can be detected between these various styles, but they
amount to nothing more than should be expected from family likenesses
consequent upon their having a common origin and analogous purposes.
But, except to this extent, these styles seem absolutely distinct
throughout their whole course, though running parallel to one another
during the whole period in which they are practised. If this is so,
any hypothesis based on the idea that the microlithic architecture
either preceded or succeeded to the megalithic at once falls to the
ground. Nor, if these distinctions are maintained, will it any longer
be possible to determine any dates in succession in megalithic art from
analogies drawn from what may have happened at any period or place
among the builders of microlithic structures. The fact which we have
got to deal with seems to be that the megalithic rude stone art of our
forefathers is a thing by itself--a peculiar form of art arising either
from its being adopted by a peculiar race or peculiar group of races
among mankind, or from its having been practised by people at a certain
stage of civilization, or under peculiar circumstances, and this it is
our business to try to find out and define. But to do this, the first
thing that seems requisite is to put aside all previously conceived
notions on the subject, and to treat it as one entirely new, and as
depending for its elucidation wholly on what can be gathered from its
own form and its own utterances, however indistinct they may at first
appear to be.

Bearing this in mind, we have no difficulty in beginning our history
of megalithic remains with the rude stone cists, generally called
kistvaens, which are found in sepulchral tumuli. Sometimes these
consist of only four, but generally of six or more stones set edgeways,
and covered by a cap-stone, so as to protect the body from being
crushed. By degrees this kistvaen became magnified into a chamber, the
side stones increasing from 1 or 2 feet in height to 4 or 5 feet, and
the cap-stone becoming a really megalithic feature 6 or 10 feet long,
by 4 or 5 feet wide, and also of considerable thickness. Many of these
contained more than one funeral deposit, and they consequently could
not have been covered up by the tumuli till the last deposit was placed
in them. This seems to have been felt as an inconvenience, as it led to
the third step, namely, of a passage communicating with the outer air,
and formed like the chambers of upright stones, and roofed by flat ones
extending across from side to side. The most perfect example of this
class is perhaps that in the tumulus of Gavr Innis in the Morbihan.
Here is a gallery 42 feet long and from 4 to 5 feet wide, leading to a
chamber 8 feet square, the whole being covered with sculptures of the
most elaborate character.

A fourth stage is well illustrated by the chambers of New Grange, in
Ireland, where a similar passage leads to a compound or cruciform
chamber rudely roofed by converging stones. Another beautiful example
of the same class is that of Maeshow in the Orkneys, which, owing to
the peculiarity of the stone with which it is built, comes more nearly
to the character of microlithic art than any other example. It is
probably among the last if not the very latest of the class erected in
these isles, and by a curious concatenation of circumstances brings the
megalithic form of art very nearly up to the stage where we left its
microlithic sister at Mycenæ some two thousand years before its time.

All this will be made clearer in the sequel, but meanwhile there are
one or two points which must be cleared up before we can go further.
Many antiquaries insist that all the dolmens[58] or cromlechs,[59]
which we now see standing free, were once covered up and buried in
tumuli.[60] That all the earlier ones were so, is more than probable,
and it may since have been originally intended also to cover up many of
those which now stand free; but it seems impossible to believe that the
bulk of those we now see were ever hidden by any earthen covering.

Probably at least one hundred uncovered dolmens in these islands could
be enumerated, which have not now a trace of any such envelope. Some
are situated on uncultivated heaths, some on headlands, and most of
them in waste places. Yet it is contended that improving farmers at
some remote age not only levelled the mounds, but actually carted
the whole away and spread it so evenly over the surface that it is
impossible now to detect its previous existence. If this had taken
place in this century when land has become so valuable and labour
so skilled we might not wonder, but no trace of any such operation
occurs in any living memory. Take for instance Kits Cotty House, it is
exactly now where it was when Stukeley drew it in 1715,[61] and there
was no tradition then of any mound ever having covered it. Yet it is
contended that at some earlier age when the site was probably only a
sheep-walk, some one carried away the mound for some unknown purpose,
and spread it out so evenly that we cannot now find a trace of it.
Or take another instance, that at Clatford Bottom,[62] also drawn by
Stukeley. It stands as a chalky flat to which cultivation is only now
extending, and which certainly was a sheep-walk in Stukeley's time,
and why, therefore, any one should have taken the trouble or been at
the expense of denuding it is very difficult to understand, and so
it is with nine-tenths of the rest of them. In the earlier days when
a feeling for the seclusion of the tomb was strong, burying them in
the recesses of a tumulus may have been the universal practice, but
when men learned to move such masses as they afterwards did, and to
poise them so delicately in the air, they may well have preferred the
exhibition of their art to concealing it in a heap which had no beauty
of form and exhibited no skill. Can any one for instance conceive that
such a dolmen as that at Castle Wellan in Ireland ever formed a chamber
in barrow, or that any Irish farmer would ever have made such a level
sweep of its envelope if it ever had one? So in fact it is with almost
all we know. When a dolmen was intended to be buried in a tumulus the
stones supporting the roof were placed as closely to one another as
possible, so as to form walls and prevent the earth penetrating between
them and filling the chambers, which was easily accomplished by filling
in the interstices with small stones as was very generally done. These
tripod dolmens, however, like that at Castle Wellan, just quoted, never
had, or could have had walls. The cap-stone is there poised on three
points, and is a studied exhibition of a _tour de force_. No traces of
walls exist, and if earth had been heaped upon it the intervals would
have been the first part filled, and the roof an absurdity, as no
chamber could have existed. These tripod dolmens are very numerous, and
well worth distinguishing, as it is probable that they will turn out to
be more modern than the walled variety of the same class. But with our
present limited knowledge it is hardly safe to insist on this, however
probable it seems at first sight.

[Illustration: 7. Dolmen in Castle Wellan, Ireland. From a drawing by
Sir Henry James.]

[Illustration: 8. Dolmen de Bousquet. From a drawing by E. Cartailhac.]

The question, however, fortunately, hardly requires to be argued,
inasmuch as in Ireland, in Denmark,[63] and more especially in France,
we have numerous examples of dolmens on the top of tumuli, where it is
impossible they should ever have been covered with earth. One example
for the present will explain what is meant. In the Dolmen de Bousquet
in the Aveyron[64] the chamber is placed on the top of a tumulus,
which from the three circles of stone that surround it, and other
indications, never could have been higher or larger than it now is.

So far as I know, none of these dolmen-crowned tumuli have been dug
into, which is to be regretted, as it would be curious to know whether
the external dolmen is the real or only a simulated tomb. My own
impression would be in favour of the latter hypothesis, inasmuch as a
true and a false tomb are characteristic of all similar monuments. In
the pyramids of Egypt they coexisted. In every Buddhist tope, without
exception, there is a Tee, which is in every case we know only a
simulated relic-casket. Originally it may have been the place where
the relic was deposited, and as we know of instances where relics
were exposed to the crowd on certain festivals, it is difficult to
understand where they were kept, except in some external case like
this. In every instance, however, in which a relic has been found it
has been in the centre of the Tope and never in the Tee. A still more
apposite illustration, however, is found in the tombs around Agra and
Delhi. In all those of any pretension the body is buried in the earth
in a vault below the floor of the tomb and a gravestone laid over it,
but on the floor of the chamber, under the dome, there is always a
simulated sarcophagus, which is the only one seen by visitors. This
is carried even further in the tomb of the Great Akbar (1556, 1605).
Over the vault is raised a pyramid surrounded, not like this tumulus by
three rows of stones, but by three rows of pavilions, and on the top,
exposed to the air, is a simulated tomb placed exactly as this dolmen
is. No two buildings could well seem more different at first sight, but
their common parentage and purpose can hardly be mistaken, and it must
be curious to know whether the likeness extends to the double tomb also.

[Illustration: 9. Tee cut in the Rock on Dagoba at Ajunta.]

This, like many other questions, must be left to the spade to
determine, but, unless attention is turned to the analogy above alluded
to, the purpose of the double tomb may be misunderstood, even when
found, and frequently, I suspect, has already been mistaken for a
secondary interment.


Circles form another group of the monuments we are about to treat of,
in this country more important than the dolmens to which the last
section was devoted. In France, however, they are hardly known, though
in Algeria they are very frequent. In Denmark and Sweden they are both
numerous and important, but it is in the British Islands that circles
attained their greatest development, and assumed the importance they
maintain in all the works of our antiquaries which treat of megalithic

The cognate examples in the microlithic styles afford us very little
assistance in determining either the origin or use of this class of
monument. It might, nay has been suggested, that the podium which
surmounts such a tumulus, for instance, that of the Cocumella (woodcut
No. 5) would, if the mound were removed, suggest, or be suggested,
by the stone circles of our forefathers. This podium, however, seems
always to have been a purely constructive expedient, without any mystic
or religious significance, for unless the base of an earthen mound is
confined by a revêtement of this sort it is apt to spread, and then the
whole monument loses that definition which is requisite to dignity.

The Rails of the Indian Buddhists at first sight seem to offer a more
plausible suggestion of origin, but it is one on which it would be
dangerous in the present state of our knowledge to rely too much; if
for no other reason, for the one just given, that up to the time of
Asoka, B.C. 250, they, like all the architecture of India,
were in wood and wood only. Stone as a building material, either rude
or hewn, was unknown in that country till apparently it was suggested
to them by the Bactrian Greeks. Unless, therefore, we are prepared to
admit that all our stone circles are subsequent, by a considerable
interval of time, to the epoch of Asoka, they were not derived from
India. My own impression is that all may ultimately prove to have been
erected subsequently to the Christian Era, but till that is established
we must look elsewhere than to India for our original form, and even
then we have only got a possible analogy; and nothing approaching to a
proof that any connexion existed between them.

The process in this country, so far as I can make out, was different,
though tending to a similar result. The stone circles in Europe appear
to have been introduced in supercession to the circular earthen mounds
which surround the early tumuli of our Downs. These earthen enclosures
still continued to be used, surrounding stone monuments of the latest
ages, but, if I mistake not, they first gave rise to the form itself.
Such a circle, for instance, as that called the Nine Ladies on Stanton
Moor, I take to be a transitional example. The circular mound, which is
38 feet in diameter, enclosed a sepulchral tumulus, as was, no doubt,
the case from time immemorial, but, in this instance, was further
adorned and dignified by the circle of stones erected upon it. A
century or so afterwards, when stone had become more recognized as a
building material, the circular mound may have been disused, and then
the stone circle would alone remain.

[Illustration: 10. Nine Ladies, Stanton Moor. From a drawing by L.

These stone circles are found enclosing tumuli, as in the Dolmen de
Bousquet (woodcut No. 8), in three rows, and sometimes five or seven
rows are found. They frequently also enclose dolmens, either standing
on the level plain or on tumuli, but often, especially in this country,
they are found enclosing nothing that can be seen above ground. This
has led to the assumption that they are "Things," comitia--or places
of assembly--or, still more commonly, that they are temples, though,
now that the Druidical theory is nearly abandoned, no one has been able
to suggest to what religion they are, or were, dedicated. The spade,
however, is gradually dispelling all these theories. Out of say 200
stone circles which are found in these islands, at least one-half, on
being dug out, have yielded sepulchral deposits. One-quarter are still
untouched by the excavator, and the remainder which have not yielded up
their secret are mostly the larger circles. Their evidence, however, is
at best only negative, for, till we know exactly where to dig, it would
require that the whole area should be trenched over before we can feel
sure we had not missed the sepulchral deposit. When, as at Avebury,
the circle encloses an area of 28 acres,[65] and the greater part of
it is occupied by a village, no blind digging is likely to lead to any
result, or can be accepted as evidence.

Still the argument would be neither illegitimate nor illogical if, in
the present state of the evidence, it were contended that all stone
circles, up say to 100 feet diameter, were sepulchral, as nine-tenths
of them have been proved to be, but that the larger circles were
cenotaphic, or, if another expression is preferred, temples dedicated
to the honour or worship of the dead, but in which no bodies were
buried. But to admit--and it cannot now be denied--that all circles up
to 100 feet are sepulchral, yet to assert that above that dimension
they became temples dedicated to the sun, or serpents, or demons,
or Druids, without any other change of plan or design but increased
dimensions, appears a wholly untenable proposition.

All this will, it is hoped, be made more clear in the sequel when we
come to examine particular examples, regarding which it is more easy to
reason than merely from general principles; but in the meanwhile there
is one other peculiarity which should be pointed out before proceeding
further. It is that where great groups of circles are found, they--so
far as is at present known--never mark cemeteries where successive
generations of kings or chiefs were buried, but battle-fields. The
circles, or dolmens, or cairns grouped in these localities seem always
to have been erected by their comrades, to the memory of those who
on these spots "fiercely fighting, fell," and are monuments as well
of the prowess of the survivors as of those who were less fortunate.
The proof of this also must depend on individual examples to be
brought forward in the following pages. It does not, however, seem to
present much difficulty, the principal point in the argument being
that they are generally found in solitary places far removed from the
centres of population, or are sometimes single and that they show no
progression. Had they been cemeteries or sepulchres of kings, several
would undoubtedly have been found grouped together; progression and
individuality would have been observed; and lastly, they are just such
monuments as an army could erect in a week or a month, but which the
inhabitants of the spot could not erect in years, and could not use for
any conceivable purpose when erected.


It is somewhat unfortunate that no recognized name has yet been hit
upon for this class of monument. Alignment has been suggested, but the
term is hardly applicable to two rows of stones, for instance, leading
to a circle. Parallellitha is, at best, a barbarous compound, and as
such better avoided. Though therefore, the word avenues can hardly be
called appropriate to rows of stones leading from nowhere to no place,
and between which there is no evidence that anybody ever was intended
to walk, still it seems the least objectionable expression that has yet
been hit upon, and as such it will be used throughout.

[Illustration: 11. Chambered Tumulus, Jersey.]

These avenues are of two classes. First, those leading to circles.
About the origin of this class there can be very little hesitation.
They represent externally the passages in tumuli which lead to
the central chamber; take, for instance, this example from a now
destroyed[66] tumulus near St. Helier, in Jersey.[67] The circular
chamber was 24 feet in diameter, and contained originally seven little
cells, each roofed by a single slab of stone. This circular area was
approached by an avenue, 17 feet long at the time of its destruction,
which was roofed throughout the whole length with slabs of stone. The
central chamber never, however, appears to have been vaulted, so that
access to the tombs through this passage could never have been possible
after the mound was finished. The chamber was found filled with earth,
and the whole monument covered up by a tumulus of considerable extent.
It need hardly be observed that it is more unlikely that any people
should cover up such a monument at any subsequent age, than that
they should dig out such monuments and leave them standing without
their envelopes, as is so generally assumed. The tumulus was removed,
because the officer in command of the neighbouring fort wanted a level
parade-ground. As it stood uncovered it was a miniature Avebury, and
the position of its cells may give us a hint where the bodies may be
found there--near the outer circle of stones, where they have not
been looked for. But of this hereafter. It is meanwhile evident that
while these monuments were in course of erection they stood as shown
in the last woodcut, and it is also tolerably clear that when people
became familiar with their aspect in this state, they may have learned
to regret hiding under a heap of earth what we certainly would have
thought more interesting as it was. In like manner, as John Stuart well
remarks, "If the cairns at New Grange were removed, the pillars would
form another Callernish."[68] It is true, however, that if the Jersey
monument is the type of Avebury, the latter must be comparatively
modern, as a coin of Claudius, found in one of the cells at St.
Helier,[69] probably fixes its date. Again, as we expect to be able to
prove that New Grange is subsequent to the Christian era, Callernish
must be more modern also. Be this as it may, I think there can be very
little doubt that these exposed circles, with their avenues, took their
rise, as in the case of dolmens, from people becoming familiar with
their forms before they were covered up, and eventually reconciling
themselves to dispense with the envelope. In the case of the circles,
the new plan was capable of infinitely greater extension than in that
of the dolmens; but the process seems to have been the same in both

Before leaving the Jersey circle, if any one will compare it with the
chamber at Mycenæ (woodcut No. 4), they can hardly fail to perceive
the close similarity and probable identity of destination that exists
between them; but as the island example is very much ruder, according
to the usual reasoning it must be the more ancient of the two. This,
however, is the capital fallacy which has pervaded all reasoning on
the subject hitherto. It is true that nothing can be more interesting
or more instructive than to trace the progress of the Classical, the
Mediæval, and the Indian styles through their ever-changing phases,
or to watch the influence which one style had on the other. That
progress was, however, always confined within the limits of a nation,
or community of nations, and the influence limited to such nations
as from similarity of race or constant intercourse were in position
to influence reciprocally not only the architecture, but their arts
and feelings. In order to establish this in the present instance,
we must prove that there was such community of race and frequency
of intercourse between the Channel Islands and Greece 1000 years
B.C., that the latter would copy the other, or rather that
2000 years B.C. the Channel Islanders gave the Greeks those
hints which they were enabled to elaborate, and of which the chambers
at Mycenæ about the time of the Trojan war were the result. Had this
been the case the influence could hardly have ceased as civilization
and intercourse with other countries increased, and we ought to find
Tholoi in great perfection in these islands, and probably temples and
arts in all the perfection to which they were afterwards expanded in
Greece. In fact, we get into such a labyrinth of conjecture, that no
escape seems possible. It would be almost as reasonable to argue that
the images on Easter Island, which we know continued to be carved in
our day, were prehistoric, because they are so much ruder than the
works of Phidias. The truth is, that where we cannot trace community
of race or religion, accompanied by constant and familiar intercourse,
we must take each people as doing what their state of civilization
enabled them to accomplish, wholly irrespective of what was doing or
had been done by any other people in any other part of the world. All
that it is necessary to assume in this case is, that a dead-revering
ancestral-worshipping people wished to do honour to the departed, as
they knew or heard was done by other races of their family of mankind
elsewhere, and that they did it in the best manner the state of the
arts among them admitted of--rudely, if they were in a low state of
civilization, and more perfectly if they had advanced beyond that stage
in which rude forms could be tolerated.

It is much more difficult to trace the origin of the avenues which are
not attached to circles, and do not lead to any important monuments.
Nothing that is buried at all resembles them in form, and no erections
in the corresponding microlithic style, either in the Mediterranean
countries or in India, afford any hints which would enable us to
suggest their purpose. We are thus left to guess at their uses solely
from the evidence which can be gathered from their own form and
position, and from such traditions as may exist; and these, it seems,
have not hitherto been deemed sufficient to establish even a plausible
hypothesis capable of explaining their intention.

Take, for instance, such an example as the parallel lines of stones
near Merivale Bridge on Dartmoor. They certainly do not form a temple
in any sense in which that word is understood by any other people or in
any age with which we are acquainted. They are not procession paths,
inasmuch as both ends are blocked up; and, though it is true the sides
are all doors, we cannot conceive any procession moving along their
narrow gangway, hardly three feet in width. The stones that compose
the sides are only two and three feet high; so that, even if placed
side by side, they would not form a barrier, and, being three to six
feet apart, they are useless except to form an "alignment." There is no
place for an image, no sanctuary or cell; nothing, in fact, that can be
connected with any religious ceremonial.

If the inhabitants of the place had really wanted a temple, in any
sense in which we understand the term, there is a magnificent tor,
a few hundred yards off to the northward, where Nature has disposed
some magnificent granite blocks so as to form niches such as human
hands could with difficulty imitate. All that was wanted was to move
the smaller blocks, lying loose in front of it, a few yards to the
right or left, and dispose them in a semicircle or rectangular form,
and they would have one of the most splendid temples in England in
which to worship the images which Cæsar tells us they possessed.[70]
They, however, did nothing of the kind. They went to a bare piece of
moorland, where there were no stones, and brought those we find there,
and arranged them as shown on the plan; and for what purpose?

DARTMOOR. From a drawing by Sir Gardner Wilkinson.]

The only answer to the question that occurs to me is that these
stones are intended to represent an army, or two armies, drawn up in
battle array; most probably the former, as we can hardly understand
the victorious army representing the defeated as so nearly equal to
themselves. But if we consider them as the first and second line,
drawn up to defend the village in their rear--which is an extensive
settlement--the whole seems clear and intelligible. The circle in front
would then represent the grave of a chief; the long stone, 40 yards in
front, the grave of another of the "menu" people; and the circles and
cromlech in front of the first line the burying-places of those who
fell there.

There is another series of avenues at Cas Tor, on the western edge of
Dartmoor,[71] some 600 yards in length, which is quite as like a battle
array as this, but more complex and varied in plan. It bends round the
brow of the hill, so that neither of the ends can be seen from the
other, or, indeed, from the centre; and it is as unlike a temple or
anything premeditated architecturally as this one at Merivale Bridge.
There are several others on Dartmoor, all of the same character, and
not one from which it seems possible to extract a religious idea.

When speaking of the great groups of stones in England and France, we
shall frequently have to return to this idea, though then basing it on
traditional and other grounds; but, meanwhile, what is there to be said
against it? It is perhaps not too much to say that in all ages and in
all countries soldiers have been more numerous than priests, and men
have been prouder of their prowess in war than of their proficiency in
faith. They have spent more money for warlike purposes than ever they
devoted to the service of religion, and their pæans in honour of their
heroes have been louder than their hymns in praise of their gods. Yet
how was a rude, illiterate people, who could neither read nor write,
to hand down to posterity a record of its victories? A mound, such as
was erected at Marathon or at Waterloo, is at best a dumb witness. It
may be a sepulchre, as Silbury Hill was supposed to be; it may be the
foundation of a caer, or fort, as many of those in England certainly
were; it may be anything, in short. But a savage might very well
argue: "When any one sees how and where our men were drawn up when we
slaughtered our enemies, can he be so stupid as not to perceive that
here we stood and fought and conquered, and there our enemies were
slain or ran?" We, unfortunately, have lost the clue that would tell
us who "we" and "they" were in the instance of the Dartmoor stones at
least; but uncultivated men do not take so mean a view of their own
importance as to fancy this possible.

This theory has at least the merit of accounting for all the facts
at present known, and of being at variance with none, which is more
than can be said for any other that has hitherto been proposed. Till,
therefore, something better is brought forward, it must be allowed
to stand at least as a basis to reason upon, in order to explain the
monuments we have to describe in the following pages.


The Menhirs, or tall stones,[72] form the last of the classes into
which we have thought it necessary for the present, at least, to
divide the remains of which we are now treating. They occur in all the
megalithic districts, but from their very singleness and simplicity,
it is almost more difficult to ascertain their purpose than it is
that of any more complicated monuments; nor do the analogies from
the cognate microlithic styles help us much. The stones mentioned in
the early books of the Old Testament, though often pressed into the
service, were all too small to bear any resemblance to those we are
now concerned with. Neither Greece nor Etruria help us in the matter,
and though it is true that the Buddhists in India, from Asoka's time
downward, were in the habit of setting up Lâts or Stambas, it seems
with them to have been always, or nearly so, for the purpose of bearing
inscriptions, which is certainly not a distinguishing characteristic
of our Menhirs. It is true that we have in Scotland two stones. The
Cat stone near Edinburgh, bearing the name of Vetta, the grandson of
Hengist (who probably was slain in battle there),[73] and the Newton
stone in Garioch, which is still unread. We have also one in France
near Brest,[74] equally illegible, and no doubt others exist. Perhaps
these may be considered as early lispings of an infant, which certainly
are the preludes of perfect speech, and only to be found where that
power of words must afterwards exist. Here the analogy is, to say the
least of it, remote.

There also are, especially in Ireland, but also in Wales and in
Scotland, a great number of stones with Ogham inscriptions. So far as
these have been made out they seem to be mere head-stones of graves,
intimating that A, the son of B, lies buried there. A custom, it
need hardly be observed, that continues to the present day in every
cemetery in the land. The fact seems to be that so soon as the use of
stone was suggested and men were sufficiently advanced to be able to
engrave Oghams, it was at once perceived that a stone pillar with an
inscription upon it was not only a more durable but a more intelligent
and intelligible record of a man's life or death than a simple mound
of "undistinguishable earth." It in consequence rapidly superseded the
barrow, and has continued in use to the present time, and been adopted
by both Christians and Mahomedans, by all, in fact, who bury, as
contradistinguished from those who burn their dead.

In Scotland the story of the stones is slightly different. A great
many of these are no doubt cat stones or battle memorials, but as they
have not even Ogham inscriptions, they tell no tale. It is doubtful,
indeed, if an Ogham inscription could describe a battle, or anything
more complex than a genealogy, and still more so if it did whether we
could read it. But without it how can we say what they are? If, for
instance, the battle of Largs had not been fought in historic times,
how could we tell that the tall stone that now marks the spot was
erected in the thirteenth century? Or how, indeed, can we feel sure of
the history of any one? By degrees, however, in Scotland they faded
into those wonderful sculptured stones which form so marked and so
peculiar a feature of Pictland. Whether we shall ever get a key to the
hieroglyphics with which these stones are covered is by no means clear,
but even if we do they probably will not tell us much. They certainly
contain neither names nor dates, but even now their succession can be
made out with tolerable distinctness. The probability seems to be that
the figures on them are tribal marks or symbols of rank, and, as such,
would convey very little information if capable of being read.

It is easy to trace the perfectly plain obelisk being developed
into such as the Newton stones, which have only one or two Pagan
symbols, but are certainly subsequent to the Christian era. From
these we advance to those on the back of which the Christian cross
timidly appears, and which certainly date after St. Columba's time
(A.D. 563), and from that again to the erection of Sweno's
stone, near Forres, in the first years of the eleventh century, where
the cross occupies the whole of the rear, and an elaborate bas-relief
supersedes the rude symbols in the front.

In Ireland the rude stones do not appear to have gone through the
"symbol stage," but early to have ripened into the sculptured cross,
for it was not from a timidly engraved cross as in Scotland that
they took their origin. The Irish crosses at once boldly adopted the
cross-arms, surrounded by a glory, with the other characteristics of
that beautiful and original class of Christian monuments.

In France the menhir was early adopted by the Christians; so early
that it has generally been assumed that those examples which we see
surmounted by a cross were pagan monuments, on which at some subsequent
time Christians have added a cross. This, however, certainly does not
appear to have been always the case. In such a cross, for instance, as
that at Lochcrist, the menhir and the cross are one, and made for one
another, and similar examples occur at Cape St. Matthieu, at Daoulas,
and in other places in Brittany.[75] In France the menhir, after being
adopted by the Christians, does not seem to have passed through the
sculptured stage[76] common to crosses in Scotland and Ireland, but
to have bloomed at once into the Calvary so frequent in Brittany.
Here the cross stands out as a tall tree, and the figures are grouped
round its base, but how early this form was adopted we have no means of

In Denmark the modern history of the Bauta stones, as the grave or
battle stones are there called, is somewhat different. They early
received a Runic as the Irish received an Ogham inscription, but
Denmark was converted at so late an age to Christianity (the eleventh
century) that her menhirs never passed through the early Christian
stage, but from Pagan monuments sank at once into modern gravestones,
with prosaic records of the birth and death of the dead man whose
memory they were erected to preserve.

[Illustration: 13. Lochcrist Menhir.]

In all these instances we can trace back the history of the menhirs
from historic Christian times to non-historic regions when these rude
stone pillars, with or without still ruder inscriptions, were gradually
superseding the earthen tumuli as a record of the dead. It is as yet
uncertain whether we can follow back their history with anything like
certainty beyond the Christian era. This, however, is just the task to
which antiquaries should address themselves. Instead of reasoning as
hitherto from the unknown to the known, it would be infinitely more
philosophical to reason from the known backwards. By proceeding in this
manner every step we make is a positive gain, and eventually may lead
us to write with certainty about things that now seem enveloped in mist
and obscurity.

    [Footnote 42: It is so curious as almost to justify Piazzi Smyth's
    wonderful theories on the subject. But there is no reason whatever
    to suppose that the progress of art in Egypt differed essentially
    from that elsewhere. The previous examples are lost, and that seems

    [Footnote 43: Herodotus, ii. 123; and Sir Gardner Wilkinson's
    'Ancient Egyptians,' second series, i. 211; ii. 440 _et passim_.]

    [Footnote 44: Herod, i. 93.]

    [Footnote 45: 'Lydische Königsgräber,' Berlin, 1859.]

    [Footnote 46: I am, of course, aware that the now fashionable craze
    is to consider Troy a myth. So far, however, as I am capable of
    understanding it, it appears to me that the ancient solar myth of
    Messrs. Max Müller and Cox is very like mere modern moonshine.]

    [Footnote 47: Paus. ii. ch. 16; 'Dodwell's Pelasgic Remains in
    Greece and Italy,' pl. 11.]

    [Footnote 48: Dodwell, 1. c. p. 13.]

    [Footnote 49: More particulars and illustrations of these tombs
    will be found in the first volume of my 'History of Architecture,'
    and they need not, therefore, be repeated here.]

    [Footnote 50: 1 Kings, vii. 13 _et seq._; 2 Chron. iv. 1 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 51: Hesiod. 'Works and Days,' 1. 150.]

    [Footnote 52: 'Crania Britannica,' _passim_. 'Archæologia,'

    [Footnote 53: 'Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire,' 1848.
    'Ten Years' Diggings,' 1861.]

    [Footnote 54: See controversy between Sir George Cornewall Lewis
    in his 'Astronomy of the Ancients,' p. 467 _et seq._ and Sir John
    Lubbock, in 'Prehistoric Times,' p. 59 _et seq._ with regard to
    Pytheas and his discoveries.]

    [Footnote 55: In the Kubber Roumeia, in the Sahil, or the Madracen,
    near Blidah.]

    [Footnote 56: See Turnour in 'J. A. S. B.' vii. p. 1013.]

    [Footnote 57: Cunningham, 'Bilsah Topes,' _passim_; and 'Tree and
    Serpent Worship,' by the author, p. 87-148.]

    [Footnote 58: Dolmen is derived from the Celtic word _Daul_, a
    table--not _Dol_, a hole--and _Men_ or _Maen_, a stone.]

    [Footnote 59: _Crom_, in Celtic, is crooked or curved, and
    therefore wholly inapplicable to the monuments in question; and
    _lech_, stone.]

    [Footnote 60: The most zealous advocate of this view is the Rev.
    W. C. Lukis, who, with his father, has done such good service in
    the Channel Islands. His views are embodied in a few very distinct
    words in the Norwich volume of the 'Prehistoric Congress,' p.
    218, but had previously been put forward in a paper read to the
    Wiltshire Archæological Society in 1861, and afterwards in the
    'Kilkenny Journal,' v. N. S. p. 492 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 61: 'Iter Curiosum,' pl. xxxii. and xxxiii.]

    [Footnote 62: 'Stonehenge and Avebury,' pl. xxxii. xxxiii. and

    [Footnote 63: Madsen, 'Antiquités Préhistoriques,' pl. 6, 7, 8, 9,
    and 10.]

    [Footnote 64: Norwich volume of 'Prehistoric Congress,' p. 355, pl.

    [Footnote 65: Sir H. Colt Hoare, 'Ancient Wiltshire,' ii, 71.]

    [Footnote 66: The stones of which it was composed were transported
    by General Conway to Park Place, near Henley-on-Thames, and
    re-erected there.]

    [Footnote 67: 'Archæologia,' viii. p. 384.]

    [Footnote 68: 'Sculptured Stones of Scotland,' ii. Introd. p. 25.]

    [Footnote 69: 'Archæologia,' viii. p. 385.]

    [Footnote 70: Deum maxime Mercurium colunt. Hujus sunt plurima
    simulacra. 'Bell. Gal.' vi. 16.]

    [Footnote 71: Sir Gardner Wilkinson in 'Journal, Archæological
    Association,' xvi. p. 112, pl. 6 for Cas Tor, and pl. 7 for
    Merivale Bridge.]

    [Footnote 72: From _Maen_, as before, stone, and _hir_--high. Minar
    is supposed to be the same word. It cannot, at least, be traced to
    any root in any Eastern language.]

    [Footnote 73: 'Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of
    Scotland,' iv. 119 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 74: 'Freminville, Finistère,' pl. iv. p. 248.]

    [Footnote 75: All these, and many others, are to be found
    illustrated in Taylor and Nodier's 'Voyage Pittoresque dans
    l'ancienne Bretagne;' but as the plates in that work are not
    numbered they cannot be referred to.]

    [Footnote 76: I know only one instance of sculptured stone in
    France; it occurs near the Chapelle St. Marguerite in Brittany.]



If there existed any acknowledged facts or accepted data with regard to
the megalithic remains we are now treating of, the logical method of
following out the subject would be to describe first their geographical
distribution, and then their uses and dates. While, however, everything
concerning them is considered as uncertain--in fact, as unknown, such
a mode of treatment, though satisfactory to believers, would fail
to carry conviction to the minds of those who doubt. It appears,
therefore, that under the circumstances a preferable mode will be to
take three or four of the principal and best known British groups,
and to subject them to a tolerably exhaustive examination. If it is
possible to dispel the errors that have grown up around them, and to
fix their uses and dates on anything like a reasonable basis, the
rest will be easy; but so long as men believe in Druids or Dragons,
or even think it necessary to relegate these monuments to prehistoric
antiquity, it is useless to reason regarding them. By the process it
is proposed to follow, it is hoped at least to be able to dispel these
mists. Others must judge whether the landscape their dispersion will
reveal is either real, or pleasing to contemplate.

The first monument we propose selecting for examination is Avebury,
as the largest, and in some respects the most important of the class
in this country. Stonehenge might at first sight seem to have equal
claims to precedence, but it is exceptional. It is the only hewn stone
monument we possess, the only one where trilithons are found with
horizontal architraves, and where the outer circle also possesses
these imposts. It is, in fact, the megalithic monument which exhibits
the most civilized forms, and to prove its age and use would not
necessarily prove those of any rude stone monument found elsewhere.
Avebury, on the contrary, though larger than the others, is constructed
on precisely the same principle. It has the enclosing vallum, with its
ditch inside, like Arborlow, Marden, Arthur's round table, at Penrith,
and others we shall meet with further on, while its circle and avenues
are identical, as far as we can judge, with numerous examples found

Before, however, proceeding to reason about Avebury, the first point
is to ascertain what the group really consists of, which is a much
more difficult task than would at first sight appear. Stukeley has
introduced so many of his own fancies into his description of the
place, and they have been so implicitly followed by all who have since
written on the subject, that it is now no easy task to get back to the
original form.

[Illustration: 14. View of Avebury restored. _a._ Silbury Hill. _b._
Waden Hill.]

The principal monument at Avebury consists of a vallum of earth nearly,
but not quite, circular in form, with an average diameter of about
1200 feet. Close on the edge of its internal ditch stood a circle
apparently originally consisting of about 100 stones, with a distance
consequently of about 33 feet from centre to centre. Inside this were
two other double circles, placed not in the axis of the great one,
but on its north-eastern side. The more northern one was apparently
350 feet in diameter, the other 325 feet.[77] In the centre of the
northern one stood what is here called a cove, apparently consisting
of three upright stones supporting a cap-stone--a dolmen, in fact,
such as we shall frequently meet with in the following pages. In the
southern circle there was only one stone obelisk or menhir. These facts
we gather from Stukeley and Colt Hoare, for all is now so completely
ruined and destroyed, that without their description no one could now
make even an approximate plan of the place. The stones that comprise
these inner as well as the outer circle are all the native Sarsens,
which occur everywhere on these downs. In some places, such as Clatford
Bottom, about a mile from Avebury, they lie still in numbers sufficient
to erect a dozen Aveburys, and many are still to be seen in the Bottoms
to the southward, and indeed in every place where they have not been
utilized by modern civilization. No mark of a chisel is to be seen
on any of the stones now standing here. For their effect they depend
wholly on their mass, and that is so great as to produce an impression
of power and grandeur which few of the more elaborate works of men's
hands can rival.

[Illustration: 15. Plan of Avebury Circle and Kennet Avenue, from Sir
R. Colt Hoare.]

From the outer vallum a stone avenue extended in a perfectly straight
line for about 1430 yards, in a south-easterly direction. The centre
was apparently drawn from the centre of the great 1200 feet circle,
not from those of the smaller ones. This is called the Kennet
Avenue, from its pointing towards the village of that name. I am
extremely sceptical with regard to the existence of another, called
the Beckhampton Avenue, on which Dr. Stukeley lays so much stress.
Aubrey did not see it, though he saw the Long Stone Cove, the "Devil's
Quoits," as he called them; and Stukeley is obliged to admit that in
his day not one stone was standing.[78] It seems that here, as, indeed,
everywhere over this country, a number of Sarsen stones were lying
about, and his fertile imagination manufactured them into the body of a
snake. None, however, are shown in Sir R. Colt Hoare's survey, and none
exist now; and beyond the Cove even Stukeley admits that he drew the
serpent's tail only because a serpent must have a termination of that
sort. There were no stones to mark its form any more then than now. The
first objection that appears against admitting the existence of the
very hypothetical avenue is, that no curved avenue of any sort is known
to exist anywhere, or attached to any monuments. All the curves of the
Kennet avenue are the Doctor's own, introduced by him to connect the
straight-lined avenues which were drawn from the circle at Avebury, and
that on Hakpen Hill. There are none at Stanton Drew, or other places
where he audaciously drew them. Near the church there are, or were,
two stones placed in the opening like that called the Friar's Heel,
and the prostrate stone at Stonehenge, but these are all that probably
ever existed of the Beckhampton Avenue. The question is not, however,
important. As there were two circles inside the Avebury vallum, there
may have been two avenues. All that is here contended for is, that
there is no proof of the existence of the second. A dolmen, called the
Long Stone Cove, existed near where Stukeley draws its sinuous line,
but there is nothing to show that it ever formed any part of such an
alignment; and around it there were some standing stones, or rather,
even in Stukeley's time, stones which apparently had stood, but there
is nothing to show whether forming part of a circle, or as detached
menhirs, or as parts of an avenue.

The second member of the Avebury group is the double circle, or rather
double oval, on Hakpen hill--Haca's Pen;[79] this was, according to
Stukeley, 138 feet by 155 feet, and had an avenue 45 feet wide, as
compared with 51 feet which Sir R. C. Hoare gives for those of the
Kennet avenue of Avebury. The avenue is supposed to have extended in
a perfectly straight line for above a quarter of a mile, pointing
directly towards Silbury Hill, which is about one mile and a quarter

The third member of the group is the famous Silbury Hill, about a mile
distant due south from Avebury. That these two last named are of the
same age, and part of one design, seems scarcely open to doubt; but it
is quite an open question whether Haca's Pen belongs either to the same
age or the same design. Its stones were very much smaller, its form
different, and its avenue pointing towards Silbury looks as if that
monument existed, and may have long existed before it was built; but of
this hereafter.

Besides these three there are numerous barrows, both long and round, in
the neighbourhood, and British forts and villages; but these we propose
to pass over at present, confining our attention in the first instance
to the three monuments above enumerated.

The first question that arises on looking at such a structure as
Avebury, is whether it is a temple at all. It has already been
attempted in the preceding pages to show what the temples of Britain
were in the ages immediately succeeding the Roman occupation; but even
if it is conceded that they were small basilicas, it will be contended
that this is no answer to the question. If Avebury, it will be said,
is a temple, it belonged to a mysterious, mythical, prehistoric people
capable of executing such wonderful works before they came in contact
with the Romans, but who, strange to say, were incapable of doing
anything after the civilizing touch of that great people had left them
feebler, and more ignorant than they were before!

If this question, What is Avebury? is addressed to one--brought up in
the Druidical faith as most Englishmen have been--he at once answers,
It is a temple of the Druids. If pressed and reminded of the groves
and the oaks these sectaries delighted in, he will perhaps admit
that no soil is so little likely to grow oaks as the chalk downs of
Wiltshire, and that there is no proof that any oaks ever grew in the
neighbourhood. But this is not a complete answer, for it may be
contended that for some reason we cannot comprehend, the Druids may
have dispensed with trees on this occasion. The real difficulty is, as
before mentioned, that no stones or stone structures are ever mentioned
in connection with Druids.

If an educated man whose mind is free from prejudice or pre-conceived
ideas is asked the question, he runs over in his own mind what he knows
of the temples of other peoples--Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Rome, in the
ancient or the middle ages. They produced nothing of the sort. Persia,
India, China, or the countries in the Eastern seas are all equally
unsuggestive; nor will Mexico or Peru help him. The first conclusion,
therefore, that he inevitably arrives at is, if these were the temples
of the Britons, they must indeed have been a "Peculiar people," unlike
any other race that lived at any time in any part of the world.

If they were temples, to what god or gods were they dedicated? It
could hardly have been Mercury, or Apollo, or Mars, Jove, or Minerva,
mentioned by Cæsar,[80] as the gods worshipped by the Druids--and
though perhaps these were only the nearest synonyms of Roman gods
applied to Celtic divinities, still there must have been such
resemblances as to have justified these appellations. We know of what
form the temples of these gods were, and certainly they were not built
after the fashion of the circles at Avebury. Some antiquaries have
timidly suggested a dedication to the Sun. But there is certainly no
passage in any author, classical or mediæval, which would lead us to
suppose that our forefathers were addicted to the worship of a deity so
unlikely to be a favourite in such a climate as ours. But again, what
is a sun temple? Does one exist anywhere? Had the Wiltshire shepherds
attempted it, they probably would have found the same difficulty that
beset the fire-worshipping Persians of old. It is not easy to get the
sun into a temple fashioned by human hands, and his rays are far more
available on high places or on the sea-shore than inside walls or
enclosures of any sort.

Even putting aside the question to what god it was dedicated, what
kind of worship could be performed in such a place? It could not be
for speaking in. Our largest cathedrals are 600 feet long, and no man
would attempt from the altar of the lady chapel to address a crowd
beyond the west door; still less would he in the open air attempt to
address a crowd in a circle 1200 feet in diameter, and where from the
nature of the arrangements one half of the audience must be behind him.
Still less is it fitted for seeing. The floor of the area is perfectly
flat, and though people talk loosely of the crowd that could stand on
the vallum, or on the berm, or narrow ledge between the internal ditch
and the foot of the rampart, they forget that only one row of persons
could stand on a sharp-pointed mound, and that the berm is on the same
level as the rest of the floor, and is the last place any one would
choose, as 100 great stones were put up in front of it as if especially
designed to obstruct the view. This was, in fact, the case with all the
stones. Assuming the ceremony or action to take place in the centre
of either of the two inner circles, the double row of stones which
surround them is so placed as to obstruct the view in every direction
to the utmost possible extent. It may be suggested that the priest
might climb on to the cap-stone of the cove, in the northern circle,
and there perform his sacrifice in sight of the assembled multitude. It
would be difficult to conceive any place so ill suited for the purpose;
and even then, how would he manage on the point of the obelisk in the
centre of the southern circle? No place, in fact, can be so ill adapted
for either seeing or hearing as Avebury; and those who erected it would
have been below the capacity of ordinary idiots if they designed it for
either purpose. Besides this, it has none of the ordinary adjuncts of a
temple. There is no sanctuary, no altar, no ark, no procession path, no
priests' house, nothing that is found more or less prominently forming
a part of every temple in every part of the world.

Why so hypæthral? Are we to understand that the climate of the
Wiltshire downs is so perfect and equable that men can afford to
dispense with roofs or the ordinary protection against weather? or are
we to assume that the men who could move these masses of stone and
raise these mounds were such utter savages that they could not erect an
enclosed building of any sort?

Egypt possesses the finest and most equable climate in the world;
yet all her temples are roofed in a more careful manner and more
stately than our mediæval cathedrals, and so are all those of India
and the Eastern climes where shelter is far less wanted than here.
In all these countries and climes the temples of the gods are the
dwellings or halls of men, enlarged and improved. What they did well
for themselves, they did better for their deities. Are men therefore to
assume that the Wiltshire shepherd slept on the snow in winter, with
no other protection than a circle of widely spaced stones, and had no
idea of a roof? Yet, if he were not hardened by some such process, it
is difficult to see why he should build a temple so exposed to the
inclemency of the weather that no ceremony could be properly performed
in it for one half of the days of the year.

Another objection to the temple theory that would strike most people,
if they would think about it, is the enormous size of Avebury. Its area
is at least five times that of St. Peter's at Rome; 250,000 people
could easily be seated within its vallum, and half a million could
stand. Men generally try to adapt the size of their buildings to the
amount of accommodation required. But where should such a multitude
as this come from? How could they be fed? How could they be lodged?
There is no reason to suppose that in any ancient time before the
introduction of agriculture, the pastoral population on these downs
could ever have been greater than, or so great as, that which now
exists there. When Doomsday Book was compiled, there were only two
hides of arable land in the manor, and they seem to have belonged to
the church. A fair inference from which seems to be that, but for the
superior knowledge and influence of the priesthood, the inhabitants of
these downs might, in the eleventh century, have remained in the same
state of pastoral barbarity in which there is every reason to believe
they were sunk in pagan times. How a few shepherds, sparsely scattered
over these plains, could have erected or have required such a temple as
this, is the mystery that requires to be explained. A very small parish
church now suffices for their spiritual wants; and if 10,000 pilgrims,
even at the present day, when agriculture has been extended to every
available patch of ground, visited the place for a week, many of them
would be starving before it was over.

It would be easy to adduce fifty other arguments of this sort. Many
more must indeed occur to any one who will give himself the trouble
to think of the matter; but to those who are accustomed to such
investigations the two most convincing probably are, first, that there
is no evidence whatever of progress in the design of Avebury. It was
built and finished as first designed. The second is, that in it there
is a total absence of ornament. In India, we have temples as big as
Avebury; but their history is written on their faces. The first step in
the process is generally that a small shrine, with a narrow enclosure
and small gateway, becomes from some cause or other, sacred or rich,
and a second enclosure is added to contain halls for the reception of
pilgrims or the ceremonial display on festal occasions. But no god in
that pantheon can live alone. New shrines are added for other deities,
with new halls, new residences for priests, and more accommodation for
all the thousand and one requisites of a great idol establishment. This
requires a third or fourth new enclosure, up even to a seventh, as at
Seringham. But in all this there is progress: 200 or 300 years are
required, and each century--sometimes each decade--leaves its easily
recognised mark as the work progresses. In like manner, the great
temple at Karnac, though covering only one-third the area of Avebury,
took the Egyptians three centuries to build, and every step of its
progress can be easily traced. The works of the earlier Thotmes differ
essentially from those of Manepthah and Rameses, and theirs again from
those of Seshonk; and these again differ essentially from the little
shrine of Osortasen, which was the germ of the whole.

So it was with all our cathedrals. The small Saxon church was
superseded by the Norman nave with a small apsidal choir. This was
enlarged into the Early English presbytery, and beyond this grew
the lady chapel, and as the ill-built Norman work decayed, it was
replaced by Tudor constructions. But there is nothing of the sort at
Avebury. Had the temple been built or begun by the sparse inhabitants
of these downs, we should have seen something to show where the work
began. They must have brought one stone one year and another the
next, and inevitably they would have employed their leisure hours,
like the inhabitants of Easter Island, in carving these stones either
with ornaments or symbols, or fashioning them into idols. There is
absolutely no instance in the whole world where some evidence of care
and of a desire after ornament of some sort is not to be traced in
the temples of the people. Nothing, however, of the sort occurs here.
Indeed, if there is one thing more evident than another about Avebury,
it is that, as it was begun, so it was ended. There is no hesitation,
no sign of change: the same men, to all appearance, who traced its plan
saw its completion; and as they designed it, so they left it. There is
no sign of any human hand having touched it from that hour henceforward
till the sordid greed of modern farmers set to work to destroy it,
to build with its materials the alehouse and the village which now
occupies a small portion of the enclosure.

So too with regard to ornament. This structure, we may fairly assume,
if a temple, must have been in use for some centuries; but during that
time, or any shorter time that may be assumed, no man had the skill
or the inclination to adorn the greatest temple of his native land
either with carving or emblems or ornament of any kind. The men who
could conceive the great design--so great and noble--could do nothing
more. Their hands drooped in listless idleness by their sides, and they
were incapable of further exertion! Such a state of affairs, if not
impossible, is certainly unparalleled. No such example exists anywhere
else with reference to any temple, so far as we know, in any part of
the world. Tombs do show these peculiarities at times, temples never.

If these reasons are sufficient to prove that Avebury was not a temple,
there are more than can be required, to show that it was not a place
of meeting of ancient Britons. Whatever may be thought of the extent
of prehistoric assemblies, it will hardly be contended that it was
necessary to provide accommodation for the 250,000 men who could be
seated in the great circle. Even supposing it were intended only to
accommodate 12,000 or 13,000 lords and as many commons in the two
subordinate rings, they would hardly have arranged an inner circle
of great stones in the middle of each assembly, or placed a spiked
obelisk for a woolsack in the one or a tall dolmen under or behind
the Speaker's chair in the other. Nothing in fact could be conceived
so utterly unsuited for the purpose as these rings, and unless these
primeval men were very differently constituted from ourselves, any
assembly of elder-men who were likely to meet at Avebury would have
preferred a room however rude, and of one-hundredth part of the extent,
for their deliberations to the unsheltered and unsuitable magnificence
of the Big Stones. Of course, among all rude people, and often also
among those more civilized, open-air assemblies of the people will
take place; but then these will always be near the great centres
of population. Men will go into the desert for religious purposes,
but they prefer talking politics nearer home. In some communities a
Campus Martius or a Thing field may be set apart for the purpose;
but the first requisite of such a place of assembly is that it shall
be open and free from encumbrance of any sort. A Mote hill too, like
the terraced Tynwald Mount in the Isle of Man, is an intelligible
arrangement, not for a deliberative assembly, but as a rostrum from
which to proclaim law. We can also understand why Shire courts should
be held on barrows, as seems often to have been the case. For here
the judge occupied a dignified position on the summit. His assessors
stood behind him, and the pleaders and people in front. Instances
are also known in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries where local
courts were summoned to meet at the "standing stones," or in circles,
in Scotland at least;[81] but in all these instances it was apparently
to settle territorial disputes on the spot, and the stones or mounds
were merely indicated as well-known marks and, consequently, convenient
trysting-places. Even if this were not so, it would not be at all to
be wondered at that in the middle ages sepulchral circles or mounds
were habitually used as meeting-places. They were then old enough
to be venerable; and their antiquity must have conferred on them a
dignity suitable to the purpose, whatever their original destination
may have been. But all this is very different from erecting as a place
of assembly so huge and inconvenient a place as Avebury is, and always
must have been.

It seems needless to follow this line of argument further, for unless
it can be shown that the people who erected Avebury were so differently
constituted from ourselves that no reasoning derived from our
experience can be applied to them, the answer seems inevitable.

That no such Temple, nor has any such meeting-place, been built or
attempted by any set of men in any part of the world. But is there
any reason for supposing that the inhabitants of these downs differed
so essentially from ourselves? Dr. Thurnam has examined with care
some hundreds of skulls gathered from the grave-mounds in this
neighbourhood, and has published decades on decades of them.[82]
Yet the most learned craniologists cannot detect--except perhaps in
degree--any difference that would lead us to suppose that these ancient
men were not actuated by the same motives and governed by the same
moral influences as ourselves. If this is so, Avebury certainly was not
erected either as a temple or a place of assembly, in any sense of the
word which we can understand, and those who insist that it was either
are bound to explain what the motives or objects could have been which
induced the inhabitants of the Wiltshire downs to act in a manner so
entirely opposed to all we know of the actions or feelings of all other
nations in all other parts of the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

If, therefore, Avebury was neither a temple nor a place of assembly,
what was it? The answer does not seem far to seek. It must have been
a burying-place, but still not a cemetery in the ordinary sense of
the term. The inhabitants of these downs could never have required a
bigger and more magnificent burying-place than any other community in
Great Britain, and must always have been quite unequal to raise such
a monument. But what is more important than this, a cemetery implies
succession in time and gradations in rank, and this is exactly what
is most conspicuously wanting at Avebury. It may be the monument of
one king or two kings, but it is not a collection of the monuments of
individuals of various classes in life, or of a series of individuals
of the same rank, erected at different intervals of time. As before
remarked, it is in one design--"totus teres atque rotundus," erected
with no hesitation and no shadow of change.

If, however, we assume that Avebury was the burying-place of those who
fell in a great battle fought on the spot, every difficulty seems
at once to vanish. It is now admitted that men did bury in stone
circles or under dolmens, and beside head-stones and within earthen
enclosures, and what we find here differs only in degree from what we
find elsewhere. It seems just such a monument as a victorious army of
say 10,000 men could, with their prisoners, erect in a week. The earth
is light, and could easily be thrown up into the form of the vallum,
and the Sarsen stones lay all over the downs, and all on a higher
level than Avebury, which perhaps for that very reason is placed on
the lowest spot of ground in the neighbourhood. With a few rollers and
ropes, 10,000 men would very soon collect all the stones that ever
stood there, and stick them up on their ends. They probably would have
no skilled labour in their ranks, and no leisure, if they had, to
employ it in ornamentation of any sort. Without this, it is just such a
monument as might and would be raised by an illiterate army wishing to
bury with honour those who had fallen in the fight, and having at the
same time no other means of leaving on the spot a record of their own

On theoretical grounds, there seems to be no argument that can be urged
against this view; and during the ten years that it has been constantly
before the public none have been brought forward that deserve notice.
It is urged, however, that the evidence is not complete, and that
nothing written serves to confirm this view. Those who make the
objection forget that one of the first conditions of the problem is
that those who erected such a monument should be illiterate. If they
could have written to any primeval 'Times,' they would not have taken
such pains to lithograph their victory on the spot. Had they been able
either to read or write, an inscription would have done more than the
200 or 300 stones of Avebury; but because they could not write, they
raised them, and, for that reason also, left us the problem of finding
out why they did so.

We are not, however, wholly without evidence on this subject. Many
years ago Mr. Kemble printed a charter of King Athelstan, dated in 939,
which, describing the boundaries of the manor of Overton, in which
Avebury is situated, makes use of the following expression:--"Then by
Collas barrow, as far as the broad road to Hackpen, thence northward up
along the Stone row, thence to the burying-places."[83] It does not
seem to be a matter of doubt that the stone row here mentioned is the
Kennet Avenue, nor that the burying-places (byrgelsas) are the Avebury
rings; but it may be urged that the Saxon surveyor did not know what
he was talking about; and as, unfortunately, he does not say who were
buried there, and gives no corroborative evidence, all we learn from
this is that they were so considered in the tenth century.

Something more tangible was nearly obtained shortly before Stukeley's
time, when Lord Stawell levelled the vallum next the church, where
the great barn now stands. The original surface of the ground was
"easily distinguishable by a black stratum of mould on the chalk. Here
they found large quantities of buck-horns, bones, oyster-shells, and
wood-coals. An old man who was employed on the work says there was a
quantity of a cartload of horns, that they were very rotten, and that
there were very many burned bones among them."[84] On the same page,
Dr. Stukeley adds: "Besides some Roman coins accidentally found in and
about Abury, I was informed that a square bit of iron was taken up
under one of the great stones upon pulling it down." Other Roman coins
have, I understand, been found there since, but there is no authentic
record of the fact which can be quoted. This is to be regretted; for
the presence, if ascertained, of these coins would go far to prove that
the erection of the monument was after their date, whatever that may be.

Unfortunately no scientific man saw these bones, so no one was able
to say whether they were human or not; but the presumption is that
they were, for why should burned bones of animals be placed in such
a situation? The answer to this is that the Wiltshire Archæological
Society have made some excavations at Avebury, and found nothing. In
1865, they tapped the vallum in various places, and dug one trench to
its centre, and, as they found nothing, concluded that nothing was
to be found. But in a mound 4442 feet long, according to Sir R. Colt
Hoare, there must be many vacant spots, especially if the bodies were
burnt; and such negative evidence cannot be considered as conclusive,
nor as sufficient to disprove the evidence acquired in Lord Stawell's
diggings. Stukeley's honesty in recording facts of this sort is hardly
to be suspected, though the inferences he draws from his facts are
generally to be received with the extremest caution. The Society also
dug in the centre of the northern circle, where the dolmen stood,
and penetrated to the original chalk, but found nothing except the
ruins of the stones which had been destroyed by fire, and express
great disappointment at finding "no human bones whatever."[85] If the
bodies were burnt--as we should be led to infer from what Lord Stawell
found under the vallum--what they probably would have found, had the
"Cove" been complete, would have been a vase or urn with ashes. The
barbarians who destroyed the stones are scarcely likely to have spared
so worthless a piece of crockery; and if it were broken at the time,
it would be in vain a hundred years afterwards to look either for it
or for bones that in all probability were never laid there. Nor need
better results have been expected from their trench, 60 feet long. A
man must know very exactly what he is looking for, and where to look
for it, who expects to find an object like an urn, a foot in diameter,
in a 28-acre field. Judging from the experience obtained at Crichie, in
Scotland, where a funereal deposit was obtained at the foot of every
one of a circle of stones that stood inside a ditch like the internal
one at Avebury, it is there we should expect to find the deposit.[86]
That is just where nobody has thought of looking at Avebury, though
nothing would be easier. There are fifty or sixty empty holes, and any
one might without difficulty be enlarged, and if there were a deposit
at the foot of each, it would then inevitably be found.

       *       *       *       *       *

To this we shall return presently. Meanwhile let us see what evidence,
if any, is to be obtained from the circle on Hakpen Hill.

As before mentioned, this monument consists of two ovals, according to
Dr. Stukeley the outer one was 138 by 155 feet and the inner 45 by 51
feet. He does not give the dimensions of the stones; but Aubrey calls
them from 4 to 5 feet in height, which is confirmed by the Doctor's
engraving; and, altogether, they do not seem to average one-quarter the
size of those at Avebury. Of the avenue, only four stones are shown in
the plan woodcut (No. 16), and the same number is shown in the view
(plate xxi.). In both instances, the avenue is represented as perfectly
straight, and as trending rather to the southward of Silbury Hill.[87]
It extended, according to Aubrey, a quarter of a mile--say 440 yards.

[Illustration: 16. Circle on Hakpen Hill. From Stukeley.]

The most curious circumstance, however, connected with this circle is
that, at the distance of about 80 yards from the outer oval, there were
found two rows of skeletons, laid side by side, with their feet towards
the centre of the circles. In a curious letter, written by a Dr. Toope,
of Oxford, dated 1st December, 1685, addressed to Mr. Aubrey, and
published by Sir R. Colt Hoare,[88] it is said:--"I quickly perceived
them to be human." "Next day dugg up many bushells, with which I made
a noble medicine. The bones are large and nearly rotten, but the teeth
extream and wonderfully white. About 80 yards from where the bones were
found, is a temple 40 yards diameter, with another 15 yards; round
about bones layd so close that scul toucheth scul. Their feet all round
turned towards the temple, 1 foot below the surface of the ground. At
the feet of the first order lay the head of the next row, the feet
always tending towards the temple." Further on Aubrey asserts that a
ditch surrounded the temple, which Stukeley denies; but there seems no
difficulty in reconciling the two statements. The destruction of the
monument had commenced before Aubrey's time. For it is impossible to
conceive bodies lying for even 1000 or 1200 years in so light a soil,
at the depth of 1 foot or even 2 feet, exposed to the influence of rain
and frost, without their being returned to earth. Most probably there
was a ditch, and where there was a ditch there must have been a mound,
and that, if heaped over the bodies, might have protected them. The
vallum had disappeared in Aubrey's time; the ditch was filled up before
Stukeley's, and stones and all had been smoothed over in Sir R. Colt
Hoare's; so that now the site can hardly be defined with certainty. A
trench, however, cut across it, if it can be traced, might lead to some
curious revelations, for there can be no doubt whatever with regard
to the facts stated in Dr. Toope's letter. He was a medical man of
eminence, and knew human bones perfectly, and was too deeply interested
in the diggings, from which he drew "his noble medicine," and to which
he frequently returned, to be mistaken in what he stated.

Meanwhile, however, what interests us more at this stage of the
enquiry are the differences as well as the similarities of the two
monuments. The circles at Hakpen are on a very much smaller scale both
as to linear dimensions and the size of the stones than the circles
at Avebury; and the difference between burning and burying, which, so
far as the evidence goes, seems to have prevailed in the two places,
is also remarkable. Do they belong to two different ages, and, if so,
which is the elder? The evidence of the tumuli is uniform that the
inhabitants of this island buried before they burnt. But can these
bones be so old as this would force us to admit they were? So far as
the evidence at present goes, it seems impossible to carry the burials
on Hakpen Hill back to the earliest period of prehistoric interments;
the condition of the bones is sufficient to render such an hypothesis
untenable. Unless the phosphates and other component adjuncts remained
in them, they would have been as useless for medicine as for manure,
and the exposed position in which they lay would have reduced these to
dust or mud in a very few centuries. From the descriptions we have, the
bodies certainly were not in the contracted doubled-up position usual
in the so-called bronze age, and there were no traces of the cremations
apparently introduced by the Romans, and practised for some time after
they left. All appear to have been laid out in the extended position
afterwards adopted and continued to the present day. In fact everything
would lead us to suppose that Camden was not far wrong in saying that
these were the bones of the Saxons and Danes slain at the battle of
Kennet in A.D. 1006.[89] Even then, unless there was a mound
over them, they could hardly have lasted 600 years in the state in
which they were found. If we do not adopt this view, but insist that
Hakpen and Avebury are contemporary monuments, and part of one great
plan, the only hypothesis that occurs to me that will at all account
for their peculiarities is that the victorious army burnt and buried
their dead at Avebury, and that the defeated force got permission to
bury their dead more modestly on Hakpen Hill.

[Illustration: 17. Section of Silbury Hill.]

Silbury Hill, which forms the third member of our group, is situated
nearly due south from Avebury, at a distance of 1200 yards from the
outside of the ring, of the former, to the foot of the hill, or, as
nearly as may be, one Roman mile from centre to centre. Mr. Rickman[90]
based an argument on the latter fact, as if it proved the post-Roman
origin of the group; and like the many recurring instances of 100 feet
and 100 yards, which run through all the megalithic remains, it may
have some value, but, as a single instance, it can only be looked upon
as a coincidence.

The dimensions of the hill, as ascertained by the Rev. Mr. Smith, of
Yatesbury,[91] are that it is 130 feet in height, 552 feet in diameter,
and 1657 feet in circumference; that the flat top is 104 feet or 102
feet across,[92] according to the direction in which it is measured;
this last being another Roman coincidence, as the top has no doubt both
sunk and spread. The angle of the slope of the sides is 30 degrees to
the horizon.

In the year 1777 a shaft was sunk from the top of the mound to the
base, by order of the then Duke of Northumberland and Colonel Drax,
but no record has been preserved of what they found, or rather did
not find, for had they made any discovery of the least importance,
it certainly would have been communicated to some of the learned
societies of the day. Subsequently, in 1849, a shaft was driven nearly
horizontally from the southern face on the level of the original soil
to the centre, where it met the Duke's shaft; and subsequently a
circular gallery was carried round the centre, but in vain; nothing was
found in these excavations that would show that the mound had ever been
used for sepulchral purposes, or that threw any light whatever on its
history or destination.[93]

Judging from the analogies gathered from our knowledge of the parallel
Indian series, we ought not to be surprised if this really were the
only result. From the accounts of the Chinese travellers who visited
India in the fifth and seventh centuries, we learn that about one-half
of the topes they saw and described were erected to commemorate
events, and not to contain relics, or as simulated tombs. Wherever
Buddha or any of his followers performed any miracles, or where any
event happened of sufficient importance to make it desirable that the
memory of the locality where it happened should be preserved, there
a Tope was erected. To take an example as bearing more directly than
usual on our present subject. When Dutthagamini, king of Ceylon (161
B.C.), defeated the usurper Ellala, and restored the true
faith, "he erected near the capital a dagoba in commemoration of his
victory. A stone pillar marks the spot where the action commenced,
and another stone pillar exists there with an inscription to the
effect that it marks the spot rendered sacred by the death and blood
of Ellala."[94] The dagoba is a simple mound of earth, and, so far as
known, has never been opened. In Afghanistan, many of the topes opened
by Messrs. Masson and Honigberger were found to be what they call
"blind topes," but they were not able to detect by any external sign
whether their researches were likely to be rewarded with success or to
end in disappointment.[95]

Whether these analogies are worth anything or not, nothing appears, at
first sight at least, more probable than that, if the fallen chiefs
of a victorious army are buried at Avebury, the survivors should
have employed their prisoners as slaves to erect a mound on the spot
probably where the chiefs were slain and the battle decided. The
tradition, however, having been lost, the mound stands silent and
uncommunicative, and it is not easy now to read its riddle.

It is very premature, however, to speculate either on these analogies
or on the negative results of the explorations made into the hill:
these last were undertaken, like the diggings at Avebury, on the
empirical assumption that the principal deposit would be found in the
centre, and at Silbury on the ground level, which is exactly the place
where almost certainly it was not. Supposing that there is a low-level
sepulture at Silbury, it probably will be found within 30 or 40 yards
of the outer face of the mound, on the side looking towards Avebury,
if it is connected with that monument. But the knowledge we have
acquired, as will be afterwards detailed, from the examination of the
Minning Lowe, Arbor Lowe, Rose Hill tumuli, and other monuments of this
class, would lead us to expect to find the principal deposit near the
summit. The bit of a bridle (woodcut No. 18) and the traces of armour
which were found in Stukeley's time, near the summit, mark in all
probability the position of the principal graves, and nothing would
surprise me less than if five or six entombments were found arranged
around the upper plateau at a small depth below the surface. We shall
be in a better position to judge how far this is probable when we have
finished this chapter; but till the evidence is adduced, it is useless
to speculate on its effect.

[Illustration: 18. Iron Bit of Bridle. Found in Silbury Hill.]

At one time I hoped that the Roman road might be found to have passed
under the hill, and if this were the case, it would settle the question
as to whether it were pre- or post-Roman. In order to ascertain this,
some excavations were made into the hill in 1867, and simultaneously
on the high ground to the southward of it. As traces which seemed
undoubtedly to mark the existence of the road running past the hill,
at about 50 to 100 yards to the southward, were found there, the
excavations into the hill were discontinued, and the line of the road
considered as established. Owing to various mishaps, no plan of these
discoveries has yet been published, but the annexed woodcut, which is
traced from the Ordnance Survey sheet, will suffice to explain its
bearing on the question.

[Illustration: 19. Plan of Avebury, from Ordnance Survey. The line of
the Roman road is hatched throughout.]

Standing on Silbury Hill and looking westward, the road coming from
Bath over the downs seems to come direct at the hill. After passing the
Devizes road, it trends to the southward, and shortly again resumes
its original direction. About a mile before it reaches the hill, it
again resumes its southward direction, and passes it at a distance
of between 50 to 100 yards, making, apparently, for the spot where
the bridge over the Kennet now exists, and may have existed in Roman
times. Those who contend for the pre-Roman antiquity of the hill rest
their case on the assumption that the Romans always made or wished to
make their roads perfectly straight, and that this being deflected to
the south, it was in consequence of the hill being there at the time
the road was made. This, however, is singularly contradicted by the
line of this very road westwards from the Devizes road. According to
the Ordnance Survey, it is set out in a curve for 3½ miles till it
meets the Wandsdyke. Why this was done is not clearer than why the road
should have been curved to the eastward of the Devizes road. But, on
the other hand, supposing the hill to have been where it now stands,
and the Romans wished the road to be straight, nothing in the world was
so easy as for them to set out a line mathematically straight between
the Devizes road and the point where it passes the hill. The country
is and was perfectly open, and quite as flat as any Roman road-maker
could desire, and signals could have been seen throughout with perfect
facility. It is crediting the Roman surveyors with a degree of
stupidity they certainly did not show elsewhere, to say, if they wanted
a straight road, that seeing the hill before their eyes, they first
set out their road towards it, when they knew that before they had
advanced a mile, they must bend it so as to avoid that very obstacle.
Even then they would have tried to make it as straight as possible,
and would have adopted the line of the present coach-road, which runs
inside their line and between it and the hill. At the same time, if
any one will turn to Sir R. Colt Hoare's map of the Roman roads in
this district--"Stations Calne and Swindon"--which includes Avebury,
he will find that all are set out in lines more or less curvilinear,
and sometimes violently so, when any object was to be gained by so
doing. Though, therefore, as a general rule, it is safe to argue on the
presumption of the straightness of Roman roads, it may lead to serious
error to rely on such evidence in every instance.

The inference drawn from the piece of the Roman road further eastward
on Hakpen Hill is the same. It is perfectly distinct and quite straight
for about a mile, but if it had been continued in that line, it would
have passed the hill at a distance of at least 200 yards to the
southward, and never have joined the other piece till long after it
had passed the Devizes road. It was deflected northward in the village
of Kennet, apparently to reach the bridge, and then to join the piece
coming from Bath.

The result of all this seems to be, that the evidence of the Roman
road is inconclusive either way and must be withdrawn. Taking the
point where it passes the Devizes road, and the piece which is found
on Hakpen hill as fixed points, to join these it must have passed
considerably to the southward of the hill; whether it did so in a
mathematically straight line or in one slightly curved, was a matter
for the judgment of the surveyor; but till we know his motives, it is
not in our power to found any argument upon them.

[Illustration: 20. Elevation of the Bartlow Hills. From the
'Archæologia,' xxx.]

If, however, the Roman road refuses to give evidence in this cause,
the form of the hill offers some indications which are of value. As
before mentioned, it is a truncated straight-lined cone, sloping at an
angle of 30° to the horizon, while all the British barrows known are
domical or, at least, curvilinear in section. In all his experience,
Sir R. Colt Hoare met with only one straight-lined monument of this
class, which consequently he calls the Conical Barrow. Whether it
was truncated or not is not quite clear. There are bushes, or weeds,
growing out of the top, which conceal its form.[96] Nothing was found
in the barrow to indicate its age except a brass (bronze?) spear-head,
but it was attached to a British village, apparently of the Roman
period, inasmuch as iron nails and Roman pottery were found in it.[97]
Be this as it may, there are a range of tumuli at Bartlow, on the
boundary between Essex and Cambridgeshire, which are all truncated
cones, and are undoubtedly of Roman origin. A coin of Hadrian was
found in the chamber of one of them, and Mr. Gage, and the other
archæologists who were present at the opening, were all agreed that all
the four opened were of about the same age.[98] We may therefore feel
assured that they were not earlier than the time of Hadrian, though
from the style of workmanship of the various articles found, I would
feel inclined to consider them somewhat more modern, but that is of
little consequence. The point that interests us most is, that the angle
of the Conical Barrow quoted above is 45° to the horizon, that of the
principal tumuli at Bartlow 37½° and that of Silbury Hill 30°. Here
we certainly have a sequence not long enough to be quite satisfactory,
but still of considerable value, as an indication that Silbury hill was

On the other hand, we have undoubted evidence that the truncated
conical form was common in post-Roman times. We have one, for instance,
at Marlborough, close by, and if that place was Merlin's bury, as Sir
R. Colt Hoare would fain persuade us it was, it assists us considerably
in our argument. Without insisting on this, however, Mr. George Clark,
in his most valuable paper on Ancient English Castles,[99] enumerates
ninety truncated cones erected in England, he considers, between the
Roman times and the Norman conquest. "These earthworks," he says,
"may be thus described: First was cast up a truncated cone of earth,
standing at its natural slope from 50 feet to 100 feet in diameter at
the top, and from 20 feet to 50 feet high."[100] Mr. Clark does not
believe that these were ever sepulchral, nor does it occur to him that
they might be memorial. I should, however, be disinclined to accept
the first conclusion as absolute till excavations had been made into
some of them, at least, where I fancy we may find indications rather
tending the other way. Whether they were memorial or not must depend
on traditions that have not hitherto been looked for. Mr. Clark's
contention was that all had at some time or other been used for
residential purposes, and as fortifications, and many are recorded as
having been erected as castles. All this is probably quite correct, but
the point that interests us here is, that there are nearly one hundred
examples of truncated cones of earth thrown up in England after the
Roman times, and not one before. If this is so, the conclusion seems
inevitable that Silbury Hill must belong to the latter age. Whether
this conclusion can be sustained or not, must depend on what follows
from the other monuments we are about to examine. The evidence of the
monument itself, which is all we have hitherto had an opportunity of
bringing forward, may be sufficient to render it probable, but not to
prove the case. Unless other examples can be adduced whose evidence
tends the same way, the case cannot be taken as proved, however strong
a _prima facie_ presumption may be established.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: 21. Marden Circle. From Sir R. C. Hoare. No Scale.]

Though a little distant, it may be convenient to include the Marden
circle in the Avebury group. It is situated in a village of that name
seven miles south of Silbury Hill. When Sir R. Colt Hoare surveyed it
fifty years ago, the southern half of the vallum had been so completely
destroyed, that it could not be traced, and he carried it across the
brook, making the whole area about fifty-one acres.[101] My impression
is that this is a mistake, and that the area of the circle was only
about half that extent. The rampart was of about the same section as
Avebury, and the ditch was inside as there. Within this enclosure were
two mounds, situated unsymmetrically, like the circles at Avebury. The
greater one was opened with great difficulty, owing to the friable
nature of the earth of which it was composed; and Mr. Cunnington was
convinced that it was sepulchral, and contained one or more burials
by cremation; but Sir R. Colt Hoare was so imbued with the Druidical
theory as to Avebury, that he could not give up the idea that so
similar a monument must be also a Druidical altar, and the whole a
temple. The second barrow was too much ruined to yield any results, and
on revisiting the spot, it was found to have been cleared away. A great
part of the vallum had also been removed, but in it was found at least
one skeleton of a man who had been buried there.[102] How many more
there may have been it is impossible to say. The destroyers of these
antiquities were not likely to boast of the number of bodies they had

The great interest of this circle is that it contains in earth the
counterpart of what was found at Avebury in stone; not that this
necessarily betokens either an earlier or a later age. There are no
stones to be found at Marden, which is on the edge of the chalk, while
the country about Avebury was and is covered with Sarsens to this
day. It may, however, be considered as very positive evidence of the
sepulchral nature of that monument, if such were needed, and if it
were thoroughly explored, might perhaps settle the question of the age
of both. In this respect, the Marden monument affords a better field
for the explorer than Avebury. The destruction or disfigurement of its
mound, or vallum, would be no great loss to antiquaries, if a proper
record were kept of their present appearance; while to do anything
tending towards the further dilapidation of Avebury is a sacrilege from
which every one would shrink.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before leaving the neighbourhood it now only remains to try and
determine who the brave men were who were buried at Avebury, and who
the victors who raised the mound at Silbury, assuming that the one is
a burying place, and the other a trophy. Some years ago I suggested
it was those who fell in Arthur's last and greatest battle of Badon
Hill, fought somewhere in this neighbourhood in the year A.D.
520,[103] and nothing that has since occurred has at all shaken my
conviction in the correctness of this determination,[104] but a good
deal has tended to confirm it.

The authors of the 'Monumenta Britannica' fix the site of this battle
at Banesdown, near Bath, which is the generally received opinion.[105]
Carte, and others, have suggested Baydon Hill, about thirteen miles
west by north from Avebury, while Dr. Guest carries it off to Badbury,
in Dorset,[106] a distance of forty miles. Unfortunately, Gildas, who
is our principal authority on this matter, only gives us in three
words all he has to say of the locality in which it was fought--"Prope
Sabrinum Ostium";[107] and it has been asserted that these words are
an interpolation, because they are not found in all the ancient MSS.
If they are, however, an insertion, they are still of very ancient
date, and would not have been admitted and repeated if they had not
been added by some one who knew or had authority for introducing them.
As the words are generally translated, they are taken to mean near the
mouth of the Severn, a construction at once fatal to the pretensions
of Bath, which it is impossible any one should describe as near that
river, even if any one could say where the mouth of that river is. It
is most difficult to determine where the river ends and the estuary
begins, and to a mediæval geographer, especially, that point must
have been much nearer Gloucester than even Bristol. This, however,
is of little consequence, as the words in the text are not "Sabrinæ
ostium," but "Sabrinum ostium"; and as the river is always spoken of
as feminine, it is not referred to here, and the expression can only
be translated as "near the Welsh gate." Nor does it seem difficult to
determine where the Welsh gate must have been.

The Wandsdyke always seems to have been regarded as a barrier erected
to stop the incursions of the Welsh into the southern counties, and
that part of it extending from Savernake forest westward, for ten or
twelve miles, seems at some comparatively recent period to have been
raised and strengthened[108] (either by the Belgæ or Saxons) to make
it more effectual for that purpose. According as an army is advancing
northward from Winchester, or Chichester to the Severn valley, or is
marching from Gloucester or Cirencester towards the south, the rampart
either protects or bars the way. In its centre, near the head-waters
of the Kennet, the Saxons advanced in 557 to the siege of Barbury
Castle, and having gained that vantage ground, they again advanced in
577 to Deorham, and fought the battle that gave them possession of
Glewanceaster, Cyrenceaster, and Bathanceaster.[109] What they then
accomplished they seem to have attempted unsuccessfully thirty-seven
years earlier, and to have been stopped in the attempt by Arthur
at Badon Hill. If this is so, there can be very little difficulty
in determining the site of the Welsh gate as that opening through
which the road now passes 2½ miles south of Silbury Hill, in the
very centre of the strengthened part of the Wandsdyke. If this is
so, the Saxons under Cerdic must have passed through the village of
Avebury, supposing it then existed, on their way to Cirencester; and
if we assume that they were attacked on Waden hill by Arthur, the
whole history of the campaign is clear. If we may rely on a nominal
similarity the case may be considered as proved. Waden is the name by
which the hill between Avebury and Silbury is called at the present
day by the people of the country, and it is so called on the Ordnance
survey sheets, and etymologically Waden is more like Badon than Baydon,
or Badbury, or any other name in the neighbourhood. The objection
to this is that Waden Hill is not fortified, and that Gildas speaks
of the "Obsessio Montis Badonici." It is true there is no trace of
any earthworks on it now, but in Stukeley's time there were tumuli
and earthen rings (apparently sepulchral) on its summit, which are
represented in his plates; but no trace of these now remains. The hill
was cultivated in his day, and in a century or so beyond his time all
traces of ramparts may have been obliterated, supposing them to have
existed. The true explanation of the difficulty, however, I believe to
be found in Jeffrey of Monmouth's account of these transactions. He
is a frail reed to rely upon; but occasionally he seems to have had
access to authorities now lost, and their testimony at times throws
considerable light on passages of our history otherwise obscure.
According to him there was both a siege and a battle; and his account
of the battle is so circumstantial and so probable, that it is
difficult to believe it to be a pure invention. If it is not, every
detail of his description would answer perfectly to an attack on an
army posted on Waden Hill.[110] The siege would then probably be that
of Barbury Hill, which Cerdic would be obliged to raise on Arthur's
advance; and retreating towards the shelter of the Wandsdyke, he was
overtaken at this spot and defeated, and so peace was established for
many years between the Brits and the Saxons. It may be true that the
written evidence is not either sufficiently detailed or sufficiently
precise to establish the fact that the battle was fought on this spot.
It must, however, be conceded that nothing in all that is written
contradicts what is here advanced, and when to this we add such a
burying place, Avebury at one end of Waden Hill, and such a monument
as Silbury Hill at the other, the proofs that it was so seem to me to
amount as nearly to certainty as we can now expect to arrive at in such

Those who believe, however, that all these monuments are absolutely
prehistoric, will not, of course, be convinced by any argument derived
from a single monument; but if it should turn out that even a more
certain case can be made out for the equally modern age of others, that
point must eventually be conceded. When it is, I feel no doubt that it
will come eventually to be acknowledged that those who fell in Arthur's
twelfth and greatest battle were buried in the ring at Avebury, and
that those who survived raised these stones and the mound at Silbury
in the vain hope that they would convey to their latest posterity the
memory of their prowess.


Although from its exceptional character Stonehenge is not so valuable
as some others for evidence of the age or uses of the rest of the
monuments of this class, it is in some respects even more important
for our argument, inasmuch as it possesses a more complete mediæval
history than almost any other of the series. It must be confessed that
this history is neither so clear nor so complete as might be wished;
but, with the other evidence that can be adduced, it makes up a case so
strong as to leave little to be desired. Before, however, proceeding to
this, it is necessary to ascertain what Stonehenge really is, or rather
was, for strange to say, though numberless restorations of it have
been published, not one is quite satisfactory. There is very little
discrepancy of opinion with regard to the outer circle or the five
great central trilithons, but there is the greatest possible variety of
opinion as to the number and position of the smaller stones inside the
central or between the two great circles.

[Illustration: 22. General Plan of Stonehenge. From 'Knight's Old

There seems to be no doubt that the outer stone circle originally
consisted of thirty square piers, spaced tolerably equally in the
circle. Though only twenty-six can now be identified, either standing
or lying in fragments on the ground, it seems equally certain that
they were all connected by a continuous stone impost or architrave,
though only six of these are now in _situ_.[111] The diameter of the
circle is generally stated to be about 100 feet, and as this has been
suggested as a reason for its being considered as post-Roman, it is
important to know what its exact dimensions are. It turns out that
from the face of one pier to that of the opposite one, where both are
perpendicular, the distance is 97·6, or exactly 100 Roman feet. The
distance from the outer face of these piers to inside of the earthen
vallum that surrounds the whole is again 100 feet, though that cannot
now be ascertained within a foot or two, or even more; but as this
makes up the 100 yards and the 100 feet which recur so often in these
monuments, these dimensions can hardly be considered accidental, and
"valeant quantum" are an indication of their post-Roman date.[112]

Inside these outer circles stand the five great trilithons. Since the
publication of Sir R. Colt Hoare's plan, their position and plan may
be considered as settled. According to him, the height of the outer
pair is 16·3, of the intermediate pair 17·2, and of the great central
trilithon as it now stands 21·6. In their simple grandeur they are
perhaps the most effective example of megalithic art that ever was
executed by man. The Egyptians and Romans raised larger stones, but
they destroyed their grandeur by ornament, or by their accompaniments;
but these simple square masses on Salisbury plain are still unrivalled
for magnificence in their own peculiar style.

All the stones in these two great groups are Sarsens, as they are
locally called, a peculiar class of silicious sandstone that is found
as a local deposit in the bottoms of the valleys between Salisbury and
Swindon. It is the same stone as is used at Avebury, the difference
being that there the stones are used rough in their natural state,
here they are hewn and fitted with very considerable nicety. Each of
the uprights has a tenon on its surface, and the undersides of the
architrave, or horizontal piece, have each a mortice, or rather two
mortices, into which these tenons fit with considerable exactness.

[Illustration: 23. Stonehenge as at present existing, from Mr.
Hawkshaw's plan.]

Besides these there are even now eleven stones, some standing, others
thrown down, but still existing, within the inner circle. These are
of a different nature, being all cut from igneous rocks, such as are
not to be found nearer than Cornwall or even Ireland. It has not been
exactly ascertained whence they came; indeed, they seem to be of
various kinds, and consequently must have been brought from different
places. Locally they are called Blue stones, and it may be well to
adopt that short title for the present, as involving no theory, and as
sufficing to distinguish them from the local Sarsens.

[Illustration: 24. Plan of Stonehenge restored.]

None of the blue stones are large; one of the finest (23 in Sir R. Colt
Hoare's plan) is 7 feet 6 inches high, 2 feet 3 inches wide at base,
tapering to 1 foot on top. The others are generally smaller. One blue
stone opposite 23 is grooved with a channel from top to bottom, though
for what purpose it is not easy to guess. On the most cursory glance,
it is evident that these stones generally stood in pairs, about 3 feet
apart; but some are so completely overthrown and displaced, that it
is not quite clear whether this can be predicated of all. Entering
the choir on the left hand we find one that seems to stand alone. But
we may infer that this was not always so, from the circumstance that
there lies close by it an impost stone with two mortice holes in it,
only 3 feet 6 inches apart, which must have belonged to a smaller order
of trilithons, and is just such as would fit a pair of blue stones.
The next pair on the left is very distinct, and stands between the two
great trilithons. The next pair is also similarly situated. On the
opposite side there are two pairs, but situated, as far as can be made
out, in front of, and not between the trilithons; and again, there
are two blue stones behind the stone called the Altar stone, but so
displaced by the fall of the great trilithon behind them, that it is
impossible to make out their original position with certainty.

It will probably be impossible to determine whether all the pairs of
the stones were miniature trilithons or not, till we are able to turn
over all the stones that now strew the ground, and see if there is a
second stone with two mortices 3 or 4 feet apart. In the meanwhile
there is a passage in Henry of Huntingdon's work which may throw some
light on the subject. He describes "Lapides miræ magnitudinis in modum
portarum elevati sunt, ita ut portæ portis superpositæ videantur."[113]
With a very little latitude of translation, this might be taken as
referring to the great trilithons towering over the smaller; but
if we are to adhere to the literal meaning of the words, this is
inadmissible. Another explanation has therefore been suggested. The
impost stone of the great trilithon has apparently mortice holes on
both sides. If those on one side are not mere wearings of the weather,
this must indicate that something stood upon it. If we assume two
cubical blocks, and raise on them the stone now called the Altar stone,
which is of the exact dimensions required, we would have an arrangement
very similar to that of the Sanchi gateway,[114] a cast of which is
now exhibiting at South Kensington, and which would fully justify
Huntingdon's words. If it is objected that it is a long way to go to
Sanchi to look for a type, it may be answered that the Imperial coins
of Cyprus show a very similar construction, and both may be derived
from a common centre. On the whole, however, I am inclined to the first
explanation. There certainly were large and small trilithons, and too
great accuracy of description is not to be expected from a Latin writer
in the middle ages.

A good deal of astonishment has been expressed at the labour it must
have required to transport these blue stones from Cornwall or Wales
and to set them up here. If we refer them to the pre-Roman times of
our naked blue painted ancestors, the difficulties are, of course,
considerable. But after Roman times, the class of vessels they were in
the habit of building in these islands must have made their transport
by sea easy, even if they came from Ireland, as I believe they did. And
any one who has seen with what facility Chinese coolies carry about
monolithic pillars 10 feet and 12 feet long, and thick in proportion,
will not wonder that twenty or thirty men should transport these from
the head of Southampton water to Stonehenge.[115] With the works the
Romans left, and the modicum of civilization the natives could not fail
to have imbibed from them, the whole was simple, and must have been

Still more wonder has been expressed at the mass of the stones
composing the great trilithons themselves, and speculations have been
rife as to how our forefathers could, without machinery, drag these
masses to the spot, and erect them as they now stand. A good deal of
this wonder has been removed, since it was understood that the Sarsens
of which they are composed are a natural deposit, found on the surface
on all the bottoms in the Wiltshire downs. Owing to the progress of
civilization, they have disappeared about Salisbury, but they are still
to be seen in hundreds in Clatford bottom, and all about Avebury, and
in the northern portion of the downs. The distance, therefore, that
the stones of Stonehenge had to be dragged was probably very small;
and over a hard, even surface of chalk down, with a few rollers and
ropes, must have been a task of no great difficulty. Nor would the
process of blocking them up with a temporary mound composed of wood
and chalk be one that would frighten a rude people with whom time was
no object. After all, Stonehenge is only child's play as compared
with the monolithic masses the Egyptians quarried, and carved, and
moved all over their country, long before Stonehenge was thought of,
and without machinery in the sense in which we understand the term.
In India, our grandfathers might have seen far more wonderful things
done before we crushed all feeling and enterprise out of the people.
The great gateway, for instance, at Seringham is 40 feet high, 21 feet
wide, and 100 feet deep. The four door posts are each of a single block
of granite, more, consequently, than 40 feet in length, for they are
partially buried in the earth. The whole is roofed by slabs of granite,
each more than 21 feet long, and raised to the height of 40 feet;
and all of these, though of granite, are elaborately carved. Yet the
building of the gateway was stopped by our quarrel with the French for
the possession of Trichinopoly in the middle of the last century. The
Indians in those days had no machinery, but with plenty of hands and
plenty of leisure mountains may be raised; and it is on this principle
that barbarous nations act and by which they achieve such wonders. The
masses of Stonehenge are not, however, so very great after all, but
they impose by their simplicity. To use an apparent paradox, it is one
of the most artistic buildings in the world from its very want of art.
The 40 feet monoliths of Seringham do not impress as much as the 20
feet stones of Stonehenge, because the one is covered with sculpture,
the other more nearly in a state of nature, and the effect on the mind
is immensely enhanced by the monolithic simplicity of the whole.

Strange to say, this very grandeur and apparent difficulty is one of
the most common reasons adduced for its pre-Roman antiquity. Few can
escape from an ill-defined impression that what is great and difficult
must also be ancient, though the probability is, that if the feeling
were analyzed it would be found to have arisen from the learning we
imbibed in the nursery, and which told us of the giants that lived in
the olden time. If, however, we turn from the teachings of nursery
rhymes to the pages of sober history, what we learn is something very
different. Without laying too much stress on the nakedness and blue
paint of our ancestors, all history, and the testimony of the barrows,
would lead us to suppose that the inhabitants of this island, before
the Romans occupied it, were sparse, poor in _physique_, and in a very
low state of civilization. Though their national spirit may have been
knocked out of them, they must have increased in number, in physical
comfort, and in civilization during the four centuries of peaceful
prosperity of the Roman domination, and therefore in so far as that
argument goes, became infinitely more capable of erecting such a
monument as Stonehenge after the departure of the Romans than they had
been before their advent.

It certainly appears one of the strangest inversions of logic to assume
that the same people erected Stonehenge who, during the hundreds, or
it may be the thousands, of years of their occupation, could attempt
nothing greater than the wretched mole-hills of barrows which they
scraped up all over the Wiltshire downs. Not one of those has even a
circle of stone round its base; nowhere is there a battle stone or a
stone monument of any sort. Though the downs must have been covered
with Sarsens, they had neither sense nor enterprise sufficient even to
set one of those stones on end. Yet we are asked to believe that the
same people, in the same state, erected Stonehenge and Avebury, and
heaped up Silbury Hill. These monuments may be the expression of the
feelings of the same race; but if I am not very much mistaken, in a
very different and much more advanced state of civilization.

       *       *       *       *       *

We shall be in a better position to answer a question which has
frequently been raised, whether or not the blue stones were a part
of the original structure, or were added afterwards, when we have
discussed the materials for the history of its erection; meanwhile
we may pass from these, which are the really interesting part of the
structure, to the circle which is generally supposed to have existed
between the outer circle of Sarsens and the inner choir of great stones.

With regard to this nothing is certain, except in respect to eight
stones, which stretched across the entrance of the choir, and may
consequently be called the choir screen. Of the four on the right hand
side only one has fallen, but it is still there; on the left hand only
two remain, and only one is standing, but the design is perfectly
clear. The two central stones are 6 feet high, and the stones fall off
by regular gradation right and left to 3 feet at the extremities. They
are rude unhewn Sarsen stones, but there is nothing to indicate whether
they were, or were not, a part of the original design.

Beyond this, between the two great Sarsen circles, there exist some
nine or ten stones, but whether they are in _situ_ or not, or whether
they were ever more numerous, it seems impossible to determine. On
the left hand, near the centre, are a pair that may have been a
trilithon, but the rest are scattered so unsymmetrically that it
would be dangerous to hazard any conjecture with regard to their
original arrangement. It seems, however, most improbable that while
the choir screen is so nearly entire even now, that this circle, if it
ever existed, should have been so completely destroyed. Had it been
complete, it would probably have consisted of 40 stones (excluding, of
course, the choir screen), and of these only 10, if so many, can be
said to belong to it. These are rude unhewn stones, and of no great

In addition to these, there are two stones now overthrown lying inside
the vallum, unsymmetrically with one another, or with anything else.
Here again the question arises, were there more? There is nothing on
the spot to guide us to our answer, and as nothing hinges upon it, I
may perhaps be allowed to suggest that each of these marks a secondary
interment. At the foot of each, I fancy urns or bones, or some evidence
of a burial might be found, and if the place had continued for a
century as a burying place, it might have been surrounded by its circle
of stones, like Avebury, or Crichie, or Stanton moor. The place,
however, may have become deserted shortly after these two were erected,
and none have been added since.

There are still two other stones, one standing, one lying in the short
avenue that leads up to the temple. Their position is exactly that
of the two stones, which are all that is visible of the so-called
Beckhampton avenue, at Avebury. But what their use is it is difficult
to guess. Were either of the places temples, they would have been
placed opposite one another on each side of the avenue, so that the
priests in procession and people might pass between, but being placed
one behind the other in the centre of the roadway, they must have had
some other meaning. What that may have been I am unable to suggest. The
spade may tell us if judiciously applied, but except from the spade I
do not know where to look for a solution of the riddle.

Those who consider that Stonehenge was a temple have certainly much
better grounds for such a theory than it would be possible to establish
in respect to Avebury. Indeed, looking at the ground plan above, there
is something singularly templar in its arrangement. In the centre is
a choir, in which a dignified service could be performed, and a stone
lies now just in such a position as to entitle it to the appellation it
generally receives of the altar stone. Unfortunately for this theory,
however, it lies flush with the ground, and even if we assume that
the surface has been raised round it, its thickness is not sufficient
to entitle it to be so called, judging from any analogous example we
know of elsewhere. Around the choir is what may fairly be considered
the procession path; and if its walls had only been solid, and there
were any indications that the building had ever been roofed, it would
be difficult to prove that it was not erected as a temple, and for
worship. As, however, it has no walls, and it is impossible to believe
that it was ever intended to be roofed, all the arguments that apply to
Avebury in this respect are equally applicable here, with this one in
addition. Unless its builders were much more pachydermatous, or woolly,
than their degenerate descendants, when they chose this very drafty and
hypæthral style of architecture, they would certainly have selected a
sheltered spot on the banks of the Avon close by, where, with trees
and other devices, they might have provided some shelter from the
inclemency of the weather. They never would have erected their temples
on the highest and most exposed part of an open chalk down, where no
shelter was possible, and no service could be performed except at
irregular intervals, dependent on the weather throughout the year. As,
however, it differs not only in plan but in construction--being hewn
and having imposts--from all the rude stone circles we are acquainted
with elsewhere, no theory will be quite satisfactory that does not
account for this difference. My belief is, that this difference arises
from the fact that alone of all the monuments we know of its class,
it was erected leisurely and in time of peace by a prince retaining a
considerable admixture of Roman blood in his veins. All, or most of the
others, seem to be records of battles erected in haste by soldiers and
unskilled workmen: but of this hereafter.

Owing to its exceptional character, the usual analogies apply less
directly to Stonehenge than to almost any other monument.

[Illustration: 25. Tomb of Isidorus, at Khatoura.]

We shall be better able to judge how far those derived from India
apply, when we have described the monuments of that country. In Europe
the trilithon is certainly exceptional, and its origin not easily
traced. My own impression is, that it is only an improved dolmen,
standing on two legs instead of three, or four; but if that is so,
the intermediate steps are wanting which would enable us to connect
the two in a logical manner. They were not, however, quite unknown in
the Roman world. Several exist in Syria, for instance; three of these
are engraved in De Vogüé's work. One (the tomb of Emilius Reginus,
A.D. 195) consists of two Doric columns, with an impost;
another (woodcut No. 25) is the tomb of a certain Isidorus, and is
dated A.D. 222, and is more like our Salisbury example; both
these last-named are situated near Khatoura.[116] The bearing of such
an example as this on the question of the age of these monuments admits
of a double interpretation. According to the usual and specious mode of
reasoning, the ruder form must be the earliest, and the architectural
one copied from it. But this theory I believe to be entirely at
variance with the facts, as observed. The rudeness or elaboration of a
monument will probably be found in all instances to be an index of the
greater or less civilization of the people who erected it, but seldom
or ever a trustworthy index of time. What interests us more at present
is the knowledge that these Syrian examples are certainly sepulchral,
and their form is thus another argument in favour of the sepulchral
character of Stonehenge, if any were needed. More satisfactory than
this, however, is the testimony of Olaus Magnus, archbishop of Upsala,
quoted above.[117] He describes and figures "the most honourable
monuments of the great of his country as erected with immense stones,
and formed like great gates or trilithons" (in modum altissimæ et
latissimæ januæ sursum transversumque viribus gigantum erecta). There
is no reason for supposing that this author ever saw or even heard of
Stonehenge, yet it would be difficult to describe either the purpose or
the mode of construction of that monument more correctly than he does;
and in so far as such testimony is considered valuable, it is decisive
as to both the age and use of the monument.

Passing on from this branch of the enquiry to such local indications
as the spot affords, we find nothing very relevant or very important
either for or against our hypothesis. It has been argued, for instance,
that the number of tumuli that stud the downs within a few miles of
Stonehenge, is a proof that this temple stood there before the barrows
were erected, and that they gathered round its sacred precincts. The
first objection to this view is, that it is applying a Christian
precedent to a Pagan people. Except the Jews, who seem to have buried
their kings close to their temples,[118] I do not know of any people in
ancient or modern times except Christians who did so, and we certainly
have no hint that the ancient Britons were an exception to this
universal rule.

[Illustration: 26. Country around Stonehenge. From Ordnance Survey
maps. Scale 1 inch to 1 mile.]

Assuming, however, for the sake of argument, that this were otherwise,
we should then certainly find the barrows arranged with some reference
to Stonehenge. Either they would have gathered closely around its
precincts, or ranged in rows alongside the roads or avenues leading
to it. Nothing of the sort, however, occurs, as will be seen from the
woodcut in the following page. Within 700 yards of the monument there
is only one very insignificant group, eight in number (15 to 23 of Sir
R. Colt Hoare's plan). Beyond that they become frequent, crowning the
tops of the hills, or clustering in the hollows, but nowhere with the
least apparent reference to Stonehenge. If any one will take the
Ordnance Survey maps, or Sir R. Colt Hoare's plans, he will find the
barrows pretty evenly sown all over the surface of the plain, from
two or three miles south of Stonehenge as far as Chidbury camp, eight
miles north of it. Indeed, if Sir R. Colt Hoare's plans are to be
trusted, they were thicker at the northern end of the plain than at
the southern;[119] but as the Ordnance maps do not bear this out, it
must not be relied upon. Nowhere over this large area (say 10 miles by
5 miles) is there any trace of system as to the mode of placing these
barrows. Indeed, from Dorchester up to Swindon, over a distance of more
than seventy miles, they are scattered either singly or in groups so
completely without order, that the only feasible explanation seems to
be, that each man was buried where he lived; it may possibly have been
in his own garden, but more probably in his own house. The hut circles
of British villages are in grouping and in form so like the barrows,
that it is difficult not to suspect some connexion between them. It may
have been that when the head of a family died, he was buried on his own
hearth, and an earthen mound replaced the hut in which he lived. Be
this as it may, there is one argument that those overlook who contend
that the barrows came to Stonehenge. It is admitted that Stonehenge
belongs to the so-called Bronze age,[120] but one half of the barrows
contain only flint and stone, and consequently were there before
Stonehenge was built. Nor is it by any means the case that the nearest
it were those which contained bronze or iron, it is generally quite the
contrary; with all his knowledge, even Sir R. Colt Hoare never could
venture to predict from the locality whether the interment would be
found to belong to one class or to another, nor can we now.

One of the most direct proofs that this argument is untenable is found
in the fact, that the builders of Stonehenge had so little respect for
the graves of their predecessors, that they actually destroyed two
barrows in making the vallum round the monument. Sir R. C. Hoare found
an interment in one, and from this he adds, "we may fairly infer that
this sepulchral barrow existed on the plain, I will not venture to say
before the construction of Stonehenge, but probably before the ditch
was thrown up."[121]

It seems needless, however, to pursue the argument further. Any one who
studies carefully the Ordnance Survey sheet must, I think, perceive
that there is no connexion between the earthen and the stone monuments.
Or if this fail to convince him, if he will ride from Stonehenge over
Westdown to Chidbury camp,[122] he can hardly fail to come to the
conclusion that Stonehenge came to the barrows, not the barrows to

One other indication drawn from the barrows has been thought to throw
some light on the subject. In one of those (No. 16) near Stonehenge,
about 300 yards off, were found chippings of the same blue stones
which form the inner circle of the monuments; but there was nothing
else in this barrow to indicate its age except a spear-head of brass
in fine preservation, and a pin of the same metal, which seemed to
indicate that it belonged to the bronze age. In another (No. 22)
a pair of ivory tweezers were found. From this discovery it was
inferred, and not without some show of reason, that the barrows were
more modern than Stonehenge; and if we are to believe that all barrows
are pre-Christian, as some would try to persuade us, there is an end
of the argument. But is this so? We have just seen that the Bartlow
hills were certainly Roman. We know that the Saxons buried in hows
in the country, down at least to Hubba the Dane,[123] who was slain
in 878, and in Denmark, as we shall presently see, to a much later
period; and we do not know when the Ancient Britons ceased to use
this mode of interment. Whoever they were that built Stonehenge,
they were not Christians; or, at all events, it is certainly not a
Christian building, and we have no reason to assume that those men
who were employed on its erection, and who had for thousands of years
been burying in barrows, changed their mode of sepulture before their
conversion to Christianity. It is infinitely more probable that they
continued the practice very long afterwards; and till we can fix
some time when we feel sure that sepulture in barrows had ceased,
no argument can be drawn from this evidence. That the chief mason
of Stonehenge should be buried in his own house, or own workshop,
appears to us the most natural thing in the world; and that a village
of barrows, if I may use the expression, may be contemporary with the
monument I regard also as probable; but unless from some external
evidence we can fix their age, their existence does not seem to have
any direct bearing on the points we are now discussing.

The diggings inside the area of Stonehenge throw more light on the
subject of our enquiry than anything found outside, but even they
are not so distinct or satisfactory as might be desired. The first
exploration was undertaken by the Duke of Buckingham, and an account of
it is preserved by Aubrey. He says, "In 1620 the duke, when King James
was at Wilton, did cause the middle of Stonehenge to be digged, and
this underdigging was the cause of the falling down and recumbencie of
the great stone there," meaning evidently the great central trilithon.
In the process of digging they "found a great many bones of stagges
and oxen, charcoal, batter dashes (whatever that may mean), heads of
arrows, and some pieces of armour eaten out with rust. Bones rotten,
but whether of stagges or of men they could not tell."[124] He further
adds "that Philip Earl of Pembroke did say that an altar stone was
found in the middle of the area here, and that it was carried away to
St. James'." What this means it is not easy to discern, for Inigo Jones
distinctly describes as the altar the stone now known by that name,
which measures, as he says, 16 feet by 4. It seems impossible that any
other could have existed without his knowing it, and if it existed it
would have favoured his views too distinctly for him not to mention the

As the digging above referred to must have taken place between
what is now called the altar stone and the great trilithon, it is
of considerable interest to us. But strange to say it leaves us in
ignorance whether the bones found there were human or not; one thing,
however, seems tolerably certain, that the arrow-heads and armour were
of iron, from the state of rust they are described as being in, and
this so far is indicative of a post-Roman date.

Another curious fact is mentioned by Camden. In his plate (page 122),
half plan, half elevation--at a spot marked C outside the vallum, men
are represented as making an excavation, and the reference is "Place
where men's bones are dug up." This is of no great value in so far as
Stonehenge itself is concerned, but it is curious from its analogy with
the place where the bones were found on Hakpen Hill, and may serve as
an indication to the spot where the bones may yet be found in Avebury.
As we shall see further on, there are strong reasons for believing
that the principal interment at least was not inside the circle, but
situated externally on one side.

In more modern times, Sir R. Colt Hoare adds--"We have found, in
digging (within the circle), several fragments of Roman as well as
coarse British pottery, parts of the head and horns of deer and other
animals, and a large barbed arrow-head of iron," thus confirming what
Aubrey tells us of the Duke of Buckingham's excavation to the fullest
extent. Mr. Cunnington also dug near the altar to a depth of nearly 6
feet, and found the chalk had been moved to that depth. At about the
depth of 3 feet he found some Roman pottery. Soon after the fall of the
great trilithon, in 1797, he dug out some of the earth that had fallen
into the excavation, and "found fragments of fine black Roman pottery,
and since then another piece on the same spot."[125]

No excavation in the area has been undertaken since Sir R. Colt Hoare's
day, but as both he and Mr. Cunnington were experienced diggers, and
perfectly faithful recorders of what they found, it seems impossible
to doubt, from the finding of iron armour and Roman pottery in such
places, and at such depths that the building must have been erected
after the Romans settled in this island. As no one now will probably
be found to adopt Inigo Jones' theory that it was built by the Romans
themselves, we must look to some date after their departure to which we
may assign its erection.

       *       *       *       *       *

For the written history of Stonehenge we are unfortunately forced
to rely principally on Jeffrey of Monmouth, who, though a recorder
of historical events, was also a fabulist of the most exuberant
imagination. It is consequently easy to throw discredit on his
testimony, and some consider themselves justified in putting it aside
altogether. If, however, we are to reject every mediæval author who
records miracles, or adorns his tale with fables, we may as well shut
up our books at once, and admit that, between the departure of the
Romans and the arrival of the Normans, the history of England is a mere
confused jumble, in which may be found the names of some persons and
of the battles they fought with one another, but nothing more. It is
an easy process, and may be satisfactory to some minds. The attempt
to separate the wheat from the chaff is a more tedious and laborious
task, surrounded by difficulties, and open to criticism, but it is one
that must be undertaken if truth is to be arrived at. In the present
instance the choice of difficulties seems to be clear. Either we must
reject the history of Jeffrey as entirely fabulous and unworthy of
credit, or admit his principal statement that Stonehenge was erected by
Aurelius Ambrosius as a monument to the memory of the British chiefs
treacherously slain by Hengist.

The first account we have of the event which led to its erection is
in Nennius, who lived much nearer to the time of the occurrence than
Jeffrey, who copied his narrative. It is as follows:--The Saxons having
been defeated in several actions on the coast of Kent by Vortimir,
were shut up in Thanet and forced to wait till they could summon
succour from home. When these arrived, Hengist, before attempting
open force, had recourse to stratagem, and at a feast held at the
palace or monastery at Amesbury, to which it was agreed all should
come unarmed, three hundred British nobles were treacherously slain by
the followers of Hengist, who had concealed their weapons under their
cloaks. War ensued on this, and lasted apparently for four years,
when Ambrosius, who had succeeded to Vortigern, forced the Saxons to
sue for peace.[126] That being established, Jeffrey represents him
as erecting Stonehenge by the aid of Merlin as a monument to those
who were so treacherously slain by Hengist. The massacre took place
apparently in the year 462, and the erection of Stonehenge consequently
may have been commenced about the year 466, and carried on during the
following years, say down to 470 A.D. If he had been content
to tell the story in as few words as are used here, it probably never
would have been doubted; but Merlin, in the first place, has a bad
character, for he is mixed up with the mediæval romances which made
the story of Arthur famous but fabulous, and the mode in which he
is represented by Jeffrey as bringing the stones from Ireland is
enough to induce incredulity in all sober minds.[127] As I understand
the narrative, it is this--there existed on a mountain in Ireland a
monument something like Stonehenge, which Merlin, when consulted,
advised the King to copy. This certainly is the view taken of the
matter by Geraldus Cambrensis in 1187, inasmuch as he tells us, that
in the spot referred to "similar stones, erected in a similar manner,
were to be seen in his day," though in the same sentence he tells us,
that they, or others like them, were removed to Salisbury Plain by
Merlin.[128] As he probably speaks of what he saw with his own eyes,
his words furnish tolerably clear evidence that Merlin had not removed
what still remained at Kildare so many centuries after his death. It
is also evidence, however, that the design of the monument was brought
from Ireland, and even copied from a circle, the remains of which may
probably still, if looked for, be found. So far as we know there was
nothing like Stonehenge existing in England, nor in France, in the
5th century. But, as we shall presently see, there probably may have
been in Ireland. The only trilithons I know of elsewhere are three in
a monument in the Deer Park near Sligo. They are small and simulate
portals, but they are more like Stonehenge than any else now known.
At the age we are now speaking of Ireland had contrived to nurse her
old traditions uninfluenced by Roman or foreign examples, and had
attained to that stage in art which would enable her to elaborate such
a style of architecture. While in England it is most improbable that
anything so purely original could have been elaborated during the Roman
occupation of the island. Still a monument like this must have had a
prototype, and unless we can prove its existence here before Cæsar's
time, it is to Ireland or some foreign country that we must look
for the model that suggested the design. But, after all, are we not
fighting with a shadow? May it not be that the tradition of a monument
being brought from Ireland applies only to the blue stones? I have been
assured by competent geologists, though I have not seen the fact stated
in any form I can quote, that these belong to rocks not found in Great
Britain, but which are common in Ireland. If this is so, there would
be no greater difficulty in bringing them from the Sister Island than
from Wales or Cornwall. Once on board ship the difference of distance
is nothing. If they did come from Ireland nothing is more likely than
that, after a lapse of eight or ten centuries, the facts belonging
really only to a part should be applied to the whole; and in that case
the aid of Merlin or of some equally powerful magician would certainly
have become indispensable. In that age, at least, I do not know any
other agency that could have accomplished the transference, and I am
not at all surprised, under the circumstances, that Jeffrey arrived at
the same conclusion.

The true explanation of the mystery seems to be, that the design of
Stonehenge may have come from Ireland, the native style of art having
been in abeyance in England during the Roman occupation, and that the
blue stones most probably came from the Sister Island, which is quite
enough to account for the Merlin myth; but of all this we shall be
better able to judge when we have discussed the Irish antiquities of
the same age.

To return to our history, however, a little further on Jeffrey asserts
that Aurelius himself was buried "near the convent of Ambrius within
the Giant's Dance (chorea gigantum), which in his lifetime he had
commanded to be made."[129] As far as it goes, this is a distinct
assertion that the place was used for burial, otherwise from the
context we would gather that the Britons slain by Hengist were buried
in the cemetery attached to the monastery, and that Stonehenge was
consequently a cenotaph and not a monument. But again, in recording
the life of Constantine, the nephew and successor of Arthur, after
relating how he defeated the Saxons and took vengeance on the nephews
of Mordred, he goes on to say--"Three years after this he was killed
by Conan, and buried close to Uther Pendragon, within the structure of
stones which was set up with wonderful art, not far from Salisbury,
and called in the English tongue Stonehenge."[130] This last event,
though no date is given, must have occurred some time between 546, or
four years after Arthur's death, and 552, the date of the battle of
Banbury Hill, where Conan his successor commanded. Assuming for the
moment that this may be the case, may it not suffice to explain one of
the mysteries of Stonehenge, the presence of the pairs of blue stones
inside the choir? Why may we not suppose that these were erected in
memory of the kings or others who were buried in front of them? Why
may not Aurelius and Constantine have been buried in front of the two
small pairs at either end of the so-called altar stone? If this were
so, and it appears to me extremely probable that it was, the last
remains of the mist that hangs over the uses of this monument would be

From the time of Jeffrey (1147) all subsequent mediæval historians
adopt the account of these events given by him, with occasional but
generally slight variations, and even modern critics are inclined to
accept his account of Constantine and Conan, as his narrative can
be checked by that of Gildas, who was cotemporary with these kings.
Similar statements are also found in the triads of the Welsh bards,
which some contend are original and independent authorities.[131]
My own impression is that they may be so, but I do not think their
independence has been so clearly established as to enable us to found
any argument upon it. On the other hand, the incidental allusion of
Jeffrey to the erection of Stonehenge as a cenotaph to the slain
nobles, and the subsequent burial there of the two kings, seems so
likely and natural that it is difficult to see why they should be
considered as inventions. The two last-named events, at all events, do
not add to the greatness or wonder of the kings, or of his narrative,
and are not such things as would be inserted in the page of history,
unless they were currently known, or were recorded somewhere in some
writing to which the historian had access.

Before quitting Stonehenge there is one other antiquity connected with
it, regarding which it is necessary to say a few words. Both in Sir R.
Colt Hoare's plan and the Ordnance Survey, there are marked two oblong
enclosures called the greater and lesser "Cursus," and along which
the antiquaries of the last century amused themselves by picturing
the chariot races of the Ancient Britons, though as they ascribed the
introduction of races to the Romans, they admitted that they must have
been formed after the subjection of the island by that people.[132] The
greater cursus is about a mile and three-quarters long, by 110 yards
wide. The smaller is so indistinct that only its commencement can be
identified; but even as concerns the larger, I walked twice across it
without perceiving its existence, though I was looking for it, and no
one I fancy would remark it if his attention were not turned to it.
Its boundary mounds never could have been 3 feet high, and now in many
places are very nearly obliterated.

That these alignments were once race-courses, appears to me one of the
most improbable of the various conjectures which have been hazarded
with regard even to Stonehenge. No Roman race-course, that we know
of, omitted to provide for the horses returning at least once past
the place they started from, and no course was even a mile, much less
a mile and three-quarters long. What sort of horse-races the British
indulged in before the Conquest I don't know, nor will I hazard an
opinion on the subject; but if they wanted the races to be seen, there
are several beautiful and appropriate spots close at hand where they
could have laid out a longer course along one of the bottoms, where
tens of thousands might conveniently have witnessed the sport from
the sloping banks on either hand, whereas here only the front rank
could have seen the race at all, and that imperfectly. It may also be
remarked that the east end of the cursus is closed by a mound which
must have been a singularly awkward position for the judges, though
that is the place assigned to them by Sir Richard; and the west end is
cut off also by an embankment, behind which are several tumuli on the
course, which seems a very unlikely racing arrangement.

But if not race-courses, what were they? If any one will turn back
to woodcut No. 12, p. 55, representing the alignments at Merivale
bridge, and compare them with the cursus as shown in woodcut No. 26,
p. 102, representing the ground about Stonehenge, I think he must
perceive that the two cursus, if complete, would occupy exactly the
same relative position with regard to Stonehenge--on a much larger
scale of course--as those at Dartmoor do to the circle there. The
arrangements are so similar that the purposes can hardly be different.
At first sight this seems to tell against the battle theory. We know
of no battle fought on Salisbury Plain. This, however, is the merest
negative assumption possible. We know that the massacre at Amesbury was
followed by a four years' war, between Ambrosius and the Saxons.[133]
Battles there must have been, and many, and what so likely as that the
crowning victory should have been fought in the immediate proximity of
the capital of one of the contending parties. If these cursus do mark
the battle-field, it will at once account for the somewhat anomalous
position of Stonehenge. What is so likely as that the victor should
have chosen the field of his final victory to erect there a monument
to the memory of those whose treacherous slaughter had been the cause
of the war? Of course this is only an hypothesis, and it is only put
forward as such, but it seems to me infinitely nearer the truth than
that of the gratuitous suggestion of a race-course, and looks like one
of the coincidences sure to occur when the investigation is on the
right path towards the true solution.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first impression that the narrative of the preceding pages will
convey to most readers, will probably be that there must be something
more to be said on the subject, or that something important is left
out. If, it may be argued, the case is so clear as here stated, it
could never have been doubted, and must have been accepted long ago.
All I can say in answer is, that if anything is omitted I am not aware
of it. Everything I know of has been stated as fully and as fairly as
seemed necessary for its being clearly understood. In this instance it
must be remembered that the usual arguments drawn from the division
into stone, bronze, and iron ages hardly come into play. Nothing has
been found inside Stonehenge but iron and Roman pottery. Even admitting
the barrows in the immediate proximity of Stonehenge to be coeval,
before their testimony can be of any avail, it must be ascertained when
men ceased to be buried in barrows, and when a man might not wish a
bronze spear-head to be entombed with him as a relic, even if he did
not fight with it in his lifetime. Even then, however, the evidence
would be too indistinct to outweigh that of the finds inside the circle.

If, after what has been said above, any one still maintains that
Stonehenge is a temple, and not sepulchral, we have no common ground
from which to reason, and need not attempt it. Or if any one as
familiar with the locality as I am personally, or who has studied the
Ordnance maps with the same care, likes to argue that the barrows came
to Stonehenge, and not Stonehenge to the barrows, we see things with
such different eyes that we equally want a common basis for argument.

In a case like the present, however, the great difficulty to be
overcome is not so much cool argument and close reasoning, as a certain
undefined feeling that a monument must be old because we know so little
about it. "Omne ignotum pro antiquo" is a matter of faith with many
who will listen to no argument to the contrary, and in the case of
Stonehenge the false notion has been so fostered by nearly all those
who have written about it since the time of James I., that it will be
very difficult now to overthrow it. Those who adhere to it, however,
hardly realize how dark the ages were between the departure of the
Romans and the time of Alfred the Great, and how much may have been
done in that time without any record of it coming down to our day. Even
if we give them all the megalithic monuments we possess, it is very
little indeed for so large a population in so long a time.

Even at a much later period of English history than we are now occupied
with, it is wonderful how little we should know of our monuments if we
depended on the "litera scripta" for our information. Any one who is
familiar with the guide-books of the last, or beginning of the present
century, will see what dire confusion of dates existed with regard to
the erection of our greatest cathedrals and mediæval monuments. Saxon
and Norman were confounded everywhere, and the distinction of any of
the styles between Early English and Perpendicular was not appreciated,
and frequently the dates were reversed. In fact, it was not till
Rickman took the matter in hand that order emerged out of chaos, and he
succeeded because his constructive knowledge enabled him to perceive
progressive developments which formed true sequences, and he was thus
able to supply the want of written information. Every tyro now can fix
a date to every moulding in any of our mediæval buildings, but if we
had only written history to depend upon, in nine cases out of ten he
could not prove that the building was not erected by the Romans or the
Phœnicians, or anybody else. If this is the case in an age when
writing was so common as between the Conquest and the Reformation,
should we be surprised if we find matters so much darker between the
departure of the Romans and Alfred, when written history hardly helps
us at all? But Rickman's method will, when applied to Stonehenge and
similar monuments, if I am not very much mistaken, render their dates
nearly as clear as those of our mediæval monuments have been rendered
by the same method.

None but those who have had occasion specially to study the subject
can be aware how devoid of all literary records the period is of
which we are now treating. So meagre and so scarce are they, that
many well-informed persons doubt whether such a person as King Arthur
ever lived; and scarcely one of his great actions is established by
anything like satisfactory contemporary testimony. Yet, in all ages,
and in all countries where histories either written or oral exist, they
are filled with the exploits of favourite national heroes--as Arthur
was--which, even where they are fullest and most diffuse, it is the
rarest possible thing to find in them a record of the building of any
temple or tomb. From the building of the Parthenon to the completion
of Henry VIII.'s Chapel, the notices of buildings in general histories
are as few and meagre as may be, and are comprised in a few paragraphs
scattered through many hundred volumes. No one, I am convinced, who
has thought twice on the subject, would expect to find any notice of
buildings in the few pages which are all we possess of history between
the departure of the Romans and the time of the Venerable Bede; yet the
absence of record is the argument which, if I am not mistaken, has had
more influence on the popular mind than almost any other. Too generally
it is assumed that, as we know nothing about them, they must be old. To
me, on the contrary, nothing appears so extremely improbable as that
the builders, while leaving no record of their exploits, should have
left any written account of the erection of the Rude Stone Monuments.

One other point seems worth alluding to before concluding this chapter,
which is that nothing has been advanced, so far as I know, that would
lead us to suppose that the people of this island were, before the time
of the Romans, either more numerous or more powerful, and consequently
more capable of erecting such monuments as Stonehenge and Avebury,
than they were after that people had resided for four centuries among
them. All our existing knowledge seems to tend to a diametrically
opposite conclusion, and now that the day for vague declamation and _à
priori_ reasoning is past, if any proof to the contrary can be brought
forward, it would be well that it were now adduced, for otherwise
judgment may go by default. If we mistake not, the case must be strong
and clear that is to outweigh the evidence just brought forward in
reference to the two monuments the use and age of which we have just
been discussing.

    [Footnote 77: These particulars are taken from a careful survey
    made by Sir R. Colt Hoare, in 1812, and published in his 'Ancient
    Wilts,' vol. ii. pl. xiii. p. 70 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 78: 'Stonehenge and Avebury,' p. 34.]

    [Footnote 79: Haca, or Haco, according to Kemble, was some mythical
    person with a very Danish name which is found in Hampshire and
    Berkshire, as well as here. Pen seems to mean merely enclosure, as
    it does now in English. See Kemble, in 'Journal Arch. Inst.' xiv.
    p. 134.]

    [Footnote 80: 'Bell. Gall.' vi. 17.]

    [Footnote 81: 'Sculptured Stones of Scotland,' ii. p. xli.]

    [Footnote 82: Thurnam, 'Crania Britannica;' London, 1856 to 1865.]

    [Footnote 83: 'Codex diplomaticus Ævi Saxonici,' v. p. 238, No.

    [Footnote 84: Stukeley, 'Stonehenge and Abury,' p. 27.]

    [Footnote 85: The particulars are taken from a pamphlet entitled
    'Excavations at Avebury, under the direction of the Secretary of
    the Wiltshire Archæol. and Nat. Hist. Society,' printed at Devizes,
    but, so far as I know, not yet published.]

    [Footnote 86: 'Sculptured Stones of Scotland,' vol. i. introd. p.

    [Footnote 87: A plan of it was published about Stukeley's time by
    a Mr. Twining, in a pamphlet, which was written to prove that this
    group of monuments was erected by Agricola, to represent a map of
    England! A plan accompanies it, which shows all the avenues as
    straight; but what weight can possibly be attached to any evidence
    coming from a man with such a theory as this?]

    [Footnote 88: 'Ancient Wiltshire,' ii. p. 63.]

    [Footnote 89: Camden, 'Britannia,' 127.]

    [Footnote 90: 'Archæologia,' xxviii. p. 399 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 91: 'Journal Wiltshire Archæol. and Nat. Hist. Society,'
    vii. p. 1861.]

    [Footnote 92: Curiously enough these dimensions are almost
    identical with those of the mound erected by the Belgic-Dutch, to
    commemorate the part they did not take in the battle of Waterloo.
    Its dimensions are 130 feet high, 544 feet in diameter, and 1632
    feet in circumference. The angle of the slope of the sides is
    lower, being 27½ degrees, owing to the smaller diameter of the
    flat top, which is only 40 feet.]

    [Footnote 93: Douglas, 'Nenia Brit.' p. 161. See also Salisbury
    volume of the Archæological Institute, p. 74.]

    [Footnote 94: 'Journal Royal Asiatic Soc.' xiii. p. 164; and Major
    Skinner's plan of Anurajapura.]

    [Footnote 95: Wilson, 'Ariana Antiqua,' p. 41; and Masson's
    'Memoir,' _passim_.]

    [Footnote 96: Sir R. C. Hoare, 'Ancient Wiltshire,' i. pl. ii. fig.

    [Footnote 97: Ibid. i. p. 191.]

    [Footnote 98: 'Archæologia,' xxx. p. 300 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 99: 'Arch. Journ.,' xxiv. pp. 92 and 319.]

    [Footnote 100: Ibid. p. 100.]

    [Footnote 101: 'Ancient Wiltshire,' ii. 5. Unfortunately there
    is no scale attached to the plan of the Marden Circle, and no
    dimensions quoted in the text.]

    [Footnote 102: 'Ancient Wiltshire,' p. 7.]

    [Footnote 103: I adopt Dr. Guest's dates for this part of the
    subject, not only because I think them most probable, but because I
    think, from his knowledge and the special attention he has bestowed
    on the subject, he is most likely to be right. See _Salisbury
    Volume Arch. Journal_, p. 62.]

    [Footnote 104: 'Athenæum Journal,' Dec. 13, 1865.]

    [Footnote 105: 'Mon. Brit.' p. 15.]

    [Footnote 106: 'Salisbury Vol.' p. 63.]

    [Footnote 107: 'Mon. Brit.' p. 15.]

    [Footnote 108: Colt Hoare, 'Ancient Wiltshire,' ii. p. 22.]

    [Footnote 109: Saxon Chronicle, in 'Mon. Brit.' p. 304.]

    [Footnote 110: 'Jeffrey of Monmouth,' ix. p. 4.]

    [Footnote 111: The history of the plan given on page 92, and from
    which all the dimensions in the text are quoted, is this. When I
    was staying with my friend, Mr. Hawkshaw, the eminent engineer,
    at Eversley, I was complaining of the incorrectness of all the
    published plans, when he said, "I have a man in my office whose
    plans are the very essence of minute accuracy. I will send him
    down to make one for you." He did so, and his plan--to a scale of
    10 feet to 1 inch, is before me. I afterwards took this plan to
    Stonehenge, and identified the position and character of every
    stone marked upon it.]

    [Footnote 112: I am almost afraid to allude to it even in a note,
    lest some one should accuse me of founding any theory upon it,
    like Piazzi Smyth's British inches in the Pyramids, but it is a
    curious coincidence that nearly all the British circles are set
    out in two dimensions. The smaller class are 100 feet, the larger
    are 100 metres in diameter. They are all more than 100 yards. The
    latter measure is at all events certainly accidental, so far as
    we at present know, but as a nomenclature and "memoria technica,"
    the employment of the terms may be useful, provided it is clearly
    understood that no theory is based upon it.]

    [Footnote 113: 'Historia,' in 'Mon. Brit.' 694.]

    [Footnote 114: 'Tree and Serpent Worship,' by the author, plates
    iii. _et seq._]

    [Footnote 115: Twenty Chinese coolies would carry any one of them
    up in a week.]

    [Footnote 116: 'Serie Centrale' by Comte Melchior de Vogüé. Though
    this work was commenced some ten years ago, and subscriptions
    obtained, it is still incomplete. No text has yet been published,
    and no maps, which makes the identification of the places
    singularly difficult.]

    [Footnote 117: Vide _ante_, footnote, p. 15.]

    [Footnote 118: 'Topography of Jerusalem,' by the Author, p. 58.]

    [Footnote 119: 'Ancient Wiltshire,' i. p. 178, plan vi.]

    [Footnote 120: Sir John Lubbock, 'Prehistoric Times,' p. 116.]

    [Footnote 121: Sir R. Colt Hoare, 'Ancient Wiltshire,' i. p. 145.]

    [Footnote 122: The name is written as Sidbury in the Ordnance maps.]

    [Footnote 123: 'Archæologia,' vii. pp. 132-134.]

    [Footnote 124: 'Ancient Wiltshire,' i. p. 154.]

    [Footnote 125: 'Ancient Wiltshire,' i. p. 150.]

    [Footnote 126: Nennius, in 'Mon. Brit.' p. 69.]

    [Footnote 127: Jeffrey, viii. c. 9.]

    [Footnote 128: "Fuit antiquis temporibus in Hiberniâ lapidum
    congeries admiranda, quæ et Chorea gigantum dicta fuit, quia
    gigantes eam ab ultimis Africæ partibus in Hiberniam attulerunt et
    in Kildarienes planicie non procul a Castro Nasensi, tam ingenii
    quam virium opere mirabiliter erexerunt. Unde et ibidem lapides
    quidam aliis simillimi similique modo erecti usque in hodiernum
    conspiciuntur. Mirum qualiter tanti lapides tot etiam et tam magni
    unquam in unum locum vel congesti fuerint vel erecti: quantoque
    artificiis lapidibus tam magnis et altis alii superpositi sint
    non minores; qui sic in pendulo et tanquam in inani suspendi
    videntur ut potius artificum studio quam suppositorum podio
    inniti videantur. Juxta Britannicam historiam lapides istos rex
    Britonum Aurelius Ambrosius divina Merlini diligentia de Hiberniâ
    in Britanniam advehi procuravit; et ut tanti facinoris egregium
    aliquod memoriale relinqueret eodem ordine et arte qua prius in
    loco constituit ubi occultis Saxonum cultris Britanniæ flos occidit
    et sub pacis obtentu nequitiæ telis male tecta regni juventus
    occubuit."--_Topogr. Hiberniæ_, vol. ii. ch. xviii.

    If we could trust Ware, they still existed in the beginning of
    the last century. He speaks of "Saxa illæ in gentia et rudia
    quæ in planitie non longe a Naasa in agro Kildariensi et alibi
    visuntur."--_Hist. Hib._, xxiv. 103.]

    [Footnote 129: 'Hist. Brit.' viii. ch. xvi.]

    [Footnote 130: 'Hist. Brit.' xi. ch. iv.]

    [Footnote 131: This is the principal argument of Herbert's 'Cyclops

    [Footnote 132: 'Ancient Wiltshire,' i. p. 158. See also woodcut No.
    26, p. 102. The dotted part of the smaller cursus is a restoration
    of my own.]

    [Footnote 133: _Vide ante_, p. 107.]




The detailed examination of these groups at Avebury and Stonehenge
will probably be deemed sufficient to establish at least a _prima
facie_ case in favour of the hypothesis that these monuments were
sepulchral--that at least some of them marked battle-fields, and
lastly, that their antiquity was not altogether prehistoric. If this is
so, it will not be necessary to repeat the same evidence in treating of
those monuments or groups we are about to describe. Incidentally the
latter will, if I am not mistaken, afford many confirmations of those
propositions, but it will not be necessary to insist or enlarge on them
to the same extent as has been done in the previous pages.

[Illustration: 27. Countless Stones, Aylesford. From a drawing by

Among the remaining groups of stones in England, one of the most
important is--or rather was--that in front of Aylesford in Kent. The
best known member of this group is that known as Kit's Cotty--or
Coity-house, which has, however, been so often drawn and described
that it is hardly necessary to do much more than refer to it here.
It is a dolmen, composed of four stones, three upright; the two
side stones being about 8 feet square and 2 in thickness, the third
somewhat smaller; these form three sides of a chamber, the fourth
side being--and apparently always having been--left open. These
three support a cap stone measuring 11 feet by 8 feet. If we can
trust Stukeley's drawing,[134] it was an external dolmen standing on
the end of a low long barrow. At the other end of the mound lay an
obelisk, since removed, but in Stukeley's time it was said to mark
"the general's grave." The mound has since been levelled by the
plough, but the whole forms an arrangement so common both in England
and in Scandinavia, that I am inclined to place faith in the drawing.
So little, however, hinges on it here that it is not worth while
insisting on it, but a trench across the site of the barrow might lead
to interesting results. Nearly due south of Kit's Cotty-house, at the
distance of about 500 yards, is another monument of the same class,
popularly known as the Countless Stones, but so ruined--apparently
by searchers after treasure--that its plan cannot now be made out.
In Stukeley's time, however, it was more perfect, and as his pencil
is always more to be trusted than his pen, it may be worth while to
reproduce his drawings,[135] for the arrangement of the stones was
peculiar, but may have analogies elsewhere. Between these two a third
dolmen is said to have existed within the memory of man, but no trace
of it is now to be found. In the rear of these groups, nearer the
village, there exists, or existed, a line of great stones, extending
from a place called Spring Farm, in a north-easterly direction, for
a distance of three-quarters of a mile, to another spot known as
Hale Farm,[136] passing through Tollington, where the greater number
of the stones are now found. In front of the line near the centre
at Tollington lie two obelisks, known to the country people as the
coffin-stones--probably from their shape. They are 12 feet long by 4 to
6 broad, and about 2 or 3 feet thick.[137] They appear to be partially
hewn, or at least shaped, so as to resemble one another.

Besides these stones, which are all on the right bank of the river,
there are several groups at or near Addington, about five miles to the
westward of Aylesford. Two of these in the park at Addington have long
been known to antiquaries, having been described and figured in the
'Archæologia' in 1773.[138] The first is a small circle, about 11 feet
in diameter, the six stones comprising it being 19 feet high, 7 wide,
and 2 in thickness. Near it is the larger one of oval form, measuring
50 paces by 42 paces. The stones are generally smaller than those of
the other circle. The other groups or detached stones are described
by Mr. Wright,[139] who went over the ground with that excellent and
venerable antiquary the Rev. L. B. Larking. They seem to have adopted
the common opinion that an avenue of such stones existed all the way
from Addington to Aylesford, but it seems to me that there is no
sufficient evidence to justify this conclusion. Many of the stones
seem natural boulders, and in no place is any alignment distinctly

In addition to these, Mr. Wright found, and attempted to excavate some
smaller monuments of a sepulchral character, near Kit's Cotty House,
but situated on the brow of the hill immediately above it. These
"consist generally of groups of stones buried partly on the ridge of
the hill, but evidently forming, or having formed, small sepulchral
chambers." "Each group," he adds, "is generally surrounded by a circle
of stones."[140]

There only now remains the question, why were all these stones placed
here, and by whom? Mr. Wright is far too sober and too well-informed
an antiquary to repeat the usual nonsense about such monuments having
been Druid temples or altars. The conclusion at which he arrives (p.
183) is that Kit's Cotty-house, and the cemetery around it, with
that in the parish of Addington, together formed the grand necropolis
of the Belgian settlers in this part of the island. Against this
it must be observed that the Belgians erected no such monuments in
their own country, Gallia Belgica being exactly that part of France
in which no stone monuments are found, and it is very unlikely that
the Belgians should have done here what they did not do at home. But
another objection is, that the theory is wholly gratuitous, no shadow
of tradition, no analogy, and no reason being adduced to show why it
should be so, and, to say the least of it, it is most unlikely. If a
straight line were drawn from the mouth of the Humber to the head of
Southampton Water, this is the only group of this class of monuments
to the eastward of the line, and what possible reason can we have for
supposing that the princes or people of that vast district chose this
place, and this only, for their necropolis? Had it been some vast plain
like Salisbury, or some gloomy valley, or the site of some ancient
sacred city, the choice might have been intelligible, but a more
unromantic, unlikely spot than the valley of the Medway could hardly
have been chosen. It is neither central nor accessible, and neither
history nor tradition lends any countenance to the suggestion.

Suppose, on the other hand, we assume that these erections are a record
of the battle which, according to the Saxon chronicle,[141] was fought
on this spot between Vortigern and Hengist and Horsa, in the year 455,
and in which Catigren was slain on the side of the British, and the
redoubted Horsa fell on that of the Saxons. This at least has the merit
of accounting for all we see--the line of stones at Tollington is just
such a position as the British army would take up, to cover the ford at
Aylesford against an enemy advancing from Thanet. The two obelisks in
front would represent the position of the two chiefs; Kit's Cotty-house
would become the tomb of Catigren, which tradition always represented
it to be; the circles at Addington would become the graves of chiefs
who were wounded in the battle, and taken to the rear and buried with
due honours, at or near the spot where they died; and lastly the
tumulus at Horstead would also in accordance with ancient tradition be
the grave of Horsa.

So much depends on this last determination, that last year through the
kindness of Colonel Fisher, R.E., the assistance of a party of sappers
was procured from Chatham, and the mound was thoroughly explored. It
was found that a cremation (it is presumed of a human body) had taken
place on the natural surface of the ground, and that a tumulus had
been raised over it. The chalk was dug down to some depth and found
quite undisturbed, but no ornament or implement was found anywhere. At
first this seemed disappointing; but on Mr. Godfrey Faussett, who was
present at the digging, referring to certain passages in 'Beowulf,' it
appears to be exactly what should have been expected. The poem, in the
first place, is about the best authority we could have, inasmuch as,
according to Kemble, "it gave accounts of exploits not far removed, in
point of time, from the crossing of Hengist and Horsa into Britain, and
the poem was probably brought hither by some of those Anglo-Saxons,
who, in 495, accompanied Cerdic and Cyneric."[142] After Hengist's
conflict with Fin, the body was burnt (l. 2232-2251); but after
Beowulf's death not only cremation is mentioned, but a splendid mound
is raised over the spot where the funeral pile stood, "ad on Eorthen"
(l. 6266), on the surface of the ground. At Beowulf's funeral, vases,
and arms, and jewels of all kinds, were thrown upon the pile and burnt
with him; and no wonder, considering the wealth just rescued from the
guardianship of the "Wurm" by the victorious hero. Poor Horsa died
defeated, and all his friends could expect would be to be allowed to
bury him under a flag of truce, with such rites as would ensure his
proper reception in the next world. Had they attempted to bury any
treasures with him, they probably would have been appropriated by the
victorious Brits.

Bede's expression that Horsa's tomb was situated in "orientalibus
partibus Cantiæ,"[143] has more than once been quoted to disprove this
identification. But what did Bede mean by "eastern parts"? May it
not have been that in his day the Medway divided Kent into east and
west? Or he may have spoken without sufficient local knowledge. But
that Horsa fell at Aylesford, is as well authenticated as any fact in
that age: he most probably was buried near the battle-field; and the
village where the mound is situated has probably ever since been called
Horstead, as it is at this day.

All this, it appears to me, makes so strong a case, that I cannot help
thinking it might be accepted till, at least, something is advanced
against it. At present I am not aware of any argument to the contrary
that seems to me entitled to any serious consideration. No flint, or
bronze, or iron implement of any sort, so far as I know, have been
found on the spot--this may be only because they have not been looked
for; but as the case at present stands, the Danish system cannot be
pleaded for or against this view.

The real difficulty to be feared in obtaining acceptance of this
explanation of the stone at Aylesford, is its extreme simplicity.
After all that has been written about the unfathomable mystery and the
primæval antiquity of this class of monuments, to be told that these
are merely the memorials of a battle fought on the spot in the year
455, is too terribly prosaic to be tolerated, nor ought it perhaps to
be accepted if it stood alone. If, however, it proves to be only one of
many instances, the ultimate admission of the above views can hardly be


In the neighbourhood of Uffington, in Berkshire, there are three
monuments, two at least of which still merit a local habitation and a
name in our history. One of these is the celebrated white horse, which
gives its name to the vale, and the scouring of which is still used by
the inhabitants of the neighbourhood on the occasion of a triennial
festival and games, which have been so graphically described by Mr.
Thomas Hughes.

[Illustration: 28. The Sarsen Stones at Ashdown. From a drawing by A.
L. Lewis, Esq.]

The second is a cromlech, known as Wayland Smith's Cave, and
immortalized by the use made of it by Sir Walter Scott in the novel
of 'Kenilworth.' The third is as remarkable as either, but still wants
its poet. The annexed woodcut will give a fair idea of its nature and
extent.[144] It does not pretend to be minutely accurate, and this
in the present instance is fortunately of no great consequence. All
the stones are overthrown: some lie flat on the ground, some on their
edges, and it is only the smallest that can be said to be standing. The
consequence is, that we cannot feel sure that we know exactly where
any of them stood, nor whether they were arranged in lines, like those
at Carnac; nor if so, in how many rows, or whether they always had
the confused appearance they now present. They are spread over an area
of about 1600 feet north and south, and of half that distance east
and west. The gap in the centre was made purposely to clear the view
in front of the house when it was built, and many of the stones it is
feared were employed in the erection. They are the same Sarsens as are
used at Avebury and Stonehenge, and the largest are about 10 feet long
from 6 to 9 wide, and from 3 to 4 feet high (in their present recumbent
position); but there are few so large as this, the majority being from
2 to 4 feet in length and breadth, and from 1 to 3 high.[145]

No one has yet attempted to give any explanation of the monument
beyond repeating the usual Druidical formulæ. To me it appears almost
incontestable that it is a memorial of the battle fought here between
the Saxons and the Danes in the year 871. From Asser we learn that
the Pagans, advancing from Reading, occupied the higher ground. It is
sometimes supposed that Uffington Castle was thrown up by them on the
occasion, which is by no means impossible. Advancing eastward, they
then attacked the Christians under Alfred, who occupied the lower
ground. This, and the ill-timed fit of devotion on his brother's
part, nearly lost the Christians the day; but Alfred's skill and
intrepidity prevailed, and the victory was complete.[146] This being
so, nothing appears more probable than that the victorious army, either
by themselves or with the assistance of the peasantry, should have
collected together the Sarsens in the neighbourhood, and have arranged
them as Alfred and his army stood, when he first received the shock
of the Pagans. It seems also probable that he would have engraved the
emblem of the white horse on the side of the hill where the Pagans had
encamped the night before the battle, and where probably the fight
ended on the following day.

The question whether Weyland Smith's Cave belongs to the same group, or
to an earlier date, is not so easily settled. My impression is that it
is older. It is a three-chambered dolmen almost identical in plan with
Petrie's No. 27, Carrowmore, to be described in the next chapter, but
with this difference, that whereas the circle of stones in the Irish
example contained thirty-six or thirty-seven stones, and was 60 feet
in diameter, this one contained probably only twenty-eight, and was
only 50 feet in diameter. This and the fact of the one consisting of
Sarsens--the other of granite blocks--account so completely for all the
difference between them, that I cannot believe that so great a lapse
of time as eight centuries could have taken place between the erection
of the two. I fancy it must have been erected for the entombment of a
local hero in the early centuries of the Christian era; but of this we
will be better able to judge when we are further advanced in our survey
of similar monuments.


At Rollright, between Chipping Norton and Long Compton, in Oxfordshire,
there is a circle, which, from what has been written about it, has
assumed an importance in the antiquarian world, which is certainly
not due either to its dimensions or to any traditions that attach to
it. Every antiquary, from Camden down to Bathurst Deane, has thought
it necessary to say something about this splendid temple of the Druid
priesthood, so that the traveller, when he visits it, is sure to
be dreadfully disappointed. It is an ordinary 100-foot circle, the
entrance to which is apparently from the south opposite to the five
largest stones, which are placed in juxtaposition on the north, the
tallest in the centre being about 5 feet in height. The others average
about 3 or 4 feet, but are uneven in height and irregularly spaced,
but with a tendency to form groups of threes, which is a peculiarity
observable-in some similar circles on Dartmoor.

Across the road, at a distance of about 50 yards, stands a single
obeliscal stone, about 10 feet high, on a mound which appears to be
artificial. If it is so, however, it was raised with the materials
taken out of a pit, which still exists on one side, and not from a
ditch surrounding it, as is usual in such cases. In another direction,
about a quarter of a mile from the circle, stands a dolmen, which is
the finest feature in the group. The cap stone, which has fallen,
measures 8 feet by 9, and is of considerable thickness; and three of
the supporting stones are 7, 8, and 10 feet in height respectively.

This circle appears to have been examined by Ralph Sheldon, but without
results.[147] The mound, so far as is known, is yet untouched, and the
dolmen could not now be explored without causing its complete ruin; I
presume no one will contest its being sepulchral. It would be difficult
now to bring to the test of experiment the question whether the circle
is so or not, as some forty or fifty years ago, it and the plot round
it were planted with larch trees, whose roots have spread over the
surface and could with difficulty be now got rid of. This is to be
regretted, as from its isolated position the group affords an excellent
opportunity of testing the usual theories regarding these monuments.
If it was a temple, it gives us a very low idea of the religious state
of our ancestors, that for a district of from twenty to thirty miles'
radius they should have possessed only one single small enclosure,
surrounded by a low imperfect wall, 3 or 4 feet high. If any other
had ever existed, traces of it must have been found, or why has this
one remained so complete, for not one stone apparently is missing. It
is also strange that, as in other instances, it should be situated on
the highest and bleakest part of the surrounding country. It is, in
fact, not only the unlikeliest form, but the most inconvenient site
for a temple. It also gives us a very low idea of their civilization.
The circle at Rollright is a sort of monument that the boys of any of
our larger schools could set up in a week, supposing the stones to be
found lying about, at no great distance, which there is little doubt
was the case when it was erected. The dolmen might require a little
contrivance to get the cap stone hoisted; but there is nothing that the
villagers in the neighbourhood could not now complete in a few days, if
so inclined, and certainly nothing that a victorious army, of say even
1000 men, could not complete between sunrise and sunset in a summer's
day. Even if the sepulchral character of the group is admitted, it can
hardly be the burying-ground of a chief, or clan, or family. In that
case, instead of one dolmen there must have been several, smaller
it may be, but in succession. The chief must have had ancestors, or
successors, or relations, and they would not be content that one, and
one only, of their family should possess an honoured tomb, and that
they themselves should rest in undistinguished graves. As in other
cases, unless we are prepared to admit that it marks the site of a
battle, I know of nothing that will explain the situation and the form
of the group; nor do I see why we should reject Camden's explanation of
the circumstances under which it was erected: "These would, I verily
think, to have been the monument of some victory, and haply erected
by Rollo the Dane, who afterwards conquered Normandy." "In what time
he with the Danes troubled England with depredations we read that the
Danes joined battle with the English thereby at Hock Norton, a place
for no one thing more famous in old time than for the woeful slaughter
of the English on that foughten field, under the reign of King Edward
the Elder."[148] This last, however, is apparently a mistake, for it
was Eadward (901-923) who was really the contemporary of Rollo. He was
also the contemporary of Gorm the Old, of Denmark, of whose tumulus and
Pagan habits we shall hear hereafter.

This again will appear a very prosaic anti-climax to those who are
nursed on ideas of the hoar antiquity and wondrous magnificence of such
monuments as Ashdown and Rollright. A visit to them is sufficient to
dispel one part of that illusion, and a little common-sense applied
to the other will probably show that the more moderate view meets
perfectly all the real exigencies of the case.


In the neighbourhood of Penrith in Cumberland there is a group, or
perhaps it should be said there are three groups of monuments, of
considerable importance from their form and size, but deficient in
interest from the absence of any tradition to account for their being
where we find them. They extend in a nearly straight line from Little
Salkeld on the north to Shap on the south, a distance of fourteen miles
as the crow flies, Penrith lying a little to the westward of the line,
and nearer to its northern than its southern extremity.

About half a mile from the first named village is the circle known
popularly as Long Meg and her Daughters, sixty-eight in number, if each
stone represents one. It is about 330 feet (100 metres) in diameter,
but does not form a perfect circle. The stones are unhewn boulders,
and very few of them are now erect. Outside the circle stands Long
Meg herself, of a different class of stone from the others, about
12 feet high, and apparently hewn, or at all events shaped, to some
extent.[149] Inside the circle, Camden reports "the existence of two
cairns of stone, under which they say are dead bodies buried; and
indeed it is probable enough," he adds, "that it has been a monument
erected in honour of some victory."[150] No trace of these cairns now
remains, nor am I aware that the centre has ever been dug into with a
view of looking for interments. My impression, however, is that the
principal interment was outside, and that Long Meg marks either the
head or the foot of the chief's grave.

Close to Penrith is another circle called Mayborough, of about the
same dimensions--100 metres--as that at Little Salkeld, but of a very
different construction. The vallum or enclosure is entirely composed
of small water-worn stones taken from the beds of the Eamount or Eden
rivers. The stones are wonderfully uniform in size, and just about
what any man could carry without inconvenience. This enclosure mound
is now so mined that it is extremely difficult to guess what were
its dimensions. It may have been from 15 feet to 20 feet high, and
twice that in breadth at its base. The same cause makes it difficult
to determine the dimensions of the internal area. The floor of the
circle I calculated as 290 feet from the foot of one slope to the foot
of the opposite one, and consequently the whole as from 320 feet to
340 feet[151] from crest to crest; but these dimensions must be taken
as only approximative till a more careful survey is made than it was
in my power to execute. Near, but not quite in the centre, stands a
single splendid monolith; it may be 12 feet in height, but is more than
twice the bulk of Long Meg. In Pennant's time there were four stones
still standing in the centre, of which this was one, and probably
there may originally have been several more forming a small circle
in the centre.[152] In his day also he learned that there were four
stones--two pairs--standing in a gap in the vallum looking like the
commencement of an avenue. The place, however, is too near Penrith, and
stone is there too valuable to allow of such things escaping, so that
nothing now remains which would enable us to restore this monument with

Close by this is a third circle known as Arthur's Round Table.

[Illustration: 29. Sketch Plan of King Arthur's Round Table, with the
side, obliterated by the road, restored.]

It consists, or consisted, of a vallum of earth, as near as can be
made out, 300 feet from crest to crest; but about one-third of the
circle being cut away to form a road, it is not easy to speak with
certainty. Inside the rampart is a broad berm, then a ditch, and in
the centre a plateau about 170 feet in diameter, slightly raised in
the centre. No stone is visible on the surface, though the rampart
when broken into shows that it is principally composed of them. There
is now only one entrance through the rampart and across the ditch, but
as both entrances existed in Pennant's time (1772), and are figured in
his plan of the monument, I have not hesitated to restore the second
accordingly.[153] The distance between Mayborough and King Arthur's
Round Table is about 110 yards, and at about the same distance from
the last-named monument, a third circle existed in Pennant's time. It
seems, however, to have been in his day at least only a circular ditch,
and has now entirely disappeared.

Owing to their more ruined state, the remains at Shap are more
difficult to describe. They were, however, visited by Stukeley in 1725,
but he complains it rained all the time that he was there, and rain on
a bleak exposed moor like Shap is singularly inimical to antiquarian
pursuits.[154] The remains were also described by Camden,[155] but
not apparently from personal observation, and others have described
them since, but the destruction has been so rapid, the village being
almost entirely built out of them, that it is now extremely difficult
to ascertain what they really were. All, however, are agreed that the
principal monument was an alignment, according to some of a double
row of stones, of which others can only trace a single row. So far
as I could make out on the spot, it commenced near a spot called
the Thunder-stone, in the north, where there are seven large stones
in a field; six are arranged as a double row; the seventh seems to
commence a single line, from this all the way to a place at the
southern extremity of the village, called Karl Lofts, single stones
may be traced at intervals, in apparently a perfectly straight line
and still beyond this, at a farmyard called Brackenbyr, Mr. Simpson
fancied he could, in 1859, trace the remains of a circle 400 feet in
diameter, with a large obelisk in the centre.[156] I confess I was not
so fortunate in 1869, and I also differ from him as to the position of
the stone row. He seems to fancy, from the description of Stukeley,
that it was situated to the southward of Karl Lofts, though he could
not detect any traces of it. My impression is that it commenced
with the circle at Brackenbyr, immediately south of Karl Lofts, and
proceeded in a north-westerly direction for nearly a mile and a half to
the Thunder-stone, as before mentioned. Rather more than half a mile
due south of Brackenbyr stands a portion of what was once a very fine
circle. It was partially destroyed by the railway, but seems to have
been a hundred-foot circle, and to have stood considerably in advance
of the line of the avenue, in the same relative position to the stone
row as the circle at Merivale Bridge (woodcut No. 12), or as Stonehenge
to its cursus (woodcut No. 26), whether we assume that it was continued
in this direction, or terminated as above indicated. In front of the
circle is a noble tumulus, called Kemp How, in which the body of a man
of gigantic stature is said to have been found.[157]

According to the popular tradition the stone avenue originally
extended to Muir Divock, a distance of rather more than five miles,
to which it certainly points. Though this is most improbable, it is
not wholly without reason, as on Muir Divock there are five or six
circles of stone and several tumuli. The circles have most of them
been opened recently, and in all instances were found to contain
cists or other evidence of interments.[158] Immediately over the Muir
stands a commanding hill, 1747 feet high, marked on the Ordnance
Survey as Arthur's Pike. Besides these, on the hill behind Shap, to
the eastward, are several stone circles, some single, some double,
but none are of any great size, or composed of stones of very large
dimensions. The whole aspect of the country is that of a district used
as a burying-place to an extent far beyond anything that the usual
inhabitants of the locality could have required, for a bleaker and more
ungenial spot is not inhabited in any part of these islands.

       *       *       *       *       *

So far as I know, no credible tradition attaches to these monuments
so as to connect them with any historical or local incident. We
are, therefore, left almost wholly to their intrinsic forms, or to
analogies, to determine either their history or their purposes.

No one will now probably be found seriously to maintain that the long
stone row at Shap was a temple either of the Druids or of any one else.
At least if these ancient people thought a single or even a double
row of widely-spaced stones, stretching to a mile and a half across
a bleak moor, was a proper form for a place to worship in, they must
have been differently constituted from ourselves. Unless they possessed
the tails, or at least the long-pointed ears with which Darwin endows
our ancestors, they would have adopted some form of temple more nearly
similar to those used in all other countries of the world. Nor was it a
tomb. Not only have no sepulchral remains been found here, but nowhere
else has any trace of such a purpose been found connected with such
alignments. Even, however, if it is contended that it is sepulchral,
it certainly was not the burying-place of the hamlet of Shap, or of
its neighbourhood, for a more miserable spot for habitation does not
exist in England, and it cannot be that Shap, like Avebury, should
require the most magnificent cemeteries in the island, while nothing of
the sort exists near the great centres of population. Had the country
been as thickly inhabited as China, we might fancy the people seeking
waste uncultivable spots in which to bury their dead, but even at the
present day Woking is the only cemetery that has been selected on this
principle in England, and at any previous time to which we can look
back, the idea appears too absurd to be entertained for a moment.

If, therefore, the alignment at Shap was sepulchral, it must have
been the burying-place of those that fell in some battle on the spot;
this in fact brings us to the only suggestion I am aware of that seems
at all tenable: that it marks a battle-field like those on Dartmoor
(_ante_, p. 54), and others we shall meet with hereafter.

Excavations have proved that all the smaller circles which abound in
the neighbourhood are graves, and if those from 60 feet to 100 feet
in diameter are so, all analogy must lead us to the inference that
the 100-metre circles are so also. Direct proof has not, however, yet
been obtained of this, but that may arise first from the difficulty of
excavating so large an area; or it may be that the bodies were buried
outside the circle, as at Hakpen (_ante_, p. 76), or at the foot of the
stones, as at Crichie (_ante_, p. 75) or in those circles which have
no erect stones in a similar position--at the toe of the inner slope
of the rampart--and these are just the places where they have not been
looked for. Meanwhile the cairns in the inside of the circle of Long
Meg's Daughters seem to favour this view of their sepulchral purpose.
But if sepulchres, certainly they were not family or princely tombs. If
that was their destination they would not be found only in two or three
groups in the wildest and most remote parts of the country, but in far
greater numbers, and nearer those places where men most do congregate.
We are in fact driven to Camden's suggestion, that they may have been
made to celebrate some victory; but, if so, what victory? It looks like
riding a hobby very hard to make the same suggestion as was made with
regard to Avebury, but I confess I know no other that can be brought
forward with so much plausibility as that of considering them to be
memorials of Arthur's campaigns against the Saxon invaders.

The first objection that will naturally be raised to this hypothesis
is, that King Arthur was a myth, and never fought any battles at all.
It was not necessary to examine this when speaking of Avebury. All that
was then required was to know if Waden Hill was Badon Hill. If it was
the site of that famous battle, there was no further enquiry necessary.
Arthur, and he only, commanded there; and if we admit the fact of the
battle being fought, we admit at the same time the existence of him who
commanded there. But with regard to the other eleven battles mentioned
by Nennius[159] the case is not so clear, and according to the present
fashionable school of historical criticism it is thought reasonable to
reject the whole as a myth, because the evidence is not such as would
stand examination in a court of law, and also because the story as it
now stands is so mixed up with incredible fables as to throw discredit
on the whole. It is very much easier to heap ridicule on the silly
miracles which Merlin is said by mediæval minstrels to have performed,
and to laugh at the marvellous exploits of Arthur and the Knights of
his Round Table, than to attempt to glean the few facts which their
wild poetry has left unobscured. But if any one will attempt the
same process with one of the many 'Lhystoires du noble et vaillant
roy Alexandre le grand,' he will find exactly the same difficulties.
Aristotle and his master have been rendered quite as fabulous persons
as Merlin and Arthur, and the miracles of the one and the feats of the
other are equally marvellous. In Alexander's case we fortunately have
Arrian and Curtius, and others, who give us the truth with regard to
him; but Arthur had no contemporary history, and instead of living in
a highly civilized state that continued for ages after him, he was the
last brilliant light of his age and race, and after him all was gloom
for centuries. It was not till after a long eclipse that his name was
seized upon in a poetical and an uncritical age as a peg for bards
whereupon to hang their wild imaginings.

This is not the place to examine so large a question. It will be
sufficient to state what I believe to be the main facts. Those who
do not admit them need not read further. Arthur, it seems to me, was
born the prince of one of the smaller states in the West of England,
probably Cornwall, and after the death of Ambrosius, in or about the
year 508, took up the struggle the latter had carried on with varying
success against the hordes of Saxons and others who were gradually
pushing the Bryts out of England. My impression is, that even before
the Romans left, Jutes, Angles, and Danes had not only traded with,
but had settled, both on the Saxonicum littus of Kent, and on the
coast of Yorkshire, Northumberland, and the Lothians; and that during
the century that elapsed between the departure of the Romans and the
time of Arthur, they were gradually pushing the British population
behind the range of hills which extends from Carlisle to Derby and
forms the back-bone of England. It was in the plains behind this range
and further south that all Arthur's battles seem to have been fought.
With Cumberland, Wales, and Cornwall behind him, he was not only sure
of support from the native population in his rear, but had a secure
retreat in case of adverse fortune overtaking him. In all this range
of country I do not know any spot so favourable strategically for
a defender of his country to take up as the high land about Shap,
or the open country extending from thence to Salkeld. The ridges at
Shap protected his right against an enemy advancing by Lancaster, the
Caledonian Forest and a very rugged country covered his left, and in
front there was only a wild inhospitable tract by which the invader
from the opposite coast could advance against him, while by a single
day's march to his rear he was among the inaccessible mountains and
lakes of Cumberland.

I am afraid to lay much stress on the fact of one of the circles at
Penrith and the hill opposite Shap bearing Arthur's name, because in
the last few years we have seen two hard-headed sober-minded Scotchmen
proving, to their own satisfaction, that Arthur was born north of the
Tweed--that all his battles were fought and all his exploits performed
in the northern portion of the island. Even Ganora--the faithless
Guinevere--if not a Scotchwoman, was at all events buried in Miegle
churchyard under a stone, which some pious descendant sculptured some
centuries later.[160] Even here, however, I fancy I can perceive
a difference between the two cases. In the middle ages the Scotch
had historians like Boece and Fordun, who recorded such fables for
the edification of their countrymen, and with proper patriotism
were willing that their country should have as large a share of the
world's greatness or great men as they could well appropriate. They
were followed by an educated class throughout the country, who were
actuated by the same motives, and did exactly what Stukeley and his
followers did with English monuments. They found Druids who had no
temples, and remains which they supposed to be temples with no priests;
so, putting the two together, they made what they fancied was a perfect
whole out of two incongruous halves. So the Scotch, having a rich
repertory of fables on the one hand, and on the other having hills
without names and sculptured stones without owners, joined the two
together, and went on repeating in the same manner their inventions
till, from dire reiteration, they took the likeness of fact.

The case was, if I mistake not, very different in Cumberland. The boors
of that land had no literature--no learning, and none of that ardent
patriotism which enabled the Scotch poets and pedants to manufacture
a quasi history for themselves out of other people's doings. It is
difficult to fancy the inhabitants of Cumberland troubling themselves
with Arthur and his affairs, and wishing to apply his name to
their hills or antiquities, unless some ancient tradition had made
it probable, and, "valeat quantum," these names may therefore be
considered as suggesting a real connexion between the place and the man.

Owing to the extreme brevity of the record in Nennius,[161] there are
few things about which greater discrepancy of opinion exists even among
the believers in Arthur than the localities of his battles. Taking
them in the order in which they are mentioned, the first is said to
have been fought on the river Glem of Glein, which the editors of the
'Monumenta Historica Britannica' suggest may be a river of that name
in Northumberland. The river indicated is so small a brook that it is
difficult to fancy its name should be attached to so important an event.

If we must go so far north, I would rather feel inclined to place it
at Wood Castle, near Lochmaben, in Dumfriesshire, where there is a
circular enclosure identical in plan and dimensions with King Arthur's
Round Table at Penrith.[162] Strategically, it is a much more likely
spot than the exposed east coast of Northumberland; but, except
the plan of Wood Castle, I know of no authority for placing this
battle-field in Annandale.

There is no indication where the second, third, or fourth battles were
fought; but for the fifth we have this important designation that it
was fought "super aliud flumen quod vocatur Duglas vel Dubglas quod est
in regione Linuis," or in another MS. Linnuis. A marginal note suggests
Lindesay, in Lincolnshire, but for no other reason apparently than from
the first three letters being the same in both. There is a River Duglas
flowing past Wigan, in Lancashire, which Whittaker, in his 'History
of Manchester,' boldly adopts as the place indicated, and others have
been inclined to accept his determination. After going carefully over
the ground, I confess no spot appears to me more unlikely for a great
battle than the banks of this river, nor does any local evidence of
their having been so now remain. One cannot but feel that if Arthur
ever allowed himself to be pushed into such a corner, with nothing but
the sea behind him to retreat upon, he certainly was not the general
that made so successful a stand against the Saxons. I am much more
inclined to believe that Linnuis is only a barbarous latinization of
Linn, which in Gaelic and Irish means sea or lake. In Welsh it is Lyn,
and in Anglo-Saxon Lin, and if this is so, "In regione Linnuis" may
mean "In the Lake Country."

The name of the river does not appear to me at all an insuperable
difficulty. All the rivers about Penrith, the Lowther, the Eamount,
and the Eden, have names that were certainly given to them by the
Saxons, but they must have had Celtic names before they came; and Dubh
as an adjective is dark or black, and Glas, green or grey, is used
as a substantive to denote the sea, in Irish. Such an epithet would
apply admirably to the Lowther; and if it could be identified with the
river mentioned by Nennius, our difficulties would be at an end. These
speculations, however, must of course be taken for what they are worth.
There is, so far as known, no authority for the name Duglas or Dubhglas
being applied to the Lowther or Eden.

The sixth battle was on a river called Bassas. It has been suggested
that this means the Bass Rock in the Frith of Forth; but it need hardly
be objected that a rock is not a river, and there is an extreme
improbability that Arthur ever saw the Lothians. In Derbyshire there is
a Bas Lowe[163] in a neighbourhood where, as we shall presently see,
there is reason to believe Arthur fought one or more of his battles,
but I am not aware of any river so called in that neighbourhood.

The seventh war was in Silva Calidonis, "id est Cat Coit Celidon."
The Cat in the last name is evidently Cat or Cath, "a battle," which
we frequently meet with, and shall again in describing these matters.
Coit, only so far as the dictionaries tell us, means coracle, and would
seem to indicate a struggle in boats. The Caledonian Forest, is what
will really determine the locality. Generally it is understood to be
the forest that extended from Penrith to Carlisle; and, if so, any one
of our Penrith circles might be assumed to mark the site of the seventh
battle. Most probably in that case it would be the Salkeld circle, or
it might be one known as the Grey Yawds, near Cumrew, about eight or
nine miles further north.[164]

The eighth battle was in Castello Guinnion, or Guin, which, from the
sound of the name, can hardly escape being in Wales or the Welsh
border, unless indeed we assume that these Welsh appellations were
common to the whole country before the Saxons re-named many of the
places. In that case we have nothing to guide us as to where the battle
was fought.

The ninth battle was "in Urbe Legionis." This may be either Chester
or Caerleon in South Wales. It most probably was the latter, as in
another MS. it is added "quæ Britannice Karlium dicitur," or Cair lin
in another.

The tenth war was on the shores of a river which was called Ribroit.
Though this is spelt in various MSS. Tribruit, Trathreuroit, and
Trattreuroit, it seems impossible to identify it. But it must have been
a large river, or the expression "in littore" would hardly have been

The eleventh battle "fuit in Monte quod dicitur Agned Cathregonnon;"
and in different MSS. this is spelt Cathregomion, Cabregonnon,
Catbregonnion, and in one it is added, "in Somersetshire quem nos
Cathbregion appellamus." No such name seems now to be known in that
country; but as we shall presently, I hope, see reason for believing,
the spot is probably that now known as Stanton Drew.

The twelfth battle was that of Mount Badon, the position of which,
as we have already pointed out, may almost certainly be fixed in the
immediate neighbourhood of Avebury.

All this is indistinct enough, it must be confessed, and much of it
depends on nominal similarities, which are never very satisfactory;
still the general impression it leaves seems worthy of acceptance. It
would lead us to think that Arthur commenced his struggles with the
invaders in the north of England, probably in the time of Ambrosius,
and fought his way southwards, till after twelve campaigns, or twelve
battles, he reached his crowning victory at Badon Hill, which gave
him peace for the rest of his days. At all events, with respect to
the first seven battles, there seems no reason why we should not
appropriate any of them except perhaps the first--to our Cumberland
circles. The proof of whether or not it is reasonable to do so will of
course depend on the case we can make out for the other circles we have
to examine, and on the general interdependence which the whole series
can be shown to have on one another.

At present it may be allowed to stand on an hypothesis, which certainly
has the merit of explaining the facts as now known; but the probability
or disproof of which must depend on the facts and arguments to be
adduced hereafter.


The next group of monuments with which we have to deal is perhaps as
interesting as any of those hitherto described. As before mentioned,
when speaking of the labours of William and Thomas Bateman, the
north-western portion of the county is crowded with barrows, but none
apparently of so ancient a character as those excavated by Canon
Greenwell in Yorkshire, and most of them containing objects of so
miscellaneous a character as to defy systematic classification. As
these, however, hardly belong to the subject of which we are now
treating, it is not necessary to say more about them at present; and
the less so, that the group which falls directly in with our line of
research is well defined as to locality, and probably also as to age.

The principal monument of this group is well-known to antiquaries as
Arbe or Arbor Low,[165] and is situated about nine miles south by
east from Buxton, and by a curious coincidence is placed in the same
relative position to the Roman Road as Avebury. So much is this the
case, that in the Ordnance Survey--barring the scale--the one might
be mistaken for the other if cut out from the neighbouring objects.
Minning Low, however, which is the pendant of Silbury Hill in this
group, is four miles off, though still in the line of the Roman road,
instead of only one mile, as in the Wiltshire example. Besides, there
is a most interesting Saxon Low at Benty Grange, about one mile from
Arbor Low. Gib Hill, Kens Low, Ringham Low, End Low, Lean Low, and
probably altogether ten or twelve important mounds covering a space
five miles in one direction, by one and a half to two miles across.

Arbor Low consists of a circular platform, 167 feet in diameter,
surrounded by a ditch 18 feet broad at bottom, the earth taken from
which has been used to form a rampart about 15 feet to 18 feet high,
and measuring about 820 feet in circumference on the top.[166] The
first thing that strikes us on looking at the plan (woodcut No. 30) is
that, in design and general dimensions, the monument is identical with
that called "Arthur's Round Table," at Penrith. The one difference is
that, in this instance, the section of the ditch, and consequently that
of the rampart, have been increased at the expense of the berm; but the
arrangements of both are the same, and so are the internal and external
dimensions. At Arbor Low there are two entrances across the ditch, as
there was in the Cumberland and Dumfriesshire examples. As mentioned
above, only one is now visible there, the other having been obliterated
by the road, but the two circles are in other respects so similar as to
leave very little doubt as to their true features.

[Illustration: 30. Arbor Low. From a drawing by Sir Gardner Wilkinson.]

The Derbyshire example, however, possesses, in addition to its
earthworks, a circle of stones on its inner platform, originally
probably forty or fifty in number; but all now prostrate, except
perhaps some of the smallest, which, being nearly cubical, may still be
in _situ_. In the centre of the platform, also, are several very large
stones, which evidently formed part of a central dolmen.

There is another very interesting addition at Arbor Low, which is
wanting at Penrith, this is a tumulus attached unsymmetrically to the
outer vallum. This was, after repeated attempts, at last successfully
excavated by the Messrs. Bateman, and found to contain a cist of rather
irregular shape, in which were found among other things two vases[167]
one of singularly elegant shape, the other less so. In themselves
these objects are not sufficient to determine the age of the barrow,
but they suffice to show that it was not very early. One great point
of interest in this discovery is its position with reference to the
circle. It is identical with that of Long Meg with reference to her
daughters, and perhaps some of the stones outside Avebury, supposed to
be the commencement of the avenue, may mark the principal places of

[Illustration: 31. Vases and Bronze Pin found in Arbor Low.]

[Illustration: 32. Section of Gib Hill. No scale.]

Attached to Arbor Low, at a distance of about 250 yards, is another
tumulus, called Gib Hill, apparently about 70 to 80 feet in
diameter.[168] It was carefully excavated by Mr. T. Bateman in 1848;
but after tunnelling through and through it in every direction on
the ground level and finding nothing, he was surprised at finding,
on removing the timber which supported his galleries, that the side
of the hill fell in, and disclosed the cist very near the summit.
The whole fell down, and the stones composing the cist were removed
and re-erected in the garden of Lumberdale House. It consisted of
four massive blocks of limestone forming the sides of a chamber, 2
feet by 2 feet 6 inches, and covered by one 4 feet square. The cap
stone was not more than 18 inches below the turf. By the sudden fall
of the side a very pretty vase was crushed, the fragments mingling
with the burnt bones it contained; but though restored, unfortunately
no representation has been given. The only other articles found in
this tumulus were "a battered celt of basaltic stone, a dart or
javelin-point of flint, and a small iron fibula, which had been
enriched with precious stones."[169]

[Illustration: 33. Summit of Minning Low, as it appeared in 1786. From

[Illustration: 34. Plan of Chambers in Minning Low.]

Though Gib Hill is interesting as the first of the high-level dolmens
which we have met with in this country, Minning Low is a still more
striking example of that class which we hinted at before as common
in Aveyron (_ante_, woodcut No. 8), and which we shall meet with
frequently as we proceed. When it first attracted the attention of
antiquaries in 1786, Minning Low seems to have been a straight-lined
truncated cone, about 300 feet in diameter, and the platform on
its summit measured 80 feet across.[170] Its height could not be
ascertained.[171] It was even then planted over with trees, so that
these dimensions, except the breadth of the platform, are hardly to
be depended upon, and since then the whole mound has been so dug
into and ruined, that they cannot now be verified. On the platform
at the top in 1786 there stood live kistvaens, each capable of
containing-one body; and, so far as can be made out from Douglas'
plates and descriptions, the cap stone of these was flush with the
surface, or possibly, as at Gib Hill, they may have been a few inches
below the surface, and, becoming exposed, may have been rifled as
they were found; but this is hardly probable, because unless always
exposed, it is not likely they would have been either looked for in
such a situation, or found by accident. Below them--at what depth we
are not told--a stone chamber, or rather three chambers, were found by
Mr. Bateman, apparently on the level of the ground on the south side
of the Barrow.[172] To use Mr. Bateman's own words ('Vestiges,' &c.,
p. 39): "On the summit of Minning Low Hill, as they now appear from
the soil being removed from them, are two large cromlechs, exactly
of the same construction as the well-known Kit's Cotty-house, near
Maidstone, in Kent. In the cell near which the body lay were found
fragments of five urns, some animal bones, and six brass Roman coins,
viz., one of Claudius Gothicus (270), two of Constantine the Great, two
of Constantine, junior, and one of Valentinian. There is a striking
analogy between this and the great Barrow at New Grange, described by
Dr. Ledwich, of which a more complete investigation of Minning Low
would probably furnish additional proofs." Mr. Bateman was not then
aware that a coin of Valentinian had been found in the New Grange
mound,[173] which is one similarity in addition.

The fact of these coins being found here fixes a date beyond which
it is impossible to carry back the age of this mound, but not the
date below which it may have been erected. The coins found in British
barrows seem almost always those of the last Emperors who held sway
in Britain, and whose coins may have been preserved and to a certain
extent kept in circulation after all direct connexion with Rome had
ceased, and thus their rarity or antiquity may have made them suitable
for sepulchral deposits. No coin of Augustus or any of the earlier
Emperors was ever found in or on any of these rude tumuli, which must
certainly have been the case had any of them been pre-Roman. This mound
is consequently certainly subsequent to the first half of the fourth
century, and how much more modern it may be remains to be determined.

Be this as it may, if Mr. Bateman's suggestion that this monument is a
counterpart of Kit's Cotty-house is correct--and no one who is familiar
with the two monuments will probably dispute it--this at once removes
any improbability from the argument that the last-named may be the
grave of Catigren. The one striking difference between the two is, that
Kit's Cotty-house is an external free-standing dolmen, while Minning
Low is buried in a tumulus. This, according to the views adopted in
these pages, from the experience of other monuments, would lead to the
inference that the Kentish example was the more modern of the two. It
is not, however, worth while arguing that point here; for our present
purpose it is sufficient to know that both are post-Roman, and probably
not far distant in date.

Another barrow belonging to this group is at Benty Grange, about a
mile from Arbor Low, which, though of a different character, may be
connected with the others. One body only was buried in it, of which
no trace, however, remained but the hair.[174] There was apparently
little more than 2 feet of earth over it. The first thing found was a
leather drinking-cup, ornamented in silver with stars and crosses. Two
circular enamels were also there, adorned with that interlacing pattern
found in the earliest Anglo-Saxon or Irish MSS. of the sixth or seventh
centuries, or it may be a little earlier; a helmet also was found,
formed of iron bars, with bronze and silver ornaments, and surmounted
by what Mr. Bateman assures us was a perfectly distinct representation
of a hog. He then quotes from Beowulf several passages, in which the
poet describes: "The boar an ornament to the head, the helmet lofty
in wars" (l. 4299).... "They seemed a boar's form to bear over their
cheeks" (l. 604).... "At the pile was easy to be seen, the mail-shirt
covered with gore, the hog of gold, the boar hard as iron" (l. 2213).
As Beowulf lived, as shown above, probably in the fifth century, the
poem may be taken as describing perfectly the costume of the warriors
of his day; and nothing could answer more completely his description
than the contents of this tomb.

[Illustration: 35. Fragment of Drinking Cup from Benty Grange.]

[Illustration: 36. Fragment of Helmet from Benty Grange.]

In Kenslow Barrow, between Minning Low and Arbor Low, were found a few
implements of flint and bone; but on clearing out the grave in the
rock, which had been examined before in 1821, Mr. S. Bateman found some
portions of the skeleton undisturbed, and with them a small neat bronze
dagger, and a little above these an iron knife of the shape and size
usually deposited in Anglo-Saxon interments.[175] Of course the theory
of successive interments is called on to explain away these disturbing
facts; but there seems nothing here to justify any other inference than
that in this case all the deposits belonged to the same age. This,
therefore, may be added to the examples quoted from the 'Vestiges,' to
show how little the Danish system is really applicable to the class of
monuments of which we are treating.

On Stanton Moor, four miles east from Kenslow, and about five miles
from Arbor Low and Minning Low respectively, there are many monuments,
both of earth and stone, which, though on a smaller scale, seem to
belong to the same age as those just described. They seem to have been
very much overlooked by the Batemans, but a very detailed account of
them is given by Mr. Rooke in the sixth volume of the 'Archæologia,'
in 1780. One of them, called the Nine Ladies, has been given already
(_ante_, p. 49); but westward of it stands or stood a stone, called the
King Stone, at a distance of 34 yards, thus suggesting a similarity to
the Salkeld circle. Half a mile west from this, nearer Arbor Low, is
another group of nine stones, the tallest 17 feet in height, and 75
yards southward two stones of smaller dimensions; 200 yards from this
an oval ring, the major axis of which measures 243 feet, the minor 156
feet. It has what Mr. Rooke calls a double ditch, a rampart outside the
ditch as well as one inside; it is, in fact, a less-developed example
of that form of which Arbor Low and Arthur's Round Table are finished
examples. On the east side of the Moor were three tall isolated stones,
which in Rooke's time the natives still called Cat Stones, showing
clearly that the tradition still remained of a battle fought there, but
when or by whom no tradition lingers on the spot to enlighten us.

All these monuments and many more which it would be tedious and
uninteresting to particularize, are contained within a circle, which
may be described with a radius of about three miles, the centre being
half way between Henty Grange and Stanton Moor. It would perhaps be too
much to assert that they are all of one age; but there is certainly a
very strong family likeness among them, and they cannot differ much
either in age or purpose. It may also perhaps be conceded that they
are not the tombs or temples of the inhabitants of the moors on which
they stand. The country where they are situated is a bleak inhospitable
tract, only not quite so bad as Shap, but hardly more able to support
a large population, if left only to their own resources, than the
Wiltshire Downs. These three localities could never consequently have
been so much richer in this class of monuments than settlements in the
more fertile parts of the island. Strangers must have erected them, and
to determine who these strangers were, is the task to which antiquaries
have now to apply themselves.

Whatever may be determined on the point, one thing, I think, must and
will be conceded, which is, that Arthur's Table at Penrith, Arbor Low,
and Avebury, are monuments of the same age, and were dedicated to the
same purposes. The first is a simple earthen monument, of a certain
design and with certain dimensions; the second has the same design and
dimensions, with the addition of a circle of stones and dolmen in the
centre; the third has all the features that the other two possess, with
the addition of increased dimensions, and the internal circles being
doubled. But the internal ditch, the rampart, and the character of the
circle and other features, are so like each other, and so unlike what
are found elsewhere, that they must stand or fall together. If any one
of these belonged to the age of Arthur, all three certainly did. If, on
the other hand, any one of the three can be proved to belong to another
age, the other two will hardly be able to maintain their position. The
circles at Cumrew, Salkeld, and Mayborough, present so many points
of similarity, that they, too, must probably be classed with these
three, though there is not the same evidence to justify their being
classed together. The stone avenue at Shap is also most probably the
counterpart of that at Kennet; but the destruction of the circle at
Brackenbyr, and the limited knowledge we have of it, prevent anything
very definite being predicated regarding it.

If we may consider Gib Hill as the analogue of Silbury Hill, its place
and position may throw some light on the mystery attaching to the
latter. The relative distances of these satellites to their primaries
is nearly proportional to the diameter of the circles, and they both
present the peculiarity that they have no interment in their base.
The Archæological Institute in 1849 did exactly what the Batemans had
done before them. They tunnelled and explored the base of Gib Hill,
and gave it up in despair, when an accident revealed to them the grave
over their heads, within 18 inches of the surface. The antiquaries were
not so fortunate at Silbury; but judging from the analogy of Gib Hill,
and still more from that of Minning Low, the graves may be expected
to be found arranged around the plateau on the summit, probably six
or seven in number, and as probably within a few feet of the surface.
There was none in the centre of the platform at Minning Low, though
there was in the smaller tumulus of Gib Hill; and this may account for
the Duke of Northumberland's ill-success when he dug into the hill
in 1776. Poor Stukeley was very much laughed at for prizing a very
modern-looking iron bit, belonging to a bridle that was found on the
top of the hill[176] (woodcut No. 18); yet it may turn out to be the
only real fact he brought away from the place. Nothing but an iron
sword was found in the kistvaen, on the top of Minning Low, but it was
nearly perfect;[177] why should not the bridle be found, for we know
that horses were frequently buried with the warriors they had borne in

Omitting Cornwall for the present, the circles at Stanton Drew form the
only other group of any importance in England for which it remains to
find a purpose and a name; and I confess I see no reason for separating
them from those just named. There are so many points of similarity,
that they can hardly be of an age far apart, and their purpose
certainly is the same. If there is anything in the arguments adduced
above, they must mark a battle-field. They are certainly not a family
or a princely sepulchre, still less a local cemetery, nor need it now
be added, certainly not a temple.

[Illustration: 37. Circles at Stanton Drew. From a plan by Sir R. C.

[Illustration: 38. View of the Circles at Stanton Drew. From a sketch
by Percy Shelton, Esq.]

Their arrangement will be understood from the annexed woodcut (No.
37). The group consists of one first-class circle or oval, 378 feet
(?) by 345 feet--100 metres; and two of the second class, one 96 feet,
the other 129; and a dolmen near the church, at a distance of 157
yards from the last-named.[178] Attached to the two principal circles
are short straight avenues, pointing apparently to two stones very
near to one another--the one at a distance of 300 feet from the large
circle, the other at the distance of about 100 from the smaller one,
or at distances relative to their diameters. There is also a very
large stone, called the King Stone, by the roadside, but beyond the
limits of the plan. This, with the stones to which the avenues point,
are probably the analogues of the detached stone, known as Long Meg,
at Salkeld, or the Ring Stone, which stands 180 feet from one of the
circles at Avebury; perhaps also of the two which are assumed to be the
commencement of the Beckhampton avenue at that place, or of the Friar's
heel at Stonehenge, or of the King Stone at Stanton Moor. In fact, all
these circles seem to have detached stones standing at some little
distance from them outside. It is there that I would look for the
principal interments, rather than in the circles themselves; but this
is one of the questions that the spade, and the spade only, can decide.
There is, however, also attached to the smaller of the two circles
at Stanton Drew a heap of stones which is apparently the ruins of a
dolmen, and these may mark the real place of interment, as does the
tumulus attached to Arbor Low, which corresponds with them in position.

The only recorded tradition with regard to this monument at Stanton
Drew represents Keyna, a holy virgin in the fifth century, the daughter
apparently of a Welsh prince, obtaining a grant of the land on which
the village of Keynsham now stands from the prince of the country. She
was warned, however, of the insecurity of the gift, in consequence of
the serpents of a deadly species that infested the place. She accepted
the gift notwithstanding, and by her prayers converted the serpents
into the stones we now see there,[179] so at least Stukeley and
Bathurst Dean assure us.

Such a tradition is only valuable as indicating the date that is
popularly ascribed to the monument. In this instance the fifth century
is suggested, which may be 50 or even 100 years earlier than I would
be inclined to assign it to, but such data are of little consequence.
The date is also shadowed forth in the incident related; for not
only in Ireland, but in France, and frequently also in England, the
early struggles of the first Christian missionaries are represented
as victories over the snakes or snake worshippers. St. Hilda, for
instance, at Whitby signalized the establishment of Christianity in
the seventh century by converting the Yorkshire snakes into Ammonites,
which are still found there in quantities, which in the eyes of the
peasantry are much more like stone snakes than the stones into which
St. Keyna transformed her Somersetshire enemies.

Whatever the value of these and such like traditions, one thing seems
quite certain, that every local tradition which has yet been quoted
represents these monuments as erected subsequently to Roman times,
and generally as belonging to that transitional age when Christianity
was struggling with Paganism for the mastery. The common people are
generally willing enough to amuse themselves with fables about giants
and demigods, and to wander back into prehistoric times; but with
regard to these monuments they do not seem to have done so. I do not
recollect a single tradition that ascribes any stone circle to the
pre-Roman period.

If, however, I am correct in assuming that these great groups of
circles belong to the Arthurian age, we have no difficulty in assigning
to this one its proper place in the series of his battles. The ninth,
as we have seen above, was probably fought at Caerleon on the Usk;
which would seem to indicate that, at a certain point in his career,
Arthur was forced back quite out of England into South Wales; but
his return on that hypothesis is easily traced. The tenth battle was
on the shore of some large river, which ought in consequence to be
the Severn, though the name given in the text lends no countenance
to this supposition; the eleventh was "In monte quod dicitur Agned
in Somersetshire," which would answer perfectly, except in name; for
Stanton Drew, in that case, would be in the direct line of advance to
Badon Hill, where the twelfth and crowning victory was fought.

The name here, as throughout, creates the difficulty, but Stanton on
the Stones, or Stone Town, is simply an epithet applied to all these
groups by the Saxons at some period subsequent to that of which we are
speaking, when the memory of their purpose was lost, or little cared
for by those of a different race, and speaking a different language,
who had succeeded to the Bryts, who had erected them. Unless we assume
that Stonehenge, Stanton Drew, the circles on Stanton Moor, and the
stones at Stennis, and others, were erected by the Saxons themselves,
they must originally have borne Celtic names, and it would be these
names that Nennius would quote, and which consequently could not be
those by which they are now known.

The expression "in monte" is singularly confirmatory of this
determination, inasmuch as one of the remarkable features of the
locality is the fortified hill known as Maes[180] Knoll, which
literally looks into Stanton Drew, and is the most remarkable feature
seen from it, and a fight on its ridge is as probable an operation as
any likely to be undertaken in this quarter.

       *       *       *       *       *

If the above were all the evidence that could be produced in support
of the hypothesis that all these great circles belonged to the
Arthurian age, it might be admitted to be sufficient to establish not a
conclusion but a fair _prima facie_ case. The reasonableness, however,
of what has been here advanced will, it is hoped, become more and more
apparent as we proceed. Absolute mathematical or logical proof it is to
be feared, in the present state of the evidence, is not available. Till
attention is fairly turned to a certain definite line of argument, the
experiments are not made, and the authorities are not read, which bear
upon it, or if made or read are not understood; but when the arguments
are examined with the earnest desire to prove or disprove them, new
light springs up from every quarter, and before long there may be
grounds for a positive answer.

Meanwhile it may be well to point out, before going further, that this
class of circles is peculiar to England. They do not exist in France
or in Algeria. The Scandinavian circles are all very different, so too
are the Irish. The one circle out of England that at all resembles them
is that at Stennis, or rather Brogar, in the Orkneys, which will be
described in detail further on. There we have a great 100-metre circle,
with a ditch (but no rampart), a smaller 100-foot circle, with a ruined
dolmen in its stone circle, as at Stanton Drew, and we have the Maes
Knoll for the Maes How. The Stennis group has also the detached stones,
though it wants the rudimentary avenues, and some minor peculiarities,
and it may be more modern, but it is very similar; whereas those in
Cornwall and elsewhere are small and irregular, and totally wanting
in the dignity belonging to those which we have ventured to call

The arguments adduced in the preceding pages will probably be deemed
sufficient to make out a strong case to show that these great circles
were erected, at all events, after the departure of the Romans, and if
this is so, it confines the field for discussion within very narrow
limits. Either they must have been erected by the Romanized Britons
before they were so completely Christianized as to be entirely weaned
from their Pagan habits, or they were the works of the Saxons or
Danes. We shall be in a better position to judge how far it is likely
that the latter were the authors, when we have examined the rude
stone monuments of Scandinavia or Friesland, from which countries
the Northmen descended on our shores. When this is done, we shall
probably come to the conclusion that, as they erected Dolmens as
burying-places for their dead, and Menhirs or Bauta Stones and circles
in their battle-fields, there is no improbability of their having done
so also here. The question, however, is, did they erect these great
100-metre circles? These are unique, so far as I know; a class quite by
themselves, and so similar, whether found in Cumberland or Derbyshire,
or in Wilts or Somersetshire, that, with the probable exception of the
Orkney group, they must be the work of one people, and also nearly of
the same age. If, in fact, they do not mark the battle-fields to which
I have attempted to ascribe them, they must mark something nearly
approximating to them in date, and as nearly analogous in intention and


[Illustration: 39. Rose Hill Tumulus. From the 'Archæologia,' vol. x.]

It would be as tedious as unprofitable to attempt to enumerate all
the smaller circles existing in various parts of England; but there
are two or three which are curious in themselves, and interesting as
illustrating the large circles of which we have just been treating.
The first to be mentioned is one situated in Englewood Forest, near
Rose Hill, and therefore nearly equidistant from Cumrew, Salkeld, and
Carlisle. Locally, therefore, it belongs to the Cumberland group,
described above, and may do so in date also. It is a low platform,
it can hardly be called a tumulus, as it is only 12 feet high. It is
circular, and measures 63 feet across. On the platform stand, or at
least stood in 1787, three bilithons, or groups of two tall stones
standing side by side, like those in the inner circle at Stonehenge.
Mr. Rooke dug in front of one of these, with the intention of seeing
how deep it was in the ground, but to his astonishment he found a cist
formed of six perfectly well fitted hewn stones, but measuring little
more than 2 feet each way. In front of the other outside group he
found a similar cist, but a little larger, 2 feet 10 inches by 2 feet
2 inches, and further removed from the central pair of upright stones,
and nearer the centre of the circle, a third cist, formed equally of
hewn and well fitted stones. In all three of these were found human
bones, fragments of skulls, teeth, &c., but no implements or ornaments
of any sort, only under one head a metallic lump, with apparently
particles of gold in it.[181] This was sent to the Society of
Antiquaries for examination, but with what result is not stated.[182]
According to the plan, it would appear as if there were originally six
interments in the mound. In fact, that it was the counterpart of the
top of Minning Low, with the addition of the pairs of obelisks. Mr.
Rooke was, however, so much puzzled at finding Druids buried six feet
below the floor of their own temple, that he did not seek further.
But if the mound still exists, it would be very interesting to know
if any more cists exist in the mound, or any burial deeper down below
them, as in the Derbyshire example. It might contain coins, and if so,
would be interesting as another example of its date; but meanwhile its
truncated conoidal form and arrangement of graves, and of trilithons,
are sufficient to show that it was cotemporary with Minning Low and
Stonehenge, or at all events not far from their date.

[Illustration: 40. Snaffle-Bit found at Aspatria.]

In the same paper in which Mr. Rooke describes the Rose Hill tumulus
he gives an account of an excavation at a place called Aspatria, a
little farther westward, and near St. Bees. They cleared away a barrow
about 90 feet in diameter, and at 3 feet below the original surface
of the ground found a cist in which lay the skeleton of a man of
gigantic stature. As he lay extended, he measured 7 feet from the head
to the ankle. His feet were decayed and rotted off. At his side, near
the shoulder-blade, was an iron sword 4 feet in length, the handle
elegantly ornamented with inlaid silver flowers; a gold fibula or
buckle was also found, with portions of the shield and his battle-axe.
One of the most curious things found was the bit of a snaffle-bridle,
which is so modern-looking that it would not excite interest if seen
on a stall in Seven Dials. The main interest resides in its similarity
to that which Stukeley found at Silbury Hill (woodcut No. 18, p.
81). He cleaned and polished his one carefully. Mr. Rooke had his
engraved with all the rust upon it, so, at first sight, they are not so
similar as they are in reality. The fact of this one being found in an
undoubtedly ancient grave, takes away all _prima facie_ improbability
from the suggested age of the other. From its form, Stukeley's appears
to be the older of the two; but we have no chronometric scale for

All these things make this grave look as if it were very modern; but on
the outside of the stones forming the cist were engraved a variety of
figures which are of interest as a means of comparison with the Irish
and Danish engravings we shall meet with hereafter. They are not very
artistically drawn, and are probably worse engraved; but it is easy to
recognize the cross in the circle. There are the concentric circles
with dots in the centre and straight lines proceeding from them and
other figures found on rocks and elsewhere, which antiquaries have
hitherto been inclined to ascribe to a primæval antiquity, but which
this tomb would bring down at least to the Viking age--of which more

[Illustration: 41. Side Stone, Aspatria Cist.]

[Illustration: 42. Mule Hill, View of Cists.]

[Illustration: 43. Circle of Cists at Mule Hill, Isle of Man.]

The circle of cists on Mule Hill, in the Isle of Man, are interesting
from another cause; for unfortunately they all have been laid bare
and rifled before any antiquary took cognisance of them, and we have
consequently nothing by which their date can be even guessed at. Their
interest lies in their arrangement, which is that of eight cists
arranged in a circle, with, it would seem, others at right angles at
certain intervals.[183] From simple inspection it is evident that
these cists must at one time have been covered with earth. They are
not dolmens, or anything that would do for self-standing monuments.
If covered with earth, they would form a circular mound 45 feet in
diameter internally, and 65 feet across to the foot of the outer
slope, and, as far as one example can go, would tend to prove that the
circular vallum at Avebury and many other places was a place for the
deposit of bodies. Except in the instance spoken of in describing the
circle at Marden, I am not aware of bodies having been found in England
under these ramparts; but they have not been sought for. Of one thing
we may feel certain, that nothing is unique in these matters, and that
what occurred once, occurred frequently, and will no doubt be found
when looked for.

Another peculiarity of this circle is worth observing. There are two
gaps or openings in the circle opposite one another, as at Arbor
Low and Penrith. One must not rely too much on this, as the gaps
here may arise from the removal of cists; but the coincidence is at
least curious, and if we restored this monument in the sense just
indicated, and could rely on that restoration, the secret of the
vallum surrounding Avebury and other similar monuments would no longer
be a mystery. To my mind it has not been so for many years past; but
though I dare not yet ask others to follow at once, I trust sufficient
evidence has been accumulated in the preceding pages to render it
probable that they were only continuous tumuli.

The circle or rather circles, on Burn Moor, near Wast Water,
Cumberland, are described by Mr. Williams as consisting of a 100-foot
circle, formed of forty-four stones, beyond which, at a distance of 25
feet is an outer circle of fourteen large stones. A niche or square
enclosure on one side of the inner circle contains a cairn 25 feet in
diameter, and within the circle are four others, irregularly spaced,
and measuring 21 to 25 feet in diameter; each like the circle itself,
surrounded by fourteen stones. These, on being opened, were found to
contain a rude chamber formed of five stones, in which were found
remains of burnt bones, horns of stags, and other animals.[184]

One point of interest in this monument is, that it explains the
existence of a similar square enclosure on one side of a well-known
100-foot circle near Keswick. There is no sign of a cairn there now;
it may have been removed, as those at Salkeld were, or it may be that
the body was interred without this external indication; but that it
lies, or lay, in this enclosure seems certain. The principal reason
for referring to it here is that it is undoubtedly sepulchral. We
shall find many examples equally so further on, but it is well, in the
meanwhile, to illustrate one which certainly was neither a temple nor
place of assembly, and which contains, besides, several peculiarities
to which we shall have occasion to advert hereafter.

[Illustration: 44. Circles on Burn Moor, Cumberland.]

It seems almost equally clear that the Boscawen circles, with which
we close our illustrations of English circles for the present, were
neither Temples nor Things. It is very difficult to see how any one
could fancy that anything so confused as the centre of these circles
is, could be a temple, still less a place of assembly. But Borlase,
though generally admitting the sepulchral nature of the circles,
maintains that this one was a temple, and describes the position
of the serving Druids and all the ceremonies down to the minutest
particulars. The circles are small, the largest being only 75 feet in
diameter, and the whole group only 200 feet across, neither are the
stones by any means of imposing dimensions. Another circumstance worthy
of being noticed, is that there are detached stones in front of the
principal circles. Interesting results might be obtained by excavating
at their bases, as, for reasons above stated, it seems as if the
principal interment might be found at their feet.

[Illustration: 45. Boscawen Circles. From Borlase.]


As stated above, England seems to be the native country of the great
circles, no 100-metre circles having yet been found anywhere out
of England, excepting, of course, that at Stennis. France, on the
contrary, seems to be the native country of the dolmens. They exist
there in numbers far beyond anything we can show, and of dimensions
exceeding anything we can boast of. In England proper, when we
have enumerated Kit's Cotty-house, the dolmen in Clatford Bottom,
Wayland Smith's Cave, that at Rollright, and one at Drewsteignton, in
Devonshire, our list is nearly exhausted. There may be heaps of stones
which seem dolmens, or something like them; and chambered tumuli, whose
internal kistvaens, if exposed, might be entitled to rank with dolmens;
but, taking the word in its broad sense, it is difficult to carry our
list beyond the half-dozen.

In Cornwall the case is different. In the corner to the westward
of Falmouth there are at least twice as many as in all England. In
Wales, I think I could enumerate twice as many as in Cornwall; and
in Anglesea[185] there are certainly as many as in Cornwall, perhaps
more; and in the Isle of Man they are also numerous. It is difficult
to be precise, as the same monument is, sometimes at least, recorded
under two names; but it is not an exaggeration to say that from fifty
to sixty have been described, and most of them figured, as found in
the West country, and I should not be surprised if an industrious
statistician carried the number to 100, including, of course, many that
are now ruinous.

There are two points of view from which this geographical distribution
of English dolmens may be regarded. The first and most obvious would
be to consider that they were erected by the Britons after they were
driven into the mountain fastnesses of the West, first by the Romans,
and more completely afterwards by the Saxons. The other view would
be that they are the work of a different race, who, we have every
reason to believe, occupied the western country in the time of the
Romans. Tacitus is particularly explicit on this point. He divides
the inhabitants of the country into three classes. The red-haired
Caledonians, resembling the Germans and inhabiting the north; the
Silures, of dark complexion and curling hair, and whom he describes
as living in that part of the country which is opposite Spain, and
he suggests that the ancient Iberians crossed over and occupied
these regions; and he then adds: "Those nearest to Gaul are similar
to the inhabitants of that country."[186] There is so much in the
present aspect of the people of this country to confirm this general
classification that there seems very little reason for doubting its
general correctness; and as all these dolmens are found in the country
of the Silures it may be argued that they belong to them. If he had
joined the Aquitanians to Iberians he would probably have expressed
more completely the whole facts of the case as we now know them.

Admitting, however, this ethnographic view of the case to the fullest
possible extent--which I am prepared to do, it still leaves the
question of date wholly unsettled. It would be answered if we dared
to assume that the Silures were driven from the fertile parts of the
valley of the Severn, which we have reason to suppose they occupied
in Agricola's time, to the mountain fastnesses, and that it was then
only that they began to repeat in stone what previously they had only
erected in earth. If this could be established, we should get both an
ethnographical and a chronological determination of no small value; but
of this we shall be better able to form an opinion after discussing the
monuments of France.

Meanwhile there is one point bearing upon the subject to which it may
be as well to draw attention. In Wales and Anglesea, which we may
assume to have been the country of the Silures or that to which they
were driven, there are no circles, but only dolmens. In Cornwall, where
the blood was certainly more mixed, there are both circles and dolmens,
and the same is the case at the other extremity of the western district
in the Isle of Man.

If it is contended that, being nearer to Spain or Aquitaine than Wales,
Cornwall must have been earliest and most exclusively inhabited by
the dark race, the answer is, that though it may originally have been
so, the races in Cornwall had been mixed with Celtic and other blood
before the age of the stone monuments; while in the Isle of Man we
shall probably see reason for believing that northern blood was infused
into the veins of the people, at a very early age, when few, if any,
monuments of this class existed, and certainly before all had been

[Illustration: 46. Park Cwn Tumulus. Scale 16 feet to 1 inch.]

Even a cursory examination of these West Coast dolmens would, I think,
be sufficient to prove to any one that the theory that all were
originally covered with earthen mounds is utterly untenable. That such
chambered graves as those at Uley in Gloucestershire,[187] or Stoney
Littleton in Somersetshire,[188] were always intended to be so covered
up is clear enough. So was this one at Park Cwn, in the peninsula of
Gower, recently opened and described by Sir John Lubbock.[189] It
is of the same type as Uley and Stoney Littleton, but has only four
chambers arranged on each side of the central passage. One of its most
remarkable characteristics is the beautiful masonry of the retaining
walls on each side of the funnel-shaped passage leading to the cells.
These are so carefully built that it is evident that they were meant
to be seen, and the entrance to be kept open. Indeed, unless we fancy
it was the monument of some fight, which there seems no reason for
supposing, it is evident it must have been kept open till forty
deaths had occurred in the family of the chief to which it served
as sepulchre, as at least that number of bodies were found in the
chambers, but in a dreadfully confused condition, as if the grave had
been rifled before, but no implements or trace of metal were left to
indicate even approximately its age.

At Uley, in Gloucestershire, half way between Berkeley and Tetbury,
there is a tumulus which, in its internal arrangement, is very similar
to that last described. The entrance is of the same form, and there are
four side-chambers; but those at Uley are grouped more artistically
in the centre, instead of being separated by a passage, as at Park
Cwn. Externally the differences are more apparent; the Gloucestershire
example being oblong, or rather heart-shaped, while that in Gower is
more circular in form. The Uley tumulus was first opened by a Mr.
Baker, in 1821, but subsequently examined with great care by Dr.
Thurnam; and a very careful account, resulting from his own observation
compared with the records of Mr. Baker's, published by him in the
'Archæological Journal.'[190] The bodies in the chambers, which were
numerous, had been disturbed and were lying in disorder, as at Park
Cwn; but among them was found a vessel resembling a Roman lachrymatory,
and some pottery which may have been either Romano-British or Mediæval.
There were also found some fragments of flint implements, apparently
arrow-heads, and outside two stone axes--one of flint. Near the summit
of the mound, exactly over the easternmost chamber, there had been
another interment, and beside the skeleton were found three brass coins
of the sons of Constantine the Great.

On this evidence, Dr. Thurnam, with the approval probably of every
antiquary in England, comes to the conclusion that the original
erection of the chambered tumulus belongs to the long prehistoric past;
that the pottery, &c., were accidentally introduced; and that the coins
belong to a secondary post-Roman interment. The only evidence for this
being the presence of the flints above mentioned, and the assumptions
based on them; they having become articles of faith with antiquaries
which it is rank heresy to dispute. As I have already stated, till
some one can show at what period flint ceased to be used in any
particular locality, this evidence is worthless. With regard to the
secondary interments, it appears to be inconceivable that, after the
lapse of 500 or 600 years at least, and the civilizing influence of the
Roman occupation, any one should choose the top of one of the mounds
of the long-forgotten pagan savages for a burying-place. If burying
in barrows had been the fashion in Gloucestershire, as it was on the
wolds of Yorkshire or the downs of Wiltshire, something might be said
in favour of such an hypothesis if we could also assume that the races
had been undisturbed in the interval. But there are hardly half-a-dozen
tumuli in the whole county. They, like Uley, Rodmarton,[191] Stoney
Littleton,[192] are all chambered tumuli of one class and apparently of
one age. All too, it may be remarked, are close to Roman stations and
surrounded by evidences of Roman occupation.

In the previous pages we have already met with several instances
of summit interments, as at Gib Hill, Minning Low, &c., which are
certainly not secondary, and we have reason to suspect that more will
be found when looked for; and the finding of Roman coins on or near
the top of tumuli is too frequent to be accidental, and occurs even in
Ireland, where the Romans never went.

We shall have occasion to recur to this subject when speaking of the
tomb of King Harald Hildetand at Lethra, and then propose to treat
it more in detail; but meanwhile it seems clear that the evidence of
the coins and the pottery must be allowed to outweigh that of the
flints; and if this is so, not only Uley but all the chamber-tumuli in
Gloucestershire or Somerset belong either to the Romano-British, or
rather to the post-Roman period of British history.

[Illustration: 47. Tumulus, Plas Newydd.]

[Illustration: 48. Entrance to Dolmen, in Tumulus, Plas Newydd.]

Another and even more interesting example of this class has recently
been brought to light by the Hon. W. O. Stanley, at Plas Newydd, not
far from the great dolmen represented on woodcut No. 50.[193] It is
a chamber or cist, 3 feet 3 inches wide by about 7 feet long, and
covered by two slabs. Before being disturbed, the supporting slabs
must have formed nearly perfect walls, thus distinguishing the cist
from those standing on widely-spaced legs. Its principal point of
interest, however, is the widely-splayed avenue of stones leading up to
it, showing that it was always intended to be visited; and still more
curious are the two holes that were pierced in the slab that closed
the entrance. The upper part of this slab is now broken off, but so
much remains that it is easy to see that they were originally circular
and about 10 inches in diameter. Such holed stones are very frequent in
Eastern dolmens, and are also common in Cornwall and elsewhere;[194]
but what their purpose may have been has not yet been explained.
Further on it may be attempted. At present it is the relation of this
form of chambered tumuli to external dolmens that principally interests

[Illustration: 49. Dolmen at Pentre Ifan. From 'Archæologia

Almost all the so-called dolmens in the Channel Islands are of this
class. One has already been given (woodcut No. 11), and it may safely
be asserted that all chambers which were wainscoted with slabs,
so as to form nearly perfect walls, and all that had complicated
quasi-vaulted roofs were, or were intended to be, covered with
mounds--more especially those that had covered passages leading
to them. There is, however, a very wide distinction between these
sepulchral chambers and such a monument as this at Pentre Ifan, in
Pembrokeshire.[195] The top stone is so large that it is said five
persons on horseback have found shelter under it from a shower of
rain. Even allowing that the horses were only Welsh ponies, men do
not raise such masses and poise them on their points for the sake of
hiding them again. Besides that, the supports do not and could not
form a chamber. The earth would have fallen in on all sides, and the
connexion between the roof and the floor been cut off entirely, even
before the whole was completed. Or, to take another example, that at
Plas Newydd, on the shore of the Menai Strait. Here the cap stone is an
enormous block, squared by art, supported on four stone legs, but with
no pretence of forming a chamber. If the cap stone were merely intended
as a roofing stone, one a third or fourth of its weight would have been
equally serviceable and equally effective in an architectural point of
view, if buried. The mode of architectural expression which these Stone
men best understood was the power of mass. At Stonehenge, at Avebury,
and everywhere, as here, they sought to give dignity and expression by
using the largest blocks they could transport or raise--and they were
right; for, in spite of their rudeness, they impress us now; but had
they buried them in mounds, they neither would have impressed us nor
their contemporaries.

[Illustration: 50. Dolmen at Plas Newydd. From 'Archæologia

As before mentioned, however, the great argument against the theory of
their having been always covered up is the impossibility of accounting
for the disappearance of the tumuli. If they had been situated on
fertile plains where the land was valuable for agricultural purposes,
it might be assumed that a civilized people with highly cultivated
antiquarian tastes might have been at the trouble and expense of
removing the tumuli for the sake of the land, and of preserving the
dolmens for their historical value. But that the rude peasantry of
Cornwall and Wales should have done this is inconceivable, more
especially as by far the greater number of these monuments are situated
on bleak moorlands of no agricultural value whatever. Still more
inconceivable is it that they should have done it so neatly and so
carefully that no trace of the mound can now be found either around the
stones or in the neighbourhood.

If any history were attached to these Western dolmens, or any remains
had been found under them which would enable us to fix their dates,
even approximately, or to arrange them in any intelligible sequence,
it might be worth while recapitulating their names or illustrating
their forms. Nothing of the sort, however, has yet been attempted;
and apparently no materials exist from which any such series could be

[Illustration: 51. Arthur's Quoit, Gower. From a drawing by Sir Gardner

[Illustration: 52. Plan of Arthur's Quoit.]

Only one dolmen in Wales, so far as I know, bears a name; but it is the
illustrious one of King Arthur. The dolmen bearing his name is situated
in the peninsula of Gower, on the northern slopes of the bleak Bryn
Cefn, about ten miles west from Swansea.[196] It forms the centre of a
very extensive group of monuments--eighty cairns, at least, are still
to be counted in an area less than half a mile in length, by a quarter
of a mile in width. These are mostly small, 12 to 15 feet in diameter;
one, 20 feet across, was opened by Sir Gardner Wilkinson, but proved
to contain no interment. The largest is 68 feet in diameter, but has
not been opened. About 350 feet from this is the dolmen. The cap stone
is 14 feet 6 inches in length, 7 feet 5 inches in height, and 6 feet 8
inches in breadth even now, but a very large piece has been broken off,
and now lies beside it, measuring upwards of 3 feet in thickness; and
another piece seems to have been broken off on the other end, so that
when complete it must have weighed between 35 and 40 tons. It rested
originally on ten or eleven upright stones, two of which, however,
have fallen, and only four now touch the cap stone. Sir Gardner is of
opinion that it once was covered with a tumulus; but this appears
very doubtful. The slight mound, backed up with large stones, that now
surrounds it, with a diameter of 73 to 74 feet, seems an enclosure more
like that of Hob Hurst's House (woodcut No. 53) than the remains of a
tumulus, and till some further evidence is adduced, we must be allowed
to doubt whether any cap stone on legs was ever so treated. Sir Gardner
traced, doubtfully, an avenue, of which, however, only five stones now
remain, extending to about 500 feet in a direction that would have
passed the dolmen on the north, as that at Shap did the circle at its
front, or the lines at Merivale Bridge, the circle still found there;
Sir Gardner also points out some small circular enclosures, which, from
the analogy of those found on Dartmoor, he assumes to be hut-circles.

[Illustration: 53. Hob Hurst's House, on Baslow Moor, Derbyshire. From
a drawing by Thomas Bateman.[197]]

What, then, is this group of monuments? Sir Gardner assumes that it
is a cemetery of the ancient Britons; but, if so, why are not other
cemeteries found in the fertile valleys and plains in South Wales?
Why did they choose one of the barest and bleakest hillsides, and one
farthest removed from their habitations as a place in which to bury
their dead? Why did they not, like the inhabitants of Salisbury Plain,
disperse their graves pretty equally over an area of 30 miles by 10?
Why crowd them into less than half-a-mile? Without reverting to my
previous suggestion of a battle-field, I do not see how these questions
can be answered; and if so, I do not think we have far to go to look
for its name? As hinted above, Arthur's eighth battle must have been
fought in Wales. The name of the place is written Guin (Gwyn), Guinon,
Guinnon, Gunnion,[198] which certainly is Welsh; and when we find it
immediately preceding the battle of Caerleon on the Usk, and the
principal monument still bearing Arthur's name, we may fairly, I think,
adopt the suggestion till, at least, a better is offered.

Be this as it may, I think all antiquaries will agree with Sir Gardner
Wilkinson in assuming that this is the stone of Cetti[199] mentioned
in the Welsh triads. 'The 84th Triad' speaks of the Cor of Emmrys in
Caer Caradawg (another name for Salisbury), and the 88th of the three
mighty achievements of the Isle of Britain, the raising of the stone
of Cetti, the building of the work of Emmrys, and the heaping of the
pile of Cyvragnon.[200] The work of Emmrys (Ambrosius) is generally
admitted to be Stonehenge. If this is the stone of Cetti, which I see
no reason for doubting, it only remains to identify the third. Most
antiquaries suggest Silbury Hill; and, if I am correct in placing these
three monuments so near one another in date, this seems also extremely
probable, and so far as it goes, is a satisfactory confirmation of what
has been advanced above from other sources.

From my ignorance of the Welsh language I am not in a position to say
what amount of reliance should be placed in the evidence of these
triads. But Herbert and other competent scholars consider it undoubted
that Emmrys is Ambrosius, and the 'Work' referred to certainly
Stonehenge. If this is so, it fixes its date beyond question, and as
the other two are mentioned in the same breath it is probable they
were not distant in date. All this may be, I believe certainly is so,
but the circumstantial evidence adduced above seems to me so much
clearer and so much more to be relied upon, that it derives very little
additional force from the utterance of the Welsh bards. It is, however,
no doubt satisfactory that their evidence coincides with everything
that has been brought forward above, as bearing directly or indirectly
on their age or use.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before proceeding, it may be as well to revert for one moment to Hob
Hurst's House. It is quoted here to show how a tumulus, with a dolmen
on the top of it, may be connected with a low rampart so as not to
conceal it, exactly, I believe, as is the case with Arthur's Quoit.
But the name of the place where it is situated may afford a hint which
may lead to something hereafter. It will be recollected that Arthur's
sixth battle was fought "super flumen quod vocatur Bassas." This mound
is situated on "Bas" Moor, the Low being merely the name of the mound
itself. These nominal similarities are too treacherous to be relied
upon; but the more the whole group is looked at the more does it appear
that there are coincidences of name, or form, or purpose, between
those monuments here called Arthurian, which cannot all be accidental.
Individually they may not be able to resist hostile criticism, but in
their cumulative form they appear to me to make up a very strong case

If any of the other dolmens in the West had even so good a title to
a date as Arthur's Quoit, it might be possible to arrange them in a
series; but as none have even traditional dates, all we can now do is
to suggest that the dolmen at Plas Newydd (woodcut No. 50) is of about
the same age as Arthur's Stone: perhaps something more modern, as it
is more carefully squared; but this may arise from the one being a
battle-stone, the other a peaceful sepulchre. In like manner it would
seem that such an exaggerated form as Pentre Ifan (woodcut No. 49) is
a "tour de force" of a still more modern date; and if we could get
one certainly older than any of these, a tentative scheme could be
constructed which might lead us to satisfactory results.

I by no means despair of being able eventually to construct such a
scheme of classification, and, even before this Work is concluded, to
make it tolerably clear that the thing is possible, and then it will
only remain, if one or two fixed or probable dates can be ascertained,
to bring the whole within the range of historical investigation.

    [Footnote 134: 'Iter Curiosum,' pl. xxxiii.]

    [Footnote 135: 'Iter Curiosum,' p. xxxii.]

    [Footnote 136: When I was there four years ago I was fortunate
    enough to find an old man, a stonemason, who had been employed in
    his youth in utilizing these stones. He went over the ground with
    me, and pointed out the position of those he remembered.]

    [Footnote 137: It is extremely difficult to be precise about the
    dimensions. One is almost wholly buried in the earth, and its
    dimensions can only be obtained by probing; the other is half

    [Footnote 138: 'Archæologia,' ii. 1773, p. 107.]

    [Footnote 139: 'Wanderings of an Antiquary;' London, 1854, p. 175
    _et seq._]

    [Footnote 140: _loc. cit._ 175.]

    [Footnote 141: 'Mon. Hist. Brit.' p. 299.]

    [Footnote 142: 'Beowulf: an Anglo-Saxon Poem,' translated by J. W.
    Kemble, 1835, preface, p. xix.]

    [Footnote 143: 'Mon. Hist. Brit.' p. 121.]

    [Footnote 144: This woodcut is copied literally from one by Mr.
    Lewis published in the 'Norwich Volume of the International
    Prehistoric Congress,' and the figures and facts I am about to
    quote are mostly taken from the paper that accompanied it. The
    inferences, however, are widely different.]

    [Footnote 145: 'Norwich Volume of the International Prehistoric
    Congress,' p. 37.]

    [Footnote 146: Asser, in 'Mon. Hist. Brit.' p. 476.]

    [Footnote 147: Stukeley, 'Avebury,' p. 12; Borlase, p. 210.]

    [Footnote 148: Camden, 'Britannia,' i. p. 285. See also Charleton's
    'Stonehenge restored to the Danes,' p. 36.]

    [Footnote 149: On this stone Sir Gardiner Wilkinson traced one of
    those circles of concentric rings which are so common on stones in
    the north of England. I did not see it myself, but assuming it to
    be true--which I have no doubt it is--it will not help us much till
    we know when and by whom these circles were engraved.]

    [Footnote 150: 'Brit.' p. 1021.]

    [Footnote 151: Pennant in his text calls the diameter 88 yards, but
    the scale attached to his plan makes it 110 yards nearly.]

    [Footnote 152: 'Tour in Scotland, 1772,' pl. xxxvii. p. 276.]

    [Footnote 153: Near Lochmaben, in Annandale, a circle exists, or
    existed, called Wood Castle, which, in so far as the plan and
    dimensions are concerned, is identical with this. It is figured in
    General Roy's 'Military Antiquities of the Romans,' pl. viii. I
    would not hesitate in quoting it as a monument of this class, but
    for the view which I distrust excessively, but which makes it look
    like a fortification. As I have no means of verifying the facts, I
    can only draw attention to them.]

    [Footnote 154: 'Iter Boreale,' p. 42.]

    [Footnote 155: 'Brit.,' Gough edit. iii. p. 401.]

    [Footnote 156: 'Archæological Journal,' xviii. p. 29.]

    [Footnote 157: _Ibid._, xviii. p. 37.]

    [Footnote 158: I am not aware that any account of these diggings
    has been published. The facts I ascertained on the spot.]

    [Footnote 159: Here, again, I quote from the copy in the 'Mon.
    Hist. Brit.' p. 47 _et seq._, to which it will not be necessary to
    refer every time the name is mentioned.]

    [Footnote 160: Stuart Glennie, 'King Arthur.' 1867. L. W. Skene.
    'Ancient Books of Wales,' i. 52 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 161: 'Mon. Hist. Brit.' p. 73.]

    [Footnote 162: General Roy's 'Mil. Ant. of the Romans,' pl. viii.]

    [Footnote 163: Bateman, 'Ten Years' Diggings,' p. 87.]

    [Footnote 164: I have not seen this circle myself, though I made
    a long journey on purpose. It is said to consist of eighty-eight
    stones, and one larger than the rest, standing outside the circle,
    at a distance of about five yards, or exactly as Long Meg stands
    with reference to her daughters.]

    [Footnote 165: First described in the 'Archæologia,' vol. viii. p.
    131 _et seq._, by the Rev. S. Pegge, in 1783.]

    [Footnote 166: These dimensions, as well as the plan, are taken
    from Sir Gardner Wilkinson's paper in the 'Journal of the
    Archæological Association,' xvi. p. 116, and may consequently be
    thoroughly depended upon.]

    [Footnote 167: Bateman, 'Vestiges,' p. 65.]

    [Footnote 168: These dimensions are taken from Sir Gardner
    Wilkinson's plan. The Batemans, with all their merits, are
    singularly careless in quoting dimensions.]

    [Footnote 169: _Ante_, p. 11.]

    [Footnote 170: Douglas, 'Nenia Brittanica,' p. 168, pl. xxxv.]

    [Footnote 171: If we knew its height we might guess its age. If
    it was 65 feet high, its angle must be 30 degrees, and its age
    probably the same as that of Silbury Hill. If 100 feet, and its
    angle above 40 degrees, it must have been older.]

    [Footnote 172: 'Ten Years' Diggings,' p. 82.]

    [Footnote 173: 'Petrie's Life,' by Stokes, p. 234.]

    [Footnote 174: The complete disappearance of the body of this
    undoubted Saxon chief ought to make us cautious in ascribing remote
    antiquity to many comparatively fresh bodies we find elsewhere.]

    [Footnote 175: Bateman, 'Ten Years' Diggings,' p. 21.]

    [Footnote 176: "In 1723 the workmen dug up the body of a great
    king buried there in the centre, a very little below the surface.
    The bones were extremely rotten, and, six weeks after, I came
    luckily to rescue a great curiosity which they took out there--an
    iron chain, as they called it. It was the bridle buried along
    with the monarch. There were deer horns and an iron knife, with
    a bone handle, too, all excessively rotten, taken up along with
    it."--Stukeley's 'Stonehenge and Avebury,' pp. 41-12. The bridle is
    figured, pl. xxxvi.]

    [Footnote 177: Douglas, 'Nenia Brit.' p. 168.]

    [Footnote 178: Nothing can exceed the effrontery with which
    Stukeley inserted curved avenues between these circles, so as to
    make the whole into a serpent form. Nothing of the kind exists,
    nor existed in 1826, when Mr. Croker made, for Sir R. C. Hoare,
    the survey from which the woodcut is copied, with Sir Gardner
    Wilkinson's corrections.]

    [Footnote 179: 'Archæologia,' xxv. p. 189.]

    [Footnote 180: What is the meaning of the word "Maes"? It is
    singular that the Maes How, in Orkney, should bear the same
    relative position to the Standing Stones of Stennis, in Orkney,
    that Maes Knoll does to the group of circles. I do not know of the
    name occurring anywhere else. According to the dictionaries, it
    merely means "plain" or "field." In Irish "Magh" pronounced "Moy;"
    but that can hardly be the meaning here.]

    [Footnote 181: 'Archæologia,' x. pl. xi. p. 106.]

    [Footnote 182: It probably may have been a piece of iron pyrites,
    and may have been used for striking a light.]

    [Footnote 183: 'Archæologia Cambriensis,' third series, vol. xii.
    p. 54. A fancy plan of the same circle appears in the same volume,
    but is utterly untrustworthy. It is reproduced by Waring, 'Mon.'
    &c. pl. xli.]

    [Footnote 184: 'Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries,' iii. p.

    [Footnote 185: The Hon. W. C. Stanley enumerates by name
    twenty-four in Anglesea.--'Archæologia Cambrensis,' fourth series,
    vol. i. p. 58.]

    [Footnote 186: Tacitus, 'Vita Agricolæ,' chap. v.]

    [Footnote 187: 'Somerset Archæo. Soc. Proceedings,' viii. p. 51.]

    [Footnote 188: 'Archæologia,' xix. p. 43 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 189: 'Journal of the Ethnological Society,' January,
    1871, p. 416.]

    [Footnote 190: Vol. xi. p. 315 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 191: 'Pro. Soc. Ant.,' second series, ii. 275. Thurnam,
    'Archæologia,' xlii. 217.]

    [Footnote 192: 'Archæologia,' xix. p. 43.]

    [Footnote 193: 'Archæologia Cambrensis,' fourth series vol. i. p.
    51 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 194: For Rodmarton, see 'Proceedings Soc. Ant.' _l. s.
    c._; for Cornish, see paper by M. Brash, 'Gent. Mag.,' 1864.]

    [Footnote 195: 'Archæologia Cambrensis,' third series, xi. p. 284.]

    [Footnote 196: The following particulars are taken from a paper by
    Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson, in the first volume, fourth series, of
    the 'Archæologia Cambrensis,' 1870. It is not only the last, but
    the best description which I know, and, being from the pen of so
    accurate an observer, I have relied on it exclusively.]

    [Footnote 197: 'Ten Years' Diggings,' p. 87.]

    [Footnote 198: Dare one suggest Gower?]

    [Footnote 199: Is this the same word as "Cotty," as applied to
    Kit's Cotty-house, in Kent? It looks very like it.--Coity?]

    [Footnote 200: Herbert, 'Cyclops Christianus,' p. 35.]




It is probable, after all, that it is from the Irish annals that the
greatest amount of light will be thrown on the history and uses of
the Megalithic monuments. Indeed, had not Lord Melbourne's Ministry
in 1839, in a fit of ill-timed parsimony, abolished the Historical
Commission attached to the Irish Ordnance Survey, we should not now
be groping in the dark. Had they even retained the services of Dr.
Petrie till the time of his death, he would have left very little to
be desired in this respect. But nothing of the sort was done. The
fiat went forth. All the documents and information collected during
fourteen years' labour by a most competent staff of explorers were cast
aside--all the members dismissed on the shortest possible notice, and
our knowledge of the ancient history and antiquities of Ireland thrown
back half a century, at least.[201]

Meanwhile, however, a certain number of the best works of the Irish
annalists have been carefully translated and edited by John O'Donovan
and others, and are sufficient to enable any one not acquainted with
Irish to check the wild speculations of antiquaries of the Vallancy
and O'Brien class, and also to form an opinion on the value of the
annals themselves, though hardly yet sufficient to enable a stranger
to construct a reliable scheme of chronology or history out of the
heterogeneous materials presented to him. We must wait till some second
Petrie shall arise, who shall possess a sufficient knowledge of the
Irish language and literature, without losing his Saxon coolness of
judgment, before we can hope to possess a reliable and consecutive
account of ancient Ireland.

When this is done, it will probably be found that the Irish possess a
more copious literature, illustrative of the eocene period of their
early history, than almost any other country of Europe. Ireland may
also boast that, never having been conquered by the Romans, she
retained her native forms, and the people their native customs and
fashions, uninterrupted and uninfluenced by Roman civilization, for a
longer time than the other countries of Europe which were subjected to
its sway.

As most important and instructive parts of the Irish annals, it is
proposed first to treat of those passages descriptive of the two
battles of Moytura[202] (Magh Tuireadh), both of which occurred
within a period of a very few years. A description of the fields on
which they were fought will probably be sufficient to set at rest the
question as to the uses of cairns and circles; and if we can arrive at
an approximative date, it will go far to clear up the difficulties in
understanding the age of the most important Irish antiquities.

The narrative which contains an account of the battle of Southern
Moytura, or Moytura Cong, is well known to Irish antiquaries. It
has not yet been published, but a translation from a MS. in Trinity
College, Dublin, was made by John O'Donovan for the Ordnance Survey,
and was obtained from their records above alluded to by Sir William
Wilde. He went over the battle-field repeatedly with the MS. in his
hand, and has published a detailed account of it, with sufficient
extracts to make the whole intelligible.[203] The story is briefly
this:--At a certain period of Irish history a colony of Firbolgs, or
Belgæ, as they are usually called by Irish antiquaries, settled in
Ireland, dispossessing the Fomorians, who are said to have come from
Africa. After possessing the country for thirty-seven years, they
were in their turn attacked by a colony of Tuatha de Dananns coming
from the north, said to be of the same race and speaking a tongue
mutually intelligible. On hearing of the arrival of these strangers,
the Firbolgs advanced from the plains of Meath as far as Cong, situated
between Lough Corrib and Lough Mask, where the first battle was fought,
and, after being fiercely contested for four days, was decided in
favour of the invaders.[204]

The second battle was fought seven years afterwards, near Sligo, under
circumstances which will be detailed more fully below, and resulted
equally in favour of the Tuatha de Dananns, and they in consequence
obtained possession of the country, which, according to the Four
Masters, they held for 197 years.[205]

[Illustration: 54. Circle on Battle-field of Southern Moytura. From Sir
W. Wilde.]

[Illustration: 55. Cairn on Battle-field of Southern Moytura.]

The field on which the four-days' battle of Southern Moytura was fought
extends from five to six miles north and south. Near the centre of the
space, and nearly opposite the village of Cong, is a group of five
stone circles, one of which, 54 feet in diameter, is represented in
the annexed woodcut (No. 54). Another, very similar, is close by; and
a third, larger but partially ruined, is within a few yards of the
first. The other two can only now be traced, and two more are said to
have existed close by, but have entirely disappeared. On other parts of
the battle-field there are six or seven large cairns of stone, all of
them more or less ruined, the stones having been used to build dykes,
with which every field is surrounded in this country; but none of them
have been scientifically explored. One is represented (woodcut No. 55).
Sir W. Wilde has identified all of these as connected with incidents
in the battle, and there seems no reason to doubt his conclusions. The
most interesting, however, is one connected with an incident in the
battle, which is worth relating, as illustrating the manner in which
the monuments corroborate the history. On the morning of the second day
of the battle, King Eochy retired to a well to refresh himself with
a bath, when three of his enemies looking down, recognised him and
demanded his surrender. While he was parleying with them, they were
attacked by his servant and killed; but the servant died immediately
afterwards of his wounds, and, as the story goes, was interred with
all honours in a cairn close by. In the narrative it is said that the
well where the king had so narrow an escape is the only open one in
the neighbourhood. It is so to the present day; for the peculiarity of
the country is, that the waters from Lough Mask do not flow into Lough
Corrib by channels on the surface, but entirely through chasms in the
rock underground, and it is only when a crack in the rock opens into
one of these that the water is accessible. The well in question is the
only one of these for some distance in which the water is approached
by steps partly cut in the rock, partly constructed. Close by is a
cairn (woodcut No. 56), called to this day the "Cairn of the One Man."
It was opened by Sir W. Wilde, and in its chamber was found one urn,
which is now deposited in the Museum of the Royal Academy at Dublin,
the excavation thus confirming the narrative in the most satisfactory

[Illustration: 56. The Cairn of the "One Man," Moytura.]

[Illustration: 57. Urn in the Cairn of the "One Man," Moytura.]

"The battle took place on Midsummer day. The Firbolgs were defeated
with great slaughter, and their king, who left the battle-field
with a body-guard of 100 brave men in search of water to allay his
burning thirst, was followed by a party of 150 men, led by the three
sons of Nemedh, who pursued him all the way to the strand, called
Traigh Eothaile, near Ballysadare, in the county of Sligo. Here a
fierce combat ensued, and King Eochy (Eochaidh) fell, as well as the
leaders on the other side, the three sons of Nemedh."[206] A cairn is
still pointed out on a promontory jutting into the bay, about a mile
north-west of the village of Ballysadare, which is said to have been
erected over the remains of the king, and bones are also said to have
been found between high and low water on the strand beneath, supposed
to be those of the combatants who fell in the final struggle. It may
be otherwise, but there is a consistency between the narrative and the
monuments on the spot which can hardly be accidental, and which it will
be very difficult to explain except in the assumption that they refer
to the same events.

In fact, it would be difficult to conceive anything more satisfactory
and confirmatory of the record than the monuments on the plain; and no
one, I fancy, could go over the field with Sir William's book in his
hand, without feeling the importance of his identifications. Of course
it may be suggested that the book was written by some one familiar with
the spot, to suit the localities. The probability, however, of this
having been done before the ninth century, and done so soberly and so
well, is very remote, and the guess that but one urn would be found
in the cairn of the "One Man," is a greater piece of luck than could
reasonably be expected. Even, however, if the book was written to suit
the localities, it will not invalidate the fact that a great battle was
fought on this spot, and that these cairns and these circles mark the
graves of those who fell in the fight.

The collection of monuments on the battle-field of Northern Moytura is
even more interesting than that on Moytura Cong, and almost justified
the assertion of Petrie "that, excepting the monuments at Carnac,
in Brittany, it is, even in its present state of ruin, the largest
assemblage of the kind hitherto discovered in the world."[207] They
have also this advantage, that the principal group, consisting of some
sixty or seventy monuments, are situated on an elevated table-land, and
in an area extending not more than a mile in one direction, and about
half a mile in another. The country, too, is much less stony than about
Cong, so that the monuments stand out better and have a more imposing
look. Petrie examined and described sixty-four monuments as situated in
or around this space, and came to the conclusion that originally there
could not have been less than 200.[208] My impression is that there
may have been 100, but hardly more, though, of course, this is only a
guess, and the destruction of them is going on so rapidly that he may
be right after all.

In the space above described almost every variety of Megalithic
art is to be found. There are stone cairns, with dolmens in their
interiors--dolmens standing alone, but which have been evidently always
exposed; dolmens with single circles; others with two or three circles
of stones around them; and circles without dolmens or anything else in
the centres. The only form we miss is the avenue. Nothing of the sort
can now, at least, be traced, nor does it seem that any of the circles
possessed such appendages.

[Illustration: 58. Battle-field of Northern Moytura.

Scale 6 inches to 1 mile.]

The annexed woodcut (No. 58) will explain the disposition of the
principal group. It is taken from the Ordnance Survey, and is perfectly
correct as far as it goes, but being only on the 6-inch scale, is
too small to show the form of the monuments.[209] In the centre is,
or rather was, a great cairn, called Listoghil. It is marked by
Petrie as No. 51, but having for years been used as a quarry for the
neighbourhood, it is now so mined that it is difficult to make out
either its plan or dimensions. Petrie says it is 150 feet in diameter;
I made it 120. It was surrounded by a circle of great stones, within
which was the cairn, originally, probably, 40 or 50 feet high. All this
has been removed to such an extent as to expose the kistvaen or dolmen
in its centre. Its cap stone is 10 feet square and 2 feet thick, and is
of limestone, as are its supports. All the other monuments are composed
of granite boulders. "Those who first opened it assert that they found
nothing within but burnt wood and human bones. The half-calcined bones
of horses and other animals were and are still found in this cairn in
great quantities" (Petrie, p. 250). In a note it is said that a large
spear-head of stone (flint?) was also found in this cairn.

[Illustration: 59. Sketch-plan of Circle 27, Northern Moytura.]

The annexed woodcut (No. 59) will give an idea of the general
disposition of a circle numbered 27 by Petrie.[210] It is of about the
medium size, being 60 feet in diameter. The general dimensions of the
circles are 40, 60, 80, and one (No. 46) is 120 feet in diameter. The
outer circle of No. 27 is composed of large stones, averaging 6 feet in
height, and some 20 feet in circumference. Inside this is a circle of
smaller stones, nearly obliterated by the turf, and in the centre is a
three-chambered dolmen, of which fifteen stones still remain; but all
the cap stones, except that of the central inner chamber, are gone, and
that now stands on its edge in front of its support.

The general appearance of this circle will be understood from the
annexed view (woodcut No. 60), taken from a photograph. It does not,
however, do justice to its appearance, as the camera was placed too low
and does not look into the circle, as the eye does. In the distance is
seen the hill, called Knock na Rea, surmounted by the so-called Cairn
of Queen Meave, of which more hereafter.

[Illustration: 60. View of Circle 27, Northern Moytura. From a

Another of these circles, No. 7, is thus described by Petrie:--"This
circle, with its cromlech, are perfect. Its diameter is 37 feet, and
the number of stones thirty-two. The cromlech is about 8 feet high, the
table-stone resting on six stones of great magnitude: it is 9 feet long
and 23 feet in circumference." Its general appearance will be seen in
the annexed view from a photograph (woodcut No. 61); though this, as in
the last instance, is far from doing justice to its appearance.[211]

[Illustration: 61. Dolmen, with Circle, No. 7, Northern Moytura. From a

No. 37 is described by Dr. Petrie (p. 248) as a triple circle. The
inner one 40 feet in diameter. The second of twelve large stones,
and of 80 feet, the third as a circle of 120 feet in diameter. "The
cromlech is of the smallest size, not more than 4 feet in height. The
circumference of the stone table is 16 feet, and it rests on five

Excavations were made into almost all these monuments either by Mr.
Walker, the proprietor of the ground, or by Dr. Petrie, and, with
scarcely one exception, they yielded evidence of sepulchral uses.
Either human bones were found or urns containing ashes. No iron,
apparently, was found in any. A bronze sword is said to have been
found, forty years ago, in 63; but generally there was nothing but
implements of bone or stone. At the time Petrie wrote (1837) these
were not valued, or classified, as they have since been; so we cannot
draw any inference from them as to the age of the monuments, and no
collection, that I am aware of, exists in which these "finds" are now
accessible. Indeed, I am afraid that Petrie and those who worked with
him were too little aware of the importance of these material points of
evidence, to be careful either to collect or to describe the contents
of these graves; and as all or nearly all have been opened, that source
of information may be cut off for ever.

Besides these monuments on the battle-field, there are two others,
situated nearly equidistant from it, and which seem to belong to the
same group; one known as the Tomb of Misgan Meave, the celebrated
Queen of Connaught, who lived apparently contemporaneously with Cæsar
Augustus, or rather, as the annalists insist, with Jesus Christ;[212]
though, according to the more accurate Tighernach, her death occurred
in the 7th year of Vespasian, in A.D. 75.[213] It is situated
on the top of a high hill known as Knock na Rea (woodcut No. 60),
at a distance of two miles westward from the battle-field. It was
described by the Rt. Hon. William Burton, in 1779, as an enormous heap
of small stones, and is of an oval figure, 650 feet in circumference
at the base, 79 feet slope on one side and 67 feet on the other. The
area on the top is 100 feet in its longest diameter and 85 feet in
its shortest. When Petrie visited it in 1837, it was only 590 feet in
circumference, and the longest diameter on the top only 80 feet. It
had in the interval, in fact, been used as a quarry; and I have no
doubt but that the flat top originally measured the usual 100 feet,
and was circular. "Around its base," says Petrie, "are the remains
of many sepulchral monuments of lesser importance, consisting of
groups of large stones forming circular or oval enclosures. A careful
excavation within these tombs by Mr. Walker resulted in the discovery
not only of human interments, but also of several rude ornaments and
implements of stone of a similar character to those usually found in
sepulchres of this class in Ireland, and which, being unaccompanied by
any others of a metallic nature, identify this group of monuments as
of contemporaneous age with those of Carrowmore, among which no iron
remains are known to have been discovered, and mark them as belonging
to any period of semi-civilized society in Ireland."[214]

From their situation, it seems hardly possible to doubt that these
smaller tombs are contemporaneous with or subsequent to the Great
Cairn; and if this really were the tomb of Queen Meave, it would throw
some light on our subject. The great cairn has not, however, been dug
into yet; and till that is done the ownership of the tomb cannot be
definitely fixed. There are several reasons, however, for doubting
the tradition. In the first place, we have the direct testimony of a
commentary written by Moelmuiri, that Meave (Meahbh) was buried at
Rathcroghan, which was the proper burying-place of her race; "her body
having been removed by her people from Fert Medhbha; for they deemed it
more honourable to have her interred at Cruachan."[215] As the Book of
the Cemeteries confirms this, there seems no good reason for doubting
the fact, though she may have first been laid in this neighbourhood,
which may have given rise to the tradition.

If, on the other hand, we may trust Beowulf's description of a
warrior's grave, as it was understood in the 5th century, no tomb in
these islands would answer more perfectly to his ideal than the Cairn
on Knock na Rea:--

  "Then wrought
  The people of the Westerns
  A mound over the sea.
  It was high and broad,
  By the sea-faring man
  To be seen afar."

That an Irish queen should be buried on a mountain-top overlooking the
Western Ocean seems most improbable, and is opposed to the evidence we
have; but that a Viking warrior should be so buried, overlooking the
sea and a battle-field, seems natural; but who he may have been is for
future investigators to discover.

The other cairn is situated just two miles eastward from the
battle-field, on an eminence overlooking Loch Gill. It is less in
height than the so-called Queen's Tomb, but the top is nearly perfect,
and has a curious saucer-like depression, as nearly as can be measured,
100 feet in diameter. It has never been dug into, nor, so far as I
could learn, does any tradition attach to it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The history of the Battle of Northern Moytura, as told in the Irish
Annals, is briefly as follows:[216]--

Nuada, who was king of the Tuatha de Dananns when the battle of
Southern Moytura was fought, lost his arm in the fight. This, however,
some skilled artificers whom he had with him skilfully replaced by one
made of silver; so that he was always afterwards known as Nuada of
the Silver Hand. Whether from this cause or some other not explained,
he resigned the chief sovereignty to Breas, who, though a Fomorian by
birth, held a chief command in the Tuatha de Danann army. Owing to
his penurious habits and domineering disposition, Breas soon rendered
himself very unpopular with the nobles of his Court; and, at a time
when the discontent was at its height, a certain poet and satirist,
Cairbré, the son of the poetess Etan, arrived at his Court. He was
treated by the king in so shabby a manner and with such disrespect,
that he left it in disgust; but, before doing so, he wrote and
published so stinging a satire against the king, as to set the blood
of the nobles boiling with indignation, and they insisted on his
resigning the power he had held for seven years. "To this call the
regent reluctantly acceded; and, having held a council with his mother,
they both determined to retire to the Court of his father Elatha,
at this time the great chief of Fomorian pirates, or Sea Kings, who
then swarmed through all the German Ocean and ruled over the Shetland
Islands and the Hebrides."

Elatha agreed to provide his son with a fleet to conquer Ireland for
himself from the Tuatha de Danann, if he could; and for this purpose
collected all the men and ships lying from Scandinavia westwards for
the intended invasion, the chief command being entrusted to Balor of
the Evil Eye, conjointly with Breas. Having landed near Sligo, they
pitched their tents on the spot--Carrowmore--where the battle was
afterwards fought.

Here they were attacked by Nuada of the Silver Hand, accompanied by the
great Daghda, who had taken a prominent part in the previous battle,
and other chiefs of note. The battle took place on the last day of
October, and is eloquently described. The Fomorians were defeated, and
their chief men killed. King Nuada was slain by Balor of the Evil Eye,
but Balor himself fell soon after by a stone flung at him by Lug his
grandson by his daughter Eithlenn.

After an interval of forty years, according to the 'Annals of the Four
Masters,' the Daghda succeeded to the vacant throne, and reigned eighty

From the above abstract--all the important passages of which are in the
exact words of the translation--it is evident that the author of the
tract considered the Fomorians and the Tuatha de Danann as the same
people, or at least as two tribes of the same race, the chiefs of which
were closely united to one another by intermarriage. He also identifies
them with the Scandinavian Vikings, who played so important a part in
Irish history down to the Battle of Clontarf, which happened in 1014.

This may at first sight seem very improbable. We must not, however,
forget the celebrated lines of Claudian:[218] "Maduerunt Saxone fuso
Orcades: incaluit Pictorum sanguine Thule: Scotorum cumulos flevit
glacialis Ierne." This, it may be said, was written three or even four
centuries after the events of which we are now speaking; but it was
also written five centuries before the Northmen are generally supposed
to have occupied the Orkneys or to have interfered in the affairs of
Ireland, and does point to an earlier state of affairs, though how much
anterior to the poet's time there is nothing to show.

It has been frequently proposed to identify the Dananns with the Danes,
from the similarity of their names. Till I visited Sligo, I confess
I always looked on this as one of those random guesses from identity
of mere sound which are generally very deceptive in investigations of
this sort. The monuments, however, on the battle-field correspond so
nearly to those figured by Madsen in his 'Antiquités préhistoriques
du Danemark,'[219] and their disposition is so similar to that of the
Braavalla feld[220] and other battle-fields in Scandinavia, that it
will now require very strong evidence to the contrary to disprove an
obvious and intimate connection between them.

In concluding his account of the battle, Mr. O'Curry adds: "Cormac Mac
Cullinan, in his celebrated Glossary, quotes this tract in illustration
of the word _Nes_; so that so early as the ninth century it was looked
upon by him as a very ancient historic composition of authority."[221]
If this is so, there seems no good reason for doubting his having
spoken of events and things perfectly within his competence, and so we
may consider the account above given as historical till at least some
good cause is shown to the contrary.

       *       *       *       *       *

It now only remains to try and find out if any means exist by which the
dates of these two battles of Moytura can be fixed with anything like
certainty. If we turn to the 'Annals of the Four Masters,' which is the
favourite authority with Irish antiquaries, we get a startling answer
at once. The battle of Moytura Cong, according to them, took place in
the year of the world 3303, and the second battle twenty-seven years
afterwards.[222] The twenty is a gratuitous interpolation. This is
equivalent to 1896 and 1869 years before Christ. Alphabetical writing
was not, as we shall presently see, introduced into Ireland till after
the Christian Era, the idea therefore that the details of these two
battles should have been preserved orally during 2000 years, and all
the intermediate events forgotten, is simply ridiculous. The truth of
the matter seems to be that the 'Four Masters,' like truly patriotic
Irishmen in the middle of the seventeenth century, thought it necessary
for the honour of their country to carry back its history to the Flood
at least. As the country at the time of the Tuatha de Dananns was
divided into five kingdoms,[223] and at other times into twenty-five,
they had an abundance of names of chiefs at their disposal, and instead
of treating them as cotemporary, they wrote them out consecutively,
till they reached back to Ceasair--not Julius--but a granddaughter
of Noah, who came to Ireland forty days before the Flood, with fifty
girls and three men, who consequently escaped the fate of the rest of
mankind, and peopled the western isle. This is silly enough, but their
treatment of the hero of Moytura is almost as much so. Allowing that
he was thirty years of age when he took so prominent a part in the
second battle, in 3330, he must have been seventy-one when he ascended
the Irish throne, and, after a reign of seventy-nine years, have died
at the ripe old age of 150, from the effects of a poisoned wound he
had received 120 years previously. The 'Four Masters' say eighty
years earlier, but this is only another of their thousand and one

When we turn from these to the far more authentic annals of Tighernach,
who died 1088 A.D., we are met at once by his often quoted
dictum to the effect that "omnia Monumenta Scotorum usque Cimboeth
incerta erant."[224] It would have been more satisfactory if he could
have added that after that time they could be depended upon, but
this seems by no means to have been the case. As, however, Cimboeth
is reported to have founded Armagh, in the year 289 B.C.,
it gives us a limit beyond which we cannot certainly proceed without
danger and difficulty. We get on surer ground when we reach the reign
of Crimthann, who, according to Tighernach, died in the year of our
era 85, after a reign of 16 years.[225] The 'Four Masters,' it is true,
make him contemporary with Christ; but even Dr. O'Donovan is obliged
to confess that all these earlier reigns, after the Christian era,
are antedated to about the same extent.[226] Unfortunately for our
purpose, however, Tighernach's early annals are almost wholly devoted
to the chronicles of the kings of Emania or Armagh, and it is only
incidentally that he names the kings of Tara, which was the capital
both of the Firbolgs and Tuatha de Dananns, and he makes no allusion to
the battles of Moytura. Though our annalist, therefore, to a certain
extent deserts us here, there are incidental notices of the Daghda
and his friends in Irish manuscripts referring to other subjects,
which seem sufficient to settle the question. The best of these were
collected together for another purpose by Petrie, in his celebrated
work on the Round Towers, and, as they are easily accessible there, it
will not be necessary to quote them in extenso, but merely the passages
bearing directly on our subject.[227]

The first extract is from a very celebrated work known as the 'Leabhar
na l'Uidhre,' written apparently before 1106, which is given by the
'Four Masters' as the date of the author's death. Speaking of Cormac,
the son of Art and grandson of Conn of a Hundred Battles:--"Before his
death, which happened in 267, he told his people not to bury him at
Brugh, on the Boyne, where the kings of Tara, his predecessors, were
buried, because he did not adore stones and trees, and did not worship
the same god as those interred at Brugh, for he had faith," adds the
monkish chronicler, "in the one true God according to the law."

The tract then goes on to say that "the kings of the race of Heremon
were buried at Cruachan until the times of Crimthann, who was the first
king of them that was buried in Brugh." The others, including Queen
Meave, were buried at Cruachan, because they possessed Connaught.
"But they were interred at Brugh from the time of Crimthann to the
time of Leoghaire, the son of Niall (A.D. 428), except three
persons, namely Art the son of Conn, and Cormac the son of Art, and
Niall of the Nine Hostages." A little further on we have the following
paragraph:--"(101.) The nobles of the Tuatha de Danann were used
to bury at Brugh, _i.e._, the Dagdha with his three sons, and also
Lughaidh and Oe, and Ollam and Ogma, and Etan the poetess, and Corpre
the son of Etan, and Crimthann followed them because his wife was one
of the Tuatha Dea, and it was she that solicited him that he should
adopt Brugh as a burying-place for himself and his descendants."

In the 'Book of Ballymote' (p. 102) it is said, "Of the monument of
Brugh here, viz., The Bed of daughter of Forann. The monument of the
Daghda. The mound of the Morrigan. The Barc of Crimthann in which he
was interred. The Carnail (stone cairn) of Conn of a Hundred Battles,"
&c. In a second passage we recognise the following names rather
more in detail: "The Bed of the Dagdha first, the two paps of the
Morrigan, at the place where Cermud Milbhel, the son of the Dagdha
was born[228]--(the monuments of) Cirr and Cuirrell wives of the
Dagdha--there are two hillocks; the grave of Aedh Luirgnech, son of the
Dagdha." Again, in a prose commentary on a poem which Petrie quotes, we
have the following apparently by Moelmuori. "The chiefs of Ulster before
Conchobar (he is said to have died 33[229]) were buried at Talten....
The nobles of the Tuatha de Dananns, with the exception of seven who
were interred at Talten, were buried in Brugh, _i.e._, Lugh and Oe, son
of Ollamh and Ogma, and Carpre the son of Etan, and Etan (the poetess
herself), and the Daghda and her three sons, and a great many others
`of the Tuatha de Danann, Firbolgs, and others."

There is no doubt but that many similar passages to these might be
found in Irish MSS., if looked for by competent scholars, but these
extracts probably are sufficient to prove two things. First, that
the celebrated cemetery at Brugh, on the Boyne, six miles west from
Drogheda, was the burying-place of the kings of Tara from Crimthann
(A.D. 84) till the time of St. Patrick (A.D. 432), and that it was
also the burying-place of all those who were concerned--without being
killed--in the battles of Moytura. We are not, unfortunately, able to
identify the grave of each of these heroes, though it may be because
only one has been properly explored, that called New Grange, and that
had been rifled before the first modern explorers in the seventeenth
century found out the entrance. The Hill of Dowth has only partially
been opened. The great cairn of Knowth is untouched, so is the great
cairn known as the Tomb of the Dagdha. Excavations alone can prove
their absolute identity; but this at least is certain, we have on the
banks of the Boyne a group of monuments similar in external appearance
at least with those on the two Moytura battle-fields, and the date of
the greater number of those at Brugh is certainly subsequent to the
Christian era.[230]

The second point is not capable of such direct proof, but seems equally
clear. It is that the kings of the race of Crimthann immediately
succeeded to the kings of the Tuatha de Danann, who fought at Moytura.
If, indeed, we could trust the assertion that Crimthann was the first
king that was buried at Brugh, we should be obliged to find a place for
the Daghda under some pseudonym afterwards, and it is possible that
may be the case,[231] but for the present it seems more reasonable to
assume that he preceded him at a very short interval.

According to the 'Four Masters,' the Tuatha de Danann had been extinct
for nearly 2000 years when we find Crimthann marrying a princess of
that race, and one of sufficient influence to induce him to adopt what
appears literally to have been the family burying-place of the Dagdha
for that of himself and his race; and it seems impossible to believe
that when this took place it could have been old, or neglected, or

According to the 'Four Masters,' the Firbolgs reigned thirty-seven
years only, so that they do not in this case seem to err on the side of
exaggeration, and the Tuatha de Danann 196 years. From this, however,
we must deduct the twenty years they unnecessarily interpolated between
the two battles, and we must take something from the eighty years the
Dagdha reigned after he was ninety-one years of age. If we allow, then,
a century, it will place the battles of Moytura 20 to 30 B.C.,
and the arrival of the Firbolgs about the middle of the first century
B.C. This, with a small limit of error either way is, I am
convinced, pretty nearly the true date of these events.[232]

If we turn to the celebrated Hill of Tara, about ten miles off, where
those resided who were buried at Brugh-na-Boinne, we find a great deal
to confirm the views expressed above. When Petrie was attached to the
Ordnance Survey, he had a very careful plan made of the remains on that
hill, and compiled a most elaborate memoir regarding them, which was
published in the eighteenth volume of the 'Transactions of the Royal
Irish Academy.' It concludes with these words (p. 231): "From the
historical allusions deduced it will be seen that, with the exception
of the few last described,[233] they are all nearly contemporaneous
and belong to the third century of the Christian era. The era of the
original Tuatha de Danann Cathair belongs to the remote period of
uncertain tradition. The only other monuments of ascertained date are
those of Conor Mac Nessa and Cuchullim, both of whom flourished in the
first century. These facts are sufficient to prove that before the
time of Cormac Mac Art,[234] Tara had attained to no distinguished

[Illustration: 62. Rath na Riogh, or, Cathair of Cormac, at Tara.]

The only difficulty in this passage is the allusion to the Tuatha de
Danann. At the time Petrie wrote it he, like most Irish antiquaries,
had been unable to emancipate himself from the spell of the 'Four
Masters,' and, struck by the pains they had taken, and the general
correctness of their annals after the Christian era, had adopted their
pre-Christian chronology almost without question. The Cathair here
alluded to is only an undistinguishable part of the Rath of Cormac,
to which tradition attaches that name, but neither in plan, nor
materials, nor construction can be separated from it. That the Dananns
had a Cathair on this hill is more than probable if, as I suppose,
they immediately preceded the Crimthann dynasty, who certainly resided
here. It may also well be that they occupied this site, which is the
highest on the hill, and that their palace was afterwards enlarged by
Cormac. The plan of it is worth referring to (woodcut No. 62), from its
curious resemblance to that of Avebury; what was here done in earth was
afterwards done in stone in Wiltshire, and it seems as if, as is so
often the case, the house of the dead was copied from the dwelling of
the living.

The Dagdha had apparently no residence here. From the context I would
infer that he resided in the great Rath, about 300 feet diameter, at
Dowth, where his son, apparently, was born, and near to which, as above
shown, he also was buried. If, however, he had no residence on the
Royal hill, his so-called spit was one of the most celebrated pieces of
furniture of the palace. It was a most elaborate piece of ironmongery,
and performed a variety of cooking operations in a very astonishing
manner, and shows, at all events, that the smith who made it had no
little skill in the working of iron, of which metal it was principally

The Rath of Leoghaire (429-458 A.D.) is interesting to us,
not only as the last erected here, but from the circumstances of its
builder being buried in its ramparts. It seems that, in spite of all
the preaching and persuasions of St. Patrick, who was his contemporary,
Leoghaire refused to be converted to the Christian religion; but like
a grand old Pagan, he ordered that he should be buried standing in his
armour in the rampart of his Rath, and facing the country of the foes
with whom he had contended during life. That this was done is as well
authenticated as any incident of the time, perhaps even better;[236]
and I cannot help fancying from the appearance of the Raths, that some
others of the kings were interred here also. Be that as it may, this
circumstance ought to prevent our feeling any surprise at the actual
discovery of the skeleton of a man under the rampart at Marden (_ante_
p. 86), or if human bones were still found under the vallum at Avebury,
in spite of the negative evidence of the partial explorations of the
Wiltshire Archæological Society.

There is still another point of view from which this question may be
regarded, so as to throw some light on the main issue of the age of
the monuments in question. If we can ascertain when the art of writing
was first practised in Ireland, we may obtain an approximate date
before which no detailed history of any events could be expected to
exist. Now all the best antiquaries of Ireland are agreed that no
alphabetic writing was used in Ireland before the reign of Cormac Mac
Art, A.D. 218-266. There seems to be evidence that, as above
mentioned, he was converted to Christianity by some Romish priest; and
though it is unlikely that he himself acquired the art of writing, he
seems to have caused certain tracts to be compiled. None of these, it
is true, now exist, but they are referred to and quoted from an ancient
Irish MS. in a manner that leaves little doubt that some books were
written in Ireland in the third century, but almost certainly there
were none before that time. It is true, however, that Eugene O'Curry
pleads hard for some kind of Ogham writing having existed in Ireland
before that time, and even before the Christian era.[237] But though
we may admit the former proposition, the evidence of the latter is of
the most unsatisfactory description. Even, however, if it could be
established it would prove very little. It would be as difficult to
write a connected history in Ogham as it would be in Exchequer tallies,
and so far as is known, it never was attempted. The utmost Ogham
ever did, or could do, was to record genealogies; and such detailed
histories as we possess of the Moytura battles are quite beyond its
powers. On the other hand, Mr. O'Curry's own account of Senchan's
difficulties in obtaining copies of the celebrated 'Táin Bó Chuailgne,'
or 'Cattle Spoil of Cooley,' after the year 598, shows how little the
art was then practised. No copy of this poem, which contains the life
and adventures of Queen Meave, in the first century, then existed in
Ireland. A mission was consequently sent to Italy to copy one said
to have existed there, and though the missionaries were miraculously
spared the journey,[238] the inference is the same, that no written
copy of their most celebrated work existed in Ireland in the year 600.

Petrie is equally clear on the subject. In his history of Tara
he states that the Irish were unacquainted with letters till the
introduction of Christianity in the fifth century, with the doubtful
exception of the writings ascribed to Cormac Mac Art. He consequently
believes that the authentic history of Ireland commences only with
Tuathal, A.D. 130, 160, in which he is probably correct.[239]

But here the question arises--Before the introduction of writing into
a country, how long could so detailed a narrative as that which we
possess of the Battles of Moytura, and one so capable of being verified
by material evidences on the spot, be handed down orally as a plain
prose narrative? Among so rude a people as the Irish avowedly then
were, would this period be one century or two, or how many? Every
one must decide for himself. I do not know an instance of any rude
people preserving orally any such detailed history for a couple of
centuries. With me the great difficulty is to understand how the memory
of the battles was so perfectly preserved, assuming them to have taken
place so long ago as the first century B.C. As it is not
pretended that the narratives were reduced to writing so early as the
time of Cormac, I should, from their internal evidence, be much more
inclined to assume that the battles must have taken place one or two
centuries after the birth of Christ. At all events, it seems absolutely
impossible that the date of these battles can be so remote as the Four
Masters place them, or even as some Irish antiquaries seem inclined to

The truth of the matter appears to be that, in the Eocene period
of Irish history or in the one or two centuries that preceded the
introduction of writing, we have a whole group of names so inextricably
mixed together that it is impossible to separate them. We have the
Dagdha and his wives and their sons. We have Etan the poetess and her
ill-conditioned son. There is Queen Meave of the Cattle Raid, and her
husband Conchobhar McNessa. There is Cumbhail, the Fingal of Macpherson
and Cuchullin; and then such semi-historical persons as Tuathal the
Accepted, and Conn of a Hundred Battles. All these lived almost
together in one capital, and were buried in one cemetery, and form a
half-historic, half-mythic group, such as generally precedes written
history in most parts of the world. Many of their dates are known
with fairly approximate certainty, whilst that of others cannot be
fixed. There seems, however, enough to justify us in almost positively
affirming that the Battle of Moytura, which raised the Dagdha to
fame, happened within the fifty years that preceded or the fifty that
followed the birth of Christ. My own impression is in favour of the
former as the more probable date.

To some this may appear an over-laboured disquisition to prove an
insignificant point. It is not, however, one-tenth part of what might
be advanced on the subject from translated and printed documents, and,
certainly, it would be difficult to exaggerate its importance with
reference to the subject matter of this work. If the two groups of
monuments at Cong and Carrowmore can be proved to be the monuments of
those who fell in the two battles of Southern and Northern Moytura,
we have made an immense step towards a knowledge of the use of these
monuments; and if it can be shown that they date from about the
Christian Era, we gain not only a standpoint for settling the age
of all other Irish antiquities, but a base for our reasoning with
reference to similar remains in other countries.

No Irish antiquary, nor indeed of any other country, so far as I know,
has ventured to hint a doubt that they mark the battle-fields. Nor, in
the present state of the evidence, do I see any reason for questioning
the fact; and, for the present at least, we may assume it as granted.
The second proposition is more open to question. Irish antiquaries
generally will dissent from so serious a reduction in the antiquity of
these two great battles. But, after the most earnest attention I have
been able to give to all that has been written and said on the subject
and a careful comparison of the monuments on these fields with those
of other countries, I would, on the whole, be inclined to bring them
forward a century or two, if I could find a gap to throw them into,
rather than date them earlier. They look older and more tentative than
the English circles described in the last chapter, but not so much
so as to lead us to expect a difference of four or five centuries.
On the other hand, they are so like those on the Bravalla field, and
other monuments in Scandinavia, to be described hereafter, that it is
puzzling to think that seven or ten centuries elapsed between them.
But, taking all the circumstances of the case into consideration,
the conclusions above arrived at appear fair and reasonable, and in
conformity, not only to what was said in the last chapter, but to the
facts about to be adduced in the following pages.


Although Irish antiquaries have succeeded in identifying the localities
of a considerable number of the thousand and one battles which, as
might be expected, adorn at every page the annals of a Celtic race;
yet, as none of these are described as marked with circles or cairns,
like those found on the two battle-fields of Moytura, they are of
no use for our present purpose, and our further illustrations must
be drawn from the peaceful burying-places of the Irish, which are,
however, of singular interest.

In the history of the Cemeteries, eight are enumerated;[240] but
of these only the first three can be identified with anything like
certainty at the present day. But as the antiquities of Ireland have
never yet been systematically explored, others may yet be found, and so
also may many more stone-marked battle-fields. Meanwhile our business
is with

  "The three cemeteries of the idolaters:
  The Cemetery of Tailten the select,
  The Cemetery of the ever fair Cruachan,
  And the Cemetery of Brugh."[241]

The two last are known with certainty. The first is most probably the
range of mounds at Lough Crew, recently explored by Mr. Conwell; but,
as some doubt this identification, we shall take it last, and speak
first of those regarding which there is more certainty.

Cruachan, or Rathcrogan, is situated five miles west from
Carrick-on-Shannon, and consists, according to Petrie, of a circular
stone ditch,[242] now nearly obliterated, 300 feet in diameter. Within
this "are small circular mounds, which, when examined, are found to
cover rude sepulchral chambers, formed of stone, without cement of
any kind, and containing unburnt bones." The monument of Dathi (428
A.D.), which is a small circular mound with a pillar-stone of
Red Sandstone, is situated outside the enclosure, at a short distance
to the east, and may be identified from the following notice of it
by the celebrated antiquary Duald Mac Firbis. "The body of Dathi was
brought to Cruachan, and was interred at Relig na Riogh, where most of
the kings of the race of Heremon were buried, and where to this date
the Red Stone pillar remains on a stone monument over his grave, near
Rath Cruachan, to this time (1666)."[243]

Here, therefore, we have the familiar 300-foot circle, with the
external burial, as at Arbor Low, and external stone monument as
at Salkeld and elsewhere. The chief distinction between this and
our English battle-circles seems to be the number of cairns, each
containing a chamber, which crowd the circle at Rath Crogan, and it is
possible that if these were opened with great care, a succession might
be discovered among them; but at present we know little or nothing of
their contents.

At present there are only two names that we can identify with
certainty as those of persons buried here. Queen Meave, who, as before
mentioned, was transferred from Fert Meave--or Meave's Grave, her first
burying-place, to this Rath, about the end of the first century, and
Dathi, at the beginning of the fifth. Whether any other persons were
interred here before the first-named queen seems doubtful. From the
context, it seems as if her being buried in her own Rath had led to its
being consecrated to funereal rites, and continuing to be so used till
Christianity induced men to seek burying-places elsewhere than in the
cemeteries of the idolaters.

       *       *       *       *       *

By far the best known, as well as the most interesting, of Irish
cemeteries is that which extends for about two miles east and west on
the northern bank of the Boyne, about five miles from Drogheda. Within
this space there remain even now some seventeen sepulchral barrows,
three of which are pre-eminent.[244] They are now known by the names
of Knowth for the most westward one, Dowth for that to the east, and
about halfway between these two, that known as New Grange. In front of
the latter, but lower down nearer the river, is a smaller one, still
popularly known as that of the Dagdha, and others bear names with more
or less certainty; but no systematic exploration of the group has yet
been made, so that we are very much in the dark as to their succession,
or who the kings or nobles may be that lie buried within their masses.

That at Knowth has never been carefully measured, nor, so far as I
know, even described in modern times. At a guess, it is a mound 200
feet in diameter, and 50 to 60 feet in height, with a flat top not
less than 100 feet across. It is entirely composed of small loose
stones, which have been extensively utilized for road making and farm
buildings, so that the mound has now a very dilapidated appearance,
which makes it difficult to ascertain its original form; and so far as
is known, its interior has not been accessible in modern times. Petrie
identifies it (p. 103) with "the cave of Cnodhba, which was searched
by the Danes on an occasion (A.D. 862), when the three kings,
Amlaff, Imar, and Auisle, were plundering the territories of Flann, the
son of Conaing. If this is so, its entrance ought not to be difficult
to find, but the prospect of the explorers being rewarded by any
treasure or object of value is very small indeed.

[Illustration: 63. View of Mound at New Grange. From a drawing by
Colonel Forbes Leslie.]

Less than a mile from this one is the larger and more celebrated mound
of New Grange. It is almost certainly one of the three plundered by
the Danes 1009 years ago. No description of it has anywhere been
discovered, prior to the time when Mr. Llwyd, the keeper of the
Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, mentioned it in a letter dated Sligo,
1699.[245] He describes the entrance, the passage, and the side
chapels, and the three basins as existing then exactly as they do now,
and does not allude to the discovery of the entrance as being at all
of recent occurrence, though Sir Thomas Molyneux, in 1725, says it
was found apparently not long before he wrote, in accidently removing
some stones.[246] The first really detailed account, however, is that
of Governor Pownall, in the second volume of the 'Archæologia' (1770).
He employed a local surveyor of the name of Bouie to measure it for
him, but either he must have been a bungler, or the engraver has
misunderstood his drawings, for it is almost impossible to make out
the form and dimensions of the mound from the plates published. In the
100 years that have elapsed since his survey was made, the process of
destruction has been going on rapidly, and it would now require both
skill and patience to restore the monument to its previous dimensions.
Meanwhile the accompanying cuts, partly from Mr. Bouie's plates,
partly from personal observations, may be sufficient for purposes
of illustration, but they are far from pretending to be perfectly
accurate, or such as one would like to see of so important a monument.

Its dimensions, so far as I can make out, are as follows: it has a
diameter of 310 to 315 feet for the whole mound, at its junction with
the natural hill, on which it stands. The height is about 70 feet, made
up of 14 feet for the slope of the hill to the floor of the central
chamber, and 56 feet above it. The angle of external slope appears to
be 35 degrees, or 5 degrees steeper than Silbury Hill, and consequently
if there is anything in that argument, it may, at least, be a century
or two older. The platform on the top is about 120 feet across,
the whole being formed of loose stones, with the smallest possible
admixture of earth and rubbish.

[Illustration: 64. New Grange, near Drogheda.]

Around its base was a circle of large stone monoliths (woodcut No.
63). They stand, according to Sir W. Wilde, 10 yards apart, on a
circumference of 400 paces, or 1000 feet. If this were so, they were
as nearly as may be 33 feet from centre to centre, and their number
consequently must originally have been thirty, or the same number as
at Stonehenge. From Bouie's plan I make the number thirty-two, but
this is hardly to be depended upon. From this disposition it will be
observed that if the tumulus were removed, or had never been erected,
we should have here exactly such a circle--333 feet in diameter--as we
find at Salkeld or at Stanton Drew, and it seems hardly doubtful but
that such an arrangement as this on the banks of the Boyne gave rise
to those circles which we find on the battle-fields of England two or
three centuries later. Llwyd, in his letter to Rowland, mentions one
smaller stone standing on the summit, but that had disappeared, as well
as twenty of the outer circle, when Mr. Bouie's survey was made.

At a distance of about 75 feet from the outer edge of the mound, and
at a height of 14 or 15 feet above the level of the stone ring, is the
entrance to the crypt. The threshold stone is 10 feet long by about
18 inches thick, and is richly ornamented by double spirals of a most
elaborate and elegant character;[247] and at a short distance above it
is seen a fragment of a string-course, even more elaborately ornamented
with a pattern more like modern architecture than anything else on
these mounds. The passage into the central chamber is, for about 40
feet, 6 feet high, by 3 feet in width, though both these dimensions
have been considerably diminished, the first by the accumulation of
earth on the floor, the second by the mass of the mound pressing in the
side walls of the passage, so that it is with difficulty that any one
can crawl through. Advancing inwards, the roof, which is formed of very
large slabs of stone, rapidly becomes higher; and at a distance of 70
feet from the entrance, rises into a conical dome 20 feet in height,
formed of large masses of stone laid horizontally. The crypt extends
still 20 feet beyond the centre of the dome; and on the east and west
sides are two other recesses, that in the east being considerably
deeper than the one opposite to it.

In each of these recesses stands a shallow stone basin of oval form 3
feet by 3 feet 6 or 7 inches across, and 6 to 9 inches deep. They seem
to form an indispensable part of these Irish sepulchres, though what
their use was has not yet been ascertained.

On one stone in the passage, and on most of those in the inner chamber,
are sculptured ornaments, mostly of the same spiral character as that
on the stone at the threshold, but hardly so elaborately or carefully
executed. One stone on the right hand angle of the inmost chamber
has fallen forward (see plan), so that by creeping behind it, it is
possible to see the reverse of some of the neighbouring stones, and it
is found that several of these are elaborately carved with the same
spiral ornaments as their fronts, though it is quite impossible that,
situated as they are, they could have been seen after the mound was
raised. To account for this, some have asserted that they belonged to
an older building before having been used in this; but it hardly seems
necessary to adopt so violent an hypothesis. It may have been that
the stones were carved before being used, and at a time when no plans
or drawings existed, may have been found unsuited in size or form for
the places for which they were first intended, and consequently either
turned round or used elsewhere. Or it may be that as the crypt must
have been built and tolerably complete before the mound was raised
over it, the king may have had it ornamented externally while in that
state. Labour was of little value in those days, and it is dangerous to
attempt to account for the caprices of kings in such a state of society
as must then have existed. The identity of the style and character
of the ornaments both on the hidden and the visible parts of these
stones excludes the idea that they were the work of different epochs. A
removal from an older building implies a desecration and neglect which
must have been the work of time; and, having regard to their identity,
it is improbable that a time considerable enough would have elapsed
to admit of a building being so desecrated and neglected as that its
stones should be carried away and used elsewhere.

[Illustration: 65. Ornament at New Grange. From a rubbing.]

[Illustration: 66. Ornament at New Grange. From a rubbing.]

The position of the entrance so much within the outline of the Tumulus,
is a peculiarity at first sight much more difficult to account for.
As it now stands, it is situated at a distance of about 50 feet
horizontally within what we have every reason to believe was the
original outline of the mound. Not only is there no reason to believe
that the passage ever extended further, but the ornamented threshold,
and the carved string-course above, and other indications, seem to
point out that the tumulus had what may be called an architectural
façade at this depth. One mode of accounting for this would be to
assume that the original mound was only about 200 feet in diameter at
the floor level, and that the interior was then accessible, but that
after the death of the king who erected it, an envelope 50 feet thick
was added by his successors, forming the broad platform at the top,
and effectually closing and hiding the entrance to the sepulchre. If
this were so, we may easily fancy that many of his family, or of his
followers, were buried in this envelope, and formed the secondary but
nearly contemporary interments which are so frequently found in English
mounds. The experience of Minning Lowe (woodcut No. 33), Rose Hill
(woodcut No. 39), and other English tumuli, goes far to countenance
such an hypothesis; and there is much besides to be said in its
favour, but it is one of those questions which can only be answered
satisfactorily by a careful examination of the mound itself. Meanwhile,
however, I am rather inclined to adopt the hypothesis that the mound
had a funnel-shaped entrance like Park Cwn tumulus (woodcut No. 46),
and that at Plas Newydd (woodcut No. 47), and shown in dotted lines
in the woodcut No. 64. The reason for this will be more apparent when
we come to examine the Lough Crew tumuli, but the apparent ease with
which Amlaff and his brother Danes seem to have robbed these tombs in
the ninth century, seems to indicate that the entrances were not then
difficult to find.

[Illustration: 67. Branch at New Grange. From a rubbing.]

[Illustration: 68. Sculptured mark at New Grange, of undecided

The ornaments which cover the walls of the chambers at New Grange are
very varied, both in their form and character. The most prevalent
design is that of spirals variously combined, and often of great
beauty. They seem always to have been drawn by the hand, never outlined
with an instrument, and never quite regular either in their form or
combination. The preceding woodcuts from rubbings give a fair idea
of their general appearance, though many are much more complex, and
some more carefully cut. The most extensive, and perhaps also the
most beautiful, is that on the external doorstep.[248] These spirals
are, however, seldom alone, but more frequently are found combined
with zigzag ornaments, as in (woodcut No. 66), and in lozenge-shaped
patterns; in fact, in every conceivable variety that seemed to suit
the fancy of the artist, or the shape of the stone he was employed
upon. In one instance a vegetable form certainly was intended. There
may be others, but this one most undoubtedly represents either a palm
branch or a fern; my impression is that it is the former, though how a
knowledge of the Eastern plant reached New Grange is by no means clear.
One other example of the sculptures is worth quoting, if not for its
beauty, at least for its interest (woodcut No. 68). It is drawn full
size in the second volume of the 'Archæologia,' p. 238, and Governor
Pownall, after a learned disquisition, concludes that the characters
are Phœnician but only numerals (p. 259). General Vallancey and
others have not been so modest; but one thing seems quite clear, that
it is not a character in any alphabet now known. Still it can hardly
be a mere ornament. It must be either a mason's mark, or a recognizable
symbol of some sort, something to mark the position of the stone on
which it is engraved, or its ownership by some person. Similar marks
are found in France, but seem there equally devoid of any recognizable

[Illustration: 69. Chambers in Mound at Dowth. From a MS. plan.]

The third of these great tumuli on the Boyne is known as that of Dowth.
Dubhad if Petrie is right in identifying it with the third sepulchre
plundered by the Danes in 862. It was dug into by a Committee of the
Royal Irish Academy in 1847, but without any satisfactory results. A
great gash was made in its side to its centre, which has fearfully
disfigured its form,[249] but without any central chamber being
reached; but on the western side a small entrance was discovered
leading to a passage which extended 40 feet 6 inches (from A to D)
towards the interior. At the distance of 28 feet from the entrance it
formed a small domical chamber, with three branches, very like that at
New Grange, but on a smaller scale. In the centre of this apartment was
one large flat basin (L), similar in form, and, no doubt, in purpose,
to the three at New Grange, but far larger, being 5 feet by 3 feet. The
southern branch of the chamber extends to K in a curvilinear form for
about 28 feet, where it is stopped for the present by a large stone,
and another partially obstructs the passage at 8 feet in front of the
terminal stone.

The Academy have not yet published any account of their diggings, nor
does any plan of the mound exist, so far as I know, anywhere. Even its
dimensions are unknown. Pending these being ascertained, it does look
as if this chamber was in an envelope similar to that just suggested
as having existed at New Grange. In that case the original tumulus was
probably 120 feet in diameter, and with its envelope 200 feet.

The walls of the chambers of this tomb are even more richly and
elaborately ornamented than those of the chambers at New Grange, and
are in a more delicate style of workmanship. Altogether I should be
inclined to consider it as more modern than its more imposing rival.

One other small tumulus of the cemetery is open. It is situated in
the grounds of Netterville House. It is, however, only a miniature
repetition of the central chambers of its larger compeers, but without
sculptures or any other marked peculiarity.

The mound called the Tomb of the Dagdha and the ten or twelve others
which still exist in this cemetery, are all, so far as is known,
untouched, and still remain to reward the industry of the first
explorer. If the three large mounds are those plundered by the Danes,
which seems probable, this is sufficient to account for the absence of
the usual sepulchral treasures, but it by no means follows that the
others would be equally barren of results. On the contrary, there being
no tradition of their having been opened, and no trace of wounds in
their sides, we are led to expect that they may be intact, and that the
bones and armour of the great Dagdha may still be found in his honoured

Nothing was found in the great mounds at New Grange and Dowth which
throws much additional light either on their age or the persons to
whom they should be appropriated. Two skeletons are said to have been
discovered at New Grange, but under what circumstances we are not told,
and we do not consequently know whether to consider them as original
or secondary interments. The finding of the coin of Valentinian is
mentioned by Llwyd in 1699, but he merely says that they were found
on the top, or rather, as might be inferred, near the top, when it
was uncovered by the removal of the stones for road-making and such
purposes. Had it been found in the cell, as at Minning Low, it would
have given us a date, beyond which we could not ascend, but when and
under what circumstances the coin of Theodosius was found, does not
appear, nor what has become of either. A more important find was made
by Lord Albert Cunyngham in 1842. Some workmen who were employed to dig
on the mound near the entrance discovered two splendid gold torques,
a brooch, and a gold ring, and with them a gold coin of Geta[250]
(205-212 A.D.). A similar gold ring was found about the same
time in the cell, and is in the possession of Mrs. Caldwell, the wife
of the proprietor. Although we might feel inclined to hesitate about
the value of the conclusions to be drawn from the first discovery of
coins, this additional evidence seems to be conclusive. Three Roman
coins found in different parts, at different times, and with the
torques and rings, are, it seems, quite sufficient to prove that it
cannot have been erected before 380, while the probable date for its
completion may be about 400 A.D. It may, however, have been
begun fifty or sixty years earlier. It is most likely that such a tomb
as this was commenced by the king whose remains it was destined to
contain; but the mound would not be heaped over the chamber till the
king himself, and probably his wives and sons, were laid there, and a
considerable period may consequently have elapsed between the inception
and the completion of such a monument.

At Dowth there was the usual miscellaneous assortment of things. A
great quantity of globular stone-shot, probably sling-stones; and
in the chamber fragments of burned bones, many of which proved to
be human; glass and amber beads of unique shape, portions of jet
bracelets, a curious stone button, a fibula, bone bodkins, copper pins,
and iron knives and rings. Some years ago a gentleman residing in the
neighbourhood cleared out a portion of the passage, and found a few
iron antiquities, some bones of mammals, and a small stone urn, which
he presented to the Irish Academy.[251] In so far as negative evidence
is of value, it may be remarked that no flint implements and nothing
of bronze--unless the copper pins are so classed--was found in any of
these tumuli.

[Illustration: 70. Ornament in Dowth. From a rubbing.]

[Illustration: 71. Ornament in Dowth. From a rubbing.]

The ornaments found inside the chambers at Dowth are similar in general
character to those at New Grange, but, on the whole, more delicate and
refined. Assuming the progressive nature of Irish art, which I see no
reason for doubting, they would indicate a more modern age, and this,
from other circumstances, seems more than probable. Though spirals are
frequent, the Dowth ornaments assume more of free-traced vegetable
forms. It is not so easy to identify the figures in the annexed woodcut
(No. 70), as in the palm-branch in New Grange (woodcut No. 67), but
there can be little doubt that the intention was to simulate vegetable
nature. At other times forms are introduced which a fanciful antiquary
might suppose were intended for serpents, or writing, or, at all
events, as having some occult meaning. The annexed from a rubbing is
curious, as something very similar occurs on a stone at Coilsfield,
in Ayrshire, and may really be intended to suggest an idea, but of
what nature we are not yet in a position to guess. It is not so like
an alphabetical character as those at New Grange (woodcut No. 68),
and till that is shown to have a meaning, it is hardly worth while
speculating with regard to this one. We shall be in a better position
to judge of the value or importance of these ornaments, in an artistic
or chronometric point of view, when we have examined those at Lough
Crew and elsewhere; but even irrespectively of such considerations,
no one can examine the monuments on the banks of the Boyne without
being struck with the elegance as well as the endless variety of the
ornaments which cover their walls.

If, however, the material proofs are deficient, the written evidence is
clearer and more satisfactory than with regard to any group of tombs
in the three kingdoms. In the passage above quoted, it is said "that
they"--the kings of Ireland--"were interred at Brugh from the time
of Crimthann (A.D. 76) to the time of Leoghaire, the son of
Niall (A.D. 458), except three persons, namely, Art the son of
Conn, and Cormac the son of Art, and Niall of the nine hostages,"--the
father of Leoghaire. The reason given why Art and Cormac were not
buried here was that they had embraced Christianity. Art was buried at
a place called Treoit; Cormac on the right bank of the Boyne at a place
called Ros-na-righ, opposite Brugh; and Niall at Ochaim. But having
disposed of these three, we have still some twenty-seven kings to find
graves for, and only seventeen mounds can now be traced at Brugh; and,
besides these, we have to find the tombs of the Dagdha, and his three
sons, and Etan the poetess and her son Corpre, and Boinn, the wife of
Nechtan, "who took with her to the tomb her small hound Dabilla," and a
vast number of nobles of Tuatha de Danann and others. It is impossible
to find places for all these persons in the graves now visible, if
each was buried separately. It may be, however, that the great mounds
contained several sepulchres. The form and position of the chambers at
Dowth (woodcut No. 69) perhaps countenances such a supposition; but
many may have been buried under smaller cairns, long since removed to
make way for agricultural improvements, and many may yet be discovered
if the place be carefully and systematically explored, which does not
yet seem to have been done. Before, however, anything like certainty
could be arrived at as to the distribution of these graves, it would
be necessary that the great mounds should be thoroughly explored, and
this, from the nature of their material, will practically involve their
destruction, which would be very much to be regretted. Meanwhile, if
I may be allowed to offer a conjecture, I would say that New Grange
might be the "Cumot or Commensurate grave of Cairbre Lifeachair." He,
according to the Four Masters, reigned from 271 to 288--but probably
fifty or sixty years later--and seems to have been a king deserving of
a right royal sepulchre; and I feel great confidence that the unopened
tumulus near the river may be what tradition says it is--the grave of
the Great Dagdha, the hero of Moytura. With regard to the others, it
would not be safe to hazard any opinion in the present state of our
knowledge. For the present it is sufficient to feel sure that we have a
group of monuments all, or very nearly all of which were erected in the
first four centuries of the Christian era, and from this basis we may
reason with tolerable certainty regarding the other groups which we may
meet with in the course of this enquiry.


At a distance of twenty-five miles nearly due west from Brugh na
Boinn, and two miles south-east from Oldcastle, is a range of hills,
called on the Ordnance map Slieve na Calliagh--the hags' or witches'
hill. It is upwards of 200 feet above the level of the sea, and the
most conspicuous elevation in that part of the country. On the ridge
of this range, which is about two miles in extent, are situated from
twenty-five to thirty cairns, some of considerable size, being 120
to 180 feet in diameter; others are much smaller, and some so nearly
obliterated that their dimensions can hardly be now ascertained. Till
seven or eight years ago this cemetery was entirely unknown to Irish
antiquaries, and the positions of the cairns were hardly even indicated
in the Ordnance Survey; but in 1863 they attracted the attention of
Mr. Eugene Conwell, of Trim. In the years 1867-8 he was enabled, with
the assistance and co-operation of the late Mr. Naper, of Lough Crew,
the proprietor of the soil, to excavate and explore the whole of them.
A brief account of the results which he obtained was submitted to the
Royal Irish Academy in 1868, and afterwards printed by him for private
circulation in 1868; but the greater work, with plans and drawings, in
which he intends fully to illustrate the whole, is still in abeyance,
owing to want of encouragement. When completed it will be one of the
most valuable contributions to our archæological knowledge that we have
received of late years. Meanwhile the following meagre particulars are
derived from Mr Conwell's pamphlet and the information I picked up
during a personal visit which I made to the spot in his company in the
Autumn of last year. The illustrations are all from his drawings.

[Illustration: 72. Cairn T, at Lough Crew.--From a plan by E. Conwell.]

One of the most perfect of these tumuli is that distinguished by Mr.
Conwell as Cairn T (woodcut No. 72). It stands on the highest point of
the hill, and is consequently the most conspicuous. It is a truncated
cone, 116 feet in diameter at base, and with a sloping side, between 60
and 70 feet in length. Around its base are thirty-seven stones, laid on
edge, and varying from 6 to 12 feet in length. They are not detached,
as at New Grange, but form a retaining wall to the mound. On the north,
and set about 4 feet back from the circle, is a large stone, 10 feet
long by 6 high, and 2 feet thick, weighing consequently above 10 tons.
The upper part is fashioned as a rude seat, from which it derives its
name of the Hag's Chair (woodcut No. 73), and there can be little doubt
but that it was intended as a seat or throne; but whether by the king
who erected the sepulchre, or for what purpose, it is difficult now to

[Illustration: 73. The Hag's Chair, Lough Crew.--From a drawing by E.

On the eastern side of the mound the stones forming the periphery of
the cairn curve inwards for eight or nine yards on each side of the
spot where the entrance to the chamber commences. It is of the usual
cruciform plan, and 28 feet long from the entrance to the flat stone
closing the innermost cell; the dome, consequently, is not nearly
under the centre of the tumulus, as at New Grange, and lends something
like probability to the notion that the cell at Dowth (woodcut No.
69), was really the principal sepulchre. Twenty-eight of the stones
in the chamber were ornamented with devices of various sorts. Two of
them are represented on the accompanying woodcut (No. 74), which, with
the drawings on the Hag's Chair give a fair idea of their general
character. They are certainly ruder and less artistic than those on
the Boyne, and so far would indicate an earlier age. Nothing was found
in the chambers of this tomb but a quantity of charred human bones,
perfect human teeth, mixed with the bones of animals, apparently stags,
and one bronze pin, 2½ inches long, with a head ornamented and stem
slightly so, and still preserving a beautiful green polish.

[Illustration: 74. Two Stones in Cairn T, Lough Crew.--E. Conwell.]

Cairn L (woodcut No. 75), a little further west, is 135 feet in
diameter, and surrounded by forty-two stones, similar to those in
Cairn T. The same curve inwards of these stones marks the entrance
here, which is placed 18 feet from the outward line of the circle. The
chamber here is nearly of the same dimensions as that last described,
being 29 feet deep and 13 across its greatest width. In one of the side
chambers lies the largest of the mysterious flat basins that have yet
been discovered, 5 feet 9 inches long by 3 feet 1 inch broad, the whole
being tooled and picked with as much care and skill as if executed
by a modern mason. This one has a curious nick in its rim, but as it
does not go through, it could hardly be intended as a spout. Till some
unrifled tomb is found, or something analogous in other countries, it
is extremely difficult to say what the exact use of these great stone
saucers may have been. That the body or ashes were laid on them is more
than probable, and they may then have been covered over with a lid like
a dish-cover, such as are found on tombs in Southern Babylonia.[252]
Under this basin were found great quantities of charred human bones
and forty-eight human teeth, besides a perfectly rounded syenite
ball, still preserving its original polish, also some jet and other
ornaments. In other parts were found quantities of charred bones, some
rude pottery and bone implements, but no objects in metal. The woodcut
representing the cell, with large basin, gives a fair idea of the
general style of sculpture in this and the neighbouring cairns. The
parts cross-hatched seem to have been engraved with a sharp metal tool.
The ordinary forms, however, both here and on the Boyne are picked;
but whether they were executed with a hammer, or pick direct, or by a
chisel driven by a hammer, is by no means clear. My own impression is,
that it would be very difficult indeed to execute these patterns with a
hammer of any sort, and that a chisel must have been used, but whether
of flint, bronze, or iron, there is no evidence to show.

[Illustration: 75. Cell in Cairn L, at Lough Crew.--E. Conwell.]

Cairn H, though only between 5 and 6 feet in height and 54 feet in
diameter, seems to have been the only one on the hill not previously
rifled, and yielded a most astonishing collection of objects to its
explorer. The cell was of the usual cruciform plan, 24 feet from the
entrance to the rear, and 16 feet across the lateral chambers. In
the passage and crypts of this cairn Mr. Conwell collected some 300
fragments of human bones, which must have belonged to a considerable
number of separate individuals; 14 fragments of rude pottery, 10 pieces
of flint, 155 sea-shells in a perfect condition, besides pebbles and
small polished stones, in quantities.

The most remarkable part of the collection consisted of 4884 fragments,
more or less perfect, of bone implements. These are now in the
Dublin Museum, and look like the remains of a paper-knife-maker's
stock-in-trade. Most of them are of a knife shape, and almost all more
or less polished, but without further ornamentation; but 27 fragments
appear to have been stained, 11 perforated, 501 engraved with rows of
fine lines; 13 combs were engraved on both sides, and 91 engraved by
compass with circles and curves of a high order of art. On one, in
cross-hatch lines, is the representation of an antlered stag, the only
attempt to depict a living thing in the collection.

Besides these, there were found in this cairn seven beads of amber,
three small beads of glass of different colours, two fragments, and
a curious molten drop of glass, 1 inch long, trumpet-shaped at one
end, and tapering towards the other extremity; six perfect and eight
fragments of bronze rings, and seven specimens of iron implements, but
all, as might be expected, very much corroded by rust. One of these
presents all the appearance of being the leg of a compass, with which
the bone implements may have been engraved, and one was an iron punch,
5 inches long, with a chisel-shaped point, bearing evidence of the use
of the mallet at the opposite end.

Cairn D is the largest and most important monument of the group, being
180 feet in diameter, and though it is very much dilapidated, the
circle of fifty-four stones which originally surrounded it can still
be traced. On its eastern side the stones curve inwards for about
twelve paces, in the form universal in these cairns; but though the
explorers set to work industriously to follow out what they considered
a sure "find," they could not penetrate the mound. The stones fell
in upon them so fast, and the risk they ran was so great, that they
were forced to abandon the idea of tunnelling, and though a large body
of men worked assiduously for a fortnight trying to work down from
above, they failed to penetrate to the central or any other chambers.
It still, therefore, remains a mystery if there is a blind tope, like
many in India, or whether its secret still remains to reward some
more fortunate set of explorers. If it has no central chamber, the
curving inwards of its outer circle of stones is a curious instance of
adherence to a sacred form.

The other monuments on the hill do not present any features worth
enumerating in a general summary like the present, though they would
be most interesting in a monograph. Though differing greatly in size
and in richness of ornamentation, they all belong to one class,
and apparently to one age. For our present purpose one of the most
interesting peculiarities is that, like the group on the banks of
the Boyne, this is essentially a cemetery. There are no circles, no
alignments, no dolmens, no rude stone monuments, in fact. All are
carefully built, and all more or less ornamented; and there is a
gradation and progression throughout the whole series widely different
in this respect from the simplicity and rudeness of the English
monuments described in the last chapter.

       *       *       *       *       *

It now only remains to try to ascertain who those were who were buried
in these tumuli, and when they were laid there to their rest. So far as
the evidence at present stands it hardly seems to me to admit of doubt
but that this is the cemetery of Talten, so celebrated in Irish legend
and poetry:--

  "The host of Great Meath are buried
  In the middle of the Lordly Brugh;
  The Great Ultonians used to bury
  At Talten with pomp.

  "The true Ultonians, before Conchobar,
  Were ever buried at Talten,
  Until the death of that triumphant man,
  Through which they lost their glory."[253]

The distance of the spot from Telltown, the modern representative of
Talten, is twelve miles, which to some might appear an objection, but
it must be remembered that Brugh is ten miles from Tara, where all
the kings resided, who were buried there; and as Dathi and others of
them were buried at Rath Croghan, sixty-five miles off, distance seems
hardly to be an objection. Indeed, among a people who, as evidenced
by their monuments, paid so much attention to funeral rites and
ceremonious honours to their dead, as the Pagan Irish evidently did,
it must have mattered little whether the last resting-place of one of
their kings was a few miles nearer or further from his residence.

It must not, however, be forgotten, that the proper residence of the
Ultonians, who are said to have been buried at Talten, was Emania or
Armagh, forty-five miles distant as the crow flies. Why they should
choose to be buried in Meath, so near the rival capital of Tara, if
that famed city then existed, is a mystery which it is not easy to
solve; but that it was so, there seems no doubt, if the traditions
or Books of the Irish are at all to be depended upon. If their real
residence was so distant, it seems of trifling consequence whether it
was ten or twelve miles from the place we now know as Telltown. There
must have been some very strong reason for inducing the Ultonians to
bury so far from their homes; but as that reason has not been recorded,
it is idle to attempt to guess what form it took. What would appear
a most reasonable suggestion to a civilized Saxon in the nineteenth
century would in all probability be the direct antithesis of the motive
that would guide an uncivilized Celt in the first century before
Christ, and we may therefore as well give up the attempt. Some other
reason than that of mere proximity to the place of residence governed
the Irish in the choice of the situation of their cemeteries; what that
was we may hereafter be able to find out,--at present, so far as I
know, the materials do not exist for forming an opinion. If, however,
this is not Talten, no graves have been found nearer Telltown, which
would at all answer to the descriptions that remains to us of this
celebrated cemetery; and, till they are found, these Lough Crew mounds
seem certainly entitled to the distinction. I cannot see that the
matter is doubtful.

If this is so, there is little difficulty in determining who were
buried here. Besides the testimony of the poem just quoted, it is
stated in the Book of the 'Cemeteries'--"At Tailten the kings of Ulster
were used to bury vig^t. Ollamh Fodhla with his descendants down to
Conchobhar, who wished to be carried to a place between Slea and the
sea, with his face to the east, on account of the faith which he had
embraced." This conversion of Conchobhar is one of the most famous
legends in Irish ancient history. He was wounded in the head by a ball
that remained there, and was ordered by his physician to remain quiet
and avoid all excitement as his only chance of surviving. For seven
years he followed this advice; but when he saw the eclipse of the sun,
and felt the great convulsion that came over nature, the day that
Christ was crucified, he turned to his Druid and asked, "What is this?"
To which Bacrach, the Druid, replied: "It is true, indeed, Christ, the
Son of God, is this day crucified by the Jews." "At the recital of
this enormity, Conchobhar felt so indignant that he went nearly mad:
his excitement was so great that the ball burst from his head, and he
died on the very Friday on which the crucifixion took place."[254] All
this may be silly enough, as the electric telegraph was not then in
use, but it is worth quoting here, as it seems that it was to establish
this synchronism that the chronology of the period was falsified to
the extent of half a century at least. Conchobhar and Crimthann were
the two kings of the two great dynasties then reigning in Ireland
whom the annalists strive to synchronize with Christ, and though they
fail in that, they establish beyond much doubt that those kings were
contemporaries. If to this we add the fact so often repeated by the
authorities quoted above, that Conchobhar was the last of his race
buried at Talten, and that Crimthann was the first of his line buried
at Brugh, we obtain a tolerably clear idea of the history of these
cemeteries. Brugh, in fact, succeeded to Talten on the decline of the
Ultonian dynasty and the rise of Tuatha de Danann after the victories
at Moytura had established their supremacy and they had settled
themselves at Tara.

The character of the sculptures in the two groups of monuments fully
bears out this view. The carvings at Lough Crew are ruder and less
artistic than those at Brugh. They are more disconnected, and oftener
mere cup markings. The three stones represented in the preceding and
following woodcuts (Nos. 75 and 76), are selected from a great many
in the Conwell portfolios as fair average specimens of the style
of sculpture common at Lough Crew, and with the woodcut No. 73,
representing the Hag's Chair, and No. 75, the chamber in cairn L,
will convey a fair notion of the whole. In no one instance does it
seem possible to guess what these figures were meant to represent.
No animal or vegetable form can be recognized, even after allowing
the utmost latitude to the imagination; nor do the circles or waving
lines seem intended to convey any pictorial ideas. Beauty of form, as
a decoration, seems to have been all the old Celt aimed at, and he may
have been thought successful at the time, though it hardly conveys the
same impression to modern minds. The graceful scrolls and spirals and
the foliage of New Grange and Dowth do not occur there, nor anything
in the least approaching to them. Indeed, when Mr. Conwell's book is
published, in which they will all be drawn in more or less detail, I
believe it will be easy to arrange the whole into a progressive series
illustrative of the artistic history of Ireland for five centuries
before the advent of St. Patrick.

[Illustration: 76. Stone in Cairn T. Lough Crew.--E. Conwell.]

It would be an extremely dangerous line of argument to apply this law
of progressive development to all countries. In India, especially, it
is very frequently reversed. The rudest art is often much more modern
than the most refined, but in Ireland this apparently never was the
case. From the earliest scratchings on pillar stones, down to the
English conquest, her art seems to have been unfalteringly progressive;
and, beginning with these two cemeteries, which are probably the oldest
incunabula of her art, its history might be written without a gap, or
halt, till it bloomed in those exquisite manuscripts and crosses and
works of gold and metal which still excite such unqualified admiration.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: 77. Stones in Sculptured Graves, Clover Hill. From a
sketch by the Author.]

There may be, and no doubt are, many other sculptured graves
in Ireland, but they have not yet been explored, or, at least,
published. One, however, deserves notice; not, certainly, on account
of its magnificence, but for several points of interest which its
peculiarities bring out. It is situated in a field near Clover Hill,
not far from Carrowmore, the battle-field of northern Moytura.[255]
It measures only 7 feet by 5, and is 4½ feet deep. Its cap-stone
was originally flush with the earth, and no cairn or circle of stones
marks it externally, nor is there any tradition of any such ever
having existed. The carvings on the stones forming the chamber are
shallow, and now very indistinct, from being overgrown with lichens
and moss, but their general character will be understood from the
annexed woodcut. Its character is something between the sculptures
of Talten and Brugh, which would agree very well with its date if we
suppose it connected with the battle-field. This, however, is very
doubtful, for there are few things that come out more prominently in
the investigation than the fact that all those monuments which are
directly or indirectly connected with battle-fields are literally rude
and untouched by the chisel, but that all, or nearly all those which
are in cemeteries, or have been erected leisurely by, or for, those who
occupy them, are more or less ornamented. It may, however, be that some
one connected with the battle wished to be buried near his companions
who fell there, and prepared this last resting-place for himself, but
we must know more before such speculations can be of much value.

One other point is of interest regarding this tomb. If the minor
sepulchres at Brugh were like the one flush with the surface, we cannot
guess how many may yet be there undiscovered, and equally difficult to
say how they are to be disinterred.


It is extremely difficult to write anything that will be at all
satisfactory regarding the few standing solitary dolmens of Ireland.
Not that their history could not be, perhaps, easily ascertained, but
simply because every one has hitherto been content to consider them as
prehistoric, and no one has consequently given himself the trouble to
investigate the matter. The first point would be to ascertain whether
any of them exist on any of the battle-fields mentioned in the Irish
annals. My impression is that they do not: but this question can only
be answered satisfactorily by some one more intimately acquainted with
the ancient political geography of Ireland than I can pretend to be.
No connexion has, however, yet been shown to exist between them and
any known battle-fields, and till this is done, we must be content to
consider them as the graves of chiefs or distinguished individuals
whose ashes are contained in the urns which are generally found under

A still more important question hinges on their geographical
distribution. Nothing can be more unsafe than to found any important
deductions on what is known on this subject at present. If all those
which are described in books and in journals of learned societies
were marked on a map, the conclusion would be that the most of them
are found on the east coast of Ireland; a dozen or so in Waterford
and Wexford; as many in Dublin and Meath, and an equal number in
County Down. But this knowledge may merely mean that the east coast,
possessing roads and towns, has consequently been more frequented by
tourists and antiquaries than the remote or inaccessible west.

Among the records, however, of the Ordnance survey, and in the Du Noyer
drawings, there are probably sufficient materials for the purpose. Both
are deposited in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy at Dublin;
but any person who would attempt to use these materials for the
purpose of such an investigation, must be not only an enthusiast, but
have his whole time at his disposal. The disarray in which they now
exist renders them utterly useless to any ordinary student of Irish

The Irish themselves seem to have only one tradition regarding their
dolmens. They call them all "Beds of Diarmid and Graine," and that is
the name applied to them in the sheets of the Ordnance Survey. The
elopement of Diarmid with Graine, the daughter of Cormac Mac Art,
whose date, according to the Four Masters, was A.D. 286, is
one of the most celebrated of Irish legends.[256] The story is, that
being pursued all over Ireland by Finn, the disappointed suitor, they
erected these as places of shelter, or for hiding in. This is, of
course, absurd enough; but it shows that, in the opinion of the Irish
themselves, they belong to the period which elapsed between the birth
of Christ and the conversion of the people to Christianity. There is
no hint in any Irish book that any of them were erected before the
Christian era, nor anything that would lead us to suppose that any are
more modern than the time of St. Columba.

The most extensive group of free standing dolmens known to exist in
Ireland, is that in or near Glen Columbkille, at the extreme western
point of Donegal. No account of these has been published--so far as I
know--in any book or journal, and I am indebted for all I know about
them to my friend, Mr. Norman Moore, who paid a visit to the spot
this autumn to obtain the information I wanted, and it is from his
descriptions that the following is abstracted.[257]

The principal groups are situated in Glen Malin More, a small valley
running parallel to that of Columbkille, about two miles to the
southward of it. There are three groups on the north side of this
valley and two on the south, extending from about half a mile from
the sea-shore to about three miles inward. The finest group is that
next the sea on the south side, and consists of six dolmens, situated
nearly in a row, about 50 or 100 feet apart, and is accompanied by
some cairns, but so small as hardly to deserve the name of Tumuli. The
stones of the dolmens range from 6 to 12 feet in height, and their
cap-stones are still there, though some have been displaced.

The second group, a little way up the glen, consists of ten dolmens
arranged in two parallel rows, but they are neither so large nor so
perfect as those nearer to the sea.

Nearly opposite the first-named group on the shore, but on the north
side of the stream, are two dolmens so nearly contiguous to each
other that they may almost be considered as one structure. About half
a mile to the east of this is a fourth group, consisting of four
dolmens, accompanied by cairns, and two at least of the former are of
considerable magnificence. The group farthest up the glen consists of
five or six dolmens, but all except one in a ruinous state.

The number of dolmens in Glen Columbkille is not given by Mr. Moore;
but, from the context, there must be five or six, making up twenty
to thirty for the whole group. So far as can be judged from the
description, the group in Glen Columbkille seems to have better fitted
and more complete chambers; consequently, I should infer it to be more
modern than the others. It would, however, require careful personal
inspection to classify them; though I have no doubt it could be done,
and that, with a little care, these six groups could be arranged into a
consecutive series, whatever the initial or final date may turn out to

The general construction and appearance of these tombs is that of
the so-called Calliagh Birra's house in Meath, described further on
(woodcut No. 80). From its situation and appearance, there seems little
reason for doubt that the Meath example belongs to the fifth or the
sixth century; and if this is so, as little for doubting that these
dolmens in Donegal are of about the same age, or, in other words, that
this mode of interment continued to be practised in certain parts of
Ireland, especially near the coasts, down to the entire conversion of
the inhabitants to Christianity.

There are no other traditions, so far as I know, attached to anything
in this glen, except those that relate to St. Columba, who, it is
understood, long resided here, attempting to convert the inhabitants
to Christianity. Whether he was successful or not is not clear. He
certainly left Ireland in disgust, and settled in the first island
whence the shores of his detested native land could not be seen. The
only other tradition that seems to bear on the subject relates to
St. Patrick, who, being unable to convert the "Demons" about Croagh
Patrick, in Mayo, drove them into the sea; but, instead of perishing,
as they ought to have done, when he threw his bell after them, they
reappeared, and settled on this promontory.[258] The meaning of this
fable seems to be, that some tribe--not Celtic, for the Celts accepted
Christianity whenever and wherever it was preached to them, but, it may
be of Iberian origin--refusing to accept the doctrine, was expelled
by force from their seats in Mayo, and sought refuge with kindred
tribes in this remote corner of the island, and here remained till
St. Columba took up his abode among them. If we might assume that
the Columbkille group belongs to a time immediately preceding their
conversion, and that the other five groups in Malin More extended back
to a date two, three, it may be four centuries before St. Columba's
time, and that they belonged to an Iberian or Celtiberian race, we
should have an hypothesis which at least would account for all their
peculiarities. Though in sight of Carrowmore, on the southern side of
Sligo Bay, it is certain that these monuments have no affinity with
them or with the works of any of the Northern circle-building nations.
Spanish or French they must be; and we can hardly hesitate between the
two. In Elizabeth's time, and as far back as history reaches, we have
Spaniards settled in Galway, and on the western coast of Ireland. Such
colonisation, if lasting, is not the work of any sudden impulse or of
a long past time; and the probability is that Iberians, before they
learned to talk Latin, were settled here from a very early age. It
is also probable from what we know of them and their monuments in the
Peninsula, that they would refuse for a longer period than the Celts to
be converted, and that they should use dolmens for their sepulchres in
preference either to tumuli or circles.

Be this as it may, there are at least two points which we may assume
negatively with regard to these dolmens. The first is, that they do not
mark battle-fields: they have none of the appearance of such monuments.
The second is, that as there is no capital or fertile country in their
neighbourhood, they are not a royal cemetery; they are not, indeed,
claimed, even in the remotest manner, by any of the royal races of
Ireland. They are, so far as we can see, the sepulchres of a foreign
colony settled on this spot. Whether this is probable or not must,
of course, depend on a comparison of these monuments with those in
the countries from which they are supposed to have come. But, in the
meanwhile, it may be assumed, as an hypothesis which at least accounts
for the phenomena as we find them in Ireland, even when judged of by
their own internal evidence alone.

       *       *       *       *       *

One of the most interesting of the Irish dolmens is that known as the
Giant's Grave, near Drumbo, about four miles south from Belfast. The
interest attached to this monument does not, however, arise so much
from the grandeur of the structure itself, though it may be considered
a first-class example and very tolerably perfect, but from its standing
solitary in the centre of the largest circle in these islands,
Avebury only excepted. The circle is about 580 feet in diameter, and
consequently more than six acres in extent, and is formed, not as at
Avebury or Arbor Low, by a ditch dug inside, and the earth so gained
being used to form a rampart, but by the top of a hill being levelled
and the earth removed in so doing being thrown up so as to form a
circular amphitheatre. Although, consequently, the rampart is not so
high outside as at Avebury, the whole surface internally having been
lowered, the internal effect is very much grander.[259]

What, then, was the object of this great earthwork with one solitary
dolmen in the centre? Was it simply the converse of such a mound as
that at New Grange? Was it that, instead of heaping the earth over the
sepulchral chamber, they cleared it away and arranged it round it, so
as to give it dignity? Or was it that funereal games or ceremonies were
celebrated round the tomb, and that the amphitheatre was prepared to
give dignity to their performance? These are questions that can only
be answered when more of these circles are known and compared with one
another, and the whole subject submitted to a more careful examination
than has yet been the case. My impression is that it is the grave of
a chief, and of him only, and that it is among the most modern of its

At about the same distance west from Belfast is another dolmen, which,
in itself, is a much finer example than this Grave of the Giant. Its
cap-stone is said to weigh 40 tons, and is supported by five upright
stones of considerable dimensions. It has, however, no circle or
accompaniments. The Celtic name of the district in which it stands was
'Baille clough togal,' _i.e._ the Town of the Stone of the Strangers,
which would seem to indicate that it was not very old, nor its origin
quite forgotten.

[Illustration: 78. Dolmen at Knockeen.]

At Knockeen, county Waterford, there is a remarkable dolmen (woodcut
No. 78), though it neither has any surroundings nor any tradition
attached to it.[260] It is interesting, however, as it looks as if
we were approaching the form out of which Stonehenge grew, which, I
have not a doubt, could be found in Ireland if looked for. It is also
interesting as showing in plan (woodcut No. 79), an arrangement which
is peculiar, I believe, to Irish dolmens. The cell is well formed, but
in front of it is a demicell, or ante-chamber, which looks as if it
might have been used for making offerings to the dead after the cell
was closed.

[Illustration: 79. Plan of Dolmen at Knockeen.]

[Illustration: 80. Calliagh Birra's House, north end of Parish of

One other dolmen deserves being illustrated before going further, as it
belongs to a class of monuments common in Brittany, hitherto unknown in
Great Britain. It consists of a cell 12 feet 8 inches long internally,
with a width of 4 feet at the entrance, but diminishing to 3 feet at
its inner end. It is situated near Monasterboice, at the northern limit
of the parish, and not far, consequently, from New Grange, and close
to Greenmount. Locally it is known as the house or tomb of Calliagh
Vera, or Birra,[261] the hag whose chair is illustrated in woodcut No.
73, and whose name is indissolubly connected with the Lough Crew tombs.
According to the traditions collected by Dr. O'Donovan and Mr. Conwell,
she broke her neck before completing the last tumulus, and was buried,
close to where she died,[262] in the parish of Diarmor, where, however,
nothing remains to mark the spot.

From the mode in which it is constructed, it seems hardly doubtful that
the original intention was to cover it with a tumulus; but probably it
never was occupied. If I am correct in my surmise as to its age, its
builder may have been converted to Christianity before he had occasion
for it. But, be that as it may, its exposed position may serve to
explain how a king or chief who had erected such a structure for his
burying-place might very well have amused himself, if his life were
prolonged, in adorning both the interior and exterior with carvings.
I cannot believe that the internal ornaments were ever executed by
artificial light, and both, therefore, must have been completed before
the chamber was buried.

Last year, General Lefroy excavated a tumulus at Greenmount, Castle
Bellingham, about five miles north of Calliagh Birra's so-called
house.[263] In it he found a chamber, 21 feet long by about 4 feet wide
and 5 feet high, enclosed by two parallel walls built of small stones,
and closed at each end by similar masonry.

The roof was formed of slabs in two rows, the lower projecting as
brackets and the upper stretching across beyond the walls on each side.
In plan, therefore, it was identical with the Birra's house, though
longer and larger. But, from the mode in which it was constructed,
it was evidently more modern,--the most modern, in fact, of all the
chambered sepulchral tumuli yet discovered in Ireland.

[Illustration: 81. Plan and Section of Chamber in Greenmount Tumulus.
From a drawing by General Lefroy.]

Nothing was found in the chamber: it had been rifled before, but by
whom and at what period there was nothing to show. At 9 or 10 feet
below the summit, but still 6 or 7 feet above the floor of the chamber,
a bronze monument was found with a Runic inscription on it, which, with
the assistance of the Danish antiquaries, the General decides to belong
to the ninth century (852?). The one question is, is it coeval with the
building of the tomb or its destruction? The name Domnal, or Domhnall,
being Irish, and the position in which it was found seem to prove that
it belongs to the period of the raising of the mound, not to that of
its being rifled; and if so, this grave approaches the age to which
Maeshowe in the Orkneys may belong.

The circumstance, however, which interests us most at present is the
similarity of the Greenmount Chamber to the Lady Birra's tomb. Being
locally so close to one another, and so like in plan, they cannot be
very distant in date, though the more southern is, from its megalithic
character, undoubtedly the more ancient of the two. If we allow two or
three centuries it is a long stretch, though even that takes us far
away from any connexion with the monuments at Lough Crew, and barely
allows of it following very close on those at Brugh na Boinne.

The similarity of this tomb with those at Glen Columbkille has already
been pointed out, and no doubt others exist in Ireland, and will be
brought to light as soon as attention is directed to the subject. But
meanwhile they seem, so far as we can at present judge, to make up an
extensive group of pagan or semi-pagan monuments, extending from the
time of St. Patrick to that of St. Columba, and, as such, are among
the latest, and certainly among the most interesting, monuments of the
class in Ireland.

[Illustration: 82. Dolmen of the Four Maols, Ballina.]

Vague as all this may probably appear, there is one dolmen in Ireland
which seems to have a date. The great grandson of Dathi, whose red
pillar-stone at Rath Croghan, erected A.D. 428, we have
already pointed out, was named Ceallach. He was murdered by his four
foster-brothers through envy about the sovereignty. They were hanged
for their crime at a spot known as Ard-na-Riagh, near Ballina, and were
buried on a hill on the opposite side of the river, where a dolmen
still stands, and is pointed out as the grave of the four Maols, the
murderers. These particulars are related in the Dinnsenchus, in the
Book of Lecan, and in the Annals of the Hy Fiachrach, translated by Dr.
O'Donovan (p. 35), who, in a note, adds that "this evidence, coupled
with the description of the situation on the other side of the Moy,
opposite Ard-na-Riagh, leaves no doubt of its identity."

The dolmen in question has nothing very remarkable about it. The
cap-stone, which measures 9 feet by 7 feet, is hexagonal in form, and
is supported on three uprights, arranged similarly to those of Kit's
Cotty House. It is perfectly level, and stands about 4 feet above
the level of the soil. The cap-stone may have been fashioned into
its present form by art; but there is no sign of chiselling, and,
altogether there is nothing that would attract especial attention.[264]
The interest rests with its date. If it can be established that it
belongs to the beginning of the sixth century, which I see no more
reason for doubting than Dr. O'Donovan does, it is a point gained in
our investigation, in so far at least as dates are concerned.

It would be tedious to enumerate the other dolmens in Ireland which
have neither dates nor peculiarities to distinguish them from others
of this class, but there is one monument of a megalithic character in
Ireland which must be described before leaving the country, though it
certainly is not a dolmen, and its date and use are both mysterious at

[Illustration: 83. Sketch-Plan of Monument in the Deer Park, Sligo.
Scale 40 feet to 1 inch.]

It stands in the deer park of the Hazlewood domain, about four miles
east of Sligo. It is entered from the south, and consists first
of an enclosure 54 feet by 24 feet. To the westward of this is a
smaller apartment, about 30 feet by 12 feet, divided into two by two
projecting stones. At the east end are two similar apartments side
by side, but smaller, the whole length of the structure measuring
about 115 feet.[265] The three entrances from the central to the side
apartments are trilithons of squared and partially dressed stones, and
would remind us of Stonehenge, were they not so small. They are only
3 feet under the lintel, and you must bow low indeed to pass under
them. Indeed, when speaking of these enclosures as apartments, it
must be borne in mind that one can enter anywhere by passing between
the stones, and stepping over the walls, which are composed of stones
hardly ever touching each other, the highest being only 3 or 4 feet
high. Many of them, though massive, have only half that height.

What, then, is this curious edifice? It can hardly be a tomb, it is
so unlike any other tomb which we know of. In plan it looks more like
a temple; indeed, it is not unlike the arrangement of some Christian
churches: but a church or temple with walls pervious, as these are, and
so low that the congregation outside can see all that passes inside,
is so anomalous an arrangement, that it does not seem admissible. At
present it is unique; if some similar example could be discovered,
perhaps we might guess its riddle.

It is situated on the highest plateau of the hill. A little lower
down is a very fine stone Cathair, or circular fort, with an L-shaped
underground apartment of some extent in its centre; and on a
neighbouring eminence are several round tumuli, which, looking like the
burying-places of the "Castellani," increase the improbability of the
upper building being a sepulchre.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before leaving this branch of the subject, it may be as well to allude
to a point which, though not very distinct in itself, may have some
influence with those who are shocked at being told that the rude
stone monuments of Ireland are so modern as from the preceding pages
we should infer they were. It is that every allusion to Ireland, in
any classical author, and every inference from its own annals, lead
us to assume that Ireland, during the centuries that elapsed between
the Christian era and St. Patrick, was in a state of utter and
hopeless barbarism. The testimony of Diodorus[266] and Strabo[267]
that its inhabitants were cannibals is too distinct to be disputed,
and according to the last named authority, they added to this an
ugly habit of eating their fathers and mothers. These accusations
are repeated by St. Jerome[268] in the fourth century with more than
necessary emphasis. All represent the Irish as having all their women
in common, and as more barbarous than the inhabitants of Britain,[269]
indeed, than any other people of Europe. Nor can it be pleaded that
these authors wrote in ignorance of the state of the country, for
Ptolemy's description of the coasts and of the interior, of the cities
and tribes shows an intimate acquaintance with the island which could
only be derived from observation.[270] Their own annals do not, it
is true, repeat these scandals; but nothing we now have can be said
to have been reduced to writing in anything like the form in which
we now possess it before the time of St. Patrick; and even that has
passed through edition after edition at the hands of patriotic Irishmen
before it assumed the form in which we now find it. Even these tell of
nothing but fighting and assassination, and of crimes of every sort
and kind. Even the highest title of one of their greatest kings, Conn
"of a hundred battles," is sufficiently indicative of the life which
he led, and the state of the country he governed. As we have every
reason to believe that the progress of Ireland was steadily and equably
progressive, it is evident that if it was so, a very short time prior
to what we find in the early centuries of Christianity would take us
back to the present state of the natives of Australia, and we should
find a condition of society when any combined effort was impossible. So
evident is this, not only from history, but from every inference that
can be gathered from the state of Ireland in subsequent ages, that the
wonder really is how such a people could have erected such monuments
as those we find on the banks of the Boyne in the early centuries of
our epoch. The answer is, of course, that the idleness of savages
is capable of wonderful efforts. A nation of men who have no higher
ambition than to provide for their daily wants, and who are willing to
submit to any tyrant who will undertake to supply these in order to
gratify his own pride or ambition, may effect wonders. The pyramids
of Egypt and the temples of southern India are examples of what may
be done by similar means. But to effect such things, the people must
be sufficiently organised to combine, and sufficiently disciplined to
submit; and we have no reason to suppose that in Ireland they were
either before the Christian era, and it is even very difficult to
understand how they came to be so far advanced even in the time of St.
Patrick. That they were so their works attest; but if we had to trust
to indications derived from history alone, the inference certainly
would be that the monuments are considerably more modern than the dates
above assigned to them; while it seems barely possible they should be
carried back to any earlier period.

       *       *       *       *       *

There may be other rude stone monuments in Ireland besides those
described or alluded to in the preceding pages, but they can scarcely
be very numerous or very important, or they could hardly have escaped
notice. They are not, consequently, likely to disturb any conclusion
that may be arrived at from the examination of those which are known.
From these, we may safely conclude that all, with perhaps the exception
of the Hazlewood monument, are certainly sepulchral; and all, unless
I am very much mistaken, were erected subsequently to the building of
Emania by Eochaidh Ollamb Fodlha in the third century B.C.
There may be cairns, and even dolmens, belonging to the earlier
Hiberni before the Scoti were driven from the Continent, by the Punic
or Roman wars, to seek refuge and repose in the green island of the
West, but they must be insignificant, and probably must remain for ever

From the date, however, of the founding of Emania we seem to have a
perfectly consecutive and intelligible series commencing with the
smaller and ruder cairns of Lough Crew, and rising at last to the
lordly sepulchres of Brugh na Boinne. Between these two stand the
monuments on the battle-fields of Moytura, and contemporary with the
last are the Raths on the far-famed hill of Tara. Beyond these we seem
to have the tomb of the four Moels, the so-called house of Calliagh
Birra, and the dolmens of Glencolumbkille, all apparently belonging
to the sixth century. The tumulus at Greenmount is later than any of
these, but hardly belongs to our Irish series.

From these we pass by easy gradations to the beehive cells and
oratories of the early Christians. No such stone dwellings probably
existed before the time of St. Patrick, or we should have found traces
of them at Tara, or Armagh, or Telltown; but as none such existed
in these royal seats of the Scots, we may fairly assume that for
domestic purposes wood and turf alone were used. But as soon as the
use of stone became prevalent for such purposes, as was the case with
the introduction of Christianity, we soon find the round towers, with
their accompanying churches, springing up in every corner of the land,
and Irish architecture progressing steadily in a groove of its own,
till its forms were modified, but not obliterated, by the changes
introduced by the English conquerors. The history of their style from
St. Patrick to the English conquerers has been so well written by
Petrie, that little now remains to be said about that division. But the
history of the preceding seven centuries still remains for some one
with the leisure requisite to explore the country, and with patience
and judgment sufficient to read aright the many enigmas which are
still involved in it, although the main outlines of the story seem
sufficiently clear and intelligible. If it were written out in detail
and fully illustrated, it would prove a most valuable commentary on
the dark period of the history of Ireland before the introduction of
Christianity, and when the concomitant introduction of alphabetic
writing first rendered her annals intelligible and trustworthy.

In one other respect the study of these early monuments of Ireland
seems to afford a subject of most engrossing interest. It is in Ireland
that we first begin to perceive the threefold division, which, if it
can be established, will lead to the most important ethnographical
determinations. It appears that in this island the stone circles of
the Scandinavians were introduced simultaneously with the dolmens of
the Iberians or Aquitanians, and we can trace the rude barrows of
the Celts growing up between them till they expanded into the great
mounds of the Boyne. That these three forms ever were at any one time
absolutely distinct is most unlikely, and equally so that they should
have long remained so in the same country, even if it could be shown
that at any one time they belonged to three separate races. Generally,
however, it seems hardly doubtful that they do point to ethnographic
peculiarities, which may become most important. Combined with their
history and a knowledge of their uses, these monuments promise to
rescue from oblivion one of the most curious chapters of Irish history,
which without them might remain for ever unwritten.

    [Footnote 201: Stokes, 'Life of Petrie;' London, 1868, p. 99 _et

    [Footnote 202: In the following pages it is proposed to follow the
    popular and pronounceable spelling of Irish proper names. One half
    of the difficulty of following the Irish annals is the unfamiliar
    and uncouth mode in which proper names are spelt, and which we
    learn, from Eugene O'Curry's lectures, never represents the mode
    in which they are pronounced. In a learned work intended for Irish
    scholars, like the 'Annals of the Four Masters,' the scientific
    mode of spelling is, of course, the only one that could be adopted,
    but in such a work as this it would be only useless and prejudicial

    [Footnote 203: 'Lough Corrib, its Shores and Islands.' Dublin,
    1867. Sir William possesses a residence on the battle-field, where
    I was hospitably entertained for some days when I visited that
    neighbourhood last year.]

    [Footnote 204: These, and all the particulars of the battle of
    South Moytura, are taken from the eighth chapter of Sir W. Wilde's
    book, pp. 211-248, and need not, therefore, be specially referred

    [Footnote 205: 'Annals of the Four Masters,' translated by J.
    O'Donovan, i. p. 23.]

    [Footnote 206: Eugene O'Curry's 'Materials for Ancient Irish
    History,' p. 246.]

    [Footnote 207: Stokes, 'Life of Petrie,' p. 253.]

    [Footnote 208: _l. c._ p. 242.]

    [Footnote 209: I regret very much that the state of my health,
    and other circumstances, prevented my mapping and drawing these
    remains, but I hope some competent person will undertake the task
    before long. Carrowmore is more easily accessible than Carnac.
    The inns at Sligo are better than those at Auray, the remains are
    within three miles of the town, and the scenery near Sligo is far
    more beautiful than that of the Morbihan; yet hundreds of our
    countrymen rush annually to the French megaliths, and bring home
    sketch-books full of views and measurements, but no one thinks of
    the Irish monuments, and no views of them exist that are in any way
    accessible to the public.]

    [Footnote 210: It is unfortunately only an eye-sketch, hurriedly
    taken, and thus not to be implicitly depended upon. The two stones
    outside, that look like the rudiments of the avenue, I take to mark
    only an external interment.]

    [Footnote 211: These, and several other photographs of the field
    and localities near it, were specially made for me by Mr. A.
    Sleater, 26, Castle-street, Sligo, who executed my commission both
    cheaply and intelligently.]

    [Footnote 212: O'Curry's 'Materials for Ancient Irish History,'
    Appendix xxv. p. 41.]

    [Footnote 213: "Meaba Regina occisa est a Furba dio filio Concobari
    7 Vespasiano," ii. p. 23.]

    [Footnote 214: Stokes, 'Life of Petrie,' p. 256.]

    [Footnote 215: Petrie's 'Round Towers,' p. 107.]

    [Footnote 216: It will be found at more length in E. O'Curry's
    'Materials for Ancient Irish History,' pp. 247-250.]

    [Footnote 217: It was, according to the same authorities, "during
    this interval that Lugh, the then reigning king, established
    the fair at Tailtean, in commemoration of his foster-mother,
    the daughter of Magh Mor, king of Spain," "This fair," adds Dr.
    O'Donovan, "continued famous down to the time of Roderic O'Conor,
    last monarch of Ireland; and the traditions of it are still so
    vivid, that Telltown was till recently resorted to by the men of
    Meath for hurling, wrestling, and manly sports." It would be a
    wonderful instance of the stability of Irish institutions if a
    fair, established in a miserable inland village eighteen centuries
    before Christ, should flourish through the middle ages, and hardly
    now be extinct! It may have been established about the Christian
    era, but certainly not before, and thus becomes another piece of
    evidence as to the date of the events we are describing.--'Annals
    of the Four Masters,' p. 23.]

    [Footnote 218: 'Mon. Hist. Brit.' xcviii.]

    [Footnote 219: Madsen, 'Antiquités préhistoriques du Danemark.'
    Copenhagen, 1869.]

    [Footnote 220: Sjöborg Samlingar för Nordens Fornälskare,' i. p.

    [Footnote 221: 'Materials for Ancient Irish History,' p. 250.]

    [Footnote 222: 'Annals of the Four Masters,' translated by J.
    O'Donovan, i. p. 21.]

    [Footnote 223: O'Curry, 'Materials for Ancient Irish History,' p.

    [Footnote 224: O'Connor, ii. p. 1. O'Curry, 'Materials for Ancient
    Irish History,' p. 63.]

    [Footnote 225: 'Tighernachi Ann.' O'Connor, p. 11-23.]

    [Footnote 226: 'Annals of the Four Masters,' i. p. 99.]

    [Footnote 227: 'Essay on the Ancient Architecture of Ireland,' by
    G. Petrie, pp. 97-109.]

    [Footnote 228: Could this be the great Rath close to the
    Netterville domain? See Sir W. Wilde, 'The Boyne and the
    Blackwater,' p. 211.]

    [Footnote 229: Tighernach, O'Connor, ii. p. 23, "Carcobarus filius
    Nessæ obiit hoc anno--33."]

    [Footnote 230: In the 'Annals of the Four Masters' (i. p. 89)
    there is a king called Eochaid Aireamb. "Ideo dictus," says Lynch,
    translating Keating, "quod tumulos effodi primus in Hiberniâ
    curavit." I have no doubt the etymology is correct, and the fact
    also; but it would hardly do to base our argument upon it, though
    it accords perfectly with the conclusion I have arrived at from
    other circumstances. He lived, according to the 'Four Masters,'
    118 B.C. According to the more correct Tighernach, 45

    [Footnote 231: The real name of the Daghda was, according to the
    'Four Masters,' Eochaidh Ollathair; and Eochaid, or Eochy, is
    one of the most common names in Irish history, and constantly

    [Footnote 232: Since the above was written I have been gratified
    to find so eminent an authority as Dr. Henthorn Todd, late
    President of the Royal Irish Academy, arriving, by a very different
    road, at very nearly the same conclusion:--"The Firbolgs, or
    Belgæ," he says, "invaded Ireland, not from France, but from
    Britain--Dumnonii, or Devon." "The conquest of Ireland was not much
    older than Cæsar's time, if it were not a good bit later, and was
    the first influx of civilization rude, indeed, but much superior to
    that of the Hiberni."--_Irish Nennius_, translated by J. H. Todd,
    D.D., Appendix C.]

    [Footnote 233: The principal one of these is the rath of Queen
    Meave, at some distance off. She, according to Tighernach,
    was slain by her stepson, in the seventh year of Vespasian,
    A.D. 75.]

    [Footnote 234: According to Tighernach, Cormac, the grandson of
    Conn of a Hundred Battles, commonly called Cormac Mac Art, reigned
    218-266 A.D.]

    [Footnote 235: 'Hist. and Ant. of Tara Hill.'--'Trans. R. I. A.'
    xviii. p. 212.]

    [Footnote 236: _Ibid._ xviii. pp. 81, 137, 170, &c.]

    [Footnote 237: 'Materials for Ancient Irish History,' Appendix ii.
    p. 463 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 238: _Ibid._ p. 29 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 239: 'Hist, and Ant. of Tara.'--'Trans. R. I. S.' xviii.
    p. 46.]

    [Footnote 240: Petrie, 'Round Towers,' 100 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 241: L. c. 105.]

    [Footnote 242: The Irish use ditch, as the Romans used vallum, or
    the Scotch dyke, to designate either a rampart or the hollow from
    which it was taken.]

    [Footnote 243: Quotation from 'Book of Geneal,' p. 251. Petrie,
    'Round Towers,' p. 107.]

    [Footnote 244: Sir W. Wilde, 'The Boyne and the Blackwater,' 1849,
    p. 188.]

    [Footnote 245: Rowland's 'Mona Antiqua,' p. 314.]

    [Footnote 246: 'Philosophical Transactions,' Nos. 335-336.]

    [Footnote 247: This is well illustrated in Sir W. Wilde's book, p.
    192, by a woodcut by Wakeman.]

    [Footnote 248: Wakeman, 'Handbook of Irish Antiquities,' p. 25.]

    [Footnote 249: In extenuation of this disfigurement, it must be
    explained that these Irish cairns are extremely difficult to
    explore without destroying them. Being wholly composed of loose
    stones, it is almost impossible to tunnel into them, and almost as
    difficult to sink shafts through them. The only plan seems to be to
    cut into them, and, when this is done, disfigurement is inevitable.]

    [Footnote 250: 'Archæologia,' xxx. pl. xii. p. 137.]

    [Footnote 251: Sir W. Wilde, 'The Boyne and the Blackwater,' p.

    [Footnote 252: 'Journal Royal Archæological Society,' xv. p. 270.]

    [Footnote 253: Petrie's 'Round Towers,' p. 105.]

    [Footnote 254: O'Curry's 'Materials for Irish History,' p. 636 _et
    seq._ So, too, even Tighernach adds, in the year 33:--"Concobares
    filius Nessæ obiit hoc anno."--_Ann._ p. 18.]

    [Footnote 255: 'Petrie's Life,' by Stokes, p. 256.]

    [Footnote 256: Eugene O'Curry, 'Materials,' &c., 314, 597.]

    [Footnote 257: This most valuable contribution, with his
    permission, is printed _in extenso_ in Appendix A.]

    [Footnote 258: "Croagh Patrick, a mountain in Mayo, is famous in
    legendary records as the scene of St. Patrick's final conflicts
    with the demons of Ireland. From its summit he drove them into the
    ocean, and completed their discomfiture by flinging his bell among
    their retreating ranks. Passing northward they emerged from the
    deep, and took up their abode in the savage wilds of Seang Cean,
    on the south-west of Donegal. Here they remained unmolested till
    our Tirconellian saint (Columba) was directed by an angel to rid
    the place of its foul inhabitants. After a violent struggle he
    completely routed them. His name was thenceforth associated with
    the tract, and the wild parish of Glen Columbkille preserves, in
    its topography and traditions, a living commentary on the legend of
    St. Columba," &c.--Reeves, _Vita St. Adam._, p. 206.]

    [Footnote 259: I cannot help thinking that the great rath at Dowth
    was formed by a similar process. It may not, therefore, after all,
    be a residential rath, as suggested above, but we are not yet in a
    position to speak positively on such matters.]

    [Footnote 260: 'Journal Kilkenny Archæo. Soc.' v. N. S. p. 479.]

    [Footnote 261: If, instead of this silly legend, we could connect
    this tomb with Brendanus Biorro, the founder of the monastery of
    Birra, now Parsonstown, it would be a step in the right direction.
    His date would accord perfectly with the architectural inferences;
    for, according to Tighernach, he died 573.[*] The difficulty is to
    believe that a Christian "propheta," as he is called, could have
    thought of so pagan a form of sepulchre. It is not easy, however
    to eradicate long-established habits, and his countrymen may not,
    within a century of St. Patrick's time, have invented and become
    reconciled to a new mode of burial. The Danes certainly buried
    in howes for centuries after their conversion, and the Irish may
    have been equally conservative. It is, however, hardly worth
    while arguing the question here, as we have nothing but a nominal
    similarity to go upon, which is never much to be relied upon.

    * Reeves, 'Vita Adamnani,' p. 210.]

    [Footnote 262: Eugene Conwell's pamphlet descriptive of the Lough
    Crew Tumuli, p. 2.]

    [Footnote 263: The following particulars are taken from a paper by
    General Lefroy, in the 'Archæological Journal,' No. 180, 1870, pp.
    281 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 264: My attention was first directed to this monument by
    Mr. Samuel Ferguson, Keeper of the Records, Dublin. He considered
    it then as the only cromlech in Ireland with an authenticated date;
    but, as he has not published this, I must not be considered as
    committing him to anything except beyond the desire of putting me
    on the scent of an interesting investigation.]

    [Footnote 265: There is a model of this curious structure in the
    Royal Academy Museum, Dublin, but not a correct one; and the
    woodcut in their catalogue, taken from the model, has still less
    pretensions to accuracy.]

    [Footnote 266: Diodorus, v. p. 32.]

    [Footnote 267: 'Geo.' iv. p. 201.]

    [Footnote 268: Ed. Valersii, i. p. 413; ii. p. 335.]

    [Footnote 269: Tacitus, 'Agricola,' p. 24.]

    [Footnote 270: Mercator, 'Geogra.' p. 31.]



Whatever may be the case as regards Ireland, it is probable that the
megalithic remains of Scotland are all known and have been described
more or less in detail. Such descriptions, however, as exist are
scattered through the pages of ponderous statistical compilations,
or in the transactions of learned societies in England and Scotland,
or in local journals, so that it is extremely difficult to acquire a
connected grasp of the whole subject, or to feel sure you do know all
that is required, and still more difficult to convey to others a clear
view of its outlines. Had any one done for the unsculptured stones
of Scotland what John Stuart has done for those that have devices
in them, the case would be widely different. Except Daniel Wilson's
'Prehistoric Annals of Scotland'--whatever that may mean--no general
account is available, and that work is too brief and too sparsely
illustrated to be of much use. The introductory matter, however, in
Mr. Stuart's two volumes,[271] with Mr. Wilson's book, may suffice for
most purposes; but a complete knowledge can only be obtained by wading
through the volumes of the Scotch and English Archæologias, and the
transactions and proceedings of the various antiquarian societies of
both countries.[272]

Putting aside for the present the sculptured stones as hardly belonging
to our subject, and the "cat" or battle stones, their predecessors,
though they are numerous, as might be expected among the pugnacious
Celtic races who inhabited the country, the remaining rude stone
monuments are not numerous. The free-standing dolmens are few and far
between, some half-dozen for the whole country, and none of them with
histories or traditions attached to them. The circles, however, are
numerous and important, and to some extent are calculated to throw
light on our investigations. If we exclude the two battle-fields of
Moytura, they are infinitely more numerous than those found in all
Ireland and Wales put together, although there is only one group, that
at Stennis in the Orkneys, that can compare with the great English

Their distribution too is interesting. No stone circles exist in
the lowlands or south of the Frith of Forth and Clyde; and dolmens
are rare in these regions, though this may arise from the extent to
which cultivation is carried on there. Until, however, a statistical
account is compiled, accompanied with a map, it is difficult to speak
confidently on such a subject, but the general impression is that the
lowlands are not, and never were, a region of megalithic remains;
and if this is so, it is one of the many proofs that the dolmens are
neither pre-Roman nor Celtic. At least we have no reason to believe
that the Teutonic races who now occupy that country were settled there
in the time of Agricola. But if the Celts or Picts who then inhabited
that land had been in the habit of raising megalithic structures, we
would have been more likely to find traces of them in that densely
inhabited country than in the bleak uplands of Aberdeenshire, or the
bare pastures of the Orkney Islands.

The district of Scotland where these circles and rude stone monuments
most abound is on either side of a straight line drawn direct from
Inverness to Aberdeen, which is a locality where sculptured stones are
also found in considerable numbers, but the rude stone monuments are
not found in Angus or Fife, where their sculptured successors are most
numerous. The district of the circles _par excellence_ in Scotland,
however, is not on the mainland at all, but in the northern and western
isles. The principal group is in the Orkneys; next in importance are
those in Lewes. They are found in Skye and Kantyre. There are several
in Arran, and thence the transition is easy to the Isle of Man, where
they meet the English group in Cumberland.

       *       *       *       *       *

The larger circles in the Orkneys are four in number; three of these
stand on a long slip of land that divides the loch of Harra from that
of Stennis. The fourth is at some little distance from the others,
and separated from them by a narrow strait connecting the two lochs.
Besides these there are several smaller earthen circles and numerous
tumuli. The largest circle, known as the Ring of Brogar,[273] is 340
feet (100 metres) in diameter between the stones. These originally were
sixty in number, ranging from 6 and 7 to 15 feet in height; outside the
stones runs a ditch about 30 feet in width, and 6 in depth, but with
no perceptible rampart on either side. Two causeways cross the ditch
as at Penrith or Arbor Low (woodcuts No. 29 and 30) opposite to one
another, but neither square with the axis of the spit of land on which
the circle is situated, nor facing any of the four cardinal points of
the heavens.

Next in importance to this is the circle at Stennis, about
three-quarters of a mile distant. It consisted originally of twelve
stones 15 to 18 feet in height. Only two are now erect, but a third was
so not many years ago; and the fourth, of which now only a fragment
remains, is represented as standing when the drawing, which forms the
frontispiece to this work, was made.[274] The remains of a dolmen still
exist within the circle, not however in the centre, but close to its
side, one of the stones of the circle apparently acting as head-stone
to it. Beyond the stone circle which measures 104 feet in diameter is
a ditch 50 feet wide, making the whole diameter of the monument to the
outward edge of the surrounding mound about 240 feet. Not far from this
circle, and close to the bridge of Brogar, stands a single monolith 18
feet in height, which is the finest and highest stone of the group; and
in another direction a lesser one, with a hole through it. Though only
8 feet high, 3 feet broad, and 9 inches thick, this stone has become
more famous than the others, from the use Sir Walter Scott makes of
it in the 'Pirate,' and because, till a very recent period, an oath
taken with hands joined through the hole in the Stone of Woden, was
considered even by the courts in Orkney as more than usually solemn and

[Illustration: 84. Circle at Stennis. From Lieutenant Thomas's plan.]

No excavations, so far as I know, have been attempted in the circle
of Stennis, but its ruined dolmen is probably sufficient to attest
its sepulchral character. Some attempts at exploration were made in
the larger Ring at Brogar, but without success. This is hardly to be
wondered at, for a man must feel very sure where to look, who expects
to find a small deposit in an area of two acres. The diggings are
understood to have been made in the centre. There, however, the ground
looks very like the undisturbed surface of the original moor, and as
if it had never been levelled or used either for interment or any
other human purpose, and slopes away irregularly some 6 feet towards
the loch. My impression is that the deposits, if any exist, will be
found near the outer circumference of the circle, either at the
foot of the stones as at Crichie, or outside the ditch as at Hakpen
or Stonehenge. In the smaller circles the diameter of which does not
exceed 100 feet, the deposit seems either to have been in the centre;
or, if at the sides, the stones were so arranged as to mark its place.
In the larger, or 100-metre circles, we have not yet ascertained where
to look. Accident may some day reveal the proper spot, but till it is
ascertained either scientifically or fortuitously, no argument can be
based on the negative evidence which our ignorance affords.

In the neighbourhood of these stone circles are several bowl-shaped
barrows similar to those in the neighbourhood of Stonehenge, not only
externally but internally. When opened they were almost all found to
contain interments by cremation and rude half-burnt pottery. It is not
here, however, that these barrows are found in the greatest numbers.
In the neighbouring parish of Sandwick they exist in hundreds, and
scattered exactly as on the Wiltshire downs, here and there, singly or
in pairs, without any apparent arrangement or grouping. It is said that
there are at least 2000 of these mole-hill barrows in the islands.[276]
Here, as there, it would seem, that where a man lived and died there
he was buried, without any reference to anything existing, or that had
existed. None of these barrows have stone circles of any sort attached
to them. Indeed, the only rude stone monuments in Orkney of the class
we are discussing are those just described, and they are all confined
to one remote inhospitable-looking spot. Close to these, however,
Lieutenant Thomas enumerates six or seven conoid barrows, whose form
and contents are of a very different nature. The bodies in them had
been buried entire without cremation, and with their remains were found
silver torques and other ornaments, similar as far as can be made
out--none are engraved--to those found in Skail Bay, along with coins
of Athelstane, 925, and of the Caliphs of Bagdad, of dates from 887 to
945.[277] That these conoid graves here, as well as others found in the
islands, are of Scandinavian origin, can hardly be doubted, and their
juxtaposition to the circles is at least suggestive. If the circles
were monuments of the Celts, whom they despised, and in fact had even
then exterminated, they would hardly choose a burying-place so close to

       *       *       *       *       *

The most important, however, of all the tumuli, not only in this
neighbourhood, but in the islands, is known as the Maes-Howe. It was
opened in 1861, in the presence of a select party of antiquaries from
Edinburgh, who had hoped from its external appearance to find it
intact: in this, however, they were disappointed. It would seem that
men of the same race as those who erected it, but who in the meanwhile
had been converted to Christianity, had apparently in the middle of the
twelfth century broken into this sepulchre of their Pagan forefathers,
and despoiled it of its contents. As some compensation for this, they
have written their names in very legible Runes on the walls of the
tomb, and recorded, in short sentences, what they knew and believed of
its origin.[278]

From these Runes we learn, in the first place, that the robbers were
Christian pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land--Iorsala Farer--from
which Professor Munch infers that they must have formed part of the
expedition organized for that purpose by Jarl Ragnvald, 1152. Beyond
this it is not possible to lay much stress on what these Runes tell
us. In the first place, because the learned men to whom they have been
submitted differ considerably in their interpretation,[279] and the
record, even in the best of them, is indistinct. In one or two respects
the evidence of the inscriptions may be considered satisfactory. Their
writers all seem to have known so perfectly what the tomb was, and
to whom it belonged, that no one cared to record, except in the most
poetic fashion, what every one on the spot probably knew perfectly
well. At all events, there is no allusion in these inscriptions to any
other or earlier race. Every expression, whether intelligible or not,
bears a northern stamp. Lothbrok, Ingeborg, and all the other names
introduced are Scandinavian, and all the allusions have a Northern
twang. Though this is merely negative evidence, it certainly goes some
way to show that the robbers were aware that the Howe was originally
erected by people of their own race. If, however, the direct evidence
of these inscriptions is inconclusive, there is one engraving on a
pillar facing the entrance which looks as if it were original, both
from its position and character. It represents a dragon (woodcut No.
85) of a peculiar Scandinavian type. A similar one is found on a stone
attached to the tumulus under which King Gorm was buried, at Jellinge,
in Denmark, in the middle of the tenth century. Making allowance for
the difference in drawing, they are so like that they cannot be very
distinct in date. A third animal of this species is found at Hunestadt,
in Scania,[280] and dating about the year 1150, but very different,
and very much more modern-looking than this one. Had the Jerusalem
pilgrims drawn this dragon, it would probably have been much more like
the Hunestadt example. On the other hand, if the one at Maes-Howe is
original, the age of the tomb can hardly be half a century distant
from that of King Gorm's Howe, which in other respects it very much
resembles. It is, however, very unlikely that Christian pilgrims would
draw a dragon like this, and still less that they would accompany it
with a Wurm, or Serpent-Knot, like that found on the same pillar; both
look like Pagan emblems, and seem to belong to the original decorations
of the tomb.

[Illustration: 85. Dragon in Maes-Howe.]

[Illustration: 86. Wurm-Knot, Maes-Howe.]

[Illustration: 87. Plan and Section of Maes-Howe. From Mr. Farrer's

Among the inscriptions in Maes-Howe is one which, from its apparent
insignificance, none of the interpreters have condescended to notice.
It will be observed on one of the loose stones lying in the foreground
on woodcut No. 88, it consists of only four letters, and reads either
HIAI or IKIH, according as it is turned one way or another. As it is
impossible to make a recognisable word, much less sense out of such
a combination, it is no wonder it was thrown aside; but it is just
because it is unintelligible that it may turn out to be valuable as an
index to the age of the monument. Nothing is more unlikely than that a
Iorsala Farer would have idly engraved these Runes on a loose stone,
but nothing more likely than that a mason who hewed the stone and
fitted it to close the "loculus" exactly, would have put a mark upon
it to show that it belonged to the right-hand chamber in which A or B
was to be buried. The inscription is on the inner edge of the stone,
where it would be hid when the stone was _in situ_, and most probably
was engraved on the stone before it was originally used to close the

This, at least, is an explanation of its meaning better than any other
which has yet been suggested, and if it is the correct one, this
inscription with the Dragon and the Wurm-Knot are among the original
sculptures of the tomb; and, if so, it will be difficult to assign it
to an earlier age than the tenth century, which, from the circumstances
to be mentioned hereafter, seems on the whole the most probable date.

[Illustration: 88. View of Chamber in Maes-Howe. From a drawing by Mr.

The architecture of the tumulus, though offering some indications of
great value, hardly possesses any features sufficiently marked to fix
its date with certainty. Externally it is a truncated cone (woodcut
No. 87), about 92 feet in diameter, by 36 feet in height, and is
surrounded at a distance of about 90 feet by a ditch 40 feet wide, and
6 feet deep, out of which the earth seems to have been taken which was
required to form the mound. Internally it contains a chamber slightly
cruciform in plan, measuring 15 feet 4 inches, by 14 feet 10 inches,
and, when complete, probably 17 feet in height. On each of three sides
of the chamber is a sepulchral loculus, entered by a small opening 3
feet from the ground. The largest of these, that on the right as you
enter, is 7 feet by 4 feet 6 inches, and the central one 5 feet 6
inches by 4 feet 6 inches. Each of these was closed by a single stone
carefully squared, so as to fit the opening. The passage leading into
the central chamber was 3 feet wide by 4 feet 6 inches in height, and
originally closed, apparently by a doorway at 2 feet 6 inches from the
chamber. Beyond this it is lined by two slabs 18 feet long, reaching
nearly to a recess, which seems arranged as if to receive the real door
which closed the sepulchre, probably a large stone. Beyond this the
passage still extends some 20 feet to the present entrance, but is of
very inferior class of masonry, and how much of it is modern is not

The first thing that strikes any one on examining this mound is that
it certainly is the lineal descendant of the great cairns on the
banks of the Boyne, but separated from them by a very long interval
of time. It is not easy to determine what interval must have elapsed
before the side chambers of those tombs merged into the "loculi" of
this, or how long it must have been before their rude unhewn masses
were refined into the perfectly well-fitted masonry of this one. Some
allowance must, however, be made for the difference of material. The
old red sandstone of the Orkneys splitting easily into self-faced
slabs, offers wonderful facilities for its use, but still the way in
which the angle-buttresses of the chamber were fitted, and the cells
finished, and the great slabs line the entrance, all show a progress in
masonic science that must have required centuries, assuming, of course,
that they were built by the same people. But was this so? So far as
we at present know, these islands, when conquered by Harold Harfagar
in 875, were inhabited by two races called Pape and Peti. The former
were generally assumed to have been colonies of Irish missionaries and
their followers, who settled here after the conversion of the Picts
by St. Columba in the middle of the sixth century. The Peti, it is
also generally assumed, were the Pechts, or Picts.[281] It will not be
easy to ascertain now whether they were so or not, as, according to
Bishop Tulloch, they were so entirely exterminated by the Northmen,
that of their "posteritie there remained nocht." But if the Pape, or
Papas were Irish missionaries, they were Christians, and whatever else
Maes-Howe may be, it certainly is not a place of Christian burial. Nor
is it Pictish. If it were, we certainly should find something like it
in Pictland proper; but nothing that can be at all compared with it
is found in Fife or Forfar, or in any of those countries which were
occupied by the Picts in the days of their greatness; and it is most
improbable that a people who could not, or at least did not, erect any
such sepulchre in the fertile and populous lands which they occupied
on the mainland, would erect such a one as this on a comparatively
barren and sparsely inhabited island. On the other hand, there seems
every reason for believing that the 2000 little barrows above alluded
to are the graves of the Picts, or original inhabitants of the island
before they were exterminated by the Northmen. These barrows, however,
have absolutely no affinity with Maes-Howe. None of them have chambers,
none have circles of stone round them; all are curvilinear, and none,
indeed, show anything to induce the belief that in any length of time
they would be developed into such a sepulchre as that which we have
been describing. It is in fact the story of Stonehenge and its barrows
over again. A race of Giants superseding a nation of Pigmies with which
they certainly had no blood affinities, and erecting among their puny
sepulchres monuments dedicated, it may be, to similar purposes, but as
little like them in reality as the great cathedrals of the middle ages
are to the timber churches of the early Saxons.

Only one hypothesis seems to remain, which is that it is a tomb of
the northern men who conquered these islands in the ninth century.
This may seem a very prosaic descent from the primæval antiquity some
are inclined to ascribe to these monuments, but it certainly is not
improbable; in the first place, because we have what seems undoubted
testimony that Thorfin, one of the Jarls (940 to 970 A.D.)
"was buried on Ronaldshay under a tumulus, which was then known by
the name of Haugagerdium, and is perhaps the same as that we now call
the How of Hoogsay," or Hoxay.[282] I have not been able to ascertain
whether this is literally true or not, but have reason to believe that
it was not in the How of Hoxay that Thorfin was buried, but in a mound
close by.[283] The fact of his being buried in a Howe is, however, all
that is at present demanded. Another important barrow is mentioned by
Professor Munch,[284] known as Halfdan's Barrow, in Sandy, and raised
by Torf Einar (925 to 936). So that we know of at least two important
barrows belonging to the Norwegian Jarls in the tenth century, though
only one has been identified with absolute certainty. As before
mentioned, it is quite certain that King Gorm (died 950) and Thyra of
Denmark were buried in tumuli in outward appearance very similar to
Maes-Howe. That of Queen Thyra has alone been opened. It is a chamber
tomb, similar to Maes-Howe, except in this, that the chamber in Denmark
is formed with logs of wood, in the Orkneys with slabs of stone, but
the difference is easily accounted for. At Jellinge stone is rare,
and the country was covered with forests. At Stennis self-faced slabs
of stone were to be had for the lifting, and trees were unknown. The
consequence was, that workmen employed the best material available to
carry out their purpose. Be that as it may, the fact that kings of
Denmark and Jarls of Orkney were buried in Howes in the tenth century,
takes away all _à priori_ improbability from the hypothesis that
Maes-Howe may be a sepulchre of one of those Northmen.

If this is so, our choice of an occupant lies within very narrow
limits. We cannot well go back beyond the time of Harold Harfagar
(876 to 920), who first really took possession of these islands, as
a dependency of Norway, and created Sigurd the elder first Jarl of
Orkney in 920. Nor can we descend below the age of the second Sigurd,
who became Earl in 996, as we know he was converted by Olaus to
Christianity, and was killed at Clontarf in 1014.[285] Within these
seventy-six years that elapsed between 920 and 996 there is only one
name that seems to meet all the exigencies of the case, and in a manner
that can hardly be accidental. Havard "the happy," one of the sons of
Thorfin, who was buried at Hoxay, was slain at Stennis in 970. Havard
had married Raguhilda, the daughter of Eric Blodoxe, prince of Norway,
and widow of his brother Arfin, but she, tired of her second husband,
stirred up one of his nephews against him, and a battle was fought at
Stennis, on a spot, says Barry, "which afterwards bore the name of
Havardztugar, from the event or the slaughter."[286] The same story is
repeated by Professor Wilson as follows, "Olaf Tryguesson, says Havard,
was then at Steinsnes in Rossey. There was meeting and battle about
Havard, and it was not long before the Jarl fell. The place is now
called Havardsteiger. So it was called, and so M. Petrie writes me, it
is still called by the peasantry to the present day."[287] Professor
Munch, of Christiania, who visited the place in 1849, arrived at the
conclusion "that most of the grave mounds grouped around the Brogar
circle are, probably, memorials of this battle, and perhaps one of the
larger that of Havard Earl."[288] In this I have no doubt he is right,
but that larger one I take to be Maes-Howe, which is in sight of the
circle, though not so close to it as those he was speaking of.

One circumstance which at first sight renders this view of the case
more than probable is, that Maes-Howe is, so far as we at present know,
unique. Thorfin's grave, when found, may be a chambered tumulus, so may
Halfdan's Barrow, when opened, but no others are known in Orkney. If
it had been the tomb of a king or chief of any native dynasty, similar
sepulchres must have been as numerous as they were on the banks of the
Boyne or Blackwater. There must have been a succession of them, some
of greater, some of less magnificence. Nothing of the sort, however,
occurs, and till more are found, the Stennis group cannot be ascribed
to a dynasty that lasted longer than the seventy-six years just quoted.
That brief dynasty must also have been the most splendid and the
most powerful of all that reigned in these islands, as no tomb there
approaches Maes-Howe in magnificence. If such a description suits any
other race than that of the Norwegian Jarls, I do not know where to
look for an account of it.

Assuming for the present that this is so, we naturally turn to the
Runic inscriptions on the walls of the tomb to see how far they
confirm or refute this view. Unfortunately there is nothing in them
very distinct either one way or the other. The only recognizable names
are those of Lothbrok and Ingiborg. The former, if the Lothbrok of
Northumbrian notoriety, is too early; the Ingiborg, if the wife of
Sigurd the Second, is too late, though, as the first Christian countess
of Orkney, her name may have got mixed up in some way with the tomb
of the last Pagan Jarl. But should we expect to find any sober record
of the date and purposes of the Howe in any of the scribblings on the
walls? The English barbarians who write their names and rhymes on the
walls of the tombs around Delhi and Agra do not say this is the tomb
of Humayoon, or Akbar, or of Etimad Doulah, or Seyed Ahmed. They write
some doggerel about Timour the Tartar, or the Great Mogul, or some
wretched jokes about their own people. The same feeling seems to have
guided the Christian Northmen in their treatment of the tomb of their
Pagan predecessor, and though, consequently, we find nothing that can
fairly be quoted as confirming the view that it is the tomb of Havard,
there is nothing that can be assumed as contradicting it.

One inscription may, however, be considered as throwing some light on
the subject. In XIX.XX. it is related, though in words so differently
translated by the various experts to whom it was submitted, that it
is difficult to quote them, that "much fee was found in the Orkhow,
and that this treasure was buried to the north west," adding, "happy
is he who may discover this great wealth."[289] A few years ago a
great treasure was found to the north-west of Maes-Howe, in Skail Bay,
just in such a position as a pirate on his way to the Holy Land would
hide it, in the hope, on his return, to dig it up and take it home;
but shipwreck or fever may have prevented his doing this. With this
treasure were found, as mentioned above, coins of Athelstane of the
date of 925, and of the Caliphs of Bagdad, extending to 945, just such
dates as we should expect in a tomb of 970, recent, but not the most
recent coins. Connecting these with the silver torques found in the
conoid barrows around the Ring of Brogar, we seem to have exactly such
a group of monuments as the histories above quoted would lead us to
expect, and which with their contents belong almost certainly to the
age above assigned to them.

Had Maes-Howe been an old sepulchre of an earlier race, when the
Northmen ravaged the western islands in the early part of the ninth
century, it is most improbable that they would have neglected to break
into the "Orkhow." The treasures which Amlaff and his Danes found in
the mounds on the banks of the Boyne would certainly have stimulated
these explorers to see what was contained in the Orcadian tumulus.
Had they done this, the Jerusalem pilgrims would not, three centuries
later, have been able to record that "much fee" was found in the tomb,
and was buried to the north-west, apparently in Skail Bay. The whole
evidence of the inscriptions, in so far as it goes, tends to prove that
the tomb was intact when broken into in the twelfth century. If this is
so, nothing is so unlikely as that it could have remained unrifled if
existing before the year 861, as a Celtic sepulchre. On the other hand,
nothing seems more probable than that Christian Northmen would have
plundered the grave of one of their Pagan ancestors, whom they knew had
been buried "with much fee" in this tumulus two centuries before their
time. Two hundred years, it must be recollected, is a very long time
among an illiterate people. A long time, indeed, among ourselves, with
all our literary aids; and when we add to this the change of religion
that had taken place among the Northmen in the interval, we need not
be surprised at any amount of ignorance of history or contempt for
the customs of their Pagan forefathers on the part of the Jerusalem
pilgrims. The time, at all events, was sufficiently long fully to
justify Christian robbers in helping themselves to the treasures of
their Pagan forefathers.

Even assuming, however, that Maes-Howe is the tomb of Havard, or of
some other of the Pagan Norwegian Jarls of Orkney, the question still
remains whether it has any, and, if any, what connexion with the two
circles in the immediate neighbourhood?[290]

Locally, the Howe and the circles certainly form one group. No such
tumuli, and no such circles exist in other parts of the islands,
and the spot is so inhospitable, so far from any of the centres of
population in the island, that it is difficult to conceive why it
should have been chosen, unless from the accident of being the scene
of some important events. If Havard was slain here, which there seems
no reason for doubting, nothing seems more probable than that one of
his surviving brothers, Liotr or Laudver, should have erected a tumulus
over his grave, meaning it also to be a sepulchre for themselves. On
the other hand, it is extremely unlikely that the six or seven other
tumuli which are admitted to be of Scandinavian origin should have
gathered round the Ring of Brogar if it had been a Pagan fane of the
despised Celts, who preceded them in the possession of the island. It
cannot be necessary here to go over the questions again, whether a
few widely spaced stones stuck up around a circle one hundred metres
in diameter was or was not a temple. It is just such a monument as
1000 victorious soldiers could set up in a week. It is such as the
inhabitants of the district could not set up in years, and would not
attempt, because, when done, it would have been absolutely useless to
them for any purpose either civil or religious; and if it is not, as
before said, a ring in which those who fell in battle were buried, I
know not what it is. The chiefs, in this case, would be buried in the
conoid barrows close around, the Jarl in the neighbouring howe.

As Stennis is mentioned in the Sagas that give an account of Havard's
death, it probably existed there, and was called by the simple
Scandinavian name which the Northmen gave to all this class of stone
monuments. None, so far as I know, have retained a Celtic denomination.
Assuming it to be earlier, it still can hardly be carried back beyond
the year 800. The earliest date of the appearance of the Northmen in
modern times is in the year 793 in the 'Irish Annals,' where mention
is made of a "vastatio omnium insularum a Gentibus."[291] In 802,
and again in 818, they harried Iona,[292] and from that time forward
seem constantly to have conducted piratical expeditions along these
coasts, until they ended by formally occupying the Orkneys under Harold
Harfagar. Though smaller in diameter, Stennis has a grander and a more
ancient look than Brogar, and may even be a century or two older, and
be a monument of some chief who fell here in some earlier fight. That
it is sepulchral can hardly be a matter of doubt from the dolmen inside
its ring.

Connected with the circle at Stennis is the holed stone[293] alluded to
above, which seems to be a most distinct and positive testimony to the
nationality of this group of monuments.

It is quite certain that the oath to Woden or Odin was sworn by persons
joining their hands through the hole in this ring stone, and that an
oath so taken, although by Christians, was deemed solemn and binding.
This ceremony was held so very sacred in those times, that the person
who dared to break the engagement made there was accounted infamous and
excluded from society.[294] Principal Gordon, in his 'Journey to the
Orkney Islands' in 1781, relates the following anecdote:--"The young
man was called before the session, and the elders were particularly
severe. Being asked by the minister the cause of so much severity, they
answered, 'You do not know what a bad man this is; he has broken the
promise of Odin,' and further explained that the contracting parties
had joined hands through the hole in the stone."[295]

Such a dedication of a stone to Woden seems impossible after their
conversion of the Northmen to Christianity about the year 1000, and
most improbable if the monument was of Celtic origin, and existed
before the conquest of the country 123 years earlier. If the Northmen
had not hated and despised their predecessors they would never have
exterminated them; but while engaged in this work is it likely they
would have adopted one of their monuments as especially sacred, and
followed up one of their customs, supposing this to have been one,
though there is absolutely no proof in a holed stone being used in any
Celtic cemetery for any such purpose? The only solution seems to be
that the monument, with this accompaniment, was erected between the
conquest of the country and the conversion of the conquerors, and, like
many ancient rites, remained unchanged through ages, not as adopted
from the conquered races, but because their forefathers had practised
it from time immemorial in their native land. On any other hypothesis
it seems impossible that so purely Pagan a rite could have survived
through eight centuries of Christianity, and still be considered sacred
by those whose ancestors had worshipped Wodin in the old times many
centuries before these stones were erected in the islands.

All this seems so clear and consistent, that it may be assumed that
this group of monuments were erected between the year 800 and 1000
A.D., till, at least, some argument is brought forward leading
to a certain conclusion. At present I know of only one which tends
to make me pause: it is a curious one, and arises from the wonderful
similarity that exists between this and some of the greater English
groups. Take, for instance, Stanton Drew (ante, p. 149). It consists of
a great circle 340 feet in diameter, the same as the Ring of Brogar,
and of a smaller circle within three feet of the dimensions of that
of Stennis (101 against 104), both the latter possess a dolmen, not
in the centre, but on its edge, the only essential difference being
that the great ring at Stanton had twenty-four stones, and the smaller
one eight, as against sixty and twelve in the northern example; this,
however, may arise from the one being in a locality so much more stony
than the other, and it must be confessed the Stanton stones look older,
but this also may arise from the different nature of the rocks from
which they were taken.

The Ring of Bookan answers to the circle in the orchard; the Watch
or King Stone at Stennis to Hautville's Quoit. Even the names are
the same, "ton" and "ness" being merely descriptive of the townland,
and the long slip of land on which they are respectively situated,
and Maes-Knoll looks down on the one, and Maes-Howe into the other.
The only thing wanted is a ring stone in the Somersetshire example,
but that might easily have disappeared, and there is one at Avebury.
Some of these coincidences may, of course, be accidental, but they
are too numerous and too exact to be wholly so. If at all admitted,
they seem to force us to one of two conclusions: either the time which
elapsed between the ages of the two monuments is less than the previous
reasoning would lead us to suppose, or the persistence in these forms,
when once adopted, was greater than, on other grounds, it seems
reasonable to expect. Three or four centuries seem a long time to have
elapsed between buildings, the style of which is so nearly identical.
If, however, their dates are to be brought nearer to one another, it
seems much more reasonable to bring Stanton Drew down, than to carry
Stennis back. It is much more consistent with what we know, to believe
that Stanton Drew was erected by Hubba and his Danes, than that the
Orkney circles and Maes-Howe could have been the work of the wretched
Pape and Peti, who inhabited the island before the invasion of the

As this is the last of the great groups containing first-class circles,
which we shall have to deal with in the following pages, it may be
well to try and sum up, in as few words as possible, the points of the
evidence from which we arrive at the conclusion that it may be of the
date above assigned to it:--

1. History is absolutely silent either for or against this theory. In
so far as the _litera scripta_ is concerned, it may either have been
erected by the Phœnicians or in the time of the Stuarts.

2. The Danish theory is of no avail. No flint, bone, or bronze or iron
implements have been found in a position to throw any light on its age.

3. There are in the islands some thousands of small mole-hill
barrows--insignificant, stoneless, unadorned.

4. All parts of the Stennis group show design and power, and produce an
effect of magnificence.

5. It seems evident that the circles and the barrows belong to two
different peoples.

6. If so, the barrows belong to the Peti and Pape; the large howes and
the stone monuments to the Northmen.

7. If this is so, the latter belong to the two centuries comprised
between 800 and 1000 A.D.

8. Maes-Howe, being unique, must have belonged to the shortest, but
most magnificent dynasty in the Island.

9. With regard to Havard. He was killed on, or close to the spot where
Maes-Howe now stands.

10. His father, Thorfin, was buried in a howe in Ronaldshay. His
contemporary, Gorm, was buried in a howe at Jellinge.

11. A dragon and serpent were carved in Gorm's tomb. Similar
representations were found in Maes-Howe.

12. The four Runic letters on the closing stone of the right-hand
loculus, date probably from its first erection.

13. All the subsequent inscriptions on the tomb acknowledge it as a
Scandinavian monument.

14. The mention of treasure being found in it in 1152 goes far to show
that it did not exist in 861, or it would then have been robbed by the
Northmen, as the Irish tombs were.

15. It is extremely probable that the Skail Bay "find" is part of this
treasure, which is not earlier than 945, and may be twenty or forty
years later.

16. The torques found in the six large tumuli at Brogar belong to the
same age.

17. The Holed Stone at Stennis was certainly set up by Northmen and by
them dedicated to Woden, and it certainly forms part of the group.

18. The name Havard's Steigr, attaching to the place at the present
day, is important.

Against this, I know of only one argument: _Omne ignotum pro antiquo_;
which, for reasons, given above, I reject.

If such a case were submitted to anyone, regarding a monument of
which we had never heard before, no one would probably hesitate in
considering the case as proved, till, at least, something more to the
point could be brought forward on the other side. Such, however, is
the effect of education, and so strong the impression on the minds of
most Englishmen with regard to Phœnicians and Druids, that nine
people out of ten will probably reject it; some alleging that it must
be an unfair, others that it is an inconclusive statement. Let them try
and state their view in as few words, and I do not believe it will be
difficult to judge between the two cases.


The next in importance after those of Stennis among the Scottish group
of circles is that at Callernish, in the Isle of Lewis. They are
situated at the inner end of Loch Roag, on the western coast of the
island, and consequently more remote from the routes of traffic or
the centres of Pictish or Celtic civilization than even the Orcadian
groups. The country, too, in their neighbourhood is of the wildest
and most barren description, and never could have been more densely
inhabited than now, which is by a sparse population totally unequal to
such monuments as these.

[Illustration: 89. Monument at Callernish. From a plan by Sir Henry

The group consists of three or four circles, situated near to one
another, at the head of the bay. They are of the ordinary form, 60
to 100 feet in diameter, and consequently not remarkable for their
dimensions, nor are they for the size of the stones of which they are
composed. One of them, which had been covered up with peat-moss, was
excavated some years ago, and a number of holes were found, filled,
it is said, with charcoal of wood;[296] but the account is by no
means satisfactory. About a mile to the westward of the three, on
the northern shore of Loch Roag, stands the principal monument. This
consists of a circle[297] 42 feet in diameter. In the centre of this is
a tall stone, about 17 feet high, which forms the head-stone of a grave
of a somewhat cruciform plan; but it is in fact only the tricameral
arrangement common in tumuli in Caithness and other parts of the north
of Scotland.[298] It apparently was covered originally by a little
cairn of its own; but this had disappeared, and the tomb emptied of its
contents at some period anterior to the formation of the peat which had
accumulated round the stones, and which was removed a few years ago
by Sir James Matheson when this grave was first discovered. From the
central stone a double avenue extends 294 feet, and from the same point
southward, a single row for 114 feet; making the whole length of the
avenues 408 feet; while two arms extend east and west, measuring 130
feet across the whole.

I believe it was John Stuart that first made the remark:--"Remove
the cairn from New Grange, and the pillars would form another
Callernish;"[299] and there seems little doubt but that this is the
true explanation of the peculiar form of the monument. Nor is it
difficult to see why this should be the case; for it must be borne in
mind that the whole of the chambers and the access to them must have
been constructed, and probably stood, naked for some time before they
began to heap the cairn over them. Calliagh Birra's tomb (woodcut No.
80), and the numerous "Grottes des fées" we meet with in France and
elsewhere I look on as chambers, some of which it was intended should
be buried in tumuli, which, however, never were erected: others,
when men had become familiar with the naked forms, were like many
dolmens, never intended to be hidden. It may be a mere fancy; but I
cannot escape from an impression that, in many instances at least, the
chambers were constructed during their lifetime by kings or chiefs
as their own tombs, and that the cairn was not raised over them till
the bodies were deposited in their recesses. This, at least, is the
case in the East, where most of the great tombs were erected by those
who were to lie in them. During their lifetime they used them as
pleasure-houses, and only after their death were the entrances walled
up and the windows obscured, so as to produce the gloom supposed to
be appropriate to the residences of the dead. Another point is worth
observing. It seems most improbable that sculptures, such as are found
in the Irish and French chambered tumuli, could have been executed by
artificial light. Either the stones were sculptured before being put
into their places--which, to say the least of it, is very unlikely; or
they were sculptured while the light could still penetrate through the
interstices of the stones forming the walls. In any case, however, the
naked forms of these chambers must have been perfectly familiar with
those who used them; and there is no difficulty in understanding why,
as at Carrowmore or Callernish, they should have repeated the same
forms which were certainly never intended to be covered up.

From the occurrence of a similar form at Northern Moytura (woodcut No.
59), used externally also, it may be argued that this may be of the
same age. The Irish example, as explained above, is probably of the
same age as the great chambered tumuli of Meath; but there seems to be
a difference between the two, which would indicate a very different
state of affairs.

At Moytura, the covering stones, though thrown down, still exist, and
there is every appearance of direct imitation. At Callernish, the
size, the wide spacing, the pointed form of the stones, and the whole
structure exhibit so marked a difference from anything that could be
intended to be covered up, that it certainly appears as if a long time
had passed before the original use of the form could have been so
completely overlooked as it has been in this instance. Everyone must
determine for himself how many centuries he would interpose between
New Grange and Callernish. To me it appears that an interval of very
considerable duration must have elapsed between them.

At Tormore, on the west coast of the Isle of Arran, there is a third
group of these monuments, more numerous, but not on so large a scale
as those of Stennis or Callernish. These were all carefully examined
by Dr. Bryce, of Glasgow, assisted by a party of archæologists, in
1864, and the results recorded in the 'Proceedings of the Scottish
Antiquaries,'[300] and also in a small work on the Geology of
Arran.[301] All were found to contain sepulchral remains, except one
which had been rifled, but there the cist still remained. The principal
circle is now represented by only three upright stones, from 18 to 20
feet in height; but they originally formed parts of a circle 60 feet
in diameter. Two other circles can be traced, and two kistvaens of
considerable dimensions, and two obelisks on the high ground, which
apparently formed parts either of circles or of some other groups of

Though not so large as the other two groups named above, this one at
Tormore is interesting because it affords fair means of testing whether
these groups were cemeteries, or marked battle-fields. Here the two
principal circles are situated on a peat moss which extends to some
feet, at least, below the bottom of the pillars, and the sepulchral
deposits were found in the peat. Others of these Tormore monuments are
situated where the peat joins the sandy soil, and others are situated
on the summit of the sandy hills, which here extend some way in from
the shore. Now it seems hardly probable that such a diversity of taste
should have existed in any line of princes. If the peat was chosen
as a resting-place for some, it probably would have been for all.
If elevated sandy hillocks were more eligible for that purpose, why
should some have chosen the bog? and if a cemetery, why not all close
together? They extend for about half a mile east and west at a distance
of about a mile from the shore, and on about as desolate a plain as one
could find anywhere. If a battle was fought here against some enemy who
had landed in the bay, and those who were killed in it were interred
where they fell, all the appearances would be easily explained; but
it is difficult to guess who the chiefs or princes could be who were
buried here, if they had leisure to select their last resting-place, or
why they should have been buried in this scrambling fashion.

There are the remains of two other circles and one obelisk in Brodick
Bay, on the other side of the island, but widely scattered, and with
nothing to indicate their purpose. There are also other circles and
detached standing stones in the Mull of Cantyre, up to the Crinan
Canal; but the published maps of the Ordnance Survey do not extend so
far, and such accounts as have been published are too vague to admit of
any conclusions being drawn from them either as to their age or uses.

The Aberdeenshire circles, above alluded to, differ in some respects
from those found in other parts of the country, and are thus described
by Colonel Forbes Leslie, in a Paper read to the British Association
this year:--"The principal group of stones in these circles always
contains one stone, larger than the rest, which in different monuments
varies from 11 to 16 feet in length, and from 2 to 6 in breadth. It is
never placed upright; but close at each end of this recumbent monolith
stand two columnar stones; these vary in height from 7 to 10 feet, and
have generally been selected of a pyramidal form. From the face, and
near the ends of the recumbent stone, two stones project about 4 feet
into the circle, and the recess thus formed is occupied by a stone laid
flat on the ground.

"In several of these circles a raised platform, 5 or 6 feet broad, and
18 or 24 inches high, can be traced. This has been supported on the
outer side by a low wall connecting the columnar stones, which are
disposed at equal distances on the circumference. The inner side of
the platform has been supported by stones little more than its height,
placed near each other.

"Circles of this sort are found at Aquhorties, Tyrebagger, Balquhain,
Rothiemay, Parkhouse, near Deer, Daviot, New Craig, Dunadeer, &c.,
in Aberdeenshire. There is also a circle on the "Candle Hill of Old
Rayne,"[302] within sight of which, on the slope of a ridge about a
mile distant, stood the two sculptured stones now at Newton,--on one
of which is the unique alphabetical inscription; and on the other
a serpent, with the broken sceptre, surmounted by the double disk,
usually called the Spectacle Ornament."

Their general arrangement will be understood from the woodcut overleaf,
representing one at Fiddes Hill, figured in the fifth volume of
'Archæologia,' which may be taken as a type of the rest. The sepulchral
deposit here, is no doubt, in the raised part, in front of the great
stone, and not in the centre,--a peculiarity we have already had
occasion to remark upon in the smaller circles at Stanton Drew and
Stennis. This, however, does not seem to have been always the case. The
circle, for instance, at Rayne, above alluded to, was excavated under
the superintendence of Mr. Stuart,[303] and found to contain in its
centre a pit, in which were "a quantity of black mould, incinerated
bones, and some bits of charcoal. Fragments of small urns were also
found, and all the usual accompaniments of a sepulchral deposit."
In concluding his account of it, Mr. Stuart says:--"It is worthy of
remark, that on the 2nd of May, 1349, William, Bishop of Aberdeen, held
a court at the Standing Stones of Rayne, at which the King's Justiciar
was present" ('Regst. Episc. Aberd.' vol. i. p. 79, Spald. Club). Thus
clearly proving not only the sepulchral nature of the circles, but the
use that was subsequently made of them.

[Illustration: 90. Circle at Fiddes Hill, 46 feet in diameter.]

If we may connect these stones at Rayne with the Newton stones, as
Colonel Forbes Leslie is inclined to do, we obtain a proof of a
post-Christian date for this sepulchral circle, as well as a mediæval
use; and though I have no doubt that all this is correct, the mere
juxtaposition of the sculptured stones and the circle hardly seems
sufficient to rely upon.

In the Appendix to the Preface of the first volume of the 'Sculptured
Stones,' Mr. Stuart records excavations made in some fourteen circles,
similar, or nearly so, to this one at Rayne; and in all sepulchral
deposits, more or less distinct, were found. In some, as in that of
Crichie, before alluded to, a sepulchral deposit was found at the
foot of each of the six stones which surrounded it. Like many of our
English circles, this last was surrounded by a moat, in this instance
20 feet wide and 6 feet deep, crossed by two entrances, as is Arbor
Low and the Penrith circle, and within the moat stood the stones. As a
general rule, it may be asserted that all the Scotch circles, having
a diameter not exceeding 100 feet, when scientifically explored, have
yielded evidences of sepulchral uses. Such, certainly, is the result
of Mr. Stuart's experience, as detailed above; of Dr. Bryce's, in
Arran; of Mr. Dyce Nicol[304] and others, in Kincardine; and elsewhere.
Colonel Forbes Leslie informs me that he has not been so fortunate
in some of those he mentioned in his lecture, which he either opened
himself or learnt the details of on the spot. Some of these he admits,
however, had been opened before, others disturbed by cultivation;
and altogether his experiences seem to be exceptional, and far from
conclusive. The preponderance of evidence is so overwhelming on the one
side, that we may be perfectly content to wait the explanation of such
exceptional cases as these.

The Aberdeenshire circles are all found scattered singly, or at most in
pairs, in remote and generally in barren parts of the country; so that
it is evident they neither marked battle-fields nor even cemeteries,
but can only be regarded as the graves of chiefs, or sometimes, it may
be, family sepulchres. There is one group, however, at Clava, about
five miles east from Inverness, which is of more than usual interest,
but regarding which the published accounts are neither so full nor so
satisfactory as could be wished.[305]

According to Mr. Innes, the ruins of eight or nine cairns can still
be distinguished, though the whole of the little valley or depression
in which they are situated seems strewn with blocks which may have
belonged to others, but which the advancing tide of cultivation has
swept away. The most perfect of those now remaining are three at the
western end of the valley, the two outer and larger cairns stand
about 100 yards apart. They are of stone, about 70 feet in diameter,
surrounded by a circle of upright stones measuring 100 feet across.
The intermediate one is smaller, being only 50 feet, with a circle
80 feet in diameter.[306] The two extreme ones have been opened, and
found to contain circular chambers about 12 feet in diameter, and 9 in
height, with passages leading to them about 15 feet long and 2 feet
wide; and in two or three instances the stones in them were adorned
with cup-marking, though it does not appear that they were otherwise
sculptured.[307] In that to the west two sepulchral urns were found,
just below the level of the original soil. They were broken, however,
in extracting them; and they do not appear to have been put together
again or drawn, so that no conclusions can be deduced from them as to
the age of the cairns.

[Illustration: 91. Plan of Clava Mounds. From Ordnance Survey. 25 inch

[Illustration: 92. View of Clava Mounds. From a drawing by Mr. Innes.]

Meagre as this information is, it is sufficient to show that Clava
does not mark a battle-field. Carefully-constructed chambers with
horizontally-vaulted roofs are not such monuments as soldiers erect
in haste over the graves of their fallen chiefs. It evidently is a
cemetery; and, with the knowledge we have acquired from the examination
of those in Ireland, there cannot be much hesitation in ascribing it
to that dynasty which was represented by King Brude, when St. Columba,
in the sixth century, visited him in his "Munitio," on the banks of
the Ness.[308] If King Brude were really converted to Christianity
by Columba, it is by no means improbable that the small square
enclosure at the west end of the "heugh," which is still used as the
burying-place of Pagan, or at least unbaptized babies, marked the spot
where he and his successors were laid after the race had been weaned
from the more noble burial-rites of their forefathers.

It would be extremely interesting to follow out this inquiry further,
if the materials existed for so doing; as few problems are more
perplexed, and at the same time, of their kind, more important, than
the origin of the Picts, and their relations with the Irish and the
Gaels. Language will not help us here: we know too little of that
spoken by the Picts; but these monuments certainly would, if any
one would take the trouble to investigate the question by a careful
comparison of all those existing in Scotland and Ireland.

[Illustration: 93. Stone at Coilsfield.]

In the south of Scotland, for instance, we find such a stone as this
at Coilsfield, on the Ayr,[309] which, taking the difference of
drawing into account, is identical with that represented in woodcut
No. 71. There is the same circle, the same uncertain, wavy line,
and generally the same character. Another was found at Annan-street,
in Roxburghshire, and is so similar in pattern and drawing that if
placed in the chamber in the tumuli of New Grange, or Dowth, no one
would suspect that it was not in the place it was originally designed
for.[310] But no sculptures of that class have yet, at least, been
brought to light in Pictland, or, in other words, north of the Forth,
on the east side of Scotland.

[Illustration: 94. Front of Stone at Aberlemmo, with Cross.]

[Illustration: 95. Back of Stone at Aberlemmo.]

The sculptured stones of the Picts are, however, quite sufficient to
prove a close affinity of race between the two peoples, but always
with a difference, which is evident on even a cursory examination.
To take one instance. There is a very beautiful stone at Aberlemmo,
near Brechin, which is said to have been put up to record the victory
gained over the Danes at Loncarty, in the last years of the tenth
century.[311] Be this as it may, there seems no reason for doubting
that it is a battle-stone, and does belong to the century in which
popular tradition places it. On the front is a cross, but, like all
in Scotland, without breaking the outline of the stone, which still
retains a reminiscence of its Rude form. In Ireland, the arms of the
cross as invariably extend beyond the line of the stone, like those at
Iona, which are Irish, and these are generally joined by a circular
Glory. The ornaments on the cross are the same in both countries, and
generally consist of that curious interlacing basket-work pattern so
common also in the MSS. of that age in both countries, but which exist
nowhere else, that I am aware of, except in Armenia.[312] The so-called
"key" ornament on the horizontal arms of the cross at Aberlemmo seems
also of Eastern origin, as it is found in the Sarnath Tope, near
Benares, and elsewhere, but is common to both countries; as is also the
dragon ornament on the side of the cross, though this looks more like
a Scandinavian ornament than anything that can claim an origin further

Among the differences it may be remarked that the figure-subjects on
Irish crosses almost invariably refer to the scenes of the Passion,
or are taken from the Bible. On the Scotch stones, they as constantly
refer to battle or hunting incidents, or to what may be considered as
events in civil life. The essential difference, however, is, that, with
scarcely an exception, the Pictish stones bear some of those emblems
which have proved such a puzzle to antiquaries. The so-called broken
sceptre, the brooch, and the altar, are seen in the Aberlemmo stone;
but in earlier examples they are far more important and infinitely
various.[313] It may also be worthy of remark that the only two real
round towers out of Ireland adorn the two Pictish capitals of Brechin
and Abernethy. All this points to a difference that can well make
us understand why St. Columba should have required an interpreter
in speaking to the Picts;[314] but also to a resemblance that would
lead us to understand that the cemetery at Clava was the counterpart
of that on the banks of the Boyne, with the same relative degree of
magnificence as the Kings of Inverness bore to those of Tara; and if
we do not find similar tumuli at Brechin or Abernethy, it must be
that the kings of these provinces--if there were any--were converted
to Christianity before they adopted this mode of burial. It may be
suggested that, as Maes-Howe is certainly the lineal descendant of
the monuments on the Boyne, it too must be a Celtic or Pictish tomb.
For the reasons, however, given above, such a theory seems wholly
untenable; but thus much may be granted, that such a tomb would
probably not have been erected, even by a Northman, in a country where
there was not an underlying Celtic or Pictish population.

[Illustration: 96. Cat Stone, Kirkliston.]

Before leaving these sculptured stones, it may be as well to point
out one of those anomalies which meet us so frequently in these
enquiries, and show how little ordinary probabilities suffice to guide
to the true conclusion. Among the sculptured stones of Scotland,
one of the oldest is probably the Newton stone. It has at least an
Oghan inscription on its edge; and most antiquaries will admit that
Oghan engravings on stone were discontinued when alphabetic writing
was introduced and generally understood. It also has an alphabetic
inscription on its face, but the letters are not Roman. They may be
bad Greek, but certainly they appear to be pre-Roman, and therefore
probably the earliest Scotch inscription known. There is another stone
at Kirkliston, near Edinburgh, which has a Latin inscription on it.
It is a "cat" or battle-stone, and records the name of Vetta, the
son of Victis, in good Latin. Whether this Vetta is, or is not, the
grandfather of Hengist and Horsa, as Sir James Simpson contended,[315]
is of no great consequence to our present argument. It is of about
their age, and therefore as old as any of the other stones in Scotland;
and there is also a third at Yarrow,[316] with a later inscription,
which seems about the same age as the Lothian example. Now the curious
part of this matter is, that having begun with alphabetic writing, they
entirely discontinued it, and during the six or seven centuries through
which these sculptured stones certainly extend, it is the rarest
possible thing to find one with an alphabetic inscription; and why this
should be so is by no means clear. Take, for instance, the Aberlemmo
stone just quoted. The people who erected it were Christians,--witness
the cross: the ornaments on it are almost identical with those found in
Irish MSS. of the seventh and eighth centuries.[317] It is thus evident
that the persons who drew these ornaments could write, and being able
to write and carve with such exquisite precision, it seems strange they
never thought of even putting the name of the persons who erected the
stone or some word expressive of its purpose. The Irish probably would
have done so; and the Scandinavians would have covered them with Runes,
as they did those they erected in the Isle of Man, though probably at
a somewhat later date. In the instance of the two crosses illustrated
in the woodcuts, Nos. 97 and 98, the first bears an inscription to
the effect that "Sandulf the Swarthy erected this cross to his wife,
Arnbjörg." From their names, both evidently of Scandinavian origin. The
inscription on the side of the second runs thus: "Mal Lumkun erected
this cross to his foster-father Malmor, or Mal Muru."[318] Both names
of undoubted Gaelic derivation, thus showing that at that age at least
any ethnographic theory that would give these stones exclusively to
either race can hardly be maintained. The two races seem then to have
followed the fashion of the day as they did in ruder times. Except
in the instance of the St. Vigean's stone on which Sir James Simpson
read the name of Drosten,[319] ascribing it with very fair certainty
to the year 729 A.D., none of the 101 stones illustrated in
the splendid volumes of the Spalding Club contains hardly a scrap
of alphabetic writing. Throughout they preferred a strange sort of
Heraldic symbolism, which still defies the ingenuity of our best
antiquaries to interpret. It was a very perverse course to pursue,
but while men did so, probably as late as Sueno's time, A.D.
1008,[320] it is needless to ask why men set up rude stones to
commemorate events or persons when they could have carved or inscribed
them; or why, in fact, as we would insist on doing, they did not avail
themselves of all the resources of the art or the learning which they

[Illustration: 97. Cross in Isle of Man, bearing Runic Inscription.]

[Illustration: 98. Cross in Isle of Man, bearing Runic Inscription.]

The other rude-stone monuments of Scotland are neither numerous nor
important. Daniel Wilson enumerates some half-dozen of dolmens as still
existing in the lowlands and in parts of Argyllshire, but none of them
are important from their size, nor do they present any peculiarities
to distinguish them from those of Wales or Ireland; while no tradition
has attached itself to any of them in such a manner as to give a
hint of their age or purpose. Besides these, there are a number of
single stones scattered here and there over the country, but there is
nothing to indicate whether they are cat stones or mark boundaries,
or merely graves, so that to enumerate them would be as tedious as it
would be uninstructive. What little interest may attach to them will
be better appreciated when we have examined those of Scandinavia and
France, which are more numerous, as well as more easily understood.
When, too, we have mastered them in so far as the materials available
enable us to do, we shall be able to appreciate the significance of
much that has just been enunciated. Meanwhile it may be as well to
remark that what we already seem to have gained is a knowledge that
a circle-building race came from the north, touching first at the
Orkneys, and, passing down through the Hebrides, divided themselves on
the north of Ireland--one branch settling on the west coast of that
island, the other landing in Cumberland, and penetrating into England
in a south-easterly direction.

In like manner we seem to have a dolmen-building race who from the
south first touched in Cornwall, and thence spread northwards, settling
on both sides of St. George's Channel, and leaving traces of their
existence on the south and both coasts of Ireland, as well as in Wales
and the west of England generally. Whether these two opposite currents
were or were not synchronous is a question that must be determined
hereafter. We shall also be in a better position to ascertain what the
races were who thus spread themselves along our coasts, when we have
examined the only countries from which it is probable they could have

    [Footnote 271: 'The Sculptured Stones of Scotland.' Two vols.
    quarto. Published by the Spalding Club. 1856 and 1867.]

    [Footnote 272: A few years ago the late Mr. Rhind, of Sibster,
    left an estate worth more than 400_l._ per annum, to endow a
    Professorship of Archæology in Scotland, who was also to act as
    curator of the monuments themselves, but unfortunately left it
    encumbered by a life interest to a relative. Two years ago an
    attempt was made to get the Government to anticipate the falling
    in of the life interest, and appointing Mr. Stuart to the office
    at once. It was, perhaps, too much to expect so enlightened an act
    of liberality from a Government like ours. But their decision is
    to be regretted; not only because we may thereby lose altogether
    the services of the best qualified man in Scotland for the purpose,
    but more so because the monuments are themselves fast disappearing
    without any record of them being preserved. Agriculture is very
    merciless towards a big stone or a howe that stands in the way of
    the plough, and in so improving a country as Scotland, very little
    may remain for the next generation to record.]

    [Footnote 273: The account of these monuments is abstracted from a
    paper by Lieutenant Thomas, of H. M.'s surveying vessel _Woodlark_.
    It is the most detailed and most correct survey we have of any
    British group. It was published in the 'Archæologia,' xxxiv. p. 88
    _et seq._]

    [Footnote 274: Four stones are represented as standing when
    Barry's view of the monument was published in 1807, and four
    are represented as standing in a series of etchings made by the
    Duchess-Countess of Sutherland from her own drawings, in 1805. If
    the elbow in the bridge shown in the drawing in the frontispiece
    is not a licence permitted to himself by the artist, my drawing is
    earlier than either of these. When I first purchased it I believed
    it to be by Daniel. His tour, however, took place in 1815. From the
    internal evidence this drawing must be anterior to 1805.]

    [Footnote 275: 'Archæologia,' xxxiv. p. 89.]

    [Footnote 276: 'Archæologia,' xxxiv. p. 90.]

    [Footnote 277: The greater part of this find, with all the coins,
    is in the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries, Edinburgh. The
    dates on the coins were kindly copied for me by Mr. Stuart.]

    [Footnote 278: 'Notice on the Runic Inscriptions discovered during
    Recent Excavations in the Orkneys.' By James Farrer, M.P. 1862.]

    [Footnote 279: 'Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot.' v. p. 70.]

    [Footnote 280: Olaus Wormius, 'Monumenta Danica,' p. 188, fig. 6.]

    [Footnote 281: Barry's 'History of Orkney,' p. 399. See also
    'Archæologia,' xxxiv. p. 89.]

    [Footnote 282: Barry, 'History of the Orkneys,' p. 124.]

    [Footnote 283: Mr. George Petrie has recently at my request made
    some excavations in these mounds, but the results have not been
    conclusive. He is of opinion that one of the mounds he explored may
    be the grave of Thorfin, but it is too much ruined to afford any
    certain indication.]

    [Footnote 284: 'Mémoires des Ant. du Nord,' iii. p. 236.]

    [Footnote 285: These dates are taken from Barry, p. 112 _et seq._,
    but they seem undisputed, and are found in all histories.]

    [Footnote 286: 'History of Orkney.' p. 125.]

    [Footnote 287: 'Prehistoric Annals of Scotland,' p. 112.
    'Archæologia,' xxxiv. p. 89.]

    [Footnote 288: 'Mémoires des Antiquaires du Nord,' iii. p. 250.]

    [Footnote 289: Farrer, 'Inscriptions in the Orkneys,' p. 37].

    [Footnote 290: A few years ago such a question would have been
    considered answered as soon as stated; but, as Daniel Wilson writes
    in a despairing passage in his Introduction,* "This theory of
    the Danish origin of nearly all our native arts, though adopted
    without investigation, and fostered in defiance of evidence, has
    long ceased to be a mere popular error. It is, moreover," he
    adds, "a cumulative error; Pennant, Chambers, Barry, Mac Culloch,
    Scott, Hibbert, and a host of other writers might be quoted to
    show that theory, like a snow-ball, gathers as it rolls, taking up
    indiscriminately whatever chances to be in its erratic course." In
    spite of his indignation, however, I suspect it will be found to
    have gathered such force, that it will be found very difficult to
    discredit it. Since, too, Alexander Bertrand made his onslaught on
    the theory, that the Celts had anything to do with the megalithic
    monuments, the ground is fast being cut away from under their feet;
    and though the proofs are still far from complete, yet according
    to present appearances the Celts must resign their claims to any
    of the stone circles certainly, and to most of the other stone
    monuments we are acquainted with, if not to all.

    *'Prehistoric Annals of Scotland,' p. xv.]

    [Footnote 291: 'Annales Innisfal.' in O'Connor, 'Rerum. Hib.
    Scrip.' ii. p. 24. 'Annales Ulton.' _Ibid._ iv. p. 117.]

    [Footnote 292: Duke of Argyll's 'Iona,' p. 100.]

    [Footnote 293: On the left of the view in the Frontispiece.]

    [Footnote 294: 'Archæologia Scot.' iii. p. 119.]

    [Footnote 295: 'Archæologia,' xxxiv. p. 113.]

    [Footnote 296: 'Proceedings Soc. Ant. of Scotland,' iii. p. 213.]

    [Footnote 297: These dimensions and the plan are taken from Sir
    Henry James's work on 'Stonehenge, Turuschan,' &c.]

    [Footnote 298: Anderson, on horned Tumuli in Caithness, 'Proc. Soc.
    Ant. of Scotland,' vi. p. 442 _et seq._, and vii. p. 480 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 299: 'Sculptured Stones of Scotland,' ii. p. xxv.]

    [Footnote 300: Vol. iv. p. 499.]

    [Footnote 301: Glasgow, 1865, p. 186 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 302: In the 'Archæologia,' vol. xxii. pp. 200 and 202,
    are plans and views of six Aberdeenshire circles, and two more are
    given in the same volume further on.]

    [Footnote 303: 'Sculptured Stones of Scotland,' vol. i. p. xxi.]

    [Footnote 304: In September, 1858, Mr. Dyce Nicol, with a party
    of experienced archæologists, excavated four circles situated in
    a row, and extending for nearly a mile, on the road from Aberdeen
    to Stonehaven, and about 1½ mile from the sea. The first and
    last had been disturbed before, but the second, at King Caussie,
    and the third, at Aquhorties, yielded undoubted evidences of their
    sepulchral origin. The conclusion these gentlemen arrived at was,
    that "whatever other purposes these circles may have served, one
    use of them was as a place of burial."--_Proceedings Soc. Ant.
    Scot._ v. p. 134.]

    [Footnote 305: I regret much that I have been unable to visit
    this place myself. It was, however, carefully surveyed by Captain
    Charles Wilson, when he was attached to the Ordnance Survey at
    Inverness. He also made detailed plans and sketches of all the
    monuments, but, unfortunately, sent them to the Ordnance Office at
    Southampton, and they consequently are not accessible nor available
    for our present purposes.]

    [Footnote 306: These dimensions are taken partly from the Ordnance
    Survey Sheet, 25-inch scale, and partly from Mr. Innes's paper in
    'Proceedings Soc. Ant.' iii. p. 49 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 307: _Ibid._ Appendix, vi. pl. x.]

    [Footnote 308: Reeves, 'Adamnan. Vita St. Columb.' p. 150.]

    [Footnote 309: Wilson's 'Prehistoric Annals,' p. 332.]

    [Footnote 310: An amusing controversy regarding the existence of
    this stone will be found in the 'Proceedings Scot. Ant.' iv. p.
    524 _et seq._ It seems absolutely impossible that any man, even
    under the inspiration of some primordial whisky, to have drawn
    by accident a sculpture so like what his ancestors did fifteen
    centuries before his time.]

    [Footnote 311: Gordon, 'Iter Septemtrionale,' p. 151.]

    [Footnote 312: In my 'History of Architecture,' ii. p. 345, I
    ventured timidly to hint that this Armenian ornament would be found
    identical with that in the Irish and Pictish crosses. Since then I
    have seen a series of photographs of Armenian churches, which leave
    no doubt in my mind that this similarity is not accidental, but
    that the one country borrowed it from the other.]

    [Footnote 313: See Stuart's 'Sculptured Stones,' and Colonel Forbes
    Leslie's 'Early Races of Scotland,' _passim_.]

    [Footnote 314: Reeves, 'Adamnan. Vita St. Columb.' pp. 65 and 145.]

    [Footnote 315: 'Proceedings Soc. Ant. Scot.' iv. p. 119 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 316: _Ibid._ iv. p. 524.]

    [Footnote 317: Westwood, 'Facsimiles of Irish MSS.' plates 4-28.]

    [Footnote 318: These two woodcuts are borrowed from Worsaae, 'The
    Danes and Northmen.' London, 1852.]

    [Footnote 319: 'Sculptured Stones of Scotland,' ii. p. 70.]

    [Footnote 320: Camden, 'Brit.' 1268.]




So much has been said by the Danes and their admirers of the services
that they have rendered to the study of prehistoric archæology that it
is rather disappointing to find that, when looked into, almost less is
known regarding their megalithic monuments than regarding those of any
other country in Europe. No work has yet been published giving anything
like a statistical account of them, and no map exists showing their
distribution. What little information can be obtained regarding the
Danish dolmens, and other similar monuments, is scattered through so
many volumes of transactions and detached essays that it is extremely
difficult to arrive at any connected view of them--almost, indeed,
impossible for any one who is not locally familiar with the provinces
in which they are found. The truth seems to be that the Danish
antiquaries have been so busy in arranging their microlithic treasures
in glass cases that they have totally neglected their larger monuments
outside. They have thus collected riches which no other nation
possesses, and have constructed a very perfect grammar and vocabulary
of the science. But a grammar and a dictionary are neither a history
nor a philosophy; and though their labours may eventually be most
useful to future enquirers, they are of very little use for our present
purposes. They have indeed up to this time been rather prejudicial than
otherwise, by leading people to believe that when they can distinguish
between a flint or bronze or iron implement they know the alpha and
omega of the science, and that nothing further is required to determine
the relative date of any given monument. It is as if we were to adopt
the simple chemistry of the ancients, and divide all known substances
into earth, water, fire, and air: a division not only convenient but
practically so true that there is very little to be said against it. It
is not, however, up to the mark of the knowledge of the day, and omits
to take notice of the fact that earths can occasionally be converted
into gases, and airs converted into liquids or solidified. Instead of
their simple system, what is now wanted is something that will take
into account the different races of mankind--some progressive, some
the reverse--and the different accidents of success and prosperity, or
disaster and poverty: the one leading to the aggregation of detached
communities into great centres, and consequent progress; the other
leading to dispersion and stagnation, if not retrocession, in the
arts of life which tend towards what we call civilization. At the
International Congress of Prehistoric Archæology, held at Copenhagen in
the autumn of 1869, it was understood that many of the best Northern
antiquaries were inclined to abandon, to a very considerable extent,
the hard and fast lines of their first system, and to admit not
only that there may be considerable overlapping, but even, in some
instances, that its indications were not in accordance with the facts.
More than two years have elapsed since the Congress was held, but the
volume containing the account of its proceedings is not yet published;
when it is, we may probably be in a position to speak much more
favourably not only of their views but of the extent of their knowledge
of the antiquities in question.

Under these circumstances, we may congratulate ourselves in possessing
such a work as that of Sjöborg.[321] He wrote, fortunately, before
the Danish system was invented, but, unfortunately, before drawing
and engraving had reached the precision and clearness which now
characterize them. In consequence of the last defect, we cannot always
feel sure of our ground in basing an argument on his drawings; but,
generally speaking, he is so honest, so free from system, that there
is very little danger in this respect. The work has also the merit of
being as free from the speculations about Druids and Serpents which
disfigure the contemporary works of English antiquaries, as it is from
the three ages of the Danes; though, on the other hand, he relegates
all the dolmens and such like monuments to a prehistoric "Joter," or
giant race, who preceded, according to his views, Odin and his true
Scandinavians, to whom he ascribes all the truly historic monuments.

In addition to the difficulties arising from the paucity of information
regarding the monuments, the Scandinavians have not yet made up
their minds with regard to their early chronology. Even the vast
collections contained in the ponderous tomes of Langebeck and Suhm[322]
are far from sufficing for the purpose; and such authors as Saxo
Grammaticus[323] write with an easy fluency too characteristic of our
own Jeffrey of Monmouth, and others who bury true history under such
a mass of fables as makes it extremely difficult to recover what we
are really seeking for. Patient industry, combined with judicious
criticism, would, no doubt, clear away most of the obscurities which
now disfigure this page of mediæval history; but, meanwhile, the
Scandinavian annals are as obscure as the Irish, and more uncertain
than the contemporary annals of England.

Of the history of Scandinavia anterior to the Christian era, absolutely
nothing is known. It is now no longer admissible to believe in a
historic Odin, whom all the mediæval historians represent as living in
the first century B.C., and as the founder of those families
who play so important a part in the subsequent histories of our own
as well as of the whole group of Northern nations. The modern school
of Germans has discovered that Odin was a god who lived in the sky
in pre-Adamite times, and never condescended to visit our sublunary
sphere. It is now rank heresy to assume that during the thousand years
which elapsed between his pretended date and that of our earliest MSS.
the wild imaginings of barbarous tribes may not have gathered round the
indistinct form of a national hero, transferred him back to a mythic
age, and endowed him with the attributes and surroundings of a god. As
the Germans have decreed this, it is in vain to dispute it, and not
worth while to attempt it here, as for our present purposes it is of
the least possible consequence.

About the Christian era there is said to have been a king, called
Frode I., who, as he never was deified, may have had a tomb on earth,
and might, if that could be identified, be allowed to head our list.
Between him and Harald Harfagar, who, in 880, conquered Norway and came
into distinct contact with British history in the Orkneys, we have
several lists of kings, more or less complete, and with dates more or
less certain.[324] That there were kings in those days, no one will
probably dispute, nor perhaps is the succession of the names doubtful;
and if the dates err to the extent of even fifty years or so, it is of
little consequence to our argument. The monuments extend so far down,
and to kings whose dates are so perfectly ascertained, that it is of
no importance whether the earlier ones are assigned to dates forty or
fifty years too early or too late. Their fixation may be left to future
research, as it has no direct bearing on the theory we are now trying
to investigate.


The chief of the Scandinavian monuments, and the most interesting
for our present object, comprise those groups of stones which mark
battle-fields. Not only are their dates generally known with sufficient
precision to throw considerable light on the question of the antiquity
of such monuments in general, but they also illustrate, if they do
not determine, the use of many of the groups of stones we meet with
in other countries. Sjöborg devotes ten plates in his first volume to
these battle-fields, illustrating twice that number of battles which
occurred between the fifth and the twelfth centuries after Christ.

[Illustration: 99. View of Battle-field at Kongsbacka. From Sjöborg.]

The first of these, at Kongsbacka, near the coast in Halland, though
of somewhat uncertain date, is worth quoting from its similarity to
the alignments on Dartmoor, Ashdown, Karnac, and elsewhere, though,
unfortunately, no plan or dimensions are given. On the hills beyond is
a tumulus called the grave of Frode, and on the plain a conspicuous
stone bears his name; but whether this was Frode V. (400) or some
other Frode is not clear. Sjöborg assigns it to a date about 500, and
there seems very little reason to doubt he is at least approximatively

The second battle-field illustrated is similar to the last, except
in the form of the stones, which seem to belong to a different
mineralogical formation.[326] They are plainly, however, seen to be
arranged in circles and lines, and are even more like forms with which
we are familiar elsewhere. It is said to represent a battle-field in
which the Swedish king Adil fought the Danish Snio, and in which the
latter with the chiefs Eskil and Alkil were slain. As all these names
are familiarly known in the mediæval history of these countries there
can be no great difficulty in ascribing this battle also to about the
same age as that at Kongsbacka.

With the third we tread on surer ground. No event in the history of
these lands is better known than the fight on the Braavalla Heath, in
Östergothland, where the blind old king, Harald Hildetand, met his
fate in the year 736, or 750 according to others. As the Saga tells
us, Odin had, when the king was young, taught him a form of tactics
which gave him a superiority in battle over all his enemies; but the
god having withdrawn his favour from him, he fell before the prowess of
his nephew, Sigurd Ring, to whom the god had communicated the secret of
the battle array. It does not appear to admit of doubt that the circles
shown in the cut in the opposite page were erected to commemorate
this event, and that they contain the bodies of those who were slain
in this action; and if this is so, it throws considerable light on
the battle-fields of Moytura, illustrated woodcuts Nos. 54 to 61. The
circles on Braavalla are generally from 20 to 40 feet in diameter,
and consequently are, on the average, smaller than those at Moytura;
they are also more numerous, unless we adopt Petrie's suggestion,[327]
that there must originally have been at least two hundred in the Irish
field; and if so, it is the smaller ones that would certainly be
the first to be cleared away, so that the similarity may originally
have been greater than it now is--so great, indeed, as to render it
difficult to account for the fact that two battle-fields should have
been marked out in a manner so similar when so long a time as seven
centuries had elapsed between them. As it does not appear possible
that the date of the Braavalla fight can be shifted to the extent of
fifty years either way, are we deceiving ourselves about Moytura? Is it
possible that it represents some later descent of Scandinavian Vikings
on the west coast of Ireland, and that the cairn on Knocknarea--

  "High and broad,
  By the sailors over the waves
  To be seen afar,
  The beacon of the war renowned"[328]--

which they built up during ten days--is really the grave of some
Northern hero who fell in some subsequent fight at Carrowmore? That
all these are monuments of the same class, and belong, if not to the
same people, at least to peoples in close contact with one another,
and having similar faiths and feelings, does not appear to admit of
doubt. When, however, we come to look more closely at them, there are
peculiarities about them which may account for even so great a lapse
of time. The Braavalla circles are smaller, and on the whole perhaps,
we may assume, degenerate. There are square and triangular graves,
and other forms, which, so far as we know, are comparatively modern
inventions, and, altogether, there are changes which may account for
that lapse of time; but that more than seven centuries elapsed between
the two seems to be most improbable.

[Illustration: 100. Part of the Battle-field of Braavalla Heath. From

[Illustration: 101. Harald Hildetand's Tomb at Lethra.[329]]

To return, however, to King Hildetand. According to the saga, "After
the battle the conqueror, Sigurd Ring, caused a search to be made for
the body of his uncle. The body when found was washed and placed in the
chariot in which Harald had fought, and transported into the interior
of a tumulus which Sigurd had caused to be raised. Harald's horse was
then killed and buried in the mound with the saddle of Ring, so that
the king might at pleasure proceed to Walhalla either in his chariot
or on horseback. Ring then gave a great funeral feast, and invited all
the nobles and warriors present to throw into the mound great rings
and noble armour, in honour of the king Harald. They then closed up
the mound with care."[330] This mound still exists at Lethra's Harald,
capital in Seeland. It was mentioned by Saxo Grammaticus in 1236,[331]
and described and drawn by Olaus Wormius in 1643;[332] and no one ever
doubted its identity, till recently the Museum authorities caused
excavations to be made. Unfortunately some "wedges of flint" have
been found in the earth which was extracted from the chamber, from
which Worsaae and his brother antiquaries at once concluded that "it is
beyond all doubt merely a common cromlech of the stone period"[333]--a
conclusion that seems to me the reverse of logical. No one, I presume,
doubts that King Hildetand was buried in a tumulus with rings and
arms; and if this tumulus was regarded historically as his, for the
last 600 years, and traditionally so from the time of his death, it is
incumbent upon the antiquaries to show how worthless these traditions
and histories are, and to point out where he really rests. To form
an empirical system and to assert--which they cannot prove--that no
flint implements were used after a certain prehistoric date, and
that consequently all mounds in which flint implements are found are
prehistoric, seems most unreasonable, to say the least of it. It would
be surely far more philosophical to admit that flint may have been
used down to any time till we can find some reason for fixing a date
for its discontinuance. In this instance an "instantia crucis" would
be to dig into some of the circles at Braavalla, and see if any flints
are to be found there. No metal was found at Moytura, though metal
was, if history is to be depended upon, then commonly used, and flint
implements were probably not found because those who opened the tombs
were not aware of its importance. Pending this test, the form of the
grave may give us some indication of its age. It is an oblong barrow,
with an external dolmen at one end, and with a row of ten stones on
each side, the two end ones being taller than the rest. A similar
mound, known as the Kennet long barrow, exists at Avebury,[334] so
similar indeed that if this tomb at Lethra is historical so certainly
is the English example. If, on the other hand, either can be proved to
belong to the long forgotten past, the other must also he consigned to
the same unsatisfactory limbo.

The barrow at West Kennet was carefully explored in 1859 by Dr.
Thurnam, and the results of his investigation fully detailed in a
paper in the 'Archæologia,' vol. xxxviii., from which the following
particulars are abstracted, together with some others from a second
paper, "On Long Barrows," by the same author, in vol. xlii. of the same

Externally it is a mound measuring 336 feet in length by 75 feet at
its broadest part. Originally it was surrounded by what is called a
peristalith of tall stones, between which, it is said, a walling of
smaller stones can still be detected. On its summit, as at Lethra, was
an external dolmen over the principal chamber of the tomb. The chamber
was nearly square in form, measuring 8 feet by 9, and approached by
a passage measuring 15 feet by 3 feet 6 inches in width; and its
arrangement is in fact the same as that of the Jersey tumulus (woodcut
No. 11), and, as Sir John Lubbock remarks, "very closely resembles
that of a tumulus" he had just been describing, of the Stone age,
in the island of Möen, "and, in fact, the plan of passage graves

[Illustration: 102. Long Barrow, Kennet, restored by Dr. Thurnam.
'Archæologia,' xlii.]

When opened, six original interments were found in the chamber, under
a stratum of black, sooty, greasy matter, 3 to 9 inches in thickness,
and which, Dr. Thurnam remarks, "could never have been disturbed since
the original formation of the deposit" (p. 413). Two of these had
their skulls fractured during lifetime; the others were entire. To
account for this, Dr. Thurnam takes considerable pains to prove that
slaves were sometimes sacrificed at the funeral of their masters, but
he fails to find any instance in which they were killed by breaking
their heads; and if they were to serve their master in the next
world, even a savage would be shrewd enough to know that cracking his
skull was not the way to render him useful for service either in this
world or the next. No such mode of sacrifice was ever adopted, so far
as I know.[336] But supposing it was so, all the six burials in this
tomb seem to have been nearly equal, and equally honourable, and why,
therefore, all their skulls were not broken is not clear. If on the
other hand we assume that it is the grave of six persons who were
slain in battle, two by blows on the head, and four by wounds in the
body, this surely would be a simpler way of accounting for the facts
observed. Even, however, if we were to admit that these men with the
broken heads were sacrificed, this would by no means prove the grave to
be prehistoric. Quite the contrary, for we know from the indisputable
authority of a decree of Charlemagne that human sacrifices were
practised by the pagan Saxons as late, certainly, as 789,[337] and were
sufficiently frequent to constitute one of the first crimes against
which he fulminated his edicts. The fact is that neither historians
nor antiquaries seem quite to realise the state of utter barbarism
into which the greater part of Europe was plunged between the collapse
of the Roman Empire and the revival of order under Charlemagne.
Christianity no doubt had taken root in some favoured spots, and some
bright lights shone out of the general darkness, but over the greater
part of Europe pagan rites were still practised to such an extent as
easily to account for any heathen practice or any ancient form of
sepulture which may be found anywhere existing.

To return, however, to our long barrow. Under a piece of Sarsen stone,
but on the skull of one of the principal persons interred here (No.
4), were found two pieces of black pottery (fig. 8, page 415), which
Dr. Thurnam admits may be of the Roman age. Other fragments of the
same vessel were found in other parts of the tomb, and also fragments
of pottery (figs. 14 to 17), not British, but to which he hesitates to
assign an age. So far as I can judge, it seems just such pottery as the
less experienced British potters would form, on Roman models, after
the departure of that people. But this is immaterial; for beyond the
chamber, and deeper consequently into the tumulus, were found fragments
of undoubted Roman pottery. So far, therefore, everything favours
the view that it was the sepulchre of persons slain in battle, after
the departure of the Romans; for we can hardly believe that a battle
would be fought, and such a tomb raised over the slain, during their
occupation; and if so, as the pottery proves it could not be before, a
choice of a date is fixed within very narrow limits. It may either have
been in 450, immediately after the departure of the Romans, or in 520,
the date of the battle of Badon Hill, which is the time at which, I
believe, it was reared. So far as the general argument is concerned, it
is of no consequence which date is chosen. Against this conclusion we
have to place the following facts. First, no trace of iron or bronze,
or of metal of any sort, was found in the tomb. Secondly, at least 300
flint fragments were found in it. Some of these were mere chippings,
some cones, but many were fairly formed flint implements (figs. 10 to
13),[338] not belonging to the oldest type, but such as antiquaries are
in the habit of ascribing to the pre-metal Stone age. In addition to
these, the quantity of coarse native pottery was very remarkable. No
whole vessels were found, but broken fragments that would form fifty
vessels were heaped in a corner; and there were corresponding fragments
in another corner. Dr. Thurnam tries to explain this by referring to
the passage in the grave scene in 'Hamlet,' where our great dramatist
speaks of "shards, flints, and pebbles," which should be thrown into
the graves of suicides; the use of which, he adds, "in mediæval times
may be a relic of paganism." It does not, however, seem to occur to him
that, if such a custom was known in the sixteenth century, it would be
likely to have been in full force in the sixth. It is strange enough
that such a custom, even if only referred to suicides, should have
survived a thousand years of such revolutions and changes of religion
as England was subjected to in those days; but that it should be known
to Christians, after 3000 or 4000 years' disuse, seems hardly possible.

No argument, it appears to me, can be drawn from the different kinds of
pottery found in the tomb. If any one will take the trouble of digging
up the kitchen midden of a villa built within the last ten years, in
a previously uninhabited spot, he will probably find fragments of an
exquisite porcelain vase which the housemaid broke in dusting the
drawing-room chimney-piece. He will certainly find many fragments of
the stoneware used in the dining-room, and with them, probably, some of
the coarser ware used in the dairy, and mixed with these innumerable
"shards" of the flower-pots used in the conservatory. According to
the reasoning customary among antiquaries, this midden must have been
accumulating during 2000 or 3000 years at least, because it would
have taken all that time, or more, before the rude pottery of the
flower-pots could have been developed into the exquisite porcelain
of the drawing-room vase. The argument is, in fact, the same as that
with respect to the flints. It may be taken for granted that men used
implements of bone and stone before they were acquainted with the
use of metal; but what is disputed is that they ceased to use them
immediately after becoming familiar with either bronze or iron. So with
earthenware: men no doubt used coarse, badly formed, and badly burnt
pottery before they could manufacture better; but, even when they could
do so, it is certain that they did not cease the employment of pottery
of a very inferior class; and we have not done so to the present day.
To take one instance among many. There are in the Museum of the Society
of Antiquaries at Edinburgh a series of vessels, hand-made and badly
burnt, and which might easily be mistaken--and often are--for those
found in prehistoric tombs. Yet they were made and used in the Shetland
Islands in the last and even in the present century.

The truth of the matter seems to be that, as in the case of a find of
coins, it is the date of the last piece that fixes the time of the
deposit. There may be coins in it a hundred or a thousand years older,
but this hoard cannot have been buried before the last piece which it
contains was coined. So it is with this barrow. The presence of Roman
or post-Roman pottery in an avowedly undisturbed sepulchre fixes,
beyond doubt, the age before which the skeletons could not have been
deposited where they were found by Dr. Thurnam. The presence of flints
and coarse pottery only shows, but it does so most convincingly, how
utterly groundless the data are on which antiquaries have hitherto
fixed the age of these monuments. It proves certainly that flints and
shards were deposited in tombs in Roman or post-Roman times; and if
there is no mistake in Dr. Thurnam's data, this one excavation is, by
itself, sufficient to prove that the Danish theory of the three ages
is little better than the "baseless fabric" of--if not "a vision"--at
least of an illusion, which, unless Dr. Thurnam's facts can be
explained away, has no solid foundation to rest upon.

If any systematic excavations had been undertaken in the Scandinavian
long barrows, it would not, perhaps, be necessary to adduce English
examples to illustrate their age or peculiarities. Several are adduced
by Sjöborg, but none are reported as opened. This one, for instance,
is externally like the long barrow at West Kennet, and, if Sjöborg's
information is to be depended upon, is one of several which mark the
spot where Frode V. (460-494) landed in Sweden, where a battle was
fought, and those who fell in it were buried in these mounds, or where
the Bauta stones mark their graves. If this is so, the form of the
long barrow with its peristalith was certainly not unknown in the
fifth century; and there is no improbability of its being employed in
England also in that age. In settling these questions, however, the
Scandinavians have an immense advantage over us. All their mounds have
names and dates; they may be true or they may be false, but they give a
starting-point and an interest to the enquiry which are wanting in this
country, but which, it is hoped, will one day enable the Northmen to
reconstruct their monumental history on a satisfactory basis.

[Illustration: 103. Long Barrow at Wiskehärad, in Halland. From a
drawing by Sjöborg.]

In most cases antiquaries in this country have been content to appeal
to the convenient fiction of secondary interments to account for the
perplexing contradictions in which their system everywhere involves
them. In the instance of the Kennet long barrow there is no excuse
for such a suggestion. All the interments were of one age, and that
undoubtedly the age of the chamber in which they were found, and the
pottery and flints could not have been there before nor introduced
afterwards. Indeed, I do not know a single instance of an undoubtedly
secondary interment, unless it is in the age of Canon Greenwell's
really prehistoric tumuli. When he publishes his researches, we shall
be in a condition to ascertain how far they bear on the theory.[339]
In the chambered tumuli secondary interments seem never to occur; and
nothing is more unlikely than that they should. As Dr. Thurnam himself
states: "In three instances at least Mr. Cunnington and Sir R. C. Hoare
found in long barrows skeletons which, from their extended position and
the character of the iron weapons accompanying them, were evidently
Anglo-Saxon."[340] A simple-minded man would consequently fancy that
they were Anglo-Saxon graves, for what can be more improbable than
that the proud conquering Saxons would be content to bury their dead
in the graves of the hated and despised Celts whom they were busy in

If the above reasoning is satisfactory and sufficient to prove that
the long barrow at West Kennet is of post-Roman times, it applies also
to Rodmarton, Uley, Stoney Littleton, and all the Gloucestershire long
barrows which, for reasons above given (_ante_, page 164), we ventured
to assign to a post-Roman period; and _à fortiori_ it carries with
it King Hildetand's tomb at Lethra. It is true we have not the same
direct means of judging of its date as we have of our own monuments.
The Danes treat with such supreme contempt any monument that does not
at once fall in with their system, that they will not even condescend
to explore it. So soon as Worsaae found some "flint wedges" in the
tomb, he at once decreed that it was prehistoric, and that it was
no use searching farther; and we are consequently left to this fact
and its external similarities for our identification. Here, again,
is a difficulty. The two drawings above given (woodcuts Nos. 101 and
102) may show them too much alike or exaggerate differences. The
one is an old drawing from nature, the other a modern restoration;
still the essential facts are undoubted. Both are chambered long
barrows, ornamented by rows of tall stones, either partially or wholly
surrounding their base, and both have external dolmens on their summit,
and both contain flint implements. If this is so, the difficulty is
rather to account for so little change having taken place in 230 years
than to feel any surprise at their not being identical. The point upon
which we wish to insist here is that they are both post-Roman, and may
consequently belong to any age between Arthur and Charlemagne.

       *       *       *       *       *

The remaining battle-fields of which representations are given in
Sjöborg are scarcely so interesting as that at Braavalla, which with
the tomb of the king slain there are landmarks in our enquiry. If those
circles on Braavalla Heath do mark the battle-field, and that tomb at
Lethra is the one in which the blind old king was laid--neither of
which facts I see any reason for doubting--all difficulties based on
the assumed improbability of the monuments being so modern as I am
inclined to make them are removed, and each case must stand or fall
according to the evidence that can be adduced for or against its age.
To return, however, to the battle-fields given by Sjöborg. Figures 43
and 44 represent two groups of circles and Bauta stones near Hwitaby,
in Malmö. These are said to mark two battle-fields, in which Ragnar
Lothbrok gained victories over his rebellious subjects in Scania:
Sjöborg says in 750 and 762, as he adopts a chronology fifty years
earlier than Suhm. But be this as it may, there does not seem any
reason for doubting but that these stones do mark fields where battles
were fought in the eighth century, and that Ragnar Lothbrok took part
in them. These groups are much less extensive than those at Braavalla,
but are so similar that they cannot be distant from them in age.

At Stiklastad, in Norway, in the province of Drontheim, a battle was
fought, in 1030, between Knut the Great and Olof the Holy; and close
to this is a group of forty-four circles of stones, which Sjöborg
seems, but somewhat doubtfully, to connect with this battle. But about
the next one (fig. 49) there seems no doubt. The Danish prince Magnus
Henricksson killed Erik the Holy, and was slain by Carl Sverkersson,
in the year 1161, at Uppland, in Denmark; and the place is marked
by twenty stone circles and ovals, most of them enclosing mounds
and two square enclosures, 30 to 40 feet in diameter. They are not,
consequently, in themselves very important, but are interesting, if
the adscription is correct, as showing how this heathenish custom
lasted even after Christianity must have been fairly established in the
country. Another group (fig. 51) is said to mark the spot where, in
1150, a Swedish heroine, Blenda, overcame the Danish king Swen Grate,
and the spot is marked by circles and Bauta stones; one, in front of a
tumulus, bears a Runic inscription, though it merely says that Dedrik
and Tunne raised the stone to Rumar the Good.

Only one other group need be mentioned here. On a spot of land, in the
island of Freyrsö, off the entrance of the Drontheim Fiord, in the year
958, Hakon, the son of Harald Harfagar, overthrew his nephews, the sons
of Erik Blodoxe, in three battles. The first and second of these, as
shown in the plan (woodcut No. 104), are marked by cairns and mounds;
and the third by eight large barrows, three of which are of that shape
known in Scandinavia as ship barrows, and measure from 100 to 140 feet
in length. There are also three tumuli at 4 in the woodcut, in one
of which one of Erik Blodoxe's sons is said to be buried. It is not
clear whether the five large mounds that stud the plain do not cover
the remains of those also who fell in this fight. It does not appear
that any excavations have been made in them. The interest of this
battle-field to us is not so much because it shows the persistence
of this plan of marking battle-fields at so late a date--later ones
have just been quoted--but because all the actors in the scene are
familiar to us from the part they took in the transactions in the
Orkneys in the tenth century. If they, in their own country, adhered
to these old-world practices, we should not be astonished at their
having erected circles or buried in mounds in their new possessions. It
is true that none of these Scandinavian circles can compare in extent
with the Standing Stones of Stennis or the Ring of Brogar, but this
would not be the first time that such a thing has happened. The Greeks
erected larger and, in proportion to the population, more numerous
Doric temples in Sicily than they possessed in their own country;
and the Northmen may have done the same thing in Orcadia, where they
possessed a conquered, probably an enslaved, race to execute these

[Illustration: 104. Battle-field at Freyrsö. From Sjöborg, vol. i. pl.


The number of sepulchral mounds in Scandinavia is very great, and
some of them are very important; but, so far as I can ascertain, very
few have been explored, and, until interrogated by the spade, nothing
can well be less communicative than a simple mound of earth. A map of
their distribution might, no doubt, throw considerable light on the
ethnography of the country, and tell us whether the Finns or Lapps
were their original authors, or whether the Slaves or Wends were their
introducers; and, lastly, whether the true Scandinavians brought them
with them from other lands, or merely adopted them from the original
inhabitants, in which case they can only be treated as survivals.
Funereal pomp, or tomb-building of any sort, is so antagonistic to
the habits of any people so essentially Teutonic as the Scandinavians
were and are, that we cannot understand their adopting these forms, or
indeed stone circles or monuments of any class, in a country where they
had not previously existed. If we assume that the modern Scandinavians
were German tribes who conquered the country from the Cimbri or the
earlier Lapps and Finns, and did so as warriors, bringing no women
with them, the case is intelligible enough. Under these circumstances,
they must have intermarried with the natives of the country, and would
eventually, after a few generations, lose much of their individual
nationality, and adopt many of the customs of the people among whom
they settled, using them only in a more vigorous manner and on a larger
scale than their more puny predecessors had been able to adopt.[342]
It is most improbable that the "Northmen," if Germans--as indeed their
language proves them to be--should ever have invented such things as
tumuli, dolmens, circles, or any other such un-Aryan forms, in any
country where they had not existed previously to their occupying it;
but that as immigrants they should adopt the customs of the previous
occupants of the land is only what we find happening everywhere. The
settlement of these points will be extremely interesting for the
ethnography of Northern Europe, and ought not to be difficult whenever
the problem is fairly grappled with. In the meanwhile, all that the
information at present available will enable us to do here is to
refer to some tumuli whose contents bear more or less directly on the
argument which is the principal object of this work.

The first of these is the triple group at Upsala, now popularly
known as the graves of Thor, Wodin, and Freya. It may illustrate the
difficulty of obtaining correct information regarding these monuments
to state that, even so late as 1869, Sir John Lubbock, who is generally
so well informed, and had such means of obtaining information, did
not know that they had been opened.[343] I was aware of a passage in
Marryatt's travels in Sweden in which, writing on the spot, he asserts
that one of them had been opened, and that "in its 'giant's chamber'
were found the bones of a woman, and, among other things, a piece of a
gold filagree bracelet, richly ornamented in spiral decoration, some
dice, and a chessman, either the king or a knight."[344] Wishing,
however, for further information, I obtained an introduction to Mr.
Hans Hildebrand, who gave me the following information. Subsequently
I received a letter from Professor Carl Säve, of Upsala, who kindly
abstracted for me the only published accounts of the excavations as
they appeared in a local paper at the time. These were forwarded to me
by Professor Geo. Stephens, of Copenhagen, who also was so obliging as
to translate them. They are so interesting that I have printed them,
as they stand, as Appendix B. From these two documents the following
account is compiled, and may be thoroughly depended upon.

One of the mounds, known as that of Wodin, was opened, in 1846, under
the superintendence of Herr Hildebrand, the royal antiquary of Sweden.
It was soon found that the mounds were situated on a ridge of gravel,
so that the tunnel had to take an upward, direction. At the junction
of the natural with the artificial soil, a cairn was found of closely
compacted stones, each about as large as a man could lift. In the
centre of the cairn the burial urn was found in the grave-chamber,
containing calcined bones, ashes, fragments of bronze ornaments
destroyed by fire, and a fragment of a gold ornament delicately
wrought. Within the cairn, but a little away from the urn, were found
a heap of dogs' bones, equally calcined by fire, and fragments of
two golden bracteates. "The workmanship of the gold ornaments," Herr
Hildebrand adds, "closely resembles that of the gold bracteates of the
fifth or sixth centuries, and, with the fragments of these peculiar
ornaments themselves, settles a date before which these mounds could
not have been raised." How much later they may be, it is not easy
to conjecture, without at least seeing the bracteates, which do not
seem to have been published. With a little local industry, I have
very little doubt, not only that the date of these tombs could be
ascertained, but the names of the royal personages who were therein
buried, probably in the sixth or seventh century of our era.

"The tombs of Central Sweden," Herr Hildebrand adds, "are generally
constructed in the same way, the urn containing the bones being placed
on the surface of the soil, at the place of cremation or elsewhere,
as the case may be. Generally, nothing is found with them but an
iron nail, or some such trifling object"--a curious and economical
reminiscence of the extravagant customs of their predecessors.
According to him, "almost every village in Sweden, with the exception
of those in some mountain-districts and the most northern provinces,
has a tomb-field quite close to the side of the houses. The antiquities
found in the mounds of these tomb-fields all belong to the Iron age.
The tombs of the earlier ages have no connection with the homesteads of
the present people."

How far these tombs extend downwards in date cannot be ascertained
without a much more careful examination than they have yet been
subjected to. It may safely, however, be assumed that they continued
to be used till the conversion of the inhabitants to Christianity, and
probably even for some considerable time afterwards, for such a custom
is not easily eradicated.

It would be as tedious as unprofitable to attempt to enumerate the
various mounds which have been opened, for their contents throw little
or no light on our enquiry; and being distributed in cases in the
museum, not according to their localities or traditions, but according
to their systematic classes, it is almost impossible to restore them
now to their places in history.

[Illustration: 105. Dragon on King Gorm's Stone, Jellinge. From 'An.
Nord. Oldkund.' xii. 1852.]

At Jellinge, however, on the east coast of Jutland, there are two
mounds, always known traditionally as those of Gorm the Old and his
queen Thyra Danebod--the Beloved. The date of Gorm's death seems now
to be accepted as 950 A.D.;[345] but it is not clear whether
he erected the tomb himself, or whether it is due to the filial piety
of his son Harald Blaatand, or Blue-Tooth, and in which case its date
would be 968.[346] Saxo Grammaticus at least tells us that he buried
his mother in the tumulus, and then set a whole army of men and oxen
at work to remove from the Jutland shore an immense stone--a little
rock--and bring it to the place where his mother lay inhumed.[347]
That stone still exists, and has sculptured on one side a dragon,
which calls forcibly to our mind that found on Maes-Howe (woodcut No.
85), and on the other side a figure, which is, no doubt, intended to
represent Christ on the cross. On the two sides are Runic inscriptions,
in which he records his affection for his father and mother and his
conversion to the Christian faith.

So far as I can ascertain, the tomb of King Gorm has not yet been
opened. That of Thyra was explored many years ago--in 1820 apparently;
but no sections or details have been published, so that it is
extremely difficult to ascertain even the dimensions. Engelhardt
reports the height as 43 feet, and the diameter as 240 feet;[348]
Worsaae gives the height as 75 feet, and the diameter as 180 feet, and
he is probably correct.[349] But in Denmark anything that cannot be put
into a glass case in a museum is so completely rejected as valueless
that no one cares to record it. When entered, it was found that it
had been plundered probably in the middle ages, and all that remained
were the following articles:--A small silver goblet, lined with gold
on the inside, and ornamented with interlaced dragons on the exterior;
some fibulæ, tortoise-shaped, and ornamented with fantastic heads of
animals; some buckle-heads, and other objects of no great value. The
chamber in which these objects were found measured 23 feet in length by
8 feet 3 inches in width, and was 5 feet high;[350] the walls and roof,
formed of massive slabs of oak, were originally, it appears, hung with
tapestries, but these had nearly all perished.

Not only are these monuments of Gorm and Thyra interesting in
themselves, and deserving of much more attention than the Danes have
hitherto bestowed upon them, but they are most important in their
bearing on the general history of monuments of this class. In the
first place, their date and destination are fixed beyond dispute, and
this being so, the only ground is taken away on which any _à priori_
argument could be based with regard to the age of any mound anterior
to the tenth century. As soon as it is realised that sepulchral mounds
have been erected in the tenth century, it is impossible to argue that
it is unlikely or improbable that Silbury Hill or any other mound in
England may not belong to the sixth or any subsequent century down to
that time. The argument is, however, even more pertinent with reference
to Maes-Howe and other tumuli in the Orkneys. If the Scandinavian kings
were buried in "howes" down to the year 1000--I believe they extend
much beyond that date--it is almost certain that the Orcadian Jarls
were interred in similar mounds down at least to their conversion to
Christianity (A.D. 986). Whether Maes-Howe was erected as
a sepulchre for the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok, as John Stuart seems to
infer from the inscriptions,[351] or of Havard Earl, as I have above
attempted to show, is of little consequence to the general argument.
That it was the grave of a Scandinavian Jarl, erected between 800 and
1000 A.D., seems quite certain, and my own impression is that
it is almost as certainly the tomb of the individual Jarl to whom I
have ventured to ascribe it.

As before mentioned, no argument against these views can be drawn
from the fact that Thyra's tomb is lined with slabs of oak, while the
chamber at Maes-Howe is formed with stone. The difference of the two
localities is sufficient to account for this. Denmark has always been
famous for its forests, and especially on the shores of the Baltic, at
Jellinge, wood of the noblest dimensions was always available, whereas
the stone of the country was hard and intractable. In the Orkneys, on
the other hand, there is absolutely no timber of natural growth big
enough to afford a good-sized walking-stick, and stone is not only
everywhere abundant, but splits easily into slabs, self-faced, and most
easily worked, so that stone, and stone only, would be the material
employed in the Orkneys for that purpose, as wood would also be the
best and most available material in Denmark.

If, before leaving this branch of the subject, we turn back for a few
minutes to the Irish monuments, we are now in a position to judge more
correctly of the probabilities of the case than we were. Assuming the
three-chambered tumulus at New Grange to have been erected between the
years 200 and 400, and Maes-Howe and Jellinge between 800 and 1000
A.D., we have a period of from five to six, it may possibly be seven,
centuries between these monuments. Is this more than is sufficient to
account for the difference between them, or is it too little? It is
not easy to give a categorical answer to such a question, but judging
from the experience gained from other styles, in different parts of the
world, the conclusion generally would be that the time is in excess
of what is required. That there was progress, considerable progress
indeed, made in the interval between the Irish and Scandinavian
monuments, cannot be denied, but that it should have required five
centuries to achieve this advance is hardly what would be expected, and
it would be difficult to quote another example of a progress so slow.
Yet it is hardly possible to bring down New Grange to the age of St.
Patrick (A.D. 436), and as difficult to carry back Maes-Howe
beyond Ragnar Lothbrok (794 at the extreme), and between these dates
there are only 358 years; but we must certainly add something at
either one end or the other; and if we do this, we obtain an amount of
progress so slow that it would be almost unaccountable, but upon the
assumption that they are the works of two different peoples. At the
time the sepulchre on the Boyne was erected, Ireland was energetically
and rapidly progressive, and her arts were more flourishing than might
have been expected from her then state of civilization. When Maes-Howe
was erected, the native population was poor and perishing, and as the
lordly Vikings would hardly condescend to act as masons themselves,
they did the best they could with the means at their disposal. Explain
it, however, as we may, it seems impossible to allow a longer time
between the mounds at Jellinge and Stennis and those on the Boyne than
has been accorded above; and as it seems equally difficult to bring
them nearer to one another, the probability seems to be in favour of
the dates already assigned to them.

To return, however, from this digression; besides those just mentioned,
Denmark possesses a nearly complete series of royal tombs such as
are not to be found in any other country of Europe. Even Worsaae
acknowledges the existence of that of Frode Frodegode, who lived
about the Christian era, of Amlech, near Wexio--Shakespeare's Hamlet,
of Humble, and Hjarne,[352] besides those of Hildetand, and Gorm
and Thyra, already mentioned. If the Danes would only undertake a
systematic examination of these royal sepulchres, it might settle many
of the disputed points of mediæval archæology. To explore tombs to
which no tradition attaches may add to the treasures of their museums,
but can only by accident elucidate either the history of the country
or the progress of its arts. If ten or twelve tombs with known names
attached to them were opened, one of two things must happen: either
they will show a succession and a progress relative to the age of their
reputed occupants, or no such sequence will be traceable. In the first
case the gain to history and archæology would be enormous, and it is
an opportunity of settling disputed questions such as no other country
affords. If, on the other hand, no such connection can be traced,
there is an end of much of the foundations on which the reasoning of
the previous pages is based, but in either case such an enquiry could
not fail to throw a flood of light on the subject which we were trying
to elucidate. The fear is that all have been rifled. The Northmen
certainly spared none of the tombs in the countries they conquered, and
our experience of Maes-Howe and Thyra's tomb would lead us to fear that
after their conversion to Christianity they were as little inclined to
spare those of their own ancestors. All they however cared for were the
objects composed of precious metals; so enough may still be left for
the less avaricious wants of the antiquary.


So far as is at present known, there are not any tumuli of importance
or any battle-fields marked with great stones in the north of Germany;
but the dolmens there are both numerous and interesting, and belong
to all the classes found in Scandinavia, and, so far as can be
ascertained, are nearly identical in form. Nothing, however, would
surprise me less than if it should turn out that both barrows and Bauta
stones were common there, especially in the island of Rügen and along
the shores of the Baltic as far east as Livonia. The Germans have
not yet turned their attention to this class of their antiquities.
They have been too busy sublimating their national heroes into gods
to think of stones that tell no tales. Whenever they do set to work
upon them, they will, no doubt, do it with that thoroughness which
is characteristic of all they attempt. But as the investigation will
probably have to pass through the solar myth stage of philosophy, it
may yet be a long time before their history reaches the regions of
practical common sense.

No detailed maps having been published, it is extremely difficult
to feel sure of the distribution of these monuments in any part of
the northern dolmen region; but the following, which is abstracted
from Bonstetten's 'Essai sur les Dolmens,' may convey some general
information on the subject, especially when combined with the map (p.
275), which is taken, with very slight modifications, from that which
accompanied his work.

According to Bonstetten there are no dolmens in Poland, nor in Posen.
They first appear on the Pregel, near Königsberg; but are very rare in
Prussia, only two others being known, one at Marienwerder, the other at
Konitz. In Silesia there is one at Klein-Raden, near Oppeln; another
is found in the district of Liegnitz, and they are very numerous in
the Uckermark, Altmark, in Anhalt, and Prussian Saxony, as well as in
Pomerania and the island of Rügen. They are still more numerous in
Mecklenburg, which is described as peculiarly rich in monuments of this
class. Hanover possesses numerous dolmens, except in the south-eastern
districts, such as Göttingen, Oberharz, and Hildesheim. To make up for
this, however, in the northern districts, Lüneburg, Osnabrück, and
Stade, at least two hundred are found. The grand-duchy of Oldenburg
contains some of the largest dolmens in Germany; one of these, near
Wildesheim, is 23 feet long; another, near Engelmanns-Becke, is
surrounded by an enclosure of stones measuring 37 feet by 23, each
stone being 10 feet in height, while the cap stone of a third is 20
feet by 10. In Brunswick there were several near Helmstädt, but they
are now destroyed. In Saxony some rare examples are found as far south
as the Erzgebirge, and two were recently destroyed in the environs of
Dresden. Keeping along the northern line, we find them in the three
northern provinces of Holland, Gröningen, Ober-Yssel, and especially in
Drenthe, where they exist in great numbers, but none to the southward
of these provinces, and nowhere do they seem to touch the Rhine or its
bordering lands; but a few are found in the grand-duchy of Luxembourg
as in a sort of oasis, halfway between the southern or French dolmen
region and that of northern Germany.

From the North German districts they extend through Holstein and
Schleswig into Jutland and the Danish isles, but are most numerous on
the eastern or Baltic side of the Cimbrian peninsula, and they are also
very frequent in the south of Sweden and the adjacent islands. Dolmens
properly so called are not known in Norway, but, as above mentioned,
cairns and monuments of that class, are not wanting there.

The value of this distribution will be more easily appreciated when we
have ascertained the limits of the French field, but meanwhile it may
be convenient to remark that, unless the dolmens can be traced very
much further eastward, there is a tremendous gulf before we reach the
nearest outlyers of the eastern dolmen field. There is a smaller, but
very distinct, gap in the country occupied by the Belgæ, between it
and the French field, and another, but practically very much smaller
one, between it and the British isles. This is a gap because the
intervening space is occupied by the sea; but as it is evident from
the distribution of all the northern dolmens in the proximity to the
shores and in the islands that the people who erected them were a
sea-faring people, and as we know that they possessed vessels capable
of navigating these seas, it is practically no gap at all. We know
historically how many Jutes, Angles, Frisians, and people of similar
origin, under the generic name of Saxons, flocked to our shores in the
early centuries of the Christian era, and afterwards what an important
part the Danes and Northmen played in our history, and what numbers
of them landed and settled in Great Britain, either as colonists or
conquerors, at different epochs, down to at least the eleventh century.
If, therefore, we admit the dolmens to be historic, or, in other words,
that the erection of megalithic monuments was practised during the
first ten centuries after the Christian era, we have no difficulty
in understanding where our examples came from, or to whom they are
due. If, on the other hand, we assume that they are prehistoric, we
are entirely at sea regarding them or their connection with those on
the continent. The only continental people we know of who settled in
Britain before the Roman times were the Belgæ, and they are the only
people between the Pillars of Hercules and the Gulf of Riga who, having
a sea-board, have also no dolmens or megalithic remains of any sort.
All the others have them more or less, but the Northern nations did
not, so far as we know, colonise this country before the Christian era.

       *       *       *       *       *

As all the Northern antiquaries have made up their minds that these
dolmens generally belong to the mythic period of the Stone age, and
that only a few of them extend down to the semi-historic age of bronze,
it is in vain to expect that they would gather any traditions or record
any names that might connect them with persons known in history. We
are, therefore, wholly without assistance from history or tradition
to guide us either in classifying them or in any attempt to ascertain
their age, while the indications which enable us to connect them with
our own, or with one another, are few and far between.

[Illustration: 106. Dolmen at Herrestrup.]

Among the few that give any sure indications of their age, one of the
most interesting is at Herrestrup, in Zeeland, which has recently
been disinterred from the tumulus that once covered it.[353] On it
are engraved some half-dozen representations of ships, such as the
Vikings were in the habit of drawing, and which are found in great
quantities on the west coast of Göttenburg.[354] According to the best
authorities, these representations range from about A.D. 500
to 900,[355] and some may perhaps be more modern. Those in this dolmen
do not appear to be either among the most ancient or the most modern,
and if we fix on the eighth century as their date, we shall not be very
far wrong. That they are also coeval with the monument seems perfectly
certain. We cannot fancy any Viking engraving these on a deserted
dolmen, say even 100 years old, and then covering it up with a tumulus,
as this one was till recently. Had it never been covered up, any
hypothesis might be proposed, but the mound settles that point. Besides
the ships, however, there are an almost equal number of small circles
with crosses in them, on the cap stone. Whether these are intended to
represent chariot-wheels, or some other object, is not clear, but if
we turn back to woodcut No. 41, representing the side-stone of the
dolmen at Aspatria, we find the identical object represented there,
and in such a manner that, making allowance for the difference of
style in the century that has elapsed between the execution of the two
engravings, they must be assumed to be identical. No engravings--so
far as I know--have been published of the objects found in this Danish
dolmen, but in the English one, as already mentioned, the objects found
belonged to the most modern Iron age; such things, in fact, as will
perfectly agree with the date of the eighth century. Among them, as
will be recollected, was the snaffle-bit, so like, though certainly
more modern than, Stukeley's bit found in Silbury Hill. We have thus
three tumuli which from their engravings or their contents confirm
one another to a most satisfactory extent, and render the dates above
assigned to them, to say the least of it, very probable. If the date
thus obtained for the Aspatria monument is accepted, it is further
interesting as giving that of those mysterious concentric circles, with
a line passing through them from the centre, which have been found in
such numbers on the rocks in the north of England and in Scotland.[356]
These are, so far as I know, the only examples of these circles which
were buried, and were consequently associated with other objects which
assist in fixing their age.

[Illustration: 107. Dolmen at Halskov. From a drawing by Madsen.]

As before hinted, many of the monuments engraved by Madsen[357] are so
extremely like those in the field of Northern Moytura that it is almost
impossible to believe that they were erected by a different race of
people, or at any great distance of time. The one, for instance, at
Halskov is so like the dolmen and circle represented in woodcut No.
61 that the one might almost pass for the other, were it not that the
photograph is taken from the wrong side, to bring out the resemblance,
as it is seen on the spot, while in others the resemblance is as great,
or even greater. It is very unsatisfactory, however, picking these
points of similarity from books, some of the engravings in which are
from imperfect drawings. In others, artistic effect has been more aimed
at than truth, and some are taken from photographs, which, though
they give a truthful, generally give an unintelligent representation
of the object. It is only by personal familiarity that all the facts
can be verified and pitfalls avoided. But it is always useful to turn
attention to any forms that may seem novel, and explain peculiarities
in others which but for such means of comparison would remain
unnoticed. Here, for instance, is one from Sjöborg, which resembles
the Countless Stones at Aylesford, as drawn by Dr. Stukeley (woodcut
No. 27). It is found at a place called Oroust, in Böhuslan,[358] and
stands on a low mound encircled by twenty large stones at its base. The
chamber is low, and semicircular in form, and in front of it stands
what the Germans call a sentinel stone. No date is given to this
monument by Sjöborg, for he was so far indoctrinated in modern theories
that he believed all dolmens to be prehistoric, though all the circles
and Bauta stones marking battle-fields were to him as essentially
historic as any monuments in his country. From its appearance, the
dolmen at Oroust may be of the same age as the Countless Stones at
Aylesford, and if other monuments in the two countries could be
compared with anything like precision, their forms and traditions might
mutually throw great light on their real histories.

[Illustration: 108. Dolmen at Oroust. From Sjöborg.]

It is not only, however, from the analogies with similar monuments
in this country, or from their bearing on their history, that the
Scandinavian dolmens are interesting to us. They have forms and
peculiarities of their own which are well worth studying. If materials
existed for mastering these differences, their aggregate would make up
a sum which would enable us to separate the Scandinavian group from the
British, as we can our own from the French, and the French from that
of Northern Germany. A great deal more must, however, be published,
and in a more accurate form, before this can be done; but, whenever
it is possible, it promises to afford most satisfactory results to
ethnographical science. The problem is similar to that which was
known to exist in reference to pointed Gothic architecture. That is
now admitted to be a Celtic-French invention, but it was adopted by
the Spaniards and Italians on the one hand, and by the Germans and
ourselves on the other; although always with a difference. No antiquary
would now for an instant hesitate in discriminating between an Italian
and a German or between a Spanish and an English example, though the
difference is so small that it can hardly be expressed in words, and
must be carefully represented in order to be perceived. In like manner,
the rude-stone style of art seems to have been invented by some
pre-Celtic people, but to have been adopted by Celts, by Scandinavian,
by British, and Iberian races--perhaps not always pure in their own
countries, but always with considerable differences, which, when
perceived and classified, will enable us to distinguish between the
works of the several races as clearly as we can between the mediæval
styles that superseded them.

[Illustration: 109. Diagram from Sjöborg, pl. i. fig. A.]

Among these peculiarities, the most easily recognised are the square
or oblong enclosures which surround tumuli, and, sometimes, one, at
others two, or even three free-standing dolmens. In order to make the
point clear, I have quoted a diagram from Sjöborg, though it is almost
the only instance in this work in which a woodcut does not represent a
really existing object. I have no doubt, however, that it is correct,
as old Olaus Wormius represents one of two similar ones which in his
day existed near Roeskilde. Both had enclosures 50 paces square,
enclosing one tumulus with a circle of stones round its base, another
halfway up, and, the text says, an altar-dolmen on the top, though the
woodcut does not show it. The other, on the road to Birck, in Zeeland,
enclosed three tumuli in juxtaposition, the one in the centre similar
to that just described, and with a dolmen on its summit; two smaller
mounds are represented in juxtaposition on either side, but with only
a circle of stones round their base.[359] Other varieties no doubt
exist, but modern antiquaries have not favoured us with any drawings of
them. From the diagram and description it will be perceived that in so
far as the mound itself is concerned these Danish tumuli are identical
with those already quoted as existing in Auvergne (woodcut No. 8), but
so far as I know, the square enclosure does not exist in France, nor
does it in this country. These square enclosures seem, however, to
belong to a very modern date, and the stones, consequently, are small,
and may therefore have been removed, which could easily be done; but
still there seems little doubt that many of them may still remain, and
could be found if looked for.

[Illustration: 110. Dolmen near Lüneburg. From Bonstetten.]

One of the most striking examples I know of, an oblong rectangular
enclosure, enclosing a single free-standing dolmen, is that near
Lüneburg, figured by Bonstetten[360] (woodcut No. 110); he seldom,
however, indulges in dimensions, and being perfectly convinced that
all are prehistoric, he never speculates as to dates, nor condescends
to notice traditions. What we know of it is therefore confined to the
representation, which after all may be taken from some other work, as
he rarely favours us with references. Two others are represented by von
Estorff as existing near Uelzen, in Hanover.[361]

A good example of two dolmens in a rectangular enclosure is that at
Valdbygaards, near Soröe, in Zeeland. Here the enclosure is about 70
feet in one direction by 20 feet in the other--outside measurement. In
this instance, the enclosing stones are smaller in proportion to the
dolmens than is usually the case. On the same plate, Madsen represents
a single dolmen in a much squarer enclosure.[362] It, like that at
Halskov (woodcut No. 107), is represented as standing on a knoll, but
whether dolmens stand so or on the flat, like that at Valdbygaards, it
is quite certain they never were enclosed in tumuli, but always stood
free, as they now do.

[Illustration: 111. Double Dolmen at Valdbygaards. From Madsen.]

[Illustration: 112. Plan of Double Dolmen at Valdbygaards.]

[Illustration: 113. Triple Dolmen, Höbisch. From Keysler.]

For three dolmens in one square enclosure we are obliged to go back
to old Keysler, though, in this case, the engraving is so good that
there can be very little doubt of its correctness.[363] It is situated
near Höbisch, in Mark Brandenburg, consists of an outer enclosure of
forty-four stones, and is 118 paces in circuit, and in the middle
are twelve stones, of which six bear three large stones, placed
transversely upon them. It is very much to be regretted that no better
illustration of this curious monument exists, as it probably very
closely resembles those in Drenthe, with which, indeed, he compares it;
and as these form one of the most remarkable groups of this class of
monuments on the continent, it would be most desirable to trace their
connection with others farther east.

A similar monument to that at Höbisch is figured by Sjöborg (vol. i.
pl. 6), but without the enclosure; and a third, Oroust, in Böhuslan
(pl. 3); but in this instance the three long stones are surrounded by
a circular enclosure with two sentinel stones outside; and there are
several others which show similar peculiarities in a greater or less

The buried dolmens in Scandinavia are, in some respects, even more
interesting than those which are, and were always intended to be,
exposed, but our knowledge of them is necessarily more limited than of
the other class. Sjöborg deserts us almost entirely here, and Madsen
illustrates only two, while the modern antiquaries have been more
anxious to secure and classify their contents than to illustrate the
chambers from which they were obtained. As a rule, they may be older
than the free-standing examples, but they do not look old, though,
as metal has not generally been found in them, it is assumed they
all belong to the Stone age. One example will suffice to display the
general features of the older group of this class of monuments. The
next two woodcuts present an internal view and plan of one near Uby,
in the district of Holbak, in Zeeland. It was opened in 1845, and
measured then 13 feet in height, and had a circumference of upwards
of 300 feet. The chamber measures 13 feet by 8 feet, and is walled in
by nine great stones, which have been split or hewn, so as to obtain
a flat surface towards the interior, and the interstices are filled
in with smaller stones very neatly fitted. The entrance gallery is 20
feet in length, and is closed, or capable of being so, by two doors.
From the disposition of the entrance it certainly does not appear that
it was intended to be hid. The whole appearance is that of a dignified
approach to the tomb. Had it been meant to be closed, the chamber
would, no doubt, have been in the centre of the tumulus, instead of
being near one side, as it is. The other monument of the same class,
illustrated by Madsen,[364] is near Smidstrup, in the district of
Fredericksborg. It is very similar in dimensions and details, but has
the peculiarity of having two chambers placed side by side, with two
separate entrances, and the chambers affect a curve more perfectly
elliptical than is attained in that at Uby.

[Illustration: 114. View of Interior of Chamber at Uby. From Madsen.]

[Illustration: 115. Plan of Chamber at Uby. From Madsen.]

These last examples from Madsen's work are further interesting to us
as illustrating the difference between dolmens or chambers always
intended to be buried in tumuli and those which were always meant to be
exposed. In the chambers at Uby and Smidstrup the stones are placed so
closely together that very little packing between them was sufficient
to keep out the earth, and the passages to them and other arrangements
all indicate their original destination. The case, however, is widely
different with the dolmens at Halskov and Valdbygaards, or those
at Lüneburg or Höbisch, which evidently are now on their mounds as
originally designed. With a very little study it seems easy to detect
the original intentions in all these monuments; but there is this
further difference. None of those intended to be exposed were ever
buried, while many which were meant to have been covered up never
received their intended envelope.

A monument having a considerable affinity to the two last quoted
exists, or perhaps rather existed, at Axevalla, in Westergothland.
It was opened apparently in 1805, and the representations are taken
from drawings then made by a Captain Lindgren, who superintended the
excavation by the king's command. It consists of one apartment 21 feet
long by 8 feet wide and 9 feet high. The sides and roof are composed
of slabs of red granite, which, if the plates are to be depended upon,
were hewn or at least shaped in some mechanical fashion. Instead of the
bodies being laid on the floor of the chamber as was usually the case,
and being found mixed up with _débris_ and utensils of various kinds,
each of the nineteen who occupied this chamber had a little cist to
itself, so small and irregular-shaped, like those at Rose Hill (woodcut
No. 39), that the body had to be doubled up, in a most uncomfortable
position, to be placed in the cist. This was by no means an uncommon
mode of interment in those early ages, but if the skeletons were really
found in the attitudes here represented, their interment must date
from very recent times indeed. I know there is nothing more common
in archæological books than to represent skeletons sitting in most
free and easy attitudes in their boxes.[365] But if all the flesh had
disappeared as completely as these drawings represent, the integuments
must have gone also, and if they were either rotted or reduced to
dust, the skeleton must have collapsed and been found in a heap on the
floor. It would be interesting to know how long, either in very dry
or in moist places, the integuments would last so as to prevent this
collapse before they were disturbed. No qualified person has yet given
an opinion on such a subject, but the time could hardly extend to many
centuries. But does the case really exist? are not all these queer
skeletons merely the imaginings of enthusiastic antiquaries?

[Illustration: 116. Dolmen at Axevalla. From Sjöborg.]

Be this as it may, these elliptical and long rectangular dolmens,
with their arrangement of cists and entrances in the centre of the
longer side, seem so distinguished from those generally found in other
countries as to mark another province. It seems scarcely open to doubt
that the oval forms are the older, though what their age may be is not
so clear, nor have any descriptions of their contents been published
which would enable us to form distinct opinion on the subject. Flint
implements have been found in them, but, so far as I can gather, no
bronze. According to the Danish system, therefore, they are all before
the time of Solomon or the siege of Troy. It may be so, but I doubt
it exceedingly. Those who excavated the Axevalla tomb reported that
something like an inscription was found on one of the walls (woodcut
No. 116, fig. A); but whether it was an inscription or a natural
formation is by no means clear--at all events, as we have no copy of
it, it hardly helps us in arriving at a date.

[Illustration: 117. Head-stone of Kivik Grave. From Sjöborg.]

In some respects, the Axevalla tomb resembles the grave near Kivik, in
the district of Cimbrisham, near the southern extremity of Sweden. This
is the most celebrated of Swedish graves. It is mentioned as perfect by
Linnæus in 1749, but was shortly afterwards opened, and drawings and
illustrations of it have from time to time been published since, and
given rise to the usual diversity of opinion. Suhm and Sjöborg seem to
agree in connecting it with a battle fought in that neighbourhood by
Ragnar Lothbrok, about the year 750, in which the son of the then king
was slain.[366] This date appears probable; had it been later, there
would almost certainly have been found Runes on some of its stones; if
earlier, the representations of the human figure would hardly have been
so perfect. One stone found elsewhere (woodcut No. 117),[367] which
seems to have been its head-stone, has a curious resemblance to the
head-stone of the Dol ar Marchant, at Locmariaker, illustrated farther
on. The likeness may be accidental, but, as in all these cases, it
is difficult to believe that five or six centuries can have elapsed
between two monuments which show so little progress; for whether this
stone belonged to the Kivik grave or not, it certainly is of the same
age and design, some of the figures on it being identical with those
found in the tomb, and that can hardly be older than the date above
quoted. Another of the stones of this tomb has two of those circles
enclosing crosses which are seen on the Herrestrup dolmen and the
Aspatria stone, all of which probably belong to the eighth century. The
tomb itself is not remarkable for its dimensions, being only 14 feet
long by 3 feet wide, and almost 4 feet in height. It is much too large,
however, for any single warrior's grave, but we are not told whether
it was occupied by a number of small cists like that at Axevalla. The
probability, however, is that this was the case, but 120 years ago men
were not accurate observers of antiquarian phenomena.

Besides these, there are two other forms of tombs which, so far as is
yet known, are quite peculiar to the Scandinavian province. The first
of these are the so-called ship graves, from their form. They consist
of two segments of a circle joined together at the ends, so as to
represent the deck of a vessel, and are of all sizes, from 20 or 30
feet to 200 or 300 feet. They are generally found on the sea-shore, and
it seems hardly to be doubted that they mark the graves of Vikings.

The other form is quite as peculiar, but more difficult to explain.
It is marked by a range of stones forming an equilateral triangle,
sometimes straight-lined, but as frequently the lines curve inwards
so as to restrict the internal space considerably. It is by no means
clear what suggested this form, or what it was intended to represent.
It is, however, found on battle-fields (woodcut No. 118), and solitary
examples are frequent in Sjöborg's plates, sometimes with a Bauta
stone in the centre. The one hypothesis that seems to account for this
form, is that it is the "Cuneatus ordo" of Olaus Magnus, and that it
marked a spot where a combined phalanx of horse and foot fought and
conquered.[368] The probability is that where single it marks the grave
of a particular rank either in the army or in civil life.

All these forms are shown in the next woodcut, from a group found in
the peninsula of Hjortehammer, in Bleking, in the south of Sweden, but
others are found in the island at Amrom, and in many other places.[369]
It has been disputed whether these represent battle-fields or are the
ordinary graves of the inhabitants of the district in which they are
found. That those found on the shore at Freyrsö (woodcut No. 101) mark
the graves of those who fell in Blodoxe's battle there in the tenth
century seems quite certain, but whether this was always the case
may be open to doubt; but certainly a sandy peninsula, like that of
Hjortehammer, seems a most unlikely place for peaceful men to bury
their dead, especially at a time when not one-tenth part of the land
around could have been under cultivation.

[Illustration: 118. Graves at Hjortehammer. From Worsaae.]

For our present purposes it is of no great consequence which opinion
prevails, as these forms have no bearing on those of other countries,
especially as their date does not seem to be doubted. Worsaae places
them all between the years 700 and 1000,[370] or in the second and
latest Iron age, and as no one seems to dispute this, it may be
accepted as an established fact. Their peculiarities of form, and the
smallness of the stones of which most of them are composed, are such
that the date here ascribed to them does not necessarily bring down
that of the true megalithic remains to anything like the same age. It
takes away, however, all improbability from the assertion that these
may be much more modern than was supposed, and this much is certain
that there was no break between the great English and Irish circles
and the Viking graves; or, in other words, men did not cease to mark
their sepulchres with circles and cairns, and then after a lapse of
centuries revive the custom, and begin it again on a smaller scale.
There may be a descent, but there was no solution of continuity, and
any one can consequently form an idea how long a time must have elapsed
before the great Wiltshire circles could have degenerated into those of

[Illustration: 119. Circles at Aschenrade. From Bähr.]

There is one other group of monuments it seems worth while to
illustrate before leaving this branch of the subject. They are found
in the extreme east of the province, on the banks of the Dwina, in
Livonia. At a place called Aschenrade, about fifty miles as the crow
flies from Riga, is a group shown in the accompanying woodcut.[371] The
arrangement is unusual in Europe, but is met with in Algeria, and seems
to be only such a combination of the square enclosures of Scandinavia
as we would expect to find in a cemetery, as contradistinguished from a

In these graves was found enormous wealth of bronze and other metal
and personal ornaments, many of which are engraved in Professor
Bähr's book. They resemble in many respects the celebrated "find" at
Hallstadt, in the Salzkammergut;[372] but mixed with these Livonian
treasures were great numbers of coins and implements of iron of very
modern form. The coins are classified as follows:--

  German coins, dating from                 A.D. 936 to 1040.

  Anglo-Saxon coins, dating from        "        991  " 1036.

  Byzantine coins, dating from          "        911  " 1025.

  Arabic or Kufic coins, dating from    "        906  "  999.

It is curious that the Eastern coins should be so much earlier than the
others, but they are only five in number, and may have been preserved
as curiosities. The dates of the others prove, at all events, that some
of these tombs are not of earlier date than 1040, and all, probably,
are included in the century which preceded that epoch.

Besides these, however, there are tumuli at a place called Segewolde,
and circles, sometimes with a stone in the centre, at Bajard, and no
doubt other remains of the same class in the district. The purpose,
however, of the only book I know on the subject was not to illustrate
the forms of tombs, but that of the objects found in them, and to trace
the ethnographic relations of the people who possessed them with the
other tribes who at various times inhabited that district. The dates of
the whole, according to their describer, may safely be included between
the eighth and the twelfth century.[373]


The most southern group of these monuments belonging to the northern
division is one of the most extensive, though unfortunately one of
the least known. It is situated almost exclusively in the province of
Drenthe, in North Holland, where the Hunebeds--giants' beds or graves,
as they are locally called--are spread over an area extending some
twenty miles north and south, and probably ten or twelve miles in
the opposite direction. This tract of country is a bare open heath,
which even now is only partially cultivated, or indeed capable of
cultivation, and at no time could have supported a population at all in
proportion to so extensive a group of monuments.

As long ago as 1720, Keysler drew attention to them, and gave
a representation of one in order to show its similarity to
Stonehenge.[374] The engraving, however, is so defective that it is
impossible to make out what it represents, and as no dimensions or
statistics are given, it adds very little to our knowledge. A short
paper on the subject appeared in the 'Journal of the Archæological
Association' in 1870, but unfortunately without any illustrations,[375]
and we are consequently dependent for our knowledge of them almost
entirely to a work published at Utrecht in 1848, by the late Dr.
Janssen, keeper of the antiquities in the museum at Leyden. This work
is in many respects most painstaking and satisfactory; but, though it
is hardly correct to say it, is without illustrations, the Hunebeds
are represented by conventional symbols, which no one would guess
were intended for buildings of any sort without a most careful study
of the book. I have ventured to try to translate one of these into
ordinary forms, in woodcut No. 120, but without at all guaranteeing
its correctness. It is, however, sufficiently accurate to explain the
general nature of the monuments.

Within the area above described, Janssen measured and described
fifty-one Hunebeds still existing, and they were probably at one time
much more numerous, as he regrets the loss of four which he remembers
in his youth; and several others have been very much ruined in very
recent times. This, fortunately, is not likely to happen again, as,
with a liberality and intelligence not shown by any other government in
Europe, the Dutch have purchased the Hunebeds and the ground on which
they stand, with a right of way to the nearest road, so that, so far as
possible, they will be protected from future depredations.

Of these fifty-one monuments only one is a dolmen, in the sense in
which we usually understand it, meaning thereby a single cap stone,
supported by three, or, as in this instance, by four uprights. This one
is near Exlo, and is one of the few that formed a chamber in a tumulus.
A few have three cap stones, and from that number they range up to
ten or twelve, with at least double that number of supports. They are
all, in fact, of the class which the French call "allées couvertes,"
or "grottes des fées;" Calliagh Birra's house (woodcut No. 80) and
the dolmens at Glen Columbkill are of the same class. But the Drenthe
dolmens have one peculiarity not found either in France or Ireland:
that they are all closed at both ends, and the entrance, where there is
one, is always on the longer side. In this respect they more resemble
the Scandinavian examples, such as the tomb at Axevalla (woodcut No.
116), or that at Uby (woodcut No. 114).

[Illustration: 120. Plan of Hunebed near Emmen.]

The annexed attempted restoration of one near Emmen will give a fair
idea of their general arrangements. It is 49 feet long over all, and
internally from 4 to 6 feet in width. It is roofed with nine or ten
stones, some of considerable dimensions. Some of these Hunebeds have
a range of stones round them, not arranged in a circle or oval form,
but, as in this instance, following the lines of the central chamber.
This is the case with another near the same place, which is 125 feet
in length over all. When closely examined, however, it does not seem
to be one Hunebed, but three ranging in a straight line, with a small
space between each. Two have five and one six cap stones. As a rule,
each cap stone stands on two uprights, and though frequently they touch
one another, as often they form really independent trilithons. It was
no doubt this fact that induced Keysler to compare these monuments with
Stonehenge, though in fact no two sets of rude-stone monuments could
well be more dissimilar either in arrangement or construction. As
will be seen from the annexed view of one near Ballo[376] (woodcut No.
121), they are formed of unshaped granite boulders. Sometimes, it may
be, artificially split, but certainly untouched by the chisel. All that
has apparently been done has been to select those most appropriate in
form for the purposes to which they were to be applied, and then rudely
to heap them one upon the other, but in such a manner as to leave wide
gaps everywhere between the stones composing the structure.

[Illustration: 121. Dolmen at Ballo. From a Photograph.]

       *       *       *       *       *

The first question that arises with regard to these Hunebeds is, were
they originally covered with earth or not? That some of the smaller
ones were and are is clear enough, and some of medium size are still
partially so; but the largest, and many of the smaller, do not show a
vestige of any such covering; and it seems impossible to believe that
on a tract of wretched barren heath, where the fee-simple of the land
is not now worth ten shillings an acre, any one could, at any time,
have taken the trouble to dig down and cart away such enormous mounds
as would have been required to cover these monuments. It seems here
clearer than almost anywhere else that, even if it had been intended
to cover them, that intention, in more than half the cases, was never
carried into effect.

It may be taken for granted that these Hunebeds were at one time
much more numerous in Drenthe than they now are, but it is a much
more difficult point to ascertain whether they extended into the
neighbouring provinces or not. One is found in Gröningen, and one in
Friesland, and none elsewhere. It may, of course, be that in these more
fertile and thickly inhabited districts they have been utilised, or
removed as incumbrances from the soil, while in Drenthe their component
parts were of no value, and they are useful as sheep-pens and pigstyes;
and to these uses they seem to have been freely applied. It may be,
also, that there are no granite boulders in the neighbouring provinces,
and that they are common in Drenthe. There certainly seem to be none
in Guelderland, a country in which we would expect to find monuments
of this class, as it is the natural line of connection with the German
dolmen region; and unless it is that there were no materials handy for
their construction, it is difficult to understand their absence.

As these Hunebeds have been open and exposed for centuries at least--if
they were not so originally--and have been used by the peasantry for
every kind of purpose, it is in vain to expect that anything will now
be found in them which can throw much light on their age or use. We
can only hope that an untouched or only partially plundered example
may be found in some of the numerous tumuli which still exist all
over the country. I confess I do not feel sanguine that this will be
the case. I would hope more from the digging up of the floor of those
which are known, and a careful collection of any fragments of pottery
and other objects which may be found in them. Nothing of any intrinsic
value will be found, of course; but what is perfectly worthless for
any other purpose may be most important in an antiquarian sense.
Judging them from a general abstract point of view, they do not seem
of high antiquity, and may range from the Christian era down to the
time when the people of this country were converted to Christianity,
whenever that may have been. This, however, is only inferred from their
similarity to other monuments mentioned in the preceding pages, not
from any special evidence gathered from themselves or from any local
tradition bearing on their antiquity.

When we have examined the megalithic remains of Brittany and of the
north of France, we shall be in a better position than we now are to
appreciate the importance of the gap that exists between the French
and Scandinavian provinces; but in the meanwhile it may be convenient
to remark even here that it hardly seems doubtful that the Hunebeds
of Drenthe and the Grottes des fées of Brittany are expressions of
the same feeling, and, generally, that the megalithic remains of the
southern and northern divisions of the western parts of the European
continent are the works of similar if not identical races, applied to
the same uses, and probably are of about the same age.

These two provinces are now separated by the Rhine valley. It is
probably not too broad an assertion to say there are no true Rude-Stone
Monuments in the valleys of the Rhine or Scheldt,[377] or of any of
their tributaries, or, in fact, in any of the countries inhabited by
the Germans and Belgæ. The dolmen-building races were, in fact, cut
in two by the last-named race on their way to colonise Britain. When
that took place, we have no exact means of knowing. According to Cæsar,
shortly before his time, Divitiacus ruled over the Belgæ of Gaul and
Britain as one province;[378] and the inference from all we know--it
is very little--is that the Belgian immigration to this island was of
recent date at that time. Whether it was one thousand or ten thousand
years, the fact that interests us here is that it took place before
the age of the rude-stone monuments. If we admit that the peoples who,
from Cadiz to the Cimbric Chersonese, erected these dolmens were one
race--or, at least, had one religion--and were actuated by one set of
motives in their respect for the dead, it seems impossible to escape
from the conclusion that, whether they came direct from the east,
or migrated from the south northward, or in the opposite direction,
they at one time formed a continuous community of nations all along
the western shores of Europe. They were cut across only in one
place--between Drenthe and Normandy--and that by a comparatively modern
people, the Belgæ. If this is so, the separation took place in the
pre-dolmen period, whenever that may have been. If the original races
in Belgium had been in the habit of erecting dolmens before they were
dispossessed by the intruders, we should find remains at least of them
there now, as we do both north and south of that district. As the case
now stands, the conclusion seems inevitable that it was after their
separation that the northern and southern families, though no longer
in contact, adopted, each in its own peculiar fashion, those more
permanent and megalithic forms which contact with a higher civilization
taught them to aspire to, without abandoning the distinctions which
separated them from the more progressive Celts and the thoroughly
civilized Romans.


The map opposite is compiled partly from the two by M. Bertrand,
mentioned p. 326, and partly from one which accompanies Baron de
Bonstetten's 'Essai sur les Dolmens,' 1864. It has been corrected,
in so far as the scale would allow, from the information since
accumulated; and may be considered as representing fairly our knowledge
of the distribution of dolmens at the present day. Till, however, the
Governments of this country and of Denmark condescend to take up the
subject, such a map must necessarily remain imperfect in its most vital

    [Footnote 321: 'Samlingar för Norders Fornälskare,' Stockholm,

    [Footnote 322: 'Scriptures rerum Danicorum medii ævi,' 9 vols.
    folio, Hafniæ, 1722 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 323: 'Historic Danicæ,' lib. xvi. Soræ, 1644, in fol.]

    [Footnote 324: The following list of the kings of Denmark, copied
    from Dunham's, and giving the dates from Suhm, and Snorro's
    'Heimskringla,' will probably suffice for our present purposes:--

    Suhm. Snorro.        A.D. B.C.

    Frode I.              35   17
    Fridlief              47   --
    Havar                 59   --
    Frode II.             87   --
    Wermund              140   --
    Olaf                 190   --

    Dan Mykillate        270  170
    Frode III.           310  235?
    Halfdan I.           324  290
    Fridlief III.        348  300
    Frode IV.            407  370
    Ingel                436  386
    Halfdan II.          447   "
    Frode V.             460   "
    Helge and Roe        494  438
    Frode VI.            510   "
    Rolf Krake           522  479
    Frode VII.           548   "
    Halfdan III.         580  554
    Ruric                588   "
    Ivar                 647  587
    Harald Hildetand     735   "
    Sigurd Ring          750   --
    Rajnar Lothbrog      794   --
    Sigurd Snogoge       803   --
    Herda Canute         850   --
    Eric I.              854   --
    Eric II.             883   --
    Harald Harfagar      --   863
    Gorm the Old (died?) 941   --
    Harald Blatand       991   --
    Sweyn               1014   -- ]

    [Footnote 325: 'Samlingar,' &c. i. plate 11, fig. 38, p. 104.]

    [Footnote 326: _Loc. sup. cit._, fig. 39.]

    [Footnote 327: Stokes, 'Life of Petrie,' p. 260.]

    [Footnote 328: Beowulf, _loc. sup. cit._]

    [Footnote 329: Engelhardt, 'Guide illustré du Musée à Copenhague,'
    p. 33.]

    [Footnote 330: The woodcut is copied from a drawing in Sjöborg, ii.
    fig. 214. It is repeated by Worsaae, _loc. sup. cit._, both copying
    from some original I have not cared to trace.]

    [Footnote 331: 'Historia Danica,' viii. p. 133.]

    [Footnote 332: 'Danicorum Monument,' libri sex, i. p. 12.]

    [Footnote 333: 'Primæval Antiquities of Denmark,' p. 113.]

    [Footnote 334: At one time I was, on the authority of a Saxon
    charter, inclined to believe that this tumulus was the grave of
    Cissa, Saxon king of Winchester, who was contemporary with Arthur.
    I am now informed by the Rev. Mr. Jones, who has carefully gone
    into the matter, that the Charter No. 1094, which is taken from
    the 'Codex Winton.' fol. 54, refers to Overton in Hants, and not
    to Overton in Wilts, because Tadanliage (Tadley) is mentioned as
    part of it. As I cannot dispute the competency of so eminent an
    authority on such a question, its identification with the tomb of
    King Cissa must for the present be withdrawn, but it by no means
    follows in consequence that it may not be of his age.]

    [Footnote 335: 'Prehistoric Times,' p. 153.]

    [Footnote 336: The slaves of the Scythian kings were strangled
    (Herodotus, iv. 71 and 72).]

    [Footnote 337: "Si quis, hominem diabolo sacrificaverit
    et in hostiam more paganorum dæmonibus obtulerit, morte
    moriatur."--Balusius, _Capt. Reg. Franc._ i. 253.]

    [Footnote 338: The wood-blocks of these and other illustrations of
    Dr. Thurnam's paper were lent to Sir John Lubbock, and used by him
    in his 'Prehistoric Times,' Nos. 146-156, where they will be more
    accessible to many than in the 'Archæologia.']

    [Footnote 339: An argument for secondary interments has been
    attempted to be founded (Lubbock, 'Prehistoric Times,' p. 156) on
    an edict of Charlemagne, in which he says:--"Jubemus ut corpora
    Christianorum Saxonum ad cœmeteria ecclesiæ deferantur et non
    _ad_ tumulos paganorum (Balusius, 'Cap. Reg. Franc.' i. p. 154).
    If the expression had been "_in_ tumulos," there might have been
    something in it; but a fair inference from the edict seems to me
    to be that even in Charlemagne's time converted Saxons insisted on
    being buried--probably in tumuli--near where the tombs of their
    fathers were, and probably with pagan rites, in spite of their
    nominal conversion.]

    [Footnote 340: 'Archæologia,' xlii. p. 195.]

    [Footnote 341: Nothing would surprise me less than the discovery
    of an interment in the upper part of the barrow at West Kennet,
    between the roof of the chamber and the dolmen. Many indications in
    the West Country long barrows lead us to expect that such might be
    the case, but it by no means follows that it would be secondary. On
    the contrary, it would probably be, if not the first, at least the
    chief burial in the mound.]

    [Footnote 342: I have tried hard to follow Worsaae's argument in
    respect to this point ('Zur Alterthumskunde des Nordens,' 1847),
    but without success. As he is personally familiar with the country
    and its monuments, he may be perfectly correct in what he states,
    but as there are neither maps nor illustrations to this part of the
    work, it is almost impossible for a stranger to judge; and as, like
    all Danes, he is a devout believer in the three-age system, it is
    difficult to know how far this may or may not influence his view.]

    [Footnote 343: 'Prehistoric Times,' p. 107.]

    [Footnote 344: 'One Year in Sweden,' ii. p. 183.]

    [Footnote 345: Engelhardt, 'Catalogue illus.' p. 33. Suhm makes
    it 991, but this seems more probably to have been the date of the
    death of his son Harald Blaatand.]

    [Footnote 346: 'Annalen for Nordk. Oldk.' xii. p. 13.]

    [Footnote 347: 'Hist. danica,' x. p. 167.]

    [Footnote 348: 'Guide ill.' p. 33.]

    [Footnote 349: 'Primæval Ant. Denmark,' p. 104.]

    [Footnote 350: Engelhardt, 'Cat. ill. du Musée,' p. 33.]

    [Footnote 351: 'Proceedings Soc. Ant. Scot.' v. p. 265. If Ragnar
    was taken prisoner by Ella of Northumberland, it must have been in
    the latter half of the ninth century. Suhm places his death nearly
    a century earlier, 794.]

    [Footnote 352: 'Primæval Ant. of Denmark,' p. 112.]

    [Footnote 353: 'Annalen for Nord. Aldk.' vi. pl. x.]

    [Footnote 354: Holmberg, 'Scandinavien Hallristingar,' p. 3.]

    [Footnote 355: _Ibid._ p. 21. 'Soc. des Ant. du Nord,' ii. pp. 140
    _et seq._]

    [Footnote 356: Sir James Simpson, appendix, vol. vi. 'Proc. Soc.
    Ant. of Scotland,' _passim_.]

    [Footnote 357: Madsen, 'Antiquités préhistoriques du Danemark,'

    [Footnote 358: 'Samlingar,' i. pl. iii. fig. 6.]

    [Footnote 359: Olaus Wormius, 'Danica Monumenta,' pp. 8 and 35.]

    [Footnote 360: 'Essai sur les Dolmens,' p. 9.]

    [Footnote 361: 'Heidnische Alterthümer von Uelzen,' Hanover, 1846.]

    [Footnote 362: Madsen, 'Antiquités préhist.' pl. 8.]

    [Footnote 363: 'Antiquitates Septentrionales,' pp. 320 and 519, pl.

    [Footnote 364: Madsen, plates 13 and 14.]

    [Footnote 365: Bateman, 'Ten Years' Diggings,' p. 23. Lewellyn
    Jowett, 'Grave Mounds,' pp. 14 and 15, &c.]

    [Footnote 366: Sjöborg. _loc. sup. cit._]

    [Footnote 367: Now destroyed. Sjöborg, iii. pl. 10, p. 143.]

    [Footnote 368: _Vide ante_, footnote, p. 15.]

    [Footnote 369: The woodcut is reduced from a plate in Worsaae's
    'Alterthumskunde Scandinaviens,' but both it and the Amrom group
    are found in the 'English Archæological Journal,' xxiii. p. 187.]

    [Footnote 370: Archæol. Journal,' _loc. sit._ p. 185.]

    [Footnote 371: Bähr, 'Die Gräber der Liven,' Dresden, 1850, pl. i.
    Unfortunately, as is too often the case, no scale is engraved on
    the plate, and no dimensions are mentioned in the text.]

    [Footnote 372: Not yet published, so far as I know.]

    [Footnote 373: 'Die Gräber der Liven,' p. 51.]

    [Footnote 374: 'Ant. Septent.' p. 5, pl. ii.]

    [Footnote 375: It is by no means clear whether Mr. Sadler, who is
    the author of this paper, ever visited the spot, or compiled his
    information from Janssen's book, which, however, he never mentions.
    Be this as it may, it is the best paper I know of on the subject,
    and well worthy of perusal.]

    [Footnote 376: The woodcut is from a photograph kindly lent
    me by Mr. Franks. It is sufficient to show the nature of the
    construction, but the camera is a singularly unintelligent
    interpreter of plan or arrangements.]

    [Footnote 377: There are several dolmens, as before stated, in
    rugged mountainous parts of Luxemburg, but they seem to belong to
    the old races that in those corners were not swept away by the
    Belgian current.]

    [Footnote 378: Cæsar, 'Bell. Gall.' ii. p. 4.]



It is only in very recent times that the French have turned their
attention to the study of their Rude-Stone Monuments; but since they
have done so, it has been in so systematic and scientific a manner
that, had it been continued a few years longer, little would have been
left to be desired by the students of that class of antiquities in
France. War and revolution, however, intervened just as the results of
these labours were about to be given to the world, and how long we may
now have to wait for them, no one can tell. The Musée de St.-Germain
was far from being complete in July last, and only the first parts of
the great 'Dictionnaire des Antiquités celtiques' had been published at
that time. We can now hardly hope that the necessary expenditure will
be continued which is indispensable to complete the former, and it is
difficult to foresee in what manner the materials collected for the
dictionary can now be utilised.

Even when much further advanced towards completion, it is hardly to
be expected that the museums of St.-Germain and Vannes can rival
the royal collections at Copenhagen; and if the French had confined
themselves only to collecting, they would not have advanced our
knowledge very much; but, while doing this, they have also gathered
statistical information, and have been mapping and describing, so that
our knowledge of their monuments is much more complete than of those
of the Danes. To borrow a simile from kindred sciences, it is as if
the Danes had attended exclusively to the mineralogy of the subject:
collecting specimens from all parts, and arranging them according to
their similarities or affinities, wholly irrespective of the localities
from which they came. The French, on the other hand, have founded a
science similar to that of geology on their knowledge of the minerals;
they have carefully noted the distribution of the various classes
of monuments, and, so far as possible, ascertained their relative
superposition. The first is, no doubt, a most useful process, and one
that must to a certain extent precede the other; but unless we map the
various rocks on the surface and ascertain their stratification, it
hardly helps us in studying the formation or history of our globe.

In 1864 M. Bertrand published in the 'Revue archéologique' a small map
of France, showing the distribution of dolmens as then known; and three
years afterwards another, on a much larger scale, intended to accompany
the 'Dictionnaire des Antiquités celtiques,' and containing all that
was then known. Were a second edition of this map published now, it
would, no doubt, be much more full and complete; but the main outlines
must still be the same, and are sufficient for our present purposes.
From these maps and the text which accompanies them we learn that the
greater number of the rude-stone monuments in France are arranged at no
great distance on either side of a straight line drawn from the shores
of the Mediterranean, somewhere about Montpellier, to Morlaix, in
Brittany. There are none east of the Rhone, none south of the Garonne,
till we come to the Pyrenees, and so few north of the basin or valley
of the Seine that they may be considered as wanderers.

Referring to the table at the end of this chapter, which is compiled
from that of 1864, we find that thirty departments contain more than
ten monuments. Thirty others, according to M. Bertrand, contain from
one to eight or nine; and the remaining twenty-nine either contain none
at all or these so insignificant as hardly to deserve attention.

From this table we learn, at least approximately, several facts of
considerable interest to our investigation. The first is that, of
the three divisions into which Cæsar divides Gaul, the northern in
his day belonged to a race who had had no stone monuments. There are
none in Belgium proper, and so few in French Flanders, or indeed in
any part of Gallia Belgica, that we may safely assert that the Belgæ
were not dolmen-builders. In the next place, I cannot help agreeing
with M. Bertrand in his conclusion that the Celts properly so called
have as little claim to the monuments as the Belgæ.[379] We know
something of the provinces occupied by the Celts six hundred years
before Christ from Livy's[380] description of the tribes who, under
Bellevesus, invaded Italy. Their capital was Bruges, and they occupied
the departments immediately around that city; but they had not then
penetrated into Brittany, nor north of the Seine, nor into any part of
Aquitania.[381] But they occupied the whole of the east of Gaul up,
apparently, to the Rhine and the country on the east bank of the Rhone.
According to the French statistics, there are 140,000 barrows or tumuli
in the departments of the Côte-d'Or, Vosges, Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin,
Doubs, Jura, and Ain, but not one single dolmen;[382] and there are
none to the east of the Rhine. As we proceed westward, the tumuli
become rarer, and the dolmens are gradually met with. The Averni, for
instance, were one of the Celtic tribes that accompanied Bellovesus,
and in their country dolmens are found; but perhaps we need only infer
from this that in a hilly country like Auvergne the older people still
remained, and followed their old customs in spite of its partial
occupation by the conquering Celts. We do not know at what period the
Celts first invaded Gaul, but there seems no reason for supposing that
it could not be very long before they first came in contact with the
Romans; and if we may judge from the rate of progress which they made
in subduing the rest of the country in historic times, their first
invasion could hardly have been a thousand years B.C. All the
tumuli in the east of France which have been dug into have yielded
implements of bronze and metal,[383] and if they belonged to the Celts,
this would fairly accord with the conclusions at which archæologists
have arrived from other sources with regard to the Bronze age. It is
not, however, worth while following up the question here; for unless
it could be proved that the dolmens either succeeded or preceded the
tumuli, it has no bearing on our argument. The fact of their occupying
different and distinct districts prevents any conclusion of the sort
being arrived at from geographical or external considerations. Their
contents, if compared, might afford some information, but up to the
present time this has not been done, and all we can at present assume
is that there were two contemporary civilizations, or barbarisms,
co-existing simultaneously on the soil of France. My impression is,
however, that the Celtic barrow-builders were earlier converts to
Christianity, and left off their heathenish mode of burial long before
the less easily converted dolmen-builders of the west ceased to erect
their Rude-Stone Monuments.

We are thus reduced to the third of the great provinces into which Gaul
was divided in Cæsar's time, to try and find the people who could have
erected the stone monuments of France, and at first sight it seems
extremely probable that they were erected by the Aquitanians. Both
Cæsar[384] and Strabo[385] distinctly assert that the people of the
southern province differed from the Celts in language and institutions
as well as in features, and add that they resembled more the Iberians
of Spain than their northern neighbours. When, however, we come to
look more closely into the matter, we find that the Aquitania of Cæsar
was confined to the country between the Garonne and the Pyrenees,
and where, however, few, if any, dolmens now exist. They are rather
frequent in the Pyrenees[386] and the Asturias, where remnants of the
dolmen-building races may have found shelter and continued to exist
after their congeners were swept from the plains; and there are one or
two on the left bank of the Garonne, but except these there are none
in Aquitania proper. If, however, we apply the term Aquitania to the
province as extended by Augustus up to the left bank of the Loire, we
include the greater part of the provinces where dolmens are found;
but here again, when we look more closely into it, we find that the
northern districts of this great province were, in Augustus' time,
inhabited by Celts, or, at all events, that Celts formed the governing
and influential bodies in the states. Indeed, the fact seems to be
that, during the six centuries which elapsed between the invasions
of Italy by the Gauls and the return invasion of Gaul by the Romans,
the Celts had gradually extended themselves over the whole of central
France from the Garonne to the Seine, and had obliterated the political
status of the people who had previously occupied the country, though
there is no reason to suppose they had then at least attempted to
exterminate them. It must thus be either that the Celts were the
builders of the dolmens, which appears most improbable, or that there
existed in these provinces a prehistoric people to whom they must be

Without at all wishing, at present at least, to insist upon it, I may
here state that the impression on my mind is every day growing stronger
that the dolmen-builders in France are the lineal descendants of the
Cave men whose remains have recently been detected in such quantities
on the banks of the Dordogne and other rivers in the south of
France.[387] These remains are found in quantities in the Ardèche[388]
and in Poitou.[389] If they have not been found in Brittany, it may be
that they have not been looked for, or that the soil is unfavourable
to their preservation; but they have been found in Picardy, though
possibly not exactly of the same class. It is, of course, dangerous to
found any argument on such local coincidence, as new discoveries may be
made in the east of France or elsewhere; but in the present state of
our knowledge the Cave men and the dolmens seem not only conterminous
but their frequency seems generally to be coincident.

As we know next to nothing of the languages spoken in the south-west
of France before the introduction of the Romance forms of speech,
philology will hardly assist us in our enquiry. There is, however, one
particle, _ac_, which I cannot help thinking may prove of importance,
when its origin is ascertained. In the table at the end of this
chapter, I have placed the number of the names of the cities having
this termination in each department[390] next to M. Bertrand's number
of dolmens. The coincidence is certainly remarkable, more especially as
it is easy to account for the comparative paucity of names with this
termination in Brittany by taking into account the enormous reflex wave
of Celtic population from England that overwhelmed that country in the
fourth and fifth centuries, and changed the nomenclature of half the
places in the district: still, Carnac and Tumiac, Missilac, and others,
as names of monuments, and Yffignac, as the name attached to the port
which I believe was the place of embarkation for England, with many
others that remain, are sufficient to attest that more previously may
have existed.

The question remains, what is this particle? The first impulse is
to assume that it is the Basque definite article. The Basques, for
instance, say _Guizon_, "a man," _Guizónac_, "the man," and _Guizónac_,
"the men," besides using it in other cases, while their local
proximity to the dolmen country would render such a connection far
from improbable. Against this, however, it may be urged, that _ac_,
as a terminal syllable, hardly ever occurs in the Basque provinces,
and the names to which it is attached in France hardly seem to belong
to that language. Another suggestion has been made,[391] that it is
equivalent to the Greek word πὁλις, which would be exactly
the signification for which we are looking, though in what language
this occurs is by no means clear. For our present purpose, however, it
is of little consequence what it may or may not be. It is sufficient
to know that its occurrence is, as nearly as may be, coincident with
the existence of dolmens. It does not occur to the eastward of the
Rhone, nor do dolmens, though both are frequent on the right bank of
that river; and it is not to be found in the east of France, in those
countries which we have reason to believe were at the dawn of history
essentially Celtic, and where the tumuli of the Bronze period exist in
such numbers. It does, however, occur in that part of Cornwall south of
Redruth and west of Falmouth,[392] where all the rude-stone monuments
of that province are found, but it is not found anywhere else in Great
Britain or Ireland.

Nor is it found in the Channel Islands, though dolmens abound there;
but this may be accounted for by the subsequent colonisation of
these islands, as of Brittany in more modern times, by races of a
different origin, who have to a great extent obliterated the original
nomenclature of the country.

Equally interesting, however, for our purposes is the fact that, though
the _ac_-termination occurs frequently in the departments between the
Garonne and the Pyrenees, no dolmens exist in that region except, as
before mentioned, a few at the roots of the mountains. This, at first
sight, might seem to militate against the universality of the theory;
but I, on the other hand, only take it to express that the _ac_-people
were driven from that country by Ibero-Aquitanians before they had
adopted the fashion of stone monuments. If we knew when Aquitania was
first occupied by the people whom Cæsar and Strabo found there, it
would give us a date before which dolmens could hardly have existed;
but as we have no materials for the purpose, all that can be said is
that, just as the dolmen races were cut in two by the Belgæ before the
use of stone for funereal monuments had been introduced, so here the
same phenomenon occurred, and the people we have to deal with were
driven north of the Garonne, west of the Rhone, and south of the Seine,
before they took to building dolmens--assuming, of course, that they
once had extended beyond those limits; but this, except in the case of
Aquitania proper, does not at present seem capable of being proved.

Before the Romans came in contact with them, and our first written
accounts describe them, they had ceased to be a nation politically, and
their language also was lost, or, at least, except in the one syllable
_ac_, we now know nothing of it. If, therefore, it may be argued, the
nationality of this people was lost before the Christian era, and their
language had become extinct, these monuments must belong to a long
anterior period. There are, however, certain considerations which would
make us pause before jumping too hastily to this conclusion. There are,
throughout the whole dolmen region of the south of France, a series
of churches whose style is quite distinct from that of central and
northern France. The typical example of this style is the well-known
church of St.-Front, Périgueux. But the churches at Cahors, at
Souillac, at Moissac, Peaussac, Tremolac, St.-Avit-Sénieur, and many
others, are equally characteristic. The cathedral at Angoulême, the
abbey church at Fontevrault, and St.-Maurice at Angers,[393] and the
church at Loches--all these churches are characterized by possessing
domes, and the earlier ones by having pointed arches which look very
much more as if they were derived from the horizontal arches of the
tumuli than from the radiating arches of the Romans, which the Celts
everywhere adopted; and, altogether, the style is so peculiar that no
one the least familiar with it can ever mistake it for a Celtic style.
All belong to the same group, and as distinctly as, or even more so
than, the _ac_-termination, mark out the country as inhabited in the
eleventh and twelfth centuries by a people differing from the Celts.
Though, therefore, both their nationality and their language may have
been superseded by those of the more enterprising and active Celts
before the time of Cæsar, it is evident they retained their old feeling
and a separate internal existence to a period at least a thousand years

There is still another trait that marks this country as a non-Celtic
country in historical times--it is in the south-west, and there only,
in France that Protestantism ever flourished or took root. To the Celt,
the transition was everywhere easy from the government of the hierarchy
of the Druids to that of the similarly organized priesthood of Rome.
But it required all the cruel power of the Inquisition--the crusades of
Simon de Montfort--the exterminating wars against the Camisards of the
Cevennes---and, in fact, centuries of the most cruel and unrelenting
persecution down to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and, indeed,
to the French Revolution--to exterminate this people and extirpate the
faith and feelings to which they clung. If they have in their veins,
as I fancy they must have, any of the blood of the Cave people, they
belong to one of the least progressive people of the earth, and we
should not therefore be surprised if it required two thousand years
of Celtic aggressiveness, coupled with Celtic ferocity, entirely to
obliterate this race, if, indeed, that is done even now, which I very
much doubt.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before leaving this part of the subject, there is one other question
which it may be as well to allude to here, as these investigations into
the distribution of the rude-stone monuments seem destined to throw a
new and important light upon it. Few questions have been more keenly
debated among the learned than the relationship stated to have existed
between the Cimbri and the Gauls. A great deal has been, and can be,
said on both sides,[394] but the difficulty appears to me to have
arisen principally from the erroneous assumption that on other people
except the Celts existed in France.

There is no trace of Celts or of a Celtic language in the Cimbric
Chersonese or the north-west corner of Europe, which is generally
assumed to be the country occupied by the Cimbri, and no such people as
the Cimbri are found settled in any part of France in historical times.
If, however, we assume that the relationship may have been between
the Cimbri and the Aquitanians, the case assumes a totally different
aspect. As we do not know what the language of the Aquitanians really
was, no assistance can be obtained from it, but our very ignorance of
it leaves the field open for any other evidence that may be adduced,
and that of the monuments seems clear and distinct. It seems almost
impossible that there should be so much similarity between the
monuments of the two countries without some community of race, and
the great likeness that exists between those on the southern frontier
of the northern dolmen province and those on the northern edge of the
southern dolmen field seems almost to settle the question.

From history we only know of the existence of this relationship by the
mode in which they fought together against Marius in the late Roman
wars. If they were then geographically separated by the Belgæ and the
Celts having thrust themselves between them, the separation must
have been recent, for a barbarian people could hardly be brought to
acknowledge the ties and duties of relationship after a long interval
of time.[395]

       *       *       *       *       *

As may be gathered from the table, page 376, or the map opposite
page 324, the rude-stone monuments are pretty evenly distributed
over the whole of the area extending from the English Channel to the
Mediterranean Sea. Our knowledge of them is, however, practically
confined to the northern portion of this zone, known as Brittany. The
information which is available regarding those of Languedoc and Guienne
is of the most meagre description. Hundreds of English tourists have
visited Brittany, and many of them have drawn the monuments there and
at least described them intelligibly; but I do not know one English
book that mentions those in the departments of Lot or Dordogne, and
almost the only information regarding them is to be picked up from the
local "Statistiques;" but as these are very rarely illustrated, they do
not suffice. No form of words will convey a correct idea of any unknown
architectural monument except by comparing it with one that is known;
and unless both have some well-defined features of style, it is even
then very difficult, and with rude unshaped stones, almost impossible,
by words to convey what is intended.

[Illustration: 122. Dolmen at Sauclières.]

It is to be regretted that we do not know more of the southern
examples,[396] as they are different in several essential features
from those of the north; and it is probable that any one who was
familiar with all could point out a gradation of style which would
aid materially in determining their age. Whatever that may turn out
eventually to be, no one will, I presume, contend that all are of one
age or even of one century. It is far more probable that they extend
over a considerable lapse of time, probably a thousand years, and
if this is so, there must have been changes of fashion even among
Cave races as their blood got more and more mixed; and it would be
interesting to know where and--relatively at least--when this took
place. My present impression is that the southern are the most modern,
for this among other reasons.--I look on the sequence of a cist in a
barrow to a dolmen or chamber in a tumulus as very nearly certain,
and from that the sequence to the exposed free-standing dolmen, and
from that to the dolmen on the tumulus, as nearly, if not quite as,
probable. The latter form, so far as I know, never occurs in Brittany,
while on the other hand it is common in the south of France.[397]
If they are of the same age as similar monuments in Scandinavia and
Ireland, they must be of comparatively modern date. There are also some
monuments, trilithons of hewn or partially hewn stone, as this one
at Sauclières (woodcut No. 122), which at least look more modern than
their northern congeners.

The monument, however, that seems capable of throwing the greatest
amount of light on their age is the dolmen of St.-Germain-sur-Vienne,
near Confolens, in Poitou. As will be seen from the woodcuts opposite,
its cap-stone, measures 12 feet by 15 feet, and is of proportionate
thickness. The mass was originally supported by five columns of
Gothic design, but one having fallen away, it now rests only on
four; but their interest arises from the fact that the style of
their ornamentation belongs undoubtedly to the twelfth century or
thereabouts--certainly not earlier than the eleventh. In order to
explain away so unwelcome an anomaly, it has been suggested, that some
persons in the twelfth century cut away all the rest of the original
rude stones which supported the cap-stone, and left only the frail
shafts which we now see. If this were so, it would in no way alter the
argument to be derived from it. If men could be found in the twelfth
century to take the trouble and run the enormous risk of such an
operation, their respect for the monument must have been quite equal
to that implied in its erection; but the fact is that each of the five
columns is composed of three separate pieces--a base, a shaft, and a
capital,[398] and we see them now as they were originally erected.[399]

There may be doubts about the tomb of the Moals at Ballina (page 233),
but doubt seems impossible with regard to this: it is a dolmen pure and
simple, and it was erected in the twelfth century. In itself the fact
may not be of any very great importance, but it cuts away the ground
from any _à priori_ argument as to the age of these monuments. It does
not, of course, prove that they are all modern, but it does show that
some of them at least were erected after the time of the Romans, and
at an era extending even far into the middle ages.

[Illustration: 123. Dolmen at Confolens.]

[Illustration: 124. Plan of Dolmen at Confolens.]

It is amusing, however, to see how the French antiquaries resist
such a conclusion. Dr. de Closmadeuc, for instance, one of the most
distinguished antiquaries of Brittany, opened a perfectly virgin
tumulus at Crubelz. After penetrating through three distinct but
undisturbed strata, he reached the roof of the enclosed dolmen
or chamber. In this he found the usual products of cremation and
the inevitable flint arrow-heads, but he refers in triumph to the
"absence de toute trace des métaux." "Aucun doute," he adds, "n'est
donc possible. Ce dolmen appartient bien à cette classe de monuments
primitifs de l'âge de pierre." So far all is clear; but there are
still difficulties, for he goes on to say: "Nous tenons peu de compte
des débris de tuiles antiques rencontrées à la superficie du tumulus,
et même sous les tables du dolmen. Il est raisonnable d'admettre que
ces fragments de tuiles qui dénoncent l'industrie gallo-romaine, ont
accidentellement pénétré dans l'intérieur."[400]

Let us pause a moment to consider what is involved in such a
supposition. These tiles, which it is admitted are scattered in
quantities over the surrounding plain, must have climbed to the top
of the mound, penetrated through three undisturbed strata of earth,
and finally penetrated "accidentally" between the close-fitting slabs
forming the roof of the chamber. The hypothesis will not bear a
moment's examination, but anything, however absurd, is to some minds
preferable to admitting that any dolmen or tumulus can be subsequent to
Roman times. It is astonishing, however, what effect that shibboleth,
"no trace of metal," has on the mind of most antiquaries. It is, of
course, true that before the metals were introduced no trace of them
could be found in the prehistoric barrows of the rude savages that
occupied Europe in the earliest times. We do not, at the present day,
bury metal objects in our graves, and but for the coffin nails it would
be as fair to argue that the graves in Kensal Green are prehistoric
because the interments show no trace of metal implements. At all
events, there are many burying races now existing who do not use
coffins, nor bury metal objects in their graves; and all these this
argument would make prehistoric. To me it seems much more logical to
assume that, in those countries which had been occupied by the Romans,
the natives, though reverting after their departure to their original
modes of sepulture, had at least been so far civilized as to know that
bronze daggers and spear-heads were not likely to be of much use in the
next world, and had come to the conclusion that the personal ornaments
of the dead might as well remain with their living friends. This
hypothesis would at least account for the absence of metal in the long
barrows of Gloucestershire, and at West Kennet, as well as at Crubelz,
though Roman pottery was found in all these instances. In fact, it is
the merest negative presumption to assume that, because no metal is
found in a grave, it must be prehistoric. It may be of any age, down to
yesterday's, in so far as such proof is concerned.

Even the presence of metal, however, does not disturb the faith of
some antiquaries. The Baron de Bonstetten, for instance, opened a
tumulus not far from Crubelz. At one foot (30 centimetres) below the
undisturbed surface the usual deposit of flint implements was found;
and two feet (60 centimetres) below them two statuettes of Latona in
terra-cotta and a coin of Constantine II. were found, but without this
in the least degree shaking his undoubting faith in the prehistoric
antiquity of the tomb![401]

Numerous other Roman coins have been found in these French monuments,
but their testimony is disregarded. In the Manné er H'roëk, commonly
called the Butte de César, about half a mile south from Locmariaker,
near the surface, eleven medals of the Roman emperors, from Tiberius
to Trajan, were found, together with fragments of bronze, glass, and
pottery, but there were no signs of a secondary interment.[402] In like
manner, in another monument at Beaumont-sur-Oise, Roman moneys were
found, but, as M. Bertrand is careful to explain, in a stratum above
the stone and flint implements, which, of course, he believed to mark
the true date of the monument.[403] It seems impossible, however, that
all these Roman coins can have been accidentally placed there. Those of
Valentinian and Theodosius in the mound at New Grange were precisely in
the same position as those of Titus, Domitian, and Trajan in the Butte
de César or those of Beaumont, and so were those of Constantine found
at Uley, in Gloucestershire (_ante_, p. 165). Those of Valentinian at
Minning Lowe were in the tomb itself; so probably might others have
been found in the other tombs had they not previously been rifled. It
is not easy to assign a motive for placing these coins in the upper
part of the mound externally. Their being found in that position at
New Grange, Uley, Locmariaker, and Beaumont, is, however, sufficient
to prove it was not accidental, and their value is so small that they
could not have been buried there for concealment. They must have had
something to do with some funereal rite or superstition, the memory of
which has passed away. No ancient British or Gaulish coins have ever
been found in similar positions, and no Christian coins, which, had
their presence been purely accidental, would probably have been the
case. The inference seems to me inevitable that they were looked on as
valued relics or curiosities, and placed there intentionally by those
who raised the mounds it may be very long after the dates which the
coins bear.


There is nothing specific in the Rude Stone Monuments of France
sufficient to distinguish them from those of the other countries
we have been describing. They are larger, finer, and more numerous
there than in either Scandinavia or the British Isles, but except
in the negative peculiarity of there being no circles in France
there is little to distinguish the two groups. It can hardly even be
absolutely asserted that there are no circles in France. There are
some semicircles, which may possibly have been parts of circles never
completed; there are some rows of small stones around or on tumuli; but
certainly nothing that can for one moment be classed with the great
circles of Cumberland and Wiltshire, or those of Moytura and Stennis,
and certainly nothing like the innumerable Scandinavian examples.

We are hardly yet in a position to speculate why this should be so;
but, so far as I can at present see, I would infer from this that the
French examples are, as a rule, of earlier date than the British and
Scandinavian. The circle I take to be one of the latest forms of rude
stone architecture--the skeleton of a tumulus, after the flesh of the
sepulchral mound, which gave meaning to the group, had been thrown on
one side as no longer indispensable. But of this we shall be better
able to judge as we proceed.

Another characteristic, although not a distinction, is the fondness of
the French for the "Allée couverte" or "Grotte des fées." No examples
of this form have yet been brought to light in England, but one is
engraved (woodcut No. 80) as the Hag Birra's grave near Monasterboice,
a second from the same neighbourhood, at Greenmount (woodcut No.
81), and they exist in Scandinavia, but their home is Drenthe and
the neighbouring corner of Germany. As already mentioned, upwards of
fifty examples exist in that province. They are much ruder, it must be
confessed, than those of France; but this may arise from the nature of
the only material available; they have also the peculiarity of having
the entrance always at the side instead of at the end.

So far as their distribution in France has yet been ascertained, the
Grottes des fées exist only on the Loire, and to the north of it, in
fact in the most northern division of the French dolmen region; while,
on the other hand, as they are principally found in Drenthe, or at the
southern extremity of the German dolmen field, we may assume that there
is some connection between the two, or that there would have been if it
had not been severed by the Belgians before those in either region were

One of the finest of the French examples of this class of monuments
is that near Saumur, at Bagneux. The walls are composed of only four
stones on one side and three on the other, yet it measures 57 feet 6
inches by 14 feet 4 inches across. Another, near Essé, is even larger,
though not so regular in plan, nor so grand in the character of the
stones. It measures, however, 61 feet by 12 feet at the entrance,
increasing to 14 feet over all at the inner end. There is a third at
Mettray, near Tours, which, though very much smaller, is curiously
characteristic of the form. The immense mass in the centre (woodcut
No. 125) and the two smaller which form the roof almost take from it
the character of rude-stone architecture. There is a fourth, of a
less megalithic character, at Locmariaker,[404] and several others
are dispersed over Brittany. It is not possible to know whether the
intention may not have been that these, like all smaller chambers,
should have been buried in tumuli. These just quoted, however,
certainly never were so, but this may have arisen from their having
been left unfinished. That at Bagneux, however, could hardly have
supported a heavy mass without falling in, and that at Mettray looks
too like a finished monument for any one to fancy its builders wished
it hid.

[Illustration: 125. Dolmen near Mettray. From Gailhabaud.]

[Illustration: 126. Dolmen of Krukenho.]

The more usual form of French dolmens is either square or slightly in
excess of that form, seldom reaching two squares in plan, and with a
height equal to its breadth. One of the finest specimens[405] of a
monument of this class is in the middle of the village of Krukenho,
halfway between Carnac and Erdeven, and is now used as a cart-shed
or barn. It certainly never was covered up, though its entrance may
have been closed; indeed, the stones used for that purpose still lie
in front of it. From this, which may be styled a first-class dolmen
of the ordinary type, down to the simple dolmen of four stones, like
Kit's Cotty house, every possible variety and gradation are to be found
in France; but, so far as I know, no classification has been hit upon
which would enable us to say which are the oldest or which the more

On the whole, however, I am inclined to look on the Grottes des fées
as the more modern form. The stones of which they are composed are
generally hewn, or at least shaped, by metal tools to the extent to
which those of Stonehenge can be said to be so treated. They also look
more like ordinary structures than other megalithic monuments, and seem
rather sepulchral chapels than sepulchres. Even, however, if we were to
determine to regard them as relatively the most modern of the northern
dolmens, this would not settle the question of the southern external
dolmens on tumuli, which may be even more modern. These questions,
however, must, I fear, remain unanswered till our knowledge of the form
of the whole group and of the materials of which the monuments are
composed is more extensive and more accurate than it is at present.

The holed-stone variety occurs frequently in France, either in the form
of simple four-stone dolmens, like that of Trie, Oise[406] (woodcut
No. 127), or in a still more characteristic example at Grandmont, in
Bas-Languedoc[407] (woodcut No. 128). Certainly neither of these was
intended to be covered up, at least in the first instance, or, at all
events, only partially; or the use of the hole, which was, no doubt,
to get access to the chamber, would have been destroyed. The umbrella
form of the southern example is hardly such as would ever be used for a
chamber in a tumulus, but as a pent-roof is singularly suitable for an
open-air monument. The so-called Coves at Avebury were, I believe, in
this form, and it prevails also in India[408] and elsewhere, and the
likeness between the two is so remarkable that it may well have given
rise to speculations as to their common origin.

[Illustration: 127. Holed Dolmen, at Trie. From Gailhabaud.]

[Illustration: 128. Dolmen of Grandmont.]

[Illustration: 129. Demi-dolmen. From Malé, 'Antiquités du Morbihan.']

There is still a form of dolmen very common in France, but found
also frequently in these islands, though I do not know if it occurs
in Scandinavia. Mr. Du Noyer proposed to call them "earth-fast
dolmens,"[409] from one end of the cap-stones always resting on the
ground, the other only being supported by a pillar or block. At first
sight it might appear that they were only unfinished or imperfect
dolmens, as it is more than probable that the mode of erection, in all
instances, was to raise first one end of the cap-stone and then the
other, as by this means the weight is practically halved. If, however,
any faith is to be placed in this representation of a monument by
Malé,[410] it is clear that it was a deliberate mode of getting rid of
half the expense and half the trouble of erecting a dolmen sepulchre.
Generally speaking, however, they are more like the one near Poitiers
(woodcut No. 130), where the stone either rests at one end on a bank or
on a flat space sloping upwards. Those in Ireland and Wales seem all
really to be only demi-dolmens, and as economy would hardly be a motive
in the good old times, I look upon them as probably a very modern
form of this class of monument. There is, indeed, one at Kerland, in
Brittany (woodcut No. 131), which, in spite of the shock such an idea
will give to most people, I cannot help thinking is and always was a
Christian monument. At least it is inconceivable to me from what motive
any Christian could have erected a cross on a pagan monument of this
class, if it really were one. It seems, on the other hand, perfectly
intelligible that long after their nominal conversion to Christianity
the people would adhere to the forms so long practised by their
ancestors, and there appears to be no great reason why even the most
bigoted priest should object to it, provided the symbol of the cross
made it quite clear that the "poor inhabitant below" died in the true

[Illustration: 130. Demi-dolmen, near Poitiers.]

[Illustration: 131. Demi-dolmen at Kerland.]

I have purposely refrained from speaking of rocking stones, which play
so important a part in the forms of Druidical worship invented by
Stukeley, Borlase, and the antiquaries of the last century, because
I believe that nine-tenths of those found in this country--if not
all--are merely natural phenomena. So far from being surprised that
this should be the case, the wonder is that they are not more frequent
where loose boulders abound, either ice-borne or freed by the washing
away of the underlying strata. That some of these should rest in an
unstable equilibrium easily disturbed is only what might be expected,
and that they would also be matters of marvel to the country people
around is also natural; but it does not follow from this that any
priests purposely and designedly placed, or could place, rude stones in
such positions, or that they used them for religious purposes.

[Illustration: 132. Pierre Martine.]

In France, however, there is one called the Pierre Martine, near
Livernon, in the department of the Lot, which was designedly balanced,
if any one was. Its general appearance will be understood from the
preceding woodcut, taken from 'La France monumentale et pittoresque,'
which correctly represents its form and appearance.[411] The cap-stone
measures 22 feet by 11 feet, and is 16 inches in thickness, and is so
balanced on its two points of support that a slight pressure of the
hand is sufficient to set it oscillating with a motion which it retains
for some time.[412]

[Illustration: 133. Pierre Martine. From Bonstetten.]

[Illustration: 134. Pierre Branlante, in Brittany.]

Another and more celebrated one, in Brittany, which is known as the
Pierre branlante de Huelgoat, seems rather due to accident. It looks
as if it formed, or was intended to form, part of a demi-dolmen, but
happening to rest on one of its supports so as to oscillate, it has
been allowed to remain so. Even assuming, however, that this was done
designedly, what would it prove beyond the desire which pervades
all these monuments, of exciting astonishment by _tours de force_.
I believe it is correct to say that no passage exists in any book
ancient or medieval which mentions rocking stones or their uses; nor
has anyone been able to explain how they delivered their oracles. A
certain push produced an oscillation, not fitful or irregular, but
always in proportion to the force applied; so the answer must always
have been the same and alike to all people. A still more important
fact is that nowhere do the people appeal to them now. Neither at the
Beltane nor at Halloween, nor at any of those festivals where country
people revive every extinct superstition to aid them in prying into
futurity, are these rocking stones appealed to; and it seems almost
impossible that, when so many other superstitions have survived, this
one should be lost, and lost in presence of the rocks themselves, which
still remain. Wonders they certainly are, but I question much if they
ever were appealed to for any higher purpose than that of extracting
sixpences from the pockets of gaping tourists.


In a zone about twenty miles in extent, stretching from Erdeven on the
north-west to Tumiac in a south-easterly direction, and nowhere more
than five miles in width, there is to be found the most remarkable
group of megalithic remains, not only in France, but perhaps in the
whole world. Not only are examples of every class of monument we
have been describing, except circles, to be found here, but they are
larger and finer examples than are generally to be met with elsewhere.
Another point of interest also is that within the zone are found--if I
am not mistaken--both a cemetery and a battle-field. At least in the
neighbourhood of Locmariaker, which there seems no reason for doubting
was the Dariorigum of the Romans, the capital of the Venetes in Cæsar's
times,[413] all the monuments are more or less sculptured, and all the
stones fashioned, not to say hewn. On the other hand, no stone in the
neighbourhood of Carnac is hewn, or even fashioned, beyond splitting,
and no sculptures of any class have been traced. The distinction is too
marked to be accidental, and unless it can be made out that they belong
to different ages, which appears to me most improbable, goes far to
establish the conclusion at which we have arrived in previous chapters.

To begin with the Carnac monument,[414] which is the best known and the
most important. As will be seen by the woodcut on p. 352, it consists
of two separate alignments, or great stone rows--one, that of Carnac,
extending for nearly two miles in a direction nearly east and west; the
other, that of Erdeven, at a distance of two miles and a half from that
at Carnac, being little more than one mile in length. There is a third,
but smaller, group at St.-Barbe, about a mile and a half due south of
Erdeven; and numerous dolmens and tumuli are spread at intervals all
over the plain.

In order to be understood, the Carnac monument must again be subdivided
into three portions. Beginning at Le Maenec (the Stones), we have
eleven rows of very fine stones, measuring from 11 feet to 13 feet in
height from the ground, and still nearly perfect. Gradually, however,
they become smaller and more sparse, till, when they reach the road
from Auray to Carnac, there are few of them that measure 3 feet in
any direction, and some are still smaller. Shortly after passing that
road the avenues cease altogether, for a distance of more than 300
yards, there being nothing but a few natural boulders in the interval
between. When, however, we reach the knoll on which the farm of
Kermario stands, the avenues reappear, this time only ten in number,
but perfectly regular, and with stones as large and as regularly spaced
as those at Maenec. They diminish more and more in size, however, and
almost die out altogether before they reach the mound (tumulus?) on
which the windmill stands, and after that become so small and sparse
that a stranger riding across the line could hardly remark that they
were artificially disposed, but would merely regard it as a stony
piece of land. They again cease entirely before we reach the brook, to
recommence at Kerlescant, where thirteen rows are found; but these are
composed of stones of less dimensions and more irregularly spaced than
those at Maenec, and die out much more rapidly. At a distance of less
than 500 yards from the head of the column they disappear entirely.
It may be suggested that these gaps arise from the stones having been
removed for agricultural and other purposes. I think, however, that
any one who carefully examines the spot will be convinced that we
really now possess all, or nearly all, that were ever placed here.
They are thickest and best preserved in the village of Maenec, and at
Kermario, where buildings are most frequent, and they disappear exactly
in those places where there are no buildings or walls, but where the
ground is an open, barren heath, without roads, and whence it would
be very difficult to transport them; and in so stony a country it is
very improbable that the attempt would be made. Besides this, the
gradual way in which they diminish in size before disappearing shows
a regularity of design, regarding which there can be no mistake. In
addition to this, the heads of the three divisions are all marked by
monuments of different kinds, but which are easily recognizable. At
the head of the Maenec division there is a curvilinear enclosure of
smaller stones, none of them being more than 6 feet in height, but set
much closer together than the rows (woodcut No. 136). It probably was
once complete, and, if so, joined the centre stone row. At Kermario,
a dolmen stands in front of the alignment, not remarkable for its
size, but conspicuous from its position; and at Kerlescant there is
a quadrangular[415] enclosure, three sides of which are composed of
stones of smaller size and set closely together, like those at Maenec.
The fourth side is formed by a tumulus or long barrow. This was dug
into in 1851, by some persons with or without authority; but who they
were, or what they found, is not recorded.


[Illustration: 136.]

The monument at Erdeven is very inferior in scale to that at Carnac,
and planned on a different principle. Instead of the heads of the
division following one another, as at Carnac, they face outwards;
and, like the fabled Amphisbena, this group has two heads, one at
each end. The principal one is the western, where there is a group of
very large stones close to the road, but rather confusedly arranged.
There seem to be nine or ten rows, and a row of large stones branches
off at right angles to the north. After extending about 100 yards the
main column dies out, and is resumed again at a distance of 200 yards,
in smaller stones much more widely spaced. It is again and again so
interrupted, that it is sometimes difficult to trace it till we come
near the eastern end, where it resumes its regularity, possessing eight
well-defined rows of stones similar to those at the west end.[416]

At the west end there can still be traced the remains of what was once
a tumulus, and, beyond that, a single standing menhir. At the east end
there is a tumulus of a somewhat oval form, and in the centre, a hill,
or rising ground, apparently natural, on which are placed two dolmens;
and, south of the east end, a second hill or mound with two more
similar monuments.

It is not easy to guess whether the lines of St.-Barbe were ever more
complete than we now find them. My own impression is that we have them
now very nearly as originally completed. The head facing the west seems
to have been intended for a curvilinear enclosure similar to that at
Maenec, but is now, at least, very incomplete. Its most remarkable
feature is the group of stones at its head (woodcut No. 137), two of
which are the largest and finest blocks in the neighbourhood. The
farthest away in the view is 19 feet long by 12 feet broad, and 8
feet thick; the other, seen in the foreground, even exceeds it in
dimensions. Whether these are like the Coffin stones at Aylesford, or
the two stones found among the stone rows at Dartmoor, or have, indeed,
any separate meaning, must be left to be determined when we know more
of the general scheme on which these monuments were planned.

There is nothing at present but juxtaposition to justify us in
connecting these great stone rows with the smaller groups of stones and
the dolmens or tumuli which stud the plain where they are found. In
respect to these, what we find at Carnac seems the exact converse of
what exists at Stonehenge and Stennis. There the great stone monuments
stand among the pigmy barrows of another race and age. Here all are
megalithic and all seem to have been erected nearly at the same time,
and to belong to one people, whoever they may eventually be proved to
have been. In so far as any argument as to their age is concerned, it
is at present of little importance whether this is so or not, for they
are all equally uncommunicative on this subject.

[Illustration: 137. Head of Column at St.-Barbe. From Messrs. Blair and
Ronalds' work.]

One of the tumuli known as Mont St.-Michel, is so situated with
respect to the Maenec row that it seems impossible to dissociate the
two. It was opened by M. René Galles in 1862, and an account of his
researches, in the form of a report to the Préfet, was published
shortly afterwards. The mound itself, at its base, is nearly 400 feet
in length by half that dimension in width. In modern times its summit
has been levelled, to form a platform for the church which now occupies
its eastern summit. In front of the church, M. Galles sunk a shaft
near the centre of the mound, and came upon a sepulchral chamber of
irregular form, the side walls of which were formed of very irregular
and bad masonry of small stones, similar to that of the dolmens at
Crubelz. Its mean dimensions were about 6 feet by 5 feet, and 3 feet
6 inches in height. In it were found some magnificent celts of jade
and tribolite, nine pendents in jasper, and 101 beads in jasper, with
some in turquoise, all polished and pierced so as to form a necklace.
The human remains in the principal cell seem utterly to have perished,
owing probably to the continued penetration of water since, at least,
the levelling of the summit, though some bones were subsequently found
in a small chamber adjoining.

On the north side of the avenue at Kerlescant, at a distance of about
100 paces from it, is a second long barrow, consequently occupying
the same relative position to it that Mont St.-Michel does to that at
Maenec. It is so similar in external appearance and general arrangement
to that forming the north side of the enclosure, which terminates the
avenue, that there can be little doubt of their being of the same age
and forming part of the same general arrangement. It had been opened
some twenty years ago by a gentleman residing at Carnac, but was
re-examined in 1867 by the Rev. W. C. Lukis.[417]

[Illustration: 138. Long Barrow at Kerlescant.]

In the centre he found a long rectangular chamber, measuring 52 feet
in length by 5 feet in width internally, and divided into two equal
compartments by two stones cut away in the centre, so as to leave a
hole 1 foot 6 inches wide by 3 feet high. A similar but smaller hole
exists on the side, and is identical with those found in the long
barrows at Rodmarton and Avening in Gloucestershire.[418] Mr. Lukis,
among other things, found an immense quantity of broken pottery, some
of very fine quality. Two vases which he was enabled to restore are
interesting from their general resemblance to the two which Mr. Bateman
found in Arbor Low (woodcut No. 31). Though not exactly the same in
form, there can be little doubt that they belong to the same age.

[Illustration: 139. Hole between Two Stones at Kerlescant.[419]]

[Illustration: 141. Vases found at Kerlescant.]

About a mile from this example, Mr. Lukis mentions a still larger
one. It measures 81 feet in length by 6 feet in width, is divided
into two compartments like the one just described, and has also a
holed entrance. He also measured two in Finistère, one 76 feet, the
other 66 feet, in length, and both 6 feet wide. Both, however, had
been rifled long ago, and are now mere ruins. More, no doubt, would be
found if looked for. Indeed, these straight-lined "allées couvertes,"
or "Grottes des fées," without cells, as the French call them, as
before mentioned, are the most characteristic, if not the most common,
form of French rude-stone monuments. The only other place where they
are equally common is Drenthe, and it may be that this side hole
at Kerlescant is an approach to the side entrance so usual in that

At Plouharnel, about a mile and a half westward from Mont St.-Michel, a
double dolmen was opened a good many years ago. In it were found some
beautiful gold ornaments, others in bronze, and some celts or stone
axes in jade[420]--all these, like those of Mont St.-Michel, belonging
evidently to what antiquaries call the latest period of the Polished
Stone age; but until it is determined what that age is, it does not
help us much to a date.

[Illustration: 142. Plan of Moustoir-Carnac.]

[Illustration: 143. Section of Moustoir-Carnac. From 'Mémoire' by René

To the north of Kerlescant, at about the distance of half a mile,
is another long barrow, called Moustoir or Moustoir-Carnac, which
was opened in 1865, also by M. René Galles. It was found to contain
four separate interments, dispersed along its length, which exceeds
280 feet, the height varying from 15 to 20 feet. The western chamber
is a regular dolmen, of the class called "Grottes des fées," and is
apparently the oldest of the group. The centre one (_b_) is a very
irregular chamber, the plan of which it is difficult to make out; the
third (_c_) is a dolmen, irregular in plan, but roofed with three
large stones; but the fourth (_d_) is a circular chamber, the walls
of which are formed of tolerably large stones, the roof being built
up into the form of a horizontal dome (woodcut No. 144), by stones
projecting and overlapping, instead of the simpler ceiling of single
blocks as on all the earlier monuments. This, as well as the walls,
being built with small stones, I take to be a certain indication of
a more modern age. A considerable number of flint implements were
found in the western chamber, with some beads and a partially pierced
cylinder in serpentine, but no coins, nor any object of an age which
can be positively dated. Here, however, these troublesome Roman tiles
make their appearance as at Crubelz. "Ici, comme à Mané er H'roëk,
nous trouvons les traces caractéristiques du conquerant (les Romains):
des tuiles à rebord ont croulé, au pied de notre butte funéraire, et
plusieurs même se sont glissées à travers les couches supérieures des
pierres, qui forment une partie de la masse."[421]

[Illustration: 144. Section of Chamber _d_ of Moustier-Carnac.]

If these monuments are really prehistoric, it is to me incomprehensible
that these traces of the Romans should be so generally prevalent in
their structure. If it is objected that these are not found in the
chambers of the tombs themselves, the answer seems only too evident
that hardly one of them is virgin: all, or nearly all, have been
entered before the time of recent explorers, and all their more
valuable contents removed. Celts and beads and stone implements were
not likely to attract the attention of early pilferers, and these they
left; but except in the instance of the sepulchre at Plouharnel, metal
is very rarely found in any. But the presence of Roman pottery, or
other evidence of that people, in the long barrows in Gloucestershire,
at Kennet, and at Carnac, are too frequent to be accidental. In so far
as proving that the monument is not prehistoric, the presence of a
single fragment of Roman pottery is as conclusive as a hoard of coins
would be, provided it is found so placed that it could not have been
inserted there after the mound was complete; and this I fancy is the
case in all the instances mentioned above.


It is rather to be regretted that no good survey exists of this
cemetery. Not that much depends on the juxtaposition of the monuments,
but that, as the French are continually changing their names, and most
of them have two, it is not always easy to feel sure which monument
is being spoken of at any particular time. Those on the mainland are
situated in a zone about a mile in length, running north and south,
between Mané Lud, the most northern, and Mané er H'roëk, the most
southern. The first-named is a long barrow, 260 feet by about 165,
but not, as in England, of one age or containing only one, but, like
Moustoir-Carnac, several sepulchres, which may either be of the same
age or erected at different though hardly distant periods, and joined
together by being buried under one great mound. Of the three which Mané
Lud contains, the most interesting is the partially covered dolmen at
the west end. It consists of a chamber of somewhat irregular form, but
measuring 12 feet by 10 feet, and covered by one enormous block of
stone, measuring 29 feet by 15 feet, and with a passage leading to it,
making the whole length from the entrance to the central block of the
chamber 20 feet. According to Mr. Ferguson,[422] five of the blocks
of this dolmen are sculptured; according to M. René Galles,[423] nine
are so ornamented. The stone, however, is so rough and the place so
dark that it is difficult at times to distinguish them and always so
to draw them. The principal objects represented seem to be intended
for boats and hatchets, but there are other figures which cannot be
so classed, and, though it may be rash to call them writing, they may
mean numbers or cyphers of some sort. Their great interest is, however,
their similarity to the engravings on Irish monuments. If any one will,
for instance, compare this woodcut (No. 145) and woodcut No. 68 from
New Grange, he can hardly fail to see a likeness which cannot well be
accidental; and in like manner the curvilinear forms of woodcut No.
146, in a manner hardly to be mistaken, resemble those from Clover Hill
(woodcut No. 77).

[Illustration: 145. Sculpture at Mané Lud.]

[Illustration: 146. Sculpture at Mané Lud.[424]]

[Illustration: 147. View of Dol ar Marchant. From Blair and Ronald.]

Close by Mané Lud, but a little nearer to Locmariaker, stands what may
be considered as the most interesting, if not the finest, free-standing
dolmen in France. Its roof consists of two stones: one of these
measures 18 feet by 9 feet,[425] and more than 3 feet in thickness. The
second stone is very much smaller, and seems to form a sort of porch to
it. The great stone rests, like that of most free-standing dolmens, on
three points, their architects having early learned how difficult it
was to make sure of their resting on more; so that unless they wanted a
wall to keep out the stuff out of which the tumulus was to be composed,
they generally poised them on three points like that at Castle Wellan
(woodcut No. 7).

[Illustration: 148. End Stone, Dol ar Marchant.]

[Illustration: 149. Hatchet in roof of Dol ar Marchant.]

The great interest in this dolmen, however, lies in its sculptures. The
stone which closes the east end is shaped into the form of two sides of
an equilateral spherical triangle and covered with sculptures, which
this time are neither characters nor representations of living things,
but purely decorative. At one time I thought the form of a cross could
be traced on the stone. The central stem and the upper arm are shown
clearly enough in the drawing by Mr. Ferguson; but all the drawings
show a lower cross-arm--though I confess I did not see it--which quite
destroys this idea. On the roof a well-sculptured plumed[426] hatchet
can be traced very distinctly, as shown in the woodcut copied from Mr.
Ferguson. He fancies he can also trace the form of a plough in the
sculptures of the roof, but this seems doubtful.

It is to this dolmen that the great fallen obelisk belongs. If it
was one stone, it measured 64 feet in length and 13 feet across its
greatest diameter; but I confess I cannot, from the mode in which it
has fallen, rid myself of the idea that it was in reality two obelisks,
and not one. Whether this was the case or not, it is a remarkable work
of art for a rude people, for it certainly has been shaped with care,
and with the same amount of labour might have been made square or round
or any other shape that might have been desired. This, however, is
one of the peculiarities of the style. No one will dispute that this
obelisk and the stones of the Dol ar Marchant are hewn; but instead of
adopting the geometrical forms, of which we are so fond, they preferred
those that reminded them of their old rude monuments, and which to
their eyes were more beautiful than the straight lines of the Romans. I
do not feel quite sure that artistically they were not right.

If we compare this dolmen with that at Krukenho (woodcut No. 126), the
difference between them appears very striking. The Del ar Marchant is a
regular tripod dolmen, carefully built of shaped stones and engraved.
The other is a magnificent cist, walled with rude stones, and such as
would form a chamber in a tumulus if buried in one, though whether this
particular example was ever intended to be so treated or not is by no
means clear. Be this as it may, there are two modes of accounting for
the difference between two monuments so nearly alike in dimensions and
situated so near to one another. The first would be to assume that the
Krukenho example is the oldest, it being the rudest and approaching
more nearly to the primitive form of the monuments: the second would
be to assume that the one was the memorial of some warrior, erected in
haste on the battle-field where he fell, by his companions in arms;
and that the other was a royal sepulchre, prepared at leisure either
by the king himself or by those who succeeded him in times of peace,
and consequently who had leisure for such works. We must know more of
these monuments before a satisfactory choice can be made between these
two hypotheses. At present I rather incline to the belief that the
circumstances under which they were erected may have more to do with
their differences than their relative ages.

To return to Locmariaker. Close to the town there is, or was, a long
allée couverte.[427] It is 70 feet long, and divided towards its inner
end into a square chamber, to which a long-slightly curved gallery
led, composed of fourteen stones on each side. Five of these are
covered with ornaments, and characters engraved on them. One might be
considered as representing the leaf of a fern, or possibly a palm; the
rest are ovals, circles, and similar ornaments, which may or may not
have more meaning than those at New Grange or other monuments in the

[Illustration: 150. Stone found inside Chamber at Mané er H'roëk.]

On the other side of the village is the tumulus already mentioned as
Mané er H'roëk, where the twelve Roman coins were found, and inside
it an immense collection of polished celts, but all broken, and one
slab, which apparently originally closed the door, and is covered with
sculptured hatchets, similar in character to that on the roof of the
Dol ar Marchant, but not so carefully drawn nor so well engraved.

[Illustration: 151. Plan of Gavr Innis.]

Besides these there are several--probably as many as a dozen--monuments
of the same class, within what may fairly be considered the limits of
this cemetery; but of these the most interesting, as well as the most
perfect, is that on the island of Gavr Innis, about 2 miles eastward
from Locmariaker.

[Illustration: 152. Sculptures at Gavr Innis. From a drawing by Sir
Henry Dryden.[428]]

[Illustration: 153. Holed Stone, Gavr Innis. From a drawing by Sir
Henry Dryden.]

The plan of the chamber of this monument will be understood from the
annexed plan.[429] The gallery of entrance measures 44 feet from where
the lining stones begin to the chamber, which is quadrangular in
form, and measures 9 feet by 8 feet. All the six stones forming the
three sides of the chamber, and most of those which line the entrance
on either hand, are most elaborately sculptured with patterns, the
character of which will be understood from the annexed woodcuts. The
pattern, it will be observed, is not so flowing or graceful as those
found at New Grange or Dowth, and nowhere, I believe, can it be said
to imitate vegetable forms; and in the woodcut on the left-hand stone
are some seventeen or eighteen figures, which are generally supposed
to represent celts, and probably do so; but if they do, from their
position they must mean something more, either numbers or names, but,
whatever it may be, its meaning has not yet been guessed. On other
stones there are waving lines, which are very generally assumed to
represent serpents, and, I believe, correctly so; but as that is
somewhat doubtful, it is as well to refrain from citing them. Besides
these, the general pattern is circles within circles, and flowing
lines nearly equidistant, but, except on one stone, never of spirals,
and then less graceful than the Irish. The sculpture, however, on some
of the stones at Lough Crew, and that in the centre especially of
woodcut No. 75, is absolutely identical with the patterns found here;
and altogether there is more similarity between these sculptures and
those at Lough Crew than between almost any other monuments of the
class that I know of.

In the chamber on the left-hand side is a stone (woodcut No. 153),
with three holes in it, which have given rise to an unlimited amount
of speculation. Generally it is assumed that it was here that the
Druids tied up the human victims whom they were about to sacrifice.
But, without going back to the question as to whether there ever were
any Druids in the Morbihan, would any priest choose a small dungeon 8
feet square and absolutely dark for the performance of one of their
greatest and most solemn rites? So far as we know anything of human
sacrifices, they were always performed in the open day and in the
presence of multitudes. Assuming for the moment, however, that these
holes were intended for some such purpose, two would have sufficed, and
these of a form much simpler and more easily cut. As will be seen from
the woodcut, not only are the three holes joined, but a ledge or trough
is sunk below them which might hold oil or holy water, and must, it
appears to me, have been intended for some such purpose.

The existence of these holes seems to set at rest another question of
some interest. Generally it has been assumed that the tattooing on the
stones of the chambers, &c., may have been done with stone implements.
This cannot be denied, though it seems improbable; but the undercutting
of the passages between these holes and the formation of the trough
could only be effected by a tool which would bear a blow on its head,
and a heavy one too, or, in other words, by some well-tempered metal

At Tumiac, opposite Gavr Innis, existed a very large tumulus, which
was opened in 1853 by Messrs. Fouquet and L. Galles. It was found to
contain a small chamber, partly formed of large slabs, partly of small
stones. Some of the former had rude carvings upon them, but without any
meaning that can now be made out.

The whole has the appearance of being considerably more modern than
Gavr Innis.

       *       *       *       *       *

Besides these, in the neighbourhood of Carnac and Locmariaker, there
are at least three other groups of stones in France which deserve much
more attention than has hitherto been bestowed upon them. The first is
in the peninsula of Crozon, forming the southern side of the roadstead
of Brest. It consists, among others, of three alignments of stones. The
principal one is at a place called Kerdouadec, and consists of a single
line of stones 1600 feet in length, arranged on a slightly curved plan,
and terminating in a curious "Swastica"-like cross. The second, at
Carmaret, is a single line, 900 feet long, and with two branches at
right angles to it, near its centre. The third, at Leuré, is likewise
a single line with a slight elbow in the centre, from which starts a
short branch at right angles.[430]

[Illustration: 154. Alignments at Crozon.]

I am not able to offer a conjecture what these alignments represent,
nor why or when they were placed here. Whether an inspection on the
spot might suggest some clue is not clear, but they are so unlike
anything found anywhere else, either in France or any other country,
that they must for the present, I fear, remain a mystery.

The second group, known as the Gré de Cojou, is situated about halfway
between Rennes and Redon. The remains here consist of a short double
alignment some 500 feet long, several tumuli--one at least surmounted
by a circle of stones--several stone enclosures, and frequent dolmens.
They have been imperfectly described by M. Ramé,[431] and planned,
but not published, by Sir Henry Dryden. Until these are given to the
world more in detail than has hitherto been done, it is impossible to
say whether they represent a battle-field or a cemetery. From their
position--a bleak, barren heath, far from any centre of population--I
would guess the former; but I have not visited the place myself, and
the information at my command is too meagre to enable me to speak with
any confidence regarding them.

The third group is in the department of the Lot, near Preissac, in
the parish of Junies, and extends over half a mile (800 metres) in
length. Unfortunately we have nothing but verbal descriptions of it,
and from these it is impossible to realise its form, or predicate its
destination.[432] We are, indeed, in a state of great ignorance with
regard to all these megalithic remains in the south of France, but as
they seem as important and as numerous as those in the north, it is to
be hoped some one will devote an autumn to their illustration. There
are probably several other groups as important as those at Junies, but
they are quite unknown to us at present. These groups must therefore
be put aside for the present, and any argument regarding age or use of
this class of monuments must be based wholly on what we know of those
of the Morbihan.

       *       *       *       *       *

So far as I know, no reasonable tradition attaches to any of the
monuments in the Locmariaker cemetery which would enable us to fix
their dates with anything like certainty, nor are there any local
circumstances, except the Roman coins and tiles above alluded to, which
aid us in our researches. We are thus left to such general inferences
as the case admits of, and to a comparison with other similar monuments
whose dates are nearer and better ascertained. No one, however, who is
familiar with the two great cemeteries of Meath will probably hesitate
in admitting that the two groups cannot be far separated in date. Of
course, it is impossible in a general work like the present to put the
evidence forward in anything like a complete state. In order to do
this in a satisfactory manner would require a large volume to itself,
and the illustrations both of the French and Irish examples should be
drawn by the same person. Even the few illustrations that have been
given are probably sufficient to show a similarity so great that it
can hardly be accidental, and I may be allowed to add, from personal
familiarity with both groups of monuments, that it seems impossible
to escape the conviction that they are monuments of the same class,
probably of the same or a closely allied race, and of about the same
age. This last must always be the most uncertain premiss of the three,
as we can scarcely hope ever to know the relative state of civilization
of the two countries at a given time; and consequently, even if we
could prove that two ornaments in the two countries were identical in
form, this would not prove that there might not be a difference of
fifty or a hundred years between them. Even at a later age, in the
thirteenth century, for instance, the same form and the same style in
France and England did not prevent a difference of fifty years existing
between any two examples. In the fourteenth the two were abreast, and
in the fifteenth century they again diverged, so that, although the
architecture of both was still Gothic, a comparison of style for this
purpose became almost impossible.

In like manner, though the central ornament in the middle stone at
Lough Crew (woodcut No. 75) is almost identical with some of the
ornaments at Gavr Innis (woodcut No. 152), it by no means necessarily
follows that the two are exactly of the same age. So, too, the foliage
at New Grange (woodcut No. 67) and that in the allée--now, I fear,
destroyed--at Locmariaker are evidently of one style, but still admit
of a certain latitude of date. On the whole, judging from style alone,
I should feel inclined to range Gavr Innis rather with the cemetery at
Lough Crew than with that on the Boyne; as well from its ornaments as
because I fancy that those monuments which are roofed with flat stones
only are earlier than those which make some attempt at construction.
But, on the other hand, I believe that Mané er H'roëk and Mané Lud may
more probably range with New Grange and Dowth; and as I look upon it
as quite certain that the monuments on the Boyne were all erected in
the first four centuries after the birth of Christ, it seems impossible
that the age of those at Locmariaker can be very distant from that date.

To many it will no doubt seem improbable that these monuments should
have been erected during the occupation of the country by the Romans.
If, however, they would take the trouble of studying what is now going
on in India, their incredulity would, I fancy, soon disappear. The
natives there at the present day are in many parts of the country
building temples which it requires a practised eye to distinguish from
those erected before any European settled in the land; and they follow
their own customs, and worship their own gods, utterly irrespective of,
and uninfluenced by, the strangers who have held the chief sway in the
country for more than a hundred years. It must also be borne in mind
that the Romans never really settled in Brittany. The country was poor
then as now, and it led to nowhere. So long as the Bretons remained
quiet, the Romans seem to have left them to themselves, and certainly
have left no traces of any establishment of importance in their
country--nothing that would lead us to suspect such intimate relations
with the natives as would induce them to change their faith or fashions
and copy the institutions of the foreigners.

On the other hand, it seems not only possible, but probable, that
intercourse with the Romans may first have inspired the inhabitants
of Brittany with a desire to attain greater durability and more
magnificence, by the employment of stone, instead of earth or wood,
for their monuments. This they might do, without its creating in
their minds the smallest desire to copy either Roman forms or Roman
institutions. On the contrary, we have every reason to believe that in
these remote districts the Romans would be hated as conquerors, and
that their religion and their customs would be held in abhorrence as
strange and unsuited to the land they occupied.

Be this as it may, a comparison with the Irish examples reduces the
questions at issue with regard to dates within very narrow limits.
Either these monuments were erected immediately before or during the
time of the Roman occupation or immediately after their departure,
but prior to the conversion of the natives to Christianity. We are not
yet in a position to decide positively between these two hypotheses,
but the presence of Roman coins and Roman tiles in some of the mounds
and the whole aspect of the argument seem to me to incline the balance
in favour of their belonging to Roman times. Some may be anterior to
the Christian era, but I am very much mistaken if it be not eventually
admitted that the greater number of them are subsequent to that epoch.

Even, however, if the age of the monuments of the cemetery of
Locmariaker could be ascertained, it would by no means necessarily
carry with it that of the stone rows at Carnac. They belong to a
different category altogether, and may be of a different age.

No one now, I presume, after what has been said above, especially with
regard to the Scandinavian examples, will think it necessary that I
should go over the ground to prove that they are not temples. Every
argument that could be adduced to prove that Avebury or Stonehenge are
not temples tells with tenfold force here. A temple extending over six
or seven miles of country is more improbable than one covering only
28 acres. This one, too, is open everywhere, and has no enclosure or
"temenos" of any sort, and there being an uneven number of equally
spaced rows of stones in the principal monument is sufficient to show
it was not intended and could not be used for processions. In fact I
hardly know of any proposition that appears to me so manifestly absurd
as that these stone rows were temples, and I feel sure that no one who
thinks twice of the matter will venture again to affirm it.

It seems equally clear that they were not erected for any civic or
civil purpose. No meetings could be held, and no administrative
functions could be carried on in or around them. Nor are they
sepulchral in any ordinary sense of the term. In the first place
because, though men were buried in tumuli or under dolmens, or had
single head-stones, nowhere were men buried in rows like this,
extending over miles of heath and barren country. But the great fact
is that the French savants have dug repeatedly about these stones and
found no trace of burials. The most conclusive experiment of the sort
was made by a road surveyor some six or seven years ago. Wishing to
raise the road from Auray to Carnac, he dug out the sand and gravel on
the east side of the road, over a considerable area, to a depth of from
three to four feet; but being of a conservative turn of mind, he left
the eleven rows of stones each standing on a little pillar of sand. It
was then easy to trace the undisturbed strata of differently coloured
earth round and almost under the stones, and to feel perfectly certain
that it had never been disturbed by any inhumation. It, no doubt, is
true that the long barrow at Kerlescant, the dolmen at Kermario, and
the enclosure at Maenec, may have been, indeed most probably were,
all of them, burying-places, but they can no more be considered the
monument than the drums and fifes can be considered the regiment. They
are only the adjuncts; the great rows must be considered as essentially
the monuments.

If, therefore, they are neither temples, nor town-halls, nor even
sepulchres, we are driven back on the only remaining group of motives
which, so far as I know, ever induced mankind to expend time and labour
on the erection of perfectly unutilitarian erections. They must be
trophies--the memorials of some great battle or battles that at some
time or other were fought out on this plain. The fact of the head of
each division being a tomb is in favour of this hypothesis; but if it
is considered as the principal part, it is like drawing a jackdaw with
a peacock's tail--an absurdity into which these men of the olden time
would hardly fall.

It is more difficult to answer the questions, Are Carnac and Erdeven
parts of one great design, or two separate monuments? Is Carnac the
march, St.-Barbe the position before the battle, Erdeven the scene
of the final struggle for the heights that gave the victory, and the
tombs scattered over the plain between these alignments the graves of
those who fell in that fight? Such appears to me the only feasible
explanation of what we here find; but the great question still remains,
What fight?

There is, probably, no single instance in which the negative argument
derived from the silence of the classical authors applies with such
force as to this. If these stones existed when Cæsar waged war against
the Veneti in this quarter, he must have seen them, and as it may be
presumed that the monument was then more complete than it is now, he
could hardly have failed to be struck with it, and, if so, to have
mentioned it in his 'Commentaries.' Even, however, if he neglected
them, the officers of his army must have seen these stones. They must
have been talked about in Rome, and some gossip like Pliny, when
writing about stones, must have heard of this wonderful group, and
have alluded to it in some way. The silence, however, is absolute. No
mediæval rhapsodist even attempts to give them a pre-Roman origin.
Such traditions as that of St. Cornely, or Cornelius the Centurion,
though absurd enough, point, as such traditions generally do, to the
transition time between paganism and Christianity, when, apparently,
all mediæval chroniclers seem to have believed that all these
rude-stone monuments were erected. Till, therefore, some stronger
argument than has yet been adduced, or some new analogy be suggested,
the pre-Roman theory must be set aside; and if this is so, we are
tolerably safe in assuming that no battle of sufficient importance was
fought which these stones could be erected to commemorate during the
time when the Romans held supreme sway in the country.

If this is so, our choice of an event to be represented by these great
stone rows is limited to the period which elapsed between the overthrow
of the Roman power by Maximus, A.D. 383, and the time when the
people of the country were completely converted to Christianity--which
happened in the early part of the sixth century.[433] But if the
history of England is confused and uncertain during that century and a
half, that of Brittany is even more so, and has not yet been elucidated
by the French authorities to the same extent as ours has been.

No one, I believe, doubts that Maximus, coming with an army from
Britain, landed somewhere in Brittany, where he fought a great battle
with the forces of Gratian, whom he defeated, and that afterwards,
in a second battle near Lyons, he expelled the legitimate government
of the Romans from Gaul.[434] I also see no reason for doubting that
he was accompanied by a British prince Conan Meriadec, who afterwards
settled in the country with thousands of his emigrant countrymen, over
whom he was enabled to establish his chieftainship on the ruins of the
Roman power.

If this is so, the battle which destroyed the Roman power, and gave
rise to the native dynasty, would be worthy of such a monument as that
at Carnac; but so far as local traditions go, the place where Maximus
and his British allies landed was near St. Malo, and the battle was
fought at a place called Alleth, near St. Servan.[435] If this is so,
it was too far off to have any connection with the Carnac stones. Two
other wars seem to have been carried on by Conan, one in 410 against
a people who are merely called barbarians,[436] a second against the
Romans under Exuperantius in 416;[437] but we have no local particulars
which would enable us to connect these wars with our stones. A war of
liberation against Rome would be worthy of a national monument, and
it may be that this is such a one, but I know of nothing to connect
the two together, though local enquiries on the spot might remove this

On the whole, however, I am more inclined to look among the events of
the next reign for a key to the riddle. Grallon was engaged in two
wars at least: one against the Roman consul Liberius in 439,[438]
in which he succeeded in frustrating the attempts of that people to
recover their lost power; the other against the "Norman pirates;"[439]
and it is to this, as connecting the stone monuments with a Northern
people, that I should be inclined to ascribe the erection of the Carnac
alignments. From Grallon being the reputed founder of Landevenec, it
might seem more probable that the alignments at Crozon marked the
position of this battle, and I am not prepared to dispute that it may
be so. The question is not of importance; if either group marked a
battle-field of this period, the other certainly did so also, and I
would prefer to refrain from offering any opinion as to what particular
battle these stones commemorate. That must be determined by some
local antiquary with much more intimate knowledge of the history and
traditions of the province than I possess. All I wish to show here is
that there was a period of a century and a half between the departure
of the Romans and the time when the Bretons were so completely
converted to Christianity as to abandon their old habits and customs,
and that during that period there were wars with the Romans and the
Northern barbarians of sufficient importance to justify the erection
of any monuments within the competence of the people. If this is so,
and we are limited to this period, enough is established in so far as
the argument of this work is concerned, and the rest may fairly be
left to be discussed and determined by the local antiquaries. All that
it is necessary to contend for here is, that the alignments at Carnac
are neither temples, nor tombs, nor town-halls, and that they were not
erected before the time of the Romans. If these negative propositions
are answered, there will not, probably, be much difficulty in admitting
that they must be trophies, and that the battle or campaign which they
commemorate was fought between the years 380 and 550 A.D.--in
fact in the Arthurian age, to which we have ascribed most of those in
this country.

The monuments in the cemetery at Locmariaker are probably older, but
some of them extend down to the time when Carnac "closed the line in

M. BERTRAND, 1864.[440]

                            Dolmens.     Terminations in _ac_.
  Lot                         500               71
  Finistère                   500                3
  Morbihan                    250               26
  Ardèche                     155               16
  Aveyron                     125               35
  Dordogne                    100               75
  Vienne (Haute et Basse)      82               41
  Côtes du Nord                56                8
  Maine-et-Loire               53               --
  Eure-et-Loir                 40               --
  Gard                         32               16
  Aube                         28                1
  Indre-et-Loire               28               --
  Charente                     26               50
  Creuse                       26                6
  Charente-Inférieure          24               21
  Lozère                       19               16
  Corrèze                      17               42
  Vendée                       17               --
  Loire-Inférieure             16               11
  Sarthe                       15               --
  Ille-et-Vilaine              15               18
  Deux-Sèvres                  15               --
  Orne                         14               --
  Indre                        13                3
  Manche                       13               --
  Pyrénées-Orientales          12                2
  Puy-de-Dôme                  10                3
  Oise                          9               --
  Cantal                        8               37
  Tarn-et-Garonne               7               16

    [Footnote 379: 'Revue archéologique,' August, 1864, 148 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 380: Livy, v. chap. 34.]

    [Footnote 381: Walcknaer, 'Géographie des Gaules.' The earlier
    chapters and Map V.]

    [Footnote 382: 'Revue archéologique,' new series, vii. 228.]

    [Footnote 383: _Ibid._]

    [Footnote 384: 'De Bello Gall.' i. 1.]

    [Footnote 385: Strabo, vi. 176, 189.]

    [Footnote 386: 'Archæological Journal,' 1870, cviii. p. 225 _et

    [Footnote 387: Lartet, Christy, and 'Reliquiæ Aquitanicæ.' London,
    1865 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 388: 'Monuments mégalithiques du Vivarais,' p. Oll. de
    Marchand; Montpellier, 1870.]

    [Footnote 389: 'Époques antéhistoriques du Poitou,' P. A.
    Brouillet; Poitiers, 1865.]

    [Footnote 390: This list must be taken as only tentative. All I
    have done was to take the Atlas Joanne, and count the number of
    names as well as I could. I feel far from confident that I have
    counted all; and, besides, the scale of the maps is too small to
    feel sure that all, or nearly all, are there. It is, however,
    sufficient for present purposes of comparison. If it is thought
    worth while to pursue the investigation farther, it must be done
    on the 80,000 scale map of France, which would be work of great

    [Footnote 391: Delpon, 'Statistique du Département du Lot,' i. p.

    [Footnote 392: In the Ordnance Maps, 1-inch scale, the termination
    _ac_ occurs at least 38 times in this corner, though in these maps
    always spelt with an additional _k_, as Botallac_k_, Carnidjac_k_;
    although this is by no means the usual or ancient spelling of the

    [Footnote 393: The whole of these churches are described in more or
    less detail by Félix de Verneilh in his 'Architecture byzantine en
    France,' 4to. Paris, 1851. Several of them are also illustrated in
    my 'History of Architecture,' i. 418-441.]

    [Footnote 394: The argument, which it is not necessary to enter
    on here, has been well summed up by Dr. Schmitz, in Smith's
    'Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography,' _sub voce_ Cimbri.]

    [Footnote 395: The existence of this line of dolmens and of a
    separate people, all the way from Brittany to Narbonne, may serve,
    perhaps, to explain the mode in which the tin of Britain found
    its way across France to the Mediterranean Sea. That the Veneti
    traded from the Côtes-du-Nord and the Morbihan to Cornwall and
    the Cassiterides, no one, probably, will dispute. Their vessels,
    according to Cæsar's account, were fully equal to carrying to
    France all the metal this country could produce. The road by which
    it reached Marseilles across France was always the difficulty. In
    later times, the Celtic trade-route across France was apparently
    up the Rhone, but on its left bank, and down the Seine, or on its
    right bank; passing then through Celtica, but round the Aquitania
    of Augustus, and reaching Britain through the country of the
    Morini, which was the route Cæsar followed. This does not, however,
    appear to have been the line which was taken by the trade in tin.
    It followed, so far as we know, the central line of the dolmen
    country; and the fact of one people and one language prevailing
    throughout the whole of that region takes away any improbability,
    and removes all the difficulties that have hitherto impeded the
    adoption of that hypothesis.]

    [Footnote 396: My intention was to have spent last autumn in
    travelling through the southern departments of France with this
    intent; but the war rendered the position of an exploring and
    sketching foreigner so undesirable that I was forced to desist. Had
    this book been a "statisque" of the subject, as it was originally
    intended, I should have been obliged to defer its publication till
    I had accomplished this journey, or till the monuments had been
    illustrated. As, however, it has now assumed more the form of an
    "argument," this is of comparatively little consequence.]

    [Footnote 397: In a paper on the 'Monuments mégalithiques de
    l'Auvergne,' by M. Cartheilhac, in the Norwich volume of the
    Prehistoric Congress, he gives drawings of ten as types. Five of
    these, or one-half, are dolmens on tumuli, which is, however,
    probably more than a fair proportion. One has already been given,
    woodcut No. 8.]

    [Footnote 398: 'Statistique monumentale de la Charente,' 141.
    Richard, 'France monumentale,' p. 677. 'Mém. de la Société royale
    des Antiquaires de France,' vii. 26.]

    [Footnote 399: The woodcuts are copied from Michon, 'Statistique
    de la Charente.' In describing it, he quotes the Edict of the
    Council at Nantes with regard to the destruction of these
    "venerated stones." He (p. 141) gives the date of this council as
    A.D. 1262, which would almost make it appear that this was
    one of the stones against which the decree was fulminated. This
    date, however, appears to be a mistake. The true date I believe to
    be 658, as given above, p. 24.]

    [Footnote 400: 'Rev. archéologique,' ix. 400.]

    [Footnote 401: 'Essai sur les Dolmens,' p. 38.]

    [Footnote 402: Paper read by S. Ferguson, Q.C., before the R. I. A.
    14th Dec. 1863. See also pamphlet by René Galles (Vannes, 1863),
    describing the exploration.]

    [Footnote 403: 'Congrès préhistorique,' vol. de Paris, 1868, 42.]

    [Footnote 404: All these are represented in Gailhabaud's
    'Architecture ancienne et moderne,' ii. plates 7 and 8.]

    [Footnote 405: The woodcut is from a publication privately printed
    by Dr. Blair and Mr. Ronalds.]

    [Footnote 406: Gailhabaud, 'Arch. anc. et mod.' i.]

    [Footnote 407: Renouvier, 'Monuments de Bas-Languedoc.' No numbers
    to plates.]

    [Footnote 408: See one published by Sir R. Colt Hoare, 'Modern
    Wiltshire,' iv. p. 57.]

    [Footnote 409: 'Kilkenny Journal,' third series, vol. i. p. 40 _et

    [Footnote 410: I have not seen the monument myself, nor do I know
    any one who has, but I cannot believe it to be a pure invention.
    Too much stress must not, however, be laid upon it.]

    [Footnote 411: There is a woodcut in Bonstetten's work (p. 25)
    which, being taken endways, explains more clearly how, the
    cap-stone resting on two points only, it can be understood to
    oscillate. It is, however, much less correct as a representation.
      [Illustration: 133. Pierre Martine. From Bonstetten]]

    [Footnote 412: Delpon, 'Statistique du Dép. du Lot,' i. p. 388.]

    [Footnote 413: 'Ptolemæi Geo.' Amstel. 1605, p. 47.]

    [Footnote 414: The only survey of this monument which has
    been published, and can be depended upon, is that made by Mr.
    Vicars, a surveyor of Exeter, for the Rev. Dr. Bathurst Deane.
    It was published by him on a reduced scale in vol. xxv. of the
    'Archæologia,' and re-engraved, with the principal parts on the
    original scale, by Dr. Blair and Mr. Ronalds, in the work before
    alluded to, but unfortunately never published. The original map, on
    a scale of 440 feet to 1 inch, is still in Dr. Deane's possession,
    at Bath, and is so valuable a record of what the monument was
    thirty-two years ago that it is hoped it may be preserved by some
    public body. Sir Henry Dryden and the Rev. Mr. Lukis have been
    employed for some years past exploring and surveying in that
    neighbourhood, and have brought back perfect plans, on a large
    scale, of all the principal monuments; and if these were published,
    they would leave little to be desired in that respect. Meanwhile
    nothing can exceed Sir Henry's kindness and liberality in allowing
    access to his treasures, and the use of them by any one who desires
    it; and I am indebted to him for a great deal of the information
    in this chapter. The general plans here published are from Messrs.
    Blair and Ronalds' work, which is quite sufficiently correct for my
    scale or my present purpose.]

    [Footnote 415: The form of this enclosure, as will be seen from
    the plan, is not an exact square, and some of the angle-stones
    being removed, it is difficult now to ascertain its exact form.
    Sir Henry Dryden makes it curvilinear. Messrs. Blair and Ronalds
    make the east side quite straight; the south and west were slightly
    curvilinear, but the whole figure is quadrangular; which is my own
    impression of its form.]

    [Footnote 416: Sir Henry Dryden counts ten rows. Mr. Vicars'
    survey, from which the woodcut is copied, makes only eight. Their
    irregularity makes it difficult to feel certain on such a point.]

    [Footnote 417: 'Journal of Archæological Association,' vol. xxiv.
    pp. 40 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 418: _Ante_, pp. 163 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 419: It is so difficult to realise these similarities,
    except by representation, that I give here a woodcut of that at
    Rodmarton. Allowing for the difference of drawing and engraving,
    the openings are identical, and it is so peculiar in form that the
    likeness cannot be accidental. If it does not occur anywhere else,
    or at any other time, it proves, as far as anything can prove, that
    the French and English long barrows were erected under the same
    inspiration. If one is post-Roman, so, certainly, is the other; or
    if one can be proved to be prehistoric, the other must follow.

      [Illustration: 140. Entrance to Cell, Rodmarton.]]

    [Footnote 420: These were exhibited in the inn in the village when
    I was there. Where they are now, I do not know.]

    [Footnote 421: 'Revue archéologique,' xii. p. 17.]

    [Footnote 422: 'Proceedings of Royal Irish Academy,' vol. viii.
    1864, p. 298 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 423: 'Revue archéologique,' vol. x. 1864, pl. iv.]

    [Footnote 424: Woodcuts No. 145 and 146 are copied from Mr.
    Ferguson's paper in the 'Proceedings of Royal Irish Academy,' viii.
    398 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 425: These dimensions are from Richard; other authorities
    make it 18 feet by 12 feet.]

    [Footnote 426: The existence of the plume is doubted by Sir Henry
    Dryden, and he is so accurate that he probably is right; but as
    others say they have seen it, and nothing depends upon it, I have
    allowed it to remain.]

    [Footnote 427: It was in a very ruinous state when I saw it five
    years ago; and there is an ominous silence regarding it among
    subsequent tourists. The measurements here quoted are from Richard,
    'France monumentale.']

    [Footnote 428: The plan here given is reduced from one by Sir Henry
    Dryden, and may be perfectly depended upon as far as the smallness
    of the scale will allow.]

    [Footnote 429: Sir Henry drew all these sculptures first on
    the spot, and afterwards corrected his drawings from the casts
    at St.-Germain. They are the only drawings existing which can
    thoroughly be depended upon.]

    [Footnote 430: A plan of the first-named alignment was published
    by Freminville, 'Finistère,' part ii. pl. i., but the above
    particulars and the woodcut are taken from a diagram by Sir Henry
    Dryden in the last number of the 'Journal of the Anthrop. Inst.' He
    has perfect plans of the whole.]

    [Footnote 431: 'Revue archéologique,' new series, ix. pp.
    81 _et seq._ I may mention that almost every other name in
    their neighbourhood ends in _ac_. See 'Joanne Atlas,' dép.

    [Footnote 432: Delpon, 'Statistique du Dép. du Lot,' i. 384.]

    [Footnote 433: "C'est en 465 que Vannes reçut pour premier évêque
    l'Armoricain St. Patern, qui mourut peu d'années après chez les
    Francs, où les Goths l'avoient forcé de se réfugier. Modestus en
    511 mit tout en œuvre pour repandre le Christianisme parmi
    les Pagani de son diocèse, mais son zèle ne fut pas recompensé,
    car plus de trente ans après la mort de Patern les habitans de
    la Vénétie étoient encore presque tous païens. 'Erant enim tunc
    temporis Venetenses pene omnes Gentiles.'--_Ap. Boll._ 'Vita St.
    Melan.' vi. Jan. p. 311."--_Courzon_, 'Chartulaire de l'Abbaye de
    Redon,' cxliii.]

    [Footnote 434: The authority for these events will be found at
    length in Gibbon, chap. xviii., and are too familiar to need
    quoting here.]

    [Footnote 435: Daru's 'Histoire de la Bretagne,' vol. i. p. 58.]

    [Footnote 436: _Ibid._ p. 112.]

    [Footnote 437: Dom. Bouquet, 'Recueil des Hist. des Gaules,' i.
    p. 629. "Exuperantius anno circa 416 Armoricos qui a Romanis
    defecerunt ad officium reducere tentavit."]

    [Footnote 438: Daru, i. p. 112.]

    [Footnote 439: "Gradlonus gratia dei rex Britonum necnon ex
    parte Francorum."--_Chartulaire de Landevenec_; quoted by P.
    Lobineau, ii. 17. And further: "'Pervenit Sancti (Wingaboei)
    fama ad Grallonum regem Occiduorum Cornubiensium, gloriosum
    ultorem Normannorum qui post devictas gentes inimicas sibi
    duces subduxerat.'--_Gurdestan, Moine de Landevenec_, 'Vie de
    St.-Wingabois.'"--_Daru_, i. p. 69.]

    [Footnote 440: The information in this table must be received with
    great limitation. In the first place, What is a dolmen? Do the
    alignments at Carnac count as two, as seven, or as 700? Many also
    are mere estimates of local antiquaries. It is, for instance, very
    doubtful if Finistère contains more monuments than the Morbihan;
    and subsequent information may introduce great modifications into
    many of the numbers.

    The value of the _ac_ distinction does not come out clearly: first,
    because of the imperfect mode in which it has been obtained, but
    more because it does not make it clear that there are in France
    twenty-nine departments in which there are no dolmens, and no
    _ac_-terminations; in fact, the negative evidence which does not
    appear here is stronger than the positive.]



It would not be easy to find a more apt illustration of the difficulty
and danger of writing such a book as this than the history of how
we acquired our knowledge of Spanish dolmens. When Ford published
his interesting and exhaustive 'Handbook of Spain,' in 1845, he had
travelled over the length and breadth of the land, and knew its
literature intimately, but he did not know that there was a single
"Druidical remain" in the country. The first intimation of their
existence was in a pamphlet by Don Rafael Mitjana,[441] containing
the description of one at Antequera; and since then Don Gongora ý
Martinez[442] has published a work containing views and descriptions of
thirteen or fourteen important monuments of this class in Andalusia and
the south of Spain; and from other sources I know the names of at least
an equal number in the Asturias and the north of Spain.[443] Had this
work consequently been written only a very few years ago, a description
of the dolmen at Antequera must have begun and ended the chapter. As
it now is, we not only know that dolmens are numerous in Spain, but
we have a distinct idea of their distribution, which may lead to most
important historical results.

With regard to Portugal, the case is even more striking. Kinsey, in his
'Portugal Illustrated,' in 1829, gave a drawing of a "Druid's altar"
at Arroyolos, and it was mentioned also by Borrow,[444] but there our
information stopped, till the meeting of the International Prehistoric
Congress at Paris in 1867, when S. Pereira da Costa described by name
thirty-nine dolmens as still existing in Portugal. He also mentioned
that as long ago as 1734 a memoir had been presented to the Portuguese
Academy enumerating 314 as then to be met with; and though this is
doubtful, it seems that they were at one time very numerous, and many,
no doubt, still exist which have escaped S. da Costa's enquiries.
Neither he nor any one else appears to have visited Cape Cuneus, the
most southern point of Portugal, where, if we read Strabo aright,
dolmens certainly existed in his day;[445] and if they do so now, it
would be a point gained in our investigation.

At present, according to S. da Costa, there are twenty-one dolmens in
Alentejo, two in Estramadura, nine in Beira, four in Tras os Montes,
and three in Minho. According to my information, they are numerous in
Gallicia, but have never been described. Three at least are known by
name in Santander, and as many in the Asturias. One at least is known
in Biscay, and two in Vitoria; one in Navarre, and one in Catalonia.
But I am assured that all along the roots of the mountains they are
frequent, though no one has yet described or drawn them.[446] So far as
is known, there are none in the Castiles, in the centre of Spain, and
only that group above alluded to in Andalusia, where probably, instead
of a dozen, it may turn out that there are twice or thrice that number.

Assuming this distribution of the Spanish dolmens to be correct--and
I see no reason for doubting that it is so, in the main features at
least--it is so remarkable that it affords a good opportunity for
testing one of the principal theories put forward with regard to the
migrations of the dolmen-building people. According to the theory of M.
Bertrand, the dolmen people, after passing down the Baltic and leaving
their monuments there, migrated to the British islands, and after a
sojourn of some time again took to their ships and landed in France and
Spain, to pass thence into Africa and disappear.[447] This seems so
strange, that it is fortunate we have another hypothesis which assumes
the probability of an indigenous population driven first to the hills
and then into the ocean by the advancing tide of modern civilization.

The first hypothesis involves the assumption that the dolmen people
possessed a navy capable of transplanting them and their families from
shore to shore, and that they had a sufficient knowledge of geography
to know exactly whither to go, but at the same time possessed with
such a spirit of wandering that so soon as they settled for a certain
time in a given place, and buried a certain number of their chiefs,
they immediately set out again on their travels. According to this
view, they were so weak that they fled the moment when the original
possessors of the land rose against them, though, strange to say, they
had in the first instance been able to dispossess them. What is still
more unlikely is that they should have possessed the organization to
keep together, and to introduce everywhere their own arts and their
own customs, but that, when they departed, they should have left
nothing but their tombs behind. This hypothesis involves in fact so
many difficulties and so many improbabilities that I do not think that
either M. Bertrand or the Baron de Bonstetten would now, that our
knowledge is so much increased, adhere to it. I at least cannot see
on what grounds it can be maintained. It is so diametrically opposed
to all we know of ancient migrations. They seem always--in so far as
Europe is concerned--to have followed the course of the sun from east
to west; and the idea that a people, after having peopled Britain,
should have started again to land on the rugged coasts of the Asturias
or in Portugal, and not have been able to penetrate into the interior,
is so very unlikely that it would require very strong and direct
testimony to make it credible, while it need hardly be said no such
evidence is forthcoming.

The hypothesis which seems to account much more satisfactorily for
the facts as we know them assumes that an ancestral worshipping
people inhabited the Spanish peninsula from remote prehistoric times.
If so, they certainly occupied the pastoral plains of Castile and
the fertile regions of Valencia and Andalusia, as well as the bleak
hills of Gallicia and the Asturias. Whether we call them Iberians, or
Celtiberians, or, to use a more general term, Turanians, they were
a dead-reverencing, ancestral worshipping people, but had not in
prehistoric times learnt to use stone for the adornment of their tombs.

The first people, so far as we know, who disturbed the Iberians in
their possessions were the Carthaginians. They occupied the sea coast
at least of Murcia and Valencia, and if, according to their custom,
they sought to reduce the natives to slavery, they probably frightened
multitudes from the coast into the interior, but there is no proof that
they ever made any extensive settlements in the centre of the country,
nor on its west or north coast. It was different with the Romans: with
them the genius of conquest was strong; they longed to annex all Spain
to their dominions, and no doubt drove all those who were impatient
of their yoke into the remote districts of Portugal and the rugged
fastnesses of the Asturias and the northern mountains. It is also
probable that many, to avoid their oppressions, sought refuge beyond
the sea; but the great migrations are probably due to the intolerance
of the early Christian missionaries. It thus seems that it was to avoid
Carthaginian rapacity, Roman tyranny, and Christian intolerance, that
the unfortunate aborigines were forced first into the fastnesses of the
hills, and thence driven literally into the sea, to seek refuge from
their oppressors in the islands of the ocean.[448]

Such an hypothesis seems perfectly consonant with all the facts as we
now know them, and it also accounts for the absence of dolmens in the
centre of Spain; for if this is correct, these migrations took place
in the pre-dolmen period, and just as we find the Bryts beginning to
use stones after having been driven from the fertile plains of the east
into the fastnesses of Cumberland and Wales, so we find the Spaniards
first adopting rude-stone monuments after having been driven into
Portugal and the Asturias.

The one point which this theory does not seem to account for is the
presence of dolmens in Andalusia. They however are, if I am not
mistaken, an outlying branch of the great African dolmen field, and
belong to the same age as these do, of which we shall be better able
to judge presently. That there was a close or intimate connection
from very early times between the south coast of Spain and the north
of Africa hardly admits of a doubt. The facility with which the Moors
occupied it in the seventh century, and the permanence of their
dominion for so many centuries, is in itself sufficient to prove that
a people of the same race had been established there before them, and
that they were not a foreign race holding the natives in subjection,
but dwelling among their own kith and kin.

It seems in vain to look among the written annals, either of Spain
or Ireland, for a rational account of these events. Both countries
acknowledge to the fullest extent that the migration did take place;
and the Spanish race of Heremon is one of the most illustrious of
those of Ireland, and fills a large page in its history. So, too, the
Spanish annalists fill volumes with the successful expeditions of
their countrymen to the Green Island.[449] The mania, however, of the
annalists of both countries for carrying everything back to the Flood,
and the sons and daughters of Noah, so vitiates everything they say,
that beyond the fact, which seems undoubted that such migration did
occur no reliance can be placed on their accounts of these transactions.

One only paragraph that I know of seems to have escaped perversion. In
his second chapter of his fourth book, D. O'Campo states:--"Certain
natives of Spain called Siloros (the Siluri), a Biscayan tribe, joined
with another, named Brigantes, migrated to Britain about 261 years
before our era, and obtained possession of a territory there on which
they settled."[450] This is so consonant with what we know of the
settlement of the Silures on the banks of the Severn that there seems
no good reason for doubting its correctness. It is more doubtful,
however, whether any Spanish colonies reached Ireland at so early an
age. Even allowing for the existence in the north-east of Ireland of
the realm of Emania, the only kingdom in Ireland of which we have any
authentic annals before the Christian era, there was plenty of room
for the contemporary existence of the race of Heremon in the south and
west. Tara did not then exist, and, in fact, according to the annals
of the 'Four Masters,' was founded by Heremon himself, and took its
first name, Teamair, from Tea, his wife, who selected this spot. All
this is perfectly consistent with what we know of the history of the
place. The earliest monument at Tara is the Rath of Cormac[451] (218
A.D., or probably fifty years later). Though therefore chosen
by Heremon as a sacred or desirable spot for residence, there is no
proof that his race ever occupied it; and in the two centuries that
elapsed from his advent to the time of Cormac his race had passed away
from Meath at least, and was only to be found in the south and west of
Ireland. The one reminiscence of the Milesian race that remained at
Tara, in historical times, is the Lia Fail, or Stone of Destiny, which
these "veneratores lapidum" are said to have brought with them from
Spain, but which, with all due deference to Petrie, is not the obelisk
still standing there,[452] but may be the stone now in Westminster
Abbey. The Spanish colonists seem principally to have occupied the
country about Wexford and Galway,[453] and to these places, especially
the latter, a continual stream of immigration appears to have flowed
from the first century of our era down to the time of Elizabeth. No
one can travel in these counties without remarking the presence of a
dark-haired, dark-eyed race that prevails everywhere; but, strange to
say, the darkest-complexioned people in the west are those who still
linger among the long-neglected dolmens of Glen Malim More.

According to the annals of the 'Four Masters,' Heremon landed in
Ireland fifty years after the death of the great Dagdha. The Irish
historians say that the country was then ruled by three princesses,
wives of the grandsons of the Dagdha, and add that the event took
place 1002 years after Forann (Pharaoh) had been drowned in the Red
Sea.[454] If that event took place in 1312, as I believe it did,[455]
this would fix their advent in 310 B.C., which, though less
extravagant than the chronology of the 'Four Masters, is still, I
believe, at least three centuries too early. All this may not be--is
not in fact--capable of absolute proof; but it has at least the merit
that it pieces together satisfactorily all we know of the history and
ethnography of these races, and explains in a reasonable manner all the
architectural forms which we meet with. It is hardly fair to expect
more from the annals of a rude people who could not write, and whose
history has never been carefully investigated in modern times. It is
too early yet to say so, but the fact is, that it is these rude-stone
monuments which alone can reveal the secrets of their long forgotten
past. As they have hitherto been treated, they have only added mystery
to obscurity. But the time is not far off when this will be altered,
and we may learn from a comparison of the Irish with Spanish dolmens,
not only what truth there is in the migrations of Heremon, but also at
what time these Spanish tribes first settled as colonists in the Irish


[Illustration: 155. View of the Interior of Dolmen at Antequera. From

The finest dolmen known to exist in Spain is that of Antequera, above
alluded to; it will, indeed, bear comparison with the best in France
or any other country in Europe. The chamber is of a somewhat oval
shape, and measures internally about 80 feet from the entrance to the
front of the stone closing the rear. Its greatest width is 20 feet 6
inches, and its height varies between 9 and 10 feet.[456] The whole is
composed of thirty-one stones: ten on each side form the walls; one
closes the end; five are roofing, and three pillars support the last
at their junction. The stone forming the roof of the cell or innermost
part measures 25 feet by 21 feet, and is of considerable thickness. All
the stones comprising this monument are more or less shaped by art--at
least to the extent to which those at Stonehenge can be said to be
so; while the three pillars in the centre, which seem to be part of
the original structure, are certainly hewn. The whole was originally
covered with a mound about 100 feet in diameter, and is still partially
at least so buried. Its entrance is, however, and probably always was,
flush with the edge of the mound, and open and accessible, and it is
consequently not to be wondered at if nothing was found inside to
indicate its age or use.

[Illustration: 156. Plan of Dolmen called Cueva de Menga, near

If we might assume--there is no proof--that the mound at Antequera was
originally surrounded by a circle of stones like those at Lough Crew
(woodcut No. 72), we should have a monument whose plan and dimensions
were the same as those of Stonehenge, and, _mutatis mutandis_, the two
would be, as nearly as may be, identical. There is the same circle
of stone or earth 100 feet in diameter, and the same elliptical
choir 80 feet in length, assuming that of Stonehenge to be extended
to the outer circle. Antequera is, in fact, a roofed and covered-up
Stonehenge, Stonehenge a free-standing Antequera. If both were situated
in Wiltshire or in Andalusia, I should unhesitatingly declare for
Antequera being the older. Men do what is useful before they indulge
in what is merely fanciful. The two, in fact, bear exactly the same
relation to one another that Callernish does to New Grange; but when so
widely separated geographically as the former two are, and belonging to
two different races, it is difficult to say which may be the older. All
we can feel sure of is that both belong to the same system, and that
they are not far removed from each other in date. We must, however,
know more than we do of the local history of Spanish dolmens before we
can feel sure that Antequera may not be even considerably more modern
than Stonehenge.

[Illustration: 157. Dolmen del Tio Cogolleros. From Gongora.]

None of the other dolmens in Andalusia approach Antequera in
magnificence, though they all seem to bear a similar character, and in
appearance belong to the same age. The supporting stones seem to be all
more or less shaped by art, and fitted to some extent to one another.
The cap-stone is generally left in its natural state, largeness being
the feature that the builders always aimed at. These peculiarities are
well exhibited in the dolmen called de la Cruz del Tio Cogolleros,
in the parish of Fonelas, near Guadix. Here the cap-stone measures
nearly 12 feet each way, and covers what was intended to be a nearly
square chamber; one side, as at Kit's Cotty House, being left open;
consequently it could hardly ever have been intended to be covered with
a mound. Indeed, so far as we can gather from Don Gongora's drawings,
none of those which he illustrates were ever so buried, nor does it
appear that it was originally the intention ever to cover them with
earth. Another monument, called only Sepultura Grande, in the parish
of Gor, in the same neighbourhood, is interesting from its resemblance
to the Swedish sepulchre illustrated in woodcut No. 108, and to the
Countless Stones at Aylesford. Its cap-stone is 12 feet by 8 feet, and
the side-stones fall away to a point in front. It evidently never was
intended to be further roofed, nor to be buried in a mound, and, so far
as can be judged from its appearance, is of comparatively modern date.

The most interesting of Don Gongora's plates is one representing
a dolmen near Dilar. This, if the drawing is to be depended upon,
consists of a monolithic chamber, hollowed out of a stone of
considerable dimensions, and hewn so as almost to look like an Egyptian
cell. It is surrounded by twelve or fourteen rude-stone pillars,
apparently 3 feet in height, and like those of Callernish in shape.
In the distance are seen two other circles of rude stones, but with
nothing in their centre. If I understand Don Gongora rightly, these
monuments are now very much ruined, if not entirely destroyed, and it
is not clear how far the drawings are actual sketches or restorations.
They may be correct, but without further confirmation it would hardly
be safe to found any argument upon them.

[Illustration: 158. Sepultura Grande. From Gongora.]

       *       *       *       *       *

So little is known--or at least so little has been published--regarding
the dolmens of the north of Spain that it is very difficult and very
unsafe to attempt any generalisation regarding them. There are three,
however, which do seem to throw some light on our enquiries. The first
is at Eguilar, in the district of Vitoria, on the road between that
city and Pampeluna. It is of a horse-shoe form, like the Countless
Stones at Aylesford, and measures 13 feet by 10 feet internally.
Originally it was roofed by a single stone, measuring 19 feet by 15
feet, but which is now, unfortunately, broken. The side-stones and roof
are closely fitted to one another, showing that it was always intended
to be, and, in fact, is now, partially covered by a mound of earth.

[Illustration: 159. Plan of Dolmen at Eguilar.]

At Cangas de Onis, in the Asturias, about forty miles east from Oviedo,
there is a small church built on a mound which contains in it a dolmen
of rather unusual shape. Its inner end is circular in plan, from which
proceeds a funnel-shaped nave, formed of three stones on each side,
and with a doorway formed by two large stones at right angles to its
direction. On the top of the mound a church was built, probably in
the tenth or eleventh century,[457] to which this dolmen served as a
crypt. From this it seems to be a fair inference that, when the church
was built on the mound, the dolmen was still a sacred edifice of the
aborigines. Had the Christians merely wanted a foundation for their
building, they would have filled up or destroyed the pagan edifice, but
it seems to have remained open to the present day; and though it has
long ceased to be used for any sacred purpose, it still is, and always
was, an essential part of the church which it supported.

[Illustration: 160. Plan of Dolmen at Cangas de Onis.]

[Illustration: 161. Dolmen of San Miguel, at Arrichinaga.]

A still more remarkable instance of the same kind is to be found at
a place called Arrichinaga, about twenty-five miles from Bilboa, in
the province of Biscay. In the hermitage of St. Michael, at this
place, a dolmen of very considerable dimensions is enclosed within
the walls of what seems to be a new modern church. It may, however,
be the successor of one more ancient; but the fact of these great
stones being adopted by the Christians at all shows that they must have
been considered sacred and objects of worship by the natives at the
time when the Christians enclosed them in their edifice. If the facts
are as represented in the woodcut,[458] we can now easily understand
why the councils of Toledo, in 681 and 692, fulminated their decrees
against the "veneratores lapidum;"[459] and why also the more astute
provincial priesthood followed the advice that Pope Gregory gave to
Abbot Millitus, and by means of a little holy water and an image of
San Miguel turned the sacred stones of the pagans into a temple of the
true God. It is difficult to say when Christianity penetrated into
the Asturias--not, probably, before the time of Pelayo (A.D.
720); but even this would be too early for such churches as those of
Cangas de Onis and Arrichinaga. They, in fact, seem to carry down the
veneration for big stones to almost as late a date as the age indicated
by the dolmen at Confolens (woodcut No. 123), and bring the probable
erection of some of them at least, if not of all, within the historic


[Illustration: 162. Dolmen at Arroyolos. From Kinsey.]

Only one drawing of a dolmen in Portugal has as yet, so far as I know,
been published. It is situated on a bleak heath-land at Arroyolos, not
far from Evora. Mr. Borrow describes it as one of the most perfect and
beautiful of its kind he had ever seen. "It was circular, and consisted
of stones immensely large and heavy at the bottom, which towards
the top became thinner, having been fashioned by the hand of art to
something like the shape of scallop-shells. These were surmounted by
a very large flat stone, which slanted down towards the south, where
was a door. Three or four individuals might have taken shelter within
the interior, in which was growing a small thorn-tree."[460] Neither
he nor Kinsey condescend to dimensions, and S. da Costa merely remarks
that the dolmens which he has seen at Castello da Vide are of a similar
construction to this one at Arroyolos.[461]

This, it must be confessed, is but a meagre and imperfect outline of
one of the most important dolmen-fields in Europe, but it is probably
sufficient to indicate its importance and its bearing on the history
of megalithic remains in general. When filled up, it promises to throw
a flood of light on the subject in general, not only from being one of
the connecting links serving to join the African dolmen-field to that
of Europe, but more especially from the assistance it seems to afford
us in understanding the hitherto mysterious connection of the Irish
Milesians with Spain. If the dolmens on the north and west coasts of
the Spanish peninsula were carefully examined and compared with those
in Ireland, their similarity would probably suffice to prove their
affinity, and to establish on a broad basis of fact what has hitherto
been left to the wild imaginings of patriotic annalists, more anxious
for the fabled antiquity of their race than for the prosaic results of
truthful investigations.

From such knowledge as we at present possess, I see no reason for
supposing that any of the Spanish dolmens are as old as the Christian
era; and the facts connected with the two at Cangas de Onis and
Arrichinaga seem to prove that they were "venerated" as late at least
as the eighth, it may be the tenth, century, and, if venerated, there
is no reason why they should not also have been erected at that late


Although the experience we have just acquired with reference to dolmens
in Spain ought to make any one cautious as to making assertions
regarding those in Italy, still it probably is safe to assert that,
with the exception of one group at Saturnia, there are no dolmens in
that country. In many respects Italy is very differently situated from
Spain. Her own learned societies and antiquaries have for centuries
been occupied with her antiquities, and foreign tourists have traversed
the length and breadth of the land, and could hardly have failed to
remark anything that called to their recollection the Druids or Dragons
of their own native lands. As nothing, however, of the sort has been
recorded, we may feel tolerable confidence that no important specimens
exist; though at the roots of the hills and in remote corners there can
be little doubt that waifs and strays of wandering races will reward
the careful searcher for such objects. One, for instance, is known to
exist near Sesto Calende, in Lombardy. It is a circle of small stones,
some 30 feet in diameter, with an avenue 50 feet in length touching
it tangentially on one side, and with a small semicircle of stones 20
feet wide a few yards farther off.[462] The whole looks like the small
alignments on Dartmoor, and if several were found and the traditions of
the country were carefully sifted, this might lead to some light being
thrown on the subject. At present it is hardly much bigger or more
interesting than a sheep-fold.

The Saturnia group is thus described by Mr. Dennis:--"They are very
numerous, consisting generally of a quadrangular chamber sunk a few
feet below the surface, lined with rough slabs of rock set upright,
one on each side, and roofed over with two large slabs resting against
each other, so as to form a penthouse, or else a single one of enormous
size, covering the whole, and laid with a slight slope, apparently for
the purpose of carrying off the rain. Not a chisel has touched these
rugged masses, about 16 feet square to half that size; some divided,
like that shown in the annexed woodcut, into two chambers over 18 feet
across. To most of them a passage leads, 10 or 12 feet long and 3 feet
wide. All are sunk a little below the surface, because each had a
tumulus of earth piled around it, so as to cover all but the cap stone."

One tumulus was observed with a circle of small stones set round it,
and Mr. Dennis suggests "that all may have been so encircled, but that
the small stones would be easily removed by the peasantry." "Nothing,"
he adds, "at all like them is seen in any other part of Etruria."[463]
Saturnia is situated twenty miles from the sea, and if it is true that
nothing of the sort is found elsewhere in Italy, these dolmens must
be looked upon as exceptional--the remains of some stray colony of
dolmen-builders, the memory of which has passed away, and may probably
now be lost for ever.

[Illustration: 163. Dolmen at Saturnia. From Dennis' 'Etruria.']

If this is a correct representation of what took place in Italy,
the conclusion seems inevitable that the chambered tumuli of that
country--all of which are erected with hewn stones--did not grow out
of rude-stone monuments. In no country in Europe are the tumuli so
numerous or so important as in Etruria, and, as before mentioned, they
certainly extend back to an era twelve or thirteen centuries before
Christ. But if the dolmens of France or Scandinavia are prehistoric,
or, in other words, extend back to anything like a thousand or fifteen
hundred years before Christ, there is no reason whatever why dolmens
should not be found also in Italy, if they ever existed there. Either
it must be that Italy never possessed any or that those in the rest of
Europe are very much more modern. If the northern dolmens are only one
thousand to two thousand years old, the matter is easily explained. If
they are three thousand or four thousand years old, they ought also to
be found in Italy.

The fact seems to be that both the Pelasgi of Greece and the Tyrrheni
of Italy came in contact either with Egypt or some early stone-hewing
people before they left their homes in the East to migrate into Europe,
and that they never passed through the rude-stone stage of architecture
at any period, or at any place with which we are acquainted; and as
they were, so far as we know, the earliest colonists of the countries
they afterwards occupied, it seems in vain to look for dolmens where
they settled. If Attila had lived five centuries before instead
of after the Christian era, he and his Huns might have produced a
rude-stone age in Italy. The inhabitants of Etruria were essentially a
burying, dead-reverencing people, and if they had only been thrown back
to that stage of barbarism which the rude monuments of our forefathers
represent, we might have found dolmens there in thousands. The fate
of Italy was different. Pressed by the Celts of Gallia Cisalpina
in the north and by the Romans in the south, Etruria was squeezed
out of existence, but by two races more civilized and progressive
than herself. So far from throwing her back towards barbarism, Rome
in adopting many of her forms advanced and improved upon them, and
imparted to her architecture a higher and more intellectual form than
she had been herself able to impress upon it. So, too, in Greece. The
Dorian superseded and extinguished the Pelasgic forms, but after a
longer interval of time. Four or five centuries elapsed between the
last tomb we know of, at Mycenæ, and the earliest Doric temple at
Corinth, and the consequence is that we see far fewer traces of the
earlier people in the architecture of Greece than we do in that of
Rome. But in neither instance was there any tendency to retrograde to a
dolmen stage of civilization.

The case was widely different with such countries as Spain or France.
There an aboriginal population had existed for thousands and tens of
thousands of years, unprogressive and incapable, so far as we know, of
progress within themselves, and only at last slowly and reluctantly
forced by Roman example to adopt a more ambitious mode of sepulture
than a mere mound of earth. No semi-civilized race ever settled in
their lands, and the Carthaginians at Carthagena or Marseilles hardly
penetrated into the interior, and were besides neither a building nor
burying race, and had, consequently, very little influence on their
modes of sepulture.

With Rome the case was different. She conquered and administered for
centuries all those countries in which we find the earliest traces
of rude-stone monuments, and she could hardly fail to leave some
impress of her magnificence in lands which she had so long occupied.
But when she withdrew her protecting care, France, Spain, and Britain
relapsed into, and for centuries remained sunk in, a state of anarchy
and barbarism as bad, if not worse than, that in which Rome had found
them three or four centuries before. It was in vain to expect that the
hapless natives could maintain either the arts or the institutions
with which Rome had endowed them. But it is natural to suppose that
they would remember the evidences of her greatness and her power, and
would hardly go back for their sepulchres to the unchambered mole-hill
barrows of their forefathers, but attempt something in stone, though
only in such rude fashion as the state of the arts among them enabled
them to execute.

    [Footnote 441: 'Memoria sobre el Tempio Druida de Antequera,'
    Malaga, 1847.]

    [Footnote 442: 'Antegüedades prehistoricos de Andalucia,' Madrid,

    [Footnote 443: For a great part of the information regarding them,
    I am indebted to my friend Don J. F. Riaño, of Madrid.]

    [Footnote 444: 'Bible in Spain,' ii. p. 35.]

    [Footnote 445: Strabo, iii. p. 138.]

    [Footnote 446: There is an interesting paper by Lord Talbot de
    Malahide on this subject in the 'Archæological Journal,' 108, 1870,
    illustrated by drawings of hitherto unknown dolmens, by Sir Vincent

    [Footnote 447: 'Revue archéologique,' new series, viii. p. 530.]

    [Footnote 448: "In the year B.C. 218, the second and
    fiercest struggle between the rival republics of Carthage and Rome
    was commenced by Hannibal taking Seguntum. The Peninsula thereafter
    became the theatre of a war afterwards carried by Hannibal into
    Italy, which was not concluded till 202 B.C., when Spain
    was added to the growing Italian Republic. But the nation of Spain
    did not willingly bow to the yoke. One of the bloodiest of all
    the Roman wars commenced in Spain in 153, and did not finally
    terminate for twenty years, during which cities were razed to the
    ground, multitudes massacred and made slaves, and the triumphant
    arms of Rome borne to the Atlantic shores. Here, therefore, is
    an epoch in the history of the Spanish peninsula which seems
    completely to coincide with the ancient traditions of the Scoti,
    and the knowledge we possess of the period of their arrival in
    Ireland."--_Dan Wilson_, 'Prehistoric Annals of Scotland,' p. 475.]

    [Footnote 449: See a paper on the migration from Spain to Ireland,
    by Dr. Madden, 'Proceedings of Royal Irish Academy,' viii. pp. 372
    _et seq._]

    [Footnote 450: Madden, _l. s. c._ p. 377.]

    [Footnote 451: _Ante_, p. 193.]

    [Footnote 452: Petrie, "Essay on Tara," 'Trans. R. S. A.' xviii.]

    [Footnote 453: "The two provinces which the race of Heremon
    possessed were the province of Gailian (_i.e._ Leinster) and the
    province of Olnemacht (_i.e._ Connaught)."--_Petrie_, 'Round
    Towers,' p. 100.]

    [Footnote 454: Reeves, translation of Nennius, p. 55.]

    [Footnote 455: 'True Principles of Beauty in Art,' by the Author,
    appendix, 526.]

    [Footnote 456: These dimensions are taken from Mitjana's book,
    merely turned into their equivalents in English feet. They do
    not, however, agree in scale with the plan, but are probably
    approximately correct.]

    [Footnote 457: There is a view of the mound and church in
    Parcerisa, 'Recuerdos y Bellezas de España, Asturias y Leon,' p.
    30, but too small to enable us to be able to form any idea of its
    age from the lithograph.]

    [Footnote 458: The woodcut is copied from one in Frank Leslie's
    'Illustrated News;' which is itself, taken from a French
    illustrated journal. I do not doubt that the American copy is a
    correct reproduction of the French original; but there may be
    exaggerations in the first. I see no reason, however, for doubting
    that the great stones do exist in the hermitage, and that they are
    parts, at least, of a dolmen---and this is all that concerns the
    argument. I wish, however, we had some more reliable information on
    the subject.]

    [Footnote 459: Vide _ante_, p. 24.]

    [Footnote 460: Borrow, 'Bible in Spain,' ii. p. 35.]

    [Footnote 461: 'Congrès international préhistorique,' Paris volume,
    p. 182.]

    [Footnote 462: 'Congrès international préhistorique,' Paris volume,
    p. 197.]

    [Footnote 463: 'Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria,' ii. p. 314.]



It would be difficult to find a more curious illustration of the fable
of "Eyes and no Eyes" than in the history of the discovery of dolmens
in northern Africa. Though hundreds of travellers had passed through
the country since the time of Bruce and Shaw, and though the French
had possessed Algiers since 1830, an author writing on the subject ten
years ago would have been fully justified in making the assertion that
there were no dolmens there. Yet now we know that they exist literally
in thousands. Perhaps it would not be an exaggeration to say that ten
thousand are known, and their existence recorded.

The first to announce the fact to the literary world in Europe was
the late Mr. Rhind. He read a paper on what he called "Ortholithic
remains in North Africa," to the Society of Antiquaries in 1859, which
was afterwards published in volume xxxviii. of the 'Archæologia.' It
attracted, however, very little attention, perhaps in consequence of
its name, but more from its not being illustrated. It was not really
till 1863, when the late Henry Christy visited Algeria, that anything
really became known. At Constantine he formed the acquaintance of a M.
Féraud, interpreter to the army of Algeria, who took him to a place
called Bou Moursug, about twenty-five miles south of Constantine,
where, during a short stay of three days, they saw and noted down
upwards of one thousand dolmens.[464] M. Féraud afterwards published
an account of these in the 'Mémoires de la Société archéologique
de Constantine' for 1863, and the subject having attracted some
attention in Europe, a second memoir appeared in the following year,
which contained a good deal of additional information collected from
different district officers. Since then various memoirs have been
published in Algeria and France. One by the now celebrated General
Faidherbe "speaks of three thousand tombs in the single necropolis
at Roknia, and of another equally extensive within a few leagues of
Constantine."[465] An excellent _résumé_ of the whole subject will be
found in the Norwich volume of the International Prehistoric Congress,
by Mr. Flower. From all these we gather a fair general idea of the
subject, but, unfortunately, none of the memoirs are written by persons
combining extensive local experience with real archæological knowledge,
except, perhaps, Mr. Flower. No plan of any one group has yet been
given to the world, nor are any of the monuments illustrated with such
details and measurements as would enable one to speak with certainty
regarding them. This is especially the case with those represented
in the 'Exploration scientifique de l'Algérie,' published by the
French Government. There are in this work numerous representations of
dolmens carefully and beautifully drawn, but very seldom with scales
attached to them; and as no text has yet been published, they are
of comparatively little value for the purposes of research. Had Mr.
Christy lived a little longer, these deficiencies would doubtless have
been supplied; but, unfortunately, his mantle has not fallen on any
worthy successor, and we must wait till some one appears who combines
leisure and means with the knowledge and enthusiasm which characterized
that noble-minded man.

It need hardly be added that no detailed map exists showing the
distribution of the dolmens in Algeria,[466] and as many of the names
by which they are known to French archæologists are those of villages
not marked on any maps obtainable in this country, it is very difficult
to trace their precise position, and almost always impossible to draw
with certainty any inferences from their distribution. In so far as
we at present know, the principal dolmen region is situated along and
on either side of a line drawn from Bona on the coast to Batna, sixty
miles south of Constantine. But around Setif, and in localities nearly
due south from Boujie, they are said to be in enormous numbers. The
Commandant Payen reports the number of menhirs there as not less than
ten thousand, averaging from 4 to 5 feet in height. One colossal
monolith he describes as 26 feet in diameter at its base and 52 feet
high.[467] This, however, is surpassed by a dolmen situated near
Tiaret, described by the Commandant Bernard. According to his account
the cap-stone is 65 feet long by 26 feet broad, and 9 feet 6 inches
thick; and this enormous mass is placed on other rocks which rise
between 30 and 40 feet above the surface.[468] If this is true, it is
the most enormous dolmen known, and it is strange that it should have
escaped observation so long. Even the most apathetic traveller might
have been astonished at such a wonder. Whether less gigantic specimens
of the class exist in that neighbourhood, we are not told, but they do
in detached patches everywhere eastward throughout the province. Those
described by Mr. Rhind are only twelve miles from Algiers, and others
are said to exist in great numbers in the regency of Tripoli.[469] So
far as is at present known, they are not found in Morocco, but are
found everywhere between Mount Atlas and the Syrtes, and apparently not
near the sites of any great cities, or known centres of population,
but in valleys and remote corners, as if belonging to a nomadic or
agricultural population.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: 164. Bazina. From Flower's Paper.]

When we speak of the ten thousand or, it may be, twenty thousand stone
sepulchral monuments that are now known to exist in northern Africa,
it must not be understood that they are all dolmens or circles of
the class of which we have hitherto been speaking. Two other classes
certainly exist, in some places, apparently, in considerable numbers,
though it is difficult to make out in what proportion, and how far
their forms are local. One of these classes, called Bazina by the
Arabs, is thus described by Mr. Flower:--"Their general character is
that of three concentric enclosures of stones of greater or less
dimensions, so arranged as to form a series of steps. Sometimes,
indeed, there are only two outer circles, and occasionally only one.
The diameter of the larger axis of that here represented is about 30
feet. In the centre are usually found three long and slender upright
stones, forming three sides of a long rectangle, and the interior is
paved with pebbles and broken stones.

[Illustration: 165. Choucha. From a drawing by Mr. Flower.]

"The Chouchas are found in the neighbourhood of the Bazinas, and are
closely allied to them. They consist of courses of stones regularly
built up like a wall, and not in steps like the Bazinas. Their diameter
varies from 7 to as much as 40 feet; but the height of the highest
above the soil does not exceed 5 to 10 feet. They are usually capped
and covered by a large flag-stone, about 4 inches thick, under which
is a regular trough or pit formed of stones from a foot and a half
to 3 feet in thickness. The interior of these little towers is paved
like the Bazinas; and indeed M. Payen considers that they are the
equivalents in the mountains of the Bazinas in the plains."[470]

[Illustration: 166. Dolmen on Steps. From 'Exploration scientifique de

In many instances the chouchas and bazinas are found combined in one
monument, and sometimes a regular dolmen is mounted on steps similar
to those of a bazina, as shown in the annexed woodcut, representing
one existing halfway between Constantine and Bona. But, in fact,
there is no conceivable combination which does not seem to be found in
these African cemeteries; and did we know them all, they might throw
considerable light on some questions that are now very perplexing.

The chouchas are found sometimes isolated, and occasionally 10 to
12 feet apart from one another in groups. In certain localities the
summits and ridges of the hills are covered with them, while on the
edges of steep cliffs they form fringes overhanging the ravines.

In both these classes of monuments the bodies are almost always found
in a doubled-up posture, the knees being brought up to the chin, and
the arms crossed over the breast,[471] like those in the Axevalla tomb
described above (page 312).

[Illustration: 167. Tumuli, with Intermediate Lines of Stones.]

[Illustration: 168. Group of Sepulchral Monuments, Algeria.]

The most remarkable peculiarity of the tumuli and circles in Algeria
is the mode in which they are connected together by double lines of
stones--as Mr. Flowers expresses it, like beads on a string--in the
manner shown in woodcut No. 167. What the object of this was has not
been explained, nor will it be easy to guess, till we have more,
and more detailed, drawings than we now possess. Mr. Féraud's plate
xxviii.[472] shows such a line zigzagging across the plain between
two heights, like a line of field fortifications, and with dolmens
and tumuli sometimes behind or in front of the lines, and at others
strung upon it. At first sight it looks like the representation of
a battle-field, but, again, what are we to make of such a group as
that represented in woodcut 168 on the previous page? It is the most
extensive plan of any one of these groups which has yet been published,
but it must be received with caution.[473] There is no scale attached
to it. The triple circles with dolmens I take to be tumuli, like
those of the Aveyron (woodcuts Nos. 8 and 122), but the whole must be
regarded as a diagram, not as a plan, and as such very unsafe to reason
upon. Still, as it certainly is not invented, it shows the curious
manner in which these monuments are joined together, as well as the
various forms which they take.

[Illustration: 169. Plan and Elevation of African Tumulus. From Féraud.]

One of these (?) is represented in plan and elevation in the annexed
woodcut 169.[474] It is, as will be observed, almost identical--
making allowance for bad drawing--with those of Aveyron just referred
to, or with the Scandinavian examples as exemplified in the diagram
(woodcut No. 109). As this class with the external dolmen on the
summit seems to be very extensive in Algeria, indeed almost typical,
an examination of their interior would at once solve the mystery of
their arrangements, and tell us whether there was a second cist on the
ground level, or where the body was deposited. Where the dolmen stands
free, but on the flat ground, as is the case with that shown in this
cut (No. 170), with two rows of stones surrounding it, the body was
deposited in a cist formed between the two uprights that support the
cap-stone, which are carried down some 5 or 6 feet into the ground for
that purpose. My impression is that the same arrangement is met with in
those which are raised, and that either the supports of the cap-stone
are carried down to the ground for that purpose or that an independent
cist, is formed directly under the visible one.

[Illustration: 170. Dolmen with Two Circles of Stones. From Féraud.]

The dolmen in this last instance is of the usual Kit's Cotty House
style, consisting of three upright stones supporting the cap-stone.
Sometimes the outer row of stones is replaced by a circular pavement
of flat stones,[475] forming what may be supposed to be a procession
path round the monument; but in fact hardly any two are exactly alike,
and when we come to deal with thousands, it requires very complete
knowledge of the whole before any classification can be attempted.
Suffice it to say here that there is hardly any variety met with
elsewhere of which a counterpart cannot be found in Algeria.

[Illustration: 171. Dolmens on the Road from Bona to Constantine. From
'Exploration scientifique de l'Algérie.']

Of their general appearance as objects in the landscape, the annexed
woodcut will convey a tolerable idea. They seem to affect the ridges
of the hills, but they also stretch across the plain, and in fact are
found everywhere and in every possible position. Except apparently on
the sea-coast, nothing like the Viking graves, so far as is known, is
found in Algeria; whether this indicates that they were a sea-faring
people or not is not quite clear, but it is a distinction worth bearing
in mind.

[Illustration: 172. Four Cairns enclosed in Squares. (From 'Soc. arch.
de Constantine,' 1864.)]

One curious group is perhaps worth quoting as a means of comparison
with the graves of Aschenrade (woodcut No. 119). It consists of four
tumuli enclosed in four squares joined together like the squares of
a chess-board. Single squares enclosing cairns are common enough in
Scandinavia, but this conjoined arrangement is rare and remarkable,
and its similarity to the Livonian example is so great that it can
hardly be accidental. The Aschenrade graves, it will be recollected,
contained coins of the Caliphs extending down to A.D. 999,
and German coins down to 1040. There would, therefore, be no _à
priori_ improbability in these graves in Algeria being as late, if the
similarity of two monuments so far apart can be considered as proving
identity of age. Without unduly pressing the argument, the points of
resemblance which exist everywhere between the Northern Europe and
North African monuments appear to prove that the latter may be of any
age down to the tenth or eleventh century, but any decision as to
their real date must depend on the local circumstances attending each
individual example.

       *       *       *       *       *

The preceding woodcuts are perhaps sufficient to explain the more
general and more typical forms of Algerian dolmens, but they are so
numerous and so varied that ten times that number of illustrations
would hardly suffice to exhibit all their peculiarities. Their study,
however, is comparatively uninteresting, till we know more of their
contents, and till something definite is accepted as to their age.
When, however, we turn to examine that, we find the data from which
our conclusions must be drawn both meagre and unsatisfactory. Such as
they are, however, they certainly all tend one way. In the first place,
the negative evidence is as complete here as elsewhere. The Greeks,
the Romans, and the early Christians were all familiar with northern
Africa, and there is not one whisper as to any such monuments having
been seen by any of them. When we consider our own ignorance of their
existence till some ten years ago, it may be said that such evidence
does not go for much; but it is worth alluding to, as a hint in the
opposite direction would be considered final, and as its absence,
at all events, leaves the question open. On the other hand, all the
traditions of the country as reported by M. Féraud, and others, and
repeated by M. Bertrand and Mr. Flower, ascribe these monuments to
the pagan inhabitants who occupied the country at the time of the
Mahommedan conquest. Thus (page 127): "At the epoch the Mussulman
invasion these countries were inhabited by a pagan population, who
elevated these vast ranges of stone to arrest the invading host." Or,
again, they even name the prince who opposed the conquerors. Thus
(page 117): "Formerly at Machira lived a pagan prince called Abd en
Nar--fire worshipper. He married Zana, queen of a city now in ruins
bearing that name. When the Arabs conquered Africa, Abd en Nar abjured
his crown, became a Mussulman, and from that time called himself Abd en
Nour--worshipper of the light."[476]

[Illustration: 173. Tombs near Djidjeli. From 'Exploration scientifique
de l'Algérie.']

This, too, must be taken for what it is worth; but in a cemetery
near Djidjeli, on the north coast, there is a curious tomb formed of
a circle of stones like those of the pagan cists, with a head-stone
which, if it is not the turban-stone that is usually found in Turkish
tombs of modern date, is most singularly like it. That the cemetery
belongs to the Mahommedans seems clear, but the circles of stones,
though small, indicate a very imperfect conversion--just such as the
tradition indicates.

These arguments, however, acquire something like consistency when we
come to examine the contents of the tombs themselves. One of them (No.
4) is described by Mr. Féraud as surrounded by a circular enceinte, 12
metres, nearly 40 feet, in diameter. The chamber of the dolmen measured
7 feet by 3 feet 6 inches. At the feet of the skeleton were the bones
and teeth of a horse, and an iron bridle-bit. In the same grave were
found a ring of iron, another ring with various other objects in
copper (bronze?), some fragments of pottery of a superior quality,
and fragments of worked flint implements, and lastly a medal of the
Empress Faustina.[477] All the three ages were consequently represented
in the one tomb, and yet it certainly belongs to the second century.
None of the others give such distinct evidence of their age, but M.
Bertrand, who is a strong advocate for the prehistoric age of French
dolmens, sums up his impressions of M. Féraud's discoveries in the
following words: "Ceux de la province de Constantine ne pouvaient, à en
juger par les objets qui y out été trouvés, être de beaucoup antérieur
à l'ère chrétienne; quelques-uns même seraient postérieurs."[478]

In addition to what he found inside the tombs, M. Féraud discovered a
Latin inscription in the cap-stone of a dolmen near Sidi Kacem. The
letters are too much worn to enable the sense of the inscription to be
made out, but quite sufficient remains to prove that it is in Latin,
and, from the form of the letters, of a late type.[479]

Monsieur Leternoux found hewn stones and even columnar shafts of Roman
workmanship among the materials out of which the bazinas at the foot
of the Aures chain had been constructed, and he gives a drawing of a
cippus of late Roman workmanship, bearing an inscription in Berber
character, which he identifies with those on two upright stones of rude
form, one of which forms parts of a circle near Bona.[480]

[Illustration: 174. Circle near Bona.]

In addition to these there are numerous instances among the plates
which form the volume of the 'Exploration scientifique de l'Algérie'
where the rude-stone monuments are so mixed up with those of late Roman
and early Christian character that it seems impossible to doubt that
they are contemporary. As no text, however, has yet been published to
accompany these plates, it is most unsafe to rely on any individual
example, which from some fault of the draughtsman or engraver may
be misleading. The general impression, however, which these plates
convey is decidedly in favour of a post-Roman date, and of their being
comparatively modern. It requires, however, some one on the spot, whose
attention is specially directed to the subject, to determine whether
the rude-stone monuments are earlier than those which are hewn, or
whether the contrary is not sometimes, perhaps always, the case. If
M. Bertrand is right, and the Faustina tomb is of any value as an
indication of age, certainly sometimes at least, the rude monuments are
the more modern. Carthage fell B.C. 146, and the Jugurthan
war ended B.C. 106, and it is impossible to conceive that
a people like the Romans, would possess as they did the sovereignty
of northern Africa, after that date, and not leave their mark on it,
in the shape of buildings of various sorts. If we adopt the usual
progressive theory, all must be anterior to B.C. 100; for on
that hypothesis it would be considered most improbable that after long
contact with Carthaginian civilization and under the direct influence
of that of Rome anyone could prefer rude uncommunicative masses to
structures composed of polished and engraved stones. It certainly was
so, however, to a very great extent, and my impression is, for the
reasons above given, that the bulk of these North African dolmens are
subsequent to the Christian era, and that they extend well into the
period of the Mahommedan domination, for it could not, for a long
time at least, have been so complete as entirely to obliterate the
feelings and usages so long indulged in by the aboriginal inhabitants
of the country. Nothing, indeed, would surprise me less than if it were
eventually shown that some of these rude-stone monuments extended down
to the times of the Crusades. As, however, we are not yet in a position
to prove this, it is only put forward here as a suggestion, in order
that those who may hereafter have the task of opening these tombs may
not reject any evidence of their being so late, as they probably would
do if imbued with prehistoric prejudices.

It is to be feared that the question who the people were that set up
these African dolmens must wait for an answer till we know more of
the ethnography of northern Africa in ancient times than we do at
present. The only people who, so far as we now see, seem to be able
to claim them, are the Nasamones. From Herodotus we learn that this
people buried their dead sitting, with their knees doubled up to their
chins, and were so particular about this that, when a man was dying,
they propped him up that he might die in that attitude (iv. 190). We
also learn from him that they had such reverence for the tombs of their
ancestors that it was their practice in their solemn form of oath to
lay their hands on these tombs, and so invoke their sanction; and in
their mode of divination they used to sleep in or on these sepulchres
(iv. 172). All this would agree perfectly with what we find, but
Herodotus unfortunately never visited the country nor saw these tombs,
and consequently does not describe them, and we do not know whether
they were mere mounds of earth, or cairns of stone, or dolmens such
as are found in Africa. It is also unfortunate for their claim that,
in his day, the Nasamones lived near the Syrtes and to the eastward
of them (ii. 32), and it seems hardly possible that they could have
increased and multiplied to such an extent in the four following
centuries as to occupy northern Africa as far as Mount Atlas, without
either the Greeks or the Romans having known it. They are mentioned
again by Curtius (iv. 7), by Lucan (ix. v. 439), and by Silius Italicus
(ii. v. 116 and xi. v. 180), but always as a plundering Libyan tribe,
never as a great people occupying the northern country. Their claim,
therefore, to be considered the authors of the thousands of dolmens
which are even now found in the province of Algeria, seems for the
present wholly inadmissible.

Still less can we admit M. Bertrand's theory alluded to above, that the
dolmen-builders migrated from the Baltic to Britain, and thence through
France and Spain to Africa. Such a migration, requiring long land
journeys and sea voyages, if it took place at all, is much more likely
to have been accomplished when commercial intercourse was established,
and the North Sea and the Mediterranean were covered with sailing
vessels of all sorts; but then it is unlikely that a rude people, as
the dolmen-builders are assumed to be, could have availed themselves of
these trade routes.

Still no one can look at such monuments as this of Aveyron (woodcuts
Nos. 8 and 122) and compare them with those of Algeria, of which
woodcut No. 169 is a type, without feeling that there was a connection,
and an intimate one, at the dolmen period, between the people on the
northern with those on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, which
can only be accounted for in one of three ways.

Either it was that history was only repeating itself when Marshal
Bougeaud landed in Algeria in 1830, and proceeded to conquer and
colonise Algeria for the French. Or we must assume, as has often been
done, that some people wandering from the east to colonise western
Europe left these traces of their passage in Africa on their way
westward. The third hypothesis is that already insisted upon at the end
of the Scandinavian chapter, which regards these rude-stone monuments
as merely the result of a fashion which sprung up at a particular
period, and was adopted by all those people who, like the Nasamones,
reverenced their dead and practised ancestral worship rather than that
of an external divinity.

Of all these three hypotheses, the second seems the least tenable,
though it is the one most generally adopted. The Pyramids were built,
on the most moderate computation, at least 3000 B.C.[481]
Egypt was then a highly civilized and populous country, and the art of
cutting and polishing stones of the hardest nature had reached a degree
of perfection in that country in those days which has never since been
surpassed, and must have been practised for thousands of years before
that time in order to reach the stage of perfection in which we there
find it. Is it possible to conceive any savage Eastern race rushing
across the Nile on its way westward, and carrying their rude arts with
them, and continuing to practise them for four or five thousand years
afterwards without change? Either it seems more probable to assume that
the Egyptians would have turned them back, or if they had sojourned
in their land like the Israelites, and then departed because they
found the bondage intolerable, it is almost certain that they would
have carried with them some of the arts and civilization of the people
among whom they had dwelt. If such a migration did take place, it must
have been in prehistoric times so remote that its occurrence can have
but little bearing on the argument as to who built these Algerian
monuments. But did they come by sea? Did the dolmen-building races
embark from the ports of Palestine or those of Asia Minor? Were they in
fact the far-famed Phœnicians, to whom antiquaries have been so fond
of ascribing these structures. The first answer to this is that there
are no dolmens in Phœnicia, and that they have not yet been found
near Carthage, nor Utica, nor in Sicily, nor indeed anywhere where the
Phœnicians had colonies. They are not even found at Marseilles,
where they settled, though on the western bank of the Rhone, where they
had no establishments, they are found in numbers. They may have traded
with Cornwall, and discovered lands even farther north, but to assume
that so small a people could have erected all the megalithic remains
found in Scandinavia and the continent of France, and other countries
where they never settled, perhaps never visited, is to ascribe great
effects to causes so insignificant as to be wholly incommensurable.
So wholly inadequate does the Phœnician power seem to have been to
produce such effects, that the proposition would probably never have
been brought forward had the extent of the dolmen region been known at
the time it was suggested. Even putting the element of time aside, it
is now clearly untenable, and if there is any truth in the date above
assigned to this class of monuments, it is mere idleness to argue it.

The idea of a migration from France to Algeria is by no means so
illogical. The French dolmens, so far as is now known, seem certainly
older than the African--a fact which, if capable of proof, is fatal to
the last suggestion--and if we assume that this class of monument was
invented in western Europe, it only requires that the element of time
should be suitable to establish this hypothesis. When the Celts of
central Gaul, six centuries before the Christian era, began to extend
their limits and to press upon those of the Aquitanians, did the latter
flee from their oppressors to seek refuge in Africa, as at a latter
period the dolmen-builders of Spain sought repose in the green island
of the west? There certainly appears to be no great improbability that
they may have done so to such an extent as to cause the adoption of
this form of architecture after it had become prevalent elsewhere; and
as the encroaching Celts, down to the prosecution of the middle ages,
may have driven continual streams of colonists in the same direction,
this would account for all the phenomena we find, provided we may
ascribe that modern date to the Algerian examples which to me appears

It is hardly probable, however, that the Aquitanians would have sought
refuge in Africa unless some kindred tribe existed there to afford them
shelter and a welcome. If such a race did exist, that would go far to
get rid of most of the difficulties of the problem. We are, however,
far too ignorant of North African ethnography to be able to say whether
any such people were there, or if so, who their representatives may now
be, and till our ignorance is dispelled, it is idle to speculate on
mere probabilities.

We know something of the migrations of the peoples settled around the
shores of the Mediterranean for at least ten centuries before the birth
of Christ, but neither in Greek or Roman or Carthaginian history, nor
in any of the traditions of their literature, do we find a hint of any
migration of a rude people, either across Egypt or by sea from Asia,
and, what is perhaps more to the point, we have no trace of it in any
of the intermediate islands. The Nurhags of Sardinia, the Talayots of
the Balearic Islands, are monuments of quite a different class from
anything found in France or Algeria. So too are the tombs of Malta,
and, as just mentioned, there are no such remains in Sicily.

We seem thus forced back on the third hypothesis, which contemplates
the rise of a dolmen style of architecture at some not very remote
period of the world's history, and its general diffusion among all
those kindred races of mankind with whom respect for the spirits of
deceased ancestors was a leading characteristic.


Dr. Barth seems to be the only traveller who has in recent times
explored the regions about Tripoli to a sufficient extent and with
the requisite knowledge to enable him to observe whether or not there
were any rude-stone monuments in that district. About halfway between
Moursuk and Ghât, he observed "a circle laid out very regularly with
large slabs, like the opening of a well; and, on the plain above the
cliffs, another circle regularly laid out, "and," he adds, "like the
many circles seen in Cyrenaica and in other parts of Northern Africa,
evidently connected with the religious rites of the ancient inhabitants
of these regions."[482] This is meagre enough; but fortunately, in
addition to this, he observed and drew two monuments which are of equal
and perhaps even of more importance to our present purposes.

[Illustration: 175. Trilithon at Ksaea.]

One of these, situated at a place called Ksaea, about forty-five miles
east by south from Tripoli, consists of six pairs of trilithons,
similar to that represented in the annexed woodcut. No plan is given
of their arrangement, nor does Dr. Barth speculate as to their use;
he only remarks that "they could never have been intended as doors,
for the space between the upright stones is so narrow that a man of
ordinary size could hardly squeeze his way between them."[483]

The other, situated at Elkeb, about the same distance from Tripoli,
but south by east, is even more curious. It, too, is a trilithon, but
the supports, which are placed on a masonry platform two steps in
height, slope inwards, with all the appearance of being copied from a
carpentry form, and the cap-stone likewise projects beyond the uprights
in a manner very unusual in masonry. Another curious indication of its
wooden origin is that the western pillar has three quadrangular holes
on its inner side, 6 inches square, while the corresponding holes in
the eastern pillar go quite through. These pillars are 2 feet square
and 10 feet high, while the impost measures 6 feet 6 inches.[484]

In front of these pillars lies a stone with a square sinking in it
and a spout at one side. Whatever this may have been intended for, it
is--if the woodcut and description are to be depended upon--the exact
counterpart of a Hindu Yoni, and as such would not excite remark as
having anything unusual in its appearance if found in a modern temple
at Benares. Beyond these in the woodcut are seen several other stones,
evidently belonging to the same monument, one of which seems to have
been formed into a throne.

[Illustration: 176. Trilithon at Elkeb. From a Drawing by Dr. Barth.]

These monuments are not, of course, alone. There must be
others--probably many others--in the country, a knowledge of which
might throw considerable light on our enquiries. In the meanwhile the
first thing that strikes one is that Jeffrey of Monmouth's assertion,
that "Giants in old days brought from Africa the stones which the
magic arts of Merlin afterwards removed from Kildare and set up at
Stonehenge,"[485] is not so entirely devoid of foundation as might at
first sight appear. The removal of the stones is, of course, absurd,
but the suggestion and design may possibly have travelled west by this

[Illustration: 177. Buddhist Monument at Bangkok. From Mouhot's
'Travels in Indo-China, Cambodia, &c.' vol. i. p. 218.]

If we now turn back to page 100, it seems impossible not to be struck
with, the likeness that exists between woodcut No. 25 and woodcuts 175
and 176, especially the first. Such similarity is more than sufficient
to take away all improbability from Dr. Barth's suggestion that "the
traces of art which they display may be ascribed to Roman influence."
It also renders it nearly certain that these African trilithons were
sepulchral, and adds another to the many proofs adduced above that
Stonehenge was both sepulchral and post-Roman.

The most curious point, however, connected with these monuments is
the suggestion of Indian influence which they--especially that at
Elkeb--give rise to. The introduction of sloping jambs, derived
from carpentry forms, can be traced back in India, in the caves of
Behar[486] and the Western Ghâts, to the second century before Christ,
but certainly to no earlier date. The carpentry forms, but without the
sloping jambs, continued at Sanchi and the Ajunta caves till some time
after the Christian era, and where wood is used has, in fact, continued
to the present day. "Mutatis mutandis," no two monuments can well be
more alike to one another than that at Elkeb and the Buddhist tomb at
Bangkok, represented in woodcut 177. The Siamese tomb may be a hundred
years old; and if we allow the African trilithon to be late Roman, we
have some fourteen or fifteen centuries between them, which, certainly,
is as long as can reasonably be demanded. In reality it was probably
less, but if the one was prehistoric, we lose altogether the thread of
association and tradition that ought to connect the two.

To all this we shall have occasion to return, and then to discuss
it more at length, when speaking of the Indian monuments and their
connection with those of the West. In the meanwhile these two form a
stepping-stone of sufficient importance to make us feel how desirable
it is that the country where they are found should be more carefully
examined. My impression is that the key to most of our mysteries is
hidden in these African deserts.

    [Footnote 464: 'International Congress,' Norwich volume, 1869, p.

    [Footnote 465: Norwich volume of 'Prehistoric Congress,' p. 196.]

    [Footnote 466: A very imperfect one appeared in the 'Revue
    archéologique,' in 1865, vol. xi. pl. v. It contained most of the
    names of places where dolmens were then known to exist, but our
    knowledge has been immensely extended since then.]

    [Footnote 467: 'Mémoires de la Soc. arch. de Constantine,' 1864, p.

    [Footnote 468: Flower, in Norwich volume, p. 204.]

    [Footnote 469: 'Mémoires, etc., de Constantine,' 1864, p. 124.]

    [Footnote 470: Flower, in Norwich volume, pp. 201 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 471: 'Mémoires, etc., de Constantine,' 1864, pp. 109,

    [Footnote: 472: 'Mémoires, etc., de Constantine.']

    [Footnote 473: Another is published by M. Bourguignal, in his
    'Monuments symboliques de l'Algérie,' pl. i., but it is still more

    [Footnote 474: I have been obliged to take some liberties with M.
    Féraud's cuts; the plan and elevation are so entirely discrepant,
    that one or both must be wrong. I have brought them a little more
    into harmony.]

    [Footnote 475: 'Prehistoric Congress,' Norwich volume, p. 199.]

    [Footnote 476: 'Mémoires, &c., de Constantine,' 1864.]

    [Footnote 477: 'Revue archéologique,' viii. p. 527.]

    [Footnote 478: _Ibid._ _l. s. c._]

    [Footnote 479: 'Mémoires, &c., de Constantine,' 1864, p. 122, pl.

    [Footnote 480: Flower, in Norwich volume, pp. 202-206.]

    [Footnote 481: 'History of Architecture,' i. p. 81.]

    [Footnote 482: 'Travels and Discoveries in Northern Africa,' i. p.

    [Footnote 483: _Ibid._ p. 74.]

    [Footnote 484: _Ibid._ p. 59. The holes are not shown in the cut.]

    [Footnote 485: 'British History,' viii. chap. ii.]

    [Footnote 486: 'History of Architecture,' by the Author, ii. p.



Before leaving the Mediterranean Sea and the countries bordering
upon it, it seems desirable to say a few words regarding certain
"non-historic" monuments which exist in its islands. Strictly speaking,
they hardly come within the limits assigned to this book, for they are
not truly megalithic in the sense in which the term has been used in
the previous pages; for though stones 15 feet and 20 feet high are used
in the Maltese monuments, they are shaped and, it may be said, hewn
with metal tools, and they are used constructively with smaller stones,
so as to form walls and roofs, and cannot therefore be considered as
Rude Stone Monuments. Still they have so much affinity with these, and
are so mixed up in all works treating of the subject with Druidical
remains and prehistoric mysteries, that it certainly seems expedient to
explain as far as possible their forms and uses.

The monuments are of three classes. The first, found in Malta, are
there called giants' towers--"Torre dei giganti"--a name having
no meaning, but which, as also involving no hypothesis, it may be
convenient to adhere to. The second class, called Nurhags, are peculiar
to Sardinia. The third, or Talyots, are found only in the Balearic
islands. There may be some connection between the two last groups, but
even then with certain local peculiarities sufficient to distinguish
them. The Maltese monuments however stand alone, and have certainly no
connection with the other two, and, as it will appear in the sequel,
none of the three have any very clear affinity with any known monuments
on the continent of either Europe or Africa.


The best known monuments of the Maltese groups are situated near the
centre of the Isle of Gozo, in the commune of Barbato. When Houel
wrote in 1787,[487] only the outside wall with the apse of one of the
inner chambers and the entrance of another were known. He mistook
the right-hand apse of the second pair of chambers for part of a
circle, and so represented it with a dolmen in the centre, led to this
apparently by the existence of a real circle which then was found at
a distance of 350 yards from the main group. This circle was 140 feet
in diameter, composed of stones ranged close together and alternately
broad and tall, as shown in the next woodcut, which represents the rear
of the principal monument. The entrance was marked by two very tall
stones, apparently 20 feet high. The interior was apparently rugged,
but there is nothing in the plates to show from what cause. When Houel
made his plan,[488] it had all the appearance of being what was styled
a regular "Druidical circle," and might have been used as such to
support any Druidical theory. It is now however evident that it really
was only the commencement of the envelope of a pair of chambers, such
as we find in all the monuments of this class on these islands. If the
plan is correct, it was the most regular of any, which, besides its
having every appearance of never having been completed, would lead
us to suppose that it was the last of the series. This monument has
now entirely disappeared, as has also another of even more megalithic
appearance which stood within a few yards of the principal group, but
of which unfortunately we have neither plan nor details. It is shown
with tolerable distinctness in a view in Mr. Frere's possession, and
in the plates which are engraved from drawings by a native artist,
which Admiral Smyth brought home in 1827,[489] and which are engraved
in volume xxii. of the 'Archæologia.' Unfortunately the text that
accompanies these plates is of the most unsatisfactory character. This
he partially explains by saying that he had left his measurements with
Colonel Otto Beyer, who had just caused the principal pair of chambers
to be excavated.

The second pair of chambers was excavated by Sir Henry Bouverie when
he was governor, some time before or about 1836, when a careful plan
and drawings of the whole were published by Count de la Marmora.[490]
It has been re-engraved by Gailhabaud and others, and is well known to

The monuments thus brought to light consisted of two pairs of
elliptical chambers very similar in dimensions and plan to those at
Mnaidra (woodcut No. 179). The greatest depth internally from the
entrance to the apse of the principal pair is 90 feet; the greatest
width across both 130 feet. The right-hand pair as you enter is
comparatively plain. The outer chamber of the left-hand pair still
retained, when excavated, fittings that looked like an altar in the
right-hand apse, which was separated from the rest by what may be
called the choir-screen or altar-rail; and this was ornamented with
spirals and geometric figures neatly and sharply cut. In the inner
chamber was a stone, near the entrance, on which was a bas-relief of
a serpent, but no other representation of any thing living was found

[Illustration: 178. View of the exterior of the Giants' Tower at Gozo.
From a drawing in the possession of Sir Bartle Frere, K.C.B.]

The external appearance of the monument may be gathered from the
woodcut No. 178. The lower part of the wall is composed alternately--as
in the circle just alluded to--of large stones laid on their sides and
smaller ones standing perpendicularly between them. Above this the
courses of stones are of regular masonry, and probably there was some
kind of cornice or string-course before the beginning of the roof, but
of this no trace now remains in any of these monuments.

The second group, known as Hagiar Khem, is situated near Krendi, on the
south side of the island of Malta, and is the most extensive one known.
The principal monument contains, besides the usual pair of chambers,
four or five lateral chambers; and a short way to the north is a second
monument, containing at least one pair; and to the south a third
group, but so ruined it is difficult to make out the plan. Only the
tops of the walls and the tall stones which still rise above the walls
were known to exist of the monument, till in 1839 Sir Henry Bouverie
authorized the expenditure of some public money to excavate it. An
account of these excavations, with a plan and drawings, was published
in Malta at the time by Lieutenant Foulis. The plan was repeated, in
less detail however, in the 'Archæologia,'[491] and afterwards in the
Norwich volume of the International Prehistoric Congress, by Mr. Furze,
from a survey recently made by the Royal Engineers.

The third group, known as that at Mnaidra, is situated not far from the
last, between it and the sea; and as it never has been published, a
plan of it is given here[492] from a survey made by Corporal Mortimer,
of the Royal Engineers. Like the Gozo monument, it consists of two
pairs of oval chambers in juxtaposition. The right-hand pair, in this
instance, is larger and simpler in design than that on the left, but
it is so nearly identical, both in plan and dimensions, with the
right-hand pair at Gozo that they are probably of the same age and
served the same purpose. They are also, as nearly as may be, of the
same dimensions: both would be enclosed, with their side walls, by
a circle 75 feet in diameter. The left-hand cone at Mnaidra would be
nearly of the same diameter; but at Gozo the corresponding enclosure
would require to be, and in fact was, 100 feet in diameter, and the
inner room, measuring 80 feet by 50 feet, including the apse, was the
largest and finest apartment of the class in the islands.

[Illustration: 179. Plan of Monument of Mnaidra. From one by Corporal

[Illustration: 180. Section, on the line A B, through Lower Pair of
Chambers, Mnaidra.]

The section through the lower chambers (woodcut No. 180) will suffice
to explain the general appearance of these buildings internally,
as they now stand. A is the entrance into a small square apartment
in which the altar or table stands, shown more completely in the
next woodcut (No. 181), from a photograph, which also renders much
more clear the peculiar style of ornamenting with innumerable "pit
markings," peculiar to these Maltese monuments. D is the entrance
into the other chamber, which but for the interference of that last
described, would have been of the usual elliptical form. My impression
is that the left-hand apse was removed at some time subsequent to the
erection of the monument, to admit of its insertion. On each side of
the doorway are seats, C and E, which are always found in similar
situations. Beyond, at F, is one of those mysterious openings which are
so frequent; it is also seen with another in Woodcut No. 182. Between
this apartment and the upper apartment H are two tiers of shelves or
loculi, which are also found at Gozo, and for which it is difficult to
suggest a meaning if they were not used as columbaria for sepulchral

[Illustration: 181. Entrance to Chamber B, Mnaidra, showing Table
inside. (The Rod is divided into English feet.)]

A difficult question here arises as to which of these two pairs of
apartments is the older--the upper, with the simpler style and the
smaller stones, or the apartments with the larger stones and more
ornate arrangements. On the whole, I am inclined to think the simpler
the older: among other reasons because the floor of the right-hand pair
at Mnaidra is 10 feet above the level of the left-hand apartments. As
the edifices are all placed on heights, it seems improbable that the
first comer would have chosen a site commanded by a knoll 10 feet above
him, and touching his half-buried building. But, besides this local
indication, it seems probable that the style was progressive, and that
this right-hand chamber at Mnaidra may be the oldest, and the great one
at Gozo the last completed of all which we know.

[Illustration: 182. North End of Left-hand Outer Chamber at Mnaidra.
From a photograph.]

The excavations at Mnaidra as well as those at Hagiar Khem have
sufficed to settle the question of how these buildings were roofed. The
above woodcut, from a photograph, shows the springing of the roof of
the north end of the outer left-hand chamber, but, like photographs in
general, does so unintelligently. Colonel Collinson, however, informs
me that they bracket outwards, at the rate of 1 foot in 10, and he
calculates that they would meet at a height of 30 feet so nearly that
they could be closed by a single stone. He, however, overlooks the
fact that all these horizontally-constructed domes, whether in Greece,
or Italy, or Sardinia, are curvilinear, their section being that of a
Gothic pointed arch, and consequently, if corbelling forward at the
rate of 1 in 10 near the springing, they would certainly meet in this
chamber at 15 or 20 feet from their base. When we recollect that before
the Trojan war the Pelasgic architects of Greece roofed chambers 50 and
60 feet in diameter (_vide ante_, page 33), we should not be surprised
at the Maltese architects grappling with apses of 20 feet span. This
has generally been admitted as easy, but several authors have been
puzzled to think how the flat spaces joining the two apses could have
been so roofed. A careful examination of the plans of the Maltese
building seems to make this easy. Looking, for instance, at the plan
of Mnaidra, a retaining wall will be observed on the extreme right,
which is a segment of a circle 75 feet in diameter, and continuing it
all round, it encloses both chambers. If a similar circle is drawn
round the left-hand chambers, it equally encloses them, and the circles
osculate, or have one party wall at a point where there is the group
of cells. This granted, it is easy to see that the external form of
the roof was a stepped cone, covering the inner roofs, and so avoiding
the ridges and hollows which would have rendered independent roofing
impracticable. The external appearance of the building would thus have
been that of two equal cones joined together, and rising probably to
a height of 50 feet above their springing. To erect such a cone on an
enclosing wall only 8 or 10 feet thick may appear at first sight a
little difficult for such rude builders as the Maltese were when they
erected these domes, but when we recollect that the cone was divided
into two by a cross party wall, which may have been carried the whole
height, all difficulty vanishes.

When we apply these principles to the ruins at Hagiar Khem, their
history becomes plain at once. Originally the monument seems to have
consisted of a single pair of chambers of the usual form, A and B of
the accompanying plan; but extension becoming necessary, the central
apse of the inner apartment was removed and converted into a doorway,
and the left-hand lateral apse was also removed so as to make an
entrance into four other ovoid apartments, which were arranged radially
so as to be covered by a cone 90 feet in diameter. Here again the
difficulty, if any, of constructing a cone of these dimensions is got
over by the numerous points of support from perpendicular walls which
honeycomb the building. The external appearance of this building would
be that of one great cone 90 feet in diameter covering the cells, and
anastomosing with one 60 feet, or one-third less, in diameter covering
the entrance chambers.

[Illustration: 183. Plan of Hagiar Khem, partially restored.]

Restored in this manner, the external appearance of these monuments
would have been very similar to that of the Kubber Roumeia near Algiers
and the Madracen near Blidah. The former was 200 feet in diameter, with
a cone rising in steps to the height of 130 feet, which was lower in
proportion than suggested above, but its interior was nearly solid,
and admitted therefore of any angle that might appear most beautiful.
The Madracen looks even lower, but no correct section of it has been
published. The Kubber Roumeia has now been ascertained to have been the
tomb of the Mauritanian kings down to the time of Juba II., or about
the Christian era.[493] Judging from its style, the Madracen may be a
century earlier. Be this as it may, it hardly seems to me doubtful but
that these tombs are late Roman translations of a type to which the
Maltese examples belonged; but the intermediate links in the long chain
which connects them have yet to be recovered.

[Illustration: 184. View of Madracen. From a plate in Blakesley's 'Four
Months in Algeria.']

Internally, these Maltese monuments are rude, and exhibit very little
attempt at decoration. The inner apartments, being dark, are quite
plain, but the outer, admitting a certain quantity of light by the
door, have a proportionate amount of ornament. At Gozo, in the outer
apartment, there are, as mentioned above, scrolls and spirals of a
style very much more refined than is found in Ireland or in rude
monuments generally, but more resembling that of those found at Mycenæ
and other parts of Greece. At Hagiar Khem and Mnaidra the favourite
ornament are pit markings. Whether these have any affinity with those
which Sir J. Simpson so copiously illustrated,[494] is by no means
clear. In Malta they are spread evenly over the stone, and are such a
decoration as might be used at the present day (woodcut No. 181). An
altar was found in one of the outer chambers at Hagiar Khem, and in
both the Maltese monuments, stone tables from 4 to 5 feet high (one is
shown in the woodcut No. 181), the use of which is not clearly made
out. They are too tall for altars, and, unless in the Balearic Islands,
nothing like them is known elsewhere.

After what has been said above, it is hardly worth while to enter
into the argument whether these buildings are temples or tombs. Their
situation alone, in this instance, is sufficient to prove that they do
not belong to the former class. Men do not drop three or four temples
irregularly, as at Gozo, within a stone's throw of one another, on a
bare piece of ground, far away from any centres of population. The same
is the case at Hagiar Khem, where certainly three, probably four, sets
of chambers exist; and Mnaidra may almost be considered a part of the
same group or cemetery.

Malta, it is said, was colonised by the Phœnicians, at least was
so in Diodorus' time,[495] though how much earlier they occupied it,
we are not told, nor to what extent they superseded the original
inhabitants. We also learn incidentally that they possessed temples
dedicated to Melkart and Astarte. This is very probable, and if so,
their remains will be found near their harbours, and where they
established themselves; and Colonel Collinson informs me that remains
of columnar buildings have been found both at Marsa Sirocco and near
the dockyard creek at Valetta. These, most probably, are the remains
of the temples in question, though possibly rebuilt in Roman times.
The little images found in the apartments at Hagiar Khem may be
representations of the Cabeiri, though I doubt it; but little headless
deformities, 20 inches high, some of stone and some of clay, are not
the divinities that would be worshipped in such temples, though they
might be offerings at a tomb.

If these buildings were tombs, they were the burying-places of a people
who burnt their dead and carefully preserved their ashes, and who
paid the utmost respect to their buried dead long after their decease.
The inner apartments have shelves and cupboards in stone, and numerous
little arrangements which it seems impossible to understand except on
the supposition that they were places for the deposit of these sacred
remains. Some of the recesses have doors cut out of a single slab 2 and
3 feet square at the opening, some are so small that a man could hardly
squeeze himself through, and some are holes into which only an arm
could be thrust,[496] but from the rebate outside of all, the intention
seems to have been for them all to be closed.

Although from all these arrangements it may broadly be asserted that
they are not temples in the ordinary sense of the term; the outer
apartments may be considered as halls in which religious ceremonies
were performed in honour of the dead, and, so far, as places of
worship; but essentially they were sepulchres, and their uses

We know so little of the ancient history of Malta that it is extremely
difficult even to guess who the people were who erected and used these
sepulchres. Most people would at once answer, the Phœnicians;
but, in order to establish their claim, one of two things is
necessary--either we must have some direct testimony that they erected
these monuments, or we must be able to show that they erected similar
tombs either near their own homes or elsewhere. Neither kind of proof
is forthcoming. No such tombs are found near Tyre or Sidon, or near
Carthage, and classical authorities are absolutely silent on the
subject. The monuments most like them are the tombs at Mycenæ, but the
differences are so great that I would hesitate to lay much stress on
any slight similarities that exist. The Greek monuments were always
intended to be buried in tumuli. Those at Malta have so strongly marked
and so ornamental a podium outside that it is evident they never were
so covered up. It may be difficult to prove it, but I fancy if we are
ever to find their originals, it is to Africa we must look for them.
They are too unlike anything else in Europe.

It seems even more difficult to define their age than to ascertain
their origin. Looking at the nature of the stone, their state of
preservation, and other circumstances, I cannot believe they are
very old. If they were in Greece, or in Europe, or anywhere where
they could be compared with other monuments, some useful inferences
might be drawn; but they are so unique that this mode is unavailable.
We have nothing we can confidently compare them with, and we are so
entirely ignorant of the ancient history of Malta that we cannot tell
in the least at what age she reached that stage of civilization which
the workmanship of these monuments represents. We are probably safe,
however, in assuming that they are pre-Roman, and as safe in believing
that they are not earlier than the monuments of Mycenæ and Thyrns;
in short, that they belong to some period between the Trojan and the
Punic wars, but are most probably much nearer to the former than to the
latter epoch in the world's history.


It is a curious illustration of the fragmentary nature of society in
the ancient world that Sardinia should possess a class of monuments
absolutely peculiar to itself. It is not this time ten or a dozen
monuments, like those of Malta, but they are numbered by thousands, and
so like one another that it is impossible to mistake them, and, what
is still more singular, as difficult to trace any progress or change
among them. The Talyots of the Balearic Islands may resemble them, but,
excepting these, the Nurhags of Sardinia stand quite alone. Nothing the
least like them is found in Italy, or in Sicily, or, indeed, anywhere
else, so far as is at present known.

A Nurhag is easily recognized and easily described. It is always a
round tower, with sides sloping at an angle of about 10 degrees to the
horizon, its dimensions varying from 20 to 60 feet in diameter, and its
height being generally equal to the width of the base. Sometimes they
are one, frequently two and even three storeys in height, the centre
being always occupied by circular chambers, constructed by projecting
stones forming a dome with the section of a pointed arch. The chamber
generally occupies one-third of the diameter, the thickness of the
walls forming the remaining two-thirds. There is invariably a ramp
or staircase leading to the platform at the top of the tower. These
peculiarities will be understood from the annexed section and plan of
one from De la Marmora's work.[497]

[Illustration: 185. Nurhag. From De la Marmora.]

[Illustration: 186. Nurhag of Santa Barbara.]

When the Nurhags are of more than one storey in height, they are
generally surrounded by others which are attached to them by platforms,
often of considerable extent. That at Santa Barbara has, or had, four
small Nurhags encased in the four corners of the platform, to which
access was obtained by a doorway in the central tower; but frequently
there are also separate ramps when the platforms are extensive. The
masonry of these monuments is generally neat, though sometimes the
stones are unhewn, but nowhere does there appear any attempt at
megalithic magnificence.

They are, at the same time, absolutely without any architectural
ornament which could give us any hint of their affinities; and no
inscriptions, no images, no sculptures of any kind, have been found in
them. They are in this respect as uncommunicative as our own rude-stone

[Illustration: 187. Nurhag of Santa Barbara. From De la Marmora.]

Written history is almost equally silent. Only one passage has
been disinterred which seems to refer to them. It is a Greek work,
generally known as 'De Mirabilibus Auscultationibus,'[498] and ascribed
doubtfully to Aristotle. It is to the following effect:--"It is said
that in the island of Sardinia there exist, among other beautiful
and numerous edifices, built after the manner of the ancient Greeks,
certain domes (Θόλοι) of exquisite proportions. It is further
said that they were built by Iolas, son of Iphicles, who, having taken
with him the Thespiadæ, went to colonise this island." This certainly
looks as if the Nurhags existed when this book was written, though the
description is by a person who evidently never saw them. Diodorus so
far confirms this that he says: "Iolaus, having founded the colony,
fetched Dedalus from Sicily, and built numerous and grand edifices,
which subsist to the present day, and are called Dedalean, from the
name of their builder;"[499] and in another paragraph he recurs to
the veneration "in which the name of Iolaus is held." This, too, is
unsatisfactory, as written by a person who never visited the island,
and had not seen the monuments of which he was speaking.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is little to be wondered at if buildings so mysterious and so unlike
any known to exist elsewhere should have given rise to speculations
almost as wild as those that hang around our own rude-stone monuments.
The various theories which have been advanced are enumerated and
described by De la Marmora[500] so fully that it will not be necessary
to recapitulate them here, nor to notice any but three, which seem
really to have some plausible foundation.

The first of these assumes the Nurhags to have been watch-towers or

The second, that they were temples.

The third, that they were tombs.

[Illustration: 188. Map of La Giara. From De la Marmora.]

Looking at the positions in which they are found, the first of these
theories is not so devoid of foundation as might at first sight appear.
As a rule, they are all placed on heights, and at such distances as
to be seen from one another, and consequently be able to communicate
by signal at least. Take such an example, for instance, as that of
Giara, near Isili (woodcut No. 188). Any engineer officer would be
delighted with the manner in which the position is taken up. Every
point of vantage in the circumference is occupied, and two points in
the interior fortified, so as to act as supports. The designer of the
entrenched camp at Linz might rub his eyes in astonishment to find
his inventions forestalled by three thousand years, and by towers
externally so like his own as hardly to be distinguishable to an
unpractised eye. The form of the towers themselves lends considerable
plausibility to the defensive theory. Such a Nurhag, for instance, as
that of Santa Barbara (woodcuts Nos. 186, 187), surrounded by four
lesser ones, connected by a platform, and dominated by the central
tower, is a means of defence we might now adopt, provided we may assume
the existence of a parapet, which has fallen through age.

When we come to look a little more closely at this military question,
we perceive that we are attempting to apply to a people who certainly
had no projectiles that would carry farther than arrows, principles
adapted to artillery or musketry fire. The Nurhags are placed at such
distances as to afford no support to one another before the invention
of gunpowder, and though in themselves not indefensible, they possess
the radical defect of having no accommodation for their garrisons.
It is impossible that men could live, cook, and sleep in the little
circular apartments in their interior, and the platforms added very
little to their accommodation. Had the four detached Nurhags at Santa
Barbara been connected with walls only, so as to surround the central
tower with a court, the case would have been very different; but as
in all instances this is filled up, so as to form a platform, it is
evident that it was exposure, not shelter, that was sought in their

Another, and even stronger, argument is derived from their number. De
la Marmora asserts that the remains of at least three thousand Nurhags
can now be traced in Sardinia,[502] and there seems no reason to doubt
the truth of his calculation, nor his assertion that they were once
much more numerous, and that they are dispersed pretty evenly over the
whole island. Can any one fancy a state of society in such an island
which would require that there should be three thousand castles and
yet no fortified cities as places of refuge? They were not erected to
protect the island against a foreign enemy, because most of them are
inland. They could not be made to serve for the protection of the rich
during insurrections or civil wars, nor to enable robbers to plunder
in security the peaceful inhabitants of the plain. In short, unless
the ancient Sardinians lived in a state of society of which we have no
knowledge elsewhere, these Nurhags were certainly not military works.

When we turn to the second hypothesis and try to consider them as
temples, we are met by very much the same difficulties as beset the
fortification theory. If temples, they are unlike the temples of any
other people. Generally it is assumed that they were fire temples,
from their name _Nur_--in the Semitic languages signifying fire--but
more from their construction. The little circular chambers in their
interiors are admirably suited for preserving the sacred fire, and
the external platforms as well adapted for that Sabean worship of
the planets which is generally understood to be associated with
fire-worship. But assuming this to be the case, why so numerous? We
can count on our fingers all the fire-temples that exist, or were ever
known to exist, in fire-worshipping Persia; and if a dozen satisfied
her spiritual wants, what necessity was there for three thousand,
or probably twice that number, in the small and sparsely inhabited
island of Sardinia? Had every family, or little village community its
own separate temple on the nearest high place? and did each perform
its own worship separately from the rest? So far as we know, there
is no subordination among them, nothing corresponding to cathedrals,
or parish churches or chapels. Some are smaller, or some form more
extensive groups than others, but a singularly republican equality
reigns throughout, very unlike the hierarchical feeling we find in most
religions. In one other respect, too, they are unlike the temples of
other nations. None of them are situated in towns or villages, or near
the centres of population in the island.

Must we then adopt the third hypothesis, that they were tombs? Here
again the same difficulties meet us. If they were tombs, they are
unlike those of any other people with whom we are acquainted. Their
numbers in this instance is, however, no difficulty. It is in the
nature of the case that sepulchres should accumulate, and their number
is consequently one of the strongest arguments in favour of this
destination. Nor does their situation militate against this view.
Nothing is more likely than that a people should like to bury their
dead, on high places, where their tombs can be seen from afar. In fact,
there does not seem much to be said against this theory, except that
no sepulchral remains have been found in them. It is true that De la
Marmora found a skeleton buried in one at Iselle,[503] and apparently
so placed that the interment must have taken place before the tower was
built, or at all events finished; but the presence of only one corpse
in two thousand nurhags tells strongly against the theory, as where
one was placed more would have been found had this form of interment
been usual, and amidst the hundreds of ruined and half-ruined nurhags
some evidence must have been found had any of the usual sepulchral
usages prevailed. To my mind the conclusion seems inevitable that, if
they were tombs, they were those of a people who, like the Parsees of
the present day, exposed their dead to be devoured by the birds of the
air. If there is one feature in the nurhags more consistent or more
essential than another, it is that of the stairs or ramps that give
access to their platforms. It shows, without doubt, that, whether for
defence, or worship, or burial, the platform was the feature for which
the edifice was erected, and there it must have been that its purposes
were fulfilled. But is it possible that such a practice ever prevailed
in Sardinia? It is, of course, precipitate to answer that it did. But
the custom is old. Anything so exceptional among modern usages is not
the invention of yesterday, and it may have been far more prevalent
than it now is, and it may in very ancient times have been brought by
some Eastern colonists to this Western isle. I dare hardly suggest that
it was so; but this is certain, that such towers would answer in every
respect perfectly to the "Towers of Silence" of the modern Persians,
and the little side chambers in the towers would suit perfectly as
receptacles of the denuded bones when the time arrived for collecting

One argument against their being sepulchres has been drawn from the
fact that frequently a different class of graves, called giants' tombs,
is found in their immediate proximity. The conclusion I would draw
from this is in a contrary sense. These giants' tombs are generally
long graves of neatly fitted stones, with a tall frontispiece, which
is formed of one stone, always carefully hewn and sometimes carved. On
each side of the entrance two arms extend so as to form a semicircle in
front, and when the circle is completed by detached menhirs, these are
generally shaped into cones and carved. The whole, in fact, has a more
advanced and more modern appearance than the nurhags, and, as I read
the riddle, the inhabitants adopted this form, and that found in the
nurhag at Iselle, after they had ceased to use the nurhag itself as a
means of disposing of their dead, but were still clinging to the spots
made sacred by the ashes of their forefathers.

That the nurhags are old scarcely seems to admit of a doubt, though
I know of only one material point of evidence on the subject. It is
that the pier of a Roman aqueduct has been founded on the stump of a
ruined and consequently desecrated nurhag.[504] Some time must have
elapsed before the primitive and sacred use of the nurhag had been so
completely forgotten that it should be so used. But the passages above
quoted from the 'Mirabilibus' and Diodorus show that in the first
and fifth centuries B.C. nothing was known of their origin by these
authors, and no other has ventured to hint at their age. In classical
times they seem to have been as mysterious as they are now:--

  "In the glimmer of the dawn
  They stand the solemn silent witnesses
  Of ancient days,--altars--or graves."


The third group of monuments indicated above are the Talyots of Minorca
and Majorca. Unfortunately our guide, De la Marmora, deserts us here.
He went to explore them, but ill health and other adverse circumstances
prevented his carrying his intent fully into effect, and we are left
consequently very much to the work of Don Juan Ramis,[505] which is the
reverse of satisfactory.

[Illustration: 189. Talyot at Trepucò, Minorca. From De la Marmora.]

[Illustration: 190. Talyot at Alajor, Minorca. From De la Marmora.]

Externally they generally resemble the nurhags in appearance, and
apparently have always chambers in their interior, but De la
Marmora was unable to determine whether any of them had the internal
staircase[506] leading to the summit which is the invariable and
essential characteristic of the nurhag. If they had not this, they
must be considered as more nearly approaching to our chambered cairns
than to nurhags; and till this point is settled, and we know more
about them, we must refrain from speculations on the subject. One
characteristic feature they have, however, which it is useful to note.
It is a bilithon, if such a term is admissible--an upright flat stone,
with one across it forming a sort of table. In appearance it very much
resembles those stone tables which are found inside the chambers of the
Maltese sepulchres, but these are always larger, and placed, so far as
is known, externally. What their use may have been, it is difficult
to conjecture, but they were evidently considered important here, as
in woodcut No. 190 one is shown surrounded by a sacred enclosure,
as if being itself the "Numen" to be honoured. At Malta, as before
remarked, they certainly were not altars, because pedestals, which were
unmistakably altars, are found in the same apartments, and they are
very unlike them. They seem more like the great saucers in the Irish
tombs, and may have served the same purposes; but altogether these
Balearic outside tables are unlike anything we know of elsewhere.

Rude-Stone circles seem to be not uncommon in combination with the
talyots and tall altars, and on the whole they seem to bear as much
affinity to the monuments of Spain as to those of Sardinia, but again
till we know more it is idle to speculate on either their age or uses
beyond the conclusion drawn from all similar monuments--that their
destination was to honour departed greatness.

       *       *       *       *       *

It would be not only interesting but instructive to pursue the subject
further, for the monuments of these islands deserve a more complete
investigation than they have yet received; but this is not the place to
pursue it. Indeed, it is only indirectly that they have any connection
with the subject of this work. They are not megalithic in the sense in
which the word is generally used. Nor are they rude, for all the stones
are more or less shaped by art, and all are used constructively. In
none of them is the stone itself the object and end of the erection. In
all it is only a means to an end.

It is their locality and their age that import them into our argument
if there is anything in the connection between the monuments of France
and Algeria, as attempted to be shown above. Whether the African ones
came from Europe, or _vice versâ_, it must have been in consequence
of long-continued intercourse between the two countries, and of
an influence of the dolmen builders in the Western Mediterranean
which could hardly have failed to leave traces in the intermediate
islands, unless they had been previously civilized and had fixed and
long-established modes of dealing with their own dead.

Assuming that the nurhags and giants' towers extend back to the
mythic times of Grecian history, say the war of Troy--and some of
them can hardly be more modern--it will hardly be contended now that
the dolmens are earlier. If they were so, it must be by centuries
or by thousands of years, if we are to assume that the one had any
influence on the other, for it must have taken long before a truly
rude-stone monument could have grown into a constructive style like
that of Sardinia or Malta; and I do not think, after what has been
said above, any one would now contend for so remote an antiquity. If
neither anterior nor coeval, the conclusion, if we admit any influence
at all, seems inevitable that the dolmens must be subsequent. But this
is just the point at issue. The nurhags did not grow out of dolmens,
nor dolmens out of nurhags. They are separate and distinct creations,
so far as we know, belonging to different races, and practically
uninfluenced by one another. Here, as elsewhere, each group must be
judged by itself, and stand on its own merits. If any direct influence
can be shown to exist between any two groups, there is generally very
little difficulty in arranging them in a sequence and seeing which is
the oldest, but till such connection is established, all such attempts
are futile.

In so far as any argument can now be got out of these insular
monuments, it seems to take this form. If the dolmen people were
earlier than the nurhag-builders, they certainly would have occupied
the islands that lay in their path between France or Spain and Africa,
and we should find traces of them there. If, on the contrary, the
nurhag-builders were the earlier race, and colonised these islands
so completely as to fill them before the age of the dolmen-builders,
the latter, in passing from north to south, or _vice versâ_, could
only have touched at the islands as emigrants or traders, and not as
colonists, and consequently could have neither altered nor influenced
to any great extent the more practically civilized people who had
already occupied them.

So far as we can see, this is the view that most nearly meets the
facts of the case at present known, and in this respect their negative
evidence is both interesting and instructive, though, except when
viewed in this light, the monuments of the Mediterranean islands have
no real place in a work treating on rude-stone monuments.

    [Footnote 487: 'Voyage pittoresque en Sicile et Malte,' 4 vols.
    folio, Paris, 1787.]

    [Footnote 488: _Ibid._ pl. ccxli.]

    [Footnote 489: The three formed part of a set of
    nine, a duplicate of which has kindly
    been lent to me by Mr. Frere, of Roydon
    Hall, Norfolk. Unfortunately there is no
    artist's name, and no date, upon them.]

    [Footnote 490: 'Nouvelles Annales de l'Institut archéologique,' i.;
    Paris, 1836.]

    [Footnote 491: With a paper by Mr. Vance, 'Archæologia,'
    vol. xxix. p. 227.]

    [Footnote 492: For this plan and the photographs
    of it I am indebted to the kindness of
    Col. Collinson, R.E., who accompanied
    them by a very full description and
    notes on their history and uses, from
    which much of the following information
    is derived.]

    [Footnote 493: Berbrugger, 'Tombeau de la Chrétienne--Mausolée des
    derniers Rois de Mauritanie;'
    Alger, 1867.]

    [Footnote 494: 'Proceedings Soc. Ant. Scot.,' vi., Supplement.]

    [Footnote 495: Hist., v. 12, 3.]

    [Footnote 496: One at Mnaidra will be seen at F, in woodcut No. 180,
    and also in the view,
    woodcut No. 182.]

    [Footnote 497: 'Voyage en Sardaigne,' par le Cte.
    Albert de la Marmora; Paris, 1840. As
    this is not only the best but really the
    only reliable work on the subject, all, or
    nearly all, the information in this chapter
    is based upon it.]

    [Footnote 498: Bekker, iii. p. 604, para. 100.]

    [Footnote 499: Diodorus, iv. 30; v. 15.]

    [Footnote 500: 'Voyage en Sardaigne,' chap. iv. pp. 117 to 159.]

    [Footnote 501: The Scotch brochs, which are in their construction
    the erections most like these, have all courtyards in their centre,
    in which all the domestic operations of the garrison could be
    carried on conveniently, and they only needed to creep into the
    chambers in the wall to sleep.]

    [Footnote 502: 'Voyage en Sardaigne,' pp. 46 and 116.]

    [Footnote 503: 'Voyage,' p. 152.]

    [Footnote 504: De la Marmora, pl. v. p. 149.]

    [Footnote 505: 'Antigüedades Celticas de la Isla de Menorca, &c.;'
    Mahon, 1818.]

    [Footnote 506: 'Voyage,' pp. 547 _et seq._]




Palestine is one of those countries in which dolmens exist, not in
thousands and tens of thousands, as in Algeria, but certainly in
hundreds--perhaps tens of hundreds; but travellers have not yet
condescended to open their eyes to observe them, and the Palestine
Exploration Fund is too busy making maps to pay attention to a subject
which would probably throw as much light on the ethnography of the
Holy Land as anything we know of. Before, however, retailing what
little we know about the monuments actually existing, it is necessary
in this instance to say a few words about those which we know of only
by hearsay. All writers on megalithic remains in the last century, and
some of those of the present, have made so much of the stones set up by
Abraham and Joshua that it is indispensable to try to ascertain what
they were, and what bearing they really have on the subject of which we
are treating.

The earliest mention of a stone being set up anywhere as a monument or
memorial is that of the one which Jacob used as a pillow in the night
when he had that dream which became the title of the Israelites to the
land of Canaan. "And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the
stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and
poured oil upon the top of it."[507] The question is, What was the size
of this stone? In the East, where hard pillows are not objected to,
natives generally use a brick for this purpose. Europeans, who are more
stiffnecked as well as more luxurious, insist on two bricks, and these
laid one on the other, with a cloth thrown over them, form by no means
an uncomfortable headpiece. The fact of Jacob being alone, and moving
the stone to and from the place where it was used, proves that it was
not larger than, probably not so large as, the head that was laid
upon it. It certainly, therefore, was neither the Lia Fail which still
adorns the hill of Tara nor even the Scone stone that forms the king's
seat in Westminster Abbey, and, what is more to our present purpose, it
may safely be discharged from the category of megalithic monuments of
which we are now treating.

The next case in which stones are mentioned is in Genesis xxxi. 45 and
46: "And Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar. And Jacob
said unto his brethren, Gather stones; and they took stones, and made
an heap: and they did eat there upon the heap." This is not quite so
clear; but the fair inference seems to be that what they erected was
a stone altar, on which they partook of an offering, which, under the
circumstances, took the form of a sacramental oath--one party standing
on either side of it. The altar in the temple of Jerusalem, we know,
down even to the time of Herod, was formed of stones, which no iron
tool had ever touched,[508] and the tradition derived from this altar
of Jacob seems to have lasted during the whole Jewish period. So there
is nothing in this instance to lead us to suppose that "the heap" had
any connection with the megalithic monuments of other countries.

The third instance, though more frequently quoted, seems even less
relevant. When Joshua passed the Jordan, twelve men, according to the
number of the tribes, were appointed, each "to take up a stone on
his shoulder out of the Jordan, in the place where the priests' feet
had stood, and to carry them and set them down at the place where
they lodged that night, as a memorial to the children of Israel for
ever."[509] Here, again, stones that men can carry on their shoulders
are not much bigger than their heads, and are not such as in any
ordinary sense would be used as memorials, inasmuch as they could be as
easily removed by any one, as placed where they were. If ranged on an
altar, in a building, this purpose would have been answered; but as an
open-air testimonial such stones seem singularly inappropriate.

The only instance in which it seems that the Bible is speaking of the
same class of monuments as those we are concerned with is in the
last chapter of Joshua, where it is said (verse 26), he "took a great
stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of
the Lord," and said, "Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us."
It is the more probable that this was really a great monolith, as it
seems to be the stone mentioned in Judges ix. 6 as "the pillar of the
plain," ... or "by the oak of the pillar which was in Shechem;" and if
this is so, it must have been of considerable dimensions. It therefore
alone, of all the stones mentioned in the Bible, seems to belong to the
class of stones we are treating of; but even then its direct bearing
on the subject is not clear. It by no means follows that because the
Israelites in Joshua's time set up such a stone for such a purpose that
either then or a thousand years afterwards the French or Scandinavians
did the same thing with the same intention. It may be so, but both
the time and locality seem too remote for us to rely on any supposed

As bearing indirectly on this subject, it is curious to observe that
the rite of circumcision in these early days of Jewish history was
performed with flint knives,[510] which, considering that bronze and
iron were both familiarly known to the Israelites at that period, is a
remarkable example of the persistence in an old fashion long after it
might have been supposed it would have become obsolete. It is equally
curious, if the Septuagint is to be depended upon, that they should
have buried with Joshua in his grave those very flint implements (τὰς
μαχαίραγς τὰς πετρίνας) with which the operation was performed. This
cannot of course be quoted as the latest or even a late example of
flint being buried in tombs, but it is interesting as explaining one
reason for the practice. It is at least one instance in which flint was
used long after metal was known, and one tomb in which stone implements
were buried for other reasons than the people's ignorance of the use of
metal.[511] If the Jews used flints for that purpose in Joshua's time,
and so disposed of them after the death of their chief, the only wonder
is that they do not do so at the present day.

To turn from these speculations, based on words, to the real facts
of the case. We find that the first persons who observed dolmens in
Syria were Captains Irby and Mangles. In their hurried journey from Es
Salt, in 1817, to the fords of the Jordan, apparently in a straight
line from Es Salt to Nablous, they observed a group of twenty-seven
dolmens, very irregularly situated at the foot of the mountain. All
those they observed were composed of two side-stones, from 8 to 10 feet
long, supporting a cap-stone projecting considerably beyond the sides
and ends. The chambers, however, were only 5 feet long internally--too
short, consequently, for a body to be stretched out at full length.
The contraction arose from the two transverse stones being placed
considerably within the ends of the side-stones. One of these appears
to have been solid, the other to have been pierced with what is called
a door; but whether this was a hole in one stone, or a door formed by
two jambs, is not clear.[512] No drawing or plan accompanies their
description; but the arrangement will be easily understood when we come
to examine those of Rajunkoloor, in India,[513] described farther on
(woodcut No. 206).

[Illustration: 191. Dolmens at Kafr er Wâl. From a sketch by Mrs.
Roberton Blaine.]

The only other reliable information I have is extracted for me from
his note-books by my friend, Mr. D. R. Blaine. In travelling from Om
Keis--Gadara--towards Gerash, at a place called Kafr er Wâl, not far
from Tibné, they met with one considerable group, a portion of which
is represented in the above woodcut (No. 191). The size of the stones
varies considerably; generally, however, they are about 12 feet by 6
feet, and from 1 to 2 feet in thickness. One cap-stone was nearly 12
feet square, and the side-stones vary from 5 to 6 feet in height. On
approaching Sûf, a great number of dolmens were observed on either side
of the road for a distance of from three to four miles. Some of these
seemed quite perfect, others were broken down; but the travellers had
unfortunately no time to count or examine them with care.

This is a very meagre account of a great subject--so meagre, indeed,
that it is impossible to found any argument upon it that will be worth
anything; but it is interesting to observe that all the dolmens as yet
noticed in Syria are situated in Gilead, the country of the Amorites,
and of Og, king of Bashan. If it should prove eventually that there are
none except in this district, it would give rise to several interesting
ethnographical determinations. At present all we can feel confident
about is that there are no dolmens west of the Jordan; but the Amorites
were originally settled in Hebron,[514] and there are certainly no
dolmens there. So unless they migrated eastward before the dolmen
period, they can scarcely lay claim to them. Then these dolmens may
belong to the Rephaim, the Emim, the Anakim, the Zuzim, and all those
giant tribes that dwelt beyond Jordan at the time of Chedorlaomer,
the dreaded king of Elam, who smote the kings of this district at the
dawn of the Bible history of these regions.[515] The speculation is
a tempting one, and if it should eventually be proved that they are
confined to this one district, it will no doubt find favour in some
quarters. There seems, however, nothing to support it beyond the fact
that the people in the region beyond the Jordan seem all and always to
have been of Hamite or Turanian blood, and therefore likely to adopt
this mode of burial whenever it may have been introduced, in spite of
the colonization of two tribes and a half of Israelites, who could do
but little to leaven the mass. I am afraid that, like the theory which
identified the Roman cities of the Hauran with the giant cities of Og,
king of Bashan, and his tall contemporaries, this hypothesis will not
bear examination. Every stone of these cities, it is now known, was
placed where we now find it, after the time when Pompey extended Roman
influence to these regions; and nothing would surprise me less than
to find that these dolmens are even more modern. Before, however, we
venture to speculate on such a subject, we must feel surer than we now
do of their extent and their distribution, and know something of their
contents. On both these subjects we are at present practically entirely

       *       *       *       *       *

Gilead is almost the last safe resting-place at which we can pause in
our explorations eastward in our attempts to connect the Eastern and
the Western dolmen regions together. But Gilead is two thousand miles
from Peshawur, where we meet the first example of the Indian dolmens;
and in the vast regions that lie between, only one or two doubtful
examples are known to exist. We can creep on doubtfully a couple of
hundred miles nearer, in Arabia and Circassia; but that hardly helps
us much, and unless some discoveries are made in the intermediate
countries, the migration theory will become wholly untenable.

In the course of the recent ordnance survey of the peninsula of Sinai
in 1868-9, great numbers of circular buildings were discovered, many of
which were certainly tombs; and plans and drawings of some of them have
been engraved, and will be published by the authorities at Southampton.
But as great bodies move slowly, it may yet be a long time before they
are accessible to the public. Meanwhile the following particulars,
gleaned from a paper by the Rev. Mr. Holland,[516] will suffice to
explain what they are. The buildings are of two classes: the first,
which were probably store-houses, were built in the shape of a dome,
about 5 feet high and 5 or 6 feet in diameter in the interior. The
walls were often as much as 4 feet thick, and a large flat stone formed
the highest portion of the roof, which appeared to have been covered
with loose shingle. They had no windows, and one door, about 3 feet
high and 1½ foot broad. The stones used in their construction were
often large, but never dressed, and no mortar was used.

The other kind of ruins, which is generally found in close proximity
to the former, often in separate groups, consists of massively built
circles of stones, of about 14 to 15 feet in diameter, and 3 feet
high, but without any roof. "These," Mr. Holland says, "were evidently
tombs; for I found human bones in all that I opened," which were
never met with in the buildings of the first class; "and in one two
skeletons lying side by side, one of them on a bed of flat stones.
The rings of stones were apparently first half filled with earth; the
bodies were then laid in them, and they were then quite filled up with
earth, and heavy stones placed on the top to prevent the wild beasts
disturbing the bodies. Some of these rings are of much larger size:
some 45, others 90, feet in diameter, and some contained a smaller
ring in the centre. Near the mound of Nukb Hawy is one no less than
375 feet in diameter." From the above description it is evident that,
except from the dimensions of the last-mentioned, these circles have
much more affinity with the Chouchas and Bazinas of Algeria than with
anything farther north or west, and there is probably some connection
between them. But a wall of coursed masonry of small stones can hardly
be compared with our megalithic structures, and, so far as is known,
no dolmens, nor any examples of the great rude-stone monuments we are
discussing, have been found in the peninsula. When the results of the
survey are published, we may see reason to alter this opinion; but
at present these Sinaitic tombs seem to belong to a class altogether
different from the European examples, except in two points--that they
are circular and sepulchral. These characteristics are, however, so
important that eventually other points of comparison may be established.

The rude-stone monuments which Mr. Giffard Palgrave accidentally
stumbled upon in the centre of Arabia are of a very different class
from these. According to his account, what he saw was apparently
one-half of what had once been a complete circle of trilithons; but
whether continuous, like the outer circle of Stonehenge, or in pairs,
like the inner circle there, is not quite clear. As he could just
touch the impost with his whip when on his camel, the height was, as
he says, about 15 feet--the same as Stonehenge; and the expression he
uses would lead us to suppose that the whole structure was essentially
similar. Allowance, however, must be made for his being in disguise,
which prevented his making notes or writing down his observations; and
writing afterwards from memory, his description may not be minutely
correct. He is, however, so clear and acute an observer that he could
hardly be deceiving himself; and we may take it for granted that
exactly halfway between the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, near Eyoon,
in latitude 26° 20´, there exist three rude-stone monuments--he saw
only one, but heard of two others--of a class similar to those found
in England and in the continent of Europe,[517] and what is more
important to our present purpose, similar to those found in Tripoli,
and illustrated above in woodcuts 175 and 176.

De Voguë's plates of late Roman tombs in the Hauran, especially those
represented in his plates 93 and 94,[518] take away all improbability
from the idea that trilithons should have been erected for sepulchral
purposes in this part of the world. That the one form is copied from
the other may be assumed as certain; but whether the rude stones
are anterior to or contemporary with or subsequent to those of the
Roman order, every one must decide for himself. I believe them to be
either coeval or more modern, but there is nothing in these particular
monuments to guide us to a decision either way. If we could fancy that
the savages who now occupy that country would ever allow it to be
explored, it would be extremely interesting to know more of the Arabian
examples, even if they should only prove to be an extension of Syrian
or North African forms into Central Arabia. If, on the other hand, a
migration theory is ever to be established, this probably would be the
southern route, or at least one of the southern routes; though the
imagination staggers when we come to consider how long it must have
been ago since any wandering tribes passed through Central Arabia on
their way westward.

       *       *       *       *       *

Are there any dolmens in Asia Minor? It is no answer to this question
to say that none have been seen by any of the numerous travellers who
have traversed that country. Ten years ago, by a parity of reasoning,
their existence in Algeria or in Syria might have been denied. My
impression is that they will not be found in that region. I expect that
Asia Minor was too completely civilized in a pre-dolmen period to have
adopted this form afterwards; but it is dangerous to speculate about a
country of whose early history, as well as of whose modern geography,
we really know so little.

It would be extremely interesting, however, if some traveller would
open his eyes, and tell us what really is to be found there, as it
would throw considerable light on some interesting problems connected
with this subject. It would, for instance, be interesting to know
whether there are or are not dolmens in Galatia. If there are, it would
go far to assist the Celtic claim to their invention. If they do not
exist, either the Celts must be asked to waive their claim or we must
find out some other mode of accounting for their absence.

In like manner, it would be interesting to know if there are dolmens in
Lydia. As mentioned before, there are numberless chambered tumuli in
that country, and it would be curious to trace the existence or absence
of any connection between these two forms of sepulchres. My impression
is that the case of Lydia is very similar to that of Etruria. It was
civilized before the dolmen era, and it will consequently be in vain to
look there for any megalithic remains. The chambers in all the tombs
yet opened are, so far as we at present know, constructed of small
stones, and show no reminiscence of a rude-stone stage of art.[519]

When we cross the Black Sea to Kertch, we find a state of affairs
very similar to that in Lydia--great numbers of chambered tumuli,
but all of microlithic or masonic forms. The tombs seem to be the
lineal descendants of those at Mycenæ, and to belong to a totally
different class from those we are treating of, and, notwithstanding
their similarity of purpose, have apparently sprung from a different
source. Yet it is curious to observe that even here the inevitable
flints reappear. In one tomb, known as Kouloba, or Hill of Cinders,
were found the remains of a chief, with his wife, their servants, and a
horse. He wore a cap ornamented with gold, a gold enamelled necklace,
and gold bracelets, and his sword was of iron. An electrum plate, which
had formed part of a quiver, was ornamented with figures of animals
and inscribed with the Greek word Πὁναχο. The queen's ornaments were
richer in metal and more elaborate in workmanship than her husband's,
yet among all this magnificence were found a quantity of flakes and
other implements of flint:[520] a tolerably convincing proof that flint
implements were not buried in this tomb, any more than in Joshua's,
because men did not know the use of metals, but for some symbolical
reason we do not now understand. There is little doubt that other
examples as striking as these will be found when looked for, and, at
all events, these do away with all _à priori_ arguments based on the
probability or otherwise of their being modern.

[Illustration: 192. Holed Dolmen. From Dubois de Montpereux.]

[Illustration: 193. Holed Dolmen, Circassia. From a drawing by Simpson.]

Combined with these are found, very sparsely on the shore of the
Crimea, but frequently on the eastern shore of the Baltic and in
Circassia, the forms of dolmens we are familiar with in other parts
of the world. Nothing like a regular survey of them has yet been
attempted, nor have we any detailed accounts of them; but from such
information as is published,[521] the general type seems to be that of
the holed dolmen, such as those represented in the annexed woodcuts.

As far as can be judged from such illustrations as have been published,
all the Caucasian or Circassian dolmens are composed of stones more
or less hewn and shaped and carefully fitted together, giving them a
more modern appearance than their Western congeners. That, however,
may be owing to other circumstances than age, and cannot be used as
an argument either way till we know more about them. It would be
extremely interesting if some one would make a special study of this
group, as Circassia lies exactly halfway between India and Scandinavia,
and if we adopt a migration theory, this is exactly the central
resting-place where we would expect to find traces of the passage of
the dolmen-builders. Their route probably would be through Bactria,
down the Oxus to the Caspian, across Circassia, and round the head of
the Sea of Azof to the Dnieper, and up that river and down the banks of
the Niemen or Vistula to the Baltic.

If, on the other hand, we adopt a missionary theory, and are content
to believe in an Eastern influence only, without insisting on a great
displacement of peoples, this would equally be the trade route along
which such influence might be supposed to extend, and so connect
the north with the east, just as we may suppose a southern route to
have extended through Arabia and Syria to the southern shores of the

[Illustration: 194. Baba. From Dubois de Montpereux.]

[Illustration: 195. Four-cornered Grave. From Sjöborg.]

Even more important for our present purpose, however, than an
examination of these Caucasian regions would be an exploration of the
Steppes to the northward of the route just indicated. If there is any
foundation for the theory that the dolmens are of Turanian origin, it
is here that we should expect to find the germs of the system. It is
one of the best-established facts of ethnology that the original seat
of the Aryans was somewhere in Upper and Central Asia, whence they
migrated eastward into India, southward into Persia, and westward into
Europe. In like manner, the original seat of the Turanians is assumed
to be somewhat farther north, and thence at an earlier period it is
believed that they spread themselves at some very early prehistoric
time over the whole face of the Old World. When we turn to the Steppes,
whence this great family of mankind are supposed to have migrated,
we find it covered with tumuli. As Haxthausen[522] expresses it, the
Kurgans, as they are there called, are counted "non par des milliers,
c'est centaines de milliers qu'il faudrait dire;" and Pallas equally
gives an account of their astonishing numbers.[523] These tumuli
resemble exactly our barrows, such as are seen on Salisbury plain,
except that they are generally of very much larger dimensions, and
they have one peculiarity not known elsewhere. On the top of each is
an upright stone, rudely carved, but always unmistakably representing
a human figure, and understood to be intended for a representation of
the person buried beneath. Pallas, Haxthausen, and Dubois, all give
representations of these figures, but in some instances at least they
are repetitions of the same original. They are perfectly described
by the monk Ruberquis, who visited these countries in 1253. "The
Comanians," he says, "build a great tomb over their dead, and erect
an image of the dead party thereon, with his face towards the east,
holding a drinking-cup in his hand before his navel. They also erect
on the monuments of rich men pyramids, that is to say, little pointed
houses or pinnacles. In some places I saw mighty towers, made of brick,
and in other places pyramids made of stones, though no stones are found
thereabouts. I saw one newly buried in whose behalf they hanged up
sixteen horse-hides, and they set beside his grave Cosmos (Kumiss) to
drink and flesh to eat, and yet they say he was baptized. And I beheld
other kinds of sepulchres, also towards the east, namely, large floors
or pavements made of stone, some round and some square; and then four
long stones, pitched upright above the said pavement, towards the four
regions of the world."[524] The general correctness of this account is
so fully confirmed by more modern travellers that there seems no reason
for doubting it; but, as no one has described these "pavements," we
dare not rely too much on their manifest similarity to the Scandinavian
square and round graves, with four angle-stones, like the preceding
one (woodcut No. 195).

It may not be satisfactory to be obliged to go back to a traveller of
the thirteenth century, however much he may be confirmed by subsequent
writers, for an account of monuments which we would like to see
measured and drawn with modern accuracy. It is, on the other hand,
however, a gain to find a trustworthy witness who lived among a people
who buried their dead in tumuli and sacrificed horses in their honour,
and provided them with meat and drink for their journey to the Shades;
who, in fact, in the thirteenth century were enacting those things as
living men which we find only in a fossil state in more Western lands.

[Illustration: 196. Tumulus at Alexandropol.]

The general appearance of these tumuli may be judged of by one of the
most magnificent recently excavated by the Russians near Alexandropol,
between the Dnieper and the Bazaolouk. It is about 1000 feet in
circumference and 70 feet high, and was originally surmounted by a
"Baba," which, however, is not there now. Around its base was a sort
of retaining wall of small stones, and outside these a ditch and low
mound, but no attempt whatever at lithic magnificence. Within it were
several sepulchres. The principal one in the centre had apparently
been already rifled, but in the subsidiary ones great quantities of
gold ornaments were found, especially on the trappings of the horses
which seem to have been buried here almost with more honour than
their masters. Judging from the form of the ornaments and the style
of the workmanship, the tomb belonged to the third or fourth century

[Illustration: 197. Uncovered Base of a Tumulus at Nikolajew.]

In Haxthausen's work[526] there is a woodcut which may give us a hint
as to the genesis of circles. A kurgan, or tumulus, at Nikolajew, in
the government of Cherson, was cleared away, and though nothing was
found in it to indicate its age and purpose, its base was composed of
three or four concentric circles of upright stones, surrounding what
appears to be a tomb composed of five stones in the centre. Similar
arrangements have been found in Algerian tumuli, and it looks as if
the first hint of a sepulchral circle may have arisen from such an
arrangement having become familiar before being covered up, just as I
believe the free-standing dolmen arose from the uncovered cist having
excited such admiration as to make its framers unwilling to hide it.

It does not appear to me to admit of doubt that there is a connexion,
and an intimate one, between these Scythian or Tartar tombs and those
of Europe; but the steps by which the one grew out of the other, and
the time when it took place, can only be determined when we have
more certain information regarding them than we now possess. It is
important, however, to observe that, if they are the original models
or congeners of the tumuli of the Western world, they are not of the
dolmens or circles, except in such an indirect way as in the last
example quoted from Haxthausen; nor are they of our menhirs, for all
the stones we know of are carved as completely as the babas (woodcut
No. 194); and we know literally of no rude stones connected with them,
nor do we find any attempt in Scythia to produce effect by masses in
unhewn stone, which is the fundamental idea that governed their use in

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: 198. Circle near Peshawur. From a photograph.]

We tread on surer ground when we reach the Caubul valley, not that
many proofs of it have yet been published, but the quantity of tumuli,
topes, and similar monuments,[527] render it certain that circles and
dolmens will be found there when looked for. Only one typical example
has been published, but Sir Arthur Phayre, to whom we owe it, heard
of other similar monuments existing in the neighbourhood. Fourteen of
the stones composing this circle are still standing, and the tallest
are about 11 feet in height, but others are lying on the ground more
or less broken. The circle is about 50 feet in diameter, and there are
appearances of an outer circle of smaller stones at a distance of about
50 to 60 feet from the inner one. The natives have no tradition about
its erection, except the same myth which we find in Somersetshire, that
a wedding party, passing over the plain, were turned into stone by some
powerful magician.[528]

[Illustration: 199. Circle at Deb Ayeh, near Darabgerd.]

At present, these Eusufzaie circles, and those described by Sir
William Ouseley at Deli Ayeh,[529] are almost the only examples we
have to bridge over the immense gulf that exists between the Eastern
and Western dolmen regions. Even the last, however, is only a frail
prop for a theory, inasmuch as we have only a drawing of it by Sir
W. Ouseley, who, in his description, says: "I can scarcely think the
arrangement of these stones wholly, though it may be partly, natural
or accidental." Coupled with the stone represented as figure 13 on
the same plate, in Sir William Ouseley's work, I feel no doubt about
these belonging to the class of rude-stone monuments, but we must
know of more examples and more about them before we can reason with
confidence regarding them. Another example, which certainly appears to
be artificial, is recorded by Chardin. In travelling between Tabriz
and Miana, he observed on his left hand several circles of hewn
stones, which his companions informed him had been placed there by the
Caous--the giants of the Kaianian dynasty. "The stones," he remarks,
"are so large, that eight men could hardly move one of them, yet they
must have been brought from quarries in the hills, the nearest of which
is twenty miles distant."[530] Numerous travellers must have passed
that way since, but no one has observed these stones. It does not,
however, follow that they are not still there, and hundreds of others
besides; but while all this uncertainty prevails, it is obviously most
unsafe to speculate on the manner in which any connexion may have taken
place. It may turn out that the intervening country is full of dolmens,
or it may be that practically we know all that is to be learned on
the subject, but till this is ascertained, any theory that may be
broached must be open to correction, perhaps even to refutation. It is
not, however, either useless or out of place to make such suggestions
as those contained in the last few pages. They turn attention to
subjects too liable to be overlooked, but which are capable of easy
solution when fairly examined, while their truth or falsehood does not
practically in any essential degree affect the main argument. The age
and uses of the Indian dolmens, as of the European examples, must be
determined from the internal evidence they themselves afford. Each must
stand or fall from its own strength or weakness. It would of course
be interesting if a connexion between the two can be established, and
we could trace the mode and time when it took place, but it is not
necessarily important. If anyone cares to insist that there was no
connexion between the two, he deprives himself of one of the principal
points of interest in the whole enquiry, but does not otherwise affect
the argument either as to their age or use. But of all this we shall be
in a better position to judge when we have gone through the evidence
detailed in the next chapter.

    [Footnote 507: Genesis xxviii. 18; xxxv. 14.]

    [Footnote 508: Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.' v. 6.]

    [Footnote 509: Joshua iv. 2 to 8. There is some mistake in the
    9th verse; either it is a mistranslation or the verse is an
    interpolation. It is to be hoped that the Revisers will look to it.]

    [Footnote 510: Exodus iv. 25; Joshua v. 3.]

    [Footnote 511: Herodotus (ii. 86) mentions that, in his day, the
    Egyptians, after extracting the brain with an iron instrument,
    cut open the body they intended to embalm with an Ethiopic stone,
    and Sir Gardner Wilkinson ('Ancient Egyptians,' iii. 262) found
    two flint knives in a tomb which might have been used for such a

    [Footnote 512: Irby and Mangles, 'Travels in Egypt, Nubia, &c.'
    1823, p. 325.]

    [Footnote 513: Colonel Meadows Taylor, in 'Trans. Royal Irish
    Academy,' 1865.]

    [Footnote 514: Genesis, xiii. 18; xiv. 13.]

    [Footnote 515: Gen. xiii. 5.]

    [Footnote 516: 'Journal Royal Geographical Society,' 1868, pp. 243
    _et seq._]

    [Footnote 517: S. Palgrave, 'Central and Eastern Arabia,' i.
    p. 251. These appear to be the same as those mentioned by
    Bonstetten. "Dernièrement encore un missionaire jésuite, le Père
    Kohen, a découvert en Arabie dans le district de Kasim, près
    de Khabb, trois vastes cercles de pierres pareils à celui de
    Stonehenge, et composés chacun de groupes de trilithes d'une grande
    élevation."--_Essai sur les Dolmens_, p. 27.]

    [Footnote 518: One of them has already been given, woodcut No. 25,
    p. 100.]

    [Footnote 519: _Ante_, p. 32.]

    [Footnote 520: Dubois de Montpereux, v. pp. 194 _et seq._ pls. xx.
    to xxv. See also 'Journal Arch. Ass.' xiii. pp. 303 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 521: Dubois de Montpereux, 'Voyage autour du Caucase,'
    i. p. 43. See also two dolmens from drawings by W. Simpson, in
    Waring's 'Stone Monuments,' pl. lx.]

    [Footnote 522: Haxthausen, 'Mémoires sur la Russie,' ii. p. 291.]

    [Footnote 523: 'Voyage,' i. p. 495.]

    [Footnote 524: 'Purchas his Pilgrims,' iii. p. 8.]

    [Footnote 525: These particulars are taken from a Russian work,
    'Recueil d'Antiquités de la Scythie,' 1866. Only one number,
    apparently, was ever published.]

    [Footnote 526: 'Mémoires sur la Russie,' ii. p. 308.]

    [Footnote 527: Introduction to Wilson's 'Ariana Antiqua,' _passim_.]

    [Footnote 528: 'Journal Asiatic Soc. Bengal,' p. i. No. 1, 1870.]

    [Footnote 529: 'Travels in Persia,' ii. p. 124, pl. lv. fig. 14.]

    [Footnote 530: 'Voyages en Perse, &c.,' i. p. 267.]



The number of rude-stone monuments in India is probably as great or
even greater than that of those to be found in Europe, and they are
so similar that, even if they should not turn out to be identical,
they form a most important branch of this enquiry. Even irrespective,
however, of these, the study of the history of architecture in India is
calculated to throw so much light on the problems connected with the
study of megalithic monuments in the West that, for that cause alone it
deserves much more attention than it has hitherto received.

No one, it is presumed, will now be prepared to dispute the early
civilization at least of the northern parts of India. Whether the
Aryans crossed the Indus three thousand years B.C., as I
believe, or two thousand B.C., as others contend, is of little
consequence to our present purposes. It is generally understood that
the Vedas were compiled or reduced to writing thirteen centuries before
Christ, and the Laws of Menu seven or eight hundred years before our
era, and these works betoken a civilization of some standing. Ayodia
was a great prosperous city at the time of the incidents described in
the Ramayana, and Hastinapura when the tragedy of the Mahabharata was
being enacted; and these great events took place probably one or two
thousand years before Christ, or between these two dates. Or to come a
little nearer to our time, all the circumstances depicted in all the
thousand and one legends connected with the life and teaching of Sakya
Muni (623 to 543 B.C.), describe a country with cities and
palaces, and possessing a very high state of civilization; and these
legends are so numerous and so consentaneous that they may fairly be
considered, for this purpose at least, as rising to the dignity of
history. Yet with all this we now know it for a fact that no stone
building or monument of stone now exists in India that was erected
before the time of Asoka, B.C. 250. But, besides negative
proof, we have in the early caves, 150 to 200 B.C., such
manifest proofs of the stone architecture being then a mere transcript
of wooden forms that we know certainly that we have here reached the
very _incunabula_ of a style. Of course it does not follow from this
that the cities before this time may not have been splendid or the
palaces magnificent. In Burmah and Siam the palaces and monasteries
are either wholly or mostly in wood, and these timber erections are
certainly more gorgeous and quite as expensive as the stone buildings
of the West, and the Indians seem to have been content with this less
durable style of architecture till the influence of the Bactrian Greeks
induced them to adopt the clumsier but more durable material of stone
for their buildings.

With such an example before us, ought we to be surprised if the rude
inhabitants of Europe were content with earth and the forms into which
it could be shaped, till the example of the Romans taught them the
use of the more durable and more strongly accentuated material? Nor
will it do to contend that, if our forefathers got this hint from the
Romans, they would have adopted the Roman style of architecture with
it. The Indians certainly did not do so. Their early attempts at stone
architecture are wooden, in the strictest sense, and retained their
wooden forms for two or three centuries almost unchanged, and when
gradually they became more and more appropriate to the newly adopted
material, it was not Greek or foreign forms that they adopted, but
forms of their own native invention. In Asoka's reign we have Greek or
rather Assyrian ornaments in one of his lâts,[531] and something like
a Persepolitan capital in some of the earlier caves,[532] but these
died out, and it is not till after five centuries that we really find
anything like the arts of Bactria at Amravati.[533] As the civilized
race copied their own wooden forms with all the elaborateness of which
wood carving is capable, so the rude race seems to have used the forms
which were appropriate to their status, and which were the only forms
they could appreciate.

Another peculiarity of Indian architecture is worth pointing out here
as tending to modify one of the most generally received dogmas of
Western criticism. In speaking of such monuments as New Grange or the
tombs at Locmariaker, which are roofed by overlapping stones forming
what is technically called a horizontal arch, it is usual to assume
that this must have been done before the invention of the Roman or
radiating arch form. So far as Indian experience goes, this assumption
is by no means borne out. When Kutb u deen wished to signalise his
triumph over the idolaters, he, in 1206 A.D., employed the
Hindus to erect a mosque for him in his recently acquired capital of
Delhi. In the centre of the screen forming the mosque, he designed a
great archway 22 feet span, 53 feet in height, and formed as a pointed
arch of two sides of an equilateral spherical triangle. This was the
usual form of Saracenic openings at Ghazni or Balkh in the beginning
of the thirteenth century, but it was almost beyond the power of the
Hindus to construct it. They did so, however, and it still stands,
though crippled; but all the courses are horizontal, like their own
domes, except two long stones which form the apex of the arch.[534] In
a very few years after this time the Mahommedan conquerors had taught
the subject Hindus to build radiating arches, and every mosque or
Mahommedan building from that time forward is built with arches formed
as we form them; but, except a very few in the reign of the cosmopolite
Akbar, no single Hindu building or temple, even down to the present
time, has an arch in the sense in which we understand the word.

One of the most striking instances of this peculiarity is found in the
province of Guzerat. There are still to be seen the splendid ruins of
the city of Ahmedabad built by the Mahommedan kings of the province
between the years 1411 and 1583.[535] There every mosque and every
building is arched or vaulted according to one system. In the same
province stands the sacred city of Palitana, with its hundreds of
temples, some of a date as early as the eleventh, many built within
the limits of the present century, and some now in the course of
construction; yet, so far as is known, there is not a single arch
within the walls of the city. So it is throughout India: side by
side stand the buildings of the two great sects--those belonging to
the Mahommedans universally arched, those belonging to the Hindus
as certainly avoiding this form of construction. This is the more
remarkable as the moment we cross the frontier of India we find the
arch universally prevalent in Burmah, as early certainly as the tenth
or eleventh century, and in all the forms, round, pointed, and flat,
which we use in the present day.[536] But if we extend our researches
a little farther east, we again come to a country full of the most
wonderful buildings known to exist anywhere, with bridges and viaducts
and vaults; but not one single arch has yet been discovered in the
length and breadth of the kingdom of Cambodia.

All this is no doubt very anomalous and strange, though, if it were
worth while, some of it might be accounted for and explained. This,
however, is not the place for doing so: all that is here required is to
point out the existence of the apparent anomaly, in order that we may
not too hurriedly jump to chronological conclusions from the existence
or absence of arches in any given building.

Another most instructive lesson bearing on our present subject that is
to be derived from the study of Indian antiquities will be found in
that curious but persistent juxtaposition that everywhere prevails of
the highest form of progressive civilization beside the lowest types of
changeless barbarism. Everywhere in India the past is the present, and
the present is the past; not, as is usually assumed, that the Hindu is
immutable--quite the contrary. When contemporary history first dawned
on us, India was Buddhist, and for eight or nine centuries that was the
prevalent religion of the state. There is not now a single Buddhist
establishment in the length and breadth of the land. The religions
which superseded Buddhism were then new, and have ever since been
changing, so that India now contains more religions and more numerous
sects than any portion of the world of the same extent. Even within
the last six centuries one-fifth of the population have adopted the
Mahommedan religion, and are quite prepared to follow any new form of
faith that may be the fashion of the day. But beside all this never
ceasing change, there are tribes and races which remain immutable.

To take one instance among a hundred that might be adduced. Ougein
was a great commercial capital in the days of the Greek. It was the
residence of Asoka, 260 B.C.[537] It was the Ozene of the
Periplus, the capital of the great Vicramaditya in the middle of the
fifth century,[538] and it was the city chosen by Jey Sing for the
erection of one of his great observatories in the reign of Akbar. Yet
almost within sight of this city are to be found tribes of Bhils,
living now as they lived long before the Christian era. They are not
agricultural, hardly pastoral, but live chiefly by the chase. With
their bows and arrows they hunt the wild game as their forefathers did
from time immemorial. They never cared to learn to read or write, and
have no literature of any sort, hardly any tradition. Yet the Bhil was
there before the Brahmin; and the proudest sovereign of Rajpootana
acknowledges the Bhil as lord of the soil, and no new successor to
the throne considers his title as complete till he has received the
tika at the hands of the nomad.[539] If India were a country divided
by high mountain-ranges, or impenetrable forests, or did impassable
deserts anywhere exist, this co-existence of two forms of society might
be accounted for. But the contrary is the case. From the Himalayas to
Cape Comorin, no obstacle exists, nor, so far as we know, ever did
exist, to the freest intercourse between the various races inhabiting
the country. If we may believe the traditions on which the epic of the
Ramayana was founded, armies traversed the length and the breadth of
the land one thousand, it may be two thousand, years before Christ.
The Brahmins carried their arms and their literature to the south at a
very early age. The Buddhists spread everywhere. The Jains succeeded
them. The Mahommedans conquered and settled in Mysore and the Carnatic,
but in vain. The Bhil, the Cole, the Gond, the Toda, and other tribes,
remain as they were, and practise their own rites and follow the
customs of their forefathers as if the stranger had never come among


To turn from these generalities to two instances more directly
illustrative of our European experience. The first is that of the
Khonds, the Druids of the East, worshipping in groves, _priscâ
formidine sacris_, and indulging in human sacrifices and other
unamiable practices of our forefathers.[540] These tribes exist partly
on a range of hills bounding the province of Cuttack on the western
side and partly extend into the plains themselves. Almost within
their boundaries there exists a low range of rocky hills known as
the Udyagiri, in which are found a series of Buddhist caves, many
of them excavated before the Christian era, and as beautiful and as
interesting as any caves in India.[541] A little beyond this are seen
the great tower of the Bobaneswar temple and of the hundred and one
smaller fanes dedicated to the worship of Siva, which was established
here in all its splendour in the seventh century;[542] and a little
farther on, rises on the verge of the ocean the great tower of the
temple of Juggernaut, at Puri, established in the twelfth century for
the worship of that form of Vishnu.[543] Yet in defiance of all this,
in close proximity to the shrines of the gentle ascetic who devoted
his life to the prevention of the shedding of the blood of the meanest
of created beings, in sight of Bobaneswar and Puri, Macpherson tells
us, unconsciously almost repeating the words of Tacitus[544]: "The
Khonds use neither temples nor images in their worship. They cannot
comprehend and regard as absurd the idea of building a house in honour
of a deity, or in the expectation that he will be peculiarly present
in any place resembling a human habitation. Groves kept sacred from
the axe, hoar rocks, the tops of hills, fountains, and the banks of
streams, are in their eyes the fittest places for worship." It was in
these sacred and venerable groves, that annually human victims were
offered up to appease the wrath of the dreaded Tari, and to procure
fertility for the fields. In 1836 we first interfered to put a stop to
this, and before the Mutiny believed we had been successful. Perhaps
we may have been so, but if our strong repressive hand were once
removed, it cannot be doubted but the sacrifices would be instantly
resumed. What the Buddhists and the Brahmins, working during at least
two thousand years, have failed to accomplish, we strangers cannot
expect to succeed in, in a few years, unless indeed we adopt the system
followed by our forefathers, and are determined on extirpating those
who obstinately adhere to such practices. Had it not been that first
the Roman, and then the Celt, by sword and cord set vigorously to
improve the older race, we might now have human sacrifices celebrated
on the plains of Bauce in the neighbourhood of Chartres, and find
people quietly erecting dolmens in the valley of the Dordogne.

The practices, however, of a Claudius or a Simon de Montfort
are repugnant to the feelings of the Indians, and so long as no
political issue is at stake, they rarely interfere with the religious
proclivities of their neighbours.

When from the hills inhabited by the Khonds we cross the delta of the
Ganges in a northerly direction, and come to the Khassia hills, we
find a very different state of things, but equally interesting as an
illustration of our present studies. These hills are situated between
the valley of Assam and the plains of Sylhet, and, rising to a height
of some 5000 to 6000 feet, catch the rains during the south-west
monsoon, and but for this would be one of the most delightful sanitaria
of the Bengal province. A country, however, where 300 inches of rain
fall in three months is, for at least a quarter of the year, an
undesirable abode, and it is difficult also to keep any soil on the
rocks. Throughout the whole of the western portion of the hilly region,
inhabited by tribes bearing the generic name of Khassias, rude-stone
monuments exist in greater numbers than perhaps in any other portion
of the globe of the same extent (woodcut No. 200). All travellers who
have visited the country have been struck with the fact and with the
curious similarity of their forms to those existing in Europe.[545]
So like, indeed, are they that it has long been the fashion to assume
their identity, and it has consequently been often hoped that, if we
could only find out why the Indian examples were erected, we might
discover the motive which guided those in Europe who constructed
similar monuments, while at the same time there seemed every reason for
believing that it would not be difficult to discover the motives which
led to the erection of the Indian examples. The natives make no mystery
about them, and many were erected within the last few years, or are
being erected now, and they are identical in form with those which are
grey with years, and must have been set up in the long forgotten past.
Here, therefore, there seemed a chance of at last solving the mystery
of the great stones. Greater familiarity with them has, however,
rather tended to dispel these illusions.

[Illustration: 200. View in Khassia Hills. By H. Walters.]

The Khassias burn their dead, which is a practice that hardly could
have had its origin in their present abodes, inasmuch as, during three
months in the year, it is impossible, from the rain, to light a fire
out of doors, and consequently, if any one dies during that period, the
body is placed in a coffin, formed from the hollowed trunk of a tree,
and pickled in honey, till a fair day admits of his obsequies being
properly performed.[546] According to Mr. Walters, the urns containing
the ashes are placed in little circular cells, with flat tops like
stools, which exist in the immediate proximity of all the villages, and
are used as seats by the villagers on all state occasions of assembly;
but whether one stool is used for a whole family, or till it is filled
with urns, or whether a new stool is prepared when a great man dies,
has not yet been ascertained.[547]

[Illustration: 201. Khassia Funeral Seats. From Yule.]

The origin of the menhirs is somewhat different. If any of the Khassia
tribe falls ill or gets into difficulties, he prays to some one of
his deceased ancestors, whose spirit he fancies may be able and
willing to assist him. Father or mother, uncle or aunt, or some more
distant relative, may do equally well, and to enforce his prayer, he
vows that, if it is granted, he will erect a stone in honour of the
deceased.[548] This he never fails to perform, and if the cure has been
rapid, or the change in the luck so sudden as to be striking, others
address their prayers to the same person, and more stones are vowed.
It thus sometimes happens that a person, man or woman, who was by no
means remarkable in life, may have five, or seven, or ten--two fives,
for the number must always be unequal--in their honour. The centre
stone generally is crowned by a capital, or turban-like ornament, and
sometimes two are joined together, forming a trilithon, but then they
apparently count as one. Major Austen mentions a set of five being
erected in 1869 on the opposite side of the road to an original set of
the same number with which an old lady had previously been honoured, in
consequence of the services which after her death she had rendered to
her tribe.[549]

[Illustration: 202. Menhirs and Tables. From Schlagintweit.]

[Illustration: 203. Turban Stone, with Stone Table.]

[Illustration: 204. Trilithon.]

The origin of the stone tables or dolmens is not so clearly made out.
Like the tomb stools, they frequently at least seem to be places of
assembly. One, described by Major Austen, measured 30 feet 4 inches by
10 feet in breadth, and had an average thickness of 1 foot; it had
steps to ascend to it; and certainly it looks like a place from which
it would be convenient to address an audience. The great stone of this
monument weighed 23 tons 18 cwt., and another is described as measuring
30 feet by 13 feet, and 1 foot 4 inches in thickness, and others seem
nearly of the same dimensions; and they are frequently raised some
height from the ground, and supported on massive monoliths or pillars.

While this is so, we need not wonder at the masses employed in the
erection of Stonehenge or Avebury, or any of our European monuments.
Physically the Khassias are a very inferior race to what we can
conceive our forefathers ever to have been. Their stage of civilization
is barely removed from that of mere savages, and their knowledge of the
mechanical arts is of the most primitive description. Add to all this
that their country is mountainous and rugged in the highest degree. Yet
with all these disadvantages they move these great stones and erect
them with perfect facility, while we are lost in wonder because our
forefathers did something nearly equal to it some fourteen centuries

There are apparently no circles and no alignments on the hills, nor
any of the forms which in the previous pages we have ascribed to
battle-fields, and no tumuli nor any of their derivatives, and no
sculptured stones of any sort. The real likeness, therefore, between
the two forms of art is not so striking as it appears at first sight,
but still presents coincidences that it is impossible to overlook.

One of the most curious points which an examination of these two Indian
tribes brings to light with reference to the European congeners is that
in Cuttack we have sacred groves, human sacrifices, an all-powerful
priesthood indulging in divination, and various other peculiarities,
all savouring of Druidism, but not one upright stone or stone monument
of any sort. In the Khassia hills, on the other hand, we have dolmens,
menhirs, trilithons, and most of the forms of rude-stone architecture,
but no dominant priesthood, no human sacrifices, no groves, nor
anything savouring of the Druidical religion.

To the European student the most interesting fact connected with the
monuments on the Khassia hills is probably their date. We do not know
how far back they extend, but we do know that many were erected within
the limits of the present century, and some within the last few years.
Yet this has taken place in presence of, and in immediate contact with,
two far higher forms of civilization.

At the foot of the Khassia hills, to the north, lies the famous Hindu
kingdom of Kamarupa. How far it extends back to, we do not know,
but its foundation was certainly anterior to the Christian era;
and when Hiouen Thsang visited it in the beginning of the seventh
century, he found it rich and prosperous, and containing "temples by
hundreds."[550] And now, in the jungles, ruins are continually being
discovered of temples not so old perhaps as this date, but showing
continued prosperity down to a far later period. All these temples are
richly and elaborately carved and ornamented with that exuberance of
detail characteristic of Hindu architecture.

At the foot of the southern slope of the hills lies Sylhet. When it
became great, we do not know, but it certainly was occupied by the
Mahommedans some centuries ago, and adorned with mosques and palaces
and all that magnificence in which the Moslems indulged in the East.
Yet the Khassia looks down on these new forms of civilization unmoved.
As a servant or a trader he must have been for centuries familiar
with both: but he clings to his old faith, and erects his rude-stone
monuments, as his forefathers had done from time immemorial, and it is
doubtful whether either our soldiers or our missionaries will soon wean
him from this strange form of adoration.

Surely all this is sufficient to make us pause before arguing from our
own European experiences, or deciding questions when so few facts have
hitherto been available on which to base any sound conclusions.


On the other side of India there are some groups of rude-stone
monuments similar to those found in the Khassia hills, and apparently
erected for similar purposes. They are, however, much less perfectly
known, and are described or at least drawn by only one traveller.[551]
The most conspicuous of these is one near Belgaum. It consists of
two rows of thirteen stones each, and one in front of them of three
stones--the numbers being always uneven, as in Bengal--and on the
opposite side four of those small altars, or tables, which always
accompany these groups of stones on the Khassia hills. These, however,
are very much smaller, the central stone being only about 4 feet high,
and falling off to about a foot in height at the end of each row.[552]
Whether they were or were not dedicated to the same purpose, Colonel
Leslie does not inform us; but their resemblance is so marked that
there seems very little doubt that they were dedicated or vowed to the
spirits of deceased ancestors.

Another class of circular fanes looks at first sight more promising as
a means of comparison with ours. Generally they seem to consist of one
or three stones, in front of which a circular space--in the largest
instance 40 feet in diameter, but more generally 20 to 30 feet only--is
marked out by a number of small stones, from 8 to 20 inches in height,
while the great central stones are only 3 feet high. To compare these,
therefore, with our great megalithic monuments seems rather absurd.
So far as can be made out, the central stone seems to represent a
local village deity, called Vetal or Betal, who, like Nadzu Pennu, the
village god, one of the inferior deities of the Khonds, is familiarly
represented merely by a rude-stone, placed under a tree.[553] In the
instance of Vetal, it seems when a sacrifice--generally of a cock--is
to be made, all those who are interested bring their own stones, and
arrange them, in a circular fashion, round the place where the ceremony
is to be performed; hence the superficial likeness. None, so far as is
known, are ancient, nor indeed has it at all been made out when and how
the worship of this deity arose. It is evidently a local superstition
of some of the indigenous tribes, which latterly under our tolerant
rule has become more prominent, for the sect is hated and despised by
the Brahmins; and so far as facts are concerned, it would be difficult
to carry back the history of this form of architecture for a hundred
years from this time. It may be older, but there is nothing to show
that it is so.

So far as the monuments above mentioned are concerned, there seems
nothing in them that affords a real analogy or establishes any direct
connexion between the European and Indian examples. The sacrifice of
a cock to Vetal, when in sickness, looks like a similar sacrifice to
Esculapius, and the human sacrifices and sacred groves of the Khonds
are very Druidical in appearance; but no one probably will be found to
contend that Vetal and Esculapius are the same god, or that the Khonds
are Celts; and without this being established, the argument halts.
The case, however, seems different when we turn to the sepulchral
arrangements of the aboriginal tribes of India. Here the analogies are
so striking that it is hard to believe that they are accidental, though
equally hard to understand how and when the intercourse could have
taken place which led to their similarity.

[Illustration: 205. Dolmen at Rajunkoloor. From a drawing by Colonel
Meadows Taylor.]

[Illustration: 206. Plan of Open Dolmen at Rajunkoloor.]

[Illustration: 207. Closed Dolmen at Rajunkoloor.]

[Illustration: 208. View of Closed Dolmen at Rajunkoloor.]

As in Europe, the sepulchral monuments of India may be divided into
two great classes--the dolmens and the tumuli. In the present state
of our knowledge it is difficult to say which are the more numerous.
According to Colonel Meadows Taylor,[554] who is our best authority
on the subject, the dolmens are of two kinds--those consisting of four
stones, that is to say, three supporting stones and one cap-stone--thus
leaving one side open--and those in which the chamber is closed by a
fourth stone; in the latter case this fourth stone has invariably a
circular opening in it, like the Circassian examples (woodcuts Nos.
192, 193), and the dolmen at Trie (No. 127). These forms are both shown
in woodcut No. 205, representing two at Rajunkoloor, in the province
of Sholapore, between the Bheema and Kistnah, near their junction. The
side-stones of the larger monument measure 15 feet 3 inches by 9 feet
in height, and more than 1 foot in thickness. The cap-stone is 15 feet
9 inches by 10 feet 9 inches, and the internal space 8 feet by 6 feet,
the third slab being placed at some distance from the rear, and between
the two side-stones. The same arrangement is followed in the closed
dolmen, the cross slabs being inside, as shown in the view (woodcut No.
208), and plan (woodcut No. 207). The interior of the closed dolmen
contained a little black mould on the surface. Below this a greyish
white earth, brought from a distance, with which were found human ashes
and portions of bones and charcoal mixed, and pieces of broken pottery,
red and black. These rested on the solid rock on which the dolmen was
erected. Nothing whatever was found in any of the open dolmens; but
whether this arose from their being plundered, or from being exposed,
is not clear. It could hardly have been that they were not sepulchral.
They seem at least to be mixed up indiscriminately with the others,
and except their being open, there is nothing to distinguish them. The
arrangement of these dolmens in plan is peculiar. As will be seen from
the next woodcut (No. 209), they are as regular as in our cemeteries,
and apparently in certain directions would have gone on extending _ad
infinitum_; but in another direction are cairns irregularly spaced, and
showing a distinction in the mode of burying which at present it is
difficult to account for.

At a place in the Raichore Doab, called Yemmee Gooda, four of the
dolmens of the first class were surrounded by double circles of stones;
but this does not seem to be a usual arrangement.

[Illustration: 209. Arrangement of Dolmens at Rajunkoloor. By Colonel
Meadows Taylor.]

Almost more interesting than the dolmens are the cairns. The following
plan of the group at Jewurgi, a place fifty miles, as the crow flies,
north-east from Rajunkoloor, will explain their arrangement and
juxtaposition. They, too, seem to divide themselves into two classes,
as shown in the two sections--those with a summit-cist, like those in
Auvergne, and those without; all, however, apparently have single and
double circles of stones surrounding them. Two stones are generally
found protruding slightly through the surface of the tumulus, and when
an excavation is made between them, the cist is found laid in their
direction at a depth of 9 to 10 feet below the surface. This seems to
be generally double, and contains skeletons laid on their faces. At
one end, but outside the cist, are quantities of pottery, and above
the cist a number of skeletons, thrown in pellmell, and over these a
thick layer of earth and gravel. Detached heads are found sometimes
in the cists, sometimes outside among the pottery, which led Colonel
Taylor to the conclusion that human sacrifices had been practised at
the time these cairns were raised, and that these are the remains of
the wives or slaves of the defunct. It may be so, but it may also be
that, as in Europe, we must make a distinction between battle-fields
and cemeteries; and I confess the idea that the cairns at Jewurgi mark
a battle-field, and the dolmens at Rajunkoloor a cemetery, appears to
account for the phenomena better than the other hypothesis. If this is
not so, as the distance between Rajunkoloor and Jewurgi is only fifty
miles, we must assume either that the district was inhabited by two
different races of men at the same time, practising different modes of
sepulture, or we must concede that the one is older than the other, and
that the one race had been dispossessed and was succeeded by the other.
The difficulties attending either of these suppositions appear to me
infinitely greater than those involved in assuming that the one is a
battle-field, the other a cemetery. The only thing that would make me
hesitate about this is the presence of several cairns at Rajunkoloor.
These, however, do not appear to have been opened, and we do not
consequently know whether the same instances of decapitation were to
be found, or whether the bodies were arranged in the same manner as at

[Illustration: 210. Cairns at Jewurgi. By Colonel Meadows Taylor.]

[Illustration: 211. Section of Cairn at Jewurgi.]

[Illustration: 212. Section of Cairn at Jewurgi.]

Be this as it may, if these sections are to be depended on, it appears
to be tolerably certain that these tombs cannot be old. It seems
impossible that human bones could remain so entire and perfect as these
are represented to be, so near the surface and in a recently disturbed
soil, where rain and moisture must easily have penetrated at all times.
A medical man on the spot might determine whether two or three or five
centuries have elapsed since these bodies were laid where they are
found; but I should be very much surprised if he raised their date
beyond the last named figure. It is hazardous, however, to pronounce on
such questions from the scanty data we have before us.

There is still another class of dolmens, or rather kistvaens, common
on the Nilgiri hills and throughout the hill region of Malabar. In it
the chamber is formed like those described above, but always buried
in the earth, only showing the cap-stone flush with the surface of
the soil. One of these, in the Coorg country, is worth quoting, from
its possessing two circular apertures, like those of the Plas Newydd
tumulus (woodcut No. 48). This one, however, has a diaphragm dividing
it into two chambers. If the Welsh one was so partitioned, the wall has

[Illustration: 213. Double Dolmen, Coorg.[555]]

[Illustration: 214. Tomb, Nilgiri Hills. From a drawing by Sir Walter

One other class of monument must be quoted, not as illustrating any
of our examples, but because it is so nearly identical with the
chouchas[556] of Northern Africa (woodcut No. 165), and when we try to
find out whether there was any real connexion between the East and the
West, such examples may afford valuable flints. According to Sir Walter
Elliot,[557] they are the commonest, or rather, perhaps, the most
conspicuous, being perched on the tops of hills or ridges. Their form
is a circular wall of uncemented rough stones, 4 to 5 feet high, 3 feet
thick, and 6 to 8 feet in diameter.

[Illustration: 215. Sepulchral Circles at Amravati.]

One other variety is interesting, not only from its similarity to
those in Europe, especially in Scandinavia, but also from its bearing
on the question of the age of those in India. The sepulchres of this
class are all very like one another, and consist of small circles
of rude stones, generally of two dimensions only, 24 and 32 feet in
diameter, and have something like an opening on one side, and opposite
this two or three stones within the circle, apparently marking the
position of the sepulchral deposit.[558] Monuments very similar to
these exist in the Nilgiri hills, and elsewhere in India,[559] but
they are principally found at the roots of the hills round Amravati,
where they exist literally in hundreds. No one, probably, who studies
Colonel Mackenzie's map of that district[560] will doubt that they form
the cemetery of the city of Dharani Kotta, to which the Amravati Tope
is attached. As in China, burying in the fertile land was not allowed,
and consequently the place selected for the graves of the inhabitants
was the nearest uncultivated spot, which was the foot of the hills.
So far as is at present known, these circular graves exist nowhere in
such numbers as here, and it can hardly be doubted but that they have
some connexion with the great circular rail of the Amravati Tope. That
rail is unique in India, whether we consider its extent, the beauty of
its sculptures, or the elaborateness of its finish. Other rails exist
elsewhere surrounding dagobas or sacred spots, but none where the
circle itself is relatively so much greater and more magnificent than
the surrounding objects. The question thus arises, did the Amravati
circle grow out of the rude-stone graves that cluster round the hills
in its neighbourhood, or are the rude circles humble copies of that
pride of the city? I have myself no doubt that the latter is the true
explanation of the phenomena; but the grounds for this conclusion
will be clearer as we proceed. Meanwhile it is hardly worth while
enumerating all the smaller varieties of form which the rude-stone
sepulchres of the Indians took in former days. Their numbers in many
classes are few, and have no direct bearing on the subject of our


Nothing would tend more to convey clear ideas on the subject of
Indian dolmens than a map of their distribution, were it possible to
construct one. As, however, no nation even in Europe, except France,
is in a position to attempt such a thing, it is in vain to expect
that sufficient information for the purpose should exist in India,
where the subject has been taken up only so recently in so sporadic
a manner.[561] The following sketch, however, is perhaps not very
far from the truth regarding them. They do not exist in the valley
of the Ganges, or of any of its tributaries, nor in the valleys of
the Nerbudda or Taptee; not, in fact, in that part of India which is
generally described as north of the Vindhya range of hills. They exist,
though somewhat sparsely, over the whole of the country drained by
the Godavery and its affluents. They are very common, perhaps more
frequent than in any other part of India, in the valleys of the Kistnah
and its tributaries. They are also found on both sides of the Ghâts,
through Coimbatore, all the way down to Cape Comorin; and they are also
found in groups all over the Madras presidency, but especially in the
neighbourhood of Conjeveran.

The first inference one is inclined to draw from this is that they must
be Dravidian, as contradistinguished from Aryan; and it may be so.
But against this view we have the fact that all the races at present
dominant in the south repudiate them: none use similar modes of burial
now, nor do any object to our digging them up and destroying them.

If we look a little deeper, we come to a race of Karumbers, to whom
Sir Walter Elliot is inclined to ascribe the bulk of the rude-stone
monuments.[562] From his own researches, and the various documents
contained in the Mackenzie MSS.,[563] they seem to have been a powerful
race in the south of India, from the earliest times to which our
knowledge extends, and to have continued powerful about Conjeveran
and Madras till say the tenth or eleventh centuries, when they were
overpowered by the Cholas, and finally disappear from the political
horizon before the rising supremacy of that triumvirate of powers, the
Chola, Chera, Pandya, who governed the south till the balance of power
was disturbed by the Mahommedan and Maharatta invasions.

A wretched remnant of these Karumbers still exists on the Nilgiri
hills, and about the roots of the western Ghâts, but without a
literature or a history, or even traditions that would enable us to
identify or distinguish them from any of the other races of the south.
The only test that seems capable of application is that of language,
and this philologers have determined to be a dialect of the Dravidian
tongues.[564] But, in such a case as this, language is a most unsafe
guide. Within recent times the Cornish have changed their language
without any alteration of race, and if intercommunication goes on
at its present rate, English, in a century or two, may be the only
language spoken in these islands. From the names of places we would
know that Celtic races had inhabited many localities, but from the
tongue of the people we should not know now that the Cornish, or then
that the Welsh, were more Celtic than the inhabitants of Yorkshire or
the Lothians. So in India nothing seems more likely than that, during
the last eight or ten centuries, the Tamulian or Dravidian influence
should have spread northward to the Vindhya, and that the Gonds, the
Karumbers, and other subject half-civilized races, should have adopted
the language of their conquerors and masters. It may be otherwise, but
we know certainly that the southern Dravidians brought their style of
architecture--as difficult a thing to change almost as language--as far
north as Ellora, and carved the imperishable rocks there, in the eighth
or ninth century, in the style that was indigenous at Tanjore;[565] and
this, too, for the purpose of marking their triumph over the religion
of Buddha, which they had just succeeded in abolishing in the south.

If this is so, there are still two distinguishing features which may
help us to discriminate between the candidates for the rude-stone
monuments. The true Dravidians--the Chola, Chera, Pandya--never were
Buddhists, and never put forward a claim to have erected any monuments
of this class. The Karumbers were Buddhists, and claim these monuments;
and Buddhism and such structures must, I fancy, for reasons to be given
hereafter, always have gone together.

Further researches may enable us to speak with precision on the
subject, but all we can at present do is to except, first, the Aryans
of the north, and all the people incorporated with them, from the
charge of being builders of rude-stone monuments. We must also except
the Tamulians or pure Dravidians of the south. But between these two
there must have been some race, whom, for the present at least, we may
call Karumbers. One of their centres of power was Conjeveran, but from
that they were driven, as far as I can make out, about the year 750.
But it does not appear that they might not have existed as a power on
the banks of the Upper Kistnah and Tongabudra to a much later period.

The limits of the Chalukya kingdom, which arose at Kalyan early in the
seventh century,[566] and of that of Vijianagara, which was established
in the Tongabudra in the fourteenth, are so nearly coincident with the
limits of the dolmen region--except where the latter was compressed on
the north by the Mahommedan kingdom of Beejapore--that it seems most
probable that there must have been a homogeneity among the people of
that central province of which we have now lost the trace.

This, however, like many other questions of the sort, must be postponed
till we know something of the Nizam's country. In so far as the history
or ethnography of the central plateau of India is concerned, or its
arts or architecture, the Nizam's dominions are absolutely a _terra
incognita_. No one has visited the country who had any knowledge of
these subjects, and the Indian Government has done nothing to enquire,
or to stimulate enquiry, into these questions in that country. Yet, if
I am not very much mistaken, the solution of half the difficulties,
ethnological or archæological, that are now perplexing us lies on the
surface of that region, for anyone who will take the trouble to read
them. Till this is done, we must, it is feared, be content with the
vaguest generalities; but even now I fancy we are approaching a better
state of knowledge in these matters, and I almost believe I can trace
a connexion between our so-called Karumbers and the Singalese, which,
if it can be sustained, will throw a flood of light on some of the most
puzzling questions of Indian ethnography.


A glimmering of light seemed to be thrown on this subject by a passage
quoted by Sir Walter Elliot from a missionary report from Travancore,
in which it was stated that an Indian tribe still continued to bury
in "cromlechs," like those of Coimbatore, "constructed with four
stones and a covering one."[567] If this were so, we might have got
hold of one end of a thread which would lead us backwards through the
labyrinth. It looked so like a crucial instance that Mr. Walhouse
kindly wrote to Mr. Baker, the author of the report in question, and
sent me an extract from his reply, which is curious. "The M[a]la
Arryians are a race of men dwelling in dense jungles and hills.
Cromlechs are common among them, and they worship the spirits of their
ancestors, to whom they make annual offerings. At the present day they
are accustomed to take corpses into the sacred groves, and place small
slabs of stones, in the form of a box, and, after making offerings
of arrack, sweetmeats, &c., to the departed spirit, supposed to be
hovering near, a small stone is placed in the model box or vault, and
it is covered over with great ceremony. The spirit is supposed to dwell
in the stone, which in many cases is changed at the annual feast into
a rough silver or brass figure." As Mr. Walhouse remarks, this looks
like an echo from megalithic times. The people, having lost the power
of erecting such huge structures as abound in their hills and on the
plains around, from which they may have been driven at some early
period, are content still to keep up the traditions of a primæval usage
by these miniature shams. There seems little doubt that this is the
case, and it is especially interesting to have observed it here, as it
accounts for what has often puzzled Indian antiquaries. In Coorg and
elsewhere, miniature urns and miniature utensils, such as one sees used
as toys in European nurseries, are often found in these tombs, and have
given rise to a tradition among the natives that they belong to a race
of pigmies: whereas it is evident that it is only a dying out of an
ancient faith, when, as is so generally the case, the symbol supersedes
the reality.

The articles found in the cairns and dolmens in India unfortunately
afford us very little assistance in determining their age. The pottery
that is found in quantities in them everywhere, is to all appearances,
identical in form, in texture, and in glaze with the pottery of the
present day. No archaic forms have, so far as I know, been found
anywhere, nor anything that would indicate a progression. This might be
used as an argument to prove how modern they were. In India, however,
it would be most unsafe to do so. We have no knowledge as to how long
ago these forms were introduced into or invented in that country, and
no reason to suppose that they would change and progress as ours do. So
far as our present knowledge extends, the pottery found in these tombs
may have been made within the last few centuries, but it may also be a
thousand or two thousand years old for anything we know to the contrary.

The same remarks apply to the gold and silver ornaments and generally
to the trinkets found in the tombs. Similar objects may be picked up in
the bazaars in remote districts at the present day, but they may also
have been in use in the time of Alexander the Great. Iron spear-heads
and iron utensils of the most modern shape and pattern are among the
commonest objects found in these tombs; and if anyone were arguing for
victory, and not for the truth, these might be adduced to prove that
the tombs belonged to what the Germans call "the youngest Iron age."
This reasoning has no application whatever to India. Flint implements
are found there, and very similar to those of Europe, but never in the
tombs. Bronze was probably known to the Indians at a remote age, but
no bronze implements have been buried with the dead so far as we yet
know, though iron has been, and that frequently; but its presence tells
us nothing as to age. So far we know, the Indians were as familiar
with the use of iron in the fourth century B.C. as the Greeks
themselves were, and, for anything we know to the contrary, may have
understood the art of extracting it from the ore and using it for arms
and cutting-tools before these arts were practised in Europe.

[Illustration: 216. Iron Pillar at the Kutub, Delhi. From a

One of the most curious and interesting illustrations of this is
found in the existence of the celebrated iron pillar of Dhava, in the
courtyard of the mosque at the Kutub, near Delhi. This consists of
a solid shaft of wrought iron, standing 22 feet 6 inches out of the
ground and is 5 feet 6 inches in circumference at about 5 feet from
its base. When I visited it, the report was that Colonel Baird Smith
had dug down and found its base 16 feet below the surface. Lieutenant
Cole[568] now brings home a report that it is 26 feet deep in the
ground. Taking, however, the more moderate dimension, a single forging
nearly 40 feet long and 5 feet circumference was not made, and could
not have been made, in any country of Europe before the introduction
of steam-machinery, nor, indeed, before the invention of the Nasmyth

There is an inscription on the pillar which, unfortunately, bears no
date; but from the form of the characters, the nature of the event it
describes,[569] coupled with the architecture of the capital of the
pillar, it leaves no doubt that it was erected in the third or fourth
century of our era.

It must be left to those practically skilled in the working of metals
to explain how any human being could work in close proximity to such
a mass heated to a welding heat, or how it was possible without
steam-machinery to manipulate so enormous a bar of iron. The question
that interests us here is, how long must the Hindus have been familiar
with the use of iron and the mode of working it before they could
conceive the idea of such a monument and carry it into execution? It
could hardly have been centuries, it must have been nearer thousands of
years, and yet they erect rude-stone monuments in India at the present

One other instance, at the lower end of the scale, may be quoted as
also bearing directly on this subject. Of all the people of India the
Khassias are probably the most expert in extracting iron from its ores
and manufacturing it when made; and their mode of doing this is so
original, and, though rude, so effective, that there can be no doubt
that it is the result of long experience among themselves.[571] They
have, in fact, practised the art from time immemorial; yet though
possessing iron tools for, it may be, thousands of years, they at
the present day adhere to the practice of using rude unhewn-stone
monuments, like the Jews, in preference to those "which any iron tool
had touched at any time."[572] Nor can it be argued that they do
this because they do not know better. As just mentioned, at any time,
certainly within the last thousand years, they might have seen the
Buddhist or Hindu stonemasons of Kamarupa erecting the most elaborately
carved stone temples, and can now see the domes of the mosques which
the Mahommedans erected in the cities of Sylhet three or four centuries

[Illustration: 217. Sculpture on under side of Cap-stone of a Nilgiri

Although it thus happens that all these _à priori_ reasonings and
mistaken analogies, drawn from our own progressive state, which are so
familiar to European antiquaries, break down at once when applied to
India, still there are a few indications from which approximate dates
may be obtained, and many more could, no doubt, be found if looked
for. One of these is, that the greater number of the dolmens of the
Nilgiri hills are sculptured; but only one of the drawings on them, so
far as I know, has been published,[573] and though it is ungracious to
say so, I fear that it is not a very faithful representation. It is,
however, sufficiently so to enable us to recognise at once a similarity
to a class of monuments very common in the plains. These are called
Viracull, if destined to commemorate men or heroes, and Masteecull if
erected in honour of women who sacrifice themselves on their husband's
funereal pile. Colonel Mackenzie collected drawings of more than one
hundred of these, which are now in the India Office, and photographs of
many others have been made but not published.

The similarity in the costume and style of art displayed in the
preceding woodcut with that of the memorial stones leaves little or
no doubt of their being approximately of the same age. As most of the
memorial stones are inscribed and their dates at least approximately
known, if the identity can be established the date of the dolmens can
also be determined. Till, however, some one will take the trouble of
photographing the cairns, so as to enable us to compare them with the
standing stones, no certainty can be obtained; but as none of the
sculptured stones go back a thousand years, and those most like the
woodcut cannot claim five centuries of antiquity, these sculptured
cairns in the Nilgiris cannot be so very old as is sometimes assumed.

[Illustration: 218. Dolmen at Iwullee. From a photograph.]

The second instance is curious and instructive. In the centre of the
courtyard of a now ruined Sivite temple at Iwullee, in Dharwar, in the
very centre of the dolmen country, now stands a regular tripod dolmen
of the usual shape (woodcut No. 218). The question is, how got it
there? No one who knows anything of India will, I presume, argue that
the Brahminical followers of Siva would erect the sanctuary of their
god in front of the tomb of one of the despised aboriginal tribes,
if still reverenced by them, or would have neglected to utilize
it if neglected. One of two things therefore only seems possible.
Either a Korumber, or native chief of some denomination, stipulated
that on his conversion to the faith of the Brahmins, if he erected a
temple in honour of his newly-adopted god, he should be allowed to be
buried, "more majorum," in the courtyard. This is possible, but hardly
probable. It seems more likely that, after the temple was desecrated
and neglected, some native thought the spot fit and appropriate for
his last resting-place, and was buried there accordingly. From its
architecture, there is no doubt that the age of the temple may be
carried back as far as the thirteenth century, but it more probably
belongs to the fourteenth. According to the first hypothesis, the age
of the dolmen would be that of the temple; according to the second,
one, two, or three centuries more modern.

[Illustration: 219. Stone Monuments at Shahpoor.]

A third indirect piece of evidence is derived from Colonel Meadows
Taylor's paper in the 'Irish Transactions.' He represents a tolerably
extensive group of these monuments as placed immediately outside the
city gate at Shahpoor, and from what he says of them they are evidently
of the same age as the other examples he quotes. From their position
and arrangement, it does not seem doubtful that they are the usual
extramural cemetery so generally attached to Indian cities, and they
are, in fact, subsequent in date to the erection of the gate in front
of which they are placed. The gateway, I learn from a letter from
Colonel Meadows Taylor, undoubtedly belongs to the Mahommedan period.
It is a regular arch, of the usual pointed form, and consequently
subsequent to 1347 A.D., when the Bahmany dynasty first
established themselves in this quarter. This being so, the masons who
built the gate would certainly have utilized the tombs of the pagans
had they existed previously. They must, therefore, be subsequent to
the gate; and as it cannot be five centuries old, we have a limit to
their age beyond which we cannot go.

[Illustration: 220. Cross at Katapur. From a photograph.]

Our next example is still more curious and interesting. In the cold
weather of 1867-8, Mr. Mulheran, when attached to the Trigonometrical
Survey of India, came accidentally across a great group of "cromlechs,"
situated on the banks of the Godavery, near Nirmul, about halfway
between Hyderabad and Nagpore, in Central India. Some of these he
photographed, and sent an account of them to the Asiatic Society of
Bengal,[574] from which the following particulars are gleaned. "The
majority of the cromlechs consist of a number of upright stones,
sunk in the ground in the form of a square, and covered with one
or two large slabs of sandstone. In some two bodies appear to have
been interred, and in others only one. The crosses are found in the
neighbourhood of Malúr and Katapur, two villages on the Nizam's side
of the river. The crosses at Katapur (woodcut No. 220) are, with one
exception, uninjured. All are situated to the right of the cromlechs
near which they have been erected. Judging from the one lying exposed
at Malúr, they are all above 10 feet in length, although only 6 to
7 feet appear above ground. They all consist of one stone, and are
all of the latest form. No information of any kind could be obtained
regarding the people by whom the crosses or cromlechs were erected.
There can be no doubt, however, that the crosses are memorials of the
faith of Christians buried in their vicinity." Close by is a cave,
before which a cross was erected, which Mr. Mulheran assumes was thrown
down by the Brahmins when they took possession of it; and he adds, "I
enclose a note from Captain Glasfurd, who sent a packet of implements,
rings, and utensils, found in two of the cromlechs he opened, to the
Asiatic Society." No such packet, however, ever arrived, and we are,
therefore, left to his photographs and descriptions from which to draw
our conclusions.

[Illustration: 221. Dolmen at Katapur. From a photograph.]

[Illustration: 222. Dolmen with Cross in Nirmul Jungle.]

In the first place, I think it can hardly be doubted that the crosses
are Christian emblems; and secondly, that the cromlechs and crosses
are of the same date. Their juxtaposition and whole appearance render
escape from this conclusion apparently inevitable. The question,
therefore, is, when could any community of native Christians have
existed in India who would bury in dolmens and use the cross as their
emblems? Their distance from the coast and the form of the cross seem
at once to cut them off from all connexion with St. Thomas's mission
or that of the early apostles, even assuming that the records of
these are authentic. My impression is that this form of cross was not
introduced as an out-of-doors self-standing sign till, say, the sixth
or seventh century.[575] On the other hand, it is extremely improbable
that any such community could have existed after the Mahommedan
invasion at the end of the thirteenth century. Between these limits
we know that the Nestorians had establishments as far east as China,
and extending in a continuous chain westward as far at least as the
Caspian;[576] and there seems to be no difficulty in assuming that,
between the seventh and the thirteenth centuries a form of Taiping
Christianity may have been introduced from the north and established
itself extensively in the western and central parts of India, but,
owing allegiance only to the potentate we know of as Prester John,
may have entirely escaped the knowledge of the Western world. Besides
helping to fix the date of the dolmens in India, this discovery opens
out a wide field for those who would investigate the early history of
the Christian Church in India. There can be little doubt that this
group is not solitary. Many more will be found, when people open their
eyes and look for them. Meanwhile it is a curious illustration of the
policy of Pope Gregory in his advice to Abbot Mellitus, alluded to
in the Introduction (page 21). It is the same thing as the dolmen at
Kerland (woodcut No. 131), and that at Arrichinaga (woodcut No. 161),
repeated in the centre of India, though probably at a somewhat later

       *       *       *       *       *

There is still another point of view from which these Indian monuments
may be regarded, so as to throw considerable light on the history
of their analogues in Europe, and perhaps to modify to some extent
our preconceived views regarding their history. In Ceylon there is a
class of dagoba, which, in some respects, is peculiar to the island.
Two of these will suffice for our present purposes, both in the city
of Anuradhapura, which was the capital of the country from about
B.C. 400 till the eleventh century. The first of these,
the Thupa Ramayana, was erected B.C. 161; the second, the
Lanka Ramayana, A.D. 231.[577] For the sake of the argument
it would be best to select the first for illustration; but it was,
unfortunately, so completely restored about forty years ago that, as
in the case of our unfortunate cathedrals, it requires considerable
knowledge of the style to discriminate between what is old and what
new. Notwithstanding the four centuries that elapsed between their
dates, however, they are so like one another in all essentials that it
is of little consequence which we select. Neither is large, and both
consist of nearly hemispherical domes, surmounted by a square box-like
appendage called a Tee, and both are surrounded by three rows of tall
stone pillars, as shown in the accompanying woodcut.

[Illustration: 223. Lanka Ramayana Dagoba, A.D. 231. From a

That the domical part of the dagoba is the lineal and direct descendant
of the sepulchral tumuli or cairns, which are found everywhere in
Northern Asia and probably existed in India in primæval times, is
hardly open to doubt. This the Buddhists early refined into a relic
shrine, probably immediately after the death of the founder of the
religion, B.C. 543; and we know from numerous excavations[578]
that the relic was placed in a cist in the centre of the mound, nearly
on the level of the soil, exactly where, and in the same manner as,
the body-containing kistvaens of our sepulchral tumuli. To this,
however, the Buddhists added a square box on the top, which either
was invented by them or copied from some earlier form; but no dagoba
was complete without it, and all the rock-cut examples and sculptured
representations of topes, with many structural ones, still possess
it. That it represented a wooden relic-casket may be assumed as
certain, but whether it was ever used as such is not quite clear. The
relics were sometimes accessible, and shown to the public on festal
occasions,[579] and unless they were contained in some external case
like this it is not easy to see how they could be got at. A third
indispensable part of a perfect dagoba was an enclosing rail. All the
early dagobas and all the sculptured representations possess this
adjunct. I