Chapter L

ancient bbitis3 period.

Ancient British weapons of bone and flint. Fig. a, arrow-head of flint, in the Meyrick collection; 5, another, engraved in Archseologia, vol. xt. pi. 2; c. d, lance-heads of bone, from a barrow on Upton Lovel Downs, Wiltshire, engraved in same plate ; e, spear-head of stone, in the Meyrick collection ;/, battle-axe head of black stone, in ditto: g, another, found in a barrow in Devonshire, and new in the same collection.

Respecting the original colonists of Britain—the more adventurous members of the two great nomadic tribes, the Cimmerii or Cimbrians and the Celt« or Celts, who wandered from the shores of the Thracian Bosphorus to the northern coasts of Europe, and passed, some from Gaul across the channel, others through " the Hazy" or German Ocean to these islands—a few slight and scattered notices by the Greek and Latin writers, and an occasional passage in the Welsh Triads, form the meagre total of our information.1 Mere speculations, however ingenious, it would be foreign to the plan of this work to entertain: however interesting, or even convincing, to the student of antiquity, they are too shadowy to be grasped and retained by the unlearned reader. From the positive evidence, however, of such weapons and ornaments as have been from time to time discovered in this country, and acknowledged as neither of Roman nor Saxon workmanship, we are, with the aid of the scanty testimony before-mentioned, authorized to presume that its earliest inhabitants had relapsed into barbarism, as they receded from the civilized south, and having lost, in the course of their migrations, the art of working metals and of weaving cloth, were clothed in skins, decorated with beads and flowers, and armed with weapons of bone and flint, which, in addition to their stained and punctured bodies (the remembrance, it would appear from Herodotus, of a Thracian cus- ^ torn®), must have given them, as nearly as possible, 1

1 Herodotus, book iv.) Plutarch in Mario | Welsh Triads, 4 and 5.

2 Herodotus, v. 6. " To have punctures on tbeir skin is with them a mark of nobility; to be without these is a testimony of mean descent" Isidorus describes the British method of tattooing in these words: u They squeeze the juice of certain herbs into figures made on their bodies with the 1

the appearance of the Islanders of the South Pacific, as described by Captain Cook.

And with similar policy to that practised by our famous navigator, did the Tyrian traders apparently teach the British savages to manufacture swords, spear-blades, and arrow-heads, from a composition of brass (or rather of copper) and tin, by first presenting them with models of their own rude weapons in this mixed metal, and then gradually inducing them to adopt the improvements, and emulate the skill of their friendly visitors.

The lance, for instance, formed of a long bone, ground to a point (vide figures c and d at head of chapter), and inserted into a split at the end of an oaken shaft, where it was secured by wooden pegs, was first succeeded by a metal blade, similarly shaped and fastened (vide fig. a in the following engraving): but shortly afterwards, the shaft, instead of receiving the blade, was fitted into a socket in a workmanlike manner, and finally the blade itself assumed a classical form. The arrow and the hatchet, or battle-axe, underwent the same gradual transformation and improvement, as may be seen by a comparison of the brazen weapons here engraved with those of bone and flint at the head of the chapter. The greater part of the originals are preserved in the armoury at Goodrich Court, Herefordshire.

For the sword they were probably indebted tg^

points of needles/' Orig. lib. xix. c. 23. It seems to have been done in infancy, as Pliny tells us the British -wives and nurses did it. Nat. Hist. lib. xxii. c. 2.

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