Lost History Ancient History Archaic England

Archaic England

Archaic England
Catalog # SKU3742
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 3.00 lbs
Author Name Harold Bayley
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000
 
$47.95
Quantity

Description

Archaic England

An Essay In Deciphering Prehistory From Megalithic Monuments, Earthworks, Customs, Coins, Place-Names, and Faerie Superstitions

508 Illustrations
Two Volume Set

By
Harold Bayley


This book is an application of the jigsaw system to certain archæological problems which under the ordinary detached methods of the Specialist have proved insoluble. My fragments of evidence are drawn as occasion warrants from History, Fairy-tale, Philosophy, Legend, Folklore-in fact from any quarter whence the required piece unmistakably fulfils the missing space. It is thus a mental medley with all the defects, and some, I trust, of the attractions, of a mosaic.

Larger Print, 13 point font, Illustrated

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Excerpt:

In the present volume I piece together a mosaic of visible and tangible evidence which is supplementary to that already brought forward, and the results-at any rate in many instances-cannot by any possibility be written off as due merely to coincidence or chance. That they will be adequate to satisfy the exacting requirements of modern criticism is, however, not to be supposed. Referring to The Lost Language, one of my reviewers cheerfully but disconcertingly observed: "He must deal as others of his school have done with all the possible readings of the history of the races of men". To sweeping and magnanimous advice of this character one can only counter the untoward experiences of the hapless "Charles Templeton," as recounted by Mr. Stephen McKenna: "At the age of three-and-twenty Charles Templeton, my old tutor at Oxford, set himself to write a history of the Third French Republic. When I made his acquaintance, some thirty years later, he had satisfactorily concluded his introductory chapter on the origin of Kingship. At his death, three months ago, I understand that his notes on the precursors of Charlemagne were almost as complete as he desired. 'It is so difficult to know where to start, Mr. Oakleigh,' he used to say, as I picked my steps through the litter of notebooks that cumbered his tables, chairs, and floor."

But Mr. Templeton's embarrassments were trifling in comparison with mine. Templeton was obviously a man of some leisure, whereas my literary hobbies have necessarily to be indulged more or less furtively in restaurants, railway trains, and during such hours and half-hours of opportunity as I can snatch from more pressing obligations. Moreover, Mr. Templeton could concentrate on one subject-History-whereas the scope of my studies compels me to keep on as good terms as may be with the exacting Muses of History, Mythology, Archæology, Philosophy, Religion, Romance, Symbolism, Numismatics, Folklore, and Etymology. I mention this not to extenuate any muzziness of thought, or sloppiness of diction, but to disarm by confession the charge that my work has been done hurriedly and here and there superficially.

With the facilities at my disposal I have endeavoured to the best of my abilities to concentrate a dozen rays on to one subject, and to mould into an harmonious and coherent whole the pith of a thousand and one items culled during the past seven years from day to day and noted from hour to hour. Differing as I do in some respects from the accepted conclusions of the best authorities, it is a further handicap to find myself in the position of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah, who was constrained by force of circumstance to build with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other.

To the heretic and the wayfarer it is, however, a comfortable reflection that what Authority maintains to-day it generally contradicts to-morrow. Less than a century ago contemporary scholarship knew the age of the earth with such exquisite precision that it pronounced it to a year, declaring an exact total of 6000 years, and a few odd days.

When the discoveries in Kent's Cavern were laid before the scientific world, the authorities flatly denied their possibility, and the proofs that Man in Britain was contemporary with the mammoth, the lion, the bear, and the rhinoceros were received with rudeness and inattention. Similarly the discovery of prehistoric implements in the gravel-beds at Abbeville was treated with inconsequence and insult, and it was upwards of twenty years before it was reluctantly conceded that: "While we have been straining our eyes to the East, and eagerly watching excavations in Egypt and Assyria, suddenly a new light has arisen in the midst of us; and the oldest relics of man yet discovered have occurred, not among the ruins of Nineveh or Heliopolis, not on the sandy plains of the Nile or the Euphrates, but in the pleasant valleys of England and France, along the banks of the Seine and the Somme, the Thames and the Waveney."

The fact is now generally accepted as proven by both anthropologists and archæologists, that the most ancient records of the human race exist not in Asia, but in Europe. The oldest documents are not the hieroglyphics of Egypt, but the hunting-scenes scratched on bone and ivory by the European cave-dwelling contemporaries of the mammoth and the woolly rhinoceros. Human implements found on the chalk plateaus of Kent have been assigned to a period prior to the glacial epoch, which is surmised to have endured for 160,000 years, from, roughly speaking, 240,000 to 80,000 years ago.

It is now also an axiom that the races of Europe are not colonists from somewhere in Asia, but that, speaking generally, they have inhabited their present districts more or less continuously from the time when they crept back gradually in the wake of the retreating ice.

"Written history and popular tradition," says Sir E. Ray Lankester, "tell us something in regard to the derivation and history of existing 'peoples,' but we soon come to a period-a few thousand years back-concerning which both written statement and tradition are dumb. And yet we know that this part of the world-Europe-was inhabited by an abundant population in those remote times. We know that for at least 500,000 years human populations occupied portions of this territory, and that various races with distinguishing peculiarities of feature and frame, and each possessed of arts and crafts distinct from those characteristic of others, came and went in succession in those incredibly remote days in Europe. We know this from the implements, carvings, and paintings left by these successive populations, and we know it also by the discovery of their bones."

Anthropology, however, while admitting this unmeasurable antiquity for mankind, takes no count of the possibility of an amiable or cultured race in these islands prior to the coming of the Roman legions. It traces with equanimity the modern Briton evolving in unbroken sequence from the primitive cave-dweller, and it points with self-complacency to the fact that even as late as the Battle of Hastings some of Harold's followers were armed with stone axes. There has, however, recently been unearthed near Maidstone the skull of a late palæolithic or early neolithic man, whose brain capacity was rather above the average of the modern Londoner. The forehead of this 15,000 year-old skull is well formed, there are no traces of a simian or overhanging brow, and the individual himself might well, in view of all physical evidence, have been a primeval sage rather than a primeval savage.

æ The high estimation in which the philosophy of prehistoric Briton was regarded abroad may be estimated from the testimony of Cæsar who states: "It is believed that this institution (Druidism) was founded in Britannia, and thence transplanted into Gaul. Even nowadays those who wish to become more intimately acquainted with the institution generally go to Britannia for instruction's sake."

It has been claimed for the Welsh that they possess the oldest literature in the oldest language in Europe. Giraldus Cambrensis, speaking of the Welsh Bards, mentions their possession of certain ancient and authentic books, but whether or not the traditionary poems which were first committed to writing in the twelfth century retain any traces of the prehistoric Faith is a matter of divided opinion. To those who are not experts in archaisms and are not enamoured of ink-spilling, the sanest position would appear to be that of Matthew Arnold, who observes in Celtic Literature: "There is evidently mixed here, with the newer legend, a detritus, as the geologists would say, of something far older; and the secret of Wales and its genius is not truly reached until this detritus, instead of being called recent because it is found in contact with what is recent, is disengaged, and is made to tell its own story."

The word "founded," as used by Cæsar, implies an antiquity for British institutions which is materially confirmed by the existence of such monuments as Stonehenge, and the more ancient Avebury. Whether these supposed "appendages to Bronze age burials" were merely sepulchral monuments, or whether they ever possessed any intellectual significance, does not affect the fact that Great Britain, and notably England, is richer in this class of monument than any other part of the world.

Circles being essentially and pre-eminently English it is disappointing to find the most modern handbook on Stonehenge stating: "In all matters of archæology it is constantly found that certain questions are better left in abeyance or bequeathed to a coming generation for solution". Every one sympathises with that weary feeling, but nevertheless the present generation now possesses quite sufficient data to enable it to shoulder its own responsibilities and to pass beyond the stereotyped and hackneyed formula "sepulchral monument". I hold no brief on behalf of the Druids-indeed one must agree that the Celtic Druids were much more modern than the monuments associated with their name-nevertheless the theory that these far-famed philosophers were mere wise men or witch doctors, with perhaps a spice of the conjuror, is a modern misapprehension with which I am nowise in sympathy. Valerius Maximus (c. A.D. 20) was much better informed and therefore more cautious in his testimony: "I should be tempted to call these breeches-wearing gentry fools, were not their doctrine the same as that of the mantle-clad Pythagoras".

Druids or no Druids there must at some period in our past have been interesting and enterprising people in these islands. At Avebury, near Marlborough, is Silbury Hill, an earth mound, which is admittedly the vastest artificial hill in Europe. Avebury itself is said to constitute the greatest megalithic monument in Europe, and nowhere in the world are tumuli more plentiful than in Great Britain. On the banks of the Boyne is a pyramid of stones which, had it been situated on the banks of the Nile, would probably have been pronounced the oldest and most venerable of the pyramids. In the Orkneys at Hoy is almost the counterpart to an Egyptian marvel which, according to Herodotus, was an edifice 21 cubits in length, 14 in breadth, and 8 in height, the whole consisting only of one single stone, brought thither by sea from a place about 20 days' sailing from Sais. The Hoy relic is an obelisk 36 feet long by 18 feet broad, by 9 feet deep. "No other stones are near it. 'Tis all hollowed within or scooped by human art and industry, having a door at the east end 2 feet square with a stone of the same dimension lying about 2 feet from it, which was intended no doubt to close the entrance. Within, there is at the south end of it, cut out, the form of a bed and pillow capable to hold two persons."




600 pages in 2 volumes - 8½ x 11 softcover


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