Ancient Mysteries Cliff Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe

Cliff Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe

Cliff Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe
Catalog # SKU3354
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name S. Baring-Gould
ISBN 10: 1610337212
ISBN 13: 9781610337212


Cliff Castles and
Cave Dwellings
of Europe

S. Baring-Gould

To the best of my knowledge, the theme of European Troglodytes has remained hitherto undealt with, though occasional mention has been made of those on the Loire. It has been taken for granted that cave-dwellers belonged to a remote past in civilised Europe; but they are only now being expelled in Nottinghamshire and Shropshire, by the interference of sanitary officers.

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Elsewhere, the race is by no means extinct. In France more people live underground than most suppose. And they show no inclination to leave their dwellings. Just one month ago from the date of writing this page, I sketched the new front that a man had erected to his paternal cave at Villiers in Loir et Cher. The habitation was wholly subterranean, but then it consisted of one room alone. The freshly completed face was cut in freestone, with door and window, and above were sculptured the aces of hearts, spades, and diamonds, an anchor, a cogwheel and a fish. Separated from this mansion was a second, divided from it by a buttress of untrimmed rock, and this other also was newly fronted, occupied by a neat and pleasant-spoken woman who was vastly proud of her cavern residence. "Mais c'est tout ce qu'on peut dèsirer. Enfin on s'y trouve trè s bien."


In a vastly remote past, and for a vastly extended period, the mighty deep rolled over the surface of a world inform and void, depositing a sediment of its used up living tenants, the microscopic cases of foraminiferæ, sponges, sea-urchins, husks, and the cast limbs of crustaceans. The descending shells of the diatoms like a subaqueous snow gradually buried the larger dejections. This went on till the sediment had attained a thickness of over one thousand feet. Then the earth beneath, heaved and tossed in sleep, cast off its white featherbed, projected it on high to become the chalk formation that occupies so distinct and extended a position in the geological structure of the globe. The chalk may be traced from the North of Ireland to the Crimea, a distance of about 11,140 geographical miles, and, in an opposite direction, from the South of Sweden to Bordeaux, a distance of 840 geographical miles.

It extends as a broad belt across France, like the sash of a Republican mayor. You may travel from Calais to Vendô, to Tours, Poitiers, Angoulême, to the Gironde, and you are on chalk the whole way. It stretches through Central Europe, and is seen in North Africa. From the Crimea it reaches into Syria, and may be traced as far as the shores of the sea of Aral in Central Asia.

The chalk is not throughout alike in texture; hard beds alternate with others that are soft-beds with flints like plum-cake, and beds without, like white Spanish bread.

We are accustomed in England to chalk in rolling downs, except where bitten into by the sea, but elsewhere it is riven, and presents cliffs, and these cliffs are not at all like that of Shakespeare at Dover, but overhang, where hard beds alternate with others that are friable. These latter are corroded by the weather, and leave the more compact projecting like the roofs of penthouses. They are furrowed horizontally, licked smooth by the wind and rain. Not only so, but the chalk cliffs are riddled with caves, that are ancient water-courses. The rain falling on the surface is drunk by the thirsty soil, and it sinks till, finding where the chalk is tender, it forms a channel and flows as a subterranean rill, spouts forth on the face of the crags, till sinking still lower, it finds an exit at the bottom of the cliff, when it leaves its ancient conduit high and dry.

But before the chalk was tossed aloft there had been an earlier upheaval from the depths of the ocean, that of the Jurassic limestone. This was built up by coral insects working indefatigably through long ages, piling up their structures, as the sea-bottom slowly sank, straining ever higher, till at length their building was crushed together and projected on high, to form elevated plateaux, as the Causses of Quercy, and Alpine ranges, as the Dolomites of Brixen. But in the uplifting of this deposit, as it was inelastic, the strain split it in every direction, and down the rifts thus formed danced the torrents from higher granitic and schistous ranges, forming the gorges of the Tarn, the Ardêche, the Herault, the Gaves, and the Timèe, in

. It has been a puzzle to decide which appeared first, the egg out of which the fowl was hatched, or the hen which laid the egg; and it is an equal puzzle to the anthropologist to say whether man was first brought into existence as a babe or in maturity. In both cases he would be helpless. The babe would need its mother, and the man be paralysed into incapacity through lack of experience. But without stopping to debate this question, we may conclude that naked, shivering and homeless humanity would have to be pupil to the beasts to learn where to shelter his head. Where did man first appear? Where was the Garden of Eden? Indisputably on the chalk. There he found all his first demands supplied. The walls of cretaceous rock furnished him with shelter under its ledges of overhanging beds, flints out of which to fashion his tools, and nodules of pyrites wherewith to kindle a fire. Providence through aeons had built up the chalk to be man's first home.

496 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover
ISBN-10: 1610337212
ISBN-13: 9781610337212

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