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It is a matter for surprise that none but the vaguest idea can be gleaned from ancient writers of the appearance or plan of an ordinary farm-house in the ancient world. Cato, Varro, Columella, the Elder Pliny, and Palladius describe with varying degrees of detail the kind of site on which such a house might most suitably be built and the type of rooms required for those who inhabit it. They indicate the uses to which the various portions of the house were put (villa urbana, villa rustica, willa fructuaria) but none of them thought it necessary to describe methodically the lay-out of the house as a whole. Varro mentions incidentally a ‘cohors’ (cortile or farm-yard) and states that on a large farm it is more convenient to have two such areas, one for the kitchen and tool-sheds, the other for live-stock. Varro's remark is vague enough, but the notices of other writers are even vaguer. The younger Pliny sets out to give a detailed description of his Laurentine villa, but the attempts of modern scholars to reconstruct the plan of the villa from Pliny's description have produced the most varied results and shown the futility of the quest.
Windy Jaca, up on its terrace, its back to the snowy Colorado, is especially connected with that disastrous forerunner of the Spanish revolution, which coming to premature birth ended in premature death. We may see there the Street of the Martyrs, renamed by a Republic, born after all without bloodshed, in memory of its first blood sacrifice. Yet in spite of its rather red modernity, little Jaca still cherishes rags and tatters of tradition, and up there on its chilly height a local thaumaturgical goddess holds as much sway as she would in Andalusia. On the 25th of June the town celebrates its feast in honour of Santa Orosia. That is the moment to see the old Jaca behaving as it did before its seventeen towers came down, and its encircling walls were laid flat.
In this note on Saxon London I am not concerned in detail with the wearisome question whether London did or did not survive through the Dark Ages of the 5th and 6th centuries. Were it not for the vague generalities of an obsessed 6th-century ‘Welshman’, writing a moral thesis probably in Brittany under difficulties which he himself deplores, no one would ever have suggested that London ceased to exist at the time of the Saxon invasions. Yet, it may be recalled, Gildas does not so much as mention London; he was not concerned with London; he was not indeed concerned with history save in so far as it could be subordinated to his propaganda against the sinners of western Britain. Whatever may have happened to the cities of the west, there is in truth no valid historical reason for supposing that London perished after the Roman period, to be born all over again in a Saxon England.
It is well known that in geologically recent times the British Isles have been affected by vertical movements, both upwards as shown by raised beaches and downwards as proved by submerged land surfaces and drowned valleys. There are still differences of opinion whether these movements result from changes in the level of the ocean surface or are due to real upward or downward movements of the land area. In the former case a change of sea level might be expected to produce within small limits the same amount of apparent elevation or depression of the land area, whereas in the latter case the amount of movement might vary at different parts of the coastline.
Little has been known of the Viking expansion in the East Baltic till some 10–12 years ago, when the new states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania began an enthusiastic exploration of their antiquities, in which research they have been joined by Finnish and Swedish archaeologists. In Russia, the Viking traces in Russian history have been the object of research for many years, and there the Nestor chronicle has been a literary guide to the results, which have given glimpses of the life of those ancient times—of the long water routes over Europe, the settlements founded by the Vikings, and the great cemeteries of primitive graves, outside those towns. In the following sketch of a Viking stronghold of the 8th–9th century no attempt is made to describe the many archaeological finds in systematic excavations; it is merely the impression, a strangely living impression, of one of those ancient places upon the ordinary tourist.
At the moment when Attila was preparing to attack the Western Empire a priest named Salvian, driven by the invasions from the Rhineland to Marseilles, published his tract De Gubernatione Dei, one of the strangest amongst the off spring of declining Latin literature.