The importance of the part played by agriculture in the economic history of our country is sometimes apt to be forgotten, for its place has, during the past hundred years, been largely taken by manufacture. Down to the beginning of the nineteenth century the bulk of the population still made a living by tilling the fields, just as their fathers had done from time immemorial. It becomes, therefore, a matter of great interest to trace the beginnings and growth of agriculture in our country before the dawn of history.
Agriculture may be taken in its broadest sense to signify the artificial growth of plants for human use, as opposed to the gathering of wild products, but the term may also be narrowed down to cover only the cultivation of farinaceous seeds which we call cereals. It is chiefly in the latter sense that the subject will be discussed here, but it must be remembered that the nature of the evidence does not altogether allow of such a distinction.