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Once upon a time (so tradition says) a region of extreme fertility lay between the Scilly Islands and Cornwall. This land was called Lyonesse; and where now roll the waters of the Atlantic there once stood prosperous towns and no less than a hundred and forty churches. The rocks called the Seven Stones, seven miles west of Land's End, are said to mark the site of a large city. This country was overwhelmed by the sea, and the sole survivor, one Trevilian, escaped destruction only by mounting a swift horse and fleeing to the mainland.
Such, stripped to the bone, is the famous legend of Lyonesse. Had it any real basis in fact, or is it merely an invention of the “dreamy Celt”? There are good reasons for believing that the substance of the legend is true, that within prehistoric times there did actually exist land which is now covered by the sea, and that it has been gradually overwhelmed. In one respect only does the modern critic disagree with tradition. He believes that Lyonesse was the Scilly Islands themselves, not a completely vanished region between them and Cornwall; and that what is now an archipelago of islands was a single large island, surrounded perhaps by a few rocky islets.
It was Augustus who first realized that the Roman Empire could not go on expanding for ever. Horace could write
Caelo tonantem credidimus Iovem
Regnare; praesens Divus habebiiur
Augustus adiectis Britannis
Imperio gravibusque Persis;
but a very real part of Augustus' claim to grateful veneration lay in the fact that he made up his mind to leave Britons and Parthians alone—to seek in them not new subjects, but peaceful and respectful neighbours. Coercere intra terminos imperium was the advice he left to his successors; and in principle they never departed from it. Claudius might conquer Britain, Trajan Mesopotamia and Dacia; but these were “rectifications,” as we say nowadays, not obliterations, of the imperial frontier.
For the frontier of the Empire, as Augustus left it, was far from perfect. Tiberius, concerned above all to maintain intact the system created by Augustus, played here, as everywhere, a waiting game, and did not meddle with the Augustan frontiers. But his successor Gaius, or “Caligula,” may have contemplated a conquest, or at least an invasion, of Britain; he certainly made a demonstration on the shore of the Channel. And Claudius, the fourth Emperor, took the decisive step. Britain and Gaul were too close together, too intimately linked by geography, blood and civilization, to permit of an unfortified Channel frontier. Southern Britain was already in part Romanized, and the flag followed trade.
The term “Orientation,” as applied to a structure of any kind, means the direction in which its principal line is laid out on the ground. Originally, as the word implies, orientation signified “eastwardness,” only, and had special reference to churches, because (in western Europe) practically all churches were built with the longer side laid out in an east-and-west direction. In some, the line is to True East, exactly; in others the axis lies at an angle of some degrees either to the northward or to the southward of True East. This divergence in either direction from the Orient is called “the angle of orientation.” Nowadays, the term “Orientation” has lost its original “Eastward” distinctiveness, and has become a general expression merely indicating “direction,” and may imply any point of the horizon, and not necessarily the eastward.
Originally the angle of orientation was measured from True East as a zero, but now it is reckoned from the Meridian, or North (true).
The astronomical controversy about Stonehenge may perhaps be approached from an impartial view of one who is neither an archaeologist nor an astronomer, who offers no new or original observations, and proposes to examine facts rather than to discuss theories.
Sir Norman Lockyer was one of those who held that many Egyptian and Greek buildings were set so that they faced certain points on the horizon at which the sun or some bright star arose. But the buildings do not face these directions exactly, and the suggestion is that the discrepancies are due to a well recognized astronomical principle—that the points of rising and setting gradually move on the horizon; and the rate of motion being known, the date of the building may be ascertained.
In Palæolithic times when each family was self-contained, before social laws and customs had bound such units together to form tribes and clans, the hunters, for such they all were, followed their quarry through the forests and along the valleys, keeping to no set trackways. They needed none, for trackways imply thoroughfares to and from fixed sites or habitations—and the Palaeolithic hunter was a nomad.
When the amalgamation of families took place in early Neolithic or Epipalaeolithic times, no doubt the marsh-dwellers had recognized paths across the swamps to the mainland, and those who formed the shell-mounds of Ertebolle may have used beaten paths along the shore from estuary to estuary.
Many a wanderer through the country districts of New Zealand has found interest in the sight of the monumental earthworks which crown so many of our hills. There is something grand and yet pathetic about these old fortresses. Once the scene of turmoil and activity, they now lie neglected and still beneath the sky, clothed in bush, or scrub, or fern, or grass-grown and dotted with sheep. Their day is over, the Maori long since has ceased to swarm on their slopes and man their palisades; they are but a memory of the warring and the peacemaking, the fighting and the feasting of the eventful past.
In this paper it is my object to give a brief account of the general features of their construction and of their importance in Maori life.
While high civilizations were growing up in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Aegean, continental Europe was still recovering from an ice age. Though the glaciers had retreated, the high passes that led across the Alps from the favoured Mediterranean to the interior were still virtually closed by snow. The tundras and steppes where the men of the Old Stone Age had hunted the reindeer were now for the most part covered with a dense forest fostered by the damp climate then ruling. Through the belt of forest and mountain that fenced off northern and western Europe early man could not easily penetrate. To reach Britain or Denmark he must take ship and face the perils of the Atlantic in a dug-out canoe or some only slightly superior craft. But one moving road leads right into the heart of the continent. From the Black Sea to Bavaria the Danube opens out a passage way far safer than the stormy Atlantic. Moreover it leads into territories where the uncongenial primeval forest did not grow so densely nor so inhospitably as on the coasts or highlands.
Large tracts in Central Europe are covered with a deep deposit of fine wind-born dust that had formed during the dry ice ages. This aeolian soil termed “löss” is unfavourable to the growth of heavy timber, incidentally it provides ideal agricultural land.
The photographs here reproduced, were taken from the air on 30 June 1926, by Squadron-Leader Insall, V.C., M.C., who was then stationed at Netheravon. The large circular earthwork which appears with a series of concentric dots within its area had always been regarded as a “ring” or “disc” barrow much wasted and defaced as a result of many years cultivation. The ring barrow is a type of pre-historic burial place which occurs comparatively frequently on the Downs of Wiltshire and adjacent counties but is rare elsewhere. It consists of a circular earthen bank with a corresponding ditch, usually on the inner side. The actual burials, apparently invariably after cremation, are usually found in one or more mounds near the centre of the circular area thus enclosed. The banks and ditches are continuous and form unbroken rings; they vary in size from a few yards in diameter up to nearly 200 ft. The smaller dark rings shown on the lower part of the photographs near the Amesbury road probably represent the filled-in ditches of barrows that have been destroyed by cultivation.