« PreviousContinue »
all appearance in the prime of life, who evidently did not exceed four feet ten inches in height. As to the character of the bones, he might say he never saw any, in texture, or in the development of their processes or ridges, or in any of those characteristics which indicated the complete mastery of the frame by a healthy individual, so strongly marked as in those of the little man whose skeleton he had received from Dr. Mouatt.'
After observing that he had been unable to detect in the skull of the Andamanner any of those special indications which would have induced him to conclude in favour of affinity with the Malay, Mongolian, Negro, or any other well known race of men, the Professor proceeded to make the following remarks :
'Why should ethnologists, when they come to study the natures of an insulated group of people like the Andamanners, deem it necessary to determine to what contemporaneous people they were allied, on the assumption that they had been derived from some existing and neighbouring land? Geological science had established the fact of continuous and progressive, though extremely slow, mutation of land and sea; and had taught them that the continents of modern geography were only the last phases of these mutations. How long the human species had existed, and how far they had been contemporaneous with such mutations, were the preliminary questions which presented themselves in grappling with the problem suggested by a peculiar insular race like the Mincopies. Certain it was, that geologists had conceived that the islands on the south of the present great continent of Asia might be remnants of some antecedent very distinct group of land. . . . In confirmation of that idea, they had the result of the geological researches of Cautley, Faulkner, and others in India, which seemed to show that the Himalayas had risen, lifting up the fossiliferous beds on their present slopes, within comparatively recent geological time, proving that India had been the site of one of the latest of those great upheaving forces that resulted in the formation of new continents. Was it not possible, then, that the Andamanners might have come from nowhere- that is to say, from no actual contiguous and separate land, but might be the representatives of an old race, belonging to a former continent that had almost disappeared?'
Leaving, for the present, this great enigma in the hands of those who, in various countries, are eagerly employed in seeking its solution, let us conclude by directing our attention from the opening to the conclusion of the long lacustrine history. We seem able to connect our lake-dwellers, a parte antè, in scholastic language, with those races of men of which there is geological record only. A parte post, we can connect them by fair reasoning with times absolutely recent, and show the latest of their primeval erections shattered by modern artillery. This connexion is to be traced through the history of the Irish cran'noges,' or lacustrine fortresses on small stockaded islands; a
very curious chapter in archæology, and one which has been developed almost simultaneously with the recent discoveries in Switzerland.
These crannoges' have of late attracted the attention of several antiquaries, and, in particular, of Dr. Wilde, Secretary of Foreign Correspondence to the Royal Irish Academy, and of Mr. Digby Wyatt, the distinguished architect. They are thus described by the former gentleman, in his Catalogue of the Antiquities in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy' (1857):
'In most districts in which these islands were found, several small lakes are clustered together. They were not, strictly speaking, artificial islands, but chrans: small islets, or shallows, of clay and marl in these lakes, which were probably dry in summer time, but submerged in winter. These were enlarged and fortified by piles of oaken timber, and in some cases by stone work. A few were approached by moles or causeways; but generally speaking, they were completely insulated, and only accessible by boat; and it is notable that in almost every instance an ancient canoe was discovered in connexion with the crannoge. Being thus insulated, they afforded secure places of retreat from the attacks of enemies, or were the fastnesses of predatory chiefs or robbers, to which might be conveyed the booty of a marauding excursion, or the produce of a cattle raid. .... It is manifest, from the quantity, age, and variety of the antiquities discovered in these crannoges,' that they had been long occupied. We likewise learn from their recent submerged condition, how much water had accumulated on the face of the country since their construction, probably owing to the great decrease of forest timber, and the increased growth of bog. From the additions made to the height of the stockades, and also from the traces of fire discovered at different elevations in the sections made of these islands, it may be inferred that the rise of the waters commenced during the period of their occupation.'
The following is the general description of these crannoges,' given by the engineers of the Board of Works:
'They are surrounded by stockades driven in a circle from sixty to eighty feet in diameter; but in some cases the inclosure is larger, and oval in shape. The stakes of these are generally of oak, mostly of young trees, from four to nine inches broad, usually in a single row, but sometimes in double, and in a few instances in treble. The portions of these stakes remaining in the ground generally bear the marks of the hatchet by which they were felled. Several feet of these piles must have originally projected above the water, and were probably interlaced with horizontal branches, so as to form a screen or breastwork. The surface within the rounded enclosure is sometimes covered over with a layer of round logs cut into lengths of from four to six feet, over which was placed more or less stones, clay, or
gravel. In some instances, this platform is confined to a portion of the island. Besides these, pieces of oak framing, with mortises and cheeks cut in them, have been found within the circle of the outer work. In almost every case, a collection of flat stones was discovered near the centre of the inclosure, apparently serving for a hearth; in some instances two or three such hearths were discovered at different points of the crannoge. . Considerable quantities of the bones of black cattle, deer, and swine, were also discovered upon or around the island.' (Wilde's Descriptive Catalogue, p. 224.)
At least fifty or sixty of these crannoges,' or rather of the foundations which mark their site, have now been disinterred, chiefly in the small lakes of the north of Ireland. It will be seen at once that they have only a slight resemblance to the 'Pfahlbauten of Switzerland in their style of construction. The Swiss lake-dweller lived, generally speaking, in deeper waters; and, instead of filling these, raised over them a platform on piles. The native of Ireland chose a spot in some shallow mere, or a compound of unreclaimed swamp and water, raised the site with stones or earth, and surrounded it with wattle or timber fences. And the Swiss constructions may be thought to have served primarily the purpose of habitation; the Irish that of refuge or defence. Nevertheless, the analogies are, on the whole, more remarkable than the differences. In some shallow Swiss waters, indeed, the villages seem to have approximated to the 'crannoge' in actual character, of which there are instances at Steinberg, in the Lake of Biel, and in the little lake of Inkwyl. Some Irish crannoges,' on the other hand, are spacious enough for the site of villages. And, like the Swiss Pfahlbauten, they furnish to the digger great quantities of articles, not warlike only, but including household implements and personal ornaments. These, however, testify to a somewhat later period than the Swiss. The animal remains are said to be all of domestic kinds; some of a very fine race of short-horned oxen; some having the mark of slaughtering in the modern fashion, by the blow of an axe. Stone weapons and tools, so common in the Swiss lakes, are rare in Ireland. Bronze is also rare; iron and bone the principal materials used. Articles of gold, occasional among the Swiss relics of the supposed primitive races, very common among the Scandinavian, have not been as yet discovered among the Irish.
The crannoges are therefore more recent than the Pfahl'bauten,' as far as existing knowledge enables us to judge. But at whatever period the use of them may have commenced, we know, at all events, that it is coeval with the earliest historical records of the Irish population. Dr. Wilde has traced a con
tinuous series of notices respecting them, in chronicles, from the ninth century after Christ down to the seventeenth. earliest discovered and examined crannoge,' in modern timesthat of Lagore, near Dunshaughlin, in Meath, of which the remains present a huge circular mound of 520 feet in circum'ference,' whence above 150 cartloads of bones of oxen, horses, and other animals, together with 'a vast collection of antiquities, 'warlike, culinary, personal, and ornamental, of stone, wood, bronze, and iron,' have been drawn - happens. to be also the earliest to which historical allusion has been found. In the old translation of the Annals of Ulster, we are told that Cineadh, son of Conairg, 'brake down the island of Loch Gavan (Lagore) 'to the very bottom,' A.D. 848. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, we have repeated accounts of onslaughts by one native chief on the crannoge' of another. The map of the escheated territories, or Platt of the county of Monaghan,' 1591, contains rough sketches of the dwellings of the petty chiefs of Monaghan, which are in all cases surrounded by water. 'crannoge,' says Mr. Shirley (Account of the Territory or Dominion of Farney), was the universal system of defence in 'the north of Ireland.' Thus, one Thomas Phettiplace, in his answer to an inquiry from the Government, as to what castles or forts O'Neil hath, and of what strength they be,' states (May 15. 1567), In castles, I think it be not unknown to your honours, he trusteth no point thereunto for his safety, as ap'peareth by the rasing of the strongest castles of his dominion; and that fortification that he only dependeth on, is in sartin 'fresh-water loghes in his country, which from the sea there come neither ship nor boat to approach them. It is thought that there, in the said fortified islands, lyeth all his plate, which is much, and money, prisoners, and gages.' In the Ulster Inquisition of 1605, many spots described as 'insulæ for'tificatæ,' are noticed as then existing. And, finally, the latest and one of the most curious accounts of a 'crannoge,' as still subsisting, and used for defensive purposes, is to be found in the chronicles of the Great Rebellion. We quote from the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy,' vol. vii. p. 158.
"Loughinsholin is a small lake in the south of the county of Londonderry. It was so called from Inis Ua Fhloinn, or O'Lynn's Island, a small stockaded island, situate near its eastern margin... The island has been dismantled of its oak piles, and is now reduced to an unseemly bank, overgrown with reeds and rushes. Concerning this island the following notices are obtained from Friar Mellan's Irish Journal of the Rebellion of 1642:
**1643. Aug. 25. Inis O’Luin was garrisoned by Shane O'Hagan. “The enemy came and called on them to surrender, which they refused
"to do. They then stopped up a stream which ran out of the lake, "and turned the course of another into it, so that they continued to "flood the island. The garrison kept watch in the island house, and "one of their men was killed by a cannon ball while on watch. How"ever, they refused to surrender the island on any terms. "enemy at length departed.
"1645. March 7. The people of O'Hagan burned Inis O'Lynn, "for want of provisions, and followed the general eastward.”
And with their departure ended this long and curious chapter in the history of the European race. We close our own slight sketch of it with a strong impression that, notwithstanding all the industry, and the very ingenious reasoning, which our guides have expended in its investigation, they have as yet done little more than excite instead of satisfying curiosity. The field has been scarcely opened. Already indications are mentioned, by M. Ferdinand Keller, of discoveries in the Italian lakes of the same kind with those made in the Swiss.* The waters of France and other countries, in particular the Loire, Rhone, and Garonne, whose courses were pointed out by M. Worsaae long ago as probable lines of migration of the primeval races have yet to be thoroughly interrogated, and made to discover their secrets. The many caverns and recesses of the earth, used for similar purposes of security, have, as yet, been only very partially made to give up their deposits. And, without prejudging, the results of future inquiry, it may, perhaps, be conjectured that the farther it is carried, the more probable it is that the sharp and definite generalisations hitherto made will be somewhat invalidated. Such is, at least, the
ordinary course of scientific inquiry. We are all aware how that rigidly marked order of superposition, in the strata of the earth's surface, which early geologists erected almost into a creed, has melted away before closer investigation into a series of transitions from one to another. In the same manner, it is somewhat difficult to believe that our ages of bronze, stone, and iron will preserve that clearness of difference which M. Troyon and his fellow-labourers seek to establish, when a more thorough examination of analogous phenomena has been achieved. But, whatever modification may thus be introduced into the conclusions now suggested, the world will remain not the less indebted to those recent inquirers, whose labours have opened a large and deeply interesting field of inquiry in its early history.
* We are told that piles very similar to those of the Swiss lakes were discovered in draining a mere at Wretham, in Norfolk, some years ago, together with deer's horns. Unluckily attention had not at that time been called to the subject.
VOL. CXVI. NO. CCXXXV.