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LIBRARY ■

mmsny Of cAumm




ORIGINS



OF



ENGLISH HISTORY



ORIGINS



OF



ENGLISH HISTORY



BY



r:



CHARLES I. ELTON. F.S.A.

)M21IME FELLOW OF ijrEEx's i;i)I.LEr,E, OXFORD; ONE OK HER MaJESTy's COUNSEL; AUTHOR

OF "l-HE TENURES OF KENT;" "THE LAW OF COMMONS AND WASTE LANDS;"

"the LAW OF COPYHOLDS AND CUSTOMARY TENURES OF LAND;"

" NORWAY. THE ROAD AND THE FBLL," ETC.



SECOND EDITION REVISED.



LONDON:
BERNARD QUARITCH. 15 PICCADILLY.

1890.



£S/



LONDON :

G. NORMAN AND SON, PRINTERS, HART STREET,

COVENT GARDEN.



PREFA CE TO THE FIRST EDITION.

np^HE object of this work appears so fully in its intro-
-*- ductory chapter that it is almost needless to add
anything by way of formal preface. It has been the
writer's wish to collect the best and earliest evidence as to
the different peoples with which the English nation in any
of its branches is connected bv blood and descent.

There are few that have studied the fascinating subject
of the trade and travel of the Greeks from the times when
they sailed in the track of the Phoenicians to the great
age of their discoveries which followed the conquests of
Alexander, who have not been astonished at the extent
and accuracv of the knowledge which the earliest classical
writers possessed concerning the North of Europe, as
compared with the comparative ignorance and confusion
of later times.

To an Englishman the voyage of Pytheas is especially
interesting, not only because he was the first explorer of
the British Islands, but also because he brought back with
him a singularly minute account of what he had seen and
heard in the marshes and forests, from which long after-



vi Origins of English History.

wards the "three great English kindreds" came. But
his visit to the Amber Islands and his stories of the
brilliant Arctic summer became for the Greeks the founda-
tion of all the fantastic tales of Thule, which for a time
brought the whole science of Geography into contempt.

The people who are found in Britain at the time of the
Roman invasions — usually classed as Celts — are divided
into a Gaulish stock, which is first described, as far as
materials exist, and the Celts or Gaels of an earlier
migration, whose colonies were found in every part of the
British Islands that was not held by the Belgian nations.

The subject involves an inquiry into the character and
distribution of those forgotten peoples which everywhere
throughout Western Europe underlie the dominant Aryan
race. The description of the British Gauls is accordingly
followed by an account of the remaining traces of insti-
tutions owing their origin to the series of races that begins
with the men of the Later Stone Age and covers the
tribes that introduced the use of Bronze into Britain.

The men of the long heads, who built long barrows and
polished their weapons of stone, and the men of the round
skulls, who were buried in round tombs and had learned
to work in metal, have left abiding influences on the
population of Britain, and the survivals of their primitive
religion and laws appear in the form of local superstitions
and customs which have descended even to modern times.



Preface. vii

Something of this kind may help to explain the anomalous
customs of inheritance, the wide prevalence of which
under the name of Borough English has long been a
subject of speculation to all who have studied the curious
details of the English Law of Real Property. A lawyer's
reading enables him also to gather together many frag-
ments of customs and tenures which point back to the
same barbarous antiquity and enable the critical student of
history to form at least a scientific guess at the civilisation
and social ideas of the forgotten Pre-Celtic population.

In conclusion the writer desires to express his obli-
gations to the many kind friends who have assisted him
during the progress of this work, and to acknowledge his
special indebtedness to the writings of Professor Rhys,
the late Professor Rolleston and Sir Henry Sumner Maine.



PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.

T N preparing a second edition of the " Origins of English
-■- History " the author has endeavoured to take advan-
tage of the observations and friendly advice to which the
appearance of the former edition gave rise. Since the
work was first published many fresh discoveries have been
made in the provinces of philology and archaeological



viii Origins of English History.

science. Much fresh light has been thrown on the problems
of Celtic history by the continuous labours of Professor
Rhys at home, and of M. Gaidoz, M. D'Arbois de Jubain-
ville and many other eminent scholars abroad, while some
of the best-known landmarks of archaeology have been
altered by the results of the recent explorations made by
General Pitt-Rivers at Rushmore. The earlier chapters
of the work, dealing with the important discoveries of
Pytheas, the Greek romances of travel, and the ancient
languages and institutions of the Celtic peoples, have been
carefully revised, without much alteration in their main
argument or the arrangement of the principal facts. Some
doubtful points have been omitted as well as some few
appeals to authority which seemed to be no longer required.
The descriptive catalogue of classic authors cited in the
work has been entirely re-arranged, and references are now
given to the pages on which they are cited in the text.
An Index Locorum has been added, and care has been
taken to distinguish those places which have anything to
do with customary modes of inheritance from those which
are more incidentally mentioned in the purely historical
chapters. The General Index has been reconstructed
and greatly enlarged, and a Table of Contents has been
added.

Whitestaunton, Somerset,

Decern hr 2nd, 1889.



TABLE OF CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.

Object of the work

Prehistoric inhabitants of Britain

The Welsh bards on the first settlement

The ancient Fauna of the island

Commencement of authentic history

The Hyperborean legends

The travels of Pytheas in Britain

Marseilles in the age of Alexander the Great

Her commerce .

Rivalry with Carthage

Mineral riches of Spain

Extensive deposits of tin

The Phoenician commerce .

Plans for interfering with trade of Carthage

Voyage of discovery proposed

The scientific discoveries of Pytheas

He is chosen as leader of an expedition

His writings.

Course of the expedition .

From Gadeira to the Tagus

Erroneous notions of Spanish geography

Havens of the Artabri .

Situation of the Cassiterides

Description of the inhabitants .

Visit of Publius Crassus

Theory as to the Scilly Islands .

Carthaginian discoveries .

The voyages of Hanno and Himilco

Course of Himilco's voyage

The tin districts

The Sargasso Sea

Teneriffe



PAGE




I




2




3




3




4




5




6




7




8


8


-II




9




9




II




12




12


12,


13




13




14




14


14,


15


• 15.


16




16


. 16


-23




18




18


16


-19




20




20




20




21




22




22



Origins of English History.





PAGE


Pytheas at Finisterre


23


Religious rites of natives


23-4


The Pyrenees and Ligurian shore


23


The Loire and Island of Amnis .


23


Barbarous ritual ....


24


The Morbihan and Celtic Islands


24


The College of Druidesses .


25


Voyage to Britain


26


Pytheas travels in Britain .


26


His observations


27


Erroneous measurements .


28


Mistakes as to size of the World


29


State of Kent and Southern Britain .


30


Wheat-cultivation


30


Metheglin and beer


30


Agriculture ....


31


Mode of dressing corn


31


Pytheas visited Eastern coasts only


32


Visit of Posidonius


• Ji. 34


Traditions of Stonehenge


32


British trade in tin ,


32


British coins from Greek models


32


Districts where tin is found


33


The island of Ictis .


34-37


Probably the same as Thanet


34


Description of tin-works


35


Portus Itius ....


35-6


Thanet formerly an island


36


St. Michael's Mount


37


CHAPTER II.





P}thcas visits Germany and the Baltic

Criticism by Strabo

Summary of route

Pliny on northern geography

The ' Germany ' of Tacitus



38

38

39
40

41



Contents.



XI





PAGE


The Gothones and Suiones


42-3


The Northern Ocean


42


The Amber Coast


43


Obligations of Tacitus to Greek writers


45


Route of Pytheas


45


Passage to Celtica


46


The Ostians or Ostiones


46


Their mode of Hving


47


The Cimbri ....


48


The Chauci ....


49


North Germany . . .


50


The Hercynian Forest


• 51-57


Its Fauna in the time of Pytheas


52


The reindeer ....


52-3


The elk ....


54-5


The urus ....


55-6


The aurochs


56-7


The country of the Cimbri


. 57-8


The Guttones


58-9


The Amber Islands


60-1


Extent of commerce in amber .


62-3


Voyage to Thule


. 64-67


Discoveries in the Arctic Circle


67-70


Return to Britain


71


Return to Marseilles .


72


Character of Pytheas


1Z



CHAPTER III.

Imaginary travels based on discoveries of Pytheas
Their confusion with records of real travel
Beginning of scepticism on the subject
Criticism of Dicsearchus
The acceptance of Pytheas by Eratosthenes
Euhemerus the rationalist : his account of Panchaia
Argument based on his fictions
Reply of Eratosthenes



74
75

75
75
1^
75
75
76



xii Origins of English History.



Criticisms by Polybius and Strabo . . .76

Geographical romances ... 77

Plato's use of the Carthaginian traditions . -77

Atlantis . . • • • 77

Origin of the stories of monstrous men . . 78

" The Wonders beyond Thule " . . 78

The epitome of Photius . • . .78

Plot of the romance .... 79

Stories of Germany and Thule . . . 78-81

Of the Germans and the Hercynian Forest . 80

Stories about Britain . . . .81

The legend of Saturn and Briareus . . 81

The Northern Pygmies . . . .81

Story preserved by Procopius . . . 81-83

Island of Brittia . . . . .82

The conductors of the dead ... 82

The communism of Thule . . . -83

The King of the Hebrides . . . . 83-4

Modern variations of the legend . . .84

Evan the Third and his law ... 84

Mediaeval use of the legend . . .84

The romance of " The Hyperboreans " . . 85

Description by Lelewel . . . -85

Stories of the Arctic Ocean ... 86

Britain described as " Elixoia " . . .86

The Circular Temple .... 86

The Boread Kings . . . .86

Solar legends .... 86

A description of the Hyperborean customs . . 87

The suicides of the old men ... 88

Historical v^eight of the legend . . . 88-9

Family-cliffs and family-clubs ... 88

Barbarous practices of northern nations . . 89

Mention of other romances ... 89

The Attacosi . . . . .89

The description of the Fortunate Islands, by Jambulus 89

His accounts of strange kinds of men . . 89

Fictions rejected by Tacitus ... 90



Contents.



Xlll





I'AGE


CHAPTER IV.




Recapitulation


gi


Later Greek travellers


91-2


Artemidorus


91


Posidonius the Stoic


92


His travels in Western Europe .


92


Condition of the Celts in Britain


93


Difficulty of framing general rules


93


Division of population into three stocks


93


British Gauls


93


Insular Britons ....


93


Other tribes ....


93


Methods of finding their ancient settlements .


93


Antiquarian research .


94


Philological method


94


Division of the Celtic languages .


94


Living forms in Wales


94


Ireland ....


94


Scotland ....


94


Man ....


94


Brittany ....


94


Dead forms ....


94


Welsh of Strathclyde


94


Pictish ....


94


Cornish ....


94


Gaulish ....


94


The Celtic of Thrace and Galatia


94


Originals from which the groups are derived


95


Lingua Britannica


95


Affinities of Old Welsh


95


Whether more related to the Irish or the Gaulish


95-6


Theory of the division of the Celtic stock


96


Brythonic and Goidehc races


96


Origin of the Theory . . . .


97


Similarity of Welsh and Gauhsh languages


97


The likeness explained


97-8


It arose from independent causes


98



XIV



Origins of English Histoi'y.



The languages not similar at the same time
Likeness betwen old forms of Welsh and Irish
Welsh and Irish at one time united
Occupation of Britain by one Celtic horde
Separation of Welsh and Irish languages
British language distinct from Gaulish
Practical result of accepting the theory .



PACK
98

99

99

99

100

100

lOI



CHAPTER V.



The Gauls in Britain

Invasion by the King of Soissons

Older settlements

Kingdoms of Kent

Forest of Anderida

The Trinobantes

Extent of their dominions .

The Iceni

The Catuvellaunian Confederacy

Civilisation of the Gaulish settlers

Their physical appearance .

Dress

Ornaments

Equipments in peace and in war

Scythed chariots .

Agricultural knowledge

Cattle .

Domestic hfe

A Gaulish feast .



102-119
102

102-3

103-4
104
105
105
106
107
108
109
no
III

1 1 2-3
114

115-6
117
117

118-9



CHAPTER VI.

Population outside the Gaulish settlements

How classified

Stone Age ....



120

121

121



Content'^.



XV





PAGE


Bronze Age ....


121


Iron Age ....


121


Special evidence as to Britain .


122


Palseolithic Age ....


123


Later Stone Age


124


Tombs of the Kings


124


Cromlechs ....


125


Rites and superstitions


125-6


Wayland's Smithy


126-7


Trous des Nutons


128


Classification of barrows


128


Chambered and unchambered varieties


129


Their contents


129-30


Physical characteristics of the Tomb-builders .


130


The nature of their society


130-2


Lake-dwellings ....


132


Survival of the neolithic race


133


Legends of Irish bards


134


The Firbolgs


135


Black Ceks ....


136


The Silures ....


^^1


Their character and habits


138


Commencement of Bronze Age .


139


On the Continent


140


In Britain ....


141


Tribes of Finnish type


141


Contents of their tombs


142


Their implements


143


Ornaments ....


144


Agriculture ....


145


Nature of their society


145.6



CHAPTER VII.



Oldest settlements in Britain
Theories of British ethnology
Fair and dark races



147

148

148-9



XVI



Origins of Ejiglish History.





PAGE


Theory as to Iberians


149


Aquitanians ....


149


Variety of Iberian customs


• 149-50


Basque Tribes


150


Origin of Milesian legends .


151-2


Mr. Skene's view as to the Silures


153


Ethnological table


154


Survivals of the pre-Celtic stocks


155


Evidence from language and manners


156


Comparison of Aryan customs .


157


Local names ....


. 158-60


Personal names


160-1


Abnormal words and constructions .


161-2


Classical notices : Vitruvius


163


Tacitus ....


164


Herodian ....


164


Dion Cassius ....


• 164-5


Caledonians and Picts


165-6


Rock-carvings and sculptured stones


166-8


Customs of succession


169


Coronation rites ....


170-1


Relics of barbarism in mediaeval Connaught


172-3


Ancient customs in Wales .


174


St. Almedha's Fair


175


Cursing-customs ....


. 175-6


Sin-eater ....


176



CHAPTER VIII.

Customs foreign to Celtic and Teutonic usage

Anomalous laws of inheritance .

Borough-Enghsh

Mainete and Jungsten-Recht

Theories of their origin

Their wide extent

Primitive forms in Wales and Shetland

In Cornwall and Brittany

Distribution of Junior-right in England



178


178


179


179


180


180


I8I-2


183


183



Contents. xvii



South-eastern district .... 183

Danish towns ..... 184

Customs of Kent .... 185-6

Customs in Sussex .... 187-8

The neighbourhood of London . . . i8g

Manor of Taunton-Deane .... 189-go

North-western France and Flanders . . igo

" Theel-boors" of East Friesland . . • . igi

Germany ..... ig2-3

Bornholm and Russia .... ig3

Attempts to explain the custom . . . ig4-6

Early forms of primogeniture . . . igy

" Principals " or Freciput . . . ig8

Eldest daughter ..... 198-g

The Law of the Sword . . . igg

Glanville ..... 200

Extension of custom .... 201-2

Bracton ..... 203

Custom of the Pays de Caux . . . 203

Ireland and Norway .... 204

Religious origin of customs . . . 205

Laws of Manu ..... 205

Survivals of a domestic religion . . . 206-7

The fire and hearth .... 207

The remembrance bowl . . . 208

Household spirits .... 209

Feast of All Souls .... 210
" Brande Erbe " . ' . . . .211

Analogous origin of Junior-right . . 212

Early extension of Altaic peoples . . . 212

Mongolian and Ugrian customs . . 213

Tchudic superstitions .... 214

The mandrake .... 215-6

CHAPTER IX.

Physical condition of the country . • 217
Misrepresented by Roman orators . . .218

Its state under Agricola , . • 218



xviii Origins of English History.



PAGE

Under the Plantagenets and Elizabeth . . 219

No genuine early descriptions . . • 220

Sources of Bede's statements . . . 220-1

Ancient accounts of Ireland . . . 221-2

The picture of Britain by Gildas . . . 222

True sources of information . . . 223

Pliny, Aneurin, Giraldus .... 224

Description of British village . . . 225

The Celts of North and West Britain . . 226

How affected by the English invasions . . 226-7

Evidence from language .... 227-8

Tribes of the South-West . . . 229

Their culture and trade .... 230

Description of their ships . . . 231

The Silures ..... 232

The Dobuni of the Cotswolds . . . 232-3

The Cornavians ..... 233

The Ordovices . . . 233-4

The central tribes .... 234

The Coritavi .... 234-5

Notices by Strabo and Caesar . . . 234-5

Migratory tribes .... 236

The northern confederation . . . 236-7

Queen Cartismandua .... 237-9

Rules a Brigantian tribe .... 237

Commands the Brigantian army . . 238

Defeats Caractacus .... 239

Brigantians compared with Irish . . 240-1

CHAPTER X.

Religion of the British tribes . . . 242

Its influence on the literature of romance . . 243

Theories about Druidism . . . 243-4

The Welsh Triads .... 244-5

Legend of Hugh the Mighty . . . 245-6

Mythological poems of the bards . . . 247-8

Taliessin . ... 248-g



Contents. xix



PAGE

Religion of the Gauls .... 249-50

The greater gods . . . . 251
Reckoning by nights . . . .251

Mercury and Minerva .... 252

The worship of Belenus .... 252

Adoration of plants .... 253-4

Mistletoe and club-moss .... 253

Water-pimpernel .... 254

Teutates, Esus, Taranis .... 254-6

Camulus ..... 255

Goddesses ..... 256-7

The Mothers .... 257

Giants ..... 257

Origin of Druidism .... 258

Druidism in Britain .... 258-g

Scottish and Irish Druids . . . 258-9

Their magic ..... 259

Position of the Druids in Gaul . . . 259-60

Human sacrifices .... 261

In Britain and Ireland . . . 262

Slaughter of hostages .... 263

Sacrifices for stability of buildings . . 263-5

Doctrines of the Druids .... 265

Metempsychosis .... 266

Disappearance of Druidism . . . 267

In Ireland and Scotland . . . 267-8

Other remains of British religions . . . 268

In legends of saints .... 268-9

In romance ..... 269

St. Bridget's. fire .... 270

Nature of the idols .... 271

Superstitions about natural phenomena . . 272-3

Mirage and sunset .... 272

Laughing-wells .... 274

Pin-wells ..... 274-5

Worship of elements .... 275

The Irish gods ..... 275-7

The Dagda . . . . . 275-6



XX



Origins of English History.





PAGE


Moon-worship ....


276-7


Degradation of British gods


277-8


Principal famihcs of gods .


. 278-81


Children of Don


278


OfNudd ....


279


OfLir . .


279-81


Legend of Cordelia


280


Bran and Manannan . . . ,


281


Relics of sun-worship


282


Fire-worship


282-3


Rustic sacrifices ....


• 283-4


Offerings to saints


284-6


Sacred animals .


. 285-7


Prohibition of certain kinds of food


288


Claims of descent from animals


288


Totemism ....


288-9


CHAPTER XL




Character of the Roman Conquest


290


The century of peace after Caesar's invasion .


291


Increase of commerce with Gaul


292


Fresh settlements of Gauls in Britain


. 292-4


The Atrebates, Belgae and Parisii


292


Metallurgy ....


293


List of exports


293-4


End of the peace


294


The capture of Camulodunum .


294-5


The triumph of Claudius .


• 295-6


Massacre of the captives


297-8


Enrolment of British regiments


298


Conquest of the Southern districts


299


The colony of Camulodunum


300


Tyrannical measures .


301


Revolt of the Iceni


301-3


Victory of Paulinus .


303-4


The constitution of the province


305


Agricola's government


306



Contents.



XXI





PAGE


His campaigns . .


. 306-7


The visit of Hadrian .


308


Description of Caerleon


309


Discipline of the legions


309-10


Growth of towns ....


. 310-11


Hadrian's Wall


312-15


Description of its remains . . . .


315


The Wall of Antoninus


316


Tablets erected by the soldiers


316-7


Their worship and superstitions .


317


The expedition of Severus


318


The revolt of Carausius


319


Influence of the Franks


320


Diocletian's scheme of government


321


Constantius and Constantine the Great


321-2


A new system of administration .


323-4


The military roads


324


The mediaeval highways


325-6


Wathng Street ....


326


System of communications


327


The lines from north to south


328


Transverse routes in the north .


328-9


Connections in the south and west .


329


The Saxon Shore


329-30


The Ikenild Way


330-1


The Antonine Itinerary


331


The Peutingerian Table


. 332-3


Effect of the new constitution


334


Increase of taxation


334-5


Christianity established


335


Gradual decay of paganism


336


Pantheistic religions .


337


State of the frontiers


338


The Picts and Scots .


338-9


The Franks and Saxons


. 338-9


Victories of Theodosius


339-40


The revolt of Maximus


340


The successes of Stilicho


341



XXI 1



Origins of EnglisJi History.



Usurpation of Constantine
The treason of Gerontius
Independence of Britain



PAGE

341
342
342



CHAPTER XII.

Troubles of the Britons

Fresh invasions of Picts and Scots .

The Saxon pirates

The Hallekiia victory

The appeal to Aetius .

Beginnings of the English conquest .

Early Welsh poems

Nennius

Romances of Arthur .

The history of Gildas

Its dramatic nature

Its imitation of the Vulgate

The story of Vortigern

His war with the mercenaries

The victory of Ambrosius

The Mons Badonicus

English accounts of the conquest

Influence of ancient ballads

Description of the invasion

Saxons, Jutes, and Angles .

Their continental home

Other invading tribes

The Frisians

Argument from local names

The conquest of Kent

Welsh traditions .

Horsa's tomb

Legends of Hengist

The conquest of Sussex

Destruction of Anderida

Fate of the Roman towns

Rise of the House of Cerdic



343
343
344

344-5

345-6

346

346

347

347-8

348

349

349

349

350

350

351

352

352-3

353

354-6

354-7

357

358

358-9

359-61

361-2

362-3

363-5
366

367

368-9

369-70



Contents.



XXlll





PAGE


Conquest of Wessex .


371-2


Victories of Cerdic and Cynric


373


The wars and fate of Ceawlin


374-7


Genealogies of the kings .


378


The conquest of Northumbria .


378


East Anglia and Mercia


. 378-80


Reign of Ida


380-1


Welsh traditions .


381


Reign of iElle


381


Of^thelfrith


. 381-2


General description of the conquest


382


Ancient poems .


382


The sea-kings described by Sidonius


383-4


The lord and his companions


. 384-6


Degradation of the peasantry


386-7


Free townships .


. 388-9


Co-operative husbandry


390


Village customs .


390


Survivals of heathenism


390-2


Festivals


393


Sacrifices ....


394


Character of English paganism


394-6


Conversion of Northumbria


396


Of Sussex


397


Of the remaining kingdoms


398


APPENDIX I.





Knowledge of the ancients as to Northern and Western
Europe , . . . .



399



APPENDIX II.

A list of the principal Greek and Latin writers to which
references have been made .



425



Online LibraryCharles Isaac EltonOrigins of English history → online text (page 1 of 38)