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transitory conquest may have increased the intercourse
between the Island and the Continent ; but the origin of
that intercourse must be referred to an older date.

There are signs that an immigration from Belgium had
been proceeding for several generations before the age
of Divitiacus. There was a striking similarity between
the language and manners of the Gauls on both sides of
the Straits, the men of Kent in particular being nearly as
much civilised as their kinsmen across the water ; and
there were also such slight differences as w^ould naturally
be found in colonies long separated from their parent-
states. At a period not very remote from the life-time of
Caesar himself several Belgian tribes had invaded the
country for purposes of devastation and plunder ; and,
finding the place to their liking, they had remained as

1 "Apud eos {sal. Suessiones) fuisse regem, nostra etiam menioria,
Divitiacum, totius Galliae potentissimum, qui quum magnae partis harum
regionuin turn etiam Britanniae imperium obtinuerit." — Caesar, De Bell.
Gall. ii. c, 4.

Origuis of English History. 103

colonists and as cultivators of the soil. Caesar could
recognize the names of several clans, and could point out
the continental states from which the several colonies had
proceeded/ This can no longer be done ; but we may still
hope, by such methods as have already been mentioned,
to distinguish and identify the situations of the Gaulish
kingdoms in Britain. The Gauls of a later generation
pushed far to the north and west; but in Caesar's age
they had not yet advanced to any great distance from the
shores of the German Ocean. They were probably not
yet established in the East Riding or to the westward of
Romney Marsh ; but their settlements were spreading all
round the estuary and up the valley of the Thames ; and
it seems likely that they had occupied all the habitable
districts on the coast between the Wash and the Straits of

The four kingdoms of the "Cantii" stretched across
East Kent and East Surrev between the Thames and the
Channel, and the whole south-eastern district was doubt-
less under their power. But it should be remembered
that a great part of this extensive region was then unfitted
for the habitation of man. The great marshes wxre still
unbanked and open to the flowing of the tide ;- and several
hundreds of square miles were covered by the dense Forest

1 De Bell. Gall. v. c. 14. Compare Pliny's mention of the " Britanni "
in Belgium, Hist. Nat. iv. c. 17.

"- See Prof. Pearson's Historical Maps with reference to the configuration
of the coast at this time. With respect to Romney Marsh, which was
not reclaimed until long afterwards, see Sir G. Airy's Essay on the
Claudian Invasion of Britain. He stated that, if the sluice at Rye were
broken, the whole low-lying district as far as Robertsbridgc would
become a great tidal morass, and that such was undoubtedly its condition
in the age of Caesar.

104 Origins of English History.

of Anderida.^ The Gaulish"^ kingdoms, with their thickly-
packed villages and their " infinite number of inhabitants,"
must have lain to the east of the forest, skirting the sea
upon the south and bounded to the north by a wide dis-
trict of fens and tidal morasses which at that time received
the spreading and scattered waters of the Thames.^

' This forest must at one time have covered most of south-eastern
Britain, and was probably connected with the other forests that stretched
from Hampshire to Devon. The Andred's-Wold comprised the Wealds
of Kent, Surrey, and Sussex, taking in at least a fourth part of Kent, " the
Seven Hundreds of the Weald/' and all the interior of Sussex as far as
the edge of the South Downs, and a belt of about twelve miles in breadth
between the hills and the sea. Lambarde describes the Weald of Kent as
being " stuffed with heardes of deere and droves of hogges," and adds
that " it is manifest, by the Saxon Chronicles and others, that beginning
at Winchelsea it reached in length an hundred and twenty miles towards
the west, and stretched thirty miles in braidth towards the north." Per-
ambul. Kent, 209. See Farley's Weald of Kent, i. 3725 and Kemble,
Anglo-Saxons, ii. 304.

"^ Caesar, De Bell. Gall. v. 12, 14. The Gaulish names to be noticed
are those of the four kings, Cingetorix, Carvilius, Taximagulus, and
Segonax, and that of the chieftain Lugotorix : upon the coins, those of
Epillus and Dubnovellaunus ; and compare the local names, ToUopis for
Sheppey, and Rutnp'ue for Richborough, which appear in Ptolemy's Tables.

^ Sir George Airy has published a paper on the Claudian Invasion
of Britain {Atheiueum, No. 1683), in which the ancient state of the
Thames is carefully described. " Whatever may be the date of the mighty
embankments which have given its present form to the river-channel,
there can be no doubt that they did not exist in the time of Claudius.
Those vast tracts known as the Isle of Dogs, the Greenwich Marshes, the
West Ham and Plumstead Marshes (which are now about eight feet lower
than high-water), were then extensive slobs covered with water at every
tide. The w^ater below London was then an enormous estuary, extending
from the hills or hard sloping banks of Middlesex and Essex to those of
Surrey and Kent, with one head towards the valley of the Thames and
another head towards the valley of the Lea ; and, on the whole, offering a
greater resemblance to the Wash, though longer in proportion to its breadth,
than to any other place on the English coast."

Origins of English History. 105

The Trinobantes, another Belgian tribe, had settled in
such parts of the modern Middlesex and Essex as were
not covered by the oak-forests or overflowed by the sea.
Their western boundary may be fixed in the Valley of the
Lea and along the edge of the " Forest of Middlesex/'
which once spread northwards from the swamp at Finsbury
and covered the Weald of Essex.^ Their northern limit
was fixed at the Valley of the Stour, a flat and marshy
tract which is thought to have been covered at that time
by the sea for a distance of many miles above the termi-
nation of the modern estuary,^

Above them lay the territory of another Gaulish nation.

^ For an account of this tribe see Rhys, Celtic Britain, 17, 310, and Welsh
Philology, 192. For a description of the forest, of which some small
remains exist in our own time, see Robinson, Hist. Hackney, 38. Dr. Guest
describes part of the tribal boundaries in an Essay on the Origin of London
{Athenceum, 1866, No. 2,022). "As the western boundary of the
Trinobantes was undoubtedly the marshy valley of the Lea, the question
naturally arises, What became of the district between the Lea and the
Brent ? Here we have the larger part of our metropolitan county
unaccounted for. The district was merely a march of the ' Catuvellauni,'
a common through which ran a wide track-way, but in which was neither
town, village, nor inhabited house."

^ Sir G. Airy has described the boundary in his Essay on the Clandian
Invasion. " The Stour, traced upwards from Harwich, presents first a
large estuary ; secondly, a large marshy valley, which I have seen covered
with water for many miles in length, and which probal^ly in the ancient
times was estuary." He points out the lines of defence which guarded
the Trinobantian country. " In regard to defence from the mouth of the
Lea to the mouth of the Stour it was well protected by the estuary and
the sea. The Lea is in a wide marshy valley and to its marshes follow
those of the Stort. The only part open to easy attack is the space
between the Upper Valley of the Stour and the Upper Valley of the
Stort ; and this, like the gate of a castle, presents the facilities recjuired
for sallying out upon the rest of the country." He was referring \\\
this passage to a Roman occupation of Essex ; but the description is
equally valuable when applied to the earlier invasion of the Trinobantes.

io6 Origins of English History.

The Iceni, or "the Ecene " (if we name them according
to the legend on their coins)/ had seized and fortified
the broad peninsula, which fronted on the North Sea and
the confluence of rivers at the Wash, and was cut off" in
almost every other direction by the tidal marshes and the
great Level of the Fens. This region included all the
dry and higher-lying portions of the district which was
afterward known as East Anglia. On the western side,
where a ridge of open country rose between the fens and
*' the dense woodlands of Suffolk," Icenia^ was guarded by

' We should note the name of the King Prasutagus, which is sho\\'n to
be GauHsh by the use of the letter " p," and by the position of the "s "
between vowels. Several other " unmistakably Gaulish names " are found
upon the Icenian coins. Such is " Addedomarus/' spelt in some cases
with the crossed "d" and with the tlieta : it has been identified with the
" Assedomarus " of a continental inscription. Other abbreviated forms are
" eesu," "anted," and " antth " 5 the last is taken for " Antethrigu/' a title
found on coins from the West of England. See Rhys, Welsh Philology,
193, 194, and Celtic Britain, 2)6, 277. Evans, Anc. Brit. Coins, 43, 44.
The coins are found in gold and in copper plated with thin leaves of gold.
Compare the description, ibid. 43, of a discovery of implements for striking
spurious imitations of the Macedonian stater. Mr. Akerman first attempted
(Archceologia, xxxiii.) to map the positions of the tribes by means of the
discoveries of buried coins. Applying his method to the Iceni and the
Trinobantes, he found that he could mark out a line where coins of the
latter people had been found, which environed, if it did not strictly limit,
the Icenian country, except where the fens intervened. " The coins of
Cunobelin or with the mint-mark of Camulodunum have been found not only
at Colchester, but also at Debden, Chesterford, Sandy, and Cambridge." See
Akerman's essay and map in the Archceologia, " Pieces with the letters
' ece ' and ' ecen,' which in the opinion of numismatists are coins of the
Iceni, have been found at Weston, between Norwich and Dereham,
Numism. Chron. xv. 98. To this class is assigned a gold coin found at
Oxnead, about ten miles from Weston : none such are authenticated as
found westward of March in Cambridgeshire." Taylor, Topogr. East.
Counties (1869), p, 43.

' For the Icenian boundaries, see Spelman's Icenia ; Camden's Britan-

Origins of English History. 107

a rampart and fosse, now called the Devil's Dyke, which
in time became the limit between East Anglia and Mercia.^
The other Gaulish settlements of Caesar's age were
included in the " Catuvellaunian State, "^ a central kingdom
which had been formed or much extended by the con-
quests of Cassivellaunus. Though his power was checked
in the Roman war, it revived and spread when the legions
were withdrawn : and it is difficult for this reason to ascer-
tain the primitive boundaries of the kingdom. They have
been traced in part along the northern limit of Middlesex,
by following an earthwork called the Grimesditch, "from

nia, 330 3 Babington, Ancient Cambridgeshire, ^, 361.

2 See Livy, xxxviii. 17, 21 ; Lucan, Phars. ii. 108; Amm. Marc. xv. 10.
" X\\EovdCovT£Q ^loi'ov aypioTrjTL fjnyidei kuI ^avOoTTjri." Eustath. ad
Dionys. on the passage, " Xevko. te (piiXa rfj^oi'Tcu." Compare the Gauls
on the shield of yEneas, golden-haired and decked with gold,

" Aurea caesaries ollis atque aurea vestis,
Virgatis lucent sagulis. Tum lactea colla
Auro innectuntur." — Virg. ^n. viii. 659.

no Origins of English History.

shorter and the stouter of limb, and with hair of a paler
colour/ The accuracy of the old descriptions of the Gauls,
(so far, at least, as concerns the kings and the chieftains,)
has been ascertained by comparing the figures that remain
upon monuments and medals, and by an examination of
the skeletons from Gaulish tombs in France. The women,
especially, were singularly tall and handsome ; and their
approximation to the men in size and strength is the best
evidence that the nation had advanced out of the stage of
barbarism. If we may trust Ammianus Marcellinus, who
had a personal knowledge of the people, the women were
more formidable opponents than the men ; on a quarrel
arising between her husband and a stranger, the Gaulish
woman would throw herself into the fight, like a fury, with
streaming hair, and would strike out with her huge snowy
arms or kick, "with the force of a catapult.'"^

The men and women wore the same dress, so far as we
can judge from the figures on the medals of Claudius.
When Britannia is represented as a woman the head is
uncovered and the hair tied in an elegant knot upon the
neck ; where a male figure is introduced, the head is
covered with a soft hat of a modern pattern. The costume
consisted of a blouse with sleeves, confined in some cases by
a belt, with trousers fitting close at the ankle, and a tartan
plaid fastened up at the shoulder with a brooch. The
Gauls were expert at making cloth and linen. They wove
their stuffs for summer, and rough felts or druggets for
winter-wear, which are said to have been prepared with

^ Strabo, iv. 278. Tacitus, Agric. c. 11.

- " Quum ilia .... ponderans niveas ulnas et vastas, admistis calcibus,
emittere coeperit pugnos ut catapultas tortilibus nervis excussos." — Amm.
Marc. XV. 12. See Athena^us, xiii. 8.

Origins of English History. ill

vinegar, and to have been so tough as to resist the stroke
of a sword. ^ We hear, moreover, of a British dress, called
giianacum by Varro, which was said to be "woven of
divers colours, and making a gaudy show."" They had
learned the art of using alternate colours for the warp and
woof, so as to bring out a pattern of stripes and squares.
The cloth, says Diodorus, was covered with an infinite
number of little squares and lines, " as if it had been
sprinkled with flowers," or was striped with crossing bars,
which formed a chequered design. The favourite colour
was red or a ' pretty crimson : ' " such colours as an
honest-minded person had no cause to blame, nor the
world reason to cry out upon."^

They seem to have been fond of every kind of orna-
ment.'* They wore collars and "torques" of gold, neck-
laces and bracelets, and strings of brightly-coloured beads,
made of glass or of "a material like the Egyptian porce-
lain."^ A ring was worn on the middle finger, at the time

1 Pliny, Hist. Nat. viii. 48. " Strutt, Chron. 275.

^ Pliny, Hist. Nat. xxii. i : " Behold the French inhabiting beyond the
Alpes have invented the meanes to counterfeit the purple of Tyrus, the
Scarlet also and the Violet in graine : yea, and to set all other colours that
can be devised, with the juice onely of certaine herbs " (Holland, ii. 115).
Then follows the sentence quoted in the text. For the other passages, see
Diod. Sic. V. c. 30 ; Pliny, Hist. Nat. xvi. c. 18; Pausanias, x. 2)(^. See
also Logan's Scottish Gael. i. c. 6, for an account of the ancient Highland
dress, and of the manufacture of tartan in the Hebrides. " Bark of alder
was used for black ; bark of willow produced flesh-colour. Crotil geal,
a lichen found on stone, was used to dye crimson, and another called
Crotil duhh, of a dark colour, only dyes a philamot."

^ Diod. Sic. V. c. 27 ; " Les Gau/ois portaient des colliers, des louc/es
d'oreilles, des bracelets, des annenux pour les Iras en or et eJi cuivre, sinvant
leur rang, des colliers en ambre," &c. (Napoleon, Fie de Cesar, ii. 30).

^ Archceologia, xliii. 499. The glass is thought to have been brought from
the Alexandrian factories. It is unlikely that it could have been made in

112 Origins of English History.

with which we are dealing; but in the next generation the
fashion changed, and that finger was left bare while all the
rest were loaded/

A chief dressed in the Gaulish fashion must have been
a surprising sight to a traveller. His clothes were of a
flaming and fantastic hue ; his hair hung down like a
horse's mane, or was pushed forward on his forehead in a
thick shock, if he followed the insular fashion. The hair
and moustaches were dyed red with the "Gallic soap," a
mixture of goat's fat and the ashes of beechen logs. They
decked themselves out in this guise to look more terrible
in battle ; but Posidonius, when he saw them first, declared
that thev looked for all the world like Satyrs, or " wild
men of the woods. "^

The equipment of the Belgians in war'^ has been often

Britain, because the natives were as yet unable to make bronze (Caesar,
De Bell. Gall. v. 12), and glass-making is said to be the concomitant of the
manufacture of that metal. " The scor'uc from the bronze-furnaces are in
fact a kind of glass, a silicate of soda, coloured blue or green by the silicate
of copper." Figuier, Prim. Man (Tylor). As to the green glass found in
Scandinavian tombs, and attributed to a commerce with Phosnicia, see
Nilsson, Stone Age (Thoms), p. 82.

^ " Galliae Britanniaeque in medio (annuluni) dicuntur usae. Hie nunc
solus excipitur ; ceteri omnes onerantur, atque etiam privatim articnli
minoribus aliis " (Pliny, Hist. Nat. xxxiii. c. 4).

" Diod. Sic. V. c. 28; Caesar, De Bell. Gall. v. 13. " Demens imitare
Britannos, Ludis et externo tincta nitore caput" (Propert. Eleg. ii. 18, 23).
" Prodest et sapo, Galliarum hoc inventum rutilandis capillis : fit ex sebo
et cinere. Optimus fagino et caprino." (Pliny, Hist. Nat. xxvnii. c. 12.)
The Germans used the same wash or dye, which ^vas called " Spuma Batava "
(Mart. Epig. viii. 23). " Caustica Teutonicos accendit spuma capillos "'
{Hid. xiv. 26). " Flavus color bellum minatur, ceu cognatus sanguini "
(Clemens. Paedagog. ii. 3). I'he subject of the hair-dressing of the
northern nations is discussed with much detail in the 4th part of Grupen,
*' De Uxore Theotisca."

^ For the Gaulish weapons, see Diod. Sic. v. c. 30 ; Strabo, iv. 197.

Origins of English History. 113

and minutely described. The shield was as high as a
man. The helmet was ornamented with horns and a high
plume, and was joined to the bronze cheek-pieces, on
which were carved the figures of birds and the faces of
animals in high relief. The cuirass was at first of plaited
leather, and afterwards was made of chain-mail or of
parallel plates of bronze. For offence they wore a pon-
derous sabre, and carried a Gaulish pike, with flame-like
and undulating edges " so as to break the flesh all in pieces."
In addition to the bow, dart, and sling, the ordinary
missile equipment, they had some other weapons of which
the use is more difficult to explain.

Strabo mentions, for instance, a kind of wooden dart^
used chiefly in the chase of birds, which flew further than
any ordinary javelin, though it was thrown without the aid
of the "casting-thong." The ^^ mataris'' was another
missile, of which the nature is now forgotten. It may be
the weapon which is depicted on some Gaulish coins,
where a horseman is seen throwing a lasso to which a
hammer-shaped missile is attached. And if the supposi-
tion is correct, it will explain many obscure passages in
ancient writings, where the weapon is described as return-

Online LibraryCharles Isaac EltonOrigins of English history → online text (page 10 of 38)