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Origins of English History. 151

vocabulary, which is borrowed for the most part from
Celtic, Latin, and Spanish. The language itself is only-
known in a modern form, and the leading philologists have
agreed that it is a helpless task to compare its root-words
with the " non- Aryan residuum " which may be found by
a close examination of the Celtic vocabulary.

Before leaving this part of the subject, it will be proper
to mention with more detail the ethnological theory which
has been based upon the Irish legends. The punning
fancies of monks and bards have been dignified with the
name of a tradition ; but they should rather be regarded
as the inferences of ignorant men puzzled to account for
the form of an unknown name or a fragment coming
dow^n from some lost mythology.

Let us take as an example the story of the Milesian
invasion of Ireland. We have already noticed the gro-
tesque incidents recounted in the " Book of Invasions."
The nomenclature of the legend is modern. One of the
heroes is buried at St. Michael's Rock, and the wife of
another in a churchyard near Tralee ; the harbour of
" Inbher Slainge," w^here the ships were wrapped in a
Druidical mist, retained its ancient name of ^^ Moda,'' or
" Modonus^' from the time of Ptolemy till after the death
of St. Adamnan, six centuries afterwards. The whole
story is mediaeval in every point ; yet w^e are asked to give
weight to the fact that " every peasant in the barony can
relate the landing of the Milesians," or to the Irish habit
of fixing some story of a Fenian or a fairy battle as
having happened near a stone-circle or the ruins of a
megalithic tomb.

Any one who has read Keating's " History of Ireland "
will perceive how the bards played on the words " holg^'



152 Origins of English History,

a bag, ''''domhnoin^' deep, and ^^ gdi^' a spear. The Fir-
bolgs were the "men of the bag": the Greeks had sub-
jected them in Thrace to great hardship and slavery,
obHging them to dig earth and raise mould, and to carry it
in leather-sacks and place it on rocks to make a fruitful
soil ; and it was out of the sacks that they made the
hide-bound boats for travelling to the Irish Sea. With
the like futility the name of the Damnonians was derived
from the pits which they dug in the Thracian hills to get
mould for the " men of the bag" ; and the title of the "Fir-
Gaillian," another of the legendary tribes, was taken from
the long spears that they bore for the protection of their
brethren as they worked. We have been told by persons
of great learning and power of research that "it is not
difficult to recognise in this tradition the people who
worked the tin by digging in the soil and transporting it
in bags to their hide-covered boats "; and it is added, that
the "traditions" of the physical appearance of the early
Irish colonists will lead us to the same conclusion.^

If we ask for the source of these last-named traditions,
we are referred to the " Genealogies " of MacFirbis, an
old bard who wrote at the end of the 17th century.
O'Curry^ cites passages to the following effect from the
strange rambling preface. The white-skinned warriors,
brown-haired, bounteous and brave, are the descendants
" of the sons of Miledh in Erinn." " Every one who is
fair, revengeful, and big, and every plunderer, and every
musical person and professor of music and entertainment,
and all who are adepts in Druidism and magic, these are the
children of the Tuatha De Danann in Erinn." But everv

1 Skene, Celtic Scotland, i. 177.

^ MSS. Materials for Irish Histor}% 223.



Origins of English History. 1 53

peasant who listened to the history knew well enough, or
thought he knew, that the fair revengeful tribe had fled to
the secret palaces inside " the fairy-hills " ; for there were no
mortal affinities in the Tribe of Gods, or ^^Plebs Deontm^''
as their early worshippers had called the personified
powers of nature. Let us pass, however, to the picture of
"the men of the bag, the pit, and the spear," to judge for
ourselves whether it fairly represents, as we are told, the
Silures of the Severn Valley, and "the lowest type of the
Irish people." " Every one who is black-haired and a
tattler, guileful, tale-telling, noisy, and contemptible, every
wretched, mean, strolling, unsteady, harsh, and inhospitable
person, every slave, and every mean thief, these are the
sons of the Fir-Bolg, of the Fir-Gailiun, and of the Fir-
Domhnan in Erinn."

On the other hand, we are told that the black cloaks
and goats' beards of the men in the Tin Islands are to be
taken in a non-natural sense. "They seem to be an
exaggerated and distorted representation of the darkness
of the complexion, and the curled hair attributed to the
Silures." Cornwall itself is turned into an archipelago of
Hesperides lying out at sea away from the Damnonian
shore ; and the plain words of the old Greek travellers
are twisted into these obscure meanings to suit Camden's
geography, and to preserve the apparent value of " notions
prevailing among the people themselves of their ethno-
logy, their supposed descent, and their mutual relation to
each other."^

We have shown our reasons for rejecting the authority
of such false traditions. But it would not be proper to

^ Skene, Celtic Scotland, i. 167, 179.



154 Origins of English History.

pass from the subject without noticing the ethnological
table which has been constructed by those who attach a
real importance to the existence of these ancient rumours.
The foUowino; mav be taken as a fair summary of the clas-
sification in question.^ In the Neolithic Age a people
possessing the physical characteristics of the Iberians had
spread at one time over the whole of Great Britain and
Ireland. Their representatives were («) the tin-workers of
Cornwall and the Scilly Islands: (5) the tribe of the
Silures in South Wales : and, (c) the people called the
Firbolgs in the legendary history of Ireland. These
tribes were invaded by the people of the round-headed
skulls, otherwise called the Celtic Race. They were
divided into two chief branches, marked respectively by
their Gaelic and British forms of language, both branches
having originally belonged to one stock. Each of these
great branches is taken to have been further subdivided,
the Gaelic branch including (i) a fair-skinned, large-
limbed, and red-haired race, represented in Britain by the
people of the interior, (2) the Tuatha De Danann of the
legendary history of Ireland, (3) the * Cruithnigh,'" a name

1 See Skene's Celtic Scotland, i. 164, 226, 227.

- According to the Irish legends, it was in the reign of Eireamhnon the
Milesian, that the Cruitnigh, or Picts, " a people from Thrace," landed at
Wexford Harbour, but were driven to the neighbouring Caledonian shores.
The chief interest in the story lies in the clue A\hich it affords to the
methods of its manufacture. These Picts are called the children of Gleoin
jNIac Ercol, or in other words, the children of Gelonus the son of
Hercules, and they were named Agathyrsi. These are obvious allusions
to Virgil's " Pictosque Gelonos," Georg. ii. 115, and to the painted
Agathyrsi of Herodutus. Latham quotes a passage from a tenth-century
Life of St. Vodoal, which places the matter beyond a doubt. " The
Blessed Vodoal was sprung from the arrow-bearing nation of the Geloni,
who are believed to have come from Scythia. Concerning whom the poet



Origins of English History. 155

applied to the Picts of Scotland, and to the people who
preceded the Scots in Ulster, and (4) a fair-skinned,
brown-haired race, represented by ' the Milesians ' and
afterwards called the Scots. The British branch may be
taken to include the people ' resembling the Gauls,' who
spread over the whole of the districts which were formed
into the Roman province. They included the people who
afterwards talked Cornish as well as those whose language
appeared in later times as the Welsh.

We have preferred the view that the dark tribes were
descended from a people or peoples of unknown affinities,
established in both islands as early as the Neolithic Age,
and that the fair round-headed tribes came from a people
related to the Finnish nations of the Baltic; and there
seems to be evidence that, though the lineage of these
latter tribes has never been completely traced, they were
at any rate distinct from the fair oval-headed men, " la
race aryenne a tcte allongec,'' to which belonged the true
Celts and the kindred stocks in Scandinavia and Germany.^

We shall endeavour to show the presence down to late
times of societies deriving their origin from these pre-
Celtic stocks, partly by the evidence of the eye-witnesses
who have left accounts of their manners and physical
appearance, and partly by an examination of those points
of language and local custom which the best authorities
on those subjects have taken to be survivals from the
earliest inhabitants of Britain.

■writes, ' pictos(]ue Gelorios,' and from that time till now they are called Picts."
Ethnol. Brit. Isles, 256. Compare the " sagittiferi Geloni "' of ^neid. viii.
725. The name ' Cruitnigh ' refers to the custom of tattooing.

' Congres Celtujue {St. Brieiic, 1867), 358. Compare "British Barrows,"
646,656,7125 ^rc//«o/o;^f/ff, xxxvii. 432, xlii. 175,460; Proc. Royal Inst.
1870, p. 118.



156 Origins of English History.

As to language, we must trust to those who (in the
words of Professor Rhys^) are engaged in the laborious
but not impossible task of deciphering "the weather-worn
history " of the Celtic tongues. By the help of well-
established rules of phonology the search for the origin of
the verbal and grammatical forms in Welsh and Irish has
already been carried out with great success : " some of the
most stubborn words of the vernacular have been forced,
one after another, to surrender the secrets of their pedi-
gree;" while others can only be explained on the theory
that they came from some source alien to every language
in the Aryan or "Indo-European" family.

As to the proof from anomalous customs and usages,
we must still be in the main indebted to the labours of
philological scholars. It has been discovered by the
patient comparison of the surviving Aryan vocabularies,
that the primitive ancestors of the Indo-German or Indo-
Celtic nations, before their dispersion into the eastern and
the western groups, had attained to what may be fairly
called a high standard of civilisation. The picture of
their society has been traced by the skilful author of the
Indo-German Lexicon from the words for their customs
and family relationships, their homes, habits, food, and
incidents of daily life. They are shown to have been
organised in communities framed on the model of the
patriarchal household. They had adopted the system of
regular marriage, a family religion, and a method of
agnatic descent through males which was connected with
their piety and reverence for the dead. In the household
the father was the king and priest, but the wife ruled her
own department and bore office in the family government.

^ Lectures on Welsh Philology, 6, 8y.



Origins of Ejiglish History. 157

Outside the household the gradations in rank between the
chief and his noble kinsmen, and down to the servants of
the clan, were marked with the strictest accuracy. The
people had made great progress in the arts of industry :
they built their timber houses with doors and windows,
and knew how to fence the homestead against wild-beasts,
to harness the horse for draught and the oxen for work at
the plough. Their name for the moon, " the measurer,"
shows that they divided their years and months by her
periods. They met in common meals by the family hearth,
w^here the meat and pulse were cooked in cauldrons, and
the offerings and libations were made to the sacred fire ;
and such was the importance that they paid to these
details, that in most of the derivative languages the eating
of uncooked meat has supplied epithets of loathing and
disdain for outcast and barbarian men.

But when we examine the condition of some of the
tribes in Britain, we shall find some that remained late
into the historical period far lower than the level of the
Aryan culture, resembling rather those rude Esthonian
hordes, wanderers of the Baltic coasts and the forests
beyond the Vistula, to whom the notion of the family and
the state and the benefits of social order were things
which wTre hardly known. In such an inquiry we shall
derive assistance from the mediaeval writers, who were
quick to notice the " evill and wilde uses," which were
foreign to their own experience. Spenser was one of the
first to give a philosophical account of the matter. His
" View of the State of Ireland " shows that he well under-
stood the importance of a comparison of abnormal customs
and beliefs in tracing the descent of nations. He was
desirous of showing how much the Irish had borrowed



158 Origins of English History.

"from the first old nations which inhabited the land":
and he saw that in the absence of authentic tradition much
might be gained by the study of archaic usages, "old
manners of marrying, of burying, of dancing, of singing, of
feasting, of cursing" ; and though some of his theories have
ceased to be instructive, the value of his instances has still
remained unimpaired.

We must deal in the first place with the vestiges of the
unknown languages, in local and tribal names, in sepulchral
inscriptions, and in those idioms and grammatical or verbal
forms which are thought to bear signs of the alien influence.
It is unfortunate that the selected tests, the occurrence of
the letter "p," and the use of the "s" between vowels,
should fail us in England itself; but the mark, which
denotes the existence of non-Celtic tribes in the districts
which the Gauls did not occupy, becomes ambiguous in a
place where the local names may have been given by a
colony or a regiment from the Continent. The presence
of the "Parish" in Holderness, of the Belgians in Wilts
and Somerset, and the title of " Belisama," borrowed from
a Gaulish goddess for the name of a river in Lancashire,
must render vain for those parts of the country the appli-
cation of the phonological rule, however sure we may feel
for other reasons that the non-Aryan elements existed
among the dark Lancastrians or in the mixed populations
of the wolds and the western hills.

We must choose those remoter districts which may be
taken as free from the Gaulish influence, as the Grampian
Hills, the Irish town ''^ Isamnium^' the river ^^ Atisoha'' fall-
ing into Galway Bay, and the country of the ^'' Erpeditani "
surrounding the waters of Lough Eirne.

One of the regions inhabited by the tribes in question



Origins of English History. 159

included, as it seems, the wild tracts of Kintyre and Lome and
the distant island of Lismore, not far from the Irish coast.
All these places took their name from the "Epidii," whose
language may have influenced the language as far as the
districts of " Lucopibia," in Wigtonshire, and "Epeiacum,"
a place which is represented by the modern Ebchester.

Another such district may be found in North Wales,
where a secluded tribe bore the same name as one of the
dark-skinned clans on the banks of the Shannon. This
was the country of the Gangani, who were perhaps the
same as the " Cangi," of Tacitus. They held the high
lands round Snowdon, of which the mediaeval proverb
said that " the pastures of Eriri would feed all the
herds in Wales." There is some uncertainty as to the
position of their principal river. The " Tisobius " may have
been the Conway, running down from Bettws-y-Coed to the
Great Orme's Head, or it may have been the sandy estuary
by Pont Aberglasslyn which receives the waters flowing
westward from Snowdon. In the latter case, the " Pro-
montory of the Gangani," which is shown upon Ptolemy's
map, would be the long neck of land that forms the
northern limit of Cardigan Bay. Very little is known of
the ancient history of the tribe. The brief sentences of
Tacitus imply that the natives showed a tameness of spirit
inconsistent with the reputation for courage and skill in
the use of the spear for which their posterity were cele-
brated. The army of Ostorius invaded their country in
the march to the Irish Sea ; the tribal pastures were
ravaged, and a great head of cattle driven in ; but the
people would not venture on an open resistance, and at
most attempted a few insignificant ambushes.

^ Tac. Ann. xii. 32.



i6o Origins of English History.

The country last described seems to have formed one
station in a range of non-Aryan districts, which included
the bleak region round " Octapitarum," or St. David's
Head, Anglesea and Man, some of the western islands,
and in Ireland the parts about Dublin, and at least a
portion of Munster. The opinion is based on the preva-
lence of certain typical names which appear to be related
to words of a Silurian origin. The forms " Menapia " and
*' Menevia " are applied, with trifling variations, to the
City of St. David's, the Isle of Man, the Menai Straits,
and the coast between Dublin and Wicklow ; and we can
hardly attribute their occurrence to any contact with the
'' Menapii " of the coast of Flanders. Then there are
parallel forms, as "Mona" and "Mynyw," which in several
instances are given to the same Menapian districts. The
Isle of Man is called indiff"erently " Monapia," or "Mona,"
or "Manaw"; in Ptolemy's Tables it appears as "Mona-
oida." Anglesey is "Mon" or " Mona," and its channel
was known as the Menevian Strait. The Scottish Isle of
Arran is Ptolemy's Island of " Monarina." It is held by
competent authorities that all these words are connected
with such names as Monmouth or "Mynwy" on the
Monnow River, and "Mumhain" or Momonia, the ancient
title of Munster: and Professor Rhys has concluded that
they are all alike " vestiges of a non-Aryan people whom
the Celts found in possession both on the Continent and in
the British Isles." ^

Something has also been learned from the evidence of
personal names, occurring in early epitaphs or in other
kinds of inscriptions, or found in lists and pedigrees of
kings, or in the mythological tales and legends which pass

^ Rhys, Welsh Philology, i8i, 182. Skene's CeUic Scotland, i. 69.



Origins of English History. i6i

for history. Hundreds of names might be found in these
various repositories which cannot be made to correspond
with the ordinary rules prevaiUng in the Aryan tongues.
We may take such examples as the names of Conn, Gann,
and Sreng, from the mythical history of Ireland ; or Grid,
Ru, Wid, and the like, from the list of the Pictish kings,
or the epitaph of Nudd the Damnonian which was found
on his tomb at Yarrow. But it is laid down by the
philologists that the ancient personal names in a pure
Aryan language were always formed by the composition
of two distinct ideas ; a man would be called by such
a name as "white-head," or "god-given," or "wolf of
war," but not by such simple titles as "white," "gift,"
or "wolf." Hence came the similarity in structure of
such words as Caturix the lord of war, Theodorus and
Devadatta, Hathowulf, Bronwen of the fair bosom, Tal-
haearn of the iron brow. And even where monosyllables
are used as proper names, as "Gwyn," white, or "Arth,"
the bear, we are assured that they can be traced back to a
double form which has suffered compression or elision.
It is only when an Aryan language has been influenced
by contact with an alien form, as Latin by Etruscan, that
the system of nomenclature is changed. But such un-
meaning monosyllables as those above selected bear
no such traces of existence in the compound form, and
must therefore be supposed to have come from a non-
Aryan source. There are said, moreover, to be double
names in the Irish and Welsh inscriptions which indicate
their foreign origin by the very methods of their
composition. " They are quasi-compounds fashioned
after non-Celtic models." Such are the double words
which in effect are merely patronymics, and those by

1 1



i62 Origins of English History.

which a man was designated as "the slave" of a favourite
god.'

A few old words are found imbedded in the Celtic lan-
guages which seem to have been derived from an earlier
source, as ^'cimh^' a word for silver, preserved in Cormac's
Glossary, fern meaning "good," and ond for a "stone,"
and lon^ when used in the sense of ' an elk ' in the legends
of Wales and the Scottish Highlands.^

It is of more importance to observe that a Finnish
idiom has been traced in several of the British languages.
The Welsh, for example, is said to show signs of contact
with a grammar in which the verb and the noun were as
yet used indiscriminately : the inflection of the Welsh pre-
positions, "erof" for me, "erot" for thee, and the like, has
been lately connected with a Magyar usage ; and the same
Ugrian influence has been seen in the incorporation or
infixing of the pronoun in the verb which occurs in the
early forms of Welsh and Irish, and to some extent in the
more modern dialects of Brittany.^

We must pass to the written evidence for the fact
that the fair race, presumably established in these islands
in the Bronze Age, lived on in some parts of the country,
and maintained their primitive usages, long after a higher
standard of culture had been introduced by the Celts.
That such tribes were known to the Romans admits of no

^ See the remarks of Professor Rhys on the subject of such names as
"■ Mogh-Nuadhat," the slave of Nudd, " Mogh-Neid," the slave of Neid
the Irish god of war, or as " Mael-Brigd, the servant of Brigid, and Mael-
Umi, the servant of the bronze." Celtic Britain, 262. Welsh Philology,
426.

2 For an account of some of these words, see Rhys, Celtic Britain, 270.

s Sayce, Science of Language, i. 8^. Compare the discussion on "The
Basque and the Kelt^" Journ. Anthr. Inst., V. i. 26.



Origins of English History. 163



reasonable doubt. " There are men in the North," said
a writer of the Augustan age, "who have huge limbs, and
are full-blooded and white-skinned, with grey eyes and
long, straight, red hair."^ These may well have been
the descendants of the great-statured, round-headed men
whose remains have been found both in Denmark and
Yorkshire, buried in the canoe-shaped chests of oak which
are known as the "monoxylic coffins."^ But we can hardly
suppose that Vitruvius was thinking of the Celtic or
German nations, whose appearance was perfectly familiar
to the writers of that time. They had at least heard of
''the yellow Britons," and had seen Belgians with light-

1 " Sub Septentrionibus nutriuntur gentes immensis corporibus, candidis
coloribus, directo capillo et rufo, oculis caesiis, sanguine multo." Vitruvius,
vi. I. See Camden's Britannia (Gough), xxi. Compare Strabo, iv. 200 j
vii. 290 3 Arnold's Rome, i. 441.

^ See the account of the Gristhorpe interment, Worsaae's Prim. Antiqu.
Denmark, introd. xiii. and p. 96 : — " The bones were much larger and
stronger than those of a more recent date, exhibiting the lines and ridges
for the attachment of the muscles with a degree of distinctness rarely, if
ever, witnessed at the present day. The most remarkable portion was the
head, which was beautifully formed, and of extraordinary size. The skele-
ton measured 6 feet 2 inches." The body had been wrapped in a skin,
and was turned with the face towards the east. The cofhn contained a
bronze spear-head, some flint weapons, and several curious ornaments of
horn or walrus-tooth j by the side of the skeleton lay a basket of bark,
sewed together with sinews, and containing the remains of food deposited
as a votive offering j and the coffin also contained a quantity of vegetable
substance, which appeared to be the decomposed remains of the leaves and
berries of the mistletoe. On the breast was laid "a very singular orna-
ment, in the form of a double rose of riband with two loose ends," com-
posed of a substance resembling thin horn, " but more opaque and not at
all elastic." The remains were deposited in the Museum at Scarborough.
A similar interment was discovered in 1827, near Haderslev in Denmark:
the coffin contained some long locks of brown hair, and several weapons
and implements of bronze, with a very thick woollen cloak edged with a
fringe of threads. Similar discoveries have been made in Suabia.

II *



164 Origms of English History.

brown hair, and Germans with their pale locks twisted
into knots and curls, ^

Everyone must be reminded, by the description of these
tall, red-haired men, of the Caledonians as drawn by



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