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find in the same group Amaethon the good husbandman,
and Math the son of Mathonwy, who has been called the
Cambrian Pluto.

The story of the family of " Nudd " is dispersed in the
legends of fairyland and the obscure lives of the saints
and bards of Wales. The figured pavements and inscrip-
tions discovered on the site of a Roman villa at Lydney
in Gloucestershire have disclosed his identity with " No-
dens," a god of the deep sea, who is depicted as a Neptune
borne by sea-horses and surrounded by a laughing com-
pany of Tritons. He appears in Ireland, among other
personifications, as King Nuada of the Silver Hand,
whose magic sword prevailed against the Fir-bolg tribes
at the first Battle of Moytura, and who fell in the second
fight before " Balor of the Evil Eye ": ''fearful," says the
old legend, '' was the thunder that rolled over the battle-
field, the clashing of the straight tooth-hilted swords, the
sighing and winging of the spears and lances."^

"Lir" was another Ocean-god who was worshipped
both in Ireland and Britain. He appears in the Irish
romance on " the fate of the Children of Lir " as a king of
the divine race whose children were turned into swans
by enchantment : " and the men of Erin were grieved at
their departure and they made a law and proclaimed it
throughout the land, that no one should kill a swan in

^ O'Curry, Manners of the Anc. Irish, ii. 253. For other accounts of
Nuada, and his connection with " Diancecht " the divine phj-sican and Luga
the fire-god, see Joyce, Old Celt. Romances, 403, Rhys, Hibbert Lectures,
1886, 125-130, and Hiibner, Corp. Lat. Inscr. vii. 137, 140.

28o Origins of English History.

Erin from that time forth."^ In the Welsh histories he
appears as ' Lear.' According to the version in Geoffrey
of Monmouth's history, which Shakespeare adopted as the
framework of his tragedy, King Lear built the town of
Leicester about the time w^hen Amos was a prophet in
Israel; and his daughter Cordelia is represented as bury-
ing him in a vault under the River Sore, which had been
originally built as a Temple of Janus.^ Cordelia herself
appears in the Welsh stories as that "splendid maiden"
for whom Gwyn ap Nudd and another mythical being were
to fight on every First of May until the day of doom ; and
the explanation of the legend seems to lie in the tradition
of the " Two Kings of the Severn," which is found in a list
of marvels appended to some of the editions of Nennius.
Two lines of weaves w^ere said to meet in the estuary and
to make war upon each other by pushing and butting like

The group of the " Children of Lir " included several
other divinities who came to be regarded as characters of
romance. The Lady Brangwaine, who helps and hides the
loves of Tristram and Iseult, is no other than "Branwen of

1 Joyce, Old Celtic Romances, i8. In the Welsh popular tales "Lir"
is called " Llyr Llediaith " and " Lludd " or " Lludd Llaw Ereint." See
the stories of "Kilhwch and Olwen," "Branwen the daughter of Llyr,"
" Manawyddan the son of Llyr," and " Lludd and Llevelys " in the

2 Geoffr. Monm., Hist. Brit. ii. c. 14. The fabulous narrative contains
several other notices of Roman antiquities, which either existed in the age
of Geoffrey of Monmouth or were described by older writers.

^ See the Tract " De Mirabilibus Britanniae," which is often printed
with the Historia Britonum. For the Welsh story of Cordelia, see Guest's
Mabinogion, 251, 259. Professor Rhys considers that Llyr, or Lear, has
been confused with Lli;d, ' the Celtic Jupiter,' who is the Welsh equivalent
for Nodens. Hibbert Lectures, 1886, 562, ^6^.

Origins of English History. 281

the Fair Bosom," the Venus of the Northern Seas, whose
miraculous fountain still preserves her name in an islet off
the shore of Anglesea. "Bran son of Lir " has under-
gone a more remarkable kind of transformation. A great
number of allusions in the Welsh Triads and the songs of
the mediaeval bards show that Bran and his son Caradoc
were originally gods of war. But the forms of their names
were sufficient in an age of ignorance to identify the one
with Brennus who led the Gauls to Rome and the other
with the brave Caractacus ; and the legend in its final form
shows " Bran the Blessed " accompanying his son into
captivity and returning converted from Rome to preach
the faith of Christ to the Kymry.^

The most important character of the group is the famous
" Manannan Mac Lir." He was the patron of traffic and
merchandise, and according to '' Cormac's Glossary" he
himself was an old and celebrated trader of the Isle of Man,
who could predict the changes of the weather and tell the
signs of the sky. The best weapons and jewels from
across the sea were thought to be gifts from the god. In
the description of the " Fairy Host," contained in an
Irish romance, the chieftain rides Manannan's mare : " she
was as swift as the clear cold wind of spring, and she
travelled with equal ease on land and on sea": he wore
Manannan's coat of mail and had on his breast the god's
cuirass which could not be pierced by a weapon : " his
helmet had two glittering precious stones, one set in front
and one behind, and when he took it off, his face shone like
the sun on a dry day in summer."^

^ Rees, Welsh Saints, 77 ; Haddan and Stubbs, " Early Councils," i. 22 5
Stephens, Lit. Cymry, 429; Guest's Mabinogion, 385.

^ Joyce, Old Celtic Romances, 38. O'Curry, Manners of the Anc. Irish,

282 Origins of English History.

We have seen enough of the religion to understand its
general character, although but a few of the multitude of
its gods have been described. The nature of its ritual
must be inferred from the superstitions which have lingered
in the countrv districts, from rural sacrifices and ceremonial
fires, from services at the "cursing-stones" or the "wishing-
well." The old Welsh names for the cardinal points of
the sky, the north being the left-hand and the south
the right, are signs of an ancient practice of turning to
the rising sun,^

Vestiges of an adoration of the sun may be seen in
the devotions of the Irish peasant, crawling three times
round the healing spring in a circuit that imitates the
course of the sun. When Martin visited the Hebrides he
saw the islanders marching in procession, three times from
east to west, round their crops and their cattle : "if a boat
put out to sea it began the voyage by making these three
turns : if a welcome stranger visited one of the islands the
inhabitants passed three times round their guest : a flaming
brand was carried three times round a child daily until it
was christened."" A worship of fire has survived in the
curious ceremonies by which the " forced-fire," or " will-
fire," was produced in the North of Scotland. If a mur-
rain attacked the cattle a new and pure flame was raised
by the friction of wood. The instruments employed for
the purpose were of various kinds. In Mull they used a
wheel turning in the line of the sun's course over nine

ii. 301. The " Manawyddan son of Llyr " of the Welsh legends, though a form
of the same divinity, seems to have little connection with the Sea. Rhys,
Hibbert Lectures, 1886, 66^^.

^ Rhys, Welsh Philology, 10. Revue Celtique, ii. 103.

^ Martin, Descr. West Islands, 113, 116, 140, 241, 277.

Origins of English History. 283

spindles of oak-wood ; in Caithness a wooden auger was
worked up and down in a groove on the floor of a hut
constructed for the purpose ; in some of the Western
Islands eighty-one married men were employed by nine at
a time to rub two planks together. It seems to have been
thought necessary to extinguish all the other fires in the
district, that they might be lighted afresh from the magical
flame. The service was accompanied by incantations, and
there were strict rules against the wearing of any kind of
metal ; and in ancient times there were several symbolical
rites which connected the superstition with a worship of
the sun in the character of a fertilising and productive

Pennant has left us a description of a rural sacrifice
which in his time was performed on the ist of May in
many Highland villages. They cut a square trench, and on
the turf lighted a fire at which a pot of caudle was cooked.
" The rites begin with spilling some of the caudle on the
ground by way of a libation : on that every one takes up a
cake of oatmeal upon which are raised nine square knobs,
each dedicated to some particular being, the supposed pre-
server of their flocks and herds, or to some particular
animal, their real destroyer : each person then turns his face
to the fire and breaks off^ a knob, and flinging it over his
shoulder says ' This I give to thee, preserve thou my
horses ; this to thee, preserve thou my sheep,' and so on.

1 Martin, Descr. West. Islands, 113. Toland's History of the Druids, 107.
See also Grimm, Deutsch. Mythol. 576, and an account of raising the "will-
fire " in 1826, cited by Kemble, Anglo-Saxons (Birch), i. 360. Several
extracts from the Chronicle of Lanercost, and the Harl. IVISS. 2345, f- 5°^
to be found in the same part of Kemble's work, will show the nature of the
orgies which accompanied the production of the sacred fire.

284 Origins of English History.

After that they use the same ceremony to the noxious
animals : ' This I give to thee, O fox ! spare thou my
lambs ; this to thee, O hooded crow ! this to thee, O
eagle !' When the ceremony is over they dine on the
caudle, and after the feast is finished what is left is hid by
two persons deputed for the purpose ; but on the next
Sunday they re-assemble and finish the relics of the first
entertainment. "1

Another harmless sacrifice was performed in Martin's
time in honour of a water-god who was worshipped by the
natives of the Hebrides. The families came together at
Halloween, and stood by the shore of the sea. A man
carrying a cup of ale waded out in the darkness, and cried
aloud to the god : " Shony ! I give you this cup of ale,
hoping that you will be so kind as to send us plenty of
sea-weed ! " After the libation they all went up to the
church, and there stood silent, until at a given signal a
candle at the altar was extinguished and all returned to
their homes. ^

There are many other instances of sacrifice performed
in comparatively modern times, either to a local god dis-
guised as a saint or to some real person whose memory
has become confused with a pagan legend. There are
records, for example, of bulls being killed at Kirkcud-
bright " as an alms and oblation to St. Cuthbert," of
bullocks offered to Saint Beuno "the saint of the Parish of
Clynnog" in Wales, and to the patron-saint of Applecross
near Dingwall. The registers of the Presbytery of Ding-
wall under the years 1656 and 1678 contain many entries
relating to the killing of bulls on the site of an ancient

^ Pennant, Tour in Scotland, 1772, p. 94.
^ Martin, Descr. West. Islands, 29.

Origins of English History. 285

temple, in honour of Saint Mourie, or " ane god Mourie,"
as he was sometimes styled by his worshippers.^ In other
places a heifer was killed in case of a failure to produce the
"forced fire" in times of pestilence: if the animal was
infected by the murrain, the diseased part was cut out while
the beast was alive, and solemnly burned in the bonfire."
A sacrifice of this kind is said to have been performed in
Morayshire about twenty-five years ago,^ and it is by no
means uncommon to hear of fowls being buried alive or
killed as a preservative against epilepsy,*

There were certain restrictions among the Britons and
the ancient Irish, by which particular nations or tribes were
forbidden to kill or eat certain kinds of animals. It was a
crime, for instance, in Southern Britain to taste the flesh
of the hare, the goose, or the domestic fowl, though the

1 The extracts from the parochial registers and a full account of the
suppression of the idolatrous practices will be found in Mitchell's Past in
the Present, 271, 275. Leland's Itinerary contains a letter describing the
sacrifice of a bullock to St. Beuno in 1589. The offerings to St. Cuth-
bert took place in the twelfth century. Horses were at one time sacrificed
at St. George's Well near Abergeleu. *' The rich were wont to offer one
to secure a blessing on all the rest." Sikes, British Goblins, 361.

^ Grimm, Deutsch. Mythol. 576.

^ Mitchell, Past in the Present, 274; Simpson, Archaeol. Essays, i. 41,
205 ; Liebrecht, Volkskunde, 2935 Revue Celtique, iv. 121.

* " For the cure of epilepsy there is still practised in the north of Scotland
what may be called a formal sacrifice. On the spot where the epileptic
first falls a black cock is buried alive with a lock of the patient's hair and
some parings of his nails." Mitchell, Past in the Present, 146, 26^. The
same disease is called "Tegla's Evil" in Wales, and is cured at St. Tegla's
Well, near Wrexham, by the offering of a cock or hen according to the sex
of the sufferer. The fowl is carried round the well and also round the
church, and is left by the patient at the place. " Should the bird die it is
supposed that the disease has been transferred to it, and the man or woman
is consequently thought to be cured." Sikes, British Goblins, 330, 349 5
Archaeol. Cambr. i. i. 184.

286 Origins of English History.

creatures were reared and kept for amusement/ The
reason for the prohibition is unknown, but it should be pro-
bably connected with the fact that in some parts of Europe
these animals seem to have retained a sacred character.
We have seen that in France and in Russia a fowl is
offered as a propitiation to the household spirits, and in the
last-named country the goose is sacrificed to the gods of the
streams." The hare is now an object of disgust in some
parts of Russia as well as in Western Brittany, where not
many years ago the peasants could hardly endure to hear
its name.^ The oldest Welsh laws contain several allusions
to the magical character of the hare, which was thought
to change its sex every month or year, and to be the com-
panion of the witches who were believed to assume its
shape. In one part of Wales the hares are called "St.
Monacella's lambs," and it is said that up to very recent
times no one in the district would kill one. " When a
hare was pursued by dogs it was believed that if any one
cried ' God and St. Monacella be with thee ! ' it was sure
to escape."^ In Ireland also the local saints were believed

1 Ceesar, De Bell. Gall. v. c. 12.

" Ralston, Russ. Pop. Songs. 129; Revue Celtique, iv. 190.

^ Figuier, Prim. Man. (Tylor), 268 ; Grimm, Deutsch. Mythol.
679. The people of the Swiss lake-dwellings are believed to have shared
the superstitious feeling against eating the hare, but the neolithic tribes in
Britain used the animal for food. Boyd Dawkins, Cavehunting, 217.
The ancient Irish ate its flesh, and one of the prerogatives of the kings of
Tara was to be fed on "the hares of Naas." O'Curry, Manners of the
Ancient Irish, ii. 141.

* The legend is related by Pennant in his " Tour through Montgomery-
shire." See also Sikes' British Goblins, 162. The sacred character of the
animal is indicated by the legend of Boudicca who, according to Dion
Cassius, in Xiphiline's Epitome, "loosed a hare from her robe, observing its
movements as a kind of omen, and when it turned propitiously, the whole
multitude rejoiced and shouted." Dion Cass. Ixii. 3.

Origins of English History. 287

to guard the lives of certain kinds of animals. St. Colman's
teal could neither be killed nor injured ; St. Brendan
provided an asylum for stags, wild-boars, and hares ; St.
Beanus protected his cranes, and the grouse which bred
upon the Ulster mountains.^

The names of several tribes, or the legends of their origin,
show that some real or imaginary object, or animal, was
chosen as the crest or emblem of the race. A powerful tribe
or family pretended to be descended from a wild beast, or a
swan, or a "white lady" who rose from the moonbeams on
the lake. The moon herself was claimed as the ancestress
of certain families. The legendary heroes are turned into
" swan-knights," or fly away in the form of wild geese.
The tribe of the " Ui Duinn," who claimed St. Bridget as
their kinswoman, wore for their crest the figure of a lizard
which appeared at the foot of the oak-tree above her
shrine.^ We hear of a tribal name said to signify " the
calves " in the country round Belfast. The men of Ossory
were called by a name referring to the 'Svild red-deer."^
There are similar instances from Scotland in such names
as " Clan Chattan," or the Wild Cats, and in the animal-
crests which have been borne from the most ancient times

^ Girald. Cambr. Topogr. Hibern. ii. cc. 29, 40, Compare the same
writer's story of the loathing shown by the Irish chieftains on being
offered a dish of roasted crane, Conqu. Hibern. i. c. 31.

^ Revue Celtique, iv. 193.

^" O'Curry, Mann. Anc. Irish, ii. 208. The " Lugi " and " Mertae " are
placed by Ptolemy in the modern Sutherland. " Lugia " is his name for
Belfast Lough. " The Irish name was Loch Laogh and Adamnan renders
it by Stagnum J^ituli. ' Laogh ' is a calf in Irish, and is probably the
word meant by Lugia. If the same word enters into the name ' Lugi,'
it is rather remarkable that ' Mart ' should be the Irish word for a heifer.
It would seem that the tribes took their names from these animals."
Skene, Celtic Scotland, i. 206. Another Irish legend tells us that " the

288 Origins of EnglisJi History.

as the emblems or cognizances of the chieftains. The
early Welsh poems will furnish another set of examples.
The tribes who fought at Cattraeth are distinguished by the
bard as wolves, bears, or ravens ; the families which claim
descent from Caradoc or Owain take the boar or the raven
for their crest. The followers of " Cian the Dog" are
called the "dogs of war," and the chieftain's house is
described as the stone or castle of "the white dogs."^

It seems reasonable to connect the rule of abstaining
from certain kinds of food with the superstitious belief
that the tribes were descended from the animals from
which their names and crests, or badges, were derived.
There are also several Irish legends which appear to be
based on the notion that a man might not eat of the animal
from which he or his tribe was named.^

Such facts suggest an inquiry whether the religion of
the British tribes may not in some early stage have been
connected with that system of ' Totemism ' under which
" animals were worshipped by tribes, who were named
after them, and were believed to be of their breed." This

descendants of the wolf are in Ossory." See on the whole subject Mr.
Gomme's Essay on Totemism in Britain, Archceol. Rev. iii. 217, 3^0.

^ Aneurin's Gododin, 9, 21, 305 Guest's Mabinogion, 37, 328. There
are many traces of the same practice among the Teutonic nations. Their
heroes were believed in many cases to have descended from divine animals,
like the children of Leda or Europa. The Merovingian kings pretended to
trace their descent from a sea-monster, and similar legends occur in the
West of Ireland. Gomme, Gent. Mag. Libr. 'Traditions,' 14. The pedigrees
of the old English kings contain such names as " Sigefugel," " Saefugol,"
and " Beorn," which seem to be connected with legends of a descent from
animals. We may also compare such patronymics as " Dering," " Harting,"
"Baring," and the like.

- In the story of the Death of Cuchulainn, contained in the Book of
Leinster, some witches offer the hero a dog cooked on spits of rowan.

Origins of English History. 289

form of superstition prevails at the present day among
Indians in North and South America, among the natives of
Australia, and in some of the African Kingdoms.^ Traces
of its existence have been found in the early history of
Germans, Greeks, and Latins, as well as in the traditions of
the Semitic nations. In countries where this belief has
prevailed it is generally found that relationship was traced
through females exclusively, and it appears that in many
cases marriage in its proper form was at one time quite
unknown. It is, at any rate, a plausible hypothesis that
these fabled descents from animals and plants may have
originated at a time when paternity was as yet unacknow-
ledged, and a fiction of this kind was required to keep the
mother's offspring united in one family group.

wood. Cuchulainn's name signified "the Hound of Culann." The story
turns on the idea that "one of the things that he must not do was eating his
namesake's flesh." See the translation of the story by Mr. Whitley Stokes,
Revue Celtique, iii. 176 ; O'Curry, Manners of Anc. Irish, ii. ^6'^. The legend
of Einglan, king of the birds, indicates that birds were considered by
some Irish tribes to be sacred, Conaire the Great being the son of the Bird-
king, and therefore 'forbidden to kill birds of any kind.' O'Curry, ibid.,
introd. ccclxx. Some of the Clan Coneely, in the western parts of
Ireland, were said to have been turned into seals, and the believers in the
story would no more eat of a seal 'than they would of a human Coneely.'
Mr. Gomme also states that some of the Achil islanders believed that
they were descended from seals.

^ Under the Red Indians' system of totemism, the "totem" may not be
eaten by any member of the group. Another rule provides that persons
with the same "totem" may not intermarry. The theory of the wide
distribution of " Totemism " among the nations of the ancient world is due
to Mr. J. F. M'Lennan, who first explained it in the Fortnightly Review,
1869, 1870. With regard to the Semitic peoples, see an essay on the
subject by Professor Robertson Smith in the Journal of Philology, 1880, ix.
75. See also Grant Allen, Anglo-Saxon Britain, 79, and Lang, Custom
and Myth, 274.


290 Origins of English History.



Character of the Roman Conquest — The century of peace after Caesar's invasion —
Increase of commerce with Gaul — Fresh settlements of Gauls in Britain — The
Atrebates — TheBelgae — TheParisii — Prosperityof the native states — Metallurgy —
List of exports — End of the peace — The capture of Camulodunum — The triumph
of Claudius — Massacre of the captives — Enrolment of British regiments — Conquest
of the Southern Districts — The colony of Camulodunum — Tyrannical measures —
Revolt of the Iceni — Victory of Paulinus — The province constituted — Agricola's
beneficial government — The visit of Hadrian — The four legions — Description of
Caerleon — Growth of towns — Hadrian's Wall — Description of its remains — The
Wall of Antoninus — Tablets erected by the soldiers — Their worship and supersti-
tions — The expedition of Severus — Death of the Emperor at York — The revolt of
Carausius — Influence of the Franks — Diocletian's scheme of government — Reigns
of Constantius and Constantine the Great — A new system of administration — Tlie
military roads — Whether identical with themediseval high ways — Course of Watling
Street — The Roman system of communications — Three lines from north to south —
Transverse routes in the North — Connections with roads in the South and West —
The district of the Saxon Shore — Course of the Ikenild Way — The routes in the
Antonine Itinerary — The Peutingerian Table — The effect on Britain of the new
constitution — Increase of taxation— Establishment of Christianity in Britain —
Gradual decay of Paganism — Pantheistic religions— State of the frontiers — The
Picts and Scots — The Franks and Saxons — Victories of Theodosius — The Revolt
of Maximus — The successes of Stilicho — Usurpation of Constantine — The treason
of Gerontius — The independence of Britain.

THERE is something at once mean and tragical about
the storv of the Roman Conquest. Begun as the
pastime of a foolish despot and carried on under a false
expectation of riches, its mischief was certain from the
beginning. Ill-armed country-folk were matched against
disciplined legions and an infinite levy of auxiliaries. Vain
heroism and a reckless love of liberty were crushed in
tedious and unprofitable wars. On the one side stand the
petty tribes, prosperous nations in miniature, already en-
riched by commerce and rising to a homely culture ; on
the other the terrible Romans strong in their tyranny

Origins of English History. 291

and an avarice which could never be appeased. " If their
enemy was rich, they were ravenous, if poor they lusted for
dominion, and not the East nor the West could satisfy

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