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before the erection of their dykes and embankments
accords with the physical circumstances of the case and
with the fragmentary traditions which are preserved in
the criticisms of Strabo.

^ Strabo, vii. 293. He describes "the Sigambri, and Chaubi, and
Bructeri, and Cimbri, the Cauci, and Caulci, and Campsiani," and many-
other coast tribes, whose shifting nomenclature it is now hardly worth while
to investigate.

^ Pliny, Hist. Nat. xvi. c. i.

4



50 Origins of English History.



It is difficult to understand how Tacitus, who must have
been famiUar with the learning accessible to Pliny, could
have drawn the imaginative picture in which he presents
the same Chauci as the noblest nation in Germany.
" They are neither greedy nor feeble ; but, staying in their
quiet homes, they challenge no wars and fear no invading
plunderers. And it is the best proof of their courage and
streniith that thev do not insult others to show their
superior force. Yet every man's sword is ready, and on
occasion they raise an army with a mighty force of men
and horses ; but in time of peace their glory is none the
less.

Other writers have given very dismal accounts of the
German mode of life. Some said that the people were so
rough and savage that they would pick the meat off any
old skin of an ox or animal killed in the chase ; others
thought that they were cannibals : " those who live in the
north are the most barbarous, and it is said that some of
them eat men."^ It must be remembered, however, that
the last charge is quite unproved, though it was commonly
brought against all the tribes which for the time being were
beyond the limits of civilization. The Greek horror of
uncooked food was often distorted into an accusation
of cannibalism against the northern barbarians. The
Brahmins of the Rig-Veda brought charges of the same
kind against the " goat-nosed" Turanians, who worshipped
*' mad gods," and kept up no sacred fires : "they eat raw
meat, and will even devour men,"^

We must now return to the journey of Pytheas. It

^ Tac. Germ. c. '>)^.

^ Diod. V. c. 32 ; Strabo, iv. 200. Pliny, Hist. Nat. vi. c. 20; vii. c. 2.

^ Miiller, Chips from a German Workshop, ii. 328.



Origins of English History. 51

was probably during his visit to the Ostians that he first
heard anything of the Hercynian Forest. His account
was adopted at once by the Aristotelian school of
physicists, and was afterwards embodied bv Eratosthenes
in a geographical work, from which it was long afterwards
extracted by Julius Cassar. The fragment of the traveller's
diary formed the material for several chapters of the
''Commentaries." They form a valuable record of the
knowledge which the Greeks had attained of those remote
tribes of Celts who "lived on the shores of the ocean, and
were bordered bv the mountains of the Orcvnian range. "^
"The Hercynian Forest," in Gibbon's words, "over-
shadowed a great part of Germany and Poland." It
stretched from the sources of the Rhine and Danube to
regions far beyond the Vistula. Its relics remain in the
Black Forest, the forests of the Hartz, and the woods of
Westphalia and Nassau. Only one portion remains in its
primeval state : the Imperial Forest of Bialowicza^ covers
350 square miles of marsh and jungle in Lithuania, and is
reserved by a benevolent despotism as the home of the
aurochs and the elk. In the davs of Pvtheas the natural
forest stretched eastwards from the Rhine "for more than
two months' journey for a man making the best of his way
on foot."^

•^ The quotation is from Diodorus, v. c. 32. The original spelling of the
name was " Arcynia," or "Orcynia." For old descriptions of the forest,
see Strabo, vii. 291, and Hermolaus Barbaras, cited by Olaus Magnus. Hist.
Septent., xviii. i. 35. In Cluver's Germania Antic^uaj iii. c. 47, will be found
an interesting account of " the small and scattered remains of the Hercynian
Wood."

^ See Gibbon's "Decline and Fall/' c. 9, and Baron De Brincken's
'■' Memoire Descriptif sur la Foret Imperiale deBialowicza " (Warsaw, 1826).

^ Caesar, De Bell. Gall. vi. 26. Tacitus mentions the forest as the home



^2 Origins of English History.

He does not appear to have visited the forest in person.
He collected the native reports of its vast extent, and of
the habits of the strange animals which were found there ;
and these will now be cited at length from the transcripts
which we find in the " Commentaries."

Caesar first refers to certain fertile districts which were
scattered about the forest, and then proceeds to describe
the forest itself under the name of the Hercynian Wood,
"which I find," he says, "to have been well known to
Eratosthenes, and to certain other Greeks, under the name
of Orcynia."^

" Of this Hercynian Wood the breadth is about nine
davs' journey for a quick traveller ; for the boundaries can-
not be ijiven in anv other wav, nor did thev (i.e. the Greek
travellers) know how to measure these days journeys. It
appears that there are many kinds of wild beasts there
which are not seen elsewhere : the following differ most
from the common kinds, and seem to be most worthy of
mention here."

I. The Reindeer. — "There is a beast shaped like a
stag, with a horn projecting from the middle of its fore-
head ; it is longer and straighter than anv ordinary horn,
palmated at the top, and branching into several tynes.
The male and female are like each other, and their horns
are of the same size and shape."

There is, perhaps, some confusion here between the

of the chivalrous Chatti, the ancestors of the modern Hessians. In one
of his boldest metaphors the nation is described as " stretching as far as
the hills extend, and dwindling by degrees ; and the Forest follows her
children until she leaves them on the plain." " Durant siquidem coUes
paullatimque rarescunt : et Chattos suos saltus Hercynius prosequitur
simul atque deponit " (Tac. Germ. c. 30).
1 Caesar, Dc Bell. Gall. vi. 26, 27.



. Origins of English History. 53

branching horns of the deer and the long spiral tooth of
the narwhal, which was long passed off as the unicorn's
horn, ^lian and the stories attributed to Aristotle will
supply us with several other legends, which are only
interesting as far as they confirm the fact that the Greek
travellers had reached the north as earlv as the age of
Alexander the Great. The reindeer was said to change
colour like the chameleon, and to have a hide impervious
to the keenest dart. In each case the exaggeration was
founded upon the truth. The deer changes its colour in
winter like other northern animals ; and jerkins made of
its hide were long considered as good as coats of mail.
The discoveries in natural historv, which resulted from the
conquest of Asia, had roused the Greek world to great
activity in a science which had till then been neglected.
Any fact about a new animal was caught up and passed on,
and was often spoiled in the telling.^



^ See vElian's Nat. Hist. ii. 17, and Mirab. Auscult. 30, where the
" tarandus " is described as a beast found among the Scythian Geloni, with
a head Hke a stag, and hke an ox in size. It was said to change its colour
Hke the polypus. The same story was told of the African " tarandus," or
" parandrus." Solinus, 30. Pliny gets nearer to the proper description.
" The tarandus is as big as an ox, with a head not unlike that of a stag, but
that it is greater, carrying branched horns, cloven-hoofed, and with hair as
deep as that of a bear." Pliny, Hist. Nat. viii. c. 34. We are not much
concerned with the reindeer in the history of Britain : the Orkneyinga
Saga, however, states that in a.d. 1159 the Norsemen hunted "red-deer
and reindeer" in Caithness. There may, perhaps, be some doubt whether
the statement should not have been confined to red-deer. See Orkn.
Saga. c. 112, and Dr. Smith's Essay in the 8th vol. of Proc. Soc. Antiqu.
Scotland. The mediaeval writers on Scandinavia made a mistake which is
worth remarking. They knew of the reindeer with the " cornua rnmosa ;'
but they could not reject anything stated as a fact by Caesar ; and they solved
the difficulty by defining the animal as a three-horned deer. SeeOlaus Magnus,



54 Origins of English History.



2. The Elk. — "There are also animals called elks
{Alee). In their figures and spotted skins they are like
wild goats ; but they are rather larger, and have broken
horns, and legs without joints ; nor do they lie down to
rest, nor if they fall by accident could they get up again.
The trees are their resting-places : they lean against them
to take a little sleep ; and when the hunters have noticed
where they resort for this purpose, they either undermine
all the trees in that place at the roots, or cut them so far
through as to leave only the semblance of a growing tree ;
and so, when the elks as usual lean against them, they
make the tottering tree fall over, and they fall with the
tree."^

Hist. Septent. xvii. 26, 28. " Errat Thevetus qui in Cosmographia sua
unicornem facit rangiferum: errant Olaus Magnus, Gesnerus et Jonstonius,
qui tricornem depingunt " (Pontopp. Nat. Hist. ii. 10). Most of the
mediaeval woodcuts in works on natural history represent the reindeer with
three long branching horns.

^ Caesar's reference to the Greek authorities for these passages shows
that Pliny's account of the animals in the Hercynian Forest may have
been derived from the works of Pytheas. " There are few savage beasts in
Germany : howbeit that country bringeth forth certain kinds of goodly
great wild beasts. There is a certain beast called Alee, very like to a
horse, but that his ears are longer and his neck likewise with two marks, by
which they may be distinguished. Moreover, in the island of Scandinavia
there is a beast called Machlis (mcl. lect. 'Achlis'), not much unlike to
the Alee above named. Common he is there, and much talk we have
heard of him; howbeit in these parts he was never seen. He resembleth,
I say, the Alee 3 but that he hath neither joint in the hough nor pasternes
in his hind-legs, and therefore he never lieth down, but sleepeth leaning
to a tree. And therefore the hunters that lie in wait for the beasts cut
down the trees while they are asleep, and so take them. Otherwise they
should never be taken, so swift of foot they are that it is wonderful. Their
upper lip is exceeding great, and as they graze and feed they go retrograde."
Pliny, Hist. Nat. viii. c. 15. The stratagem of cutting through the trees
was first told of the Elephant-hunters on the coast of the Red Sea by
Agatharchides. De Mari Rubro. c. 25. Diod. iii. c. 2. Strabo. xvi. 771.



Origins of English History. 55

Pausanias described the Celtic elk "as an animal but
very rarely seen : according to him it was a beast in size
between a stag and a camel, and was gifted with a
surprising sense of smell. "^

3. The Urus {Bos primigenius). — "The third beast,"
says Caesar, " is the Urus. It is almost as large as an
elephant, but in shape and colour it more resembles the
bull. These animals are of great strength and speed, and
they never spare man or beast after once catching sight of
them. The Germans take great trouble in catching them
by pitfalls ; and the young men gain hardness and
experience in this laborious kind of hunting. Those who
kill most bulls carry back the horns as a glorious trophy of
the chase. The Urus cannot be accustomed to mankind
or tamed, even if taken very young. The great spread of
the horns and their general appearance are very different
from those of our domestic cattle. The horns are carefully
sought : they are set in silver and used by the Germans at
their extravagant feasts."^

This seems to be a confused account of two distinct
animals, the Aurochs or Zubr {Bos Urns) of Lithuania,^ and



The island in question is called " Gangavia " by Solinus, and " Gravia " by
the monk Dicuil.

^ Pausanias, ix. c. 21, In another passage he says that the females were
without horns, but that the males had horns " over their eyebrows/' Hid. v.
c. 12. The description is quoted by Hermolaus Barbarus, Cluver. Germ.
Antiqu. iii. 217, and Olaus Magnus, Hist. Septent. xviii. i. The old
German name must have been " elg," or some word of the kind. The
modern forms are "elenthier," and "els" or "els-dyr" in Danish.

^ Caesar, De Bell. Gall. vi. c. 28. As to the tribute of Urus-hidcs imposed
on the Frisians, see Tacitus, Annal. iv. c. 72.

^ Pliny's account shows that the Greek travellers were aware of the dis-
tinction. " The Bison is maned with a collar like a lion : and the Urus is



56 Origins of English History.

the extinct Urus {Bos primigenius) which Charlemagne
is said to have hunted near his palace at Aachen. The
latter animal was akin to the wild cattle preserved in the
parks at Chillingham and Chatelheraiilt,! and is supposed
indeed to have been the original progenitor of all our
English cattle except the polled and shorthorned breeds of
the Highlands and parts of Wales.

The extinct " Urus " had massive and wide-spread horns,
and a very small mane, if we may judge at all by the
Chillingham bulls, which have bristles of about an inch in
length. But the Wissent, or Aurochs, has very small
horns, and a large shaggy mane nearly reaching to the
ground. " This Zubr is exceedingly shy and avoids the
approach of man. They can only be approached from the
leeward, as their smell is extremely acute. But when
accidentally and suddenly fallen in with, they will passion-
ately assail the intruder. In such fits of passion the
animal thrusts out its tongue repeatedly, lashes its sides
with its tail, and the reddened and sparkling eyes project
from their sockets, and roll furiouslv. Such is their innate
wildness that none of them have ever been completely
tamed. When taken young they become, it is true, accus-
tomed to their keepers, but the approach of other persons
renders them furious."^ There are onlv a few hundreds of

a mighty strong beast and a swift." (Hist. Nat. viii. c. 15.) The Aurochs,
or maned Bison, is also called the Wissent and the Bonassus. For an
allusion to the old accounts of the Urus and Elk, see Virg. Georg. ii.

373»

" Silvestres uri assidue capreaeque sequaces,
Illudunt."
^ Dr. Weissenhorn's Monograph on the " Zubr/' cited in Cox's Sketches,
Nat. Hist. 1849. See a good description of the animal by Franc. Irenicus,
vii. 13, cited by Olaus Magnus, Hist. Septent. xviii. .35, 2)^: " Barbas



Origins of English History. 57

them left, and the permission of the Emperor of Russia
under his sign-manual is required before one of them may
be killed.

Both animals inhabited Britain at some early period ;
but the Aurochs is quite prehistoric. The bones of
Caesar's Urus have lately been found in ancient pitfalls
which have been excavated in the neighbourhood of
Cissbury. The presence of these animals in the pit may
be explained by Caesar's description of the mode of capture.
' Hurdles of gorse were probably arranged on the principle
of the wicker hoops in a decoy, and it is easy to see how,
by such a plan, eked out perhaps by the firing of heaps of
the same useful material, a wild bull, or a herd, might be
driven over a pitfall.'^

After leaving the countrv of the Ostians, presumably
from a port in the estuary of the Elbe, Pytheas made a
vovage of three davs and a half to the head of the Benin-
sula which was then inhabited bv the mvsterious Cimbri ;
and the traveller was almost certainly the first to applv to
the countrv the long-remembered name of the Cimbric
Chersonesus.

Hardly anything is known of his adventures among the
people who were afterwards to become the terror of the
world. But soon after his return, Philemon the poet
recorded the fact "that the northern ocean was called
bv the Cimbri ' Morimarusa ' or the Dead Sea, from their
own country as far as Cape Rube as : beyond that cape

longissimas habent et cornibus breviusculis apparent." He describes the
narrow pits in which they were caught, the sides being constructed of solid
beams on account of the strength of the animal.

1 Prof. Rolleston, in Proc. Anthrop. Inst., 18765 Proc. Soc. Anticju.
Scotland, ix. 66"].



58 Origins of English History.

they called the ocean ' Cronium.' "^ The passage is
important, as being the earliest in which the Cimbri are
mentioned bv name, and also because the local names
appear to have a Celtic origin. ^'' Mor niarwth'' is said to
be good Welsh for the " sea of death "; and " nior croinn^'
or some similar form, might signify " the frozen sea." In
the dearth of information about the ethnic affinities of the
Cimbri, small circumstances like these become important
for determining the question of their origin.-

The Teutones, who afterwards accompanied the Cimbri
as friends and allies in their great southward migration,
were settled, in the time of Pytheas, in the districts south
and somewhat to the east of Jutland. They adjoined the
country of the " Guttones," along the Baltic coast ; and,
according to Pytheas, they made a trade of purchasing
from their barbarous neighbours the amber which was
collected on the Pomeranian shore.

The Guttones inhabited the whole southern coast of the
Baltic or " Gulf of Mentonomon " from Mecklenburg to
Courland and Riga Bay. The name was given late in the
Middle Ages to the Lithuanian and Esthonian tribes who
inhabited the neighbourhood of Konigsberg ; and it seems
to have been used at last in a contemptuous sense, to
express the old-fashioned ways of the pagans in those
parts, who refused to accept the gospel from the crusading
brotherhood of the Teutonic Knights.^

1 Pliny, Hist. Nat. iv. c. i6.

"^ Upon the difficult question as to the intermixture of Celtic and German
tribes to the east of the Rhine see the discussion on the origin of the Cimbri
in Latham's " Germany of Tacitus j" Prof. Rawlinson's " Ethnography of
the Cimbri," Proc. Anthrop. Inst. vi. 151 (1876) ; and Pallman's " Kimbern
und Teutoner," Berlin, 1870.

■' I'heir name is variously spelled, as Gothones, Gutthones, Guddons,



Origins of English History. 59

Pytheas appears to have paid great attention to the
question of the amber-trade ; and he may reasonably be
supposed to have originated a commerce in that article
between Marseilles and the country of the Teutones,
which must have interfered with the way of trade by
Trieste. That the latter traffic was not quite superseded
is due to the fact, that the region which supplied Marseilles
was distant some hundreds of miles from that which had
from ancient times been in direct communication with the
Adriatic .

Amber is found in two ways. In Courland, which has
always been a principal seat of the trade, the fossil is
found in strata underground, sometimes extending to a
thickness of thirtv or fortv feet. These strata are mixed
with a vegetable substance like charcoal and with the
branches and stems of the fossil amber-pine.^ In other
parts of the Baltic, and in many places on the North-Sea
coasts, the amber is washed up at the high tides and in



&c. ; and some even have proposed to identify them with the "Cossini,"
mentioned by Artemidorus. (Tac. Ann. ii. 62 ; and Germ. 43, 45.) Latham,
as we have seen, identified the Ostians of Pytheas \\\\\\ the " ^styi " of
Tacitus 'and the " Guttones " of PHny. This theory rests on a supposed
necessity for taking the amber-trade outside Germany, and into the vicinity
of Courland. The region beyond the Vistula was a principal source of the
later traffic, but A\'as not the only source, as will presently be shown in the
text.

^ Compare a well-known passage in the " Amber Witch ": "While she
was seeking for blackberries in a dell near the shore, she saw something
glistening in the sun, and on coming near she found this wondrous god-
send, seeing that the wind had blown the sand away from a black vein of
amber" (ch. 9). The note adds, that the dark veins held amber mixed
with charcoal, and that " whole trees of amber have been found in Prussia,
and are preserved in the ^Museum at Konigsberg." Both passages appear
to contain accurate descriptions of the local phenomena.



6o Origins of English History.

stormy weather ; and this source of the supply is thought
to be due to the disturbance of submarine amber-beds/

The principal district for the tide-washed amber was the
coast between the Helder and the promontory of Jutland.
From the Rhine to the estuary of the Elbe stretched a
chain of islands, called Glessariae and Electrides by the
ancients, which are now much altered in numbers and
extent by the incessant inroads of the sea. Here a Roman
fleet in Nero's time collected 13,000 lb. of the precious
^^ gicssuni " in a single visit; and the sailors brought home
picturesque accounts of the natives picking up the glassy
fossil at the flood-tide and in the pools left by the ebb ;
''and it is so light," they said, "that it rolls about and
seems to hang in the shallow water.""

Pytheas appears to have mentioned the Courland trade
as well as the traffic in the amber rolled up by the sea.
Philemon at any rate, who copied his works, describes
both kinds of commerce in the following passage. He
said " that amber was a fossil, and was dug up at two
places in Scythia." The supply from one of these places
was white and waxv, and this was called Electrum ; from
the other place came the tawny or honey-coloured variety,
which people called Sualiternicum. Pytheas, however,
believed that the great estuary called Mentonomon was
inhabited for its whole length of 6,000 stadia by " the

^ For the distinction between the supplies of tide-washed amber and
those from inland pits and quarries, see Humboldt, Cosmos (Sabine), ii. 128,
and Werlauff's Ravhandel's Historie (1835), where the discoveries of
Pytheas are discussed.

^ " Adeo volubile ut in vado pendere videatur." — Pliny, Hist. Nat.
xxxvii. c. 2. It is to this visit that Pliny attril)utes the Romans' knowledge
of the German amber-shore. Hist. Nat. xxxvii. c. 11. Solinus says that
the amber was given to Nero by a German king. Polyh. c. 2c.



Origins of English History. 6 1

Guttones, a German people," and that at one day's distance
from the estuary lay the island of Abaliis, where the
spring-floods carry the amber. Pytheas himself thought
that this substance was the scum of the Encrusted Sea,
and said that the natives of those parts used it instead of
wood for their fires, and that they also sold amber to their
neighbours the Teutones. Timasus believed this, but
called the island Basilia : and he tells us that there is an
island opposite to Scythia which is called Raunonia, about
one day's journey from shore, where the amber is cast up
by the waves in the spring ; and Xenophon of Lampsacus
added that at the distance of three days' sail from the
Scythian coast was an island of immense extent called
Baltia, being the island which Pytheas called Basilia/

Diodorus quoted a slightly different version : — " In the
Scythian region beyond Gaul there lies an island in the
ocean which is called Basilia ; and on this island, and
nowhere else in the world, the amber is cast up in great
quantities in the spring of the year ; it is collected on the
island and carried by the natives across to the mainland
opposite."'

The island of Abalus, one day's journey from the
estuary, may have been, and probably was, one of the
great islands near Ditmarsh and the mouth of the Elbe,
" the Saxon Islands " of Ptolemy, which in the course of



^ Pliny, Hist. Nat. iv. c. 15 ; xxxvii. c. 2. There were ancient relations
between Courland and the Greeks of the cities on the Euxine before the
days of Pytheas. Humboldt, Cosmos (Sabine), ii. 128. The Roman
acquaintance with the Courland amber-districts was probably not earlier
than the age of the Antonines. The word " Raunonia " looks as if it had
some connection with " rav," the Scandinavian name for amber.

^ Diod. V. 23.



62 Origins of English History,



a^es have been torn and ravaofed by the sea. It is useless
indeed to speculate on the exact configuration which these
shifting coasts may have shown more than seventy gene-
rations ago. But the details of the old description and
the distances measured from " the Scythian shore " are
sufficient to show that many of these islands belonged to
the Baltic, and were situated east of the Sound. The
Danish writers indeed, as Werlauff in the " Ravhandel's
Historic," and other local witnesses, have endeavoured to
prove that hardly any sea-washed amber was ever found
east of Copenhagen. But this opinion rests on the fact
that little is found in that way, or looked for, in our own
time. The mediaeval authorities are precise about the



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