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based on a tradition of customs which are said to have
once existed in the North. Even in comparatively modern
times the Swedes and Pomeranians were accused of killing
their old people in the way indicated in the passages quoted
above. Perhaps a tribe of poor and hungry men would
easilv fall into the habit of killing the useless members of
the family ; and the practice may have survived long after
the dreadful necessity had ceased. We find a notice of
the tradition in the Saga of Gottrek and Rolf. " Here
by our home," says the hero, "is Gillings-rock : w^e call it
the family cliff, because there we lessen the number of the
family when evil fortune comes. There all our fathers
went to Odin without any stroke of disease. The old folk
have free access to that happy spot, and we ought to be
put to no further trouble or expense about them. The
children push the father and mother from the rock, and
send them with joy and gladness on their journey to Odin."
The situation of several of these " Valhalla Cliffs " is said
to be known in Sweden. The lakes, which stretch below,
were called "Valhalla-meres" or "Odin-ponds." "The
old people, after dances and sports, threw themselves into
the lake, as the ancients related of the Hyperboreans":
but if an old Norseman became too frail to travel to the
cliff, his kinsmen would save him the disgrace of "dying
like a cow in the straw^," and would beat him to death with
" the family-club."^ Similar stories are told of the Heruli

I Geijer, Hist. Sweden, 31, 32. One of the "family-clubs"' is said to
be still preserved at a farm in East Gothland. As to the Heruli, see Pro-
copius, De Bell. Goth. ii. 14, and Gibbon, Decline and Fall, c. 39. As to
stories about Icelanders, Westphalians, Slavs, and Wends, see Grimm,
Deutsch. Alterth., 486, 489. "Die Kinder ihre altbetagte Eltern Blutfreunde

Origins of English History. 89

" in the dark forests of Poland"; and among the Prussians
" all the daughters except one were destroyed in infancy
or sold, and the aged and infirm, the sick and the de-
formed, were unhesitatingly put to death ":^ practices as
remote from the poetry of the Greek description as from
that reverence for the parents' authority which might have
been expected from descendants of " the Aryan household."
Of some of these Greek novels it is sufficient to know
the names and subjects. One Amometus published a
poetical description of a nation of " Attacori," living in a
sunny country beyond the Himalayan range, which seems
to have closely resembled the account of the Hyper-
boreans, and to have also dealt with the habits of certain
cannibal tribes who were supposed to live in the Scythian
deserts.^ Jambulus, a writer who is best known by
Lucian's parody, described the inhabitants of the Canaries
or Fortunate Islands ; but he seems to have known nothing
of the real story of the interesting Guanche race. His
imaginary voyage may be studied in " Purchas' Pilgrims ;"
and it will be found that he was responsible for the creation
of some of the monstrous kinds of men, whose fantastic

und andere Verwandten, auch die so nicht mehr zum Kriege oder Arbeit
dienstlich, ertodteten darnach gekocht und gegessen, oder lebendig
begraben, &c." {ihid. 488).

1 Maclear, Conversion of the Slavs, 166. Keysler, Antiqu. Septent. 148,
cites several curious instances of this custom in Prussia from writers of
local authority. A Count Schulenberg rescued an old man who was being
beaten to death by his sons at a place called Jammerholz, or " woeful
wood," and the intended victim lived as the Count's hall-porter for twenty
years after his rescue. A Countess of Mansfeld, in the 14th century, is
said to have saved the life of an old man on the Llineberg Heath under
similar circumstances.

^ Pliny, Hist. Nat. iv. c. 12.

go Origins of JEnglish History.

manners and customs threw so much discredit on the true
reports of the first explorers of the world. We may use
the words of Tacitus, when he refused to admit the crea-
tures of fancy into his "Germany." "All the rest is legend,
as that these people have the faces and looks of men but
the bodies and limbs of beasts, and the like : of which
matters I know nothing for certain and therefore will leave
them alone. "^

• Tac. Germ. c. 46.

Origins of English History. 91


Recapitulation. — Later Greek travellers. — Artemidorus. — Posidonius the Stoic— His
travels in Western Europe. — Condition of the Celts in Britain. — Difficulty of
framing general rules. — Division of population into three stocks. — British Gauls.
— Insular Britons. — Pre-Celtic tribes. — Methods of finding their ancient settle-
ments. — Antiquarian research. — Philological method. — Division of the Celtic
languages. — Living forms in Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Man, Brittany. — Dead
forms : Welsh of Strathclyde, Pictish, Cornish, Gaulish, the Celtic of Thrace and
Galatia. — Originals from which the groups are derived. — Lingua Britannica. —
Affinities of Old Welsh— Whether more related to the Irish or the Gaulish. —
Theory of the division of the Celtic stock. — Brythonic and Goidelic races. —
Origin of the theory. — Similarity of Welsh and Gaulish languages. — The likeness
explained. — Arose from independent causes. — The languages not similar at the
same time. — Likeness between old forms of Welsh and Irish. — Welsh and Irish
at one time united. — Occupation of Britain by a Celtic horde. — Separation of
Welsh and Irish languages. — British language distinct from Gaulish. — Practical
result of accepting the theory.

WE have dealt, as best we might, with a subject
that must always remain obscure. We have
seen how Pytheas revealed a new world to the Greeks,
and how the story became confused with legend until it
seemed no better than an idle fancy, " as if a name and a
tale were invented about a country which never had
been."^ By the aid of the ancient criticisms we are able to
guess very near to what the traveller said, even where his
personal authority cannot now be cited, and wherever his
actual words remain we may, of course, feel confidence in
the reconstructed history. It is possible, however, that an
incident here or there, a GalHc or a German custom, should
rather be attributed to Posidonius or Artemidorus, or some

^ Plutarch, Julius Caesar, lO.

92 Origins of English History.

other of the Greek explorers who followed on the track of

Of these later travellers Posidonius is the most impor-
tant.^ He seems to have visited every corner of the West,
soon after the destruction of the Cimbric horde ; and his
lively descriptions, first published in his lecture-room at
Rhodes, are still among the best authorities for the
customs of the peoples whom he visited. He received
from the lips of Marius the story of the massacre of the
Teutones, and drew that strange and brilliant picture of
the barbarian armies which Plutarch has preserved in his
biography of the Roman conqueror. We have already
taken from Posidonius some parts of his description of
Northern Spain, where stood " those mountains of uncoined
money heaped up by some bounteous Fortune," where the
soil was not so much "rich" as "absolutely made of
riches" : we have borrowed from the sketches of life in
Cornwall, and on the mud-flats of the German shore, which
are believed to be fragments of his Historv ; and his
authority will be cited again, when we come to consider the
manners of the Gauls in Britain. But his work survives
only in extracts which cannot now be pieced together.
Enough remains to show his enthusiasm of research, and
the vividness and elegance of his style : but the loss of his
volumes on the Celts and the Germans must always be
counted among the great disasters of literature.

From the remains of such ancient descriptions, and from
the discoveries of modern research, we shall endeavour to

^ See Bake's Posidonius (Leyden, rSro) ; and for extracts and anecdotes
from the fifty volumes of the "Histories/" see Strabo, iii. 217, iv. 287, vii.
2935 Diod. V. 28, 30 ; Athenaeus, iv. 153, vi. 233; Eustathius, in Odyss.
viii. 475, and in IHad. 915,

Origins of English History. 93

reconstruct another portion of our history : and we shall
seek in this part of the work to collect what is known of
the Celts in the South of Britain, at a time when their
local differences were not yet merged in the spread of the
Roman culture.

The obvious difficulty presents itself, that no single
description will suit an assemblage of tribes differing in their
origin, language, and customs. We can hardly attribute
the population to less than three separate stocks : and it is
not improbable, that the most primitive of these may be
resolved into several elements. The civilised Gauls had
settled on the eastern coasts before the Roman invasions
began, and were to spread across the island before the
Roman conquest was complete. The Celts of an older
migration were established to the north and west and ruled
from the Gaulish settlements as far as the Irish Sea ; and
here and there we find the traces of still older peoples,
who are best known as the tomb-builders and the con-
structors of the pre-historic monuments.

It is difficult, after the lapse of so many ages, to ascertain
the boundaries and limits of the ancient settlements.
Something, however, has been learned by the exploration
of caves and tombs, by following the lines of old trading-
roads, and by tracing old earthworks and boundary-dykes ;
and the highest gratitude is due to the numerous scholars
who have engaged in these special fields of research. Even
more, perhaps, has been gained by the systematic measure-
ment of ancient skulls and skeletons, and the comparison
of the scattered ornaments, and implements of stone and
metal, which are found in the tombs of the chieftains.
But the safest method must consist in the study of the
Celtic lansfuasres, or of their slight remains, surviving in

^4 Origins of English History.

" glosses " or marginal interpretations of the words used
in ancient manuscripts, in the titles of gods and legendary
kines, in the local names of Gaul and Britain, or in
fragments of the superscriptions upon altars, coins, and

The philologists have become familiar with the subject
of the Celtic tongues. Very little indeed was known
about the matter till Zeuss, with wonderful patience,
constructed his comparative grammar. The science has
now advanced so far, that some of his most striking
conclusions seem doubtful in the light of the later
evidence ; but his methods are still fruitful, and it may
be said that his very mistakes are instructive.

The Celtic languages are for the most part dead, and
of some even the tradition is now almost forgotten.
Those which survive are found in Wales and Ireland,
in some parts of the Highlands, in the Isle of Man, and
in Brittany. Of those that are dead we may mention,
for our own country, the Pictish and the Welsh of Strath-
clyde, and the Cornish^ or West-Welsh, which died out
in Devon in the time of Queen Elizabeth, and finally
disappeared in Cornwall a little more than a century ago.
In close connection with these is the living '' Brezonec "
of Brittany, which may have been carried across the seas
by refugees from Britain. There are traditions besides of
several western idioms, which may all be classified as
Gaulish ; a very similar form was once used in Galatia f
of some others used in "Celtiberia" we can only know

^ There were six dialects of Cornish. jMany of the words are still in use
among the country people. See Williams, Lexicon Cornu-Britannicum, 1862.

^ " Galatas . . . propriam linguam, eandemque pene habere quam
Treviros, nee referre si aliqua exinde corruperint." — St. Jerome, Comment.

Origins of Eyiglish History. 95

that they were confused by intermixture with the lost
languages of Spain, ^

But several of the languages in this list may be grouped
under more general headings. The Old Welsh, for
instance, or '^ Lingua Britannica," may be treated as the
parent not only of modern Welsh, but of the dialects of
Cornwall and vStrathclyde, as well as of the idiom which
has survived in Brittany. The oldest Irish is found in the
same way to be the original not merely of the modern
Erse, but also of the Manx, which has been somewhat
corrupted by admixture with the Norse, and the Gaelic of
the western Highlands : and in like manner the continental
dialects might be summed up in one description as having
been derived from the oldest Gaulish.

We are concerned here w^ith none but these parent-
forms. Taking therefore the oldest known varieties of
Welsh, Irish, and Gaulish, and comparing them together,
we shall find that they differed widely among themselves,
though all bear marks of a common descent from some
primitive Celtic original. Comparing them with other
Aryan tongues, we find that the Gaulish languages bore
a close resemblance to Latin and the cognate Italian
dialects. The Irish, on the other hand, seems to be of
all the Celtic languages the furthest removed from the

The question then arises, whether the oldest Celtic
spoken in Wales was more like the Irish or the Gaulish,

ad Gal. ii. introd. ; Valroger, Gaule Celtique, 52. M. Perrot {Revue Celtique,
ii. 179) shows that St. Jerome is untrustworthy on points of this kind.

> As to the lost languagesTof Spain, see W. v. Humboldt, Urbewohner
Hispaniens (Berlin, 1821), Hoffmann, Iberer. (Leips. 1838), and Luchaire,
Origines Linguistiques de I'Aquitaine (Paris, 1877).

96 Origins of English History.

since those forms are found to differ so widely from each
other. Were the Inland Britons, as distinguished from
the ''Brythonic" or Gallo-British race, more nearly akin
to the Irish Gael, or the semi-Latin tribes of Cisalpine and
Transalpine Gaul ? The question is of great importance ;
for, according to the answer received, we shall lose or
retain a clue to several historical problems. In the one
case, the study of the Irish antiquities will throw light
upon those of Britain; but in the other case we must
remain in the darkness that has gathered round the history
of the Gauls.

The answer has usually been, that the Irish and the
Welsh were as far apart and distinct as was possible
consistently with the admitted fact, that both were of the
Celtic blood. It was said that the original stock was
divided into two main families : that the Gaelic branch
was represented in the West by the Irish and emigrants
from Ireland ; while the "Cymric" branch was taken to
include both the Welsh and the Gauls, and almost all
the other Celts whose presence had been traced in

It is conjectured, by those who adopt this view, that the
Gaels, or Goidels, were the first to arrive, and that of the
two main divisions they were the more numerous and the
more important swarm. By the names of mountains and
rivers their line of march has been traced along what in
any case was a Celtic route, from the Steppe to the belts
of sand between the Baltic and the Central Forest ; the
locality of their principal settlements is found near the
Rhine and the Moselle ; and the lines of their later
movements are shown to lie northwards to Britain and
eastwards as far as Galatia. The later immigrants are

Origins of English Uistorv. 97

stated, on the same hypothesis, to have followed a different
course. Having arrived at the Alps, they are said to have
spread outwards from that centre, downwards to Italy and
across the mountains to Gaul and Spain. In course of
time, as it has been supposed, some tribes of their company
were led or driven to Britain, where they attacked and
drove out of the country the long-settled clans of the

This theory has derived its main support from the
belief, that the Irish language differed as radically from
the Welsh as it undoubtedly differed from the Gaulish.
We are not bound to debate the whole problem of the
Celtic dispersion. But it is important for our purpose
to consider whether that belief was correct, so far as this
country is concerned.

The intimate connection between the Welsh and the
Gauls was inferred from the similarity of their languages,
especially in those points on which they both differed from
the oldest Irish. The earliest Welsh manuscripts were
compared with the Gaulish vocabulary, as it has been
gathered from proper names and from inscriptions to the
local gods ; and it was found that the languages possessed
a common stock of sounds and letters, as P, TH, and S
between vowels, which had been dropped in Old Irish,
even if they had ever belonged to its store. But upon
a closer examination of the subject it was found that the

^ Taylor, Words and Places, 129, 157, 163 ; Arnold, Hist. Rome, i. 433.
Professor Rhys gives the name of " Goidels " to the members of the
Gaelic group, which included the Celts of the Gaelic- speaking districts of
Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. The name "Erythons" represents
the Celts of eastern Britain, whose language spread into Wales, Cnmhria, and
parts of Devon and Cornwall. Celtic Britain, 3.

^8 Origins of Eiiglish History.

deduction was wrong, though the examples appeared to
be correct. The resemblance is deceptive, because the
common characteristics did not exist in both languages at
the same time. The likeness arose from causes which
worked independently of each other ; and the steps by
which the languages arrived at the same stage of growth
were separated by long intervals of time. The " Bry-
thonic" tribes, like their kinsmen the Continental Gauls,
had used the sounds in question for some centuries before
the Goidelic peoples had learned them ; and by the
time that they were established in Wales, in the fifth
or sixth century after Christ, the Gaulish tongue had
either ceased to exist, or was so nearly lost in Latin^
that it could onlv be distinguished as a rustic mode of
speaking.^ But it appears that the languages of Wales,
and Ireland, during the same centuries, resembled each
other in the very points on which they afterwards differed.
It is true that the oldest of the Welsh manuscripts are
much later than the end of this period of resemblance ;
and it may be objected, that no sufficient proof could be
given of the theorv which has found favour with the
philological authorities.- But the answer lies in the fact
that the forms of the ancient Welsh had been recovered

^ L'a^onie du vieux Celthjue se prolovgea longtemps sous ces noiiveaux
■maitres {/es barlares)." — De Belloguet, Gloss. Gaul. 49. The instances
of late Gaulish, down to the seventh century, are collected in his

" The oldest of the Welsh MSS. is the " Juvencus Codex," assigned
to the ninth century. There are poems by several authors describing
some of the incidents of the English Conquest ; but they survive in versions
of which the language has been considerably modernised. See Skene^
Four Ancient Books of Wales. Villemarque^ Manuscrits des Anciens

Origins of English History. 99

from sepulchral inscriptions, containing Latinized proper
names and sometimes bearing epitaphs in the same "Ogam
character" as is used for the oldest Irish inscriptions.^

The result of these enquiries has been to establish a
presumption of identity between the earliest forms of
Welsh and Irish, which renders it highly probable that the
nations themselves were once united. There are many
indications that at one time they possessed a common
stock of religious and social ideas ; nor indeed is there
any evidence against their original unity, except the fact that
their languages became different in form. But " length
of time and remoteness of place introduce wonderful
changes in a language.""" In the lapse of centuries many
differences would naturally grow up between the nations,
separated by the sea and possibly in each case by contact
with the peoples whom they found already in possession.
One chief difference would of course consist in a gradual
divergence of idiom. Every language must continually

^ The Ogam characters date from about the 5th century a.d, ; they are
believed to have been invented by Goidels acquainted with the Roman
alphabet. Rhys, Celtic Britain, 250. " At one time," says Professor Rhys,
" I had a notion that the Ogmic monuments on this side of St. George's
Channel represented an early stage of Brythonic speech ; but that is a view
which I have long ceased to hold." Archceol. Camhr. 5th Series, vi. No. 23
The inscriptions are found chiefly in South Wales and South-western
Ireland, a few occurring in North Wales and Devon. The Ogam inscrip-
tions in Scotland seem to be of later date. They have not yet been
interpreted. See Brash, Ogam Inscribed Monuments, c. 15, and Rhys,
Celtic Britain, 251.

^ Arnold's Rome, i. 437. "The Bronze period was long enough to
admit of quite as great a differentiation in any single language as that
Avhich exists between Gaelic and Cymric at present, or to allow of the
importation of one already differentiated dialect in more than one
not-recorded invasion." — Prof. RoUeston in " British Barrows," 622>-

7 *

loo Origins of English History.

change and shift its form, exhibiting like an organised
being its phases of growth, decline, and decay ; and, in
the case of these divided peoples, it is hardly to be sup-
posed that their unwritten idioms would follow precisely
the same course of phonetic alteration. There is no
reason to disbelieve in their original unity, merely because
the Welsh either approached or were forced to adopt the
" Brythonic " or Gaulish form: it will be remembered that
the Welsh itself broke up during the historical period into
several different idioms ; and this may help us to under-
stand how the change of the older language was effected/
Taking the theory, then, to be sufficiently established
for our purpose, w^e shall now endeavour to put it to a
practical use. It w^ill be found, that not only may the
British history be illustrated by what is known about
Ireland, but that the differences between the Welsh and
the Gauls will help us to fix approximately the sites of
the Gaulish colonies." There are proper names enough,

1 William of INIalmesbury noticed but a slight difference in his time
between Welsh and Breton. " Lingua nonnihil a nostris Brittonibus
degeneres." — Gesta. i. i. Giraldus calls the Breton an old-fashioned
Welsh. " INIagis antiquo linguae Britannicse idiomati appropriato." —
Descr. Cambr. c. 6.

^ Professor Rhys disagrees with the theory that the Celtic of the Ogam
inscriptions underwent changes in the course of time which shaped it into
the dialects called W^elsh and Old Cornish. He thinks that the Celts who
spoke the language of the Celtic Epitaphs in the 5th and 6th centuries were
" in part the ancestors of the Welsh and Cornish people," and that they
afterwards changed their language from a Gaelic or " Goidelic " form to a
Gallo-British or " Brythonic " form. " In other \^'ords, they were Goidels
belonging to the first Celtic invasion of Britain, of whom some passed over
into Ireland, and made that island also Celtic. At that point, or still
earlier, all the British Islands may be treated as Goidelic, except certain
parts "where the Neolithic natives may have been able to make a stand

Origins of English History. loi

inscribed on coins or mentioned in the narrative of the
Roman wars, to furnish some slight glossary for such a
purpose. Nor can one fail to gain some useful knowledge
from them by the use of the phonological tests, if it be
remembered that the Gaulish immigration was a long and
gradual process, and if allowance be made for the care-
lessness of classical writers in transcribing the barbarian

against the Goidels ; but at some later period there arrived another Celtic
people, which was probably to all intents and purposes the same as that of
the Gauls." — Celtic Britain, 215.

102 Origins of English History.



Invasion by the King of Soissons. — Older settlements. — Kingdoms of Kent. — Forest of
Anderida. — The Trinobantes — Extent of their dominions. — The Iceni. — The
Catuvellaunian Confederacy. — Civilisation of the Gaulish settlers. — Physical
appearance. — Dress. — Ornaments. — Equipments in peace and in war. — Scythed
chariots. — Agricultural knowledge. — Cattle. — Domestic life.

FIFTY years or more before the Roman invasions
began the King of Soissons^ had extended his
rule over the southern portions of our country. The

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