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PREHISTORIC REMAINS IN LANCASHIRE.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ARCH. CAMB. S1R,- The following particulars of a recent archæological “find” will probably be interesting to your readers.
The village of Wavertree now forms one of the outlying suburbs of Liverpool, and, of late, building has extended itself in this direction. On the 4th of July last, as the workmen were excavating for the erection of a house in Victoria Park, they turned up various fragments of pottery which were at first disregarded; but afterwards the urn No. 1 in the accompanying photograph was disinterred entire, and subsequently the smaller urn, No. 2. The excavation for the house being
completed, further research has for the present been suspended; but by consent of the proprietor, Mr. O'Connor, the Committee of the Public Museum of Liverpool have agreed to defray the expense of a thorough and careful examination of the locus in quo, which it can scarcely be doubted will lead to interesting results.
The site is a gentle declivity sloping to the west, having a thin stratum of soil over the red sandstone rock. There is no appearance whatever of barrows or tumuli of any kind. It has been brought to mind that a few years ago there existed, scattered about the site, a number of rough, upright stones; all of which have been removed, and some of them used to construct a fence bounding a neighbouring field.
The vase, No. 1, is ten inches in diameter, and twelve inches high. It was found with the mouth downwards, with a flat stone beneath.
The material is coarse brown clay, without any ornament except a small indented pattern on the edge of the rim. The interior is coarse and granulated, but more burnt than the exterior, presenting the appearance of having been fired from the inside. The interior of the vase was filled with a mass of ashes and calcined human bones, apparently of an adult. The only objects found were a rude flint knife, and a beautifully formed flint arrow head.
The vase, No. 2, is six inches in diameter, and seven inches deep. This was found with the mouth upward, and covered with a flat stone. The interior contained calcined bones, apparently of a young child, but no objects of art. The pottery was of the same coarse brown clay as No. 1; the interior, when fractured, black and granulated. The flat rim is scored with what is called the “thong pattern,” made apparently by pressing a twisted twig or cord in diagonal lines on the soft clay. Both vases are entirely hand-made, no wheel having been used in their fabrication.
There can be little doubt that the site has been used as a cemetery. Fragments of several other vases have been turned up; some of a more ornamental character, but very archaic in form and structure. The question arises, to what race and period can these remains be referred ? The time was when everything of this kind was relegated to the ancient Britons, and a reference to the Druids satisfied all inquiries. We have fallen on more critical times, and modern investigation points to ages vastly more remote, and to several successive periods of these prehistoric remains. The classification of Sir J. Lubbock into the archæolithic, neolithic, bronze, and iron periods, scarcely satisfies the conditions, since it makes the accidental presence or absence of a trifling bronze implement the sole criterion of a difference of date, when everything else may be identical. Perhaps a better classification would be established by the mode of interment. It is agreed on all hands that the earliest known mode of interment in the British isles is the contracted mode, by drawing the limbs into a folded form, and pressing them into a small cist. To this succeeded cremation, the ashes and bones being collected into vases; which in turn gave place to the interment of the corpse in its extended form. These modes correspond roughly, but by no means exactly, with the stone, the bronze, and the iron ages. The date, the periods during which these respective modes prevailed, and the races which practised them, are hitherto unresolved problems. We may, however, very safely refer the earliest of them to a time much more remote than what has until recently been supposed.
I may state that within three quarters of a mile from the relics here noticed there still exist the remains of an ancient stone circle, called “ The Calder Stones,” which is the meeting-point of three townships, and doubtless derives its name from the Anglo-Saxon galder, meaning the enchanter's or sorcerer's stones. These stones display, though much worn and weather-beaten, examples of the cup and circle markings which have of late attracted so much attention. The connexion
i Prehistoric Times. London, 1865.
of this stone circle with the neighbouring prehistoric cemetery seems natural and obvious. Judging from a comparison of these remains with the specimens found in Denmark and elsewhere, and especially with the interesting series of discoveries in the lake-dwellings in Switzerland, we are fairly authorized in ascribing to the present remains an antiquity preceding the advent of the Celtic races to the British islands. On this subject I will quote a few words from a paper on the Calder Stones read by Professor J. Y. Simpson, of Edinburgh, before the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, Jan. 12, 1865 : “The ethnological proofs gathered from the examination of the crania found in connexion with megalithic sepulchral structures, tend, as far as they go at present, to point to a race different from, and seemingly anterior to, the appearance of the Celtic race in our islands. If this view (a view held by some of our first archæologists) ultimately prove to be correct, then we have in the Calder Stones,- and within hail, as it were, of the busy mart and great modern city of Liverpool,
-a stone structure erected and carved by a Turanian race who dwelt in this same locality, and lived and died in this same home, many long centuries before Roman or Saxon, Dane or Norman, set his invading foot upon the shores of Britain ; and possibly anterior even to that far more distant date when, in their migration westward, the Cymry first reached this remote isle of the sea."
The recently discovered remains may be fairly ascribed to the second mode of interment, or what, in Sir J. Lubbock's classification, would be the earliest portion of the bronze period.
J. A. Picton. Sandyknowe, Wavertree. Sept. 5, 1867.
PEN CAER HELEN, CAERNARVONSHIRE.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ARCH. CAMB.
SIR, -As a pendant to the interesting description of Pen Caer Helen in Arch. Camb., No. LI, I beg to send you an extract from a little handbook which I compiled a year or two ago. It may have some interest.
Yours obediently, Beaumaris. 3 Sept. 1867.
JOHN WILLIAMS. On that round bluff, called Moel y Gaer, some four miles from Conway, is one of the most perfect British forts in Wales. It is defended on the only approachable side in a remarkable and unusual manner, the ground being there thickly planted with upright stones, which project from one to three feet above the ground; and are so numerous, and so close together, as to form the most serious obstacle to the onward progress of man and beast, without amounting to such a wall as would interfere with exit in a time of peace. It is evident that beneath the fort there was an extensive town in very early times, for many circular foundations are met with here and on the adjoining farm of Gorswen. It is also clear that the road which passes up the vale below, and so hy Rhô village over the pass of Bwlch y ddaufaen, was the chief, or one of the chief, means of access into Snowdon. Indeed, the advent of the Roman armies may be followed from Denbighshire, by
Tal-y-cafn Ferry across the Conway, to Caerhun, the scene of the battle in Bulwer's Harold, where they had a strong establishment, and have left many traces of their industry and science. Thence, below the cliffs of Moel y Gaer (the bluff of the fort), they followed the Rhô river up the gap of Bwlch-y-ddaufaen (so called from the two maens, or upright stones, which are on the highest point) to Llanfairfechan and Aber, whither the pedestrian may follow them with ease and interest. The road, as it approaches Aber, is surrounded with remnants of very ancient houses and places of burial; while up a valley above Aber, one of the wildest in Wales, is the traditionary Arrow btone (Carreg y Saethau), the scores and scratches on which are held to have been made by the Welsh chieftains sharpening their arrows or spears on it as they swore allegiance to the king, or death to their country's enemy. (See Arch. Camb., Series I, No. I.)
FIGURE OF ST. DERFEL.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ARCH. CAMB.
SIR,- In the Arch. Camb. for 1847, p. 187, it is stated, on the authority of Sir Henry Ellis's original letters, that this wooden effigy was removed to London at the time of the Reformation ; and that in Cromwel's time the parishioners offered 40s. to redeem it, but their request was refused. In Lewis's Dictionary it is said that it was removed in 1538, and used in burning Friar Forrest in Smithfield. I am not able to refer to the original letters; but the accounts contradict each other, and even the letter appears to be inaccurate. In Lewis it is said to have stood over the screen; so that in a small church, like that of Llandderfel, a huge statue would be out of place. If the offer of the 40s. in Cromwel's time is true, it is more likely that it was removed to London about the same period. I am, Sir, yours obediently,
HAVERFORDWEST. TEMP. HENRY III.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ARCH. CAMB.
SIR,-In the reign of Henry III the merchants of Haverfordwest applied to the civic authorities of Hereford for the custom of that city regarding strangers wishing to sell their wares in the city. They paid for the information, and probably the license, one hundred shillings, a large sum in those days. The wares specified were wool, cloth, corn, and other provisions; and on every Saturday market they were to pay the dues and customs, under pain of forfeiting their goods. Considering the distance between the two places, and the risk and cost of carriage, even if they went by sea from Milford Haven up the Severn or Wye as far as they could go, it is clear that the difference of prices must have been great in the two districts. At any rate the merchants and manufacturers at Haverfordwest must have been in a flourishing state, and that part of Wales more firmly settled, than might have been expected at such a period. It would be interesting to ascertain, if possible, whether the merchants of Haverfordwest
3RD SER., VOL. XIV.