Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man/Chapter 9




Flint Implements in Post-pliocene Alluvium in the Basin of the Seine.

IN the ancient alluvium of the valleys of the Seine and its principal tributaries, the same assemblage of fossil animals, which has been alluded to in the last chapter as characterising the gravel of Picardy, has long been known; but it was not till the year 1860, and when diligent search had been expressly made for them, that flint implements of the Amiens type were discovered in this part of France.

In the neighbourhood of Paris, deposits of drift occur answering both to those of the higher and lower levels of the basin of the Somme before described.[1] In both are found, mingled with the wreck of the tertiary and cretaceous rocks of the vicinity, a large quantity of granitic sand, and pebbles, and occasionally large blocks of granite, from a few inches to a foot or more in diameter. These blocks are peculiarly abundant in the lower drift commonly called the 'diluvium

The granitic materials are traceable to a chain of hills called the Morvan, where the head waters of the Yonne take their rise, 150 miles to the SSE. of Paris.

It was in this lowest gravel that M. H. T. Grosse, of Geneva, found, in April 1860, in the suburbs of Paris, at La Motte Piquet, on the left bank of the Seine, one or two well-formed flint implements of the Amiens type, accompanied by a great number of ruder tools or attempts at tools. I visited the spot in 1861 with M. Hébert, and saw the stratum from which the worked flints had been extracted, twenty feet below the surface, and near the bottom of the 'grey diluvium,' a bed of gravel from which I have myself, in and near Paris, frequently collected the bones of the elephant, horse, and other mammalia.

More recently, M. Lartet has discovered at Clichy, in the environs of Paris, in the same lower gravel, a well-shaped flint implement of the Amiens type, together with remains both of Elephas primigenius and E. antiquus. No tools have yet been met with in any of the gravel occurring at the higher levels of the valley of the Seine; but no importance can be attached to this negative fact, as so little search has yet been made for them.

Mr. Prestwich has observed contortions indicative of ice-action, of the same kind as those near Amiens (see p. 138), in the higher level drift at Charonne, near Paris; but as yet no similar derangement has been seen in the lower gravels—a fact, so far as it goes, in unison with the phenomena observed in Picardy.

In the cavern of Arcy-sur-Yonne a series of deposits have lately been investigated by the Marquis de Vibraye, who discovered human bones in the lowest of them, mixed with remains of quadrupeds of extinct and recent species. This cavern occurs in Jurassic limestone, at a slight elevation above the Cure, a small tributary of the Yonne, which last joins the Seine near Fontainebleau, about forty miles south of Paris. The lowest formation in the cavern resembles the 'diluvium gris' of Paris, being composed of granitic materials, and like it derived chiefly from the waste of the crystalline rocks of the Morvan. In it have been found the two branches of a human lower jaw with teeth well-preserved, and the bones of the Elephas primigenius, Rhinoceros tichorhinus, Ursus spelæus, Hyæna spelæa, and Cervus Tarandus, all specifically determined by M. Lartet. I have been shown this collection of fossils by M. de Vibraye, and remarked that the human and other remains were in the same condition and of the same colour.

Above the grey gravel is a bed of red alluvium, made up of fragments of Jura limestone, in a red argillaceous matrix, in which were embedded several flint knives, with bones of the reindeer and horse, but no extinct mammalia. Over this, in a higher bed of alluvium, were several polished hatchets of the more modern type called 'celts,' and above all loam or cave-mud, in which were Gallo-Roman antiquities.[2]

The French geologists have made as yet too little progress in identifying the age of the successive deposits of ancient alluvium of various parts of the basin of the Seine, to enable us to speculate with confidence as to the coincidence in date of the granitic gravel with human bones of the Grotte d'Arcy and the stone-hatchets buried in 'grey diluvium' of La Motte Piquet, before mentioned; but as the associated extinct mammalia are of the same species in both localities, I feel strongly inclined to believe that the stone hatchets found by M. Grosse at Paris, and the human bones discovered by M. de Vibraye, may be referable to the same period.

Valley of the Oise.

A flint hatchet, of the old Abbeville and Amiens type, was found lately by M. Peigné Delacourt at Précy near Criel, on the Oise, in gravel, resembling, in its geological position, the lower-level gravels of Montiers near Amiens, already described. I visited these extensive gravel-pits in 1861, in company with Mr. Prestwich; but we remained there too short a time to entitle us to expect to find a flint implement, even if they had been as abundant as at St. Acheul.

In 1859, I examined, in a higher part of the same valley of the Oise, near Chauny and Noyon, some fine railway cuttings, which passed continuously through alluvium of the post-pliocene period for half a mile. All this alluvium was evidently of fluviatile origin, for, in the interstices between the pebbles, the Ancylus fluviatilis and other freshwater shells were abundant. My companion, the Abbé E. Lambert, had collected from the gravel a great many fossil bones, among which M. Lartet has recognised both Elephas primigenius and E. antiquus, besides a species of hippopotamus (H. major?), also the rein-deer, horse, and the musk buffalo (Bubalus moschatus). The latter seems never to have been seen before in the old alluvium of France.[3] Over the gravel above mentioned, near Chauny, are seen dense masses of loam like the loess of the Rhine, containing shells of the genera Helix and Succinea. We may suppose that the gravel containing the flint hatchet at Précy is of the same age as that of Chauny, with which it is continuous, and that both of them are coeval with the tool-bearing beds of Amiens, for the basins of the Oise and the Somme are only separated by a narrow water-shed, and the same fossil quadrupeds occur in both.

The alluvium of the Seine and its tributaries, like that of the Somme, contains no fragments of rocks brought from any other hydrographical basin; yet the shape of the land, or fall of the river, or the climate, or all these conditions, must have been very different when the grey alluvium in which the flint tools occur at Paris was formed. The great size of some of the blocks of granite, and the distance which they have travelled, imply a power in the river which it no longer possesses. We can scarcely doubt that river-ice once played a much more active part than now in the transportation of such blocks, one of which may be seen in the Museum of the École des Mines at Paris, three or four feet in diameter.

Post-pliocene Alluvium of England, containing Works of Art.

In the ancient alluvium of the basin of the Thames, at moderate heights above the main river, and its tributaries, we find fossil bones of the same species of extinct and living mammalia, accompanied by recent species, of land and fresh water shells, as we have shown to be characteristic of the basins of the Somme and the Seine. We can scarcely therefore doubt that these quadrupeds, during some part of the post-pliocene period, ranged freely from the continent of Europe to England, at a time when there was an uninterrupted communication by land between the two countries. The reader will not therefore be surprised to learn that flint implements of the same antique type as those of the valley of the Somme have been detected in British alluvium.

The most marked feature of this alluvium in the Thames valley is that great bed of ochreous gravel, composed chiefly of broken and slightly worn chalk flints, on which a great part of London is built. It extends from above Maidenhead through the metropolis to the sea, a distance from west to east of fifty miles, having a width varying from two to nine miles. Its thickness ranges commonly from five to fifteen feet.[4] Interstratified with this gravel, in many places, are beds of sand, loam, and clay, the whole containing occasionally remains of the mammoth and other extinct quadrupeds. Fine sections have been exposed to view, at different periods, at Brentford and Kew Bridge, others in London itself, and below it at Ilford and Erith in Kent, on the right bank, and at Gray's Thurrock in Essex, on the left bank. The united thickness of the beds of sand, gravel, and loam amounts sometimes to forty or even sixty feet. They are for the most part elevated above, but in some cases they descend below, the present level of the overflowed plain of the Thames.

If the reader will refer to the section of the post-pliocene sands and gravels of Menchecourt, near Abbeville, given at p. 118, he will perfectly understand the relations of the ancient Thames alluvium to the modern channel and plain of the river, and their relation, on the other hand, to the boundary formations of older date, whether tertiary or cretaceous.

So far as they are known, the fossil mollusca and mammalia of the two districts also agree very closely, the Cyrena fluminalis being common to both, and being the only extra-European shell, this and all the species of testacea being recent. Of this agreement with the living fauna there is a fine illustration in Essex; for the determination of which we are indebted to the late Mr. John Brown, F.G.S., who collected at Copford, in Essex, from a deposit containing bones of the mammoth, a large bear (probably Ursus spelæus), a beaver, stag, and aurochs, no less than sixty-nine species of land and fresh-water shells. Forty-eight of these were terrestrial, and two of them, Helix incarnata and H. ruderata, no longer inhabit the British Isles, but are still living on the continent, the first in high northern latitudes.[5] The Cyrena fluminalis and the Unio littoralis, to which last I shall presently allude, were not among the number.

I long ago suggested the hypothesis, that in the basin of the Thames there are indications of a meeting in the post-pliocene period of a northern and southern fauna. To the northern group may have belonged the mammoth (Elephas primigenius) and the Rhinoceros tichorhinus, both of which Pallas found in Siberia, preserved with their flesh in the ice. With these are occasionally associated the rein-deer. In 1855 the skull of the musk-ox (Bubalus moschatus) was also found in the ochreous gravel of Maidenhead, by the Rev. C. Kingsley and Mr. Lubbock; the identification of this fossil with the living species being made by Professor Owen. A second fossil skull of the same arctic animal was afterwards found by Mr. Lubbock near Bromley, in the valley of a small tributary of the Thames; and two others were dug up at Bath Easton from the gravel of the valley of the Avon. Professor Owen has truly said, that, 'as this quadruped has a constitution fitting it at present to inhabit the high northern regions of America, we can hardly doubt that its former companions, the warmly-clad mammoth and the two-horned woolly rhinoceros (R. tichorhinus), were in like manner capable of supporting life in a cold climate.'[6]

I have alluded at p. 144 to the recent discovery of this same buffalo near Chauny, in the valley of the Oise, in France; and in 1856 I found a skull of it preserved in the museum at Berlin, which Professor Quenstedt, the curator, had correctly named so long ago as 1836, when the fossil was dug out of drift, in the hill called the Kreuzberg, in the southern suburbs of that city. By an account published at the time, we find that the mammalia which accompanied the musk buffalo were the mammoth and tichorhine rhinoceros, with the horse and ox;[7] but I can find no record of the occurrence of a hippopotamus, nor of Elephas antiquus or Rhinoceros leptorhinus, in the drift of the north of Germany, bordering the Baltic.

On the other hand, in another locality in the same drift of North Germany, Dr. Hensel, of Berlin, detected, near Quedlinburg, the Norwegian Lemming (Myodes Lemmus), and another species of the same family called by Pallas Myodes torquatus (by Hensel, Misothermustorquatus)—a still more arctic quadruped, found by Parry in latitude 82º, and which never strays farther south than the northern borders of the woody region. Professor Beyrich also informs me that the remains of the Rhinoceros tichorhinus were obtained at the same place.[8]

As an example of what may possibly have constituted a more southern fauna in the valley of the Thames, I may allude to the fossil remains found in the fluviatile alluvium of Gray's Thurrock, in Essex, situated on the left bank of the river, twenty-one miles below London. The strata of brick-earth, loam, and gravel exposed to view in artificial excavations in that spot, are precisely such as would be formed by the silting up of an old river channel. Among the mammalia are Elephas antiquus, Rhinoceros leptorhinus (R. megarhinus Christol), Hippopotamus major, species of horse, bear, ox, stag, &c., and, among the accompanying shells, Cyrena fluminalis, which is extremely abundant, instead of being scarce, as at Abbeville. It is associated with Unio littoralis, fig. 22, also in great numbers, and with both valves united. This conspicuous fresh-water mussel is no longer an inhabitant of the British Isles, but still lives in the Seine, and is still more abundant in the Loire. Another fresh-water univalve (Paludina marginata Michaud), not British, but common in the

Fig. 22

Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man Fig. 22.png

Unio littoralis, Gray's Thurrock, Essex; extinct in British Isles, living in France.

south of France, likewise occurs, and a peculiar variety of Cyclas amnica, which by some naturalists has been regarded as a distinct species. With these, moreover, is found a peculiar variety of Valvata piscinalis.

If we consult Dr. Von Schrenck's account of the living mammalia of Amoorland, lying between lat. 45° and 55° North, we learn that, in that part of North-Eastern Asia recently annexed to the Russian empire, no less than thirty-four out of fifty-eight living quadrupeds are identical with European species, while some of those which do not extend their range to Europe are arctic, others tropical forms. The Bengal tiger ranges northwards occasionally to lat. 52° North, where he chiefly subsists on the flesh of the rein-deer, and the same tiger abounds in lat. 48°, to which the small tail-less hare or pika, a polar resident, sometimes wanders southwards.[9] We may readily conceive that the countries now drained by the Thames, the Somme, and the Seine, were, in the post-Pliocene period, on the borders of two distinct zoological provinces, one lying to the north, the other to the south, in which case many species belonging to each fauna endowed with migratory habits, like the living musk-buffalo or the Bengal tiger, may have been ready to take advantage of any, even the slightest, change in their favour to invade the neighbouring province, whether in the summer or winter months, or permanently for a series of years, or centuries. The Elephas antiquus and its associated Rhinoceros leptorhinus may have preceded the mammoth and tichorhine rhinoceros in the valley of the Thames, or both may have alternately prevailed in the same area in the post-pliocene period.

In attempting to settle the chronology of fluviatile deposits, it is almost equally difficult to avail ourselves of the evidence of organic remains and of the superposition of the strata, for we may find two old river-beds on the same level in juxta-position, one of them perhaps many thousands of years posterior in date to the other. I have seen an example of this at Ilford, where the Thames, or a tributary stream, has at some former period cut through sands containing Cyrena fluminalis, and again filled up the channel with argillaceous matter, evidently derived from the waste of the tertiary London clay. Such shiftings of the site of the main channel of the river, the frequent removal of gravel and sand previously deposited, and the throwing down of new alluvium, the flooding of tributaries, the rising and sinking of the land, fluctuations in the cold and heat of the climate—all these changes seem to have given rise to that complexity in the fluviatile deposits of the Thames, which accounts for the small progress we have hitherto made in determining their order of succession, and that of the imbedded groups of quadrupeds. It may happen, as at Brentford and Ilford, that sand-pits in two adjoining fields may each contain distinct species of elephant and rhinoceros; and they may occur at the same depth from the surface, and yet be referable each to two sub-divisions of the post-pliocene epoch, separated by thousands of years.

The relation of the glacial period to alluvial deposits, such as that of Gray's Thurrock, where the Cyrena fluminalis, Unio littoralis, and the hippopotamus seem rather to imply a warmer climate, has been a matter of long and animated discussion. Patches of the northern drift, at elevations of about two hundred feet above the Thames, occur in the neighbourhood of London, as at Muswell Hill, near Highgate. In this drift, blocks of granite, syenite, greenstone, coal-measure sandstone with its fossils, and other palæozoic rocks, and the wreck of chalk and oolite, occur confusedly mixed together. The same glacial formation is also found capping some of the Essex hills farther to the east, and extending some way down their southern slopes towards the valley of the Thames. Although no fragments washed out of these older and upland drifts have been found in the gravel of the Thames containing elephants' bones, it is fair to presume that the glacial formation is the older of the two, for reasons given before at p. 130, and that it originated, as we shall see in a future chapter, when the greater part of England was submerged beneath the sea.

In short, we must suppose that the basin of the Thames and all its fluviatile deposits are post-glacial, in the modified sense of that term; i.e. that they were subsequent to the marine drift of the central and northern counties, and to the period of its emergence above the level of the sea.

Having offered these general remarks on the alluvium of the Thames, I may now say something of the implements hitherto discovered in it. In the British Museum there is a flint weapon of the spear-headed form, such as is represented in fig. 8, p. 114, which we are told was found with an elephant's tooth at Black Mary's, near Gray's Inn Lane, London. In a letter dated 1715, printed in Herne's edition of 'Leland's Collectanea,' vol. i. p. 73, it is stated to have been found in the presence of Mr. Conyers, with the skeleton of an elephant.[10]So many bones of the elephant, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus have been found in the gravel on which London stands, that there is no reason to doubt the statement as handed down to us. Fossil remains of all these three genera have been dug up on the site of Waterloo Place, St. James's Square, Charing Cross, the London Docks, Limehouse, Bethnal Green, and other places within the memory of persons now living. In the gravel and sand of Shacklewell, in the northern suburbs of London, I have myself collected specimens of the Cyrena fluminalis in great numbers, see fig. 17 c, p. 124, with the bones of deer and other mammalia.

In the alluvium also of the Wey, near Guildford, in a place called Pease Marsh, a wedge-shaped flint implement, resembling one brought from St. Acheul, by Mr. Prestwich, and compared by some antiquaries to a sling-stone, was obtained in 1836 by Mr. Whitburn, four feet deep in sand and gravel, in which the teeth and tusks of elephants had been found. The Wey flows through the gorge of the North Downs at Guildford to join the Thames. Mr. Austen has shown that this drift is so ancient that one part of it had been disturbed and tilted before another part was thrown down.[11]

Among other places where flint tools of the antique type have been met with in the course of the last three years, I may mention one of an oval form found by Mr. Evans in the valley of the Darent, and another which the same observer found lying on the shore at Swalecliff, near Whitstable, in Kent, where Mr. Prestwich had previously described a freshwater deposit, resting on the London clay, and consisting chiefly of gravel, in which an elephant's tooth and the bones of a bear were embedded. The, flint implement was deeply discoloured and of a peculiar bright light brown colour, similar to that of the old fluviatile gravel in the cliff.

Another flint implement was found in 1860, by Mr. T. Leech, at the foot of the cliff between Herne Bay and the Reculvers, and on further search five other specimens of the spear-head pattern so common at Amiens. Messrs. Prestwich and Evans have since found three other similar tools on the beach, at the base of the same wasting cliff, which consists of sandy Eocene strata. Upon these, at the top of the cliff, is a pebbly deposit of fresh-water origin, about fifty feet above the sea-level, from which the flint weapons must have been derived. Such old alluvial deposits now capping the cliffs of Kent seem to have been the river-beds of tributaries of the Thames before the sea encroached to its present position and widened its estuary. On following up one of these fresh-water deposits westward of the Reculvers, Mr. Prestwich found in it, at Chislet, near Grove Ferry, the Cyrena fluminalis among other shells.

The changes which have taken place in the physical geography of this part of England during, or since, the post-pliocene period, have consisted partly of such encroachments of the sea on the coast as are now going on, and partly of a general subsidence of the land. Among the signs of the latter movement may be mentioned a fresh-water formation at Faversham, below the level of the sea. The gravel there contains exclusively land and fluviatile shells, of the same species as those of other localities of the post-pliocene alluvium before mentioned, and must have been formed when the river was at a higher level and when it extended farther east. At that era it was probably a tributary of the Rhine, as represented by Mr. Trimmer in his ideal restoration of the geography of the olden time.[12] For England was then united to the continent, and what is now the German Ocean was land. It is well known that in many places, especially near the coast of Holland, elephants' tusks and other bones are often dredged up from the bed of that shallow sea, and the reader will see in the map given in Chap. XIII. how vast would be the conversion of sea into land by an upheaval of 600 feet. Vertical movements of much less than half that amount would account for the annexation of England to the continent, and the extension of the Thames and its valley far to the north east, and the flowing of rivers from the easternmost parts of Kent and Essex into the Thames, instead of emptying themselves into its estuary.

More than a dozen flint weapons of the Amiens type have already been found in the basin of the Thames; but the geological position of no one of them has as yet been ascertained with the same accuracy as that of many of the tools dug up in the valley of the Somme, or some other British examples which will presently be mentioned.

Flint Implements of the Valley of the Ouse, near Bedford.

The ancient fluviatile gravel of the valley of the Ouse, around Bedford, has been noted for the last thirty years for yielding to collectors a rich harvest of the bones of extinct mammalia; those of the elephant, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus being amongst the number. Mr. James Wyatt, F.G.S., having returned in 1860 from France, where, in the gravel-pits of St. Acheul, near Amiens, he had marked the position of the flint tools, resolved to watch carefully the excavation of the gravel-pits at Biddenham, two miles WNW. of Bedford, in the hope of finding there similar works of art. With this view he paid almost daily visits for months in succession to those pits, and was at last rewarded by the discovery of two well-formed implements, one of the spear-head and the other of the oval shape, perfect counterparts of the two prevailing French types figured at pp. 114, 115. Both specimens were thrown out by the workmen on the same day from the lowest bed of stratified gravel and sand, thirteen feet thick, containing bones of the elephant, deer, and ox, and many fresh-water shells. The two implements occurred at the depth of thirteen feet from the surface of the soil, and rested immediately on solid beds of oolitic limestone, as represented in the accompanying section.

Fig. 23

Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man Fig. 23.png

Section across the Valley of the Ouse, two miles WNW. of Bedford.

1 Oolitic strata.

2 Boulder clay, or marine northern drift, rising to about ninety feet above the Ouse.

3 Ancient gravel, with elephant bones, freshwater shells, and flint implements.

4 Modern alluvium of the Ouse.

a Biddenham gravel pits, at the bottom of which flint tools were found.

I examined these pits, in 1861, in company with Messrs. Prestwich, Evans, and Wyatt, and we collected ten species of shells from the stratified drift No. 3, or the beds overlying the lowest gravel from which the flint implements had been exhumed. They were all of common fluviatile and land species now living in the same part of England. Since our visit, Mr. Wyatt has added to them Paludina marginata Michaud (Hydrobia of some authors, see p. 225 infra), species of the South of France no longer inhabiting the British Isles. The same geologist has also found, since we were at Biddenham, several other flint tools of corresponding type, both there and at other localities in the Valley of the Ouse, near Bedford.

The boulder clay, No. 2, extends for miles in all directions, and was evidently once continuous from b to c, before the valley was scooped out. It is a portion of the great marine glacial drift of the midland counties of England, and contains blocks, some of large size, not only of the oolite of the neighbourhood, but of chalk and other rocks transported from still greater distances, such as syenite, basalt, quartz, and new red sandstone. These erratic blocks of foreign origin are often polished and striated, having undergone what is called glaciation, of which more will be said by and by. Blocks of the same mineral character, embedded at Biddenham in the gravel No. 3, have lost all signs of this striation by the friction to which they were subjected in the old river-bed.

The great width of the valley of the Ouse, which is some times two miles, has not been expressed in the diagram. It may have been shaped out by the joint action of the river and the tides when this part of England was emerging from the waters of the glacial sea, the boulder clay being first cut through, and then an equal thickness of underlying oolite. After this denudation, which may have accompanied the emergence of the land, the country was inhabited by the primitive people who fashioned the flint tools. The old river, aided perhaps by the continued upheaval of the whole country, or by oscillations in its level, went on widening and deepening the valley, often shifting its channel, until at length a broad area was covered by a succession of the earliest and latest deposits, which may have corresponded in age to the higher and lower gravels of the valley of the Somme, already described, p. 130. Mr. Prestwich has hinted that perhaps the drift of Biddenham, which is thirty feet above the present level of the Ouse, and contains bones of Elephas primigenius, and the shells above alluded to, may be a higher level alluvium; and the gravel on which, the town of Bedford is built, which is at an inferior level relatively to the Ouse, may be a lower deposit and consequently newer. But we have scarcely as yet sufficient data to enable us to determine the relative age of these strata. In the Bedford gravel, last alluded to, some remains of Hippopotamus major and Elephas antiquus have been discovered, and an assemblage of land and freshwater shells of recent species, but not precisely the same as those of Biddenham.

One step at least we gain by the Bedford sections, which those of Amiens and Abbeville had not enabled us to make. They teach us that the fabricators of the antique tools, and the extinct mammalia coeval with them, were all post-glacial, or, in other words, posterior to the grand submergence of Central England beneath the waters of the glacial sea.

Flint Implements in a Freshwater Deposit at Hoxne in Suffolk.

So early as the first year of the present century, a remarkable paper was communicated to the Society of Antiquaries by Mr. John Frere, in which he gave a clear description of the discovery at Hoxne, near Diss, in Suffolk, of flint tools of the type since found at Amiens, adding at the same time good geological reasons for presuming that their antiquity was very great, or, as he expressed it, beyond that of the present world, meaning the actual state of the physical geography of that region. 'The flints,' he said, 'were evidently weapons of war, fabricated and used by a people who had not the use of metals. They lay in great numbers at the depth of about twelve feet in a stratified soil which was dug into for the purpose of raising clay for bricks. Under a foot and a half of vegetable earth was clay seven and a half feet thick, and beneath this one foot of sand with shells, and under this two feet of gravel, in which the shaped flints were found generally at the rate of five or six in a square yard. In the sandy beds with shells were found the jaw bone and teeth of an enormous unknown animal. The manner in which the flint weapons lay would lead to the persuasion that it was a place of their manufacture, and not of their accidental deposit. Their numbers were so great that the man who carried on the brick-work told me that before he was aware of their being objects of curiosity, he had emptied baskets full of them into the ruts of the adjoining road.'

Mr. Frere then goes on to explain that the strata in which the flints occur are disposed horizontally, and do not lie at the foot of any higher ground, so that portions of them must have been removed when the adjoining valley was hollowed out. If the author had not mistaken the freshwater shells associated with the tools for marine species, there would have been nothing to correct in his account of the geology of the district, for he distinctly perceived that the strata in which the implements were embedded had, since that time, undergone very extensive denudation.[13] Specimens of the flint spearheads, sent to London by Mr. Frere, are still preserved in the British Museum, and others are in the collection of the Society of Antiquaries.

Mr. Prestwich's attention was called by Mr. Evans to those weapons, as well as to Mr. Frere's memoir after his return from Amiens in 1859, and he lost no time in visiting Hoxne, a village five miles eastward of Diss. It is not a little remarkable that he should have found, after a lapse of sixty years, that the extraction of clay was still going on in the same brick-pit. Only a few months before his arrival, two flint instruments had been dug out of the clay, one from a depth of seven and the other of ten feet from the surface. Others have since been disinterred from undisturbed beds of gravel in the same pit. Mr. Amyot, of Diss, has also obtained from the underlying freshwater strata the astragalus of an elephant, and bones of the deer and horse; but although many of the old implements have recently been discovered in situ in regular strata and preserved by Sir Edward Kerrison, no bones of extinct mammalia seem as yet to have been actually seen in the same stratum with one of the tools.

By reference to the annexed section, the geologist will see that the basin-shaped hollow a, b, c,' has been filled up gradually with the fresh- water strata 3, 4, 5, after the same cavity a, b, c, had been previously excavated out of the more ancient boulder clay, No. 6. The relative position of these formations will be better understood when I have described in the Twelfth

Fig. 24

Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man Fig. 24.png

Section showing the position of the flint weapons at Hoxne, near Diss, Suffolk.
See Prestwich, Philosophical Transactions, Pl. 11. 1860.

1 Gravel of Gold Brook, a tributary of the Waveny.

2 Higher-level gravel overlying the freshwater deposit.

3 and 4. Sand and gravel, with freshwater shells, and flint implements, and bones of mammalia.

5 Peaty and clayey beds, with same fossils.

6 Boulder clay or glacial drift.

7 Sand and gravel below boulder clay.

8 Chalk with flints.

Chapter the structure of Norfolk and Suffolk as laid open in the sea-cliffs at Mundesley, about thirty miles distant from Hoxne, in a North North-east direction.

I examined the deposits at Hoxne in 1860, when I had the advantage of being accompanied by the Rev. J. Gunn, and the Rev. S. W. King. In the loamy beds 3 and 4, fig. 24, we observed the common river shell Valvata piscinalis in great numbers. With it, but much more rare, were Limnea palustris, Planorbis albus, P. spirorbis, Succinea putris, Bithynia tentaculata, Cyclas cornea; and Mr. Prestwich mentions Cyclas amnica and fragments of a Unio, besides several land shells. In the black peaty mass No. 5, fragments of wood of the oak, yew, and fir have been recognised. The flint weapons which I have seen from Hoxne are so much more perfect, and have their cutting edge so much sharper than those from the Valley of the Somme, that they seem neither to have been used by man, nor to have been rolled in the bed of a river. The opinion of Mr. Frere, therefore, that there may have been a manufactory of weapons on the spot, appears probable.

Flint Implements at Icklingham in Suffolk.

In another part of Suffolk, at Icklingham, in the Valley of the Lark, below Bury St. Edmund's, there is a bed of gravel, in which two flints of a lance-head form have been found at the depth of four feet from the surface. I have visited the spot, which has been correctly described by Mr. Prestwich.[14]

The section of the Bedford tool-bearing alluvium, given at p. 155, may serve to illustrate that of Icklingham, if we substitute chalk for oolite, and the river Lark for the Ouse. In both cases, the present bed of the river is about thirty feet below the level of the old gravel, and the chalk hill, which bounds the Valley of the Lark on the right side, is capped like the oolite of Biddenham by boulder clay, which rises to the height of one hundred feet above the Lark. About twelve years ago, a large erratic block, above four feet in diameter, was dug out of the boulder clay at Icklingham, which I found to consist of a hard siliceous schist, apparently a Silurian rock, which must have come from a remote region. The tool-bearing gravel here, as in the case to which it has been compared near Bedford, is proved to be newer than the glacial drift, by containing pebbles of basalt and other rocks derived from that formation.

  1. Prestwich, Proceedings of Roy. Soc. 1862.
  2. Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France, 1860.
  3. Lartet, Annales des Sciences Naturelles Zoologiques, tom. xv. p. 224.
  4. Prestwich, Geological Quarterly Journal, vol. xii. p. 131.
  5. Quarterly Geological Journal, vol. viii. p. 190, 1852.

    Mr. Brown calls them extinct species, which may mislead some readers, but he merely meant extinct in England.

  6. Geological Quarterly Journal, vol. xii. p. 124.
  7. Leonhard and Bronn's Jahrbuch, 1836, p. 215.
  8. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Geologischen Gesellschaft, vol. vii. 1855, p. 548, &c.
  9. Mammalia of Amoorland, Natural History Review, vol. i. p. 12, 1861.
  10. Evans, Archæologia, 1860.
  11. Quarterly Geological Journal, 1851, vol. vii. p. 278.
  12. Quarterly Geological Journal, vol. ix. pl. 13, No. 4.
  13. Frere, Archæologia for 1800, vol. xiii. p. 206.
  14. Quarterly Geological Journal, 1861, vol. xvii. p. 364.