Natural History Review/1861/The Kjökkenmöddings: recent Geologico-Archæological Researches in Denmark
Denmark occupies a larger space in the history, than in the map, of Europe. The nation is greater than the country; and even if with the growth of physical power in surrounding populations, she has lost somewhat of her influence in political councils, still the Danes of today are no unworthy representatives of their ancestors. Many a larger nation might envy them the position they hold in Science and in Art, and few have contributed more to the progress of human knowledge. Copenhagen, indeed, may well be proud both of her Museums and of her Professors: and without attempting to compare together things which are essentially incomparable, we may, perhaps, especially point to the celebrated Museum of Northern Antiquities, as being most characteristic and unique.
For the formation of such a collection Denmark offers unrivalled opportunities. The whole country appears to have been, at one time, thickly studded with tumuli: where the land has not been brought into cultivation, several of them are often in sight at once, and even in the more fertile and thickly populated parts, the plough is often diverted from its course by one of these ancient burial places. Fortunately, the stones of which they are constructed are so large and so hard, that their destruction and removal is a laborious and expensive undertaking. As, however, land grows more valuable, or perhaps when the stones themselves become available for building or other purposes, no conservative tradition, or feeling of reverence for the dead, protects them from desecration: and it is estimated that not a week passes without witnessing the destruction of one or more tumuli, and the loss of some, perhaps irrecoverable, link in the history of our race.
Every barrow indeed, is in itself a small museum of Northern Antiquities, and the whole country even may be considered as a Museum on a great scale. The peat bogs, which occupy so large an area, may almost be said to swarm with antiquities, and Professor Steenstrup estimates that every column of three feet square contains some specimen of ancient workmanship. All these advantages and opportunities, however, might have been thrown away, but for the genius and perseverance of Professor Thomsen, who may fairly be said to have created the Museum over which he bo worthily presides.
After careful study, the archæologists of Northern Europe have divided the history of their country into four great periods, and their Collection into as many series. These four ages are known as the Stone, the Bronze, the Iron, and the Christian periods. Of the last I need here say nothing: nor does the Iron age immediately concern though it may be well to observe that it certainly commenced before the time of Christ and lasted until the introduction of Christianity into Denmark. The men of this period had long heads, and were, as well as the domestic animals, apparently more powerful than those of the preceding epoch. With the Bronze age we get beyond the reach of history and even of tradition. At first it appears remarkable that bronze should have been discovered before iron: but copper itself is found native, its ores are strongly coloured, and have a metallic appearance, while those of tin are black, very heavy, and easily smelted. On the other hand, iron ore, though very common, is not peculiar either in colour or in weight, and its reduction requires a very high temperature.
Before arriving, however, at a knowledge of bronze, it is evident that mankind must have passed through an age of copper, and the absence in Northern Europe of any evidence of such a fact (though a very few hatchets of copper have been found) is one among several reasons for regarding the acquisition of bronze, not as a discovery made by the men of the Stone period, but rather as introduced into Northern Europe by a new race. In fact, while mankind, during the earlier part, if not the whole, of the Stone period, appear (in Denmark, at least) to have been exclusively hunters and fishermen, with the Bronze age we find evidences of a pastoral and agricultural life, in the presence of domestic oxen, pigs, and sheep. It is probable that the men of the Stone period were conquered and partly replaced, by a more civilized race coming from the East. It is not only the introduction of bronze and of domestic animals which points to such a conclusion. The new people burned their dead and collected the bones in funeral urns. While, therefore, we have many skulls belonging to the Stone age, there is scarcely one, well authenticated, as appertaining to the Bronze: and though this custom of burning the dead deprives us of the assistance of osteology, it is in itself some indication of Eastern origin. The small size of the knife handles belonging to this period shows that, like the Hindoos of the present day, the men had small hands; and, indeed, they appear to have been decidedly inferior to the Iron race which succeeded them.
On the other hand it must be confessed that the antiquities of Norway and Sweden, of Switzerland and of Ireland, indicate a different progress of civilization in these countries. Thus domestic animals were already known in Switzerland during the Stone age; in Northern Scandinavia bronze appears to have been much rarer and iron to have been discovered earlier, than in Denmark; while in Ireland the custom of burning the dead coexisted, according to Wilde, (though upon this point the evidence is not quite satisfactory), with the practice of interment and belonged to various periods, although in Denmark it appears to be confined to the Bronze and perhaps the commencement of the Iron age. These differences however will Appear less surprising when we consider that, in more modern times, coins were struck in the South of England before the commencement of our era, while in Ireland none were made before the tenth century, so that London has had a coinage for move than twice as long as Dublin. For the present however I confine myself to Denmark, reserving the consideration of other countries for a future opportunity.
Two or three battle fields belonging to the Bronze period have been found, and have supplied a great number of interesting objects. It is curious, that besides dice of the common shape, some have been discovered which are elongated and cylindrical, a peculiar form which is still however used in some parts of India. Many of the spears had one or more nails driven into them, in a manner apparently useless, but Professor Thomsen observed the same thing in some spears from India, and ascertained that, in these, a nail was inserted for every enemy killed. Metal was, however, rare and precious, and therefore only used in instruments which could not easily be made from flint. The beautiful flint knives of the Stone period must have been extremely difficult to make. We cannot imitate them now, and even in those days, when they had such wonderful skill in workiug flint, a flint knife must have been made with great difficulty. Axes, on the contrary, were easily formed, and therefore stone was used for them long after the introduction of bronze, as is shown by the fact that while in the Museum at Copenhagen thero are about 300 bronze swords, there are not more than 20 bronze axes. The arrow heads also were made of flint.
A confusion is sometimes made between the bronze of the true Bronze age, and that which is found together with iron. The former, however, is composed of about 9 parts of copper to 1 of tin, while in the bronze, or rather brass, of the Iron period, the tin is generally replaced by zinc, and the composition thus obtained is used only for ornaments; and though sometimes, as for instance in the umbos of the shields, it may form part of a weapon, it is never the cutting or striking edge, which is always formed of iron.
The number of objects belonging to the Bronze age, which have been found in Denmark is very remarkable, and together with the great differences apparent in the workmanship, indicate that the period was of great duration. The same appears to have been the case in Ireland, as in the great museum of the Royal Irish Academy there are six hundred and eighty-six of these weapons, and yet no two of them were cast in the same mould.
Some of them are merely repetitions, in bronze, of the older stone weapons, as may very well be seen, for instance, in the British Museum; but, at what was perhaps a later period; the art had wonderfully improved, and the bronze instruments are more varied in form and more skilfully made. That they were cast, and were of Danish manufacture is proved by the discovery of moulds, and in some cases of the "tags" formed in the hole through which the metal was poured.
With the Stone age we arrive at a time when the use of metal was altogether unknown in Denmark. The inhabitants supported themselves by hunting and fishing, and had no domestic animals, except the dog, nor so far as we are aware, any knowledge of agriculture.
Reduced thus to implements of stone, and fortunate in being able to obtain excellent flint, they attained to a rare skill in this art, and some of their flint spears and knives are wonderfully well made. The common form of flint axe, or celt, is represented in Pl. VII. fig. 1. These weapons though found elsewhere, are rare, except in Denmark, where they occur in the barrows of the Stone period. A few have been met with in England, principally in rivers, but our specimens seem to be generally narrower, with sloping sides, and arched above and below, while the Danish forms are flatter and with perpendicular sides. They were made by a succession of blows, and then the angles were ground down on sandstone blocks, several of which have been discovered. In this respect they differ from the celts found in the gravel beds at Amiens and Abbeville, which are always left angular. Smaller hatchets of stone are common in and to all countries. Some of the other objects belonging to this first great phase in the civilisation of Scandinavia are represented in Pl. VII. It might at first be doubted whether the triangular flint flake (fig. 7) was necessarily artificial. Similar flakes, however, either of flint or obsidian, have been and are still, used by savages in various parts of the world. They were made by taking an oblong stone and continually splitting off the projecting edges. Many obsidian flakes and one of the pieces from which they were struck may be seen in the British Museum, and I have represented in Pl. VII. fig. 6, a similar piece of flint from Denmark. The tombs of this period are chambers formed by enormous blocks of stone, so large that it is difficult to imagine how they can have been brought into position. The bodies were placed in a sitting posture, with their backs resting against the stones, and their knees brought up under their chins. When the tomb was intended only for one or two bodies it was small and the height was determined by the size of the stones forming the sides. Sometimes, however, a number were buried together, the tomb having, perhaps, served as a last resting place for a whole family. When this was the case the walls were formed by two rows of stones, and the space enclosed was much larger. In one that we visited the chamber was about 25 feet long by 10 broad, and there was a passage leading from the side to the exterior. The tomb was finally covered over by great slabs, and earth was heaped upon it, so as to form a mound, and a row of stones was placed round the edge. They are, therefore, quite different from the Barrows of the Bronze period which "have no circles of massive stones, no stone chambers, in general no large stones on the bottom, wilh the exception of stone cists placed togeiher, which, however, are easily to be distinguished from the stone chambers; they consist, as a general rule, of mere earth, with heaps of small stones, and always present themselves to the eye as mounds of earth, which, in a few rare instances are surrounded by a small circle of stones, and contain relics of bodies which have been burned and placed in vessels of clay with objects of metal."
It would appear from the remains found near the lake habitations of Switzerland, that, though, during the Stone period, neither goat, the sheep, nor the domestic ox can be proved to have existed in Denmark, they were already present in Southern Europe, but, even if the lake-habitations do not, as seems probable, belong to a period subsequent to that of the "Kjökkenmöddings," it is easy to believe that in many respects the inhabitants of these more genial countries may have been more civilized than their Northern contemporaries.
In addition, however, to the objects collected from the tumuli and the peat bogs, and to those which have been found from time to time scattered at random in the soil, the Museum of Northern Antiquities contains an immense collection of specimens from some very interesting shell deposits, which are known in Denmark under the name of "Kjökkenmöddings," and which were long supposed to be raised beaches, like those which are found at so many points along our own shores. True raised beaches, however, necessarily contain a variety of species; the individuals are of all ages, and they are, of course, mixed with a considerable quantity of sand and gravel. It was observed, however, in the first instance, I believe by Professor Steenstrup, that in these supposed raised beaches, the shells belonged entirely to full grown, or nearly full grown, individuals: that they consisted of four species which do not live together, nor require the same conditions, and would not therefore be found together alone in a natural deposit: and thirdly, that the stratum contains scarcely any gravel, but consists almost entirely of shells.
The discovery of rude flint implements, and of bones still bearing the marks of knives, confirmed the supposition that these beds were not natural formations, and it subsequently became evident that they were, in fact, the sites of ancient villages, the primitive population having lived on the shore and fed principally on shell-fish, but partly also on the proceeds of the chase. The shells and bones not available for food gradually accumulated round the tents, until they formed deposits generally, from 3 to 5 feet, but sometimes as much as 10 feet in thickness, and in some cases more than 300 yards in length, with a breadth of from 150 to 200 feet. The name Kjökkenmödding is derived from Kjökken, kitchen, and mödding (corresponding to our local word midding) a refuse heap, and it became, of course, evident that a careful examination of these accumulations would throw much light on the manners and civilization of the then population.
Under these circumstances a committee was formed, consisting of Professor Steenstrup, the celebrated author of the treatise "On the Alternation of Generations," Professor Forchhammer, the father of Danish Geology, and Professor Worsäae, the great Archæologist: a happy combination, and one which promised the best results to Biology, Geology, and Archæology.
Much was naturally expected from the labours of such a triumvirate, but the most sanguine hopes have been fulfilled. Already several of the deposits have been carefully examined, and many thousand specimens have been collected, ticketed, and deposited in the Museum at Copenhagen. Both in themselves and in their relations to the discoveries made by M. Boucher de Perthes in the Valley of the Somme, these researches are of the greatest interest, and the results have been embodied in six Reports presented to the Academy of Sciences at Copenhagen.
These reports, however, being in Danish have not received the attention they deserve, but M. Morlot has published a very excellent abstract of them, to which I would refer all those who take an interest in the subject, and from which I have extracted many of the following details. Having had the advantage of visiting the pits at Amiens and Abbeville with Mr. Busk, Capt. Galton, and Mr. Prestwich, and of inspecting the admirable collection belonging to M. Boucher de Perthes, I was naturally very desirous of having an opportunity of comparing the flint instruments found in France with those which occur in Denmark, and I was so fortunate as to induce Mr. Busk to go with me to Copenhagen, he being specially anxious to study the collection of ancient crania, while my attention was more particularly directed to the contents of the Kjökkenmöddings. During the whole of our visit Prof. Worsäae was absent from the capital, and Prof. Forchhammer was also away for a great part of the time; Professors Thomsen and Steenstrup however were most obliging, and the latter at much personal inconvenience made an excursion into the country to show us the Kjökkenmödding, at Havelse, on the Isefjord, which is one of the most characteristic specimens of these ancient dust-heaps. We had already visited one at Bilidt, close to Fredericksund, but this is one of the places at which it would seem that the inhabitants cooked their dinners actually on the shore itself, so that the shells and bones are much mixed up with sand and gravel. At Havelse, on the contrary, the settlement was rather higher up, and the shells and bones are therefore unmixed with any extraneous substances. We started from Copenhagen soon after six, going to Röeskilde by rail, and then took the steamer down the Isefjord to Fredericksund, from which we drove to Havelse. At this place the Kjökkenmödding is of small extent, and appears to have surrounded a single tent, being in the form of an irregular ring, enclosing a space on which the tent or tents probably stood, and which is now occupied by a mill. In other cases, where the deposit is of greater extent, the surface is undulating, the greater thickness of the shelly stratum in some places apparently indicating the arrangement of the dwellings. These two settlements were by no means the only ones on the Isefjord; in the neighbourhood of Roeskilde, Kjökkenmöddings occur near Gjerdrup, at Kattinge, and Kattinge Værk, near Trallerup, at Gjershöi, and opposite the island of Hyldeholme; besides several farther north, Others have been found on the islands of Fyen, of Moen, and of Samsoe, and in Jutland along Liimfjord, Mariagerfjord, Randersfjord, Kolindsund, and Horsensfjord. The southern parts of Denmark have not yet been carefully examined. Generally it is evident that deposits of this nature were scattered here and there over the whole coast, and that they were never formed inland. The whole country would appear to have been more intersected by fjörds during the Stone period even than it is now. Under these circumstances it is evident that a nation which subsisted principally on marine shellfish would never form any large inland settlements. In some instances indeed Kjökkenmöddings have been found as much as eight miles from the present coast, but in these cases there is good reason for supposing that the land has encroached on the sea. On the other hand, in those parts where Kjökkenmöddings do not occur, their absence is no doubt occasioned by the waves having to a certain extent eaten away the shore, an explanation which accounts for their being so much more frequent on the shores of the inland fjords than on the coast itself, and also deprives us of all hope of finding any similar remains on our eastern and south-eastern shores, though an examination of the western Coast would be very desirable. The fact that the majority of these deposits are found at a height of only a few feet above the sea appears to prove that there has been no considerable subsidence of the land since their formation, while on the other hand it clearly proves that there can have been no elevation. In certain cases, however, where the shore is elevated, they have been found at a considerable height. It might indeed be supposed that where, as at Bilidt, the materials of the Kjökkenmödding were rudely interstratified with sand and gravel, the land must have sunk, but if for any length of time such a deposit was subjected to the action of the waves, all traces of it would be obliterated, and it is therefore probable that an explanation is rather to be found in the fact that the action of waves and storms was greater then than now. At present the tides only affect the Kattegat to the extent of about a foot and a half, and the configuration of the land protects it very much from the action of the winds. On the other hand, on the west coasts of Jutland the tides rise about nine feet, and the winds have been known to produce differences of level amounting to 29 feet, and as we know that Jutland was anciently an archipelago, and that the Baltic was more open to the German Ocean than it is now, we can easily understand that the fluctuations of level may have been greater, and we can thus explain how the waves may have risen over the Kjökkenmödding at Bilidt (which is after all not much more than 10 feet above the water), without resorting to the hypothesis of a subsidence and subsequent elevation of the coast.
In the Lake-habitations of the Stone age in Switzerland, grains of wheat and barley and even pieces of bread, or rather biscuit, have been found. It does not however appear that the men of the Kjökkenmöddings had any knowledge of agriculture, no traces of grain of any sort having been hitherto discovered. The only vegetable remains found in them have been burnt pieces of wood and some charred substance referred by M. Forchhammer to the Zostera marina, a sea plant which was perhaps used in the production of salt.
The four species of shells which constitute the greater portion of these deposits are in the order of their abundance,—
The oyster, Ostrea edulis, L.
The cockle, Cardium edule, L.
The mussel, Mytilus edulis, L. and
The periwinkle, Littorina littorea, L.
all four of which are still used as food for man. Four other species occur more rarely, namely,—
Nassa reticulata, L.
Buccinum undatum, L. (the whelk)
Venus pullastra, Mont, and
Helix nemoralis (the snail).
It is remarkable that the specimens of these species are very well developed, and decidedly larger than any now found in the neighbourhood. This is especially the case with the Cardium edule and Littorina littorea, while the oyster has entirely disappeared, and even in the Cattegat itself occurs only in a few places, a result which may perhaps be partly accounted for by the quantities caught. Some oysters were, however, still living in the Isefjord at the beginning of the century, and their disappearance cannot be altogether ascribed to the fishermen, as great numbers of dead shells are still present; but in this case it is attributed to the abundance of starfishes, which are very destructive to oysters. On the whole, however, their disappearance, especially when taken in connexion with the dwarf size of the other species, is evidently attributable in a great measure to the smaller proportion of salt in the water.
Of Crustacea only a few fragments of crabs have hitherto been found. Fish bones, on the contrary, are frequent, the commonest being—
Clupea harengus, L. (the herring)
Gadus callarias, L. (the dorse)
Pleuronectes limanda, L. (the dab) and
Murena anguilla, L. (the eel).
The remains of birds are highly interesting and instructive. The domestic fowl (Gallus domesticus) is "conspicuous by its absence." It is less surprising that the two domestic swallows of Denmark, (Hirundo rustica and H. urbica), the sparrow, and the stork are also missing. On the other hand, fine specimens of the capercailzie (Tetrao urogallus) which feeds principally on the buds of the pine, shows that, as we knew already from the remains found in the peat, the country was at one time covered with pine forests. Aquatic birds, however, are the most frequent, especially several species of ducks and geese. The wild swan (Anas cygnus, L.), which only visits Denmark in winter, is also found; but perhaps, the most interesting of the birds whose remains have been identified is the Great Auk (Alca impennis, L.), a species which is now almost extinct.
During our short visit to Havelse we found perhaps a hundred fragments of bone belonging principally to the following animals:—
The stag (Cervus elaphus, L.)
The roedeer (Cervus capreolus, L.)
The wild boar (Sus scrofa, L.)
The wild bull (Bos urus or primigenius) and
The seal (Phoca gryppus, Fabr.)
These are the commonest species, but the following also occur:—
The beaver (Castor fiber, L.)
The wolf (Canis lupis, L.)
The fox (Canis vulpes, L.)
The dog (Canis familiaris, L.)
The lynx (Felis lynx, L.)
The wild cat (Felis catus, L.)
The marten (Mustela martes, L.)
The otter (Lutra vulgaris, Erxl.)
The hedgehog (Erinaceus europæus, L.)
The water rat (Hypudæus amphibius, L.)
The Lithuanian auroch (Bison europæus) has been found, though rarely, in the peat bogs, but not yet in the Kjökkenmöddings. The musk ox (Bubalus moschatus) and the domestic ox (Bos taurus), as well as the elk, the reindeer, the hare, the sheep, and the domestic hog, are all absent. Remains of the two former will probably be ere long discovered. It may perhaps be inferred that the hares were spared in deference to the same superstition which preserved them from the ancient Britons, and which in Lapland and some other countries survives even to the present day.
Professor Steenstrup does not believe that the domestic hog of ancient Europe was directly derived from the wild boar, but rather that it was introduced from the East, and the skulls which he showed us in support of this belief certainly exhibited very great differences between the two races. It is extremely unlikely that an animal so powerful and so intractable as the Urus appears to have been, can have been domesticated by these savages, and the condition of the bones themselves confirms the idea that they belonged to wild animals. The sheep and the reindeer being entirely absent, and the domestic cat not having been known in Europe until about the ninth century, the dog appears to have been the only domestic animal of the period; and though it may fairly be asked whether the bones may not have belonged to a race of wild dogs, the question admits of a satisfactory answer.
Among the remains of birds, the long bones which form about one-fifth of the skeleton are, in the Kjökkenmöddings, about twenty times as numerous as the others, and are almost always imperfect, the shaft only remaining. In the same manner it would be impossible to reconstruct a perfect skeleton of the quadrupeds, certain bones and parts of bones being always absent. In the case of the ox, for instance, the missing parts are the heads of the long bones (though while the shaft only of the femur is found, in the humerus one end is generally perfect), the back bone except the two first vertebræ, the spinous processes, and generally the ribs, and the bones of the skull except the lower jaw and the portion round the eyes. It occurred to M. Steenstrup that these curious facts might, perhaps, be referred to the dogs; and, on trying the experiment, he ascertained that the bones which are absent from the Kjökkenmöddings are precisely those which the dogs eat, and those which are present are the parts which are too hard and solid to contain much nourishment. M. Steenstrup called my attention to a diagram of a bird's skeleton, tinted in such a manner as to show at a glance which of the bones occur in the Kjökkenmöddings, and pointed out to me that it coincided exactly with one given by M. Serres to illustrate those portions of the skeleton which were first formed.
Although a glance at, for instance, a femur, and a comparison of the open cancellated tissue of the two ends with the solid, close, texture of the shaft, at once justifies and accounts for the selection made by the dogs, it is interesting thus to ascertain that their predilections were the same in primæval times as at present. Moreover, we may in this manner explain the prevalence of some bones in fossil strata, I have already mentioned that of the skull, the hard parts round the eye and the lower jaw are the only parts left; now, the preponderance of lower jaws in a fossil state is well known.
In the "Proceedings of the Geological Society for 1857," p. 277, Dr. Falconer, after describing some of the fossils found by Mr. Beccles at Swanage, says:—"The curious fact that only lower jaws should have turned up among the Stonesfield mammalian remains has often been the subject of speculation or remark. The same, to a certain extent, has held good with the remains found in the Purbeck beds. . . . . . In these minute creatures, unless the bone be complete, and, supposing it to be a long bone, with both its articular surfaces perfect, it is almost hopeless, or at any rate very discouraging, to attempt to make out the creature that yielded it; whereas the smallest fragment of a jaw, with a minute tooth in it, speaks volumes of evidence at the first glance. This I believe to be one great reason why we hear so much of jaw remains, and so little of other bones." No doubt it is so, but these observations, made by Prof. Steenstrup, afford a farther explanation of the fact, and it is to be regretted that the parts of the long bones which are most important to the palæontologist are also those which are preferred by beasts of prey.
In every case, the bones which contain marrow are split open in the manner best adapted for its extraction, and this peculiarity, which has not yet been observed in bones from the true tertiary strata, is in itself satisfactory proof of the presence of man. No such indirect evidence is, however, required; not only are pieces of burnt wood, and even the stones forming the hearths, of frequent occurrence, but flint implements are far from rare. During our short visit to the Havelse Kjökkenmödding we obtained nine hatchets, of which Mr. Busk and I were so fortunate as to find three each, besides flint flakes and sling stones. These latter (Pl. VII., fig. 12) are so rude, that except for the circumstances under which they are found, there would at first sight seem to be but slight grounds for regarding them as specimens of human art. A more careful examination shows, however, that the flint has been carefully broken in such a manner as to adapt it for a sling, while the sharp edges would considerably increase its power of wounding. The flint flakes are of the ordinary type.
None of the large polished axes have yet been found in the Kjökkenmöddings. A very few carefully formed weapons have been found, but the hatchets are almost invariably rude, though of a well-marked type (Pl. VII., figs. 8 and 9): their angles are not ground down as in the more perfect weapons from the tumuli (Pl. VII., figs. 1, 2, 5), but are left rough, as in the older specimens from Amiens and Abbeville, from which, however, they differ altogether in shape. Small pieces of very coarse pottery have also been discovered.
Some of the bones from the Kjökkenmöddings bear evident marks of a sharp instrument, and several of the pieces found by us were in this condition, one in particular having been fashioned into a pin.
The absence of human remains satisfactorily proves that the primitive population of the North were free from the practice of cannibalism. On the other hand, the tumuli have supplied us with numerous skeletons of this period. The skulls are very round, and in many respects resemble those of the Laps, but have a more projecting ridge over the eye; in this respect nearly approaching the skull found by Dr. Schaffhausen, and figured by Mr. Busk in our second number. One curious peculiarity was, that their front teeth did not overlap as ours do, but met one another, as do those of the Greenlanders at the present day. This evidently indicates a peculiar manner of eating.
Much as still remains to be made out respecting the men of the Stone period, the facts already ascertained, like a few strokes by a clever draughtsman, supply us with the elements of an outline sketch. Carrying our imagination back into the past, we see before us on the low shores of the Danish Archipelago a race of small men, with heavy overhanging brows, round heads, and faces probably much like those of the present Laplanders. As they must evidently have had some protection from the weather, it is most probable that they lived in tents made of skins. The total absence of metal from the Kjökkenmöddings proves that they had not yet any weapons except those made of wood, stones, horns, and bones. Their principal food consisted of shell-fish, but they were able to catch fish, and often varied their diet by game caught in hunting. It is, perhaps, not uncharitable to conclude that, when then hunters were unusually successful, the whole community gorged itself with food, as is the case with many savage races at the present time. It is evident that marrow was considered a great delicacy, and every single bone which contained any was split open in the manner best adapted to extract the precious morsel.
The remains of the wild swan, which is only a winter visitor, and the state in which some of the deer-horns are found, prove that we have not here to do with mere summer quarters, and render it highly probable that the inhabitants resided on these spots all the year round, except, indeed, when obliged to move in search of shellfish, as is the case even now with the Fuegians, whose mode of life (Darwin's Journal, p. 234), gives us a vivid and probably correct idea of what was passing on the shores of the Danish fjords several thousand years ago.
If the absence of cereal remains justifies us, as it appears to do, in concluding that they had no knowledge of agriculture, they must certainly have sometimes suffered from periods of great scarcity, though, on the other hand, they were blessed in the ignorance of spirituous liquors, and saved thereby from what is at present the greatest scourge of Northern Europe.
While one race of men has thus exterminated another, and has in its turn been supplanted by a third, great changes in the vegetation have also taken place. At present the beech woods are the pride of the country, and are considered by the Danes to be the finest in the world. Many of the trees are of great size, and the forests are popularly supposed to have existed from time immemorial. This, however, is a mistake, as is proved by the trees found in the peatbogs. Some of these bogs, which are known in Denmark under the name of Skovmose, are small and deep depressions which have been gradually filled up by the growth of peat, and by the trunks of trees which grew on the edge and fell into the hollow. The lowest portion of the deposit consists, however, entirely of peat, and it is only in the upper part that the tree stems are found. It was at first supposed that these were blown down by the wind, but it has been observed that their heads always lie towards the centre of the moss. When this latter is of small diameter, it sometimes happens that the stems from one side cross those from the other, and the whole depression is as completely choked up with trees as if they were artificially arranged in it.
At the lower part of the deposit, immediately above the peat, the trees are all pines, (Pinus sylvestris). They attain a diameter of three feet, and their magnificent size proves how well the country was at that time adapted to their wants, while the proportion of their length to their diameter shows that they were "drawn up" by growing close to one another, though for a long while pines have ceased to grow naturally in Denmark. As we rise nearer to the surface of the peat we find them gradually replaced by oaks, while these latter are succeeded by beeches. No antiquities are found in the lowest amorphous peat, but stone weapons are found amongst the pines: an interesting fact, when coupled with the presence in the "Kjökkenmöddings" of the Tetrao urogallus, whose food consists mainly of pine buds.
Articles of bronze have not been found below the oaks: while iron occurs only among the beeches. Thus we find in Denmark three great periods of arborescent vegetation, corresponding to the three great stages of civilization: the Stone period, with the pine forests; the Bronze age with the oaks; and finally, the great beech woods, which must have been already the most striking feature of the country, even before the introduction of iron, as we know that they have continued to be ever since
It is a question whether the Kjökkenmöddings were not more ancient than the period previously known as the Stone age: and whether, therefore, this earliest age ought not to be subdivided. Certain it is that the Kjökkenmöddings have not yet yielded any of the carefully formed axes and knives, but these weapons were evidently the result of toilsome and skilful workmanship, and we should not expect to find the choicest works of art in a modern dustheap. On the other hand, the barrows of the stone period in which the more elaborate weapons are found, have not yet supplied us with the small and rude axes which occur in the Kjökkenmöddings, but the fact is that, in all probability, these would, until the last few years, have attracted no attention and been overlooked, so that it remains to be ascertained whether, now that their interest is acknowledged, they will not be found, and it is stated that some barrows recently opened have contained rude, as well as well worked, weapons. But even if they should hereafter prove to be absent, still the fact would not be conclusive, as probably only the chiefs and their families were buried in the great barrows, and in this case it might well be argued that the best weapons only would be buried with them.
Possibly it will hereafter be ascertained that while in the older tumuli of the Stone period, weapons of the best workmanship only were deposited, the later ones contain also ruder and less perfect specimens. There is indeed evidence that, even at this early period, religious institutions and customs, at first full of earnest meaning tended to degenerate into mere forms. In the earliest times the warrior was buried with his favorite weapons; gradually the inevitable tendency of ceremonies, or possibly a dim sense that axes and knives were more useful to the living than the dead, caused an alteration of the custom, and small models of the weapons were buried instead of the weapons themselves.
The same thing has been observed by M. Boucher de Perthes, in the valley of the Somme. He has discovered in the peat some burial places belonging probably to the Bronze age, and he supposes that it was customary for every one who attended the funeral, to cast some offering on the grave as a token of respect to the departed. Of these rude flints M. Boucher de Perthes possesses a great collection, and it is evident that they were never intended to be of any actual use. Mr. Franks, of the British Museum, informs me that much of the jewellery found in Etruscan tombs is so thin that it could not have been worn during life; and in Egyptian graves also models occur, instead of the weapons or implements themselves.
M. Worsäae is of opinion that there is sufficient evidence to indicate the separation of the Danish Stone age into two periods. However this may be, the remains found near Amiens and Abbeville, seem to me to justify our doing so, at least as regards France, but we did not see in Copenhagen any Danish flint weapons at all resembling the older forms from the gravels capping the hills on each side of the valley of the Somme, nor have any flint weapons of this type as yet been found in Ireland.
It is manifestly impossible to affix a date in years to the formation of the Kjökkenmöddings, which, nevertheless are, as evidently, of immense antiquity. We have seen that at the time of the Romans the country was, as now, covered by beech forests, and yet we know that during the Bronze age, beeches were absent, or only represented by a few stragglers, while the whole country was covered with oaks. This change implies a great lapse of time, even if we suppose that but a few generations of oaks succeeded one another. We know also that the oaks had been preceded by pines, and that the country was inhabited even then.
Again, the immense number of objects belonging to the Bronze age which have been found in Denmark from time to time, and the great number of burial places, appear to justify the Danish Archæologists in assigning to this period a very great lapse of time. The same arguments apply with even more strength to the remains of the Stone period, as a country the inhabitants of which live by hunting and fishing can never be thickly populated; and, on the whole, the conclusion is forced upon us, that the country must have been inhabited several thousand years before the Christian Era.
On the other hand no flint implements have yet been found in Denmark, which resemble those occurring in the drift near Amiens, Abbeville, and elsewhere. Not only, however, the great differences in the workmanship, but also the absence of any trace of the Elephant or Rhinoceros, with the human remains in Denmark, and their well attested presence in France, in the same strata with the flint implements, tend to prove the greater antiquity of the remains found near the Somme. These flint weapons have been actually found in situ by Prestwich, Flower, Gaudry, Pouchet, and others; but even without this satisfactory evidence, the genuineness of the weapons is, as M. Boucher de Perthes and Mr. Prestwich have shown, completely proved by their condition. Those which have lain in siliceous or chalky sands have a peculiar vitreous lustre very different from the comparatively dead surface generally presented by a newly broken flint. Mr. Evans, however, has shown me a flint in which the recently fractured surfaces have a gloss, certainly very much like that of the Amiens and Abbeville specimens, which therefore, though generally a good voucher for antiquity, cannot in all cases be implicitly relied on. More conclusive is the evidence when the flints have lain "in ochreous sand, by which, especially if argillaceous, they are stained yellow, whilst in ferruginous sands and clays they assume a brown colour," and in some beds they become white and porcellaneous. As will be seen, however, in Pl. VII., fig. 11, this alteration of colour is quite superficial, and follows the outline of the present surface, whereas if the weapon had been tampered with by the workmen, they would have broken through the outer coating and exposed the dark flint, as has, in fact, been done by the accidental fracture shown in the figure.
Moreover, the great antiquity of these most interesting remains is farther proved by the position of the gravel beds in which they are found. Not only are these strata covered by several feet of sand, containing unbroken though very delicate land and freshwater shells, and this again by brick earth, but they cap the hills on each side of the Somme valley, which must therefore have been excavated, in part at least, since they were deposited. The lower parts of the valley are now occupied by peat, in which are found remains referred by M. Boucher de Perthes to the Stone period, and it would seem therefore that we have here, at least, good evidence of two Stone ages, one of which would be much older than the other, and would carry back the origin of the human race to a date, at least, twice as remote as that usually assigned to it. Further, it is evident that man must have originated in a hot climate, and he could not have supported the climate of the North until he had made some steps in civilization; at least, until he had learnt to light a fire and provide himself with a dwelling place.
Intensely interesting, therefore, as are the antiquities of Northern Europe, it is, after all, in a hotter part of the world, and probably in the tropics themselves, that we must look for the true cradle of the human race.
Prof. Steenstrup has promised to send us an account of his recent progress in the investigation of the Kjökkenmöddings; and I hope also, perhaps in a future number of this Review, to compare the early history of Denmark, as indicated by the tumuli and the ancient weapons, with that of other neighbouring countries.
The length to which this article has already extended, prevents me from doing more at present than mention that flint hatchets closely resembling those from Amiens and Abbeville, were found at Hoxne in Suffolk, and described by Mr. Frere, in 1797. Some of the oval form were found in Kent-Hole, near Torquay. In the British Museum is a similar specimen which was found with the skeleton of an elephant in London many years ago, and more recently a few have been discovered near Reculvers by Mr. Leech, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Prestwich, at Biddenham in Bedfordshire by Mr. Wyatt, at Godalming in Surrey by Mr. Whitburn, and at Abbot's Langley by Mr. Evans. We may reasonably hope that the persevering researches of these gentlemen, and especially of Messrs. Evans and Prestwich, will be rewarded by similar discoveries in other places.
Description of Plate VII.
Fig. 2. Another form of stone axe with a hole for a handle, 1 Nat. size.
Fig. 3. A flint saw, 1 Nat. size.
Fig. 4. A flint sword, 1 Nat. size.
Fig. 5. A flint chisel, 1 Nat. size.
Fig. 6. One of the "cores" from which the flint flakes are splintered, 1 Nat. size.
Fig. 7. One of the flakes, 1 Nat. size.
Figs 8-9. Rude axes from the Kjokkenmodding at Havelse, 1 Nat. size.
Fig. 10. Flint axe from drift at Moulin Quignon near Abbeville, 1 Nat. size.
Fig. 11. Flint axe from Abbeville, showing that the part stained white is parallel to the present surfaces, and that the weathering has taken place since the flint was worked into its present shape, 1 Nat. size.Fig. 12. Sling-stone from the Kjokkenmodding at Havelse, 1 Nat. size.
- Mr. Wilde however suggests that these swords may have heen used rather as daggers, and have been held by only three fingers. (Catalogue of Antiquities, p. 455.)
- Wilde's Catalogue, p. 393.
- Worsäae's Primeval Antiquities, p. 93.
- Untersögelser i geologisk-antiquarisk Retning af G. Forchhammer, J. Steenstrup, og J. Worsaae.
- Etudes Géologico-Archéologiques en Danemark et en Suisse. Mèm. de la Société Vaudoise, T. vi. 1860.
- Troyon, Habitations Lacustres, pp. 43 and 427.
- It is a curious fact that as Professor Steenstrup informs me, the bones from the Kjökkenmöddings of Jutland indicate as a general rule larger and more powerful animals than those of the Islands.
- Some remarks on this subject by Mr. Busk will appear in our next number. [Eds.]