infinite remoteness. But it is at any rate noteworthy that the same designs, patterns and even games are found in ancient Mexico and in India or China; and whether these resemblances arise from relations between the peoples using them or from accident, is a problem well worth investigation.
In countries like Scandinavia or Switzerland, the story of the early ages is clear and comparatively free from complications. The one by its remoteness was left to develop with but little help from the rest of Europe up to historical times; the other, protected on so many sides by its mountain ranges, seems to have enjoyed a peaceful existence during the Stone and Bronze Ages. A community of fishermen and agriculturists, they led a calm domestic life on the edges of their many lakes where they constructed dwellings on piles with only a gangway to the shore, to prevent the attacks of predatory animals. The practice of building houses in lakes was a common one not only in Switzerland, but also in Britain and in Ireland, as in modern times among the natives of New Guinea. Besides securing the safety of the inhabitants, it had the not unimportant advantage of being more healthy; all refuse of food and other useless matter could at once be thrown into the water where it would be harmless. A similar form of dwelling is the Irish “crannog,” constructed on an island or shoal in a lake, in some cases artificially heightened so as to bring it above water. These crannogs were probably inhabited in Ireland up to comparatively recent times, if one may judge by the remains found on the sites.
It must not be forgotten that although the neolithic period had many phases, yet its duration is in no way comparable to the incalculable length of the palaeolithic age. For a variety of reasons it is thought that one of the earliest stages of neolithic times is represented by the now well-known kitchen-middens (refuse-heaps) of Denmark. These heaps are often of great size, sometimes reaching 10 ft. in height, and nearly 350 yds. in length. Here along the coast line the natives of Denmark lived, apparently building their huts upon the mounds and cooking their food upon hearths of stone. The conditions of their daily life would seem to have resembled those of the natives of Tierra del Fuego. Their implements of flint seem to have been chipped only, and it is conjectured that the few polished and more highly finished implements that have been found in the middens are importations from more cultured tribes living inland. Their food was in very great part composed of shell-fish, though they evidently caught and ate various kinds of deer, boar and a variety of carnivorous animals. The race which made these mounds is believed to have been akin to the Lapps, and their dwellings can hardly have been anything more than the rudest protection from the weather. The Swiss lake-dwellers were far more advanced, even in the Stone Age; their dwellings were elaborately planned and constructed, and remains of them have been plentifully found in the various Swiss lakes. Various forms of construction were adopted: in one the foundations consisted of poles driven into the bed of the lake; in others a kind of framework simply rested on the bottom, and in a third, the substructure was formed of layers of sticks reaching from the bottom of the lake up to the surface. The walls were of wattle, closed up with clay to keep out the weather; the hearths were of stone slabs, and the floors of clay well trodden down. Practically the same type of dwelling seems to have continued through the Stone and Bronze Ages, though on some sites no metal whatever is found and it is therefore assumed that these are of the earlier period. These people cultivated the land, growing wheat and barley; they were also hunters and fishermen, capable of manufacturing pottery without the aid of the wheel, which had not yet come into use so far north; and they wove mats and garments, while ropes and netting are plentiful. Their tools and weapons were made of stone, and to a great extent of deer’s horn. Human remains are hardly ever found on the sites of the lake-dwellings, and it is therefore uncertain what were the social affinities of the people; but the evidence of the sites is in favour of the same race being continuous into the Bronze Age, when their condition was more comfortable, as is shown by the abundant remains of domesticated animals.
Among the most notable and obvious relics of pre-historic times, both in Britain and in many other countries such as Spain, Portugal, France and even India, are gigantic circles and avenues of stone and dolmens (see Stone Monuments). These enduring monuments have excited Stone Age relics. the wonder of countless generations, and lent themselves to superstitious practices down to modern times. But the precise purpose for which they were erected and even the period to which they belonged, had never been definitely settled. They had been called burial places of great chiefs, and not unnaturally had been thought by others to have been temples or places of primitive worship used by the Druids, who moreover were often credited with their erection. Obviously such a question called for settlement, and the British Association in the year 1898 appointed a committee to investigate these stone circles with a view to ascertaining their age. Operations were begun at the well-known circle of Arbor Low, south of Buxton in Derbyshire; careful excavations were made through the ditch and the encircling mound and also within the circle, and although the evidence was not of the most complete kind, yet the committee came to the conclusion that the circle belonged to the end of the neolithic age. At Arbor Low all the stones are now lying on the ground (although, to judge from the other circles in England, they were certainly once upright), and the opportunities for surveying were thereby much diminished. It is a fortunate circumstance, therefore, that the fall of one of the stones at Stonehenge (q.v.) at the end of the 19th century, and the increasingly perilous state of some of the others, caused the owner, with the advice of the Society of Antiquaries of London, to undertake the raising of the great leaning stone in the interior of the circle. The work was superintended by W. Gowland, F.S.A., who made special investigations during the necessary digging, for the purpose of recovering any remains of man’s handiwork that had been left by the builders of the monument. In this he was very successful, finding in the course of the very limited excavation at the base of the monolith, a great number of stone mauls or hammers that corresponded so nearly with the bruised surfaces of the monoliths, that there can be no doubt of their having been used to dress the standing stones.
From a review of all the evidence of an archaeological nature that was to be obtained, Gowland came to the conclusion that the construction of Stonehenge belonged to the latter part of the neolithic age. No trace of a metal implement occurred in any of the debris. This would of itself be an interesting fact, but it became infinitely more interesting from researches in quite another direction, which brought corroborative evidence of a curious kind. For many years Sir Norman Lockyer and Prof. Penrose were engaged in examining the orientation of temples in Egypt and Greece, with a view to determining on what astronomical principle, if any, the plans had been laid down. With a rectangular plan, and with portions of the interior still well defined, they were able by elaborate calculation to determine that the temples had been definitely planned with relation to the rising or setting of the sun or of a particular star. Having been successful in these investigations they proceeded to apply the test to Stonehenge. The experiment was made on the longest day in the year 1901. Owing to a gradual change in the obliquity of the earth’s orbit, the point of sunrise on corresponding days of each year is not constant; and though the difference is hardly perceptible from year to year, in the course of centuries it becomes great enough for use as a measure of time. Enough remains of the monument to show the direction of sunrise at the time that Stonehenge was erected, it being always assumed that the coincidence of the main axis with the central line of the Avenue was designed with reference to sunrise on the longest day of the year. At the date of the experiment it was found that the sun had shifted nearly two diameters in the interval, and this variation gives a date of about 1680 B.C., which practically confirms the verdict of archaeology and seems to prove, moreover, that Stonehenge was a temple of the sun.
Stonehenge therefore may be taken as marking for Britain the close of the neolithic period and heralding the dawn of a new