small race inhabited the Iberian peninsula, extending through France, as far north as Britain, and to the north-west as far as Ireland—a race considered by Professor Busk “to be at the present day represented by at any rate a part of the population now inhabiting the Basque provinces.” This identification of the ancient Neolithic cave-dwellers with the modern Basque-speaking inhabitant of the western Pyrenees is corroborated by the elaborate researches of Broca, Virchow and Thurnam on modern Basque skulls. It may, therefore, be concluded that in the Neolithic Age an Iberian population occupied the whole of the area mentioned above, inhabiting caves and burying their dead in caves and chambered tombs, and possessed of the same habits of life. The remains of the same small, oval-featured, long-headed race have been found in Belgium in the cave of Chauvaux, and they have been described by Sergi in southern Europe under the name of the Mediterranean race.
There is no evidence that any other race except the Iberic buried their dead in the caves of Britain in the Neolithic Age. In Belgium, however, the exploration of the cave of Sclaigneaux by Soreil proves that broad-headed men of the type defined by Huxley and Thurnam as brachycephalic, and characterized by high cheek-bones, projecting muscles and large stature, the average height being 5 ft. 8.4 in. (Thurnam), inhabited and buried their dead in the caves of that region. In France they occur in the sepulchral cave of Orrouy (Oise) in association with those of the Iberic type. They have also been met with in Gibraltar. This type is undistinguishable from the Celtic (Goidelic) or Gaulish, found so abundantly in the chambered tombs of the Neolithic Age in France. Both these ancient races are represented at the present day by the Basques and Aquitanians of France and Spain, and by the Celts or Gauls of France, Britain and the Mediterranean border of Spain, their relative antiquity being proved by an appeal to their history and geographical distribution. For just as the earliest records show that the Iberic power extended as far north as the Loire, and as far east as the Rhone, so we have proof of the gradual retrocession of the Iberic frontier southwards, under the attacks of the successive Celtic hordes, until ultimately we find the latter in possession of a considerable part of southern Spain, forming by their union with the conquered the powerful nation of Celt-Iberi. The Iberians were in possession of the continent before they were dispossessed by the Goidels, and at a later time by the Brythons. They are recognized by Tacitus in Britain in the Silures of Wales; and they are still to be seen in the small, dark, lithe inhabitants of North Wales. The discovery of the characteristic skulls of both these races in the same family vault in the cave of Gop near Prestatyn, Flintshire, proves that the two races were mingled together in Britain as far back as the Bronze Age.
From the present distribution of this non-Aryan race it is obvious that they were gradually pushed back westward by the advance of tribes coming from the East, and following those routes which were subsequently taken by the Low and High Germans.
The exploration of the Grotta dei Colombi, in the island of Palmaria, overlooking the Gulf of Spezzia, in 1873, proves that the stories scattered through the classical writers, that the caves on the Mediterranean shores were inhabited by cannibals, are not altogether without foundation. In it broken and cut bones of children and young adults were found along with those of the goat, hog, fox, wolf, wild-cat, flint flakes, bone implements and shells perforated for suspension.
Prehistoric Caves of Bronze and Iron Ages.—The extreme rarity of articles of bronze in the European caves implies that they were rarely used by the Bronze folk for habitation or burial. Bronze weapons mingled with gold ornaments have, however, been discovered in the Heatheryburn cave near Stanhope, Durham, as well as in those of Kirkhead in Cartmell, in Thor’s cave in Staffordshire, and the Cat Hole in Gower in Glamorganshire. In the Iberian peninsula the cave of Cesareda, explored by Signor Delgado, in the valley of the Tagus, contained bronze articles, associated with broken and cut human bones, as well as those of domestic animals, rendering it probable that cannibalism was practised in early times in that region. Busk believes, however, that the facts are insufficient to support the charge of cannibalism against the ancient Portuguese.
Caves containing articles of iron, and therefore belonging to that division of the prehistoric age, are so unimportant that they do not deserve notice in this place. As man increased in civilization he preferred to live in houses of his own building, and he no longer buried his dead in the natural sepulchres provided for him in the rock.
Prehistoric caves have been rarely explored in extra-European areas. Among those which abound in Palestine, one in Mount Lebanon, examined by Canon Tristram, contained flint implements along with charcoal and broken bones and teeth, some of which may be referred to a small ox, undistinguishable from the small short-horn, Bos longifrons. In North America the remains found by F. W. Putnam in the caves of Kentucky, consisting of moccasins, rudely-plaited cloth, and other articles, may be referred to the same division.
Historic Caves in Britain.—The historic caves have only attracted notice in fairly recent years, and in Britain alone, principally through the labours of the Settle Cave Committee from the year 1869 to the present day. To them is due the exploration of the Victoria cave, which had been discovered and partially investigated as early as the year 1838. It consists of three large ill-defined chambers opening on the face of the cliff, 1450 ft. above the sea, and filled with debris very nearly up to the roof. It presented three distinct eras of occupation—one by hyenas, which dragged into it rhinoceroses, bisons, mammoths, horses, reindeer and bears. This was defined from the next occupation, which is probably of the Neolithic Age, by a layer of grey clay, on the surface of which rested a bone harpoon and a few flint flakes and bones. Then after an interval of débris at the entrance was a layer of charcoal, broken bones, fragments of old hearths, and numerous instruments of savage life associated with broken pottery, Roman coins, and the rude British imitations of them, various articles of iron, and elaborate personal ornaments, which implied a considerable development of the arts. The evidence of the coins stamps the date of the occupation of the cave to be between the first half of the 5th century and the English conquest. Some of the brooches present a peculiar flamboyant and spiral pattern in relief, of the same character as the art of some of the illuminated manuscripts, as for example one of the Anglo-Saxon gospels at Stockholm, and of the gospels of St Columban in Trinity College, Dublin. It is mostly allied to that work which is termed by Franks late Celtic. From its localization in Britain and Ireland, it seems to be probable that it is of Celtic derivation; and if this view be accepted, there is nothing at all extraordinary in its being recognized in the illuminated Irish gospels. Ireland, in the 6th and 7th centuries, was the great centre of art, civilization and literature; and it is only reasonable to suppose that there would be intercourse between the Irish Christians and those of the west of Britain, during the time that the Romano-Celts, or Brit-Welsh, were being slowly pushed westwards by the heathen English invader. Proof of such an intercourse we find in the brief notice of the Annales Cambriae, in which Gildas, the Brit-Welsh historian, is stated to have sailed over to Ireland in the year A.D. 565. It is by no means improbable that about this time there was a Brit-Welsh migration into Ireland, as well as into Brittany. Objects with these designs found in Germany are probably directly or indirectly due to the Irish missionaries, who spread Christianity through those regions. The early Christian art in Ireland grew out of the late Celtic, and is to a great extent free from the influence of Rome, which is stamped on the Brit-Welsh art of the same age in this country.
Several other ornaments with enamel deserve especial notice. The enamel, composed of red, blue and yellow, has been inserted into the hollows in the bronze, and then heated so as to form a close union with it. They are of the same design as those which have been met with in late Roman tumuli in this country, and in places which are mainly in the north. They all belong to a class named late Celtic by Franks, and are considered by him to be of British manufacture. This view is supported by the only