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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/27

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19
Annual Address by the President.

Records of Middlesex—the county we are now meeting in—there is abundant evidence of the unadulterated behefs of the people in the power of magical arts to do I don't know what, and this is what we want got ready for us in order that we may know who and what the people are and were whose folk-lore we are putting under the microscope—who, for instance, were the Cangick giants, a people who by tradition are said to have inhabited a certain district of Somersetshire, and of whom some measurements have been taken which would not, I am afraid, satisfy the scientific requirements of modern craniologists—the top of the skull of one of this giant race was said to have been i inch thick, and one of his teeth was 3 inches long above the roots, 3¼ inches round, and weighed 3½ ounces. But these measurements are the work of a zealous antiquary of two centuries ago: the tradition is much older and far more correct.

And again, turning to something more than tradition—to tradition and physical type commingled—there is the district of Barvas in Lewis, which by the Lewis people themselves is considered to be inhabited by a race distinct from those in the rest of the island—that is, they are dark, short, square, ugly, large-bellied, and with much cunning under a foolish exterior; they are said to be more backward than the rest, so that the "west side", which does not include Uig, is proverbially connected with dirt and slovenliness. In this part of Lewis alone remains the custom of leaving a hole in the thickness of the wall for a dormitory; it is plugged, of course, about three feet broad and one-and-a-half foot high, and long or deep enough for a man to lie in. Into this strange hole the person who would sleep gets in "feet foremost", sometimes by the help of a rope from above his head lying to the mouth of the hole, the hole or dormitory being four or five feet from the floor. I cannot but presume that this custom has a very remote origin, enabling us to form an idea of one of the domestic arrangements of the most ancient stone dwellings