Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/558

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ten years ago, when I was a young girl, I was staying in the house of a friend who also knew Mr. N., who is now my husband. We were having a game—a romp—and running after each other through the house, which was large, with long galleries and chambers communicating with one another. Mr. N. was close behind me, trying to catch me. I darted through a door and threw the door back behind me. Mr. N. had his head down, and the handle struck his skull and he fell stunned. The skull was fractured, and to save his life he was obliged to have it trepanned. Now he wears a plate of silver over the hole, and I wear the portion cut out of his skull in this brooch. The accident—I suppose my distress and remorse—brought about a rapprochement; we became engaged, and are now man and wife."

So the custom of wearing cranial disks need not be regarded as completely done away with, even in our days.

Various explanations have been offered to account for the trepanning of the skulls of the neolithic men; but perhaps, before considering them, it will be as well to notice another series of phenomena, and that connected with the sepulchres of the same people, as it belongs apparently to the same category. This is the perforation of the tombs themselves. It has been observed repeatedly that among the dolmens, covered avenues, and kistvaens of this race there is very generally one stone that has been trepanned—had a hole cut through it; not only so, but that in their circles of stones one gap has been almost invariably left so as to make the circle incomplete. Trevethy Quoit, in Cornwall, has a rectangular hole cut through the cap-stone. La Maison des Fées, at Grammont, in Hérault, has the stone at the head perforated. At Conflans was one of these monuments with not only a round hole in the closing stone at the foot, but also the plug wherewith the hole could at will be closed. It has been moved to the Musée St.-Germain. In the Crimea and in the Caucasus, where the same kind of monuments is found, the hole in one side, laboriously bored through one slab, is a constant feature.

We may, and probably ought to, connect the holed stones in tombs with the holes in the skulls. And the most probable explanation of both is that they were intended as openings whereby the spirits might escape, and trepanning was employed on those who suffered from epilepsy, which was regarded as possession by an evil spirit. Broca says: "The art of trepanning was applied to certain spontaneous maladies, and followed the opinion formed of affections of the head in nervous disorders, as idiocy, convulsions, insanity, epilepsy. Maladies which science regards as natural struck the imagination of the ignorant, and they attributed them to divine causes, to demons, to possession. Who can say that trepanning, now a practice almost abandoned, was not em-