Alpine race in the British Isles therefore is merely another illustration of its essentially continental character.
Before we proceed to consider the other physical traits of the living population, we must draw in a background by a hasty summary of the facts which the science of archæology has to offer concerning the prehistoric human types in the islands. In the first place, it is certain that the earliest inhabitants were decidedly long-headed, even more so than any Europeans of to-day; far more so than the present British. The evidence concerning this most primitive stratum is carefully presented by Boyd Dawkins in his Early Man in Britain. These men, whose remains have been unearthed in caves and whose implements have been discovered in the river drift of the late glacial epoch, were decidedly dolichocephalic. Both in the stage of culture attained and in head form they were so like the Eskimo of North America that Nilsson more than a half century ago suggested a common derivation for both. Boyd Dawkins lends his support to the same hypothesis, assuming that as the ice sheet withdrew to the north, these primitive folk followed it, just as we know to a certainty that the mammoth, mastodon, and other species of animals have done. A former connection of Europe with Greenland would have made this migration an easy matter. Whether this interesting supposition be true or not, we know that the earliest type of man in Britain was as long-headed as either the African negro or the Eskimo—that is to say, presenting a more extreme type in this respect than any living European people to-day.
The second population to be distinguished in these islands was characterized by a considerably higher culture; but it was quite similar, although somewhat less extreme in physical type than the preceding one, so far as we can judge by the head form. This epoch, from the peculiarities of its mode of interment, is known as the long-barrow period. The human remains are found, often in considerable numbers, generally in more or less rudely constructed stone chambers, covered with earth. These mounds, egg-shaped in plan, often several hundred feet long, are quite uniform in type. The bodies are found at the broader and higher end of the tumulus, which is more often toward the east, possibly a matter of religion, the entrance being upon this same end. These people were still in the pure stone age of culture; neither pottery nor metals seem to
- The best authorities upon this and the succeeding type are Canon Greenwell's British Barrows, with its anthropological notes by Dr. Rolleston, at pages 627–718; the Crania Britannica above mentioned, but more especially the essays by Dr. Thurnam in Memoirs of the Anthropological Society of London, vol. i, pp. 120–168, 458–519; and vol. iii, pp. 41–75. Consult also Rolleston in Journal of the Anthropological Institute, London, vol. v, pp. 120–172.