« PreviousContinue »
sea about 9.5 miles to the north of Rhyl, and the Menai Straits were occupied by streams, flowing in their several valleys from the divide near Carnarvon to the north-east and south-west, the one cutting the shore line about four miles to the north of Llandudno, and the other debouching into Carnarvon Bay, about five miles from the existing coast west of Llandwrog. Carnarvon Bay was then land, as far west as a line sweeping southwards from Rhoscolyn in Anglesey to the headland of the Lleyn Peninsula. The Bay of Cardigan was occupied by a plain above which rose the craggy ridge of Sarn Badrig, as far as a line drawn to the south-east from St. Tudwall's Islands, to a point about four miles west of Aberystwyth. In the Bristol Channel the Severn passed into the estuary to the south of Barry Island, and flowed through a dense forest of yews, oaks, birches, and alders, that occupied the whole of the submerged area, stretching from Cardiff to the south as far as Porlock, the mouth of the Parrett, and the marshes of Bridgwater, Weston-superMare, and Clevedon.
We seek in vain for the record of the time when these Neolithic forest-clad lowlands were depressed beneath the waters of the sea. The submergence probably went on through the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, and ended before the Roman Conquest, when the Menai Straits presented exactly the same diffi
1 Distance of Neolithic from Present Coast-Line.
culties to the invaders of Anglesey as they present now. Anglesey was then an island, and was conquered by Agricola in A.D. 78, by an unexpected attack delivered at low water across the shallows by the auxiliaries.1
1 Tacitus, Agricola XVIII, Church and Brodribb Minor Works of Tacitus. "With some picked men of the auxiliaries, dis
encumbered of all baggage, who knew the shallows and had that national experience in swimming which enables the Britons to take care not only of themselves, but of their arms and horses, he (Agricola) delivered so unexpected an attack that the astonished enemy who were looking for a fleet, a naval armament, and an assault by sea, thought that to such assailants nothing could be formidable or invincible."
I am unable to agree with the conclusions of Mr. A. Ashton, in The Battle of the Land and Sea, chapters xviii, xix, xx, xxi, xxii, as to the submergence having taken place since the Roman Conquest.
III. THE INCOMING OF THE SMALL IBERIC RACE IN THE NEOLITHIC AGE.
It was under conditions such as these that the earliest ancestors of the Welsh people made their way into Britain from the Continent, and ranged over the whole
of the area of the British Isles. They may conveniently be studied for our purposes, from the discoveries made in the group of caves, clustering round a refuse heap at Perthi Chwareu (Fig. 2), a farm high up on the hills near Llandegla, in Denbighshire. In both refuse heap and caves there were remains of the same
wild and domestic animals, stag, roe-deer, and hare, along with the dog, pig, domestic horse, short-horned ox, and goat. The domestic animals largely predominated, proving that the community was pastoral rather than living by the chase. We may also note among the wild animals, found in the refuse on the floor of the caves, the bear and the wild boar. On the floor, in each of these caves, were numerous human skeletons of all ages, belonging to bodies that had been buried in a contracted posture, and at different times,
Fig. 4. Neolithic Skull (Lent by Messrs. Macmillan)
in association with a Neolithic axe (Fig. 3), splinters of flint, and fragments of coarse, unornamented, handmade pottery. The settlement is therefore of Neolithic Age. The caves had originally been used for habitation and afterwards for burial, and the remains of the refuseheap, that first drew attention to the spot, mark the site of the huts forming the settlement.
The human skulls are all of the long-oval type (Fig. 4), and the community clearly belongs to the same race.1
1 For details see Dawkins, Cave-Hunting, p. 149, etc.
This discovery led to the exploration of the burial places belonging to another Neolithic settlement, in the Valley of the Elwy, at Tyddyn Bleiddyn, near Plas yn Cefn, St. Asaph, in 1869-71.1 Here, in
Section along line AB
Fig. 5.-Chambered Tomb, Cefn, St. Asaph
a large cairn composed of limestone fragments, the dead lay buried in two chambers, made of slabs set on edge, and roofed with horizontal slabs, each being approached by a narrow passage or gallery formed in the same way, and each being packed with skeletons
1 Dawkins, Cave-Hunting, p. 161.