Early Britain—Roman Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 195 pages of information about Early BritainRoman Britain.
boat to pieces.  This method of ship-building was common all along the northern coast of Europe for ages.[20] Nor were these coracles only used for coasting.  As time went on, the Britons boldly struck straight across from Cornwall to the Continent, and both the Seine and the Loire became inlets for tin into Gaul, thus lessening the long land journey—­not less than thirty days—­which was required, as Polybius tells us, to convey it from the Straits of Dover to the Rhone. (This journey, it may be noted, was made not in wagons, as through Britain, but on pack-horses.)

D. 5.—­Thus it reached Marseilles; and that the trade was founded by the Massiliot Pytheas is borne testimony to by the early British coins, which are all modelled on the classical currency of his age.  The medium in universal circulation then, current everywhere, like the English sovereign now, was the Macedonian stater, newly introduced by Philip, a gold coin weighing 133 grains, bearing on the one side the laureated head of Apollo, on the other a figure of Victory in a chariot.  Of this all known Gallic and British coins (before the Roman era) are more or less accurate copies.  The earliest as yet found in Britain do not date, according to Sir John Evans, our great authority on this subject,[21] from before the 2nd century B.C.  They are all dished coins, rudely struck, and rapidly growing ruder as time goes on.  The head early becomes a mere congeries of dots and lines, but one horse of the chariot team remains recognizable to quite the end of the series.

D. 6.—­These coins have been found in very large numbers, and of various types, according to the locality in which they were struck.  They occur as far north as Edinburgh; but all seem to have been issued by one or other of the tribes in the south and east of the island, who learnt the idea of minting from the Gauls.  Whence the gold of which the coins are made came from is a question not yet wholly solved:  surface gold was very probably still obtainable at that date from the streams of Wales and Cornwall.  But it was long before any other metal was used in the British mints.  Not till after the invasion of Julius Caesar do we find any coins of silver or bronze issued, though he testifies to their existence.  The use of silver shows a marked advance in metallurgy, and is probably connected with the simultaneous development of the lead-mining in the Mendip Hills, of which about this time we first begin to find traces.

SECTION E.

Pytheas trustworthy—­His notes on Britain—­Agricultural tribes—­Barns—­Manures—­Dene Holes—­Mead—­Beer—­Parched corn—­Pottery—­Mill-stones—­Villages—­Cattle—­Pastoral tribes—­Savage tribes—­Cannibalism—­Polyandry—­Beasts of chase—­Forest trees—­British clothing and arms—­Sussex iron.

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Early Britain—Roman Britain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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