Vanishing England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 311 pages of information about Vanishing England.

Contrast these old houses with the modern suburban abominations, “those thin tottering foundationless shells of splintered wood and imitated stone,” “those gloomy rows of formalised minuteness, alike without difference and without fellowship, as solitary as similar,” as Ruskin calls them.  These modern erections have no more relation to their surroundings than would a Pullman-car or a newly painted piece of machinery.  Age cannot improve the appearance of such things.  But age only mellows and improves our ancient houses.  Solidly built of good materials, the golden stain of time only adds to their beauties.  The vines have clothed their walls and the green lawns about them have grown smoother and thicker, and the passing of the centuries has served but to tone them down and bring them into closer harmony with nature.  With their garden walls and hedges they almost seem to have grown in their places as did the great trees that stand near by.  They have nothing of the uneasy look of the parvenu about them.  They have an air of dignified repose; the spirit of ancient peace seems to rest upon them and their beautiful surroundings.

[Illustration:  Sun-dial.  The Manor House, Sutton Courtenay]

CHAPTER VIII

THE DESTRUCTION OF PREHISTORIC REMAINS

We still find in various parts of the country traces of the prehistoric races who inhabited our island and left their footprints behind them, which startle us as much as ever the print of Friday’s feet did the indomitable Robinson Crusoe.  During the last fifty years we have been collecting the weapons and implements of early man, and have learnt that the history of Britain did not begin with the year B.C. 55, when Julius Caesar attempted his first conquest of our island.  Our historical horizon has been pushed back very considerably, and every year adds new knowledge concerning the Palaeolithic and Neolithic races, and the first users of bronze and iron tools and weapons.  We have learnt to prize what they have left, to recognize the immense archaeological value of these remains, and of their inestimable prehistoric interest.  It is therefore very deplorable to discover that so much has been destroyed, obliterated, and forgotten.

We have still some left.  Examples are still to be seen of megalithic structures, barrows, cromlechs, camps, earthen or walled castles, hut-circles, and other remains of the prehistoric inhabitants of these islands.  We have many monoliths, called in Wales and Cornwall, as also in Brittany, menhirs, a name derived from the Celtic word maen or men, signifying a stone, and hir meaning tall.  They are also called logan stones and “hoar” stones, hoar meaning a boundary, inasmuch as they were frequently used in later times to mark the boundary of an estate, parish, or manor.  A vast number have been torn down and used as gateposts or for building purposes, and a recent observer in the

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Vanishing England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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