Early Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 175 pages of information about Early Britain.

Now, according to the evidence of the early historians, as interpreted by Mr. Freeman and other authors (whose arguments we shall presently examine), the English settlers in the greater part of South Britain almost entirely exterminated the Celtic population.  But if this be so, how comes it that at the present day a large proportion of our people, even in the east, belong to the dark and long-skulled type?  The fact is that upon this subject the historians are largely at variance with the anthropologists; and as the historical evidence is weak and inferential, while the anthropological evidence is strong and direct, there can be very little doubt which we ought to accept.  Professor Huxley [Essay “On some Fixed Points in British Ethnography,”] has shown that the melanochroic or dark type of Englishmen is identical in the shape of the skull, the anatomical peculiarities, and the colour of skin, hair, and eyes with that of the continent, which is undeniably Celtic in the wider sense—­that is to say, belonging to the primitive non-Teutonic race, which spoke a Celtic language, and was composed of mixed Celtic, Iberian, and Ligurian elements.  Professor Phillips points out that in Yorkshire, and especially in the plain of York, an essentially dark, short, non-Teutonic type is common; while persons of the same characteristics abound among the supposed pure Anglians of Lincolnshire.  They are found in great numbers in East Anglia, and they are not rare even in Kent.  In Sussex and Essex they occur less frequently, and they are also comparatively scarce in the Lothians.  Dr. Beddoe, Dr. Thurnam, and other anthropologists have collected much evidence to the same effect.  Hence we may conclude with great probability that large numbers of the descendants of the dark Britons still survive even on the Teutonic coast.  As to the descendants of the light Britons, we cannot, of course, separate them from those of the like-complexioned English invaders.  But in truth, even in the east itself, save only perhaps in Sussex and Essex, the dark and fair types have long since so largely coalesced by marriage that there are probably few or no real Teutons or real Celts individually distinguishable at all.  Absolutely fair people, of the Scandinavian or true German sort, with very light hair and very pale blue eyes, are almost unknown among us; and when they do occur, they occur side by side with relations of every other shade.  As a rule, our people vary infinitely in complexion and anatomical type, from the quite squat, long-headed, swarthy peasants whom we sometimes meet with in rural Yorkshire, to the tall, flaxen-haired, red-cheeked men whom we occasionally find not only in Danish Derbyshire, but even in mainly Celtic Wales and Cornwall.  As to the west, Professor Huxley declares, on purely anthropological grounds, that it is probably, on the whole, more deeply Celtic than Ireland itself.

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Early Britain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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