« PreviousContinue »
and store-houses against the winter. Clothes-partly woven of wool-were improved. More implements of greater variety were fashioned with a skill and taste as yet unknown. Large graves of stone were erected; and in them were laid the implements ornaments and weapons needed by the dead, as was most naturally supposed, in the other world.
The very appearance of these stone graves is remarkable. In structure they are peculiar, and on comparison evidently uniform. They can be traced to north Africa and far into Asia, nay, now even to Japan and North America. It is highly probable therefore that the distinct progress of culture in south and west Europe during the Later Stone-Age, as indicated by the appearance of pile-dwellings and other remains, was due to foreign influences, or more directly to a steadily increasing immigration of peoples. Possibly they were of various origin. But in any case they brought with them a culture common in the main to all; and advanced from the older culture lands-again chiefly from Asia. Races so savage as the earliest inhabitants of south and west Europe must have been, are not wont to develop themselves to any great extent without foreign influence or strong blendings of peoples beforehand. Nay, in general they are quite incapable of receiving a higher civilisation. Gradually therefore a growing population overspread the south and west of Europe. More and more the ancient forests were cleared to form pasturage for cattle and open fields for tillage. With the spread of agriculture the hunting grounds must have shrunk back. The older races, living only on hunting and fishing, and unable or unwilling to adapt themselves
to the new conditions of culture, would inevitably be pushed northwards. Here at least, though in sterner regions, they might still for a long time pursue their ancient manner of life without hindrance and aided only by the simple implements and weapons, all the patterns of which they had brought with them from their early homes in western Europe.
THE EARLY STONE-AGE IN THE NORTH.
IN the south the Later Stone-Age had now reached its fullest development. Already the commencement of its slow decline had set in on the east coasts of the Mediterranean nearest to Egypt and Asia. About this time the lands on the Baltic appear to have received their first savage inhabitants, ousted by the pressure of more favoured races. How late their arrival may be seen from the fact that they had not only learned to produce fire with flint, but brought with them an art unknown to the oldest and rudest peoples-that of burning earthen vessels, in which they were better able to boil and bake their food. Many circumstances serve to prove that the lands of the North were then the same in form as now. The North Sea had long rolled its mighty billows between England and Denmark, joined in bygone ages. The Baltic also, bursting through and forming belts and sounds, had severed the great Scandinavian peninsula the Danish islands and the peninsula of Jutland from one another.
Coming from the west and south-west, from the coastlands of the Atlantic and North Sea, the roaming and scattered hunters and fishers must first have lit upon the peninsula of Jutland. Before them lay a laud
almost wholly covered down to the coasts with thick woods. Only here and there, especially on the higher ridges, were the forests broken by heaths, and on the west coast by meadows and marshes. To the west the stormy North Sea broke on shoals (sandrevler) and dunes of sand, and but few fjords were to be found. Here there was less prospect of support for the new settlers than to the east, where the calmer Baltic and Cattegat were everywhere embayed in Sounds and fjords between woody isles. The primeval forests in part at least still consisted of pines, which afterwards vanished before the oak beech and leafy woods in general. They swarmed with wandering herds of reindeer; while elks Ur-oxen (bos urus) bisons bears wolves lynxes wild boars red deer beavers and other game were plentiful. Nor were they less rich in woodcocks swans great auks and countless other land and sea birds. Whales were occasionally to be seen swimming in the sea. Seals and shoals of fish abounded. Close under the shores, particularly in the Cattegat, as well as in the North Sea to some extent, was a profusion of oysters mussels cockles and other edible shell-fish. Both on the more open seaboard and scattered around in the land lay masses of stone, particularly of the flint peculiar to the soil of Denmark, yielding ample material for the manufacture of the implements and weapons most needful to hunters and fishermen. In spite of the higher northern latitude the climate was not exceptionally severe, owing to the neighbourhood of the sea the general insular character of the land and the woods, which gave shelter from the wind.
To lowlands so easily accessible so well provided by
nature and offering such unusually favourable conditions for hunting and fishing the first inhabitants must have come rather to spy out than settle. Others soon followed. The peninsula of Jutland would appear also in these respects to have exercised an earlier and stronger attraction than the south coasts of the Baltic. These, if we except the island of Rügen, strongly distinguished by its remarkable chalk formations and visible from several points of Denmark, have as yet at all events shown but faint traces of a corresponding primitive population. In Jutland on the contrary numerous memorials and scattered discoveries of antiquities testify that the first immigrants spread chiefly on the east along the coasts and fjords as far as the northmost part of the Liim-fjord. Where they could, they would prefer to occupy islets off the coast. Not only were they here freer from the unwholesome exhalations of woods and marshes, but safer against sudden attacks of racial enemies or wild beasts. Here they could conveniently fish in the sea and hunt in the adjacent woods on the coast. If for the sake of the chase they wished to push further inland in their simple canoes and boats hollowed out of trunks, they could always follow the river courses, which as a rule were more extensive then than now.
Only however on those points of the coast of Jutland near which rich oyster-beds were to be found does it appear to have been possible for more numerous races to live and support themselves regularly for any considerable time or for the whole year round. Remains of such a life may be recognised in the huge heaps of refuse from their meals, the "Kitchen-middens"