Page images
PDF
EPUB

thing which could be saved from total de- used for a hearth, a heap of corn and a struction by being packed in the peat mealing-stone to grind it on, a store of which was slowly growing and enclosing it flax with bits of made cloth, and the clayduring the whole history of the place. weights which were all that remained of the The unhewn trunks or hewn boards of the simple loom. To map out the settlement platform fell in if they were not burnt, and in this way is, of course, a task requirlie there still, showing how they were made ing endless care and patience; but Robenfast above to the tops of the piles with bausen has been very fortunate in its prowooden pins. From each hut rubbish and prietor and explorer. For the last ten lost articles were dropped into the water, years since he discovered the place, almost till the remains of the hut itself came down as soon as lake dwellings were thought of, on top. This natural museum forms the Herr Messikomer has been excavating, so-called relic-bed,' which is simply the preserving specimens, trying experiments lower level of peat upon the lake-bottom. to realise the savage arts of the former Scoop up a shovelful of it and examine its owners of his estate – qualifying himself, contents. Lumps of a kind of soppy clay in fact, for life in a primæval Stone Age. are the remains of the 'compo,' as a build- It must really have been a shock to him er would call it, with which the platform when he had the misfortune of finding cerwas thickly plastered. Bits of charcoal tain earthen crucibles, with lumps of meltare everywhere, and it is not to be sup-ed bronze in them, which showed that even posed that they came from the fire-places at Robenhausen primitive simplicity had above, for only ashes are ever thrown away not held out quite to the end. But no from a wood-fire; they must always indi- bronze implement has been found, so that cate the remains of wood-work that has while these melting-pots clearly show the been burnt down. Sherds of pottery, of first appearance of an Age of Bronze, it course unglazed, but of tolerable quality, may, at least, be argued that the settlecome up in abundance; there is no end of ment scarcely survived the intrusion. the fish-scales and nat-shells; and bones As far as topography and other material are found by tons, dexterously broken in details go, the history of the place may be to get at the marrow. But as Herr Mes- made out with the most curious accuracy. sikomer to explore, foot by foot, this Herr Messikomer, excavating at the edge great rubbish-field, he became aware that of the Aa Brook Canal, found a state of these things are not mixed indiscriminately. things which at first puzzled him extremeThe contents of each dwelling lie under it: ly. Below three feet of peat he came uphere was a granary, and it was full of corn on the remains of the earthen flooring when it was burnt down, for the charred of the lake-platform, with bits of cloth, grains of barley may be scooped up by charred apples, and such things, among it; handfuls, and if you are fortunate you may but below this the peat began again, and even secure perfect ears with the beard on; lay for two or three feet above another bed and here was a flax-store, for there is the of flooring and remains. At last he came flax in hanks of spun thread, and in cords, upon a clear section farther on, and found pets, and plaited or woven cloth, and evidence of three settlements, one above hard by are numbers of the earthenware another. The first settlers had driven cones which served for the weaver's loom- piles in the shell-marl of the lake-bottom; weights. It used to be thought that the but before very long their village was lake-dwellers must have kept their cows burnt down, leaving a bed of bits of charand pigs, sheep and goats, in secure pens coal, mixed with grains of wheat and baron shore; but here it was clearly made ley, bits of thread and cloth and fishingout, for the first time, that the cattle were nets, all charred likewise by the fire, and kept out in the lake, for their stalls are thus in beautiful preservation for antiquamarked among the huts by the mass of rian purposes. The inhabitants set to work stable-refuse, and there is even some rea- again, drove piles in great numbers, and son to think that the natives gathered it into lived long enough in their new huts for a manure heaps to carry to their fields. In bed of peat, three feet thick, to grow up one spot the places and sizes of six sepa- beneath them, full of meat-bones and potrate huts were marked out, not by the sherds. Then a destruction like the first posts or siding-boards of the huts them- took place, and the charred heads of the selves — for these were no longer to be piles remain to show how the settlement distinguished — but by finding in each of was burnt to the water's edge, while again six places, at equal distances, a set of re- the layer of charcoal, with the usual mains evidently belonging to a separate relics of corn and fruit, cloth and imestablishment, namely, the great stones plements, mark the extent of the burnt vil

lage. When it was renewed for the third scarcely any geographical change has haptime, the builders had left off using stems pened since the time when the settlements, of fir-trees for their piles, and had taken were inhabited, in many places -- in the to splitting oak trunks instead; and such a Lake of Geneva, for instance -- the remains depth of mixed peat and rubbish had ac- of the piles may be still discerned under cumulated on the spot since the days of the water, standing as they always stood, and first inhabitants, that these last ones sim- sometimes still five or six feet high from the ply drove their piles far enough into it, ground. Among these piles, strange to not reaching the ground of the lake at all. say, there lie bones, and potsierds, and This new settlement only covered a part weapons on the lake-bottom, just as they of the old site; but it was long inhabited, were dropped so many centuries ago, and and, unlike the others, it was not burnt the antiquary, paddling slowly above the down. It seems, indeed, that the peat had sites of such villages, sees his specimens at last grown so high that the lake became lying and picks them up with a pair of tongs a mere bog, and the settlers abandoned made to work with a cord at the end of a their homes. The peat grew till it reached long pole. How quiet has been their restthe top of the water, and since then the ing-place for ages, we may judge from M. decaying marsh-plants and the dust have Troyon's finding in one place a group of accumulated into the half-foot of mould earthenware fragments and putting them which covers the whole peat-field. This together into a large and complete vase, part is now cut for fuel, and in having it and in another securing a pair of bronze dug in places beyond the limits of the set- bracelets at one haul of the dredge - one tlement, which were then open lake, greenish and incrusted from having lain on Herr Messikomer made one of the most the lake bottom in full sight from boats curious of his many acute inferences as to ever since it was dropped, the other sunk the history of his lake-men. In examining far enough into the mud to have remained the peats laid out to dry, it is seen that a as fresh as if but just out of the castingdistinct strip of bog, a few hundred yards mould. It was formerly held a doubtful wide, running north from the settlement, point whether the primitive dwellings were is full of bits of charcoal; but on both really built standing in the water, or whether sides of the strip there is none. Now, the they were not rather huts built on the low deadliest combination of circumstances to lake-banks, and protected by pile-dams a Swiss village is still, as of old, a fire from the flood. But it is now quite clear which happens when the furious south that the huts certainly stood on platforms wind, called the Föhnwind, blows. There on piles in the water, so that the accumuis little help against the contlagration then, lating peat or mud received all that dropped and hardly a town in central Switzerland from them, generation after generation. At has not at one time or another been thus Wangen, on the Lake of Constance, when devastated or utterly destroyed. When the water is low, we can now walk dryshod ancient Robenhausen was burnt -- whether to the furthest piles of the old settlement; the first or the second time we do not but this is because the mould, sand, and know — the track of the fierce south wind gravel have accumulated over the spot since that swept the flames from but to but is it was founded, so that even when the water still marked by the shower of embers is high part of the village is now on shore. which it carried along northward and But there has been no general shifting of dropped into the muddy lake.

level in the lakes of Switzerland since the Elsewhere in Switzerland, in places at time of the lake-men, and often things are the edge of the great lakes, where no peat just as they were. It is so at Morges, grows, the alluvial mud deposited in the where the piles of a considerable settlement quiet bays chosen by the old settlers often are to be seen some 500 feet from the shore, inbeds the remains of their villages. It and 8 or 10 feet below low-water mark:

so at Meilen, where the first dis- among them lie some of the old timbers, covery of them was made in excavating and a dug-out canoe was to be seen halfthe deep mud-flats; and in other places, buried in the mud. If the townspeople where the deposit is shallower, the dredg- would only build there a group of fishering-machine travelling over the muddy bot- men's huts on piles, such as actually stood tom of the lakes still brings up remains in in the last century in the Limnat which great quantities, though unfortunately much flows into the Lake of Zürich, we should damaged in the process. On such ground have the old Morges settlement at once rethe antiquary works with gentler means, stored to something of its pristine appeardragging a toothed scraper from his boat ance. and bringing up the mud in scoops. Where In these old but-platforins we see before

was

us the rude and early type of structures stormy waves of a great lake, which would in common use in our wooden piers and have swept away their solid woodwork bridges, in the pile-built houses of the Low while passing harmlessly through open lines Countries, or of the dismal flats of the of piles. lower Mississippi, where the inhabitants It is out in wider lakes that we find the cross to their outbuildings on pile-bridges, ancient builders constructing themselves and talk of the highland when they settlements which correspond to our modmean a mud-bank four feet above high- ern breakwaters, such as those of Portland water mark. But the lacustrine dwellings Harbour or Falmouth Docks. They drove of early Europe show also types of two piles in the lake-bottom, and then proother constructions still carried on in mod- ceeded to drop heavy stones among them ern times. One of these is the fascine- from boats or rafts, till the piles stood work used so successfully by Stephenson firmly imbedded in a solid stone island. in making his railway across the quaking They probably found it easier to raise the Chat Moss by laying brushwood and fag- bottom round the piles, than to drive the gots, and as the bog swallowed them up, piles into the bottom. Such stone-billocks laying yet more and more, till at last they under water are not uncommon in Switzerbore their load. Under similar circum- land, and the fishermen call them steinstances the ancient inhabitants of the little bergs. There is a fine one in the Bielerswampy Moosseedorf, near Berne, appear see, which lies seven or eight feet under to have made their communication with the water, covering two or three acres of shore by a road of piled faggots whose ground; and the piles are still to be seen trace is still marked by the remains of cross projecting from it. Of course such a vast branches lying in the peat. But they some structure as this could not pass unnoticed; times carried out the same idea on a large but Roman remains are found not far off, scale, and this in early Stone Age times. and till Swiss antiquaries became alive to At Niederwyl, near Frauenfeld, there have the existence of their ancient lake-men, been found the wonderfully perfect ruins these piles were thought to belong to some of an island of timber and faggots, built up Roman work. But the place is, in fact, an from the bottom of a little boggy lake, immense Bronze-Age settlement, full of since grown into a peat-moor. The com- the most interesting remains. The stones mon pile-construction would not have an- which form the great mound are waterswered here, for the piles would have given worn boulders of quartz and granite, sideways, or quite sunk in the soft, swampy brought with great labour from the heights ground, under the heavy pressure of the above Nidau, while at St. Peter's Island, a huts; and they were therefore only driven little way off, where there is another steinin small numbers to serve as a framework berg, a canoe fifty feet long and three or and binding for beds of sticks and brush- four feet wide, hollowed from a single wood, which were sunk into their places by trunk, was found at the bottom, freighted layers of sand and gravel laid on the top with stones for banking up the piles: no of each; and thus the wooden and earthen doubt it had been overloaded and had layers alternated throughout the pile to the sunk there. In the Lake of Neufchâtel is surface of the water. On this artificial another steinberg, that of Marin, which island the builders framed a solid structure contains in vast quantities the relics of an of logs, and covered the whole with a rude Iron-Age settlement: such as above fifty board-platform. On this platform stood iron swords, some with their sheaths, iron the buts, and the stumps of their side-posts lance-heads, shield-plates, hatchets and were found, with even the skirting-boards clasps in profusion, and even a linch-pin which formed the lowest part of the side and a couple of snaffle-bits. walls. No doubt we have in the drawings From such Swiss constructions as these of this platform, as it first came to light, a we pass naturally to the stockaded islands representation of what the ordinary plat- of Scotland. The crannogs proper, as Mr. form on piles would have looked like. Stuart calls them in his account contributed The thick earthen floor, laid to keep out to Mr. Lee's work, combine in a very curithe damp, was still there, and even the ous way both the Swiss types, the fascinevery hearth-stones were in their places on island, and the steinberg. A double enthe ground-floor of the huts as when they closure of piles of young oak-trees was set were deserted. These fascine-settlements up in the lake-bed; the outer palisade to were not so common as those supported on serve as breakwater and fortification, the piles ; in fact, though suited to the peculiar inner to form the wall of the artificial island, circumstances of a small and swampy pool, which was made by sinking logs in the bed they would not have stood against the of the lake, and heaping on the wood a

mass of earth and stones. But the group and kill their bears and eat them. The of crannogs of Loch Dowalton in Wigton- enemies against whom the lake settlements shire, when left exposed by the drainage of were built as fastnesses were not bears, but the lake, proved to be even more exactly men. like the fascine-islands of Niederwyl and Though the arts of fortification and siege Wauwyl, for their surface of stones rested have now taken up means so much more efon layers of brushwood, logs, and stones, fective than in past times, we can see that down to the lowest stratum of fern spread in old days such fortresses as the “Moat' on the bottom of the loch. In Ireland and at Eytebam, which was built in Edward the Scotland together there are near a hundred Second's time, with its walls rising sheer crannogs known, but in the Irish ones it from the water, or Leeds Castle, on its three was usual to take advantage of a natural little lake islands joined by draw-bridges, island, and to complete it by palisades and must have been places of great strength. heaps of stones, into a strong and habitable So the stockaded islands of the Irish lakes fortress.

were the ordinary strongholds of the counWhat were the motives that have induced try from old up to almost modern times. men in so many different places to go out and Thus, to quote but one of many records, build their damp and inconvenient abodes even in 1567 the official report of one in lakes ? It is obvious that the main rea- Thomas Phettiplace describes O'Neil as not son which accounts for the existence of trusting to his castles for safety, for that houses on piles all over the world does not fortification which he only dependeth upon hold here. The ancient Swiss were not is in sartin ffreshwater loghes in his country, driven by floods to build their huts on high which from the sea there come neither ship scaffolds, like the Guaranis of the Orinoco, nor boat to approach them, . . . . which whose fires Sir Walter Raleigh saw gleam- islands hath in wars to fore been attempted, ing high up among the trees, or like the and now of late again by the Lord Deputy Burmese, through whose hamlets the trav- there, Sir Harry Sydney, which, for want eller in the rainy season passes in his boat. of means for safe conduct upon the water it Again, it was held for years, and by some hath not prevailed.' Convenience of fishof the ablest Swiss archæologists, that fear ing and boating has, no doubt, in some of wild beasts was one reason which drove cases induced people to build houses in the the old inhabitants to live out in the lake; water; but, on the whole, the evidence as but the notion is untenable.* The lake- to lake settlements converges to the opinion dwellers belong to a comparatively recent that safety from enemies was their main period in Europe; the mammoth, the cave- motive. Captain Burton's Iso took to the tiger, and the hyæna, were no longer in the lagoon to be safe from the King of Dahome. land, as in the days of the earlier and ruder Even in 1810, the Dutch in the East Indies cave-men. Their wild beasts were only the were hard put to it to suppress the rebellion bear, the wolf, and the fox, though no doubt of the native lake-town of Tondano; they the country swarmed with these. But the were obliged to build boats to carry cannon notion of people living in the water to be to reduce the place; and, having succeeded, out of the way of bears or wolves, is an they never allowed so dangerous a fastness undeserved slur upon the lowest savage. to be rebuilt. How strong the ancient A bear is, indeed, an ugly antagonist, es- Prasian pile-villages were, comes out very pecially to hunters whose best weapons are curiously in a remark of Herodotus, who but stone-pointed spears and arrows; yet mentions in quite an incidental way that though savages may shrink from even men- when Darius sent his General Megabyzus tioning his dreaded name, call him "Grand- to carry off the Pæonians, he reached Lake papa 'to propitiate him, ask pardon of his Prasias, but the dwellers in the lake settledead carcase, or even put the pipe of peace ments there were among the tribes whom into his mouth to engage it to take no ven- he failed to subdue. geance, nevertheless between hunger and Thus, too, security from attack was hatred they get the better of their fears, clearly the motive of the Swiss lake-men of

Robenhausen in driving their herds to stato be out of the question anywhere, had it not been pier from the pasture-lands of Kempten. We should have soundly asserted such a thing bles in the lake, along a mile or more of Venetian jeweller, who was in Pegu in 1583, who Against enemies assailing them with spears accounts for the houses on piles as for safety from and arrows from boats and rafts at a distigers. Yet even here the real motive was very likely the annual inundation of the country. Respecting tance, and from storming parties clamberthe pile-dwellings of Lake Maracay bo in South ing up their scaffolds, their position was America, the remarkable statement has been made very strong. But it would be interesting that the Indians resort to this aquatic

life to escape to ascertain whether, like so many savage the mosquitoes, which infest the shores.

tribes, the early Swiss had hit upon the de-| If science had accepted the theory provice of setting a besieged village in flames pounded in the early days of the lake-infrom a distance with flights of fire-javelins vestigations, that the piles were the remains or arrows. Against such an attack the be- of great beaver-villages, the fishermen of sieged would have had little chance when Thonon and Evian might have been now the invaders' boats were once in numbers telling as matter of history legends of these in the lake around them; and very likely I gigantic beavers, and pointing in confirmathe conflagrations, which we know so often tion to the supposed remains of their dams devastated the settlements built with such still standing in the water. Unless a tradi. painful perseverance, were frequently the tion of lake settlements can be proved to work of hostile bands. M. Le Hon, in- have existed before 1853, the time when stead of reproducing Dr. Keller's ideal res- the news of the discovered lake dwellings toration of a Swiss lake village in peaceful spread throughout Switzerland, we must occupation, has chosen for a sensational continue to believe that they were utterly frontispiece to his work on · Fossil Man' forgotten up to the time when the antiquathe moment of a conflagration in the midstries succeeded in re-constructiug something of a raging tempest, with the wretched na- of their annals. These at least touch histives plunging headlong into the lake, or tory at their nearer end, for the latest Ironescaping in their canoes. On the whole, Age villages come down to the Gallowe prefer the quieter pictures, which show Roman period. Backward from this they the natives at their every-day work, fishing, extend, we know not how far, into a dark paddling in dug-out canoes, or hanging out and distant past. Their race, and the dates their nets. Such drawings give great of their occupation, cannot yet be made reality to our ideas of Swiss lake-men, out with any approach to certainty ; yet we while almost all their details have some sort find among the ruins of their homes the of evidence to rest on, except, perhaps, the materials for determining much of the hiscircular huts which are still sometimes rep- tory of their culture. It will be best to resented. M. Troyon cleverly calculated give a brief account of this interesting the shape and size of these supposed circu- series of facts and arguments, before conlar huts, from the curvature of the bits of cluding with such few and doubting remarks clay-plastering which had fallen into the as may be made on their place among Eurowater, baked to brick when the wattled pean tribes, and their date in the calendar huts were burnt down. But his ingenious of history. argument has come to nothing on closer ex By all who take an interest in the probamination of these irregularly-warped frag- lem whether or not human civilisation is to ments, and it is undervaluing the construc- be considered a product of gradual develtive skill of the lake-dwellers to suppose opment upward from an early savage state them wasting a considerable fraction of the of mankind, it will be seen as a highly implatform-space acquired with such enor- portant fact that the history of the Swiss mous labour, by building circular huts on Iake-dwellers is the history of a gradual it instead of the oblong ones usual else development in civilisation. They make where, and of which remains are actually their first appearance as thoroughly in the found at Niederwyl.

Stone-Age as the South Sea Islanders who We have seen that many lake settlements, planted the iron nails in expectation of such as those now actually inhabited in the reaping a crop of these valuable vegetables. Eastern Archipelago or in Dahome, the At Wangen, or Moosseedorf, or the fascine mediæval ones of Ireland or Syria, and the platform of Wauwyl, there has not been more ancient ones still of Lake Prasias, found among the thousands of stone batchcome within the range of written history. ets, knives, and arrow-heads, any trace of But no history mentions the Swiss lake metal. They must have lived for many dwellings; they were utterly forgotten by centuries in such places as these, with only the people who have since lived on the implements of stone, horn and bone, and shore hard by and paddled day by day over even these often of lower quality than such their sites. There was indeed a paragraph as are found among the modern Maoris or in our newspapers three or four years ago, Caribs. They used the ordinary stonein which a traveller declared that he had flake knives, leather-scrapers, spears, arrowfound on the south side of the lake of Ge- heads, and celts, of savages all over the neva a real tradition that people here once world; at Robenhausen the stone hatchetlived in villages out in the lake. But sto- blade has even been found in its hole in the ries in the form of tradition are hopelessly very wooden club which served as its banvitiated when they embody, as this does, dle, and at Moosseedorf the little jagged the results of modern scientific opinion. I stone saw was picked up in the worm-eaten

« EelmineJätka »