Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

exists between the alignments of Menac and Kermario, which evidently at one time were continuous. Indeed some of the menhirs remain concealed by the low fir trees in the fields between them. The reason why they were taken from this spot is simple. First, the menhirs were of considerable dimensions; and secondly, they were near to the high road, and therefore more easy to transport. The altars in the church are of granite, and the oid beadle who accompanies visitors invariably mentions that they have been made from "menhirs." The same is said of the corona over the north porch of the church.

I propose now to offer some remarks on the sculptures of the dolmens, of which there remain about eighty. They are found usually on the capstones and their supports. A remarkable fact is that the sculptures are circumscribed to within a distance of about twelve miles, near the sea coast, beyond which, although the megaliths are so numerous, there is a complete absence of them.

The French classification of these monuments is as follows:First, Galgals (cairns), composed of roughed stones heaped up, covering a stone chamber; second, Tumuli, having also a stone chamber, with an allée or passage leading to it for secondary burials. In the construction of both, a quantity of mud from the seashore, or clay, was spread over to a thickness of about 6 feet, with the object of preventing pluvial infiltration, and thus preserving the remains deposited in the chamber. I may here mention that in some cases remains of human bones were found, -almost all, however, calcined.

In some few cases these monuments still remain almost intact, but others have been denuded and have consequently become ruins. Stone being everywhere so abundant, it was really not worth while to take any from the cairns; but, on the other hand, vegetable humus being only a few inches deep, the farmers removed the earth from the tumuli and spread it over their fields. As I shall have occasionally to use the French nomenclature and classification of the sculptures of the dolmens, it seems desirable I should first explain their system, namely:

Signes Cupuliformes

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

=

Cup markings.

= Foot shape.

= Yoke (of cattle) shape.

Pectiniformes = Comb shape.
Celtiformes

Celt (stone hatchet) shape.

On referring to the Archæological Map of the Morbihan, it will be seen that a tumulus exists on the peninsula of Rhuys, named Tumiac. I propose to commence here, observing that I shall as much as possible omit the details of the explorations, confining myself principally to the sculptures.

The tumulus of Tumiac is composed of three strata. The lower one consists of rough blocks of granite heaped up; the second is of mud and clay from the seashore; the third is of vegetable humus. Its height is 65 feet, and its circumference at the base is 300 feet. From its summit there is a truly magnificent panoramic view extending from the mouth of the Loire to Belle Ile; it, in fact, commands the whole country. In order to discover its chamber a perpendicular cutting was made on its south side, from southeast to north-west, being guided by the well-known and almost universal rule that the entrance to the Breton dolmens is found. between the south and east points of the compass. A remarkable difference exists as to the position of this chamber, which is that its floor is about 20 feet above the level of the soil, the others. usually resting on the granite rock; in fact, the dolmenic chambers have been erected on it. Tumiac may be said to have two chambers joined, but without a separation. Each is nearly a square. The inner one is composed of three supports of granite, which are secured together at the corners by a species of dovetail, which is unique; it is covered by a large slab of granite. The adjoining chamber consists entirely of rough dry stone walls, having two capstones; it is rather more contracted than the former; a human parietal bone was found in the latter. Two of the supports of the first chamber are sculptured: one has on it what very much resembles a double bead necklace (Plate IV, fig. 5); below it there is what is really an indescribable figure; the other support has on its lower part parallel bars, having hooked extremities; above these are some faintly incised waved lines.

We will now proceed to Petit Mont, which is situated to the right on entering the inland sea of the Morbihan, and about three miles from Tumiac; it is stated that it was from this height that Cæsar directed the sea fight at the entrance of the Mobihan between his galleys and those of the "Veneti." A chamber was opened at the foot of this cairn in 1865. Seven of its supports are sculptured, one of which (No. 4) is remarkable, it having incised on it the outlines of two human feet (Plate III, fig. 1), this being the only instance in which any part of the human frame has been found on any of the megalithic monuments of Brittany.

Support No. 10 has incised on it what appear to be tv hafted celts; on No. 8 there are some rude imitations of wh seem to be axes, also hafted; the remaining sculptures a principally waved lines and cup markings, with the exceptio of No. 1, which has some parallel zigg

Although the dolmens numerous, the preceding

la of Rhuys are hich have sculp

tures on them. We shall therefore pass over to the Ile aux Moines, which is the most considerable island in the inland sea. It has a remarkable cromlech on it, as also several dolmens : the first will be found at the village of Kergonan; it is semicircular, its diameter is 320 feet; it has actually a farmhouse and buildings within its boundaries. It is formed of thirty-six menhirs, of from 6 to 10 feet high, and from 3 to 6 feet broad. At about a mile beyond it, and on a rising ground, will be seen the dolmen of Pen-hap; on the exterior of its left support, on entering the chamber, there is sculptured a remarkable axe, now much weather-worn; on the inner side of the same support, and inside of the chamber, will be found incised a double oval figure, terminating in cup markings.

We will now pass on to Innis-hir (Long Island), which has on its highest part a cairn containing a chamber, now almost blocked up with stones; on one of the supports of its gallery there is incised a cartouche, now much weathered and hardly discernible.

On the south side of the next island, Gavr Innis, or "Goat Island," there is an elongated cairn, which has a diameter of 180 feet; its original height was 30 feet, but it is now only about 20 feet, its top having been removed, and a sort of crater formed, which reaches down to the capstones. This was done (it is said) to admit light into the chamber. The original form of this cairn was that of an elongated cone, and from its summit a really magnificent panoramic view of the Morbihan and the adjacent islands, as also of the surrounding country, was obtained. The date of its first opening is unknown; its late proprietor opened it in 1832, but it soon became evident that he had been anticipated, the chamber and its allée being nearly filled up with stone and rubbish. There was formerly a monastery on this island, the ruins of which existed until lately. The monks probably opened the cairn; it is also a well-authenticated fact that it served as a hiding-place during the revolution of 1793. The dimensions of the chamber are 8 feet by 7, and 5 feet 8 inches high; its allée is 14 feet long, 4 feet 6 inches broad, and 5 feet 4 inches high; its side walls consist of twenty-three supporting menhirs. The chamber has eight supports and one capstone, 12 feet 6 inches by 9 feet 6 inches. The chamber and its allée are paved with granite flags. All the supports, with the exception of two which are of quartz, are sculptured; the intricacies these sculptures are truly surprising. They have been comp y some to the tattooing of the New Zealanders. h sculptured celts of the Neolithic period, thirty-one times on six of the supports. rit a special attention: one is in the

[graphic]

cooked their own food, washed their own vessels, chopped firewood, and learnt to wash, sew, and mend clothes. The women took readily to clothing, but much preferred to make ribbons of calico petticoats to adorn their heads than to cover their bodies. They were nice and dainty in their food, and would rather die than take physic. Their keenness of sense was remarkable: any uncommon odour was repulsive to them, while carbolic acid drove them wild. Their eyesight was remarkable: they could, and frequently did, discover land which we were unable to make out with good glasses; they could pick out a small boat six or seven miles off at sea in bad weather, when we were unable to do so with binoculars or telescopes. But not only were they uncommonly good at long sight, they were equally so in making very small beads out of shells, and doing minute carving and engraving on spears and clubs, on canoes, combs, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and on musical instruments; not to mention the fine tattooings with which many women's faces were disfigured. The Indians of the South American deserts can see great distances, and distinguish the colours of mules and horses long before any European eyes can; but they do not surpass or equal these New Irelanders in their power of sight.

But I attach more importance to the ready manner in which they took to habits of cleanliness, order, and regularity. They were easily taught many simple things, but the teaching had to be incessant, and the teacher always present to ensure a good result; when left to themselves they speedily relapsed into empty idleness. I assume then that these people are the offspring of remote but superior races, that they retain some inherited powers, which have become weak by lack of use, and that these moral and intellectual powers can be easily restored. New Ireland is situated about 300 miles south of the Equator, and separated by a strait, 50 miles wide, from the south-east coast of New Guinea. The island is some 250 miles long, and 30 or more miles broad. Viewed from seaward it is seen to be densely wooded and well watered. Cocoa and areca nut palms stand out against the sky along the summits, and grow in immense numbers all along the shore. Vast patches of the hillsides are under cultivation, and these are fenced with wickerwork. Yams and taro are the roots mainly cultivated. The food of the natives is chiefly vegetable, and consists of cocoanuts, yams, taro, arrowroot, nutmegs, haricot beans, bread fruit, the sweet potato, bananas, and other fruits. Sometimes they add fish, and now and then kill a pig; there is abundance of domestic poultry; we also found plenty of nuts, chili peppers, and the delicious mangostine. The only wild animal I found was a small opossum.

The climate is humid, the vegetation a dark green, and every tree appeared to be overrun with parasitic plants. Although food appeared to be abundant, the natives were poor in flesh, lanky, short in stature, slight in weight. Their usual colour is a dark brown, but many are much lighter. No doubt there is a considerable mixture of blood among them. The hair of the head is crisp and glossy, and as dense and populated as their own hills. Many of the black men had abundance of hair on their bodies; the lighter-coloured had little or none.

The tattooing and cuttings on the flesh were entirely confined to women and the head men. The tattooing is abundant at the corners of the eyes and mouth, and is darkened by rubbing in the powdered oxide of manganese, which they call labán.

The men go absolutely naked, but the women wear "aprons" of grass in front and behind, suspended from cinctures, made of beads strung on threads drawn from the leaves of the aloe. The women also make an excellent bonnet from palm leaves, and also a cloak which covers the back and head, used only in the rainy season; they evinced great fear of getting wet in the rain.

I noticed no mutilations among them, no cutting off of eyebrows, or knocking out of teeth. The septum of the nose is perforated to receive rings of beads, and other ornaments, the only breach of good taste in adorning themselves to be found among them. They stick flowers and gaudy feathers in their hair, and wear garters on their naked legs under the knee, well knitted out of fibre. Many bleach their hair with coral lime, paint their bodies with red and yellow earths, and get up their faces like the clown and pantaloon in a pantomime.

Their huts are singularly well thatched, and are raised from the ground on heavy logs about 2 feet high; there are no doors, windows, or chimneys. In pottery they make well-shaped water-bottles.

They construct admirable canoes, but use no sails. The canoes are beautifully carved-are made of well-cut battens, inch thick, 20 feet long, and 5 inches wide, and pitched with some black resinous stuff which they call anteet. Their paddles are symmetrical, and oftentimes carved with taste and skill. The figure-head of the canoe is admirably sculptured. Twenty paddles in a canoe can raise the speed through the water to a good ten knots an hour, and I have seen canoes keep up this pace for at least an hour and half without stopping.

Their weapons are clubs and spears. They have no bows and arrows. The clubs are of all shapes, of heavy, wellpolished, dark woods, and excellently carved. The prevailing form was that of the cricket bat.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »