Page:A Book of Dartmoor.djvu/59

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31
PRIMEVAL INHABITANTS

visited the moor before the advent of what is called the Neolithic Age.

About the man of this period I must say something, as he in his day lived in countless swarms on this elevated land. He may have lived also in the valleys of the lowlands, but his traces there have been obliterated by the plough. First of all as to his personal appearance. He was dark-haired, tall, and his head was long, like that of a new-born child, or boat-shaped, a form that disappears with civilisation, and resolves itself into the long face instead of the long head.

At some period, vastly remote, a great migration of a long-headed race took place from Central Asia. It went forth in many streams. One to the east entered Japan; probably the Chinese and Anamese represent another. But we are mainly concerned with the western outpour. It traversed Syria, and Gilead and Moab are strewn with its remains, hut circles, dolmens, and menhirs identical with those on Dartmoor. Hence one branch passed into Arabia, where, to his astonishment, Mr. Palgrave lighted on replicas of Stonehenge.[1]

  1. "Hardly had we descended the narrow path, when we saw before us several huge stones, like enormous boulders, placed endways perpendicularly, on the soil, while some of them yet upheld similar masses, laid transversely over their summit. They were arranged in a curve once forming part, it would appear, of a large circle, and many other like fragments lay rolled on the ground at a moderate distance; the number of those still upright was, to speak by memory, eight or nine. Two, at about ten or twelve feet apart one from the other, and resembling huge gateposts, yet bore their horizontal lintel, a long block laid across them; a few were deprived of their upper traverse, the rest supported each its headpiece in defiance of time and the more destructive efforts of man. So nicely balanced did one of these cross-bars appear, that in hope it might prove a rocking-stone, I guided my camel right under it, and then, stretching up my riding-stick at arm's length, could just manage to touch and push it; but it did not stir. Meanwhile the respective heights of camel, rider, and stick, taken together, would place the stone in question full fifteen feet from the ground. These blocks seem, by their quality, to have been hewed from the neighbouring limestone cliffs and roughly shaped, but present no further trace of art, no groove or cavity of sacrificial import, much less anything intended for figure or ornament. The people of the country attribute their erection to the Darim, and by his own hands too, seeing that he was a giant. Pointing towards Rass, our companions affirmed that a second and similar stone circle, also of gigantic dimensions, existed there; and, lastly, they mentioned a third towards the south-west, that is, in the direction of Henakeeyah."—Palgrave, Narrative of a Year's Journey through Central Arabia, 1865, vol. i p. 251.