Page:A Book of Dartmoor.djvu/72

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44
THE ANCIENT INHABITANTS

of the Celts, who represented the earlier population as living in mounds, which the Irish called sidi, and the people occupying them the Tuatha da Danann. As already said, this same name meets us in Damnonii, the oldest appellation for the people of Devon. They were a sociable people, clustering together for mutual protection in pounds.

These pounds are large circular inclosures, the walls probably only about four feet high, but above this was a breastwork of turf or palisading. Outside the pound were huts, perhaps of guards keeping watch.

Many of the huts have paddocks connected with them, as though these latter had been kail gardens, but some of these paddocks are large enough to have been tilled for corn. Their plough, if they used one, was no more than a crooked beam, drawn by oxen. It is possible that the numerous sharp flakes of flint that are found were employed fastened into a sort of harrow, as teeth. Their cooking was done either in pots sunk in the soil, or in holes lined with stones.

Rounded pebbles, water-worn, were amassed, and baked hot in the fire, then rolled to the "cookinghole," in which was the meat, and layers of hot stones and meat alternated, till the hollow receptacle was full, and the whole was then covered with sods till the flesh was cooked.

The following account of the manner in which the Fiana, the Irish militia, did their cooking in pre-Christian times will illustrate this custom:—

"When they had success in hunting, it was their custom in the forenoon to send their huntsman, with what they