Page:A book of the west; being an introduction to Devon and Cornwall.djvu/28

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6
THE WESTERN FOLK

the whole of the peninsula from the river Parret to Land's End. East of the Tamar was Dyfnaint, the Deep Vales; west of it Corneu, the horn of Britain.

The Dumnonii are thought to have invaded and occupied this territory about four centuries before the Christian era. The language of the previous dusky race was agglutinative, like that of the Tartars and Basques, that is to say, they did not inflect their substantives. Although there has been a vast influx of other blood, with fair hair and white complexions, the earlier type may still be found in both Devon and Cornwall.

Then came the Roman invasion; this affected our Dumnonian peninsula very slightly; Cornwall hardly at all. When that came to an end, a large portion of Britain had fallen under the sway of the Picts, Saxons, and Scots. By Scots are meant the Irish, who after their invasion of Alba gave the present name to Scotland. But it must be distinctly understood that the only Scots known in the first ten or eleven centuries, to writers on British affairs, were Irish.

In alliance with the Picts and Saxons, Niall of the Nine Hostages poured down on Britain and exacted tribute from the conquered people. In 388 he carried his arms further and plundered Brittany. In 396 the Irish supremacy was resisted by Stilicho, and for a while shaken; it was reimposed in 400. In 405, Niall invaded Gaul, and was assassinated there on the shores of the English Channel.

In 406 Stilicho a second time endeavoured to repel the Hiberno-Pictic allies, but, unable to do much by