Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/25

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5
THE SPEECHLESS PAST

preserved near their lake dwellings though the garments woven have long since perished.

A picture of the social condition of the New Stone Man has been drawn by an able historian. He bids us, in imagination, make our way through a track in the dense virgin forest to one of the rough clearings. There we may find a cluster of these pit houses, recognisable by the thin smoke issuing from the entrance. Around are small plots of ripening wheat, troops of horned sheep and short-horned oxen, and possibly a few fierce dogs, acting as guardians of the primitive homestead against the attacks of bears, wolves or foxes.

Outside we can imagine the short, swarthy inhabitants slightly dressed in wool or in skins, with necklaces and pendants of stone, bone or home-made pottery. Some are cutting wood with well-sharpened stone axes fixed in wooden handles, some sawing it with saws of carefully notched pieces of flint; some are fashioning wooden bows for arrows tipped with pointed flint heads, while some are scraping skins for clothing or carving harpoons out of bone. Some—presumably the women of the party—are spinning thread and weaving it with rudely-constructed looms. It was a simple pastoral (existence, with few needs and fewer possessions;