Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/30

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
10
SOCIAL LIFE IN ENGLAND

On the very threshold now of authenticated history, imagination fades before fact, shadows stand forth in the light of day, and pictures of the social conditions of the dwellers in this land, the ancient Britons, become more real and more interesting.

As it was in tribes and clans they came over, so it was in tribes and clans they lived. Groups of huts and villages arose, testifying to the new-born ideas of defence, not only from wild beasts, but from human foes.

The sites of these villages were often chosen in open lakes or marshes, in the centre of which an island was improvised. The same idea, in later days, prompted men to construct moats round their castles, only in the one case the water was round the island, while in the other the island was constructed in the water.

The site of the new home being chosen, a raft of tree trunks was formed, on the top of which were laid layers of earth and stones, until the whole mass sank and grounded on the bed of the lake. Then upright oak piles were driven close together as park palings round the edge of the sunken island, and inside the palings were built clusters of wooden huts, roofed with wicker-work smeared over