Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/273

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T EARLY MAN f ^HE story of Surrey before the period of written history may be pronounced as interesting, in every sense, as that which has been recorded on paper or parchment. Nor is the general trend of the evidence less certain ; for whilst some details are indefinite, the chief facts relating to early man are founded upon grounds as indisputable as are those of geological science. The human elements, such as misleading chroniclers and the untrustworthy scribes who often copied incorrectly, are wanting, and the student of prehistoric times is guided by the actual objects which show traces of man's handiwork. Every particle of human workmanship of that early period becomes therefore of great importance, and every indication of its association with or relationship to other remains deserves the most careful attention of those who wish to obtain a fairly complete idea of the conditions under which prehistoric man lived. The various ages into which antiquaries have almost unanimously divided the prehistoric period will be followed in this account as being the most convenient. The remains of this period in Surrey will there- fore be considered in the following order : palaeolithic age, neolithic age, bronze age, and prehistoric iron age or Late Celtic period. THE PALEOLITHIC AGE It must be remembered, in considering the earlier stone or palaeo- lithic age, that at that time what is now Great Britain and Ireland was united to the continent of Europe, and as a consequence the climate was subjected to greater variations than those which our present insular situation gives us. Man's status too in the scale of civilization was lower than that with which we are now familiar. It would be difficult from the available data to describe it accurately, but it may be in- ferred from the following facts. He did not possess the knowledge of making pottery, neither did he know how to work metals, nor to shape flints or stone by means of grinding. He had no domesticated animals, and he did not till the soil ; but his means of subsistence con- sisted of such food as hunting and fishing were capable of furnishing. Yet it must not be inferred from these circumstances that the men of the palaeolithic age were animals of such a low type as some authorities would have us believe. Abundant evidences of their artistic abilities 227