Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/274

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

A HISTORY OF SURREY have been found in the form of vigorous sketches of men, animals and other objects made upon bones as well as in carvings executed in the same material. The skill displayed in the fashioning of palaeolithic implements is very great, and from the few actual remains of man of that period which have been discovered and recorded there is reason to believe that he was as well endowed with brain as were the men and women who lived in the neolithic age. Very few if indeed any traces have been found of human inter- ments of the palaeolithic age, most of the graves which had been regarded as belonging to that early period having been proved upon careful examination to belong to the neolithic or subsequent races. The only evidence of this interesting age in Surrey that has yet been recorded consists of the flint implements which were shaped by human workmanship. These, in consequence of the practically im- perishable material of which they are formed, have been preserved through all the changes which have happened during the long period of time which separates the palaeolithic age from our own. Perhaps it will be convenient at this point, before considering the implements discovered in Surrey, to mention a few of the more promi- nent features by which the implements of the palaeolithic age may be distinguished from those of the neolithic age. There are several points of difference between the two classes, but a few will be sufficient for the present purpose. As far as the workmanship is concerned it may be remarked that a palaeolithic implement was formed by a few bold and skilful blows which produced the desired shape without the expenditure of much labour. The stone selected for this purpose was sometimes one that had been procured from the chalk, and sometimes a flint from the coarse gravels of the river drift which had already been fractured and worn by natural forces. Neolithic implements, on the other hand, to which more particular reference will be made hereafter, were usually formed from a special kind of flint that was found to be particularly suitable for the purpose. The blows by which it was brought into the desired shape were more carefully directed and more numerous ; and in the case of highly finished celts and axes, the whole or a portion of the cutting edge, and not infrequently the whole of the surface, was finished by a grinding process which brought the stone to a smooth condition and obliterated all marks of the chipping by which it had been roughly shaped. With regard to the superficial or other changes which the two kinds of flint implements have undergone, it will suffice for the present purpose to say that the palaeolithic have in many cases been much changed in structure for some depth below their surface, whilst the larger proportion have acquired a reddish brown stain much resembling in appearance that produced by oxide or protoxide of iron. It is un- doubtedly a mark of the antiquity of the fractures, but apparently does not necessarily imply that the implements have been embedded in a 228