EARLY MAN within them it is evident that cooking was carried on in neolithic times in much the same way as among some modern savages, the ground being made sufficiently hot by long continued firing to cook whole animals. The methods of hut building varied in different places according to the nature of the soil and the supply of materials. There are in Surrey various stretches of dry ground often too poor to pay for the trouble of cultivation and too remote from the railway systems for residential purposes, which have therefore never been touched by the plough or the builder, and remain practically in the same condition as in neolithic times. These spaces of virgin forest land contain numerous traces of human dwellings of the neolithic age, and in two of them these remains have been examined and described, 1 and there is no reason to doubt that many other commons in the county would furnish similar remains if carefully explored. The two particular localities to which we refer are Shirley Com- mon and Croham Hurst, two eminences near Croydon, both composed of pebble beds and remarkable for the dryness of their soil. Perhaps the hut floors at Croham Hurst are the more remarkable because some of them have been placed in such a position as to be sheltered from the winds blowing from the east and north. They present certain features which remind one of the rock shelters to be found in other places. Flint implements, mainly in the form of flakes and chips, and accompanied by cores of flint, are found in abundance around the hut floors, and the significance of their presence is increased by the fact that no chalk flints occur naturally either at Croham Hurst or Shirley. All these chalk flints must have been brought from the outcrop of the chalk at a considerably lower level. The flints too, almost without exception, bear traces, sometimes very pronounced, of having been worked. At Shirley Common flakes and chips of flint have also been found near the hut floors, but in smaller numbers. The inhabitants of Surrey in the neolithic age were farmers and herdsmen, and the sheltered southern side of Croham Hurst probably formed the winter quarters of some of the families or a small tribe and their herds. In the neolithic age man possessed domesticated animals which furnished one of the most constant sources of food supply. There are several hilltop defensive earthworks in Surrey which, although their precise age is doubtful, may be reasonably considered to be of neolithic origin. The space enclosed is often of considerable extent, and the works may be considered to represent the strongholds in which early tribes entrenched themselves, their families and their cattle, rather than purely military camps. The difficulty of determining the period to which they belong is much increased by the fact that they have been occupied by successive races, but roughly speaking the 1 ' Prehistoric Man in the neighbourhood of the Kent and Surrey Border,' Journal of the Antbro- pobgicat Inttitute, n.s. ii. 127 et seq. 237
Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/287
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