Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/259

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


EARLY MAN prophecy has already been fulfilled. Mr. S. S. Stanley of Leamington, in a communication to the present writer, records the discovery of a palaeolithic flake in river gravel at Walton. Other flint implements were also found in the same gravel, and presumably they were also of the palaeolithic age, but unfortunately they are now lost. Sir John Evans, in his monumental work on stone implements, 1 is able to record another palaeolithic discovery in the old gravels of the river Rea at Saltley near Birmingham. It has been made of a brown quartzite pebble and has been skilfully chipped to a point at one end whilst the sides have been chipped to an edge. It was found in a bed of sandy gravel composed mainly of small quartzite pebbles and a light- brown sandy matrix. The bed also contains a few broken flints. The discovery is in every way one of considerable importance. Saltley is situated in the northern end of Warwickshire and con- siderably beyond an imaginary line drawn from the Severn to the Wash, which is generally considered to mark the northern limit of the area in which palaeolithic implements are commonly found. Among the implements found in the caves of Creswell Crags, Derbyshire, were several roughly made of quartzite. This is exactly what might be expected in a district where flint is rare, and the discovery suggests the question whether there may not be many more remains of the palaeolithic age in the Midlands and the north or England than had hitherto been suspected. Sir John Evans, who has discussed this ques- tion somewhat fully in his book, 2 inclines to the idea that further remains in other materials than flint may reward searches among the ancient gravel-like alluvial deposits of our northern rivers. There is a diffi- culty in determining the age and characteristics of implements formed of such substances as quartzites and many of the older rocks, arising from the uncertain character of the marks of human workmanship upon them and the slight degree of alteration due to weathering to which they are susceptible. However, this imperfect evidence might be checked or strengthened by a close attention to the succession and rela- tive ages of the beds in which they occur. THE NEOLITHIC AGE It has been already pointed out that the neolithic age is sharply separated from the palaeolithic age by a long interval of time. During the neolithic age however the surface of the land had assumed its present appearance. The river cfcMi period as it had formerly existed was at an end, and the trees, plants and animals of the neolithic age may be said to have been roughly the same as those we now have, except that some species have been exterminated and others introduced by the forces of civilization. There have also been some changes on the sea- coast, by which the shore has been modified, since the first appearance > The Ancient Stone Implements, Weapons and Ornaments of Great Britain, pp. 578-9, ed. a.

  • Op. cit, pp. 580-1.

215