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three feet in diameter; and Mr. Rooke, in the Archæologia, vol. xii, p. 47, states that one of these is of an oval form, and
evidently appears to have been cut with a tool." Three others are to be seen on the same Tor, which he thinks have also been formed artificially. In the neighbourhood of Liskeard there are other basins“ mostly regular and uniform,
and generally two together, with a spout or channel between " them.” In the Scilly Isles these rock basins are not un
One stone on Salakee Downs has no fewer than thirteen scooped out upon it; and Dr. Borlase has no doubt of their artificial formation. On the other hand, Messrs. Britton and Brayley are of opinion that most of those in Cornwall are “ certainly natural.” They would be prepared to accept Dr. Borlase's theory of their artificial formation, provided the figures in his work “ were to be considered apart “from any others;' but unfortunately, as they conceive,
the gradation of the excavations is quite regular, from the “largest rock basins, five or six feet in diameter, to the most “minute indentations. They also exist in such numbers, and 'in all situations, as utterly to exclude the hand of man from " the great mass; and therefore to make some natural and "unknown process most probable in all." (Beauties of Cornwall, p. 509.) In this opinion they are supported by Dr. Maton, on the ground that the rocks on which the basins occur, “exhibit awful vestiges of convulsion." Whether this be a sufficient reason for their formation by natural means may be left to the reader. It must have been a somewhat orderly convulsion which scooped out so many regularly formed cavities in such hard material as the Cornish granite.
I do not propose to enter at any great length into the controversy on these points; my object being more particularly to place on record the fact of the existence of rock basins in these localities. Mr. Joseph Whitaker, a very competent geologist, who accompanied me over a portion of the district, after
carefully examining many of them, was not then prepared to pronounce a definite opinion on their origin. He thought much might be said in favour of natural causes ; but, at the same time, allowed that the advocates of the opposite view have several good grounds for assuming that “the hand of "man" had something to do with their construction. My own opinion is, that the rock basins of Scilly, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Yorkshire and East Lancashire are partly natural and partly artificial ;-the former being comparatively few and easily distinguished by their varying depths and forms. Their numbers, their general characteristics, their situations and their occurrence in such totally different geological formations, and in so many counties, appear to me to leave scarcely any other alternative. Higgins, in his Celtic Druids, p. 61, expresses a similar opinion. The accidental loosening of a quartz pebble, and the consequent disintegration of the stone by the water which lodges in the cavity, may account for some of the smaller and most irregular indentations; but it is difficult to conceive how these means can produce such marked regularity of form as everywhere prevails. Natural decay, acting from special centres, cannot have produced these basins; since they mostly occur on the hardest and soundest blocks. Again the round, or rather spheroidal masses or nodules, so frequently met with in some of the coal strata, do not occur, so far as I am aware, in either the granite or the millstone grit. The cavities, therefore, cannot have been formed by the removal of these ; nor, again, does the action of running water upon small hard pebbles, revolving at first in slight natural indentations, seem sufficient to explain all their remarkable characteristics.* It cannot, for instance, easily
• That rock basins can be formed by the action of small pebbles is well shewn at the Strid, on the banks of the Wharfe, near Bolton Abbey. Dr. Whitaker thus alludes to some which have been thus formed near to Holme, his family residence. “ The original fractures (of the Cliviger Gorge) have not, and could “ not have been occasioned by water: but what that powerful agent has been “ able to effect, under circumstances most favourable to its operation, in narrow “ clefts and deep waterfalls, is this :—it has worn away the first asperities, it has
account for their almost perfect hemispherical forin, and the long grooved channels by which, in every locality, some of them have been united. Wavelets pushed over the edges of the basins by strong winds do not supply a sufficient cause; for then grooves would form the rule and not the exception.
On the whole it appears to me safe to conclude that these rock basins, whether wholly or partially natural or artificial, have been appropriated to the worship of the Druids. They furnish the means by which they could offer their sacrifices and perform their ablutions.* They would also suffice for baptism, and preserve the rain or the dew from being polluted by touching our “mother earth.” The Tolmen on the neighbouring hills, as noticed in Watson's History of Halifax, pp. 27-36, may be taken as an additional reason for associating Druidical worship with such remains. These contain small basins on their summits which differ in no respect from those previously enumerated. They have therefore most probably been used for similar purposes.
The subject may now be left to the judgment of the reader. He has most of the evidence for and against within his reach; and whether my conclusions be adopted or rejected, he will probably not be displeased to find a record of these remains in the Transactions of this Society. “ wrought by the attrition of pebbles a few rock basons on the sides; and, in the
course of thousands of years, it bas excavated a foot or two from the rock at " the point of its projection." (History of Whalley, 3rd edition, London, 1818,
• Mr. King, in the Reader for 17th December, 1864, thus speaks of the “ mysterious megalithic monuments of New Grange and Dowth,” near the Boyne. “Instead of being sepulchral, as some imagine, I cannot but think that the “ Boyne antiquities have been erected for religious purposes, as caves wherein “ Druid priests performed their mystic rites. The huge stone basins, (one of
granite, one of sandstone, and another, broken, apparently of schist,) each “occupying one of the three recesses terminating the long entrance passages in “the New Grange mound, may have been used for sacrificial or baptismal “purposes." This opinion is in accordance with wbat is stated in the text, and adds weight to my conjectures.
THE ANCIENT BOROUGH OF OVER, CHESHIRE.
By Thomas Rigby Esq.
(READ Ist DECEMBER, 1864.)
ALMOST every village has some little history of interest attached to it. Almost every country nook has its old church, round which moss-grown gravestones are clustered, where
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
These lithic records tell us who lived and loved and laboured at the world's work long, long ago. Almost every line of railroad passes some ivy-mantled ruin that, in its prime, had armed men thronging on its embattled walls.
Old halls, amid older trees—old thatched cottages, with their narrow windows, are mutely eloquent of the past. The stories our grandfathers believed in, we only smile at; but we reverence the spinning wheel, the lace cushion, the burnished pewter plates, the carved high-backed chairs, the spindle-legged tables, the wainscoted walls and cosy "ingle nooks.” Hath not each its narrative ? These are all interesting objects of the bygone time, and a story might be made from every one of thein, could we know where to look for it.
With this feeling I have undertaken to say a few words about the ancient borough of Over in Cheshire, where I reside; and, although the notes I have collected may not be specially remarkable, they may perhaps assist some able writer to complete a record of more importance.
Over is a small towy, nearly in the centre of Cheshire. It consists of one long street, crossed at right angles by Over
Lane, which stretches as far as Winsford, and is distant about two miles from the Winsford station on the London and North-Western Railway. The Borough of Over embraces the townships of Over, Marton and Swanlow and contains about 5,000 inhabitants, who find occupation in agricultural pursuits and in the numerous extensive salt-works lying along the banks of the neighbouring River Weaver.
Over has a Mayor, who is appointed annually, and who exercises the duty of a Magistrate within the limits of the borough during his year of office; but, unlike other boroughs, it has no Councillors constituting a Corporation, nor does it return any member to Parliament. It is mentioned in Domesday Book, and is there spelt “ Ovre" and reported as a borough by prescription or by immemorial custom; but it probably attained its position amongst English boroughs by special charter. “Houses joined together, or rows of houses "close to each other" might be the foundation of it; but, without the protection of the King or of some neighbouring Baron, the trade of the inhabitants would be liable to the raids of neighbouring foragers, who would rob and lay waste without let or hindrance except for the resistance of individuals in defence of their own. In those days "might gave right;"
The good old rule, the simple plan,
The state of the people of Darnhall, a township adjoining Over, was a complete serfdom or vassalage to the monastery of Vale Royal adjacent. They could not marry their daughters out of the manor without permission. The monastery tenants had to resort to the abbey mills and pay pasturage for their hogs. When any native died, the Abbot became entitled to "his pigs “and capons, his horses at grass, his domestic horse, his bees, “bis pork, his linen and woollen clothes, his money in gold “ and silver and his vessels of brass." Other exactions were