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From the foregoing account it would appear probable that these tumuli were the burial places of the ancient Britons: the urns found being of the same description, and placed in a like position to those usually found, and which have always been believed to belong to this period; the mode of burial, the incinerated bones, and the shape of the tumuli, all tend to confirm this opinion.
ON IRISH ANTIQUITIES.
BY H. SYER CUMING, ESQ.
ALTHOUGH the spade, the pickaxe, and the ploughshare are continually bringing antiquities to light in Ireland, it is but rarely that those who reside on this side of St. George's Channel have an opportunity of examining anything like a series of Irish relics. To the kind exertions of our associate, Mr. O'Connor, we are now, however, enabled to inspect a small, but highly interesting, assemblage of articles found at different times in various parts of the island. The collection comprises relics of all epochs, from the earliest ages down to the close of the seventeenth century; and we therefore purpose considering them in chronological order, beginning with those belonging to the stone period. In this primeval age, every kind of arms, implement, or ornament, was of the most simple construction, and formed invariably of some natural substance. The mauls and axes are principally wrought of flint, porphyry, and basalt, and the blades of knives, chisels, daggers, spears, and arrows, are generally of flint or other silicious stone; although some of these arms are also formed of bone and horn, of which substances pins and needles were likewise made. And the neck of the rude savage was decked with strings of naturally perforated pebbles, bits of amber and bone, or shells pierced by
rubbing their sides upon a stone.1 Another peculiarity which distinguishes the stone period from the succeeding one of bronze is, that the body of the deceased was inhumed entire, whilst in the bronze period the custom of cremation extensively prevailed. The specimens in the collection representing this simple and unartificial age, consist of three celts as they are most absurdly called. Two of them are axe-blades, of blackish-green basalt, and offer no striking difference in character from examples discovered in other parts of the Britannic islands. The obtuse end of the third specimen is broken off, but from the form of the keen edge, nearly parallel sides, and flattened surfaces, it may possibly be the remains of an adze blade; it is formed of light-coloured indurated clay slate.
The primeval history of Ireland, like that of most nations, is overshadowed with doubt, mystery, and fable; but the national annals speak of the Firbolgs or Belge as being among the earliest inhabitants of the country, and of their conquest by the Tuatha de Danans from North Britain. Other races, however, are mentioned as colonists at a far remote period, such, for instance, as the Fomorians or sea-champions from Africa, and the Nemedians, who are stated to have been utterly annihilated by the former. Whether the arms and implements belonging to the socalled stone period are the work of one or any of these races, or of some still earlier and unrecorded tribes, is a curious question still open for inquiry. Our late associate, sir William Betham, considered them as the productions of the Firbolgs and Tuatha de Danans; and with this opinion I feel greatly inclined to coincide. But, at some very distant period, a powerful and highly cultivated race not only visited but planted colonies in Ireland; bringing with them a rich, copious, and truly poetic language; the sciences of music and navigation, a knowledge of metallurgy, the art of working and refining the base and precious ores, of manufacturing glass, and of constructing buildings which resemble the Cyclopean works upon the shores and islands of the Mediterranean Sea; introducing an annular currency of gold, silver, and bronze, in the place of the more primitive barter; and laid the foundation of a civilization, which long made Ireland great and 1 Such a necklace was found in the cromlech in the Phoenix park, Dublin.
illustrious among the nations of the west. This race was doubtlessly of eastern origin, and many circumstances combine to lead to a belief that they were a Celtic branch of the Phoenician family, and the same people who are known in Irish story as the Fenians, or Phenians, and with whom and the Danonians there long subsisted a deadly feud. From the irruption of this foreign and civilizing element into Ireland, may be dated the commencement of the bronze or Celtic period, a period of much longer duration in Ireland than in any other country. To this period belong the torcs, bracelets, and golden ornaments, the vessels and utensils of gold and bronze, and brazen trumpets,1 arms, and implements, which are so profusely scattered over the country. The weapons of this period consist of swords, daggers, spears, and javelins, of different forms and sizes; axes and arrows, clubs with their heads bristling with formidable spikes, and probably military flails, the swingels of which were provided with dentated ferrules. Broad, short scythe-blades were also employed during the bronze period, and were either attached to the wheels of the war-chariot, or else mounted upon staves, to be used as martel-formed battle-axes. Of bronze swords, there are several varieties found in Ireland. The rarest are the quadrangular-bladed rapiers, of which an example was exhibited to the Association some few years back by Mr. Crofton Croker. The next in point of scarcity have blades broad next the hilt, and tapering to a point, like the daggers found in the Thames, Derbyshire, and Dorsetshire, figured in the Journal (i, 311; ii, 93, 235; and vii, 217). The most common type is the leaf-shaped sword, of which a representation is given in the Journal (i, 255), from an original found in county Tyrone. The swords generally measure about a cubit in length, but some are of a greater length, and would appear to have been intended for the use of cavalry and charioteers; they all have remarkably small hilts, which is also the case with the modern leafshaped swords of Africa. The wood, horn, or ivory, with which the grips were encased, have in almost every instance
1 For an account of Irish trumpets, see Journal, v, 125.
2 The bronze head of a crannibh, or war-club, found in Roscommon, is figured in the Dublin Penny Journal, ii, 20; and in our Journal, i, 249, is given another example, discovered in County Down.
perished, but the rivets used in attaching the casings are frequently remaining in the tangs. The perfect swords are usually met with in bogs, or on the site of some ancient earthwork; but those discovered in barrows are almost universally broken in two or more pieces, as if to indicate that the trusty blade was no longer of value, since the brave spirit of the warrior had quitted its earthly tenement. We have now before us an example of the leaf-shaped cliabh, or sword, which has been broken into pieces, and which once doubtless formed part of a sepulchral deposit. It was discovered at Athenry, county Galway. Generally speaking, the blades of the skeans, or daggers, are wider in proportion than those of the swords. They occur of the broad taper form, and also of the leaf-shape. Some have sockets for the reception of hilts of wood or horn, while others have had their tangs covered with some material. Froissart (c. 24) states, upon the authority of Henry Christall, that the Irish, in the time of Richard II, had pointed knives with broad blades, sharp on both sides, like a dart-head; and so attached were the Irish to this national weapon, that the rebels under lord Edward Fitzgerald, in 1800, were actually armed with skeans of iron made according to the ancient type. One of these daggers, numbered 819, is preserved in the Meyrick collection at Goodrich court.
The brazen spears and lances next claim our notice. These may be divided into two groups: the first having flat blades, which were fixed into notches, at the broad, thin end of the staves; the second having sockets, into which the shafts were driven, and which frequently extended some distance up the centre of the blade. Some of the sockets are perforated for nails, others have lateral loops. The blades are both solid (like that found in Tyrone, given in the Journal, i, 255), and pierced or eyed, and they are occasionally decorated with chevron and other patterns, in a similar way to the spear-head found in Yorkshire, figured in the Journal, v, 349. Four examples of spear and lance heads are now before us. The first is a specimen of the thin, flat-bladed variety, four inches and seven-eighths in length, which resembles the earliest form of the British gwaew-fon, as represented in our Journal, i, 311, fig. 1, from an original discovered at Maidenhead. All the other examples are socketed, and two of them have