Page images

tions of divine power, to which each country thought itself moft obliged; a cording to the attributes of the Numen to which each house or family was dedicated ; that neither Greeks nor Romans knew how to define them, or what to call them.'

'Whatever, or whosoever these Trina Numina were, to: whom, at their feasts, they made the three libations, Mercury, that is the deity whom the Romans called Mercury, was always one. Plutarch and Macrobius both agree, that this Mercury was the same as the sun ; that Ohris was the fun; that Bacchus or Liber were the same. And in the ancient Greek coins, especially in those of the Rhodians, we see there the sun represented by a caput pinnatum, and crowned with the serpentine diadem exactly as we see here, in the ornament of this crystal cup, Mercury represented. Again ; Mercury, who is said in the Roman Faití to be the father of the Lares, is always found with these Gemelli, and with them forms the Trina Numina, which are the Dii Penates, vel Præstites.

Lares, Geniumque ducis, qui tradidit illos,

Urbs habet: et vici Numina trina colunt." Mercury, according to these various and indecisive ideas of him, was called by a multitude of names. *525 yabor is' jrW90pics connas pxoe, as Aristophanes, in his Plutus, says of Mer. cury: and Mercury, under some of these names, was always as one of the Dii Penates, as a odos revxoos, one of the objects 10 whom the ceremony of the libations was performed.'

After reciting the custom of drinking observed by the Grecks and Romans, Mr. Pownall proceeds to describe the cup which is the object of attention. We are informed that, according to an exact investigation, it contans 5657 grains, Troy weight. It has a kind of spout, so formed as a lip, that the liquor, when poured out, ran between this lip and the circumference of the edge of the cup, in a manner suited to the performing a libation, but not to the act of drinking out of it. This lip is described as a caput pinnatum, crowned with a serpentine diadem ; having a young, unbearded coun. tenance, of an open and chearful, but firm and keady afpe&; circumstances which are urged as a proof that the figure was fymbolical of Mercury. From the above mentioned and other observations, Mr. Pownall draws the following conclufion :

· That this sort of cup was one of the ancient pocula appropriated to the ceremony of the libation, and particularly consecrated to that made to Mercury, and the two Lares, as the Trina Numina ; to the Dii Penates : that, therefore, this crystal cup, if antique, is one of the most curious and most valu. able pieces of antiquity that is at this time existing in Europe.'

Art. XXII. Account of Antiquities discovered in the neighbourhood of Bagshot, in July 1783,

Art, 4

Art. XXIII. Defcription of a Roman Hypocauit, discovered near Brecknock. By Mr. Charles Hay.

Art. XXIV. Obfervations on the Chariots of the ancient Britons. By the Rev, Mr. Pegge. These Observations being thort, and on a subject interetting to curiosity, we fhall insert the whole.

• Besides the common mistake of the annalists and historians in regard to this paffage in Juvenal,

" Regem aliquem capies, aut de temone Britanno Excidet Arviragus"

Juvenal iv. 126. By taking Arviragus for the proper name of a person, and not of an officer ; the words of the satirist are memorable in another respect, as serving to inform us, by the word temone, of a fingular mode of fighting amongst the Britons; as if by leaving his carriage; and running upon the pole, the combatant from thence, or from the yoke, engaged the enemy, as long as he thought prudent and convenient, and then retreated back into the body of the vehicle. And this indeed appears to be the fact, this inethod of engaging being expressly described in Cæsar's Commentaries, lib. iv. c. 29. where the words are,

ac tantum uso quotidiano et exercitatione efficiunt, ut in de clivi ac præcipiti loco incitatos equos sustinere, et brevi mode. rari ac flectere, et per temonem percurre, et in jugo infiftere, et inde se in currus citiflimè recipere consueverint," passages of the poet and the historian very remarkably illuftrate one another.

appears then from this Itate of things, that the esseda of the Britons and Gauls muft have been formed very low in the fore part, and not at all like what the bodies of the chariots of the ancients are represented to have been. Mr. Pownall says,

the front of the body was made breaft high, and rounded like a fhield, so as to answer to the driver the purpose of that defence, and was for that reason called koridoxn, or the field part. The fides of the chariot Noped away backwards almost to the bottom, or floor of the body, but differently, and by various lines in different bodies." Now it is impossible this hould be the figure of the body of the British effeda, and therefore, with all due deference to the gentleman's opinion, a dir, ţinction should be made between the military chariots used at Troy, vor in Greece, or elsewhere, and those employed by our Britons, which must of necessity have been of a very different figure.

In regard to the warrior's running on the pole, it is no ob jection with me that the body of the casriage in the East was low, even as low as Mr. Pownall represents it, because the construction here in Britain might be materially different in that respect from that used anciently there; and 2dly, that though this island abounded in those times with horses, so that they were an article of commerce and exportation in the opinion of

The two

[ocr errors]

Dr. Musgrave, yet there is all the reason in the world to believe, ihey were then but of a diminutive fize, the breed heing afterwards greatly improved by our intercourse with the continent. I am fully persuaded, for these reasons, that with a small elevation in the vehicle, and with hories of a low measurement, a conibatant might traverle the pole of his carriage, forwards and backwards, almoit upon a level.'

Art. XXV. Remarks on some ancient Musical Instruments mentioned in Le Roman de la Rose. By the Rev. John Bowie.

Art. XXVI. Some Account of the Burial-places of the ancient Tartars. By the Rev. William Tooke, Chaplain to the Englith Factory at St. Petersburg, -Of these fepulchres, which are seen in the southern parts of Ruflia and Siberia, some are perfect tumuli, raised to an enormous height; while others are almost level with the ground. Some of them are encompassed with a square wall of large quarry stones placed in an erect position. Others are covered only with a small heap of flones; or they are in the form of tumuli adorned with stones at top.

Some are lined with brick, and vaulted over; others are only pits or common graves. In some the earth is excavated several fathoms deep; others, especially those which are topped by a lofty tumulus, are only dug of a depth sufficient for covering the body.

It is not a little surprising, that though some of these sepulchres are erected with large quarry.ftones, there is not, in all the neighbouring country, so much as a rock to be seen. Mr. Tooke, therefore, observes, that the stones must have been transported thither from immense distances, by the moft aftonishing efforts of labour, as the inhabitants of those parts have no idea of a machine in'any degree adequate to the purpose.

Skeletons of horses are often found in those abodes of the dead ; a circumstance from which Mr. Tocke juftly infers, that the same superstitious opinions which prevail among some nations of the East, were likewise held by this ancient people.

Some of the fepulchres are rich, especially thofe on the banks of the Volga, the Tobol, the Irtish, and the Cab; but in others nothing of value is to be found.

Art. XXVII. Description of an ancient Caftle at Rouen in Normandy, called Le Château du Vieux Palais, built by Henry V. king of England. By Edmund Turner, Jun. Efq.

Art. XXVIII. An Account of certain remarkabte Pits or Caverns in the Earth, in the County of Berks. By the Hon. Daines Barrington.- These pits are fituated about half a mile west from Little Coxwell, and are known by the name of



Cole's Pits. Mr. Barrington, after producing strong arguments to preclude any iupposition that these pits had been dug for the purpose of obtaining coal, brick, itone, marle, or any other materials, presents us with the following conjecture.

• I conceive then, says he, this area to have been a considerable city of the Britons in the time of the earliest inhabitants of this island, which at an average of five souls (to be accommodated in each pit) would amount to nearly 400.

• A more proper spot for the refidence of uncivilized people could not have been pitched upon, as the pits consist entirely of the drieit land, and are fituated in the sich vale of Whitehorse..

Perhaps many may start at this idea, which I must admit to be rather new and uncommon; but we shall find that the necesity of nearly the same habitations hath been experienced by the early inhabitants of most countries, and still continues in some, where no refinements of life have been introduced:

• The Romans, ambitious as they were of extensive empire, nerer penetrated into parts so entirely barbarous; for Great Britain, at the time of Cæsar's invasion, was by no means in this state ; and if I am required to fix the æra of the supposed British town, which I have been describing, I can only do it negatively, by dating it prior to the stupendous structure of Stonehenge.

• Within the limits of the Roman empire, however, Strabo states, that in the island of Ægina, the trouble of making bricks, the inhabitants used to live in hollows, which they dug under ground; and this custom till prevails in some parts of Poland, where dwellings of that sort are termed lim-anks.

• Where the country is rocky indeed, caves are sometimes used by barbarians for habitations; and many of these are to be found both in Malta and Minorca.

• Virgil again, taking it probably from fome Greek writer who lived noi tar distant from the Palus Mæotis, thus expresses himself with regard tu the manner in which the inhabitants spent their winter :

" Ipfi in defossis fpecubus, secura sub altâ

Georgic, iii. 376.
But to come nearer home-

• Leland, in his Itinerary, gives us the following account of what he had observed in that range of hills in Carmarthenfhire, which are generally termed the Black Mountains.

There be a great number of pites made with hande, large like a bowle, and narrow at the bottom, overgrowne in the (warte with fine grasse, and be scattered here and there about the quarter where the head of Kenner River riseth, that cummeth by Carie Kennen, and lumme of these will receive a hunderith menne."

• I can

• I cannot but conceive that these pits, thus described by Leland, were dug by the aborigines of this island for the pure pose of habitations, as it is believed that there are no mines at present of any kind in this part of the Black Mountain, much less could they have been excavated for this purpose before the time of Leland.

• Fortunately, however, for the conjecture I have made upon this occasion, though not so for their own comforts, there are now inhabitants of Kamskarka, who are as little civilized as our aboriginal ancellors, and who make use of the fame excavations for the same purpose.'

The ingenious author, after supporting his conjecture by fimilar examples, proceeds to solve the question, that if these pits really formed a British town, why do not we find more of them in different parts of the island ?

« To this I answer, says he, that those which I have given an account of to the Society, probably were considered as the London of those rude times, for it is fairly to be inferred from more than fourteen acres having been thus excavated, that upwards of thirteen hundred inhabitants lived in this ancient metropolis.

• All barbarous and uncultivated countries are most thinly peopled; and thirteen hundred souls, living contiguously within fuch a space, are for such times perhaps a greater number for the then capital of this island, than eight hundred thousand are for the prefent.

• In other instances, four or five dens were sufficient to conftitute a village, which when they happen to be stumbled upon from having not been filled up for the purposes of cultivation, are commonly attributed to the digging for ftone, clay, or other Fosfile material,

• The truth, however, is, that few think about the cause of what they nioft commonly meet with ; nor is this large mass of pits (covering fourteen acres of ground) noticed by any one in the neighbourhood, but for its lometimes harbouring rabbits.

• That there are others very similar in the Black Mountains of Carmarthenfuire, appears by what I have already cited from Leland's Itinerary; and I am informed that there are more which lie in Somersethire, between Meere and Wincanton, being called the Pen-Pirts. I have little doubt, therefore, but f this my conjecture Tould be considered as well founded, many other such excavations will be heard of, especially if the extent of ground covered with them is large, because the expence of filling them up would amount to so much, that it never could answer for cultivation.

• Ithall conclude what I have to offer to the Society on this head by observing, that the Coxwell pits are precisely in the situation which must have been convenient for such a fubterra.


« PreviousContinue »