The Antiquity of Man
by Charles Lyell
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Outside of the great slab of stone forming the door, not one human bone occurred; inside of it there were found, mixed with loose soil, the remains of as many as seventeen human individuals, besides some works of art and bones of animals. We know nothing of the arrangement of these bones when they were first broken into. M. Lartet inferred at first that the bodies were bent down upon themselves in a squatting attitude, a posture known to have been adopted in most of the sepulchres of primitive times; and he has so represented them in his restoration of the cave: but this opinion he has since retracted. His artist also has inadvertently, in the same drawing, delineated the arched grotto as if it were shaped very regularly and smoothly, like a finished piece of masonry, whereas the surface was in truth as uneven and irregular as are the roofs of all natural grottos.

There was no stalagmite in the grotto, and M. Lartet, an experienced investigator of ossiferous caverns in the south of France, came to the conclusion that all the bones and soil found in the inside were artificially introduced. The substratum b, Figure 25, which remained after the skeletons had been removed, was about 2 feet thick. In it were found about ten detached human bones, including a molar tooth; and M. Delesse ascertained by careful analysis of one of these, as well as of the bones of a rhinoceros, bear, and some other extinct animals, that they all contained precisely the same proportion of nitrogen, or had lost an equal amount of their animal matter. My friend Mr. Evans, before cited, has suggested to me that such a fact, taken alone, may not be conclusive in favour of the equal antiquity of the human and other remains. No doubt, had the human skeletons been found to contain more gelatine than those of the extinct mammalia, it would have shown that they were the more modern of the two; but it is possible that after a bone has gone on losing its animal matter up to a certain point, it may then part with no more so long as it continues enveloped in the same matrix. If this be so, it follows that bones of very different degrees of antiquity, after they have lain for many thousands of years in a particular soil, may all have reached long ago the maximum of decomposition attainable in such a matrix. In the present case, however, the proof of the contemporaneousness of Man and the extinct animals does not depend simply on the identity of their mineral condition. The chemical analysis of M. Delesse is only a fact in corroboration of a great mass of other evidence.

Mixed with the human bones inside the grotto first removed by Bonnemaison, were eighteen small, round, and flat plates of a white shelly substance, made of some species of cockle (Cardium), pierced through the middle as if for being strung into a bracelet. In the substratum also in the interior examined by M. Lartet was found the tusk of a young Ursus spelaeus, the crown of which had been stripped of its enamel, and which had been carved perhaps in imitation of the head of a bird. It was perforated lengthwise as if for suspension as an ornament or amulet. A flint knife also was found in the interior which had evidently never been used; in this respect, unlike the numerous worn specimens found outside, so that it is conjectured that it may, like other associated works of art, have been placed there as part of the funeral ceremonies.

A few teeth of the cave-lion, Felis spelaea, and two tusks of the wild boar, also found in the interior, were memorials perhaps of the chase. No remains of the same animals were met with among the external relics.

On the whole, the bones of animals inside the vault offer a remarkable contrast to those of the exterior, being all entire and uninjured, none of them broken, gnawed, half-eaten, scraped, or burnt like those lying among the ashes on the other side of the great slab which formed the portal. The bones of the interior seem to have been clothed with their flesh when buried in the layer of loose soil strewed over the floor. In confirmation of this idea, many bones of the skeleton were often observed to be in juxtaposition, and in one spot all the bones of the leg of an Ursus spelaeus were lying together uninjured. Add to this, the entire absence in the interior of cinders and charcoal, and we can scarcely doubt that we have here an example of an ancient place of sepulture, closed at the opening so effectually against the hyaenas or other carnivora that no marks of their teeth appear on any of the bones, whether human or brute.

John Carver, in his travels in the interior of North America in a 1766-68 (chapter 15.), gave a minute account of the funeral rites of an Indian tribe which inhabited the country now called Iowa, at the junction of the St. Peter's River with the Mississippi; and Schiller, in his famous "Nadowessische Todtenklage," has faithfully embodied in a poetic dirge all the characteristic features of the ceremonies so graphically described by the English traveller, not omitting the many funeral gifts which, we are told, were placed "in a cave" with the bodies of the dead. The lines beginning, "Bringet her die letzten Gaben," have been thus translated, truthfully, and with all the spirit of the original, by Sir E. L. Bulwer*:—

"Here bring the last gifts!—and with these The last lament be said; Let all that pleased, and yet may please, Be buried with the dead.

"Beneath his head the hatchet hide, That he so stoutly swung; And place the bear's fat haunch beside— The journey hence is long!

"And let the knife new sharpened be That on the battle-day Shore with quick strokes—he took but three— The foeman's scalp away!

"The paints that warriors love to use, Place here within his hand, That he may shine with ruddy hues Amidst the spirit-land."

(* "Poems and Ballads of Schiller.")

If we accept M. Lartet's interpretation of the ossiferous deposits of Aurignac, both inside and outside the grotto, they add nothing to the palaeontological evidence in favour of Man's antiquity, for we have seen all the same mammalia associated elsewhere with flint implements, and some species, such as the Elephas antiquus, Rhinoceros hemitoechus, and Hippopotamus major, missing here, have been met with in other places. An argument, however, having an opposite leaning may perhaps be founded on the phenomena of Aurignac. It may—indeed it has been said, that they imply that some of the extinct mammalia survived nearly to our times:

First—Because of the modern style of the works of art at Aurignac.

Secondly—Because of the absence of any signs of change in the physical geography of the country since the cave was used for a place of sepulture.

In reference to the first of these propositions, the utensils, it is said, of bone and stone indicate a more advanced state of the arts than the flint implements of Abbeville and Amiens. M. Lartet, however, is of opinion that they do not, and thinks that we have no right to assume that the fabricators of the various spear-headed and other tools of the Valley of the Somme possessed no bone instruments or ornaments resembling those discovered at Aurignac. These last, moreover, he regards as extremely rude in comparison with others of the stone period in France, which can be proved palaeontologically, at least by strong negative evidence, to be of subsequent date. Thus, for example, at Savigne, near Civray, in the department of Vienne, there is a cave in which there are no extinct mammalia, but where remains of the reindeer abound. The works of art of the stone period found there indicate considerable progress in skill beyond that attested by the objects found in the Aurignac grotto. Among the Savigne articles, there is the bone of a stag, on which figures of two animals, apparently meant for deer, are engraved in outline, as if by a sharp-pointed flint. In another cave, that of Massat, in the department of Ariege, which M. Lartet ascribes to the period of the aurochs, a quadruped which survived the reindeer in the south of France, there are bone instruments of a still more advanced state of the arts, as, for example, barbed arrows with a small canal in each, believed to have served for the insertion of poison; also a needle of bird's bone, finely shaped, with an eye or perforation at one end, and a stag's horn, on which is carved a representation of a bear's head, and a hole at one end as if for suspending it. In this figure we see, says M. Lartet, what may perhaps be the earliest known example of lines used to express shading.

The fauna of the aurochs (Bison europaeus) agrees with that of the earlier lake dwellings in Switzerland, in which hitherto the reindeer is wanting; whereas the reindeer has been found in a Swiss cave, in Mont Saleve, supposed by Lartet to be more ancient than the lake dwellings.

According to this view, the mammalian fauna has undergone at least two fluctuations since the remains of some extinct quadrupeds were eaten, and others buried as funeral gifts in the sepulchral vault of Aurignac.

As to the absence of any marked changes in the physical configuration of the district since the same grotto was a place of sepulture, we must remember that it is the normal state of the earth's surface to be undergoing great alterations in one place, while other areas, often in close proximity, remain for ages without any modification. In one region, rivers are deepening and widening their channels, or the waves of the sea are undermining cliffs, or the land is sinking beneath or rising above the waters, century after century, or the volcano is pouring forth torrents of lava or showers of ashes; while, in tracts hard by, the ancient forest, or extensive heath, or the splendid city continue scatheless and motionless. Had the talus which concealed from view the ancient hearth with its cinders and the massive stone portal of the Aurignac grotto escaped all human interference for thousands of years to come, there is no reason to suppose that the small stream at the foot of the hill of Fajoles would have undermined it. At the end of a long period the only alteration might have been the thickening of the talus which protected the loose cinders and bones from waste. We behold in many a valley of Auvergne, within 50 feet of the present river channel, a volcanic cone of loose ashes, with a crater at its summit, from which powerful currents of basaltic lava have poured, usurping the ancient bed of the torrent. By the action of the stream, in the course of ages, vast masses of the hard columnar basalt have been removed, pillar after pillar, and much vesicular lava, as in the case, for example, of the Puy Rouge, near Chalucet, and of the Puy de Tartaret, near Nechers.* (* Scrope's "Volcanoes of Central France" 1858 page 97.) The rivers have even in some cases, as the Sioule, near Chalucet, cut through not only the basalt which dispossessed them of their ancient channels, but have actually eaten 50 feet into the subjacent gneiss; yet the cone, an incoherent heap of scoriae and spongy ejectamenta, stands unmolested. Had the waters once risen, even for a day, so high as to reach the level of the base of one of these cones—had there been a single flood 50 or 60 feet in height since the last eruption occurred, a great part of these volcanoes must inevitably have been swept away as readily as all traces of the layer of cinders; and the accompanying bones would have been obliterated by the Rodes near Aurignac, had it risen, since the days of the mammoth, rhinoceros, and cave-bear, 50 feet above its present level.

The Aurignac cave adds no new species to the list of extinct quadrupeds, which we have elsewhere, and by independent evidence, ascertained to have once flourished contemporaneously with Man. But if the fossil memorials have been correctly interpreted—if we have here before us at the northern base of the Pyrenees a sepulchral vault with skeletons of human beings, consigned by friends and relatives to their last resting-place—if we have also at the portal of the tomb the relics of funeral feasts, and within it indications of viands destined for the use of the departed on their way to a land of spirits; while among the funeral gifts are weapons wherewith in other fields to chase the gigantic deer, the cave-lion, the cave-bear, and woolly rhinoceros—we have at last succeeded in tracing back the sacred rites of burial, and, more interesting still, a belief in a future state, to times long anterior to those of history and tradition. Rude and superstitious as may have been the savage of that remote era, he still deserved, by cherishing hopes of a hereafter, the epithet of "noble," which Dryden gave to what he seems to have pictured to himself as the primitive condition of our race,

"as Nature first made Man When wild in woods the noble savage ran."* (* "Siege of Granada" Part 1 Act 1 Scene 1.)



Question as to the Authenticity of the Fossil Man of Denise, near Le Puy-en-Velay, considered. Antiquity of the Human Race implied by that Fossil. Successive Periods of Volcanic Action in Central France. With what Changes in the Mammalian Fauna they correspond. The Elephas meridionalis anterior in Time to the Implement-bearing Gravel of St. Acheul. Authenticity of the Human Fossil of Natchez on the Mississippi discussed. The Natchez Deposit, containing Bones of Mastodon and Megalonyx, probably not older than the Flint Implements of St. Acheul.

Among the fossil remains of the human species supposed to have claims to high antiquity, and which have for many years attracted attention, two of the most prominent examples are:—

First—"The fossil man of Denise," comprising the remains of more than one skeleton, found in a volcanic breccia near the town of Le Puy-en-Velay, in Central France.

Secondly—The fossil human bone of Natchez, on the Mississippi, supposed to have been derived from a deposit containing remains of Mastodon and Megalonyx. Having carefully examined the sites of both of these celebrated fossils, I shall consider in this chapter the nature of the evidence on which the remote date of their entombment is inferred.


An account of the fossil remains, so called, was first published in 1844 by M. Aymard of Le Puy, a writer of deservedly high authority both as a palaeontologist and archaeologist.* (* "Bulletin de la Societe Geologique de France" 1844, 1845, 1847.) M. Pictet, after visiting Le Puy and investigating the site of the alleged discovery, was satisfied that the fossil bones belonged to the period of the last volcanic eruptions of Velay; but expressly stated in his important treatise on palaeontology that this conclusion, though it might imply that Man had co-existed with the extinct elephant, did not draw with it the admission that the human race was anterior in date to the filling of the caverns of France and Belgium with the bones of extinct mammalia.* (* "Traite de Paleontologie" volume 1 1853 page 152.)

At a meeting of the "Scientific Congress" of France, held at Le Puy in 1856, the question of the age of the Denise fossil bones was fully gone into, and in the report of their proceedings published in that year, the opinions of some of the most skilful osteologists respecting the point in controversy are recorded. The late Abbe Croizet, a most experienced collector of fossil bones in the volcanic regions of Central France, and an able naturalist, and the late M. Laurillard, of Paris, who assisted Cuvier in modelling many fossil bones, and in the arrangement of the museum of the Jardin, declared their opinion that the specimen preserved in the museum of Le Puy is no counterfeit. They believed the human bones to have been enveloped by natural causes in the tufaceous matrix in which we now see them.

In the year 1859, Professor Hebert and M. Lartet visited Le Puy, expressly to investigate the same specimen, and to inquire into the authenticity of the bones and their geological age. Later in the same year, I went myself to Le Puy, having the same object in view, and had the good fortune to meet there my friend Mr. Poulett Scrope, with whom I examined the Montagne de Denise, where a peasant related to us how he had dug out the specimen with his own hands and in his own vineyard, not far from the summit of the volcano. I employed a labourer to make under his directions some fresh excavations, following up those which had been made a month earlier by MM. Hebert and Lartet, in the hope of verifying the true position of the fossils, but all of us without success. We failed even to find in situ any exact counterpart of the stone of the Le Puy Museum.

The osseous remains of that specimen consist of a frontal and some other parts of the skull, including the upper jaw with teeth, both of an adult and young individual; also a radius, some lumbar vertebrae, and some metatarsal bones. They are all embedded in a light porous tuff, resembling in colour and mineral composition the ejectamenta of several of the latest eruptions of Denise. But none of the bones penetrate into another part of the same specimen, which consists of a more compact rock thickly laminated. Nevertheless, I agree with the Abbe Croizet and M. Aymard, that it is not conceivable even that the less coherent part of the museum Specimen which envelopes the human bones should have been artificially put together, whatever may have been the origin of certain other slabs of tuff which were afterwards sold as coming from the same place, and which also contained human remains. Whether some of these were spurious or not is a question more difficult to decide. One of them, now in the possession of M. Pichot-Dumazel, an advocate of Le Puy, is suspected of having had some plaster of Paris introduced into it to bind the bones more firmly together in the loose volcanic tuff. I was assured that a dealer in objects of natural history at Le Puy had been in the habit of occasionally securing the cohesion in that manner of fragments of broken bones, and the juxtaposition of uninjured ones found free and detachable in loose volcanic tuffs. From this to the fabrication of a factitious human fossil was, it is suggested, but a short step. But in reference to M. Pichot's specimen, an expert anatomist remarked to me that it would far exceed the skill, whether of the peasant who owned the vineyard or of the dealer above mentioned, to put together in their true position all the thirty-eight bones of the hand and fingers, or the sixteen of the wrist, without making any mistake, and especially without mixing those of the right with the homologous bones of the left hand, assuming that they had brought bones, from some other spot, and then artificially introduced them into a mixture of volcanic tuff and plaster of Paris.

Granting, however, that the high prices given for "human fossils" at Le Puy may have led to the perpetration of some frauds, it is still an interesting question to consider whether the admission of the genuineness of a single fossil, such as that now in the museum at Le Puy, would lead us to assign a higher antiquity to the existence of Man in France than is deducible from many other facts explained in the last seven chapters. In reference to this point, I may observe that although I was not able to fix with precision the exact bed in the volcanic mountain from which the rock containing the human bones was taken, M. Felix Robert has, nevertheless, after studying "the volcanic alluviums" of Denise, ascertained that, on the side of Cheyrac and the village of Malouteyre, blocks of tuff frequently occur exactly like the one in the museum. That tuff he considers a product of the latest eruption of the volcano. In it have been found the remains of Hyaena spelaea and Hippopotamus major. The eruptions of steam and gaseous matter which burst forth from the crater of Denise broke through laminated Tertiary clays, small pieces of which, some of them scarcely altered, others half converted into scoriae, were cast out in abundance, while other portions must have been in a state of argillaceous mud. Showers of such materials would be styled by the Neapolitans "aqueous lava" or "lava d'aqua," and we may well suppose that some human individuals, if any existed, would, together with wild animals, be occasionally overwhelmed in these tuffs. From near the place on the mountain whence the block with human bones now in the museum is said to have come, a stream of lava, well marked by its tabular structure, flowed down the flanks of the hill, within a few feet of the alluvial plain of the Borne, a small tributary of the Loire, on the opposite bank of which stands the town of Le Puy. Its continuous extension to so low a level clearly shows that the valley had already been deepened to within a few feet of its present depth at the time of the flowing of the lava.

We know that the alluvium of the same district, having a similar relation to the present geographical outline of the valleys, is of Pleistocene date, for it contains around Le Puy the bones of Elephas primigenius and Rhinoceros tichorhinus; and this affords us a palaeontological test of the age of the human skeleton of Denise, if the latter be assumed to be coeval with the lava stream above referred to.

It is important to dwell on this point, because some geologists have felt disinclined to believe in the genuineness of the "fossil man of Denise," on the ground that, if conceded, it would imply that the human race was contemporary with an older fauna, or that of the Elephas meridionalis. Such a fauna is found fossil in another layer of tuff covering the slope of Denise, opposite to that where the museum specimen was exhumed. The quadrupeds obtained from that more ancient tuff comprise Elephas meridionalis, Hippopotamus major, Rhinoceros megarhinus, Antilope torticornis, Hyaena brevirostris, and twelve others of the genera horse, ox, stag, goat, tiger, etc., all supposed to be of extinct species. This tuff, found between Malouteyre and Polignac, M. Robert regards as the product of a much older eruption, and referable to the neighbouring Montagne de St. Anne, a volcano in a much more wasted and denuded state than Denise, and classed by M. Bertrand de Doue as of intermediate age between the ancient and modern cones of Velay.

The fauna to which Elephas meridionalis and its associates belong, can be shown to be of anterior date, in the north of France, to the flint implements of St. Acheul, by the following train of reasoning. The valley of the Seine is not only geographically contiguous to the valley of the Somme, but its ancient alluvium contains the same mammoth and other fossil species. The Eure, one of the tributaries of the Seine, in its way to join that river, flows in a valley which follows a line of fault in the Chalk; and this valley is seen to be comparatively modern, because it intersects at St. Prest, 4 miles below Chartres, an older valley belonging to an anterior system of drainage, which has been filled by a more ancient fluviatile alluvium, consisting of sand and gravel, 90 feet thick. I have examined the site of this older drift, and the fossils have been determined by Dr. Falconer. They comprise Elephas meridionalis, a species of rhinoceros (not R. tichorhinus), and other mammalia differing from those of the implement-bearing gravels of the Seine and Somme. The latter, belonging to the period of the mammoth, might very well have been contemporary with the modern volcanic eruptions of Central France; and we may presume, even without the aid of the Denise fossil, that Man may have witnessed these. But the tuffs and gravels in which the Elephas meridionalis are embedded were synchronous with an older epoch of volcanic action, to which the cone of St. Anne, near Le Puy, and many other mountains of M. Bertrand de Doue's middle period belong, having cones and craters, which have undergone much waste by aqueous erosion. We have as yet no proof that Man witnessed the origin of these hills of lava and scoriae of the middle phase of volcanic action.

Some surprise was expressed in 1856, by several of the assembled naturalists at Le Puy, that the skull of the "fossil man of Denise," although contemporary with the mammoth, and coeval with the last eruptions of the Le Puy volcanoes [Note 18], should be of the ordinary Caucasian or European type; but the observations of Professor Huxley on the Engis skull, cited in the fifth chapter, showing the near approach of that ancient cranium to the European standard, will help to remove this source of perplexity.


I have already alluded to Dr. Dowler's attempt to calculate, in years, the antiquity of the human skeleton said to have been buried under four cypress forests in the delta of the Mississippi, near New Orleans (see above, Chapter 3). In that case no remains of extinct animals were found associated with those of Man: but in another part of the basin of the Mississippi, a human bone, accompanied by bones of Mastodon and Megalonyx, is supposed to have been washed out of a more ancient alluvial deposit.

After visiting the spot in 1846, I described the geological position of the bones, and discussed their probable age, with a stronger bias, I must confess, as to the antecedent improbability of the contemporaneous entombment of Man and the mastodon than any geologist would now be justified in entertaining.


1. Modern alluvium of the Mississippi. 2. Loam or loess. 3, f. Eocene. 4. Cretaceous.)

In the latitude of Vicksburg, 32 degrees 50 minutes north, the broad, flat, alluvial plain of the Mississippi, a b, Figure 26, is bounded on its eastern side by a table-land d e, about 200 feet higher than the river, and extending 12 miles eastward with a gentle upward slope. This elevated platform ends abruptly at d, in a line of perpendicular cliffs or bluffs, the base of which is continually undermined by the great river.

The table-land d-e consists at Vicksburg, through which the annexed section, Figure 26, passes, of loam, overlying the Tertiary strata f-f. Between the loam and the Tertiary formation there is usually a deposit of stratified sand and gravel, containing large fragments of silicified corals and the wreck of older Palaeozoic rocks. The age of this underlying drift, which is 140 feet thick at Natchez, has not yet been determined; but it may possibly belong to the glacial period. Natchez is about 80 miles in a straight line south of Vicksburg, on the same left bank of the Mississippi. Here there is a bluff, the upper 60 feet of which consists of a continuous portion of the same calcareous loam as at Vicksburg, equally resembling the Rhenish loess in mineral character and in being sometimes barren of fossils, sometimes so full of them that bleached land-shells stand out conspicuously in relief in the vertical and weathered face of cliffs which form the banks of streams, everywhere intersecting the loam.

So numerous are the shells that I was able to collect at Natchez, in a few hours, in 1846, no less than twenty species of the genera Helix, Helicina, Pupa, Cyclostoma, Achatina, and Succinea, all identical with shells now living in the same country; and in one place I observed (as happens also occasionally in the valley of the Rhine) a passage of the loam with land-shells into an underlying marly deposit of subaqueous origin, in which shells of the genera Limnaea, Planorbis, Paludina, Physa, and Cyclas were embedded, also consisting of recent American species. Such deposits, more distinctly stratified than the loam containing land-shells, are produced, as before stated, in all great alluvial plains, where the river shifts its position, and where marshes, ponds, and lakes are formed in its old deserted channels. In this part of America, however, it may have happened that some of these lakes were caused by partial subsidences, such as were witnessed, during the earthquakes of 1811-12, around New Madrid, in the valley of the Mississippi.

Owing to the destructible nature of the yellow loam, d e, Figure 26, every streamlet flowing over the platform has cut for itself, in its way to the Mississippi, a deep gully or ravine; and this erosion has of late years, especially since 1812, proceeded with accelerated speed, ascribable in some degree to the partial clearing of the native forest, but partly also to the effects of the earthquake of 1811-12. By that convulsion the region around Natchez was rudely shaken and much fissured. One of the narrow valleys near Natchez, due to this fissuring, is now called the Mammoth Ravine. Though no less than 7 miles long, and in some parts 60 feet deep, I was assured by a resident proprietor, Colonel Wiley, that it had no existence before 1812. With its numerous ramifications, it is said to have been entirely formed since the earthquake at New Madrid. Before that event, Colonel Wiley had ploughed some of the land exactly over a spot now traversed by part of this water-course.

I satisfied myself that the ravine had been considerably enlarged and lengthened a short time before my visit, and it was then freshly undermined and undergoing constant waste. From a clayey deposit immediately below the yellow loam, bones of the Mastodon ohioticus, a species of Megalonyx, bones of the genera Equus, Bos, and others, some of extinct and others presumed to be of living species, had been detached, and had fallen to the base of the cliffs. Mingled with the rest, the pelvic bone of a man, os innominatum, was obtained by Dr. Dickeson of Natchez, in whose collection I saw it. It appeared to be quite in the same state of preservation, and was of the same black colour as the other fossils, and was believed to have come like them from a depth of about 30 feet from the surface. In my "Second Visit to America," in 1846, I suggested, as a possible explanation of this association of a human bone with remains of Mastodon and Megalonyx, that the former may possibly have been derived from the vegetable soil at the top of the cliff, whereas the remains of extinct mammalia were dislodged from a lower position, and both may have fallen into the same heap or talus at the bottom of the ravine. The pelvic bone might, I conceived, have acquired its black colour by having lain for years or centuries in a dark superficial peaty soil, common in that region. I was informed that there were many human bones, in old Indian graves in the same district, stained of as black a dye. On suggesting this hypothesis to Colonel Wiley of Natchez, I found that the same idea had already occurred to his mind. No doubt, had the pelvic bone belonged to any recent mammifer other than Man, such a theory would never have been resorted to; but so long as we have only one isolated case, and are without the testimony of a geologist who was present to behold the bone when still engaged in the matrix, and to extract it with his own hands, it is allowable to suspend our judgment as to the high antiquity of the fossil.

If, however, I am asked whether I consider the Natchez loam, with land-shells and the bones of Mastodon and Megalonyx, to be more ancient than the alluvium of the Somme containing flint implements and the remains of the mammoth and hyaena, I must declare that I do not. Both in Europe and America the land and freshwater shells accompanying the extinct pachyderms are of living species, and I could detect no shell in the Natchez loam so foreign to the basin of the Mississippi as is the Cyrena fluminalis to the rivers of modern Europe. If, therefore, the relative ages of the Picardy and Natchez alluvium were to be decided on conchological data alone, the fluvio-marine beds of Abbeville might rank as a shade older than the loess of Natchez. My reluctance in 1846 to regard the fossil human bone as of Pleistocene date arose in part from the reflection that the ancient loess of Natchez is anterior in time to the whole modern delta of the Mississippi. The table-land, d e, Figure 26, was, I believe, once a part of the original alluvial plain or delta of the great river before it was upraised. It has now risen more than 200 feet above its pristine level. After the upheaval, or during it, the Mississippi cut through the old fluviatile formation of which its bluffs are now formed, just as the Rhine has in many parts of its valley excavated a passage through the ancient loess. If I was right in calculating that the present delta of the Mississippi must have required many tens of thousands of years for its growth, and if the claims of the Natchez man to have co-existed with the mastodon are admitted, it would follow that North America was peopled by the human race many tens of thousands of years before our time. But even were that true, we could not presume, reasoning from ascertained geological data, that the Natchez bone was anterior in date to the antique flint hatchets of St. Acheul. When we ascend the Mississippi from Natchez to Vicksburg, and then enter the Ohio, we are accompanied everywhere by a continuous fringe of terraces of sand and gravel at a certain height above the alluvial plain, first of the great river, and then of its tributary. We also find that the older alluvium contains the remains of Mastodon everywhere, and in some places, as at Evansville, those of the Megalonyx. As in the valley of the Somme in Europe, those old Pleistocene gravels often occur at more than one level, and the ancient mounds of the Ohio, with their works of art, are newer than the old terraces of the mastodon period, just as the Gallo-Roman tombs of St. Acheul or the Celtic weapons of the Abbeville peat are more modern than the tools of the mammoth-bearing alluvium.

In the first place, I may remind the reader that the vertical movement of 250 feet, required to elevate the loess of Natchez to its present height, is exceeded by the upheaval which the marine stratum of Cagliari, containing pottery, has been ascertained by Count de la Marmora to have experienced. Such changes of level, therefore, have actually occurred in Europe in the human epoch, and may therefore have happened in America. In the second place, I may observe that if, since the Natchez mastodon was embedded in clay, the delta of the Mississippi has been formed, so, since the mammoth and rhinoceros of Abbeville and Amiens were enveloped in fluviatile mud and gravel, together with flint tools, a great thickness of peat has accumulated in the valley of the Somme; and antecedently to the first growth of peat, there had been time for the extinction of a great many mammalia, requiring, perhaps, a lapse of ages many times greater than that demanded for the formation of 30 feet of peat, for since the earliest growth of the latter there has been no change in the species of mammalia in Europe.

Should future researches, therefore, confirm the opinion that the Natchez man co-existed with the mastodon, it would not enhance the value of the geological evidence in favour of Man's antiquity, but merely render the delta of the Mississippi available as a chronometer, by which the lapse of Pleistocene time could be measured somewhat less vaguely than by any means of measuring which have as yet been discovered or rendered available in Europe.



Chronological Relation of the Glacial Period, and the earliest known Signs of Man's Appearance in Europe. Series of Tertiary Deposits in Norfolk and Suffolk immediately antecedent to the Glacial Period. Gradual Refrigeration of Climate proved by the Marine Shells of successive Groups. Marine Newer Pliocene Shells of Northern Character near Woodbridge. Section of the Norfolk Cliffs. Norwich Crag. Forest Bed and Fluvio-marine Strata. Fossil Plants and Mammalia of the same. Overlying Boulder Clay and Contorted Drift. Newer freshwater Formation of Mundesley compared to that of Hoxne. Great Oscillations of Level implied by the Series of Strata in the Norfolk Cliffs. Earliest known Date of Man long subsequent to the existing Fauna and Flora.

Frequent allusions have been made in the preceding pages to a period called the glacial, to which no reference is made in the Chronological Table of Formations given above (Chapter 1). It comprises a long series of ages, during which the power of cold, whether exerted by glaciers on the land, or by floating ice on the sea, was greater in the northern hemisphere, and extended to more southern latitudes than now. [Note 19.]

It often happens that when in any given region we have pushed back our geological investigations as far as we can in search of evidence of the first appearance of Man in Europe, we are stopped by arriving at what is called the "boulder clay" or "northern drift." This formation is usually quite destitute of organic remains, so that the thread of our inquiry into the history of the animate creation, as well as of man, is abruptly cut short. The interruption, however, is by no means encountered at the same point of time in every district. In the case of the Danish peat, for example, we get no farther back than the Recent period of our Chronologic Table, and then meet with the boulder clay; and it is the same in the valley of the Clyde, where the marine strata contain the ancient canoes before described (Chapter 3), and where nothing intervenes between that Recent formation and the glacial drift. But we have seen that, in the neighbourhood of Bedford the memorials of Man can be traced much farther back into the past, namely, into the Pleistocene epoch, when the human race was contemporary with the mammoth and many other species of mammalia now extinct. Nevertheless, in Bedfordshire as in Denmark, the formation next antecedent in date to that containing the human implements is still a member of the glacial drift, with its erratic blocks.

If the reader remembers what was stated in the eighth chapter as to the absence or extreme scarcity of human bones and works of art in all strata, whether marine or freshwater, even in those formed in the immediate proximity of land inhabited by millions of human beings, he will be prepared for the general dearth of human memorials in glacial formations, whether Recent, Pleistocene, or of more ancient date. If there were a few wanderers over lands covered with glaciers, or over seas infested with ice-bergs, and if a few of them left their bones or weapons in moraines or in marine drift, the chances, after the lapse of thousands of years, of a geologist meeting with one of them must be infinitesimally small.

It is natural, therefore, to encounter a gap in the regular sequence of geological monuments bearing on the past history of Man, wherever we have proofs of glacial action having prevailed with intensity, as it has done over large parts of Europe and North America, in the Pleistocene period. As we advance into more southern latitudes approaching the 50th parallel of latitude in Europe, and the 40th in North America, this disturbing cause ceases to oppose a bar to our inquiries; but even then, in consequence of the fragmentary nature of all geological annals, our progress is inevitably slow in constructing anything like a connected chain of history, which can only be effected by bringing the links of the chain found in one area to supply the information which is wanting in another.

The least interrupted series of consecutive documents to which we can refer in the British Islands, when we desire to connect the Pliocene with the Pleistocene periods, are found in the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex; and I shall speak of them in this chapter, as they have a direct bearing on the relations of the human and glacial periods, which will be the subject of several of the following chapters. The fossil shells of the deposits in question clearly point to a gradual refrigeration of climate, from a temperature somewhat warmer than that now prevailing in our latitudes to one of intense cold; and the successive steps which have marked the coming on of the increasing cold are matters of no small geological interest. [Note 20.]

It will be seen in the Chronological Table, that next before the Pleistocene period stands the Pliocene. The shelly and sandy beds representing these periods in Norfolk and Suffolk are termed provincially Crag, having under the name been long used in agriculture to fertilise soils deficient in calcareous matter, or to render them less stiff and impervious. In Suffolk, the older Pliocene strata called Crag are divisible into the Coralline and the Red Crags, the former being the older of the two. In Norfolk, a more modern formation, commonly termed the "Norwich," or sometimes the "mammaliferous" Crag, which is referable to the newer Pliocene period, occupies large areas.

We are indebted to Mr. Searles Wood, F.G.S., for an admirable monograph on the fossil shells of these British Pliocene formations. He has not himself given us an analysis of the results of his treatise, but the following tables have been drawn up for me by Mr. S.P. Woodward, the well-known author of the "Manual of Mollusca, Recent and Fossil" (London 1851-56), in order to illustrate some of the general conclusions to which Mr. Wood's careful examination of 442 species of mollusca has led.




Brachiopoda : 6. Lamellibranchia : 206. Gasteropoda : 230.

TOTAL : 442.




Norwich Crag : 81. Red Crag : 225. Coralline Crag : 327.

Species common to the Norwich and Red Crag (not in Coralline) : 33. Species common to the Norwich and Coralline (not in Red) : 4. Species common to the Red and Coralline (not in Norwich) : 116. Species common to the Norwich, Red, and Coralline : 19.* (* These 19 species must be added to the numbers 33, 4, and 116 respectively, in order to obtain the full amount of common species in each of those cases.)






Norwich Crag : 69 : 12 : 85%. Red Crag : 130 : 95 : 57%. Coralline Crag : 168 : 159 : 51%.





Norwich Crag : 12 : 0.

Red Crag : 8 : 16.

Coralline Crag : 2 : 27.

In the above list I have not included the shells of the glacial beds of the Clyde and of several other British deposits of newer origin than the Norwich Crag, in which nearly all—perhaps all—the species are Recent. The land and freshwater shells, thirty-two in number, have also been purposely omitted, as well as three species of London Clay shells, suspected by Mr. Wood himself to be spurious.

By far the greater number of the living marine species included in these tables are still inhabitants of the British seas; but even these differ considerably in their relative abundance, some of the commonest of the Crag shells being now extremely scarce; as, for example, Buccinopsis Dalei; and others, rarely met with in a fossil state, being now very common, as Murex erinaceus and Cardium echinatum.

The last table throws light on a marked alteration in the climate of the three successive periods. It will be seen that in the Coralline Crag there are twenty-seven southern shells, including twenty-six Mediterranean, and one West Indian species (Erato Maugeriae). Of these only thirteen occur in the Red Crag, associated with three new southern species, while the whole of them disappear from the Norwich beds. On the other hand, the Coralline Crag contains only two shells closely related to arctic forms of the genera Admete and Limopsis. The Red Crag contains, as stated in the table, eight northern species, all of which recur in the Norwich Crag, with the addition of four others, also inhabitants of the arctic regions; so that there is good evidence of a continual refrigeration of climate during the Pliocene period in Britain. The presence of these northern shells cannot be explained away by supposing that they were inhabitants of the deep parts of the sea; for some of them, such as Tellina calcarea and Astarte borealis, occur plentifully, and sometimes, with the valves united by their ligament, in company with other littoral shells, such as Mya arenaria and Littorina rudis, and evidently not thrown up from deep water. Yet the northern character of the Norwich Crag is not fully shown by simply saying that it contains twelve northern species. It is the predominance of certain genera and species, such as Tellina calcarea, Astarte borealis, Scalaria groenlandica, and Fusus carinatus, which satisfies the mind of a conchologist as to the arctic character of the Norwich Crag. In like manner, it is the presence of such genera as Pyrula, Columbella, Terebra, Cassidaria, Pholadomya, Lingula, Discina, and others which give a southern aspect to the Coralline Crag shells.

The cold, which had gone on increasing from the time of the Coralline to that of the Norwich Crag, continued, though not perhaps without some oscillations of temperature, to become more and more severe after the accumulation of the Norwich Crag, until it reached its maximum in what has been called the glacial epoch. The marine fauna of this last period contains, both in Ireland and Scotland, Recent species of mollusca now living in Greenland and other seas far north of the areas where we find their remains in a fossil state.

The refrigeration of climate from the time of the older to that of the newer Pliocene strata is not now announced for the first time, as it was inferred from a study of the Crag shells in 1846 by the late Edward Forbes.* (* "Memoirs of the Geological Survey" London 1846 page 391.)

The most southern point to which the marine beds of the Norwich Crag have yet been traced is at Chillesford, near Woodbridge, in Suffolk, about 80 miles north-east of London, where, as Messrs. Prestwich and Searles Wood have pointed out,* they exhibit decided marks of having been deposited in a sea of a much lower temperature than that now prevailing in the same latitude. (* "Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society" volume 5 1849 page 345.) Out of twenty-three shells obtained in that locality from argillaceous strata 20 feet thick, two only, namely, Nucula Cobboldiae and Tellina obliqua, are extinct, and not a few of the other species, such as Leda lanceolata, Cardium groenlandicum, Lucina borealis, Cyprina islandica, Panopaea norvegica, and Mya truncata, betray a northern, and some of them an arctic character.

These Chillesford beds are supposed to be somewhat more modern than any of the purely marine strata of the Norwich Crag exhibited by the sections of the Norfolk cliffs north-west of Cromer, which I am about to describe. Yet they probably preceded in date the "Forest Bed" and fluvio-marine deposits of those same cliffs. They are, therefore, of no small importance in reference to the chronology of the glacial period, since they afford evidence of an assemblage of fossil shells with a proportion of between eight and nine in a hundred of extinct species occurring so far south as latitude 53 degrees north, and indicating so cold a climate as to imply that the glacial period commenced before the close of the Pliocene era.


A. Site of Cromer Jetty. 1. Upper Chalk with flints in regular stratification. 2. Norwich Crag, rising from low water at Cromer to the top of the cliffs at Weybourn, seven miles distant. 3. "Forest Bed," with stumps of trees in situ and remains of Elephas meridionalis, E. primigenius, E. antiquus, Rhinoceros etruscus, etc. This bed increases in depth and thickness eastward. No Crag (Number 2) known east of Cromer Jetty. 3 prime. Fluvio-marine series. At Cromer and eastward, with abundant lignite beds and mammalian remains, and with cones of the Scotch and spruce firs and wood. At Runton, north-west of Cromer, expanding into a thick freshwater deposit, with overlying marine strata, elsewhere consisting of alternating sands and clays, tranquilly deposited, some with marine, others with freshwater shells. 4. Boulder clay of glacial period, with far transported erratics, some of them polished and scratched, 20 to 80 feet in thickness. 5. Contorted drift. 6. Superficial gravel and sand with covering of vegetable soil.)

The annexed section (Figure 27) will give a general idea of the ordinary succession of the Pliocene and Pleistocene strata which rest upon the Chalk in the Norfolk and Suffolk cliffs. These cliffs vary in height from fifty to above three hundred feet. At the north-western extremity of the section at Weybourn (beyond the limits of the annexed diagram), and from thence to Cromer, a distance of 7 miles, the Norwich Crag, a marine deposit, reposes immediately upon the Chalk. A vast majority of its shells are of living species such as Cardium edule, Cyprina islandica, Scalaria groenlandica, and Fusus antiquus, and some few extinct, as Tellina obliqua, and Nucula Cobboldiae. At Cromer jetty this formation thins out, as expressed in the diagram at A; and to the south we find Number 3, or what is commonly called the "Forest Bed," reposing immediately upon the Chalk, and occupying, as it were, the place previously held by the marine Crag Number 2. This buried forest has been traced for more than 40 miles, being exposed at certain seasons and states of the beach between high and low water mark. It extends from Cromer to near Kessingland, and consists of the stumps of numerous trees standing erect, with their roots attached to them, and penetrating in all directions into the loam or ancient vegetable soil on which they grew. They mark the site of a forest which existed there for a long time, since, besides the erect trunks of trees, some of them 2 and 3 feet in diameter, there is a vast accumulation of vegetable matter in the immediately overlying clays. Thirty years ago, when I first examined this bed, I saw many trees, with their roots in the old soil, laid open at the base of the cliff near Happisburgh; and long before my visit, other observers, and among them the late Mr. J.C. Taylor, had noticed the buried forest. Of late years it has been repeatedly seen at many points by Mr. Gunn, and, after the great storms of the autumn of 1861, by Mr. King. In order to expose the stumps to view, a vast body of sand and shingle must be cleared away by the force of the waves. [Note 21.]

As the sea is always gaining on the land, new sets of trees are brought to light from time to time, so that the breadth as well as length of the area of ancient forest land seems to have been considerable. Next above Number 3, we find a series of sands and clays with lignite (Number 3 prime), sometimes 10 feet thick, and containing alternations of fluviatile and marine strata, implying that the old forest land, which may at first have been considerably elevated above the level of the sea, had sunk down so as to be occasionally overflowed by a river, and at other times by the salt waters of an estuary. There were probably several oscillations of level which assisted in bringing about these changes, during which trees were often uprooted and laid prostrate, giving rise to layers of lignite. Occasionally marshes were formed and peaty matter accumulated, after which salt water again predominated, so that species of Mytilus, Mya, Leda, and other marine genera, lived in the same area where the Unio, Cyclas, and Paludina had flourished for a time. That the marine shells lived and died on the spot, and were not thrown up by the waves during a storm, is proved, as Mr. King has remarked, by the fact that at West Runton, north-west of Cromer, the Mya truncata and Leda myalis are found with both valves united and erect in the loam, all with their posterior or siphuncular extremities uppermost. This attitude affords as good evidence to the conchologist that those mollusca lived and died on the spot as the upright position of the trees proves to the botanist that there was a forest over the Chalk east of Cromer.

Between the stumps of the buried forest, and in the lignite above them, are many well-preserved cones of the Scotch and spruce firs, Pinus sylvestris, and Pinus abies. The specific names of these fossils were determined for me in 1840, by a botanist of no less authority than the late Robert Brown; and Professor Heer has lately examined a large collection from the same stratum, and recognised among the cones of the spruce some which had only the central part or axis remaining, the rest having been bitten off, precisely in the same manner as when in our woods the squirrel has been feeding on the seeds. There is also in the forest-bed a great quantity of resin in lumps, resembling that gathered for use, according to Professor Heer, in Switzerland, from beneath spruce firs.

The following is a list of some of the plants and seeds which were collected by the Reverend S.W. King, in 1861, from the forest bed at Happisburgh, and named by Professor Heer:—


Pinus sylvestris, Scotch fir. Pinus abies, spruce fir. Taxus baccata, yew. Nuphar luteum, yellow water-lily. Ceratophyllum demersum, hornwort. Potamogeton, pondweed. Prunus spinosus, common sloe. Menyanthes trifoliata, buckbean. Nymphaea alba, white water-lily. Alnus, alder. Quercus, oak. Betula, birch.

The insects, so far as they are known, including several species of Donacia, are, like the plants and freshwater shells, of living species. It may be remarked, however, that the Scotch fir has been confined in historical times to the northern parts of the British Isles, and the spruce fir is nowhere indigenous in Great Britain. The other plants are such as might now be found in Norfolk, and many of them indicate fenny or marshy ground.* (* Mr. King discovered in 1863, in the forest bed, several rhizomes of the large British fern Osmunda regalis, of such dimensions as they are known to attain in marshy places. They are distinguishable from those of other British ferns by the peculiar arrangement of the vessels, as seen under the microscope in a cross section.)

When we consider the familiar aspect of the flora, the accompanying mammalia are certainly most extraordinary. There are no less than three elephants, a rhinoceros and hippopotamus, a large extinct beaver, and several large estuarine and marine mammalia, such as the walrus, the narwhal, and the whale.

The following is a list of some of the species of which the bones have been collected by Messrs. Gunn and King.

Those marked (asterisk) have been recorded by Professor Owen in his British Fossil Mammalia. Those marked (dagger) have been recognised by the same authority in the cabinets of Messrs. Gunn and King, or in the Norwich Museum; the other three are given on the authority of Dr. Falconer.


Elephas meridionalis. (asterisk) Elephas primigenius. Elephas antiquus. Rhinoceros etruscus. (asterisk) Hippopotamus (major ?). (asterisk) Sus scrofa. (asterisk) Equus (fossilis ?). (asterisk) Ursus (sp.?). (dagger) Canis lupus. (dagger) Bison priscus. (dagger) Megaceros hibernicus. (asterisk) Cervus capreolus. (dagger) Cervus tarandus. (dagger) Cervus Sedgwickii. (asterisk) Arvicola amphibia. (asterisk) Castor (Trogontherium) Cuvieri. (asterisk) Castor europaeus. (asterisk) Palaeospalax magnus. (dagger) Trichecus rosmarus, Walrus. (dagger) Monodon monoceros, Narwhal. (dagger) Balaenoptera.

Mr. Gunn informs me that the vertebrae of two distinct whales were found in the fluvio-marine beds at Bacton, and that one of them, shown to Professor Owen, is said by him to imply that the animal was 60 feet long. A narwhal's tusk was discovered by Mr. King near Cromer, and the remains of a walrus. No less than three species of elephant, as determined by Dr. Falconer, have been obtained from the strata 3 and 3 prime, of which, according to Mr. King, E. meridionalis is the most common, the mammoth next in abundance, and the third, E. antiquus, comparatively rare.

The freshwater shells accompanying the fossil quadrupeds, above enumerated, are such as now inhabit rivers and ponds in England; but among them, as at Runton, between the "forest bed" and the glacial deposits, a remarkable variety of the Cyclas amnica occurs (Figure 28), identical with that which accompanies the Elephas antiquus at Ilford and Grays in the valley of the Thames.

All the freshwater shells of the beds intervening between the Forest-bed Number 3, and the glacial formation 4, Figure 27, are of Recent species. As to the small number of marine shells occurring in the same fluvio-marine series, I have seen none which belonged to extinct species, although one or two have been cited by authors. I am in doubt, therefore, whether to class the forest bed and overlying strata as Pleistocene, or to consider them as beds of passage between the Pliocene and Pleistocene periods. The fluvio-marine series usually terminates upwards in finely laminated sands and clays without fossils, on which reposes the boulder clay.

(FIGURE 28. Cyclas (Pisidium) amnica var.? The two middle figures are of the natural size.)

This formation, Number 4, is of very varying thickness. Its glacial character is shown, not only by the absence of stratification, and the great size and angularity of some of the included blocks of distant origin, but also by the polished and scratched surfaces of such of them as are hard enough to retain any markings.

Near Cromer, blocks of granite from 6 to 8 feet in diameter have been met with, and smaller ones of syenite, porphyry, and trap, besides the wreck of the London Clay, Chalk, Oolite, and Lias, mixed with more ancient fossiliferous rocks. Erratics of Scandinavian origin occur chiefly in the lower portions of the till. I came to the conclusion in 1834, that they had really come from Norway and Sweden, after having in that year traced the course of a continuous stream of such blocks from those countries to Denmark, and across the Elbe, through Westphalia, to the borders of Holland. It is not surprising that they should then reappear on our eastern coast between the Tweed and the Thames, regions not half so remote from parts of Norway as are many Russian erratics from the sources whence they came. [Note 22.]

(FIGURE 29. CLIFF 50 FEET HIGH BETWEEN BACTON GAP AND MUNDESLEY. Section through Gravel (top), Sand, Loam and Till (bottom).)

According to the observations of the Reverend J. Gunn and the late Mr. Trimmer, the glacial drift in the cliffs at Lowestoft consists of two divisions, the lower of which abounds in the Scandinavian blocks, supposed to have come from the north-east; while the upper, probably brought by a current from the north-west, contains chiefly fragments of Oolitic rocks, more rolled than those of the lower deposit. The united thickness of the two divisions, without reckoning some interposed laminated beds, is 80 feet, but it probably exceeds 100 feet near Happisburgh.* (* "Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society" volume 7 1851 page 21.) Although these subdivisions of the drift may be only of local importance, they help to show the changes of currents and other conditions, and the great lapse of time which the accumulation of so varied a series of deposits must have required.

The lowest part of the glacial till, resting on the laminated clays before mentioned, is very even and regular, while its upper surface is remarkable for the unevenness of its outline, owing partly, in all likelihood, to denudation, but still more to other causes presently to be discussed.

The overlying strata of sand and gravel, Number 5, Figure 27, often display a most singular derangement in their stratification, which in many places seems to have a very intimate relation to the irregularities of outline in the subjacent till. There are some cases, however, where the upper strata are much bent, while the lower beds of the same series have continued horizontal. Thus the annexed section (Figure 29) represents a cliff about 50 feet high, at the bottom of which is till, or unstratified clay, containing boulders, having an even horizontal surface, on which repose conformably beds of laminated clay and sand about 5 feet thick, which, in their turn, are succeeded by vertical, bent, and contorted layers of sand and loam 20 feet thick, the whole being covered by flint gravel. The curves of the variously coloured beds of loose sand, loam, and pebbles, are so complicated that not only may we sometimes find portions of them which maintain their verticality to a height of 10 or 15 feet, but they have also been folded upon themselves in such a manner that continuous layers might be thrice pierced in one perpendicular boring.



1. Blue clay. 2. White sand. 3. Yellow Sand. 4. Striped loam and clay. 5. Laminated blue clay.)

At some points there is an apparent folding of the beds round a central nucleus, as at a, Figure 30, where the strata seem bent round a small mass of Chalk, or, as in Figure 31, where the blue clay Number 1 is in the centre; and where the other strata 2, 3, 4, 5 are coiled round it; the entire mass being 20 feet in perpendicular height. This appearance of concentric arrangement around a nucleus is, nevertheless, delusive, being produced by the intersection of beds bent into a convex shape; and that which seems the nucleus being, in fact, the innermost bed of the series, which has become partially visible by the removal of the protuberant portions of the outer layers.

To the north of Cromer are other fine illustrations of contorted drift reposing on a floor of Chalk horizontally stratified and having a level surface. These phenomena, in themselves sufficiently difficult of explanation, are rendered still more anomalous by the occasional enclosure in the drift of huge fragments of Chalk many yards in diameter. One striking instance occurs west of Sheringham, where an enormous pinnacle of Chalk, between 70 and 80 feet in height, is flanked on both sides by vertical layers of loam, clay, and gravel (Figure 32).


d. Chalk with regular layers of flints. c. Layer called "the pan," of Chalk, flints, and marine shells of Recent species, cemented by oxide of iron.)

This chalky fragment is only one of many detached masses which have been included in the drift, and forced along with it into their present position. The level surface of the Chalk in situ (d) may be traced for miles along the coast, where it has escaped the violent movements to which the incumbent drift has been exposed.* (* For a full account of the drift of East Norfolk, see a paper by the author, "Philosophical Magazine" Number 104 May 1840.)

We are called upon, then, to explain how any force can have been exerted against the upper masses, so as to produce movements in which the subjacent strata have not participated. It may be answered that, if we conceive the till and its boulders to have been drifted to their present place by ice, the lateral pressure may have been supplied by the stranding of ice-islands. We learn, from the observations of Messrs. Dease and Simpson in the polar regions, that such islands, when they run aground, push before them large mounds of shingle and sand. It is therefore probable that they often cause great alterations in the arrangement of pliant and incoherent strata forming the upper part of shoals or submerged banks, the inferior portions of the same remaining unmoved. Or many of the complicated curvatures of these layers of loose sand and gravel may have been due to another cause, the melting on the spot of ice-bergs and coast ice in which successive deposits of pebbles, sand, ice, snow, and mud, together with huge masses of rock fallen from cliffs, may have become interstratified. Ice-islands so constituted often capsize when afloat, and gravel once horizontal may have assumed, before the associated ice was melted, an inclined or vertical position. The packing of ice forced up on a coast may lead to a similar derangement in a frozen conglomerate of sand or shingle, and, as Mr. Trimmer has suggested,* (* "Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society" volume 7 1851 pages 22, 30.) alternate layers of earthy matter may have sunk down slowly during the liquefaction of the intercalated ice so as to assume the most fantastic and anomalous positions, while the strata below, and those afterwards thrown down above, may be perfectly horizontal (see above).

In most cases where the principal contortions of the layers of gravel and sand have a decided correspondence with deep indentations in the underlying till, the hypothesis of the melting of large lumps and masses of ice once mixed up with the till affords the most natural explanation of the phenomena. The quantity of ice now seen in the cliffs near Behring's Straits, in which the remains of fossil elephants are common, and the huge fragments of solid ice which Meyendorf discovered in Siberia, after piercing through a considerable thickness of incumbent soil, free from ice, is in favour of such an hypothesis, the partial failure of support necessarily giving rise to foldings in the overlying and previously horizontal layers, as in the case of creeps in coal mines.* (* See "Manual of Geology" by the author, page 51.)

In the diagram of the cliffs at page 167, the bent and contorted beds Number 5, last alluded to, are represented as covered by undisturbed beds of gravel and sand Number 6. These are usually destitute of organic remains; but at some points marine shells of Recent species are said to have been found in them. They afford evidence at many points of repeated denudation and redeposition, and may be the monuments of a long series of ages.


In the range of cliffs above described at Mundesley, about 8 miles south-east of Cromer, a fine example is seen of a freshwater formation, newer than all those already mentioned, a deposit which has filled up a depression hollowed out of all the older beds 3, 4, and 5 of the section Figure 27.


OLDER SERIES. 1. Fundamental Chalk, below the beach line. 3. Forest bed, with elephant, rhinoceros, stag, etc., and with tree roots and stumps, also below the beach line. 3 prime. Finely laminated sands and clays, with thin layer of lignite, and shells of Cyclas and Valvata, and with Mytilus in some beds. 4. Glacial boulder till. 5. Contorted drift. 6. Gravel overlying contorted drift. N.B.—Number 2 of the section, Figure 27, is wanting here.

NEWER FRESHWATER BEDS. A. Coarse river gravel, with shells of Anodon, Valvata, Cyclas, Succinea, Limnaea, Paludina, etc., seeds of Ceratophyllum demersum, Nuphar lutea, scales and bones of pike, perch, salmon, etc., elytra of Donacia, Copris, Harpalus, and other beetles. C. Yellow sands. D. Drift gravel.)

When I examined this line of coast in 1839, the section alluded to was not so clearly laid open to view as it has been of late years, and finding at that period not a few of the fossils in the lignite beds Number 3 prime above the forest bed, identical in species with those from the post-glacial deposits B C, I supposed the whole to have been of contemporaneous origin, and so described them in my paper on the Norfolk cliffs.* (* "Philosophical Magazine" volume 16 1840 page 345.)

Mr. Gunn was the first to perceive this mistake, which he explained to me on the spot when I revisited Mundesley in the autumn of 1859 in company with Dr. Hooker and Mr. King. The last-named geologist has had the kindness to draw up for me the annexed diagram (Figure 33) of the various beds which he has recently studied in detail.* (* Mr. Prestwich has given a correct account of this section in a paper read to the British Association, Oxford, 1860. See "The Geologist" volume 4 1861.)

The formations 3, 4, and 5 already described, Figure 27, were evidently once continuous, for they may be followed for miles north-west and south-east without a break, and always in the same order. A valley or river channel was cut through them, probably during the gradual upheaval of the country, and the hollow became afterwards the receptacle of the comparatively modern freshwater beds A, B, C, and D. They may well represent a silted up river-channel, which remained for a time in the state of a lake or mere, and in which the black peaty mass B accumulated by a very slow growth over the gravel of the river-bed A. In B we find remains of some of the same plants which were enumerated as common in the ancient lignite in 3 prime, such as the yellow water-lily and hornwort, together with some freshwater shells which occur in the same fluvio-marine series 3 prime.

(FIGURE 34. Paludina marginata, Michaud (P. minuta, Strickland). Hydrobia marginata.*

(* This shell is said to have a sub-spiral operculum (not a concentric one, as in Paludina), and therefore to be referable to the Hydrobia, a sub-genus of Rissoa. But this species is always associated with freshwater shells, while the Rissoae frequent marine and brackish waters.) The middle figure is of the natural size.)

The only shell which I found not referable to a British species is the minute Paludina, Figure 34, already alluded to.

When I showed the scales and teeth of the pike, perch, roach, and salmon, which I obtained from this formation, to M. Agassiz, he thought they varied so much from their nearest living representatives that they might rank as distinct species; but Mr. Yarrell doubted the propriety of so distinguishing them. The insects, like the shells and plants, are identical, so far as they are known, with living British species. No progress has yet been made at Mundesley in discovering the contemporary mammalia.

By referring to the description and section before given of the freshwater deposit at Hoxne, the reader will at once perceive the striking analogy of the Mundesley and Hoxne deposits, the latter so productive of flint implements of the Amiens type. Both of them, like the Bedford gravel with flint tools and the bones of extinct mammalia, are post-glacial. It will also be seen that a long series of events, accompanied by changes in physical geography, intervened between the "forest bed," Number 3, Figure 27, when the Elephas meridionalis flourished, and the period of the Mundesley fluviatile beds A, B, C; just as in France I have shown that the same E. meridionalis belonged to a system of drainage different from and anterior to that with which the flint implements of the old alluvium of the Somme and the Seine were connected.

Before the growth of the ancient forest, Number 3, Figure 33, the Mastodon arvernensis, a large proboscidian, characteristic of the Norwich Crag, appears to have died out, or to have become scarce, as no remains of it have yet been found in the Norfolk cliffs. There was, no doubt, time for other modifications in the mammalian fauna between the era of the marine beds, Number 2, Figure 27 (the shells of which imply permanent submergence beneath the sea), and the accumulation of the uppermost of the fluvio-marine, and lignite beds, Number 3 prime, which overlie both Numbers 3 and 2, or the buried forest and the Crag. In the interval we must suppose repeated oscillations of level, during which land covered with trees, an estuary with its freshwater shells, and the sea with its Mya truncata and other mollusca still retaining their erect position, gained by turns the ascendency. These changes were accompanied by some denudation followed by a grand submergence of several hundred feet, probably brought about slowly, and when floating ice aided in transporting erratic blocks from great distances. The glacial till Number 4 then originated, and the gravel and sands Number 5 were afterwards superimposed on the boulder clay, first in horizontal beds, which became subsequently contorted. These were covered in their turn by other layers of gravel and sand, Number 6, Figures 27 and 33, the downward movement still continuing.

The entire thickness of the beds above the Chalk at some points near the coast, and the height at which they now are raised, are such as to show that the subsidence of the country after the growth of the forest bed exceeded 400 feet. The re-elevation must have amounted to nearly as many feet, as the site of the ancient forest, originally sub-aerial, has been brought up again to within a few feet of high-water mark. Lastly, after all these events, and probably during the final process of emergence, the valley was scooped out in which the newer freshwater strata of Mundesley, Figure 33, were gradually deposited.

Throughout the whole of this succession of geographical changes, the flora and invertebrate fauna of Europe appear to have undergone no important revolution in their specific characters. The plants of the forest bed belonged already to what has been called the Germanic flora. The mollusca, the insects, and even some of the mammalia, such as the European beaver and roebuck, were the same as those now co-existing with Man. Yet the oldest memorials of our species at present discovered in Great Britain are post-glacial, or posterior in date to the boulder clay, Number 4, Figures 27 and 33. The position of the Hoxne flint implements corresponds with that of the Mundesley beds, from A to D, Figure 33, and the most likely stratum in which to find hereafter flint tools is no doubt the gravel A of that section, which has all the appearance of an old river-bed. No flint tools have yet been observed there, but had the old alluvium of Amiens or Abbeville occurred in the Norfolk cliffs instead of the valley of the Somme, and had we depended on the waves of the sea instead of the labour of many hundred workmen continued for twenty years, for exposing the flint implements to view, we might have remained ignorant to this day of the fossil relics brought to light by M. Boucher de Perthes and those who have followed up his researches.

Neither need we despair of one day meeting with the signs of Man's existence in the forest bed Number 3, or in the overlying strata 3 prime, on the ground of any uncongeniality in the climate or incongruity in the state of the animate creation with the well-being of our species. For the present we must be content to wait and consider that we have made no investigations which entitle us to wonder that the bones or stone weapons of the era of the Elephas meridionalis have failed to come to light. If any such lie hid in those strata, and should hereafter be revealed to us, they would carry back the antiquity of Man to a distance of time probably more than twice as great as that which separates our era from that of the most ancient of the tool-bearing gravels yet discovered in Picardy, or elsewhere. But even then the reader will perceive that the age of Man, though pre-glacial, would be so modern in the great geological calendar, as given in Chapter 1, that he would scarcely date so far back as the commencement of the Pleistocene period.



Chronological Relations of the Close of the Glacial Period and the earliest geological Signs of the Appearance of Man. Effects of Glaciers and Icebergs in polishing and scoring Rocks. Scandinavia once encrusted with Ice like Greenland. Outward Movement of Continental Ice in Greenland. Mild Climate of Greenland in the Miocene Period. Erratics of Recent Period in Sweden. Glacial State of Sweden in the Pleistocene Period. Scotland formerly encrusted with Ice. Its subsequent Submergence and Re-elevation. Latest Changes produced by Glaciers in Scotland. Remains of the Mammoth and Reindeer in Scotch Boulder Clay. Parallel Roads of Glen Roy formed in Glacier Lakes. Comparatively modern Date of these Shelves.

The chronological relations of the human and glacial periods were frequently alluded to in the last chapter, and the sections obtained near Bedford, and at Hoxne, in Suffolk, and a general view of the Norfolk cliffs, have taught us that the earliest signs of Man's appearance in the British isles, hitherto detected, are of post-glacial date. We may now therefore inquire whether the peopling of Europe by the human race and by the mammoth and other mammalia now extinct, was brought about during the concluding phases of the glacial epoch.

Although it may be impossible in the present state of our knowledge to come to a positive conclusion on this head, I know of no inquiry better fitted to clear up our views respecting the geological state of the northern hemisphere at the time when the fabricators of the flint implements of the Amiens type flourished. I shall therefore now proceed to consider the chronological relations of that ancient people with the final retreat of the glaciers from the mountains of Scandinavia, Scotland, Wales, and Switzerland.


In order fully to discuss this question, I must begin by referring to some of the newest theoretical opinions entertained on the glacial question. When treating of this subject in the "Principles of Geology," chapter 15, and in the "Manual (or Elements) of Geology," chapter 11, I have stated that the whole mass of the ice in a glacier is in constant motion, and that the blocks of stone detached from boundary precipices, and the mud and sand swept down by avalanches of snow, or by rain from the surrounding heights, are lodged upon the surface and slowly borne along in lengthened mounds, called in Switzerland moraines. These accumulations of rocky fragments and detrital matter are left at the termination of the glacier, where it melts in a confused heap called the "terminal moraine," which is unstratified, because all the blocks, large and small, as well as the sand and the finest mud, are carried to equal distances and quietly deposited in a confused mass without being subjected to the sorting power of running water, which would convey the finer materials farther than the coarser ones, and would produce, as the strength of the current varied from time to time in the same place, a stratified arrangement.

In those regions where glaciers reach the sea, and where large masses of ice break off and float away, moraines, such as I have just alluded to, may be transported to indefinite distances, and may be deposited on the bottom of the sea wherever the ice happens to melt. If the liquefaction take place when the berg has run aground and is stationary, and if there be no current, the heap of angular and rounded stones, mixed with sand and mud, may fall to the bottom in an unstratified form called "till" in Scotland, and which has been shown in the last chapter to abound in the Norfolk cliffs; but should the action of a current intervene at certain points or at certain seasons, then the materials will be sorted as they fall, and arranged in layers according to their relative weight and size. Hence there will be passages from till to stratified clay, gravel, and sand.

Some of the blocks of stone with which the surfaces of glaciers are loaded, falling occasionally through fissures in the ice, get fixed and frozen into the bottom of the moving mass, and are pushed along under it. In this position, being subjected to great pressure, they scoop out long rectilinear furrows or grooves parallel to each other on the subjacent solid rock. Smaller scratches and striae are made on the polished surface by crystals or projecting edges of the hardest minerals, just as a diamond cuts glass.

In all countries the fundamental rock on which the boulder formation reposes, if it consists of granite, gneiss, marble, or other hard stone capable of permanently retaining any superficial markings which may have been imprinted upon it, is smoothed or polished, and exhibits parallel striae and furrows having a determinate direction. This prevailing direction, both in Europe and North America, is evidently connected with the course taken by the erratic blocks in the same district, and is very commonly from north to south, or if it be twenty or thirty or more degrees to the east or west of north, still always corresponds to the direction in which the large angular and rounded stones have travelled. These stones themselves also are often furrowed and scratched on more than one side, like those already spoken of as occurring in the glacial drift of Bedford, and in that of Norfolk.

When we contemplate the area which is now exposed to the abrading action of ice, or which is the receptacle of moraine matter thrown down from melting glaciers or bergs, we at once perceive that the submarine area is the most extensive of the two. The number of large icebergs which float annually to great distances in the northern and southern hemispheres is extremely great, and the quantity of stone and mud which they carry about with them enormous. Some floating islands of ice have been met with from 2 to 5 miles in length, and from 100 to 225 feet in height above water, the submerged portion, according to the weight of ice relatively to sea water, being from six to eight times more considerable than the part which is visible. Such masses, when they run aground on the bottom of the sea, must exert a prodigious mechanical power, and may polish and groove the subjacent rocks after the manner of glaciers on the land. Hence there will often be no small difficulty in distinguishing between the effects of the submarine and supramarine agency of ice.


In the north of Europe, along the borders of the Baltic, where the boulder formation is continuous for hundreds of miles east and west, it has been long known that the erratic blocks, often of very large size, are of northern origin. Some of them have come from Norway and Sweden, others from Finland, and their present distribution implies that they were carried southwards, for a part at least of their way, by floating ice, at a time when much of the area over which they are scattered was under water. But it appears from the observations of Boetlingk, in 1840, and those of more recent inquirers, that while many blocks have travelled to the south, others have been carried northwards, or to the shores of the Polar Sea, and others north-eastward, or to those of the White Sea. In fact, they have wandered towards all points of the compass, from the mountains of Scandinavia as a centre, and the rectilinear furrows imprinted by them on the polished surfaces of the mountains where the rocks are hard enough to retain such markings, radiate in all directions, or point outwards from the highest land, in a manner corresponding to the course of the erratics above mentioned. * (* Sir R.I. Murchison, in his "Russia and the Ural Mountains" (1845) has indicated on a map not only the southern limits of the Scandinavian drift, but by arrows the direction in which "it proceeded eccentrically from a common central region.")

Before the glacial theory was adopted, the Swedish and Norwegian geologists speculated on a great flood, or the sudden rush of an enormous body of water charged with mud and stones, descending from the central heights or watershed into the adjoining lower lands. The erratic blocks were supposed in their downward passage to have smoothed and striated the rock surfaces over which they were forced along.

It would be a waste of time, in the present state of science, to controvert this hypothesis, as it is now admitted that even if the rush of a diluvial current, invented for the occasion and wholly without analogy in the known course of nature, be granted, it would be inadequate to explain the uniformity, parallelism, persistency, and rectilinearity of the so-called glacial furrows. It is moreover ascertained that heavy masses of rock, not fixed in ice, and moving as freely as they do when simply swept along by a muddy current, do not give rise to such scratches and furrows.

M. Kjerulf of Christiania, in a paper lately communicated to the Geological Society of Berlin,* (* "Zeitschrift der Deutschen Geologischen Gesellschaft" Berlin 1860.) has objected, and perhaps with reason, to what he considers the undue extent to which I have, in some of my writings, supposed the mountains of northern Europe, to have been submerged during the glacial period. He remarks that the signs of glacial action on the Scandinavian mountains ascend as high as 6000 feet, whereas fossil marine shells of the same period never reach elevations exceeding 600 feet. The land, he says, may have been much higher than it now is, but it has evidently not been much lower since the commencement of the glacial period, or marine shells would be traceable to more elevated points. In regard to the absence of marine shells, I shall point out in the sequel how small is the dependence we can place on this kind of negative evidence, if we desire to test by it the extent to which the land has been submerged. I cannot therefore consent to limit the probable depression and re-elevation of Scandinavia to 600 feet. But that the larger part of the glaciation of that country has been supramarine, I am willing to concede. In support of this view M. Kjerulf observes that the direction of the furrows and striae, produced by glacial abrasion, neither conforms to a general movement of floating ice from the Polar regions, nor to the shape of the existing valleys, as it would do if it had been caused by independent glaciers generated in the higher valleys after the land had acquired its actual shape. Their general arrangement and apparent irregularities are, he contends, much more in accordance with the hypothesis of there having been at one time a universal covering of ice over the whole of Norway and Sweden, like that now existing in Greenland, which, being annually recruited by fresh falls of snow, was continually pressing outwards and downwards to the coast and lower regions, after crossing many of the lower ridges, and having no relation to the minor depressions, which were all choked up with ice and reduced to one uniform level.


In support of this view, he appeals to the admirable description of the continental ice of Greenland, lately published by Dr. H. Rink of Copenhagen,* (* "Journal of Royal Geographical Society" volume 23 1853 page 145.) who resided three or four years in the Danish settlements in Baffin's Bay, on the west coast of Greenland, between latitudes 69 and 73 degrees north. "In that country, the land," says Dr. Rink, "may be divided into two regions, the 'inland' and the 'outskirts.' The 'inland,' which is 800 miles from west to east, and of much greater length from north to south, is a vast unknown continent, buried under one continuous and colossal mass of permanent ice, which is always moving seaward, but a small proportion only of it in an easterly direction, since nearly the whole descends towards Baffin's Bay." At the heads of the fjords which intersect the coast, the ice is seen to rise somewhat abruptly from the level of the sea to the height of 2000 feet, beyond which the ice of the interior rises continuously as far as the eye can reach, and to an unknown altitude. All minor ridges and valleys are levelled and concealed, but here and there steep mountains protrude abruptly from the icy slope, and a few superficial lines of stones or moraines are visible at seasons when no recent snow has fallen. [Note 23.]

Although all the ice is moving seaward, the greatest quantity is discharged at the heads of certain large fjords, usually about 4 miles wide, which, if the climate were milder, would be the outlet of as many great rivers. Through these the ice is now protruded in huge blocks, several miles wide, and from 1000 to 1500 feet in height or thickness. When these masses reach the fjords, they do not melt or break up into fragments, but continue their course in a solid form in the salt water, grating along the rocky bottom, which they must polish and score at depths of hundreds and even of more than 1000 feet. At length, when there is water enough to float them, huge portions, having broken off, fill Baffin's Bay with icebergs of a size exceeding any which could be produced by ordinary valley glaciers. Stones, sand, and mud are sometimes included in these bergs which float down Baffin's Bay. At some points, where the ice of the interior of Greenland reaches the coast, Dr. Rink saw mighty springs of clayey water issuing from under the edge of the ice even in winter, showing the grinding action of the glacial mass mixed with sand on the subjacent surface of the rocks.

The "outskirts," where the Danish colonies are stationed, consist of numerous islands, of which Disco island is the largest in latitude 70 degrees north, and of many peninsulas, with fjords from 50 to 100 miles long, running into the land, and through which the ice above alluded to passes on its way to the bay. This area is 30, 000 square miles in extent, and contains in it some mountains 4000 feet to 5000 feet high. The perpetual snow usually begins at the height of 2000 feet, below which level the land is for the most part free from snow between June and August, and supports a vegetation of several hundred species of flowering plants, which ripen their seeds before the winter. There are even some places where phanerogamous plants have been found at an elevation of 4500 feet; a fact which, when we reflect on the immediate vicinity of so large and lofty a region of continental ice in the same latitude, well deserves the attention of the geologist, who should also bear in mind, that while the Danes are settled to the west in the "outskirts," there exists, due east of the most southern portion of this ice-covered continent, at the distance of about 1200 miles, the home of the Laplanders with their reindeer, bears, wolves, seals, walruses, and whales. If, therefore, there are geological grounds for suspecting that Scandinavia or Scotland or Wales was ever in the same glacial condition as Greenland now is, we must not imagine that the contemporaneous fauna and flora were everywhere poor and stunted, or that they may not, especially at the distance of a few hundred miles in a SOUTHWARD direction, have been very luxuriant. [Note 24.]

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