Prehistoric Enthology of Huntingdonshire

Prehistoric Enthology of Huntingdonshire in England

 

Human skeletons have from time to time been found in association with dateable objects in Huntingdonshire, and some have been mentioned in the preceding pages. Rarely, however, has any such skeleton been preserved, and, so far as we can ascertain, in no case has a record been made of cranial or other characters. In summing up the racial history we may say that it is probable that here, as elsewhere in the Fen basin, a long-headed Mediterranean race was partially displaced by round-headed invaders-beaker-folk-about 2000 B.C.; that these invaders were absorbed by the aborigines, and that the resulting mixed population occupied the district down to about 1000 B.C. About this time, if the archaeological record be read aright, occurred an invasion of leaf-sword folk who probably spoke a Celtic language. These Goidels (?) were, it seems, in turn conquered by Brythons, of similar stock, who brought with them iron, about 500 B.C. The subsequent invasion of closely related tribes, the Belgae, circa 150 B.C., was confined to south-east Britain and did not, it is probable, directly affect Huntingdonshire.

It has already been noted as probable that the successive invasions, to which we attribute changes in culture and racial type, reached Huntingdonshire by way of the Wash and the Fen rivers. The character of these changes is an interesting subject for inquiry. Were they complete and sudden, or partial and prolonged? Scientific Archaeology is in its infancy, and we have little material on which to build. The writer1 has brought forward evidence suggesting that the introduction of the culture of the Late Bronze Period into the Cambridge Region (which, as defined by him, includes part of Huntingdonshire), presumably effected by conquest, resulted in a complete replacement of males capable of bearing arms; for the hoards and group finds of weapons of this period rarely contain any specimens of the weapons used by the folk of the Middle Bronze period.

It seems likely that here in Eastern England all the free tribesmen and chieftains of a district conquered by invaders would have been killed or driven into the interior. But numbers of girls and women of the conquered race would have become the spoil of the victors, and many slaves, kinless men and non-tribesmen of servile status, would have doubtless been content to exchange masters. By such means racial types survive, and the sharpness of transition from one culture phase to another (taking all the elements composing culture into consideration) tends to become blurred. It is probable that an anthropometric analysis of the rural population of Huntingdonshire to-day would reveal survivals of all the racial elements which have been in turn dominant in the county since Neolithic times.

Footnotes

  1. Op. cit., p. 52.

 

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