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THE PRIMITIVE RACES OF DEVON ( PART in)
I. Tthree legions which can be proved to have been stationed in Britain, viz., thesecond, sixth, and twentieth, were composed of Roman citizens, and therefore their prevalent language must have been Latin. (Vide „Whitaker, Hist. Manchester, bk. i., c. 6.)
1L. Two other legions, portions of which might have brought in a non-Latin element,viz., the seventh and tenth, were probably composed of Frisians and Batavians.
III. The Dalmatian cohort stationed at Brandon, under the command of the Count of the Saxon Shore, is the principal Slavonic corps of whose presence we find any trace in Britain. (Vide Latham, Eng. Lan. p. 3.)*
I am indebted for the stove details to a learned member of the Plymouth Institution, who like myself is by no means inclined to laugh at the theory of the Eastern origin of the ancient inhabitants of Devon.
IV. Even supposing, what is most improbable, that a Dalmatian, Pannonian or other legion speaking an Eastern dialect of Arya to have been stationed in South Devon, thiswould not suffice to explain either the antiquarian or philological phenomena on whichthe Oriental theory rests.
The name Beltor is usually regarded as connected with the Hebrew and Semetic Bayal or Baal, a lord, applied to the sun and, in an idolatrous sense, very frequent in Holy Writ. The Slavonicaccepts this same root in both its secondary meanings —1 st, as anidolatrous term, hence Balwan an idol; 2 nd, as a name of the sun, hence Biala white. In both these senses we may see traces of it in our ancient British names. The former mythicterm is possibly connected with that fabulous personage, king Belinus, from whom Billingsgate was said to be called, and it is possible that some words now corrupted into“well“ or „val “ may have anciently been Bel or Baal,used in an idolatrous sense.
The other use of Baal as a symbol of light or brightness is more important. The two principal tribes or nationalities of the east and centre of England of whom we read, wererespectively called Cymri or Kymri, and Belgae. The former of these names Welsfordderives, and probably with truth, from the Hebrew Chum, and the Arabic Kahm, black, which root becomes in ServianKara,hence Cymri means „dark men“ in the Slavonic and Semetic languages. Now
in Slavonic, Belgae means just the opposite, deriving from a Hebrew root, Baal, Biala „white,“ „fair“— Belgae „the fair men.“
So the difference of Kymri (Cymri) and Belgae seems to sink into that of dark men and fair men.
The hut circle and rock pillar as well as the characteristic Danmonian names are ever found near ancient and exhausted tin-workings, the number and extent of which mustastonish every traveller over Dartmoor, who does not reflect that this region suppliedmost of the tin of the ancient world. Thus is the idea of mining brought home to us inconnection with that mysterious nation whose traces we have been endeavouring tofollow both in philology and antiquities, and it would be strange if the word “mining“never occurred in eastern Aryan forms in our local names. It does occur, however, and ina remarkable manner. The chief mining town of the Moor is yet called by the most un-English name, Horra-bridge. Now the word Horraln in the Bohemian form or Goraln in the Polish form of Slavonic means „a miner.“ It is but a slight corruption of thatuniversal word Hor, a hill which the Slavonians, being a nation mostly dwelling in plains, associated with the idea of mines.
Nor is Horrabridge the only place where we find traces of this word St. Gorran, in Cornwall, is thePolish form of the same word, and by it we may be afforded a new keyto one of the great problems of English history. Even the “I“ in the Slavonic Goralny, „aminer,“ is to be found in the old Gornish name for the miners of the west of the county Gorleuen and it is highly probable that the same name was originally connected withthat mysterious race of the east of England, of Leicestershire, and the adjacent counties : the ancien Goranians (Gorani-Brđani).
Such are but a very few instances of the many names scattered over the south of Devonand the adjacent county, that seem to bear the impress of an Oriental or Venedic origin. The circumstances of their deposition, if we may use the geological term, and the tribesto which they originally belonged are at present very difficult for us te discover; but their existence at all seems to invest with a semblance of truth the ancient and despised Welshtraditions, and to give a kind of certainty to the vague theories long entertained byantiquaries on most unsatisfactory bases. The dreams of Polwhele and his fellowlabourers become almost inductive realities. The vague conjectures of the antiquary andthe fables of the mythologists concerning the Oriental population of our southern coasts become altered into a very high probability. There is much, however, that remains to be done. That this mysterious nation was ofAryanorigin,we have no reason to doubt, nor that they spoke the ancient Arya in its Eastern purity, free from the complexities that havecorrupted the Celtic and the Gothic tongues. At the same time the question may arisewhether they were as Polwhele supposed, Asiatic tribes direct from the regions of the East; or as the traditions affirm, for I cannot but think that the Trojan myth refers to this people, an Asiatic colony from Italy, a doctrine which the strong Latin influence in Cornish would seem to favour; or merely some wandering Venedic tribes from Eastern Europe, driven perhaps before the Cymri (Cymerians) in their Western march.
This latter theory (except in the name Bud being applied anciently to the Slavonians, and in the use of Horra, Gorran, Gorleuen for mountaineers), has not so much basis inthis district as in others where similar names occur. The region of South Devon is by nomeans the only locality of these traces of extinct Aryan races. The whole of the south of England contains them from thegreat trilithic temple of Stonehenge, itself evidently thework of a race similar to that which raised our Devonian cromlechs and rock-circles. That marvellous work is generally believed to have been the national temple of theancient population of southern England. If anywhere then, inWilts should we expectstriking Oriental words, and such we find. The very name of the county is Slavonic. The Wilty were a Slavonic tribe who lived on the borders of Saxony during the middle ages, whose name was probably derived from the Slavonic Wilk a wolf,
a widely extended Aryan word. The term Wilseten may be Saxon, and the Wilty have come over with Cerdic, as adventurers and conquerors of Wessex; but the application of the name to thecounty of Stonehenge and the name of the river Willy, seem to point to a greater antiquity. The name of Wiltshire’s ancient capital, Sarum, is especially important SzafFarzik gives : Sarum as the name of an old Sarmatian city of the Don !
The spellingis the same in both and seems to give Sarum in Wilts a similar relation to the Euthenian Sarum that New Plymouth has to Plymouth.
The word Sarum is not however Slavonic, though Severnoi is still used for Northern, but Persian.
Sara in Zend, Szaffarzik says, means “ the desert or steppe,“ an epithet peculiarly applicable to Salisbury Plain, on the border of which old Sarum was built. No place in England more deserves the sameepithet as Zahara (for Zahara is of the same root) than Salisbury Plain. Whoever hastraversed it on a dark winter’s day will have felt itsloneliness, as near as anything English can be, to the sameness of the Russian steppe or African desert.
In Dorsetshire we do not find many of these Oriental names till we reach the frontiersof Devon where two occur; Sherborne ( Serbona) in Dorset, and Chard
Sherb or Serb is still the name of an entire nationality of Eastern and Sauthern Europe, theServians, whoonce had several large tribes near the Elbe on the Saxon frontier, from whence they were driven south or into Poland, by the Germans. This name Serb may be of still greater antiquity and connected with Sarum, for even till late years the ancient population of Cornwall were called Sarazin (Saracen), by the Cornish, and their deserted stream-works Atal Sarazin. From this, I imagine that this word was the real name of our ancient population, perhaps from their capital being the “City of the Desert“ near Stonehenge. The word Sara-zin would mean „Man of the Desert“ . Sara, Zendic for Desert, In or Jin, being an Oriental termination for man. Of course this theory has its weak side, as Saracen mighthave been brought by the Crusaders into Cornwall; but we may ask why should the Cornishmen think those ancient miners were the Moslem foes of Christendom, unlessthey had a tradition of their Eastern origin?
Of the Cornish name Sarazin we find little trace in the Roman Itineraries, at least in Devon. From Richard of Cirencester, we read that Devon and Cornwall were people during the Roman dominionby three tribes greater antiquity and connected with Sarum, for even till late years the ancient population of Cornwall were called.
I. The Cimbri, Kimri (a branch of the Welsh Cymri probably), who peopled the borders of Devon and Somerset, and probably most of North Devon. These may have been a purely Cymrian tribe, and to their descendants possibly we might owe the strong predominant Celtic influence in Cornish, in which most of the Oriental elements of our Devonian names seem absorbed. The more resolute of the other Britons joined this tribe on the Saxon invasion and thus formed the Cornish nationality, spreading west from the Exe, until the reign of Athelstan, when the Celtic element was pushed back to the Tamar, and the Saxon influence infused into our Devonian nationality. This Cymrian element hassince become so strong in Cornwall as almost to demolish the remains of all non-Celtic population.
II. The Danmonii, whom the Romans found the most powerful people of the West, inhabiting the south coast of Devon and Cornwall, a nation of laborious miners, to whomit may be that we owe much of our Dartmoor antiquities and the Aryan names of South Devon.
II. The Carnabii, or the Gorleuen of the west, perhaps our oldest Aryan population, or the driven to the far west by the tide of successive invasions. The name Carnabii as I have said, would mean, “ the miners “ in Venedic.
Now from my slight acquaintance with what remains of the old Cornish, I should be byno means inclined to class it with the Oriental forms of Aryan.
Of course, all languages of the same family have more or less similarity to each other, and so we must expect to findin the Cornish several words common to all the languages of Europe. There are indeed some few Cornish words that have a striking similarity to Slavonic (of which I haveformed a list), but the mass of the language like the other Celtic tongues is either sui generisor else showing close affinity to the Latin, and to the Latin only of continental languages. I cannot but think, however, that a careful philological analysis of the Cornish; an examination of its divergencies from the other tongues in the Celtic family, andespecially of those words which appear entirely distinct from all the continental forms of Aryan; the elimination of such words as seem to be of a recent Saxon or Latin derivation; an inquiry into the origin of the few, but yet important Venedic forms. an explanation of the strong Latin tendency of the language in general, might, if carefully conducted, leadto the most important results in illustrating the aboriginal ethnology of the West of England.