Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

66

Antiquarian Researches.

at page 101, as then remaining in the window of the chancel of Oakham Church (together with the Arms of Thomas of Woodstock, impaling Bohun.)

The Chair (thus appropriated) is a curiosity, and is doubtless upwards of three hundred years old; the owner being a Knight of the Garter prior to the accession of Henry VIII. in 1509. The pannel is too small for the carving to show the heraldic colours, and the bearings are all strongly given, but lines are added distinguishing the colours, for greater accuracy. The corners of the square are filled by heads of cherubs and other orna

ments.

ROMAN AND BRITISH COINS.

[ocr errors]

TASCIOV RIGON

Mr. JOHN BARNARD, of Harlow, Essex, has favoured us with a British Coin which is not in Mr. Ruding's Work; nor in Pegge's Essay on the Coins of Cunobeline." It was lately found near Epping; the metal is electrum; its weight 5 dwt. 10 gr.; on one side is represented a man in armour on horseback, on the reverse, TASCIOVRICON *.

Near Harlow, Essex, are the remains of a Roman station, not yet noticed by Antiquaries. The castellum, or place of strength, appears to have been in the neighbouring parish of Latton, on an elevated field which was formerly almost surrounded by the waters of the river Stort. The works are not now visible, but a few feet below the surface are the foundations of very strong walls.

It is not improbable that this was one of the forts formed by the Romans, to defend the Trinobantes from the Cateuchlani; as the Stort here, and, for some distance up its course, divides the counties of Essex and Herts. This conjecture is rendered more plausible by the appearance of four of these Stations on the Essex side of the river, in the short space of nine miles; viz. this at Harlow, or Latton; one at Hallingbury, called Wallbury, distant four miles; one at Bishop's Stortford, three miles; and another at Stansted Mont Fitchet, two miles further.

Perhaps some of our Antiquarian Readers can assist in discovering the Roman

*"In consequence of the connexion between the names of Cunobeline and Tascio,, those coins which bear the latter name, without the former, are usually attributed to that Monarch."-Ruding on Coinage, vol. I. p. 200.

[Jan.

name of this Station at Harlow; it is distant from London 23 miles, from Cheshunt 12 miles, and from St. Alban's or Verulam 24 miles.

Among the antiquities found here (most of which are in Mr. Barnard's possession), are, a small bronze head of Silenus, of very good workmanship; a large bronze broach, and fragments of a cup of highly polished red ware, on the outsides of which are figures of a cock and a triton, found in a grave eight or ten feet deep.

British Coins.-A helmetted head with CVNOBELINI; reverse, a hogt, and TASCIIOVANIT.-Another, with a head on one side; on the other, a man striking upon an anvil;-one with a star, between the rays of which are the letters VERLAMIO; reverse, an ox ;-auother similar, except that the head of the ox is turned the contrary way; and two or three others not intelligible.

Roman Coins.-Silver, of Sabina, Faustina the elder, and Constantinus jun. Brass, various sizes and various Emperors, from the first Claudius to Valentinian, in all upwards of 200.

ROMAN COINS.

The Rev. M. D. DUFFIELD, of Caston, near Watton, in Norfolk, (who has undertaken the History and Antiquities of the county of Cambridge) has supplied us with an account of the following discovery.

On the 28th of Oct. 1820, as some labourers were digging in a clay-pit in the North-west part of this parish, they found, about five feet below the surface of the ground, a silver ring, and nearly 200 Roman coins, chiefly silver. It is most probable that they had been buried in a purse or box, as no vessel was found with them. M. D. has nine of the silver coins in his possession, which have these inscriptions:

1. "Imp. Otho Caesar Arg. Tr. P." Caput Othonis sine laureâ. Reverse, "Secvritas P. R." Fig. mulieb. stans dext. laureolam, sin. hastam tenens.

2. "A. Vitellivs Germ. Imp. Avg. Tr. P." Caput Vitellii laureatum.-Reverse, "XV. Vir. Sacr. Fac." (Quindecim vir sacris faciendis.) Tripos cum Delphino The trisuprà & avicula infra seden.

pos was a table in the temple of Apollo, to which Deity both the Dolphin and the Crow were sacred. Vitellius was one of those whose office it was to keep the Sybill's books, and make certain sacrifices. -3, " Imp. Caes. Vesp. Avg. P. M. Cos. IIII." Caput Vesp. laureatum. - Reverse, "Victoria Avgvsti." Victoria stans

Engraved in Ruding, Pl. 5, fig. 23. Ibid. fig. 3.

sin.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

5. "Antoninvs Avg. Pivs. PP. TR. P. XV." Caput Anton. laur. Reverse, "Cos. IIII." Fœmina stans dext. ampullam, sin. statum. There were several of Antoninus with different inscriptions. 6. " Avgvsta Favstina." Caput Faustinæ. - Reverse, Sæcvli Felicit." Duo pueruli (Commodus & Antoninus, gemini) sedentes in lectulo.

[ocr errors]

7. "Favstina Avgvsta." Cap. Faust. Reverse, "Jvno." Juno stans dext. pateram, sin. hastam tenet.

[blocks in formation]

9. "Diva Favstina." Caput Faust. Reverse, "Augusta." Fœmina stans in sinist, hastam tenet."

Of the Coins here found, the oldest which Mr. D. has seen or heard of, is that of Otho; and the latest, those of Faustina. -About seven years ago, a little to the South-west, an urn and some coins were found, among which was a gold one. These discoveries seem to prove that here was a Roman station, from which the village took its name, Caston [Castrum].

COIN OF TITUS.

67

A silver coin of Titus was found in the rubbish of an old house, which was lately pulled down in Eastgate-street, in the city of Chester. In digging the foundation for the new building, a pavement was discovered at about eight feet below the present level of the street. This gives strength to the prevalent opinion, that the level of the city was originally that of the floor of the Cathedral, to which persons have now to descend by several steps.

HUMAN SKEletons.

The workmen of Mr. Stevens, surveyor, of Bury St. Edmund's, whilst raising gravel in the hill, near the Priory, have discovered at a small depth from the surface of the earth, the skeletons of 24 human bodies, of rather gigantic size, but in every respect perfect. Numerous persons have been to view them, and it is supposed they are a part of the bodies slain in the bloody battle fought on that spot during the reign of Henry II. and when the differences existed between that Monarch and his son, when, to aid the latter, the Earl of Leicester was marching through Fornham, from Framlingham, with an immense army of Flemings (principally artificers and weavers); but were attacked by the King's troops, who dispersed them in an instant, and put 10,000 of them to the sword, and took their Commander prisoner. This engagement took place in 1174, upwards of 600 years since.

PHILOSOPHICAL INQUIRIES.

COL. MACDONALD, ON THE NORTH-WEST MAGNETIC POLE.

I rejoice to see it announced, that the Discovery-Ships are to proceed again to explore the Polar Basin, to the West of Baffin's Bay. From accounts, as far as they have been as yet published, it does not appear to me that the vast accumulation of thick ice will admit of proceeding Westward on the parallel of latitude of the newly-discovered Georgian Islands; which, however, ought to be completely explored, in order, if possible, to ascertain the precise position of the Northwest Magnetic Pole; and also to find what advantages the Whale Fishery may derive from these discoveries.

It has not been made manifest that there is no passage from Repulse Bay, into the Polar Basin, This would be the shortest course to the Hyperborean Coast, along which alone, there seems to me to be the best chance of getting to Behring's Straits; and this on nearly the parallel

of 70°. Should the ice oppose a Western progress along this inhospitable coast of about 85 degrees of reduced longitude, no resource will remain but to achieve the object by land. As the Country is inhabited by several tribes of Indians, whose dispositions are unknown, a certain cautious mode of procedure is indispensable.

Under these circumstances, European nations, interested in the object to be accomplished, should join in the expense of establishing a chain of small posts of the blockhouse description, as otherwise, progress, combined with safety, would be quite impossible.-The Posts (as distant as possible from each other) might be constructed of such materials as the country afforded. It is probable that the Fur trade might be materially benefited by this measure, requiring time and resolute enterprise.-Even if a North-west Passage is effected by sea, through Bhering's Straits, navigation will derive little advantage from it, as far as regards

the

68 Philosophical Inquiries.-North West Magnetic Pole. [Jan.

the comparative duration of Voyages to distant quarters.

Any person may be convinced of this by applying a thread to a ship's supposed course on the projection of the Sphere, called a Chart. By this simple trial, a line to Bengal, passing through Baffin's Bay and Bhering's Straits, will be to a line from England to Bengal, by the Cape of Good Hope, in the propor tion of 45 to 33.-Again, a line from England to China, by a North-west Passage, and the same by the Cape and Straits of Sunda, will be in the proportion of the lengths of 39 to 32, nearly.-Here we have, independent of the great risk of the navigation, a great addition of run.The North-east Passage round Nova Zembla and Cape Taimuriu, the most Northerly of Russia, has not yet been clearly ascertained; and there is reason to think that there is land to the N.E. of this Cape, towards Bhering's Straits. But even supposing a North-east Passage practicable, a line from England by it, and through these Straits, to China, and the common line through the Straits of Sunda, would be, in relative lengths, nearly in the proportion of 44 to 32. Two persons in making this decisive experiment of comparative measurement, may not go over precisely the same course : but any arising difference will not amount to 1, or 1, and consequently will not militate against the resulting conclusions.

In addition to the celebrated Magnetic Authors, mentioned in my former Communication, I omitted the name of Dr. Gilbert, who, in his "Physiologia Nova de Magnete," and in other publications, has displayed experimentally and theoretically, more knowledge of this occult and obscure science, as far as it has arrived, than all the other authors put together. He also adopted the notion of different Magnetic Poles. In necessarily abandoning the supposition of a Southeast and South-west Magnetic Pole, on account of finding no adequate variation contiguous to their imagined sites, the existence of a moving Magnetic Cause round the South Pole also, will remain dubious, till a continued trial of the va riation during a series of years, on the nearest Terra Firma to that Pole, shall indicate such conclusion as may be satisfactory to Philosophy. I throw out the idea, because certain anomalies of variation in South latitudes, require some such supposition.

I am aware, Mr. Urban, that the solidity of the earth may be urged against the possibility of a moving Magnetic cause: but what proof have we that the Sphere we live on, is solid beyond the degree of thickness requisite to preserve its form from being materially altered by its rapid motion round the Sun; by its diurnal mo

tion round its axis; and by its motion round its common centre of gravity with the Moon? Newton in his chair, proved by science, what the French Philosophers confirmed by actual measurement; viz. the difference between the Equatorial and Polar diameters of the Earth, arising from the projection of the Globe at the Equator, by its rotatory motion. Were the Earth a solid to its centre, this motion on an imaginary axis, would not give it the ascertained form of an oblate spheroid; as a hard solid moving in empty space, cannot be supposed to yield into that shape, by any law of action as yet unfolded by science. The planet Jupiter is above thirteen hundred times the bulk of the Earth; and Saturn, independent of his double ring, is about a thousand times the bulk of our globe. These dimensions are made out by the clearest rules of science. If we apply to these prodigious bodies the reasoning of Newton relative to plastic forms moving variously, there is no ground for concluding that they are solid substances to their centres. If they were, their vast weight would require infinitely more attraction than probably even the sun could furnish. True, nothing is impossible with the Deity, whose laws of Nature are as simple, as they are beautifully efficient, but we honour his name by following such reasoning as Newton's, inferior as he was to infinite beings :

[ocr errors]

Superior Beings, when of late they saw, A mortal man unfold all Nature's law; Admir'd such wisdom in an earthly shape, And shew'd a Newton as we shew an ape."

It is difficult to write on such a subject; but still we are certainly more warranted in concluding that the earth is not a solid throughout, than the reverse.

During the next voyage, I take it for granted, that the requisite scientific preparations will be made for commencing to discover whether or not the newlyascertained Magnetic Cause has a movement; and this can only be made out in due process of time. The Dipping Needle to be used should be of a very light construction, and might in its plane carry a very light card, marked as usual, with the whole turning on a point. By means of a graduated circumference round the exact meridian to be laid off, and a scale of minutes on one of the extremities of the needle, this whole contrivance would shew the variation-dip and diurnal variation, while the observations of subsequent periods would mark the alteration or stability of the North-west Magnetic Pole. The whole compass of Science hardly offers a subject of higher interest.

JOHN MACDONALD, Summerland-place, Exeter, Jan. 9.

1821.] Philosophical Inquiries -Variation of the Seasons.

VARIATION OF THE SEASONS.

It is a generally-received opinion, that the Seasons of this Country have of late years undergone a great revolution; that our climate has lost much of its former temperature, that our Winters are more severe, and our Summers much colder than formerly; and as we possess no register of the weather previously to the invention of the thermometer, we have no positive data upon which we can rely for determining the question; those, how ever, who entertain this opinion, adduce various facts in support of it, aud, amongst others, they mention the circumstance of our formerly having had our vineyards, from which we manufactured our wines; and they go so far as to assert that our orchards are beginning to fail from the same cause, and that we shall probably be as destitute of apples as we now are of vineyards, and be obliged to import them from other countries; and, taking all this as a thing not to be questioned or doubted, they endeavour to discover the cause, which they find in the extension of the Polar Ice to the South

own

ward. As one proof, they tell us that formerly the Danes had their colonies in Greenland, where the climate was then of so mild a temperature, as to afford abundant sustenance for man and beast, and that the whole had perished in consequence of the Ice of the Pole having extended itself to the coast, by which all communication was cut off with the interior of the country, and which, by causing a diminution of temperature, had rendered it a barren waste; this certainly is a powerful argument in their favour, indeed we believe the strongest they can adduce, for not only History, but some recent discoveries, in consequence of this barrier of ice having lately given way, render the fact of Colonies having formerly been established there unquestionable, for the remains of their habitations have been found.

We are now told that the great Arctic bason has broken up, and drifted into the warmer regions of the Atlantic, and hence they predict that we shall have milder seasons, and a return of our former temperature; now we confess that we are by no means satisfied, nor convinced, either by the arguments or opinions of these gentlemen; on the contrary, we believe that our climate has lost nothing of its former temperature, and that it is at this moment just what it was in the days of Tacitus. That Historiau describes Britain in his time as liable to frequent vicissitudes; whether he ever visited it himself, we believe, is unknown, but if he did not speak from local observation, his information was probably derived from Agricola, his near

69

relation, who commanded the Roman legions here for several years, and made a conquest of nearly the whole of this Island, which he circumnavigated completely, as History informs us; and what does that Historian say he tells us expressly, that it was peculiarly liable to these frequent changes; that there was much more fog and rain than on the neighbouring Continent; that we had less frost and snow, and our summers were considerably cooler than was experienced in Gaul or Germany this we know from our own experience to be the case at this day.

The writer of this article is a Septuagenarian, consequently old enough to have witnessed many of the vicissitudes of our inconstant climate, and perhaps has paid more attention to the weather and seasons than most men.

We shall proceed to give some remarkable instances of these within the period of more than half a century.

In the year 1761 we had an uncommonly dry spring and summer, very much like 1818; the meadows were burnt up, and in many parts of the country the hay failed intirely. The weather changed about the end of July, with some heavy thunder storms, which greatly refreshed the earth, and restored vegetation. An unusual harvest followed, and they were reaping wheat, even in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, the latter end of July or the first week of August.

The succeeding winter had nothing remarkable to distinguish it from our ordinary winters, but that of the following year, 1762-3, was uncommonly cold, severe, and long; it set in attended with much snow early in November, without a break, or any symptom of thaw, till late in February.

The next winter was a mild one, but that of 1764.5, was yet more so; there were some few days frost about Christmas, and a little about the middle of February, after which we had constant open weather, with heavy rains and frequent storms from the South-west and West, which continued till the 14th of April. It might naturally have been expected that such a winter as this would have been followed by an early spring. No such occurrence, however, took place; it was kept back by a series of cold rains and tempests, which put a complete check to vegetation.

The year 1790, was ushered in with weather unusually mild, and an early spring; the gooseberry bushes were in bloom, the elms had began to show forth their leaves. We witnessed the elder in complete leaf on the 6th of February, and gathered the blossom of the hawthorn in our own grounds ou the 10th of April that year. But the year 1794 was, perhaps, the most remarkable of any that had occurred for centuries; for that year we seemed

70

Philosophical Inquiries.—Variation of the Seasons.

seemed to have changed our climate for that of Italy or Spain.

Many instances of these vicissitudes of our climate have since taken place, and must be in the recollection of many individuals which it would be superfluous to quote. Some years ago, we had such a succession of cold summers and backward harvests, that the shooting season was postponed from the first to the middle of September, by Act of Parliament, and continued in force till the seasons came round to their ordinary course. The summers of 1816 and 1817, were so cold, bleak, and wet, that the harvest did not commence till late in September, even in the more Southern parts of the island'; and in several places the corn never ripened at all, particularly in Scotland.

The summer of 1818 was remarkable for drought and heat, scarcely a drop of rain falling from May till late in September; and the face of the country was so completely scorched by the Sun, that it presented a spectacle more like the arid plains of Hindostan than the verdant fields of Britain.

We have adduced the above observations, in order to show how far the opinion entertained of the deterioration of the temperature of our climate is well founded or otherwise. The Roman historian says, it was such in his time; and the Monkish historians of the middle ages assure us it was the same in their day, and thus confirm their assertions. They relate various instances of rigorous winters; one mentions a winter which commenced in November, and continued till the middle of April and another tells us of a severe frost at Midsummer, which destroyed the corn and fruits, and produced a famine. The weather and seasons seem to depend entirely upon the prevailing winds: if Easterly winds predominate during the winter months, we are sure to have severe frosts and backward springs; if they occur at later periods, we experience cold summers and backward harvests; but if Southerly winds prevail, we then experience the reverse, when the continent becomes heated by the powerful influence of a summer's sun. If the wind comes from the South or South-east, then we feel oppressed with extreme heat, as was the case some few years ago, when the thermometer rose for two successive days to 92 degrees; the wind was from the South-east, and if its course could have been traced, would probably have been found to have been an emanation of the Sirocco of the Mediterranean, which is well known to be a hot blast from the African deserts, somewhat diluted and softened by blending itself with the more temperate atmosphere of the European continent.

Our insular situation too, doubtless, is

[Jan.

another, perhaps the principal cause of these variations of seasons and climate, and subjects us to more humidity than the countries of the Continent more distant from the Atlantic ocean. Accordingly, when a Westerly wind predominates in winter, we have heavy rains and stormy weather; and when, unattended with these, we have a mild temperature, and nothing to remind us of winter but the shortness of the days whilst in the same latitudes, upon the neighbouring Continent, the rivers and waters are bound up in ice.

At the sea side, the weather in the month of January 1817 was so unusually mild, that the thermometer ranged the greater part of the month between 50 and 58, and on one day rose to 60. The wind was from the South-west, and it probably came from the vicinity of the Tropic.

Such appear to be the real causes of the varieties of season we so frequently experience; but why these only occur occasionally, and are not uniform, would puzzle the wisest to account for. The two cold and wet summers of 1816 and 1817, have by some been imputed to the disruption of the Arctic ice, which by drifting by the tides and winds down the Atlantic, had chilled the atmosphere to a great extent, and extended its influence to us. This, however, appears perfectly visionary; for had that been the cause, how will they account for those varieties in our seasons for the last fifty years and more, when no such event was known to have taken place. We cau easily believe, that these immense bodies of ice might lower the temperature of the air in their immediate vicinity, but this would be too inconsiderable to have any influence upon the atmosphere of our Island. Besides, it is to be observed, that these have been found nearer to the American continent than the British shores, and yet we have no information that any change has taken place in the temperature of America; but after all, great as they are said to be, the largest of them are mere specks, minute points floating and drifting in that vast body of water the Atlantic, too insignificant to operate any sensible change on its surrounding atmosphere. That these have proceeded from the Arctic regions, is unquestionable; they may be part of the ice which had so long barred all access to the coast of Greenland, or they may be fragments detached from the main body of the Polar ice, by storms and tides, or both. But the two expeditions of 1818 have fully demonstrated, that the main body of ice has sustained no sensible diminution, that it was found compact and united in every part, as before, all the way between Spitzbergen and Greenland, presenting every where an insurmountable

« AnteriorContinuar »