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The State of Civilisation


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At the time of the first arrival of the Romans upon the State of civilization shores of Britain the natives were variously civilized according to locality, the dwellers on the southern coasts who had some degree of intercourse with their Gallic neighbours across the Channel being far more advanced than those inhabiting the midland and northern, districts.

In the south, agriculture and some of the useful arts had long been practised, especially that of metalworking, as shown in the golden ring-shaped coins and the delicately fashioned personal ornaments in use among them.

Their war chariots also were constructed with great mechanical skill, and show distinct traces of remote and almost prehistoric origin among those distant Asiatic peoples at the time the first wave of Celtic immigration poured into the western continent of the Old world.

The British roads, too, which intersected the island long before the Romans set foot upon it, testify to their constructive skill of a ruder sort; and these the Romans themselves were glad to adopt and improve for their own use, a fact which has given rise to the mistaken belief that most of the great roads through Britain were originally Roman. The Watling Street was formed on the line of an ancient British road, and so were the well known Icknield Street and the Salt-way.

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