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The present results of scientific observation about this family of Echinoderms can be referred to in the British Museum Catalogue published in 1892. The following will afford a brief abstract of their natural history and distribution :—
Two varieties of the sea-urchin named Strongylo-centrotiu are described, one of which has all its spines of nearly equal length, termed S. droelachiensis. This is an inhabitant of circumpolar seas, ranging as far south as the coast of France, and recorded as occurring in Massachusetts Bay, Vancouver's Island, and the Sea of Okhotsk. In Scotland it lives in the Shetland Islands and Cromarty Frith.
The second species or variety, S. lividus, has spines of varying size, the primary series being distinctly longer than the secondaries; this is the sea-urchin that burrows on the rocks at Bundoran and elsewhere round the coast of Ireland, as at Malin Head, the coasts of Galway and Clare, the Aran Islands, and Cork. Its distribution extends south to the Canaries, Brazil, and Mediterranean Seas. It is, therefore, widely spread over the ocean shores, and must have excavated cup-shaped hollows on its rocky habitations in remote ages as well as in our own days.
The important bearing of these observations and deductions is obvious, for they must apply to many localities where similar cup-like markings are recorded, and numerous woodcuts representing them are contained in the Publications of the Royal Archaeological Association of Ireland, and other kindred societies. The depressions, as might be expected, occur scattered irregularly over the surface of their stony beds, though sometimes a series may be noticed disposed close to the edge of the block in apparently an orderly plan, varying in size and depth according to the bulk of the original tenant. Some that I measured ranged from i of an inch across, to even 4 inches. It will be found, where the blocks containing such cups form portions of rude stone monuments, that they are sometimes placed in situations not exposed, or intended by their builders to be exposed, to observation, though far less often than they are seen in uncovered places.
I would claim for illustrations of these "Echini" markings several of the cupped stones figured in Sir James Simpson's classic work on "British Archaic Sculpturings": for instance, Plate III., which represents a megalithic block from the circle at Rothicmay, Banffshire. This stone, an immense oblong, measuring 13 feet long, 6 feet high, and about 4 feet in thickness, has on one side of it between fifty and sixty cups; two of these cups are described as surrounded by definite circles. These may be due to human workmanship, but the other simple depressed cupules, I consider, are not. If future observation should confirm the co-existence of ring-like additions to the Echinus markings, it will be a decided gain to our knowledge; and now that attention is pointedly directed to their possible occurrence, they ought to be recognisable without difficulty or doubt. One possible source of error does exist, und is easily guarded against; in certain shaly, arenaceous, and schistose rocks, long-continued exposure to atmospheric influence produces, by exfoliation of the rocky surface, a deceptive appearance of concentric arrangement around the cups. This appears to have occurred on rocks figured Nos. 1 and 2 on Plate XI. of Sir J. Simpson's work, being the two upper figures of that plate. They are described as belonging to Yorkshire; and I have examined an arenaceous grit in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy that admits of a similar explanation. In this example considerable scaling from weathering has taken place around the cups, and over the surface of the block, which was brought from a rude stone monument in the county Fermanagh.
Again, on referring to Plate IV. of Sir James Simpson's work, three stones are represented—obtained respectively from Thorax, from Moncrieff, and from Dunbar—which I consider are good illustrations of Echinus pittings. The first of these stones is composed of a hard granitic or syenitic material. It was obtained from a stone circle in Banffshire. No. 2 belonged to a small, but complete, megalithic circle a few miles south of Perth. It is said to have been removed from the centre of this circle many years ago, and now lies a few feet outside of it. The stones of this circle are described as being apparently secondary trap rock. No. 3 is a fine monolith, near Dunbar. All these stones present distinctive cup markings.
Several localities on the Continent also afford examples of stones employed in megalithic monuments pitted in a similar manner. Let me refer to one in Portugal for an illustration. A good representation of it is given in M. Cartailhac's volume on "Les Ages Prehistoriques de l'Espagne et du Portugal," page 176. The woodcut is that of a "Pierre Couverture de l'all6e de l'anta de Paredes avec ses ecuelles." This large block presents on its surface groups of irregularly disposed hollows or "cupules" of varying size, and rounded shape, "not less in number than twenty-five." They are described as seldom attaining a greater depth than 5 centimetres, with a breadth of 8 centimetres, measurements which approximate closely to the Echinus depressions I noticed on the stones at Lough Melvin. In construction the allee couverte has close similarity to the parallel stone walls and their covering blocks of our "Hags' Beds," "Beds of Grania and Diarmod," or "Giants' Graves," whilst the Anta answers rather to our dolmen, or, perhaps, to the larger terminal chamber of the giant's grave. I would refer to M. Cartailhac's work for further references to similar cup-shaped depressions on stone in other localities, in some of which he mentions that the "cupules" must have been present on the stones before these were deposited in the situations they now occupy.
If we admit that the ancient races who erected these great megalithic constructions, as is quite probable, entertained either special veneration, or placed some peculiar value on stones marked by cups or pitted with Echinus holes, it would not be drawing too much on our imagination to suppose that their descendants may have endeavoured to imitate what their forefathers prized. At present I have no positive proof such was the case, beyond the occurrence on several of these stones of secondary rings, the undoubted work of man. After considerable research, I am obliged to state that almost without exception the simple "cupules," or egg-shaped hollows, on our rude stone monuments are to be attributed, not to man, but to that wide-spread inhabitant of our seas, which still flourishes, from the Mediterranean, at least, to the north of Ireland, the very ancient excavator Echinus lividw, or, as it is now named, Strongylo-centrotus lividus.
Abstract Op Observations On Echini Perforating The Granite Op Brittany. By M. Valenciennes.1
"The attention of naturalists has always been nwakened by the curious habit of many mollusca and zoophytes of excavating cavities for their habitations in rocks of great hardness, and of very different natures. It was at first supposed that these perforating animals only attacked the calcareous rocks, which led several people to think that the erosion required to form the hole was assisted by the action of some acid. It lias been admitted of necessity, however, that in particular cases the animals only employed mechanical means, as the teredos and the pholades, and even the sipuneuU, were found to pierce wood. Of late years naturalists have observed felspathic rocks burrowed by mollusca. M. Caillaud, of Nantes, sent to the Academy specimens of granite from Pouliguen, in the Bay of Croisic, perforated by pholades. Granite altered by sea-water was more easily attacked.
"More recently M. Eugene Robert exhibited to the Academy a block of old red sandstone obtained from the shore of the great Bay of Douarnenez, which was perforated with numerous holes, evidently formed by the Echini, which were lodged in them. Each rounded cavity is in exact proportion, both as to size and form, with the body of the Echinoderm.
"M. Lory, of Grenoble, has begged me to exhibit several specimens of perforating Echini which have taken up their abode in the granite of the Bay of Croisic, not far from Piriac. It is the same granite as thsit from Pouliguen, and in the same state of alteration. The primitive rock is there perforated by mollusca and Echinodermata for an extent
1 "Comptes Rendus," November 5th, 1885, page 755; and "Annals of Natural History," vol. xvii., page 46, New Series.
of several kilometres. These which M. Lory has discovered are certainly of the same species as the Echini which burrow in the old red sandstone of the Bay of Douarnenez. They closely resemble the Mediterranean Echinus mentioned by Lamarck under the name of Echinus lividus. It is one of the most abundant Echini on the coast, and in the market of Marseilles, whence Lamarck obtained his specimens, I have never heard that these individuals possessed perforating habits, and probably a careful examination of living specimens of the Echinus from the coast of Brittany may show that it belongs to a distinct species, notwithstanding its apparent identity with that belonging to the Mediterranean. In this case it might be called Echinus terebrans."
THE KETELLEK MONUMENT, KILKENNY. By P. M. EGAN, Fellow^ Hon. Local Secretary, Kilrenny City. Ine of the most historic monuments which time in its tardy revela
tions has presented to the Irish Archaeologist, very lately left its hiding-place of many centuries, as if to bewilder us by the volume of quaint story, which it recalls through its numerous ancient associations. A small public-house in the west of High-street, at the corner of Chapel-lane, about 80 yards north of St. Mary's Church, Kilkenny, is the scene of the discovery. Last year this house was burned down, and while rebuilding in the summer of 1894, the workmen dug up this stone slab, which appears to be about five-eighths of a whole tomb-stone, from a position quite close to the pathway, within 2 feet or less of the surface. The house being the property of Messrs. E. Smithwick & Sons, Brewers, the stone was brought down to the brewery yard, where it still remains for inspection. The numerous inquiries made concerning it, proved at least that if the querists were not solely inspired by archaeology, they had received a very considerable thirst for information, at least through curiosity. The stone is of a very flinty character, which has rendered it more easily defaced, and by a strange coincidence this quality tells worst upon the part where the surname is inscribed. The inscription is in Norman French, and to any person not acquainted with the formation of the letters of the period, it is rather difficult to translate. The R was the letter which created most difficulty. There are two R's, but there are also two K's, which are almost similar to the R's, except that the turning stroke of the R is from the top of the line, while that of the K springs about a quarter of an inch below the top of the perpendicular stroke. It was the reading of these four letters as R's, which made it impossible for most of the experts at first to decipher the inscription. The K being the initial letter of the surname, rendered this difference between it and the R all important, and it is the distinction between these two letters that supplies the whole key to the enigma. The upper portion of a simple inscribed cross with ogee ornaments on the arms, is surrounded by the inscription, which runs close to the edge. It begins at the top right-hand side of the cross, and finishes with the word "vas." The other side commences where the stone has been broken off at the base, with the word " trespasa" (deceased). I offer no opinion upon the 22nd to the 26th letters. An illustration of the stone is given on Plate facing p. 79. To illustrate the style of tomb