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Our Bookshelf.: Anthropology and Archæology

Nature volume 127, page 363 (07 March 1931) | Download Citation



(1) IN the first volume of this work, which was published separately, the author made a study of the tradition of the pagan circle. In the second, which appears after his death, he has turned to the cross, the early Christian church in Britain and Ireland, and traces its relation to the antecedent circle. His thesis is that paganism and Christianity, both being cults of the dead, the converts to the new faith continued to worship at the old holy places, the mounds and burial-places of the dead, which became the site of the Christian church, and to use them as the place of interment and of assembly for the discussion of the affairs of the community and for games, feasts, and fairs. On a review of the evidence, the author makes out a strong case for carrying this continuity much further in detail than has been done before. The identity of the places of worship of Christianity and paganism has been frequently argued? it is supported by the letter of instruction from the Pope to Mellitus permitting the use of pagan shrines for Christian worship, even if other evidence did not point in the same direction. Mr. Allcroft has greatly extended the field in which continuity of practice and belief must be allowed. On certain points, however, he has pressed his theories rather far, as he himself would have been the first to admit. His assumption of a widespread Celtic influence in the area of the Saxon church solves many of his problems, but it would be hard to prove.

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