Lecture by Mr. F. Stevens – Spring Term 1918

On the last Saturday of the Spring Term, Mr. Stevens told us about Milford Hill 20,000 years ago. He showed us great sheets of water lying below us beyond Bishop’s Down and Laverstock. Mammoths twice as big as elephants were trumpeting to one another from “No. 1.” to the Railway; some were splashing about in the water at Laverstock and crunching boughs of trees in their ugly jaws. Three or four hippopotami were nosing about in the Market-place. Presently we saw a great woolly rhinoceros in the gardens. He smelt us, turned around, put his head down, and charged at us like a tank. But half-way across the Old Pitch he came upon a slimy pool, and his big feet began to sink in. We watched him gradually slipping lower and lower in the mud, till all but his plaintive face was covered, and then, with a final squelch, the mud closed over that too, and he disappeared. Mean­while. over on the Downs we could hear hyenas quarrelling with one another over a carcass they had found. We noticed the back view of an old bear shuffling about on St. Margaret’s Field. But the most inter­esting thing; we saw was a family of human beings enjoying their evening meal. They always enjoyed meals, because they never could tell when they would find any more food. On this occasion they had tracked down a wounded rhinoceros, stoned it, and killed it with their flint knives. They tore open its body, slobbering with excitement, and carried pieces of it to the fire they had made. They quarreled over it, screaming angrily at each other. Soon they settled down to eating steadily, with occasional grunts of contentment. They did not speak in words; they only made noises, used gestures, and made faces, to communicate with one another. None of them were over five feet in height. They had overhanging eyebrows and flat noses, and projecting jaws armed with strong teeth. We noticed that they could not run fast because of their bandy legs, but their arms were long, and we watched them nimbly scrambling over a fallen tree. After the meal they ran off to the river at the bottom of Milford Hill, where they drank from their hands or lapped, up the water like animals. Mr. Stevens showed us a mammoth’s tooth found on the site of the Godolphin School, and said he had at the Museum the bones of the rhinoceros which had been bogged on the Old Pitch.

M. CHILTON (Upper VI.).