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Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
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Letter Supporting Exploration of the Deneholes
(S365a: 1883)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A letter to Raphael Meldola read at the 27 October 1883 meeting of the Essex Field Club, and later printed on page lx of Volume Four of their Journal of Proceedings series in 1892. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S365A.htm

"Frith Hill, Godalming, Oct. 8th, 1883.

     "Dear Mr. Meldola.--In reply to your letter asking for my opinion as to the advisability of an exploration of the Deneholes at Grays, I have no hesitation in saying that I consider it most important, and likely to lead to very interesting results. Having resided at Grays for some years, and being well acquainted with the general aspect of the surrounding country, as well as with the position and main features of the Deneholes themselves, and having read Mr. Holmes' excellent account of the explorations already made at Grays and elsewhere, it appears to me in the highest degree probable that these curious excavations were originally granaries or store-cellars, and that they indicate the site of ancient villages of some unknown but probably prehistoric epoch. Their thorough examination may therefore reveal a hitherto unknown chapter in the history of our island. Looking at the great number of these very deep and narrow shafts crowded together in a small space and leading to symmetrically excavated chambers which do not usually [? never.--Ed.] communicate with each other, and considering further that chalk and flint are to be obtained close to the surface within a distance of about a mile, and that all ancient excavations for the purpose of obtaining these substances differ radically from Deneholes in all their essential features--the suggestion that they are mere chalk or flint pits, and that therefore no exploration is necessary, appears to me to be quite on a par with that celebrated explanation of the glacial striæ, as being mere scratches and ruts produced by the cart-wheels of the native inhabitants.

"Believe me,
"Yours very faithfully,
"Alfred R. Wallace."

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