What can be lost when a civilization is destroyed

Last month, in an after-election discussion of a possible coming Dark Age, I harked back to an earlier Dark Age:

In The Birth of Britain, Winston Churchill described the comfortable rural villas of Romanized Britain circa 400 A.D. which had inside running water. Then he said that after the Anglo-Saxon conquest of Britain in the fifth century, houses in Britain did not have running water again for another 1,400 years.

I wrote that from memory and had it wrong. Churchill had not been speaking of running water but of central heating and hot baths. Here is the relevant passage in The Birth of Britain (p. 35), which I just came upon:

For nearly three hundred years Britain, reconciled to the Roman system, enjoyed in many respects the happiest, most comfortable, and most enlightened times its inhabitants have ever had…. In this period, almost equal to that which separates us from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, well-to-do persons in Britain lived better than they ever did until late Victorian times. From the year 400 till the year 1900 no one had central heating and very few had hot baths. A wealthy British-Roman citizen building a country house regarded the hypocaust which warmed it as indispensable. For fifteen hundred years his descendants lived in the cold of unheated dwellings, mitigated by occasional roastings at gigantic wasteful fires. Even now a smaller proportion of the whole population dwells in centrally heated houses than in those ancient days. As for baths, they were completely lost till the middle of the nineteenth century. In all this long, bleak intervening gap cold and dirt clung to the most fortunate and highest in the land.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 19, 2012 07:12 PM | Send

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