"In September of 1856 I made the acquaintance of my distinguished friend M. Boucher de Perthes," wrote Dr. Falconer, "on the introduction of M. Desnoyers at Paris, when he presented to me the earlier volume of his Antiquites celtiques, etc., with which I thus became acquainted for the first time. I was then fresh from the examination of the Indian fossil remains of the valley of the Jumna; and the antiquity of the human race being a subject of interest to both, we conversed freely about it, each from a different point of view. M. de Perthes invited me to visit Abbeville, in order to examine his antediluvian collection, fossil and geological, gleaned from the valley of the Somme. This I was unable to accomplish then, but I reserved it for a future occasion.
"In October, 1856, having determined to proceed to Sicily, I arranged by correspondence with M. Boucher de Perthes to visit Abbeville on my journey through France. I was at the time in constant communication with Mr. Prestwich about the proofs of the antiquity of the human race yielded by the Broxham Cave, in which he took a lively interest; and I engaged to communicate to him the opinions at which I should arrive, after my examination of the Abbeville collection. M. de Perthes gave me the freest access to his materials, with unreserved explanations of all the facts of the case that had come under his observation; and having considered his Menchecourt Section, taken with such scrupulous care, and identified the molars of elephas primigenius, which he had exhumed with his own hands deep in that section, along with flint weapons, presenting the same character as some of those found in the Broxham Cave, I arrived at the conviction that they were of contemporaneous age, although I was not prepared to go along with M. de Perthes in all his inferences regarding the hieroglyphics and in an industrial interpretation of the various other objects which he had met with."
That Dr. Falconer was much impressed by the collection of M. de Perthes is shown in a communication which he sent at once to his friend Prestwich:
"I have been richly rewarded," he exclaims. "His collection of wrought flint implements, and of the objects of every description associated with them, far exceeds everything I expected to have seen, especially from a single locality. He has made great additions, since the publication of his first volume, in the second, which I now have by me. He showed me flint hatchets which HE HAD DUG UP with his own hands, mixed INDISCRIMINATELY with molars of elephas primigenius. I examined and identified plates of the molars and the flint objects which were got along with them. Abbeville is an out-of-the-way place, very little visited; and the French savants who meet him in Paris laugh at Monsieur de Perthes and his researches. But after devoting the greater part of a day to his vast collection, I am perfectly satisfied that there is a great deal of fair presumptive evidence in favor of many of his speculations regarding the remote antiquity of these industrial objects and their association with animals now extinct. M. Boucher's hotel is, from the ground floor to garret, a continued museum, filled with pictures, mediaeval art, and Gaulish antiquities, including antediluvian flint-knives, fossil-bones, etc. If, during next summer, you should happen to be paying a visit to France, let me strongly recommend you to come to Abbeville. I am sure you would be richly rewarded."
This letter aroused the interest of the English geologists, and in the spring of 1859 Prestwich and Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Evans made a visit to Abbeville to see the specimens and examine at first hand the evidences as pointed out by Dr. Falconer. "The evidence yielded by the valley of the Somme," continues Falconer, in speaking of this visit, "was gone into with the scrupulous care and severe and exhaustive analysis which are characteristic of Mr. Prestwich's researches. The conclusions to which he was conducted were communicated to the Royal Society on May 12, 1859, in his celebrated memoir, read on May 26th and published in the Philosophical Transactions of 1860, which, in addition to researches made in the valley of the Somme, contained an account of similar phenomena presented by the valley of the Waveney, near Hoxne, in Suffolk. Mr. Evans communicated to the Society of Antiquaries a memoir on the character and geological position of the 'Flint Implements in the Drift,' which appeared in the Archaeologia for 1860. The results arrived at by Mr. Prestwich were expressed as follows:
"First. That the flint implements are the result of design and the work of man.
"Second. That they are found in beds of gravel, sand, and clay, which have never been artificially disturbed.
"Third. That they occur associated with the remains of land, fresh-water, and marine testacea, of species now living, and most of them still common in the same neighborhood, and also with the remains of various mammalia--a few species now living, but more of extinct forms.