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HEN I first determined to write the famous atchievements of our ancestors, and, after I had purged them from the mixture of vain fables to vindicate them from oblivion, I thought it conducive to my purpose to repeat from the very beginning (as much as so long a distance of time, and first the scarcity, then the loss of l\earned monuments would permit) what the situation of the countrys were, what was the nature of the soil and air, what were the ancient names and manners, and who were the first inhabitants of the islands called of old Brittany, which are extended between Spain and Germany in a long tract of land toward France. Albion and Ireland, two of them, do far exceed the rest in bigness, and therefore of these two I shall speak first, afterwards, as conveniency serves, I will explain the site and the names of the rest.
2. The first, for bigness, is Albion. That now alone retains the name of Britain, which was heretofore common to them all. Concerning its breadth and length, other writers do, in effect, agree with Caesar, namely, that the length of it from north to south is 800 miles, and the breadth, where it is widest, which is (as some think) where it looks towards France, or (as others say) from the point of St. Davids in South Wales to Yarmouth in Norfolk, almost 200 miles. From thence it narrow by degrees, till we come to the borders of Scotland. The Romans, who as yet knew not the furthest parts thereof, believed the island to be triangular, but when they proceeded a little further they found that beyond Adrian’s Wall it extended it self broader by degrees, and ran out far towards the north-east.
3. This in brief, concerning its bigness. The climate of Britain is more temperate than that of France, as Caesar affirms, but the climate of Ireland is milder than them both. The air thereof is seldom clear, but commonly darkened with thick mists, the winters are mild enough, rather rainy than snowy. The soil brings forth corn plentifully, and, besides corn, it produceth all sorts of metals. It is also very fruitful in breeds of cattle. They who inhabit the extream parts of the islands, which are more infested with cold, do eat bread made of oatmeal, and for drink they use a wine or strong liquor made of corn steeped into malt. Some do boil whey and keep it in hogsheads under ground for some months, which is counted by many of them not only an wholesome but a very pleasant drink. There was no controversy concerning the name of Britain amongst the ancients, except that the Greeks call’d it Brettania, the Latins Brittania. Other nations have their appellation of it, some one, some t’other, at their pleasure. But of late some men have started up, not so much desirous of truth as of contention, who hoped to make themselves famous by carping at other eminent persons, for they imagined that they must needs obtain a great opinion of learning amongst the vulgar, who dared to enter the lists against, and to combat with, all antiquity. And though the dispute were of a thing of no great consequence, yet, because it concerned the very name of their country, they thought it worth contending for with all their might, as if all the ancient glory of the whole nation had lain at stake. They say that three ancient names of the island have their several assertors, viz., Prudania, Prytaneia and Britannia. Lud contends with might and main for Prudania; Thomas Eliot, a British knight, for Prytaneia, but very modestly. Almost all other nations to retain the name of Britain. Lud, to maintain his assertion for Prudania, useth the authority of a certain old paper fragment, which rust, mouldiness and length of time (and nothing else) have made almost sacred with him. Tho’ he counts that proof firm enough of it self, yet he strengthens it by etymology; by the songs of the bards; by the custom of the country speech; and by the venerable rust of antiquity. But, in the first place, I ask him, whence came that fragment on which he lays the stress and weight of his cause? When was it writ? Who was the author of it? Or what says it that makes for his assertion? Concerning the name, the time, the author, all these (may he perhaps allege) are uncertain, which proves (he thinks) the antiquity thereof. An excellent proof indeed, where the certainty, credit and authority of the testimony doth depend on ignorance, meanness and obscurity! And that which is assumed to explain the matter in controversy hath more intricacy and weakness in it than the cause which it is brought to maintain. Who then gives testimony in this case? I know not (says he). What then does he pretend to in lieu of a testimony? I know not that neither (replies he). But, prithee, tell me, what is that Prudania? Is it a mountain or a river? A village or a town? A man or a woman? Here I am posed too (says he); but I conjecture that Britain is signified by that. Go to, then, let Prudania signify Britain, Yet what doth this thy fragment make for thee? I would ask this question of thee, whether it affirms Prudania to be the true name of the island, or else doth not rather upbraid their ignorance who ascribe that false name to it. Here too I am nonplust (says Lud), but this I am certain of, that here is the sound of a British word, and the force of the British language doth appear even in the very etymology thereof. For Prudania is, as it were, Prudcania, which is in British Excellent Beauty, from pryd, signifying beauty, and cam, white, the asperity of that word being somewhat mollified. But for that reason it should be called Prudcamia, not Prudania, which word the bards do pronounce pruda in their country speech. I shall not here speak how trivial, deceitful,and oftentimes ridiculous this enquiry after the the original of words is. I pass by Varro and other learned men who have been often derided upon this account. I omit also the whole Cratylus of Plato, wherein he is guilty of the same fault. I will only affirm this, that before equal judges a man may more easily prove that the word Cambri is derived from canis and brutum, a dog and a brute, than that you shall persuade me that Prudania comes from Prudcamia. for by this means you may derive quodlibet e quolibet as you please. And indeed, Lud him self shews what little confidence he puts in his own proofs, when he calls in the bards to his aid, a race of men, I grant, indeed very ancient, but yet antiquity affirms they committed nothing to writing. But of these I shall speak more elsewhere.
4. Let us now come to the last refuge of Lud. Caesar, says he, who first mentioned the name of this island in Latin, called it Britain, whose steps almost all Latin writers having trod in, did not change the said name. Here Lud begins with a notorious mistake, that Caesar was the first of the Latins who called by the name of Britain, for, before ever Caesar was born, Lucretius makes mention of Britain, and Aristotle, amongst the Greeks, long before him, and Propertius not long after Caesar, when he saith,
Cogor et in tabula pictos ediscere mundos,
I am compelledin a map
To learn the pictur’d world’s shape,
shews thereby that, in his age, the description of the world in maps was wont to be fastned to the walls of mens houses. I would ask yourself, sir, do you indeed think that Caesar, who was so well-skilled in all sorts of learning, did never see the description of the world? Or can you be persuaded that the island of Britain alone, the greatest in the whole world, then so famous both in the Latin and Greek monuments, was omitted in those maps? Or do you believe that Caesar, who was so inquisitive to know the affairs of Britain, as what men did inhabit that country then and before his time; what animals and plants did grow, or were bred therein; what were the laws and the customs of the country, do you, I say, believe that he, who had been so solicitous about those things, would have neglected to set down the name of the whole island? Or that he, who with so great faithfulness and diligence gave right names to the cities of the Gauls, would deprive the Britains of their ancient glory? Upon the whole, I see no reason at all why Lud should think that the old name of the island was Prudania (for he values him self much on the account of this title), unless words do also contract antiquity from the rust of a worm-eaten paper. This is all I have to say against Lud at present, who by home-bred witnesses and by his own dreams together, hath thought fit to oppose him self against the current verdict of all the learned men that now are or ever have been in the world.
5. As for Sir Thomas Eliot, my task will be easier with him. He, being induced not only by probable conjectures, but also by some, not obscure, authors, thinks that the island was sometimes called Prytaneia. he judged it not improbable than an island abounding with plenty of all things, not only for the necessities but even the very ornaments of life, should be so called. In this case, if we should weigh the reason of names, Sicily might rather be called Pyrtaneia, and some islands also which are, as more fruitful, so far less in compass than Britain. Besides, in those authors by whose testimony the name Prytaneia is confirmed, it easily appears that the orthography is vitiated. As for Stephanus, there is the highest inconstancy in him. In the word Albion, he says that that is the island of Brettain, following Martian therein, as he alleges. In the words Iuvernia and Iuverna, it is writ Praetanica. Elsewhere, says he, in the Ocean are the Brettish islands, whose inhabitants are called Brettains. But Martian and Ptolomy in these words make p the first letter; if any one compare the places, without doubt he will find that the writing is corrupted, and that Stephanus him self was of opinion that Brettania ought to be writ by b the first letter, and two tt ’s. Eliot, I believe, was not ignorant of this, and therefore being content to advise his reader, as much as he thought fit, what things men, greedy of praise, will scrape together for the ostentation of their learning, he leaves the matter in dispute entirely to his judgment. But Lud, that you may know his disposition more fully, of the three names of this large island, approves that most which hath the fewest assertors, viz., Predania; next to that, he commends Prytaneia But he rejects Britannia, which name was now famous through all nations, and celebrated both in Greek and Latin monuments (as Pliny affirms), as corrupted by Julius Caesar, and that a long time after, whom he falsely affirms (as hath been said) to have first mentioned the name of Britannia in Latin, and that he drew others with him into this same errour. But I can prove the antiquity of the word Britannia by many clear and ample testimonies, if that were the matter in dispute; and that it was not corrupted by Caesar, but delivered down to us pure from hand to hand by our ancestors, save that the ancients were wont to write with a double tt.
6. And therefore it was, as I suppose, that Lucretius made the first syllable of the word Britain long in verse, but now the Latins leave out one t, which is still retained in the word Britto. The Greeks, who write Britannia, come nearest to the pronunciation of the country-speech which the Britains themselves and all their neighbours do yet retain. For the neighbouring Gauls call all British women britta, and bretter, with them, is to speak British; and a promontory of Aquitania is commonly called Cape Bretton; and both of Scots, i. e. both the Albians and the Hibernians, do so speak; only with this difference, that they who do delight in the German dialect do sometimes use the transposition of letters and pronounce Berton for Breton. But Dionysius Afer in that verse,
Ὠκεανοῦ κέχυται ψυχρὸς, ἔνθα Βρετανοί
Where, mentioning the Bretans to inhabit near the cold surges of the Ocean, in putting away one τ in the word Βρετανοί, he hath used a poetical liberty (as he hath also done in the word Σάμαται for Σάρμαται), by eliding the letter ρ. Here the consent of so many nations, almost from the very beginning, both among themselves and with the ancients both Greeks and Latins, shall be of greater accompt with he than all the hodgepodge trash of Lud, raked by him out of the dunghil, on purpose to be ridicul’d and preserved only for ignominy; and, though they have a confident patron, to urge them to give in a false testimony against antiquity, yet they have not yet dared to appear, as it were, in open court. Let him shew, if he can, what author ever wrote Prudania before Aristotle. Let him turn and wind him self as he please, he will never be able to do it, seeing some ages after Aristotle, ’tis certain, that the bards committed nothing to writing. Away then with that (shall I say?) vain-glorious, or not rather witless, boast of antiquity, of which no argument, no footstep, nor the least print of any, can be found. Amidst this disagreement of opinions and the diverse manners and customs of speech, Lud thinks it most adviseable always to look to antiquity and the country-manner of speech as a Pole-star, and that to direct the whole course of his language. For my part, I would not much dissent from, it what which was in ancient use, and therefore thought certain, might be always observed and kept.
7. But there are several reasons why that cannot be done. First, because in every language ’tis very difficult to find out the original words; and therefore ’tis more adviseable, in this case, to follow the custom of the learned than by a vain and ridiculous labour always to search after originals, as after the fountain of Nilus [the source of the Nile], especially since the original of words depends not only the judgment of the wiser sort, but on the pleasure of the vulgar, who for the most part are rude and incult [uncultivated], and therefore anxiously to inquire after their judgments is a piece of needless curiosity, and if you should find out what they mean it would not be worthy of your labour. For, as in the generation of all other things which either grow naturally of themselves or else are invented by men for the use of life, the first embryos are very imperfect and come forth less acceptable, not only for use, but even for sight; yet afterward by culture they wax gentle and are made amiable by due treatment. ’Tis so in language, which taking its first rise from men rude and impolite, came forth harsh, rugged and uncouth; then by use it gradually puts off its natural horror and unpleasantness, becoming more gentle and sweeter to the ear, and most easily insinuating into the mind of Man. And therefore in this case (if in any case at all) I think something is to be indulged to the custom of men more polite and others; and that such a pleasure, which is not uncomely nor ungraceful, as far as it is not hurtful to mens manners, is not to be despised. But if any one be born under such an ill constellation that he rather affects the language of Cato and Ennius than of Cicero and Terence, and when corn is found out yet had rather feed on mast still, my vote is, much good may it do him. But this our present dispute is not concerning the purity and elegancy of the Latin tongue, for it nothing affects it to know how the Britains did heretofore sound forth their letters or words. For my part, I had rather be ignorant of the doting fables of the old Britains than to forget the little Latin tongue which I imbibed when I was a youth.
8. And there is no other cause why I take it less in disdain than that the old Scotish language doth by degrees decay, than that thereby I joyfully perceive those barbarous sounds by little and little to vanish away, and in their place the sweetness of Latin words to succeed. And in this transmigration of languages, if one must needs yield to another, good-now, of the two less us pass from rusticity and barbarism to culture and humanity, and by our choice and judgment let us put off that uncouthness which occurred to us by the infelicity of our birth. And if our pains and industry can avail any thing in this case, let us bestow them all this way, viz., to polish, as much as we can, the Greek and Latin tongues, which the better part of the world hath publickly received, and, if there be any soloecisms or flaws sticking thereto from the contagion of barbarous languages, let us do what we can to purge them away. Besides, this over-anxious diligence about foreign names, especially in transferring them into another language, can never be kept, neither is it expedient that it should. For what language hath not these letters and sounds which cannot fully be expressed by the characters of another tongue? What nation beside the German can pronounce the letter w? Who can give that sound to the letters d, g, p, t. x and z in Latin which the Spaniards, the Britains, and part of the Scots do? Because of this absurdity of sound, as I suppose, it is that Pliny, reckoning up the cities of Spain, denies that some of them can be well pronounced in the Latin tongue. Some he calls ignoble and of barbarous appellation. Others, he says, cannot be so much as named without grating the ear. What, I beseech you, would Lud do in this case, if he were to write the history of Britain in Latin? With all his rust of barbarism, I believe, he would scarce know how to pronounce the genuine names of the Brittons. For seeing he vexes him self so much how he should write Lud, either Lhuyd or Llud, or else bare Ludd, neither of which can be writ, pronounced or heard amongst Latinists without regret. If he retains the true sound, he will make not a Latin but a semi-barbarous oration. But if he bend foreign words to the sound of Latin, he will commit as great a trespass as Caesar is said to have done in the word Britannus.
9. What then shall we do to please so captious and so morose a person as Lud? Shall we call the island Prudamia rather than Britannia? Lud him self, who is so severe a censor of others, will not exact this of us. He will permit it to be called Prudania, from Prude. But if any one dare to pronounce and call it Britannia or Brettania, he’ll lay about him and accuse him presently of violating sacred antiquity, of corrupting and contaminating the ancient and sincere language; and, from a robust and masculine sound, of turning it into an effeminate and soft pronunciation. What shall we do in this case? Is it lawful for us to change or cleanse any word from the uncouthness of its ancient deformity? Or if we may not change, yet, pray, may we not polish some rough words and incline them a little from their incult barbarity, that they may become more acceptable to mens ears? As we see our ancestors have done in the words Morini, Moremarusa and Armorici, so that if we cannot make these words Latin-denizons, yet at least we may imitate the garb and similitude of the Latin in them. But, I see, Lud will not allow us that liberty. He calls us back to the august antiquity of the Prudanys, and forbids us to divert in the least from the bards and sanachys. But the ancient Greeks and Latins were never so strait-laced. For, after that the rigor of their antient speech began a little to remit, there was none amongst them who had rather pronounce famul and volup than the words which were substituted in their rooms; and the used a very great liberty in translating Latin words from Greek, and Greek from Latin. Whoever blamed the Latins for turning Polydeuces into Pollux, Heracleis into Hercules, Asclepios into Aesculapius? Or who hath reproved the Greeks for calling Catulus Catlus,and Remus Romus? Nay, what did the Greeks do in translating barbarous words into their own language? Did they ever make any scruple to turn al, a Punick termination, into as in the end of words? If a man pronounce Annibas for Annibal, must he (forsooth) presently tread under foot the majesty of all history? Must he be said to corrupt the truth, or to do a notorious injury to the Punick language? See how the desire of humanity and culture, which was amongst the ancient Saxons and the Danes who passed over later into Britain, doth differ from this immanity [monstrousness] and affected slovenliness of Lud! They, being rude and ignorant of all learning, were so far from suffering themselves to be infected with their soloecisims that, on the contrary, when they had once tasted of the sweetness of the Latin tongue, they pared off much of the roughness which they had brought upon it. They so smoothed some words as to make them less offensive to the ear, such as Oxonia and Roffa for Oxenfordia and Raufchestria, and many others, Lud him self not contradicting. And he allows him self the same the liberty in many other words, though he be so severe an exactor in this one word Britannia. But now he doth pertinaciously contend against the ancient custom of all nations for a new, obscure and uncertain word. Sure it is that the royal name of Lud, of a Danish original and kept as a Palladium to this very day, may not be buried in oblivion. To prevent which, Lud manages a contest against the consent of the multitude, the antiquity of time, and even against truth it self.
710. There is yet also another observation in the word Britannia, that foreign writers make it the name of the whole island, but the Britains and English who have wrote the British history sometimes agree with foreign writers in their appellation of it, and sometimes they call only that part of the island Britain which was a Roman province, and that variously too, as the event of war changed the borders; sometimes they made the Wall of Adrian, sometimes that of Severus, to be the limits to their empire. The rest which were without those walls they sometimes termed barbarous, sometimes outlandish people. Bede, in the beginning of this first Book, writes thus: Wherefore the Picts, coming into Britain, began to inhabit the north part of the island, for the Britains inhabited the south. He says also, chapt. 34, Aidan was King of the Scots who inhabit Britain. And lib. 4. chap. 4, writing of the return of Colman out of England into Scotland, he says, In the mean time Colman, who was of Scotland, leaving Britain. And elsewhere, Then they began for many days to come from the country of Scotland into Britain. And farther, Oswald was slain near the wall that the Romans had built from sea to sea to defend Britain and to repel the assaults of the barbarians. The same form of speech is found in the same author, lib. 2, chapt. 9. Claudian doth not seem to be ignorant of this manner of speech peculiar to the Britains, when he writes that the Roman legion which curbed the fierce Scot lay between the Britains, i. e., opposite to the Scots, that it might cover the Britains from their fury in the farthest part of England and borders of Scotland. William of Malmsbury and Geoffry of Monmouth, none of the obscurest writers of British affairs, do often use this kind of speech, in whom a man may easily take notice that that only is called Britain which is contained within the Wall of Severus.
11. Though this matter be so clear to them than no man can be ignorant of it, yet it hath produced great mistakes amongst the writers of the next age, what some have affirmed in their works, i. e., that Alured, Athelstan and some other of the Saxon Kings did sometimes reign over the whole island, when yet, ’tis clear, they never passed beyond the Wall of Severus. For when they read that they held the empire of all Britain, they presently thought that the whole island was possessed by them. Neither is the observation much unlike in the use of those names Britannus and Britto, for all the old Greek and Latin writers call the whole island Britannia and all its inhabitants Britains without any distinction. The first I know of the Romans who called them Britons was Martial, in that verse,
Quam veteres bracchae Britonnis pauperis.
The old trouses of Britton poor.
The vulgar commonly call the inhabitants of the Gallick peninsula Britons, through Gregory Turonensis [Gregory of Tours] always calls it Britain, and its inhabitants Britains. The Romans do constantly call their provincials Britains, though their provincials themselves like the name of Brittons well enough. Both names have one original, viz., Britannia, and, as they both flow from one root, so they both signifie one and the same thing. And that the verses of Ausonius the poet do plainly shew.
Silvius ille bonus, qui carmina nostra lacessit,
Nostra magis meruit disticha Britto bonus.
’Tis Silvus Bonus whom my disticks blame;
But Britto Bonus were his prop’rer name.
Silvius hic bonus est. Quis Silvius? Iste Britannus.
Aut Britto hic non est Silvius, aut malus est.
Silvius is good. What Silvius? The Britain.
Silvius no Britton is, or a bad one.
Silvius esse bonus Britto, ferturque Britannus.
Quis credat civem degenerasse bonum?
Silvius Bonus, a Britan or Britton,
How he degen’rates from good denizon.
Nemo bonus Britto est: si simplex Silvius esse
Incipiat, simplex desinet esse bonus.
No Britton’s good: if Silvius ’gin to be
Simple, simple and good do not agree.
Silvius hic bonus est: sed Britto est Silvius idem.
Simplicior res est dicere Britto malus.
Silvius is Bonus, yet a Britton still.
’Tis plainer phrase to say, the Britton’s ill.
Silvi Britto bonus, quamvis homo non bonus esse
Ferris, nec se quit iungere Britto bono.
O Silvius, bonny Britton but bad man:
Britton and good together joyn who can?
12. They who contend that the Britains were a colony of the Gauls do say that Hercules begat a son on Celto, a Gallick virgin, called Britannus, from whom the nation of the Britains had their original. Pliny placeth this nation near to the Morini, the Atrebates and the Gessoriaci. Neither are there wanting some Greek grammarians to confirm it; as Suidas, and he who wrote the book called Etymologicum Magnum. C Julius Caesar and C. Cornelius Tacitus seem to have been of the same opinion, and so do other Latin writers also, not unlearned, yet not so famous as those two. Besides, the religion, speech, institutions and manners of some nations inhabiting near the Gallick Sea do evince the same thing, out of which the Britains seem to me to have been exhausted by transmigrations, and the Morini by little and little to have been quite extinguished. The word Morinus seems to draw its etymologie from more, which in the old Gallick tongue signifies the sea. Venta, called in old Latin Venta Belgarum (because inhabited by the Gallo-Belgae), i. e., Winchester, and Icenum, derived from Icium, these names make it very probable that their colonies transported with them into a foreign soil their own country terms in the place of a sirname, and at their very entrance, meeting with the Britains, whom they acknowledged to be their off-spring, they brought them home and did, as it were, entertain them at their own houses. For Morinus amongst the old Gauls signifies Marinus, and Moremarusa, Mare Mortuum, though Gorrupius hath almost stoln from us those two last names, whilst he is studious to extol his Aduatici beyond measure. Neither can the Aremorici or Armorici deny that they are of our stock for we have ample and clear testimonies, both old and new, as pledge thereof, because ar or are is an old Gallick preposition which signifies at or upon, as if we should say, At or Upon the Sea, i. e., maritime. And Moremarusa is derived from more, i. e., mare, the sea, the last syllable being long after the manner of a Greek participle. As for Aremorica or Armorica (he which shall not know them at first hearing is wholly ignorant of the old Gallick tongue), they also signifie maritime, and so Strabo interprets them, who in Greek always renders them Apoceanitae. Caesar writes thus of the Amoricks, lib. 5, That great forces of the Gauls out of the cities called Armorica were gathered together to oppose him. And lib. 6, Out of all the cities near the Ocean, which, according to their custom, are called Armoricae. And lib. 8, And the other cities situate in the extream parts of France, near the sea, called Armoricae. As often as Caesar makes mention of these cities he always adds which are so called, but he so adds it that it rather seems an epithet or sirname of a place than its proper name. Neither is that found to be the name of a city in any other authentick writer, yet that word is spread far and near in that coast, viz., from Spain to the Rhene. And among all writers I find Pliny alone to seem not to understand the force of the word for he thinks that all Aquitain was sometimes so called. But enough of it at present, more may be said of the Gallick tongue hereafter.
13. The most ancient name of the island is thought to be Albion, or, as Aristotle, or rather Theophrastus, in the book intituled De Mundo writes it, Albium. But that name is rather taken out of books than used in common speech, unless amongst the old Scots, who as yet call themselves Albinick and their country Albin. Many think that the name was imposed on it because the white rocks did first appear to them as they sailed from France. But it seems to be very absurd to me to fetch the original of a British name from the Latins, there being then so rare a commerce between barbarous nations. Others are of opinion that the name was imposed by Albion the son of Neptune, whom they feign to have been sometimes King of Britain: a bold fiction, and having no ground from antiquity to support it, yet some are not ashamed to name the kingdom so upon so weak a foundation as that of a near appellation. For I see no other foundation in history which might occasion this fable. Amongst the Greeks, ’tis true, Diodorus Siculus and Strabo have made mention of Albion and Bergion; of the Latins, Cato, Hyginus and Mela, from whom we may gather that Albion and Bergion, the sons of Neptune, being Ligurians, infested the high-ways with robberies, which lead from the country of the Albicans into Italy. These men, when Hercules, after he had conquered Geryon, was returning out of Spain, sought to rob him of his prey, and maintained so sharp a fight with him that he, being almost desperate (as old story says), was forced to implore the aid of Jupiter, who sent down a showr of stones to relieve his son; and that the field of stones remained to posterity as a testimony of that fight. I will not deny but that both the island and the robber too took its name from album. But this I say, that album was a common name amongst many nations, and that it signified with them not only colour, but height too. And Festus Pompeius affirms that what the Latins call Alba, the Sabins call Alpa, from whence the Alps had their name because they are white with continual snow. For my part, as I assent concerning the one, that album and alpum were synonymous amongst the ancients, and I have the authority not of Festus only, but of Strabo also, to support my opinion, so I also judge the Alps were so called rather from their height than their whiteness. My reasons are, first, because Alba is the name of many cities in Italy, France and Spain, which are all situate on hills, or near them.
14. And besides, because Strabo acknowledges that those names Alba, Alpa, Alpia, Albioni, Albici, without any difference, are derived from the same root, in the signification of height, and therefore he shews that they are most used where the Alps begin to grow high. Hence, in Liguria, there is Albigaunaum, and Albium Intimelium; and amongst the Iapodes there is an high hill where the Alps do end. There are other places which may seem to be named from their height. In Italy there is the River Albula, rising in the mountains of Etruria, and the waters called Albulae flowing down from the Tirburtine mountains. In Gallia Narbonensis there are the Albici, a mountainous people. In Germany there is the River Albis, arising from the mountains in Bohemia. In Asia, the River Albanus flows down from Mount Caucasus, and the Albanians dwell about the same mountain. By which instances it will appear to be at truth that album is not a word of one, but many nations, and in all the places which I have named their height doth not render them always or unchangeable white; yea, some months they are not white at all. The names of the Ligurian Giants do also confirm this conjecture, Albion and Bergion both of them, as I judge, being names from their talness. What the ancients thought of the word album I have said enough. That the Germans call high Berg is known to all, and there is a place in Pliny that shews it was anciently used in the same sense amongst the Gauls, in the third Book, which I am of opinion must be thus read. Whence Cato firms Bergomates to have had their original: they discover themselves by their names to be situated more highly than happily.
15. Therefore Albion and Bergion, men, it seems, far taller than their neighbors, in confidence of their strength did commit robberies in those coasts of Liguria, whom Hercules, traveling that way, subdued by force of arms. But none of the ancients ever affirmed that they reigned in Britain, and the then state of the Gallick affairs makes it very improbable that it should be so; and it is likely that the state of Britain was not much more quiet, in which land the great Albion left a famous kingdom that he might play the robber at home. But I, though I do not much differ from their opinion who assert that Albion was so called from album, so I think the occasion of the name was not from the colour but from the height of the mountains. They who imposed that name were, I believe, something inclined thereunto by comparing England with Ireland, there being but a narrow sea between them. For they, seeing our shore to be altogether mountainous and the other depressed, level, and spread into campagne or open fields, they called the first Albion from its height. But whether they gave any name to the second from its low situation, the length of time and the negligence of the inhabitants in recording ancient affairs hath made uncertain. Besides, this also adds strength to my opinion, that the name of the island, derived from album, whether Albion or Albium, as yet pertinaciously remains in Scotland, as in its native soil; neither could it ever be extirpated there, notwithstanding so many mutations of inhabitants, kingdoms, languages, and the vicissitude of other things. These things seem true, or at least probable, to me, yet if any man can inform me better, I will easily be of his opinion.
16. Hitherto of the ancient names of the island. The next thing is to explain the situation of the counties. The English writers have plainly and clearly enough described their own several counties. But Hector Boetius, in his description of Scotland, hath delivered some things not so true, and he hath drawn others into mistakes whilst he was over-credulous of those to whom he committed the inquiry after matter, and so published their opinions rather than the truth. But I shall briefly touch at those things which I am assured of, and those which seem obscure and less true I will correct as well I can. England, as far as concerns our present purpose, is most conveniently divided by four rivers, two running into the Irish Sea, viz., Dee and Severne, and two into the German Sea, i. e., Thames and Humber. Between Dee and Severn lies Wales, being distinguished into three several regions. Between Severne and Thames lies all that part of England which is opposite to France. The countries interjacent between Thames and Humber make the third part, and the countries reaching from Humber and Dee to Scotland make up the fourth. But Scotland is divided from England, first, by the River Tweed; then by the high mountain Cheviot; and where the mountain fails, then by a wall or trench newly made; and afterwards by the Rivers Eske and Solway. Within those bounds, from the Scotish Sea to the Irish, the countries lies in this order. First Merch, in which the English do now possess Berwick, situate on the left side of the Tweed. On the east it is bounded with the Firth of Forth. On the south, with England. On the west, on both sides the River Tweed, lies Tiviotdale, taking its name from the River Tiviot. It is divided from England by the Cheviot-Hills. After this lie three counties not very great, Liddisdail, Evesdail and Eskdail, being so called of three rivers which have a near appellation, viz., Lidal, Eve and Eske. The last is Annandale, taking its name from the River Annand, which divides it almost in the middle, and, near to Solway, runs into the Irish Sea.
17. Now to return again to Forth, on the east it is bounded by Lothian. Cockburnes Path, and Lamermore-Hills do divide it from Merch. Then, bending a little to the west, it touches Lauderdale and Twedale; the one so called from the town Lauder, the other from the River Tweed, dividing it in the middle. Liddisdale, Nithisdale and Clidesdale do border on Twedale on the south and west. The River Nith gives name to Nithsdale, running through it into the Irish Sea. Lothian was so named from Lothus, King of the Picts. On the north-east it is bounded with the Forth, or Scotish Sea, and it looks towards Clidesdale on the south-west. This country does far excel all the rest in the civility of its inhabitants and in plenty of all things for the use of life. It is watered with five rivers, Tine, both the Eskes (which before they fall into the sea joyn in one chanel), Leith and Almond. These rivers, arising partly from the Lamermore-Hills and partly from Pentland-Hills, disgorge themselves into the Firth of Forth. Lothian contains these towns: Dunbar, Hadington, Dalkeith, Edinburgh, Leith and Linlithgoe. More to the west lies Clidsdale on both sides the River Clid, which, by reason of its length, is divided into two prefectures or sheriffwicks. In the uppermost of them there is an hill, not very high, yet out of it rivers run into three divers seas, Tweed into the Scotish, Annand into the Irish, and Clyd into the Deucaledonian Seas. The most eminent cities in it are Lanerick and Glasgo. Kyle on the south-west is adjoining to it. Beyond Kyle is Galloway. It is separated from Nithsdale by the River Clyd, bending almost wholly to the south, and by its shore that remaining part of Scotland is also covered. It is more fruitful in cattle than corn. It hath these rivers running into the Irish Sea: Ure or Ore, Dee, Kenn, Cree and Luss. It hath scarce any great mountains, but only some small hills in it, between which the water, stagnant in the valleys, makes abundance of lakes, by which, in the first showres after the autumnal Aequinox the rivers are encreased, which bring down an incredible quantity of eeles, which the inhabitants take in weels of osier twigs and, salting them, get no small profit thereby.
18. The boundary of that side is the Mul of Galloway, under which in the mouth of the River Lus is a bay which Ptolomy calls Rerigonius. The bay, commonly called Loch-Rian, and by Ptolomy Vidogara, flows into it on the other side from the Firth of Clyd. The land running betwixt those bays the inhabitants do call Rinns, i. e., the edge of Galloway. They also call Nonantum the Mul, i. e. the Beak or Jaw. But the whole country is called Galloway (for Gallivid in old Scotish, signifies a Gaul). Below Loch-Rian, on the back side of Galloway, there lies Carrick-Bailiery, gently declining to the Firth of Clyd. Two rivers pass through it, Stinsiar and Girvan, both of them having many pleasant villages on their banks. Between the rivers there are some small hills, fruitful for pasture and not unfit for corn. ’Tis all not only self-sufficient with land and sea-commodities, but it also supplies its neighbours with many necessaries. The River Down separates it from Kyle, which ariseth from a lake of the same name, wherein is an island with a small castle. Kyle follows next, bordering upon Galloway on the south, and on the north-east on Clydsdale; on the west it is separated from Cuningham by the River Irwyn. The River Aire divides it in the middle, Near it is scituated Air, a town well traded. The country in general abounds more with valiant men than with corn or cattle, for the soyle is poor and sandy, and that sharpens the industry of the inhabitants, and their parsimony confirms the strength both of their bodies and minds.
19. After Air, Cuningham runs on to the north, and doth, as it were, justle out and streighten the Clyd, and brings it into the compass but of a moderate river. The name of the country is Danish, and in that language signifies the King’s House, which is an argument that the Danes did sometimes possess it. Next is Renfrew, scituate at the eastern coast thereof, so called from a little town wherein they were wont to celebrate their conventions, ’tis commonly called the Barony of Renfrew. Two rivers, both of them called Carth, divide it in the midst. After the Barony of Renfew, Clydsdale is stretched out on both sides of the River Clyd, and, in regard of its largeness, is divided into many jurisdictions. It pours out many famous rivers; on the left hand Even and Duglass, which run into Clyd, and on the right another river called Even, which divides Lothian from Sterlingshire. These two currents take the common appellation of rivers instead of a proper name, as in Wales the river called Avon doth in a divers dialect. The River Evon or Avon separates the county of Sterling on the south from Lothian; on the east, the Firth of Forth, until at last, being lessened, it is reduced to the just magnitude of a river and admits a passable bridge near Sterling. There is but one memorable river which divides country, called Carron-Water, near which there are some ancient monuments. On the left hand of Carron there are two small hills or barrows, made of earth by Man’s hand (as the thing it self shews) commonly called Duni pacis, i. e., Emblems of Reconciliation. But about two miles lower on the same river there is a round edifice made without any lime, but so formed with sharp stones that part of the upper stone is, as it were, mortassed into the lower, so that the whole work, mutually conjoyned, sustains it self with the weight of the stones, from top to bottom, growing narrower and narrower by degrees. The top of it is open. The common people have several fancies according to their divers humours concerning the use and author of this structure. For my part, I once conjectured that it was a temple of the god Terminus, which, they say, was wont to be built round and open at top, and the Duni pacis near adjoynng seemed somewhat to strengthen my conjecture, as if a peace had been made there of which these hills are a monument, because there the Romans terminated the bounds of their jurisdiction and empire. Neither could any thing have altered my opinion, unless I had been informed by creditable persons that in a certain island there are many edifices in other respects like the structure which I have spoken of, but they are greater and not so compact. There are also two chapels in Ross of the like shape. These things made me suspend my opinion and to judge that these were monuments or trophies of some famous deeds placed, as it were, at the fag-end of the world that they might be preserved from the injury and fury of enemies. But whether these were trophies or (as some think) sepulchres of famous men, I believe they were monuments consecrated to be perpetuated to posterity, but by rude and unskilled workmen, after the similitude of the temple erected at Carron.
20. On the right side of Carron the ground is generally plain and level, only there is a little hill in it, almost in the mid-space between the Duni pacis and the temple or chapel, and therein, at the bending of the angle, the footsteps [vestiges] of an ancient city do yet appear. But the foundation of the walls and the description of the streets, partly by reason of countrymens plowing up the ground, and partly by plucking out the square stones to build some rich mens houses thereabouts, are quite blended and confused. English Bede expressly calls this place Guidi, and places it in the very angle of the Wall of Severus. Besides him, many famous Roman writers make mention of this wall; yea, several footsteps thereof do yet appear, and many stones are dug out with inscriptions containing a gratulation of safety and victory received by the centurions and tribunes of the Romans, or else some funeral epitaphs are engraven therein. And seeing the Wall of Severus is seldom less distant than 100 miles from Adrian’s Wall (as the remains of both do shew), which was built by him before, English writers betray their great ignorance, either in not understanding the Latins who have delivered these things down to us, or else their carelesness, who have wrote that so confusedly which is so plainly recorded. However it be, the thing is worthy, if not of a sharp reprehension, yet of a light admonition at least, especially since by the monuments lately spoken of, and by Bede’s English history too, it plainly appears that there was sometimes the boundary betwixt the Britains and the Scots. But those who fancy Maldon to be scituate here are the same men who affirm that the chapel or structure we spoke of was the temple of Claudius Caesar. But they are hugely mistaken in both, seeing Maldon, a colony of the Romans, is above 300 miles distant from that place, if we may believe Ptolomy and the Itinerary of Antoninus. Cornelius Tacitus doth plainly confute this their mistake, as in all his other narrations, so especially when he says that the Romans, having lost Maldon, fled to the temple of Claudius Caesar for safety. But that structure, whether it were a chapel or temple of Terminus, or else a monument of some other thing, having no doors nor sign of any, and being open also at top for the casting of stones, can scarce contain, much less, shelter, ten soldiers.
21. Moreover, about 40 years after the expedition of Julius Caesar into Britain, Julius Agricola was the first of the Roman generals who penetrated with his army into those parts. Besides, Adrian also, 50 years after Agricola, setled the bounds of the Roman province between the Rivers Tine and Eske, by making a wall, of which divers footsteps in many places to yet remain. But Septimius Severus, about the year of our Lord 210 entring into Britain, built a wall 100 miles beyond the limits made by Adrian, from the Firth of Clyd to the conflux of Forth and Avon, of which many clear and evident tokens yet remain. Besides, we never read in ancient writings that the chief seat of the Picts was at Maldon, but at Abernethy, where was their royal and also episcopal seat, which was afterwards translated to St. Andrews. And if it be demanded what moved the Romans to draw a colony thither, and how they maintained it in a soil so barren and (at that time) woody, uncultivated and obnoxious [exposed] to the daily injuries of the fiercest of their enemies, I suppose they will answer (for I see not what else they can say thereto) that it was supplyed from the sea, for then ships came up to the very gates of the city, tho against the stream of Carron-Water. If that were true, then the grounds lying on both sides of the Forth must therefore be barren, which alone in that tract ought to have born corn. But this is yet a more difficult question, that seeing the sea-water did run on both sides the Forth, why the Romans did not there make their boundary-wall, rather than unnecessarily carry it many miles further.
22. Beyond the county of Sterling lies Lennox, divided from the barony of Renfrew by Clyd, and from the county of Glasgow by the River Kelvin; from the county of Sterling by mountains, and from the stewarty of Menteath by the Forth, at length it is terminated by the mountain Grampius, or Grantsbain, at the foot of which, through an hollow valley, Loch-Lomond spreads it self, which is 24 miles long and 8 broad. It contains above 24 islands. Besides a multitude of other fishes, it hath some of a peculiar kind, very pleasant to eat, they call them pollacks. At length, breaking out towards the south, it pours out the River Levin, giving name to the whole country, and near the castle of Dumbarton and a town of the same name, falls into Clyd. The furthermost hills of Mount Grampius do heighten the extreme parts of Lennox, being divided by a small bay of the sea called Loch-Ger, from its shortness. Beyond that, there is a bay much larger, called Loch-Long, from the River Long falling into it. That is the boundary between Lenox and Cowel. Cowel it self, Argyle and Knapdale are divided into many parts by reason of several narrow bays running down into them from the Firth of Clyd. There is one bay or loch more eminent that the rest among them called Loch-Finn, obtaining its name from the River Finn, which it receives into it; it is above 60 miles in length. There is also in Knapdale a loch called Loch-Awe, in which there is a small island and a castle that is fortified. The River Awe, or Owe, issues out from that loch, which is the only river in that country that empties it self into the Deucaledonian Sea. Beyond Knapdale, to the south-west, there runs out Cantrye, i. e. the head of the the country. It stands over against Ireland, from which it is divided but by a narrow sea. It is not so broad as it is long, and it is joyned to Knapdale by so narrow an isthmus or neck of land that it is scarce a mile over, and that space too is nothing but sand, so plain and level that sometimes seamen, to make their voyages shorter, do hale their small vessels, called birlings, over it from one side of Loch-Tarbet to the other. Lorn touches Knapdale, it borders immediately on Argyle, and reaches as far as the country of Abyr commonly called Loch-Abyr. It is a plain country and not unfruitful. Where the mountain Grampius is lowest and more passable, that country is called Braid-Albin, which is as much as to say the highest part of Scotland, and where the loftiest pic, or top, of all is, that is called Drum-Albin, i. e., the back of Scotland, and not without cause. For from that back there run down rivers into both seas, some into the North or German, others into the South or Deucaledonian Sea.
23. For from Loch-Earn it pours out the River Earn towards the south-east, which falls into the River Tay about three miles below Perth. From this river the country called in Highland or old Scots language Strath-Earn takes its name, being situate on both sides of its banks. For the Highlanders use to call a country lying at the fall of rivers strat. Between the mountains of this country and the Forth lies the stewarty of Menteath, taking its name from the River Teath, which runs through the middle of it. Next to Menteath stand the mountains called Ocel-Hills, a great part of which, as also of the country lying at the foot of them, is reckoned within the stewarty of Strath-Earn. But the rest of the country, even unto the Forth, Man’s ambition hath divided into several stewarties, as the stewarty of Clacman, of Culross, and of Kinross. From these stewarties and the Ocel-Hills all the country lying between the Forth and the Tay grows narrow like a wedge eastward even to the sea, and is called by one name, Fife, a country self-sufficient with all necessaries for the use of life. It is broadest where Loch-Leven and the River Leven, running through it, do divide at, and from thence it narrows on each site till you come to the town of Carail. It sends forth but one remarkable river, and that’s called Leven. Its whole shore is stor’d with abundance of towns, of which the most remarkable for the study of the Arts is St. Andrews, which the Highlanders call Fanum Reguli. More to the inland, almost in the middle of the county, lies Cowper, the shire or assize town, whither the rest of the inhabitants of Fife do come for the administration of justice. Where it touches Straith-Earn stands the town of Abernethy, the ancient royal seat of the Picts. Here the River Earn falls into the Tay. As for the Tay it self, that breaks out from Loch-Tay, which is in Braid-Aibin. A loch twenty-four miles long, it is without question the greatest river of Scotland. For winding about towards the Grampian-Hills, it touches upon Athol, a fruitful country, situate in the very woody passages of Mount Grampius. That part thereof which is extended into a plain at the foot of the mountain is called the Blare of Athol, which word signifies a soil devoid of trees.
24. Below Athol, on the right side of the River Tay, stands the town of Caledonia, which yet retains its ancient name, though vulgarly called Dunkelden, i. e., an hill full of hasel-trees. For those trees, growing thick in such unmanured places and shadowing the country like a wood, give name both to the town and also to the people thereabouts. For the Caledons or Caledonians, heretofore one of the famousest nations amongst the Britains, made up one part of the kingdom of the Picts, as we may be informed by Ammianus Marcellanus, who divides the Picts into two tribes, i. e., the Caledones and the Vulcuriones, though at this day there is hardly any footstep left of either of those two names. Twelve miles below Dunkelden, on the same right-hand bank of the Tay, stands Perth, otherwise called St. Johnstons. And on the left-bank of the Tay below Athol, to the East, stands Gowry, a county abounding with rich corn-fields. Below Gowry, between the Tay and the Esk, is extended Angus or, as the Highlanders call it, Aeneia. Some call it Horestia or, according to the English dialect, Foresteia. In it there are these two cities, Cowper, and that which Boetius, to gratifie his countrymen, ambitiously calls Deidonum, but, I think, the old name thereof was Taodunum, i. e. Dundee, from dune, i. e., an hill situated by the River Tay, for at the foot of that hill the town is built. Fourteen miles beyond the Tay, in a direct line along the shore, we meet with the town of Atherbothock, sometimes called Abrinca. Then follows the promontory called Red-Head, which shews it self at a very great distance. The River South-Esk runs through the middle of Angus, and the North-Esk divides it from the Mearns. The Mearns is, for the most part, a plain and level country till it toucheth Mount Grampius beyond the little town of Fordun, and Dunotter, a castle belonging to the Earls of Marshal. Then it grows lower and lower, declining towards the sea. Beyond Mearn, towards the north, is the River Die, commonly called Diemouth, and about a mile beyond it is the River Don. Upon the one there stands Aberdone, a town famous for salmon-fishing, and upon the other stands Aberdee (for so ’tis called in old records) where the bishops See is, and also a flourishing university. But now adays both towns are distinguished only by the names of Old and New Aberdene.
25. From this narrow front between these two rivers begins Marr, which, growing wider and wider by degrees, extends it self 60 miles in length, even unto Badenach. Badenach is all full of hills and mountains, which sends forth rivers into both seas. Abyr borders upon Badenach, it declines gently towards the Deucaledonian Sea, a country (for a Scotish one) very much abounding with all land and sea-commodities. As it is fruitful in corn and pasture, so it is also very pleasant by reason of its shadowy groves and the delightful fountains, brooks and rivulets which glide along through it, As for the multitude of fish, hardly any county in Scotland can compare therewith. For, besides the plenty of fresh-water fish which so many rivers do afford, the sea also contributes its dole of salt-water ones. Piercing in a long chanel though the level part of the country, and there being somewhat curbed and pent in by the higher boundary of the land for some space, at length it diffuses and spreads it self abroad again, representing the form of a meer, or rather loch. Hence ’tis called Abyr, i. e., in our country language, a road for ships. They give also the same name to the country thereabouts. Those that affect to speak after the English mode call both, i. e., that bay of the sea and the country too, Loch-Abyr, but mistakenly and without ground. These three counties Abyr, Badenach and Marr, do take up all the bredth of Scotland between the two seas, the Deucaledonian and the German. On the north, next to Marr, stands Buchan, divided from it by the River Don. It stretcheth out it self farthest of any country in Scotland into the German Sea. ’Tis rich in pasture, and in a good breed of sheep, and is able to maintain it self with all conveniencies for the support of life. The rivers in it abound with salmon, and yet (which is strange) there is one of its rivers, called Ratra, that hath not a salmon in it. On the shore of Ratra there is a strange kind of cave, the nature whereof I cannot pass over in silence. The water therein drops down from a natural vault or arch, and is turned into pyramids of stone, insomuch that if men did not cleanse it ever and anon, the whole space, to the very roof, would be quickly petrified and filled up. The stone thus concreted is of a middle nature between stone and ice, for it is friable and never arrives at the hardness and solidity of marble. When I was at Tholouse about the Year of our Lord 1544, I was informed by creditable persons that there was a cave in the neighbouring Pyrenaean Hills altogether like this in Scotland.
26. Beyond Buchan to the north lie to small counties, Boin and Ainy, which reach to the River Spey that separates them from Murray. As for the River Spey, that hath its rise in the ridge of hills in Badenach, of which I have made mention before, and not far from the fountain thereof is a loch which sends forth a river called Lochtee, which roles it self into the west sea. At the mouth thereof (as they say) there was once a noble town called Inner-Lochtie, borrowing its name from the loch aforesaid. The truth is, if you consider the nature of the neighbouring soil and the conveniency of transporting and carriadge by sea, it is a place very fit for a mart-town. And our ancient Kings, tempted and invited by those conveniencies, made their abode there for some ages in the castle of Evonia, which some do falsely persuade them selves to be Dunstanage. For the rubbish and ruins of that castle are yet to be seen in Lorn. There are some small counties lying betwixt Buchan and the west-sea, but having scarce any thing remarkable in them, I shall not waste time to describe them. Beyond the Spey, even unto the River Ness, there follows Murray, theretofore (as ’tis thought) called Varar. Between those two rivers (the Spey and the Ness) the German Ocean doth (as it were) drive the land backward to the west, and so, with a vast bay, doth abridge the largeness thereof. This whole country (for the bigness of it) abounds with corn and pasturage, but as for pleasantness and the profit arising from fruit-bearing trees, it bears away the bell from the other countries in Scotland. It hath who eminent towns in it, Elgin and Inverness. Elgin stands on the River Lissie , and as wet retains its ancient name. Inverness is situate by the River Ness, which issues out of Loch-Ness, a loch 24 miles long. The water thereof is almost always warm, and all the year long ’tis never so cold as to freeze; yea, in the sharpest winter that is, if flakes of ice are conveyed into it the will quickly be thawed by the warmth of its waters.
27. Beyond Loch-Ness toward the west there are only eight miles of continent interjacent. So small a portion of ground hinders the conjunction of the two seas, and consequently the making of the rest of Scotland an island. For all that space of land which lies between that narrow neck and the Deucaledonian Sea is cut off from the rest by several bays of the sea breaking into it. That part of the country which lies beyond Loch-Ness and those narrow streights or neck of land before-mentioned, is wont to be divided into four provinces or shires, viz., Ross, Strath-Navern, Sutherland, and Caithness. Navern, or, as commonly called, Strath-navern, taking its name from the River Navern. Beyond the mouth of Ness, where it disembogues [discharges] it self into the German sea, lies Ross, which runs out into the sea with very high promontories, as the name it self shews, for ross in the Scotish dialect signifies a promontory. This province hath more of length than bredth in it, for it reaches from German, quite home to the Caledonian Sea. Where it is mountainous, ’tis barren an untilled, but the plains there scarce yield to any part of Scotland for fruitfulness. It hath also many pleasant valleys in it which are watered with rivers full of fish, together with several lochs, well-stored with fish. But the greatest of them all is Loch-Loubrun. From the Deucaledonian Sea the shore grows somewhat narrower and turns back towards the north-east. From the opposite shore the German Sea, making its way between the clefts of high rocks within land, expands it self into a spacious bay which affords a safe harbour and road for ships against all storms. For the passage into it is not dangerous, and when you are once entred even the greatest ships that are may be secure from all injury of wind and weather. At the farthest point of Ross towards the north lies Navern, so called from the River Navern, which the vulgar, following the propriety of their country speech, call Strath-Nevern. Ross bounds it on the south. The Deucaledonian Sea washeth it west and north, and on the east it reaches to Cathness. Sutherland is so interjected between the three last mentioned provinces that it borders them all, and in some quarter or touches them all. For on the west of it lies Strath-Nevern, on the south and east, Ross, and on the north, Caithness. The inhabitants thereof, according to the nature of the soil, are more given to pasturage than tillage. I know no remarkable thing in it, save that it hath some mountains of white marble (a rare miracle in so cold a country) which yet are of little or no use to the inhabitants, because that luxuriant humour which affects curiosity hath not yet reached to this place.
28. Caithness is the last providence of Scotland towards the north, in which coast Strath-Navern also meets it. These two counties do contract the bredth of Scotland into a narrow front. In that front there are three high promontories. The highest of them all is Strath-Nevern, which Ptolomy calls, now Farrow-Head. The other two are in Caithness, but not so high as the former, i. e., Vervedum, now called Hoia, i. e., Strathy-Head, and Betubium (Dunsbey-Head), falsly called by Hector Boetius Dume. Some call it Duncans-Bei from which word, some letters being subtracted, the word Duns-Bei seems to be derived. At the foot of the hill there is a small bay, which little vessels coming from the Orcades use as a haven or port. For a bay of the sea is there called Bei, and this creek or bay, being called by the neighboring inhabitants the Bei of Duncan, or Donach; from both these words conjoyned the country language hath formed Dunis-Bei. In this tract Ptolomy places the Cornavis (or Caithness-men), some footsteps of which name do yet remain, for they commonly call the castle of the Earls of Caithness Gernico. For those whom Ptolomy and other foreiners call Cornavii the Britains call Kernici. And seeing he places the Cornavii not in this tract only, but even in a far distant part of the island, viz., Cornwal in England, they who retain the old British speech to yet call the same persons Kernici. And, perhaps, ’tis no absurd conjecture to imagine that the Coronvalli are so called for Kernicovalli, i. e., the Kernic-Gauls. Yea, in the very midst of the island some footsteps, tho obscure ones, of the name seem to have remained. For Bede writes that the beginning of the Wall of Severus was not far distant from the monastery of Kebercurnig, whereas there is now no sign of a monastery in those parts, but there remains not far from thence the half-ruined castle of the Duglasses, called Abrecorn. Whether both of those words, or only one of them, be corrupted from Kernicus I leave to the reader to judge.
29. It remains now that I speak something concerning the islands of Scotland (which part of the British history is involved with abundance of mistakes). But omitting the ancients, who have delivered nothing certain on this subject, I shall only insist on what the writers of our times have more truly and plainly acquainted us with. Of all the islands which do, as it were, begirt Scotland, they make three classes or ranks, the Western, the Orcades and the Zealandish or Shetland Islands. Those are called the Western Isles which lye between Scotland and Ireland on the west of Scotland in the Deucaledonian Sea, and do reach almost to the isles of Orkney, or Orcades. They who have written of the British affairs, either now or in the age before us, call them Hebrides, a new name of which there are no footprints or any original in ancient writers. For in that tract of the sea some authors place the Abudae or Aemodiae, but with such inconstancy amongst themselves that they scarce ever agree in their number, situation, or names. Strabo (to begin with the most ancient) may be the better excused because he followed uncertain report, that part of the world being not fully discovered in his time. Mela reckons the Aemoda to be seven, Martianus Capella makes the Acmodae to be as many; Ptolomy and Solinus count the Abudae five; Pliny numbers to the Acmodae to be seaven and the Aebudae thirty. I, for my part, think it fit to retain the names most used by the ancients, and therefore I call all the Western Isles Aebudae, and I purpose to describe the site, nature and commodities of every one of them, as out of later, so out of surer authors. In performing this task I will principally follow Donald Monro, a pious and diligent person who himself travelled over all those islands and viewed them ocularly. They lye dispersed in the Deucaledonian Sea, being above three hundred and odd in number. The Kings of Scotland were masters of them time out of mind until Donald, the brother of Malcolm the Third, yielded up the possession of them to the King of Norway, that by his aid he might forcibly seize upon the crown of Scotland, to which he had no right. The Danes and Norwegians enjoyed them about one hundred and sixty years, until, being overcome in a great battel, they were outed of them by Alexander the Third, King of Scotland. These islanders, either confiding in their strength or else egg’d on and induced by sedition, have some time endeavoured to vindicate their liberty and to set up Kings of their own. For of late, John of the family of the Donalds, as well as others before him, usurped the name of King.
30. In their diet, habit, and the whole administration of their domestick affairs they use the ancient parsimony. Hunting and fishing afford them food. They boil their flesh in water poured either into the paunch or into the skin of the beasts they kill, and in hunting they sometime eat raw flesh when the blood is squeezed out. The broth of boiled flesh-meat is their drink. They sometimes drink whey very greedily in their feasts, after it hath been kept in proper vessels for some years. That kind of drink they call blandium. But for the most pert of them, they drink water. They make their bread of oats and barley (for they have no other grain growing in those parts), which is not unpleasant to the taste, and by frequent use they are very expert at making and moulding of it. In them morning they eat a little of it and so go a-hunting, or, if they have any other work to do, they are content with that light breakfast and fast till the evening. They use party-coloured garments, and especially strip’d plads. Of all the colours they love the purple and the blew most. Their ancestors wore party-coloured plads variously striped, which custom some of them do still retain. But now-a-days many of them wear their apparel of a dark brown colour, almost like heath, that so, lying in the heath-bushes, they might not in the day-time be discovered by their cloaths. Being rather loosly happ’d than closely covered with this sort of blanketing, they endure the fiercest weather, even in the open air, and sometime they sleep in them, tho cover’d all over with snow. In their houses they also lye on the ground, only they lay under them fern or heath, which they place with their roots downward and their brush upwards, so prettily that their beds are almost as soft as a featherbed, but far more wholsom. For heath, being endued with a natural power of exiccation, doth exhaust superfluous humors and restores vigor to the nerves, after it has freed them from such noxious guests, so that they who lye down in the evening weary and faint in the morning rise up nimble and spritely. They are all of them very regardless of their bed-ticks and coverlets; yea, they affect an uncouth slovinglyness therein, for if any occasion or necessity cause them to travel into other parts, when they go to bed they throw the bed and blankets of their hosts on the ground and wrap themselves up in their own garments, so betaking themselves to their rest. The reason they give is lest such barbarous effeminateness (for so they call it) should taint and corrupt their native and inbred hardiness.
31. In war they cover their bodies with iron helmets and a coat of mail made of iron rings reaching almost down to their anckles. Their weapons are bows and arrows, for the most part hooked, the iron barbs standing out on both sides, which cannot be drawn out of the body they pierce unless the orifice of the wound be made very wide. Some of them fight with broad swords and poleaxes. Instead of a trumpet they use a bag-pipe. They are much given to musick, but on instruments of a peculiar kind called clarsbachs, of which some have strings made of brass-wire, others of guts, with they strike either with their long nails or with a quill. Their only ambition is to deck their fiddles with very much silver and jewels. The meaner sort, instead of jewels, use chrystal. They sing songs, not unelegant, containing commonly the elogies of valiant men, and their bards ordinarily handle no other argument. Their language is some what like the old Gawlish. The islands of Scotland which use the antient tongue and are called the Western or Aebudae Isles, are thus usually reckoned. The first of them is Mana, by some falsely called Mona, but rather by the ancient Eubonia. Paulus Orosius calls it Mevania, or rather Menavia, for in the old language ’tis called Manim. The last age call’d the town in it Sodora, in which the Bishop of the Islands had his See. It is a province almost equally distant from Ireland, from Galloway in Scotland, and from Cumberland in England. It is twenty four miles long and eight broad. The next isle arising in the Firth of Clyde is Alsa or Ailze, an high and precipitous rock, excepting only one plain passage into it. It is uninhabited almost all the year, but only at certain seasons a great number of skiffes and busses [small boats] flock thither to fish for cod and whiting. It abounds with conies and sea-fowl, but especially with soland-geese. It is almost equally distant from Carrick on the south-east, from Ireland on the south-west, and from Cantyre on the north-west.
32. The isle of Arran is situated twenty four miles from Alize, inclining towards the north; it is twenty four miles long and sixteen broad. ’Tis full of high craggy mountains, so that only the sea-coasts thereof are inhabited. Where it is lowest the sea breaks into it and makes a great bay, the entrance whereof is shut in by the island Molas, i. e. Lamlach or Lamlash, so that by the reason of the height of the mountains which break the force of the wind, it is within a very safe harbour for shipping, and there is such plentiful fishing in those waters, which are perpetually calm, that if the inhabitants catch more than what will serve them for one day, they throw them again into the sea as into a safe trunk or a fish-pond, to be thence taken out at their pleasure. Not far from Arran lies a small isle called Flada or Fladda, which is full of rabbets. Boot Isle, being eight mile long and four broad, is situate more inwardly in the Firth of Clyde, and is eight miles distant from Arran aforesaid on the north-east. On the north-west, ’tis distant from Argyle about half a mile, on the east, from Cuningham six miles. ’Tis all in a manner low-land, and so very convenient for corn and pasturage. It hath but one town in it, bearing the name of the island, and in it an old castle named Rothsey. It hath also another castle at the bay, called in the country language Cames or Krames Castle. On the south west thereof is the low island Mernoch, for the bigness thereof fruitful enough and well cultivated; it is a mile long and half a mile broad. More inward in the Firth of Clyde are the two Cumbras, the greater and the lesser, at a small distance one from other, the greater abounding with corn, the lesser with fallow-deer. From the promontory of Cantyre, a little more than a mile, lies Avona, now Sanda, called Portuousa, i. e., fit for a port. It got that name from being a road for ships, for when the Danes possessed those islands their fleets directed their course thither for shelter.
33. From the same promontory to the south-west, over against the Irish shoar, stands Raghlin, as also four miles from Cantyre is a small island called Cara, and not far therefrom Giga, six miles long and a mile and a half broad. The island of Jura is twelve miles from Giga, being in length twenty four miles. Its maritime parts are inhabited well enough but, being woody inwardly, it abounds with several sorts of deer. Some think it was anciently called Dera, which in the Gothish language signifies a stag. Two miles distant from Jura lies Scarba, in length from east to west four miles, in breadth one; ’tis inhabited but in few places. The tide is so violent between it and Jura that there is no passage neither with sails nor oars but at certain seasons only. After this there are many islands of less note, spread up and down, as Bellach or Genisteria, Bewrasdil, Luga, both the Fiolas or Finlass’s; also the three Garvillans, distinguished by their respective sirnames; then Culbrenin, Dunconnel, Luparia, Belhac, Whoker, Gavin, Luing, Seil and Suin. These three last named are fruitful enough in corn and cattle, and are under the jurisdiction of the Earls of Argyle. The next to these is Slata or Sleach, so called because out of a rock therein tyles named slats are cut and extracted. Then follow Naosg, Easdale, Schann, and the isle called Tran from an herb which is prejudicial to fruits, not unlike guild or loose-strife, but that ’tis of a more dilute colour. Then Uridich and the Rye island. Then Dow, i. e. the Black Island, and the island Eglish, or Of the Church, and Triarach. After these follow the islands Ard or HIgh, Isbol, Green, Heath, and also Tree, Goat, Coney-Isles, and that which is called the Island of the Otiosi and Eris-bach, as also Lismore, in which heretofore there was the Bishop of Argyle’s See. It is eight miles in length, two in bredth. In it it there are found metals, besides the commodities common to other isles. Then succeed Ovilia and Iuna, Ilan na Pors, and Geirach, as also Falda, the Isle of Cloich, Gramry, the islands More, Ardiescara, Musadil, and Bernera, heretofore called the Holy Sanctuary, the noble Yew-Isle, Molochsgar, and Drinacha, which is all covered over with thorns, elder, and the ruins of great houses, then another isle Drunach, which is full of wood, also Ramsay and Karrera.
34. The greatest island of the western ones, next to Jura, is Yla, which is twenty four miles long and sixteen broad. It is extended from south to north, and is very fruitful in cattle, corn, deer, and lead. There is a river of fresh water in it, called Avonlaggan, as also a bay of salt water in which are sundry islands. Besides it hath a lough of fresh water in which there is an island called Finlagan, which heretofore was the chief of all the islands, in which the prince of the islanders, assuming the name of King, was wont to dwell. Near to that but lesser is the island called Ilan na-Covihasloop, called also the Island of Council, for there was a court in it wherein fourteen of the chief men did daily sit for the administration of justice and determining matters of controversie, whose great equity and moderation procured peace both foreign and domestick, and as a concomitant of peace the affluence of all things. Between Ila and Jura there is seated a small island called Rock Isle, taking its name from an heap of stones therein. Moreover on the south side of Ila lie these islands: Chona, Mallmori, Osrim, Bridi, Corshera, the island Isbol, Immersi, Bethick, Texa, Gearach, Naosg, Rinard, Cana, Tarskeir, Achnar, the isle More, the island resembling the figure of a man, the island Jean, and Stachabadda. At the west corner of Yla stands Oversa. There also the sea is very raging, not passable for ships but at certain hours. The island Channard, and toward the north-west are situate Usabrast and Tanast, Naomph, and the island Banni. Eight miles from Yla, more toward the north, lies Oversa, next to it Porcaria, and half a mile from Oversa lies Collonsa. Beyond Collonsa to the north lies Mull, twelve miles distant from Yla. This island is twenty four miles in length, and as many in breadth. ’Tis craggy, yet not devoid of corn. It hath many woods in it and great herds of deer, and a port safe enough for ships.
35. Over against Icolumkill it hath two large rivers full of salmon, besides other lesser rivers, not without fish. It hath also two loughs, in each of which are several islands, and castles in them all. The sea, breaking into it in divers places, makes four bays, all abounding with herrings. On the south-west is seated Calaman, or the Island of Doves; on the north-east stands Erra. Both these islands are commodious for cattle, corn and fishing. The island of Icolumkill is distant from them two miles. It is two miles long, and above a mile broad, fruitful in all things which the climate can produce, and famed for as many ancient monuments as could be well expected in such a country. But it was made yet more famous by the severe disciplines and holiness of St. Columbus. It was beautified with two monasteries, one of monks and the other of nuns, with one curia, or (as they call it) a parish church, and with many chapels, some of them built by the magnificence of the Kings of Scotland, and others by the petty Kings of the islands. In the old Monastery of St. Columbus the Bishops of the Islanders placed their See. Their ancient mansion house, which was before in the Isle of Man, being taken by the English. There remains as yet among the ancient ruins a church-yard or burying place, common to all the noble families which dwelt in the Western Islands. There are three tombs in it more eminent than the rest, at a small distance one from another, having little shrines looking toward the east built over them. In the west part of each of them there is a stone with an inscription declaring whose tombs they are, the middlemost of them hath this inscription, THE TOMBS OF THE KINGS OF SCOTLAND, for it is reported that forty four of the Scotish Kings were there buried. In the right-hand one there is this title carved, THE TOMBS OF THE KINGS OF IRELAND, for four Kings of Ireland are said to be interred there. That on the left side is inscribed THE TOMBS OF THE KINGS OF NORWAY, for report says that eight Kings of that nation were inhum’d there. In the rest of the coemetery, the eminent families of the islands have each their tombs apart.
36. There are six islands adjacent to it, small indeed yet not unfruitful, which have been given by ancient Kings and by the princes of the islanders to the nunnery of St. Columb. The island Soa, though it hath convenient pasturage for sheep, yet its greatest revenue is from the sitting and hatching of sea-fowl, and especially from their eggs. The next to that is Nuns-Island. Then Rudana. After that Reringa, after which follows Skanny, distant half a mile from Mull. It hath one parish in it, but the parishioners live mostly in Mull. The shore abounds with coneys. A mile from Skanny stands Eorsa. All these are under the jurisdiction of the monks of St. Columbus his monastery. Two miles from Borsa stands Ulva, which is five miles long, and, for its bigness, fruitful in corn and pasturage. It hath an haven very commodious for galleys, long-boats, or berlins. On its south-side lies Solvansa, the soyl thereof is fruitful, and it hath a wood of hasel in it. Almost three hundred paces form it is situate Gomedra, two miles long and a mile broad, running out from south to north. Four miles from hence toward the north-west are the two Carniburghs, the greater and the lesser, so fortified round about with the precipices of rocks and a most rapid current besides that, their natural strength being assisted by art, they are impregnable. A mile from these is an island whose soil is almost black, as being concreted out of old rotten wood and moss mixt together. They dry the turff of it for fewel, and therefore ’tis called Turff-Island, for so they call that sort of earth which the English call moss. Then succeeds Lunga, two miles in length, and Baca half less than it. From thence towards the west about six miles distance stands Tirriss, in length eight miles, in bredth three, all of these islands most abounding with all things necessary to maintain life. For in it is plenty of cattle and corn. They also get much by fishing and the breed of sea-fowl. There is also a lake or lough of fresh water and an old castle, as also a haven, not unsafe for galleys and long-boats. Two miles from hence stands Gunn Isle, and at an equal distance from Gun, Coll, twelve miles long, two broad, a very fruitful isle.
37. Not far from thence is Calfa, which is almost all covered with wood. After that two islands follow, sirnam’d Green, the greater and the lesser. And as many lie, of the same sirnames, over against the promontory of Mull. From it at no great distance there lye two islands sirnamed Glassa, i. e. Sky Blew. Then Ardan Rider, i. e., the High Island of the Horseman. Next Luparia, or the Island of Wolves. After this is the island More. From the island Coll towards the south, there is extended from east to west Rum, sixteen miles long, six broad, and because it is inhabited but in few places the sea-fowl do almost every where lay their eggs up and down in the fields, so that in the spring one may take up as many of them as he pleaseth. In the high rocks of Rum the soland geese, spoken of before, are taken in great abundance. Four miles from thence to the south-east is the island Naich, or of Horses, and half a mile from thence is Mujick, for its bigness abounding with all necessaries. Falcons build their nests therein, and it hath also a port convenient enough for shipping. Not far from it are Canna and Egg Isle, small yet fruitful islands, the later abounding with soland geese. Then there is Soavretil, fitter for hunting than any other commodities of life. Thence from north to south is extended Sky, the greatest of all the islands about Scotland, as being in length forty two miles, in bredth sometimes eight, sometimes twelve. In many places it is full of mountains which abound with woods, and those woods are full of pastures. There campagne [lowland] is also fruitful of corn and cattle; and besides other cattle there are in it a great breed of mares. It hath five great rivers in it, all very full of salmon, besides many lesser ones, not void of salmon neither. The sea, penetrating on every side into the land, makes many bays of salt-water therein, of which three are most eminent, besides thirteen, all full of herrings. It hath also a lough of fresh-water in it, and five castles. This island in the old Scotch dialect was called Skianacha, i. e., winged, because the promontories between which the sea made its influx did stretch out themselves as so many wings, but use hath obtained that ’tis now called Sky, i. e. a wing. About Sky there lie scattered some smaller islands, as Oransa, full of corn and cattle, and Na Gunner, having plenty of woods and conies; as also Paba, infamous for robberies, where thieves lurking in the woods to way-lay travellers as they pass. Then comes Scalpa, situated eight miles from it to the north-west. Besides other commodities, it hath great herds of deer in its woods. Between the mouth of Loch-Carron and Raarsa lies Crouling, a port safe for ships. And from Scalpa, two miles toward the north, likes Raarsa, seven miles long and two broad; it hath woods of Beech-trees in it, and many deer from them. Half a mile from it is Rona, which is quite covered over with woods and heath. It hath a port in its inmost bay noted for pyracy, as being very commodious to surprize sea-passengers. And in the mouth of the bay (which from its shallowness is called Gerloch) there is an island of the same name.
38. From Rona, six miles towards the north, lies Fladda. Two miles from Fladda is Tronta, and on the south side of Sky, Oransa. A mile from thence lie Little Buia, then Great Buia, and after them five small islands of no note. After them follows Isbol, fruitful in corn, and near it is Ovia, then Askerma and Linadel, and eighty miles from Sky to the north-west lie Linga, Gigamena, Bernera, Megala, Paba, Flada, Scarpa Vervecum, i. e. of Weathers, Sandrera, and Watersa, which, besides other great conveniences, hath a haven capable of holding many, and those very great, ships, wither at certain seasons of the year a great company of fisher-men flock together from the countries round about. These nine last islands are under the government of the Bishop of the Islands. Two miles distant from Watersa lies Barra, seven miles in length, extending it self from the southwest to the north-east, not unfruitful in corn but most noted for cod and whiting fishing. A bay of the sea makes an influx into it at a narrow mouth, but within it is broader and also round. It hath one island in it, and therein a strong fort or castle. In the north part of Barra there ariseth an hill full of grass from top to bottom; at the top of it riseth a spring of fresh water, which flowing down into a rivulet carries with it into the neighbouring sea some small animals, as yet shapeless, which in some sort, though obscurely, do represent those shell-fish we commonly call cockles. This part of the shore, to which the Borderers retire, they call the Great Sands, because, when the sea ebbs, the sand is uncovered for a mile and more. There they dig up great shell-fish, and the people there about believe it to be as a seminary of those shapeless fish which the forenamed drill [stream] carries down from its fountain, and that they are either produced there or at least grow bigger in the sea. Between Barra and Uyist lie these small islands following: Orbansa, Ovia or Eoy, Hakerset, Garulinga, Flada, Buia the Greater and Buia the Less. From these, towards the north, lies Uyist, thirty miles long and six broad. The tide flowing into this island in two places represents the appearance of three islands, but when it ebbs it again coalesces into one. In it are many lakes of fresh water, the biggest of which is three miles long. The sea, wearing away the land, hath made it self a passage into this lough, neither can it be excluded by the inhabitants, no not by a jitty or bank of sixty foot high, but that it insinuates it self between the stones, not well compacted together, and there often leaves some small sea-fish behind. There is a fish taken in it, in other respects like a salmon, save that his belly his white and his back black, and he is without scales like to salmon. Moreover, there are in it abundance of loughs of fresh water. It hath caves in it covered with heath, which are lurking places for robbers. There are five parish-churches in it for the performance of holy duties.
39. Eight miles from thence towards the east lies Helscher Vetularum, so called, as I suppose, because it belongs to the nuns of the island of Icolumkill. A little further towards the north appears Havelschyer, to which at certain seasons of the year many sea-calves or seals do resort, and are there taken. About sixty miles beyond that to the north-west stands Hirta, very fruitful in corn, cattle, and especially in sheep, where are here fatter than in any other of the islands. The inhabitants are ignorant of all arts, and especially of religion. After the summer solstice, the Lord of the island sends thither his proctor or steward to gather up his rent or tribute, and with him he sends a priest to baptize all the children which were born the year before, but if the priest come not, then every man baptizeth his own children. They pay to their Lord a certain number of sea-calves and of muttons dried in the sun, and also of sea-fowl. The whole island doth not exceed a mile in length, and it is almost of equal bredth, neither can any part of be seen from any neighbouring island besides three mountains which are on the shore, and these cannot be discerned neither, but from the highest places of other islands. In those mountains there are sheep exceedingly beautiful, but by reason of the violence and rapidness of the sea-current and tide they can scarce be come at by any body.
40. But to return to Uyist, on the north promontory thereof there is situate the isle Valay, a mile broad and two mile long. Between that promontory and the isle Harrick these islands are interjacent, small indeed, but not unfruitful, viz., Soa, Stromoy, Pabaia, Bernera, Erisay, Keligera, Saga the Less, Saga the Greater, Hermodra, Scarvay, Gria, Linga, Gillan, Hea, Hoia, Forelaia, Soa the Lesser, Soa the Greater, Isa, Senna the Less, Senna the Great, Tarransa, Slegana, Tnema. And, above Harrick, Scarpa, and due west there are seven islands at fifty miles distance above Lewis, which some call Flavana, others, the Sacred or Sanctuary Islands. They arise up into grassy mountains, but are void of all human culture, neither are therein them any four-footed beasts, but only wild sheep which the hunters catch, but eat them not when they have done. For they esteem the fat more palatable than the flesh, for the flesh is so unpleasant that no man will eat it unless enforced by extremity of hunger. Furthermore, almost in the same tract, nearer to the north lie Garvellan, i. e., the Craggy Island, Lamba, Flada, and Kellasa, the two Berneraes, the Great and the Small, Kirta, Buia the Little, Buia the Great, Vexa, Pabaia, and Sigrama the great, or Cunicularia, so called from its plenty of conies, Sigram the Less, and the Island of Pygmies. In this last there is a chapel where the bordering people do believe that Pygmies were heretofore buried. For many strangers, digging deep into the earth, have found, and yet do find, little and round heads and the small bones of other parts of human bodies, nothing derogating from the ancient reports concerning Pygmies. In that shore of the island Lewis which looks toward the south-east, two bays of the sea do break into the land, one of which they call the South, the other the North Lough. Both of them do yield abundance of fish to those which take pains to catch them, and that during the whole year. From the same shore of lewis, more to the south, stands Fable Isle, then Adams Isle, then the Isle of Lambs, as also Huilin, Viccoil, Havera, Laxa, Erin, the isle of Kilumkill, Toray, Iffert, Scalpa, Floda, and Shevy. At the east side of this island there is a subterraneous passage, arched at top, longer than a man can shoot an arrow into. Under which vault small ships use to shelter themselves, making to it by sails or oars to avoid the violence of the tide which rages at the neighbouring promontory with a huge noise, to the extreme terrour and danger of the mariners. More to the east lies an island which they call Schan Castle, a place naturally fortified, abounding with corn and fish, and also affording sufficient provision to the inhabitants by eggs of sea-fowl, which there make their nests. At the shore where Loch-Brien or Broom opens to the land lies the isle Eu, which is almost all covered with woods, and good for nothing but to harbour thieves in to rob passengers.
41. More to the north is the island Gruinorta, being also full of woods, possessed by robbers and pyrates. And looking towards the same coast is an island named the island of Cleirach, which, beside pasturage, abounds with the eggs of sea-fowl. Next to that is Afulla, and then Harary the Greater, then Harary the Less, and nigh it the Island of Horses or Naa Stich, and near that again, the isle Mertaika. These eight islands are situate before the mouth of the bay, which is vulgarly called Lough-Broom or Brian. At some distance from these islands which lie before Lough-broom, Harrick and Lewis run toward the north. They are sixty miles and length and sixteen in bredth. These make but one island, for they are not distinguished by the arms of the sea that flow into it, but by the meers of the land and the possessions of their several Lairds. But that part which is exposed to the south is wont to be called Harray. In it there was a monastery called Roadilla, built by Maccloyd of Harray. The soil is fruitful of corn, but it yields its increase rather by digging than plowing. The pastures in it are very fit for sheep, especially one very high mountain which is green with grass even to the very top. Donald Monro, a learned and pious man, relates that when he was there he saw sheep (for that kind of cattle) very old wandering up and down without any certain owner. And the number of them is increased from hence, that neither fox, wolf or serpent was ever seen there, though betwixt this part and Lewis great woods are interjacent which breed many stags, but low ones and not big-bodied at all. In this part of the island is a river very full of salmon. In the north part lies Lewis, inhabited enough towards the shore. It hath four parish-churches in it, one fort, seven great rivers and twelve lesser ones, all of them, according to their bigness, full of salmons. In many places the sea penetrates into the land, and there diffuses it self into bays, all abounding with plenty of herrings. There is also great plenty of sheep, which wander freely amongst the thickets and heath-bushes. The inhabitants drive them into a narrow place like a sheep-fold, and there, every year, they sheer them after the ancient custom. The champion [lowland] part of that country abounds with heath-bushes, in which the earth is black at top, occasioned by moss and the coalition of rotten wood gathered together for many ages, even a foot thick. This upper crust, being cut into long and slender turffs and dryed in the sun, serves for firing in stead of wood. The next year after, the naked ground being dunged with sea-weed, is sown with barley. In this island there is commonly so great a quantity of whales taken that sometimes (as the old inhabitants relate) twenty seven, some very great, some smaller, fall to the share of the priests for their tithes. There is also a great cave in this island, in which, when the tide is out, the water is yet two fathom deep; but when the tide is in, ’tis above four fathom. There multitudes of people of both sexes and of all ages, sitting on the rocks with hooks and lines, do promiscuously catch all sorts of fish in great abundance.
42. There is a small island about sixty miles from Lewis to the north-east, of a low and plain soil, and will inhabited. Its name is Rona, the inhabitants thereof are rude persons, void almost of all religion. The Laird of it assigns a certain number of families to inhabit and till it, and he allows them a sufficiency of great and small cattle whereby they may life well and pay their tribute too. That which is above their own provision they send every year to Lewis to their land-lord who lives there. They commonly pay him, in the name of a tribute or rent, a great quantity of barly-meal sewed up in the skins of sheep (for that kind of grain grows plentifully amongst them), muttons and sea-fowl dried in the sun, as much as remains, as a surplusage of their yearly provision. And if the multitude of heads doth abound, they send also the supernumerary persons to their land-lords, so that these, in my judgment, are the only persons in the whole world who want nothing, but have all things to satiety. And besides, being ignorant of luxury and covetousness, they enjoy that innocency and tranquillity of mind which others take great pains to obtain from the precepts and institutions of wise men. And this they have from their ignorance of vices, neither doth any thing seem to be wanting to their great happiness but that they do not understand the excellency of their condition. There is in this island a chapel dedicated to St. Romanus, wherein (as old men say) there is a spade always left, wherewith if anyone dye there is always a place marked out and prepared for his grave. Moreover in this island, besides other fishery, many whales are also taken. Sixteen mile from thence towards the west lies the island Suilkry, a mile long, which brings forth no grass, not so much as heath, only it hath black rocks, some of which are covered with black moss. Sea-fowl do commodiously lay their eggs and hatch them there. Before the young are fledg’d enough to fly away, the neighbour islanders sail thither from Lewis, and they allow themselves eight days time, more or less, to cull or gather them up, until they load their skiffs with their flesh dried in the sun, and also with their feathers. In this island also there is a rare kind of bird unknown in other parts, called colca; it is a little less than a goose. She comes every year thither, and there hatches and feeds her young till they can shift for themselves. About that time, her feathers fall off of their own accord and so leaves her naked, then she betakes her self to the sea again, and is never seen more till the next Spring. This is also singular in them, that their feathers have no quills or stalks, but do cover their bodies with a gentle down wherein there is no hardness at all.
43. Next follow the Orcades, lying scattered in the North of Scotland, partly in the Deucaledonian, and partly in the German Seas. Concerning the name of them, writers both ancient and modern do well enough agree, but the reason of the name no man (that I know) hath explained. All say that they were of a German original, but from what nation of Germany they say not. If we may form a conjecture from their speech, both heretofore and now, they use the Gothish language. Some think they were Picts, induced by this argument, that the sea dividing them from Caithness is called the Pentland Sea or Firth. They judge also that the Picts themselves were of the race of the Saxons, grounding their opinion chiefly on the verses of Claudian in his seventh Panegyrick, which run thus:
Maduerunt Saxone fuso
Orcades, incaluit Pictorum sanguine Thule,
Scotorum tumulos flevit glacialis Ierne.
The Orcades were most with Saxon’s gore;
The blood of Picts, there spilt, warm’d Thule’s shore;
For tombs of Scots icy Jern wept sore.
But their error may easily be refuted, partly out of Bede the Anglo-Saxon, who, affirming that the Britains sang the praises of God in five several languages, reckons the Pictish to be one. But if the Picts had then spoke the Saxon language, he would not have distinguished it from the Saxon (which then the English used without corruption). And partly also out of those very verses of Claudian, where he expressly declares that the Picts were a different people from the Saxons, For he says that the Orcades were the country of the Saxons, and Thule of the Picts. But whatsoever their original were, in this our age they use a language different both from Scotch and English, but very near the Gothish. In their daily conversation the common people do as yet retain much of their ancient parsimony, and therefore they are very sound in mind and healthy in body. Few of them dye of diseases, but almost all of them of old age, and their ignorance of delights and pleasures contributes more to the maintaining of their health than the skill and diligence of physitians doth to others. The same parsimony makes much both for the elegancy of their beauties and the talness of their stature.
44. They have but a small increase of corn, except only of oats and barly, out of which they extract both bread and drink too. Of animals which herd together they have sheep, kine and divers goats, so that they have abundance of milk, butter and cheese among them. They have also an innumerable company of sea-fowl, of which, and of fishes, their diet doth for the most part consist. There is no venemous creature there, no, nor any one deformed to look upon. They have little horses, in shew contemptible, but strong enough for all uses, even beyond belief. They have never a tree growing, no, nor shrub neither, besides heath, which happens not so much for the fault of the soil and air as of the laziness of the inhabitants, as doth easily appear by the roots of trees which in many places are there digged out of the earth. As oft as foreigners import any wine thither, they drink it greedily, even to excess. They have an ancient cup or goblet among them, which (to procure the greater authority in their carousings) they say did belong to St. Magnus, who first instructed them in the principles of the Christian religion. It so far exceeds the bigness of other drinking-bowls that it may seem to have been a relick of the feast of the Lapithae. They try an experiment upon their Bishops at their first coming to them therewith. He that can drink up a whole one at draught (which seldom happens), they count him a very nonesuch of a man, and do look upon it as an happy omen and presage that the crop of the following years will be superabundant. From which practice of theirs, a man may easily conjecture that their parsimony which I spake of proceeds not so much from reason and choice as from penury and want, and the same necessity which produced it at first did perpetuate and to their posterity till, the neighbor-nations being corrupted by prevailing luxury, their ancient discipline was by degrees weakened and impaired, and they also gave up themselves to charming pleasures and delights. And being thus inclined to luxury, they were hurried on thereto by their commerce with pyrates, who, not daring to land on the continent because it was full of inhabitants, took in fresh water at these islands, and there either chang’d [traded] their wine and other merchandize for the provisions of the country, or else sold them to the islanders at a low price. And the islanders, being few in number and unarmed too, and dispersed also in the tempestuous sea, that they could not convene to assist one another, being conscious of their own weakness, either did receive, or at least did not reject, security brought home to their doors, especially it being mixed with gain and pleasure to boot, which are the usual companions thereof. But this pollution of manners did infect the great ones mostly, and the priests. Among the vulgar, many footsteps of their former moderation do yet remain.
45. The sea is there very raging and tempestuous, which is caused not only by the violence of winds and the position of the heavenly constellations, but also by the meetings of contrary tides raised up and flowing in from the West Ocean, and making such a conflict between the streights of the land that the surges occasioned thereby, sometime meeting opposite to one another, and being all impetuously whirled together, cannot be passed, neither by oars nor sails. If any mariners dare come too near, one of these three michiefs befals them: they are either driven back with a forcible violence into the sea, or else, by the rapidness of the foaming waves, they are dashed upon shelves and rocks, or, lastly, are swallowed up by the rolling vortices of the insucking waters. There are only two seasons wherein these streights are passable, either when, upon the falling back of the tides, the conflict of waters ceasing, the sea is thereby calmed, or else when it comes in a full channel to the height of its increase at spring-tides, that force languishing on both sides which raised and made the waters tempestuous and stormy, the ocean, as it were, sounding a retreat to its storms, and thereupon the mountainous surges thereof do retire (that I may so speak) into their own proper caverns and recesses. Moreover, authors do not agree concerning the number of the Orcades. Pliny reckons them to be forty, others about thirty. But Orosius comes nearest the truth, he makes them thirty three, of which thirteen are inhabited, the rest not, but left to feed cattle. For many of them are low, and so narrow in compass that if they should be tilled they would scarce maintain above one person or two. Some of them shew like bare rocks, or else such as are covered but with squalid moss. The biggest isle of the Orcades is call’d by many of the ancients Pomona. At this day they call it the Main Land, because it exceeds the rest so much in bigness, for it is thirty mile long. It is well inhabited, for it hath in it twelve parish churches and one town besides, which the Danes, who were long masters of the Orcades, called Cracovia; we Scotchmen call it by a corrupt name, Kirkwall. In this town there are two castles of a reasonable bigness standing near together, one belonging to the King, the other to the Bishop, And between them is a church magnificent enough for those places. Between the church and the castles there are frequent buildings on both sides which the inhabitants call two cities, one the Kings, the other the Bishops. The whole isle runs out in promontories between which the bays of the sea, making an influx, do afford safe anchoring for ships, and here and there a good port.
46. In six several places of this island there are metals, i. e., white and black lead, so good that there are not better in all Britain. This island is about twenty four mile distant from Caithness, the Pictish Sea, called Pentland Firth, running between them, of whose nature we have spoken before. In that narrow sea there are many scattered islands, of which Strom-Oy, not unfruitful for the bigness of it, is distant from Caithness but a mile, but they do not reckon that amongst the Orcades because of its propinquity to the British shore, and also because the Earls of Caithness have always been lords of it. Sayling from hence towards the north, we meet with South Ranalds or Ranals-Or, the first of the Orcades, which is sixteen miles from Dungsby-head. Skiffs and small ships pass over in two hours from it to this island, the tide being with them though there be no wind, such is the violence of this current. The island is four miles in length, and it hath a convenient port sirnamed St. Margarets Hope. From it, a little towards the east, are two small islands, uninhabited, and left for cattle to pasture in. They call it in their country speech the Holmes, that is, grassy plains situate by waters. To the north is the island Burra and two Holmes between That and Mainland. From Burra towards the west there lie three islands in order, Scuna, Flata, and Fara, and beyond them Hoia and Valis or Waes-Isle, which some make two, others but one island, because about both the Equinocts (at which time the sea doth most tempestuously foam and rage), the tide falling back and the lands being bared, they cohere and are joyned together by a narrow neck of land, and so make one island; but upon the return of the tide and the renewed interjacency of the sea, they again represent the form of two. In this island are the highest mountains of all the Orcades. Hoia and Waes Isle are extended ten miles in length, and from Ronalsa they are distant eight miles; from Duncansby or Dungisby in Caithness, above twenty mile. On the north is the island Granisa, situate in a very narrow arm of the sea. for Hoia is distant from the nearest promontory, which is that of Pomona or Mainland only two miles. These are the islands situate in the very streights between Mainland and Caithness. The west side of Mainland looks to the open sea, no islands or rocks appearing therein. From its east promontory it a little runs out into the sea. Coupins-Oy almost covers it on the north. Nearer the shore is Siapins-Oy, something inclining to the east, situate over against Kirkwall two miles distant, it self being six mile long. On the west part of Mainland lies Rows-Oy, six miles in length. From thence toward the east stands Eglisa or Eglis-Oy, where fame reports that St. Magnus was buried.
47. From hence to the southward lie Wyer-Oy and Gresa-Oy, and not far from thence Wester-Oy, which is eighty miles distant from Schetland. Papa and Stronza are also eighty miles distant from Schetland. Almost in the middle of the passage between them lies Fara or Fair Isle, which is conspicuous and visible both from the Orcades and from Schetland too, for it ariseth into three very high promontories begirt with lofty rocks, every way inaccessible save that toward the north east it, being a little lower, affords an harbour safe enough for small ships. The inhabitants thereof are very poor, for the fishermen which sail that way every year, coming to fish from England, Holland and other countries near the sea, do plunder and carry away what they please. The next after it is the greatest island of the Schetlandish, and therefore the inhabitants call it the Continent or Mainland. It is sixty miles in length, and in some places sixteen in bredth. It spreads it self into many small promontories. two of them I shall name, the one long but narrow, running to the north, the other broader, running to the south east. The maritime parts of it are for the most part inhabited, but to the inward parts no animal comes but fowl. Some few years since the inhabitants endeavoured to form plantations further then their ancestors had done, but the success did not answer. Their wealth is from the sea, for it lies convenient for fishing on every side. ten mile further toward the north is the Zeal or Yell, above twenty mile long and eight broad, so uncouth a place that no creature can live therein unless he be born there. A merchant of Breme is reported to dwell in this island, who doth import all sorts of foreign wares which the inhabitants have need of, in great abundance.
47. Between this island and Mainland lie these small islands: Linga, Orna, Bigga, Sancterry. About nine miles beyond it to the north stands Vuist, extended above twenty mile in length, and six in bredth. ’Tis of a plain and level soil, otherwise ’tis non unsightly to the eye, but that it is surrounded with a very raging sea. Between it and Yell, Via, Ura, Linga are interjected. Beyond it to the west are the two Skerrys and Burra. On the east is Balta, Honnega, Fotlara or Pheodor-Oy, seven miles long, distant seven mile from Vuist and eight from Yell. ’Tis over against the streights which divide Vuist from Yell. Then many petty islands like on the east-side of the Mainland, as Mecla, the eastern Skirrys, Chualsa or Whals-Oy, Nostvada, Brasa and Musa. The west side is begirt with the western Skirrys, Rotti, Papa the Less, Vemendru, Papa the Greater, Vallu, Trons Isle, Burra, Hara the Greater, Hara the Less, and amongst them almost as many Holmes or Plain Islands for pasturage only are interspersed. The Schetlanders live after the same manner as the Islanders of the Orcades do, save that as to their houshold provision they are a little more hardy. Their apparel is after the German fashion, which according to their abilities is not uncomely. Their incomes arise from a sort of cloth, which they make very thick and sell to the Norwegians, as also from oyle expressed out of the inwards of fishes, from butter, and from fishing. They fish in small vessels of two oars, which they buy of the Norwegians. Part of the fish of those being sold, they raise up a sum of money to pay their tribute and to provide houses wherein they may dwell, and household stuff, so that a great part of their livelihood arises from thence. They who study neatness in their household utensils have some silver vessels also. They use measures, numbers and weights after the German fashion. Their language is also German, or almost the ancient Gothish. They know not what ’tis to be drunk, only every month they invite one another, and on those days they are innocently merry and jocund, without those brawls and other vices which are occasioned by drunkenness, for they persuade themselves that this custom contributes much for the maintaining of mutual friendship. The firmness of their health appeared in one nam’d Lawrence in our age, who, after he was an hundred years old, married a wife. And when he was an hundred and forty he used to fish with his skiff even in a very rough and raging sea. He died but lately, not by the force of any grievous disease, but only by the infirmities and languishment of old age.