Site icon Random Scottish History

NOTES., J. Bain, J. J. Elliott, J. Bain, D. MacRitchie (Feb., 1895), pp.111-114.

The Inquest of David. 


WHERE the contents of your opening number are so good, selection is difficult; but I would venture to say that the Inquisicio of David has never been so well expounded before, and reflects great credit on the author’s research. With your leave, I offer a note or two as to some of the witnesses for his consideration. It was, I think, Lord Hailes, not Dr. Skene, who first showed in his Annals that William fitz Duncan was nephew of David I. His father, Duncan II. (David’s elder half-brother), was then called a bastard son of Malcolm Canmohr, but is now known to have been his lawful son by Ingebiorg, his first wife, and thus represented the old Celtic line. Duncan’s wife was Ethelreda, a daughter of the first Gospatric; thus William fitz Duncan was nephew of the two witnesses who immediately follow him – Cospatric, brother of Dolfin, and Waldef his brother. Though Mr. Brown is inclined to hesitate, weighty authority supports the belief that the second Gospatric (the true form of his name, Cospatric being a corrupt one) was styled frater Dolfini, even after he succeeded his father Gospatric I. as Earl about 1115. As summus dux Lodonensium [high-chief of Lothian], this second Gospatric fell at the battle of the Standard, 22d Aug. 1138, at the head of the men of his earldom. Waldef, his younger brother, must be Waldeve of Allerdale, a great district in Cumbria till William Rufus drove him out in 1092, appears to have left no succession. The order in which these two brothers Gospatric and Waldef occur, immediately following the Countess Matilda and William fitz Duncan, is enough to attest their high rank, preceding even the Morvilles, Ridels, Corbets, &c. Witnesses were carefully marshalled in those days, the greatest men first in order. The Complete Peerage, by G. E. C. [George Edward Cokayne], a well-known heraldic officer, contains (voce Dunbar) in brief what is positively known of the first Gospatric and his direct successors. 


*     *     *     *     *

A Burns Parallel. 

“IN Camden’s Remains Concerning Britain (seventh impression, 1674) p. 499, there occurs, amongst other Latin epitaphs, one in which – and still more in an accompanying metrical translation – the imagery employed curiously anticipated that used by Burns in his familiar stanzas entitled The Calf

“A merry mad maker, as they call poets now” (quaintly says Camden by way of introduction) “was he which in the time of King Henry the Third made this for John Calf

O Deus omnipotens Vituli miserere Joannis 
Quem mors praeveniens noluit esse bovem. 
[Oh God, have mercy on John Calves 
Whom his morals and in advance would not be an ox.]  

Which in our time was thus paraphrased by the Translatour:- 

All Christian men in my behalf 
Pray for the soul of Sir John Calf. 
O cruel death, as subtle as a Fox, 
Who would not let this Calf live till he had been an Oxe, 
That he might have eaten both brambles and thorns, 
And when he came to his father’s years might have worn horns.

In neither epitaph nor paraphrase did the bovine metaphor receive that freedom of treatment which it afterwards met with in the Scottish poet’s clever jeu d’esprit; still, the parallel between them, hitherto apparently unnoted by Burns editors, seems close enough to merit brief record here. 


*     *     *     *     *

Mrs. Jean Cameron, the Jacobite of 1745. 

“THERE is a pitiful story in the Sketch Book of the North, by G. Eyre-Todd (1890, p. 18), of a Jeanie Cameron who followed Prince Charles Edward to France, was forgotten or cast off, returned to Scotland to find her family door shut upon her, and became a beggar in Edinburgh in the end of last century [18th] – vouched for by some one who had seen her begging in a tobacco shop. Mr. Todd must have been imposed upon, for there is a notice of this lady in the History of East Kilbride (Lanarkshire), by the Rev. David Ure, 1793, p. 165. After alluding to her zealous attachment to the Stuarts, her distinguished family and beauty, the author describes her settling in the parish, building a house on her estate there, called Mount Cameron, and her death there in 1773, on the best of terms with her brother and his family. This does not accord with the story of the poor beggar; and as there can hardly have been two Jean Camerons of such note in 1745, it must be concluded that the heroine of the ballad was not the mendicant, but the lady of Mount Cameron. 


*     *     *     *     *

A Ross-shire Broch described in 1677. 

“IN the journal of Thomas Kirk, Esq., of Cookridge, Yorkshire, which records his travels in Scotland in 1677, there occurs1 an interesting though brief description of a broch. Kirk had gone from Dornoch westward up the Kyle of Sutherland to see a famous fir wood, and thence, turning south-east, he came to Tain. “In our way from these woods to Tayne,” he says, “we saw an old round building, and we entered it; it was about twelve yards diameter on the inside; the remains of the walls about six yards high; it was built of great stones, without hewing, or without mortar; it had but one little entrance; the  walls were double that one might walk round them in two walks, one above another; for my part, I could not imagine the meaning of it, nor could I be informed of it.” 
This, I think, is almost certainly the broch referred to by Dr. John Stuart2 in 1867, as “the tower of Dunaliscaig, in the parish of Edderton, now razed, but of which we have a description when its plan could be traced.” For this description Dr. Stuart refers to Maitland’s History of Scotland, vol. i. p. 145, and to Cordiner’s Antiques and Scenery of the North of Scotland, p. 118. The first-named work was published in 1757, and the other in 1780, both at London. Maitland’s account is very precise, but it is enough to say, in this connection, that he states the internal diameter to be thirty feet, and the tower itself as “at present about twenty feet in height.” Cordiner says: “The area of the court or hall within is twenty-seven feet diameter. No part of the wall in this castle is now above sixteen feet high.” It is quite in accordance with the usual fate of those brochs that the walls of this one should be eighteen or twenty feet high in 1677 and 1757, sixteen feet high in 1780, and non-existent in 1867. As for the differences in the estimated diameter of the inner area, that and any similar discrepancy can be easily explained by assuming that the figures were only approximate. Maitland, certainly, had taken great pains to be exact; but it is not every traveller that has the time, even when he has the inclination, to measure the length, breadth, and height of every antiquarian relic he comes across. 
The site of this old dùn, or broch, is presumably indicated by the “Dounie” and “Douniehill” marked on the ordnance map at the eastern base of Struie Hill, one mile north-west of Edderton station. But, at anyrate, it seems to me evident that Kirk’s “old round building” is the Dunaliscaig or Dun-alishaig of 1757 and 1780.3

It is a little remarkable that our earliest description of this (? or any) broch is obtained from an Englishman. But, after all, is not the best existing gazetteer of Scotland also the work of an Englishman? 



1 Page 36 of Mr. Hume Brown’s Tours in Scotland in 1677 and 1681: David Douglas, 1892.
2 Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot. vol. vii. p. 298.
3 It may be added that a footnote in Mr. Hume Brown’s book explains this “old round building” to be “the castle of Duffus, now a ruin”; but I am informed that this identification was made by a correspondent, who appears to have come to a hasty and erroneous conclusion as to the locality indicated.
Exit mobile version