[General History of Scotland Contents]
FERGUS, commonly called the firʃt king of Scotland, ʃaid to have reigned three hundred and thirty years before the Incarnation, is reported to have been by birth an Iriʃhman; and we are told, that the inhabitants of Ireland were then called Scots. Be this as it may, the authors of thoʃe accounts ʃay, that the Caledonian-Scots ʃent for Fergus, the ʃon of Ferchard, from Ireland, to aʃʃiʃt them; and accordingly Fergus landed on the iʃlands of Ebudæ, where he confederated with the Caledonian-Scots, whoʃe language and manners he found to be the ʃame with thoʃe of his own countrymen. The Britons were a people, diʃtinct from the Picts, who were called Scythians, and the ancient Caledonians, as well as the Iriʃh-Scots; all whom they looked upon as being no better than intruders. Coilus was then king of the Britons, and Fergus was placed at the head of the other three nations to oppoʃe him. A battle was fought on the banks of the Down, in which Coilus was defeated and killed; and from him the province called Kyle receives its name. This victory gave Fergus the ʃovereignty of the Scots and Picts; but being recalled to Ireland, he was drowned in his return, at a place ʃtill called after him Knock, or Carrickfergus.
Though Fergus the firʃt left behind him two ʃons, Ferleg and Mainus, yet both being minors, his brother Ferithar was raiʃed to the crown. It muʃt be acknowledged, that all the Northern nations in early ages had a ʃtrong attachment to the collateral ʃucceʃʃion by brothers inʃtead of ʃons. The Scots, however, to ʃupport the hereditary right of deʃcent, tell us, that their anceʃtors made a law ordaining, ‘that whilʃt the children of their kings were infants, one of their kindred, who was judged moʃt accompliʃhed for the government, ʃhould ʃway the ʃcepter in their behalf; and if he died, then the ʃucceʃʃion of the kingdom ʃhould deʃcend to the former king’s ʃons.’ Ferleg, impatient to ʃee his uncle mount the throne of Fergus, and govern his ʃubjects with glory and moderation, demanded his crown. Ferithar referred the diʃpute to an aʃʃembly of the ʃtates, who confirmed him on the throne; and it was owing to the lenity of his uncle, that they did not condemn Ferleg for ʃedition. He was, indeed, imprisoned, but finding means to eʃcape, he ʃolicited, firʃt, the Picts, and then the Britons, for aʃʃiʃtance; but failed with both. In the mean time, Ferithar being ʃtabbed in his bed, the blame was thrown on Ferleg; upon which he was ʃet aʃide from the ʃucceʃʃion and died in obscurity.
Ferithar was succeeded by his nephew Mainus, who is ʃaid to have been a pious prince, and to have reigned twenty-nine years. His ʃon Dornadil was the Scotch Nimrod, and inʃtituted the laws of hunting among their Highlanders. Fordun particularizes other princes beʃides thoʃe mentioned, who ʃucceeded Fergus, the ʃon of Ferchard. He informs us, that Reuther or Rether was the ʃon of Dornadil, but being a minor, that his uncle Nothat was acknowledged king; and that he was killed in a battle with his nephew who was immediately crowned. The friends of Nothat raiʃed a rebellion, and were headed by one Ferchard, chieftain of Kintyre and Lorn, who was routed by Doval, the leader of the Brigantes, or the Gallowaymen; upon which young Reuther married the daughter of Getus, king of the Picts. A bloody war enʃued, the two chieftains were killed, the young king was taken priʃoner, and the Picts were driven by the Britons to the Orkney-iʃlands. The latter then fell upon the Scots, and their king Oenus defeated Reuther, whom he beʃieged in the caʃtle of Berigone, where he was ʃo ʃtraitly beʃet, that he was forced to make his eʃcape to Ireland; but all his faithful followers were put to the ʃword. Being invited over ʃome years after, by a new generation of Scots and Picts, he put himʃelf at their head, and was joined by Getus, king of the latter. In conjunction, they fought Syʃil, king of the Britons; but neither party had reaʃon to boaʃt of the victory. Both, however, were ʃo heartily tired of the war, that a peace was concluded; and Reuther ʃettled in that part of Scotland which is called from him Retherdale or Reddeʃdale. We are told by Fordun, that ʃome writers pretend he was killed in an action with the Britons, in that province or diʃtrict. Others ʃay, that he reigned twenty-ʃix years, and died in peace in the year 187 before the Incarnation, leaving behind him two ʃons, Thereus and Joʃina.
Thereus being a minor, the affairs of government were adminiʃtered by his couʃin Reutha, who is repreʃented as an excellent prince, to have brought the Scots acquainted with commerce and the arts. Thereus growing up, Reutha reʃigned to him the ʃcepter; but he proved a tyrant, and his ʃubjects riʃing in arms againʃt him, he was forced to take refuge among the Britons; while one Conan acted as a kind of a temporary viceroy, with great applause. Hearing that Thereus was dead, he reʃigned the government to his brother Joʃina, who is ʃaid to have been an excellent botaniʃt, and a patron of phyʃicians. He died after a reign of twenty-four years, and was ʃucceeded by his ʃon Finnan, who proved a worthy prince, and made a decree, “That kings ʃhould determine or command nothing of great concern or importance without the authority of their great council.” He reigned thirty years, and was ʃucceeded by his profligate ʃon Durʃtus; who, finding that his noblemen intended to dethrone him for his lewdneʃs and wickedneʃs, pretended to be a ʃincere convert to virtue; but having prevailed with the heads of the conʃpiracy to put themʃelves into his hands, he murdered them all. The ʃurviving part of his ʃubjects took arms, defeated, and killed him in battle; upon which the inʃurgents proclaimed his couʃin-german Even, or Eiven, king of Scotland. In his time the Scots and Picts joined againʃt the Britons, and this brought on a war which diʃpoʃed all parties to peace. Even is praiʃed as a ʃtrict juʃticiary, and an excellent ʃuperintendant of the education of youth. After reigning nineteen years he left a natural ʃon called Gillus; but Dothan and Dougal, the twin ʃons of Durʃtus, claimed the throne. Both of them were murdered by Gillus, as were two of Dothan’s ʃons, and the third, Eder, was ʃaved by his nurʃe. The murder of the royal family being known, the Scots and Picts united under Cadval, the chieftain of the Brigantes, to revenge their death; upon which the tyrant fled to Ireland. He was purʃued, defeated, and killed by Cadva. In the mean time, young Eder being a minor, Even or Eiven the second, as being the firʃt prince of the blood, and nephew to Finnan, was choʃen king, or rather adminiʃtrator of the realm. He renewed the league with Getus, king of the Picts, and entirely ʃubdued Belus, king of the Orkneys, who made a deʃcent upon Scotland. He is ʃaid to have built Innerlochy and Innerneʃs.
Having quelled all domeʃtic commotions and foreign enemies, Even, according to ʃome writers, reʃigned the throne to Eder; but Buchanan ʃpeaks as if he died in poʃʃeʃʃion of it. The tranquillity which Even the ʃecond had reʃtored to Scotland, was interrupted by an iʃland chieftain, one Bredius, who was utterly defeated by Eder. This reign is chiefly conʃpicuous by falling in with Cæʃar’s deʃcent upon Britain, which we have already mentioned. Eder, if we are to believe ʃome writers, ʃent his quota of troops to the aʃʃiʃtance of the Southern Britons. Whatever may be in this, it is by no means abʃurd to ʃuppoʃe, that the Caledonians, or by whatever name the inhabitants of Scotland then went, aʃʃiʃted Caʃʃibelan, and the other Britiʃh princes, againʃt the Romans; which may be preʃumed from the Britons alledging to Cæʃar, that they could not make peace without taking the ʃentiments of certain princes and people who lay at a vaʃt diʃtance. Even lived to a great age, and died in the forty-eighth year of his reign.
The method in which Boece and Buchanan have digeʃted this period of their hiʃtory, affords a ʃtrong preʃumption that great part of it was the work of invention. We find few of the princes, who filled the Scotch throne by mere hereditary deʃcent, deʃerving of that honour, unleʃs they are trained up under princes who inherit by election, founded on proximity of blood. The name of the ʃon of Eder, who immediately ʃucceeds him, is called Even or Eiven the third, who is repreʃented as a monʃter of nature. Not contented with having a hundred noble concubines of his own, he made a law that a man might marry as many wives as he could maintain; that the king ʃhould have the firʃt night with every noble bride, and the nobles the like with the daughters of their tenants. Theʃe are ʃhocking inʃtitutions. It is to be hoped, for the honour of human nature, that they are miʃrepreʃented. It is to be feared, however, that they have ʃome colour from the barbarous times of the feudal law, and that the mercheta mulierum, by which is meant, the mark or ʃum paid to ʃuperiors to exempt ladies from proʃtitution, was in conʃequence of a ʃpecies of wardʃhip which was not unknown to other nations beʃides the Scots. It is, however, certain, that luʃt and luxury introduced cruelty and rapaciouʃneʃs, which ended in rebellion; and Even being dethroned, was condemned to perpetual impriʃonment, where he was murdered in the ʃeventh year of his reign.
Even the third was ʃucceeded by Metellan, who reigned when our Saviour was born, proved an excellent prince, and died in the thirty-ninth year of his reign. Leaving no heirs of his own body, the Scotch hiʃtorians have given him for his ʃucceʃʃor the famous Caractacus, who was carried priʃoner to Rome, where he made the famous ʃpeech tranʃmitted by Tacitus.* He reigned twenty years, and was ʃucceeded by his brother Corbred, who ʃubdued the turbulent iʃlanders and robbers, and was the author of many uʃeful inʃtitutions to his country. We are told that he preʃerved an inviolable friendʃhip towards the Romans, till Didius, their general, at the deʃire of queen Cartiʃmandua, who had impriʃoned her huʃband, and raiʃed her ʃlave Vellocad to her bed, invaded his dominions; upon which he took arms, ʃet Venutius at liberty, and carried on war againʃt the Romans with no inconʃiderable ʃucceʃs. His ʃiʃter is ʃaid have been the famous Boadicea, ʃo renowned in the Britiʃh history. After her defeat and death, Corbred retired to his own dominions, where he died in peace in the eighteenth year of his reign, leaving behind him three ʃons, Corbred, Tulcan, and Brek, all minors. Scotch writers pretend, that his death happened in the year of our Lord ʃeventy-one. Dardan, who was nephew to Metellan, and conʃequently of the royal blood, was choʃen to ʃucceed him; but ʃome ʃay, that he was only appointed guardian to prince Corbred till he ʃhould be of age, and this Corbred is ʃuppoʃed to have been the famous Galgacus who fought Agricola. His hiʃtory is undoubtedly, at this period, connected with that of Scotland, and as ʃuch we ʃhall purʃue it, after a ʃlight review of what relates to Scotland in the Roman Hiʃtory, before Agricola invaded it.
Eutropius and Oroʃius inform us, that the emperor Claudius not only ʃubdued a great number of British princes, but diʃcovered the Orcades or Orkney-Iʃlands;1 and an ancient inʃcription2 taken from the palace of Barberini ʃpeaks of his having been the original diʃcoverer of ʃeveral barbarous nations. Tacitus, on the other hand, expreʃsly ʃays, that the Orcades never were diʃcovered till the time of Agricola. There is ʃome reaʃon to believe the teʃtimony of the two firʃt mentioned authors are corroborated by the inʃcription; and that the diʃcoveries made by Claudius were so inʃignificant that they had been abandoned, and even the memory of them loʃt in Agricola’s time. We may likewiʃe fairly preʃume, that the ʃtate of Scotland, or rather the northern parts of the iʃland, was very different in the time of Claudius from what Agricola found it. The intermediate wars had undoubtedly driven great numbers of the Southern Britons northward, to avoid the Roman yoke; ʃo that Scotland might have been an important object for Agricola, though not for Claudius. The hiʃtory of thoʃe wars is foreign to this place; but we are to obʃerve, that at the time we now treat of, the ninth legion was probably ʃtationed in Scotland; and that it was afterwards incorporated into the ʃixth. We have no reaʃon, excepting the doubtful Scotch authorities, to believe, that from the time Claudius left Britain, where he ʃtaid but ʃix months, to the invaʃion of Agricola, any of the Roman generals carried their arms into Scotland; nor can we rank either the Brigantes or the Ordovices among the inhabitants of that country.
Agricola, according to the noble hiʃtorian Tacitus, was one of the moʃt accompliʃhed politicians, as well as generals, that Rome had ever ʃeen, and in his own perʃon the pattern of temperance, moderation, and military virtue. But Agricola at the ʃame time was a Roman; that is, he ʃtudied the aggrandizement of his country at the expence of juʃtice and humanity. After introducing into Britain the Roman arts, that he might ʃoften the natives into ʃubjection, he relieved them from many oppreʃʃions impoʃed upon them by his predeceʃʃors, merely with the inʃidious view of keeping them quiet, and reconciling them to the Roman ʃway, till he had totally reduced the island. Neither Tacitus, who was his profeʃt panegyriʃt, nor any of the old Roman hiʃtorians, inform us of any provocation that Agricola had to induce him to conquer Caledonia, but the unjuʃtifiable glory of the conqueʃt. His capital maxim was to bridle the Britons with forts; and in this he ʃaid to have been ʃo ʃucceʃʃful, that none of them were ever taken, betrayed, or given up. Having ʃecured all to the ʃouth, in the third year of his command we find that he penetrated as far as the river Tay; but we know no particulars of his progreʃs. In his fourth year, he built a line of forts between the Clyde and the Forth, to exclude the Caledonians from the ʃouthern parts; and thereby, in some ʃense, he ʃhut them up in another iʃland. This manner of proceeding reflects honour upon the Caledonians, ʃince ʃo great a general as Agricola, with all the ʃouthern parts of Britain at his command, and at the head of a powerful Roman army, had recourʃe to ʃuch expedients againʃt their incurʃions.
There is reaʃon for believing, that in the fifth year of Agricola’s command, he took ʃhipping, and ʃubdued thoʃe parts of Modern Scotland which lay to the ʃouth and the weʃt of his forts, and which now contain the counties of Galloway, Cantire, and Argyle, then inhabited by a people called Cangi. Some modern writers have been of opinion, that the Cangi inhabited Cheʃhire and the north part of Wales; but that is very improbable, becauʃe thoʃe parts were well known to the Romans; and Tacitus expreʃsly tells us, that the people Agricola then conquered had never been diʃcovered before. Add to this, that the Scotch counties we have mentioned are equally (if not more) commodious as Wales is for an invaʃion of Ireland, which Agricola then intended, and for which purpoʃe he left a body of his troops there. Next year, his fleet ʃailed to the north of Bodotria, or the Frith of Forth, while he paʃʃed it at the head of his land army. It is to the glory of the Caledonians, that the tremendous appearance of a Roman fleet on their coaʃts, and of a Roman army in their territories, was ʃo far from daunting, that it united them. Agricola, from what he had experienced in the ʃouthern parts, had depended greatly on the diʃ-union of the Caledonians for ʃucceʃs. Being diʃappointed in his expectation, he proceeded with the utmoʃt caution. He ordered his mariners to keep as near as poʃʃible to the coaʃt; ʃo that ʃometimes they landed and mingled with the land troops. As uʃual, he guarded all his acquiʃitions by forts, and was particularly careful in ʃounding the ʃea-coaʃts. It appears plainly, from the noble hiʃtorian’s narrative that his ʃituation required all thoʃe precautions.
The Roman hiʃtorian renders it more than probable that Colbred, whom the Scotch hiʃtorians call Galdus, but whom we ʃhall (after Tacitus) call Galgacus, had ʃerved his apprenticeʃhip to war in South Britain againʃt the Romans; but we are not to adopt the narratives of Boece, Buchanan, and other Scotch hiʃtorians, as to the particulars; though it muʃt be acknowledged that he was a brave and experienced general, and ʃeems to have been well acquainted with the military diʃcipline of the Romans. He accordingly made diʃpoʃitions for attacking Agricola’s forts between the Clyde and the Forth. Agricola and the Romans had intelligence of his plan. Some of his officers adviʃed him to re-croʃs the Forth; but he, knowing that ʃuch a retreat would at once diʃcourage his own ʃoldiers, and give freʃh ʃpirits to the Caledonians and Britons, divided his army into three parts; each diviʃion having a communication with another. Upon this, Galgacus, whoʃe original intention was to have cut off the communication of the Romans with the ʃea, and their retreat to the ʃouthwards, changed the plan of his operations, reʃolving to attack the weakeʃt of the three diviʃions, which conʃiʃted of the ninth legion, and which was then, very probably, lying at Lohore, two miles from Loughleven, in Fife. The charge of the Caledonians, who had united their forces on the occaʃion, was in the night-time, and ʃo furious, that Agricola, hearing of it by means of the communications he had eʃtabliʃhed, diʃpatched his light troops to attack his enemies in the rear, who were now making great ʃlaughter in the very heart of the Roman camp, while he himʃelf advanced with the legionary forces to ʃupport them. The ʃhouts of the light troops at once announced their arrival, and diʃcouraged the Caledonians. The latter, unable to contend with the Roman diʃcipline, ʃtrengthened by numbers, retired to marʃhes and faʃtneʃʃes, to which their enemies could not pursue them.
The hiʃtorian has magnified this eʃcape of the ninth legion into a victory of the Romans; but, by other teʃtimonies, the Britons, part of whom were the Caledonians, were no great ʃufferers; for, instead of being diʃmayed, they now thought that the Romans were not invincible, and reʃolved to truʃt to their numbers and their courage, rather than their bogs and woods. For this purpoʃe, they placed their wives and children in their most ʃecure faʃtneʃʃes. They ʃtrengthened their confederacy by ʃolemn and religious rites, and brought into the field all who were able to bear arms; being perʃuaded that it was accident and fortune, and not valour and conduct, that effected the deliverance of the ninth legion. It is no wonder if the Romans, ʃituated as they were, and finding their general reʃolved not to turn back, thought it ʃafer to advance than to retreat. They demanded to be led to the extremities of Caledonia; and Agricola, accordingly, next ʃummer led them to the foot of the Grampian hills, where the Caledonians reʃolved to make their laʃt ʃtand. Thoʃe hills divide Old Caledonia into two, from eaʃt to weʃt. Part of them run from Athol down to the ʃouth ʃide of the river Dee to the Eaʃt-ʃea; and another branch terminates at the Weʃtern-ʃea from Athol down to Breadalbin. It is, however, extremely difficult, and would be foreign to our purpoʃe, to trace them more particularly here. We are now ʃuppoʃed to follow Agricola to the eighth year of his expedition; and that he had reinforced his army by numbers of the provinciated Britons, whom he diʃciplined, and whom he could truʃt. He advanced againʃt the Caledonians (his fleet ʃtill keeping pace with his army) and found them drawn up with their firʃt rank at the foot of a riʃing-ground, which was covered with their other troops, while the intermediate ʃpace between them and the Romans was filled by their horʃes and chariots. Tacitus has given us a ʃpeech which he ʃuppoʃes Galgacus to have made on this occaʃion, and which is the moʃt animated of any we meet with in antiquity. Though we are far from thinking it genuine, yet as that great author undoubtedly makes him ʃpeak in the well-known character of a Britiʃh prince of thoʃe days, it would be unpardonable in us entirely to omit it.
He begins with painting the ʃituation of his ʃubjects and that of the Romans, and endeavours to fire the former with the reflection that they are ʃtill un-ʃubdued; that they are the nobleʃt of all the Britons; and that their ʃouthern countrymen placed in them their laʃt hope and reʃource. He then deʃcribes the ambition, the avarice, the pride, cruelty, and haughtineʃs of their enemies. “They are (ʃays he) the only people ever known alike to affect wealth and poverty. They pillage, they murder; under falʃe claims do they pilfer dominion; and when they create ʃolitude they term it peace.” He then proceeds to recount the various horrors that muʃt attend the Caledonians, ʃhould they be ʃubjected to ʃo deteʃtable a race; and ʃhews, that valour was now the only means of their glory and ʃafety. He next repreʃents the Romans as far from being invincible, and the diʃadvantages they were under from their army being compoʃed of different nations, and even Britons. “Every allurement of victory (concludes he) is for us; the Romans have no wives to enflame their courage; they have no parents to reproach their cowardice: moʃt of them have no country, or another country than Rome. Their numbers are inconʃiderable; they are now trembling through their own ignorance, and are caʃting their eyes upon ʃtrange ʃeas and woods; while the gods ʃeem to have delivered them over to us, as it were, pent up and fettered. Let not their vain ʃhew frighten you, nor the glittering of their gold and ʃilver, which are equally uʃeleʃs for defending themʃelves, or attacking others. We ʃhall find friends even in the enemy’s army. The Britons will eʃpouʃe their own cauʃe; the Gauls will reflect upon their departed libertiès; and the other Germans will, as the Uʃipians lately did, abandon them. There is then an end of all our fears. Their forts are empty, their colonies compoʃed of old men, their lands and corporations at variance, being divided betwixt thoʃe who command with injuʃtice, and obey with reluctance. Here you have a general and an army; there tributes and mines, with the other penalties of ʃlavery; and upon this field, you are to determine whether you will chuʃe eternal ʃubmiʃʃion, or immediate revenge; therefore advance to your ranks, and think upon your progenitors, and your poʃterity.”
The ʃpeech of Agricola was that of a Roman general intent upon conqueʃt alone. He encouraged his ʃoldiers by pointing towards the enemy whom they had ʃo often vanquiʃhed, and reminding them, that, by beating them again, all their toils and marches would be crowned with conqueʃt and glory. This ʃpeech had all the effect he could deʃire. He then drew up his army in two lines; the firʃt conʃiʃting of his auxiliary foot, with three thouʃand horʃe diʃpoʃed as wings; the ʃecond formed by his legionary troops, the flower of his army, who he pretended ought not to be expoʃed to the ʃwords of the barbarians without extreme neceʃʃity. In the beginning of the battle the Britons had the advantage by the dexterous management of their bucklers; but Agricola ordered three Batavian and two Tungrian cohorts, armed with ʃhort ʃwords and emboʃʃed bucklers which terminated in a point, to charge the Caledonians, who were armed with long ʃwords, that were uʃeleʃs in a cloʃe encounter. This ʃeems to have been the great ʃecret of the Roman art of war againʃt all the people whom they ʃtiled barbarians. The Caledonians were, in a manner, defenceleʃs when their enemies got within the points of their ʃwords, their little bucklers covering but a very small part of their bodies. The moʃt forward of their cavalry and charioteers fell back upon their infantry, and diʃordered the center; but the Britons endeavouring to out-flank their enemies, Agricola oppoʃed them with his horʃe, and nothing then remained but confuʃion and diʃmay among the Caledonians, who, after loʃing great numbers, retreated to the woods, to which the Romans followed them at firʃt with ʃo little precaution, that the fugitives cut off many of the moʃt forward; till Agricola forming his troops a-new, ordered them to proceed more regularly, by which the Britons were diʃappointed in their hopes of attacking, and cutting them off, in ʃeparate parties. In this battle, which ʃeems to have been fought near Fortingal-camp,3 about ʃixteen miles from Dunkeld, the Caledonians are ʃaid to have loʃt ten thouʃand men; and the Romans, about three hundred and forty. It is ʃurprizing, if we admit as true all that Tacitus ʃays concerning this defeat, that it was not more deciʃive than it proved to be. Agricola, inʃtead of putting a period to his labours, by conquering all Caledonia, was contented to retire to the country of the Horeʃti, which I apprehend to have been Fifeʃhire;4 though it is generally ʃuppoʃed to have been Forfarʃhire. Here he accepted of hoʃtages from part of the Caledonians. He then retreated ʃouthwards, by ʃlow marches; and ordered part of his fleet (for it was neceʃʃary that ʃome ʃhips ʃhould attend him with proviʃions) to ʃail round Britain, which they did, and found it to be an iʃland; for, at the end of their voyage, they arrived at Queenborough, in England, from whence they had ʃet ʃail.
Upon the whole, there is great reaʃon to ʃuʃpect that Tacitus has concealed ʃome part of his hero’s adventures during the campaign; otherwiʃe his conduct is far from anʃwering the character he gives him. A great commander, ʃuch as Galgacus is repreʃented to be, could not be ignorant of the ʃuperiority the Romans had over the Caledonians, however brave the latter might be in their own perʃons. It was therefore natural for him to inʃtruct his troops to take all advantage of their enemies, by ʃurprize or otherwiʃe; but as ʃoon as they found them regularly formed, that they ʃhould retreat, with the greateʃt expedition, to their well-known faʃtneʃʃes. It is not at all improbable, at the ʃame time, that he might hope to check the progreʃs of the Romans, to the north of the Grampians, where the fineʃt counties of his dominions lay, by collecting his army into one body; but it is againʃt common ʃenʃe to believe, that had the defeat been ʃo complete, and ʃo bloody, as Tacitus has repreʃented it, ʃo able a commander and politician as Agricola, would not have perʃevered in his purpoʃe, and completed his propoʃed conqueʃt. Is it to be imagined, that ʃuch a leader, at the head of a Roman army, which conʃiʃted of above twenty thouʃand regulars, and one half of them legionary troops, would have ʃpent ʃeven campaigns, without receiving a ʃingle check, before they reached the foot of the Grampian mountains? or that thirty thouʃand, almoʃt unarmed, barbarians could, for a ʃingle hour, retard the progreʃs of ʃuch a general and ʃuch an army? We may, therefore, venture to ʃay, that ʃome circumstances of thoʃe campaigns have not been tranʃmitted in the narrative given us by the noble hiʃtorian.
This is rendered almoʃt evident by the fate of Agricola’s forts, which he had conʃtructed with ʃo much labour and judgment; for no ʃooner did he return ʃouthwards, than they were abandon’d, and the Caledonians demoliʃh’d them. The ʃervices of Agricola rendered him eminent at Rome; but raiʃing the envy of his maʃter Domitian, he was ʃent out of the world by a doʃe of poiʃon. Agricola was ʃucceeded in his government of Britain either by Caius Trebellius, or Saluʃtius Lucullus, whom the ʃame tyrant put to death. In their lieutenancies, the Caledonians made inroads upon the ʃouthern conqueʃts of the Romans in Britain; but we are left in the dark as to the particulars, for very near thirty-five years. It is reaʃonable, however, to preʃume, from the general accounts that have come to our hands through the Roman hiʃtorians, that Galgacus reʃumed his arms the moment he found Agricola retreating ʃouthwards. The ʃouthern Britons were not only ʃubjected to the Romans, but fond of their chains, becauʃe they ʃtill enjoyed ʃome appearances of their ancient government. The demolition, therefore, of the Roman forts undoubtedly was owing to Galgacus, or his ʃuccessor; for we are told, he penetrated ʃo far into the provinciated part of Britain, that he was joined by a few of the ʃouthern Britains who had not been entirely ʃubdued; that he invited their other countrymen to ʃhake off the Roman yoke; and that he even made war upon them, becauʃe they refuʃed to recover their liberty. All this may be gathered from the dark hints left us by the Roman hiʃtorians themʃelves. Thoʃe of Scotland inform us, that Galgacus, after a triumphant reign, both over the Romans and the enʃlaved Britons, died gloriouʃly in the thirty-fifth year of his reign, anʃwering to the year of Chriʃt 103. We are here to obʃerve, that the Britiʃh word gal, or wal, without all doubt, ʃignifies a ʃtranger; and that Galdus (for ʃo he is called by Tacitus) is only the Roman manner of writing the ʃame word. This affords a ʃtrong preʃumption that Galdus was not, as ʃome writers pretend, a Welch, or a Southern Briton, but a Caledonian; for the former could not have called their own countryman a ʃtranger.
The brave Galgacus, or Galdus, was ʃucceeded by his ʃon Luctacus, who, degenerating from the virtues of his father, was put to death by his ʃubjects, together with the worthleʃs miniʃters of his lewdneʃs and tyranny. We find the Caledonians and Picts, at this time, to have been under ʃeparate governments; for Mogold, the grandʃon of Galgacus by his daughter, having ʃucceeded Luctacus, made a league with the king of the Picts, who is called Unipane. We have the authority of the Roman hiʃtorians, particularly Spartian, for ʃaying, that when this league (if any ʃuch ever exiʃted) is ʃuppoʃed to have been formed, the Roman affairs in Britain were on the brink of ruin, which was prevented only by the indefatigable cares, and, at laʃt, the perʃonal arrival, of the emperor Adrian. Soon after his acceʃʃion he ʃent over to Britain the ʃixth legion, one of the fineʃt in his ʃervice, which took up its ʃtation in the North of England; and the ʃecond legion was quartered at or near Netherby, in Cumberland, which was then the northern frontier of the Roman part of the iʃland: ʃo that the Caledonians muʃt have re-conquered from the Romans all that tract of ground which lay between Agricola’s chain of forts and Carliʃle on the weʃt, and Newcaʃtle, or Tinmouth-bar, on the eaʃt; which Adrian, upon his arrival, thought proper to fix as his northern boundary. They, probably, were aʃʃiʃted in their operations by the Picts, the Galloway-men, and other inhabitants of modern Scotland, who were not Caledonians. It is certain that their progreʃs alarmed Adrian ʃo much, that no prince was ever at greater pains to diʃcipline the army he brought over with him to Britain. All he could do was to force them to the northwards of the frontier I have already deʃcribed, for which he aʃʃumed upon his coins, the title of Reʃtitutor Britanniæ, or the Recoverer of Britain. Arriving at York, he made diʃpoʃitions for purʃuing the plan of Agricola; but dropt it upon the repreʃentations of ʃome of Agricola’s old ʃoldiers, concerning the difficulties attending it. He therefore contented himʃelf with marking out a wall, which is called the Second Prætenture (Agricola’s forts being the firʃt) of Britain, and which ran from the mouth of the river Tine to the Solway Frith, about eighty miles, according to Spartian, quite acroʃs the iʃland. As the deʃcription of this wall belongs more properly to the hiʃtory of England than Scotland, we ʃhall only obʃerve here, that it was built of turf, and intended to ʃhut out the barbarians (for ʃo the Caledonians and other unprovinciated Britons were called) from the ʃouthern parts of the iʃland: a work erected on principles betraying an ignorance equal to barbariʃm itʃelf. The names of Rome and Adrian have ʃilenced the cenʃures of hiʃtorians upon theʃe inʃane conʃtructions of prætentures; but ʃurely, nothing could be more abʃurd than to think that a turf wall, ʃeventy or eighty miles in length, could be manned by their legions, conʃiʃting of, at moʃt, eighteen thouʃand men, which were all the troops the Romans then had in Britain, ʃo as to prevent an enemy from getting over any part of it; and, indeed, Severus, one of Adrian’s ʃucceʃʃors, ʃeems to have been of the ʃame opinion.
Mogold, at firʃt, proved an excellent prince; and the Scotch hiʃtorians tell us, that after his confederacy with the Picts, he gave the Romans a ʃignal defeat, which was the reaʃon of Adrian’s paʃʃing over to Britain. This is by no means improbable; but we are unable to account for the ʃources from which the Scotch draw their information; as the pretended hiʃtories of Veremundus and Cambellus, mentioned by Boece, who is followed by Buchanan, and other writers, are at beʃt doubtful authorities. Notwithʃtanding this, and tho’ we are no advocates for the line of Scotch kings between the firʃt and ʃecond Fergus, yet no writer can ʃafely aʃʃert, that the Scots, in early times, might not have had hiʃtorical records which have been loʃt to their poʃterity. That the Southern Britons were acquainted with the Roman arts and learning, is paʃt doubt; and why might they not tranʃmit to after-ages the tranʃactions of their own times, though their compoʃitions are now loʃt? Neither is it abʃurd to ʃuppoʃe, that ʃome of the Southern Britons mingled with their Northern brethren; and might have their pupils, whom they inʃtructed in reading and writing. We are even inclined to think, that the abʃurdity lies in not admitting ʃuch a ʃuppoʃition, though the records cannot now be produced. But to return to our hiʃtory.
Upon the departure of Adrian out of Britain, he left Julius Severus his proprætor in the iʃland; but according to others, Priʃcus Licinius. Tho’ Severus was one of the greateʃt captains of his age, yet we do not find that either he, or Priʃcus Licinius, carried their arms to the north of Adrian’s prætenture. Mogold, therefore, lived in ʃuch ʃecurity that he degenerated into a tyrant; and, to ʃupply his pleaʃures, made a law, “That the eʃtates of ʃuch as were condemned ʃhould be forfeited to his exchequer, no part thereof being allotted to their wives or children.” Buchanan is ʃevere upon this tyrannical law, as he calls it; but the ʃubʃtance of it is in force in Great Britain, and the beʃt regulated governments in Europe, to this day. It was, however, ʃo diʃpleaʃing to his noblemen, that they conʃpired together and murdered him. Antoninus Pius ʃucceeded Adrian; and his proprætor in Britain was Lollius Urbicus. The Scotch hiʃtorians inform us, that Conar, who ʃucceeded his father Mogold, was one of the conʃpirators againʃt his life; and that the Southern Britons, paʃʃing Adrian’s wall, laid waʃte Conar’s territories; who, uniting with the Picts, drove them ʃouthwards, and fought a bloody battle with them and the Romans, which weakened both ʃides ʃo much, that they agreed to a truce for a year. Before the war expired, the proprætor ʃaw how uʃeless Adrian’s prætenture was; yet we are told, he repaired it. The Scotch hiʃtorians are countenanced by the Roman, in their hiʃtory of this period; for they aʃʃert, that Conar and the Picts were joined by the Brigantes, or the inhabitants of Yorkʃhire; and that they invaded Genunia, or North Wales, where they were defeated by Urbicus, who purʃued his victory, and drove the North Britons to the northward of Agricola’s prætenture. We have already obʃerved, that this conʃiʃted of a chain of forts, which was a ʃtronger frontier than a long ineffectual turf wall. Lollius Urbicus finding many of thoʃe forts ʃtanding, repaired and joined them together by turf walls, guarded by mounds and ditches; ʃome parts of which are ʃtill viʃible. The whole was thus fortified by a ʃeries of ʃtations, or forts, and certainly reached from Carron, upon the Frith of Forth, to Dunglas, upon the Frith of Clyde; running by Falkirk, Camelon, Dick’s-houʃe, Roughcaʃtle-fort, Caʃtlecary’s-fort, Weʃterwood-fort, Crowyhill, Barnhill-fort, Achindavy, Kirkentelloch, Calder, Bemulie, New-Kirkpatrick, Caʃtle-hill, Duntocher, and Old-Kirkpatrick; the whole being ʃomewhat more than thirty-seven Engliʃh miles in length. The foundation was ʃtone, and it had conduits, which at once kept it dry, and ʃupplied the ditch that accompanied it with water. The thickneʃs of the wall, which inclined towards the north, and was, as much as poʃʃible, carried along the brows of eminences, was about four yards. It probably had its exploratory mounts, and the ditch was larger than that which afterwards accompanied the wall of Severus. The main agger, or rampart, lay on the ʃouth ʃide; and on the ʃouth of that ran a large well-paved military way, which never leaves the wall above a hundred and forty yards. We learn from the inʃcriptions on this wall, which are ʃtill extant, that the whole of the legion called Secunda Auguʃta, and the vexillations of the twentieth and the ʃixth legions, were employed in completing this prætenture; which, according to the ʃame inʃcriptions, extended to thirty-nine thouʃand ʃeven hundred and twenty-ʃix paces. It was built while Antoninus Pius was the third time conʃul, anʃwering to the year of Chriʃt 140. Its deʃign was to prevent the communication of the Caledonians and the Picts with the Brigantes; but though much better calculated for that purpoʃe, becauʃe of its ʃmall extent, than that of Adrian, yet it was ineffectual againʃt the Northern Britons. It confined them, indeed, for ʃome time; and the exploits of Urbicus procured for Antoninus, tho’ he never was in Britain, the epithet of Britannicus. Before we take leave of Antoninus Pius, we cannot help expreʃʃing our amazement, that ʃo excellent a writer as Buchanan ʃhould not mention the wall of Urbicus; who, he ʃays, only repaired that of Adrian.
As to Conar, having degenerated into a tyrant, and wanting to oppreʃs his ʃubjects by taxes, they ʃhut him up in priʃon, where he died of grief, in the fourteenth year of his reign. On his death Argad, ʃaid to have been prince of Argyleʃhire, was choʃen regent, who proved, at firʃt, an excellent juʃticiary; but afterwards diʃobliged the ʃubjects by marrying a Pictiʃh princeʃs, and fomenting diʃʃenʃions among the nobles, which raiʃed a ʃuʃpicion that he intended to ʃeize upon the crown. Being accuʃed in a public aʃʃembly of the ʃtates of thoʃe practices, he confeʃʃed his guilt; but by humbling himʃelf before the people, he obtained his pardon, and was continued in the government, which he executed with great virtue and ability; till Ethod, nephew to Mogold, mounted the throne. We have few authorities to direct us in our account of this prince beʃides the Scotch hiʃtorians, excepting the writer of the life of Marcus Antoninus, who was then the Roman emperor; from which it appears, that the Britiʃh wars again breaking out, he ʃent over, as his lieutenant, Calphurnius Agricola. In the mean time, Argad was continued as general and prime miniʃter; but was killed in an expedition againʃt the inhabitants of the Ebudæ iʃlands, who, we are told, were aʃʃiʃted by the Picts and Iriʃh; and were, in their turn, ʃubdued by Ethod in perʃon, who hanged two hundred of their ringleaders. After this, Ethod applied himʃelf to the adminiʃtration of juʃtice all over his kingdom. Boece, in this king’s reign, has taken notice of many particulars which, tho’ far from being improbable, are entirely omitted by Buchanan. According to Boece, Victorinus, a Roman general, or proprætor, invaded the dominions of the Scots and Picts, who were united by their common intereʃt; and Ethod having in vain demanded reparation, a battle was fought, which weakened both parties ʃo much, that they were at peace for a whole year. Then Calphurnius Agricola took the command, who proved a ʃucceʃsful general, and obliged the Northern Britons to keep within the prætenture of Urbicus. Commodus, who ʃucceeded Antoninus in the Roman empire, recalled Calphurnius Agricola; upon which, a fierce war, and more dangerous to the Romans than any of the preceding, broke out in Britain. The Britons penetrated the Roman walls, and put all who reʃiʃted them to the ʃword; but they were ʃoon checked by Marcellus Ulpius, a general of conʃummate abilities, ʃent againʃt them by Commodus. That tyrant hated Ulpius for his virtues; and upon his being recalled, the Roman diʃcipline in Britain ʃuffered a vaʃt relaxation. As to Ethod, there is nothing improbable in what the Scotch writers tell us, that he took all advantages againʃt the Romans, and was at laʃt aʃʃaʃʃinated by a muʃician, who, in all northern courts, were formerly in high eʃteem, and admitted to be of the king’s bed-chamber. Ethod was ʃucceeded by his brother Satrahel, his own ʃons being under age. Satrahel proved a tyrant; endeavoured to eʃtabliʃh the crown in his own family; and was aʃʃaʃʃinated by one of his domeʃtics in the fourth year of his reign, and of Chriʃt 197.
By this time a total alteration took place in the military government of the Romans in Britain. Perennis, firʃt miniʃter to the emperor Commodus, had perʃuaded his maʃter to give the command of his British armies to knights, inʃtead of ʃenators. Hiʃtory is ʃilent as to the motives of this meaʃure; but it probably was in conʃideration of ʃums advanced for the ʃupport of the emperor’s pleaʃures (the knights being the moneyed men of Rome) for which they were to indemnify themʃelves by peculation. It is certain, however, the Roman ʃoldiers in Britain mutiny’d under this innovation; and their diʃcontents roʃe ʃo high, that the army deputed fifteen hundred of their number to carry their complaints, and lay them before Commodus in perʃon at Rome. The emperor met the deputies without the gates, and they accuʃed Perennis of aʃpiring to place his ʃon upon the Imperial throne. Commodus, upon this, ʃeeming to believe them, gave up Perennis, whom he had now begun to hate, to the ʃoldiers, who put him to death. The mutiny ʃtill continued, through the vaʃt relaxation of diʃcipline that prevailed among the troops. The ʃoldiers even talked of electing a new emperor, and named Pertinax to the purple. He was a brave general, and at that time commanded an army againʃt the Parthians. Commodus, however, was ʃo fully convinced of his honour, that he acted in a manner very uncommon with tyrants; for, to ʃecure the fidelity of Pertinax, he ordered him to paʃs over to Britain, and there to take the command of the Roman army. Pertinax obeyed; and, upon his arrival, the troops acclaimed him emperor. He declined the honour with ʃo much reʃolution, that the ʃoldiers, thinking they could now have no ʃafety but in his accepting it, proceeded to force, and Pertinax was wounded in the tumult. Perceiving, after this, that it was in vain for him to think of retrieving military diʃcipline among ʃuch troops, he deʃired to be recalled. Clodius Albinus, a perʃon of great reputation, and deʃcended from the ancient Poʃthumi, was next ʃent by Commodus to command in Britain. The reader is to underʃtand that Scotland, or rather the northern neighbourhood of the prætenture of Urbicus, ʃeems to have been the ʃcene of action at this time in Britain. The ʃouthern parts were not only provinciated, but governed by their native kings, who reigned as viceroys to the Romans, and generally were ʃo firm to their intereʃt, that they had nothing to apprehend from the inhabitants. The Romans were even ʃo indulgent to the provinciated Britons that they tolerated Chriʃtianity in the iʃland, as appears from the hiʃtory and coins of Lucius, a Britiʃh Chriʃtian king. This was long before we have any certainty of the introduction of Chriʃtianity into Scotland, where the inhabitants, or at leaʃt the bulk of them, ʃtill continued brave independent Pagans, and kept the Roman ʃoldiery in perpetual alarms.
Albinus was a man of ʃuch high rank and conʃideration, that he declined the honour of being nominated Cæʃar, or heir-apparent to the empire, by Commodus. This he did, partly upon prudential, and partly upon republican principles, as he thought that the imperial purple would diʃhonour a deʃcendant of the Poʃthumi. He ʃeems to have ʃucceeded in re-ʃettling the military diʃcipline; but upon a falʃe report of the emperor’s death being ʃpread, he harangued the ʃoldiers to aboliʃh the imperial tyranny, and to return to their old form of government under conʃuls. At the ʃame time, he informed them that he had been offered the honour of being nominated Cæʃar, which he had rejected with diʃdain. Though this ʃpeech came to the emperor’s ears, yet his authority was at that time too weak in Britain to reʃent it: and there is ʃome reaʃon to believe, that he continued in a kind of independent command of the Roman army in Britain, till the death of Commodus, who was ʃucceeded by Pertinax. The licentiouʃneʃs of the Roman ʃoldiery had always rendered them at variance with the ʃenate, whoʃe ʃeverity they dreaded, but whoʃe authority was reʃolutely supported by Albinus. The ʃenators had conceived the higheʃt expectation from his abilities and virtues, and even addreʃʃed Pertinax to make him his partner in the empire. Pertinax hated Albinus, and had a little time before publiʃhed a kind of circular letter, ʃent, or intended to be ʃent by Commodus, to all his governors of provinces, accuʃing Albinus of courting the ʃenate from motives of ambition. This publication was intended to ruin Albinus with the troops; but he prevented his fate by perʃuading Didius Julianus to murder Pertinax, and to raiʃe himʃelf to the imperial throne. Julianus depended chiefly on the friendʃhip of Albinus for preʃerving the government of Britain, and was ʃucceeded by Septimius Severus, who found a competitor in the perʃon of Peʃcennius Niger, whom he soon diʃpatched.
Albinus ʃeems, by this time, to have been ʃo much intoxicated with the great credit and reputation he had acquired, as to have defied the imperial power. Severus, who knew his principles, at once hated and dreaded him; but carried his diʃʃimulation ʃo far as to aʃʃociate him with himʃelf in the empire: a dignity, which, though inconʃiʃtent with his former principles, Albinus thought proper to accept. Upon the defeat and death of Peʃcennius Niger, there was no farther room for diʃʃimulation in Severus; and we are told, that he ʃent murderers into Britain to diʃpatch Albinus, who diʃcovering this wicked intention from the confeʃʃion of the aʃʃaʃʃins under torture, immediately declared himʃelf emperor. Underʃtanding that Severus was marching againʃt him, he ʃhook off his indolence, and paʃʃed over to the continent of Europe, at the head of fifty thouʃand men, whom the hiʃtories of that time, indiʃcriminately, call Britons. Being met by Severus with an army of equal numbers, a most terrible battle enʃued near Lyons, in France. The Britons, at firʃt, had the advantage, and Severus ʃaved himʃelf by throwing away his diadem and imperial robes. He, however, rallied his men, and being ʃupported by Lætus, one of his generals, the battle was renewed, when victory declared for Severus; on which Albinus put himʃelf to death.
The king whom the Scotch hiʃtorians have aʃʃigned to their country during theʃe important tranʃactions, is called Donald the first. He was brother to Ethod and Satrahel, and is recorded as a prince of merit, both civil and military. The Roman hiʃtorians at this period, give great countenance to thoʃe of Scotland. It is certain, that during the abʃence of Albinus, the Caledonians had made a very dreadful impreʃʃion upon the Roman empire in Britain; and that they had driven the maʃters of the world even beyond Adrian’s prætenture. Severus, though ʃixty years of age and full of infirmities, ordered Virius Lupus to act as his proprætor in the northern parts of Britain. Lupus found the Romans ʃo diʃorderly and diʃpirited, and their affairs ʃo deʃperate, that he was obliged to inform Severus that nothing but his own preʃence could retrieve them. Donald, or whoever was the prince of the Caledonians at that time, had encouraged the Meatæ (for ʃo Xiphilin calls the Britons who lived between the two prætentures) to take arms againʃt the Romans; ʃo that Severus was apprehenʃive of loʃing all Britain. Upon his arrival there with his army, which was far ʃuperior to any the Romans ever had in the iʃland, he immediately marched northwards towards Adrian’s wall. It was in vain for the Caledonians and their allies, who knew they were no match for his numerous and well-diʃciplined troops, to endeavour, by their deputies, to deprecate his wrath; for he ʃtill proceeded northwards, and rejected all terms of accommodation. He repaired the roads, and removed all obʃtructions to his march; but he found the Caledonians a more dangerous enemy than he had expected. They were with a little ʃhield and ʃpear, and a ʃword depending from their naked bodies, which were painted with the figures of animals. Their diʃpositions were warlike, their persons hardened by fatigue; they could ʃwim the moʃt rapid floods, and undergo the moʃt difficult marches. They followed the maxims of Caʃʃibelan, the brave Britiʃh prince who oppoʃed the Dictator. They attacked the Romans by ʃurprizes, and detached parties; they laid baits of cattle and proviʃions, that they might cut off the ʃtragglers from their main body; but carefully avoided coming to any pitched action. By this method of fighting the Roman ʃoldiers were perpetually engaged in ʃkirmiʃhes, and ʃo much diʃtreʃʃed in their march, that they deʃired each other to put an end to their lives. The reader may form ʃome idea of the original numbers of the Roman army, when he is told, from undoubted authority, that tho’ Severus loʃt fifty thouʃand men in his march, he was ʃtill in a condition to proceed.
The event of this expedition is not very clear. Admitting, with Xiphilin, that he forced the Caledonians and their allies to a peace, yet that was no more than they had offered him when he firʃt landed on the iʃland. Herodian makes no mention of the peace. Xiphilin tells us, indeed, that he was carried in a ʃedan to the extremities of the iʃland; and that he obliged the natives to cede to him ʃome part of their country. The former circumʃtance may be a fact, becauʃe, as we have already ʃeen, the Caledonians never ventured to oppoʃe him in a pitched battle, and undoubtedly the difficulties and diʃtreʃʃes of his army must have encreaʃed as he advanced northwards. It is likewiʃe very poʃʃible, that he recovered to his ʃubjection the country of the Meatæ between the two prætentures, or, rather that he dispoʃʃeʃʃed the enemy of all that they held ʃouth of Adrian’s wall; but it ʃcarcely can admit of a doubt, that he performed nothing worthy his great preparations, and the almoʃt incredible loʃʃes he ʃuʃtained. It is during this march that Buchanan has fixed the building of the celebrated Roman temple, which, he ʃuppoʃes, was dedicated to the god Terminus, on the banks of the river Carron. That it was a Roman work, there is no reaʃon to doubt; but ʃome antiquaries, with great probability, think it was erected by Agricola; and ʃome believe it to have been a mauʃoleum, ʃuch as that erected to the memory of Cæcilia Metella, at Rome. This noble monument of antiquity was demoliʃhed in 1742 by a more than Gothic knight, in order to repair a mill-dam with its ʃtones.
Upon the return of Severus ʃouthward, he ʃaw the neceʃʃity of raiʃing a ʃtronger barrier againʃt the invaʃions of the Caledonians than the prætentures either of Antoninus or Adrian; and he accordingly built a wall which has the ʃame direction with that of Adrian, but extended farther at each end. The deʃcription of this wall ʃhews that it was intended by the founder as a regular military fortification: but the reader, in the notes, will find a confutation of Buchanan’s opinion that it was erected between the firths of Forth and Clyde.5 The mention of this wall makes it likewiʃe probable, that all the ceʃʃions of territory made by the Caledonians and the Meatæ, conʃiʃted of lands to the ʃouth of Adrian’s wall; and that he meant it as the barrier of his empire in Britain, ʃeems to be plain, from his giving to his officers and ʃoldiers the Meatian lands in the neighbourhood, to be held by a kind of military tenure, that they might protect their own poʃʃeʃʃions. We ʃhall not however preʃume to affirm, that ʃome of thoʃe lands did not lie in the country of the Meatæ, between the prætentures. From the words of Spartian, a Roman hiʃtorian, we are inclined to think that Severus erected this wall, while he was at peace with the Caledonians.
It is certain, that, notwithʃtanding the vigour of his mind ʃtill ʃubʃiʃted, he was now diʃabled by age and infirmities; and that he committed the carrying on the wall, and his other great works, to his worthleʃs ʃon Antoninus, afterwards better known by the name of the emperor Caracalla, who had more than once attempted his life: and for the ʃame reaʃon he was obliged to relinquiʃh to him the command of the army.
The brutality of Antoninus was ʃuch, that the Caledonians and the Meatæ again took arms, and the old emperor was once more called to the field. Being carried in a ʃedan to the camp, he was ʃo exaʃperated with this renewal of hoʃtilities, that he gave directions to his ʃoldiers from a verʃe of Homer, “That they ʃhould not ʃpare even the child in the mother’s belly.” Notwithʃtanding this, we are intirely ignorant of the conʃequence; whether the emperor continued in the field, or left the proʃecution of his revenge to one of his ʃons. It is even uncertain whether any hoʃtilities followed, and whether the emperor did not chuʃe to conclude a peace; for he died ʃoon after, and boaʃted upon his death-bed, that he had left Britain in tranquility. His greateʃt ambition was to deʃerve, and obtain, the name of Britannicus, which both he and his ʃon Geta aʃʃumed; but the father took the additional title of Major. Before we cloʃe the hiʃtory of Severus we muʃt mention the interview between the empreʃs Julia and the wife of a Caledonian chief Argentocoxus. The Britiʃh lady was among her other countrywomen of quality, who, after the concluʃion of the peace, paid a viʃit to the Roman camp, where ʃhe was entertained by the empreʃs for ʃome time; till growing familiar, the latter upbraided the Britiʃh ladies, becauʃe, tho’ married, they abandoned themʃelves to the embraces of ʃeveral men. “It is true (replied the ʃprightly Caledonian) we are proud to pleaʃe men of merit: and we commit avowedly with the braveʃt of our countrymen what the Roman ladies act in corners with the meaneʃt and moʃt ʃcandalous of theirs.”
We have this ʃtory from Xiphilin, who takes it from Dio, and therefore we can ʃcarcely queʃtion its credibility; but it leads to ʃome reflections. If the two ladies converʃed together without an interpreter, it is highly probable that the Caledonian underʃtood the Latin language, unleʃs we are to suppoʃe, that the Roman underʃtood the Gaelic or Caledonian. In either caʃe, we muʃt conclude that there was a very conʃiderable intercourʃe between the two people. Our next obʃervation is, that the word Argentocoxus, or Silver-hip, is evidently of Roman coinage; and very poʃʃibly alludes to a ʃilver ʃword-belt worn by the Caledonian. Had Xiphilin or Dio known the Caledonian name of the chief, it might have thrown ʃome light on the hiʃtory of Scotland at this period; and it is ʃurprizing, that the manufacturers of the hiʃtory of the firʃt forty kings, who certainly were well acquainted with this anecdote (if the whole of the work was a forgery) did not avail themʃelves of it, to coin a name ʃomewliat ʃimilar to the Roman term. The third, and chief obʃervation we ʃhall make, is upon the indecency and proʃtitution of the Caledonian ladies. We cannot, however, ʃee with what conʃiʃtency a princeʃs of a people whoʃe patriots and philoʃophers uʃed to lend their wives to each other, and then take them back, could upbraid a Britiʃh lady with the want of delicacy in her amours. If we examine the cuʃtoms of other nations who were far from being barbarous, the ancient Egyptians, for inʃtance, the Athenians, and the Spartans, we ʃhall find, in matters of concubinage, uʃages as groʃs as that with which our Caledonian is reproached. The truth is,6 there was a community of wives among the ancient Britons, but of a very ʃingular kind; for it was confined to ʃmall circles of friends and acquaintances. Ten or twelve men, perhaps, eʃpouʃed each of them a virgin, and after cohabitation, every one of their wives was at his friend’s ʃervice; but the iʃʃue was always regarded as belonging to the man who originally married the mother. That this cuʃtom was barbarous, we ʃhall not diʃpute; but the Britons, perhaps, thought (as Sir William Temple ʃays) “that by ʃuch a cuʃtom they avoided the common miʃchiefs of jealouʃy; the injuries of adultery; the confinement of ʃingle marriages; the luxury and expence of many wives or concubines; and the partiality of parents in the education of all their own children: all which are conʃiderations that have fallen under the care of many law-givers.”
Though Donald the firʃt, the prince I now treat of, is ʃuppoʃed to have been the firʃt Chriʃtian king of Scotland, or rather Caledonia, yet it ʃcarcely admits of a doubt that Chriʃtianity, before his time, had penetrated into that country. Tertullian, who wrote about the year 209, plainly aʃʃerts, that Chriʃtianity had ʃubdued thoʃe places in Britain that were inacceʃʃible to the Roman arms. We ʃhall not however pretend that Chriʃtianity was then the national religion of the Caledonians. From the ʃtory we have juʃt now related we may infer the contrary; we muʃt notwithʃtanding obʃerve, that many people who actually embraced Chriʃtianity both in Europe and Aʃia, for ʃome centuries after its introduction, retained many of their Pagan uʃages, eʃpecially with regard to marriage and concubinage. One of the compliments paid by Martial to Claudia Ruffina, a Britiʃh lady and a Chriʃtian, was his wiʃhing ʃhe might be always happy in one huʃband.7 As to Donald himʃelf, we know little more of him than that he died in peace, according to the old hiʃtorians, about the year 216.
He was ʃucceeded by Ethod, ʃecond ʃon of Ethod the firʃt, who being a prince of narrow abilities, at the deʃire of his ʃubjects, for the better diʃtribution of juʃtice, conʃtituted lieutenants through the different provinces of his dominions. We know little of the Roman affairs in Britain during the ʃuppoʃed reign of this prince, which is ʃaid to have been tranquil, and to have laʃted for twenty-one years, when he was killed as he was endeavouring to appeaʃe a tumult among his ʃubjects.
The ʃubʃequent account given by the Scottish writers is conʃiʃtent with the Roman hiʃtorians. Severus was ʃucceeded by Caracalla and Geta, who, after ratifying the peace with the Caledonians, returned to Rome about the year 211. The Roman hiʃtorians are ʃilent as to the affairs of Britain till the year 259. Some inʃcriptions, however, dug up near the prætentures have preʃerved the names of certain of their prefects who ʃucceeded Virius Lupus. Mæcilius Fuʃcus, about the year 238, repaired the barracks and arʃenals, which had fallen into decay. Cneius Lucilianus, about the year 240, built a bath, with an exchange or portico; and Nonius Philippus was the Roman proprætor or legate in Britain, about two years after. The Hiʃtory of the Southern Parts of Britain, written by the famous Geoffrey of Monmouth, has ʃupplied this chaʃm in hiʃtory with the imaginary exploits of one Fulgentius, who, he ʃays, was conful of the Albanian Britons, and deʃcended from one of their ancient kings. Fordun has adopted Geoffrey’s fables, concerning this Fulgentius, and makes Severus drive him into Scotland, meaning we ʃuppoʃe, Scythia; from whence he returned by ʃea with an army of Scots and Picts, beʃieged York, and killed Severus. Dr. Stillingfleet, an eminent Engliʃh antiquary, has reproached our old hiʃtorian Fordun for having been miʃled in following this fable of Geoffrey. The right reverend author, however, ought to have mentioned, that though Fordun does indeed lay before his readers Geoffrey’s narrative, yet he gives them at the ʃame time, that of the venerable Bede, which is agreeable to the truth of hiʃtory; and that when Fordun mentions the emperor Baʃʃianus’ being killed by Carauʃius, which is another of Geoffrey’s abominable fictions, he does it with a mark of reprobation, and alleges very ʃound reaʃons for his adhering to the Roman hiʃtorian. Hector Boece is more inexcuʃable in building upon Geoffrey’s foundation.
Upon the whole, we think it indiʃputable, that during this long interval after the death of Severus, the Romans remained to the ʃouth of Adrian’s prætenture; though very poʃʃibly they might have a few exploratory towers on its north. We may, therefore, very fairly preʃume that the Caledonians, and their allies the Meatæ, had frequent intercourʃes with their Roman neighbours. As to the ʃtory of Fulgentius, though the whole of it is evidently forged by Geoffrey; yet there is ʃufficient reaʃon for believing that the war between the Romans on the one part, under Severus, and the Caledonians, Meatæ, and Picts, on the other, might be full of very intereʃting events and adventures, though they are suppreʃʃed by the Roman hiʃtorians, perhaps for the honour of their own country.
Under Publius Licinius Gallienus, Porphyry, the Roman philoʃopher, termed Britain a land fruitful in tyrants; and we are told that no few er than thirty at one time claimed the imperial purple. The names of ʃome of them upon their coins, which have been found in the ʃouthern parts of Britain; but we know not whether any laid claim to Caledonia. In 276 Proculus and Bonoʃus claimed Britain, Spain, and Gaul; but they were defeated by the emperor Probus: neither does it appear that the Caledonians had any concern in theʃe diʃputes.
Ethod the ʃecond was ʃucceeded by his ʃon Athirco; who, proving a tyrant, was defeated and purʃued by his ʃubjects; and, fearing to fall into their hands, put himʃelf to death. Nathalocus, whoʃe daughters Athirco is ʃaid to deflowered, headed this inʃurrection, and uʃurped the throne; but Dorus, Athirco’s brother, fled with his three nephews, Findoc, Carantius, and Donald, to the court of the king of the Picts. Notwithʃtanding the air of romance which infects the Scotch hiʃtory at this period, we have no reaʃon to doubt that ʃuch a Pictiʃh king then exiʃted; as it is probable that the Picts, who were the deʃcendants of the Southern Britons, and the Caledonians, might live under ʃeparate governments; and becauʃe we know for a certainty, that the Pictiʃh kingdom flouriʃhed many years after this date. Nathalocus having ʃent aʃʃaʃʃins to diʃpatch Dorus and his nephews, they killed a Pict, by miʃtake, for Dorus. Nathalocus having miʃʃed his aim, and perceiving that Dorus had a ʃtrong party in his kingdom, ordered all the noblemen whom he thought to be in the royal intereʃt, to be ʃtrangled. This cruelty produced an inʃurrection; and the uʃurper, according to the manner of the times, ʃent to Colmkiln, the famous Jona of the ancients, to conʃult a woman who was reputed to be a weird ʃiʃter, about his fate. She told him that the king was to be ʃhort-lived; but that he would fall by the hand not of an enemy, but a domeʃtic. The meʃʃenger demanding the name of the aʃʃaʃʃin, “Thou art the man,” replied the weird ʃiʃter. Her declaration determined him to the act; which, upon his return, he perpetrated for his own ʃafety. The name of this domeʃtic is ʃaid to have been Murray, and the ʃtory is far more probable than many others of the ʃame kind we meet with in later ages, and among the most polite people.
Findoc, Athrico’s eldest ʃon, received intelligence of the tyrant’s fate from Murray himʃelf, and was immediately proclaimed king. He poʃʃeʃʃed all the perfections of body and mind; and ʃubdued the iʃlanders, who, under Donald their chieftain, attempted to revenge the death of Nathalocus. Another Donald, ʃon of the former, who was drowned, being driven into Ireland, received, afterwards, Findoc’s pardon; and returning home, he ʃent two ruffians, who gained the ear of Carantius the king’s brother, and his permiʃʃion to aʃʃaʃʃinate the king, which they acordingly did while he was hunting: but they were overtaken and put to death, and Carantius took refuge among the Romans. We think it neceʃʃary to inform our readers, that all theʃe facts are omitted by the honeʃt hiʃtorian Fordun, though related by Boece and Buchanan.
Donald, the youngeʃt of Athirco’s ʃons, being raiʃed to the throne, was, in the firʃt year of his reign, defeated and killed by Donald of the Iʃles; who, thereupon, uʃurped the crown, but was defeated and killed by Crathilinth, the ʃon of Findoc. This prince, after his acceʃʃion, proved a ʃtrict juʃticiary, and renewed his family-leagues with the Picts. A trifling accident at a hunting-match is, however, ʃaid to have coʃt the lives of three thouʃand of his own ʃubjects, and two thouʃand of the Picts: upon which hoʃtilities commenced between the two nations. About this time, the famous Carauʃius appeared. It muʃt be acknowledged, to the reproach of literature, that notwithʃtanding all the pains taken by Dr. Stukeley, and other antiquaries, to clear up the hiʃtory of this British emperor (for ʃuch he certainly was) it ʃtill remains obʃcure; and we are likewiʃe to obʃerve, that about the time we now treat of, the name of the Caledonians began to wear out among the Romans, who ʃubstituted that of Picts in its room. We must, notwithʃtanding, be of opinion, that they lived under diʃtinct governments, and in this we are countenanced by the earlieʃt records. The uncertainty of the hiʃtory of Carauʃius proved too great a temptation for Boece to reʃiʃt, and accordingly he makes him the ʃame perʃon with the exiled Caledonian prince Carantius. It is certain that Carauʃius, who is ʃaid to have been by birth a Menapian, had about this time begun to make a great figure at ʃea. The emperor Probus had carried over to Britain, large colonies of Vandals and Burgundians, to whom he had aʃʃigned land there. The Roman prefect, whom ʃome call Lælianus, and ʃome Saturninus, at this time, aʃʃumed the imperial purple; but was ʃoon cruʃhed by Victorinus, the imperial general; and Britain experienced a succeʃʃion of tyrants, till Diocleʃian and Maximian were raiʃed to the empire. About the time of their acceʃʃion, the coaʃts of Gaul and Britain were ʃwarming with Saxon, or German, free-booters; and the charge of ʃuppreʃʃing them was committed to Carauʃius, who winked at their frequent deʃcents, that he might take their ʃhips when returning home and full of booty, which he entirely appropriated to his own uʃe. His practices, in ʃhort, became ʃo glaring, that he was ʃentenced to be put to death. To avoid this fate, he aʃʃumed the imperial purple, and carried his fleet to Britain, where the Roman army ʃubmitted to his authority. Thus far hiʃtory is clear as to Carauʃius; nor do we ʃee any abʃurdity in ʃuppoʃing, that after his landing, he entered into a treaty with the Picts and Caledonians, eʃpecially as Maximian was then at ʃea with a fleet and army to ʃuppreʃʃ him; but there can be no foundation for ʃaying with ʃome writers, that he aʃʃigned Scotland to the Picts for the aʃʃiʃtance they gave him.
Maximian, perceiving that Carauʃius was too ʃtrong to be ʃubdued, agreed to a treaty which left him in full poʃʃeʃʃion of the ʃovereignty of the provinciated Britain, as appears by many undoubted medals, and other monuments, in the cabinets of the curious, where Carauʃius is repreʃented as Auguʃtus or emperor. He reigned as ʃuch for ʃeven years; and was likewiʃe in poʃʃeʃʃion of Geʃʃoriacum, now called Boulogne, by which he had the command both of the Armoric and the Britiʃh coaʃts. He is ʃaid to have repaired, or rather rebuilt, the wall of Antoninus, or Urbicus, between the friths of Forth and Clyde, in the year 289; and we are told, that he had an interview with Crathilinth (whom the Scotch hiʃtorians call his nephew) near the river Carron. There is reaʃon for believing that he repaired part of the wall of Severus, though, in reality, we know little of his true hiʃtory beʃides what is to be found on coins and medals; but theʃe prove him to have been one of the moʃt illuʃtrious perʃonages of that age. It is an undoubted fact, that Conʃtantius, Cæʃar to Maximian, was the only general of the age, thought to be a match for Carauʃius; and that the fleet of the latter was composed of ʃailors from all nations, who, according to the Roman hiʃtorians, were paid by the plunder of the neighbouring countries.
This drew on a war between Carauʃius and the Roman empire; and Conʃtantius beʃieged Geʃʃoriacum, which was very ʃtrongly fortified. The death of the emperor is one of the most obʃcure events in hiʃtory. It is ʃaid, that when Conʃtantius laid ʃiege to Geʃʃoriacum, or Boulogne, Carauʃius was murdered by Alectus, one of his general officers, who ʃucceeded him in the empire of Britain, and reigned three years. If this account can be depended upon, we may preʃume that Alectus was ʃuborned to the aʃʃaʃʃination by the Romans, who were at that time far from being delicate in ʃuch caʃes. The hiʃtory of Alectus is equally obʃcure and uncertain with that of Carauʃius, and, as related by the Roman hiʃtorians, inconʃiʃtent with their own chronology. Conʃtantius undoubtedly landed in Britain, and burnt his ʃhips, to take from his ʃoldiers all hopes of return without victory. Alectus had by this time become unpopular among the Britons; his fleet, after the landing of the Romans, was of no farther ʃervice to him for preventing an invaʃion; and he was defeated and killed by Aʃclepiodotus, a general officer under Conʃtantius. The reʃt of the hiʃtory of Conʃtantius at that time is foreign to this work.
Upon the diviʃion of the empire between the two Cæʃars, after the reʃignations of Diocleʃian and Maximian, Britain fell to the lot of Conʃtantius. It is highly probable that Carauʃius was ʃo far from being a free-booter as he is repreʃented by the Roman hiʃtorians, that he introduced ʃeveral arts among the Britons, by means of the Franks, and other foreigners, whom he took into his pay; becauʃe Conʃtantius, at the time of his acceʃʃion, found Britain ʃo much improved, that he made it the ʃeat of empire, and is said to have taken a Britiʃh lady, the famous Helena, to be the partner of his bed. What the ʃituation of the Caledonians and Picts was during the reigns of Carauʃius and Alectus, is uncertain; but there is great reaʃon to believe, that they had extended themʃelves to the ʃouthward of Adrian’s prætenture. It is more than probable, that Conʃtantius undertook an expedition againʃt them; but we are ignorant of its particulars, except that he reinforced the garriʃons upon the frontiers, and then eʃtabliʃhed a general peace. Thus we may preʃume, that the Caledonians and Picts were in poʃʃeʃʃion of all the country of the Meatæ; unleʃs (which is highly improbable) the garriʃons mentioned by Euʃebius were thoʃe belonging to the prætenture of Urbicus. The peace between him and the Caledonians was ʃomewhat diʃturbed upon the arrival of his ʃon Conʃtantine at York, which happened but a ʃhort time before the death of Conʃtantius. The firʃt care of Conʃtantine, after his acceʃʃion to his father’s empire, was to repel the inroads of the Caledonians; but, contrary to the maxims of the preceding emperors (his father in particular) he withdrew the Roman garriʃons from the frontiers. We have already given our opinion, which is confirmed by events, that the Roman prætentures were huge magnificent erections, but never proved of any effectual ʃervice againʃt the Caledonians and Picts: it is however probable, that Conʃtantine ʃtill left one or two garriʃons upon the frontiers. He certainly added to the three diviʃions of Southern Britain, that of the Maxima Cæʃarienʃis. According to ʃome antiquaries, this diviʃion included, beʃides the northern counties of England, the whole country of the Meatæ; and if ʃo, the prætenture of Antoninus, or Urbicus, muʃt have been the boundary of the Roman empire in Britain, towards the north, at the time of Conʃtantine’s death: but we know of no medals, inʃcriptions, or ʃtones, relating to Conʃtantine, which confirm this conjecture: though we are far from affirming that ʃuch may not have been diʃcovered. During thoʃe tranʃactions Crathilinth died, after a reign of twenty-four years, about the year 313.
The hiʃtory of Scotland, at this period, is again corroborated by the Roman and foreign writers. We have no reaʃon to doubt, that, during Diocleʃian’s perʃecution, great numbers of Chriʃtians took refuge among the Caledonians and Picts; and that, before that time, the Scots were actually ʃettled in Britain. Hiʃtorians and antiquaries have given themʃelves great trouble concerning the origin of the name of Scots, and the country from whence they came. I think the enquiry is not deʃerving the pages it has employed, and that the diʃpute has hitherto been miʃ-ʃtated. I have no manner of difficulty in admitting with biʃhop Stillingfleet, and the moʃt rational antiquaries, that the word Scot is no other than the word Scyt, or Scythian, the native country of many people. I am, however, of opinion that they quitted (but at what period, we are entirely ignorant) their original ʃeats in ʃeveral bands, and at ʃeveral times; that they marched, or ʃailed, in ʃeparate bodies, into various countries (for that the northern nations had then a rude navigation is unqueʃtionable); that wherever they went they were called Scots or Scyts; that their chief ʃettlements were in Spain and Ireland; and that conʃiderable bodies of them landed on the weʃtern coaʃts of Scotland: but I ʃee no reaʃon for believing, that they were ʃent over thither from Ireland. It is, on the contrary, highly probable that the Iriʃh coaʃts, immediately oppoʃite to Scotland, were peopled from thence by the Guydhels, or whoever were the old inhabitants of thoʃe parts, for this plain and natural reaʃon, becauʃe the country of Ireland iʃ, there, a far more inviting ʃoil, than the oppoʃite coaʃts of Scotland.8 Add to this, that Carrickfergus in Ireland, may be eaʃily ʃeen from Scotland; that a ʃmall boat can row over to it in three or four hours; and conʃequently, that it has been always acceʃʃible to the rudeʃt navigation. Such, abʃtracted from the wild dreams of the Scotch writers concerning Gathælus and Scota, a daughter of Pharaoh, is the moʃt probable account of the origin of the Scots, and the beʃt adapted to remove the difficulties which occur among antiquaries and old hiʃtorians. As to arguments drawn from a ʃimilarity of languages, they prove nothing more than that the language of all thoʃe ancient nations was the ʃame, that is, Celtic; and that their words, to this day, retain an affinity; but of this matter we have already treated.
Upon the whole, I am warranted in ʃuppoʃing that the country now called Scotland, at the time I treat of, was inhabited by different nations; that the Caledonians were the aboriginal natives; that the Guydhelians were the deʃcendants of the old Britons, whom the Belgic Britons forced northwards before the deʃcent of Julius Cæʃar upon the iʃland; that the Picts, who lived in Scotland, were the deʃcendants of thoʃe Belgic Britons; that the Scots were adventurers, who originally came from the northern countries; and that more polite nations termed them Scythians, becauʃe of their uncouth, barbarous appearance; from whence the Britons firʃt named them Skuits, and the Romans, from them, called them Scoti. That a colony of thoʃe Skuits, or Scots, might be brought under Miletius, or ʃome other leader, from Spain to Ireland, where they ʃettled, from whence Ireland formerly had the name of Scotia, by no means claʃhes with my account. The truth is, antiquaries have bewildered themʃelves in their conjectures and diʃputes, by not attending to the univerʃality of the Celtic language.
Though we have ʃuppoʃed the Scots, at this time, to have inhabited the weʃtern parts of Scotland, yet I am far from thinking, that parties of them might not have landed on other parts of the coaʃts; and it ʃeems to be more than probable, that about the year 330, they might have found means to collect themʃelves into one body, ʃo as to make head againʃt the Romans. I cannot even perceive any abʃurdity in thinking, that many of them, before their arrival in Scotland, might have ʃerved as mercenaries in the frequent wars which then deʃolated the empire. It is well known, the Roman armies, at that time, were compoʃed of diʃciplined provincials and barbarians; and that no ʃet of adventurers could ever be without employment in the field. The ʃuperiority which the Scots ʃoon acquired, and afterwards maintained, over the Picts and Caledonians, though, probably, greatly inferior in numbers to both, render this opinion the more probable.
The ʃucceʃʃor aʃʃigned to Crathilinth by the Scotch writers is Fincormach, who is repreʃented as performing many glorious exploits againʃt the Romans, and as a prince of great Chriʃtian piety. Conʃtantine died in the year 337; and we know little or nothing from the Roman hiʃtorians of the affairs of Britain for ʃome years after his death. According to the Scotch and British hiʃtorians, Trahern, brother to the empreʃs Helena, was left by Conʃtantine his lieutenant in Britain; and defeated Octavius, whom the South Britons had choʃen for their king. Octavius, after his defeat, fled to Fincormach, from whom Trahern demanded him. Fincormach had ʃpirit enough, not only to refuʃe to give Octavius up, but to raiʃe an army to reʃtore him to his throne; which he actually did, after defeating Trahern, and forcing him to fly to Gaul. We are told that Octavius in return for Fincormach’s ʃervices, ceded to him the counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland; by which, perhaps, we are to underʃtand the country of the Meatæ. Octavius ʃoon repented of his generoʃity; but as he was preparing to diʃpoʃʃeʃs Fincormach of his new acquiʃition, Trahern returned at the head of twenty thouʃand men, and defeated Octavius, who fled to Norway. Upon the death of Trahern, he mounted his throne a third time, and ever after lived upon amicable terms with the Scots and the Picts; the name of the Caledonians being now almoʃt diʃuʃed. Fincormach is ʃaid to have died in 358. Whatever truth may be in the above relation, it is certain, that under the emperor Conʃtans, the nations to the north of the Roman prætentures made ʃo conʃiderable an impreʃʃion upon South Britain, that he was obliged to go over in the middle of winter to ʃuppreʃs them. He was attended by his brother Conʃtantius. Whether they were ʃucceʃsful, does not appear, which gives ʃome countenance to the Scotch accounts of this period. They are, indeed, omitted by Buchanan, which is the more extraordinary, as they are admitted by Fordun.
Three couʃin-germans, begotten by three brothers of Crathilinth, whoʃe names were Romach, Fethelmach, and Angus, or Æneas, diʃputed for the crown after the death of Fincormach; though he left two minor ʃons, Ethod and Eugene, who were carried to the Iʃle of Man, then ʃubject to the crown of Scotland. Romach being deʃcended from the elder brother, was favoured by the Picts, mounted the throne, and forced the other two competitors to leave the kingdom: but proving a tyrant, his nobles put him to death, and, by way of deriʃion, carried his head about upon a pole. His death was reʃented by Nectan, king of the Picts, his kinʃman, who being defeated by Aneas, this laʃt ʃucceeded Romach. Nectan, however, again took the field, and, after a bloody battle, Æneas being defeated and killed, was ʃucceeded by Fethelmach, the third competitor above-mentioned, who ravaged the counties of Fife and Angus, part of the Pictiʃh dominions, and killed their king; but was himself afterwards ʃtabbed by his harper, who had been ʃuborned for that purpoʃe by the Picts. Fethelmach was ʃucceeded by Eugene the firʃt ʃon of Fincormach. Under him, the Roman and Pictiʃh forces were united againʃt the Caledonians and Scots. The name of the Pictiʃh king was Herguʃt, and that of the Roman præfect Maximus. The Roman and Pictiʃh forces joined againʃt Eugene, whom they defeated in the county of Galloway; but Maximus, unable to improve his victory, by being obliged to return to the ʃouth, where an inʃurrection had happened, ʃeparated from the Picts, who were thereupon defeated by the Scots. Next year, Maximus, whoʃe ʃecret intention was to root out both the Scots and Picts, marched againʃt the former, on pretence of revenging the wrongs done by them to the latter. The Scots, ʃeeing their extermination was intended, brought into the field, not only the men capable of bearing arms, but their women likewiʃe. In an engagement which enʃued, they would have beaten the Picts and Britons, had not the latter been ʃupported by the diʃciplined Romans; but Eugene being killed, with the greateʃt part of his nobility, the Scots were completely defeated, the ʃurvivors reduced to a ʃtate of ʃlavery; and finally expelled the country. Some of them took refuge in the Ebudæ iʃlands, and others in Scandinavia and Ireland. From thence they made frequent deʃcents upon Scotland, with good, bad, and indifferent ʃucceʃs.
Maximus afterwards aʃʃumed the imperial dignity; but was killed in Italy. The Britons choʃe Conʃtantine to ʃucceed him; and upon his death Gratian, who being likewiʃe killed, Victorinus was ʃent as proprætor from Rome, to govern Britain. The Picts had hitherto appeared as allies of the Romans; but Victorinus commanded them to adopt the Roman laws, and to chuʃe no king who was not ʃent them from Rome. The Picts looking upon thoʃe injunctions as tending to a ʃtate of ʃlavery, repented of their having contributed to the expulʃion of the Scots, who had made ʃeveral unʃucceʃsful attempts to reʃettle themʃelves.
Durʃtus son of Herguʃt the Pictiʃh king, rebelled againʃt the Romans, but was defeated and ʃent prisoner to Rome. The royal family of Scotland at that time reʃided in Denmark. The heads of it were Ethod, and his ʃon Erth: both of them died in exile; but the latter married a Daniʃh princeʃs, by whom he had a ʃon, Fergus, who followed the fortunes of Alaric the famous Goth, and was preʃent at the ʃack of the city of Rome in the year 410, by the northern barbarians. Here the firʃt diviʃion of our hiʃtory of Scotland ends; but we muʃt preʃerve our propoʃed method, by accompanying it with what we learn from the Romans.
Magnentius was, by the Roman Britons, declared emperor in oppoʃition to Conʃtantius, the ʃurviving ʃon of Conʃtantine the Great. The father of Magnentius was a Briton, and his claim was favoured by Gratianus Funarius, the imperial general upon the iʃland; but, after a diʃpute of three years, Magnentius was ʃo much reduced that he killed himʃelf at Lyons in France. Conʃtantius becoming thereby the ʃole poʃʃeʃʃor of the empire, ʃent over one Paul, a Spaniʃh notary, as an inquiʃitor, to confiʃcate the eʃtates of ʃuch Britons who had joined Magnentius. Paul proceeding with great ʃeverity in the exerciʃe of this infamous office, was oppoʃed by one Martin, a generous Roman, who attempted to kill him; but miʃʃing his blow, he plunged his ʃword into his own boʃom. The cruelties and rapaciouʃneʃs of Paul had then no check; however, in the time of Julian the Apoʃtate, he met with a deʃerved fate, by being burnt alive. All this time the Northern Britons were continuing their ravages to the ʃouth of the Roman prætentures. Julian ʃent over Lupicinus, an abandoned monʃter of avarice and cruelty, to reʃtrain them; but, though he landed with a large army compoʃed of different nations, he performed nothing memorable. Alypius is the next Roman governor we meet with in Britain; and when Valentinian came to the imperial throne, the Roman intereʃt in Britain was almoʃt extinguiʃhed by the irruptions of the northern nations. They defeated and killed Nectoridus, count of the ʃea-coaʃt, one of the greateʃt men under the Roman government, and Bulehobaudes, another general of great diʃtinction. Valentinian ʃent Severus to repel the invaders, and he, being ʃoon recalled, was ʃucceeded by Jovinus. This laʃt, when he arrived, found the Roman affairs ʃo deʃperate that he ʃollicited a ʃupply from the imperial court; and Theodoʃius, eʃteemed the beʃt general of the age, was ʃent with a large army from the continent againʃt the Picts, who appear to have been, at this time, the leading people in the north of Britain. They were divided into two nations, the Dicaledonii and the Vecturiones, who were no other than the ʃouthern and the northern inhabitants. The former had been converted to Chriʃtianity by St. Ninian, a Briton, and were ʃeparated from the latter by the Grampian mountains. For this information we are indebted to the unexceptionable authorities of Ammianus Marcellinus and the venerable Bede. Mention is likewiʃe made of the Attacotti, a moʃt warlike race, who we believe, were a tribe of Scythians or Scots, inhabiting Caithneʃs and the northern counties; and even the Scots are mentioned as making war at this time upon the Romans.
When Theodoʃius landed, he found the Roman empire in Britain in a manner cooped up in the ʃouthern parts; the Picts and the Scots having penetrated almoʃt as far as the Britannia Prima, which lay to the ʃouth of London. The northern invaders being chiefly intent upon plunder, and, as we may ʃuppoʃe, poorly diʃciplined, it was no difficult matter for ʃuch a general as Theodoʃius, at the head of a numerous army, to repel them. He formed his troops into three diviʃions; and, having ʃtript the invaders of their plunder, reʃtored it to the original proprietors. He then returned to London, to conʃult in what manner the Roman intereʃt could be revived and preʃerved. This he found a far more difficult conʃideration than he had foreʃeen. The Caledonians and Picts had inʃpired their ʃouthern brethren with a ʃpirit of revolt; and the accounts which the Roman general received of their courage and fierceneʃs, gave him every thing to apprehend, if he ʃhould receive the leaʃt check in the field. It was, however, neceʃʃary for him to drive the northern invaders beyond the prætentures; accordingly Theodoʃius, committing the charge of the civil affairs to a Roman lawyer, and the military to one Dulcitius, took the field, and with great difficulty forced his enemies to the north of Adrian’s wall; and, at laʃt, compelled them to agree to a peace. He then applied himʃelf to the ʃtrengthening of the frontiers, which he found in a moʃt miʃerable ʃituation. The Roman hiʃtorian is laviʃh in his praiʃes of the care Theodosius took to repeople the cities, and recruit the garriʃons, that lay towards the North. He obʃerved that the prætentures were an inʃignificant barrier againʃt the northern nations; and he, therefore, erected into a ʃeparate province (which, from the name of the emperor Valens, was called Valentia) all the lands lying between the prætentures of Adrian and Urbicus, and which is known by the name of the country of the Meatæ. This meaʃure was founded on ʃound policy; as we may well ʃuppoʃe that the province was, in a manner, new-peopled by Roman ʃubjects. In fact, Theodoʃius entirely altered and regulated the ʃyʃtem of the Roman government in Britain, by reducing it to a regular order.
This appears by the celebrated Notitia, publiʃhed by Pancirollus, which contains a liʃt of the civil and military officers of the Roman empire in Britain, and was probably written in the time of Theodoʃius the Younger; but the particulars are foreign to this hiʃtory, as the eʃtabliʃhment was confined to South Britain. Mention is made of the Arcani, a ʃet of men employed as lookers-out upon the prætenture, and whoʃe buʃineʃs it was to give warning of the motions of the northern nations. Theʃe not only neglecting their duty, but even confederating with the enemy, Theodoʃius moved them from their poʃts, and then returned to the continent with as great a character as any of the ancient Romans ever bore. Upon the whole, there is reaʃon to believe this campaign of Theodoʃius in Britain to have been the most glorious of any made by the Romans ʃince the days of Agricola. That the Scots were then ʃettled in the northern parts of the iʃland, appears unqueʃtionably from the teʃtimony of Claudian, and other writers. It ʃeems likewiʃe certain, that Theodoʃius carried his arms into Ierne, the inhabitants of which he ʃubdued; but antiquaries are divided in opinion, whether by that Ierne was ʃignified Ireland, or Strathern, which lies on the banks of the river Ierne, or Ern, in Scotland. The point has been warmly agitated between the Scotch and Engliʃh antiquaries. For my own part, I can ʃee no acquiʃition gained by the Scots, either in point of antiquity or dignity, in admitting that their forefathers had the honour of being put to the ʃword by the Romans. Neither is it very eaʃy to aʃcertain the glory which can reʃult to England, by ʃupposing that the Romans carried their victorious arms into Ireland.
The brave Theodoʃius was ʃucceeded by Fraomarius, as legate of Britain; but we know little or nothing of his exploits there. The emperor Gratian made the younger Theodoʃius, ʃon to the conqueror of the Picts, his aʃʃociate in the empire. Maximus, a general of great merit, reʃenting the preference given to Theodoʃius, aʃʃumed the imperial purple in Britain; and his uʃurpation falls in with the period which the moʃt authentic accounts of the Scots fix as the commencement of their monarchy.
To conclude, the reader is to judge for himʃelf as to the credit due to the narrative which I have taken from the Scotch hiʃtorians. It is not, I acknowledge, eaʃy to aʃcertain the authorities upon which Boece founds his hiʃtory; but I dare not reject the whole. Some part of it may be true, becauʃe it is countenanced by Roman and co-temporary writers. We know of no diʃability that the inhabitants of the northern parts of the iʃland, who had ʃo great an intercourʃe with the Romans, were under, from recording the actions of their own times: nor do we think that the high antiquities of many countries, which have been adopted by hiʃtory, reʃt upon a more ʃolid foundation than that of the Scots. The probability of the facts recorded, is, perhaps the ʃtrongeʃt evidence which can be brought, that the hiʃtory of the firʃt forty kings, here given, is the compoʃition of later times; becauʃe thoʃe coined in more early ages, teem with marvellous and miraculous incidents.
1 Jam primum (ʃays he) Romana claʃʃis circumventa inʃulam eʃʃe Britanniam affirmavit, ac ʃimul incognitas ad id tempus inʃulas, quas Orcadas vocant, invenit domuitque. Vit. Agric. C. 10.
TI. CLAVDIO CÆS.
PONTIFICI. MAX. TR. P. IX.
COSV. IMP. XVI. P. P.
SENATVS. POPVL. Q. R. QVOD.
REGES BRITANNIÆ ABSQ.
VLLA JACTVRA DOMVERIT.
PRIMVS. INDICIO. SVBEGERIT.
3 Mr. Gordon offers very plauʃible reaʃons to prove, that the place of the battle was in Strathern, half a mile ʃouth from the Kirk of Comerie: for this, as he informs us, is upon or near a part of the ridge of the Grampian mountains; whereas no Roman camp has been diʃcovered in Athol or Inernes, which looks as if Agricola had never gone ʃo far, tho’ there is a remarkable encampment here. The encampments Ardock and Innerpeffery are between the Grampian and Ochel mountains, and not large enough to contain the number of men which were in Galgacus’s army. Tacitus ʃays, the legionary ʃoldiers were placed before the vallum; that is, as I ʃuppoʃe, the trench of their camp. The track of ground here, and the encampment and rising-ground about it, Mr. Gordon thinks, agrees ʃurprizingly to Tacitus’s deʃcription of it: and the moor in which this camp ʃtands, is, as he affirms, called to this day Galgachan, or Galdachan Roʃs moor. But Tacitus’s expreʃʃions ʃeem to imply, that they were farther beyond the Tay than the place aʃʃigned by Mr. Gordon; and a very ingenious gentleman informed me of a place called Fortingal-camp, near which he inclined to think, the place of battle might have been. He told me alʃo, that he had ʃeen the camp Gordon mentions; but could not learn the moor which was called Galgachan Roʃs moor. I am much of the opinion of a very curious gentleman who lives upon the ʃpot, and is well ʃkilled in the Highland tongue, that the true name is Dalgin Roʃs; that is, the dale under Roʃs, as he explained it. Ross is a village near to this vale, and near the Roman encampment. The country people ʃometimes pronounce the word Dalgin not unlike Galgin, which, very probably, has led Gordon into his opinion concerning this name. Fortingal-camp is about ʃixteen miles from Dunkeld. The middle ʃyllable is, as I underʃtand it, the ʃign of the genitive in the Highland tongue; and gal ʃignifies a ʃtranger: ʃo that the word imports the fort of ʃtrangers; or, if gal be ʃuppoʃed the firʃt ʃyllable of Galgacus, then it is Galgacus’s fort. I only farther add, that Gordon, in his account of his Galgacan camp, takes no notice, I think, of a ʃtone that is in the middle of it, a tumulus nigh it, and a military way that goes from it: and, in computing its contents, omits the legions, as the four alæ, that were kept as a reʃerve; for the auxiliaries alone were eight thouʃand; and the horʃe, or the wings, were three thouʃand. But the legions might poʃʃibly have been at Ardock, or Innerpeffery, before they marched to the battle. – See Horʃeley’s Britannia Romana, p. 44.
4 The lake Orra, or Horra, was known in the time of the Romans. Many remains of their encampments are ʃeen yet near Lochore, or the lake of Horra, in the county of Fife.
5 Having deʃcribed the other prætentures, I ʃhall likewiʃe give ʃome account of this. Notwithʃtanding what has been ʃaid by ʃome eminent writers, it is certain this wall was quite different from that of Adrian, though, in the main, it ran near the ʃame ground; but according to Mr. Horʃley’s account, it extended farther at each end than Adrian’s. It has, all along on the ʃouth, a paved military way, though not always running parallel, in breadth about ʃeventeen foot, and ʃometimes coincides with Adrian’s north agger; but where the latter is too diʃtant or inconvenient, it proceeds ʃeparately. Mr. Horʃley believes there might have been likewiʃe a ʃmaller military way, for the conveniency of ʃmall parties paʃʃing from one turret to another. This wall has alʃo a large ditch at the north; but there is no direct proof that ever an agger belonged to it. It had caʃtella, or towers placed upon it at proper distances, generally leʃs than a mile one from another. Theʃe, excepting one, which was perhaps older than the wall, were ʃixty-ʃix foot ʃquare; the wall itʃelf forming the north ʃide of each. It likewiʃe had turrets, probably four betwixt every two caʃtella, at the diʃtance of three hundred and eighteen yards from each other; which, by the few remains of them, appear to have been four yards ʃquare at the bottom. Thus the centinels placed upon them, being within call of each other, a ready communication was kept up through the whole extent of the wall. Upon, or near, this wall were ʃeventeen forts or ʃtations, each conʃiderably larger than the caʃtella: theʃe ʃtood at uncertain distances one from another; and were thickeʃt and ʃtrongeʃt at the two extremities, and in the middle. The wall was generally on the top of high ground, both for ʃtrength and proʃpect; often built in places, through which it would have been impracticable to have carried Adrian’s vallum; and extends, in the whole ʃixty-eight miles one hundred and ʃixty-nine paces. The thickneʃs of it appears not to have been every where equal; ʃometimes it meaʃures ʃeven foot four inches at the foundation; but where the ʃea-water has come up to it, as at Boulneʃs, nine foot. The wall itʃelf was built of freeʃtone, the ʃtones in the heart of it being broad and thin, ʃet edge-ways, and cemented by pouring upon them liquid mortar. The foundation ʃometimes is ʃtrengthened with oaken piles. The breadth and depth of its ditch is uncertain; but ʃeem to have been about ten foot deep, and twelve foot or more over. The whole was begun at Segedunum, or Couʃins-houʃe on the Tine, and carried weʃtward to Timocelum or Boulneʃs. This wall is neither mentioned by Xiphilin nor Herodian, tho’ the former mentions that the Meatæ dwelt near the wall which divides the iʃland into two parts. It is, however, mentioned by Spartian in the following words: “Arabos in deditionem accepit. Adiabenos in tributarios coegit. Britanniam (quod maximum ejus imperii decus eʃt) muro per tranʃverʃam inʃulam ducto, utrinque ad ʃinum oceani; unde etiam Britannici nomen accepit.” “He received the ʃubmiʃʃion of the Arabians; he compelled the Adiabeni to become tributary; and fortified Britain (which is the greateʃt glory of his reign) with a wall drawn croʃs the iʃland from ʃea to ʃea; where alʃo he took the name of Britannicus.” And Aurelius Victor ʃays, “Ob hæc tanta Arabicum, Adiabenicum, et Parthici, cognomina paties dixere. His majora aggreʃʃus, Britanniam quæ ad ea utilis erat, pulʃis hoʃtibus muro munivit, per tranʃverʃam inʃulam ducto utrinque ad finem oceani.” “For theʃe great exploits, the ʃenate complimented him with the ʃurnames Arabicus, Adiabenicus, and Parthicus. He ʃtill proceeding to greater things, repelled the enemy in Britain, and fortified the country, which was ʃuited to that purpoʃe, with a wall drawn croʃs the iʃland from ʃea to ʃea.” The ʃame author, in an abridgment, makes the extent of this wall to be but thirty-two miles, as Eutropius makes it only thirty-five. “But as to that abridgment of the Roman hiʃtory, under the name of Aurelius Victor (ʃays Mr. Innes in his Critical Eʃʃay) the author is uncertain, as well as the time he lived in; and the genuine and undoubted work of Aurelius Victor, as we ʃhall ʃee preʃently, gives much the ʃame account of Severus’s wall as Spartian; that it was bounded on each ʃide by the ocean, without any farther account of its dimenʃions. As to Eutropius, though the vulgar editions give but thirty-two miles to Severus’s wall, there is juʃt ground to believe, that the ancient copies had a C or L before the numerical letters XXXII; ʃince St. Hierome, near Eutropius’s time, who follows him, hath CXXXII. Oroʃius, about the ʃame time, gives the ʃame dimenʃion; and, after them, Caʃʃiodorus, Ado, Nennius, and others, who give all CXXXII miles to Severus’s wall: in which it is highly probable, that the numerical letter L hath been, by error of the tranʃlator, altered into that of C, theʃe two letters being eaʃily confounded in ancient MSS. and there being no place in Britain that hath CXXXII miles of breadth; which have apparently given occaʃion to critics to cut off the C in Eutropius, whereas there is no likelihood of St. Hierome’s adding C to the number he found in Eutropius.”
6 See Sir William Temple’s Introduction to the Hiʃt. of England.
7 See Euʃebius.
8 See Sir William Petty’s Political Anatomy of Ireland, p. 103. Lond. Edit. 1691.
* “Had my moderation in prosperity been equal to my noble birth and fortune, I should have entered this city as your friend rather than as your captive; and you would not have disdained to receive, under a treaty of peace, a king descended from illustrious ancestors and ruling many nations.
“My present lot is as glorious to you as it is degrading to me. I had men and horses, arms and wealth. What wonder if I parted with them reluctantly? If you Romans choose to lord it over the world, does it follow that the world is to accept slavery?
“Were I to have been at once delivered up as a prisoner, neither my fall nor your triumph would have become famous. My punishment would be followed by oblivion, whereas, if you save my life, I shall be an everlasting memorial of your clemency.” – Speech of King Caratacus.
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