Early History, pp.lvi-lxiv.

[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]

The aborigines of Scotland seem, beyond any reasonable doubt, to have been clans of the same Gaelic origin as those, who, in the most early ages, settled in England. Scotland, at the epoch of Agricola’s invasion, may be viewed as a mirror which reflects back the condition of England at the earlier era when Julius Cæsar introduced the Roman arms to Britain, and also that of Gaul at the still remoter period when Roman ambition subdued the common parent of the British nations. Caledonia, in its largest extent, from the Tweed and the Eden on the south, to Dunnet-head in Caithness on the north, was distributed among twenty-one tribes of Britons. Those on the east coast, or Lowlands, owing to the greater fertility of the soil, must have been more numerous and potent than those of the western or Highland districts; and all, accordantly with ancient Celtic usage, were mutually independent, and could be brought into union or co-operation only by the pressure of danger. The Ottadini – whose name seems to have been derived from the Tyne or Tina – occupied the whole coast-district between the southern Tyne and the frith of Forth, comprehending the half of Northumberland, the whole of Berwickshire and East-Lothian, and the eastern part of Roxburghshire; and had their chief town at Bremenium, on Reed-water, in Northumberland. The Gadeni – whose name alludes to the numerous groves which adorned and fortified their territory – inhabited the interior country immediately west of that of the Ottadini, comprehending the western part of Northumberland, a small part of Cumberland, the western part of Roxburgh, all Selkirk and Tweeddale, much of Mid-Lothian, and nearly all West-Lothian; and they had Curia, on Gore-water, for their capital. The Selgovæ – whose country lay upon “a dividing water,” and who gave name to the Solway – inhabited the whole of Dumfries-shire, and the eastern part of Galloway, as far as the Dee; and had, as their chief towns, Trimontium at Brunswark-hill in Annandale, Uxellum at Wardlaw-hill in Caerlaverock, and Caerbantorigum at Drummore, in the parish of Kirkcudbright. The Novantes – who are supposed to have taken their name from the abundance of streams in their country – possessed all central and western Galloway, between the Dee and the Irish sea; and had, as their principal towns, Lucopibia on the site of the present Whithorn, and Rerigonium on the north shore of Loch-Ryan. The Damnii inhabited all the expanse of country from the mountain-ridge which divides Galloway and Ayrshire on the south, to the river Earn on the north, comprehending all the shires of Ayr, Renfrew, and Stirling, all Strathclyde, and a small part of the shires of Dumbarton and Perth; and had the towns of Vanduaria on the site of Paisley, Colania in the south-eastern extremity of Strathclyde, Coria in Carstairs, Alauna on the river Allan, Lindun near the present Ardoch, and Victoria on Ruchil-water in Comrie. The Horestii inhabited the country between the Forth and the Tay, comprehending all Fife, Kinross, and Clackmannan, the eastern part of Strathearn, and the district west of the upper Tay, as far as the river Brand. The Venricones possessed the territory between the Tay and the Kincardineshire Carron, comprehending the Gowrie, Stormont, Strathmore, and Strathardle, sections of Perthshire, all Forfarshire, and the larger part of Kincardineshire; and had their chief town, Or, or Orrea, on the margin of the Tay. The Taixali inhabited the northern part of Kincardineshire, and all Aberdeenshire to the Deveron; and had Devana, at the present Normandykes on the Dee, for their capital. The Vacomagi possessed the country between the Deveron and the Beauly, comprehending Braemar, nearly all Banffshire, the whole of Elginshire and Nairnshire, and the eastern part of Inverness-shire; and had the towns of Ptoroton or Alata Castra at the mouth of the Beauly, Tuessis on the east bank of the Spey, and Tamea and Banatia in the interior. The Albani – whose name seems to allude to the height and ruggedness of their mountains, and who, in consequence of their becoming subjugated by the Damnii, were afterwards called Dammi-Albani – inhabited the interior districts between the southern mountain-screen of the loch and river Tay, and the mountain-chain along the southern limit of Inverness-shire, comprehending Breadalbane, Athole, Appin, Glenorchy, and a small part of Lochaber. The Attacotti possessed the country between Loch-Fyne and the commencement of the Lennox or Kilpatrick hills, comprehending Cowal and the greater part of Dumbartonshire. The Caledonii Proper inhabited the interior country between the mountain-range along the north of Perthshire, and the range of hills which forms the forest of Balnagowan in Ross, comprehending all the middle parts of Ross and Inverness. A vast forest, which extended northward of the Forth and the Clyde, and which covered all the territory of this tribe, gave to them their name, originally Celyddoni and Celyddoniaid, ‘the people of the coverts,’ and, owing to the greatness of the area which it occupied, occasioned its Romanized designation of Caledonia to be afterwards applied strictly to all the country north of the Forth and the Clyde, and loosely, but at a later date, to the whole kingdom. The Cantæ – so named from the British Caint, which signifies an open country – possessed Easter Ross and Cromarty, or the district lying between the Beauly and the Dornoch friths. The Logi – who probably drew their name from the British Lygi, a word which was naturally applied to the inhabitants of a sea-coast – possessed the eastern part of Sutherland, or the country between the Dornoch frith  and the river Helmsdale. The Carnabii, who, like a cognominal tribe in Cornwall, derived their name from their residence on remarkable promontories, occupied the country north of the Helmsdale, or a small part of Sutherland, and all Caithness, except the north-west corner. The Catini, a small but warlike tribe, from whom the Gaelic inhabitants of Caithness and Sutherland at the present day are ambitious of proving their remote descent, inhabited the narrow territory, partly in Caithness and partly in Sutherland, between the Forse and the Naver. The Mertæ possessed the interior of Sutherland. The Carnonacæ possessed the north and west coast of Sutherland, and the west coast of Cromarty, from the Naver round to Loch-Broom. The Creones – whose name was expressive of their fierceness – possessed the coast between Loch-Broom and Loch-Duich. The Cerones inhabited the whole west coast of Inverness, and the Argyleshire districts of Ardnamurchan, Morven, Sunart, and Ardgower, or the coast between Loch-Duich and Loch-Linnhe. The Epidii – who derived their appellation from the British Ebyd, ‘a peninsula,’ and from whom the Mull of Kintyre anciently had the name of the Epidian promontory – occupied the whole country enclosed by Loch-Linnhe, the territory of the Albani, Loch-Fyne, the lower frith of Clyde, the Irish sea, and the Atlantic ocean. 

The Caledonian tribes, at the epoch when history introduces them to notice, appear to have been little raised, in their social connexions, above the condition of rude savages, who live on the milk of their flocks, or the produce of the chase. According to the doubtful and darkly-tinted intimations of Dio, indeed, they possessed wives and reared their children in common, they lived in the most miserable hovels, they chose to live in a state of almost entire nudity, and they practised, like the heroes of more ancient times, a system of mutual plunder and professional robbery. Herodian concurs in exhibiting them in these sombre and repulsive hues at even so late a period as the 3d century. Yet, according to all testimony, they were brave, alert, and acquainted with various arts; they had remarkable capacity for enduring fatigue, cold, and famine: they were famous alike for speed in conducting an onset, and for firmness in sustaining an attack. Their vast stone monuments, too, which still remain, their hill-forts of such ingenious and elaborate construction as could not even now be taken by storm, and the gallant stand which they systematically opposed to the disciplined valour of the Roman armies, exhibit them in lights quite incompatible with an alleged state of unmitigated barbarism. But though advanced in civilization very little beyond the first stage, they had scarcely any political union. They are said by Dio to have been literal democrats, acting as clans, and adopting any public measure only by common consent, and an universally and equally diffused authority; but they may be allowed, on the one hand, to have rejected the coercion of any chieftainship, or autocracy, or monarchic power, and, on the other, to have placed themselves, like the American Indians, under the aristocratic sway of their old men. Their armouries were generally furnished with helmets, shields, and chariots, and with spears, daggers, swords, battle-axes, and bows. The chiefs in command, or in bravery, alone used the helmet and the chariot; and the common men fought always on foot, with shields for defence, and with all sorts of the offensive weapons for attack. Their chariots were sometimes aggregated for making a vehicular onslaught, and were drawn by horses which are said to have been small, swift, and spirited. Their vessels for navigating the inland lakes, and even the seas which surround and so singularly indent the country, consisted only of canoes and currachs. The canoe seems to have belonged to a period preceding the epoch of record; it was the stock of a single tree, hollowed out with fire, and put into motion by a paddle; and it has frequently been found in marches and drained lakes, and occasionally of a construction remarkably skilful and polished. The currach was certainly in use among the Britons of the south, and very probably was in use also among the Britons of Caledonia, in the days of Julius Csesar; and is described by him as having it body of wicker-work covered with leather, and as accommodated with a keel, and with masts of the lightest wood. The currachs are even called little ships; they were pushed boldly out into the far-spreading sea; and were frequently, or rather currently, employed in invasions from the wooded north or ‘the Emerald Isle’ upon the shores which became seized and fortified by the Romans. Adamnan, in his Life of St. Columba, describes the currach which that apostle of Scotland employed in his voyages, as possessing all the parts of a ship, with sails and oars, and with a capacity for passengers; and he adds, that in this roomy, though seemingly fragile vessel, he sailed into the north sea, and, during fourteen days, remained there in perfect safety. 

In the year 78, Agricola, at the age of 38, commenced his skilful soldierly career in Britain. His first and second campaigns were employed in subduing and Romanizing Lancashire, and the territory adjacent to it on the south and the east. His third campaign, conducted in the year 80, carried the Roman arms to the Taw, ‘an expanded water,’ ‘an estuary,’ probably the Solway frith. In his fourth campaign, or that of 81, he overran all the eastern and central Lowlands, to the Forth and the Clyde. In his fifth, or in 82, he invaded “that part of Britain which is opposite to Ireland,” or lower Nithsdale and the whole extent of Galloway. In the summer of 83, he crossed the Forth at what is now called Queensferry, and almost immediately experienced alarms from learning both that the tribes in his rear had dared to act offensively, by attacking the strengths he had erected for protecting of his conquests, and that the tribes in his front menaced him with confederation and a vigorous resistance; but he pushed forward among the Horestii, found the clans for the first time in mutual co-operation, was assailed by them at Loch-Orr in Fife, in the very gates of his camp, repelled and broke them after a furious engagement, and, without much further trouble, brought all the Horestii under his yoke. In 84, he passed up Glendevon, through the opening of the Ochil-hills, and defiling toward “Mons Grampus,” or the Grampian-hill, which he saw before him, he found the Caledonians, to the number of 30,000, confederated, and under the command of Galgacus, already encamped at its base; and he there fought with them a battle so obstinate, that only night forced it to a termination, so discouraging to the aborigines that they retired to the most distant recesses of their impervious country, and so curious in archeology as to have occasioned a thousand disputes, and no small expenditure of learning and research, in attempts to fix its precise theatre. The Lowlands south of the lower Tay, and the Earn, being now all in his possession, and a powerful body of the tribes of the conquered district enrolled with him as auxiliaries, a voyage of discovery and of intimidation was ordered by him round the island, and was achieved by the safe return of the Roman fleet to the Forth. Agricola was now recalled, through the envy of the Emperor Domitian; and the silence of history during the 35 years which followed, at once intimates the absence of any events of interest, and evinces the power of Agricola’s victories as a general, and the wisdom of his measures as a statesman. 

In 120, the Emperor Adrian built the celebrated wall between the Tyne and the Solway; and, though he did not relinquish the conquered territory north of these waters, he practically acknowledged himself to hold it by a partial and comparatively insecure tenure. The Ottadini, the Gadeni, the Selgovæ, and the Novantes, had neither domestic tumult nor devastation from invaders to engage their attention; they had learned the arts of confederation, and were strong in numbers and in union; they began to feel neither overawed nor restrained by the Roman stations which were continued in their territory; and they broke out into insurrections, and ran southward in ravaging incursions, which the Romans had not leisure to chastise, or even effectually to check. In 139, the year after Antoninus Pius assumed the purple, Lollius Urbicus was deputed as the Proprætor of Britain, to quell a general revolt, and reduce the inhabitants to obedience; and, in 140, he marched northward to the friths, tranquillized the tribes beyond them, and even began successfully to bring under the power of his arms the whole Lowland country northward, as far as the Beauly frith. With the view of overawing the tribes to the south, as well as of repelling the wild clans who ranged among the mountain-fastnesses on the north, he constructed the great work from Carriden on the Forth, to Dunglass on the Clyde, which is described in our alphabetical arrangement under the title ANTONINUS’ WALL. Iters, or highways, were carried in many ramifications through the country south of the wall, and in several lines along or athwart the conquered country to the north; and stations were established in multitudinous commanding positions, for garrisoning the Roman forces, and maintaining the natives under a continual pressure. Scotland was now divided into three great sections, – the district south of Antoninus’ wall, which was incorporated with the Roman government of South Britain, – the Lowland country, between Antoninus’ wall and the Beauly frith, which is said to have been now erected into a Roman province, under the name of Vespasiana, – and nearly all the Highland district, north of Loch-Fyne, or the most northerly indentation of the Clyde, which still retained its pristine state of independence, and began to wear distinctly the name of Caledonia. The tranquillity of the subjugated tribes till the death of Antoninus, in 161, about which time probably Lollius Urbicus ceased to be proprætor, sufficiently indicates the vigour of the administration throughout all the Roman territory. Disturbances which broke out immediately on the accession of Marcus Aurelius to the empire, were speedily quelled by Calphurnius Agricola, the successor of Lollius Urbicus; yet they were followed by the evacuation, on the part of the Romans, of the whole province of Vespasiana. The tribes beyond Antoninus’ wall, thrown back into a state of independence, slowly nursed their energies for invasion, – made, in 183, predatory incursions beyond the wall, – regularly, toward the close of the century, over-ran the Roman territory, – entered, in 200, into a treaty with the Lieutenant of Severus, – and, in 207, renewed their hostilities, and provoked the emperor to attempt a re-conquest of their country. Early in 209, Severus, after making imposing preparations, marched at the head of a vast force into North Britain, found no obstruction south of Antoninus’ wall, and even penetrated into the territories of the Caledonians without encountering much resistance. The tribes, unable to oppose him, sued peace from his clemency, surrendered some of their arms, and relinquished part of their country. He is said to have felled woods, drained marshes, constructed roads, and built bridges, in order to seize them in their fastnesses, – to have lost 50,000 men in destroying forests, and attempting to subdue the physical difficulties of the country, – to have subjected his army to such incredible toils as were sufficient to have brought a still greater number of them to the grave without feeling the stroke of an enemy. Caracalla, his son and successor, is supposed by some to have faintly, while Severus lived, followed up his policy, and to have fought with the Caledonians on the banks of the Carron; but early in 211, after Severus’ decease, he relinquished to them the territories which they had surrendered to his father, secured to them by treaty independent possession of all the country beyond the wall, and took hostages from them for their conservation of the international peace. The Caledonians, henceforth for nearly a century, cease to mingle in Roman story: they appear not to have interested themselves in the affairs of the Romanized Britons; and they were little affected by the elevation of Cæsars or the fall of tyrants, by Carausius’ usurpation of Romanic Britain, or by its recovery at his assassination as a province of the empire. But the five Romanized tribes south of the northern wall, though too inconsiderable to figure as a part of the Roman world, and for a time too poor and abject to draw the notice of their own quondam brethren, eventually became sufficiently Romanized, and carried onward in social improvement, and surrounded with the results of incipient civilization and industry, to be objects of envy to the poorer and more barbarous clans who retained their independence. In 306, the earliest date at which the Picts are mentioned, or any native names than those of the aboriginal British tribes are introduced, “the Caledonians and other Picts,” after appearing to have made frequent predatory irruptions, and to have been menacing the south with a general invasion, provoked a chastisement from the Roman legionaries, and were compelled by Constantius, at the head of an army, to burrow anew behind the vast natural rampart of their Highland territory. In 343, the Picts are said, on doubtful authority, to have made another inroad, and to have been repelled by a short campaign of the Emperor Constans. In 364, the Picts, who in that age were divided into two tribes by the names of Dicaledones and Vecturiones, – the Attacotti, who still retained their ancient British name and position on the shores of Dumbarton, – and the Scots, who are first noticed in history in 360, who were a transmarine and erratic people from Ireland, and who appear to have made frequent predatory invasions of the Roman provincials from the sea, and to have formed forced settlements on the coast, – all three simultaneously made an incursion more general and destructive than any which had yet defied the Roman arms in Britain. Theodosius was sent, in 367, into Britain, to restore tranquillity, and is said, though erroneously, to have found the Picts and the Scots in the act of plundering Augusta, the predecessor-city of the modern London. In two campaigns of 368 and 369, he drove the invaders, wherever he really found them, back to the northern mountains, repaired the wall of Antoninus, and erected the country lying between that wall and the southern one into a Roman province, under the name of Valentia, additional to four which already existed in South Britain. The Picts and the Scots, forgetting, in the effluxion of a quarter of a century the punishment inflicted on them, and emboldened by the peril with which the empire was menaced by the continental hordes, again, in 398, burst forth like a torrent upon Lowland Britain, but, by the energy of Stilicho, the Roman general, were again stemmed, driven back, and flung behind another renovation of the great northern wall. But early next century they trod down every barrier, and began a system of incessant and harassing incursion, which amounted, on each occasion, to little or nothing less than temporary conquest. In 408, the British provincials were so awed and alarmed by them, that they assumed a sort of independence in self-defence, called earnestly to Rome for help, and were told by their masters to rule and defend themselves; in 422, aided by a legion which was sent in compliance with a renewed and wailing cry for assistance, they are said to have repelled the invaders, to have repaired, for the last time, the fortifications by which the Picts had been overawed, and to have, in consequence, won a respite of some years from the disasters of invasion; and, in 446, pressed anew by the Pictish foe, and abjectly acknowledging themselves for the first time to be Roman citizens, they made a vain appeal to their ruined masters for protection, and were despondingly told that Rome could no longer claim them as her subjects, or render them assistance as their citizens. 

At the period of the Roman abdication, the sixteen tribes who ranged unsubdued beyond the wall of Antoninus, and then bore the denomination of the Picts, were the only genuine descendants in North Britain of the Caledonian clans. They acquired, from their independence, paramount importance, when the country ceased to be overawed by the Roman power; and during the four succeeding centuries of the North-British annals, they figured as the dominating nation. The five Romanized tribes of Valentia, who had long enjoyed the privilege of Roman citizenship, speedily assumed independence, and organized for themselves a separate and national government. Early after the Roman abdication, the Angles, or Anglo-Saxons, on the one hand, settled on the Tweed, and began gradually to oblige the Ottadini to relinquish for ever their beautiful domains; and the Scots from Ireland, on the other, colonized Argyle, commenced to spread themselves over all the circumjacent districts, and entered a course of tilting with the Pictish government, which, alter the bloody struggles of 340 years, ended in its destruction. The history of all these four parties, between the years 446 and 843, belongs to what, with reference to the power which predominated, may distinctively and appropriately be called the Pictish period, and is briefly sketched in our article PICTS. 

The fate of the eastern ones of the five Romanized tribes of the province of Valentia after the Roman abdication, differed widely from that of those in the west. The Ottadini and the Gadeni, left in possession of the country from the Forth to the Tweed, and between the sea and the midland mountains, seem not to have erected themselves into an independent and dominant community, but to have resumed the habits and the policy of the early British clans, and when they saw their country early invaded by the Anglo-Saxons, more as settlers than as plunderers, they, with some bravery, but with little skill and less concert, made resistance when attacked, till, through disunion, ebriety, and unmilitary conduct, they speedily became subdued and utterly dispersed. The Selgovæ, the Novantes, and the Damnii, with the fugitive children of the other two tribes, erected their paternal territories into a compact and regular dominion, appropriately called Cumbria, or Regnum Cambrensi, or Cumbrensi. This Cumbrian kingdom extended from the Irthing, the Eden, and the Solway, on the south, to the upper Forth and Loch-Lomond on the north, and from the Irish sea and the frith of Clyde, eastward to the limits of the Merse and Lothian; and, with the usual inaccuracy of the Middle ages, it was frequently and almost currently made to bear the name of the kingdom of Strathcluyd or Strathclyde. Its metropolis was Alcluyd, or Aldclyde, ‘the rocky height on the Clyde,’ to which the Scoto-Irish subsequently gave the name of Dun-Briton, ‘the fortress of the Britons,’ a name easily recognisable in the modernized word Dumbarton. On the south-east, where the open country of Teviotdale invited easy ingress from the Merse, the kingdom suffered speedy encroachments from the Saxons; and, along that quarter, though inland from the original frontier, and screened interiorly by a vast natural rampart of mountain-range, an artificial safeguard, called the Catrail, ‘the partition of defence,’ was constructed: see article CATRAIL. From 508 to 542, Cumbria, or Strathclyde, acknowledged the authority, and exulted in the fame of some extraordinary original, who figures as the redoubtable King Arthur of romance, who imposed the name of Castrum Arthuri upon Alcluyd, or Dumbarton, and has bequeathed a tenfold greater number of enduring names to Scottish topographical nomenclature than any other ancient prince, and who, whatever may have been the real facts of his history, seems to have achieved many feats, to have received a treacherous death-wound on the field of battle, and to have altogether bewildered by his character and fate the rude and romancing age in which he figured. In 577, Rydderech, another noted king of Strathclyde, but noted for his munificence, defeated Aidan of Kintyre on the height of Arderyth. In years between 584 and 603, the Cumbrians, aided by the confederacy of the Scoto-Irish, fought four battles against the intrusive and invading Saxons, and were twice victorious, and twice and concludingly the vanquished. On many occasions, they had to fight with the Picts attacking them from the north; on some, with their occasional allies, the Scots, attacking them from the west; and, on a few, with the Cruithne of Ulster, and other Irish tribes, attacking them on the south-west and south. In 750, the Northumbrian Eadbert seems to have traversed Nithsdale and seized Kyle; and, in 756, that prince, jointly with the Pictish Ungus, seized the metropolis, though not the castle, of Alcluyd. Yet the descendants of the Romanized Britons were not conquered. Their reguli, or chiefs, indeed, often ceased from civil broil or foreign conflict, to succeed in unbroken series; but, when the storm of war had passed away, they long ceased not to reappear, and wield anew the seemingly extinct power. The Cumbrians, though unable to prevent considerable encroachments on all sides within their ancient frontiers, and though slowly diminishing in the bulk and the power of their independence, remained a distinct people within their paternal domains long after the Pictish government had for ever fallen. 

A body of Saxons, a people of Gothic origin, the confederates of those Angles who first set foot on South Britain in 449, debarked on the Ottadinian shore of the Forth immediately after the Roman abdication. Amid the consternation and the disunitedness of the Ottadini, the new settlers rather overran the country than subdued it; and, though they seem to have directed neither their attacks nor their views northward of the Forth, they are said to have formed settlements along the coast of its frith, almost as far as the east end of Antoninus’ wall. In 547, Ida, consanguineous with the new settlers, one of the most vigorous children of the fictitious Woden, and the founder of the Northumbrian monarchy, landed, without opposition, at Flamborough, and, acting on a previous design, pointed his keen-edged sword to the north, carried victory with him over all the paternal domains of the Ottadini, and paused not in a career of conquest, and of compelling subjugation, till he had established a consolidated monarchy from the Dumber to the Forth. After the defeat of the Cumbrians in 603, Ethelfrid, the second successor of Ida, took possession of the borders of the Selgovæ, and compelled the western Romanized Britons in general to acknowledge the superior energy and union of the Saxons. Edwin, the most potent of the Northumbrian kings, assumed the sceptre in 617; he acquired a fame of which tradition has spoken with awe; he struck respect or awe into the hearts of Cumbrians, Picts, Scots, and English; he appears to have, in some points, pushed his conquests from sea, and to have made large accessions to his kingdom on the south and west; and he strengthened or occupied in some new form in the north, that notable “burgh” or fortification which, as par excellence his, survives in the castle of Edinburgh, the magnificent metropolis of all modern Caledonia. Edfrid, who was the third in subsequent succession, and ascended the throne in 671, was successful in several enterprises, particularly in an expedition in 684, against the unoffending Irish; but at his overthrow and death in 685, at Dunnichen, by the Picts, he bequeathed destruction to his government inward from the Solway, and downward to the south of the Tweed, and effectually relieved the Scots and the Strathclyde Britons from the terror of the Northumbria-Saxon name. The quondam subjects of the diminished kingdom remained in Lothian and the Merse, but probably did not distinctly acknowledge any particular sovereign. The Northumbrian rulers had, for several successions after Egfrid, little connexion with the territory of modern Scotland; but, though they never reacquired all the ascendency which he lost, they began, about the year 725, to be again strong along the Solway and in Southern Galloway, and, before the close of 756, they had formed settlements in Kyle and Cunningham, and disputed with the Strathclyde Britons the possession of the central Clyde. From the moment of the sceptre beginning to possess its ancient burnished brilliance, it was wielded, for several reigns, by feeble and careless hands, and it speedily became lustreless, rusted, and broken. Ethelred, the last of these dowdy monarchs, having been slain during an insurrection in 794, Northumbria, during the 33 following years, became the wasted and distracted victim of anarchy, and was thenceforth governed by earls, under the sovereign authority of the English kings. The Cruithne of Ulster, who had made frequent incursions on the shores of the lower Clyde, took advantage of the Northumbrian weakness to form at length a lasting settlement on the coast of Galloway. The Anglo-Saxons, during the Pictish period, left, in the Gothic names of some places on the Solway, and of many between the Tweed and the Forth, indubitable traces of their conquests, their settlements, and their national origin. 

The history of the Scots, or Scoto-Irish, from the date of their definitive settlement in the country of the ancient British Epidii, in 503, to that of their being united to the Picts, and becoming the ascendant section in North Britain, is more perplexed and obscure than almost any passage of equal interest in the records of nations. They were too rude to possess the art of writing, and too restless to endure the repose of study; and when they found a bard able and willing to speak of them to posterity, they were permitted by their narrow views of social order to show him only the names and the personal nobleness of their reguli and chieftains as the elements of their fame. Even the genealogy and the series of their kings have been flung into nearly inextricable confusion by the contests of the Scottish and of the Irish antiquaries for pre-eminence in antiquity. Of their origin, and of their colonizing the ancient Epidia, or the territory of the present Kintyre and Lorn, as clear an account as can be furnished will be found in our article DALRIADS. They probably obtained original footing in Argyle from silent sufferance; and by natural increase, and frequent accessions of new immigrants from the Irish Dalriada, they may have become nursed into strength in the strong recesses of the west, before the Picts were refined enough to suspect any danger from their vicinity. The vast natural power of all their frontiers, the thinness of the hostile population on the sides where they were unprotected by the sea, the facility for slow and insensible, but steady and secure encroachment among the mountain districts on the east and the north, the great distance of the seat of the Pictish power, and the intervention of the stupendous rampart of the Highland frontier between the operations of that power and the aggressions of settlement or slow invasion half-way across the continent, – these must have been the grand causes of the Scots eventually acquiring energy and numbers, and a theatre of action, great and ample enough to enable them to cope with the dominant nation of North Britain, and to conduct negociations and achieve enterprises, which resulted in their own ascendency. 

Kenneth, who succeeded to the throne of the Scots in 836, was the grandson by his mother of the Pictish kings Constantine and Ungus II., who died respectively in 821 and 833. On the death of Uven, the son and the last male heir of Ungus, in 839, Kenneth claimed the Pictish crown as his by right of inheritance. Two successive and successful competitors kept it five years from his grasp; but both wore it amid disturbance and in misery; and the last met a violent death at Forteviot, the seat of his power. Kenneth could dexterously take advantage of such confusions as arose from the loss of a battle or the death of a king, to achieve an important revolution; and finding no man bold enough again to contest his claim, he easily stepped into the vacant throne. In his person a new dynasty, and a consolidation of popular interests among two great people who had hitherto been at variance, began. The Scots and the Picts were congenial races of a common origin, and of cognate tongues; and they readily coalesced. Their union augmented the power of both, and, by the ascendency of the Scots, gave at length their name to all Pictavia and Dalriada, and to the accessions which afterwards were made by the two great united territories. The Scottish period, or that of Scottish ascendency previous to Saxon intermixture, extended from the union of the Scottish and the Pictish crowns in 843, to the demise of Donald Bane, in 1097. During this period, the ancient territories of the Selgovæ, the Novantes, and the Damnii, became colonized by successive hordes of immigrants from Ireland, who gave their settlements the name of Galloway; and who, by a strange fortune, became known under the appellation of the ancient Picts. The kingdom of Cumbria, or Strathclyde, was crushed, distorted, and dismembered, the northern part passing completely under the Scottish dominion, and the southern part asserting a rude, subordinate independence, and existing as an appendage of the Scottish crown by the doubtful ties of an obscure title; and Caledonian Northumbria, or the beautiful district of Lothian and the Merse, after a series of bloody struggles for upwards of two centuries and a half, became integrated with Scotland by the lasting connection of rightful cession and mutual advantage. 

The next great period is the Scoto-Saxon, extending from 1097 to 1306. In the former period, the Gaelic Scots predominated; in this, the Saxon-English, or Anglo-Saxon. A new people now came in upon the old; a new dynasty ascended the throne; a new jurisprudence gradually prevailed; new ecclesiastical establishments were settled; and new manners and a new speech overspread the land. Malcolm Canmore, the last but two of the strictly Scottish kings, married an Anglo-Saxon princess, and became the father of Edgar, who, by means of an Anglo-Norman army, and after a fierce contest, enforced his title to a disputed crown, and commenced the Scoto-Saxon dynasty. Under Malcolm Canmore, the domestics and relations of his queen aided her powerful influence round the royal seat in introducing Saxon notions; some Saxon barons fled, with their dependants, into Scotland, from the violence of the Norman conquest; numerous fugitives were afforded an asylum by the king, from insurrections which he fomented in the north of England; vast numbers of young men and women were forcibly driven northward by him during his incursions into Northumberland and Durham; and preliminary movements, to a great aggregate amount, and with a great cumulative influence, were made toward a moral and social revolution. When Edgar, aided by the results of these movements, brought in a force from without altogether foreign in speech and character to the Scots, and entirely competent in power to overawe them, and perfunctorily to settle their disputes by placing their leader on the throne, he rendered the revolution virtually complete – introducing in a mass a commanding number of foreign followers to mix with the native population, and treat them as inferiors, and throwing open a broad ingress for a general Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman, and Anglo-Belgic colonization. So great and rapid was the influx of the new people, that, in the reign of David I., the second in succession after Edgar, men and women of them are said – somewhat hyperbolically, no doubt – to have been found, not only in every village, but in every house, of the Scottish, or Scoto-Saxon, dominions. So powerful though peaceful an invasion, was necessarily a moral conquest, a social subjugation; and its speedy aggregate result was to suppress the Celtic tongue and customs, or coop them up within the fastnesses of the Highlands, – to substitute an Anglo-Norman jurisprudence for the Celtic modes of government, – and to erect the pompous and flaunting fabrics and ritual of Roman Catholicity upon the ruins of the simple though eventually vitiated Culdeeism which had so long been the glory at once of Pict, of Dalriadic Scot, of Romanized Briton, and of Galloway Cruithne. 

At the accession of Edgar, or the commencement of the Scoto-Saxon period, Scotland, with the exception of its not claiming the western and the northern islands, possessed nearly its present limits, – the Solway, the Kershope, the Tweed, and the intervening heights forming the boundary-line with England. Northumberland and Cumberland were added as conquered territories by David I.; but they were demanded back, or rather forcibly resumed, by Henry II., during the minority of Malcolm IV. All Scotland may be viewed as temporarily belonging to England, when Henry II. made captive William I., the successor of Malcolm IV., and obliged him to surrender the independence of his kingdom; but, in 1189, it was restored to its national status by the generosity of Richard I., and settled within the same limits as previous to William’s captivity; and throughout the remainder of the Scoto-Saxon period, it retained an undisturbed boundary with England, conducive to the general interests of both kingdoms. Lothian on the east, and Galloway on the south-west, were, at this epoch, regarded by foreign powers as two considerable integral parts of Scotland; and though so far consolidated with the rest of the country as to afford but slight appearance of having been settled by dissimilar people and governed by different laws, yet they were so far considered and treated by the kings as separate territories, that they were placed under distinct jurisdictions. In 1266, the policy of Alexander III. acquired by treaty the kingdom of Man, and the isles of the Hebridean seas, and permanently annexed the latter to the Scottish crown. When the great barons were assembled in 1284, dolefully to settle the dubious succession to the throne, they declared that the territories belonging to Scotland, and lying beyond the boundaries which existed at the accession of Edgar, were the Isle of Man, the Hebrides, Tynedale, and Penrith. In 1290, the Isle of Man passed under the protection of Edward I. Even essential Scotland, the main territory of the kingdom, was so deeply imperilled at the close of the Anglo-Saxon period, that she could be preserved from the usurping and permanent grasp of insidious ambition only by a persevering and intensely patriotic struggle; and she was at length re-exhibited and settled down in her independence, and reinstamped, but in brighter hues, with the colourings of nationality, by the magnanimity and the indomitableness of her people supporting all the fortune and all the valour of Robert Bruce, the founder of a new dynasty of her kings, and the introducer of a new epoch in her history. An outline of her annals from the days of Bruce downward, sufficiently full to be in keeping with that which we have now sketched of the earlier periods, will be found in the historical section of our article on EDINBURGH. 

“Little more than a century ago,” says an elegant writer, “Scotland was considered by her southern neighbours as only partially civilized: the violence of the early reformers was still remembered as more allied to savage than to social morality. Latterly, however, if it has not received adequate respect from others – which we are far from affirming – it has done ample justice to itself, in the number, merit, and universal influence of the great characters which it has produced, and is still producing. In this respect – considering its very limited population – it may freely challenge comparison with any other nation. Scotchmen – whether invidiously designated as adventurers, or, more justly, as practical moralists – by their intrepid spirit of adventure – perseverance – suavity – and inflexible integrity, have extended the influence of civilization and humanity over the vast empire of Russia – have imparted to the Americans much of what they possess of moral honesty and civil refinement – and, in almost every country on earth, given examples of probity, industry, and knowledge; while their poets, historians, and philosophers, have amused, instructed, and enlightened the higher ranks in every civilized nation of Europe.” It is pleasing to add to the above high testimony on the score of moral and chivalrous characteristics, the following elegant tribute from an English poet: 

“Breathe there a race that from the approving hand 

Of nature more deserve, or less demand? 

So skilled to wake the lyre or wield the sword – 

To achieve great actions, or, achieved, record? 

Victorious in the conflict as the truce, 

Triumphant in a BURNS as in a BRUCE! 

Where’er the bay – where’er the laurel grows, 

Their wild notes warble, and their life-blood flows! 

There truth courts access, and would all engage, 

Lavish as youth, experienced as age; 

Proud science there, with purest nature twined, 

In firmest thraldom holds the freest mind: 

While Courage rears his limbs of giant form – 

Mocks the rude blast, and strengthens in the storm! 

Rome felt – and Freedom to their craggy glen 

Transferred that title proud – the Nurse of Men! 

By deeds of hazard, high and bold emprise, 

Trained, like their native eagle, for the skies! 

“Long, Scotia stern! thy bugle note resume – 

Grasp thy claymore – thy plaided bonnet plume! 

From hill and dale – from hamlet, heath, and wood, 

Peal the wild pibroch – pour the battle flood! 

‘In Egypt, India, Belgium, Gaul, and Spain,’ 

Walls in the trenches – whirlwinds on the plain! – 

This meed accept from Albion’s grateful breath – 

Brothers in arms – in victory. – in death!”

One thought on “Early History, pp.lvi-lxiv.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s