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University of California, 








136, Gower Street, W.C. i 

28, Essex Street, Strand, W.C. 2 










M.A., D.Sc. (Aberdon.), F.R.S.E. 
Assistant-Keeper in the Natural History Department of the 

Royal Scottish Museum 
(Scottish Education Department) 



Quhare I misknaw myne errour, quho it findis 
For charite amend it, gentil wicht, 
Syne perdoun me sat safer in my lycht ; 
And I sal help to smore your fait, leif brother, 
Thus vailye quod vailye, ilk gude dede helpis vthir. 

GAWAINE DOUGLAS, Bishop of Dunkeld. 


THE animal life or fauna of a country is no fixed unit 
of occupation, established and unchanging, but, endowed 
with the plasticity of life, it carries in itself the imprints of 
many influences which have played upon it throughout the 
ages. The lectures contained in the following pages were 
planned to unravel one important set of such influences those 
which radiate from the acts of Man so that it might be 
possible to trace the different ways in which Man's power 
has worked and is working, and to realize to what degree 
a fauna of to-day owes its character and composition to his 

With this end in view it was necessary to select a particular 
fauna of manageable compass, where the inquisition into 
Man's influence could be pushed to the furthest limits ; and 
several facts pointed to the fauna of Scotland as best suited 
for the purpose. Nevertheless, I have not hesitated to refer 
to examples of Man's influence in other countries, wherever 
particular types have been strikingly illustrated, or where 
influences are seen at work which help to explain effects of 
causes long lost to sight in Scotland, or where, as in the case 
of counter-pests, modern science has created new kinds of 
interference which sooner or later are likely to be adopted 
in this country. 

A result of this enquiry has been to emphasize the in- 
stability and changefulness of a fauna, and a word may be 
said as to the general place of Man's influence in the sum 
of change. Two types of changefulness affect a country's 
animals one temporary in. incidence and local in effect, a 


function of circumstance ; the other persistent and general, 
a function of time. Within itself a fauna is in a constant 
state of uneasy restlessness, an assemblage of creatures which 
in its parts ebbs and flows as one local influence or another 
plays upon it. It may be that a succession of favourable 
seasons breeds many field-voles, and the tide of the field-vole 
race flows to its high water-mark of numbers. But this new 
food-supply brings to the feast hungry owls, hawks, stoats 
and others, and as the tide of the beasts and birds of prey 
flows, that of the voles ebbs. Yet no sooner is the ebb 
apparent than the carnivores themselves decline for lack of 
food; and eventually the dead level is reached again. So 
the story goes on there is a constant ebb and flow of parts 
within the whole, a fauna is in unstable equilibrium, the 
" balance of nature " is never quite struck. 

But while the parts fluctuate, the fauna as a whole follows 
a path of its own. As well as internal tides which swing to and 
fro about an average level, there is a drift which carries the 
fauna bodily along an irretraceable course. While the former 
adjustments depend on temporary influences, such as adverse 
or favourable seasons or variations in the amount of food- 
stuffs, the latter is a secular phenomenon, due it may be to 
climatic changes or to the ordinary processes of organic 
evolution, and leaving a slowly marked but permanent imprint 
on the sum total of the fauna. The extinct animals and lost 
faunas of past ages illustrate the reality of the faunal drift. 

Now, part of Man's influence, where it is inconstant in 
tendency, is of no more import in the long run than the 
internal tides of the fauna ; but it is strikingly true that the 
greater part of his influence ranks with the great secular 
changes. For his interference tends to persist in fixed 
directions, and so impels individuals in the fauna and the 
fauna as a whole upon a definite path along which there is 
no return. So sweeping are the changes wrought by Man 
and so swift are they in their action that they obscure and 


almost submerge the slow march of the other processes of 
nature, and this difference in degree, associated with Man's 
purposefulness, almost inevitably leads to a sharp distinction 
being drawn between nature and man. Where, however, 
this distinction has been emphasized in the following pages 
the contrast is relative and not absolute, it lies between 
wild nature and nature man-controlled; in our land the old 
order of nature has been all but superseded by the new order 
of mankind, but Man himself is still " Nature's insurgent 

This book has been made possible by the labours of many, 
and principally of Scottish naturalists, travellers, historians 
and lawmakers ; their records are the bricks of which the 
structure is built. I recognize and would acknowledge my 
debt to all, instancing as of special value to the student of 
faunal evolution such contributions as were made by the 
late Dr J. A. Harvie-Brown to the past histories of several 
Scottish animals. For myself in particular I am indebted to 
Dr W. Eagle Clarke for hints which led to fruitful investiga- 
tion, and to Mr Oliver H. Wild for several apt illustrations. 

Permission to use figures from published papers was 
granted by Prof. J. Cossar Ewart, F.R.S., Dr R. Stewart 
MacDougall and Mr A. Henderson Bishop ; blocks were 
generously lent by the Councils of the Society of Antiquaries 
of Scotland (Figs, i, 10, 12, 26, 35, 57, 60), and of the 
Highland and Agricultural Society (Figs. 5-9, 13-19, 21, 
72-74, 76, 81-83), by Mr Bruce Campbell (Fig. 23), Mrs 
Comyns Lewer, Editor of The Feathered World (Fig. 24), 
the Council of the Zoological Society of Scotland (Fig. 58), 
and the Trustees of the British Museum (Fig. 68). Full 
reference to the sources of these blocks is made in the 
" List of Illustrations." The Director of the Geological Survey 
of Great Britain allowed the reproduction of an unpublished 
photograph from the Survey Collections (Fig. 56). It is 
a pleasure to record my gratitude to one and all of these. 


As for the remainder of the illustrations, they are from my 
own photographs and drawings, those of animals being based 
for the most part on specimens in the collections of the Royal 
Scottish Museum. The reproduction of this extensive series 
of illustrations was made possible by a very generous grant 
from the Trustees of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities 
of Scotland. 

Most of all, the reader and myself are indebted to my 
wife, Jessie J. Elliot, who has been associated with this 
work from its beginning. She shared in the reading of old 
books and records, has constantly been consulted during the 
development of the theme, read a proof, and is responsible for 
the full index. 

It ought to be added that the material in the pages which 
follow was presented in lecture form to general audiences in 
Aberdeen in December 191 7, as a course under the Thomson 
Lectureship in Natural Science in the United Free Church 

J. R. 

March 1920. 




INTRODUCTORY. ... . . i 


Scotland particularly fitted for our study Methods of enquiry Main 
directions of man's influence. 


The arrival of man Physical condition of Scotland Climate and 
vegetation Animal life. 





General effects of domestication Lines of argument The beginnings 
of domestication. 


The wild ancestors of domestic sheep Primitive Scottish sheep, the 
sheep of Soay and the peat or turbary sheep of Shetland, their early 
recorded histories and primitive characteristics Modern breeds, as 
illustrating changes induced by man Improvement of wool in Scot- 


Native wild cattle : the Urus, its distribution, characteristics and 
domestication Earliest domesticated cattle : the Celtic Shorthorn, its 
introduction, characteristics and domestic status Modern Scottish 
cattle, as exemplifying the influence of man The " Wild White Cattle," 
an offshoot from a domesticated race. 


Native horses Domesticated horses in prehistoric and early historic 
Scotland Influences which have modified the native race Ponies of 
the Hebrides Shetland " shelties " Horses of the mainland : Norse 
influence; " Wild horses "; Breeding and interbreeding in the Middle 
Ages and later The modern Clydesdale. 



The dog, a Neolithic introduction Scottish dogs of the sixteenth 
century The wild boar turned swine : Evidences of the wild boar in 
Scotland ; Domesticated pigs The pigeon, its ancestry and stages of 
domestication in Scotland The barnyard fowl, its Indian ancestry; 
"Scots Greys" and the Scottish "Dumpie" The domesticated goose: 
Evidences of the domestication of the wild Grey Lag in Scotland 
Sundry other domestics. 


Destruction of animal life a primitive necessity its wastefulness a 
development of civilization. 


Extermination of the Lynx, the Brown Bear, and the Wolf Decline of 
the Fox, the Wild Cat and lesser beasts of prey War against Golden 
and Sea Eagles, Kites, Ospreys, lesser Hawks and "ravenois foullis" 
An indirect result of destruction. 


Geese and some lesser Birds Cormorants, Rock-Doves and Kitti- 
wakes The tragedy of the Garefowl The Gannet and the Fulmar 
"Bird-Butter" and Birds' Eggs Fisheries Shell-fisheries. 


Scottish skin exports Fur Fairs Extermination of the Beaver- 
Decrease of Marten and Polecat Rabbits and Hares The Fox, Otter 
and Badger Destruction of Seals and Whales for Oil. 

Rooks and Choughs Rats, Moles and Sparrows Rabbits and Hares 
Red Deer, Squirrels and others The Dipper. 


Disappearance of the Wild Boar The Badger- Game beasts and 

The sins of " collectors "Bird-catching Scottish Pearl fishing. 


General influences Protection by law and its effects. 

Hawking and Hawks The Quarry "Wylde Foulys" in general 
Modern game birds The Deer Forest : Red Deer in the Lowlands ; 
Modes of Deer Protection ; Effects of Deer legislation ; Deer pro- 
tection at the present day; Roe and Fallow Deer Lesser Game, 



Food animals : Beasts and birds ; Fishes of fresh waters ; Sea fisheries ; 
Mollusca and Crustacea Protection of Fur-bearing animals: The 
Rabbit ; Seals Protection of animals as scavengers : Beasts and birds 
of carrion Protection of the farmer's friends. 

Birds "attractive in appearance or cheerful in song." 



Favoured mammals The poets and birds Insects Animal sanctu- 
aries Superstition as a protector: Sacred animals; Scottish super- 
stitions protecting birds and lesser creatures. 



The significance of Introductions Some general results. 
Appearance and spread of the Rabbit Effects of its introduction- 
Failure to acclimatize foreign deer Destructiveness of introductions 
Balance of Nature upset Success depends on an even balance ; some 
foreign examples Some introduced fishes The Medicinal Leech 

The story of the Pheasant in Scotland Introduction and spread of 
the Capercaillie The Great Bustard The Red-legged Partridge- 
Incidental game-birds Some sporting fishes Transportations: fishes, 
game-birds, the Mountain Hare and others. 


The Peacock Birds of bright plumage Gold and Silver Fishes The 
histories of the Fallow and other Deer The American Grey Squirrel 
The return and spread of the Common Red Squirrel The Beaver 
Transported Mollusca " Escapes" A new motive and its warning. 



WITH ANIMAL LIFE . . . .301 



The Lower and Upper Forests of the Peat Nature or Man the 
destroyer Early historical forests Forests in the fifteenth century 
and after. 



The needs of the household : Fuel and Housebuilding Incidents of 
conquest- -Travelling and the merrymen of the woods Wolves- 
Industries and woodland : salt manufacture, ship-building, iron- 
smelting and Scottish "bloomeries" Agriculture and the forest 
"Acts of God" : the raging fire and the whirlwind Final results. 



Physical changes Immediate results The Scottish fauna originally 
a forest fauna General effects on fauna Some individual examples 
Distribution of the Roe Deer, past and present Decline of the Red 
Deer in range and in physique Restriction and extermination of 
Reindeer Scottish Reindeer probably a woodland race History of 
the Elk or Moose in Scotland Conclusions regarding the race 
of Deer Some other forest dwellers : The Urus ; Beasts of prey 
The disappearance of the Common Squirrel, of the Capercaillie, and 
of the Great Spotted Woodpecker Conclusions regarding the effects 
of forest destruction. 



Breaking in of waste land : Extermination of the Great Bustard ; 
Reduction of numbers of Quail and other creatures ; Disappearance of 
Butterflies Reclamation of swamps : Former abundance of marshes ; 
Disappearance of their frequenters and inhabitants ; Extermination 
of Bittern and Crane Interference of civilization : Toll of lighthouses 
and other lights ; Railways and telegraph wires ; River barriers and 
fisheries ; Pollution of rivers and estuaries. 


Vegetable food and feeders : Man creates his own agricultural pests ; 
some illustrations Animal food and insectivorous and carnivorous 
animals : Pests bring their own retribution The refuse of civilization : 
Influence of garbage on animal life. 


Effects upon the spread of animals of canals, of roads and bridges, 
and of railways. 


The habit of selecting a domicile Influence of houses and of towns 
Towns and song Towns and nesting The food habit Faunas of 
civilization : Animals of waterworks and coal-pits. 




Undesirable aliens: Fleas and Bugs; Internal parasites Parasites 
transported with live stock. 




Introduction, prosperity and decline of the Black Rat Alexandrine 
Rat Arrival of the Common or Brown Rat ; colonization of interior, 
abundance and destructiveness Shipworms, Barnacles, and a Sea-Fir. 


The Cricket and Cockroaches Imports with wheat Imports with 
flour Aliens in biscuits, sugar, tobacco, peas and beans. 


The living freight of bananas The apple as a smuggler- -A stowaway 
in the seeds of the Douglas Fir. 

Types transported by vegetables : Cabbages and faunas Imports 
with nursery stocks and living trees With plants of the flower garden 
The tropical fauna of Scottish greenhouses Naturalized Earth- 
worms, Snails, etc. 


W T ood-wasps Timber carries boring creatures A few exceptions ; 

Lizards and the Zebra Mussel Long-horned invaders Other beetle 


Final Remarks : The efficiency of commerce as an importer ; A month's 

arrivals from abroad. 




The influence of man a developing factor A contrast, the ways of 
Nature and Man Main trends of man's influence : Influences tending 
to increase animal life; Influences tending to reduce animal life; In- 
fluences tending to modify structures and habits. 


An increase in numbers An increase in variety The great change. 


Enumeration not the whole story The complex of life: Rabbits and 
vegetation ; Influence of sheep, goats and rabbits ; Gulls and the moor- 


ANIMALS . . . 506 

Recoils on health : Flies and disease ; Rats and disease ; Ague in 
Scotland Recoils on prosperity : Marshes and Liver Rot ; Earth- 
worms; Hive Bees The recoil upon man's character and civilization. 

INDEX . .519 



Frontispiece Contrast between Red Deer of prehistoric times and modern Red Deer 

1. Bone harpoons of Azilian type from Oronsay (Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot., vol. XLVIII, 

1914, p. 97) 7 

2. Elk a former inhabitant of Scotland 15 

3. Old World Lynx 16 

4. Ptarmigan once more common than Grouse in Scotland 18 

5. Mouflon a wild ancestor of domestic sheep ( Trans. High. Agr. Soc. , 191 3, p. 1 2) 36 

6. Soay Sheep a primitive domesticated breed ( Trans. High. Agr. Soc., 1913, p. 20) 38 

7. Turbary or Peat Sheep a primitive domesticated race {Trans. High. Agr. Soc., 
1913. P- *7) 42 

8. Cheviot Sheep a modern result of selective breeding ( Trans. High. Agr. Soc. , 

1915, p. 402) 44 

9. Black-faced Sheep an illustration of development in length of wool (Trans. 
High. Agr. Soc., 1915, p. 402) 48 

10. Front view of skull of Urus (Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot., vol. IX, 1873, P- 650) . 50 
loa. Side view of skull of Urus (Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot., vol. ix, 1873, p. 651) . 50 

1 1. Urus the native wild ox of Scotland (Griffith's Edn. Cuvier's Animal Kingdom, 
1827, vol. iv, p. 411) 53 

12. Horn-sheaths of Celtic Shorthorn, and upper part of skull, with fragments of 
skin and hair attached (Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot., vol. ix, 1873, p. 622) . . 57 

13. Highland Kyloes (Trans. High. Agr. Soc., 1900, p. 167) 61 

14. Aberdeen- Angus bull a highly developed result of domestication ( Trans. High. 
Agr. Soc., 1911, p. 287) 63 

15. Celtic Pony, probably resembles native pony of Scotland (Trans. High. Agr. 
Soc., 1904, p. 249) 71 

16. Hebridean Pony Uist race a primitive breed (Trans. High. Agr. Soc., 1904, 

P- 258) 75 

17. Shetland I'ony (Trans. High. Agr. Soc., 1915, p. 400) . . . . -77 

1 8. Highland Garron probably moulded by Norse influence ( Trans. High. Agr. Soc. , 
i99' P- 379) 81 

19. Clydesdale mare a modern product of selective breeding (Trans. High. Agr. 
Soc., 1915, p. 397) 8 4 

20. Wild Boar and primitive Scottish type of pig . . . . . . 91 

21. Large White Boar finished product of domestication (Trans. High. Agr. Soc., 
'913' P- 38?) 94 

11. Wild Rock Dove 96 

23. Ancient Pigeon-House or "Doo-cot" near Leadburn (Trans. Edinburgh Field 
Nat. and Micr. Soc., vol. VI, 1909, pi. Vi, photo, B. Campbell) . . -99 

24. Scottish breeds of poultry Scots Greys and Scottish Dumpies ( The Feathered 
World, London) 101 

25. Grey Lag Geese a wild species domesticated in Scotland . . . . 103 

26. Skull of Brown Bear from peat-moss in Dumfriesshire (Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot., 
vol. xiii, 1879, p. 362) 112 



27. Brown Bear, a former native of Scotland . . . . . . .113 

28. Wolf a Scottish scourge exterminated about two centuries ago . . 117 

29. Foxes (Vixen and cubs) . 123 

30. WildCat _. --;. .. ';''... ' .... .'. ' . 125 

31. Golden Eagle . 129 

32. White-tailed Eagle or Erne, once common, now practically exterminated in 
Scotland . ' 131 

33. Kite or Gled, once common, now exterminated in Scotland .... 135 

34. Garefowl or Great Auk (once a native of Scotland, now extinct) with its 
solitary egg 143 

35. Bones of extinct Garefowl from kitchen-midden at Keiss, Caithness (Proc. Soc. 
Antiq. Scot., vol. xni, 1879, pp. 78, 79) . .;. .' 145 

36. The decline of Tweed fisheries during fifty years (diagram) . . . .152 

37. European Beaver exterminated in Scotland 157 

38. Pine Marten approaching extinction in Scotland . . . . . .159 

39. Polecat and young approaching extinction in Scotland .... 163 

40. Decline of Polecat, as shown by skins and prices at Dumfries Fur Fair (diagram) 165 

41. Destruction of Rabbits/and Hares, as shown by skins on sale at Dumfries Fur 
Fair (diagram) . . . . . . . . . . . .167 

42. Decadence of "vermin" Wild Cat, Marten and Polecat through twelve years' 
work of one gamekeeper (diagram) 176 

43. "Catching the Badger" from a coloured plate after Alken . . . .185 

44. Artaxerxes Butterfly exterminated on Arthur's Seat . . . . .191 

45. Osprey or Fish Hawk practically exterminated in Scotland . . . .192 
46.. Peregrine Falcon formerly protected for Hawking . : . . . 20 1 

47. Scottish Crested Tit increasing in numbers under protection . . .231 

48. Little Owl an introduction to Britain which has become a nuisance . . 255 

49. Cottony or White Scale attacked by Cardinal Ladybird 2^0 

50. Capercaillie reinstated in Scotland after extermination ..... 269 
jr. Blue or Mountain Hares established in many new areas in Scotland . .281 

52. American Grey Squirrel acclimatized in many parts of Britain . . . 289 

53. Common Red Squirrel a former native of Scotland, reintroduced . . . 291 

54. Some deliberate introductions to Great Britain (diagram) .... 300 

55. Section of peat-moss showing relationship of prehistoric forests (after F. J. Lewis) 306 

56. Remains of Upper Forest of the Peat -roots of Fir Trees laid bare by wastage 

of peat, Findhorn Valley (photo by Geological Survey) 307 

57. Antlers and portion of skull of Red .Deer, unearthed in the Meadows, Edinburgh 
(Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot., vol. xv, 1*881, p. 41) 335 

58. Reindeer formerly natives of Scotland in Scottish Zoological Park (Guide to 
Scottish Zoological 'Park, 1917, photo, F. C. Inglis) 339 

59. Fragmentary Antlers of Scottish Reindeer of Glacial Period, found at Kilmaurs, 
Ayrshire 343 

60. Antlers and portion of skull of Elk, found at Airley wight, Perthshire (Proc. 

Soc. Anliq. Scot., vol. ix, 1873, p. 319) 347 

61. Great Spotted Woodpecker at one period exterminated as a nesting species in 
Scotland 359 

62. Great Bustard formerly a native of Scotland . .... . . 366 

63. Quails once common in Scotland, now r scarce ...... 367 

64. Bittern banished from Scotland with the marshes . . . . 374 

65. Crane a former inhabitant of Scottish marsh-lands . . . . . 375 

66. Colorado Potato- Beetles . . . 387 



67. Rabbits and Cultivation, correspondence between increase of agricultural activity 

and of number of skins of Rabbits on sale at Dumfries Fur Fair (diagram) . 390 

68. Zebra Mussels from a mass of some 90 tons removed from a water-main at 
Hampton-on-Thames (Brit. Mus. Econ. Pamph., The Biology of Waterworks, 
i9'7. P- 25) 4'5 

69. Some alien Cockroaches introduced into Scotland 437 

70. Hessian Fly and seed-like puparia, in which form it was probably introduced 

to Britain 439 

71. Granary Weevil and destroyed wheat . . 441 

72. Piece of Dog Biscuit perforated by Biscuit Beetles (Trans. High. Agr. Soc., 
1917, p. 151) v 444 

73. Beans and Peas damaged by larvae of Bean and Pea Beetles ( Trans. High. Agr. 
Soc., I9f4, p. 180) . . . ,'.-. 446 

74. Bean Beetle (Trans. High. Agr. Soc., 1914, p. 180) . ' . . . .446 

75. Snowy Tree Cockroach frequently imported with bananas ' . .' . . 448 

76. Branch of Apple Tree covered with Apple Mussel Scale ( Trans. High. Agr. 
Soc., 1917, p. 138) 449 

77. Section of damaged apple showing larva of Codlin Moth .... 452 

78. Codlin Moth 452 

79. Douglas Fir Seed Chalcid . . . - . . . . . . 454 

80. Douglas Fir Seeds from Peeblesshire showing escape holes of the parasitic 
Chalcid 455 

8t. Steel-BlueWood-Wasp(^>^^^Vw),male(7Vaj.^z^.^/-.^^.,i9i7,p. 134) 4 68 

82. Steel-Blue Wood- Wasp (Sirex noctilio), female (Trans. High. Agr. Soc., 1917, 

P- 134) 468 

83. Steel-Blue Wood-Wasp eating its way out of a pine stem after emerging from 
pupa stage (Trans. High. Agr. Soc., 1917, p. 134) 468 

84. Timberman Beetles, imported to Aberdeenshire in Norwegian pine logs . . 471 

85. Some chance introductions to Great Britain (diagram) 473 

86. Comparison of surface features of Scotland, before the arrival of man and at the 
present day (diagram) ........... 484 

87. Comparison between the livestock carried by 1000 acres of cultivated and un- 
cultivated land (diagram) . . . . . . . . . . 495 

88. Alteration of moorland by Gulls, West Linton 503 

89. Near view of the same moorland ......... 503 

90. Representation of Recoils on man's health, due to different types of his inter- 
ference with animal life (diagram) . , . 513 


I. Introduction and spread of the Capercaillie in Scotland . . to face p. 272 

II. Distribution of the Mountain Hare in Scotland .... ,, 282 

III. The Spread of the Common Squirrel in Scotland from various centres ,, 292 

IV. Distribution of Scottish " bloomeries " and slag furnaces . . ,, 320 
V. Decline of Red Deer distribution at different periods . . ,, 334 

VI. Influence of man-made obstructions on Scottish Salmon Fisheries ,, 380 

VII. River pollution and fisheries ,, 384 

VIII. Distribution of Ague or Malaria in Scotland in the eighteenth century 508 


I. i 

There be many strange things, but the strangest of them all is MAN.., 
Earth, Mother Earth, is from everlasting to everlasting... but Man 
fretteth and wearieth her; for he putteth his horse to harness, and 
his ploughs go to and fro in the furrow, even as the seasons come 
round. He spreadeth his snares for the silly birds ; he gathereth the 
fishes of the sea in the meshes of his nets. Man surpassing in wisdom. 
By craft he over-reacheth the wild beast upon the mountain, and 
putteth to his yoke the long-maned steed, and the strength of the 
great bison. 

THOMPSON'S Sales Attici (Sophocles). 

SINCE Man came to his own upon the earth, he has 
exercised with little restraint the power of his new 
wisdom over all created things. So widely and deeply has his 
influence spread during the hundreds of thousands of years 
of his wanderings, that it is wellnigh impossible to gauge 
its effects or to distinguish them amidst the workings of 
Nature as a whole. Change is apparent in the interrelation- 
ships of the plants and of the animals of a country with 
the passing of years ; but who can say that here the heavy 
touch of Man alone has fallen, and that there only are subtle 
traces of wild Nature, wrought out through cyclic changes, 
alternations of climate, and through the processes of natural 
evolution in living things ? The complications due to the 
action of contemporaneous natural agencies, together with 
the difficulties of obtaining evidence regarding the earlier 
periods of Man's existence make the ultimate analysis of 
Man's influence on Nature no simple task. 



In some respects Scotland is particularly well fitted for 
our study, mainly owing to its geographical situation and 
geological history. In the first place man arrived at a 
comparatively late date within its borders. There is no 
evidence that the country was inhabited by the human race 
until long after the period of rude stone implements, the 
Old Stone Age, when man was already established in South 
Britain and in the majority of the European countries in the 
same latitude. His influence in Scotland, therefore, is limited 
to the New or Polished Stone Period and succeeding ages, 
distant enough though the first may seem to our modern 
historical view. 

In the second place, Scotland has undergone, and in 
comparatively recent geological times, an experience unlike 
that of neighbouring countries. During the Great Ice Age, it 
was completely buried beneath a continuous ice-sheet, some 
3000 feet thick, which effectually blotted out its earlier plants 
and animals. The Scottish flora and fauna are therefore 
recent acquisitions due to the immigration of living things 
when the ice-sheets were dwindling or after they had entirely 
disappeared. Further, owing to the fact that Scotland has 
for long been bounded on three sides by a broad sea, the 
fauna with which Nature stocked her at the close of the Ice 
Age has remained isolated, suffering, it is true, fluctuations 
which Nature has ordained or man has induced, but un- 
affected by that constant immigration and emigration except 
in a few cases of the more mobile creatures, such as birds 
to which continental countries are constantly liable. 

The original post-glacial fauna of Scotland may be 
likened to a limited capital upon which man has traded. 
So far as he has been satisfied with the natural interest of 
the capital, the capital has remained as it was in the be- 
ginning 1 , but this has seldom been the case. Often he has 
trenched upon it, and at times so deep have been his 
overdrafts that some items of the account have been seriously 
diminished or exhausted. At other times he has added 
afresh to the old capital, but in a new currency of his own 
introduction. Could we but assess the original animal capital 

1 We are here ignoring natural fluctuations. 


which the Neolithic invaders of Scotland had at their disposal, 
a great step would be made towards gaining a basis from 
which to compute the influence of man upon the animal 

In the third place, from its small size Scotland gains 
advantages in such a study ; and this partly because the 
fauna of a small country is more compact, and its changes, 
as a rule, are more readily marked ; and partly because 
Scotland's few degrees of latitude eliminate the possibility 
of temperature barriers, one of the most important and far- 
reaching of the climatic influences which complicate the 
fluctuations of animal life in continental areas. 

And lastly, since the study of Nature gained a firm 
foothold, Scotland has possessed a succession of observers 
and recorders , such as few countries of similar size and 
population can claim, naturalists whose labours form a solid 
foundation for the accurate estimation of the later changes 
in animal life.' 


To enquire into the doings of man is to investigate 
History, and the historical method enters largely into this 
natural history study. The foundation of our enquiry must 
be such records as the past has left us. The chronicled 
history of Scotland begins with the advent of the Romans 
on their northward progress through these islands in the 
first century of our era, but since, at that time and for many 
centuries thereafter, the records of even the great political 
events, of the doings of man with man, are vague and 
unsatisfactory, it need hardly be said that the dealings of 
man with animals seldom encumber the written page. 

Even in the " historic period " therefore, the beaten 
tracks of historical knowledge have to be forsaken, and 
appeal has to be made to the relics man has left in his long- 
forsaken homes, to the casual pictures he has carved, often 
with hand and eye of wonderful skill, to the tales of travellers, 
many from foreign lands, who described the features of 
Scottish animal life which struck their fancy as differing from 
those familiar to them, and to the records of unusually 
outstanding natural phenomena which, on occasion, our 


own political historians of former days condescended to 

But even the sparse and slender guide-posts of early 
chronicled history fail us in the ages (seven thousand years 
or more) which intervened between the coming of man to 
Scotland and the Christian era. Glimpses of this long- 
forgotten past can be gained only by piecing together the 
evidences left by animals and man himself, from bones and 
relics discovered by systematic excavation or by lucky 
chance in beds of marl, in the layers of peat-bogs, in the 
deposits of caves, in the kitchen-middens or refuse food- 
heaps of the. early inhabitants, and in the structures built 
by man for defence, or for interment of his hallowed dead. 

Pictures of Scottish animal life in successive ages 
having been gleaned from these varied sources, simple 
comparison of one with another and with the fauna as it is 
known to-day will reveal the vast changes which have taken 
place. Yet still a problem lies before us that of sifting 
from the totality of change the effects due to the influence 
of man as distinct from the inevitable changes wrought by 
time in all Nature, animate and inanimate. In working out 
this problem reference will be made on occasion in the 
following pages to outstanding cases in other lands which 
help to illustrate man's influence and to explain the effects 
of his dominance in Scotland. 


Man has been described from one point of view as an 
instrument of destruction and from another as a creative 
agent. The truth of the matter as regards his relations 
with Nature is that he is neither all in all a destroyer nor 
a creator, but exercises his powers mainly as a transformer 
and a supplanter. Wherever he places his foot, wild vegeta- 
tion withers and dies out, and he replaces it by new growths 
to his own liking, sometimes transformed by his genius for 
his own use. Where he pitches his tents and builds his 
cities, wild animals disappear, and woodlands and valleys 
where they sported are wrested from their prior owners 
and given over to the art of agriculture and to animals of 
man's own choosing, as well as to a host of camp-followers, 


which attach themselves to his domestication whether he will 
or no. Intentionally and unintentionally, directly and in- 
directly, man transforms and supplants both animal and 
vegetable life. Some animals he deliberately destroys, some 
he deliberately introduces, and the characters of some he 
deliberately transforms by careful selection and judicious 
interbreeding. Other animals find his presence uncongenial 
and gradually dwindle in numbers or disappear, while others 
are encouraged by his activities to increase in numbers, some- 
times even to his own confounding. 

I. 2 


Heir agane sail ye se braid planes, thair wattirrie dales : heir a dry 
knowe, or a thin forrest, thair a thick wodd, all meruellouse delectable 
to the eye throuch the varietie baith of thair situatione, and of the 
thing selfe that thair growis. 

Historic of Scotland by Jhone Leslie, 1578. 

(Dalrymple's Translation.) 

As a preliminary to the detailed consideration of man's 
influence upon Scottish animal life, let us try to picture the 
condition of the country as primitive man found it, when in 
his northward wanderings his communities ventured beyond 
the natural boundary of the Cheviot Hills. Only with such 
a picture at the back of our minds can we hope to realize 
the changes which man has wrought in the passing of time. 
Before trying to gauge the extent of man's trading, we 
must endeavour to assess the capital which Nature placed 
in his hands to begin with. 


Notwithstanding that even in the more distant stages 
of the Early Stone Age, man had travelled dry-shod from 
the land that is now France, across the grassy valley that 
separated the main mass of Europe from its western pro- 
longation which is now the British Isles, there is no sure 
sign that his wanderings in Palaeolithic times ever brought 
him to the southern limit of Scotland. For tens of thousands 
of years he dwelt on the plains of England, leaving his 
handiwork rudely dressed stone implements of various 
types which fall into a long range of stages from the early 
Chellean to the late Magdalenian or Reindeer period- 
scattered over those southern portions which lay clear of 
the heaviest and most persistent ice-fields of the Great Ice 
Age. But the northern portions of these islands, still shrouded 


in their glaciers, offered no attractions to the hunters of the 
Early Stone Age, and the period of the great glaciation 
seems to have long passed away, with its mammoths, woolly 
rhinoceros, musk-oxen, cave-bears and lions, before man 
ventured to follow the retreating glaciers northwards beyond 
the Cheviots. 

The earliest relics of man's handiwork in Scotland 
consist mainly of implements of bone or horn, flattened 
harpoon-heads, with long and well-shaped barbs on both 


Fig. i. Bone harpoons of Azilian type from prehistoric settlement in Oronsay. f nat. size. 

sides, and rough pick-axes carved from the antlers of red- 
deer. Implements of stone and flint-chips, rudely dressed, 
have also been found, but their numbers are too few and 
their characters too indefinite to point clearly to their place 
in the recognized cultural stages of European man. The 
characters of the bone implements (Fig. i) indicate in 
a general way the Azilian period, a stage regarding which 
little is known, although it may be placed at the open- 
ing of the Polished Stone or Neolithic Age, or at any rate 


between that and the definite later stages of the Palaeo- 
lithic epoch. These earliest inhabitants of Scotland were 
hunters, fowlers and fishers. They possessed no domestic 
stock and there is no evidence that they tilled the ground 
or .cultivated corn. Yet their craft furnished a well-stocked 
larder, as their kitchen-middens and other relics in Scotland 
show 1 . They gathered from the sea-shore in great variety 
edible shell-fish crabs, and mollusca such as limpets, whelks 
or buckies, periwinkles, mussels, oysters, cockles, scallops 
and razor-shells. The foreshore and sea-cliffs supplied them 
with many kinds of birds wild-ducks, geese, shags and 
cormorants, great auks, razorbills, guillemots and gannets. 
From coastal waters they obtained dog-fish and rays, sea- 
breams, wrasses and the conger-eel ; and by the river-banks 
and woodland glades they trapped and slew the otter, 
red deer and wild boar. Nor did they disdain the blubber 
and the flesh of whales and dolphins which fortune stranded 
on their coasts, or the seals which basked and bred there in 

Of the personal appearance of the early settlers we can 
form a just estimate from examination of the skulls and 
other bones which have been preserved underground in the 
neighbourhood of their habitations at the MacArthur Cave 
near Oban, or of the relics in the horned and chambered cairns 
which the successors of the Oban fishermen, the men of late 
Polished Stone or Neolithic Age, built in scattered localities 
from Galloway to Caithness and the Orkneys, to protect 
and commemorate their dead. They were a short people, 
their thigh-bones suggesting that the men stood about 
5ft. 4 Jin. high, and the women about 5ft. i in. some 2 or 3 
inches below the standard of a modern Briton. Their lower 
limbs differed from ours and resembled those of some of the 
more primitive races of man at the present day, with thigh- 
bones flattened, shins compressed from side to side, and the 
bones of foot and ankle more compact and stouter all 
adaptations for strong and rapid movement, indicating that 
the people lived an active strenuous life. In facial ex- 
pression, they differed only in small degree from ourselves. 
Their heads and faces were long and narrow, their foreheads 

1 The following account contains references to such animals and plants 
only as have been identified in Scottish deposits of the periods mentioned. 


fuller and rounder than ours, the bridge of the nose and 
nostrils moderately narrow, and their eyes rather narrow and 
elongated. Their jaws were square and their front teeth, 
instead of overlapping as do ours, met firmly edge to edge. 
So regular and healthy were their teeth, a necessity for a 
primitive life, that they show only a wearing down due to 
constant use, and seldom or never any signs of the decay 
or caries which has given rise in our generation to armies of 
dentists and the science of dentistry. 

The earliest traces of these primitive peoples in Scotland 
are associated with the so-called " Fifty-Foot Beach." 
Their canoes, simple dug-outs of pine, have been found at 
Perth in the Carse clays of this period, and frequently in 
similar deposits in the Forth and Clyde valleys. Some of 
their implements were left beside the remains of a whale, 
stranded in these far-off days on a shore which is now part 
of the fertile Carse of Stirling, and, as Dr B. N. Peach has 
pointed out, their kitchen-middens lie along the ridge of the 
Fifty- Foot Beach in the upper reaches of the Forth, never 
occurring in the lower seaward ground a clear indication 
that at the time the refuse heaps accumulated, this Beach 
was the limit of high water whither the kitchen-middeners 
retired to feast upon the shell-fish collected at low tide. 


What, we must ask, was the Scotland in which the 
Azilian or Early Neolithic peoples settled after their wander- 
ings through Britain from the continent of Europe ? As 
compared with its condition at the present day, the land 
was depressed relative to sea-level, all the shore area that 
lies beneath a contour-line varying in -different areas from 
35 to 65 feet being submerged by the ocean. Where the 
coast is bounded by high cliffs, this depression would have 
had little effect on the outlines of the country, but where the 
land shelves gradually to the sea, as in many parts of the 
Moray F'irth and in the great valleys of the Tay, Forth and 
Clyde, the sea made considerable encroachments upon the 
land. So it is that while the Fifty-Foot terrace is generally 
represented on the west coast, as in the islands of Jura and 
Mull, by a comparatively narrow ledge, cut in the cliffs by 


wave action during what must have been an extended 
period of time, the old shore is represented in the midlands 
by the Carse lands of the Forth valley, a fertile plain more 
than three miles wide above Stirling, and extending as far 
as Gartmore, some 1 7 miles beyond that town, and on the 
Clyde by level terraces which can be traced beyond Dalmuir 
on the north and Paisley on the south. 

To the first-comers the inland landmarks of Scotland must 
have appeared almost as they are to-day. The hills and 
valleys had already been carved into their present aspect. 
True, the rivers were swollen in volume and many of the 
lakes, ponded back by the debris of the old glaciers, were 
greater than now, while many low-lying areas, now fertile 
plains, were bogs and marshy flats ; but the ice-fields of 
the Great Glaciation had disappeared, although a recru- 
descence of colder conditions had again clad the mountain- 
tops in snow and filled the higher valleys with moving 
sheets of ice. 


The period during which the Fifty- Foot terrace was 
being carved out or levelled up by the sea was a prolonged 
one, and in it Scotland underwent drastic changes of 
climate. At exactly what stage in the formation of the 
Fifty-Foot Beach man appeared upon our shores, it is im- 
possible to say, but it is certain that the conditions which 
immediately followed the retreat of the great ice-sheet had 
long passed away. The Arctic climate had gradually been 
replaced by one at least as temperate as that of to-day; 
distinctive Arctic plants, such as Arctic Willows (Salix 
repens and polaris], Arctic Birch (Betula nana), Crow- 
berry (Empetrum nigriim], Creeping Azalea (Loiseleuria 
recumbens], and Mountain Avens (Dryas octopetala], all 
of which occurred in late glacial times on low ground at 
Corstorphine in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, had 
deserted the lowland valleys and followed the line of the 
dwindling snowfields to the hill-tops. With the rising 
temperature, forests of Silver Birch, Hazel and Alder clad 
the lowlands and spread up the mountain-sides, at least to 
an elevation of over 1 500 feet above sea-level. 


But these conditions too, had undergone modification 
before the arrival of man in Scotland, for the Fifty- Foot 
Raised Beach, which contains the earliest records of his 
settlements, appears to be contemporaneous with a lower 
succession of layers in our peat-mosses, the plants in which 
indicate a period of decreasing temperature and of increasing 
rainfall. Bogs of sphagnum moss, over which cotton-grass 
waved in abundance, gradually swamped the birch woods 
and buried the decaying trees under thick layers of peat. 
These inhospitable conditions culminated in a return of 
snowfields to the mountain-tops and glaciers to the high 
valleys, and the Arctic plants again crept down the mountain- 
sides. It need not be assumed, however, that the tempera- 
ture which welcomed man to Scotland was very much lower 
than that of the present day, for the fact that even now 
snow-wreaths which are little short of permanent, lie year 
in, year out, in the corries of the higher Grampians and of 
Ben Nevis, indicates that a small fall in temperature would 
be enough to clothe the hill-tops once more with a permanent 
cap of snow and to fill the upper valleys with glaciers. Con- 
ditions so forbidding, however, did not extend to the low- 
lands or the coastal areas where man made his first homes. 
So far as we can judge from the seeds or leaves of plants 
found in lowland deposits contemporaneous with the men 
of the Later Stone Age (thanks to the researches of James 
Bennie and Clement Reid), a rich flora, very similar to that 
of the present day overspread the valleys. The meadows 
were covered with lush grass, chequered by the blossoms 
of buttercups, of spear-thistles, dandelions and sow-thistles, 
of the yellow ox-eye, scentless mayweed, the hemp-nettle 
and St John's wort; on dry banks, coltsfoot, tormentil and 
chickweed flourished ; in, or near by running water grew 
the water buttercup and water blinks, mare's tail and water 
milfoil ; by riversides blossomed valerian, meadow-sweet and 
the red campion; the thickets were starred by the wood- 
sorrel ; the bugle, dog's mercury and dock flourished in the 
shade; the raspberry and bramble vied for a place with the 
wild rose ; and the marshy places were enlivened with a 
wealth of flower and foliage, from the showy ragged robin, 
lousewort, buck bean and marsh marigold to the lesser 
spearwort and marsh violet, pondweeds, rushes and sedges. 


Before man had spent many centuries in our northern 
land, the cold disappeared as unaccountably as it had come, 
the snownelds melted, the land rose from the waves, and, as 
if to make amends for its former rigour, the climate so 
ameliorated that forests of Scots fir spread over the drying 
peat-bogs and extended to an altitude of close on 3500 feet 
up the mountain-sides, where, in our own day, 2000 feet 
marks the upward limit of forest growth. 


What were the creatures which the first inhabitants of 
Scotland found installed in its glades and forests ? For an 
answer we have to enquire of the relics which have been 
cherished for thousands of years in the depths of the marine 
clays, of the fresh-water marls and peat-bogs which were 
contemporaneous with or preceded by a short space the 
coming of man, or even of the food refuse which man him- 
self cast carelessly aside all unthinking that it would reveal 
to his distant successors the animals he encountered and 
overcame. The dregs of these deposits reveal a strange 
mixture of animal types. 

The native inhabitants of Scotland, with the exception 
of the mobile forms, such as birds, had reached Britain from 
the continental areas while the English Channel and a part 
of the North Sea were dry valleys in the western extension 
of Europe. The rigours of the Ice Age and its inhospitable 
glaciers had cleared the land of the preglacial fauna, but as 
the ice disappeared the cold climate of the later phases of 
the Great Ice Age attracted an Arctic fauna, which retreated 
northwards as vegetation sprang up on the heels of the 
shrinking glaciers. The grassy plains which superseded the 
Arctic vegetation of the great flats of clay and hillocks of 
gravel deposited by the ice-fields, led another series of animals, 
creatures of the plains, to make the northward pilgrimage. 
While the forest conditions, which, as we have seen, pre- 
ceded the first peat period and covered the land even up 
to a height of 1 500 feet above sea-level, enticed still another 
series, of woodland forms, there to make their homes. 

Under the conditions prevailing in a continental area 
where the change of climate is gradual, these three types of 


fauna form no permanent stations ; for they pass over such an 
area in waves, forsaking it on a northwards trek as the cold 
retreats, as easily as they entered it from the southward with 
the Arctic conditions. But Britain stands in a different case 
from such continental areas. Scarcely had the last of the 
immigrant contingents crossed from the main mass of their 
fellows on the continent, than the gradual sinking of the land 
relative to the sea led to the submergence of the valleys of 
the North Sea and of the English Channel, so that, as a 
twelfth century troubadour quaintly sings of the latter, 

That famous stretch of fertile land 

Is hidden now by sea and sand, 

No more will its venison grace the dish, 

The ancient forest yields nought but fish. 

So the immigrants to Britain were cut off from access to the 
continent of Europe. The result of this isolation is plainly 
to be seen in the strange assemblage of animals which 
greeted man on his arrival in Scotland. The Arctic creatures, 
the beasts of the plains, and the forest lovers, each ranging 
northwards as the conditions which had attracted them 
ebbed towards the north, were checked in their migration 
by the sea-walls of northern Britain, and as a consequence 
were compelled to make the best of the changes of climate 
and vegetation which overtook them. Some, unable to adapt 
themselves to unusual climes, had died out before the coming 
of man, but representatives of each group remained to in- 
dicate the successive changes of Scottish conditions in the 
days before man. 

It is not to be expected that the peat-bogs and other 
deposits should furnish a complete synopsis of the fauna, 
partly because the bones of the smaller animals are more 
liable to disappear through the ordinary processes of decay, 
and partly because the deposits have only in a very few 
cases been systematically examined with the investigation 
of their animal content in view; so that we have to be satisfied 
with identifications of the remains which have appealed most 
to the utilitarian excavators of peat and marl, usually the 
bones of the larger animals. Even so we can furnish a fair 
view of the general aspect of the animal life. 

Imagine that from our fourteen million acres of culti- 
vated land and mountain grazings the domestic stock had 


disappeared, that this acreage was given over to forest and 
wastes, and that over this wild area the present-day denizens 
of our mountain heaths and tiny woods spread in full posses- 
sion. A picture arises of an old Scotland in which the wild 
creatures, freed from a hopeless competition with man's 
methods and advances, assorted themselves on mountain-side 
and plain, in the meadows and in the forests, as their natures 
determined and not as man decreed. But even such a picture 
is far from complete ; for the present-day fauna is not the old 
fauna. Many additions have to be made and some subtrac- 
tions, if our picture of the old times is to approach accuracy. 

The fauna that greeted man was a rich one. In the 
meadows browsed the Reindeer, from southern Dumfries- 
shire to Caithness and even in Rousay in the Orkneys. 
It has long since vanished from our fauna, and is now con- 
fined to the northern portions of the Old and New Worlds. 
In its company the Giant Fallow Deer or so-called "Irish 
Elk" (Megctceros giganteus} may still have lingered in the 
southern districts, though its latest Scottish remains appear 
to have been contemporaneous with the marl deposits which 
preceded the formation of the great peat-mosses in our lakes. 
The Wild Horse probably still scampered over the plains 
of the southern lowlands, disturbing there the herds of the 
great Wild Ox (Bos taurus primigenius}, which spread 
throughout the length and breadth of the land. Under 
tussocks of grass, Northern Voles (Aruicola or Microtus 
ratticeps], now extinct in Britain, made their nests in the 
company of the Common Hare and perhaps also of the last 
Scottish representatives of the Arctic Lemming (Myodes 
torquatus\ whose bones have been found in an Arctic de- 
posit near Edinburgh, and in the Bone Cave of Inchna- 
damph in West Sutherland. To-day the first is found from 
northern Europe and Asia southwards to Hungary; while 
the last is confined to the central mountains of Scandinavia, 
whence its migrations have been a source of wonder to 
naturalists for many a century. In the wilds, the Mountain 
or Variable Hare made its home, and in its spring and 
autumn colour-change it still betrays its former association 
with Arctic conditions. 

Great variety of life lurked in the shade of the forests. 
The largest of existing deer, the Elk (A Ices alces] (Fig. 2) 



was common in the Lowlands, especially in the Tweed valley, 
where its remains have been found on many occasions. 
Once it ranged from Wigtownshire to Strath Halladale in 
northern Sutherlandshire, but its scanty numbers are now 
confined to the woodland regions of northern Europe. Of 
other forest deer, Red Deer of large size (see Frontispiece), 
with magnificent antlers, sometimes bearing twenty-two 
points, were abundant throughout the country from Wig- 
townshire to Caithness and even in the distant Orkney and 

Fig. 3. Old World Lynx. | natural size. 

Shetland Islands, whence they have long since disappeared. 
Their degenerate descendants on the mainland are now 
confined to the waste Highlands north of the valley of the 
Forth and Clyde. Roe Deer, on the other hand, judging from 
the few remains which have been unearthed, were scarce; 
nevertheless, they must have been widely distributed, for 
their bones have been found in a peat-bog at Shaws, 
Dumfriesshire, as well as in a kitchen-midden, probably 
of Neolithic date, on the mainland of Shetland. In the 
thickets, the Wild Boar was plentiful, and occasional bones 
tell of the presence of the nocturnal Badger. By the river- 


banks, Otters were to be found, and the European Beaver, 
whose last surviving colonies linger on in a few localities 
in Scandinavia, Russia, Germany and Austria, ranged from 
Dumfriesshire at least as far north as the parish of Kinloch 
in Perthshire. 

Many beasts of prey followed upon the trail of the 
creatures of the forests and plains. A few survivors of 
the European Lynx (Lynx lynx), now all but exter- 
minated except in Scandinavia, still awaited in Scotland 
the coming of man, for the remains of this species have 
been found by Dr Peach and Dr Home in a Bone Cave at 
Inchnadamph in Sutherlandshire 1 associated with relics of 
human habitation. In the same cave, a tooth of a Brown 
Bear (Ursus arctos) was discovered, but the distribution of 
the Bear in Scottish woods must have been a wide one, 
for a well-preserved skull was unearthed many years ago in 
a peat-bog at Shaws in Dumfriesshire, and an eye-tooth was 
once found in a Caithness broch. Of the larger beasts of 
prey, Wolves were the most common, and because of their 
abundance the most dangerous, and amongst the lesser 
carnivores the Common Fox, Stoat and Weasel shared in 
the smaller prey of the woodlands and meadows. 

1 1 goes without saying that great variety of birds inhabited 
the country, but their remains, owing to their small size, 
have seldom been recovered from the early deposits, and 
have still less often been identified with certainty. We know 
that on the moorlands the Ptarmigan (Fig. 4), of Arctic origin, 
was abundant, for the bones of hundreds of individuals oc- 
curred in the Inchnadamph cave, where they far surpassed 
in number the relics of their fellows, the Red Grouse. The 
Raven occupied lowland areas which it has long since 
deserted, and the Great Auk, now extinct, tenanted the 
Northern and Western Isles at least as far south as Oronsay, 
where its remains have been found in an early Neolithic or 
Azilian kitchen-midden. The same refuse-heap yielded re- 
mains of many sea and shore birds which occur in Scotland 
at the present day, such as the Cormorant and Shag, Gan- 
net, Guillemot and Razorbill, Gulls, Terns, Wild Ducks, 
W T ild Geese, the Redbreasted Merganser and the Water 

1 The identification of the animal remains from this interesting cave 
was made by Mr E. T. Newton, F.R.S., formerly of the Geological Survey. 


Rail. But the peat-bogs of Scotland have not yet revealed 
that wealth of bird-life which has been recovered from the 
peat-bogs and superficial deposits of England, knd which 
includes amongst others, the Crow, Snowy Owl, Golden 
Eagle, Buzzard, Pelican, Wild Swan, Eider Duck, Great 

Fig. 4. Ptarmigan once more common than Grouse in the valleys 
of Sutherland, f natural size. 

Crested Grebe, Coot, Bittern, Crane and Capercaillie. 
Yet we know from later prehistoric and early historic evi- 
dences that many of these certainly occurred at a later date 
in Scotland also, and had probably already been established. 
As for the smaller fauna, insects must have been plenti- 


ful, but their remains, apart from multitudes of wing-cases 
of beetles, have not been recognized in the early deposits. 

In the lakes, and possibly still in the rivers was abundance 
of the red-bellied Char whose present-day descendants have 
been imprisoned by succeeding changes of climate and 
conditions in a few of the deeper lakes; and the fresh waters 
swarmed with hosts of smaller fry, Crustaceans, Wheel- 
animalcules or Rotifers, Water-bears or Tardigrades, and 
such like, on which Char and Trout and migrant Salmon 
made comfortable diet. 

Of the denizens of the seas which bounded the Scotland 
of early man, we have little direct evidence, but such as it 
is, it indicates a temperate marine fauna very similar to that 
of the present day. Apart from the contents of the estuarine 
deposits contemporaneous with the Fifty-Foot Beach, we 
have to depend on the refuse which Neolithic man accumu- 
lated in his kitchen-middens in different parts of the country. 
These, however, afford proof of a wonderfully varied sea- 
fare. The earliest inhabitants of Britain, the hunters and 
fishermen of the Oronsay shell-mound, varied their diet, as 
Mr Henderson Bishop's recent researches show, with many 
species of marine mammals, fishes, Crustacea and molluscan 
shell-fish. In the refuse-heaps have been found remains of 
a species of Dolphin, of the Common Seal {Phoca vitulina], 
and of the Grey Seal (Halickcerus grypus] which still occurs 
on the rocky shores of the Outer Hebrides; but very rarely 
on the coasts of the mainland and on the Inner Islands. Of 
fishes, eight species have been preserved, such as the Conger 
Eel (Conger conger], the Black Sea Bream (Canthams linea- 
tus], the Sea Bream (Pagellus centrodontus], the Spotted 
Wrasse (Labrus maculatus], the Angel Fish (Squatina 
squatinci}, the Tope (Galeus canis), the Spiny Dog-fish 
(Squalus acantkias), and the Thornback Ray (Raia clavata], 
Only two species of Crabs were found the Common Edible 
Crab (Cancer pagurus] and the Swimming Crab or Fiddler 
(Porhtnus puber], but enormous heaps, containing thousands 
upon thousands of molluscan shells, yielded a long list of 25 
marine species, all of which are common on the West Coast 
at the present day. The molluscan fauna of Scottish seas, 
however, was not absolutely identical with that of to-day. 
For example, in a shell-mound composed of refuse from 


human meals, near Ardrossan on the Ayrshire coast, there 
have been discovered many specimens of a top shell, Trochus 
lineatus, which is now extinct in the Firth of Clyde. The 
contents of other kitchen-middens show that other species, 
such as Oysters, were common in localities where they no 
longer occur, and that, on the whole, the forms used by 
Neolithic man for food were larger than their present-day 
representatives in the same neighbourhood. 

Probably too, the Neolithic seas of Scotland swarmed 
with herds of the larger mammals, such as can scarcely be 
imagined near our coasts, now that man has persecuted and 
slaughtered for centuries. At any rate, remains of Finner 
Whales (Balanoptera) have been found in the Carse clays 
to the west of Stirling, in some cases associated with imple- 
ments of man's creation, and in situations many miles west 
of any point accessible to whales, even were they likely to 
venture nowadays towards the head of the Firth of Forth. 
Nor can it be doubted that Seals of various species bred on 
many islands and rocky portions of the coast-line which they 
have long deserted, and that the Walrus, half a dozen 
individuals of which were seen at different times on the 
coasts of Scotland and its isles even so late as the first half 
of the nineteenth century, was in Neolithic times a frequent 
visitor, and may even have bred on the northern coasts. 


Partial and incomplete as our survey of early Scotland 
must be, it yet affords a reasonably accurate picture of the 
country when Neolithic man the long-headed, square- 
jawed, short but agile-limbed hunter and fisherman 
founded his most northern settlements in the British Isles 
9000 or more years ago. It was a country of swamps, low 
forests of birch, alder and willow, fertile meadows and snow- 
capped mountains. Its estuaries penetrated further inland 
than they now do, and the sea stood at the level of the 
Fifty-Foot Beach. On its plains and in its forests roamed 
many creatures which are strange to the fauna of to-day 
the Elk and the Reindeer, Wild Cattle, the Wild Boar 
and perhaps Wild Horses, a fauna of large animals which 
paid toll to the European Lynx, the Brown Bear and the 


Wolf. In all likelihood, the marshes resounded to the boom 
of the Bittern, and the plains to the breeding calls of the 
Crane and the Great Bustard. Yet the naturalist of the 
present day, could he be transported back to these far times, 
would notice strange blanks in the fauna. Many of the pests 
of our modern crops and woodlands were absent, for civiliza- 
tion and the easy communication of later ages have brought 
multitudes of noxious insects and other plagues in their 
train. We can scarcely imagine the golden days when the 
crops of the husbandman were free from the ravages of the 
Rabbit, and his stores secure from the depredations of Rats. 
Yet so these were, for, with many another nuisance, man 
introduced these pests, as he did also his domestic Oxen and 
Horses, Sheep and Goats, Dogs and Cats, domestic Fowls 
and Pheasants, in times that followed on the discovery of 
the new land of Caledonia. 





THE deliberate interference of man with the wild crea- 
tures which possessed the land before him has become 
more and more marked with the passing of time and the 
development of civilization. In the primitive days, of the 
simple hunter and fisherman, when the population of the 
country was limited by the numbers of wild animals and 
plants available for food and clothing, the effect of this 
interference was at its lowest. The discovery of even a 
primitive cultivation of the soil resulted in a regular increase 
of food supplies and a consequent increase of population. 
This was followed by the discovery that certain wild animals 
could be brought under the yoke to become man's coadjutors 
in the task of tilling the soil, or could be reared as a depend- 
able source of food; and this discovery led again to a new 
and great increase in numbers of the human race. To the 
needs of this vast and still multiplying population, far out- 
numbering the stock which a wild country could support, 
can be traced most of the influences which have played 
directly upon animal life in Scotland. Domestic stock had 
perforce to be increased in numbers, its useful qualities 
improved ; the undefended flocks and herds had to be pro- 
tected from beasts and birds of prey and smaller vermin, 
against which a war of destruction and often of extermina- 
tion had to be waged. Other creatures of the wilds were 
slaughtered for the value of their carcases as food, or their 
pelts as clothing; others again were introduced or protected 
because of the services they rendered man as a grower of 
crops, or of the pleasures they afforded him as a sportsman. 
The following chapters endeavour to trace the main effects 
of man's direct interference with animal life in Scotland, 
though it must be kept in mind that there can be no direct 


interference without indirect results, for, since by Nature's 
laws the animal world is no loose aggregate of living things, 
but a closely woven fabric of interdependent lives, man's 
crude meddling many a time brings in its train changes he 
little thought of, his snapping of a thread in the fabric 
deranges more than he could have dreamed, the pattern of 
the whole. 



THROUGH long ages man wandered upon the plains 
of the Old World, content if he could meet the needs 
of the day by the primitive arts of the chase and of fishing. 
Much experience had been gathered by the race of men 
before the irresponsible hunter and fisherman settled down 
to the responsibilities of the herdsman. Nevertheless so 
many years have gone since our common domestic animals 
were led by the hand of man from the wilds to the fold, that, 
as the learned Dr Campbell admitted long ago, "it is no easy 
Matter to penetrate so far through the Gloom of Antiquity 
as to discern any Thing distinc.tly on this Head." Yet it is 
easy to imagine that the breaking in of animals for his own 
use raised civilized man from the slough of barbarism, in 
which still flounder those races to whom the art is even now 
unknown. By the labour of his Oxen, land beyond his own 
powers of cultivation was brought under crops; his Horses 
relieved him of the tedium of the march and transported his 
goods to fresh fields; his Sheep supplied him with clothing; 
and the constant presence of his flocks and herds banished 
the distractions of the morrow's food supply. So his mind, 
freed from immediate anxieties, turned to new pursuits, and 
the care of his living possessions stimulated a sense of 
responsibility and a sympathy with and forethought for their 
welfare and improvement. 

No influence has been more potent in changing the 
surface features of Scotland and in altering the relationships 
of the wild life of the country than this forethought bred of 
the care of domesticated animals. To supply his stock with 
pastures, man has levelled forests, drained swamps, and 
turned the wildernesses of mountain and moor into fertile 
grazings. To gain for them scope and security, he has 
restricted the wild fauna and has destroyed beasts and birds 


of prey, which once found easy victims throughout the 
length and breadth of the land. But these results followed 
indirectly upon the attainment of domestication and the 
gradual increase of domesticated animals, so that they may 
be more properly dealt with in a future chapter. The direct 
influence of man, with which we are more immediately con- 
cerned here, is limited to the effects he has wrought in the 
animals he has brought under control, to the changes of 
temperament and habit, of structure and of function which 
by long ages of careful breeding and selection he has induced 
in the creatures which he chose to share the land with him. 


It is generally agreed that the greater share in the original 
domestication of animals was accomplished by the Aryan 
races of the Old World, though the American Indians brought 
under subjection the alpaca and the llama, the guinea-pig and 
muscovy duck, and possessed a host of cultivated plants, in- 
cluding some of such importance, as maize, potatoes, tomatoes, 
kidney beans, pineapples and strawberries, tobacco, quinine, 
cascara sagrada and cocaine, cotton and rubber. It is also 
generally stated that our familiar domestic animals were first 
broken in in that convenient home of mysteries the East 
and that thence they were carried by the Neolithic peoples in 
their wanderings across western Europe. It seems probable, 
however, that there may have been many centres of domes- 
tication in countries where wild Oxen and Horses, wild Boars 
and Sheep, wild Geese, Ducks and Pigeons were common. 
At any rate, in the case of Scotland, there is evidence that 
the early domesticated animals were half-wild creatures, 
roaming at large in the woods and on the hills, exposed to 
peculiarities of soil and climate, and in some cases to ad- 
mixture of blood with the wild representatives of their races. 
So that, even if our domestic herds and flocks sprang from 
stock transported by the men of the New Stone Age from 
the continent of Europe before the English Channel yet 
existed, they must soon have assumed distinctive territorial 
characteristics. That in these later days of careful and 
selective breeding, Scottish domestic animals possess features 
of their own is shown by breeds of such world-wide repute 
as Clydesdales amongst horses, Aberdeen-Angus, Ayrshires 


and Galloways amongst cattle, Cheviots and Black-faces 
amongst sheep. These distinctive features, it need scarcely 
be said, are due to the deliberate influence of man; and so 
great changes has he wrought by his forethought and experi- 
menting that in the realm of domestic animals he may almost 
be looked upon as playing the role of creator. 

In endeavouring to illustrate the influence of man on 
domestic animals from the Scottish point of view, it is 
desirable that we limit ourselves to the discussion of such 
creatures as inhabited the country on his arrival, or such as 
show characters peculiarly Scottish. A few of the wild 
creatures he almost certainly domesticated within our own 
borders, while of the remaining domestics he most likely in- 
fluenced some from the time of their arrival, even if they did 
not form a native nucleus of his domestic stock. 

The changes in the habits and temperaments, functions 
and structures of the creatures subjugated by man, will be 
most easily appreciated by a comparison of these character- 
istics, so far as they can be estimated, in the wild prototypes 
and in their later domestic modifications. 


The domestication of wild animals must have been a slow, 
and in its early stages, to a great extent, an involuntary 
process. Probably it began along one line with the con- 
gregating of certain kinds of animals in the vicinity of 
inhabited sites, where they found an abundant and constant 
supply of food in the refuse cast by primitive man on his 
kitchen-middens. In the case of the less dangerous animals, 
these encroachments would gradually be tolerated by the 
human inhabitants, partly because familiarity breeds con- 
tempt, and partly because of the value of the raiders in 
removing evil-smelling garbage. We can easily imagine 
steps whereby some form of Wolf or Jackal, through associa- 
tion and growing familiarity with man, became a sort of 
half-tolerated, half-domesticated Pariah Dog, driven aside 
half-heartedly by man, but constantly returning to feed on 
the refuse of the streets ; and from this a further step which 
led to its definite recognition as a constant and valuable 
companion which might be trained to subserve the purposes 
of its guardian, and on account of its usefulness became 
worthy of some care and protection. 


Along another line and with another kind of creature, 
domestication may have arisen from the chance capture of 
young animals, which, treated in the first instance as pets, 
became closely associated with their captors' families] feeding 
and' even breeding in semi-captivity, so that they too in the 
course of a few generations fell into the ways of domesticated 

Although it is generally stated that the domestication of 
animals began with the men of the Neolithic or Polished 
Stone Age, recent investigations indicate that even in the 
later stages of the Palaeolithic cultures, a few animals may 
have been trained to definite uses. At Saint Marcel, Indre, 
in deposits containing relics of Magdalenian culture, was 
found a stone pendant bearing on one side the representation 
of a deer, probably a Reindeer, at a gallop, and on the other 
side lines which represent very fairly the runners and cross- 
stays of a sledge. It seems no unwarrantable assumption 
to regard the figures on the two sides as related to each 
other, for Palaeolithic engravers frequently carried their 
artistic motives around the surfaces of the bones or antlers 
on which they worked. So it has been surmised that the 
Magdalenians had led the Reindeer captive, and harnessed 
it to a sledge. Other Palaeolithic sculptures have been 
discovered in France, whereon representations of wild Horses 
bear lines round nostrils and neck and other markings, which 
have been interpreted by M. Piette as halters and rude 
harness. It seems possible, therefore, that the secrets of 
the domestication of animals had been tapped before Neolithic 
man made his great conquest of the animal world. 

The earliest inhabitants of Scotland seem to have 
possessed no domestic animals ; for the shell-mounds of the 
Azilian or early Neolithic settlers in Oronsay yielded traces 
of none to the careful examinations of Mr Henderson Bishop 
and Mr Ludovic Mann, notwithstanding that abundance of 
bones of wild creatures, including those of Red Deer, Boar, 
Otter and several species of marine mammals, were dis- 
covered. But Oronsay is an island lying in the western seas, 
and it may be said that its isolation nullifies any conclusions 
regarding domestic stock drawn from its relics, since it would 
be impossible to transport animals of any size across the 
straits that separate the island from the mainland. While 
it must be admitted that the ultimate decision as to the first 


appearance of domestic animals in Scotland must rest upon 
detailed investigations on the mainland, it seems to me that 
the evidence afforded by Oronsay cannot be ignored, for ex- 
cavations by Mr Symington Grieve in the neighbouring and 
contiguous island of Colonsay have shown that at an early 
period Sheep and Oxen were familiar to the inhabitants. 
Yet remains of Oxen are absent from the oldest deposit in 
Colonsay. (See Table, p. 33.) 

The mainland yields scanty evidences of the status of 
the animals of early Neolithic times, but here also the 
indications are against the presence of domestic stock. 
Antlers of Red Deer, dressed by man, have been found 
associated with stranded Whales in the Carse of Stirling and 
near Kincardine-on-Forth, but no implement manufactured 
from a bone of any domestic animal has been recovered. 
In the upper bone layer of the Bone Cave of Allt nan 
Uamh, near Inchnadamph, Sutherlandshire, Dr Peach and 
Dr Home found traces of man's presence, in burnt stones, 
hearths, burnt and split bones, and sawn antlers of Reindeer. 
In the same deposit with these were remains of many wild 
animals including Red Deer and Reindeer, but no trace of 
domestic animals. I mention Deer in particular because, if 
early Neolithic man could catch these swift and wary animals 
for food, there is little likelihood that domestic animals, had 
they been known, would have escaped. Similar testimony may 
be gathered from some of the earliest kitchen-middens. In the 
Bone Cave at Duntroon, Argyllshire, in an extensive shell- 
mound buried 1 2 feet below the surface on the promontory of 
Stannergate near Dundee, and in a kitchen-midden found at 
a depth of 4 feet near the North Sutor, Cromarty, remains of 
Red Deer have been found, associated in the last case with 
antlers of Roe Deer, but in no case with traces of domestic 
animals. The food refuse in the places mentioned, which have 
been chosen in widely separated areas, represent the accumu- 
lations of long ages of human occupation, and it seems fair to 
suppose that had domestic animals been known, some relics of 
their existence could scarcely have avoided a last resting-place 
in the kitchen-midden. The absence of such evidences is the 
more striking when it is recalled that there are not wanting in 
the same neighbourhoods similar but later deposits yielding 
abundant proof of the presence of many domestic creatures. 

That the people of the later Neolithic period were well 


acquainted with the majority of our present-day types of 
domestic animals is abundantly clear from the bones which 
have been found in the chambered or horned cairns; but at 
what precise stage of Neolithic culture these were introduced 
or subjugated is difficult to decide, owing to the impossibility 
of placing such heterogeneous deposits as kitchen-middens 
in a connected chronological sequence. One point seems 
tolerably clear, however, that all our domestic animals did 
not appear in Scotland at one and the same time. I have 
gathered a definite impression from examination of the 
records of kitchen-middens of Neolithic date that while 
the remains of Oxen, Sheep and Pigs are common and are 
often found together, those of the Horse and Dog are either 
rare or absent. But this may be partly accounted for by 
the different frequencies with which the animals were 
used as food. The evidence most satisfactory in dealing 
with such a question is that derived from long occupied 
sites of human habitation, where excavations have been 
carefully planned and carried out with the object of inter- 
preting the separate periods of occupation indicated by 
distinct layers of debris. Such excavations afford most 
valuable chronological information, but unfortunately few 
Neolithic sites in Scotland have been investigated with the 
necessary precision. One series of excavations may be 
cited Mr Symington Grieve's explorations in the shell- 
mound of Caisteal-nan-Gillean on Oronsay and in the Crystal 
Spring Cavern of Colonsay on account of the actual in- 
formation it yields, and as an illustration of the method 
which will decide the sequence of the introduction of domestic 
animals and of prehistoric culture in general. Mr Grieve's 
researches show that in both the shell-mound and the 
neighbouring cave, distinct layers or periods of occupation 
can be traced in the deposits, and that the formation of the 
shell-mound was begun and completed some time before the 
cave settlement was formed. The two together, therefore, 
supply a series of successive strata covering a long period 
which begins in early Neolithic times. Moreover, since 
passage dryshod can now be made between Colonsay and 
Oronsay at low tide, and since even in Neolithic times their 
separation could only have been slight, the two islands may 
be regarded as a geographical unit from a faunistic point of 



What information do the strata yield? Mr Grieve dis- 
tinguishes three series of layers lower, middle and upper 
in both accumulations. The lower layer in the mound 
is the oldest, and obviously the superimposed layers in the 
shell-mound, and following upon that, in the cave, belong 
to more and more recent periods of occupation. 

When man first arrived in Colonsay, domestic animals 
were absent, but Red Deer were abundant, although they 
became scarcer with the continued presence of man. Their 
bones are plentiful in the lowest layer of the shell-mound, but 
decrease in number in the middle and upper layers, while 
only one fragment of an antler was discovered in the cave, 
and that in the lowest stratum. Along with the Red Deer 
occurred the Wild Boar, which also became extinct, so far 
as we can gather, before the later strata were formed. It is 
represented by several bones throughout the mound but 
occurs only in the lowest stratum of the cave. The Sheep 
seems to have been the first domestic animal introduced, for 
it is represented by a single bone in the highest layer of the 
shell-mound, and its* remains become common in the layers 
of the cave. Then followed the Ox, in the middle and upper 
layers of the cave, where some bones were found embedded in 
the stalagmite which encrusted the cave floor. Lastly came 
the Horse, represented by bones solely in the upper stratum 
of the cave and on the surface of the floor. No traces of the 
Dog were found. 

The results of this very interesting excavation may be 
scanned at a glance in a simple tabular statement : 




Wild Boar 




Crystal Spring (Upper 

X X 



Cavern, -JMiddle 


X X 

Colonsay (Lower 




Caisteal-nan- (Upper 




Gillean, ^Middle 

X X 


Oronsay " (Lower 



x present. xx common. 

xxx abundant. blanks indicate absence. 


No excavation on the mainland has afforded so complete 
a series of successive occupations of early date. In the three 
layers of the MacArthur Cave discovered near Oban in 1 894, 
a site of very early Neolithic culture, the bones of Oxen were 
found at all levels, those of the Pig in the lowest and highest 
strata and those of the Dog in the highest layer. In a rock- 
shelter near West Kilbride in Ayrshire, described in 1879, 
three floors of occupation were also distinguished ; bones of 
Sheep, Oxen and Red Deer were found at all levels, the re- 
mains of a Dog were discovered between the oldest and 
middle floors, and those of a Horse between the middle and 
most recent floors. Goat remains were also found, but their 
definite location in the series of deposits was not noted by 
the excavators. Professor Clelland of Glasgow University, 
who examined the animal remains, came to the conclusion 
that the earliest inhabitants of this rock-shelter used the 
Sheep as food. 

There are many difficulties in the way of drawing definite 
conclusions regarding the appearance of domestic animals, 
from such observations as have been made. The sequence 
on an island such as Colonsay may not apply to the mainland; 
for various reasons, the remains of some animals may find 
their way more readily into the kitchen-midden than those 
of others; and there is difficulty in distinguishing between 
the bones of the early domesticated animals and their wild 
representatives. But my own opinion, founded on such 
evidence as I have been able to gather, is that the domestic 
animals which first appeared in Scotland were Sheep and 
Oxen, and of these the Sheep was probably the earlier. Then 
followed in doubtful sequence the Dog, the Pig, the Goat, and 
perhaps last of the larger domestic animals, the Horse. The 
domestication of the Pigeon, Duck and Goose, and the intro- 
duction of poultry and other foreign fowls belong to a period 
much later than the Neolithic Age when all the larger and 
more important domestic animals made their appearance. 
In the succeeding pages, I propose to indicate the changes 
which man has wrought in the domestic animals which are 
most interesting from the Scottish standpoint. 

II. I 


ALTHOUH a large-horned wild sheep (Ovis savini] was a 
native of Eastern England in the early days of the Great 
Ice Age, no remains of sheep have been found in the inter- 
glacial deposits of Scotland, nor in the post-glacial beds 
of clay, marl mosses and peat-hags which were formed 
ere Neolithic man reached the northern confines of Britain. 
This absence of remains may in part be accounted for by the 
fact that sheep in a wild state prefer rocky fastnesses, and 
are little likely to have been entrapped in the bogs which 
yield so many skeletons of deer and wild oxen ; but so far as 
fossil evidence goes, it seems probable that sheep were absent 
from the host of animals which invaded Scotland when the 
ice-fields of the Pleistocene Age disappeared, and were 
unknown in the country until they were introduced by 
herdsmen of Neolithic culture. Nevertheless the sheep of 
Scotland present so many interesting and unique features, 
and have been, even since the Middle Ages, so famous for 
their wool, that, as Bishop Leslie said of them in the sixteenth 
century, they may "nocht be slipit over with silence." 

The uniqueness of Scottish sheep lies in that in the 
small compass of our northern kingdom there survive two 
forms of outstanding interest types of the earliest known 
domesticated stocks. In other countries these early races 
have disappeared owing to improvement and continued cross- 
breeding, so that the modern breeds give only the vaguest 
hints as to their wild ancestors. But in the fastnesses of 
Scotland, in the uninhabited isle of Soay in the North 
Atlantic, and in the isolated Shetlands, there still exist two 
breeds which are living links with the past that in the former 
being a close relative of the Wild Mouflon of Corsica and 
Sardinia, that in the latter representing the domesticated 
"peat sheep" which the Neolithic peoples made familiar over 
the greater part of Europe. 




The wild blood which has gone to form our Scottish breeds 
seems to be mainly that of the Mouflon (Ovis ^musimori) 
(Fig. 5), the last wild remnants of which are confined to 
Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily, and of the Asiatic Urial (Ovis 
vignei]. These wild species more resemble goats than sheep 
as we are accustomed to think of them. They are extremely 
active and agile, moving from one ledge to another when pur- 

Fig. 5. Mouflon a wild ancestor of domestic sheep, y 1 ^ nat. size. 

sued, with such sureness and rapidity that they are almost un- 
approachable. In both species the rams carry heavy, wrinkled 
horns which curve backwards and then down and forwards 
in a fine regular sweep, but while the ewes of the Mouflon 
are hornless, those of the Urial bear short upright goat-like 
horns. Differences in size and colour also distinguish the 
two species: the Mouflon race stands 27^ inches at the 
shoulder, the Urial 32 inches; while in both the hair on the 
body is short and close with a thick underwool, the general 


colouring of the Mouflon is foxey-red and that of the Urial 
reddish-grey or fawn in summer, and in winter greyish-brown. 
In both, the under parts of the body, the sides of the short 
tail, the rump and the lower parts of the legs are white. In 
both species also, the rams bear a short mane on the neck 
and a goat-like beard, but the beard of the Mouflon is con- 
fined to the lower part of the throat and chest, while that 
of the Urial extends from the chin to the chest and in old 
rams is white in front and black behind. 

In what respects has man influenced these creatures of 
nature in adapting them for his own use? 


The sheep of Soay (Fig. 6, p. 38) may be regarded as an 
early stage in the domestication of the Mouflon, though in 
the characters of some of the ewes and in the offspring which 
he has raised by cross-breeding, Professor J. Cossar Ewart 
detects an admixture of Urial blood. Indeed the sheep of 
Soay may be taken as an illustration of how little the habits 
and characteristics of domesticated animals alter from the 
wild state, where they are freed from close association with 
man, and are not subject to his constant interference. In the 
uninhabited isle of Soay, one of that group of rocky islands 
which lies out in the Atlantic 40 miles west of the Outer 
Hebrides, and of which St Kilda is the greatest, the remnant 
of a once widely distributed race of sheep finds a congenial 
home. There they live a wild life, seeing man once or twice 
a year at most, when some of the St Kildans endeavour to 
gather their sparse crop of wool by hunting them down with 
dogs. When they were established on this island no man 
knows, but they belong to a large-horned race which was 
widely spread in Europe in the Bronze Age, was represented 
in the Swiss lake-dwellings, in the settlements of the Romans 
in Britain, and was identified by Professor Ewart from the 
Roman Camp at Newstead near Melrose. To their inac- 
cessible habitation we owe the survival of these last repre- 
sentatives of a great race. 

The name "Soay" itself is said to be a Norse word 
signifying " Sheep Island," and for many centuries the 
peculiarities of the Soay sheep, as compared with the more 


familiar domestic breeds, have been recognized by Scottish 
writers. In the early half of the sixteenth century (1527) 
Hector Boece, the Bishop of Aberdeen, drew attention to 
this curious breed. 

Beyond thir His [i.e. beyond Hirta or St Kilda] is yit'ane uther He, 
bot it is not inhabit with ony pepill. In it ar certaine beistis, nocht far 
different fra the figure of scheip, sa wild that they can nocht be tane but 
girnis [except with snares] : the hair of them is lang and tallie, nothir like 
the woll of scheip nor gait. (Bellenden's Translation, 1536.) 

Fig. 6. Soay Sheep a primitive domesticated breed presen 
only in Scotland. % nat. size. 

The unnamed isle is evidently Soay. I have no doubt 
that at this period the island of St Kilda was inhabited by 
the same race of sheep, for of it Boece says, 

This last He is namit Hirta, quhilk in Irsche is callit ane scheip; for 
in this He is gret nommer of scheip, ilk ane gretar than ony gait buk [goat 
buck], with hornis lang and thikkar than ony home of ane bewgill 1 , and his 
lang talis hingand down to the erd. 

1 The original reads "cornua bubulis crassitudine sequa, sed longitudine 
aliquanto etiam superantia" with horns equal in thickness to oxen horns, 
but exceeding them even considerably in length. 


Another description of the Soay sheep of the sixteenth 
century is very interesting and rather amusing on account of 
the perplexity into which these strange goat-sheep threw the 
writer, Bishop Jhone Leslie of Rosse. His account, published 
in Rome in 1578, is here given in the translation made by 
Father Dalrymple in 1596 : 

Neist this [the island of "Hirth" or St Kilda] lyis another He, hot nocht 
inhabited, quhair nae kynd of cattail is fund, excepte sum verie wylde, 
quhilkes to cal scheip or gait, or rathir nouthir scheip nor gait, we knawe 
not, nor wat we weil: forby thair wylde nature, nathir haue thay wol lyke 
a scheip; nathir beir thay hair lyke a gait, bot for nane of the twa [literal 
translation: but they have something between the two], I can nocht tel 

These accounts lay hold of the main features of the 
strange Soay sheep as they still exist the wild nature, the 
goat-like carriage and movement, the "tallie" or drab colour, 
the hair overlaid by wool, the long, curved and massive 
horns. Boece's reference to " long tails " is most likely an 
error of description, but may indicate that a character in- 
duced by earlier domestication has been lost during the 
intervening four centuries of wild life, for to-day the tails of 
Soay sheep are as short as those of their wild ancestors. 
To these characteristics it may be added that the Soay sheep 
are less than they once were and are gradually becoming 
smaller, so that, instead of being "gretar than ony gait buk," 
if we are to believe Boece, they are now regarded by Mr 
H. J. Elwes as the "smallest aboriginal sheep now known 
to exist as a pure breed." 

How then has the influence of man told on ancestral 
characters in this early stage in the domestication of the 
sheep? The characters of the domesticated race are still 
essentially those of the wild Mouflon, whence it mainly 
derived its inheritance, for Professor Ewart finds no marked 
difference between Soay sheep and the Mouflon in skeleton, 
horns or throat fringe. The size is somewhat less, due no 
doubt to scanty fare, and to long confinement on a small 
island and consequent close interbreeding. The predom- 
inance of hair in the Mouflon has been replaced by a 
predominance of wool in the Soay race, whose coat was 
recently declared by Mr H. Sanderson, Galashiels, a manu- 
facturer of tweeds, to be "finer in the staple than any other 


wool grown in Scotland at the present time," though its 
shortness makes it difficult to spin alone. The fleece is a 
uniform pale brown or fawn instead of the patchy foxey-red 
of the Mouflon, though Soay lambs still retain th^ ancestral 
tint. Thus slight are the changes wrought on the characters 
of the wild stock by an early stage in domestication, as shown 
by Scotland's unique inheritance on the island of Soay. 


As Soay sheep represent, in the main, the influence 
of Mouflon ancestry, so the rare examples of Peat Sheep, 
which till recently occurred in Shetland, and which rank with 
them as survivors of one of the two earliest domesticated 
races of sheep, show the predominance of Urial blood. 

Of the two races, the Turbary or Peat Sheep (Fig. 7, 
p. 42), with long slender limbs and erect goat-like horns in the 
ewes, is the older, at least as regards central and north- 
western Europe, for Professor Ewart has stated that the 
Neolithic peoples of these parts seem to have had no other 
domestic breed. 

In Scotland sheep bones occur in kitchen-middens asso- 
ciated with dressed flints, and these bones, in the few cases 
where they have been carefully examined, have been found 
to belong to a "slender-legged variety." Bones of sheep 
have also been found in the Neolithic chambered cairns of 
Orkney; and in Caithness in similar structures there have 
occurred remains attributed to " sheep or goat " a natural 
alternative on the part of the excavator, if, as I suspect, he 
had observed skulls bearing the erect goat-like horn-cores 
which are typical of the " Turbary " race of sheep. There 
is ground for believing, therefore, that even in Neolithic 
times the Turbary or Peat Sheep (Ovis aries palustris] was 
widely distributed in Scotland. 

In most of the excavated sites of later ages in Scotland, 
these slender-limbed, goat-horned sheep have been repre- 
sented. They occur in lake-dwellings or crannogs of Bronze 
and subsequent periods, in underground "Eird" or "Picts"' 
houses, in Roman camps, in hill-forts and in the brochs in- 
habited well into the early centuries of our era. Probably 
they contributed largely to the great flocks of small dun- 


coloured sheep which spread over Scotland in the Middle 
Ages and later, and were the wonder of the early travellers 
in our country. Witness the exclamation of Don Pedro de 
Ayala, Ambassador from Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain 
to James IV of Scotland in the fifteenth century, regarding 
the " immense flocks of sheep" which he found "especially 
in the savage portions of Scotland" or the description by the 
Scottish chronicler, Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie, who in the 
sixteenth century states that : 

there was great Peace and Rest a long Time ; wherethrough the King 
[James V] had great Profit, for he had ten thousand sheep going in Ettrick 

Already however there must have been a considerable 
amount of crossing in the Scottish flocks, for numerous in- 
dividuals appeared possessing supernumerary horns, the rams 
carrying four and sometimes six, and even the ewes up to 
three and four. This peculiarity especially struck the Italian 
doctor, Cardan, who, induced to come to Scotland to offer 
medical advice to Hamilton, Archbishop of St Andrews, 
took the opportunity of making a tour of the country. Sheep 
with four horns, he wrote in 1552, were frequent, but not 
like those he had seen at Milan, for the Scottish sheep had 
one pair curved and the other pair straight. 

More detailed is the account of Bishop Leslie of Rosse, 
published in Rome in 1578 (Dalrymple's translation, 1596): 

Tuedale [Tweeddale] notwithstanding because of the gude Wol in 
quhilke it abundes by all vthiris sulde nocht be slipit oner with silence. 
In this cuntrie ar fund, evin as with thair nychtbouris, that sum of thame 
are knawen to haue four or fyue hundir, vthiris agane aucht or nyne hundir, 
and sum tyme thay ar knawen to haue a thousand scheip '. The scheip 
indeed ar litle, and homes thay beir lyke rames ; bot the yewis twa, thrie 
or four, and the Ramis at sum tymes sax: Thay beir verie schorte tailis, as 
schorte as the tail of ane hine [hind]. In tendirnes of thair flesche thay 
ar lyke the cattel that ar fed in the rest of the south cuntreyes of the 
Realme, bot farr excelis thame that feid in the pastoure of the nerrest 
cuntreyes. The cause is thocht to be this, that the knowis of thir cuntries 
abundes in a certane schort and bare grase, quharin scheip properlie delytes. 

1 This sentence is a serious mistranslation of the original, which reads 
" quorum alii quatuor aut quinque, alii octo aut decem nonunquam millia 
ovium habere noscantur " some of whom are known to have sheep four 
or five others eight, nay even on occasion ten thousand in number. 


It shall be shown when we come to discuss the influence of 
domestic stock on the wild fauna of Scotland that the in- 
tensive cultivation of sheep which resulted in these enormous 
flocks in Tweeddale and the neighbouring parts was one of 
the chief factors in banishing Red Deer from the Lowland 

What were the characteristics of the ancient " Turbary " 
race which for thousands of years, from Neolithic times to 
the Middle Ages, formed the main part of the domestic sheep 
of the Scottish peoples, and how had domestication and the 

Fig. 7 Turbary or Peat Sheep (ewe) a pr 
only in Scotland. 

tive domesticated race preserved 
nat. size. 

rude selective breeding of the older periods affected the 
characters of the wild Urial whence they seem to have 
obtained the greater part of their inheritance? 

We can scarcely do better, in supplementing the charac- 
ters derived from the skeletal remains of the Neolithic 
kitchen-middens and of the later prehistoric and early his- 
toric deposits, than make appeal to the last representatives 
of the Turbary race which till recently lingered in the isolated 
islands of Shetland. 

The chief difference in general appearance was one of 
size, for while the domestic Turbaries still retained the slender 
limbs and light agile build of the Urial, they stood only 


some 22 inches high at the shoulder, as against the 32 inches 
of the wild Urial of the present day. The Scottish Lowland 
breeds in the sixteenth century still retained the short tails 
characteristic of the wild species, as Leslie noted, and even 
to-day the Shetland survivors possess short tails with only 
thirteen vertebral bones in contrast to the twenty or more 
tail-vertebrae found in modern improved British breeds. In 
another and significant respect the Turbary sheep retained 
the Urial characters, for, in contrast to the hornless ewes 
of the Mouflon, their ewes possessed a pair of light erect 
goat-like horns, very different from the heavy, curved but 
not spiral horns of the rams. But in one respect, other than 
size, the domesticated race differed materially from its wild 
ancestors, and that in regard to its coat. For whereas the 
wild species possesses an undercoat of wool concealed 
beneath a longer coat of fawn hair, in the Turbary sheep, 
the wool, though still short and fine, predominated over the 
hair, if we can judge from the Shetland survivors, and was 
of pale brown colour, known as "moorit." 


The characteristics of the races of domestic sheep which 
first appeared in Scotland having been summarized, it remains 
to indicate the changes which selection of suitable stock and 
careful in-breeding and crossing have wrought in typical 
improved breeds of the present day in Scotland, such as the 
Cheviot Sheep of the south country uplands and the High- 
land Black-faced Sheep (Figs. 8 and 9, pp. 44 and 48). It 
says much for the reality of man's influence in altering the 
characters of his domestic stock, that in little more than 
three-quarters of a century, since Youatt described the 
"Black-faced Sheep," in 1837, and Low the "Black-faced 
heath Sheep," in 1842, local conditions, different modes of 
treatment and to some extent crossing with other breeds have, 
according to Professor Wallace, split the breed into "at least 
seven very distinct sections which might rank as breeds." 

The Highland Black-faces and the Cheviots of to-day 
differ in several important respects from the primitive domes- 
tic breeds. As a rule, neither Cheviot ewes nor rams have 
horns, though the latter may possess a smooth pair with a 


simple curve. On the other hand, both sexes of Black-faces 
almost invariably carry horns which spring horizontally from 
the skull and are curved ; but those of the ram are especially 
luxuriant, the horns being rough, strongly ridged; And form- 
ing corkscrew spirals, the forward directed points of which 
have frequently to be cut in old rams to allow them to feed 
comfortably. Professor Ewart regards these peculiar horns 
in the Black-face as evidence of the presence in the breed 
of the blood of the Argali (Ovis ammon) the magnificent 

Fig. 8. Cheviot Sheep a modern result of selective breeding. 
(Champion, Highland Show, 1914.) 

wild sheep of the Pamirs, Tian-Shan and Altai Mountains 
of Asia. 

In both Cheviots and Black-faces, the tail is much longer 
than that of wild sheep, but while in Black-faces it reaches 
not lower than the hocks, in Cheviots it is so abnormally 
lengthened that it is found advisable to dock it. 

Both breeds have gained in size of body as compared 
with the primitive domestic races of Scotland. But though 
the Cheviot is the larger and heavier of the two (a fat tup 
weighing at least 200 Ibs. live weight), the Black-face is the 


hardier, and makes a living more successfully on the heathery 
moors of the Highlands. Modern breeds also show the in- 
fluence of man's selection in a subtle quality that of fattening 
rapidly when placed on suitable pasture a quality absent 
in primitive Scottish breeds. 

Comparison with the ancestral forms and early breeds 
shows that in a very important respect a great advance has 
been made, for the coat of hair, furnished by Nature, has 
been almost altogether subordinated to the development of 
the original undercoat of wool. In both breeds the pre- 
dominant colour is white in place of an ancestral shade of 
brown, but while in the Black-face the wool is long, loose, 
shaggy and rather coarse, in the Cheviot it is shorter, closer 
and finer. In both breeds, it is unnecessary to add, a fleece 
far exceeds in weight those of the primitive races of domes- 
ticated sheep. 


Perhaps no single character in the domesticated races 
of animals affords so clear a demonstration of man's con- 
tinuous influence as the wool of sheep. Even in a limited 
area like Scotland, the results point convincingly to the 
power of selection. It must be remembered that in the 
earliest days of civilization the flesh of domestic sheep was 
seldom used for food though the milk was drunk. The main 
value of sheep lay in furnishing fleeces which, prepared as 
skins, formed the clothing of barbarian tribes. Almost in our 
own era Caesar described the Briton as clothed in the skins 
of animals, of which no doubt the sheep was the chief; and 
Pliny the Younger says of his own time and country, as 
translated by Philemon Holland: 

Sheepe likewise are in great request, both in regard they serve as sacri- 
fices to appease the Gods, and also by "reason of their fleece yielding so 
profitable a use : for even as men are beholden to the boeuf for their prin- 
cipal food and nourishment which they labour for, so they must acknowledge 
that they have their clothing and coverture for their bodies from the poore 

Even from the outset of the domestication of the sheep, 
therefore, there was strong inducement for the herdsman to 
improve the quality of the fleece. In the wild species from 
which the domesticated breeds of sheep have sprung, the 


undercoat of fine wool is invariably shorter tha'n even the 
close outer crop of coarser hair, and the general colour varies 
from foxey-red to fawn. Since it is clearly an advantage for 
clothing that the softness and heat-retaining properties of 
the fleece should be increased, early selection tended to the 
lengthening of the woolly undercoat; so that even in the 
primitive domesticated breed represented by the Soay sheep, 
the natural proportions are reversed, and while the hair is 
rather under 2 inches long, the wool reaches a length of 
2 J inches. Nevertheless Soay fleeces average under a pound 
in weight, and at the present day are considered scarcely 
worth shearing. 

Excavations in early human sites of occupation, though 
they yield evidence of the presence of sheep, give no 
indication of the nature of their coat, so that we have to 
content ourselves with a few quotations from historical 
records. Already in the twelfth century, a great wool in- 
dustry had been developed in Scotland, for in the reign of 
David I, woollen cloth was manufactured on a large scale 
in many of the villages, and the enumeration among the 
burgher classes, of weavers, "litcters" or dyers, and pullers 
indicates manufacture of some skill and delicacy. In several 
directions the improvement, of the fleece had progressed, in 
an increase in the length of the wool, in its fineness, and in 
its colour. Boece in the sixteenth century writes enthusiastic- 
ally about the quality of the Scottish product : 

Quhat may be said of our wol? quhilk is sa quhit [white] and smal [fine], 
that the samin is desirit be all peple, and coft [bought] with gret price, 
speciallie with merchandis quhair it is best knawin [known]. Of this wol is 
maid the fine skarlettis with mony uthir granit and deligat [grand and 
delicate] clothis. (Bellenden's Translation.) 

And in the following century, William Lithgow, who travelled 
over the southern parts of Scotland in 1628, says of Galloway 
wool that it was better than any he had seen in Spain. 
" Nay," he writes, " the Calabrian silk had never a better 
lustre or a softer gripe than I have touched in Galloway on 
the sheep's back." Truly in these days, it was "Galloway 
for woo'." It need hardly be said, however, that all wool was 
not of this high standard, witness the estimate of Aberdeen- 
shire wool by Schir Robert Egew, Chaiplan to My Lord 
Sinclair, who in his account of his stewardship in 1511 writes: 


Item thar wilbe of tendit woll this yeir of your scheep Fyve stane. It 
will gif ilk stane, vij schillings and that is ane gud price for Buchane woll 
considering the ter 1 that is in it. 

The demand for Scottish wool in the following century 
in countries beyond the borders is some index to the im- 
provement that had taken place, and to the estimation in 
which the Scottish product was held. From a charter found 
in the Charter Chest of the Earl of Mar and Kelly, Professor 
Hume Brown quotes the average annual exports for the years 
1611 to 1614 "Of Woll, 10,374 staneis wechte at ^5 the 
stane, ^5 1^,870." 

While in most countries and on the mainland of Scotland 
throughout the centuries, selection was constantly made with 
the object of attaining a high standard of white wool, for no 
other reason it would seem than that fashion favoured white- 
ness, a curious and reverse tendency is to be noted in the 
island flocks where fashion favoured coats of many colours. 
In 1794, Dr James Anderson wrote : 

In all the remote parts of Scotland and the isles where sheep have been 
in a great measure neglected, and allowed to breed promiscuously, without 
any selection, there is to be found a prodigious diversity of colours; and, 
among others, dun sheep, or those of brownish colour tending to an obscure 
yellow, are not infrequent... It is for this reason, and to save the trouble of 
dyeing, that the poor people in the Highlands propagate black, and russet 
and brown, and other coloured sheep, more than in any country where the 
wool is regularly brought to market. 

The tendency of fashion to guide the influence of man and to 
regulate the colour of the fleece is still dbminant in Shetland 
and amongst the breeders of Shetland sheep. Three types 
of Shetland shawls are in demand a brown, a white and a 
grey, the last colour being also used as an edging to shawls 
of one of the other colours. The result has been that owing 
to deliberate selection for the purpose of meeting this de- 
mand three colours of fleece have come to predominate in 
the Shetland breed a "black" or brown variety (known 
as " moorit," said to be from a Norse word signifying 
"moor-red"), which still retains the colour of the primitive 
domesticated breed, a fine snowy white variety, and a bluish 
grey variety known as "Sheila," having. longer and coarser 

1 ter, probably the Aberdeenshire dialect word for turf; and in this 
connection, therefore, signifying grass, earth or, generally, dirt. 

4 8 


In modern times, with increased attention to the care of 
flocks and to breeding, the rate of improvement in the 
qualities of the fleece has been even more strikipg. In the 
wild species, the wool is hidden beneath short hair; in 
modern improved breeds, so successfully has fine wool been 
encouraged at the expense of the rougher hair that it is 
almost or quite impossible to distinguish any hair amongst 
the wool. The wool of the primitive Soay breed is shorter 

Fig. 9. Black-faced Sheep an illustration of development in length of wool. 
(Champion, Highland Show, 1914.) 

than 3 inches and the fleece averages under one pound in 
weight; often enough the shaggy wool of a Black-face trails 
upon the ground and the average fleece of a good hill flock 
weighs from 4^ to 5 pounds, while a Cheviot ram. may bear 
a fleece of 10 to 12 pounds weight. 

The parti-colours of the wild species have been replaced 
by a coat of uniform colour, and in most breeds the original 
shades of brown have been eliminated in favour of white wool. 

II. 2 


THE farmer's family, according to Hesiod, one of the 
earliest writers on agriculture, consisted of the Husband, the 
Wife and the Ox, the Minister of Ceres. The ox was the 
"constant Companion of Man in the Labours of the Field," 
as well as the mainstay of the food supply of the early 
communities. On account of these particular uses to which 
cattle were put, the influence of man has had a less striking 
effect on the outer aspect of oxen than on that of the wool- 
bearing sheep. Yet for us the ox gains an additional interest 
in that at an early stage the domestication of oxen was 
probably more intimately connected with Scotland than that 
of sheep. For there can be no doubt that when Neolithic 
man reached these lands the forests still sheltered herds of 
wild cattle which here or elsewhere formed a nucleus of our 
domesticated breeds. 


In the time of the Ice Age, perhaps even of the earlier 
Forest Bed of Norfolk, there appeared an Ox of large size, 
the great Urus (Bos taurus primigenius] (Figs, to and 11, 
pp. 50 and 53), which before the close of the Ice Age had 
spread from the north of Scandinavia to Sicily and from the 
Siberian Steppes to the west of Scotland. For many centuries, 
under climatic conditions of great diversity, it inhabited the 
Scottish plains. When the snows of the Ice Age disappeared 
from the Lowlands in one of the mild interludes which 
broke the severity of an Arctic climate, and a coat of 
verdure spread over the plains, the Urus made one of the 
small band of animals which ventured into the southern 
counties of Scotland in quest of new pastures. Its earliest 
Scottish remains have been found in interglacial deposits near 


Crofthead in Renfrewshire, where they were associated with 
bones of the Giant Fallow Deer or " Irish Elk" and of the 
Horse, as well as in the valley of Cowden Burn, in the same 

Fig. 10. Front view'of skull of Urus, the native wild ox of Scotland, 
from Fifeshire. f nat. size. 

Fig. 10 a. Side view of above skull of Urus. \ nat. size. 

county. In the marl deposits formed on the floor of the 
lakes which succeeded the Glacial Period, skulls and other 
bones of the Urus have been commonly found from Wigtown- 
shire to Caithness, although the headquarters of the race, as 


indicated by the frequency of its occurrence, appears to have 
been in the plains of the eastern coast, especially in the 
valleys of the Tweed in Roxburghshire, of the Tay in Perth- 
shire, and in the flat lands of Caithness. Even in later ages, 
the Urus was still common throughout Scotland, for its 
remains are abundant in the peat-bogs which accumulated 
under conditions of great humidity about the time of and 
subsequent to the arrival of the first Neolithic settlers in 
Scotland. At this period the headquarters of the race 
appears to have been in the Lowlands, for although isolated 
records occur as far north as Belhelvie Moss in Aberdeen- 
shire, the majority-of the remains have been recovered from 
Ayrshire, Berwickshire, and particularly from the higher 
grounds drained by the Tweed and its tributaries. 

The subsequent history of the Giant Ox in Scotland is 
one of gradual decline, and it is reasonable to assume that 
the dwindling of the great herds was connected with the 
appearance of man in the country. Nevertheless, the Urus 
lingered on in association with man in Scotland for many 
centuries, being gradually driven northwards into the wilds, 
until within the confines of the northern counties it finally 
disappeared. Its remains have been found in juxtaposition 
with relics of Neolithic man from the Clyde Valley to 
Caithness: in the former case near the mouth of the Kelvin, 
in laminated beds of silt where many dug-out canoes, 
hollowed from solid trunks of oak, have been found, and 
in the latter, in "horned cairns" belonging to the later 
period of the Polished Stone Age, at Camster, Ulbster and 
Clythe. During the succeeding two thousand years, till 
approximately 1000 B.C., it may have lingered in the Low- 
lands of Scotland, for in 1781 six skulls were found in a 
"merle moss" at Whitmuir Hill, Selkirkshire, in the 
neighbourhood of many " brass axes." The writer of the 
Statistical Account of the parish of Selkirk actually states 
that along with the skulls was found "a Roman spear with 
which these animals were destroyed," but this statement is 
more than doubtful, for Professor Ewart has found no trace 
of the Urus amongst the abundant animal remains of the 
Roman Camp at Newstead near Melrose. It is almost safe 
to assume, therefore, that long before the Romans invaded 

southern Scotland, in the early centuries of our era, the 

J * 



pressure of civilization had driven the survivors of the 
Giant Ox beyond the bounds of the Scottish Lowlands. 

Nevertheless it appears still to have survived in the 
northern parts of the kingdom, for remains which seem to 
be identical with those of the marls and peat-bogs, have been 
found in underground buildings or "Eird" houses apparently 
belonging to the period of the brochs or "Pictish Towers," 
at Skara in Orkney and in an ancient mound at Keiss in 
Caithness, as well as in a broch itself, at Kintrawell beyond 
Brora in Sutherlandshire. There is some reason to believe, 
therefore, that the Broch Period, lasting towards the ninth 
or tenth century, saw the last wild British survivors of 
this great race of cattle, long before they had disappeared 
from the dense forests of Central Europe, where they were 
believed by Professor Nilsson to have existed in a wild 
or half-wild state even to the beginning and middle of the 
sixteenth century, many years after the exploits of the 
redoubtable Siegfried in the woods of Worms, sung in the 
Niebelungen lied: 

Then slowe the dowghtie Sigfried a Wisent 1 and an Elk, 

He smote four stoute Uroxen and a grim and sturdie Schelk 2 . 


There is no Scottish written evidence to guide us in 
determining the characters of this Scottish wild ox, for 
the only definite relics of its existence are the bones of 
the prehistoric and early historic deposits. Their evidence, 
however, is clear as regards the general character of the 
animal. Its bones in every respect, in their proportions, 
contours and even in the details of their ridges and muscle- 
impressions, agree so closely with those of recent oxen 
as to show that the Urus was in reality no more than a 
variety of Bos taurus. In one striking respect the skeletal 
remains differ in size. From a skeleton which he compared 
with that of a recent ox, Principal Sir William Turner 
estimated that the Urus must have easily stood six feet 
high at the shoulder, a size sufficiently great, though not 
to be compared with Caesar's exaggerated description of 

1 Bison. 

2 Red Deer, or perhaps the now extinct Giant Fallow Deer. 


the Uri in the Hercynian Forests " magnitudine paullo 
infra elefantos " ' in size little less than elephants.' The horn- 
cores, borne on the massive, flat-fronted skull (Figs. 10 and 
loo), a third larger than the skulls of domestic cattle, indicate 
that the horns were of great length, even larger, it is said, 
than those of the long-horned breed of cattle found in the 
Campagna of Rome. 

As regards colour, there is little trustworthy evidence, 
and for want of better we must appeal to an oil painting, 
supposed to represent the Urus, which was discovered in 
Germany about a century ago by Major Hamilton Smith : 

We found an old painting on pannel of indifferent merit in the hands 
of a dealer in Augsburg, which represents the animal, and judging from the 
style of drawing, etc., may date from the first quarter of the sixteenth 
century. It is a profile representation of a bull without mane, but rather 
rugged, with a large head, thick neck, small dewlap entirely sooty black, 
the chin alone white, and the horns turning forward and then upward like 
the bull of Romania; pale in colour with black tips. In the comer were 
remains of armorial bearings, and the word Tkur in golden German 
characters. We made a sketch of the figure. 

Fig. ii. Urus the native wild ox of Scotland, -fa nat. size. 

The sketch formed the basis of a plate in colour in 
Griffith's edition of Cuvier's Animal Kingdom, and this is 
here reproduced (Fig. n). In one. point fossil evidence 
testifies to the accuracy of the painting, for a horn, found in 
peat in Pomerania, was pale horn-coloured with a black tip. 
Probably the Urus was of a dark reddish-brown colour 


verging on black, with long, black-tipped horns, and with 
hair short and comparatively smooth, except on the forehead 
where it was long and curly. 

One other character of the Urus is worth recording in 
view of its modification in the domestic breeds derived from 
this wild race namely, its temperament. Caesar said of 
the Uri inhabiting the Hercynian forest of Central Europe 
" Great is their strength and great their speed ; they spare 
nor man nor wild beast on whom they may cast their eyes." 


Notwithstanding that man lived for many centuries in 
Scotland in company with Wild Oxen, he seems to have 
made little or no progress in domesticating them. This may 
have been due in part to an exceptionally wild strain in 
the Scottish race, and in part to the fact that there was 
little inducement for him to break in a new race of cattle, 
since he had brought with him to Scotland a smaller and 
more amenable breed, the Short-horned Celtic Ox (Bos 
taurus longifrons}, which had already been domesticated 
on the continent. It is not surprising, therefore, that 
kitchen-middens of Neolithic and later ages yield many 
bones of the smaller domesticated breed, but afford little 
evidence of the presence or domestication of the Urus, a 
creature of the wilds and remote fastnesses. Unfortunately, 
however, in the majority of the early excavations, examina- 
tion of the animal remains was of a more or less cursory 
nature, bovine bones being simply recorded as "oxen," with- 
out attempt to arrive at a critical estimation of their further 

It seems very unlikely that two closely related races of 
cattle could exist in the limited area of Scotland without 
a certain infusion of wild blood into the domesticated stock; 
and it is just possible that some of the larger ox remains 
found along with the bones of the Short-horned Celtic Ox 
in the Roman .Camp at Newstead as well as in other Roman 
settlements, and the few Urus-like skulls of the brochs, may 
represent more or less remote descendants of crosses between 
the Urus and the Celtic Shorthorn. It is possible also that 
the sixteenth century "wild" White Cattle of the Caledonian 


Forest may have been direct descendants of the Urus, 
though the weight of evidence seems to show that their 
relationship is more distant, and that they are rather the 
offspring, which have run wild, of a breed domesticated from 
the Urus. Whether or not the blood of the indigenous cattle 
of Scotland may still linger in direct lineage in our modern 
stock through cross-breeding with the Celtic Shorthorn, it 
is generally allowed that the Urus, domesticated perhaps 
on the plains of Europe, is the ancestral form of the larger 
breeds of cattle in Britain at the present day. 


Not until the Ice Age had passed away did there appear 
on the plains of Europe a small race of cattle which formed 
the nucleus of the earliest domesticated breed. There is 
no evidence that this small race, the Longfronted Ox, or, 
as it is commonly called, the Celtic Shorthorn (Bos taitrus 
longifrons], existed in Scotland at any period before the 
time of man's arrival. Its remains have been found in river 
gravel of doubtful age, near Currie at the northern end of 
the Pentland Hills, and in 1870 there' were discovered 
bones of several of these oxen, which, before cities and 
villages were dreamt of, had been entrapped and engulfed 
in the shell-marl of the Nor' Loch which formerly lay in the 
hollow now occupied by the Princes Street Gardens, 
Edinburgh. Even in the later peat deposits remains are 
exceedingly scanty, though they are distributed in bogs from 
Roxburghshire to Ross. Indeed, in Scotland the history of 
the Celtic Shorthorn traces a course exactly the reverse of 
that of the Great Wild Ox, for while the latter is abundantly 
represented in the early deposits and decreases with the 
coming of man until it disappears, the former is absent from 
the early deposits and increases with the spread of Neolithic 
man until it occurs throughout the length and breadth of the 

The Celtic Shorthorn does not appear to have been 
known to the earliest settlers in Scotland, who, as we have 
seen, left traces of no domestic animals, yet it appears in 
the deposits of very early Neolithic times. Horns character- 
istic of the Celtic Shorthorn were discovered in 1816 near' 


the surface of the clay of the Fifty Foot Beach in the Tay 
Valley at Blair Drummond in Perthshire, and bones have 
been found in the deposits which have yielded Neolithic 
dug-out canoes in Rutherglen near Glasgow. Adtually as- 
sociated with the handiwork of men of the Polished Stone 
Age, skulls and bones have been found in caves and shell- 
mounds on the Ayrshire coast, in kitchen-middens, as in 
Oronsay and in the MacArthur Cave at Oban, as well as 
in the chambered or horned cairns of late Neolithic Age at 
Canister, Ormiegill near Ulbster, Garry whin near Clythe and 
Hill of Bruan, all in Caithness, and in a chambered cairn at 
Loch Stennis in Orkney. 

In Scotland, then, the Celtic Shorthorn appeared in the 
Neolithic period, shortly after the first settlement of man in 
North Britain, and this, together with the fact that its re- 
mains are most frequently found in deposits accumulated 
on the sites of human habitation, point to its presence as a 
domesticated animal which had followed in the train of the 
men of the Polished Stone Age from the regions of the south. 

There can be no doubt of its close relationship to man 
in subsequent ages, for its remains have occurred in almost 
every prehistoric site of occupation which has been excavated 
in Scotland. In the Bronze and Iron Ages, which together 
extended to the beginning of the Christian era, it was 
common, and the numerous herds of cattle, "pecoris, magnus 
numerus," observed by Caesar on his arrival in Britain just 
before the first century of our era, and remarked upon in 
his Commentaries, belonged to this race. According to Pro- 
fessor Boyd Dawkins, it was the only breed in existence 
in Britain at the time of the Roman Conquest. In spite of 
the fact that the Romans almost certainly brought with them 
new races of cattle from the Continent, the Celtic Shorthorn 
still predominated in Roman and Romano- British settle- 
ments in Scotland, as at Newstead near Melrose, Traprain 
in Haddingtonshire and Inveresk near Musselburgh, and 
remained for long the only domestic cattle of the native 
population. Its importance as food to the inhabitants of 
Scotland during or shortly after the period of Roman occu- 
pation is indicated by the contents of the refuse-heap of a 
cave at Borness in Kirkcudbrightshire, excavated in 1875, 
for there the recognizable ox-bones numbered 1 1 12, as con- 



trasted with 630 bones of Sheep, 26 of Red Deer, and three 
of the Horse. 

There is no need to detail its history in later times, 
it is sufficient to say that the bones of the Celtic Short- 
horn have been found in plenty in the Scottish crannogs or 
lake-dwellings, as at Loch of Dowalton in Wigtownshire, 
Lochlee and Lochspouts in Ayrshire, and Isle of Eriska in 
Argyllshire ; in cave deposits, on the south coast at St 
Medan's and St Ninian's Caves in Wigtownshire and 
Borness Cave in Kirkcudbrightshire, on the east coast 


Fig. 12. Horn-sheaths of Celtic Shorthorn and upper part of skull with horn-cores and with 
fragments of skin and hair attached, found deep in Irish bog relics of a primitive 
domesticated race of cattle. \ nat. size. 

at Wemyss in Fifeshire, and on the west in caves on 
the Ayrshire coast ; in duns or hill-forts from Tiree to 
Burghead ; in underground "Eird" or "Picts' " houses even 
in the outer islands, on the mainland of Orkney near 
Kirkwall and at Skara, and in the outer Hebrides in Harris; 
in kitchen-middens or shell-mounds and in the " Pictish 
Towers " or brochs throughout the length of the land. The 
Celtic Shorthorn was therefore the one well-defined race of 
domestic cattle familiar to the Scottish peoples till the close 
of the broch period towards the ninth or tenth century of 
the Christian era, and probably it remained dominant to a 
much later day. 



What was the nature of this domestic race, which, for some 
6000 years, was outstanding in the history and development 
of the early peoples of Scotland ? Two sets of characters 
infallibly single out its bones from the remains of other 
cattle those of its skull and those of its .limbs. The skull 
was long and narrow, more like that of a deer than of a 
modern ox, and the forehead had a median ridge, a 
prominent bony crest, and carried two short tapering 
horns, about nine inches long, curved gently forwards and 
downwards. The limbs also were deer-like in character, the 
bones being slender in proportion to their length, as 
compared with those of modern oxen. From the skeleton, 
Professor Nilsson estimated that the Celtic Shorthorn "was 
5 feet 4 inches long from the nape to the end of the rump- 
bone, the head about i foot 4 inches, so that the whole 
length must have been about 6 feet 8 inches." The skeleton 
indicates that the Celtic Shorthorn was a long-bodied but 
light and agile ox, well-fitted to protect itself by speed of 
limb from the many beasts of prey of the Scottish forests. 

A few fortunate finds give a clue to the nature and 
colour of its coat. On a skull found in an Irish bog and having 
the characters of the Celtic Shorthorn, Dr John Alexander 
Smith found part of the skin and hair still attached (Fig. 1 2). 
The hair was of rough shaggy nature like that of Highland 
Kyloes (Fig. 13, p. 61), and was of dark red or brownish tint. 
Confirmatory evidence is furnished by the contents of the 
strange masses of "bog butter" which, stored in wooden 
kegs or wrapped in skin or birch bark, have been found 
often at considerable depths below the surface in peat- 
mosses in the counties of Argyll, Inverness, Banff, Moray, 
Sutherland and in the islands of Skye and North Yell. 
The apparent age of these butter masses suggests the 
probability that the butter was made from the milk of the 
Celtic Shorthorn. The butter invariably contains abundance 
of cow-hairs, and these are always red in colour. Again, 
Dr Joseph Anderson in 1878 discovered on a dagger of the 
Bronze Age, found in a large sepulchral cairn at Collessie in 
Fifeshire, a mass of agglutinated hairs, remains of the hide 
which covered the wooden sheath of the dagger; and these 


under the microscope showed " the same appearance and 
structure as the dark hairs of a Shetland cow taken from 
one of the rivlins or Shetland shoes of untanned hide in the 
Museum [of Antiquities in Edinburgh]." 

Although nothing is known from written records re- 
garding the nature of the early domestication of cattle in 
Scotland, the bone remains seem to point to the wild 
or half-wild nature of the herds. In the first place, the 
limb bones are those of an active mobile creature, and this 
activity could only mean that the cattle were not restricted 
in any serious degree, but ranged over large areas and 
depended on their movements for escape from the Brown 
Bears and Wolves which shared the forest with them. In 
the second place, in the Scottish bone deposits which I have 
examined, and which range from Neolithic times to a 
period when Christianity was already firmly established on 
the east coast, the large majority of the remains of the 
Celtic Shorthorn are those of young animals, as the presence 
of milk-teeth and of bones not completely ossified clearly 
shows. This I take to mean that the inhabitants found it 
easier to slay the young than the old animals that indeed 
adult animals were hard to slay, for other things being 
equal, their greater food value should have made them 
preferred, and their bones to preponderate in the refuse- 
heaps. The indications are that the cattle were captured 
by a sort of hunting which found the young animals ready 
victims, and therefore that the herds of the Celtic Short- 
horn were little better than wild. 

It may indeed be said that part of the influence of man 
upon domestic cattle has been expended in gradually 
narrowing their range of freedom, and with this, their 
activity, so that from the lean muscular oxen of the wilds, 
the fat ox of the stall has been developed. The pro- 
cess of enclosing has been a gradual one, as old Scots 
Laws demonstrate, 'for the "Leges Forestarum " generally 
ascribed to William the Lion (A.D. 1165-1214) invoke 
penalties upon cattle found straying in the King's forest a 
superfluous provision had the cattle been enclosed or even 
carefully herded. That they were not so herded even in 
the seventeenth century is shown by the fact that it was 
found necessary in 1686 to pass a law that cattle should be 


herded in winter as well as in summer to prevent de- 
struction of plantations and enclosures. And as everyone 
familiar with the history of Scottish agriculture during the 
past two centuries knows, it is only within comparatively 
recent times that open "out fields" and "in fields" gave 
place to the enclosed fields of the present day. 


The domesticated breeds of cattle existing in Scotland 
at the present day fall into two distinct groups : a small 
type, of which the Highland Kyloes may be taken as 
examples, and a large and heavy type such as the 
Aberdeen-Angus and Shorthorn breeds. Now the two races 
from which all the modern Scottish breeds have sprung are 
the Great Ox or Urus Bos taurus primigenius and the 
Celtic Shorthorn ; but so distant is the ancestry, so mixed has 
been the breeding in an effort to obtain new and better stocks, 
and so potent has been the influence of man in perpetuating 
the characters of his choice, that it is impossible with 
certainty to attribute any modern breed to its originator. 
At the best, we can only say that probability lies in the 
suggestion that the Celtic Shorthorn, the only domestic 
race of the early Celts, was, with its owners, ultimately 
driven into the refuges of the mountains and islands by 
the influx of Romans and Saxons, and there probably gave 
rise to the characteristic mountain and island breeds the 
Highland Kyloes and Shetlanders; while the lowland races 
became more and more permeated by the blood of the 
larger cattle derived from the great Urus, which the invad- 
ing peoples brought with them from the Continent. Thus 
at one pole of the Scottish breeds the cattle of the West 
Highlands approach most closely the type of the Celtic 
Shorthorn, while the Shorthorn and Aberdeen-Angus show 
the largest proportion of the blood of races which owe 
their ancestry to the Urus. Of other well-known Scottish 
breeds, the old established Galloways seem to share in great 
part the same origin as the Highland Kyloes, and the 
Celtic Shorthorn had also much influence in the moulding 
of the extinct Orkney and original Shetland breed, as well 



as of the Ayrshires, though in the last case, even in compara- 
tively recent times, there has been a great admixture of 
Urus blood through crossing with modern Shorthorn and 
other races. 

In spite of these complexities of descent, there yet 
stand out clearly several main lines along which man has 
influenced the characters of the original races. 

Of all the modern breeds, the Highland cattle, in their 
build, in the nature and colour of their coat, and in their 

Fig. 13. Highland Kyloes (cow and calf) a primitive domesticated breed 
("Mhaldag," First Prize, Highland Show, 1886). 

habits, approach most closely to their wild prototypes. 
They still retain the hardiness which one would expect in 
the descendants of a race inured to the climate of Scotland 
for many thousands of years, and in the very picturesquene-.s 
of their long shaggy coats and bushy forelocks they suggest 
the unimproved creatures of the wild. A description by 
Bishop Leslie, published in 1578, of the "fed" or domesti- 
cated "ky, nocht tame," which in his day ranged the 
mountains of Argyll, the very area from which the most 
characteristic of modern Highlanders are derived, gives 


point to the comparison, for there can be no doubt that he 
refers to the Kyloes of the sixteenth century : 

In the mountanis of Aargyl, in Rosse lykwyse, and sindrie vthiris places, 
ar fed ky, nocht tame, as in vthiris partes, hot lyke wylde hartes, wandiring 
out of ordour, and quhilkes, throuch a certane wyldnes of nature, flie the 
cumpanie, or syght of men: as may be seine in winter, how deip saeuir be 
the snawe, how lang saevir the frost ly, how scharpe or calde how evir it 
be thay nevir thair heid sett- vnder the ruffe of ony hous. Thair fleshe of a 
meruellous sueitnes, of a woundirful tendirnes, and excellent diligatnes of 
taste, far deceiues the opiniounis of men, that nevir tasted thame. 

But how great have been the changes in most other 
breeds. The Giant Urus, six feet high at the shoulder, has 
been reduced to the much smaller proportions of the modern 
Shorthorn and Aberdeen-Angus (Fig. 14, p. 63). His long 
graceful limbs, which gave him a speed surpassing that of 
most of the animals of the prehistoric forests, have, at the 
demand of the market, become reduced and embedded in 
an over-developed body in which have been lost the supple 
lines of the wild ancestor. 

In colour no less than in form, man's selection has 
worked great changes. In place of the uniform dark reds, 
browns or blacks of the primitive races, modern breeds 
range through white and shades of yellow, red, brown, red 
and black, black and white, to unbroken black. Even such a 
strange freak of colouring as a broad white band like a white 
sheet tied round the animal's black body, has become per- 
petuated in the definite race of "belted" or "sheeted" 
Galloways. It is surprising in how short a period such 
colour changes may take place under man's guidance. At 
the beginning of last century, the Aberdeen- Angus breed 
contained individuals of the most div erse colours, brindled, 
red and black, black and white, red, brown and yellow. Yet 
to-day the only recognized colour of pedigreed stock is black. 

Horns, too, have been modified through man's selection. 
Not only are their sizes and shapes more varied, but in 
Aberdeen-Angus and Galloways, they have actually been 
bred out of existence. That the polled or hornless condition 
did not originate in recent times is shown by a polled skull 
identified by Professor Ewart from the Roman Camp at 
Newstead; and it is said that the first historical reference 
to polled cattle was made in the ninth century when King 
Kenneth MacAlpine (A.D. 844-860) in promulgating the laws 


at Scone in Perthshire, specifically mentions "black homyl," 
in modern Scots "humle" or "humlie," that is to say, horn- 
less cattle. Yet the creation of a polled race under man's 
influence seems to one familiar with the slowness of nature's 
processes, a thing of marvellous celerity; for even in the 
middle of the eighteenth century, a large proportion of pure- 
bred Galloway cattle had horns of considerable length, and 
the complete disappearance of horns since that time is simply 
due to the efforts of breeders to meet the demands of English 

Fig. 14. Aberdeen-Angus bull a highly developed result of domestication. 
("Metaphor," Champion, Highland Show, 1910.) 

graziers, who, compelled to drive their purchased herds a 
considerable distance across the borders, found that horns 
merely contributed to accident and damage, and accordingly, 
when possible, selected hornless individuals. 

Other characteristics, less apparent than the external 
-features just described, have suffered change under domestica- 
tion, for man's influence-extends even to traits of character 
and to the deeper physiological activities. How can we com- 
pare the untameable ferocity of the Urus of Julius Caesar's 
day with the docility of the large modern breeds, or the 


wildness of the Celtic Shorthorn, adults of which were seldom 
captured by our prehistoric predecessors, with the mildness 
of Ayrshires and Galloways ? This loss in character may be 
connected with the increased weight of body and general 
lassitude of mind bred by a sheltered existence, and these 
have been fostered by the gradual reduction of the free-way 
of -the herds until their exercise is confined to the narrow 
limits of an enclosed field. The breed of the mountains 
the Highlanders still retains more than any other the spirit 
of the wild. 

A curious development, to which much attention has been 
paid since the improvement of cattle became a science, is that 
of early fattening, and the extraordinary tendency of some 
breeds to gain flesh rapidly and at an early age, speaks 
wonderfully of the power of human selection. Of all breeds 
the Shorthorn seems most to have developed the tendency 
to early maturity. The official weights of the prize-winners 
at the National Hereford Shorthorn Show at Kansas in 1900 
afford an excellent illustration of this trait. The average of 
eight prize-winners is given in each case. While heifers 
under six months old averaged 571 pounds, the weight at 
a year was 810 pounds, at two years 1270 pounds, and cows 
at three years or over weighed 1 806 pounds. At six months, 
a bull averaged 588, at a year 966, at two years 1467, while 
at three years or over the weight averaged 2298 pounds. 
It is a striking fact, emphasizing the significance of artificial 
improvement, that the breed which comes most slowly to 
maturity for the market is that which remains nearest in 
type to the original stock the West Highland for in reach- 
ing its maximum of weight the Kyloe lags about a year 
behind most of the other British breeds. 

In a last subtle respect domestication has had an as- 
tonishing effect in the development of the milk-supply of 
cows. So utterly has nature been circumvented in this 
respect that records, gathered in 1905 by the Fenwick 
Society from 18 dairies in the south of Scotland, comprising 
443 cows, show that the lactation period ranged from thirty- f 
eight to nearly forty -six weeks, and that the annual yield 
per cow averaged 875 gallons of milk. 



An account of the cattle of Scotland cannot be concluded 
without some reference to the ancient White Cattle of the 
parks, though from the point of view of domestication, they 
are neither flesh nor fish, neither the wild progenitors of 
our domestic stock nor a direct link in the cjiain between 
indigenous oxen and modern breeds. Yet they have a 
romance of their own. There can be no doubt that this fine 
race, with all the characteristics of its modern descendants, 
existed in the woods of Caledonia at a very early date : 

Mightiest of all the beasts of chase, 
That roam in woody Caledon, 
Crashing the forest m his race, 
The Mountain Bull comes thundering on. 
Fierce, on the hunter's quivered band, 
He rolls his eyes of swarthy glow, 
Spurns with black hoof and horn the sand, 
And tosses high his mane of snow. 


To-day the remnants of the White Cattle are preserved in a 
few parks of which the chief are in Scotland, and in these 
they have developed into more or less distinct races; but 
Harting in his account of British Wild White Cattle refers 
to twenty-two herds enclosed at one time or another by 
Royal assent, and Rev. John Storer, in his Wild White 
Cattle of Great Britain, records as many as "forty localities 
where wild white cattle or their domesticated descendants 
are proved to have existed." 

Our earliest historians regarded these White Cattle 
"spotless bulls," as Ossian calls them, with their strange 
black muzzles, ears and hoofs as truly wild, though it is 
curious that all their early accounts seem to refer to animals 
kept more or less under protection in woods and parks. "The 
great wood" of Chillingham in Northumberland is referred 
to as early as 1220, and in records of the year 1292, wild 
cattle are distinctly mentioned as inhabiting it, though their 
distinctive features are not specified. The earliest description 
with which I am acquainted is that of Hector Boece, pub- 
lished in 1527, which in Bellenden's translation runs: 

At this toun [Stirling] began the gret wod of Calidon. This wod of 
Calidon ran fra Striveling throw Menteith and Stratherne to Atholl and 


Lochquhabir as Ptoleme writtis in his first table. In this wod wes sum time 
quhit bullis, with crisp and curland mane, like fiers lionis; and thoucht 
thay semit meik and tame in the remanent figure of thair bodyis, thay wer 
mair wild than ony uthir beistis, and had sic hatrent aganis the societi and 
cumpany of men, that thay come nevir in the woddis na lesuris.quhair thay 
fand ony-feit or haund thairof: and, mony dayis efter, they eit nocht of the 
herbis that wer.twichit or handillitt be men. Thir bullis wer sa wild, that 
thay wer nevir tane but slicht and crafty laubaur: and sa impacient, that, 
<iftir thair takingf thay deit for importable doloure. Als sone as ony man 
invadit thir bullis, thay ruschit with so terrible preis on him, that thay dang 
him to the eird, takand na feir of houndis, scharp lands, nor uthir maist 
penetrive wappinis. ' 

King Robert the Bruce is said to have endangered his life 
in hunting the white bulls of Torwood, for one being " sair 
wundit be the hunteris, it ruschit feircelie on the king, how- 
beit he had na wappinis in his hand to debait himself fra the 
dint theirof." Yet by the service of a retainer he escaped. 

Even in the sixteenth century, however, the White 
Cattle were exceedingly few in number, for Lindsay of 
Pitscottie concludes his account written in years preceding 
1565, by stating that "because the flesch was pleasant and 
daintie to the mouth, the haill race of them almost is ex- 
tinguished," and Bishop Leslie, writing only a few years 
later (1578) is still more doubtful of their survival, which 
was vouched for only by hearsay: "In quhilke ["Tor 
Wod," the Caledonian forest], onlie, eftir the commoune 
speiking, war the quhyte kye fund, of quhilkes now restes 
verie few or nane." (Dalrymple's Translation.) Leslie's 
account of the "kye, oussin [oxen] and wilde bullis" is 
worth quoting from the same translation, on account of the 
description and quaint Scots expressions: 

In this Wod war nocht onlie kye bot oxne and Bules snawquhyte with 
a mane thick and syde, quhilke thay beir lyke the mane of a lyone. Thay 
mairouer war sa cruel and wylde that frome mankynde thay abhored in sik 
a sorte that quhateuir thing the handis of men had twechet, or the air of 
thair mouthis had blawne vpon or endet as we speik, frome al sik thay 
absteined mony dayes thaireftir. Farther, this oxx or Bull was sa baulde, 
that nocht only in his yre or quhen he was prouoked walde he ouircum 
horsmen, bot euin feiret he nathing nathir tyred he, commonlie al men to 
invade baith with homes and feit ye the dogis, quhilkes with vs ar maist 
violent, he regardet nocht bot walde elate him with his cluifes or kaithe 
him on his homes. His flesche was all girsslie bot of a trim taist. He was 
afortymes a frequent beist in this Torr Wod, but now consumed throuch 
the gluttonie of men only in thrie places is left, in the Park of Striuiling, 
the Wod of Cummirnalde and of Kinkairne. 


It is quite clear from these and other contemporaneous 
descriptions, that however numerous and truly wild the 
White Cattle may once have been in Scotland, and there 
is no evidence on these points except the hearsay of the 
"commoune speiking," they were scarce enough in the six- 
teenth century, when they were already the guarded inmates 
of parks. The latter point is emphasized in a document of 
1570 recording a charge brought against retainers of the 
Regent Lennox of having 

slain and destroyed the deer in John Fleming's forest of Cumbernauld, 
and the white kye and bulls of the said forest, to the great destruction of 
police and hinder of the commonweal; for that kind of kye and bulls has 
been kept there many years in the said forest, and the like was not main- 
tained in any other part of the isle of Albion, as is well known. 

During the intervening four centuries the numbers of 
White Cattle have been increased through careful protection 
and breeding, until there are now several well-known races, 
but the early records have some bearing on the controversy 
as to the origin of the race as a whole. 

It is impossible and would be profitless to enter here 
into the details of this controversy. It is sufficient to say 
that it is held on the one hand, that the White Cattle are 
the direct descendants and representatives of the Wild Urus 
(Bos taurus primigenius] which inhabited the wilds of Scot- 
land from prehistoric times till perhaps even the days of the 
brochs or " Pictish Towers"; and that, on the other hand, 
such high genealogy is denied them, and they are said to be 
descendants of a domesticated race of the Urus, .which were 
preserved on account of their peculiarities of colour, and 
were allowed the run of the Scottish forests. There is little 
reliable evidence, as the quotations given above show, that 
the White Cattle had ever a wide distribution in Scotland, 
and the early bone deposits are silent as to their presence. 
Indeed, the evidence, in strong contrast to that regarding 
the Urus and the Celtic Shorthorn, rather points to their 
presence only as animals more or less under protection in 
limited reserves; on the whole, the latter of the two con- 
trasted views seems to be favoured by the weight of opinion 
at the present day. 

5 : 



With flying forelock and dishevelled mane, 

They caught the wild steed prancing o'er the plain, 

For war or pastime reined his fiery force. 

"THE Horse in his Nature is as gentle and docile, as in 
Appearance he is a noble, majestic and well-proportioned 
Animal, but his peculiar Excellencies are determined by the 
Service for which he is designed," wrote Dr John Campbell 
in his Political Survey (1774), and therein he epitomizes 
the influence of man, for he goes on to say, "We require 
Horses for various Purposes, and to suit these they must 
have various Properties, indeed so various, that what are 
regarded as Excellencies, in some, would be Defects in 
others." Our present problem lies in endeavouring to discover 
in what ways in Scotland man has played upon the struc- 
ture and nature of Horses for his own "various Purposes." 


It has often been taken for granted that the Horse, like the 
Celtic Shorthorn and the Sheep, first made its appearance in 
Scotland in the train of the herdsmen immigrants of the New 
Stone Age; but long before man placed his foot in these 
northern regions, their plains were the sporting grounds of 
herds of wild native horses. Whether the primitive horses 
whose remains have been found in the Forest Bed of Norfolk, 
ever made their way to Scotland, it is impossible to say, for 
the glaciers of the Ice Age have long since scoured away pos- 
sible evidences of that highly probable invasion; but ten bones 
of small horses were discovered during the cutting of a line 
of railway near Crofthead in Renfrewshire, in a series of de- 
posits five feet below a layer in which were found remains of 
the Giant Fallow Deer or "Irish Elk " (Megaceros giganteus] 
and of the Urus (Bos taurus primigenius}. There can be 


little doubt that the horses represented in this deep deposit 
entered Scotland during one of the milder inter-glacial periods 
which broke the continuity of the Age of Ice. 

Deposits of later date also afford evidence of the presence 
of horses at an early stage in the development of modern 
Scotland. Bones of two horses, along with those of the Wolf, 
the Reindeer and the Fox, were discovered in a rock fissure 
of post-glacial age in the Pentland Hills; the marl mosses 
of Forfarshire, according to Lyell, entomb many of their 
remains; and the bones of horses were found in 1868 em- 
bedded at the depth of between six and eight feet in a peat- 
moss at Balgone near North Berwick. I have seen in the 
Hunterian Museum in Glasgow a lower jaw and cannon- 
bone found, probably in the river-gravels of the Clyde, during 
excavations in Stockwell Street, Glasgow. These later relics, 
however, have scarcely the same significance as those of the 
Crofthead deposits, for it is possible that some of them may 
represent the domesticated herds of the Neolithic inhabitants. 

What was the nature of the horse which inhabited 
Scotland before the coming of man ? The Crofthead bones 
were said to represent an animal with the essential char- 
acteristics of the horse (Eqims caballus), but a third smaller 
than ordinary horses of to-day. The solitary cannon-bone 
of the Stockwell Street horse shows that it belonged to 
a slender-limbed race, for its length is seven times its 
breadth (the length being 238 mm. and the width at the 
middle 34 mm.), a characteristic feature of a type of small 
horse, designated by Professor Cossar Ewart the desert or 
plateau type. This race frequented the valleys of Italy in the 
preglacial Pliocene Period, and in Glacial times wandered 
over the plains of France, and thence into the still-connected 
land of Britain. From the remains found in various parts 
of W 7 estern Europe, a fair estimate can be made of the 
appearance of the Scottish predecessor of the domesticated 
races. It was a small animal, as horses go, from about i2'2 
to 14 hands, that is 50 to 56 inches, high at the shoulder, 
with long slender limbs. Its head was small, its face fine 
and narrow, with a straight profile. Of the colour of its coat 
and the nature of its mane and tail, there is naturally no 
direct evidence from the prehistoric remains, but Professor 
Ewart is of opinion that it was closely related to a modern 


type which he has designated the Celtic pony (Equus agilis 
celticus] and which attains its most characteristic development 
in the small yellowish dun, long and strong maned, short 
docked, shaggy ponies of northern Iceland (see, Fig. 15). 
These lack any trace of "chestnuts " or callosities on the inner 
surface of the hind legs, of "ergots" or fetlock callosities 
on all legs, and possess highly specialized tails with a thick 
bunchy tail-lock which develops in winter and shields the 
thighs from rain and storm. 

Did this slender-limbed graceful horse which predomi- 
nated on the plains of the Glacial Age the "plateau" type 
of Ewart (Equus agilis] survive in Scotland at the advent 
of man 2 If man did find it when he first settled on the coasts 
of North Britain, did he succeed in taming it and turning it 
to his own uses, or did the Neolithic wanderers bring with 
them from the continent, horses already domesticated, which 
were to form the foundation of our modern breeds ? 

To these questions it is impossible to give dogmatic 
answers, mainly owing to the scant examination given to 
the treasures of many an early Scottish excavation yielding 
animal remains. But the presumptive evidence is strong 
that the "plateau" horse was domesticated in this or another 
country, and formed part of the domestic stock of the people 
of the New Stone Age, for small slender-limbed horses have 
been characteristic of Scotland from time immemorial. That 
the horse still existed in Scotland just prior to or con- 
temporaneous with the arrival of the Neolithic peoples, is 
hinted at by the discovery of bones, of what particular race 
of horse has not been determined, in the Fifty- Foot Raised 
Beach at Shewalton near Irvine in Ayrshire. This Fifty- 
Foot Beach, it will be remembered, is that which has yielded 
the earliest evidence of man's appearance in Scotland, and 
though it contains, in its development on the east coast, 
skeletons of Whales and implements manufactured from Deer 
antlers and used by man, it has hitherto afforded no indica- 
tion of the presence of domestic animals. 



Neolithic man in Scotland, however, was acquainted with 
the horse, as is clearly shown by the occurrence of charac- 
teristic bones in the shell-mound settlement at Ardrossan, 
and in the late Neolithic horned or chambered cairns of 
Caithness at Ormiegill near Ulbster, Garrywhin near Clythe 
and Hill of Bruan, and in the chambered cairn at Loch 
Stennis in Orkney. 

Fig- 15. Celtic Pony (in rough winter coat) probably bears close resemblance 
to the native pony of Scotland. ^V nat - si ze - 

In later ages, the horse became more and more familiar 
to the Scottish races, as is revealed by the frequency with 
which its remains appear in contemporaneous deposits. In 
Scottish crannogs or lake-dwellings it is rarely found, though 
where its remains occur, as at Lochlee near Tarbolton in 
Ayrshire, they indicate a "small variety." In the few clearly 
defined deposits of the Bronze and Iron Ages in Scotland, 
the horse is represented, but by no means universally nor 
so frequently as oxen or sheep. Passages have often been 


quoted from Julius Caesar and other Roman historians, to 
show that on the arrival of the Romans, the Britons possessed 
active horses of great speed and dexterity. Furthermore, that 
they had domesticated them in considerable numbers is shown 
by the statement that "Cassivelaunus, when he dismissed his 
Army, retained four thousand of his Chariots to harass the 
Romans when they attempted to forage." The men of 
Caledonia were equally well supplied with small active 
horses, for Tacitus in his Life of Agricola recounts that at 
the Battle of Mons Graupius, somewhere to the north of 
the Tay, 

the intermediate space between both armies was filled with the charioteers 
and cavalry of the Britons, rushing to and fro in wild career, and traversing 
the plain with noise and tumult. 

That the Romans themselves added races of their own 
to the ponies already established in Caledonia, is clearly 
demonstrated by Mr James Curie's and Professor Cossar 
E wart's researches at the Roman station of Newstead near 
Melrose; for 

in addition to well-bred ponies under 13 hands at the withers, the auxiliaries 
who held the Border fort during the first century had 14 hands horses as 
fine in head and limbs as modern high-caste Arabs. In all probability, the 
better bred horses, measuring about 14 hands, belonged to the cavalry and 
mounted men (about one in four) attached to the infantry regiments, while 
the coarse-headed animals of more powerful build (measuring nearly 15 
hands) were as a rule used for transport. 

In the centuries following the Roman occupation, the 
native settlements all tell of the presence of a small domesti- 
cated race of horses, the bones of which, with those of other 
domestic animals, occur in Romano-British settlements, as 
at Borness Cave in Kirkcudbrightshire; in underground 
"Picts"' or "Eird" houses, at Kildrummy in Aberdeenshire 
and even in the outlying islands as at Nisibost in Harris; in 
hill-forts, as at Dunsinane in Perthshire; occasionally in the 
"Pictish Towers" or brochs, as at Keiss in Caithness, and 
Burray and Sandwick in Orkney; and in shell-mounds and 
kitchen-middens of various periods down to the sixteenth 
century pre- Reformation accumulations of the monastery and 
nunnery of lona. 

Examination of the remains and- records of many refuse- 
heaps of man shows clearly that the horse never became so 
common or so widely distributed as oxen or sheep, and that 


amongst the tribes of cave-dwellers who frequented caverns by 
the sea, and subsisted mainly upon the shell-fish of the beach, 
it was almost unknown. In one of the few caves in which 
it has been found that at Borness in Kirkcudbrightshire 
three horse bones were identified as against 630 bones of 
sheep and 1112 of cattle. In interpreting such evidence as 
the deposits yield, however, it is well to keep in mind that the 
bone heaps as a rule represent the remains of human food, 
and that although in early times horse-flesh was commonly 
used as food, in later times it was proscribed by Christians 
and ceased to be used about the year 1000 of our era. 


It is unfortunate that little is known of the finer racial 
characteristics which the relics of the bone deposits might 
have yielded to expert scrutiny. As regards the majority of 
the prehistoric and early historic periods the most we can 
say is that the horses were invariably small in size, and were 
yet strong, hardy and active. Much can be learned, however, 
by reading backwards, as it were, from the representatives 
of modern breeds, and from their present-day developments 
tracing the influences which have played upon them. 

In the endeavour to eliminate the results of the later 
influence of man upon animals by discovering the modern 
races which most nearly approach in character to the original 
indigenous forms, it is a safe rule to begin the search in those 
.areas most remote from the centres of cultivation and civiliza- 
tion. In discussing the sheep and oxen of Scotland we have 
seen that the primitive breeds, like the earlier races of 
man himself have been gradually ousted from the highly 
cultivated lowlands by newcomers, and have been driven to 
the strongholds of the mountains and outlying islands. This 
rule which governs the distribution of the primitive Highland 
cattle and the old Hebridean, Orkney and Shetland sheep, 
holds also for horses the horses which survive at the 
present day in the Hebrides and in Shetland offer the nearest 
approaches to that native race or races which peopled Scot- 
land in days before the arrival of man. To these island races 
we appeal in order to discover the minimum effects of man's 
influence on modern Scottish breeds. 



A characteristic race of small horses, now approaching 
nearer and nearer to extinction, is still to be found in the 
outer islands on the west coast. As its characters show, the 
race is one of great antiquity; and since the isolation of 
the islands is sufficient almost to eliminate chances of any 
considerable cross-breeding, we can safely assume that the 
bones of a very small horse found in an ancient underground 
"Picts"' or "Eird" house at Nisibost in Harris are those of 
the earliest known representative of the Hebridean race. 
Perhaps from the same ancient line were descended the 
horses whose remains were found by Mr Symington Grieve 
in the upper strata of the Crystal Spring Cavern in Colonsay, 
where they had evidently been used as food, for the bones 
of young animals were more plentiful than those of adults. 

Early historic references to the horses of the outer isles 
are few in number. In 1549, Monro noted that amongst 
the western isles there 

layes ane little ile, half ane myle lang, callit be the Eriche, Ellannaneache, 
that is in English, the Horse isle, guid for horse and uther store, pertaining 
to the Bishope of the iles. 

Martin Martin, in 1703, said of Lewis that 

the Horses are considerably less here than in the opposite continent, yet 
they plow and harrow as well as bigger Horses, tho' in the Spring time they 
have nothing to feed upon but sea-ware. 

Of the St Kilda individuals the same writer says merely 
that they are "of a lower size than in the adjacent Isles," a 
diminutiveness no doubt due to the severe conditions of their 
life on this isolated and storm-swept island. In 1876 the 
horses of St Kilda had become extinct, though at that time 
middle-aged men could still recall their former presence. 
Even in 1764, when Macaulay described them, they were 
verging on extinction for, said he, "all the horses of St Kilda 
are only ten, including foals and colts, they are of a very 
diminutive size, but are extremely well cast, full of fire and 
very hardy." 

The Hebridean ponies are commonly of a brownish-black 
or a foxey-red colour, though there are occasional duns and 
greys, and one race, that of Uist, like the ponies of the Faroe 
^Islands, is distinguished by a striking silvery mane and tail 



(Fig. 1 6). They bear a coat of thick rough hair, are of small 
size, only 50 to 54 inches (12-2 to 13-2 hands) high at the 
shoulder, and in the old, almost extinct race of Barra, have 
fine limbs, and rather large heads with straight profile and flat 
nose. In this Hebridean race Professor Ewart considers 
that we have "a remnant of a very old and once widely 
distributed variety, the origin of which is never likely to be 

Fig. 16. Hebridean pony Uist race a primitive breed approaching 
extinction. ^ nat. size. 

Yet the Hebridean race, primitive as are many of its 
features, has not escaped the later influence of man, for 
Mr J. H. Munro Mackenzie, a close student of Highland 
ponies, considers that some of its members on Mull, Tiree, 
Skye and Uist, and parts of the western mainland, 

show a very strong cross of Arab blood, which is believed to have come by 
Spanish Armada horses, or Arab chargers brought home by Highland 
officers. The ponies have beautiful heads and good shoulders : are good 
all over; famous for staying through long journeys under heavy weights 
and on poor keep. 

Individuals of dun or grey colour generally show most 


trace of Arab blood, and their height at the shoulder ranges 
from 54 to 58 inches (13*2 to 14/2 hands); so the results of 
the cross are still apparent in size as well as in build. 


No race of horses stands higher in the affection of the 
Scottish people than the " Shelties " or " Shulties " of the 
Shetlands (Fig. 17). Their neatness and grace no less than 
their gentleness and docility have contributed to this popu- 
larity, and to these they add the distinction of long lineage. 
Strangely enough, though remains of horses are common 
in prehistoric and early historic dwellings in Orkney, relics 
of the early horses of Shetland have come to light in only one 
excavation in the kitchen-midden of the " Pictish Tower" 
or broch at Jarlshof, Sumburgh, explored in 1911; but these 
Professor Ewart regards as sufficient to indicate a pony of 
ancient type not more than twelve hands high the earliest 
known representative of the "sheltie." The characteristics of 
the early race are indicated in a figure of a small horse sculp- 
tured in relief on the early Christian monument of Bressay, 
which probably belonged to a period between the ninth and 
eleventh centuries. The evidence of these discoveries makes 
it tolerably certain that Shetland had its native race of ponies 
before the invasions of the Norsemen in the ninth and suc- 
ceeding centuries. However closely the prehistoric pony of 
the Shetland Isles may have approached in character the 
slender-limbed Celtic pony of the Ice Age, it is clear that the 
incursions and settlement of the Scandinavians must have 
influenced its later history. For with them they brought 
their own Norse ponies, small, hardy, stout-limbed, yellow- 
dun animals, which, reared under similar stern conditions of 
food and climate, would be able to survive in islands which 
have proved fatal to most other introduced breeds. So it 
came to be that before written history took up the tale of 
the shelties, the original race of the "plateau" type already 
contained an admixture of Norse blood of the heavier 
"forest" type. 

The earliest description with which I am acquainted is 
that of Jerome Cardan, an Italian doctor, who spent a few 
weeks in Scotland in the summer of 1552, and was struck 



by the very characters which Shetland ponies still pre- 
eminently exhibit diminutiveness and docility. The islands 
of Shetland, he writes, possess " equi exiles et asinis quasi 
similer tarn patentia quern magnitudine." One other quota- 
tion may be made, because, although written more than 
200 years ago, it exactly describes the ponies of the present 
day, and shows incidentally how persistently these natives of 
the stern kingdom of Shetland have retained the characters 
bequeathed them by their " plateau " and "forest" ancestors. 

Fig. 17. Shetland Pony. ("Sovereign," Champion, Highland Show, 1914.) ^V na t- size. 

In his Brief Description of Orkney, Zetland, Pight land- 
Firth and Caithness, published in 1701, the Rev. John 
Brand writes in his breathless style of the people of Shetland : 

They have a sort of little Horses called Shelties, then which no other 
are to be had, if not brought thither, from other places, they are of a less 
Size than the Orkney Horses, for some will be but 9 others 10 Nevis or 
Handbreadths high, and they will be thought big Horses there if eleven, 
and although so small yet are they full of vigour and life, and some not so 
high as others often prove to be the strongest, yea there are some, whom 
an able man can lift up in his arms, yet will they carry him and a Woman 
behind him 8 miles forward and as many back; Summer or Winter they 


never come into an House but run upon the Mountains in some places in 
flocks, and if at any time in Winter the storm be so great, that they are 
straitened for food, they will come down from the Hills when the Ebb is 
in the sea, and eat the Sea- Ware (as likewise do the Sheep).... They will 
live till a considerable Age as 26, 28, or 30 Years, and they wijl be good 
riding Horses in 24 especially they'll be the more vigorous and live the 
longer if they be 4 years old before they be put to Work. These of a black 
Colour are Judged to be the most durable, and the Pyeds often prove not 
so good; they have been more numerous then now they are, the best of 
them are to be had in Sanston and Eston also they are good in Waes and 
Yell, these of the least size are in the Northern Isles of Yell and Unst. 

The Coldness of the Air, the Barrenness of the Mountains on which 
they feed and their hard usage may occasion them to keep so little, for if 
bigger Horses be brought into the Countrey, their kind within a little time 
will degenerate; And indeed in the present case, we may see the Wisdome 
of Providence, for their way being deep and Mossie in Many places, these 
lighter Horses come through when the greater and heavier would sink 
down: and they leap over ditches very nimbly, yea up and down rugged 
Mossy braes or hillocks with heavy riders upon them, which I could not 
look upon but with Admiration, yea I have seen them climb up braes upon 
their knees, when otherwise they could not get the height overcome, so that 
our Horses would be but little if at all serviceable there. 

This Lilliputian breed, which still retains the wild habit of 
movingin droves, and of which the smallest recorded specimen 
was only 26 inches high at the shoulder, while the average 
is only 40 inches, is the nearest modern representative of 
the small race which in prehistoric days and for long ages 
inhabited the mainland of Scotland. Yet the effects of man's 
interference are evident in the diversity of its individuals, 
for while some are still slender-limbed riding ponies, others 
have assumed the thick-set characters of diminutive draught 

Examination of the horses of the mainland will show 
how much further the influence of man has gone in modifying 
the characters of the original race. 


In the opening portion of this account, the nature and 
distribution of the horses which inhabited Scotland in pre- 
historic and early historic days has already been indicated ; 
the present section shall therefore be devoted mainly to an 
account of the methods and results of man's influence on the 
primitive types. It may be stated in a sentence that the 
modes of influence are the ordinary means of the breeder 


the careful selection of the best of his stock, and the inter- 
mixture of new blood derived from races possessing qualities 
more desirable for the immediate purpose in view; and that 
the general result of man's influence has been an increase in 
size, and in specialization for particular forms of labour. It 
would simplify the intricacies of the history of the mainland 
horses if the reader were to keep in mind that the founda- 
tion upon which subsequent developments were built was 
that race of small, active, strong and hardy horses which 
the Romans found yoked to the chariots of the Caledonians 
at the battle of Mons Graupius, in the sixth year of Agricola's 
conquests in North Britain the 85th year of the Christian 

We have already seen that the researches at the Roman 
station at Newstead, conducted by Mr James Curie, led to 
the discovery that the Roman legionaries brought with them 
horses larger and heavier in build than the native Scottish 
race. There is little likelihood, however, that this importa- 
tion of what was probably the "bad and ugly " native German 
breed known to Caesar, would exert a deep influence upon 
Scottish horses, for the Roman occupation was limited in 
space and in time. 


It was a different matter with the invasions of the 
Scandinavian peoples in the ninth and succeeding centuries, 
for they formed permanent colonies and amalgamated with 
the native races in a way which the Romans never did. One 
result of this close contact is apparent in the influence the 
Norse peoples exercised upon the Scottish breed of ponies 
through their own characteristic horses. The Norse horses 
(Equus caballus typicus] were greater in stature than the 
Scottish native race, they were heavier in build, were of a 
yellow-dun colour and were noted for their intelligence and 
tractability. Their heads were short and broad with promi- 
nent eyes, their neck and shoulders heavy, their quarters 
rounded, their tails low-set, their limbs short, sturdy and large- 
jointed, and their hoofs broad. "In neck and shoulders, 
trunk and limbs," says Professor Ewart, "the Norse variety 
may be said to be intermediate between a true pony and a 
small cart-horse of the Suffolk type." To the influence of 


this "dcelehest" or valley horse, as Mr Leonhard Stejneger 
calls it, from the interior of Norway, we probably owe the 
characteristic horses of the Scottish uplands the Highland 
"Garrons" (Fig. 1 8), which average between 14 and 15 hands 
high, and are, according to Professor Robert Wallace, 

unequalled hill ponies for staying power at slow speed, sure-footedness, 
and for carrying heavy loads of deer or smaller game on rough hillsides 
and mountainous places, and bearing the sportsman to the shooting 


There are several references in early Scottish litera- 
ture to the presence of " wild horses " which existed in the 
Highlands even to the early part of the seventeenth century. 
Boece (1527) says of them (as translated by Bellenden) 
" Beside Lochnes, quhilk is xxiv milis of lenth, and xii of 
breid, ar mony wild hors," and in another place: 

In all the boundis of Scotland, except quhair continewall habitation of 
peple makis impediment thairto, is gret plente of.. .wild hors...Thir wild 
hors ar not tane but [except by] crafty slicht; for, in time of winter, the 
landwart peple puttis certane tame cursouris and maris amang thir wild 
hors; and, be thair commixtioun and frequent cumpanie makis thaim so 
tame, that thay may be handileit. 

The Forest of Birse in Aberdeenshire, also sheltered a herd 
of wild horses in 1 507 as the Records of the Sheriffdom of 
Aberdeen (vol. I, pp. 106-7) show, and it is known that there 
inhabited the hills of Sutherland till after 1545, a herd of 
"wild meris, staigs and folis" which was established as 
belonging in right to Sutherland of Duffus, when the Bishop 
of Moray laid claim to the herd. Again as late as 1618, 
Taylor the Water Poet alleges that he saw "wild horses," 
along with "deere, wolves, and such like," in the " Brea of 

Boece indicates that these "wild horses" were something 
different from the ordinary "cursouris" of his time, and it 
can be no rash step to assume that they were either native 
ponies, or crosses between these and the Norse horses, which 
in the unenclosed state of Scotland had, like representatives 
of the Park or Fallow Deer (see p. 285), run free and become 
established in the wilder districts. 

May it not also be that the many Highland traditions 
of mythical yellow horses with bristling manes and flowing 


tails, and a touch of Satanic elusiveness, are simply vague 
memories harking back to the last survivors of the yellow- 
dun native and Norse horses of the wilds ? Certainly in 
some cases the traditions are localized in areas, such as 
the Forest of Birse, or Loch Lundie in Sutherlandshire, 
where wild ponies are known to have roamed at will in cen- 
turies not long gone. 

Fig. 18. Highland Garron probably moulded by Norse influence. "Braulin,'' 
Champion, Highland Show, 1908. ^ nat. size. 


While a natural admixture of blood was taking place 
between the horses of the Norse invaders and those of the 
invaded land, primitive attempts were also being made to 
improve the races at hand, by a rough and ready method 
of selective breeding. This early system offers one easy ex- 
planation of the origin of " wild " herds. The oldest reference 
to Scottish horse-breeding of which I am aware, is contained 
in the Charter of Kelso whereby, before 1 200 A.D., Gilbert 
de Imfraville granted the monks of Kelso a tenth of the 
foals bred in his forest, and studs. The horses were bred by 

R. 6 


being let loose in the forest, where the foals ran wild for 
three years, until they were broken in. The best horses 
were selected and kept apart in the parks about the Baron's 
castle. Can there be any doubt that this system of forest- 
run horses the silvestres equi possessed by the Kings as 
well as by their Barons gave rise to the "wild horses" of 
later centuries ? 

In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the selective 
breeding of horses in Scotland became more general, but 
with one main end in view, the building up of a race fitted 
for carrying a horseman and the accoutrements and impedi- 
ments of war. There is yet no trace of the development of 
a heavy agricultural breed, for still " the slow team 6f steers 
reluctant " pressed the yoke and the horse was reserved for 
the lighter toils of carrying the fruits of the harvest to mill 
or market. There was nevertheless considerable store of 
horses in the country, for every burgess had to keep in 
stable, ready for the public service, a horse worth 20 shillings ; 
and the export to England so increased that in 1396, King 
David Bruce felt compelled to put a heavy tax one sixth 
of the value upon each horse exported, lest the country 
should become impoverished of an essential adjunct of 
war. Similar and more stern restrictions on export were 
passed periodically by Parliament during the succeeding 

Already in the fourteenth century, the persistent selection 
for war-horses had resulted in the differentiation of two 
breeds, for at the battle of Halidon Hill in the reign of 
King Robert Bruce, Froissart, who was present and describes 
the whole Scottish army of 3000 men as mounted on horse- 
back, mentions that the knights and squires rode coursers 
but the peasants small horses. Yet, more than a hundred 
years later, Aeneas Silvius, the Pope's Nuncio, describes 
our horses as mostly small-sized pacers, that were never 
dressed by brush nor comb. 

In the beginning of the fifteenth century, there was 
inaugurated a new policy of improving the old breed by 
the infusion of new blood of good quality from abroad. 
From this time on, two distinct and divergent tendencies 
are observable in the policies of the Kings : one towards 
improving the quality of horses as regards speed, the other 


towards increasing their size. Probably with the former end 
in view, James II (1437-1460) brought mares from Hun- 
gary, as Bellenden puts it, to "mend the breed," while his 
successor, James III (1460-1488), aiming at size, imported 
the "Great" or "War" Horses of England, which Sir Walter 
Gilbey regarded as the forerunners of the modern Shire. 
James IV (1488-1513), favouring the swift and lightly 
built horses of the hunt and race-course, brought to Scotland 
the best of the horses of Spain and France, as well as heavier 
horses from Poland; whereas James V (1513-1542) "seeing 
the Realm standing in much Peace and Tranquillity," as 
Lindsay of Pittscottie relates : 

rejoiced at the same thinking daily that all Things should increase more 
and more: To that Effect gart send to Denmark, and bring more great 
Horse and Mares, and put them in Parks, that, of their offspring, might be 
gotten to sustain. Wars in Time of Need. 

James also applied to Gustavus of Sweden for heavy horses, 
and in the "Black Acts" of 1535, enjoined that "in order to 
raise the size of the native breed in Scotland all manner of 
persons should plenish their studs with stud mares and great 

So, on the whim of a ruler, the pendulum swings from, 
one might almost say, quality to quantity and back again: 
at one time Henry VIII of England sends Scotland "small 
but well-proportioned " Spanish Jennets and African Barbs; 
at another time the Magnus Equus or Dextrarius the 
English Great Horse or War Horse becomes the type 
to mould the race. 

So the work of selecting and interbreeding and improving 
has gone on from the sixteenth century, gradually raising 
the quality as well as the stature jof the heavy breeds till it 
has reached its climax in the evolution of the Clydesdale. 


The Clydesdale of to-day stands as an example of the 
power of man's influence over the characteristics of the horse. 
Compare it with the prehistoric ponies of Scotland which 
probably formed the basis of its evolution : they stood little 
over 48 inches high at the shoulder, the Clydesdale stands 
64 inches and sometimes exceeds 68 ; their build was fine and 


8 4 


light, the Clydesdale's is heavy and expresses the concentra- 
tion of power; their strength in dragging the light chariots of 
the Caledonian warriors was accounted marvellous for their 
size, the Clydesdale can haul the heavily laden waggons 
of the farmer with an easy vigour; their nature was' wild, the 
temper of the Clydesdale should be docile and mild. 

From a minute examination of their external charac- 
teristics, as well as of the less patent features of the skeleton, 
modern investigators have come to the conclusion that the 

Fig. 19. Clydesdale mare a modern product of selective breeding. " Dunure Chosen," 
Champion, Highland Show, 1914. ^V nat. size. 

heavy breeds have inherited their qualities from several 
widely different original stocks;- from the original "plateau" 
or moorland type, which inhabited Britain in interglacial 
times short of stature and fine of limb, with small fine head, 
narrow and almost straight in profile ; from a " forest " type, 
large and coarsely built, with short broad face a prehistoric 
dweller in the forest-land of Central Europe; and from a 
long-faced, long-limbed, "steppe" type, which in preglacial 
times lived in the upland valleys of the East. 

However this may be, the influence of man is singularly 


manifest in the history of Scottish horse-breeding, selecting 
here and rejecting there, bringing now one race, then an- 
other from across the seas to " mend the breed," till inch 
after inch up to a cubit is added to the stature, and the first 
clear step made by the incoming of the Norse pony is 
capped by the importation of the great black Flemish 
stallion of Lochlyoch which about 1750 founded the race of 

II. 4 m 

OF the lesser animals which have shared man's protection 
in return for services demanded of them, some have fallen 
under his influence to a much greater extent than others, but 
there are few which do not exhibit in some character or 
other, the effect of his control. It is possible to discuss here 
only those which have been brought into closest touch with 
the civilization of Scotland. 


Mastiff, greyhound, mongrel grim, 
Hound or spaniel, brach or lym, 
Or bobtail tyke or trundle-tail. 

Whatever their characters be, dogs one and all owe their 
parentage to wild species of the races of Wolves and Jackals. 
Their origin is lost in the haze of ages ; some 3000 to 4000 
years B.C., the Egyptians had their distinct breeds, and 
the Lake-dwellers of the Swiss valleys possessed a domesti- 
cated form of the Indian wolf. The chances are, therefore, 
that the Neolithic immigrants to Scotland brought with them 
dogs already domesticated; but the difficulty of distinguish- 
ing between the bones of the early wolf-like dog and the wolf 
itself, tends to obscure such information as might be gleaned 
from the prehistoric deposits of Scotland. I have already 
shown that the first comers to Scotland possessed no do- 
mestic animals, but bones attributed to early dogs have been 
found in river gravel near Currie in Midlothian, and buried 
in peat on Morbhaich Moor near Tain in Ross-shire. It is 
highly probable, moreover, that the dog was familiar to the 
people of the late Neolithic period in Scotland some 2000 


years before our era for in 1870 Dr Joseph Anderson re- 
cognized the bones of dogs, along with those of other domes- 
ticated animals, in the horned cairns of Ormiegill and Garry- 
whin in Caithness; and in 1885, a skilled anatomist, Dr J. 
G. Garson, of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, 
identified remains of the dog from the chambered cairn near 
Loch Stennis in Orkney. 

In later days the dog became more common. It occurs 
in the Roman deposits at Newstead; the early Christians 
carved its figure upon their symbol stones ; in a few under- 
ground " Picts' " or " Eird " houses its remains have been 
found jaws of dogs at Kildrummy in Aberdeenshire, and 
bones at Nisibost in Harris ; shell-mounds and kitchen- 
middens of various ages contain its bones, at Kirkoswald in 
Ayrshire and near Seacliff in East Lothian, where several 
dogs " of a large size" were represented, even to the six- 
teenth century refuse-heap in the cloisters of the Nunnery 
at lona, which revealed the presence of a small dog, probably 
a pet of the inmates. The caves and rock shelters tell of 
the presence of the dog, not only by actual remains as at 
St Cyrus, at Oban, at St Ninian's Cave in Wigtownshire, and 
in the rock-shelter at West Kilbride, where Prof. Clellancl 
identified bones as belonging to an individual as large 
as a shepherd's dog of to-day, but also, as at the Wemyss 
Caves of Fife, by the abundant traces of tooth-marks and 
chewed ends of bones of food animals, which leave no doubt 
that a carnivore was constantly present on the rubbish heap 
of the settlement. In the brochs, covering a period almost 
to the ninth century, the dog is by no means common, though 
it has been found in Sutherland (Cinn Trolla), Caithness 
(Kettleburn and Keiss) and Orkney, but an interesting 
feature of the broch remains revealed both at Keiss and 
Kettleburn, is that two breeds of dogs were in the pos- 
session of the inhabitants, some bones indicating "a large 
species, larger than a pointer, others being of smaller dogs." 

Even if it be admitted that the dog reached Scotland a 
domesticated animal, it seems nevertheless true that the 
Scottish peoples paid much attention to and exercised con- 
siderable influence on its development, a fact to be correlated 
with another, that, as Boece tells, "the Scottis...set their" 
ingine [ingenuity] to precell [excel] all uthir pepill in the 


craft of hunting." Laws were made regulating the breeding 
of hunting dogs, and watch-dogs were held in such esteem 
that an Act of David I (1124-1153 A.D.) demanded that a 
man who slew another man's house-dog should watch on 
his midden a year and a day, and should be responsible for 
any loss during that time. 

The result of such attention was that at an early date, 
according to the ancient writers, Scotland came to possess 
dogs peculiarly her own. " Bloodhounds were known in 
England at least as early as 1570," wrote Mr R. Lydekker, 
but many years earlier the "sleuth " was a familiar Scottish 
dog. It is impossible to deal here with the many influences 
of selection and cross-breeding brought to bear in the crea- 
tion of new races. It will be enough to indicate the main 
results of the earlier Scottish influence as recounted by 
Hector Boece in 1527. 

In Scotland ar doggis of mervellus nature: for abone the commoun 
nature and conditioun of doggis, quhilkis^ar sene in all partis, ar thre 
maner of doggis in Scotland, quhilk ar sene in na uthir parts of the warld. 
The first is ane hound, baith wicht, hardy and swift. Thir houndis ar 
nocht allanerlie feirs and cruell on all wild beistis, bot on thevis and 
ennimes to thair maister, on the same maner. The secound kind is ane 
rache, that sekis thair pray, baith of fowlis, beistis and fische, be sent and 
smell of thair neis. The thrid kind is na mair [larger] than ony rache; reid 
hewit, or ellis blak, with small spraingis of spottis: and ar callit be the peple 
sleuthoundis. Thir doggis hes sa mervellus wit, that thay serche thevis 
and followis on thaim allanerlie be sent of the guddis that ar tane away; 
and nocht allanerlie findis the theif, bot invadis him with gret crueltie, 
and thoucht the thevis oftimes cors the watter, quhair thay pas, to caus the 
hound to tine the sent of thaim and the guddis, yit he serchis heir and 
thair with sic deligence, that, be his fut, he findis baith the trace of the 
theif and the guddis. The mervellus nature of thir houndis wil have na 
faith with uncouth peple; howbeit the samin ar richt frequent and rife on 
the bordouris of Ingland and Scotland. Attour it is statute, be the lawis of 
the Bordouris, he that denyis entres to the sleuthound, in time of chace 
and serching of guddis, sal be haldin participant with the crime and thift 

Bishop Leslie (1578) adds further details regarding the 
first clearly an early deerhound that it is "gretter than 
ane tuelfmoneth [twelvemonth] aide calfe ; and this sorte 
commonlie huntis the gretter beistes, as ye sail sie, athir 
the harte or the wolfe." Leslie also describes several other 
Scottish races of "senting dogs" and "slwthhundes," and 
concludes, "Of the varietie of Messen dogs, w c quhilkes 


gentle women vses to recreate thamselfes, althoch be mony 
and infinite, I will nocht heir make mentione." 

These quotations are sufficient to show that Scotland 
took its share in that marvellous juggling with the endow- 
ments of nature which, from two or three wild species, of 
similar shape and character, equally ferocious, bloodthirsty 
and deceitful, has created the docility, gentleness and faith- 
fulness of the deerhound and the " toy," dogs that bark 
and silent dogs, dogs that rely upon their sight and dogs 
that, as Boece quaintly says, rely upon the "sent and 
smell of their neis [nose]," dogs whose ears are their chief 
guide, dogs that point the game and dogs that retrieve it, 
dogs that depend on length of limb and dogs that depend on 
strength of jaw, dogs for the fray and dogs for the home. 


" Swine, though never esteemed for their Beauty, in their 
Nature rather disagreeable," nevertheless possess a special 
interest, since there can be little doubt that they belong to 
the limited number of domesticated animals which were led 
from the forest to the fold within the bounds of Scotland. 
And Scotland can show, better than most countries, the steps 
of that sorry progress. 

Th'e Wild Boar (Sus scrofa] (Fig. 20, p. 91), common in 
the great forest areas of Europe, especially in the woods of 
the Vosges, as well as in Asia and North Africa, was at one 
time also a common denizen of the forests of Britain. Its 
remains have been found in peat at Balgone in Haddington- 
shire, as well as in the marl mosses ; and numerous tusks, 
found amongst the food refuse of the prehistoric peoples 
of Scotland, tell of the far-off times when 

The sad barbarian, roving, mixed 

With beasts of prey, or for his acorn meal 

Fought the fierce tusky boar. 

At each period of early Scottish development, it is re- 
presented. The frequent occurrence of its bones in the 
Neolithic chambered and horned cairns of Caithness and 
Orkney ; in cave deposits, as at Colonsay, where its 
gradual extinction can be traced; in kitchen-middens and 
shell-mounds; in crannogs or lake-dwellings, as at Lochlee 


in Ayrshire, Black Loch in Wigtownshire, and the Loch of 
Forfar ; in the Roman station at Newstead ; and in the 
brochs of Orkney and Caithness these show that it was 
a common article of food even to about the ninth century of 
our era. There are many references in tradition and in 
place-names to the presence of the wild boar in Scotland: 
"Swinton" and the neighbouring "Swinwood" in Berwick- 
shire, clearly hint at a time when the district was overrun by 
its herds. The town of St Andrews stands upon the "Cape 
of Boars " Muckross ; the village of Boarhills lies a few 
miles along the coast to the south-east, and in the Boar's 
Chase in the neighbourhood, a district eight miles wide by 
about four in breadth, the Kings of Scotland made sport of 
the ancestors of the domestic pig. History tells us too, how, 
in the twelfth century, King Alexander I " dotat [presented] 
the Bairrink, because ane bair [Scots for boar~\ that did gret 
injurie to the pepyle was slain in the said field," or as Wyn- 
toun puts the story of Bellenden : 

That land thai oysyd all 
The Barys rayk all tyme to call, 
Wes gyvyn on that condytyowne 
To found there a relygyowne. 

Not many years passed before the persecution of the 
boar by royal and less noble hunters led to its gradual dis- 
appearance. The accounts of the Sheriff of Forfar for the 
year 1263 bear witness to a charge made in that year, for 
4^ chalders of corn for the support of wild boars, porci sil- 
vestres" which are grouped with the King's horses and dogs 
an indication that life was less easy than formerly for the 
wild boars in the forests of Strathmore. 

From this fine creature of the primeval forest, 

That cruell boare, whose tusks turned up whole fields of graine 
And wrooting, raised hills upon the levell plaine, 

man in his wisdom has bred the common swine. When the 
transformation was wrought in Scotland I have been unable 
to determine, for there is little to distinguish the odd bones 
of the early domestic pig from those of its wild ancestor, but 
the process must have been a gradual one. I believe, how- 
ever, that this very indistinctness of the early remains, and 
the ease with which the wild boar can be domesticated for 
if wild pigs be taken young from their mothers they become 



nearly as domesticated as the hereditary domestics together 
with the presence of a primitive breed of pigs in the Western 
Highlands and Islands, give good grounds for supposing 
that the prehistoric peoples of Scotland domesticated their 
own pigs. 


It is clear that at whatever early age the domestication 
of the pig took place in Scotland, for many centuries its 
herds were allowed to roam at large, picking up what food 
the forest yielded in the autumn, and encouraged to glean 
probably not too precarious a living by performing the work 
of scavengers in the towns and villages. Their enthusiasm 
in this latter labour made them in the end such a nuisance 
that the Assize of Haddington felt compelled, on the i2th 
of July 1530, to check their activities, for under that date 

The Sys [Assize] ordains that the hangman sail escheit to hymself all 
swyne doggs and catts at he fyndis one [on] the gait [street] fra this nycht 
furcht [forward]. 

And this statute not having the desired effect of clearing off 
the roving herds, the Council further ordained : " Penult of 
Octr. 1543 Item all muk to be put off the Gait and all 
swyne to be put off the Towne." The estimation in which 
the pig was held, and its domesticated quality about this 
time, may be judged from the then Food Controller's price, 
fixed in 1551, when young swine ("gryse") were valued at 
i8d. each, less than the price of a couple of capons (is. each) 
and little more than the price of a goose (is. 4^.). 

The ancient " Leges Forestarum," generally attributed 
to the reign of William the Lion (1165-1214 A.D.), but 
perhaps of somewhat later date, give evidence of the roving 
nature of the early herds of swine ; for while they provided 
that proclamation should be made in the parish kirk that 
swine as a rule were prohibited from entering the forest, 
they summoned burghers and husbandmen to bring their 
herds in the autumn to where oaks abounded, so that the 
king might benefit from the pannagium, a payment in kind 
due for pasturage on the feasts of acorns the Crown 
claiming the best of ten swine and the forester a hog. 

What became of these wild, roving, worthless Scottish 


pigs? In the Highlands and Islands of Scotland there 
existed till after the middle of the nineteenth century a race 
of pigs of primitive character (Fig. 20, p. 91). They are 
generally spoken of as domesticated pigs which had run wild, 
and under natural conditions had reverted towards the type 
of the wild boar. But there is no definite evidence that they 
were ever anything better than they became, and I prefer to 
regard them as survivors of the early stages of domestication, 
which, like the primitive breeds of Sheep, Oxen and Horses, 
had been driven by the advances of civilization to the refuges 
of the outlying parts of our island. In many ways they re- 
sembled the wild hogs from which they sprang, and in this 
their interest lies, for they are a stepping-stone between the 
Wild Boar and the Common Pig. 

Look at their characteristics as Prof. D. Low found them 
in 1845. Like their wild ancestors they had erect ears, an 
arched back with coarse bristles along neck and spine, and 
they were of dusky brown colour. They retained many 
wild habits, foraged for themselves on heath-clad hills or 
moors, grubbing up the roots of plants with their strong- 
snouts, devouring, when they could find them, eggs and 
young of hill-birds, such as Plovers and Grouse, and even 
defenceless new-born lambs. Like the wild boars of north- 
eastern France to-day, they were the plague of the cultivated 
lands, now raiding potato-fields, now destroying corn crops. 
Lastly, they resembled wild pigs in their general build, 
having the small bodies and long legs of creatures whose food 
and safety depend upon their activity. 

Similar primitive pigs existed also up to the latter half of 
last century in Shetland and in Orkney, where the small huts 
which used to afford them shelter on the moors may still be 
seen. It is interesting to recall that the hair of the Orkney 
pig was so long that the men of Hoy, as Rev. Geo. Low 
tells (i 774), preferred it for making the ropes on which they 
risked their lives collecting birds' eggs on the cliffs; for the 
elasticity of the swines' hair rope hindered it from cutting 
on sharp rock edges, though this advantage was somewhat 
counterbalanced by a proneness on the part of the rope to 
untwist, to the destruction of its human burden. 

Yet domestication had its influence even on this primi- 
tive breed : the simple pigs of the Highlands and Islands 


fed by day instead of keeping to the hours of twilight and 
night preferred by their wild ancestors; they were more 
sociable, too, for the male kept with the herd instead of 
retiring periodically to his solitary lair, as the wild boar does; 
and though the Highland pigs were wilder and more active 
than Lowland breeds, they never had the ferocity, the 
strength, nor the swiftness of the wild animals, which can 
keep pace for a time with a horse at speed. 

Nevertheless it is a far cry from the primitive Highland 
race to the modern improved breeds of to-day (Fig. 21). 

Fig. 21. Finished product of domestication Large White Boar, "King of the Groves," 
Champion, Highland Show, 1912. 

By reducing his domesticated pigs' activity, by supplying 
food far more abundant than the wilds yield, by selecting 
such as fell in with his views of what a pig ought to be, 
and by cross-breeding the descendants of the European 
Wild Hog with the Chinese breed of the Wild Indian Pig, 
Sus indica, man has profoundly modified their appearance 
and habits. Their bodies have increased in length as well 
as in depth, their legs have shortened and become more 
spread to bear the heavy bulk ; their ears, no longer given 
to catching the first whisper of danger, have flapped uselessly 
across the ear-opening ; their noses, no longer required for 


strenuous grubbing, have sunk backwards upon their faces as 
the face muscles have degenerated ; the skull has changed 
profoundly; the tusks of the male, no longer tested in savage 
duels, have dwindled ; and the food canal, exercised by over- 
much food, has lengthened. Even habits have changed : the 
domestic pig feeds by day, the male no longer seeks solace 
in seclusion, the female bears more young at a birth and 
bears them more frequently, the descendants of the hard- 
living boar of the forest have become the types of gluttony. 


The dow 

Heich in the lift full glaide he gan behald, 
And with hir wingis sorand mony fald. 


Amongst domesticated birds none other has taken so dis- 
tinctive a place in Scottish life as the pigeon. To Charles 
Darwin we owe a clear demonstration of the fact that 
the innumerable and extraordinary varieties of modern 
domesticated pigeons owe their origin one and all to the 
Rock Dove (Columba livia] (Fig. 22, p. 96). With this 
great variety of form due to man's influence I do not 
propose to deal, the curious reader will find it described 
and discussed in full in Darwin's Plants and Animals iinder 
Domestication. Here, confining myself to the Scottish aspect 
of the subject, I shall endeavour to show that in Scotland the 
wild Rock Dove was domesticated, and shall give some 
account of the significance of the early domesticated race. 

The Rock Dove was at one time a common dweller on 
the sea-coast of Scotland, and although constant slaughter 
has reduced it in some areas almost to extinction, it is still 
to be found from St Abbs' Head to the Orkneys and Shet- 
land, in the Hebrides and on the West coast, in places 
where exist caves suitable for its tenancy. In these deep 
caverns, the "doo-caves" familiar to many a district, the 
Rock Doves congregate in flocks, roosting on the ledges 
within, and there also building their slight nests during the 
long breeding season from March to September. From the 
caves they issue during the daytime to feed upon the farmer's 


grain or to render him good service by destroying grubs and 
the seeds of weeds. 

Among pigeons, the Rock Dove is distinguished by the 
fine bluish-grey tints of the upper parts of its body, which 
shade into a pearl-grey spreading from the under surface 
to the tail feathers, tipped with leaden grey. The throat 
glistens with metallic purple and green; but the most strik- 
ing and distinctive markings are the white rump and two 
black bars across each wing. The birds are rather less than 

Rock Dove ancestor of Scottish dove-cot "doos." $ nat. size. 

a foot in length, almost a third smaller than the familiar 
Wood Pigeon. Those who have no opportunity of seeing 
the true Rock Dove in its native haunts can form an ex- 
cellent idea of its colouring and characteristics from many 
of the half-wild pigeons of our larger towns ; for the inter- 
breeding of domestic pigeons run wild, frequently results 
in a "throw-back" to the original type. Such blue-grey 
reversions to the Rock Dove type can be seen any day 
in the streets of Edinburgh. 

There are many reasons for supposing that successful 



efforts were made, and that at a very early date, to bring 
the Rock Dove under the influence of man in Scotland. 
These early efforts resulted in the formation of a primitive 
domesticated race the pigeon of the "doo-cots" which 
with little variation is found in almost all the maritime 
countries of the Old World. The steps by which the Rock 
Dove became the dovecot pigeon of Scotland were of the 
simplest nature and show how close was the relationship 
between the two: 

It is probable that at first Rock Doves themselves were 
killed in quantity for food, but that indiscriminate slaughter 
threatened the birds with extinction, as in recent times in 
Fair Isle, and that wise men, observing the danger of rough 
and ready methods, resolved to encourage the multiplication 
of this useful bird. So in the very caves frequented by the 
Rock Doves, pigeon-holes were built and the original "doo- 
cave " became a primitive pigeon-house accommodating 
increased numbers of breeding birds. Of seven caves in 
the parish of Wemyss in Fife, hollowed by a former sea in 
rocks now far above high water mark, four "were long ago 
fitted up for pigeon houses." The Rock Doves which in- 
habited these had taken a first step towards domestication. 

Man led them to a second step by the erection of 
independent pigeon-houses after his own design. It is 
impossible to trace the actual sequence of the erection of 
pigeon-houses, which, in all their differences of shape, and 
with all their conveniences of entrance and of innumerable 
nesting holes, still retain the hollow darkness of the ocean 
caverns. Nevertheless it is highly probable that the first 
pigeon-houses were erected along the coast near the "doo- 
caves," like those which crest the cliffs in the neighbour^ 
hood of the famous pigeon-caves of St Abbs or that which 
faces the "doo-caves" of Wemyss. As the pigeons became 
more and more accustomed to their artificial homes, became 
indeed distinctive "doo-cot" pigeons, the pigeon-houses 
would gradually extend along the coast to areas uninhabited 
by wild Rock Doves, and farther and farther inland. So 
many districts even far from the sea possessed one or more 
of these curious structures. Yet the coastal origin of the 
Scottish pigeon-house, and by implication, the coastal origin 
of its first tenants, are still indicated by the distribution of the 


"doo-cots": for while they are thickly scattered in coast- 
wise parishes and counties Fife alone 'possessed 360, with 
36,000 pairs of breeding birds they diminish in numbers 
with increasing distance from the sea, until in the Highlands 
they are exceedingly rare. 

If evidence other than the history of the dovecots them- 
selves were required to show that the Scottish dovecot- 
pigeon owes its ancestry to the Rock Dove, it is suggested 
by the fact that Rock Doves are easily tamed. Professor 
Macgillivray of Aberdeen has recorded that he completely 
tamed a Rock Dove in the Hebrides; Darwin relates that 
there are several records of those pigeons having bred 
in dovecots in the Shetland Islands, and that for more than 
twenty years Colonel King of Hythe kept in his dovecot 
the progeny of young wild birds taken in the Orkney Islands. 

The dovecot pigeons themselves give good evidence of 
their ancestry, for they bear close resemblance to the wild 
species, and although they vary in the darkness of their 
plumage and in the size and thickness of their bill, they do 
so little more than Colonel King's Rock Doves did after 
twenty years of dovecot life. Further, although many of 
them have chequered wings due to the presence of large 
dark spots on the sides of each feather, in this respect they 
exactly resemble a chequered variety of the Rock Dove 
which occurs in Orkney and Islay. 

In view of the interest of this primitive domesticated 
pigeon, I may be permitted to give a short account of its 
significance in Scotland, based mainly upon a paper by 
Mr Bruce Campbell in the Transactions of the Edinburgh 
Field Naturalists' Society. 

When the Rock Dove first became a "Doo-cot" Pigeon 
it is impossible to say, but by the fifteenth century the 
pigeon-house was valuable enough to be reckoned along with 
"cunningares" or rabbit-warrens, as deserving the protection 
of the law. So it was ordained in 1424 that breakers of 

mennes Orchardes, steallers of frute, destroyers of Cunningaires and Dow- 
cattes...sall paie fourtie shillings to the King for the unlaw and assyith 
[indemnify] the partie skaithed [harmed]. 

But if the breaking of the doo-cot was one sin the taking of 
"ony foules of utheris Dowcattes" was another, and was 
"to be punished as thieft" (1474). 


As doo-cots became more common and the "breakings 
of Dowcattes" increased, the fine was raised in 1503 so that 
the unlaw thereof be ten pound, to-gidder with ane amendis to the partie, 
according to the skaith. And gif bny Children, within age, commit ony of 
thir things foresaid, [for children then were as they are now, the] Fathers or 
Maisters sail pay... or else deliver the said Child to the Judge, to be leisched, 
scourged, or dung, according to the fault. 

Fig. 23. Ancient Pigeon-House or " Doo-cot" near Leadburn, Midlothian. 

To the ordinary mind these penalties would seem sufficient 
to deter any potential "doweatte breaker," but that they did 
not supply sufficient restraint subsequent legislation clearly 
shows. In 1567 shooting "dows" with gun or bow was 
forbidden under pain of forfeiture of moveables, or for the 
first fault 40 days imprisonment, and for the second loss of 
the right hand; and the climax of severity was reached, 
when in 1579, James VI ordained that, in addition to paying 



"the avail of the skaith done," the offender was to pay for 
the first fault "ten punds," for the second "twentie punds," 
for the third fault "fourtie punds" and 

in case the offendours be not responsall in guddes...he sail' for the first 
fault be put in the stokkes, prison, or irones auct [eight] dayes, on bread 
and water: And for the second fault, fifteene dayes... and for the third fault 
hanging to the death. 

These Acts, some of which were repealed only in 1906, 
clearly imply that proprietary right in the dovecot pigeon 
was becoming more definitely recognized, and that the 
keeping of pigeons was becoming more and more common : 
that indeed the domesticated status of the pigeon of the 
dovecot was rising. So rapidly did dovecots increase in 
number, and so grievous was the destruction of grain caused 
by their inhabitants the 36,000 pairs of breeders in the 
360 dovecots of Fife are said to have consumed 3000 to 
4000 bolls of wheat a year that in 1617 the law put a check 
upon their erection, ordaining that only one dovecot should 
be allowed to each estate of the yearly rental of ten chalders, 
a chalder being equivalent to almost eight Imperial quarters. 

The heydey of the dovecot is long gone by, for farmers 
found that their wheat was of more value than many pigeons 
(in Roxburgh in 1813 the birds could be bought for from 
is. 6d. to 2s. 6s. a dozen), and this together with the trans- 
forming of much arable land to pasture, and the decrease in 
the acreage of pease, emptied many a dovecot of its tenants. 
So it came to he that most of the pigeon-houses fell to ruins, 
and while in some counties a few remain to hint at a time 
when the primitive domesticated race of pigeons swarmed 
in the land from Dumfries to Caithness, in others even 
the place where they stood is forgotten how many Aber- 
donians of to-day are aware that for more than two centuries 
the ground now occupied by Union Terrace was spoken of 
only as the "Dove Cott Brae ?" 

Although in England there have been evolved charac- 
teristic races of such divergent breeds as Pouters, Carriers, 
and Tumblers, I am not aware that Scotland has given rise 
to any breed other than her own simple "doos." 



Though clock, 
To tell when night draws hence, I've none, 

A cock 
I have, to sing how day draws on; 

A hen 
I keep, which, creeking day by day, 

Tells when 
She goes her long white egg to lay. 


At what early period of their civilization the people of 
Scotland added the fowl to their domestic wealth is unknown, 

Fig. 24. Scottish breeds of poultry Scots Greys (to right), and Scottish Dumpies 
(to left). About T V nat. size. 

although it was found in Britain by Julius Caesar in 55 B.C. 
In any case as the varieties of the barnyard fowl have arisen 
from the Red Jungle Fowl (Gallus bankiva] of India and 
south-eastern Asia, and as it was there domesticated more 
than a thousand years before our era, there would be little 
need to mention it in connection with Scotland, were it not 
that in our land the influence of man has created two peculiar 
local races. 

The least distinctive of these the Scots Grey (Fig. 24) 
is a bird with upright and graceful carriage, moderately long 


legs, and plumage finely barred in black and white like that 
of a Barred Rock. The shape of the bird and its sprightly 
bearing suggest something of the style of English Game. 
The Scots Grey has been called the Scottish "Dorking," 
but its appearance suggests rather that it may 'correspond 
to an early stage in the evolution of such a breed as the 
Dorking. It may indeed be a developed representative of 
the early progenitors of the Dorking breed (itself perfected 
in our Islands), a surviving link with the undeveloped 
poultry of the good old days, which sold at ^d. each (as at 
Braemar in i 567). The carriage of the Scots Grey is that of 
the Jungle Fowl, but how great a change has transformed 
the reds and golden yellows of the wild bird into the sober 
chequer of the domesticated stock. 

Even greater divergences from the wild stock mark the 
second distinctive Scots breed the Scottish Dumpie(Fig. 24) 
in which the plumage is also of a sombre grey due to fine 
alternating bars of darker and lighter colour, but in which 
the agile pose and graceful build of the Jungle Fowl have 
been entirely lost in a maximum of clumsiness and awkward 
bulk. For it is distinctive of Scottish Dumpies that their 
bodies are large, deep and remarkably long, and that this 
great bulk is carried on shanks of extreme shortness, rarely 
exceeding an inch and a half in length. Domestication has 
led to an extraordinary increase in productiveness, for 
the egg-laying of even the poorest breeds is a marvellous 
tribute to the selective influence of man, when contrasted 
with the limited clutches of seven to twelve eggs laid once 
a year by the ancestral Jungle Fowl. Comparison of the 
wild Jungle Fowl of eastern Asia with a typical Scottish 
Dumpie shows the surprising power which man has wielded 
over size and structure in perfecting the domesticated fowl. 
As great change he has wrought in colouring of plumage 
also. It must not be inferred, however, that this comparison 
implies that the changes were all wrought in Scotland. This 
is not so, since in Scotland the Dumpie and the Scots Grey 
as well, were evolved, not directly from their original wild 
ancestor, but through the intermediary of some domesticated 
race imported from the East. 



Far abune the Angus straths I saw the wild geese flee, 

A lang, lang skein o' beatin' wings, wi' their heids towards the sea, 

And aye their cryin' voices trailed ahint them on the air. 


From these very Wild Geese that in former ages fre- 
quented Scotland in "innumerable droves" the Scottish 
peoples have created that gabbling brood, the "grave, un- 

Fig. 25. Grey Lag Geese a wild species domesticated in Scotland. 
Illustration from Solway specimens. T V nat. size. 

wieldy inmates of the village pond." And how little the 
change has meant in transformation of shape or habits ; for 
of all his domesticated stock, geese have perhaps most re- 
sisted the selective influence of man. 

Like the dovecot pigeon, the goose has been domesti- 
cated in many countries, but there is general agreement that 
our ordinary breeds of domesticated geese are descendants 
of the wild Grey Lag Goose (Anser anser) (Fig. 25) which is 
common in northern Europe and Asia, though in the former 
continent its numbers are now much reduced. In Europe the 


summer haunts of the Grey Lag are mainly confined to the 
nort h_from northern Scotland to Iceland, Scandinavia and 
Russia but in winter it descends to warmer regions on the 
western and southern coasts of the continent. It is the 
largest of our wild geese, a fine bird with a general grey 
and brown plumage on the upper surfaces, shading backwards 
into ashy grey and into creamy white on the under parts. 

Several facts suggest that the Grey Lag was domesti- 
cated in Scotland. In the first place it is a frequent winter 
visitor to Scotland, generally arriving from its northern 
breeding haunts in September and November, and remaining 
with us over the colder months. More important, it still 
breeds here, in Ross-shire, Sutherland, Caithness and in the 
Outer Hebrides, and it is moreover the only kind of wild 
goose which nests in Scotland. Even so, it was at one time 
much more common both as a resident species and as a visitor 
than it is to-day. So we gather at any rate from its relative 
price as established in a controlled food list of 1551, where 
the value of a "wild guse of the great bind" a Grey Lag 
is fixed at 2s., while i8</. is the value set upon the smaller 
kinds, "claik, quink and rute" the Barnacle Goose, the 
Golden Eye Duck and the Brent Goose. Besides, even so 
late as the latter half of the eighteenth century it was still 
breeding in the fens of England. 

In the second place, the Grey Lag is easily tamed, so 
that its suggested domestication in Scotland need imply no 
special skill on the part of its domesticators. The Lap- 
landers regularly tame the wild Grey Lag; and there are 
several instances of individuals captured young or hatched 
from eggs having become half-domesticated in various parts 
of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. In the last named 
country there is a numerous colony of semi-domesticated 
Grey Lag Geese which has been in existence since about 
1700 at Castle Coole, near Enniskillen, and only in this con- 
dition does the species breed in Ireland. In Scotland well- 
known flocks were established in 1 886 in South Harris, and in 
1888 at Blair Drummond. The birds paired and nested and 
hatched their broods year in, year out, in perfect contentment. 
In fact our wild geese show a particular aptitude for losing 
their wild identity even with slight encouragement, and I 
have seen a Pink-footed Goose, which had been found injured 


and had been cared for, moving and feeding contentedly with 
a flock of farm ducks. 

In the last place there is historic evidence that in the 
sixteenth century (and how much earlier no one can tell) 
the people of Scotland did actually tame and domesticate 
some kind of wild goose. I quote from Father Dalrymple's 
translation of Bishop Leslie's Historic (1578), this very in- 
teresting passage indicating the abundance of the wild birds 
and the method adopted for taming them. 

In fauour of the reidar, I thocht gude, heir of the geis to speik a few 
wordes, for thair meruellous multitude in our cuntries, cheiflie in the west 
yles and lykwyse for the raritie and fewtie or scant of sum of thame in 
vthiris cuntries. 

Excepte the Solande geise, of quhilkes afor we haue maid mentione, 
how thay ar bredd at hame; with vs vthir sax kyndes of geis ar funde, 
quhilkes only in thrie things ar fund to differ, to wit, in the sownde of thair 
voce, in gretnes of thair bodye, and taist of thair fleshe, quhilkes al ar seine 
in innumerable draues to flie to thir farthest lies, in the spring of the yeir, 
eftir midday [Lat. a meridie from the south] and thairfor, this opinions 
of thame is hajdne, that athir in thir westir lies, or in Grundlande, quhen 
toward the South anothir land is no' knawen, thay big thair nestis. Sum 
of thame no'-withstandeng, throuch a certane craft, ar allured and prouoked 
to remane amang the lochis, and myrie places and amang the hathir and 
mures, amang ws, quhil thay haue laid thair eggis, and clekit thair burdes: 
for sum of thame, quhilkes w' nettis ar takne, thair wingis ar clipit, and fed 
in the hous, quhil thay be tame : Thaireftir out and in frilie thay flie and 
swome, and nocht only returnes hame agane, to thair accustumed and vsed 
fude, bot lykwyse thay bring vthiris with thame of thair awne kynde, as 
called to the banquet and commone feist with thame selfes, quhilkes quhen 
thay haue baytet, thay at last leir thame to sit, without al feir in the mid 
feild, and yardes, and plane places; and haldes thame stil besyde thame as 
neir nychtbouris, quhil al thair nestis be bigit, and thair young clekit. 

Perhaps as a result of this easy domestication, geese 
seem to have been remarkably abundant in parts of Scotland 
in the seventeenth century, for Lowther during his tour in 
1629, discovered that the Scots 

have good meat, fish, flesh and fowl in great store, but dress it not well; 
in the South it is as dear as in the South of England, but in the north, 
about Dumbarton and thereabouts wondrous cheap, a goose for 4d, and so 
proportionably of other things. 

It is possible, however, that these were wild geese. 

Having given reasons for suggesting that Scotland was 
one of the countries in which the Grey Lag Goose was 
domesticated, let us glance at the influence which domestica- 
tion has had upon the nature of the wild species. As we 


might expect, the colour of the plumage has changed, for the 
common goose seldom shows the varied browns and greys 
of the Grey Lag, although it ranges from dusky grey to pure 
white, the latter colour being almost invariably assumed 
by aged ganders. Selection for the table has led to an 
increase in the size and depth of the body, and this, added 
to compulsory inactivity, has brought with it increasing 
inability to fly and the exaggerated waddling walk of a 
creature whose weight has outgrown the intentions of its 
limbs. Selection for egg-laying has resulted in a great in- 
crease of productiveness, for the clutch of five to eight eggs 
of the wild goose is insignificant compared with the year's 
produce of the domesticated breeds. 


The domestication of the Common Duck probably 
stands in similar relationship to Scotland as that of the 
Goose. It is agreed that the wild species whence sprang 
the "clam'rous duck" that "on the brink of her foul puddle 
quacks" is the common "wild duck" of our Islands the 
Mallard (Anas boscas) 1 . The abundance of this species as 
a resident throughout Scotland, and the ease with which it 
can be tamed suggest that, like the goose, it may have been 
domesticated in our country at an early date. The influences 
that have played upon the duck in domestication have had 
effects similar to those referred to in the case of the goose, 
changes in the colour of plumage, increase of body, decreased 
power of flight, an exaggerated waddling walk and enormous 
increase in egg-production compared with the clutches of 
eight to twelve eggs of the wild bird. 

The Turkey and the Guinea Fowl the former descended 
from a wild Mexican species (Meleagris mexicana], the latter 
from East Africa (Numida ptilorhynca], were introduced 
to Scotland in a domesticated state, and have shown no 
distinctive changes under our care. 

Domesticated Rabbits, descended from the common 
wild Rabbit (Lepus (Oryctolagus) cuniculus), which itself 
was introduced to Scotland ultimately from south-western 

1 So evident was the relationship in the early days of its domestication 
that the domestic duck is actually termed (in Munimenta GUdhallae 
Londonensis) a "dunghill Mallard." 


Europe (see p. 247) owe none of their peculiarities to Scottish 
influence. Such is true also of our Cats, descended from 
the Egyptian Wild Cat (Felis ocreata], although in the 
Highland areas there has probably been some admixture of 
blood with our own wild species (Felis sylvestris], especially 
in former times when the Wild Cat was more common than 
it is to-day. 

The Goat, offspring of the Wild Goat (Capra aegagrus] 
of the Mediterranean Isles, Asia Minor and Persia, notwith- 
standing its early introduction to Britain, and -its former 
abundance in the Scottish Highlands, has suffered at our 
hands no change worthy of remark; and the same may be 
said of the Ferret, long regarded as a domesticated variety of 
the Common Polecat (Mustela p^tiorius} but recently found to 
be related to the Polecat of Turkestan and Siberia (Mustela 

Hive-Bees are domesticated in the sense that man houses 
and cares for them, that he feeds them in winter, and has 
exercised his limited powers of selection and interbreeding 
in perfecting the race. Ordinary hive-bees are little altered 
derivatives of the Wild Bee (Apis mellifica} of southern 
Europe. They were domesticated by the early Greeks, and 
were common throughout Europe at an early date. There 
is no record of their introduction to Scotland, but in the 
sixteenth and subsequent centuries many Acts were passed 
by the Scottish Parliament protecting bees from the "stealers 
of hives, and destroyers thereof." As the first reference to 
Bees which I have found in these Acts occurs in 1503, it is 
probable that they were becoming common in Scotland only 
towards the close of the fifteenth century. Their appearance 
in some of the islands belongs to a much later date. In 
Orkney they were so little known at the end of the seven- 
teenth century that Mackaile can record the exploit of a youth 
who "stopt the skep (which a lady had taken thither from 
Angus) with a piece of a peat" on the plea that he found 
the Bees all flying away; and it was not till 1909 that Lewis 
was stocked with its present race of Hive- Bees, previous 
importations having become extinct. By frequent introduc- 
tions of fresh blood from Italy and other parts of Europe man 
is constantly endeavouring to influence the nature and 
increase the productiveness of the Hive- Bee. 



The Hart, the Hynd, the Dae, the Rae, 

The Fulmart and false Fox, 
The beardit Buck clam up the Brae, 

With birssy Bairs and Brocks: 

Sum feiding, sum dreiding, 

The Hunter's subtle snairs, 
With skipping and tripping 

They play it them all in pairs. 

The Cherrie and the Sloe. 

NO other aspect of man's interference with the animal 
world bulks so largely in the imagination as his deliberate 
destruction of life. It is not that he has thus exterminated 
more creatures than have been banished by the felling of 
the woodland or the reclamation of moor and marsh ; it is 
scarcely that the effects of gun and snare are more deadly 
than the removal of breeding places and the destruction of 
food supplies. Rather it is that the indirect influences are 
gradual in their working, that man's attention is fixed upon 
the fields which prosper under his care or the forests that 
fall under his axe, while the creatures which inhabited them 
wane and disappear unnoticed. But deliberate destruction 
is prompt, obviously merciless and final. 

It has not always been so. In the earlier periods of 
man's development, in the days of the hunters of the Old 
Stone Age, the slaughter of animals was a necessity for 
protection as well as for food. But this was no uneconomic 
slaughter. It is true that wild animals were trapped in 
numbers in hidden pits, and it is true that in the aggregate 
many animals were killed, for more than two thousand 
molar teeth of the Mammoth have been found gathered 


together at the Palaeolithic settlement at Predmost in 
Moravia, and the broken bones of Horses, left over from 
many a feast, form a solid mass 100 yards in length and 
ten feet high at the Palaeolithic station of Solutre, in the 
Rhone Valley. Nevertheless primitive weapons almost 
limited the destruction to the absolute necessities of the 
sparse population. 

The essence of the question of uneconomic slaughter is 
a simple one of capital and interest, where the breeding 
stock of any race of animals may be regarded as the capital 
and the year's young as the annual interest. So long as 
destruction is kept within the limits of the yearly interest 
and depreciation of capital is made up, all is well with the 
race, but so soon as the full interest is usurped and the 
capital stock begins to be entrenched upon, then the race is 
on the downgrade of reduced numbers, and, provided the 
destruction is kept up, of final extinction. 

Several causes led to growing intensity in the slaughter 
of wild animals. The first in time was probably the domes- 
tication of wild creatures, and the consequent necessity for 
their protection. So the casual slaughter of prowling- 
marauders developed into enmity and a blood feud against 
the larger beasts and birds of prey, an enmity which 
increased as feudal rule decayed and the people gained 
a new will and new powers to protect the crops and herds 
which their labours had created. In the second place, 
increased perfection of weapons and the invention of powder 
and the gun placed in man's hands new powers which he 
was not slow to use to the utmost. Many creatures have 
been banished from different areas of Britain since "weapons 
of precision " made their appearance, and nothing could 
witness more clearly to their influence than the fact that 
after the general disarming of the peasants of Poland by 
the Russian Government there was an enormous increase 
in the number of Wolves. In our own country similar 
effects have followed upon the absence of guns during the 
Great War, for never in the memory of man have the 
creatures of the wild, Deer and Rabbits, birds of prey, Stoats, 
Weasels and other "vermin," been so abundant as they are 

The third and most fatal stage in the development of 


destructiveness belongs to the. greed of gain. Reckless de- 
struction regardless of waste has followed upon the discovery 
of a profitable commodity. Garefowls or Great Auks 
were slaughtered by thousands on account of theic oil and 
feathers and their bodies were burnt in great fires ; the 
Buffaloes of North America and the Wild Cattle of South 
America were slain by millions, the former for their skins and 
tongue, the latter for their hides and horns, and their carcases 
were left to rot upon the plains. So too, and in even less 
worthy cause, the Egret has been slaughtered for its "osprey 
plumes," and precious birds all the world over for their 
brilliant plumage. And what is one to think of the wasteful 
slaughter proceeding at the present day in the islands of 
South Georgia, where, for the sake of their oil, Whales 
innumerable are being killed and their flensed carcases cast 
adrift, so that in the neighbourhood of the whaling stations 
masses of festering flesh spread solid for miles out to sea ? 

Many human motives have given rise to serious deple- 
tion of the animal world, and the chief of these I have 
endeavoured to illustrate from the Scottish point of view in 
the pages that follow. But the general warning must be 
added that a hard and fast classification must be looked 
upon only as a guide to clearness, that motives are seldom 
unmixed that the creature slain in sport may also be used 
as food, just as the bird killed for the sake of its flesh may 
also yield valuable feathers and oil. 

It ought also to be added that in the balanced order of 
nature the slaughter of one animal means invariably the 
increase of another. The unrestricted killing of Seals on the 
Pribilof Islands, off Alaska, increased the yield of the skins 
of the Blue Fox, which were valued at ,3000 to ^4000 
annually, but since seal-killing was restricted on the high 
seas in 1911 and prevented in the Islands since 1912, the 
output of fox skins has greatly diminished, owing to the 
lack of carcases upon which the foxes depended for food. 

The steps of the decadence of an animal due to deliber- 
ate slaughter, or to any other cause, can be traced in stages, 
first of reduction of numbers, second of curtailment of range, 
and lastly of extermination. 



COEVAL with his search for food began man's active 
defence against his fellow-dwellers in the wilds, but it was 
hardly till his wealth and welfare became centred in domestic 
flocks that his destruction began to tell upon the animal 
world. Then his energies, directed against marauders, fell 
heavily upon the beasts and birds of prey, until with in- 
creased perfection of weapons, he drove one and then 
another to extinction within the limits of his homeland. 
His influence in this respect can best be traced by following 
the stories of some of the creatures which fell under his ban. 


The Northern Lynx (Lynx lynx] (cf. Fig. 3, p. 16), once 
a native of the greater part of Britain, and now confined to 
the forests of northern Europe although a close relative is 
found in Asia, makes but one appearance in Scottish history, 
when it shared with Neolithic man the wilds of western 
Sutherlandshire. The bones found by Drs Peach and Home 1 
in the Bone Cave of Allt nan Uamh near Inchnadamph, 
in deposits containing blackened and burnt hearthstones 
of Neolithic fires, vouch for its presence in the early days, 
but of its occurrence and disappearance written history 
makes no mention. It seems to have died out at a far 
distant period, and the probability is that man, in defence 
of his flocks, hastened its extermination in Scotland. 

1 Identified by Mr E. T. Newton. 




Few of us can have imagined the possibility of en- 
countering a Brown Bear in the forest glades of Britain, 
yet our forerunners in the land frequently enjoyed that 
experience in the far-off days when 

In yon withered bracken's lair 
Slumbered the wolf and shaggy bear. 

At the present day in Europe the Brown Bear (Ursus 
arctos) (Figs. 26 and 27) is mainly confined to the 
forests of Scandinavia, Russia, Hungary and the Pyrenees, 
but in former days it was a common inhabitant of Great 
Britain and Ireland. In Scotland, where it lingered longest, 

Fig. 26. Skull of Brown Bear from peat-moss in Dumfriesshire. \ nat. size. 

it ranged over the whole land from Dumfriesshire, where 
many years ago a well preserved skull and a rib were found 
in a peat moss at Shaws, to Sutherland and Caithness. The 
only direct evidence of its association with man in North 
Britain is afforded by the discovery of a tooth in a broch 
at Keiss, for the canine tooth found in the bone cave near 
Inchnadamph in Sutherlandshire lay in a deposit lower than 
that containing traces of the presence of man. Yet in York- 
shire the Neolithic cave-dwellers of Settle considered the 
flesh of the Bear a suitable article of food, and its presence, 
as late as Roman times, is indicated by bones found in 
refuse-heaps at Richmond in Yorkshire, at Colchester in 
Essex, and even so far south as London, as well as by the 
discovery in the Roman camp of Cilurnum or Chesters on 


the Tyne-Solway Wall of a tooth of a large Bear, the per- 
forations in which hint that the slayer wore the relic as a 
badge of prowess. "} 

The assumption is a fair one that if the Bear existed in 
England at the time of the Roman occupation it was also 
present in the much wilder country of Scotland, and side- 
lights of history support this idea. In the years after 
the Roman occupation of Britain, Caledonian Bears were 
well known in Rome, whither they were transported over- 

Fig. 27. Brown Bear, a former native of Scotland (illustration from individual 
in Scottish Zoological Park, Edinburgh). ^ nat. size. 

seas to make sport in the amphitheatre. Malefactors bound 
to a cross were exposed to the attacks of these savage 
denizens from far-off Scotland, as Martial reminds us, 

Hanging on no slim cross, Laureolus 
His naked body to a Caledonian bear 
Thus proffered 1 . 

That the Bear still survived in Scottish woods after the 
Roman legions had gone, both archaeology and tradition 

1 "Nuda Caledonio sic pectora praebuit urso, 
Non falsa pendens in cruce, Laureolus." 


suggest. The canine tooth found with other refuse in the 
Broch of Keiss in Caithness probably belongs to a period 
succeeding the Roman conquest, for brochs appear to have 
been unknown to the historians of Rome. Yet,, assuming 
that it is the relic of a native animal, it indicates the presence 
of the Bear only in a vague period ranging down to the ninth 
or tenth century of our era. Tradition is even less definite 
as to date. Leslie in 1578, speaks of the "Tor-wood" or 
Caledonian forest as a place 

quhair in lyke maner war sa mony wylde bares [' ursos '] that, as the aide 
wryters make mentione, than being full ['repertissimam '] is now nocht ane 
(even as our nychbour Inglande has nocht ane wolfe, with quhilkes afore 
thay war mekle molested and invadet). 

And Camden, in his Britannia (1607), says of Perthshire : 

This Athole is a country fruitful enough, having woody vallies, where 
once the Caledonian forest (dreadful for its dark intricate windings and for 
its dens of Bears, and its huge thick-maned bulls) extended itself far and 
near in these parts. 

Almost to our own day, Gaelic tradition has carried the 
memory of the great Magh-Ghamhainn the " paw-calf "- 
a " rough dark, grisly monster, the terror of the winter's 
tale"; and highland legends, such as "The Brown Bear of 
the Green Glen" recorded by Mr J. F. Campbell, and occa- 
sional place names, such as Ruigh-na-beiste, the Monster's 
Brae, and Toll-nam-biast, the Hole of the Monsters, may 
possibly perpetuate the tradition of the last survivors of 
Scottish Bears. 

When did the Bear disappear from amongst the animals 
of Scotland ? Attempts have been made to show that the 
Clan Forbes owes its name to the slaughter of a Bear by 
the chieftain, Ochonchar, the founder of the clan, whose sur- 
name, bestowed upon him for his prowess, became Forbear 
or Forbeiste. Pennant states that a Gordon, on account of 
his valour in killing a fierce Bear in 1057, was ordered by 
the King to carry three Bears' heads on his banner. It has 
even been stated that "in an ancient Gaelic poem ascribed 
to Ossian, the hero McDiarmid is said to have been killed 
by a Bear on Beinn Ghielleinn in Perthshire." But in each 
of these cases a wild Boar and not a Bear was the animal 
concerned, and the confusion has apparently arisen through 
the resemblance to "Bear" of the old Scots spelling and 


pronunciation of Boar, which was "Bare." It is highly 
probable that a similar confusion of terms led Col. Thornton 
to state in 1804 that Lord Graham had turned out a few 
"wild Bears" on the island of Inchmurrin in Loch Lomond, 
and that the record of Inchmurrin Bears which has found its 
way into literature is a false one. All that we can say, 
therefore, is that the Brown Bear seems to have been 
present in Scotland after the early centuries of our era, and 
may have existed till the ninth or tenth. Since there were 
no changes in climate or food supply sufficient to account 
for its disappearance, the assumption is that man's inter- 
ference led to its extermination. 


Of all the great beasts of prey which harassed man in 
Scotland, the most troublesome was the Wolf (Canis htpiis] 
(Fig. 28, p. 1 17), which long survived its associates, the Lynx 
and the Brown Bear. Many bones attributed to Wolves have 
been found in early settlements, from the Neolithic cave- 
dwellings of Ayrshire to the times of the brochs and of 
kitchen-middens of later date, as well as in rock fissures such 
as that on the Pentland Hills. Yet the story of the Wolf in 
prehistoric Scotland is an obscure one. For although an odd 
relic, such as a jaw bone I have examined from a deposit in 
Ayrshire, probably indicates the presence of the Wolf in the 
land before the arrival of man, the bones of later ages are 
apt to be confused with those of domesticated dogs, brought 
with them by the early Neolithic peoples during their north- 
ward wanderings. 

Fortunately the obscurity of this period in the Wolf's 
history in Scotland is of little real significance, since actual 
remains found in a dozen and more widely scattered English 
and Welsh counties, show how general its distribution 
must have been, and the abundant historical evidence of its 
presence in Scotland in much later times, gives good ground 
for supposing that in prehistoric days also, it was a common 
denizen of the woods. 

It is impossible here to give in detail the recorded his- 
tory of the Wolf in Scotland from the legendary times when 
Dorvadilla, the fourth king of the Scots, who, according 


to the story, reigned two centuries before the Christian era, 
" ordaint," according to Boece, 

he slayer of ane wolf to have ane ox to his reward, pure elders persewit 
this beist with gret hatreut, for the gret murdir of beistis done be the sarnin. 

tThere is the less need for such a detailed history since a very 
complete account of the Wolf in Scotland appears in Mr 
J. E. Harting's British Animals Extinct within Historic 
Times, and in Mr R. S. Fittis's Sports and Pastimes of 
Scotland. I shall content myself, therefore, with tracing 
the main stages of man's interference with this ravager of 
the flocks. 

Throughout all the ages the Wolf was reckoned a grievous 
pestilence, and even the popularity of a King reflected in 
some degree his attitude towards this plague. Thus when, 
as Boece tells, Edeir, a Scottish contemporary of Julius 
Caesar visited "all the boundis of his realme," his 

passaige was the mair plesand to his nobillis, that he was gevin to hunting; 
for he delitit in no thing more than in chais of wild beistis, with houndis 
and rachis, and specially of wolffis, for they ar noisum to tame bestiall. 
This regioun, throw the cauld humouris thairof, ingeneris wolffis of feirs 
and cruel nature. 

The fierceness of Scottish Wolves is attested by many an 
old story. Witness that of the pursuit of Malcolm II in 
1010 in the forest of the Stocket, on the bounds of the 
city of Aberdeen, when the monarch was saved from a 
Wolf only by the presence of mind of a younger son of 
Donald of the Isles, who was rewarded for his timely aid 
by a present of the neighbouring lands of Skene. Even to 
the islands the scourge extended, for Arnor, the Earl's skald, 
tells in the Orkneyinga Saga, that after the Battle of Water- 
firth between the invading Norse and the islanders of Skye, 
in the eleventh century, 

There I saw the grey wolf gaping 
O'er wounded corse of many a man. 

Many methods were employed to keep the Wolves in 
check. It is significant that in the eleventh century, during 
the reign of King Alexander, when most of the wild 
creatures were reserved for the royal chase, no one was 
forbidden to hunt outwith forests and warrens for Wolves ; 
and that from the twelfth century the monks of Melrose were 
prohibited from hunting and from setting snares in their 


lands of Eskdale, except only for the Wolves. Such casual 
measures of restraining the wolf plague were soon found to 
be inefficient, and more drastic means had to be enforced. 
In 1283 King Alexander III made an allowance to his 
Treasurer for payment of " one hunter of .wolves " at 
Stirling. But even professional hunters proved insufficient, 
and at last in the fifteenth century the law invoked the aid 
of the barons, an Act of James I in 1428 requiring 
that ilk baron within his barony in gaynande time of the year sail chase 
and seek the quhelpes of Wolves and gar slay them, ...and that the barons 
hunt in their baronies and chase the Woolfes four times a year, and als oft 
as onie Woolfe beis seen within the barony. 

Fig. 28. Wolf a Scottish scourge exterminated about two centuries ago. T \ nat. size. 

Under pain of forfeiting a wedder, the tenants were to "rise 
with the baron" who was to pay to "the man that slays the 
Woolfe in his barony and brings his head to the baron, twa 

Even the efforts of the barons were unavailing, and the 
scope of the hue and cry was broadened not many years 
later, when in 1457, the inhabitants of the whole countryside 
were compelled and coaxed by penalties and payments to 
attend the wolf-hunt at the call of the sheriff, baillies or 
barons : 


item it is ordanyt for the distruccione of wolfes that in ilk cuntre quhar 
ony is, the sheref. or the bailyeis of that cuntre sail gadder the cuntre-folk 
thre tymes in the yer betwixt sanct marks day [April 25th] and lamess 
[Lammas August ist] for that is the tyme of the quhelpis and quhat evir 
he be that ryss [rise] not with the sheref or bailye or barone within himself 
[in his area] he sail pay unforgeuin a wedder as is ordenyt in the aulde act 
maid thairapone. And he that slays ane wolf than or ony uthir tyme he 
sail haif of ilk hous-hald of that parochin that the wolf is slayne within jd 
[one penny].... And he that slays ane wolf sail bring the hede to the sheref, 
bailye or barone and he sail be dettor to the slaar for the soume forsaide 1 . 

A few records of the payment of head money still exist : 
on the 24th October 1491, the Treasurer of Scotland paid 
55. "to a fellow that brought the King [James IV] two wolves, 
in Linlithgow." 

The necessity of raising a general hue and cry after 
marauding Wolves led to the general establishmentof kennels 
of wolf-hounds and even to the definition in leases of the 
duties of tenants on that score. So the monks of Coupar- 
Angus Abbey in a lease of part of the lands of Innerarity 
in 1483, bound the occupier to "obey the officers rising in 
the defences of the country to wolf, thief, and sorners," 
and many leases enforce the maintenance of "ane leash of 
good hounds, with ane couple of rachis [wolf hounds] for tod 
and wolf." 

In spite of all such enactments, the effective destruction 
of the Wolves seems to have rested mainly on the personal 
idiosyncracy of the landowners, so that, while good service 
was rendered by an occasional bright spirit such as the 
Lord Hugh Eraser's lady, " a stout bold woman " as the 
Wardlaw MS. informs us, who in the latter half of the 
fifteenth century, " purged Mount Capplach [on the border 
of the Beauly Firth] of the wolves," yet the plague increased 
till it reached a climax in the sixteenth century. 

Contemporary historians are at one in describing the 
abundance of Wolves and the terrible devastation wrought 
amongst flocks and herds by the savage marauders, and in so 
doing, they picture a Scotland wild beyond the imagination 
of the present day. 

"In all boundis of Scotland," wrote Boece, in effect, in 1527, "except 
thay partis quhair continewall habitatioun of peple makis impediment thairto, 

1 It is interesting to recall' that these Scottish Acts "For the distruc- 
cione of wolfes " were repealed only in 1906. 


is gret plente of haris, hartis, hindis, dayis, rais, wolffis....The wolffis ar 
richt noisum to the tame bestiall, in all partis of Scotland, except ane part 
thairof namit Glenmores, in quhilk the tame bestiall gettis litill damma^e 
of wild bestiall." 

And half a century later, Bishop Leslie of Rosse found no 
diminution in the plague: 

our nychbour Inglande has nocht ane wolfe, with quhilkes afore thay war 
mekle molested and invadet, bot we now nocht few, ye contrare, verie 
monie and maist cruel, cheiflie in our North cuntrey, quhair nocht only 
invade thay scheip, oxne, ye and horse, bot evin men, specialie women with 
barne, outragiouslie and fercelie thay ouirthrows. 

In spite of the interference of .man, the wolf plague 
had increased beyond the limit of toleration. In her Book 
of Highland Minstrelsy, Mrs D. Ogilvie gives a vivid 
account of the sufferings to which the natives of north-west 
Sutherland were subjected. 

The lean and hungry wolf, 

With his fangs so sharp and white, 
His starveling body pinched 

By the frost of a northern night, 
And his pitiless eyes that scare the dark 

With their green and threatening light. 

He climbeth the guarding dyke, 

He leapeth the hurdle bars, 
He steals the sheep from the pen, 

And the fish from the boat-house spars ; 
And he digs the dead from out the sod, 

And gnaws them under the stars. 

And so at last the inhabitants of Ederachillis were com- 
pelled to carry their dead across the sea to the lonely and 
isolated island of Handa, there to lay the poor bodies in 
peace, far from the reach of the prowlers of the night. 

In this sixteenth century, King James V in 1529 and 
Queen Mary in 1563, witnessed the destruction of numerous 
Wolves in royal hunts held in the forests of Athole, but 
there is no mention of Wolves in the account of the royal 
chase organised by James V in Ettrick Forest in 1528. 
Apparently Wolves had already been extirpated from the 
Lowlands. Yet at this very time so dangerous had travelling 
become in the Highlands that, according to tradition, the 
great pine woods of Rannoch and Lochaber were almost 
impassable on account of their savage tenants, and hospices, 
hospitals, or "spittals" as they were called, were erected on 


the forest tracks to give refuge to wanderers, caught by 
nightfall in outlying districts. The site of one of these 
refuges is commemorated in the name of the "Spittal" of 
Glenshee, in Perthshire. 

The direct interference of man with the Wolf in Scotland 
failed in its object : hereditary lords and legal governors were 
as impotent in face of the wolfish breed as were the suffering 
country people themselves. But where direct slaughter failed, 
indirect attack banished the Wolves from Scotland, for in 
the end it became evident that piece-meal slaughter must 
give way to an extensive destruction of the woodlands in 
which the Wolves lurked and multiplied in safety. So began 
that great burning of the forests, the memory of which is 
still kept fresh in the traditions of many a Highland glen 
(seep. 318). 

And now the Scottish race of Wolves was doomed. It is 
true a few survivors lingered in woods that were left. In the 
early years of the seventeenth century, Wolves were hunted 
in the neighbourhood of Stirling and in Assynt, and in 
Breadalbane each tenant had to make every year four 
spears for wolf-hunting; in 1618, Taylor, on his "Pennyles 
Pilgrimage," saw in the "Brea of Marr," "wolves and such 
like creatures, which made me doubt that I should never see 
a house again"; the "Accompt Book" of Sir Robert Gordon, 
Tutor of Sutherland, mentions, in 1621, "sex poundis 
threttein [thirteen] shillings four pennies gieven this year to 
thomas gordoune for the killing of ane wolf, and that conforme 
to the acts of the countrey," and the same diarist a few years 
later, specifies the Wolf in his list of the wild creatures of 
Sutherland. Yet before the end of the century, the Wolf had 
been all but exterminated. The last Wolf in the north-eastern 
counties was slain in Kirkmichael Parish, Banffshire, in 1644; 
the last in the wilds of Perthshire was killed by Sir Ewen 
Cameron of Lochiel at Killiecrankie in 1680, and about the 
same time one was killed in Forfarshire. But they probably 
lingered a little longer in the wilder and more wooded 
districts, for persistent tradition records that so late as 1743 
a Wolf, which had slain two children on the hills by the 
Findhorn, was tracked and killed by a Highland hunter, 
Macqueen by name. 

So the Wolf disappeared from Scottish hills, though many 


place names scattered throughout Scotland, even in the low- 
lands whence man first banished it, still tell of its former 
presence and abundance 1 . 


In the old laws the Fox ( Vulpes vulpes] (Fig. 29, p. 123) 
keeps disreputable company with its cousin the Wolf, and 
though both were equally warred against, the smaller animal, 
as is the rule, has outlived its congener. The general dis- 
tribution of the Fox throughout Scotland at the present day 
belies the efforts that have been made to extirpate it, yet 
its numbers are much reduced from those of former days, 
when it was reckoned with the Wolf as an evil genius of 
"tame bestiall." 

There's a tod aye blinkin' when the nicht comes doon, 
Blinkin' wi' his lang een an' keekin' roond an' roon', 
Creepin' by the fairmyaird when gloamin' is to fa', 
And syne there'll be a chicken or a deuk awa' 
Aye, when the guidwife rises, there's a deufc awa' ! 


There could be only one end to such iniquity persistent 
pursuit and destruction, and for many a long year this has 
been the fate of the Fox in Scotland. Even in the thirteenth 
century, special hunters were chosen to keep its ravages in 
check, for in 1288, in the days of the Maid of Norway, the 
Court Chamberlain paid 525. \c>d. to two park-keepers and 
one fox-hunter at Stirling. The fox-hunter long remained 
an institution in Scotland, but his efforts fell short of the need, 
and other means had to be taken to keep Foxes in check. 
One such method was the offering of a reward to a fox-slayer : 
a Statute of James II enacted, in 1457, that "quha evir he 
be that slays a fox and brings the hede to the schiref, lorde, 
barone or bailye, he sail haif vjd [sixpence]." But persuasion 

1 Witness a few names gathered at random : in southern counties, such 
names as Wolf-gill in Dumfries, Wolf-hope, Wolfelee, Wolf-cleugh in Rox- 
burghshire, the Wolf Craigs on Baddingsgill Burn on the southern slopes 
of the Pentland Hills, Wolfstan in Linlithgow; in more northern districts 
Wolf-crag on the shoulder of the Ochil Hills, Wolfhill in Perthshire, Wolf- 
hole in the parish of Birse, Aberdeenshire ; and in the Gaelic lands, Toul- 
vaddie or Toll-a'-mhadaidh the Wolfs Hole, the names of many burns, 
as Allt-mhadaidh and Allt-a'-choin uidhre Burn of the Dun Wolf, and 
lochans such as Loch-a'-mhadaidh and Lochan-a'-mhadaidh-riabhaich the 
Loch of the Brindled Wolf. 


had to be reinforced by compulsion, and conditions were laid 
down in many sixteenth century leases similar to those 
imposed upon David Ogilvy, when in 1552 he received the 
lands of Glenisla from the Abbot of Cupar, that he should 
"nurice ane leiche of gud howndis, with ane cuppil of rachis 
for wolf and tod," and he and other tenants were bound "to 
be readdy at all tymes quhene we charge thame to pas with 
ws or our bailyies to the hountis." Every farm of any size had 
to keep its fox-hounds, and in many districts the fox-hunter 
became a regular official paid partly by the landlord and 
partly by the tenants. The latter supplied him with farm 
produce and entertained him and his dogs during a specified 
number of nights in the year, according to the extent of land 
held. In addition, the huntsman received a special fee for 
every Fox slain by his hounds. 

Hector Boece held all such endeavour in disdain and 
commended a simple recipe learned of the good men of 

Glenmores, in quhillc the tame bestiall gettis litill dammage of wild bestiall, 
speciallie of toddis; for ilk hous of this cuntre, nurisis ane young tod 
certane dayis, and mengis [mixes] the flesche thairof, eftir that it be slane, 
with sic meit as thay gif to thair fowlis, or uthir smal beistes. And sa mony 
as etis of this meit ar preservit twa monethis eftir fra ony dammage of 
toddis; for toddis will eit na flesche that gustis [tastes] of thair awin kind; 
and, be thair bot ane beist or fowle that hes nocht gustit of this meit, the 
tod will cheis it out amang ane thousand. 

But the practice of Glenmore apparently did not hold 
good in other parts, since in the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries annual fox-hunts were the rule throughout the land. 
To these all the neighbours gathered that in Strathmore 
was opportunely convened by the church beadle as the 
congregation retired from divine service and for several 
days Foxes were hunted high and low. In many parts of the 
country, Sutherlandshire, Aberdeenshire and Dumfriesshire 
among others, societies for exterminating Foxes were formed, 
and in the district around Golspie in the closing years of the 
eighteenth century, according to the Old Statistical Account, 
"upwards of ,100 sterling is yearly expended for the purpose 
of extirpating that noxious animal'that kills young deer and 
sheep and moorfowl." Such concerted efforts made serious 
inroads upon the native stock. In five parishes of Aberdeen- 
shire in the district of Braemar 634 were killed in the ten 
years beginning with 1776; in Sutherlandshire, on the estates 



of Langwell and Sandside, 546 were killed in seven years 
from 1819 to 1826, and on the Duchess of Sutherland's 
estates 193 were killed in the three years from March 1831. 
to March 1834. 

Other inducements beside the protection of stock, have 
helped to bring Reynard to book, for the value of its skin, 
especially in the older days, was no mean consideration 
(see p. 1 68) and at the present day live Foxes are exported 
from certain districts of .Scotland to stock the coverts of 
English hunting counties. Yet in spite of all, notwithstanding 
that his numbers have been sadly diminished, the Fox still 
holds his ground, and there are few counties which cannot 
boast many occupied earths. From the islands, however, it 
has been banished, and none now exists on Mull, where 
tradition relates that it survived before the middle of the 
eighteenth century. 


In the struggle against the wiles of man, the Wild Cat 
(Felis silvesfris) (Fig. 30, p. 125) has been less fortunate 
than the Fox. At a time not very remote it too roamed 
over the whole of the mainland, and in earlier days even 
found a home on the islands, as in Bute, whence I have 
identified bones from the prehistoric settlement of Dunagoil. 
The increasing cultivation of land and need for more strin- 
gent protection of flocks, as well as the growing regard paid 
to the preservation of the smaller game of the countryside, 
were certain to tell heavily upon so fierce and persistent a 
marauder as the Wild Cat. From England man has driven 
it, as from the Lowlands of Scotland, and even in the High- 
lands its range is now severely restricted. Thanks to the 
labours of Dr Harvie- Brown, the steps of its decadence in 
Scotland can be traced with some precision. 

From the great industrial areas and centres of population 
it first disappeared. No tradition remains of its presence in 
the busy midland valleys between the Firths of Forth and 
Clyde: there it has been long extinct. Yet in the wilder 
lands on either side, it held its ground till recent times. In 
the counties marching with the Solway and with the English 
border, it was common at the commencement of the nine- 
teenth century, but about 1830 it had gone from the former, 


leaving only such place names as Wild Cat Wood and Wild 
Cat Craigs to commemorate its presence, while in the border 
counties the last Wild Cat was slain in Berwickshire near 
Old Cambus in 1849. Here too its former presence is per- 
petuated in such place names as Wulcatt Yett, Cat-leeburn, 
and Cat-cleugh in Roxburghshire ; indeed there is scarcely a 
county but has such traditional record of its presence, though 
this evidence must be accepted with caution on account of the 
possibility of confusion with the Marten " Cat." 

Fig. 30. Wild Cat (from a West Inverness-shire example). ^ nat. size. 

About the time that it was being exterminated in the 
Lowlands, the Wild Cat was also hard pressed in the counties 
bordering the midland valley, and in the more open counties 
along the east coast. In 1842 it was already extinct in most 
of the parishes of Stirlingshire, though it still survived in 
Strathblane. A solitary pair, killed in Glendye in 1850, was 
the last of the Kincardine breed. In Aberdeenshire, 44 were 
killed in the ten years succeeding 1 776 in five parishes about 
Braemar, yet in the Don Valley the last was killed near Alford 
Bridge only in 1862, though in the wilder Glen Tanar it 
survived till 1875. In the woodlands along the southern 
shores of the Moray Firth its general disappearance may be 
placed about 1830, when an individual was killed at Cawdor 


in Nairn. But in this area also odd individuals may have 
lingered in the more secluded woods till a later date, for 
about 1860 the Forest of Dairy near Forres yielded an 

Even in the wilder counties where one would 'imagine 
that abundant shelter might have been found, the same 
decades saw the gradual disappearance of the Wild Cat. 
In Perthshire the last in the Athole district was trapped in 
1857 ; in 1863 or 1864 the last south of Glen Dochart was 
killed upon Ben More ; the last loiterer in Glenshee, at 
Dalnaglar about 1870; and now they have been exterminated 
throughout the whole of that mountainous county, even to 
the wilds of Rannoch. In Argyllshire, the shores of Loch 
Awe saw the last of the race in 1864, although a few 
miles away, in Glen Orchy, an individual appeared in 1899. 
Glenmore in Inverness-shire has lost the Wild Cat since 1873, 
in which year also a solitary example was killed in East 
Ross, where the species was already extremely rare. An 
individual, however, is said to have been killed at Edderton 
on the south of the Dornoch Firth so recently as 1912. 

The rapidity of the extermination of the Wild Cat during 
a comparatively short space of years in country highly 
adapted for its preservation is a matter for wonder, and says 
much for the skill and determination with which it has been 
tracked. In Sutherlandshire on the Duchess of Sutherland's 
estates, a reward of 'half a crown was paid for each head, 
and between March 1831 and March 1834, 901 Wild Cats, 
Martens and Fulmarts were killed ; in the grounds of 
Dunrobin six Wild Cats were slain between 1873 and 1880; 
and in the districts of Assynt and Durness, while a keeper 
killed twenty-four Wild Cats in seven years from 1869 to 
1875, in the following five years he obtained only two (see 
Fig. 42, p. 176), and a colleague who, in the four years 
1870 to 1873 killed ten individuals, killed only four in the 
following seven years to 1 880. 

Since then the Wild Cat in Scotland has proceeded 
rapidly upon the path to extermination, and there is little 
likelihood of its ever regaining lost ground outwith those 
fastnesses in the forests of western Ross and Sutherland, 
of Inverness and Argyll to which it has been driven by the 
hand of man. 



Lesser noxious animals, such as Martens, Polecats, Stoats 
and Weasels have, like their greater brothers, suffered on 
account of their habits, but as some have been killed rather 
for their fur and because of their enmity to game, they will 
be referred to in the sections which follow. 


In a land given over to the simple rule of agriculture, 
birds of prey, of necessity, follow the same hard track of 
slaughter and extermination trod by beasts of rapine. In the 
old days Scotland was well plenished with birds of prey 
that afforded sport for kings, and, because of their service 
in the amusement of the court, were protected with all the 
rigour of feudal law. " Of fowlis sic as leiffis of reif [live by 
rapine]," wrote Boece in the sixteenth century, "ar sindry 
kindis in Scotland, as ernis [eagles], falconis, goishalkis, 
sparkalkis, marlyonis, and sik lik fowlis." But of these how- 
few remain in anything like their former abundance, and how 
many have altogether disappeared. A few examples will illus- 
trate the progressive effect of man's deliberate destruction, 
which on occasion was insisted upon by law (see p. 217). 


Grateful as the presence of the most magnificent of our 
native birds, the Golden Eagle {Aquila chrysaetus] (Fig. 31, 
p. 129) may be to the lover of nature, it is little wonder 
that farmers and crofters of former days waged incessant 
war upon it. Old records contain many complaints of its 
destructiveness. "The Eagles [of the islet of Lingay in 
the Outer Hebrides]," wrote Martin in 1703, "are very 
destructive to the Fawns and Lambs, especially the black 
Eagle 1 which is of a lesser size than the other." 

The flight of the Eagle was strong and the countryside 
over which its depredations extended was vast. This also 
hastened its downfall. The natives of an island adjoining 
Island Saint or Island-more (Ellan-Shiant or Ellan-Mhuir) 
in the Outer Hebrides told Martin that the Eagles 

1 The universal name for the Golden Eagle in Gaelic-speaking districts 
is lolar-d/ntb, the black eagle, or simply Ani-eun, the Bird. 


never yet killed any Sheep or Lamb in the Island, though the bones of 
Lambs, of Fawns and Wild-Fowls are frequently found in and about their 
nests, so that they made their Purchase in the opposite Islands ; 
and Mr Robert Gray was informed by an observer that he 
had seen the Eagles of South Uist "coming almost .daily from 
Skye with a young lamb each to their eaglets" a distance 
of about twenty-five miles. 

Such misdemeanours could not pass unnoticed, so the 
tale of Dr Patrick Graham regarding southern Perthshire 
in 1806, might be taken as an epitaph of the eagles through- 
out the country. 

" The black eagle," he says, " has built her eyrie from time immemorial in 
the cliffs of Benivenow [Ben Venue in Aberfoyle]; but by the exertions of 
the tenantry, who suffered much loss from her depredations on their flocks, 
the race is now almost extirpated." 

No wonder that the Golden Eagle had all but disappeared 
in view of the terrible slaughter of its slow-breeding stock. 
In five Aberdeenshire parishes, clustering about Braemar, 
70 Eagles were slain in the ten years from 1776 onwards; 
on the estates of Langwell and Sandside in Sutherlandshire, 
295 old Eagles and 60 young Eagles and eggs were destroyed 
in the seven years between 1819 and 1826; and rewards of 
one guinea and ten shillings each respectively brought to 
book 17 1 old Eagles and 53 young and eggs on the Duchess 
of Sutherland's estate in the same county in the three years 
1831 to 1834. 

The island of Hoy in the Orkneys, to which, about the 
middle of the seventeenth century, an Eagle is said to have 
carried unhurt from the mainland a swaddled child, has long 
been deserted, for a price rested upon the bird's head 
(see p. 1 30). So the Golden Eagle, which about two hundred 
years ago built in Derbyshire, and a hundred years ago had 
its eyrie amongst the Cheviot Hills, has been banished to 
the lone islands of the Inner and Outer Hebrides and to the 
Highlands of the mainland. Fortunately a new sense of the 
aesthetic value of the Eagle's magnificence has arisen to save 
this noble bird from extermination, and a wise protection 
has recently led to a gradual increase of its numbers and 
extension of its range. At the present time, however, its 
eastern limit may be traced in the wilds of the Grampians 
at the head of the Dee, and its southern outposts in the 
forests of northern Perthshire. 




A harder fate has fallen upon the Sea Eagle or Erne 
(Haliaetus albuilla) (Fig. 32, p. 131). Greater than its 
"Golden" cousin, it is no less destructive. Of the Outer 
Hebrides, Martin said in 1703 "There are Eagles here 
[Harris] of two sorts, the one is of a large size and gray 
colour, and these are very destructive to the Fawns, Sheep 
and Lambs." Of Shetland he wrote: 

There are likewise many Eagles in and about these Isles which are 
very destructive to the Sheep and Lambs.... The Isles of Zetland produce 
many sheep, which have two or three lambs at a time ; they would be much 
more numerous, did not the Eagles destroy them. 

And Brand writing of Shetland about the same time (1701) 
records that 

There are also many Eagles, which do great prejudice and hurt to the 
Countrey ; for the Lambs they will lift up in their Claws, and take whole 
to their nests, and falling down upon the Sheep, they fix one foot on the 
ground and the other on the sheep's back, which they having so apprehended, 
they do pick out their eyes, and then use the Carcases as they please. 

Few of the sufferers were content to save their flocks by 
the simple charm used by the islanders, who, says Brand, 

when they see the Eagle catching or fleeing away with their prey, use a 
Charm, by taking a string, whereon they cast some knots, and repeat a 
form of words, which being done, the Eagle lets her prey fall, tho at a great 
distance from the Charmer, an instance of which I had from a Minister 
who told me, that about a month before we came to Zetland, there was an 
Eagle that flew up with a Cock at Scallmuay, which one of these Charmers 
seeing, presently took a string (his garter as was supposed), and casting 
some knots thereupon with the using the ordinary words, the Eagle did let 
the Cock fall into the sea, which was recovered by a boat that went out for 
that end. 

So troublesome was this frequenter of the sea-cliffs that 
rom very early times a price rested upon its head in 
Orkney, witness an act passed at Kirkwall in 1626: 

Anent Slaying of the Earn It is statute and ordained... that whatever 
persone shall slay the earn or eagle 1 shall have of the Baillie of the parochine 
where it shall happen him to slay the aigle 8^. from every reik [inhabited 
house] within the parochine, except from cottars that have no sheep, and 
20 shill. from ilk persone for ilk earn's nest it shall happen them to herrie ; 
and they shall present them to the Baillie, and the Baillie shall be holden 
to present the head of the said earn at ilk Head Court. 

1 The words may include both the White-tailed and Golden Eagle. 


Fig. 32. White-tailed Eagle or Erne, once common, now practically exterminated in 
Scotland. (From a Hebridean example.) J nat. size. 



At a later date, the reward seems to have been commuted 
into a fixed payment, for Laing in 1806, in his Voyage to 
Spitsbergen, records that "a premium of three shillings and 
fourpence is obtained for killing one of these eagles ["Earne- 
eagles"]; and smaller premiums are given for lulling less 
destructive birds." 

Nevertheless for a long time the Sea Eagle seems to have 
held its ground with wonderful tenacity, and it is evidence 
of the extraordinary rapidity with which a widely distributed 
and common species may be exterminated that so late as 
1871 Robert Gray, in his Birds of the West of Scotland, 
should say of it, "Being a much commoner bird in Scotland 
than the preceding species [the Golden Eagle], the Sea Eagle 
has never been at any time in the same danger of extinction." 
Yet in half a century, man has practically extirpated the Sea 
Eagle in Scotland. The breeding places on Ailsa Craig and 
I slay have long been deserted, Orkney is forsaken, and Skye, 
where under sixty years ago a keeper killed fifty-seven 
eagles in nine years, now harbours not a single individual. 
Even in Shetland, where on the tiny island of Vemantry 
the tenant told Low, about 1774, that he had killed seven 
in a short time, the death-knell of the Sea Eagle has been 
rung, for the male of the last pair was killed some years 
ago, and since then the 

old female has returned year in, year out, to the old nest each spring to 
gaze out over the wide horizon and wait. In the spring of 1916 she was 
still alive at her post "just hanging about the old place as usual," solitary 
for the rest of her days '. 

It is possible that the species still breeds in its last out- 
post, the Outer Hebrides, but at best a few years will 
probably see the end of the White-tailed Eagle of Scotland. 


Hawks should perhaps be regarded as pests and vermin 
rather than share a place with their nobler kin as destroyers 
of domestic stock, but for the sake of unifying the treatment 
of the birds of prey I include them here. In proportion to 
their number, they have suffered heavily at the hand of man. 

1 Since these words were written this aged White-tailed Eagle of North 
Roe has disappeared. It ceased to visit its old haunts in the season of 1918, 
having probably died- -the last, it is said, of the Sea Eagles of the Shetlands. 


The GOSHAWK (Astur palumbarius], mentioned by Boece 
in the sixteenth century as a Scottish "fowl of reif," and till 
the middle of the nineteenth century said to be a regular 
breeder in the forests of northern Scotland of Darnaway 
in Morayshire and Rothiemurchus in Inverness-shire can 
no longer be reckoned a native of the British Isles. 

Like the Sea Eagle, the KITE or GLED (Milvus milvus) 
(Fig. 33, p. 135) exemplifies how frail is the security of 
numbers when man sets his hand to interfere. It is almost 
impossible to believe that a bird once so common that its 
vast numbers in the streets of London excited the wonder 
of foreign visitors in the reign of Henry VIII, should have 
suffered so grievously that in 1905 the few survivors in the 
British Isles could be counted on the fingers of one hand. 
Yet so it is, and the love of the "greedy gled " for the 
poultry yard had much to do with the warfare which has all 
but exterminated it. 

And other losses too the dames recite, ' 

Of chick and duck and gosling gone astray, 

All falling preys to the swooping kite : 

And on the story runs from morning, noon and night. 


It was once a common bird in Scotland, breeding not 
only in the wilder areas, but even in counties so far south 
as Stirlingshire and Ayrshire. By the middle of the nine- 
teenth century, however, it had been driven to the solitudes 
of Perth, Inverness, Banff and Aberdeen shires. From there 
also it has been banished, though here and there a Clach-a- 
chambain or "Gled Stone," such as that at the head of 
Glen Brierachan near Pitlochry, marks a well-remembered 
perching place of the Gled. From Scotland, and from 
England as well (except in Herefordshire, on the Welsh 
border), the Kite has been utterly extirpated, and now only 
a few survivors linger on in Wales, where from the miserable 
remnant of five birds known to exist in 1905, stringent pro- 
tection has been fortunate in slowly increasing its numbers. 

Less fortunate has been the OSPREV or FISH HAWK (Pan- 
dion haliaetus] (Fig. 45, p. 192), which a hundred years ago 
was so abundant in Scotland that naturalists did not trouble 
to record its haunts. At the end of the eighteenth century, 
it probably bred regularly 'so far south as Dumfriesshire, 


for in a pamphlet entitled Observations on Mo/at, and its 
Mineral Waters, published in 1800, T. Garnett wrote : 

This lake which is called Loch Skeen, is noo yards in_ length, and 
about 400 in breadth ; there is a little island where eagles bring out their 
young in great safety, as the water is deep, and there is no boat on the lake. 
The water of this lake abounds with very fine trout 1 . 

In 1806, Dr Patrick Graham recorded its presence on 
the southern confines of Perthshire, "The Osprey or Water 
Eagle, builds her nest in some of the lofty trees in Inchma- 
homa." It is known also that it frequented the island of 
Inch Galbraith in Loch Lomond, an islet in Lake Menteith, 
Loch Awe, Loch Maree and similar places. But these sites 
have long been deserted. 

In the twentieth century its breeding places have been 
confined to the counties of Inverness and Sutherland, but 
even here, in spite of all efforts at protection, there has been 
no security. Loch Askaig has been untenanted since 1911, 
while Loch-an-Eilein, whose ruined castle, built on an islet, 
had been a regular nesting-place for a hundred years, has 
been deserted since 1 902 (see p. 192). A pair of Ospreys bred 
in 1916 in Scotland, in a place that shall be unmentioned, 
but they are the last of a banished race. 

The ranks of other Scottish birds of prey have also been 
thinned by man, though till now they have escaped the final 
catastrophe of extinction ; but decrease in numbers and limi- 
tation of range surely mark the steps of a decadence of which 
extermination is the end. One cannot think of the persecu- 
tion which in the case of the PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco 
peregrinus), has replaced the protection of former times, 
without wondering how this fine hawking bird could survive, 
were the ranks of Scottish breeding birds not reinforced 
annually from the Continent. The numbers of the HEN 
HARRIER (Circus cyaneus] have seriously dwindled in Ire- 
land, and in Scotland it has been driven to the Orkneys and 
Outer Hebrides, and to the fastnesses mainly of the northern 
mainland. The COMMON BUZZARD (Buteo buteo] has dis- 
appeared from Ireland, though it still nests in the Inner 
Hebrides and in the west and central Highlands of Scotland 
and very rarely in the Outer Hebrides and Orkney. The 

1 Situation and name indicate the " Water Eagle "; the little rocky island 
is a typical nesting-place for the Osprey, as Dr W. Eagle Clarke tells me. 


HONEY BUZZARD (Pernis apivorus] has been known to breed 
as far north as Aberdeenshire and Ross-shire, though it can 
now no longer be reckoned a native of the land. 

Fig- 33- Kite or Gled, once common, now exterminated in Scotland. (From a 
Dumbartonshire example.) \ nat. size. 

Even the lesser Hawks have suffered. The records ot 
old vermin lists offer abundant evidence of the slaughter 


carried on in former days. In the parishes of Braemar, 
Crathie, Glenmuick, Tulloch and Glengarden, near the head 
of the Dee in Aberdeenshire, the ten years 1776 to 1786 
saw the death of " 2520 Hawks and Kites"; the estates of 
Langwell and Sandside in Sutherlandshire in the seven years 
1819 to 1826 yielded 1115 Hawks; and the Sutherland 
estates in the same county in the three years 1831 to 1834, 
1055 Hawks. To what extent such persecution has ulti- 
mately affected their numbers, it is not easy to say, though 
no better proof of their reduction below Nature's standard 
is needed than the fact that since the Great War has called 
gamekeepers from forest and moor to the field of battle, many 
districts have seen such a revival of Sparrow- Hawks, Kestrels 
and Merlins as has not been known in living memory. 


fhese birds also, the RAVEN (Corvus cor ax] and its 
relatives, did much damage in their day to young lambs 
and the feathered inhabitants of the farmyard. They too 
have been subjected to long and steady persecution. One 
has only to compare their numbers and habits in former days 
and to-day to realize how much the "ravenois foullis" have 
suffered at the hand of man. 

In the sixteenth century Ravens and others of the race 
of crows were common in the streets of the large towns, 
where, as I shall show hereafter, they were encouraged and 
actively protected for the value of their work as scavengers 
(p. 224). Even in the streets of Edinburgh and Leith they 
went about their disagreeable task unmolested, witness 
Wedderburn's account of the events which followed upon 
the ellipse of the sun in 1 597 : 

The peiple with gryt fair fled aff the calsayis [causeways] to houssis 
mourning and lamenting, and the crawis and corbeis and ravenois foullis 
fled to houssis to our steple and tolbuith and schip tappis, maist merveul- 
ously affrayit. 

Now, Carrion Crows and Ravens, once so common, are 
birds rarely to be seen; from the streets they have been 
driven to the wilds and to rocky fastnesses in the Low- 
lands^the Highlands and the Islands of Scotland. "Vermin 
Lists " again reveal the secret of the disappearance. In the 


five parishes on Deeside already mentioned, 1347 Ravens 
and Hooded Crows were killed in the ten years from 1776 
to 1786; in two estates (Langwell and Sandside) in Suther- 
landshire, 1962 were slain in seven years from 1819 to 1826; 
and on the estates of the Duchess of Sutherland in the same 
county, the three years 1831 to 1834 saw the death of 936 
Ravens, for each of which the reward of two shillings was 


The slaughter of beasts and birds of prey for the pro- 
tection of domestic animals has not been one-sided in its 
effects, for a natural result has been the indirect protection 
and inordinate increase of smaller fry whose welfare lay out- 
with the intentions of the slayers. These smaller beasts and 
birds have benefited enormously by the disappearance of 
their natural enemies. This, as well as active protection, 
may account for the increasing numbers of many small birds, 
but it is also responsible in part for the multiplication of such 
pests as Rabbits and Rats. The 'seriousness of the Vole 
plague, which in the early nineties of last century ravaged 
a wide district in the Scottish Lowlands, has also been attri- 
buted in some degree to the disappearance of creatures which 
under natural conditions form an efficient curb to overwhelm- 
ing multiplication. How will these lesser vermin fare now 
that war has given their enemies an unforeseen opportunity 
to increase ? Naturalists- will be fortunate if the answer 
leads to a fresh consideration of the influence of birds and 
beasts of prey upon lesser pests, and to a more reasonable 
slaughter on the part of the protectors of the poultry yard 
and the game covert. 

III. 2 


ALTHOUGH the destruction of animals for his own safety 
was a primitive necessity for man, it can scarcely have 
preceded in time destruction of wild creatures for the sake 
of their products. The men of the Old Stone Age were 
hunters by nature. Upon animals they depended in great 
part for their food, and when clothing was invented, the skins 
of wild beasts formed a simple and efficient protection from 
the elements. The bone needles of the later Solutrian de- 
posits of France indicate that in those early (Palaeolithic) 
days the art of stitching skins was already known. 

When the tribes of the much later Azilian culture reached 
Scotland, the arts of hunting and of the use of skins for 
clothing were already of long standing, and although refuse 
heaps show that our earliest settlers subsisted largely upon 
fish and molluscan shell-fish, there is evidence that the 
larger animals also fell to their spears. As we shall see, 
however, the effective interference with animals useful on 
account of their products, belongs to a much later period of 

At all times animals large and small have been slain for 
food, but as other motives have entered into the pursuit of 
many, and especially of the larger creatures sport in part 
determining the chase of such as the Red Deer and the 
Boar, their blubber that of Seals, and their skins that of 
Hares and Rabbits these will be mentioned in the sections 
which follow, leaving for present consideration some of the 
lesser food creatures. Fortunately, no native of Scotland, 
unless it be the Garefowl, against which other influences 
were at work, has suffered the fate of Steller's Sea Cow 
(Rhytina stellert\ which in the course of less than thirty 
years (between 1741 and 1768) was totally extirpated, simply 
because it formed a convenient food for the hunters and 
traders of Bering's Island. 



The reduction in numbers of the Grey Lag Goose has 
already been referred to (p. 104), and I would only mention 
here that the process of extermination is even now to be 
seen in the north of Scotland, its last native breeding resort 
in the British 'Isles. Here the native breeders are annually 
reinforced by large numbers of immigrants, as many as 500 
having been seen on the wing at once. But the value of the 
bird as food, and the damage it causes to the crofters' crops, 
have combined to reduce its numbers, for when the old 
birds are moulting and the young are unable to fly, all take 
readily to the sea and are then easily slain by fishermen, 
sometimes organized in parties. As a result the number of 
breeders is decreasing year after year. 

The highly specialized method of capturing Geese and 
Ducks by a system of trap nets or decoys has also accounted 
for great numbers of these birds. In the thirty-five years 
following 1833, 95,836 wild fowl were taken from the decoy 
of Ashby in Lincolnshire and in a single season in the 
eighteenth century the decoys near Wainfleet captured 
31,200 Ducks. The total slaughter caused by decoys and 
by driving Ducks must have been prodigious before the 
marshes were reduced by reclamation ; but fortunately these 
deadly devices never gained foothold in Scotland. 

Small birds have been and are an easy prey and a 
favourite food in many countries. To-day we deplore the 
slaughter of small migrating birds in the European lands bor- 
dering the Mediterranean Sea. Quails are netted by the 
ten thousand when they land on the shores of Europe on 
their spring migration from Africa in 1898, 270,000 were 
sold in the Paris markets and Larks are killed by the 
hundred thousand. The War has intensified the slaughter, 
for in May 19 1 6 it was reported that the peasants of southern 
Hungary, unable to buy meat at the prices ruling, were 
killing song-birds, and that the woods were being rapidly 
denuded of their bird population. Large numbers of lesser 
birds, Larks, and even Thrushes and Blackbirds, still find 
their way to Leadenhall market in London, and strings of 
Starlings are said to be on sale daily in the market at Louth 
and in other market towns ; but the trade in edible songsters 


has long since disappeared in Scotland. Yet in the old days 
the birds of the field and moor made a generous contribution 
to the Scot's table. I need hardly do more in support of 
this statement than quote, omitting the "tame meat," the 
provisions wherein an Act passed in 1551 by the Scots Par- 
liament, "statute and ordained " that 

the wilde meat and tame meat under written be sauld [sold] in all times 
cumming of the prices following, that is to say the crane [probably the 
heron] five shillings; the swan five shillings; the wild guse of the great 
bind [size] twa shillings ; the claik, quink and rute, the price of the peece 
foure pennies. Item, the plover and small mure fowle, price of the peece 
auchteene pennies ; the black cock and grey hen, price of the peece six 
pennies; the douzaine of powtes twelve pennies. Item, the quhaip [curlew] 
sax pennies. ...Item, the woode cocke foure pennies. Item, the dousane of 
laverocks [larks] and uthers small birdes, the price of the dousane foure 
pennies. Item, the snipe and quailyie [quails] price of the peece twa 
pennies. . . . 

Bishop Leslie in 1578 also refers to the abundance and 
utility of Larks : "of Pertrikis in sum cuntreyes [i.e. districts] 
ar gret abundance, bot of Laferokis [larks] ouer all far 
gretter, in sa far as that xii. for a frenche sous they cum- 
mounlie sell." The "Northumberland Household Book" of 
1512 shows that the Percys did not disdain such small fare 
as "Seegulles," "Styntes," "Snypes," " Redeshankes," " Kyr- 
lewes," "Seepyes" [Oyster catchers], "Knottes," "Dottrells," 
"Smale Byrdes" and "Larkys," provided always "thay ar 
in Season." 

At a much later date the lesser birds made contribu- 
tion to feasts, even of Royalty, for at a banquet given by 
the City of London to George III in 1761, the Second 
Service included dishes of Ortolans or Buntings, Quails, 
" Notts," " Wheat Ears," Woodcocks, Teal and Snipes. 
Moreover it was no insignificant destruction of wild birds 
that satisfied the table of former days. Glance at the pro- 
vision made for the great feast at the "intronization" of 
George Nevelle, Archbishop of York, in 1466, which in- 

Swannes, cccc. ; Geese, MM ; Plovers, iiii. C. ; Quayles, C. dosen ; of 
the fowles called Rees [Reeves], CC dosen ; In Peacockes, C. iiii. ; Mal- 
lardes and Teales, iiii. M. ; In Cranes, C. iiii. ;... Pigeons, iiii. M. ;...In 
Bittors, C. iiii. ; Heronshawes, iiii. C. ; Fessauntes. CC. ; Partriges, v. C. ; 
Woodcockes, iiii. C. ; Curlews, C. ; Egrittes, M. 

Apart from making use of resident native birds our 


predecessors did not hesitate to take toll of temporary 
immigrants. Brand in 1701 tells us that in Caithness 
"Especially there is a kind of Fowls called Snowflects [Snow 
Buntings] which resort to this Countrey in great numbers in 
February, they are about the bigness of a Sparrow, but 
exceeding fat and delicious ; they flee in flocks, thousands 
of them together, many of which the Inhabitants do kill and 
make use of. They use to go away in April and are thought 
to come from the West Highlands." 


Larger fry claimed the attention of coastwise dwellers, 
especially where caves afforded shelter to innumerable hordes 
of birds. Take for example Macaulay's description of the 
slaughter of Cormorants (P halacr ocorax] and Rock Doves 
(Columba livid] at " Hawskeir," an island near North Uist 
in the Outer Hebrides: 

On the west side of the rock are two remarkably large caves, of a con- 
siderable height : To these a vast multitude of sea cormorants retire every 
evening. Here likewise they lay their eggs and foster their young. The 
method practised by the islanders for catching fowls of this kind, while 
secured within such fastnesses, is far from being incurious, though abund- 
antly simple, nor is the pastime at all disagreeable. A band of young 
fellows make a party and after having provided themselves with a quantity 
of straw or heath, creep with great caution to the mouth of the cave which 
affords the game, armed with poles light enough to be easily wielded : This 
done, they set fire to the combustible stuff and raise an universal shout ; 
the cormorants, alarmed by the outcry, frightened by a glare so strange, 
and offended by the smoak, quit their beds and nests with the greatest 
precipitation, and fly directly towards the light : Here the sportsmen, if 
alert enough, will knock down a considerable number of them, and together 
with the cormorants, whole coveys of pigeons. 

At Fair Isle, as Dr Eagle Clarke has recorded, a similar 
method of catching Rock Doves was employed, but there a 
sail was hung over the mouth of the cave before a lantern 
was lit within, and the birds making for the entrance flew 
against the sail, and falling to the ground, were picked up 
by the hunters. So many were thus slain year after year 
that, Dr Eagle Clarke tells me, no Rock Dove is now to 
be seen on the island, although other causes, such as the 
decrease of cultivated ground and the recent introduction of 
the gun by the lighthouse-keepers, have contributed to its 


Even the Kittiwake (Rhyssa tridactyla] found its ad- 
mirers in former times: Sir Robert Sibbald (1684) reckoned 
it "as good meat as a partridge," and the fishermen and 
inhabitants of coastwise villages used it largely as food even 
towards the end of the eighteenth century. At this period 
Pennant found that it was used in Aberdeenshire, near the 
Bullers of Buchan, as a whet for the appetite before dinner, 
and tells a story of a stranger to the custom, who on en- 
countering for the first time this appetiser, as he thought, 
declared with some warmth after demolishing half a dozen 
savoury Kittiwakes that he had eaten sax and was not a 
bit hungrier than when he started. But the Kittiwake has 
survived the gourmets of the Aberdeenshire coast. 

Sea-birds formed the staple food of many a coast dweller 
in the days before travelling facilities had broken down the 
barriers of isolation. To this we owe the tragedy of the 
Garefowl in Scotland. 


The Garefowl or Great Auk (Alca impennis] was a large 
bird, its flesh was good for food, its fat supplied oil for light, 
and its feathers were soft and useful. It lived in great 
colonies, as the Penguins of the southern oceans do to-day, 
its wings were too small for flight, and the bird was stupidly 
docile. So it was that when the voyagers to the coast of 
North America found it in abundance, they made of it an 
easy prey. At first the Garefowls were knocked on the head 
with clubs, but the process became too laborious, and finally 
planks and sails were run ashore and the defenceless birds 
driven on board the boats by the ton weight, .so that the 
boats were often in danger of being swamped. At first the 
Garefowls were skinned, their feathers kept, and their 
bodies salted down like herrings and packed in barrels for 
food. But such is the ruthlessness of man, that latterly 
thousands more were captured than could be stored, the 
valuable feathers were plucked off and the bodies burned for 
fuel ; even when no profit could be made by killing them, 
the poor birds were tortured and burned alive for the amuse- 
ment of the barbarian crews bred by European civilization. 

Is it any wonder then that this bird, so abundant on the 


Atlantic coasts of North America that in 1540 a voyager 
loaded his two vessels with dead Garefowls in half an hour 
and had, besides the birds eaten fresh, four or five tons to 

Fig. 34. Garefowl or Great Auk (once a native of Scotland, now extinct) with its 
solitary egg. (From example in Royal Scottish Museum.) J nat. size. 

put in salt, should have been exterminated there in the early 
years of the nineteenth century? 


In Scotland there is no record of such heinous slaughter 
as darkens the path of the early exploiters of the natural 
wealth of America. Yet here too, the simplicity and defence- 
lessness of the Garefowl made for its ultimate disappearance. 
Causes other than its food value operated against ft. It was 
unable to fly and perforce had to nest upon the seashore, 
where eggs and young lay exposed to the easy attacks of 
beasts and birds, as well as of man. Its solitary egg told 
against it, for this slow multiplication offered no chance of 
recuperation from the destruction which dogged the Gare- 
fowl's landward migrations. 

All that is known of its history in Scotland marks the 
stages of decay reduction in numbers through man's de- 
liberate destruction, curtailment of range, and final extermina- 
tion. When man first reached Scotland the Garefowl was 
widely distributed upon the coast of Britain. Its remains 
have been found in the Cleadon Hills of Durham, and the 
early immigrants of Azilian culture who settled in Oronsay 
made use of it for food, as their kitchen-middens clearly show. 
Even in early historic times it occurred in regions whence 
it had long disappeared before written history takes up its 
story; for its bones were discovered in a refuse-heap, prob- 
ably of the Broch period, in the ancient harbour-mound at 
Keiss in Caithness. 

So long ago as 1684 it was recorded from the Outer 
Hebrides, and here only and in the Orkney Islands are 
definite records of its having bred in Scotland. Apart from 
a few odd references its story is mainly connected with 
St Kilda, where it used to arrive in considerable numbers in 
the spring time, seeking the shore from its winter home on 
the wide sea, in order to lay its solitary egg and hatch its 
young. One can trace in the accounts of successive visitors 
to the island its gradual reduction in numbers, for it was 
slain for its flesh, its oil and its feathers, until it became 
a rare and occasional visitor and at last disappeared. Sir 
George M'Kenzie of Tarbat in an account sent to Sir Robert 
Sibbald, apparently before 1684, merely mentions the "Gare- 
Fowle" amongst other common sea-birds of St Kilda, as if it 
merited no special description. It seems still to have been 
common in Martin's time, since his account of his visit to 
the island in 1697, faithfully describes the Gairfowl, first 



among sea-birds, "being the stateliest as well as the largest 
Sort." It is probable that Martin saw many alive, for he 
says that "it comes without Regard to any Wind, appears 
the ist of May and goes away about the middle of June" 
and his own visit to St Kilda extended from ist of June 
almost to the end of the month, the period when the islanders 
would be most actively engaged in collecting the birds for 
their winter stores. Yet in the account of St Kilda in his 

Fig. 35. Bones of the extinct Garefowl from kitchen-midden at Keiss, Caithness. nat. size. 

i. Upper portion of beak 2. Right and left wing bones (humeri) (inverted). 

3. Right and left leg bones (tibio-tarsi). 

Description of the Western Isles of Scotland, published in 
1703, Martin mentions only the Solan Goose and the Fulmar 
as being the most important of all the birds to the inhabitants. 
Perhaps already the Garefowl had fallen from its rank with 
these birds, although in Martin's own opinion in 1697 it took 
its place with them in the island's economy. 

A few years later, the minister of St Kilda, Rev. Mr 
A. Buchan, in an account written between 1708 and 1730, 


though not published till 1773, mentions the Garefowl as 
still a visitor to the island ; but while he describes the more 
abundant and useful sea-birds in detail, he passes lightly 
over the Garefowl, whose importance to the islanders had 
apparently greatly diminished with its shrinking numbers. 
Before the next recorded visit to St Kilda was paid, the 
Garefowl, from being a regular visitor had become a mere 
straggler to the island, appearing now no longer in May to 
breed, but as a wanderer in July. In 1758 the Rev. Mr 
Kenneth Macaulay visited the island and in his description, 
published in 1764, makes mention of 

a very curious fowl sometimes seen upon this coast The men of Hirta 
call it the Gare-fowl, corruptly, perhaps, instead of Rare-fowl.... It makes 
its appearance in July. The St Kildeans do not receive an annual visit from 

this strange bird It keeps at a distance from them, they know not where, 

for a course of years. 

Here the records of any regular sort of visitation of 
St Kilda by the Garefowl cease, and a few more exceedingly 
casual appearances complete the story of its existence. A 
specimen was captured alive off the island in 1821 or 1822, 
a few years after the last individual had been taken in the 
Orkneys on Papa Westray in 1813. And with an individual 
captured on St Kilda in 1840, the history of the Garefowl 
in Scotland comes to an end. It may have lingered on for 
a few more years in Iceland or the Faroe Islands, but about 
1844 or 1845 the Garefowl disappeared from the world of 
living things. 


Fortunately not all the sea-birds upon which the in- 
habitants of the isles depended for food have met the fate 
of the Garefowl. No bird could well have been more useful 
to the St Kildans than the Gannet or Solan Goose (Sula 
bassana), whose oil and feathers were of inestimable value, 
and whose carcases, to the number of over twenty thousand, 
were preserved annually for winter fare. Of St Kilda and 
its neighbours, Soay and Boreray, Martin wrote in 1703, 

The largest and two lesser Isles... abound with a Prodigious number of 
Sea-fowl from March till September, the Solan Geese are very numerous 
here in so much that the Inhabitants commonly keep yearly above twenty 
thousand young and old in their little stone Houses of which there are 


some hundreds for preserving their Fowls, Eggs, &c. They use no Salt for 
preserving their Fowl, the Eggs of the Sea Wild-Fowl are preserved some 
months in the Ashes of Peats, and are astringent to such as be not 
accustomed to eat them. 

Even on the small area of the Bass Rock as many as 1300 
Gannets were slaughtered yearly in the latter half of the 
eighteenth century, their products being valued at some 
^120; and the destruction of man has altogether driven this 
interesting bird from Lundy Island, a former haunt on the 
coast of Wales. That the Gannets caught on the Bass were 
widely used for food is indicated by the following advertise- 
ment from the Edinburgh Advertiser of Aug. 5, 1 768 : 


"There is to be sold, by JOHN WATSON, Jun. at his Stand at the Poultry, 
Edinburgh, all lawfull days in the week, wind and weather serving, good 
and fresh Solan Geese. Any who have occasion for the same may have 
them at reasonable rates." 

The reasonable rate was about "twenty-pence apiece," but 
the old birds were said to have had a flavour too rank and 
fishy for the average palate, so that only young or newly 
fledged chicks were commonly eaten. They "used to be 
considered as excellent provocatives." 

The Fulmar Petrel (Fulmarus glacialis], a bird which 
is annually increasing its range at the present day, also paid 
heavy toll at the hands of the people of St Kilda. 

"Can the world" said one of the most intelligent inhabitants to the 
Rev. Mr Macaulay in 1758, "exhibit a more valuable commodity ? The 
Fulmar furnishes oil for the lamp, down for the bed, the most salubrious 
food, and tfce most efficacious ointments for healing wounds, besides a 
thousand other virtues of which he is possessed which I have not time to 
enumerate. But to say all in one word, deprive us of the Fulmar, and St 
Kilda is no more." 

"Of the fowls themselves," Macaulay tells us, "every family 
has a great number salted in casks for winter provisions, and 
the amount of the whole is about twelve barrels." At the 
present day the Fulmar has entirely replaced the Gannet in 
the economy of St Kilda. 


The value of the sea-birds was greatly increased by the 
fat they yielded, which in the hands of the St Kildans was 
converted into a highly nutritious butter-substitute, a kind 
of bird-butter. Martin has described how they manufactured 
the fat of their sea- fowls into " their great and beloved 
Gatholicon, the Giben, i.e. the fat of their fowls, with which 
they stuff the stomach of a Solan Goose, in fashion of a 

"This Giben? he says, "is by daily Experience found to be a sovereign 
Remedy for the Healing of Green Wounds.... They boil the Sea-plants, 
Dulse and Slake, melting the 'Giben' upon them instead of Butter.... They 
use this 'giben' with their Fish, and it is become the common Vehicle that 
conveys all the Food down their Throats." 

In the earlier days, when the Great Auk was abundant, its 
capacious stomach seems to have been preferred as a re- 
pository for the bird-butter, on the same ground that the 
Greenlanders found it to be the most efficient float for their 

The destruction of birds' eggs for food has also had some 
effect upon the bird population. A sixteenth century manu- 
script in the Advocates' Library in Edinburgh (MS. 31. 2. 6) 
states of the inhabitants of St Kilda that "thair daily 
exercitation is maist in delving and labouring the ground, 
taking of foullis and gaddering their eggis, quharon they 
leif for the maist pairt of their fude," and Martin calculated 
that during a three weeks' residence on the island, the 
members of his own boat's crew and that of the Steward 
collected "Sixteen Thousand Eggs of Sea-Fowl." The 
cliff-climbers of Shetland and Orkney, too, were renowned 
for the success, as for the hardihood of their raids. But the 
effect on birds which frequent every ledge of a suitable 
rocky coast in numbers innumerable, is less patent than that 
upon land birds which occur in more limited numbers. The 
Times of 1871 recorded that so ruthlessly were Lapwings 
robbed of their eggs, which as a delicacy commanded $d. to 
6d. each, that, at that time, the bird was almost exterminated 
in the north of England, and the Statutory Orders protecting 
Lapwings' eggs at the present day are a sign of the reality 
of this destruction throughout the country. 



Since the days when the Azilian wanderers from Europe 
cast on their refuse-heaps in Oronsay the remains of the 
Wrasse and the Sea- Bream, the Conger Eel, the Spiny 
Dog-fish and many another, the wealth of our seas has been 
increasingly purloined on behalf of man. The extent of 
Scottish sea-fisheries was the constant wonder of early 
travellers from other lands. "It is impossible to describe 
the immense quantity of fish. The old proverb says already 
'Piscinata Scotia'/' wrote Don Pedro de Ayala, ambassador 
from Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1498 ; and so also the 
Italian, Ubaldini, in 1529: 

They have besides. incredible quantity offish from all parts of the 
island and especially when one goes more towards the North, in such 
fashion, that the people of the Island being unable to consume so much 
fish, furnish and load infinite ships every year for France, Flanders, Zeland, 
Holand, and Germany, and inland even, and even into other and more 
distant countries, but for the delight of richer, greedy or more gluttonous 

It is little to be wondered at, therefore, that our own 
historians found it difficult adequately to describe the re- 
sources of our seas. Leslie (1578) says the "Lochis or 
bosumis of the Sey" are "copious in herring miracolouslie," 
so that, as the Wardlaw chronicler mentions a hundred years 
later, "the greatest hearing sold for twopence, at least a 
penny, the least, two farthings, the hundred. No such penny 
worth in the world." 

"As tuecheng [touching] vthiris fishes," continues Leslie, "I can nocht 
tell, gif in ony place in the warlde, athir be mair varietie or mair abundance, 
of sum kyndes, baith freshe and salt water fishe." 

The abundance offish led to extraordinary slaughter, in 
which foreign vessels played no little part. It is on record 
that in one year three thousand busses or small fishing 
smacks were known to have been employed by the Dutch 
in the herring fishing in Shetland, beside those fitted out 
by the Hamburghers, Bremeners and other northern nations; 
and in recent years the number of fishing craft working 
round the Scottish coasts has exceeded 10,000, while the 
amount of fish landed outruns eight million hundredweights. 

What the ultimate result of such destruction has been 
upon the apparently inexhaustible resources of the sea, it is 


difficult to gauge. The herring shoals which used to frequent 
many of our sea-lochs seem to have disappeared, and in a 
limited area, such as the North Sea, there can be little doubt 
that the stocks of various kinds of fishes have been reduced 
in numbers, as well as in size of individuals. Many "of man's 
engines of destruction have contributed to this result. Since 
the introduction of the otter-trawl in the deeper water, the 
daily catch of Plaice has continually fallen off, and in inshore 
fisheries such implements as the shrimp-trawl have been 
responsible for the destruction of hordes of small fishes, the 
promise of years to come. In half an hour's shrimping in 
the Mersey, Mr J. T. Cunningham found many young fishes 
among his 56 pints of Shrimps 10,407 Flounders, 375 
Lemon Soles, 169 Hake, 70 Ling, and 12 Soles. 

In the more limited fisheries of our rivers, the results of 
man's destruction are less dubious, although here pollution 
of rivers and the creation of obstacles to migration have 
combined with active slaughter to reduce the stock. Think 
of the massacres which every year overtake Salmon on their 
migration from the sea. Stoddart gives a vivid description 
of such a killing, which took place near Melrose in 1846, 

upwards of three hundred breeding fish writhed and bled on the prongs of 
a single leister [a type of three-pronged fork, famous in the annals of Border 
poaching,] and at least six thousand which had escaped the toils of the 
Berwick fishermen and formed the hope and stay of future seasons of 
abundance, were cut off by means of the deadly instrument, along the 
course of the river [Tweed]. 

But the river slaughter is insignificant compared with the 
destruction caused by fixed nets and other "engines" which 
ensnare the Salmon on their journeyings along the coast or 
in estuaries in search for a suitable stream. 

For many hundreds of years the present methods of 
catching fish immigrating to our rivers from the sea have 
been practised ; and for almost as many years discussions 
have raged as to the ultimate effect of these methods upon 
the fish stock of stream and river. Asa rule the destruction 
of migrating fishes in nets and fixed engines at the mouth 
of a river, has been held to influence adversely the migrant 
stock, since many of the Salmon on which the bounty of 
a future season depends fail to reach the spawning grounds. 


So even in the reign of Robert Bruce we find statutes 
forbidding the use of "fixed engines," and an Act of 1424 
(James I) decreed 

that all cruives and yaires set in fresche watteris, quhair the sea filles and 
ebbis, the quhilk destroyis the frie of all fisches be destroyed and put awaie 
for ever mair. 

The Royal Commission on Salmon Fisheries in 1902 
reached the same conclusion as to the definite results of 
nets and fixed engines upon the fisheries of certain rivers. 
The evidence is vague and contradictory, but it seems to 
show that there is a gradual decrease in the numbers of 
Salmon in the upper waters of some netted rivers and in the 
estuaries of others, the latter point being strikingly indicated 
by the decline in the number of applications for net fishing 
licences in certain districts of England and Wales. Besides, 
there is fairly clear evidence that in some areas the im- 
migrant fishes are unable to reach the upper waters and the 
spawning grounds until the nets are off, and that the 
permanent or temporary removal of nets to allow easy access 
to the river has resulted in improvement of the fisheries. 

It is not so much the actual numbers of immigrating 
fishes destroyed by man that count, though this in itself 
affects the stock of the river, but that many mature fishes 
are prevented from reaching the spawning grounds to the 
prejudice of the stock of future seasons. 

A result undoubtedly due, in part at any rate, to man's 
interference can be seen in the general decline in the catch 
of grilse, especially marked since the opening of the nine- 
teenth century. At that time the catch of grilse in Tweed 
alone was occasionally a hundred times greater than the 
catch for the whole of Scotland to-day, and, wrote Mr W. L. 
Calderwood in 1916, "in a period of twenty years it never 
fell below a figure thirty times as great as the present day 
catch for the whole of Scotland." The economic standing 
of the Tweed fisheries gives a clear indication of the decline 
due to destruction, for whereas in 1807 the rents of the 
Tweed fishings amounted to ,15,766, in 1860 their value 
had fallen to a little over ,4000. The accompanying 
diagram illustrates the results of fifty years fishing at the 
mouth of the Tweed by the Berwick Salmon Fisheries 
Company. In the diagram the annual total catch, as well 



as the catch of Salmon and Trout separately, are shown, the 
annual average being struck for five-yearly periods. Part 
of the extraordinary decline, from an average of 109,971 
Salmon and Trout in the period 1842 to 1846 (in 1842 the 
numbers reached i48,93O,)toless than 4O,oooin the 'seventies, 
is rio doubt due to restrictive legislation controlling the size 
of mesh of salmon nets, but this still leaves much of the fall- 
ing off to be explained. 



1842-46 47-51 52-56 57-61 62-66 67-71 72-76 77-81 82-86 87-91 

Fig. 36. The Decline of Tweed Fisheries, as shown by the statistics of Trout and 
Salmon caught during fifty years. Each column indicates the average annual catch in a 
period of five years. Dotted columns indicate number of Trout caught; lined columns, 
Salmon : solid columns, total catch of Trout and Salmon. 

The figures at tops of columns show actual numbers caught; those at bottom the five 
yearly periods. 

In other countries also, destruction is proceeding apace: 
in 1913 on the Pacific coast of the United States of 
America, 140,000,000 Salmon were slain for food, and the 
gross value of canned salmon packed in North America in 
1916, amounted to ,8,708,527. 

Take again the case of a close relative of the Salmon 
and Trout the Char (Salvelinus alpinus and its races). 


This beautiful fish is a native of our deeper lakes, which it 
entered, a migrant from the sea, at the close of the Ice Age, 
and where it has been impounded by subsequent changes 
in the volume of rivers and in the configuration of the surface 
of the country. The Char is an excellent food fish, and has 
long been netted in many lochs. I give only one instance 
of the destruction of Char in Scottish waters. A few years 
ago, Mr Campbell, a well-known inhabitant of Kirigussie, 
told me that in his young days (he mentioned about the 
years 1860 to 18/0), Char were so common in Loch Insh, 
Inverness-shire, that when they came up the river Spey to 
spawn a custom peculiar to Loch Insh Char, and probably 
a relic of the old migratory habit which still characterizes 
Char in Scandinavia enormous numbers were netted and 
snared with a simple ring of brass upon a long stick. He 
himself with two companions, on one occasion netted in 
the Spey, in a few hours during the night, as many Char as 
the three fishers could carry home. The fish were pickled 
with salt and preserved for winter use. Nowadays Char are 
by no means so plentiful in Loch Insh, and there can be 
little doubt that the great slaughter regularly inflicted upon 
them at spawning time has been a cause of their decline. 
In several other lakes they have been entirely extirpated 
within the memory of man. 


The extent to which our coasts have been rifled of their 
molluscan shell-fish, since the times when the products of 
the sea-shore formed the staple food supply of our Neolithic 
forerunners, can scarcely be realized. At the present day, 
taking 1913, the last completed year before the War, as a 
standard, Mussels, Clams or Scallops, Periwinkles and a few 
others to the amount of 126,468 hundredweights valued at 
.16,662, were gathered on the Scottish coast for food or 
bait, and to these must be added 1,316,100 Oysters valued 
at ,4757. Many of our common shell-fish could successfully 
withstand much greater depletion, but some have been 
clearly affected by man's destruction. " Hard by the town [of 
Leith]," wrote Lowther in 1629, " be oysters dragged which 
go to Newcastle, Carlisle and all places thereabouts, they be 


under 3^. the 100" ; and in 1794 the oyster-beds opposite 
Prestonpans formed the chief fishery of that port, the ten 
oyster boats seldom returning without 400 or 500 Oysters 
each. But, in spite of protection, the oyster-beds of the 
Forth have long ceased to be worth working and have now 
almost disappeared. Our forefathers who accumulated the 
kitchen-middens of past times lived largely on Oysters on 
several parts of the coast (as in Easter Ross) where Oysters 
are now scarcely to be found. 

In Co. Clare, Ireland, the consumption of the Warty 
Venus Shell (Venus verrucosa] was so great that at one 
time, according to Mr Damon, the species was almost ex- 
terminated there. 

Land-shells, because of their more limited numbers, seem 
to have suffered even more severely than the denizens of 
the sea. It is on record that in the kitchen-midden of an 
ancient underground house in N. Ronaldshay in Orkney, 
great numbers of the Banded Garden Snail {Helix nemoralis] 
were discovered. But the Banded Garden Snail is now 
extinct on the island. So great did the consumption of the 
large Roman Snail {Helix pomatid] become in France, where 
during the season 50 tons were sent daily to Paris alone, 
that its serious depletion in numbers compelled the French 
Government to protect it by law, and close seasons were 
instituted when it was illegal to gather or eat the desirable 

Crustacean shell-fish have likewise suffered from the 
zeal of man. In 1913, Scottish coasts supplied the table 
with 681,059 Lobsters, and 2,213,866 Crabs, and as a result 
of constant harrying, and in spite of protecting laws, the 
numbers, as well as the average size of Lobsters have fallen 
off in many places. 


IT is only in recent years that the value of fur-bearing 
animals to mankind has been estimated at its real worth, 
and that ruthless slaughter has been replaced by endeavours 
to preserve and encourage the multiplication of creatures 
whose coats are valuable commercial assets to their native 
countries. There was no such farsightedness in Scotland 
of the old days ; fashion and profit were the only guides, 
and the result was a persistent destruction, which, sometimes 
outpacing natural reproduction, contributed to the curtail- 
ment of range or even to the extermination of our few native 
fur-bearing animals. 

In former times Scotland held a European reputation for 
its skins. What animals contributed to this fame, and 
suffered on its account ? Boece, in the sixteenth century, 
tells us that 

King Ewin biggit ane othir toon on the river of Nes, quhilk is yit namit 
Innernes [Inverness], quhair sum time wes gret repair of marchandis, 
quhilkis come out of Almany to seik riche furringis; as martrikis [Martens], 
bevaris [Beavers] and siclike skinnis quhilkes aboundis in that regioun. 

In another place he mentions the coveted creatures in rather 
greater detail : 

Beside Lochnes, quhilk is xxiv milis of lenth, and xii of breid, ar mony 
wild hors ; amang thame, ar mony martrikis, bevers, quhitredis [Stoats or 
Ermines], and toddis [Foxes] ; the furringis and skinnis of thaim are coft 
[bought] with gret price amang uncouth [foreign] marchandis. 

And of the people of Orkney, Leslie said in 1578 that part 
of "thair riches the skinis of wilde beistes." 

Further light is thrown upon the traffic in Scottish skins 
by an analysis of the customs duties levied upon exports. 
The Ayr manuscript, written in the days of King Robert 
Bruce, in a chapter on " Peloure or Peltry'' enumerates 
along with the commoner skins of Tod, Whitret, Mertrick 
and Cat, those of Beaver and Sable, perhaps foreign skins re- 
exported, as well as hides and Deer skins. And at the Port 
of Leith in 1482, among the taxed articles are mentioned 


skins of Calf, Goat, Kid, Rabbit, Polecat, Otter and Badger. 
Many varieties of skins of domestic animals contributed to 
the exports fleeces of sheep, skins of "shorlings," lambs 
and "futfallis" (lambs that die just after birth), goat skins 
and calf skins, kid skins and salt hides, but sifch skins 
scarcely entailed slaughter other than food requirements 
made necessary. Of the skins of wild animals the chief annual 
exports in the early years of the seventeenth century, as shown 
in an important paper from the charter chest of the Earl of 
Mar and Kellie, were 

hairt hyddis [Red Deer skins] 91 daicker 1 extending, at 20 the daicker, 
to ^iSjo 2 ; rea [Roe Deer] skynnis, 240, at i6s. the pece, ^186'-'; tod 
skynnis, 1012, at 405-. the pece, ^2024; otter skynnis, 44, at 4os. the pece 
;88 ; andcuneing [Rabbit] skinnis, 53,234, at 6 the hundreth, ^3194. 

Apart from this considerable export of Scottish skins, 
many changed hands within the country at local fairs, of 
which the annual " Fur Market " of Dumfries was typical. 
Here there was on sale every February, the year's produce 
of Dumfriesshire, of the Shire or Stewartry of Galloway, of 
the counties of Ayr, Lanark, Peebles, Selkirk, Roxburgh, 
and even of Cumberland and Northumberland; Hare skins, 
sometimes to the number of 70,000 ; Rabbit skins, in one 
year as many as 200,000; Fitches, Foumarts or 'Polecats, on 
one occasion 600 ; and skins of Otters, Badgers, Foxes and 
Cats as the supply offered. 

The constant drain upon the wild inhabitants of the 
country for the sake of their skins, cannot but have told 
upon their numbers. Yet so complicated is the influence of 
man that the ultimate effects are not always easily to be 
traced. On the one hand, new opportunities of increase in 
numbers, afforded by the development of cultivation of the 
soil, more than compensated for the destruction of Hares 
and Rabbits, while on the other hand, their destructiveness, 
real or fancied, hastened the decrease of " vermin " such as 
the Marten and Polecat, the Otter, Badger and Fox. 
Nevertheless an account of the histories of a few typical 
fur-bearing animals in Scotland will give some indication of 
the effects of continued persecution. 

1 A daicker or daker Lat. decuria, from decem comprised 10 hides. 

I trust that the charter-writer's statistics are more reliable than his 
arithmetic in these cases. 




Rarest and most interesting of all Scotland's fur-bearers 
was the Beaver (Castor fiber] (Fig. 37). Of its presence 
throughout the country in days long gone by, there is 
indubitable evidence, for its remains have been found in 
the deposits of ancient lakes in which it disported itself 
before man's advent to North Britain. From the Solway to 
Perthshire in these days the Beaver was common. Its 

Fig. 37. European Beaver exterminated in Scotland, j 1 ^ nat. size. 

remains have been found in Dumfriesshire, and in a peat 
moss at Kimmerghame in the parish of Edrom, Berwick- 
shire, many bones were discovered in 1818 together with a 
well preserved skull. Linton Loch in Roxburghshire has 
also yielded a Beaver's skull, preserved in Kelso Museum, 
and in the marl of the loch of Marlee, in Kinloch parish, 
Perthshire, a skeleton was discovered of which the skull and 
one of the haunch bones were presented to the Society of 
Antiquaries of Scotland in 1788. Of its continued presence 
in the Lowlands during man's tenancy of the country the 


evidence is equally clear, for in two prehistoric settlements 
in Ayrshire a shell-mound at Ardrossan and a cave shelter 
at Cleaves Cove, Dairy the bones of the Beaver have 
been discovered amongst the miscellaneous contents of the 
kitchen-middens. In historical times there are few references 
to its presence, yet we cannot but believe that it existed in 
the less frequented rivers almost till the middle ages. There 
are Gaelic traditions telling of the presence of Dobhran- 
losleathan the Broad-tailed Otter in many parts of the 
Highlands, and it is said to have been plentiful at one time 
in the district of Lochaber in Inverness-shire. 

In the twelfth century, Giraldus Cambrensis, who found 
Beavers in Wales, recorded that he had been informed that 
they still existed in one river in Scotland, and in the early 
half of the same century " Beveris " are included in a list of 
animals whose skins were subject to export duty in the 
reign of David I (1084-1153). I have already quoted 
passages in which Boece mentions it as occurring in Loch 
Ness (p. 155), and though it is possible, as has been suggested, 
that Boece was recording only some vague tradition that 
had reached his ears, yet many of his statements, it seems 
to me, have met with unnecessary scepticism, and I see no 
reason why the Beaver may not have lingered on in the 
wilds of Inverness-shire even to the sixteenth century, since 
many others of our decadent creatures found there a safe 
retreat. If so, it could not long have survived the date of 
Boece's record ; and in the light of its history here as in 
other countries, it is safe to attribute, its extermination to 
the destructiveness of man. I know no case which illustrates 
more clearly how a single whim of fashion can affect the 
creatures of a land even far distant, than the history of the 
Beavers of North America (Castor canadensis]. So long as 
beaver fur was used on a large scale for the making of hats, 
the Beaver was so keenly hunted that it was threatened 
with extinction, but the invention of the silk hat, in ousting 
the 'beaver,' resulted in an immediate increase in the 
numbers of American Beavers, and in their reappearance 
in places they had long forsaken. 




Once a common denizen of Scottish woods and wilds, 
the Pine Marten (Maries martes) (Fig. 38), or Mertrick 
in the Old Scots tongue, was in former tinles persistently 
slaughtered for its "costly furrings." In the old laws and 
ledgers reference is often made to the Marten's skin. It 
was one of the valuable items of Scottish export, and a 
regulation made in the reign of David II (1324-1371), 

Fig. 38. Pine Marten approaching extinction in Scotland. (From individual 
killed at Kintail, West Ross, in 1886.) \ nat. size. 

imposes a "custom of 4^. to be paid on each timmer 1 of 
mertrick skins at the outpassing." In 1424, the duty was 
raised to 6d. on each Mertrick skin exported. 

It was possibly the fact that Martens had become rarer, 
owing to the continual drain upon their numbers, that 
suggested the use of their increasingly desirable skins as 

1 Timmer or Timber, a merchant's term used to denote, according to 
kind, a number of skins. A timber of such as Martens, Polecats, and 
Ermines, contained 30 skins, of other creatures, 130 skins. 


a caste distinction in the fifteenth century; seeing that in 
1457, the Scottish Parliament ordained "burgesses (unless 
bailies or councillors) and their wives and daughters, and 
clerks (unless dignitaries of cathedrals) not to wear furrings 
of mertricks except on holiday." 

The result of such slaughter as the Marten was subjected 
to could be in no doubt, and the history of the Marten in 
Harris in the Outer Hebrides, as given by successive visitors, 
well illustrates its progressive effects. In 1549 Monro wrote 
"In this countrey of Harrey [is]. . infinite slaughter^ of otters 
and mactickes [probably a mis-spelling for mertricks]." A 
century and a half later, in 1703, Martin says "they are 
pretty numerous in this Isle; they have a fine Skin, which 
is smooth as any Fur, and of a brown Colour." Little more 
than a century passed and in 1830 Macgillivray found that 
it was "not very uncommon '; and less than fifty years later, 
Harvie-Brown regarded it as almost exterminated there. 

On the mainland the same process of extirpation pro- 
ceeded, intensified by the fact that the Marten's depredations 
in the poultry yard and amongst game, and its occasional 
forays against lambs and even grown sheep, led to its en- 
rolment in the class of " vermin." The disappearance of the 
Marten has been more rapid than that of the Wild Cat, for, 
notwithstanding that at a late date it covered a wider 
area of Scotland, it is now the rarer of the two creatures. 
Dr Harvie-Brown has given a comprehensive account of its 
history in Scotland up to 1881, and later information has 
added little to the general truths his facts brought to light. 1 1 
is true that the track of its disappearance is often obscured by 
the sporadic occurrence, in districts far from their birth place, 
of wandering individuals or pairs, which have little chance 
of setting up successful new colonies. Yet the main drift of 
the disappearance of the Marten is clear. 

The cultivated districts were earliest forsaken, an indica- 
tion that pest rather than pelt determined its disappearance, 
and indeed, vermin or rabbit traps have accounted for most- 
of the numbers slain during the nineteenth century. A few 
pairs may still lurk in the Cheviots, but the Lowlands of 
Scotland are now practically deserted, although it was 
common so far south as Kirkcudbrightshire in 1796, and 
1 I have italicised the significant words in each passage. 


odd examples were killed in Ayrshire in 1876 (Maybole) 
and in 1878-9 (Minnoch Water). From the midlands too 
it has gone. It was "rare" in Stirlingshire at the end of the 
eighteenth century, and the last wanderer to Dumbartonshire 
was killed at Arrochar in 1882, the last to the kingdom of 
Fife near Dunfermline in 1873. It has been driven even 
from the wilds of southern Perthshire, which ceased to be 
an important breeding ground about the 'fifties and 'sixties 
of last century, although odd stragglers were seen up to 1880, 
when one was killed at Balquhidder. 

The east coast also has been deserted. The last recorded 
example in Forfarshire was slain about 1860. In Aberdeen- 
shire the Marten has been driven to the wilds of Strathdee 
and Strathdon, for although a straggler was found at Gourdas 
in Fyvie in 1894, the last individual on the coast was killed 
at Ellon in 1874. The southern border of the Moray Firth 
was abandoned many years previous to the appearance of 
a pair of wanderers near Burghead about 1868. 

In the more northern counties the Marten still retains 
a hold, but in reduced numbers which find sanctuary in the 
protected wilds of the deer forests. The last remnant of a 
once universally distributed and flourishing race has been 
pressed backwards and ever backwards by the persecution 
of mankind, till it now finds itself concentrated in the forests 
and moors of the central Highlands, in Sutherland, Ross 
and Inverness and perhaps in Aberdeen, Perth and Argyll. 
From the wilder breeding centres of these districts the 
Marten still ranges occasionally into new territory (an in- 
dividual appeared at Colintraive on the Kyles of Bute in 
1914), but such wanderers invariably meet a fate unworthy 
of their venturesomeness, and the Marten, first pursued for 
its skin and later for its transgressions, has already trodden 
far upon the path to extinction. 


The history of the Polecat (Mustela putorius] (Fig. 39, 
p. 163) or Foumart (this Old English and Scottish equiva- 
lent meaning Foul Marten, from the atrocious smell of the 
creature) runs parallel with that of the Marten. Once an 
abundant and universally distributed denizen of Scottish 


wilds, it was hunted first for its skin, and later on account 
of its love of poultry and game. This, and especially its 
fondness for Rabbits, has led to its undoing. 

In the old days its skin was an export of some value, the 
export duty of 4^. on each timmer 1 of Ferret skins imposed 
in the reign of David II (1324-1371) being raised, in 1424, 
to "8^. to be paid on each ten fulmart's skins, called fethokis, 
exported." In the country's fur markets, too, it held an 
important place, and the influence upon its welfare of man's 
interference can be clearly traced in the dwindling numbers 
of skins offered for sale, as well as in the rising prices paid 
for skins by traders at local fairs. At the annual Dumfries 
Fur Fair, the contemporary records of which, from 1816 till 
1874 when the Fair ceased, were collected by Mr R. Service, 
there were exposed for sale in 1829 400 Foumarts' skins, in 
1831 600 and in the following year, they were, as the con- 
temporary account puts it "a drug on the market." Yet in 
1856 the numbers had fallen to 240, in 1860 to 168, in 1866 
to 12 and from 1869 till the Fair ceased there were "no 
foumart skins on offer." 

The diagram (Fig. 40, p. 165) shows graphically the effect 
of constant slaughter on the numbers of Foumarts collected 
throughout the Lowlands of Scotland, and, equally instructive, 
the gradually increasing price which the skins commanded, 
for although the trend of fashion and demand may account 
for minor fluctuations, there can be little doubt that in the 
main the rising value is to be associated with the growing 
scarcity of the animal. The price is reckoned upon "the 
furrier's dozen" which consisted of 

twelve very best full-sized skins, or a greater number of small-sized or 
secondary quality, or torn skins, so that a "dozen" sometimes really con- 
sisted of twenty or thirty or more of inferior skins. 

The fixing of prices according to the "furrier's dozen," has 
the advantage, from our point of view, of practically eliminat- 
ing price fluctuations due to the quality of the skins. The 
general rising tendency of the values, as plotted in the graph, 
is apparent; before 1850 twice only did the price reach 2os. 
and sometimes it fell to 1 2*. a dozen, after 1 850 it fell beneath 
the 2os. standard only twice, and in one year ranged from 
425-. to 45.?. The steady and gradual rise is still more marked 
1 See footnote p. 159. 



when the extremes are eliminated by the simple method of 
taking the average of five consecutive prices. 

The slaughter, begun on account of the value of its pelt, 
was continued, in part by design, because of its, thieving 
tendencies, and in part by accident; for after the. Rabbit had 
been introduced and encouraged by man, the Polecat found 
in it an easy prey, and, congregating where Rabbits most 
abounded, fell an easy victim to the steel traps of the rabbit- 

How, in face of such misfortunes, does the Polecat 
stand in Scotland to-day ? The records of its occurrences up 
to 1 88 1 have been collected by Dr Harvie- Brown. 

In the south of Scotland it is almost if not quite extinct. 
Its general disappearance from Berwickshire may be placed 
about the 'sixties of last century, though one was seen near 
Linhope in 1880; the last Roxburgh example on record 
was caught in Liddesdale in the winter of 1879-80; in 
Dumfries one appeared on the lands of Glenlee in 1892, 
the only one heard of in the county for upwards of twenty- 
five years; an example killed in Troqueer parish in 1880 
was probably the last of the Kirkcudbrightshire race. In 
Ayrshire, the Polecat was regarded as almost extinct in 
1 88 1 ; in Lanark none have been heard of since about 1860; 
and the last Renfrew example on record was killed in 1868. 

In the midlands it has fared no better. In Haddington 
the last example recorded was shot near North Berwick 
about 1860: in Midlothian none have been seen since "a 
number of years prior to 1 880" (Fala Hill) ; a stray wanderer 
to Kinneil in 1886 completed the Linlithgow tale; in Stirling 
and Dumbarton, where they were once so plentiful that one 
could be caught at any time, a solitary survivor was seen at 
Garden in the winter of 1 879-80. Kinross has been deserted 
since 1860, Fife since 1880, when one was seen at Falkland. 
Southern Perthshire and the Loch Awe district of Argyll 
have been forsaken since 1860, though in the wilder parts 
of the latter county, in Sunart and Ardnamurchan, 50 were 
killed between 1870 and 1880. 

Only a rare straggler now occurs along the east coast. 
There have been none in Forfarshire since 1860. Except 
for a casual wanderer such as that killed in a glen near 
Peterhead in 1894, and notwithstanding the fact that in two 



years about 1863 and 1864, one keeper killed 30 on a single 
estate (Littlewood) on Donside, and that 57 were killed in 
five parishes on upper Deeside in ten years from 1 776, Aber- 
deenshire has ceased to be tenanted since about 1870. 

The same tale has to be told of the southern border of 
the Moray Firth. A Polecat appeared at Whitewreath, four 
miles south of Elgin in 1898, but its fellows had been 
exterminated before 1880. In all but the wilder parts of 
Inverness it is extinct, though less than a hundred years ago 
it was so common that in three years (1837-40) Glengarry 
alone furnished 109 individuals. 





g 400 

$ 300 

I 20 



/ O^r "a drug in the market' 
; * >" below average'' 

/ V\ 



30/- '* 

25/- I 

20/- . 


1830 1835 1840 1845 1850 1855 1860- 1865 1870 1875 

Fig. 40. THE DECLINE OF THE POLECAT; as shown by the dwindling 
numbers of skins and rising prices at Dumfries Fur Fair. Numbers of skins are indicated 
on the left, prices per furrier's dozen on the right. Broken line indicates skins on sale; 
thin unbroken line, prices recorded; thick unbroken line, five-yearly averages of prices. 

The graph of skins is based on available numbers only, the remarks inserted are from 
the Market Reports of the Fair. 

Even in Ross-shire it is now seldom seen, the example 
last recorded having occurred at Leckmelm in 1902. In the 
wilds of Sutherlandshire the Polecat has longer kept a foot- 
ing: in 1912 one was seen at Lairg near Loch Shin, and 
at Inchnadamph the years between 1880 and 1889 yielded 
seven, and 1890 to 1899 eighteen individuals. It is hardly 
necessary to add that the islands have been long deserted, 

though Monro wrote in 1549 "Oronsay quhair there is 

mayne laiche [low] land, full of hairs and foumarts." 


The conclusion is clear that the curve of the decadence 
of the Polecat shown for the Lowlands of Scotland, applies 
with slight shiftings of dates to the country as a whole, and 
that this creature, once a universal native of ^Scotland, 
and now a rare dweller in the wilds of Ross, Sutherland, 
and Inverness, is balanced on the brink of extinction, to 
which it has been driven by the persecution of man. 

Of Scottish skins there were none that ranked in value 
with those of the Beaver, the Marten and the Foumart, yet 
several other creatures suffered in less degree for their pelts. 
Among these were Rabbits and Hares, and, in order of 
descending importance, the Fox, the Otter, and the Badger; 
but the destructiveness of these creatures, as well as the 
demand for their pelts, accounts in great measure for their 


In a future chapter (p. 247) I shall discuss the intro- 
duction of the Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus] to Scotland, 
but it may not be out of place to remind the reader that 
this native of south-western Europe was brought to Scotland 
and planted in warrens throughout the country, mainly on 
account of the value of its skin. This in former times far 
exceeded the value of its flesh, and commanded a price 
varying from half-a-crown to three shillings, according to 
its quality and size. In early times there was considerable 
foreign demand for rabbit skins, so that a Scottish law of 
1424 imposed a duty of \id. on every 100 "cuning" skins 
exported. In the beginning of the seventeenth century the 
Scottish export exceeded 53,000 a year. In the same century 
a great stimulus was given to the use of rabbit and hare 
skins when, in 1621, the wearing of "castor" or beaver hats 
was forbidden by law, except to the highest in the land 
to whom the special privilege of wearing "beaver" was 
granted in 1672, and when, following upon this prohibition, 
a further statute, of 1695, granted authority for making hats 
of rabbit and hare skins. For this purpose the underwool 
or down alone was used, but the whole pelt also was made 
into muffs and tippets, and was used for lining robes. So 
great was the demand for skins that in the middle of the 



nineteenth century a Parliamentary Report estimated the 
annual consumption of rabbit skins in England at 30,000,000. 
In Scotland a great trade in the fur of Hares 1 and Rabbits 
was carried on at the local fur markets, Rabbits in southern 
Scotland being classed, in order of decreasing value of skin, 
as "warreners, parkers, hedgehogs and sweethearts," accord- 
ing as they lived in warrens, pleasure parks, had no fixed 
abode, or were tame. At the Dumfries Fur Market as 
many as 70,000 hare skins and 200,000 rabbit skins have 
been on sale in single years, but even such figures give no 
idea of the constant drain upon the numbers of these animals 
caused by the steady demand for fur. 

200,000 sold 

during winter 

of 1871 

. 90 

1 so 

o 70 

H 60 

| 50 

$ 40 


.5 20 

& 10 

1822 1825 1830 1835 1840 1845 l %5 l8 55 !86o 1865 1870 1874 

the numbers of skins on sale at Dumfries Fur Fair. 

Numbers of skins shown on right and left ; years below ; dotted line, Rabbit skins ; 
unbroken line, Hare skins. 

The position of the commencement of Prothero's " Golden Age " of British Agriculture 
is indicated. 

In the above diagram I have represented graphically the 
numbers of hare and rabbit skins offered at the Dumfries 
Fair from the early years of the nineteenth century till the 
market came to an end about 1874. 

The graph clearly shows that during these years 
Rabbits in the Lowlands did not suffer ultimately in 
number through the persecution of man, as one would have 
expected, but that on the contrary, while Hares showed a 
gradual decline till 1849 and then a steady rise till 1860, the 

1 Almost altogether skins of the Common Hare (Lepus europaeus), but 
perhaps also a few skins of Z. timidus, the Mountain Hare. 


numbers of Rabbits increased more than fourfold, an ex- 
traordinary contrast to the rapid decline which marked the 
history of the Polecat in the same area. The increase of 
Rabbits is especially striking when one recollects that at the 
beginning of the century they were comparatively few in 
the south-western Lowlands, for the Agricultural Survey of 
Dumfriesshire states that in 1812 "a few rabbits are to be 
found, but hardly worth mentioning. There is no regular 
warren." The increase of these grass-eaters is to be definitely 
associated with the increasing supply of food afforded them 
during a period which, from 1837 onwards but especially 
after 1853, was marked by steadily increasing agricultural 
activity throughout Scotland (see also p. 390). 

It is worth noting also that the graph may afford some 
evidence of that antipathy between Rabbits and Hares to 
which I shall allude elsewhere (p. 253); for it is known 
that locally in Scotland, as in New South Wales, where 
exceptional increase of Rabbits has taken place, the Hares 
have been driven out. The close agreement, for the greater 
part, between the motions of the two curves may indicate that 
only very large numbers of Rabbits adversely affect the 
welfare of Hares. 


Of the destruction of the Fox ( Vulpes vulpes] on account 
of its evil ways, I have already spoken, but it is well to 
remember that the value of its skin acted like a price upon 
its head in encouraging more strenuous pursuit. In the 
fourteenth century an export duty of fourpence was levied 
on each timmer of skins (see footnote, p. 159) and this was 
raised, in 1424, to sixpence on every ten "tod" skins ex- 
ported. In the beginning of the seventeenth century the 
skins exported (valued at 40^. apiece) numbered 101 2 a year, 
no inconsiderable slaughter when there is added to it the 
number traded within the country, and when the limited 
extent of the native stock is taken into account. 


The demand for the skins of Scottish Otters (Lutra 
lutra] has been long on the downgrade. The Otter skins 
which were exported in the early seventeenth century the 


annual export averaged only some forty-four skins fetched 
"40?. the pece" but thereafter the price seems gradually 
to have fallen. About 1800, according to the Dumfries 
Courier vt February 2ist, 1829, a Dumfries dealer who pur- 
chased sixty otter skins from a single individual, paid close 
on 305-. each for them; but the statistics of the Dumfries 
Fur Market show that from 1829 to 1869, when otter skins 
ceased to be forthcoming, the price averaged rather under 
los. a skin, and although it rose in 1840 to i$s., it frequently 
fell so low as 55. and 6^., and touched its lowest ebb of 35-. to 
6s. in 1866. 

Nevertheless in the early days of trading the export was 
sufficiently great to warrant the imposition of a customs duty, 
which was modified from one halfpenny "on ilk otyr" in the 
fourteenth century, to sixpence on every ten otter skins 
exported in the fifteenth. In later times Scottish otter skins 
were mostly forwarded to London, where they were manu- 
factured into gaudily decked purses for export to Africa, but 
apart from this, the demand was chiefly a local one. 

The destruction of Otters for their fur, because of their 
raids upon Salmon and Trout, and for sport, has made inroads 
upon their numbers, occasionally attributed to other causes. 

"The Ottars, also Seals or Seiches, and other such Sea-creatures," wrote 
Brand in 1701 concerning Orkney, "are very numerous but now their 
number is so much diminished, that not one of Twenty is to be seen, and 
they have found several of them lying dead upon the Shore ; some hence 
observing that the Judgments of GOD as to scarcity of suitable Provisions 
to these Creatures are upon the Waters also." 

The Dumfries Fur Market gives clearer evidence of their 
gradual decline, for while 1829 saw 50 skins on sale, and 
1831, 226, thereafter the greatest number recorded was 36 
(1863), an d after falling to six in 1866, otter skins ceased 
to appear three years later. As the prices, which during 
these forty years remain wonderfully steady despite an 
occasional large rise or fall, give no indication that the 
falling off was due to lack of demand, it is reasonable to 
conclude that it may represent a real decline in the numbers 
of Otters in the Scottish Lowlands, whence the supply of 
the market was drawn. 

The tale of a single "vermin" list will indicate the penalty 
paid by the Otter for its depredations in fishing streams. On 


the Duchess of Sutherland's estates in Sutherland, during 
the three years from March 1831 to March 1834, a reward 
of five shillings offered for each head was paid on 263 Otters. 


In Scotland the decadence of the Badger (Miles miles] 
is to be accounted for by a multitude of influences which told 
severally and directly against it. It was hunted for sport, it 
was caught for baiting, it was destroyed for its destructive- 
ness, it was killed for food, and its skins were a marketable 
commodity. Of all these direct influences the value of its 
skin was probably that which least influenced its welfare, for 
in Scotland the skins never created any great demand, and 
I mention the Badger here simply because the skins, which 
sold at some $s. or 6.?. each, made an occasional appearance 
at the Dumfries Fur Fair up to about the middle of the 
nineteenth century. 

The case of the Badger, however, is typical of most of 
the fur-bearing natives of Scotland, and in concluding an 
account of the influence of the trade in skins upon the 
Scottish fauna, I would emphasize again that skins alone 
seldom formed the whole object of the persecution to which 
their possessors were subjected, but that other and varied 
objects, and especially the protection of game and minor 
domestic stock, combined to intensify the pursuit of most of 
the fur-bearers. In Scotland there is no instance of that 
single-mindedness arid intensity of destruction which led to 
the slaughter by single ship's crews of 57,000 Fur Seals in 
1800 during the short season in South Georgia, and of at 
least 74,000 in Australia in 1804, an d which on account 
of their skins has almost exterminated Fur Seals in the 
Southern Hemisphere. In Scotland motives have been 
more complex, but the results if less striking have been no 
less fatal to the races of fur-bearing animals. 


In discussing the creatures destroyed for their fat or oil, 
we are reminded once more that a rigid classification of the 
motives which have led to the slaughter of animals conveys 
only part of the truth. While the fat of many a creature was 


manufactured into oil, during centuries a necessity for light 
and heat to the dwellers on the more remote parts of the 
coast, the flesh was often used as food. In particular the 
Solan Goose and Fulmar were invaluable in supplying both 
food and oil to the natives of their haunts, especially in the 
isolated outer islands. The inhabitants of the Bass Rock, in 
the beginning of the nineteenth century, were accustomed 
to obtain ten gallons Scots of oil drawn from the fat of 
the Solan. 

For the most telling illustrations of ruthless and deadly 
destruction of oil-bearing creatures, the enquirer must look 
beyond the coasts of Scotland. In 1868 a few American 
whaling ships turned their attention to the Walrus (Odobenus 
rosmarus\ which yields about 20 gallons of oil, and finding 
it an easy prey, each ship accounted for from 200 to 600 
individuals. The result was that in succeeding years more 
ships followed suit, so that in 1870 the American whaling 
fleet is believed to have destroyed not fewer than 50,000 
Walruses 1 . At the same time American traders were pursuing 
with easy energy the Penguins of the southern Ocean, so 
that small vessels specially fitted out for the work returned 
after a six weeks' cruise with 25,000 to 30,000 gallons of oil, 
and this, since eleven birds yield only a gallon, represented 
a slaughter of some 300,000 birds to each ship. Or take the 
case of the Turtle: Bates, in his Naturalist on the Amazon, 
records how its eggs are collected for the oil they contain, 
and estimates the destruction at 48,000,000 a year. 

Although Scotland can instance no such appalling de- 
struction of life, nevertheless the demand for oil proved a 
constant drain upon her more slender resources. 


So long ago as the days of St Columba, the Monastery 
of lona reserved for itself a small island lying off the coast, 
whereon a colony of Seals was protected in order that the 
monks should be furnished with food and with oil to lighten 
the dark days of winter (see p. 222). On other parts of the 
coast, also, regular seal fisheries -were engaged in in former 
times, for we learn, from a charter of David I to the 

1 This destruction was reflected in our fauna, for since the middle of 
the nineteenth century the occasional appearance of the Walrus on the 
coasts of Scotland has ceased. 


Monastery of Dunfermline, that on the east coast Seals 
were objects of trade even in the twelfth century. Both 
the Common Seal (Phoca vitulina) and the Grey Seal 
(Halichcerus grypus) were objects of pursuit, but as a rule 
fisheries on the east coast were concerned with the former, 
and on the west coast and amongst the islands most often 
with the latter. At a later date, in the neighbourhood of 
North Uist, the slaughter was reckoned sometimes at 320 
individuals a year. Here as elsewhere, the flesh of the Seal 
as well as its oil was used, the former being preserved for 
winter food. Martin tells how the men of "Heiskir" caught 
the Seals in a narrow channel between that and a neighbour- 
ing island, by means of a net of horse hair ropes, "contracted 
at one end like a Purse," and gives a detailed account of a 
seal-hunt in the Outer Islands, as he observed it about the 
opening of the eighteenth century. 

On the western coast of this Island [of Heiskir] lyes the Rock Cousmil, 
about a quarter of a mile in circumference, and it is still famous for the 
yearly fishing of seals there in the end of October. . . .These Farmers [probably 
the men of N. Uist] man their Boat with a competent number for the 
business, and they always imbarque with a contrary wind, for their security 
against being driven away by the Ocean, and likewise to prevent them from 
being discovered by the Seals, who are apt to smell the scent of them, and 
presently run to sea. 

When this Crew is quietly landed, they surround the passes, and then 
the signal for the general attack is given from the Boat, and so they beat 
them down with big staves. The Seals at this On-set make towards the 
Sea, with all speed, and often force their passage over the necks of the 
Stoutest assailants who aim always at the Forehead of the Seals, giving 
many blows before they be killed, and if they be not hit exactly, on the 
Front, they contract a Lump on the forehead, which makes them look very 
fierce, and if they get hold of the staff with their Teeth, they carry it along 
to sea with them. Those that are in the Boat shoot at them as they 
run to Sea, but few are catched that way. The Natives -told me that 
several of the biggest seals lose their Lives by endeavouring to save their 
young ones, whom they tumble before them towards the Sea. I was told 
also that 320 Seals, Young and Old, have been killed at one time in this 
Place.... The Natives Salt the Seals with the ashes of burnt Sea Ware and 
say they are good Food, the vulgar eat them commonly in the Spring time 
with a long pointed Stick instead of a Fork to prevent the strong smell 
which their hands would otherwise have for several Hours after. The 
Flesh and Broth of fresh Young Seals, is by experience known to be 
Pectoral, the Meat is Astringent and used as an effectual remedy against 
the Diarrhoea and Dysenteria; the Liver of a Seal being dry'd and 
pulverized and afterwards a little of it drunk with Milk, Aquavita, or Red 
Wine is also good against Fluxes. 


Some of the Natives wear a Girdle of the Seals Skin about their middle 
to remove the Sciatica, as those of the Shire of ABERDEEN wear it to remove 
the Chin-cough 

The Seal, tho' esteemed fit only for the Vulgar, is also eaten by Persons 
of Distinction, though under a different name, to wit, Hamm. 

Sixty years later, Macaulay, describing the same sealing 
ground, adds 

that the fat of the Seals, is by the people, to whose share that perquisite 
falls, converted now into oil and sent to market. But in that writer's 
[Martin's] time, and for ages immemorial before, this, together with the 
flesh of these animals, was eaten either fresh or salted. 

And in 1830 Macgillivray could still write of "Gaskir [or 
Haskeir] twelve miles from Harris" that "great numbers are 
killed upon it annually, upwards of a hundred and twenty 
having been destroyed in one day." 

Close on two hundred years before Martin wrote of the 
Outer Hebrides, "Jo. Ben." (perhaps the Bellenden who 
translated Boece's History] described, in a Latin manuscript, 
a very similar seal-hunt which in the sixteenth century took 
place annually at "Selchsskerry" in the Orkneys, and even 
in 1795, Low in his Fauna Orcadensis relates that "a ship 
commonly goes from this place once a-year to Soliskerry 
[Suleskerry], and seldom returns without 200 or 300 Seals." 

Now the significance of the number of Seals killed 
depends not upon its intrinsic greatness, but upon its relation 
to the annual increase of the stock which inhabits the hunting- 
grounds. There can be no doubt that the slaughter of 
former days in Scotland exceeded the natural increase and 
trespassed upon the breeding stock of Seals. The result has 
been that the Seals of Scotland have been greatly reduced 
in number, a result especially evident in the case of the 
larger and more valuable species, the Grey Seal. This fine 
creature, the object of the seal-hunts at Haskeir in the Outer 
Hebrides, and amongst the Orkney and Shetland Islands, 
is thought to have been at one time the commonest seal 
on the east coast also. Its bones have been found in a 
kitchen-midden on Inchkeith, and at an early Christian 
settlement in Constantine's Cave near St Andrews. But 
its numbers have been so reduced that it is now seldom 
seen on the east coast, and the stock throughout the whole 
of Scotland where it was once very numerous has been 


estimated to have fallen to less than 500 strong. So 
threatening did .the outlook for the unprotected Grey Seal 
seem to be that in 1914 a Parliamentary Bill became law, 
making it illegal to destroy the Grey Seal between October r 
and December 15, a period covering the breeding time of 
the species, under penalty for every offence of ^5 for the 
slayer and 10 for the owner of the boat employed. 


Five hundred years ago, Whales were abundant in every 
ocean. Even the Mediterranean Sea furnished a regular 
fishery which has long since died out for lack of Whales to 
slay. And although the actual hunting of the larger and 
more valuable species, the Greenland or Right Whale 
(Bal&na mysticetus] and the Sperm Whale {Physeter macro- 
cephalus], was never carried on systematically in the 
immediate neighbourhood of the Scottish coasts, the Scottish 
fauna is the poorer for the destruction that was visited upon 
these wanderers of the ocean in distant parts. 

In this destruction Scottish vessels and Scottish mariners 
played their part. At Peterhead the whale fishery was 
started in 1788 and in less than a hundred years, to 1879, 
had accounted for the capture of 4 195^ Whales yielding 
30,975 tons of oil (a ton measuring 252 gallons) and 1549 
tons of whalebone, apart from a total of 1,673,052 Seals, 
yielding another 20,913 tons of oil. At Dundee the fishery 
commenced in 1790, and up to 1879 there were captured 
4220 Whales, yielding 32,774 tons of oil, and 1640 tons of 
whalebone, together with 917,278 Seals, yielding 10,464 tons 
of oil. 

And this is no more than a drop in the bucket. In the 
thirty-eight years from 1835 to 1872, the American whaling 
fleet is credited with having captured or destroyed 292,714 
Whales. The story of trie more valuable W'hales can be read 
with no uncertainty in the statistics of the whaling industry: 
a gradually decreasing catch and following upon this a 
reduction in the numbers of ships that set out for the 
whaling grounds, so that the United States fleet, which 
numbered some 730 vessels in 1846, had fallen off to 218 in 
1872 such facts tell of the pitiful decline of the great ocean 


Now the Sperm Whale and the Whalebone Whales are 
so scarce that they no longer offer a profitable fishery in 
our northern waters, and attention has been turned to species 
which formerly were passed by in contempt. 

On the coasts of Scotland, before the war, the whaling 
stations of the Outer Hebrides and of the Shetlands, manned 
by Norwegian fishermen, accounted for hundreds of Rorquals 
(Bal&noptera) a year; and here as well as in the Southern 
Oceans, where in the Falkland Islands group, 9429 Whales 
were slain in the season of 1913-14, the slaughter is bound 
to bring even these flourishing species of the Whale stock 
near extinction, if legislation does not speedily protect them 
by close seasons or other devices. Rorquals or Finners are 
slain entirely for their blubber, and in South Georgia the 
carcases are set adrift to rot in the sea, so that huge decaying 
masses are said to lie for miles round the different stations. 
But in these lean days the attention of the Food Controller 
might with profit be drawn to the fact that in the seventeenth 
century the people of the Western Isles of Scotland found 
by experience that Whales supplied nourishing food, for this 
Martin was assured of, "particularly by some poor meagre 
people who became plump and lusty by this Food in the 
space of a week; they call it Sea Pork." Their method of 
capturing the "Whales," probably the Pilot or Ca'aing 
Whale the Round-headed Porpoise (Globicephalus melas] 
was of the simplest. A school having been sighted 

the Natives employ many boats together in Pursuit of the Whales chasing 
them up into the Bays, till they wound one of them mortally and then it 
runs ashore, and they say that all the rest follow the track of its Blood, and 
run themselves also on shore in like manner ; by which means many of 
them are killed. About five years ago there were fifty young whales killed 
in this manner, and most of them eaten by the common People. 

Of Whales it may be said that inordinate destruction 
compelled by the greed of gain, has far outrun the natural 
increase of the race, so that all the oceans of the world have 
been impoverished, and the seas of Scotland have shared in 
the loss, being deprived of many a visitor such as, in the 
old days, made a chance pilgrimage from the northern ocean. 

III. 4 


IN the gamekeeper's "larder" or "museum," that miscel- 
laneous collection of fresh bodies and dried skins nailed 
round the girth of a tree or tacked to a doorpost, we have 
a tangible epitome of the destruction of vermin. The assort- 
ment of Stoats, Magpies, Hooded Crows, Jackdaws, Weasels, 
and alas, Owls, must be so familiar to every lover of the 
country, as to make it unnecessary here to enter into the 

70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 

Fig. 42. Decadence of "Vermin" Wild Cat, Marten and Polecat through twelve 
years' work of one gamekeeper. The numbers are indicated on the left, the years beneath. 

details of the slaughter. Many of the creatures mentioned 
in other connections in this account of man's destructiveness 
have been allotted a place on the vermin lists Eagles, 
Foxes, Wild Cats, Martens, Polecats, Ravens and Hawks, 
and it cannot but be that, where keepers are employed 
mainly with the view of destroying vermin for the sake of 
game, a serious falling off in the original stock is likely to 
follow. The result of a single keeper's efforts offers a sum- 
mary of the whole, and, as represented in the diagram above, 
shows how rapidly regular trapping may lead to the reduction 
or disappearance of our native animals. In twelve years the 
Marten may be regarded as having been exterminated in 


this keeper's beat, in Assynt in Sutherlandshire, the Wild 
Cat was reduced to the verge of extinction, and even the 
Polecat showed an ominous uncertainty of tenure. 

Of lesser vermin the slaughter has at all times been great 
since universal game-preserving became the fashion. On 
the estates of Langwell and Sandside in Sutherlandshire, in 
seven years from 1819 to 1826, Carrion Crows and Magpies 
to the number of 2647 were slain, in addition to 1799 Rooks 
and Jackdaws; while in three years from 1831 to 1834 on the 
Duchess of Sutherland's estates in Sutherland, 1739 Carrion 
Crows and Magpies were destroyed. 


Some of the lesser vermin are miscreants steeped in 
crime. The Rook was no less vehemently denounced by the 
farmer of the fifteenth century than by his successor to-day. 
Even the Scottish Parliament took up the cudgels against 
it, and by a curious method sought to keep this thief in 
check. For seeing that "ruks bigande in kirke yards, 
orchards, or treis does gret skaithe apone cornis," a statute 
of 1424, 

ordanyt that thai that sik treis pertenys to, suffer on na wyse that thai birds 
fle away. And whar it beis tayntit [known] that thai bige and the birds be 
flowin [flown], and the nests be fundyn [found] in the treis at Beltane, the 
treis sal be forfaltit [forfeited] to the King. 

A later law, of 1457, also provided for the destruction of 
Rooks, Crows and other birds of prey which injure corn and 
game ; and at the present day every country district is 
familiar with the annual "crow-shoot" whereby an endeavour 
is made to limit the numbers and destructiveness of the Rook. 
The Chough also has suffered from the zeal of the 
vermin-killer. At one time it seems to have been widely 
distributed even in inland districts. Leslie makes undoubted 
reference to it, when, as Dalrymple translates his Latin, 
he says : 

Sche is said to be fund in ane only He, in the sey cost besyde Cornwale 
foranent [over against] the Realme of France, bot with ws [us] this fowle 
[Lat. corniculam, little crow] may be seine with neb and feit of purpur 
hew, nocht only in ane place, that only is thocht to be fund in Cornwale of 
sum. [The Latin adds, " whence we give it its name," i.e. Cornish Crow.] 


In inland localities, which it has now altogether forsaken, 
the Chough nested down to the eighteenth and even to the 
nineteenth century. The following facts are summarized 
from Mr J. H. Buchanan's account of the Chough in Scot- 
land. In the midlands it occurred in Glenlyon in "Perthshire 
in 1769, in 1795 there was a pair or two on the Campsie 
Fells and records exist of its presence on the Ochil Hills 
and on the Clova Hills of Forfarshire. In the Lowlands 
it frequented the Corra Linn Fall on the Clyde about 1770, 
and the last individual from an inland breeding-place was 
shot at Crawfordjohn in Lanarkshire in 1834. 

On the cliffs of the coast as a rule it held its own to a 
later date, but from most of these also it has disappeared. 
On the east coast it has been found at Dunrobin in Sutherland- 
shire and at St Abbs in Berwickshire, but even in 1851 all 
but a single pair had forsaken the fastnesses of the latter 
neighbourhood. On the west coast its former haunts are 
better known, for in the secluded places of that wild shore it 
is making its last stand in Scotland. It has gone from the 
parishes of Kilbrandon and Kilchattan, and of Giga and 
Cara in Argyllshire, where the writers of the Old Statistical 
Account knew it. On the island of Lismdre on Loch 
Linnhe, where flocks existed at the opening of the nine- 
teenth century, it is extinct. The majority of the islands 
have been deserted: Skye, Raasay, the Long Island, where 
it still existed about 1830, Tyree, Rum, Mull, Colonsay, 
lona and Arran (where the last pair was shot in 1863), on 
all of which it once had harbourage, know it in its numbers 
no more. On a few islands of the Inner Hebrides, especially 
on I slay, and on the coast near the boundary of Ayrshire 
and Wigtownshire, it retains its last feeble hold in Scotland, 
but without generous protection its race in the northern 
kingdom is doomed, a result in great part due to the exertions 
of the game-preserver, and a penalty ill-becoming one of the 
most interesting of " vermin." 

Other creatures are slaughtered in immense numbers 
on account of their harmfulness, though the fact that many 
remain pests,- indicates that their numbers are not seriously 
on the wane. Most of the following belong to this category. 


Rats have been slain by the hundred thousand in Indian 
and American cities on account of the damage they do and 
of the bubonic plague which they carry; and in our own 
land single farms and country villages have on occasion 
accounted for many thousands of these notorious thieves. 
As, however, this aspect of its multiplication will be con- 
sidered in the discussion of the Rat's introduction to Scotland 
(see p. 431), the subject need not be more than mentioned 

The damage caused by Moles, since cultivation by in- 
creasing their food multiplied their numbers, must be great 
and their destruction by professional mole-catchers on a 
corresponding scale. I have no means of estimating the 
annual slaughter in Scotland, but Mr O. H. Wild tells me 
that in April 1918 he saw the dead bodies of some 750 
individuals hung along a hundred yards of fence at Aberlady 
railway station the result of three weeks' trapping on farms 
in the neighbourhood by a single mole-catcher. To this 
collection bodies were still being added at the rate of twenty- 
five a day. 

The Common Sparrow has been slain in its thousands 
on account of its devastation in cornfields and gardens. 
Sparrow Clubs have been formed in many districts, especially 
in England, for the reduction of the pest, and during the 
War the Government issued special orders for its destruc- 
tion. In three years the Tring Sparrow Club accounted for 
39,058 individuals; the Ixworth Sparrow Club slew 14,669 
in 1915, and the Slimford Rat and Sparrow Club killed in a 
few years 84,590 vermin and destroyed 17,201 Sparrow's 


Just as man has created the sparrow pest by the in- 
creasing perfection of his tillage, so in Scotland he has also 
created the hare and rabbit nuisance. Since the Rabbit 
escaped from the warrens to which it was introduced, and 
took to living wheresoe'er it pleased, and upon whatsoever 
of the farmer's crops it could most readily obtain, it has 


become an unmitigated pest, against which, in these days 
of increased demand for home-grown food, emergency 
legislation has done well to set its hand (see p. 215). 

3 The history of the Hare as a pest is of more than ordinary 
interest, because at common law the Hare is regarded as 
ground game, and as such was at one time protected so 
strictly that in 1707 the shooting of Hares by any person 
whatsoever was prohibited under a penalty of 20 pounds 
Scots. Such a law at so late a date can mean nothing else 
than that the Hare was an animal comparatively rare. The 
gradual development of the misdeeds of the Hare can be 
traced from successive statutes, which point to an extraor- 
dinary increase in numbers contemporaneous with the agri- 
cultural activity of the nineteenth century, which began about 
1837. The first law aimed against the Hare was passed in 
1848 and permitted "all Persons at present having a Right 
to kill Hares in Scotland, to do so themselves, or by Persons 
authorized by them, without being required to take out a 
Game Certificate." Judging from the statistics of the Dum- 
fries Fur Market (see Fig. 41, p. 167), this permission, 
coming at a time when agriculture was about to reach its 
highest development in the nineteenth century (1853 to 
1862), seems to have resulted in an intensified slaughter of 
Hares, which finally caused a falling off in the stock. Still 
the Hare remained a burden greater than the farmer could 
bear, and for his benefit there was passed in 1880 "in the 
interests of good husbandry" the Ground Game Act which 
gave the tenant equal rights with the proprietor to kill and 
take ground game on his holding. The immediate result of 
this breaching of the privileges of the Game Laws is in no 
doubt the Hare suffered so greatly in numbers that in the 
Lowlands of Scotland it was threatened with extinction, and 
over all, the slaughter was so excessive that in 1892 the 
Hares' Preservation Act was passed, granting the perse- 
cuted creature a measure of protection by instituting a close 
season from March till July. 



Other creatures, beginning their course innocent of 
serious evil, have, through excessive increase in numbers, 
developed into formidable pests. The Red Deer with the 
Rabbit and Hare have been the objects of emergency legis- 
lation during the years of the War (see pp. 212 and 215), 
and the Squirrel shares with them unenviable notoriety. In 
another place (p. 295) I have indicated the rapidity of the 
Squirrel's spread and multiplication in the northern counties, 
following upon its introduction at Beaufort Castle on the 
Beauly Firth in 1844, but of recent years its increase there 
has been phenomenal. The Highland Squirrel Club was 
formed in 1903 to counter the devastation wrought in the 
woods of eastern Ross-shire, part of Sutherland, and that 
portion of Inverness north of the Caledonian Canal. The 
results of its activities are astounding, when it is recollected 
that three-quarters of a century ago the Squirrel was un- 
known in the district. During the fifteen years up to the 
end of 1917, 60,450 Squirrels had been killed; in 1903 alone 
4640 were destroyed, in 1907 6628, and 1909 provided a 
record of 7199 individuals 1 . The price paid for tails by the 
Club varied from $d. to \d, 

With such nuisances no sympathy can be felt, although 
the destruction of Owls, which themselves are pest destroyers, 
and of Stoats and Weasels, which probably do almost as much 
good by their enmity to rats and mice as they do harm, is 
regrettable; but there is one so-called pest regarding the 
destruction of which the naturalist can have nothing but 
regret the little Dipper or Water Ouzel. 

1 On account of the interest of this warfare against the Squirrel in the 
North. I give the annual numbers of squirrels killed since the Club was 
started, from lists kindly sent me by Mr A. H. Duncan, the Secretary : 

1903 4,640 1907 6,628 1911 3)56 I 9 I 5 2,601 

1904 3,988 1908 3,197 1912 3,679 1916 2,692 

1905 3>43i i99 7,!99 I9 r 3 3.283 1917 3,998 

1906 4,007 1910 4,235 1914 3,816 


THE DIPPER OR WATER OUZEL (Cinclus clnclus] 

For years this lively little bird, whose presence brightens 
the stretches of many a dull stream and river, has been an 
object of persecution on the ground that it destroys the 
spawn of salmon and other fish. On the Spey the slaughter 
of a Water Ouzel during the fishing season used to be 
rewarded by bestowing upon the slayer the right to fish 
salmon with the rod during the close season an iniquitous 
provision which has dropped into desuetude, but not before 
the number of Dippers had been seriously reduced. On the 
Sutherland estates of the Duchess of Sutherland a reward 
of 6d. used to be paid for each Dipper slain, with the result 
that from March 1831 to March 1834 "548 King's Fishers" 
were slaughtered, "King Fisher" being a local name for 
the Water Ouzel; and for the six years between 1873 anc ^ 
1879 the vermin list of the Reay country, also in Sutherland, 
included "368 Water Ouzels." Regret at the slaughter of 
an interesting bird is intensified by the knowledge that its 
actual food is not so much the spawn of fishes as the larvae 
of dragon flies and water beetles, which themselves commit 
serious havoc among the spawning beds. A little knowledge 
of Natural History is a dangerous thing. 

It is no simple matter to reach an estimate of the influence 
of man upon the numbers of vermin and pests, but every 
dweller in the country and especially in game-preserving 
districts knows that the destruction is no light one. That 
the enemies of game, be they real or fancied, have been 
reduced below the standard which Nature sets, is shown by 
the unwonted increase of such "vermin" during the War 
years, when gamekeepers have been called from their wonted 
beats. Will the increase of the game-preserver's "vermin" 
affect some of the smaller pests ? Can there be any doubt 
that there is a close relationship between the decrease of the 
beasts and birds of prey and the increase of the creatures 
upon which they were accustomed to feed ? Has the game- 
preserver not been too ready to shoot and too reluctant to 
spare; has he not brought to earth such pest-destroyers 
as the Honey Buzzard, the Kestrel and the Owls, simply 
on the hearsay of a bad name? 


But new ideas of the value of a native fauna have taken 
root and already bear promising fruit. The success of a game- 
drive is not everything. There must be balanced against 
the bag of grouse and the head of pheasants and partridges, 
the majesty of the eagle's flight, the grace of the kestrel's 
hover, the lithe movements of the marten in the forest and 
of the ermine in the coverts. And who will say that the 
beauty of nature is to be filched from the countryside for the 
sake of the bag of game ? 

III. 5 

"The Scottes " wrote Holinshed, "sette all their delighte in hunting 
and fowling, using about the same to go armed in jackes and light iesternes 
with bowe and arrows, no otherwise than if it had been in open warre, for 
in this exercise they placed all the hope of the defence of their possessions, 
lands and liberties." 

FROM very early times the law, as well as the national taste, 
encouraged the chase in Scotland, and we should therefore 
expect to find here clear evidences of the effect of sport upon 
animal life. 

Destruction for sport is, however, less inimical to animal 
life on the whole than one might suppose, for over-destruc- 
tion must mean in the long run the death of the sport itself. 
Consequently the risk of over-destruction is modified by the 
introduction of various modes of protecting the animals 
hunted, a subject which I have discussed in another chapter. 
Yet, in spite of protection, sport has resulted in the decrease 
in numbers and even in the total or local extermination of 
some members of the fauna. 


The occurrence and the decline of the Wild Boar have 
already been mentioned (p. 89), and I would only recall 
that in spite of the fact that its chase was strictly preserved 
to the royal court and the great landed nobles, it was ex- 
terminated in Scotland probably in the early years of the 
seventeenth century. 


The Brock (Meles meles} has long been ranked with the 
Wolf as an object worthy of the chase. 

" Throuch thir woddis " Dalrymple translated Leslie, " the gretter parte 
of the nobilitie hes thair maist recreatione in hunting with the sluthe-hundes, 
for that, this recreatione hes our countrey men ather in the feildes to hunte 
the hair and the fox, or in the sandes and water brayes the Brok, or in the 
mountanis the Wolfe, or the Wilkatt." 

Yet the Badger seems to have maintained its ground 
with great persistence in spite of hunting and harrying, for 




even during the nineteenth century it was so common that 
many a parish had its " brockair " or brock-hunter, and in 
several counties it was even sought after for food, Badger 
hams being preserved for winter use. Dr Campbell wrote 
in 1774 that the Badger is 

hunted and destroyed whenever found ; and being by Nature an inactive 
and indolent Creature, is commonly fat, and therefore they make his hind 
Quarters into Hams in North Britain and Wales. 

In the Spectator of Sept. 29, 1917, a correspondent'gives 
many recipes for cooking the Badger, which are said to have 
been familiar to his mother as practised in the Outer 
Hebrides 1 . 

The sportsman, hunter, baiter and the ham factor must 
have reduced its numbers, but the Badger is a shy nocturnal 
creature whose earth is not always readily found. Indirectly 
rather than directly man has wrought its doom, for a great 
blow to its existence in Scotland seems to have fallen with 
the extension of cultivation in the latter half of the nine- 
teenth century, and especially with the feverish cutting of 
woodland and breaking in of waste ground which accom- 
panied the agricultural boom of the 'fifties and 'sixties. 
These processes destroyed many a safe refuge, and exposing 
the Badger to the attacks of man, exterminated it from many 
a district where it was once common. There is probably no 
county in Scotland where it is not much rarer nowadays 
than it was a century ago, and although at the present day 
it still occurs in the wilder parts of the Highlands, in the 
Lowlands it has become exceedingly scarce as a native of 
the soil, many of the examples now recorded being no more 
than escapes from confinement or their descendants. 


The history of the more important game creatures has 
been traced in the chapter dealing with their protection, and 
since the stringency of protection is a measure of the inten- 
sity of destruction, the account there given illustrates suffi- 
ciently the trend of the slaughter due to sport. 

1 While the recipes may be correct, the locality seems to be at fault, 
for, according to Alston and Harvie-Brown, Badgers are unknown in the 
Outer Hebrides. 


It must be remembered, however, that influences are 
complex and that while a widespread influence, like the 
destruction of woodland, was the main factor in causing the 
decline or extermination in Scotland of such as the Red 
Deer and the Reindeer, yet sport also contributed to their 
disappearance, for we have the evidence of the Orkneyinga 
Saga that even in the twelfth century journeys were made 
from distant parts expressly for the purpose of hunting the 
Red Deer and the Reindeer in the uplands of Caithness and 
Sutherland. The results of excessive sport have been shown 
nowhere more clearly than in the United States of America, 
where, before protecting laws had been introduced, the native 
carnivores, deer and game birds of many States had been 
brought to the verge of extinction. 

So also causes other than sport told hardly upon certain 
of the game creatures. The Great Bustard and the Bittern 
were chased and hunted and are exterminated, yet the evi- 
dence seems to show that sport had much less to do with their 
disappearance in Scotland than had the cultivation of waste 
places in the case of the former (see p. 366) and the reclama- 
tion of marshes in the case of the latter (see p. 374). Such 
at least I take to be the indication of the unsuccessful 
attempts to re-establish the Great Bustard in Britain, now 
that all question of active destruction is eliminated. 

The use of game birds as food further combined with 
the destruction of sport to accentuate the reduction of their 
numbers, witness the declaration of the Statute of 1600, 
heralding the imposition of new and heavier penalties against 
illegal dealing in* game one hundred pounds to be paid by 
both buyer and seller if they were "responsal in gudes," and 
if they were not that they be " scourged throw the burgh or 
town where they shall be apprehended." Regarding the 
profiteers of the seventeenth century, this Act alleges that 

diverse and sundry persons, having greater regard of their gaine and 
commodity whilk they purches by the selling of the said wyld-fowle to sik 
persons wha prefers their awne inordinat appetite and gluttony either to 
the obedience of the said lawes or to the recreation that may be had by 
the direct slaying of the samine, hes used all the saids indirect meanes in 
slaying of the saids wyld fowles and beastes, whereby this country being so 
plentifully furnished of before is become altogether scarce of sik waires 1 . 

1 My italics. 



Whether one ought to include the great slaughter of 
Ducks, Geese and Swans, which in earlier days and to a 
lesser extent to-day, is carried out by such murderous 
weapons as punt guns which still survive in Scotland in 
the Moray Firth and in the Solway as mainly destruction 
for food or as destruction for the sake of sport, I leave my 
readers to decide. In either case the result from the point 
of view of animal life is the same the reduction in number 
of the immigrant Ducks, Geese and Swans which seek tem- 
porary harbourage in our sheltered creeks. 

III. 6 


THERE is a type of animal slaughter, widespread in most 
countries, which has nothing of the spirit of sport, and is 
not animated by the utilitarian element that has led to 
most of man's destructiveness. It is notoriously exhibited 
in the yearly massacres of birds of gay plumage, in order 
that, at the behest of fashion, the human race may flaunt 
their stolen plumes. What this massacre means few can 
realize. In 1913, the last completed year before the War, 
there were offered in the London salerooms 12,850 oz. of 
" osprey " feathers, representing a slaughter of about 77,000 
individuals of the harmless heron-like Egrets (Ardea egretta 
and A. candidissima], as well as 19,125 Osprey wing quills; 
16,211 White Crane wing quills ; quills of Bustard, 10,800, 
and of Condor, 48,321 ; the skins of Emus, 1233, of White 
Terns, 5321, of Crowned Pigeons, 1 1,478, and of Smyrnian 
Kingfishers 162,750. 

The destruction for pleasure and luxury is no faddist's 
hallucination, and it pays no regard to the rarity, interest or 
usefulness of its quarry. 

In Scotland such revolting butchery as the tropical forests 
witness has had no place, yet in less obvious, but scarcely 
less deadly ways, the same craving after pleasure or luxury 
or possession has affected some of our native animals. Three 
types will illustrate the point the collector, the bird-catcher, 
and the pearl-fisher. 


It is regrettable, but necessary, that reference should 
have to be made to a type of destruction which has taken 
place under the guise of the study of Nature, the fruit of an 
inordinate desire for possession, which sets numbers before 
real' nature study. Yet we cannot close our eyes to the fact 


that the collector of specimens has caused or has hastened 
the extermination of several members of the old fauna. 

Upon the head of the entomologist lies the guilt of the 
extermination of the English "Large Copper" Butterfly 
(Chrysophanus dispar), whose head-quarters were in the 
Whittlesea Meer of Huntingdonshire. There persistent 
collecting of the caterpillars by persons young and old, 
abetted by an unusual flood, exterminated about 1850 a 
creature so abundant twenty years before that visitors who 
had seen it never dreamed of its extinction. 

The methods and occasional intensity of the entomolo- 
gist's pursuit are well illustrated in the case of the Artaxerxes 
Butterfly (now regarded as the variety artaxerxes of Polyom- 
matus agrestis], which was first discovered and described 
from Arthur's Seat near Edinburgh for long the only known 
locality. Here the Artaxerxes (Fig. 44) was so common that 
collectors flocked from all parts to plenish their collections, 
with the result that in 1844 it was said that "all the English 
cabinets and the principal foreign ones, are now abundantly 
supplied from that locality." But collecting did not stop when 
moderate demands had been met. Still collectors flocked to 
the crags above Duddingston Loch, as Mr William Evans 
has informed me, from the season's beginning to the season's 
end, not only capturing the butterfly on the wing, but 
collecting pupae and- caterpillars for subsequent develop- 
ment, and even plucking those leaves of the Rock Rose 
on which the eggs had been laid, towards the same end 
of stocking the collections of Europe and of the world with 
Artaxerxes when the imago appeared. The result of such 
persistence could have been in no doubt in the case of so 
local a form. The last specimen was found in 1868 Arta- 
xerxes was exterminated from its world-renowned home on 
Arthur's Seat. It was not due to the foresight of collectors 
that other localities in Scotland have since been discovered 
which carry on the tradition of the existence of the Artaxerxes 

Birds have suffered even more than Butterflies. The 
St Kilda Wren (Troglodytes hirtensis) was so persecuted 
after the discovery of the unique character of this inhabitant 
of the lonely island, that in a most destructive raid in the 
spring of 1903 it was believed, according to Sir Herbert 


Maxwell, that "every egg was taken on the principal island, 
and many of the parent birds were shot," to satisfy the brisk 
trade at high prices created by their rarity. So a special law 
had to be enacted in 1904, protecting it from the collector's 
gun and the nest-harrier. In England the extinction of 
other birds threatened by the increase of cultivation has 
been ensured by the zeal of the collector. Amongst such we 
may safely reckon the Red Night Reeler or Savi's Warbler 
(Locustella luscinioides] of Norfolk and Lincolnshire, ex- 
terminated about 1849, the Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa 
limosd] and the Black Tern (Hydrochelidon nigra) of the 

Fig. 44. Artaxerxes Butterfly (upper and under sides) exterminated on Arthur's Seat. 
Natural size. 

Norfolk Broads, the former of which finally disappeared 
between 1829 and 1835, and the latter in 1858. 

It is an unfortunate paradox, which must remain from 
the nature of the case, that just when the creatures he 
envies require protection most, the collector's enthusiasm 
rises and his efforts redouble. He seldom exterminates a 
species from the beginning, but when other causes have 
threatened the existence of a creature, he puts a seal upon 
its doom. It was only when the Kite became a rare bird 
that he turned his attention to it and its eggs, and now the 
most careful protection can scarcely outwit the fate he has 
decreed for its last British survivors in Wales. 


So too with the Osprey in Scotland. The brunt of its 
disappearance also must be borne by the collector; for even 
when it was reduced to a few pairs he harried its nest time 
and again, until one site after another was forsaken. The 
later history of the Loch-an-Eilan Ospreys in -Inverness- 
shire is a tale of ruthless persecution. There are many 
blanks in the records, but it is surprising that where the 

Fig- 45- Osprey or Fish Hawk practically exterminated in Scotland, f nat. size. 

Ospreys were actively protected by the proprietor, and 
where secrecy was a first aim of the harrier, so many of the 
records which have survived should reveal the latter's nefari- 
ous deeds. In each of the successive years 1848, 1849, 1850, 
1851 and 1852, the eggs were taken, and in the latter year 
the nest was twice harried. Is it any wonder that in the 
following year the Ospreys forsook for the time being their 
old site in the Loch? 

Wherever the birds sought harbourage, whether they 


moved to Loch Morlich or Loch Gamhna, the egg-stealer 
pursued them. From 1843 to 1899, when the last pair built 
at Loch-an-Eilan (although individuals were seen up to 1902), 
there are definite records that the Ospreys nested in twenty- 
four years in that or the other two Lochs mentioned, and there 
are records as definite that the nests were harried and the 
eggs taken on fifteen occasions! The wonder surely is that the 
Speyside Ospreys survived this heartless persecution so long. 


The barbarous habit of keeping wild birds in cages for 
the beauty of their plumage or the sweetness of their song 
must also be pilloried from the point of view of interest in 
our native fauna. The toll taken by professional bird- 
catchers is common knowledge to the frequenter of bird- 
shops, but it is perhaps not realized how seriously their 
depredations affect the numbers of certain kinds of wild birds. 
It is supposed that in recent years bird-catching has been 
on the decrease, but the lists of cases tried in court and re- 
sulting in proof of guilt, show that the practice is still very 
common, and the numbers of bird-catchers who escape the 
law, as the naturalist who is familiar with favoured bird re- 
sorts in Scotland knows, is out of all proportion greater than 
the numbers convicted. 

Take only one or two cases in illustration of the results 
of this trade in living flesh and blood. It is on record that 
in January 1895, when a late migration brought great num- 
bers of Twites, Linnets, and Red-polls to the shores of 
eastern England, one bird-catcher netted, in four successive 
days, 70, 130, 220, and 330 Linnets. And in the winter 
of 1900 another expert caught 140 Siskins one morning 
before breakfast, on a decayed lettuce patch. In recent 
years the London market has considered a supply of 400 
dozen Linnets a week in October a small average, and 600 
dozen has been reached. 

The case of the Goldfinch is even more pitiful. These 
graceful and beautiful birds frequent, in flocks, patches of 
teazle or thistles, and remain attached to a patch until all 
the food afforded by the seed-heads has been consumed. It 
is a practice of some bird-catchers to plant teazle in their 


gardens for the sole purpose of attracting Goldfinches, and 
of capturing one bird after another until the constancy of 
the flock is rewarded by its total extinction. In 1860, the 
annual average of Goldfinches caught in the neighbourhood 
of Worthing is said to have been 1 1 54 dozen, but the supply 
and how can one wonder has fallen off, and to replace 
it Goldfinches have been imported in large numbers from 

The pity of it all is that not only are the birds removed 
from surroundings and localities they would adorn with their 
wild grace and beauty, but that the cost of the process in 
bird life is so appalling, for the female birds are in many 
cases killed as they are netted, since they do not sing, and 
of birds consigned to the market, fewer than half live even 
to delight the ears and eyes of man, since it is said that 
60 per cent, die miserably within a fortnight after they have 
traversed the short distance between the bird-catcher and 
the trader of the bird-shop. 


As a last example of the influence of fashionable pleasure 
upon Scottish animals, take the case of the insignificant 
Freshwater Pearl Mussel {Margaritifera margaritifer). 
Through many centuries the fame of British pearls has spread 
beyond the limits of our islands, for Suetonius alleges that 
the hope of enriching himself with them helped to induce 
Julius Caesar to venture across the Channel; and in the 
times of the Venerable Bede (673-735) tnev were a va lu- 
able British commodity. In the twelfth century there was 
a European market for Scottish pearls, and in the sixteenth 
Bishop Leslie says of them : 

in Laudien Land [the Lothians] farther, and lykewyse in vthir prouinces 
with ws ar funde Gemis, wit... the Margarite in gret number... the 
Margarite is baith welthie {lit. abundant] and of a noble price. Thay in- 
deid schawe a schyneng brichtnes, notwithstanding mair obscuir than thay 
quhilkes ar brocht in frome the Eist. In freshe water buckies nocht 
pleisand to the mouth, na lesse than in salt water buckies growis the 

In 1560 "large handsome pearls" were exported from Scot- 
land to Antwerp, and in 1620 there was found in the Kelly 
Burn, a tributary of the Ythan in Aberdeenshire, a fine pearl 


which was carried to King James VI by the Provost of Aber- 
deen, and became one of the Crown jewels. The Provost 
was rewarded for his trouble by being presented with "twelve 
to fourteen chalder of victuals about Dunfermline, and the 
Customs of Merchant's goods in Aberdeen during his life "; 
the pearl-fishers were rewarded by an order of the Privy 
Council passed in 1621, proclaiming that Pearls found within 
the Realm belonged to the Crown, and appointing conser- 
vators of pearl-fisheries in several counties, including Aber- 
deen, Ross and Sutherland. The Aberdeenshire conservator 
was specially commended in that "he hath not only taken 
diverse pearls of good value, but hath found some in waters 
where none were expected." 

The Scottish pearl-fishery caused an appreciable reduc- 
tion of Pearl-mussels in the rivers. In his ''Tour" (1771) 
Pennant records of the Tay and Isla that 

there has been in these parts a very great fishery of pearls got out of fresh 
water muscles. From 1761 to 1764, ; 10,000 worth were sent to London and 
sold from los. to i. 6s. per ounce.... But this fishery is at present exhausted, 
for the avarice of the undertakers. It once extended as far as Loch Tay. 

The destruction of the Pearl-mussel brought to an end 
for the time being the pearl-fisheries of Scotland; and they 
were not revived till about 1 860, when a German merchant, 
Moritz Unger, travelled through Ayrshire, Perthshire, and 
Aberdeenshire, buying up-all the pearls that could be found. 
With the valuable stock he then acquired, he reawakened 
the demand for Scottish pearls, and created afresh the pearl- 
fishing industry. I have often spoken with an old fisher on 
the Don in Aberdeenshire, who, first encouraged by Unger 
and later by two other traders, Selig and Aaron, spent 
the summer, year after year, when the river was at its 
lowest, " at the pearls." The prices paid by these itinerant 
pearl- dealers ranged from $s. to js. a grain. Now, owing 
to its rarity as well as to the increased appreciation of the 
liquid beauty of the Scottish pearl, the value has reached 
from i to 10 a grain, according to quality and size. A 
small collection of half a dozen Tay pearls bought for the 
Royal Scottish Museum from Unger in 1859 for 12 is to- 
day valued at over ^50. 

The result of the new demand was that the more acces- 
sible shallows of pearl rivers were soon denuded of their 



Mussels, for the methods employed were of the most ruthless 
kind, all the Mussels found being opened and destroyed on 
the chance that a pearl might lurk within. The shallows 
have become almost entirely unproductive, and of recent 
years attention has been turned to the deeper waters. 
The climax of destruction was reached in 1913, when 
two bands of fishers set out with motor bicycles and col- 
lapsible boats, and, touring the country, harried rivers far 
and near. The financial result repaid their exertions: one 
large and fine pearl obtained was valued at ^300, and the 
total proceeds covered the cost of bicycles and transport and 
secured an ample margin of profit. But the outcome is that 
many a river and burn has been almost cleared of its Pearl- 
mussels. A few such raids and the famous Pearl-mussels of 
Scotland, already sadly reduced in numbers, will be almost 
exterminated and the Scottish pearl-fishery doomed. 


To birds man gives his woods, 
To beasts his pastures, and to fish his floods. 
For some his int'rest prompts him to provide, 
For more his pleasure, yet for more his pride. 


IT is fitting that an account of man's destructiveness in the 
realm of animal life should be followed by the kindlier 
theme of his protection of the lower creatures, for the two are 
inseparably united. In the world of living things, as in our 
physical environment, the natural law holds, that every action 
produces an equal and opposite reaction; and so destruction 
of one animal as a rule entails the protection of another, 
just as protection of one species involves the destruction of 
its enemies. The sportsman aims at protecting his game, 
and, as we have seen, reaches his end by destroying the 
beasts and birds of prey; but his action is more comprehen- 
sive than his intention, for he protects not only the objects 
of his sport, but the myriads of smaller vermin which also 
contribute to the food of the creatures he destroys. 

It is less my intention to discuss here, however, such 
undesigned results of the protection of animal life than to trace 
the more direct consequences which have followed upon a 
deliberate policy of protection. These direct consequences, 
it need hardly be said, are as a rule, an increase in numbers of 
the creatures concerned, and frequently an extension of their 
range to new areas. They may involve so great a multiplica- 
tion of animals desirable from one point of view, say that of 
the sportsman, that from another point of view, say that of 
the farmer, the protected creature becomes a nuisance, and 
protection has to give way to destruction. But in most 
cases protection does little more than preserve its sheltered 
favourites in numbers approximating to their natural pro- 
portion in the fauna: it does little more than compensate 
for the destructiveness of man. 


Broadly speaking three influences tend to foster animal 
life: the premeditated protection of the law, the gentle sway 
of popular favour, and the solicitude bred of superstition. 
Of these the first has proved to be the most potent. 


In Scotland, as elsewhere in countries long settled by 
man, protective legislation on behalf of animals has been 
a matter of much experiment, and of a slow and gradual 
evolution which has progressed step by step with the advance 
of political and social ideals. Indeed the laws relating to 
animals were for long entirely social in their bearing, and 
had as little thought for the animals themselves as they had 
much concern for their assumed lords and masters. The 
development of a practical love for nature is a national 
acquisition of very recent date. 

So we find three broad but distinct stages in the evolution 
of protective legislation. At first the king only and his nobles 
were the principals concerned, and the laws ^ere feudal laws, 
the main object of which was to ensure the entertainment of 
the Court. So arose the Game Laws that great bulk of 
legislation regulating the preservation of sport animals. With 
the decay of feudalism and the extension of power amongst 
the landed classes, the great lairds and lesser lairds came to 
be included in the magic circle for whose benefit the Game 
Laws exist. 

Further, with the decay of feudalism and the growing 
importance of the economic aspect of the country's welfare, 
a second class of law arose that regulating the protection 
of animals whose significance lay in their economic value. 

And lastly, only in recent times, there arose, with the 
spread of power amongst the people at large and the develop- 
ment of a democratic instinct, laws which endeavour to pre- 
serve the rarity and beauty of the countryside for the people 
the beginnings of an aesthetic code. 

The influence on Scottish animal life of these various 
bodies of law, protecting creatures for the sake of sport, for 
utility, or for aesthetic reasons, can best be shown by a 
discussion of the bearing and scope of each, and this is 
attempted in the following three sections. 

IV. i 


THE sport of hawking and the possession of hawks were 
recognized from early times in Britain as badges of nobility. 
So significant was the presence of trained hawks that 
members of the Court and the nobles seldom rode without 
them, and seldom dispensed with them on their travels or 
even on the field of battle, where the surrender of a hawk 
was accounted the surrender of honour. It is little wonder, 
then, that from early times care was given to the preserva- 
tion and rearing of hawks. Tradition goes to show that even 
during the period of the raids of the Norsemen, about the 
tenth century, hawking was practised by the noblemen of 
Scotland ; but the earliest historical reference to protection 
occurs in the reign of William the Lion (1165-1214), 
when Robert of Avenel, in granting his lands in Eskdale to 
the Abbey of Melrose, reserved the right to the eyries of 
Falcons, and to tercels or male hawks. Even the tree whereon 
a hawk had built in one year was safe from the axe of the 
woodsman, until succeeding years made clear that it had 
been deserted as a nesting site, a wise provision depending 
upon an intimate knowledge of the limited choice of sites 
available for a hawk's nest and nest flight. Similar reserva- 
tions hedged about the eyries on estates in Ayrshire granted 
about the same time to the same Abbey by the Stewarts. 

In the thirteenth century hawking was a recognized 
privilege of the Court, and Alexander 1 1 1 kept Falcons at 
Forres and at Dunipace in Stirlingshire, and in 1263, so the 
accounts of the year show, paid for eight and a half chalders 
of corn consumed by William de Hamyl during his twenty- 
nine weeks' stay at Forfar with the Kings' Falcons. King 
Robert the Bruce had his falcon-house at Cardross in Dum- 
bartonshire repaired shortly before his death, and in 1 343 his 
successor, David 1 1, granted to John of the Isles many islands 
and lands " cum aeriis falcomim" About this time the 


names of both Goshawks and Sparrowhawks appear in the 
public accounts, but from the fifteenth century onwards 
fashion tended to make the Peregrine Falcon the hawk /#r 

During the reign of James III, the law macle the pro- 
tection of hawks general, ordaining in 1474 that no one 
should take trained or wild hawks or their eggs without leave 
of the owner of the ground. 

It was probably owing to the careful protection enforced 
on account of hawking, that birds of prey, including even the 
Goshawk, which has long ceased to breed in Britain, were 
common in Scotland in the sixteenth century, for Hector 
Boece tells us that "of fowlis, sic as leiffis of reif [live by 
rapine] ar sindry kindis in Scotland, as ernis [eagles], falconis, 
goishalkis, sparhalkis, merlyonis, and sik like fowlis." They 
appear to have been widely distributed, for Rogers mentions 
that "in 1496 the King's falconers were recompensed for 
procuring hawks in the Forest of Athole also in Orkney and 
Shetland." Hawks, and it is evident that the Peregrine, 
now a somewhat rare breeder in Scotland, is the bird referred 
to, had their eyries at the Abbey Crag near Stirling, 
and also upon a summit of the Ochils, where the birds 
were preserved. But the most remarkable Falcons were 
obtained in the northern counties. Falcons from the eyries 
of Caithness were sent by James V as gifts to the King of 
France, to the Dauphin, and to the Duke of Guise. The 
extraordinary value which attached to well-trained birds must 
also have tended to keep the breeding-places under strict 
protection. It is on record that James IV paid ,189 to 
the Earl of Angus for a single bird, and that in the reign of 
James VI, a pair of Falcons were valued at ^1000. 

Through many centuries Orkney and Shetland were 
specially favoured in the quality of their Peregrines, of which 
frequent mention is made in old charters and deeds. When, 
in 1 539, the "Channonis of the Cathedrall Kyrk of Orknaye, 
under ane reverend fader in God Robert be the mercye of 
God bischop of Orknaye and Zetland" made a deed of "all 
and haill our lands lyand in Zetland" in favour of "our weil 
belovit brothir and freynd Schyr David Fallusdell," they 
specifically included the "halkings and huntings." In the 
following century it was stipulated that Sir John Buchanan, 


to whom the Lordship of the Orkneys and Shetlands was 
granted by Charles I, should pay .235. 13*. 4 rf. Scots a year 
to his Majesty's falconers "for thair chairgis in vplifting his 
Majesties haulks thair yeirlie"; and even in the beginning 
of the eighteenth century, Brand records that 

Fig. 46. Peregrine Falcon formerly protected for hawking. \ nat. size. 

the King's Falconer used to go every" year to the Isles [Orkney and 
Shetland], taking the young Hawks and Falcons to breed, and every 
House in the Country is obliged to give him a Hen or a Dog, except such 
as are exempted, 

these perquisites being originally designed for the main- 
tenance of the King's hawks. Still later, in 1/07, the Scots 
Parliament in making a grant of the lands of Orkney and 
Zetland, reserved the hawks and the falconers' salaries as 
pertaining to the crown. 

The greatness of the effort made in Scotland to preserve 


hawks, and this as a rule meant the Peregrine and the 
Sparrovvhawk, may be judged from a Statute passed in 
1621 which raised the "unlaw" or fine for stealing a hawk 
from 10 to ^100, and another which, in 1685, condemned 
the stealer of a hawk from nest or eyrie or of a Vervel (the 
equivalent of a modern marking ring) from a hawk, to a fine 
of 500 merks. 

Yet even with all the protection afforded them, it is doubt- 
ful if hawks did much more than remain stationary in numbers 
in these favoured times, for it is well known that each pair 
reserves for its hunting a patrol area, within which no other 
pair can breed, and suitable breeding places, especially 
for Peregrines, are limited in number. So long ago as the 
twelfth century, Giraldus Cambrensis observed that, in spite 
of the care taken of the breeding places of Falcons and 
Sparrowhawks in Ireland, their nests did not become more 
numerous and their numbers did not increase. Doubtless 
the same was also true of Scotland. 

The decay of the noble sport of hawking and the rise of 
modern game-preserving have reversed the judgments of old, 
and the birds which were once preserved to supply man's 
sport, are now destroyed lest his sport should be interfered 


The institution of hawking entailed the protection of the 
wild birds that formed the objects of the chase. This protec- 
tion was, as a rule, an absolute protection, unlike most of the 
regulations that refer to game valued mainly as food, in which 
case protection during part of the year was thought suf- 
ficient. There is further evidence of the stringency of the 
protection in the severity of the penalties imposed, as befitted 
measures providing for the amusement of the highest in the 

As early as 1493 the Heron, "royal game," was placed 
under the law for three years, and persons protecting it 
for the King's pleasure were to be rewarded. In 1551 in 
order to preserve the sport of hawking, killing game with 
guns was prohibited under pain of death, and no one was 
allowed to kill game for three years, except gentlemen with 
hawks. In later years the extreme penalty was modified, 


for in 1567 the offender who slew, with gun or bow, Herons 
or "fowls of the revar" was to forfeit his moveable goods, 
and, if he were a vagabond, to be imprisoned for 40 days 
for a first offence, and for a second to have his right hand 
cut off; although at a still later date a third offence could be 
expiated only by hanging to the death. 

The most complete list of the "wylde foulys" which 
hawking brought under protection appears in an interesting 
Statute of James VI passed in 1600, which specifies 

partridges, moore-fowles 1 , black-cokes, aithehenis 2 , termigants 3 , wyld-dukes, 
teillis 4 , atteils 5 , goldings 6 , mortyms 7 , schidderenis 8 , skaildraikes 9 , herron, 
butter 10 or any sik kynde of fowles commonly used to be chased with 

Woodcocks, Plovers and Wild Geese were specially excepted. 
The attempt at protection in the case of the birds mentioned 
was exceptionally thorough, for not only was the offender 
who shot at the birds liable to a fine of ^"100, but the buyer 
or seller of any of them was held equal in guilt. 

So we leave consideration of special laws, which, though 
primarily intended for the benefit of the Court, could not but 
have had a beneficial effect upon the wild fauna of the 
country, and pass to a short discussion of the legislation re- 
lating to "wylde foulys" in general. 


The greater number of the sporting wild-fowl of Scotland 
is included in the prohibition of 1600 just quoted, which 
was specially designed to encourage the sport of hawking, 
and which reminds us that 

by the common consuetude of all countries, special prohibition is made to 
all sorts of persons to slay wild fowl, hare, or venison.../';? respect the samine 
as well has been created for the recreation of mankinde as for their susten- 

Yet a study of the old Scots law leads me to think that a 
broad distinction was drawn between preservation for sport 

1 Grouse. 2 Grey-hens. 3 Ptarmigan. 4 Teal. 

5 Probably the Wigeon. 6 Perhaps the Golden-eye Duck. 

7 Supposed to be Martins. 

8 Also " schiwerines " and "schildernes," i.e. shield-nosed, probably 
Spatula clypeata, the Shoveller or "Spoonbill" Duck. 

9 Sheldrakes. 10 Bittern. " My italics. 


royal and general wild-fowl protection. In the former case, 
the protection was, as might be expected, an absolute protec- 
tion enforced by the severest penalties, while in the latter, 
less stringent measures were considered sufficient. These 
measures took different forms, and seem to have been graded 
according to the scarcity or otherwise of particular birds at 
particular periods. 

At one time nests were protected, and the eggs of 
Partridges or Wild Ducks were forbidden to be taken, under 
a penalty of 40^. (1474). At another time the young birds, 
"pouts" of Partridges or of Moor-fowl (Grouse), were exempt 
from destruction (1599, 1600, 1685), or the old birds were to 
be spared during the moulting season (1457). But perhaps 
the method most frequently adopted was that now universal in 
the case of game birds, the fixing of definite "close seasons," 
when wild-fowl could neither be killed, sold, bought or eaten 
without incurring penalties of various degree, from a paltry 
40.?. to a prohibitive fine of ^100. 

It is hard to estimate the actual effect of these measures 
upon the numbers of wild-fowl, but the constant repetition 
of the old, and the appearance of new laws throughout 
the centuries, leads one to suspect that the Statutes were 
honoured as much in the breach as in the observance. Even 
after two centuries and more of legal protection, Moor- 
fowls or Grouse, a Statute of 1682 states, were so much 
destroyed that there was fear of their total decay, and they 
were accordingly prohibited from being bought or sold for 
seven years under a penalty of ^100 to be incurred as well 
by the buyer as the seller. Recourse was again had to this ex- 
pedient a few years later when, owing to Moor-fowls being so 
"decayed, "they were in 1698 absolutely protected for another 
seven years. Nevertheless, if in spite of their general 
inefficiency, the laws saved some of the birds of the moors 
and marshes from the sorry fate of extinction which overtook 
the Bittern and the Bustard in Scotland, they did good 
service on behalf of our native fauna. 


The measures adopted in more recent times for the, 
protection of game birds in Scotland differ in one important 
respect from those of early days. Formerly the wildness of 


an animal was a guarantee of its freedom from proprietary 
rights it was no man's beast until it was slain. Only "royal 
game" was reserved for the king. But the development of 
a fresh body of legislation had the effect of vesting property 
in wild animals in the owner of the land on which they were 
found. This important restriction of the common rights was 
carried out by means of laws actually restricting, through 
licences, the right of killing and selling "game" and by 
others, such as the Night Poaching Act of George IV and 
the Day "Poaching Act of William IV, making trespass, in 
itself merely a civil misdemeanour, a criminal offence to be 
expiated by heavy penalties. In other respects the mode 
of protection nowadays is similar in nature to one formerly 
adopted the institution of definite "close seasons," during 
which particular birds may not be shot. 

The variety of birds protected by these measures is 
somewhat less than in the days of Scotland's independence, 
for "game birds" are variously defined as "partridges, 
pheasants, muirfowl, tarmagans, heathfowl, snipes and quails" 
(13 Geo. Ill), and as "pheasants, partridges, grouse, heath 
or muir game, black game, and bustards" (9 Geo. IV), 
although in addition to "game," "woodcocks, snipes, quails, 
landrails, wild ducks, and conies" are protected in the Day 
Poaching Act of 1832. 

The effect upon the fauna of Scotland of these statutes 
has been very great, for the practical granting of proprietary 
rights in game birds, has led to a great increase in the 
numbers of the more favoured species. Pheasants, imported 
aliens (see p. 264), have been reared with the greatest care 
and at enormous expense, Partridges have been encouraged 
by the strictest preservation, and Grouse and Black-game 
have had enormous tracts of country set apart for their use. 
So that in most places where they are found, these species 
occur in numbers beyond their natural proportion .in 'the 
native fauna, for in addition to protection from man, they 
have benefited by the deliberate destruction of beasts and 
birds of prey their natural enemies. 

The result of the preservation of game birds has 
been strikingly shown in the course of the War. In the 
absence of the annual battues on the extensive scale of 
pre-war days, the birds have so increased in number as to 


become a serious nuisance to farmers and a menace to 
home-grown food supplies, and to cause special measures 
to be taken for their destruction under the Defence of the 
Realm Regulations, "with a view to preventing or reducing 
injuries to crops by game birds" (27 February, 1917). 

As it is difficult to indicate, except in general terms, the 
effects of the Game Laws upon the numbers of the protected 
in Scotland, I may be excused for turning to an American 
source for a statistical account of the effects of game legisla- 
tion, especially as the instance in question has the merit of 
illustrating the differences in method between the slowly 
evolved empirical laws of an old country and the scientifi- 
cally based laws of a new. In 1906, according to Mr J. B. 
Burnham, in Monroe County, New York, game of all kinds 
had become so scarce that sportsmen had abandoned shoot- 
ing. During the six years prior to 1904, 135 Chinese Ring- 
necked Pheasants were distributed for stocking purposes, and 
the shooting of them was totally prohibited. In 1908 they 
had so increased in numbers that a short shooting season 
was opened, but for cock birds only. Since that time, till the 
present day, shooting has gone on annually, and in some 
years more than 6000 Pheasants have been killed. Yet. 
owing to the protection of hens, the supply is still increasing 
at a great rate, and sportsmen are attracted to the county in 
great numbers and from long distances. 

Apart from the direct and apparent results of the pro- 
tection of game birds, there are more subtle but not less 
important effects which follow in chains of circumstances. 
Pheasants and Partridges, Black-game and the young of 
Grouse are largely insect-eaters, and as such, benefit their 
protectors to no small degree the crop of an Argyllshire 
Pheasant has been found by Mr P. H. Grimshaw to contain 
close on 2800 recognizable insects the staple food at the 
time having been a Two-winged Fly, Bibio lepidus (the 
maggots of which live in the ground upon roots of plants), 
2286 specimens, and the Heather Beetle, Lochmcea sutu- 
ra/zs, 508 specimens. Black-game also are formidable 
enemies of the latter insect, the grubs of which destroy 
annually hundreds if not thousands of acres of heather. 
Much more subtle are the connecting links in the series of 
events which, through the protection of Pheasants and the 


consequent encouraging of Black-headed Gulls in order that 
their eggs might supply the game-birds with food, led to the 
alteration of a local flora, and the replacement of the old by 
a new association of animals. To this interesting succession 
of results more detailed reference will be made elsewhere 
(see p. 501). 


"The Scottes," said Holinshed, "sette all their delighte 
in hunting and fowling"; so it came to be that, as the 
numbers of wild animals diminished, the beasts of the chase 
fell under a system of protective laws as strict as those which 
governed the fowling quarry. Chief of the hunted was the 
Red Deer: 

The best of chase, the tall and lusty Red, 

The stag for goodly shape and statelinesse of head, 

Is fitt'st to hunt at force. 

It is not too much to say that but for the care which has 
been taken of it by the law, the Red Deer in Scotland would 
probably long ere now have followed to extinction the 
Scottish Reindeer and the Elk. 

The system of protection dates from a very early period, 
for in former days the Red Deer was royal game, "inter 
regalia'' and could be hunted only by the King himself or by 
those to whom he had given a grant of forestry. Yet in the 
Fragmenta Collecta of Scottish law, of uncertain date, a 
curious rule is made for deciding property in Deer: Deer 
were to be regarded as wild by nature, but in forests they 
were "thine as long as they have a desire to come to thee, 
and when they have no desire to come again they are not 


It is interesting to note how frequently from the eleventh 
down to the sixteenth century the nobles of Scotland 
pursued the Red Deer in areas whence they have long since 
disappeared. David I (1124-1 153) had a hunting house at 
Crail in Eastern Fifeshire; Walter the Stewart, in found- 
ing the Abbey of Paisley in 1 160, granted the monks a tithe 
of his hunting, with the skins of the deer slain in his forest of 
Ferenze in Renfrewshire. Robert the Bruce (1306-1329) 
was repeatedly baulked by a white deer which he started 


among the Pentland Hills; and in a charter of 1328 he 
conferred on the monks of Newbattle an annual donation 
of five harts at the feast of St Cuthbert's Translation, to 
be taken from his forest of Selkirk. There, too, Bruce's 
successor, David II, hunted; in 1330, his Chamberlain 
paid 245-. for "a chalder of large salt for salting the king's 
venison at Selkirk," and in the following year, 165. for salt 
for the venison at Ettrick Forest. In 1334 David renewed 
the grant made by his father to the Priory of Newbattle. 

The history of the Red Deer in the Lowlands is carried 
down to the sixteenth century by Lindsay of Pitscottie who 
records that 

the second day of June the King [James V, the year being 1528] passed 
out of Edinburgh to the hunting with many of the Nobles and Gentlemen 
of Scotland with him to the number of twelve thousand Men ; and then 
past to Meggitland, Crammat, Popert Law, St Mary's Laws, Carlaverick, 
Chapel, Ewindoores, and Longhope. I heard say he slew in these Bounds, 
eighteen score of Harts. 

Although deer were evidently still plentiful in 1528, by 
the middle of the century constant slaughter and, more 
important, the development of farming and of the practice 
of pasturing upon the Lowland hills large flocks of sheep, 
sometimes ten thousand in number, as Bishop Leslie tells 
us, led to such a decrease in the numbers of Red Deer that 
vigorous efforts were made to protect the relics of the herds. 
In 1551 in the reign of Queen Mary, a Statute was passed 
complaining that "deare, rae, or uther wild beasts and wild 
fowles are clean exiled and banished by schutting with 
half-hag, culvering, and pistolet," and enjoining "that nane 
of our soveraine ladies lieges, of quhatsumever degree hee 
be of, take upon hande to schutte" at these animals "under 
the paine of death and confiscation of all their gudes for 
their contemplation." Notwithstanding, no measure could 
check the downward way of the lowland Red Deer, and 
with the troubles and lawless years of the seventeenth 
century, and the steady growth of agriculture, they were 
finally banished from the uplands and forests of southern 


From a general point of view the modes adopted by 
Scots law in protecting deer range round several well 


recognized expedients. In the first place deer were not to 
be slain but by properly qualified persons: in the earliest 
days by the King and his Court, or by persons to whom he 
had deputed or granted rights of forestry ; in later days by 
the great landowners on whose ground the deer roamed, 
for no one dare slay "Deare or Raes in utheris closes or 
Parkes....but [except with] special licence of the owners, 
under the paine of dittay [criminal prosecution], and to be 
punished as thieft" (1474). The "unlaw" or fine for such 
misdemeanour, at first "X punds," was raised in 1579 to 
"ten pundes" for a first offence, "twentie pundes" for a 
second, and "fourtie pundes" for a third, but if the wrong- 
doer was "not responsall in guddes," he was to "be put in 
the stokkes, prison or irones auct [eight] dayes on bread and 
water" for the first fault, "fifteene dayes" for the second, 
and for the third was to suffer "hanging to the death." 

In the second place, since deer were preserved for 
hunting, and hunting in the early days meant the "clamorous 
hunt" with trained deer-hounds, all other methods were 
prohibited, such as shooting or slaying with such noxious 
inventions as "hag buttes [arquebus], hand gunnes, croce 
bowes and pistolettes, and taking of them with girnes 
[snares] and nettes" (1597 and earlier Acts). 

In the third place, deer were not to be slain until they 
were able to take care of themselves, for it was provided in 
1474, "that na man slaie onie of their Kiddes quhill [i.e. until] 
they be ane yeir auld, under the paine of X punds. And it 
to be a point of dittay." 

In the fourth place, a sort of "close season" (instituted 
in 1400) was confirmed by the Act of 1474, since it was 
ordained "that na man slaie Daes nor Raes, nor Deare in 
time of storme or snaw.... under the paine of X punds." 

And lastly a kind of total prohibition was tried, for 
Parliament ruled that from June 1682 venison be not bought 
or sold for seven years. 


The importance attached to the protection of these 
objects of the chase and the great efforts made to preserve 
them, may be judged from the fact that, in the sixteenth 
century alone, no fewer than eleven Acts are concerned with 

R. 14 


the penalties prescribed for illegal slaughter of deer. That 
these laws effected an increase of deer in suitable localities, 
such as the Highlands of Scotland, there can be little doubt, 
judging by the numbers seen and slain in some^of the great 
hunts of former times. Take for example that famous hunt, 
in the summer of 1529, when King James V "togidder with 
his mother and ane ambassadour of the Paipis [Pope's] wha 
was in Scotland for the tyme, went all togidder to Atholl to 
the huntis." The quaint description by Lindsay of Pitscottie 
may be quoted, as much to show the pomp and circumstance 
which attached to a royal hunt as to illustrate the significance 
set upon the protection of deer, and the efficiency of legal 

Preparations for the hunt were made long in advance, 
armies of beaters being sent to the hills, weeks or even 
months before the date of the final massacre. During the 
intervening time the beaters concentrated from all quarters 
upon the place chosen for the last act, driving before them the 
herds of deer from valley and mountain. To the rendezvous 
the King was conducted and housed in state; but let Pit- 
scottie carry on the narrative in his own inimitable language. 

This noble Earl of Atholl caused mak ane curious pallace to the King, 
his mother, and the ambassadour, quhairby they were als weill eased as if 
they had been in ony pallace either of Scotland or England, and equivalent 
for the tyme of thair hunting ; quhilk was biggit in the midle of ane greine 
meadow, and the wallis thereof was of greine timber, wovin with birkis, 
and biggit in four quarteris, as if it had been ane pallace, and in everie 
quarter ane round lik ane block-house, quhilkis was loftit and jeasted thrie 
hous hicht ; the floore was laid with grein earthe, and strowed with sick 
floures as grew in the meadow, that no man knew quhairon he yead, bot 
as he had beine in ane greine gardeine. Fardder, thair was tuo great 
roundis on everie syd of the yett, and ane great portcullis of trie falling 
down, as if it had beine ane barrace yett, with ane gritt draw bridge, and 
ane foussie of sixteine fute deip, and thrittie fute broad, of watter. This 
pallace was hung with fyne tapestrie within, and weill lighted in all necessair 
pairts with glassin windowis. 

The king was verrie weill entertained in this wildernes the space of 
three dayes with all sick delicious and sumptuous meattis as was to be 
hade in Scotland, for fleschis, fischis and all kindis of fyne wyne and spycis 
requisit for ane Prince. Fardder, thair was no fischis that could leive in 
fresh waiters but war thair swimming in the foussie about the pallace. It 
is said by the space of thir three dayes that his Grace was thair, the Earle 
of Atholl was everie day ane thousand pundis of expenss. This Pope's 
ambassadour, sieing so great ane triumph in ane wildernes quhair their 
was no toun neir be twentie myllis, he thought it ane great marvell that 


sich ane thing sould be in Scotland, that is, so court-lyk and delicious 
entertainment in the Highlandis of Scotland, quhair he saw nothing hot 
woodis and wildernes. Bot, most of all, this ambassadour, when the King 
was cuming back from the huritis, marvelled to sie the Highlanderis sett all 
this pallace on fire that the King and the ambassadour might sie it. Then 
the ambassadour said to the King, I marvell Sir yea latt burne yon pallace 
quhair yea war so weill eased. The King answered, 'It is the use of our 
Highland men that they be nevir so weill lodged all the night, they will 
burne the same on the morne.' This being done, the King returned to 
Dunkell that night, and on the morne to St Johnstoun. It is said at this 
tyme, in Atholl and Stratherdaill boundis, thair was slaine threttie scoir 
[600] of hart and hynd, with other small beastis, sick as roe and roe-buck, 
woulff, fox, and wyld cattis. 

I have already referred to another hunting of James V, 
when, in 1528, 360 harts were slain in the forest county of 
Selkirkshire and the adjoining counties. In 1563 Queen 
Mary was present at a Highland hunt when, in the course of 
two months "tenchel" driving, two thousand Scottish High- 
landers collected in the wilds of Athole, Badenoch, Mar 
and Moray a huge herd of "more than two thousand deer." 
Many of these, owing to a sudden stampede of the herd, 
broke bounds and escaped, but notwithstanding, "there were 
killed that day 360 deer." Taylor, the Water Poet, relates 
that, in his presence, in 1618, in the "Brea of Marr" Braemar 
in Aberdeenshire "in the space of two hours, fourscore fat 
deere were slaine, "and the Wardlaw Chronicles tell how, in 
1655, in the "Forrest of Monnair" on the borders of Inver- 
ness, Ross and Cromarty, 

We travelled through Strathglaish and Glenstrafarrar to Loch Monnair.... 
Next day we got sight of 6 or 700 deere, and sportt off hunting fitter for 
kings than country gentlemen. 

These facts go to show that, while legislation was unable to 
save the deer of the Lowlands, where deer-preservation came 
into violent conflict with agricultural progress, it did result 
in keeping up the numbers in the wilder areas of the Scottish 


In our day also, a similar result follows upon the protection 
afforded to Red Deer. So efficiently are they preserved that 
there can be little doubt that in many areas the number 
exceeds what the ground could naturally bear. Why should 
it be necessary to hand-feed deer in many forests during the 



winter, were it not that the "forest" does not afford sufficient 
sustenance for the numbers of deer upon it? And how else 
can we account for the great mortality that occurs from 
natural causes every season ? In the deer-forests of Jura, 
a count extending over ten years revealed the fact that, over 
and above the slaughter due to sport, an average of more 
than one hundred deer died every year. The conclusion that 
protection has increased the stock beyond the capacity of the 
country, is confirmed by the fact that while the total number 
of deer in Jura is now over 2,000, in Martin's day, in the 
closing years of the seventeenth century, the hills ordinarily 
had "about three hundred Deer grazing on them," and even 
then they were protected, for they were "not to be hunted 
by any, without the Steward's License." 

The War has further emphasized the tendency to over- 
protection. During the past thirty years, the area of Scottish 
deer forests has increased by many thousands if not by 
millions of acres. Deer have now become so numerous, 
partly owing to the absence of sportsmen and keepers on the 
trail of greater game, that they have overrun great stretches 
of the best sheep-grazings and are said to have destroyed 
fields of valuable crops within twelve miles of Glasgow. So 
serious a menace have they become to the interests of agri- 
culture and to the food-supply of the nation, that the pro- 
tective legislation which has held sway from time immemorial 
has been rescinded for the time being. An order of the 
Board of Agriculture for Scotland issued in February 1917 
authorizes the occupier of any agricultural holding in Scotland 
to kill, by any means available, deer that are trespassing on 
his grazings, or causing injury to his crops; and this with 
only a gun licence and without even a licence to kill game 
surely a measure and an expedient which might well raise 
from their last resting-places the Scots law-makers of old, 
with their mutilations and their hangings. 

Nevertheless, in spite of the severity of the old laws of 
the deer-forest and their one-sided point of view, naturalists 
owe them a debt of gratitude ; for, taking account of the 
influence of changed conditions upon the deer themselves 
(see under Destruction of Forests, p. 335), of the present 
necessity for artificial feeding in many areas, of the annual 
tale of natural deaths, of the history of the lowland Red 


Deer, of the disappearance of the Reindeer and the Elk, 
and of the destructiveness of man, I would unhesitatingly 
say that, but for the protection afforded by the law, Red 
Deer would long since have ceased to exist in Scotland as the 
wild denizens of our mountains and highland moors. 


Roe and Fallow Deer were held by the law in much the 
same light as Red Deer; in many of the Statutes all three 
are specified together and on equal terms. As Fallow Deer 
were as a rule "Parked Deare," the property of the owner 
of the enclosure, interference with them was a simple crime 
of theft ; and as Roe Deer were of less value for purposes 
of the hunt, the protection of them was on the whole less 
stringent than that of the "best of chase, the tall and lusty 


Hares did not enter the desirable regions of protection 
at so early a date as Deer, for the "tim'rous hare," "a weak, 
harmless flying creature," was scarcely to be reckoned inter 
regalia sport for a king. Indeed in the twelfth century, 
during the reign of King Alexander, there was no prohibition 
against hunting hares except they were in forests and warrens, 
where they were private property. Yet in many ways the 
protection of hares ran parallel with that of deer, although it 
was as a whole less comprehensive. 

In' the fifteenth century a close season of a kind was 
instituted, for hares might not be slain in time of snow 
under a penalty of 6s. Sal. (1400). In the sixteenth century 
(1567) a much more strict preservation was enforced under 
pain of forfeiture of all the offender's moveable goods, or if 
he had no goods, of imprisonment for 40 days for a first 
offence and, for a second, loss of his right hand. As hares, 
like deer, were to be reserved for the chase, shooting with 
"hag buttes, hand gurtnes, croce bowes and pistolettes" as 
well as snaring and netting were forbidden; in 1579 the 
"slaying of Haires" was included in the comprehensive Act 
which threatened offenders for a third time, with "hanging 
to the death"; and in 1685, on account of the decay of game 


in the Lowlands, the shooting and selling of hares at any time 
were forbidden. A curious penalty attaches to a decree of 
1707, made during our conflict with Louis XIV of France, 
for it was ordained that no one shoot hares without a licence 
from the proprietor of the ground, under penalty of being 
sent abroad as a recruit. 

What the actual effect of such protection was upon the 
stock of hares in the country I have no means of estimating. 
I imagine that it must have kept the number up to a level that, 
could not have been attained had hares been slaughtered at 
all times by all and sundry; and this supposition is confirmed 
by the reduction of numbers which followed upon the setting 
aside of the older Game Laws by the Ground Game Act of 
iSSo 1 . Yet in the old days hares do not seem to have 
been overplentiful, judging from the slight evidence I have 
gathered. To Mr A. O. Curie I am indebted for an extract 
from the manuscript of the Moray Papers, which I quote 
here by permission of the Right Hon. the Earl of Moray. 
It appears in a letter, dated 22 January 1582, from John 
Guthrie in Castle Campbell to the Countess of Argyll, 
relating a libel against Argyll made to the King by the Prior 
of Pluscarden, accusing him of 

the foullest and greatest slauchter of hares that ever he saw, felling them 
in thair setts and lowsing of 10 or 12 leish of dogs by [Pforbye] ane great 
number of raches at ane hare and so wald slay in ane day 12, 16, or 20, 

no very great "slauchter," as things go in our day of sporting 
guns and ammunition, though with dogs a very fair bag. 
In the middle of the eighteenth century the number of hares 
and leverets in Great Britain was estimated, according to 
Dr John Campbell, I do not know on what basis, at a stock 
of twenty-four thousand, and an annual breed of twelve 

As in the case of Deer and Game Birds, the War has 
made more apparent than ever before, the influence upon 
the hare's numbers of even the modicum of protection now 
afforded it. Owing to the absence of sportsmen and game- 
keepers, the annual destruction of hares has been lessened, 
and the effect of preservation, no longer obscured by com- 
pensating slaughter, stands out clearly in an enormous 

1 See p. 1 80, where also the Hares' Preservation Act of 1892 is 
referred to. 


increase of numbers. So great has become the damage done 
by this unwonted increase that "with a view to preventing 
or reducing injury to crops or wastage of pasturage," special 
Orders have recently been issued (17 April 1917) by the 
Board of Agriculture for Scotland and the corresponding 
bodies in England and Ireland, authorizing and encouraging 

the killing and taking, the sale and purchase, and the possession of any 
birds or hares or rabbits at any time when the killing and taking, the sale 
and purchase, or the possession thereof would othersvise be unlawful, 

and granting these liberties to persons who have no game- 
licences and no rights according to the laws of game pro- 

IV. 2 


I HAVE suggested that, in a general way, the development 
of laws protecting animals because of their usefulness, suc- 
ceeded in time the development of laws protecting the 
objects of sport. Under the feudal system the king and 
his court held first place, and so their pleasure was more 
important than the nation's profit, since the nation, as we 
think of it, consisted but of underlords and vassals. Thus 
it was only with the gradual decay of the feudal idea and the 
growth of a new appraising of values that the utilitarian aspect 
of wild animals forced itself into notice. Even so, the growth 
of a true economic protection has been a slow one, for the 
earliest efforts at the legal protection of useful animals, were 
mainly aimed at protecting such for the nobles and the 
proprietors of land, and from the masses of the people. 
With a few exceptions, it is only within comparatively recent 
years that there has been passed utilitarian legislation con- 
cerning animals, which affects the greater part of the popula- 

The laws protecting useful animals have had several 
distinct ends in view. Some animals have been protected 
because they could be used as food; others because of the 
profit to be gained from their fur or skins ; a few because of 
their value as scavengers; and a larger number because of 
the special services they render to the agriculturist and the 
nation at large. 


History furnishes unpleasantly frequent records of the 
occurrence in Scotland of times of great scarcity, when prices 
of common articles of food rose to a prohibitive height (so 
that, as in 1551, Acts establishing fixed prices of food-animals 
had to be passed), when the poorer inhabitants were forced 
to the sea-shore there to live upon the shell-fish gathered 


on the rocks and from the sands, and when, in spite of all 
efforts, many died of want. Such recurrences probably first 
turned the attention of our legislators to the need of supervis- 
ing the wild stock of the country with a view to future food 
supplies. Thus alongside protection of game birds from the 
sporting point of view grew protection of wild fowl from a 
utilitarian standpoint. 

In an Act passed in 1457, in the reign of James II, pro- 
vision was specifically made for such wild fowl "as ganis 
to eit for the sustentacion of man, as pertrykes, pluvars, 
wilde dukes and sik lik fowlys." Of these neither the nests 
nor eggs were to be taken or destroyed, nor were the birds 
themselves to be killed in moulting time. Further, that the 
stock of wild fowl should be still more augmented, the same 
Act provided for the destruction of "foulys of reif," or birds 
of prey in a wide sense, such being "ruikes, crawes, eirnes 1 , 
bissettes 2 , gleddes 3 , mittalles 4 , the whilk destroyes beast, 
corne, and wilde foulys." Great efforts were to be made to 
keep these destroyers in check, for they "sail utterly be 
destroyed by all manner of men, be all engine 5 of all manner 
of crafts that may be founden" since "the slauchter of them 
sail cause great multitude of divers kind of wilde foulys for 
man's sustentacion." 

In the sixteenth century there were also passed Acts for 
"staunching dearth" which provided for the preservation 
of "hart, hinde, dae, rae, haires, cunninges, and utheris 
beasts." The many statutes protecting the inhabitants of 
the dovecot, the "dows" and their "dowcattes," of which a 
summary has already been given (p. 98) were also clearly- 
devised for the increase of food supply, although the supply 
was primarily intended for the table of the laird. 


Ranking almost in importance with the preservation of 
game is the protection which has been given to the more 
valuable fishes of our fresh waters, Salmon and Trout. The 
details of the protective measures vary for almost every 
great river, and it would serve no useful purpose to discuss 
them here, but in the main they follow several wide principles. 

1 Eagles. 2 Buzzards. 3 Kites. 4 "A kind of halk" Jamieson. 
r ' Ingenuity. 


Originally the right to catch Salmon was a common 
right, but the value of the fish soon led to interference with 
the privileges of the people at large, and at an early date 
property in salmon fishings became vested in the Crown. 
By grants and charters the Crown bestowed the rights in 
these valuable properties to private individuals, often in- 
dependently of the land in which the fishing lay, so that 
the taking of Salmon became a right limited to a favoured 
few of the population, for whom it was protected by statutes 

Yet from the time of Robert the Bruce, the law made 
many endeavours to preserve the fishes themselves, and 
these regulations follow well-recognized lines common to 
all legislation protecting animals the protection of adults, 
especially at breeding times, and the safeguarding of the 

Modes of catching the fish were severely restricted. 
Fixed engines, stake-nets and bag-nets were prohibited in 
rivers and in tidal estuaries, and it was enacted in the reign 
of James I "that all cruives and yaires set in freshe watteris, 
quhair the sea fillis and ebbis, the quhilk destroyis the frie 
of all fisches, be destroyed and put awaie for ever mair" 
(1424). The general effect of such restrictions, which 
are of wide application, is to give adult fishes, returning 
from the sea to fresh water, a sporting chance of reaching 
their spawning beds in the upper reaches of the rivers. 

The safety of breeding fish was sought by prohibiting 
the taking of "baggit" Salmon, that is, Salmon about to 
spawn, and by the creation of close seasons, which were first 
instituted in the Act of James I just quoted, the close time 
being there designated as from 

the Feast of the Assumption of our Ladie quhill [until] the Feast of St 
Andrew in winter.... Quha sa ever be convict of slauchter of salmonde in 
time forbidden be the law, he sail pay fourtie shillings for the unlaw, and 
at the third time, gif he be convict of sik trespasse, he sail tyne [lose] his 
life or then [else] bye it [i.e. pay its value as ransom]. 

What the ransom was for a life in 1424, I do not know, 
unless it was that of a law attributed to a much earlier date, 
which stipulated "For the life of ane man nine time twentie 
kye," and proceeds to put a mercenary value upon various 
acts of violence 


For ane fute, ane marke. For ane tuth, twelve pennies... For ane strake 
with steiked neif [clenched fist], twelve pennies... For ane strake with the 
fute, fortie pennies. For the blude shed out of the head of ane Earle, nine 

In Scotland at the present time the annual close season 
for Salmon differs according to local conditions in individual 
rivers, but in no case must it be less than 168 days. A 
weekly close time for nets from 6 a.m. on Saturday till 6 a.m. 
on Monday, the "weekly slap," gives much needed facility 
for migrating Salmon to pass beyond the estuaries up the 

Adult Salmon are further protected by comparatively 
recent legislation (1862) prohibiting the taking of fish which, 
having spawned, have not yet completed their seaward 
migration foul fish or kelts, and unseasonable fish. 

Several measures have been adopted for the preservation 
of young Salmon : spawning beds may not be disturbed, even 
banks suitable for spawning must not be interfered with, 
the taking of Salmon parr is totally prohibited, and as early 
as 1457, it was decreed that "na man in smolt time set 
veschellis, crelyis, weris, or any uthir ingyne, to let [prevent] 
the smoltis to pass to the see." 

Trout are protected by restricting to private individuals 
what were at first public rights, by restrictions as to the 
modes of fishing, and by an annual close season extending 
from the I5th of October to the 28th of February. 

So the "multiplicatioune of fische, salmonde, grilsis and 
trowtis" has been encouraged in Scotland ; but the direct 
protection has given rise to another and important means of 
"multiplicatioune," for the institution of private property in 
fishing has encouraged the artificial rearing of Salmon and 
Trout fry in specially designed hatcheries. There they are 
brought through the early stages of life, free from the in- 
numerable dangers from physical accident and natural 
enemies to which they are exposed in open rivers, and are 
launched annually in their thousands on suitable feeding- 
grounds in their own or in distant waters. Some notion of 
the significance offish hatcheries maybe gathered from the 
facts that in the season 1915-16 the 224 breeding stations in 
Switzerland hatched 157,97 1,000 eggs of fresh-water fishes, 
and that in 1915 the hatcheries of the United States of 


America liberated over 535 million fry and over 18 million 
fingerlings, yearlings, or adults in streams debouching on the 
Pacific, while since the inception of the work of hatching, 
they have distributed 6291 millions of fry. 


The history of the protection of sea-fisheries is compli- 
cated by infinite variety of limitations, most of which have 
now fallen into desuetude. At the present time, white fish 
and Herrings are protected mainly by regulations fixing a 
minimum size of mesh in nets used for their capture, and by 
the institution of reserves the three-mile limit and certain 
special areas such as the Moray Firth and the Firth of 
Clyde within which specific modes of fishing, for example 
trawling, are prohibited. 


A few species of molluscan and crustacean shell-fish have 
been protected with a view to increasing the stock available 
for food. Oyster beds and Mussel scalps are regarded as 
private property and are protected as such. Oysters are 
further subject to a close season extending from i4th May 
or 1 5th June till i4th August, according to whether they 
occur on inshore or deep-sea beds. 

Of Crustacean shell-fish, Crabs and Lobsters are by 
far the most important from an economic point of view 
(see p. 153). The protective regulations vary in different 
Fishery Districts but a minimum size of 4^ inches across 
the back for Edible Crabs and of 8 inches length for Lobsters 
is enforced, and as a rule, the taking of crabs with spawn 
and "hen lobsters in berry" is prohibited. 

Such regulations, while they have had, in most cases, 
no appreciable effect in increasing beyond their original 
numbers the stocks of the chief food animals of the country, 
have had the negative but highly important effect of pre- 
venting a serious depletion of these stocks, a result which 
would inevitably have followed promiscuous destruction of 
creatures of such great economic value. 


When one thinks of the extent and of the content of the 
great fur countries in the northern territories of the Old and 
the New World, exporting annually their hundreds of thou- 
sands of valuable pelts, it seems as if the limited fauna of 
Scotland could never have ventured to take part in the trad- 
ing of furs. Yet it is not so, for long before those northern 
regions had been tapped, Scotland, as we have already seen 
(p- J 55)> was much resorted to by the merchants of the 
Continent on account of the rich furs it exported. Skins 
of the mertrick (marten), foulmart (polecat), beaver, otter, 
tod (fox), whitret (weasel, perhaps also stoat or ermine), and 
cunning (rabbit), were exported in quantity. In view of the 
importance of this trade in furs, it seems extraordinary that, 
apart from a few regulations limiting the wearing of the more 
valuable kinds to men of high degree, and a few enactments 
levying a toll upon exported skins, the law made no attempt 
to foster so valuable an asset by endeavouring to protect the 
animals themselves, except in the solitary case of the rabbit. 


In another place I have discussed the introduction and 
establishment of the Rabbit in Scotland (p. 247), so that 
here I would do no more than indicate its standing as a fur- 
bearer and the protection which has been awarded it on this 
account. Although of no mean value as a food animal, the 
Rabbit owes its early preservation rather to the quality of its 
skin. Witness the statement of Dr John Campbell in his 
Political Siirvey of Great Britain, published in 1774: 

Their Flesh at a proper Age, and in proper Seasons, is thought equally 
wholesome and delicate. But this, though in some Degree an Object of 
Profit, did not so much recommend or render them so valuable, as their 
Skins, which are now much reduced in their Price from a Variety of Causes, 
and though thus reduced they are still of no despicable Value. 

He goes on to say that in his time "it hath been computed, 
that Skins included, the annual Produce of Rabbits within 
the Bills of Mortality comes to about Forty Thousand 

The price of a rabbit for food was fixed in Scotland in 


1551 at from is. to 2s., but the value of the skin was much 
greater, for Campbell says 

the Skins of large well chosen Rabbits would produce Half a Crown, or 
even Three Shillings a Skin, being then used in lining Robes, in Muffs, in 
Tippets, &c. The Down was employed in making Hats, and in both ours 
[an apparent printers error for colours] was highly esteemed in France, 
especially the jet Black, and such as had only a Sprinkling of White 
amongst the Black, and was very much preferred to their own. 

A great fillip was given to the use of rabbit skins for 
hat-making in Scotland when, in 1621 the wearing of castor 
or beaver hats was forbidden (although in 1672 the privilege 
was allowed afresh to noblemen), and when, in 1695, authority 
was given by law for the manufacture of hats from rabbit 
and hare skins. 

In view of the Value attaching to rabbit skins, it is little 
wonder that "cunninges" and "cunningaires" or rabbit- 
warrens, were protected with a jealousy which in our day of 
a rabbit pest seems remarkable. A Statute of James VI, 
passed in 1579, was particularly severe on the "breakirs of 
cunningaires" who, should they be found "unresponsall in 
gudes," that is, unable to pay the fine of "fourtie pundes" 
demanded on a third offence, were to suffer "hanging to the 
death." This value, too, is accountable for the rapid spread 
of the rabbit in Scotland and for the creation of innumerable 
warrens, many of which, as that on the links at Aberdeen, 
were commonties, the property of the neighbouring town or 
village. An index to the esteem in which the skins were held 
in countries outwith our own boundaries is furnished by an 
interesting entry in a Charter of the Earl of Mar and Kellie, 
which gives the yearly average export between 1611 and 
1614: "Of cuneing skinnis 53,234 at 6 the hundreth, 


Abundant though Seals were in former days on the 
coasts of Scotland, and valuable as their carcases must have 
been in furnishing food and oil as well as in supplying skins 
for clothing, no general attempt was ever made to protect 
them. Yet an interesting story of St Columba shows that 
at one time and in one place breeding colonies of seals 
were jealously guarded. Adamnan, in his Life of St 
Columba, tells how the Saint despatched from lona to Mull 


two brethren empowered to catch a robber from Colonsay 
who, having come over in his boat at night to a small island 
where the young seals were brought forth and reared, killed 
and stole many of them. The seals were the property of 
the settlement in lona and were carefully protected and 
encouraged to multiply as a reserve for supplying food, 
clothing and oil to the monks. 

Simple as was this oldest protection of the seal in 
Scotland in the sixth century, it is still the latest method; for 
it was instituted in 1912 in the Pribilof Islands, off Alaska. 
The prohibition of killing in that famous breeding-ground 
has increased the stock of Fur Seals (Arctocephalus ursmus), 
according to the enumeration and calculations of the United 
States Bureau of Fisheries, from 363,872 in 191510417,329 
in 1916, a gain of over 53,000 in a single year. 

The protection of even a single breeding-ground on a 
small island on the west of Scotland must in that area have 
had no little effect in keeping up the numbers of seals. 
Otherwise, under the constant demands of man they must 
have followed that course of decline which elsewhere has 
invariably accompanied unrestricted slaughter. This very 
slaughter, to which I referred in the preceding chapter (p. 172), 
rendered necessary the protection of the Grey Seal (Hali- 
ckcems grypus] in British waters, and this was granted in 
19 14 by an Act of Parliament which instituted an annual close 
season from the ist of October till the i5th of December. 


The encouragement and protection of such animals as 
feed upon carrion and garbage is a well established custom 
in many and especially tropical lands where sanitation is in 
its infancy, and where festering heat hastens decay and 
noisomeness. In such countries, Jackals by night and Pariah 
Dogs by day are tolerated with a benevolent neutrality on 
account of their services to cleanliness, while the sacredness 
of the Vultures of India and the sufferance accorded to their 
relatives in the warmer regions of Europe, Asia and Africa 
can be traced to their efficiency as cleansers of the earth. 

In Scotland in early days and down to comparatively 
recent times the sanitary condition of towns and villages 


was not very different from that of many modern sites of 
habitation in the East. Imagine the state of the streets of 
Edinburgh, for example, when, even so late as 1730, the 
frequent cry of " Gardy Loo" (Gardez feau) heralded a 
deluge of household slops and filth from the window of an 
upper storey upon the causeway, or when middens plentifully 
bestrewed the main avenues of traffic, to the hindrance of 
the lieges, as Lindsay (d. 1557) relates: 

Marie ! cummand throw the Schogait, 
Bot thair hes bene ane great debait 

Betwix me and ane sow. 
The sow cryit guff, and I to ga, 
Throw speid of fute I gat awa 
But in the midst of the cawsa 1 

I fell into ane midding. 

In such conditions many animals prone to nose in garbage 
were afforded a mild sort of protection. Swine were to be 
found, especially at night, roaming from one heap of offal 
to another, and it was no unusual chance that led the hero 
of the verses quoted to meet one in a thoroughfare. Nor was 
it a fortuitous juxtaposition that occurred when the Assize of 
Haddington in October 1543 ordained "Item all muk to 
be put off the Gait [street] and all swyne to be put off the 
Towne." The foragings of clogs and cats also were so much 
encouraged that their presence became a public nuisance, and 
the Haddington Assize was compelled to ordain "that the 
hangman sail escheit to hymself all swyne doggs & catts at 
[that] he fyndis one [on] the gait fra this nycht furcht." 


Many carrion-feeding birds were encouraged to aid in 
the work of scavenging; else how can we account for the 
numbers which frequented the streets of Edinburgh and 
Leith? A casual reference in Wedderburn's Accompt Book 
indicates the presence of these visitors, whose appearance in 
the streets called for no remark on ordinary occasions, 
although during an eclipse of the sun in 1597, 

the peiple with gryt fair fled aff the calsayis [causeways] to houssis 
mourning and lamenting, and the crawis and corbeis and ravenois foullis 
fled to houssis to our steple and tolbuith and schip tappis, maist merveul- 
ously affrayit. 

1 Causeway. 


I think it highly probable that till a comparatively late 
date, Rooks, Carrion Crows and Ravens were afforded a real 
and active protection in our towns and villages on account 
of their services to cleanliness, but that, as with so many 
habits and customs now curious to us, the very ordinariness of 
their presence in former days led to its being passed over 
unremarked by contemporary writers. We must remember, 
however, that, according to Clusius, vast numbers of Kites 
were in constant attendance in the streets of London during 
the reign of Henry VIII, on the look-out for the offal with 
which the thoroughfares were polluted. 

It has been left to a German nobleman, soldier and 
traveller, Von Wedel, to record as strange to his eyes, what 
our own historians passed over in silence, the presence and 
protection of Ravens as scavengers in our towns. 

"On the 6th [of September 1584]" he wrote in effect, "we rode to 
Belfart [Belford], twelve miles, and from thence twelve miles again with 
fresh post to Barwick [Berwick-on-T weed].... The houses in the town are 
mean and thatched with straw.... There are many ravens in this town which 
it is forbidden to shoot, upon pain of a crown's payment, for they are 
considered to drive away bad air." 

Here is obviously a reference to their removal of evil- 
smelling garbage and the pestilence it engendered ; but the 
significance of this protection of scavengers is .made quite 
clear by one Capello, a Venetian ambassador, who, after 
spending the winter of 1496-7 in England, wrote 

Nor do they dislike what we so much abominate, i.e. crows, rooks and 
jackdaws ; and the raven may croak at his pleasure, for no one cares for 
the omen ; there is even a penalty attached to destroying them, as they say 
that they will keep the streets of the town free from all filth. It is the same 
case with kites, which are so tame, that they often take out of the hands of 
little children, the bread smeared with butter, in the Flemish fashion, given 
to them by their mothers. 

The protection of the Raven and its kind as scavengers 
was no new feature of sixteenth century life in Britain, for 
even in Roman times, as the results of excavations indi- 
cate (although excavators and commentators have missed 
the significance of their presence) these birds were welcomed 
in the settlements and cities. 

" The most common birds [found in the excavations of the Roman 
station of Calleva, now Silchester, in Hampshire]," says Mr H. Jones in 
Archaeologia in 1892, "after those of the domestic fowl, have been 

R. T 5 


identified as those of the Raven.. .The numerous bones found amongst 
the Roman remains would almost point to its having lived there in a semi- 
domestic state." 

And the excavations of the following year showed that "The 
Raven and the Crow, especially the former, seem to have 
been very plentiful, and gave the largest number of identifi- 
able bones." A commentator has surmised that the abund- 
ance of the Ravens at Calleva may have been due to 
the fact that they were hung in cages at the entrance to the 
houses, as the Magpie was in Rome, to keep guard against 
intruders and to salute those who were invited to a villa. 
But such surmises are unnecessary: the numbers of their 
remains, the analogies of the municipal laws of Berwick and 
of the bird frequenters of the streets of Leith and London, 
make it perfectly plain that the Ravens and Crows were en- 
couraged and protected in the Roman settlements on account 
of their value as disposers of garbage. 

The result of such protection was that for many centuries 
"the birds obscene that croak and jar," which now, in 
numbers miserable, are banished to the wildest crags, were 
not only common throughout the land, but were the constant 
companions of the traffic of the streets even in our largest 
and busiest seaports and towns. Strange, wild times when 
the Sparrow scavengers of modern thoroughfares were re- 
placed in numbers and in assurance by Rooks, Carrion 
Crows and Ravens ! 

It is not necessary to suppose, however, that these Raven 
hordes built and nested in the near neighbourhood of the 
towns they frequented, for it is well known that they, in 
common with all birds of carrion, gather from afar to the 
feast. Macgillivray instances such a congregation on the 
Island of Pabbay in the Outer Hebrides, when as many 
as two hundred Ravens gathered over a stranded herd of. 
Grampuses or "Killer" Whales; and Dr B. N. Peach tells 
me that on a similar occasion, when five "Killers" came 
ashore in Weisdale Voe on the mainland of Shetland, he 
witnessed the congregation of a flock of Ravens of which he 
estimated the number at five hundred, many of which, in his 
opinion, had gathered from the outlying islands. 


Since everyone knows that many of our wild birds in 
working out their own life-stories, perform deeds without 
which the fruitful tilling of the soil could not long survive, 
it seems strange that so little care should have been given 
to the welfare of these friends of man. What has man done 
to encourage the useful bird ? 

"The stingy farmer," wrote Michelet, "has not a grain for the creature, 
which, during the rains of winter, hunts the future insect, finds out the 
nests of the larvae, examines, turns over every leaf, and destroys every day, 
thousands of incipient caterpillars. But sacks of corn for the mature insect, 
whole fields for the grasshoppers, which the birds would have made war 
upon. With eyes fixed upon his furrow, upon the present moment only, 
without seeing and without foreseeing, blind to the great harmony which 
is never broken with impunity, he has everywhere demanded or approved 
laws for the extermination of that necessary ally of his toil the insecti- 
vorous bird." 

And Michelet's condemnation could be applied with force to 
Britain, for when he wroteL'Oiseau in 1856, the law had made 
no effort to preserve any such bird for the welfare of the 
country at large. Legislation for the protection of game, 
there was in plenty, but the democratic idea of preserving 
birds for their services to the people had not yet been born. 

Since Michelet wrote, some progress has been made in 
other countries as in our own. Many of the United States 
of America, like West Virginia, specify in their protection 
laws, birds "that promote agriculture and horticulture by 
feeding on noxious insects and worms"; and in 1902 there 
was signed in Paris by many of the European countries 
(not including Great Britain) a "Convention pour la Protec- 
tion des Oiseaux utiles a 1' Agriculture," which forbade at all 
times and in all ways the killing of birds useful to agriculture, 
especially insectivorous birds, and the destruction of their 
nests and eggs. 

In Britain insectivorous or useful birds have not been 
singled out for special protection, but they are, of course, 
included in the general protection granted to all wild birds 
during a close season instituted by the Wild Birds' Protec- 
tion Act of 1880, and extending in each year between ist 
March and ist August, the breeding season. Such birds 
as are mentioned in a Schedule attached to the Act are 

'5 2 


absolutely protected during this period, while the others 
remain at the mercy of the occupier or owner of land. Many 
also have been protected under subsequent Acts (especially 
of 1894 and 1896) providing for the preservation of the eggs 
of particular wild birds, for the adding of new birds to the 
Schedule, for the extension of the close season in particular 
cases, and for the creation of areas where all wild birds are 
protected all the year round. 

The result of these enactments has been on the whole a 
marked increase of insectivorous birds. Indeed so great has 
been the increase in the case of certain species that they 
have been forced by the competition of numbers to turn 
more and more from their staple food of insects to the 
grain of the farmer and fruit of the gardener. On this ac- 
count many demands have been made that certain of the 
species which have most multiplied under protection should 
be removed from the guardianship of the law. Although these 
demands must be carefully tested in the light of unbiassed 
observation of feeding habits throughout the year, there 
is a consensus of opinion, based upon field observations and 
the examination of the food found in the crops of thousands 
of individuals, that in certain areas the numbers of such 
insect-eating birds as Rooks, Starlings, Gulls, especially 
Black-headed, and Blackbirds, could be limited without 
detriment to their useful labours, and to the great advantage 
of agriculture generally. 

I conclude this reference to the "farmer's friends," with 
an account of a curious type of special protection which used 
to hold in Shetland. There the Great Skua (Stercorarius 
skua] was preserved and encouraged because of its services 
to the farmer in driving the Sea- Eagle from the island. Low 
in his Tour through Orkney and Shetland, which took place 
in the latter half of the eighteenth century, wrote 

In Foula there is a privileged bird, no man will nor dare shoot it, 
under the penalty of i6s. 8d. Ster., nor destroy its eggs; when they meet 
it at sea, whatever fish they have in the boat Skua always gets a share, and 
all this out of gratitude for beating off the Eagle, who dares not venture to 
prey on the island during the whole of the breeding season.... Skua is not 
so strong as the Eagle, but much more nimble; strikes at him without 
mercy, with such effect that he makes the other scream aloud, and his 
retreat is so sudden as to avoid all danger from the Eagle. 

IV. 3 


IN the slow progress of the protection of animal life by 
law, it seems somehow natural to suppose that the idea of 
preserving creatures for no other reason than their rarity, 
their beauty of plumage, their sweetness of song, or the 
interest of their habits, should have been the last to have 
borne fruit. Probably the reason lies partly in the fact that 
the general interest in nature for its own sake is a develop- 
ment of very recent growth, partly in the truth of the old saw 
which says that "Ilka man's business is nae man's concern "- 
in other words, that because of their lack of expression, the 
concerns of democracy have been stifled by the clamour of 
sections more powerful and more immediately interested. 

So it happens that the protection of creatures "attractive 
in appearance or cheerful in song," as the Nebraskan law 
puts it, is a matter of our own day, for we can hardly regard 
the Scots laws of James I and Charles II (1621 and 1672), 
forbidding the wearing of feathers, as having been instigated 
by any concern for the "plume question," as it is understood 

Even yet, so far as I know, the law takes no cognizance 
of our rare or interesting animals other than birds. The 
numbers of the' Badger may dwindle on our hill-sides, the 
Wild Cat and Marten may become extinct in our highland 
woods, the Large Copper and the Artaxerxes Butterflies 
may be exterminated, but the law says never a word. 

Birds stand in happier case. Our birds of fine plumage 
and sweet song, our rare birds and interesting birds shared 
with all others the benefits of the close season of the Act of 
1 880. Since then many of our rarer birds have been afforded 
special protection, as have also their eggs, and a special 
Act was passed in 1904 for the protection of wild birds 
on the Island of St Kilda, notably the St Kilda Wren, 


which was threatened with extinction owing to the regard- 
less enthusiasm of collectors. 

There can be no doubt that the numbers of many of our 
interesting birds have increased greatly during the past 
thirty years mainly owing to the protection afforded them. 
Year after year the reports on Scottish bird life in the 
Annals of Scottish Natural History and its successor The 
Scottish Naturalist, tell of increasing numbers and of ex- 
tensions of range, and to these I would refer the reader, 
contenting myself here with a few typical examples, mainly 
extracted from the pages of that magazine. Rare birds like 
the Red-necked Phalarope (P/ialaropus lobatiis] "seem to be 
increasing every season" ; the Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps 
cristatus} "has been increasing of late years as a breeding 
bird in Scotland," and since its first recorded appearance 
about 1877 has extended its range to the faunal areas of 
Sol way, Tweed, forth, Clyde, Tay and Moray; the Scottish 
Crested Tit (Parus cristatus scoticus] (Fig. 47) a bird 
exclusively Scottish has colonized many new areas in 
Moray, Nairn, Inverness and Ross during the last ten years, 
despite the persecutions of collectors; and the Hawfinch 
(Coccothraustes coccothraustes] has continued its general 
extension in Scotland, in spite of the ill-will of growers of 
peas. Birds of fine plumage, like the Goldfinch, the Jay and 
the Kingfisher are steadily increasing in numbers notwith- 
standing the attentions of birdcatchers, gamekeepers, and 
preservers of fisheries. Song-birds, such as Linnets, Sedge 
Warblers, .Wood Warblers, Thrushes and Blackbirds are 
multiplying in several or many areas. And of birds of 
general interest, the Golden Eagle, the Raven, the Magpie, 
the Gannet and the Fulmar Petrel are a few which have 
increased and have settled in new breeding grounds. 

In many cases, it is interesting to note, these benefits 
have accrued to the naturalist and to the people in general, 
in face of the vested interests of sport: the Golden Eagle 
multiplies in spite of the toll it levies upon grouse and 
ptarmigan; the Kingfisher in spite of its depredations on 
young trout. And this is due in part to a new sense of 
aesthetic value which has led landowners and owners of 
fisheries to balance against the game bag and the basket 
of trout, the beauties of undisturbed nature. 


So successful has been the legal protection of wild birds 
that several species have increased beyond reasonable limits, 
and have come to be recognized as pests. Amongst these 
beneficiaries under the Acts and their supplementary 
Orders are the Gulls, especially Blackheaded Gulls, which 
have turned their attention to grain, turnips and potatoes; 

Fig. 47. Scottish Crested Tit increasing in numbers under protection. 
(From a Speyside example.) About natural size. 

the Merganser, Goosander and Heron, whose numbers are 
said seriously to deplete freshwater fisheries; the Starling, 
Thrush, Blackbird and Bullfinch, which have become the 
bane of the fruitgrower; and those doughty thieves, the Rook 
and the Wood-pigeon. In the interests of the home grown 
food supply of the country, the importance of which the War 
has emphasized, such birds, in districts where satisfactory 


evidence of their harmfulness has been produced, ought 
to be temporarily excepted from the modes of protection 
awarded them, so that, by the reduction of their numbers, 
good may come to the country at large. But with birds as 
with men evil is most often tempered with good*, and only 
after long observation and careful balancing of facts can 
a final and fair judgment be reached. Even then, I am 
convinced, little harm would befall were the final judgment 
to be tempered with mercy. 

IV. 4 


MAN has so much to answer for as a destroyer and 
exterminator of his co-dwellers on the earth that there is 
something pleasing in the thought that on occasion his 
goodwill has been extended to animals, apart from the thought, 
of future sport or of gains to come. This goodwill has 
affected a favoured few of our native animals, and as a 
rule has been determined by some special interest attaching 
to the creatures it shields, in view of which minor delin- 
quencies on their part have come to be overlooked. 

The Otter is a serious menace to freshwater fisheries, 
yet it has probably been saved from extermination because 
of a tender thought in the heart of many a proprietor of a 
trout stream for this "lord of the stream" who surveys "all 
the finny shoals his own," whose destructiveness is com- 
pensated for by the interest and beauty it adds to many an 
angler's haunt. But perhaps the thought of a day with the 
otter hounds has also had its influence. The Badger, too, 
however much it may have been persecuted in former times, 
has now gained a place in popular favour because of its 
interest and rarity, and there is little likelihood that the 
extermination which once threatened it, will be carried into 
effect. May it be taken as a gratifying sign of the growing 
regard for our wild animals, that a colony of -Badgers has 
inhabited for many years, without disturbance, a site on 
Corstorphine Hill almost within the boundaries of the city 
of Edinburgh ? But if its size and clumsiness add interest 
to the Badger, for it is one of the largest of our surviving 
wild animals, diminutiveness and grace make equal claims 
upon the affection of man, and with these the Dormouse, a 
native of southern England, has made an appeal which has 
not been unanswered. 

It is to the Birds, however, that the goodwill of man has 
most frequently turned. Where their song has charmed his 


ear, or their confidence his heart, he has extended to them 
a protection more sympathetic and more potent than that of 
the law. Poets without number have sung their praises, and 
even the schoolboy stays his harrying hand with ancient lilts 
born of long-time appreciation. 

It is little wonder that in England the Nightingale, 
"night's sweet bird," should have claimed the reverence of 
men when even 

Highest oakes stoop downe to heare, 
And list'ning elders prick the eare. 

And to a less extent the songsters in our northern land, 
^especially the Blackbird and Thrush Merle and Mavis 
despite their peccadillos in the orchard, have gained a 
patronage which their glad music well merits. 

What is one to say of the favour in which the "foolish 
Cuckoo" is held ? It has no wonderful song to sing, its habits 
are unattractive, yet its "plaintive roundelay," its "two old 
notes," awaken a sympathetic thrill as every spring comes 
round. Perhaps Montgomery was right, 

Why art thou always welcome, lonely bird ? 

The heart grows young again when I am heard ; 

Nor in my double note the music lies, 

But in the fields and woods, the streams and skies. 

As little claim upon our regard has the Turtle Dove as 
a songster, yet there can be no doubt of the favour in which 
poets have held the "plaintive moan," which with generous 
interpretation they have regarded as symbolic of tenderness 
and peace, of constancy and truth. To what extent the "too 
saint-like turtle" has been protected by the praises of the 
poets, which, as a rule, echo the feelings of the people, it is 
difficult to say; but there can be no doubt of the efficiency 
of the protection which has shielded the Robin, on account 
of the affection in which it has been held through many ages 
and countries. 

Probably the confidence with which man looks upon the 
Redbreast was in the first place simply a reflex of the 
confidence with which the Robin treated man. But legend 
and fairy tale have created a sacred and a sentimental halo 
round the little bird, and have raised it to a first place in 
man's esteem. The breadth and depth of this popularity has 
been indicated by Wordsworth 


Thou the bird whom men love best, 
The pious bird with the scarlet breast, 
Our little English Robin ; 
The bird that comes about our doors 
When autumn's winds are sobbing. 
Art thou the Peter of Norway boors, 
Their Thomas in Finland 
And Russia far inland? 
The bird who, by some name or other, 
All men who know thee call their brother, 
The darling of children and men. 

Protection by favour extends even to the lower tribes of 
the animal world. There are few insects that are spared at 
the hand of youth, but the Lady-bird 1 is one of them, and 
this not only in our own country, but in Germany as 
well, where it is known as Gotteskdfer God's Beetle. 
Compare also the rhymes with which youthful Britons and 
Teutons set free on fresh journeys those little beetles, the 
Lady-birds and Maikdfer or Cockchafers. The British 
schoolboy chants to the former : 

Lady-bird, Lady-bird, 

Fly away home. 
Your house is on fire, 
Your children all gone. 

While his German equivalent, 'with the same root idea, 
repeats to the Cockchafer, 

Maikafer, flieg' ! Maikafer, flieg- 1 ! 
Dein Vater ist im Krieg' 
Deine Mutter ist im Pommerland, 
Und Pommerland ist abgebrannt. 
Maikafer, flieg' !- 

The Scottish version applied to Lady-birds is different from 

Lady, Lady Landers, 

Lady, Lady Landers, 

Tak' up yer cots 3 aboot yer heid, 

An' flee awa' t' Flanders. 

1 Beetles of family Coccinellidce. 

Fly! fly! Beetle of May, 
Thy Father is gone to the war away. 
Thy Mother rests her in Pomerane, 
And fire has burnt that fertile plain. 

Fly, Beetle of May ! 

3 Petticoats an amusing and striking description of the raising of the 


In whatever way this widespread custom may have originated, 
its effects, so far as Lady-birds are concerned, can be none 
but good, for the Greenfly and Scale-insect pests of our 
gardens have no more persistent nor voracious enemies 
than the innocent Lady-bird and its children. 


This account of the workings of popular favour on behalf 
of animals would be incomplete were no reference made to 
a development of recent date which promises to do much 
for the preservation of native faunas the establishment of 
animal sanctuaries. 

It is true that animal sanctuaries have been in existence 
in Britain for long centuries, for in 1125 Malmesbury drew 
a doleful picture of the New Forest, created by William the 
Conqueror, as a place appropriated, from the use of man, for 
the nurture and refuge of wild beasts. The protected areas 
of the royal and ancient "forests" of Scotland, too, must have 
done something for the preservation of wild life, as indeed 
still do the wild deer-forests of to-day. Bu't in such cases, 
sport is the object in view, and the protection of any but a 
few creatures is no more than an associated accident. That 
areas should be set aside for the sake of the animals them- 
selves is a development of a newly awakened love of 

The foremost examples of modern animal reserves are 
the Yellowstone Park and Mount Rainier National Park, 
which, with other great reserves in the United States, cover 
an area of more than 70,000 square miles, and wherein 
representative sections of the wild life of North America 
have been gathered together in security, free from all outside 
interference, for the benefit of present and future genera- 

In our own country the formation of such sanctuaries 
was encouraged by the Wild Birds' Protection Act of 1896, 
and since that time, thanks especially to the efforts of the 
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, many small areas 
in Britain have been set aside and carefully guarded so that 
within them birds of the rarer kinds may nest and multiply 
in safety. One of the most interesting of Scottish sanctuaries, 


since it is designed to protect all kinds of wild animal life, 
promises to be that at Taradale in Ross and Cromarty, the 
birthplace of Sir Roderick Murchison, where the grounds 
have recently been bequeathed as part of the Murchison of 
Taradale Memorial "to form a sanctuary or reserve for the 
preservation of the wild life of the Highlands." 


Since the earliest days of humanity, man has regarded 
certain animals with particular veneration and such he has 
spared and protected. The ancient Egyptians held sacred 
the Crocodile, the Cat, the Ibis and other creatures, whose 
bodies, even after death, they preserved and reverenced. 
Many nations ha-ve raised animals to the level of gods, and 
many religions have seen in the animal creation symbols of 
their highest faith we think of the Lamb and the Fish, 
symbolic to the early Christians of Christ Himself. Some 
primitive peoples have, by identifying their tribes or their 
families with particular animals in the cult of totemism, 
created thereby a special protection for the totem animal, 
for its blood became as their blood and its life their life, so 
that on no occasion could it be slain, except as a sacrifice to 
their god. Buddhism spares all living things, and partly as 
a result, there are in India 40,000 deaths a year from snake- 

Religious symbolism of such a type, it is hardly necessary 
to say, has had no place in later Scottish life, though the 
animal symbols upon the early Christian monuments of the 
northern and eastern counties hint at a time when it played 
a part in Scottish history. Yet to-day there are many super- 
stitions regarding animals, which still act as protectors of the 
lower creatures. 

I have already mentioned, in passing, the legends that 
have hallowed the Robin Redbreast his care for the bodies 
of the dead, how 

Cov'ring with moss the dead's unclosed eye, 
The little redbreast teacheth charitie. 

But more striking are the stories that account for his ruddy 
breast : the story of his pitiful service on Calvary : 


Thou from out His crown, didst tear 
The thorns to lighten the distress 

And ease the pain that He must bear, 
When pendent from thy tiny beak 

The gory points thy bosom pressed, 
And crimsoned with thy Saviour's blood 

The sober brownness of thy breast I 1 

Or that tale of his journeys to "the fiery pit" : 

He brings cool dew in his little bill, 

And lets it fall on the souls of sin : 

You can see the marks on his red breast still 

Of fires that scorch as he drops it in 2 . 

I do not doubt that these tales, carried through the ages, 
have much to do with the origin of the schoolboy superstition 
that groups the Robin with the birds which bring ill-luck to 
their harriers: 

The laverock 3 an' the lintie 4 , 

The robin and the wren : 
Gin 5 ye harry their nests 

Ye'll ne'er thrive again. 

It is strange that while in England, Ireland and the Isle 
of Man, the "hunting of the wren" was a common and vicious 
custom of Christmas Day or the day after St Stephen's 
Day in Scotland the Wren was regarded almost as a holy 
bird and was exempted from the ordinary rifling of nests. 

Malisons, malisons mair than ten, 
That harry the Ladye of Heaven's hen ! 

The curious title here given to the bird is similar to that in 
a widespread rhyme which links the Robin and Wren as a 
sacred pair : 

The Robin an' the Wren 
God Almighty's cock and hen. 

Another curious and interesting superstition saves the 
Stone-chat, or Stane-chacker as it is called in Scotland, from 
the rude hands of nest harriers; does not the bird itself, 
its poor song being interpreted, call down maledictions 

1 Delle Whitney Norton. 8 John Greenleaf Whittier. 

3 Lark. 4 Linnet. 5 If. 


upon wanton ruthlessness ? The clever Galloway imitation 
and interpretation of the song runs 

Stane-chack ! 
Deevil tak ! 

They wha harry my nest 
Will never rest, 
Will meet the pest ! 
De'il brack their lang back 
Wha my eggs wad tak, tak ! 

Such creatures as are fortunate enough to be regarded 
as omens of good fortune, shelter as a whole under the 
protection of man. As the Stork is welcomed to the chimney 
tops of Holland, the Swallow and House Martin are welcomed 
to our eaves; for ever since the days when the swallow kind 
was under the direct guardianship of the household gods, 
the destruction of a Swallow's nest has brought ill-fortune, 
as assuredly as the undisturbed settling of the Swallow 
has brought good luck to the inhabitants of the house it 
selects : 

Bid the sacred swallow haunt his eaves 
To guard his roof from lightening and from thieves. 

Spiders have been spared because the slaying of them 
was said to bring rain on the succeeding day; and an insect 
superstition of the Highlands shows how specific maybe the 
protection or condemnation of a tradition. The boys of the 
Highlands, says J. G. Campbell in his Superstitions of the 
Highlands and Islands of Scotland, when they see a Ceardalan 
or "Dung-beetle" spare it, while they mercilessly kill the 
Daolagm "Clock" beetle. And the reason, they will tell you, 
is that when the former was asked by the man who went to 
seize the Saviour, how long" it was since He had passed, the 
Dung-beetle answered "twenty years ago yesterday," but 
the latter said "only yesterday." Hence when boys hammer 
life out of a "clock" they chant: 

Remember yesterday, yesterday, 
Remember yesterday, wretch, 
Remember yesterday, yesterday, 
That let not the Son of God pass. 

I must not be taken as suggesting that Dung-beetles are 
more plentiful than "Clocks" in the Highlands owing to the 


prevalence of such a superstition, for the efficiency of 
protection or destruction depends on its intensity relative to 
the numbers of the species concerned, and it would take 
much fortuitous slaughter to affect the insect hordes. But 
nevertheless superstition and the side winds bf religious 
cults have had a real effect in protecting, throughout the 
world, certain creatures to which legend and tradition have 
added new associations of piety or reverence, of awe or 



Nature's road must ever be preferr'd ; 
Reason is here no guide, but still a guard. 


MAN pays little heed to that balance of Nature which has 
arisen out of centuries of struggle and competition, and 
which makes the fauna and flora of an old but uncivilized 
country established and stable. When the immigrant reaches 
the new country of his hopes, across the ocean, he refuses to 
take the experiments of Nature for granted, and sometimes 
forgetting that new soils, new climates, and new associations of 
living things demand a new outlook and require new treatment, 
he proceeds to transform the new found land to the pattern of 
the old. This transformation, which may proceed to such 
lengths as radically to alter the general aspect of a fauna or 
a flora, progresses at first mainly by the introduction of 
plants and animals from the homeland. 

No sooner does man enter upon a new heritage than he 
endeavours to keep alive the memories of home by surround- 
ing himself with the familiar flowers, beasts, birds and fishes 
of the old country, irrespective of their fitness to survive in 
fresh conditions, or of the fitness of the aboriginal fauna to 
assimilate them without ill effects. Why else, do you think, 
did the early immigrants to New Zealand set free in the 
bush the British Robin Redbreast, the Bullfinch, the Green- 
finch, the Turtle Dove, the Lapwing and half a dozen other 
old favourites? Further, the immigrant's amusement must 
be capered for by the establishment of animals whose sport- 
ing qualities he knows. So the Trout of Loch Leven has 
been placed in rivers half the world over, Rabbits and 
Hares, Pheasants and Partridges, have been transported to 
Australia and- New Zealand, Blackgame to Newfoundland 

R. - 16 


and British Columbia, and in New Zealand even the Red 
Deer and the Moose have been set at liberty. Lastly, he 
needs must be ministered to by the domestic creatures and 
cultivated crops which stood him in good stead in his earlier 
home. The habit of transportation of animals is older 
than the Neolithic invasions of Britain, and to-day trans- 
oceanic trade has become a constant factor in the home 
breeding of stock. 

Often the introductions are successful and turn out to 
be of the greatest value. How much poorer Europe would 
be did it lack the domestic animals of the East and the 
American potato and tomato; how much poorer America, 
with its domestic stock limited to its native llamas, and 
without the wheat, rye and oats, the pears and apples, the 
hemp and 'flax which reached it from Europe after Columbus 
had pointed the way. Still more is the prosperity of the 
"new countries" bound up with man's power of trying afresh 
the successful experiments of the old countries. The sheep 
and cattle, the sugar-cane and wheat of Australia; the wheat 
and wool of New Zealand; Canada's grain crops, her flocks 
and her herds ; all of them are foreign to the lands they have 
made prosperous, one and all man has brought them to the 
new soil and tended them to new fruitfulness. 

Not all the experiments of introduction have been so suc- 
cessful as those just mentioned. There have been many 
failures. Often conditions of soil and climate, of food, or of 
relationship to the original inhabitants, prove too trying to the 
enforced immigrants and they or their few successors wither 
and die out. So it has been in Scotland, to cite only two 
examples, with the Reindeer and the Beaver, which have been 
allowed to run free in the hope that they would again make 
a permanent home in a country they once frequented ; and so 
it is with several of the foreign species of Trout with which 
time and again attempts have been made to stock our rivers 
and lochs. So it has been also in New Zealand with the 
Bullfinch, the Turtle Dove, the Robin Redbreast, the Grey 
Linnet, the Lapwing, and the Partridge. 

On the other hand, sometimes the results of such an 
experiment outrun the expectations or wishes of its origin- 
ator, so that its success becomes a measure of its harmfulness 
and an index to the rashness of man in endeavouring to 


improve upon the establishments of nature. Of many 
instances, one need only recall the notorious case of the 
introduction of one animal after another to Australia, to the 
annoyance of the farmer and the detriment of the country. 
Brought from Somerset by some well-meaning individual, 
four pairs of Rabbits were set free in the neighbourhood of 
Geelong in 1858. They found conditions so favourable, and 
multiplied so rapidly, that already in 1875 an Act was 
passed in New South Wales to encourage their extermina- 
tion. Recently as many as 20,000 have been destroyed in 
one or two days at a poison trap ; it was estimated that in 
1917 the export of rabbit flesh to the United Kingdom from 
New South Wales would amount to 1,250,000 crates con- 
taining 30,000,000 individuals; the country is overrun, and 
the destruction of grass is so great that the average stock 
of sheep in New South Wales has fallen off by many millions 
during the last quarter of a century. To keep the Rabbits 
in check, Foxes were introduced and encouraged. They too 
have so increased in numbers and are so destructive to lambs 
that the Vermin Act of 1914 imposes on every landholder 
the duty of killing them. In the year 1915-16, 679 were 
slain. As a further check upon the Rabbits, Dogs, which 
also had been introduced, were largely employed, but they, 
too, having become wild, and with increased numbers having 
developed a taste for domestic flesh, have fallen under the 
ban of legislation, so that under the Vermin Acts of 1912 
and 1914, rewards have been paid in New South Wales alone 
for the slaughter of 75,000 wild Dogs. 


The case of the Rabbit in Australia is only one of 
many similar cases, and it does no more thaa represent in 
extreme the result of any successful experiment in foisting 
an alien beneficiary upon a native fauna, which has settled 
its differences and has become established as regards the 
inter-relations of its own members and the food supply of its 

Should alien stock be introduced with success the animal 
life of a country alters appreciably, in so far as the import 
is conspicuous or increases greatly in numbers or comes 

1 6 2 


into direct relationship with man. To-day we could not 
exist without our introduced domestic creatures, which in 
number far exceed the original population of large wild 
animals they have replaced. We who are not farmers 
would regret the disappearance of the Rabbit from the hill- 
sides, or of the Pheasant from the coverts ; we who are not 
foresters would miss the gambollings of the Squirrel, or the 
solid presence of the Capercaillie in the woodlands. Yet even 
these mild exotic pleasures are bought at a price. After 
all, the food supply of a country, so far as most wild creatures 
are concerned, is almost a fixed quantity, and the total 
amount of animal life in a country depends upon the quantity 
of vegetation available throughout the year, for even carni- 
vorous creatures ultimately depend upon the vegetation 
which nourishes the herbivores. If then additions are made 
to the native animal life, by so much as the imports consume 
is the food of the native stock diminished. Thus arises a 
struggle between the aboriginal population and the new- 
comers, a struggle which spreads from food to living spaces 
and breeding sites, and which is none the less real because 
in its earlier stages it is almost imperceptible. 

The results of the contest are clear enough in most 
countries. It may be that the introduction obtains a pre- 
carious foothold and lives, as it were on the crumbs that fall 
from the rich native's table, without seriously affecting the 
creatures into whose environment it has dropped, or that it taps 
a source of food supply hitherto almostunused, as the Squirrel 
did in feeding upon the growing shoots of Scottish pine 
trees. But an unobtrusive existence is the exception, and 
either the newcomer finds the struggle for food too severe 
and declines in health and numbers, until it disappears from 
the fauna it invaded ; or, as often happens, it becomes firmly 
established, and increasing the difficulties of those old races of 
residenters upon whose food supply it trenches, causes the 
weaker of them to languish and to forsake the invaded 
districts, and finally, driven from one stronghold to another, 
even to succumb to the new and unaccustomed competition. 

Frequently the introduction of strange animals to a new 
land has a more immediate and more noticeable effect 
on the native fauna. For man in transporting creatures for 
his own purposes often seems to forget that their nature, 


and not his desires, will remain their guiding law. So the 
Stoats and Weasels taken from Great Britain to New Zealand 
to check the spread of the Rabbit, having surfeited on rabbit 
diet, promptly turned to the flightless Kiwis arid have brought 
them and other small natives to the brink of extermination 
an ignoble work in which they have been strongly abetted 
by the wild descendants of the Pigs introduced by Captain 
Cook on two occasions in 1773, and by the Cats, Dogs and 
Rats of later importation. The creatures set loose in Australia 
to police the rabbit warrens have themselves become poachers, 
and the unique native ground fauna of Australia, as well as 
the shepherd's flocks, has suffered severely. The Macaque 
Monkeys introduced to Mauritius by the Portuguese have 
all but exterminated Mayer's Pigeon (Nesaenas mayeri], 
whose nests, eggs and young they destroy. 

Scotland furnishes many illustrations of these varying 
results of the introduction of new animals; but since, even 
in countries colonized in comparatively recent years, there 
is already insuperable difficulty in tracing the steps of the 
spread or decline of an introduction, it is natural to suppose 
that the existing records of Scottish experiments, some of 
them carried out hundreds of years ago, would furnish 
only hints for a story rather than a detailed history. 

For the sake of imposing some arrangement upon what 
are after all results of a medley of human whims, I shall 
consider the introductions in three groups in sequence of 
their human importance ; the first comprising those animals 
which man brought, thinking of his own welfare, the second 
those which he brought for the ends of sport, the last those 
which he set free for a variety of reasons or for no reason 
at all, but mainly for his amusement or his pleasure. 

V. i 


THE utilities to which man has paid regard in acclimatizing 
new animals cover a wide range, but they may be said 
broadly to depend either on the value of the animal in itself, 
that is to say on the products it yields when alive or after its 
death, or on the work it can do, whether that be the artificial 
but efficient labour resulting from years of man's guidance 
and training, or the instinctive habit of the creature, which 
in following its own law of life benefits also the race of man. 
Chief amongst the useful animals in these groups must 
rank the races of domestic stock, for human existence as it 
is would be impossible without the flesh of flocks and herds 
and the warm wool of sheep and goats, and intolerable 
without the services of the ox, the horse and the dog. The 
introduction to Scotland of the more interesting domestic 
animals has been sufficiently touched upon in the chapter 
dealing with their domestication. It is enough to add that 
the acclimatization of domestic stock is a human operation 
of wide significance. Scarcely a country is known, but man 
has planted there his ox and his ass, his swine and his sheep, 
always to the checking and restriction of the native fauna, 
and sometimes even to the extermination of its weaker 
elements. Indeed, in several of the island faunas, such as 
that of New Zealand or of the Canary Islands, the introduced 
domestic stock far outnumbers in variety, and in absolute 
numbers entirely swamps the native mammalian species of 
the land. With the advance of knowledge as to the stamina 
of different breeds and crosses, the work of acclimatizing 
old animals to new localities progresses with more lively 
assurance than ever. The climatic conditions of Alaska have 
proved so trying to the introduced old-fashioned domestic 
stock that a new breed of dattle a cross between the 


Thibetan Yak and Galloway Cattle. is being created at the 
experimental station to supply the need for unusual hardiness, 
for already crosses between the Yak and the domestic cattle 
of the East have proved of great service in Turkestan and 
other parts of Asia. 


Apart from the introduced domestic animals, the most 
important creature to have been planted in Scotland from 
foreign parts simply for the sake of its yield, is the Rabbit. 
Its universal presence belies its alien blood, and one would 
scarcely associate with its homely and unassuming aspect 
the interest of its history. It is generally held by naturalists 
that the Common Rabbit (Oryctolagus (Lepus) cuniculus], 
as we know it to-day, spread from the south-western portions 
of Europe bordering upon the Mediterranean Sea, an area 
to which it had been relegated by the severities of the Ice 
Age. From these regions, partly by natural roving, much 
more by the deliberate influenceof man, the Rabbit has spread 
over the western and central countries of Europe, and from 
there it has been transported to the uttermost ends of the 

At what period the Rabbit was re-established in Britain 
after its extermination during the Glacial Period, is a matter 
of great uncertainty. In Scotland its bones have been found 
amongst the debris of the kitchen-middens of Neolithic and 
later times, as well as in the upper layers of cave deposits ; 
but little weight need be attached to these occurrences, for 
the Rabbit is a burrower and a vandal which makes short 
cuts through the neat layers and classifications of the ex- 
cavator, so that a contemporary of our own might rest its 
.bones by the side of the long extinct Mammoth to the con- 
founding of interpreters of the past. 

As a matter of fact, testimony points strongly to the 
absence of the Rabbit in prehistoric Britain. In Scotland its 
remains are absent from the bone deposits which have been 
found deep below the surface, beyond the reach of modern 
burrows. Julius Caesar mentions the occurrence in Britain of 
the Hare, the Hen and the Goose, but omits the Rabbit. Nor 
was it introduced by the Romans as is commonly believed. 


It is not represented in the remains of the Roman settle- 
ments at Newstead on the Tweed, nor at Inveresk near 
Musselburgh, and the single jaw of a young individual which 
I examined from Traprain Law in Haddingtonshire, was 
almost certainly recent, for burrows penetrated Ihe kitchen- 
midden in all directions. 

There are no pre- Norman allusions to the Rabbit in 
Britain; it has no native name in the English or Celtic 
languages; and warrens are not mentioned in Domesday 
Book. We are therefore justified in assuming that it did not 
occur, at any rate as a wild animal, in Britain even in the 
eleventh century. 

The earliest name by which it is known in English histori- 
cal records is "cony " or "coney," a name clearly derived from 
a Norman-French word, the plural of which was "coniz" or 
"conis," becoming in English "conys" or "conies, "and in the 
singular "cony" and "conic." It seems probable then that 
we are indebted for the introduction of the Rabbit to the 
Norman Conquest a supposition strengthened by the fre- 
quent and steadily increasing references to the animal after 
the twelfth century. 

The sole object of its introduction was utility, since at 
no time has the Rabbit been considered worthy the lance 
of the true sportsman; for, said the irreproachable author 
of The Master of Game (MS. Bodl. 546) in the fifteenth 
century, "Of conies I do not speak, for no man hunteth 
them unless it be bish hunters [fur hunters] and they hunt 
them with ferrets and with long small hayes [i.e. nets]." Not- 
withstanding The Master of Game, Bishop Leslie tells us 
that in sixteenth century Scotland Rabbits and Hares were 
hunted by special dogs. But if their sporting qualities were 
limited, the value of their flesh for food and their skins for 
fur was apparent, and these first led to their encouragement 
and rapid dispersal. As Reyce put it in 1 6 1 8 in The Breviary 
of Suffolk: 

Of the harmlesse Conies, which do delight naturally to make their aboad 
here,... their great increase, with rich profitt for all good housekeepers, hath 
made every one of any reckoning to prepare fitt harbour for them, with 
great welcome and entertainment. 

An excellent summary of the history of the Rabbit in 
England, will be found in Barrett- Hamilton and Hinton's 


History of British Mammals, from which the above quo- 
tations are taken. Here I shall confine myself to a few 
extracts from the old laws and descriptions of Scotland 
indicating the progress made by the Rabbit in its conquest 
.north of the Tweed. Whether it was here introduced direct 
from the Continent or made its way through England is 
difficult to decide, but the earliest records indicate that in 
the thirteenth century it was as common in North as in 
South Britain, and suggest, therefore, that its introduction 
must have been almost contemporaneous in both countries, 
and may have been independent in each. In this connection 
it must be remembered, as Prof. Hume Brown has pointed 
out, that even in the reign of David I, from 1124 to 1153, 
the Norman element, which had already played an import- 
ant part in Scottish affairs, became predominant at the court 
and in the councils of the Scottish monarch. It is not 
at all unlikely that this friendship may have led to the 
beginning of a secondary Norman conquest of Scotland by 
the introduction of the Norman-bred and Norman-titled 
" cony." 

Be that as it may, the earliest unmistakeable references 
in historical records to the occurrence of Rabbits in England 
seems to be that noted by Prof. Rogers, recording the pay- 
ment of 2\d. at Waleton in 1272 for the taking of Conies 
and Partridges with Hawk, Dog and Ferret ; and the report 
to Edward I in 1 274 regarding the produce of Lundy Island, 
where the " taking of rabbits is estimated at 2000, $ IDS." 
and the estimate is at " 55. 6d. each hundred skins, because 
the flesh is not sold." 

But before this time the value of rabbit-warrens had 
become well known in Scotland, and to others than the 
proprietors, for even in the reign of Alexander II (1214- 
1249), it was found necessary to protect the royal warrens 
by statute, the penalty for trespass being death and confis- 
cation of property. I n the succeeding reign, of Alexander III 
(1249-1286), the keeper of the warren at Crail in Fifeshire 
was paid a salary of i6s. Sal. from the royal purse for his 
services during the year 1264. The King's Chamberlain's 
accounts of 1329 show that he paid a sum of 8s. to four 
men for crossing to the Isle of May, at the mouth of 
the Firth of Forth, to catch Rabbits; and David II, who 


reigned from 1329 to 1371, granted the keeper of the 
warrens in Fife, William Herwart, a charter in life-rent of 
the office of Keeper of the King's Muir in Crail and of its 
" cuningare " or warren, his salary being 40^. a year. 

It should be explained that in early times 'the word 
"cony" (or some modification of it), alone was in use, and 
that even when the diminutive term " rabbit " or " rabette " 
was introduced in the fourteenth century, it was applied 
only to the young. "The Conie...beareth hyr Rabettes xxx 
dayes, and then kindeleth" (The Noble Arte of Venerie or 
Hunting, 1575). 

Already in the fifteenth century, the Rabbit had made 
good its introduction and become a recognized article of 
commerce in Scotland. In 1424 a law was passed exacting 
a custom of \id. on every 100 "cuning" skins exported, and 
in 1457 a further degree of protection was afforded the 
animal, the destroying of " cunings " in time of snow being 
made a point of dittay or criminal prosecution. It is quite 
clear that at this early date, the Rabbit was established 
throughout a wide extent of the country. The Rental Book 
of Cupar Abbey shows that in 1474 the Abbey possessed a 
"warander of kunynyare" or keeper of the warren, and in 
the following year, Gilbert Ra or Rae undertook to keep for 
the Abbey the " conyngar [warren] fra all scaith and peryl, 
and promoofe and put that to all profit at [h]is powar." 
Even in the smaller islands of Orkney it flourished, and as 
we learn from a Rental Book of the Earldom dated 1497- 
1 503, formed part of the rental in kind paid to the Earl 
the links of " Dernes, Burra, North Sandwick, Pappa prope 
Westray, and Sanday," combining to supply annually "114 
cunnings," and "1274 cunningis skinnis." 

The sixteenth century marked a notable increase in the 
interest taken in the Rabbit both by the public and the law. 
The value of a warren contributed not a little to the "common 
good" of a township, so that the introduction of Rabbits to a 
suitable piece of waste ground was to be desired wherever 
they could be " gudly had." Already the common warren of 
Aberdeen, "cunicularium de Abirdene," was in full activity on 
the links to the south of Don-mouth, near the "Gallowhills," 
as we learn from a casual reference to its site in a charter 
of James IV to the Provost and Baillies of the Burgh in 1583. 


The value of the warrens gave rise to a series of laws 
dealing with offences against their "breakirs." In 1503 it 
was ordained that stealing of "cunings" was to be a point of 
"dittay," or criminal prosecution, the " unlaw " being iO', 
and in 1551, in consequence of "the great and exhorbitant 
dearth, "young Rabbits were given protection for three years, 
except from noblemen with Hawks, the law demanding 
" That na maner of persoun tak upone hand to slay ony 
Lapronis," lapron or laprinn being a common Old Scots 
term for a young Rabbit. At this time, the price of a 
Rabbit was fixed by a long forgotten food controller : 
"Item, the cunning 2 shillings unto the feast of Fastens 
evin [Shrove Tuesday] next to cum, and fra thine furth 
twelve pennies " equivalent to the price of a brace of 
Blackcock, while the " best Lapron " fetched only zd. 

Nevertheless the success of the Rabbit's introduction 
proved a burden even in the early days of the century ; 
witness the grievance of " Schir Robert Egew, Chaiplan 
to My Lord Sinclair" who complains in 1511, "Ther wilbe 
our [over] mony cunningis [:] with[in] twa yeir thai have 
riddillit all the erdis of the Linkis richt weille." 

Perhaps nothing illustrates the progress of the Rabbit 
in the sixteenth century so strikingly as its wide distri- 
bution among the islands of Scotland. In 1529 "Jo. Ben." 
in his slovenly Latin, describes its abundance in the Orkney 
Islands : in the parish of Sandwick, in the uninhabited isle 
of Lambholme, where many Rabbits were slain by men of 
other islands, and in Sanday, where in winter the Rabbits 
became so tame, owing most likely to overstocking and 
consequent lack of food, that they were caught in the houses 
of the people. Monro found similar evidence of great 
numbers in the Hebrides: on Mull, on "Inche Kenzie...full 
of cunings about the shores of it," and on " Sigrain-moir- 
Magoinein, that is to say the Cuninges ile, quherin ther 
are many cuninges," as well as in the 'Orkneys on "ane 
little iyle, with a chapel in it, callit Cavay." And Von 
Wedel, a German nobleman and traveller, remarked upon 
the many Rabbits of the Bass Rock when he visited the 
Lowlands of Scotland in 1584. 

It is unnecessary to enter into" further detail regarding 
the spread of the Rabbit within our borders, for with the 


increase of travelling and of written descriptions of the country 
in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the evidence be- 
comes unwieldy, and each item in itself of less significance in 
the general movement. The trend of the evidence is none 
the less clear that the Rabbit continued to spread more and 
more rapidly, partly through natural migration and still more 
by deliberate introduction or transportation to new areas. 
There are records of the planting of many fresh colonies in 
the latter half of the eighteenth century, while some counties, 
such as Kincardineshire, did not know the Rabbit until its 
deposition there in the first quarter of the nineteenth 

Two factors made for its success and rapid increase in 
the later centuries : first, the great strides which have taken 
place in the improvement of agriculture and in the con- 
sequent increase of the yield of the soil, for the increase of 
the farmer's crops is an increase of the Rabbit's food; and 
second, the growing attention paid to the preservation of 
sporting animals, and the consequent destruction of the very 
creatures which kept the Rabbit (as well as the Pheasant 
and the Grouse) in check the Fox, the Polecat, Stoat and 
Weasel, the Eagles and Hawks, and in more distant days, 
the Wolf. 

So it is that even at the end of the eighteenth century we 
find it established throughout most of the mainland and in the 
islands from the Lowland counties of Berwick and Rox- 
burgh, Dumfries and Ayrshire, through the midlands of 
Fife, Clackmannan, Kinross and Stirling to the wilds of 
Perth and Argyll, Easter Ross, Sutherland and Caithness. 
Many of the writers in the Old Statistical Account (1792-8) 
describe it as "rare" or as a newcomer, but in some places it 
was very common. About this time, at the warren of Dowally 
near Dunkeld, the tacksman killed a yearly average of 125 
dozen; in one year at Stromness 36,000 rabbit skins were 
sold, at $>d, each ; and in the last century as many as 200,000 
skins have been sold in a winter at Dumfries (see also under 
"Destruction," p. 166). 

Need more be said to prove the success of the introduc- 
tion of the Rabbit from the point of view of acclimatization ? 
Perhaps only that its firm establishment and increase in 
number have made it so destructive to crops that in 1917 a 


Government "Rabbits Order" was found necessary, giving 
Local Agricultural Committees power to authorize any person 
to kill rabbits wherever they have become a nuisance. 


It must not be supposed that a far-reaching introduction, 
such as that of the Rabbit, stands by itself. Like a stone 
cast in a placid pool, it gives rise to ripples of influence of 
first, second, third one cannot tell how distant degree, 
spreading one cannot tell to what depth and extent. Thus 
numbers of Rabbits alter to a remarkable degree the vegeta- 
tion of the districts they infest, changing the nature as well 
as the amount of plant life, as Mr E. P. Farrow clearly 
shows in a well illustrated paper in the Journal of Ecology 
for March 1917. This change in vegetation in turn affects 
the animals, mammals and birds, insects arid other inverte- 
brates. Some disappear and their places are filled by -new- 
comers, while others of the old residenters flourish and 
multiply under the new conditions. 

In yet another way, Rabbits influence their co-habitants in 
a region. There is, for example, a definite connection between 
over-abundance of Rabbits and scarcity of Hares, or between 
the appearance of Rabbits and the of Hares. 
It is quite likely that the general decrease of the Common 
Hare in Scotland, a decrease which has been noticed for many 
years, may be due in part to the increase of the Rabbit in 
recent times. Local Scottish instances of this relationship 
are known ; but an Australian example offers more simple 
and direct evidence. A writer in The Field for 26th May 
1917 states that Hares, introduced into Australia, were at 
one time so abundant in the district of Goulburn in New 
South Wales that drives had to be arranged to keep their 
numbers in check as many as 800 on occasion being killed- 
in a single day. At that time Rabbits had not yet reached 
Goulburn from the region of Geelong, where four couples 
had been liberated by settlers about 1858. As the Rabbits 
spread over the intervening 400 miles, the Hares began to 
disappear, until after the extraordinary increase of the 
Rabbit, few were left. Yet so soon as rabbit-fencing was 
put up, and the enclosed areas, sometimes covering several 


square miles of country, were cleared of the pest, Hares made 
their way within the fences and there became numerous 
again. The apparent antipathy between the two rodents 
has a simple explanation, for it is due to the fouling by many 
Rabbits of grass and herbage, which thus becoYne quite un- 
palatable to Hares. I have no doubt that careful observation 
of the smaller inhabitants of a rabbit-infested region would 
show that besides these, many faunal changes have been 
caused by the influence of this hardy importation. 


Fortunately for man's welfare, not all the animals which 
he introduces, take possession of the land of their adoption 
as the Rabbit has done. What dreams of swelling numbers 
and profitable herds accompanied the reintroduction of the 
Reindeer to Scotland, I do not know, but it is certain that 
the dreams, such as they were, have come to naught. Why 
this should be is difficult to say, especially as native Reindeer 
survived for long in the northern counties, and as suitable 
food seems to be sufficiently common on many moors. Be 
this as it may, no fewer than fourteen Reindeer were brought 
to Dunkeld and released by the Duke of Athole on the hills 
of Athole at different times in the eighteenth century, and 
of these only one survived for two years. Similar attempts 
to establish them in the Forest of Mar in Aberdeenshire 
and in the Orkney Isles have been equally unsuccessful. I 
do not of course refer to the preservation of such examples 
as are to be seen in the Park of the Zoological Society at 
Corstorphine near Edinburgh (Fig. 58, p. 339), where young 
Reindeer have been born and successfully reared, for there 
the animals are strictly tended and dieted, and cannot be 
regarded as surviving on their own merits, or as forming 
an addition to our fauna. 

Similar failure met Sir Arthur Grant's attempts to ac- 
climatize the American Wapiti Deer at Monymusk in 
Aberdeenshire, where in the nineties of last century they 
could be distinguished by their large size and fine antlers. 
Although they seemed to thrive well and crossed freely with 
the native Red Deer, the stock finally died out. A like fate 
has befallen the Virginian Deer introduced into Arran about 


1832 (see p. 287), but their importation and that of the 
Wapiti were measures of amenity rather than of utility. 


It is strange with what persistence Nature has mocked 
man's efforts to introduce new creatures in any country for 
the sake of their usefulness, domestic animals apart. I have 
already alluded to the unfortunate results of the introduction 

Fig. 48. Little Owl an introduction to Britain which has become a nuisance, f nat. size. 

of Hares and Rabbits to Australia, and the equally disastrous 
effects which followed upon the setting free of Foxes and the 
escape of Dogs. In New Zealand a somewhat similar series 
of disasters met man's efforts. Introduced Rabbits multiplied 
and became a pest which cleared the ground of cultivated 
crops. Ferrets, Stoats and Weasels were released to destroy 
them, and themselves attacked the native fauna and the 
flocks of sheep. In New Zealand, as in Australia and 
America, the common House Sparrow has been set free 
to destroy the hosts of insect pests brought into existence 
by cultivation; but in all these countries, the Sparrow 


has multiplied at an alarming rate, and having shown a 
strong and increasing preference for grain, has become a 
vagabond and outlaw, whose death is sought at a price by 
agricultural councils, municipal authorities and governments. 
The Common Starling, introduced to Australia and New 
Zealand, has fallen into similar evil ways, for the settler, 
hoping to make an end of his insect pests, little thought that 
his protege would make a beginning with fruit. 

Has not Nature also mocked us in this country in the 
case of the introduction of the Little Owl (Athene noctua] 
(Fig. 48, p. 255)? Brought by Lord Lilford from Holland in 
the eighties of last century, and set free in Northamptonshire 
to rid country belfries of sparrows and bats, and fields of mice, 
and by Mr E. G. B. Meade- Waldo to Kent in 1874 and 
later, the Little Owl in a few years has spread into all the 
neighbouring counties and to some far away. It has even 
reached Scotland, where in 1912 one was shot at East Grange 
in Fifeshire. And everywhere it has betrayed its trust and, 
hawking by day, has destroyed Warblers, Finches, and 
Thrushes, and has been convicted of stealing the young 
of Pheasants and Partridges from the coverts, and chickens 
from the poultry yard. 


Why should these unlooked for and destructive results 
so uniformly greet the efforts to introduce, for the sake of 
their utility, new elements into a fauna? Such misfortunes 
do not dog the introduction of domestic animals or of animals 
introduced for purposes of sport. The reason is connected 
with food supply, and seems in part to be this : When animals 
are introduced for utility's sake, they are required in large 
numbers, and are encouraged to breed. It comes about, 
therefore, that if climate and conditions are suitable the 
foreigners multiply with rapidity, and the result is either 
that the food supply relied upon to support them falls short 
of requirements, or that increasing competition drives the 
aliens to try a new food which in the end, usually to the 
dismay of the farmer, they come to prefer. Domestic animals 
are in as great or greater numbers than the introduced pests, 
but then careful provision is made by cultivation for their 
food supply, and their tastes are given no opportunity to 


wander. Sporting animals on the other hand, are not en- 
couraged to multiply to the same extent, and the very reason 
of their introduction almost certainly insures that the breed- 
ing stock will be periodically reduced within reasonable 


All cases of utility importations, however, are not failures. 
Where a balance is struck between natural food-supply and 
numbers, an easy-going adaptation results. In 1911, forty 
Reindeer were introduced into the Pribilof Islands off Alaska. 
These thrived and by 1914 had increased in number to 150; 
but soon the increase must cease for the supply of lichens is 
limited, and more Reindeer might mean the loss of all. The 
Honey Bee was imported into New Zealand in 1842 and 
has flourished ; for the white clover previously introduced, 
which had never seeded till the Bee was brought to fertilize 
it, alone would have supplied abundance of food. So too with 
the Humble Bee: for long the imported red clover bloomed 
in New Zealand fields, but the flowers were sterile, and the 
settlers had to bring their red clover seed from overseas. 
Then the Humble Bee was introduced, and Humble Bee 
and red clover struck a working balance the red clover, 
fertilized by the visits of the Humble Bee, now ripens its 
seeds, and the Humble Bee thrives on the red clover's 
stores of honey. 

Of equal interest are the extraordinarily successful results 
which have followed upon the introduction to California of 
another fertilizer the Fig Insect (Blastophaga grossoruni), 
a small Hymenopteronbelonging tothe family of the Chalcids. 
For ten years a Californian orchard-owner grew figs with 
uniform ill success. Doubting the quality of his stocks, he 
then imported cuttings of Smyrna figs from their native home 
in Asia Minor; but this too proved an utter failure, and for 
fourteen more years his sixty-acre orchard never yielded 
any financial return. It was known that wild figs containing 
the Fig Insect were regularly placed in the Smyrna orchards. 
Mr Roeding therefore imported in quantities from Smyrna 
wild Capri figs containing Blastophaga alive, and at the 
time of the blossoming of the figs, hung the insect-laden wild 


figs amongst his Smyrna trees, in order that the female 
insects might enter the curious hollow flower-cluster of the 
figs, and in seeking a suitable place for the deposition of 
their eggs, might dust the seed flowers with pollen, and so 
cause the "fruit" to set and swell. The results fell as had 
been hoped : the tiny Fig Insects, imported from Asia Minor, 
visited and fertilized the hitherto sterile flowers ; the trees, 
unfruitful for fourteen years, blossomed and were fruitful; 
and in 1900 a first crop of Smyrna figs, 60 tons in 
weight, was obtained from a Californian orchard. Here no 
natural balance has been disturbed, for the introduced insects 
confine their attention solely to the figs introduced before 
them, and find in these their natural food, shelter and breed- 
ing places. 


In our own country, sport rather than utility has regula- 
ted the introduction of freshwater fishes (see p. 276), but in 
other countries they have been introduced towards the end of 
creating a profitable supply. California has been remark- 
ably successful in its endeavours to modify its fauna 
for commercial advantage. Between 1871 and 1880, Mr 
W. H. Shebley tells us in California Fish and Game for 
1917, as many as 619,000 Shad fry were imported from a 
hatchery in New York and turned down in the Sacramento 
River. As a result, the Shad (Alosa alabamae], a native of 
the Atlantic coastal waters of America, is now one of the 
commonest fishes in Californian waters. The introduction 
of Carp (Cyprinus carpio), a native of the rivers of China, 
has been equally successful, and this fish "will probably be- 
come one of the State's most valuable food fishes." It has, 
moreover, prepared the way for the Black Bass (Micropterus 
dolomieu\ which feeds upon it, and the successful introduc- 
tion of which from the rivers east of the Alleghany mountains 
is regarded as "one of the greatest feats of acclimatisation of 
new species offish in the history of fish culture." Yet even 
in successful California, there is a fly in the ointment, for the 
success of the alien Carp has involved the destruction of the 
Californian Perch, and the increase of the foreigner has been 
so phenomenal in the Chatauqua Lake that the water has 
become fouled and unfit for use. Even the savage Pikes and 


Muskelunges brought to the lake to exterminate the Carp 
have themselves fallen victims and have disappeared, and 
the Carp still flourish. 

For utilitarian purposes the gigantic Australian "Murray 
Co&" (Otigorusmacquariensis) and, about 1883, the Canadian 
Black Bass have been introduced into English rivers, but 
the experiments have met with no success. 

THE MEDICINAL LEECH (Hirudo medicinalis} 

The universal use of the Leech for blood-letting in the 
old days led to its abundant appearance in our own country. 
Sir J. Dalzell illustrated it in his Powers of the Creator 
(1853) from a Loch Leven specimen, and there are other 
records of its presence, for it is probable that many a doctor 
dropped his Leeches into a convenient pool, where he could 
readily find them again. But the Medicinal Leech has failed 
to gain a firm foothold. Its gradual elimination from use in 
medicine led to its disappearance, for the stock is no longer 
replenished and the pools where once it was common know 
it no more. 


I cannot close this section without mentioning a new de- 
velopment of scientific research, which promises on account 
of their utility to add many insects to old faunas. The 
typical results of this fresh method, however, are to be seen 
in America and on the continent of Europe rather than in 
this country. I refer to the introduction of insect counter- 
pests insects which at one stage or other feed upon some 
pest of cultivated crops. America has found special need 
for such destroyers. Records show that 407 introductions 
of foreign plants were made to the United States of 
America during the first three months of 1913, and the im- 
portations of field and garden plants from other countries 
exceed a thousand a year. With this great annual inflow of 
plants come their native pests, and these, unwittingly ad- 
mitted, have spread, in some cases with a rapidity beyond 
belief, since the new land may harbour no destroyer bird 
or insect such as kept the pest in check in its old country. 
This factor in the success of many accidentally introduced 



pests was soon diagnosed, and so long ago as 1860, the use 
of insect counter-pests had been tried, for the United States 
Census Report of that year states that the New York 
Agricultural Society " has introduced into this country from 
abroad certain parasites which Providence has created to 
counteract the destructive power of some of these depre- 

In recent years the introduction and use of counter-pests 
has been carried out with great skill and deliberation. Insects 
known to attack certain pests have been brought from their 
native land and reared, particularly in America, in such num- 
bers that they could be distributed wholesale to the affected 
areas. One or two examples will be sufficient to make clear 
the significance of such introductions at the hand of man. 

In 1868, in the early days of the Californian fruit-grow- 
ing industry, some young orange trees were brought from 
Australia to the neighbourhood of San Francisco. The trees 
were infested by an Australian Hemipterous insect the 
Fluted or Cottony Cushion Scale (Icerya purchasi\ a small 
inert-looking creature which subsists on the juices of the tree. 
For many years the pest worked 
unnoticed, and became so suc- 
cessfully acclimatized that by 1880 
it had spread all over the State, 
causing such terrible devastation in 
the orange groves of Southern Cali- 
fornia that in a single year the 
orange crop was reduced from 8000 
to 600 waggon loads. Such havoc 
was caused during the next eight 
years that Mr A. Koebele, an expert 
entomologist, was sent by the U nited 
States Department of Agriculture 
to Australia to find out by what 
means Nature there kept the Fluted 
Scale in check. Koebele found that 
a brilliant red and black Lady-bird 
Beetle {Vedalia cardinalis] preyed 
extensively upon the Scale, and some 500 specimens of the 
Lady-bird, carefully packed, were sent alive across the seas 
to California, where they were fed and tended. After a few 

Fig. 49. Cottony or White Scale 
being attacked by the Cardinal 
Lady-bird imported to America 
from Australia to combat it. 
(Twice natural size.) 


generations, it was found that they had increased so greatly 
in numbers that some could be distributed and set free in 
the hope that they would become naturalized and seek to 
feed, as they did in their own country, upon the Scale- 
insects. The result was a triumph for scientific investiga- 
tion, for the Australian Lady-birds settled comfortably down 
to their labours and multiplied so satisfactorily under natural 
conditions in the orange groves of California, that in a few 
years the increase of the Scale was checked, and ever since 
it has been held in subjection. Solely on account of its utility, 
this fine Lady-bird has been added, not only to the fauna of 
America, but, since its value there was tested and proved, 
to the faunas of South Africa and Egypt, where it has 
achieved similar excellent results. 

Other Lady-birds have been introduced into the United 
States to fight various Scale-insects, one of which, the San 
Jose Scale (Aspidiotus perniciosus}, first imported from 
China, caused terrible destruction in American orchards in 
the early nineties of last century. Careful observation 
showed that a Lady-bird (Chilocorus similis), common to 
China and Japan, was the most efficient counter to 
the Scale in its native haunts. A larval beetle has been 
seen to eat six Scales a minute, and, since it never seemed 
to weary of its repast, about 8000 a day. The Lady-birds 
were transported from the far East to the United States 
where they were bred, distributed and set free in great 
numbers, to the discomfiture of the Pernicious Scale. 
This introduction, however, finally died out in its new 

A last and more recent illustration of the influence of 
the counter-pest method in adding to a country's inhabit- 
ants is that concerning the Mulberry Scale of Japan (Aulq- 
caspis pentagona}. This Hemipterous insect, like other 
Scales, attacks the outer surface of trees, which it pierces 
in order to abstract the plant juices within. It is almost an 
omnivorous pest, for in a limited area it has been found on 
as many as 50 different kinds of trees, but its greatest dam- 
age is worked on peach-trees, plum-trees, and in southern 
Europe on mulberry trees. From Japan the Mulberry Scale 
has been carried on young trees to all parts of the world, 
and in most countries it has become naturalized and has 


recommenced its evil work: in Asia it has spread from Japan 
to Ceylon ; it has reached Australia and the islands of the 
Pacific; in America it has made its home from Canada, the 
United States and isles of the West Indies to Brazil and 
Argentina. In Europe it is mainly confined to the southern 
countries, especially France and Italy, though in 1898 it 
made an appearance in England, where it was speedily sup- 
pressed owing to the energetic action of Professor R. New- 
stead. In infected countries many methods have been tried 
to check the plague, but the most efficient is undoubtedly 
that of a counter-pest, parasitic upon the Scale, which has 
been recently bred by A. Berlese from material in Italy. In 
the efficiency of this tiny Hymenopterous insect, belonging 
to the family of the small active Chalcids, and known after 
its discoverer as Prospaltella berlesei, great faith has been 
placed, for in Italy large trees, entirely covered with Mulberry 
Scales within the bodies of which the larvae of Prospaltella 
live and feed, have been completely cleared in eighteen 
months. The efficiency of the parasite is increased by its 
fertility, for Prospaltella is said to have in a year four or 
five generations of females, each of which lays about 100 
eggs so that the potential progeny of one individual at 
the end of a season lies between one hundred millions and 
ten thousand millions. The Chalcid is distributed in in- 
fected districts on mulberry twigs bearing Scales parasitized 
by the counter-pest, and these twigs are attached to the 
branches of scaly trees. 

It was little wonder, then, that Uruguay, troubled with 
the Mulberry Scale, should apply in 1913 to Italy for a supply 
of her Chalcids. These were sent; they survived and 
thrived, spread and colonized the land. Thence in 1914 
some of the Chalcids were transported to the Argentine, 
where Mulberry Scale had made its appearance some ten 
years before. The extent of man's influence in adding 
new species to a fauna for utilitarian ends may be judged 
from the statistics of the National Commission nominated 
by the Argentine Ministry of Agriculture for the express 
purpose of establishing Prospaltella berlesei. From June 
to mid-September 1916, 4650 fruit-growers in Argentina 
applied for the parasitized twigs, and received in all over 
530,000 twigs, each of which bore many individuals of the 


Chalcid parasite buried in the noxious Scales. In three years 
a total of 3,000,000 twigs have been distributed in Argentina 
alone, and the Commission considers \h2&Prospaltella berlesei 
has now been so satisfactorily and plentifully established as 
to check the invasion of the Mulberry Scale. 

So successful have been the results of the introduction of 
counter-pests in many foreign lands, that sooner or later con- 
servative Britain, when it has awakened to the value of 
scientific methods, may be led to forsake its easy policy 
of laissezfaire, and to add a few benefactors to the host of 
pernicious insects it has already allowed to be added to the 
native fauna. In this hope the above illustrations of the 
value of counter-pests have been inserted here. 

V. 2 


A FAMILIAR tradition regards sport as one of the chief 
ends of the Briton's existence. It is not surprising therefore 
to find that attempts have been made to establish many 
creatures in order that their subsequent pursuit may afford 
the primitive pleasures of the chase. 

In most parts of Scotland the sly Fox is destroyed by 
fair means or foul, for too well is it known that 

There's a tod aye "blinkin' when the nicht comes doon. 

But in several districts of South Britain, Foxes and Badgers 
also, are actually imported from the Continent and from 
Scotland, and are set free to establish themselves in the 
hope that the hunt may benefit thereby. 

The large Red Deer of Germany have been imported and 
released in western Ross-shire to mend the breed of their 
degenerate Scottish relatives, but it is doubtful if their in- 
fluence will long survive those harder conditions of life, which 
have adversely affected the size and quality of the Scottish 


Birds, however, supply the most striking examples of the 
influence on our fauna of sporting introductions. Take the 
Common Pheasant. It has long since spread over the whole 
countryside; its long tail may be seen gliding through 
almost any covert, and its harsh crow is familiar to every 
dweller in the country. It is a great insect destroyer, yet it 
has turned to the crops of field and garden, and in some 
places has caused such destruction that it has been threatened 
with capital punishment by the law, for permission has been 
given to tenants to shoot at sight game damaging their 


Who would imagine that this moderately common bird, 
at home in our woods and thickets, eating the wild and 
cultivated produce of the land with the zest of a native, 
could be a stranger of strangers ? Yet so it seems to be, for 
tradition says that the Pheasant's home is in far Colchis, on 
the banks of the river Phasis in Asia Minor. Nevertheless 
tradition may be wrong, for the fact that fossil remains of 
several species of Pheasant have been found in prehistoric 
deposits in Europe, suggests that the Common Pheasant 
(Phasianus colchicus] may have originated nearer home. 
Its remains, however, have not been found in any early 
deposit in this country, and the oldest record, from the 
station at Silchester, points to its connection with the 

Other evidence makes it probable that the Pheasant, 
perhaps in company with the Peacock, was introduced into 
Britain to grace the villas of the Romans. A manuscript in 
the British Museum shows that in 1059, during the reign of 
King Harold, " unus phasianus " was regarded as equal to 
two Partridges in the bill of fare of the canons of Waltham 
Abbey. The importance of this evidence lies in that it 
rules out of count the Normans, the importers of the Rabbit, 
for the Pheasant was naturalized in England before their 
Conquest, and it is regarded as unlikely that the Anglo- 
Saxons, who are not known to have introduced any animal, 
could have brought it to this country. In 1 100, in the reign 
of King Henry the First, the Abbot of Malmesbury obtained 
a licence to kill Pheasants and Hares; in 1299 the price of 
a Pheasant was fourpence, as against three halfpence for a 
Mallard; about 1512 the Pheasant's value had risen to 
"xiid" and a Mallard to " iid a pece." Thereafter there 
are many references to the presence of Pheasants in England 
and to their value in the dietary; they had become one of 
the common food birds. 

I can find, however, no evidence that Pheasants were 
known in Scotland until long after they had been estab- 
lished in England. No remains have been found amongst 
the organic accumulations of the Roman station at Newstead, 
or in any Scottish deposit of the Romano- British period. 
In that wonderful palace, to which I have already referred 
(p. 210), wherein the Earl of Athole feasted King James 


the Fifth and " ane ambassadour of the Paipes " on the 
braes of Athole in 1529, everything that could be obtained 
was brought that the king and his guests should be 
"verrie weill entertained." One of the manuscripts of 
Lindsay of Pitscottie's account of this feast enumerates the 
viands served 'to the royal guests; and although some 
authorities regard the list as an interpolation of later date, 
this but increases its significance from our point of view. 
The birds set before the king were "capon, cran [crane or 
perhaps heron], swan, pairtrick [partridge], plover, duik, 
drake, brissel-cock [turkey-cock or perhaps guinea-fowl], 
and paunies [cf. Lat. pavones peacocks], black-cock, and 
muirfoull, capercailles." Here in a wonderfully detailed list, 
in spite of the fact that a rare bird like the Peacock is 
referred to, there is no mention of the Pheasant. There 
is some reason, therefore, for concluding that the Pheasant 
was not available. 

Other evidence supports this conclusion. In 1551, in 
the reign of Queen Mary, an attempt was made to regulate 
the price of wild fowl and game, a standard price being 
fixed for each variety; and though wild and tame Geese, 
Blackcocks, Plovers. Curlew, Moor-fowl, Partridges, Wood- 
cock, Snipe, Quails, and even Larks, are specified (see 
p. 140) there is no allusion to the Pheasant. Four years 
later a law was passed by the Scottish Parliament, enacting 
that Pouts [young Partridges], Moorfowl, Ducks, Drakes, 
Teal, and " Goldings," were not to be killed before Michael- 
mas under pain of ^10, but Pheasants are not mentioned. 
There is here presumptive evidence that in the middle of 
the sixteenth century, Pheasants were either absent from 
Scotland or, if present, were very rare, being, it may be, 
kept for ornament in the gardens of the great. I ndeed, even a 
quarter of a century later, Bishop Leslie remarks upon their 
rarity in so many words, which read in the quaint translation 
of Father Dalrymple : 

Farther because nathing is althrouch [throughout] fortunat and happie, 
quhat ane way abundes with ws, another way intakes [is lacking] with vs, 
and is indigent : for the foul called the storke, the fasiane, the turtle-dwe, 
the feldifare, the nichtingale, with vthiris natiounis ar frequent, bot skairs 
with us are fund. 

If the scarcity of the Pheasant was to be compared with that 


of the Stork and the Nightingale, it must have been very 
scarce indeed. 

It is interesting that Leslie should have mentioned the 
abundance.of the Pheasant with " vthiris natiounis" (France 
perhaps, whence he came in the train of Queen Mary, or 
maybe England), for this abundance makes its scarcity in 
Scotland at so late a date all the more striking. Yet before 
the sixteenth century had ended, the Pheasant had been 
naturalized in Scotland, and had found a protector in the 
ready arm of the Scots law. In June 1594 an Act was 
passed by which it was 

ordained that quhatsumever person or persones at ony time hereafter sail 
happen to slay deir, harts, phesants, foulls, partricks, or uther wyld foule 
quhatsumever, ather with gun, croce bow, dogges, halks, or girnes, or be 
uther ingine quhatsumever or that beis found schutting with ony gun 

should pay a penalty of "ane hundreth [100] punds." 

I think the Scottish laws make clear, however, that even 
yet the Pheasant was a bird of great rarity, for many sub- 
sequent enactments omit reference to it. Take, for example, 
the very comprehensive Statute of 1600 already quoted 
(p. 203), the Statute of 1621, or even that of 1707, none of 
which specifies Pheasants though many other game birds 
are mentioned by name. John Taylor in his Pennyles 
Pilgrimage recounts with relish the variety of fare he 
received in the year 1618 at the hands of "my good Lord 
Erskine" and mentions of birds "pidgeons, hens, capons, 
chickens, partridge, moorecocks, heathcocks, caperkellies, 
and termagants [ptarmigan]" but no Pheasant. 

The establishment of the Common Pheasant as a game 
bird in Scotland may, therefore, be said to date from the 
close of the sixteenth century, when it was probably brought 
across the borders from England. I have no doubt that its 
late appearance in Scotland was due to the poverty of the 
country as a whole, and of the barons in particular. For 
even under favourable conditions of shelter and cultivation 
the Pheasant will not thrive, and probably could not exist, 
without some protection and attention. No one can allege 
that the bleak Scotland of Queen Mary's time was a 
sheltered or well cultivated land, and the barons, ready 
enough though they were to hawk or hunt the native birds, 


which multiplied of their own free will, could bear neither 
the expense nor the trouble of rearing and tending Pheasants 
in a bare land. 

The establishment of the Pheasant in our coverts has 
led to an interesting secondary introduction or transportation 
and establishment. Ants and their larvae are well known to 
form a favourite food of the Pheasant, the larvae being the 
main support of young birds. To meet this demand large 
species of ants have been set free in coverts, where they 
have sometimes become established, building their nests and 
hatching theiryounginevermultiplying numbers increasing 
at one and the same time the food of the Pheasant and the 
variety of the local fauna. 

In recent years many importations of wonderfully beauti- 
ful eastern varieties of the Pheasant have been made, the 
best known being the Chinese or Ring-necked Pheasant 
(Phasianus cokkuus torquatus), the "common" pheasant of 
central or south China; the handsome Mongolian Pheasant 
(P. c. mongolicus), from the mountains of eastern Asia; the 
Japanese Pheasant (P. c. versicolor), distinguished by the 
dark green of its under parts, and the gorgeous Reeve's 
Pheasant (P. reevesii), from the highlands of northern and 
western China. Several of these varieties and their crosses 
may now be seen at large in one part or another of the 


If man has added the most beautiful of game birds to 
our coverts, he also has placed in the woods the most 
handsome of their modern inhabitants the " capercaillie," 
"capercalye," "auercalye" or "horse of the woods," as our 
old writers variously termed him. This fine bird (Fig. 50), 
the large size and glossy black plumage of which would 
make it remarkable in any association of bird life, was 
well known to early historians of Scotland. Boece (Bellen- 
den's translation), says of it in 1527, 

Mony uthir fowlis ar in Scotland, quhilkis ar sene in na uthir partis of 
the warld, as capercailye, ane foule mair [in size] than ane ravin, quhilk 
leiffis allanerlie [lives entirely] of barkis of treis. 

But the gradual disappearance of the pine woods, upon the 


shoots of which it lived in the winter time, brought about the 
extermination of the "old man of the woods," the -'caber- 
coille" as he is affectionately named in Gaelic. Fuller 
reference to this unfortunate extinction will be made in 
discussing the effects of the destruction of the forests 
(p. 354); it is sufficient here to say that after a long period 
of dwindling numbers the last of the native Capercafllies 
seem to have occurred in Scotland about the seventies of the 

F%. 50. Capereaillies (Cock znd Hen)- reinstated rn Scotland ifter eiireriLinarioc. 

tij nor. size- 
eighteenth century, one havieg been seen about r 762 in, die 
woods of Strathglass. while Pennant says tfee rare bird was 
still to be met with in 1769 in Glenmoriston to the west of 

The Capercafllie, however, continued to survive in the 
great forests of continental Europe and Asia, from Norway 
and Sweden in the west to Kamschatka in the east, and 
from Siberia in the north to the pine-forests of Germany, 
Austria and the Balkans. A first and fruitless attempt to 
re-establish these birds in Scotland was made bv the Earl 


of Fife at Mar Lodge in Aberdeenshire in 1827 and 1829, 
when Capercaillies were brought from a Swedish forest. 
But the numbers which arrived were too few: in 1827 only 
a male reached the end of his journey alive, and, in 1829, 
when a single pair was imported, notwithstanding that they 
reared apparently, healthy broods, parents and progeny soon 
died out. 

Astonishing success, however, met the efforts made to 
establish the Capercaillie in the vicinity of Lord Breadal- 
bane's castle of Taymouth. Through the instrumentality of 
Sir Fowell Buxton, a Norfolk squire, at least 13 cocks and 
19 hens (some accounts say 48 birds), arrived at Taymouth 
in 1837 and 1838 and were set free in the woods. They at 
once settled down in their new surroundings, formed nests 
and hatched and reared healthy broods, with such success 
that twenty-five years later the Marquis of Breadalbane 
estimated the number on his estate at 1000 birds, although 
his head-keeper believed that 2000 was nearer the mark. 

From Taymouth adult birds were transported to various 
localities, as to Arran in 1843, where, reinforced by fresh 
importations from Sweden in 1846, they became established. 
Other deliberate endeavours to found new colonies, as at 
Dunkeld and in the counties of Ayr and Argyll, were un- 
successful, although some, as the introduction of eggs at 
Tulliallan in 1864 an d ten years later of birds at Lathirsk 
in Fife, met with better fortune. From the naturalist's point 
of view, however, the most interesting result of the Tay- 
mouth introduction has been the extraordinary way in which 
natural processes of increase and migration have led the 
birds from this limited station to colonize the greater part 
of Scotland. For the details of this gradual conquest ot new 
areas, the reader must turn to Dr J. A. Harvie-Brown's 
Capercaillie in Scotland where the movements up to 
1879 are carefully recorded. Here I can give only the 
main features up to the present day of the distribution from 
the centre at Taymouth Castle in central Perthshire. 

It is natural to suppose that since the Capercaillie 
depends on pine woods both for shelter and food, its dis- 
persal would be regulated by the position and suitability of 
such woods, together with its own rate of increase and the 
consequent necessity for the discovery of new feeding and 


breeding grounds. This is exactly what was found to take 
place. Fortunately the years that intervened between its 
extinction about 1770 and its introduction in 1837, were 
years fruitful in planting, and in the interval, woods largely 
of coniferous trees had sprung up on the hillsides and 
along the valleys of many of our rivers. Dr Harvie-Brown 
was of opinion that the Capercaillie viewed prospective sites 
from its old establishments, and this very probable selection 
by sight, together with the fact that most of the woodland 
lay along the water-courses, would determine the Caper- 
caillie's dispersal along the valleys. Indeed, judging from 
the dates of the advent or establishment of birds in new 
areas, the valley systems ranked second only to the presence 
of- fir-woods in determining the course of the migrating 
Capercaillies. It is a curious feature of these migrations, 
that, as a rule, hen birds alone prospect new dwelling-sites, 
and commonly settle in a new area two, three or four years 
before any cock bird arrives. During the interval before the 
coming of their true, even if polygamous, partners, the hens 
frequently mate with the closely related Blackcock (Tetrao 
tetrao], and even with the Pheasant, the result being that 
the extending margin of a Capercaillie country is marked by 
the presence of hybrid birds. 

The Tay and the Forth valley systems offer highly 
instructive evidence of the influence of such routes on the 
dispersal of a species. Follow for a moment, with the aid of 
the accompanying map(Map I), the Capercaillie's wanderings 
from the centre at Taymouth Castle, at the east end of Loch 
Tay, where it was established in 1837. I gi ye as a ru ^ e 
the earliest recorded appearance at any particular place, but 
have ignored sporadic occurrences clearly out of touch with 
the general movement of the birds. From its dispersal- 
centre the " Caper " followed the valleys radiating east and 
west from the northern end of Loch Tay. It reached the 
meeting place of Tummel and Tay in 1844, and passing 
north and south along the valleys, reached Blair Athole on 
the Garry in the following year, sending off, by the way, a 
side branch which followed the Tummel itself to Loch 

The main migration down the Tay was well defined. 
It reached the junction of the Isla shortly after 1847, and 


splitting into two bodies as the two valleys presented 
themselves, passed onwards up the Isla and down the 
Tay. A glance at the map will show how the former 
body, keeping to the main drift of the valley, ^gradually 
colonized the tributary valleys, settling in the upper parts of 
Strathardle in 1860 and of Glenshee in 1865. The Glen 
Isla settlements not only supplied the tributary valleys, but 
overflowed into Forfar by the low land at the base of the 
Grampian foothills, and reached Glamis Castle near Forfar 
in 1863, and the neighbourhood of Brechin in 1870. This 
northward migration was reinforced by an introduction at 
Cortachy in 1862. Thence progress along the easy flats of 
the South and North Esk was peculiarly slow, for the Caper- 
caillie made no general appearance in North Kincardineshire 
till 1878, when it had spread up the wooded valley of the 
Dee as far as Banchory and Inchmarlo. Widely spread 
colonies were in course of time established in Aberdeen- 
shire and Banffshire. Col. Sir Arthur Grant, Bart., informs 
me that on the estate of Monymusk on the Don near Alford, 
Caper were first seen in 1889, when a hen in a very 
exhausted condition was picked up during a snow storm. 
Here the birds were first shot in December 1891, when six 
were killed. Since that time, the increase in this district 
has been extraordinarily rapid (see p. 274). About 1896 I 
learned that birds had been seen in the woods at the " back 
o' Bennachie." In Glass parish on the Deveron they 
appeared in 1897, an d in the woods at Methlick a pair had 
a brood in 1911. This great extension of range, of over one 
hundred miles as the crow flies, was the direct outcome of 
the break-away that followed the Isla valley, while the main 
movement of Capercaillies kept close to the line of the Tay. 
To return to this main movement: From the junction 
of the Isla (1847) the Caper reached the mouth of the Tay 
about 1852, having sent a branch up Glen Almond in 
passing. This meeting-place of the midland vales near 
Perth became an important centre of distribution, whence 
the midlands and southern counties were invaded. The 
Earn valley was conquered in progressive stages, Loch 
Earn being finally reached in 1876. The Ochil Hills were 
turned on their north-eastern flank, easy entrance being 
thereby gained to the plains of Fife and Kinross, while 

Scale of Miles 




Other effective introductions. 

(Q) Introduction at Taymouth the main colonizing centre 

1 1 Introductions which have failed to become established. >- Direction of spread ; '27 etc. years 

of arrival or establishment at localities indicated (from 1827 onwards); isolated dates indicate casual 


progress along the fertile flats of Strathmore gave access to 
Clackmannan and the Forth Valley. Some fifteen years 
served to cover the valley system of the Forth, the earliest 
records of breeding being those at Blair Drummond in 1 860 
and at Dunmore at the mouth of the river in 1863. Up the 
Teith Valley, the Caper settled near Callander in 1872. From 
the southern end of Strathmore the movements southwards 
were continued by two channels, one leading by the eastern 
shoulders of the Campsie Fells to the Lothians and the 
south-eastern counties, the other by the western shoulders 
to Dumbarton, Renfrew and the south-western counties. 

Westwards from the main centre at Taymouth, the 
wanderers passed up Glen Lyon, and along the sides of 
Loch Tay, whence, following the valley of the Dochart (1865), 
they debouched upon Glen Falloch. From this they reached 
the shores of Loch Lomond in 1874, and crossed to Argyll- 
shire where they had penetrated almost to the line of the 
Crinan Canal in 1910, and whence they crossed to the 
island of Bute about 1913. 

The records of the natural dispersal of the Capercaillie 
in the Lowlands are less easy to interpret, owing to the 
independent introduction of the bird at Glenapp in Ayrshire, 
where it survived for several years after 1841, and at 
Tulliallan near Kincardine-on-Forth, where a strong estab- 
lishment was made in 1864. 

Neither of these supplementary introductions, however, 
has so much contributed to the spread of the Capercaillie as 
the persistent and successful efforts begun in Strathnairn in 
1894, when a commencement was made by turning down 3 1 
birds brought from Norway and Austria, to which stock fresh 
birds were added each succeeding year till 1900. I have no 
doubt that the Strathnairn centre is responsible for the 
appearance and increase of the Capercaillie to the west and 
north, at Inverness (1912), Beauly (1912) and in Ross-shire 
(1912), as well as in Nairn and Moray (1907) to the east. 

There are many features of interest in the recolonization 
of Scotland by the Capercaillie, but sufficient has been said 
to show the widespread significance of the introduction of 
this fine bird, which through man's intervention has spread 
from the western slopes of Argyllshire to the plains of eastern 
Fife, and from southern Wigtownshire to the hillsides of 

R. 18 


Ross-shire. The accompanying map (p. 271), which interprets 
in a somewhat dogmatic way the dispersal of the Capercaillie 
in Scotland, should be compared with one showing the 
distribution of woodland in modern Scotland. Only thus 
can the importance of the influence exercised by valleys 
and forests on the movements of the birds be fully 
appreciated. I would add in closing this account, that 
the effectiveness of the establishment of the Capercaillie 
in our woods is demonstrated by the numbers that have 
been killed in a day's shoot on widely separated estates. 
Thus, on Sir Arthur Grant's estate of Monymusk in Aber- 
deenshire, 84 Capercaillie were killed in a day in 1910, and 
73 in 1911 ; Mr J. G. Millais records that in a single day 
107 were killed at Fotheringham in Forfarshire in 1894 ; and 
on Blackhall in Kincardineshire 150 were got on one day 
in 1908, the record day's shoot for Scotland. 

It may seem a simple and natural thing that a bird, 
which like the Capercaillie had flourished in the country at a 
recent date, should on being reinstated, again obtain firm 
hold in its own land. But the problem is not so simple nor 
the result so dependable. The disappearance of the Caper- 
caillie was due mainly to the gradual destruction of woodland ; 
the success of its reinstatement depended upon the presence 
and suitability of the new woodlands which had sprung up 
during the years of its absence. It is possible that the 
new destruction of woodlands which the War has en- 
tailed may again restrict the distribution of the Capercaillie, 
or at any rate check its dispersal by removing the forest 
stepping-stones which offered it gentle stages for pro- 
gression from one area to another. 


At first glance, the case of the Great Bustard (Otis 
tarda] (Fig. 62, p. 366) appears to be exactly comparable 
to that of the Capercaillie. At one time, this huge game 
bird was common on the plains of Scotland, and the pen of 
Boece testifies to its breeding in the district of the Merse 
in Berwickshire in the sixteenth century. To this record 
I refer in greater detail in discussing the influence of culti- 
vation on animal life (loc. cit.\ The Great Bustard died out 


in Scotland as it did throughout the United Kingdom. 
Several attempts have since been made to re-establish it 
in Britain, but with uniform failure; the once native bird 
persistently refuses to adopt again its former home. The 
secret of the failure lies in this: that while times and con- 
ditions have changed, they have in no sense changed for 
the better from those which drove the British Bustard to 
extinction. It is a bird of the plains which nests in the 
open and trusts to its keen sight to warn it of danger still 
afar off, and to its speed of limb to carry it to safety. But 
the new cultivation and the growth of sheltering plantations,- 
coverts and hedgerows, afford possible shelter to lurking 
foes, and here the Bustard cannot dwell and thrive. 


Another introduction which has met with little success 
in Scotland, though it is common over great parts of 
England and Wales, and has actually defied attempts to 
exterminate it in East Anglia, is the pretty Red-legged 
Partridge (Caccabis rufa}, a native of south-western Europe, 
first brought to England in 1770. It is a bird fond of sand-' 
dunes, .but somewhat less so of highly cultivated areas, and 
this may account for the contrast between the success of 
the English experiments and the comparative failure of the 
Scottish, although in recent years it appears to have become 
established in Fifeshire. 


From Norway the Willow Grouse or Ryper (Lagopus 
lagopus], near relative of our own Red Grouse, has been 
introduced into Argyllshire, but so far it has taken no im- 
portant place in the native fauna. The same is true also of 
such importations to England as the Virginian Quail or Bob 
White (Colinus virginianus], the Button-Quail (Turnix 
sylvaticd] of Southern Europe, and the Barbary Partridge 
(Caccabis petrosa), but the persistence with which Hungarian 
Partridges have been turned down in Sussex, where in six 
successive seasons numbers varying from 50 to 175 brace 
have been released, may enable this stranger to obtain a firm 

1 8 2 



Reference has already been made to freshwater fishes 
introduced for the value of their flesh as food, but another con- 
sideration that of sport has been a contributory factor in 
bringing to our rivers a number of denizens of foreign lands. 
The most' venerable of such sporting fishes, from the 
point of view of its establishment and supposed associa- 
tions, is undoubtedly the Grayling ( Thymallus thymallus], 
so long a recognized inhabitant of our rivers that the date 
of its coming is forgotten. Its introduction, like that of 
several other fishes, has, for lack of a better suggestion, 
been attributed to the monks; but it has been pointed out 
that while many of its local fisheries are in neighbourhoods 
where monasteries once stood, yet in English counties where 
there were many monasteries there are no Grayling, and 
further, that so sensitive a fish could scarcely have been con- 
veyed alive from the Continent with the means at the dis- 
posal of the monks. However that may be, the Grayling, a 
.native of the continental countries from Italy and Hungary to 
Lapland, is now firmly established as an angling fish in many 
British rivers. In Scotland, it is common in the upper 
reaches of the Clyde where 10,000 eggs from the Derwent 
were planted in 1857, as well as in the Rivers Ayr, Lugar 
and Greenburn in Ayrshire, and in the Gryffe Water in 
Renfrewshire. In Dumfriesshire it was introduced into the 
Nith in 1857 or 1858, and a few years later into the 
Annan. Fewer than a dozen were set free in the Tay some 
twenty years ago, and already in 1905 they were so well 
established that "it was not astonishing to catch one any- 
where between Perth and Kenmore." It occurs also in the 
Tweed and its tributaries, amongst them the Teviot, where 
the first example was caught in 1855, having escaped from 
a pond at Monteviot where it had been introduced by the 
Marquis of Lothian about that time. So abundant is it now 
in Tweed that netting for coarse fish at the instance of 
the Tweed Commissioners resulted in the capture of 5791 
Grayling in 1913, and 71 78 in 1914. Low (1813) stated that 
it was common in Orkney. 

If the Grayling first made itself at home in our rivers, 


the Carp came as a good second, for although we may sus- 
pect the accuracy of the old doggerel lines 

Turkeys, Carps, Hops, Piccarel and Beer 
Came into ENGLAND all in one year 

they at least faithfully indicate that the Carp was introduced 
to this country and that at an early date. The Carp 
(Cyprinus carpio] is a native of the rivers of China, but so 
long ago as 1496 it had been planted in the streams of 
Britain, for Dame Juliana Berner's Boke of St Albans says 
that it is a "dayntous fysshe, but there ben but fewe in 
Englonde and therefore I wryte the lesse of hym." The 
" fewe in Englonde " of the fifteenth century have increased 
to many in our day, for the Carp thrives in lakes, rivers, and 
ponds, natural and artificial, from Northumberland to Corn- 
wall. In Scotland it is less common than in England, yet it 
occurs in many lochs and ponds throughout the country and, 
according to Stoddart, exists even in the lakes of the Outer 
Hebrides, in Lewis, Harris, the Uists, and Barra. In other 
countries, such as America, valuable and extensive fisheries 
have been created by the introduction of this native of the 
Far East (see p. 258). 

The Trout of Lake Geneva (Salmo lemanus] was placed 
many years ago in several lochs and tarns in Mull, as well 
as in Loch Lomond, where it has now become very rare. 
A somewhat similar tale of half-hearted success has to be 
told of the efforts to introduce into Scotland the American 
Brook Trout {Salvelinus fontinalis] often misnamed in 
this country the "Rainbow Trout." This Char, related 
to the red-bellied Char which inhabits some of our deeper 
lakes, has been set free in many lakes and rivers, but 
though it survives for a time, it appears seldom to thrive 
and become firmly established. Mr H. A. \Voodburn 
says of its occurrence in the Clyde drainage area, that it has 
been placed in many small lakes throughout the district and 
also in Loch Lomond, where it still maintains its identity 
but has not thriven. It has also been distributed throughout 
Renfrewshire and Ayrshire, and is thriving in the Rivers 
Ayr and Irvine, and in the Waters of Borland, Kilmarnock, 
Cessnock, Carmel and Alnwick. It is impossible to follow 
the details of the introduction of the American Brook Trout 
in other areas, for it has been widely distributed throughout 
Scotland, even in islands such as Mull, and there is the 


less need for so tedious an enumeration, since the citation 
of the Clyde area alone sufficiently indicates to what extent 
man may encourage an alien fauna to replace that of nature's 
assembling. Introductions of the true Rainbow Trout (Salmo 
irideus) of California have been made on several occasions 
and in several places, as in Loch Uisg and the Lochbuie 
lochs of Mull. In 1898 over a thousand " Rainbow Trout " 
were set free in the river Buchat, a tributary of the Don in 
Aberdeenshire 1 . 


Apart from the deliberate introduction of new creatures 
from a strange land, there is a minor form of introduction, 
which, while it involves no fresh addition to the fauna as a 
whole, has yet some influence upon the numbers and distri- 
bution of its members I mean the transference of an animal 
from an old to a new area. There would seem to be little 
scope for such transportations in a country so small as 
Scotland, yet many have taken place, and as they relate in 
the main to sporting animals, a few typical illustrations may 
be given here. Perhaps the most noted of all such trans- 
portations concern the short-headed Trout of Loch Leven 
(Salmo levenensis\ famed for the red colour of its flesh and 
its peculiar delicacy of flavour. There is scarcely a Scottish 
lake or slow-flowing river much frequented by anglers, but 
there Loch Leven Trout have been released, as many as 
150,000 fry having been set free in one lake, Loch Awe, 
in the course of the three years preceding 1890. England, 
too, has shared in the spoil, and amazing success has 
followed the introduction of Loch Leven Trout to the still 
and running waters of New Zealand. The enthusiasm of 
anglers, again, has stocked with the common Brown Trout 
of the brook (Salmo truttd], many a Highland loch or lochan, 
which till that time knew no fish except perhaps the migra- 
tory Eel, whose elvers take to land when they encounter a 
waterfall such as would completely check the passage of 
Trout or Salmon. Trout from below the great Smoo Cave, 
near Durness, were placed many years ago in the river above 
the Cave and beyond the impassable cascade which bursts 
through its roof, and, isolated in their new habitation, they 

1 I suspect that these "Rainbow Trout," recorded by Mr G. Sim, may 
have belonged to the species referred to above the American Brook Trout. 


have developed on their sides a peculiarity of their own- 
great red splashes of colour. Many troutless lochs in the 
wilds of Sutherland, such as Loch Bealach na Uidhe, 
Loch na Ganvich and Loch Unapool, now contain a boun- 
teous stock of trout, thanks to the energy of anglers such 
as Dr Harvie- Brown. 

The habit of the sluggish, mud-loving Tench (Tinea 
tinea) has led to its introduction into many slow-flowing 
rivers, and natural and artificial ponds and reservoirs, such as 
Pressmennan Lake formed in 1819 in Haddingtonshire, or 
Hirsel Lough, in 1876, in Berwickshire, the Pitfour Ponds 
in Aberdeenshire and the Tay. In such areas the "Fisher's 
Physician," as he was long ago dubbed, lives and breeds in 

Perch (Perca fluviatilis] have also been spread abroad 
in our rivers by the agency of man, for though naturally 
they are rare north of the Forth, individuals have been suc- 
cessfully introduced during the past hundred years to the 
Loch of Spynie near Elgin and the river Deveron, to the 
river Don and Strathbeg Loch in Aberdeenshire, and to 
many lochs and streams in the Tay basin and other valleys 
beyond their natural range. 

Even the voracious Pike (Esox .lucius] has been granted 
new areas in which to work its will on its lesser cousins, 
examples of the success of its transportation being shown in 
Gartmorin Dam on the Forth and Migdale Loch near Kyle of 
Sutherland ; while the Char (Salvelinus alpinus}, interesting 
relic of the cold torrents which rushed in our valleys as the 
ice-sheets of the late Glacial Period melted, has been trans- 
ferred from its cool, deep glacial lakes to many it would 
not have chosen of his own accord. 

The gentle sport of angling is also responsible for the 
increasing range of distribution of the Minnow (Phoxinus 
phoxinus), for this tiny but active denizen of the river shal- 
lows does not extend under natural conditions further north 
in Britain than the waters of the Deveron, or at furthest the 
Lossie. On account of its use as a bait for larger fish, the 
Minnow has been set free in the Spey (although it may have 
existed there before its artificial introduction), as well as 
in the streams of Argyll and Arran, and of several other 
localities whence it w,as originally absent. 


Even birds and mammals have not escaped this artificial 
means of dispersal. Brand (1701) mentions that in his day 
"Moorfowls" or Grouse, were absent from the Shetland Isles, 
but that a few had been brought over from Orkney. These, 
however, soon died out, as also did a few imported to Weis- 
dale Voe in 1858, though the descendants of the latter sur- 
vived for 14 or 15 years. In 1882 an endeavour to acclimatize 
Grouse on the heather-clad slopes of the island of Yell met 
with greater success, for owing perhaps to the more suitable 
nature of the ground, these established a slender colony which 
existed at any rate till comparatively recent years. 

In Orkney on the other hand, where the Red Grouse 
was plentiful, Partridges were unknown; "There are here 
no Partridges," wrote Brand in 1701, "but plenty of Muir- 
fowls." Nor have any of the many attempts which have 
since been made to plant Partridges on the Mainland, on Hoy 
and Walls, on Sanday, on Shapinsay (1883) and Rousay 
(1883), met with success, although for several years, Rousay 
boasted the presence of four or five individuals. 

Of mammals, Roe Deer, which are natives of few of 
the Scottish islands, have been established on Bute, I slay, Mull 
and Jura; but the Hares best illustrate the results of deliberate 
transportation. There is no satisfactory evidence that the 
Common Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus] is indigenous to 
the islands of Scotland, yet now it is almost impossible to 
name an island of any significance from which it is absent. 
In the Firth of Clyde, the "bawtie" has been set free and 
thrives upon Arran, Bute and Cumbrae; in the Inner Hebri- 
des it was introduced on Islay (before 1816) and on Jura, 
on Coll (about 1787) and on Tiree, on Mull (1814-15), and 
on Skye, as well as on other lesser isles; amongst the Outer 
Hebrides, Professor Macgillivray tells us in 1830, that it 

has been naturalised in the neighbourhood of Stornoway and in Barvas, in 
the district of Lewis and iy one of the Barray islands; but it does not appear 
that it ever occurred indigenously in any part of the range. 

The Blue, Alpine, or Variable Hare (Lepus timidus} has 
shared in wanderings like its cousin, for since the disappear- 
ance of the last traces of the Ice Age, its natural range in the 
British Isles has become limited to the Highlands of Scot- 
land (see Map II). It too has been planted on the islands, 
so that wherever it occurs to-day in the Outer or Inner 



Hebrides (Lewis and Harris, Skye and Raasay, Mull, Islay 
and Arran) it. has been introduced, for if it were ever native 
in ttiese parts, the original breed, as on Hoy in the Orkneys, 
has disappeared. Recent introductions to Hoy and.Gairsey 
seem to have failed. 

On the mainland the artificial colonization of the Alpine 
Hare has been more extensive and successful. A century ago 
it was unknown south of the Forth, but from its Highland 
home it has been planted on the uplands of the southern 
counties. I n Manor Parish in Peeblesshire, Alpine H ares were 
set free in 1834, and further colonies were planted in the 
same county in 1846 and 1847; m tne Pentlands they were 
set free in 1867 or 1868, and in 1861 or 1862 on Cairntable 
on the borders of Ayrshi're and Lanarkshire. On this 
mountain, Dr B. N. Peach tells me, they were so abundant 
when he made a geological survey of the district in the 
years 1867 and 1868, that they formed the staple food sup- 
plied to the geologists by the hill shepherd. So congenial 
has the Alpine Hare found these Lowland haunts that not only 
has it held its own and increased vastly in numbers in the 
areas in which it was placed, but it has spread into the sur- 
rounding country, overrunning the counties of Renfrew, Ayr 
and Lanark, in the first of which 300 have been killed in a 
season on the Misty Law Hills. Spreading eastwards from 
their Peeblesshire stations by way of the Moorfoot Hills the 
Mountain Hare reached the Lammermoor Hills about 1860, 
the Lauderdale moors in Berwickshire some four years later, 
and the extension of the Lammermoors in east Haddington- 
shire about 1880. A southward movement from Cairntable 
colonized the Lowther Hills and Queensterry Hill in 1865, 
and advanced until between 1878 and 1880 the southern 
march was checked by the Solway, which was reached in the 
neighbourhood of Kirkgunzeon and Criffel Moors to the 
south-west of Dumfries. 

Now there is scarcely a moderately high hill within these 
areas of the south country but has its colony of this interest- 
ing relic of glacial climes. Not only has the Scottish 
Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus scoticus] succeeded in colo- 
nizing new districts in its own country, it has also been 
successfully transferred to many English counties and to the 
mountains of Wales. 


I Arens to which Mountain Hare is indigenous. 

Dates surrounded by lines indicate times and localities of introduction by man. Italic dates, 
>. approximate times of arrival in new areas from the centres of introduction. 

jjp|j Areas colon! d by transported individuals 

V. 3 

SEVERAL creatures of interest and a few of some im- 
portance in the composition of our fauna owe their presence 
to little more than the whim of the lover of Nature or the 
surplus energy of the naturalist. The reason for some of 
these introductions stands in plain view, for others it is in- 


No one can doubt, for example, that the feeling for 
colour led to the transfer of the " beauteous Peacock " far 
from its native home in India and Ceylon. We, in Britain, 
probably owe its presence to the Romans. In mediaeval 
days it seems to have been moderately common in Scotland, 
more common than the Pheasant, for it graced the table of 
the Earl of Athole at the great feast in the "wilderness " of 
Perthshire in 1529 (see p. 266), when its lesser relative was 
absent ; and in the old Scots laws it was ranked as wild-fowl, 
under the plea that " the nature of the Peacock is wild, 
although they are wont always to return to the same place." 
(Frag. Coll. i. 750 b). Nevertheless, Juno's bird, despite 
the decrees of law and the long ages of its habitation, is still 
no more than an exotic flower in our dull clime, a bird the 
" painted plumes " of which add to the pleasure of park or 
shrubbery, but which remains outwith the native fauna. 


Other strange birds have been set free on account of their 
beauty, though most of them have rapidly disappeared from 
the fauna they invaded. Red-winged Starlings (Agel&us 
phceniceus] from America, were released by the late Duke of 
Argyll in Argyllshire, but soon died out, and in recent years 
"Pekin Robins" (Liotkrix luteus] and many exotic Doves 
Bronze Wings, Turtles, and Crested Pigeons have been 


released in London with little success. On account of their 
interest, Lord Carmichael of Skirling transported Nuthatches 
from England to southern Scotland, but these importations 
also left no trace. 


Nor is there room for doubt that the love of colour has 
been the secret of the introduction of the Gold and Silver 
Fishes of the East, not only as tiny captives of the indoor 
aquarium, but as inhabitants of ornamental and other ponds 
throughout the country. It can hardly be said that these 
have become part of the fauna of Britain, yet Goldfishes 
(Carassiiis auratus), natives of China and Japan, have been 
established in so many artificial lakes and warm engine-ponds 
of mills, and multiply so successfully in these sheltered havens, 
that, like the Peacock, they may be regarded as aliens, which, 
though they are still clearly foreigners, have nevertheless 
come to stay. 

On the other hand, there are animals, first brought to 
this country as objects of interest or amusement, which have 
so easily settled in the land of their adoption that they have 
become part and parcel of the native fauna. 


Take the case of the Fallow Deer (Cervus dama). Fallow 
Deer, closely related to, if not identical with our present 
species, inhabited Europe and England in the warmer inter- 
glacial periods of the Ice Age. Thereafter they seem to have 
disappeared so completely, as, according to the usual state- 
ment, to have left no trace in the later deposits of the British 
Isles. It is possible, however, that, like other harassed wild 
things, they survived longer than is suspected in the security 
of the outer islands, for Barry in his History of the Orkney 
Islands ( 1 805) states, I know not on what authority, that the 
superficial deposits of Orkney have yielded animals strange 
to the present day fauna, "such as hares, and several sorts of 
red and fallow deer, the horns of which have been often dug 
from the earth in various parts of the country." Nevertheless 
it is a strange but generally accepted fact that while Red 
Deer and Roes continued to survive in our land, the Fallow 


Deer entirely disappeared, leaving no trace in the peat or 
marl of the Scottish lakes, nor in the shell-mounds, kitchen- 
middens, or dwelling places of the Scottish peoples, even to 
the time of the brochs, which extends almost to the ninth 
century of our era. 

The Fallow Deer owes its subsequent introduction to the 
grace and interest which its lithe body and handsome antlers 
contribute to the pleasure parks of the great. There is no 
record to tell when it first returned under the protection of 
man, but we know that shortly after the Norman Conquest 
it was regularly hunted in England by the king and his 
barons, and there can be little doubt that it was imported 
from one of those districts of southern Europe, from Portugal 
to Greece, in which it retained a hold through the changes of 
post-glacial times. To Scotland it was in all likelihood trans- 
ported a short time after its establishment in England. It 
appeared at first as a guarded and pampered tenant of the 
pleasure park, for the earliest historical reference to the 
species is that mentioned by Professor Cosmo Innes, record- 
ing how in 1283 an allowance was earmarked in the accounts 
of the King's Chamberlain for mowing and carrying hay and 
litter for the use in winter of the Fallow Deer which lived in 
the park at Stirling. Now as this "new" park was formed and 
surrounded with a palisade in 1263 for King Alexander III, 
it is possible that the Fallow Deer were imported at that time 
specially to grace the new royal pleasure ground. 

Three centuries later, in 1564, Queen Mary watched from 
the Braes of Athole the great gathering of Deer arranged by 
the Earl of Athole for her entertainment. In Dr William 
Barclay's account of this notable hunting, as translated from 
the Latin by Pennant, occurs a passage describing how the 
Highlanders of the "tainchel," forming a ring round the area 
to be raided, "went up and down so nimbly, that, in less than 
two months' time they had brought together two thousand 
red deer, besides roes, and fallow deer." If both translation 
and original account are accurate, the presence of Fallow 
Deer in the wilds of Glen Tilt would indicate that they had 
already escaped from the narrow limits of the parks, and 
become established in the highlands of Perthshire. 

Standing by itself this evidence seems little to be de- 
pended on, but it is supported by more trustworthy hints, 


which indicate that, more than a century before Queen Mary's 
gathering on Athole Braes, Fallow Deer were well established 
in the country. Already in 1424, they were afforded the 
protection of the law, being grouped with Red and Roe Deer 
in an Act which provided that " stalkers that slayis deare, 
that is to say, harte, hynde, dae and rae," should incur a 
penalty of " fourtie shillings " and their employers a fine 
of 10. " Dae" is clearly a Scottish form of "doe," the 
ordinary and only appellation of the female Fallow Deer, just 
as "rae" is the female Roe in contradistinction to Roe-buck 
(witness the use of the terms in an Act of 1 503 which includes 
both "raes" and "rae-bucks"). The reference to Fallow Deer 
in the Act of 1424 is made still more positive by the fact 
that the other deer of the country are carefully specified 
the "harte" and "hynde" of the Red Deer, and the Roe. 

A perusal of the early Scottish laws, however, makes quite 
clear that the Fallow Deer stood in a category distinct from 
the Red and the Roe Deer ; for these being native and far 
more common are frequently mentioned in laws which ignore 
the presence of the Fallow Deer. Yet in 1587 we find the 
Fallow or Dae mentioned with several of the most familiar 
of wild animals: "slayers and schutters of hart, hinde, dae, 
rae, haires, cunninges, and utheris beasts... sail be lyke cryme 
to their committers as the stealers of horse or oxen." And 
since, using caution as with men, we may judge deer by the 
company they keep, it is apparent that the Fallow Deer were 
well established and at least moderately common in the latter 
part of the sixteenth century. 

The law, however, gives us no ground for supposing that 
these deer were free or wild ; for the specific mention in a 
statute of 1503 of "parked deare, raes, or rae-bucks," is 
sufficient indication that the Fallow Deer were still the deer 
of the parks. In the same century, King James VI himself, 
when he returned with his consort, the Danish Princess Anne, 
is said to have brought from Denmark the first examples of 
the black variety of Fallow Deer and these he doubtless 
deposited in his deer park at Dalkeith Palace. 

Nevertheless the experience of more recent times would 
lead us to suppose that if the "parked deer" escaped, as 
time and again they were almost sure to do, they would have 
had no difficulty in establishing themselves in the wilder 


districts. Indeed, so suitable do conditions in Scotland 
appear to be that, once established in freedom, Fallow Deer 
are not easily kept in check. A single authentic example 
will be sufficient to illustrate this adaptability. About 1780 
a dozen F"allow Deer were brought to Raehills in Dumfries- 
shire from Hopetoun, where they have existed since at 
any rate 1700. They were carefully tended for some time, 
but finally broke out of their enclosure and became wild. 
So rapidly did they increase in numbers, and so annoying 
did their depredations on growing crops become, that serious 
attempts were made to exterminate them. Expert marksmen 
were employed, and liberty was given to one and all to shoot 
the runaways. In a single week, 50 of the deer were killed, 
and yet the efforts of the deer-slayers could not keep pace 
with the increase of the deer, and in 1845 they had become 
exceedingly wild and were supposed to number upwards of 
two hundred. 

Indeed it is clear from other evidence that Fallow Deer 
had become established in the forests of mid-Scotland before 
the middle of the seventeenth century, for the Wardlaw 
Chronicles record how in 1642 a "gallant, noble convoy, well 
appointed and envyed be many " went a-hunting with the 
master and his lady, and in the Forest of Killin in mid- 
Perthshire "got fallow-deer hunting to their mind, and such 
princely sport as might alleviat the dullest spirit." 

In our day, the Fallow Deer, introduced to Scotland at 
various times by man's agency, and holding its place by virtue 
of its own adaptability, is to be found in a wild state from 
Drumlanrig in Dumfriesshire in the south, through the wilds 
of central Argyllshire, the woods of the Tay Valley from 
Stanley to Blair Athole, in the Islands of Mull and Islay, to 
their northern outpost in the Dornoch woods of Sutherland. 
And, whereas it was introduced to" add to the amenities of 
the pleasure park, it has become, on account of its numbers, 
an object of sport as well as the source of a useful supply 
of venison. 


The elegant and graceful Virginian deer (Cariacus mr- 
giniamis), a native of North America, was set at liberty 
about 1832 in Arran, where it succeeded in establishing 


itself, and Mr E. R. Alston recorded that it still occurred but 
in dwindling numbers forty years afterwards. So far as I 
can discover, the Virginian Deer have now entirely dis- 
appeared, and are reported to have died out not many 
years after Alston referred to them in 1872. 

It has been found, too, that the Japanese Deer (Cervus 
sika], native though it be of far distant China, Manchuria 
and Japan, takes kindly to our woodlands. In 1887 
Sir Arthur Bignold turned out at Lochrosque, in Ross, 
one buck and four does, and these have so thriven and 
multiplied that 30 years after, they have colonized far beyond 
the bounds of their first settlement, and have straggled 
at one time or another over the greater part of Ross. At 
the present day the naturalized descendants of the original 
five aliens are believed to form a herd of from 1 50 to 200 
in number. 


If one race of animals more than another has benefited 
by territorial acquisitions in this country through the whims 
of man, it is the tribe of the Squirrels. The Grey Squirrel 
(Sciurus carolinensis] belongs by rights to the American 
continent from southern Canada to southern Mexico and 
Guatemala, but its silver-grey coat and lively habits have 
made it a favourite pet in this as well as in its native land. 
The escape or release of such pets has already set up many 
potential centres of distribution in England : in Regent's 
Park, populated from the Zoological Garden, in Richmond 
Park, whence it has wandered in force into the open 
country of Surrey, in Hampstead, in Buckinghamshire, in 
Bedfordshire, colonized from the Duke of Bedford's collec- 
tion at Woburn, and in 'Rougemont Gardens, Exeter, from 
which the first west of England specimens have recently 
been reported. 

In Scotland the Grey Squirrel has made good an estab- 
lishment on the west coast and is spreading there. A single 
pair was released at Finnart on Loch Long about 1890, and 
mainly from Mr J. Paterson's records of their dispersal 
we learn that the Squirrels had spread northwards to 
Arrochap and Tarbert in 1903; eastwards over moderately 


high ground to Luss in 1904, and to Inverbeg on the 
banks of Loch Lomond in 1 906 ; south-westwards to Gare- 
lochhead in 1907, and along the western shores of Gare 
Loch to Roseneath in 1915; southwards, till in 1912, 
individuals were obtained at Row, Helensburgh, Alexandria 
and furthest south at Culdross. From this area an eastern 

Fig. 52. American Grey Squirrel acclimatized in many parts of Britain. ^ nat. size. 

extension carried the migrants to the eastern bounds of 
Dumbartonshire at Drymen about 1915. These records 
make it apparent that in a quarter of a century ithe 
Grey Squirrel has taken possession of a strip of country 
roughly twenty miles long by fifteen miles broad. There 
is every likelihood that the Zoological Park of the Scottish 
Zoological Society, situated at Corstorphine on the outskirts 
R. 19 


of Edinburgh, will become a strong colonizing centre in the 
east of Scotland, for already Grey Squirrels have taken to 
the woods outside the Park's boundaries, and have been 
found in the policies of Dalmeny. The pets- of confinement 
turn out too often to be the pests of the open, and already 
many plaints have been raised regarding the mischief wrought 
by these aliens, which, Sir Frederick Treves protested in 
1917, drive out our Red Squirrel, "eat everything that can 
be eaten, and destroy twenty times more than they eat." So 
that the spread of the Grey Squirrel threatens us with a 
plague as grievous as that which has rewarded the well-meant 
efforts of the enthusiasts who set the Common Red Squirrel 
free in our woods, that his interesting presence might add to 
the delights of Nature lovers. 


The Common Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris] is so 
familiar and so much at home in our woodlands that one 
seldom thinks of him as an alien brought to our shores 
and encouraged to settle to the loss of our small native 
birds and of the woods themselves. And, indeed, there is 
some ground for regarding the Red Squirrel as of native 
stock ; for, as I shall show in more detail in discussing the 
effects of the destruction of our forests (see p. 351), it was 
at one time a familiar denizen of the country north of the 
line of the Forth and Clyde 

I saw the Hurcheon and the Hare, 
The Con, the Cuning and the Cat, 

sang the writer of Tke Cherrie and the Slae Cuning being 
the Rabbit, and Con the Squirrel. 

The demolition of forest, however, banished it entirely 
from the Lowlands, and gradually drove its diminishing 
numbers from one stronghold to another, till, by the end 
of the eighteenth century, it seems to have everywhere dis- 
appeared, except, perhaps, in the recesses of wilder and more 
remote forests, such as the native woods of Rothiemurchus 
at the base of the Inverness-shire Grampians. The present- 
day numbers and distribution of the Squirrel in Scotland are 
undoubtedly due in the main to the introduction of new 
animals from outside the country's bounds, and to their 


establishment in certain definite areas which have become 
centres of colonization for the surrounding districts. 

The spread of the Squirrel, as also the steps of its dis- 
appearance, have been minutely worked out by Dr Harvie- 
Brown in a series of three papers published' in 1 880 and 
1 88 1 in the Proceedings of the Royal Physical Society of 
Edinburgh, and to these I would refer readers desirous of 
knowing the details of the early movements, contenting 
myself here with a general survey, carried down to the 
present date, of the results of the various introductions. 

Fig. 53. Common Red Squirrel a former native of Scotland. 
reintroduced. \ nat. size. 

It may be premised that the spread of the Squirrel was 
not equally rapid in all the areas, that it was regulated in 
direction as well as in speed by the physical characters of 
each district as well as by the state of its woodland ; bleak 
mountains, and to some extent, rivers, obstructed or checked 
the onward movements, while close-set woodlands acted as 
stepping-stones, guiding and hastening the progress into 
new districts. Reference to Map III will aid in the compre- 
hension of the influence of the different centres, and of the 
direction and speed of the various migrations. 




While the Red Squirrel was on the verge of extinction 
in even the wildest districts of Scotland, the Duchess of 
Buccleuch, about the year 1772, added to her menagerie at 
Dalkeith, a few Squirrels brought from England. These 
escaped to the woods, became established, and so increased 
in numbers that they were forced to seek fresh outlets. They 
spread east, populating most of the woods in Midlothian 
and East Lothian by 1802 ; they spread south, entering 
Peeblesshire about 1 80 1 , but staying their course on the slopes 
of the Moorfoot and Lammermoor Hills. Their western and 
northern advance from Dalkeith was extraordinary for its 
rapidity, as also for its extent. The Squirrels made an easy 
journey along the Lothian plain to Stirlingshire, which, with 
the eastern extension of Dumbartonshire, was reached about 
1810. At Campsie they appeared in 1827, and in 1830 had 
reached the west of Stirlingshire and western Dumbarton 
at Luss and Killearn, while a branch penetrated into north 
Lanarkshire. On a northerly track from Stirlingshire they 
appeared in Perthshire (Kincardine-on-Forth) about 1821, 
having probably crossed the Forth by the Bridge of Frew, 
arrived in Clackmannan about 1837, and overrun Fifeshire 
between 1834 and 1859. 


The remainder of the south country was peopled from 
three distinct centres of dispersal: (i) The south-eastern 
area, lying about the valley of the Tweed, was stocked from 
an introduction to Minto in Roxburghshire about 1824. 
Hence the Squirrels reached northwards to Duns Castle in 
1830, and were so abundant at Wolfelee near Hawickin 1835 
that regular attempts were made to destroy them. Westwards 
they pushed into Selkirkshire, Peeblesshire and southern 
Lanarkshire entering that county at Lamington Parish about 
1841, while southwards they were checked only by the 
Cheviots on the northern bounds of Dumfriesshire. 

(2) Dumfriesshire and the southern counties seem to 
have been colonized from a source outwith the Scottish 
borders Houghton House near Carlisle, where Squirrels 
were abundant at an early date. In 1837 they entered 

Scale of Miles 


or TWE v 


CENTRES OF INTRODUCTION, Showing the influence of valleys on dispersal. 

Cj Centre of introduction and subsequent dispersal. DxG Centre of supposed natural resuscitatio 

LJ Introduced but subsequently died out. ..Approximate boundaries of areas colonized fro 

each centre of introduction. The approximate dates of introduction and arrival at different localities a 



Canobie parish, which abuts against Cumberland, and 
crossing Dumfriesshire in 23 years, appeared in the neigh- 
bourhood of the town of Dumfries in 1860. In that or the 
following year they had crossed the march into Kirkcud- 
brightshire, and in 1869 had penetrated to the south of that 
county. Four years later they crossed the Cree into Wig- 
townshire, and there in 1892 were recorded by Sir Herbert 
Maxwell as "now becoming plentiful." 

(3) Three separate introductions stocked Ayrshire one 
about 1866 at Mauchline, the second a somewhat mythical 
importation " by navvies" on the Water of Ayr about 1870, 
and the third two years later by the butler of the Marquis of 
Ailsa. The influence of the Ayrshire centres, however, was 
limited by the western extensions of the Lowther Hills, 
as well as by contact with the armies advancing westwards 
from the eastern centres of Houghton, Minto and Dalkeith. 

In 1872 Squirrels were set free on Bute but they 
eventually died out. 


Comparable to Dalkeith in the extent of the area it has 
affected is the centre of Dunkeld, in Perthshire, whither prior 
to 1793, Squirrels were imported by the 4th Duke of Athole 
probably from Scandinavia. Hence their southward course 
lay most open, and with speed they flowed down the valley 
of the Tay, Methven being reached in 1812, and the Carse 
of Gowrie ten years later. Westwards they made slow pro- 
gress, owing, one must infer, to the absence of plantations 
suitable for shelter and food. Woods were planted at Glenal- 
mond only after 1825 and in 1834 Squirrels appeared here. 
Nevertheless they formed colonies along the upper valleys 
of the Tay and its tributaries till the mountain barrier of the 
southern Grampians checked their march. 

Their northward advance, also, seems to have been 
checked by the Grampians. Not till 1841 were they es- 
tablished at Blair Athole, while following the plain of 
Strathmore, as did the Capercaillie a few years later, they 
appeared at Glamis in 1833, and reached Brechin in 1844. 
Thence they passed across the North Esk, and traversed 
Kincardine probably on two routes, one leading by the coast 
(Dunottar woods, 1847) towards the lower Dee, the other by 


the valley of the Feugh to Banchory, where they appeared 
about 1855. From this station they seem to have spread up 
the Dee, reaching Glen Tanar near Aboyne in 1857, and 
becoming distributed throughout most of the woods of Upper 
Dee by 1 864. Two routes apparently led them' to the fertile 
valley of the Don, one from Aboyne up the Tarland Burn and 
down the Corse and Leochel Burns to Vale of Alford, where 
one was killed by a dog in 1859. Thence an easy journey 
took them to Kildrummy about 1860 and Glenkindie some 
three years later. A second route lay by the haughs between 
the lower waters of Dee and Don, for Squirrels were seen on 
the estate of Thainstone near Port Elphinstone in 1862 and 
at Manar, three or four miles farther up the river in 1868. 

Whether the waves of this invasion from the Central 
Highlands now found themselves spent, or whether they 
spread farther across the less wooded portions of Aberdeen- 
shire is difficult to decide. Since I am of opinion that 
the former was the case, and that the consecutive dates 
of arrival in these areas indicate invasion from another 
centre, I shall discuss the colonization of northern Aber- 
deenshire in the section dealing with the Northern Highland 


An isolated introduction took place in Argyllshire about 
1847, when, along with the Rabbit, the Squirrel was brought 
from England and set free at Minard House on the western 
shore of Loch Fyne. This establishment formed the centre 
of a small and isolated colony. The strongest army of 
migrants moved northwards, reaching Inverary, twelve miles 
from the starting point, in 1855, and Glen Orchy ten years 
later. The western advance rounded the south end of Loch 
Awe, and speedily spread along the western coast, so that 
by 1880 its outposts had reached the environs of Oban. 
As in most other areas, the southern movements lagged 
seriously behind the others, for not till 1877 and 1878 were 
Squirrels seen even in the neighbourhood of Lochgilphead, 
only eight miles from the starting point. 



Beaufort Castle, on the Beauly River in Inverness-shire, 
the last to be considered of the main centres of squirrel 
dispersal in Scotland, was stocked by Lady Lovat in 1844. 
Northwards the vagrants moved, settling and multiplying 
as they went, so that in 1848 they were common in north- 
ern Inverness-shire, and ten years later had invaded Ross 
and Cromarty as far as Kilmuir Castle and Tarbat House 
on the northern shore of the Cromarty Firth. In 1859 they 
appeared in Sutherland, and were plentiful in the east of 
the county in the 'seventies, an increase attributed by 
Dr Harvie- Brown to the advantage taken by the Squirrels 
of the Highland Railway Bridge built at Invershin in 1869. 
It is probable that Squirrels would make use of this bridge 
in moving across the river, but it seems to me that the 
argument makes too much of the possibility of a stream 
acting as a barrier. Squirrels are excellent and deliberate 
swimmers. They have frequently been observed swimming 
from one point to another across the fjords of Norway, and 
in the Field of January 27, 1917, the distances of some 
of their journeys are given the most striking example being 
a direct swim of some 500 metres, about one-third of a 
mile, which was made without break, notwithstanding that 
there were two places on the way where the tiny navigator 
could have rested had it wished. We can, therefore, hardly 
regard the River Oykell as a serious barrier : the less so 
when we take into account that it had already been crossed 
for many years by Bonar Bridge, three miles down the river. 

So common and destructive did Squirrels become in 
east Sutherland that, in the seven years between 1873 and 
1880, 942 were killed at Dunrobin. In recent years the 
increase of Squirrels in this area has been phenomenal, and 
some account of the extraordinary numbers slain is given in 
the discussion of the Squirrel as a pest (p. 181). 

The heights of Morven and the ranges of hills which form 
the boundary between Sutherland and southern Caithness, 
as well as the treelessness of the latter county, seem to have 
stayed their northward progress, for as late as 1887, Squirrels 
were unknown in Caithness, although they have since be- 
come common in the Berriedale district. It is not surprising 


to learn, however, that they have found an easy and natural 
route from the North Sea to the Atlantic coast by way of 
Strath Oykell, Glen Einig, and, on the western watershed, 
Glen Achallt, so that in 1893 they appeared on the shores 
of Loch Broom. 

Great as was the progress of the northern advance from 
Beaufort, the southern and eastern movements were as 
rapid and as extensive. In 1848 Squirrels had reached the 
banks of Loch Ness near Dochfour, and from Glenurqu- 
hart proceeded to Glenmoriston where they became 
common in 1864. Still holding along the northern bank of 
Loch Ness they reached Fort Augustus about 1851 and 
Glen Garry some three or four years later. Thence they 
penetrated to northern Argyllshire, where they were seen in 
1891 on the shores of Loch Eil, and pushing westwards they 
reached the Atlantic coast in Ardnamurchan in 1896. 

To the east from Beaufort, the fertile and wooded levels 
bordering the Moray Firth allowed of easy progress. The 
town of Inverness was surrounded in 1851, and by regular 
advances the Squirrels reached Nairnshire (Cawdor) in 1855, 
Morayshire (Glen of Rothes) in 1860, and then, in company 
with wanderers from the forests of Speyside, crossed the 
narrow waist of Banffshire to Aberdeenshire, where they 
reached Drumblade near Huntly, about 1864, Turriff in 
1865 or 1866, Fyvie in 1867, and Troup Head in 1875 or 
1876. In steady stream they seem to have trooped down 
the valley of the Ythan from F^yvie to the woods about 
Haddo House, and thence to the neighbourhood of Ellon, 
where Dr R. M. Wilson noticed them in the early 'eighties. 
They are now also common in the isolated woods of Pitfour 
House near Old Deer. So the north-eastern corner of 
Aberdeenshire is no longer the untrodden ground which 
Dr Har vie- Brown found it to be close on forty years ago. 


While artificial restorations of the Squirrel were being 
made at these scattered localities, it is possible that the old 
native race itself was making new efforts to retrieve the 
ground it had lost, stimulated by the growth of new wood- 
lands in places which before had been barren. We can 
hardly believe that, so long as some of the great native 


forests still spread over miles of territory, a few pairs of 
Squirrels did not survive in their depths, awaiting the dawn 
of a new era to multiply and spread. 

Dr Harvie-Brown was of opinion that such a resuscitation 
took place in the Forest of Rothiemurchus on the northern 
flanks of the Inverness-shire Grampians. Squirrels were seen 
in 1844 in the woods of Upper Strathspey and in 1856 had 
reached Grantown-on-Spey. From this point onwards their 
movements merged with those of the eastern army from 
Beaufort, with which they apparently combined in the over- 
running of the southern shores of the Moray Firth and 
northern Aberdeenshire. 

So the Squirrels, like the Capercaillies, followed the 
wooded valleys, checked here and there, it is true, by bare 
stretches of mountain or treeless slopes, but persevering until 
they had replaced in Scotland a race of Squirrels it had all 
but lost. Now they range the country from Wigtownshire 
to Sutherland and from the Atlantic Ocean to the North 
Sea. The country of their adoption has favoured them ; 
they have multiplied so enormously that they have come to 
be regarded as one of the prime pests of the forester, for 
they destroy the young shoots of pine trees, remove the 
bark, devour the seeds, and commit these enormities in such 
overpowering numbers that, in the woods of Glen Tanar, 
Aberdeenshire, 1000 trees valued at ^500 were destroyed in 
the first fifteen years after the Squirrel's appearance there. 
Thereafter an average of about 200 Squirrels was shot in 
these woods every year. In the Cawdor plantations in 
Nairnshire, where a small reward of a few pence was given 
for each Squirrel killed, 14,123 Squirrels were presented in 
the course of sixteen years, for the slaughter of which the sum 
of ,213 13^. <^d, was paid. And the rate of increase north 
of the Caledonian canal has been still more remarkable (see 
p. 181). 

A success from the acclimatization point of view, the 
introduction of the Squirrel, like so many introductions, has 
proved a failure, if not a disaster, from the economic stand- 


Passing reference may be made to an interesting attempt 
of the late Marquis of Bute to acclimatize the Beaver (Castor 
canadensis} in Scotland, although strictly speaking the experi- 
ment has little more bearing on the Scottish fauna than the 
placing of animals in the Scottish Zoological Park, since the 
creatures were kept in an enclosure. In the three or four acres 
of this enclosure, situated in the woods west of Kilchattan Bay 
in Bute, the Beavers lived happily and prospered so that the 
four imported (from Canada) in 1874 had increased to six- 
teen in 1 878. They felled trees, built clams across the stream 
which ran through their enclosure, erected a lodge and 
seemed to have thoroughly settled down. Yet in 1890, less 
than twenty years after their establishment, the Beaver had 
died out in Bute. 

A similar result ended a similar experiment begun about 
1868 near Wangford in Suffolk; but there the Beavers were 
cast derelict by man and had they not been trapped or killed, 
seemed likely to thrive, for they bred and colonized new 


To what motive do we owe the spread of the tiny Mol- 
lusca that have been 'placed in artificial ponds and canals? 
not to the love of beauty, for they are insignificant in 
appearance, but probably merely to the desire of the collector 
to have in his neighbourhood a creature in which he took an 
interest. In any case his activities in this direction have not 
had much significance. Some Pond Snails, Limncea stagnalis 
and L. glabra, have been added to the fauna of Scotland, 
the former occurring, for example, at Possil Marsh, and in 
a dam at Greenock where it was introduced in 1882, the 
latter in Frankfield Loch, where it was placed before 1876. 
The little Sph&rium lacustre, once absent from Scotland, 
now occurs through man's agency in the Forth and Clyde 
Canal and in Possil Marsh near Glasgow. 


Occasionally it happens that animals deliberately brought 
into the country to be kept as pets regain their freedom and 


for a time rove the country as though they were of its 
denizens. In a few cases, hardy creatures such as Red and 
Grey Squirrels have succeeded in establishing themselves, but 
as a rule, "escapes" leave no trace upon the native fauna. 
The Smooth or Ringed Snake (Tropidonotus natrix) has 
been found at large many times, in the suburbs of Edinburgh, 
in the neighbourhood of Paisley, in the woods of Carluke, 
Lanarkshire, bat there is no reason to believe that the 
apparently native specimens were other than escapes, or 
that, in spite of its opportunities, the Ringed Snake has 
ever become established with us. 

So also it has been with the favourites of the bird- 
fancier, the Baltimore Oriole, the Canary, the White-throated 
Sparrow, all of which having at one time or another escaped 
from confinement have spent a short life, if not a merry one, 
in freedom in Scottish localities. The escape from ornamental 
ponds of Ducks, such as the Muscovy and Summer, of 
Geese, as the Spurvvinged, Chinese and Canada, of Demoi- 
selle and Crowned Cranes, and many others, also frequently 
occurs, but, except for the Canada Goose, established at Loch 
Leven, Loch Lomond and elsewhere, the venturers have 
never succeeded in making good a footing. 


Man has caused many an unpremeditated injury through 
his rash and thoughtless introduction of new animals, but it 
has been left to a Falconer of Shetland to furnish the soli- 
tary example of deliberate ill-intent. 

"There are no Weasels in all the northern Isles of Zetland, as I am informed," 
wrote Brand in his careless style, " tho' numerous in the mainland, which 
they report thus came to pass : The Falconer having a Power given him to 
get a Hen out of every House, once in the Year; but one Year they refusing 
or not being so willing to give, The Falconer out of Revenge, brought the 
next year two Weasels with him, which did generate and spread, so that now 
they are become very destructive to several goods of the Inhabitants, whereof 
a Gentleman our Informer told us he had killed several half an Ell long." 

This importation of the seventeenth century, the Stoat and 
not the Weasel as Brand alleges, is said still to be repre- 
sented in the Shetlands, although in the Orkneys where it 
was likewise dumped, it has disappeared. 

Whether the story be true or not, the deliberate result is 
on a par with the results of many thoughtless introductions of 


more significance the Rabbit and Squirrel in Scotland, the 
Rabbit, Weasel and Fox in Australia and New Zealand, the 
Sparrow and Starling in many parts of the world pointing 
a warning finger at the naturalist and reformer who, by in- 
troducing animals would revise Nature's order, and' by short 
cuts and unimaginative experiments tends to make a wilder- 
ness where he had looked for a paradise. 

Fig. 54. Some Deliberate Introductions to Great Britain ; shown diagrammatically 
associated with the country of their origin. Introductions which have died out or have 
failed are indicated by an x . 





Nothing is foreign; parts relate to whole; 
One all-extending, all-preserving soul 
Connects each being, greatest with the least; 
Made beast in aid of Man, and Man of beast ; 
All serv'd, all serving: nothing stands alone; 
The chain holds on, and where it ends unknown. 


FAR beyond the bounds of his original intention man's 
influence upon Nature has extended, till scarcely a 
" Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see, No glass can 
reach" but has felt the touch of his power. Indeed, balancing 
the effects of his direct influence against the indirect or 
secondary results of his interference, one is forced to the 
conclusion that the latter have been more far-reaching 
and ultimately more effective in altering the aspect of the 
countries and of the faunas he has invaded. There is no 
action in nature but has its equal and opposite reaction. 

To some of these indirect results passing reference has 
already been made. The introduction of new animals, and 
especially of domestic stock, has entirely altered the face of 
Scotland, for it has led to the disappearance of forests, as well 
as to the lowering of the upper limit of forest growth and to 
a transformation in ground vegetation. Many native animals 
have been reduced in numbers or banished from the country, 
and others have been encouraged to multiply and spread. 

The following chapters, making closer scrutiny of this 
aspect of man's influence, endeavour to trace the tendencies 
and extent of the three types of interference with Nature, 
which, rebounding upon animal life, have made the greatest 
impress upon the composition and distribution of the fauna 
of to-day the destruction of the forests, the cultivation of 
the soil and amenities of civilization, and the develop- 
ment of commerce with foreign lands. A few additional 
illustrations of the unforeseen effects of the coming of man 
will be found in the concluding chapter of this volume. 


"The broad woodland parcelled into farms"; 

" Lies the hawk's cast, the mole has made his run, 
The hedgehog underneath the plantain bores, 
The rabbit fondles his own harmless face, 
The slow-worm creeps and the thin weasel there 
Follows the mouse, and all is open field." 


ONE inevitable result has followed in the wake of civiliza- 
tion wherever man, the transformer, has penetrated the 
disappearance of woodland. It was not so in the days of primi- 
tive cultures. The great forest tracts of America, which 
covered the whole country except in prairie regions, survived 
without significant change during the undisturbed occupation 
of the simple Indian races. It is true that the Indian hunter 
made his clearings in the forest, and tended his narrow 
fields, but so soon as he moved to new regions in pursuit of 
game, Nature resumed control, and in a generation the old 
clearing was obliterated by fresh growths of scrub and timber. 
" In the husbandry of Nature" says Marsh, "there are no 

It must have been thus in the days of the early occupa- 
tion of Scotland, when Nature ruled the wilds; but, as his 
power increased, man gathered the reins from Nature's hands 
and drove his chariot of progress through the heart of the 
forest, leaving scars which time could no longer heal. In 
America, under the rule of white men, the native forests are 
fast disappearing ; in Scotland they have all but gone. 

VI. i 

LONG before man made his appearance in the country, 
Scottish forests had their vicissitudes. Even after the 
settlements of the early Neolithic peoples had been made, 
Nature still retained a firm grip of her own, and her strong 
hand can be traced in the successive rise and disappearance 
of great forest tracts, such as we can scarcely imagine at the 
present day. A glance at these changes will supply a per- 
spective from which later happenings can be the better 


No records remain to tell, of the strange fluctuations of 
Scottish climate and vegetation, except the scant stores of 
insignificant debris hidden in the bottoms of ancient lakes 
or in the depths of peat-bogs; but to the investigations of 
a small band of workers, James Bennie, Clement Reid, and 
especially Francis J. Lewis, these hidden treasures have 
revealed a marvellous tale of change. 

After the great period of the Ice Age had gone, Arctic 
plants spread from the hills to the level of the sea, but in 
the western and northern islands these glacial immigrants 
from the continent had scarcely obtained a foothold before 
a warmer and drier climate ushered in the Lower Forest of 
the Peat. Trees of Birch, Hazel and Alder found foothold 
upon the valley floors, and gradually climbing the hillsides, 
spread in a vast forest, here more dense, there more sparse, 
extending from the lowland valleys to an altitude approxi- 
mating to that of our modern woods, close on 2000 feet. 
Even to the Hebrides and the Shetland Isles, where now 
no trees can grow, the Lower Forest spread. In the times of 
the Lower Forest of the Peat, man had not yet penetrated 
to northern Britain. 




On the heels of the warm and dry period, during which 
the woods of Birch, Hazel and Alder flourished, came a second 
period of moist cold when glaciers again appeared in the 
highland valleys and Arctic plants crept downwards into the 


Sphagnum, Sedge and 
Cotton Grass 



Roots and Cones of 
Scots Fir 




12 Cotton Grass 



126 Crowberry 



Cotton Grass 
14 l ",, Sphagnum 



Birch remains 



Structureless Peat and 
coarse Sand 


Coarse Sand 
Glacial debris 

Fig. 55. Diagrammatic section of upland peat-moss in Lowland Scotland (Merrick 
and Kells District) showing relationship of former plant deposits and of the Lower and 
Upper Forests, the latter contemporaneous with man. (Founded on investigations of 
Mr Francis ]. Lewis.) 

lowland plains. In many areas, the Lower Forest, hampered 
and swamped by the development of boggy pools and sphag- 
num moss about its roots, decayed and fell, and was buried 
by great stretches of morass and peat moss. It is probable 
that man arrived in Scotland during the inhospitable con- 
ditions of these times. 



But such conditions too eventually gave way, and for a 
second time a drier climate ushered in a new forest growth, 
the greatest forest that Scotland, as we know it, has ever 
seen. Yet the new forest was different from the old. It 
spread from the lowlands of Wigtownshire to the north of 
Sutherland, but nowhere does it appear to have extended to 
the islands of the Hebrides or to Shetland. On the mainland, 
however, it reached far beyond the limits of the woodland 
of to-day, clothing the mountains with its verdure to a height 
of over 3000 feet, a good thousand feet above our highest 
present day birch woods. Of equal interest is the fact that 
the Upper Forest of the Peat was in the main composed of 
a tree which has come to be particularly associated with 
Scotland, the Scots Fir (Pinus sylvestris], which now for the 
first time invaded northern Britain. 

It is no simple matter to compare forests of some eight 
thousand years ago with those of to-day, but a rough cal- 
culation, checked by reference to the conditions of a land so 
little influenced by cultivation as Scandinavia, indicates that 
the Upper Forest covered an area at least ten times as great 
as that of our modern woods, that where they cover a 
meagre twenty-fifth to twentieth of the land surface, it 
overspread half the country (see Fig. 86, p. 484). 

In this great forest, the settlers of the New Stone Age 
hunted the Reindeer and the Elk, the Red Deer, the 
Roe, and the great Urus; in it they defended their flocks 
from the ravages of the Brown Bear, the Wolf and the 
Northern Lynx, and captured for the sake of their Mesh and 
skins the Badger, the Otter and the Beaver. 


Great as has been the destruction wrought by man in 
our woodlands, the series of natural changes revealed in the 
layers of our peat mosses should warn us lest we lay too 
much to the charge of human interference. Man was well 
established in Scotland at the period of the greatest develop- 
ment of forest growth, and from that time till now has been 
in continuous occupation, yet it would be a mistake to 
imagine that the reduction of wooded area was entirely due 
to his efforts. The peat mosses have another revelation to 


The swing of the climatic pendulum brought again a 
period of wetter conditions during which the main masses 
of " recent " peat were formed. Physical conditions favoured 
the extension of peat and moorland areas at the expense of 
forest, for the humic acid of the peat bogs acts as a destroyer 
of trees, and winds favour low growing moorland vege- 
tation rather than saplings exposed to the full fury of the 
blast. As peat and moorland spread, woodland decayed, 
and the destructive influence of man was for long aided and 
abetted by the processes of Nature. 

At the present day the moist conditions of the time of the 
"recent" peat formations have somewhat ameliorated, for in 
many places, peat, instead of forming, is itself decaying and 
being washed away by the weather. So that had not man 
stepped in to interfere, forest areas would probably now 
have been undergoing a natural extension. 


Between the records of the peat-bogs and the annals of 
history there is a chasm difficult to bridge. At what period 
of human development the great Upper Forest of the Peat 
began to decay under the excessive moisture of later times. 
we do not know. The forest had certainly been replaced to 
some extent by swamp before the opening of the Christian 
era, and the Roman historians are at one in describing 
Caledonia as a land of clouds and rain, of bogs and morasses. 
Yet they are equally emphatic as regards the great extent 
of wood and the variety of trees which clothed the land. 
Other evidence, such as that deduced from the distribution 
of primitive iron-smelting furnaces, points to the occurrence 
of great tracts of forest in late prehistoric times and in 
places whence woodland has almostor altogether disappeared. 

The earliest references to Scottish woodland are, how- 
ever, of comparatively late date, and show that in the 
twelfth century the necessity had already arisen of conserving 
forest growth by laws and penalties. The Leges Forestarum, 
generally ascribed to the reign of William the Lion (i 165- 
1214), though by many held to be of later date, prohibit 
the taking of fire or of domestic animals into the woods, as 
well as the cutting of oak trees. Some of the penalties are 
curious: if fire, a horse, or a dog were brought to the wood, 


eight cows were to be forfeited, while if goats were found there 
at large, one was to be hung up by the horns in a tree. 
Yet in the twelfth century Caithness still possessed the woods 
it now lacks, for the Orkneyinga Saga relates how at that 
time the Yarls Harald and Rognvald were accustomed 
nearly every summer to fare to Caithness, and there to go 
up into the woods and wastes to hunt. 

From this time onwards Scots laws and charters make 
frequent reference to forests throughout the country, but it 
is necessary to bear in mind in interpreting the significance 
of these references that their " forests " were not our forests. 
The old "forest" was an area given over to hunting, and is 
perhaps best denned by the negative statement that it con- 
tained no arable land. It bore some resemblance to the 
"deer forests" of the present day: it did indeed contain 
woodland and covert for the shelter of its wild inhabitants, 
but it also contained open areas of browsing pasture or 
"vert," as it was termed. The "forest" of Scots law must not 
be regarded as an area entirely covered with dense woods. 
Thus when we read of a vast forest in southern Scotland 
extending from Chillingham tp Hamilton, a distance of 
about eighty miles as the crow flies, and including the 
famous Ettrick Forest and many others, we may imagine no 
more than a stretch of wild and desolate country given over 
to wild beasts, and containing many extensive woods, but 
containing also stretches of barren moor and lush meadow. 

An idea of the extent of woodland in the early days of 
the consolidation of Scotland may be gained by reference to 
two widely separated areas selected almost at random. 


The names of many places in Dumfriesshire Mouswald, 
Thortorwald, Tinwald clearly indicate the former presence 
of wald or wood, where none now exists. In a Charter of 
Alexander II (1214-1249) Richard de Bancori quits claims 
to his lord, Robert de Brus, of the woods of Musfaud or 
Mouswald ; and substantial tradition asserts that a great 
oak forest spread from that place, by Thortorwald to Tin- 
wald, so dense that a man could have traversed the distance 
from tree to tree without putting foot to ground. The extent 
of this wood probably exceeded twenty square miles. 



Or take the case of Aberdeenshire. Here there were no 
fewer than eight forests, Dyce, Drumoak, Birse, Mar, 
Stocket, Kintore, Buchan and Bennachie. The last was 
included in grants by the Earl of Mar to Sir Robert de 
Erskine (1358) "cum pastura in foresta de Benechkey 
[Bennachie]." In 1324 King Robert the Bruce granted 
lands in Buchan "cum nova foresta" and the forest of Kin- 
tore to Robert Keith, Marischal of the Kingdom. But the 
most interesting of the Aberdeenshire forests, in view of its 
history and early disappearance, was that of Stocket, wherein, 
in loio, Malcolm 1 1 came near to losing his life by the attack 
of a wolf. In 1319 this forest was granted by Robert the 
Bruce to the burgh of Aberdeen, for an annual reddenda of 
^"213. 6s. &/. the King reserving the right of "vert" and 
hunting therein. The Provost of Aberdeen for the time 
being, was Keeper of the Forest of Stocket, which extended 
to some thirty square miles and was ultimately held by 
Aberdeen in free Burgage of the Crown at a nominal rent. 
Under the town's auspices this ancient forest, which lay just 
outside the bounds of modern Aberdeen, was soon " im- 
proved and alienated from its original purpose." 


After the period referred to in these charters it is evident 
that the woods of Scotland suffered rapid destruction at the 
hands of man, for law after law was passed aiming at the 
preservation of the old timber and the planting of new. In 

it is ordained, that... them that be night steelis greene woodde, or pealis the 
bark off trees, destroiand wooddes...sall paie fourtie shillings to the King 
for the unlaw and assyith the partie skaithed ; 

and in the middle of the century, freeholders, temporal and 
spiritual, were commanded to order their tenants to plant 
woods and trees, to make hedges and sow broom in con- 
venient places and according to the extent of their holdings. 
These regulations seem to have done little to stay the destruc- 
tion. Parliament after Parliament passed similar enactments, 
putting the old acts " in sharp execution," increasing the 
obligation of landholders on the plea that 


the woodes of Scotland being utterlie destroyed. ...everlik Lord and Laird 
make them to... plant at the least, ane aiker of Woode, quhair there is na 
great Wooddes nor Forrestes ; 

and increasing, also, the penalties for disobedience, until in 


quhat-sumever person stealis, pealis, and destroyis green-wood, pullis or 

cuttis haned case the offendours be not responsall in gudes,... 

for the first fault be put in the stokkes, prison or irones auct [eight] dayes 

on bread and water; And for the second fault, fifteene dayes.... And for the 

third fault hanging to the death. 

Yet in this sixteenth century, in spite of the decadence 
the law records, Scotland was by no means a bare country. 
Bishop Leslie, who wrote from first hand knowledge, refers 
again and again to fair woodland ; 

heir agane sail ye se...a dry knowe, or a^thin forrest, thair.a thick wodd, all 
meruellouse delectable to the eye, tnrouch the varietie baith of thair 
situatione, and of the thing selfe that thair growis ; . . . Paslay quhilke is situat 
amang cnowis, grene woodis, schawis 1 and forrest fair onn the River of 
Carronn;...Vuir 2 Clydisdale or lykwyse nathir 3 Cludisdale, 
amang fair forrests and schawis schene; with thicker woodes sum are 
decored 4 . 

And again 

From thir cuntreyes that wyde and ample forrest, called the Tor Wod [Cale- 
donia Silva~\, hes the beginning; quhais boundis war sa large, that frome 
the Callendar and Caldir Wod evin to Lochquhaber war extendet. 

Leslie's testimony notwithstanding, visitors to Scotland 
like Aeneas Sylvius and Fynes Moryson were struck by the 
bareness of the country. In Fife, says the latter, " trees are 
so scarce that I remember not to have seen one wood," and 
"one of the senseless gibes of that splenetic southron," as 
Professor Hume Brown dubbed Sir Anthony Weldon, was 
that (in 1617) Judas could not have found a tree in Scotland 
whereon to hang himself. 

The truth seems to lie in this, that in the populous and 
cultivated areas to which the foreign visitors naturally paid 
most attention, long usage had seriously reduced the wood- 
land, but that in the ruder regions forests were still to be 
found in plenty. Surely there is transparent ignorance of 
the north country in Andrew Boorde's letter of 1536 to 
Thomas Cromwell, where he says of Scotland : 

1 Thickets. 2 Over or Upper. 3 Lower. * Adorned. 


The part next England is the hart and best of the realme; theirin is plenty 
of fyshe and flesh, and snell ale, except Leth [Leith] ale,... the other parte 
of Scotland is a baryn and a waste country full of mores. 

And it seems to me that the other travellers were equally in 
error in generalizing from impressions gained in the centres 
of population and industry. In proof of the great ignorance 
of the Highlands which prevailed even amongst the elect of 
Scotland I need do no more than cite the joy of the Par- 
liament sitting in Edinburgh in 1609, at "the discovery of 
woods in the Highlands which, by reason of the savageness 
of the inhabitants, had been unknown, or at least unused." 

It is fair to assume, therefore, that the plaints of Par- 
liament "how Woods, Parks, and all sort of Planting and 
haning decayes within this Realme" (1607), refer mainly to 
the familiar country, roughly to the south of the line of the 
Forth and Clyde estuaries. 

Here certainly the nation was in straits for timber. 
Ettrick Forest, which actually gave the name :> Forrest- 
shire " to a great stretch of country "south from Tweeddale," 
was "dissolved from the Crown to be set in few 1 " in 1587; 
and King James VI, when he made the wise proposal to 
his Privy Council that, in order to conserve timber for home 
uses, exports of Scottish timber should be totally prohibited, 
had to be reminded that within the memory of man no 
timber had ever been exported from Scotland. 

A generous reading between the lines of the law, seems 
to me to indicate that the drastic steps taken by the Par- 
liaments of the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries 
were due, not so much to the absolute lack of woods, as to 
the great and increasing importance of timber on account of 
the national uses to which it was put, and to the difficulty of 
finding sufficient supplies to meet the constant demand. 
Statutes of the latter half of the seventeenth century, 
mention by name at least thirty different forests in Scotland; 
and it is a pleasure to turn to Gilpin's cheerful account of 
Scottish forest scenery at the end of the eighteenth century, 
and to his appreciation of the natural pine and birch woods 
of the north, of the oak mixing " its cheerful verdure with 
the dark green tint of the pine " in the county of Stirling, of 
the " great quantity of very fine timber " in the woods of 

1 Feu. 


Abernethy, of the " very romantic " woods of Braemar, and 
so on through half the counties of Scotland. 

Relics of the great native woods of Scotland still 
remain in a few places, ghosts of a past grandeur. In the 
south country the Ettrick Forest is represented by a few 
natural patches of birch and oak, like that between Ashiestiel 
and Elibank ; in the midlands a few trees, scattered here 
.and there throughout the country in Glen Falloch near 
the head of Loch Lomond, on the mass of Ben Lui, in the 
Black Wood of Rannoch, in the Ballochbuie Forest at the 
foot of Lochnagar, in Locheil Old Forest on Loch Arkaig, 
in Glen Nevis and the neighbourhood of Loch Linnhe 
are all that are left of the, great " Wod of Caledon," if we 
except the native Forest of Rothiemurchus. This fine forest 
whose dark masses of pine woods cluster about the northern 
base of the Grampians, and spread from Glen Feshie along 
the valley of the Spey and across into Dulnan Valley at 
Carrbridge, gives still in its local development a grand idea 
of the appearance of the wooded Scotland of prehistoric 
days. The old woods of the northern Highlands survive 
on the shores of Loch Maree, in the Rhidorroch or Dark 
Forest north of Ullapool, and furthest north in a few trees 
on the Oykell above Rosehall. 

Furthermore tradition still speaks of the existence of 
forest in many a district where it is known only by name : 

Calder 1 wood was fair to see 
When it went to Cameltrie ; 
Calder wood was fairer still 
When it we4it o'er Crosswood hill. 

Yet the end of the argument is this, that whereas in the 
early days of man's settlement probably half the land was 
covered with wood, in our day the wooded area is a miserable 
4 or 4-5 per cent, of the whole. 

1 A parish in Midlothian. 

VI. 2 


How came it that the fine forests of Scotland decayed 
so completely ? Nature, we have seen, with changing 
climes and conditions played her part, but man must 
bear the heavier share of the guilt of destruction. A short 
study of the immediate causes of the destruction of the forest 
will show how deeply his ways of life and the advances of 
his civilization bit into the woodland. 


In point of time the earliest uses to which the woods 
were put were those of the household, and of these one of the 
first was fire. Excavations of prehistoric settlements almost 
invariably reveal the presence of hearth-stones blackened 
and burnt by fire, for fire was essential even where a cave 
sufficed for a habitation. It is true that dried seaweeds were 
occasionally used for fuel, and that the dung of cattle con- 
tinued to be so used even to comparatively recent times in 
the outlying islands, but the staple fuel was the brushwood 
and timber of the forest. The destruction of timber on this 
account must have been great, for wood continued to be the 
chief fuel through many thousands of years, since, although 
peat and turves were used to some extent in King David's 
reign in the twelfth century, the use of coal, first mentioned 
in a charter of 1291, only became general under the compul- 
sion of lack of firewood. 

Even when Continental nations still had wood in abund- 
ance, the people of Scotland were compelled to burn these 
curious black stones to the amazement of Pope Pius II, 
who, following upon a visit to James I in the fifteenth 
century, wrote 

In this country [of Scotland] I saw the poor, who almost in a state of 
nakedness begged at the church doors, depart with joy on their faces on 


receiving stones as alms. This stone, whether by reason of sulphurous or 
some fatter matter which it contains, is burned instead of wood, of which 
the country is destitute. 

Indeed the mining of coal in Britain seems to have 
been almost confined to Scotland in the sixteenth century ; 
for according to Hector Boece : 

In Fyffe ar won blak stanis, quhilk hes sa intollerable heit, quhen thay ar 
kindillit, that they resolve and meltis irne, and ar thairfore richt proffitable 
for operation of smithis. This kind of blak stanis ar won in na part of 
Albion bot allanerlie betwix Tay and Tyne. 


Second only to the use of wood for fire, was the 
use of timber in the making of shelters for the comfort of 
human occupants. In one of the earliest known sites of 
occupation in Scotland, the Azilian settlement of Oronsay, 
Mr Henderson Bishop found, deeply sunk in the sand, holes 
which could only have contained strong upright posts for 
the support of a superficial structure ; and the investigations 
of Dr J. N. Marshall and Mr Ludovic Mann at the much 
later vitrified fort of Dunagoil in Bute leave no room for 
doubt that the dwellers there inhabited well-built huts roofed 
and perhaps walled with wattle plastered over with clay. 
Mr A. O. Curie has found similar evidence of the use 
of wattle huts at Traprain in Haddingtonshire. As the 
centuries passed and men congregated in towns, the call 
for timber for the erection of houses increased manifold. 
Even in 1666, at the time of the Great Fire, London was 
largely built of wood, and timbered houses were character- 
istic of Edinburgh at a still later date. So great was the 
demand for building oak, that large supplies had to be im- 
ported from abroad, and when, in the reign of Queen Mary, 
Denmark prohibited the sale of oak to Scottish traders, the 
embargo, according to Professor Hume Brown, threatened 
to put an end to housebuilding in Scotland. The influence 
of timber-built towns and villages upon Scottish forests can 
well be imagined one example of its actual working will 
suffice to point the argument. In 1792 the Rev. Thomas 
White, in an Account of the Parish of Liberton, wrote : * - 

The Burrow Moor [of Edinburgh] where the scenes just mentioned [the 
scrimmage or "Battle" of Lousie Law in 1571] happened, is at present 


well cultivated, and of much value. At that time it was full of aged oaks : 
And it is observed, that the timber of which all the wooden houses in 
Edinburgh were built was taken from thence. 

In gaining her towns, Scotland lost her forests. 


In the old days, a necessary corollary to the conquest of 
a wooded country, where the country was to be held by the 
invading force, was the destruction of woodland, in order 
that the progress of the invaders should be eased and 
that no lurking places should remain, whence remnants of 
the defending army might sally forth upon the flanks of 
their enemy. The earliest systematic conquest of Scotland 
recorded in history is that of the Romans in the early 
centuries of our era ; and tradition speaks strongly to the 
destruction wrought by the Roman legions in the forests of 
England and of southern Scotland. Nor is the tradition 
without some show of archaeological support. So long ago 
as 1701, it was noted of the buried forest of Hadfield Moss 
in Yorkshire that 

many of those trees of all sorts have been burnt, but especially the Pitch 
or Firr trees, some quite through, and some all on a side ; some have been 
chopped and squared, some bored through, otherwise half riven with great 
wooden wedges and stones in them, and broken ax-heads ; 

and again, in Lincolnshire, under hills of sand, were dis- 
covered "roots of great Firrs or Pitch trees, with the im- 
presses of the ax as fresh upon them as if they had been 
cut down a few weeks." In both cases, coins of the Roman 
emperors were found associated with the ruined forests. The 
evidence, if not demonstrative, is suggestive ; and there can 
be little doubt that the Romans would have adopted so 
obvious a way of ensuring the fruits of their conquest, as the 
levelling of great tracts of forest, especially in the dangerous 
areas on the newly won frontiers of the Empire. 

In much later days invasions followed a similar course. 
In describing John of Gaunt's invasion of Scotland in 1380, 
the English historian, Knighton, says that at one and the 
same time, it was possible to hear the sound of 80,000 axes 
felling the timber of the woods, and that the timber so cut 
was given as fodder to the fire. 


Whether this be exaggeration or not, it at any rate 
indicates grievous destruction, typical of the progress of 
invading armies. 


Through long ages the northern parts of Scotland, that 
is to say the country north of the line of the Forth and 
Clyde, were considered by the southron to be dangerous 
and savage places, entered with one's life in one's hand. 
To facilitate travelling in these uncouth areas, roads had 
to be made and the woodland to be cleared. During 
such a process, it was the custom, based upon expediency, 
to destroy the trees and undergrowth for some distance on 
both sides of the road, in order that a clear view might be 
obtained and that no shelter might be left wherein a lurking 
highwayman could be concealed. But the desire for safe 
travelling led to further destruction, for bands of robbers 
sought shelter in the thick woods, whence they could sally 
upon a slow convoy, and whither they could retire again in 
safety with their booty. " Upon the shore of Lochebrune " 
wrote Monro in 1549, "lyes Elian Ew, haffe myle in length, 
full of woods, guid for thieves to wait upon uther mens 
gaire 1 ." And again, " Northwarte frae this ile lyes the ile 
of Graynorde, maire nore ane myle lange, full of wood, guid 
for fostering of thieves and rebellis." So grievous became 
the assaults of such outlaws upon the persons and purses 
of the lieges, and upon the preserved game of the forest as 
well, that only by the destruction of their haunts could the 
land be rid of them. So Hector Boece records in the six- 
teenth century : " The regioun [of " Fyffe "] is now bair of 
woddis, for the thevis war sumtime sa frequent in the samin, 
that thay micht na way be dantit 2 , quhill 3 the woddis was 
bet 4 doon 5 ." 


The forests had more legitimate, but not less trouble- 
some tenants in the hordes of wolves they harboured. A 
prayer in the old Litany of Dunkeld runs, "From caterans 

1 Gear, goods. 2 Daunted, defeated. 

3 Until. 4 Beaten. 

5 Cf. quotation on p. 319, each in its exaggeration contains a significant 


and robbers, from wolves and all wild beasts, Lord deliver 
us." I have already described the wolf plague and the 
stages of the downfall of Scottish wolves (p. 115); it is 
sufficient here to call to mind that their destruction in- 
volved that of many woods. In the districts of Rannoch and 
Blair Athole in Perthshire, of Lochaber in Inverness-shire, 
in the region about Loch Awe in Argyllshire, and in other 
places as well, local tradition or more definite record asserts 
that extensive forests were burned down to extirpate the 
wolves, by demolishing the retreats in which they found 


A heavy and long-continued drain upon the native forests 
was made by the demand for wood for industrial purposes. 
For long Scotland had held a foremost place amongst the 
peoples who go down to the sea in ships, and the erection 
of boats and ships of war was a constant tax upon well grown 
timber. Of one of the latter, the famous "Great Michael" 
built in 1511 at Newhaven near Leith, it was written that 
James IV 

buildit the ' Michael,' ane verrie monstruous great ship, whilk tuik sae 
meikle timber that schee waisted all the woodis in Fyfe, except Falkland 
Wood, besides the timber that cam out of Norroway. 

Even so the destruction due to boat-building was as 
nothing to that wrought by the industries in which wood 
was used for fuel. The manufacture of salt from sea-water 
was for long a national industry, practised on so extensive 
a scale along the Firth of Forth, that, as one visitor said, 
"the works are not easily to [be] numbered" ; and, although 
at the industry's greatest development, coal was the chief fuel 
used, in earlier stages the use of wood fires for evaporating 
the brine must have made serious inroads upon the forests 
on various parts of the coast. But no other work of man 
played such havoc with the woodland as the ancient iron 
industry of Scotland. 

From the days of the Iron Age, a thousand years and 
more before the opening of the Christian era, till the early 
years of the nineteenth century, the reduction of iron ore to 
a state fit for casting, was brought about by a process of 
fusion with charcoal. Even in the case of a single furnace, 


as we shall see, this entailed vast destruction of timber. But 
it was no single furnace that met the needs of the country. 
Remains of old iron workings, heaps of slag and charcoal, 
show that throughout Scotland, even on the wild wastes of 
the Highlands, the manufacture of iron was practised. 

Of well defined traces of such workings, still recognizable 
thirty years ago, Prof. W. Ivison Macadam recorded no less 
than ninety-eight, scattered throughout thirteen counties of 
Scotland, from Sutherland to Dumfries ; and certainly as 
many more have gone unrecorded or have disappeared with 
the passing of time and the disturbance of the soil by 

The number and distribution of the iron workings are of 
no small interest as showing the extent of the industry, and 
also as indicating the distribution of woodland in Scotland in 
past times (see Map IV). For it was an axiom of the smelters 
that since iron was more compact and portable than timber, 
it should be carried to the places where wood for its re- 
duction grew thickest. The effect upon Scottish forests of 
the continuous manufacture of charcoal on a large scale, 
through some three thousand years, can better be imagined 
than described. Yet the traces left by time and the hints 
of the law and other records are sufficiently striking. 

At Esmore, in Argyllshire, charcoal ash still covers 
several acres of ground. At Letterewe in Ross-shire, 
English miners wrought a mine, casting cannon and other 
implements "untill," as the Letterfearn manuscript quaintly 
says "the woods of it was spent and the lease of it expired" 
in the early years of the seventeenth century. In England 
in i 556 Queen Elizabeth prohibited iron-smelting in Sussex, 
on account of the amount of wood which was being felled 
for the casting of cannon. The result was to stimulate the 
industry of cannon-casting in other counties ; so that eventu- 
ally there also, the felling of trees had to be prohibited, as 
was the case in the Ulverston district of Lancashire in 
1563, when there was passed "A Decree for the abolishing 
of Bloomeries [as the slag-furnaces were called] in High 

Unfortunately these restrictions caused the iron smelters 
to migrate to Scotland, to the ruin of the Scottish forests. The 
effect was apparent in an Act of the Scottish Parliament of 

Scale of Miles 




The chief areas of distribution are shown, though many individual bloomeries 
have been omitted on map. 


1609, "Anent the making of Yrne with Wode," in which it 
is stated that 

being informit that some personis vpoun advantage of the present generall 
obedience in those partis (the heylandis) wald erect yrne milnis in the same 

pairtis, to the vtter waisting and consumeing of the saidis wodes Thair- 

fore...commandis, chairgeis, and inhibitis all and sindrie his maiesties 
leigis and subjectis that nane of thame presome nor tak vpoun hand to 
woork and mak ony irne with wod or tymmer under the pane of confiscatioun 
of the haill yrne... 

The Scots Act notwithstanding, the smelting of "yrne 
with wode " and the " waisting and consumeing of the 
wodes " went gaily on. Even in the eighteenth century, 
when, after the rebellion of 1715, the military occupation of 
the Highlands had shown a way to fresh forests, many new 
slag-furnaces were erected, to which ore was brought from 

"Thus," wrote Professor Macadam in 1887, "the following furnaces 
sprang into existence: Bunawe or Taynuilt in 1730: Invergarry in the 
same year; Abernethy in Strathspey also in 1730: Furnace in 1750 ; Goat- 
field, Loch Fyne, in 1754; and Carron in 1760. These large works soon 
consumed the wood, and Invergarry and Abernethy soon ceased to be 
worked. Carron, having changed its fuel to coal, still exists; Goatfield and 
Bunawe are only a few years blown out; and there is not now a single 
ironwork in Scotland using charcoal as fuel, and only two remain in 

Incidentally the distribution of these iron furnaces indicates 
roughly where the greatest extent of easily accessible forest 
still existed about the middle of the eighteenth century. 

The destruction wrought by these later and larger 
furnaces was irreparable. In 1728, 60,000 trees were pur- 
chased for ,7000 from the Strathspey forest of Sir James 
Grant. The trees were intended as masts to be used for 
the navy an index to the effect on woodland of our "wooden 
walls " but, proving too small, they were used for charring 
at the iron furnace at Abernethy. About 1786, the Duke 
of Gordon sold his Glenmore Forest to an English company 
for ,10,000; and the Rothiemurchus forest for many-years 
yielded large returns to its proprietor, the profit being some- 
times above ,20,000 in one year. That all the timber of 
these fine forests was used for charring, I do not imagine, 
but destruction on no small scale is certainly indicated by 
the accounts. As forests in the near neighbourhood of the 
bloomeries became exhausted, destruction spread in wider 

R. 21 


and wider circles, and woods more and more remote fell 
under the axe. At one period the Carron Iron-works Com- 
pany at Falkirk in Stirlingshire, purchased for ^"900 a 
wood in Glenmoriston, on the north side of Loch Ness, in 
spite of the fact that it was distant eight miles of very bad 
road from the waterway of Loch Ness, and that the timber 
had to be carried thence to Carron. The Coalecken furnace 
on Loch Fyne turned out every year 700 tons of pig iron, 
and, as Macadam relates in 1887, 

the older inhabitants in the district still remember seeing the string of 
from 30 to 40 ponies laden with charcoal coming over the hill road from 
Lochawe, 'which is distant about 10 miles. The material was contained in 
bags which were placed on a large cradle saddle to protect the sides of the 
animal. The work ceased in 1813. 

At first the furnace was taken to the forest, latterly the 
forest had to be taken to the furnace. 

During the past century, the use of wood for smelting 
gradually ceased, but not until the discovery of suitable 
woods and the longer transport of the timber became 
matters of insuperable difficulty, and not before many "fair 
forrests and schawis schene" throughout Scotland had bowed 
their heads to the woodsman's axe. 


It is evident that the progress of civilization as embodied 
in the domestication of animals and the development of 
agriculture has been gained in great part at the expense of 
the virgin forest. The process is an old one, extending from 
the times when prehistoric man surrounded his settlements 
with clearings for his meagre fields, to the agricultural boom 
of the eighteen-sixties when, for example in Aberdeenshire, 
considerable areas of woodland were transformed into arable 
land. Even the pasturage of Sheep has had an enormous 
influence, for much of the "natural pasture" of the uplands 
has been gained from the original forest. There is little 
to show that the pastures of the southern uplands of Scotland 
were once covered with forest wherein the Red Deer and 
the Roe gave sport to kings. Yet the disappearance of the 
forest can be traced through the centuries keeping pace with 
the increase of the shepherd's flocks. Even in recent times, 
in the Highlands, forest has disappeared before the advance 


of sheep. The brothers, John Sobieski and Charles 
Edward Stuart, mention the occurrence of a great fire in 
Lord Lovat's deer forest of Glen Strath- Farar, "where twelve 
miles of pine, birch and oak woods, were burned in the 
tenantry of the late Eskedail to improve the sheep pasture." 

In another way domestic animals have had an important 
effect on forest growth. Writingof Tunisia, Principal Perkins 
has said " In so far as young trees or shrubs are concerned, 
the passage of a flock of goats will do quite as much damage 
as a bush fire" ; and in 1835 it was recorded that in the 
parishes of Urquhart and Glenmoriston in Inverness-shire, 
"goats were formerly numerous but have of late been dis- 
countenanced, as injurious to woods and plantations." In 
The Origin of Species, Darwin cites a telling example of 
the destructive effect of cattle-grazing upon the natural 
development of Scots fir at Farnham in Surrey. On our 
own highland moors in Inverness-shire, I have watched 
seedlings of birch spring up year after year, even to a 
hundred yards away from the parent trees, only to be 
destroyed by Sheep and Rabbits as regularly as they grew. 
In this way the natural spread of the woods is constantly 
kept in check, and the upper limit of our forest growth has 
been depressed even within the period of history. 

The same process has also affected lowland woods. 
In primitive forests the decay and collapse of trees through 
old age simply make room for the growth of new seedlings; 
but in our own country such replacement has long been 
ruled out of count by the presence of Rabbits, and by the 
pasturing of domestic animals, which formerly roamed at 
large in the forest areas. By these, the seedlings as they 
grew were destroyed, so that the fall of each aged tree left 
a new and irreplaceable blank in the woods. It is conceiv- 
able that such a process, continued through the ages, may 
have accounted for the disappearance of not a few ot 
our primitive woodlands. Old Scots law recognized the 
enmity between domestic herds and forest growth, for it 
ordained in 1686 that Cattle should be herded in winter and 
in summer for the protection of planting. Further it is on 
record that in recent centuries, as in the parish of Drummel- 
zier in Tweeddale, individual woods have been destroyed 
by Sheep. 



Nature's catastrophes, fire and wind, have shared in 
dooming' the forest. A first thought suggests that the 
manifestations of elemental Nature should have no place in 
this account of man's influence ; but a second thought will 
show that the greater part of their significance as destroyers, 
is due to his interference with the old rule. Man cuts the 
trees that act as buttresses upon the margin of the wood, 
and, laying bare to the fury of the blasts the unaccustomed 
growth within, opens a path for such a levelling of forest 
as Nature never dreamed of. As I write Scottish newspapers 
report the great damage done to growing timber by a gale 
which raged throughout the night of October 24th, 1917 ; 
and several correspondents mention that the damage was 
intensified by the fact that the woods had recently been 
cleared of their spruce and fir trees. 

To man's invention of fire, many a conflagration is to be 
traced, but even where Nature's lightning is the spark that 
kindles, it is man's influence which makes of the charred 
tract a permanent desolation. One of the greatest forest 
fires on record was that of Mirarnichi in North America 
in 1825, when six thousand square miles of vegetation, 
chiefly woodland, were utterly consumed. Nevertheless 
left to herself, Nature speedily repaired the destruction ; 
for in twenty-five years the blackened ground was covered 
with a natural and dense growth of trees of fair size, except 
where cultivation and pasturage kept down the forest growth. 
In a small area like Scotland where cultivation and pasturage 
are all but universal, no opportunity is left for Nature's gentle 

There are evidences that both wind and fire have in 
former days played havoc with Scottish forests. A single 
example will illustrate the efficiency of each. In the parish 
of Coldstone in Aberdeenshire, there was discovered many 
years ago, buried in the peat, a pine forest which showed 
all the signs of having fallen before a hurricane. In describ- 
ing this forest in the second volume of the Edinburgh 
Journal of Geographical and Natural Science, the Rev. J. 
Farquharson says that the trees were found buried ten to 
twelve feet deep in a moss which covered an area of about 


a hundred acres. Their numbers were such as to show that 
here a dense forest once stood. But the trees were levelled ; 
some were broken off short across the trunk, leaving an 
upright stump, others were completely overthrown, roots 
and all. These were no accidents of the natural decay of a 
forest, for the trees lay uniformly in one direction, their 
heads towards the east. So a simple reading of the buried 
pine forest of Coldstone tells that a mighty west wind laid 
the woodland low, and at a period, as other evidences show, 
long after man had made his first settlements in Scotland. 

As to the evidence of fire in Scottish woodland, I can- 
not do better than quote a comment of Sir Thomas Dick 
Lauder in his edition of Gilpin's Remarks on Forest Scenery: 

The trees which are found in the Scottish mosses, and particularly the 
pines which are found in those of the northern parts of Scotland, all in- 
variably exhibit marks of fire, as indeed do the stocks from which they 
have been severed and near to which they are always discovered. It is quite 
evident that these aboriginal forests of Scotland at least, have been destroyed 
by great conflagrations, kindled either purposely or accidentally, and perhaps 
in each of these ways at different times. Some of the pine logs are excavated 
longitudinally by the fire, so as to form spouts, such as are often supplied 
to the eves of the roofs of houses for catching and carrying off the rain. 
These appear to have been hollowed out by the fire, which had continued 
to burn and smoulder on the upper side, after the tree had fallen into some 
wettish place, the damp of which prevented its being consumed below. We 
have legendary accounts enough in Scotland of the burning of great tracts 
of forest to bear out the explanation of the appearance which these ligneous 
remains exhibit. 

A definite example of an ancient burned wood was re- 
vealed in the neighbourhood of Tongue in Sutherland 
during the late Duke of Sutherland's endeavours to reclaim 
the district, when large trees, charred for 10 to 15 feet of 
their length, were discovered at a depth of 3 feet in the peat 
mosses. Some of the trees, Dr Harvie-Brown was informed, 
were 3 feet in diameter and " some of them are cored out 
with fire for several feet in length as if they had been 
burned down." Similar vast conflagrations, the brothers 
John Sobieski and Charles Edward Stuart relate, "afford 
frequent vivid similes in the old Gaelic poems." 


These circumstantial accounts of man's inroads upon 
Scottish woods will, I trust, bring home more definitely than 


a general statement could have done, the vast influence which 
man has wielded upon the primeval forest. His use of tim- 
ber for the building of houses and ships, for household fires 
and especially for fuel to carry on his great industries ; his 
destruction of the woods to ensure his military conquests 
and his peaceful journeyings, to rid him of the annoyances of 
thieves and beasts of prey, and to make way for his smiling 
fields of grain; the influences of his flocks and herds and of 
his unwitting collaboration with the forces of nature; all 
these had but one effect to demolish woodland and make 
a country, once rich in forest primeval as the wilds beyond 
the Atlantic, a land whose barrenness became the wonder 
and standing joke of southern travellers. The fact will stand 
repeating that woodland, which in the days of the Upper 
Forest of the Peat, clothed half the country, has been reduced 
to a miserable remnant scarcely covering one-twentieth of 
the land surface of Scotland. How far do we seem to have 
travelled, even since that day in the sixteenth century, when 
Bishop Leslie wrote of Scotland? 

The woddes selfes nocht onlie profitable to the utilitie of timber, and to 
that use,... are verie jocund and jellie 1 and gif we myt speik it, in a maner 
peirles in pleisour. 

1 French, joli, pretty. 

VI. 3 


IT is a simpler matter to tabulate the changes which have 
taken place in animal life than to trace the actual influences 
which have brought these changes about. Most of the in- 
fluences act indirectly and obscurely, beating against the 
habits of woodland creatures until the old habits are broken, 
and the creature reforms its ways to fit new conditions, or, 
since the reformation of an engrained habit is no easy thing, 
itself becomes broken in the process and succumbs. 


Forests keep a country moist, and tend to equalize the 
temperature, since they check air currents and evaporation. 
It is said that Canadian lumbermen can work at ease in the 
forest when the temperature is many degrees below zero, 
and when in the breezes of the open plain such a tempera- 
ture would render work impossible. Professor Marsh thus 
summed up his study of the physical effects of the destruc- 
tion of the North American forests : 

When the forest is gone, the great reservoir of moisture stored up in its 
vegetable mould is evaporated, and returns only in deluges of rain to wash 
away the parched dust into which that mould has been converted. The 
well-wooded and humid hills are turned to ridges of dry rock, which en- 
cumbers the low grounds and chokes the watercourses with its debris, and 
except in countries favored with an equable distribution of rain through the 
seasons, and a moderate and regular inclination of surface the whole earth, 
unless rescued by human art from the physical degradation to which it tends, 
becomes an assemblage of bald mountains, of barren, turfless hills, and of 
swampy and malarious plains. 

It is possible that Professor Marsh exaggerated the evils 
which follow disappearance of forest growth says a critic, 
" Marsh found a fool in the forest, and the fool was man "- 
but the latest and most thorough investigation of the climatic 


significance of forest, a Report published by the Forestry 
Department of the Indian Government in 1917, still indicates 
that Marsh came near the truth. It has been found that in 
India, forest may slightly increase the rainfall, but only to an 
extent of not more than 5 per cent, by promoting condensa- 
tion of aqueous vapour, by, as it were, cutting down the clouds, 
which Richard Jefferies fondly imagined lay beyond the reach 
of man's hands. Other important effects have been noted. 
The disappearance of forests in the catchment areas of some 
streams, in the Punjab, in Bengal and in Assam, has altered 
the flow of rivers, so that after the rains they now rise more 
rapidly and come down more torrentially. In the Punjab the 
exposure of the soil by the cutting of trees has caused great 
landslides, violent floods in the rivers, and the washing away 
of much of the cultivated soil. 


Scotland has suffered in less degree. Nevertheless the 
more sudden and more serious flooding of the rivers after 
heavy rain has had accountable effect upon their inhabitants 
and those of the low lying valleys, drowning such creatures 
as Badgers often in great numbers the two great floods of 
the Findhorn in 1829, say the brothers Stuart, drowned in 
their holes most of the Badgers in the lower banks , washing 
into the stream and to destruction lesser things, fish-fry and 
invertebrate animals which sheltered in still water by the banks, 
and disturbing and dispersing the spawning beds and spawn 
of Trout and Salmon. Mr P. D. Malloch has stated that after 
a flood he has seen the sides of the Tay almost white with 
the eggs of Salmon, swept from the spawning beds and de- 


But these are puny effects in relation to the fauna as a 
whole. The destruction of forest has told more heavily upon 
the inhabitants of the land, and this owing to the nature of the 
animal assemblage which the aboriginal woodland of Britain 
induced to migrate hither from the Continent, in the times 
succeeding the Ice Age. 

At the present day the typical pine forest region, or 


taiga, forms a band stretching across the temperate regions 
of the Old and New World, on the southern border of 
the barren-lands or tundra. There the creatures of the 
temperate forest can still be found in natural association. 
What animals compose the fauna which to-day selects the 
forest for its home? Most typical of its members are the 
deer the Red Deer and the Roe, the great Moose or 
Elk, and the Woodland Reindeer or Caribou. These were 
once familiar denizens of Scottish woods. Its typical rodents 
are the Squirrel and Beaver; its beasts of prey the Brown 
Bear, the Lynx, the Wild Cat, the Wolf, the Fox ; its 
lesser denizens, the Pine Marten, Polecat, Stoat and Weasel, 
and the Badger. These too inhabited Scotland. Of the 
birds of the pine forest, the most characteristic are the Cross- 
bills, the Grouse and its relatives, the handsome Capercaillie 
and Black Game, and the Woodpeckers. Jays and Magpies; 
and these also we know in Scotland. 

The evidences of the present day fauna, and the more 
significant relics of past life in Scotland, show with no un- 
certainty that the prehistoric fauna of North Britain was 
mainly a forest fauna, comparable with that which now dwells 
in the wild woodlands of northern Europe and America. 


On such an assemblage of animals the destruction of the 
forest must have told with dire effect, ousting it from its 
natural habitation, limiting its range, and tending always to 
drive its members to extinction. On general grounds we 
can safely assume that the numbers of forest seed-eaters 
amongst birds the Crossbill, the Bullfinch, the Siskin, the 
Redpoll and other finches as well as of the insectivorous 
Woodpeckers and Tree Creeper, and their prey the pine- 
boring Beetles, must have diminished with the fall of the 
woods. And what of the land-shells, especially the smaller 
forms, of Helix, Pupa andClausilia, which thrive particularly in 
wooded districts, and many of which need scarcely be looked 
for but in forests ? They, too, must have dwindled in numbers. 
But of these things there is no direct evidence, so I turn to 
examine a few individual cases the history of which suggests 
more definitely the influence of disappearing woods. 



It is natural that appeal should be made to the animals 
at present characteristic of the pine forests of temperate 
lands. What has the race of Deer to teach us ? 

It will simplify the enquiry to state, obvious though they 
are, the symptoms in the history of animals which betray 
the impress of environment. Well marked stages in animal 
life indicate prosperity or decline. In a progressively favour- 
able environment an animal first increases in numbers, then 
spreads beyond its first bounds to new areas, and lastly may 
tend to develop new superfluities of structure. On the other 
hand in a progressively unfavourable environment an animal 
decreases in numbers, its range becomes more and more 
limited, its physique deteriorates, and finally it disappears. 

How does the history of the race of Deer in Scotland 
respond to these criteria ? There can be only one answer 
it is'a story of decreasing numbers, of curtailment of range, of 
dwindling physique, and of extinction. All the species of 
Deer have not shared equal disaster, but the cumulative effect 
of their histories is not less telling. Glance at their stories, 
as they have been recorded in the early deposits of the 
country and in history. 


The Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus], the most lightsome 
and graceful, was once also amongst the most familiar of the 
denizens of Scottish woods. From north to south it roamed 
in freedom, not in Scotland only, but far into the woodlands 
of South Britain, for its bones have been found in Essex, 
Oxfordshire and in the southern corner of Wales. Civiliza- 
tion long since drove the native Roes from England. 

In Scotland relics in river gravels, peat bogs and 
the settlements of man witness to the extent of the Roe 
Deer's range and the abundance of its numbers. About 
the time of man's first settlement in Scotland it spread to 
the southern borders: its remains have been found in the 
river-gravels of Berwickshire at Coldingham, and, in com- 
pany with those of the Reindeer and Brown Bear, deep in 
the peat of Shaws in Dumfriesshire. In human settlements 


we do not expect to find traces of its presence in that extra- 
ordinary abundance which marks the Red Deer, for the Roe 
is a shy and superbly active creature, less likely to be caught, 
and its flesh is less palatable than that of its great relative. 
Nevertheless there are few kitchen-middens on the mainland 
that do not contain a bone or antler of the Roe Deer. In 
such deposits it has been found from the northern to the 
southern limits of Scotland, and the extreme cases are of 
special significance, since the " one or two bones " discovered 
at Hillsvvick reveal its presence even in the Shetland Isles, 
and its relics in the Cave of Borness in Kirkcudbrightshire, 
consisting of twenty-six bones, suggest that on the southern 
borders, it was as common as the Red Deer, represented by 
a like number of remains. 

It occurs in the lake dwellings of Ayrshire, as at Lochlee, 
Kilmaurs, and Lochspouts; in the hill forts of Argyllshire, 
as at Loch Awe and on the Island of Luing, and of Inver- 
ness-shire, as at CraigPhaidrich ; in the Roman settlement at 
Newstead; in the "Pictish Towers" or brochs of Thrumster 
and Kettleburn in Caithness, and of Cinn Trolla in Suther- 
landshire; and in an underground "Pict's House" or " Eird 
House " at Edrom in Berwickshire. It is evident, therefore, 
that in prehistoric and early historic times down to about 
the ninth century the Roe Deer was common throughout 

When did it begin to forsake the southern country? 
There are many references to its protection in old Scots law, 
but they help us little as, to its detailed distribution. It had 
its place amongst the list of slain in the great royal hunt in 
Athole in 1529 during the reign of James V; but this is be- 
side the point for it has never deserted the fastnesses of the 
Perthshire Highlands. In the Lowlands it was still common 
in the thirteenth century, for in the reign of Alexander II 
(1214-1249), the Lords of Avenel, in granting their lands in 
Eskdale to the Abbey of Melrose, reserved the right to hunt, 
amongst other creatures, the Hart, the Hind and the Roe. 
But by the middle of the sixteenth century the disappearance 
of woodland, for use as timber and to make way for the 
pasturing of great flocks of sheep for which the Lowlands 
were already famous, led to the reduction of the Deer and 
to the narrowing of the bounds wherein they were wont to 


roam. Even the Statute of 1682 prohibiting the traffic in 
venison for seven years could not avert the evil day, and 
before the close of the seventeenth century Red Deer and 
shortly afterwards Roes were all but banished from the 
Lowlands of Scotland. 

Henceforward, until their extension of range in recent 
times, they were confined to the highland fastnesses of Ross, 
Inverness, Argyll and Perth; for they had also been driven 
from their haunts in the northern counties of the mainland, 
and had long ceased to exist in Shetland. 

Here clearly the destruction of forest resulted in reduced 
numbers and limitation of range. And as if to emphasize the 
point, the fresh impetus given to the planting of trees in the 
latter half of the eighteenth century, has led to a new in- 
crease, in numbers and range, restoring the Roe Deer to 
many areas which it had long deserted. It made its ap- 
pearance in the lower valley of the Tay before the close 
of the eighteenth century, and shortly afterwards appeared 
in Clackmannanshire and Stirlingshire, in Fifeshire (before 
1828), and Linlithgowshire; and between 1840 and 1845, it 
had penetrated the Lowlands, for it then appeared on the 
southern slopes of the Pentland Hills near Penicuik. 

It is difficult to decide whether the adverse influence due 
to the destruction of the woodland led to physical degeneracy 
in the Roe. Certain it is that the antlers recovered from the 
ancient deposits and the early sites of habitation are of 
unusually large size, but careful comparison led Mr J. G. 
Millais to the conclusion that the large antlers of former days 
could be equalled and even excelled by the best heads of the 
present day forests of Scotland. From our point of view the 
comparison is scarcely a fair one, for it is unlikely that the 
best heads of former days are those which chance buried in 
the bog and the luck of man recovered, or that primitive 
man caught the finest and most active animals for his meals. 
My own impression is that, on an average, in spite of the 
new life given to the Roe by the fresh development of wood- 
land, the standard of the modern antler is less than that 
of prehistoric and early historic days ; and the analogy of 
related deer in Scotland would support such a conclusion. 
While, therefore, degeneracy in the^Roe must be regarded 
as not proven, it was a likely result of the adverse influences 


which the destruction of forest brought to bear upon its 


The course of the Red Deer's story runs upon the same 
rough path of ill fortune as that of the Roe. But even 
more than the Roe, the Red has come under the influence 
of man, its size and the value of its venison having made 
it an object of more deliberate pursuit as of more strict 

In the days before man's arrival in Scotland the Red 
Deer roamed the country over. Strange to say the greater 
number of the prehistoric records of its presence come from 
an area which it has long deserted the Lowland valleys. 
With these records it is impossible to deal individually, but 
a summary of the distribution of the Red Deer, as the 
natural deposits of the country have revealed it, will empha- 
size one significant phase of its history in Scotland. 

In our oldest lake deposits the marl clays formed 
generally at a period not long after the close of the Ice Age, 
remains of Red Deer are abundant. Bones and antlers have 
been found in Roxburghshire, Peeblesshire and Selkirkshire, 
in Midlothian and Linlithgowshire, and as far north as 
Caithness. The overlying peat-mosses afford still more 
interesting evidence of its presence in the Lowlands it 
ranged from Wigtownshire and Ayrshire eastwards and 
northwards through Dumfriesshire, Selkirkshire, Roxburgh- 
shire, Berwickshire, to the extreme corner of Haddington- 
shire ; it peopled the midland valley even at the mouths of 
the Earn and Tay ; in the Highlands it reached the furthest 
limits of Inverness-shire on the west, of Sutherland on the 
north ; and there are many evidences of its presence in the 
isles of Orkney and Shetland. 

Neolithic man made use of its flesh for food and of its 
bones and antlers for tools, and there is scarcely a settle- 
ment where he or his early successors dwelt that does not 
contain its remains. Kitchen-middens of Bronze and Iron 
Age, hill forts and underground " Eird Houses," Roman 
settlements and "Pictish Towers" or brochs all tell of its 
abundance. Even in Orkney, Red Deer of large size were 


still common when the brochs were in full occupation ; and 
the occupants of the cave of Borness on the shores of Kirk- 
cudbright bordering the Solway Firth, slew many Red Deer 
in their Lowland valleys in times after the Roman Conquest. 

From the earliest times, therefore, down to the eighth 
century of our era or later, the Red Deer was abundant in 
every corner of Scotland, not only in the uplands but in the 
valleys to the very margin of the sea (see Map V). From the 
low-lying valleys it was soon driven by the increase of man 
and of his rude agriculture, and by the destruction of the 
forest, for the Red Deer, in spite of its mountainous habita- 
tions in Scotland at the present day, is pre-eminently a forest- 
loving animal. 

Thus we find that when Scottish history first takes up 
the tale of the Red Deer in the Lowlands, it had already 
forsaken the lower valleys, and had been relegated to forest 
areas then existing on the slopes of the Pentland Hills and 
to the great Ettrick Forest of the uplands of Selkirk and the 
neighbouring counties. In another connection (p. 207) I have 
given a short account of the main events of its history in 
the Lowlands as recorded in Scottish annals, until, towards 
the end of the seventeenth century, several factors, amongst 
which was the disappearance of forest in the face of an 
increasing culture of the soil and of a gradual extension of 
the pasturing of sheep, finally exterminated the Red Deer 
of the Scottish Lowlands 1 . At the present time, in spite of 
centuries of protection, the Red Deer is confined to the 
Highlands, where it inhabits waste moorlands and scanty 
woods at high altitudes, from Sutherland to Perthshire and 

That the destruction of woodlands has a very real 
' influence upon the distribution of Red Deer has been 
actually observed and noted within the past century. The 
brothers, John Sobieski and Charles Edward Stuart, in 
describing in 1848 the death of the last Deer of Tarnaway 
Forest on the southern shores of the Moray F^irth, say, from 
their own experience : 

1 Although the end of the seventeenth century saw the practical ex- 
termination of Lowland Red Deer, a few individuals probably still lingered 
in secluded places, for it is said that the last stag in the Forest of Buchan 
in Kircudbrightshire was shot in 1747. 



P38I Distribution at [TTTITT]] Distribution in p=^ Distribution in 

MM Present Day IHIIHII Middle Ages Prehistoric Times 


Although the stags were never driven from the forest by hunting they 
went out before the cutting of timber, which left them no rest, and 
obstructed and marred their haunts and pastures. By degrees the hinds, 
calves and younger stags, ceased to return at winter, and at last the old 
harts were diminished to two. These, however, kept the forest till 1830. 

In the reduction of the numbers and of the range of the 
Red Deer, we see the first signs of the decadence of its race 
in Scotland, and the destruction of the forest had much to 
do with the appearance of the signs. 

Fig'. 57. Antlers and portion of Skull of prehistoric Red Deer, unearthed in 
the Meadows, Edinburgh. T V nat. size. 

What of the remaining criteria of decadence ? True, the 
Scottish Red Deer has not reached the last step in the 
downward course, but would it not have been exterminated 
save for artificial fostering and protection by man ? Prob- 
ably it would. In any case, has it not fallen a long stage, 
physically, from its first fine presence in the days before 
history began ? 

The testimony of the marl-mosses and peat-bogs is 
unanimous as to the great size of the Red Deer of past days 
and the enormous development of their antlers. The chances 
are all against the discovery of the best heads by man during 


his casual excavations in the mosses, even in the unlikely 
event of the best heads having chanced to be entombed in 
the bogs. Yet what do we find ? 

In the days when the wild creatures of the forest 
wandered over the site of modern Edinburgh, a great Stag 
came to drink at the waters of the Loch which then covered 
"the Meadows" of the present day. The banks of the loch 
were peaty, and underneath the peat lay treacherous beds of 
marl in which the Deer became entrapped and, unable to 
free itself, died a miserable death. In 1781 the head and 
horns of this Stag were dug up below the roots of an old 
tree. It was probably no exceptional creature in its own 
generation, yet to-day it stands out as a giant, a seventeen 
pointer a Great Hart summed of seventeen. The antlers 
were large, the right 3 feet in length, bearing nine points 
and ending in a cup-like expansion, or sur-royal, surrounded 
by six points ; the left antler, 46 inches long, carried eight 
points with a fine sur-royal of five large "croches." The 
circumference of the beam above the second or bez-tine 
measured 8J inches (Fig. 57, p. 335). 

But, as I have said, the Great Hart of the Meadows 
was no exceptional Stag. During the draining of Linton 
Loch in Roxburghshire, the entire skeleton of a Red Deer 
was discovered, deep in a marl bed which itself lay under 
i o feet of peat, and although the bones were broken up by the 
workpeople the head and antlers were preserved. They are 
those of a " Great Hart summed of nineteen." Both antlers 
measured 33 inches, and their span from tip to tip, 44 inches. 
The skull was 20 inches in length along the profile and 
7-J inches across the forehead. Even this fine head cannot 
compare with another Roxburgh example found at Ashkirk, 
which bore two magnificent antlers carrying a total of twenty- 
one points. 

The antlers of a very fair Royal, a twelve pointer, of the 
present day, would measure several inches under three feet 
along the outside of the curve, would have a spread of some 
2\ ft, and a circumference of \\ to 5 inches as against the 
8| inches of the Great Hart of the Meadows. 

Moreover in size of body the old Scottish Red Deer far 
surpassed its modern representatives. There is exhibited in 
the Royal Scottish Museum a complete skeleton found about 


1830 in a peat moss at Smeaton- Hepburn in Haddington- 
shire. It compares ill with such examples as I have just 
mentioned, for it is only a twelve pointer Royal, yet it must 
have stood 4 ft 6 inches at the shoulder, and the length of its 
body from nose to base of tail must have been 7 ft 10 inches. 
A modern Scottish Royal, a good stag, shot in the forest of 
Corrour and now in the Royal Scottish Museum, stands 
3 ft 5 inches at the shoulder, and its body is 5 ft 7 inches 
long. The old-time Red Deer was a third as large again as 
a selected modern example. (See Frontispiece.) 

It is apparent that the Red Deer of the Scottish High- 
lands cannot compare in physique with the Red Deer which 
dwelt in the Lowlands in the days before man's coming. 
The process of decay was a gradual one, for bones which 
I have examined from recent excavations in the hill-fort 
of Dunagoil in Bute, and in the caves of Eastern Fife, 
both settlements which were occupied in the days of 
the early Christians still indicate Red Deer of much 
greater size than those of to-day. And even in Orkney 
in the days of the brochs, the remains of Red Deer "often 
of large size" were deposited in those strange defensive 

What was the cause of the gradual decay of the Red 
Deer in Scotland ? Clearly the destruction of the forest ! 
Red Deer are pre-eminently forest animals, as their distribu- 
tion in the still existing pine belts of Europe shows. But in 
Scotland the forest in which they thrived has disappeared, 
and the Red Deer have been driven to an unnatural home 
on waste moorlands and in bare mountain glens. As 
if to settle the question of the decadence of Scottish Red 
Deer, there are still to be found in the native forests of the 
Continent, in western, northern and central Europe, 
descendants of the original Red Deer stock races (Cervus 
elaphus typicus and Cervus elaphus germanicus} the size 
and complexity of the antlers of which forcibly remind 
one of the antlers of the Scottish mosses. Where the 
forests have persisted the Red Deer in its original gran- 
deur has persisted with them. It may be suggested that 
the shooting of the finest heads in a sporting country such 
as Scotland may have lowered the standard. This may 
be so to a slight degree, but on the Continent the Red 


Deer also is stalked, yet its characters have persisted in their 
magnificence 1 . ' 

A broad reading of the facts shows indubitably that the 
destruction of the forest has impelled the Red Deer of 
Scotland on a downward path, limiting its numbers, de- 
creasing its range, and whittling away its former dignity by 
steps of physical decadence. 


As a Scottish animal the Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus] 
(Fig. 58) has long since disappeared, yet for many thou- 
sands of years this interesting animal, now confined to the 
northern regions of the Old World and eastern Canada, 
roamed upon our plains from the Solway to the Pentland 
Firth, and was even established in the Orkney Islands. 
Its antlers have been found in deposits belonging to the 
Ice Age at Kilmaurs in Ayrshire (Fig. 59, p. 343), where 
were also found the tusks of the extinct Mammoth, at Croft - 
amie in Dumbartonshire, and at Raesgill in Lanarkshire. 
Clearly it entered Scotland during one of the mild periods 
which broke the long monotony of the age of glaciers. 

But the Reindeer in Scotland survived the disappearance 
of the cold climate which had enticed it to enter Britain from 
the Continent. Cut off by the formation of the English 
Channel from retreat along the route of its invasion, it was 
compelled to make the best of changing climates and con- 
ditions. In this effort of adaptation it met with considerable 

1 If further proof of the implication of the destruction of the forest in 
the degeneracy of Scottish Red Deer were required, it is indicated by the 
history of Scottish Deer transported to New Zealand. In 1870 seven Red 
Deer from Lord Dalhousie's estate in Forfarshire were liberated in the 
neighbourhood of Lake Hawra, South Island. These have multiplied into 
the famous North Otago herd of which, in Hunter Valley alone, 1600 were 
destroyed in 1915-16; and the size of the Deer and quality of their antlers 
have responded to the abundance of food available in the heavy bush lands. 
Thus, although there is no strain of "park" blood in the North Otago herd, 
a writer in Cottntry Life (9 August, 1919) recorded and illustrated two 
magnificent and evenly developed heads of Deer shot in 1918, one bearing 
sixteen points, the other with twenty points, a length of 45 \ inches and a 
span of 45 inches reversions to the old standard which signify that 
the banishing of our Scottish Red Deer from their natural haunts to waste 
and barren moorlands is responsible for their physical deterioration. 




success, as is shown by its continued existence for many 
thousands of years. 

Its distribution during the period of the formation of the 
peat mosses, just prior to, or even contemporaneous with 
the arrival of man in Scotland, shows no trace of the 
limitation which one associates with a decaying race. It 
still roamed over the length of the land, for antlers have 
been recovered from the peat mosses of Shaws in Dum- 
friesshire, from the neighbourhood of Tain in Ross r shire and 
from Rousay in the Orkneys. Not very far from Edinburgh 
its remains were found in a' rock fissure at Craig Green in 
the Pentland Hills. 

Even in later times, bones in actual association with the 
handiwork of the men of the New Stone Age, show that the 
Reindeer still ranged widely in Scotland: witness the dis- 
covery of antlers near the mouth of the Kelvin River in 
Glasgow, in beds of laminated clay which have yielded many 
dug-out canoes of prehistoric fishermen, and the more recent 
find by Drs Peach and Home of Reindeer bones in the 
Cave of Allt nan Uamh in Sutherland, where they lay in 
layers containing hearth-stones burnt by the fires of Neo- 
lithic man. The men of the New Stone Age interfered 
little with the wild life of the country. They hunted, herded 
and tilled, but for their own limited needs, and their inter- 
ference with woodland was of little account, as indeed is that 
of all primitive peoples. For so long, then, the Reindeer 
appears to have held its own. 

The next series of records of the Reindeer, however, 
shows a remarkable contraction in its range. True there is 
a hesitating record of its presence in the south country at a 
comparatively late date. In the descriptions of his excavations 
at the lake dwelling of Lochlee in Ayrshire, which con- 
tained Bronze Age and Roman articles, Dr Robert Munro 
states that he found 

two more or less fragmentary portions of horns which after a good deal of 
comparison with other reindeer horns, and with fragments of red-deer horns, 
I incline to set down as indicating the presence of the former animal ; 

but the identification is so uncertain that the record, out of 
keeping with the facies of the animal remains of Scottish 
crannogs in general, may be ignored. 

To the days of the brochs, those great " Pictish Towers " 


erected throughout Scotland from the Lowlands to the ex- 
treme north, " to withstand the incursions of roving pirates 
from overseas," we must pass for further evidence of the 
Reindeer's presence. But now the Reindeer is on the decline 
in Scotland, for its remains are confined to the northern 
counties. In Sutherland several pieces of antlers were found 
amongst the food debris of the Broch of Cinn Trolla; in 
Caithness, the Brochs of Yarhouse and Keiss,.as well as the 
Harbour Mound at the latter place, yielded fragments of 
antlers, and at Kettleburn, horns and remains of Deer were 
discovered which, the excavator says "were not the Red 
Deer " these too may have belonged to the Reindeer. Less 
uncertainty attaches to a fragment unearthed in the Broch 
of Burwick, in the parish of Sandwick. Orkney, where the 
investigator found " one piece of horn like a part of a rein- 
deer antler, or a fallow deer's, as it is broad and palmated." 
It is unlikely that this fragment belonged to a Fallow Deer, 
of which there is no definite record in Britain in historic times 
till its introduction by man a few centuries ago (see p. 284). 
Another possibility is that it may have belonged to the Elk 
or Moose, but the size and palmation of an Elk's antler is 
on a much grander scale than that of a Fallow Deer, with 
which comparison is suggested, and there is no confirmatory 
evidence that the Elk ever existed in Orkney. We are 
driven, therefore, to suppose that the palmated antler was 
that of a Reindeer, though I cannot help regretting, in view 
of their interest, that this fragment and that from Burwick 
were not submitted to expert examination. 

The brochs are supposed to have been in occupation in 
northern Scotland from the end of the fifth till about the ninth 
century,and some were occasionally inhabited till a later date. 
Moreover the antlers of Yarhouse, near Wick, were found not 
in the broch itself, but in one of the associated outbuildings 
which were erected at a later date than the main building, 
when the needs of defence were less imperative. Never- 
theless a reference in the Orkneyinga Saga carries the last 
appearance of the Reindeer in North Britain to a much 
more recent time. I reproduce the literal rendering of the 
Scandinavian words as translated by a celebrated Icelandic 
scholar, Mr Eirikr Magnusson, formerly of Cambridge. 
"It was the custom for the Earls nearly every summer to 


go over into Caithness and then up into the woods to hunt 
Red Deer or Reins." The period of these hunting excursions 
was about the middle of the twelfth century (i 159 according 
to Jonaeus), and the Earls were Rognvald and Harald of 
Orkney. The translator notes that the word edr, translated 
" or," may mean or ( = Latin vel], or and ( == Latin sive), and 
much doubt has been cast on the value of the passage on 
the ground Uaat the sagaman said red-deer or reindeer 
under the impression that the two names were synonymous. 
This doubt seems to me to be superfluous, for who is likely 
to have been more familiar with these two very distinct species 
of Deer than the Scandinavian sagaman, who lived and 
wrote in a country where Red Deer and Reindeer were both 
common ? To me the whole difficulty is one of poetic licence ; 
did or did not the historian-poet transfer, for the sake of 
effect, the animals hunted in his own country -to the foreign 
shores of Caithness ? I hardly think so, for the skalds are 
seldom inaccurate in their descriptions of the objects of the 
chase. Further the statement receives some confirmation 
from the spirited representation of a Reindeer obviously 
drawn from the life, carved on a sculptured stone found 
near Grantown in Inverness-shire. The date of the early 
Christian monuments, of which this is one, is believed to 
range about the tenth century of our era. 

The Reindeer, once abundant in Scotland throughout 
the length of the land, gradually became limited in range 
and finally disappeared. What led to its extinction? It was 
not lack of suitable food, for brushwood and especially 
" Reindeer Moss," the lichen Cladonia rangiferina, are still 
abundant in the counties where it made its last appearance. 
It was not wholly change of climate, forthe Reindeer survived 
the much greater alteration from the cold of the Ice Age to 
the mild humidity which heralded the period of peat-for- 
mation, and back again to the drier and cooler times when 
the pine forest spread over Scotland. It may have been 
partly deliberate destruction by man, for his kitchen- 
middens show that he hunted the Reindeer for food; but 
these were days of simple weapons, the javelin and the bow 
and arrow, and history has seldom recorded the extermination 
of a fleet and wary race by a primitive people to whom the 
murderous slaughter of modern sport was unknown. On the 


whole, I think that the destruction of the forest had more to 
do with the disappearance of this interesting native. 


Hitherto I have referred to the Scottish remains as 

those of Reindeer in a general sense, but it may be well to 

enquire a little further into their special characteristics. The 

Reindeer of the Old and New VVorld fall into two groups, 

Fig. 59. Fragmentary Antlers of Scottish Reindeer of Glacial Period, 
found at Kilmaurs, Ayrshire. T ^ nat. size. 

the "barren-ground" and "woodland" races the former 
inhabiting the bleak barren lands and tundras which border 
the Arctic circle, the latter frequenting the belts of forest 
which lie to the south of the barren lands. The races are 
distinguished by their size and their antlers. The " wood- 
land " Reindeer is larger than its " barren-ground " relative, 
whose antlers are round, slender and long, while those of the 
"woodland" group are heavier, flatter, thicker and more 
heavily palmated. In the woodland group, the brow tines 


are much palmated, and one is usually much more developed 
than the other, and the succeeding bez tines are also large 
and palmated, a rare feature in the barren-ground group. 

Reindeer were frequently drawn by men of the Old 
Stone (Palaeolithic) Age who inhabited the central plains of 
Europe, and their drawings seem to me clearly to indicate a 
woodland variety. In the Aurignacian painting of two Rein- 
deer fronting each other, on the walls of the French cave at 
Font-de-Gaume, in Dordogne, the brow tines of one of the 
Deer are strongly palmated and unequally developed. In 
the later Magdalenian picture of a Reindeer grazing by a 
pool, found engraved on a piece of bone at Kesserloch, near 
Thayngen, Switzerland, the brow and the bez tines are both 
heavily palmated, as is also the case in the running Rein- 
deer engraved on hornblende schist, from Saint Marcel. 
Julius Caesar found the descendants of these Reindeer in 
the Black Forest and neighbouring parts of Germany at the 
time of his campaign in that country and in Gaul. These 
structural characteristics and the forest-dwelling habit of the 
Reindeer of Central Europe agree in suggesting that their 
place is with the woodland group. 

What is the evidence as regards the status of the 
Scottish Reindeer? They probably immigrated to Scotland 
as part of the woodland fauna from Central Europe, for 
there is no evidence that any of the characteristic animals 
of the "steppe fauna," with which Professor H. F. Osborn 
groups the barren-ground Reindeer, ever found their way 
to North Britain. Such portions of Scottish antlers as 
show distinctive features also point to the woodland group. 
I have examined in the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow two 
large fragments found in 1829 in interglacial deposits of the 
Ice Age at Kilmaurs in Ayrshire (Fig. 59, p. 343). They 
represent the right and left antlers probably of one animal. 
The left beam is 2 ft 3 inches long, the right 2 ft 7 inches. 
The brow tines of both have been broken off short, but the 
bez tines though incomplete are well developed, 9 inches 
and 13^ inches in the right and left antlers respectively; 
both tines broaden towards their extremities and the left 
shows clearly the beginnings of a well-developed palmation. 
The beams are moderately stout, slightly flattened, and 
measure, right and left, 123 and 133 millimetres in circum- 


ference above the bez tines. The right antler possessed also 
a back tine, a feature seldom found in the barren-ground race. 
Or take the fine extremity of an antler found in the 
Broch of Keiss in Caithness: of this Professor Richard 
Owen, after careful comparison and examination, wrote 
I have not seen any antlers of the Red Deer showing so much flattening or 
compression of the " beam " as in this specimen. I believe them to be parts 
of the antler of a large reindeer or variety called ' Carabou.' 

While writing these words Owen seems to have had in mind 
the large woodland form known in Canada by that name. 

There are difficulties in the way of reaching a definite 
conclusion regarding the exact status of the Reindeer races, 
for antlers show considerable variation, and the question of 
relationships from this point of view has not been satisfac- 
torily solved. But I think it is justifiable to regard the 
Scottish Reindeer as different from the extreme barren- 
ground type with clean cut antlers and pronged tines, and 
as tending towards the woodland type, although the antlers 
do not attain the luxuriance of palmation of the most highly 
developed woodland forms of the Caribou. The modern 
form of Scandinavian Reindeer with palmated brow and bez 
tines and well developed back tines, seems to me to belong 
to this intermediate type tending to the woodland variety, 
and to bear a close resemblance to the Scottish examples of 
the interglacial beds and peat-bogs. 

If the Scottish Reindeer was a woodland variety, as I 
have suggested, then the presence or absence of woods 
must have had a close bearing on its welfare, for although 
the barren-ground form may enter the domain of the wood- 
land race during its winter migration southwards, the latter 
finds in the woods its permanent home. The destruction of 
woodland, therefore, is likely to have tended to its exter- 
mination. Neolithic man had little influence on the forest, 
and the Reindeer outlived him; but the Bronze and Iron 
Ages, with their demand for fuel for smelting, began a 
devastation which each succeeding age intensified, so that 
in the twelfth century, when Scottish laws were already 
endeavouring to conserve the forest, the last reference occurs 
to living Reindeer in Scotland. 

The evidence suggests that the destruction of the forest 
was an important factor in reducing the numbers of the 


Reindeer, in limiting its range, and finally in driving it to 


If there be some doubt as to the exact status of the Scottish 
Reindeer, there is none regarding the ^L\\^(Alces alces] (Fig. 2, 
p. 15), a huge, ungainly member of the northern forest 
fauna. This giant amongst Deer, standing sometimes about 
six feet high at the shoulder, with antlers spanning six feet 
from tip to tip, is now confined to regions ranging from 
Scandinavia to eastern Siberia in the Old World, while a 
closely related form, the Moose, occurs in the New World 
from the New England States to British Columbia. But in 
the old days the Elk dwelt far south in Europe and ranged 
over the whole of the British Isles. In the latter, the trend of 
the limitation of its range has been from south northwards, as 
is shown in a rough way by the distribution of the remains 
which have been recovered. The Scottish records are far 
more numerous than the English, an indication of a longer 
period of occupation or of larger herds in the northern 

In Scotland the range of the Elk in time and in space 
was a wide one. In the period of the great marl formations, 
the first definite lake-deposits which accumulated after the 
main phase of the Ice Age had passed away, the Elk ranged 
from the Lowlands to Perthshire. An antler, probably 
belonging to this species, though described as that of the 
"Gigantic Irish Elk," was found in 1859 in a river gravel 
at Coldingham in Berwickshire. Marl beds, in most cases 
underlying considerable deposits of peat, have yielded re- 
mains of the Elk in Selkirkshire; at Kirkurd in Peeblesshire; 
in Midlothian at Craigcrook near Cramond, and in Dudding- 
ston Loch, where they were associated with many articles 
of bronze ; in Forfarshire at one if not two localities ; and 
in Perthshire in the parishes of Airley wight (Fig. 60), 
Kinloch and Muthil. 

During the period of the formation of the peat, on the 
whole at a date later than the deposition of the great marl 
beds, the Elk seems to have extended its range to the 
northern limits of the mainland, though it still retained its 



hold in the southern forests 1 . In Wigtownshire an antler 
has been found near the mouth of the River Cree ; in 
Roxburghshire, Williestruther Loch yielded an almost com- 
plete skull and antlers ; in Berwickshire, remains have been 
found at Mertoun Loch, at Whitrig Bog near Mertoun, and 
at Duns ; in Selkirkshire, a portion of skull with antlers was 
discovered at Oakwood on the Ettrick ; and in Sutherland, 
Strath- Halladale yielded a shed antler which Dr J. A. Smith 
regarded as wonderfully fresh in appearance. 

Long after the main period of peat formation was past, 
the Elk still roamed at large over the greater part of 
Scotland, and there are sufficient records to show that it 

Fig. 60. Antlers and portion of skull of Elk found at Airleywight, Perth'shire. 
T V nat. size. 

was familiar to the inhabitants for many thousands of years. 
Neolithic man and his successors knew it well. I have 
already alluded to the suggestive discovery of horns in a 
bed of shell marl at the bottom of the Loch of Duddingston, 
which also yielded many bronze spear heads and swords, 
though there is no definite proof that the finds were con- 
temporaneous. There is similar uncertainty about the 
relationship of "a medal of Trajan, a fibula, a patera, and a 

1 Such a statement of extension of range must be regarded as pro- 
visional, for it is possible that in the marl period also, the Elk had a wide 
northern range, though its remains have not been preserved or have not 
been discovered. But this is not very probable since it seems likely that 
while the earliest marl deposits were forming in southern Scotland, the 
Highlands were still buried in snow. 


horn of the moose-deer " found near North Berwick. But 
there can be no doubt about the significance of the Elk 
remains recorded by Prof. J. Cossar Ewart from the Roman 
settlement of Newstead near Melrose. 

This is the last record of the Elk in the Lowlands. It 
appears thereafter to have been driven to the wilder districts 
of the north, a fact of some interest when we recall that the 
earliest destruction of Scottish forests in historical times 
was that carried out by the Roman legionaries. The latest 
definite record of the Elk in Scotland is that of an antler 
found by Sir F. T. Barry in underground buildings attached 
to a broch at Keiss, a record which might carry its occupa- 
tion down to about the ninth century of our era, for the 
accessory buildings of the brochs were made at a date con- 
siderably later than the erection of the brochs themselves. 

Yet it would be a mistake to suppose that the Elk dis- 
appeared from Scotland in the ninth century. The references 
in Gaelic tradition to a great extinct deer, Miol or Lon 
a creature spoken of as black or dark in colour, shambling 
in gait yet swift so clearly point to the special character- 
istics of the Elk of the present day that there can be little 
doubt as to their significance. And when the brothers John 
Sobieski and Charles Edward Stuart translate a stanza of an 
ancient Gaelic poem, The Aged Bard's Wish, 

I see the ridge of hinds, the steep of the sloping glen 
The wood of cuckoos at its foot, 
The blue height of a thousand pines, 
Of wolves, and roes, and elks, 

there can be little doubt that they translate a tale of things 
seen, for the whole poem is full of minute and accurate 
descriptions of nature, such as none but an onlooker could 
have chronicled. The reference is not an isolated one : in 
the old poem Bas Dhiarmid the death of Dermid a 
poem till lately well known in the Highlands, the following 
lines occur : 

Glen Shee, that glen by my side, 

Where oft is heard the voice of deer and elk. 

And, as we have seen, Perthshire has actually yielded the 
remains of more than one individual. 

I suggest that the main factor in the gradual limitation of 
range and final extermination of the Elk in Scotlaad was the 


destruction of the forest, which entailed the disturbance 
and disappearance of its haunts. Apart from the suggestive- 
ness of its reduction in numbers and steady restriction to- 
wards the wilder and more wooded areas to the north, 
during periods when history tells of the woeful devastation 
of Scottish woods, the history of the Elk in Europe adds 
confirmatory evidence ; for it stands in the nature of a 
"control" upon the events in Scotland. Julius Caesar 
mentions the Elk, along with the Reindeer and the Urus, 
as inhabiting the Hercynian forest of Germany during his 
campaigns in that country and in Gaul. During the third 
century of our era it spread over all the forest-clad parts of 
Germany. Here it was that the "dowghtie Siegfried" of the 
twelfth century Nibelungenlied "slowe a Wisent [Bison] and 
an Elk." For many hundreds of years the great woods of 
the Black Forest and other areas remained almost unaffected 
by man's destruction, affording a safe preserve for the wild 
creatures of the woods. And with the survival of the forest 
the Elk survived; for in Saxony an Elk was slain so recently 
as 1746, and in Silesia it lingered until 1776. Long before 
the Elk disappeared from the forests of Central Europe, a 
new factor, as potent for destruction as the dissolution of the 
woodland, had arisen the invention of powder and the gun. 
It is worth remembering that although the Elk is now- 
regarded as a northern animal, the German forests in which 
it lived only two and a half centuries ago, lie in a latitude 
far south of Scotland an indication that climate was not a 
prime factor in determining its disappearance in North 

In Central Europe, the forests remained and the Elk 
survived : in Britain the forests were laid low and the Elk, 
having been gradually driven to the northern confines of 
Scotland, disappeared. 


These summaries of the stories of such Deer as certainly 
survived in Scotland at the arrival of man show in different 
degree the stages of a general decadence. The Roe Deer 
became reduced in numbers and limited in range, the 
numbers and the range of the Red Deer became contracted 
and itself underwent a marked physical degeneration, the 


Reindeer and the Elk were driven from one stronghold to 
another till both died out in the northern counties. What 
widespread influence was at work against these forest-loving 
creatures? The destruction of the forest! It may be 
suggested that man's deliberate destruction of Deer for food 
was the prime agent. But the rule of the bow and arrow 
could not reduce the size of the Red Deer's antlers, for the 
necessity of finding food meant that the youngest and most 
easily obtained, not the best animals (as the rifle and present 
day sport demand) fell to the hunter, a point abundantly 
proved by the large proportion of the bones of young 
animals in early settlements and kitchen-middens. It 
may be suggested that changes of climate had dire effect; 
but more severe changes of climate were passed through in 
the early Neolithic days without seriously influencing the 
distribution of any of the species. It may be suggested that 
a decrease of proper food played an adverse part in the 
welfare of the Deer. That is highly probable. But what 
caused the decrease of food, if not the increase of domesticated 
animals and of cultivation, and the consequent destruction 
of the proper feeding-grounds the forests ? I have no 
doubt that all the factors mentioned told against the race of 
Deer, but the great influence which acted with constant and 
ever-increasing intensity was the disappearance of the forest, 
and for that man was largely responsible. 


Other inhabitants of Scotland besides the race -of Deer 
suffered from the same cause. The story of the Elk is 
paralleled by that of the Great Extinct Ox or Urus (Bos 
taiirus primigenius) which, common throughout Scotland in 
the times of the great depositions of marl and peat, was 
gradually driven northwards till it died out in the northern 
counties during the period of the brochs 1 . The Urus was 
a creature of the woodland, sharing with the Reindeer and 
Elk the forests of Central Europe in the days of Julius 
Caesar, and surviving in these safe retreats until, it has been 
stated, the beginning of the sixteenth century. Like the 
Elk, it survived in Europe with the forests, and with the 
forests, disappeared in Scotland. 

1 For a more detailed account of its history, see p. 49 et seq. 


The forest-loving beasts of prey, the Bear, the Wolf, 
the Fox, the Wild Cat, the Pine Marten, the Polecat and 
their like, as well as the inoffensive Badger and the Beaver, 
must also have suffered in numbers and in range as their 
haunts were demolished. More than once I have referred 
to the deliberate destruction of woods for the purpose of 
ridding the land of Wolves and lesser vermin ; but the 
destruction of woodland from whatever cause must have 
had the like effect of decreasing their numbers and driving 
them to resorts further afield. 


One other creature amongst mammals, deserves mention 
on account of its vital connection with the forest the 
Common Red Squirrel (Sciurusvulgaris). The refuse of the 
prehistoric settlements affords no evidence of the presence 
of the Squirrel in Scotland, nor would we expect to find 
the remains of so small and shy a creature in these rude 
accumulations. For even had they ever found their way to 
the kitchen-midden, the liability of the small bones to 
decay, and the rough and ready methods of collecting 
animal remains which have too often characterized the older 
excavations, place almost insuperable difficulties in the way 
of their recovery. 

Yet I have no doubt that the Squirrel is an ancient 
native of Scotland and that this "herald of forest conditions 
all over the northern hemisphere," as Professor Osborn calls 
it, accompanied the woodland fauna which migrated to Britain 
from the Continent in the days succeeding the Ice Age. 

During long ages it held its ground throughout the 
whole of Scotland. In the seventeenth century, Sir Robert 
Sibbald, in his Scotia Illustrata (1684), records its presence 
at one end of the country, in the woods of the southern 
tract of Scotland. " In meridionalis Plagae Scotiae Sylvis 
reperitur " ; and at other end, in the far north, Sir Robert 
Gordon wrote in 1630 in his History of the Earldom of 
Sutherland that 

All these forrests and Schases are verie profitable for the feeding of bestiall, 
and delectable for hunting. They are full of reid deer and roes, woulffs, 
foxes, wyld catts, brocks, skuyrells, whitrets, otters, martrixes, hares, and 


And familiarity with its presence in the midlands is clearly 
indicated in an ancient Gaelic poem, the Lament for 
MacGregor of Knaro attributed to the first half of the 
seventeenth century, and referring to the region of the 
MacGregors in northern Perthshire : 

Tho' nimble the squirrel is, 
By patience may it be ta'en 
and again 

So joyful grew my heart 

That like the squirrel could I leap. 

When the Squirrel disappeared from the Lowlands, there 
is no record 1 . It had certainly gone long before it was 
mentioned as extinct, in 1841, in the New Statistical Account 
of Berwickshire and Roxburghshire. In Dumbartonshire, 
it seems to have been absent from the fauna in 1791. 

In Argyllshire it was known between 1725 and 1745 
when Alastair MacDonald, the Gaelic poet, likens its activity, 
as if he had seen it, to the nimbleness of the picked sailors 
of Clanranald, 

Who can climb the tight hard shrouds 

Of slender hemp, 
Nimbly as the May-time squirrel 

Up a tree trunk. 

Yet here half a century later, when between 1764 and 1774 
Professor Walker wrote his Mammalia Scotica, the Squirrel, 
once plentiful, had now become very rare : " In sylvis Lornae 
superioris, antehoc copiose, nunc rarior." In 1790, accord- 
ing to the Old Statistical Account, it was "now very rare, 
if not extinct'' in Lismore and Appin, and it probabry 
disappeared entirely about the opening of the nineteenth 
century. The New Statistical Account of 1842 records it 
as formerly abundant, "but now extinct." 

About the same time it disappeared from the more 
northern woods. It is last mentioned in Moray in 1775, 
when the Rev. Lachlan Shaw, in his history of the Province, 
says that "there are still in this province foxes, badgers, 
and squirrels, weasels, etc." Two years later (1777), Pennant 

1 Dr Harvie-Brown contributed a long and detailed paper on the 
History of the Squirrel in Great Britain to vols. v. and vi. (1879 and 1881) 
of the Proceedings of the Royal Physical Society of Edinburgh, to which I 
owe most of the following record?. 


mentions it as rare in the Spey valley: "scarce in Scotland, 
a few in the woods of Strathspey." Still a few years later and 
it had gone from these regions also "I am certain" wrote 
the Rev. George Gordon, "that squirrels were not known 
in the lower or northern part of Elginshire, or on Speyside, 
at least, from 1810." 

It is unnecessary to follow the meagre details of the 
Squirrel's disappearance in other areas. Nothing could seem 
more fateful than this gradual dwindling and disappearance 
of the Squirrel, first in the Lowlands and then, almost simul- 
taneously, throughout the rest of Scotland, until not an 
individual remained, except perchance a few that lurked, far 
from the ways of man, in the depths of such native forests as 
Rothiemurchus at the base of the Grampians. 

\Vhatfar-reaching influence was telling against the welfare 
of the Squirrel? It has been suggested that the Marten 
aided in its extermination. But the Squirrel and the 
Marten had lived together in Scotland for some thousands 
of years, without, as it were, coming to serious blows ; and 
so far from there being evidence of any general increase of 
Martens, there are good grounds for believing that they also 
were on the down grade in Scotland. The Squirrel's dis- 
appearance has also been attributed to a series of severe 
winters. Yet, although this may have been a factor in 
temporarily reducing their numbers, it seems of itself a 
cause insufficient to account for their extermination over so 
wide an area. 

The great far-reaching cause of the extermination of 
the Squirrel was the destruction of the forest. We have 
seen that at an early date the woods of southern Scotland 
were destroyed to make way for cultivation and sheep pasture; 
and at an early date the Squirrel disappeared from the 
Lowlands. In Argyllshire its numbers began to diminish in 
the middle of the eighteenth century and about the beginning 
of the nineteenth it had gone. But in 1/30, the great char- 
coal-using, iron-smelting furnace of Bunawe or Taynuilt, was 
erected, that of Furnace in 1 750 and that of Goatfield in 1754. 
In all, more than twenty slag- furnaces have been found in 
Argyllshire (see Map IV, p. 320), and these bared many dis- 
tricts of wood, reaching their maximum of destruction in the 
nineteenth century, when the countryside was so ravished 

R. 23 


of its forest that the fires of the last survivors, Taynuilt and 
Goatfield, had to be blown out for lack of fuel. The 
Squirrel was exterminated in Argyllshire through the destruc- 
tion of woodland, caused by the timber-using slag-furnaces. 

In the northern counties the same factor was at work. 
In 1730 large iron-furnaces were erected at Invergarry, and 
at* Abernethy in Strathspey. These and their many pre- 
decessors in Nairn and Inverness-shire the numbers re- 
corded from these counties by Prof. Ivison Macadam are 12, 
5 and 15 respectively had ceased to work only when the 
forest within manageable distance had been consumed. The 
maximum destruction wrought by them corresponds in time 
with the disappearance of the Squirrel in these areas. 

So it was in other regions. The Squirrel, driven from 
one haunt to another, sought shelter in the deepest and 
thickest woods, and these very woods, just oh account of 
their depth and thickness, were those which attracted the 
iron-smelters of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries. The terrible havoc wrought in the forests by the 
iron-furnaces was the main factor in exterminating the native 
Squirrels of Scotland. A clearer case could scarcely be 
found of the indirect influence upon animal life of a single 
industry, for the Squirrel, whose history we have traced in 
some detail, may be looked upon as simply a type of the 
forest denizen. 

The introduction by man of a fresh race of Squirrels to 
Scotland has been described in another connection (p. 290) 
but this again affords corroborative evidence of the influence 
of forest destruction, for it was the general replanting of 
woodland in the latter part of the eighteenth century which 
gave the Squirrel a new lease of life and led again to its 
rapid spread throughout the country. 


The influence of forest destruction would be very partially 
traced were no further reference made to its effect upon 
bird-life ; and no bird could afford a more typical test case 
than the forest-haunting Capercaillie, the "Cock-of-the- 
Woods." It was a bird well known to our predecessors. 
Probably at one time it inhabited the whole country, but I 


do not remember any instance where its bones have been 
found in a Scottish prehistoric settlement, although they 
have been found in the ancient kitchen-middens of Denmark. 
The furthest south record in Scotland of the native stock of 
Capercaillies appears to be the somewhat indeterminate 
remark of the Rev J. Hendrick in his View ofArran (1807) 
that they "formerly abounded" in that Island. This occur- 
rence may represent the last survivors of a Lowland stock, 
for it certainly lies beyond the bounds of the general distri- 
bution of the bird in Scotland as history has recorded it. 

It is true that Hector Boece's statement in 1526 may be 
taken to indicate a general distribution : 

Mony uthir fowlis ar in Scotland, quhilkis ar sene in na uthir partis of the 
warld; as capercailye, ane foul mair [greater] than ane ravin, quhilk leiffis 
allanerlie of barkis of treis [Bellenden's Translation]. 

But, half a century later, Bishop Jhone Leslie, who was 
perhaps more familiar with the country, shows clearly that 
the range of the Caper was limited: 

"In Rosse and Loquhaber," he writes in 1578, as translated by Father 
Dalrymple, "and vthiris places amang hilis <Sc knowis, ar nocht in missing 
fir trie sufficient, quhair oft sittis a certane foul and verie rare called the 
Capercalye, to name, with the vulgar peple, the horse of the forrest, les 
indeid than the corbie, quhilke pleises- thair mouth, quha eitis her, with a 
gentle taste, maist acceptable." 

How Leslie could have described the bird as being less than 
a corbie, or having a "gentle taste," I do not understand; 
but probably tastes, like manners, change, for theCock-of-the- 
Woods found a place as frequently as its rarity would allow 
on the tables of the nobility. At the royal hunt on the Braes 
of Athole in 1529, the Duke "maid great and gorgeous 
provisioun for him [King James V] in all things pertaining 
to ane prince " and in the long list of fowls served was 
the Capercaillie. In the sixteenth century, therefore, history 
traces its presence from the wilds of Perthshire northwards 
through Inverness to Ross. 

The records of the succeeding century are more complete 
and more interesting. The Capercaillie still inhabited 
Perthshire: in 1617, King James VI hinted to the Earl of 
Tullibardine that on account of his " dutiful affection to the 
good of our service and your countrie's credite," he should 



to be now and then sent to us by way of present... the known commoditie 
yee have to provide, capercaillies and termigantis....The raritie of these 
foules will both make their estimation the more pretious, and confirm the 
good opinion conceaved of the good cheare to be had there. 

In Perthshire the bird is always referred to as rare. It is 
no wonder, therefore, that when the " Laird of Glenorquhy " 
sent a Capercaillie to Prince Charles of Wales at Perth in 
February 1651, the King "accepted it weel as a raretie, for 
he had never seen any of them before." It is strange that 
while it was so scarce in the wild midlands the Capercaillie 
should have been common in the eastern counties, yet Robert 
Edward, the minister of Murroes, Montrose, in an account 
of Angus published in 1678, writes to the effect that "The 
mountains and heaths abound with partridge, Capercaillies, 
and plover, etc. etc." It is less strange that in the wilds of 
Aberdeenshire, Taylor, the Water Poet, should have found 
"Caperkellies" included in the "great variety of cheere" 
furnished him by the "goode Lord Erskine" during his 
visit to the " Brea of Marr" in 1618; or that in the dense 
forests of Sutherland, Sir Robert Gordon should have to 
record in 1630 that "there is great store of partridges, 
pluivers, capercalegs " and many others. 

Notwithstanding a local plenty, we cannot help feeling 
that, even in the early years of the seventeenth century, the 
Capercaillie was already suffering from the disappearance ot 
the forests, for in 1621, the Scottish Parliament prohibited 
the buying and selling of, amongst others, "Caperkayllies" 
under penalty of "ane hundreth pounds money." 

But the law did little to save the Capercaillie from 
extinction, for the records of the eighteenth century clearly 
show a diminishing range with a steady drift northwards. 
There is now no mention of the bird in the eastern counties 
or even in Perthshire. It inhabited Speyside in 1745 ; but in 
1754, Burt says it "is very seldom to be met with" in the 
north of Scotland, and in 1775, when Shaw described it as 
"become rare" in Moray, probably it was already extinct. 
At any rate, the last example said to have been seen in 
Scotland was in the woods of Strathglass in Inverness-shire 
in 1762, although Pennant states in an indefinite way that it 
was "still to be met with" in "Glen-Moriston, and east of 
that Straith Glas" at the time of his tour of Scotland in 


1769. Its extermination is generally set down to about the 
year 1770. 

Now the Capercaillie is a bird of the forest, without 
which it could not survive, for although it nests on the 
ground at the base of trees, it roosts in the branches and 
feeds upon the tender shoots of the pine. The destruction 
of the forest, therefore, would tell directly against its welfare, 
and it is not surprising that it should have gradually dwindled 
in numbers and that its range should have been slowly but 
surely curtailed during the many centuries of destruction of 
the woodland ; until, with the climax of devastation brought 
about by the great slag-furnaces of the eighteenth century, 
it should finally have disappeared. 

Just so the destruction of woodland banished the. Caper- 
caillie from Ireland. 

The reintroduction of the Capercaillie from Scandinavia 
in 1837 and 1838, and its successful establishment and spread 
when new woods had arisen to give it shelter and food, have 
been described in another place (p. 268) and there as here 
I have depended for records mainly on the excellent and 
detailed history of the bird in Scotland published in 1879 
by Dr J. A. Harvie-Brown. 


It may be said that deliberate destruction by man had 
much to do with the disappearance of the Capercaillie. 
I hardly think that its slaughter for food or sport was a sig- 
nificant element in its extinction, but, nevertheless, it cannot 
fail to strengthen this account of the influence of the destruc- 
tion of the forest upon animal life to trace the history of 
a woodland bird which is free from the animosity of man. 
Consider, for example, the history of the Great Spotted 
Woodpecker (Picus major), as a Scottish residenter. Its 
story, too, has been unravelled by Dr Harvie-Brown. 

There is no reason why, in the old days, the Great Spotted 
Woodpecker should not have dwelt throughout the Scotland 
of the great forests. But also there is no reason why a 
bird of no interest to the hawker or the sportsman should 
receive the attention of the historian. So no records exist 
of the occurrence of the Great Spotted Woodpecker in 


the Lowlands, which had been denuded of wood long before 
the modern all-enquiring phase of natural history was 
born. History, and very modern history at that, records 
the nesting of the Great Spotted Woodpecker only in the 
more northern counties, in Banffshire, Aberdeenshire and 
Inverness-shire. It is to be remembered that autumn im- 
migrations of the Great Spotted Woodpecker to Scotland 
from the Continent occur with fair regularity, so that care 
has to be taken lest confusion arise between mere temporary 
visitors and true residenters. The following records, there- 
fore, refer only to nesting birds. 

About the years 1830 to 1840, the brothers Stuart were 
familiar with the Great Spotted Woodpecker on the Spey, 
and especially in the woods of Tarnaway bordering the 
Moray Firth : 

The Northern Woodpecker comes to breed in the spring and remains until 
the decline of summer. Many of the old dead firs are pierced with its holes. 

Writing in 1840, Professor MacGillivray of Aberdeen Uni- 
versity says that it is 

resident in the woods [of Dee] ; it occurs, but very rarely, in all parts of 
the district, from Banchory to Glen Lui. In Mar Forest and the Invercauld 
woods, it is less frequent than it was some years ago. 

Already the few observers had noted that it was seriously 
on the decrease, and soon afterwards it had entirely disap- 
peared. Apart from the testimony of naturalists who had 
found its nesting places, and of woodsmen who remembered 
it as a breeding species, the forests of the north country 
retained abundant evidence of its presence. Mr E. T. Booth 
in his Rough Notes on the Birds observed, etc., 18817, says 

The remains of the old timber in the Valley of the Spey, and in many other 
parts of Inverness and the adjoining counties, indicate that Woodpeckers 
were formerly numerous in those districts... On some of the largest and 
oldest trees, I have counted from twenty to thirty holes bored right into 
the centre of the stem. 

Dr Harvie-Brown has also recorded his observation of widely 
distributed nesting sites and has concluded that while 

the most noted haunts of the bird, and localities always quoted by the 
natives of Strathspey, were Carncruinch once wooded to the summit with 
old pine in Rothiemurchus, and the old wood of The Crannich, in Duthil; 
Castle Grant woods, near Grantown ; Tarnaway. on the Findhorn ; and 


Abernethy generally... it must have spread widely over all the old wooded 
tracts of Spey and Findhorn, as well as north of the Caledonian Canal. 

The consensus of recorded observation and of opinions 
elicited from woodsmen by Dr Harvie-Brown set down the 
date of its disappearance as between 1840 and 1850. 

Various suggestions have been made as to the cause 

Fig. 61. Great Spotted Woodpecker at one period exterminated as a nesting 
species in Scotland. About $ nat. size. 

of its gradual extermination the enmity of Squirrels, the 
stealing of nesting-holes by increasing numbers of Star- 
lings, and the destruction of the forest. The Squirrel 
was not a prime cause, for the Woodpeckers declined in 
numbers even while the Squirrel was disappearing. The 
Starling is an enemy to be reckoned with in the neigh- 
bourhood of human habitations, but there is no evidence 


that it frequented the thick forests where the Woodpeckers 
found a home. On the other hand, there is evidence 
that the progressive destruction of the forest, especially 
by the iron-furnaces, was accompanied by the progressive 
decrease of the Great Spotted Woodpecker, and Dr Harvie- 
Brown has shown that the years of its complete and almost 
sudden disappearance, 1840 to 1850, were marked by "vast 
and general destruction or burning of old trees," such as 
the bird selects for its nesting holes. 

Here is tolerably clear testimony that the Great Spotted 
Woodpecker was banished from Scotland by the destruction 
of the woodland. And to-day we have corroborative evidence 
of the influence of forest, for the replanting of many years 
ago has now borne fruit in woods of such trees as have again 
induced the Woodpecker to remain as a nester. It has become 
tolerably and increasingly common in the woods of Lowland 
Scotland, where it has been absent at any rate since the great 
forests were destroyed ; so that from the southern borders 
it now ranges to the Firth of Forth. It has taken up its abode 
anew in parts of Perthshire, as at Dunkeld and Pitlochry, and 
soon, if fresh destruction of woodland has not interfered with 
Nature's ways, we may hope to see it occupying the ancestral 
haunts in the pine forests of Speyside. With the forest it 
disappeared and with the forest it has come again. 


These typical examples of the histories of forest beasts 
and birds show better than any general statement could have 
done the vital -influence which the destruction of the woods 
of Scotland has had upon the native fauna. It may be 
objected that the conclusions I have drawn are exaggerated ; 
that had the disappearance of the forest been the prime cause 
of extermination, all the forest creatures would have disap- 
peared simultaneously. But this is not so. Various creatures 
depend on the forest in different degree : some for temporary 
shelter, some for food, some for breeding-places ; and the 
rapidity of the extermination of a forest animal is a function 
not only of the destruction of the forest, but also of the vital 
connection of the creature with the forest. Compare the 
cases of the Squirrel and the Great Spotted W T oodpecker, 


both in former times tolerably free from the direct interference 
of man. The former disappeared, reappeared (mainly by 
introduction), and increased with extraordinary rapidity while 
the latter was steadily on the decline. The reason appears 
to lie in this, that while the older trees favoured by the 
Woodpeckers were gradually being destroyed, new planting 
had created a fresh supply of food which satisfied and en- 
couraged the Squirrel. But these new plantations had no 
power to check the decline of the Woodpecker, to which old 
trees only are of value for nesting, so that, apparently in the 
midst of plenty, it was starved for lack of nesting sites. 

While I have chosen typical forest animals to illustrate 
the effects of the destruction of the forest, it must not be 
forgotten that the influence of the destruction spread far and 
wide throughout the native fauna. While only creatures 
vitally connected with woodland suffered extinction, every 
animal that sought the woods at one part or another of the 
year, for food, for breeding, or for temporary shelter, suffered 
in its numbers, in its range or in its habits from the disap- 
pearance of its haunts. It is not necessary to suppose that 
a complete disappearance of woods was necessary to influence 
the forest animals, for to many of them constant disturbance 
of their lairs or breeding-places is almost as fatal as the total 
destruction of these places of rest and shelter. 
t Yet it must not be forgotten that if the destruction of the 
forest told heavily against the woodland creatures, it favoured 
the increase of other races, for " give and take " is one of 
Nature's fundamental principles. A single recent example, 
recorded in the Field of 1908 from the Game Book of a 
Perthshire estate, will sufficiently illustrate this truth. In the 
season 1820-21 the bag of Grouse on this estate numbered 
259. Immediately afterwards the moor was planted, and 
the Grouse disappeared. In the early seventies the timber 
came to maturity and was cut down, and in 1873-4, where 
few Grouse had been seen for fifty years, 252 were killed. 
The destruction of woodland prepared the way for new 
growths of heather and for the return and increase of Grouse. 

I cannot turn from this study of the relationship between 
forests and animals without wondering to what extent the. 
new and wide destruction of Scottish woods, caused by the 
needs of the War, will affect the few truly. forest animals which 


survive from the old fauna. That it will have its influence 
cannot be doubted : the Wild Cat and the Pine Marten will 
be driven still further into the diminishing wilds, the increase 
of the Squirrel may be checked, the Woodpecker may cease 
its colonizing. The naturalist can only hope that, without 
delay, new forests may arise on the ruins of the old, to save 
not the least interesting of our wild creatures from a fresh 
period of decline and death. 



No more the heath fowl there her nestling brood 
Fosters ; no more the dreary plover plains ; 
And when, from frozen regions of the pole, 
The wintry bittern to his wonted haunt, 
On weary wing returns, he finds the marsh 
Into a joyless stubble-ridge transformed, 
And mounts again to seek some watery wild. 

GRAHAM'S British Georgics. 

BETWEEN the ways of Man and the rule of wild Nature 
there is inevitable strife. Just as the wastes of Nature are 
invaded by the plough, just so the original plants and animals 
of a district are disturbed or dispersed ; and as the economic 
necessity becomes more insistent and cultivation more intense, 
so much the deeper becomes the disturbance and the more 
certain the doom of the early associations. If the "lowing 
herd " is to wind "slowly o'er the lea," we may listen no more 
for the bleat of the Snipe and the call of the Curlew; if waving 
cornfields are to fill our valleys and climb our hill-sides, we 
shall no more see the Great Bustard and his companions 
of the open plains. The civilization of cities and villages, of 
mills and factories, of tramways, motor cars and railways has 
banished peace from the valleys, and the places where man 
has been most successful are those which most certainly shall 
know the presence of the wild no more. Yet, in spite of all 
the disruption, animal life has more than held its own, for cul- 
tivation and increase in numbers go hand in hand. Although 
many species have disappeared, the variety and the volume 
of life are greater. 

The influence of man on animal life is most intimately 
bound up with the progress of civilization, and while some 
results of this progress have been discussed in other chapters, 


it is proposed to confine this to evidences of the more im- 
mediate effects of the cultivation of the soil and of the ways 
of civilized life. In four marked directions these influences 
have tended. To one set of animals, unable to accommodate 
themselves to the changes, they have meant reduction in 
numbers, restriction of range, and even extermination ; to 
another set, less fixed in habit, the new conditions have 
merely afforded new opportunities of increase and expansion ; 
in some ways they have made easy the dispersal of animals 
in fresh areas ; and in many a creature they have actually 
induced the adoption of new habits of life. 

VII. i 


IN various ways, cultivation and the ramifications of 
civilization have tended to limit the numbers of our native 
animals. In the main this type of influence is due to inter- 
ference with habits, destruction of breeding haunts and feed- 
ing grounds, and to a variety of side issues which have arisen 
through the introduction of the amenities of civilization. The 
causes which have led to the decrease in numbers, restriction 
of range or extinction of native creatures, are here discussed 
in three groups the breaking in of waste land, the reclama- 
tion of swamps, and the interference of civilization. 


The appearance of Scotland when all the country was 
forest or moor, wild meadow, swamp or loch, can scarcely 
be conceived at the present day, so much has cultivation 
and the breaking in of the "waste" changed its aspect 
and nature. No change has been so far-reaching in altering 
the distribution of animal life. Many of the birds which 
to-day nest on the moorlands once spread over the whole 
countryside ; many an animal roved in freedom upon the 
plains which now drags out a meagre existence in the recesses 
of the hills. It is not easy to trace this change in distribution 
from historical records, for the early historians were no 
naturalists, except when they had some "mervaille" to dis- 
close, and there was nothing to appeal to their imagination 
in the scarcely noticeable decline of once familiar beasts and 
birds. Even so, in the sixteenth century Hector Boece re- 
marked the antipathy between Nature's folk and the proximity 
of man : 

In all boundis of Scotland, except thay partis quhair continewall habitatioun 
of peple makis impediment thairto, is gret plente of haris, hartis, Hindis, 
dayis, rais, wolffis, wild hors, and toddis. 



No group of animals has suffered in this respect more 
than the birds of the plains. Indeed, it seems as if cultiva- 
tion, which has already blotted some of them from the fauna 
of Scotland, may in time exterminate the whole race of these 
ground-nesting birds which for safety prefer speed of limb 
to flight much as flightless birds have disappeared wherever 
they have encountered civilization. 

No larger or more handsome bird ever lived and bred 
in Britain than the GREAT BUSTARD (Otis tarda). Once it 

Fig. 62. Great Bustard (male and female) formerly a native of Scotland. T \ nat. size. 

may have nested in the Lowlands of Scotland in numbers such 
as still are to be found in outlying districts of Spain, far from 
the bustle of mankind; but already in the sixteenth century 
the spread of cultivation had reduced it to a last remnant. 
Of its occurrence in the Merse in Berwickshire, Hector 
Boece says : 

Beside thir thre uncouth kind of fowlis [capercailyie, muir-fowl, and black- 
game], is ane uthir kind of fowlis in the Mers, mair uncouth, namit gustardis, 
als mukle as ane swan ; hot in colour of thair fedderis, and gust [taste] of 
thair flesche, thay ar litil different fra ane pertrick [partridge]. Thir last 



fowlis ar not frequent, but in few noumer; and sa far haitis the cumpany of 
man, that gif thay find thair eggis aindit [handled] or twichit be men, thay 
leif thaim, and layis eggis in ane uthir place. Thay lay thair eggis in the 
bair erd. 

I know of no later reference to the breeding of the Great 
Bustard in Scotland. It has disappeared from our country 
as completely as the Wolf or the Brown Bear, and others of 
its kind are following. 

Once the QUAIL (Coturnix coturnix] was common 


Fig- 63. Quails once common in Scotland, now scarce, f nat. size. 

Britain, nesting often, but more frequently appearing in 
migrating flocks which stayed over winter into spring. Quail 
hunting was a favourite sport in England, and "quail-calls" 
for luring the quarry were articles of commerce. In Scotland 
too, Quails seem to have been abundant up to the middle of 
the sixteenth century for in 1551 their price was fixed at 2d. 
apiece the price of a Snipe, half the price of a Woodcock. 
In the succeeding century, however, a decrease in their 
numbers, no doubt due to the advance of agriculture, caused 
the law to impose a heavy penalty of /ioo upon any person 


who bought or sold Quails, and brought about in 1685 the 
institution of a close season from the first day of Lent till 
the first day of July. Thirteen years later, still dwindling 
numbers caused the passing of a new Act, which on the 
ground that Quails had become scarce, forbade anyone to 
make use of setting dogs with nets for taking them during 
the following seven years under pain of 40 merks Scots. 
Nowadays the Quail is a scarce bird, though its numbers 
vary from year to year, and as a regular nester it has all but 
disappeared. The intense cultivation of the valleys and the 
invention of close-mowing hay-cutters and reapers, which 
destroy birds and nests as well, has cut off the last chance 
of survival of the Quail in Scotland. The implication of 
mechanical reapers in this extermination is tolerably clear. 
One exception has to be made to the statement that the 
Quail has ceased to breed regularly in Scotland. In Shet- 
land it nests more frequently than elsewhere in Scotland, 
and why? It seems reasonable to associate its persistence 
there with the fact that in the fields of Shetland the 
"reaper" is unknown. There, after the manner of the old 
days, the scythe or the sickle still mows the waving corn, 
and the Quail reaps the benefit of such peace as a primitive 
cultivation gives. 

The CORNCRAKE (Crex crex] seems to be following in 
the trail of its relative. My own impression is that its call 
is now less common in the Scottish valleys I know best. 
Bird of the cultivated land though it be, experience has 
already taught many of its kind to desert the cultivated area 
and nest in the rough corners of the fields. It may be 
that the field-nesters are being gradually eliminated by the 
perfection of the modern reaping-machine. 

Even LAPWINGS, wearied of the disturbances of cultiva- 
tion, are said more and more to be seeking safe nesting-places 
on" the wild slopes of the moors, for the Peewit, homely bird 
as it is, is sensitive to repeated interference, and seldom 
remains in a place where its eggs are destroyed time and 
again, either by agricultural operations or by egg-collectors. 

These are simple illustrations of the restrictive effects of 
cultivation, but perhaps the extension of arable land or the 
consequent decrease of the larger members of the wild fauna 
have had almost as much to do with the gradual disappearance 


of some beasts and birds of prey, and certainly of the Badger, 
as the active measures which have been taken against them 
by man on account of their depredations. In newly settled 
countries cause and effect are more easily traced. Before the 
settlers reached California from the east, the "Jack- Rabbit" 
(Lepus texianus] swarmed in fertile valleys and plains. In the 
earlier settlement days it proved so serious a menace to the 
crops that rabbit-drives on a large scale became a feature of 
western life. At a single drive in 1896 in Fresno, 20,000 
" Rabbits" were slain. Twenty years pass, and we learn from 
the American Museum Journal '(Jan. 1917) that the custom is 
forgotten. Partly owing to the warfare against them, but also 
in great degree to the advance of cultivation, the "Rabbits" 
have been driven from the cultivated grounds to the rough 
uncultivated foothills ; for several thousands of orchards and 
vineyards, market gardens and dairies have replaced the 
grain-fields of the comparatively few and large farms of a 
quarter of a century ago. 

With the breaking in of the wild banks and braes "the 
burnin' yellow's awa that was aince a-lowe, On the braes o' 
whin " the nesting sites for many small birds and shelter 
for many small rodents and insectivores have disappeared, 
to the grievous reduction of their kinds. 

It is not easy to lay to its charge all the evil influences 
cultivation has exercised upon wild animal life. Its ways of 
working are many and subtle. Take, for example, the case 
of the disappearance. of Butterflies. 

"Account for it as we may," says Mr William Evans in his Fauna of the 
Forth, " there is abundant evidence that butterflies were formerly more 
plentiful in the district [of "Forth"] than they are now; indeed we seem to 
have lost quite a number of species in the course of the last century. In the 
older lists, we find Vanessa c -album 1 , Pararge megara*, Pamphila tinea 3 , and 
Pamphila silvanus*, all of which must have vanished long ago, and I fear the 
Orange-tip, Peacock, Speckled Wood, and Ringlet species I used to get in 
the Lothians when a boy but never see now have gone also." 

Cultivation is probably the culprit ; the wild food plant of 
the caterpillar has been destroyed in the old haunts, shelter- 
ing hedgerows have been removed, the dust and grime of 
towns and traffic have rendered existence impossible. Even 
where the final stage, extermination, has not been reached, 

1 Comma Butterfly. 2 Wall B. 

3 Small Skipper B. 4 Large Skipper B. 


the replacing of once universally distributed food-plants by 
pasture and arable land has led to the localization of many 
species of insects. 

Perhaps the same vague influences have to do with the 
gradual disappearance of the Ring Ouzel on the Pentlands, 
where it nested commonly in the seventies of last century, 
according to Lieut. -Colonel Wedderburn's List, but where 
it is now seldom to be seen. 

In odd, unthought-of ways, too, cultivation tells. Arti- 
ficial manure is spread wherever arable land is known, but 
who takes into account its effect on the small inhabitants of 
the soil, except in the case of a few kinds of grubs on the 
farmer's black list ? Yet the effect of artificial manure may 
be evident enough even on large creatures, for of a flock 
of wild geese, Pink-footed and Barnacle, which, in the 
spring of 1917 after the shooting season ended, moved 
from the marshes of the Solway to feed on the adjoining 
fields, no fewer than 200 were found dead ; and their deaths 
were attributed to a new chemical manure with which the 
fields had been dressed. (Field, 5 May, 1917.) 


The extraordinary extent to which the present land surface 
of our country is due to the disappearance of swamp can be 
realized only by picturing the conditions which held in Scot- 
land about the time of the arrival of man in the country. Ex- 
cessive humidity had followed upon a dry period when forest 
growth had made great progress. Waste waters collected; 
swamps formed to such an extent that the forest trees rotted, 
and falling, encouraged the formation of still deeper morasses, 
until a large part of Scotland was little better than peat-moss. 
Dryer climatic conditions and the growth of vegetation have 
done much to convert the swamp to dry land, but man also 
has played his part ever since the days of the Bronze Age, 
when the rubbish cast from the island platforms upon which 
his lake-villages stood contributed to the disappearance of 
the very lakes which gave him security. 

The Romans possessed the art of draining lakes and 
swamps. The mansions of London rise where once the Curlew 
and the Bittern, Wild Ducks and W'ater-Hens lived and 


nested ; Pimlico was largely built upon piles, and Sir Charles 
Lucas recorded in his address to the British Association in 
1914, that he had heard a lady tell how her grandfather used 
to say that in the heart of the district where Belgrave Square 
now stands he had shot Snipe. The same authority records 
that in the last three centuries the amount of land recovered 
from the marshes of Lincolnshire alone must have been more 
than 500 sq. miles. 

In Scotland a similar condition of things held. Herodian 
describes the Caledonians as wearing neither coat of mail 
nor helmet, lest they should be impeded in their marches 
through bogs and morasses whence such quantity of vapour 
was exhaled that the air was always thick and cloudy. Even 
in the sixteenth century, the country was generously supplied 
with swamps. 

" Everywhere," says Professor Hume Brown in describing Scotland in the 
time of Queen Mary, " there were numerous mosses, lochans, and even 
lochs, which have long since disappeared, and the disappearance of which 
has materially altered the general aspect of the country. To take but one 
example, in Blaeu's map of Fife, there are some twenty lochs or lochans, 
several of them as large as the present Loch Leven, of which there is little 
or no trace at the present day." 

At a still later date wild-fowl frequented marshes in the heart 
of modern Edinburgh in the Nor' Loch now occupied by 
Princes Street Gardens, and in the large Borough Loch 
which occupied the site of the Meadows and regarding 
which the proclamation was made in 1581 that " na gyrs 
[grass] women or utheris pas within the South Loch to 
sheir the gyrs thereof, hary the burdis nestis, tak away the 
eggs of the saming before Midsymer nixt." 

How has the reclamation of such sheets of water affected 
the natural associations of animals? The amount of bird life 
which has been banished may be judged from a statement 
said to have been made by William of Malmesbury, who lived 
in the twelfth century, to the effect that the Lincolnshire 
Fens were so covered with Coots and Ducks and the flashes 
[pools] with fowl, that in moulting-time, when the birds were 
unable to fly, the natives could take two or three thousand 
at a draught with their nets. Old records show that the 
marshes of Scotland were not less rich in bird life. In the 
sixteenth century Boece said of Loch Spynie, near Elgin, 
now all but vanished through the influence of man, 



In Murray, is ane loch namit Spynee quhair gret plente is of swannis. The 
cause quhy the swannis multiplyis so fast in this loch is throw ane herbe 
namit Olour, quhilk burgeonis with gret fertilitie in the said loch, and the 
seed of it is richt nurisand and delicius to swannis. This herbe is sa brudy 
that quhair it is anis sawin or plantit it can nevir be destroyit; as may be 
provin be experience: for thought this loch be V milis lang, and wes sum 
tyme as the memorie of man yet beris, full of salmond and uthir gret fische, 
yit, fra this herbe began to burgeon in it, the waiter is growin sa schauld, 
than ane man may waid throw the maist partis thairof ; and therefore, all 
manir of gret fische is quit evanist out of it. [Bellenden's Translation.] 

And now the Swans and cygnets, which, as other accounts 
tell us, were so numerous as often to darken the air in their 
flight, have disappeared with the draining of the loch. 

Even where swamps were not completely drained the 
reduction in area which took place in many lochs must have 
greatly diminished the numbers of wild fowl. In 1810 the 
Loch of Forfar, a fine body of water, was so drained that its 
circumference was reduced from not less than four English 
miles to two, and its depth decreased by ten feet. The water 
in Loch Leven was lowered in 1830 by nine feet and the 
area contracted from 4312 to 3545 acres. In 1629, Lowther 
on his journey noted that here 

there [be] great store of almost [i.e. most all] kinds of wild fowl, of wild 
geese, there being continually seen 3000 or 4000, and swans many, the swans 
will not suffer any foreign swan to be with them, in stormy weather the old 
swans will carry the young ones on the wings off the water. ...They dry them 
in their chimneys like red herrings 1 . 

Though Loch Leven is still one of the most richly stocked 
lochs in civilized Scotland the numbers of wild animals can- 
not compare with those of former days. Not only have wild 
fowl suffered, but the greater competition for food induced 
by the smaller area of the feeding-ground has resulted in the 
disappearance of that interesting fish, the red-bellied Char, 
the last example of which was caught a few years before 
1844, whereas in Lowther's time it was common. 

Two sets of animals have been reduced in numbers or 
have disappeared with the draining of the lakes and marshes. 
The permanent inhabitants of these areas, their fishes, frogs, 
newts and lesser denizens have gone, and following on the 
disappearance of these true denizens has come that of the 

1 It is possible that the last sentence refers to the fishes of the Loch, 
though Lowther's grammatical arrangement gives no ground for that belief. 


creatures which fed upon them, such as the marsh-fre- 
quenting birds, and the Otter, still a characteristic in- 
habitant of the Norfolk "Broads." 

To take first a few actual examples of the effects upon 
denizens : The remains of hundreds of Common Frogs and 
Toads, and those possibly of the Natterjack Toad, now 
unknown north of the Scottish shores of the Solway Firth, 
have been found in deposits of the Neolithic period, in the 
Bone Cave of Allt nan Uamh in western Sutherland, where 
no marsh has existed for long ages and where now even the 
burn itself runs underground. It is true that, in the locality 
mentioned, nature and not man has been the reclaiming agent, 
but this does not affect the example as typifying one obvious 
result of disappearing marshes the disappearance of crea- 
tures vitally associated with them. 

The vanishing of two of the humbler inhabitants of the 
swamps is also worth recording, on account of their special 
interest to man. With the marshes and wet places perished 
the main breeding-places of the Mosquito, the larvae of 
which live in shallow pools; and since the Mosquito conveys 
to man the germ of malaria or ague, with the Mosquito dis- 
appeared that dreaded disease, which was once far more 
common in Scotland and England than it is at present (see 
p. 508). In the same way, the draining of the fields has 
ruined the home of a Pond Snail (Limn&a trnncatula}, 
the host in which one stage of the Liver-fluke (Fasciola 
hepatica] develops. But a single break in its life-history 
extirpates the Liver-fluke, and the ultimate result of the 
disappearance of the Pond Snail has been that from many 
districts liver-rot in sheep, which was caused by the adult 
Liver-flukes, has been entirely banished; so that reclamation 
has all but removed a fatal disease which formerly caused a 
loss of sheep in the United Kingdom estimated at a million 
a year. 

Nor must we forget that the numbers of microscopically 
small inhabitants have been even more seriously reduced, for 
some of these are particularly sensitive to alterations in 
physical conditions. In the summer of 1897, Dr Thomas 
Scott found an artificial pond in the neighbourhood of Edin- 
burgh swarming with the Water- flea, Daphnia pulex. Seven 
weeks later, as the result of a spell of dry weather, the pond 



was much reduced in size and not a single Water-flea could be 
found. If a reduction in level has so marked results, what 
must have been the effect on the myriads of smaller in- 
habitants of the waters of the draining of hundreds of 
square miles of swamp ? 

Remembering those transformations of swamp into dry 
land which have taken place over the whole country, we can 
easily understand how creatures whose sustenance depends 
upon the waters, such as the birds of the fens, have fallen 

Fig. 64. Bittern banished from Scotland with the marshes. nat. size. 

off in numbers or have forsaken our land. Consider the cases 
of two marsh birds which played an important part in our 
predecessors' dietary, the Bittern and the Crane. 

The former abundance of the BITTERN (Botaurus stellaris] 
(Fig. 64) in the fens of England, where Bittern-fowling was 
long a favourite sport, itself would suggest that the "bittour" 
which "bumbleth in the mire" must have bred in the marshes 
of the northern kingdom. Fortunately there is stronger 
testimony of its Scottish domicile, for it is clear from a law 


passed in 1600, during the reign of James VI, that the 
" bittour >: was a hawking quarry of the court of that period, 
since it is specifically protected along with many other birds 
" sik kynde of fowles commonly used to be chased with 
halkes" (see p. 203). Further in 1630 Sir Robert Gordon 
wrote of the northern parts " ther is great store [in Suther- 
land] of. . . be wters. " 

At the present day in Scotland only a rare straggler of 

Fig. 65. Crane a former inhabitant of Scottish marsh-lands. ^ nat. size. 

the species occurs on migration, the last I have seen being 
a specimen which having lost its way, was found in Harris 
in the spring of 1917, starved to death for lack of the main- 
land marshes where once it could have fed and nested. 

There is also definite evidence of the occurrence in 
Scotland of the CRANE (Grus grus) (Fig. 65) a heron - 
like bird distinguished by its fine large wing plumes ior 
Dr Eagle Clarke identified a limb bone of this bird from the 
refuse of the Roman station at Newstead near Melrose. 
That it was a common bird in the Scottish marshes of 


the sixteenth century is shown by Bishop Leslie's remark 
that in Scotland there were " Cranes anew [enough] as 
lykwyse herounis." Further we may justly compare the 
conditions here with those in Ireland, where the Crane 
occurred in great numbers, judging from the account of 
Giraldus Cambrensis who, in the twelfth century, related 
that in that country Cranes were often found in flocks of a 
hundred : " uno in grege centum, et circiter hanc numerum 
frequenter invenias,"and a manuscript of whose work in the 
British Museum clearly shows a distinction between the 
Crane and the Heron, which are illustrated side by side. 
The distinction indicated by the figures is worth mentioning, 
because in early Scottish and other records, the name 
"Crane" is frequently applied to the Heron. Thus when I 
find that in 1541, John Soutar, in reward for acting as 
fowler of Cupar Abbey was to receive for a " Crane " or a 
Swan five shillings, or that an Act of the Scots Parliament 
of 1551 fixed the price of the "Crane" at five shillings, 
or that Martin wrote in 1703 regarding "Cranes" in Skye, 
that " of this latter sort I have seen sixty on the shore in a 
flock together," I am uncertain whether the references are 
to Cranes or Herons. I am inclined to believe, however, 
that the latter is the bird signified, for in the very complete 
list of prices of wild fowl fixed by the Statute of 1551, 
the item "the cran five shillings," clearly indicates the 
Heron, for it is highly improbable that the true Crane 
would have been mentioned and the commoner Heron 
omitted, as it would otherwise be, when such birds as Larks, 
Woodcock, and Plovers are specifically enumerated. It is 
still a common practice in some districts of Scotland and 
England to call the Heron a " Crane." 

The Crane has long ceased to breed in Scotland, and 
now occurs only rarely even as a bird of passage. I n England, 
as in Scotland, the reclamation of the marshes has completely 
banished it, for although it bred in East Anglia till 1590 
and appeared as a regular migrant till a later period, there 
too it has been unknown as a regular visitor for many a 

These are but typical examples of the fates of marsh- 
loving birds. Many more must have suffered with them. 
There can be little doubt that such as Herons and Curlews 


have shared in their decline, though definite statements 
cannot be made in the absence of early historical refer- 
ences, which might give a clue to former distribution and 
abundance ; and who knows but that the frog-haunted 
swamps of past ages may have afforded sustenance even to 
the Stork, which Fordun records as having nested upon the 
Cathedral of St Giles in Edinburgh in the year 1416? 

The swamps of the low country are gone, for the marsh 
lovers "the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried 
up," and their tenants are exterminated, or have betaken 
themselves to the moors. New conditions of life have 
imposed new habits, and I imagine that the annual move- 
ments of Curlews and other moorland birds from seashore 
to uplands have been created or at any rate magnified 
by the removal of the lowland flats and fens, from which 
the seashore was but a step away. Yet less often than our 
forefathers did, we hear the welcome calls of the marsh birds, 
telling by their return that winter has passed and spring- 
is at hand, as the old south-country rhyme has it, " Whaup, 
Whimbrel an' Plover, when they whustle the warst o't's 


Not only direct trenching on their favourite sites has 
influenced the wild creatures, but many of the developments 
of civilization have affected their numbers. 


The influence of artificial lights is not of much importance 
in the ultimate relationships of a fauna, yet it illustrates very 
effectively the destructive tendency of some of the amenities 
of our later civilization. Lighthouses and lightships, scat- 
tered in ever-increasing numbers round the rocky shores of 
Scotland to guide sailors to safety, lure every year thousands 
of winged migrants to their doom, in Tennyson's words 

The beacon's blaze allures 

. " The bird of passage till he madly strikes 

Against it, and beats out his weary life. 

The solitary beams seem to possess a fatal attraction for 
both birds and moths, especially on foggy nights when they 
are compelled to travel at low altitudes. At such times 


myriads of birds hover around and dash against the stout 
glass of the lantern with such vehemence that the sea around 
becomes covered with thousands of dead bodies. 

" Hosts of glittering objects " wrote Dr Eagle Clarke, of migration at the 
Eddystone Lighthouse, " birds resplendent as it were in burnished gold, 
were fluttering in, or crossing at all angles, the brilliant revolving beams of 
light. Those which winged their way up the beams towards the lantern were 
innumerable, and resembled streaks of approaching light. These either 
struck the glass, or, recovering themselves, passed out of the ray ere the 
fatal focal point was reached. Those which simply crossed the rays were 
illuminated for a moment only, and became mere spectres on passing into 
the gloom beyond. Some of those which struck fell like stones from their 
violent contact with the glass ; while others glanced off more or less 
injured or stunned to perish miserably in the surf below." 

Even refinements of invention may make their influ- 
ence felt. The Field records that since the lighthouse at 
the Skaw was fitted with a revolving in place of a fixed 
light, the number of birds attracted to their destruction has 
increased enormously. On the night of 1 1 October 1907 no 
fewer than 1000 birds of different kinds were killed by flying 
against the lighthouse windows. And again, the alteration 
of the light of the Galloper Lightship from white to red, 
stayed the destruction, for whereas, Dr Eagle Clarke informs 
me, the keepers when relieved from duty formerly took 
ashore clothes-baskets full of Larks, now no migrants 
approach the light a simple consequence of the reduced 
actinic power of red rays. 

Insects, as well as birds, are attracted in large numbers 
by the beams of lighthouses, witness the records of Mr 
William Evans, who obtained from a dozen Scottish light- 
houses in one or two years, 7500 individuals (excluding 
2000 Gnats) representatives of 241 species of Moths, Butter- 
flies, Caddis- flies and Lacewings, Beetles and Two-winged 
Flies or Diptera, while as many as 400 Moths representing 
30 species have been taken on a July night at the Isle of 
May lighthouse. It is also on record that the Diamond- 
backed Moth, a highly undesirable alien, has clustered in 
such numbers round a lantern, that the keeper spent the 
whole night sweeping them off, so that his light might, be 
visible at sea. 

Probably a greater number of dusk-flying insects are 
yearly destroyed by the artificial lights of towns and houses. 


The least observant must have noticed the hordes of 
Moths and Beetles which on warm autumn evenings, dash 
madly around the electric lights in city streets sometimes 
even attracting Bats to the feast ; and the proverbial 
"singed moth" that "dreads the flame," commemorates the 
death of myriads of relatives which succumb to the fatal 
attraction of artificial light, sometimes in such numbers as 
to choke the oil lamp over the chimney of which they have 
passed in their madness. 


Most wild animals are exceedingly sensitive to sounds: 
a commotion amongst the Pheasants of East Norfolk 
and other parts of England was caused by the noises of 
the Jutland battle and by the great munitions explosion in 
the East End of London in the spring of 1917, which 
aroused the game-birds some 40 seconds before the sound 
could be detected by human ears. Can one doubt, then, 
that the railways which interlace with a network the busy 
centres of industry, and penetrate the moorland and 
mountain fastnesses with long lines of bustle and noise, 
have helped to drive some lovers of peace and solitude to 
seek new homes? Telegraph wires, though they supply new 
roosting-places for myriads of Swallows before the autumn 
migration, cause such mortality amongst heavy-flying game- 
birds that special means have to be taken to show their 
presence over wide stretches of moorland. Even birds of 
active flight frequently come to grief upon the wires. In 
December 1906, near Innerwick, a large flock of Golden 
Plover was observed to fly before a strong wind against 
telegraph wires, seventeen in number, with the result that 
thirty-one of the birds were killed. 


In rivers as well as on land, the advances of civili- 
zation have told hardly upon the original inhabitants. The 
erection of mills for the manufacture of woollen and linen 
cloth, of flour, meal and paper, and the construction of 
dams ,to obtain the necessary " head " of water to drive 
the machinery, have given rise on almost every stream to 
barriers which have interfered with the free passage of the 


smaller organisms of the waters, and have in some cases 
seriously checked the movements of even the large migra- 
tory fishes. This effect was clearly shown in America where 
the erection of mills and their dams on the 'Connecticut 
River greatly diminished the number of migrating Salmon, 
though in this case a compensating increase of other fishes 
was the result, for the Striped Bass on which the Salmon 
fed, multiplied as their destroyers disappeared. But no 
such compensation has occurred in Scottish rivers, for our 
migrating Salmon seldom feed to any extent on their sojourn 
in fresh waters, and the erection of cruives, weirs and dykes, 
which impede or check migration, has definitely, and in 
some rivers seriously, reduced the quantity and value of the 
fish fauna. 

Mills themselves are in some cases exceedingly de- 
structive to fishes, as where smolts enter a lade in their 
descent towards the sea and so pass over the water-wheel 
or through the turbines. In the case of the river Don in 
Aberdeenshire evidence was given before the Royal Com- 
mission on Salmon Fisheries (1902) showing that during the 
period of smolt migration seawards, when, owing to the 
lowness of the river, the whole of its water passed through 
the mills, great numbers " cartloads " a witness said of 
these young Salmon, compelled to pass through the turbines, 
were cast out, bruised and dead, in the water beneath. 

But this actual destruction is less common and less sig- 
nificant than a simple interference with the upward move- 
ments of migrating Salmon, by the erection of mill-dams 
and weirs. The importance of such interference lies partly 
in its actual reduction of numbers, but more in that it cuts 
off suitable spawning beds in the upper reaches from several 
or from all the mature immigrants from the sea, and in so 
doing reduces the potential stock of future years. In Scot- 
land alone it has been estimated that as many as 50 lochs 
and some 360 miles of river, suitable for the existence of 
Salmon, are rendered useless partly by impassable waterfalls, 
but mainly through the interference of man in creating 
impediments to migration by the erection of obstructions 
and contamination of the waters. 

The tendency of such obstacles as dam-dykes, cruives 
or caulds must be so clear that examples of their actual 

Seal? of Miies 


Rp* ^ 



The shaded portions indicate river basins to which access of Salmon is interfered with by artificial obstructions 

(Founded cm Report of Salmon Fisheries Commission, IWf). 


effects need scarcely be cited. Most hinder migration in 
some or in every state of the river, and by causing an 
unusual crowding of Salmon in the pools immediately below, 
offer easy opportunity for the spread of contagious disease 
or for the raids of poachers. Thus below the dam-dykes of 
Mugiemoss Paper Mill on the Aberdeenshire Don, as many 
as a thousand Salmon have been gathered in a comparatively 
small pool, all awaiting the flood which would give them 
opportunity to ascend ; and it was customary for the water- 
bailiffs in mid-autumn to cart several hundreds of Salmon 
from this pool to an open stretch farther up the river. Even 
where a dyke does not form a complete barrier to the passage 
of Salmon it differentiates against the most valuable indi- 
viduals: it is stated, that, before the making of a fish-pass in 
1900, the Dupplin Cruive Dyke on the Earn, while allowing 
the passage of young and specially vigorous Salmon, formed 
an obstruction impassable to Salmon weighted with spawn. 
Even the alteration of the river-bed, the creation of 
shallows above and below a dyke, may lead to the discom- 
fiture of migrants. There appeared in the Scotsman of i3th 
March 1918 an account of a remarkable run of Salmon on a 
Border river, the Tweed. But a weir at Melrose interfered 
with the consummation of an event which ought to have 
stocked the upper reaches with unusual wealth of breeding 

" The fish ascended the cauld in large numbers," wrote the correspondent, 
" and in the shallow water on either side it was a matter of no difficulty to 
seize some of them as they made the passage. The spectacle of so many 
fish passing to the upper waters led to a general relaxation of ordinary 
conditions. On one of the days of the week-end, men, women and boys 
could be seen in the water, standing up to the knees, and armed with gaffs. 
The operations of those actively engaged were watched by large crowds on 
the banks. The natural instinct for capture, aided by the food stringency, 
became so prevalent that an unprecedented spectacle was witnessed on 
the Sunday. Many who had been attending the morning service found the 
spectacle of one particular hole, which had practically become a moving 
mass of fish, too much for ordinary restraint. The quantity of salmon taken 
at this point is understood to have been extraordinary... Two of the 
captured fish weighed 50 Ib. and 48 Ib. respectively." 

The accompanying map (Map VI), where are indicated by 
shading the river-basins to which migration is interfered with, 
but not necessarily prevented by artificial obstructions, gives 
some idea of the extent of this influence upon the migratory 


fishes. It should be studied along with the succeeding map, 
to reveal the full measure of man's interference in our fresh 


Perhaps a more comprehensive destruction of aquatic 
life has followed upon the discharge into rivers of harmful 
by-products of manufacture. It is difficult to gauge the 
cumulative effects of the continuous flow of dilute solutions 
of poisonous by-products, and the subject has aroused much 
controversy ; but many a river is made unsightly by their 
presence, and there can be little doubt that in such cases 
the organic life of the river is adversely affected. There 
can be no doubt that where deleterious by-products are 
allowed to enter rivers in quantity, even if intermittently, 
there results a destruction of fishes, and, a point as important 
though often forgotten, a destruction of the small creatures 
which are the food of fishes. 

The pollution of rivers in a degree sufficient to affect 
the fauna is to a large extent a development of modern 
civilization, for although pollution follows upon the growth 
of industry and upon the aggregation of the people in social 
centres, yet its serious influence is a matter of quantity as well 
as of quality. As a rule it is due to the discharge from mills, 
mines, or sewage works of substances actually or potentially 
harmful, into the water of streams or rivers. Such dis- 
charges tell upon animal life in more ways than one. 

Solid substances cast into rivers, even where, as in the 
case of sawdust, they seem to do no actual harm to adult 
fishes, yet cover the bed of the stream with layers of debris 
which ruin potential spawning beds and in others destroy 
fish eggs by preventing free access of oxygen. The de- 
position of solid matter in streams is illegal in Britain, yet 
here similar effects follow upon the discharge of washings 
from mineral works which contain fine dust in suspension. 
Thus the beds of streams in the neighbourhood of many coal 
mines are buried in layers of coal dust which settles every- 
where, stifling vegetation and its animal dependents, upon 
which in turn the larger inhabitants of the streams subsist, 
destroying spawning beds, and actually choking fishes which 
venture within the noxious area. So also it is with the 


washings from writing-slate mills where, on the Seint and 
Llyfni, the dust is said to form in the beds of the rivers a 
layer as hard as cement. 

Other pollutions act as direct poisons to the animal life 
of the stream. The waste water of bleaching works may 
contain chlorine ; in that of paper mills have been found 
chlorine and sulphur compounds, as well as free sulphuric 
acid, to such an extent that a mixture of one part of waste 
to nine parts of river water killed Trout and Perch in one 
or two days. Distilleries poison streams with their organic 
acids, woollen mills with the alkalis from their wool washings, 
and gas-works with their carbolic acid, gaslime and cyanides. 
To gas-works' poisoning, fish are particularly sensitive, 
i part of waste in 200 parts of river water having been found 
to render an American Brook Trout moribund in 10 minutes, 
while other fishes survived only a few days. Waste water 
from iron and steel works may contain acids and may 
deposit a precipitate (ferric hydroxide) which adheres to the 
gill-filaments of fishes and checks respiration. So deadly 
are iron pollutions that experiment with waste water from 
a Canadian nail works has shown that a dilution of i part 
of the waste liquor in 1000 parts of the stream water may 
kill fishes such as Smelt and American Brook Trout in the 
course often minutes to half an hour. 

Water discharged from old coal mines may also prove 
fatal to the inhabitants of a river, owing to the sulphuric 
acid set free by the breaking down of iron pyrites in the 
coal and accompanying strata. Such a pollution, accom- 
panied by washings from a lime-kiln, recently found its 
way into a small loch in Scotland, with the result that the 
fishes were all killed off and the invertebrate life was seriously 
reduced, but a year afterwards Fresh-water Shrimps which 
had previously been scarce, reappeared and bred in great 
numbers in the loch. 

Another frequent source of pollution inimical to animal 
life, arises from the discharge into rivers of organic matters 
such as sewage. Harmless as it may be in itself, sewage 
almost invariably develops noxious properties, as deadly as 
the poisonous disinfectants by which it is often accompanied. 
During its decomposition, through the action of bacteria, 
toxic substances may be developed, but even in their absence, 


the breaking-down process entails the using up of the life- 
giving oxygen stored in the waters. Not only does a dimi- 
nution of the quantity of dissolved oxygen in river waterto one 
half of its normal (6 ccm. per litre) seriously affect Salmonoids, 
but the influence of deoxygenation is possibly much more 
important if, as has recently been suggested, the excess of 
oxygen as between sea-water and river-water is one of the 
determining factors in the movements of migratory fishes 
from one to the other. If this be so, it is easy to see how a 
river once fertile in Salmon may altogether lose its attraction 
owing to the accumulation of human life along its banks. 
Before the days when London sewage reached its present 
extraordinary proportions, the Thames was well stocked 
with fishes in its lower reaches, Salmon and Sea-Trout moved 
yearly up and down the river, and Shad, which abounded 
there also, have left memories of their long-past presence in 
the names of Shad-Thames and Shadwell. The Lower 
Thames is now destitute of fishes. Harmful effects such as 
those which follow upon the decomposition of sewage result 
likewise, but to a less marked extent, from the disruption of 
the organic content of the effluents of breweries and dis- 
tilleries, tanneries and paper-mills. 

Scottish rivers afford examples of all these types of con- 
tamination (Map VII). During the week-ends, the Don in 
Aberdeenshire runs milky white under the Brig o' Bal- 
gownie to the sea, because of the mills along its banks. 
Distilleries pour into the Spey and its tributaries enormous 
quantities of organic waste which cannot fail to affect the 
inhabitants of its waters. In 1850 there were eleven dis- 
tilleries on the river using 2270 bushels of malt a week, 
but in 1900 the number had increased to twenty-seven, and 
the weekly consumpt of malt to 50,000 bushels. There is 
clear evidence that this pollution drove mature fish from 
many spawning beds in the Fiddich and in the main river. 
The waters of Gala and the Teviot, tributaries of the 
Tweed, are "blae" with the products of wool mills. Dead 
fish found in the Nith are said to have been killed by coal 
washings from the collieries on the Ayrshire borders. Dis- 
charges from collieries and ammonia works on the Doon 
have on several occasions poisoned many fish, and in 1870 
extirpated practically the whole fish population, how much 


Basins of rivers in which migrations or spawning of Salmon are interfered with by pollution. 
Basins of rivers in which migrations of Salmon are prevented by pollution. 

(After Royal Commission on Salmon Fisheries, 1901). 


of the lesser life can only be imagined from the point of 
discharge to the sea, a distance of some 1 5 miles. On the 
Tay, the poisonous effluents of bleaching works have, 
according to Mr P. D. Malloch, at times left the lades quite 
white with dead smolts. The most general contamination, 
however, is probably due to the untreated sewage of towns. 
There are few large rivers free from this nuisance, and 
although in many its effects pass unobserved, in others its 
influence is forced upon notice : in the Forth in 1899, more 
than 400 dead Salmon were taken out below Stirling, and 
many more must have been carried away by the tide a 
destruction attributed to excess of sewage during a period 
of low water in the river. Again on rivers such as the Clyde 
and the Irvine, pollution has practically put an end to the 
migration of Salmon. 

Probably in all such cases the extermination is pro- 
gressively selective, only creatures of special sensitiveness 
or habit succumbing in the first instance: it is on record that 
the influx of lead pollution to Coniston Lake destroyed the 
Char, although the Trout were able to survive. 

The ultimate effect of pollution upon the fauna of a river 
depends to some extent upon the character of the river 
itself, especially at those parts where the noxious discharges 
enter. A swift river speedily dilutes the poisons added to 
it, and absorbs from the air fresh oxygen to replace that 
stolen from it by decomposing organic matter. The reverse 
is the case in a slow river, where a stagnant pool into which 
a poisonous effluent discharges may become a death trap to 
any fish entering it, and a barrier to migration upwards or 
downwards. The interference is even greater, from the 
point of view of fish migration, when the flow of a polluted 
river is held up for a long distance by the tide, for a barrier 
of pollution at the mouth may be sufficient to render value- 
less the whole course of the river, no matter how suitable 
its upper reaches in themselves may be. The accompany- 
ing map, following the Report of the Salmon Fisheries 
Commission of 1902, indicates in a general way the catch- 
ment areas of Scottish rivers and their tributaries where 
Salmon migration is interfered with by pollution. No infor- 
mation is available as to the effects of river contamination 
upon the invertebrate fauna, although this aspect is equally 

R. 25 


important, since upon these lesser organisms Salmon, in 
their tender years, and other fishes feed. But there is evi- 
dence that even larger creatures not members of the true 
aquatic fauna, though dependent on it, have suffered. 

Even in the wider stretches of water the destructive 
effects of civilization upon the fauna are equally noticeable. 
One would scarcely imagine that a wide arm of the sea 
exposed to daily tidal changes, such as the Firth of Forth, 
would be affected by the works of man. Yet such is un- 
doubtedly the case, for the deposition of sewage and rubbish, 
of coke and cinders from the increasing shipping on its waters, 
and from the gas works and coal pits along its shores, have 
played havoc with the fauna of a firth which in the sixteenth 
century, according to Boece, was " richt plenteus of coclis, 
osteris, muschellis, selch, pollock, merswine, and quhalis ; 
with gret plente of quhit fische." The larger members of 
the fauna have departed, the Oyster beds are ruined, the 
Cockles and Mussels are not what they once were ; but the 
most rapid change has taken place amongst the shore animals, 
for in many places the old fine stretches of sand and rocks 
whereon the people of the towns once spent happy hours, 
are buried beneath many inches of filthy cinders which have 
altered the courses of the streams and blotted out all traces 
of life. No naturalist would recognize in the impoverished 
shore fauna of the upper Firth to-day, that rich assemblage 
of marine things made famous, only a generation or two 
back, by the researches of Professor Edward Forbes, Pro- 
fessor Allman, Dr Strethill Wright and their fellow workers. 

VII. 2 


IN spite of the fact that cultivation has destroyed the 
breeding-places of many native animals, and has otherwise 
restricted their range and numbers, it cannot be denied that 
on the whole it has caused a marked increase of animal life. 
The effect is clearly seen in the Yellowstone Park in the 
Western United States, where birds with other animals are 
preserved, but where, nevertheless, they are not so abundant 
as in the neighbouring cultivated areas of the States. The 
same contrast holds good between the cultivated and wild 
districts of Scotland. The increase of certain species under 
the influence of cultivation is due mainly to the development 
of food supplies, and in a few cases to the increase of 
breeding-sites. In the present section, an endeavour will 
be made to trace in greater detail the causes to which the 
increase of animal life may be attributed. 


It is a truism that cultivation multiplies the plant-yield 
of a country, and that the more intense the 
cultivation the greater is the yield. It is 
equally evident that herein lies a vastly in- 
creased food-supply for vegetarian feeders. 
The result has been undoubtedly to in- 
crease their numbers, often to such an 
extent as to make them pests of agri- 
culture; indeed, through cultivation, man 
may even be said to create the pests he 
denounces. Take for example the excep- 
tionally clear case of the Colorado Beetle 
in America. When this Beetle, Doryphora 
(Leptinotarsa] decem-lineata (Fig. 66), was 
discovered amongst the Rocky Mountains 
in the region of the Upper Missouri in Fig. 66. Colorado Potato 
1824, it was restricted in numbers and 
harmless, for it fed upon the Sand Bur of 
the wastes (Solanum rostratum\ a wild species of the potato 

Beetles. Slightly larger 
than nat. size. 

25 2 


family, peculiar to the district. Only when cultivation 
pushed westwards and the home of the Beetle was invaded, 
did it turn from the wild Sand Bur to the cultivated species, 
with appalling results. The abundance of the cultivated 
crop and its continuous distribution throughout the States 
gave the Beetle extraordinary opportunities for increase 
and spread, especially towards the east where cultiva- 
tion was more intense. In 1859 it entered Nebraska. In 
1 86 1 it had reached Iowa; in 1864 and 1865 it crossed the 
Mississippi, entering Illinois by at least five routes. Here 
the distinctive influence of high cultivation was interestingly 
shown, for in the northern part of the State where potato- 
crops were more frequent than in the southern, it was noticed 
that "in marching through Illinois, in many separate columns, 
just as Shearman marched to the sea, the southern columns 
of the Grand Army lagged far behind the northern columns.' 
Wisconsin was invaded by the conqueror and possessed by 
the autumn of 1866. In 1867 it crossed the borders of Indiana. 
In 1869 it appeared in Ohio. In the following year it crossed 
into Canada, appearing in the province of Ontario, swarming 
in the Detroit River, and making passage across Lake Erie 
on "ships, chips, staves, boards, or any other floating 
object which presented itself." In 1874, it had reached the 
Atlantic and multiplied with such rapidity that in September 
1 876, Beetles were washed ashore on the coast of Connecticut 
in such numbers as to poison the air, and a New London 
vessel was boarded in such force at sea that the hatches 
had to be shut down. Railway trains were stopped owing 
to the slipping of the wheels on the rails, caused by the 
slaughtered thousands. A summary of the exploits of the 
Colorado Beetle gives a vivid notion of the influence of 
cultivation in increasing the range and numbers of favoured 
species. It travelled from its native region in Colorado 
to the Atlantic ocean, covering at least 1500 miles in the 
sixteen years from 1859 and 1874; its annual rate of travel 
averaged 99 miles, but so distinct was the influence of 
cultivation that in the wilder western States the rate of 
progress was less than 50 miles a year. 

America shows more clearly than the old countries the 
actual transformations in animal life wrought by the spread 
of civilization, for there we can still watch the struggles of 


man in conquering the wilderness. Thus cultivation has 
increased the food and consequently the numbers of the 
Kangaroo Rats (Perodipus and Dipodomys)of North America, 
so that they have become a plague to the settlers. They 
were harmless until man began to cultivate the sand-hills 
and sage-brush country of the west, when they turned to 
his crops, eating and storing away in burrows for winter 
use the planted seeds of maize, water-melons and vegetables 
to such an extent that now the only alternative to destroying 
the animals is to give up cultivation. 

In Scotland, the effects of the growth of field and garden 
crops on animal life, if not so striking, are still sufficiently 
definite. To what but the cultivation of our fields do we 
owe the great flocks of seed-eating birds which frequent our 
stubble fields and farm-yards the Sparrows, Greenfinches, 
Chaffinches, Yellowhammers, Bramblings, Corn Buntings, 
Wood Pigeons and the rest? In the primitive woodlands of 
Scotland, these seed destroyers found little room, for the 
depths of the forest are innocent of bird life. To a limited 
extent they may have flourished in the open ground, but they 
and their like increased with the spread of cultivation and of 
the seed crops which supplied them with easy nourishment, 
and scattered until now their numbers fill the length and 
breadth of the land. 

The increase of some of these seed-eaters, and their 
dependence upon cultivated crops are notorious. In spite 
of the constant warfare waged against it, in spite of the 
annual slaughter wrought by Sparrow Clubs (one such in 
Kent, consisting of twenty members, killed 28,000 Sparrows 
in a single season), the Sparrow continues to increase 
beyond bounds. Throughout the year 75 per cent, to 80 
per cent, of the food of adult Sparrows consists of cultivated 
grain, and the damage done to British crops by the millions 
'of country Sparrows and the additional millions of town 
cousins that move fieldwards at the first hint of ripening 
grain, has been estimated by a writer in the Empire Review 
(1917) at 500,000 quarters of cereals, valued at ,1,500,000 
a year, though another estimate of their yearly depredations 
places the loss at an equivalent of ,8,000,000. 

It is clear that the sparrow pestilence is due to the 
development of cultivation, abetted, as we shall see later, 



by the protection afforded by town and village. So it is 
with other seed-eating birds condemned by the farmer and 
gardener : in equal steps with the success of their own 
industry the tillers of the soil have created the plagues of 
the Wood Pigeon, and the Rook, of the Chaffinch, Bullfinch 
and their like. And many birds also which avoid the stigma 
of the farmer's malison owe their numbers in great part to 
the harvests of the fields. 




1828 1834 1845 '853 1856 1859(1 year 

1830 1840 1851 1854 1857 1860 only) 

1831 1841 1852 1855 1858 1861 1871 

Fig. 67. RABBITS AND CULTIVATION : Numbers of Rabbit-Skins offered 
for sale at Dumfries Fair from 18-28 to 1871. The columns represent 3-years' totals 
(where the years are not continuous, no record exists for the omitted years) and show a 
progressive and marked increase throughout the century. This increase corresponds with 
a period of increasing agricultural activity. 

Amongst the mammals which have gained most ad- 
vantage from cultivation are naturally the vegetarian rodents. 
The increase of Rabbits, as I have previously shown, was 
contemporaneous with the development of cultivation. This 
association is clearly shown in the statistics of the rabbit- 
skins offered for sale throughout the nineteenth century at 
the Dumfries Fur Market. The diagram above represents 
the numbers of skins, the records available being arranged 


in groups of three years for the sake of eliminating extreme 
annual fluctuations. It is to be seen that a steady increase is 
made throughout a century distinguished for its advance in 
agriculture ; and further that the increase, which makes its 
first marked step shortly after the year 1840, when "notable 
improvements " in agricultural methods had been initiated, 
swells by leaps and bounds during the period following 1853, 
which Mr R. Prothero (Lord Ernie) has described as the 
" Golden Age " of British agriculture. 

This close correlation between agricultural progress and 
numbers of Rabbits was, of course, not confined to the 
Lowlands nor to the statistics of the Dumfries Fair. It was 
probably universal throughout Scotland, and affords a simple 
explanation of the extraordinary increase in the annual 
slaughter of Rabbits on an estate in agricultural Perthshire, 
as revealed by quotations from the old Game Book, in the 
Field of 21 November, 1908. On this estate only 2309 
Rabbits were killed in the decade 1824-1833; during 1834- 
1843 tne bag jumped to 21,431 ; and in 1844-1853 it reached 
51,932. Thereafter Rabbits became such a pest that special 
efforts were made to keep them down, with the result that 
the stock of Rabbits was so reduced that the continuity of the 
statistics was disturbed. But the significance of the history is 
clear the increases in numbers were contemporaneous with 
notable periods of agricultural activity. 

The numbers of Hares as well as of Rabbits responded 
to the agricultural advance of the ''Golden Age," as a glance 
at a more detailed diagram of the statistics of the Dumfries 
Fur Market (p. 167) will show. 

Millions of Brown Rats and of House Mice depend upon 
the stores of the granaries of the United Kingdom, where the 
damage done by the former has been estimated at upwards 
of fifteen million pounds sterling a year. Field Mice and 
Harvest Mice depend directly upon the products of the field, 
and had it not been for the bountiful supplies of cultivated 
areas, we should probably never have had experience of 
such a Vole plague as that which devastated many parts of 
the Lowlands in the early nineties of last century. 

No body of animals, however, has benefited from the 
development of agriculture so much as Insects. Cultiva- 
tion has created insect pests by the score, for there is 


scarcely an insect group but has many members on the 
black list of the farmer or gardener. Of these only a few 
typical examples need be mentioned. The roots of culti- 
vated crops afford superabundant food to the Wireworm 
grubs of Click Beetles, the larvae of Cockchafers, and the 
" Leather] acket" grubs of the Cranefly or Daddy-long-legs, 
which in some years, as in 1894, have so increased in numbers 
as to destroy hundreds of acres of pasture, so that shep- 
herds knew not where to feed their sheep. Turnip and 
related crops furnish food for new hordes of Turnip Green- 
fly (Rhinocola dianthi\ Turnip Moth (Euxo'a (Agrotis] 
segetuni), Turnip Saw-fly (Atkalia colibri\ Turnip Flea 
Qtt\\t(Phyllotretanemorum\ and the mischievous Diamond- 
backed Moth (Pht fella maculipennis], which has devastated 
whole fields of turnips, swedes, rape and cabbage. Upon 
the yield of the garden and the orchard have thriven and 
multiplied the Cabbage Butterflies (Pieris brassicce and 
rapes], the Gooseberry Saw-fly (Pteronus ribesii] and 
Magpie Moth {Abraxas grossulariatd], the Red Mites 
of the currant bushes (Tetranychus telarius], the Umber 
and Winter Moths (Hybernia defoliaria and Cheimatobia 
brumata) of apple trees, which also nourish the dreaded 
multitudes of American Blight or Woolly Aphis (Eriosoma 
lanigera). Many more kinds of Plant Lice and Greenflies 
suck the juices of fruit and flower-bearing plants, and 
many Beetles, such as the Pea Beetles (Bruchus pisoruni], 
Strawberry Weevils (Anthononms signatus], Raspberry 
Weevils (Otiorrhynchus picipes), Appleblossom Weevils 
(Anthonomus pomorum\ flourish upon legumes, green 
crops, flower blossoms and fruits, and have in one season 
fed themselves upon the crops of a Kentish fruit-grower to 
an extent reckoned in value at ^500. 

Within the soil as well as above ground and in the air, 
cultivation has increased the animal life, for not only insect 
larvae, but also vegetarian forms such as Millipedes and 
Earthworms have multiplied. Where does the angler seek 
for bait ? Not in natural areas such as moors, nor in the 
leaf-mould of the forest, nor the sand-hills of the coast, but 
in fields, gardens and the refuse-heaps of cultivated areas. 
Hensen's careful examinations revealed that the highly culti- 
vated soil of a garden yielded 53,767 Earthworms an acre, 


but he believed that the less intense cultivation of the corn- 
field would yield only about half that enormous number. 
Even more striking are the facts recorded by Marsh relating 
to the increase of Earthworms which followed upon the de- 
velopment of agriculture in North America. 

"Forty or fifty years ago," he wrote in 1874, "they [Earthworms used by 
anglers for bait] were so scarce in the newer parts of New England, that 
the rustic fishermen of every village kept secret the few places where they 
were to be found in their neighbourhood as a professional mystery, but at 
present one can hardly turn over a shovelful of rich moist soil anywhere 
without unearthing several of them. A very intelligent lady, born in the 
woods of Northern New England, told me that in her childhood these 
worms were almost unknown in that region, but that they increased as the 
country was cleared, and at last became so numerous in some places that 
the water of springs and even of shallow wells, which had formerly been 
excellent, was rendered undrinkable by the quantity of dead worms that fell 
into them." 


The increase of such animal life as depended upon vege- 
table food naturally led to new developments in the numbers 
of the creatures which subsist upon their fellows. The fresh 
numbers of Worms in New England, just alluded to, gave 
rise to an influx and increase of the small insectivorous 
birds which follow the trail of the settler. It was they who 
checked the excessive multiplication of the Worms and finally 
abated the nuisance. 

So the augmentation of our own tiny vegetarians, earth- 
worms and insect pests, has led to increase of carnivorous 
Centipedes, insect-eating Birds, and Moles. Observation of 
the habits, and examination of the food contained in the 
crops of soft-billed birds leave no doubt that they subsist 
largely upon the insect products of cultivated crops. Professor 
Newstead found that on a low average a Starling visited its 
young 169 times a day, and on some days 340 times, with 
food which included 269 injurious insects. A Great Tit was 
seen to make 384 visits in a day and 90 per cent, of the food 
carried during its visits consisted of insect pests. Professor 
Newstead concludes 

If 20 days are occupied in rearing the young, that gives us a grand total 
of 7680 visits to the nest, so that the single pair of birds would be re- 
sponsible for the destruction of between 8000 and 9000 insects, chiefly 


Starlings and Lapwings have been observed to clear in four 
days a turnip field badly infested by the Diamond-backed 
Moth, and so on. Could the extraordinary increase in the 
numbers of Starlings which has taken place in Scotland since 
the forties of last century and is still in progress, have taken 
place, had it not been for the increasing supplies of insecti- 
vorous food afforded them by a bounteous cultivation ? Their 
most marked colonization of Scottish areas corresponds with 
the "golden age" of British agriculture. 

Glance at the birds which assemble in the vineyards of 
France, and there you will find the same factors at work. 
It is true that Magpies, Partridges, and Fieldfares eat 
the grapes and damage the bordering plants, but in 1916, 
M. A. Hugues cited as birds which were attracted by the 
insect pests of the vineyards in the neighbourhood of Nimes, 
the Ortolan (Emberiza hortulana\ Stonechat (Pratincola 
rubicola), Wheatear (Saxicola cenantke], European Bunting 
(Miliaria europcea], Crested Lark (Galerida cristata), 
Short-toed Lark (Alauda brachydactyla], Common Linnet 
(Cannabina linota], the Warblers, the European Nightjar 
(Caprimulga europczus], and the Tomtit (Parus major] a- 
specially efficient pest-destroyer. These do not attack the 
grapes, -but depend during a great part of the year entirely 
on the secondary products of cultivation. 

From such examples we may safely assume that the soft- 
billed insect-eaters are far more numerous in Scotland than 
they were before man's influence began to tell ; that culti- 
vation by augmenting their food-supply has added to the 
numbers of Starlings, Thrushes, Blackbirds, Wrens, Robins, 
Tits, the Warblers and others, as well as of Rooks and Black- 
headed Gulls. Even the seed-eaters, such as the Finches, 
have shared in the benefit, for they too feed their young upon 
insect food. 

And what of Man himself? In the pastoral and forest 
regions of the Old World where he depends mainly upon 
hunting and fishing, the population, according to a recent 
estimate by Mr George Philip, numbers only from i to 16 
a square mile, but in well-developed agricultural regions it 
rises from 32 to 128, and in productive regions commercially 
developed reaches from 128 to over 516 a square mile. 
Granted that foreign imports contribute to the sustenance of 


these new commercial multitudes, could there, nevertheless, 
be clearer evidenceof the influence of cultivation in increasing 
numbers ? 


In addition to the more or less "natural food with which 
a generous culture of the fields has supplied many creatures, 
the increase of the refuse of civilization has tended greatly 
to the multiplication of the garbage feeders. In the days 
before man concerned himself with health matters, the self- 
imposed duties of scavengers undertaken by birds and 
beasts must have saved him from many a pestilence. At one 
time, Kites were common in the streets of London, and the 
condition of Edinburgh and Leith in the sixteenth century 
and earlier led to a great increase in the numbers of the 
crow tribe Carrion Crows, Rooks, and probably Ravens 
which, as is shown by an extract from Wedderburn's Accompt 
Book already quoted (p. 224), were familiar objects in 
the streets. It is also on record that "in the sixteenth 
century, Ravens were encouraged to multiply in Berwick 
where they were actually protected in the town on account 
of their value as scavengers (see p. 225). As the crow tribe 
has benefited by the garbage of the towns, the Seagulls have 
flourished upon the offal of the fishing villages. 

No animal has multiplied so successfully on the refuse of 
civilization as the Brown Rat. It lurks in the midclen of the 
farmyard, it riddles the refuse dumps of country-towns and 
villages, and it thrives by thousands in the sewers of our 
large cities. Mr Wm Berry has recorded that the removal 
of a refuse dump at Tayfield in Fife, rid his district of Rats, 
which had appeared in such numbers that the repairing of 
the damage done to field dykes, through the undermining of 
their foundations by Rats, cost over ^200. 

Many garbage feeders amongst insects have developed 
unwonted hordes through the ways of mankind. As early 
as 1675 Mackaile had noticed that artificial heaps of sea- 
weed bred large numbers of insects, probably the Two- winged 
Flies Ccelopa frigida and Actora cestuum, and perhaps also 
small amphipod crustaceans like the Shore-fleas (Talitrus 
saltator and Orchestia gammarellus] to the benefit of their 
feathered destroyers. 


"The people of Orkney," he wrote, "gather the sea-ware (which is frequently 
and especially cast out by the sea) into heaps, which, being putrified, 
affordeth a very bad smell, and many insects which the sterlings do feed 
upon, and therefore it is ordinary to see hundreds of these birds upon 
each heap." 

Consider again that peculiar fauna, consisting mainly of 
Beetles Shakespeare's "shard-borne beetle, with his drowsy 
hum," and its relatives which spends its life feeding and 
breeding in the dung of domestic animals. How that minute 
fauna, containing amongst others, Beetles of the genera 
Sphceridium, Cercyon, Megasternutn, and Cryptopleurum 
in the family Hydrophilidae, and Aphodius amongst the 
Scarabeids, must have multiplied since man introduced 
domestic animals to Scotland, and by closer and closer culti- 
vation increased his stock till it outnumbered many times the 
wild stock which it displaced! In the same category, as 
dependent for its present day numbers upon the excrement 
of domestic stock, may be mentioned a Two-winged Fly 
or Dipteron the common Yellow Dung Fly, Scatophaga 
stercorarid 1 , whose name sufficiently indicates its unseemly 
habits. Of even wider distribution, and owing its multitudes 
still more evidently to the presence of man, is the Common 
House-Fly (Musca domestica]. In every rotting heap of garb- 
age it finds a comfortable nursery where it lays eggs which 
bring forth young in countless myriads, so that even the 
stolid Briton has turned at last and has sworn death to the 
Fly, the carrier of typhoid and similar diseases. 

If such are the developments of animal life due to normal 
conditions of advanced civilization, what can be said of the 
effects of the highly abnormal conditions of modern warfare ? 
For how much has the garbage of the battlefield to answer ? 
Beasts and birds of prey, Wolves, Vultures, Buzzards and 
Carrion Crows follow in the wake of the armies of Eastern 
Europe to-day as persistently as they have done in every war 
to which history bears record ; but under modern conditions 
still new hosts have arisen. Rats, and disease-bearing insects, 
Fleas, Lice, the Blow- Fly, the House-Fly and many relatives, 
have appeared in such overwhelming numbers and have 
caused so much suffering to man and beast as to call for the 
efforts of special medical organizations. 

1 Gr. o-Ktop, o-Karos, dung, and fa-yew, to eat ; and Lat. stercorarius, 
pertaining to dung. 

VII. 3 

DISTINCT from the potentialities of increase with which 
civilization has endowed animal life are the means of dispersal 
which man has provided in preparing for his own transport. 

The opening of through waterways has been found, for 
example in Canada, to give to the fishes and the small in- 
habitants of the waters, access to areas from which they 
were formerly absent. In 1874 Professor Marsh stated 
that the Erie Canal, in spite of its length of 360 miles and 
its ascending and descending locks in both directions, had 
caused the commingling of the freshwater fishes and the 
native plants of the Hudson and of the Upper Lakes, so 
that the fauna and flora of these regions had more species 
in common than they had before the canal was opened. 
Just so it is possible that the Panama Canal may for the 
first time bring inhabitants of the East and West to meet ; 
and so the great waterway of Scotland, the Caledonian 
Canal, by connecting the lochs of the Great Glen, and 
by affording a constant circulation of water owing to the 
passing of vessels and the inflowing and outflowing to and 
from the locks, has brought about a commingling of the 
minute but distinct members of the faunas of the lochs. The 
body of water which passes from Loch Oich through the 
Canal into Loch Lochy certainly carries with it from one loch 
to the other some of the Entomostraca or lower crustaceans 
(Water-Fleas and the like), as well as other minute organisms 
which people the water in their thousands. 

Closely associated with the movements of the waters is 
the influence of the shipping which passes upon their surface, 
for though there is little scope for transference of animals 
by such means within the bounds of Scotland, yet we have 
seen that steamers and the flotsam and jetsam of civilization 
played a great part in conveying the Colorado Beetle from 
the United States to Canada across the Detroit River and the 
breadth of Lake Erie. And it is self-evident that these aliens, 


Brown Rats and Rabbits, which abound on very many 
Scottish islands, must have been borne thither in most cases 
by human modes of transport, as have been those intro- 
ductions from foreign lands which shall be considered in 
another chapter. 

Roads and bridges are important factors in the dispersal 
of animal life. Many creatures prefer the easy means of 
communication man has prepared for his own comfort, and 
have no hesitation in turning to their own use objects planned 
by him for quite another purpose. In moving from one wood 
to another, or from one district to another, Squirrels prefer to 
run along roads, the open rides in forests, the top of a fence 
or stone dyke. They have been known to make regular use 
of dykes in passing between coverts. The Common Brown 
Hare is said (New Statistical Account) to have appeared in 
the mountainous districts of Lismore and Appin "not until 
after roads were made which opened communication with 
the low country." 

In many cases where rivers blocked the way of progress 
for certain animals, man has bridged the barrier and given 
them easy access to new districts. Rats and Squirrels, ex- 
cellent swimmers though they are, make frequent use of 
bridges, and Dr Harvie- Brown, from his examination of 
dates and places of appearance, was of opinion that the first 
invasion of Perthshire by Squirrels from Stirlingshire was 
by the Bridge of Frew over the Forth ; and that they probably 
made their first appearance in Sutherland in 1859 over Bonar 
Bridge, although it was not until the railway bridge at In- 
vershin was built in 1869 that Squirrels became plentiful in 
the East of Sutherland. I have already suggested that 
Dr Harvie- Brown laid too much stress on the necessity of 
the Invershin Bridge for migration, but there can be little 
doubt that here and elsewhere bridges have to a considerable 
extent aided in the dispersal of animals. 

The great transport systems which cross and cross again 
the countries of the world have also played their part in 
aiding the dispersal of the beasts of the field and birds of the 
air as well as of the sons of men. Apart from the influence 
of the rolling stock of our railways in transporting creatures 
accidentally or otherwise, the permanent iron way and its 
embankments have acted as a high road along which many 


animals have penetrated to new districts. Several causes 
have led to this gradual migration. The scraps of food 
dropped from carriage windows, the grease used in lubricating 
the railway points and the axles of carriages and trucks, and 
the grain and other edible stuffs spilt at goods' sidings and 
stations have induced birds, such as Rooks and Sparrows, and 
rodents, like Rats and Mice, to follow the permanent way in 
search of food. The Sparrow has made a tardy appearance 
at Corrour in western Inverness-shire along the railway route, 
and is now fairly common at the station there, from which 
centre, at an altitude of 1350 feet, it is at present in process 
of colonizing the immediate neighbourhood. About 1910, 
Dr Eagle Clarke has recorded, it found its way to the Lodge 
and the neighbouring premises, and has become common 
there, although in 1917 it had not yet reached the farmhouse 
and its outbuildings at the head of Loch Treig. Travellers 
by the Highland Railway over the ridge of the Grampians 
may see the same hardy campfollower of domestication in 
numbers at Dalnaspidal, the highest station, close on 1 300 feet 
above sea level, in the heart of the H ighland moors. 

Less venturesome birds than the Rook and Sparrow have 
made use of railways in another way. In the centres of highly 
cultivated areas, railway embankments and the bottoms of 
hedgerows are almost the only places which otter protection 
to wild flowers of many kinds and afford them opportunity 
for ripening their seeds. The railway embankments, there- 
fore, offer special attractions not only to the seed-eating birds 
but to insects also, and thus to the insect-feeders amongst 
birds. Species which, in the first instance, have visited the 
embankment to feed, have remained to nest, and so pro- 
nounced has the preference become in some cases, that the 
embankment has come to be the predominant nesting-place of 
the Tree Pipits and Pied Wagtails of a district. This tend- 
ency has made for the dispersal in new areas, of embank- 
ment-nesting birds, for the birds find not only a protected 
nesting-place in a natural granary, but a safe roost on the 
telegraph wires overhead. 

VII. 4 


OF all the effects which the advances of cultivation and 
civilization have induced upon animals none are more 
interesting than those little modifications of habit which are 
clearly acquisitions of comparatively recent date. In these 
divergences from custom we see at its simplest the elasticity 
of nature which makes living creatures for the mo'st part 
bundles of acquired responses, and which ensures that they 
do not become unresponsive automata. The modifications 
of habit are of very different degree, from mere adjust- 
ments of convenience, to changes which seem to have been 
impressed upon the actual temperahient of the creatures. 

In order to keep in view the more general aspect of the 
subject, I shall limit my remarks to changes which seem to 
be real modifications of habit, excluding all freak habits of 
isolated individuals, and including only such changes as 
have wide significance or have, as it were, carried with them 
a large proportion of the members of a species. 


There is a remarkable constancy of selection exercised 
by most kinds of animals as regards the nature and even 
the exact situation of their homes, and this constancy is by 
no means always dominated by considerations of safety. We 
do not look for a Rook's nest in a mossy bank, or a Robin's 
in an "immemorial elm." It is the more striking therefore 
that in the case of many a creature, the natural choice, en- 
grained by one knows not how many generations of custom, 
has given place to a new habit at the touch of civilization. 

Some animals renounce for a new habitat the type of 
territory in which they originally made their dwelling. The 
Rabbit, in its native home in the Iberian peninsula, dwelt in 
rocky places and on dry hill-sides, but introduced to Britain, 


it betook itself to low ground and arable land, to the 
astonishment of naturalists familiar with its continental 
habits. In the sixteenth century, Gesner, in recording 
(i 550) the vast numbers of Rabbits in England, "copia ingens 
cuniculorum" drew special attention to the fact that they 
delighted in woods and groves, although in Spain they were 
confined to hilly and rocky places. Occasionally in our 
country, the Rabbit shows an interesting return to its old 
habit. Although Rabbits are fairly common on the lower 
ground about Corrour in western Inverness-shire, Dr Eagle 
Clarke has recorded that a small number had colonized 
some rough rocky slopes near Lochan Coire an Lochan, at 
an altitude of 2250 feet, where, however, they were ex- 
terminated by severe snowstorms in 1916. 

Or take the case of our Peregrines and Buzzards : at the 
present day they mostly nest in cliffs, but in other countries 
they breed freely on trees, and probably once did so in 
Britain, for Sir H. Ellis mentions a nesting-place in Sussex 
woods belonging to Battle Abbey, founded by William the 
Conqueror, "iii nidi acceptr' in silva." It is not likely that 
nests of the Sparrow Hawk which were common, would 
have been thought worthy of mention, so it is probable that 
the remark refers to eyries of the Peregrine or perhaps of 
the Goshawk. 


Other creatures have chosen a new type of domicile, 
which, one might have imagined, was fraught with danger 
to their welfare the habitations of men. The Stork builds 
on the chimney tops of Europe, the shy African Thick-knee 
on the flat roofs of buildings in Cairo Zoological Gardens, 
but the most striking cases are those of the House Martin, 
the Swallow and the Swift. Swifts have been known to fre- 
quent their original type of nesting-site, building their loose 
beds of grass in the chinks of a cliff-face, but it is seldom 
indeed that they forsake their adopted place in the holes and 
crannies of human habitations. House Martins and Swallows 
so universally build in the shelter of houses, that it is rare 
to find any trace of their original habits. Yet occasionally 
a Swallow, building its nest in a tree or on a sea-cliff, or a 

R. 26 


House Martin making its home in the darkness of a cavern, 
betrays the secret of its original haven, before man led its 
kind to alter their ways by supplying new building sites. 
That the preference for man's dwellings seems to be almost 
a primitive instinct of the Swallow's nature is shown by the 
unanimity with which different species of Swallows in all 
parts of the world- in Europe, China, India, South Africa, 
Australia and America seek out the habitations of men 
for their nesting-places; and by specific cases, such as that 
mentioned by Dr Richardson as occurring in 1825, when Cliff 
Swallows (Petrockelidon) of North America, left their native 
cliffs to build under the eaves of a house at Fort Chapewyan 
"the first instance of this species of Swallow placing itself 
under the protection of man within the widely extended 
lands north of the great lakes." Sometimes necessity com- 
pels a reversion from even so well established a habit: in 
the deserted towns of France, where during the War all the 
buildings have been demolished, Swallows have taken to 
building in dug-outs and in trees at least a dozen nests 
having been seen in a single standing poplar tree. 

The strength of the new instinct in the House Martin at 
the present day is indicated by the numbers of nests which 
are annually occupied on favoured houses. On a labourer's 
cottage of brick and tile in a village near Stratford-on-Avon, 
the Martins' nests were all destroyed in 1915, but in the 
summer of 1916 the birds returned in such numbers that 
the cottage sheltered 86 nests, so closely packed that the 
parent birds had in some cases to feed their young in turn 
from the door of their neighbour's nest. Mr O. H. Wild 
has drawn my attention to a similar congregation of 
Martins' nests on a small house on the southern slopes 
of the Pentland Hills at Baddingsgill in Peeblesshire. 
There during the past six years, nests have varied in number 
from 56 to about 70, in 1916 the occupant counted 74, and 
in the spring of 1917, before the year's migrants had arrived, 
I saw the old nests plastered thickly under the eaves, from 
five to seven being occasionally crowded together between 
the ends of a couple of rafters. 

This curious change of habit in the Martin is interesting 
as an illustration of the subtle influence of civilization on 
the choice of the bird, but the examples just cited indicate 


also to how great an extent the building of man's tenements 
must have increased the opportunities for nesting and the 
numbers of the house-nesting birds. And this has led to 
another circumstance of some economic interest, for let us 
suppose that on an average each nest at Baddingsgill shel- 
tered but four chicks and that the average number of insects 
caught daily to feed each chick was only 500 (a low estimate, 
for Mr O. H. Wild tells me that he has counted 400 to 500 
insects in the gullet of a Swift a single meal), then the 
daily catch for this colony of 280 youngsters (the 140 adults 
being omitted) during the nesting-season would average 
1 40,000 insects, Gnats, Midges, Weevils and Greenflies, a 
work of no small service to man, the tiller of the soil. 

House -sparrows, too, though a proportion of their num- 
ber still retains the primitive tree-nesting habit, have to a 
very large extent developed an inordinate love for the chim- 
neys and water-rhones of houses an apparent affection for 
man's habitations commemorated in their Linnaean name of 
Passer domesticus. 

Shelter and warmth and easy supply of food have all 
contributed to induce many creatures, which must originally 
have dwelt in the open, to accept the unwilling hospitality 
of man's abode. Houses have, indeed, a fauna of their own, 
the members of which have to some extent altered their 
habits in placing themselves under man's roof. The simplest 
case is that of the creatures which take temporary shelter 
in the warmth and security of houses in order to tide over 
periods of severe conditions out of doors. Take the swarms 
of Flies which appear year after year in some houses, 
covering the windows until, as Mr Hugh Scott described, 

every pane of glass was densely covered with countless myriads of small 
flies; on the upper sides of the projecting cross-pieces of wood between the 
panes the flies rested in masses, literally crawling over each other, while all 
the part of the ceiling near the window was almost as thickly covered as 
the window itself. 

Such swarms, which have recently been recorded from 
houses in Edinburgh and in Fifeshire, as well as from Cam- 
bridge, consist mainly of Two- winged \\zsLimnop/iora 
septem-notata being most common, although in one case 
Chloropisca ornata was abundant. Careful investigation by 
Professor J. H. Ash worth has shown that these thousands 



of flies, almost without exception females, which have 
sought shelter and been preserved through .the inclemency 
of winter, are ready in the spring-time to lay fertile batches 
of eggs from which the hordes of a new generation would 
arise. Another source of attraction lies in our food supplies, 
an acquired taste for which induces flies, such as the Common 
House Fly (Musca domestica) the Blow-Flies or " Blue- 
bottles" (Calliphora erythrocephala and C. vomitorid), to 
spend the greater part of their existence indoors. The 
wide adoption of this new habit is well attested by the 
multitudes of fly-papers, fly-traps, and other death-dealing 
devices whereby man endeavours to protect himself from his 
detested messmates. 

Flies have been followed into houses by Spiders, several 
of which have adopted the domestic habitat, spite of 
Titania's remonstrance 

Weaving spiders, come not near. 
Hence, ye long-legged spinners, hence. 

The Common House Spider, Tegenaria derhamii, shows 
preference for dwelling-houses, while others, such as Lepty- 
phantes nebulosus, are plentiful in some warehouses, and 
a few, as the introduced Theridion tepidariorum, frequent 
warm greenhouses in Scotland. 

But the fauna of houses is almost without end a wing- 
less (Apterous) insect, the "Silver-fish" (Lepisma), hides in 
disused cupboards, chests of drawers, or amongst sugar, 
sometimes in the company of a Beetle Niptus hololeucus; 
other Beetles make their home in household properties 
Anobiiim paniceum in bread and stored goods, and Furniture 
Beetles, Xestobium tesselatum in rafters and lintels, Ptilinus 
pecticornis and Anobiiim domesticiim in furniture, where the 
latter, the " Death Watch," ticks its false portent of death 
in the still hours of the night, as Dean Swift humorously 
put it 

Then woe be to those in the House who are sick, 

For sure as a Gun they will give up the Ghost, 

If the Maggot[!] cries click when it scratches the post. 

There are besides, the Bugs of old houses (Cimex lectularius] 
and the Common Flea (Pulex irritans}, bred in dust and dirt 
sometimes in such incredible numbers that the Rev. James 
Waterston has observed " a steady stream of larvae (chiefly) 


and adults falling from a cracked ceiling above which the 
main breeding-place lay." There are also the Crickets of 
the Hearth (Gryllus domesticus], and the Cockroach (Blatta 
orientalis), both of which shall be referred to in another 
connection; and last in our perfunctory list, but not 
least, the Common House Mouse (Mus musculus), which 
has forsaken the fields for the comforts of domesticity. The 
dwellings of man have induced in all of these a new habit of 


In a variety of ways towns seem to have told upon the 
habits of some creatures, and especially of birds. True, they 
have driven many a bird from its old haunts, for the 
migrants dare not penetrate the smoke cloud which veils 
our busy cities; but in other birds town life has bred a 
boldness of character which one is not accustomed to asso- 
ciate with their wild natures. Not so long ago the Rook 
was accounted one of the wariest of birds, so shy that a 
single Rook sitting upon a house-top was considered a sure 
portent of death amongst the inmates. Yet many Rooks 
have taken to city life. In Cheltenham a rookery lines one 
of the main streets. In the heart of Edinburgh there are 
rookeries, in one of which I counted over 100 birds in the 
autumn of 1917; and even busy London prides itself on 
their abundance within its boundaries. In some places the 
Raven is losing its dread of man, and is returning from the 
cliffs of the wilds to live nearer the centres of habitation, for, 
writes "Cheviot" in The Field of 2oth May 1917, 

there is a tribe of him that nests year by year nearer the towns and in the 
suburbs, where he has found he can live foully on live and dead out of 
reach of the game-keeping gun, and where his long-drawn and savage 
krar'! krar'! sounds strangely close to open windows and the quiet of garden 

So the Raven returns to its old trade of town scavenger 
a trade long lost and entirely forgotten during ages of per- 

The House Sparrow is a bold bird, but contact with the 
bustle of business removes its last traces of shyness, and 
"with the size and activity of the city its familiarity and 
impudence increase. Other birds, once banished before the 


advance of civilization, are graining a new confidence. Black- 
headed Gulls troop up the Thames to London each autumn 
in ever-increasing numbers, a habit said to date from the 
great frost of 1895. Of recent years, too, large numbers of 
Wood Pigeons have settled in London, nesting even in 
Trafalgar Square and feeding with the utmost composure 
amongst the human frequenters of the public parks, just as 
they pick grain from the very doors of warehouses in our 
busiest seaports. Nor is this familiarity confined to birds 
which may be regarded as common. So rare a bird as the 
Great Crested Grebe has nested for several years in the Penn 
Ponds of Richmond Park on the outskirts of London. In 
the streets of Edinburgh the hoot of the Brown Owl may be 
heard on many an evening when the din of the traffic and 
tramway cables has -ceased; and flights of Pied Wagtails, 
containing scores or even hundreds of individuals, roost 
on spring and autumn evenings in the eaves of the British 
Linen Company's Bank in St Andrew's Square and on the 
ornamental stonework of the roof of the General Post Office, 
a coign of vantage which they have occupied for at least 
thirty-five years, and at which they arrive towards dusk with 
a rush of wings to be heard fifty yards away. Many of the 
birds of the town garden, the Blackbirds, and Thrushes, the 
Tits and Starlings, feed unconcernedly almost within arm's 
length of an observer, and Rooks have become well-nigh as 
impudent as Jackdaws. 

One cannot but mention in this relation, though it has no 
special connection with the influence of towns, the confidence 
which the Robin develops in association with man. Most 
country bairns and many town children are familiar from 
experience with the Robin which sits upon the spade-handle, 
while the gardener (as is his custom) rests ; and Robins have 
been known to accompany shooting parties in order to pick 
Fleas from the Rabbits killed, confidence in man overcoming, 
in this case, dread of the gun and its noise. This confidence 
is not an attribute of special individuals, for I know a 
cottage near West Linton, which, in the snowy spring of 
1917, was invaded in less than a week by as many as seven 
different Redbreasts in search of food, all the birds being 
kept together in a cage till the storm was over. 



In another way, towns have changed the habits of their 
bird frequenters, for the spring song of town and city 
dwellers as a rule commences at an earlier date than that 
of their country cousins. The Thrush is a case in point, for 
although its song rarely commences before mid-February in 
the country, it is no uncommon thing to hear it in town 
before the close of January.- The reason probably is that 
the town atmosphere in winter has a more equable and 
higher temperature owing to the abundance of fires, and the 
radiation and refraction of warmth from the walls of many 
houses. The ground, therefore, is less often frozen, the 
frosts and snows are less severe, and last for shorter 
periods than in the surrounding country. As a consequence, 
natural food, to which man adds his kitchen scraps, is more 
accessible in towns throughout the winter, and the signs of 
spring begin to show while country vegetation is still asleep. 
So food, warmth, and symbols of returning spring all tend to 
deceive the town bird as to the march of the seasons, and he 
gives way to his awakening energies in early bursts of song. 


Now the spring-time song is part of the great mating 
enthusiasm of the opening year ; and its early awaken- 
ing has close connection with an interesting sequel 
the early nesting of town birds. The House Sparrow, for 
example, is not an early nester in country districts where it 
has not become an overwhelming nuisance. Its activities in 
this respect belong to the second great wave of building in 
the latter half of April, some time after the first wave, which 
includes such birds as the Heron, Raven, Thrush, Blackbird 
and Robin. Yet in towns, Sparrows have forsaken the 
country habit and may be seen gathering the miscellaneous 
rubbish for their nests even from the beginning of the year. 
Starlings, too, which, like the House Sparrow, naturally take 
their place in the second wave of building have like it also 
been undergoing a process of speeding-up, and now instead 
of waiting for the ides of April, set to work in towns a good 
fortnight earlier. This curious change of habit is no doubt 
due mainly to the peculiar conditions of town life, but it may 


also have been induced in part by the increasing competition 
for nesting sites caused by fresh influxes of rivals or by 
the inordinate multiplication of the native birds. 


In no way has the spread of cultivation and civilization 
so clearly influenced the habits of animals as in turning 
their tastes to new sorts of food. Two causes have fostered 
this tendency. In the first place the cultivation in large 
quantities of plants of native kinds and the introduction of 
new plants have placed before the vegetarian animals of the 
country a choice such as no native of uninhabited Scotland 
could have had. The result has been the attraction of many 
creatures to new foods. I n the second place, the overwhelming 
increase of some species of animals under the conditions of 
civilization has created a fresh competition for food between 
races which depend on the same material, the result being 
that individuals or races are compelled to seek new sources 
of supply. 

The changes of habit show several degrees of complexity. 
They may be simple alterations from one species of food plant 
or animal to another closely related species; or, more com- 
plex, from one kind of plant or animal to another entirely 
different kind ; or, most fundamental change, from animal 
food to vegetarian food or vice versa. Examples of these 
different degrees of modification of habit will probably occur 
to most readers, so that only a few typical illustrations need 
be given. 

Many animals have shared in the most natural change 
of all the turning to a different variety of the same kind of 
food. The caterpillar of the Death's Head Hawk Moth feeds 
naturally upon the Deadly and Woody Nightshades wild 
members of the Solanum family (though it has been known 
to occur on a few other plants). But with the introduction 
to Europe of the Potato a species of Solanum native in 
America the caterpillar, attracted by its abundance, has 
turned to this food plant. It is well to remember, however, 
that suitable food is but one item making for the success of an 
animal, and that although every year brings to Scotland fresh 
Death's Head immigrants from the Continent, so that they 


have been found in most counties, from the southern borders 
to the Orkney and the Shetland Islands, and although these 
immigrants lay eggs which hatch into caterpillars and reach 
the chrysalis stage, yet for lack of suitable climate the adult 
moth seldom emerges in Scotland under natural conditions 
and the mummy shrivels within the pupa case. 

The adult or imago " Death's Head" shows a second 
interesting change in its habits of feeding. Naturally, it may 
be seen sipping honey while it hovers in front of some 
evening flower ; but since man contrived that Bees should 
collect honey in hives, the " Death's Head " frequently 
chooses the easier way of creeping within the hives and 
stealing honey from the cells, a strange habit well known 
in Southern Europe, a case of which near Edinburgh has 
recently come to my notice. 

The extraordinary spread of the Colorado Beetle in 
America was due to a similar simple change of food through 
cultivation. In its native haunts in Colorado it fed harmlessly 
on the Sand Bur, a wild species of the potato family, until 
the cultivated Potato beguiled it, and led it to devastate a 

The Colorado Beetle, however, widened the break with 
former habits by changing from one type of vegetarian food 
to new and different kinds a change which can be traced to 
the competition engendered by the rapid multiplication of 
the beetles themselves. Before it had spread to the Atlantic 
coast, many individuals were found to forsake the potato 
family and to browse upon such plants as cabbages, Smart- 
weed {Polygonum)) Pigweed {Amaranthus)> and Hedge 
M LI stard ( Sisymbriu m ) . 

Not only so, but its numbers induced other creatures 
to change their old established feeding habits, though not 
always without hesitation and much experiment. For 
several years Ducks were the only domesticated birds which 
turned to the Beetle for food, but after a few years Fowls 
learned to eat, first the eggs, then the larvae, and finally the 
adult beetles, so that as many as 30 and 40 of these were 
found in the crops of single chicks, and this not because 
other food was lacking, but from a newly acquired preference. 

A similar development of habit occurs in our Starlings, 
which may frequently be seen perched on the backs of Sheep, 


having forsaken for the nonce the insects of the cultivated 
ground for the " ticks " parasitic on the animal. In this same 
category must be placed many introduced animals such as 
the Common Pheasant, which, first brought from the banks 
of the Phasis in Asia Minor, has had to satisfy itself with 
the strange products of our western lands. And what of the 
pests of our food and stored goods the Meal Worm, 
hateful larva of a Beetle (Tenebrio molitor\ the Flour 
Mite (Aleurobius), the Biscuit Beetle (Anobium paniceuni] 
whose larvae, as sailors well know, riddle the biscuits carried 
on long voyages, the Cheese Mite (Tyroglyphus], the Clothes 
Moths (Tineidae) which destroy clothing, tapestry, furs and 
wool, the " Book Worm," a Scolytid Beetle, whose curious 
habit has earned it the learned name of Hypothenemiis eru- 
ditus, the still more curious Tobacco Beetle (Lasioderma 
testacea], the .grubs and adults of which devour cigarettes 
or any other form of prepared tobacco and how many more ? 
Surely the ways and inventions of man have modified the 
feeding habits of these to no small degree. 

Yet still more marked is the break with custom notice- 
able in such creatures as forsake a vegetarian for a carni- 
vorous, or a carnivorous for a vegetarian diet. Of these the 
most notorious is that dull olive-green parrot, with red under- 
wing, streaked with blue and yellow as it flies the Kea 
(Nestor notabilis}, bird of the solitudes of the great snowy 
mountains of New Zealand. It is chiefly nocturnal in habit, 
and before man tempted it from the way of uprightness, it 
depended mainly on the berries of the trees and shrubs which 
grow in the sheltered gullies of the hills. Now it has acquired 
the despicable habit of settling on the back of a living Sheep 
and digging with its sharp beak through skin and flesh until 
it reaches and devours the succulent fat encasing the kidney. 
As many as 200 Sheep have been killed in a single night on 
a station at I*ake Wanaka through these cruel attacks. It 
has been surmised that the Kea learned its gruesome habit 
through alighting, as does the Starling, on the backs of Sheep, 
in order to eat the parasites abounding there, and that by 
chance, perhaps in following the burrowing maggots of some 
fly, it happened upon the dainty concealed in the living 

This direction of change, however, from vegetarian to 


carnivorous diet does not seem to have been the usual one. It 
is true that the abundance of the Colorado Beetle induced 
that handsome American finch, the Rose-breasted Grosbeak 
(Guiraca hidoviciana] to give up its staple food of berries 
for easier gluttony upon the Beetle, with the result that 
superabundance of food led to the increase in numbers of 
this as*of other birds in the Eastern States. But this is not 
the rule, at any rate in our own country. Here the tendency 
is distinctly that insectivorous birds should develop vege- 
tarian leanings, a change of habit to be traced to the plenteous 
variety of the offerings of field and garden. 

Fruit crops have had a predominating influence in this 
respect, for such insectivorous birds as Blackbirds, Thrushes 
and Starlings become more and more the pests of orchard 
and garden, finding in gooseberries, currants, strawberries 
and plums a diet which satisfies at one and the same time, 
their need for food and drink. Yet the change of habit has 
not developed to an equal extent in all these birds, for though 
Blackbirds and Thrushes are equally destructive in dry sea- 
sons, in wet seasons when moisture is plentiful, the Thrush is 
more content to follow its natural pursuit of worms and slugs 
while the call of ripe fruit seems always to appeal to its dusky 
relative. Even Wasps have learned to give up their hunt for 
Greenflies and other insects when plums are at the ripening. 
At Hilston in Cornwall the common Red Squirrel has re- 
cently adopted the fruit habit. Here the Squirrel used to be 
a rare creature, according to a correspondent of The Field, 
but in the few years before 1913 it increased rapidly in num- 
bers till it could be counted by the score. In 1913 it began 
to enter gardens, tearing the nets to get at strawberries ; from 
these it passed in succession to raspberries and ripe plums, 
till it finally attacked hard green peas, when the patience 
of the gardener giving out, a warfare of extermination was 

Field crops also have proved a temptation to many a 
bird. The attraction of potatoes for the Rook is an old story, 
but its raids on grain are by no means negligible, as the 
contents of its crop too often show. One would scarcely 
expect Wild Ducks to be induced to forsake the worms and 
insects of the marsh for the produce of the fields, yet in the 
Tweed valley on autumn evenings numbers of Mallard visit 


the stocks of oats in the harvest fields for their grain. Again, 
Mr O. H. Wild tells me that he has seen Mallard flying 
deliberately and regularly inland to potato fields where they 
consumed sufficient to damage the crop appreciably,' and 
Rev. J. M. McWilliam relates a similar story of the Wigeon. 
Gulls, too, especially the Black-headed and the Common Gull, 
have left the seashore and the marsh to follow the plough, 
and may be. seen on summer evenings chasing moths in 
pasture land. It is generally supposed that in the fields they 
confine their attention to grubs and worms, but while these 
no doubt form the larger share of their new diet, examination 
of their gizzards convicts them of an unsuspected taste for 
grain and even turnips. In North Ronaldshay, in the Orkney 
Islands, turnips have formed a staple part of the autumn 
food of Gulls for close on forty years, and during the last 
dozen years, the turnip-eating habit has become common in 
parts of Aberdeenshire. 

A notable change in the feeding habits of the Grey Lag 
Goose is clearly traceable to the influence of cultivation. 
In North Uist, Mr F. S. Beveridge has recorded, towards 
the end of August when oats have begun to ripen, the 
Geese appear in considerable flocks, select the most con- 
venient field and proceed utterly to demolish it. If the grain 
be too high to be reached comfortably, the Geese beat the 
crop flat by settling on it in closely packed flocks, or by 
beating it with their wings. After the grain has been har- 
vested, they turn their attention to the potato crop, if the 
weather be severe and more natural food unobtainable. 

One little change of habit, a local migration, may be 
noted in closing this account of the influence of civilization 
and cultivation on habits of feeding. Every spring there are 
reared in the safety of the large towns millions of Sparrows, 
which, so soon as the grain harvest in the neighbouring- 
country approaches, forsake the habitations of men and seek 
the fields in countless hordes. On dry summer days, clouds 
of town Sparrows, recognizable by their dusky plumage, may 
be raised from any cornfield within miles of a great city, and 
there they spend the summer and autumn taking heavy toll 
of the ripening ears, and returning to the warmth and abun- 
dant food of the city in winter. These migrations between 
city and surrounding country are now carried out regularly 


and on a much greater scale than the somewhat similar 
movements of Finches and Buntings, which in winter leave 
the barren hedgerows for the bounteous farmyard. 


Changes of habit have been induced in individual animals 
and species bythe seductions of man's cultivation and civilized 
ways, but new and peculiar animal associations, or faunas on 
a small scale, have actually been brought into existence 
through his intervention. A couple of instances will illustrate 
this curious creation of new worlds for some lesser organisms. 


It is notorious that the sewers of great cities harbour 
armies of Rats, which feed upon the garbage underground ; 
but many water supplies, also, have their own peculiar 
tenants. Natives of the streams, or immigrants to the 
reservoirs from which the water supply is drawn, find their 
way, sometimes without disguise, sometimes in the form of 
minute spores or eggs, into the pipes of the water system, 
especially where filtration is deficient. In the pipes regular 
colonies may thus be formed which live there year in, year 
out, unknown to man, until their gradual accumulation forces 
itself upon his notice by interfering with the water supply. 

It is scarcely to be expected that creatures so large as 
vertebrates should form part of the waterwork's fauna. 
Yet more than one household has been agitated at finding a 
living Eel issue from its water-tap. Not long since, in fact, 
the water-tap Eel was a topic of too frequent occurrence in 
the London newspapers, and the persistence with which it 
choked the pipes of the Hamburg supply led in 1886 to a 
careful investigation of the animal content of that system. 
A sieve-like apparatus was attached to the mains at various 
points throughout the city, and the water was allowed to 
pass with moderate force through this collecting apparatus, 
with the result that the animals contained were filtered out. 
The results were surprising. Worse than that, they were 
remarkably uniform at each of the points examined an 
indication that the haul was no chance capture but represented 
a definite association of animals more or less constant 


throughout the entire water system. It is impossible to 
detail the species of the fifty distinct genera of creatures 
thus captured. Eels were common, sometimes as many 
as six in a single sample, so that the investigator 
estimated that thousands must have been present in the 
system. Sticklebacks, a Flounder, and a Burbot were en- 
trapped. Living shell-fish were frequent; not only the fresh- 
water Pond Snails, but even species of much larger Freshwater 
Mussels. Worms were common, and some of the smaller 
Leeches were present "in almost incredibly large numbers." 
The water was peopled by swimming Crustacea Water-fleas, 
the Freshwater Shrimp, and such like and in almost every 
sample, hundreds, even thousands, of the Freshwater Slater 
(Asellus aquaticus] were found "in ugly crowds." The 
attached, inactive inhabitants of the water-pipes were even 
more numerous and of more economic importance than this 
enormous army of active swimming organisms. A Fresh- 
water Sponge and a Hydroid Zoophyte were common; but 
more serious were the growths of " Leitungsmoos " plant- 
like colonies of animal moss or Polyzoa, which in Antwerp 
were found to form all round the inside of a 60 cm. 
(about 24 inch) pipe a coat nearly 10 cm. (over 4 inches) 
thick. From about 220 yards of this pipe, two cart loads of 
the animal obstruction were removed. 

Other cities, even if they yield first place to Hamburg, 
have still sufficiently remarkable water-pipe faunas. From 
the water-conduits of Paris, there were described in 1913 no 
less than forty-four species of molluscan shell-fish alone; in 
Ypres (before the War), Dr A. Kemna found that the opening 
of a hydrant was a signal for the appearance of masses of 
shells, Polyzoa, and Worms in the jet of water. 

Britain also has its waterworks' faunas. In 1910 the 
irregularity of the Torquay water supply and the choking of 
taps and meter strainers, led to the discovery that the mains 
in every part of the district of supply were coated and 
choked with living growths of the Polyzoon, Plumatella 
emarginata. Freshwater Sponges (Spongilla lacustris] have 
been found growing in luxuriance in the pipes of Cardiff 
waterworks. Eleven species of Mollusca have been recorded 
from a water-main at Poplar, and 90 tons of the introduced 
Zebra Mussel (Dreissensia polymorpha) (Fig. 68) are said to 



have been removed in 1912 from a quarter of a mile of water 
main, conducting unfiltered water, at Hampton-on-Thames. 
There the solid growths of the shell-fish on the inner surface 
of the pipe had reduced the diameter from thirty-six inches 
to nine inches. From various supplies in Scotland, I have 
seen odd samples of Hair Worms (Gordiidae), Freshwater 
Shrimps, and Water-fleas, while tangled masses ofPaludicella 
articiilata, some pieces of Freshwater Sponge (Spongilla 

Fig. 68. Zebra Mussels from a mass of some 90 tons removed from a water-main 
at Hampton-on-Thames. Almost natural size. 

lacustris), a few young specimens of a Freshwater Snail 
(Lwm&a peregra), and some larvae of Gnats (Chironomus) 
were received by Dr S. F. Harmer from Aberdeen water- 
works in March 1913. 


Coalpits are as artificial in their origin as are waterworks, 
yet they also have become tenanted by a fauna of their own, 
whose members live and multiply and die at great depths, 


far from the light of day. In some respects a pit fauna stands 
on a par with a cave fauna, for many conditions of moisture, 
light, food and shelter are somewhat similar in both, but 
while the cave possesses an assemblage of natural immigrants, 
the coal pit fauna has been introduced by man along with 
pit-props, with hay and straw for the pit horses, and with 
other stores. Probably many of the creatures thus forcibly 
carried underground soon disappear, but several become 
established and carry on the tradition of their race under 
new conditions in a new world. Of thirteen species of animals 
which I recently recorded as inhabitants, at a depth of 750 
feet, of a coal pit at Niddrie in the Midlothian Coal Field, 
there is little likelihood that such visitors as a Sparrow, the 
Beetle Thanasimusformicarius, and perhaps the Two- winged 
Fly Phora rufipes, were permanent tenants ; on the other 
hand there is clear evidence that Rats and Mice, Slugs 
(Limax maximus], Cave Spiders (Lessertia dentichelis), the 
" Clocker " Beetle (Quedius mesomelinus], Spring-tails 
(Tomocerus minor], two species of Earthworms, a Myce- 
tozoon and perhaps the Moth Fly (Psychoda humeralis] 
had made themselves permanently at home, for the many 
individuals in the pit included young at various stages of 
growth or development. 

In this underground world habits were modified less than 
might have been expected : the Spiders fared sumptuously 
upon the Insects that frequented the workings, for their webs 
contained many wings and remains of bodies, the Earthworms 
were forced to swallow coal dust in place of earth for the 
organic matter it contained, and the Slugs were driven to a 
diet of fungus. Solely to the workings of man this little 
association of animals owed its strange existence in the 
moistness and perpetual night of a coal pit. 



Brought from under every star 
Blown from over every main. 

We sail'd wherever ship could sail, 
We founded many a mighty state. 


SINCE nomadic man first began to move his tents from 
one fertile valley to the next, he has taken his place with the 
beasts of the field and the fowls of the air as an unconscious 
factor in the dispersal of living things. The effects of this 
unintentional transference of plants and animals, limited by 
the extent of human migrations, may in the earliest days of 
our race have been of small moment; yet even in the Old 
Stone Age they must already have had considerable signi- 
ficance, for no fact is clearer than that succeeding periods of 
climatic change in Europe brought with them from lands 
unknown, their own characteristic peoples. 

We know that the people of the New Stone Age did 
actually convey with them from western Asia, domestic 
animals strange to the fauna of Europe, but what strange 
bed-fellows and camp-followers accompanied them willy-nilly, 
we can only guess. With modern extensions of travel and 
commerce, and perfected means of intercommunication across 
land and sea, the unintentional transference of plants and 
animals has entered a new phase, and has already become 
a matter of grave economic importance, which has demanded 
and has received, in countries whose scientific eye is un- 
dimmed, the attention of governments and of law-makers. 

Plants are less mobile than animals and therefore afford 
a more striking illustration of the efficiency of man as an 
agent of dispersal. When the little lonely island of St Helena, 
lying in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, 1000 miles from 

R. 2 7 


nearest land, was discovered in 1501, it was described as 
possessing about 60 species of plants, all of which, with very 
few exceptions, were unique. But before the days of the 
Suez Canal, St Helena lay on the great ocean highway 
from Europe to the East. The result of constant traffic is 
clearly perceptible in the change which took place in its 
flora; for in less than two and a half centuries, a little design 
and much accident had brought its plant species up to the 
number of seven hundred and fifty. So also the settlers 
who formed the first British colony in New England were 
astonished to find weed after weed, known to them in the 
old country, spring up in the neighbourhood of their new 
cultivation, until they had more than thirty familiar weeds 
they had thought (and had hoped) to have looked on for the 
last time on the other side of the Atlantic. 

How do these unsought aliens find their way across land 
and sea? They seem to utilize any means of transport that 
man has devised for his own furtherance, concealed often 
in curious corners and crannies until they are dumped in the 
fertile soil of a new country. Napoleon's troops on their 
return to France from the Russian campaign of 18 14 brought, 
in the stuffing of their saddles, in fodder and in other un- 
suspected ways, seeds of plants which had bloomed on the 
banks of the Dnieper and deposited them in the valley of 
the Rhine; they even introduced the plants of the steppes 
to the heart of France. In similar ways, many plants from 
Algeria and other countries entered France with the fodder 
imported during the Franco-German war of 1870, and suc- 
cessfully established themselves. 

Animals are more alive than plants, and while their 
passive stages resting spores, full-fed larvae, pupae or 
hibernating individuals may be transferred from one coun- 
try to another almost with the ease of insensate seeds, they 
themselves are also liable to be carried unintentionally, since 
many find concealment amongst stores and material for 

Regarding the general effects in a native fauna of these in- 
vading animal stowaways, there is little to be added to the dis- 
cussion of the effects due to deliberate introductions by man, 
outlined in another place (p. 243): for both deliberate and 
accidental introductions give rise to the same new com- 


petition for food and room, which leads to the weakening 
of one or other of the competitors. But this may be said, 
that since the accidental introductions owe their presence 
to concealment, they are as a rule smaller in size and less 
conspicuous than man's imported favourites; and also, that 
the former are on the whole more troublesome and pesti- 
lential, for while the deliberate introductions do damage 
mainly because they have betrayed the character man had 
attributed to them, there can be no question about the char- 
acter of the creatures which have escaped man's vigilance 
their chief end seems to be to work mischief. In pro- 
portion to their numbers the alien stowaways which become 
established in a country include more economic pests than 
the native fauna they invade. But after all this is exactly 
what is to be expected: for a native association has been 
brought by long trial and struggle to the dead-level of old 
age Nature's balance of power; while the newcomers, freed 
from the enemies which had developed along with them in 
their former home and had kept them in check, and finding 
in the country of their adoption no similar restraint, increase 
and do damage to their heart's content. So the evil continues 
until the very numbers of the pest induce some member of 
the invaded fauna to turn upon them as a convenient food 
supply, or until man devises some cunning means for their 
destruction, or counters the foreign interloper by deliberately 
introducing its foreign enemy (see Counterpests, p. 259). 

In the following pages are indicated the modes and re- 
sults of the unforeseen introduction of animals to Scotland. 


VIII. i 


THE accidental importation of animals is of more funda- 
mental importance in the make-up of our fauna than would 
at first seem possible or probable. It is difficult to realize, 
for example, that the parasites of man and of his domestic 
animals have been distributed to the ends of the earth 
through the migrations of the human races, and that almost 
all of these were absent from our fauna before the advent 
of man. It is true, of course, that some of our modern 
tormentors may have occurred naturally on one or other 
member of the native fauna, and may have turned their 
attention to man only after his appearance in this country. 
The Human Flea (Pulex irritans] is a true parasite of the 
Badger in Britain and man may have derived it from this 
source. But there can be no doubt that the virulent Plague 
Flea (Xenopsylla cheopsis], responsible for the transmission 
of the deadly bubonic plague, which in the fifteen years be- 
tween 1896 and 1911 caused over 7,000,000 deaths in India 
alone, is an undesirable alien occasionally introduced into 
our large seaports from the East. It is almost certain too 
that some, at any rate, of the Fleas of the Brown Rat, of 
domestic dogs and cats, and of poultry, animals which owe 
their presence to the influence of man, have been brought 
with their hosts from foreign lands. Just so the deliberate 
introduction of the European Starling to Australia involved 
the importation of a Fowl-Mite (Liponyssus dursa), which 
proved troublesome to the human inmates of a house in 
Sydney in which Starlings were nesting. 

It is unnecessary, as it is impossible, to trace the history 
of the introduction of human parasites to Britain and Scotland. 
Most have been so long established that their migrations, 
like those of man himself, are lost in the mist of ages. But 
a few cases may be mentioned to illustrate the general 


The original home of the Bed-bug (Cimex lectularius\ 
a creature known to Americans by the elegant and apposite 
name of '' Mahogany Flat," has long been a subject of bitter 
recriminations. Englishmen were too ready to attribute it 
to America ; Americans forcibly stated that it came to the 
New World from England with the early colonists. Now, 
in an entente cordiale, for which there are admirable scientific 
grounds, both nations have agreed to regard it as an alien, 
native of the distant eastern portion of the Mediterranean 
basin. Thence with man it has become cosmopolitan, a gift 
of civilization to new worlds. Unknown in Britain before 
the sixteenth century, so far as records reveal, it had 
certainly become sufficiently common in 1583 to cause 
alarm amongst ladies of high degree, whose habitations at 
Mortlake, so Moufet informs us, it had unceremoniously 
invaded. In the early days of its appearance, influenced 
by the movements of commerce, it was most common in 
seaports, as was to be expected, and even as late as the 
first quarter of the eighteenth century it was said to be a 
rare object in places inland. 

A near relative of the Common Bed-bug, the Tropica. 
Bed-bug (Cimex kemiptera), a native of the warmer regions 
of Asia and Africa, has taken part, like the other, in the 
wanderings of man, for it has become established in Australia 
and North America, in the Antilles and Brazil, though its 
predilection for a high temperature tends to restrict its 

Fleas, especially Pulex irritans, and various forms of 
Lice the Head- Louse (Pediculus capitis), the Clothes- 
Louse (P. humanus], and the Crab- Louse (Pkthiruspubis) 
have been carried everywhere with man; the Itch-Mite 
(Sarcoptes scabiei] is also universal, and even the Spiny 
Ear-Tick (Ornithodoros megnini\ which sometimes forsakes 
its usual habitat in the ears of American domestic animals 
to take up its abode in those of man, has been transported 
to England in the ear of an American visitor. 

Internal parasites " Flukes," Round-Worms, and Tape- 
Worms are even more deeply committed to human migrations 
than their external confederates. The Beef Tape-Worm 
(Taenia saginatd], the Pork Tape- Worm (Taenia soliuni), 
the Dwarf Tape-Worm (7". nana\ and the Broad Tape- Worm 


(Bothriocephalus latus], parasites of the food-canal of man, 
have been carried far and wide. Round-Worms, including 
the Maw Worm (Ascaris lumbricoides}, the common Oxyuris 
vermicularis, the Miner's Worm (Dochmius (Ancylostomum) 
duodenale], the Whip Worm (^Trichocephalus dispar\ and 
the Pork Thread Worm ( Trichinella spiralis], have become 

The kind of way in which many of these noxious in- 
festations have spread in times past is still well illustrated 
in the case of a dangerous parasite of the blood-vessels 
of man Bilharzia haematobia. This species, which is 
swallowed by man in impure drinking water, occurs over 
Africa from Egypt to the Cape of Good Hope, and it has 
been found that Mecca is a permanent centre of dispersal, 
whence Mohammedans, returning from their pilgrimages, 
carry the parasite to widely distant parts of the Old World. 


The introduction of domestic and other animals from 
foreign lands has also been the means of bringing a varied 
and undesirable assemblage of aliens into our country. Like 
man, these too have their external and internal parasites, 
their temporary and permanent hangers-on. Without the 
presence of the Pig, man would escape the Pork Tape- 
Worm (Taenia solium\ and the Pork Thread- Worm (Tri- 
chinella spiralis], for these find a temporary host in the 
domestic animal, (as many as 12,000 to 15,000 of the latter 
having been counted in a gramme of muscle). But wherever 
the Pig has gone they have accompanied it. 

The Round- Worm of the Horse (Ascarismegalocephala), 
a creature sometimes 17 inches long, often found in great 
numbers ; the Tape-Worm fauna of the Dog's interior, 
which includes at least a dozen distinct species ; the Liver- 
Flukeof the Sheep {Fasciolahepatica}\ the Beef Tape-Worm 
(Taenia saginata\ whose intermediate host is the Ox ; and 
many other internal parasites of domestic animals, Tape- 
Worms, Round-Worms and " Flukes " have been carried 
wherever civilization has penetrated with its domestic stock. 


The domesticated and other introduced animals are, 
besides, responsible for the transportation throughout the 
world of many external parasites, the majority of which 
belong to the insect tribes or to the arachnid Mites and 
Ticks. Amongst the former are such pests as the Ox 
Warble {Hypoderma}, which ruins over 32 per cent, of the 
hides of cattle in some parts of America ; the Bot-Fly 
(Gastrophilus equt] of the Horse, the " Spider-Fly " or 
"Tick-Fly" of the Horse (Hippobosca equina), the so-called 
Sheep-Tick {Melophagus ovinus], a two-winged fly adapted 
to creep on the skin beneath the wool of the fleece, and 
the Green-bottle Fly (Lucilia sericata], an insect which has 
become notorious as a destroyer of Sheep, on which the eggs 
are laid and the larvae feed. There can be little doubt that 
this species has been carried far and wide with live Sheep 
or with fleeces ; of recent years it has done much damage 
in the Netherlands, having been introduced from southern 
Europe or Asia Minor, though some say from Britain. It 
has also appeared in Australia, where it "blows" Sheep just as 
in this country, and in the United States of America, where 
it has become one of the nuisances of slaughter-houses. 

Amongst Arachnids the introduced pests include such 
forms as the red Chicken-mite (Dermanyssus gallinae] of 
domestic poultry, which is common in both Old and New 
Worlds, the true Sheep-Tick (Lrodes ricinus), now scattered 
from China to the British Isles, and throughout North 
America, and the Asiatic-Tick {Dermacentor reticulatus), a 
transmitter of biliary fever in Horses, which occurs in Europe 
and northern Asia on most kinds of domesticated animals, 
and has also been found in England and in Wales on 

Other introduced animals have brought their parasites 
with them, but the significance of such miscellaneous impor- 
tations is of much less account than the deliberate, sustained 
and universal dispersal associated with domestic animals. 
One of the most important of the odd carriers is the Brown 
Rat (Mus dectimanus), which has borne with it to the utter- 
most bounds of the earth one or more of the twenty-six 
species of Fleas which find it a happy hunting-ground, and 
which include the transmitter of the deadly bubonic plague. 

Even our seas have been enriched by strange aliens 


which have clung through thick and thin to their hosts 
during the vissicitudes of transportation. An interesting 
recent example is furnished by the appearance of the 
American Slipper Limpet (Crepidula fornicata] in the 
Thames estuary. The first sign of its presence there was a 
dead shell found on the shore at St Osyth in 1891, although 
a fisherman had recollections of the "Crow Oyster" ex- 
tending back some fifteen or twenty years. In 1893 a living 
example was found amongst Oysters from the River Crouch, 
and thereafter records came with ever-increasing frequency, 
until it was discovered that the Slipper Limpet, from being 
a rarity, had become a pest. Its numbers on the oyster 
beds became so troublesome that endeavours were made to 
eradicate it, a special crushing apparatus being arranged 
for converting into manure the " Limpets" dredged from the 
bottom. About 191 1, the Blackwater Fisheries alone yielded 
35 tons of Slipper Limpets in four weeks ; and since then 
the multiplication of the alien has been even more rapid, for 
in twelve months in 1914-15 upwards of 1000 tons, 
dredged chiefly from the estuaries of the Blackwater and 
the Coin, were crushed and used for manure by the farmers 
of the district. The precise relationship between the Slipper 
Limpet and the Oyster is unknown, but whether the former 
be a semi-parasite or only a constant messmate, there seems 
to be little room for doubt that it was introduced with foreign 
and probably American Oysters, brought for relaying in the 
oyster beds of the Thames estuary. 

VIII. 2 


THAT we have set our habitations in an island implies 
that our introduced animals have all been sea-borne, except 
such as entered the country with Neolithic man, while yet 
the English Channel was a dry valley, and the North Sea 
a marshy plain ; and since the unforeseen importations have 
all made the voyage in secret and in hiding, it follows that 
all might be regarded as stowaways. I reserve this section, 
however, for a few free-lances, which have sought shelter 
on ships as it were on their own account, having no close 
or essential association with any particular cargo. The 
more restricted travellers I shall consider later, in relation 
to the materials in the company of which they reached us in 


Rare thoygh this interesting rodent is nowadays in 
Britain, it was no unsuccessful stowaway in the days of its 
prosperity, for its lightness and skill in climbing make it out- 
standingly the "Ship Rat." The place of origin of the Black 
Rat (Mus (Epimys) rattus] was probably in southern Asia 
whence the rodents spread through Arabia, northern Africa 
and southern Europe. At what period it reached Britain 
is uncertain, but Messrs Barrett- Hamilton and Hinton con- 
sider that its apparent absence in Europe in the eleventh 
and twelfth centuries, and its firm establishment in western 
Europe shortly afterwards, indicate that it must have been 
brought to our shores with the navies of the Crusaders on 
their return from the Holy Land a direct, if undesirable 
tribute to our predominance on the seas, for it did not appear 
in Germany till a much later date. 

In any case it was sufficiently common in England in 
the fourteenth century to be a pest demanding stringent 
measures, witness Chaucer's comment : 

And forth he goth, no lenger wold he tary, 
Into the toun unto a Pothecary, 
And praied him that he him wolde sell 
Som poison that he might his ratouns quell. 


For the earliest reference I know to the presence of the 
Black Rat in Scotland I am indebted to Mr A. O. Curie, 
and quote it from the sixteenth century manuscript of 
the Moray Papers by permission of the Right Hon. the 
Earl of Moray. The writer quaintly described the death 
and burial of an old horse, which " made his testament on ye 
castell hill and put debait amangs ye doggis and retrings 1 ." 
Yet early Scottish references are few and are mostly 
confined, not to recording the presence of Rats, but to 
marvelling at their absence from certain areas a clear 
indication of their general distribution and abundance. 
Thus Bishop Leslie in 15 78 recorded " a wondir, the rattoun 
lyues not in Buquhane," or Buchan, a district in eastern 
Aberdeenshire: "In this cuntrey na Rattoune is bred, or, 
brocht in frome ony vthir place, thair may lyue [live]." In 
the seventeenth century, 1630 to be exact, a similar reference 
to Sutherland, contains a definite statement of the means by 
which the Rats were introduced : 

There is not a ratt in Sutherland, and if they doe come thither in shipps 
from other pairts (which often happeneth) they die presentlie, how soone 
they doe smell of the aire of that cuntrey. But they are in Catteynes 
[Caithness], the next adjacent province, divyded onlie by a little strype or 
brook from Sutherland. 

At the same period, a like tradition held regarding 
Ross-shire, much to the mystification of Richard Franck, an 
ex-Cromwellian trooper, when in 1656, his journey ings in 
Scotland brought him to the northern counties. For, said 

The inhabitants will flatter you with an absurd opinion that the earth in 
Ross hath an antipathy against rats as the Irish oak has against the spider. 
And this, curiosity if you please to examine you may, for the natives do : 
but had they asserted there were no mice in Ross, every tongue had con- 
tradicted them. Now mice and rats are cousin-german, everybody knows 
that knows anything, and for the most part keep house together. But what 
difference has hapned amongst them here as to make such a find in this 
country of Ross that the rats of Ross should relinquish their countrey and 
give possession wholly to the mice ; This is a mystery that I understand 

He added that 

to the best of my observation, I never saw a rat ; nor do I remember of 
any one that was with me ever did ; but for mice, I declare, so great is 
their plenty that were they a commodity, Scotland might boast on't. 

1 retrings I take to be " rotten s,'' rats. 


The parish of Dunnet in Caithness, and also Liddesdale 
in the Lowlands boasted a similar immunity, and earth 
from these districts was in great demand for flooring barns, 
which thereby became, it was believed, ratproof. 

Unfortunately all the stories do not testify to the absence 
of Rats, and Martin in 1 703 gives a curious account of their 
abundance in the Outer Hebrides, which will serve at the 
same time to indicate how great a plague the troublesome 
immigrants from overseas had become. 

I have seen a great many Rats in the Village Rowdil [in Harris], which 
became very troublesome to the Natives, and destroyed all their Corn, Milk, 
Butter, Cheese, etc. They could not extirpate these Vermin for some time 
by all their endeavours. A considerable number of Cats, was employed for 
this end, but were still worsted, and became perfectly faint, because over- 
power'd by the Rats, who were twenty to one ; at length one of the Natives 
of more sagacity than his Neighbours, found an expedient to renew his 
Cats Strength and Courage, which was by giving it warm Milk after every 
Encounter with the Rats, and the like being given to all the other Cats after 
every Battle succeeded so well that they left not one Rat alive, notwith- 
standing the great number of them in the place. 

Since these days the Black Rat has disappeared from 
many places other than Harris. With the appearance of 
the Common or Brown Rat in the middle of the eighteenth 
century, its villany was out-villained, and it gradually sank 
in spirit and in number as it was ousted by its pushing 
rival first from the seaport towns and finally from places 
inland. It was common in rural Aberdeenshire till 1830, 
was "not very uncommon" in Keith in 1838, and had a 
colony at Cairnton of Kemnay in 1855. In 1813 it was the 
only species known in Forfar. In Moray it occurred in 
1844 but had disappeared shortly afterwards. In Edinburgh 
it still lingered in 1834, driven like the human outcasts of 
fortune to "the garrets of the high houses in the old city," 
while its successful relatives battened in the cellars and the 

Now the Black Rat has almost gone 1 . Some still exist in 
South Ronaldshay in the Orkneys, and occasional fresh 
stowaways land and attempt to gain a footing in the great 
seaports where they once swarmed (there are recent Scottish 
records from Leith, Greenock, Glasgow, Paisley, and Torry, 

1 Although recent reports (Nov. 1919) indicate that it has again got a 
foothold and is increasing in some seaport towns of England. 


Kincardine), but in this country the Black Rat has never been 
able to face the competition of the Brown, and disappears 
as certainly and almost as rapidly as it comes. Yet in the 
days of its abundance the influence of the Black Rat was 
more important than mere numbers would suggest, for, as 
I shall discuss in another place, its presence was a pre- 
dominant factor in the occurrence and distribution of the 
plague which ever and again ravaged the great cities. 


Closely related to the Black Rat, indeed usually regarded 
as a brown-coloured tropical race of the dark species, the 
Alexandrine Rat (Afus (Epimys] rattus alexandrinus] ranges 
from south-eastern Europe and northern Africa to India. 
It has long been known to pay passing calls at our ports, 
on board ships from the East, and Dr Eagle Clarke and 
Mr William Evans have recorded many specimens from 
steamers in Leith. Yet it seems never to succeed in 
establishing colonies, though recently specimens have been 
found in company with the Common Rat in the stores of 
the Zoological Park at Corstorphine near Edinburgh. 
Whether the two species will succeed in living there in 
harmony, in view of the abundance of the food supply, is a 
matter which only years, or the ratcatcher, will settle. 


Most successful of the stowaways has been the Common 
or Brown Rat {Mus (^Epimys} norvegicus), which from its 
native home on the steppes of Asia, in the regions which 
lie between Lake Baikal and the Caspian Sea, has spread 
from country to country till the whole of the civilized world 
has become its playground. Romance of a sort attaches to 
the story of the colonization of Europe by the Brown Rat, 
partly because of its extraordinary success. We cannot but 
wonder at the first hordes of the invading army, which in 
1727, Pallas tells us, compelled by the dearth caused by an 
abnormal year of multiplication in their native territory, 
burst their bounds and like a living river, flowed westwards 
from the Caspian region across the Volga, whose bed was 
choked with their dead bodies, and away to the west and 


the north, over the vast plains of Russia. This great migra- 
tion speedily made Russia, especially the region of the Baltic 
ports, a centre of dispersal whence shipping carried the new- 
comers to all parts of Europe. While this migration was 
populating central Europe, and even before it had begun, 
the Brown Rat, occasionally carried to seaports with cargoes 
from southern Russia, was making here and there experi- 
mental colonies on new coasts. 

To this latter mode of dispersal it is supposed that Britain 
owed its first Brown Rats, the date of their arrival being 
generally set down as 1728 or 1729. When it first ap- 
peared in Scotland is uncertain, but the importance of the 
trade carried on in the eighteenth century between our great 
seaports and the countries of the Continent, suggests that the 
Brown Rat as an immigrant cannot have lagged much behind 
its English brethren. Probably it was well established before 
the middle of the eighteenth century. At any rate, Professor 
John Walker, whose essay on Mammalia Scotica, published 
in 1808, was probably written between 1764 and 1774*, 
speaks of it in a way which would suggest that it was common 
and well established when he wrote. 

Further, Walker actually describes the arrival and sub- 
sequent establishment of the Brown Rat in the district of 
the Solway, some twenty years before he wrote, that is to 
say between 1744 and 1754. His remarks are well worth 
translation and reproduction. Says he, in effect, of his 
" Mus fossor..JV\\e Norway Rat: ...First brought, as they 
say, to Scotland in ships from Norway." 

Wheresoever it pitches its abode, it pitches out the Black Ratten utterly. 

The Black Ratten, the Water Ratten and the Norway Rat were previously 
entirely unknown in Annan [a district on the Solway in Dumfriesshire]. 
Because, according to tradition, these animals were unable to live in that 
district. For the which reason, the soil of Annan, was carried to districts 
afar off, with great care, and with none the less folly, for the ruination of 
Rats. However about twenty years agone, the Norway Rat was cast on 

1 The late Mr Barrett-Hamilton and Mr Hinton, in their fine History 
of British Mammals (1916, p. 609), err in saying that Walker attributed 
the arrival of the Brown Rat to the period between 1764 and 1774 this 
is apparently a misinterpretation of the correct statement made by Mr Evans 
in his Mammalia of the Forth, 1892, p. 73. None of these authors, however, 
has referred to the actual instance of the establishment of the Brown Rat 
mentioned by Walker, and translated above. 


shore from ships driven to the mouth of the river Annan, and now is 
scattered through almost the whole region of Annan. But the Black and 
the Water Rattens have not yet put in an appearance in Annan, a district 
encompassed as with ramparts, by the ocean, by alpine regions and by 
deep rivers. 

From Walker's actual statement we learn that the Brown 
Rat appeared in Annan about 1 750. This case he mentioned 
for a special purpose to contrast it with the traditional ab- 
sence of Rats from the district concerned; but that this was 
not the earliest establishment known to him is clear from 
the remark in which he assigns the first coming of the Rat 
from Norway to an earlier period, to which tradition alone 
bore witness. On these grounds it is legitimate to attribute 
the first introduction of the Brown Rat to Scotland to a 
period previous to the middle of the eighteenth century, 
perhaps in the region of the thirties. 

At first the Brown Rat settled mainly in the seaports 
and seaboard towns, where it found garbage in plenty for 
its sustenance. Soon its colonies, outpacing the food -supply, 
overflowed into the country, so that by the beginning of the 
nineteenth century, it had obtained a hold in most districts. 
The New Statistical Account of the Peeblesshire parish 
of Newlands gives an interesting description of the coloniza- 
tion of that part of Tweedside. This I quote to illustrate 
the influence of peopled valleys in determining the direction 
of the Rat's dispersal : 

The brown or Russian or Norwegian rat... a good many years ago invaded 
Tweeddale, to the total extermination of the former black rat inhabitants. 
Their first appearance was in the minister's glebe at Selkirk, about the year 
1776 or 1777, where they were found burrowing in the earth, a propensity 
which occasioned considerable alarm, lest they should undermine nouses. 
They seemed to follow the courses of waters and rivulets, and, passing from 
Selkirk, they were next heard of in the mill of Traquair; from thence, 
following up the Tweed, they appeared in the mills of Peebles ; then entering 
by Lyne Water, they arrived at Flemington Mill, in this parish; and coming 
up the Lyne, they reached this neighbourhood about the year 1791 or 1792. 

Nowadays there are few places which have escaped its 
detested presence, and the Brown Rat has become one of 
the mostabundant andmost destructive members of our fauna. 
In many areas the plague of Rats has become a menace to 
agriculture, so that we find the farmers in East Lothian 
clubbing together in 1909, and engaging four ratcatchers to 


"work'' the county. From that time till 1914 ratcatchers 
varying in number from two to seven were constantly em- 
ployed, with the result that in the six years 116,857 Rats 
were killed. This is nothing, however, to the massacres 
which have taken place elsewhere, as in 1901 on a 2000 acre 
farm near Chichester, where, in a season, systematic destruc- 
tion by poisons, traps, and ferrets accounted for 31,98 r ; while 
in addition more than 5000 were killed at the thrashing 
an astounding total of over 37,00x3 for a year 1 . 

Suppose we allow a single Rat on an average to each 
acre of cultivated land in Scotland, our stock would be ap- 
proximately 5,000,000 in number, and suppose we allow that 
each Rat on an average contents himself with food to the 
value of one farthing per day (a low estimate, for actual trial 
has shown that the cost is more than one halfpenny, but 
some Rats feed on garbage and refuse), then the bill for 
food alone would amount to ,1,875,000 a year. Add the 
waste and damage done to houses and furniture, game and 
poultry, flowers and bulbs, and we find that the harbouring 
of this unsought alien must cost Scotland roughly ,2,000,000 
a year. On a similar basis, Boelter calculated that the food 
of the 40,000,000 rats of the United Kingdom must cost 
over ,15,000.000 a year. In the United States in the 
great centres of population of over 100,000 inhabitants, the 
annual loss has been reckoned by Prof. David E. Lantz at 
,4,000,000. In 1904 Rats cost France an estimated amount 
of close on ,8,000,000 ; Denmark it has been stated, loses 
,600,000 a year, and Germany at least ,10.000,000. To 
such financial losses must be added the even more important 
influence of the Rat in disseminating disease among men, a 
subject to be referred to again (p. 507). 

Yet in all these countries which suffer so greatly through 
its ravages, the Rat is no more than a disreputable alien, 
a rascally stowaway from overseas. 

But the ravages of Rats are not confined to men's goods, 

1 So serious has the Rat plague become in Britain that the Government 
has been compelled to take action ; and while the Board of Agriculture and 
Fisheries successfully carried out in October 1919 one national rat-week for 
England and Wales and another in December, Parliament has endeavoured 
to enforce destruction by means of the Rats and Mice (Destruction) Bill, 
which came into force on ist January, 1920. 


although the presence of man, with his stores of food and 
litter of garbage, is the great determining factor in the dis- 
tribution of the common species. Wherever the carcase is, 
there will the Rats be gathered together, and so they occur 
in great hordes far from man's habitations, infesting the cliffs 
of Caithness and other parts, and, as Mr O. H. Wild tells me, 
many isolated and uninhabited islands off our coasts, as 
Craigleith off North Berwick, the Gaelic-named "Home 
of the Bird" off Isle of Muck, Puffin Island near Anglesey, 
and others; for Rats are excellent swimmers and have made 
their way to many a solitary isle. In these cases the Rats 
depend on the eggs, young and even adults of the birds 
which frequent the coast or islands, for they live in the bur- 
rows of the Puffins, enjoying rich fare during the breeding 
season and managing to scrape along during the winter on 
the molluscan and crustacean shell-fish and the refuse of the 
seashore, until spring brings again birds and plenty. 

Even during the temporary breeding season, however, 
the Rats must have an appreciable influence in restricting the 
bird-colonies, and it is possible that their introduction may 
have had more to do with banishing and exterminating 
ground-nesting birds from closed areas like islands than 
one generally attributes to it. Even the smaller ground 
mammals may suffer from the Rat's voracity, for it is one of 
the worst foes of the Rabbit, hunting down the young in their 
burrows with the savage pertinacity of a ferret. 

There is a type of ship-voyager, very different from the 
Rats, and perhaps of not much account in the make-up of a 
fauna, which clings to the exterior of a vessel and with it is 
taken from sea to sea. I think of those borers in the timbers 
of wooden ships the Teredo or so-called Ship- Worm a 
bivalve mollusc, and of the creatures which form a crust or 
a coat upon the external surface of hulls whether they be of 
wood, copper or iron stony Barnacles and stinging Hydro- 
zoa. It is almost impossible now to disentangle from the 
complicated net of Nature's facts the threads of influence 
upon the spread of these marine creatures created by the 
trafficking of ships ; but many of them have a suspiciously 
wide distribution the Common Acorn Barnacle of ships 
(Ba/anus tintinnabulum\ for example, has been found all 


the world over. Occasionally, however, a stray piece of 
evidence comes forward to show that ships do actually con- 
tribute to our fauna by such transportations. There is an 
American Oat-pipe Coralline, Tubularia crocea, which, widely 
distributed on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the 
New World, was unknown in British waters until, in 1897, 
it was discovered in Plymouth Sound attached to the stern 
of a large three-masted sailing-ship, the Ballachulish of 
Ardrossan. There could be no doubt as to the original 
provenance of these fine colonies of Hydroid Zoophytes, for 
the Ballachulish had made the voyage direct from Iquique, 
Peru. The significance of their presence lies in the fact that 
when they were examined in Plymouth by Mr E. T. Browne, 
the colonies were fully developed and ripe, and were setting 
free in the Sound great quantities of their tiny, jellyfish-like 
young, which, if conditions favoured, would give origin to 
an alien stock in the marine fauna of the English Channel. 
How many myriads of similar cases of involuntary trans- 
portation have gone unrecorded since man first went down 
to the sea in ships ? 

VIII. 3 

OF all the means which the lesser creatures have un- 
consciously employed in insinuating themselves into new 
countries none has found greater favour than concealment 
in food materials, and none has added greater numbers and 
variety of animal life to our fauna. Most of the creatures 
thus imported are small in size, and although practically all 
of them belong to the groups of Insects or of Mites, it is sur- 
prising under how many different guises they come. Many 
lurk amongst grain, a few in flour, some hide in tunnels of 
their own making in biscuits, others in holes drilled in peas, 
some are concealed amongst sugar, others amongst copra or 
the seeds of cotton. The secret of these preferences lies in 
the simple fact that some of our food materials happen to 
be theirs also, so that these lesser things, each engrossed 
in feeding on its own particular food, are carried wheresoever 
the food material goes. But the very fact that they come in 
secret and hiding, makes it almost impossible to trace their 
dispersal in countries where international commerce has long 
held sway. 

Foremost amongst these passive immigrants, by reason 
of their ancient naturalization, are the Common Cockroach 
and the House Cricket, two Orthopterous insects. 


The latter, Gryllus (Acketa) domesticus, is by repute 
an introduction to Britain, but so long is it since com- 
merce carried it over the world that even its original home 
cannot now be traced. Two deductions may, however, be 
made from its habits ; first, that it is no native of Britain, 
else why should it exist only in the warmest corners of houses ? 
In Scotland at the present day, it seldom occurs even in 
kitchens, but is often found about bake-houses in Edinburgh, 
Glasgow, Paisley, Dumfries and other towns. Occasionally 


it obtains a footing out of doors, as in a quarry at Slateford, 
where Mr W. Evans discovered a colony in 1907, but such 
colonies are always associated with material cast out of houses, 
and seldom survive for long. Secondly, the distinct preference 
shown by the House Cricket in Britain for artificial warmth 
hints that originally it belonged to a tropical climate. 

An early Scottish reference to this insect is Sibbald's re- 
cord (1684) of Grillus Focarius the Cricket on the Hearth. 
Of recent years it has been carried to America in shipping 
and has become firmly established, being especially common 
in Canada. 


The belief is almost universally held that the Common 
Cockroach (Blatta orientalis] (Fig. 69, 4, p. 437), came to 
Europe and to Britain in comparatively recent times from 
tropical Asia. At the present day in Scotland it is common 
where warmth and abundance of food offer it congenial con- 
ditions, in kitchens, bake-houses, and, as Mr William Evans 
has recorded, even in the warm underground workings of 
coal-pits, as at Bo'ness and Dalkeith. But this general dis- 
tribution is a recent development, for the Cockroach when 
first referred to as a British resident, in 1634 by Moufet, 
lived in wine-cellars and flour mills and was probably con- 
fined to London and perhaps a few other great ports. Fifty 
years later Sibbald recorded it, as ''Blatta, the Moth Fly, "from 
Scotland. Its mode of arrival is tolerably certain, for Moufet 
tells how, even in the sixteenth century, Sir Francis Drake, 
on capturing a ship, Philip, laden with spices, found a vast 
multitude of winged Cockroaches on board ; but whether 
this was the Common or American species cannot easily be 
decided. As befits an ocean voyager the Cockroach first 
populated the seaports. Thence its spread countrywards 
seems to have been a slow one, for it was not till about i 790 
that Gilbert White found it in his own house at Selborne, 
50 miles from London. In America the distribution of the 
" Black Beetle " is also clearly due to commerce, for it is 
abundant in all the eastern and Mississippi valley States and 
thins out westwards as it reaches the great plains. 

In more recent years other Cockroaches have made 



landings in Britain and have attempted to gain a foothold. 
The most common of these is the American Cockroach 
(Periplaneta americana] (Fig. 69, 2) about i \ inches long, a 
much larger species than the common "Black Beetle, " and light 
brown in colour. It is a native of tropical America, and ac- 
cording to Professor V. L. Kellogg occurs in such numbers on 
sailing ships entering San Francisco after their long half- 
year voyages round the Horn, that the sailors while sleeping 
wear gloves to prevent their finger-nails from being gnawed 
by the voracious hordes which tenant the whole ship. In 
some cases the opening of boxes and barrels of biscuits after 
a voyage has led only to the horrible discovery that the 
biscuits have been entirely replaced by crawling masses of 
Cockroaches. It is not surprising to find that this pest should 
have travelled with traffic from its native home in Central 
America and Mexico, far northwards in the l>nited States 
of America, and it is little wonder that the Ship Cockroach 
should appear frequently in our seaports, though it seldom 
succeeds here in establishing permanent colonies. It is 
common in the London Zoological Garden in Regent's 
Park, but in Scotland thrives only in greenhouses, as at the 
Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, the Glasgow Botanic 
Garden, Woodside Conservatory, Paisley, and elsewhere, 
although spasmodic occurrences have been reported from 
various parts of Edinburgh and Leith. 

The Australian Cockroach (Periplaneta australasiae] 
(Fig. 69, 5), a native of the Australian Pacific region, has also 
followed the trail of commerce throughout the world, though 
its tropical preferences have limited its power of colonizing 
temperate lands. It differs from its American relative in being 
deeper in colour, and in having a yellow stripe outlining the 
shield-shaped portions of the back, behind the head (pro- 
notum). Like the trans-Atlantic species it is found in Britain 
only in warm glass-houses, some of its more definite stations 
being in the Botanic Gardens of Kew and Cambridge, in 
Belfast, in the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, and in 
Paisley; but in the United States of America, it has taken 
a firm hold and is common in Florida and the other warm 
southern States. 

Much less in size, only half an inch long, but as a colonist 
in Britain ranking next to the Common Cockroach, is the 




pale yellowish brown German Cockroach (Phyllodromiager- 
manicd] (Fig. 69, i), easily recognized by a couple of dark 
bands along the shield-like plate which lies in front of the wings 
(the pronotum). Whence this species originally came is not 
known, but as its name implies, it has long been especially 
abundant in Germany, from which centre of dispersal it has 
endeavoured to dominate the world. Its secret diplomacy 
has met with no little success, for it has insinuated itself into 
almost every country in Europe, and in some localities, as 
in Vienna, it seems actually to be displacing the formidable 
"Black Beetle." In Britain it has formed well established 
colonies in many towns, in London hotels, in a baker's shop 
in Leeds, to which town it is said to have been brought by 
soldiers returning after the Crimean War. In Scotland it 
has been found in abundance in an hotel and a restaurant 
in Edinburgh, is said to occur in all quarters of Glasgow and 
has been recorded from Paisley. In many parts of the world 
the German Cockroach has obtained foothold, and its increase 
in various parts of Europe and America suggests that in 
Britain also it may yet prove more of a pest than it is to-day. 


Since secrecy is of the essence of pest distribution, many 
of the imported skulkers had become widely spread before 
their identity or even their existence was recognized, so 
that definite trace of their original place of habitation has 
been lost, and we can only urge their known habits and 
their wide distribution in plea of the thesis that they have 
been introduced and dispersed by commerce. The number 
of these introductions is so large and their own size and 
interest is as a rule so small, that it is impossible here to do 
more than indicate a few of special interest, either because 
of the importance of their human relationships, or because 
of the probability with which their history can be traced. 

Animals which feed upon wheat may be introduced 
in several ways and at several particular stages of their 
existence. Some insects slip into new countries as full- 
blown adults, some as active larvae, others as resting 
pupae ; some come, making no pretence of hiding, lying or 
wandering openly amongst the grains they feed upon, while 


others bore into and are concealed within individual grains 
of wheat. 

The Hessian Fly (Mayetiola (Cecidomyid) destructor], 
a notorious destroyer of growing wheat, is an excellent 
example of introduction through insignificant passivity. 
The damage is caused by the Fly in its grub stage, the 
maggots attacking the stems of growing corn at one of the 
lower joints. or knots. Now this being so, it seemed likely 
that the insect had been introduced in the maggot stage with 
straw, but careful and prolonged examination of imported 
straw revealed no trace of the foreign pest. The resting 
period of the fly, which succeeds the maggot stage, is passed 
in a dark brown oval pupa case, resembling, in both shape 

Fig. 70. Hessian Fly (Cecidomyia destructor] natural size and enlarged. The seed- 
like puparia, in which form the Fly was probably introduced to Britain, are shown as 
of natural size. 

and colour, a rather small flax-seed. There can be little 
doubt that to this resemblance we owe the Hessian Fly that 
it was first brought to Britain in cargoes of foul grain, where 
the pupa cases of the insect passed unnoticed amongst the 
real seeds of flax and of a dozen other weeds. 

Whence it reached Britain has never been satisfac- 
torily determined, but the fact that the insect parasites bred 
from the imported pupae were identical with those which 
had been found in native Russian pupae, suggested very 
strongly that the Hessian Fly came to Britain from Eastern 
Europe. But wherever its original home may have been it 
was not long in advertising its settlement in our Islands. 
First discovered in 1886, it spread in the following year 


over the whole country, from Kent to Cromarty, causing 
incalculable loss of wheat and barley by its devastations. 
Since then there has been no serious or general attack in 
this country, but the Hessian Fly is still with us, and may 
be ''biding its time." Commerce has carried the Hessian 
Fly to many lands. In the United States of America, 
where its name originated on the supposition, probably 
erroneous, that it was brought in straw from Europe by the 
Hessian troopers of the Revolutionary War, it has been the 
cause of greater destruction than even in Europe. Millions 
of bushels of the wheat crop of 1915 were ruined by it, and 
the annual damage to crops in the United States caused by 
this tiny insignificant insect has been estimated at about 

Probably much the same mode of transportation as gave 
the Hessian Fly to the world accounts for the wide distri- 
bution of its near relative, the Wheat Midge (Contarinia 
(Cecidomyia) tritici), the " Red Maggot " of which does a 
considerable amount of harm in this country as well as in 
Europe generally and in North America. With it, as a 
creature of uncertain provenance, may be placed the Corn 
Aphis (Macrosiphium granariuni] which has caused an ap- 
preciable amount of damage in southern Scotland, is common 
throughout Europe, was unrecorded from only ten of the 
United States of America in 1916, and has been found in 
East Africa clearly a camp-follower of commerce. 

A minute yellow ant (Solenopsis molesta], and the so- 
called White Ant of the United States, a Termite (Leuco- 
termes flavipes], have been transported with food materials 
from America to Europe, where both have done much 
damage. The former, occurring amongst stores, is said to 
have proved very troublesome to English housekeepers. In 
Scotland, another American species, the Small Red House 
Ant {Monomorium pharaonis], a common inhabitant of 
London eating-houses, has been found in great numbers in 
Edinburgh, as well as in Roxburghshire and Aberdeenshire. 
In one place in Edinburgh where fruits, cake and confec- 
tionery were stored, Dr R. S. MacDougall has recorded that 
it was found necessary to employ a man whose chief work 
was the destruction of these ants. 

Many beetles find their way to Scotland in cargoes of 



wheat, either in the adult or in larval stages. African Grain 
Beetles, Tribolium castaneum or ferrugineum and Tene- 
brioides mauritanicus, have been found in wheat imported 
from Egypt to Glasgow. Both species, as well as Tribolium 
confusum, are thoroughly naturalized under cover in Britain, 
and the first has already been carried to India and the 
United States as well as to Europe. The fact that all 
three have been found damaging army biscuits suggests 

Fig. 71. Granary Weevil (six times natural size) and destroyed wheat (nat. size). 

that the Great War may be an important factor in dis- 
tributing them throughout the world. The most destructive 
and widely spread of Grain Beetles, however, are probably 
the tiny brownish-black, long-snouted Corn or Granary 
Weevils, Calandra granaria, the adults of which gnaw the 
grains from the outside, while the grub spends its whole life 
within a grain, devouring the inside until only an empty 
shell remains. Whole cargoes of wheat and barley, worth 
many thousands of pounds, have been completely destroyed 


during a voyage by the ravages of Corn Weevils. Calandra 
probably belonged originally to a warmer country than ours, 
but now commerce has added it to the faunas of almost all 
parts of the world. In the British Isles it is frequently found 
amongst wheat or barley in mills, granaries or breweries, 
and its presence has been recorded and its ravages deplored 
in Canada and the United States, in Europe, Asia, Africa, 
and even in far Australia. 

S(T often it happens that the dispersal of a species has 
been completed by man before the stages of its progress 
could be observed, that particular interest attaches to a form 
which is just beginning to find a place in a new country, and 
which still is treading the progressive steps which lead to 
universal distribution. Of Beetle species which by long 
standing naturalization have become part and parcel of our 
fauna are such household tenants as the Store Beetles, 
Niptus hololeucus and N. crenatus, but their congener 
Ptinus tectus, regarded as hailing originally from Tasmania, 
is a recent arrival in this country. The earliest specimens 
were found in 1901, and since that time it has been dis- 
covered in bakers' shops, granaries, and store-rooms in 
several places, including, in Scotland, a meal-mill at Dun- 
fermline (1905) and a bake-house at Stromness in Orkney 
(1905). So far this invader has occurred predominantly at 
seaports or in the immediate neighbourhood of ports. 

Because of its recent discovery in Scotland the occurrence 
of a small pale greyish-brown moth much resembling a 
Clothes' Moth in appearance, may be noted. The Angou- 
mois Grain Moth (Sitotroga cerealella] infests Indian corn, 
wheat and barley, and in such cargoes has been carried 
over the whole world ; for it is regarded as a pest in Africa, 
from Algeria to Nyassaland, as much as in Europe, and in 
Australia as much as in Canada and the United States. 
Dr R. S. MacDougall states that it has been taken in Scotland 
as well as in England, and some idea of the abundance of 
such pests and of the destruction wrought by them may be 
gained from a description quoted by him of a whole cargo 
of Indian corn, recently condemned in an English port 

on account of its being infested with the parasites. The warehouse was 
a crawling mass of them. There were millions of small grey-white moths, 
and nearly every grain contained a weevil. 


Grain escapes the attacks of some of the pests only to 
be devoured in its more specialized forms as flour or biscuits. 
The American Meal Worm, the hard-skinned waxy-looking 
grub of a brownish, half-inch long Beetle, Tenebrio obscurus, 
is now almost as common in our flour and meal, in stables, 
stores and pantries, as its relative, the original European 
Meal Worm ( Tenebrio molitor] ; and both species have been 
dispersed throughout the world by the traffic in food stuffs. 
A similar fate has befallen the Meal Snout Moth (Pyralis 
farinalis], owing to the success with which its caterpillars 
conceal themselves in stored cereals, flour or biscuits. But 
the worst of the introduced flour pests is another Pyralid, the 
Mediterranean Flour Moth (Ephestia kiihniella], of pale 
leaden-grey colour with wing expanse less than an inch 
across, for this in the course of some fifty years has established 
posts throughout the world. First recorded in a flour-mill 
in Central Europe in 1877, it appeared in England ten years 
later, and since 1888 has sporadically caused damage there 
and in Scotland as far north as Aberdeen. Now, it is well 
known throughout Europe, and in the New World, where 
it appeared in 1889, it has spread from Canada to Chili. 
The damage caused by the lumping of flour on account of 
the silken galleries woven in it by the caterpillars is reckoned 
at many thousands of pounds a year. Destruction of a 
similar kind is caused by the European Grain or Wolf 
Moth (Tinea grane lla\ which has become established in the 
New World. 

The presence of so many well-fed inhabitants of grain 
and flour has led to the introduction of animal types different 
from themselves, which find in them an easy and abundant 
food supply. Thus the carnivorous Grain Mite, Pediculoides 
ventricosus, has been carried with the soft larvae it devours 
to many a new country, to the annoyance of mankind, for 
the mite readily transfers its attention to the human body 
and gives rise to an irritable skin eruption known as grain- 
itch. So troublesome is the red rash due to the mite attacks, 
that, when in 1913, several cargoes of grub-infested cotton- 
seed arrived in London from Alexandria in Egypt, it was 
found necessary to raise by 50 per cent, the wages of the 


labourers discharging the cargoes in order to keep them at 
work. In several widely scattered places in Europe, Africa 
and America the presence of.the Grain Mite has been betrayed 
by its evil deeds. 


How many voyagers on ships, rejecting " weevily " bis- 
cuits put before them, have realized that they were helping 

Fig. 72. Piece of Dog Biscuit perforated by Biscuit Beetles (Sitodrepa panicca). ' 
Lying on the surface are other insects found amongst biscuits. Natural size. 

to add new elements to old faunas ? It is matter of common 
knowledge that biscuits carried on board ship during a long 
voyage become riddle'd by the grubs and adults of Biscuit 
Beetles, especially Sitodrepa (Anobiuni) panicea, and this 
even although the greatest precautions are taken in packing 
and preserving the food. Many species of Beetles, and of 
Moths as well, have been distributed over the world through 
the unconscious wanderings of biscuits. Even before the 
Great War, the ration biscuits supplied to the widely scat- 
tered outposts of our Empire were frequently found unfit 


for food, notwithstanding that they were securely packed in 
tin boxes in the factories. A chance lot of unopened biscuit 
tins, drawn at random from stores at various foreign stations, 
revealed the fact that the biscuits harboured four different 
species of Moths 1 and eleven distinct species of Beetles 2 . The 
authors of this investigation, Messrs Durrant and Beveridge 
(1913), came to the conclusion that these pests had gained 
access to the biscuit box before it was sealed up in the factory. 
But the pests were not necessarily natives of the country 
where the biscuits were manufactured, for they may have 
come thither in flour from the ends of the earth. It is no 
simple chain of events which has distributed Biscuit Beetles 
and Moths throughout the civilized world. 


Other materials have brought their own pests. Raw 
sugar imported to this country swarms with minute mites 
(GlycyphagMs), which set up a slight irritation, known as 
"Grocers' Itch," on the skin of persons handling the sugar 
in quantity. Wherever tobacco or cigarettes may go, only 
too often the Cigarette Beetle (Lasioderma serricorne] 
accompanies them. 


Peas, Beans, and possibly Lentils also have been the 
means of contributing to the fauna of Scotland, for each of 
these harbours its own peculiar pest. While pea-pods are 
green in the fields, the Pea Beetle (Bruchus pisoruni], a small 
beetle one-fifth of an inch long, of rusty black colour broken 
by a white spot on the thorax, lays its eggs upon the pods. 
The grubs, so soon as they hatch, bore their way through 
the pod and into the peas, and there they feed, hidden from 
the eyes of the world. As the pea ripens the larva still 
continues to feed within, until only a shell, concealing a 
mature larva, remains. In this safe shelter, the Pea Beetle, 
a native of North America, has been transported to most 
civilized countries. It has been reported from several 

1 Ephestia kiihniella, E, cautella, E. elutella, and Corcyra cephalonica. 

" Silvanus surinamensis, Trogoderma sp., Sitodrepa panicea, Lasioderma 
serricorne, Rhizopertha dominica, Ptinus tectus, Tribolium castaneum, T. 
confusum, Tenebrioides mauritanicus, Calandra oryzae, and C. granaria. 



Scottish localities, and although its ravages are not so notice- 
able here as are those of its near relatives, the Bean 


Fig- 73- Beans and Peas damaged by larvae of Bean and Pea Beetles. Natural size. 

Beetles, infested peas may sometimes be seen in shops. The 
habits of the Bean Beetles and of the Lentil Beetle are 
essentially the same as those of the Pea Beetle, except that 

the adults select, and the grubs 
feed upon different legumes. 
Bean Beetles (Bruchus ritfima- 
nus, Fig. 74, and B. obtectus], 
originally members of the North 
and Central American faunas, are 
brought to Scotland every year 
with imported beans, and " wee- 
viled " beans exposed for sale 
may be found without difficulty, 
those of the Seville and Aqua- 
dulce varieties, Dr R. Stewart 
MacDougall states, being speci- 
ally liable to infestation. Of recent 
years, Lentil Beetles have also been found in the seaport 
towns of Britain Bruchus lentis, having been identified by 
Messrs J. Edwards and E. C. Champion from Egyptian 
seeds at Gravesend and Birchwood, and the Chinese 
Lentil Beetle (Bruchus chinensis] in imported lentils at 
Dartford and Darenth Wood in Kent, Putney in Surrey, 
and New Forest in Hampshire. 

Fig. 74. Bean Beetle. Seven 
times natural size. 

VIII. 4 

MANY and confused are the diverse types of creatures 
that have been imported unknowingly into Britain, yet the 
diversity ranges itself round definite main methods of dis- 
persal. Each carrying agent, it will be seen, bears its own 
characteristic types of animals, so that from the nature of an 
imported animal it is possible to say, with close approximation 
to accuracy, with such and such a kind of cargo this traversed 
the oceans to our shores. 

So we Jeave the Beetles and Micro-Lepidoptera of dry 
goods, for the varied assortment of aliens which have taken 
advantage of the transport of fresh fruit. The development 
of this trade is largely of recent date, and well illustrates 
the influence upon our animal life of commerce, which brings 
an influx of new animals with its every extension. 


Bananas in their great clusters have been fruitful carriers 
of strange animals. From widely scattered towns in Scotland, 
from Aberdeen in the north, from Cupar, Edinburgh, Leith, 
Musselburgh, and from Dumfries in the south, 1 have seen 
many unexpected arrivals, exotic Jacks-in-the-box that 
appeared when cases of foreign fruit were opened. Most 
interesting of these was a Green Tree- Frog, a species of 
Hyla, which from the tropics, as it were with one bound, 
landed full of activity in an Edinburgh fruit shop. More 
terrify ing are the appearances of that heavy and fierce-looking 
monster, a Bird-Eating Spider (Mygalid), which has ap- 
peared in Edinburgh, though it is fortunately a less frequent 
visitor than the delicate Snowy Tree Cockroach (Oecantkns 
(Pancklora) niveus) ('\g. 75, p. 448) of the East and middle 
West of America. The slender, half-inch long, ivory-white 
body, tinged with the palest green, and armed with long 


antennae and long legs, gives a tropical beauty to these 
Cockroaches, which are the most common of the banana's 
living freight. In addition to the above I have occasionally 
seen, forwarded to the Royal Scottish Museum, different 
species of Cockroach, a Locust, and on one occasion a 
Burnet Moth (Syntomidae or Zygsenidae) all of which were 
imported amongst bananas from Jamaica. Other records 
include such curious finds as Snakes, Lizards, and even a 
bird's nest with eggs intact, that has been said to have arrived 
safely in London hidden in a cranny of a banana cluster. In 

Fig. 75. Snowy Tree Cockroach frequently imported with bananas. Natural size. 

addition, the packings of banana consignments carry a lesser 
but more dangerous cargo : old banana leaves are frequently 
infested with injurious Scale- Insects (such as Hemichion- 
aspis minor and Chrysomphalus aonidum), and the H ilo Grass 
packing often brings with it pupae of the pestilent Medi- 
terranean Fruit Fly (Ceratitis capitatd]. 

The efficiency of the banana as an animal smuggler de- 
pends upon the generous concealment afforded by its rugged 
bunches of fruit. There is little room for concealment, one 
would imagine, on fruits which are picked singly and packed 
with moderate care, yet insects find a way. 



Take for example the apple as illustrating the different 
modes in which fruit may harbour and distribute pests. 

Fig. 76. Branch of Apple-tree covered with Apple Mussel Scale. 
Four times natural size. 

Minute creatures may attach their almost invisible selves to 
the exterior of the apple, and so escaping careless examina- 
tion may be carried to the ends of the earth. 



The Mussel or Apple Scale (Leptdosaphes ulmi or 
Mytilaspis pomoruni] (Fig. 76, p. 449), a tiny Hemipterous 
Insect or Plant-bug, is supposed to have belonged originally 
to the Old World, but wherever the apple has gone the 
Mussel Scale has kept it close company, travelling most 
frequently perhaps on the stems of transported apple-trees, 
but sometimes on the apples themselves. It is common in 
Britain, common indeed throughout Europe, northern and 
southern Africa have it, and it has reached far Japan ; in 
the New World, Canada and the United States have 
publicly declared it a pest, and strive to intercept new 
arrivals, and Chili is concerned about its ravages ; across 
the seas, Australia and New Zealand 'have been forced to 
make efforts to control it within their boundaries. 


It is the habit of another series of animals to conceal 
themselves, still more effectively, within the apples which 
are to scatter them abroad. Of such none offers a better 
illustration than the Mediterranean Fruit Fly (Ceratitis 
capitata), a notorious pest of many fruits. The female of the 
Fruit Fly, a small two-winged fly with spotted yellowish- 
brown body and yellow wings, pierces the apple skin and 
lays a few eggs in each puncture. In from two days to over 
a week, according to the warmth or coolness of the weather, 
the larvae hatch from the eggs and feed upon the pulp of the 
apple for from one to three weeks, when they are full-fed 
and emerge from the fruit, ready for pupation. In a like 
period, the adult fly emerges from the pupa case and in 
from five to ten days thereafter is ready to commence the 
egg-laying which is to found a new generation. Now it is 
evident that this life-history and the impartiality with which 
the Fly attacks many kinds of fruit, afford much opportunity 
for the unnoticed dispersal of the Fruit Fly ; for fruit in 
which the eggs have been placed in one continent may set 
free its cargoes of full-fed larvae in another. It is not 
surprising to find, therefore, that while the original home 
of the so-called Mediterranean Fruit Fly appears to be in 
the West Indies, the pest has established itself, thanks to 


the ramifications of commerce, in almost all tropical and 
temperate lands. Every year its larvae are imported into 
Britain in hundreds within Spanish oranges, to perish 
miserably in the marmalade pot uncomfortable thought! 
Yet even when the Fly emerges in Britain, it does not seem 
to establish itself, owing probably to our temperate clime or 
to our weather. But it is common in southern Europe, and in 
Africa, from Tunis to the Cape; it has obtained a foothold 
in Australia and New ^Zealand, has been intercepted in 
California, and has been declared a pest in British Columbia. 
There are indeed few worlds left for the Mediterranean 
Fruit Fly to conquer. 

Every fruit has its pest, and if the apple has carried 
the Mediterranean Fruit Fly whither it knew not, the Pear 
has performed the same service for another two-winged 
(Dipterous) Fly, the Pear Midge (Contarinia (Diplopsis] 
pyrivora). Since it was introduced to Britain, probably from 
Europe, many years ago, this insect has done much and 
ever increasing injury to the pear crop. It is distributed 
throughout Europe and has become a nuisance in the 
north-eastern parts of the United States. 


Other pests utilize the apple much in the same way as 
the Fruit Fly; take for example that notorious destroyer of 
orchards, the Codlin Moth (Cydia (Carpocarpsa] pomonella] 
(Figs. 77 and 78, p. 452). See with what fine adjustment 
the life-cycle of the Codlin Moth has been arranged for its 
own success and man's distraction! The adult moth, a tiny 
creature less than three-quarters of an inch across the ex- 
panded wings, has deep grey forewings, with heavy brown lines 
and golden tips, and darker shimmering golden hindwings. 
It lays its eggs in the "eye" of a young apple and the cater- 
pillar on hatching bores into the pulp, and spends the next 
three or four weeks of its life feeding comfortably and eating 
its way towards the centre of the apple, where it destroys 
seeds and core. It is now that the danger of transportation 
is to be feared, for the duration of the caterpillar stage 
within the apple is sufficiently long to afford plenty of 
opportunities for travel. In any case, if the apples be 
stored, the moth larvae are safely tucked away within them 



in sheltered cellars, and, unless they come to an untimely 
end in the meantime, eat their way out of the apple and form 
chrysalids in the spring. The Moths begin to emerge from 
the chrysalids about the end of May in time to attack the 
new apple crop. By right of birth the Codlin Moth probably 
belongs to Europe, but Europe has dispersed the pest with 

Fig* 77. Section of damaged apple containing larva of Codlin Moth. Natural size. 

lavish carelessness, and from countries to which she sent it 
generations ago, it returns in fresh imports, to heap coals of 
fire upon her distracted head. Wherever it goes its presence 
is marked by widespread destruction. In the United States 

Codlin Moth. Twice natural size. 

of America, this frail night-haunting species is estimated to 
do damage to the extent of ,2,000,000 a year; in the New 
World it ranges from Canada to the southern States of South 
America ; in the Old World, from Norway to South Africa, 
and from Great Britain to the far east ; while in the midst 
of great seas, Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand de- 
nounce its presence. 



And last of the types of smuggled goods transported by 
the apple, is one that, concealed in the secret of secrets, is 
almost certain to elude the watchfulness of man. For the 
larva of the Apple Seed Chalcid Fly (Syntomaspis druparuni) 
is hidden within an apple seed. This little four-winged 
Chalcid, somewhat wasp-like in shape, bright green in colour 
with coppery or bronzy metallic reflections and brownish 
yellow legs, is only about three-tenths of an inch long, yet 
it has contrived to give its offspring an excellent start on a 
traveller's career. In July, where they are plentiful, the adult 
Apple Seed Chalcids may be seen flitting with a rapid zigzag 
course in the orchards. Here and there a female stops upon 
an apple, at this time grown to half an inch or an inch in 
diameter, pierces the skin with a slender ovipositor as long 
as its own body, pushes this delicate weapon home until its 
tip has penetrated a seed, and finally deposits one or more 
eggs in the seed's soft interior. The eggs hatch and the 
larvae begin their existence with a battle for life or death, 
for the six or seven which sometimes hatch in one seed are 
reduced to one by the old expedient of cannibalism. The 
grub having consumed all the store of food contained in the 
seed becomes full fed and moribund, and in this condition 
spends one, two or three winters in the apple seed, till the 
warmth of May restarts life activity, pupation takes place 
and the adult emerges in late June or early July. 

The opportunities for unwitting transport furnished by 
this habit of life are obvious, and these have been taken full 
advantage of. The Apple Seed Chalcid is undoubtedly a 
European species. It was observed in Switzerland so early 
as 1803, in France about 1865, and in 1885 or 1886 the 
failure to germinate of forty pounds of apple seed which 
had been planted in Hungary, led to the discovery that the 
kernels had been devoured through its ravages. Its name 
occurs also on the list of British Chalcids. 

The Apple Seed Chalcid was not noticed in the United 
States till 1906, but there can be little doubt that it had long 
existed unobserved in that country, for after attention had 
been drawn to its presence, it was found to be widely spread 
throughout the eastern and northern states. At what period 


it was carried to the United States we can only guess, but the 
early colonists, who are known to have planted apple-seeds 
from the old country, may have carried it thither. It may 
have passed from the settlers, with apples, into the hands of 
trading Indians, and been scattered by them, as they threw 
away the seeds, along the western trails. The westward 
spread of the apple, due chiefly to the Indians, may have 
meant also the spread of the lurker in the apple seed. 

It is easy to realize how large and soft fruit may harbour 
pests, but less easy to see how evil can lurk in the heart of 
a tiny seed. Yet the seedsman's traffic, so it has been dis- 
covered, has been responsible for the transportation to this 
country of several injurious insects. 

Fig. 79. Douglas Fir Seed Chalcid (female). Enlarged eight times. 

Take the interesting case of the Douglas Fir. The 
Columbia Red Wood or Douglas Fir is a native of western 
North America. For ninety years it has been grown in this 
country, first from seed brought across the Atlantic, and 
thereafter from seed ripened in Scottish woods. On a single 
estate, that of Durris in Kincardineshire, 300 bushels of good 
seed used to be gathered in a season, but in 1 905 the forester, 
Mr Crozier, had to report that the seed was "not worth the 
trouble of gathering." And why ? Because, as Dr R. Stewart 
MacDougall discovered, the kernels of the seeds harboured 
and had been devoured by myriads of grubs of a Chalcid Fly 


(Megastigmus spermotrophus] (Fig. 79). In the spring time, 
from May onwards in Scotland, the tiny female insects, three- 
twentieths of an inch long, wasp-like in shape, brownish- 
yellow in colour, with clear wings, hover about the tops of 
the Douglas Firs, and have actually been seen inserting a 
long ovipositor between the scales of the fir cone and de- 
positing an egg within the seed concealed there. There the 
frubs hatch and feed, invisible and safe, for no trace of a 
ole betrays their presence. Resting in their seed over 
winter, carried whither the winds or man determine, they 

Fig. 80. Douglas Fir Seeds from Peeblesshire showing, in the proportion in which 
they occur, seeds with escape holes of the Douglas Fir Seed Chalcid, an individual of which 
is issuing from a central seed. Enlarged slightly more than twice natural size. 

finally emerge as adults, thousands of miles perhaps from 
the place where they fell asleep. This parasite has been 
found in Douglas Fir seeds imported from Colorado, and the 
obvious supposition is that it was originally brought in such 
seed to this country. Here it has taken increasing hold, for 
Mr Crozier records that though it was present on his trans- 
ference to Durris in 1896, the damage it then caused was 
comparatively trifling. Nine years, however, sufficed to give 
its ravages "a serious aspect," a very large proportion of the 
seeds being destroyed. Since then it has spread widely in 


Scotland, from Kincardineshire to Peeblesshire, for in a 
sample of Douglas Fir Seed of the 1915 crop which I have 
examined from the latter county, 5 1 per cent, of the seeds 
contained a tiny circular opening through which the adult 
Chalcids had escaped (Fig. 80, p. 455). 

Several related Chalcid Flies have been brought to Scot- 
land, concealed in the heart of foreign seeds. I have seen 
specimens bred from seeds of the American Spruce (Abies 
grandis) grown in Dumfriesshire, and from seeds of the Japan- 
ese Larch (Larix Leptolepis) imported from Japan. 

Even the fragrant rose has a pestilence gnawing at its 
heart, and within its seed the Rose Seed Chalcid (Megastignms 
aculeatus\ whose grubs are found in both wild and cultivated 
varieties, has been scattered throughout Europe and North 

VIII. 5 


IN recent times a great increase in the introduction of 
the pests of green plants has taken place. Even in the old 
days of sailing ships fresh or living vegetation could be trans- 
ported from the Continent, and to this traffic we may possibly 
owe those pests of cultivation, the Common and Small 
White Butterflies, for who knows what past centuries 
may not have brought ? But distance and time placed an 
embargo on the carriage of fresh plants from much further 
afield. The development of rapid transport has, however, 
broken the spell which protected us from many an undesir- 
able alien, and America and Britain now exchange their 
pests of vegetation with disconcerting readiness. 

Vegetables, stocks for orchards, and flowering plants for 
garden or greenhouse, have all encouraged this undesirable 
testimony to the extent of our commerce. 


The transport of vegetables from Europe to Britain, 
especially for planting, may have in past times added new 
forms to our fauna just as it certainly now adds new numbers 
to old established species. It is no uncommon thing to find 
live Locusts in the sale-rooms of Covent Garden, escapes 
from consignments of cauliflowers brought from Naples a 
hint of the carrying powers of green food. 

The general resemblance which the fauna of Britain 
bears to that of Europe makes it difficult definitely to say 
that such and such an obscure European creature was un- 
known here until commerce introduced it. But no such 
disability applies to comparison of the inhabitants of the old 
and the new countries. So seldom are the native species of 
the New World, or of our colonies elsewhere, identical with 
those of Britain, that the naturalization credentials of a species 


common to both must be examined with suspicion. Speak- 
ing generally, the further distant two countries are from one 
another the easier is it to trace their commerce in living 

Consider the influence of the introduction of cabbages 
or similar cruciferous plants upon the distribution of very 
different kinds of insects. A common British Butterfly 
only too familiar the Small White (Pieris rapae], a species 
widely distributed in Europe from the Mediterranean Sea 
to Scandinavia, was carried to Quebec by accident about 
1860. Since then it has spread throughout the whole of 
Canada and the United States by an invasion, the progress 
of which, according to Professor Riley, can be traced step 
by step westwards, from the landing-place on the Atlantic 
coast. By a further lift it has also become established 
in the distant isles of Hawaii. It has long been the most 
serious of Butterfly pests in North America, and there its 
chance introduction has led to another addition to the fauna 
the deliberate introduction of the tiny Hymenopterous 
Braconid (Apanteles glomeratus\ whose grubs feed within 
and upon the caterpillars of the Cabbage Whites, and with- 
out whose active assistance cabbage beds in Britain would 
be wholly given over to ravenous caterpillars. 

A very different insect, the Cabbage Fly (Chortophila 
(Phorbid] brassicae) is an equally notorious pest. The mag- 
gots of this small light-grey two-winged (Dipterous) fly, 
related to and somewhat resembling a House-fly, but on a 
much smaller scale, bore into the roots of cabbages, cauli- 
flowers and other crucifers, destroying the plants, even to 
the extent of tens of thousands of acres in a year. This pest 
of European origin occurs in northern Africa and has been 
carried with cruciferous plants to North America. Here it 
has gradually subdued Canada and the United States, having 
reached the limit of the continent in 1914, when it did serious 
damage amongst cabbages, cauliflowers, turnips and radishes 
in Alaska. 

Another example will suffice, for our purpose, to com- 
plete the tale of the cabbage and its introductions. In 
summer and autumn, the outer leaves of cabbages may often 
be seen wrinkled and covered with myriads of Greenflies 
the Cabbage Aphis (Aphis brassicae\ whose attacks finally 


stunt and deform the whole plant. The order of its going 
I know not, but this Aphis has travelled to the ends of 
the earth, probably from Europe where it is widespread and 
abundant. Southwards it has made a home in Africa, furthest 
east it is known in Japan, furthest west in Canada and the 
United States, and it has reached the isles of Hawaii in the 
midst of the Pacific Ocean. 

Butterflies, Two-winged Flies, and Plant-bugs the 
cabbage and its kind disperse them with equal impartiality, 
but occasionally an unlooked-for alien is smuggled in under 
the mantle of the cabbage leaves. In this way a couple of 
young Land Snails {Achatinafulica) were brought to Ceylon, 
and were thrown unwittingly into a garden. These refugees 
grew in size and multiplied, their descendants spread from 
their garden into other gardens and over a district, peopling 
in 1910 an area of three or four square miles with incredible 
numbers. In spite of the fact that a fully developed Achatina 
fulica has a shell 4^ inches long, shaped like a " Buckle " or 
Dog-Whelk, 375 of these pests were counted in a garden 
in a space of four yards square, 227 were found in a single 
cluster on a coconut tree, and millions in all could be seen 
crawling upon the ground, or climbing walls, poles or the 
trunks of trees. They did little serious damage, but serve 
to prove the influence of the cabbage as a smuggler. 

Many an old-established vegetable is accompanied in its 
travels by its own peculiar camp-followers. Asparagus has 
carried the European Asparagus Beetle (Crioceris asparagi], 
a red, yellow and black pest which devours the crowns of 
young plants, to Canada and the United States, as well as 
to the Argentine, in all of which countries it has become an 
established nuisance. And so with many other vegetables 
and their pests ; but enough has been said to show the effects 
of a mode of transference, the operations of which in Scotland 
have been obscured by the passing of time. 


Stocks and trees, like vegetables, have their own peculiar 
population : it is remarkable how large a proportion of the 
creatures introduced to new countries through the agency 
of living trees, belongs to groups of Plant-bugs the 


Greenflies and the Scale Insects. I have already mentioned 
the Mussel Scale as having benefited by the traffic in apples, 
but in-all likelihood the trees are more to blame for its spread 
than the fruit. An equally clear case is that of the Mulberry 
Scale, called because of its shape, Aulacaspis pentagona, a 
pest upon great variety of trees and shrubs. The female 
Scales are unable to fly, and the larvae can move only a short 
distance, so that what progress the species has made in its 
distribution is due to the interference of man. Supposed 
originally to have belonged to Japan, it is now found in 
all tropical or warm temperate lands : throughout southern 
Europe, in Africa, in Canada and the United States, in 
Brazil and the Argentine, in Australia and in the lesser 
islands West Indies, Seychelles, Zanzibar. There is no 
doubt as to the means of its dispersal : it has actually been 
intercepted over and over again in the act of being smuggled 
into the United States and the isles of Hawaii upon the 
stems of trees and shrubs. In 1898 it was introduced to 
Britain on a consignment of several hundred Flowering 
Cherry trees from Japan, and these were distributed through- 
out the country before the presence of the pest was discovered. 
Change of climate seems to have no ill effect upon the inter- 

The progress of the naturalization of such alien immi- 
grants can often be traced. The Camellia or Cottony Scale 
{Pulvinaria floe cif era), a traveller of cosmopolitan experience, 
found in British glasshouses, cool or warm, has only recently 
been imported to California, although it is common in the 
eastern and southern regions of Canada and the United 
States, and in the western State it has so far obtained foot- 
hold only in a single locality near San Jose. 

Scale Insects undoubtedly owe their wide distribution to 
the smallness and insignificance which enables them to elude 
observation. Where no system of expert examination of 
imported plants is in force, the introduction and establish- 
ment of injurious Scales may, under the conditions of modern 
commerce, be absolutely relied upon. Britain, with her lofty 
disregard of the benefits of a humble science, reverses the 
old saw, and prefers the cure to prevention. As a result, 
there has been added to her fauna during the present gene- 
ration, and this is only one of the items, a long series of 


foreign scale insects 1 all of them injurious to vegetation and 
some of them, such as the Mulberry Scale (Aulacaspis pen- 
tagona) and the Lantana Bug (Orthezia insignis] which 
is steadily extending into fresh districts, containing great 
possibilities of damage and destruction. 

It must not be supposed, however, that trees confine their 
imports to Scale Insects. The name of one of the most 
widespread and persistent pests of our orchards the Ameri- 
can Blights-indicates its origin, though it is hard to believe 
that in a century and a half an alien could have so thoroughly 
become part and parcel of our fauna. The American Blight 
or Woolly Apple Aphis (Eriosoma lanigera] a species of 
plant-bug or greenfly, was unknown in England till 1787 
when it was traced by Banks to a nursery in Sloane Street, 
London. Several facts, apart from the tradition of its origin, 
suggest that America is the true home of the Woolly Aphis; 
but, much against his will, man has established it in practi- 
cally all the apple-growing countries of the world. 

America has also been generous in her dispersal of a 
closely related plant-bug the Grape Phylloxera (Phyl- 
loxera vastatrix). Introduced into France before 1863, 
upon rooted vines from America, the Grape Phylloxera 
gained so secure a footing that by 1884 it had destroyed 
about two and a half million acres, more than a third of all 
the vineyards of France, and to-day there is scarcely a vine- 
growing country of any importance where the Grape Bug 
has not appeared, to the dread and loss of vine-growers. It 
is a curious comment on the thoroughness of the distribution 
of animals through, commerce, that this American Vine Bug, 
which under natural conditions never reached California from 

1 Prof. R. Newstead in 1901 gave the following list of Scale Insects 
imported on living plants into Britain during the twelve years which closed 
the past century. (For the sake of uniformity I have substituted the modern 
synonyms and have added the popular names.) Aspidiotus alienus, discovered 
in 1889; the Mulberry Scale, Aulacaspis pentagona, imported in 1898; the 
Orange Mussel Scale, Lepidosaphes beckii, common on oranges and lemons and 
found also on imported plants; the Coffee Scale, Ischnaspis longirostris, now 
a frequent greenhouse pest ; Gymnaspis cechmece, well established and in- 
creasing; Fiorinia fiorinice and-/'! kewensis, on palms; the Screwpine Scale, 
Pinnaspis pandani, a very destructive palm pest; the Lantana Bug, Orthezia 
insignis, steadily extending its area; and the Egyptian Cushion Scale, Icerya 
aegyptiacum, which was discovered and destroyed with its host plants on 


its home in the eastern States, should have been introduced 
there by way of Europe. To California it was brought from 
France on vine-cuttings imported before 1874; and since 
then it has spread over the whole State, having destroyed 
in its progress some 30,000 acres of vineyards. 

Moths also have been introduced to new countries upon 
trees. The Gypsy Moth (Porthetria dispar), a common 
European plague upon shade and fruit trees, was ac- 
cidentally carried to Massachusetts from Europe in 1869, 
and is now so widely established and so destructive through- 
out eastern New England, that the State of Massachussetts 
has expended over a million dollars in unsuccessful efforts 
to exterminate it, and the United States Department of 
Agriculture has instituted a special investigation aiming at 
the discovery of the best means of control. 

In addition to the pests causing surface sores, trees 
have been known to carry to new countries the canker at 
their heart. In feeding, the caterpillars of the Leopard 
Moth (Zeugera pyrina), a British and European species, 
tunnel in the live wood of many fruit and ornamental trees. 
Probably in such a secret place were hidden the specimens 
carried unawares to the United States a short time ago, 
the founders of a colony which now extends throughout the 
Hudson Valley and along the Atlantic Coast from Massachu- 
setts to New Jersey. 


A strange variety of creatures accompanies the intro- 
duced plants of the flower garden. Although they include 
no pests so serious as some of those which have accompanied 
the produce of the vegetable garden and of the orchard, 
they afford in one respect a feature of interest absent from 
the others. Many of our flowering plants imported from 
tropical regions bring with them the lesser inhabitants of 
warmer climes. Under ordinary conditions the aliens, un- 
accustomed to cold and bitter weather, would soon disappear 
from our fauna, but the shelter and artificial heat of glass- 
houses supply them with a climate like their own. So there 
have arisen in these havens of refuge well established and 
thriving colonies of insects and other creatures, accidentally 


introduced, which reproduce on a small and limited scale 
the minute life of warmer lands. 

In these exotic colonies surprising variety 'of life is 
represented. Of Spiders, Tkeridion tepidariorum is now 
very common injnost large greenhouses, where it is to be 
found in all stages of development at all times of the year, 
and Hasarius adansonii has occasionally occurred in the 
warmer glasshouses. Insects of many orders are numerous: 
Ants from the tropics, such as Tetramorium guineense, and 
Technomyrmexalbipes, an inhabitant of India and the islands 
of the Pacific, have been found in the Royal Botanic Garden 
in Edinburgh. A common Indian Ant, Triglyphothrix 
striatidens, which has been imported to the United States 
on tropical plants, has recently been reported to be spreading 
there. Beetles have come to us in orchid bulbs wherein 
the grubs tunnel and feed : Dr R. S. MacDougall has 
found a species of Xyleborus attacking Dendrobium in an 
orchid house at Pitlochry, Perthshire ; he has also obtained 
a Beetle, native of the Straits Settlements, Baridium ater- 
rimus, in orchid bulbs from Penang, and has collected 
several specimens of a Burmese Longicorn Beetle Diaxenes 
dendrobii, from orchids growing in Midlothian. This Indian 
immigrant has of late been found in a number of orchid 
houses in England and Scotland. 

A tiny species of Thrips, Euthrips orchidaceus, has 
recently been found on hothouse orchids in the Royal 
Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, and in the Glasgow Botanic 
Garden ; and it is more than likely that the Springtail, 
Smintliurus igniceps, which is confined to greenhouses, 
ranging from Edinburgh and Glasgow, to Germany, Norway, 
and Sweden, is a foreigner by ancestry. 

In another connection, I have mentioned that Cock- 
roaches from America (Periplaneta americand] and from 
Australasia (P. australasiae) flourish in many Scottish 
greenhouses ; and isolated examples of other foreign Cock- 
roaches are occasionally captured, such as the specimens of 
"probably Lucophaea surinamensis and Blabera gigantea" 
which, Prof. ]. }. F. X. King reports, paid an unexpected 
visit to the Broomielaw in Glasgow a few years ago. Even 
more recently two species of Japanese Grasshoppers, Die 
strammena marmorata and J^ackycines asynamorus, the 


former of which has been captured in British hothouses, 
have become naturalized in the greenhouses of Central 
Europe and have multiplied so greatly as to become pests. 

Several other classes of animals have their foreign 
representatives in our hothouses. An exotic Myriopod, 
Paradesmus gracitis, is well established in several such 
retreats about Edinburgh, individuals of all ages having 
been noticed by Mr W. Evans. Even Worms have thus 
been added to our fauna : a wiry, agile, Indian species of 
Earthworm, Perichaeta indica, which like its congeners 
possesses unusual activity and power of springing when 
touched, occasionally accompanies plants, and has become 
naturalized in the congenial climate of hothouses in Kirk- 
cudbrightshire and Edinburgh. Perichaeta is familiar to 
gardeners in this country, and though its home is in the East, 
the genus is now widely distributed in Europe and America 
evidence of the ease with which its members, hidden in soil 
about plant roots, can be transported by man. 

It would, however, be matter for surprise that "Leaf- 
worms " or Land Planarians, which, like Placocephalus (Bi- 
palium) kewensis, may measure 6 to 9 inches in length, and 
sometimes attain 18 inches at full stretch, should have 
been introduced unobserved, were it not that they too, like 
Earthworms, burrow in the soil under conditions of drought. 
Clearly the species just mentioned is no rare wanderer from 
its home in the tropics, for it has been observed in several 
Scottish greenhouses, and has been imported with tropical 
vegetation and soil to England, Germany, South Africa, 
and Australia. The transference to foreign and unaccustomed 
climes has had one curious effect upon the habits of this 
flattened delicate " Leaf-worm," for it no longer multiplies 
after the routine manner of its kind through the stages of 
egg and young, but simply splits into several portions each 
of which grows into an adult, with a full complement of 
senses and organs. Plant-browsing animals, such as Snails, 
are very liable to transportation, and several, such as the 
West Indian Bulimus octonus, and B. goodalli, have fre- 
quently been found in British greenhouses, while many 
years ago Cfaisilia papillaris was detected by Joshua Alder 
amongst exotic plants at Granton, near Edinburgh. 

I have already said in effect that the more strange in 


appearance an animal is compared with the ordinary natives 
of a country, the more likely is its appearance in a native 
fauna to be detected. Hence it comes about that the majority 
of the stowaways recognized as imported with garden plants, 
hail from distant and usually tropical lands, although the 
factor must not be ignored that on account of their very 
strangeness exotic plants are specially sought after by 
collectors, and are imported, with their animal associates, 
in large quantities. This tropical aspect adds a special 
interest to the transportees of flowering plants, but the 
peculiar adaptations imposed by the natural habitat of such 
a fauna have prevented it from obtaining any secure hold 
at large in Britain. Where they have escaped from the 
genial warmth and moisture of the greenhouse, the exotic 
aliens have as a rule, made only a spasmodic appearance in 
our fauna. Even Mediterranean species, such as the White- 
keeled Snail {Helix limbatd) and JBulimus decolletus, the 
former of which was common in hedges around London in 
1837, while the latter bred in great numbers in Devon for 
many successive years about 1826, have generally a short 
life and not always a merry one. Odd specimens of many 
other Molluscs, introduced with plants, have appeared in 
Britain only to disappear again. 

Nevertheless, native faunas have been occasionally en- 
riched by plant transportees. There is strong presumption 
that a number of our familiar types of Earthworms (Liimbri- 
cidae), which are common to this country and to North 
America, accompanied the early settlers and their chosen 
plants from the Old \Vorld to the New. Or take that plague 
of bulbs, the Narcissus Fly (Merodon equestris] whose grubs 
feed upon the juicy scales of the bulbs, not only of Narcissus, 
but of half a dozen genera besides. A native of southern 
Europe, the Narcissus Fly has spread to northern Europe, 
causing serious damage every year amongst the bulbs of 
Dutch growers, and it was first noticed in Britain in 1869. 
The later wanderings of infested bulbs have established the 
pest in Canada, in the United States of America and in New 
Zealand. It is probable also that the curious "Snail-slug," 
Testacella maugei, which carries its shell on its tail instead of 
on its back, was introduced with the soil in which it lived. 
Its native abodes are in south-western Europe, Madeira, 

R. 3 


the Canary Isles and such southern lands ; but it was first 
noticed in England in a nursery near Bristol between 1812 
and 1816, and in 1822 was described as breeding freely in 
the open. Now it has obtained permanent footing in many 
of the south-western counties of England and has been 
found as far north as Cheshire. 

From Aberdeen comes a strange instance of a halfway 
stage to naturalization. Three or four ponds at the Banner 
Mill in Aberdeen were inhabited for many years by a 
warm-country Freshwater Snail, Physa acuta, which is 
common in pools in the West Indies and in southern France. 
With it lived Goldfish and water-plants, as well as the 
Common Pond Snail, Limncza peregra. There can be 
little doubt that the foreigner, introduced with either the 
Goldfish or the plants, was saved from extinction by the fact 
that the ponds were filled by a flow of warm water dis- 
charged from the mill. In these congenial habitations, the 
visitors flourished and multiplied. If the Common Pond 
Snail, accustomed to the icy pools of Aberdeenshire, could 
bear with equanimity the artificial warmth of the Banner 
Mill overflow, is it not possible that there might also be a 
halfway stage by which the warm-temperate species might 
step down from its own to our colder climate? Physa acuta 
has been accidentally introduced and has been found to 
thrive in the lily tanks of Kew, and in tanks and vessels con- 
taining plants in the Royal Botanic Society's Garden in 
Regent's Park, London. 

VIII. 6 

TIMBER has been a staple import to Scotland for many 
centuries, since long before those days in the reign of 
James VI when the prohibition of Danish timber threatened 
to stop house-building throughout the country. It is little 
wonder then that animals brought from Europe in the early 
days of the trade, finding the new climate congenial, should, 
having become established, so spread that they are now 
indistinguishably part and parcel of our fauna. 


So, I imagine, it has been with the Wood- Wasps, the 
Greater, Sirex gigcts, and the Steel- Blue, Sirex noctilio. 
They are common on the Continent, and are ever and again 
turning up in imported wood, for within tree trunks the female 
lays her eggs, using in the process a long stout sting-like 
ovipositor, which has earned the group the American name 
of "horn-tails," and is the cause of much needless alarm 
among the unsophisticated discoverers of these fine insects. 
Within the tree the larvae grow and feed for two years, 
before emerging as adults in the warm days of summer. 
In many fir woods throughout Scotland, the Greater Wood- 
Wasp seems to have become permanently established, and 
the tunnelling larvae do serious damage to the trees, 
especially of Scots Pine and Silver Fir. The Steel-Blue 
Wood-Wasp is less common, though it also is held to be 
destructive amongst conifers, in particular Spruce and Larch. 
So much at home do the two British species of Wood-Wasps 
appear to be that some naturalists have regarded them as 
aboriginal natives of this country. It is next to impossible 
at this date to prove the former absence of insignificant 
creatures, where they have been introduced by chance and 
are long established, but it is tolerably certain that the 


4 68 


majority of the Wood-Wasps still captured in Scotland are 
recent imports in timber. Two examples will enforce the 
statement. Owing to the long period of two years which 
the larva spends burrowing in solid wood, it frequently 
happens that, before the adult insect has emerged, the trees 

Fig. 8 1 . Steel- Blue Wood- Wasp (Sirex 
noctilio) (male). Natural size. 

Fig. 82. Steel-Blue Wood-Wasp (female). 
Natural size. 

Fig. 83. Steel-Blue Wood- Wasp eating its way out of a pine stem after 
emerging from pupa. Natural size. 

have been rut and the timber put to some use. Thus the 
appearance of adult Wood-Wasps from finished furniture is 
no rare occurrence. Dr D. Sharp has recorded that 

large numbers of a species of Sirex emerged in a house in this country 
some years after it was built, to the great terror of the inhabitants. The 
wood in this case was supposed to have been brought from Canada. 


And Mr. A. T. Gillanders relates " that one of the best 
consignments of those insects I ever had sent me was 
captured by a miner, issuing from props within the coal-pit." 
Most pit-props are imported from Norway. 


No set of imported animals is more characteristic than 
the timber transportees. They are almost without exception 
creatures whose larvae bore in the solid wood of trees, and 
on this account their kind is mainly limited to Sawflies, 
such as the Wood- Wasps, and to Beetles, particularly of the 
boring Longicorn group. In addition, parasites may be 
carried in the Wood- Wasp or Beetle larvae, and thus foreign 
Ichneumon flies may emerge on our side of the ocean. 


There are at least two striking exceptions to the rule 
that timber carries only boring creatures. I have seen two 
specimens of theblack and blue, yellow-banded shining lizards 
known as Blue-tailed Skinks (Eumeces quinquelineatus}, 
which a few years ago accompanied a cargo of timber to a 
Musselburgh timber-yard. The timber had been imported 
from North America, where, in the United States, the Blue 
tailed Skink has a wide range. It has a habit of concealing 
itself under the loose bark of trees, and this no doubt led to 
its long and involuntary journey. 

It is unlikely that the Blue-tailed Skink would have 
established itself in this country, for even in North America 
its range is limited ; but another rather unexpected intro- 
duction with timber has met with greater success. 

In 1824, the Linnean Society received the first recorded 
British specimens. of the Zebra Mussel (Dreissensia poly- 
morpha), these having been found in abundance attached to 
shells and timber in the Commercial Docks on the Thames. 
The Zebra Mussel lives in fresh water, in the Danube and 
the rivers of Russia, and in northern France, Belgium and 
Germany. It is supposed to have been originally carried to 
Britain with cargoes of wood from the Volga, and it has 
actually been seen attached to Baltic timber ere yet the 
timber was removed from the ship's hold. The success of 


the Zebra Mussel as a colonist has been remarkable. It 
has spread from one locality to another until it has stations 
in some twenty English counties. In Scotland it is common 
in the Paisley Canal and in the Forth and Clyde Canal, 
where it used to be found "in vast abundance." Even in 
the most out-of-the-way places it has succeeded in obtaining 
a hold and in making headway ; it is a common member 
of the fauna of water-pipes, and in 1912 a stoppage of the 
water supply at Hampton-on-Thames led to the discovery 
that the diameter of the 36-inch main for unfiltered water 
had been reduced to 9 inches by masses of Zebra Mussels 
which were growing attached to the inside of the pipe. 
Ninety tons of the shells are said to have been removed 
before the main was again put in working order (see Fig. 68, 

P- 415). 

Other Molluscs have been carried with timber, such as 
the West Indian Bulimus undatus, which arrived in Liver- 
pool attached to tropical timber and alive, and is said to 
have formed a colony near that city. But success seldom 
greets such casual voyagers. 

The characteristic travellers with timber are the boring 
insects, especially the tunnelling Beetles, whose larvae are 
long-lived and lie unobserved and secure in their burrows 
until the time of their transformation and emergence. 


Of invading Beetles the most interesting in appearance 
are the striking "long-horned" Beetles (Longicornia), easily 
recognized by the extraordinary length of their antennae, 
which may twice or three times exceed that of the body. 
Often their wing-cases display rich patterns and colours, and 
this and their size make them conspicuous visitors. Not 
many native beetles can rival in appearance the oak-boring 
Timber Beetles or Capricorns, Cerambyx heros and Cerambyx 
cerdo, with their rich brown wing-cases and their fine 
antennae, in the male almost twice as long as the inch-and- 
a-half long body. Their distribution in England betrays 
their origin. By far the greatest number of specimens has 
been found in the neighbourhood of dockyards, whither 


clearly they had come as larvae, hidden within beams of 

These fine species have not yet been found in Scotland, 
but in North Britain almost equally handsome relatives 
have ^occasionally been captured : Monochammus dentator 
a North American species, has been found alive in Glasgow, 

Fig. 84. Timberman Beetles (upper, female; lower, male) imported to 
Aberdeenshire in Norwegian pine logs. Natural size. 

and Monochammus sutor in Colinton Dell and Berwick ; 
the North American Goes tigrina has also been found in 
wood landed in Scotland. A specimen, probably imported, of 
the large ashy-grey Saperda carcharias, a species native to 
England, was caught in the woods of Strathspey at Cromdale 
in 1891 ; another English species Callidium variabile has 
been introduced with timber to the Forth area ; the lesser 


Agelastica alni has been found in Edinburgh, Pogono- 
chaerus fasciculatus at Bo'ness Docks, and the North 
American Arhopalus speciosus in the Glasgow district. 

None of these Long-horned Beetles has made more than 
a fleeting visit to our shores, but one interesting form the 
Timberman, Acanthocinus aedilis^ig. 84, p. 47 1) has made 
persistent efforts at establishment: No imported Longicorn 
appears so often as the greyish brown, three quarter inch long 
Timberman, with extraordinary antennae, which in the male 
are four times as long as the body. In many parts of the 
country and in all sorts of curious situations, the Timberman 
turns up ; at one time in a railway carriage near Greenock, 
at another in a coalpit at Coatbridge, more often near timber 
yards, as at Bo'ness, Granton, Kilbarchan in the Clyde area, 
at Berwick and Tweedmouth just beyond the southern 
border. In the last locality a workman had "frequently seen 
others [of the Timberman] sticking out of holes in Baltic pine- 
logs." And the importation of Baltic pine containing the 
living larvae accounts for most of the specimens captured in 
Scotland. When a boy, I found a living female Timberman 
resting upon the doorstep of my home in Aberdeenshire, 
and on the same day a male was captured not far off. Both, 
presumably, had come from a stacked cargo of Norwegian 
pine logs brought to the Inverurie Paper Mills for paper 
making. The Timberman has been found in most of the 
Scottish faunal areas from Tweed to Moray, and it is 
possible that in a few places it may have become established. 


Beetles, other than Longicorns, occasionally find their 
way to Scotland from foreign parts, but they too are of the 
boring kind. Thus the South European Bupestris hae- 
morrhoidalis has been captured in a house in Ayr, and 
in the Royal Scottish Museum in 1915 Lyctus brunneus 
made its appearance in several cases, the larvae having been 
contained in wood used by a London taxidermist in mount- 
ing some foreign mammals. The destructive Banded Pine 
Weevil, Pissodes notatus, and its relative the Pine- bole 
Weevil, Pissodes piniphilus, are frequently brought with 
European fir trees to Scotland, and, even if they may not 


have come thus as new members of the fauna, they at 
least add their numbers to the somewhat scanty native 
stock, to the great damage of young pines throughout the 

Fig. 85. Some Chance Introductions to Great Britain ; shown diagrammatically, 
associated with the country of their origin. 


The increase and extension of commerce is an end to- 
wards which all civilized nations have worked, yet a reading 
of the summaries given in this chapter will show that 
the gain in these respects has been no unmixed blessing. 
"Half the weeds of American agriculture/' Professor Riley 
once said, "and a large proportion of her worst insect pests, 
have been imported among us from Europe"; and Europe's 
debt to America stands little in arrears we think of the 
Canadian water weed (Anacharis canadensis], the tangled 


and exuberant growth of which has choked ponds and rivers 
and blocked canals to traffic, of the American Blight upon 
our apple trees, of the Pea Beetle, and most damaging of 
all, of the Plant-bug or Phylloxera of the vine (see also intro- 
ductions from America, in Fig. 85, p. 473). 

Many years' experience of the damage caused by unfore- 
seen introductions from other countries, has led progres- 
sive nations whose wealth depends largely upon the products 
of their fields and orchards, to endeavour to check by all 
means in their power the constant stream of undesirable 
immigrants amongst animals. Believing the old saw that 
prevention is better than cure, the agricultural departments 
of various States, prominent among them California and 
Hawaii, have set up strict quarantines, so that each intended 
import passes under the scrutiny of experts and is declared 
clear before it is admitted to the State. 

The monthly reports of the quarantine inspections in 
California and Hawaii make interesting reading, not only 
because they demonstrate the value of this method of com- 
bating noxious stowaways, but because they show, more 
strikingly than one could have imagined, the efficiency of 
commerce as a distributor of animal life. I cannot do better, 
in closing this chapter on the camp-followers of commerce, 
than state, in summary form, the insect pests detected during 
a single month on the point of entering California from 
abroad. I take one at random from the reports before me ; 
it chances to contain the pests intercepted during November 
1916, a month, it is to be remembered, in the midst of a 
great war which has upset traffic and the ways of commerce. 
Nevertheless these are the month's visitors. From Belgium, 
seven species of Leafminers, Thrips, Scales of azaleas and 
bay trees ; from Holland, the Narcissus Fly in narcissus 
bulbs, and the Mussel Scale on box shrubs ; from China, 
Scales upon oranges, the Sweet Potato Weevil in 
sweet potatoes, and the Rice Weevil in rice ; from Japan, 
Weevil larvae, Pine-cone and unidentified Weevils on chest- 
nuts, a Coccid on oranges, and Lepidopterous larvae in 
Chili peppers ; from Hawaii two kinds of Scale Insects on 
pine-apples, Scales on betel leaves, Red- Spotted Scale and two 
other kinds on bananas, Fruit-Fly (Trypetid) larvae in string 
beans, the Scarabee Beetle (Euscepes batatae] in sweet 


potatoes, Lepidopterous larvae on dates, the Purple Scale on 
oranges; from South America (Colombia), the Coconut Snow 
Scale on orchids ; from Central America, two species of Scale 
on bananas, and Weevil larvae in avocado seeds ; from Costa 
Rica, the Purple Scale on oranges ; from Mexico, Lepidop- 
terous larvae in dates, Long Scale on limes, and this and 
the Purple Scale on oranges. From various other States 
in the Union many pests were brought : New Jersey con- 
tributed a Chalcid Fly on orchids ; Pennsylvania, Scales 
on gardenia, begonias, coleus, cyclamens, fuschias and 
spiraea, and Citrus White Fly on citrus ; Florida, Scales 
on pine apple and Black Scale on avocado; Maryland, San 
Jose Scale and Codlin Moth with apples ; from Mississippi 
came Citrus White Fly on gardenia ; from New York, 
Coconut Snow Scale and Shield Scale on orchids, San Jose 
Scale on apples, Common Mealy Bug on Otaheite orange, 
Aspidotus Scale on jasmine ; Washington was content to 
send only Rhizoctonia on potatoes. 

Close on half a hundred different kinds of Insects caught 
attempting to run the blockade of the Californian quarantine; 
and this the fruit of a month's inspection of one tiny stream 
in the world's great ocean of commerce 1 ! 

1 Since these notes were written the United States, having suffered much, 
have recognized that the unforeseen introduction of pests has become so 
serious that a " Notice of Quarantine, No. 37 " has been issued, totally 
prohibiting "on and after June i, 1919, the importation of such nursery 
stock and other plants and seeds as harbour certain injurious insects and 
fungous diseases new to or not heretofore widely distributed within and 
throughout the United States." 

Britain has not yet instituted a systematic examination of imports for 
transported pests ! 



The question of animal and vegetable life is too complicated a pro- 
blem for human intelligence to solve, and we can never know how wide a 
circle of disturbance we produce in the harmonies of nature when we throw 
the smallest pebble into the ocean of organic being. 


IN order that he might gain a full and concrete notion of 
the effects of man's sway over animal life, the reader has 
been led through a forest whose trees are solid facts, whose 
undergrowth, thickets of circumstance. There is a danger 
that in toiling a laborious way through these thickets, he 
may have lost sight of the wood amongst the trees. Let us 
turn, then, from the infinite details of the process, in an 
endeavour to gain a broad view of the results ; remembering 
that the broad view is a limited view, remembering that the 
human mind is not built on the principle of a fly's eye 
that sees all ways at once, but that the span of its vision 
is limited to steps and stages and incidents ; remembering 
most of all that each act of man is no simple deed, done and 
forgotten, but a complex of actions and interactions whose 
influences spread and spread like the circles in a disturbed 
pool, or rather that, like the sound waves impelled from a 
bursting bomb, reach up and down and all around. To 
recast the statement on the lines of bare demonstrable fact 
no deeds of man permanently affect the existence of any 
member of a fauna even in a lesser degree, but the shock 
of the interference is felt amongst the winged creatures of 
the air, amongst the beasts of the field and even amongst 
the burrowers beneath the earth's surface. The widening 
spheres of influence may be traced some distance from the 
source of their origin, but soon their waves are intersected 
and lost to view amidst their own reflected wavelets, and 
amidst new waves and counter-waves from other centres of 

Granted then that the broad view is still a limited view 
and neglects all the finer tracery of man's influence, there 
is still something to be gained from its survey. 

IX. i 


IT is strikingly apparent that the influence of man upon 
animal life has not been a constant factor throughout. But 
this is little to be wondered at, when account is made of 
the changes which have taken place in man's mental attitude 
towards animals and his consequent relationship to them. 
Primitive peoples are creatures of the wilds, and fall in 
with Nature's ways. They kill where food or safety de- 
mands, and are killed by the other wild creatures almost 
on an equal footing. There is yet no enmity between man 
and the beast ; indeed a suggestion of identity with the 
animal and vegetable kingdoms pervades the simple peoples, 
so that they see in birds and beasts, in trees and flowers, 
creatures like unto themselves in essence, which in the 
myths and folk-tales share their own thoughts and feelings 
and speech. So when a particular animal comes to be 
selected to represent their families or tribes, the race of this 
totem animal becomes as their own race, to be protected in 
life and avenged in death. 

In such conditions man was almost as much a part of wild 
nature as the beasts themselves ; he made clearings in the 
forest, but the clearings he made for his settlements nature 
healed in a few years after he had forsaken them ; he slew 
animals, but the thought of destruction other than for his 
own food or clothing or protection or such simple necessity 
had not entered his mind. 

So we find that the faunas of the older human stages 
were those least influenced by man. The simple hunters and 
fishermen of the Old Stone Age left little permanent trace 
upon their contemporaries of the wood and plain. But with 
the passing of years man left his place in the woods to 
seek a place in the sun, and gained in humanity just as he 
raised his head above wild nature's level. Now began an 
antagonism to nature uncontrolled, that has grown and 


intensified with each new stage of culture. The first great 
step was taken by Neolithic man when he brought creatures 
of the wild under the yoke, and cleared the ground of its 
natural plants for the sake of his cultivated grains. A 
classification expressive of his new relationship to nature 
was emphasized : plants were useful, to be preserved, or 
"weeds" to be rooted out; animals likewise fell into the 
categories of good and bad, and the latter, mainly the 
beasts and birds of prey, became marked for persecution 
everywhere and at all seasons. 

In spite of this new rivalry, Neolithic man, and even 
his successors of the Bronze and Iron Ages, left few marks 
of their passage upon the fauna of Scotland ; their weapons 
were primitive and their needs were simple. It is a remark- 
able fact that of all the creatures which Neolithic man found 
inhabiting the forests and moors of Scotland on his settle- 
ment there some 7000 years before the opening of the 
Christian era, only four, so far as we can judge, failed to 
carry on their race to the dawn of Scottish history in the first 
century of our era the Giant Fallow Deer, the Lemming, 
the Northern Lynx, and the Northern or Rat Vole and of 
these it is doubtful if the Giant Fallow Deer (Megaceros 
giganteus] had not died out even before man's arrival, while 
the remainder are Arctic or northern animals upon which 
Scotland's fluctuations of climate must have told with special 

Nevertheless in domesticating wild animals, Neolithic 
man set in motion a force which directly and indirectly has 
been the most potent factor in changing the old order of 
nature and setting in its place the new order of mankind. 
In Scotland the intensity of this force increased after 
the Roman conquest of the Lowlands and the incoming of 
Christianity. The greater necessity for food and fire for an 
increasing population led to the spread of agriculture and 
the destruction of the forest, so that about the tenth century 
several interesting and long familiar animals had disappeared 
or were on the verge of extinction, among them the Brown 
Bear, the Reindeer and the Elk. 

The introduction of a new factor the active encourage- 
ment and protection of certain animals by law cut both 
ways, for while it helped to make secure the position of 

R. 31 


certain favoured creatures, it intensified the warfare against 
others. Yet over all is the influence of the spread of culti- 
vation and of the care of flocks and herds, ever increasing 
in its power and in its enmity towards wild creatures, till, 
reinforced by the invention of gunpowder and guns, in 
the centuries following upon the sixteenth it swept away a 
great remnant of the original fauna, blotting out from the 
land such as the Wolf, the Beaver, the Great Bustard, 
the Crane and the Bittern, the White-tailed Eagle, the 
Goshawk, the Kite and the Osprey, and driving into corners 
of the shrinking forests, or to the wilds, such as the Wild 
Cat, the Pine Marten, the Golden Eagle, the Raven, the 
Carrion Crow, and other foes of domesticated things. 

Lastly the development of the means and ease of travel- 
ling, the spread of commerce, and the rapidity of ocean 
transit have removed almost the last shackles from man's 
influence, throwing the world at the mercy of a power that 
heretofore has been limited by nature's barriers. 


One is tempted to contrast the ways of Nature and 
Man in their bearing on animal life. A little consideration 
of the examples given in the preceding pages will show 
how different in degree are the methods by which natural 
processes and man's direct intervention reach the same 

Nature may indeed destroy by cataclysm, else how can 
we account for the shoals of dead fish, which died simul- 
taneously in inland waters covering, million of years ago, the 
spot where Caithness now is, and which became embedded 
in layers of the Old Red Sandstone Period. In our own 
day the eruptions of submarine volcanoes work such havoc. 
But as a rule Nature's method is different. She exterminates 
an animal : long she seems to ponder over the process, 
slowly the conditions creep in which render existence more 
difficult, time gives many opportunities for changing a 
habit, even for modifying a structure, so that new adaptation 
may turn aside the threat of extinction only to incompetence 
of adjustment does Nature meet out its reward. 

But Man is still " Nature's insurgent son," her methods 


are too slow for him, he rebels against her deliberation. 
Man exterminates an animal : he slays rashly, rapidly, re- 
morselessly, and, the deed done, takes time to regret his 
impetuosity. Nature, it would seem, considers well before 
she deals the final blow; Man deals the final blow and then 

With the introduction of animals, it is as* with their 
extermination the same coarse handling marks Man's ways. 
Nature introduces, say, a new molluscan shell-fish to our 
fresh waters. A single egg, no bigger than a pinhead, or 
perhaps a dozen mixed with the clay attached to the foot of 
a migrating duck, form the possible foundation of a colony. 
But the colony is so small that, the newcomer creates no 
violent revolution in its surroundings. It may die out under 
competition, leaving no trace; it may increase and in the 
end choke its neighbour's life, but the latter process is 
generally a slow one, there is no fierce apparent struggle, 
ajid, besides, with the gradual increase of the newcomer, 
fresh foes develop which tend to keep it in check. 

How different when man interferes! He introduces a 
new mollusc: he dumps basketsfull time and again at the 
same spot, upsetting the balance of life in the neighbour- 
hood, offering the newcomer, if conditions be suitable, 
chances of increase, which may cause the countryside to be 
overrun before a natural enemy arises to keep the alien 
within bounds. 

Even his unforeseen and accidental introductions have 
the same effect, for the persistence with which the same 
pest is introduced time and again, in timber or food, with 
plants or fruit, makes sure that, unless conditions are actively 
hostile, it will at one time or another set down its foot and 
become an established guest. 


Along three broad lines man's influence has played upon 
the animal world. On one hand it has tended to reduce the 
numbers of one set of animals, to limit their range and to 
exterminate them ; on the other hand it has leaned towards 
increasing the numbers of another set of animals, compelling 
them to enter fresh areas, which often enough they have 


4 8 4 


added securely to their original territory. Along with these 
influences, in conjunction with the one or the other, or inde- 
pendently of either, man has both consciously and uncon- 
sciously shared in bringing about changes in the physical 
structures as well as in the habits and temperaments of 
many wild creatures. 


Man has enriched the fauna of Scotland in two different 
directions in quantity, by encouraging an increase of num- 
bers amongst certain animals, and in quality, by adding new 



Fig. 86. Comparison of the surface features of Scotland in prehistoric times 1 
and at the present day; showing the extent of man's interference with the natural haunts 
of animals. 

creatures from other lands. Both quantitative and qualita- 
tive increases involve new demands on the food supply, and 
these, under natural conditions, entail a decrease in other 
living things whose food is appropriated by the new-comers. 
But here again man has stepped in, and has to a certain 
extent solved the problem of increase without decrease, first 
and mainly by his cultivation of the soil, and more recently 
and secondarily by his importation of food stuffs from other 

1 This diagram is based upon the estimated extent of the Upper Forest 
of the Peat, checked, with allowance for the different physical configuration 
of the countries, with the present condition of Scandinavia where only 
6 per cent, of the land is cultivated. 


The importance of cultivation of the soil from the point 
of view of increasing animal life cannot be over-estimated. 
The vegetation of even an indifferent pasture is much more 
abundant than the yield of the same ground unfilled, and the 
value, as feeding stuff, of the produce of an equal field of 
grain is greater still. Good arable land can be made to 
yield more and more under intensive methods of cultivation 
so that, acre for acre, the food-supply has multiplied many 
times since man turned the first sod in Scotland. When to 
this increased yield, due wholly to the skill of agriculture, 
we add the crops of such land formerly almost unpro- 
ductive of even wild vegetation as has been reclaimed 
from the marshes and sandhills, or stolen from the forest, 
we gain some vague idea of the increase in vegetable food 
which has resulted from the cultivation of close on five 
million acres, one quarter of the total land area of Scotland. 

Almost all this increased yield of vegetation has been 
added to the natural food supply of the inhabitants of 
Scotland, man and beast, to their enormous multiplication 
in numbers. Finches and grain-eating birds, Rabbits, Rats. 
Mice, and vegetarian animals in general, as well as the 
Stoats, Weasels, and beasts and birds of prey which feed upon 
them, have benefited by the bounty of the fields : but most 
important of all, man himself has multiplied, and has been 
enabled to increase his domesticated stock far beyond the 
natural bearing capacity of the country. 

In another way, man has laboured for the increase in 
numbers of certain elements in the fauna, by affording them 
protection from indiscriminate slaughter and by encouraging 
their multiplication for the sake of sport, for their own in- 
trinsic value, or for the pleasure their presence gives him. 
This direct protection has been on the whole far less 
effective from the faunistic point of view than might have 
been supposed, partly because any success it met with merely 
stimulated increased slaughter, partly because it was often 
applied to animals already on the downgrade from causes 
other than direct destruction, and partly because it tended 
to clash with agricultural developments and improvements. 
Yet it has succeeded in preserving for us the Red Deer, 
which, otherwise, would almost certainly have been exter- 
minated long ago, as were its relatives ; it has succeeded in 


keeping up the stocks of many game-birds which adverse 
conditions might have brought near the vanishing point, 
and in recent years it has certainly been instrumental in 
increasing the numbers of several rare and of many inter- 
esting and useful birds. 

Apart from increase in sheer weight of numbers, the 
animal life in Scotland has been varied in kind by the 
introduction from abroad of creatures which have found 
climate and food suitable for their firm establishment. 
Amongst these naturalized aliens, domestic animals are 
the chief, not only because of their numbers, but also 
on account of the pressure they have exerted upon the 
native fauna ; for with man the welfare of his stock has 
always had first consideration. How great this indirect 
pressure has been we can scarcely realize, but now and 
again we have caught glimpses of its power, as when the 
development of sheep pasturage led to the destruction of 
tracts of forest land in the Highlands as well as in the Low- 
lands, banishing their tenants and in the latter district 
finally driving the Roe and the Red Deer to extermination. 

How could it be otherwise when new places and new 
food supplies have had to be found for the millions of 
domesticated animals man has imposed upon the country ? 
We are apt to forget that by nothing short of a miracle 
could 8,635,918 foreigners, however desirable, be added to 
the fauna of a country without disturbing the food and 
dwelling arrangements of the aboriginals. But this number 
includes only the larger domestics Horses, Cattle, Sheep 
and Pigs 1 inhabiting Scotland in 1916, and the wonder is 
that they have found places without entirely dispossessing 
the old fauna, for, were they equally distributed throughout 
the land, on barren mountain-top, as well as in fertile plain, 
they would represent, roughly, an addition of one animal to 
every two acres. But under natural conditions each Red 
Deer requires at least 18 acres of moderately good "forest" 
to keep it in heart ! The domestic animals have, it is true, 
enormously affected the wild fauna ; but nevertheless man 
has accomplished the miracle of heavily overloading the 
scale without entirely upsetting the balance of feeding the 

1 The numbers were horses, 207,290; cattle, 1,226,374; sheep, 7,055,864; 
pigs, 146,390. 


multitudes of newcomers on the few loaves and fishes of 
the aboriginal creatures and yet leaving over more than a 
few crumbs for the old races, and this miracle has been 
accomplished through the marvellous art of agriculture 
which has created fresh food supplies as the domestic 
animals increased in number and required them. 

Although domestic animals still take the lead amongst 
introduced creatures, other deliberate importations have to 
be reckoned with in the modern make-up of the fauna. 
The Squirrel and the Rabbit both play important parts in 
the economy of vegetation, the interference of the latter, 
as I shall have occasion to point out later, being particularly 
effective and widespread. Yet we should be sorry to lose 
these sprightly guests from our woods and dells, and bleak 
sand-dunes, just as we should miss the presence of the 
graceful Fallow Deer or of the brilliant Pheasant now that 
these have made their homes in wood and covert. 

On the other hand we would gladly dispense with the 
presence of most of the chance introductions which have 
followed in the trail of commerce. They have added 
enormously in variety as well as in numbers to the fauna of 
Scotland, but, as I have already pointed out, their methods 
of secret insinuation into new countries ensure that a large 
proportion of these skulkers and stowaways shall prove 
pests and nuisances. How many anxious housewives, farmers, 
gardeners, and fruit-growers must bemoan the generous 
bounty of a commerce which has freely given them the Cock- 
roach, or "Black Beetle" of the kitchen, the loathsome 
Bed Bug, the Black Rat 'and his cousin the Brown, the 
American Blight of apple trees, the Phylloxera of the vine, 
and scores of other minute but destructive enemies of 
growing crops, of manufactured goods and indeed, it would 
seem, of anything man particularly wishes to conserve. 
Other influences have favoured multiplication and the forma- 
tion of new resorts for colonization ; we think of the 
inhabitants of houses, of coal-pits, and of water-pipes. But 
the introduction, fortuitous or deliberate, of new animals, 
the protection of certain members of the old stock, the 
multiplication of vegetable feeders and through them of 
flesh eaters by the arts of land reclamation and cultivation 
these are the chief methods by which man has encouraged 


the increase, in numbers and variety, of the animal inhabi- 
tants of Scotland. 


Two main lines of action have told severely upon the 
original fauna of Scotland. The first is patent in its direct- 
ness the deliberate destruction of creatures, whether for 
food or profit or because they threatened to destroy the 
security of man or of his domestic stock. The former lost 
to us the Great Auk, the latter the Wolf and many beasts 
and birds of prey. The second group of influences, indirect 
in their incidence, is associated with the disturbance of the 
haunts of wild creatures, and can be traced to the needs of 
cultivation and the demands of advancing civilization (see 
Fig. 86, p. 484). The former banished the creatures of the 
moorland when fields were tilled, and the birds and creeping 
things of the marsh when swamps were drained ; both agri- 
culture and civilization, but especially the latter on behalf of 
its growing industries, contributed to the destruction of the 
forest and in consequence to the disappearance of the wood- 
land animals; and civilization is responsible for the ill effects 
of the pollution of rivers and of the obstacles placed in the 
way of migrant fishes. 

It need not happen that the creatures against which 
man sets his hand, unwittingly or with intent, necessarily 
become exterminated. Adverse influences are as clearly 
marked by simple reduction in numbers, or by a gradual 
drawing in of the outposts of a species, so that its territory 
becomes less. 

It must not be supposed that these influences making for 
the increase or decrease of a species are simple in their work- 
ings. So far from being mutually exclusive they are highly 
involved, and the final tendency in the history of any creature 
must be interpreted with due regard to the conflicting influences 
which have played upon it. Take, for example, the case of 
the Stoat. On the one hand its numbers have been reduced, 
directly, by slaughter for the value of its skin, and on 
account of its depredations on game, and indirectly by the 
destruction of woods and its safe retreats. On the other 
hand its numbers have tended to increase because of the 


killing of the larger beasts and birds of prey which shared 
the same food supply, and because of the actual increase of 
its prey, owing to game preservation and to the increase of 
food through cultivation and the accumulation of garbage. 
The final effect upon the Stoat's welfare depends upon the 
tilting of the balance to one side or the other. Other animals 
are subject to similar diverse and contradictory influences 
it is seldom that the influence of man follows an undeviating 


There is a third indication in the history of a species 
which points to adverse influences a decline in physique. 
Where this degeneracy has taken place dependent upon 
changes in environment caused by man, the structural 
change may be attributed to his agency. Between pre- 
historic times and the present day, the weight and complexity 
of the antlers of Stags have undergone an extraordinary 
decadence. This I have endeavoured to trace to the adverse 
influences which have driven Red Deer, from the forest which 
is their natural home, to the uncongenial bleakness of the 
moors and mountain sides, where food is less luxuriant and 
where shelter from hard weather is less perfect. But man 
destroyed the forest and drove the Deer to the wastes, and 
to him therefore can be traced the new moulding of the 
Deer's antlers. 

It is not only in the alteration of characteristic features 
that the influence of man can be traced, for it seems also to 
be exhibited in an actual reduction in size of body amongst 
four-footed beasts. In a country such as ours where domestic 
animals and the acts of man have usurped and destroyed the 
food supplies of wild creatures, this reduction is probably of 
a much more general nature than one would suppose, but 
many careful observations of the refuse of the prehistoric 
settlements and other deposits must yet be made, before the 
size relationship between the old and the modern representa- 
tives of mammals can be determined generally. This we can 
say, however, that of the survivors of the race of native 
Scottish Deer, one, the Scottish Red Deer, has decreased in 
size by about one third since the days of Neolithic man ; while 



in the other, the Roe, there are suspicions of a reduction. 
The limb bones of the Mountain or Variable Hare found 
in the Neolithic deposits of the Inchnadamph Bone Cave 
are considerably larger than the corresponding bones of a 
modern individual. The limb bones of a Wild Cat which I 
examined from the settlements at Dunagoil in Bute showed 
that the length of limb was considerably greater than that 
of a modern Wild Cat, which again is larger than that of 
the domestic race 1 . Indeed the thigh bone (femur) resembled 
in length that of a modern Fox. A single hint suggests 
that this latte