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Editor of " Kay's Edinburgh Portraits;" Author of "The Contemporaries of Burns; 
" History of the County and Families of Ayr; " "Memoir of 
James Fillans, Sculptor," &c. &c. 

" If there is any branch [of antiquarian research] that has pretensions to interest and 
dignity, it is certainly that which relates to the origin and destinies of nations, the 
filiation of distant races, and the affinities of remote establishments." Edinburgh Re- 
rietf, 1803. 

















THE following pages make no pretension to novelty in 
matters of fact. The many learned and able disputants 
who from time to time have entered the lists, arid brought 
the full array of their laborious gleanings from ancient 
authorities to bear upon the question at issue, preclude 
the hope of any additional information capable of throw- 
ing light on the subject. The Author, at the same time, 
is convinced that the existing diversity of opinion pro- 
ceeds more from the one-sided manner in which these 
facts have been produced, and the pre-determination of 
the contending parties to support particular views, than 
from the contradictory or unsatisfactory nature of the 
facts themselves. In a matter of such remote antiquity, 
and in the face of so many plausible and conflicting 
theories, it would be presumption to affirm that he has 
even approached a settlement of the question ; yet he is 
egotist enough to think that he has at least suggested 


views capable of reconciling or explaining the leading 
data adduced by the more distinguished controversialists, 
and brought the whole within the grasp of the general 
reader, whose leisure and inclination may not have ena- 
bled him to grapple with the various authorities. He 
has endeavoured to do this by avoiding unnecessary de- 
tail, laying hold only of the more prominent landmarks, 
which in reality command all the rest, and bringing to 
bear upon them the weight of self-evident conclusions, 
or the conviction arising from the testimony of circum- 

The Author was led into this self-imposed undertaking, 
not with a view to publication, but for his own satisfaction. 
While engaged in writing the ' History of the County 
and Families of Ayrshire,' some years ago, he had occa- 
sion to inquire into the origin of the inhabitants of 
that district ; and in doing so, felt much perplexed by 
the opposing theories and contradictory statements put 
forth by the respective writers whom he found it desirable 
to consult. When more leisure offered, he resumed the 
inquiry, upon a more extended basis, and the following 
pages are the result of his labours. Believing it to be of 
essential interest historically as well as nationally, that 
a people should know from what division of the world or 


from -what branch of the human family they are derived, 
he has thus ventured to claim public attention, and trusts 
that the digest of the great antiquarian question of ages 
which he offers may not be without its use in at least pre- 
paring the reader for deeper study, should it fail to carry 
conviction to the understanding. 

In reference to the origin of the Scottish language, 
the Author beh'eves that a similar vagueness prevails 
amongst the generality of readers. That it arose some- 
how, they find to be an existent fact ; but from whence 
derived, or what are its constituent parts, very few can 
tell, or have been at the trouble to ascertain. With the 
exception of Dr Jamieson's Introduction to his Scottish 
Dictionary, he is not aware that any formal attempt 
has been made to trace it to its source, however much 
the learned may be of one mind on the subject. Jamie- 
son's is no doubt an able essay; but he had peculiar 
views to support, and a thorough and impartial eluci- 
dation of the question was scarcely to be expected from 
his pen. Unacquainted probably with the British and 
Gaelic, it was apparently his aim to derive the Scottish 
chiefly from the Scandinavian. For example, he passes 
over the very expressive and euphonious word croon 

' Whiles croonin oure some auld Scots sonnet,' 


so intimately associated with our national lyrics, without 
any attempt to trace its root : which he might at once 
have found in the Gaelic cronan, a low murmuring 
sound, a dirge. It is indeed rather strange that, although 
we have numerous writers on the early ballad literature 
of Scotland, few of them have ventured to account for 
the singularly felicitous language in which they are 

Sir Walter Scott, in his preface to the Romance of Sir 
Tristram, makes a vigorous dash at the root of the matter. 
Though differing with us in some points, as the reader 
will perceive on perusing the following pages, he is 
nevertheless right in the main facts. * The Saxon king- 
dom of Bernicia,' he observes, ' was not limited by the 
Tweed, but extended, at least occasionally, as far north- 
ward as the Frith of Forth. The fertile plains of Ber- 
wickshire and the Lothians were inhabited by a race of 
Anglo-Saxons, whose language resembled that of the 
Belgic tribes whom they had conquered, and this blended 
speech contained as it were the original materials of the 
English tongue.* Beyond the Friths of Forth and of 
Tay, was the principal seat of the Picts, a Gothic tribe, 

* We do not understand this passage. The Anglo-Saxons conquered the 
Ottadeni and Gadeni of Lothian, but they were British, not Belgic tribes. 


if we can trust the best authorities, who spoke a dialect 
of the Teutonic differing from the Anglo-Saxon, and ap- 
parently more allied to the Belgic. This people falling 
under the dominion of the kings of Scots, the united 
forces of these nations wrenched from the Saxons, first 
the province of the Lothians, finally that of Berwick- 
shire, and even part of Northumberland itself. But as 
the victors spoke a language similar to that of the van- 
quished,* it is probable that no great alteration took 
place in that particular, the natives of the southern border 
continuing to use the Anglo-Saxon, qualified by the 
Pictish dialect, and to bear the name of Angles.' 

Sir Walter was of opinion that the English language, 
as he calls it, made greater progress in Scotland than in 
England. Ellis, in his specimens of early English poetry, 
makes a similar remark, and contends for the indepen- 
dence of the Scottish language. 

Allan Cunningham, in his introduction to the ' Songs 
of Scotland,' glances at the subject in his usual poetical 
style : 

* The period when the Scottish language began to be 
heard above the barbarous discordance of the conquering 
and the conquered, cannot be accurately known ; and it 

* Part of the Pictish portion of the Scottish forces only did so. 


is equally vain to seek to be informed at what time it 
flowed in a stream pure and plentiful enough for the uses 
of the muse. There must have been a large interval of 
years, while the Celtic language was step by step retiring 
to the northern hills, and the present language was 
secretly moulding itself on the Saxon (?), the Danish, 
and the Norman, in which our poetry appeared of many 
colours, and caught a strip and a star from every fresh 
infusion from the west or the south. That our earliest 
poets spoke a kind of Babylonish dialect, fit to confound 
the wisdom of many colleges, I am not prepared to say ; 
but it is much easier to prove that the peculiar poetry of 
the various tribes or nations who turned Scotland and 
England into a prize-fighter's stage, gave a tinge or an 
impulse which is yet visible in the popular poetry of the 
land. If we can indulge in the pleasing belief that 
Fingal lived and that Osian sang; and if we are to 
judge of the aspirations of the Celtic muse by the wild, 
and pathetic, and chivalrous strains which were so long 
and so wondrously preserved for Macpherson to find, we 
may conclude that the Lowland muse owes less to her 
Celtic sister than to the wild legions of the Norwegians 
and Danes. The Scottish and the Scandinavian ballads 
or songs have a close and a vivid resemblance : the same 


spirit seems to have conceived, and the same spirit 
executed them. They abound in the same wild and sin- 
gular superstitions; the same thirst for the marvellous 
by sea, and the incredible by land. They present an 
image of a rude, a martial, and original people; might is 
their source of right ; personal beauty and personal bra- 
very are their only visible perfections; their ships are 
their homes, the field of battle their delight; plunder 
their reward ; and the chief judge and arbitrator in all 
dubious matters is the sword. Blood flows, through their 
romantic as well as their martial strains; and if they 
draw images of female loveliness and beauty, it is but to 
throw them into the arms of the savage hero of the tale, 
or upon the sword-point of some fiercer rival. But, 
steeped as they are in superstition and in blood, they have 
many redeeming graces of graphic power, rude chivalry, 
and fervent pathos. They exhibit that sharp and fresh 
presentment of incident and scene which will ever be 
found in the songs of those who seek to see nature for 
themselves. They have the fire-edge of first thought 
strong upon them, with that minuteness and particularity 
which make fiction speak with the tongue of truth. In 
much of this energy of character, the Celtic poetry 
shares ; but its manners are more refined, its sentiments 


more generous, its superstitions more sublime, and its 
chivalry rivals the brightest era of European knight- 

Had Cunningham attended to historical facts, he would 
have found that there must have been properly two eras 
in the formation of the Scottish language. The first 
during the Pictish period, prior to the middle of the 
ninth century ; and the second after the accession of the 
Scottish line of kings to the Pictish throne. So far from 
( the Celtic retiring step by step to the northern hills,' 
the Scottish dialect, mixed and confused as it may have 
been, and moulded not on the Saxon but on the Nor- 
wegian, was in the first instance pushed by the Gaelic 
from the north southwards. So long as the Picts and 
Danes held the north-east of Scotland, the language of 
the Norsemen, or mixed Pictish, must have extensively 
prevailed, for the Gael were strictly circumscribed to 
their original Dalriada, now Argyleshire. On the down- 
fal of the Danish reguli in the north of Scotland, they so 
overspread the Pictish provinces that in the days of 
Buchanan, and at a still later period, Gaelic was the 
universal language even in Sutherlandshire and Caith- 
ness. The germ of the Scottish tongue, as well as the 
mixed race of people by whom it was spoken, and with 


whom it originated, tenaciously continued to hold their 
place in the wide and fertile district of Moray and Aber- 
deenshire. The progress of the Scottish dialect in the 
first era was thus from north to south ; during the 
second, from causes which must be obvious, and which 
we need not here repeat, the process was reversed. The 
alleged superior refinement of the Celtic is a fiction. 
"NVhen it shall have been established that Macpherson's 
Osian is a genuine production, then the premises may 
be admitted ; but not till then. 

Our ballad literature and melody, contrary to Cun- 
ningham's opinion, are greatly indebted to the Celtic. 
The plaintive, so expressively deep in its tone, may be 
said to be wholly derived from it. In short, the supe- 
riority of the Lowland Scots seems to consist in this, 
that it combines the peculiar excellencies of both the 
Scandinavian and the Celtic lyre. 

J. P. 

GLASGOW, July, 1855. 



No question has puzzled antiquaries more than the Origin 
of the Scottish People and Language. The fabulous 
derivations in which our early historians indulged not 
even exclusive of the classic Buchanan opened a wide 
field for speculation ; and the few authorities, prior to 
the existence of indubitable national records, whose state- 
ments can at all be relied upon, have had their facts 
twisted into all manner of meanings, or been wholly set 
aside, according to the peculiar views of the respective 

Without a knowledge of the origin of a people, it is 
clear that we can form no very distinct or accurate idea 
of their language. Until the appearance of Pinkerton's 
'Essay on the Origin of Scottish Poetry,' published in 
1786, it seemed to be a settled notion that the Scottish, 
or Lowland language, was simply a dialect, or corrup- 
tion of the English. That writer contended for a more 
immediate derivation from the Gothic root, through the 



medium of Scandinavia. His theory was, that the ancient 
Caledonians, or Picts, were Scythians from Norway, and 
had peopled Caledonia ages before the invasion of the 
Romans hence the vernacular of the great body of the 
kingdom ; while to the Scots, a later people, we owe the 
Gaelic of the Highlands. Upon a similar hypothesis, the 
late Dr Jamieson brought out his invaluable Scottish 
Dictionary, which abundantly established the close affinity 
of the Icelandic and Scottish tongue. 

Plausible, however, as Pinkerton's system was, it 
wanted the necessary cohesion in certain vulnerable 
points; and in his 'Inquiry into the History of Scot- 
land preceding 1056/ wherein the same theory was 
more elaborately produced, his arguments and authorities 
were thrown so meretriciously together, as to weaken 
rather than strengthen his position. His language, too, 
is invariably boldest where his proof is most deficient. 
His 'Inquiry,' nevertheless, made considerable impres- 
sion. To it we no doubt owe the great topographical 
and historical work of George Chalmers, the first volume 
of which appeared in 1807. This is perhaps one of the 
most systematic and logical works of the kind on record. 
Though most of his propositions were suggested by pre- 
vious writers, yet he so arranged and illustrated them as 
to make them virtually his own. His object was to 
show that the Caledonians and Picts were the same 
people, but of Celtic, not of Scandinavian origin ; that 


the Scots were a later colony from Ireland, also of Celtic 
descent ; and that the Scottish dialect was derived from 
the Saxon by colonization from England. 

Chalmers' opposition to Pinkerton, however, carried 
him occasionally too far; and, in not a few instances, he 
is not only inconsistent, but casts aside probability and 
even direct testimony, where these do not coincide with 
the general scope of his views. Pinkerton was no doubt 
right in his opinion that the dialect of the Lowlands is a 
more direct offshoot from the Gothic than the An^lo- 


Saxon as spoken in England ; but he was as clearly 
wrong in the historical data by which he endeavoured 
to account for the fact. So also, we opine, Chalmers 
was in error when he attributed the introduction of the 
Anglo-Saxon into Scotland wholly to colonization from 
England. The erroneous deductions of both were the 
necessary consequence of a false assumption in the out- 
start, to reconcile and illustrate which will be the chief 
object of the following pages. 

We may premise that both writers were fully con- 
versant with all the Roman and other authorities on the 
subject ; and before them lay the critical investigations of 
Camden, Usher, Lines, Clerk, Sibbald, the Macphersons, 
Whitaker, etc. ; but it is remarkable how prone even the 
more impartial writers on disputed points of antiquity, 
are to a one-sided selection of authorities. It is a great 
pity that Chalmers did not live to finish his truly national 


work. The fourth volume which is awanting would 
have brought him more directly into contact with the 
two grand divisions of ancient Caledonia north of the 
Forth, and with many of those remains of antiquity, 
which the ingenuity of our most laborious antiquaries 
have hitherto failed to explain. 

Since the time of Chalmers and Pinkerton, several 
writers such as Logan, Grant, Skene, etc. have 
grappled with the same subject ; but their views are 
either a reiteration of theories formerly propounded, or 
so fanciful and unsupported as to be unworthy of par- 
ticular notice. These again have been followed by a 
swarm of miscellaneous writers, who, in every depart- 
ment of literature, throw out their ill-digested conjectures 
in the most arbitrary manner; so that, at this moment, 
the origin of the Scots and Picts, and the language in 
which Barbour, Wyntoun, Douglas, D unbar, Ramsay, 
and Burns gave poetical expression to their sentiments, 
is, to the majority of readers, as great a mystery as 

No one can believe with Pinkerton and his followers 
that the original Picts were a Gothic people, who made 
good their footing in the Hebrides three hundred years 
before Christ, and on the mainland a hundred years 
afterwards, all evidence, historical and topographical, 
being against him ; and as little can we agree with 
Chalmers in his opinion that the Scottish vernacular 


was introduced by colonization from England subsequent 
to 1093, when we find the language of the former more 
refined than that of the latter, not much beyond a 
century subsequent to the alleged era of change. We 
must endeavour to find the truth between the two ex- 


With Chalmers we can have no reasonable doubt that 
Great Britain and Ireland were originally peopled by 
one and the same race of Celts from Gaul. This is de- 
monstrated by the stone monuments, and other remains 
of antiquity, which are to be found in all parts of the 
three kingdoms, as well as topographically by the maps 
of Ptolemy * and Richard, f wherein it is apparent that 
the names of rivers and places are similar, and, in not a 
few instances, of the tribes themselves. For example, 
the tribe of the Damnii are to be found in each of the 
three divisions of the kingdom. In Ireland there were, 

* Ptolemy, the Egyptian geographer, lived in the second century ; and 
with the exception of a mistake in the longitude and latitude, his maps of 
the British isles are considered amazingly accurate. A transcript of 
Ptolemy's map, with Richard's variations indicated, was published some 
years ago by the Society for Promoting Useful Knowledge. 

f PJchard of Cirencester, in England, existed in the thirteenth century. 
He was an excellent geographer, and seetns to have had good authority for 
his statements. Nevertheless, doubts have been thrown upon the genuine- 
ness of the maps ascribed to him 


besides, the Voluntii, and in Britain the Voluntii or 
Vblantii; in Ireland the Vennicnii, and in Britain tlie 
Vennicontes, etc. The nearest point of land to Ireland, 
in South Britain, is called Ganganorum, in Caernarvon- 
shire, in the maps of Ptolemy and Richard, hence it is 
inferable that the tribe of the Cangani, in Ireland, emi- 
grated from the Welsh coast. Of the similarity of 
names of places in Britain and Ireland, Chalmers fur- 
nishes numerous and convincing illustrations. 

At the same time, however, there seems to be good 
reason for believing that the Welsh, or Cymbric branch 
of the Celts, were a later colony, before whom the ear- 
lier tribes gradually retired northward and westward, 
to Scotland and Ireland. This opinion was first sug- 
gested by Lloyd, an eminent Welsh scholar and anti- 
quary, who found that the more ancient names of places 
in Wales were Erse or Gaelic, not Welsh. This hypo- 
thesis, of which Chalmers takes no notice, relieves the 
inquirer of one great difficulty, viz., the difference be- 
tween the Welsh and Gaelic languages, if the people 
had been colonies of the same age and tribe. 


At the era of Agricola's invasion (78), it is apparent 
that the three kingdoms were chiefly occupied by a Celtic 
people. We say chiefly, because, in opposition to Chal- 


mers, it must not be forgotten that Julius Caesar, who 
invaded South Britain a hundred and thirty-three years 
previously, is somewhat positive in his statement to the 
contrary. He says that, on landing in England, he 
found the inhabitants on the coast to be of Belgic 
descent, differing from those of the interior, whom he 
designates Britanni, both in language and institutions ; 
nay, in three obvious particulars lingua, institutis, mori- 
bus. He farther states that the tradition among the 
Belgae themselves was that they were not Celts, but 
Germans. Chalmers repudiates the positive statement 
of Julius Caesar, on the ground that the term JBelgce 
itself is Celtic, signifying men of war, or warlike ; that, 
taking the context, Csesar afterwards modifies his state- 
ment by saying, ' the Belgae were chiefly descended 
from the Germans; and passing the Rhine, in ancient 
times, seized the nearest country of the Gauls ;' and that, 
as Germany was occupied by Celts as late as 112 years 
B.C., and partially by them during the next century, the 
Belgse necessarily were Celtic. It is to be inferred, he 
also urges, from Livy and Strabo, Pliny and Lucan, 
that Cassar meant dialect in place of language. The 
positive statement of Caesar is thus somewhat neutralised. 
But whatever may have been the difference between 
the Belgae and Britons in Caesar's time, Tacitus con- 
cluded, after a deliberate consideration of the origin of 
the various tribes of which Britain was composed in the 


following century, that they were veritable Gauls.* On 
a general survey, ( he says it appears probable that the 
Gauls originally took possession of the neighbouring 
coast. The sacred rites and superstitions of those people 
are discernible among the Britons. The languages of 
the two nations (the Gauls and Britons) do not greatly 

There is reason to believe, at the same time, that con- 
siderable trading intercourse had existed between the 
Britons and Continentals long prior to the era of the 
Romans ; and Kemble, in his ' Saxons in England,' has 
followed up the idea of Pinkerton, by showing that there 
were Saxons in South Britain centuries before the land- 
ing of Hengist and Horsa in 449. The Coritani,^ ac- 
cording to Welsh tradition, were Germans; and the 
Roman classics affirm the fact, that a legion of Alamanni, 
a German tribe, served under the Roman standard in 

* There seems much dubiety as to the term Gauli in the Roman classics, 
whether it applied to the Celtic or German tribes ; and it is probable that a 
considerable intermixture of races latterly ensued. This may account for 
the difference traced by particular authors as to the physical appearance of 
the inhabitants of Britain. Tacitus, in describing the battle of the Gram- 
pians, particularly mentions the Covinarii, a German tribe, as opposed to 
the Romans. But although a mixture of race, to some extent, may thus be 
admitted, there can be little doubt that the great mass of the Caledonian 
people were Celtic, and that they spoke the Celtic language. The opinion of 
the Edinburgh Review (1803), that the inhabitants of Britain, in the time of 
Cajsar, were German Gauls, and spoke a dialect of the Teutonic language, is 
absurd in the extreme. 

t The Coritani occupied the centre of England. 


Britain. Kemble, besides, quotes from the Notitia of 
the Eomans a document of the close of the fourth cen- 
tury to prove that a Saxon community then existed in 
England. The Comes Liitoris Saxonici of the Notitia 
was an officer whose authority over the Saxons extended 
from Portsmouth to Wells, in Norfolk. If the Saxons, 
thus specially recognised by the Romans in the fourth 
century, were the Belgae of Julius Caesar, as some have 
supposed, it is evident that their presence had not pro- 
duced much effect in changing either the language or 
usages of the Britons. The latter retired westward as 
the tide of Saxon colonization rolled in from the east ; 
and whether the Belgse, if Celts, retreated with their 
countrymen to the mountains of Wales; or, being Saxons, 
amalgamated with the Teutonic flood, is likely to remain 
for ever a secret. At all events, it is plain that the 
Anglo-Saxons of history spoke the Saxon language, and 
maintained it in considerable purity down to the twelfth 
century: which could hardly have been the case had the 
Belgae been a body of German settlers, mixing with the 
Romans and native Britons for so many ages. No inter- 
mediate language, or dialect, between the Welsh and 
Saxon, can be traced either in the literature or topo- 
graphy of ancient England. The Belga3 disappear to 
history after the first century ; and, in the absence of all 
tangible recognition of them, have been converted into 
Scots, Picts, Irish, or Welsh, according to the arbitrary 


will and pleasure of the multitudinous inquirers who 
have written on the subject. For example, the editor of 
the Athenaeum, in reviewing Skene's 'Highlanders of 
Scotland,' in 1837, records his firm belief in this Belgic 
transmutation : 'Without condescending for a moment,' 
he says, l to admit the strange hypothesis of Mr Skene, 
that they (the Belgse) are the progenitors of the modern 
Welsh, we have a strong opinion that they amalgamated 
with the Britons of Caledonia, and that this junction gave 
rise to the name of Picts /' Elsewhere, as if determined 
to leave the Celts a very small share in our ancestral 
honours, the editor finds the hypothesis that the Scots 
were of l Teutonic origin,' (thus following Pinkerton so 
far) ' greatly confirmed by the remarkable affinity now 
subsisting between the language of the Gael and that of 
the German (!) As we ascend the stream of time,' he 
continues, ' as we compare the oldest extant monuments 
of the Erse with those of the dialects confessedly Teu- 
tonic, we are powerfully struck with the resemblance. 
This fact alone, independent of all authority, we hold to 
be decisive of tl^e question that the Scots were Germans, 
whether derived immediately from the country usually 
' understood by that name, or from Scandinavia, is of no 
consequence !' 

If writers in the position of the editor of the Athencevm 
are found giving utterance to such unsubstantiated dicta 
as this, we need not wonder that the popular mind 


should be submerged in a flood of ignorance on the 

In Scotland, at the advent of Agricola, there were 
twenty-one clans the Caledonii^ occupying * the whole 
of the interior country, from the ridge of mountains 
which separates Inverness and Perth, on the south, to 
the range of hills that forms the forest of Balnagown, in 
Ross, on the north ; comprehending all the middle parts 
of Inverness and of Ross.'l Fife, Perth, Aberdeenshire, 
etc., afterwards the chief country of the Picts, were in- 
habited by the Horestii, Venricones, Taixali, etc. In 
the map of Ptolemy, the Picti are not mentioned, but 
they occur in that of Richard, while the names of the 
Horestii) etc., disappear. The Romans seem to have 
used the designation in the belief that it was derived 
from the practice of painting their bodies ; but as this 

* There is an affinity, less or more, between almost all languages, to be 
traced in numerous radical words ; but the German assuredly belongs to the 
Gothic, not the Celtic branch. At the same time, as Gaul was anciently 
inhabited by Germans and Celts, it is not wonderful that there should 
be words, in the language of each, common to both a fact which has given 
rise to much confusion in the topographical argument of the question. We 
are aware that some gentlemen, who Have given attention to the Celtic 
language and literature, are of opinion that the various Gothic languages of 
Europe are but so many deviations from or corruptions of the Gaelic ; as, for 
example, the Gothic wick is just another mode of spelling and pronouncing 
the Celtic tiig a nook, or retired solitary hollow. It would require a great 
many such instances, however, to prove that the similarity arose from other 
than the causes already assigned. 

t So called from their occupying the woody district. 
J Chalmers' Caledonia. 


custom was, and still is, general amongst rude tribes, 
it is not easy to see how the term could apply to any one 
portion of the inhabitants of Britain more than to 
another. Pinkerton contends that ornamenting the 


body in this manner was a Gothic, not a Celtic custom ; 
and he derives the name from the Norwegian vik and 
vikar, a corruption, he says, of the ancient Peukini, as 
Suitod or Sweden. Chalmers seeks a more direct ety- 
mology, which he finds in the word Peitliw* signifying 
the open country, in contradistinction to Celyddon, the 
wooded district. Thus the central portion of the coun- 
try, north of the Forth, appears to have been distin- 
guished as Celyddon, and the open country, along the 
eastern coast, as PeitJiw, which terms were Latinized by 
the Romans as Caledonia and Pictavia, occupied in all 
by thirteen clans. 

* ' Peithi and Peith-icyr? says Chalmers, ' are the usual terms for the 
Pictish people in the oldest Welsh poets. On the confines of Wales those 
Britons who threw off their allegiance to their native princes, and set up a 
regulus of their own, or adhered to the Saxons, were called Peithi or Picti. 
Thus a Welsh poet of the seventh century, celebrating " mic (myg) Din- 
bich," " the renown of Denbigh," says, " addowyn gaer ysydd ar glas 
Phicti," a fair town stands on the confines of the Picti. In fact, the 
Welsh, to distinguish the northern from the southern Picti, called the Cale- 
donian Picts by the appellation of Gwyddyl Pichti. The ancient Welsh, by 
applying the terms Brython and Brythonig to the Picts, show that they con- 
sidered them as Britons. From this application of Brython to the Picts, 
we may infer that the earliest of the classic writers, in calling the Picts by 
the name of Britons, merely adopted the British appellation [without know- 
ing its import.] We may here, perhaps, discover the real origin of the term 
Britons, as applied to the most ancient colonists of our island, and not from 
the name of the country, as often is supposed.' 


It must not be forgotten, however, that, though the 
etymology adopted by Chalmers may be the right one, 
the Britanni of South Britain were also occasionally 
'called Caledonii and Picti; and that there was a Sylva 
Caledonia in the vicinity of the Thames.' Martial, who 
lived about the year 94, says, in one of his epigrams : 

' Barbara de Pictis veni bascauda Britannis ; 
Sed me jam mavult dicere Roma suam.'* 

While, in another addressed to Q. Ovidius, going to 
Britain, he speaks of them as the Picti Britanni : 

' Quincte, Caledonios Ovidi visure Britannos.' f 

Florus, his contemporary, in writing of Csesar's second 
invasion, says : ' eosdem rursus Britannos sequtus in 
Caledonias Sylvas.' While Lucan, who wrote before the 
island was explored by the Romans to the north of the 
Brigantes, calls the Southern Britanni Caledonii: 

' Ant vaga cum Thetys, Rutupinaque littora fervent, 
Unda Caledonios fallit turbata Britannos.' J 

Pinkerton does not refer to these authorities, no doubt, 
because they did not accord with his theory. 

* M. Val. Martialis Ep. lib. xiv. ; Ep. xcix, Bascauda. 

t M. Val. Martialis Ep. lib. x. ; Ep. xliv. 

t M. Annaci Lucani Pharsalia, lib. vi. [From a paper in the Transactions 
of tbe Scottish Society of Antiquaries, entitled, ' An Inquiry into the Original 
Inhabitants of Britain,' by Sir James Foulis of Colinton, Bart., written before 
the works of Pinkerton or Chalmers were published.] 


Tacitus, the first Roman classic who describes Scot- 
land, speaks of the Caledonians as the only inhabitants 
of Scotland except the Britanni, the latter of whom were 
located south of the Forth and the Clyde. Dio Cassius 
is the first to mention the Maetae, a word evidently 
Latinized from the Gaelic Magh, a level field, and signi- 
fying inhabitants of the low country. The Maetae 
seem to have occupied the district afterwards given by 
Ptolemy to the Horestii, Vennicones, etc. 

Writers subsequent to Tacitus and Ptolemy puzzle by 
the introduction of new names Picti, Scoti, Attacoti, 
etc. while those of the Maetae, Horestii, etc., wholly 
disappear. With regard to the Picts, most writers are 
agreed as to their being one and the same people with 
the Caledonians. Chalmers, as we have seen, considers 
Picti but another name for Caledonii. So does Pinkerton, 
but the latter brings both the Caledonians and Picts 
from Scandinavia, some centuries before the Christian 
era, while Chalmers believes them to be the aboriginal 

Eumenius, the orator, is the first of the Roman authors 
who speaks of the Picts as a people. In a panegyric on 
Constantius Chlorus, delivered in 296, after his victory 
over Allectus, Eumenius not only alludes to the Picts as 

* Pinkerton adduces no proof, and the fact that no satisfactory trace of a 
Teutonic people is to be found in the map of Ptolemy, together with the cir- 
cumstance of no movement having taken place among the Goths on the Enxine 
at so early a period, seem conclusive against him. 

THE PICTS. ' 39 

then existing, but retrospectively carries them back prior 
to the time of Caesar, whose victories he depreciates in 
comparison with those of Constantius, because the Britons 
whom he attacked were then rude, and accustomed ( only 
to the Picts and Irish as enemies :' * ' Solis Pictis et Hib- 
crnis hostibus olim adsuet fuerint.' No doubt Eumenius 
was substantially correct, though the Picts were not then 
known by that appellation. In another oration, delivered 
in 310, the panegyrist is still more significant as to the 
identity of the Caledonians and Picts : ( Non dico Cale- 
donum, aliorumque Pictorum, silvas, et paludes.' Eu- 
menius, however, was a rhetorician, and not the best 
authority for historical facts. All that can be safely 
adduced from Eumenius is, that the Caledonians and 
Picts were then the leading tribes in Scotland. 

Ammianus Marcellinus repeatedly mentions the Cale- 
donians and Picts. In 360 he speaks of the invasion of 
the Eoman provinces by those wild nations the Scots 
and Picts : ' Scotorum Pictorurnque, gentium ferarum ; ' 
and again of the Picti, ' Saxouesque,f et Scoti, et Atta- 
coti,' as harassing the Britanni with incessant attacks. 

* Pinkerton had some trouble in rendering this passage properly, which he 
only accomplished by the aid of the Nuremberg edition of the Panegyrists in 

t If Kemble, in his ' Saxons in England,' is correct, that the Saxons were 
in England long before the time of Hengist and Horsa, the opinion of a writer 
in the Penny Cyclopcedla, ' that the Scotti or Scottii, mentioned in these two 
passages, were, in all probability, not yet inhabitants of any part of Britain 
'any more than were the Saxons,' falls to the ground. 


In his annals of the year 368, where he relates the 
actions of the Emperor Constans (A.D. 337-350) he says 
he had described, as well as he could, the situation of 
Britain,* and that it was now only necessary to observe, 
that at that tfaie the Picts were divided into two nations, 
the Dicaledonce and Vecturiones : ( Illud tamen sufficiet, 
quod es tempore Picti in duas gentes divisi, Dicaledones et 
Vecturiones, itidemque Attacoti, bellicosa hominum natio, 
et Scoti per diversa vagantes, multa populabantur.' 
1 Let this suffice to be said, that at this time the Picts, 
divided into two nations, the Dicaledonse and Vectur 
iones, as also the Attacots, a warlike nation, and the 
Scots, wandering diverse ways, ravaged many parts.'f 

That the Picts were thus known to historians, as com- 
posed of two divisions or nations, is beyond question; 
and it seems equally positive, from the few glimpses of 
their language that remain, that they were, originally 
at least, Celtic, but of the British or later colony, though 
there may have been a considerable intermixture with 
the original Gael towards the interior and westerly, so 

* This passage is unfortunately lost. 

f The Dicaledones occur in no other work save that of Marcellinus. The 
Vecturiones, however, are mentioned by Richard of Cirencester. The Picts 
were known to the Saxon chroniclers as the Northern and Southern Picts. 
According to Grant, in his ' Scottish Gael,' Duchaoilldaoin, in the Gaelic, sig- 
nifies the real or genuine inhabitants of the woods ; and Vecturiones, pro- 
nounced Uachtarich, the inhabitants of the cleared country. Druim-Uachtar 
is the name of the ridge of hills from whence the country descends to the 
level plains. Pinkerton derives Vecturione from Yickverior, the Icelandic for 
Pehtar or Ficts. 

THE PICTS. ' 41 

that a shade of difference may have existed between the 
Dicaledones and Vecturiones from an early period, 
which subsequent circumstances and events may have 
considerably augmented. Bede, one of the earliest of 
our historians, brings the Picts from Scythia. His story 
of their arriving in Ireland first, where they found the 
Scots, who directed them to Scotland, is fabulous in the 
extreme ; but there can be little doubt that Bede wrote 
from tradition, and however absurd tradition may be in 
detail, there is universally some foundation for its aver- 
ments. And so in this case. If it is a correct suppo- 
sition and it is supported by topography as well as the 
Welsh Triads, (some of which are confessedly older than 
Bede's history) that Britain and Ireland were peopled 
by successive tribes, all of the Cumraic race, at different 
intervals, it is quite possible that Bede may be right in 
the main fact. The Picts might belong to the second or 
third nation of the Cimbri who gained the British shore, 
or possibly to a still later. History sufficiently attests 
the migratory and warlike spirit of the Cimerians, and 
of their being gradually expelled or circumscribed by 
the Goths and their descendants. According to Greek 
authority, a greatly diminished body of the Cimbri were 
in the peninsula of Holstein, or Scythia, early in the 
first century of the Christian era. Hence Bede may be 
right. ' If the Welsh, who have always called them- 
selves Cimbri, are the Cimbri of the ancient Cimbri 


Chersonese, now Jutland, this lineage would account 
for the Scandinavian or northern origin assigned to the 
Picts by the uniform testimony of the Saxon, the Irish, 
and the Icelandic annalists.' * 

Pinkerton', in his hypothesis, brings the Picts from 
Scythia, or Scandinavia from Piteafi an ancient pro- 
vince of Sweden ; but while he affirms that they were 
Goths, he produces no satisfactory evidence that they 
spoke anything else than a dialect of the Celtic. It is 
at the same time probable that there was amongst them 
a sufficient number of Scandinavian auxiliaries to justify 
the opinion of Tacitus that the Caledonians, from their 
large limbs and fair complexion, were Germans. 


Chalmers successfully demonstrates that the Scots 
were not a foreign colony, as asserted by our fabulous 
historians, and by Pinkerton, who avers that they were 
the Belgae-Gothic adventurers, who lost their Teutonic 
language while* sojourning in Ireland, but preserved 
their lineage from Celtic contagion ! J He differs in 
opinion, however, from Chalmers, as to their first settle- 

* Athenamm. f From Pitea he derives Plot or Peh. 

J The Belgse or Firbolg, the Tuath de Danan, the Damnii tribes of the 
latter of whom were to be found in all the three kingdoms and the Cruithne, 
independent of the Scotl, formed the leading nations in Ireland. 

THE SCOTS. ' 43 

ment in Scotland, agreeing with Bede, and other con- 
current authorities, that the Attacoti whom he believes 
to have been Scots * were in Scotland about 258 ; and 
that the second took place in 503-4, the era assigned by 
Chalmers and others for the first. Though the latter is 
now the prevailing and almost settled opinion, yet we do 
not see that it is at all conclusive or satisfactory ; and in 
a question where there are conflicting statements, and 
evident misconceptions, the whole circumstances, and 
the palpable signification of events, ought to be taken 
into consideration. 

The Scots were not aborigines of Ireland, for they do 
not appear in the map of Ptolemy, though they are 
noticed in later times by Richard of Cirencester,| as 
occupying a corner of the north of Ireland. Yet Ire- 
land, and the 'gens Hibernorum,' were well known to 
the ancient world, long before the Scoti appeared in 
history4 The Hibernians, properly so called, were a 
distinct nation from the * gens Scotorum ' of subsequent 
writers. In the year 81, immediately after the battle of 
the Grampians, the fleet of Agricola sailed round the 

* From the British ad, to or near; but the derivation is somewhat fanciful. 

t Richard is considered spurious by some. He at least adapts his topo- 
graphical details retrospectively to history, and is therefore of much less 
authority than Ptolemy, who represented matters as they existed in his own 

J Festus Avienus, about 400 years B C., states that Britain was visited by 
Carthagenian voyagers, and that the Albiones occupied the larger island, and 
the gens Hibernorum the smaller. 


north of Scotland, and satisfied that accomplished gene- 
ral that Britain was not a continent. That the Roman 
chief was well acquainted with Ireland and the Irish^ 
appears from Tacitus, who, writing of his father-in-law,* 
says, t Saepe ex eo audivi, Legione una et modicis 
auxiliis debellari obtinerique Hiberniam posse; which is 
to this purpose, that he had heard Agricola often say, 
that with one single legion, and a few auxiliaries, the 
whole country of Ireland might be conquered and kept.' 
Now, as Gordon f further observes, from remains dug up 
in connection with the wall of Antoninus, it appears that 
it required not less than five or six legions, besides 
auxiliaries, to drive back the Caledonians from the 
Romanized portions of Scotland. The Scoti, who after- 
wards, in conjunction with the Picts, gave so much 
trouble to the Roman armies sometimes defeating 
them must have been a very different people from the 
native inhabitants of Ireland. We do not repeat the 
argument of Gordon here for the purpose of disparaging 
the national courage of the Irish, believing that the dis- 
tinction drawn by the Roman general referred to their 
want of unity more than to any deficiency in warlike 
skill or prowess. 

Although Tacitus had pretty authentic information 
regarding Britain and its affairs, considerable ignorance 

* Agricola. f Gordon's ' Itinerarium Septentrionale.' 


on the subject seeins to have prevailed amongst Roman 
writers at a later period. The historians of the cam- 
paign of Severus, undertaken in the year 200, for 
example, 'mistakingly suppose that the victorious ruler 
of the Roman world came into Britain without any pre- 
vious knowledge of its domestic affairs, or its geographical 
state. They wrote like annalists who knew nothing of 
the commencement of the British story ; either of what 
had certainly passed before, or what was to follow after 
the Emperor's exertions. They did not know that the 
coast of Britain had been explored by the Roman fleet 
under Agricola ; that he had traversed the territories of 
the Ottadini, Gadeni, Selgovae, Novantes, and Damnii, 
who, as they resided within the Friths, submitted wholly 
to his power : neither did the classic writers advert to the 
fact, that Lollius Urbicus had built the wall of Antonine 
seventy years before ; and had carried roads and estab- 
lished stations from the wall to the Varas, both which 
remained during thirty years, the envied memorials of 
his skill, and the certain monuments of the Roman 
authority. They probably intended to raise the fame of 
Severus, by supposing him ignorant of what undoubtedly 
he must have known.'* Such is the severe but just 
comment of Chalmers himself; and yet it is chiefly on 
the geographical intimations of these ignorant or inten- 

* Chalmers' Caledonia. 


tionally disingenuous historians, that he and others found 
their conviction, that Ireland was the first and sole Scotia 
of the Scots. 

Eumenius, who notices the Picts in 297, mentions the 
Hibernii without allusion to the Scots. Porphyry, his 
contemporary, however, *a scholar and a geographer,' 
as Chalmers observes, speaks of them as the Scotia; 
gentes' the Scottish nation of the Britannic world thus 
showing that the Scots were as early known as the Picts. 
None of the earlier writers amongst the classics say one 
word of the Scots. It is thus evident that they were 
unknown, by the name of Scoti, until the close of the 
third century. Indeed, 'all the old writers of Ireland, 
from St Patrick to the twelfth century, justify the infer- 
ence that these Scots were a comparatively recent tribe. 
They seem to have been the dominant, because the con- 
quering caste. The Saint himself, in his Confessio a 
piece indisputably authentic everywhere draws a dis- 
tinction between them and the Hiberionaces, or the old 
inhabitants. In t\\e fifth century they had not given their 
name to the whole island, but only to the regions in which 
they were settled.' * So says the Editor of the A thenceitm ; 
and yet this people, who had not given their name to 
their adopted country in the fifth century, are so re- 
peatedly mentioned, in conjunction with the Picts, by 

* Athenseum, ]S37. 


the Roman authors, from the close of the third century 
downwards, that it would appear as if they were one 
people waging war against the spoilers of their common 
country ; while it is admitted by the most sceptic that 
they had finally settled in Scotland, at the latest, in 
503-4 ! 

With tlfe Roman annalists the term Caledonii came 
to be almost wholly superseded by those of Scoti and Picti. 
Ammianus, in 360, speaks of them as forming one army ; 
nay, as of one country. His words are, as given and 
translated by Pinkerton : l In Britanniis cum Scotorum 
Pictorumque, gentium ferarum, excursus, Vupta quieta, 
condicta loca limitibus vicina vastarent : In Britain, when 
the excursions of the Scots and Picts, fierce nations, 
having broken the peace, ravaged the appointed grounds, 
next to the boundaries,' etc. Now, these f appointed 
grounds,' as Pinkerton observes, l were surely those of the 
future province of Valentia,' beyond the boundary wall 
of Antonine, between the Clyde and Forth ; and if so, 
the Scots and Picts must have made their attack from 
the north by land, in a thoroughly united manner, as 
friends and allies. This is the first mention of the Scots 
by any Roman author, and they are spoken of as ( im- 
mediate and present' in Britain not retrospective, 
410 years previously, as the Hibernii are by Eumenius. 
Yet Chalmers disregards the historian's implied meaning, 
while he leans upon the very questionable authority of 


the poet Claudian, from one of whose panegyrics he 
quotes a few ambiguous lines in support of the theory, 
that Ireland, and not Scotland, was the proper home of 
the Scots : * 

' Totum cum Scotus Hibernem movit ; 
Scotorum cumulos flevit glacialis Jerne.' 

Which he renders thus : 

' When the Scots all Ireland raov'd ; 
O'er heaps of Scots, whom icy Ireland wept. 1 

Strange to say, Chalmers has been guilty of an inter- 
polation accidental or intentional of the poet's text, 
which perhaps conveys a more marked intimation of the 
locality of the Scots than he desiderated. The passage is 
from <De Quarto Consulatu Honorii Augusti Panegyris,'f 
and is as follows : 

' Ille Caledoniis posuit qui castra priunis, 
Qui medios Libyae sub casside pertulit aestus, 
Terribilis manro, debellatorque Britanni 
Litoris, ac pariter Boreje vastator et Austri. 
Quid rigor asternus Cli ? Quid sidera prosunt ? 
Ignotumque fretum ? Maduerunt Saxone fuso 
Orcades * incaluit Pictorum sanguine Thule : 
Scotorum cumulos flevit glacialis Jerne.' 

There is no such line as : 

'Totum cum Scotus Hibernem movit.' 

* In this Chalmers follows Buchanan, partially quoting the same passage, 
t 2G-33, Amsterdam edition, 1CG5. 

THE SCOTS. . 49 

Although it occurs in another passage, thus : 

Movit, et infesta spumavit remige Tithys.'* 

The expression, { When the Scots all Ireland moved,' is 
evidently more significant of an intruding than a resident 
people. But it is probable that Claudian, who was a 
poet, and no geographer, had only a confused notion that 
such places as he mentions did exist, but where, or in 
what relation to one another, he was uncertain. The 
editor of the edition of Claudian already referred to, 
Heinsius, in a note to the passage, remarks that the 
Scots were to be found both in Scotland and Ireland, 
which possibly was the precise state of the matter. 

Chalmers also cites Orosius, who says that ' Igberia, 

* Whitaker was the first, amongst the more recent writers on the subject, 
to quote these two passages. On the faith that the poet really understood 
his own language, Sir James Fonlis of Colinton, Bart., in an article on the 
' Origin of the Name of the Scottish Nation' (1780), in the first vol. of ' The 
Transactions of the Society of the Antiquaries of Scotland,' remarks that it 
is absolutely necessary to suppose that the Romans invaded Ireland, to make 
sense of the passage ; and as this was notoriously not the case, he infers that 
Claudian meant the water of Erne, in Strath-Erne,' which the Romans 
could meet with in the first day's march beyond their own walls, and which it 
was necessary for them to pass, to enable them to carry their hostilities farther 
north ; and which, on that account, would be strongly defended by the 
assembled Caledonians. In a subsequent paper, Sir James Foulis suggests 
the probability that the Jerne of Claudian may be the Juberna of Juvenal 
who possibly alludes to Agricola's fifth campaign, when he attacked that part 
of Scotland opposite to Ireland, and traversed these shores northward. Be 
this as it may, Jerne could not possibly mean Ireland, as the Romans never 
were there. 


which we call Scotland, is surrounded on every side by 
the ocean.' But what does Bede say ? Speaking of the 
inroads of the Scots and Picts upon the Roman province, 
during the reign of Honorius, he remarks : ' After which 
the country -groaned many years under the oppression of 
two transmarine nations, viz., the Scots from the west, 
and the Picts from the north. We call them, says Bede, 
transmarine, or foreign nations, not that they are seated 
out of Britain, but because they are separated from the 
south part thereof by two interjacent firths or arms of 
the sea, one from the eastern ocean, the other from the 
western, which do not meet. The firth, towards the east, 
has the town Guidi * placed on the side of it, near the 
middle of the country ; the other, towards the west, has 
on it the town of Alcluith, which, in the language of 
the country, imports the rock of Cluith, for it lies close 
by the river of that name.' f 

If it must be admitted that Claudian really understood 
what he was speaking about, we should be strongly 
inclined to support the view adopted by Sibbald, in his 
' History of Fife and Kinross.' He was of opinion that, 
by Tliule, Claudian meant the country possessed by the 
Picts beyond the Clyde and Forth : 

' The Orcades were moist with Saxon gore, 
Warm with the blood of Picts flowed Thule's shore ; 

* Supposed by Pinkerton to be Inch Keith. 
t Gordon's ' Itinerarium Septentrionale.' 

THE SCOTS. . 51 

And whilst its head each Scotchman's tomb uprears, 
Icy Juverua all dissolves in tears.' 

This is the only sense in which the passage can be 
rendered intelligible. The Saxons or Northmen of the 
Orkneys, the Picts of Pictland, north of the Forth, and 
the Scots of Argyle, to the mountains of which the term 
' Icy Juverna' might well be applied. This also is in 
keeping with the passage from Bede, already quoted, in 
which he calls the Scots and Picts a transmarine people.* 

Chalmers quotes numerous passages from the researches 
of Camden in support of the hypothesis that Ireland was 
the proper country of the Scots ; but it would be easy to 
multiply authorities, from the same source as Camden 
has drawn upon, in support of the opposite view. From 
the context of Ammianus, when he states that, in the 
reign of Yalentinian, anno. 364, the Saxons confederated 
with the northerly Britons, committing great devastations 
on the southerly Britons, it is evident he meant the Scots 
and Picts.f His words are, 'Picti, Saxonesque, et Scoti, 
et Attacoti, Britannos serumnis vexavere continuis:' 
' the Picts, arid Saxons, and Scots, and Attacots vexed 
the Britons with continual harassments.' 

In the passage already quoted, under the head of the 

* One thing is clear from Claudian, and it is worthy of remark, viz., that 
when he wrote, about 360, the Picts of Thule were considered a distinct 
people from the Saxons, or Northmen, of the Orkneys, and therefore could 
not have been of Gtrman or Scandinavian origin, as alleged by Pinkerton. 
t Gordon's ' Itinerarium.' 


PICTS (p. 40), in reference to the two divisions of that 
nation, Amraianus clearly speaks of the Scots as if they 
were equally of Britain as the Picts or Attacoti : { Iti- 
demque Attacoti, bellicosa hominum natio, et Scoti 
per diversa vagantes, multa populabantur.' There is no 
intimation here that the Scots were Hibernii, or from 
Ireland. All the difference inferable is, that they were 
more erratic and predatory than the Picts and Attacoti. 
Referring to the same author, Gordon, in his ( Itiner- 
arium,' says, ' I would have them [the advocates of the 
first advent of the Scots from Ireland in 503-4] consider 
if Ammianus Marcellinus, speaking of the Scoti and 
Attacoti, about the year 369, really means Scots or 
Irish ; or, if speaking of Theodosius' battles with them 
in Britain, and taking from them the country which is 
between Tine and the firth of Edinburgh, calling it 
Valentia; I may as well ask them if Valentia be in 
Ireland, or in Britain ; for I think it equally absurd to 
assert that the inhabitants of that country were Irishmen, 
as that Valentia itself is Ireland. For it plainly appears 
from Ammianus, that Theodosius possessed himself of 
that country, which he took from the inhabitants thereof; 
and this Bede and Ado both explain and prove, by ac- 
knowledging that the Scots were the native inhabitants 
there as far as the wall.' As Gordon farther remarks, the 
Picts as well as the Scots are spoken of as transmarine, 
and he pertinently asks were the Picts also Irish ? 

THE SCOTS. . 53 

The idea that the Scots were non-resident in Scotland 
was probably first drawn from a passage in Gildas,* 
which Gordon thus quotes and explains : ' Romanis ad 
suos remeantibus emergunt certatim de curucis, quibus sunt 
trans Scytliicam vallem evecti; 1 which is in effect, that 
the Romans returning out of Britain, the Scots and Picts 
came over the Scythian valley in curraghs. ... It 
seems very clear that it [the Scythian valley] could be no 
other than the firth of Edinburgh, for the words Scythicaf 
and Scotica are so much alike that they have often been 
confounded one with another, of which several examples 
might be given ; and the water of Forth lying so low, 
with respect to the coast of Fife and the Lothians, which 
bounded it on each side, makes their terming its channel a 
valley not so very absurd an image as some may ima- 

Tacitus may also be referred to as an authority that 
the Scots were inhabitants of Britain at the time he 
wrote. Indeed, the whole chain of history, during the 
Roman and Caledonian wars, infer the fact that the Scots 
as well as the Picts were resident in Scotland. Bede 

* Gildas, the first British writer, was a native of Strathclyde born, in 
520, at Dumbarton. His father, Cannus, or Navus, king of Strathclyde, 
was succeeded by his son, Hoel. Gildas wrote about 560. He must have 
Lad a thorough topographical knowledge of the country. 

t It seems probable that the resemblance between these two words has 
originated the whole story of the Scots coming from Scythia. Our early 
writers troubled themselves little with derivations. 


crowns the argument by positively stating, that the Scots 
were settled in Scotland before the Christian era; that 
the Attacoti were in Scotland in the year 258, and that 
they were expelled by the Picts about the year 440. 
Had they been so recently settled as 503, he could 
hardly have been ignorant of an event which occurred 
only one hundred and fifty years before he lived.* 

It is thus apparent that there are authorities on both 
sides of the question ; and it is worthy of remark, that it 
is not till after the fourth century after their alleged 
expulsion from Scotland, and when they had become 
converted to Christianity that the inhabitants of Ire- 
land are called indiscriminately by certain writers Hi- 
bernii and Scoti, which Chalmers supposes they did in the 
belief that they were the same people. This may have 
been the case, in so far as a common Celtic origin is con- 
cerned ; but the uniform impression conveyed by the 
writings of St Patrick himself a Strathclyde Briton 
is that the Scots were a superior caste to the native Hi- 
bernii. Chalmers himself, in another passage, seems to 
have some misgivings on the subject : ' From all my 
inquiries/ he says, l it appears to me that no permanent 
colonization of north Britian by the Scoto-Irish people 
began till the recent period of the sixth century.' He 
thus qualifies the point at issue by the word permanent ; 

* Bede ceased to write about 735. 

THE SCOTS. . 55 

because it must have been to him a matter of doubt 
whether the incursions of the Scots into the Romanized 
territories could have been so systematically and effec- 
tively made, if the Scots were under the necessity of 
crossing the Irish channel in their tiny curraghs on every 
occasion. They neither could have brought sufficient 
provisions to support their armies, nor carried back the 
spoil of the provinces, if this had been the case ; and no 
one has yet attempted to show that the Scots were a 
marine nation, possessed of anything in the form of a 
ship larger than a piece of wicker-work covered with 
hides.* It is apparent also that the Scots had some 
common interest in the country, as well as the Picts, 
which prompted them in their steady endeavours to drive 
out the Roman invaders. 

It is impossible to believe with Chalmers on the 
poetical authority of Claudian that the Scots were the 
ruling people in Ireland during the Roman period. They 
were not known at all to the Latin historians till the 
latter part of the third century, and between that time 
and their alleged first settlement in Kintyre, in 5034, 
little more than 200 years had elapsed, during which 
period they were chiefly, if not solely, remarkable for 
their hostile invasions of the Romans and Romanized 

* As Gordon remarks, if the Scots had not been at least temporarily set- 
tled in Scotland, the Romans, with a small fleet, might easily have cut off 
their communication. 


Britons. There can be no doubt, at the same time, that 
the Scots had a settlement in the north of Ireland, and 
that they were a prominent people there in the fifth cen- 
tury, when they were converted to Christianity chiefly 
through the-preaching of St Patrick. In Ptolemy's map 
of Scotland, Kintyre is occupied by the Epidii ; but in 
that of Richard, the Attacoti (or hither Scots*) are found 
spread over a considerable portion of the western High- 
lands. The etymology of Scot has been derived from 
Scuite, or Sguit, a Gaelic word signifying scattered or 
wand erers, f and Chalmers has adopted this etymology, in 
the belief of their singular disposition to adventure, and 

* Pinkerton, amongst others, adopts this interpretation. According to 
Bede, the Attacoti settled or were to be found in Scotland as early as 258. 
Pinkerton, with a considerable array of circumstantial evidence, insists that 
this was the era of Fin MacCowall (or Fingal), the original hero of Ossian's 
Poems, and who is mentioned by Wyntoun. 

t Sceot, a shield, has also been assigned as the origin of the word ; but it 
canuot be shown that the use of the shield was peculiar to the Scots. Pin- 
kerton argues strongly for the Scythic derivation of Scot. But if this was 
the case, why were not the Picts, a purer Cythic people, called Scots ? The 
Belgte of Ireland, if German at all, were a mixed race of Germans and 
Gauls the Celtic blood apparently predominating. Granting Pinkerton's 
position, that the Scots were the Firbolg, or Belgse, this would account for 
the mixture of Gothic words found in the Celtic which fact convinces the 
editor of the Athenceum that the Highlanders are Goths ! as if no inter- 
change of language could possibly ensue from their subsequent intercourse 
with a Gothic people in Scotland itself! Put Pinkerton adduces no proper 
evidence that the Belga; of Ireland really did come from Belgium while the 
name by which they are alone known in the Irish annals, Firbholg, literally 
signifies, in Gaelic, the ancient Irish, or men of the quiver. They are never 
spoken of as Scots. 


that they were aboriginals, appearing, like the Picts, 
by a new name. Richard, as quoted by Pinkerton, 
gives unintentionally strong support to our view of 
the derivation. He says, * In Hiberniam commugrarunt 
ejecti a Belgis Britones ibique sedes posuerunt, ex illo 
terapore Scoti appellati.' 

Pinkerton quoted Richard with the view of sup- 
porting his averment that the Scots were a Teutonic 
people ; but Chalmers parried this thrust by insisting 
that the Belgae were Celts as well from etymology as the 
language still spoken by their descendants. Richard, 
however, is perhaps more to be relied upon as a geo- 
grapher than a historian, and his statement in this case 
is worthy of notice because it points to the traditional or 
historical fact that, whether Belgge or not, a body of 
people driven from Britain to Ireland, assumed in time 
the name of Scots. 

From the close proximity of the west of Scotland and 
the north of Ireland, it may be supposed that an early 
intercourse was maintained between the two coasts long 
before there were annalists in Ulster, or anywhere else ; 
and it is highly probable that, on the success of the Ro- 
man arms, many fled from Scotland to Ireland. It is 
known from the Irish annals, that Ulladh or Ulster, the 
nearest land in Ireland to Scotland, was occupied by the 
Cruithne, the Gaelic or Irish name for the Picts, from 
which it is to be inferred that they were originally a co- 



lony of Caledonians or Picts.* Indeed this may be 
considered a settled matter. But whether the Cruithne, 
or North Britons, had been settled in Ireland prior to the 
Eoman invasion, may admit of question. They are not 
noticed, at all events, in the map of Ptolemy ; conse- 
quently the inference is that they were not. 

With regard to the settlement of the Scots in Argyle 
in 503-4, which Chalmers and others hold to have been 
their first, but Pinkerton and the old historians the 
second, the statement of the Irish annalists is to this 
effect: In the middle of the third century, f Cormac 
being the king of Ireland^ Cairbre-Riada, his cousin 
and general, conquered a district from the Cruithne in 

* This is countenanced by the fact of the Scots of Galloway a colony of 
the Cruithne of Ulster, who settled there in the eighth century being fre- 
quently styled Picts by our old historians. At the battle of the Standard, 
in 1138, the men of Galloway claimed the right of leading the attack 
in virtue probably of their ancient Pictish descent and their war-cry 
was, ' Albanich ! Allanich !' evidently pointing to their Caledonian origin. 
Richard of Hexham, and other contemporary writers, positively state that the 
Picts claimed the first place in the Scottish army as their prescriptive right. 
Cruithne- Tuath, as shown by Chalmers, is the old Irish name for the country 
of the Picts, and Ciyiithne-Tuath signifies North Britain. This is borrowed 
from the British Brythin, the Irish, according to the idiom of the language, 
substituting the initial c for b. 

t Precisely the period when the Scots first appear in history. As before 
stated, Bede dates the Attacoti settlement in Scotland in 258. The coinci- 
dence is worthy of remark. 

J It may be noticed here, that Ireland was divided into numerous clan- 
ships or kingdoms, and that the sovereign of Ireland, according to Celtic 
custom, was elective so that the supreme power never rested permanently 
in any one of the royal branches. Cormac could only be king pro tempore. 


the north-east corner of Ireland, which was afterwards 
occupied by him and his followers, and called Dalriada, 
the portion of Riada* Loarn, Fergus, and Angus were 
the three sons of Ere, the descendant of Cairbre-Riada, 
who led over the colony of Dalriadini, and who took 
possession of Kintyre about 503.f The subsequent wars 
between the Cruithne and the Dalriada people who 
remained in Ireland, under Olchu, the brother of Ere, 
is said to have led to much intercourse between the 
coasts of Ireland and Scotland ; and some suppose that 
this was the era in which the Fingalian warriors of 
Ossian flourished. 

The Dalriadini were not known to the Irish annalists 
by the name of Scots, and therefore could not in their 
writings give that name to the land of their adoption. 
On the contrary, Argyle was for ages afterwards known 
as Dalriada, the residence of the Dalriadini.J It is evi- 

* According to another interpretation of this Gaelic word, it means the 
clear or redd field, in contradistinction to the woody or uncleared district. 
Riada may therefore have been a local name. 

t It must be obvious to every one that this small body of Dalriadini never 
could have constituted the hordes of Scots who continued to harass the Roman 
provinces in conjunction with the Picts, from the close of the third century 
down to the departure of the Romans in the beginning of the fifth. They 
are not even called Scots by the Irish annalists. 

J The kingdom of Dalriada was limited to the district now forming the 
modern county of Argyle. There they remained more than three hundred 
years, during which period, according to all the old authorities, the rest of 
the island north of the Firth and Clyde formed the country of the Picts. who 
were divided into northern and southern Picts. 


dent, therefore, that they were not the Scottish nation 
so repeatedly spoken of by the Roman classics, although 
they may have formed a tribe or clan of the Scots, locally 
known as the Dalriadini. Neither could Ireland have 
properly be'en called Scotia, nor the Scots in Ireland 
the ruling people, as Chalmers asserts, otherwise it 
would have been designated Scotia still. Because neither 
the king or kings of Ireland, nor the bulk of the people, 
ever made such an exodus as to transfer the name and 
characteristics of the one country to the other. The 
great body of the people, and their royal leaders, remained 
in Ireland ; and if ever known generally and accurately 
as the Scottish nation, Ireland would have been Scotland 
still.* Loarn, Fergus, and Angus were not leading men 
in Ireland. They were descendants of Eiada, wiio was 
cousin and general to Cormac the Irish king, and chiefs, 
no doubt, of the Dalriadini, but as such were not entitled 
to carry with them the nationality of Ireland.f 

* It is chiefly in the writings of ecclesiastics, and in the correspondence 
with the Roman See, that the confusion in the names of the respective coun- 
tries occurs. Nor is this surprising. The first propagators of Christianity 
in this country were of the Scoto-Irish church ; and it is now universally 
admitted that St Patrick himself was a Scotsman. 

f If Ireland had heen the sole Scotia, and the Scots the predominant 
people in Ireland, how comes it that the Dalriadian branch was enabled to do 
this leaving, as they were, a large and fertile land, over which they held 
sway, to settle in a mountainous and rugged corner of a comparatively barren 
country ? The thing is inexplicable : hence we must be cautious in ad- 
mitting testimony so much opposed to common sense. The annals of Ulster, 
upon which the Dalriadian episode chiefly rests, is but a fragment of local 


The Irish annals inform us that the Dalriadini were 
of the Firbolg, but throw no light on the origin of the 
tribe. We are therefore left to conjecture at will. But, 
from whatever source, it is evident they were of Celtic, 
not of Gothic, descent. It is possible even that they 
may have been of the Cruithne, though they were at war 
with their kinsfolk, a circumstance by no means uncom- 
mon among British clans. The ancient bards of Ireland 
expressly affirm that the Scots were of Scythian or 
Scandinavian origin, in contradistinction to the true 
Milesian race of Ireland. If we are correct in believing 
that the Britons were a later colony of the Cimbri than 
the original Celts from Gaul, and that the Caledonians, 
or Picts, were of that later stock, and that they found 
their way to Scotland through the medium of Scythia, 
then the Irish bards were justified in the origin attributed 
to the Scots, although it is just as likely that the idea of 
their Scythic origin was derived from Scot, and not Scot 
from Scythia, as we have previously hinted. 

If the Scots were not a foreign colony, and we think 

history, without beginning or conclusion, 'and written many centuries after 
the early occurrences which it records had happened. Scotland was usually 
called Albyn by the natives Dalriadians as well as Picts till the eleventh 
century. Alfred of England was the first to apply the term Scotland, about 
the middle of the tenth century, and it is uncertain, from the contest, 
whether he meant Ireland or Scotland. Ireland was unknown to her own 
annalists by the name of Scotia or Scotland. She was only so designated by 
foreign writers, chiefly ecclesiastics, and by them partly in ignorance, and 
partly because the Scots were the main support of the Irish church. 


the fact already established, from their language and 
other circumstances, there seems only one way of ac- 
counting for them, namely, that they were aboriginal 
inhabitants of North Britain, driven from their possessions 
by Agricola' ) who over-ran the country as far as the 
Grampians, and who was the first to erect a barrier, 
extending from the Firth of Clyde to the Forth, where 
the wall of Antoninus was subsequently built. It is 
absurd to suppose that the whole, or anything like the 
whole, of the low-country Britons remained under the 
dominion of the Romans. The idea is contrary to the 
known history and principles of the Celtic nations. That 
the north, and especially the west Highlands, and even 
the north of Ireland, became crowded with exiles after- 
wards known in their retaliatory wars in conjunction 
with their countrymen, the Picts as the Scots, or 
Scuitif the dispersed* appears to be a very rational 
solution of the difficulty. 

The whole procedure of the Scots as recorded in 
the Roman classics coincides with this view of their 
origin, and with no other that has yet been proposed. 
They are not found in Ptolemy's maps either of Scotland 
or Ireland, nor indeed could they be known at that 
period ; for, although driven out by Agricola, who was 

* The dispersed would apply equally to their position, as inhabitants of 
the headlands and islands of the West Highlands, as to their having been 
driven from their native districts. 

THE SCOTS. . 63 

recalled in the year 85, it was not till the middle of next 
century that active operations were resumed, under Lo- 
lius Urbicus, against the Caledonian nations ; nor is it 
to be supposed that the Scots (or the Scattered) should 
attract notice as a distinct body, until they had become, 
in some measure, organised and numerous by succes- 
sive augmentations. Hence it is that they are not 
mentioned by the Roman historians till the middle of 
the third century; from which period, it is apparent, 
they gradually increase in importance, until, according 
to Chalmers' rendering of Claudian, 'they moved all 

That the small colony under Loarn, Fergus, and 
Angus were the first of the Scottish nation in Scotland 
those warlike and numerous people, who so often con- 
tended, and frequently with success, against the Roman 
arms or that they were even of the indigenous race of 
those Hibernii whom Agricola boasted he could have con- 
quered and held in subjection by a single legion and 
auxiliaries, is equally absurd and historically inconsistent. 
At the same time, of the fact that they became associated 
with the founders of the Scottish monarchy,* there seems 
no reason to doubt, though it may be difficult to explain 
satisfactorily how this occurred ; but it is clear that the 

* Or possibly the restorers, according to our old but now usually esteemed 
fabulous historians. Pinkerton produces good authority for the expulsion of 
tiie Scots in 440. 


settlement of the Dalriadini in Argyleshire was a peace- 
ful one amongst a kindred people.* 

Thus we hold the conclusion arrived at by Chalmers 
and others as to the first settlement of the Scots in 
Scotland in- 503-4, to be not only questionable, but alto- 
gether erroneous : 

1. Bede, although we do not place much reliance upon 

* From the history of Dalriada, as preserved by the Irish annalists, it ap- 
pears that from nearly the commencement of the reign of Angus MacFergus 
(in 731), who was a Southern Pict, there were frequent wars between the 
Southern Picts and the Dalriadians. Piukerton asserts that ' the old Scots, 
or Dalriads, far from being the conquerors of the Piks in 843, had been 
themselves subdued by the Piks in 739, according to the annals of Tighernac 
and Ulster, the most authentic Irish documents ; and which certainly favour 
the Dalriads more than the Piks, as the former were from Ireland. That 
the kingdom of Dalriada, upon its conquest by the Piks in 739, vanishes 
from history, and dwindles into nullity; which could never have been the 
case had it grown into power, so as in 843 to vanquish the Piks. That 
Kenneth, noted in our fables as conqueror of the Piks, was real and imme- 
diate king of those very Piks, whom we dream that he conquered. That the 
modern name of Scots, and Scotland, unknown for the people and country of 
North Britain till the year 1010 or 1020 [?], did not arise at all from the 
Dalriads, or old British Scots of Beda ; who, on the contrary, had lest the 
name of Scots for some centuries before, and were called Gatheli and Uiber- 
mnses, as terms of special distinction, from the modern SCOTI, a name given 
to the Piks by later Celtic writers, as being Scythes, or Goths, as were also 
the old Scoti of Ireland.' There is much truth in this, though somewhat 
warmly stated. It is impossible to tell, as Pinkerton says, who Kenneth's 
grandfather was, and still more difficult to show that he was purely of the 
Dalriadian race. He is absurd, however, as to the etymology of the Scottish 
name. If the ' old Scoti of Ireland ' of whom were the Dalriads, according 
to his view were Goths, and ' the modern Scoti' or Picks, were also Goths, 
where lies his distinction, or where his authority for the statement that Scot 
was a modern name ? As already remarked, Alfred was the first, so far as 
known, to apply the term Scotland. 


his statement in this instance, affirms that the Scots were 
in Scotland before the Christian era. 

2. If the Attacoti were Scots, as Pinkerton and others 
suppose, it is certain, from Bede and other authorities, 
that they were settled in Argyle and Dumbarton shires, 
where Richard has topographically placed them, about 
the year 258. 

3. That the Scots were not of the Belga?, if the Belg9B 
were Goths from whom Pinkerton and others derive 
them because their language was Celtic and not Teu- 
tonic, and had none of the refinement and knowledge of 
the arts which has been attributed to that people : that 
the Belga? are known only in Irish history as the Firbolg, 
which classic scholars derive from vir-Belgici, Belgians, 
but which is just as likely, if not more so, to be pure 
Celtic, signifying men of the quiver : that the Menapii 
occupy that part of the south of Ireland (Wexford) in 
the map of Ptolemy which is afterwards given to the 
Belgas without any substantial reason ;* and lastly, be- 
cause, if the Belgse, or Firbolg, were the progenitors of the 
Scots of Britain, the topography of the country shows 
that they did not speak the same dialect of the Celtic 
language as their descendants. In the word inver, in 
place of aber, Chalmers found a proof of the Scoto-Irish 
overlaying the British topography in Scotland. Now, it 

* As Chalmers observes, the Menapii of Ireland were probably from South 
"Wales, where the town of Menapia, is placed by Richard. 


happens that there are only six invers in all Ireland, and 
Jive of these are to be found in the north of Ireland, the 
land of the Cruithne and Dalriadini* If Laogaire (not 
Leogairef) the first Christian king of Ireland, was a 
Scotsman and a Goth according to Pinkerton it is 
curious that his name was not perpetuated among the 
Scots in Scotland. 

4. That, as already shown, the Scots are mentioned 
by Porphyry as early as the Picts are by Eumenius 
(297), in connection with the affairs of Caledonia; and 
from that period down to the time of Orosius, in the 
fifth century, they are repeatedly alluded to by Am- 
mianus Marcellinus without the slightest indication that 
they were of or belonging to Ireland. That before and 
during this long period, upwards of a century, Ililernia 
and the Irish are frequently mentioned by the Eoman 
historians ; from which it is to be inferred that the Scots 
and the Hibernii were a distinct people. 

5. That even Orosius, who was a Spanish ecclesiastic, 
is not the best authority in a question of geography ; for 
Bede, who wrote only two centuries later, speaks of the 

* It is a curious fact, that there are few Bah in Scotland, compared with 
Ireland ; and it is still more remarkable, that they are almost wholly to be 
found in the north-east of Scotland, and in Ayrshire and Galloway, the land 
of the Picts. 

f Pinkerton writes it Leogaire, so that he might, with a greater show of 
reason, derive it from the German Leofgard, 'a keeper of love;' but it is 
probably from the Gaelic noun Laoc?t, signifying a champion. 

THE SCOTS. . 67 

Scots and Pipts as a transmarine people ; but, be this as 
it may, Orosius is the first authority for associating the 
name of Scot, or Scotia, with Ireland. That granting 
Orosius to be worthy of credit, the coincidence is striking: 
the Scots were driven from Scotland, according to Bede 
and other old authors, supported by Pinkerton, early in 
the fifth century. 

6. That the proofs adduced by Camden, and urged by 
Chalmers, identifying Ireland as the Scotia of ancient 
times, are from authorities subsequent to Orosius, and, 
like him, chiefly ecclesiastics, who continued to write of 
the Scoticce gentes in Ireland long after the return of the 
Dalriadini, or royal branch, to Argyleshire in 503-4, and 
when to do so had become a solecism. 

7. That, in the Ulster annals, Ireland is always spoken 
of as Hilernia, never as Scotia, even before the depar- 
ture of the Dalriadians from Kintyre. Alluding to the 
ravages of the Northmen, in 797, the Annals, as trans- 
lated from the Irish, say briefly, ( Spoils of the see, 
between Ireland and Scotland, by the gentiles.' . . 830. 
' Diarmaid came into Ireland, with Columcille's reliques,' 
etc.,* thus showing that the Irish annalist was well 
aware of the proper distinction between the two coun- 
tries as early as the eighth century, while Pinkerton 
and his followers aver that Ireland continued to be 

* Scotland is thus distinguished by the Irish annalists even before the time 
of Alfred. 


called Scotland from the fourth down to .the eleventh 

8. That whatever distant ecclesiastics, such as the 
authorities adduced by Camden, might write, in refer- 
ence to the Scots and Scotia of Ireland, it is clear that 
the Irish, who knew better, never called themselves Scots, 
or the country Scotia. St Patrick, in his correspondence, 
always speaks of the Scots in Ireland as a different 
people from the native Irish ; and it is well known that 
St Patrick had his principal residence at Armagh, in 
the north of Ireland, the province of the Cruithne and 

9. That Pinkerton upon whose authorities miscel- 
laneous writers of the present day chiefly rest in his 
anxiety to prove that Ireland was the Scotland of the 
learned down to the eleventh century, has collected a 
curious medley of confusion and contradiction. For ex- 
ample, in reference to the ninth century, he quotes the 
monk of St Gall, who says of Clemens and Albinus, 
founders of the University of Paris, ' Contigit duos Scotas 

de Hibernia, cum mercatoribus Brittanisis* ad littus Gal- 

lice devenise, viros et in see secularibm et in sacris scrip- 
turis, incomparabiliter eruditos : It happened that two 
Scots of Ireland came to the French coast, with British 
merchants; these men were incomparably skilled both in 
secular and sacred letters.' Here the monk of St Gall 
assuredly proves the contrary to what Pinkerton intended, 

THE SCOTS. ' 69 

viz., that Ireland was known by its own proper name of 
Hibernia in the ninth century, and not by Scotland; 
while the phrase 'Scots of Ireland,' shows that there 
were Scots of some other country. So with Marianus 
Scotus, in the eleventh century, who, speaking of the 
year 686, says, ' Sanctus Kilianus Scotus de Hibernia 
insula, etc. : St Kilian, a Scot of Ireland] etc. Many 
other examples might be pointed out ; but it is needless. 
That Pinkerton is correct in showing that Pictland was 
anciently known as Albyn, before the union of the Scots 
and Picts ; but that he flounders most absurdly in at- 
tempting to prove that the modern names of Scots and 
Scotland are derived from our Pictish forefathers, and 
not from the Scots. His chief countenance in this theory 
is the Descriptio Albania, written, as is supposed, by 
Giraldus, in 1180, from the information of Andrew, 
Bishop of Caithness, who says that Albany was called 
Scotia corrupte (corruptly) that monies qui dividunt 
Sociam ab Arregaithal ' the mountains which divide 
Scotland from Argyle' and that the inhabitants of Ar- 
gyle were Hibernenses, or Irish. If full credence were 
to be given to the Descriptio Albania?, it would prove 
too much for Pinkerton' s purpose, by showing that the 
words Scot and Scotland had their origin in present Scot- 
land, and that the designation of Ireland as Scotia, by 
distant and probably ignorant writers, was entirely a 
misnomer so that Pinkerton virtually opposes Pinkerton, 


and, unintentionally, affords strong support to the views 
of the present writer. There can be little doubt, how- 
ever, that, in whatever way the name originated, it was 
but a continuation or application of the Scotia of Bede 
and other ancient writers ; for history bears no record 
of any new Scoti from whom it could be derived while 
it is certain that the Dalriadini of Argyle were called 
Scoti, and that, after their union with the Picts, the Lia- 
Fail, or coronation stone of the Scots, was removed from 
Dunstaffnage to the capital of the Picts. The statement 
of the Bishop of Caithness, however, is instructive, as 
showing that the people of Scotland in the twelfth cen- 
tury did not consider themselves as the descendants of 
Irishmen, and drew a distinction between the inhabitants 
of Argyleshire and the rest of the Highlands that dis- 
trict being more accessible to influxion from Ireland, and 
more akin to it in dialect and manners than the inhabi- 
tants north and east of Drumalbin. If the Scots of Pin- 
kerton were Picts a Teutonic race, as he insists they 
were how comes it that the Gaelic Duan, from which 
he quotes, was rehearsed at the coronation of Malcolm 
Caenmore by a Gaelic bard? and why was Gaelic the 
court language of a Pictish king, if Gaelic had not been 
the language of the leading people ? 

Thus there is good ground for believing, after all, that 
present Scotland was the original Scotia of the Scots, 
though the north of Ireland, from their temporary resi- 


deuce, and long-continued intercourse with their own 
or a congenerous people there, may have partially appro- 
priated the name for a time. In this way, then, the 
statement of Bede that the Scots came from Ireland can 
be accounted for, as well as the fact of the Gaelic being 
designated the Erse or Irish language. The Seuite, in 
their sojourn in Ireland, must have acquired much of the 
Irish idiom of the Celtic or British tongue. Indeed, it 
is to be supposed that the language of the west of Scot- 
land and of the north of Ireland, from their proximity, 
would necessarily have a greater affinity than that of 
other portions of the country. Hence Chalmers' topo- 
graphic support of the Irish origin of the Scots. He 
finds the Irish Gaelic gradually overlaying the original 
strata of British etymology, from the west, east, north, 
and southward ; but, in his eagerness to support a theory, 
he forgets that most of this may have been of indigenous 
growth, as the fact stands illustrated at the present day 
there being a vast difference between the Gaelic of the 
north-east and west Highlands. Indeed, it is generally 
admitted by Celtic scholars, that the Celtic language has 
been maintained in its greatest purity in the central 
Highlands of Scotland. How could this have happened 
if the Scots had been of purely Irish or Gothic descent ? 
The fact is, that not only the national dress of the Scots, 
which is wholly different from that of ancient or modern 
Ireland, but their arms, and even their language, show 


that they were not derived from the aboriginal settlers 
of Ireland though, of course, of a kindred race. In 
corroboration of this, we have only to refer to Gordon's 
Itinerarium, wherein he describes the figures and inscrip- 
tions on a stone dug out of the ruins of one of the forts 
of Antoninus' wall, between the Forth and Clyde, and 
deposited in the University of Glasgow in 1694: 'At 
the one side is a figure of a man on horseback, holding a 
spear in his right hand, with a shield on his left arm ; 
behind him stands a victory, with a garland ; and upon 
the ground, under his horses' feet, are two Caledonian 
captives sitting, with their hands tied behind their backs. 
At the foot of the one is a pugio, exactly in the form of 
those whingers or dirks, which the Highlanders use to 
this day; between these two captives is plainly to be 
seen the Roman vexillum, or standard ; and on the right 
hand of the inscription is an eagle upon the back of a 
sea-goat, under which is another captive, Jiavrng his 
hands likewise tied behind, and a Caledonian bonnet on 
his head, etc. The arms of the maetae,* who lived next 
the Roman, wall, as described by Herodian, were pre- 
cisely similar to the modern Highland Scot a broad- 
sword and target, and a whinger or dirk.'f 

The sword and target were thus peculiar to the Cale- 
donians, and equally so to the Scots, while the national 

* Cultivators or occupiers of the open country, from magh, a field, 
f This stone is still preserved in the Museum of the College. 


weapons of the Irish were the bow, the javelin, and the 
spear.* Indeed, from the difference in this respect, some 
etymologists, as already stated in a note, have derived 
the origin of the term Scot ; but the term applies to the 
Scythians generally, and therefore is not tenable as re- 
ferring to the Scots in particular. In regard to dress 
alone, that of the Scots is very different from the Irish. 
The tartan, or cloth of various colours, was common, no 
doubt to the Gauls ;f but the belted plaid is discoverable 
amongst no other people than the Scots Highlanders ; 
and the dress is of unquestionable antiquity. The Scots 
and the Caledonians thus agree in dress and armour 
from the earliest times, but differ essentially from the 

With regard to the language, it is not difficult to 
account for the greater affinity between the Irish and 
Scots Gaelic than between the Irish and Welsh, and 

* Recent excavations in Ireland have discovered numerous interesting re- 
mains of bronze weapons some of them swords of gigantic proportions; but 
nothing akin to the broadsword. 

t The Gauls arrayed themselves in showy stuffs, and were fond of bright 
and varied colours ; or else, almost naked, adorned their chests and limbs 
with massive gold chains : 

' Fair golden tresses grace the comely train, 
And every warrior wears a golden chain ; 
Embroidered vests their snowy limbs unfold, 
And their rich robes are all adorned with gold.' 

Virgil's sEnied. 

They also wore trews and striped cloaks, fastened with a buckle, and divided 
into numerous many-coloured squares. The ancient Irish wore pantaloons, 
and a c!oak so fastened. 



why the former are esteemed the older of the three dia- 
lects. The Irish, and no inconsiderable portion of the 
Highlanders of Scotland, were unquestionably of the first 
immigration from Gaul. Michelet, author of a recent 
history ofFrance, derives the Irish, like Pinkerton, from 
the Belga?, whom Julius Caesar somewhat loosely said 
were Germans or Teutons, and not Celts ; but Michelet 
himself supplies the best corroboration of the fact that they 
were Gauls. Gleaning from the ancient authors, he 
describes the Gauls as impulsive, but neither enduring 
nor persevering; fierce in their joys, vast in their hopes, 
and vain. They were, at the same time, brave and 
courageous in the extreme ; never to give way was their 
point of honour. No people held their lives cheaper. 
There were of them who would undertake to die for a 
trifle of money, or a little wine ; would step upon their 
sleeping-places, distribute the wine or money among 
their friends, lie down on their shield, and offer their 
throat to the knife. Their banquets seldom ended with- 
out a fray : the thigh of the animal on the board was 
the right of jthe bravest, and each would he be. Next to 
fighting, their greatest pleasure was to crowd round the 
stranger, seat him among them, whether he liked or not, 
and make him tell them tales of distant lands. They 
were themselves formidable talkers, highly figurative in 
their speech, pompous, and ludicrously grave with their 
gutteral tones ; and it was quite a business in their 


assemblies to secure the speaker from interruption. The 
Gauls were hilarious, but they were also deceitful, and 
broke their word with a jest. "Who does not see in this 
a mirror reflecting the character of the genuine Irish, 
even at this distance of time? Circumstances have 
changed, but not the nature of the Gaul, as developed 
in his modern representative, the Irishman. 

The Gauls, as the first colonists of Britain, naturally 
penetrated to its farthest bounds. They were followed 
by the Cimbri, the ancestors of the modern Welsh, who 
spread not only over England, but the larger portion of 
Scotland the Gauls retiring as they advanced ; and 
thus was constituted the great body of the British people 
on the descent of the Romans.* The Belgag, whom 
Caesar found settled in Kent, are supposed to have been 
a third colony, whose history has become a riddle. The 
Cimbri, though a Celtic and kindred race with the Gauls, 
are said to have been a more sedate people, and more 
under the control of the Druids ; which is so far borne 
out by the fact, that Druidism seems to have prevailed 
to a greater extent in England and Scotland than in 
Ireland. The Gauls professed a more natural religion 
than that taught by the Druids, and led a more unbridled 

* General Wade, in his report on the Highlanders, 1725-6. mentions that 
a tradition existed amongst them that the Lowlands at one time belonged to 
their ancestors, and therefore, as they argued, they had a right to plunder it 
This points backward probably to the era of the Cimbri, or of the Romans. 


We have thus ample reason for the opinion, that the 
Irish and Scots Gaelic is of greater antiquity in the 
names of places in Britain than the Welsh ; and the 
greater purity of the one than the other must be attributed 
to the same cause. We have thus also a key to that 
distinction of character which has all along existed be- 
tween the Irish and Scottish Celts the one being more 
purely Gaulic than the other. 


According to Chalmers, there was no people of a 
Gothic or Teutonic origin in Britain at the departure of 
the Romans in 446, nor in Scotland till the Angles, 
under Ida, defeated the Gadeni and Ottadeni at the 
battle of Catraeth, in 547,* and occupied their country, 
now known as the Lotliians.\ After this defeat, which 
the poet Annuerin attributes to the inebriety of the Otta- 
deni and Gadeiri as much as to the valour of the Saxons, 
the remains of these clans, with the other inhabitants of 
Romanized "V^lentia, formed themselves into a kingdom 

* We have already intimated our belief that numerous Saxons were in 
England prior to the departure of the Romans. 

t Lothian seems to have been divided from Strathclyde by a ditch and 
mud wall, called the Catrail, or Pictswork-ditch, which bounded the posses- 
sions of the British Cumbrians and the Saxon Northumbrians. It extended 
from the river Tweed, near Galashiels, Selkirkshire, towards Yarrow Kirk, 
Delaraine, across Borthwick water and Allan water to Maiden Paps, Rox- 
burghshire, and Pell Fell, on the border. 


called Cumbria,* or Strathclyde, and this kingdom con- 
tinued to maintain its position, with varying success, in 
spite of its numerous enemies, till after the union of the 
Scots and Picts, when it became attached to the Scottish 
crown in 975. 

To the advent of the Saxons in the fifth century, the 
subsequent inroads under Edgar in 828, and the policy 
of the Scottish kings, from Malcolm Caenmore down- 
wards, in settling foreigners in Scotland, Chalmers entirely 
attributes the first introduction of the Teutonic blood 
into Xorth Britain.f He is not consistent with himself, 
however, and the facts do not bear out the conclusion. 

The Saxons of Lothian were totally defeated by the 
Picts at the decisive battle of Dunichen in 685, and had 
their kingdom limited to their possessions south of the 
Tweed. Bede states that the Saxoa people, notwith- 
standing, remained in the Lothians ; but this statement 
could only be partially correct. The Pentland, or Pict- 
land hills, in the vicinity of Edinburgh, constitute a 
topographical evidence that the Picts took possession of 
the Lothians, and became the dominant people there.J 

* From the Cimbri, of whom, as we have shown, they were chiefly de- 

t At a later period he admits that the Northmen made settlements in 
Caithness and Sutherland. But he insists that the Teutons of Buchan are 
the descendants of Flemish settlers in the eleventh century ! 

J The very name of the district, Lothian, as Chalmers himself shows, is 
explainable only in the language of the Northmen Lat-ling, Lolling, or 
Loading, meaning a jurisdiction on the march. 


Pinkerton, indeed, affirms that they extended their power 
over Cumberland, in England. Chalmers admits, on 
the authority of the Saxon Chronicles, that the Picts 
overran Lothian, even to the Tyne, where they were de- 
feated by the Saxons in 710. It is thus conclusive that 
the Picts ruled over Lothian, if not Cumberland, from 
the defeat of the Saxons in 685 till the above year, a 
period of twenty-five years ; and it is certain that the 
Saxons never regained their sway in the Lothians, al- 
though they appear to have held, temporarily, the strong- 
hold of Edurinsburgh (Edinburgh) in 1020, when it was 
formally resigned to the Scottish king. Edgar is said to 
have overran Strathclyde and made settlements in it in 
828, and Athelstane invaded Scotland in 934; but as 
the Strathclyde Britons maintained the independence 
of their kingdom for forty-one years afterwards, it is 
evident that the Saxons had made no very durable im- 
pression. In 970, Culen, king or leader of the Scots 
and Picts, was slain, and his army defeated, by the 
Strathclyde Britons, in JLothian, whither the latter 
marched to meet them a proof, if any were wanting, 
that the Picts actually possessed the Lothians.* The 

* Lothian seems, to some extent, to have been debatable ground. Ed- 
wins-burgh was abandoned by Osulf, the first of the North amber land Earls, 
in 954, and finally acquired by Malcolm II. from Eadulf-Cadel in 1020. 
Still, as Athelstane overran Lothian and spoiled Edinburgh in 934, claiming 
the district as Northumbrian territory, it is obvious that it had previously 
been iu the possession of the Scots and Picts, then united. Chalmers, in- 


Britons were^ in turn, defeated by the Scots and Picts, 
on ' the gory field of Vacornar, where the victor lost 
many a warrior;'* and in 975, immediately afterwards, 
Dumvallon, their heroic leader, retired to Borne, where 
he took the cowl. Strathclyde was now attached to the 
Scottish crown, and the Scots and Picts became mingled 
with the Strathclyde Britons. 

Meanwhile a fresh infusion of Celtic blood had been 
thrown into the ancient district of the Novantes and 
Selgovjc now Galloway by the Cruithne of Ulster, 
who made good a settlement there towards the end of 
the eighth century. The Cruithne in Galloway were 
subsequently recognised by historians under their original 
name of Picti, or the l wild Scots of Galloway,' thus 
evincing that the Cruithne of Ireland and the Scots 
were one people. At the battle of the Standard, their 
war-cry was Albanich! Albanich! farther attesting their 
descent from the old Caledonians.f 

It was the design of Chalmers to show that when the 

deed, shows, from the topography of the district, that the Saxons had no 
permanent possessions farther north than tfee Avon. Lothian comprehended 
the present Lothians, the Merse, and Roxburghshire, north of the Tweed. 

* Caledonia. Innes. 

t Some crotchety inquirers argue that the Scots first descended to the 
Lowlands from Argyle, and that Caledonia, or Pictavia proper, remained 
unmixed with Scottish blood. But this is absurd. The famous stone of 
the Scots now in Westminster Abbey evinces their route. It was 
carried from Kin tyre to Dunstaffnage, next to lona, and from thence re- 
n'-.oved by Kenneth to Scone. That monarch died at Forteviot, the Pictish 


whole of Scotland became united under the Scottish 
dynasty, the people were purely Celtic, and that the pre- 
vailing, if not the only languages, were the Gaelic and 
British. In proof of this he adduces the fact that the 
Gaelic Duan was produced in the reign of Malcolm, and 
that the English settlers were wholly expelled by the 
Scots under his successor, Donald Bane, in 1093 ; while 
even so late as the reign of William the Lion (1165- 
1214), the English were confined to the towns. 

Thus, according to Chalmers, no Teutonic settlement 
took place in Scotland save that of the Saxons in 
Lothian, whose supremacy was short-lived until the 
eleventh century; the introduction of a Teutonic race 
and language being referable alone to the Anglo-Saxon 
colonization of Scotland, which occurred chiefly during 
the reign of David I. That king had long previously 
been Prince of Cumbria, which embraced the whole of 
the Strathclyde kingdom ; and he married, says Chal- 
mers, an English countess, and was followed successively 

capital, in 859. The bardic inscription on the stone (translated) is as 
follows : , 

' Except old seers do fain, 

And wizard wits be blind; 
The Scots in peace must reign, 
Where they this stone shall find.' 

The Scottish crown never had a residence south of the Forth, with the excep- 
tion of Stirling and Edinburgh, which were merely fortresses, until David 
became Prince of Cumbria, and resided at Cadzow Castle, near Hamilton, 
and occasionally at Carlisle. 


by a thousand Anglo-Normans, who obtained grants of 
land in various quarters of the country. 

No doubt the conquest of England by William the 
Norman in 1066, introduced a vast change in the policy 
of the Scottish kings. Malcolm and his successors saw 
the necessity of adopting or extending the feudal system* 
introduced into England by the Conqueror, if they hoped 
to preserve the independence of their crown or kingdom. 
Their own Celtic subjects were opposed to innovation ; 
hence the countenance shown to those disaffected Anglo- 
Normans who sought protection in Scotland. Yet great 
as the infusion of Norman blood was at this period, we do 
not see that it is sufficient to account for the rapid spread 
of the Anglo-Saxon language. If Gaelic was universal 
in Scotland in 1093, when the Saxons were wholly ex- 
pelled, it seems impossible that the Anglo-Saxon could 
have become the vernacular of the greater portion of the 
country in the course of next century much less the 
medium of that inimitable body of lyric poetry by which 
Scotland is distinguished, and which undoubtedly ex- 
isted to a greater or less extent about the period in 
question. The Normans and their followers spoke 
French the degraded and enslaved Saxons alone spoke 
English. It was Norman, not Saxon innovations that 
were courted by the Scottish kings. They saw that 

* Some maintain that the system existed in Scotland previously. 


neither the Celtic nor the Saxon polity was capable of 
maintaining itself in the vicinity of Norman enterprise 
and centralization ; hence their undeviating attempts not 
only to extend the feudal system of the Normans, but their 
mode of warfare and weapons, as well as that spirit of 
chivalry which had recently sprung up in Europe, and 
which the Normans were the first to call forth in Eng- 
land. It is much to the credit of Malcolm Caenmore and 
his immediate successors, that they so early saw the neces- 
sity of supplanting the patriarchal government of the 
Celts by a system more in keeping with the spirit and pro- 
gress of the age ; and the arduous nature of the task which 
they undertook may be inferred from the fact, that it was 
not fully completed till the clans were disbanded in 1746. 
It is absurd to suppose that Scotland became Saxon- 
ized by these innovations. The colonists of whom Chal- 
mers speaks were as a drop in the bucket. They came 
not as conquerors, but in many cases as fugitives, flying 
from the vengeance of the conqueror ; and, though 
kindly received, were not in a position to impose either 
their laws or their language on the natives. As already 
observed, they were chiefly Normans, or descendants of 
the Danes, a kindred people,* who occupied almost ex- 

* The Normans were of Norwegian origin. William tlie Conqueror was 
the fifth in descent from Rollo, thane of the Orkneys, who conquered Nor- 
mandy from France. One of the earliest and greatest colonisers of Scotland, 
according to Chalmers, was Hugh Morville, from Burg, in Cumberland. Burg 
is purely Norwegian. 


clusively the counties of Suffolk, Norfolk, Lincoln, and 
York. The vernacular of the Scottish Lowlands could 
not originate with the Normans, however much the 
Anglo-Danes may have contributed to its growth. Nei- 
ther could it with the Flemings, who spoke a wholly 
different dialect of the Teutonic. These men of trade 
and manufactures were invited to England as well as 
Scotland, and encouraged in both kingdoms for the sake 
of the arts which they taught : but they speedily became 
amalgamated with the great body of the people in speech 
as well as in blood.* 

That Saxon customs were not introduced by our re- 
forming monarchs in the wholesale manner inculcated 
by Chalmers, is apparent even from his own book. The 
laws, which began to assume a form and consistency in 
the reign of David I., if not earlier, were based on the 

* The formidable array of charters by which Chalmers supports his theory 
of ' Saxon colonization,' looks powerful on paper, but that is all. The Celtic 
population were opposed to charters; hence, the acceptors of them were 
chiefly foreigners, as were also, as a matter of course, the parties by whom 
they were witnessed. Without keeping this fact in view, the student of 
Scottish history, in consulting the early cartularies, would be apt to imagine 
that the country was wholly occupied by foreigners. The native chiefs and 
their clans do not appear in these documents, for the reason already stated ; 
but that they existed, and kept possession of their lands, in numerous 
cases, in defiance of charters, is undeniable. The chartered magnates, 
scattered over various districts, were at first chiefly superiors, and only 
succeeded, in most instances, after many generations, in assuming actual 
possession of the soil. Even although overlords of this description had been 
planted in every division or sub-division of Scotland, they could have little 
effect in changing either the blood or the language of the country. 


Scottish common law, long previously in existence, and 
anglicised only in so far as the introduction of the feudal 
system rendered it necessary. In dividing the country 
into shires, which began about this time, certain terms, 
such as sheriff and sheriffdom, were borrowed from the 
Anglo-Norman law-books; but, as Chalmers himself 
observes, ' we find no such divisions as the Saxon rapes, 
laths, tithings, and hundreds' It is obvious that what 
our monarchs aimed at was an imitation of the Anglo- 
Norman system, based upon the ancient immunities of 
the people a proof of which exists in the fact that most 
of the Scottish law terms are derived from the British or 

That the Britons of Scotland the ancient and original 
Picts were the same as the Britons of England, if it 
ever were doubted, may be inferred from the great simi- 
larity between the laws of the Welsh and those of the 
Lowland Scots. Among the Welsh, as preserved in 
long adhered-to customs, the king was not hereditary, but 
in some measure elected. The nomination generally lay 
with the reigning monarch. Under the sovereign ranked 
the uchelwrs, or great men, who held their land from the 
crown, each presiding as an overlord over his respective 
domains. t As immediate tenants of the king, they 
were obliged to perform certain services. Some held 

* See Chalmers" Caled., vol. I., p. 446, etc. 


their lands by the tenure of personal attendance on the 
king's court ; but the majority retained their estates by 
the gwaeth milwyr, or military service, being bound, on 
summons, to attend their sovereign with a certain num- 
ber of men in arms, and follow him to the wars ; to aid 
in the repair of the royal castles ; and were also assessed 
with certain stated rents, payable in money or in kind.' 
The great body of the people was composed of two 
classes the uchehcrs, the first class, holding their lands at 
discretion, and possessing the power of buying and sell- 
ing, etc. The other class, caeths, were the property of 
the lord, attached to the soil ; but subject, like the chiefs, 
to military attendance in time of war, and to contribu- 
tions in money and kind. Lands descended to all men 
equally; the youngest son divided them, and the portions 
were then chosen according to seniority. The king was 
the ultimate heir of all lands, where the owner left none. 
The king could alter the laws at pleasure. Julius Caesar 
lends support to the existence of this system in describing 
the Druids : ( The Druids do not commonly engage in 
war, neither do they pay taxes like the rest of the com- 
munity ; they enjoy an exemption from military service, 
and freedom from all other public burdens.' 

TVho does not see in this outline of the ancient British 
constitution the remains of l the customs of the Scots and 
BretsJ which Edward I., in 1305, ordained, in his attempt 
at the settlement of Scotland, should ' for the future be 


prohibited V The right of property, upon the part of the 
lord, or tenant of the crown, in the tenantry, is to be 
traced in charters down to modern times, as well as in 
the law of mercheta, which prevailed among the north as 
well as the south Britons.* 

The customs of the Scots, or Gaels, were somewhat 
different from those of the Britons ; and in this we find 
a strong evidence of the fact already adduced, that the 
Irish and Scots were chiefly of the original colony from 
Gaul, arid retained the customs of a pastoral life the 
patriarchal in greater purity. The Cimbri, or second 
colony, on the contrary, had become more artificial, and 
more subject to the control of the Druids. By attending 
to this distinction we can account for the difference 
which we know did exist betwixt the Welsh and Irish, 
and which the ordinance of Edward I. shows still pre- 
vailed amongst the kindred people of Scotland in the 
thirteenth century. It is only by observing minute 
points of this kind that the truth of remote history is to 
be established. The Pictish form of monarchy was elec- 
tive from amongst a royal race the offspring of the 
female being preferred. 

The battle of the Standard, in 1138, has been often 
referred to by inquirers, as affording certain landmarks 

* For example, tlie charter granted by Robert tlie Bruce, in 1314, to Sir 
Walter, the son of Sir Gilbert Hamilton, of the barony of Cadzow, included 
also ' the tenendry of Adelwood,' etc. 


as to the state of the Scottish kingdom in the early part 
of the reign of David I. Some idea of the people who 
occupied Scotland at the time may be formed from the 
various divisions of his army, which was composed as 
follows : 

1st Division Gallovidians. 

2d Division Men-at-arms from Cumberland and Teviotdale. 
3d Division Lothianmen, Islanders and Lennoxmen. 
4th Division Pure Scots and Mnrraymen. 

Under the first division not only the native warriors of 
Galloway proper must have been included, but those of 
Ayrshire and Dumfries Galloway of old comprehending 
both these modern divisions. They were therefore a 
kindred Celtic people. 

The second division was composed of Norman settlers, 
men-at-arms, (mailed warriors), and the spearmen of 
Cumberland and Teviotdale a mixture of Normans, 
Danes, Scots, arid Picts. 

The third division comprised the men of Lothian, of 
Clydesdale, which then included Renfrewshire (the La- 
vernfyj and islanders (west Highlands), forming a body 
composed of the central inhabitants of the kingdom, and 
with whom the islanders could be best associated topo- 

The fourth division plainly points to the pure Scots of 
the Highlands, north of the Forth, and the Murray/men, 


the men occupying the extensive plains on the north- 
east coast who, it would thus appear, were not pure 
Scots, and of course a mixed race. 

The army of David I. at this time, we thus see, was 
not wholly composed of Celts. The Anglo-Normans 
and the mixed men of Murray, with probably a slight 
sprinkling of Saxon blood in the Lothians, were decided 
exceptions.* Indeed the charters of this monarch amply 
show the various races over whom he held sway. Not 
only were Galloway and Ayrshire Celtic, but the greater 
part of Nithsdale was held by Donegal of Stranith; and 
from the names of places in the other border counties, it 
is apparent that they were, or had been, extensively 
occupied by the Scoto-Irish of Chalmers. In the words 
of one of David's charters, when Prince of Cumbria, 
there were amongst his subjects 'Francis, Angles, Scotis, 
Walensibus et Galwiensibus,' etc., i. e. Normans, (who 
spoke French) ; English, (Dano-Saxons) ; Britons, and 
Galloway-men. David's princedom included Northum- 
berland, Cumberland, and Westmorland the seat of the 

* The English historians are so contradictory in their designations of the 
Galvregians ' Picti, Scoti, Gahcenses, et Loenensis,' etc., as to call forth a 
very pertinent remark from Lord Hailes : ' This strange contrariety,' says 
his lordship, ' ought to teach us that the English historians are no certain 
guides for ascertaining the denominations of the different tribes who inha- 
bited Scotland in ancient times; an observation so very obvious has not been 
attended to by our antiquaries.' If the English historians, living so near at 
hand, are not trustworthy, how much less so ought to be those of Rome, or 
the ecclesiastics of Spain ? 


Anglo-Danes (English) ; the French were his new Nor- 
man subjects, the Scots, (the Scoto-Irish), the British, 
or Walensibus, the inhabitants of Strathclyde, and the 
Galwegians, or Cruithne of Galloway. The successor 
of David, Malcolm IV., in 1164, addressed his writ, De 
Decimis Solvendis, to the Normans, the English, the 
Scots, and the Welsh, living within the diocese of Glas- 
gow. So did his successor, William the Lion. 

Thus have we a pretty clear view of the various races 
subject to the Scottish crown in the beginning and 
throughout the twelfth century from which it must be 
apparent that the introduction of a Gothic people and 
language could not have flowed, to any perceptible ex- 
tent, from Saxon England. 


With the historical records of the reign of David I. 
before us, we shall retrace our steps, and endeavour to 
account for the introduction of a Gothic people and lan- 
guage upon a broader basis than Chalmers has done. 

That. the Northmen the Scandinavians of Norway, 
Sweden, and Denmark, had early intercourse with this 
country amicable or warlike is unquestionable.* Ac- 
cording to Norwegian history, the Northmen are of Scy- 

* Authentic Norwegian records carry this intercourse back to the eighth 
century, but it must have existed much earlier. 


thian origin, and supposed to have settled on the Euxine 
about 2000 years before the Christian era. From thence 
they peopled Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, which be- 
came the Scandinavia of ancient history. 

'Bede,-' says Pinkerton, 'tells us in positive and direct 
terms, that the Picts were from Scythia, which every one 
knows means German-Scythia, or Scandinavia. Bede 
wrote in 731, and is as good an authority for the origin 
of the Picts as of the Scots or the Saxons. He also says 
that there were in his time five tongues in this island 
(Britain), English, British, Scottish, Pictish, Latin/ 
(book Latin, not spoken Latin.) He was right, so far, 
as we have shown, in reference to the Scots; and he 
may not be wrong, in the same degree, in regard to the 
Picts. We are satisfied, as already indicated, that the 
Picts were originally Celtic. Indeed, Chalmers and 
other writers have proved that the names of their kings 
are chiefly significant in the British language ;* and the 
topographical etymology of the country is confirmative of 
the fact; but that Bede was justified in his statement 
may be presumed, not only from the probability of the 
Picts having been a colony of the Cimbri from Jutland, 
but from a succession of truly Scandinavian colonists at 
a later period. Pinkerton settles the Picts in the Hebrides 

* Jamieson, in his introduction to the Scottish Dictionary, endeavours to 
show that they are equally significant in the Gothic. He is not, however, 
very successful. 


300 years before our era, and on the mainland, north of 
Tyne and Tay, a century later : but this is mere conjec- 

If the Dicaledonce were the genuine Caledonians, in 
opposition to the Vecturiones, it would seem to imply 
that the latter were either originally a distinct people, 
or had become a mixed race by subsequent immigration. 
If a distinct people, they must have been still Celtic, 
from their language, which is known to have been simi- 
lar to the Welsh. ' One Pictish word only has been 
expressly mentioned by any old writer. Pcenvahel, Bede 
tells us, was the Pictish name of the place at which the 
wall of Antoninus terminated on the Forth, and which, 
Nenius says, was called in Welsh Pengaaul, and in 
Scotch Caenail. It is still, in fact, known by the name 
of Kinneil) Cen or Caen is the Irish or Gaelic word for 
a head, and Cenail, in that dialect, would mean the head 
of the wall ; and that is also the signification of the Welsh 
name, with which the Welsh is evidently identical, and 
generally it appears that the ancient names of places in 
those parts formerly occupied by the Picts are Welsh, 
as was long ago pointed out by Carnden, and has since 
been more fully established by Chalmers.* On the other 
hand, it is remarkable that the most ancient names of 

* In Angus and the north-east countries, where the Picts were longest 
established, the popular speech is still characterised by the substitution of/* 
for ID wh or gw. 


places in Wales are not Welsh, but Irish. This was 
stated by Humphrey Lloyd, nearly three centuries ago, 
and is, we believe, generally admitted by Welsh anti- 
quaries.'* This led Camden to the opinion that the 
Welsh were a remnant of the Picts, who had supervened 
upon a people speaking the same dialect as the Irish and 

Of the Pictish language, if Teutonic, Pinkerton could 
give no example; but Chalmers adduces a quotation 
from Merlinus Caledonius, who was born on the north of 
the Clyde, and flourished about 5GO, which is British 
arguing therefrom that the Picts were Britons. It is 
possible, however, that when Bede wrote, more than two 
hundred years afterwards, the language of the Picts had 
undergone a considerable change, from the admixture of 
northern words ; and thus he may have been, to a certain 
extent, right in designating the Pictish as a distinct lan- 
guage or dialect. 

To trace the influx of a people topographically, as 
Chalmers has done, is not always satisfactory. The 
names of peaces given by the first inhabitants are rarely 
changed, even by a conquering and wholly distinct race 
of invaders. Yet, tried by this standard, the coasts of 
Caithness, Sutherland, and Moray exhibit an instructive 
number of Teutonic names as, for example, Scoon, 

* Athenaum. 


(Norway, Skonland;) Hope, (Hoop;) Almond, (Almund 
and Almand;) Anstruilier, (Haldum, Struer ;) W earns 
(Wyn), etc.* 

There is a class of antiquities, too, which evidently 
point to some such people having at one time occupied 
the north-eastern peninsula of Scotland. These are the 
remains, some of them very entire, of a peculiar kind of 
castle, or stronghold, mostly of a conical shape, and built 
of stone without cement. They are to be found chiefly 
in the Shetland Isles, Orkneys, the counties of Suther- 
land, Ross, Inverness, Aberdeen, etc. A writer in the 
^ew Statistical Account of Scotland says he has visited 
the ruins of not less than 65 round towers in Sutherland 
alone. At Kirkwall, these Picts' houses, as they are 
called, measure from 50 to 100 feet in diameter. Of 
four of these, which anciently stood in the valley of 
Glenelg, Inverness-shire, Gordon in his Itinerarium gives 
the following account of the most entire : 

' On the outside were no windows, nor were the mate- 
rials of this castle any ways different from those of the 
other, already described, only the entry on the outside 
was somewhat larger ; but this might be occasioned by 
the falling of the stones from above. The area of this 
makes a complete circle, and there are four doors in the 
inner wall, which face the four cardinal points of the 

* See Piukerton, vol. I., p. 152.. etc. 


compass ; the doors are each eight feet and a half high, 
and five feet wide, and lead from the area into the cavity 
between the two walls, which runs round the whole 
building. The perpendicular height of this fabric is 
exactly thirty-three feet; the thickness of both walls, 
including the cavity between, no more than twelve feet, 
and the cavity itself hardly wide enough for two men to 
walk abreast; the external circumference is 178 feet. 
The whole height of the fabric is divided into four parts 
or stories, separated from each other by thin floorings of 
flat stones, which knit the two walls together, and run 
quite round the building ; and there have been winding- 
stairs of the same flat stones, ascending betwixt wall and 
wall up to the top. The undermost partition is somewhat 
below the surface of the ground, and is the widest ; .the 
others grow narrower by degrees, till the walls close at 
the top ; over each door are some square windows, in a 
direct line above each other, for the admission of light, 
and between every row of windows are three others, in 
the uppermost story, rising above a cornice which pro- 
jects out frcrm within the inner wall, and runs round the 
fabric.' Gordon, who supposes these buildings to have 
been ancient places of strength, has preserved a tradi- 
tional rhyme, in Gaelic, to the effect that the four castles 
were built by a mother for her four sons : 

' My four sons, a fair clan, 
I left on the strath of one glen ; 


My Malcolm, my lovely Choncl, 
My Tellve, my Troddan.' 

The tradition has evidently little reference to the history 
of the strongholds, and is valueless, unless, probably, as 
preserving the names of the castles. 

Gordon mentions the existence of six similar towers at 
Glendunin, Easter-Fairn, in Ross-shire, and two or three 
in ' my Lord Ray's country, one of which goes by the 
name of Dornadilla! 's Castle.' After describing Dim 
Dornadilla) the reverend correspondent of Mr Pennant, 
in his letters illustrative of Antiquities in the North of 
Scotland, gives the following rhyme from the Gaelic 
regarding it : 

' Seven miles from ocean, in the cheerful dale, 
Basks the large tower where Dornadilla reigns ; 
From thence, when war or civil feuds prevail, 
The warriors pour into the Caithness plains.' 

Dornadilla, according to tradition, was a chief or king.* 
In Caithness, the circular buildings are not so entire 
as in Sutherland ; but there are numerous remains of 
castles of a later era, such as Aldwick, Guernigo^ Freswick, 
etc., all British or Scandinavian from their names. 

* Dornadilla is reckoned by Buchanan to have begun his reign 260 years 
before Christ. 

t This castle is supposed to derive its name from the Carnabii or Carnavii, a 
tribe who inhabited a portion of Caithness, in the time of Ptolemy. A simi- 
lar tribe occupied Cornwall at the same era, which circumstance is held as 
furnishing additional evidence that the Picts were chiefly British originally. 


If these ancient and peculiar fabrics were the construc- 
tion of the Northmen and it is evident that they were 
not built by the Celtic nations, for nothing of the kind 
is to be found in any other part of the country peculiar 
to the Britons or Scots it is rather a singular coinci- 
dence that the Picts are invariably represented by tradi- 
tion as the builders of all the ancient edifices in the 
country. If the Picts were the builders of these castles, 
it is evident that, however the Pictish nation arose, their 
numbers had been largely augmented by Scandinavian 
colonists, with whom they became blended.* 

Of the first intercourse between the Caledonians and 
the Northmen, we have no record. Richard of Ciren- 
cester mentions the arrival of a colony of Picts from the 
Orkneys in the reign of Hadrian; and Claudian, in the 
passage formerly referred to, speaks of the Orkneys as 
inhabited by the Saxons, and Thule by the Picts : 

' Maduerunt Saxone fuso 

Orcades ; incaluit Pictorum sanguine Thule.' 

By the Saxon^- of Orkney, Claudian, if he is to be held 
at all worthy of credit, must have meant the Northmen, 
who certainly were a kindred people. If so, they were 
in possession of Orkney about 370, the period alluded to 
by the poet. The earliest recorded expedition of the 

* Similar remains of stone buildings are found in Norway. 


Northmen to the Scottish islands appears to have been 
undertaken in consequence of some prior connection ; 
and Chalmers himself, quoting from Adomnan's Life of 
St Patrick, proves that the Orkneys were settled by 
Scandinavians in the days of Columba, who found one 
of their chiefs at the residence of Bridii, the Pictish 

If the Pictish language was originally similar to the 
ancient British or Welsh, a dialect of the Celtic and 
we see no reason to doubt the fact it must have become 
unintelligible to the Scoto-Irish, and possibly so through 
the infusion of the Norwegian tongue. This is proved 
by the circumstance that Columba, who was an Irish 
Scot, and spoke Gaelic, was obliged to employ an inter- 
preter when he addressed the Picts. Although Mr 
Skene, in his ( Highlanders of Scotland,' attempts to 
conceal or deny this fact the more effectively to support 
his theory that the Highlanders are the descendants of 
the ancient Picts yet the statement of Adomnan is so 
clear on the point, in more than one passage, that it can- 
not be set aside. For example : ( Per interpretatorem 
sancto' predicante viro,' the holy man preached by the 
aid of an interpreter. There was, then, a marked dis- 

* We agree with Pinkerton and Jamieson in opinion, that the Orkneys 
were originally occupied by the Scandinavians. The stone monuments that 
remain are not so obviously Celtic as Chalmers would have us to suppose, and 
the topography of the islands is wholly against him. 


tinction between the language of the Scots and Picts. 
' The language which St Columba used is still extant 
both in MSS. and printed books : the language used in 
the Highlands to this day, and for some generations 
back, is nearly identical with it. What then can we 
infer, but that the modern Highlanders are the descen- 
dants, not of the Picts, but of the Scots.* 

At the same time, as remarked by Dr Geddes, the 
difference was perhaps merely provincial not greater 
than that 'between the Erse of Arran and that of Uist;' 
in illustration of which he says : l The Aberdeen bre- 
viary commemorates, on the 24th of August, a saint 
Erchad, born at Kincardine, in Mearns, (confessedly a 
part of the Pictish kingdom), who, going to Rome, was 
consecrated Bishop of the Scottish nation ; and on his 
return passed through the provinces of the Britons and 
Scots, preaching the word of God, until he came to the 
place of his nativity. That is, as I conceive it, he 
preached to all the Celtic inhabitants in his mother- 
tongue ; but not to the Saxons, whose language he did 
not understand.' This is probably drawing the inference 
in too one-sided a sense. Because he did not pass through 
the provinces of the Saxons, it does not follow that he 
understood not the Saxon tongue ; while his having been 
born a Pict, and in communication with the Scots, may 

* Athenaeum, 


have enabled him to understand the Scottish Celtic, 
though Columba, an Irish Scot, may not have been 
equally acquainted with the Pictish.* 

Odin, 'the Mars as well as the Mohammed of Scan- 
dinavia,' is supposed by Torfaeus, as well as Storne Stur- 
lesen, the historians of Norway ? to have existed about 
the middle of the century before Christianity; so that 
the Northmen were in ample time to have effected a 
partial settlement in Scotland before the Roman inva- 
sion. Tacitus, it is well known, describes the Caledo- 
nians as of German origin, from their fair complexion 
and largeness of stature : * Namque rutilss Caledoniam 
habitantium comae, magni artus, Germanicam origiuem 

The Danes first appear in history, as the ravagers of 
the three kingdoms, in the eighth century. In 787 they 
plundered Lindisfarrie, and conquered Northumberland 
in 793 ; and, as is well known, became the supreme race 
for a time in England. A great portion of the country, 
termed the Dane Law, was permanently settled and 
held by them. ' The known coasts of the Irish sea,' says 

* As remarked by Dr Geddes, there are about one hundred saints in the 
Scottish calendar, three oiAy of whom are Saxon, and these three posterior 
to the ninth century. 

t Bede was inclined to believe that the Picts were not the original inha- 
bitants. The Catini, one of the tribes mentioned by Ptolemy as inhabiting 
part of Caithness, and from whom the district is named, have a tradition 
amongst them to this day that they came from Germany. The inference 
is, that they were of the same Gothic stock as the Northmen. 


Chalmers, l and the obvious shores of the Clyde, were 
overran, in 870 A.D., by the Danish Yikinger, who 
roved in the ocean, and sought for plunder in every 
clime. The same adventurers, sallying out from Nor- 
thumberland in 875 A.D., wasted Galloway and overran 
Strathclyde, a kindred country. The Northumbrian 
Saxons [Anglo-Danes] having thus invaded the penin- 
sula, [formed by the Irish Sea, the Solway, and the 
Clyde,] retained the ascendancy, which their superiority 
of character, for enterprise and union, more than their 
greatness of numbers, had given them during the two 
subsequent centuries.'* 

Tradition universally affirms that the Picts were driven 
out of the country by the overspreading Scots, but tradi- 
tion is scouted in this particular by modem inquirers. 
It must be recollected, at the same time, that the Forth 
and Clyde were the southern limits of Scotland proper 
prior to 975.f The reguli of the Scots gradually 

* This fact is unsubstantiated, and not borne out by circumstances. The 
kingdom of Strathclyde remained unsubdued till 975, and therefore could not 
have been under .the ascendancy of the Northumbrians from 875 ; while, 
according to Chalmers' own showing, the Saxons were wholly expelled the 
kingdom by Donald Bane in 1093. But Chalmers is not always consistent 
in his statements and deductions. Had he lived to complete and revise his 
valuable work, the case, we daresay, would have been otherwise. 

t This explains the passage in the Saxon Chronicle, quoted as inexplicable 
by Lord Hailes, to the effect that Malcolm III., (1091,) 'advanced with his 
forces out of Scotland, into Lothene in England, and there remained.' Lord 
Hailes was much puzzled by this statement, and in vain sought for a Lothian 
in present England, by which to unriddle the mystery. The fact plainly is, 


extended from Dunstaffnage to Scone, and southwards 
to Dunferuiline, where Malcolm Caenmore is understood 
chiefly to have held his court. It is perfectly probable, 
therefore, that the Southern Picts for it is a historical 
fact, that the Northern Picts were in League with the 
Scots may have been to some extent expelled from 
proper Scotland, and driven into Strathctyde or the 
adjacent islands. It is said by the Norwegian historians 
that many of the Picts took refuge in Scandinavia, and 
by their representations, induced their countrymen to 
renewed invasions of Scotland. 

The supremacy of the Scots was consummated in 843. 
In 850, according to Torfaeus, a Norwegian squadron 
was fitted out under the command of Sigurdus, son to 
Ronald, and destined for the re-establishment of the 
Picts; and in 894, Sigurd, Earl of Orkney, and Thor- 
stein the Red, who claimed the sovereignty of the 
Western Isles, made a descent on the main land of 
Scotland. Overrunning Caithness, Sutherland, Ross 
and Moray, they established there a principality, which 
was given to Thorstein, who held it, with the title of 
King t)f the half of Scotland, till he was defeated and 
slain by the Scots in 900. 

that Malcolm crossed the Forth, the boundary of ancient Scotland, and 
remained in Lothian awaiting the army of his opponent, William the Con- 
queror. The writer of the Saxon Chronicle probably did not acknowledge 
the comparatively recent relinquishment of his country's long-cherished 
to Lothian, which they accounted as belonging to England. 



Harold Haarfager, who died in 934, reduced the 
Shetlands, Orkneys, Hebrides, and the whole of Scotland 
north of the Grampians. The Isle of Man, where a 
Norwegian dynasty had long been established, and part 
of Ireland, including Dublin, were added to his domin- 
ions.* This implies that these were merely re-conquests, 
the whole having at some previous period belonged to 
the Danes. The Northmen, however, were signally 
defeated by the Scots at Cullen in 961. 

According to old chroniclers, the second founder of the 
Scottish monarchy received aid from them in recovering 
his dominions, and was descended maternally from the 
Skioldonys, the father of Fergus II., having married 
Ulvilda, daughter of Frode III. He had been driven 
into exile at the Danish court by the Romans. 

Caithness was reconquered by Thorfinn, Earl of Ork- 
ney, about the middle of the tenth century. A long 
succession of wars followed, which resulted, in 1034, in 
the complete subjugation of Scotland, as far south as the 
Frith of Tay, by Thorfinn, grandson of the original con- 
queror. This Norwegian kingdom lasted for thirty years, 
during which period Macbeth had overcome Duncan, 

* In the early records of Ireland, the sea-rovers are called Lochlanach, 
arid the country whence they came Lochlin ; the King of which, according to 
the Annals of Ulster, came to Erin 852. The Scandinavians held a great 
portion of Ireland down to the period of Henry II. The era of Osian is 
therefore considered, by some, to have been the ninth century. No mention 
is made of the Northmen in the Irish annals till 705. 


and assumed the Scottish crown. Macbeth in the south, 
and Thorfinn in the north, reigned undisturbed till 1045, 
when the adherents of the exiled family rose against 
Macbeth. This attempt to unseat the usurper was 
crushed, however, and Macbeth enjoyed other nine years 
of tranquillity. In 1034 Macbeth was expelled from 
Lothian, and Malcolm Caenmore established in his stead; 
so that there were in Scotland three dynasties at that 
time. In 1058, Thorfinn headed an expedition against 
England, which roused Edward's ire, and an English 
force, in connection with the army of Malcolm, marched 
to Lamphanan, Aberdeenshire,. where Macbeth was over- 
taken and slain. 

Thorfinn, however, held his own till his death, in 1064 ; 
and even then the people of the north refused to submit 
to Malcolm, but attempted to set up a king of their own, 
Donald MacMalcolm, who is styled, as were Malcolm 
II. and Macbeth, Maarmor of Moray, and was probably 
of the same family with them. Malcolm dying in 1093, 
the northern people asserted the right of Malcolm's bro- 
ther, Donald Bane, whom they placed on the throne. 
On the accession of Edgar, in 1098, those lands which 
had formed Thorfinn's kingdom appear to have reverted 
to their original owners, native chiefs ; but the rest of the 
country which the Scots had gained from the Picts, and 
which had fallen to the royal house founded by Duncan, 
in addition to the whole of the country south of the Frith, 


became the absolute property of the king. By this means 
he was enabled widely to extend the feudal system, and 
in a short time, as historians say, the greater part of 
Scotland became the counterpart of England. The 
udal system,* which still prevails in Orkney and the 

* If you turn up some of our more recent works of reference, you will pro- 
bably find 'Udal Udaller' explained as signifying a 'freehold, a freeholder' 
in the Shetland Isles ; but as to the derivation of the terms, or why they 
should be peculiar to Shetland, the chance is you will have to go somewhere 
else for information. Mr Lang, in his ' Residence m Norway,' (1851,) an 
excellent little work, illustrative of the political and social condition of that 
country, supposes the term udal, or adel, to be derived from the German 
' adel, signifying noble;' and he sees ' an equivalent meaning in all its appli- 
cations.' He goes on to explain that ' udal land is noble land, not held from 
or under any superior, not even from the king, consequently without charter, 
and is subject to none of the burdens and casualties affecting land held by 
feudal tenure direct from the sovereign, or from his superior vassal.' This 
derivation, however, is not satisfactory. There are no titles no feudalism 
in Norway. Why, then, should the land, or any portion of it, be esteemed 
nolle, when no such title as noble exists even amongst the people ? Mr 
Lang might have found the origin of the word nearer home in the Icelandic, 
the original language of Norway. In that language the word od, or oed, 
signifies possession ; and this is the pure and unambiguous meaning of the 
term udal. Udal is possession, and udaller the possessor. From oed also 
proceeds the law-Latin allodium, independent possession. 

"When nearly all Europe was brought under the yoke of feudalism, Norway 
remained free ; henpe the right of property was constituted by possession) 
and hence her freedom from feudal burdens. In the language of Mr Lang, 
she ' is subject neither to fines on the entry of new heirs or successors, nor to 
escheat, nor forfeiture, nor personal suit and service, nor wardship, nor astric- 
tions to baronial courts or other local judicatories, nor to baronial mills or 
other feudal servitudes, nor to any of the ten thousand burdens and vexatious 
exactions which, in the middle ages, and even in some degree to the present 
day, have affected all property held under the feudal tenure.' Orkney and 
the Shetland Isles were long under the Norwegian rule hence the prevalence 
of udalism in Shetland. 


Shetland Isles, owes its existence to the circumstance 
that the lands which formed the Norwegian province in 
Scotland reverted to their former proprietors, and were 
not claimed as the property of the crown. 

Magnus of Norway, who died in 1103, again subdued 
the Scottish Isles, whose jarls had thrown off their de- 
pendence on the mother country. He is said, while in 
Scotland, to have adopted the dress of the Highlanders, 
and hence acquired the cognomen of Magnus Barfoed, 
or Barefoot a proof of the antiquity of the Highland 
dress, which Pinkerton contended was modern. The 
isles were finally conceded to Scotland in 1468. 




IF we are right in the historical facts thus thrown 
together, and in our deductions where no facts can be 
adduced, it follows 

1. That Britain was at first peopled by the Gauls, the 
earliest of the Celtic colonists. 

2. That the Gauls penetrated to the farthest boun- 
daries of the mainland, and peopled Ireland. 

3. That the Gauls were succeeded by the Cimbri, 
another Celtic colony, more under the control of the 
Druids, who overspread England, and the greater part of 

4. That b^ this means the original settlers, the Gauls, 
were gradually pressed northward and westward Ire- 
land and the western Highlands of Scotland becoming 
their chief abodes.f 

* From the Cimbri we have, in considerable purity, the modern Welsh 
and their language. 

t From the Irish and Scots Highlanders we have the Gaelic, which, in topo- 
graphy, is shown to have preceded the Welsh. 


5. That the Picts, or inhabitants of the open country, 
north-east of Drum-Albinj were originally Celtic, of the 
Cimbric race, but early mixed by Norwegian settlers ; 
to such an extent, amongst the southern Picts especially, 
as not only to influence their language materially, but, 
in some measure, to appropriate the very name of 

6. -That, on the acquisition of the Pictish crown by 
the Scots, the Picts were, to some extent, scattered ; 
many of them repairing to the isles and the Lowlands, 
though the great body continued in their possessions, as 
is demonstrated by their descendants at the present time. 

7. That l the men of Moray ' were not pure Scots in 
the eleventh century, before any grants by the Scottish 
crown had been made in the north of Scotland to Anglo- 
Saxon settlers, is shown by the roll of the battle of the 
Standard; consequently they must have been a mixed 
race of Picts, Norwegians, and probably Scots; the 
Teutonic blood prevailing, as is demonstrated by the 
popular dialect of the inhabitants in our own day. 

8. That from this mixed race, mingling with a similar 
amalgamation of Britons, Scots, and Anglo-Normans in 
the Lowlands, has sprung the great body of the Scottish 
people the Highlanders alone, and that only to a par- 

* Bellenden, in his description of the Western Isle?, says that Orkney was 
'of old called the realm of the Picts;' and he styles the Pentland frith the 
Picts' sea. 


tial extent,* retaining any claim to purity of Gaulic 

With the map of Scotland before us, we may easily 
trace, in outline, the Teutonic progress of which we have 
been speaking.f To the north we find the Shetland and 
Orkney isles in possession of the Northmen from the 
earliest times ; and to suppose that such a restless and 
enterprising people had not made settlements on the 
mainland before the ninth century, the era when au- 
thentic Northern history commences, is to give them 
less credit than their well-known character deserves. 
That the Pictish language had, in the eighth century, 
become so far changed from the Cimbrian Celtic as to 
be esteemed a separate language, is amply attested by 
Bede, who, writing about 731, distinctly states that there 
were then four languages spoken in Britain, the English, 
Scottish, Pictish, and British. The Pictish was, there- 
fore, in 731, a dialect or language different from the 
British, which, it is understood, the inhabitants of the 
Lowlands chiefly made use of; for, although the Romans 
overran and l\eld this division of Scotland for a consi- 

* It must not be forgotten, if we are right in our hypothesis as to the 
origin of the Scoto-Irish, that they were a mixed race of Gaulic and Cimbrian 
Celts, or original Picts. Many of the clans are of Teutonic descent ; for 
example, the clans Macintosh, M'Kay, MacPherson, Davidsons, M'Leod, 
Ounn, Gillander, M'Heamish, Robson, Henderson, Wilson, etc., are all of Nor- 
wegian origin. 

f From Cornwall to the Orkneys, a line might almost be drawn separating 
the Celtic race westward from the mixed Teutonic race eastward. 


derable time, yet their occupancy was frequently inter- 
rupted and their power so precarious that it is not 
supposed that their language or customs made any 
serious impression on the people. There is not the 
slightest evidence for believing that they did so. If the 
Teutonic speech of Scotland thus originated with the 
Picts, from an admixture of Norwegian blood, it is easy 
to see that it would meet with a kindred stream, and 
extend itself, when, after the battle of Dunichen, in 685, 
the Picts took possession of the Saxon kingdom of 
Lothian, which they retained down to the final settle- 
ment of the Scottish dynasty. Their lineage and their 
language thus prevailed from the Shetland isles along 
the whole of the east coast of Scotland, including the 
extensive district of Buchan,* to the counties of Cum- 
berland and Northumberland in England, where they 
amalgamated wjith a kindred race of Anglo-Saxons and 
Danes. The near proximity of Picts and Anglo- 
Danes, though frequently at war with each other, must 
have produced an effect on the language of the Strath- 
clyde people, which no doubt approximated in its British 
phase to that of the Pictish. 

In this way we maintain that the Scottish dialect, 
which is, in many respects, distinct from the old Eng- 
lish or Saxon, had its origin in Pictavia, north of the 

* Nowhere in Scotland is the vernacular spoken more broadly or purely 
than in Buchan, the original seat of the Picts. 


Forth, and not in the Anglo-Saxon colonization of the 
south of Scotland by David I. and his successors, though 
that colonization by a kindred people may have helped 
to spread and perpetuate it. The conquest of the Isle 
of Man by tlie Norwegians, and their repeated descents, 
in conjunction with the Danes of England, on the southern 
shores of Scotland, must also have had an effect in cir- 
cumscribing the original Celtic of the inhabitants ; while 
the subsequent dominion of Thorfinn in the north, as 
already stated, would tend to strengthen the footing it 
had there obtained. It is not likely that Malcolm Caen- 
more, or his immediate successors, would attempt to 
change the language of an entire country, by means of 
the Court, and the introduction of strangers who even 
did not speak the Anglo-Saxon. William the Conqueror, 
with his whole army, who lorded it supreme over Eng- 
land, entirely failed in subverting the English tongue. 
How impotent, then, must have been the attempt of the 
Scottish kings to supplant the Gaelic with such inferior 
power ! 

The Scottish- vernacular had thus a much wider range 
of origin than is generally conceived, and which Chal- 
mers would not admit, simply because he could not trace 
its progress topographically, at least to such a copious 
extent as he considered satisfactory. But this was not 
to be expected from a language, not of a conquering 
people which arose imperceptibly, as it were, amongst 


the mixed races of inhabitants. In such a case, they 
would naturally retain the names of places as they found 
them, as in our own day, chiefly because it was con- 
venient. Although it is a historical fact that the Gaelic 
formed the language of the Court in the time of Malcolm 

o cj 

Caenmore, and a Gaelic priesthood officiated at the altars, 
it does not militate against our hypothesis that the lan- 
guage of the Picts had been gradually approximating to 
what is now designated the Scottish dialect, no more 
than that the Anglo-Saxon was not the vernacular of 
England, because the Normans introduced Norman- 
French as the royal and legal tongue, and filled the 
benefices with their retainers. As little are we to believe 
that, in banishing the recent settlers from England in 
1093, the whole Scandinavian race in Scotland were 
included. The facts we have stated preclude the possi- 
bility of such a thing. 

Of the Saxon language in England, there are written 
remains as early as the seventh century and of the Erse 
or Gaelic, MSS. exist of the age of Columba ; but we have 
no specimen of the Pictish in ancient times, save the 
single" word Pcenvahel, formerly alluded to, preserved by 
Bede ; and the poetry of Merlinus Caledonius, trans- 
mitted downwards through the medium of the Welsh. 
The quatrain produced by Chalmers from the Avallenau 
of Merlinus, can scarcely be considered, therefore, as a 
pure specimen of the Pictish in the sixth century : 


' M neuav ; ni chyscaf ; ergrynaf fy nragon, 
Fy arglwydd Gwenddolau, am browy frodorion J 
Gwedi porthi heint, a hoed, amgylch Celyddon, 
Bwyf was gwynfydig gan Wledig Gorchorddion!' 

' I sigh not; I do not sleep ; I am agitated for my chief, 
My Lord Gwenddolau, and my genial countrymen ! 
After bearing of affliction, and mourning about Caledonia, 
I pray to be a blessed servant with the supreme of supernal 
circles ! ' 

The Saxon scholar will perhaps perceive, in such 
words as heint and hoed, that even this specimen of 
British is not entirely free of a Gothic mixture. 

From this period we have literally no specimen what- 
ever of the Pictish or Scottish dialect till after the 
demise of Alexander III., when we find the following 
often-quoted lines preserved by Wyntoun in his Chro- 
nicles : 

' Quhen Alysandyr, ourc kyng, wes dede, 

That Scotland led in luive and le, 
Away wes sons of ale and brede, 

Of wyne and wax, of gamyu and gle : 
Oure gold wes changyd into lede 

Cryst, borne into virgynte, 
Succour Scotland, and remedc, 

That stad is in perplexyte.' 

This fragment, belonging to the latter end of the 
thirteenth century, exhibits, in contrast with the Saxon 


or English of the same period, evident marks of superior 

If Motherwell is right in his conjecture and we think 
there can be no doubt of it that f the grand old ballad 
of Sir Patrick Spens ' refers to the l disastrous shipwreck 
which awaited the return of a number of those noblemen 
who formed the retinue of Margaret, when she was mar- 
ried to Erick of Norway ' (A.D. 1281), it is probable that 
the baUad is as old as the event itself, and may therefore 
be classed as of the same age with the lines preserved by 

* Chalmers, in his account of the parish of Cumbernauld, quotes the 
following quatrain, said to have been inscribed on the ceiling of an old 
house ; and he esteems it an interesting specimen of the Scottish language in 
the days of ' Wight Wallace ' : 

' He that sittis doun to ye bord for to eite, 
Forzetting to gyf God thankis for his meite ; 
Syne rises upe, and his grace oure pass, 
Sittis doun lyk ane oxe, and rysis npe lyk ane ass.' 

Doubts are entertained of its claims to such antiquity. Genuine or not, 
however, Chalmers was indebted for this relic to Ure's History of Renfrewshire. 
On making repairs at the Farme (Lanarkshire), May, 1792, the workmen 
(says the writer) had occasion to take down the stucco ceiling of one of the 
principal apartments. Underneath was another ceiling of wood, upon the 
sides of the beams of which they discoverefl several lines of writing in old 
Saxon characters. The letters were black, upon a white ground. Some of 
the lines were obliterated, but the above were easily made out. If this 
statement can be relied upon, they are certainly a great curiosity. The 
transcriber does not seem to have known that the z in ' forgetting ' (second 
line) was not a z, but the Saxon sign for a soft g. Neither was it meant that 
ye should be pronounced ye, but in the common way the y being merely a 
sign for th. By ignorance of these facts, great confusion has crept into our 
old' literature 


Wyntoun ; but having come down to modern times by 
recitation, it has no doubt undergone various alterations, 
and cannot therefore be quoted as illustrative of the 
Scottish language at any particular period. It bears all the 
marks of a'ntiquity in poetic sentiment and construction. 
' The most ancient English specimen extant,' says 
Bosworth, copying from Ritson, ( is a vulgar song in 
praise of the cuckoo, which is quoted from a fine old 
Harlein MS. by Sir J. Hawkins and Dr Burney, who 
refer that MS. to the middle of the 15th century, though 
it is now known to be nearly two hundred years older, 
having been written about the end of the reign of 
Henry III.' The song is therefore of a contemporaneous 
period with the Scottish specimen above quoted. It is 
as follows : 

' Sumer is icumen in ; 
Lhude sing cuccu ; 
Groweth sed, and bloweth rned, 
And spriugeth the wde nu. 
Sing cuccu,' etc. * 

Awe bleteth after lamb, 
Lhouth after calve cu ; 
Bulluc sterteth, bucke verteth, 
Murie sing cuccu. 

* Modern English : 

' Summer is come in ; 
Loud sings the cuckoo : 
Now the seed grows, and the mead blows, 
And the wood springs. 
TLe cuckoo sings,' etc. 


Cuccu, cuccu, well singes thn, cnccu, 
Ne swik thu naver nu. 
Sing, cuccu, nu, sing, cuccu, 
Sing cuccu, sing, cuccu nu. 

But we shall quote a portion of another more unques- 
tionably of the same age. It was written on the siege 
of Berwick, (30th March, 1296,) and has been preserved 
by Brunne, the translator of Langtoft's Rhyming Chro- 
nicle : 

' The Scottis had no grace, to spede in ther space, for to mend 

ther nisse, 
Thei filed ther face, that died in that place, the Inglis rymed 


Oure fote folk put tham in the polk, and nakned ther nages, 
Bi no way herd I never say of prester pages, 
Purses to pike, robis to rike, and in dike thain schonne, 
Thon wiffin Scotte of Abrethin, kotte is thi honne.' 

There is no comparison between the two specimens, that 
of the Scots belonging to a people much farther advanced 
in the language and harmony of poetry. Nor is this, 
perhaps, to be wondered at. During the long and pros- 
perous reign of Alexander III., as well as those of his 
predecessors from Alexander I. downwards, including 
David I. and William the Lion the country had flou- 
rished to a surprising degree ; and while war was not 
neglected, the arts of peace enjoyed ample protection. 
England, or rather the Saxons of England, from whom 


the English language flowed, on the contraiy, had not 
recovered from the blow inflicted by the conqueror, and 
the Saxon language was repudiated by the great and 
influential, while a civil, or rather agrarian war, con- 
tinued to prevail between the Saxon serf and his feudal 

' The last expiring efforts of the Saxon language,' 
says Bos worth, ( seem to have been made in 1258-9, in 
a writ of Henry III. to his subjects in Huntingdonshire 
and all other parts of the kingdom, in support of the 
Oxford provisions of that reign.' What is now called 
the English language superseded the Saxon, and dates 
its rise from the thirteenth century, specimens of which, 
in both countries, we have already furnished at this in- 
teresting period. 

Before proceeding farther, it may be necessary to re- 
vert for a moment to the Saxon as written at various 
periods prior to the Norman invasion : Bos worth at 
once supplies us with what we want, and the simplest 
way, perhaps, of conveying an idea of the changes to 
which the Saxoji was subject, will be to quote the example 
of the Lord's Prayer. We must first premise, however, 
that the southern and northern Saxon of England were 
considerably different the latter being confined to the 
Danish descendants of the north of England, and called 



Faeder tire thu the on heofuum. 

Si thin nama gehalgod. 

To-becume thin rice. 

Gewurthe thin willa on eorthan swa swa on heofenum. 

Urue daeghwamlican hlaf syle us to dseg. 

And forgyf us ure gyltas swa swa we forgifath urum gyltendum. 

And ne gelscdde thu us on costnunge. 

Ac alys us of yfele. 



Fjeder ure thu the in heofenum earth. 

Beo gehalgud thin noma. 

Cume to thine rice. 

"Weorthe thin willa swa swa on heofune swile on eorthe. 

Hlaf userne dseghwamlicu sel us to dasg. 

And forlete us ure scylde, swa swa we ec forleten thaem the 

scyldigat with us. 

And ne gelaet us geleade in costnungae. 
Ah gelese us of yfle. 

Though these extracts are copied from Saxon ritual 
books, and of course are the composition of ecclesiastics 
with a slight tint of the Latin to which the learned 

* Present orthography : 

Father our thou who art in heaven, 

Be thy name hallowed. 

Come thy kingdom. 

Be done thy will in earth, so as in heaven. 

Our daily loaf sell us to-day. 

Aud forgive us our guilts, so as we forgive to our guiltyings (debtors). 

And not lead thou us into costning (temptation), 

But release us from evil. 

Soothly (truly, Amen.) 


were addicted they at the same time afford a good idea 
of the language at the time. It will be seen that the 
difference between the Saxon and Dano-Saxon is con- 
siderable ; and at this moment the vernacular of the 
north of England, almost pure Scots, is very different 
from that of the south. 

Of Saxon poetry in 937, we have a specimen in the 
' Ode on Athelstan's Victory,' of which the following is 
the first stanza : 

' Her Aethelstan cyning, 
Eorla drighten, 
Beorna beah-gyfa 
And his brother eac.' 


Here Athelstan King, 

Of Earls the Lord 

Of Barons the bold chief, 

And his brother eke. 


Layamon's translation of the Brut tf AngleterrC) about 
1180, affords another good specimen : 

1 Tba 1 the masse wes isungen 2 
0*f chirccken hco thrungen. 3 
The king mid his folke 
To his mete verde, * 
And mucle his dugethe : 5 

1 When. 2 Was sung. 

3 Out of church they thronged. 

4 Went, fared. 

5 Many of his nobility. 


Drem wes on Irirede, 1 
Tha quene, an other halve, 2 
Hire hereberwe isohte ; 3 
Heo 1 hafcle of wif-monne 5 
Wander ane moni en.' 6 

Unfortunately we have not the means of tracing the 
progress of the Scottish in its { fermentation ' from the 
Norse the Icelandic which is the elder branch of the 
Teutonic, and, of course, the senior of the Anglo-Saxon. 
The Pictish, as spoken by the mixed race of Scan- 
dinavians and Picts, or Britons,* prior to the thirteenth 
century, as already shown, is unrecorded. We can only 
adduce a few specimens of the old Danish,f as spoken by 
the Northmen in their native regions. 


Thann hefi ek manna 
Mennskra fuudit 
Hring heyjanda 
Hrammastan at afli. 

1 Joy was in the household. 

2 On the other half, side. 

3 Her lodging sought. 

4 She, sometimes they. 

5 Women. 

6 Wonder a many ane. 

She had wonderfully many women with her. 

* Pinkerton, who strongly contended for the pare Scandinavian origin of 
the Picts, is obliged to admit, on the authority of Richard of Cirencester, 
that the Cantae and Carndbii tribes, north of the Forth, were from South 
Britain in other words, Brets or Britons. 

t Old Danish, Norwegian, and Icelandic were the same Swedish nearly so. 



Him have I among men 
Of the human race, * 
Among warriors, found 
The strongest of body. 


Hjuggu ver meth hjbrvi ! 
Horth kom rith a skjoldu, 
Nar fell nithr til jarthar 
A Northumbralandi ; 
Varat um eina ottu 
Oldum thbrf at fryja 
Hildar leik, thar er hvassir 
Hjahn-stofn bitu skjomar ; 
Bbthmana sa ek bresta, 
Bra thvi fira Iffi. 


We hewed with swords ! 

Hard came the storm on our shields, 

Dead they fell down on the earth, 

In Northumberland. 

None, on that morning, 

Needed men to incite. 

For Bellona's sharp sport, 

The.glittering sword split the steel-capt skull, 

The moon-round shield saw I broken, 

And thus men's lives were lost. 

SWEDISH, 1354. 

Wi Magnus, med guds nadh svcrikis konung, norghis oc skane, 
wiliom at that seal allom mannom witcrlikt wara, at wi aff wara 

* Not of the Aser race. 


serdelis nadh hafwm vat bergxmanno-men a noreberge thaennaj 
raet oc stadhga, soin baer asfter f blger ; fforst hafwm wi stat oc 
skipat, at tolft' skulu wara the som fore bergheno sculu standa oc 
thera raea3t wreria oc fulfblghia i allom lutom, etc. 


We, Magnus, by the grace of God, King of Sweden, Norway, 
and Scania, will that it shall be known to all men that we, by 
our peculiar grace, have conceded to Bergxman (miner) of Nore- 
berge, the right and power as hereafter follows : first have we 
constituted and ordained, that twelve shall be the sum, etc. 



Ser ni, nara cyrkogardens mur, denna quinnos-kapnad, sittande 

paa en sten,* och orblijsom denna ? 
Yaardelost falla lockar af granade haar ned b'fver heunes axlar, 

vinden leker med hennes sonderrifua kliider. 
Hon iir gammal och stelnad, men ej blott af aar. 
Gaa ej kallt f brbi gif henne en skiirf ; liinge skall hon ej besviira 


See you, near the churchyard wall, this female form, sitting on a 

stone, and motionless as it ? 
Neglected fall curls of grey hair down over her shoulder, the wind 

sports with her tattered garments. 
She is old and stiff, but not alone front age. 
Go not coldly past give her a farthing ; long shall she not trouble 


The above we quote from { Notes and Queries,' f and 

* In Aberdeenshire sten is the pronunciation of stone at this moment. 

t The passage is from Bremer's writings. 



agree with the contributor that it affords most satisfactory 
evidence that the grammatical construction of the Eng- 
lish is precisely that of the Swedish. Indeed, travellers 
tell us that at this day Scotsmen, if they speak broad 
Scots, have little difficulty in making themselves under- 
stood in Sweden. 

As formerly observed, the modern language of Scan- 
dinavia has undergone a considerable change. It is, 
therefore, to the more pure Icelandic that we are to look 
for what of Gothic is to be found in the Scottish dialect. 
The following is the Lord's Prayer, as given in Icelandic, 
by Pinkerton : 

' Fader uor sora est i Himlum. 2. Halgad warde thitt naraa. 
3. Tilkomme thitt Kikie. 4. Ski thin vilie so som i Himmalam, 
so och po Jordanne. 5. Wort dachlicha brodh gif as i dagh. 
6. Och forlat os uora skuldas, so sora agh vi for late them os 
skildighe are. 7. Agh inled os ikkie i frestalsan. 8. Utan frels 
as ifra endo. Amen.' 

In old Scots : 

' Uor fader qnhilk beest i Hevin. 2. Hallowit weird thy no 
nam. 3. Come thyne kingrik. 4. Be dune thyne wall as is i 
hevin, swa po yerd. 5. Uor dailie breid gif us thilk day. 6. 
And forleit us uor skaths, as we forleit tham quha skath us. 7. 
And leed us na intil temtation.* 8. But an fre us fra evil. Amen.' 

The reader will observe that there is a very close 
affinity between the two languages, the orthography and 
pronunciation constituting the chief difference. A still 

* Pinkerton confesses that he knew no Scots word for temptation. 


more satisfactory example of this, perhaps, is to be found 
in the Icelandic account of the battle of Largs (1262), 
rendered into Scots by the late Andrew Crawfurd, Loch- 
winnoch : 



Kakon Konongr la med herinom King Hako lay with his haill air- 

ollom i Herloveri. Var that allmikit mie at Herlover. It was a very 

lit ok fritt. Morg hafdi Konongr meikil leit,* an a braw. The king 

stor skip ok vel buin. had mony big schips an weil boun. 

Hakon Konongr hafli a odru hun- King Hako had ower a bunder 

dradi skipa, ok flest stor, ok oil vel- schips, an maistly big, an aw weil 

skipatbaediatmounomokvapnom. plenisbit baith wi men an wapins. 

Efter thetta sigldi Hakon Konongr Efter this king Hako sailit south 

sndr fyrer Satiristnula vid ollom heri- afore the Mull o Kintyre, with aw his 

nom, ok lagdi at vid Hereyiarsund.f fleit, and lay a quh vie in Arran Sound. 

Sidan sigldi Hakon Konongr inn un- Syne King Hako sailit in yont the 

der Kumreyiar ollom herinotn. Cumbras with aw his forces. J 

Tha sendi Hako Konongr fioratigi Then King Hako sent forty schips 

Skipa inn i Skipa-Fiord. Var thar in Loch Long. The cominandars o 

* This is rather extending the application of the word kit; though it seems 
very allowable, for the army appears to have been a well selected one. 

f Herey is probably a name which was imposed upon Arran by the Nor- 
wegians themselves. In their language ey signifies an island ; and the first 
part of the name was perhaps adopted from their having repeatedly sheltered 
their fleet under Arran, for her is used for a host generally, whether military 
or naval. 

J An account is here given of a negotiation between Hako and the King 
of Scotland. The islands in the Firth of Clyde were the subject of dispute. 
The King of Norway claimed a right to these islands ; but as Alexander 
refused to acknowledge that right, the negotiation broke off, and Hako deter- 
mined to invade Scotland. 

Loch Long in Gaelic signifies the loch of ships. The Islandic Skipa- 
Fiord is an exact translation of it. 




fyrer Magnus Konongr or Maun ok 
Dugall Konongr, Aleinn brodir bans, 
Engus, Myrgadr, Vigleikr Prestson, 
ok Ivar Holmr. Ok er their komo i 
fiordin, toko their bata sina ok drogo 
npp til vatnz eins mikils er heiter 
Loko-Lofni. Um vatnit utan la eins 
Jarls riki or Lofnach heitir. Thar er 
ok mikill fiolthi eyia i thvi vatni, ok 
vel bygdar. Thessar eyiar eiddo 
Nordmenn vid elldi. Their brendo 
ok alia bygditia um-hverfis vatnit, ok 
gerdo thar it mesta hervirkij 

Aleinn brother Dugals Konongs 
geek miog urn thvert Skotland ok 
drap margan man. Hanntokmorghun- 
drot nauta, ok gerdi mikit hervirki.J 

Sidan foro Nordmenn til skips sin- 
na. Their Fengo storrn mikin sva at 
braut nockor skip tio i Skipa firde. 
Tha tok Ivarr Holmr bratha sott, tha 
er ban leiddi til bana. 

Hakon Konongr la i Sudreyiom 


tham war Magnus king o Man, an 
king Dugall, Allan his brither, Angus, 
Margad, VViglick Preistson, and Ivar 
Howm. An quhan they cam in the 
loch, thay tuk thair boats and druggit 
thaim up till a meikil loch, hat Loch 
Lomond. Roun that loch on the far 
syde, lay ane yerlrik,* hat Lennox. 
Ther war meikil walth of ylands in 
the loch, an they war weil biggit.f 
Thae ylands the Norsemen wastit with 
eldin. An they brent aw the biggins 
about the loch and garrit grit herschip. 

Allan the brither o king Dugall 
gade far in athort Scotland, an killit 
mony men. He tuk mony hunder 
nowt, and garrit meikil herriment. 

Syne the Norsemen fure till thair 
schips. They met wi sae rneikil a 
storm, that it brak to pieces ten schips 
in Loch Long. Then Ivar Howm tuk 
a braith illness, quhilk led him till 
his deid. 

King Hako lay in the Hebrides, as 

* It is certainly an allowable license to use this as a Scots word, for rik, 
signifying power or dominion, is used both by itself and in the composition of 
analogous words : thus, rik, a kingdom ; kingrik, the same ; bischoprik, a 
bishop's see or dominion. 

t It is not probable that the islands in Loch Lomond were well inhabited 
in ordinary times ; but in times of danger the inhabitants of the neighbouring 
country would resort to them for safety. 

J The word signifies strictly sogeours' work ; her being Islandic for an 
army, and plunder being anciently considered the appropriate object of mili- 
tary expeditions. 

Sudr-eylar is the Norwegian name of the Hebrides, compounded of sudr 
southern, and ey an island. They were so called to distinguish them from 
the Nordr-eyiar or Orkneys, the northern division of the Scottish isles. 




sem fyrr var ritat. Michials messa 
var a laugardag, enn mana-dags not- 
tina efter kom a stormr mikill med 
elum ok hreggi. Kaulludu their tha 
er streingvaurd helldo a Konongs 
skipi ok sogdo at kugg einn rak fra- 
man at festora. Lupo thamenn upp; 
enn stangin a kugginom festi a hofdi 
Kouong-skipsins ok tok af nasarnar. 
rak kuggin aftr med bordi, til 
thes er ackerit tok vid ok festi i 
strenginom toko tha ackerin at kraka. 
Konongriun bad tha hoggva ackeris 
strengin a kugginom, ok sva gerdo 
their, rak hanu tha ut a eyina: enn 
Konongs skipit hellz, ok lago tialld- 
lausir til dags. Enn um morgynin 
er flseddi, flaut kuggrinn ok rak inn 
a Skotlaiid ok langskip eitt. Vindrin 
tok at vaxr at eins, neytto menn tha 
grunnf'scra thiersa er hofdo, tha var 
ftjllt it fimta ackeri a Konongs skipi. 
Ena Konongrinn, for i bat ok reyri 
ut til eyiarirmar, ok let syngia ser 
messo. Enn skipin rak inn a sund, 
ok um dagin zesti stormin, sva at 
sumir hioggo trein enn suma rak. 


afore was written. Michelmess fell 
on a Setterday, and on the Monday 
nicht after ther cam a meikil storm, 
wi hail and bevy rain. Thay qnha 
held the stringwart* o the king's schip, 
callit out that a cog was rackand 
sicker agane thair fastinin.t The 
men lap up on deck ;- but the taikil o 
the cog festinit till the king's schip, 
and tuk aff its nose.J Syne the cog 
rackit away, till the anchor tuk fast 
be the strings]| o the schip, an harlit 
the ankers crackand. The king baud 
hag awa the anchor-string o the cog ; 
an quhan they had done sae, it rackit 
out till the sie ; but the king's schip 
held steive, and lay wi the tyals low- 
sit till day. But in the mornin 
quhan the tyde flowit, the cog floatit, 
and rackit in upo Scotland, an a lang- 
schip^f too. As the wind waxit sturer 
and sturer, sum o the men gat mae 
cabils ; an a fyft anker was fellit frae 
the king's schip. But the king fure 
to the boat, an rowit out to the viands, 
an luit sing the mess. The schippin 
rackit up the sound ; and throu the 

* The forecastle ; called the strelengvaurd evidently from its being the 
part of the ship where the cable lies. 

t Cable. { Beak. || Cables. 

This is explained uncovered, or without an awning ; it being ti\9 tyals of 
the awning which are here meant, as being lowsit. 

^ A galley. In this and a few other instances, I employ words which the 
Scots have perhaps not been accustomed to use for exactly the same purpose. 
But my object is to render the Islaudic literally, where it can be done ; and 
from the common meaning of the words, the reason of their application will 
be obvious. 




Konongs skipit rak ok inn a sundit, 
ok voro fyrer tha siau ackeri ined 
thvi er their hofdo a kugginom. Ok 
hit atta apal ackeri, ok rak egi thvi 
sidr ; litlo sidacr festi ackerin. Noc- 
kor tiin skip rak in at landi. Sva 
var thessi stormr mikill, at menn sog- 
do gerninga vallda; ok hofdo menn 
thar hit mesta vas. 

Tha er Skotar su at skipin rak at 
landi, somnudoz their saman ok foro 
ofan at Nordmonnom ok skuto a 
tha. Enn their vordoz vel ok leto 
Knggin gaita sin; Skotar sotto at 
stundom, enn iafman fra, fello 
thar fair menn, enn margir vrdo 
sarir. Tha sendi Hakon Konongr 
inn lid a batom nockorom at 
hialpa theim. Thviat tha laegdi helldr 

Sidan for Konongr nt a skuto med 
Thorlaugi Bosa. Thegar sem Kon- 
ongs menn komo a land, flydo Sko- 
tar, enn Nordmenn voro a landi 
um nottina. Urn nottina, foro 
Skotar til skipsins, ok toko burto 
fe sem their mattd! Um morgy- 
nin efter, kom Hakon Konongr a 
land ok mart folk med honom, 


day the storm flistit sae, that sum 
veschels haggit thair treein, an sura 
ran agrun. The king's scliip too 
rackit up the sound, tho they had 
usit seven ankera, wi that quhilk they 
gat frae the cog. They drappit an 
aucht, quhilk was the sc'neit anker, 
and still the schip rackit ; hut a littil 
efter, the ankers festinit. Fy ve schips 
rackit in upo the land. Sae meikil 
was this storm, that men said it was 
raisit be the waldin of warlockrie. 

Quhan the Scots saw that the 
schipping had rackit on the land, tLay 
gatherit thegither, and fur aff to the 
Norsemen, an attackit thaim. But 
they wardit weil, and luit the cogs 
beild thaim. The Scots ettilit at ane 
attack at tymes; but they fellit few 
men, tho mony grippit sairs. Then 
King Hako sent in sum boats wi men, 
to help thaim ; because the wathir 
was now something lownit. 

Syne the king fure out in a skout, 
alang wi Thorlaug Bosa. As sune as 
the king's men cam neir the land, the 
Scots fled ; an the Norsemen stcyit 
on land throu the nicht. Wi the 
cloud o nicht the Scots fure out till 
the schip, and tuk as meikil spuilie 
as tbay mat. On the morning efter, 
king Hako cam on land,* and a rein- 

* It is worthy of remark, that in the Norwegian narrative, the place where 
Hako landed, and where the battle was fought, is never named. It is proba- 
ble that the Largs received its name in consequence of the battle ; for the 
word in Gaelic signifies fields, and it was natural to give such a name, by 
way of eminence, to the place where so memorable a battle was fought : the 



let hann tha rydia Kuggin ok flytia 
ut til skipa. 

Littlo sidarr sa their her Skota ok 
hugdo their thar mundi vera Skota 
Kor.ongr sialfr; thviat herinn var 
mikill. Ogmnndr Kraskidanz var a 
haugi nockorom ok sveit manna vid 
Lonom Sotto Skotar at thiem thier 
sem fyrster foro ; enn er megin herinn 
nalgadiz, bado Nordmenn Hakon 
Konong fara ut til skipa, ok senda 
theim lid, ok villdo han egi sva hafa 
i haetto. Enn hann haudo at vera a 
landi; enn their villdo that egi, ok 
for hann i bat ut under eyina til lidz 
sins. Thessir voro lendirmenn a 
landi, Herra Andres Nicholas son. 
Ogrnundr Krajkidanz, Erlingr Alfson, 
Andres Pottr, Erlendr Raudr, Rogn- 
valldr Urka, Thorlaugr Bosi Pall Sur, 
Andres Plytr. Thar voro allz manna 
a land atta hundred ec!a nio. Voro 
tvau hundrot manna uppi a 


forcement o fowk with him ; and 
then he baud red the cog, and flit it 
out till the schipp. 

A little syder, thay saw the Scots 
airmie ; an thay thocht that the Scots 
king maun be thair himsell,* because 
the airmie was meikil. OgmundKrae- 
kidans was on a certane hicht, an his 
sute o men with him. The Scots 
that cam first forat skirmishit wi 
thaim : bat thair main airmie cumand 
on, the Norsemen baud King Hako 
that he wad fare out till the schips, 
an send thaim help; an thay wissit 
him to have himsell aback frae wan- 
chance. But he baud to stey on 
land ; howsumevir thay wadna heir 
that ; and he fure out in a boat till 
his pepil, under the ylands. Thae 
landmenf war on schore; Lord Andro 
Nickolson, Ogmund Kraekidans, Er- 
ling Alfson, Andro Pott, Erland Rand, 
Ronald Urka, Thorlaug Bosa, Paul 
Sur, and Andro Plyte. Aw the men 

definite article being always joined to the name, is a confirmation of this ety- 
mology. The name indeed appears to have been imposed while the remem- 
brance of tbe event was still fresh ; for it occurs in a charter by which Walter 
the High Steward of Scotland gives the kirk of the Largs to the monks of 
Paisley, in the year 1328, only 55 years after the battle. 

* The Scots historians seem not quite certain whether King Alexander 
was present or not. The common account is that the army consisted of three 
divisions; the king himself commanding the men of Perth, Angus, Mearns, 
and the north; Alexander the High Steward those of Athole, Argyle, Lennox, 
and Galloway; and Patrick Earl of Dunbar those of Lothian, Fyfe, Stirling, 
Berwick, and the Merse. 

t Barons, or nobles, who held lands of the sovereign. 




bauginom hia Augmundi ; enn annat 
litbit stod nidri a maulinni. 

Tha droz aj; Skota her, voro nser 
fimtan hundrot ridarar. Hestar 
thierra voro allir bryniadir, ok morg 
hofdo tbeir Sponsk ess oil fordykt. 
Skotar hofdo mikin ber fotgaugandi 
manna vel buna at vapnom. Meat 
hofdo their boga ok spaurdor. 

Nordinenn tbeir sem a hauginom 
voro, dreifdoz ofan at sianom, ok vill- 
do egi at Skotar kringdi um tha. 
Andres Nikolas son kom tha upp a 
haugin ok bad tha Ogmund leita nid 
til fiorunnar, ok flaukta egi sem flot- 
tamann. Skotar sotto at fast med 
skotum ok grioti. Var tha mikill 
vapna burdr at Nordmonnom, enn 
their foro undan a haeli, ok hlifdo ser. 
Eun er their komo ofan a melin, foro 
their hardara enn their villdo, hugdo 
their tha sem i fiorunni voro at hinir 
villdo flyia. Hliopo their sumir til 
batanna ok komoz med thvi fra lande, 
suinir lupo i kuggin. Hinir kaullodo 
at thier skylldi aftr snua ; snero pa 
aftr nockorir menn 6k tho fair. An- 
dres Pottr hliop yfer tva batana ok i 
hinn tbrithia, ok for sva fra landi. 
Irlargir batar sukko nidr, ok tyndoz 
nockorir menn. Sumir Nordmenn 
oko undan a basli ofan at sianom. 


on land war about aucht or nyne bun- 
der. Twa hunder men war up on the 
hicht with Ogmund; but the lave 
stude nethermair on the schore. 

The Scots armie now advancit, an 
ther war neir fyftein hunder rydars. 
Thair horse war aw breistplatit ; an 
mony had Spenish steids full graithit 
wi geir. The Scots had a meikil 
armie o futgangand men weil boun 
wi wapins. The maist o thaim had 
bows an speirs. 

The Norsemen that war on the 
hieht drave aff to the sie ; for thay 
wissit na that the Scots soud inring 
thaim. Andro Nickolson then cam 
up on the hicht, an baud Ogmund 
leid neth till the schore, an to flee, 
but no lyke fleyit men. The Scots 
assawtit thaim fast wi derts an stans. 
Ther fell a meikil schour of wapins 
on the Norsemen; but thay lowpit 
abeich, and fure awa frae the onding. 
But quhan thay cam towart the 
schore, ae quhein fure harder nor 
anither wad hae thaim ; an they that 
war on the schore thocht thay ahin 
mintit to flee. Sum lowpit till the 
boats, an cam afF wi thaim frae land, 
an sum lap in the cog. They ahin 
callit efter thaim that war skailand to 
retour; and sum retourit, tho few. 
Andro Pott lap ower twa boats, and 
in the third, and sae fure frae the 
land. Mony boats sank neth, and 
some men were tint. Sum Norse- 
men at last quheilit about an aff to 
the sie. 




Thar fell hirdmadr* Hakonar Kon- 
ongs Hakon af Steini. Tha hrucko 
Xordmenn sndr fra Kugginom. Thes- 
sir voro thar fyrer, Andres Nicholas 
son, Ogmundr Kraskidanz, Thor- 
kangr Bosi, Pall Sur. Var thar hardr 
bardagif ok tho miog oiaf nligr, thviat 
tio Skotar voro um eina Nordmann. 
Einn angr riddari af Skotom er Ferus 
het ok riki. Harm hafdi hialm allaa 
gallrodin, ok settaa dyrom steinom ; 
thar efter var aunor harneskia. Harm 
reid diarfliga at Nordmonnom can 
engi annara. Hann reid ok i gegnom 
fylking Nordmanna ok oft til sinna 
mann. The var kominn i fylking 
Skota Andres Nicholas son. Hann 
rasetti theim hinom agiseta ridara ok 
hio til bans med sverdi a laerit sva at 
i sundr tok bryniona ok nam i saudli- 
nom stadar. Toko Nordinenn thar 
af honom agrett ballteum. Tha var 
hinn hardazti bardagi. Margir fello 
af hvarom tveggiom, ok tho fleiri af 

Medan bardagiun var, tha var sva 
mikill storm r at Hakon Kongr sa egi 
efni a at koma herinom a land. Enn 
Raugnvalldr ok Eilifr or Naustadal 
reyri a bati inn til bardagans ok for 
alldiarfliga, ok their Nordmenn er a 
batana hofdo gengit. Eognvalldr 


Heir fell Hako o Steinie, ane o king 
Hako's honsehand. Then the Norse- 
men war drivin south frae the cog. 
Thae war thair commandars, Andro 
Nickolson, Ogmund Kraekidans, Thor- 
laug Bosa, and Paul Sur. Ther now 
happenit a hard facht, tho very un- 
evinly, because ten Scots war agane 
ae Norseman. Ther was a yung 
rydar o the Scots, hat Ferash,J an 
pourfou baith be his nobilitie an his 
rik. He had a helmet platit wi gowd, 
an set wi deir staues ; an the lave o 
his harnassin was sic'yke. He rade 
derfly up to the Norsemen, but nae 
ither with him. He rade aftin up to 
the raw o the Norsemen, an back till 
his ain men. Andro Nickolson had 
now cum npo the Scots raw. He mat- 
chit himsell wi this gentil rydar, an 
hewit at him wi his swurd, on the 
thie sae, that he sinderit thron the 
graith, an left a sted in the sadil. 
The Norsemen tuk his braw belt aff 
him. Then was the hardest o the 
battil. Mony fell on baith sydes, tho 
mae o the Scots. 

Quhyle the battil lastit, ther was 
sae meikle a storm, that king Hako 
sawrfa how the armie cond cum on 
land. But Ronald and Eilif o Naus- 
tadale, rowit in a boat, in till the 
battil, and behavit full derfly ; an sae 
did the Norsemen qnha had gane in 

* Hirdmadr, i.e., a man of the hird, or hirsell. 

t Perhaps our word bardy, rude and petulent, is allied to this. 

J Perhaps his name was Fergus. 




rauck at aftr till skipsins; enn Eilifr 
for all kappsamliga. Tok Nordmon- 
nom at safnaz lidet; ok letto Skotar 
tha undan, uppa haugin. Var tha 
glettu at sokn um brig med skotom 
ok grioti ; enn er a leid dagin, veitti 
Nordmenn Skotom at-gaungo uppa 
haugin diarfliga. 

Skotar flydo tha af hanginom hverr 
sem matti i brot i fioll. Foro Nord- 
monn tba i bat ana, ok reyro ut til 
lidzins, ok kornoz naudugliga fyrer 
stormi. Enn um myrgynin foro their 
a land efter likom theirra manna sem 
fallit hofdo. Thessir fello thar Hakon 
af Steini, Thorgisl Gloppa, hirdraenn 
Hakonar Konongs. Thar fell godr 
bondi or Thrandheim, er Karlshofut 
her, ok annar bondi or Fiordom er 
Hallkell het. Thar lettost thrir kerti- 
sveinar, Thorstein Batr, Jon Ballho- 
fut, Hallwardr Buniardr. Ugerla 
inatto Nordmenn vita hvat fell af Sko- 
tum thviat their toko hvern er fell ok 
flutto til Skogar. Hakon Konongr let 
flytia lik sinna manna till Kirkio. 


thair boats. Ronald was efterwart 
dryvin out till the schips; but Eilifl 
behavit full mansumly. The Norse- 
men tuk to gatherin thair forces, a 
the Scots gat up on the hicht. Ther 
was then ydent bickering wi derts an 
stanes; but quhan the day grew late, 
the Norsemen facht derfly wi the 
Scots that had gane up on the hill. 

The Scots then fled aff the hicht, 
to the gate to the fell quha micht. 
The Norsemen then fure to their boats, 
an rowit out till thair fleit ; an cam 
luckily afore the storm. The neist 
morniri thay fure to the land, an ga- 
therit the liks o the men that had 
fa win. Thae fell thair; Hakoo Steinie, 
an Thorgyle Gloppa, memoirs o king 
Hako's houshaud. Ther fell too a 
guid vassal frae Drontheim, hat Harls- 
hoft ; an anither vassal frae the 
Fuird, hat Hawkell. Ther fell also 
three candil-servands,* Thorstein 
Batt, John Balihoft, an Harwart Run- 
yard. Onpossibly mat the Norsemen 
wit qnhat fell o the Scots; because 
they tuk them that fell, an flittit thaim 
till the skugs. King Hako luit flit 
the liks of his men till a kirk.f 

* Officers whose charge it was to superintend the lighting of the king's palace, 
t The tradition of the battle is still preserved, among the people at the 
Largs; and the field is still pointed out, a little to the south of the village. 
There were several cairns upon it ; and an upright stone of unhewn granite, 
ten feet in height ; but they have been removed. An immense cairn at the 
Hailley was found to enclose five stone coffins, containing urns and human bones. 
There are several local names in the neighbourhood, that are supposed to bear 
tome reference to the battle, such as Campbill, Killincraig, Keppinburn, etc. 




Fimta dagin let Konongr taka up 
ackerin ok flytia skip sitt ut under 
Kumbrey. Thann dag kom sa her 
til bans er inn hafdi farit i Skipafiord. 
Enn fostudagin efter var vedr gott, 
sendi Konongr tha gesti at brenna 
skip thau erupp hofdo rekit: ok tbann 
sama dag littlo sidarr sigldi Kon- 
ongr uiulan Kumrey ut til Melanze- 
yiar ok la thar nockorar nsetor. 

Tha let Hakon Konongr flytia lik 
Ivars Holms inn til Botar ok var 
hann thar iardadr. 

Efter that sigldi Konongr under 
Melanzey, ok la um nott under Her- 
sey ; ok thadau under Sandey, ok sva 
til Satirismula. 


In fyve days the king luit tak up 
the ankers, and flit the schips to sit 
out under Cumbra. That day he saw 
cumand till him, the fleit quhilk had 
farit in Lech Long. But the fast day 
efter the wathir was gude, and then 
the king sent gests* to bren the schips 
that had rackit agrun : and that samin 
day, a littil syder, the king sailit yont 
Cumbra out till Melansey, an lay 
thair sum nichts. 

Then king Hako luit flit the lik of 
Ivar Howm in till Bute, and he was 
thar yirdit.f 

Efter that the king sailit frae Mel- 
ansey, and lay some nichts neir Arran ; 
then he gade by Sandy, an sae till 
the Mull o Kintvre. 

We have quoted enough, we think, to satisfy the most 
sceptic of the true parentage of the Scottish dialect. The 
transmutation of Icelandic into Scots, \ve see, could not 
have been a difficult process ; and of the fact the language 
bears philological proof. The southern and northern 
dialects of England, as already remarked, were always 
different ; the latter approaching more to the Norse, as 
is shown in the conjugation of the verb: 

* Retainers, or persons belonging to his household. 

t Several stone coffins, covered with cairns, have been found along the 
coast of Bute, opposite to Meikil Cumbra, namely, at Mountstewart, Kerry- 
lament, and Bruchag. These coffins contained ornamented urns and human 
bones ; and the tradition is, that they were the graves of Norwegians, who 
fell at the Battle of the Largs. 








I hop-es. 

jag hopp-as. 




thu hop-es. 

du hopp-as. 




he hop-es. 

han hopp-as. 




we hop-es. 

vi hopp-as. 

11 , 



ye hop-es. 

I hopp-as. 




they hop-es. 

de hopp-as. 




thu hoped-es. 

du lioppad-es. 


hopeth ye. 

hop-es yc. 




to hop-e. 

att hopp-as. 

The northern dialect is otherwise more akin to the 
language of northern Europe in the use of such words as 
end in er, as wulfer, a wolf; hunker, a haunch ; tcamer, 
a team ; heather, heath, etc. The southern dialect assi- 
milates more nearly to the Netherlandish or Low Dutch. 

Grammarians say that the Anglo and Dano-Saxon ; 
like the Latin and Greek, often distinguished the cases 
of its noun, and the conjugations, numbers, and persons 
of its verb, by a change in the vowel of the final syllable; 
in the dialect which succeeded, and which has been called 
the Old English, all these vowels were confounded, and 
in our modern dialect they have, for the most part, been 
lost. This change in the termination caused the intro- 
duction of auxiliary verbs, as well as other radical 
changes. This, to a certain extent, may have been true; 
but from the extract from Bremner it would appear that 
the Swedish, if ever it had a different inflection, must 
have undergone a similar change to the English. 

Pinkerton is of opinion that the Pictish was not a 


written language; but if Anewrin and Merlinus Cale- 
donius were Picts, and whose writings are accessible to 
all acquainted with Welsh Archaeology, it was a written 
language in early times. Indeed it is difficult to believe 
that a nation so superior as to be the only people in the 
country acquainted with building in stone who had, 
unquestionably from their Norwegian ancestors, a know- 
ledge of Runic characters, were otherwise intelligent, 
and had, from both races of their progenitors, bards, and 
skalds to sing and record their transactions were alto- 
gether without literature. The Pictish, after it had fer- 
mented into what is now the Scottish vernacular, no 
doubt prevailed amongst the people, and was the common 
medium of expression for their joys and sorrows, their 
songs and lamentations; but, like the Saxon after the 
Norman conquest, it was excluded alike from the court 
and the church by the Gaelic of the Scots, until the ad- 
vent of Edgar to the crown in 1098, when Norman- 
French (not the Saxon) was substituted for the Gaelic. 
The same cause which retarded Saxon or English litera- 
ture in England, may also have had an influence, though 


of less -effect, on that of Scotland. 'In 1067,' says Pin- 
kerton, ( the Normans conquered England ; but the 
Saxon language remained almost pure till the reign of 
Stephen, when the Saxon Chronicle was written, about 
1150. Nay, a charter of Henry I., about 1130, seems 
vure Saxon. The Ormulum, which I take to have been 


written in the reign of John, about the year 1200, is 
Saxon fermenting into English ; and the very first Eng- 
lish piece seems The Geste of King Horn, written per- 
haps about 1250. Robert of Glocester wrote in or near 
the year 1278, as appears from his work. Robert of 
Brunne finished his Chronicle in 1338, as is evident from 
a MS. colophon given by Hearne ; and it is surprising 
what a difference of language there is between him and 
Robert of Glocester, though only sixty years intervened. 
. . . Brunne being born at Malton, in Yorkshire, his 
language is also very northern. It is proper to observe 
that this deduction might have been more complete, had 
not the chief of English poets written solely in French 
from the Conquest (1067), till Chaucer began to write 
his best pieces, or about 1366, being three centuries.' 
In Scotland, as in England, French was for an equal 
period the language of the polite, and Latin of the learned. 
The coin in the reign of William the Lion bears a French 
inscription ; and Alexander III., in 1249, as Pinkerton 
observes, took his coronation oath in Latin and French. 
Hence ' the, poor bards who entertained the mob might 
recite ballads and short romances in the vulgar tongue ; 
but the minstrels who appeared in the king's or in the 
baron's hall, would use French only, as in England.'* 

* Sir Walter Scott entertained the opinion that the Saxon was the lan- 
guage of the Scottish Court from and after the reign of Malcolm Caenmore: 
and Chalmers, quoting Verstegan to show that the Gaelic was the prevailing 


Xotwithstanding this drawback, the vulgar tongue and 
the bardic literature of the people must have made con- 
siderable progress, seeing that the few specimens already 
quoted of the thirteenth century are so superior. We 
quite agree with Pinkerton in thinking, that l the music 
of these Pictish and Scoto-Pictish songs and ballads, 
perhaps presented early specimens of that exquisite 
expression and simple melody now so deservedly admired 
in Scottish music. The ancient Scandinavian music 
remains, I believe, very obscure ;* so of the Pictish no- 
thing can be said; nor, indeed, of that of the Scoto- 
Pictish era of our language, which extends from the 
ninth to the thirteenth century.' We agree also with 
Pinkerton in thinking that the Scandinavian poetry be- 
queathed to the Scottish a peculiar wildness, which, in 
the ballad form, is so productive of effect. 

That the Scottish dialect and literature, however, is 
not wholly indebted to the Gothic, may be inferred from 
the fact of the great body of the people, ancient Picts 
and Britons, being Celtic. Even Pinkerton unwittingly 

language down to that period, adds something like a corroboration of the 
fact. Verstegan's statement, however, in reference to the Saxon must be 
taken with caution. In so far as it was the language of the Queen, it might 
temporarily prevail ; but there can be little doubt that on the subsequent 
influx of Norman adventurers, who were warmly received by the successors 
of Malcolm, Norman-French became the fashionable speech both of the court 
and nobility. 

* The Scandinavian scale and the Scottish are very similar. The music 
peculiar to Cumberland was unknown throughout the rest of England. 


admits this. Speaking of king Arthur, he says : 'Certain 
it is that the south parts of Scotland were fall of Arthur's 
fame, nor is he better known to the bards of Wales or of 
Bretagne. Almost the whole old English metrical ro- 
mances are written in the north of England or south of 
Scotland, and in the northern dialect. They unani- 
mously place Arthur's court at Carlisle, which seems to 
have been the fact, for no French romances put Char- 
lemagne's court but at Paris. Froisart, in speaking of 
Carlisle, always adds in Wales. Perhaps the Britons in 
Arthur's time were under one sovereign ; after him we 
find kings of many divisions of the Britons. It shall only 
be added on this head, that the very first important 
piece of Scottish poetry we hear of, namely, the Komance 
of Sir Tristrem, by the celebrated Thomas Lerment, the 
rhymer of Ercildoun, was founded on British poetry ; 
Tristrem being one of Arthur's knights. This poem, so 
highly celebrated at the time, was written about 1270, 
but seems now to be unfortunately lost.* However, 
innumerable passages of early Scottish poetry yet remain- 
ing, are strongly tinctured with British tradition.^ 

* An edition of Sir Tristrem was edited by Sir Walter Scott from the 
Aucliinleck MS., in 1804. He surmises that the poem was composed about 
1250. As Thomas of Ercildoun was in the zenith of his reputation at the 
death of Alexander III., in 1286, it has been supposed that he was the 
author of the lines on the death of that monarch, already quoted. 

f Motherwell, in his 'Minstrelsy: Ancient and Modern,' says 'Indeed, 
the most of our old ballads appear to have been equally well known on the 
south as on the north of the Tweed ; but in the Scottish ballads there never 


This is precisely what we contend for, (but elsewhere 
virulently opposed by Pinkerton,) that the Picts were 
originally British, but became greatly mixed by succes- 
sive arrivals of Northmen hence the blending of both 
characteristics in the poetry, music, and language, in 
the Scots. 

The north of England was peopled chiefly by Danes, 
and, as suggested by the learned editor of the Romance 
of Sir Tristrem, the southern province of Scotland and 
the northern of England, which were long under the 
Scottish Crown, may be regarded as the common source 
from whence emanated much of the romance of the 
middle ages.* 

occurs any mention of " Harpers of the North Countrie," which silence, 
taken in conjunction -with the admission of the English hallads, may be 
twisted into something like proof that Scotland was looked on as the accredited 
source of minstrel song. We know her poets did not scruple to acknowledge 
their obligations to Chaucer, as " flour of rethoris al," and even " Dan 
Lydgate" came in for a share of their approbation, along with "moral 
Gower ;" and had her minstrels owed anything to their brethren of the south, 
that debt, no doubt, would also have been gratefully remembered." 

Robert de Brunne testifies the fact, that the northern romances were 
written in English, the southern in French, and that the minstrels marred 
them so much in the reciting that the plebejan audiences could not compre- 
hend them. He says 

' I made noght for no disonrs, 
Ne for no seggours, no harpours, 
Bat for the luf of symple men, 
That strange Englis cannot ken.' 
The northern English was thus different from the southern. 

* Mr Jamieson, in his Northern Ballads, observes, ' There may be remarked 
in all the Scottish and Danish traditionary ballads, a frequent and almost 



In thus bringing our deductions down to the close of 
the thirteenth century, we have only to remark that, 
during the golden age of Scotland, which ceased with 
the reign of Alexander III., music, and, of course, poetry 
and song, were highly cultivated. Aelred, who died in 
1166, shows this, though he speaks in derisive terms of 
the musical extravagance both instrumental and vocal 
of the times. Simon Taylor, a Scottish Dominican 
friar, became the leader of the science, in the following 
century, (about 1210,) and, according to Newton, brought 
Scottish church music to vie with that of Rome itself.* 

The war of independence, and the civil broils which 
followed the death of Robert the Bruce, tended greatly 
to retard the progress of literature, as well as of every- 
thing else ; yet the few productions traceable to the 
fourteenth century are quite equal, if not superior, to 
anything of the same era producible on the southern 
side of the border. Take the following verse from a 
ballad against the Scots, written upon the execution of 
Sir Simon Fraser, 1306 : 

unvaried recurrence of certain terms, epithets, metaphors, and phrases, which 
have obtained general currency, and seem peculiarly dedicated to this kind 
of composition. The same ideas, actions, and circumstances are almost 
uniformly expressed in the same form of words ; and whole lines, and even 
stanzas, are so hackneyed among the reciters of popular ditties, that it is 
impossible to give them their due approbation, and to say to which they 

* Pinkerton. 


' Lystneth, lordynges ; a newe song ichulle bigynne, 
Of the traytours of Scotland, that take beth wyth gyune : 
Mon that loveth falsenesse, and nule never blynne.* 
Sore may him drede the lyf that he is ynne, 

Ich understonde : 
Selde wes he glad 
That nevir nes asad 

Of nyth ant of vnde.f 

To warny alle the geutilmen that bueth in Scotlonde, 
The Waleis wes to drawe, seththe he wes an honge, 
Al quic beheveded, ys bowels ybrend, 
The heved to Londone-brugge wes send, 

To abyde. 

After Simond Frysel, 
That wes traytoar ant fykel, 
Ant ycud ful wyde-' 

This is a genuine specimen of the Saxon fermenting into 

The following is a fragment of a Scottish song written 
on the battle of Bannockburn, 1314 : 

' Miidinis of England soir may ye murne 
Foir your lemmons ye haif lost at Bannockburn 

With Hevaloch ! 

What ! weind the kyng of England 
So sone to haif wone all Scotlande ? 

With Eummiloch ! 

There is much less of the Saxon idiom in this, and 
more poetry, though only a few years later. In short, 
there seems every reason to believe that the Scottish 

* Cease. f Malice and fury. 


vernacular had made greater progress towards purity of 
style and poetic elegance than its sister dialect of Eng- 
land prior to, or even including the age of Chaucer, who 
is universally admitted to be the father of the English 
language. From the scraps of Scottish song alluded to 
by Barbour, James I., and Gawin Douglas, such as 

' There sail be mirtli at our meeting yit.' 

' The schip salis over the salt fame 
Will bring their merchands, and niy leman hame.' 


' I will be blyith and licht ; 
My hart is lent apoun sa gudly wicht.' 

It is evident that poetry had been cultivated in the Scot- 
tish dialect for ages previously, and that the language 
had a source wholly irrespective of the intercourse with 
England ; otherwise all improvement in it, in fact all our 
early Gothic literature, must have flowed from the south. 
Wyntoun records one of the earliest adventures of Sir 
William Wallace, which still lives as a ballad, com- 

' "Wallace in the high highlans, 

Neither meat nor drink got he, 
Said fu' me life, or fa' me death, 
Now to some town I maun be,' etc. 


And he adds 

' Of his gud dedis, and manheid 
Gret gestis, I heard say, ar made ; 
But sa mony, I trow nowcht, 
As he until hys dayis wroucht.' 

Motherwell supposes that 'the industry of Henry the 
minstrel has absorbed the greater number of these gestis 
of the patriot, in the same way that Barbour has appro- 
priated those of Bruce. 

In ' The Complaynt of Scotland/ published, it is 
believed, in 1549, mention is made, amongst numerous 
particular f tayills,' of the ' sweet melodious sangis of 
natural music of the antiquitie,' thus showing that even 
then there existed a lyrical literature of unknown origin. 
Hutcheon of the Awle Royal was probably contemporary 
with Thomas of Ercildoun ; and * besides Sir Tristrem,' 
as Sir Walter Scott remarks, ' there still exist at least 
two Scottish romances, which, in all probability, were 
composed long before the conclusion of the thirteenth 
century. These are entitled Gawan and Gologras, and 
Galoran of Galoway? They contain many allusions to 
the British tribes in Scotland, a proof of their antiquity. 
As Sir Walter farther remarks, to this list might be 
added the History of Sir Edgar and Sir Grime. Only 
a modernized copy of this tale exists, yet the language is 
unquestionably Scottish, and the scene is laid in Carrick, 
in Ayrshire. As Pinkerton remarks, ' Thomas of Ercil- 


doun * (1250) composed before Chaucer ; and even 
Harbour, who wrote in 1375, knew nothing of him 
Chaucer's works not becoming popular in Scotland till 
the following century : and where shall we find, of the 
same age, either more beautiful language or better 
poetry than the historian of Bruce has bequeathed us 
in the lines to Freedom, so often quoted : 

' how Fredom is a nobil thyng ! 
For it maks men to haif lyking. 
Fredom all solace to men givis : 
He lives at eis that frelie livis. 
A nobil hart may haf na eis, 
Nor nocht als that may it pleis, 
If Fredom fale. For fre lyving, 
Is yarnit abone uther thyng. 
he quha hes ay livit fre 
May nocht knaw weil the properte, 
The aungir, nor the wretchit dome, 
That is couplit to thirldom ! 
Bot gif he had assayit it, 
Then all perqueir he micht it wit ; 
And suld think Fredom mair to pryse 
That al the gold men culd devyse.' 

' When Barbour wrote/ says Motherwell, l ballads 
relative to this period appear to have been common ; for 
the poet, in speaking of certain l Thre worthi poyntis of 
wer,' omits the particulars of the ' Thrid which fell into 

* As the language in which the Romance of Sir Tristrem has come down 
to us may have undergone considerable change in the transcription, and 
otherwise, we cannot with propriety quote from it as illustrative of our sub- 
ject at any particular period. 


Esdaill,' being a victory gained by l Scliyr Johne the 
Soullis' over ' Schyr Andrew Hardclay,' for this reason, 

' I will nocht rehers the maner, 
For wha sa likes thai may her, 
Young women quhan thai will play, 
Syng it amang thaini ilk day.' 

Barbour was followed by Andro Wyntoun, about 1410, 
and by James I. in 1420, whose 'Chrystis Kirk on the 
Grene,' ( Peblis to the Play,' etc., are certainly equal to 
anything written by Chaucer. 

It would be easy to multiply examples of the difference 
in language and style between the early literature of 
England and Scotland a distinction which, to a con- 
siderable extent, disappears at a later period, at least 
amongst the more learned of our poets. Though 
Dunbar* and Kennedy wrote with a fine sprinkling of 
the vernacular in their more humorous pieces, yet they 
display a greater approach to a standard common to the 
learned of both countries. To such an extent was the 
introduction of new phrases carried, that honest Gawin 
Douglas, as early as 1496, seriously entered his protest 
against the new-fangled system, and declared his inten- 

* Dunbar, who had travelled and sojourned in England, showed great 
veneration for Chaucer : 

' reverend Chaucer, rose of rethoris al, 
As in oure tongue ane flour imperial 
That raise in Brittane evir,' etc. 


tion to use the pure Scottish idiom, in so far as his 
knowledge of it would enable him. In the preface to 
the translation of Virgil, he says 

' I set my besy pane 

(As that I couth) to mak it brade and plane, 
Kepand no Sodroun, but oure ain langage," 1 etc. 

A recent writer in the Times, alluding to this subject, 
twits the ( patriotic dignitary of Dunkeld ' with his want 
of success in ( kepand no Sodroun ;' but he forgets the 
apology of the poet in reference to his short-coming in 
this respect : 

' Not that oure toung is in the seluin skant, 
But for that I the fouth of language want.' 

Douglas had himself been brought up at Court, where 
French so long prevailed, and where the English of 
Chaucer greatly mixed with Norman French had 
become fashionable. He was, therefore, from his edu- 
cation, deficient in his command of the mother tongue. 
It is evidently to this circumstance he alludes in admit- 
ting that he lacks ' the fouth of language.' 

This protest of Douglas is worthy of remark, as show- 
ing that in his day the difference between the dialects 
of England and Scotland was of a very decided character, 
a difference which gradually became less as education* 

* Many of the learned Scotsmen of the fifteenth century were educated 
at the English Universities. 


and intercourse between the learned of both countries 
increased. Yet it would appear from the records of Ayr, 
and the fact has not been sufficiently noticed, that the Scots 
language was taught in the schools down to the period of 
the Union. 'In 1695, it was enacted by the magistrates 
that " all persons shall be prohibited from keeping a com- 
mon school reading, writing, and arithmetic except 
George Adamson, teacher of the Scots school." ' For the 
preservation of the vernacular as a medium of national 
literature much is attributed to our minstrels ; but if they 
deserve the credit generally accorded to them, they must 
have been of a very different race from those of England. 
As Ritson observes, there is no evidence that ever such 
an order of men existed in England as the minstrels de- 
scribed by Percy, ' who united the arts of poetry and 
music, and sung verses to the harp of their own compos- 
ing.' The minstrels of the middle ages were chiefly Nor- 
man troubadours, who chaunted their ballads in French. 
The minstrels mentioned in English Acts of Parliament, 
and other documents, appear to have been simply musi- 
cians, trumpeters, fiddlers, etc. Motherwell claims a higher 
standing for the minstrels of Scotland, and he refers to the 
sumptuary laws in the time of James III. (A.D. 1471), 
to show that ' they were classed along with " knychtis 
and heraldis," and with such as could spend " a hun- 

* Hist, of Ayrshire, vol. L, p. 195. 


dretht pounds wortht of landis rent." ' But the statute 
is not very clear, and it may be questioned whether min- 
strel and herald were not synonymous terms : ( Item, it 
is statut and ordanit in present parlyament, that consi- 
dering the gret powerte of the Realme, the gret ex- 
pensses and cost mad apon the brynging of silkis in the 
Realme, that thar for na man sal weir silkis in tyme 
cummyng, in gown, doublate, and clokis, except knychtis, 
menstrallis, and Tierraldis, without that the werar of the 
samyn may spend a hundretht pundis wortht of landis 
rent, under the payn of amerciament to the king of x 
lib. als oft as thai ar fundyn, and eschetin of the samyn, 
to be gevyn to the herraldis or menstrallis, except the 
clathis that ar mad befor this parlyament/ etc. The 
term l herraldis or menstrallis,' here used, would seem 
to imply that, if not identical, they were at least similar 
in profession. Nor is he more successful in his reference 
to l the time of James the Sixth, in which a number 
of sapient acts are passed, and amongst the fierce 
enactments against the whole class of maisterfull and 
ydill beggaris, sornaris, fulis, bairdis, etc., there is an 
express provision in favour of the minstrels of great lords 
and the minstrels of towns.' The words of the act are 
' all menstralis, sangstaris, and taill tellaris not avowit 
in speciall service be sum of the lordis of parliament or 
greit barronis, or be the heid burrowis and cities, for 
thair common menstralis.' These minstrels of great lords 


and of towns were simply musicians. In 1586, for ex- 
ample, the Town Council of Ayr enact ' that the common 
minstrels of the town, pyper and drummer, gang dayly 
ilk day through the toun, evening and morning, and gif 
they failzie, they to ressav na meit that day they gang 
not ; sua being that they be not starved be the intem- 
perateness of the weddir.* 

Motherwell himself admits that Blind Harry is the 
only one who can be referred to as coming up to the 
notion we are led to form of the ancient minstrel. * He 
chaunted his heroic strains before the princes and the 
nobles of the land.' But this statement rests alone on 
the authority of Major. At the same time, there cannot 
be a doubt that minstrels whether they chaunted their 
own compositions or not is of little consequence did 
exist. This is proved by the Romance of Sir Tristrem 
itself, as well as by Robert de Brunne, who declares that 
he made his translations neither for f seggours no liar- 
pours^ but for the love of simple men. 

The French minstrels of the middle ages, who fre- 
quented the courts and halls of the barons, were therefore 
of little advantage to English or Scottish literature, 
unless through the medium of translation ; and it is well 
known that Chaucer translated many of these romances 
for the use of the English ballad-singer, who seems to 
have held a similar rank with our sangstaris in later 

* Hist, of Ayrshire, vol. i., p. 190. 


times. Amongst the Celts, the bard was a person of 
considerable importance ; but in the Lowlands of Scot- 
land he seems to have lost caste at a pretty early period. 
It is nevertheless to these bards that we owe the popular 
taste for ballad literature. 

As already remarked, a close amalgamation of the 
Scottish and English dialects began amongst the learned, 
who were chiefly educated at the same seminaries, as 
early as the time of Dunbar, which continued to increase 
as the intercourse of the two countries became more inti- 
mate, till the union of the Crowns, and latterly of the 
Parliaments, rendered the amalgamation closer, and the 
adoption of one standard unavoidable. But, notwith- 
standing this apparent sameness in the written language 
of the two kingdoms during the fifteenth and sixteenth 
centuries, there was nevertheless a broad and deep un- 
der current of a distinct vernacular, which maintained its 
ground in numerous lyrics and rhymes amongst the peo- 
ple, and which has been revived with unexampled pathos 
and effect by Ramsay, Fergusson, and Burns. Nothing 
can illustrate the peculiar character of the Scottish lan- 
guage more than the writings of the three poets just men- 
tioned. Had the Scottish not been, not only a living, but 
a well-understood language, both by peer and peasant, 
in Scotland, and a highly poetic language to boot, their 
works would never have reached the high and inde- 
structible reputation to which they have attained. 


From the historical facts and specimens of early litera- 
ture produced, it is apparent that the Scottish language 
has its source chiefly in the Norwegian branch of the 
Teutonic. It is especially Swedish in its construction 
from which the Anglo-Saxon is also evidently borrowed. 
But it differs from the English, even of Chaucer, in so 
far that it is more Northern, as well as more Celtic, in 
its radical words. Much of the ancient British, or 
Pictish, is mixed with it that people and that language 
upon which the Norwegian w r as superinduced, and which 
unquestionably existed both north and south long after 
the fall of the Pictish and Strathclyde kingdoms. Even 
the English language, as it now prevails, has been calcu- 
lated to contain about an equal number of Saxon and 
Celtic words, with an infusion of French, Latin, Greek, 
Italian, etc.; and Chalmers instances numerous words in 
the vernacular of Scotland as decidedly British such as 
cummer, a godmother, from the British commaer; claver, 
from debar ; kebar, from ceber ; mammy, from mam, etc. 
There are also a vast number from the Gaelic. Our 
lexicographers, such as Johnson in English, and Jamieson 
in Scottish, have not done justice either to the ancient 
British or to the Gaelic, chiefly, we believe, from a want 
of knowledge of these languages. Besides, Jamieson 
had a theory to support, viz., that the Picts were wholly 
Scandinavian ; and of course he felt anxious to trace the 
primary words to a Teutonic-Norwegian root. There 


can be no doubt, however, that he might have found the 
etymology of numerous words, which he has either left 
unexplained, or traced, by a strained effort, to the Gothic, 
at hand in the British or Gaelic. Take, for example, a 
few illustrations in the letter gr: Girran, a small boil 
or pimple, is from the Gaelic, guirean, signifying the 
same thing; gabber, a talker, from gabair ;* gad, a goad, 
from gad, a withe ; gair, keen, covetous, from gair, near- 
ness ; girnall, a large chest, from gairneal ; galnes, satis- 
faction for slaughter, from galmas or galnas, etc. In 
short, any one, by comparing a few pages of a Gaelic 
and a Scottish dictionary, may convince himself of the 
fact we have stated, that the Scottish dialect is replete 
with radical Celtic words, and is, in short, a compound of 
the Celtic and Teutonic the latter predominating, chiefly 
in consequence of the intercourse with England, and the 
general use of the English language. 

In the first volume of 'The Transactions of the So- 
ciety of Antiquaries of Scotland,' there is a l Dissertation 
on the Scoto-Saxon Dialect,' by the learned Dr Geddes, 
in which its peculiar qualities are illustrated in a philo- 
sophical manner. Although differing with the writer in 
some respects as to the origin of the language, we en- 
tirely agree with him in his estimate of its character. 
Alluding to the modification of the Greek and Latin 

* This word was in use amongst the Gauls. 


tongues, by the use of diminutives and aitgmentatives, 
he says : 

1 Hence it is that the Italians, not without reason, boast 
of their language as being the most copious and expres- 
sive of modem tongues, and are wont to give as an 
instance the word capello ; from which they have the 
diminutives capelletto, capellino, capelluccio, of which the 
last two express prettiness likewise, and the augmenta- 
tives capellone, capellaccio, of which the last brings also 
the idea of ugliness. 

But the Scots seems to be richer, at least in diminu- 
tives, than the Italian, and to equal the Greek itself. 
For the word equivalent to capello may be diminutively 
modified after all the following manners : Hat, hatty, 
hattik, hat'iku, hattikin ;* nor are these used indiscrimi- 
nately, any more than capelletto and capellino. 

Nor were the Scots entirely without augmentatives. 
These were formed by adding um to adjectives and o to 
substantives ; as greatum, goodum, heado, mano. It is 
true they are both become obsolete ; yet it is not many 
years ago since I heard a farmer's wife laughing heartily 
at her neighbour for calling a horse of a middle size a 
horsie ! l He is more like a horsoj said she. 

* It has been remarked by grammarians, that the 
Latins, in order to make their common diminutives still 

* So corresponding to the Greek examples Man, manny, mannik, man- 
niky t and mannikin, ; lass, lossy, lassik, lassiky, and lassikin. 


more diminutive, sometimes prefixed the words parvus, 
minutus, etc., as parva, munuscuta, minutae interrogate- 
unculae. So the Scots, a little manikin, a wee wifikin, 
and a wee-wee babiky, etc. 

' With regard to the variety of compounds, both Eng- 
lish and Scots are greatly defective, compared with some 
other languages ; but the former, I think, is more so than 
the latter. When I speak of compounds, I mean not 
here such as we have adopted from the Greek and Latin, 
as philosophy, mathematics) consecration, concurrence, etc.; 
but such as are made up of two or more Saxon terms, 
whether separable or inseparable, as man servant, maid 
servant, stone-cutter, heedless, childish, untoward, godlike, 
unjustly, loathsome, etc. In all these and similar com- 
binations, the Scots is equally rich with the English, 
and has in some of them a variety of forms unknown to 
the English. Thus we use either ty or tith, as poverty 
and poortith, rarefy and raretith; dom or rik, as kingdom 
and kingrik ; ly or sum, as ugly or ugsum ; un or wan, as 
unlucky, wanchancy, unhappy, wanwierdy. And this last 
mentioned particle is used not only with adjectives, but 
also with substantives ; as wan-rest, wan-hope, wanworth, 
wan-thrift, wan-heil, wan-thank* etc. 

* Of inflexion there is nearly the same (that is very 
little) variety in both Scots and English. Here we 

* We have still some vestiges of this sort of combination in English ; as 
untruth, unrest. 


equally feel our wants ; arid the more so, as there is little 
hope of their ever being supplied. How our forefathers 
could abandon the principles of Saxon grammar to adopt 
those of one so inferior to it, is certainly matter of asto- 
nishment ; but so it is. I am inclined to believe that the 
authority of Chaucer contributed not a little towards 
completing this revolution in English literature ; for in 
Wiclef, who preceded him but a few years, we find many 
traces of pure Saxonism. Some of these the first Scot- 
tish writers retained ; and many more of them, not half 
a century ago, were employed in common speech. On 
the whole, the inflexions of Scottish grammar were more 
varied and less anomalous than those of English gram- 
mar, as anyone may convince himself by reading Douglas's 
Virgil, or the admirable Catechism of Archbishop Ha- 

1 The superior ENERGY of a language (independent of 
peculiarity of style) seems to consist in this, that it can 
express the same sentiments in fewer words and with 
fewer symbols than any other; and this, I apprehend, is 
the just boast of the English. Our numerous monosyl- 
lables, rough, rigid, and inflexible as our oaks, are capable 
of supporting any burthen ; whilst the polysyllables ot 
our southern neighbours^Vall, smooth, and slender, like 
the Lombardy poplar, bend under the smallest weight. 
From this, no doubt, arises the confessed superiority of 
our poetry ; especially of the higher kinds, the epic and 



tragic. This also gives a peculiar strength to our apoph- 
thems, and to every sort of composition where strength is 
a chief ingredient. 

1 It would be ridiculous to attempt a general com- 
parison between the Scottish and English poetry : it 
would be comparing a small grove to an immense forest : 
yet in those kinds of poetry which the bards of Scotland 
chiefly cultivated, the historical, allegorical, and satirical 
tale, and the tragic and comic ballad, I would engage to 
pick out of the few of their compositions that remain, 
several pieces in every respect equal, in energy far supe- 
rior, to any contemporary English production. Nay, I 
know not if, in any language whatever, a more energetic 
composition can be produced than the well-known ballad 
of Hardyknute. It consists almost entirely of radical 
words. In 776 lines there are not above ten trisyllables, 
and four of these are proper names.* 

( Although harmony and energy be not altogether in- 
compatible, it is certain that they are never found in the 
same proportion in the same language. Muscular 
strength and lovely symmetry are rarely conjoined : 
Adonis is not a Hercules, nor Venus a Thalestris. The 
languages allowed to be the most harmonious are the 
Greek and Italian ; and the nearer any other approaches 

* I am well aware that Hardyknute is a modern production ; but it is so 
perfect an imitation of the best Scottish composition, that it may fairly serve 
as an example of their excellence. 


to their genius, the more harmonious it is accounted. In 
this scale of estimation, the English, like all other nor- 
thern dialects, is far from being high. Its hissing sounds, 
its clusters of uncoalesing consonants, the little variety 
of its inflexions, and the paucity of its polysyllables, are 
all against its harmony ; and it requires much art and 
labour in the arrangement of words and sentences to 
make it in any degree melodious. 

1 If it now be asked whether of the two dialects, the 
Scoto-Saxou or the Anglo-Saxon, I think the least uri- 
harmonious, I readily give my suffrage, such as it is, in 
favour of the former.' 

The reasons for this opinion Dr Geddes gives at some 
length. Suffice it to say, he finds fewer hissing sounds, 
less harsh combinations, while 'even the vowel sounds 
that predominate in the Scottish dialect, are of themselves 
more harmonious than those which are the most preva- 
lent in English.' 

The only drawback to this general commendation is to 
be found in the guttral cA, which, as Dr Geddes remarks, 
1 must be highly disagreeable to an English, French, 
or Italian ear :' yet it prevails in all the other Teutonic 
languages, and is considered by the Germans, Swedes, 
Danes, and Dutch, as having nothing harsh in it. It 
may even 'become a beauty in the hand of a skilful 

Thus it would appear from philological demonstration, 


that the Scottish language is not deficient in any of those 
requisites which constitute, as Dr Geddes says, perfection 
in a language richness, energy, and harmony. If we 
had ever entertained any doubts upon the subject, it 
would have been in reference to the energy of the Scot- 
tish. The example cited, however, by Dr Geddes (Har- 
dyknute) is a satisfactory evidence of the force of the 

The Doctor himself has supplied one or two imitations 
of ancient Scottish, in which, by a studied and scholar- 
like attention to the peculiar sound of the letters and the 
idiom of the language, he has succeeded in demonstrating 
how nearly it approaches to the original Icelandic, from 
which it is derived.* The extract is somewhat lengthy, 
but it cannot fail to prove interesting to the reader : 




HUYL we fre nati' felds an' derest hem 
Ar fors't to fle, in forran klyms to rem ; 
Thu raxt at ez, aniou the shadan bus 
that brad bech, ineist wu the silvan mus 
An' tech the wu'ds, responsif to thy leis 
To ckho bak far Amarillis' preis. 

* The Doctor, at the same time, indulged in the belief that it was derived 
from the Anglo-Saxon. 



A God he was, my frend ! At lest to me 
The god-lyk miin a god sal ivir be, 
Hua ga' this invy'd blis : hens aft, as du, 
My fattist lam's his altar sal imbu. 
He bad my bevs, as huylom fre to fed ; 
s Y list, to tun my rustik red. 


Thy lot and luk, in thir vmlukki deis, 
Myn adnnrashon, not myn iuvy reis : 
Sith til ariin' huiire'r Y tuni myn e 
Nokht but distrubil in the land Y se. 
Lo ! her ; thir gbts wi mikil pyn Y dryv ; 
And en, that en, Y drekhli drag aly v ! 
She, mang the hizils, kidan' on a rok, 
Ther left hir tnins, the hop of a 5 my flok. 
Ah ! gin sum glamor had ne bler't ur en, 
Lang syn this ivil mokht we ha' forseu, 
Hu aft the blastit ak an' bodan kra 
Tald us, misfortuu was ue far awa. 
But T it'rus ! sei, gif it be fur to sper, 
Huat fav'ran' God he is, hua keps the her. 


Melebeus ! 'or y ged to Kern, 
Y thokht that citi lyk ur an at hem ; 
To huilk, nu sivir't fre their bletan' diims, 
"W6 shephirds dryv, on markat-deis ur lams. 
Huat ful was Y ? For Hem as far exeds 
All uther tiins, as firs our-tup the reds. 

But, sei, to Kern huat motif mad the hy ? 



The best of motifs, frend ! Far liberty ; 
Huilk, tho' but short-sin-syn she on me dan'd 
And ne till eld had with his hori hand 
Bespren't my tempils an' my chin wi' grei ; 
Yit dan'd at last, an' apin't into dei : 
Sin (Galatea banis't fre my brest) 
Suet Amarillis a' my sal posses't. 
For Y confes, to ny it wer in vein, 
Huyl Galatea hkld me in hir trhein, 
Y nouther liik't for liberti ; nor kar't 
Hu wi' mysel' or wi' my floks it far't. 
Tho' futh of fatlin's aften wer sent dun, 
An' wal o' kebbaks to th' ungratfu' tiin ; 
Th' ungratfu tun but ill repeid my kar ; 
My purs kam rarli ladin fre the far. 


Y wundir't huat mad Amarillis kry 
To a the gods that wun abun the sky : 
Huy on the tres unpu'd hir apils htlng, 
And huy she ne mer ply'd the mirri sang. 
Tit'rus was dbsint like shrub an' tre 
An' bruk an' funtin, Tit'rus ! murn't for the. 


Huat su'd Y dii ? Nen uther men Y sa 
To kep dred thraldom's hivi curs awa. 
Nor ku'd Y hop in oni uthir huer 
To met wi' gods se bontiful as ther. 
Ther Melebeus ! ther my langan' en 
First sa the Ghiith, belen't us frem aben, 
To huam tuel tyms ur itltars ilken gher 
Wi' gratfu' viktims rekan' sal aper. 
'Twas fre his lips Y her'd thir wurds divyn : 
' Suains ! fed ghiir floks (he sad) as ald-lang-syn . 



Hsippi kid man ! An' se thy felds reman 
Thyn a'n poseshon? ilke thing thyn a'n ! 
Enukh, Y wat, for thy contentit mynd : 
For tho' but bar an' barran, in its kynd ; 
Tho' stens invad the hikhts, an' segs the plan, 
Yet still, 6 plesant thokht ! 'tis a 1 thyn a'n. 
Thy pregnant ious ne fremit girs sdl rot, 
Ne murrin tint them fre a fremit kot. 
Huppi aid man ! her, mid thy nati' burns 
An' funtins bublan fre ther sakred urns, 
Aniou the shad of odor-brethan' tres 
Thu sitst an' katehist the refreshan' brez : 
Huyl, aft ghon osier-hedj (wha's arli fliirs 
The human' be with egernis deviirs) 
Siil with its gentil suzurashons step 
Thy klosand en in blist an' bami slfep : 
On t'uthir syd, the primirs rustick sdng 
The bami slep sal plesantli prolang : 
Nor sal the tnrtil or the kushi-dii, 
(Ghur kar) refus their lii-lorn nbts to ghii. 


An' therefor, suner sal the bunsan' der 
Fed in the ar, an' fish on land apper ; 
Suner sal Parthians o' the Arar drink 
An' German Goths inhabit Tigris' brink ; 
(Beth wullan' exyls fre the spot thei luv't) 
'Or fre my brest his imaj be remuv't. 


But we mun pas thro' trdks unkent befor, 
To Scytia's frezand, Afrik's burnan 1 shor ; 
To huer Oaxis rous his rapid tyd : 
An' Britan klift fre k' the wilrld besyd. 


Ah ! sal Y nivir, in the kiirs o' tym, 

Ens mer revisit this my nati' klym ? 

Ens mer wi' joiful au' wi wundran' en 

Behkd my humbil kot beturft wi' gren. 

An' reinstatit in myn aid doman, 

Be lard of a' the tenement agan. 

Or sal sum sqjer or sum sojer's boi, 

My wel-fakht rigs for ivir-mer injoi ? 

A vyl barbarian rep my goudin felds ? 

Se ! citizens, huat c"ivil discord ghelds ! 

Gang, nii, an' plant, inokulat an' graff, 

An' prim ghiir vyns, that fremit fouk mei quaff ! 

Awa ! my gbts ! short-syn en happi flok, 

Ne mer (huyl pendan' fre the tnftit rok 

Ghe krap the tendir aromatick fliir) 

Sal Y, reklynand in sum shadoi bur, 

Be had ghu bruzan' ne mer, huyl ghe bruz, 

Attun my pyp to the inspiran' Mus. 


Yit her, at lest this nikht, unhappi suan ! 
In this wel-shadit bur wi' me reman. 
A ruth o' uii-pu't apils ryp an' rar, 
Tchesnuts, an' kruds, an' krem sal be ghur far. 
Lo ! kurls o' rek fre mb'ran kots ascend, 
An' langir shados fre the hils protend ! 

It is perhaps because our poetical literature is chiefly 
of the amatory, pathetic, or humorous cast, with but little 
of the didactic, heroic, or dramatic, that 'we have been 
led to consider it less capable of high sentiment and pas- 
sion. Had there been a Shakspeare in Scottish as there 
is in English, the case would have been very different. 


Whoever has witnessed the representation of Macklin's 
; Man of the World,' must be convinced of this. Sir 
Arcliy MacSarcasm is of course a satire on the national 
character; nevertheless it is well drawn, and the lan- 
guage, in the mouth of one acquainted with its peculiar 
idiom and expression, is full of energy and power. In 
the scene between father and son, when the old man's 
policy and plans of family aggrandisement are not only 
thwarted but logically impugned by the latter, the ex- 
clamation ' Haud yir jabber, man !' which he makes in 
a tornado of disappointment and passion, conveys to the 
Scottish ear a sense of much stronger feeling and expres- 
sion than could possibly be done by the synonymous 
words in English, l Hold your tongue, Sir !' 

The comparative strength of the two languages may, 
however, be open to question ; but in pathos, arch or 
broad humour, the Scottish, we hold, cannot be excelled. 
We might fill a volume with illustrations; but shall 
content us with two well-known modern specimens 
the one by Burns, and the other by Allan Cun- 
ningham. The subjects of both belong to the fair sex. 
The one desires to sketch off, in a few sweeping lines, a 
most ill-favoured and unloesome daughter of Eve, and 
his command of Scottish at once enables him to do so in 
the most graphic manner : 

Willie "Wastle dwalt on Tweed, 

The spot they ca'd it Liukum-doddie ; 


Willie was a wabster guid, 

Cou'd stown a clue wi' ony bodie : 
He had a wife was dowr and din, 

tinkler Maidgie was her mither ; 
Sic a wife as Willie had, 

1 wadnae gie a button for her. 

She has an e'e she has but ane, 

The cat has twa the very colour ; 
Five rusty teeth, forbye a stump, 

A clapper-tongue wad deave a miller ; 
A whiskin' beard about her mou,' 

Her nose and chin they threaten ither 
Sic a wife as Willie had, 

I wadnae gie a button for her. 

She's bow-hough'd, she's hem-shinn'd, 

Ae limpin' leg a hand-breed shorter ; 
She's twisted right, she's twisted left, 

To balance fair in ilka quarter : 
She has a hump upon her breast, 

The twin o' that upon her shouther 
Sic a wife as Willie had, 

I wadnae gie a button for her. 

Auld baudrans by the ingle sits, 

An' wi' her loof her face a-washin' ; 
But Willie's wife is nae sae trig, 

She dights her grunzie wi' a hushion ; 
Her walie nieves, like midden-creels, 

Her face wad fyle the Logan-Water 
Sic a wife as Willie had, 

I wadnae gie a button for her. 

There is a picture, so broad, so marked, that no other lan- 
guage could paint ! 



Allan Cunningham sings of one of the loveliest of 
human beings an angel in woman's form. How silver} 7 , 
how heavenly are the words, supplied from the same fount 
whence Burns drew the very opposite ! 

There's kames o' hinney 'tween my luve's lips, 

And gowd amang her hair, 
Her breasts are lapt in a halie veil, 

Nae mortal een keek there. 
What lips daur kiss, or what han' daur touch, 

Or what arm of love daur span 
The hinney lips, the creamy loof, 

Or the waist o' Ladie Ann. 

She kisses the lips o' her bonnie red rose, 

Wat wi' the blabs o' dew ; 
But nae gentle lip, nor semple lip 

Maun touch her ladie mou'. 
But a broider'd belt wi' a buckle o' gowd, 

Her jimpy waist maun span ; 
she's an armfu' fit for heaven, 

My bonnie Ladie Ann. 

Her bower casement is lattic'd wi' flowers, 

Tied up wi' silver thread ; 
And comely sits she in the midst, 

Men's langing een to feed. 
She waves her ringlets frae her cheek, 

Wi' her milky, milky han' ; 
And her cheeks seem touch'd wi the finger o' God, 

My bonnie Ladie Ann ! 

The morning cloud is tassel'd wi' gowd, 

Like my luve's broider'd cap, 
And on the mantle which my luve wears, 

Are mony a gowden drap. 


Her bonnie e'ebrce's a halie arch, 
Cast by nae earthlic han', 

And the breath o' God's atween the lips 
my bonnie Ladie Ann ! 

"Which of all the poets, in any or all of the dialects of 
Saxon England, could produce a ballad equal to Lady 
Ann ? The Scottish is thus, as we have shown, from 
the earliest down to the most recent specimens, not a 
mere dialect of the English, as some would have it, but a 
distinct branch of the great Teutonic family. It seems 
doubtful, however, that the vernacular of Scotland can 
long maintain its ground in the face of so many opposing 
circumstances. The thorough identity of interests exist- 
ing between the inhabitants on both sides of the Tweed 
the amalgamation of government offices the continual 
intercourse going on between all parts of the empire by 
commerce, by written communications and printed intel- 
ligences; and above all, through the medium of the 
schools, where the English language, as it has been some- 
what anomalously called, is the universal standard. It 
can hardly be expected that oral, or fireside education, 
can prove a match for the well-organised and aggressive 
system of the public instructor ; and yet it is surprising 
how tenaciously the mother tongue of a people clings to 
existence. It may be impossible to check the onward 
and natural progress of events, yet we see no reason why 


any undue means should be taken to hasten the extinc- 
tion if extinguished it must be of the Scottish language. 
It is not inferior, as we have shown, to that of the schools, 
in any or all of the elements of speech,* and it is the 
medium of a body of literature, in many respects inimi- 
table, and which must have originated more than a 
thousand years ago. 

It is said that the Latin was the language of the 
learned amongst the Romans, but not the vernacular 
of the people, and that the Italian, by which the Latin 
has been superseded, even in ancient Romana, is the true 
descendant of what was then considered the vulgar 


tongue. If this be correct, there is still a hope that the 
vernacular of the British people may co-exist with the 
present artificial language of the learned in Britain, 
though, from the universal extension of schools, as well 
as of the press, it has riot the same chance with that of 
the Romans. It is pleasant, however, to observe that 
numerous words, both Saxon and Scots, long ago con- 
sidered obsolete by the literary world, are now finding a 
well-deserved place in our best modern dictionaries, and 
rapidly coming into use amongst first-class orators and 
writers. Since the English language, from the time of 
Chaucer downwards, has gradually ceased to be the 

* We have often listened with delight to tlie Scottish language, when spoken 
by some octogenarian of tlie higher and better educated classes. 


speech of any section of the original people, we do not 
see how the more expressive or beautiful words peculiar 
to any of the old dialects should be thrown aside. 
Wherever they appear they give harmony and strength 
to the sentence. 



Just Published, in One Volume, post Svo, price 5s, 






Editor of " Kay's Edinburgh Portraits;" Author of "The Contemporaries of Burns ;" 
History of the County and Families of Ayr ;" " Memoir of 
James Fillans, Sculptor," ic. <fec. 






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2. History of the County and Families of Ayr, 2 vols., super- 

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3. The Contemporaries of Burns, demy 8vo. 

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