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Title: Fians, Fairies and Picts
Author: MacRitchie, David, 1861-1925
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: PLATE I.







     "Sometimes ... it seems that the stones are really
     speaking--speaking of the old things, of the time when the strange
     fishes and animals lived that are turned into stone now, and the
     lakes were here; and then of the time when the little Bushmen lived
     here, so small and so ugly, and used to sleep in the wild dog
     holes, and in the 'sloots,' and eat snakes, and shoot the bucks
     with their poisoned arrows ... Now the Boers have shot them all, so
     that we never see a little yellow face peeping out among the stones
     ... And the wild bucks have gone, and those days, and we are
     here."--WALDO, in _The Story of an African Farm._




The following treatise is to some extent a re-statement and partly an
amplification of a theory I have elsewhere advanced.[1] But as that
theory, although it has been advocated by several writers, especially
during the past half-century, is not familiar to everybody, some remarks
of an explanatory nature are necessary. And if this explanation assumes
a narrative form, not without a tinge of autobiography, it is because
this seems the most convenient way of stating the case.

It is now a dozen years or thereabouts since I first read the "Popular
Tales of the West Highlands," by Mr. J.F. Campbell, otherwise known by
his courtesy-title of "Campbell of Islay." Mr. Campbell was, as many
people know, a Highland gentleman of good family, who devoted much of
his time to collecting and studying the oral traditions of his own
district and of many lands. His equipment as a student of West Highland
folklore was unique. He had the necessary knowledge of Gaelic, the
hereditary connection with the district which made him at home with the
poorest peasant, and the sympathetic nature which proved a master-key in
opening the storehouse of inherited belief. It is not likely that
another Campbell of Islay will arise, and, indeed, in these days of
decaying tradition, he would be born too late.

In reading his book, then, for the first time, what impressed me more
than anything else in his pages were statements such as the following:--

     "The ancient Gauls wore helmets which represented beasts. The
     enchanted king's sons, when they come home to their dwellings, put
     off _cochal_ [a Gaelic word signifying], the husk, and become men;
     and when they go out they resume the _cochal_, and become animals
     of various kinds. May this not mean that they put on their armour?
     They marry a plurality of wives in many stories. In short, the
     enchanted warriors are, as I verily believe, nothing but real men,
     and their manners real manners, seen through a haze of
     centuries.... I do not mean that the tales date from any particular
     period, but that traces of all periods may be found in them--that
     various actors have played the same parts time out of mind, and
     that their manners and customs are all mixed together, and truly,
     though confusedly, represented--that giants and fairies and
     enchanted princes were men ... that tales are but garbled popular
     history, of a long journey through forests and wilds, inhabited by
     savages and wild beasts; of events that occurred on the way from
     east to west, in the year of grace, once upon a time" (I.
     cxv.-cxvi.). "The Highland giants were not so big but that their
     conquerors wore their clothes; they were not so strong that men
     could not beat them, even by wrestling. They were not quite
     savages; for though some lived in caves, others had houses and
     cattle and hoards of spoil" (I. xcix.). "And though I do not myself
     believe that fairies _are_ ... I believe there once was a small
     race of people in these islands, who are remembered as fairies, for
     the fairy belief is not confined to the Highlanders of Scotland"
     (I. c.) "This class of stories is so widely spread, so
     matter-of-fact, hangs so well together, and is so implicitly
     believed all over the United Kingdom, that I am persuaded of the
     former existence of a race of men in these islands who were smaller
     in stature than the Celts; who used stone arrows, lived in conical
     mounds like the Lapps, knew some mechanical arts, pilfered goods
     and stole children; and were perhaps contemporary with some species
     of wild cattle and horses and great auks, which frequented marshy
     ground, and are now remembered as water-bulls and water-horses, and
     boobries, and such like impossible creatures" (IV. 344).

And much more to the same effect,[2] with which it is unnecessary to
trouble the reader. Now, all this was quite new to me. If I had ever
given a second thought to the so-called "supernatural" beings of
tradition, it was only to dismiss them, in the conventional manner as
creatures of the imagination. But these ideas of Mr. Campbell's were
decidedly interesting, and deserving of consideration. It was obvious
that tradition, especially where there had been an intermixture of
races, could not preserve one clear, unblemished record of the past; and
this he fully recognised. But it seemed equally obvious that the
"matter-of-fact" element to which he refers could not have owed its
origin to myth or fancy. The question being fascinating, there was
therefore no alternative but to make further inquiry. And the more it
was considered, the more did his theory proclaim its reasonableness. He
suggests, for example, that certain "fairy herds" in Sutherlandshire
were probably reindeer, that the "fairies" who milked those reindeer
were probably of the same race as Lapps, and that not unlikely they were
the people historically known as Picts. The fact that Picts once
occupied northern Scotland formed no obstacle to his theory. And when I
learned that the reindeer was hunted in that part of Scotland as
recently as the twelfth century, that remains of reindeer horns are
still to be found in the counties of Sutherland, Ross, and Caithness,
sometimes in the very structures ascribed to the Picts, then I perceived
this to be a theory which, to quote his words, "hung well together."
Further, the actual Lapps are a small-statured race, the fairies also
were so described, and this, too, I found to be the traditional idea
regarding the Picts. Here the identification was closer still. Then
came the consideration: The fairies lived in hollow hillocks and under
the ground: what kind of dwellings are the Picts supposed to have
occupied? The answer to this question still further strengthened Mr.
Campbell's conjecture. There yet exist numerous underground structures
and artificial mounds whose interior shows them to have been
dwelling-places; and these are in some places known as "fairy halls" and
in others as "Picts' houses." (Illustrations of these are shown in the
present volume, and are specially referred to in the annexed paper.)

The examination, therefore, of this interesting theory not only helped
greatly to bear out its probable correctness, but it further began to
appear that by following this method of inquiry new lights might be
thrown upon history--perhaps upon very remote history. It was clear that
the question was not a simple one. All tradition is obscured by the
darkness of time, and genuine fact is mixed up with ideas which belong
to the world of religion and of myth. Even in Mr. Campbell's own
statements there were seeming contradictions. These, however, it is not
my present purpose to discuss; since they do not vitally affect his main

The Lapp-Dwarf parallel was gone into very fully by Professor Nilsson in
his _Primitive Inhabitants of Scandinavia_, written twenty years before
the "West Highland Tales." Not that he, either, was the originator of
that theory, for it is frequently referred to by Sir Walter Scott, who
accepted it himself.[3] "In fact," he says, "there seems reason to
conclude that these _duergar_ [in English, _dwarfs_] were originally
nothing else than the diminutive natives of the Lappish, Lettish and
Finnish nations, who, flying before the conquering weapons of the Asae,
sought the most retired regions of the north, and there endeavoured to
hide themselves from their eastern invaders." Scott, again, refers us
back to Einar Gudmund, an Icelandic writer of the second half of the
sixteenth century, whom I would cite as the earliest "Euhemerus" of
northern lands, were it not for the fact that he is obviously much more
than a theorist, and is beyond all doubt speaking of an actual race, as
may be seen from an incident which he relates.

But, although the popular memory may retain for many centuries the
impress of historical facts, these become inevitably blurred and
modified by the lapse of time and the ignorance of the very people who
preserve the tradition. As an illustration of this, I may cite the
instance of the dwarfs of Yesso, referred to in the following pages.
These people still survived as a separate community until the first
half of the seventeenth century, if not later. They occupied
semi-subterranean or "pit" dwellings, and are said to have been under
four feet in height. But, although the modern inhabitants of that island
still describe them, on the whole, in these terms, a new belief
regarding them has recently sprouted up in one corner. The Aïno word
signifying "pit-dweller" is also not unlike the word for a burdock leaf.
It was known that those dwarfs were little people. Obviously, then,
their name must have meant "people living under burdock leaves" (instead
of "in pits"). And so, to some of the modern natives of Yesso, those
historical dwarfs of the seventeenth century "were so small that if
caught in a shower of rain or attacked by an enemy, they would stand
beneath a burdock leaf for shelter, or flee thither to hide."[4]

In that instance, we see before our eyes the whole process by which a
real race has been transformed into an unreal impossibility, within a
period of two centuries or so. Had the extinction (or modification by
inter-marriage or by the processes of evolution) of those Yesso dwarfs
taken place a thousand years earlier, the difficulty of identifying them
would have been greatly increased. After a race has once disappeared
from sight, the popular terms describing it must become more vague and
confused with every century. Thus, in a certain traditional Scotch story
there is mention of a number of "little black creatures with spades."
The description is delightfully comprehensive. It would be quite
applicable to a gang of Andaman coolies. On the other hand, if we
exclude the "spades," it might be applied to any "little black
creatures"--say a colony of tadpoles or of black-beetles. So that, when
a poet or an artist gets hold of a tradition which has reached this
stage of uncertainty, he may give the reins to his fancy, so long as he
portrays some kind--any kind--of "little black creatures."[5]

Before parting altogether from the Yesso dwarfs, notice may be taken of
a folk-tale containing an incident which obviously derives its
existence from them, or from a branch of their race. In Mr. Andrew
Lang's "Green Fairy Book" there is introduced a certain Chinese "Story
of Hok Lee and the Dwarfs." It appears to be also current in Japan, to
judge from a reviewer's remark, that "the clever artist who has
illustrated the book must have known the Japanese story, for he gets
some of his ideas from the Japanese picture-maker." In the story of Hok
Lee the dwarfs are represented as living in subterranean dwellings, and
in the picture they are portrayed as half-naked, with (for the most
part) shaggy beards and eyebrows, and bald heads. It is wonderfully near
the truth. The baldness is one of the most striking characteristics of
those actual dwarfs, and is caused by a certain skin-disease, induced by
their dirty habits, from which a great number of them suffer, or did
suffer. The shaggy beards and eyebrows are equally characteristic of the
race; and their custom of occupying half-underground dwellings has given
them the name by which they are remembered in Japan at the present day.
The exact scene of the story is a matter of minor importance. Those
people appear to have been known to the Chinese for at least twelve
centuries, and to the Japanese for a much longer period. Thus, it was
quite unnecessary for any novelist in China or Japan to _invent_ such
people, since they already existed. As for the details of that
particular story, or of any other of the kind, it is not to be supposed
that a belief in its historical basis necessarily implies an acceptance
of every statement contained in it. On this principle, one would be
bound to accept the truth of every "snake-story," for the simple reason
that one believed in the existence of snakes. Still, it is possible, and
perhaps not improbable, that tales which preserve the memory of those
people, may also be fairly accurate in many of the statements made
regarding them. The reason, however, of introducing this particular
story is to show that the Chinese or Japanese romancer did not require
to _create_ a race of bald-headed, shaggy, half-wild dwarfs, seeing that
that had already been done for him by the Creator.

Those to whom this question is a new one will now see what is the point
of view of the realist or euhemerist with regard to such traditions. He
sees here and there in the past, through much intervening mist,
something that looks like a real object, and he tries to define its
outlines. He has no intention of denying, as some have vainly imagined,
that there _is_ an intervening mist. Nor, it seems necessary to explain,
does he assume that wherever there is a mist there must be some tangible
object behind it. For example, he does not believe that Boreas, or
Zephyrus, or Jack Frost were ever anything but personifications of
certain natural forces.

Various other considerations have also to be borne in mind; not the
least important of which is the fact that the very people who have
preserved these traditional beliefs have done much to obscure them,
owing to their want of education. Scott tells a story of a Scotch
peasant who, discovering a company of gaily-dressed puppets standing in
a thicket, where they had been concealed by a travelling showman, at
once concluded that they were "fairies." He had inherited the belief
that fairies were "little people" who frequented just such places as
this; consequently, he decided these were fairies. This fact was
elicited in court, where the countryman had to appear as a witness. From
that time onward his mind ought to have been disabused of his hasty
belief. But a man so stupid as to assume that a showman's marionettes
were anything else than lifeless dolls, might continue for the rest of
his life to recount his marvellous meeting with "the fairies."
Similarly, to a tipsy man returning homeward from market, many common
and every-day objects take on a weird and superhuman aspect, due to no
other spirits than those he has consumed. From this cause, a large
number of odd stories (such as one told by Mr. William Black of a tipsy
Hebridean) has doubtless arisen. Further, the belief in the existence of
"supernatural" beings has been much utilised by rustic humourists, and
no doubt also by smugglers and other night-birds, in comparatively
recent times. The prolonged absence of a husband, or it may be of a
wife, could be explained by some wild legend of having been "stolen by
the fairies," when a more frank avowal dared not be offered. And
although "strange tales were told" regarding the paternity of "Brian,"
in _The Lady of the Lake_, and although Scott adheres to those legends
in his poem, he does not fail to point out in his appended _Note_ that
the story could be explained in a much more rational manner. There have
been many "Brians."

To give this subject the special attention which it deserves would,
however, swell these introductory notes to an intolerable size; and,
indeed, their purpose is rather to show what the euhemeristic theory is
than what it is not; that is to say, the euhemeristic theory as applied
to the traditions relating to dwarf races.

In the work to which I have referred, the opinions enunciated by
Professor Nilsson and Mr. J.F. Campbell, together with other
developments which suggested themselves to me, were duly set forth, and
were received, as was to be expected, with every form of comment, from
complete approval to entire dissent. Among the adverse criticisms, some
arose from a misapprehension of the case, while others were due to the
critic's imperfect acquaintance with the subject he professed to
discuss. But besides these, there were of course the legitimate
objections which can always be urged in matters of a debateable
character, where there is no positive evidence on either side. With
regard to such I can at least echo the words of one of the most eminent
and most courteous of my opponents, M. Charles Ploix, and say for
euhemerism what he says for naturalism:--"Tant que la théorie sur
laquelle il s'appuie n'aura pas été démontrée fausse par des arguments
décisifs, et surtout tant qu'elle n'aura pas été remplacée par une
hypothèse plus certaine, il pourra continuer à s'affirmer."[6]

It ought to be mentioned that the following paper was written for the
Folk-Lore Society, at one of whose meetings (in February 1892) it was
subsequently read. As, however, the Council of that Society ultimately
decided that the paper was unsuited for publication in a journal devoted
to the study of folk-lore, it now appears in a separate form. One
advantage to be derived from this is that the illustrations which
accompanied the lecture, and which are of much importance in enabling
one to understand the argument, can also be reproduced at the same time.
It may be added that, while the theme is capable of much
amplification,[7] have preferred to print the paper as it was written
for the occasion referred to. It states, concisely enough, the leading
points of the argument.

To those who are interested in the "realistic" interpretation of such
traditions, I beg to recommend for reference the following works:--First
and foremost, there is "The Anatomy of a Pygmie," by Dr. Edward Tyson
(London, 1699), a book full of suggestive notices. This author has
undoubtedly reached the "bed-rock" of the question; but, owing to his
era and mental environment, he has not realised that his argument is
useless without a consideration of the various stratifications above the
"bed-rock." Belonging to the same century is the chapter "Of Pigmies" in
Sir Thomas Browne's "Vulgar Errors," wherein he makes several very
interesting statements, although he argues from the opposite side.
Scattered throughout the writings of Sir Walter Scott, both poetry and
prose, there are also many references bearing upon this question, from
the realistic point of view. In addition to these, there is his
well-known treatise "On the Fairies of Popular Superstition," prefaced
to "The Tale of Tamlane," wherein he states that "the most distinct
account of the duergar [_i.e._ dwergs, or dwarfs], or elves, and their
attributes, is to be found in a preface of Torfæus to the history of
Hrolf Kraka [Copenhagen, 1715], who cites a dissertation by Einar
Gudmund, a learned native of Iceland. 'I am firmly of opinion,' says the
Icelander, 'that these beings are creatures of God, consisting, like
human beings, of a body and rational soul; that they are of different
sexes, and capable of producing children, and subject to all human
affections, as sleeping and waking, laughing and crying, poverty and
wealth; and that they possess cattle and other effects, and are
obnoxious to death, like other mortals.' He proceeds to state that the
females of this race are capable of procreating with mankind;[8] and
gives an account of one who bore a child to an inhabitant of Iceland,
for whom she claimed the privilege of baptism; depositing the infant for
that purpose at the gate of the churchyard, together with a goblet of
gold as an offering."[9] Scott further cites from Jessen's _De
Lapponibus_ similar matter-of-fact details obtained on this subject from
the Lapps; who, on their own showing, are inferentially the half-bred
descendants of dwarfs.

"That some of the myths of giants and dwarfs are connected with
traditions of real indigenous or hostile tribes is settled beyond
question by the evidence brought forward by Grimm, Nilsson, and
Hanusch," observes Dr. E.B. Tylor.[10] And although that eminent
anthropologist sees a different meaning in many kindred traditions, yet
his observations, and the great mass of references which he gives in
connection with this single detail, are of much interest to euhemerists
pure and simple. The late Sir Daniel Wilson's "Caliban"[11] teems with
the realistic doctrine, and so also does a work of (in my opinion) less
equal merit, "The Pedigree of the Devil,"[12] by Mr. Frederic T. Hall.
In Mr. R.G. Haliburton's "Dwarfs of Mount Atlas: with notes as to Dwarfs
and Dwarf Worship,"[13] and also in his "Further Notes"[14] on that
subject, the same idea is prominent. All of these writers, with the
exception of Sir Thomas Browne (and excluding Dr. Tylor in so far as
regards some of his deductions), refer practically, though in varying
degrees, to the question discussed by Tyson; and in this respect I must
also cite my recent work on "The Aïnos" (pp. 51-66). Of other writers
who have not probed quite so deeply, and who possibly may not recognise
the necessity for so doing, but who are realists nevertheless, the
following may be mentioned: M. Paul Monceaux, who, in the _Revue
Historique_ of October 1891, deals with the African dwarfs of ancient
and modern writers;[15] Professor Henri van Elven, the main theme of
whose forthcoming work, _Les Nains préhistoriques de l'Europe
Occidentale_, formed the subject of a paper recently read by him before
the _Société d'Archéologie de Bruxelles;_ and MM. Grandgagnage and De
Reul, cited by Mr. C. Carter Blake, F.G.S., in connection with the
_Nutons_ of the Belgian bone-caves;[16] as also another writer of the
Low Countries, Van den Bergh ("xxx. and 313"), whom Mr. J. Dirks quotes
at p. 15 of his _Heidens of Egyptiërs_, Utrecht, 1850. In Mr. W.G.
Black's charming book on Heligoland,[17] one passage (p. 72) recognises
that a certain Sylt tradition "is evidently one of those valuable
legends which illuminate dark pages of history. It clearly bears
testimony to the same small race having inhabited Friesland in times
which we trace in the caves of the Neolithic age, and of which the
Esquimaux are the only survivors." For many of the kindred traditions in
that locality, one cannot do better than refer to Mr. Christian Jensen's
_Zwergsagen aus Nordfriesland_, contributed to the _Zeitschrift des
Vereins für Volkskunde_ (Berlin, Heft 4, 1892).

       *       *       *       *       *

[The foregoing pages were all in type before the appearance of Vol.
VIII. of the _Bibliothèque de Carabas_, which contains several
criticisms by Mr. Andrew Lang on my "Testimony of Tradition" and
"Underground Life." The already excessive length of this Introduction
prevents me from now referring more particularly to these observations,
as I should otherwise have done. In the meantime, however, I beg to
refer Mr. Lang to the present work, and to ask him whether he thinks the
statements there quoted substantiate his conception of the _Fir Sidhe_
as a deathless people, occupying some region "unknown of earth."

An addition to the Bibliography of this subject is made in the
above-named volume (p. 88). "In his _Scottish Scenery_ (1803), Dr.
Cririe suggests that the germ of the Fairy myth is the existence of
dispossessed aboriginals dwelling in subterranean houses, in some places
called Picts' houses, covered with artificial mounds. The lights seen
near the mounds are lights actually carried by the mound-dwellers." Mr.
Lang adds: "Dr. Cririe works out in some detail 'this marvellously
absurd supposition,' as the _Quarterly Review_ calls it (vol. lix. p.

[Footnote 1: _The Testimony of Tradition_. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner &
Co., London, 1890.]

[Footnote 2: Such as at pp. ci.-cix. of Vol. I., and pp. 46, 101, and
275 of Vol. II.]

[Footnote 3: Scott, however, had only imperfectly grasped this idea. In
numerous passages he inconsistently refers to "the little people" as
purely the creatures of imagination.]

[Footnote 4: A description of those dwarfs, obtained from Japanese
records and pictures, may be seen in my monograph on "The Aïnos"
(Supplement to Vol. IV. of the _Internationales Archiv für
Ethnographie_, Leiden, 1892). Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,

[Footnote 5: Similarly, the "little Bushmen" referred to by Miss Olive
Schreiner's _Waldo_ (as quoted by me on the title-page) would be
remembered with as much uncertainty a century hence if the modern
population of South Africa had nothing but tradition to depend upon. (It
may be explained, in case of misapprehension on the part of any
too-literal reader, that that quotation is not supposed to prove that
the earth-dwellers of the Hebrides were small and ugly, with "little
yellow faces," any more than it proves the reindeer of Scotland to have
been identical with the wild buck of South Africa. But the cases are
analogous, and the quotation seems _à propos_.)]

[Footnote 6: _Le Surnaturel dans les Contes Populaires_, Paris, 1891, p.

[Footnote 7: Some portions of it I have already amplified: in a pamphlet
entitled "The Underground Life," Edinburgh, 1892 (privately printed); in
a paper on "Subterranean Dwellings," contributed to _The Antiquary_
(London: Elliot Stock) of August 1892; and at pp. 52-58 of "The Aïnos,"
previously quoted.]

[Footnote 8: By "mankind" need only be understood the race to which
Einar Gudmund belonged. It is well known that many races apply the term
"men" to themselves alone. At the same time, Gudmund's words may denote
a very marked difference in the two types.]

[Footnote 9: Scott again quotes this story, in fuller detail, in the
Appendix to _The Lady of the Lake_, Note 3 C.]

[Footnote 10: "Primitive Culture," vol. i. p. 385 (3rd edition).]

[Footnote 11: London, Macmillan and Co., 1873.]

[Footnote 12: London, Trübner and Co., 1883.]

[Footnote 13: London, David Nutt, 1891.]

[Footnote 14: _Asiatic Quarterly Review_, July 1892.]

[Footnote 15: For an exhaustive account of "The Pygmy Tribes of Africa,"
treated from the purely scientific and ethnological point of view see
Dr. Henry Schlichter's articles in _The Scottish Geographical Magazine_
of June and July 1892.]

[Footnote 16: _Memoirs_ of the Anthropological Society of London, vol.
iii. 1870, pp. 320, 321.]

[Footnote 17: Blackwood and Sons, 1888.]


The general belief at the present day is that, of the three designations
here classed together, only that of the Picts is really historical. The
Fians are regarded as merely legendary--perhaps altogether mythical
beings; and the Fairies as absolutely unreal. On the other hand, there
are those who believe that the three terms all relate to historical
people, closely akin to each other, if not actually one people under
three names.

To those unacquainted with the views of the realists, or euhemerists, it
is necessary to explain that the popular definition of Fairies as
"little people" is one which that school is quite ready to accept. But
the conception of such "little people" as tiny beings of aërial and
ethereal nature, able to fly on a bat's back, or to sip honey from the
flowers "where the bee sucks," is regarded by the realists as simply
the outcome of the imagination, working upon a basis of fact. An
illustration of this position may be seen in the Far East. There is a
tradition among the Aïnos of Northern Japan that they were preceded by a
race of "little people," only a few inches in height, whose
pit-dwellings they still point out. But the pottery and the skeletons
associated with these habitations show that not only were their
occupants of a stature to be measured by feet rather than by inches, but
also that, by reason of a certain anatomical peculiarity common to both,
the traditional dwarfs were very clearly the ancestors of the Aïnos--a
race which, though now blended, was once most distinctly a race of
dwarfs, if one is to believe the earliest Japanese pictures of them.
Similarly, the dwarfs of European tradition are believed to have had as
real an origin as the little people of Aïno legend, at any rate by those
who hold the realistic theory.

Any attempt to reconcile the pygmies of the classic writers with actual
dwarfs of flesh and blood is outside my province. Moreover, this has
been admirably, and, as it seems to me, successfully done quite recently
by M. Paul Monceaux, in an article in the _Revue Historique,_[18]
wherein he compares the traditional and historical descriptions with the
statements of modern travellers, and draws the inference that the
pygmies of the Greek and Roman writers, sculptors and painters, are all
derived from actual dwarfs seen by their forefathers in Africa and
India. (Still less doubt is there with regard to the dwarfs in Ancient
Egyptian paintings.) And whereas Strabo is, says M. Monceaux, the only
writer of antiquity who questions the existence of the dwarfs, all the
others are on the side of Aristotle, who says--"This is no fable; there
really exists in that region (the sources of the Nile), as people
relate, a race of little men, who have small horses and who live in
holes." And these little men were of course the ancestors of
Schweinfurth's and Stanley's dwarfs.

But although M. Monceaux confines his identification to equatorial
Africa and to India, he does not omit to state that Pliny and other
writers speak of dwarf tribes in other localities, and among these are
"the vague regions of the north, designated by the name of Thule." This
area, vague enough certainly, is the territory with which Fians and
Picts are both associated; as, also, of course, the Fairies of North
European tradition.

The attributes with which the "little people" of North Europe are
accredited cannot be given in detail here. It is enough to note that
they were believed to live in houses wholly or partly underground, the
latter kind being described as "hollow" mounds, or hills; that when
people of taller race entered such subterranean dwellings (as
occasionally they did) they found the domestic utensils of the dwarfs
were of the kind labelled "pre-historic" in our antiquarian museums;
that the copper vessels which dwarf women sometimes left behind them
when discovered surreptitiously milking the cows of their neighbours,
were likewise of an antique form; further, that they helped themselves
to the beef and mutton of their neighbours, after having shot the
animals with flint-headed arrows; that melodies peculiar to them are
still sung by the peasants of certain localities; that words used by
them are still employed by children in their games; and that many
families in many districts are believed to have inherited some of their
blood.[19] Of this intercourse between the taller races and the dwarfs,
there are many records in old traditions. In the days of King Arthur,
when, as Chaucer tells us, the land was "ful-filled of faërie," the
knights errant had usually a dwarf as attendant. One of King Arthur's
own knights was a Fairy.[20] According to Highland tradition, every
high-caste family of pure Gaelic descent had an attendant dwarf. These
examples show the "little people" in a not unfriendly light. But many
other stories speak of them as "malignant" foes, and as dreaded
oppressors. Of which the rational explanation is that these various
tales relate to various localities and epochs.

The connection visible between Fians and Fairies, between Fians and
Picts, and between Picts and Fairies, may now briefly be stated.

The earliest known association of the first two classes occurs in an
Irish manuscript of the eleventh or twelfth century,[21] wherein it is
stated that when the ninth-century Danes overran and plundered Ireland,
there was nothing "in concealment under ground in Erinn, or in the
various secret places belonging to Fians or to Fairies" that they did
not discover and appropriate. This statement receives strong
confirmation from a Scandinavian record, the _Landnáma-bok_, which
says[22] that, in or about the year 870, a well-known Norse chief named

     "went on warfare in the west. He made war in Ireland, and there
     found a large underground house; he went down into it, and it was
     dark until light shone from a sword in the hand of a man. Leif
     killed the man, and took the sword and much property.... He made
     war widely in Ireland, and got much property. He took ten thralls."

Although the Scandinavian record does not speak of the owner of the
earth-house as either a "Fian" or a "Fairy," it is quite evident that
this is an example of the plundering referred to in the Irish chronicle,
and that the Gaels of Ireland seven or eight centuries ago, if not a
thousand years ago, regarded the underground people as indifferently
Fians and Fairies.[23]

Many other associations of Fians with Fairies are to be seen. In one of
the old traditional ballads regarding the Fians, they are described as
feasting with Fairies in one of their "hollow" mounds.[24] A
Sutherlandshire story relates the adventures of the son of a Fairy
woman, who took service with Ossian, the king of the Fians.[25] One of
the Fians (Caoilte) had a Fairy sweet-heart.[26] Another of them (Oscar)
has an interview with a washerwoman who is a Fairy.[27] A Fenian story
recounts how one day the Fians were working in the harvest-field, in the
Argyleshire island of Tiree, and on that occasion they had "left their
weapons of war in the armoury of the Fairy Hill of Caolas";[28] from
which one is to infer that the Fians made use of Fairy dwellings. In the
same collection of tales we are told[29] that one time when the Fians
were hunting in the Isle of Skye, they left their wives in a dwelling
which bore a title "applied to dwellings of the Elfin race." It is
further stated that one popular belief in the Scottish Highlands is that
the Fians are still lying in the hill of Tomnahurich, near Inverness,
and that "others say they are lying in Glenorchy, Argyleshire."[30] Now,
both the Inverness-shire mound and the mounds in Glenorchy are also
popularly regarded as the abodes of Fairies.[31] The vitrified fort on
Knock-Farril, in Ross-shire, is said to have been one of Fin McCoul's
castles;[32] and Knock-Farril, or rather "a knoll opposite Knock-Farril"
is remembered as the abode of the Fairies of that district.[33]
Glenshee, in Perthshire, is celebrated equally as a Fairy haunt and as a
favourite hunting-ground of the Fians. The Fians, indeed, were said to
have lived by deer-hunting, so much so that Campbell of Islay suggests
that their name signifies "the deer men"; and the deer, it is believed,
"were a fairy race."[34] The famous hound of the famous leader of the
Fians was "a Fairy or Elfin dog." In short, the connection between Fians
and Fairies, recognised in the Gaelic manuscript of eight or ten
centuries ago, is apparent throughout the traditions of the
Gaelic-speaking people.

But if the Fians were either identical with, or closely akin to the
Fairies, they must have been "little people." The belief that they were
so is supported by one traditional Fenian story. This is the well-known
tale of the visit of Fin, the famous chief of the Fians, to a country
known to him and his people as "The Land of the Big Men." The story
tells how Fin sailed from Dublin Bay in his skin-boat, crossed the sea
to that country, and shortly after landing was captured and taken to the
palace of the king, where he was appointed court dwarf,[35] and remained
for a considerable time the attached and faithful adherent of the king.
The collector of this story has assumed that it is purely imaginary. But
let it be contrasted with the following extract from the _Heimskringla_.
The period is the early part of the eleventh century, and the scene
Norway: "There was a man from the Uplands called Fin the Little, and
some said of him that he was of Finnish race. He was a remarkable [?
remarkably] little man, but so swift of foot that no horse could
overtake him.... He had long been in the service of King Hrorek, and
often employed in errands of trust.... Now when King Hrorek was set
under guards on the journey Fin would often slip in among the men of
the guard, and followed, in general, with the lads and serving-men; but
as often as he could he waited upon Hrorek, and entered into
conversation with him."[36] And, like Fin the dwarf in the Gaelic story,
this little Fin rendered great service to his king. Now, the
_Heimskringla_ Fin is unquestionably a historical personage, and the
account of him was written by a twelfth century historian. The Gaelic
story was only obtained in the Hebrides, and reduced to writing
twenty-three years ago. Although Fin of the Fians is stated in Irish
records to be the grandson of a Finland woman,[37] and although the
Scandinavian and the Hebridean tales look very much like two versions of
one story, this cannot precisely be the case, as the Fenian Fin is
placed in an earlier era than his namesake of Norway. A dwarf king named
Fin is also remembered in Frisian tradition;[38] and that he and his
race were small men is pretty clearly proved by the fact that when one
of the earth-houses attributed to him was opened some years ago, it was
found to contain the bones of a little man.[39] Both of these dwarf
Fins, Little Fin of Norway and Little Fin of Denmark, are undoubtedly
real; and there seems no good reason to suppose that the dwarf Fin of
Hebridean tradition was not equally real. Whether they were three
separate people is a problem. "Fin" appears to have been at one time a
not uncommon name, whatever its etymology and that of "Fian" may be. At
any rate, there is nothing in history (which speaks of a close
intercourse between Scandinavia and the British Isles, in former times),
and nothing in the ethnology of North-Western Europe, to make us regard
as mythical the capture and enthralment of any one of these three
"little Fins." If Fin of the Fians, therefore, was a typical Fian, they
were little people.[40]

In regarding the Fians as a race of dwarfs, I do not overlook the fact
that they are also spoken of as "giants." But to assume them to have
been of gigantic stature is both totally at variance with the bulk of
the evidence regarding them, and at variance with the fact that the word
"giant" has very frequently been used to denote a savage, or a
cave-dweller.[41] No more appropriate illustration of this can be found
than the local tradition that a certain artificially hollowed rock in
the island of Hoy, Orkney, was the abode of "a giant and his wife." Now,
this same "giant" is also remembered as a "dwarf," and the largest cell
in his dwelling is only 5 feet 8 inches long. Similarly, there is in
Iceland a certain _Tröllakyrkia_ (literally "the dwarfs' church") which
is translated "the _giants'_ church."[42] For these reasons, then, I do
not regard any reference to the Fians as "giants" as indicating that
they were of tall stature; although I see no objection to the assumption
that they were savages and cave-dwellers.

Fians, then, are closely connected with the "little people" called
"Fairies." The connection between Fians and Picts is equally well

Regarding them historically, Dr. Skene identifies the Fians with one or
other of two historical races believed to have occupied Ireland before
the coming of the Gaels. These two races are known in Irish story as the
Tuatha De and the Cruithné.[43] Now, the Tuatha De _are_ the Fairies of
Ireland.[44] Therefore, according to Dr. Skene, the Fians were either
Fairies or Cruithné. Now, Cruithné is simply a Gaelic name for the
Picts. Consequently, the Fians were either Fairies or Picts--according
to Dr. Skene. In one traditional story, already referred to, the Fians
seem to be unhesitatingly regarded as Picts. This story, obtained in
Sutherlandshire, tells how a certain king lived for a year with a
_banshee_, or fairy woman,[45] by whom he had a son. When this son grew
up he went to the country of the Fians,[46] and there he entered into
the service of their king, who was no other than the celebrated Oisin.
The Gaelic narrator calls him "Oisin, Righ na Feinne," that is, "Ossian,
King of the Fians"; but the collector of the story,[47] who had no doubt
obtained the translation on the spot, renders _Righ na Feinne_ as "King
of the Picts." No explanation or comment is given, and one is therefore
led to infer that in Sutherlandshire _Feinne_ is without question
regarded as a Gaelic name for the Picts. This identity is, indeed, borne
out otherwise. There is a Gaelic saying in Glenlyon, Perthshire, to the
effect that "Fin had twelve castles" in that glen, and the remains of
these "castles," all said to have been built by him and his Fians, and
of which one in particular is styled "Castle Fin,"[48] are known to the
English-speaking people of Scotland as "Picts'" houses. For they belong
to a peculiar class of structures, all radically alike, and all known,
in certain districts, as "Picts' houses." The term "Picts' house" is
unknown in the Hebrides, says one writer. "In the Hebrides tradition is
entirely silent concerning the Picts ... there the Fenian heroes are the
builders of the duns."[49] Yet the self-same class of building is
elsewhere assigned to the Picts. To these structures I shall presently
refer more particularly; but it is enough to note in passing that, just
as Oisin, King of the Fians, is translated into Ossian, King of the
Picts, so the dwellings ascribed to the Fians in one locality, are in
another said to have been made and inhabited by the Picts.

Fians, then, are associated or identified with Fairies, and also with
Picts. To complete my equilateral triangle, the Picts ought also to be
regarded as Fairies, or as akin to them.

This undoubtedly is a popular belief. The earliest alleged reference of
this kind is placed by one writer in the middle of the fifteenth
century, before the Orkney Islands had passed from the crown of Denmark
to the crown of Scotland. A manuscript of the then Bishop of Orkney,
dated Kirkwall 1443, states that when Harald Haarfagr conquered the
Orkneys in the ninth century, the inhabitants were the two "nations" of
the _Papæ_ and the _Peti_, both of whom were exterminated. By the former
name is understood the Irish missionaries: the _Peti_ were certainly the
Picts, or Pehts.[50] Now, of these Picts of Orkney it is said, that they
"were only a little exceeding pigmies in stature, and worked wonderfully
in the construction of their cities, evening and morning, but in
mid-day, being quite destitute of strength, they hid themselves through
fear in little houses under ground."[51]

The exact date of this statement is at present doubtful, but it is quite
in accordance with the widespread ideas held throughout Scotland and
Northumberland with regard to the Picts: that they were great as
builders, but were of very low stature, and closely akin to Fairies.[52]
Moreover, they are famous for doing their work during the night.
Whatever be the explanation of the above curious statement that at
mid-day they lost their strength and withdrew to their underground
houses, it is at any rate interesting to compare with it the remark made
by the traveller Pennant as he was passing along Glenorchy in 1772. This
is the entry in his journal:--"See frequently on the road-sides small
verdant hillocks, styled by the common people shi an (_sithean_), or the
Fairy-haunt, because here, say they, the fairies, who love not the glare
of day, make their retreat after the celebration of their nocturnal
revels."[53] Now, as the "Picts' houses" are, to outward appearance,
"small verdant hillocks," the parallel is very exact. With these two
references compare also the mention, in a quaint old gazetteer printed
at Cambridge in 1693,[54] of the tribe of the "Germara," defined as "a
people of the Celtæ, who in the day-time cannot see." Although the
author usually gives the sources of his information, in this instance he
gives none. But the statement agrees perfectly with the belief found
everywhere throughout Northern Europe that "the dwarfs could not bear
daylight, and during the day hid in their holes."[55] It really seems
impossible to avoid the inference that all this was perfectly true. When
Leif went down into the underground house in Ireland, he could not see
at first, though at length he saw in the obscurity the glimmer of his
opponent's sword. Consequently, the denizens and builders of these
subterranean retreats must either have had something very like "cat's
eyes," or else they must in general have had numerous lamps burning.
This will be understood by an examination of one or two of the
accompanying diagrams. It seems to me beyond question that a people
living this underground life must have differed very distinctly from
ourselves in the matter of vision; and to them the brightness of noonday
must have been blinding. This physical fact--if it be a fact--would
explain much that is otherwise strange and incredible in the traditions
relating to the Picts--or Pechts, as they were formerly called in
Scotland. However, it is sufficient for my present purpose to note that
this peculiarity associates, and indeed identifies, the Picts with the
dwarfs or fairies of tradition.

Having thus shown that Fians, Fairies, and Picts are so closely
associated as to be, in some aspects, almost indistinguishable from one
another, I shall now refer to the structures which are popularly
believed to have been their dwellings. Some of these are wholly
underground, others partly so, and others quite above ground. In many
other ways, also, they vary. But all of them are unquestionably links
in one special style of structure; of which the most marked feature, or
at any rate that which is common to all, is the use of what is called
the "cyclopean" arch. This is formed by the overlapping of the stones in
the wall until they almost meet at the dome or apex of the building,
when a heavy "keystone" completes this rude arch. The principle of the
arch proper was obviously quite unknown to the originators of such

Of the various Hebridean specimens of these buildings, very interesting
and complete descriptions have been given by the late Captain Thomas,
R.N.,[56] and Sir Arthur Mitchell,[57] who visited some of them together
in 1866. Referring to the most modern examples of this kind of
structure, the latter writer says:--"They are commonly spoken of as
beehive houses, but their Gaelic name is _bo'h_ or _bothan_. They are
now only used as temporary residences or shealings by those who herd
the cattle at their summer pasturage; but at a time not very remote they
are believed to have been the permanent dwellings of the people." And he
thus describes his first sight of the beehive houses:--

     "I do not think I ever came upon a scene which more surprised me,
     and I scarcely know where or how to begin my description of it.

     "By the side of a burn which flowed through a little grassy glen
     ... we saw two small round hive-like hillocks, not much higher than
     a man, joined together, and covered with grass and weeds. Out of
     the top of one of them a column of smoke slowly rose, and at its
     base there was a hole about three feet high and two feet wide,
     which seemed to lead into the interior of the hillock--its
     hollowness, and the possibility of its having a human creature
     within it being thus suggested. There was no one, however, actually
     within the _bo'h_, the three girls, when we came in sight, being
     seated on a knoll by the burn-side, but it was really in the inside
     of these two green hillocks that they slept, and cooked their food,
     and carried on their work, and--dwelt, in short."[58]

These two "green hillocks," and other structures of the same nature, are
shown in the accompanying diagrams[59] (Plates I.-XVI.), which explain
their formation better than any written description. It is enough here
to state that they are built of rough stone, without any mortar. "Though
the stone walls are very thick," says my authority (p. 62), "they are
covered on the outside with turf, which soon becomes grassy like the
land round about, and thus secures perfect wind and water tightness."
Sometimes they occur in groups, as those shown in Plate III.; of which
scene Captain Thomas justly remarks that "at first sight it may be taken
for a picture of a Hottentot village rather than a hamlet in the British
Isles."[60] Here there is little or no grassy covering outside, however;
and consequently none of the hillock-like effect. But this is very well
shown in Plates VI. and VIII. Of the "agglomeration of beehives"
pictured in the latter, Sir Arthur Mitchell observes:--"It has several
entrances, and would accommodate many families, who might be spoken of
as living in one mound, rather than under one roof" (_op. cit._ pp.
64-5). Of another such dwelling, now ruined, he says that it could have
accommodated "from forty to fifty people."

This last, however (Plates XI. and XII.), represents another variety of
earth-house, the chambered mound or beehive, with an underground gallery
leading to it. Of this kind two examples are here shown. And in Plates
I. and XIII. will be seen specimens of wholly subterranean structures.
It is difficult, and indeed hardly necessary, to distinguish between one
variety and another of what is practically the same kind of building;
but to this last class the term "earth-house" is most frequently
accorded in Scotland. In the broader dialect it is "yird-house" or
"eirde-house," which at once recalls the form "jord-hus" in the saga
which tells of Leif's adventure underground in Ireland. The term _weem_
is also applied to these places in Scotland. This is merely a quickened
pronunciation of the Gaelic _uam_ (or _uamh_), a cave; and it reminds
one that, both in Gaelic and in English, the word "cave" is by no means
restricted to a _natural_ cavity. Indeed, one of the two artificial
structures under consideration is known as _Uamh Sgalabhad_, "the _cave_
of Sgalabhad." Another old Gaelic name for those underground galleries
is "_tung_ or _tunga_";[61] while another name, by which they are known
in Lewis is _tigh fo thalaimh_,[62] or "house beneath the ground."

"Martin, in his description of the Western Islands, printed in 1703,
when their use would appear to have been still remembered, speaks of
them [these underground structures] as 'little stone-houses, built under
ground, called earth-houses, which served to hide a few people and their
goods in time of war.'"[63] Dean Monro writes, "There is sundry coves
and holes in the earth, coverit with hedder above, quhilk fosters many
rebellis in the country of the North head of Ywst" [North Uist].[64]
"From O'Flaherty's description of West Connaught, written in 1684, it
appears," observes Captain Thomas,[65] but referring more strictly to
the beehive-house, "that this style of dwelling had already become
archaic." For, although that writer mentions certain "cloghans" as being
still inhabited, holding forty men in some cases, yet he says they were
"so ancient that nobody knows how long ago any of them were made." Of
the underground galleries another writer says: "It has been doubted if
these houses were ever really used as places of abode.... But as to this
there can be no real doubt. The substances found in many of them have
been the accumulated _débris_ of food used by man.... Ornaments of
bronze have been found in a few of them, and beads of streaked glass. In
some cases the articles found would indicate that the occupation of
these houses had come down to comparatively recent times."[66]

In conclusion, these remarks of Captain Thomas, who made so thorough a
study of the subject, may be quoted:--

     "The Pict's house on the Holm of Papay [Orkney] would have held,
     besides the chiefs at each end, all the families in [the island of]
     Papay Westray when it was built. Maes howe[67] was for three
     families--grandees, no doubt; but the numbers it was intended to
     hold in the _beds_ may be learned by comparing them with the
     Amazon's House, St. Kilda."[68]

     "I consider the relation between the _boths_ [beehive houses] and
     the Picts' houses of the Orkneys (and elsewhere) to be evident--the
     same method of forming the arch, the low and narrow doors and
     passages, the enormous thickness of the walls, when compared with
     the interior accommodation--exist in both. When a _both_ is covered
     with green turf it becomes a chambered tumulus, and when buried by
     drifting sand it is a subterranean Pict's house.... I regard the
     comparatively large Picts' houses of the Orkneys as the pastoral
     residence of the Pictish lord, fitted to contain his numerous
     family and dependents. Such an one exists on the Holm of Papa
     Westray, which, according to the Highland method of stowage, would
     certainly contain a whole clan. When writing the description of it,
     I had not made acquaintance with a people who would close the door
     to keep in the smoke, or that nested in holes in a wall like

     "But the _both_ of the Long Island is only the lodging of the
     common man or 'Tuathanach,' and is consequently of small
     dimensions, and not remarkable for comfort. If the modern Highland
     proprietor or large farmer should ever be induced to lead a
     pastoral life, and adopt a Pictish architecture in his residence,
     we might again see a tumulus of twenty feet in height, with its
     long low passage leading into a large hall with beehive cells on
     both sides."[69]

But the point of all this is that these dwellings, whether above ground
or below, are known as _Picts' Houses, Fairy Halls, Elf Hillocks_, "the
hidden places of _Fians and Fairies_." Thus, the three titles which I
have shown to be associated in other ways are all given to the alleged
builders and occupiers of those very archaic and peculiar structures.

It is true that, in their most modern form, some of those dwellings are
still inhabited for months at a time. And their inhabitants are neither
Fians, Fairies nor Picts. But it is among those people that stories of
Fians and Fairies are most rife, and many claim an actual descent from
them. And although they are certainly not pigmies, yet they live in a
district in which the _small_ type of this heterogeneous nation of ours
is still quite discernible; and that part of the island of Lewis (Uig),
which has longest retained those places as dwellings, is inhabited by a
caste whom other Hebrideans describe as small, and regard as different
from themselves.[70] Dr. Beddoe states that the tallest people in the
United Kingdom are to be found in a certain village in Galloway, where
a six-foot man is perfectly common, and many are above that height. It
is quite certain that such men could not "nest like sand-martins" in the
holes in the wall described by Captain Thomas. And, in proportion as
such Galloway men are to the modern Hebridean mound-dwellers, so are
these to the much more archaic race with whom the oldest structures are
associated. For a study of the dimensions of these will show that they
could not have been conceived, and would not have been built or
inhabited by any but a race of actual dwarfs; as tradition says they

[Footnote 18: "_La légende des Pygmées et les nains de l'Afrique
equatoriale_": _Rev. Hist._ t. 47, I. (Sept.-Oct. 1891), pp. 1-64.]

[Footnote 19: For some of these references see Dr. Hibbert's
"Description of the Shetland Islands," Edinburgh, 1822, pp. 444-451. See
also Mrs. J.E. Saxby's "Folk-Lore from Unst, Shetland" (in _Leisure
Hour_ of 1880); Mr. W.G. Black's "Heligoland", 1888, chap. iv.; and "The
Fians," London, 1891, pp. 2-3.]

[Footnote 20: Gwynn the son of Nudd: for whom see Lady C. Guest's
"Mabinogion," pp. 223, 263-5, and 501-2.]

[Footnote 21: "The War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill," edited by J.H.
Todd, D.D., London, 1867, pp. 114-115.]

[Footnote 22: I. cc. 4-6 (this reference and the passage is quoted from
Du Chaillu's "Viking Age," vol. ii. p. 516).]

[Footnote 23: "_Fianaibh ag Sithcuiraibh_"]

[Footnote 24: "_Dan an Fhir Shicair"; Leabhar na Feinne_, pp. 94-95.]

[Footnote 25: _Folk-Lore Journal_, vol. vi. 1888, pp. 173-178.]

[Footnote 26: _The Fians_, 1891, p. 64.]

[Footnote 27: _Ibid._ p. 33.]

[Footnote 28: _The Fians_, p. 172. The Fairy Hill referred to is "a
hillock, in which there is to be seen a small hollow called the armoury"
(p. 174).]

[Footnote 29: _Ibid._ pp. 12-13, 166, &c.]

[Footnote 30: _Ibid._ pp. 3-4. Glenorchy is said to have teemed with
Fenian traditions about the early part of this century (_Proceedings_ of
Soc. of Antiq. of Scotland, vol. vii. pp. 237-240).]

[Footnote 31: See my _Testimony of Tradition_, London, 1890, pp. 146-8;
and Pennant's "Second Tour in Scotland" (Pinkerton's _Voyages,_ London,
1809, vol. iii. p. 368).]

[Footnote 32: _Proceedings_ of Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol.
vii. p. 294, _note_.]

[Footnote 33: See, for example, an article on "Scottish Customs and Folk
lore," in _The Glasgow Herald_ of August 1, 1891.]

[Footnote 34: _The Fians_, pp. 78-80.]

[Footnote 35: _Scottish Celtic Review_, 1885, pp. 184-90: _The Fians_,
pp. 175-184.]

[Footnote 36: _The Heimskringla_: Dr. Rasmus B. Anderson's 2nd ed.
(1889) of Mr. Samuel Laing's translation from Snorre Sturlason: chap.
lxxxiii., _Of Little Fin_.]

[Footnote 37: _Leabhar na Feinne_, p. 34.

[SUBSEQUENT NOTE.--To be very accurate, one ought to say that,
in the pedigree referred to, Fin's grandfather (Trenmor) is stated to
have married a Finland woman.]]

[Footnote 38: Mr. W.G. Black's _Heligoland_, 1888, chap. iv.]

[Footnote 39: With this Fin of Frisian tradition may be compared Fin, a
North-Frisian chief of the fifth century, mentioned in _Beowulf_ and
_The Gleeman's Tale_, and whose death is recorded in _The Fight at

[SUBSEQUENT NOTE.--A suitable companion to the dwarf Fin of
Frisian tradition is mentioned in Harald Hardradi's Saga:--"Tuta, a
Frisian, was with King Harald; he was sent to him for show, for he was
short and stout, in every respect shaped like a dwarf."--Quoted by Mr.
Du Chaillu at p. 357 of vol. ii. of "The Viking Age."]]

[Footnote 40: In this connection it is worth noting that Sir Walter
Scott, in referring to the aboriginal or servile clans in 1745, whom he
describes as "half naked, _stinted in growth_, and miserable in aspect,"
includes among them the McCouls, Fin's alleged descendants, who "were a
sort of Gibeonites, or hereditary servants to the Stewarts of Appin."
(Waverley, ch. xliv.)]

[Footnote 41: For example, the late Rev. J.G. Campbell, Tiree, says of
"the Great Tuairisgeul" that he was "a giant of the kind called
_Samhanaich_--that is, one who lived in a cave by the sea-shore, the
strongest and coarsest of any" (_Scottish Celtic Review_, p. 62). That
this term was one of contempt, given by Gaelic-speaking people to those
"giants" (and apparently based upon their malodorous characteristics),
will be seen from Mr. Campbell's further observation (_op. cit._ pp.
140-141):--"It is a common expression to say of any strong offensive
smell, _mharbhadh e na Samhanaich_, it would kill the giants who dwell
in caves by the sea. _Samk_ is a strong oppressive smell." McAlpine
defines _Samk_ as a "bad smell arising from a sick person, or a dirty
hot place"; and he further gives the definition "a savage" (quoting
Mackenzie). The word _Samhanach_ itself is defined by McAlpine as "a
savage," and he cites the Islay saying:--"_chuireadh tu cagal air na
samhanaich_," "you would frighten the very savages." From these
definitions it will be seen that a word translated "giant" by one is
rendered "savage" by another (though neither of these terms expresses
the literal meaning). Mr. J.G. Campbell also practically regards it as
signifying "cave-dweller," or perhaps a certain special caste of
cave-dwellers. With this may be compared McAlpine's "_uamh_, _n.f._, a
cave, den; _n.m._, a chief of savages, terrible fellow ... '_cha'n'eil
ann ach uamh dhuine_,' 'he is only a savage of a fellow.'" Islay has
also another word to denote a Hebridean savage. This is _ciuthach_, "pr.
_kewach_, described in the Long Island as naked wild men living in
caves" (J.F. Campbell, Tales, iii. 55, _n._). One of these "kewachs"
figures in the story of Diarmaid and Grainne, and one version says that
he "came in from the western ocean in a coracle with two oars
(_curachan_)" (_The Fians_, p. 54). (His name assumes various
shapes--_e.g._, Ciofach Mac a Ghoill, Ciuthach Mac an Doill, Ceudach Mac
Righ nan Collach.) These three terms--_samhanach, uamh dhuine_, and
_ciuthach_--all seem to indicate one and the same race of people. And
these are probably the people referred to by Pennant when he says,
speaking of the civilised races of the Hebrides in the beginning of the
seventeenth century:--"Each chieftain had his armour-bearer, who
preceded his master in time of war, and, by my author's (Timothy Pont's
MS., Advocates' Library, Edinburgh) account in time of peace; for they
went armed even to church, in the manner the North Americans do at
present [1772] in the frontier settlement, and for the same reason, the
dread of savages." (Pinkerton's _Voyages_, vol. iii. p. 322.)]

[Footnote 42: Hibbert's "Description of the Shetland Islands,"
Edinburgh, 1822, pp. 444-451. With regard to the "Dwarfie Stone" of Hoy,
the following references may be given:--"Jo. Ben," 1529, at p. 449 of
Barry's "History of the Orkney Islands," 2nd ed., London, 1808; and
other writers subsequent to 1529. These speak of this stone as the abode
of a "giant." Sir Walter Scott (_The Pirate_, Note P.) and many others
invariably say "a dwarf."

Note also J.F. Campbell (_W.H. Tales_, p. xcix): "The Highland giants
were not so big, but that their conquerors wore their clothes." Also the
dwarf in Ramsay's "Evergreen" who says that he was engendered "of
giants' kind."]

[Footnote 43: _Dean of Lismore's Book_, p. lxxvi.; _Celt. Scot._, vol.
i. p. 131; vol. iii. chap. iii.; &c.]

[Footnote 44: _Celt. Scot._ iii. 106-7.]

[Footnote 45: In this tale, the phonetic spelling _ben-ce_ shows the
unusual aspirated form _bean-shithe_. She is elsewhere spoken of as the
Lady of Innse Uaine, and her son is the hero of the tale _Gille nan

[Footnote 46: According to a clergyman of the seventeenth century, the
Hebrides and a part of the Western Highlands constituted "the country of
the Fians," (_Testimony of Tradition_, p. 45.)]

[Footnote 47: Miss Dempster: "The Folk-Lore of Sutherlandshire,"
Folk-Lore Journal, vol. vi. 1888, p. 174.]

[Footnote 48: _Proc. of the Soc. of Antiq. of Scot._, vol. vii. p. 294.]

[Footnote 49: _Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot._, vol. vii. pp. 165 and 192.]

[Footnote 50: "They are plainly no other than the Peihts, Picts, or Piks
... the Scandinavian writers generally call the Piks Peti, or Pets: one
of them uses the term Petia, instead of Pictland (Saxo-Gram.); and,
besides, the frith that divides Orkney from Caithness is usually
denominated Petland Fiord in the Icelandic Sagas or histories." (Barry's
_Orkney_, p. 115.)]

[Footnote 51: _Proc. of the Soc. of Antiq. of Scot._, vol. iii. p. 141:
also vol. vii. p. 191. This quotation is made by the late Captain
Thomas, R.N., a sound archæologist; but I have to add that in the
document of 1443, as given in Barry's _Orkney_ (2nd ed., London, 1808,
pp. 401-419), while I find the statement as to the two native races, I
find nothing about the stature or habits of the Picts. Captain Thomas
twice quotes his statement, and as at one place he refers, not to the
Bishop of 1443, but (vol. iii. p. 141) to "the Earl of Orkney's
chaplain, writing about 1460," it is possible he had two manuscripts of
the fifteenth century in view.

[SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE.--The Bishop's words are as follows:--

"_Istas insulas primitus Peti et Pape inhabitabant. Horum alteri
scilicet Peti parvo superantes pigmeos statura in structuris urbium
vespere et mane mira operantes, meredie vero cunctis viribus prorsus
destituti in subterraneis domunculis pre timore latuerunt._"--From his
treatise _De Orcadibus Insulis_, reprinted in the "Bannatyne
Miscellany," 1855, p. 33.]]

[Footnote 52: _Testimony of Tradition_, pp. 58-60, 65, 67-74, 79-80.]

[Footnote 53: Pennant's Second Tour in Scotland; Pinkerton's _Voyages_,
London, 1809, p. 368.]

[Footnote 54: Linguæ Romanæ, Dictionarium, Luculentum Novum.]

[Footnote 55: Du Chaillu: _Land of the Midnight Sun_, vol. ii. pp.
421-2. This also is one of the articles of belief in Shetland, with
regard to the _trows_, as the trolls are there called.]

[Footnote 56: _Proc. of Soc. of Antiq. of Scot_. (First Series), vol.
iii. pp. 127-144; vol. vii. pp. 153-195.]

[Footnote 57: _The Past in the Present_, Edinburgh, 1880, pp. 58-72.]

[Footnote 58: _The Past in the Present_, p. 59.]

[Footnote 59: Reproduced by permission of the Society of Antiquaries of

[Footnote 60: _Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot._, vol. iii. p. 137.]

[Footnote 61: _Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot._, vol. vii. p. 168 _n._ This
appears to me to be a phonetic spelling of the _diongna_ mentioned in
the passage relating to the plunderings of the Danes in the ninth

[Footnote 62: _Ibid._ p. 171. On the same page, the form _Ugh talamkant_
is given.]

[Footnote 63: _Chambers's Encyclopædia_, new ed., s.v. Earth-house.]

[Footnote 64: Quoted in _Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot._, vii. 172. The
reference is "Ag. Rep. Heb. p. 782."]

[Footnote 65: _Op. cit._ vol. iii. p. 140.]

[Footnote 66: John Stuart, LL.D., _Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot._, viii. pp.
23 _et seq._]

[Footnote 67: Plates XIV.-XVI. Compare also Plates XVII.-XIX.]

[Footnote 68: _Op. cit._, vii. 191.]

[Footnote 69: _Op. cit._, iii. 133.]

[Footnote 70: _Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland_,
vol. iii. (First Series), p. 129. The district of Barvas is specially
referred to by Captain Thomas.]


Most of the illustrations here given are reproductions of some of the
plates accompanying Captain Thomas's papers in the _Proceedings of the
Society of Antiquaries of Scotland_. In explanation of their details the
following extracts may be made.

PLATE I. (Frontispiece).--_Uamh Sgalabhad, South Uist._

(From Plate XXXV. of Vol. VII. of _Proceedings of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland_, First Series.)

Captain Thomas thus describes his descent into and exploration of this
earth-house:--"An irregular hole was pointed out by the little lassie
before alluded to, and some of my party quickly disappeared below
ground. As they did not immediately return, I thought it was time to
follow, and squeezing through the ruinated entrance (_a_), I entered the
usual kind of gallery, which descended into the ground at a sharp angle.
At the bottom, on the right-hand side, was the usual guard-cell (_b_);
the sides of dry-stone masonry, but the end was the face of a rock _in
situ_. Proceeding on, the roof rose and the gallery widened to what was
the main chamber (_c_), which was 7 feet high under the apex of the
dome, and 4 feet broad. Upon the west side of this chamber, and about 2
feet from the ground, is a recess, about 2 feet square and 4 feet long.
At the further end, and in the same right line, the gallery (_d_)
became low (2½ feet) and narrow (2 feet). Again the roof rose, and the
gallery widened till stopt, in face, by a large transported rock (_f_);
to the right of the rock a rectangular chamber (_e_), 2 feet broad,
extended 4 feet, and ended against rock _in situ_. Round, and beyond the
rock (_f_), the wall of the left side of the gallery was built, but the
passage was so narrow (_g_) that I contented myself by looking through
it. This incomprehensible narrowness is a feature in the buildings of
this period. Some of Captain Otter's officers pushed through into the
small chamber (_h_); beyond this the gallery was ruinated and
impassable; the total length explored was 45 feet."[71]

[Footnote 71: _Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot._, vol. vii. (First Series), pp.

[Illustration: PLATE II.

FIG. 8.

"It is of a bee-hive form, about 18 feet in diameter, 9 feet high, and
covered with green turf outside."

_a_ _a_. doors; 3 feet high, "higher and better formed than is usual."

_b_. fireplace (having a chimney above, which is exceptional).

_c_. row of stones marking off _d._

_d_. bed on floor.

_e_ _e_ _e_. small recesses in wall.

FIG. 9.

Dwelling and Dairy joined, "of the usual bee-hive shape, and green with
the growing turf." Dairy "6 feet square on floor, but roundish

_a_. doorway; "easily closed with a creel, a bundle of heather, or a
straw mat."

_b_. "a very low interior doorway."

_c_. doorway of dairy.

_d_. fireplace; "the smoke escaping through a hole in the apex of the

_e_. "the usual row of stones."

_f_. "a litter of hay and rushes for a bed."

_g_. niches in wall.

_i_ _j_ _k_ _l_. various utensils.]

PLATE II.--_Bee-Hive Houses at Uig, Lewis._

(From Plate XXXI. of Vol. VII. of _Proceedings of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland_, First Series.)

_Fig. 8._ Captain Thomas selects this as "the most modern, and at the
same time the last, in all probability, that will be constructed in this
manner"--viz., "roofed by the horizontal or cyclopean arch, _i.e._, by a
system of overlapping stones." "The woman who was living in it [about
1869] told us it was built for his shieling by Dr. Macaulay's
grandfather, who was tacksman [leaseholder] of Linshader ... and I
conclude that it was made about ninety years back."[72]

_Fig. 9._ Sir Arthur Mitchell says of this compound "bee-hive"
house:--"The greatest height of the living room--in its centre, that
is--was scarcely 6 feet. In no part of the dairy was it possible to
stand erect. The door of communication between the two rooms was so
small that we could get through it only by creeping. The great
thickness of the walls, 6 to 8 feet, gave this door, or passage of
communication, the look of a tunnel, and made the creeping through it
very real. The creeping was only a little less real in getting through
the equally tunnel-like, though somewhat wider and loftier passage,
which led from the open air into the first or dwelling room."[73]

[Footnote 72: _Op. cit._, p. 161.]

[Footnote 73: _The Past in the Present_, p. 60.]

[Illustration: PLATE III.


PLATE III.--_Bee-Hive Houses at Uig, inhabited in 1859._

(From Plate XII. of Vol. III. of _Proceedings of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland_, First Series.)

See p. 47, _ante_.

[Illustration: PLATE IV.


PLATE IV.--_Bee-Hive Houses at Meabhag, Forest of Harris._

(From Plate X. of Vol. III. of _Proceedings of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland_, First Series.)

At the date of Captain Thomas's visit (1861) a man was still living who
had been born in one or other of these dwellings.

[Illustration: PLATE V.


_a_. "scarcely 18 in. wide."]

PLATE V.--_Ground Plan of Bee-Hive House, Island of Benbecula._

(From Plate XXXII. of Vol. VII. of _Proceedings of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland_, First Series.)

[Illustration: PLATE VI.


"A hole (_e_), called the Farlos, is left in the apex of the roof for
the escape of the smoke, and is closed with a turf or flat stone as

_Height of Dome, 7 feet._

_a, b. Doorways._

_c. Fireplace._

_d. Row of stones for seats._

_e. Centre. (Distance from e to end of cells, 7 feet.)_

_f, g, h. Cells or bed-places._

_f is "2 feet wide and 15 inches high at the inner end; is 5 feet long
and 3 feet high at the mouth. The opposite cell (g) is of the same
dimensions. The third cell (h) is 4 feet wide at the mouth, 5 feet long,
decreasing to 2½ feet wide at the head, where it is 16 inches high."_

The above is given by Captain Thomas as an example of such dwellings
"having oven-like bed-places around the internal area. This interesting
summer house illustrates the most antique form of dormitory; but in the
winter houses the floor of the bedroom was raised three or four feet
above the ground." (Compare the side cells in Maes-How, Orkney.)]

PLATE VI.--_Chambered Mound (Both Stacseal), near Stornoway,

(From Plate XXXII. of Vol. VII. of _Proceedings of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland_, First Series.)

With reference to the _farlos_, or smoke-hole (otherwise "sky-light"),
which, in this instance, is at a height of 7 feet from the floor of the
dwelling, Captain Thomas remarks:--"A man, on standing upright, can
often put his head out of the hole and look around" (_op. cit._, vol.
iii., p. 130 _n._). This suggests the following story, told by Mr. J.F.
Campbell (_West Highland Tales_, vol. ii., pp. 39-40):

     "There was a woman in Baile Thangusdail, and she was out seeking a
     couple of calves; and the night and lateness caught her, and there
     came rain and tempest, and she was seeking shelter. She went to a
     knoll with the couple of calves, and she was striking the
     tether-peg into it. The knoll opened. She heard a gleegashing
     (_gliogadaich_) as if a pot-hook were clashing beside a pot. She
     took wonder, and she stopped striking the tether-peg. A woman put
     out her head and all above her middle, and she said, 'What business
     hast thou to be troubling this tulman [mound] in which I make my
     dwelling?' 'I am taking care of this couple of calves, and I am but
     weak. Where shall I go with them?' 'Thou shalt go with them to that
     breast down yonder. Thou wilt see a tuft of grass. If thy couple of
     calves eat that tuft of grass, thou wilt not be a day without a
     milk cow as long as thou art alive, because thou hast taken my

     "As she said, she never was without a milk cow after that, and she
     was alive fourscore and fifteen years after the night that was

[Illustration: PLATE VII.


_a. Dwelling apartments._

_b. Fosgarlan or Porch._

_c. Cuiltean or Milk cupboards._

_d. Stonebench or Bedplace._

_AB. Line of Section._

_CD. View as represented as restored._]

[Illustration: PLATE VIII.


PLATES VII. AND VIII.--_"Agglomeration of Bee-Hives" at Uig,

(From Plates XV. and XVI. of Vol. III. of _Proceedings of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland_, First Series.)

     "By far the most singular of all these structures, and probably
     unique in the Long Island, is at Gearraidh na h-Airde Moire,
     on the shore of Loch Resort. I cannot describe it better than by
     bidding you suppose twelve individual bee-hive huts all built
     touching each other, with doors and passages from one to the other.
     The diameter of this gigantic booth is 46 feet, and [it] is nearly
     circular in plan. The height of the doors and passages about 2½
     feet; and under the smokehole (_farlos_), in two of the chambers,
     the height was 6½ feet.... I am informed that, so late as 1823,
     this _both_ was inhabited by four families." (Captain Thomas,
     _Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot._, vol. iii., p. 139.)

[Illustration: PLATE IX.

PLAN AND ELEVATION OF A BOTH _at Gearraidh Aird Mhor, Uig, Lewis._

_a. dwellings._

_b. fosgarlan or porch._

_c. cuiltean or milk cupboards._

_d. doors._

_e. farlos or smokehole._

"One of a group of three at the garry of Aird Mhor, close to the shore
and near the mouth of Loch Resort, Uig, Lewis. This compound _both_ has
evidently been intended for two related families ... but there is no
interior communication between the dwellings." (_Op. cit. p. 144._)]

PLATE IX.--_Compound "Both" situated near the above._

(From Plate XIV. of Vol. III. of _Proceedings of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland_, First Series.)

[Illustration: PLATE X.


PLATE X.--_"Both" and Underground Gallery at Meall na h-Uamh,
Huishnish, South Uist._

(From Plate XXXIII. of Vol. VII. of _Proceedings of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland_, First Series.)

     "I have next to notice," says Captain Thomas (_op. cit._, p. 164),
     "that form of bo'h, Pict's house, or clochan, whichever name may be
     adopted by archæologists, to which a hypogeum or subterranean
     gallery is attached.... [The present example] is in South Uist,
     about half a mile inland from Moll a Deas (South Beach); and the
     Moll is about one mile and a half to the south of Husinish
     (Husness, _i.e._, Houseness). The site of the bo'h is called Meall
     na [h-] Uamh, or Cave Lump [more correctly, the Mound of the Cave,
     or 'Weem.'] It consists of a partly excavated oval dwelling chamber
     (_a_), 7 feet by 14 feet on the floor; the dome roof has fallen in;
     there are two _cuiltean_, or niches in the wall. A low curved
     subterranean passage (_b_), about 2½ feet square and 20 feet in
     length, leads into an elongated bee-hive chamber (_c_), 13 feet by
     5 feet, and 6¾ feet high; from thence an entrance (_d_), 2 feet by
     2 feet, admits to a small circular chamber or cell (_e_), 5 feet in
     diameter and 5 feet high. The main passage inclines downwards, so
     that the floor of the second chamber (_c_) is nearly 3 feet lower
     than that of the first (_a_); and that of the inner one (_e_) a
     foot below the second (_c_)."

[Illustration: PLATE XI.


[Illustration: PLATE XII.


"These piers were about 4 feet high, 4 feet to 6 feet long, and 1½ foot
to 2 feet broad; and there was a passage of from 1 foot to 2 feet in
width between the wall and them."

"On a small, flattish terrace, where the hill sloped steeply, an area
had been cleared by digging away the bank, so that the wall of the
house, for nearly half its circumference, was the side of the hill,
faced with stone.... The hypogeum or subterranean gallery is on a level
with the floor, pierced towards the hill, and is entered by a very small
doorway [marked _d_ on Ground Plan, Plate XI.].... It is but 18 inches
high and 2 feet broad, so that a very stout or large man could not get
in." (_Op. cit._, pp. 166, 167.)]

PLATES XI. AND XII.--_"Both" and Underground Gallery at
Huishnish, South Uist._

(From Plates XXXIV. and XXXV. of Vol. VII. of _Proceedings of the
Society of Antiquaries of Scotland_, First Series.)

     "An ancient dwelling, semi-subterranean, exists at Nisibost, Harris
     [and is described in vol. iii. of the _Proceedings_, p. 140].... A
     still finer example exists near to Meall na h-Uamh, in South
     Uist.... The bo'h, or Pict's house, as it would be called in the
     Orkneys--but the name is unknown in the Long Island--that I am
     about to describe lies less than half a mile above the shepherd's
     house; but so little curiosity had that individual that he was
     entirely unacquainted with it; and I believe it would never have
     been found by us but for a little terrier (in its etymological
     sense, of course) of a daughter. The child was only acquainted with
     the two here drawn [of which the other--viz., _Uamh Sgalabhad_, is
     here reproduced as Plate I., frontispiece]; but there may be many
     more waiting the researches of the zealous antiquary." (Captain
     Thomas, _op. cit._, p. 165.)

[Illustration: PLATE XIII.


"The drawing is from a photograph of the entrance, which is 2 feet 10
inches high and 1½ foot broad. The sea flows up to it at high tides."]

PLATE XIII.--_Underground Gallery at Paible, Taransay, Harris._

(From Plate XXIX. of Vol. VII. of _Proceedings of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland_, First Series.)

Describing this earth-house, Captain Thomas says:--"The
drawing is from a photograph of the entrance, which is 2 feet 10 inches
high and 1½ foot broad. The sea flows up to it at high tides. On
crawling in, there is seen the usual guard-cell (_b_), close beside the
entrance, but so small that we may be sure the sentinel, if there was
one, must have been a light weight; in fact, we are almost driven to the
conclusion that there were no Bantings in those days. This guard-cell is
but 2 feet 5 inches high, and 3 feet in width. The gallery then turns at
a right angle to the left hand. We excavated it for 22 feet.... When
digging, we came upon two broken stone dishes (corn-crushers?) now in
the Museum [Society of Antiquaries of Scotland]; and above the gallery
were most of the bones of a small ox, placed orderly together.... Bones
of the seal were common, and a few of the eagle." (_Op. cit._, p. 169.)

[Illustration: PLATE XIV.


[Illustration: PLATE XV.


(_Facing inner doorway of gallery_).

_Cell or Bed in Wall._]

[Illustration: PLATE XVI.


PLATES XIV., XV., AND XVI.--_Maes-How, Orkney._

These plates represent the "Pict's house" referred to by Captain Thomas
(pp. 50-51, _ante_), with regard to which he says:--"Maes howe was for
three families--grandees, no doubt; but the numbers it was intended to
hold in the _beds_ may be learned by comparing them with the Amazon's
House, St. Kilda."

The structure last named is described by Captain Thomas and Mr. T.S.
Muir in vol. iii. of the _Proceedings_ (pp. 225-228), where it is
stated:--"The Amazon's House is of the same class with our earliest
stone buildings--belonging to the era of cromlechs, stone-circles,
Picts' castles, &c.; but while in other parts of Britain the style and
type have vanished for a thousand years, in the Outer Hebrides we find
them (in the Bothan [_i.e._, 'boths' or 'bee-hive houses'] of Uig)
continued to the present day." The following additional remarks by
Captain Thomas are also of interest in this connection:--"It appears
that besides the Tigh na Bhanna ghaisgach (Ty-na-Van-a-ghas-gec), or
Amazon's House--and of whom all tradition, except her name, has
gone--there are the remains of other submerged dwellings and hypogea.
Miss Euphemia MacCrimmon, the oldest inhabitant of that far-off island,
tells that a certain Donald Macdonald and John Macqueen, on passing a
hillock, heard churning going on within. And about thirty years ago,
when digging into the hillock to make the foundations of a new house,
they discovered what seemed to be the fairies' residence, built of
stones inside, and holes in the wall, or croops, as they call them, as
in Airidh na Bhannaghaisgach."[74]

It will be noticed that the "beds" in Maes-How are on a higher level
than the floor of the main chamber. "In the winter houses," observes
Captain Thomas,[75] "the floor of the bed-place was raised 3 or 4 feet
above the ground."

The original use of Maes-How is a matter of opinion, and some have
assumed it to belong to the class of sepulchral mounds, although there
is no evidence in support of this belief. For many reasons, the opinions
of Captain Thomas are endorsed by the present writer. It may be added
that, prior to 1861, when the mound was opened, local tradition had
declared that it was the residence of a "hog-boy," or mound-dweller.

[Footnote 74: _Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot._ (First Series), vol. vii. p.

[Footnote 75: _Op. cit._, p. 164.]

[Illustration: PLATE XVII.


[Illustration: PLATE XVIII.


[Illustration: PLATE XIX.

GROUND PLAN OF THE BRUGH OF THE BOYNE (as at present explored).]

PLATES XVII., XVIII., AND XIX.--_Brugh of the Boyne, New
Grange, County Meath._

The diagrams here shown are from drawings by Mr. W.F. Wakeman, the
veteran Irish archæologist.[76] With reference to the spiral carvings at
the doorway of the Brugh, it may be mentioned that "the same kind of
ornament appears on a stone found amidst a heap which had once been a
'Pict's-house' in the island of Eday, Orkney;"[77] and that in Orkney,
also, there has been found, in an underground house, a large stone
"saucer," or "tray," resembling the two shown in the ground plan of the
Brugh. (There appears to be no settled opinion as to the uses of those

In connection with the identification of this mound with the "Brugh of
the Boyne" of ancient Irish history, the following remarks may be
quoted. The Rev. Father O'Laverty, in the Journal of the Royal Society
of Antiquaries of Ireland (December, 1892, p. 430) thus observes:--

     "In his very valuable work, _The Boyne and Blackwater_, Sir William
     Wilde appears to me to have used convincing arguments to prove that
     _Brugh-na-Boinne_ ... was ... on the left bank of the Boyne,
     convenient to the ford of _Ros-na-righ_ (Rossnaree) at Knowth,
     Dowth, and Newgrange. To Sir William's arguments one point only was
     wanting: the old name had disappeared.... It is now more than
     thirty years since I went to Newgrange for the special purpose of
     investigating that matter. I explained to Mr. Maguire, then of
     Newgrange, and to his son, that _Brugh-na-Boinne_ signified 'the
     town, or dwelling-place, on the Boyne,' that the word _Brugh_ would
     assume the modern form _Bro_, as in Brughshane (pronounced
     Broshane), and many other townland names, and that _na-Boinne_, 'of
     the Boyne,' would probably cease to be used as unnecessary at the
     site. I need not say that I was greatly pleased when they informed
     me that the field in which is the mound of Newgrange is called the
     _Bro-Park_, while in the immediate vicinity are the _Bro-Farm_, the
     _Bro-Mill_, and the _Bro-Cottage_." [And also, they might have
     added, the mansion of _Broe House_.]

Any one, therefore, who duly considers the matter, in relation to the
statements of both of these writers, will see that the mound at New
Grange is the _Brugh-na-Boinne_ of Irish history and tradition. And this
name, says Father O'Laverty, "signified 'the town, or dwelling-place, on
the Boyne.'" What, then, are the earliest associations with this "town
or dwelling-place?"

It is said[78] to have been built by a celebrated "king and oracle" of
the people known as the Tuatha Dé, Dea, or De Danann, and to have been
the residence of himself and others of his race. This chief (Eochaid
_Ollathair_) is usually referred to as "the Dagda," or "the Daghda Mòr";
and of his nation it is asserted that, after having invaded Ireland and
conquered its native "Fir-Bolgs," they were themselves conquered in
turn by a later race of immigrants, the Gaels. This "Brugh," therefore,
is said to have been the residence of the Dagda, and, after him, of
Angus, one of his sons. Consequently, it is very frequently styled "the
Brugh of Angus, son of the Dagda," an appellation which assumes various
forms.[79] Latterly, it seems to have been most generally known as "the
Brugh" (_par excellence_), or, more simply still, as "Brugh." In the
Book of Leinster it is specified as one of "Ireland's three undeniable
eminences [_dindgna_]"[80]; while "an ancient poem by Mac Nia, son of
Oenna (in the Book of Ballymote, fol. 190 b.)," styles it "a king's
mansion" and a "_sídh_." The same MS. (32 _a b_) gives the variant _Sídh
an Bhrogha_, rendered by Dr. Standish O'Grady "the fairy fort of the
_Brugh_ upon the Boyne."[81] This word "_sídh_," which was
applied--probably in the first place--to hollow mounds such as this, but
which was also applied to the dwellers in them, gave the Tuatha De
Danann their most popular name. Because it was on account of their
residence in "the green mounds, known by the name of _Sídh_," that they
were called "the _Fir Sídhe_ [_i.e._, men of the _sídhs_], or Fairies,
of Ireland."[82] The one word, indeed (_sídh_), became indifferently
applied to the dwellings and the dwellers. Whichever was the earliest
meaning of that word, there is little dubiety as to the etymology of
_Siabhra_. In one copy of the _Leabhar na h-Uidhre_,[83] it is stated
that the Tuatha De Danann "were called _Siabhras_." O'Reilly defines
_siabhra_ as "a fairy," and _siabhrach_ as "fairy-like"; while "a fairy
mansion" is _siabhrugh_. With Connellan, again, _siabhrog_ is "a fairy."
It seems quite evident that these are all corruptions of _sídh-bhrugh_
(otherwise _Sídh an Bhrogha_, as above), and that _Siabhra_, as applied
to the _dwellers_, was simply a transference from the name denoting
their _dwellings_.

Numerous as are the references to this mound as a "dwelling-place," its
name figures prominently in the list of the ancient cemeteries of
Ireland. _Relec in Broga_, "the Cemetery of the Brugh," is referred to
as one of "the three cemeteries of Idolaters," in an Irish manuscript of
the twelfth century (or earlier), the _Leabhar na h-Uidhre_ cited above.
Of the two others, one is "the Cemetery of Cruachan"; and, by glancing
at it, in the first place, we shall obtain a good idea of the Cemetery
of the Brugh. "We find that the monuments within the cemetery at
Rathcroghan,"[84] says Mr. Petrie, "are small circular mounds, which,
when examined, are found to cover rude, sepulchral chambers formed of
stone, without cement of any kind, and containing unburned bones."[85]
And the twelfth-century scribe whom Mr. Petrie largely quotes, says that
there were fifty such mounds (_cnoc_) in the cemetery at Cruachan. This
mediæval scholar has copied a poem on the subject, "ascribed to Dorban,
a poet of West Connaught," wherein it is said that it is not in the
power of poets or of sages to reckon the number of heroes under the
Cruachan mounds, and that there is not a hillock (_cnoc_) in that
cemetery "which is not the grave of a king or royal prince, or of a
woman, or warlike poet." In another verse, he says that _each_ of the
fifty mounds had a warrior under it; and, altogether, it appears that,
although their number could doubtless be "reckoned," yet the burial
mounds of Cruachan, in or about the twelfth century, much exceeded fifty
in number. "Fifty" is simply used by the poet and his commentator to
show that, like the two other cemeteries of the triad (each of which is
also said to have had fifty) the Cemetery of Cruachan contained about a
third of the pagan notables of Ireland.

From this we see that, about the twelfth century, the Cemetery of the
Brugh contained at least fifty sepulchral mounds such as those described
by Mr. Petrie at Cruachan. Mr. Petrie further quotes two passages from
the _Dinnsenchus_, which specify in the following terms some of the most
famous of those "monuments" at the Brugh:--

     "The Grave [or Stone Cairn, _Leacht_] of the Dagda; the Grave of
     Aedh Luirgnech, son of the Dagda; the Graves of Cirr and Cuirrell,
     wives of the Dagda--'these are two hillocks [_da cnoc_]'; the Grave
     of Esclam, the Dagda's Brehon, 'which is called _Fert-Patric_ at
     this day'; the Cashel [or Stone Enclosure] of Angus, son of
     Crunmael; the Cave [_Derc_] of Buailcc Bec; the Stone Cairn
     [_Leacht_] of Cellach, son of Maelcobha; the Stone Cairn [_Leacht_]
     of the steed of Cinaedh, son of Irgalach; the Prison [_Carcar_] of
     Liath-Macha; the 'Glen' of the Mata; the Pillar Stone of Buidi, the
     son of Muiredh, where his head is interred; the Stone of Benn; the
     Grave of Boinn, the wife of Nechtan; the 'Bed' of the daughter of
     Forann; the _Barc_ of Crimthann Nianar, in which he was interred;
     the Grave of Fedelmidh, the Lawgiver; the _Cumot_ of Cairbre
     Lifeachair; the _Fulacht_ of Fiachna Sraiphtine."

These, of course, are only some of the most famous of the sepulchral
monuments which existed in the Cemetery of the Brugh eight or nine
centuries ago. Since that time, most of them have disappeared, their
stones having been presumably built into castles, mansions, cottages and
walls, while the bones of the queens and heroes have fertilised the soil
of the neighbouring farms. But there still remain a few
"standing-stones" and "moats" in the vicinity of the Brugh, all of which
may be included in the above list.

I have cited that list for the reason that modern antiquaries, or many
of them, have assumed that _Síd in Broga_ and _Relec in Broga_ are
synonymous terms, and that when a king or hero is recorded to have been
buried "at Brugh," that means that he was buried _in_ the Brugh itself.
In other words, that a place which was known as Fert-Patrick in or about
the twelfth century, as also the "cashel" and the many hillocks, graves,
and cairns mentioned in the list--not to speak of innumerable
others--were all situated in the chamber which is shown in Plate XIX. It
does not require a moment's reflection to convince one that this is an
erroneous assumption. Nor is it warranted by the "History of the
Cemeteries" itself, which always speaks of the burials having been "_at_

One other statement, however, must be referred to. In another verse of
Dorban's poem, mentioned above, it is said that "the host of Meath" are
buried "_ar lár in Broga tuathaig_." This is rendered by Petrie, "in the
middle of the lordly Brugh." The translation is no doubt good; and it is
open to any one to deduce therefrom that the chamber shown in the plan
contained at one time the skeletons of the host of Meath. In that case,
the "host" must have been very limited in number; and anyone who has
crawled along the sixty-foot passage into the Brugh, and who adopts this
view, must wonder a little as to how the corpses were conveyed along
that passage, and as to the reasons which must have induced some people
(prior to 1699, when the chamber was almost, if not altogether, void of
such relics)[87] to drag all those bones out again, at much personal
inconvenience. But "_ar lár in Broga_" may also mean "in the [burying-]
ground of the Brugh"; and the descriptions quoted above from the
_Dinnsenchus_ show quite clearly that the ground in which "the host of
Meath" were buried embraced a considerable tract of land, dotted over
with mounds and monuments, differing only in degree from those of a
modern cemetery.[88]

The twelfth-century commentator of Dorban's poem states:

     "The nobles of the Tuatha De Danann (with the exception of seven of
     them who were interred at Talten [which was the third 'Cemetery of
     the Idolaters']) were buried at Brugh, _i.e._, Lugh, and Oe, son of
     Ollamh, and Ogma, and Carpre, son of Etan, and Etan (the poetess)
     herself, and the Dagda and his three sons (_i.e._, Aedh, and
     Oengus, and Cermait), and a great many others besides of the
     Tuatha De Dananns, and Firbolgs and others."[89]

But, afterwards, "the race of Heremon, _i.e._, the kings of Tara," who
used to bury at Cruachan (because that was the chief seat in their
special principality of Connaught) came to bury at Brugh. "The first
king of them that was interred at Brugh" was a certain Crimthann,
surnamed _Nianar_, the son of Lughaidh Riabh-n-derg;[90] and the reason
why Crimthann decided to abandon the burying-place of his forefathers
was "because his wife Nar was of the Tuatha Dea, and it was she
solicited him that he should adopt Brugh as a burial-place for himself
and his descendants, and this was the cause that they did not bury at
Cruachan."[91] It would appear that the ruling dynasty of the Tuatha Dea
had ended in a female, both on account of Nar's action in this matter,
and because her husband became known by her name--as Nianar
(_Niadk-Náir_) or "Nar's Champion."

This Nar is a very interesting personage in the present connection.
Because, being one of the Tuatha Dea, she was a _siabhra_, or woman of
the _sídhs_; otherwise, a _bean-síde_ (modernised into "banshee"). This
is plainly stated in two other Irish manuscripts, with an additional
explanation which is very apposite. It is said that Crimthann was called
Nar's Champion "because his wife Nar _thuathchaech_ out of the _sídhes_,
or of the Pict-folk [_a sídaib no do Chruithentuaith_], she it was that
took him off on an adventure." A companion statement is that made in
another manuscript to the effect that "Nar _thuathchaech_, the
daughter of Lotan of the Pict-folk [_Nár thuathchaech ingen Lotain do
Chruithentuaith_], was the mother of Feradach _finnfhechtnach_," or "the
brightly prosperous"--a king of Ireland.[92]

Incidentally, therefore, in considering the Brugh of the Boyne and the
people most associated with it, we find very distinct confirmation of
the main part of the contention in the foregoing treatise. From these
extracts it is evident that those early writers regarded _siabhra,
fear-sídh, bean-sídh_, and _daoine-sídh_ (words which may also be
interpreted "mound-dweller") as ordinary folk-names for the Picts; just
in the same way as any historian of the frontier wars in North America
would understand by "Red-skin" and "Greaser" the more classic "Indian"
and "Mexican."

[Footnote 76: Earlier illustrations, from drawings made in 1724 by Mr.
Samuel Molyneux, a Dublin student, may be seen in Part II. of "A Natural
History of Ireland," Dublin, 1726. Other eighteenth-century
representations of the same place occur in a volume of old plates,
belonging to the Society of Antiquaries (London). This volume is
endorsed "Celtic Remains; I," and its contents form part of (says the
fly-leaf) "a collection of plates from the Archæologia collected by Mr.
Akerman when the Society's Stock was sold off and arranged more or less
in Classes." The views of the Brugh will be found at pp. 239, 253, and
254 (Plates XIX.-XXII.). Colonel Forbes Leslie has two excellent plates,
from drawings of his own, in his _Early Races of Scotland_ (Edin. 1866),
vol. ii.; where he also refers to Wilde's _Boyne and Blackwater_ and
Wakeman's _Irish Antiquities_. A recent work, illustrating the same
subject, but which I have not yet had an opportunity of seeing, is Mr.
George Coffey's "Tumuli and Inscribed Stones at New Grange, Dowth, and
Knowth," Dublin, 1893.]

[Footnote 77: Forbes Leslie's _Early Races of Scotland_, vol. ii. p.
335, _note_.]

[Footnote 78: O'Curry's _Lectures_, Dublin, 1861, p. 505.]

[Footnote 79: For most of which see Dr. Standish O'Grady's _Silva
Gadelica_, pp. 102-3, 146, 233, 474, and 484.]

[Footnote 80: _Silva Gadelica_ (English translation), pp. 474 and 520.]

[Footnote 81: _Op. cit._ (English translation), p. 522.]

[Footnote 82: Skene's _Celtic Scotland_, vol. iii. pp. 106-7.]

[Footnote 83: Class H. 3, 17, Trinity College, Dublin. [I quote from Mr.
Petrie's "Round Towers," Trans, of Roy. Irish Acad., vol. xx. (Dublin,
1845), p. 98.]]

[Footnote 84: Rath Chruachain, Co. Roscommon: the cemetery was styled
_Relig na Riogh_, or the Cemetery of Kings.]

[Footnote 85: _Op. cit._, p. 106.]

[Footnote 86: "_Is in Brug, or Bruig_." Mr. Petrie invariably translates
this as "at" Brugh. But I observe that Dr. Standish O'Grady (_Silva
Gadelica_, p. 256; and p. 289 of English translation) renders the Gaelic
particle by English "in." To decide between two Gaelic scholars is not
within my province. But if Dr. O'Grady understands "the Brugh" to be
synonymous with _Sídh an Bhrogha_ (as perhaps he does not), the adoption
of his reading would lead to an inference which is opposed to common

[Footnote 87: Molyneux, writing in 1725, says that "when first the cave
was opened, the bones of two dead bodies entire, not burnt, were found
upon the floor." Colonel Forbes Leslie remarks: "Llhuyd, the antiquary,
writing in 1699, makes no mention of any human remains being found in

[Footnote 88: Since the above was written, the quarterly number, June
1893, of the _Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland_
has been issued, and a note therein confirms the suspicion, indicated in
Mr. Wakeman's drawing, that the whole mound is not yet explored. But the
above remarks are applicable in any case.]

[Footnote 89: Petrie: _op. cit._, p. 106.]

[Footnote 90: That is, Lughaidh of the Red Stripes; "meaning that on his
person he had two such: one as girdle round his middle, another as
necklace round his neck." (_Silva Gadelica_, English translation, p.

[Footnote 91: Petrie (_op. cit._, p. 101), quoting from the "History of
the Cemeteries" in the _Leabhar na h-Uidhre_.]

[Footnote 92: These two extracts are from _Silva Gadelica_, Eng.
transl., pp. 495 and 544; where the references are, respectively, "Book
of Ballymote, 250 _a b_," and "Kilbride No. 3, Advocates' Library,
Edinburgh, 5."]

[Illustration: PLATES XX. AND XXI.


[Illustration: PLATE XXII.


PLATES XX. AND XXI.--_The Denghoog, Island of Sylt, North

In addition to my original collection, I am now able to show three views
of the Denghoog, in Sylt, which is the mound referred to on p. 34
(_ante_). Mr. W.G. Black speaks of it thus:--

     "There is some confusion as to King Finn's dwelling. As doctors
     differ, we may be allowed to claim that it was the Denghoog, close
     to Wenningstedt, if only because we descended into that remarkable
     dwelling. Externally merely a swelling green mound, like so many
     others in Sylt, entrance is gained by a trap-door in the roof, and
     decending a steep ladder, one finds himself in a subterranean
     chamber, some seventeen by ten feet in size, the walls of which are
     twelve huge blocks of Swedish granite; the height of the roof
     varies from five feet to six feet. The original entrance appears to
     have been a long narrow passage, seventeen feet long and about two
     feet wide and high. This mound was examined by a Hamburg professor
     in 1868, who found remains of a fireplace, bones of a small man,
     some clay urns, and stone weapons. Later, a Kiel professor is said
     to have carried off all he found therein to Kiel Museum, and so far
     we have not been able to trace the published accounts of his

Mr. Christian Jensen, Oevenum, Föhr, to whom I am indebted for these
three views, has favoured me with the following information:--

     "The sketches of the Denhoog which I enclose [viz., the Ground Plan
     and Sectional View] are from the drawings of Professor Wibel, who
     conducted the excavation of it in 1868. From his and C.P. Hansen's
     observations I contribute the following statements: Originally, the
     mound was higher, but in 1868 it had the form of a truncated cone,
     4½ _mètres_ [say 14 feet 9 inches] in height. As may be seen from
     the picture, it slopes away to the south above the original passage
     into the mound, which the dweller made use of as his entrance; so
     that the extent is very considerable. The present entrance, as may
     be seen from the view of the interior, was made from above, at the
     north side, directly opposite the original entrance.... Dr. Wibel
     says: 'At the south side of the chamber is the doorway for ingress
     and egress, with the passage itself leading from it. This passage,
     which was 6 _mètres_ [19 feet 8 inches] in length, was lined with
     upright blocks of granite and gneiss, with a roofing and floor made
     of flagstones of the same kinds of stone. It was opened up all the
     way to the mouth of the passage. This [the outer orifice] lay close
     to the extremity of the earth and near the floor of the mound, was
     closed with earth only, not with a stone, and measured about 1
     _mètre_ [3 feet 3.4 inches] in height, and 1⅓ _mètre_ in breadth.
     On account of these dimensions ... one can only creep through
     with difficulty, and for that reason the plan does not show with
     accuracy the position of the wall-slabs, and their number is merely
     conjectured to be nine.'

     "Immediately after this excavation of 17-19 September, 1868, C.P.
     Hansen writes as follows:--

     "'There are in the island of Sylt hillocks of ancient origin, for
     the most part pagan burying-places, but some of which may have
     served as the dwelling-places of a primitive people. One such
     hillock has just been opened at Wenningstedt. The interior was
     found to be a chamber, 17 feet long, 10 feet in breadth, and from 5
     to 6 feet in height, with a covered passage about 22 feet long,
     trending southward. The walls of this underground room were
     composed of twelve large granite blocks, regularly arranged; the
     roof consisted of three still larger slabs of the same kind of
     rock; the stones which formed the passage were smaller. At one
     corner of the floor of the cellar there was a well-defined
     fireplace, and near it were urns and flint implements; in the
     opposite corner there were many bones lying, apparently unburned,
     probably those of the last dweller in the cavern.'"

Mr. Christian Jensen gives an account of "Der Denghoog bei Wenningstedt"
in the "Beilage zu Nr. 146 der Flensburger Nachrichten" of 25th June
1893, in which he says:

     "... On the floor of the chamber, three separate divisions were
     distinctly visible, of which one, situated on the east side, showed
     traces of having been a fireplace. Professor Wibel found several
     fragments of human bones, which evidently belonged only to _one_
     individual, as no portion was duplicated; also a few animals'
     bones. There was an extraordinary number of fragments of pottery,
     belonging to about 24 different urns, of which 11 could be put
     together. Their form and ornamentation were both fine and varied,
     an interesting witness to the ceramics of the grey past.... Among
     the stone implements found were a great many flint-knives; two
     stone hatchets, two chisels, and a gouge, all of flint, and a disc
     of porphyry were also obtained. Several mineral substances,
     quartzite, rubble-stones, gravel, ochre, a sinter-heap--these are
     less interesting than the seven amber beads which, with some
     charcoal, completes the list of objects found. Referring to former
     investigations of galleried mounds [_gangbauten_], which seem to
     have been used in some cases as burying-places, in others as
     dwellings, Dr. Wibel observes, in answer to the question resulting
     from his discovery, as to whether the Denghoog ought to be regarded
     as a sepulchre or as a dwelling, that, as Nilsson has already said,
     all gallery-mounds were originally dwellings, and occasionally
     became utilised as tombs. In the case of the Denghoog, this fact is
     demonstrated by the fireplace, the scattered potsherds, the amber
     beads, &c."

[Footnote 93: _Heligoland_, Edin. and Lond., 1888, pp. 84-85.]

Of the little woodcut which forms the Tailpiece of this volume, it is
hardly necessary to say that it represents some popular ideas regarding
"the little people." The woodcut of which this is a facsimile is one of
those contained in the eighteenth-century chap-book, "_Round about our
Coal Fire_; or, Christmas Entertainments," and it heads the chapter "_Of
Fairies, their Use and Dignity_." "They generally came out of a
Mole-hill," it is said; "they had fine Musick always among themselves,
and Danced in a Moonshiny Night around, or in a Ring as one may see at
this Day upon every Common in _England_, where Mushroones [_sic_] grow,"
The size of the mushroom, so elegantly depicted in the foreground, is
quite on a scale suitable to the stature ultimately accorded to the
little people in many districts; so also is the mole-hill. But the tree,
and the Satanic head in the foliage, are curiously out of proportion.

       *       *       *       *       *

An examination of these various diagrams will show that the more
primitive of those structures were obviously built by a small-sized
race; some of the passages being quite impassable to large men of the
present day. This peculiarity was noticed by Scott when visiting the
"brochs" of Shetland, a kindred class of structures (none of which are
here shown). "These Duns or Picts' Castles are so small," he says,
writing in his Diary in August 1814, "it is impossible to conceive what
effectual purpose they could serve excepting a temporary refuge for the
chief." This reflection was suggested to him by the Broch of
Cleik-him-in (now usually written Clickemin), near Lerwick; and in
describing it he says: "The interior gallery, with its apertures, is so
extremely low and narrow, being only about three feet square, that it is
difficult to conceive how it could serve the purpose of communication.
At any rate, the size fully justifies the tradition prevalent here, as
well as in the south of Scotland, that the Picts were a diminutive
race." Of the Broch of Mousa he says: "The uppermost gallery is so
narrow and low that it was with great difficulty I crept through it,"--a
feat which baffled the present writer.[94] In all those cases, of
course, it is understood one has to crawl. As with the Lapps and the
Eskimos, creeping was much more a matter of course with the builders of
those places than it is with us. After getting through such passages it
happens that, in several instances, the roof is higher than is required
for the tallest living man. An admirable example of such a place is the
underground "Picts' House" at Pitcur, in Forfarshire, which would be
quite a palace to people of a small race, and very likely figures as
such in some popular tale; its dimensions and appearance considerably
magnified with every century.[95] But even this "fairy palace" was
entered by narrow, downward-sloping passages, similar to that seen in
the Frontispiece, down and up which the dwellers had to crawl. An
underground gallery such as that of Ardtole (near Ardglass, County
Down), is somewhat puzzling, because, while one chamber off it rises to
a height of 5 feet 3 inches, another is only 3½ feet high; and the main
gallery, for 70 feet of its length, is 4½ feet high, with a width of 3
feet 4 inches. The inference from this seems to be that the occupants
were under 4½ feet in height. If they had intended to crawl along the 70
feet, they did not require so high a roof; whereas, if they walked, and
if they were more than 4½ feet in height, they would need to walk the 70
feet in a stooping posture, a constraint which they could easily have
avoided by raising the roof a foot or two. The highest roof in all this
souterrain being 5 feet 3, it does not seem likely that the builders
were taller than that; and there seems more reason to believe that they
were much smaller. Another such gallery in Sutherlandshire is "nowhere
more than 4½ feet in height, and for the greater part of its length only
2 feet wide, expanding to 3½, for about 3 feet only from the inner end."
Still more restricted is the "rath-cave" of Ballyknock, in the parish of
Ballynoe, barony of Kinnatalloon, County Cork. "The cave is a mere
cutting in the clayey subsoil, and is roofed with flags resting on the
clayey banks of the cutting, of which the length is about 100 feet, and
the height and width from 3 to 3½ feet, except that the width to a
height of 2 feet is hardly a foot at the N.W. turn, 23 feet from the
N.E. end, and at a point 27 feet from the S.E. end.... Right below the
aperture ... was a short pillar-stone, deeply scored with Oghams ...
[and] many of the roofing slabs were seen ... to be inscribed with
Oghams, some large and others minute."[96]

"This class of structures deserves a careful study," observes Captain
Thomas, referring to the souterrains of the north-west of Scotland;[97]
"for the room or accommodation afforded by this mode of building is
exceedingly small when compared with the labour expended in procuring
it; besides, the doorway or entry is often so contracted that no bulky
object, not even a very stout man, could get in ... But what are we to
think when the single passage is so small that only a child could crawl
through it?"

[Footnote 94: On the very topmost course of all, the gallery dwindles
into such insignificant dimensions that not even a dwarf (as one would
naturally understand that term) could creep along it. Scott cannot have
meant this very extremity. With regard to it, I should be inclined to
say that it was merely the necessary finish of the gallery, not intended
to be used any more than the spaces beside the eaves of a house.]

[Footnote 95: The tendency to "idealisation on the part of the narrator"
is referred to, in this connection, by Mr. Joseph Jacobs, at p. 242 of
his "English Fairy Tales" (London, D. Nutt, 1890).]

[Footnote 96: _Jour. Roy. Soc. Antiq. Ireland_, 1891 (Third Quarter), p.
517. It is not inappropriate to add that one of these inscriptions
reads: "Branan, son of Ochal," and that the decipherer (the Rev. Edmond
Barry, M.R.I.A.) identifies this latter name with "the name of a King of
the Fairies of Connaught (_Ri Síde Connacht_)": _op. cit._, pp. 524-525.
The Ardtole souterrain is described in the Journal of the same Society
(July-October, 1889, p. 245), by Mr. Seaton F. Milligan, M.R.I.A.; and
the one in Sutherlandshire is referred to by Dr. Joseph Anderson (at p.
289 of "Scotland in Pagan Times: The Iron Age," Edinburgh, 1883).]

[Footnote 97: _Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot._ (First Series), vol. vii. pp.


_Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO. London & Edinburgh._

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ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.