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Title: The Archaeology and Prehistoric Annals of Scotland
Author: Wilson, D. L. (Daniel Love)
Language: English
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[Illustration: _PLATE V._


_Daniel Wilson, Delᵗ._

_William Douglas, Sculpᵗ._


_Published by Sutherland & Knox Edinr._]

                            THE ARCHÆOLOGY




                             DANIEL WILSON


    "There is in the world no kind of knowledge whereby any part
    of Truth is seen, but we justly account it precious; yea, that
    principal Truth, in comparison of which all other knowledge is
    vile, may receive from it some kind of light."--HOOKER.

                  LONDON: SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, AND CO.
                           AND J. H. PARKER.







In presenting to my fellow-countrymen a Work devoted to the elucidation
of their National Antiquities, and to the recovery of the earliest
traces of Scottish arts and civilisation, I esteem it a high
gratification to be permitted to dedicate it to a Scotsman, not more
noble by hereditary rank and social position, than by the virtues with
which he adorns his high station.

To you, MY LORD, I have reason to believe that the following attempt to
establish a consistent and comprehensive system of Scottish Archæology
will not be without interest, as the zeal shewn by you in furthering
the objects of the Society of which you are President, and the costly
donations with which you have enriched its collections, prove the value
you attach to the Science as a key to the discovery of important truths.

                         I have the honour to be,

                                      MY LORD MARQUESS,

                               Your Lordship's most obedient Servant,

                                                         DANIEL WILSON.

  EDINBURGH, _January 1851_.



  PREFACE,                                                            xi

  INTRODUCTION,                                                        1


  CHAPTER   I.  THE PRIMEVAL TRANSITION,                              21

    ...    II.  ABORIGINAL TRACES,                                    28

    ...   III.  SEPULCHRAL MEMORIALS,                                 41

    ...    IV.  DWELLINGS,                                            74

    ...     V.  TEMPLES AND MEMORIAL STONES,                          91

    ...    VI.  WEAPONS AND IMPLEMENTS,                              120

    ...   VII.  STONE VESSELS,                                       146

    ...  VIII.  PERSONAL ORNAMENTS,                                  154

    ...    IX.  CRANIA OF THE TUMULI,                                160


  CHAPTER   I.  INTRODUCTION OF METALS,                              191

    ...    II.  THE METALLURGIC TRANSITION,                          217

    ...   III.  PRIMITIVE BRONZE,                                    238

    ...    IV.  WEAPONS AND IMPLEMENTS,                              250

    ...     V.  DOMESTIC AND SEPULCHRAL VESSELS,                     271

    ...    VI.  PERSONAL ORNAMENTS,                                  291

    ...   VII.  SEPULCHRES,                                          331

    ...  VIII.  RELIGION, ARTS, AND DOMESTIC HABITS,                 336


  CHAPTER   I.  THE INTRODUCTION OF IRON,                            347

    ...    II.  THE ROMAN INVASION,                                  363

    ...   III.  STRONGHOLDS,                                         408

    ...    IV.  WEAPONS, IMPLEMENTS, AND POTTERY,                    431

    ...     V.  PERSONAL ORNAMENTS,                                  442

    ...    VI.  SEPULCHRES OF THE IRON PERIOD,                       453


  CHAPTER   I.  HISTORICAL DATA,                                     467

    ...    II.  SCULPTURED STANDING STONES,                          495

    ...   III.  THE NORRIE'S LAW RELICS,                             511

    ...    IV.  SCOTO-SCANDINAVIAN RELICS,                           522

    ...     V.  AMUSEMENTS,                                          562

    ...    VI.  PRIMITIVE ECCLESIOLOGY,                              582

    ...   VII.  MEDIEVAL ECCLESIOLOGY,                               600

    ...  VIII.  ECCLESIASTICAL ANTIQUITIES,                          648

    ...    IX.  MISCELLANEOUS ANTIQUITIES,                           677

    ...     X.  CONCLUSION,                                          695

  INDEX,                                                             703





  2.  Stone Celt, Glasgow,                                            35

  3.  Cromlech, the Auld Wives' Lift,                                 66

  4.  Cromlech, the Witch's Stone,                                    68

  5.  PLATE I.--PLAN OF PICT'S HOUSE, Wideford Hill, Orkney,          84

  6.  The Caiy Stone,                                                 96

  7.  Standing Stones, Pitlochrie, Perthshire,                       115

  8.  Flint Arrow-head, Isle of Skye,                                126

  9.  Flint Hatchets,                                                130

  10.  Flail-stone,                                                  132

  11.  Stone Hammers and Axes,                                       135

  12.  Stone Axes,                                                   136

  13.  Stone Axe-Hammer,                                             137

  14.  Bead-stones,                                                  137

  15.  Stone Ball,                                                   139

  16.  Bone Dagger,                                                  141

  17.  Bone Pins or Bodkins,                                         143

  18.  Bone Implements,                                              144

  19.  Stone Urns, from the Island of Uyea,                          147

  20.  Stone Urn, from the Hill of Nowth,                            147

  21.  Stone Pateræ,                                                 148

  22.  Stone Basin, from Brough, Shetland,                           149

  23.  Stone Basin, from Newgrange,                                  149

  24.  Indented Stone Basin, from Newgrange,                         150

  25.  Pot Querne, from East-Lothian,                                152

  26.  Stone Horse Collars, from Glenroy,                            156

  27.  28.  Stone Personal Ornaments,                                157

  29.  Cranium, from a Cist at Cockenzie, East-Lothian,              168

  30.  Cranium, from a Cairn at Nether Urquhart, Fife,               169

  31.  Cranium, from a Cist, Old Steeple, Montrose,                  170

  32.  Cranium, from a Cist, East Broadlaw Farm, Linlithgow,         171

  33.  Cranium, from a Roman Shaft, Newstead, Roxburghshire,         172

  34.  Tower of the Old City Wall, Edinburgh,                        175

  35.  PLATE II.--GLENLYON BROOCH,                                   220

  36.  Highland Powder Horn,                                         221


  37.  Pair of Stone Celt Moulds, Ross-shire,                        223

  38.  Stone Celt Moulds, Ross-shire,                                224

  39.  Celt cast from Stone Moulds,                                  224

  40.  Bronze Rings and Staples,                                     227

  41.  Bronze Celt from Arthur's Seat,                               228

  42.  Bronze Leaf-shaped Sword from Arthur's Seat,                  228

  43.  Spiked Axe,                                                   253

  44.  Incised Axe-blade,                                            253

  45.  Palstave,                                                     254

  46.  Spade-shaped Palstave,                                        256

  47. 48.  Looped Palstave and Celt,                                 257

  49.  Bronze Crowbar or Lever,                                      259

  50.  Bronze Spear-heads,                                           262

  51.  Double-looped Spear-head of Bronze,                           262

  52.  Eyed Spear-head of Bronze,                                    263

  53.  Bronze Dagger,                                                264

  54.  Bronze Buckler, Ayrshire,                                     267

  55.  Bronze Implement, Isle of Skye,                               269

  56.  Bronze Reaping or Pruning-hooks,                              270

  57.  Bronze Cauldron from Kincardine Moss,                         274

  58.  Bronze Tripods,                                               278

  59.  Urns, from a Cist at Banchory, Aberdeenshire,                 283

  60.  Urn with Perforated Ears, from a Cairn at Sheal Loch,         285

  61.  Cinerary Urn from the Dean, Edinburgh,                        286

  62.  Cinerary Urns from Memsie and Ratho,                          287

  63.  Jet Necklace, from a Tumulus, Ross-shire,                     294

  64.  Jet Fibula, Crawford Moor, Lanarkshire,                       295

  65.  Jet Belt Clasp, Isle of Skye,                                 300

  66.  Glass Beads, called "Druidical or Adder Beads,"               303

  67.  Glass Beads,                                                  304

  68.  Dilated Penannular Ring, from a Cist, Alloa,                  311

  69.  Calicinated Ring, Cromdale, Inverness-shire,                  315

  70.  Calicinated Ring, Island of Islay,                            316

  71.  Gold Sceptre Head, Cairnmure, Peeblesshire,                   317

  72.  Knotted Funicular Torc, Penicuick, Mid-Lothian,               318

  73.  Spiral Gold Armilla, Largo Bay, Fifeshire,                    321

  74.  Gold Armilla, Moor of Rannoch, Perthshire,                    324

  75.  Gold Armilla, Slateford, Mid-Lothian,                         325

  76.  Bronze Head-ring, Lumphanan, Aberdeenshire,                   327

  77.  Bronze Ring Fibula and Spiral Finger Ring, Granton,
           Mid-Lothian,                                              327

  78.  Piece of Knitted Garment, from a Cist, Yorkshire,             329

  79.  Incised Cist Cover, Coilsfield, Ayrshire,                     332

  80.  Fragment of Cinerary Urn, Coilsfield,                         333

  81.  Incised Cist Cover, Annan Street,                             334

  82.  Gold Rod, found in the Circle of Leys, Inverness-shire,       341


  83.  Coin of Comius,                                               375

  84.  Inscribed Roman Tablet, from the Castlehill Station,
           Antonine Wall,                                            376

  85.  Base of a Column, Castlehill,                                 377

  86.  Iron Spear-head, from Newstead, Roxburghshire,                382

  87.  Bronze Lamp, found at Currie,                                 383

  88.  Bronze of Pallas Armata, Kirkintilloch,                       389

  89.  Dentated Bronze Ring, Merlsford, Fifeshire,                   393

  90.  Roman Oculist's Medicine Stamp, Tranent, East-Lothian         393

  91.  Impression of Roman Medicine Stamp,                           394

  92.  Roman Altar, from Birrens, Annandale,                         398

  93.  Roman Sepulchral Tablet, Birrens,                             400

  94.  Roman Potters' Stamps,                                        402

  95.  Iron Forge-Tongs, from Glenorchy,                             407

  96.  Bone Comb, Burgh of Burghar,                                  424

  97.  How of Hoxay, Orkney,                                         426

  98.  Plan of Doorway, How of Hoxay,                                427

  99.  Iron Dagger and Bone Pin, East Langton, Mid-Lothian,          433

  100.  Glazed Urn, from a Cist, North-Berwick,                      434

  101.  Glazed Urn, from a Cairn, Memsie, Aberdeenshire,             435

  102.  Bronze Sword-sheath,                                         441

  103.  Silver Chain, Caledonian Canal,                              444

  104.  Bronze Snake Bracelet, Pitalpin, Angusshire,                 446

  105.  Bronze Ornament,                                             447

  106.  Bronze Snake Armlet,                                         448


  108.  Bronze Head-ring, Cairn of Clunemore,                        450

  109.  Head-ring or Diadem, Stitchel, Roxburghshire,                451

  110.  Iron Spear-head, Melford, Fifeshire,                         454

  111.  Iron Umbo, Ballindalloch, Morayshire,                        457

  112.  Enamelled Bridle-Bit, Annandale,                             458

  113.  Bronze Rings, Horse Furniture, Annandale,                    458

  114-116.  Bronze Ornaments, Horse Furniture,                       459


  117.  Standing Stone, Hawkhill, Alloa,                             496

  118.  Dunnichen Stone, Angusshire,                                 497

  119.  Silver Scale-plate, Norrie's Law,                            499

  120.  Meigle Stone, Angusshire,                                    502

  121.  PLATE IV.--ST. ANDREW'S SARCOPHAGUS,                         503

  122.  Celtic Brooch,                                               504

  123.  Celtic Dirks,                                                505

  124.  Inscribed Standing Stone, Newton in Garioch,                 506

  125.  Bishop Patrick's Tomb, Iona,                                 507

  126.  Cross of Lauchlan M'Fingon, Iona,                            509

  127.  Silver Bodkins, Norrie's Law,                                516

  128.  Silver Ring Fibula, Norrie's Law,                            517

  129.  Silver Ornament, Norrie's Law,                               518

  130.  Primitive Gold Coins, Cairnmuir,                             520

  131.  Oval Brooch, Pict's House, Caithness,                        523

  132.  Sculptured Stone, Invergowrie,                               524

  133.  Dunipace Brooch,                                             530

  134.  Runic Inscription, St. Molio's Cave,                         531

  135.  Large Runic Inscription, St. Molio's Cave,                   533

  136.  Runic Inscription, Greenland,                                537

  137.  Kirk Michael Cross, Isle of Man,                             540

  138.  Runic Inscription, Kirk Michael Cross,                       541

  139.  Kirk Braddan Cross, Isle of Man,                             542

  140.  Inscription on the head of Kirk Braddan Cross,               542

  141.  Bronze Ring-Pin, Sandwick, Orkney,                           551

  142.  143. Oval Brooch, Links of Pier-o-waal, Orkney,              554

  144.  Comb, Pier-o-waal,                                           554

  145.  Bronze Ring-Pin,                                             555

  146.  Animal-shaped Liquor Decanter,                               556

  147.  Acus of Dunipace Brooch,                                     559

  148.  Glasgow Brooch,                                              560

  149.  Table-stones,                                                562

  150.  Lewis Chess-Piece, King,                                     568

  151.  Lewis Chess-Piece, Queen,                                    568

  152.  Lewis Chess-Piece, Warden,                                   573

  153.  Lewis Chess-Piece, Knight,                                   576

  154.  Chess-Piece, Museum of Scottish Antiquaries,                 578

  155.  Chess-Piece, Queen, Penicuick Collection,                    579

  156.  Ancient Seal, Abbey of Holyrood,                             582

  157.  Doorway, Round Tower of Donaghmore,                          587

  158.  St. Magnus's Church, Egilshay,                               590

  159.  Doorway, Round Tower of Brechin,                             596

  160.  Abbot Crawfurd's Arms, Holyrood Abbey,                       611

  161.  Section of Arch Mouldings, St. Rule's Church, St. Andrews,   612

  162.  Section of Pier, St. Rule's,                                 612

  163.  Chancel Arch, St. Rule's,                                    613

  164.  Window, Corstorphine,                                        622

  165.  Corbel, Trinity Church, Edinburgh,                           624

  166.  Chantry Door, Bothwell Collegiate Church,                    627

  167.  Window, Dunkeld Cathedral,                                   628

  168.  Window, St. Michael's, Linlithgow,                           628

  169.  Bishop Kennedy's Arms, St. Giles's, Edinburgh,               629

  170.  Boss of St. Eloi's Chapel, St. Giles's,                      631

  171.  Rothesay Chapel, St. Giles's,                                632

  172.  Ambry, Kennedy's Close,                                      637

  173.  Ambry, Guise Palace,                                         637

  174.  Monogram, Blyth's Close,                                     638

  175.  Masons' Marks, Roslin Chapel,                                640


  177.  Bell of St. Columba,                                         654

  178.  Clog Beanuighte, or Blessed Bell,                            656

  179.  Perthshire Bell,                                             658

  180.  Clog-rinny, or Bell of St. Ninian,                           660

  181.  Quigrich, or Crosier of St. Fillan,                          664

  182.  Ancient Episcopal Crosier, Fortrose Cathedral,               666

  183.  Oaken Crosier, Cathedral of Kirkwall,                        667

  184.  Mazer, Castle of Merdon, near Hursly,                        672

  185.  Mazer of the Fourteenth Century,                             673

  186.  Gold Ring, Flodden Field,                                    677

  187.  Medieval Pottery, North-Berwick Abbey, East-Lothian,         678

  188.  Pottery, Penicuick House,                                    679

  189.  Celtic or Elfin Pipes,                                       679

  190.  Ancient Stone Tobacco Pipe, Morningside,                     681

  191.  Two-handed Scottish Claymore,                                682

  192.  Hawthornden Sword,                                           683

  193.  Scottish Two-Handed Sword,                                   684

  194.  Battle-Axe, Bannockburn,                                     685

  195.  Lochaber Axes,                                               686

  196.  Sculpture, Edinburgh Castle, Mons Meg,                       686

  197.  The Scottish Maiden,                                         689

  198.  Thumb-Screws,                                                690

  199.  Jougs, Applegirth,                                           691

  200.  The Branks, Moray House,                                     693

  201.  Witch's Bridle, Forfar,                                      693


The zeal for Archæological investigation which has recently manifested
itself in nearly every country of Europe, has been traced, not without
reason, to the impulse which proceeded from Abbotsford. Though such
is not exactly the source which we might expect to give birth to the
transition from profitless dilettantism to the intelligent spirit of
scientific investigation, yet it is unquestionable that Sir Walter
Scott was the first of modern writers "to teach all men this truth,
which looks like a truism, and yet was as good as unknown to writers
of history and others, till so taught,--that the bygone ages of the
world were actually filled by living men."[1] If, however, the impulse
to the pursuit of Archæology as a science be thus traceable to our own
country, neither Scotland nor England can lay claim to the merit of
having been the first to recognise its true character, or to develop
its fruits. The spirit of antiquarianism has not, indeed, slumbered
among us. It has taken form in Roxburgh, Bannatyne, Abbotsford,
and other literary Clubs, producing valuable results for the use
of the historian, but limiting its range within the Medieval era,
and abandoning to isolated labourers that ampler field of research
which embraces the prehistoric period of nations, and belongs not to
literature but to the science of Nature. It was not till continental
Archæologists had shewn what legitimate induction is capable of, that
those of Britain were content to forsake laborious trifling, and
associate themselves with renewed energy of purpose to establish the
study on its true footing as an indispensable link in the circle of the

Amid the increasing zeal for the advancement of knowledge, the time
appears to have at length come for the thorough elucidation of
Primeval Archæology as an element in the history of man. The British
Association, expressly constituted for the purpose of giving a stronger
impulse and a more systematic direction to scientific inquiry, embraced
within its original scheme no provision for the encouragement of
those investigations which most directly tend to throw light on the
origin and progress of the human race. Physical archæology was indeed
admissible, in so far as it dealt with the extinct fauna of the
palæontologist; but it was practically pronounced to be without the
scientific pale whenever it touched on that portion of the archæology
of the globe which comprehends the history of the race of human beings
to which we ourselves belong. A delusive hope was indeed raised
by the publication in the first volume of the Transactions of the
Association, of one memoir on the contributions afforded by physical
and philological researches to the history of the human species,--but
the ethnologist was doomed to disappointment. During several annual
meetings, elaborate and valuable memoirs, prepared on various questions
relating to this important branch of knowledge, and to the primeval
population of the British Isles, were returned to their authors without
being read. This pregnant fact has excited little notice hitherto;
but when the scientific history of the first half of the nineteenth
century shall come to be reviewed by those who succeed us, and reap the
fruits of such advancement as we now aim at, it will not be overlooked
as an evidence of the exoteric character of much of the overestimated
science of the age. Through the persevering zeal of a few resolute men
of distinguished ability, ethnology was at length afforded a partial
footing among the recognised sciences, and at the meeting of the
Association to be held at Ipswich in 1851, it will for the first time
take its place as a distinct section of British Science.

It has fared otherwise with Archæology. Rejected in its first appeal
for a place among the sister sciences, its promoters felt themselves
under no necessity to court a share in popular favour which they
could readily command, and we have accordingly its annual congresses
altogether apart from those of the associated sciences. Archæology,
however, has suffered from the isolation; while it cannot but be
sooner or later felt to be an inconsistency at once anomalous and
pregnant with evil, which recognises as a legitimate branch of British
science, the study of the human species, by means both of physiological
and philological investigation, but altogether excludes the equally
direct evidence which Archæology supplies. It rests, however, with
the archæologist to assert for his own study its just place among the
essential elements of scientific induction, and to shew that it not
only furnishes valuable auxiliary truth in aid of physiological and
philological comparisons, but that it adds distinct psychological
indices by no other means attainable, and yields the most trustworthy,
if not the sole evidence in relation to extinct branches of the human
family, the history of which possesses a peculiar national and personal
interest for us.

Meanwhile the close relations which subsist between the researches
of the ethnologist and the archæologist, and the perfect unity of
their aims, have been recognised by Nillson, Eschricht, and other
distinguished men in various countries; and while the two sciences
have advanced together, in harmony and with mutual advantage,
Scandinavian archæologists have given an impetus to the study of
Primitive Antiquities, which has already done much to establish
its value as the indispensable basis of all written history. The
facilities afforded to the Scandinavian archæologist by the purity of
his primitive remains, and the freedom of his ethnographic chronicles
from those violent intercalations of foreign elements which render
both the ethnology and the historical antiquities of Central Europe
so complicated and difficult of solution, peculiarly fitted him for
originating a comprehensive yet well-defined system. The comparatively
recent close of the Scandinavian primitive periods has preserved in a
more complete form those evidences by which we recover the knowledge
of the first rude colonists of Europe, whose records are distorted
and nearly effaced within the wide pale of Roman sway. The isolation,
moreover, of these northern kingdoms preserved them from being the
mere highway of the first Asiatic nomades. Whatever traces of early
wanderers they retain are well-defined, so that to them we may look
for clear and satisfactory evidence in illustration of one portion
at least of the primal north-western tide of migration from which
the origin of all European history dates. It chances, however, from
various accidental causes, that the revival of archæological research
in Britain, influenced by canons directly supplied from Scandinavian
sources, has a tendency to authenticate some of the most favourite
errors of older British antiquaries. Based, as nearly all antiquarian
pursuits in this country have heretofore been, on classical learning,
it has been accepted as an almost indisputable truth, that, with the
exception of the mysteriously learned Druid priests, the Britons prior
to the Roman Period were mere painted savages. Hence, while the artless
relics of our primeval Stone Period were generally assigned to native
workmanship, whatever evinced any remarkable traces of skill distinct
from the well-defined Roman art, was assumed of necessity to have a
foreign origin, and was usually ascribed to the Danes. The invariable
adoption of the latter term in preference to that of Norwegians or
Norsemen, shews how completely Scottish and Irish antiquaries have
abandoned themselves to the influence of English literature, even
where the appropriation of its dogmas was opposed to well-known
historical facts. The name of Dane has in fact for centuries been
one of those convenient words which so often take the place of ideas
and save the trouble and inconvenience of reasoning. Yet this theory
of a Danish origin for nearly all native arts, though adopted without
investigation, and fostered in defiance of evidence, has long ceased
to be a mere popular error. It pervades both the Scottish and English
Archæologiæ, and the great majority of works on every department
of British antiquities, and has till recently proved a perpetual
stumblingblock to the Irish antiquary. It is, moreover, a cumulative
error,--certain Scottish relics, for example, found in Argyleshire, as
well as others in the Isle of Man, being assumed in the Archæologia
Scotica to be Scandinavian,[2] an able writer in the Transactions of
the Cambridge Camden Society, taking these assumptions as indisputable
facts, employs them in proving that other equally undoubted native
works of art are also Scandinavian.[3] So, too, a writer in the
Archæologia Scotica, ascribing a similar origin to the monolithic
structures of the Orkney and Shetland Islands,[4] is quoted by Danish
antiquaries[5] as referring to an established truth, and as proving,
accordingly, that similar structures in the Hebrides are also the work
of the Northmen! Pennant, Chalmers, Barry, Macculloch, Scott, Hibbert,
and a host of other writers might be quoted to shew how this theory,
like a snow-ball, gathers as it rolls, taking up indiscriminately
whatever chances to lie in its erratic course. Even the poets have
lent their aid to propagate the same prevalent error. Cowper, for
example,--no uneducated or superficial writer,--thus strangely
postdates Britain's birth-time:--

    "Now borne upon the wings of truth sublime,
    Review thy dim original and prime,--
    This island, spot of unreclaimed rude earth,
    The cradle that received thee at thy birth,
    Was rocked by many a rough Norwegian blast,
    And Danish howlings scared thee as they past."[6]

Similar examples of the influence of this predominant theory might be
multiplied from the most diverse sources; nor are even the recently
established archæological periodicals free from it. It is obvious,
therefore, that such opinions must be sifted to the utmost, and either
established or got rid of before any efficient progress can be made in
British Archæology. In Scotland this theory is much more comprehensive
in its effects than in England, where the Anglo-Saxon element is
recognised as the predominating source of later changes; and now
that the character of genuine Roman antiquities is well ascertained,
nearly the whole of our native relics have latterly been assigned to a
Scandinavian origin. It is altogether unnecessary, I trust, to disclaim
any petty spirit of national jealousy in the rigorous investigation of
such theories which will be found pursued in the following pages. The
error is for the most part of native growth; but whencesoever it be
derived, truth is the end which the archæologist has in view; and the
enlightened spirit in which the researches of the Northern antiquaries
have already been pursued, is the best guarantee that they will not
be less ready to co-operate in overturning error than in establishing
truth. It is not a mere question between Northman or Dane and Celt or
Saxon. It involves the entire chronology of the prehistoric British
periods, and so long as it remains unsettled any consistent arrangement
of our archæological data into a historical sequence is impossible.

The following work, embracing within its plan such a comprehensive
scheme of Scottish Archæology as has not been hitherto attempted, has
been undertaken under the conviction that this science is the key to
great truths which have yet to be reached, and that its importance will
hereafter be recognised in a way little dreamt of by those students
of kindred sciences, who, while busied in investigating the traces
of older but inferior orders of being, can discern only the objects
of an aimless curiosity in relics pertaining to the human species.
That such, however, should still be the case, is far more the fault
of the antiquary than of the student of other sciences. It is his
misfortune that his most recondite pursuits are peculiarly exposed to
the laborious idling of the mere dabblers in science, so that they
alternately assume to the uninterested observer the aspect of frivolous
pastime and of solemn trifling. I cannot but think that a direct union
with the associated sciences, and an incorporation especially with
the kindred researches of the ethnologist, while it might, perchance,
give some of its present admirers a distaste for the severer and more
restricted study, would largely contribute to its real advancement,
and free its truly zealous students from many popular trammels which
at present cumber its progress. Meanwhile the archæologist may derive
some hope from the remembrance that astronomy was once astrology; that
chemistry was long mere alchemy; that geology has only in our own day
ceased to be a branch of unreasoning antiquarianism; and that ethnology
has scarcely yet passed the jealously guarded porch, as the youngest of
all the recognised band of sister sciences.

In nothing is the want of the intelligent cooperation of the kindred
sciences which bear on the study of antiquities more apparent
than in the present state of our public collections. The British
Museum contains the elements of a collection which, if arranged
ethnographically and chronologically, would form the most valuable
school of popular instruction that Government could establish; and no
other country rests under the same manifest duty to form a complete
ethnological museum as Britain: with her hundred colonies, and her
tribes of subject aborigines in every quarter of the globe, losing
their individuality where they escape extinction, by absorption and
assimilation to their European masters. Were an entire quadrangular
range of apartments in the British Museum devoted to a continuous
systematic arrangement, the visitor should pass from the ethnographic
rooms, shewing man as he is still found in the primitive savage state,
and destitute of the metallurgic arts; thence to the relics of the
Stone Period, not of Britain or Europe only; but also of Asia, Africa,
and America, including the remarkable primitive traces which even
Egypt discloses. To this would then fitly succeed the old monuments of
Egyptian civilisation, the Nimrud marbles, the sculptures of India, and
all the other evidences of early Asiatic arts. The Archaic Greek and
Colonial works should come after these, followed by the master-pieces
of the age of Pericles, and these again by the monuments of imperial
Rome. Thus by a natural sequence we return to British remains: the
Anglo-Roman relics piecing on like a new chapter of European history,
at the point where our island first appears as a part of the old
Roman world, and followed in succession by our native Anglo-Saxon,
Scandinavian, Norman, and Medieval antiquities. The materials for all
this, if we except the primitive British relics, are already acquired;
and while to the thousands who annually throng the Museum, in idle
and profitless wonder, this would at once convert into intelligible
history, what must now be to the vast majority of visitors a confused
assortment of nearly meaningless relics, even the most profound scholar
might derive from it information and pleasure, such as would amply
repay the labour of re-arrangement. The immense practical value of
collections to the archæologist renders their proper arrangement a
matter of grave importance, and one which cannot be allowed to rest in
its present extremely imperfect state.[7]

In Scotland no national collection exists, though a small body of
zealous men have struggled to maintain an Archæological Museum in the
Scottish capital for the last seventy years, in defiance of obstacles
of the most harassing nature. Not the least of these is the enforcement
of the law of treasure-trove, by which all objects of the precious
metals are held to be the property of the Crown. Notwithstanding the
earnest zeal for the preservation of national relics which has actuated
both Sir Henry Jardine and John Henderson, Esq., the late and present
Crown and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancers for Scotland, and the liberal
construction of the law by its administrators, as shewn in their offer
of full value for all objects of the precious metals which may be
delivered up to them, its operation has constantly impeded researches
into the evidences of primitive art, and in many cases has occasioned
the destruction of very valuable relics.

In a letter on this subject with which I have been favoured by the
distinguished Danish antiquary, Mr. J. J. A. Worsaae, he remarks: "In
Denmark, in former times, all hidden treasures, when found, belonged to
the king. They were called _Danefa_. The finder had to give them up to
the Crown without any remuneration. The effect of this was that very
few or no antiquities of gold or silver were preserved for the Museum,
[of Northern Antiquities at Copenhagen,] as the finders secretly sold
the antiquities. For the purpose of putting an end to this, a law
was passed in the middle of last century, in which the king declared
himself willing to give the full value to the finders, and in some
cases still more than the value; but, at the same time, he ordered
all such things to be given up to the public museums, and in case of
concealment the finders were to be tried and punished.

"This law is still in operation. It is the rule that _the finder_,
in the strictest sense of the word, gets the remuneration, as the
king--the real owner--has renounced his rights to him. The owner of
the soil only gets the value if he has ordered a servant expressly to
dig for any such thing, or, of course, if he is the finder himself.
This has proved most effective. Another measure which has secured a
good many objects for the Museum is the payment of the finder _as soon
as possible_. Poor people, as the finders generally are, do not like to
wait for money. They get easily anxious, and prefer to sell the things
for a smaller price, if they only get the money without delay. It has
now come to this here, that very few antiquities of gold or silver
are lost. The peasants and workmen are perfectly well aware that they
get more for the things dug up, at the Museum in Copenhagen, than in
the shop of a goldsmith. This has been effected by publication in the
almanacs, newspapers, &c., of the payments given to finders of valuable

Some of the wretched fruits of the different system still pursued in
this country are referred to in the following pages;[8] yet with the
earnest desire of the officers of the Scottish Exchequer, to whom the
enforcement of the present law is committed, to avert, if possible,
the destructive consequences which it has heretofore operated to
produce, it is manifest that nothing more is needed than to adopt the
essential practical feature in the Danish plan, which gives the actual
finder the sole claim to reward, and also holds him responsible and
liable to punishment. Until this indispensable change is effected, the
Scottish archæologist must continue to deplore the annual destruction
of national treasures, not less valuable to the historian than the
chartularies which are being rescued with so much labour and cost from
their long-neglected repositories.

In attempting to arrange the elements of a system of Scottish
Archæology, as a means towards the elucidation of prehistoric annals,
I have had frequently to regret the want of any national collection
adequate to the object in view. That the Museum of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland is one of considerable value must I think be
apparent, even from the materials it has furnished for this volume.
Some private collections, it will be seen, add a few more to the
rescued waifs of Scottish national antiquities; but the result of an
extensive correspondence carried on with a view to obtain the necessary
facts which no books at present supply, has forced on me the conviction
that, even within the last dozen years, such a number of valuable
objects have been destroyed as would alone have formed an important
nucleus for a complete Archæological Museum. The new Statistical
Accounts, along with some periodicals and other recently published
works, contain references to discoveries made within that period in
nearly every district of Scotland. From these I selected upwards of two
hundred of the most interesting and valuable examples, and the result
of a laborious correspondence is, the establishment of the fact that
scarcely five per cent. of the whole can now be ascertained to be in
existence. Some have been lost or broken; some thrown away, sold, or
stolen,--which in the case of objects of the precious metals involves
their absolute destruction; in other cases, the proprietors themselves
have disappeared--gone to India, America, Australia, or no one knows
where. Of the few that remain, the jealous fear which the operation
of the present law of treasure-trove excites has rendered a portion
inaccessible, so that a sufficiently meagre handful of so prominent a
harvest was left to be reaped.

When it is considered that in Scotland we have no such treasuries
of the facts on which an archæological system must be built, as the
Archæologia, the Vetusta Monumenta, the Nenia Britannica, the Ancient
Wiltshire, and a host of other works supply to the English antiquary,
I have a right to expect that some forbearance be shewn in contrasting
this first attempt at a comprehensive treatment of the subject, with
the works which other countries possess. I do not desire to offer it
to the reader with an apology, or to seek to deprecate criticism by
setting forth in array a host of difficulties surmounted or succumbed
to. It has been the work of such leisure time as could be snatched from
less congenial but engrossing pursuits, and will probably be found to
contain some recurrence to the same ideas, to which a writer is liable
when only able to take up his theme at intervals, and to pursue it amid
repeated interruptions. Nevertheless, I have aimed at treating the
subject as one which I esteem a worthy one ought to be treated, and if
unsuccessful, it is not for want of the zeal which earnest enthusiasm
commands. Some new ground I believe has been broken in the search after
truth, and as a pioneer I am fully prepared to see my footsteps erased
by those who follow me. It will be found, however, that truth is the
goal which has been aimed at; and if it be but as a glimmering that
light appears, it is well, so that its streaks are in the east, and the
clouds which begin to break make way before the dawn.

It only remains for me to acknowledge some of the many favours received
in the progress of the Work; though it is impossible to mention
all to whose liberality I have been indebted during the extensive
correspondence into which I was led while collecting needful materials
for substantiating the positions assumed in the following argument. The
want of such resources as in other countries supply to the Archæologist
the means of constructing a system based on trustworthy evidence, has
compelled me to draw largely on the courtesy of private collectors;
and with very few exceptions, the cordial response returned to my
applications has rendered the otherwise irksome task a source of
pleasure, and even in some cases the beginning of valued friendships.

The Council of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland have afforded the
utmost facilities in regard to their important national collection,
and have accorded to me an equal freedom in the use of the extensive
correspondence preserved in their Library, from which it will be
found that some curious information has been recovered, not otherwise
attainable. From my fellow Associates in the Society I have also
received the most hearty sympathy and cooperation. To the kind services
of Sir James Ramsay, Bart., I am indebted for obtaining from Lady
Menzies one of the beautiful gold relics figured in the work. To my
friend Professor J. Y. Simpson, M.D., I owe the contribution of one of
the illustrations, and to Albert Way, Esq., and George Seton, Esq.,
others of the woodcuts, presented to me as the expression of their
interest in my labours; while I have to thank my friend James Drummond,
Esq., A.R.S.A., for drawings from his faithful pencil of several of
the examples of ancient Scottish arms, as well as of other relics
figured in the work. The many obligations I owe to the freedom with
which Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Esq., has long permitted me to avail
myself of the treasures of his extensive collection, will appear in
some degree from the use made of them in the following pages; while
John Bell, Esq. of Dungannon, has obviated the difficulties which would
have prevented my turning his no less valuable archæological treasures
to account, by forwarding to me drawings and descriptions, from which
some portions of this work derive their chief interest. Others of the
objects selected for illustration are from the collection of W. B.
Johnstone, Esq., R.S.A., the whole rare and costly contents of which
have been placed completely at my disposal.

Nor must I omit to acknowledge the kind assistance I have received in
various ways from David Laing, Esq., William B. D. D. Turnbull, Esq.,
W. H. Fotheringham, Esq., the Rev., James Mather, J. M. Mitchell, Esq.,
William Marshall, Esq., as well as from other Fellows of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland.

The Council of the Archæological Institute, with a liberality
altogether spontaneous, offered, in the most gratifying and flattering
terms of cordial sympathy with the object of my work, the beautiful
series of engravings of the Norrie's Law silver relics, which
illustrate the account of that remarkable discovery.

The Council of the British Archæological Association have placed me
under similar obligations in regard to the woodcuts which illustrate
the sepulchral discoveries at Pier-o-waal in Orkney.

To Sir George Clerk, Bart., I owe the privilege of access to the
valuable and highly interesting collection of British and Roman
antiquities at Penicuick House, formed by the eminent Scottish
antiquary Sir John Clerk.

The very great obligations I am under to Lieutenant F. W. L. Thomas,
R.N., are repeatedly noticed in the following pages, though in no
degree adequately to the generosity with which the knowledge acquired
by him during his professional exploration of the Orkney Islands, while
engaged in the Admiralty Survey, has been placed at my disposal.

I have also to acknowledge the contribution of valuable information
from my friend Professor Munch of Christiania, and from George Petrie,
Esq. of Kirkwall; as well as kind services rendered me in various ways
by Charles Roach Smith, Esq., J. C. Brown, Esq., William Nelson, Esq.,
by my indefatigable friend and correspondent, John Buchanan, Esq. of
Glasgow, and others referred to in the course of the work.

My special thanks are due to Robert Hunter, of Hunterston, Esq., for
his courteous liberality in forwarding to me the valuable Scottish
relic found on his estate--engraved as the frontispiece to this
volume--after I had despaired of making anything of its remarkable
Runic inscription from various copies obligingly furnished. Whatever
opinion may be formed as to the value of the interpretation of its
inscription offered here, the archæologist and philologist may both
place the utmost reliance on the fidelity of the engraved fac-simile
of this interesting monument of the palæography, and, as I believe
also, of the language of our ancestors. Besides putting into the
engraver's hands a carefully executed drawing, he had the advantage
of having the brooch itself before him while engraving it; after
which I went over the copy in his presence, comparing it letter by
letter, and checking the minutest deviations from the original. It
is justly remarked in the "Guide to Northern Archæology," that "in
copying Runic inscriptions great accuracy is required; for a point,
a small, scarcely perceptible line, changes the value of the letter,
or occasionally adds a letter, which may easily escape notice." When,
however, it is added that "one of the best helps in copying Runic,
and indeed all other inscriptions, is a knowledge of the language in
which they are written," I am inclined to question its strict justice.
Most authors, I believe, who have had any experience of the matter,
would much prefer a compositor entirely ignorant of the language for
setting up Latin, or any foreign tongue, at least to one short of being
a perfect master of it. Where there is the total absence of knowledge
of it, the imagination is entirely at rest; and the patient copying
of letter after letter ensures the accuracy which often surprises the
young author when revising his first proofs. Even so I would, in most
cases, place more faith in the version of an inscription by an engraver
accustomed to accurate copying, though entirely ignorant of the
language, than in that of the ablest philologist, with his head full
of speculations as to its meaning. A direct example in point is found
in the Cardonell or "Thorkelin" print of the Ruthwell inscriptions,
where the Scottish antiquary has given a more faithful version of
the Runic than of the Latin legends. Notwithstanding the extravagant
flights which Professor Finn Magnusen permitted his imagination to take
relative to the supposed personages named on the Hunterston brooch,
little blame can attach to him for having missed its true meaning
with nothing but imperfect copies to guide him; but the fact that
this inscription should have been copied from the original brooch by
two Scandinavian scholars familiar with the Runic alphabet, without
either of them detecting the name _Maolfridi_, so palpably engraved on
it, proves how completely, though unconsciously, they were blinded
by their knowledge of the old Norse language, and their belief that
it must contain the word _Dalkr_, a brooch. The recognition, indeed,
of this proper name proved to me the key to the whole inscription,
as it immediately suggested the probability of the ᛚᚴ of former
translators in the first line being also an ᛉ, and so led to a new
and intelligible reading of the remainder. The word _dìol_, which I
have rendered according to its significance as a substantive, is also
employed as the verb _to avenge_. One Gaelic scholar to whom I shewed
the inscription, accordingly suggested as a more characteristic old
Celtic interpretation of the Runes: _O Malbritha, thou friend, avenge
Malfridi!_ "The difference," he adds, "between the ancient and modern
orthography is not greater than frequently exists between the present
spelling of familiar terms, as written or pronounced in two contiguous
Highland districts."

It is a customary conclusion to a preface to crave the forbearance of
the reader for all faults and shortcomings: the which, as readers and
critics make an equally general custom of paying no attention to it,
may as well be omitted. I can only say, that while writing this work
with an honest and earnest desire for the discovery of truth, I have
done it no less under the conviction that anything I could now set
forth on the subject must be modified by more extended observations,
and superseded, ere long, by works of a more complete character.

  EDINBURGH, _January 1851_.

    Lightward aspire: nor think the utmost height
    Of an attainable success is won;
    Nor even that the mighty spirits, gone
    With the bright past, in their enduring flight
    So won their passage toward the infinite,
    That they may stand on their far heights alone,
    A distant glory, dazzling to the sight,
    In which all hope of mastery is o'erthrown.
    No height of daring is so high, but higher
    The earnest soul may yet find grace to climb;
    Truth springeth out of truth; the loftiest flyer,
    That soareth on the sweep of thought sublime,
    Resteth at length; and still beyond doth guess
    Truth infinite as God toward which to press.



    "Large are the treasures of oblivion. Much more is buried in
    silence than recorded; and the largest volumes are but epitomes
    of what hath been. The account of Time began with night, and
    darkness still attendeth it."--SIR THOMAS BROWNE.

History which is derived from written materials must necessarily
begin only where civilisation has advanced to so ripe a state, that
the songs of the bard, and the traditions of the priest, have ceased
to satisfy the cravings of the human mind for mastery over the past
and the future. It has been too generally assumed that history is an
inconceivable thing independent of written materials. Historians have
accordingly, with a transient and incredulous glance at the fabulous
infancy of nations, been too frequently content to leave their annals
imperfect and maimed of those chapters that should record the deeply
interesting story of their origin and rise. This mode of dealing with
history is happily no longer sanctioned by the example of the ablest of
its modern investigators. They are at length learning to analyze the
myths which their predecessors rejected; and the results have already
rewarded their toil, though much still remains obscure, or utterly

Gifted with an inspired pen, Moses has recorded in briefest words the
story of the world's infancy: that, therefore, is rendered independent
of myth or fable. But quitting that single illuminated spot, how shall
the investigator recover the annals of our race during the dubious
interval between the era of the dispersion of the human family and
the earliest contribution of written materials? Job, we know, was no
Hebrew, but a man of Uz, in the land to which Edom succeeded. Could we
fix his era, it would be of interest; for we know that he lived in a
literate age; and his desire against his adversary was, _that he had
written a Book_! But Biblical students are disagreed as to this epoch.
A recent German critic brings it down to the period of the Exodus,
while the great majority of commentators have heretofore placed it some
700 years nearer Creation. We must, meanwhile, be content to receive
this as one pregnant scene of primitive social life incorporated into
the Book of Books, while all the rest are swallowed up with the old
centuries to which they belonged. It has to be intercalated as best may
be, into its place in the first chapters of human history, ere we grope
our way onward or backward, seeking amid the darkness for that historic
oasis--the first establishment of the human race on the banks of the

Wilkinson places the era of Menes, the founder of Egyptian monarchy,
and probably one of the earliest wanderers from the eastern cradle of
our race, some 2200 years B.C. Bunsen, aiming, in his "Ægyptens Stelle
in der Weltgeschichte," at fixing the exact year, assigns that of 3643
B.C., or, in other words, 1295 years before the commonly accepted era
of the Deluge. Yet even this has not satisfied all the requisites of
newly discovered data. Fleury, in his "L'Egypte Pharaonique," carries
back the Menean age some 1600 years farther into the past; and Böckh,
following out an independent series of investigations, fixes the same
era, in his "Manetho und die Hundssternperiode," for the year B.C.
5702. The world's early historic chronology, it is now universally
admitted, has been misinterpreted. The last date is just 1698 years
before the creation of the world, if we are still implicitly to accept
Archbishop Usher for our guide. But even this it is possible may yet be
revised, as too scanty for the events which it must comprehend; unless,
following the example of one distinguished archæologist, Mr. S. Sharpe,
we consign all Egyptian history prior to the era of Osirtesen I. to the
same order of fabulous or mythic inventions as the crude traditions
of our own chroniclers, and esteem Menes as no more than the classic
Saturnus, or the Scandinavian Odin. It is not our province here to do
more than indicate the fact, that all early chronology is liable to
correction by the contributions of new truths, its most accredited data
being at best only approximations to the desired end. "Oblivion is not
to be hired. The greater part must be content to be as though they
had not been: to be found in the register of God, not in the records
of men. Twenty-seven names make up the first story before the Flood,
and the recorded names ever since contain not one living century. The
number of the dead long exceedeth all that shall live. The night of
time far surpasseth the day; and who knows when was the Equinox?"[9]

Similar necessities and difficulties meet us when we would investigate
the beginnings of younger nations. The oldest intelligible inscription
known in Scotland is that graven in Anglo-Saxon Runes on the Ruthwell
Cross, Dumfriesshire, and dating not earlier than the ninth century.
The oldest written historic documents are probably the charters of
Duncan, engrossed about the year 1035, and still preserved among the
muniments of Durham Cathedral. Prior to these the Romans furnish some
few scanty notes concerning the barbarian Picti. The Irish annalists
contribute brief but valuable additions. The northern sagas, it is
now certain, contain a still richer store of early historic notes,
which the antiquaries of Copenhagen are busily digesting for us into
available materials. Yet, after all these are ransacked, what shall
we make of the long era which intervenes between the dispersion of
the human family and the peopling of the British Isles? When did the
first rude prow touch our shores?--who were its daring crew? Whence did
language, manners, nationality, civilisation, and letters spring? All
these are questions of the deepest interest; but on nearly all of them
history is as silent as on the annals of Chaos. With reverential piety,
or with restless inquisitiveness, we seek to know somewhat of the
rude forefathers of our island race. Nor need we despair of unveiling
somewhat of the mystery of their remote era, though no undeciphered
hieroglyphics, nor written materials, preserve one solitary record of
the MENES of the British Isles.

Human intelligence and research have already accomplished so much, that
ignorance alone can presume to resign any past event to utter oblivion.
Between "_the Beginning_," spoken of in the first verse of the Book
called Genesis, and the creation of man, the most humble and devout of
Biblical students now acknowledge the intervention of ages, compared to
which the whole era of our race is but as the progression of the shadow
one degree on the dial of time. Our whole written materials concerning
all these ages are comprehended in the few introductory words of the
Mosaic narrative, and for well-nigh 6000 years no more was known. But
all the while their history lay in legible characters around these
generations who heeded them not, or read them wrong. At length this
history is being deciphered. The geologist has mastered the characters,
and page after page of the old interleaved annals of preadamite
existence are being reduced to our _enchorial text_--to the writing
of the people. The dislocated strata are being paged, as it were, and
re-arranged in their primary order. The palimpsests are being noted,
and their double readings transferred to their correct places in the
revised history. The whole accumulations of these ages between Chaos
and man are, in fact, being dealt with by modern science much in the
same way as the bibliographer treats some monkish or collegiate library
suddenly rescued from the dust and confusion of centuries.

Returning to the same book of Moses, called Genesis, we find in it
another record of things since the Beginning, thus noted in a passing
parenthesis of the sacred narrative: "And God made the stars also."
Very brief words; yet these are all our written materials about worlds
and suns so filling the azure vault, that the astronomer, scarcely
conscious of using figurative language, speaks of nebulous spaces as
_powdered with stars_. Science has added somewhat to our knowledge of
these also, without written annals. The Chaldean shepherds, who had
never travelled beyond the central plain of Asia, where we recognise
the cradle-land of the human race, began the work of unriddling these
mysterious records. Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Kepler, added largely,
with unassisted vision, to the accumulated observations of astronomy.
Galileo supplied a new key that unlocked many secret stores. Huygens,
Newton, Herschel, Dollond, Lord Rosse, have each given us others
wherewith many more are being opened. Astronomy and geology have both
accomplished much, and have yet to accomplish far more ere their
scattered leaves can be bound up, or their thousand lacunæ filled in.
Nevertheless, histories, it seems, may be based on other than written
materials--may, indeed, be all the more sure and incontrovertible
because their evidence is traceable to no such doubtful records.

It is in curious consistency with human nature that we find the order
of its investigations in the inverse ratio of their relation to itself.
In the infancy of our race men studied the stars, bringing to the aid
of their human sympathies the fancies of the astrologer to fill the
void which Astronomy could not satisfy. The earth had grown older, and
its patriarchal age was long past, when Cosmogony and Geology had their
rise. Now at length when the studies of many generations have furnished
materials for Astronomy, and the history of the earth's crust is being
patiently unravelled by numerous independent labourers, some students
of the past have inquired if the annals of our own race may not also be
recoverable. Men with zeal no less earnest than that which has done so
much for Astronomy and Geology, have found that this also lay around
the older generations, recorded in characters no less intelligible, and
containing the history of beings no less interesting to us than the
Saurians or Mammoths, to whose inheritance we have succeeded. Bacon has
remarked, in treating of the vicissitudes of things,[10] "The great
winding-sheets that bury all things in oblivion, are two--deluges
and earthquakes." But the weft of our historic winding-sheet is of a
feebler texture, and its unnoted folds envelop an ampler oblivion,
which also will yield secrets worth the knowing. Not a day passes
that some fact is not stored in that strange treasury, some of them
wittingly, but far more unwittingly, as the chronicles of man. To
decipher these and to apply them as the elements of a new historic
chronometry, are the legitimate ends of Archæology.

Slowly and grudgingly is its true position conceded to the study of the
archæologist. The world has had its laugh at him, not always without
reason. The antiquary, indeed, in our own day, has taken the first of
the laugh himself, feeling that it was not unmerited, so long as he
was the mere gatherer of shreds from the tattered and waste leaves
of the past. Now, however, when these same shreds are being pieced
together and read anew, it is found that they well repay the labours
both of collector and decipherer. But Archæology is yet in its infancy.
Little more has been done for it than to accumulate and classify a few
isolated facts. We are indeed only learning the meaning of the several
characters in which its records are engrossed.

The history of one of the oldest and most faithfully studied branches
of the science, may afford an example, as well as encouraging
assurance, for the whole. In 1636 the learned Jesuit, Father Kirchner,
published his "Œdipus Ægyptiacus," a ponderous treatise on Egyptian
hieroglyphics, completed in six folios, containing abundance of
learning, and no lack of confident assurance, but never a word of truth
in the whole. It is a fair specimen of the labours of hieroglyphic
students down to the year 1799, when M. Bouchard, a French officer of
Engineers, in digging the foundation of Fort St. Julien, on the western
bank of the Nile, between Rosetta and the sea, discovered a mutilated
block of black basalt, containing three versions of one inscription
graven in the year B.C. 196, or 1995 years prior to its discovery.
Inscribed in this late era of hieroglyphic literature, Epiphanes, whose
accession it records, had decreed it to be graven not only in the
hieroglyphic or sacred characters, but also in the enchorial or popular
Egyptian writing, and in the Greek character and language. Here then
seemed to be the long-coveted key to the mysterious records of Egypt.
Casts of it were taken, fac-similes engraved and distributed throughout
Europe; and expectation, roused to the utmost pitch of excitement,
paused for a reply. But eighteen years elapsed before Dr. Thomas Young,
one of the greatest scholars of his age, mastered the riddle of the
key, established beyond doubt the alphabetic use of hieroglyphics, and
demonstrated the phonetic value of five of its characters. It seems,
perhaps, a small result for so long a period of study, during which the
attention of many of the first scholars of Europe had been directed to
the critical investigation of the inscriptions of the Rosetta stone,
and the comparison of their diverse characters. Nevertheless it was
the insertion of the point of the wedge. All that followed was easy in
comparison with it. What has since been accomplished by the scholars
of Europe in this old field of archæological investigation, where they
dealt with written though unread materials, is now being attempted for
the whole compass of its legitimate operations by a similar union of
learning and zeal, and Archæology at length claims its just rank among
the inductive sciences.

The visitor to the British Museum passes through galleries containing
fossil relics of the secondary and tertiary geological periods--the
gigantic evidences of former life, the tropical fauna of the
carboniferous system, and all the organic and inorganic proofs by which
we are guided in investigating the physical changes, and classifying
the extinct beings, that pertained to the older world of which they
speak. Thence he proceeds to galleries filled with the inscribed
sarcophagi and obelisks, the votive tablets, the sculptured altars,
deities, or historic decorations of Assyria, Egypt, India, Greece, and
Rome, relics which belong no less to extinct, though newer systems and
orders of being. "The antiquities," says an eminent geologist, when
instituting a nearly similar comparison, "piece on in natural sequence
to the geology; and it seems but rational to indulge in the same sort
of reasonings regarding them. They are the fossils of an extinct order
of things newer than the tertiary; of an extinct race, of an extinct
religion, of a state of society and a class of enterprises which the
world saw once, but which it will never see again; and with but little
assistance from the direct testimony of history, one has to grope one's
way along this comparatively modern formation, guided chiefly, as in
the more ancient deposits, by the clue of circumstantial evidence."[11]
Such are the reflections of an intelligent geologist, suggested by a
similar combination of geological and historic relics to that which
offers itself to the visitor of our great National Museum. But it is
even in a more absolute sense than the geologist dreams of that the
antiquities piece on to the geology, and show the researches of the
archæologist to follow up the closing data of the older systems without
a pause. He labours to build up that most important of all the branches
of palæontology which pertains to ethnological investigations, and
which when brought to maturity will be found not less valuable as an
element in the elucidation of the history of nations and of mankind,
than the grammatical construction and the affiliations of languages,
which the ethnologist now chiefly favours. The archæologist applies to
the accumulated facts of his own science the same process of inductive
reasoning which the geologist has already employed with such success in
investigating still earlier states of being. Both deal with unwritten
history, and aim at the recovery of annals long deemed irretrievably
erased. Nor is it merely in a parallelism of process, or a continuity
of subject, that the affinity is traceable between them. It will be
found that they meet on common ground, and dispute the heirship of some
of old Time's bequests. The detritus records archæological as well as
geological facts. The more recent alluvial strata are the legitimate
property of both; while above these lie the evidences of still later
changes on the earth's surface--the debris of successive ages, the
buried ruins, the entombed works of art, and "the heaps of reedy
clay, into which chambered cities melt in their mortality"[12]--the
undisputed heirlooms of the archæologist. The younger science treats,
it is true, of recent periods, when compared with the eras of
geological computation, and of a race newer than any of those whose
organic remains are classified in the systems into which the strata of
the earth's crust have been grouped. But this race which last of all
has peopled the globe, once teeming with living beings so strangely
diverse from all that now inhabit it, is the race of man, whose history
embraces nobler records, and has claims to a deeper interest for us
than the most wonderful of all the extinct monsters that once

    "Prone on the flood, extended long and large,
    Lay floating many a rood."

Among the recent contributors to archæological science, the Danish
antiquaries have surpassed all others in the value and extent of their
researches. Occupying as they do a comparatively isolated seat of early
northern civilisation, where the relics of the primeval and secondary
archæological periods escaped to a great extent the disturbing
influences of Roman invasion, they possess many facilities for its
study. Notwithstanding this, however, the mute but eloquent relics of
antiquity which abound there, excited, until a very recent period, even
less notice than they have done among the archæologists of Ireland and
Scotland, where also aboriginal traces have been little modified by the
invading legions, whose memorials nearly superseded all others in the
southern part of the British Isle. The Scandinavian countries, Denmark,
Sweden, and Norway, held the chief power among the races of the remote
north in early times. Rome scarcely interfered with their growing
strength, and left their wild mythology and poetic traditions and myths
untinctured by the artificial creed which grew up amid the luxurious
scepticism of the conquerors of the world. When the flood-tide of
the legionary invaders had given back, and left the scenes of their
brief occupation like the waste lands of a forsaken shore, the
Scandinavians were the first to step into their deserted conquests.
Fearlessly navigating seas where no Roman galley dared to have sailed,
the Scandinavian warriors conquered the coasts of the Baltic and the
German Ocean, occupied many parts of the British Isles, and especially
established permanent settlements in the north of Scotland, and the
isles on its northern and western coasts. Their power was felt on
the shores of France and Spain, and they retaliated even on Italy
the unavenged wrongs of the north. America was visited and partially
occupied by them fully three centuries before Columbus steered his
venturous course across the Atlantic. Greenland was colonized by them,
and Iceland became the central point in their system of maritime
operations. In that remote island the old northern language still
lives, dialects of which were anciently spoken among the Scandinavian
races, including the Anglo-Saxons of the south, and the Norsemen of the
Scottish mainland and the Northern Isles.

Enduring traces of these hardy colonists still remain to furnish
evidence of the source of much of our national character and hereditary
customs. The religion of the Angles, the Saxons, the Scottish Norsemen,
the Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish Scandinavians, was similar.
Christianity, which supplanted so much else, could not root out the
memorials of their wild creed, which preserve in the names of the days
of the week those of Tyr, Woden, Thur, and Frea, favourite deities
of the Scandinavian mythology. In Iceland a large portion of the
literature of this northern race still survives, in the form of mythic
songs, sagas, laws, and other historic treasures. To this the attention
of Danish and Norwegian antiquaries is now devoted with untiring
enthusiasm, and already we are possessed of some of its fruits. These
are of immense value to all the nations allied to the common stock,
and among them Scotland ranks more directly than any other portion of
the British Isles. The promised contribution by the antiquaries of
Copenhagen to the written materials of history, of the "Antiquitates
Britannicæ et Hibernicæ," cannot fail to add a historic era to early
Scottish annals, richer in suggestive interest even than the romantic
chronicles of the long lost "Vinland," by which, in their "Antiquitates
Americanæ," they have added three centuries to the history of the new

A mingled race now occupies Britain, diverse in name, and still
distinct in blood. The names of England and Scotland, however,
contradict the character of the races. While the natives of the South
retain the name of Angul, the father of the Scandinavian colonists,
long since nearly superseded by Germano-Teutonic races, the Celtic
Highlanders, and the Lowlanders of the North, alike take that of
the Irish Scoti, the conquerors of the older Celtæ; though there is
not wanting evidence to show, that the peculiar characteristics of
the hardy Lowland race, including those of the whole north-eastern
mainland, and the Northern Isles, are chiefly derived from the mingled
Norse and Saxon blood of a Teutonic ancestry. But older races than the
Scandinavian Vikings were colonists of the British Isles. Christianity
has failed to obliterate the traces of the creed of Woden. Still less
influential have been the modifications of Teutonic and Scandinavian
dialects in supplanting the older Celtic names which cling to every
hill, valley, and stream, though the Celtic race has, for nearly eight
centuries, ceased to occupy aught but the north-western Highlands of
Wales and Scotland. The ethnologist has yet to solve the problem as
to whether there exist not among these traces of still older tongues,
pertaining to races who have left other but no less certain memorials
of their former presence. From the remotest era to which historical
tradition points, the Celtæ are found in possession of the north-west
of Europe, whither they appear to have been gradually driven, by
successive migrations of younger races from the same eastern centre,
to which we refer the origin of the whole human family. We can trace,
by unmistakable indications, the gradual western migration of this
people, until we find them hemmed in between the younger races and the
sea, on the north-west coasts of France, and along the mountainous
regions of the west in the British Isles, where the invaders of the
more fertile regions of the low countries have not cared to follow
them. Modern philologists discover a clear affinity between the Celtic
dialects and the languages known by the general title of Indo-European,
affording confirmation of that eastern origin assigned to them, both
by tradition and history, but which is no less true of the newer races
which supplanted them. The essential differences between these remain
markedly distinguishable after centuries of peaceful intercourse, and a
common interchange of rights and privileges. The Scottish Gael, though
by no means to be now regarded as sprung from a pure Celtic stock,
scarcely differs more widely in language than in moral and intellectual
characteristics from the race that peoples the fertile Lowlands.
Yet the names of the most remarkable Lowland localities prove their
possession by a Celtic race, whom therefore we cannot doubt to have
been the prior, if not the aboriginal, occupants of the soil.

Of late years the direct evidence of the character of the primitive
races of Europe, furnished by their sepulchral remains, has been made
the subject of careful investigation by distinguished ethnologists,
both of Denmark and Sweden. Eschricht, Nillson, and Retzius, have all
aimed by this means to recover the traces of the colonists of the north
of Europe, and have discovered different physical types, apparently
corresponding to the successive stages of advancement in civilisation,
which the more direct archæological evidence establishes. Arguing
from these results, Professor Nillson arrives at the conclusion that
the northern relics of the Stone Period are not the memorials of the
Celtæ, but of a much older and unknown race, which in the course of
time has disappeared before the immigration of more powerful nations.
Similar ideas are now generally gaining ground among ethnologists.
"Within their own pale," Dr. Latham remarks, "the Celts were the
encroaching family of the oldest, the Romans of the next oldest, and
the Anglo-Saxons and Slavonians of the recent periods of history."[13]
On like grounds to those by which Professor Nillson arrives at the
conclusion that the Celtæ were preceded in the north by other races,
Danish and Swedish ethnologists concur in rejecting the idea of the
Fins having been the aboriginal race of Scandinavia. The earliest
people, whose remains are found accompanied with the primitive class
of implements, prior to the introduction of metals, appear to have
belonged to a family of different physical character from those of
any of the Arian races, and have been supposed to present features of
greater affinity to the nations of Northern Asia. Professor Nillson,
who has carefully examined the skeletons of the aboriginal Swedish
colonists, and especially noted the conformation of their crania,
states that they are readily distinguished from all the subsequent
inhabitants of Scandinavia. They present the same peculiar form of
cranium which has been recognised as existing among several ancient
peoples, such as the Iberians or Basques of the Pyrenees, the Lapps
and Samoyedes, and the Pelasgi, some traces of whom are still found in
Greece.[14] The last noted coincidence is of considerable interest,
both from the ancient prevalence there of cyclopean architecture, and
other traces of primitive arts of unknown antiquity, and also from its
vicinity to the Asiatic centre of aboriginal emigration. Dr. Latham
remarks, in reply to the question, "Is there reason to believe that
any definite stock or division of our species has become either wholly
extinct, or so incorporated as to be virtually beyond the recognition
and analysis of the investigator? With the vast majority of the
_so-called extinct_ stocks, this is not the case; _e.g._, it is not
the case with the old Gauls of Gallia, who, though no longer extant,
have extant congeners--the Welsh and Gaels. To an extinction of this
kind among the better known historic nations of Europe and Asia, the
nearest approach is to be found in the history of the Pelasgi."[15] It
will be of no slight interest if we can trace the congeners of this
ancient people among the extinct aborigines of the north of Europe.

Two later races are supposed to have succeeded each other in
Scandinavia prior to its colonization by the true Swea race, the first
settlement of which in Scandinavia Professor Nillson assigns to a much
more recent date than has been commonly supposed--probably some time
in the sixth century. Mr. Worsaae justly remarks, in his "Primeval
Antiquities of Denmark,"--"It is a vain error to assume that certain
races must incontestably be the most ancient, because they are the
first which are mentioned in the few and uncertain written records
which we possess."[16] Unfortunately extremely little attention
has been hitherto paid to the size and form of the crania found in
British tumuli. Some few examples, however, have been preserved, and
will furnish the elements of a brief inquiry into this interesting
department of Physical Archæology, in a subsequent chapter. To this
branch of evidence it is probable that much greater importance will
be attached when it has been thoroughly investigated, since to it we
may look, with considerable confidence, for a distinct reply to the
inquiry, which other departments of archæological evidence suggest as
to the existence of primitive races in Britain prior to the Celtæ. So
far as our present limited data admit of general conclusions being
drawn, we find traces of more than one race, differing greatly in
physical characteristics from any of the successive colonists of
Britain within the era of authentic history. Professor Nillson is of
opinion that the type of the old Celtic cranium is intermediate to
the true dolicho-kephalic and brachy-kephalic forms, a conclusion in
which Dr. Thurnam and others concur. Such is not the form of cranium of
either of the races of the Scottish tumuli, and in so far, therefore,
as such forms may be assumed to be permanent, we are necessarily led
to the conclusion, that in these we recover traces of the Allophylian
pioneers of the human family in Britain.

The infancy of all written history is necessarily involved in fable.
Long ere the scattered families have conjoined their patriarchal unions
into tribes and clans, acknowledging some common chief, and submitting
their differences to the rude legislation of the arch-priest or civil
head of the commonwealth, treacherous tradition has converted the
story of their birth into the wildest admixture of myth and legendary
fable. To unravel the complicated skein, and recover the pure thread
divested of all its extraneous acquisitions, is the impossible task
of the historian. This period past--so momentous in the influence it
exercises on all the years that follow--the historian finds himself
among materials more manageable in some respects, though not always
more trustworthy. He reaches the era of chronicles, records, and, still
better, of diplomas, charters, deeds of gift, and the like honest
documents, which being written with no thought of posterity by their
compilers, are the only really trustworthy chronicles that posterity
has inherited. This historic epoch of Scotland is involved in even
more obscurity than that which clouds the dim and fabulous morning of
most nations. We have indeed the few but invaluable allusions of Roman
authors supplying important and generally trustworthy data. But it is
only a momentary glimpse of sunshine. For the era succeeding we have
little better than the perplexing admixture of traditions, facts, and
pious legends of monkish chroniclers, furnished with a copiousness
sufficiently characteristic of the contrast between the literary
legionary of imperial Rome, and the cloistered soldier of her papal
successor. Amid these dusty acres of parchment must we glean for older
dynasties and monarchical pedigrees--not seldom tempted to abandon the
weedy furrows in disgust or despair. It is with no lack of zeal or
courage, however, that these soldiers of the Church have encountered
the oblivious past into which we still peer with no less resolute
inquisitiveness. Bede, Fordun, Wyntoun, Boece, and the other penmen of
the cloisters who, more or less accurately, chronicled contemporary
history, all contributed their quota to the thick mists of fable
which obscure the earlier annals of the country. Wyntoun, the best
of our Scottish chroniclers, following the example of other monkish
historians, begins his work as near _the beginning_ as may be, with a
treatise on angels, before proceeding to "manny's fyrst creatoune!" In
the sixth chapter he gets the length of "Ye Arke of Noe, and of the
Spate," and after treating of _Ynde_, _Egype_, _Afryk_, and many other
lands with an enviable and leisurely composure, he at length reaches
the threshold of his legitimate subject, and glances, in the thirteenth
chapter of his Scottish Chronicles, at "how Bretanne and Irlande lyis."
This, however, is a mere passing notice; nor is it till after the
dedication of many more successive chapters of his first five books to
the general history of the world, that the author of the "Orygynale
Cronykil of Scotland" quits his ample theme, and devotes himself
exclusively to the professed object of his investigation, with only
such occasional deviations as might be expected from an ecclesiastical

With such laborious chroniclers peering into the past, which lay fully
five centuries nearer them than it does to us, there might seem little
left for the men of this older generation to do. But unhappily the very
best of monkish chroniclers must be consulted with caution even as
contemporary historians, and scarcely at all as the recorders of what
passed any length of time prior to their own day; their information
being nearly as trustworthy in regard to Noah and his _spate_, as
to the traditions of generations immediately preceding their own.
Lord Hailes begins his annals with the accession of Malcolm Canmore,
"because the history of Scotland previous to that period is involved in
obscurity and fable." Tytler, with even less courage than Lord Hailes,
commences only at the accession of Alexander the Third, "because it is
at this period that our national annals become particularly interesting
to the general reader."

Till recently, the never-failing apology for all obscurities and
deficiencies in Scottish history, has been the rape of our muniments by
Edward and Cromwell. The former spoliation supplied for some centuries
an excuse for all degrees of ignorance, inconsistencies, or palpable
blunders; and the latter came most conveniently to hand for more recent
dalliers in the same pleasant field of historic rambling. Edward and
Cromwell both contributed a helping hand to the obscurity of Scottish
history, in so far as they carried off and destroyed national records
which could ill be spared. The apology, however, has been worth far
more to maundering manufacturers of history than the lost muniments
were ever likely to have proved. Not a few of these irrecoverable
national records, so long deplored, it begins to be shrewdly suspected,
never had any existence. Many more of them, it is found, were not
sought for, or they might have been discovered to have never left
their old repositories. Diligent Scottish antiquaries, finding this
hereditary wail over lost muniments a very profitless task, have of
late years betaken themselves to the study of what remained, and
have been rewarded by the recovery of chest-loads of dusty charters
and deeds of all sorts, of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth
centuries, containing mines of historic information. The Scottish
chartularies, now printed by various Clubs of literary antiquaries,
disclose to us information scarcely open to a doubt, concerning old
laws, feudal customs, servitude, tenure of property, ecclesiastical
corporate rights, the collision of lay and clerical interests, and
the final transference of monastic lands to lay proprietors. The old
apology, therefore, of muniments lost or destroyed, will no longer
serve the Scottish historian. Imperfectly as these treasures have yet
been turned to account, medieval history is no longer obscure. Many
fallacies are already exploded, and many more must speedily follow. The
legends of the old chroniclers must be tried by the tests of documents
written sometimes by the same authors, but with no thought that history
would ever question them for the truth.

Yet ample as is the field thus open to the literary antiquary, these
will only partially satisfy earnest longings after a knowledge of the
past, and a clue to the old ancestral chain whereof they are but the
middle links. Ritson has already carried back the supposed limits
of authentic Caledonian history fully a thousand years before the
_obscurity_ that daunted Lord Hailes. Chalmers, Gregory, Skene, and
other zealous investigators, have followed or emulated him in the
same bold inquiry. But neither do they reach the BEGINNING which we
still desiderate. Much obscurity indeed vanishes. We begin to discover
that the Northern and Southern Picts, so long the subject of mystery
and fable, were no other than the aboriginal Celtæ; while the Scots
who founded the kingdom of Dalriada, in Argyleshire, and ultimately
conferred their name on the whole races occupying ancient Caledonia,
were probably, if not indeed certainly, only another branch of the same
Celtic race, who so readily amalgamated with the older occupants of
Caledonia, that the change which is known as the "Scottish Conquest"
long puzzled the historian, from the absence of any defined traces
of a progress at all commensurate with its results. This is somewhat
gained on the medieval _beginning_ which could alone be previously held
tenable. But this also begins in the wake of much progression, and
glances at a period which likewise had its old history full of no less
interest to us, could its annals be recovered.

In one of the few records of Sir Isaac Newton's reflections which
he has left for the help of others, the following comprehensive
thought occurs:--"It is clearly apparent that the inhabitants of this
world are of a short date, seeing that all arts, as letters, ships,
printing, needle, &c., were discovered within the memory of history."
The reflection is surely a very pregnant one. The data it suggests to
us as the landmarks of time are well worth extending and turning to
account, if so be that with their aid we can arrive at some trustworthy
system of chronology, whereby to travel back towards that date which we
reckon to be the beginning of things.

In this inquiry the labours of the literary antiquary, however
zealously pursued, will but little avail us in reaching the desired
point. The antiquary, nevertheless, has been long familiar with the
elements of this older history, though turning them to very much the
same profitable account as, till a very recent period, he did the
hieroglyphic records graven on the granite tablets along the Nile.
The first of arts mentioned by Newton is letters; justly first in
point of dignity and universal value. Far homelier arts, however,
sufficed the primitive races of mankind. Humble were their wants,
and limited their desires; and if we are justified by the records of
creation preserved to us in the Mosaic narrative, in assuming that man,
beginning with the woven garment of fig-leaves and the coat of skins,
has slowly progressed through successive stages to the knowledge of
nobler arts, and the higher wants of an intelligent being, then we
have only to establish evidence of the most primitive arts, pertaining
to the primeval race, in order to be assured that we have reached
the true beginning at which we aim. In the general investigation,
indeed, allowance must be made for the speedy loss of antediluvian
metallurgic arts which would follow almost of necessity on the exodus
of the primitive nomades from their Eastern birthland, though preserved
perhaps by the founders of the first Asiatic kingdoms, and probably
practised by the earliest colonists of the Nile valley. Such at least
we shall find to have been the case with the primeval colonists of

This point it is at which the modern archæologist now directs his
inquiries, not altogether without the anticipation that these same
primitive arts, the product of the beginning of things, may also prove
to contain a decipherable alphabet, which may be resolved into definite
phonetics, and furnish the key to many inscriptions no less curious and
valuable than the parchments of medieval charter-chests, or even the
tablet of Abydos and the Rosetta Stone.

It is long since the evidences of a primitive state of society, still
abounding in the midst of modern civilisation, attracted the attention
of the antiquary. It was indeed almost a necessary consequence of the
accumulation of large collections of antiquities. The private hoards
of "nick nackets,"--including in general a miscellaneous assortment
of relics of all ages, only sufficient to produce a confused notion
of useless or obsolete arts, without creating a definite idea of any
single era of the past,--may be aptly compared to the _disjecta
membra_ of some beautifully-proportioned and decorated vase. Hoarded
apart, the pieces are nearly without value, and to new possessors
become even meaningless. But should the whole, by some fortunate
chance, be re-assembled in a single collection, it becomes possible for
a skilful manipulator to piece the fragments together, and replace them
with an elegant and valuable work of art. Thus it has proved with more
than one archæological museum. In 1780 the Society of Antiquaries of
Scotland was established, and its collection of national antiquities
begun. A brief but most suggestive paper, read at one of its meetings
in 1782, and published in the first volume of its Transactions, shews
the speedy results of such valuable reconstructions, by means of an
intelligent comparison of the primitive relics of Scotland.[17] But the
resources of private zeal proved inadequate to the effective pursuit of
these researches into Scottish Archæology, and the national funds found
other, though not always more valuable objects for their expenditure.
The hint was lost, but the accumulation of materials for future
students was happily not altogether abandoned.

"About forty years ago," says J. J. A. Worsaae, the eminent Danish
antiquary, writing in 1846, "the general character of scientific
pursuits was in our country (Denmark) much the same as in most other
parts of Europe. Great pains were spent in collecting all sorts of
objects illustrating the changes of the globe upon which we live,
and the distribution and habits of animals and plants--in short, all
the departments of Natural History; whilst, strange to say, people
for the most part neglected _traces of men_, the remains not only of
their own ancestors, but also of all the different races who have been
spread over the world. The antiquities, with the exception of those
of Roman and Greek origin, were regarded as mere curiosities, without
any scientific value."[18] Notwithstanding all the zeal of British
archæologists of late years, so much of this spirit still remains among
us, that it would be easier, perhaps, even now, to secure the purchase
by the Trustees of the British Museum, of a Roman statue or an Egyptian
tablet, than of valuable relics of British antiquity.

One man has within the last thirty years accomplished, not for
Denmark only, but for Europe, what the whole united labours of
earlier archæologists failed to do. About the year 1815, the present
Danish Councillor of State, C. J. Thomsen, the son of a merchant of
Copenhagen, was appointed Secretary of a Royal Commission for the
preservation and collection of national antiquities. It had then been
in existence some seven or eight years, and the whole result of its
labours was a few miscellaneous articles, unclassified and uncared for,
lying in a small room of the University Library. His enthusiasm in
the study of the antiquities of his country surmounted all obstacles.
He had to contend alike with the theories of the scholar and the
prejudices of the unlearned. But he had succeeded to a position of
the utmost value to a man of energy and enthusiasm. From the first
he had grants (though exceedingly small ones) of public money at
his disposal. He soon enlisted the more important element of public
sympathy, and nationality of feeling, in his pursuits. His little room
became too small for accumulating purchases and donations. A suite of
apartments was yielded, at his intercession, in the Royal Palace of
Christiansborg; and as the varied collection increased in his hands,
he found himself possessed at once of the space and the elements for
systematic classification.

The Royal Museum of Northern Antiquities of Copenhagen now numbers
between three and four thousand specimens of stone weapons and
implements, some hundreds of bronze swords, celts, spear-heads,
armillæ, torcs, &c., and a collection of native gold and silver relics
unequalled in all the museums of Europe. To it we owe the valuable
suggestion of the system of classification now universally adopted in
the nomenclature of archæological science--the _Stone_, _Bronze_, and
_Iron_ periods, which, simple as it may appear, was first suggested
by Mr. Thomsen, and is justly esteemed the foundation of Archæology
as a science. By means of it the whole materials of antiquarian study
at once arrange themselves according to an intelligible chronology of
universal acceptance, and adapted in an especial degree to Northern
antiquities. This, therefore, is the system on which the following data
are arranged, subject only to such modifications as seem naturally to
arise from national or local peculiarities.

It is not necessary here to enter on the question, of curious interest
and value, as to whether the primeval state of man was essentially
one of barbarism, from whence he progressed by slow degrees to social
union, arts, civilisation, and political organisation into communities
and nations. The investigations of chronologists the further they
are pursued, seem only the more certainly to confer on primitive
civilisation a more remote antiquity. At the same time, they confirm
the idea, that the long accepted chronology of Archbishop Usher,
still attached to our English Bibles, cheats the world, at the lowest
computation, of fully 1400 years of its existence--a trifle perhaps in
the age of worlds, but no unimportant element in the history of human
civilisation, when we remember that between the era of the Mosaic
deluge and the accession of the Egyptian Menes, we must account for
the peopling of Egypt, the establishment of its social and political
constitution, and the founding of a civilisation, the monuments of
which are still among the most wonderful that human intellect and
labour have produced. Not the least important branch of this inquiry
relates to the primeval inhabitants of our own quarter of the globe;
of whom as yet we know only with any degree of certainty of the Celtæ,
occupying a transitional place in the history of the human family--at
once the earliest known intruders and the latest nomades of Europe.
It seems probable, from all the traces we can recover of the original
condition of this race, that it was more their deficiency than their
excess in the energy which we expect to find in the colonists of new
regions, that drove them onward in their north-western pilgrimage,
until their course was arrested by the Atlantic barriers. They seem
to have fled ever forward, like night before the dawn, carrying with
them knowledge sufficient to cope with the savage occupants of the
wilds they invaded, yet bearing into these few arts but such as still
pertain to the primitive races of mankind. In older literary notices
of this people, whose language, manners, and arts are still traceable
in our own land, we have only a secondary interest, believing that
some records of them are recoverable, noted for us long before they
had excited foreign interest. But, still more, we doubt not that
similar records also preserve the history of older British tribes, in
comparison with which the ancient Celtæ must be regarded as of recent
origin. "The antiquities of the earlier periods," says a distinguished
English antiquary, "including all remains which bear no evident stamp
of Roman origin or influence, claim our most careful investigation.
Exceedingly limited in variety of types, these vestiges of the
ancient inhabitants of Great Britain are not more interesting to the
antiquarian collector on account of their rarity, than valuable to the
historian. They supply the only positive evidence in those obscure
ages, regarding customs, warfare, foreign invasions, or the influence
of commerce, and the advance of civilisation amongst the earliest
races by which these islands were peopled."[19] Perhaps when we have
bestowed on these primitive remains the degree of careful investigation
which they merit, we shall find the variety of types less limited than
is now conceived to be the case. The archæologists of Denmark justly
value the absence of all relics of Roman art and civilisation, from
the confidence it has given to their researches into the true eras
to which their own primeval antiquities belong. Such gratulations,
however, can only be of temporary avail. The influence of Roman arts
and arms furnishes an element in the civilisation of modern Europe
too important not to be worthy of the most careful study. When the
distinctive characteristics of Roman and primitive art have been so
satisfactorily established as to admit of their separate classification
without risk of error or confusion, the British collections, with
their ample store of Anglo-Roman relics, will furnish a far more
comprehensive demonstration of national history than those northern
galleries, which must remain destitute of any native examples of an
influence no less abundantly visible in their literature and arts, than
in that of nations which received it directly from the source. In this
respect the Scottish antiquary is peculiarly fortunate in the field of
observation he occupies. While he possesses the legionary inscriptions,
the sepulchral tablets, the sculptures, pottery, and other native
products of Roman colonists or invaders, he has also an extensive and
strictly defined field for the study of primitive antiquities, almost
as perfectly free from the disturbing elements of foreign art as the
most secluded regions of ancient Scandinavia.


[1] Carlyle's Miscellanies, second edition, vol. v. p. 301.

[2] Archæol. Scot., vol. ii. p. 506; vol. iv. p. 119.

[3] Trans. Camb. Camden Soc., vol. i. pp. 76, 91, 176.

[4] Archæol. Scot, vol. iii. p. 103.

[5] Report by the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries, Copenhagen,
1836, p. 61.

[6] Expostulation.

[7] I should regret if I were thought, by the above remarks, to reflect
on the present official staff of the British Museum, including as
it does men no less distinguished for their learning than for their
intelligent zeal for archæological investigation. One evil attendant on
the present defective system of management of the Museum by a body of
Trustees, composed, for the most part, of irresponsible _ex officio_
members, is, that the Keepers are converted into mere custodiers,
responsible for the safety of the collection, but altogether destitute
of the powers of an efficient curatorship, such as in the hands of
Councillor C. J. Thomsen of Copenhagen led to the development of
the entire system which has given to Archæology the character of a
science. Wherever the fault lies, however, it is indisputable that the
departments of ethnography and antiquities, in the British Museum, are
arranged almost without an attempt at systematic classification: one
consequence of which is, that in nearly every town of any importance
throughout the kingdom we see local museums established, containing
a confused jumble of antiquities, natural history, and foreign
curiosities, but without any single characteristic of a scientific
collection. The present popular idea of a museum, in this country,
differs, indeed, in no degree, from the estimate of an exhibition of
giants and dwarfs, or any other vulgar show; nor is this grave error
likely to be discarded till the great model museum in London sets the
example of a systematic arrangement, devised on some other principle
than that of merely pleasing the eye.

[8] One instance, though by no means a solitary one in my own
experience, will suffice to shew the pernicious effects of this
antiquated relic of feudal claims, even in impeding research. Some
considerable space is devoted, in the last section of this volume,
to Runic relics; but one of considerable interest is omitted to be
noticed,--a bronze finger ring inscribed in Anglo-Saxon Runes with
the word _Æikhi_, probably the name of the original owner. It was
found in the Abbey Park, St. Andrews. But its possessor, a gentleman
of considerable antiquarian zeal, refused to permit of its being
engraved or more distinctly referred to here, on the sole ground of his
apprehension of exposing himself thereby to the claims of the Crown.

[9] Sir Thomas Browne. Hydriotaphia, or Urn Burial.

[10] Bacon's Essays, LVIII.

[11] Hugh Miller's First Impressions of England and its People.

[12] Ruskin's Seven Lamps of Architecture, p. 66.

[13] Natural History of the Varieties of Man, by Robert Gordon Latham,
M.D., p. 528.

[14] British Association for the Advancement of Science, Report for
1837, p. 31.

[15] Natural History of Varieties of Man, by R. G. Latham, M.D., p. 553.

[16] Primeval Antiquities of Denmark, by J. J. A. Worsaae, translated,
and applied to the illustration of similar remains in England, by W. J.
Thoms, F.S.A., &c., p. 133.

[17] "An Inquiry into the Expedients used by the Scots before the
Discovery of Metals," by W. C. Little, of Libberton, Esq. Archæologia
Scotica, vol i. p. 389.

[18] "The Antiquities of Ireland and Denmark; being the substance of
two communications made to the Royal Irish Academy at its Meetings,
Nov. 30, and Dec. 7, 1846."

[19] Albert Way, on "Ancient Armillæ of Gold."--Archæological Journal,
vol. vi. p. 55.



    "Cum prorepserunt primis animalia terris,
    Mutum et turpe pecus, glandem atque cubilia propter,
    Unguibus et pugnis, dein fustibus, atque ita porro
    Pugnabant armis, quæ post fabricaverat usus;
    Donec verba, quibus voces sensusque notarent,
    Nominaque invenere."

                                      HORACE, _Sat._ I. 3.


The closing epoch of geology, which embraces the diluvial formations,
is that in which archæology has its beginning. In a zoological point
of view, it includes man and the existing races of animals, as well
as the extinct races which appear to have been contemporaneous with
indigenous species. Archæology also lays claim to the still more
recent alluvium, with all its included relics pertaining to the
historic period. Within the legitimate scope of this department of
investigation are comprehended the entire evidence of changes on the
geographical features of the country, on its coasts and harbours, its
estuaries, rivers, and plains: all properly coming within the limits of
Archæology, though too extensive to be embraced in the present review
of its elements. This much, however, we learn from an examination of
the detritus and its included fossils, that at the period immediately
preceding the occupation of the British Islands by their first
colonists the country must have been almost entirely covered with
forests, and overrun by numerous races of animals long since extinct.
Much has been done in recent years to complete the history of British
fossil mammalia; and though less attention has been paid to the
question in which we are here most deeply interested, as to what
portion of them are to be considered as having been contemporaneous
with man, yet on this also some interesting light has been thrown.
The most extensive discoveries of mammalian remains and recent shells
generally occur along the valleys by which the present drainage of the
country takes place, and hence we infer that little change has taken
place in its physical conformation since their deposition. These,
however, include the mammoth, elephant, rhinoceros, cave tiger, with
other extinct species, and are referrible to the earlier portion of an
epoch, with the close of which we have alone to deal. They belong to
that period in which our planet was passing through its very latest
stage of preparation prior to its occupation by man; a period on which
the geologist, who deals with phenomena of the most gigantic character,
and with epochs of vast duration, is apt to dwell with diminished
interest, but which excites in the thoughtful mind a keener sympathy
than all that preceded it. The general geographical disposition of the
globe was then nearly as it still remains. Our own island was, during
a great portion of it, insulated, as it is now. Yet it is of this
familiar locality that the palæontologist remarks:--"In this island,
anterior to the deposition of the drift, there was associated with the
great extinct tiger, bear, and hyæna of the caves, in the destructive
task of controlling the numbers of the richly developed order of the
herbivorous mammalia, a feline animal, (the _Machairodus Latidens_,) as
large as the tiger, and, to judge by its instruments of destruction, of
greater ferocity."[20] It was within the epoch to which these strange
mammals belong, and while some of them, and many other contemporaneous
forms of being, still animated the scene, that man was introduced upon
this stage of existence, and received dominion over every living thing.

It has been supposed by more than one intelligent naturalist, that
the gigantic fossil elk (_Megaceros Hibernicus_) co-existed with the
human race. Dr. Hart has produced what he conceived to be conclusive
evidence on this subject, derived from the appearance of a rib, pierced
with an oval opening near its lower edge, "with the margin depressed
on the outer and raised on the inner surface, round which there is
an irregular effusion of callus; in fact, such an effect as would
be produced by the head of an arrow remaining in a wound after the
shaft was broken off." This conclusion Professor Owen has disputed,
apparently on satisfactory grounds.[21] By a similar line of argument,
however, to which he has yielded his assent,[22] it has been shewn
that the north of Europe was occupied by the human race at a time when
the _Bos primigenius_, the _Bison priscus_, and the _Ursus spelæus_,
existed.[23] Of the _Ursus spelæus_, or great cave bear, a skeleton is
preserved in the museum of Lund, found in a peat-bog in Scania, under
a gravel or stone deposit, and alongside of primitive implements of
the chase. Though no such direct evidence has yet been observed here,
similar conclusions have been arrived at. Mr. Owen, after referring
the period of existence of the great cave bear to earlier geological
epochs, adds, as the conclusion from present evidence, "that the genus
surviving, or under a new specific form reappearing, after the epoch
of the deposition and dispersion of those enormous, unstratified,
superficial accumulations of marine and fresh-water shingle and gravel,
called drift and diluvium, has been continued during the formation of
vast fens and turbaries upon the present surface of the island, and
until the multiplication and advancement of the human race introduced
a new cause of extermination, under the powerful influence of which
the Bear was finally swept away from the indigenous fauna of Great
Britain."[24] To these native mammals may be added the horse, the
roebuck, the red deer, the wild boar, the brown bear, the wolf, and the
beaver, all of which have undoubtedly existed as wild animals in this
country, and been gradually domesticated or extirpated by man.[25]

The most interesting of all the species for our present inquiry are
those adapted for domestication, among which the _Bovidæ_ occupy a
prominent place. Of these, the great fossil ox (_Bos primigenius_) is
very frequently found in Scotland. Dr. Fleming describes a skull of
one in his possession measuring 27½ inches in length,[26] and a
still larger one from Roxburghshire, now in the Scottish Antiquarian
Museum, measures 28 inches in length. No evidence leads us to conclude
that any attempt was made by the native Britons to domesticate either
of the two kinds of gigantic oxen, the bison or great urus, which
the Romans discovered on first penetrating into the north of Europe.
But besides these there was also a smaller primitive wild species,
the _Bos Longifrons_, of the domestication of which in Britain we
have abundant proof, at least at the period of the Roman invasion.
Soon after this it appears to have become extinct, so that we are
rather led to assume that it may have been the domesticated ox of the
native population prior to the intrusion of the Romans. Mr. Woods
refers to the discovery of the skull and horns of the great urus in a
tumulus on the Wiltshire Downs, along with bones of deer and boars,
and fragments of native pottery, in proof of the existence in this
country originally of a "very large race of _taurine_ oxen, although
most probably entirely destroyed by the aboriginal inhabitants before
the invasion of Britain by Cæsar." Professor Owen has discussed the
probable influence of Roman occupation on the wild herds and the breeds
of domesticated oxen, with much sagacity, though somewhat too much
influenced by the views so generally entertained of the barbarian state
of the native Britons prior to the intrusion of Roman colonists.[27]
Scarcely less interesting is the evidence which British fossil mammalia
furnish of the existence of the horse among the native wild animals
of the country, since we find proof, both in the early tumuli and the
subterranean dwellings, not only of its domestication, but also of its
being used for food.

This very slight glance at the most prominent indications of the
primeval state of the country, will suffice to convey some idea of
the circumstances under which the aboriginal colonists entered on the
possession of the British Isles. Other portions of the same line of
argument, derived from the fossil mammalia, and the circumstances under
which they are discovered, will come under review in the course of our
inquiries. The fossil Cetacea, especially, furnish most interesting and
conclusive evidence of the very remote period at which the presence
of a human population is discoverable in Scotland, while the beaver,
(_Castor Europæus_,) which is frequently found in a fossil state, is
also proved to have existed as a living species, both in Scotland
and Wales, down to the twelfth century, and is even referred to so
late as the fifteenth century. To the abundance of wild animals
which continued to occupy the moors and forests of Scotland, long
after the primitive states of society had entirely passed away, we
shall also have occasion hereafter to refer. The same causes which
exterminated the huge urus, the cave bear, and others of the largest
and most intractable of the wild denizens of the British forests,
ultimately led to the extinction of the greater number of those which
either supplied objects of the chase, or were inimical to the social
progress of man. Thus we observe, in the economy of nature, that one
species after another disappears, to make way for newer occupants,
until at length the last of those huge preadamite races of being give
place, before the gradual advancement of man to assume possession
of terrestrial dominion. Yet on this point also those questions in
historic chronology, which tend to determine more precisely the lapse
of centuries intervening between the Adamic creation and the earliest
era of authentic history, exercise an important influence. Geology
leaves no room for questioning the fact, that man did not enter upon
this earth after some tremendous cosmical revolution, which made way
for an entirely new race of beings, but that he was introduced as the
lord of an inheritance already in possession of many inferior orders
of creation. Contemporary with the most remarkable cave fossils are
found the remains of many historic, or still existing species, and the
precise line has yet to be drawn which shall determine how many of
these were extinct, at the period when the Creator, at length satisfied
with his inferior works, said, "Let us make man in our image, after
our likeness." The remains, both of the large cave hyæna, (_Hyæna
spelæa_,) and of the great cave tiger, (_Felis spelæa_,) occur not
only in ossiferous caverns, but have also been found in superficial
unstratified deposits. Considerable portions of the skeleton of the
latter were discovered in 1829, along with remains of the mammoth,
rhinoceros, ox, stag, and horse, in a marl-pit near North Cliff,
Yorkshire. Under precisely similar geological circumstances the _Bos
primigenius_ has very frequently been brought to light in Scotland.
It is of this animal that Sir R. I. Murchison remarks, in a letter to
Professor Owen, descriptive of an example already referred to, found in
a bog in Scania: "This urus is most remarkable in exhibiting a wound
of the apophysis of the second dorsal vertebra, apparently inflicted
by a javelin of one of the aborigines, the hole left by which was
exactly fitted by Nillson with one of the ancient stone javelins....
This instrument fractured the bone, and penetrated to the apophysis
of the third dorsal vertebra, which is also injured. The fractured
portions are so well cemented, that Nillson thinks the animal probably
lived two or three years after. The wound must have been inflicted
over the horns, and the javelin must have been hurled with prodigious
force." Of the existence, therefore, of the _Bos primigenius_ within
the historic epoch, we can entertain no doubt, and it is accordingly
requisite to give full weight to the influence which its presence must
have exercised on the general condition of our island. Professor Owen
remarks, after showing the erroneous nature of the usually received
opinion, that the lion, the tiger, and the jaguar, are peculiarly
adapted to a tropical climate:--"A more influential, and, indeed,
the chief cause or condition of the prevalence of the larger feline
animals, in any given locality, is the abundance of the vegetable
feeding animals in a state of nature, with the accompanying thickets
or deserts unfrequented by man. The Indian tiger follows the herds
of antelope and deer, in the lofty Himalayan chain, to the verge of
perpetual snow. The same species also passes that great mountain
barrier, and extends its ravages with the leopard, the panther, and
the cheetah, into Bocharia, to the Altaic chain, and into Siberia, as
far as the fiftieth degree of latitude; preying principally, according
to Pallas, on the wild horses and asses."[28] No change, therefore,
of climate, nor any remarkable geological revolution is needful to
account for the disappearance of the huge British carnivora, the
remains of which abound in the ossiferous caves. They pertain to the
closing transition-period of the preadamite earth, and, as in other
transition-periods which we shall have to consider, some traces of
them survived among the inheritors of the new era. It is therefore
a legitimate source of interest to the archæologist, to observe the
mingling of extinct and familiar species among the fossil mammals found
in the superficial deposits, wherein so much of the evidence of his own
science must be sought. It discovers to him the precise link by which
his pursuits take hold of the great chain of truth, and in a new sense
shews man, not as an isolated creation, but as the last and best of an
order of animated beings, whose line sweeps back into the far removed
shadow of an unmeasured past. "Phenomena like these," says Professor
Sedgwick, when referring to the discoveries at the North Cliff,
Yorkshire, in 1829, "have a tenfold interest, binding the present order
of things to that of older periods, in which the existing forms of
animated nature seem one after another to disappear."[29]

Thus much is apparent from the most superficial glance at the
geological evidence of the primeval state of Britain within the
historic era, that though corresponding in its great geographical
outlines to its present condition, it differed, in nearly every other
respect, as widely as it is possible for us to conceive of a country
capable of human occupation. A continuous range of enormous forests
covered nearly the whole face of the country. Vast herds of wild
cattle, of gigantic proportions and fierce aspect, roamed through
the chase, while its thickets and caves were occupied by carnivora,
preying on the herbivorous animals, and little likely to hold in
dread the armed savage who intruded on their lair. The whole of these
have existed since the formation of the peat began, and therefore
furnish some evidence of the very remote antiquity to which we must
refer the origin of some of the wastes that supply, as will be seen
in subsequent chapters, an important element in the elucidation of
primitive chronology. Upon this singular arena Archæology informs
us that the primeval Briton entered, unprovided with any of those
appliances with which the arts of civilisation arm man against such
obstacles. Intellectually, he appears to have been in nearly the
lowest stage to which an intelligent being can sink; morally, he was
the slave of a superstition, the grovelling character of which will
be traced in reviewing his sepulchral rites; physically, he differed
little in stature from the modern inheritors of the same soil, but his
cerebral development was poor, his head small in proportion to his
body, his hands, and probably his feet, also small; while the weapons
with which he provided himself for the chase, and the few implements
that ministered to his limited necessities, indicate only the crude
development of that inventive ingenuity which first distinguishes the
reason of man from the instincts of the brutes. The evidence from
which such conclusions are deduced, forms the subject of the following


[20] Owen's British Fossil Mammals, p. 179.

[21] Owen's British Fossil Mammals, p. 462.

[22] Ibid. Introd. p. xxxiii.

[23] British Association for Advancement of Science, Report for 1847,
p. 31; and Owen, Introd. p. xxxiii.

[24] Owen's British Fossil Mammals, p. 107. An interesting account of
the discovery of antiquities of human remains in Kent's Hole, one of
the most remarkable British ossiferous caves, is given in a subsequent
chapter from the narrative of the Rev. J. M'Enery, F.G.S.

[25] Ibid. p. 197.

[26] History of British Animals, p. 24.

[27] British Fossil Mammals, p. 500.

[28] British Fossil Mammals, p. 162.

[29] Anniversary Address to the Zoological Society, 1830.



Though we are assured, and cannot doubt, that man was created an
intelligent being, capable of enjoying the high faculties with which
he alone of all the denizens of earth was endowed, we have no reason
to assume that he had any conception of the practical arts by which
we are enabled to satisfy wants of which he was equally unconscious.
We know on the same authority that there existed a period in the
history of our race, ere Zillah, the wife of Lamech, had borne to him
Tubal-cain, "the instructor of every artificer in brass and iron,"
when men tilled the ground, pursued the chase, made garments of its
spoils, and constructed tents to dwell in, without any knowledge of
the working in metals, on which the simplest of all our known arts
depend. Through such a stage of primitive arts most, perhaps all,
nations have passed. We detect evidences of it among the Egyptians, old
as the date of their civilisation appears, in the stone knives of the
embalmers, still frequently found in the catacombs. By such only could
the incision be made in the side of the dead, through which to extract
the intestines; and when they had been cleansed and replaced, the eye
of Osiris, the judge of the dead, was placed as a mysterious seal over
the sacred incision. The feeling in which such a custom originated,
arising from the veneration which appears to be universally attached to
whatever is ancient, is easily understood. While the knife of bronze
or iron was freely employed for all ordinary purposes, the primitive
stone implement was retained unchanged for the sacred incision in the
dead. So also, probably from a like idea directly borrowed from the
Egyptians, the stone or flint knife appears to have been used by the
early Hebrews in circumcision. Zipporah, Moses' wife, took a sharp
stone, or stone knife, and cut off the foreskin of her son. The like
was done when Joshua renewed the same rite at Gilgal in the east border
of Jericho; while a still more remarkable community of feeling with
the veneration of the ancient Egyptians for the otherwise obsolete
implement of stone, is discernible in its retention by the priests of
Montezuma as the instrument of human sacrifice.

The substitution of flint, stone, horn, and wood, in the absence of
metal weapons and implements, must be abundantly familiar to all, in
the customs of society when met with in a rude and primitive condition.
The Fins and Esquimaux, the African bushmen, and the natives of such
of the Polynesian Islands as are rarely visited by Europeans, still
construct knives and arrow-heads of flint or fish-bone, and supply
themselves with wooden clubs and stone adzes and hammers, with little
consciousness of imperfection or deficiency in such appliances.
Examples of such a state of arts and human skill might be multiplied
from the most dissimilar sources. It seems, as has been already
remarked, to be a stage through which all nations have passed, not
without each developing a sufficient individuality to render their arts
well worthy of investigation by their descendants. To this primitive
era of history we refer under the name of THE STONE PERIOD.

In this state were the Scottish, and indeed the whole British
aborigines, at an era much more remote than chronologists have
been willing to assign for the occupation of the island by a human
population, and for a period the duration of which we are also able in
some degree to test.

There is one certain point in this inquiry into primitive arts which
the British antiquary possesses over all others, and from whence he can
start without fear of error, though I am not aware that its importance
in this view has heretofore been noted. From our insular position it
is unquestionable that the first colonist of the British Isles must
have been able to construct some kind of boat, and have possessed
sufficient knowledge of navigation to steer his course through the open
sea. Contrasting the aboriginal arts to which we have referred with the
appliances of later navigators, it seems only reasonable to conclude
that the bark of the primeval Columbus, who led the way from the
continent of Europe to the untrodden wilds of Britain, differed no less
from the caravel of the bold Genoese, than that did from the British
ship that now follows in its course. Can we recover the history of
such primitive caravel? It seems not improbable that we may. Time has
dealt kindly with the frail fleets of the aboriginal Britons, and kept
in store some curious records of them, not doubting but these would at
length be inquired for.

It is by no means to be presumed as certain that the early navigators
chose the Straits of Dover as the readiest passage to the new world
they were to people. Both Welsh and Danish traditions point to a
migration from Jutland. Whencesoever the first emigrants came,
Providence alone could pilot their frail barks. Successive migrations,
the chances of shipwreck, or the like independent causes, may have
landed the fathers of the British race on widely different parts of
our island coast. It is a well established fact, that at later periods
many distinct and rival centres of population were thus established
throughout the British Isle.

Lochar Moss, a well-known tract in Dumfriesshire, occupies an area
of fully twelve miles in length, by between two and three miles in
breadth, extending to the Solway Frith. Its history is summed up in an
old popular rhyme, still repeated in the surrounding districts:--

    "First a wood, and next a sea,
    Now a moss, and ever will be!"

Lying as it does on the southern outskirts of the Scottish kingdom,
the track of many successive generations has lain along its margin
or across its treacherous surface, beneath which their records have
been from time to time engulfed, to be restored in after ages to the
light of day. To these we shall have occasion again to refer; but
among them our chief attention is meanwhile attracted by its ancient
canoes, repeatedly found along with huge trunks of trees, hazel-nuts,
acorns, and other traces of the forest, and also, according to the old
statist of Torthorwald parish, "anchors, cables, and oars," the no less
obvious heirlooms of the sea. During the last century the peats cut
from this moss formed almost the sole supply of fuel to the inhabitants
of Dumfries and its neighbourhood, nor have they yet ceased to avail
themselves of its ready stores.

In 1782 Pennant examined one of these rude barks formed from the trunk
of an oak, which he thus describes: "Near a place called Kilblain, I
met with one of the ancient canoes of the primeval inhabitants of the
country, when it was probably in the same state of nature as Virginia
when first discovered by Captain Philip Amidas. The length of this
little vessel was eight feet eight inches, of the cavity six feet seven
inches, the breadth two feet, depth eleven inches, and at one end were
the remains of three pegs for the paddle. The hollow was made with fire
in the very manner that the Indians of America formed their canoes.
Another was found in 1736, with its paddle, in the same morass. The
last was seven feet long, and dilated to a considerable breadth at
one end, so that in early ages necessity dictated the same inventions
to the most remote regions."[30] In 1791 the minister of the parish
describes another found by a farmer while digging for peats, at a depth
of between four and five feet from the surface, and four miles from
the highest reach of the tide, resting apparently on the alluvial soil
which is there found beneath the moss. Near to the same spot a vessel
of mixed metal, and apparently of great antiquity, was recovered, and
numerous relics of various kinds, including what are described as
anchors, oars, and other naval implements, have been found even at a
distance of twelve miles from the present flood-mark--attesting at once
the former populousness of the district, and the very remote period to
which these evidences of its occupation belong.[31] At a depth of seven
or eight feet in the Moss of Barnkirk, in the immediate neighbourhood
of Newton-Stewart, Wigtonshire, another canoe of the same character as
those already described, was dug up in 1814, and has been preserved,
owing to its being converted by the farmer into the lintel of one of
his cart-sheds. Mr. Joseph Train mentions having seen "a ball of fat
or bannock of tallow, weighing twenty-seven pounds,"[32] found in the
moss immediately above the canoe; and which no doubt was a mass of
adipocere, indicating the spot where some large animal had perished
in the moss: possibly sinking along with the rude British vessel that
lay below. On the draining of Carlinwark Loch, Kirkcudbright, in 1765,
a stone dam, an ancient causeway constructed on piles of oak, the
vestiges of an iron forge, and other remarkable evidences of human
industry and skill, were brought to light, including various canoes,
described, like those of Lochar Moss and others found in Merton Mere,
as apparently hollowed by fire.[33]

The Loch of Doon in Ayrshire, has at different periods furnished
similar relics of ancient naval art. The fall of its waters in 1832,
owing to an unusually protracted drought, permitted the recovery of two
of these in a perfect state, one of them measuring about twenty-three
feet in length, formed of a single oak tree, with the insertion of an
upright plank into a broad groove for the stern. Numerous other relics
of canoes were found to be imbedded in the same place; and the head
of an ancient battle axe, a rude oak club, with other remains, gave
further clue to the character of their builders.[34]

Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire, has furnished similar canoes, accompanied
by other relics of various eras--a brass ladle or patera, with an
elegant handle terminating with a ram's head, probably Roman; and
a very fine brass cannon, marked J. R. S. (5?) an antiquity of
comparatively modern date.[35]

Five fathoms deep in the Carse of Falkirk, a complete boat was
discovered, not far from the town, and therefore remote from any
navigable water.[36] Sir John Clerk, well known as an enthusiastic
Scottish antiquary of last century, describes with great minuteness
another vessel found in the same locality, more remarkable from its
size and construction than any of those yet described, and which he
pronounces, from the series of superincumbent strata, to have been _an
antediluvian boat_! In the month of May 1726 a sudden rise of the river
Carron undermined a portion of its banks, and exposed to view the side
of this ancient boat lying imbedded in the alluvial soil, at a depth
of fifteen feet from the surface, and covered by successive strata
of clay, shells, moss, sand, and gravel. The proprietor immediately
ordered it to be dug out. It proved to be a canoe of primitive form,
but of larger dimensions than any other discovered to the north of
the Tweed. It measured thirty-six feet long by four feet in extreme
breadth, and is described in a contemporary newspaper as finely
polished and perfectly smooth both inside and outside, formed from a
single oak tree, with the usual pointed stem and square stern.[37]
Mingling with such indisputable traces of human art, are deposited the
memorials of many successive changes. Among older relics of the same
Carse, in the Edinburgh Museum, are the remains of a fossil elephant
found in excavating the Union Canal in 1821, at a depth of some twenty
feet in the alluvial soil, with the ivory in such perfect preservation
that it was purchased and cut up by a turner, and only rescued in
fragments from his lathe.[38]

But at higher levels in the valley of the Forth, and further from the
sea, still more remarkable evidences of the primitive occupants of the
country have been found. The ingenious operations by which the Blair
Drummond moss has been converted into fertile fields have rendered it
famous in the annals of modern engineering and agriculture. In the
Carse lands, of which it forms a part, there was discovered in the year
1819, at a distance of a mile from the river, and in an alluvial soil,
covered with a thin moss, the surface of which stood some twenty-five
feet above the full tide of the Forth, the skeleton of a whale, with
a perforated lance or harpoon of deer's horn beside it. A few years
later another whale was found, and in 1824 a third was disclosed on
the Blair Drummond estate seven miles further inland, and overlaid
with a thick bed of moss. Beside it also lay the rude harpoon of the
hardy Caledonian whaler; in this instance retaining, owing to the
preservative nature of the moss, some remains of the wooden handle by
which the pointed lance of deer's horn was wielded.[39] This primitive
relic is now deposited, along with the fossil remains of the whale,
whose death-wound it may have given, in the Natural History Museum
of the Edinburgh University. Professor Owen remarks, in referring to
this class of fossils,--"Although these depositories belong to very
recent periods in geology, the situations of the cetaceous fossils
generally indicate a gain of dry land from the sea. Thus the skeleton
of a balænoptera, seventy-two feet in length, found imbedded in clay on
the banks of the Forth, was more than twenty feet above the reach of
the highest tide. Several bones of a whale discovered at Dunmore rock,
Stirlingshire, in brick-earth, were nearly forty feet above the present
level of the sea.... I might add other instances of the discovery of
cetaceous remains in positions to which, in the present condition of
the dry land of England, the sea cannot reach; yet the soil in which
these remains are imbedded is alluvial or amongst the most recent
formation. In most cases the situation indicates the former existence
there of an estuary that has been filled up by deposits of the present
sea, or the bottom of which has been upheaved."[40] Other relics
besides those of the whale and the implement of its hardy assailant,
were recovered in the course of removing the Blair Drummond moss.
In the collection of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, a rude
querne or hand-mill for pounding grain is preserved, fashioned from the
section of an oak tree, which was found in 1831, at a depth of nearly
five feet, in this moss. A wooden wheel of ingenious construction
is also in the collection, which was dug up at more than double the
depth of the querne, in the same locality, accompanied with several
well-formed arrow-heads of flint. It measured when complete about two
feet in diameter; but it is greatly decayed, having shrunk and cracked
since its removal from the moss.[41]

Other relics, though belonging apparently to a later period, may be
noticed along with these. In the progress of improvements on the
Kincardine moss, the remains of a singular roadway were discovered,
after the peat moss had been removed to a depth of eight feet. Seventy
yards of the ancient viaduct were exposed to view, formed of trees
about twelve inches in diameter, having other trees of half this
thickness crossing them, and brushwood covering the whole. This road
crossed the moss of Kincardine northward, from a narrow part of the
Forth, towards a well-known line of Roman road which has been traced
from a ford on the river Teith to Camelon, on the Antonine wall.
This singular structure, though so unlike anything usually found
on the line of the legionary iters, has been assigned, with great
probability, to Roman workmanship, as it appears to be designed to
keep up a communication with the well-known station at Ardoch. But if
so, we have here evidence of the fact that in the second century of
our era the Kincardine moss was an unstable and boggy waste, which the
Roman engineer could only pass by abandoning his favourite and durable
causeway, for such a road as modern ingenuity has revived in the
backwood swamps of America.

Such are some of the ancient chronicles of Scotland garnered for us
in the eastern valley of the Forth. The banks of the Clyde have been
scarcely less liberal in their disclosures. In 1780, the first recorded
discovery of one of the primitive canoes of the Clyde was made by
workmen engaged in digging the foundation of Old St. Enoch's Church. It
was found at a depth of twenty-five feet from the surface, and within
it there lay a no less interesting and eloquent memorial of the simple
arts of the remote era when the navies of the Clyde were hewn out of
the oaks of the Caledonian forests. This is a beautifully-finished
stone celt, represented in the woodcut--doubtless one of the simple
implements of its owner, if not, indeed, one of the tools with which
such vessels were fashioned into shape; though it is undoubtedly more
adapted for war than for any peaceful art. It measures 5½ inches
in length, by 3⅗ inches in greatest breadth; and is apparently
formed of dark greenstone. It is now in the possession of Charles
Wilsone Brown, Esq., of Wemyss, Renfrewshire, having descended to him
from a maternal relative who chanced to be passing at the time of the
discovery, and secured the curious relic.[42] The excavations of the
following year brought a second canoe to light, at a higher level, and
still further removed from the modern river's bed. Close to the site of
Glasgow's ancient City Cross, and immediately adjoining what was once
the Tolbooth of the burgh--more memorable from the fancied associations
with which genius has endowed it, than for the stern realities of human
misery which were its true attributes--there stands a quaint, but not
inelegant building, adorned with an arcade curiously decorated with
grim or grotesque masks on the keystone of each arch. It was erected
on the site of older and less substantial tenements, in the year 1781;
and in digging for a foundation for it, in a stratum of laminated clay
that lies beneath a thick bed of sand, another primitive British canoe
was discovered, hollowed as usual out of a single trunk of oak.[43]
Another is noted to have been found about 1824, in Stockwell, near
Jackson Street, while cutting the common sewer; and a fourth, at a much
higher level, on the slope of Drygate Street, immediately behind the
prison.[44] In 1825 a fifth canoe was discovered, scarcely an hundred
yards from the site of the former at the City Cross, when digging the
sewer of London Street--a new thoroughfare opened up by the demolition
of ancient buildings long fallen to decay. This boat, which measured
about eighteen feet in length, exhibited unusual evidences of labour
and ingenuity. It was built of several pieces of oak, though without
ribs. It lay, moreover, in a singular position, nearly vertical, and
with its prow uppermost, as if it had foundered in a storm.


To these older instances recent and large additions have been made.
The earlier discoveries seem to point to a period when the whole
lower level on the north side of the river, where the chief trade and
manufactures of Scotland are now transacted, was submerged beneath
the sea. What follows affords similar evidence in relation to the
southern bank of the Clyde. Extensive operations have been carrying
on there for some years for the purpose of enlarging the harbour of
Glasgow, and providing a range of quays on the grounds of Springfield,
corresponding to those on the older Broomielaw. There, at a depth of
seventeen feet below the surface, and about 130 feet from the river's
original brink, the workmen uncovered an ancient canoe, hewn out
of the trunk of an oak, with pointed stem, and the upright groove
remaining which had formerly held in its place the straight stern.
The discovery was made in the autumn of 1847; and the citizens of
Glasgow having for the most part a reasonable conviction that boats
lose their value in proportion to their age, the venerable relic lay
for some months unheeded, until at length the Society of Antiquaries
of Scotland made application for it to the Trustees of the River
Clyde, and the rude precursor of the fleets that now crowd that noble
river is safely deposited in their museum. Meanwhile the excavators
proceeded with their labours, and in the following year another, and
then a third canoe of primitive form, were disclosed on the southern
bank of the Clyde. One of these, which has been since removed to the
Hunterian Museum, measures 19⅓ feet long, by 3½ feet wide at the
stern, 2 feet 9½ inches wide midway, and 30 inches deep. The prow
is rather neatly formed with a small cut-water, near to which is an
oblong hole, apparently for running a rope through to anchor or secure
the vessel. There had been an outrigger, which was described by the
workmen as adhering to it when first discovered, and the holes remain
for receiving the pins by which it was fastened. About the centre are
small rests inside the gunwale for the ends of a cross seat, and others
for a broader seat are at the stern, both being projections formed by
leaving the wood when the trunk was originally hollowed out into a
boat. In this example the stern remains nearly in a perfect state. It
consists of a board inserted in vertical grooves cut in each side, and
received into a horizontal groove across, beyond which the bottom and
sides project about eight inches. The other of these two canoes was
chiefly remarkable for a circular hole in the bottom, stopped by a plug
imbedded in very tenacious clay, evidently designed to admit of water
shipped being run off when it was on shore. But the most curious, and
indeed puzzling fact in regard to it, is that this plug is not of oak
but of _cork_--a discovery suggestive of inquiries not easily answered

In the month of September 1849 a fourth canoe was found at Springfield,
at a depth of about 20 feet from the surface, and in the same bed
of finely laminated clay as those already described. This, too, is
hollowed out of the single trunk of an oak, only thirteen feet in
length, but on either side of it lay two additional planks of curious
construction, each of them pierced with an elongated hole, which
appeared to have been made with some sharp tool. They indicate some
ingenious contrivance of the ancient seaman, not improbably designed
for use when the bold navigator ventured with his tiny barque into the
open sea, to be applied somewhat in the way a Dutch lugger fends off
the dashing waves from her lee. This boat differs from those previously
discovered, in having a rounded bow both fore and aft. In some respects
it might seem to be the most ancient of the whole, and could hardly
accommodate more than one man. Its workmanship is extremely rude,
and it bears obvious marks of having been hollowed by fire. Yet the
wooden appendages found alongside of it suffice to prove that its
maker was not unprovided with some efficient tools. Thus, within a
comparatively brief period, nine ancient canoes have been found within
this limited area, affording singular evidence that in the earliest
ages in which the presence of a human population is discoverable, we
also find abundant proofs of the art of navigation, where now space
fails to accommodate the merchant fleets of the Clyde. To these notices
may be added the discovery of the remains of an ancient boat of more
artificial construction, which was dug up, about the year 1830, at
Castlemilk, Lanarkshire. It measured ten feet long, by two broad, and
was built of oak, secured by large wooden pins.[46]

Nearly at the same time as the latest disclosures in the valley of the
Clyde, workmen cutting a drain on the farm of Kinaven, Aberdeenshire,
discovered another ancient boat of the same form as most of those
previously described, and measuring eleven feet long, by nearly four
broad. It is hewn out of the solid oak, with pointed stem, and at the
stern a projection formed in the piece, and pierced with an eye, as
if to attach a mooring cable. Like the Glasgow canoes, it is rudely
finished, and exhibits the rough marks of the instrument with which
it was reduced to shape. It lay imbedded in the moss, at a depth of
five feet, at the head of a small ravine; and near it were found
the stumps and roots of several large oaks. The nearest stream, the
Ythan, is several miles off, and the sea is distant many more. A few
years previous to this discovery, a similar canoe, of still smaller
dimensions, was dug up in the moss of Drumduan, in the same county. It
is described as quite entire, and neatly formed out of a single block
of oak; but being left exposed, it was broken by the rude handling of
some idle herd-boys.[47]

Such are a few examples of the aboriginal fleets of ancient Caledonia,
found at different dates, and in various localities, yet agreeing
wonderfully in every essential element of comparison. With them might
also be noted the frequent discovery in bogs, or in alluvial strata,
of trees felled by artificial means, and accompanied with relics of
the most primitive arts. In 1830, for example, workmen engaged in
constructing a sewer in Church Street, Inverness, found at a depth
of fourteen feet below the surface, in a stratum of stiff blue clay,
numerous large trunks of fossil oak; and along with these several
deer's horns, one of which, bearing unmistakable marks of artificial
cutting, is now deposited in the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries
of Scotland.[48] Here surely is common ground for the antiquary and
the geologist. The rude harpoon left beside the bones of the stranded
whale, far up in the alluvial valley of the Forth: the oaken querne,
the wheel and the arrow-heads: the boats beneath the City Cross of
Glasgow, the centre of a busy population for the last thousand years:
the primitive ship, as we may almost term the huge canoe on the
banks of the Carron: and the tiny craft just found near the waters
of the Ythan--all speak, in no doubtful language, of the presence
of a human population, at a period when the geographical features
of the country, and the relative levels of land and sea, must have
differed very remarkably from what we know of them at the earliest
ascertained epoch of definite history. They point to a time within the
historic era, when the ocean tides ebbed and flowed over the carse of
Stirling, at a depth sufficient to admit of the gambols of the whale,
where now a child might ford the brawling stream; and when the broad
estuary of the Clyde flung its waves to the shore, not far from the
high ground where the first cathedral of St. Mungo was founded, A.D.
560. These evidences of population, prior to the latest geological
changes which have affected the surface of the country, are indeed all
found on old historic ground, according to the reckonings of written
chronicles. The first of them, in the south country, have been met
with in localities where the traces of Roman invasion in the second
century remain uneffaced. The carse of Falkirk is still indented with
the vallum of the Antonine wall. Its modern church preserves the old
tablet, which assigned to the ancient structure on its site a date
coeval with the founding of Scottish monarchy under Malcolm Canmore;
and the broad level ground, which has disclosed evidence of such
remarkable changes, alike in natural features and in national arts and
manners, was the battle-field of Wallace in the thirteenth century, as
of Prince Charles Edward and the Highland clansmen in the eighteenth
century. Trivet thus refers to the carse of Falkirk, in describing
the invasion of Edward I., thereby affording curious evidence of its
state at the former period,--"Causantibus majoribus _loca palustria_,
propter brumalem intemperiem, immeabilia esse;" on which Lord Hailes
remarks--"The meaning seems to be, that the English could not arrive
at Stirling without passing through some of the carse grounds, and
that they were impracticable for cavalry at that season of the
year."[49] Nor are the historic associations of the broad carse which
the Forth has intertwined with its silver links a whit behind those
of the vale of Carron. There, in all probability, Agricola marshalled
the Roman legions for his sixth campaign, and watched the mustering
of the army of Galgacus on the heights beyond. The ever memorable
field of Bannockburn adds a sacred interest to the same soil. There,
too, are the scenes of James III.'s mysterious death on the field of
Stirling, and of successive operations of Montrose, Cromwell, Mar, and
Prince Charles. But the oldest of these events, long regarded as the
beginnings of history, are modern occurrences, when placed alongside of
such as we now refer to. Guiding his team across the "bloody field,"
as the scene of English slaughter is still termed, the ploughman turns
up the craw-foot, the small Scottish horse-shoe, and the like tokens
of the memorable day when Edward's chivalry was foiled by the Scottish
host. Penetrating some few feet lower with his spade, he finds the
evidences of former changes in the level of land and sea, but with them
stumbles also on the relics of coeval population. Lower down he will
reach the stratified rocks, including the carboniferous formation,
stored no less abundantly with relics of former life and change, but
no longer within the historic period, or pertaining to the legitimate
investigations of archæological science, unless in so far as they
confirm its previous inductions, and prove the slow but well defined
progress of the more recent geological changes on the earth's surface.
Such reflections are not suggested for the first time in our own day,
nor will a shallow part satisfy those who have gone thus far. "Nature
hath furnished one part of the earth, and man another. The treasures
of time lie high, in urns, coins, and monuments, scarce below the
roots of some vegetables. Time hath endless rarities, and shows of all
varieties, which reveals old things in heaven, makes new discoveries
in earth, and even earth itself a discovery. That great antiquity,
America, lay buried for thousands of years, and a large part of the
earth is still in the urn unto us."[50]

Some of these historic phenomena which are indicated above required
only time to produce them. The beds of sand and loam at Springfield,
in which the ancient fleets of the Clyde have lain entombed for ages,
are such as the slow depositions of winter floods will for the most
part account for, if the chronologist can only spare for them the
requisite centuries. Others seem to point to geological changes within
the historic era, of a more remarkable and extensive character. These
it is not our province to explain. Whether the geologist find it most
consistent with the established laws of his science to assume the
standing of the whole ocean at higher levels within so recent a period,
or adopt the more probable theory of local upheaval and denudation to
account for these phenomena, this at least must be conceded, that the
lapse of many ages is required for the changes which they indicate,
and we can hardly err in inferring that civilisation had advanced but
a little way on the plain of Nimroud, or the banks of the Nile, when
the tiny fleets of the Clyde were navigating its estuary, and the hardy
fishermen were following the whale in the winding creeks of the Forth.


[30] Pennant's Tour, vol. ii. p. 107.

[31] Sinclair's Stat. Acc. vol. i. p. 160.

[32] New Stat. Acc. vol. iv. Wigtonshire, p. 179.

[33] Sinclair's Stat. Acc. vol. viii. p. 305. New Stat. Acc. vol. iv.,
Kirkcudbrightshire, p. 155.

[34] Archæologia Scotica, vol. iv. p. 299.

[35] Sinclair's Stat. Acc. vol. xv. p. 68.

[36] Beauties of Scotland, vol. iii. p. 419.

[37] Bibliotheca Topog. Britan., No. II. Part III. p. 242.

[38] Wernerian Trans. vol. iv. p. 58.

[39] Wernerian Trans. vol. v. p. 44.

[40] Brit. Fossil Mammals, p. 542.

[41] _Vide_ Wern. Trans. vol. iii. p. 125, for the characteristic
remains included in the recent alluvial formation of the valley of the

[42] For access to this interesting relic, as well as for much other
valuable information, I am indebted to John Buchanan, Esq., of Glasgow.

[43] Chapman's Picture of Glasgow, 1818, p. 152.

[44] Chambers's Ancient Sea Margins, pp. 203-209.

[45] MS. Letters of J. Buchanan, Esq.

[46] New Statist. Acc. vol. vi. p. 601.

[47] New Statistical Account, vol. xii. p. 1059.

[48] MS. Letter of Lieut. Claudius Shaw, R.N. Lib. Soc. Antiq. Scot.,
April 19, 1833.

[49] Annals, vol. i. p. 266.

[50] Sir Thomas Browne's Hydriotaphia.



The raising of sepulchral mounds of earth or stone to mark the last
resting-place of the loved or honoured dead may be traced in all
countries to the remotest periods. Their origin is to be sought for
in the little heap of earth displaced by interment, which still to
thousands suffices as the most touching memorial of the dead. In a rude
and primitive age, when the tomb of the great warrior or patriarchal
chief was to be indicated by some more remarkable token, the increase
of the little earth-mound, by the united labours of the community,
into the form of a gigantic barrow, would naturally suggest itself as
the readiest and fittest mark of distinction. In its later circular
forms we see the rude type of the great Pyramids of Egypt, no less
than of the lesser British moat-hills and other native-earth-works,
until at length, when the aspiring builders were rearing the gigantic
monoliths of Avebury, they constructed, amid the tumuli of the
neighbouring downs, the earth-pyramid of Silbury Hill, measuring 170
feet in perpendicular height, and covering an area of five acres and
thirty-four perches of land.

Priority has been given to the primitive relics of naval skill, which
the later alluvial strata of Scotland supply, for reasons sufficiently
obvious, and pertaining exclusively to the antiquities of our insular
home. But for the surest traces of primitive arts and a defined
progress in civilisation, the archæologist will generally turn with
greater propriety to the grave-mounds of the ancient race whose history
he seeks to recover; for, however true be "the words of the preacher,"
in the sense in which he uttered them, there is both device, and
knowledge, and instruction in the grave, for those who seek there the
records of the dead. This fact is in itself an eloquent one in the
evidence it furnishes, that in that dim and long forgotten past, of
which we are seeking to recover the records, man was still the same,
"of like passions with ourselves," vehement in his anger, and no less
passionate in unavailing sorrow.

No people, however rude or debased be their state, have yet been met
with so degraded to the level of the brutes as to entertain no notion
of a Supreme Being, or no anticipation of a future state. Some more
or less defined idea of a retributive future is found in the wildest
savage creed, developing itself in accordance with the rude virtues to
which the barbarian aspires. While the luxurious Asiatic dreams of the
sensual joys of his Mohammedan elysium, the Red Indian warrior looks
forward to the range of ampler hunting-grounds, and the enjoyment of
unfailing victory on the war-path. All, however, anticipate a corporeal
participation in tangible joys, and, to the simpler mind of the
untutored savage, affection dictates the provision of means to supply
the first requisites of this new state of being. Hence the bow and
spear, the sword, shield, and other implements of war and the chase,
laid beside the rude cinerary urn, or deposited in the cist with the
buried chief. Refinement, which added to the wants and acquirements
of the warrior, in like manner furnished new means for affection to
lavish on the loved or honoured dead. Personal ornaments were added to
the indispensable weapons, that the hero might not only stand at no
disadvantage amid the novel scenes into which he had passed, but that
he might also assume the insignia of rank and distinction which were
his right. The feelings prompting to such tributes of affectionate
sorrow are innate and indestructible. They manifest themselves under
varied forms in every state of social being, and may be readily traced
amid the struggle for decorous and costly sepulchral honours, no
less universal now than in the long forgotten era of the tumulus and
cinerary urn.

From the contents of the tumuli we are able partially to apply to
them a relative system of chronology, the accuracy of which appears
to be satisfactorily borne out. No archæologist has yet done for any
district of Scotland what the intelligent research of Sir Richard
Colt Hoare effected for Wiltshire. No other single district, indeed,
offers the same tempting field for the study, and few archæologists
possess his ample means for carrying out such investigations. He
has adopted a subdivision, which distinguishes fourteen different
kinds of barrows, classified according to their shape, and furnishes
a systematic nomenclature, which is of general avail. Observations
since carried out over a more extensive field enable us in some degree
to modify this system, and reduce the number of true barrows, while
even of these some are probably only the result of accident, or of
the caprice of individual taste. The following are the best defined
among the varieties noted by Sir R. C. Hoare:--1. The long barrow,
resembling a gigantic grave; 2. The bowl barrow, from its similarity to
an inverted bowl; 3. The bell barrow; 4. The twin barrow, consisting of
two adjacent tumuli, one of them generally larger than the other, and
both inclosed in one fosse or vallum; 5. The Druid barrow, generally
a broad and low tumulus, surrounded by a vallum. The last name was
given on insufficient evidence by Dr. Stukely, Sir R. C. Hoare's
predecessor in investigating the antiquities of Wiltshire. The latter
has subdivided the class into three varieties, and there seems some
reason to think that such indicate the place of interment of females;
but more extensive observation is required to establish so interesting
an inference. The remaining distinctions appear to be either
accidental, or referring to earth-works, certainly not sepulchral.
Among this last are the "pond barrows," hereafter referred to as the
remains of primitive dwellings, and the conical mounds or moat-hills,
of which Silbury Hill is probably the largest in the world, designed
as the lofty tribunal where the arch-priest or chief administered,
and frequently executed, the rude common law of the northern races.
The laborious excavations carried out under the direction of the
Archæological Institute during the Salisbury Congress in 1849, have at
least put an end to any ideas of Silbury Hill being a sepulchral mound.

Much similarity is naturally to be expected between the primitive
antiquities of England and Scotland, where the imaginary border land
that so long formed the marches between rival nations presents no real
barrier calculated to interpose an impediment to the free interchange
of knowledge or arts. Nevertheless there are many of those distinctive
peculiarities observable in Scotland which are well calculated to
encourage further investigation, though, for the purposes of a just and
logical distinction, the Scottish archæologist ought to include the
ancient kingdom of Northumbria within the region of his researches, and
draw his comparisons between the antiquities found to the north and the
south of the great wall of Severus.

The barrows of Scotland, in so far as they have yet been carefully
observed, may be described as consisting of the Long Barrow; the Bowl
Barrow; the Bell Barrow; the Conoid Barrow; the Crowned Barrow--such
as that of Stoneranda in Birsa--with one or more standing stones
set upon it; the Inclosed Barrow, a circular tumulus of the usual
proportions, and most frequently also conoid in form, but environed
by an earthen vallum; and the Encircled Barrow, generally of large
proportions, and surrounded by a circle of standing stones. The two
latter are of frequent occurrence in Scotland. The evidence of their
contents indicates that they belong to a comparatively late era, and
their correspondence to some of the most common sepulchral memorials of
Norway and Sweden suggests the probability of a Scandinavian origin.
The twin barrow, with its enclosing vallum, as described by Sir R. C.
Hoare, and still to be seen in Wiltshire, does not, I think, occur in
Scotland. But it is not uncommon to find a large and smaller tumulus
placed near together, and these pairs occur so frequently, especially
in Orkney, that I incline to apply to them meanwhile the term of twin
barrows, believing them to have more than an accidental relation to
each other. This is a point, however, which can only be satisfactorily
settled by the most careful examination of their contents. In the
parish of Holm in Orkney, there is a cluster of eight tumuli of
different sizes, all inclosed within one earthen vallum. Another group
consists of one large and three smaller tumuli, surrounded by a double
ditch, with the remains of a third on one side; and occasionally
clusters of tumuli, though without any inclosing work, suggest the
probability of their vicinity being the result of design. Another
arrangement is also deserving of note, where a group of eight or nine
of these earth-mounds occur forming a continuous chain, in a nearly
straight line, and separated from one another by regular intervening
spaces. Whatever appears to indicate design in these primitive
structures is worthy of study. Wherever we can trace the motives of
their constructors, we recover some clue to the character and history
of the race.

The remarkable cluster of monolithic groups and earth-works at Stennis
in Orkney, includes a variety of sepulchral mounds, probably belonging
to very different periods. Scattered around the great circle, or Ring
of Broidgar, as it is commonly called, there are many tumuli differing
considerably in size and form, but all known to the peasants under the
general title of the Knowes of Broidgar. The dimensions of some of the
largest of these were taken, during the recent Admiralty Survey, by
Lieutenant F. W. L. Thomas, R.N., the intelligent officer in command,
to whom I am indebted for the use of valuable notes of observations on
the antiquities of Orkney:--

"The most remarkable tumulus, which is of elliptical shape, stands at
the shore of the north or fresh-water loch. It measures one hundred
and twelve feet long by sixty-six feet broad. The level ridge on the
top measures twenty-two feet in length, and its height is nearly the
same. It has been greatly destroyed by excavators at some former
period. Near to it is a small standing stone. No other tumulus of
this shape exists in Orkney. A large conoid tumulus, fifty feet in
radius and twenty-eight feet in height, stands to the westward of
the great circle, also pillaged at some former time; and in the same
neighbourhood are ten smaller tumuli of various dimensions. Five of
these are of equal size: radius six feet, height three feet, and only
from two to three feet apart; four of them in a line."

Besides these, there stands, at a short distance to the northward of
the elliptical tumulus, and near the shore, another large earth-work
of peculiar form, which can hardly be more definitely described than
by comparing it to a colossal plum-cake. It rises perpendicularly five
feet, and is nearly flat on the top, assuming the form of a greatly
depressed cone, the apex of which is nine feet high. The radius of the
whole measures thirty-one feet. This mound, however, is most probably
not sepulchral, but rather the platform on which a building of wood
had been reared, though its present symmetrical form may render this
doubtful. The Ring of Bookan, in the same neighbourhood, appears to
be a similar platform, but it is inclosed with an earthen vallum,
and exhibits abundant traces of ruined works on its irregular area.
Various other, though less regular mounds, of this character, occur in
Orkney. The burgh of Culswick is represented as having stood on such a
platform, the shape of which nearly corresponded with that of Stennis
when drawn in 1774, but the materials of this venerable ruin have since
furnished a quarry for the neighbouring cottars.[51] It is exceedingly
doubtful if the larger tumuli in the neighbourhood of the great circle
of Stennis would now repay the labour of exploring them. They exhibit,
as has been observed, abundant traces of former investigation; and
there is good reason to believe that most, if not all of them, have
already been spoiled of their historic contents.

Wallace remarks, in his Description of Orkney:--"In one of these
hillocks, near the circle of high stones at the north end of the Bridge
of Stennis, there were found nine fibulæ of silver, of the shape of
a horse-shoe, but round."[52] Unfortunately the dimensions of these
silver relics are not given; but from the engraving of one of them, it
seems more likely that they consisted chiefly of gorgets, though, in
all probability, including a variety of objects of great interest. But
the view of the great circle of Stennis, which accompanies that of the
fibula found in its neighbourhood, is sufficient to satisfy the most
credulous how little faith can be put in the engravings.

The most numerous and remarkable of all the Scottish sepulchral mounds,
both for number and size, are the stone tumuli or CAIRNS, many of
which are works of great labour and considerable skill. These singular
monumental pyramids are by no means to be accounted for from any local
peculiarities furnishing a ready supply of loose stones. They abound
in almost every district of the country, and are frequently of much
larger dimensions than the earthen tumuli, though the nature of their
materials has led to the destruction of many of them in the progress
of inclosing lands for agricultural purposes. We learn from the Book
of Joshua of the practice of raising heaps of stone over the dead
as a mark of indignity or abhorrence. The contents of the Scottish
sepulchral cairns, however, prove for them an altogether different
origin, as will appear when we come to review them in detail. They are
generally designed on a larger scale than the earthen tumuli, and must
have ranked at a remote period among the most distinguished honours
awarded to the illustrious dead.

Another remarkable, though much rarer sepulchral monument, is the
Cromlech, or "Druidical altar," as it was long erroneously termed,
until archæologists, abandoning theory for observation, discovered
that these huge monolithic structures invariably marked the sites of
ancient sepulture. Similar primitive colossal structures are found,
not only throughout the whole British Isles, but in many parts of
the continent of Europe, and are occasionally discovered, like the
slighter cist, entombed beneath the earth-pyramid or tumulus, affording
thereby singular evidence of the unostentatious liberality with which
the honours of the dead were rendered in the olden time to which they

The Wiltshire of Scotland, in so far as the mere number of sepulchral
mounds, along with monolithic groups and other aboriginal structures,
can constitute this distinction, is the mainland of Orkney, with one
or two of the neighbouring isles. Few of their contents, however,
have proved of the same valuable character as those which have
been discovered not only in Aberdeenshire, Fifeshire, and some of
the southern Lowland counties, but also in the Western Isles. We
are therefore led to infer that the population of Orkney has been
little more distinguished for wealth, or great advancement in the
arts, during its earlier history than in more recent times. Abundant
evidence, however, testifies to the occupation of these islands by a
human population at a very remote era, and no Scottish locality ever
furnished a greater variety of interesting relics of the primeval
period. In the single parish of Sandwick, near Stromness, upwards of
an hundred tumuli of different sizes have been observed, many of which
have been recently opened, and their contents described. In the parish
of Orphir, in like manner, considerable research has been made into the
character and contents of these ancient memorials; while throughout
nearly the whole of the neighbouring islands, the mosses and moors
which have escaped the obliterating inroads of the ploughshare, are
covered with similar monumental heaps.

It is not to be doubted that such relics of ancient population were
once no less common throughout the whole mainland of Scotland, and
especially in the fertile districts of the low country, where the
earliest traces of a numerous population may reasonably be sought for.
A sufficient number still remain in Fife and the Lothians, as well as
in the southern counties, to afford means of comparison with other
localities; while numerous discoveries of cists, urns, and ancient
implements, leave no room to doubt that the same race once occupied
the whole island, and practised similar arts and rites in the long
cultivated districts of the low country, as in the remotest of the
northern or western isles.

It is not improbable that extended observation may justify a more
minute classification of the primitive sepulchral monuments of
Scotland than has been attempted above, and may establish a relative
chronological arrangement of them on a satisfactory basis. With our
present imperfect knowledge, any theoretic system would only embarrass
future inquiry. But meanwhile it may assist in forming a basis for
further operations, to note the following attempts at systematic
arrangement from such data as are available.

1. The Scottish long barrow, which is generally somewhat depressed
in the centre, and more elevated towards one end than the other, may
be assumed with little hesitation as one of the earliest forms of
sepulchral earth-works. It is now comparatively rare. As the work of
a thinly scattered population, it is probable that examples of it
were never very numerous, and of these we may perhaps assume that
the greater number have been gradually obliterated by structures of
more recent date. So far as I am aware, no metallic implements have
ever been found in the Scottish long barrow. Examples of pottery are
also of very rare occurrence, and it is doubtful if any of these
have furnished instances of the presence of the cinerary urn and its
imperfectly burned contents in the primeval sepulchres. It is rather
indeed from the absence of traces of art or ingenuity that we may most
satisfactorily assign to this class of mounds the priority in point
of antiquity. The form of the long barrow seems in itself to suggest
the probability of an earlier origin than the circular tumulus, since
it is only an enlargement of the ordinary grave-mound which naturally
results from the displacement of the little space of earth occupied
by the body, and in this respect strikingly corresponds with the most
primitive ideas of a distinctive sepulchral memorial--a larger mound
to mark that of the chief or priest, from the encircling heaps of
common graves. In a long barrow opened in the neighbourhood of Port
Seaton, East-Lothian, in 1833, a skeleton was found laid at full length
within a rude cist. It indicated the remains of a man nearly seven
feet high, but the bones crumbled to dust soon after their exposure to
the air.[53] One of the largest Scottish earth-works of this primitive
form is that already referred to, situated on the margin of the loch
of Stennis, in the vicinity of the celebrated Orcadian Stonehenge. It
is the only long barrow on the mainland of Orkney, but its form and
proportions differ considerably from those commonly met with. It seems
probable that this belongs to a late era, and owes its origin to the
same Norwegian source as the neighbouring conoid earth pyramids that
tower above the bowl barrows of the aboriginal Orcadians.

At a very early date, undoubtedly within the primitive era to which
we give the name of the Stone Period, but apparently only towards
its close, the practice of cremation was introduced. This, however,
is one of the many points that must be left for final determination
when a greater number of accurate and trustworthy observations have
been accumulated. Meanwhile it may be assumed as unquestionable, that
simple inhumation is the most ancient of all modes of disposing of the
dead, and we possess abundant evidence of its use in this country,
apparently by the earliest colonists of whom any definite traces now
exist. We are not without proof that there was a long transition-period
after the remarkable change consequent on the acquisition of metals,
before the stone implements and arts were completely superseded by
those of bronze; and it is to this era we shall most probably have
to assign the first practice of cremation. Both the introduction of
the metallurgic arts and the change of sepulchral rites may indeed
be equally supposed to mark the influence, if not the advent, of a
new race. In nearly every state of society the burial of the dead is
associated with the most sacred tenets of religion, and its wonted
rites are among the very last to be affected by change. It accords
therefore with all analogy that the source of so remarkable a change
should come from without, and accompany other equally important social
revolutions. It will be seen in a succeeding chapter, that some of
the very rudest and apparently most primitive of cinerary urns yet
found in Scotland have been associated with undoubted proofs of their
connexion with the bronze period. But it has not hitherto been the
prevailing fault of British antiquaries to assign too remote an era to
the introduction of the funeral pile. It has rather been one of the
endless blunders springing from the too exclusively classical nature of
modern education, to assume for it a Roman origin, and to accept the
urn as an evidence of Roman influence and example, even where it was
owned to be the product of native art. If, however, we make sufficient
allowance for the poetical preference of the funeral fire and the
inurned ashes, rather than the simple and more common rite, and so
decline to receive some of the allusions of Virgil and Ovid as historic
evidence of the ancient usage of the former by the Romans, we shall
find good reason for inferring that the funeral pile should rank among
the later introductions of Roman luxury, derived in all probability
from the Greeks, by whom it was used at a very early period. The oldest
accounts indeed which we possess of the sepulchral honours of the
funeral pile, the urn, and the monumental tumulus, are the descriptions
of the funeral rites of Patroclus and Hector in the Iliad. The whole
circumstances are characterized by much simple grace and beauty:--the
burning of the body during the night, the libations of wine with which
the embers were quenched at the dawn, the inurning of the ashes of the
deceased, and the methodic construction of the pyramid of earth which
covered the sacred deposit, and preserved the memory of the honoured
dead.[54] The testimony of Pliny, on the contrary, is most distinct
as to the introduction of a similar practice among the Romans at a
comparatively late period.[55]

Independent of the consideration of Roman usage, it is unquestionable
that the funeral pile must have been in use in the British Isles for
many generations before the era of the Roman Invasion, if not indeed
before that of Rome's mythic founder. But the evidence of the Scottish
tumuli, while it proves the ancient practice of cremation, shows also
the contemporaneous custom of inhumation; nor is it possible, so far
as I can see, to determine from the amount of evidence yet obtained,
that one of these was esteemed more honourable than the other.[56] It
is not, indeed, uncommon for the larger tumuli to contain a single
cist, with the inhumed remains untouched by fire, and around it, at
irregular intervals, several cinerary urns, sometimes varying in size
and style, but all containing the half-burned bones and ashes of the
dead. The inference which such an arrangement suggests would seem to
point to inhumation as the more honourable rite; but even where either
inhumation or cremation has been the sole mode of disposing of the
bodies, we still detect obvious marks of distinction, and of superior
honours conferred on one or more of the occupants of the tumulus. In
one of the largest of a numerous group of tumuli near Stromness, in
Orkney, which was opened by the Rev. Charles Clouster, minister of
Sandwick, in 1835, evidences of six separate interments were found,
all so disposed on the original soil, and in contact with each other,
as scarcely to admit of doubt that the whole had taken place prior to
the formation of the earthen mound beneath which they lay. Two large
and carefully constructed cists occupied the centre, and contained
burnt bones, but without urns; while around these were four other
cists, extremely rude, and greatly inferior both in construction
and dimensions. In such we probably should recognise the family
cemetery,--the two larger and more important cists containing, it may
be, the chief and his wife, and the surrounding ones their children, or
favourite dependents, or perhaps their slaves.

One of the most interesting examples which have been accurately
observed of simple interment accompanied with urns and relics entirely
belonging to the primitive period, was discovered on the opening of a
small tumulus in the parish of Cruden, Aberdeenshire. Within it was
found a cist containing two skeletons nearly entire. One of these
was that of an adult, while the other appeared to have been a youth
of twelve or thirteen years of age, in addition to which there were
also portions of the skeleton of a dog. Beside them stood two rude
clay urns, slightly ornamented with encircling lines, but containing
no incinerated remains; and within the cist were found seven flint
arrow-heads, two flint knives, and a polished stone, similar to one now
in the Scottish Museum, which is described in a succeeding chapter. It
is slightly convex on one side, and concave on the other, with small
holes drilled at the four corners, by which it would seem to have
been attached, most probably, to the dress, as an article of personal
adornment. These curious relics are now in the collection of Adam
Arbuthnot, Esq., of Peterhead.

Cæsar relates of the Gauls that they burned their honoured dead,
consuming along with them not only the things they most esteemed when
alive, but also their dogs and horses, and their favourite servants
and retainers.[57] Without any reference to this remarkable passage,
it is scarcely possible to overlook the evidence which suggests the
idea of some such Suttee system having prevailed among the aboriginal
Britons, when observing the opening of a large tumulus, as it
discloses its group of cists or urns, or of both combined. It seems
hardly reconcilable with the general customs or ideas of a primitive
community, to suppose that the earthen pyramid was systematically
husbanded by its ancient builders like a modern family vault, or
disturbed anew for repeated interments, unless by those who had lost
all remembrance of its original object. Towards the close of the
Pagan era, and in that transition-period which extends in Scotland
from the fifth to about the ninth century, during which the rites of
the new faith were still blended with older Pagan customs, it was no
doubt different, and regular cemeterial tumuli are found, which must
have accumulated during a considerable period. These, however, differ
essentially from the earlier tumuli; and if we are to suppose the whole
group of urns or cists in the latter to have been deposited at once,
it is difficult to conceive of any other mode of accounting for this
than the one already suggested, which is so congenial to the ideas of
barbarian rank, and of earthly distinctions perpetuated beyond the
grave. Instances do indeed occur both of cists and urns found in large
tumuli near the surface, and so far apart from the main sepulchral
deposit as to induce the belief that they may have been inserted at a
subsequent period; while the large chambered tumuli and cairns must be
supposed to have been the burial-places of a tribe or sept. It must
not be overlooked that the tumuli are not, in general, to be regarded
as common graves, but as special monumental structures reserved alone
for the illustrious dead; among whom, no doubt, were reckoned those who
fell in battle, and over whom we may therefore conceive the surviving
victors to have erected those gigantic cairns which are occasionally
found to cover a multitude of the dead. But some of the Scottish cairns
which have been found only to inclose a solitary cist, must have
occupied the labour of months, and required the united exertions of a
numerous corps of workmen, to gather the materials, and pile them up
into such durable and imposing monuments.

The remembrance of how greatly the dead of a few generations outnumber
the living, would alone suffice to show that the tumuli could not be
common sepulchral mounds. Such a custom universally adopted for a
few generations in a populous district, would surpass the effects of
deluges and earthquakes, in the changes wrought by it on the natural
surface of the ground. The laws of Solon interdicted the raising
of tumuli on account of the extent of land they occupied; and the
Romans enacted the same prohibitory restrictions prior to the time of
Cicero. We are familiar with the common modes of British sepulture,
contemporaneous with the monumental tumulus; both the cist and the
urn being very frequently found without any artificial increase of
the superincumbent soil to mark the spot where they are deposited.
Their inhumation beneath the soil, as well as the frequent occurrence
of numbers together, point them out as the common and undistinguished
graves of the builders of the tumuli. Where the tumulus was to be
superimposed no such interment took place. The cist was constructed
on the natural surface of the soil, and over this, earth brought from
a distance--or occasionally cut away from the surface immediately
surrounding the chosen site, so as thereby to add to its height--was
heaped up and moulded into the accustomed form. In its progress the
accompanying urns were disposed, frequently with little attention to
regularity, in the inclosed area; nor is it uncommon to find along
with these the bones of domestic animals. In the later tumuli are
occasionally found the bronze bridle-bit and other horse furniture, and
sometimes teeth and bones, and even the entire skeleton of the horse.
The skeleton of the dog is still more frequently met with: and it is
to be regretted that in Scotland the fact has hitherto been recorded
without any minute observations being attempted on the skeleton, from
which to ascertain its species, and perhaps thereby trace the older
birthland of its master.[58] The Rev. Alexander Low, in a communication
laid before the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1815, refers
to the entire skeleton of a horse discovered interred between two
cists, where a large cairn had been demolished in the parish of
Cairnie, Aberdeenshire. Other examples will come under our notice, all
indicating the prevalence of the custom above referred to, so consonant
with barbarian ideas of rank, and with the rude conceptions of a future
state which still linger in parts of the Asiatic continent, where
the philologist has traced the evidences of a common origin with the
wandering tribes that found their way across the continent of Europe
and peopled the British Isles. This, however, in passing: the reader
will find no difficulty in separating fact from fancy when judging for

The Long Barrow has been stated to belong apparently to the rude
primeval period; but the number of examples which have been carefully
examined are still too few to admit of very positive conclusions being
assumed. A remarkable group of Scottish long barrows occurs in the
immediate neighbourhood of the Pass of Keltnie, Perthshire. One of them
was opened in 1837, and found to contain unburnt bones, along with
which were discovered several rude horn lance-heads and pieces of bone
artificially cut. The state of preservation in which these were, when
compared with the rapid decay of the human remains almost immediately
on their exposure to the air, opens up an interesting inquiry in
relation to these primitive sepulchral deposits. The very different
conditions in which the contiguous bones are found seem at first sight
incompatible with the idea of their having been deposited along with
the original occupants of the barrow. But the fragile texture of the
human skeleton, when compared with that of the lower animals, is well
known. Professor Goodsir informs me that his investigations have led
him to the direct conclusion that the bones of the lower animals decay
much less rapidly than those of man. The state of the skeletons of
dogs and horses found in the tumuli confirms this conclusion, which
is probably sufficiently accounted for by the greater delicacy of
structure characterizing the human osteology. But independently of
this, bone implements finished and deposited in a cist or tumulus in a
perfect state, would be much less directly exposed to the influences
affecting the skeleton amid the decomposition of the vascular tissues.
It may be noted along with these observations on early tumuli, that
a large conical cairn in the vicinity of the long barrows of Keltnie
was demolished in 1836. It contained eleven cists, several of which
inclosed cinerary urns, but no metallic relics were found in them.

The change to the circular tumulus is not accompanied with any
indications of alteration in the arts of its constructors. Stone
weapons and implements are of frequent occurrence in the latter,
and particularly in the bowl barrow, though no distinctive evidence
has yet been noted in relation to the most common forms of tumuli,
sufficiently marked to be resolved into any general rule, save the
very natural and obvious one, that the larger ones appear from their
contents to be the more important. It is manifest, however, that some
art was always exercised in giving to the tumulus an artificial form.
Neither the bowl nor the bell shape is that which earth naturally
assumes when thrown up into a heap. The form is therefore a matter
worthy of further observation, and may yet prove a legitimate basis of
stricter classification in reference to the era or race, than that now
attempted. The bell-shaped tumuli are not very common in Scotland, but
where they do occur they are generally of the larger class, though not
always distinguished by any marked peculiarity in their contents. Such
was found to be the case on opening the Black Knowe, which appears from
a drawing of it to be a bell-shaped tumulus, and is one of the most
remarkable for size in the parish of Rendale, Orkney. It was explored
in February 1849 by Mr. George Petrie, a zealous Orkney antiquary, in
company with Lieutenant Thomas, R.N., while engaged in the Admiralty
Survey. I am informed, however, by the latter, that its shape was by
no means uniform, and viewed from some points it differed little from
the common bowl barrow, of which it is computed that above two thousand
are still to be found scattered over the Orkney Islands alone. In the
centre and on a level with the natural surface of the soil, there was
found a small chamber or cist of undressed stones, measuring eighteen
by twelve inches, and containing only an extremely rude cinerary urn,
filled with bones and ashes mixed with clay.

Both the Enclosed and the Encircled Barrows are frequently of large
dimensions, and indicate by their contents that they belong to the
later era, when the metallurgic arts had been introduced. In various
instances the contents of the enclosed barrow, or tumulus surrounded
with an earthen vallum, clearly prove it to belong to the Roman era.
In one, for example, in the neighbourhood of Rutherglen, Lanarkshire,
which measured 260 feet in circumference, a gallery or long chamber
was discovered, constructed of unhewn stones, and containing, among
other relics, two brass vessels, which from the description appear to
have been Roman patellæ. On the handle of each of them was engraved the
name CONGALLUS or CONVALLUS. With these were deposited various native
relics, including a perforated stone and three large glass beads,
such as are frequently found in earlier British tumuli.[59] Examples,
however, are not wanting of the enclosed barrow with contents belonging
to an earlier period. One of such formed the largest of a group which
occupied the summit of one of the Cathkin hills in the parish of
Kilbride. It measured eighteen feet in height, and one hundred and
twenty feet in diameter, and bore the name of Queen Mary's Law, from
a popular tradition that the hapless Mary watched from its summit
the ebbing tide of her fortunes on the fatal field of Langside. This
interesting memorial, thus associated with two widely severed periods
of Scottish history, afforded building materials to the district for
many years, until in 1792 some workmen while employed in removing
stones from it, exposed to view a vault or chamber situated towards the
west side of the mound, and containing twenty-five rude cinerary urns.
They were placed, as is most usual in the earlier sepulchres, with
their mouths downward, and underneath each urn lay a piece of white
quartz. Exactly in the centre of the cairn a rude cist was discovered
measuring nearly four feet square, and among a quantity of human bones
which surrounded it were two rude fibulæ of mixed metal, and an armilla
or ring of cannel coal. Another fibula and an equally rude metal comb
were found in one of the urns.[60]

The Crowned and the Encircled Barrows closely resemble a class of
monuments which abound in Sweden and Denmark, while they are of rare
occurrence in England. In the "Samlingar för Nordens Fornälskare,"[61]
a variety of examples of both have been engraved; some of which have
a second circle of stones placed about half-way up the mound, and a
large standing stone on the summit. Such correspondence, however, is
not necessarily a proof of Scandinavian origin, nor do they occur
most frequently in districts of Scotland where the long residence
or frequent incursions of the Norwegians would lead us to expect
Scandinavian remains. In a large encircled barrow called Huly Hill,
opened in 1830, at Old Liston, a few miles to the west of Edinburgh, a
bronze spear-head was found along with a heap of animal charcoal and
small fragments of bones, but neither cist nor urn. A solitary standing
stone, measuring about nine and a half feet in height, occupies a
neighbouring field, a little to the east of it. Another barrow which
stood near the Abbey of Newbattle, East-Lothian, was of a conical form,
measuring thirty feet in height, and ninety feet in circumference at
the base. It formed a prominent and beautiful object in that noble
demesne, surrounded at its base with a circle of standing stones,
and crowned on the summit with a large fir-tree. On its removal to
make way for some additions to the Abbey, it was found to contain a
cist nearly seven feet long, enclosing a human skeleton. A remarkable
skull preserved in the Edinburgh Phrenological Museum, and described
as found in a stone coffin in a tumulus opened at Newbattle in 1782,
appears to belong to this memorial mound.

One other remarkable form of barrow occasionally, though very rarely,
found in Scotland, in all probability owes its origin to the Vikings
who invaded and colonized our coasts at the close of the Pagan period.
This consists of an oblong mound of larger size than the primitive
long barrow, and terminating in a point at both ends. Some examples
are also inclosed with stones, having one of considerable size at
each end; and from their rarity and their remarkable resemblance to
the _Skibssœtninger_, or ship barrow of Sweden, there can be little
hesitation in assigning to them a Scandinavian origin. One of these
encircled ship barrows was only demolished a few years since, on the
farm of Graitney Mains, Dumfriesshire, but no record of its contents
has been preserved. A much more celebrated one, and, according to
venerable traditions, of undoubted native origin, is the Mound of
St. Columba, at _Port a Churaich_, or the Bay of the Boat, which
is believed to mark the spot where the Saint first landed on Iona.
It measures about fifty feet in length, and is supposed to be a
model of St. Columba's _currach_, or boat made of wicker and hides,
built by him in commemoration of his landing on the sacred isle. An
upright stone formerly stood at each end, and near to it is a smaller
mound, representing, as is said, the little boat towed astern. In
all probability an investigation of the contents of this traditional
memorial would prove its sepulchral character, as has been found to
be the case in other Scottish ship barrows.[62] These singular tumuli
are described by Chalmers as "oblong ridges, like the hulk of a ship,
with its bottom upwards." But it appears from the investigations of
northern antiquaries, that this sepulchral monument was not only the
mimic representation of the Vikings' ship, but that the contents of the
Scandinavian _Skibssœtninger_ seem to confirm the assertion of their
sagas, that these warriors of the deep were sometimes literally burnt
in their ships, and the form of the favourite scene of their triumphs
renewed in the earth-work that covered their ashes.[63]

To this class probably belongs a very large earth-work, styled the
Hill of Rattray, Perthshire, and perhaps also another of still larger
dimensions, called Terrnavie, in the parish of Dunning, in the same
county. It is a mound of earth, resembling a ship with the keel
uppermost, and occupying several acres of ground. The name appears
to be a corruption of terræ navis, or earth-ship, given to it on
account of its form. Superstition has conferred a sacredness on it,
by the association of legends evidently of primitive character. It is
told that a profane hind, having proceeded to cut turfs on the side
of the Terrnavie, was suddenly appalled by the vision of an old man,
who appeared in the opening he had made, and after demanding, with an
angry countenance and voice, why he was tirring (unroofing) his house
over his head, as suddenly vanished.[64] Remains of ancient armour were
dug up a few years ago, on the farm of Rossie, a little to the east of
Terrnavie; of these "two helmets, a small hatchet of yellow metal, and
a finger ring, are preserved in Duncruib House."[65]

The barrow was not, in all probability, entirely superseded until some
time after the introduction of Christianity into Scotland. Several
examples seem to indicate that the Anglo-Saxons were wont to convert an
accumulating barrow into the general place of sepulture of a locality,
interring the body apparently in its ordinary robes, but without any
cist. Such appears to have been the tumular cemetery at Lamel Hill,
near York, of which a minute account is given by Dr. Thurnam, in the
Archæological Journal; and such also was a large sepulchral mound,
levelled near the beach at North Berwick, East-Lothian, in 1847, in
preparing a site for new gas-works. The latter was in the immediate
vicinity of what appears to have been used as a general burial ground
probably till a late medieval era, but its contents were clearly
referrible to the Anglo-Saxon period; while in the same neighbourhood
many cists and other relics of still older races have been found. This
last adaptation of the primitive memorial mound as the cemetery of
a whole race, ere it was abandoned along with the creed to which it
had been allied, is thus beautifully referred to in the description
by Dorban, an ancient Irish poet, of the _Relec na Riogh_, the place
of interment of the kings of the Scotic race, of which the last Pagan
monarch was killed in the year 406.

    "Fifty mounds, I certify,
    Are at Oenach na Cruachna,
    There are under each mound of them
    Fifty fine warlike men.
    Every hill which is at Oenach
    Has under it heroes and queens,
    And poets and distributers,
    And fair fierce women.

    "The host of Connaught that was energetic,
    A truly warlike host,
    Beautiful the valiant tribe,
    Buried in Cathair Cruachna.
    There is not at this place
    A hill at Oenach na Cruachna,
    Which is not the grave of a king or royal prince,
    Or of a woman or warlike poet."[66]

The Cruachna, or Cruithne, are the older Pictish or Celtic race
particularly referred to hereafter. They are numbered among the Pagans
in the same poetic description of the great regal cemetery of Ireland,--

    "The three cemeteries of idolaters are
    The cemetery of Tailten, the select;
    The cemetery of the ever-fair Cruachan,
    And the cemetery of Brugh."

Of all the more remarkable Scottish sepulchral memorials, the Cairn
is most frequently found, scattered through many districts, and
corresponding in form to nearly every class of the earthen tumuli. So
common, indeed, are cairns in many parts of the country, that they give
names to the farms on which they stand, the prefix or termination,
cairn, being of very frequent occurrence in such designations of
property, particularly in Aberdeenshire. The cairn appears to have been
completely incorporated with the ideas of the people, from the remotest
period of the rude stone implements, to the close of Pagan customs
and sepulchral rites, and is justly described as a Celtic monument.
Its name, _kærn_, is a primitive term, literally signifying heaps of
stones.[67] Dr. Jamieson traces it back to the Hebrew _kern_, a horn,
also applied to a hill. In the agreement between Jacob and Laban, we
see an example of the standing stone and cairn, the "pillar and heap,"
employed as the memorials of a covenant by the Hebrew patriarch. In the
sepulture of Achan and of Absalom we have examples of the cairn as a
mark of obloquy and contempt; but no traces of such associations are
discoverable in Scotland, unless in very recent times. Occasionally we
meet with examples of the pillar and heap united in a memorial cairn,
as in one of large dimensions, situated at the junction of two roads,
near the village of Fowlis, Perthshire, which is surmounted by a large
standing stone, corresponding to the barrows, for which the distinctive
appellation of crowned tumuli is suggested. The estimation of the
cairn as an honourable memorial of the dead, is proved not only by the
valuable contents, more frequently discovered in cairns than in any
other Scottish sepulchral mounds, but also by the associations which
popular tradition has preserved. A proverbial expression, still in use
among the Scottish Highlanders, is _Curri mi clach er do cuirn_, I will
add a stone to your cairn: _i.e._, I will honour your memory when you
are gone. The conical cairn must have been in use in Scotland during
a longer period than any other sepulchral memorial. It undoubtedly
belongs to the Stone Period, during which it was frequently constructed
of proportions no less gigantic than in later eras, and much greater
than any contemporary earthen tumulus. But it appears to have been the
favourite and most distinguished sepulchral memorial of the aboriginal
races, throughout the whole three periods into which archæologists
divide the long era prior to the revolutions effected by Roman
civilisation and the introduction of Christianity. Cairns are either
still found, or are known to have existed, in nearly every parish
of Scotland. Many of these have been works of great labour, being
regularly built of stones of considerable size, and approaching more to
the character of a constructive pyramid, than of a mere stone tumulus
or heap. Their form is most frequently conical, but several varieties
occur, including occasionally, though rarely, the primitive shape of
the long barrow. Ure describes two of this form, which were situated in
the parish of Baldernoch, Stirlingshire, near a large cromlech, which
still exists, styled, _The auld wives' lift_. The largest of these
cairns measured sixty yards in length, and only ten yards in breadth.
On its demolition it was found to cover a sepulchral chamber of about
four feet in breadth, constructed of rows of broad stones set on edge,
covered with large flat stones, and containing numerous human remains.
In the other long cairn, which was opened in 1792, a similar chamber
enclosed both urns and human bones. Various other cairns still remain
unopened in the same district; and many of equal magnitude are to be
met with in different parts of the country. The well-known antiquary,
Mr. Joseph Train, furnishes an interesting account of several
remarkable cairns in the parish of Minniegaff, Kirkcudbrightshire. One
of these, called _Drumlawhinnie_, on the moor of Barcly, measures 891
feet in circumference. Another of equal dimensions, called the _Boss
Cairns_, on the moor of Dranandow, which has been partially demolished
to construct the neighbouring field inclosures, contains a sepulchral
inclosure, similar to the cruciform chambers found in several of the
most celebrated gigantic Irish cairns. It measures internally eighty
feet in length, from the corresponding limbs of the cross each way,
while it is only four feet wide and about three feet high. The stones
in the middle of the cairn are very large, and are laid in regular
courses, from the bottom to a considerable height, and become gradually
smaller as they recede from the centre. The chamber of the _Grey
Cairn_, on the neighbouring Drum of Knockman, closely resembles this in
form and dimensions, and various others occur in the district. In one
of them, called the _White Cairn_--which furnished a safe concealment
to the Laird of Glencaird and his two sons, when pursued by Claverhouse
for harbouring some of the persecuted Covenanters--some of the stones
used in constructing the internal chamber are upwards of a ton weight
each.[68] Pennant has preserved a variety of interesting details of the
contents of cairns opened towards the close of last century. In one
described by him on the hill of Down, near Banff, a chamber was found
containing a large ornamented Celtic urn, with three smaller plain ones
disposed around it. The whole were filled with ashes and burnt bones,
in addition to which were flint arrow-heads, and two bone implements.
Thirteen of the arrow-heads, and one of the implements, were found
in the large central urn.[69] In two cairns in the parish of Tynron,
Dumfriesshire, more recently opened, there were found cists, each of
which contained fragments of bone, and a stone hammer.[70] Similar
relics have been found in the cairns of Wigtonshire, where these
sepulchral monuments are so numerous, that forty-nine have been counted
in the small valley of Barnair. There is, indeed, no lack of abundant
testimony to prove the erection of some of the largest Scottish cairns
during the Stone Period. Others of later eras are equally common.

    Sir John Clerk of Pennycuick communicated to Roger Gale, Esq.,
    in 1726, a very interesting account of five cairns, opened
    and examined by himself or his friends, in different parts
    of Scotland. One at Bruntone, in the parish of Pennycuick,
    Mid-Lothian, contained only two cists, each about two feet
    in length, but without urns or relics. Another in Ayrshire
    contained human bones, apparently of a number of men, which had
    been partially subjected to fire, and beside them lay a flint
    adze, or axe-head. The contents of the third, which was also in
    the west of Scotland, are thus described:--"Some urns, placed
    on the top and about the sides of it, as well as some principal
    urns at the bottom, over which it had been raised. Large bones
    of horses and oxen, confusedly scattered among the stones and
    rubbish. The head of a spear, half melted by fire, and several
    other brass instruments, which had likewise suffered in the
    fire, and could not be well known."[71] The others, which were
    situated, one at Pennycuick, Mid-Lothian, and the other in
    Galloway, appear to have been native cairns, contemporary with
    the Roman invasion,--thus furnishing a series of examples of
    the Scottish cairn pertaining to each of the Pagan eras of our
    national history.

In the year 1828 a remarkable cairn was opened on Airswood Moss,
Dumfriesshire, by a party of labourers, when seeking for stones with
which to build a "march dyke," or boundary wall. The cairn consisted,
as usual, of a heap of loose stones, surrounded by a ring of larger
stones, closely set together. These formed a regular circle, measuring
fifty-four feet in diameter. Its form, however, was singular. For about
fourteen feet from the inner side of the encircling stones it rose
gradually, but above this the angle of elevation abruptly changed, and
the centre was formed into a steep cone. Directly underneath this a
cist was found, lying north and south, composed of six large unhewn
stones, and measuring in the interior four feet two inches in greatest
length, with a depth of two feet. It contained only human bones,
indicating a person of large stature, laid with the head towards the
north. The further demolition of the cairn disclosed a curious example
of regular internal construction on a systematic plan. From the four
corners of the central cist there extended, in the form of a saltire,
or St. Andrew's cross, rows of stones overlapping each other like the
slating of a house. At the extremity of one of these, distant about
fourteen feet from the central cist, another was found of corresponding
structure and dimensions, but laid at right angles to the radiating row
of stones. Another is said to have been found at the extremity of one
of the opposite limbs of the cross; and it seems most probable that
the whole four were originally conjoined to corresponding cists, but a
considerable portion of one side of the cairn had been removed before
attention was directed to the subject. Between the limbs of the cross a
quantity of bones, in a fragmentary state, were strewn about.[72] Such
a disposition of a group of cists, under a large cairn, though rare,
is not without a parallel, and may perhaps be found characteristic of
a class. The Rev. Harry Robertson of Kiltearn describes one in that
parish, about thirty paces in diameter, which contained a central cist
three and a half feet long, and at the circumference on the east,
south, and west sides, three others of similar dimensions. As the cairn
was in this case also imperfect, and partly demolished, it is not
improbable that a fourth, on the north side, may have been previously
destroyed.[73] Here, as in the tumuli with cinerary urns surrounding
the central cist, the group of urns in the cairn on the hill of Down,
and in numerous other instances, we find a singular arrangement,
apparently designed as subservient to the honours lavished on some
distinguished chief.

One of the most remarkable groups of cairns in Scotland associated
with other primitive monuments, occurs on a small plain washed by the
River Nairn, about a mile to the east of the field of Culloden. The
whole plain, for upwards of a mile in extent, is covered over with
large cairns, encircled by standing stones surrounding them at uniform
intervals. Numerous circular groups or "Druidical Temples" occur in
the same neighbourhood, with single monoliths and detached circles
of small stones, scarcely visible amid the thick covering of grass
and heath, but indicating, in all probability, the sites of ancient
dwellings of the cairn-builders. An interesting natural chronometer
is of frequent occurrence in connexion with these rude memorials of
primitive habits, furnishing unmistakable evidence of the remoteness of
the era to which they belong, and supplying data which may hereafter
prove to be reducible to definite computation. The accumulation, not
only of alluvium, but of peat-moss over the structures of early art,
has already been referred to in describing the ancient boats, harpoons,
&c., discovered in various localities. It will repeatedly recur in the
course of our inquiry in relation to various classes of memorials of
the past. The traveller, in passing from Bunaw Ferry, on Loch Etive,
to Beregonium, Argyleshire, passes over an extensive moor, known by
the name of the "Black Moss." On this, or rather rising up through it,
are several large cairns, with here and there the remains of others
which have been demolished for the purpose of inclosing fields or
building cottages. In various parts considerable portions of the moss
have been cleared away, exposing, at a depth of from eight to ten
feet, the original soil upon which these sepulchral mounds have been
reared, and bringing to light other interesting memorials of their
builders, hereafter referred to. With such evidence of the slow growth
of centuries obliterating the traces of primitive occupation, and
effecting such changes on the natural features of the country, it is no
vague conjecture which refers to an early era the period when this wild
and barren moor was the scene of life and intelligence, and, it may be,
of many useful arts. Along with these may be mentioned another group
of cairns, including one of unusually large dimensions, not inclosed
by the gathered moss of ages, but surrounded by the encroaching tide,
on the north shore of the Frith of Beauly, Ross-shire, affording no
less striking, though diverse evidence of the remote era to which
they belong. In one of these sepulchral urns have been found, leaving
no room to doubt of their monumental character. The largest stands
about 400 yards within flood-mark; and an ingenious writer in the
Philosophical Transactions arrives at the conclusion that an area of
fully ten miles square, now flooded by the advancing tide, has once
been the site of the dwellings of the ancient cairn-builders. Thus is
it, while Time is sweeping away the hoar relics of the past, the traces
of his footprints enable us occasionally to return upon his track, and
learn how great is the interval that separates our present from the era
of their birth-time.

Ure, in his History of Rutherglen and Kilbride, furnishes interesting
notices of various large cairns demolished during last century, some of
which have already been referred to. One of these, which long served
as a quarry for an extensive district of the latter parish, was termed
Knocklegoil Cairn,--_Knoc-kill-goill_, the hill of the cell, or grave,
of the strangers. Some thousands of cart-loads of stones were taken
from it, in the course of which various cinerary urns were removed or

    Another, called Herlaw, (the memorial mound,) was of still
    larger dimensions. "Some thousand cart-loads of stones have,
    at different times, been taken from it; and some thousands yet
    remain. Many urns with fragments of human bones were found in
    one corner of it. It is still about twelve feet in height, and
    covers a base of seventy feet in diameter; but this must have
    been far short of its dimensions when entire."[74] The name of
    this gigantic cairn is still attached to the farm of Harelaw,
    on which it stood, but the last remains of the pile were
    removed about the year 1808, and a small group of trees now
    occupies its site. Such details might be multiplied to almost
    any amount, but one other remarkable cairn may be noted:--"On
    the hill above the moor of Ardoch," says Gordon, "are two
    great heaps of stones, the one called _Cairnwochel_, the other
    _Cairnlee_. The former of these is the greatest curiosity of
    the kind that I ever met with; the quantity of great rough
    stones, lying above one another, almost surpasses belief, which
    made me have the curiosity to measure it; and I found the whole
    heap to be about 182 feet in length, thirty in sloping height,
    and forty-five in breadth at the bottom."[75] Since these
    measurements were made the cairn has been opened, and within it
    was found a cist, containing, according to the account of the
    parish minister, the skeleton of a man seven feet long.[76]

As we are reasonably led to conclude that the tumuli and cairns were
mostly constructed at one time, as monuments, and not gradually
completed as they were filled on the death of successive members of a
family or tribe, the large chambered cairns must be considered as a
separate class from those first described. It is possible that they
may have been designed as the catacombs of a whole tribe; though it
is difficult to reconcile such an idea with the improvident habits of
a rude people, and with the monumental character usually traceable in
these structures. We should rather, perhaps, look upon the chambered
cairn as the memorial of the victors on some bloody battle-field.
On this supposition the Knoc-kill-goill, or hill of the strangers'
graves, would indicate the scene where triumphant invaders had paid
the last honours to their dead ere they bore off with them the spoils
of victory. Such suppositions, however, are altogether apart from the
facts with which we have chiefly to deal. The cromlech, which is now
almost universally recognised as a sepulchral monument,[77] formed
by far the most laborious and costly memorial which the veneration
or gratitude of primitive ages dedicated to the honour of their
illustrious dead. It consists of three or four large unhewn columns,
supporting a huge table or block of stone, and forming together a
rectangular chamber, which is frequently further inclosed by smaller
stones built into the intervening spaces. Within this area there is
generally found the skeleton, disposed in a contracted position, and
accompanied with urns and relics of an early period. As the sepulchral
tumulus is justly regarded as only a gigantic grave-mound, so the
origin of the cromlech may be traced to the desire of providing a
cist for the last resting-place of the chief or warrior, equally
distinguished from that which sufficed for common dust--

    "A little urn--a little dust inside,
    Which once outbalanced the large earth, albeit,
    To-day a four-years' child might carry it!"[78]

This class of sepulchral monuments is rare in Scotland when compared
with other monolithic structures that abound in almost every district
of the country. Some few interesting examples, however, are still found
perfect, while partial traces of a greater number remain to show that
the cromlech was familiar to the builders of the Scottish monolithic
era. One of the most celebrated Scottish cromlechs is a group styled,
THE AULD WIVES' LIFT, near Craigmadden Castle, Stirlingshire. It is
remarkable as an example of a trilith, or complete cromlech, consisting
only of three stones. Two of nearly equal length support the huge
capstone, a block of basalt measuring fully eighteen feet in length,
by eleven in breadth, and seven in depth. A narrow triangular space
remains open between the three stones, and through this every stranger
is required to pass on first visiting the spot, if, according to the
rustic creed, he would escape the calamity of dying childless. It is
not unworthy of being noted, that though the site of this singular
cromlech is at no great elevation, a spectator standing on it can see
across the island from sea to sea; and may almost at the same moment
observe the smoke from a steamer entering the Frith of Clyde, and from
another below Grangemouth, in the Forth.


From the traces of ruined cromlechs which are still visible in various
parts of the country, some of them appear to have been encircled, like
a class of barrows described above, with a ring of standing stones; and
it is exceedingly probable that many of the smaller groups throughout
the country, designated temples, or Druidical circles, belong to the
class of sepulchral memorials. Such is the case with a monolithic group
in the parish of Sandwick, Orkney, and it is still more noticeable
in the ring of Stennis, where the cromlech lies overthrown beside
the gigantic ruins of the circle which once inclosed it. Various
other cromlechs still remain in Orkney. One called the Stones of Vea,
situated on the moor about half a mile south of the manse of Sandwick,
though overthrown, is otherwise uninjured. The capstone measures five
feet ten inches, by four feet nine inches, and still rests against two
of its supporters. A group, which stands on the brow of Vestrafiold,
appears to have included two if not three cromlechs. There is another
remarkable assemblage, in a similarly ruined state, near Lamlash
Bay, in the island of Arran; and a single cromlech stood--if it
does not still stand--in the centre of a stone circle in the same
island.[79] A fine one also remains, in perfect preservation, on the
southern declivity of the hill of Sidla, Forfarshire; another good
example has been preserved on the farm of Ardnadam, in the parish
of Dunoon, Argyleshire; and others, more or less complete, are to
be seen at Achnacreebeg, Ardchattan, and in various districts of
the West Highlands, as well as in other parts of Scotland. Some at
least of these gigantic structures were buried under a tumular mound,
precisely in the same manner as the smaller cists. In 1825 a cromlech
was discovered on the removal of a tumulus of unusual size, situated
near the west coast of the peninsula of Cantyre. It contained only the
greatly decayed remains of a human skeleton, but in the superincumbent
soil were found many bones, and the teeth of the horse and cow, also
in a state of decay. The capstone of this cromlech measured five by
four feet, and its four supporters were each about three feet high.[80]
A somewhat larger cromlech was disclosed, under nearly similar
circumstances, in the year 1838, on the levelling of a large mound or
tumulus, in the Phœnix Park, Dublin.

The whole of these examples are constructed of rough and entirely
unhewn blocks. The annexed figure represents a partially ruined
cromlech, at Bonnington Mains, near Ratho, Mid-Lothian, which is
interesting from some traces which it retains of artificial tooling.
Along the centre of the large capstone a series of shallow perforations
have been made at nearly regular intervals, and possibly indicate
a design of splitting it in two. Such is the idea formed by Mr.
F. C. Lukis in a somewhat parallel case, though any indication of
artificial formation in such primitive structures is of the very rarest
occurrence. Mr. Lukis remarks in a communication to the Archæological
Association:--"I send a sketch of the cromlech on L'Ancresse Common,
Guernsey, on which we have discovered a string of indentations,
probably made with a view to trim the side prop to the required size
of the capstone. These are the first appearances of art in any of
the primeval monuments, and nowhere have we found anything of the
kind excepting on a menhir in the parish of the Forest.... The use of
these indents we can only guess at; but as they follow the fracture
of the stone, (granite,) the early method of breaking stones would be
explained."[81] The Bonnington Mains Cromlech is of large size. The
capstone, which now rests on only two of its supporters, measures
11½ feet in length, and 10½ feet in greatest breadth. It bears
the name of THE WITCH'S STONE,[82] in accordance with the rustic legend
which ascribes its origin to an emissary of the famed old Scottish
wizard, Michael Scot. The term cromlech is probably derived from
_cromadh_ (Gaelic) or _cromen_ (Welsh), signifying a _roof_ or _vault_,
and _clach_ or _lech_, a stone. But the compound word is of ancient use
in Scotland. An extensive district in the neighbourhood of Dunblane,
Perthshire, which still bears the name of the Cromlix, is remarkable
for various large transported blocks scattered over its surface. One
of these, which has been supposed to have formed the capstone of a
large cromlech, measures 15½ by 10 feet; but it is very doubtful if
it owes either its form or position to human hands. According to the
proposed derivation the name may be rendered _the suspended stone_;
and its application to a district covered with transported rocks from
the neighbouring Ochils, of a date long prior to the historic era, is
in no way inconsistent with its more usual application to the primitive
monolithic structures. We have no satisfactory evidence that these are
Celtic monuments. The tendency of our present researches leads to the
conclusion that they are not, but that they are the work of an elder
race, of whose language we have little reason to believe any relic has
survived to our day. On this supposition the old name of Cromlech is of
recent origin compared with the structures to which it is applied; and
of this its derivation affords the strongest confirmation. It is just
such a term as strangers would adopt, being simply descriptive of the
actual appearance of the monument, but conveying no idea of its true
character as a sepulchral memorial.

[Illustration: The Witch's Stone, Bonnington Mains, Mid-Lothian]

Such are the monumental structures belonging to the primitive periods;
but examples of the cist and cinerary urn, deposited without any
superincumbent mound, are of extremely frequent occurrence. They are
most commonly grouped in considerable numbers, indicating the ordinary
rites of sepulture contemporary with the monumental tumulus or cairn.
In the first of these, as in cists found underneath ancient cairns
and tumuli, the body appears to have been generally interred in a
contracted posture, with the knees drawn up to the breast; and some
examples would even seem to indicate that the limb bones were broken
when the body could not otherwise be disposed within the straitened
dimensions which custom prescribed for the primitive tomb. The custom
may be traced to the idea prevalent long after the Christian era, that
it was unworthy of a warrior to die in his bed. The rude Briton was
accordingly interred seated, and with his weapons of stone or bronze
at his side, ready to spring up when the sound of the war-cry should
summon him to renew the strife. It seems probable that some few cists
of full proportions belong to a period prior to this custom, but it
undoubtedly prevailed for ages, and probably did not disappear till
after the introduction of Christianity. The short stone cist has been
discovered of late years in the immediate vicinity of some of the
most ancient Christian churches in the Orkneys, while examples of a
full-sized cist, with the inclosed skeleton extended at length, are met
with under circumstances, and with accompanying relics, which leave no
doubt that they belong to both of the primitive periods. One singular
variation from the custom of burial in the sitting posture has been
noted, in which the body has been interred with the knees bent, but
laid on the right side. It must, however, be at all times extremely
difficult to ascertain the exact position in which the body has been
originally laid, from the little crumbling heap of decayed bones lying
in the contracted cist; and there is no failing to which antiquarian
observers seem at present more liable than that of seeing too much. An
intelligent correspondent writes from Orkney,--

    "Graves are frequently found in which the skeletons lie in
    various positions; in some cases as if the bodies had been
    huddled into the grave without any care; in others the knees
    are considerably bent, and the skeletons lie on the right side.
    Several such examples have been discovered in Sandwick; and
    in a grave which I recently opened in Westray, the skeleton
    was found on its right side in a similar posture. I examined
    it carefully, and it conveyed the impression to my mind that
    the individual had been slain in battle, and the body had been
    laid in the grave in the posture it was found on the field of
    conflict. A similar posture has been observed in skeletons
    found in different islands. The rude figure of a Calvary cross
    carved on the stone which formed a side of one of the graves
    in Sanday, seems to indicate that they were made subsequent
    to the introduction of Christianity, in the same way that a
    mallet-head of gneiss, beautifully polished, found at the right
    hand of a skeleton buried in a sitting posture in a grave in
    Sandwick, denoted a date prior to that era."[83] It is possible
    that the body laid on its right side with contracted limbs,
    may be found to indicate the transition-period prior to its
    interment at full length. The latter mode of burial appears, in
    England at least, to have been restored in Anglo-Saxon times,
    and before the introduction of Christianity.

A very general impression prevails that the primitive cists are
invariably found lying north and south. But this is a hasty conclusion,
which has been the more readily adopted from the distinction it seems
to furnish in contrast to the medieval custom of laying the head
towards the west, that the Christian might look to the point from
whence he expected his Saviour at his second coming. Abundant evidence
exists to disprove the universal use of any particular direction in
laying the cists or interring the dead in the primitive period. A few
examples will suffice to show this. In 1824 a number of cists were
discovered in making a new approach to Blair Drummond House, near the
river Teith, Stirlingshire. They were of the usual character, varying
in size, but none of them large enough to hold a full-grown body laid
at length. Some contained urns of various dimensions, with burnt bones
and ashes, while in others the bones had no appearance of having been
exposed to fire. The urns were extremely rude and simple in form, and
no metallic relics were discovered among them. Here, therefore, we
have a primitive place of sepulture, in a locality already noted for
some remarkable evidences of very remote population. But the cists lay
irregularly in various directions, giving no indication of any chosen
mode or prevailing custom.[84] In 1814 several cists were discovered
in the parish of Borthwick, Mid-Lothian, of the ordinary character and
proportions, and in some cases containing urns, one of which is now
in the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Others have
since been discovered in the same neighbourhood at various times, but
like those on the banks of the Teith, "they were placed without any
regard to order."[85] In constructing the new road to Leith, leading
from the centre of Bellevue Crescent, Edinburgh, in 1823, several
stone cists were found, of the usual circumscribed dimensions and rude
construction of the primitive period, but being disposed nearly due
east and west, were assumed without further evidence to be "of course
since the introduction of Christianity."[86] Another similar relic of
the aboriginal occupants of the site of the modern Scottish capital was
found in 1822, in digging the foundation of a house on the west side of
the Royal Circus. In this case the cist lay north and south, but the
head was laid at the south end. The whole skeleton, with the exception
of a few of the teeth, crumbled to dust on being touched.[87] In a cist
discovered in 1790, under a large cairn in the parish of Kilbride, the
skeleton lay with its head to the east. Such was its great age, that it
also speedily crumbled to dust.[88] Within the district of Argyleshire,
now occupied by the villages of Dunoon and Kilmun, many primitive cists
have been exposed, rudely constructed of unhewn slabs of the native
schistose slate, and some of them containing lance and arrow-heads of
flint, and other equally characteristic relics, but the irregularity of
their disposition proved that convenience alone dictated the direction
in which the bodies were laid. Other examples of irregular though
methodic arrangement of the cists found in cairns have already been
noted, and it would be easy to multiply similar instances. One more
will suffice. In the neighbourhood of the parish church of Cairnie,
Aberdeenshire, various cists have been exhumed of late years, lying
in different and apparently quite irregular directions. One found in
1836, by a farm-servant while digging for sand, lay at a depth of about
2½ feet below the surface. Its interior dimensions were four feet
by three feet, and it contained a human skeleton with the head laid
towards the east end. At the right side was a rude hand-made urn 5¾
inches in height, which is now preserved in the Museum of the Scottish

It is obvious, from these examples, that the mere direction in which
the body is laid is not in itself conclusive proof either of Pagan
or Christian sepulture. But there does also occur a numerous class of
instances, which seem to indicate that at some early period importance
was attached to the direction in which the body was laid, and then the
cist was placed north and south, or rather north-east and south-west,
with the head towards the north, and designed, it may be, to look
towards the meridian sun. So many instances of this are familiar to
archæologists, that it seems hardly necessary to produce examples:
but two of a peculiar character may be deserving of special notice.
In March 1826, a farmer on the estate of Wormeston, near Fifeness, in
levelling a piece of ground, discovered, at a depth of ten feet from
the surface, thirty cists, disposed in two regular rows, at equal
distances apart, and with the heads towards the north-east. Their
arrangement was peculiar, and obviously the result of some special
design. A line drawn along their ends was nearly due east and west, and
from this they declined obliquely, in the direction of north-east and
south-west. The whole lay parallel, and equidistant from each other,
and in the centre of each of the intervening spaces an oblong stone
was placed so as to abut against the sides of the adjacent cists.[89]
Another group, disposed nearly similarly to this, was brought to light
on the levelling of a long barrow of unusually large dimensions, in
the parish of Strathblane, Dumbartonshire. Urns were found within the
cists full of earth and burnt bones; and alongside of each was a column
of about three feet in height, selected from basaltic rocks in the
neighbourhood, many of which assume the form of regular quadrangular
crystals. The position of the bodies appears to have been north and
south, as the barrow, which measured sixty yards in length, lay east
and west.[90]

The discovery of any important deviation from the customary rites of
sepulture has already been referred to as probable evidence of some
unwonted change in the social condition of a people; marking, it may
be, the introduction of a new element into the national creed, or
the violent intrusion of some foreign race of conquerors, displacing
older customs by the law of the sword. In the introduction of the
funeral pile and the cinerary urn, we have one important evidence of
the adoption of novel rites. In the systematic disposition of the body
in a fixed direction, it is probable that we may trace another and
still earlier change. Both practices are deserving of more careful
investigation than they have yet received, in the relation they bear
to the progressive advances of the primitive races of Scotland.
Without the opportunity of comparing more extensive and trustworthy
observations than we yet possess, it would be premature to insist
upon the inferences suggested by them. But it accords with many other
indications that we should find less method or design in the rude
sepulchres of the earliest aborigines, than of those who had long
located themselves in the glades of the old Caledonian forests, and
abandoned nomadic habits for the cares and duties of a pastoral life.
The establishment of such a distinction would furnish a valuable
chronological guide to the archæologist in the arrangement of his
materials for primitive history; meanwhile, it is only suggested for
further observation. The early Christian adapted the position of his
grave to the aspirations of his faith; and a similar practice among
older races, in all probability, bore a kindred relation to some
lesson of their Pagan creed, the nature of which is not yet perhaps
utterly beyond recall. The question of divers races is, at least, one
of comparatively easy solution. On this the investigations of the
practical ethnologist may throw much light, by establishing proofs
of distinct craniological characteristics pertaining to the remains
interred north and south, from those belonging, as I conceive, to a
still earlier period,--before the rude Caledonian had learned to attach
a meaning to the direction in which he was laid to rest in the arms of
death, or to dispose himself for his long sleep with thoughts which
anticipated a future resurrection.


[51] Hibbert's Shetland, p. 452.

[52] Account of the Islands of Orkney, by James Wallace, M.D., 1700, p.

[53] Notices of remains found in tumuli and cists, of gigantic stature,
frequently occur in the Statistical Accounts and other local records,
but the statements are generally too vague to be of any value.
Erroneous opinions, I believe, most frequently arise from comparing the
_femur_ or thigh-bone with the apparent length of the thigh, by persons
ignorant of anatomy. Nothing, however, more readily secures distinction
among a rude warlike people than the personal strength accompanying
superior stature, if combined with corresponding courage; it need not
therefore excite surprise if the larger tumuli should occasionally be
found to cover the remains of some primitive chief of gigantic stature.

[54] The account which Tacitus gives of the simpler rites of the
ancient Germans probably more nearly accords with those of the
primitive Britons: "Funerum nulla ambitio; id solum observatur, ut
corpora clarorum virorum certis lignis crementur. Struem rogi nec
vestibus, nec odoribus cumulant; sua cuique arma, quorundam igni et
equus adjicitur."--Tacit. de Morib. Germ. cap. 27.

[55] Ipsum cremare apud Romanos non fuit veteris instituti, terra
condebantur.--Hist. Nat. lib. vii. c. 54.

[56] Cases occur where the original tumulus has been adopted as a place
of sepulture long subsequent to its original construction. Care is
therefore required to discriminate between superficial interments of
late date, and the original cist or urns; but it is rarely difficult to
detect the evidences of intrusion. The slight depth at which they are
generally interred affords in itself a striking contrast to the labour
exercised by the constructors of the sepulchral mound. It is also to
be borne in remembrance, that all the urns found in tumuli are not
sepulchral, or proofs of cremation.

[57] De Bell. Gall. lib. vi. chap. 19.

[58] Dr. Hodgkin read a paper at the meeting of the British
Association, held at York in 1844, on the dog as the associate of man,
chiefly with a view to shew how much the study of the inferior animals
which, by accident or design, have accompanied man in his diffusion
over the globe, is calculated to throw light on the affinities of races.

[59] Ure's History of Rutherglen, p. 124.

[60] Ure's History of Kilbride, pp. 216-219.

[61] By N. K. Sjöborg. Two vols. quarto. Stockholm, 1822.

[62] Graham's Antiquities of Iona, Plate III.

[63] Worsaae's Primeval Antiquities, p. 109.

[64] Sinclair's Statist. Acc. vol. xix. p. 441.

[65] New Statist. Acc. vol. x. p. 717.

[66] Petrie's Eccles. Architect. of Ireland, pp. 103-5.

[67] Add. to Camd. Brit. in Radnorshire.

[68] New Statist. Acc. vol. iv., Kirkcudbright, pp. 132, 133.

[69] Pennant's Tour, vol. i. p. 156.

[70] New Statist. Acc., Dumfriesshire, vol. iv. p. 475.

[71] Itiner. Septen. Append. pp. 171-177.

[72] Dumfries Journal, June 24, 1828. MS. Communication, Soc. Antiq.
Scot., Andrew Brown, Esq., read March 9, 1829.

[73] Sinclair's Statistical Account, vol. i. p. 292.

[74] Ure's Kilbride, p. 213.

[75] Itin. Septen. p. 42.

[76] Sinclair's Statistical Account, vol. viii. p. 497.

[77] This point has been conclusively established in the valuable
communications of Mr. F. C. Lukis to the Archæological Journal, _on
the Primeval Antiquities of the Channel Islands_, vol. i. pp. 142,
222. The original merit, however, of showing that cromlechs are
"sepulchral chambers," and not "Druidical altars," is, I believe, due
to a well-known and zealous antiquary, Mr. John Bell, of Dungannon, who
published his views in the Newry Magazine, 1816, vol. ii. p. 234, from
whence they were copied into various other journals.

[78] E. B. Barrett.

[79] Martin's Western Isles, p. 220.

[80] Archæol. Scot. vol. iii. p. 43.

[81] Journal of Brit. Archæol. Association, vol. iii. p. 342.

[82] While this sheet is passing through the press, I have had an
opportunity of exploring this cromlech. The natural rock was laid
bare at a very little depth without meeting with the slightest traces
of sepulchral remains, and were it not for the remarkable line of
perforations along the centre of the capstone, the whole might have
been ascribed to a natural origin. It was found impossible, however, to
get directly under the great stone, without the risk of overthrowing
the whole.

[83] MS. Letter, George Petrie, Kirkwall.

[84] Archæol. Scot. vol. iii. p. 42.

[85] Archæol. Scot. vol. ii. pp. 77, 100.

[86] Archæol. Scot. vol. iii. p. 48.

[87] Archæol. Scot. vol. iii. p. 49.

[88] Ure's Kilbride, p. 213.

[89] MS. Letter, G. W. Knight, Libr. Soc. Antiq. Scot. 1829.

[90] Ure's Rutherglen, p. 223.



Before proceeding to examine in detail the varied contents of
the Scottish tumuli, it may be well to glance at the evidence we
possess of the nature of the habitations reared and occupied by the
constructors of such enduring memorials of their dead as have been
described in the preceding chapter. Scattered over the uncultivated
downs both of England and Scotland, there still remain numerous
relics of the dwellings of our barbarian ancestry, which have escaped
the wasting tooth of centuries, or the more destructive inroads of
modern cultivation. Sir Richard Colt Hoare remarks, in his "Ancient
Wiltshire,"--"We have undoubted proofs from history, and from existing
remains, that the earlier habitations were pits, or slight excavations
in the ground, covered and protected from the inclemency of the weather
by boughs of trees and sods of turf." Of these primitive pit-dwellings
numerous traces are discernible on Leuchar Moss, in the parish of
Skene, and in other localities of Aberdeenshire; on the banks of Loch
Fine, Argyleshire; in the counties of Inverness and Caithness; and in
various other districts of Scotland still uninvaded by the plough.
They are almost invariably found in groups, affording evidence of the
gregarious and social habits of man in the simplest state of society.
The rudest of them consist simply of shallow excavations in the soil,
of a circular or oblong form, and rarely exceeding seven or eight feet
in diameter. Considerable numbers of these may be observed in several
districts both of Aberdeenshire and Inverness-shire, each surrounded
with a raised rim of earth, in which a slight break generally indicates
the door, and not improbably also the window and chimney of the
aboriginal dwelling. To this class belong the "pond barrow," already
referred to as erroneously ranked among sepulchral constructions.
Within a few miles of Aberdeen are still visible what seem to be the
remains of a large group, or township, of such rude relics of domestic
architecture. These, Professor Stuart suggests, may mark the site of
the capital of the Taixali, when the Roman legions passed the river Dee
in the second century.[91] They consist of some hundreds of circular
walls scattered over more than a mile in extent, of two or three feet
high, and from twelve to twenty feet in diameter. Their varying sizes
may be presumed to indicate the gradations of rank which, we know,
were established among the northern Britons, who were undoubtedly, at
the period of the Roman invasion, a race far in advance of the first
constructors of the rude pit-dwelling or "pond barrow" previously
referred to. Nothing, however, has yet been discovered on this site
to indicate any traces of Roman influence. On digging within the area
of the pit-dwellings, a mass of charred wood or ashes, mingled with
fragments of decayed bones and vegetable matter, are generally found;
and their site is frequently discernible on the brown heath, or the
grey slope of the hill-side, from the richer growth and brighter green
of the grass, within the circle sacred of old to the hospitable rites
of our barbarian ancestry, and where the accumulated refuse of their
culinary operations have thus sufficed to enrich the soil.

The first indication of a slight advancement in the constructive skill
of the primitive architect is discernible in the strengthening of his
domestic inclosure with stone. This is not infrequently accompanied
with small circular or oblong field inclosures, as if indicating
the dawn of civilisation, manifested in the protection of personal
property, and the rudiments of a pastoral life, in the folding of sheep
and cattle. Still greater social progress would seem to be indicated in
those examples, also occasionally to be met with in various districts,
where a commanding site appears to have been chosen for the location;
and traces still remain of an earthen rampart inclosing the whole, as
on the Kaimes Hill, in the parish of Ratho, Mid-Lothian. Such, perhaps,
may be the remains of a British camp, or of a temporary retreat in time
of war.

With this class also may be grouped the "Picts' kilns," on which
Chalmers, Train, Sir Walter Scott, and other antiquaries, have
expended much conjecture and useless learning. These are of frequent
occurrence in Wigton and Kircudbright shires, as well as in parts of
the neighbouring counties. They consist of elliptical or pear-shaped
inclosures, measuring generally about sixteen feet in length and seven
or eight feet in breadth. Externally the walls appear to be of earth,
sometimes standing nearly three feet high. On removing the surface they
are found to be constructed internally of small stones, frequently
bearing marks of fire. They are popularly believed to be ancient
breweries reared by the Picts for the manufacture of a mysterious
beverage called _heather ale_. Sir Walter Scott suggests, with not much
greater probability, that they are primitive lime kilns. They are said
by Mr. Train to be invariably constructed on the south side of a hill,
close to the margin of a brook, and with the door or narrow passage
facing the stream. Future excavations on their sites may perhaps
furnish more conclusive evidence of their original purpose.

Greater art is apparent in the relics of another class of ancient
Scottish dwellings occasionally met with in different parts of the
country. In the Black Moss, already referred to, on the banks of
Etive, Argyleshire, at various points where some advance has been made
in recovering the waste for agricultural purposes, the progress of
cultivation has uncovered rough oval pavings of stone, bearing marks of
fire, and frequently covered with charred ashes. These are generally
found to measure about six feet in greatest diameter, and are sometimes
surrounded with the remains of pointed hazel stakes or posts, the
relics, doubtless, of the upright beams with which the walls of the
ancient fabric was framed. Julius Cæsar describes the dwellings of the
Britons as similar to those of the Gauls;[92] and these we learn, from
the accounts both of Strabo and Diodorus Siculus, were constructed of
wood, of a circular form, and with lofty tapering roofs of straw. Such
apparently were the structures, the remains of which are now brought
to light within the limits of the Dalriadic possessions. These ancient
Caledonian hearths, now quenched for so many centuries, are discovered
beneath an accumulation of from eight to ten feet of moss, under which
lies a stratum of vegetable mould about a foot deep, resting upon an
alluvial bed of gravel and sand; the original soil upon which the large
sepulchral cairns of the same district have been reared.

A discovery made at Dalgenross, near Comrie, in 1823, though described
in a communication to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland as an
ancient tomb, manifestly furnishes another example of the same class
of primitive dwellings. At Comrie, as in twenty other equally probable
localities, antiquaries of the district have pronounced some imperfect
and half-obliterated earth-works to be the remains of a Roman camp,
and the scene of Agricola's famous victory of Mons Grampius! The
writer, learning that workmen were trenching this interesting spot,
remarks,--"I hastened to where the men were at work, and found that
they had come upon a circle of flat stones set on edge, and at the
bottom a paving of large flag-stones. The cavity was filled with a kind
of black earth, pieces of charred wood, and also some fragments of
iron, but so completely defaced with rust that it is impossible to say
to what purpose they have been applied." On pursuing the investigation
further, pieces of charcoal and burned wood were found, along with
charred wheat, which might possibly suggest its having been a granary;
but its general characteristics much more nearly assimilate it to a
native dwelling, to which, it may be, the torch of the Roman legionary
applied the brand that reduced it to a blackened ruin.

Among the relics of primitive domestic architecture brought to
light in later times, no class is more remarkable than the weems,
or subterranean dwellings which have been discovered in different
parts of Scotland. Of this class are two structures discovered under
ground in the parish of Tealing, Forfarshire. One of them consisted of
several apartments formed with large flat stones without any cement;
and in it were found wood-ashes, several fragments of large earthen
vessels, and an ancient stone hand-mill, or querne. The other was a
single vault constructed in the same manner, measuring internally about
four feet both in height and width, and in which were found a broad
earthen vessel, and a stone celt or hatchet.[93] In another opened in
the parish of Monzie, Perthshire, a stone celt and bronze sword were
found, both of which are preserved at Monzie House. Chalmers supplies
a curious list of similar subterranean dwellings discovered at various
times in Forfar, Perth, Aberdeen, Ross, Sutherland, and Inverness
shires, and in the Orkney Islands.[94] The like structures are noted
by Martin, among the antiquities of the islands of Walay, Erisca, and
Skye;[95] and by Pennant also in the latter island. They are described
by Martin as "little stone-houses, built under ground, called _earth
houses_, which served to hide a few people and their goods in time of

The general name applied in Scotland to these subterranean habitations
is Weems, from the Gaelic word _uamha_, a cave; and as this name is
in use in the low countries, where nearly all traces of the Celtic
dialect have been lost as a living language, probably since the era of
the "Saxon Conquest," it may be accepted as no insignificant evidence
of their Celtic origin or use. In Aberdeenshire, where they have been
found in greater number than in any other single district, they are
more generally known, as in the Hebrides, by the name of _eirde_ (i.e.,
_earth_) _houses_.

An interesting account of a large group of weems discovered in
Aberdeenshire, is given by Professor Stuart in the Archæologia
Scotica,[96] and since then many more have been brought to light in
the same district. Several of these opened of late years in Strathdon
are described with great minuteness in the Statistical Account of that
parish.[97] On a bleak moor in the adjoining parish, not far from the
old castle of Kildrummie--which, from many large fossil trees dug up
in it, appears to have once been an extensive forest--the largest
assemblage of these singular habitations occurs which has yet been
discovered in Scotland. Others have been found about six miles further
up the country, at Glenkindrie, at Buchan, and near the source of the
Don, one of the wildest districts of the Highlands. They are indeed
scarcely less common than the sepulchral cairn. My object, however,
is not so much to accumulate numerous examples, as to select a few
characteristic types of each class of Scottish antiquities; though
these weems appear to possess peculiar claims to minute description,
from their very frequent occurrence. In general, no external indication
affords the slightest clue to their discovery. To the common observer,
the dry level heath or moor under which they lie presents no appearance
of having ever been disturbed by the hand of man; and he may traverse
the waste until every natural feature has become familiar to his eye,
without suspecting that underneath his very feet lie the dwellings and
domestic utensils of remote antiquity.

The Aberdeenshire weems are constructed of huge masses of granite,
frequently above six feet in length, and though by no means uniform
either in internal shape or dimensions, a general style of construction
prevails throughout the whole. Some of them have been found upwards
of thirty feet long, and from eight to nine feet wide. The walls
are made to converge towards the top, and the whole is roofed in by
means of the primitive substitute for the arch which characterizes
the cyclopean structures of infant Greece, and the vast temples and
palaces of Mexico and Yucatan. The huge stones overlap each other in
succession, until the intervening space is sufficiently reduced to
admit of the vault being completed by a single block extending from
side to side. They have not infrequently smaller chambers attached
to them, generally approached by passages not above three feet in
height; and it affords a curious evidence of the want of efficient
tools in the builders of these subterranean structures, that where
these side apartments are only separated from the main chamber by the
thickness of the wall, the stones, though placed flush with the walls
of the latter, project irregularly into the small cells, giving them
a singularly unshapely and ragged appearance. Similar structures,
but of smaller dimensions, have been discovered in Lanarkshire, at
Cartland Craigs, in the neighbourhood of Stonebyres, and at a place
called Cairney Castle. In these last were found quernes, deers'
horns, and bones. In one uncovered in the parish of Auchterhouse,
Forfarshire, a brass ring was discovered; and both there, and in
another in the same parish, were ashes, bones, and quernes.[98] The
Rev. Thomas Constable furnishes a very interesting description of one
near Lundie House, in the latter county, which was minutely surveyed
by the eminent antiquary, Lord Hailes. Its contents were of the
usual description, including several quernes about fourteen inches
in diameter.[99] So also, in a minute account of similar structures
in Caithness and Sutherland, furnished to Pennant by the parish
minister of Reay, the writer remarks:--"We found in them nothing but
hand-mills, or what the Highlanders call quernes, which were only
eighteen inches in diameter, and great heaps of deers' bones and
horns, as they (the Picts) lived much more by hunting than any other
means."[100] The discovery, indeed, of the primitive hand-mill in these
ancient dwellings is so frequent as to be worthy of special notice,
and might seem to indicate that their original destination had been
for store-houses or granaries, did not the constant occurrence of
the bones of domestic animals, or of those most prized in the chase,
and frequently in considerable quantities, leave no room for doubt
that they must have been occupied as places of habitation. They agree
very nearly with the description furnished by Tacitus of the winter
dwellings of the Germans, whom he represents as digging caves in the
earth, in which they lay up their grain, and whither they retire in the
winter, or on the advance of an enemy to plunder the open country.[101]
The entrance to such of these subterranean dwellings as have been
found sufficiently perfect to afford indications of their original
character, appears to have generally been by a slanting doorway between
two long, upright stones, through which the occupant must have slid
into his dark abode. Occasionally a small aperture has been found at
the further end, apparently to give vent to the fire, the charcoal
ashes of which lie extinguished on the long-deserted floor. In some a
passage of considerable length has formed the vestibule; but so far
as now appears, a solitary aperture served most frequently alike for
doorway, chimney, ventilator, and even window, in so far as any gleam
of daylight could penetrate into the darkened vault. One is forcibly
reminded, while groping in these aboriginal retreats, of Elia's
realisations of the strange social state to which they pertain, in his
quaint rhapsody on Candle-light, "_our peculiar and household planet_!
Wanting it, what savage unsocial nights must our ancestors have spent,
wintering in caves and unilluminated fastnesses! They must have lain
about and grumbled at one another in the dark. What repartees could
have passed, when you must have felt about for a smile, and handled a
neighbour's cheek to be sure that he understood it! This accounts for
the seriousness of the elder poetry. It has a sombre cast, derived from
the tradition of these un-lanterned nights!" The grave humorist goes on
to picture a supper scene in these unlighted halls, rich with truthful
imaginings, mingled with his curious but thoughtful jests:--

    "Things that were born, when none but the still night,
    And his dumb candle, saw his pinching throes."

In truth, these dwellings, constructed with such laborious ingenuity
in every district of Scotland, seem to throw a strange light upon that
dim and remote era to which they belong, giving us some insight into
the domestic habits and social comforts of a period heretofore dark as
their own unillumined vaults.

Adjoining many of the weems small earthen inclosures are discernible;
some of which are square, measuring about fifteen paces each way,
with the area somewhat below the surrounding soil, and have probably
been constructed for folding sheep or cattle. Others are circular,
and so small as to leave little doubt that there must have stood the
slight huts, constructed of turf and branches of trees, in which the
architect of the cyclopean structure dwelt during the brief warmth
of summer, while he sought refuge from the frosts and snows of our
northern winter in the neighbouring subterranean retreat. The number
of weems frequently found together appears altogether inconsistent
with the idea of their construction as mere places of concealment.
They are manifestly the congregated dwellings of a social community,
though strangely differing from any that have dwelt in the land within
the era of authentic history. When we compare these dwellings with
the clay huts still common in many a Highland district, or with such
humble Lowland biggings as those which have won a new sacredness
as the birthplaces of Hogg or Burns, it is impossible to overlook
the remarkable differences presented by the two states of society,
separated not more widely by time than by variance of habits and
ideas. How striking is the contrast between the artlessness of the
Ayrshire cottage, that sufficed, with its straw roof, to satisfy
the wants of one among the great master-spirits of all times, and
the labour and ingenuity expended in producing these retreats of
the Scottish aborigines. In rudeness of result perhaps both are on
a par. The ingenious and methodic skill, however, entirely belongs
to the old builders. Their mode of constructing with huge unhewn
stones, frequently brought from a considerable distance, seems to
point them out as the architects of that same remote era in which
the rude monumental standing stones and circular groups of monoliths
were reared, which still abound in so many districts of the Scottish
mainland and surrounding isles.

Similar subterranean structures have been discovered at different times
in Orkney, some of them of considerable extent, and including various
recesses and chambers branching off from the chief central apartment.
An unusually minute and interesting account of one in the parish of
Shapinshay is given in the Old Statistical Accounts,[102] by the
Rev. Dr. George Barry, the historian of Orkney, in which was found a
beautiful torquated ring, evidently of primitive workmanship.

Structures of the same character, on the mainland of Orkney, were
explored by Lieutenant F. W. L. Thomas, R.N., while engaged in the
Admiralty Survey in 1848. In the course of his investigation of one
of these at Savrock, about a mile to the westward of Kirkwall, and
close to the sea-shore, some curious evidence was disclosed, showing
the primitive arts of its builders, and their inability to overcome
an obstacle requiring unusual skill or effective tools. In excavating
the site for this subterranean dwelling they appear to have cleared
away the soil till they reached the natural rock, which forms the
floor of the vault. Pillars constructed at irregular intervals admit
of the whole being covered by immense slabs resting on them, where
the width is too great to be overarched at so slight an elevation by
converging walls. A long passage leads from this chamber, floored,
like it, with the natural rock. In one place, however, an irregular
elevation of the strata occurs. Such an obstacle was either beyond the
skill of the laborious architects, or at least demanded more exertion
than they cared to expend on its removal; and the roof has accordingly
been elevated so as to admit of free passage by ascending and
descending over the superimposed rock. The passages, as in nearly all
the structures of this class which have been carefully explored, are
extremely straitened. Unfortunately this primitive dwelling supplied
materials for building a neighbouring farm-house and offices before
Lieutenant Thomas had an opportunity of exploring it; so that what
remained was in a very imperfect and dilapidated state. Portions of
the roof still entire, constructed of huge masses of unhewn stone--one
of them measuring about five feet long--afforded abundant evidence
that no amount of mere physical labour was grudged in the completion
of the edifice, and seem to justify the probable assignment of it to
a period prior to the introduction of metallic tools. In another of
these subterranean buildings, however, situated on the Holm of Papey,
Lieutenant Thomas observed some doubtful indications of the use of
tools. "On the side wall, near the entrance," he remarks, "and about
six feet from the floor, there is a neatly engraved circle, about four
inches in diameter; there is also another stone, with the appearance
of two small circles touching each other, cut upon it; but it is so
common to find geometrical figures upon the Orkney flags, arising from
a semi-crystallization of the pyrites which they contain, that I am
unable to decide whether these are natural or not." The height of the
passage where it remains perfect is only two feet seven inches; but
nearly one-half of it is unroofed, and heaps of large stones lying
scattered about afford evidence of the great extent of the building
when complete. Within and around the area of this ancient structure
abundant indications were discovered of its having been used as a
dwelling-place. A large accumulation of wood or peat-ashes shewed
that it must have been occupied for a lengthened period; and this
was further proved by the great quantity of the bones of domestic
animals scattered about the place. Those of sheep, apparently of the
small northern breed still found in Orkney, were the most numerous;
but besides these, there were skulls and bones of horses and oxen,
the skull and portions of the horns of a deer, and a large bone of a
whale. A thick layer of the shells of the periwinkle, _L. Littoralis_,
covered the building and the adjacent ground, mixed sparingly with the
oyster, the escallop, the common whelk, and other edible mollusca,
which had evidently been consumed in great quantities on the spot.
Along with these were also found a few extremely rude implements, the
relics of the primitive arts of the builders, besides an antler of a
deer artificially severed from the complete tyne. These objects were
roughly fashioned from the thigh-bone of an ox, and designed apparently
as handles for some weapon or cutting implement, most probably of
shell or flint. Other Orkney relics of the same interesting class, but
exhibiting more completeness of design, and accompanied with attempts
at ornament, are described and figured in a subsequent chapter.

This large, though very imperfect example of the dwellings of primitive
communities of the ancient population of the Orkneys, may be properly
classed with the weems of the Scottish mainland, though it is not
entirely subterranean. The floor is nine feet below the natural
surface of the ground; and from the mode by which the whole appears
to have been in-roofed with immense overlapping stones, it must have
projected somewhat above the surface, and was probably covered over
with a raised mound of earth. In this respect it approaches, in some
degree, to another class of buildings, which appear to be peculiar to
Orkney and the neighbouring districts of Caithness and Sutherland,
though it is possible enough that they may have been at one time no
less common on the whole Scottish mainland. These structures, for which
it may be convenient to retain the popular name of _Picts' houses_,
are not strictly speaking, subterranean, but erected generally on the
level ground, or, at furthest, excavated in part out of the side of a
hill, so as to admit of a level entrance. Externally they are scarcely
distinguishable from the larger tumuli, but on digging into the green
mound it is found to cover a series of large chambers, built generally
with stones of considerable size, and converging towards the centre,
where an opening appears to have been left for light and ventilation.
These differ very little from many of the subterranean weems, excepting
that they are erected on the natural surface of the soil, and have been
buried by means of an artificial mound heaped over them. Barry has
minutely described one, which he calls an "ancient Pick house," opened
at Quanterness, near Kirkwall.[103] Another relic of the same class
was explored during the past year by Mr. George Petrie of Kirkwall, to
whose valuable communications on kindred subjects I have already had
occasion to refer. Through his kindness I have been favoured with a
minute account of the result of his labours, as well as with the plans
engraved, drawn from careful measurements taken at the time.

[Illustration: _Drawn by Lieut. F. W. L. Thomas R.N. from Plans by
George Petrie, Esq._


_Published by Sutherland & Knox, Edinburgh._]

In the month of October 1849, Mr. Petrie's attention was directed
to a large tumulus or green knoll, which stands about half-way up
the western declivity of Wideford-hill, overlooking the beautiful
bay of Frith on the mainland of Orkney, and within a short distance
of the Pict's house of Quanterness, described in Barry's History of
Orkney. Being on a steep and unfrequented part of the hill, it appears
to have almost entirely escaped observation. An opening, however,
had been attempted at some former period, but abandoned after an
excavation of about a couple of feet in depth had been effected. Mr.
Petrie employed men to make a section into the mound, and himself
superintended and assisted in the operation, which proved one of
considerable time and labour, from the large stones and the quantity of
clay used in completing the external mound, as well as in the masonry
of the structure found underneath. The building appears to have been
constructed in the following manner:--A place for the site having
been scooped out of the side of the hill, the cells or apartments
were built of large unhewn stones, the walls being made gradually to
converge as they rose in height, until they approached to within a
foot at top. Externally the work was bounded by a wall of about two
feet high. The entire structure was then brought to a conical shape
with stones and clay; the stones being disposed with considerable
regularity, and over all a thick layer of turf or peat had been laid.
The mound which encloses the whole is about one hundred and forty feet
in greatest circumference, and forty-five feet in diameter. The work
of exploration was commenced by making a cut, six feet in breadth,
upon the north side, and clearing away the stones and clay in the
direction of the highest part of the mound. On penetrating towards the
centre, at about six feet from the top, a stone was exposed placed on
edge, about eighteen inches long and nine inches thick, underneath
which lay another, which was found to cover a hole of about a foot
square, at the top of the chamber marked D in the plan. (_Plate_ I.)
On obtaining entrance to this chamber or cell, it proved, like those
subsequently opened, to be constructed with walls gradually converging
on all sides towards the top, and to measure five feet nine inches in
length from north to south, four feet eight inches in breadth, and
five feet six inches in height. On the west side of the chamber, the
small passage, marked _h_, was observed appearing to communicate with
another apartment, but it was so blocked up with stones and rubbish,
that excavation had to be resumed from the exterior. After working for
upwards of an hour, the large stone, marked _m_, was reached, and on
removing it an entrance was effected into the central chamber A. This
was about three-fourths filled with stones and rubbish, heaped up under
the opening marked _i_, on digging into which bones and teeth of the
horse, cow, sheep, boar, &c., were discovered mixed with the rubbish,
and also some which were supposed to be those of deer, but not a
vestige of human bones.

The general plan will convey the best idea of the form and arrangement
of the chambers. The central apartment, A, is an irregular oblong
vault, ten feet long, five feet in greatest width, and 7½ feet in
height from the bottom to the lower edge of the stones marked o o.
Above this extends the opening i, which had no other covering than
the outer layer of turf. Mr. Petrie came to the conclusion, after a
thorough examination of the whole, that the rubbish found in this large
chamber was the debris of some later building erected above the mound,
the materials of which must have been precipitated through the narrow
opening, as no part of the subterranean structure was found imperfect
with the exception of the passage _g_. From the floor of the chamber
to the extreme height of the mound is twelve feet. At the north end
of the central chamber the passage _e_ leads to the cell C, measuring
five feet seven inches long, four feet wide, and six feet high. From
the east side of this a passage extends a considerable way, until it is
abruptly terminated by the native rock. The chamber D, which was first
entered, communicates with the central apartment by a short passage
_h_, directly opposite to which is the long gallery _b_, which formed
the entrance to the building from the western side of the mound. A
third passage, _a_, proceeds in an oblique direction from the central
chamber to a cell B, the proportions of which are six feet in length,
three feet seven inches in width, and 6½ feet in height. Nothing
found in this or any of the previously explored "_Picts' houses_" gives
the slightest countenance to the idea that they were designed as places
of sepulture. The most remarkable feature about them, however, and the
one least compatible with their use as continuous dwelling-places, is
the extremely circumscribed dimensions of the passages. The whole of
them measure about fifteen inches in height by twenty-two inches in
breadth, so that entrance could only be obtained by crawling on the
ground. The arrangement affords a very striking confirmation of the
barbarous state of the people, who were yet capable of displaying so
much skill and ingenuity in the erection of these cyclopean structures.
It is curious indeed that as civilisation progressed, primitive
architecture became not only simpler but meaner, the ingenious builder
learning to supply his wants by easier methods; while also the
gregarious social ties which such laborious and extensive structures
indicate were exchanged for the more refined separation into families,
with, as we may assume, the gradual development of those virtues and
affections which flourish only around the domestic hearth.

The first step in the descending scale indicative of the abandonment
of the cyclopean architecture for simpler and less durable modes of
construction, appears in a class of dwellings of similar character to
the "_Picts' houses_," but inferior in their masonry, and generally
smaller in size and less complete in design. Examples of this class
have also been found in various parts of Scotland. They are generally
more entirely subterranean than the "Picts' houses," partaking in this
respect more of the character of the weems. They occupy, however, an
intermediate position, being excavated for the most part in the side of
a hill, so as to admit of an entrance level with the ground. They are
also found more frequently in groups, and have probably been each the
dwelling-place of a single family.

In these, oaken rafters appear to have supplied the place of the more
ancient cyclopean arch, and the walls are generally built of smaller
stones. Weems of this more fragile character have been discovered
at Prieston, near Glammis, in Forfarshire; at Alyth and Bendochy,
Perthshire; and at Pennycuick, Mid-Lothian, as well as in other
districts. One in particular, found at Alvie, Inverness-shire, measured
sixty feet in length. These may be regarded as works of a later age
than the more massive and enduring structures previously described,
when the domestic habits of the old builders had survived their
laborious arts and monolithic taste. One of the most singular groups of
this latter class is a series of contiguous excavations, on the ridge
of a hill immediately to the north of Inchtuthill, Inverness-shire,
known in the district by the name of "the steed's stalls." Seven
circular chambers are cut in the side of a steep bank, separated by
partitions of about twelve feet thick. The floors are sunk about twenty
feet, and each chamber measures fifteen feet in diameter. A long
passage of about four feet wide has formed the original way of ingress,
but the rafters, which most probably formed the roof, have long since
disappeared, and only a very partial estimate can now be formed of the
appearance presented by these singular chambers when complete.

With the same class also may be reckoned certain structures described
by Pennant as the repositories of the ashes of sacrifices. One of
these, within a few miles of Edinburgh, in the neighbourhood of
Borthwick Castle, was brought to light by the plough coming in contact
with its rough masonry, at a depth of only a foot below the surface.
It may be described as pear-shaped, and with a passage continuing from
the narrow end, measuring fifteen feet in length by two and a half in
breadth. The masonry was of the rudest description, and nearly the
whole space between the walls was filled with a rich black mould,
irregularly interspersed with charcoal, fragments of bone, and the
teeth of sheep and oxen.[104] A similar building was discovered about
the same time in the east of Fife, and one closely corresponding to it
has recently been disclosed by railway operations at Newstead, in the
neighbourhood of Melrose. In this, as in the example above referred
to, the narrow passage pointed nearly north-west; and its masonry
was equally rude; but among its contents were various carved stones,
apparently corresponding with Roman remains frequently found in that
neighbourhood, and one in particular with the cable-pattern, or woollen
fillet, so commonly employed by the Anglo-Roman sculptors.

Akin to such subterranean dwellings are the natural and artificial
caves which, in Scotland, as in most other countries, have supplied
hiding-places, retreats for anchorites, and even permanent native
dwellings, and may be described along with this class, though belonging
to many different periods. Such caves abound in Scotland, and
especially along the coast, but in general their interest arises rather
from the associations of popular traditions, than from any intrinsic
peculiarity of character pertaining to them. Few such retreats are more
remarkable, either for constructive art, or historic associations,
than the well-known caves beneath the old tower of Hawthornden, near
Edinburgh. They have been hewn, with great labour and ingenuity, in
the rocky cliff which overhangs the river Esk. No tradition preserves
the history or date of their execution, but concealment was evidently
the chief design of the excavators. The original entrance is most
ingeniously made in the shaft of a very deep draw-well, sunk in the
court-yard of the castle, and from its manifest utility as the ordinary
and indispensable appendage of the fortress, it most effectually
conceals its adaptation as a means of ingress and communication with
the rock chambers beneath. These are of various forms and sizes, and
one in particular is pierced with a series of square recesses, somewhat
resembling the columbaria of a Roman tomb, but assigned by popular
tradition as the library of its later owner, Drummond the Scottish
poet. Whatever was the purpose for which these were thus laboriously
cut, the example is not singular. A large cave in Roxburghshire,
hewn out in the lofty cliff which overhangs the Teviot, has in its
sides similar recesses, and from their supposed resemblance to the
interior of a pigeon-house, the cavern has received the name of the
_Doo-cave_. Authentic notices of the Hawthornden caves occur so early
as the reign of David II., when a daring band of Scottish adventurers
made good their head-quarters there, while Edward held the newly
fortified castle of Edinburgh, and the whole surrounding district.
In the glen of the little river Ale, which falls into the Teviot at
Ancrum, extensive groups of caves occur, all indicating, more or less,
artificial adaptation, as human dwellings; and in many other districts
similar evidences may be seen of temporary or permanent habitation,
at some remote period, in these rude recesses. Along the coast of
Arran there are several caves of various dimensions, one of which, at
Drumandruin, or Drumidoon, is noted in the older traditions of the
island as the lodging of Fin M'Coul, the Fingal of Ossian, during
his residence in Arran. Though low in the roof, it is sufficiently
capacious for a hundred men to sit or lie in it. In this, as in the
previous example, we find evidences of artificial operations, proving
its connexion with races long posterior to those with whose works we
have chiefly to do in this section of archæological inquiry. In the
further end a large detached column of rock has a two-handed sword
engraved on it, surmounted by a deer, and on the southern side of the
cave a lunar figure is cut, similar in character to those frequently
found on the sculptured pillars and crosses which abound in Scotland.
It is now more frequently styled the king's cave, and described as
the retreat of Robert the Bruce, while he lurked as a fugitive in the
Western Isles; but like many other traditions of the Bruce this seems
to be of very recent origin. Other caves in the same island are also
of large dimensions, and variously associated with popular traditions,
as, indeed, is generally the case wherever subterranean retreats of
any considerable extent occur. Some are the supposed dwellings of
old mythic chiefs, whose names still live in the traditional songs
of the Gael. Others are the retreats which the primitive confessors
of Scotland excavated or enlarged for their oratories or cells. Of
the latter class are the caves of St. Molio, on the little island
of Lamlash, or the Holy Isle, on the east coast of Arran; of St.
Columba and St. Cormac, on the Argyleshire coast; of St. Ninian, in
Wigtonshire; of St. Serf, at Dysart, on the Fifeshire coast; and the
celebrated "ocean cave" of St. Rule, in St. Andrew's Bay. This last
oratory consists of two chambers hewn out of the sandstone cliffs of
that exposed coast. The inner apartment is a plain cell, entered from
the supposed oratory of the Greek saint. The latter is nearly circular,
measuring about ten feet in diameter, and has a stone altar left hewn
in the solid rock on its eastern side. Possibly the singular dwarfie
stone of Hoy, in Orkney, owes its origin to a similar source. A huge
mass of square sandstone rock, which appears to have tumbled from
a neighbouring cliff, has been hollowed out into three apartments,
with a fire-place, vent, stone-bed, pillow, &c. The traditions of
the island preserve strange tales of a giant and his wife who dwelt
in this abode, and the "Descriptio Insularum Orchadium," written by
Jo. Ben., (John the Benedictine,) in 1592, adds to the account of its
internal accommodation the following somewhat whimsical provision for
the comfort of the latter,--"Tempore camerationis fœmina gravida fuit,
ut lectus testatur; nam ea pars lecti in qua uxor cubuit effigiem
habet ventri gravidi." Others of the Scottish caves and oratories
are less artificial in their character. They are especially abundant
in the Western Isles, and on the neighbouring coast, where the waves
of the Atlantic have wrought out caverns far surpassing in extent
and magnificence the largest in the interior of the country. Few of
these, however, possess such marked features as to distinguish them
from similar relics pertaining to no definite period, which are to
be met with on every rocky coast exposed to the rude buffets of the
ocean waves. One exception, indeed, may well claim to be singled out
as unmatched by any other work of nature or art, though belonging to
an older system than the primeval period of the archæologist. Amid
scenery unsurpassed in the interest of its historic associations, or
its venerable relics of medieval skill, stands the wondrous natural
cave which popular tradition has associated with the favourite name of

    "Nor doth its entrance front in vain
    To old Iona's holy fane,
    That nature's voice might seem to say--
    Well hast thou done, frail child of clay!
    Thy humble powers that stately shrine
    Tasked high and hard--but witness mine!"[105]

To those who are curious in investigating such ancient relics, Chalmers
furnishes a very ample list of "Natural Caves in every part of North
Britain, which have been improved into hiding-places by artificial
means."[106] The associations with many of these retreats are of the
most varied and romantic character; and few districts of the country
are without some wild or thrilling legend or historic tradition
relating to such caverned shelters of the patriot, the recluse, or the
persecuted devotee.


[91] Archæol. Scot. vol. ii. p. 54.

[92] Bell. Gall. lib. v. c. xii.

[93] Sinclair's Statist. Acc. vol. iv. p. 101.

[94] Caledonia, vol. i. p. 97. _Vide_ also New Stat. Acc. vol. vii.,
Renfrewshire, 502, &c.

[95] Martin's Western Isles, pp. 67, 87, 154.

[96] Archæol. Scot. vol. ii. p. 52.

[97] New Statist. Acc. vol. xii. p. 545.

[98] Sinclair's Statist. Acc. vol. xiv. p. 526.

[99] Sinclair's Statist, Acc. vol. xiii. p. 117.

[100] Pennant's Tour, vol. i. Appendix, p. 339.

[101] De Moribus Germanorum, c. 16.

[102] Sinclair's Stat. Acc. vol. xvii. p. 237.

[103] History of Orkney, p. 99.

[104] Pennant's Tour, vol. iii. p. 454.

[105] Lord of the Isles, Canto iv.

[106] Caledonia, vol. i. p. 97.



The ideal associations with the future and the past, which seem to
find some outward manifestation even in the rudest state of society,
spring from "that longing after immortality" which affords so strong an
evidence of its truth. To this principle of the human mind is clearly
traceable the origin of the commemorative erections which abound
wherever man has fixed his resting-place. The most primitive of these
ancient memorials are the rude unhewn columns or _standing stones_, as
they are called, which abound in nearly every district of Scotland.
Occasionally they are found in groups of two or three, and even in
greater numbers, as the celebrated "standing stones of Lundin," near
the Bay of Largo, Fifeshire, the largest of which measures sixteen
feet in height above ground. Three only now exist, singularly rude and
irregular in form, but the stump of a fourth remained when the account
of Largo parish was written in 1792.[107] It has since been destroyed
by treasure-seekers, tempted probably by the good fortune of others;
for in the vicinity have been discovered, during the present century,
some of the most interesting and valuable antiquities ever found in

Of single memorial stones examples might be cited in nearly every
Scottish parish; nor are they wanting even in the Lothians, and in
the immediate vicinity of Edinburgh, where the presence of a busy
population, and the unsparing operations of the agriculturist, have
done so much to obliterate the traces of older generations. But nearly
all are of the same character, differing in nothing but relative size,
and the varying outlines of their unhewn masses. They have outlived
the traditions of their rearers, and no inscription preserves to us
the long-forgotten name. We are not left, however, to look upon them
as altogether dumb and meaningless memorials. The history of a people
contemporaneous, it may be, with their builders, reminds us how even
the unsculptured obelisk may keep alive the records committed to its
trust, and prove faithful to those for whom it was designed. "It came
to pass," says Joshua, "when all the people were clean passed over
Jordan, that the Lord spake, saying, Take you hence out of the midst
of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve
stones, that when your children ask, in time to come, saying, What mean
these stones? then ye shall answer them." Some of these rude memorials
still remaining in the districts immediately surrounding the Scottish
capital, suffice to show the enduring tenacity of popular tradition.
The _Hare Stane_ on the Borough Moor of Edinburgh, celebrated in the
lay of Marmion as the support of Scotland's royal banner,

                "The massive stone,
    Which still in memory is shown,"

affords one example of this. Mr. William Hamper, an ingenious English
antiquary, has elaborately elucidated the derivation of the name as
applied in England, and the use of the HOAR STONES,[108] the _menhars_,
or bound stones, as stones of memorial, like "the stone of Bohan,
the son of Reuben," and other ancient landmarks of Bible story.[109]
Probably we shall justly esteem the "Hare Stane" as the memorial of the
western boundary of the ancient chase, claimed from time immemorial
by the neighbouring capital; but if so, its name has long survived
all popular recollection of the meaning which it bore. The same term,
_hair stanes_, is applied to a circular group of stones near Kirkdean,
in the parish of Kirkurd, Peeblesshire. It would appear, however, to
have been more frequently used in Scotland in the most sacred sense of
a memorial, if we judge from the examples of its application as the
designation of cairns, some of which, at least, and probably all, are
sepulchral monuments. Among these are the Haer Cairns in the parish of
Clunie; the Haer Cairns of Blairgowrie and Kinloch, Perthshire; the
Hier Cairns of Monikie, Forfarshire; the Herlaw, a gigantic cairn in
the parish of East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; the more celebrated Harlaw of
Aberdeenshire; the Harelaw at Lochhore, Fifeshire, and another in the
same county, near Burntisland, where were found underneath the cairn a
cist containing a skeleton with a bronze spear-head lying beside it.

Not far from the Hare Stone on the Borough Moor of Edinburgh, formerly
stood another monolith termed the Camus Stone, but which, though it
gave name to a neighbouring estate, and formed the march stone of its
eastern bounds, was barbarously destroyed within memory of the present
generation, to furnish materials for repairing the road! This name,
whatever be its true derivation, is attached to numerous Scottish
localities. Both in the example here referred to, in the Camus Stone
of Kintore, Aberdeenshire, and in that near the village of Camustown,
Forfarshire, vague tradition associated the stones with the name of
a supposed Danish chief; but this is more probably the invention of
modern topographers, than a genuine heirloom of popular tradition.
The name of Combust figures among the list of Pictish kings as a
contemporary of Marcus Antoninus Philosophus,[110] but the authority,
though older, is not much more trustworthy; and we shall perhaps seek
the meaning of the term more correctly in the correspondence of local
peculiarities, as in Cambusbarron, Cambuslang, Cambusnethan, &c., where
it is understood to indicate a promontory or bank inclosed by a crooked
stream, from the Celtic, cam, crooked.[111] These Cambus-stones have
all probably served as landmarks, or hoar stones; though answering
also, it may be presumed, at times, like Laban and Jacob's Pillar, as
the memorial of some high contract between friendly or rival chiefs.

Other stones, however, are associated with a variety of historical
and legendary traditions, as the "Witch Stane" near Cairnbeddie,
Perthshire, where, according to ancient local belief, Macbeth met by
night with two celebrated witches to advise on the fate of his kingdom.
It is fully as probable that this tradition may have existed in
Shakspeare's time, as that it is derived from the marvellous conception
of his great tragedy. When Cairnbeddie Mound was opened partially,
about thirty years since, a quantity of very small iron horse shoes,
with fragments of swords, and other weapons of the same metal, were
found; so that it, doubtless, forms the tumulus on the site of some old
and hard-fought battle-field, in which, perchance, the great usurper
may have played his part. Another stone in the neighbouring parish
of Meigle, a huge mass of unhewn trap, bears the name of "Macbeth's
Stane," and various local traditions with which his name is associated,
add to the probability of some true foundation for popular belief.

Evidence of the use of such rude columns as landmarks is frequently
found of a comparatively recent date. The mention of standing stones,
or circles, is not uncommon in charters and other deeds relative to the
holding of courts and the boundaries of lands. More than one curious
example of this occurs in the Registrum Episcopatus Aberdonensis, as
in the following, which also suffices to show the ancient application
of the term standing stones:--"Thir are the boundis own my lord of
Athollis syde, the stannande staine merkit like a horse-sho, and the
dik passande fra the samme staine to the burg, and syne be zound the
stripe beweste the smedy of Balmany." The _Saxum Falconis_, or "Hawk
Stane," at St. Madoes, Perthshire, which stands on the marches of what
is known to have been the ancient possessions of the Hays of Errol,
and still bounds the parishes of St. Madoes and Inchture, is referred
to by Boece as existing in his day, (1500,) and as having been set up
immediately after the defeat of the Danes in the Battle of Luncarthy,
fought _circa_ A.D. 990. The victory is ascribed, according to a
well-known tradition--still commemorated in the armorial bearings of
the Hays--to the timely interference of a Scottish peasant and his two
sons:--"Sone efter ane counsal was set at Scone, in the quhilk Hay and
his sonnis war maid nobil, and dotad, for thair singular virtew provin
in this feild, with sindry landis to sustene thair estait. It is said
that he askit fra the King certane landis liand betwix Tay and Arole;
and gat als mekil thairof as ane falcon flew of ane mannis hand, or
scho lichtit. The falcon flew to ane toun four milis fra Dunde, called
Rosse, and lichtit on ane stane, quhilk is yit callit The Falcon Stane;
and sa he gat al the landis betwix Tay and Arole, six milis of lenth,
and four of breid; quhilk landis ar yit inhabit be his posterite."[112]

The sacredness which naturally attached to landmarks, in early times,
and of which we have remarkable evidence in the Old Testament
references to them, was doubtless no less strongly felt in relation
to all stones of memorial, the enduring parchments of an unlettered
age. They seem accordingly to have been sometimes regarded, like
the medieval altar, as the inviolable witness of any agreement.
The following curious evidence of this feeling occurs in a deed in
the possession of W. H. Fotheringham, Esq., dated at Kirkwall in
1438:--"Till all and synd lele folk in Cryste, to quhais knawledge yir
pnt. wris. sal cum, Henry Randall, lawman of Orknay, John Naraldson,
balze off Kirkwaw, Jamis off Lask, Greeting in Gode ... make kend that
we the forsaide bystude saw and onherde, and for witnesse wes tane
quhene yt John off Erwyne and Will. Bernardson swor on the Hirdmane
Stein before owre Lorde ye Erle off Orknay and the gentiless off the
cuntre, that thay bystude saw and onherde, and for witnesse wes tane
quhene that Thos. Sincler, ye son off quhiln Davy Syncler, callit
in ye vestre in Sant Mawing Kirk, John of Kirkness," &c. In this
comparatively recent transaction we have probably a very accurate
illustration of the ceremonial which accompanied the erection of
a hoare-stone, or stone of memorial, whether as a landmark or the
evidence of some solemn treaty. The document from which it is extracted
has a further interest in connexion with early Scottish history. Its
date is thirty years prior to the marriage of James III. of Scotland
with Margaret of Denmark, when Orkney was first annexed to the Scottish
Crown; yet it is written throughout in the Scottish tongue.

Of an entirely opposite character are the Cat Stanes found in various
parts of Scotland, apparently deriving their name from the British
_Cad_ or the Celtic _Cath_, signifying a battle, and therefore marking
the scene of some ancient conflict. In the immediate neighbourhood of
the Camus Stone near Edinburgh, formerly stood two very large conical
cairns, styled the Cat-stanes, until demolished by the same irreverent
utilitarians who had found covetable materials in the rude memorial
stone. Underneath the cairns were cists containing human skeletons and
various bronze and iron weapons. Two iron spear-heads found in them are
now preserved in the neighbouring mansion of Mortonhall; and according
to the description of other relics formerly possessed by a neighbouring
farmer, they would appear to have also contained celts and other
weapons of bronze. A few yards to the north-west of the site which
these cairns occupied, there still stands the Kel or Caiy Stone, a mass
of the red sandstone of the district, measuring above eleven feet in
height. On digging in the neighbourhood of this primitive monument
a quantity of human bones have been found, irregularly interred,
without cists or urns, and not far from it are still visible the rude
earth-works of a British camp. Much more extensive intrenchments of
an oval form existed in the immediate neighbourhood, prior to the
construction of the new road, and are described by General Roy in
tracing one of the Roman iters.[113] There is another standing-stone
within the Mortonhall grounds, at about half a mile distant from the
site of the Cat-stanes, and also two larger masses lying together,
which are not improbably the remains of a ruined cromlech. Here, in
all likelihood, has been the battle ground of ancient Scottish chiefs,
contending, it may be, with some fierce invader. The locality is
peculiarly suited for the purpose. It is within a few miles of the sea,
and though inclosed in an amphitheatre of hills, it is the highest
ground in the immediate neighbourhood, and the very spot on which a
retreating host might be expected to make a stand ere they finally
betook themselves to the neighbouring fastnesses of the Pentland Hills.
A few miles to the westward of this is the oft-noted CATT STANE, in
Kirkliston parish, on which the painful antiquary may yet decipher the
imperfect and rudely lettered inscription--the work most probably of
much younger hands than those that reared the mass of dark whinstone
on which it is cut--IN [H]OC TVMVLO IACET VETTA . . VICTR . . About
sixty yards to the west of the Cat-stone a large tumulus formerly
stood, which was opened in 1824, and found to contain several complete
skeletons, but nearly all traces of it have now disappeared.

[Illustration: The Caiy Stone]

The rearing of stones of memorial on the scenes of victory is a custom
of many early nations, and one which has not even now entirely fallen
into disuse. The Bauta-stein of Norway and Denmark corresponds in its
signification with the Cat-stane of Scotland, nor are there wanting
examples of Scottish monoliths surrounded like the Danish ones with
a pile of small stones at their base. Such is the case with the CLACH
STEIN at Bible in Lewis, and the remarkable CLACH AN DRUIDEAN, or Stone
of the Druids, in the same island, which stands above sixteen feet high.

"The Gaelic people," says Chalmers,[114] "did sometimes erect memorial
stones; which as they were always without inscription, might as well
have not been set up." But independently of the fact that these
monuments of the remote past have long since accomplished the original
purpose of their erection, it is obvious that some of them can still
furnish an intelligible response to those who ask, "What mean these
stones?" Many of them, however, it is true, have waxed dumb in the
lapse of ages, and hold a more mysterious silence than that which
surrounded the long-guarded secrets of Egypt's memorial stones. Some of
these are perhaps the last solitary column which marks the site where
once the "Druid circle" and its mystic avenue covered the plain. Remote
and widely severed stones may thus be parts of the same systematic
design, as is rendered sufficiently probable when we remember that
that of Avebury numbered even in the days of Stukeley six hundred and
fifty stones, though then by no means perfect, and that that of Carnac
in Brittany extends over an area of eight miles in length. So common
are they still in Scotland that Chalmers dispenses with his usual
laborious accumulation of references, and contents himself with this
very comprehensive one: "See the Statistical Accounts _everywhere_!"

Other monoliths are probably the TANIST STONES,[115] where the new
chief or king was elected, and sworn to protect and lead his people.
One at least, the most famous of Scottish Tanist Stones, still
exists, and mingles with the gorgeous rites of coronation services in
Westminster Abbey the primitive elements of our most ancient popular
elective monarchy. The celebrated _Lia Fail_, or Stone of Destiny, is
that which, according to Scottish chroniclers, Gathelus, the Spanish
King, a contemporary of Romulus, sent with his son when he invaded
Ireland; and on equally trustworthy authority it is affirmed to have
been the veritable pillow of the patriarch Jacob, which he set up as a
memorial stone, on the scene of his wondrous vision!

    "A gret stane this Kyng than had,
    That fore this Kyngis sete wes made,
    And haldyne wes a gret Jowale
    Wytht-in the Kynryk of Spayne hale.
    This Kyng bad this Symon ta
    That stane, and in-tyl Yrland ga,
    And wyn that land and occupy,
    And halde that stane perpetually.
      Fergus Erc son fra hym syne
    Down discendand ewyn be lyne
    In to the fyve and fyfty gre,
    As ewyne recknand men may se,
    Broucht this Stane wytht-in Scotland,
    Fyrst quhen he come and wane that land.
           *       *       *       *       *
    Now will I the werd rehers,
    As I fynd of that Stane in wers;
    _Ni fallat fatum, Scoti, quocumque locatum
    Invenient lapidem, regnare tenentur ibidem_."[116]

The Lia Fail is believed to have served for many ages as the coronation
throne of the monarchs of Ireland; and according to Irish bardic
traditions, to have borne testimony to the divine right of sovereignty
by roaring beneath the legitimate monarch when seated on it at his
inauguration! It was removed to Scotland, and deposited at Icolmkil
or Iona, for the coronation of Fergus Erc, or Mac Eark, a prince of
the blood royal of Ireland;[117] from which it was finally translated
to the Abbey of Scone, when the Scottic kings had extended their
sovereignty over the ancient kingdom of the Picts. In Scotland it
bore the name of the "King's Stone," and was regarded as the national
palladium, until Edward I. in 1296, ordered it to be conveyed to
Westminster as an evidence of his absolute conquest of Scotland.[118]
But the evidence failed, and the older prophecy holds good that
wherever that stone rests princes of Scottish blood shall rule the
land, though the Lia Fail no longer gives audible testimony to the
legitimate heir. It can hardly fail to impress the thoughtful mind, as
a singular link between eras so widely severed, not by time only but by
every social and political change, that the rude Tanist Stone belonging
to a period dimly cognizable in the remotest past, still forms a part
of the coronation chair of the British sovereign in Westminster Abbey.
The use of the Tanist Stone is, like so many other primitive customs,
of Eastern origin, and traceable to a very remote era. Thus when
Abimelech was made king, it was _by the pillar which was in
Shechem_;[119] and when Jehoash was anointed king by Jehoiada, _the
king stood by a pillar, as the manner was_.[120] The standing stone
appears indeed to have been the most sacred attestation of every solemn
covenant between contracting parties, including that between the
elected chief or king and his people; and hence the super-addition of
those peculiar virtues supposed to attach to the ancient Scottic Lia

One other stone is deserving of some note, from the vague records which
tradition has preserved of its connexion with the rites of a long
extinct creed. Mr. Wakeman remarks, in his Archæologia Hibernica,[121]
"Perforated stones, very similar to the ordinary pillar stone, are
found in many parts of Ireland, Scotland, and even, as appears from
Mr. Wilford's Asiatic Researches, in India. Abroad as well as at home
their origin is shrouded in the deepest obscurity, nor is it likely
that the subject can ever be elucidated." They are by no means so
common, however, as this would imply. At Applecross, in the west
of Ross-shire, a perforated stone occupies the centre of a stone
circle; and at Tormore, in the parish of Kilmorie, Buteshire, there
is a celebrated monolithic circle, styled _Siudhe choir Fhionn_, or
Fingal's cauldron seat, one of the columns of which is perforated, and
is commemorated in old Highland traditions as the stone to which the
Celtic hero was wont to tie his dog Bran. Immediately adjoining the
circle are three huge unhewn columns, about fifteen feet in height
above the surface of the moor. Along with these examples may be noted a
curious group in the parish of Maddern, Cornwall, consisting of three
stones, the centre one of which is pierced with a large circular hole,
through which, Borlase informs us,[122] rheumatic patients were wont
to crawl as a sovereign remedy for their disease. Perforated stones
must once have been common in England, and probably in Scotland also,
as the Anglo-Saxon laws repeatedly denounce similar superstitious
practices; but they are now of the rarest occurrence. Tradition has
preserved some curious associations with one of the most interesting
Scottish examples, which may perhaps be thought to throw some doubtful
light on the use to which such perforated pillars were devoted at a
comparatively late period of our island history. The celebrated STONE
OF ODIN, near the Loch of Stennis, in Orkney, which has had a new
interest added to it by being interwoven with the romantic incidents
of the "Pirate," was one of the remarkable monolithic group called The
Stones of Stennis. It formed no part, however, either of the Great
Ring of Brogar, or of the neighbouring circle of Stennis, but stood
apart, to the north-east of the latter group; though it can scarcely
be doubted that it bore some important relation to these ancient and
mysterious structures. The Stone of Odin is described as standing
about eight feet high, and perforated with an oval hole large enough
to admit a man's head. A curious, though rudely executed bird's-eye
view of the Stones of Stennis is given in the Archæologia Scotica,[123]
from a drawing executed by the Rev. Dr. Henry, about the year 1780,
and there a man and woman are seen interchanging vows, plighted by the
promise of Odin, which Sir Walter Scott refers to as "the most sacred
of northern rites yet practised among us." The vow was sworn while the
engaging parties joined hands through the perforation in the stone;
and though it is difficult to decide how much of the tradition may be
ascribable to modern embellishment and the adaptation of a genuine
heirloom of primitive superstition to the preconceived theories of
local antiquaries, there cannot be a doubt of the popular sacredness
attached to this sacramental stone in former times. An illustration of
the practice from which this originated is supposed to be traceable in
an ancient Norse custom, described in the Eyrbiggia Saga, by which,
when an oath was imposed, he by whom it was pledged passed his hand,
while pronouncing it, through a massive silver ring sacred to this

The solemnity attached to a vow ratified by so awful a pledge as this
appeal to the Father of the Slain, the severe and terrible Odin,
continued to maintain its influence on the mind till a comparatively
recent date. Dr. Henry, writing in 1784, refers to the custom as having
fallen into disuse within twenty or thirty years of the time he wrote,
and adds, "this ceremony was held so very sacred in those times, that
the person who dared to break the engagement was counted infamous, and
excluded all society." Principal Gordon, of the Scots College, Paris,
who visited Orkney in 1781, thus refers to a curious example, showing
probably the latest traces of this venerable traditionary relic of
Scandinavian superstition:[125]

    "At some distance from the semicircle stands a stone by itself,
    eight feet high, three broad, nine inches thick, with a round
    hole on the side next the lake. The original design of this
    hole was unknown, till about twenty years ago it was discovered
    by the following circumstance: A young man had seduced a girl
    under promise of marriage, and she proving with child, was
    deserted by him. The young man was called before the Session;
    the elders were particularly severe. Being asked by the
    minister the cause of so much rigour, they answered, You do not
    know what a bad man this is; he has broke the promise of Odin.
    Being further asked what they meant by the promise of Odin,
    they put him in mind of the stone at Stenhouse, with the round
    hole in it, and added, that it was customary when promises
    were made, for the contracting parties to join hands through
    this hole; and promises so made were called the promises of

It is possible that the awe which the vow of Odin so recently inspired
may have originated in the use of the stone for more dreadful purposes
than the most solemn contract, sealed with imprecations derived from a
barbarous Pagan creed; though little value can be attached to another
tradition, described by Dr. Henry as still existing in his time,--that
human victims destined for sacrifice were bound to the perforated
column, preparatory to their slaughter as an acceptable offering to
the terrible god. Another stone, on the north side of the island of
Shapinshay, bears the name of the Black Stone of Odin; but no definite
associations are now attached to it, and its sole value is as the march
stone between the grounds of two conterminous heritors.[127] A more
trustworthy tradition ascribed peculiar virtues to the Stennis Stone,
manifestly corresponding with those referred to by Borlase in connexion
with one at Maddern, and denounced in ancient Anglo-Saxon laws.
According to this a child passed through the hole would never shake
with palsy in old age. The practice exhibits a sagacious anticipation
of future ills, the hole being too small to admit of the remedy being
made available when most required.

A view of this remarkable memorial of ancient manners and superstitious
rites, is given in Lady Stafford's "Views in Orkney, and on the
North-eastern Coast of Scotland," drawn in 1805, and has been
copied as one of the illustrations for the Abbotsford edition of
the Pirate. But the stone itself no longer exists. After having
survived the waste of centuries, until it had nearly outlived the
last traditionary remembrance of the strange rites with which it had
once been associated, it was barbarously destroyed by a neighbouring
farmer, in the year 1814, along with two stones of the adjacent
semicircle. Had it not been for the interference of Mr. Malcolm Laing,
the historian, the whole group of Stennis would have been broken down
as building materials for the ignorant Goth's cow-sheds. The act was
the less culpable, perhaps, as the perpetrator was a stranger who
had only recently taken up his abode in Orkney. It affords proof,
however, that the native reverence for the venerable memorial had
not entirely disappeared, that its unfortunate destroyer's life was
rendered miserable by the petty persecutions with which the natives
sought to revenge the destruction of their sacramental stone. So far,
indeed, was this manifestation of popular indignation carried, that
various conspiracies are said to have been formed to injure him, and
two different attempts were made to set fire to his dwelling and
property;[128] a sufficiently manifest token that the old spirit of
veneration for the stone of Odin was not unknown to the modern Orcadian.

A still more remarkable class of monumental stones remain to be
described, including the singular sculptured pillars, peculiar, it is
believed, to Scotland. But we have already trespassed on the relics of
later eras, and these necessarily belong to a period long posterior
to that when the rude aboriginal Caledonian possessed no other tools
than the stone hammer and the flint chisel or arrow-head, with which to
grave the memorial of his fame and the annals of his race.

In the investigations of the archæologist, even though devoted, as this
inquiry is, to the examination of ancient memorials within an extremely
circumscribed area, he frequently finds that he is dealing with the
evidences of certain phases of progressive civilisation in the history
of the race, rather than with mere national peculiarities. The farther
research is pursued this becomes the more apparent, and we learn,
without much surprise, from the recent invaluable researches in the
valley of the Mississippi,[129] that the ancient tumuli of the American
continent are found to contain, amid many relics peculiar to the new
world, stone celts and hammers, flint and bone arrow and lance heads,
and other primitive weapons and implements so precisely resembling
those disinterred from the early British barrows, that the most
experienced eye could hardly tell the one from the other. To conclude
from this that we have found evidence of an affinity of race, or of
mutual intercourse between the rude aborigines of Britain and America
in that mysterious period of the long forgotten past, however plausible
it might seem at first sight, would be to adopt a theory which the
investigation of the arts of modern races, such as the natives of
Polynesia, must at once dispel. The same correspondence of primitive
weapons is found in the north of Europe, in the steppes of Asia, in the
ancient tumuli near the Black Sea, and even mingling with the evidences
of earliest civilisation on the banks of the Tigris and the Nile. We
must look, therefore, for the means of accounting for such remarkable
correspondence of primitive tools, to some cause operating naturally
at a certain stage of development in the human mind. It is the first
manifestation of man's intelligent instincts as a tool-using animal,
and furnishes a singular evidence of the instinctive faculties which
belong to him as well as to the lower animals, though few and uncertain
traces of these remain distinguishable where civilisation has fostered
the nobler faculty of reason, and brought it into healthy and vigorous

It is not unworthy of note, in the exhibition of a more advanced stage
of the same development of features pertaining to the human mind in its
progressive civilisation, that there seems also to have been an epoch
in the early history of man, when what may be styled the monolithic era
of art has been developed under the utmost variety of circumstances.
In Egypt it was carried out, with peculiar refinement, by a people
whose knowledge of sculpture and the decorative arts proves that it
had its origin in a far deeper source than the mere barbarous love of
vast and imposing masses. In Assyria, India, Persia, and throughout the
Asiatic continent, this monolithic taste appears to have manifested
itself among many independent and widely severed races. In Mexico
and the central portions of the American continent, a people parted
apparently by impassable oceans from the old world, have left enduring
evidences of this psychological phenomenon; and in the north of Europe,
under circumstances no less widely different from all these nations,
numerous monolithic columns and groups attest the same pervading
idea. In our own island, more especially, where now we are content
to build a monumental obelisk, just as we do a cotton-mill chimney,
with successive tiers of stone, we possess some of the most remarkable
remains of this peculiar class. The destructive encroachments of
civilisation, and the ruthless assaults of the quarrier and the
builder, have done much to obliterate these singularly interesting
memorials of primitive antiquity. Already the vast temple of Avebury
has all but disappeared, like an old ripple-mark of the tide of
time. But there still remain, in the huge cromlechs, circles, and
standing stones scattered throughout the land, abundant evidence of
the influence of the same peculiar taste on the early races of the
British Isles, originating, as I conceive, in an unconscious aim at the
expression of abstract power.

The convenient terms of Druid altars and temples have long supplied
a ready resource for the absence of all knowledge of their origin or
use. The cromlech has at length been restored to its true character
as a sepulchral monument by the very simple process of substituting
investigation for theory. But after the devotion of many learned and
ponderous volumes to the attempted elucidation of Druidism, the subject
has lost little of its original obscurity; and we shall follow a safer,
if it be a less definite guide, in tracing the peculiar character of
the so-called Druidical monuments to feelings which appear to have
exercised so general an influence on the human race. The idea of the
origin of these monolithic structures from some common source seems
to have suggested itself to many minds. Colonel Howard Vyse, when
describing the great hypæthral court, surrounded with colossal figures,
which stands before the rock temple of Gerf Hossein, the ancient
Tutzis, remarks:--"The massive architraves placed upon the top of these
figures reminded me, like those at Sabooa, of Stonehenge; and it is
not improbable that, together with religious traditions, the art of
building temples may have even reached that place from Egypt."[130]

To speak, as some recent writers have done, as if the mechanical and
engineering knowledge by which the Egyptians were able to quarry and
erect their gigantic monoliths had become even a greater mystery
to us than the hieroglyphic legends which they inscribed on them,
is manifestly a hasty and altogether unfounded assumption. It is
their taste, and not their skill, which is wanting. The modern eye
is satisfied with the perfect proportions of the monumental column,
without seeking the barbaric evidence of difficulties overcome implied
in the lifting of it in one mass upon its pedestal. A few years since
the workmen in Craigleith quarry, near Edinburgh, disengaged a mass of
the fine sandstone of the district, capable of rivalling the colossal
obelisks of Egypt; but the proprietor in vain advertised the feat,
in the hope that some committee of taste would avail itself of the
opportunity of once more erecting a British monolith of primitive
mass; and he had at last to break it down into cubes adapted to the
ordinary wants of the modern builder. When, however, such a feat
has to be accomplished as the spanning of the Menai Straits with a
railway viaduct, no lack of engineering skill is felt in coping with
difficulties which may stand comparison with the most gigantic of the
self-imposed feats of the old Egyptian builder.[131] We may fairly
presume, therefore, that we have left the monolithic era behind us,
not by the oblivion of former knowledge, but by the progress of the
human mind beyond that stage of development when it finds its highest
gratification in such displays of rude magnificence and vast physical

The Stones of Stennis, already referred to as the Orcadian Stonehenge,
are unquestionably the most remarkable monolithic group in Scotland,
and, indeed, if we except the great temple of Salisbury Plain, in the
British Isles. Without entering meanwhile into any investigation of the
evidence which various writers have derived from northern mythology or
popular traditions, with a view to throw some light on the probable
date of their origin, or the character of their builders, it furnishes
a rational basis for the classification of such ancient monuments among
the remains of the Primeval Period, that they exhibit no indication of
having been hewn or shapen with tools. Unless the perforation of the
stone of Odin be an exception, the columns have been erected just as
they were dislodged from the earth; and we have only to account for
their separation from the parent strata and their erection on the site
which they still occupy. In this respect they correspond with the more
ancient English temple of Avebury rather than with that of Stonehenge,
which belongs to an era when efficient metallic tools, whether of
bronze or iron, must have supplied the means of hewing the gigantic
columns into some degree of uniformity, and fitting the lintels to the
upright columns by means of the mortice and tennon still discoverable
amid the ruins of that wonderful monument of ancient skill. We are
not altogether without some evidence to induce the belief that the
early Caledonian did dislodge and cleave into amorphous columns the
unquarried rocks with which his native soil abounded, when armed with
no fitter tool than the stone wedge and hammer. The Rev. James Little,
in furnishing Sir John Sinclair with an account of the antiquities of
the parish of Southwick, in Kirkcudbright, mentions the discovery, on
the estate of Southwick, "in the middle of a large granite stone, when
blasted with gunpowder, in a socket exactly fitted to it, of a piece
of the same kind of substance, smooth and polished, in form somewhat
resembling a rude hatchet, about nine inches long. The virtuosi to
whose inspection it was submitted did not hesitate immediately to
pronounce it to be a hatchet which had been used by the Druids in
performing sacrifices; which conjecture they imagined warranted by the
vestiges of a Druidical temple very near where it was found."[132] The
reverend Statist rather inclines to regard it as a _lusus naturæ_. A
few years later another was found, under similar circumstances, in
a cavity of an enormous mass of stone, on the farm of Mains, near
Dumfries. It was also of polished granite; and from the outline of it
in the Archæologia, no doubt can be entertained of its being a genuine
stone wedge or celt.[133] Still it is not meant to assume from this
that all such monuments were erected prior to the introduction of
metals, but only that they indicate an origin coeval with the state
of civilisation in which the use of metallic implements was, at best,
but imperfectly known, and when the massive size of these rude unhewn
monoliths abundantly satisfied the human mind in its desire for a
visible shrine adequate to the awful mysteries shadowed forth in the
heathen mythology.

The site of the celebrated Orkney group is perhaps little less
remarkable than the venerable monuments to which it owes its name.
A long and narrow neck of land separates the Loch of Stennis, a
salt-water lake into which the tide rises and falls, from the fresh
waters of the Loch of Harray, save at the narrow strait of Brogar,
where at times the tidal wave mingles with the tideless waters of
Harray; and on this, the great circle or Ring of Brogar, as it is
most commonly styled, is reared. Judging from the regularity with
which such of the stones as still remain are disposed, the number of
columns originally forming the circle appears to have been sixty, on
the assumption that they were placed at nearly equal distances apart.
Of these sixteen remained _in situ_ in 1792, and eight lay prostrate
near their original sites; but now only twenty-three stones remain,
ten of which are prostrate, and the broken stumps of a few more serve
to indicate the places they once occupied. The whole is inclosed by a
deep trench, except at two opposite points, where a level break occurs,
affording the means of entrance and exit. The diameter of the great
circle, from the inner edge of the trench, measures 366 feet. From the
eastern entrance it is possible that an avenue of stones may have once
led to the Bridge of Brogar, as the stepping-stones are styled by which
the shallow channel between the Lochs of Harray and Stennis is crossed.
On the eastern side of the channel one column still remains, bearing
the name of the Watch Stone; derived apparently from its position on
the brink of the ford commanding the passage between the great circle
and the opposite shore, but which may possibly be the only relic of
the avenue once connecting the circles on each side of the loch. The
smaller group is now frequently designated, from its crescent form, the
temple of the moon, and the larger circle that of the sun; but there
can be no doubt that these are quite modern and spurious designations.
Stennis Circle, as the smaller group is properly termed, is situated on
a nearly level piece of ground, and its semicircular outline is further
indicated by an inclosing mound of earth, presenting its opening to the
south; whereas the larger circle is environed only by a fosse. This
group was composed, at no very remote period, of seven or eight stones,
but no doubt can be entertained that the figure was originally a
circle, inclosing with its vallum, a large cromlech, the ruins of which
still remain within the area. It is described by Wallace in 1700 as
"a round set about with high smooth stones or flags;"[134] so that it
would appear to have been complete at that comparatively recent period.
It stood upon a raised circular platform, part of which still remains
about three feet above the surrounding level. Beyond this is the
embankment, forming a circle, the radius of which, measured from its
outer edge, is 117 feet. The radius of the circle, on the circumference
of which the stone columns were placed, is about fifty-two feet; and
judging from the space between those still standing, twelve stones may
be supposed to have completed the circle. But though so small a group
when compared with the Ring of Brogar, its columns are fully double
the average height of the great circle, and it must have presented,
when perfect, a far more magnificent and imposing aspect. It is painful
to think that within our own time these most interesting memorials of
an era far beyond the date of written records have fallen a prey to
ignorance, in that dangerous transition state when the trammels of
superstition are broken through without being replaced by more elevated
principles of veneration. An intelligent native of Orkney, who appears
to have left his home about 1789, remarks in his MS. notes accompanying
a valuable donation of books relating to the northern islands presented
to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland:--"If Mr. Daniell's sketch
of the Stones of Stennis (taken in 1818) be at all accurate, many of
them have disappeared, and others fallen to the ground, since I can
remember."[135] It was in the immediate neighbourhood of the smaller
circle of Stennis that the Stone of Odin stood, completing, along with
the adjacent earth-works alluded to in a former chapter, a group of
primitive monuments, which, though inferior in magnitude to the vast
temples of Wiltshire, or of Carnac in Brittany, are scarcely surpassed
in interest even by these remarkable monuments.

I am indebted to Lieutenant Thomas, R.N., to whose liberal
communications of the result of his observations in Orkney I have
already referred, for careful observations and measurements made by him
on the Stones of Stennis, of which the following are the most important

The Great Circle of Stennis, or Ring of Brogar, is a deeply entrenched
circular space, containing almost two acres and a half of superficies,
of which the diameter is 366 feet. Around the circumference of the
area, but about thirteen feet within the trench, are the erect stones,
standing at an average distance of eighteen feet apart. They are
totally unhewn, and vary considerably in form and size. The highest
stone was found to be 13.9 feet above the surface, and, judging from
some others which have fallen, it is sunk about eighteen inches in
the ground. The smallest stone is less than six feet, but the average
height is from eight to ten. The breadth varies from 2.6 to 7.9 feet,
but the average may be stated at about five feet, and the thickness
about one foot--all of the old red sandstone formation.

The trench around the area is in good preservation. The edge of the
bank is still sharply defined, as well as the two foot-banks, or
entrances, which are placed exactly opposite to each other. They have
no relation to the true or magnetic meridian, but are parallel to the
general direction of the neck of land on which the circle is placed.
The trench is twenty-nine feet in breadth, and about six in depth, and
the entrances are formed by narrow earth-banks across the fosse.

The surface of the inclosed area has an average inclination to the
eastward. It is highest on the north-west quarter; and the extreme
difference of level is estimated to be from six to seven feet. The
trench has the same inclination, and therefore could never be designed
to hold water.


  Radius to outer edge of fosse,                    212.2 feet.
  Radius to inner edge of fosse,                    183.2  "
  Radius of circle on which the stones are placed,  170.0  "
  Distance of pillars from edge of fosse,            13.2  "
  Breadth of fosse,                                  29.0  "
  Depth of fosse, average,                            6.0  "
  Distance of columns apart, average equal to        17.8  "
      breadth of causeways,
  Highest column,                                    13.9  "
  Lowest column,                                      5.9  "
  Average height of columns,                          9.0  "
  Broadest column, stump only remaining,              7.3  "
  Narrowest column,                                   1.6  "
  Average breadth,                                    5.0  "
  Average thickness,                                  1.0  "

The neighbourhood of Stennis seems to have been consecrated ground to
the ancient Orcadians. Within no great distance there are two circles
of standing stones, two others all the remaining stones of which are
prostrate, and four single standing stones, besides about twenty tumuli
of various forms and sizes.

It was long the fashion with antiquaries to receive as an established
and altogether incontrovertible position the Druidical origin of
all symmetrical groups of standing stones in the British Isles. The
more careful researches of later writers into the early history of
the Orkney and Shetland Isles, and of their intimate connexion with
Scandinavia prior to the Christian era, have led to a revision of
this opinion, and to an almost universal abandonment of a Druidical
for a Scandinavian origin of the great Temple of Stennis, and the
numerous other corresponding structures in the north of Scotland and
the Western Isles. Barry, Hibbert, Scott, and Macculloch have each
assailed the old Druidical fancies with considerable learning and
ability. "Dr. Macculloch," says Dr. Hibbert, "has wielded the hammer of
Thor with very signal success in aid of the demolition of the Druidic
theory." But notwithstanding so powerful an array of authorities
in support of this newer line of argument, I venture to think, that
when the exclusive Scandinavian theory shall have been demolished
with equally signal success, we shall be nearer the truth than has
been yet attained. The common Gaelic phrase--_Am bheil thu dol
do'n chlachan_,--Are you going to the stones? by which the Scottish
Highlander still inquires at a neighbour if he is bound for church,
seems in itself no doubtful tradition of ancient worship within the
monolithic ring. Yet it has already been shewn that some of these
were not temples but sepulchral monuments; nor is their uniformity
sufficiently marked to prove a common origin for all. Sir Walter Scott
remarks, in his Abstract of the Eyrbiggia Saga:[136]--"The Temple of
Thor is described as a circular range of upright stones, within which
one more eminent marked the Stone of Thor, where human victims were
immolated to the Thunderer, by breaking or crushing the spine. And
this description may confute those antiquaries who are disposed to
refer such circles exclusively to the Celtic tribes, and their priests,
the Druids." Dr. Hibbert has quoted this paragraph as a refutation of
those who would contend that the Temples of Orkney had been used by
Celtic tribes, before they were occupied and dedicated anew by later
Scandinavian worshippers. But it unfortunately happens in this, as in
too many other instances, that the "Abstract" furnishes a very partial
rendering of the original saga; where the Temple of Thor is described
as a vast inclosed edifice, with chambers constructed of wood, and
a chancel or sacrarium specially dedicated to the Deity, of which
the stone circle formed only one of its complicated features.[137]
Doubtless in some at least of the monolithic groups still standing, we
see but the skeleton of structures which have outlived many no less
indispensable features of the original plan, formed of more perishable
materials. Modern agricultural operations have occasionally brought
to light very obvious evidences of this. An intelligent observer
who resided on the spot, and closely watched the operations of the
workmen employed in trenching and levelling the site of a "Druidical
Circle" on Donside, in the parish of Tullynessle, Aberdeenshire, has
furnished the following account of their disclosures:--"The upright
stones were mostly gone; but it was evident that they had inclosed a
circle of about fifty feet diameter. The ground on which the temple
stood was sloping, and within the circle it had been levelled by
removing the earth on the upper side, so as to present a bank, nearly
perpendicular, of not less than five feet, gradually decreasing to
the east or lower part, when it became level. The upright stones were
on the top of the bank. From the circle, in a south-east direction,
a paved road could be traced to the distance of at least six hundred
yards through a bog, which at the farther end was about six yards
wide, but nearly twenty yards wide when it approached within fifty
yards of the circle, and here the paving was covered with ashes. The
stones were not squared, but very neatly fitted into each other."[138]
In the course of these operations two curious stone vessels were
found, hereafter described, one of which is now in the Museum of the
Scottish Antiquaries. But the differences are so striking among many
of the Scottish monolithic groups, that we look in vain for evidences
of uniformity of faith or object in their builders. Some are single
circles, others several concentric circles. There are ovals, ellipses,
and semicircles, and even cruciform groups, which a hasty generalizer
might accept as an evidence of primitive Christian art. But one thing
is common to the whole, and is found to characterize similar structures
throughout Europe and Asia--and that is the huge unhewn monolithic
columns, the evidence not of one creed, but of one remarkable phase
of the human mind, the influence of which has long since disappeared.
Diverse as were the Celtic and Scandinavian creeds, their temples were
probably of similar character; and the rude Norsemen who possessed
themselves of the Orkney Islands in the ninth century, found far less
difficulty in adapting the Temple of Stennis to the shrine of Thor,
than the Protestants of the sixteenth century had to contend with when
they appropriated the old Cathedral of St. Magnus to the rites of
Presbyterian worship. It is unquestionably opposed to all probability
that the Great Circle of Stennis, with its grand but rude monoliths,
was the work of the Norse rovers of the ninth century, seeing we have
good reason to believe that the Christian missionaries of Iona, or
the disciples of St. Servanus, had long before waged successful war
with the Pagan creed of the native Orcadians. But the question of
Scandinavian origin is fortunately put to rest, at least in the case of
this the most remarkable of all the Scottish temple groups. Professor
Munch of Christiania, who visited this country in 1849, with a view
to investigate the traces of Norwegian intercourse with Scotland, was
gratified by the discovery that the name of Havardsteigr, which was
conferred on the scene of Earl Havard's slaughter by his nephew, about
the year 970, is still applied among the peasantry to the promontory
of Stennis; the Stones of which we may well believe were grey with the
moss of centuries ere the first Norwegian prow touched the shores of
Pomona.[139] No direct reference to Stennis occurs in the Orkneyinga
Saga, but the remarkable passage referred to is to be found in that of
Olaf Trygvesson, where it is said:--"Havard was then at Steinsnes, in
Rossey. There was meeting and battle about Havard, and it was not long
ere the Jarl fell. The place is now called Havardsteigr." So was it
called in the tenth century, and so, Mr. George Petrie writes me, it is
still occasionally named by the peasantry at the present day.

A few examples of the most remarkable monolithic structures of the
Scottish mainland may be noted here. Careful and minute accounts
have already been furnished of those of Inverness-shire by Mr.
George Anderson in the Archæologia Scotica;[140] and of those of
Aberdeenshire, Argyleshire, and various other Scottish districts,
in a series of illustrated papers in the Archæologia.[141] The
varieties apparent in their grouping and structure are such as may
well justify the conclusion that instead of being the temples of
a common faith, they are more probably the ruins of a variety of
edifices designed for diverse purposes, and it may be even for the
rites of rival creeds. This at least is certain, that the latest if
not the only unquestionable evidence of their use which we possess
is not as religious temples but as courts of law and battle-rings,
wherein the duel or judicial combat was fought, though this doubtless
had its origin in the invariable union of the priestly and judicial
offices in a primitive state of society. The several concentric
circles so frequently characterizing them, add to the probability
of their adaptation to the purpose of judicial or deliberative
assemblies. Such is one of the most common marks of the Law Tings of
Orkney and Shetland, and of the Isle of Man. "Not unfrequently the
fences of a ting were concentric; the intent of which was to preserve
among the different personages of the ting a proper distinction
of rank. The central area was always occupied by the laugman, and
'those who stood with him;' and the outer spaces by the laugrettmen,
out of whom the duradom was selected, the contending parties, and
the compurgators."[142] Mr. George Petrie has called my attention
to several evidences of this in relation to the Orkney circles,
and no less remarkable proofs appear in various chartularies and
other authentic records, showing at how early a period all ideas of
association with the rites of Pagan superstition had been lost. Thus in
the Aberdeen Chartulary a notice occurs of a court held "apud stantes
lapides de Rane en le Garuiach," on the 2d May 1349, when William
de St. Michael was summoned to answer for his forcible retention of
certain ecclesiastical property;[143] and again in the Chartulary of
Moray the Bishop of Moray is summoned, in the year 1380, to attend the
court of Alexander, Lord of Regality of Badenoch, and son of Robert
II., to be holden "apud le standand stanys de la Rathe de Kyngucy
estir." Part of the business of the court was to inquire into the
titles by which the Bishop held certain of his lands, and as he is
summoned as a vassal, and had to protest against the proceedings, he is
described as standing "_extra circum_."[144]

The temple group at Leuchar, in the parish of Skene, Aberdeenshire,
consists of a circle measuring internally thirty-four feet in diameter,
composed of eight large stones disposed at regular intervals. In the
centre of this another circle is formed of smaller stones, measuring
about thirteen feet in diameter, and around it six smaller stone
circles are disposed, two of them touching one another, and the
remainder separated by regular intervals. At a short distance from
this group, nine other circles occur, similar to the smaller ones, and
two large cairns occupy commanding sites in the neighbourhood. Other
examples of combinations of circles somewhat resembling this have been
noted; and many of the larger ones have a stone laid flat-ways in the
circumference of the circle, which is usually designated the altar
stone. Concentric circles are still more common. The great temple or
Clachan of Inches, situated about two miles south of Inverness, is the
largest and most entire in that part of the country. It consists of two
circles, the inner one of which is composed of twenty-eight stones,
and measures about forty feet in diameter. The outer circle is now
only partially traceable. Fifteen stones remain, including one nine
feet in height above ground, and the diameter measures above seventy
feet. Another remarkable group occurs about half-a-mile eastward from a
stone avenue near the farm of Milltown of Culloden, which may possibly
have been once connected with it. Three concentric circles are nearly
united to an adjoining one which incloses a group of five cairns, or
what might be more accurately described as one gigantic cruciform
cairn. The contents of this singular structure would probably amply
repay the archæologist for the labour and cost of exploration. In 1824
Henry Jardine, Esq., King's Remembrancer, exhibited at a meeting of the
Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, a sceptre or rod of office, dug up
in the circle of Leys, Inverness-shire. It consisted of a rod of pure
gold, bent at top like an Episcopal crozier or Roman _lituus_, which
it is not unreasonable to imagine may have been borne by some ancient
arch-priest or king in the great assemblies of his people. A golden
funicular rod made of three pieces twisted together, and with a solid
hook at each end, was dug up in County Antrim in 1808.[145]

Monolithic groups abound in many parts of the mainland as well as in
the Western Isles, but nearly all characterized by some peculiarity.
Some are inclosed by a trench, others by a fosse; and frequently the
space between the great stones is filled up by an earthen wall. In
several districts in the south of Scotland single and double ovals are
found, and fragments of ancient groups, more or less imperfect, are
common throughout the country. The woodcut represents an imposing
monolithic group in the neighbourhood of Pitlochrie, Perthshire. One of
the great level Highland moors stretches away beneath the eye, like a
dark waveless lake, contrasting with the distant heights, among which
Benlawers rears its pyramidal summit to an elevation of upwards of 4000
feet above the level of the sea. Amid this wild Highland landscape the
huge standing stones, grey with the moss of ages, produce a singularly
grand and imposing effect; and from the idea of lofty height which
the distant mountains suggest, they convey a stronger impression of
gigantic proportions than is produced even by the first sight of the
giant monoliths of Salisbury Plain.

[Illustration: Standing Stones at Pitlochrie.]

The most remarkable of the Hebridean groups is that of Classernish,
near Loch Roag, in the island of Lewis. It consists of a circle
sixty-three feet in diameter, with a column in the centre measuring
thirteen feet in height, and an avenue of similar stones stretching to
the north, while single rows placed towards the other cardinal points
complete the cruciform arrangement of the whole. Its greatest length is
stated by Logan as 558 feet, and by Macculloch as about 680 feet; but
many of the stones are nearly buried in the moss, so that its extreme
limits are very imperfectly defined. It appears to have consisted
originally of about seventy columns, and smaller circles in the same
neighbourhood attest the ancient presence of a numerous population on
the long desolate waste, where the grey columns of Classernish are
still imposing in their ruins. The magnitude and singularity of this
monolithic group have excited the enthusiasm of Celtic antiquaries,
some of whom have discovered in it the very hyperborean temple of the
ancients, in which, according to Eratosthenes, Apollo hid his golden
arrow![146] But perhaps the most interesting of all the temple groups
of the Hebrides, is one which furnishes the same indisputable evidence
of remote antiquity to which repeated reference has been made. It may
perhaps be thought a more potent weapon even than the hammer of Thor,
in demolishing the exclusively Scandinavian theory of their origin.
In the same island of Lewis a large stone circle may be seen, which
within memory of the present generation was so nearly buried in the
moss that the surrounding heather and rushes sufficed to conceal the
stones. It has now been cleared out to a depth of fifteen feet, by the
annual operations of the islanders, in cutting peats for their winter
fuel, and as yet without exposing the bases of any of the columns. My
authority for this interesting fact is Dr. Macdonald, a gentleman who
resided for some years as a medical practitioner on the island, during
which time he was accustomed to watch the progressive exhumation of
the long-buried Celtic temple with mingled feelings of interest and
curiosity. But this is not a solitary example. On various parts of
the mainland monolithic groups still remain partially entombed in the
slowly accumulating mosses, the growth of unnumbered centuries. On one
of the wildest moors in the parish of Tongland, Kirkcudbrightshire, a
similar example may be seen, consisting of a circle of eleven stones,
with a twelfth of larger dimensions in the centre, the summits of the
whole just appearing above the moss. Adjoining the group there stands a
large cairn with its base doubtless resting on the older soil beneath.
With such evidence at command, it is manifest that however vague many
of the speculations may be which have aimed at the elucidation of rites
and opinions of the Celtic Druids, and have too often substituted mere
theory for true archæological induction, we shall run to an opposite
error in ascribing to a Scandinavian origin structures manifestly in
existence long prior to the earliest Norwegian or Danish, or even
perhaps Celtic, descent on our coasts.

The Scottish cromlech, which belongs to the same period as the standing
stones and circular temples, has already been referred to under its
true head of Sepulchral Memorials; it need only be added, that some at
least of the smaller stone circles appear to belong to the same class,
and to have been only the encircling monument that marked out the spot
consecrated by the dust of some mighty chief, or formed subsidiary
features of a group in which the ruined cromlech still forms the most
prominent object. But the idea of a temple has become so indelibly
associated even in the minds of intelligent antiquaries with the circle
of standing stones, that even when such circles are found in groups,
the convenient name is still retained. "Nearly in a line between East
and West Law, Fifeshire," says Lieutenant-Colonel Miller, in his
inquiry respecting the site of Mons Grampius, "there are no less than
eight Druidical temples." To account for such a state of things we
shall next be compelled to assume that old Scottish Druidism was split
into even more rival sects than modern Scottish Presbytery, and perhaps
be taught to decipher from the symbolism of the rude monoliths, their
number, or their orientation, the degree of heresy that characterized
each Druidical conventicle! Such speculations cannot, after all,
surpass the extravagant and baseless theories of Sabaism, fire-worship,
Druidism, astrology, &c., which have been already deduced from the
number of stones, the direction of the entrance, or other equally
slight and constantly varying elements of argument.

One other and still more remarkable, class of works remains to be
noted: These are the Rocking Stones, which are found among the ancient
monuments of England and Ireland, as well as on various parts of
the Continent, and are no less frequent in Scotland. No evidences
of ancient skill or of primitive superstitious rites are more
calculated to awaken our astonishment and admiration of their singular
constructors. There is so strange a mixture of extreme rudeness and
great mechanical skill in these memorials of the remote past, that they
excite greater wonder and awe in the thoughtful mind than even the
imposing masses inclosing the sacred area of Stonehenge or the circle
of Stennis. It would, I imagine, prove a much more complicated problem
for the modern engineer to poise the irregular and amorphous mass on
its point of equilibrium, than to rear the largest monolithic group
that now stands to attest the mechanical power which the old builders
could command.

It has indeed been supposed by some that the origin of Rocking Stones
is traceable entirely to natural causes, and this opinion is now
adopted by Worsaae and other Danish and Norwegian antiquaries.[147]
Such a theory, however, seems to stand fully as much in need of proof
as that which regards them as stones of ordeal, by which the Druid
or Scandinavian priests were wont to test the guilt or innocence of
the accused. Apollonius Rhodius speaks of rocking stones placed on the
apex of tumuli, and Mr. Akerman refers, in his Archæological Index, to
the famous Agglestone Barrow, in the island of Purbeck, as having been
similarly surmounted.[148] One such undoubted example would abundantly
suffice to overthrow this geological theory of natural formation. It
is a less conclusive, though not altogether valueless argument, that
some of the most remarkable logan stones of Scotland are found in the
immediate vicinity of other undoubted primitive stone-works. The great
rocking stone in the parish of Kirkmichael, Perthshire, for example,
has already been referred to as one of a large group of stone circles,
cairns, and other monuments of the same class. Its form is that of a
rhombus, of which the greater diagonal is seven feet, and the less
five feet, and its weight is calculated at about three tons and half
a hundredweight. On pressing down either of the extreme corners, a
rocking motion is produced, which increases until the arc through which
its longest radius moves exceeds a foot. When the pressure has been
continued so as to produce this effect, the stone makes from twenty-six
to twenty-eight vibrations from side to side after it is withdrawn. A
much larger rocking stone is situated on the Hill of Mealyea, in the
parish of Kells, Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. Its weight is estimated
at from eight to ten tons, and it is so nicely poised that it can
be set in motion with the pressure of the finger. To this the name
of the Logan Stone is popularly applied in the Stewartry, therein
corresponding with the term used in Cornwall and other districts of
England. A second rocking stone formerly existed on the same range of
hills, but it was thrown down about thirty years since. Others remain
in the parish of Dron, Perthshire, on a hill in the neighbourhood of
the manse; in the parish of Abernethy, celebrated for its venerable
ecclesiastical relics; and on the north side of the Cuff Hill, in the
parish of Beith, Ayrshire; but none of them present any very special
peculiarity worthy of note. It is not designed to offer a new theory
here concerning the purpose of these singular "Stones of Ordeal;" nor
even to pronounce on the certainty of their artificial origin; but I
cannot help thinking it opposed to every doctrine of probabilities,
that nature in the course of her ceaseless operations of denudation
and attrition should in so many instances have _chanced_ to wear away
an amorphous rock so as to leave it poised in its centre of gravity
on a single point. So numerous are the examples of rocking stones,
that those who assign to them a natural origin would seem justified in
anticipating the discovery of some unknown law of nature tending to
such a result. But even if this extravagant doctrine of their origin
is adopted, the rocking stones will still justly come within the range
of archæological studies, as it can hardly admit of a doubt that they
were objects of reverent estimation by the old monolithic builders. It
is rare to find them far removed from a stone circle or other primitive
structure, which may indeed have owed its erection to the prior
existence of the rocking stone, but would more naturally suggest the
old conclusion that also originated in the same laborious contrivance
and skill which reared the ponderous dolmens, cromlechs, and monolithic
groups already described.


[107] Sinclair's Statist. Acc. vol. iv. p. 546.

[108] Archæologia, vol. xxv. p. 24. References to such landmarks are
not uncommon in ancient charters. Notice of certain bound stones, at
_Stansfield_, Staffordshire, occurs in a deed dated 6 Henry VII., ibid.
vol. ii. p. 359, and similar allusions are common in the Scottish

[109] Joshua xv. 6; xviii. 17; Deut. xix. 14; Prov. xxii. 28, &c.

[110] Wyntoun's Cronyklis, book v. chap. vii. fol. 88.

[111] Gael. _cam_; Gr. καμψος; Lat. _curvus_; Gael. _camus_, a bay. The
prefix _cam_, or crooked, enters into many Gaelic compounds and proper

[112] Bellenden's Boece, b. xi. chap. viii.

[113] Roy's Military Antiquities, p. 103.

[114] Caledonia, vol. iii. p. 233.

[115] Gael. _Tanaiste_, a thane or lord, the next heir to an estate.

[116] Wyntownis Cronykil, book iii. chap. ix.

[117] Transac. Royal Irish Academy, vol. xviii. p. 159. Dr. Petrie
challenges the pedigree of the Scottish Lia Fail, and even goes some
length to establish the reputation of a stone at Tara as the genuine
one, but the Scottish stone has too faithfully fulfilled its character
as the Stone of Destiny to admit of any such unaccredited rival!

[118] _Vide_ Hailes' Annals, _note_, vol. ii. p. 242.

[119] Judges ix. 6.

[120] 2 Kings xi. 14.

[121] Archæol. Hibern. p. 19.

[122] Borlase, p. 177, Plate XIV.

[123] Archæol. Scot. vol iii. p. 122.

[124] Eyrbiggia Saga. Abstract Illust. of Northern Antiquities, p. 479.

[125] Sir Walter Scott speaks of this ceremony as confined to the
lower classes, at the time of his writing the "Pirate;" but this is
contradicted by the statement of Dr. Henry, and there is every reason
to believe that it had fallen at a much earlier period into disuse.

[126] Archæol. Scot. vol. i. p. 263.

[127] Sinclair's Statist. Acc. vol. xvii. p. 235.

[128] Peterkin's Notes on Orkney, p. 21.

[129] Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, Smithsonian
Contributions to Knowledge, vol. i.

[130] Pyramids of Gizeh, vol. i. p. 54.

[131] The Menai tubes, composed of wrought-iron plates, measure each
1524 feet in length, and the weight of the whole is estimated at 10,540
tons. This enormous structure had to be raised a height of 100 feet,
and thrown over an arm of the sea 1100 feet in width, and navigable by
the largest ships.

[132] Sinclair's Stat. Acc. vol. xvii. p. 110.

[133] Archæologia, vol. vii. p. 414.

[134] Wallace's Orkney, p. 53.

[135] A. Z., a native of Orkney, resident in London, who under this
title presented to the Society from time to time a curious and valuable
collection of books relating to the Orkney and Shetland Islands,
accompanied with copious MS. notes, some of which contain touching
allusions to the fond recollections cherished by him of his native

[136] Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, p. 480.

[137] The following is the passage to which Sir Walter Scott
refers:--"Visitur ibi hodiedum circulus concessus judicialis intra quem
homines, Diis victima fieri jubebantur. Eminensque in isto circulo
Saxum Thoris, in quo hominibus sacrificio destinatis terga confracta
sunt, quodque sanguinem adhuc colorem conspiciendum præbet," &c.
(Eyrbiggia Saga. G. J. Thorkelin, 1787. P. 27.) But a much more minute
account is given in an earlier portion of the Saga, where Thorolf
ascertains the destined site of the new temple by casting its wooden
pillars into the sea, and accepting as the sacred spot a promontory
to which they were borne by the tides. This is the description of the
erection, which it will be seen is something different from a mere
circle of stones:--"At Hofsvog he caused a temple to be erected, a
house of vast magnitude, with doors in the side wall, somewhat near
to either extremity. Within the doors were the pillars of the chief
seat, secured with nails, and called sacred or divine. In the interior
another chamber was constructed in the shape which the chancels of
churches now have, in the middle of the pavement of which stood the
pulvinar, as well as the altar," &c. _Vide_ Ibid. p. 11.

[138] MS. Letter, John Stuart, Esq., Advocate, Aberdeen, 1888. Libr.
Soc. Antiq. Scot.

[139] The name Stennis, of Norwegian origin, was obviously the apposite
description suggested to the first Scandinavian voyagers by the
appearance of the singular tongue of land, crowned by its monolithic
circle; but the death of Earl Havard, as mentioned in the Northern
Sagas, conferred on it new associations and a corresponding name.
Professor Munch, whose natural bias as a Norwegian might have inclined
him to claim for his countrymen the erection of the Great Scottish
Circle, remarks, in a recent letter to me:--"Stennis is the old Norn
_Steinsnes_, that is, 'the promontory of the stones;' and that name
it bore already when Havard fell, in the beginning of the island,
being Scandinavian. This shows that the Scandinavian settlers found
the stones already standing;--in other words, that the standing stones
belonged to the population previous to the Scandinavian settlement."

[140] Archæol. Scot. vol. iii. p. 211.

[141] Archæologia, vol. xxii. p. 55; vol. xxv. p. 614, &c.

[142] Hibbert on the Tings of Orkney and Shetland. Archæol. Scot. vol.
iii. p. 141.

[143] Regist. Episcop. Aberdon. vol. i. p. 79.

[144] Regist. Episcop. Morav. p. 184.

[145] Archæologia, vol. xvi. p. 353.

[146] Logan's Scottish Gael, vol. ii. p. 322; Macculloch's Highlands
and Isles, vol. iii. p. 232.

[147] Primeval Antiquities of Denmark, p. 110.

[148] Archæol. Index, p. 34.



The singular correspondence between many of the weapons and implements
of the Stone Period, in almost every quarter of the globe, has already
been referred to; but there are not wanting many others presenting such
national and local peculiarities as are worthy of careful noting and
comparison. In this respect much still remains to be done for Scottish
Archæology. A far more abundant store of materials, and a much larger
class of intelligent and educated observers are required, before the
subject can be placed in its true light as an elementary basis from
whence to deduce the legitimate inferences involved in this branch
of science. It will meanwhile help towards the establishment of a
fixed nomenclature and the basis of more extended classification, as
observers increase, to exhibit at one view the chief known varieties of
the weapons and implements of the Scottish Stone Period.

The rude and unshapely fragments of flint known by the name of Flint
Flakes, and now recognised as specimens of the first stages of weapon
manufacture of the period to which they belong, have only very recently
fully attracted the attention of archæologists. The merit in this, as
in so many other important elementary principles of the science, is
due to the intelligence and sagacity of the antiquaries of Copenhagen,
and the admirable facilities afforded by the liberality of the Danish
Government. The flakes of flint, which are met with in considerable
abundance, appear to have been struck off from a solid mass. They are
ordinarily found from about one to six inches long, and frequently
present a curved form, it being apparently a property of flint to
flake off in this manner. Sometimes they occur in the simplest state;
in other cases they are partially reduced to their intended form.
But rude as they are, they are of the utmost value to us, from the
insight which is thereby obtained into the process of manufactory of
the primitive lance and arrow-head. It is obvious, from the frequent
discovery of such among sepulchral deposits, that considerable value
was attached to them; nor must we overlook the fact, that while flint
is found in the greatest abundance both in Denmark and the south of
England, there are many parts of Scotland where it is scarcely to be
met with. Here, therefore, we discover the first traces of primitive
trading and barter. The flint flakes were, in fact, the _raw material_,
which had to be imported from other districts before the hunter of the
Stone Period could supply himself with the indispensable requisites for
the chase. A few examples will suffice to shew the abundance of such
materials, and the circumstances under which they are found, though it
will readily be believed that it is only rarely that their occurrence
is noted, or falls under the observation of those who consider them of
the slightest value.

In one of the cases in the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries of
Scotland there is a skull found in an ancient cist, on the farm of
Clashfarquhar, parish of Banchory-Devenich, Aberdeenshire, in 1822. It
is chiefly curious from having on the crown of the head a hole nearly
circular, and rather more than an inch in diameter, which there can be
little doubt was occasioned by the death-blow. The size and cerebral
development of the head nearly resembles the usual character of skulls
found in the earliest cists; and it is not difficult to conceive of the
wound having been inflicted with the narrow end of a stone celt. In
each corner of the cist a few flint flakes were carefully piled up into
a little heap. Alexander Thomson, Esq. of Banchory, remarks of them,
in a letter which accompanied the donation of the skull:--"They are
very proper for being made into arrow-heads, but none of them appear to
have been wrought."[149] Similar relics of early art have been noted
at various times in the same district of the country:--"On the alluvial
soil near the sea," remarks the author of the New Statistical Account
of Belhelvie, "there is a bed of yellow flints, in which a number of
very well formed arrow-heads are frequently found;" and in no part of
Scotland are these primitive relics more abundant than in the landward
districts of Aberdeenshire. In the large cairn of Menzie, on Cairn
Moor, Buchan, there was found, in a stone cist, "along with earth and
bones, a dart-head of yellow flint, most perfectly shaped, and a little
block, also of yellow flint, as if intended to furnish the deceased
with more darts, should he have occasion for them on the passage."[150]
In 1821 several flint flakes, and imperfectly formed flint implements,
were found, along with two perfect arrow-heads of the same material,
in an urn containing incinerated bones, on the estate of Closeburn,
Dumfriesshire. The urn, and several of the half-formed flints, are now
in the Scottish Museum. A similar deposit was discovered only last year
(1849) by workmen engaged in digging for stones to build a march dyke
between the farm of Swinie and an adjoining one on the neighbouring
estate of Wells, Roxburghshire. There were four cairns, two of which,
on being demolished, disclosed cists containing urns, and beside them
a quantity of flint flakes of various sizes, several of which are now
in my possession. Similar examples are of frequent occurrence, but one
other may be noted from the unusual amount of flint flakes found with
it. North of the Mull of Islay, Argyleshire, there is a road which
leads from Port Ellen, in a north-easterly direction, towards the
shooting lodge of Islay. At a point in this road, where it is cut into
the side of the hill, distant about four miles from Port Ellen, some
workmen engaged in widening the road exposed a cist in cutting into the
sloping ground, within which lay a skeleton with a large quantity of
flint flakes and chips beside it. A distinguished artist, who happened
fortunately to be in the neighbourhood at the time of this interesting
discovery, has furnished me with sketches of the locality. He describes
the flint flakes as so numerous, that they formed a heap of from
eighteen inches to two feet in height when removed from the cist.[151]

Other and scarcely less interesting evidences of ancient population
are still observable in remote nooks of the Western Highlands, where
the Dalriadic Scots first effected a settlement in the land which has
borne their name for so many centuries. The road from Port Ellen to the
site of the ancient cist, above described, passes for a considerable
way through a narrow winding valley, studded with huge boulders and
detached masses of rock, preserving evidences of remarkable geological
changes many ages anterior to the earliest occurrence within the
range of archæological science. Similar evidences are of frequent
occurrence along these western shores, where now the restless Atlantic
is slowly but unceasingly gnawing the rocky coast into wilder and more
picturesque forms, while it strews the stolen debris on its ocean bed,
to form new strata and continents for younger worlds than ours. With
these evidences of change we have not now to deal. But in various
districts of the same neighbourhood, and particularly amid the scenes
on which a new interest has been conferred as those in which the poet
Campbell passed some of his early years, the curious traveller may
descry, amid "the desolate heath" of the poet,[152] indications on the
hill-sides of a degree of cultivation having existed at some former
period far beyond what is exhibited in that locality at the present
day. The soil on the sloping sides of the hills appears to have been
retained by dwarf walls, and these singular terraces occur frequently
at such altitudes as must convey a remarkably vivid idea of the extent
and industry of an ancient population, where now the grazing of a
few black cattle alone tempts to the claim of property in the soil.
In other districts the half-obliterated furrows are still traceable
on heights which have been abandoned for ages to the wild fox or the
eagle. Such evidences of ancient population and industry are by no
means confined to the remote districts of ancient Dalriada. They occur
in many parts of Scotland, startling the believer in the unmitigated
barbarism of Scotland prior to the medieval era with evidence of a
state of prosperity and civilisation at some remote epoch, the date
of which has yet to be ascertained; though there are not wanting
periods within the era of authentic Scottish history to which some of
these may with considerable probability be assigned. The very simple
explanation of such ancient plough-marks which has satisfied the
popular mind is apparent in the appellation of _elf furrows_, by which
they are commonly known. The prevalence of these infallible tokens of
former industry was noted by the Rev. George Maxwell when drawing up
an account of the parish of Buittle, in Galloway, towards the close
of last century. The rustic tradition by which the reverend Statist
seeks to account for the greater agricultural skill of former ages,
though amusing enough, is not without its value to us from the proof it
affords of the extent to which such traces must have existed when they
made so great an impression on the popular mind:--

    "It is here to be observed," he remarks, "that there are few
    hills in this part of Galloway, where cultivation is at all
    practicable, that do not bear distinct marks of the plough. The
    depths of the furrows, too, plainly declare that this tillage
    has not been casual, or merely experimental, but frequent and
    successive. This should set both the ancient population and
    industry of this part of Scotland in a more favourable light
    than that in which they are usually held. It also affords
    probability to a tradition repeated by the country people
    to this day: that at a time when Scotland was under a Papal
    interdict, or sentence of cursing from the Pope, it was found
    that his Holiness had forgot to curse the hills, though he had
    commanded the land, usually arable, to yield no increase; and
    that while this sentence remained, the people were necessitated
    to seek tillage ground in places unusual and improbable!"[153]

Returning, however, from this digression, to the consideration of the
rude primitive implements of stone and flint, and the flint flakes
out of which the latter were formed,--the flint arrow and lance heads
constructed from these furnish evidence of much patient ingenuity,
and exhibit considerable variety of form. It is difficult, indeed, to
conceive of the process by which workmen, provided with such imperfect
tools as we must presume them to have possessed, were able to split
the flint into flakes, and reduce these to such regular forms. The
remoteness of the period when this primitive art was superseded by
the workers in metal, is proved by the incorporation of the ancient
flint implements into some of the most prevalent popular superstitions
of the north. The terms Elf-bolt, Elf-shot, or Elfin-arrow, are
invariably applied to the flint arrow-head throughout the Scottish
Lowlands. The Gaelic name, _Sciat-hee_, is completely synonymous;
while in Shetland and Orkney the idea of their supernatural origin is
more frequently conveyed by the term thunderbolt, invariably applied
to the stone celt. This variation in the popular mode of giving
expression to the idea of the supernatural origin of these primitive
weapons, among the inhabitants of the mainland and the northern isles
of Scotland, is worthy of passing note, from the evidence it affords
of one well-defined early date to which we may refer as a known
period when the stone weapons were fully as much relics of a remote
past, and objects of popular wonder, as now. The name still applied
to the Elf-bolt, by the Norwegian peasantry, is _Tordenkiler_, or
thunderstone,[154] so that we can feel little hesitation in assigning
to the old Norse colonists of Orkney, the difference still discernible
in these expressions of the same popular idea, and inferring from
thence, what all other evidence confirms, that the Scottish Stone
Period belongs to an era many centuries prior to the oldest date of her
written history. The Elf-bolt is associated with many rustic fancies
not yet altogether eradicated from the popular mind. It occupied
no unimportant part among the paraphernalia of Scottish witches of
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; and the occurrence of any
sudden disease amongst cattle was ascribed until a comparatively
recent period, to their having been shot by the fairies with Elfin
arrows. This ancient superstition is not peculiar to Scotland. In
Norway similar diseases, not only of cattle but of men, were called
by the same name of _Alfskot_, and in Denmark, of _Elveskud_, that
is, Elf-shot; though the flint arrow-head is not recognised as the
bolt which furnishes for such purposes the quivers of the malignant
elves. But other, and probably more ancient Scandinavian legends, prove
the existence of similar northern associations with the primitive
arrow-head of flint. In the "_Fornaldar Sögur Nordlanda_," or
Legends from the primitive period of the North, derived from ancient
manuscripts, Orvar Odd's Saga furnishes a curious evidence of this,--

    Orvar Odd, who is already furnished with three iron arrows,
    the gift of Guse, a Fin king possessed of magic power, in the
    course of his wanderings is hospitably entertained by an old
    man of singular appearance. On the side where the old man sat
    he laid three stone arrows on the table near the dish. They
    were so large and handsome that Orvar thought he had never seen
    anything like them. He took them up and looked at them, saying,
    "These arrows are well made." "If you really think them to be
    so," replied his host, "I shall make you a present of them."
    "I do not think," replied Orvar, smiling, "that I need cumber
    myself with stone arrows." The old man answered, "Be not sure
    that you will not some time stand in need of them. I know that
    you possess three arrows, called the Guse's gifts, but, though
    you deem it unlikely, it may happen that the Guse's weapons
    prove useless, then these stone arrows will avail you." Orvar
    Odd accordingly receives the gift, and chancing soon after
    to encounter a foe who by like magic was impenetrable to all
    ordinary weapons, he transfixes him with the stone arrows,
    which immediately vanish.[155]

From references to the geographical divisions of Russia, as well as
other internal evidence, this version of the legend is believed to
have been written not later than the twelfth century. The tradition,
however, is doubtless based on a much older belief, so that we cannot
err in assuming that at the earliest period of intercourse between
Scotland and Norway, sufficiently frequent to assimilate the popular
superstition of the two countries, the Stone Period was only known as a
state of society so essentially different from every historic tradition
with which the people were familiar, that they referred its weapons and
implements to the same invisible sprites by whose agency they were wont
to account for all incomprehensible or superhuman occurrences.

The Elf-arrow was almost universally esteemed throughout Scotland as
an amulet or charm, equally effectual against the malice of Elfin
sprites, and the spells of witchcraft. Dipt in the water which cattle
were to drink, it was supposed to be the most effectual cure for their
diseases, while sewed in the dress, it was no less available for the
protection of the human race; and it is still occasionally to be met
with perforated or set in gold or silver, for wearing as an amulet.
Like other weapons of Elfin artillery, it was supposed to retain its
influence at the will of the possessor, and thus became the most
effective talisman against elvish malice, witchcraft, or the evil-eye,
when in the hands of man. Such traditional myths of vulgar superstition
are not without their value, however humble their direct origin may be.
They are frequently only distorted images of important truths, and we
shall find more than one occasion to recur to them for aid in reuniting
the broken skein of primitive history. To follow out the simile, it
may sometimes be said of them with truth, that where all other lines
of connexion with the past are broken, these are only ravelled and

Arrow-heads of the Stone Period are found in Scotland in great numbers,
and of a considerable variety of forms. They are for the most part made
of silex, though also met with of agate, cornelian, and other native
pebbles, and are frequently finished with much neatness and care. The
woodcut exhibits a very fine one, the full size of the original, which
was found in the Isle of Skye, and is now in the collection of Mr.
John Bell of Dungannon. Pennant has engraved a large cinerary urn,
discovered along with three others, on opening a cairn on the hill
of Down, near Banff. They contained, in addition to the incinerated
remains, bone implements and flint arrow-heads, the largest of them
having in it thirteen of the latter, all of the shape to which the
term _barbed_ is most commonly applied. This, indeed, while it appears
to be one of the most artificial forms, involving the greatest amount
of labour and skill in fashioning the material, is also one of most
frequent occurrence in Scotland. Those already referred to as found,
along with an ancient wooden wheel, in the Blair-Drummond Moss, were
of the same shape. So also were some obtained on opening a tumulus in
the parish of Killearn, Stirlingshire, during the past year; and indeed
they have been met with in nearly every district of the mainland, and
of the northern and western isles. Lance- and spear-heads of silex are
also not uncommon, both in the tumuli and among the objects turned up
where the scenes of primitive population are subjected for the first
time to the plough. A very fine spear-head of silex, fifteen inches
long, and beautifully finished, was discovered a few years since on
the demolition of a cairn on the estate of Craigengelt, near Stirling.
Another of somewhat smaller dimensions, also found in a cairn, on the
estate of John Guthrie, Esq., Forfarshire, about 1796, is figured and
described in the Gentleman's Magazine of the following year.[156]


Flint knives, though apparently less abundant than in the different
Scandinavian countries, and especially in Denmark, are frequently
turned up in the course of agricultural operations. In no instance that
has come under my notice have implements been found in Scotland exactly
resembling the curious lunar flint knives and saws of such common
occurrence in Denmark and Sweden; yet examples of similar form are
familiar to American archæologists among the singular contents of the
great mounds explored of late years in the valley of the Mississippi,
and in other districts of the North American continent. These are
generally made of slate, and stone knives analogous to them appear also
to have been used in the Scottish primitive periods, to supply similar
necessities. In the Shetland and Orkney islands especially stone knives
are common, and in other districts knives of flint, though not of the
northern lunar shape, are often met with. It is perhaps of fully as
much importance, in the present stage of archæological inquiries, to
note the dissimilarity, as the correspondence of relics of the same
period in different countries. We have already observed a resemblance
so remarkable, in the implements of the Stone Period pertaining to
countries alike separated by time and space, as to preclude the
possibility of ascribing it to any mutual intercourse or common source
of knowledge, that nothing but a correspondence in many minute details
will justify the inference of international intercourse or similarity
of races. Dissimilarity, however, in these primitive implements, if
the means of comparison be sufficiently extensive, may suffice to
establish the opposite conclusion, that little or no intercourse had
existed between Scotland and those countries, such as Norway and
Sweden, at least during the earliest historic periods. Little proof,
indeed, is required to establish this--if we set aside the opinion,
assumed without any investigation of the evidence, that the natives of
ancient Caledonia lagged far behind the other races of Northern Europe
in the arts of civilisation--for their primitive arts precluded the
construction of fleets fitted for the navigation of the intermediate
seas, and shut them up to their own native ingenuity. Still it may be
that the discovery of a more complete correspondence with the stone
implements of other parts of Europe will yet add to our knowledge of
the first colonisation of the British Isles, and help us to follow back
the track of these nomadic tribes in their wanderings from the eastern
cradle land of the human race.

One of the most curious stone implements of frequent occurrence in
the northern islands is what the Shetlanders style a Pech's knife.
They have already been referred to as partially resembling the lunar
flint knives of Norway and Denmark. But in the Scottish examples the
semicircular edge is sharp, while the straight side is thickened like
the back of a common knife. Others are oval, or irregular in form, and
brought to an edge round the whole circumference. One of the latter, in
the Scottish Antiquarian Museum, formed of thin laminæ of madreporite,
was found at one of the burghs or round towers of Shetland. It measures
4½ by 4 inches, and does not exceed, in greatest thickness, the
tenth of an inch. Similar implements, in the collection of the London
Antiquaries at Somerset House, are mentioned by Mr. Albert Way,[157] as
probably the ancient stone instruments transmitted to Sir Joseph Banks
by Mr. Scott of Lerwick, in Shetland, and communicated to the Society,
March 9, 1820. Sixteen were found by a man digging peats in the parish
of Walls, Shetland, placed regularly on an horizontal line, and
overlapping each other like slates upon the roof of a house, each stone
standing at an angle of 45°. They lay at a depth of about six feet in
the peat moss, and the line of stones ran east and west, with the upper
edge towards the east. A considerable number of implements, mostly of
the same class, were found on the clay under the ancient mosses of
Blair-Drummond and Meiklewood. Some of them are composed of slate, and
others of a compact green stone. They are from four to six inches long,
flat, and well polished. There were also along with them a number of
stone celts and axe heads, mostly made of the same hard green stone.
In the Scottish collection is a knife of an entirely different form,
made of light grey flint, which was found, along with a stone celt of
unusual shape, within the area of a "Druidical circle," in Strachur
parish, Argyleshire. Two others, recently discovered in ploughing a
field in the neighbourhood of Largo, Fifeshire, totally differ from any
of the numerous examples found in Denmark or Sweden. They are bent back
at the point, finished with great care, have a fine edge, and appear to
have been attached to bone or wooden handles. Another example, somewhat
resembling these, was found in cutting a drain on the Pentland Hills,
near Edinburgh, and though simpler, is also peculiar, and apparently
unique in form. On showing it recently to an East-Lothian farmer, he
remarked that he had frequently seen such things turned up by the
plough, but had never thought them worth the trouble of lifting.

Celts[158] and hatchets, or wedges, are among the most abundant of
all the relics of the Stone Period. They have been discovered in
considerable quantities in almost every part of Scotland, from the
remote Orkney and Shetland Isles,[159] to the shores of the Solway and
the banks of the Tweed. They are frequently found rudely executed,
with little appearance of labour except at the edge; while other
examples are characterized by the highest finish and the utmost degree
of polish that the modern lapidary could confer on them. The manner
of attaching the stone celt to a handle has been made the subject of
some discussion, though sufficiently illustrated by the practice of
the modern Polynesians and other savage tribes still using weapons of
stone. M. Boucher de Perthes has succeeded in throwing some new light
on the subject by researches in the neighbourhood of Abbeville, which
point to the conclusion that the French celt has been inserted into the
hollow portion of a stag's horn having a perforation in it to receive
the handle.[160] Various other methods, however, have been shewn by
which this primitive weapon could be hafted, so as to become available
for the war axe of the northern warrior. The example found in the
earliest ancient canoe of the Clyde, leaves no room to doubt that it
was bound to the handle by thongs or portions of the haft passing round
the middle. Both ends are highly polished, while the middle remains
rough, having evidently been designed to be covered and concealed.[161]
One stone celt has been found in Ireland, near Cookstone, in the
county of Tyrone, still attached to its wooden handle, the artless
rudeness of which could hardly be surpassed.[162] Much more efficient
means, however, are frequently seen employed in corresponding weapons
brought from the South Sea Islands than any of the ancient examples
display; and these may suffice to illustrate the improved methods which
experience would suggest to the rude Caledonian aborigines.

[Illustration: Hatchets.]

The stone celt must unquestionably be regarded as a weapon of war.
With its thick round edge, when wielded at the end of a long handle,
similar to those to which we see the stone axes of the Polynesian
savages attached, it would prove an effective lethal weapon, but very
few examples of it could be applied to any useful purpose as tools.
The flint or stone hatchet was more probably the implement which, with
the ever-ready aid of fire, sufficed to hew down the oak, to split
and reduce it into requisite forms for domestic uses, or to shape
and hollow it out into such rude canoes as have been described in a
former chapter. Still it is difficult to draw any very definite line
of distinction between the artificer's and the warrior's axe, the same
implement having doubtless been often employed in waging war on the
leafy giants of the old Caledonian forests, and on rival tribes who
found a home within their fastnesses. The most perfect, indeed, of the
stone hatchets seem ill adapted for the laborious task of felling the
knotty oak, and hollowing it for the primitive canoe. But in all such
considerations of savage arts it must be borne in remembrance that
time, which forms so important an element in modern estimate, hardly
comes into account with the savage. Armed with no better tools, the Red
Indian, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, is known to cut an incision
in the bark round the root of the tree destined for his canoe; into
this he places glowing embers until it is charred to a considerable
depth, and by the alternate use of the hatchet and the fire the largest
tree is brought to the ground, and by the same ingenious process
adapted to bear its owner on the open seas.


A very interesting discovery of an example of the use of the stone
battle-axe, or celt, is thus described in a letter from Captain
Denniston to Mr. Train. About the year 1809, Mr. M'Lean of Mark found
it necessary, in the course of some improvements on his farm, to remove
a large cairn on the Moor of Glenquicken, Kirkcudbrightshire, which
popular tradition assigned as the tomb of some unknown Galwegian king,
styled Aldus M'Galdus:--"When the cairn had been removed, the workmen
came to a stone coffin of very rude workmanship, and on removing the
lid, they found the skeleton of a man of uncommon size. The bones were
in such a state of decomposition, that the ribs and vertebræ crumbled
into dust on attempting to lift them. The remaining bones being more
compact, were taken out, when it was discovered that one of the arms
had been almost separated from the shoulder by the stroke of a stone
axe, and that a fragment of the axe still remained in the bone. The axe
had been of green stone, a species of stone never found in this part
of Scotland. There were also found with this skeleton a ball of flint,
about three inches in diameter, which was perfectly round and highly
polished, and the head of an arrow, also of flint, but not a particle
of any metallic substance."[163] Many of the most highly-finished
celts and hatchets found in Scotland are made of the same green stone,
which is susceptible of a beautiful polish. Other implements of this
period are chisels of flint, nearly resembling those of Norway and
Denmark. Several examples are in the Scottish Museum; and a curious
instance of a perforated chisel, similar to those frequently found in
Denmark, was turned up in 1841, in trenching a piece of ground near
the Church of Lismore, Argyleshire. It is of the usual square form,
measuring four inches long, and is described in the New Statistical
Account as a stone needle.[164] Another and larger class of Scottish
implements are cylindrical or oval perforated stones, of which no
examples, I believe, have yet been found in Denmark or Sweden. The
woodcut represents one of these implements, measuring 8¼ inches in
length, found in a cist near North Berwick Abbey, East-Lothian, where
many primitive remains have been discovered. It is flattened at the
end where it is perforated, and is made of a very hard polished stone.
Another was found in 1832, in the parish of Lumphanan, Aberdeenshire;
and similar implements are occasionally mentioned among the contents
of Scottish tumuli. In a cist, discovered under a barrow, in Kirkurd
parish, Peeblesshire, there were various weapons of flint and stone,
including one described as resembling the head of a halbert, another
of a circular form, and the third of a cylindrical shape; in all
probability a celt, a spherical flint or stone, and one of the
implements now referred to, which may be conveniently designated
as _flail-stones_.[165] On levelling a large tumulus a few years
since, at Dalpatrick, Lanarkshire, a cist was discovered inclosing
an urn. Two other specimens of fictile ware, one of them supposed to
be a lamp, were found imbedded in the surrounding earth, and also a
flail-stone made of trap rock. It is described as "a curious whinstone,
of a roundish form, about four inches in diameter, perforated with
a circular hole, through which the radicle of an oak growing near
the spot had found its way."[166] Similar stone implements have been
frequently met with in Scotland, and were perhaps designed for use as
offensive weapons, attached to a leather thong or secured by such means
to the end of a shaft, like a modern flail. The Shoshonee Indians, and
other North American tribes, used such a weapon under the name of a
_Pogamoggon_; the stone not being perforated, but inclosed in leather,
by which it was fastened to the handle. Other tribes of the Mississippi
valley had a simpler form of the same weapon, possibly corresponding to
the spherical relics of flint or stone occasionally found with these,
consisting of a grooved ball attached to a long leather thong, which
they wielded, like a slung-shot, with deadly effect.[167] A medieval
offensive weapon, constructed on the same principle, bore the quaint
name of "The Morning Star," an epithet no doubt suggested by its form;
as it consisted of a ball of iron armed with radiating spikes, attached
by a chain to its handle. Like the ruder flail-stone, the morning star,
when efficiently wielded, must have proved a deadly weapon in the
desultory warfare of undisciplined assailants; but whenever the value
of combined operations was discovered and acted upon it would have to
be thrown aside, as probably more fatal to friends than to enemies.
In the Scottish flail-stones the perforation is bevelled off so as to
admit of their free use without cutting or fraying the thong by which
they were held. We shall not probably greatly err in assuming these to
be the first "_morning stars_" of that old twilight, in the uncertain
light of which we are groping for some stray truths of the infancy of

A stone implement in my own possession, somewhat similar in general
form to these flail-stones, was found beside a group of cists near
North Berwick, East-Lothian, but its original destination is obvious.
It is made of hard sandstone, of a flattened oval form in section,
and is worn on the two alternate sides where it has been used as a
whetstone--a use for which the hardness and high polish of the others
render them totally unfit.

Not the least curious among the primitive relics in the celebrated
museum of northern antiquities at Copenhagen, are the various
whetstones, some of which have been found in barrows and elsewhere
under ground, with half-finished stone-wedges lying upon them, as if
the workman had been suddenly interrupted by death in the midst of
his laborious industry, and his unaccomplished task had been deemed
the fittest memorial to lay beside him. It formed no part of the old
Pagan creed that "there is no work nor device in the grave." Possibly
enough the buried celt-maker was expected to resume his occupation and
finish his axe-grinding in the spirits' land. No similar example has
yet been noted in Scotland, though smaller hand whetstones, like the
one found at North Berwick, are not uncommon. One which is described
as very smooth and neat, was obtained among the contents discovered on
excavating within the area of the vitrified fort of Craig Phaidrick,
near Inverness;[168] several such were found in cists at Cockenzie,
East-Lothian; and Barry mentions among the miscellaneous contents of
the tumuli or cists in the island of Westray, "a flat piece of marble,
of a circular form, about two inches and a-half in diameter, and
several stones, in shape and appearance like whetstones that had never
been used."[169]

Great as are the numbers and varieties of the stone weapons and
implements of Denmark, compared with those found in Britain, they
appear to be surpassed in both respects by the corresponding relics
of the Mexican Stone Period. Such facts suggest the inference, which
history in some degree confirms, that the metallurgic arts were earlier
known in Britain than in Denmark, thereby superseding the arts of the
stone-workers before they had been elaborated as elsewhere; while in
Mexico, Yucatan, and throughout the districts of the North American
continent, where a native civilisation is known to have prevailed, iron
was totally unknown, and copper had not completely superseded the stone
hatchet and arrow-point when Columbus opened a way to that new world.
But who shall say how many more curious and noteworthy reminiscences
of the past may have been ignorantly destroyed in Scotland, among the
thousands of burial-mounds annually invaded by the unlettered peasant
in his agricultural labours.

Among the larger implements of this period the most remarkable and
varied are the Stone Hammers and Axes. They are of common occurrence,
and present a variety of forms, evidently designed to adapt them to a
considerable diversity of purposes. They are therefore available as
evidence in estimating the degree of inventive talent manifested in
the primitive state of society in which they were produced, showing as
they do the intelligent savage coping with the untractable materials
with which he had to deal, and supplying many deficiencies by his
own ingenuity and skill. With these, as with the elf-bolts of the
same period, we find in the reminiscences of early superstition the
evidence of their frequent occurrence long after all traces of their
origin and uses had been obliterated by the universal substitution of
metallic implements. As we find the little flint arrow-head associated
with Scottish _folk-lore_ as the Elfin's bolt, so the stone hammer of
the same period was adapted to the creed of the middle ages. The name
by which it was popularly known in Scotland almost till the close of
last century was that of the Purgatory Hammer. Found as it frequently
was within the cist and beside the mouldering bones of its old Pagan
possessor, the simple discoverer could devise no likelier use for it
than that it was laid there for its owner to bear with him "up the
trinal steps," and with it thunder at the gates of purgatory till the
heavenly janitor appeared, that he might

    With humble heart, that he unbar the bolt."[170]

The stone hammer is frequently found in the older cists. In 1832 a
farm-servant while ploughing a field on the farm of Downby, in Orkney,
struck his ploughshare on a stone which proved to be the cover of a
cist of the usual contracted dimensions, in which lay a skeleton that
seemed to have been interred in a sitting posture. At the right hand
lay a highly polished mallet-head of gneiss, beautifully marked with
dark and light streaks.[171]

[Illustration: Stone Hammers and Axes.]

The examples figured here furnish a few of the most characteristic
varieties of Scottish hammers that have been preserved. They by no
means equal in number those found in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. But
only a very partial and extremely superficial investigation of such
relics has yet been made, and we possess no national collection in
Scotland, similar to that of the Christiansborg Palace of Copenhagen,
to which the whole available financial and legal machinery of the
kingdom is employed in gathering the primitive national antiquities
so soon as they are discovered. The Old and New Statistical Accounts
abound with notices of opened tumuli and cairns, and of their valuable
archæological contents; but unfortunately in nearly every case these
are either conveniently ascribed to Romans and Danes, or mentioned so
vaguely that no use can be made of them as illustrations of the period
to which they belong.


The name of Axe is, with sufficient appropriateness, applied to the
double-edged stone implements, and to those of a wedge-shape which
have the aperture for inserting the handle near the broad end, whereas
other examples perforated sufficiently near the centre to admit of the
free use of both ends are with equal propriety styled hammers. They
are frequently finished with great neatness and art; not made, like
the hatchet, of flint, but of a variety of kinds of stone, from the
gray granite, of which the largest are generally made, to trap and
even sandstone. Several examples have been discovered in an unfinished
state, furnishing curious illustration of the laborious process of
manufacture. One large one in particular in the Scottish Museum was
found in digging the Caledonian Canal. It is made of gray granite, very
symmetrically and beautifully formed, and with the hole partially bored
on both sides. This was probably effected with water and sand by the
tedious process of turning round a smaller stone until the perforation
was at length completed. Tried therefore by the standard of value of
the Stone Period, the hammer was perhaps a more costly deposit in the
tomb of some favourite chief than the golden armillæ of later times.
The Danish antiquaries are familiar with examples of unfinished stone
implements, and also with a still more curious class, consisting
of broken hammers and otherwise mutilated instruments, which have
been perforated with another hole or ground to a new edge, affording
striking evidence of the value of such implements to their primitive
owners. The example figured here, partaking of the characteristics both
of the hammer and axe, was dug up on the farm of Dell, in the parish of
Abernethy, and is engraved from a sketch by the late Sir Thomas Dick
Lauder, Bart. It measures eight inches in length, and was found at a
depth of about five feet from the surface, in a soil consisting of two
feet of mould lying above peat moss.


The following class of objects includes a variety of stone implements
the uses of which are extremely doubtful or altogether unknown, though
they are often found along with other relics of the Stone Period. The
woodcut represents various examples of perforated stone balls, such as
are frequently met with, and to which it may be convenient to apply
the name of _Bead-stones_. Some of them are decorated with a variety
of incised lines, and may have been worn as marks of distinction or
as personal ornaments held in great esteem, as they are not uncommon
among the relics deposited in the cist or cinerary urn. One plausible
theory of their use which has been suggested is that they are the
stone weights used with the distaff, and they have accordingly
received in Germany the name of _Spindelstein_. The Scottish _whorle_,
or fly of the spinning-rock, however, is still familiar to us, and
bears only a very partial resemblance to these perforated balls;
consisting generally of a flattened disc, much better adapted for
the motion required in the distaff. But independently of this, these
rude ornaments have been found alongside of male skeletons, and in
such numbers as might rather induce the belief that they had formed
the collar of honour of some old barbarian chief, esteemed as no less
honourable than the golden links of rue and thistle worn by the knights
of St. Andrew at the court of the Scottish Jameses. As such, therefore,
they should be classed with the personal ornaments of the same period,
but their use is still open to question, and they may therefore
meanwhile not unfitly rank with the other objects treated of in this


On demolishing a cairn at Dalpatrick, in Lanarkshire, a few years ago,
it was found to cover a cist inclosing an urn, and in the surrounding
heap were discovered another urn about six inches high, a smaller
vessel of baked clay, and a curious whinstone of roundish form, about
four inches in diameter, and perforated with a circular hole.[172] "In
one of the Orkney graves," says Barry, "was found a metal spoon, and
a glass cup that contained two gills Scotch measure; and in another a
number of stones formed into the shape and size of whorles, like those
that were formerly used for spinning in Scotland."[173] Two of these
bead-stones in the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries were discovered
in Dumbartonshire, along with various smaller ones, some of them of
glass and undoubtedly designed as ornaments. Other examples are more in
the form of a truncated cone, and are referred to in a later chapter as
perhaps the tablemen for a game somewhat similar to that of draughts,
and still called by the Germans _Brettsteine_. Larger perforated stones
have also been found. Mr. Joseph Train describes several obtained in
Galloway, five or six inches in diameter, one of which, in his own
possession, as black and glossy as polished ebony, had been picked
up in the ruins of an old byre, where it had doubtless been used,
according to the ideas of that country-side, to counteract the spells
of witchcraft.[174] Others formed of slate are of frequent occurrence
in the Portpatrick parish, Wigtonshire, and are not unknown in other

Unperforated spherical stones, generally about the size of an orange,
have been referred to along with other contents of the Scottish
tumulus. It is not always possible to distinguish these from the
stone cannon ball which continued in use even in James VI.'s reign.
The circumstances under which they occur, however, leave no room
to doubt that they ranked among the articles held in esteem by the
primitive races of Britain, ages before the chemical properties of
nitre, sulphur, and charcoal had been employed to supersede older
projectile forces. The distinction is further confirmed by their being
occasionally decorated with incised circles and other ornaments, as
in the example shewn here, found near the line of the old Roman way
which runs through Dumfriesshire on its northern course from Carlisle.
Another of highly polished flint has already been described among the
remarkable disclosures of a large cairn on the Moor of Glenquicken,
Kirkcudbrightshire, and two of similar form were shewn me recently
as a part of the contents of a cist opened in the course of farming
operations on the estate of Cochno, Dumbartonshire, one of which
was made of highly-polished red granite, a species of rock unknown
in that district. Similar balls occur among the relics found in the
barrows of Denmark. In the "Report addressed by the Royal Society of
Northern Antiquaries to its British and American Members," printed at
Copenhagen in 1836, a class of primitive objects are described under
the name of Corn Crushers. The engraving of one of these represents
a rude block of stone flattened on the upper side. In the centre of
this is a circular cavity, into which a smooth ball of stone has been
made to fit, thereby supplying by a less efficient means the same
purpose aimed at in the querne, discovered so frequently under a
variety of shapes among the relics of various periods of early Scottish
history. The shallow circular stone troughs or mortars so often found
in Scottish burghs and weems belong to the same class. A still ruder
device consists of a pair of stones which have evidently been employed
in rubbing against each other, and it may be presumed with the same
object in view, that of bruising the grain for domestic use. They have
been occasionally noticed among the chance disclosures of the spade or
plough in Scotland, and are of common occurrence in the Irish bogs. The
author of the Account of Halkirk Parish, Caithness, thus describes the
mortars above referred to, and also the pestles or crushers--manifestly
a similar device to the Danish corn crushers--which are found together
in the burghs:--"I have seen in them numbers of small round hard
stones, in the form of a very flat or oblate sphere, of 2½ inches
thick in the centre, and about four inches in diameter; also other
round stones, perfectly circular, very plain and level on one side,
with a small rise at the circumference, and about a foot in diameter.
The intention of both these kinds of stones manifestly was to break and
grind their grain."[176] It may reasonably be assumed, however, that
neither the old British nor Scandinavian warrior deposited under the
barrow of his chief, and alongside of his well-proved celt and spear,
the homely corn crusher with which his wives or his slaves were wont to
prepare the grain for domestic use. The decoration traceable on some of
the stone balls confirms this idea; and it is more probable they were
employed as weapons of war, like the _pogamoggon_ of the Chippeway and
Shoshonee Indians of America, some of which consisted of a spherical
stone, weighing from half a pound to two pounds. This they inclosed in
leather, and attached to a thong a yard and a half in length, which was
wound round the wrist, the more effectually to secure its hold. Along
with these objects may also be noted the roughly-shaped spherical discs
of flint occasionally found with other stone relics in Scotland, and
much more common in Ireland, where they bear the name of "Sling Stones."


Like other of the more remarkable primitive relics, the spherical
stones have been associated with popular superstitions of a later
period, and have been esteemed, along with crystal-beads, adder-stones,
or waterworn perforated pebbles, and the like efficient armory of
vulgar credulity, as invaluable amulets or charms.

    "The stone arrow-heads," says Pennant, "of the old inhabitants
    of this island, are supposed to be weapons shot by fairies
    at cattle, to which are attributed any disorders they have.
    In order to effect a cure, the cow is to be touched by an
    elf-shot, or made to drink the water in which one has been
    dipped. The same virtue is said to be found in the crystal
    gems and in the adder-stone; and it is also believed that
    good fortune must attend the owner; so, for that reason, the
    first is called _Clach Bhuai_, or the powerful stone. Captain
    Archibald Campbell showed me one, a spheroid set in silver, for
    the use of which people came above a hundred miles, and brought
    the water it was to be dipt in with them; for without that in
    human cases it was believed to have no effect."[177] That such
    was no modern superstition he conceives is proved by a variety
    of evidence, as where Montfaucon remarks that it was customary
    in early times to deposit crystal balls in urns or sepulchres:
    thus twenty were found at Rome in an alabastrine urn, and one
    was discovered in 1653 at Tournai, in the tomb of Childeric,
    King of France, who died A.D. 480.

It appears to be only natural to the uninstructed mind to associate
objects which it cannot explain with some mysterious and superhuman
end; and hence the superseded implements of a long extinct race become
the charms and talismans of their superstitious successors.

One other class of primitive relics remains to be noted, belonging to
the same early period. These are the ornaments, weapons, and tools
of horn or bone; such as the lances or harpoons already described
as found alongside of the stranded whales in the alluvial valley of
the Forth. Such relics are by no means rare, notwithstanding the
perishable nature of the material of which they are constructed. Barry
describes among the contents of the Orkney tumuli, "swords made of the
bone of a large fish, and also daggers."[178] The woodcut represents
what should perhaps be regarded as a bone dagger. It was found in a
stone cist near Kirkwall, lying beside a rude urn, and is now in the
possession of Dr. Traill. It measures 7½ inches long, and appears to
be made of the outer half of the lower portion of the right metatarsal
bone of an ox. The notches cut on it are perhaps designed to give a
firmer hold, while they also serve the purpose of rude attempts at
ornament. Their effect, however, is greatly to weaken the weapon and
render it liable to break. The cross may perhaps suggest to some the
associations of a later period, but little importance can be attached
to so simple and obvious a means of decoration. Possibly indeed so far
from its affording any indication of the influence of "the faith of
the cross," it should be regarded like the incised patterns hereafter
alluded to, wrought on later bronze implements, as suggestive of the
use of the poisoned blade by the rude aborigines of the Stone Period.
Pennant has engraved an implement of horn, carved and perforated at
the thick end, found in a large urn under a cairn in Banffshire, and
another, closely corresponding to it, was discovered in 1829, in a
large urn dug up in the progress of the works requisite for erecting
the Dean Bridge at Edinburgh.[179] A curious relic of the same class
was brought to light on removing part of a remarkable cairn which still
stands, though in ruins, on the summit of one of the Ochil Hills, on
the northern boundary of Orwell parish, Kinross-shire. It bears the
name of Cairn-a-vain, and an ancient traditional rhyme thus refers to a
treasure believed to be contained in it:--

    In the Dryburn well, beneath a stane,
    You'll find the key o' Cairn-a-vain,
    That will mak' a' Scotland rich ane by ane.


Many hundreds of cart-loads of stones have been carried off by the
proprietor from this gigantic pile, for the purpose of building fences,
but no treasure has yet been found, though eagerly expected by the
workmen. A rude stone cist occupied the centre of the pile, within
which lay an urn full of bones and charcoal, and amongst these a small
implement of bone, about four inches long, very much resembling in
figure a cricket-bat notched on the edges.[180]

Various weapons of horn and bone are preserved in the Scottish
collection, some of them so slender as to be rather pins or bodkins
than lances. One of the latter, measuring four inches in length,
and perforated at the broad end, was found in the year 1786, in the
ruins of one of those ancient buildings in Caithness, popularly but
perhaps not erroneously styled "Picts' houses." Alongside of it lay
one of the rings of jet or shale, which are also among the more common
relics found in Scottish barrows. To these instances may be added the
frequent occurrence of deer's horns among the contents of tumuli, not
seldom bearing similar marks of artificial cutting. Some years since a
quantity of deer's horns which had been sawn asunder were discovered in
a bed of charcoal, a few feet below the surface, outside the "Seamhill
moat," in the parish of West Kilbride, Ayrshire.[181] A deer's horn of
unusually large size, and from which the brow-antler has been cut off,
is now in the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries. It was obtained with
others, on levelling a large sepulchral barrow in the neighbourhood of
Elphinstone Tower, East-Lothian. Another of smaller dimensions, in the
same collection, was discovered in a cist at Cockenzie, in the same
county. Pennant mentions the similar discovery of a deer's horn, "the
symbol of the favourite amusement of the deceased," lying beside the
skeleton, in a stone cist, on the demolition of a cairn at Craigmills,
Banffshire; and on opening the most conspicuous of a group of tumuli,
in the parish of Alvie, Inverness-shire, a human skeleton was observed
entire, with a pair of large hart's horns laid across it.[182] To these
instances may be added the recent discovery of ancient oaken coffins on
the Castlehill of Edinburgh, at a depth of twenty-five feet from the
surface,--more particularly described in a later chapter,--alongside
which lay a deer's skull and horns of unusually large proportions.

Examples of this use of the antlers of the deer are by no means rare.
It appears to offer some additional corroboration of the date assigned
to those simpler rites of sepulture, which it has been suggested may
probably indicate an era prior to the introduction of the small stone
cist and the practice of interment in a sitting or folded posture;
that in several examples which have been carefully noted, the body has
been found laid at full length, and in one or two instances with the
spreading antlers at the feet, like the sculptured lion or stag which
reposes on the altar-tomb of our medieval chantries at the feet of the
recumbent Christian knight.

It cannot admit of doubt that bone and horn continued to supply the
absence of metallic weapons to the very close of the Stone Period.
Nevertheless it suggests the probable antiquity of the examples
referred to, that notwithstanding the great susceptibility of the
material for receiving ornament, they present so few of those incised
decorations common not only on the sepulchral pottery, but on the
pateræ, bead-stones, and other relics formed of the hardest materials.


One of the most interesting recent discoveries of this primitive class
of implements was made by Mr. G. Petrie, during his exploration of a
subterranean dwelling or weem at Skara, in the Bay of Scales, Sandwich.
A large accumulation of ashes, bones of domestic animals, the tusks
of a very large wild boar, scales of fish, &c., indicated the refuse
of many repasts of its aboriginal occupants; and alongside of it,
apparently in coeval rubbish, was found a stone cist, containing, among
other remains, about two dozen oyster shells, each perforated with a
hole large enough to admit the finger. Perchance they supplied to their
simple owner a collar not less esteemed than the most coveted orders
of a modern peer. A curious variety of bone implements were discovered
at the same time. The larger of the two objects in the annexed woodcut
represents a pin or bodkin, formed from the left metatarsal bone of
an ox of small size, in which the natural form of the joint has been
turned to account for forming its head. It measures 5-3/10 inches long.
The smaller object is also of bone. One side of the head is broken
away, but the perforation has not been in the centre; it measures 3½
inches in length. Others of the tools are still more simple--mere flat
pieces of bone, roughly rubbed to an edge, and indicating the merest
rudiments of art and contrivance. Two other examples from the same
hoard are represented here, the smallest another pin, 2⅘ inches
long, formed from the lower end of the metatarsal bone of a sheep,
and the larger, perhaps intended as the handle of some implement of
delicate structure. It appears to be fashioned from the metatarsal
or metacarpal bone of a lamb, and is notched with a rude attempt at
ornament, which, however, as in the dagger formerly described, must
have greatly impaired its strength.[183] Along with these were also
found a number of circular discs of slate, about half an inch thick,
roughly chipped into shape, and about the size of a common dessert
plate. The most ready idea that can be formed of them is, that they
were actually designed for a similar purpose.


These simple relics of the primitive period may not inaptly recall to
us the evidences of another class of occupants of the old Caledonian
forests. At the very era when the Briton had to arm himself with such
imperfect weapons, the wolf was one of his most common foes. Long after
the era of the Roman invasion the wild boar was a favourite object of
the chase, though the huge Bos Primigenius, whose fossil remains are
so frequently found in our mosses and marl pits, had then made way
for the Bos Longifrons, (rarely accompanying relics of a later era
than the Anglo-Roman period,) and the Urus Scoticus, or Caledonian
bull, which still forms so singularly interesting an occupant of the
ancient forest of Cadzow, Lanarkshire. The large tusks frequently
found among later alluvial deposits attest the enormous size attained
by the Caledonian boar; and its repeated occurrence on the sculptured
legionary tablets of Antoninus' wall may show that it was pre-eminent
among the wild occupants of the forests which then skirted the Roman
vallum in the carse of Falkirk, and along the slopes of the Campsie
hills; if, indeed, this was not the reason of its adoption as the
symbol of the Twentieth Legion. On constructing a new road a few years
since, along the southern side of the rock on which Edinburgh Castle
stands, deer's horns and boars' tusks of the largest dimensions were
found; and in an ancient service-book of the monastery of Holyrood,
the ground which some of the oldest buildings of the Scottish capital
have occupied for many centuries, is described as "ane gret forest,
full of hartis, hyndis, toddis, and sic like manner of beistis." Thus
is it with all that is venerable--an older still precedes it; and the
docile student, when, by searching, he has found out all attainable
knowledge, still sees behind him as before him an unknown, undiminished
by all he has recovered. Meanwhile, it seems to become manifest, that
the more minutely we investigate the primitive Scottish era, the
further it recedes into the past, and approaches to the period of the
first dispersion of the human family amid the strange confusion of
tongues; if not indeed to that still earlier time when the sons of
Javan were born after the flood, and by these were the isles of the
Gentiles divided in their lands--thus leading our thoughts, as Sir
Thomas Browne quaintly, but devoutly expresses it, "unto old things
and considerations of times before us, when even living men were
antiquities, when the living might exceed the dead, and to depart
this world could not be properly said, _abiit ad plures_, to go unto
the greater number; and to run up our thoughts upon the _Ancient of
Days_, the antiquary's truest object, unto whom the eldest parcels are
young, and earth itself an infant."


[149] Archæol. Scot. vol. iii. p. 46.

[150] Scots Mag., Feb. 7, 1790.

[151] MS. letters, Mr. J. C. Brown, A.R.S.A. An interesting account
of the discovery of numerous flint flakes, and weapons in all stages
of progress, in the celebrated ossiferous cave of Kent's Hole, near
Torquay, is introduced in a subsequent chapter.

[152] Lines written on visiting a scene in Argyleshire.

[153] Sinclair's Stat. Acc. vol. xvii. p. 115.

[154] They are described by this name of _thunderstones_ in Sir Robert
Sibbald's Portes Coloniæ et Castellæ, Plate II. Nos. 1-6.

[155] Fornaldar Sögur Nordlanda. Copenhagen, 1829.

[156] Gentleman's Mag. 1797, Part II. p. 200.

[157] Catalogue of Antiquities, Soc. Antiq. Lond. p. 14.

[158] I have retained the name of stone celt, notwithstanding its
rejection by Mr. Worsaae and his intelligent English editor, in the
"Primeval Antiquities of Denmark applied to the illustration of similar
remains in England." The advantage of a fixed terminology cannot be
overestimated; but in this case the term is of great value in order to
distinguish a peculiar class of stone implements more frequently found
in Scotland and Ireland than the stone or flint hatchet, and to which
the British antiquary has special grounds for applying it. Both Owen
and Spurrel give, as the meaning of the ancient Cambro-British _celt_,
a flint stone. I propose, therefore, to retain it in what is obviously
its primary acceptation, applying the name of bronze celt to the metal
weapon afterwards substituted for it.

[159] _Vide_ Hibbert's Shetland, pp. 247-250.

[160] Antiquités Celtiques et Antidiluviennes.

[161] _Vide ante_, p. 35.

[162] Archæological Journal, vol. iv. p. 3.

[163] New Statist. Acc., Kirkcudbrightshire, vol. iv. p. 332.

[164] New Statist. Acc, Argyleshire, vol. vii. p. 243.

[165] Sinclair's Statistical Account, vol. x. p. 186.

[166] New Statist. Acc. vol. vi. p. 734.

[167] Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi, p. 219.

[168] Archæol. Scotica, vol. iv. p. 188.

[169] Barry's Hist. Orkney Islands, p. 206.

[170] Carey's Dante, Canto ix. l. 97.

[171] MS. Soc. Ant. Scot. Rev. Charles Clouston.

[172] New Stat. Acc., Lanarkshire, vol. vi. p 734.

[173] Barry's Orkney, p. 206.

[174] New Stat. Acc., Kirkcudbrightshire, vol. iv. p. 196.

[175] New Stat. Acc., Wigtonshire, p. 143.

[176] Sinclair's Stat. Acc. vol. xix. p. 59.

[177] Pennant's Tour, vol i. p. 116.

[178] Barry's History of the Orkney Islands, p. 206.

[179] Minutes of Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 27th April 1829.

[180] New Statist. Acc. vol. ix. p. 60.

[181] New Statist. Acc. vol. v. p. 256.

[182] Sinclair's Statist. Acc. vol. xiii. p. 383. _Vide_ also vol iii.
p. 57. Archæological Journal, vol. ii. p. 80.

[183] The inferior articular surface of the bone has separated, which
supplies evidence of its having been a lamb, union not having taken
place owing to the youth of the animal.



[Illustration: Uyea Stone Urns.]


A great variety of stone vessels, of different forms and sizes, have
been found in Scotland under different circumstances, but in nearly
all of them the rudeness of the attempts at ornament, and the whole
form and character, suggest the probability of their belonging to the
earliest period, coeval with the stone celt and hammer, and the bone
and flint spears of the Scottish aborigines. Even sepulchral urns of
this durable material are not uncommon, especially in the northern
and western isles. Wallace thus describes one found in the island of
Stronsa:--"It was a whole round stone like a barrel, hollow within,
sharp edged at the top, having the bottom joined like the bottom of
a barrel. On the mouth was a round stone."[184] From the engraving
which accompanies this description it may be more correctly compared
in form to a common flower-pot, decorated with a series of parallel
lines running at intervals round it. In the Museum of the Society of
Antiquaries of London there are two rude stone urns, believed to be
the same exhibited to the Society by Captain James Veitch in 1822,
which were discovered on the demolition of a cairn in the island of
Uyea, Shetland, along with many similar urns, mostly broken, and all
containing bones and ashes. They are formed of _Lapis ollaris_, and are
described by Mr. Albert Way, in his valuable Catalogue of the Society's
Collection, as two rudely-fashioned vessels of stone, or small cists,
of irregular quadrangular form, one of them having a large aperture
at the bottom, closed by a piece of stone, fitted in with a groove,
but easily displaced. The other has a triangular aperture on one side,
and is perforated with several smaller holes regularly arranged. The
dimensions of the larger are about 9½ inches by 4, and the other
7 inches by 3½. Dr. Hibbert refers to another of the same class,
but probably of superior workmanship, which he saw on his visit to
the Island of Uyea. It was found along with various other urns, which
he simply mentions as of an interesting description, and is noted as
"a well-shaped vessel, that had been apparently constructed of a soft
magnesian stone of the nature of the _Lapis ollaris_. The bottom of
the urn had been wrought in a separate piece, and was fitted to it by
means of a circular groove. When found it was filled with bones partly
consumed by fire."[185] A fragment of another such urn in the Scottish
Museum is described by the donor as part of a vase of a steatitic
kind of rock, found in 1829 within a kistvaen on the island of Uyea,
one of the most northern of the Zetland group. At an earlier period
the opening of a barrow in the island of Eigg exposed to view a large
sepulchral urn containing human bones. It is described as consisting
of a large round stone, which had been hollowed, with the top covered
with a thin flag-stone, and was found in a tumulus which tradition
assigned as the burial-place of St. Donnan, the patron saint of the
isle.[186] The singular stone urn figured here, from the original
in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy, is believed to have been
brought from the Hill of Nowth, in the county of Meath, one of the most
remarkable chambered cairns yet discovered. The urn is decorated with
chevron ornaments, and figures supposed to represent the sun and moon.
It is not to be imagined that, unless in some very rare and remarkable
examples, cinerary urns thus laboriously hewn out of stone can belong
to a period anterior to the use of those formed of the plastic clay.
In so far, however, as we may judge from the few examples yet noted,
they seem to be the work of a very remote era, when such were the rare
and distinguished honours reserved perchance alone for the Arch-Druid,
or high-priest of the unknown faith, whose strange rites were once
celebrated within the _Taoursanan_, or mournful circles.[187]

Another, and much more common Scottish stone vessel, consists of a
small round cup or bowl, with a perforated handle on one side, and
generally measuring from five to six inches in diameter. Most of them
are more or less ornamented, though generally in an extremely rude
style; and they have been found made of all varieties of stone, from
the soft camstone to the hardest porphyry and granite. The name by
which these singular vessels have been generally designated among
Scottish antiquaries, is that of Druidical pateræ; though if we are
to assume the idea that they were used in the sacred rites of Pagan
worship, they more nearly resemble the form of the Roman patella, than
of the sacrificial patera, with which libations were poured out to the

[Illustration: Stone Pateræ]

In several instances these singular vessels have been found in the
immediate vicinity of the so-called Druidical circles. In 1828 two
of them were discovered under an ancient causeway leading from a
circle of standing stones on Donside, in the parish of Tullynessle,
Aberdeenshire. One of these, the handle of which is imperfect, is now
deposited in the Scottish Museum, along with various other similar
examples found in different parts of Scotland. The other had a handle
about nine inches long carved out of the same stone, and terminating
with a knob at the end. A similar relic was found some time before,
when clearing out the area of another stone circle on the farm of
Whiteside, in the same county. The frequency of their occurrence,
indeed, would suggest their construction for more common use than the
worship of the gods, were we not led to assume their designation for
some special object, from the very great labour employed in making them.

Some of the rarer forms of the stone vessels found in Scotland are
much more suggestive of domestic purposes. One in my own possession,
found in Glen Tilt, is neatly formed in native green marble, with two
handles, not unlike the more modern Scottish quech. Another, in the
Scottish Collection, found in Atholl, looks like a stone soup-ladle;
and a third, of oblong form, as shewn here, measuring 12 by 8½
inches, was found at Brough, in Shetland, in excavating the area of one
of the large circular buildings of un-cemented stone, styled Pech's
Burghs. It can hardly be more fitly described than as a stone tureen
with handles carved at either end. Others met with under similar
circumstances are wide and shallow, and nearly resemble the large stone
basins figured here, found in the chambers of the celebrated cairn of
Newgrange, in the neighbourhood of Drogheda.

[Illustration: Stone Basin, Shetland.]

[Illustration: Stone Basin, Newgrange.]

It is a remarkable fact, that these vessels, thus laboriously hewn or
wrought out of stone, should be most frequently found either in the
neighbourhood of the rude monolithic structures, or of other apparently
contemporary works of the earliest period. The very imperfect nature
of many of their decorations, however, suffice to prove that they are
the work of men destitute of efficient metallic tools, and who were
little likely to attempt the hopeless task of hewing the giant columns
of their temples into artificial forms. Many of these vessels, indeed,
notwithstanding the attempts at decoration visible upon them, exhibit
much less symmetry or finished workmanship even than the stone hammers
and axes of the same period. So far as I am aware, the Druidical
patera, so frequently found in Scotland, is peculiar to it, no similar
vessel having been discovered among the primitive remains either of
England or Ireland. In the remoter districts of Scotland these ancient
vessels were regarded till recently with the same superstitious awe
and dread which we have already seen attached to other unfamiliar
relics of the same remote era. Mr. Colin M'Kenzie, in describing the
antiquities of the island of Lewis, from personal observations made
towards the close of last century, remarks in reference to the group
of standing stones at Classernish, on the west side of that island,
with its remarkable large central stone, surrounded by a deep hollow
which retains the rain water:--"Were a ditch cut across the circle to a
tolerable depth, some utensils, ashes, &c. might be found to throw more
light on the subject. I have been told that a stone bowl was found, and
afterwards thrown, through a superstitious dread, into the hollow round
of the central stone."[188]

[Illustration: Stone Basin, Newgrange.]

With this class may also be reckoned the Scottish querne,
unquestionably an invention of the remotest antiquity, though it has
continued in use down almost to our own day in some of the western
isles and other rarely visited Highland districts. A curious allusion
to it occurs in the Life of St. Columba, illustrative of its daily use
for the preparation of grain for bread. When the Saint studied under
St. Finnian, every night on which it fell to his share to grind the
corn with the querne he did it so expeditiously that his companions
alleged he had always the assistance of an angel in turning the stone,
and envied him accordingly.[189] At that period, that is in the early
part of the sixth century, there can be little doubt that it was
the only mill in use. Even so early as the thirteenth century legal
means were employed to compel the people to abandon it for the large
water-mills then introduced. In 1284, in the reign of Alexander III.,
it was provided that "na man sall presume to grind quheit, maishlock,
or rye with hands mylne, except he be compelled be storm, or be lack of
mills, quhilk sould grind the samen. And in this case, gif a man grinds
at hand mylnes, he sall gif the threttein measure as multer; and gif
anie man contraveins this our prohibition, he sall tine his hand mylnes
perpetuallie." The prevalence of these simple domestic utensils in the
remoter districts of Scotland till the close of the last century proves
how ineffectual this law had been in superseding the querne by the
public mill.

The commonest form consists simply of two thin circular flat stones,
the upper one of which is pierced in the centre, and revolves on a
wooden or metal pin inserted in the under one. The upper stone is also
occasionally decorated with various ornaments, incised or in relief.
In using the querne the grinder dropped the grain into the central
hole with one hand, while with the other he made the upper stone
revolve by means of a stick inserted in a small hole near the edge. The
extreme simplicity of this indispensable piece of household furniture
justifies its reference to remote antiquity. It has been already
observed that it frequently occurs among the contents of the Scottish
weems, or cyclopean underground dwellings of a very primitive state of
society. It has also been dug up under a variety of circumstances, all
furnishing probable evidence of great antiquity. One upper stone of a
querne, now preserved in the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries, was
discovered in 1825, along with the remains of an iron sword, in digging
on the summit of a hill called the Camp, near Pitlour House, Fifeshire.
Another in the same collection, of still ruder form, was found built
into the masonry of an ancient wall of Edinburgh Castle, demolished in

One type, in which the upper stone is funnel-shaped, with radiating
grooves from the centre perforation, is believed to be the portable
hand mill of the Roman soldier. It is engraved as such in Stuart's
Caledonia Romana, _Plate_ XIII.; and the only one of the same kind in
the Scottish Museum seems to corroborate this, in so far as it was
found to the south-west of Camelon, on the line of the great wall of
Antoninus Pius. It exhibits, as might be expected, more regularity and
method in its construction, and is surrounded with an iron band, now
greatly corroded, with a loop or ear, to which the handle was attached
for turning it.

We shall not, probably, greatly err in assuming as one of the earliest
types of the Scottish hand-mill, the rudely fashioned oaken querne
already referred to, which was dug up from a depth of nearly five feet
in the Blair-Drummond Moss. It is simply the section of an oak tree,
measuring nineteen inches in height by fourteen inches in diameter. The
centre has been hollowed out to a depth of about a foot, so as to form
a rude oaken mortar; and in this, with the help of a stone or wooden
pestle, its primitive possessor was doubtless wont to bruise and pound
the grain preparatory to its conversion into food. The circumstances
under which the Blair-Drummond querne was found, when compared with the
other discoveries in the same locality, scarcely permit us to escape
the inference that in it we possess a domestic utensil contemporary
with the ancient canoes of the Forth and Clyde, if not with the
stranded whales, and the rude harpoons of the carse land from which it
was disinterred.


A more artificial, though very ancient form of hand-mill, is what is
called the Pot Querne, consisting of a hollowed stone basin, with
an aperture through which the meal or flour escapes, and a smaller
circular stone fitting into it, and pierced, as in the simpler
topstones, with a hole in the centre, through which the grain was
thrown into the mill. The woodcut represents one of unusually large
size, found on the farm of Westbank, Gladsmuir parish, East-Lothian,
and now in the Scottish Museum. It is made of coarse pudding-stone, and
measures 17 inches in diameter, and 8½ inches high. It appears to
have had two handles attached to it at opposite sides, as the holes in
which they were inserted still remain. The iron ring now fastened to it
is a modern addition of its last possessor, who used it for securing
his horse at the farm-house door. Pot quernes are common in Ireland,
though somewhat differing in form from the Scottish examples. They are
generally much smaller and shallower than the one described above,
and are made with three, or sometimes four feet. They have likewise a
cavity in the centre of the under stone, into which the upper one fits
by a corresponding projection, so as to preclude the necessity for a
metal axis. They are called by the native Irish _Cloch a vrone_. It
is from the word _vro_ or _bro_, Gaelic _bra_, (the _v_ and _b_ in
the Irish being commutable,) signifying grindings or bruised grain,
that our Scottish word _brose_ is derived, rather than from the French
_brouet_, _i.e._, pottage or broth, though both are probably traceable
to a common Celtic root.

Irish pot quernes have been frequently found at great depths in the
bogs, under circumstances indicating a very remote antiquity, though
they have scarcely yet fallen into total disuse in some of the remotest
districts of the west. Dr. Petrie incidentally furnishes a curious
evidence of the antiquity of the querne. He has in his possession
the topstone of one of these primitive hand-mills, which appears to
have been converted to the unlikely purpose of a tombstone after its
original use had been lost sight of. It has been elaborately decorated
with sculptured ornaments, part of which are effaced to make way for
the name of _Sechnasach_, which its learned owner conceives is probably
the "Priest of Durrow," whose death is recorded in Mageoghegan's
translation of the Annals of Clonmacnoise at the year 928, and in the
Annals of the Four Masters at the year 931.[190]


[184] Wallace's Orkney, p. 56.

[185] Hibbert's Shetland, p. 412.

[186] Sinclair's Statist. Acc. vol. xvii. p. 287.

[187] This is a name given to circles of standing stones in the Gaelic,
from _Taoursach_ or _Tuirseach_, mournful, and has been supposed to
originate in the traditions of human sacrifices believed to have been
offered within these inclosures. _Vide_ Archæol. Scot. vol. i. p. 283.
In the Journal of the Archæological Association (vol. ii. p. 340) a
notice occurs of "a singular bowl-shaped cist and triangular cover of
Bethesden limestone, found in Charing Church, Kent."

[188] Archæol. Scot. vol. i. p. 284.

[189] Smith's Life of Columba, p. 60.

[190] Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland, 2d edit. p. 342.



There only remain to be noted the earliest traces of luxury and
personal adornment contemporary with the rude weapons and implements,
and the simple habitations of earth or unhewn stone, described in the
previous chapters. These are scarcely less abundant than the implements
of war and the chase; and some of them possess a peculiar value for us,
as presenting the sole surviving memorials of female influence, and of
the position woman held in the primitive social state which we desire
to trace out as the true and rudimentary chronological beginning of
our island history. There must necessarily be some uncertainty in any
attempt to assign to the two sexes their just share of the personal
ornaments found in the early tumuli, or discovered in the course of
disturbing the uncultivated soil. Man, in such a primitive state as we
have abundant grounds for believing the Caledonian aborigines of the
Stone Period to have been, delights in assuming to himself the personal
ornaments with which, in a more advanced stage of social life, he finds
a higher gratification in adorning woman. It should not, therefore,
excite surprise when we find ornaments which modern civilisation
resigns entirely to the fair sex, such as bracelets, hair-pins, neck
ornaments, and the like, mingling with the sword and the spear of the
rude barbarian chief. Still, there are some ornaments, and especially
bead necklaces, bracelets, and some of the smaller and more delicate
armillæ, which we can hardly err in classing among female decorations.
The subject, however, is well deserving of further attention, and the
more so, as the evidence which is available in the case of sepulchral
remains is of so satisfactory and decisive a character when reported
on by competent witnesses. There can be no doubt, from the disclosures
of numerous tumuli and cists, that the dead were frequently buried "in
their habits as they lived," and with all their most prized personal
adornments upon them, though time has made sad havoc of their funeral
pomp, and scarcely allows a glimpse even of the naked skeleton that
crumbles into dust under our gaze.

The rudest class of personal ornaments which are found in the
sepulchral mounds, or in the safer chance depository of the bogs,
are those formed of bone or horn; but they are necessarily of rare
occurrence, not only from the remoteness of the period to which we
conceive them to belong, but from the frail nature of the material in
which they have been wrought, which, when deposited among the memorials
of the dead, yields to decay not greatly less rapid than the remains
it should adorn, and crumbles to dust when restored to light and air.
Still some few of these fragile relics have been preserved, consisting
of perforated beads of bone, horn pins, perforated animals' teeth,
and other equally rude fragments of necklaces or pendants; but very
few of them present much attempt at artificial decoration by means
of incised ornaments or carving, such as is found to have been so
extensively practised in a later age. One curious set of bone ornaments
in the Scottish Museum includes a piece of ivory pierced with a square
perforation, and another with a nut or button fitting into it, the
clasp or fibula it may be of some robe of honour worn by a chief of the
ancient race.

Ornaments of jet or shale and cannel coal, and large beads of glass
and pebble, are of much more frequent occurrence in the Scottish
grave-mounds, and furnish extremely interesting and varied evidence of
the decorative arts of these remote ages. Many of them, however, are
found under circumstances which leave no room to doubt that they belong
to a period coeval with the introduction of metals, and the skill
acquired in the practice of the metallurgic arts.


There is another class of relics, however, which we can feel no
hesitation in ranking among the earliest remains of the Stone Period,
though it may sometimes be difficult to determine whether we should
regard them as mere personal ornaments or as charms employed in the
mysterious rites of Pagan superstition, as it is not uncommon to find
them used, at a very recent date, by their illiterate inheritors in
some of the remoter districts of the Highlands and Isles. One relic,
for example, in the Scottish Museum, consists of a flat reddish
stone, roughly polished. It measures 4 inches in length, and about
2¾ inches in its greatest breadth, and is notched in a regular
form, with two holes perforated through it. It was presented to the
Society of Scottish Antiquaries in 1784, as a charm in use among the
population of the island of Islay for the cure of diseases. From its
correspondence with others of the earliest class of relics, it can
hardly admit of a doubt that it belongs to the personal ornaments of
the Stone Period, and may have owed the reverence of its more recent
possessor to the fact of its discovery within some primitive cist, or
in the charmed circle of Taoursanan, the origin of which is commonly
ascribed to superhuman powers. It is worthy of note, indeed, that the
word _Druidheachd_ is no longer associated with the priesthood of
the British groves, but is now only used by the Scottish Highlanders
as applicable to sorcery or magic. Another, but much less perfect
ornament of perforated reddish stone, in the same collection with the
above, was found, along with several flint arrow-heads, in the island
of Harris; and a third, still ruder, was discovered, with a similar
arrow-head, on the Lomond Hills of Fifeshire. But perhaps the most
singular relics of the Stone Period ever discovered in Scotland are two
stone collars, found near the celebrated Parallel Roads of Glenroy,
and now preserved at the mansion of Tonley, Aberdeenshire. They are
each of the full size of a collar adapted to a small Highland horse;
the one formed of trap or whinstone, and the other of a fine-grained
red granite. They are not, however, to be regarded as the primitive
substitutes for the more convenient materials of later introduction.
On the contrary, a close imitation of the details of a horse collar
of common materials is attempted, including the folds of the leather,
nails, buckles, and holes for tying particular parts together. They are
finished with much care and a high degree of polish, and are described
as obviously the workmanship of a skilful artist. Mr. Skene, who first
drew attention to these remarkable relics, suggests the probability of
the peculiar natural features of Glenroy having led to the selection
of this amphitheatre for the scene of ancient public games; and that
these stone collars might commemorate the victor in the chariot race,
as the tripods still existing record the victor in the Choragic games
of Athens. But no circumstances attending their discovery are known
which could aid conjecture either as to the period or purpose of their



In the year 1832, a large tumulus, on the shore of Broadford Bay,
Isle of Skye, was levelled in the progress of some improvements on
the estate of Corry, and it was found to cover a rudely vaulted
chamber, within which lay a cist inclosing a human skeleton, along with
various bones of animals, the species of which were not ascertained.
Alongside of the skeleton an ornament of polished pale green stone
was discovered, measuring about 2½ inches in length, by 2 inches
in breadth. Its form will be best understood by the annexed woodcut.
It is convex on the upper side, and concave on the under side, with
a small hole drilled at each of the four corners, and an ornamental
border of slightly indented ovals along one end. It differs only in
dimensions from another previously referred to, in the collection of
Adam Arbuthnot, Esq., of Peterhead, which was obtained from a tumulus
at Cruden, Aberdeenshire. It measures 4¼ inches in length. Another
ornament of polished green stone was afterwards discovered in the
neighbourhood of the tumulus at Broadford Bay. It measures about 3½
inches in length, and nearly an inch in breadth at the centre, but
tapers to about half an inch in breadth at either end, where a small
hole is drilled through. It is only a fifth of an inch in thickness.
Simple as are the forms of both of these relics, they represent a class
which appear to have been common among the personal decorations of
the Stone Period, whether regarded merely as ornaments, or valued for
some hidden virtue which may have been supposed to pertain to them.
A sepulchral deposit, closely corresponding to that found in the
Isle of Skye, was discovered by some labourers employed in sinking a
ditch at Tring, in Hertfordshire, about the year 1763. The relics were
entirely of the same rude primitive class, and it furnished an example
in confirmation of previous remarks regarding the earliest sepulchral
rites, as the skeleton was found laid at full length, with legs and
arms extended. Between the legs lay some flint arrow-heads, and at the
feet ornaments resembling, both in form and material, those found in
the tumulus at Broadford Bay.[192] Sir R. C. Hoare describes objects
of similar character, found in the barrows of Wiltshire, some of which
were made of blue slate;[193] and small perforated plates of stone or
flint, of slightly varying forms, are not uncommon among the contents
of the earlier British tumuli. They are not, however, confined to
Britain. Simple as are the forms of the two relics figured above, there
is a sufficiently marked character about them to excite our surprise
when we meet with them in the grave of the ancient native of Skye, and
in the cists of Herts or Wiltshire; but ornaments of almost exactly
the same forms have been discovered in the mounds of the great valley
of the Mississippi,[194] accompanied with celts, stone hatchets, and
other primitive implements closely resembling those of the British
Stone Period; though also with many more so essentially differing,
as to forbid us deducing from such chance coincidences any fanciful
community of origin between the Allophylian colonists of Europe and the
aborigines of America.

Still ruder are the primitive necklaces, formed of the common small
shells of our coasts, such as the _Nerita litoralis_, and even the
_Patella vulgata_, or common limpet, perforated, apparently, by
the simple process of rubbing the point on a stone, and then strung
together with a fibre or sinew. It may perhaps be thought by some that
sufficient space has already been devoted to this infantile period of
the race, yet childish as such decorations seem, they are found among
the valued relics of men whose giant monuments have outlived many
massive structures destined by later ages to perpetuate the memory of
historic deeds, or consecrated to the services of the all-powerful
Church of medieval Christendom. Underneath the cromlech discovered
on levelling a tumulus in the Phœnix Park at Dublin, in 1838, two
male skeletons were disclosed, and beside the skull of each lay the
perforated shells of a necklace which had doubtless been placed around
their necks when they were deposited in the simple but grand mausoleum
that still attests the veneration of the ancient natives for their
chiefs. A portion of the vegetable fibre with which they had been
strung together remained through some of the shells, and the only other
relics found in the grave were a small fibula of bone, and a knife or
lance-head of flint. The common British bivalves are also found used
for similar decorations. In a cist discovered on the coast of the Frith
of Forth, during the construction of the Edinburgh and Granton Railway,
the only relics deposited beside the skeleton which it enclosed were
a quantity of the _cardium commune_, or cockle, of different sizes,
rubbed down until they were reduced nearly to rings; while in another
cist, opened at Orkney, and more particularly referred to in a previous
chapter, about two dozen oyster shells were discovered, each perforated
with a hole nearly an inch in diameter.


[191] Archæol. Scot. vol. iii. p. 299.

[192] Archæologia, vol. viii. p. 429. Plate XXX. fig. 6.

[193] Ancient Wiltshire, Plates II. and XII.

[194] Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley. Smithsonian
Contributions to Knowledge, vol. i. p. 237.



Notwithstanding the zeal with which English archæologists have pursued
their investigations among the remains of primitive sepulchral
deposits, scarcely anything has yet been done towards obtaining a
collection of facts in relation to the size and form of the skulls, and
the general characteristics of the skeletons of their constructors. In
this, as in so many other respects, the archæologists of Sweden and
Denmark have set us an example well deserving of imitation, and have
shewn the essential dependence of Archæology on the kindred sciences,
with which it has heretofore failed to effect a hearty alliance in
Britain. Had Sir Richard Colt Hoare examined the osteology of the
tumuli of Wiltshire with the same patient accuracy and precision
which he devoted to their archæology, a most important basis would
have been furnished for ethnological research. Now, however, that
such investigations are recognised as coming within the legitimate
scope of archæological inquiry, we may hope ere long to ascertain
by such evidence somewhat of the characteristics of the aboriginal
race of the Stone Period, and also to obtain an answer to the
inquiry,--Was the Bronze Period superinduced on the Primeval one by
internal improvement and progression, or was it the result of the
intruded arts of a superior race? This, it is manifest, can only be
determined by an extensive series of observations, since physiologists
are generally agreed in admitting that the physical characteristics
of races have been largely modified, and even entirely altered, by
a change of circumstances. The nomadic Turkish tribes, for example,
spread through central Asia, still exhibit the broad-faced, pyramidal
skulls which Dr. Prichard has assigned to the nomadic races, while
the long civilized European Turks have become closely assimilated to
other European races, and possess the characteristic oval skull.[195]
"The greater relative development of the jaws and zygomata, and of
the bones of the face altogether, in comparison with the size of the
brain, indicates, in the pyramidal and prognathous skulls, a more
ample extension of the organs subservient to sensation and the animal
faculties. Such a configuration is adapted, by its results, to the
condition of human tribes in the nomadic state, and in that of savage
hunters."[196] Two important points, therefore, which remain to be
determined in relation to the British tumuli are, whether the forms
and proportions of the skulls of their builders indicate the existence
of one or of several races? and next, whether the changes in the forms
of the crania are sudden and decided, or are gradual, and pass by an
undefined transition from the one to the other? It will be found in
the succeeding section that archæological evidence clearly points to
a transitional state from the Stone to the Bronze Period, such as
is at least altogether irreconcilable with the idea of the sudden
extermination of the aboriginal race. It at the same time no less
distinctly points to the existence of a native population in Britain
long anterior to the earliest historic indications of the Arian nations
passing into Europe.

To these early races, which we describe loosely as primitive, or as
aboriginal or primeval, Dr. Prichard has suggested the application
of the conveniently indefinite term "Allophylian," which suffices to
characterize them as distinct from the well ascertained primitive
races, without meanwhile assuming any hypothetical origin for them. It
remains to be seen whether the archæologist may not be able to supply,
in a great degree, the desired information in relation to the habits,
arts, and social condition of these unknown races:--

    "The Allophylian nations," Dr. Prichard remarks, "appear to
    have been spread, in the earliest times, through all the
    most remote regions of the old continent,--to the northward,
    eastward, and westward of the Indo-European tribes, whom
    they seem everywhere to have preceded; so that they appear,
    in comparison with these Indo-European colonies, in the
    light of aboriginal or native inhabitants, vanquished, and
    often banished into remote and inaccessible tracts, by more
    powerful invading tribes. The latter, namely, the Indo-European
    nations, seem to have been everywhere superior in mental
    endowments. Some tribes, indeed, had retained or acquired
    many characteristics of barbarism and ferocity; but with all
    these they joined undoubted marks of an earlier intellectual
    development, particularly a higher culture of language as
    an instrument of thought, as well as of human intercourse.
    If we inquire into the degree of improvement in the arts of
    life which the Indo-European nations had attained at the
    era of dispersion from their primitive abode, or from the
    common centre of the whole stock, an investigation of their
    languages will be our principal guide. It gives us strong
    grounds for a belief that their advancement in useful arts
    had been comparatively small. The primitive ancestors of the
    Indo-European nations were probably ignorant of the use of
    iron and other metals, _since the terms by which these are
    denoted are different in different languages, and must, as
    it would appear, have been adopted subsequently to the era of
    separation_. Nothing can be more unlike than _gold_, χρυσος,
    and aurum; than _silver_ and argentum; than _ferrum_ and
    σιδηρος. Other considerations may be advanced to confirm this
    opinion, that the use of metals was unknown to the earliest
    colonists of the west.... But though unskilled in many of
    the most useful arts of life, the Arian people appear to
    have brought with them a much higher mental culture than the
    Allophylian races possessed before the Arian tribes were spread
    among them. They had national poetry, and a culture of language
    and thought altogether surprising, when compared with their
    external condition and habits."[197]

The religion which consists in mere fetisses, charms, spells, and
talismans is in like manner ascribed by Dr. Prichard to these
Allophylian nations; in contradistinction to the Eastern doctrine
of metempsychosis, with the coincident belief in a system of
retributive justice, and the distinct recognition of a future state,
which appear to have been common to all the Arian nations, and to
have been further developed by their being confided to a distinct
order, caste, or priesthood. Of the former races the modern Fins,
Lappes, and Esquimaux still remain as characteristic examples. Of the
latter, the historic Celtæ, Scandinavian and German-Teutonic races
are sufficiently illustrative, while the modern Hindoos are a living
evidence of the south-eastern migration of the same great branch of the
human family. But of the degree of civilisation of the Arian nomades
when they reached the western shores of Europe, or of the state in
which they found the countries which they colonized, we as yet know
almost nothing; and it still remains to be determined whether they
entered into peaceful possession of unpeopled wastes, or won them
from primitive Allophylian nations. On these points archæological
observation may be expected to throw some light. The irregular or
systematic arrangement of the cist, the provisions for the future
occupation and welfare of the deceased, and all the peculiarities of
primitive sepulchral rites, more or less clearly indicate the arts and
habits of those by whom they were practised, and still more, the ideas
entertained by them in relation to a future state.

Of the Allophylian colonists of Scandinavia, Professor Nillson assigns
to the most ancient the short or brachy-kephalic form of cranium, with
prominent parietal tubers, and broad and flattened occiput. To this
aboriginal race he conceives succeeds another with a cranium of a more
lengthened oval form and prominent and narrow occiput. The third race,
which Scandinavian antiquaries incline to regard as that of the bronze
or first metallic period, is characterized by a cranium longer than the
first and broader than the second, and marked by greater prominence at
the sides. The last Professor Nillson considers to have been of Celtic
origin. To this succeeded the true Scandinavian race, and the first
workers of the native iron ore.[198] Professor Eschricht assigns to
the crania from the barrows of the oldest Danish series an ample and
well-developed form, with the forehead vaulted and tolerably spacious,
and the nasal bones prominent. In a skull described by him the zygomata
appear large and angular, and the cranium has somewhat of a pyramidal
form. The eyes have been deeply set, and the eyebrows are strongly
prominent. One of the most remarkable features in these skulls is their
round form, approaching to a spherical shape.[199]

The type of the old Celtic cranium is considered by Professor Nillson
as intermediate to the lengthened and shortened oval, or the true
dolicho-kephalic and brachy-kephalic forms, and in this conclusion Dr.
Thurnam coincides. Dr. Morton describes the Celtic head as "rather
elongated, and the forehead narrow and but slightly arched; the brow
low, straight, and bushy; the eyes and hair light; the nose and
mouth large; and the cheek-bones high."[200] Such characteristics
differ decidedly from those of the early barrows. Dr. Prichard,
however, hesitates to accept the conclusions adopted by Scandinavian
ethnologists, attaching it may be too slight importance to the
strictly archæological evidence on which they are to some extent
based. He remarks in reference to the description of the skulls
of the most ancient Scandinavian barrows:--"They are probably the
crania of Celtic races; in Denmark of Cimbrians. The tombs containing
ornaments of the precious metals are referred to a later age; but it
is uncertain as yet whether they belonged to the same race as the
former."[201] One marked difference has hitherto existed between the
systems of several of the chief continental ethnologists and those
of England, which has somewhat influenced the conclusions of each.
While continental investigators into the phenomena of various races
have set aside the idea of one primitive stock,--some of them even
assuming the primal existence of numerous distinct and independent
human races,--British ethnologists, with Dr. Prichard at their head,
have held fast by the Adamic history, and in maintaining the origin
of all the races of man from one pair, have also given its full
force to the influence of external circumstances in modifying the
physical peculiarities of each race. That the progress of a people in
civilisation must be accompanied with a corresponding improvement in
their intellectual faculties and also in their physical conformation
is now generally admitted. Long time, however, is required even under
the most favourable circumstances, for any very decisive modification
affecting the form and features of a whole people, so that the sudden
intrusion of a foreign race must be no less readily discernible from
their crania than from novel arts or sepulchral rites. Nothing has
yet been done by Scottish archæologists with a view to ascertain the
physical conformation of the primitive native races; and the small
contribution now offered as a beginning, is founded on too limited data
to be of very great avail, except perhaps in opening up the subject and
leading to more extended observation. Fortunately a few skulls from
Scottish tumuli and cists are preserved in the Museums of the Scottish
Antiquaries and of the Edinburgh Phrenological Society. A comparison of
these with the specimens of crania drawn by Dr. Thurnam from examples
found in an ancient tumular cemetery at Lamel Hill, near York, believed
to be of the Anglo-Saxon period, abundantly proves an essential
difference of races.[202] The latter, though belonging to the superior
or dolicho-kephalic type, are small, very poorly developed, low and
narrow in the forehead, and pyramidal in form. A striking feature of
one type of crania from the Scottish barrows is a square compact form.
Though full in the middle-head, these are by no means deficient in the
forehead; but it will be observed from the first class of examples
in the following table of measurements, that they are generally of
small relative size,--a fact which has been frequently noted, even by
casual observers, when seeing them _in situ_, and contrasting their
dimensions with the disproportionate size of the skeleton. The system
of measurement employed in the following table is chiefly that adopted
by Dr. Morton in his "Crania Americana," and the terms are used in
the sense explained by him under the head "Anatomical Measurements,"
(p. 249.) From the fractured and very fragile state of many of the
skulls, it was impossible to attempt the measurement of their internal
capacity by the ingenious process employed by Dr. Morton. The last
column in the table is accordingly found by adding the longitudinal and
vertical diameters and the horizontal periphery. This is not assumed
as affording any test of the actual capacity of each cranium, but only
as a fair relative approximation and element of comparison. Owing to
the undetermined form of the processes in several of the crania and the
imperfection or total absence of the facial bones, from their greatly
decayed state, the additional measurements marked * are given as less
liable to error. Some of them, such as the inter-mastoid arch and
inter-mastoid line, taken from the upper root of the zygomatic process
instead of from the points of the mastoid processes, are also, perhaps,
preferable as more uniform and precise.[203]

The full value of such investigations, and even their precise bearing
and the conclusions legitimately deducible from them, may probably
be matter of dispute, but there can be no question that a general
distinctive cranial conformation is clearly discoverable in modern
nations, and is even very markedly observable between the different
races of the British Isles. Given a sufficient number of examples of
each class, the experienced eye would at once discriminate between the
modern European Fin, Germanic Teuton, and British Celt. The conclusion
appears therefore inevitable, that if we find in the ancient tumuli
like variations in physical form, systematically reducible to two or
more classes, we are justified in assuming the existence of diverse
primitive races, and of seeking in the accompanying relics for
indications of their peculiar arts and customs, as well as of their
relative positions as contemporary or successive occupants of the

  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  | No.|CRANIA.                |Longit-  |Parietal |Frontal  |Vertical |
  |    |                       |udinal   |Diameter.|Diameter.|Diameter.|
  |    |                       |Diameter.|         |         |         |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |  i.|Mexican,               |6.8      |5.5      |4.6      |6.       |
  | ii.|"                      |6.4      |5.7      |4.5      |5.4      |
  |Primitive Dolicho-kephalic, |         |         |         |         |
  |or Kumbe-kephalic.          |         |         |         |         |
  | {1.|Cist, Aberdeenshire,   |7.       |5.4½?    |4.9?     |4.10     |
  | {2.|  "  Fifeshire,        |7.       |4.8      |4.4      |5.3      |
  | {3.|  "  Cockenzie,        |6.11     |5.3      |3.11     |5.       |
  |    |  East-Lothian,        |         |         |         |         |
  | {4.|  "  "                 |7.       |4.11     |4.4      |5.3      |
  | {5.|  "  "                 |6.6      |4.1?     |4.11     |4.2?     |
  | {6.|  "  Stonelaws,        |7.3      |5.4      |4.6      |5.2      |
  |    |  East-Lothian,        |         |         |         |         |
  | {7.|Cairn, Fifeshire,      |7.5      |5.2      |4.5      |5.2      |
  | {8.|Tumulus, Newbattle,    |7.9      |5.6      |4.9      |...      |
  | {9.|  "  Montrose,         |7.3      |5.8      |4.3½     |4.9      |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |Brachy-kephalic.            |         |         |         |         |
  |{10.|Cist, Montrose,        |7.       |6.1      |5.3      |5.8      |
  |{11.|Moss, Kilsyth,         |...      |5.7½?    |4.4      |5.5      |
  |{12.|  "  Linton,           |6.6      |5.1      |4.1      |4.9      |
  |{13.|  "  "                 |6.7      |5.       |4.1      |4.11     |
  |{14.|Cist, Ratho,           |6.10     |6.       |5.1      |5.6      |
  |{15.|  "  Linlithgow,       |7.2?     |5.6      |4.9      |...      |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  | 16.|Roman Shaft,           |7.3      |5.4      |4.6      |5.4      |
  |    |  Roxburghshire,       |         |         |         |         |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |Celtic.                     |         |         |         |         |
  |{17.|Tarbert, Kintyre,      |7.9      |5.       |4.10     |5.6      |
  |{18.|Sea-Shore, Argyleshire,|7.6      |5.1      |4.6      |5.1      |
  |{19.|Harris, Hebrides,      |7.3      |5.3      |4.5      |5.4½     |
  |{20.|Iona, "                |7.5      |5.6½     |5.0½     |5.6      |
  |{21.|  "  "                 |7.3      |5.6½     |4.4      |5.6      |
  |{22.|  "  "                 |7.2      |5.7      |4.5      |5.6      |
  |{23.|  "  "                 |7.3½     |5.7      |4.6      |5.2      |
  |{24.|  "  "                 |7.2      |5.5      |4.6      |...      |
  |{25.|Knockstanger,          |7.8      |5.6      |4.3½     |5.3      |
  |    |  Caithness,           |         |         |         |         |
  |{26.|Inch Columb Kill,      |7.9      |5.7      |5.3      |5.6      |
  |    |  Ireland,             |         |         |         |         |
  |{27.|Celtic Type (?) Edin.  |7.11     |5.5      |4.9      |...      |
  |    |  Phrenol. Museum,     |         |         |         |         |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |Medieval.                   |         |         |         |         |
  |{28.|Tumular Cemetery,      |7.6½     |5.9      |4.7      |5.6      |
  |    |  North Berwick,       |         |         |         |         |
  |{29.|  "  "                 |7.       |5.7      |4.0½     |4.8      |
  |{30.|  "  "                 |7.3½     |5.10     |4.11     |5.7      |
  |{31.|Castle Bank, Edinburgh,|7.6      |5.4      |4.11     |...      |
  |{32.|Flodden Wall,          |7.6      |5.4      |4.8      |5.2      |
  |    |  Edinburgh,           |         |         |         |         |
  |{33.|Old St. Giles's,       |7.3      |5.6      |4.4      |5.1      |
  |    |  Edinburgh,           |         |         |         |         |
  |{34.|  "  "                 |7.6      |5.6      |4.7      |...      |
  |{35.|  "  "                 |6.11½    |5.6      |4.4      |5.       |
  |{36.|  "  "                 |6.6      |5.3      |4.2      |4.11     |
  |{37.|  "  "                 |6.11     |5.9      |4.9      |5.1      |
  |{38.|  "  "                 |7.3      |5.7      |4.6      |5.4      |
  |{39.|Constitution Street,   |7.       |5.9      |4.9      |5.3      |
  |    |  Leith,               |         |         |         |         |

  |    |                       |         |    *    |         |    *    |
  | No.|CRANIA.                |Inter-   |Inter-   |Inter-   |Do.      |
  |    |                       |Mastoid  |Mastoid  |Mastoid  |from     |
  |    |                       |Arch.    |Arch,    |Line.    |Upper    |
  |    |                       |         |from     |         |Root of  |
  |    |                       |         |Upper    |         |Zygomatic|
  |    |                       |         |Root of  |         |Process. |
  |    |                       |         |Zygomatic|         |         |
  |    |                       |         |Process. |         |         |
  |  i.|Mexican,               |15.6     |...      |4.4      |...      |
  | ii.|"                      |14.6     |...      |4.5      |...      |
  |Primitive Dolicho-kephalic, |         |         |         |         |
  |or Kumbe-kephalic.          |         |         |         |         |
  | {1.|Cist, Aberdeenshire,   |13.11    |11.5     |3.6½     |4.8½     |
  | {2.|  "  Fifeshire,        |13.2     |11.      |4.1      |4.10     |
  | {3.|  "  Cockenzie,        |...      |12.      |...      |4.8½     |
  |    |  East-Lothian,        |         |         |         |         |
  | {4.|  "  "                 |13.8     |11.4½    |4.1      |4.10     |
  | {5.|  "  "                 |13.2     |11.3     |...      |4.8?     |
  | {6.|  "  Stonelaws,        |14.3     |11.9     |4.4      |5.0½     |
  |    |  East-Lothian,        |         |         |         |         |
  | {7.|Cairn, Fifeshire,      |14.3     |12.      |3.7      |4.10½    |
  | {8.|Tumulus, Newbattle,    |...      |12.3     |...      |5.6      |
  | {9.|  "  Montrose,         |14.      |11.9     |3.8½     |5.       |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |Brachy-kephalic.            |         |         |         |         |
  |{10.|Cist, Montrose,        |15.9     |13.1     |4.4      |5.9½     |
  |{11.|Moss, Kilsyth,         |14.6?    |12.2?    |4.1      |...      |
  |{12.|  "  Linton,           |13.5     |11.3     |3.9      |4.6      |
  |{13.|  "  "                 |13.4     |11.3     |3.10     |4.6      |
  |{14.|Cist, Ratho,           |15.7     |12.11    |4.2      |5.7      |
  |{15.|  "  Linlithgow,       |14.10    |12.7     |4.6      |5.5      |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  | 16.|Roman Shaft,           |14.7½    |12.      |5.3½     |5.6      |
  |    |  Roxburghshire,       |         |         |         |         |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |Celtic.                     |         |         |         |         |
  |{17.|Tarbert, Kintyre,      |14.9     |11.11    |4.       |5.4      |
  |{18.|Sea-Shore, Argyleshire,|14.8     |11.3     |3.11     |5.3      |
  |{19.|Harris, Hebrides,      |14.5     |12.4     |3.11½    |4.9      |
  |{20.|Iona, "                |14.11½   |12.3     |4.       |...      |
  |{21.|  "  "                 |14.8     |12.      |4.1      |5.3      |
  |{22.|  "  "                 |14.9     |11.10    |4.3      |5.6      |
  |{23.|  "  "                 |15.?     |12.4?    |...      |...      |
  |{24.|  "  "                 |...      |...      |...      |...      |
  |{25.|Knockstanger,          |14.4     |11.8     |4.7      |5.6      |
  |    |  Caithness,           |         |         |         |         |
  |{26.|Inch Columb Kill,      |15.7     |13.3     |4.0½     |5.4      |
  |    |  Ireland,             |         |         |         |         |
  |{27.|Celtic Type (?) Edin.  |...      |12.      |...      |5.1      |
  |    |  Phrenol. Museum,     |         |         |         |         |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |Medieval.                   |         |         |         |         |
  |{28.|Tumular Cemetery,      |15.2     |12.3     |3.11     |5.2      |
  |    |  North Berwick,       |         |         |         |         |
  |{29.|  "  "                 |13.8     |11.4     |3.6      |4.9      |
  |{30.|  "  "                 |15.5     |12.3     |...      |5.9      |
  |{31.|Castle Bank, Edinburgh,|14.3     |12.      |4.3      |5.5      |
  |{32.|Flodden Wall,          |14.6     |12.2     |4.2      |5.1      |
  |    |  Edinburgh,           |         |         |         |         |
  |{33.|Old St. Giles's,       |14.      |11.9     |4.2½     |5.5      |
  |    |  Edinburgh,           |         |         |         |         |
  |{34.|  "  "                 |14.7     |12.      |4.1½     |5.1      |
  |{35.|  "  "                 |14.5     |12.      |3.7½     |4.9      |
  |{36.|  "  "                 |13.3     |11.3     |3.10½    |4.10     |
  |{37.|  "  "                 |15.2     |12.      |4.       |5.7      |
  |{38.|  "  "                 |14.7     |12.1     |4.       |5.       |
  |{39.|Constitution Street,   |14.6     |12.5     |3.10½    |5.0½     |
  |    |  Leith,               |         |         |         |         |

  |    |                       |         |   *     |         |    *    |
  | No.|CRANIA.                |Occipito-|Do. from |Hori-    |Relative |
  |    |                       |frontal  |Occipital|zontal   |Capacity.|
  |    |                       |Arch.    |Protuber-|Periph-  |         |
  |    |                       |         |ance to  |ery.     |         |
  |    |                       |         |Root of  |         |         |
  |    |                       |         |Nose.    |         |         |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |  i.|Mexican,               |14.6     |...      |19.9     |32.5     |
  | ii.|"                      |13.5     |...      |20.2     |31.10    |
  |Primitive Dolicho-kephalic, |         |         |         |         |
  |or Kumbe-kephalic.          |         |         |         |         |
  | {1.|Cist, Aberdeenshire,   |13.9     |12.      |20.4     |32.2     |
  | {2.|  "  Fifeshire,        |14.      |11.11    |19.6     |31.9     |
  | {3.|  "  Cockenzie,        |14.4     |11.4     |19.      |30.11    |
  |    |  East-Lothian,        |         |         |         |         |
  | {4.|  "  "                 |13.10    |11.3     |16.7½    |28.10½   |
  | {5.|  "  "                 |13.11    |12.      |19.      |29.6     |
  | {6.|  "  Stonelaws,        |14.8     |12.3     |20.8½    |33.1½    |
  |    |  East-Lothian,        |         |         |         |         |
  | {7.|Cairn, Fifeshire,      |14.3     |12.3     |20.7½    |33.2½    |
  | {8.|Tumulus, Newbattle,    |15.6     |...      |21.3     |...      |
  | {9.|  "  Montrose,         |14.2     |11.9     |20.7     |32.7     |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |Brachy-kephalic.            |         |         |         |         |
  |{10.|Cist, Montrose,        |15.2     |13.3     |21.      |33.8     |
  |{11.|Moss, Kilsyth,         |...      |...      |21.?     |...      |
  |{12.|  "  Linton,           |13.6     |11.9     |18.7½    |29.10½   |
  |{13.|  "  "                 |13.8     |11.10    |19.7     |31.1     |
  |{14.|Cist, Ratho,           |14.11    |13.      |20.      |32.4     |
  |{15.|  "  Linlithgow,       |...      |...      |20.6     |...      |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  | 16.|Roman Shaft,           |14.4     | 12.9    |20.6     |33.1     |
  |    |  Roxburghshire,       |         |         |         |         |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |Celtic.                     |         |         |         |         |
  |{17.|Tarbert, Kintyre,      |15.5     |13.6     |21.3     |34.6     |
  |{18.|Sea-Shore, Argyleshire,|14.6     |12.11    |20.4     |32.11½   |
  |{19.|Harris, Hebrides,      |14.9     |12.9     |20.10    |33.5½    |
  |{20.|Iona, "                |14.9     |12.6     |20.10    |33.9     |
  |{21.|  "  "                 |14.5     |12.10    |20.2     |32.11    |
  |{22.|  "  "                 |14.4     |12.6     |20.      |32.8     |
  |{23.|  "  "                 |14.8     |12.6½    |19.10½   |32.4     |
  |{24.|  "  "                 |...      |12.10    |20.7     |...      |
  |{25.|Knockstanger,          |14.6     |12.7     |20.11    |33.10    |
  |    |  Caithness,           |         |         |         |         |
  |{26.|Inch Columb Kill,      |16.4     |14.4     |21.11    |35.2     |
  |    |  Ireland,             |         |         |         |         |
  |{27.|Celtic Type (?) Edin.  |15.5     |13.9     |21.6     |...      |
  |    |  Phrenol. Museum,     |         |         |         |         |
  |    |                       |         |         |         |         |
  |Medieval.                   |         |         |         |         |
  |{28.|Tumular Cemetery,      |15.      |12.3     |21.5     |34.5½    |
  |    |  North Berwick,       |         |         |         |         |
  |{29.|  "  "                 |...      |12.3     |19.9     |31.5     |
  |{30.|  "  "                 |15.      |13.      |21.7     |34.5½    |
  |{31.|Castle Bank, Edinburgh,|...      |12.6     |20.1     |...      |
  |{32.|Flodden Wall,          |15.6     |...      |20.11    |33.7     |
  |    |  Edinburgh,           |         |         |         |         |
  |{33.|Old St. Giles's,       |14.4     |12.      |20.2½    |32.6½    |
  |    |  Edinburgh,           |         |         |         |         |
  |{34.|  "  "                 |15.      |12.10    |20.8     |...      |
  |{35.|  "  "                 |14.      |11.9     |19.10    |31.9½    |
  |{36.|  "  "                 |13.3     |11.      |18.7     |30.      |
  |{37.|  "  "                 |14.      |12.2     |20.5     |32.5     |
  |{38.|  "  "                 |14.7     |12.7     |20.2     |32.9     |
  |{39.|Constitution Street,   |14.3     |12.5     |20.3     |32.6     |
  |    |  Leith,               |         |         |         |         |

There is no primitive race known to us which seems so fit to be
selected as a type and standard of comparison in relation to cranial
development, as the Aztecs or ancient Mexicans. They were the last
dominant race among numerous native tribes, who, progressing from
the rudimentary Stone Period, were excluded from influences such as
those which in Europe superseded the ages of stone and bronze by the
more perfect arts of civilisation. These changes archæologists are
now agreed in associating with the introduction of iron. But if in
this latter point also the parallel be admissible, then we must less
conceive of the more perfect arts of civilisation being superinduced
on those of the Archaic Period, than of the Allophylian nations being
themselves superseded. More extended observations on the physical
characteristics of these races will probably, to a great extent,
determine this. Two skulls selected from Morton's Crania Americana are
placed at the head of the table, and will afford a very satisfactory
comparative estimate of the cranial capacity of the races of the
Scottish tumuli. No. i. is figured in _Plate_ XVII. of Dr. Morton's
valuable work, from which it will be seen that it decidedly belongs to
the Brachy-kephalic class of Retzius, which again nearly corresponds
with the pyramidal division of Dr. Prichard. It is thus described by
Dr. Morton:--"With a better forehead than is usual, this skull presents
all the prominent characters of the American race--the prominent
face, elevated vertex, vertical occiput, and the great swell from the
temporal bones upward." No. ii. is figured in _Plate_ XVIII. of the
same work, and closely corresponds to it in type. It is described as
"a remarkably well characterized Toltecan head from an ancient tomb
near the city of Mexico, whence it was exhumed, with a great variety
of antiques, vessels, masks, ornaments," &c. These, therefore, afford
a fair comparative criterion of the capacity of the tumuli builders
of Britain for the practice of arts analogous to those in which the
later American races so greatly excelled at the epoch of the Spanish
Conquest; and it will be seen that the comparison is, upon the whole,
in favour of the superior intelligence of the British Brachy-kephalic
race, as indicated by the cerebral mass and frontal development. No. 1.
is an exceedingly interesting example of a skull of the Stone Period,
in the Antiquarian Museum. It was found in 1822 in a rude cist in the
parish of Banchory-Devenich, Aberdeenshire. On the top of the head is
a hole nearly circular, rather more than an inch in diameter, which
there can scarcely be a doubt was caused by the death-blow. In each
corner of the cist lay a small pile of flint flakes.--No. 2 was taken
from one of thirty cists found near Fifeness, in 1826, and described
in a previous chapter.--Nos. 3, 4, and 5 were obtained from a group of
rude cists discovered in the neighbourhood of Cockenzie, East-Lothian,
in 1840. Nos. 3 and 4, as well as the two previous examples, are in the
Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries. No. 5 has been obtained from J.
M. Mitchell, Esq., who was present when the graves at Cockenzie were
opened, and is here figured as a characteristic example of the class.
No relics were found along with these remains, but the cists were
of the primitive circumscribed dimensions, and presented the rudest
characteristics of early sepulture.--No. 6 is a skull in the Edinburgh
Phrenological Museum found on the farm of Stonelaws, East-Lothian,
where a number of rude primitive cists have been exposed in the course
of agricultural operations. Some of these lie east and west, with the
heads at the west end, according to Christian practice, but others are
irregularly laid; and the example here noted was found with the head at
the east end of the grave.--No. 7 was obtained from a cist discovered
under a large cairn at Nether Urquhart, Fifeshire, in 1835. An account
of the opening of several cairns and tumuli in the same district is
given by Lieutenant-Colonel Miller, in his "Inquiry respecting the
Site of the Battle of Mons Grampius."[204] Some of them contained
urns and burnt bones, ornaments of jet and shale, and the like early
relics, while in others were found implements or weapons of iron. It is
selected here as another example of the same class of crania.--No. 8
was found in a cist under a tumulus opened at Newbattle, East-Lothian,
in 1782. This, there can be little doubt, was the large encircled
tumulus in the immediate vicinity of the Abbey, which was found to
cover a cist nearly seven feet long. The cranium is well proportioned
and of unusually large dimensions, and probably pertained to a chief
of gigantic stature.--No. 9 is from a tumulus at Montrose. The whole
of these, more or less, nearly agree with the lengthened oval form
described by Professor Nillson as the second race of the Scandinavian
tumuli. They have mostly a singularly narrow and elongated occiput; and
with their comparatively low and narrow forehead, might not inaptly
be described by the familiar term _boat-shaped_. It is probable that
further investigation will establish this as the type of a primitive,
if not of the primeval native race. Though they approach in form to a
superior type, falling under the first or Dolicho-kephalic class of
Professor Retzius' arrangement, their capacity is generally small, and
their development, for the most part, poor; so that there is nothing in
their cranial characteristics inconsistent with such evidence as seems
to assign to them the rude arts and extremely limited knowledge of the
British Stone Period.

[Illustration: No. 5. Cockenzie Cist.]

[Illustration: No. 7. Nether Urquhart Cairn.]

No. 10 is an exceedingly characteristic example of an entirely
different type of cranium. It was obtained under very remarkable
circumstances, more particularly detailed in a subsequent chapter.
On the demolition, in 1833, of the old Town Steeple of Montrose, a
building of great antiquity, it was found that at some depth beneath
its ancient foundations there lay the sepulchres of a much more remote
period. Mr. William Smith of Montrose, remarks in a communication
sent to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1834, along with
the donation of an urn:--"The accompanying urn or vase is one of
four of the same description found about the beginning of April 1833
below the foundation of the Old Steeple in Montrose, beside the
skeleton of a human body,--two of them being at each side of the head,
and two near the feet.... Exactly below the foundations of the Old
Steeple the skeleton was discovered, with the vases disposed about
it as mentioned. It measured six feet in length. The thigh bones,
which were very stout, and the teeth, were the only parts in good
preservation. The skull was a little wasted, and was given to the Rev.
Mr. Liddell, of Lady Glenorchy's Chapel, who intended to present it
to Mr. Combe of the Phrenological Society."[205] The skull, of which
the measurements are given in No. 10, is the same here referred to,
presented to the Phrenological Museum by the Rev. Mr. Liddell. It is
a very striking example of the British Brachy-kephalic type; square
and compact in form, broad and short, but well balanced, and with a
good frontal development. It no doubt pertained to some primitive
chief, or arch-priest, sage, it may be, in council, and brave in war.
The site of his place of sepulture has obviously been chosen for the
same reasons which led to its selection at a later period for the
erection of the belfry and beacon-tower of the old burgh. It is the
most elevated spot in the neighbourhood, and here his cist had been
laid, and the memorial mound piled over it, which doubtless remained
untouched so long as his memory was cherished in the traditions of
his people.--No. 11 was found in a moss near Kilsyth, Stirlingshire.
It is nearly black, and quite firm and sound, from the action of the
peat. Its general characteristics clearly belong to this second group,
but it has been injured in parts, and apparently subjected to great
pressure, so as to render some of the measurements doubtful.--Nos. 12
and 13 are skulls found at different times, at a considerable depth,
in a moss at Linton, Peeblesshire.--No. 14 is a very characteristic
example of the Brachy-kephalic type of cranium. It was found in a cist
under a tumulus in the parish of Ratho, Mid-Lothian, and alongside of
the skeleton stood a small rude clay urn, within which lay several
bronze rings.--No. 15 is also a good example of the same type. It was
obtained, in 1849, from a cist partly hollowed out of the natural
trap rock on the farm of East Broadlaw, in the parish and county of
Linlithgow. It was covered with two unhewn slabs of stone, and measured
internally about six feet long. The skeleton was in good preservation,
and lay at full length. Only a few inches of soil covered the slabs
with which it was inclosed. No relics were found in the cist, but some
time prior to its discovery a bronze celt and spear-head were turned up
in its immediate vicinity.

[Illustration: No. 10. Old Steeple, Montrose.]

[Illustration: No. 15. Linlithgow Cist.]

Few as these examples are, they will probably be found, on
further investigation, to belong to a race entirely distinct from
those previously described. They correspond very nearly to the
Brachy-kephalic crania of the supposed primeval race of Scandinavia,
described by Professor Nillson as short, with prominent parietal
tubers, and broad and flattened occiput. In frontal development,
however, they are decidedly superior to the previous class of crania,
and such evidence as we possess seems to point to a very different
succession of races to that which Scandinavian ethnologists now
recognise in the primitive history of the north of Europe. Our data
are as yet too few to admit of our doing more than noticing these
indications of the evidence that has been produced, in the hope that it
may stimulate to the further prosecution of this interesting branch of
primitive ethnology.

No. 16 is a cranium chiefly interesting from the circumstances under
which it was found. During the construction of the Edinburgh and
Hawick Railway, in 1846, extensive Roman remains were brought to light
in the vicinity of the village of Newstead, Roxburghshire. These are
described in a subsequent chapter. In the progress of the work the
excavators exposed a group of circular shafts, or well-like pits,
varying from three feet to about twenty feet in depth. They were
filled with black fetid earth, intermixed with bones of animals, Roman
pottery, mortaria, amphoræ, Samian ware, &c., whole and in fragments.
In one of these shafts was found the entire skeleton of a man, standing
upright, with a long iron spear at his side, and various specimens of
Roman pottery in the debris with which the pit was filled.[206] Of
the period, therefore, to which the cranium belongs, there can be no
doubt, though no sufficient evidence exists to determine whether it
pertained to a Roman legionary, or a contemporary native Briton. The
latter is, perhaps, more probable. The skull is of moderate size, but
exceedingly well proportioned, the teeth are in perfect preservation,
with the crowns very little worn, and the markings of all the muscles
are unusually strong and well defined.

[Illustration: No. 16. Roman Shaft, Newstead.]

The succeeding group of crania, Nos. 17-27, afford a fair average
criterion of the Celtic type.--No. 17 is a skull dug up in a cave on
the sea-coast, at the Mull of Kintyre, Argyleshire, near to where
tradition affirms a battle to have been fought between the natives and
an invading host of Northmen.--No. 18 is in like manner a memorial
of Scandinavian aggression, and is marked in the catalogue of the
Phrenological Museum as the skull of a Dane. It was dug out of the
sand on the sea-beach, near Larnahinden, Argyleshire, where a party
of Danes are believed to have landed and been defeated. It exhibits
some remarkable measurements, especially in the small proportion of
the vertical diameter; and a comparison of its various dimensions with
those of the Roman skull, No. 16, brings out very distinctly the points
of disagreement of two essentially different forms of crania. No. 18,
however, is not to be accepted as a good Celtic type. The best medium
form of the Celtic cranium is No. 20, which appears, in so far as the
present amount of observation admits of such conclusions, to be a fair
standard of this important class of crania. It forms one of a very
interesting group of skulls in the Phrenological Museum. No. 19 was
brought from Harray, near Lewis, and Nos. 20-24 from Iona. The whole of
these were presented to the Society, in 1833, by Mr. Donald Gregory,
Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and they are each
marked by him as the "Skull of a Druid from the Hebrides." They were
no doubt obtained during the operations carried on by the members of
the Iona Club, thus described in the introduction to the Collectanea de
Rebus Albanicis:--

    "In order to celebrate the institution of the Club, a meeting
    was held in the island of Iona, upon the 7th day of September
    1833, permission having been obtained from His Grace the Duke
    of Argyle, the President, to make such excavations in the
    island as the Club might deem necessary. A search was made in
    the ancient cemetery called _Relig Oran_, for such tombstones
    as might in the process of time have been concealed by the
    accumulation of rubbish. The result of these operations was,
    that a considerable number of finely carved tombstones was
    brought to view, which none of the inhabitants had ever seen

The sepulchres of the Scottish kings were also explored, which were
used for the last time as a royal cemetery when Macbeth was interred
there beside his Queen Gruoch, the daughter of Bodhe,--as a record in
the St. Andrew's Chartulary informs us was the unromantic name of Lady
Macbeth.[207] Mr. Donald Gregory was secretary of the Iona Club, and
one of the ablest Celtic scholars of his day. The designation which he
affixed to the crania brought from Iona may be accepted as undoubted
evidence of their having been found under circumstances which afforded
proof of their high antiquity; though it is not necessary to assume
from this that they had pertained to Druids. Most probably nothing
more was intended by the epithet which Mr. Gregory applied to them,
than to indicate, in the briefest manner, that he believed them to
have belonged to the native population prior to the introduction of
Christianity in the sixth century, when Columba landed at _Innis nan
Druidheanach_, or the Isle of the Druids, as Iona is still occasionally
styled by the native Highlander. The crania thus brought from the
venerable centre of Celtic civilisation may not unreasonably be looked
upon as furnishing characteristic types of the oldest historical race
of the north of Europe.--No. 25 is also a good Celtic cranium, though
less true to the type than No. 20, from its excess in longitudinal
diameter. It was dug up at Knockstanger, Caithness, at a spot where
a number of the Clan Mackay were interred, after being defeated in a
battle fought with the Sinclairs in 1437. To these have been added
No. 26, a skull in the Phrenological Museum, brought from an ancient
cemetery at Inchmore, or Columb Kill, county of Longford, Ireland; and
No. 27, a cast of a skull in the Phrenological Museum, marked as the
Celtic type, and described as one of a series of skulls "selected from
a number of the same tribe or nation, so as to present, as nearly as
possible, a type of the whole in the Society's collection."[208] It
is characterized in the printed catalogue as a "Long Celtic Skull,"
but would not, I think, be accepted by ethnologists as at all typical
of the true Celtic cranium. It falls decidedly under the class
designated by Professor Retzius as Dolicho-kephalæ, and is introduced
in the table of measurements chiefly as furnishing useful elements of
comparison. Contrasted with No. 20, it will be seen that it is 7.11 to
7.5, exceeding the latter in longitudinal diameter by 6/12, or half
an inch, while in parietal diameter it falls short of it by 3/24.
The difference is equally in favour of the true Celtic cranium, No.
20, in other measurements of breadth, including the frontal diameter
and the inter-mastoid arch. This mode of comparison is still more
remarkable and characteristic when the same skull, No. 27, is placed
alongside of No. 10, a good example of the Brachy-kephalic class,
the excess in the one set of measurements being fully balanced by
a corresponding diminution in the others. The proportions of these
Scottish Celtic crania entirely agree with the assumed type already
referred to, as recognised by the ablest ethnologists. Professors
Nillson and Retzius, and Dr. Thurnam, all concur in describing the type
of the old Celtic cranium as intermediate to the true Dolicho-kephalic
and Brachy-kephalic forms. Dr. Norton Shaw also recognises the same
characteristic proportions, and refers in evidence to a skull in the
museum of Dr. Buckland, which was found in a tin mine in Cornwall at a
depth of 500 feet.[209]

Returning to the table of measurements.--No. 28 is a skull in the
Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries. It was found in what appears to
have been an ancient tumular cemetery, at North-Berwick, East-Lothian,
from whence also a specimen of early medieval pottery, figured in a
later chapter, was procured. Many ancient relics have been obtained at
the same place, including a circular silver fibula, apparently of the
Anglo-Saxon era. A large surrounding area appears to have been used
as a burial ground, probably for many centuries, as the encroachments
of the sea frequently expose human bones, and the skeletons may be
occasionally discerned in the newly exposed strata, after an unusually
high tide.--Nos. 29 and 30 are crania in the Phrenological Museum from
the same locality. Of these No. 29 is a markedly inferior example
of cranial development. While all the measurements are small, the
frontal diameter is inferior to that of No. 12, the smallest of all the
Brachy-kephalic examples, which it exceeds in longitudinal diameter
by half an inch. So extremely poor is the frontal development of this
skull, that its diameter at the zygomatic processes is barely 3.5½.
It is only introduced here in order to afford a series of examples
selected without any reference to theory.

[Illustration: Tower in the Vennel, Edinburgh.]

The remaining skulls with which these are classed may be regarded as
a fair series of examples of medieval Scottish crania.--No. 31 was
found in 1828, in a deep cutting about midway up the south side of
the rock on which Edinburgh Castle stands, during the construction of
a new approach to the old town. Beside it were several large boars'
tusks, and an iron weapon greatly corroded.--No. 32 was obtained in
1829, in digging the foundations of a school built in the Vennel of
Edinburgh, on the site of part of the town wall, erected immediately
after the disastrous battle of Flodden in 1513. The woodcut represents
the ancient tower, which still remains, almost the last remnant of
the civic fortifications reared at that memorable crisis in Scottish
history, and the relic which is here associated with these venerable
defences is not without features appropriate to the stern memorials of
that epoch. The skull has a deep gash, apparently from the blow of a
sword or axe, and pertained, we may presume, to some old civic warder
of the Scottish capital, slain at his post on the city wall.--Nos.
33-38 were all discovered in the course of excavations made to the
south of the old Parliament House at Edinburgh in 1844, for the purpose
of building new court-houses, when several ancient oak coffins and
other early relics were brought to light.[210] They lay alongside of
the earliest city wall, built by James III. in 1450, and within the
Nether Kirkyard of St. Giles', which appears to have fallen into disuse
in the reign of Queen Mary. To these are added No. 39, a skull found
in digging a drain in Constitution Street, Leith, probably within the
ancient limits of St. Mary's Church-yard, which was bounded on that
side by the ancient town wall, razed to the ground immediately after
the siege of Leith in 1560. These crania, it should be added, are
apparently all males, with the exception of No. 4, and perhaps also No.

Such are the elements from which it has been attempted to deduce some
conclusions of general import in regard to the successive primitive
races that have occupied Scotland prior to the era of authentic
historic records. The data are much too few to justify the dogmatic
assertion of any general inferences, or to admit of positive answers
to the questions naturally suggested by the conclusions arrived at
by Nillson and Eschricht in relation to the races of Scandinavia.
They include, however, all the examples that could be obtained,
and are in so far valuable as trustworthy examples of the cranial
characteristics of Scottish races, that they have been selected
from various localities, by different individuals, with no single
purpose in view. It is difficult, however, even after obtaining the
proper crania, to determine the most trustworthy elements of relative
proportion. Dr. Walter Adam, who had the advantage of studying under
both Dr. Barclay and Mr. Abernethy, carried out an extensive series of
measurements of crania, chiefly from examples found in the catacombs
of Paris, and preserved in the University Museum there. These I
now possess, through the kindness of Dr. Adam, and he remarks in
writing to me on the subject:--"So far as appeared, precision could
only be obtained by referring every dimension to the compression of
the zygoma; the measurement being seven-eighths of what I consider
the normal transverse of at least the Caucasian cranium; that is,
of half the length of the head--the long-admitted statuary scale."
Owing to the imperfect state of the zygomata in the great majority
of skulls from the tumuli, this measurement is unfortunately rarely
attainable. Next in importance, however, is one of the additional ones
in the table, marked as the inter-mastoid line, from the upper root
of the zygomatic process. The relative proportions of this and of
the parietal diameter, when compared with the longitudinal diameter,
afford the most characteristic elements of comparison between the
different types. Another interesting element of comparison appears
to consist in the relative proportions of the parietal and vertical
diameters. So far as appears from the table of measurements, the
following laws would seem to be indicated:--In the primitive or
elongated dolicho-kephalic type--for which the distinctive title of
kumbe-kephalic is here suggested--the parietal diameter is remarkably
small, being frequently exceeded by the vertical diameter; in the
second or brachy-kephalic class, the parietal diameter is the greater
of the two; in the Celtic crania they are nearly equal; and in the
medieval or true dolicho-kephalic heads, the parietal diameter is again
found decidedly in excess; while the preponderance or deficiency of
the longitudinal in its relative proportion to the other diameters,
furnishes the most characteristic features referred to in the
classification of the kumbe-kephalic, brachy-kephalic, Celtic, and
dolicho-kephalic types. Not the least interesting indications which
these results afford, both to the ethnologist and the archæologist,
are the evidences of native primitive races in Scotland prior to the
intrusion of the Celtæ; and also the probability of these races having
succeeded each other in a different order from the primitive colonists
of Scandinavia. Of the former fact, viz., the existence of primitive
races prior to the Celtæ, I think no doubt can now be entertained. Of
the order of their succession, and their exact share in the changes
and progressive development of the native arts which the archæologist
detects, we still stand in need of further proof; and the assumed
primeval position of the kumbe-kephalic race of Scotland is advanced
here only interrogatively, and with the view of inducing others to take
up the same interesting inquiry. The subject demands much more extended
observation before any such conclusion can be dogmatically affirmed
concerning the primitive Scottish races. We have also still to obtain
the proofs of that abrupt change from the one form to the other, only
to be procured as the result of numerous independent observations, but
which can alone satisfactorily establish the fact of the intrusion
of new races. The same evidence may also be expected to show whether
the primitive race was entirely superseded by later colonists. If the
Allophylian aborigines were not exterminated, but were admitted to
share in the superior arts of their conquerors, some proof may yet be
recoverable of the gradual progression in physical conformation as they
abandoned the nomadic and wild hunter state for a pastoral life, so
that they were not finally extirpated, but interfused into the mixed
race which now occupies the country, as we know was to some extent the
case, at a later period, with its Celtic population.

Not only in the annual operations of the agriculturist, but also in the
deliberate researches of the archæologist, hundreds of tumular crania
have been disinterred. Of these, however, scarcely any note has been
taken, nor can we hope to obtain sufficient data for the determination
of the interesting questions involved in the investigation till
its importance is more generally recognised. A few facts, however,
have been noted from time to time, some of which, in the absence of
more precise observations, may help to throw light on the physical
characteristics of the primitive British races. With this view,
therefore, the following additional notices are selected.

In 1825 one of the singular northern circular forts usually styled
burghs, situated at Burghar, in the parish of Evie, Orkney, was
explored by the son of the resident clergyman, when there was found
within the area a human skeleton, a rude bone comb of most primitive
fashion, and part of a deer's horn. The comb, which is now preserved
in the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries, is figured in another
chapter; it measures four inches in length, and could not readily be
surpassed in the rudeness of its construction or attempts at ornament.
Along with this curious relic, the skull was forwarded to Edinburgh by
Alexander Peterkin, Esq., but it is described in his communication as
then in fragments, and has not been preserved. Mr. Peterkin remarks
of it,--"Although the upper part of the skull be separated into two
parts, you will observe on joining them together that it is of a
very singular conformation. The extreme lowness of the forehead and
length backward, present a peculiarity which may be interesting to
phrenologists."[211] This, therefore, would appear to have belonged to
the primitive Kumbekephalæ.

Other observations on the physical characteristics of the remains found
in primitive Scottish sepulchres are much less definite. Alexander
Thomson, Esq. of Banchory, remarks in a communication to the Society
of Antiquaries of Scotland, describing two urns found in a cist on
his estate in Aberdeenshire:--"The skeleton was far from entire, but
there were fragments of every part of it found. The teeth are perfectly
fresh, and from the appearance of the jaws, the skeleton must be that
of a full-grown person, though of small size. I was told that the
skeleton lay quite regular when first found."[212] It may be presumed
that in this case, as in other examples of the physical conformation
of the primitive race, the smallness of the head was not a precise
criterion of the dimensions of the skeleton. Another correspondent
describes a cist discovered by the plough on the farm of Farrochie, in
the parish of Feteress, Kincardineshire, within which was found a small
urn and upwards of one hundred beads of polished black shale:--

    "The interior of the tomb measured three feet in length, two
    feet in breadth, and twenty inches in depth. The top, sides,
    and ends were each formed of one stone, and at each corner the
    end of a flat-stone, set on its edge, was introduced angularly
    between the stones of the sides and ends. The slab that formed
    the cover of the tomb measured three feet eight inches in
    length, by three feet two inches in breadth. The body had been
    laid upon its right side, with the face towards the south. The
    limbs had been bent upwards, and it was observed when the tomb
    was opened that one of the leg bones had been broken near the
    middle. The length of the leg bones was eighteen inches, and
    that of the thigh bones twenty inches, with very strong joints.
    The skull appeared to be small in proportion to the other
    parts of the body. In both jaws the teeth were complete and in
    beautiful preservation. The ribs and other small bones crumbled
    into dust soon after they were exposed to the air. The urn was
    lying in the tomb as if it had been folded in the arms of the

    Dr. Prichard remarks in reply to the question,--Was there
    anything peculiar in the conformation of the head in the
    British or Gaulish races? "There are probably in existence
    sufficient means for deciding this inquiry in the skulls found
    in old British cairns or places of sepulture. I have seen
    about half a dozen skulls found in different parts of England,
    in situations which rendered it highly probable that they
    belonged to ancient Britons. All these partook of one striking
    characteristic, viz., a remarkable narrowness of the forehead
    compared with the occiput, giving a very small space to the
    anterior lobes of the brain, and allowing room for a large
    development of the posterior lobes. There are some modern
    English and Welsh heads to be seen of a similar form, but they
    are not numerous."[214]

The crania already noticed from the Scottish tumuli, it is obvious,
include two greatly differing types, one of which, at least, cannot
with strict propriety be described as either remarkably narrow or very
small in the forehead, when compared with the occiput. The description
of Dr. Prichard will, however, be frequently found applicable to those
of the brachy-kephalic type, examples of which, it may be presumed,
have fallen under his notice. The peculiar characteristic of the
primeval Scottish type appears rather to be a narrow prolongation
of the occiput in the region of the cerebellum, suggesting the term
already applied to them of _boat-shaped_, and for which the name of
_Kumbekephalæ_ may perhaps be conveniently employed to distinguish
them from the higher type with which they are otherwise apt to be
confounded. Dr. Thurnam remarks,--"The few crania which I have
myself seen from early British tumuli, correspond very much with Dr.
Prichard's description. They had, for the most part, a shortened oval
form; ample behind, and somewhat narrow and receding in the forehead.
The cranium from the undoubtedly British tumulus at Gristhorpe, near
Scarborough, has this general form; it is, however, unusually large,
and not deficient in frontal development; its form, too, is in some
respects fine, particularly as regards the full _supra-orbital_
region, and the high and fully developed middle head."[215] The Rev.
Abner W. Brown, vicar of Pitchley, Northamptonshire, furnished to
the Archæological Association in 1846 an interesting account of some
British Kistvaens found there under very remarkable circumstances.
The name of the locality is spelt in Doomsday-book _Pihtes-lea_ and
_Picts-lei_, terms sufficiently suggestive of the Celtic Picts or
Ffichti of the north. "The skeleton which we have endeavoured to
preserve," the writer remarks, "is that of a muscular well-proportioned
young man, probably five feet nine inches high. The teeth are fine;
the wisdom teeth scarcely developed. The facial line in some of the
skulls appeared to be very fine. This skull exhibits the peculiar
lengthy form, the prominent and high cheek-bones, and the remarkable
narrowness of forehead which characterize the Celtic races, and
distinguish theirs from the rounder, broader skulls, and more upright
facial line, of the Teutonic tribes."[216] It is obvious, however,
from the above description, that the ancient crania of Pihtes-lea
differ greatly from the true Celtic type, and correspond rather to the
Kumbekephalæ. The whole circumstances attendant on their discovery
indicate their belonging to a very remote era. The venerable church of
Pitchley, an edifice still retaining original work of the beginning
of the twelfth century, having begun to exhibit alarming symptoms
of decrepitude, was carefully repaired and restored, even to the
foundations. In reconstructing one of the principal pillars, the
startling fact was brought to light, that the Norman builders had
laid the foundation of the pillar in ignorance of a rude hollow cist
lying directly underneath, with only about a foot of soil between.
Other portions of the edifice were discovered to have been, in like
manner, unconsciously founded above the graves of an elder race, and
it at length became apparent that the ancient churchyard was entirely
superimposed on a still older cemetery. "Below the foundation, though
above the level of the kistvaens, there were common graves; in one of
them was the skeleton of a beheaded person lying at full length, the
head placed upon the breast, one of the neck-bones having apparently
been divided." Pitchley Church belonged, even before the Conquest, to
the Abbey of Peterborough. It was probably one of the earliest English
sites of a Christian church; yet the British or Saxon graves of the
upper tier, made in ignorance of the older cists below, had become
sufficiently consolidated at the date of the Norman foundation to admit
of the building of a solid and durable fabric above them. The cists lay
nearly east and west, the bodies at full length, lying on their right
sides, with the faces looking to the south, and the arms crossed in a
peculiar way--the right arm across the breast, with its hand touching
the left shoulder, and the left arm straight across, so that its hand
touched the right elbow.[217] Both Norman and Roman coins were found
near the surface; deeper down lay fragments of coarse unglazed British
and also of Roman pottery, and close to, or within one of the cists,
a rude oblong amethyst, about an inch long, perforated lengthwise.
In another were small pieces of charcoal, and a fragment of British
pottery; and in a third an unusually large tusk of a wild boar. Mr.
Brown, conceiving the position of the bodies to prove the introduction
of Christian sepulchral rites, supposes these cists to have belonged
to the Christians of Romanized Britain, before the Saxon invasion.
It seems more probable that they pertain to that far older era which
preceded the singular Pagan rites accompanying the circumscribed cist.
The cranial characteristics appear to confirm this idea, and it is only
on such a supposition that we can conceive of the establishment of the
graveyard upon the site, in entire ignorance of the primeval cemetery
buried beneath the accumulated debris of later generations. Another
skeleton, found near Maidstone, in a circumscribed cist of peculiar
construction, and undoubtedly of Pagan origin, is thus described by the
Rev. Beal Post:--"The state of the skull, from the sutures being much
obliterated, shewed the individual to have been about seventy years of
age; the form of the skull also shewed that he did not belong to the
present race which possess the island, but to the Celtic division of
the European family. It was very narrow in the front part, and low in
the forehead, exhibiting but little development of the intellectual
faculties, while the organs of self-preservation, and other inferior
organs in the hinder parts of the skull, were strongly developed.
The bones seem to be those of a person about five feet seven inches
high, the thigh-bone being seventeen inches long, and the other bones
in proportion. The teeth, apparently, had been every one in a sound
state. None of those found were in a state of decay, even incipiently
so."[218] In both of these interesting examples it is obvious that
the term Celtic is loosely applied in contradistinction to Saxon or
Teutonic, and in accordance with the preconceived idea that the Celtæ
are the primeval colonists of Britain. The forms of these crania
appear clearly to lead to a different conclusion. Such are some of the
observations heretofore made on the physical characteristics of the
primitive Briton. Scanty as they are, they possess considerable value
to us in the attempt to recover the lost chapters of his history.
Imperfect as the development of the intellectual faculties appear to
have been, there is sufficient evidence to justify the conclusion,
that the races of the tumuli, whether regarded as Allophylian or
Celtic, were abundantly capable of civilisation, and possessed a
cerebral capacity fully equal to that of nations which have carried the
practical and decorative arts far in advance of a mere archaic period.

One characteristic feature observed in the skulls of various tumuli
is the state of the teeth. It is rare to find among them any symptoms
of irregularity or decay. Sir R. C. Hoare remarks of those of
Wiltshire,--"The singular beauty of the teeth has often attracted our
attention; we have seldom found one unsound or one missing, except
in the cases of apparent old age. This peculiarity may be easily
accounted for. The Britons led a pastoral life, feeding upon the milk
of their flocks and the venison of their forests; and the sweets of
the West Indies were to them totally unknown." In the tumular cemetery
at North Berwick, the teeth of the skulls, though sound, were worn,
in most cases completely flat, like those of a ruminating animal. Dr.
Thurnam remarks the same to have been the case with the teeth examined
by him in those of the Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Lamel Hill; and it is
also observable in an under jaw found along with other remains of a
human skull, an iron hatchet, and several large boars' tusks, in a
deep excavation on the south bank of the Castlehill of Edinburgh. The
jaw, with the accompanying relics, are in the Museum of the Scottish
Antiquaries. The same peculiarity is referred to, as observed in a
remarkable discovery of human remains in the Kent's Hole Cave, near
Torquay, made by the late Rev. J. MacEnery during his geological
researches in that locality. As the account of this discovery, which is
accompanied with details of great value to the archæologist, has only
been recovered through the zeal of Mr. Edward Vivian, since the death
of the author, and printed in a local periodical,[219] it is extracted
here at considerable length. It was to Mr. MacEnery's researches that
Buckland and others of the earlier modern geologists owed their most
valuable data; and some of the rarest palæontological specimens in the
British Museum originally belonged to his private collection. Kent's
Hole is referred to by Professor Owen, in his History of British
Fossil Mammals, as "perhaps the richest cave depository of bears
hitherto found in England." The roof is clustered with pendant cones of
stalactite, and the floor thickly paved with concretions of stalagmite,
the accumulations of many centuries, which have sealed down the floor
hermetically, and preserved the relics both of the geologist and the
archæologist safe from disturbance, and protected from decay.

    "The floor we found, at our first visit, covered, through its
    whole extent, with a darkish mould, varying in depth from a
    few inches to a foot. It only dates since the cavern became
    a popular place of resort, and the further progress of the
    stalagmite in open situations was interrupted by the trampling
    of visitors. In the vestibule were found, deep imbedded in it,
    those curiously shaped pieces of oak to which the appellation
    of Druids' sandal was given,[220] together with a quantity of
    decomposed animal and vegetable matter, the remains of fires
    and feasts, mingled with rabbit bones....

    "At the hazard of unnecessarily charging the thread of my
    narrative with seemingly frivolous particulars, I proceed to
    note down the characters presented by its general aspect,
    no less than its contents, before it was altered by those
    operations which have since left no part of it in its virgin
    state. It is only on a just appreciation of all their
    circumstances that a true estimate can be founded of those
    facts which should serve as the basis of all reasoning on its
    nature and history.

    "The floor of the entrance, except that it had the appearance
    of being broken up, offered nothing remarkable to detain us;
    we shall have occasion to return to it presently. Not so the
    lateral branch by which it communicates with the body of the
    cavern on the left. Under a ledge on the left was found the
    usual sprinkling of modern bones, and, in the mould beneath,
    which had acquired the consistence of hard clay, were fragments
    of pottery, calcined bones, charcoal, and ashes; in the midst
    of all were dispersed arrow-heads of flint and chert. The ashes
    furnished a large proportion of the mould.

    "In the same heap were discovered round slabs of roofing slate
    of a plate-like form, some crushed, others entire. The pottery
    is of the rudest description, made of coarse gritty earth, not
    turned on a lathe, and sunbaked; on its external margin it
    bears zigzag indentations, not unlike those represented on the
    urns found by Sir Richard Hoare in the barrows of Wiltshire.
    These fragments, there seems no reason for doubting, are the
    remains of cinerary urns which once contained the substances
    scattered around, and to which the slates served for covers.

    "At a short distance, nearer the entrance, were found, in a
    continuation of the same mould, articles of bone of three
    sorts; some of an inch long, and pointed at one end, or
    arrow-heads; others about three inches long, rounded, slender,
    and likewise pointed. Conjecture was long busy as to their
    destination--they were thought by some to be bodkins, by others
    for confining the hair, like those ornaments used by the women
    in Italy; lastly, they were supposed, with more probability,
    to be a species of pin for fastening the skin in front which
    served savages for garments. The third article does not seem so
    easy to explain; it is of a different shape, quite flat, broad
    at one end, pointed at the other, the broad part retains the
    truncated form of a comb, the teeth of which were broken off
    near their root; whether it was used as a comb, or for making
    nets for fishing, is not clear. There was only this solitary
    one found, and two of the former, but several of the first,
    with a quantity of bone chips. All three bore marks of polish.

    "Nearer the mouth are collected a good number of shells of the
    muscle, limpet, and oyster, with a palate of the scarus. This,
    as well as the nacker of oysters which was thickly disseminated
    through the mould, served, as they do at the present day among
    savages, most probably for ornament. The shell-fish may have
    furnished bait for fishing. The presence of these rude articles
    render it probable that they were collected here by the ancient
    aborigines, who divided their time between the chase and
    fishing in the adjacent sea.

    "Close to the opposite wall, in the same passage, buried in
    black mould, I found a stone hatchet, or celt, of sienite, the
    only one found in the cavern. Another of the same material, but
    of a different shape, I found shortly after not far from the
    cavern near Anstis Cove, which labourers engaged in making the
    new cut had just thrown up with the mould.

    "As we advanced towards the second mouth, on the same level,
    were found, though sparingly, pieces of pottery. The most
    remarkable product of this gallery were round pieces of blue
    slate, about an inch and a-half in diameter and a quarter
    thick. They may have served, like the Kimmeridge coal, for
    money. In the same quarter were likewise found several round
    pieces of sandstone grit, about the form and size of a dollar,
    but thicker and rounded at the edge, and in the centre pierced
    with a hole, by means of which they seem to have been strung
    together like beads. Clusters of small pipes or icicles of
    spar, such as depended from the roof at our first visit, we saw
    collected here in heaps, buried in the mud. Similar collections
    we had occasion to observe accompanied by charcoal, throughout
    the entire range of the cavern, sometimes in pits excavated in
    the stalagmite. Copper ore--with these various articles in the
    same stuff was picked up--a lump much oxydized, which the late
    Mr. Phillips analyzed, was found to be pure virgin ore.

    "Having taken a general survey of the surface of the floor,
    we returned to the point from which we set out, viz., the
    common passage, for the purpose of piercing into the materials
    below the mould. Here in sinking a foot into the soil, (for of
    stalagmite there remained only the broken edges adhering to
    the sides of the passage, and which appeared to be repeated
    at intervals,) we came upon flints in all forms, confusedly
    disseminated through the earth, and intermixed with fossil
    and human bones, the whole slightly agglutinated together
    by calcareous matter derived from the roof. My collection
    possesses an example of this aggregation in a mass consisting
    of pebbles, clay, and bone, in the midst of which is imbedded a
    fine blade of flint, all united together by sparry cement.

    "The flints were in all conditions; from the rounded pebble as
    it came out of the chalk, to the instruments fabricated from
    them, as arrow and spear-heads, and hatchets. Some of the flint
    blocks were chipped only on one side, such as had probably
    furnished the axes, others on several faces, presenting planes
    corresponding exactly to the long blades found by their side,
    and from which they had been evidently sliced off; other
    pebbles still more angular and chipped at all points, were no
    doubt those which yielded the small arrow-heads. These abounded
    in by far the greatest number. Small irregular splinters, not
    referrible to any of the above divisions, and which seem to
    have been struck off in the operation of detaching the latter,
    not unlike the small chips in a sculptor's shop, were thickly
    scattered through the stuff, indicating that this spot was the
    workshop where the savage prepared his weapons of the chase,
    taking advantage of its cover and the light.

    "I have discovered in this passage precisely similar
    arrow-heads to those which I detected in an urn from a barrow
    presented to me by the Rev. Mr. Welland.

    "With the exception of the Boar spear [of iron] and a blade of
    the same metal found not far from it, very much rusted, all
    the articles in the mould or in the disturbed soil consisted
    of flint, chert, sienite, and bone--such primitive substances
    as have been in all countries and down to the present, used by
    the savage for the fabrication of his weapons, whether for the
    chase or battle.

    "At a still greater depth, near the common entrance in the
    passage, lay extended lengthwise in the ordinary position of
    burial, the remains of a human skeleton much decayed; two
    portions only of the jaw and some single teeth, with the
    mouldering vertebræ and ribs, were all that remained. As in the
    case of the flint knife mass, already described, there adhered
    to the jaw portions of the soil on which it lay, and of the
    stalagmite which partly covered it.

    "The teeth were so worn down that the flat crowns of the
    incisors might be mistaken for molars,[221] indicating the
    advanced age of the individual. M. Cuvier, to whom I submitted
    the fragment in 1831, was struck with the form of the jaw. He
    pronounced it to belong to the Caucasian race. He promised
    to bestow particular notice on it, but death, unhappily for
    science, put a stop to his labours. All the specimens, together
    with a collection of fossil bones, the third I had presented
    to the museum of the Jardin des Plantes, I transmitted to him
    before I quitted the continent, and they may be found among his
    effects. The skeleton lay about a foot and a half below the
    surface; from the tumbled state of the earth, the admixture of
    flags of stalagmite, added to the presence of flint articles
    and pieces of slate, it was manifest that the floor had been
    dug up for the reception of the body, and that it was again
    covered over with the materials thrown up from the excavation.
    The earthy covering consisted of the red soil, containing
    fossil bones mixed up with recent mould, the mound of earth
    outside the mouth, at the right hand, was thrown up from the
    passage to render it more accessible. It was precisely that
    which covered the human skeleton, and contained the admixture
    of human and fossil relics.

    "Previous to the disturbance of the floor for the admission
    of the body, it would appear, from the presence of flags of
    stalagmite in the rubble, that it was covered with a continuous
    crust, the edges indeed of which still adhere to the sides.
    It further appears from the repetition of similar crusts, as
    indicated by the broken edges at the sides, that there were
    periods of repose which allowed new floors to form, marking
    clearly their repeated destruction and renovation at intervals
    of time.

    "With the exception of single teeth and an occasional rib or
    vertebra in charcoal, which may have possibly belonged to the
    same subject, there were no other traces of human remains."[222]

The peculiarity in the teeth of certain classes of ancient crania
above referred to is of very general application, and has been observed
as common even among British sailors. The cause is obvious, resulting
from the similarity of food in both cases. The old Briton of the
Anglo-Roman period, and the Saxon both of England and the Scottish
Lothians, had lived to a great extent on barley bread, oaten cakes,
parched peas, or the like fare, producing the same results on his teeth
as the hard sea-biscuit does on those of the British sailor. Such,
however, is not generally the case, and in no instance, indeed, to the
same extent in the skulls found in the earlier British tumuli. In the
Scottish examples described above the teeth are mostly very perfect,
and their crowns not at all worn down. In that marked No. 5, one of
those found at Cockenzie, the under jaw has been preserved, and in it
the wisdom teeth are only partially developed, indicating the age of
the individual. The perfectly formed teeth are not much more worn than
those which had never pierced the gums.

The inferences to be drawn from such a comparison are of considerable
value in the indications they afford of the domestic habits and
social life of a race, the last survivor of which has mouldered
underneath his green tumulus, perchance for centuries before the
era of our earliest authentic chronicles. As a means of comparison
this characteristic appearance of the teeth manifestly furnishes one
means of discriminating between an early and a still earlier, if
not primeval period, and though not in itself conclusive, it may be
found of considerable value when taken in connexion with the other
and still more obvious peculiarities of the crania of the earliest
barrows. We perceive from it, at least, that a very decided change
took place in the common food of the country, from the period when the
native Briton of the primeval period pursued the chase with the flint
lance and arrow, and the spear of deer's horn, to that comparatively
recent period when the Saxon marauders began to effect settlements
and build houses on the scenes where they had ravaged the villages of
the older British natives. The first class, we may infer, attempted
little cultivation of the soil. Improving on the precarious chances
of a mere nomadic or hunter life, we have been led to suppose, from
other evidence, that the early Briton introduced the rudiments of a
pastoral life, while yet his dwelling was only the slight circular
earth-pit, in-covered with overhanging boughs and skins. To the
spoils of the chase he would then add the milk of his flock of goats
or sheep, probably with no other addition than such wild esculents,
mast, or fruits, as might be gathered without labour in the glades of
the neighbouring forest. But the social state in the British Isles
was a progressive one. Whether by the gradual improvement of the
aboriginal race, or by the incursion of foreign tribes already familiar
with the fruits of agricultural labour, the wild pastoral or hunter
life of the first settlers was exchanged for one more suited to call
forth the social virtues. The increase of the population, whether by
the ingress of such new tribes, or by the numerical progression of
the first settlers, would of itself put an end to the possibility of
finding subsistence by means of the chase. Thus it might be from the
inventive industry which privations force into activity that new wants
were first discovered, new tastes were created, and satisfied by the
annual harvests of golden grain. The ploughshare and the pruning-hook
divided attention with the sword and the spear, which they could not
supplant; and the ingenious agriculturist devised his oaken querne, his
stone-rubber, or corn-crusher, and at length his simple yet effective
hand-mill, which resisted, during many centuries of change and
progress, all attempts to supersede it by more complicated machinery.
Dr. Pettigrew, in communicating the results of a series of observations
on the bones found in various English barrows, remarks,--"The state of
the teeth in all of them indicated that the people had lived chiefly
on grain and roots."[223] The dry, hard oaten cake of the Scottish
peasant, which may have been in use almost from the first attempt at
cultivation of the favourite national grain, would probably prove
as effective as any of the presumed vegetable foods for producing
such results. We need not, at any rate, evidence to satisfy us that
the luxuries which have rendered the services of the dentist so
indispensable to the modern Briton were altogether excluded from the
regimen of his rude forefathers.

Sir Richard Colt Hoare commences the great work which has secured for
him so distinguished a place among British archæologists, with the
motto--"We speak from facts, not theory." While seeking to render
the _facts_ of Scottish Archæology fully available, it is my earnest
desire to follow in the footsteps of a leader so proved. The inferences
attempted to be deduced from such facts as have been accumulated here,
with a view to discover some elementary principles for the guidance of
Scottish archæologists, are such as appear naturally and logically to
follow from them. Still they are stated apart from the premises, and
those who have followed thus far ungrudgingly in exploring the primeval
sepulchres of Scotland, will find no difficulty in pausing ere they
commit themselves to the same guidance in seeking also some glimpses
of the native hearth and pastoral inclosures, and of the evidences of
that inventive skill which succeeded to such simple arts. We would
fain reanimate the ashes in these long buried urns, and interrogate
the rude British patriarch regarding a state of being which for
centuries--perhaps for many ages--pertained on these very spots where
now our churches, palaces, and our homeliest dwellings are reared, but
which seems almost as inconceivable to us as that other state of being,
to which we know the old Briton, with all the seed of Adam, has passed.

It may appear to some a service of little value, the unrolling of
these "mute inglorious" records. Yet somewhat is surely gained when we
reach the beginnings of things, and substitute for the old historic
mist-land of myth and fable, a coherent and intelligible, though dry
and somewhat meagre array of facts and legitimate deductions. It is no
longer needful, however, to defend the object of our research. It is to
some extent the same which the ethnologist is pursuing by a different
route; though the palæontological investigations of the archæologist
have yet to establish their true value in the estimation of men of
science by the nature of their results. For this we wait in hope. I
would only meanwhile repeat, that we cannot be justified in concluding
any knowledge which once existed to be utterly lost beyond recall; and
if the geologist has been able to recover so much from annals that
seemed to have been folded up and laid aside ere this race was summoned
into being to people a renovated world, surely we ought not to despair
of being yet able to fill up our meagre outline with many details which
shall satisfy the severest demands of inductive philosophy, and rest
their claims to acceptance not on theory but on fact.


[195] Prichard's Natural Hist. of Man, 3d edit. p. 108.

[196] Ibid. p. 21.

[197] Natural History of Man, p. 186.

[198] On the Primitive Inhabitants of Scandinavia, by Professor Nillson
of Lund.

[199] Natural History of Man, pp. 192, 193.

[200] Morton's Crania Americana, p. 16.

[201] Natural History of Man, p. 193.

[202] Archæol. Journal, vol. vi. pp. 27-39, 123-136.

[203] In taking these measurements I have been efficiently assisted
by Mr. John Zaglas, anatomical assistant to Professor Goodsir of
Edinburgh University, and by Dr. John Alexander Smith. Nearly all of
the measurements have been repeated several times, and may therefore be
received as accurate.

[204] Archæol. Scot. vol. iv. pp. 43, 44.

[205] MSS. Library S.A. Scot. Nov. 28, 1834.

[206] Two mortaria, obtained from this shaft, along with the iron
spear-head, are now in the possession of John Miller, Esq. of
Millfield, C.E. The spear-head will be found figured in a later
chapter. The skull is now in the possession of John Alexander Smith,
M.D., but it is his intention to deposit it in the Museum of the
Scottish Antiquaries.

[207] Regist. Prior. S. Andree, p. 114. Lulach the Foolish is mentioned
by Scottish chroniclers as reigning after Macbeth for four months, when
he also was slain, and interred at Iona.--Annals of the Scots, A.D.

[208] Phrenological Journal, vol. vi. p. 144.

[209] Report of British Association for Advancement of Science.
Seventeenth Session, 1848. P. 32.

[210] Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time, vol. ii. p. 110.

[211] Archæol. Scotica, vol. iii. p. 44.

[212] MSS. Letter, Libr. Soc. Antiq. Scot., December 8, 1817.

[213] MSS. Letter, Mr. William Duncan, 13th December 1838.

[214] History of Mankind, vol. ii. p. 92.

[215] Description of tumular cemetery at Lamel Hill, Archæological
Journal, vol. vi. p. 129.

[216] Archæological Journal, vol. iii. p. 113.

[217] Minute details, such as are given in the text, of the disposition
of the arms and hands, are always open to some doubt. Unless where the
cist is filled with earth, the bones must necessarily fall from their
original position on the decay of the enveloping tissues; and when so
filled, the earth has generally percolated into it long subsequent to
the interment. Those who have frequently opened barrows must be well
aware how difficult it is to ascertain with any certainty much more
than the general relative position of the bones and skull.

[218] Jour. of Archæol. Association, vol. iv. p. 65.

[219] Torquay and Tor Directory, Aug. 14, 1850.

[220] "Discovered in the black mould certain rudely shaped pieces of
oak, one of which was immediately shewn me by the finder. It was about
the length and form of the human foot, and hollowed in the centre, not
unlike a sandal." The name, it should be added, was only meant as a
convenient distinctive appellation.

[221] In the original notes from which the memoir appears to have been
compiled, the condition of this skeleton is thus described:--"Its
teeth, most of which I collected, are with one exception sound and
un-discoloured, that they belonged to a robust adult, they and the
fragments of the skull and vertebræ abundantly testify. The front or
incisor teeth are what are called _double teeth_."

[222] Cavern Researches, or Discoveries of Organic Remains, and of
British and Roman Reliques in the Caves of Kent's Hole, Anstis Cove,
&c. By the Rev. J. MacEnery, F.G.S.

[223] Archæological Journal, vol. i. p. 272.



    "In those old days, one summer noon, an arm
    Rose up from out the bosom of the lake,
    Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
    Holding the sword Excalibur."

                                                MORTE D'ARTHUR.


The evidence adduced in the previous section furnishes the basis of the
argument from whence we arrive at the conclusion, that Scotland and
the whole British Isles were occupied by a human population many ages
prior to the earliest authentic historical notices. Of the character
and habits of the barbarian Briton of the primeval period we have also
been able to arrive at some knowledge. His dwellings, the remains of
which have lain unheeded around the haunts of so many generations,
shew his domestic accommodation to have been of the simplest and most
humble description. His imperfect tools and weapons furnish no less
satisfactory evidence of his scanty knowledge, his privations, and his
skill. Searching amid the records of that debateable land to which the
geologist and the antiquary lay equal claim, we learn that vast areas
of our country were covered at that remote era with the primitive
forest; that oaks of giant height abounded where now the barren heath
and peat-bog cumber the land; and that even, at a comparatively recent
period, the fierce Caledonian bull, the wolf, and the wild boar
asserted their right to the old forest-glades. The primitive Caledonian
was, in fact, an untutored savage. The race was thinly scattered along
the skirts of the continuous range of forest, occupying the coasts
and river valleys, and retreating only to the heights or the dark
recesses of the forest when the fortunes of war compelled them to give
way before some more numerous or warlike neighbouring tribe. The vast
forests which then occupied so large a portion of the soil, while
they confined the primitive inhabitants to the open country along the
coasts and estuaries, supplied them with more valuable fruits than
the unoccupied grounds could have afforded to their scanty numbers
and untutored skill. Besides the fiercer natives of the forest, we
are familiar with the remains of the elk and the rein-deer, as well
as of smaller beasts and birds of chase. In the Anglo-Saxon Ode on
Athelstan's Victory, in which--

  Scotta leode,                The Scottish lads
  And scip flotan              And the men of the fleets
  Fæge feollon.                In fight fell,

we have the following curious enumeration from the old MSS. in the
British Museum, dated A.D. 937, in Gibson's Chronicle, and supposed to
be written by a contemporary bard:[224]--

    The war screamers
    Left they behind;
    The hoarse bittern,
    The sallow paddock,
    The swarth raven
    With horned bill,
    And the wood-housing heron
    Eating white fish of the brooks,
    The greedy gos-hawk,
    The grey deer,
    And wolf wild.

We are not without abundant evidence that the primitive Caledonian
waged successful war with the wild natives of the forest. By arrow,
sling, and lance, and also, no doubt, with help of gins and traps,
the largest and fiercest of them fell a prey to the wild hunter. The
horns especially of the deer supplied him with weapons, implements,
ornaments, and sepulchral memorials. His wants were few, his tastes
simple and barbarous, his religion probably as unspiritual as the
most base of savage creeds. In the long wanderings of his nomade
fathers across the continents of Asia and Europe, they had greatly
deteriorated from the primal dignity of the race, they had forgotten
all the heaven-taught knowledge of Eden, and had utterly lost the
antediluvian metallurgic arts. It may perhaps be asked if the annals
of so mean a race are worthy of the labour required in dragging them
to light from their long-forgotten repositories? The answer is, they
are our ancestry, even though we may question our lineal descent;
our precursors, if not our progenitors. From them we derive our
inheritance and birthright; nor, amid all the later mingling of races,
can we assume that no drop of their blood mingles in our veins.

There can be no question that this aboriginal race continued to
occupy their island home, with slow and very slight progression, for
many centuries. The disclosures of the latest alluvial deposits have
furnished evidence of the appearance which the face of the country
presented within the historic era, and leave no room to doubt that
vast forests covered so large a portion of the soil as to afford no
great area for the occupation of its aboriginal colonists. Taking
into account with this the abundance of those rude weapons and
implements from whence we give that era the name of the Stone Period,
and the general uniformity of the circumstances under which they are
discovered, we are furnished with satisfactory evidence of a thinly
peopled country, occupied by the same tribes with nearly unchanging
habits for many ages.

The elements, however, of a great revolution were at length introduced
among this simple race, and, as usual in the history of progressive
civilisation, they appear to have come from without. The change by
which we detect the close of the long era of barbarism, and the
introduction of a new and more advanced period, is the discovery of
the art of smelting ores, and the consequent substitution of metallic
weapons and implements for those of stone. The former presents us with
the helplessness of childhood without its promise; the latter is the
healthful infancy of a vigorous and magnificent manhood.

The insular position of Britain has already furnished an indisputable
and well-defined base on which to rear the argument of primitive
colonization. The valuable mineral wealth of some portions of its
soil happily supply no less satisfactory data for those of its early
civilisation. Little doubt can now be entertained that Herodotus,
in his allusions to the Cassiterides, or Tin Islands, refers to the
celebrated districts of Cornwall and the neighbouring isles, which
still abound with the same mineral wealth that conferred on them such
ancient and wide-spread fame. The era of the father of history dates
from B.C. 484--the year assigned as that of his birth--probably to
nearly the close of the century. At this early period, then, while
the Republic of Rome was only assuming form, and Athens was just
rising into importance, the commerce of the British Isles attracted
the navies of Tyre and Carthage; nor does it seem improbable that the
Phœnicians traded with the miners of Cornwall and the Scilly Islands
at a much earlier period, if indeed we must not look to these ancient
Cassiterides as one of the chief sources from whence even the Egyptians
and Assyrians derived the tin with which they alloyed and hardened
their earliest tools. More definite, and, as it is believed, authentic
information regarding the British Isles is derived from the "Ora
Maritima" of Festus Avienus, circa B.C. 400, from which we learn that
Britain was visited at that early period by Carthaginian voyagers,
and that the _Albiones_ occupied the larger island, while the smaller
island was possessed by the _Gens Hibernorum_. In so far as this early
writer may be relied upon, his observations appear to sanction the
conclusion that a pure Celtic population then possessed the whole
British Isles, and that it is in the interval between this epoch and
the invasion of Julius Cæsar that we must look for the intrusion of the
newer continental races, indiscriminately termed by Cæsar, _Britanni_.
In complete confirmation of this, and of the consequent retreat of the
aboriginal Albiones towards the remoter districts, we find the name of
Albion afterwards exclusively applied to the northern part of Britain,
and all the earliest traditions and writings of both the Welsh and
Scottish Celtæ assigning to them the name of Albanich. A Celtic race,
however, continued to occupy the primeval districts of Cornwall, and
preserved almost to our own day a distinct dialect of the Celtic tongue.

The familiarity of the ancient Britons with tin, though this metal
does not occur in a native state, may be readily accounted for from
the ore being frequently found near the surface, and requiring only
the use of charcoal and a very moderate degree of heat to reduce it to
the state of metal. We have no specific mention of any other source
from whence the ancients derived the tin which they compounded with
the copper found so abundantly in several parts of Asia; with the
single and somewhat vague exception made by Strabo, where he calls
a certain place in the country of the Drangi, in Asia, by the name
of Cassiteron. That tin was known, however, from very early times
is proved, not only by the discovery of numerous early Egyptian and
Assyrian bronze relics, but also by its being noted by Moses among
the spoils of the Midianites which were to be purified by fire;[225]
and by Ezekiel among the metals of which Tarshish was the merchant of
Tyre.[226] The allusions of Herodotus leave no room to doubt that his
information was derived indirectly from others. The Phœnicians long
concealed the situation of the Cassiterides from all other nations; and
even Pliny treats as a fable the report of certain islands existing
in the Atlantic from whence white-lead or tin was brought. It need
not therefore surprise us to learn so little of these islands from
ancient writers, even though we adopt the opinion that they continued
for many centuries to be the chief source of one of the most useful
metals. Antimony is found in the Kurdish mountains, and pure copper ore
abounds there, as well as in those of the desert of Mount Sinai, but no
tin is known throughout any part of Assyria. It is indeed a metal of
rare occurrence, though found in apparently inexhaustible quantities
in a very few localities. The only districts, according to Berzelius,
where it is obtained in Asia, are the island of Banca, only discovered
in 1710, and the peninsula of Malacca, where Wilkinson conceives it
possible that tin may have been wrought by the Egyptians. The mines of
Malacca are very productive, and may have been the source from whence
Tyre derived "the multitude of riches," but we have no evidence in
support of such conjectures. Cornwall still yields a larger quantity
of the ore than any other locality of the Old or New World where it
has yet been discovered, and many thousands of tons have been exported
by modern traders to India and China, and to America. Taking all these
circumstances into consideration, it seems in no degree improbable,
that long before Solomon sent to Tyre for "a worker filled with
wisdom, and understanding, and cunning, to work all works in brass,"
or employed the fleets of Hiram, King of Tyre, to bring him precious
metals and costly stores for the Temple at Jerusalem, the Phœnician
ships had passed beyond the pillars of Hercules, and were familiar with
the inexhaustible stores of these remote islands of the sea which first
dawn on history as the source of this most ancient alloy. Strabo's
description of the natives of the Cassiterides is not to be greatly
relied upon. According to him they were a nomade pastoral race, of
peaceful and industrious habits; but he refers especially to their
mines of tin and lead, the produce of which they exchanged with the
foreign traders, along with furs and skins, for earthenware, salt, and
copper vessels and implements.

It is scarcely possible to conceive of such an intercourse carried
on for centuries, by nations far advanced in the arts, and familiar
with the civilisation and learning of the oldest races of Asia and
Africa, without the natives of the Cassiterides acquiring from them
some knowledge of the fruits of ancient civilisation. From them,
indeed, it has been supposed that the British miner first learned even
to smelt the ores, though we are almost forced to the conclusion that
the working of the mines must have originated with natives or new
colonists, familiarized in some degree with the nature of the metals,
and with metallurgic arts. It seems surprising, however, that relics
formed of the most abundant native metal, tin, should not be found
in the tumuli. The facility with which it could be wrought rendered
it readily convertible into personal ornaments, equally beautiful as
those so abundant in copper and bronze. Borlase describes a patera of
tin found at Bossens, in the parish of St. Erth, Cornwall, in 1756,
rudely inscribed in mixed characters,--λIVIVS . MOδESTVS δηIVλI . F .
ΔEO . MARTI.[227] Along with this were two other vessels of the same
metal, an uninscribed patera, and a vase or præfericulum. In 1793 a
tin cup of singular form was found, along with a circular ornament
of bronze, evidently of native British workmanship, in searching for
the ore in a stream work called Hallivich, in the same county,[228]
so that we are not without some evidence that this metal was employed
at an early period in the manufacture of sacred and domestic vessels.
Probably, indeed, we should infer, from the great rarity of such
relics, that it was only so used before its native workers had
learned to mix it with copper and produce the more useful alloy which
superseded the pure metals; as bronze and copper appear to have been
at first imported, and received in exchange for the pure tin. Barter,
however, could not possibly be continued for centuries, exchanging
the ore of a metal so readily fusible as tin for wrought materials of
copper, whether pure or alloyed--a metal found in the same locality,
in a state requiring little smelting to bring it into use-without the
British miner and trader learning to turn their own native mineral
wealth to account. The facilities of a metallic currency were also
little likely to remain unappreciated by the British trader, familiar
as these already were to the seamen of the Mediterranean, or the
Phœnician colonists of Cadiz, the ancient Gadeira. Independently of
the ring-money which was probably derived from these sources, evidence
in confirmation of this idea is not wanting. So recently as the year
1833 a bi-frontal bust of the Egyptian Isis was dug up in South
Street, Exeter.[229] According to Mr. W. T. P. Shortt's reading of the
hieroglyphics upon it, it is inscribed with the prefix _Isis, Lady,
Mistress of the World_. Beneath this has been a cartouche, the greater
portion of which is unfortunately cut away. Mr. Shortt conceives it
to have been the cartouche of Cleopatra Tryphæna, of the race of the
thirteenth Ptolemy, B.C. 51; but as there is only the fragment of one
of the phonetics, this reading is necessarily conjectural. In 1835
some Carthaginian medals were found at Abbeville, in Picardie; and at
Noyelles sur Mer, another figure of Isis was discovered in bronze,
along with a statuette of the Hawk-headed deity, or elder Horus.[230]
Egyptian relics of the era of the later Ptolemies are not unknown as
accompaniments of Roman sepulchral deposits, both in Britain and on
the Continent; but they must be assumed to belong to an older era when
found along with Greek and Carthaginian coins.

But more conclusive evidence exists in proof of early intercourse
with the Mediterranean, if not, indeed, of the opinion advocated by a
zealous local antiquary, that Exeter had been the seat of a Phœnician
colony many centuries prior to the arrival of the Romans.[231] It was
long maintained by the great majority of English numismatists, that
the Britons had no native coinage prior to the Roman invasion and the
mintage of Cunobeline,--the work, as is presumed, of a Roman artist.
The evidence against the existence of an early native coinage was, at
best, purely negative, and is now giving way before the investigations
of our ablest numismatists. The coins peculiar to the Channel Islands
are generally acknowledged to be of an earlier character, and it is
maintained not only that a native mintage existed prior to the Roman
invasion, but that the convex and concave form, which characterizes
the earliest British types, affords evidence that they were formed
in imitation of Greek coins.[232] The Rev. Beale Post has most
ingeniously traced the Gaulish coinage to its primitive Greek type.
The conclusions he arrives at are, that about B.C. 600, the Phœnicians
colonized Marseilles, subsequent to which coins of that city make their
appearance, their type being that of human heads, birds, beasts, &c.
About B.C. 335 the Gauls adopted as their model the gold coinage struck
by Philip II. of Macedon, and from that early Greek type, with its
reverse of Diana driving her biga, we may trace the original of all the
singular and rude representations of the horse on the primitive Gaulish
and British native coinage, which have been supposed to involve so many
mythological fancies. There is something greatly more characteristic
of the imperfect ideas of a native currency likely to be formed by a
primitive and partially civilized people, in this arbitrary imitation
of a foreign type, than in any abstruse embodiment of the national
creed. No precise date has yet been attempted to be assigned for the
first native British coinage, but the numerous examples of Gaulish
types discovered in Britain leave no room to doubt that the native
Britons were familiar with such a circulating medium long prior to the
Roman invasion. Nor is this the most primitive form of native currency.
Several hoards have been discovered at different times in Scotland, of
small gold pellets, marked with a cross or star in relief, and which,
there can be little doubt, is the earliest Scottish minted money.[233]
Examples of this primitive coinage are more particularly described in a
subsequent chapter, among the contents of the later tumuli.

But entirely apart either from this or the coinage derived from the
Gauls, very remarkable discoveries of ancient foreign coins, such as
those referred to above, suffice to suggest the probability that the
primitive Briton had other sources from whence to acquire a knowledge
of the convenience and fashion of a coined circulating medium. In
the same locality where the bust of the Egyptian Isis was dug up at
Exeter, numerous Greek coins have been found of late years, chiefly
belonging to the autonomous Greek colonial cities in Syria and Asia
Minor. Many have been discovered pertaining to Alexandria in Egypt,
including coins of the Ptolemies of a very early date, frequently met
with at great depths, and apparently in older strata than that of the
Anglo-Roman period.[234] In making a large drain in the Fore Street of
Exeter, in 1810, at a depth of twenty feet below the present pavement,
an immense quantity of ancient money was found, including many early
coins of the autonomous Greek cities, and along with them two British
coins, one bearing the wheel and the other the horse.[235] Coins of
Agrigentum, in Sicily, of Hiero I. of Syracuse, B.C. 460; of Ptolemy
I. B.C. 323, and many others described and engraved in Mr. Shortt's
interesting works, have been found at various times in Exeter and its

But though these singularly interesting tokens of intercourse with the
Phœnician and Greek maritime colonies long prior to the era of the
Roman occupation of Britain abound, as might be anticipated, only in
the localities where mineral wealth tempted the sojourn of the ancient
trader, yet some few remarkable traces of the same communication with
the elder empires of the world have been found within our more northern
limits. Occasionally Greek coins have been discovered in Scotland; as,
for example, a gold didrachm of Philip of Macedon, three Greek silver
coins, including one of his son, and a brass of the Brutii in Magna
Græcia, found on the estate of Cairnbulg, Aberdeenshire, in 1824;
and a very fine gold coin of Alexander the Great, at Ecclefechan,
Dumfriesshire.[236] In the year 1845 a still more remarkable hoard was
discovered on the farm of Braco, in the parish of Shotts, Lanarkshire,
only a very small portion of which was rescued from the usual fate
of such recovered treasures. I have examined a few of these, in the
hands of John Henderson, Esq., Queen's Remembrancer for Scotland. They
include of Greek coins: one of Athens, obverse Archaic head of Pallas;
reverse: _Α Θ_, owl in deep indented square, an olive branch behind.
One of Phocis, obverse: laureated head of Apollo; reverse: full-faced
head of bull. One of Bœotia, obverse: Bœotian shield; reverse: vase.
Also one Parthian coin. (Eckhel, vol. i. p. 254. Arsaces XV.) A
correspondent from whom I first received information of this important
discovery, saw several more of the Athenian type; some with the Greek
scarabæus or tortoise, and others, which from the description appear
to have been Parthian coins. But on inquiry being made after them,
nearly the whole disappeared, and it is to be feared were immediately
consigned to the melting pot. This remarkable hoard, unequalled in
historic value, as far as I know, by any discovery of coins yet made in
Scotland, may perchance after all have only been the treasure of some
Roman auxiliary, as Braco is on the line of the iter which came from
the south, towards the station of Castlecarry, on the wall of Antoninus
Pius. Only the year after, a most valuable hoard of undoubted Roman
treasure was found on the same farm. According to the account of their
discoverer--a farm servant--"nearly a barrowful" were recovered, but
they were squandered and lost before information of the discovery could
reach those who were competent to appreciate their value as anything
but old metal. An intelligent correspondent, to whom I am indebted for
some particulars of this last discovery at Braco, succeeded in securing
a few of the coins, comprehending Vespasian, Titus, both the Antonines,
Lucius Verus, both the Faustinas, Trajan, Hadrian, and Commodus. These,
however, lay entirely apart from the former hoard, and apparently
much nearer the surface, so that we need not necessarily assume the
deposition of the former coins, belonging to a period so long prior
to the era of Roman invasion, as depending on the Roman iter, which
like more recent thoroughfares, may have followed in the line of older
pathways through the Caledonian forests.

Along with these examples, suggestive of direct or indirect intercourse
between the early Britons and Greek or Phœnician traders, should also
perhaps be mentioned two Greek altars in the British Museum, found at
Corbridge in Northumberland; the one dedicated to the Syrian Astarte,
sculptured the most common sacrificial vessels, the præfericulum and
patera, and the top is crowned with the usual thuribulum of the Roman
altar. The other, which was discovered in the churchyard of Corbridge,
is dedicated to the Tyrian Hercules. It bears on the one side a bull's
head, with the secespita beside it, and on the other a laurel crown. In
front is the inscription,--ΗΡΑΚΛΕΙ ΤΥΡΙΩ ΔΙΟΔΩΡΑ ΑΡΧΙΕΡΕ, Α.

The curious reader will find by reference to the Archæologia,[237]
how the learned reconcile with previous theories the discovery in
this northern region of altars thus dedicated to Phœnician deities, to
whom according to Josephus, Hiram king of Tyre, the contemporary of
Solomon, erected separate temples. Camden records, on the authority of
Solinus, called Polyhistor, that a votive altar was erected in North
Britain, in honour of Ulysses, and inscribed in Greek characters.[238]
Whatever credit be attached to this, we have no reason to doubt that
Greek voyagers traded to the British Isles long before the Roman war
galleys touched its shores; though the site of the former altars,
near the Roman wall, and their correspondence in form and decorations
to the Roman altars so frequently found in Britain, seem to justify
the conclusion that they are the work of Greek auxiliaries of the
Anglo-Roman era, and indicate a late rather than an early date within
that period.

The interest which attaches to the determination of the extent and
probable date of the first intercourse of the Britons with traders
from the far east, has led to the anticipation of some points not
strictly belonging to the present section of our inquiry. This question
of the existence of a native coinage, or of the substitution of a
foreign metallic currency for the rude process of barter, at a period
prior to the introduction of Roman customs by the legionaries of the
first and second centuries, well merits the careful study it is now
receiving, since no other evidence could furnish equally satisfactory
proof of early progress in social civilisation. It cannot admit of
doubt, however, that long before even the Greek or Phœnician trader
had taught the Cornish miner this ingenious substitute for a direct
exchange of commodities, he had learned to fuse and work the rich veins
of ore with which his native soil abounded, and to fashion them into
a variety of personal ornaments as well as of weapons and implements.
The Phœnician sought his tin in order to mix it with the copper which
he already possessed, and thereby to produce bronze weapons combining
the ductility of copper with that indispensable hardness which could
alone fit them to supersede the older implements of stone. How early
this interchange first took place, it appears now altogether vain to
inquire. The evidence already adduced, however, is at least sufficient
to justify us in assigning to it a very remote period, while the more
abundant and far more useful metal, iron, was little known even to
the oldest nations along the Mediterranean coasts. Worsaae remarks,
"There are geological reasons for believing that the Bronze Period must
have prevailed in Denmark five or six hundred years before the birth
of Christ."[239] Denmark, however, had all its metal to import, while
the earliest historic allusion to England represents her exporting her
abundant metallic ores, and bartering them with the southern merchant
for the productions of his superior skill. The metallic riches of
England have not escaped the attention of the intelligent Danish
archæologist:--"It is highly probable," he remarks, "that the ancient
bronze, formed of copper and tin, was diffused from one spot over the
whole of Europe; which spot may be supposed to be England, because,
not to mention the quantity of copper which that country produces,
its rich tin mines have been known from the earliest historic periods
to the nations of the south, while in the other parts of Europe there
occur only very few and doubtful remains of far less important tin
mines which we are justified in believing to have been worked at that

When we consider that copper is not only found in a state requiring
little smelting to render it fit for manufacture, but that it is even
discovered at times so pure that we may conceive of its occasional
substitution for stone implements, before the art of smelting had
become known, we can feel no hesitation in assuming, _a priori_,
that it was the precursor of iron as a material for the construction
of weapons and tools. Iron, on the contrary, bears, in its natural
state, little resemblance to a metal, and is smelted by so difficult
and tedious a process that, even after its superiority had become
known, the older metal would probably be preferred by the natives of a
thinly peopled country, where the benefits of mutual cooperation and
the division of labour still remained among the unsolved problems of
their political economy. The tools and weapons of the ancient Mexicans
we know were of copper, and we are not without evidence that even the
Egyptians were far advanced in their early developed civilisation
before iron had superseded the older copper tools. The architectural
monuments of Mexico and Yucatan show how much might be accomplished
with such imperfect implements. Both in the magnificent work of the
French savans, and in the more accurate delineations of M. Rosellini,
various Egyptian paintings are shewn, in which the implements of the
sculptors are evidently of bronze or copper, and workmen are seen
cutting blocks of granite and hewing out colossal statues with yellow
tools. Numerous bronze weapons, implements, and personal ornaments
found in the catacombs, attest the use of this metal by the Egyptians
at a comparatively late period. Implements of copper are also among the
relics found in some of the ancient and long abandoned mines discovered
in Asia. The celebrated tables in the copper mines of Wady Maghara,
near Sinai, record the conquest of that part of Asia by Suphis, the
builder of the great pyramid, and prove that these mines had been
wrought prior to the early date of his reign. Dr. Layard also refers
to copper mines still existing in the mountains within the confines of
Assyria, worked at a very remote period, probably by the Assyrians,
and used not only to supply the material for ornaments, but also for
weapons and tools.[241] But there is not wanting abundant direct
evidence to prove that Asia had her Bronze Period as well as Europe
and Africa. Dr. Prichard remarks, "Silver and golden ornaments of rude
workmanship, though in abundant quantity, are found in the Siberian
tombs. The art of fabricating ornaments of the precious metals seems to
have preceded by many ages the use of iron in the northern regions of
Asia."[242] A very interesting account is given in the Archæologia of a
tumulus opened in the neighbourhood of Asterabad, on the south-eastern
shores of the Caspian Sea, in 1841. It contained several vessels and
two small trumpets, all of pure gold; spears, pikes, forks, and other
weapons, including a well-shaped hammer and hatchet of copper, but
no traces of iron.[243] The descriptions of Homer point out the era
of the Iliad and the Odyssey as a bronze period; and Hesiod, as well
as later writers, intimate clearly the use of bronze by the Greeks
before they had learned to smelt or work the iron ore. The golden age
of Saturn, and the succeeding silver, brazen, and iron ages, by which
the Greek Sagas figure the gradual decline of mankind from a state of
primeval purity and happiness, are not to be regarded as mere poetical
images. "In the brazen age," says Schlegel, in his Philosophy of
History, "crime and disorder reached their height; violence was the
characteristic of the rude and gigantic Titans. Their arms were of
copper, and their implements and utensils of brass or bronze. Even in
their edifices copper was employed; for as the Greek poet says, 'black
iron was not then known;' a circumstance which must be considered
as strictly historical, and as characteristic of the primitive

We have seen, in so far as the imperfect data already referred to
afford trustworthy indications of the physical characteristics of the
primitive colonists of Britain, that the race of the later era differed
greatly from their elder and probably aboriginal precursors of the
primeval period. We must depend not only on the united observations
of British archæologists for adding to these ethnological data, but
also on Continental research for supplying the necessary elements
of comparison by which we may hope to trace out the origin of the
Brachy-kephalic race of Scotland, to whom it seems probable that the
introduction of the primitive metallurgic arts must be ascribed; while
it may be that we shall yet be able clearly to associate the full
development of these, prior to the working of iron, with the intrusion
of the Celtæ upon the elder Allophylian British races.

Whencesoever the first knowledge of the metallurgic arts was derived,
it introduced into the British Isles the elements of a change scarcely
less momentous than those which later ages trace to letters, the
magnet, the printing-press, or these latest applications of the
metals--the railway and the electric telegraph. The native Briton was
no longer confined to his little clearing on the coast, nor compelled
with ingenious toil to fashion the shapeless flint and stone into the
weapons and implements that supplied his simple wants. The forests rang
with the axe and the wedge; the low grounds were gradually cleared
of their primeval forests; and the fruits of patient industry were
substituted, in part at least, for the spoils of the chase. Still the
change was wrought, as might be anticipated, only by very slow degrees.
The weapons and implements would in many localities long precede the
knowledge of the arts by which they were formed. The old generation
would die out, and be buried with the stone war-hatchet and spear,
while the younger race were learning to despise such imperfect arms.
Necessity also, arising from their costliness and scarcity, would
long confine the majority to the primitive and inefficient tools and
weapons of their fathers. Even after the flint lance had been entirely
superseded by the bronze sword and spear, the missile weapons would
still be made of the old material, and the large stone hammer would
be retained in use as too bulky an object to be constructed of the
more costly metal. It is probable, indeed, that stone implements were
never entirely abandoned throughout the whole Bronze Period. No large
bronze hammers have ever been found in Britain, while those of stone
frequently occur along with metallic remains; and the larger hammers
and axes, chiefly of granite, are among the most abundant of Scottish
primitive relics. So recently as the month of October 1849, an ancient
working of great extent was broken into at the Llandudno Copper Mines,
at Ormes Head, in North Wales. In this were found a great number of
stone hammers or mauls of various sizes, weighing from two to forty
pounds, supposed to have been used in crushing the ore or detaching
it from the rock. There also lay beside them a number of bones, and
the portion of a bronze tool; affording altogether one of the most
interesting discoveries yet made illustrative of the arts of the
British Bronze Period.[245] Traces of ancient mining operations have
also been found in Scotland. Pennant describes trenches in the Island
of Jura by which the veins both of lead and copper have been wrought in
very early times, and by instruments unknown to the modern miner.[246]

Abundant evidence is found in accordance with these indications,
proving the existence of a long transition-period, during which
metallic tools and arms were only very partially introduced, and
were manifestly esteemed as rare and precious possessions. To this
transition-period we should probably assign the formation of the
smaller and most carefully wrought varieties of the stone hammer, with
which we may presume the ingenious worker in the newly mastered metals
to have wrought, and fashioned into shape, many of the rude but massive
gold ornaments found in the tumuli. From the number of these relics of
the precious metals which have been discovered, we are irresistibly led
to the conclusion that gold must have been much more abundant at that
remote era than it has been within the period of authentic history.
Nor is it difficult to account for such a state of things. Though
usually found in very small quantities, gold is well known as one of
the most widely diffused of all the metals; and the clay slate which
frequently forms the depository of gold, silver, and copper, exists in
great abundance throughout the Highlands. In the Leadhills of Scotland
considerable quantities of gold have been procured at no very distant
period, while numerous allusions suffice to shew its greater abundance
in former times.[247] In the twelfth century the Abbey of Dunfermline
received a grant from David I. of the tithe of all the gold produced
by the surrounding districts of Fife and Forthrev;[248] and even in
the sixteenth century the Laird of Merchiston is said to have wrought
gold in the Pentland Hills.[249] In the remoter era, however, to which
we now refer, when the rude Caledonian was learning, for the first
time, to fashion his weapons and tools of bronze, and to substitute the
golden torc and armilla for the necklace of perforated shells or stone
and amber beads, we are justified in assuming from analogy that in many
of the channels of the Scottish mountain streams,--amid the strata
of which the ore has been found,--not only the gold dust, but pure
masses of native gold would be occasionally discovered, and wrought
with no better tools than the stone hammer and anvil into the personal
ornaments of distinguished leaders or priests. Strabo, in referring
to the great mineral wealth of Spain, which made it to the ancients
what America became to the Spaniards long after their native mineral
treasures were exhausted, remarks,--"In no country are gold, silver,
copper, and iron, so abundant or of such fine quality; even the rivers
and mountain streams bring down gold in their beds, which is found in
their sands." Yet such a description is now as little applicable to
Spain as to Scotland. But more recent and conclusive evidence exists.
Much sensation was excited in 1795 by the discovery of gold dust in the
bed of the brook Ballinasloge, a feeder of the Avonmore river, about
seven miles west from Arklow, county Wicklow. The stream is formed
there at the junction of three ravines; and in this spot John Lloyd,
Esq., F.R.S., a correspondent of Sir Joseph Banks,[250] describes
upwards of three hundred women, besides men and children, all engaged
at one time in searching for the precious metal:--a scene not difficult
to parallel in our own day. The searchers, however, were abundantly
rewarded for their labour. The gold was found in masses varying
from a few grains to five ounces in weight, and one piece, weighing
twenty-two ounces, was reserved as a present to His Majesty. A later
correspondent,[251] in a communication to the Royal Society, calculates
that 800 ounces of gold were collected in the short space of six weeks,
at the end of which time the gatherers were dispersed by a body of
militia, and the gold area held for behoof of Government. "The gold,"
says Mr. Mills, "is of a bright yellow colour, perfectly malleable;
the specific gravity of an apparently clean piece 19,000. A specimen,
assayed here in the moist way, produced from 24 grains 22-58/101 grains
of pure gold, and 1-45/101 of silver. Some of the gold is intimately
blended with, and adherent to quartz; some, it is said, was found
united to the fine grained iron-stone, but the major part was entirely
free from the matrix; every piece more or less rounded on the edges,
of various weights, forms, and sizes."[252] Specimens were afterwards
assayed by the Royal Mint Master at the Tower of London. One piece
contained, in 24 carats, 21-6/8 of fine gold, 1⅞ of fine silver, and
⅝ of alloy, which seemed to be copper tinged with a little iron.[253]

Such an example may be reasonably received as supplying one
satisfactory clue to the sources of the gold which we find to have
been so abundant in early times; though we shall still, perhaps,
consistently account for the introduction of some portion of it
indirectly by foreign barter, and chiefly in the shape of the
ring-money hereafter referred to. But when the fact is borne in
remembrance that articles of silver are rarely, if ever, found in
connexion with relics of the Bronze Period, it must be acknowledged as
most consistent with the geological and mineralogical characteristics
of auriferous and argentiferous deposits to look to native sources for
the supply of gold. While silver is found only in large quantities
by mining, gold has invariably been discovered in largest quantities
in the superficial detritus, and accumulated in circumscribed areas.
Whenever, therefore, we are enabled to trace the supply of gold to a
foreign, as, for example, to a Phœnician source, we can hardly fail to
find accompanying relics of silver; and accordingly, in the succeeding,
or Iron Period, the gold becomes of rare occurrence, and the silver
abundant. One other argument should not be altogether overlooked. The
great purity of very many of the gold ornaments found in the tumuli is
such as may perhaps add to the probability of its native origin. This
well-known fact has frequently supplied an additional inducement to
transfer to the crucible many of the rarest and most valuable relics
of this period. Others found alloyed with silver are in no fixed or
uniform proportions, but rather in accordance with the accidental
mixtures likely to occur in the operations of the primitive miner and
metallurgist. But this, though diminishing their bullion value, has
not sufficed to save such national heirlooms from destruction. After
reposing in the safe muniment chambers of their original owners,
with but a foot of earth above them, while ancient races have become
extinct and new colonists have risen to mighty nations above their
forgotten graves, these treasures have only been restored to light to
be immediately destroyed. The barbarity of such proceedings has hardly
yet been fully exposed. It is the destruction of national records in
the meanest spirit of cupidity, which no wealth could restore, and for
which not even the poor excuse can be found that satisfied the fanatic
Caliph Omar when he converted the treasures of the Alexandrian Library
into fuel for the city baths.

Remote as is the period when the novel arts of the metallurgist
broke in upon the simple and unsophisticated habits of the British
aborigines, some traces of the memory of this mighty change still
linger amid the popular traditions of England. The use which Sir Walter
Scott has made of the Berkshire legend of Wayland Smith has sufficed
to confer a fictitious interest on, perhaps without exception, the
most remarkable of all the mythic traditions common to the nations
of northern Europe, and which may be unhesitatingly received as the
traditionary memorial of the advent of the Bronze Period among the
Teutonic races. True, indeed, in the only definite form in which it is
now recoverable from the early and medieval literature of Europe, it is
associated with the later age of iron rather than with that of bronze;
but little importance can be attached to this. The legend is manifestly
of an older date even than the Edda, that venerable collection of the
sacred writings of the north. We see in it the hero-worship of the
fierce Norsemen deifying their Scandinavian Vulcan, and assigning to
him a superhuman origin as an evidence of their estimate of the divine
gift he is supposed to have bestowed. But the mythic legend finds
its prototype in the Greek Dædalus, if not in the Mosaic Tubal-Cain.
It is incorporated into nearly all the older European tongues with
singular uniformity of idea. In the Icelandic the name of the renowned
northern metallurgist is Vælund and Vaulundr; in old high German,
Wiolant, Wielant; in Anglo-Saxon, Wêland; in old English, Weland and
Velond; and in the modern popular dialect, Wayland. In the Latin of
the middle ages it becomes Guielandus; and in old French, Galans and
Galant. It is probable that Spain, Italy, and the East above all, had
analogous traditions, some of which at least may yet be recovered.[254]
According to a singular, and seemingly arbitrary caprice of the
medieval Germanic traditions, the forge of Weland is supposed to be
erected in the Caucasus; and Michel remarks, as a proof that there has
been a common origin of these legends of the east and west relating to
skilful workers in iron, that some of the traditions still preserved
on the banks of the Euphrates present the same traits recorded by the
poets of the middle ages on the banks of the Rhine.[255] But Humboldt
has justly remarked that "the characteristic features of nations, like
the internal construction of plants spread over the surface of the
globe, were the impressions of a primitive type." The Aztecks,--to
whom we have already referred as a remarkable example of considerable
civilisation, and the extensive practice of many useful and ornamental
arts, among a people destitute of iron and very partially furnished
with metals,--had their mythic metallurgist as well as the older races
of Europe and Asia. Quetzalcoath, whose reign was the golden age of the
people of Anahuac, was the Weland of the Aztecks, worshipped among them
with strange and bloody rites. Their traditions told that he had dwelt
among them twenty years, and had taught them to cast metals, ordered
fasts, and regulated the intercalations of the Tolteck year.[256]
Prominent as the place is which the mythic legend of the smith-god
occupied in the popular creed of the middle ages throughout the greater
part of Europe, the tradition of a gifted worker in metals is doubtless
of eastern origin, and far more fitly impersonates and deifies the
restoration of the metallurgic arts in the primitive Bronze Period
than the mere transition from bronze to iron, important as the latter
change undoubtedly was.

The remarkable analogy of the mythic legends of the North with the
ancient Greek fable of Dædalus, has not escaped the notice of modern
critics, and MM. Depping and Michel remark:--"We do not hesitate to
believe that it is the history of this Greek artist, altered and
disfigured, adapted to the manners and creeds of the people of the
north of Europe, which has given rise to the romance of Weland." The
resemblance, however, is scarcely less manifest, in many respects, to
the lame smith-god Ἡφαιστος, or Vulcan; and the widely-diffused mythic
fable is far too complete and unique to have been transferred directly
from the Greek to the Teutonic mythology, where scarce another trace
of similar correspondence is discernible. Jupiter, Mars, Hercules,
Venus, Orpheus, all find their counterparts indeed, but with scarce a
shadow of resemblance to Greek prototypes, in the wild Scandinavian
and old German pantheon, which may reasonably excite our wonder, if
we assume a Greek origin for the _Vœlundar Quida_ contained in the
Edda. In the simplest form in which it is still recoverable, it is
obviously overlaid with spurious additions of a later age; and when it
gets into the monkish chronicles and romances of chivalry compiled in
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the wild faith of the Norsemen
is outdone by the wilder fictions of the Trouveres, and nearly all
the symbolic spirit of the original disappears. Some of these even
assign precise periods as the era of the northern smith. Several of
the French romances mention Galand as the maker of Charlemagne's
famous sword Durendal, while others describe armour forged by him and
weapons inscribed with his name. But the most curious notice of this
kind occurs in an English manuscript written about the time of Edward
I. It contains a description of the sword of Gauvain, one of the most
celebrated knights of Arthur's "Round Table," made by Galant, and
having the following lines inscribed in _canello gladii_:--

    "Jeo su forth trenchant e dure;
    Galaan me fyth par mult grant cure;
    Catorse anz [out] Jhesu Cristh,
    Quant Galaan me trempa e fyth;"

_i.e._, "I am very sharp and hard; Galaan made me with very great care;
fourteen years old was Jesus Christ when Galaan tempered and made me."
Other romances furnish with swords of Galant's workmanship both Julius
Cæsar and Alexander the Great, and by inheritance from the latter,
Ptolemy, Judas Maccabæus, and the Emperor Vespasian.[257] Such spurious
inventions, however, lack all the value of the original symbolic
legend. We read indeed in the romance of Fierabras d'Mixandre, of three
famous swords made by Galans and his two brothers; of one of which it
is related,--

    "Césars li emperères l'ot maint jor en demagne,
    Engleterre en conquist, Angou et Alemagne,
    Et France et Normendie, Saisone et Aquitaigne,
    Et Puille et Hungerie, Provence et Moriaigne."[258]

If this idea stood alone, or was conceived in the simple spirit of
the Scandinavian Vœlund-Chaunt, we might imagine it to be designed as
a symbolic myth representing the advent of the Iron Period and its
irresistible progress over the north; but the general spirit of the
romance is characterized by the usual extravagance of medieval poetry.

The Greeks assigned to the history of Dædalus a very high antiquity,
carrying him back to somewhere about the thirteenth century before the
Christian era; but it may admit of doubt if Greece had then passed her
own primitive stage. Among the relics of the European Stone Period
preserved in the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries are some small
flint-flakes and arrow-heads, gathered on the elevated mound of the
tomb of the Plateans at Marathon, which it will not greatly outrage the
ideas of the critical historian to assume as weapons used by the Greek
patriots in repelling the Persian invader. At first the word Dædalus
was, among the Greeks, like that of Weland among the Scandinavians, a
generic name. Δαιδαλλω signified to work artistically, as _Voelundr_
signified a smith in Islandic; and Dædalus was, like Weland,
pre-eminently the artist and the workman. The word became a proper
name only because of their attributing to this mythological being all
the perfections of the art. For this reason also, it appears equally
erroneous to regard the Islandic word voelund, a smith, as derived from
Weland: it is the contrary that should be assumed. The word _voelund_
existed before the history of the famous smith Weland had been
invented, just as the word δαιδαλλω existed before the personification
Dædalus had been adopted into the mythology of the Greeks.[259] This
is no new idea. It was obviously from a recognition of it that King
Alfred, when translating the _De Consolatione Philosophiæ_ of Boethius
into Anglo-Saxon, used the name of the northern Weland as synonymous
with _Fabricius_. Mr. Singer has employed the Greek fable of Dædalus
to restore the connexion of the arts of the north with the elder
civilisation of Europe, and Dr. Sickler has applied the same classic
legend with great ingenuity in his argument of the Phœnician origin
of the Greek metallurgic arts.[260] Whencesoever that knowledge may
have been immediately derived, we shall adopt the most consistent idea
if we turn back to the Eastern cradle-land both of the Hellenic and
Scandinavian races, and assume a common origin for the mythic fable
which records with corresponding symbolic legends the restoration of
the art of Tubal-Cain to the postdiluvian race.

It is a remarkable and interesting fact, that while modern learning and
research have brought to light the most ancient literate forms of this
northern myth, in the Edda and the Niebelungen Lied, it is in England
only that it has survived to our own day as a living popular tradition;
and it is due to the somewhat grotesque travesty of its rude Berkshire
version inwrought into the tragic tale of Kenilworth, that it has been
restored to the favour of modern Europe. Among the old Scandinavian
nations, and in Iceland, where the language of their runic literature
is still a living tongue, as well as in France, and throughout the
whole Germanic races of the Continent, all memory of the restoration
of this divine gift of the metals has utterly passed away. In England
only--towards which we see the galleys of the elder inheritors of
civilisation winging their way in quest of its metallic treasures with
the first glimpse we catch of it as it emerges out of the night of
time--the mythic legend has retained vitality till now. How the story
of our northern Dædalus came to be associated with the monolithic
group at the foot of White-Horse Hill, in the vale of Berkshire, it is
now equally vain and useless to inquire. There, according to rustic
folk-lore, dwelt the invisible smith. No one ever saw him; but he who
had the courage to avail himself of his skill had only to deposit a
piece of money on one of the stones, and leave his horse beside it. On
his return the horse was found to be shod, and the money gone. Such
was the last shadowy tradition of the venerable myth. On one of the
rarer coins of Cunobeline an armourer or coiner is represented. Some
numismatists have supposed it to be Vulcan forging a helmet.

May it not more probably be assumed as the northern Weland, whose
metallurgic skill was so widely celebrated among the Teutonic nations?
Before the great Alfred had won his way to the English throne the
symbolic impersonation had assumed a perfect individuality; and in the
translation of the _De Consolatione Philosophiæ_ into Anglo-Saxon, he
thus paraphrases the passage,--Ubi nunc fidelis ossa Fabricii manent?
Quid Brutus, aut rigidus Cato?

    "Where are now the bones
    Of the wise Weland,
    The goldsmith
    Formerly most famous?
           *       *       *       *       *
    Who knows now the bones
    Of the wise Weland,
    Under what mound (or barrow)
    They are concealed?"[261]

If little importance be due to the association of Weland's name with
the working in iron, not very much more is to be ascribed to the no
less frequent depiction of him as a cunning jeweller and goldsmith.
Nevertheless, the circumstance is worthy of notice in passing, since
it is not impossible that the working in gold may have preceded even
the age of bronze, and in reality have belonged, as already hinted,
to the Stone Period. If metal could be found capable of being wrought
and fashioned without smelting or moulding, its use was perfectly
compatible with the simple arts of the Stone Period. Of such use masses
of native gold, such as have been often found both in the Old and the
New World, are peculiarly susceptible; and some of the examples of
Scottish gold personal ornaments fully correspond with the probable
results of such an anticipatory use of the metals. One very remarkable
example, more particularly referred to hereafter, occurs in a pair of
armillæ of pure gold, found in an urn of the rudest and most artless
construction in a cist in Banffshire. They are merely hammered into
rounded bars and then bent to fit the arm, and they retain the rough
marks of the tool, which it is more easy to imagine one of stone than
any more delicate or artificial implement. It is not impossible that it
may be owing to some faint traditional remembrance of this primitive
origin of the working of metals, that the oldest notices of Weland
represent him chiefly as the cunning goldsmith, as in the fifth stanza
of the Vœlundar Quida of the Edda:--

    "Vœlund alone remained in Ulfdale,
    He wrought red gold, with jewells rare,
    Securing on a withy rings many."

So it is in all the earliest existing forms of this ancient myth, the
working in iron is only superadded to the skill of the famous goldsmith.

No Celtic legend preserves an equally distinct memorial of the
introduction of the metallurgic arts among the ancient colonists of
the British Isles. Nevertheless the Scottish Highlanders have their
native Ἡφαιστος also, personified, like the Teutonic Weland, in many
romantic legends. The fame of Luno, the son of Leven, who made the
swords of Fingal and his heroes, is preserved in old traditional poems,
which figure him as a wild savage clad in a mantle of black hide, and
with an apron of similar materials. The additional features of the
picture furnish no inapt personification of the classic Vulcan. He is
described as lame; going on one leg, with a staff in his hand, yet
remarkable for his swiftness.[262] Dr. Macculloch, in demonstrating
the affinity between the Celtic and Teutonic superstitions and the
Oriental and classic mythology, remarks,--"Fingal is not an absolute
original himself. His sword is the sword of sharpness of the Edda,
made by Velent or Weyland, the hyperborean Vulcan. It is the wonderful
sword Skoffnung, and also Balmung, and it is the Mimmung in Ettin
Langshanks. It is equally Tyrsing, the fairy blade of Suafurlami; and
it is also the sword which Jack begged of the giant. It is the sword
Durandal, with which Orlando cuts rocks in two; and it is Escalibor,
the sword of Arthur."[263] Thus common as the metal from which it is
forged is some form or other of the mythic legend which commemorates
the restoration of old Tubal-Cain's weapon of war. Still the venerable
Teutonic myth does not appear to have been preserved by the Scottish
medieval chroniclers or romancers, unless in some extremely modified
form, or it could hardly have escaped the notice of Dunbar, in his
satire of "The Fenyeit Freir of Tungland." The incident which gave
rise to this whimsical effusion of our great Scottish poet against the
Italian charlatan occurred in 1507, (a year famous for the introduction
of the printingpress into Scotland,) and is thus described by Bishop
Lesley.[264] Referring to an embassy sent to France in that year, he
remarks,--"This tyme thair wes ane Italiane with the king, quha wes
maid Abbott of Tungland, and wes of curious ingyne. He causet the king
believe that he, be multiplyinge and utheris his inventions, wold make
fine golde of uther mettall, quhilk science he callit the quintassence;
quhairupon the king maid greit cost, bot all in vaine. This Abbott tuik
in hand to flie with wingis, and to be in Fraunce befoir the saidis
ambassadouris; and to that effect he causet mak ane pair of wingis of
fedderis, quhilkis beand fessinit apoun him, he flew of the Castell
wall of Striveling, bot shortlie he fell to the ground and brak his
thee bane. Bot the wyt thairof he ascryvit to that thair was sum hen
fedderis in the wingis, quhilk yarnit and covet the mydding and not the
skyis." The Scottish historian compares him to "ane king of Yngland
callit Bladud." The poet's similes are still more pertinent; though
since we learn from the Scottish Treasurers' Accounts, that the Abbot
of Tungland was paid, in 1513, "to pass to the myne of Crawfurd-moor,"
which the king was then working for gold: and from the satire, that he
sometimes practised the Blacksmith's craft: Dunbar could scarcely have
avoided the addition of the Weland legend to his other similes, had it
been known to him, since the points of resemblance are such, that, with
less historic evidence for the truth of the Abbot's history, we might
assume it as the rude Scottish version of the Vœlundar Quida:--

    "Sum held he had bene Dedalus,
    Sum the Mynataur mervaluss,
    Sum Mertis blak smyth Vulcanus,
        And sum Saturnus cuk.
    And evir the cuchettis at him tuggit,
    The rukis him rent, the ravynis him druggit,
    The huddit crawis his hair furth ruggit,
        The hevin he micht nocht bruke."


[224] Ellis's Specimens. The abundance of wild beasts and game of
all kinds in the Caledonian forests is frequently alluded to. Boece
describes "gret plente of haris, hartis, hindis, dayis, rais, wolffis,
wild hors, and toddis." (Bellenden's Boece. Cosmographe, chap. xi.)
The following curious enumeration in Gordon's History of the House of
Sutherland, (fol. p. 3,) written about 1630, furnishes a tolerably
extensive list of wild natives of Sutherland even in the seventeenth
century:--"All these forrests and schases are verie profitable for
feiding of bestiall, and delectable for hunting. They are full of
reid deir and roes, woulffs, foxes, wyld catts, brocks, skuyrrells,
whittrets, weasels, otters, martrixes, hares, and fumarts. In these
forrests, and in all this province, ther is great store of partriges,
pluivers, capercalegs, blackwaks, murefowls, heth-hens, swanes,
bewters, turtledoves, herons, dowes, steares or stirlings, lair-igigh
or knag, (which is a foull lyk vnto a paroket or parret, which maks
place for her nest with her beck in the oak trie,) duke, draig,
widgeon, teale, wildgouse, ringouse, routs, whaips, shot-whaips,
woodcok, larkes, sparrowes, snyps, blakburds or osills, meweis,
thrushes, and all other kinds of wildfowle and birds, which ar to be
had in any pairt of this kingdome. Ther is not one strype in all these
forrests that wants trouts and other sorts of fishes.... Ther is vpon
these rivers, and vpon all the cost of Southerland, a great quantitie
of pealoks, sealghes or sealls, and sometymes whaills of great bignes,
with all sorts of shell fish, and dyvers kynds of sea-foull." When
we remember that this ample inventory is of a late date, and lacks
not only the Caledonian bull, the elk, and "the wild-bore, killed by
Gordoun, who for his valour and great manhood was verie intire with
King Malcolme-Kean-Moir," but also, in all probability, many more of
the older prizes of the chase, we can readily perceive the abundant
stores that lay within reach of the thinly-peopled districts of the
primitive era. One of the most interesting of the extinct animals
of Scotland, on many accounts, is the beaver, (_Castor Europæus_,)
already referred to among the mammals of the primeval transition. Its
remains have been discovered under circumstances indicative of equal
antiquity with the extinct mammoth, (Owen, p. 191.) But their most
frequent situation is at the bottom of the peat-bog; as in the Newbury
peat-valley, where they were found twenty feet below the present
surface, associated with the remains of the wild-boar, roebuck, goat,
deer, and wolf. Fine specimens of a skull, under-jaw, and haunch bone,
found in Perthshire, and now in the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries,
have been made the subject of a valuable memoir by Dr. P. Neill, a
Fellow of the Society, in the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, (vol. i.
p. 183, and Wern. Mem. vol. iii. p. 207.) Dr. Neill, Professor Fleming,
and subsequent writers, including Professor Owen, in referring to the
historical notices of the beaver, remark on the absence of any mention
of such an animal in the Scottish public records. This, however, is an
error. In an Act of David I. fixing the rate of custom-duties, beavers'
skins are mentioned among the Scottish exports, along with those of
the fox, the weasel, the martin, the wild cat, the ferret, &c.--"Of
Peloure.--Of a tymmyr of skynnis of toddis, quhytredis, mertrikis,
cattis, _beueris_, sable firettis, or swylk vthyr of ilk tymmyr at þe
outpassing, iiij ᵭ. Of þe tymmer of skurel, ij ᵭ.," &c., (Act. Parl.
Scot. vol. i. p. 303.) Dr. Neill has pointed out the interesting fact,
that the Scottish Highlanders still retain a peculiar Gaelic name for
the beaver, _Dobran losleathan_, the broad-tailed otter. By the
Welsh it is called _Llosdlydan_, and Pennant refers to waters in the
principality still bearing the name of the Beaver Lake.

[225] Numbers xxxi. 22.

[226] Ezekiel xxvii. 12.

[227] Borlase's Cornwall, vol. i. p. 317. Plate XXVIII.

[228] Archæologia, vol. xvi. p. 137. Plates IX. and X.

[229] Collectanea Curiosa Antiqua Dumnonia, by W. T. P. Shortt, Esq.,
p. 71.

[230] Mémoires de la Société d'Emulation d'Abbeville, 1844-1848, p. 135.

[231] W. T. P. Shortt, Esq. of Heavitree, near Exeter. Antiqua
Dumnonia, Pref. p. iv. _Vide_ also Sylva Antiqua Iscana, pp. 79, 88,
89, 90, 91, 93-105. Gent.'s Mag., Aug. and Sep. 1837, &c., for notices
of the discovery of numerous early Greek and Egyptian, and some
Phœnician coins.

[232] Numismatic Chronicle, vol. i. p. 3. _Vide_ also the able series
of Articles by the Rev. Beale Post, on the coins of Cunobeline, and of
the Ancient Britons. Journ. of Archæol. Assoc. vols. i. ii. iii. iv.
and v.

[233] Boece assigns the earliest native Scottish coinage to an
apocryphal king Donald, _circa_ A.D. 200. This account, however,
includes some interesting notices of hoards discovered in his own day:
"King Donald was the first king of Scottis that prentit ane penny of
gold or silver. On the ta side of this money was prentit ane croce, and
his face on the tothir. The Scottis usit na money, bot merchandice,
quhen thay interchangeit with Britonis and Romanis, afore thir dayis,
except it war money of the said Romanis or Britonis, as may be previt
be sindry auld hurdis and treasouris, found in divers partis of
Scotland, with uncouth cunye. For in the yeir of God M.DXIX. yeris, in
Fiffe, nocht far fra Levin, war certane penneis found, in ane brasin
veschell, with uncouth cunye; sum of thaim war prentit with doubill
visage of Janus; otheris with the stam of ane schip; otheris had the
figure of Mars, Venus, Mercurius, and siclike idolis; on otheris war
prentit Romulus and Remus soukand ane wolf; and on the tothir side
war prentit S. P. Q. R. Siclike, in Murray-land, beside the see, in
the ground of ane auld castill, the yeir of God M.CCCCLX. yeris, was
found ane veschell of merbill, full of uncouth money; on quhilkis was
prentit the image of ane ganar fechtant with edderis,"--_i.e._, a goose
fighting with adders.--Bellenden's Boece, book iv. chap. xvi.

[234] Sylva Antiqua Iscana, p. 79, Plate VI.

[235] Ibid. p. 90, where a minute account of the coins is given. Also
pp. 76, 88, 91, 93, &c.

[236] New Statist. Acco. vol. iv. p. 292.

[237] Archæologia, vol. ii. p. 92; vol. iii. pp. 234, 332. A monumental
tablet, dedicated to the memory of Antiochus Lysimachus, now in the
Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries, is engraved and described by
mistake in Stuart's "Caledonia Romana" as _the only Greek inscription
which has been met with north of the Tweed_. It was found, along with
a statue of Esculapius and other fine marbles, near the fountain of
Cyrene, on the site of an ancient Greek colony in Africa.

[238] Gibson's Camden, p. 926.

[239] Primeval Antiquities, p. 135.

[240] Primeval Antiquities, p. 45.

[241] Layard's Nineveh, vol. ii p. 418.

[242] Natural History of Man, p. 191.

[243] Archæologia, vol. xxx. p. 248.

[244] Schlegel's Philosophy of History, Lecture II.

[245] Archæol. Journal, vol. vii. p. 68.

[246] Pennant, vol. ii. p. 250.

[247] "It seems our ancestors had more gold than silver, and indeed
there are several places in Scotland where there has been much digging
for gold. I have had the curiosity to consider the nature of them,
and always found them just the same with those the Emperor has on the
borders of Hungary, at two places, Nitria and Presburg. Those, like
ours, consist of a vein or stratum of sand and gravel, which being
brought up some fathoms from below ground, and washed, produce gold in
very small particles."--Sir John Clerk to Mr. Gale, August 6, 1732;
_Biblo. Topog. Brit._ vol. ii. p. 299.

In the _Miscellanea Scotica_, printed in 1710, various notices of the
ancient working of gold in Scotland occur. Pieces of gold, mixed with
spar and other substances, weighing thirty ounces, are described among
the fruits of the Laughain and Phinland mines. See also Pennant's Tour,
App. x. vol. iii. for a curious account "of the gold mines of Scotland."

The introduction of the metals into southern Europe in ancient times
appears to have borne no analogy to that in the north. Gold was not
used in the Roman coinage till B.C. 207, sixty-two years after the
adoption of a silver coinage. So, too, in the records of sacred
history, Abraham weighed unto Ephron 400 shekels of silver, current
money with the merchant. The earliest notice of gold used otherwise
than for jewels and ornaments only occurs in the reign of David, when
he purchased the threshing-floor of Ornan for 600 shekels of gold by
weight; 1 Chron. xxi. 25. Compare this with 2 Samuel xxiv. 24.

[248] Regist. de Dunferm. p. 16.

[249] Miscel. Scot., Napier of Merchiston, p. 228.

[250] "Account of the late discovery of native gold in Ireland."
Philosoph. Transac. London, 1796, p. 34.

[251] Ibid. p. 38. "A Mineralogical Account of the native gold lately
discovered in Ireland," by Abraham Mills, Esq.

[252] Philosoph. Transac. London, 1796, p. 43.

[253] Ibid. p. 45.

[254] Wayland Smith, by W. S. Singer, from the French of Depping and
Michel, Preface.

[255] Ibid. p. lxxvi.

[256] Humboldt's Researches, vol. i. p. 94.

[257] Archæologia, vol. xxxii. p. 321.

[258] MS. de la Bib. Roy. Supplem. Française, No. 540, fol. 33.
Singer's Wayland Smith, p. lvii.

[259] Singer's Wayland Smith, p. lxx.

[260] _Die Hieroglyphen in dem Mythus des Æsculapius._ Meiningen, 1819.
Singer, p. lxx.

[261] _Vide_ Thomas Wright on the Legend of Weland the Smith.
_Archæologia_, vol. xxxii. p. 315. Also his article on Alfred, in the
_Biographia Literaria_ of the Royal Society of Literature regarding the
authorship of this metrical version.

[262] Logan's Scottish Gael, vol. ii. p. 195.

[263] Macculloch's Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland, vol. iv. p.

[264] Bishop Lesley's Hist. Bannatyne Club. 4to. Edinburgh, 1830. P. 76.



In the earliest glimpse we are able to catch of the British Isles with
the dawning light of historic records, we learn of them as already
celebrated for their mineral wealth. So long, however, as Britain
retained its vast tracts of natural forests, and was only occupied
by thinly scattered nomade tribes, the tin mines of Cornwall, and
the foreign trade which they invited to the southern shores of the
island, might reward the toil and sagacity of the ancient Cornubii or
other primitive colonists of Cornwall and the Scilly Isles, without
exercising any perceptible influence on neighbouring tribes, or
being known to the remoter dwellers beyond the Solway and the Tyne.
The spoils of war, more probably than any peaceful interchange of
commodities, would first introduce the bronze weapons imported into
Cornwall to the knowledge of the northern tribes. But the superiority
of the sword and spear of metal over the old lance of flint or bone
would speedily be appreciated, and we accordingly find abundant traces
of one of the first elements of civilisation, viz., an interchange
of commodities and the importation of foreign manufactures, having
accompanied the advent of the Bronze Period. The rude aboriginal Briton
no longer confined his aim in the chase to the supply of his own table
and simple wardrobe. The Phœnicians traded to Britain for its furs as
well as its metals, and for these the products of a wider district than
the tin country would be required. The Caledonian hunter would learn
to hoard up the skins won in the chase, to barter with them for the
coveted sword and spear of bronze,--and thus the first elements of
civilisation would precede the direct knowledge of the metallurgic arts.

The advent of the Bronze Period, however, cannot be held to have been
fairly introduced until the native Caledonian had learned, at least
to melt the metals, and to mould the weapons and implements which he
used, if not to quarry and smelt the ores which abound in his native
hills. The progress consequent on the indirect introduction of the
metals would speedily create new wants and the desire for modifications
and improvements on the implements of foreign manufacture. The demands
on his sagacity and skill would increase with the gradual progress in
intelligence and civilisation consequent on the new impulses brought
into operation; and thus would the arts of the smith and the jeweller
be superinduced on the originally barbarian devices of the Caledonian.
Once introduced, by whatever means, he was not slow to improve on the
lessons furnished in the novel art; and while, with a pertinacious
adherence to ancient models singularly characteristic of primitive
races, we find implements and personal ornaments of the modern Scottish
Highlander not greatly differing from those of fully ten centuries
ago, we also find the natives of isolated districts, beyond the reach
of changing influences, practising the ingenious arts of this remote
period when every man was his own armourer and goldsmith.

It needs not either the authority of revelation, or the demonstrations
of ethnology, to prove that God has made of one blood all that dwell
upon the earth. Man, placed under the same conditions, everywhere
exhibits similar results. The ancient Stone Period of Assyria and
Egypt resembles that of its European successor, and that again finds a
nearly complete parallel in the primitive remains of the valley of the
Mississippi, and in the modern arts of the barbarous Polynesians. So,
too, with the higher state which succeeds this. The characteristics
of the early Bronze Period are long since familiar to us. Milton, who
accords equally stinted honours to Mulciber and to Mammon, by whose
suggestion taught, men

    "Ransack'd the centre, and with impious hands
    Rifled the bowels of their mother earth
    For treasures better hid,"--

refers to the introduction of the metallurgic arts as first among those
great sources of change which the Archangel Michael makes known to Adam
when exhibiting to him the future destiny of his seed. The knowledge
of working in metals is there also introduced in contrast to the
simpler arts of the pastoral state, and as the chief source of social
progress with all its accompanying development of luxury and crime. On
one side Adam sees the shepherds' huts and grazing herds;

    "In other part stood one who, at the forge
    Labouring, two massy clods of iron and brass
    Had melted, (whether found where casual fire
    Had wasted woods on mountain or in vale,
    Down to the veins of earth; thence gliding hot
    To some cave's mouth; or whether washed by stream
    From under ground,) the liquid ore he drained
    Into fit moulds prepared, from which he formed
    First his own tools, then what might else be wrought
    Fusil, or graven in metal."

Amid the highly artificial results of modern civilisation we might
find some difficulty in conceiving of such a social state, in which
considerable taste and ingenuity were displayed in the forging of arms
and tools, and in the manufacture of personal ornaments. But not only
are we able to compare the results of the division of labour with the
fruits of such isolated skill, in races only now beginning to develop
these first elements of civilisation; we can also look upon the living
representatives of the Caledonian at the dawn of his historic era.
Dr. Layard, in describing a visit to an ancient copper mine in the
Tiyari Mountains, remarks,--"In these mountains, particularly in the
heights above Lizan, and in the valley of Berwari, mines of iron, lead,
copper, and other minerals, abound. Both the Kurds and the Chaldæans
make their own weapons and implements of agriculture, and cast bullets
for their rifles--collecting the ores which are scattered on the
declivities, or brought down by the torrents."[265] This affords a
parallel modern picture of such a state of society as that we have to
conceive of in the early dawn of the British Bronze Period. Martin, in
his description of the Western Isles, written at the commencement of
the eighteenth century, remarks of the islanders,--"When they travel
on foot the plaid is tied on the breast with a bodkin of bone or wood,
just as the spina worn by the Germans, according to the description of
Tacitus." He then furnishes a detailed account of the ancient dress,
even then becoming rare, and of the breast-buckle or brooch, of silver
or brass, which appears to have formed, from the very earliest times,
the most favourite personal ornament of both sexes. "I have seen some
of the former," says he, "of an hundred marks value: it was broad as
any ordinary pewter plate, the whole curiously engraven with various
animals, &c. There was a lesser buckle, which was worn in the middle
of the larger, and about two ounces weight. It had in the centre a
large piece of crystal, or some finer stone, and this was set all
round with several stones of a lesser size."[266] The Rev. John Lane
Buchanan, visiting these islands nearly a century later, found the same
customs unchanged, and the primitive metallurgic arts of the ingenious
Hebrideans not greatly in advance of the modern Asiatic Kurds. This
writer remarks of the females,--"All of them wear a small plaid, a yard
broad, called _guilechan_, about their shoulders, fastened by a large
brooch. The brooches are generally round, and of silver, if the wearer
be in tolerable circumstances; if poor, the brooches, being either
circular or triangular, are of baser metal and modern date. The first
kind has been worn time immemorial even by the ladies. The married
women bind up their hair with a large pin into a knot on the crown of
their heads."[267] The same writer thus describes the practice of every
necessary art and trade by the simple islanders:--"It is very common
to find men who are tailors, shoemakers, stocking-weavers, coopers,
carpenters, and sawyers of timber. Some of them employ the plane, the
saw, the adze, the wimble, and they even groove the deals for chests.
They make hooks for fishing, cast metal buckles, brooches, and rings
for their favourite females."[268] They were, in fact, at that very
recent period practising nearly the same arts as we may trace out at
a time when the Phœnician traders were still seeking the harbours of
Cornwall, and exchanging the manufactures of Carthage, and perhaps of
Tyre, for the products of the English mines. A no less unquestionable
proof of the unchanging character of the Celtic arts is to be found in
the fact that the ornamentation, not only on many of the old Highland
brooches and drinking horns, but invariably employed in decorating the
handle of the Highland dirk and knife, down to the last fatal struggle
of the clans on Culloden Moor which abruptly closed the tradition
of many centuries, is exactly the same interlaced knotwork which we
are familiar with on the most ancient class of sculptured standing
stones in Scotland. The annexed figure of a Highland powder-horn of
the seventeenth century is from one in the possession of Mr. James
Drummond, bearing inscribed on it the initials and date, G. R. 1685.
The triple knot, so common on early Scottish and Irish relics that it
has been supposed to have been used as a symbol of the Trinity, is no
less frequently introduced on the Highland targets and brooches of last
century, and is shewn along with other interlaced ornaments, on an
example of the latter introduced in a subsequent chapter.

[Illustration: _Engraved by Wm. Douglas, from Drawings in possession
of the Soc. Antiq. Scot._



On the theory of the introduction of metallurgic arts assumed here,
not altogether without evidence, it is not requisite that we should
conceive of the aboriginal Caledonians disturbed by the invasion
of foreign tribes armed with weapons scarcely less strange to them
than those with which the Spanish discoverers astonished the simple
natives of the New World. The changes, however, already noted in the
forms and modes of sepulture, the abandonment of the long barrow,
the introduction of cremation, of the sitting or folded posture of
the dead with the correspondingly abbreviated cist, and of a uniform
and defined direction of laying the dead, are all suggestive of the
probable intrusion of new races in earlier as well as in later times.
The facilities afforded by the more pliable metal tools would speedily
work no less remarkable changes on the mansions of the living than on
the sepulchres of the dead. The subterranean weem would give place
to the wooden structure, which the new arts rendered at once a more
convenient and simpler style of architecture; while the inroads on
the forests which such changes led to would necessitate the clearing
of the neighbouring lands preparatory to the extended labours of the
agriculturist. To the same cause also we may probably trace the
origin of many of those extensive tracts of bog and peat-moss which
still encumber the limited level areas of Scotland. The wasteful
profusion of the natives of a thinly peopled country would lead to the
destruction of the forests with little heed to aught but the supply of
their own immediate wants. In the extensive mosses of Kincardine and
Blair-Drummond, which have yielded such valuable archæological relics,
when the surface of the underlying clay was exposed by the removal
of the moss, it was in many places covered with trees, chiefly oak
and birch, of a great size. These were found lying in all directions
beside their roots, which continued firm in the ground in their natural
position; and from impressions still visible it was evident that they
had been cut with an axe or some similar instrument.[269] The like
discoveries in other Scottish mosses prove their origin from the same
wasteful inroads of early times.

The occupants of the country at this period were necessarily isolated
tribes and clans, with no common interest, and little peaceful
intercourse. The arts were therefore practised as in their primeval
dawn described by Milton, when the artist formed

        "First his own tools, then what might else be wrought."

Among all the varied primitive relics which have been from time to
time discovered, both in Scotland and other countries of northern
Europe, none exceed in interest the stone and bronze moulds in which
the earliest tools and weapons of the native metallurgist were formed.
They have been found in Scotland, England, Ireland, and in the Channel
Islands, exhibiting much diversity of form, and various degrees of
ingenuity and fitness for the purpose in view. Some of them are of
bronze, and highly finished, examples of which from the British Museum
are engraved in the Archæological Journal, (vol. iv. p. 336,) in
_Plate_ VII. vol. v. of the Archæologia, and elsewhere. If the account,
however, furnished by Warburton to Stukely may be relied upon, such
objects are by no means rare. According to him, a bushel of celts,
each inclosed in a brass mould or case, was found in 1719, at Brough,
in the Humber. Mr. Worsaae refers to another example of a number of
bronzes found in Mecklenburg, accompanied by the moulds in which they
were cast, together with pieces of unwrought metal; and similar bronze
celt-moulds have been discovered at various times in different parts of
France. In the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland there
are casts of a pair of large and very perfect bronze celt-moulds, of
unusual size and peculiar form, found at Theville, Arrondissement de

[Illustration: Celt-Moulds, Ross-shire.]

But still more interesting are the ruder stone moulds, in some of
which we may trace the first efforts of the aborigines of the Stone
Period to adapt the materials with which they were familiar to the
novel arts of the metallurgist. This is particularly observable in a
mould-stone preserved in the Belfast Museum. It is polygonal in form,
and exhibits upon four of its surfaces indented moulds for axe-heads
of the simplest class. In this example there is no reason to believe
that any corresponding half was used to complete the mould. The melted
metal was simply poured into the indented surface, and left to take
shape by its equilibrium on the exposed surface. Weapons formed in
this way may frequently be detected, while others, full of air-holes,
and roughly granulated on the surface, appear to have been made in the
still simpler mould formed by an indentation in sand. Others of the
stone moulds have consisted of pairs, like those of bronze. A very
curious example of this description was found a few years since in the
Isle of Anglesea, and is engraved in the Archæological Journal.[270]
It is a cube of hone-stone, nine inches and a quarter in length, by
four inches in breadth at its widest extremity. Each of the four sides
is indented for casting different weapons: two varieties of spear, a
lance or arrow-head, and a celt with two loops. Only the one stone was
found, but another corresponding one is obviously requisite, by means
of which four complete moulds would be obtained. At the Congress of
the Archæological Institute, held at Salisbury in 1849, the temporary
Museum contained a mould of serpentine, found in Dorsetshire, designed
for casting spear-heads, and another of granite, found near Amesbury
in Wiltshire, intended to cast ornamented celts of two sizes. Of the
same class are two pairs of celt-moulds recently discovered in the
parish of Rosskeen, Ross-shire. The site of this interesting discovery
is about four miles inland, on the north side of the Cromarty Frith,
on a moor which the proprietor is reclaiming from the wild waste, and
restoring once more to the profitable service of man. In the progress
of this good work abundant evidence demonstrated the fact, that the
same area from which the accumulated vegetable moss of many centuries
is now being removed, had formed the scene of a busy, intelligent, and
industrious population ere the first growth of this barren produce
indicated its abandonment to solitude and sterility. Near to the spot
where the moulds were discovered there stood till recently a large
sepulchral cairn; and in forming a road through the moss several
cists were exposed containing human bones and cinerary urns. Amid
these evidences of ancient population the two pairs of moulds were
discovered, at a depth of only sixteen inches from the surface. They
are very perfect, and are composed of a hard and very close-grained
stone. One pair is notched and perforated through both moulds, so as
to admit of their being exactly fitted and tied together for casting.
Close to the spot where they were discovered there was also disclosed
the remains of a rude inclosure or building of stone, containing a
bed of ashes and scoriæ; so that here no doubt had been the forge of
the primitive metallurgist, from whence, perhaps, the natives of an
extensive district obtained their chief supplies of weapons and tools.
These Scottish moulds give evidence both of taste and ingenuity. In
one of them is also a matrix for forming a smaller implement, the use
of which is not easy to determine, while both the celts are large and
elegant in form. The woodcut represents one of the celts cast from the
mould, which measures fully five inches long.

[Illustration: Celt-Moulds, Ross-shire.]


In most cases, however, it may be assumed that the earliest weapons
of metal were furnished, as the modern sportsman casts his bullets,
by each warrior or craftsman becoming his own smith and founder; and
when we consider the slow and tedious process indispensable for the
completion of the stone hammer or lance-head of flint, we may readily
perceive that it would be from the scarcity of the metals and not from
any preference for primitive and more familiar arts, that the Briton
of the transition-period continued to use the weapons of his fathers,
or intermingled them with the more efficient ones which the new art
supplied. Still it was probably long before he overcame the difficulty
of casting metal in metal, and learned to model and cast his mould
instead of laboriously cutting it from stone.

In these, as in other stages of improvement, we detect, as it were,
the old tide-marks in the progress of civilisation. The rude chip-axe
improves into the highly polished wedge and celt; this in its turn
gives way to the rude sand-cast axe, or to the similar weapon moulded
in the indented stone. The celt and spear-head follow, gracefully
formed and looped in the double mould of stone or bronze. The taste of
the more experienced metallurgist also finds room for the exercise of
the decorative arts, and transfers to the bronze implements the incised
and chevron patterns which were first introduced on his vessels of
unbaked clay. Still further evidences of progress will come under our
notice, showing the extent to which civilisation had advanced before
the late and more familiar metal superseded the works of bronze.

In the romantic outskirts of the old Scottish capital some of the
most remarkable evidences of the abundant remains of this era have
been discovered. Reference has been made in a former chapter to the
finding of stone cists and cinerary urns as the modern city extended
over the suburban fields which lay beyond the old North Loch. Towards
the close of the eighteenth century, when the spirit of agricultural
improvement, which has been productive of such important results to
Scotland, was beginning to take effect, the use of marl as a valuable
manure was advocated and practised with a zeal no less wide spread and
enthusiastic than has resulted in our own day from the discovery of the
Guano Islands of the Pacific. One of the most zealous of these Scottish
agriculturists was Sir Alexander Dick of Prestonfield, whose estate is
bounded on the north by the romantic Duddingstone Loch, which there
separates it from the ancient royal demesne of Holyrood Palace. In 1775
he constructed a canal, and prepared a couple of flat-bottomed boats,
with the requisite dredging machinery attached to them. These were set
afloat on the loch, and their projector thus describes some of the
most interesting results of his labours in a letter communicated to the
Earl of Buchan, the founder of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland,
shortly after its institution in 1780.

    "In the third year of my progress in dragging successfully
    great quantities of marl, now and then in the middle of the
    lake I met with large fragments of deer's horns of an uncommon
    magnitude. As my operations were proceeding northward, about
    one hundred and fifty yards from the verge of the lake next
    the King's Park, the people employed in dredging in places
    deeper than usual, after having removed the first surfaces of
    fat blackish mould, got into a bed of shell marl from five to
    seven feet deep, from which they brought up in the collecting
    leather bag a very weighty substance, which when examined as it
    was thrown into the marl boat, was a heap of swords, spears,
    and other lumps of brass, mixed with the purest of the shell
    marl. Some of the lumps of brass seemed as if half melted; and
    my conjecture is that there had been upon the side of the hill,
    near the lake, some manufactory for brass arms of the several
    kinds for which there was a demand."[271]

Rarely has a more interesting discovery been made, or one on an
equally extensive scale, illustrative of the Scottish Bronze Period.
Some of the most perfect and beautiful of these ancient weapons were
presented to His Majesty George III.; others, doubtless also among the
best specimens, were retained as family heirlooms, some of which were
afterwards given to Sir Walter Scott;[272] but the remainder, including
upwards of fifty pieces of swords, spear-heads, and fragments of other
weapons, most of them more or less affected by fire, were presented
to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and formed the very first
donation towards the founding of their valuable collection of national
antiquities. The royal gifts and nearly all the family heirlooms have
disappeared, but the whole of those presented to the Society still
remain in their Museum. The swords are of the usual leaf-shaped form,
with perforated handles, to which horn or wood has been attached. Some
of the larger broken spear-heads have been pierced with a variety of
ornamental perforations, and in addition to these there were bronze
rings and staples, similar to those found on various occasions with
other remains of the same period. The accompanying woodcut represents
one of these, measuring three inches in diameter, along with a larger
one in the Scottish Museum, which was found along with several bronze
celts and swords, on the estate of Kilkerran, Ayrshire, in 1846, and
more closely resembles the examples most frequently met with both in
style and dimensions.

[Illustration: Rings and Staples.]

The discovery of gigantic deer's horns and fragments of others along
with the weapons and masses of melted bronze, would seem to add to the
probability that some considerable manufacture of such weapons had
been carried on, at some remote period, on the margin of the loch,
and that these were collected for supplying them with handles. But
other relics besides those which speak to us of the ingenious arts
of the metallurgist, were dredged, along with the shell marl, from
the bottom of the loch. "There were likewise brought up," says Sir
Alexander Dick, "out of the same place with these brass arms, several
human skulls and bones, which had been undoubtedly long preserved in
the shell marl, which Dr. Monro and I examined very accurately, and
by their very black colour we concluded they had been immersed in the
marl for an immense time." Unfortunately neither the skulls nor the
horns have been preserved. In this, as in a thousand other instances,
we seek in vain for the minuter details that would confer so much value
on the vague glimpses of archæological truths scattered through old
periodicals, Statistical Accounts, and other unsatisfactory sources
of information. Here we might say, with tolerable confidence, lay the
manufacturer beside his tools. It becomes an interesting question to
know if the deer's horns exhibited marks of artificial cutting, as
this would go far to prove their use in the completion of the weapons
beside which they lay, and might further help us in forming an opinion
as to how they were applied. But still more, we would seek to learn if
these skulls corresponded with either of the old types of the tumuli,
or if they exhibited the later Celtic type intermediate between the
lengthened and shortened oval, and were characterized by superior
cerebral development such as their progress in the arts might lead
us to expect. It is possible that some record of these facts has
been preserved, since the skulls were submitted to one of the most
distinguished anatomists of his day; but I have failed to discover any
clue to such, after inquiries submitted both to Dr. Alexander Monro,
and to Professor Goodsir who now fills the Chair of Anatomy in the
University of Edinburgh.


[Illustration: Bronze Sword. Arthur Seat.]

Fully seventy years after the marl-dredgers had brought to light the
remarkable primitive relics buried beneath the alluvium at the bottom
of Duddingstone Loch, the Honourable Board of Commissioners of Her
Majesty's Woods and Forests determined on constructing a carriage-way
round the neighbouring Royal Park, which includes both Arthur Seat
and Salisbury Crags. In the progress of the necessary operations
for carrying this plan into execution, and while the workmen were
excavating the soil immediately above the singular group of basaltic
columns popularly styled "Samson's Ribs," they uncovered a sepulchral
deposit containing a cinerary urn, which was unfortunately broken to
fragments by a stroke of the workman's shovel. Further to the eastward
two, at least, and probably more bronze celts of large size were found,
along with a small drinking-cup, engraved on a subsequent page. Still
further to the east, almost directly above Duddingstone Loch--where the
magnificent "Queen's Drive" is carried along the steep side of the hill
at an elevation of nearly 300 feet above the level of the neighbouring
loch--two most beautiful and perfect leaf-shaped bronze swords were dug
up, in a bed of vegetable charcoal, but with no remains which would
indicate its having been a sepulchral deposit. The largest of the two
swords measures 26¼ inches long; the other 24¾ inches by 1¾
inches in greatest breadth. In other respects they entirely agree,
resembling in figure the usual form of this graceful weapon, as will
be observed from the annexed engraving of one of them. The swords and
the largest of the bronze celts, figured above, are now in the Museum
of the Society of Antiquaries. The other celt and the cup are in my
own possession; and as they were obtained from an Irish labourer, who
shewed no little reluctance to be questioned, it is extremely probable
that these are but a portion of the valuable treasures disclosed in
the course of the excavations. How many more may lie interred for the
gratification and instruction of future generations covered only by a
foot or two of soil!

It naturally becomes a question of considerable interest to us,--Are
these weapons, of beautiful and varied forms, the product of native
genius and skill? or were they brought hither by foreign conquerors, to
remain only as the evidences of national inferiority in arts and arms?
The question is one which no Briton can deem worthless; albeit we do
not esteem ourselves the pure lineal descendants of the Allophylian
aborigines, or of the primitive Celtæ, but, on the contrary, are
content to derive our peculiar modern national characteristics as the
product of mingled races of Picts, Scots, Romans, Tungrians and other
barbarian legionary colonists, Norwegians, Danes, Anglo-Saxons, and
Normans.[273] Such are indeed the strange and diverse elements which
make up the genealogy of the modern Scot. Nevertheless, his nationality
is not the less strong because he derives his inheritance from so
many sources; nor is his interest lessened in the aboriginal root. A
very simple theory has heretofore sufficed for the classification of
all Scottish, and, until very recently, of all British antiquities.
Whatever was rude and barbarous, such as unhewn standing stones and
monolithic circles, stone hammers and axes, and flint arrows, were
native and Druidical; whatever manifested skill, invention, or any
progress in the arts, was either Phœnician, Roman, or Danish! Britain,
it was tacitly assumed, was sunk in the lowest state of barbarism,
until humanized by the bloody missionaries of Roman civilisation. Such
ignorant assumption will no longer suffice.

Mr. Worsaae adopts an era extending over about eleven centuries for
the continuation of the Danish bronze period. From geological evidence
he arrives at the conclusion, which is not improbable, that bronze
weapons and implements were in use fully five centuries before the
Christian era. But that the Archaic Period continued so long after it,
when the neighbouring countries to the south were long familiar with
the common and more useful metal, and when the Norwegians, who, it is
acknowledged, appear never to have known a bronze period, were already
taking their position among the Scandinavian nations, preparatory to
making their piratical descents on the British shores, seems altogether
improbable and opposed to established truths.

No description furnished either by Julius Cæsar or any later classical
writer, of the weapons used by the native Britons of the first or
second century, in any degree corresponds with the familiar form of the
bronze sword so frequently found in the earlier tumuli.[274] Tacitus
describes the Caledonians as "a powerful warlike nation, using swords
large and blunt at the point (_sine mucrone_) and targets wherewith
they skilfully defend themselves against the Roman missiles." The
bronze leaf-shaped sword in no respect corresponds with this. It is a
short and small, though formidable weapon, and is not only designed
for thrusting rather than striking with,--as a heavy, blunt-pointed
sword could alone be used,--but was evidently adapted for a warfare in
which the chief tactics of the swordsman consisted in the bold thrust;
since no example of a bronze sword has ever been found with a guard,
that simple and most natural contrivance for defending the hand from
the downward stroke of the foe. With such unmistakable evidence before
us, the conclusion seems inevitable that the era of the bronze sword
had passed away ere the hardy Caledonian encountered the invading
legions of Rome. Nevertheless, while there is abundant evidence of the
native manufacture of the articles of the Bronze Period, there are no
less manifest traces of considerable intercourse throughout Europe
during this era, from the near resemblance discoverable in all the
bronze articles. The British bronze sword bears a general likeness to
those not only of Denmark, but of Gaul, Germany, and even of Italy and
Greece; but it has also its peculiar characteristics. It is broader
and shorter than the Danish bronze sword, swelling out more towards
the middle, so as to suggest the term _leaf-shaped_, by which it is
now distinguished. A very remarkable guide to the probable era of such
weapons in the south of Europe is furnished by a comparison of some
specimens of Hellenic fictile art with a beautiful vase discovered at
Vulci by the Prince of Canino, and described in the Archæologia[275]
by Mr. Samuel Birch. The same subject occurs on three vases, and has
been supposed to represent the quarrel of Agamemnon and Achilles. On
one, a Vulcian hydria of archaic style, a naked and bearded combatant
bears a leaf-shaped sword without a guard. On a second, a cylix of
later style from the Canino Collection, the combatants are armed with
leaf-shaped swords, but with guards; while on the beautiful vase which
Mr. Birch refers to as a specimen of Greek art contemporary with the
Orestes of Æschylus, the same scene occurs, but the assailant has
substituted for the primitive weapon a straight two-edged sword of
modern form. Such comparisons cannot be deemed without their value;
but independent of these, the variations in the bronze relics of the
same type suffice to prove that neither the British antiquities of
bronze were brought from Denmark, nor the Danish ones from Britain. The
handles of the British weapon especially appear to have been always of
wood or horn, while many are met with in Denmark with bronze handles,
ornamented with a peculiar pattern, and even sometimes inlaid with
gold, but all invariably without a guard.

Among an interesting collection of bronze weapons discovered near
Bilton, Yorkshire, in 1848, parts of two broken swords were found,
on which Mr. C. Moore Jessop makes the following observations:--"The
portions of swords have each been broken off a few inches down the
blade, thus leaving the metallic part of the handle entire; which has
been covered on both sides with horn or some similar substance, affixed
by rivets, which having become loose have allowed the horn to move
slightly each way, thus wearing away the metal. They have left evident
traces of the shape of the hilt, and likewise prove the weapons to have
been long in use."[276] Gordon engraves a fine bronze sword, twenty-six
inches long, which was found near Carinn, on the line of the wall of
Antoninus Pius, and deposited in the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh.
Its most remarkable feature is its handle, which is of brass, but after
examining the original, I am satisfied that the latter is a modern

It is especially worthy of note in relation to the makers and owners
of these swords, that the handles are invariably small. One of the
most marked ethnological characteristics of the pure Celtic race, in
contrast to the Teutonic, is the small hands and feet; a feature
so very partially affected by the mingling of Teutonic with the old
Celtic blood of Scotland, that many of the older basket-hilted Highland
swords will scarcely admit the hand of a modern Scotsman of ordinary
size. This has been observed in various primitive races, and is noted
by Mr. Stephens as characteristic of the ancient temple builders of
Yucatan. In describing the well-known symbol of the _red hand_, first
observed at Uxmal, Mr. Stephens remarks,--"Over a cavity in the mortar
were two conspicuous marks, which afterwards stared us in the face in
all the ruined buildings of the country. They were the prints of a red
hand, with the thumb and fingers extended, not drawn or painted, but
stamped by the living hand, the pressure of the palm upon the stone.
There was one striking feature about these hands--they were exceedingly
small. Either of our own spread over and completely hid them."[278]
This is another of the physical characteristics of the earlier races
well worthy of further note. While the delicate small hand and foot
are ordinarily looked upon as marks of high-breeding, and are justly
regarded as pertaining to the perfect beauty of the female form,
the opposite are found among the masculine distinctions of the pure
Teutonic races,--characteristic of their essentially practical and
aggressive spirit,--and are frequently seen most markedly developed in
the skilful manipulator and ingenious mechanician.

The spear-heads of this period are also marked by national distinctive
features; the exceedingly common British form, for example, with loops
to secure it to the shaft, being unknown in Denmark, and a variety of
pierced heads common in Scotland and Ireland being rarely or never
found in England. So it is with other varieties of weapons, implements,
and personal ornaments: some which are common in Denmark are unknown
here, or assume different forms; others with which we are familiar
are unknown to the Danish archæologist; while both are in like manner
distinguished from those of Germany, France, and the south of Europe.
The distinctive peculiarities may indeed be most aptly compared to
those which mark the various national developments of medieval art,
and give to each an individuality of character without impairing the
essential characteristics of the style. The extent of international
communication was only so much greater and more direct in the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries, than in those older centuries before the
Christian era, as to produce a more rapid interchange of thought and

This national individuality, accompanying such remarkable
correspondence to a common type, may therefore be assumed as justifying
the conclusion that some considerable intercourse must have prevailed
among the different races of Europe during that remote period to
which we refer; and hence we are led to assume an additional evidence
of early civilisation, while at the same time no sufficient proof
appears to point to such a sudden transition as necessarily to lead
to the conclusion that the bronze relics belong entirely to a new
people. On the contrary, the evidence of slow transition is abundantly
manifest. The metallurgic arts, and the models by which their earliest
application was guided, were in all probability introduced by a new
race, who followed in the wake of the older wanderers from the same
Eastern cradle-land of the human race. But the rude stone moulds,
the sand-cast celts and palstaves, and the relics of the primitive
forges in which they were wrought, all point to aboriginal learners
slowly acquiring the new art, while perhaps its originators were
introducing those works of beautiful form and great finish and delicacy
of workmanship, which the antiquary of the eighteenth century could
ascribe to none but the Roman masters of the world.

Mr. Worsaae remarks, after pointing out the correspondence, in many
respects, between the bronze relics of Denmark and those of other
countries of Europe, these "prove nothing more than that certain
implements and weapons had the same form among different nations."[279]
And again, "from these evidences it follows that the antiquities
belonging to the Bronze Period, which are found in the different
countries of Europe, can neither be attributed exclusively to the
Celts, nor to the Greeks, Romans, Phœnicians, Sclavonians, nor to the
Teutonic tribes. They do not belong to any one people, but have been
used by the most different nations at the same stage of civilisation;
and there is no historical evidence strong enough to prove that the
Teutonic people were in that respect an exception. The forms and
patterns of the various weapons, implements, and ornaments, are so
much alike, because such forms and patterns are the most natural and
the most simple. As we saw in the Stone Period how people at the
lowest stage of civilisation, by a sort of instinct, made their stone
implements in the same shape, so we see now, in the first traces of a
higher civilisation, that they exhibit in the mode of working objects
of bronze a similar general resemblance."[280] But are the forms and
patterns thus natural and simple? This argument, which abundantly
satisfies us as to the universal correspondence of the majority of
tools and weapons of the Stone Period, entirely fails when thus applied
to the works of the Bronze Period. The former are in most cases of the
simplest and most rudimentary character: the perforated oblong stone
for a hammer, the pointed flint for an arrow-head, and the longer edged
and pointed flint for a knife or spear. Human intelligence, in its most
barbarous state, suggests such simple devices with a universality akin
to the narrower instincts of the lower animals. They are, in truth,
mathematically demonstrable as the simplest shapes. But the beauty and
variety of form and decoration in the productions of the Bronze Period
bring them under a totally different classification. They are works of
art, and though undoubtedly exhibiting an indefiniteness peculiarly
characteristic of its partial development, are scarcely less marked
by novel and totally distinct forms than the products of the many
different classic, medieval, or modern schools of design. The form of
the leaf-shaped sword, indeed, is unsurpassed in beauty by any later
offensive weapon. We are justified, therefore, in assuming that the
general correspondence traceable throughout the productions of the
European Bronze Period, affords evidence of considerable international
intercourse having prevailed; while the peculiarities discoverable on
comparing the relics found in different countries of Europe compel
us to conclude that they are the products of native art, and not
manufactures diffused from some common source. We have already traced
them as pertaining to the infantile era of Greece, and may yet hope
to find them among the indications of primitive Asiatic population,
thereby supplying a new line of evidence in illustration of the
north-western migration of the human race, and probably also a means
of approximation towards the date of the successive steps by which the
later nomades advanced towards the coasts of the German Ocean.

In the former section numerous instances have been referred to of
the discovery of canoes belonging, by indisputable evidence, to the
Primeval Period. One example, at least, has been recorded of a ship
apparently belonging to the succeeding era of bronze, and which, both
in size and mode of construction, amply accords with the assumed
characteristics of the more advanced period, and with the idea of
direct intercourse with the continent of Europe. "In this town,"
(Stranraer,)says the old historian of Galloway, writing in 1683, "the
last year, while they were digging a water-gate for a mill, they
lighted upon a ship a considerable distance from the shore, unto which
the sea at the highest spring tides never comes. It was transversely
under a little bourn, and wholly covered with earth a considerable
depth; for there was a good yard, with kail growing in it, upon the
one end of it. By that part of it which was gotten out, my informers,
who saw it, conjecture that the vessel had been pretty large; they
also tell me that the boards were not joined together after the usual
fashion of our present ships or barks, as also that it had nailes
of copper."[281] Here we find remarkable evidence of progress. The
rude arts of the aboriginal seaman, by which he laboriously hollowed
the oaken trunk and adapted it for navigating his native seas, have
been superseded by a systematic process of ship-building, in which
the metallic tools sufficed to hew and shape the planks as well as
to furnish the copper fastenings by which they were secured. Vessels
thus constructed were doubtless designed for wider excursions than the
navigation of native estuaries and inland seas; nor must we assume,
because the records of ancient history have heretofore concentrated
our interest on the countries bordering on the Mediterranean, that
therefore the German Ocean and the British seas were a waste of
unpeopled waters, save, perhaps, when some rude canoe, borne beyond
its wonted shelter on the coasts, timorously struggled to regain the
shore. Enough has already been advanced to disabuse us of the fallacy,
that where no annals of a people have been preserved nothing worth
chronicling can have existed.

Much will be gained if faith can be established in the fact, that deeds
worth recording were enacted in Britain in these old times when no
other chronicler existed but the bard who committed to tradition his
unwritten history, and the more faithful mourner who entrusted to the
grave the records of his reverence or his love. Faith is required for
the honest and zealous study of the subject; but with this we doubt not
that many links will be supplied which are still wanting to complete
the picture of the past. This much, however, seems already established,
that at a period long prior to the first century of the Christian era
the art of working in metals was introduced into Britain, and gradually
superseded the rude primitive implements of stone. The intelligent
British savage, supplied with this important element of civilisation,
wrought and smelted the ores, melted and mixed the metals, formed
moulds, and improved on early and imperfect models, until he carried
the art to such perfection that even now we look upon his later bronze
works with admiration, and are hard to be persuaded that they are not
the creations of Phœnician or Roman, rather than of native British
civilisation prior to the introduction of letters.

How remote the origin of this transition-period of civilisation dates
we cannot as yet presume to say; but with our preconceived notions,
derived chiefly from an exclusively classical education, we are more
apt to err on the side of too modern than of too remote a date. Mr.
Worsaae, after discussing and rejecting the idea of a Roman origin
for the bronze relics of Denmark, adds,--"Nor in all probability have
these bronzes reached us from Greece, although, both with regard to
their form and ornaments, particularly the spiral ornaments, a greater
similarity appears to exist between those which occur in the north and
those found in the most ancient tombs of Greece. For independently of
the fact, that the latter have hitherto occurred but seldom, so that
our knowledge of them is extremely imperfect, they belong to so very
remote a period--1000 or 1400 years before the birth of Christ--that we
can by no means be justified in supposing that any active intercourse
then existed between countries so remote from each other."[282] But why
not? Active it might be, though indirect; or, what is equally likely,
both might derive their models from a common source--perhaps Phœnician,
the apparent source of Greek metallurgic art; perhaps from the older
regions of central Asia, whence both were sprung. We see, at least,
from evidence which appears to me incontrovertible, that at a much
more remote period a human population occupied the British Isles; and
we shall allow our judgments to be misled by very fallacious reasoning
if we conclude that they could not have attained to any degree of
civilisation at the period referred to, merely because no notice of
them occurs in the pages of classic writers. The Greeks and Romans
looked with contempt on all other nations. Partly from this national
pride, but still more perhaps from a want of that philological talent
peculiar to modern times, they gave little heed to the languages of
their most civilized contemporaries, and looked on their barbarian arts
and manners with contempt. Yet among the _barbarians_ of the Greeks we
must include the Egyptians, the Phœnicians, and the Hebrews; even as we
ourselves rank among the barbarians of the modern Chinese, whose annals
at most will tell of us as a roving race who first appeared in history
towards the end of the seventeenth century!

The civilisation of the British Bronze Period does not appear to have
been of so active a nature as to have produced any very rapid social
changes. It did not break up the isolated tribes of Britain, and unite
them into kingdoms or associated states. Its material element was never
so abundant as to admit of any such great contemporaneous development.
It was rather such a change as might slowly operate over many
centuries; and that it did so is rendered most probable by the many
relics of it which still remain. The Toltecans and Yucatecs of the New
World achieved much in their Bronze Period unknown to medieval Europe;
nor is it altogether impossible that even now, beyond the vast forests
so recently explored by Mr. Stephens, a native race may be found
practising arts akin to those of Montezuma's reign. Certain it is that
the British Bronze Period was passing away in the transition-state of a
later era when the Roman galleys first crossed the English Channel, and
from the last century B.C. we must reckon backward up to that remote
and altogether undetermined era, when the elder Stone Period passed by
slow transition into that of Bronze.


[265] Nineveh and its Remains, vol. i. p. 224.

[266] Martin's Western Isles. Lond. 1703, p. 208. The Glenlyon
brooch and the brooch of Lorn--worn according to the tradition of
the Macdougals, by Robert the Bruce, and still preserved in that
family--beautiful examples of this favourite Celtic ornament, are
engraved on Plates II. and III. The Lorn brooch corresponds in some
degree to the description in the text; and a common brass one, probably
of the seventeenth century, in the Collection of C. K. Sharpe, Esq.,
figured on a later page, furnishes a good example of native Celtic art.

[267] Travels in the Western Hebrides from 1782 to 1790. London, 1793,
p. 87.

[268] Ibid. p. 83.

[269] Kincardine Moss. General Append. Sinclair's Stat. Acc. vol. xxi.
p. 154.

[270] Archæol. Jour. vol. iii. p. 257.

[271] MS. Letter Book, vol. i. p. 43, 1780-1781, Libr. Soc. Antiq.
Scot. In a subsequent letter, (Ibid. p. 70,) Sir Alexander Dick
describes several very large deer's horns, in addition to the fragments
previously found. The results of a careful analysis of some of these
bronze relics are given in the succeeding chapter.

[272] They are figured in the Abbotsford Edition, vol. ii. p. 103.

[273] A curious illustration of the mixed stock of the Scottish
Lowlanders is furnished in a charter of Malcolm IV., which is addressed
to the bishops, abbots, priors, barons, and king's lieges in general,
whether French, English, Scots, or Galwegians, and describes the
inhabitants of the burgh of St. Andrews as Scots, French, Flemings, and
Englishmen.--_Lib. Cart. Prior. Sancti Andree_, p. 193.

[274] _Vide_ Biblio. Topog. Britan. vol. ii. Part 3, for a learned
controversy "On brass arms and other antiquities of Scotland," in
a series of letters between Sir John Clerk and Mr. Gale.--Reliquiæ
Galeanæ, pp. 226-232.

[275] Vol. xxxii. Plates IX. X. XII.

[276] Journal of Archæological Association, vol. v., p. 350.

[277] Itinerar. Septent., p. 118. Sir Robert Sibbald also engraves one
with a handle, perfect and more elegant than the former, but he gives
no description of it further than naming it a sword of brass.

[278] Stephens' Travels in Yucatan, vol. i. p. 178.

[279] Primeval Antiquities of Denmark, p. 41.

[280] Primeval Antiquities, p. 138.

[281] "A large Description of Galloway, by Mr. Andrew Symson," p. 83.
App. vol. ii. Hist. of Galloway from the earliest period to the present
time. Kirkcudbright, 1841.

[282] Primeval Antiquities of Denmark, p. 41.



Among the various means of arriving at definite truths in relation to
primitive works in metal, that of chemical analysis has not been lost
sight of, and a number of ascertained results are now on record. Before
proceeding to examine in detail the relics of this second period, it
will be useful to glance at the bearings of this branch of scientific
evidence on the general question.

It may now be received as an established fact, that the manufactures
of this period consist entirely of bronze and not of brass--that is,
of an alloy of copper and tin, and not of copper and zinc; but also
including other metals, and especially a proportion of lead, in some
examples exceeding the quantity of tin present. Even among the Romans
we have abundant evidence that the alloy of copper and zinc was rarely
used, although it is now known to be both more economical, and easier
to work into a variety of forms. Mr. Worsaae, after remarking on the
resemblance observable among the weapons, implements, and ornaments
of bronze found in various countries, both in the north and south
of Europe, adds,--"They have all been cast in moulds, and the metal
is of the same composition--nine-tenths copper, and one-tenth tin.
From this there would be farther reason to suppose that they all
originated with one people."[283] This country, as has been already
shewn, he elsewhere supposes may be England. From a careful examination
and comparison of the antiquities themselves, however, the Danish
archæologist is led to the conclusion that the bronze objects were
manufactured in the various countries of Europe, where they are now
found, and that only the metal was imported from some common centre.
The same idea appears at one period to have been adopted by the Rev.
Dr. Robinson, an Irish archæologist still more distinguished for his
devotion to astronomical science than for his intelligent elucidation
of antiquarian investigations; but the results of more extended
observation, communicated by him to the Royal Irish Academy in 1848,
shew that he was ultimately led to a different conclusion. Minute
examination of the bronzes themselves will be found to throw fully as
much doubt on the probability of a common origin for the mixed metal,
as for the weapons into which it has been fashioned. The difference
even in colour and texture is very great, and in some cases still only
imperfectly accounted for. Many of the bronze weapons found both in
Scotland and Ireland, are of a bright yellow colour, like brass, or
rather resembling gilded metal; it does not tarnish, and, on analysis,
is found to contain no zinc. Others are more of a copper colour,
also little liable to tarnish or corrode; while a third quality, if
polished, rapidly resumes a dark and nearly black colour, and is
frequently found covered with verd antique. To the first of these the
term _Celtic brass_ is often applied, though it is in common use for
all the varieties of primitive bronze. Analysis of these relics by no
means bears out the idea of any uniform system of combination of the
pure metals, or of their being derived from a single source in the form
of bronze. The variations in the proportionate admixture of the metals
were indeed necessarily confined within a limited range, especially in
the manufacture of weapons. It did not require any mutual intercourse
between the old Scandinavian and British armourer to teach them the
most useful combinations of the new alloy. If the sword or spear proved
either too ductile or too brittle for use, it would be consigned anew
to the furnace, with such additions to the mixed metals as experience
must soon suggest. The same would hold good even if we suppose that,
as Cæsar affirms, the Britons used imported bronze, (_ære utuntur
importato_.) Whether the tin and copper were mixed by Phœnician, Roman,
or British metallurgists, similar proportional combinations of the
two would necessarily be the result of experience. It will be seen,
however, that the "Celtic brass" of British archæologists is neither
invariably composed of exactly the same proportions of tin and copper,
nor even solely of these two metals.

One of the most elaborate and valuable reports published on this
subject is contained in a communication read to the Royal Society of
London, June 9, 1796, and printed in the Philosophical Transactions
of that year. It is entitled, "Observations on some metallic arms and
utensils, with experiments to determine their composition," by George
Pearson, M.D., F.R.S. His experiments were both analytic and synthetic,
and consequently enable us to trace the probable experience of the
primitive metallurgist, before he had ascertained the most useful
proportions of the metals for practical purposes. Copper, we know,
is not unfrequently found native in its metallic state, and fit for
immediate use. Tin, though never found in this state, occurs in England
in the same locality with the copper, and often near the surface. It
might, therefore, even accidentally be combined with the former metal.
The fact of the two possessing, when in combination, the requisite
hardness for domestic or warlike purposes which neither of them has
when alone, appears to have been ascertained at a very remote period.
In addition to this indispensable property, the combination possesses
the valuable qualities of being more readily fusible and continuing
longer in the fluid state. Hence the mixture of two of the metals most
readily accessible to the native Briton greatly facilitated all his
other operations.

The synthetic experiments of Dr. Pearson furnish the following results
applicable to the present argument:--The bronze relics submitted
to analysis and comparison consisted--1. of a lituus, or musical
wind-instrument, found in the river Witham, Lincolnshire, in 1768; 2.
A spear-head of the common unperforated form, "made of cast metal, as
appears from its rough surface, figure, texture, and grain.... It is
open grained almost as copper, and porous, as if made of bad metal, of
a blackish-brown or dark-grey colour;" 3. A sauce-pan, (Anglo-Roman
patella,) also made of cast metal, open grained, impressed on the
handle with a stamp, C. ARAT.; 4. A bronze scabbard, with a sword of
iron within it, thought to be Danish; and, 5. Three celts, (Nos. 1
and 3, what we now term axe-heads, No. 2 an axe-shaped palstave,) all
found in the bed of the river Witham. In his comparative experiments
Dr. Pearson fused fifty grains of tin with 1000 grains of copper;
_i.e._, one part of tin to twenty parts of copper. The result, when
polished, differed in shade of colour from that of the celt metals,
being much darker--a point not unworthy of note in determining some of
the characteristics of primitive bronze relics. Its fracture shewed a
colour inclining to the peculiar red of copper. One hundred grains of
tin united by fusion with 1500 grains of copper; _i.e._, one part of
the former to fifteen parts of the latter, resembled the celt metals,
Nos. 1 and 2 in colour, polished surface, grain and brown colour of
the fracture, the red of the copper being no longer apparent. It was
stronger than the celt metals, but not so hard, while it was harder
than the spear-head and the patella. No very remarkable differences are
observable in the experiments of the combinations of twelve, ten, nine,
and eight parts of copper with one of tin. When, however, the copper
is reduced to seven parts to one of tin, the increase in hardness
and brittleness becomes very apparent, while the alloy is decidedly
paler in colour. The same characteristics were still more marked on
successively reducing the proportions of copper to seven, six, five,
four, and three; and when an alloy was made of two parts of copper
with one part of tin, it "was as brittle almost as glass." It is not
difficult, from these results, to imagine the process pursued by the
old worker in bronze, who, having ascertained that he could harden his
copper by alloying it with tin, would not fail to diminish the added
quantities of the latter till he had secured an efficient practical
admixture for the purposes of his manufacture, in which it is apparent,
from the above results, that no very great nicety of apportionment
of the ingredients was required. The most fit proportions for the
manufacture of weapons and tools Dr. Pearson considers to be one part
of tin to nine parts of copper.

The result of a comparison of numerous analyses of primitive bronze
relics will, I think, lead to the conclusion that their correspondence
is not greater than might be anticipated to arise from the experience
acquired by isolated workers, when dealing with the same metals, with
similar objects in view, while the frequent presence of other metals
besides tin and copper may, in the majority of cases, be accepted as
additional proof of the unsystematic processes of the old metallurgist;
though in some instances we may trace, in the adaptation to a special
purpose, the evidence of design.

The results of Dr. Pearson's analytic experiments are as follows:--

_The Lituus_ contained a little more than twelve per cent. of tin;
_i.e._, about one part of tin to seven and a half parts of copper.
Specific gravity, (_before melting_,) 8.3.

_The Spear-head_; fourteen per cent. of tin, or somewhat less than one
part of tin to six parts of copper; in addition to which it contained
the proportion of fifteen grains of silver in a troy pound of the mixed
metal. Specific gravity, 7.795.

_The Patella_; a little more than fourteen per cent. of tin, or about
one part of tin and six parts of copper. Specific gravity, 7.960.

_Bronze Scabbard_; a little more than ten per cent. of tin, or about
one part of tin to nine parts of copper. Specific gravity, 8.5.

_Celts_, Nos. 1 and 2; a little more than nine per cent. of tin, or
about one part of tin to ten parts of copper. Specific gravity, No. 1,
8.780; No. 2, 8.680; No. 3, a little more than twelve per cent. of tin,
or about one part of tin to seven and a half parts of copper. Specific
gravity, (_after melting_,) 8.854.

In the month of August 1816, some labourers employed in lowering the
road on the top of a small eminence, called Huckeridge Hill, near
Sawston, Cambridgeshire, discovered the remains of a human skeleton,
at the feet of which stood two large bronze vessels. On the left side
of the skeleton were also found an iron sword greatly corroded, and
fragments of a very coarse urn, half an inch in thickness. The rim
of the largest bronze vessel was ornamented with a row of bosses,
indented from the under side. Dr. Clarke, Professor of Mineralogy
in the University of Cambridge, subjected portions of the bronze to
analysis, and communicated the result to the Society of Antiquaries
of London. The conclusion he arrived at was, that they consisted of
88/100 of copper with 12/100 of tin, or about one part of tin to seven
and a half parts of copper. Dr. Clarke also assigns exactly the same
proportions of copper and tin as constituting the bronze coinage of
Antoninus Pius, and of his successor Marcus Aurelius; which it will be
seen correspond with those of the lituus and one of the celts analyzed
by Dr. Pearson. The process adopted by the former, however, in the
chemical analysis of those bronzes is much less satisfactory than that
of Dr. Pearson, as he appears to have assumed the absence of all other
metals, and sought only for copper and tin.[284] A bronze sword, found
in France, proved on analysis to contain 87.47 parts of copper to 12.53
of tin in every 100 parts, with a portion of zinc so small as not to be
worth noticing, or capable of affecting the bronze.[285] The analyses
of various specimens of antique bronze, including a helmet with an
inscription, found at Delphi, and now in the British Museum, some nails
from the Treasury of Atreus at Mycenæ, an ancient Corinthian coin, and
a portion of a breastplate or cuirass of exquisite workmanship, also
in the British Museum, are stated to have afforded about eighty-seven
or eighty-eight parts copper to about twelve or thirteen of tin per

In the communication of Dr. Robinson to the Royal Irish Academy,
previously referred to, he laid before that body a report of a most
valuable discovery made about eighteen years since in King's County.
It consisted of a large bronze vessel, which contained, in addition
to various relics acquired by the late Dean of St. Patrick's and
other individuals, thirteen litui or trumpets of bronze, the largest
having their seams rivetted; thirty-one bronze celts of different
sizes; twenty-nine spear-heads; three gouges; and thirty-one bells,
believed to be for sheep or cattle--all of bronze. The account of this
remarkable discovery had been reserved for sixteen years, owing to the
strange suspiciousness of the Irish peasants by whom it was found, who
imposed on the purchaser the promise of keeping the details secret
during their lives. The last of them died in the winter of 1848, and
then he felt himself at liberty to communicate the particulars which
Dr. Robinson laid before the Academy.

    "The vessel, which is now in the collection of the Earl of
    Rosse, was found in the townland marked Dooros Heath, in sheet
    30 of the Ordnance Map of King's County, near Whigsborough,
    in what appears from the description to have been a piece
    of cut-out bog, about eighteen inches below the surface. It
    is composed of two pieces neatly connected by rivets. The
    bronze of which the sheets are formed possesses considerable
    flexibility, but is harder than our ordinary brass, and it
    must have required high metallurgic skill to make them so thin
    and uniform. On the other hand, it is singular that neither in
    this or any other bronze implements with which I am acquainted,
    are there any traces of the art of soldering; if it might be
    supposed objectionable in vessels exposed to heat, yet in
    musical instruments this would not apply. Such vessels have
    often been found, but the contents of this are peculiar. When
    discovered (without any cover) it seemed full of marl, on
    removing which it was found to contain an assortment of the
    instruments which may be supposed most in request among the
    rude inhabitants of such a country as Ireland must have been
    at that early epoch.... It seems likely that the collection
    was the stock of a travelling merchant, who, like the pedlar
    of modern times, went from house to house provided with the
    commodities most in request, and it is easily imagined that if
    entangled in a bog with so heavy a load, a man must relinquish

    "This is connected with another question, the source from which
    the ancient world was supplied with the prodigious quantity of
    bronze arms and utensils which we know to have existed. This
    caught my imagination many years since, and I then analyzed
    a great variety of bronzes, with such uniform results that I
    supposed this identity of composition was evidence of their all
    coming from the same manufactures. Afterwards I found that the
    peculiar properties of the atomic compound already referred
    to are sufficiently distinct to make any metallurgist who was
    engaged in such a manufacture select it. It also appears to me
    more permanent in the crucible."

Dr. Robinson states that this alloy, when used for weapons, is a
constant chemical compound containing fourteen equivalents of copper
and one of tin, or nearly eighty-eight parts of the former and twelve
of the latter by weight. But no account is given by him of the process
of analysis, and the results justify the supposition that in these
experiments, as in those of Dr. Clarke of Cambridge, he had assumed the
absence of all other metals, and sought only for copper and tin.[287]
Notwithstanding the opinions quoted above, Dr. Robinson still inclines,
on other grounds, to the conclusion that we are justified in tracing
the bronze to some common source, and this he conceives to be the
Phœnicians. In all the weapons and implements the points are entire and
sharp, and the edges unbroken. The spear-heads are the most remarkable
as specimens of workmanship. They are of various sizes, and of great
diversity of pattern, and also have their points and edges perfect
as if they had never been used. They prove, as Dr. Robinson remarks,
not only that the workmen who made them were masters of the art of
casting, but also that they possessed high mechanical perceptions;
their productions shewing a skilful adaptation of the material to the
end in view. These indications appear to him to confirm the idea of
their derivation from some foreign source. "Yet," he also adds, "in
many of them the colour of the bronze is such as, at first sight, to
excite a suspicion that they were gilded." This has already been noted
as a peculiarity observed hitherto almost exclusively in the primitive
bronze relics of Scotland and Ireland, and even there occurring in
greatest abundance in certain districts. Dr. Petrie observed, at the
meeting of the Academy, that all the bronze relics found in King's
County have the characteristic golden tinge referred to, and added
that the number of beautiful moulds for hatchets and other implements
of warfare found from time to time in Ireland, prove that the ancient
Irish understood the art of manufacturing bronze instruments such as
those discovered in the vessel found at Dooros Heath.

With the desire of testing as far as possible the exact bearing of the
chemical evidence on this interesting inquiry in relation to relics of
the Scottish Bronze Period, I obtained permission from the Council of
the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland to submit various specimens of
bronze in the Society's collection to chemical analysis. The results
will be found to differ very remarkably from that ideal uniformity
which has been supposed to establish the conclusion of some single
common origin for the metal, if not indeed for the manufactured weapons
and implements. The experiments have been made in the laboratory
and under the directions of my brother, Dr. George Wilson, whose
acknowledged experience as an analyst is sufficient guarantee for the
accuracy of the results. In these analyses it will be seen that the
presence of lead has been detected in every instance in greatly varying
quantities, but in two of the examples exceeding the tin.

Five of the examples were selected from specimens in the Museum of
the Society of Antiquaries, the sixth (No. 4) is an axe in my own
possession.[288] They are arranged according to the quantity of copper
present in each. No. 1 is a piece of a large bronze cauldron found
in the neighbourhood of Lauder, Berwickshire. The chief portions of
it, which still remain in the Scottish Museum, appear to have been
partially melted by excessive heat, so as to make a large hole in
the side of the vessel, and above this a thin plate of metal has
been rudely rivetted to repair the injury. No. 2 is a piece of a
leaf-shaped sword dredged out of Duddingstone Loch near Edinburgh;
No. 3, part of one of the large bronze vessels usually styled Roman
camp-kettles, found at Huntly Wood, near West Gordon, Berwickshire;
No. 4, an axe-head in my own possession, which was found in draining
a field near the village of Pentland, Mid-Lothian. This was of the
bright yellow metal so common in the earlier bronze relics of Scotland
and Ireland, and of the very rudest workmanship, having apparently
been cast in sand. It was full of air-holes, and only ground at the
edge like the most primitive axe-heads of flint. Its specific gravity,
however, it will be observed, is high, so that it must have been
hammered in order to give firmness and consistency to the imperfect
results of the crucible and mould. No. 5 is a piece of a bronze
cauldron dredged up from Duddingstone Loch, which appears, like
other large vessels of this period, to have had bronze rings attached
to it for suspension, one of which has been figured on a previous
page, from the original in the Scottish Museum. No. 6 is one of the
implements to which the name of Palstave is now given. It was found
in the parish of Denino, Fifeshire, and appears to have been very
imperfectly cast--probably in loam. Like the axe-head No. 4, it was
rough and full of air-holes, while from its peculiar form it could not
be subjected to the after-process of hammering. Its specific gravity
is accordingly unusually small. The examples, it will be seen, present
every requisite of variety, including weapons, implements, and vessels,
from Fife, Mid-Lothian, and Berwickshire, selected solely as furnishing
a comprehensive diversity in the elements of comparison. The following
are the results of the analyses and the description of the process by
which they were obtained, nearly the whole of the experiments having
been repeated several times:--

                     ANALYSES OF ANCIENT BRONZES.

  |                  |No. 1. |No. 2. |No. 3. |No. 4. |No. 5. |No. 6. |
  |Copper,           | 92.89 | 88.51 | 88.22 | 88.05 | 84.08 | 81.19 |
  |Tin,              |  5.15 |  9.30 |  5.63 | 11.12 |  7.19 | 18.31 |
  |Lead,             |  1.78 |  2.30 |  5.88 |  0.78 |  8.53 |  0.75 |
  |                  +-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
  |                  | 99.82 |100.11 | 99.73 | 99.95 | 99.80 |100.25 |
  |Loss,             |  0.18 |  ···  |  0.27 |  0.05 |  0.20 |  ···  |
  |Gain,             | ···   |  0.11 |  ···  |  ···  |  ···  |  0.25 |
  |                  +-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
  |                  |100.   |100.   |100.   |100.   |100.   |100.   |
  |                  +-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+
  |Specific Gravity, |  6.37 |  6.23 |  6.77 |  8.27 |  7.75 |  6.16 |

    "These bronzes were first carefully qualitatively analyzed,
    and found to consist of copper, tin, and lead. Zinc, bismuth,
    antimony, and silver were carefully sought for, but could not
    be found. It is probable, however, that a minute trace of the
    last metal, too small to admit of detection, was present, not,
    however, as an artificial addition to the alloy, but as a
    natural accompaniment of the lead.

    "In the quantitative analysis, a weighed portion of the bronze
    was digested in nitric acid, which dissolved the copper and
    lead, and converted the tin into the insoluble white peroxide.
    This was collected on a filter, carefully washed, dried,
    and weighed, after the filter had been burned. The filtered
    solution containing the copper and the lead was then evaporated
    to dryness along with a portion of sulphuric acid, which
    converted the lead into the insoluble sulphate of that metal.
    This was collected on a filter, treated like the oxide of tin,
    and weighed. The solution of copper which passed through the
    filter was precipitated by solution of caustic potass added in
    excess, and kept at the boiling point till the oxide of copper
    became dark brown. It was then collected on a filter, washed
    with boiling water, and weighed after the combustion of the

    "The number obtained by adding together the quantities of
    copper, tin, and lead exceeds that of the quantity of bronze
    taken in the second and sixth analysis. The increase is marked
    as excess, and is subtracted from the added numbers, so as to
    reduce their sum to 100. It should probably be deducted from
    the copper, which in the state of oxide is not easily deprived
    of the whole of the potass employed to precipitate it, and is
    liable, moreover, to retain a little moisture even when it
    appears quite dry. The presence, accordingly, of potass or
    water, or both, increases the apparent weight of the copper.
    As the excess, however, amounts in the one case only to
    11/10,000th of the weight of the bronze analyzed, and in the
    other to 25/10,000th of it, it does not materially influence
    the result, whether as deducted from the entire alloy, or only
    from the copper."

To this chemical evidence I am able, through the kindness of Mr. Bell
of Dungannon, to add the following results of an analysis recently made
for him by Professor Davy of portions of two leaf-shaped bronze swords
found in Ireland:--

                       "No. 1.--_Very brittle._

                    Copper,                   88.63
                    Tin,                       8.54
                    Lead and Iron,             2.83

    The lead and iron in this alloy are most likely impurities in
    copper and tin.

                    No. 2.--_Much more malleable._

                    Copper,                   83.50
                    Lead,                      8.35
                    Tin,                       5.15
                    Iron,                      3.00

    The iron in this alloy is probably an impurity in the other

These are not the only instances in which the presence of iron has
been ascertained in Irish bronze swords. In 1774 Governor Pownall laid
before the Society of Antiquaries of London an account of some Irish
antiquities, including two bronze swords found in a bog at Cullen,
county Tipperary. In the communication he remarks,--"That the Society
might have a precise and philosophic description of the metal, I
applied to the Master of the Mint; and by his direction Mr. Alchorn,
His Majesty's Assay-master, made an accurate assay of the metal. 'It
appears,' he says, 'to be chiefly copper, interspersed with particles
of iron, and perhaps some zinc, but without containing either gold
or silver. It seems probable that the metal was cast in its present
state, and afterwards reduced to its proper figure by filing. The
iron might either have been obtained with the copper from the ore,
or added afterwards in the fusion, to give the necessary rigidity
of a weapon. But I confess myself unable to determine anything with
certainty.'"[289] The analysis here appears to have been merely
qualitative; and from the indefinite reference to the possible presence
of zinc, it cannot be assumed to have been made with great strictness.
The presence of iron, however, may be assumed as undoubted, whether it
was the result of accident or design.

One important result which these experiments furnish is, that the
composition of the mixed metal of the Bronze Period indicates no such
uniformity as might be anticipated in manufactures derived entirely
from one source; but, on the contrary, that different examples of it
belonging to the same period exhibit all the degrees of variation that
might be expected in the work of isolated manufacturers, very partially
acquainted with the chemical properties of the standard compound, and
guided, for the most part, by the practical experience of the result
of their labours. The variations in the proportions of the elements
of the bronze are obviously such as to preclude all comparison with
any ancient type. In regard to the favourite theory of Phœnician
origin for these relics comparison is impossible, as we possess no
authentic remains of Phœnician art. An analysis of Egyptian bronze
relics, however, would furnish interesting results in regard to the
ancient metallurgic arts practised in the countries bordering on the
Mediterranean. Such arts, however, were by no means confined to the few
ancient historic races, among whom the Tyrians and Phœnicians generally
rank the foremost for skill in the working of metals. The Turditani,
a tribe occupying the province of Andalusia, in Spain, are described
by Polybius as related to the Celtæ, though Dr. Prichard conceives it
more probable that they were of Iberian than of Celtic kindred.[290]
They are stated to have been the most learned and polished people in
Spain. They had books, poems, and laws composed in verse, and boasted
of a knowledge of the use of letters for 6000 years. It is said of this
people, that when the Carthaginians made an expedition into Spain they
found the Turditani possessed of furniture and vessels of silver, and
far advanced in wealth and luxury. It is not, therefore, indispensable
that Irish antiquaries should trace their metallurgic arts to a
Phœnician source, when a country so much nearer their own, and with
which many of their historic traditions indicate an early intercourse,
was in possession of similar arts at so remote a period.

The other point of greatest importance brought out in the above
analyses is the uniform presence of lead, though in greatly varying
quantities; amounting in the palstave to only 75/10,000; while in the
cauldron dredged from Duddingstone Loch, along with leaf-shaped swords,
perforated spear-heads, &c., it exceeds the whole tin present in the
compound; amounting to 8.53 per cent. of the whole. Lead is known to
have been used by the Romans in a similar manner, possibly from motives
of economy, as in their brass coinage, in which the antiquary has long
been familiar with the presence of this metal.[291] It is also worthy
of special note how greatly all the ingredients of No. 2 and No. 5
vary in proportion, though both were found together, and undoubtedly
belong to the same period. Possibly the very marked difference in the
proportion of the alloys may prove to be the result of design, as the
only other example at all resembling the Duddingstone cauldron, No.
5, is the so-called Roman camp-kettle, No. 3, from Berwickshire. The
difference between them is considerable, but in both the quantity of
lead present is greater than of tin. No such conclusion, however, can
by any possibility be assumed in reference to the weapons analyzed by
Professor Davy. These were both swords, similar in form, and designed
for the same purpose; yet in one the proportion of lead present
greatly exceeds that of tin, while in the other it is so small as to
suggest the possibility of its presence being accidental. A greatly
more limited scale of variations would afford evidence enough to
establish the certainty of a local and independent manufacture carried
on throughout the Bronze Period, by numerous native metallurgists
possessed of just such an amount of crude practical skill as sufficed
to render the new material available for their use.


[283] Primeval Antiquities, p. 137.

[284] Archæologia, vol. xviii. p. 343.

[285] Mongez, Mém. de l'Instit.

[286] Article _Bronze_, Penny Cyclopædia, vol. v. p. 468.

[287] The extracts from Dr. Robinson's interesting communication
are copied from a report of the Second Meeting of the Royal Irish
Academy, session 1848-9, in Freeman's Dublin Journal. From the length
of the report, its minuteness, and explanatory footnotes, it appears
to have been furnished by the author; but like all newspaper reports
of scientific proceedings, it must be liable to errors for which the
author is not responsible. From a personal opportunity courteously
afforded me, during the meeting of the British Association at Edinburgh
this year, of consulting Dr. Robinson on the subject, I learned that
the uniformity of results in his analyses was only comparative, and
that lead had not been tested for.

[288] It may be proper to add, that in selecting specimens of native
bronze implements from the Scottish collection for the purpose of
analysis, no difficulty was found in obtaining broken fragments
suitable for the purpose, without destroying any perfect example of
primitive art.

[289] Archæologia, vol. iii. p. 355.

[290] Prichard's Hist. of Mankind, vol. ii. p. 92.

[291] Biblio. Topog. Britan. vol. ii. p. 303.



The works of the Bronze Period possess an entirely new and distinct
source of interest from those which preceded them, in so far as
they exhibit not only the skill and ingenuity which is prompted by
necessity, but also the graceful varieties of form and decoration which
give evidence of the pleasurable exercise of thought and fancy. Were
we indeed to select the most perfect and highly finished productions
resulting from the knowledge of working in metals, and to place these
alongside of the best works of the Stone Period, we could hardly avoid
the conclusions, already adopted by northern archæologists, that the
works in metal belong to an entirely new and distinct race.[292] A
more careful investigation, however, tends greatly to modify such
conclusions in regard to the British bronze remains. Independently
of the probable presence of Allophylian races in Britain prior
to the earliest arrival of the Celtæ--which the evidence already
adduced of the very remote period to which the existence of a human
population must be assigned seems alone sufficient to determine in
the affirmative--there can be no doubt that stone implements were
in use even within the Celtic era, and that it was not by an abrupt
substitution but by a gradual transition that they were entirely
displaced by those of metal. Reference has already been made to some
striking indications of this in the various moulds which have been
discovered from time to time in the British Isles. It is still more
obvious in the numerous examples of weapons and tools. When classified
on the same simple and natural principle which induces us to recognise
the Stone Period as prior to that of bronze, we detect the evidences
of a slow and very gradual change, and discover the link which unites
the two periods as in regular and orderly succession. In the earliest
bronze axes the form of their prototype in stone is repeated with
little or no variation. Both are equally deficient in any stop-ridge,
loop, or perforation to facilitate the securing of them to a handle;
and we cannot avoid recognising in the latter the new materials in the
hands of the old worker in stone. Another and no less suggestive class
of illustrative examples of this transition-period may be detected
in the stone implements occasionally discovered, obviously made in
imitation of bronze weapons. Mr. G. V. Dunoyer remarks in a valuable
article on bronze celts,[293] in referring to a stone axe in the Museum
of the Royal Irish Academy, very closely resembling the simplest form
of bronze axe,--"So remarkable is this similarity, that it is possible
to suppose this class of weapon to be the last link between the rude
wedge-shaped stone celt and that of bronze; or in it we may perceive an
attempt to revert to the old material, improving the form after that
of the earliest metal implement." It is perhaps still more legitimate
to infer from it the scarcity of the metals at this early period
compelling the axe-maker, while adopting the newer models, to retain
the only material at his command.

Much learned and very profitless controversy has been carried on
respecting the weapons of the Bronze Period. The archæological works
of last century and of the early years of the present century, abound
with elaborate demonstrations of the correspondence of celts and
spear-heads to the Roman securis, hasta, and pilum. It may be doubted
if some of the more recent attempts to determine the exact purpose
for which each variety of bronze implement was designed tend to much
more satisfactory results. When it is considered that the most expert
and sagacious archæologist would probably be puzzled to determine the
purpose of one-half the tools of a modern carpenter or lock-smith, it
is surely assuming too much, when he stumbles on the hoarded weapons
and implements of the old Briton, who has reposed underneath his
monumental tumulus, with all the secrets of his craft buried with him,
for full two thousand years, to pretend to more than a very general
determination of their uses. Much mischief indeed is done in the
present stage of the science by such attempts at "being wise above that
which is written." These relics are our written records of the old
ages, and it is well that we should avoid bringing their chroniclings
into discredit by forcing on them an interpretation they will not
legitimately bear.

The capabilities of the new material introduced to the old workers
in stone, were pregnant with all the elements of progress, and one
of the most interesting features belonging to the Archaic Period is
the gradual development of skill, inventive ingenuity, and artistic
decorative fancy, in the series of bronze weapons and implements. The
following examples found in Scotland, while they serve to illustrate
this feature of progressive improvement, may also in some degree
help towards the establishment of a fixed nomenclature; the want of
which renders so many "Statistical" and other accounts of important
discoveries utterly useless for all practical purposes.

The following is an attempt to define such a system of classification
as the Scottish examples naturally admit of, assuming every additional
improvement, complexity, or ornamentation as evidence of progress, and
therefore of work of a later date.[294]

CLASS I. consists of bronze implements made apparently in imitation
of the older ones of stone, and to which the name of Celt-axes may
therefore be very consistently applied. Of these a very primitive
specimen in the Scottish Museum is little more than an imperfectly
squared oblong piece of yellow bronze, or "Celtic brass," full of
air-holes, and evidently cast in sand. It was found in the Moss of
Cree, near Wigtown, in Galloway. The analysis of another nearly similar
to this, and found a few miles from Edinburgh, has been given in the
previous chapter. To this class also have belonged the implements
cast in the polygonal stone mould now in Belfast.[295] The simplicity
of the mould completely corresponds with the primitive character
of the manufactures in which it was employed; the axe-heads having
been fashioned merely by pouring the melted metal into the exposed
indentation in the stone, as the previous examples were moulded in an
impression in sand.

CLASS II.--In this group may with considerable propriety be placed
a peculiar class of bronze axes, of comparatively rare occurrence
in Scotland, and apparently unknown in English collections, though
frequently met with in Ireland. To these I would propose to apply the
name of Spiked Axe. The accompanying woodcut, which represents one
found along with other bronze relics at Strachur, Argyleshire, will
convey a better idea of the peculiar characteristics of the second
class of axes than any description. It might be taken for the normal
type of the medieval battle-axe, which the mail-clad knights of the
thirteenth century bore at their saddle-bow. The few examples met with
almost invariably exhibit the same uniformity of thickness throughout,
accompanied with an imperfect adaptation for hafting, so as to leave us
in little doubt as to the true place of the spiked axe, first in order
after its simpler prototype.



CLASS III. consists of axe-heads, not greatly dissimilar in general
form to those of the first class, but larger, and exhibiting manifest
evidence of the improvements of experienced workmen. For these the
term Axe-blades, plain or incised, appears most suitable. They are
sometimes finished with a broad flange along the sides, thereby
securing at once economy of material with lightness and strength; and
are, oftener than any other bronze relics, decorated with incised
ornamental patterns corresponding to those which occur on the pottery
of the same period. This kind of ornamentation, though frequently
executed with considerable taste, presents a striking contrast to the
graceful mouldings and perforations of the more advanced period. It
appears to have been produced in the most simple manner, by striking
the surface with a punch, sometimes (as in an example in the Scottish
Museum, which measures 5¾ inches long) with no very marked attempt
at a definite pattern. Other, however, are characterized by much more
taste and evidences of design. The very fine specimen figured here,
from a drawing by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, Bart., is like the former,
of bright yellow metal. It was discovered in the year 1818, a few
inches below the surface on the Moor of Sluie, and not far from the
river Findhorn, Morayshire. Various interesting relics have been found
in this locality. In the month of March, of the same year, a cist was
uncovered on the moor, within which lay a bronze spear-head of the
primitive type, 11¼ inches in length, and perforated with four
holes for attaching it to a handle. The point is considerably corroded
and imperfect, and was apparently above an inch longer when complete:
beside it lay two unusually large bronze celt-axes, about half an inch
thick, and six inches long. Drawings and a description of these were
communicated to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland at the time
of their discovery, by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, and are now preserved
among the Society's MSS. Various examples of similarly ornamented
axe-blades, in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy, are engraved in
the fourth volume of the Archæological Journal. A very beautiful and
unique specimen, found in the county of Tipperary in 1843, and now in
the collection of the British Museum, is figured in the sixth volume
of the same Journal.[296] An English engraved axe-blade, of analogous
type, found near Clare, in Suffolk, along with eighteen others of
various sizes, and with several similarly ornamented, is figured in
the Archæologia;[297] and a few other examples of this rare class of
primitive decorated weapons, from various localities, are preserved in
the British Museum. These incised lines are supposed by many to have
been designed for use as well as ornament, and several allusions, by
ancient Irish writers, to the employment of poisoned weapons by the
Celtic natives, are referred to in confirmation of the probability
that the indented patterns were wrought on the axe-blade to adapt it
for retaining the poison with which it was anointed preparatory to the
conflict. The rarity of the occurrence of such incised lines militates
in some degree against this theory; but it will be seen hereafter that
other devices of more frequent adoption may have answered the same
barbarous and deadly purpose.


CLASS IV. includes a variety of the implements to which archæologists
are now generally agreed in applying the old Scandinavian term
Paalstab, or its recently adopted English synonyme, Palstave,
originally designating a weapon employed in battering the shields of
the foe. Their general characteristics partake more of carpentering
tools than of weapons of war, but in this, as in many other instances,
it is difficult to draw the distinction with any certainty, where
the objects might be of equal avail for both purposes. The palstave
consists of a wedge, more or less axe-shaped, having a groove on each
side, generally terminating in a stop-ridge, by means of which it was
united to a cleft haft, and with projecting lateral ridges, designed
still farther to secure its hold on the handle. Various improvements
on the primitive form have obviously been suggested by experience.
The woodcut represents a fine example in the Museum of the Scottish
Antiquaries, found on the farm of Kilnotrie, parish of Crossmichael,
in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. The original measures 6¾ inches
in length. Notwithstanding the axe-like shape of a few of the largest
of these implements, I cannot but think that the idea of the mode
of hafting them by means of a bent stick, as recently assumed,[298]
appears forced and improbable. In all the additions, apparently
suggested by experience, for the purpose of more effectually securing
it to the handle, no single example has been found with a bent groove,
a hollow socket or perforation, or any other of the most simple and
obvious adaptations of the metal to such a purpose. It cannot for
a moment be supposed that such an improvement was beyond the skill
or ingenuity of the metallurgist. In the example figured here, the
hole through the end appears to have been produced in the casting.
The labour of hewing the mould, or hammering the palstave into the
desired shape, with which the old worker in stone was already familiar,
would scarcely exceed that involved in the adaptation of each wooden
haft. Mr. James Yates has suggested, in an ingenious communication
to the Archæological Institute, that one of the most important uses
to which bronze celts were applied was in destroying fortifications,
entrenchments, and similar military works.[299] In illustration of
this the author engraves two examples from the Nimroud Marbles, in
which Assyrian soldiers are seen breaking through a wall of brick or
small stones, by means of chisels not greatly dissimilar to our bronze
celts, but fitted to a straight wooden handle. For such operations
many of the larger palstaves would be no less suitable. The one here
figured, from the original, measuring 7½ inches in length, in the
valuable collection formed by Sir John Clerk at Penicuick House, seems
peculiarly adapted for the purpose. Mr. Yates accordingly arrives
at the conclusion, that "wherever we should now use the spade, the
crow-bar, or the pick-axe, the ancients used the palstave or the
hollow celt, fastened to a straight wooden shaft; and this was the
practice, not only of the Romans, but of the Greeks and Macedonians,
the Hebrews, Assyrians, and Carthaginians, and of all nations to which
they extended the knowledge of their arts, or which were sufficiently
advanced in civilisation to dwell in fortified places."[300] This
farther conclusion inevitably follows, if we adopt the ingenious theory
of Mr. Yates,--that the Britons of the Bronze Period had advanced to a
similar state of civilisation; nor is it inconsistent with the ideas
we are led to form of their skill and progress in the arts, that they
had already reared the ingenious earth-works which still crown the
summit of many a height both in England and Scotland. Against such
works, however, even the largest of the bronze palstaves would prove
but an inefficient implement, whether used as a crow-bar or hatchet,
and if employed as a spade, the most of them would be of somewhat
less avail than an ordinary tablespoon! It is not always easy to
discriminate unhesitatingly between the true axe-head and the palstave.
In many examples, where the general shape is completely that of the
axe-blade, both the stop-ridge and side flanges are formed, while the
narrow palstave no less frequently wants the stop-ridge. In Sir Robert
Sibbald's History of Fife and Kinross, one of the latter class of
palstaves is engraved, with a broad double flange, evidently adapted
for insertion in a cleft handle, and which he has entitled a "brass
axe found in a cairn of stones." Numerous other examples have been
discovered under similar circumstances, leaving no room to doubt of
their native origin, or of the estimation in which they were held by
their primitive owners.


CLASS V. includes an improved variety of palstaves having a loop or
ear attached to them, and in many instances the sides overlapping
to a considerable extent, occasionally so much so as to meet, and
form a perforation or socket for receiving the handle. In this class
the overlapping flange is often only on one side, especially where
it is turned over so as to form a socket; but in no example which I
have examined is there any adaptation of it properly suggestive of
the assumed theory of a bent handle, designed to admit of its use
as an axe. If such was its mode of hafting, it exhibits a degree of
clumsiness and inefficiency very inconsistent with the numerous traces
of inventive skill and ingenuity observable in other relics of the same
period. The example figured here is from one found in draining a field
to the west of Blackford Hill, near Edinburgh. It is of the most common
form, and measures 5¾ inches in length.


CLASS VI. consists of the un-looped Bronze Celt, which is of
comparatively rare occurrence in Scotland, though frequently met with
in Denmark. It differs only from the more common celt in the absence of
the loop; but it is generally of a small size, and is never found of
the proportions of the largest British celts.


CLASS VII.--The Bronze Celt is the most common of all the relics
of this period, found of various sizes and degrees of ornament,
from the plain small celt of scarcely an inch and half, to those of
five and six inches long, fluted, and encircled with mouldings or
cable-pattern borders, and ornamented with incised lines and embossed
figures on the blade. In Sir Robert Sibbald's Portes, Coloniæ, &c.,
a Scottish example of the engraved celt is figured, with its blade
decorated with the herring-bone pattern, in the same style, and
perhaps with the same object as has been assumed for the origin of
the incised axe-blades of the period. Examples of engraved celts are
of much rarer occurrence than axe-blades, if indeed this one is not
unique.[301] The use of the loop so generally attached to the bronze
celt, as well as to one class of the palstaves, has been a subject of
scarcely less industrious speculation than the probable purpose of the
implement itself. The idea which has been repeatedly suggested of
its design as a means of securing the celt, as an axe-head, to a bent
shaft, is scarcely less unsatisfactory than in the previous class of
looped palstaves. If it was used with a thong or cord, the fastening
would be so readily exposed to injury, while at the same time it so
imperfectly accomplished the object in view, that it appears altogether
inconsistent with the general manifestation of ingenuity and skill
in the workers in metal to conceive of them adhering to this clumsy
device. The unique specimen found at Tadcaster, with an oval bronze
ring attached to the loop, and a small ring or bead of jet upon it,
so far from confirming such a theory, seems much more consistent with
its use as a means of suspension or of securing a number together for
convenient deportation.[302]

Such is an attempt to assign a consistent classification and
nomenclature to a variety of bronze implements, hitherto most
frequently described by British archæologists under the general name
of Celts,--a matter perhaps of no very great moment, yet at least
calculated to give facility and precision to future descriptions of the
discovery of similar objects, and thereby to render such observations
of greater avail to the archæologist. They are all more or less
applicable to a variety of uses, both as mechanical tools and warlike
weapons; and it is not improbable that in entering upon any very nice
attempts at discriminating between the various purposes for which they
were designed, we shall only ingraft on the products of primitive art
a subdivision peculiar to modern civilisation. At a period much nearer
our own time the same implement sufficed the Scottish border trooper
for table-knife, couteau de chasse, and dagger; and it seems most
probable that the older Briton carried the same bronze axe with him to
battle with which he waged war against the giant oaks of his native
forests. It is a matter worthy of note, however, and calculated to
excite in us some surprise, that no bronze axe has yet been discovered,
if I mistake not, either in Britain or Ireland, with a perforation
through it,--the simplest of all means of securing it to a handle, and
one which was already familiar to the workers in stone. The following
description might indeed lead to a different conclusion, if we could
depend on the strict use of the terms employed:--"On the banks of the
Cree, in Galloway, there were several tumuli. In some of these, when
they were opened in 1754, there were found the remains of weapons of
brass, which were very much corroded. One of these was formed like a
halbert; another was shaped like a hatchet, having in the back part
an instrument resembling a paviour's hammer. A third was formed like
a spade, but of a much smaller size, and each of these weapons had _a
proper aperture for a handle_."[303] Unfortunately the researches of
the Scottish archæologist are continually arrested by such tantalizing
descriptions, conveyed in vaguest terms, and with no accompanying
illustrations to help him to the true character of the objects; leaving
him to mourn the apathy of Government, which refuses all aid to those
who are striving to arrest such fleeting records of the past, and
deposit them, where alone they ought to be, in national museums.

[Illustration: Lever. Pettycur.]

Numerous other weapons and implements, of the same metal and character
of workmanship, have been found in the Scottish tumuli, or in the
chance hoards of bogs or alluvial deposits. Bronze gouges and chisels
are among the most common of these, though hitherto apparently less
frequently noted in Scotland than in England and Ireland. Of rarer
implements of the same era, the bronze crow-bar, or lever, represented
in the annexed woodcut, half the length of the original, is, I think,
unique. It was found in 1810, in a barrow near Pettycur, Fifeshire, and
is now in the collection of the Hon. James Talbot. It is figured in the
Archæological Journal, in illustration of Mr. Yates's communication
on the use of bronze celts in military operations, and is described
as very strong.[304] Its longer end, bent perhaps accidentally, seems
intended to be fixed in a stout handle of wood, to which it could be
firmly secured by the perforated wings. Mr. Yates adds in describing
it:--"The circumstance of its discovery in a barrow is an evidence
that it was used for some military purpose, for barrows were not the
tombs of agriculturists, gardeners, masons, or carpenters, but of
chiefs and warriors." But in making use of such an argument it may
be doubted if we are not applying the results of modern civilisation
as the standard of primitive ideas. Most probably the greatest chief
of the early Bronze Period was in many cases also the best mason,
carpenter, and military engineer, and the most skilful worker in
metals,--the literal chief, in fact, and true Teutonic _king_, or
most knowing man of his tribe. Perhaps a better argument is to be
found in the frequent decoration of the bronze celt. There is a sense
of fitness in all minds, and most surely developed in the primitive
stages of civilisation, where it acts intuitively, which teaches man
to reserve the decorative arts for objects of luxury and pleasurable
enjoyment,--then including war and the chase,--but not to expend them
on tools of handicraft and implements of toil.[305]

The variety of lance and spear-heads is no less characteristic of the
gradual progress of the primitive worker in bronze, from the imitation
of the rude types of his obsolete stone weapons, to the production of
the large and beautiful myrtle-leaf spear-heads, finished with the
most graceful symmetry, and fully equal in character to the finest
medieval workmanship. The earliest examples are mere pieces of hammered
metal, reduced to the shape of a rude spear-head, but without any
socket for attaching them to a shaft. They manifestly belong to the
primitive transition-period, in all probability before the northern
Briton had learned to smelt or mould the newly introduced metal.
Lance and arrow-heads of the same form, or slightly improved by being
made somewhat in the shape of the barbed flint arrow-head, are also
preserved in the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries; and a curious
example of the spear-head of the latter type, measuring 10½ inches
in length, is engraved in the Archæological Journal.[306] It was found
in 1844 by some workmen while dredging in the bed of the Severn, about
a mile and a half below Worcester, and is made, like so many others of
the simpler forms, of metal of very bright colour and hard quality,
in appearance more nearly resembling brass than bronze. Others of the
earlier forms of bronze spear-heads are perforated with holes at
the broad end, and not unfrequently retain the rivets by which they
have been attached to the shaft. A spear-head of this class, in the
Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries, measuring 14¾ inches in length,
has been secured by three large rivets, two of which still remain. A
drawing by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, in the collections of the Society,
preserves the figure of another of the same type, but with four rivets,
found in a cist on the moor of Sluie, Morayshire, in 1818. A third
example, closely resembling the last, and found on the Eildon Hills,
Roxburghshire, is in the Abbotsford collection.[307] They have been
cast, but obviously by workmen chiefly familiar with the older forms of
flint and stone. This class of weapons, or Spear-blades, as they may be
termed, is by no means rare.

The earlier implements, chiefly constructed in imitation of the
primitive stone models, were intended, for the most part, to be secured
to the shaft by means of cords or leather thongs. But the worker in
the new material soon learned its capabilities. The hollow socket was
speedily superadded, generally accompanied with a projecting middle
ridge to strengthen the weapon, and admit of its receiving more readily
an acute edge and point. To these again were added the double loops,
designed apparently for still further securing it to the shaft; and
with this addition the merely useful and essential features may be
supposed to terminate, though there is considerable variety in the
forms which spear-heads of this class display. The most common and
graceful shape might seem to be borrowed from the myrtle leaf. Several
are engraved in Gordon's Itinerarium Septentrionale, (_Plates_ L. and
LI.,) from the collection of Sir John Clerk of Penicuick, including
some interesting varieties. One, of very rude form, and which the
author of course styles _Roman_, was found under a cairn in Galloway.
Another, curiously incised with alternate chequers of diamond shape, is
described as a _hasta pura_. A spear-head, decorated in the same style,
though with a different pattern, was found near Bilton, Yorkshire,
along with a quantity of other bronze weapons, in 1848.[308] But the
most singular of all the "several sorts of _hastæ or Roman spears_,"
as Gordon delights to call them, is one figured on _Plate_ LI., No.
6, of the Itinerarium, and which may be most fitly described as
fiddle-shaped.[309] Neither of these remarkable examples is now to be
found in the Penicuick collection. The woodcut represents a spear-head
with two loops, which is one of the very commonest forms of the smaller
class of Scottish bronze spears, most generally of the bright yellow
metal, apparently peculiar to Scotland and Ireland. The other is a
singular form of socketed spear, differing from any example I have met
with elsewhere. It was found, along with various other bronze weapons
and implements, in a moss near Campbeltown, Argyleshire, and is now the
property of J. W. Mackenzie, Esq. It measures nearly seven inches in
length, by one and a half inch in greatest breadth, and is covered with
verd antique.



A very great variety is now discernible in the weapons of the period.
The metallurgist had at length mastered the new art, and was rapidly
advancing in taste as well as skill. His inventive powers supplied
constant novelty in the multiplication of new forms and ornamental
devices. The woodcut represents a very fine double-looped spear-head,
five and two-fifth inches long, found near the river Dean, Angusshire,
and now in the collection of Mr. Bell of Dungannon. Javelin and
spear-heads, decorated with similar indented ornaments, have been
met with both in Scotland and Ireland. The larger spear-heads also
now occur "eyed," as it is termed, or perforated with a variety of
ornamental openings, frequently surrounded with a raised border,
and otherwise decorated according to the fancy of the designer.
Among the broken and half-melted arms dredged out of Duddingstone
Loch are numerous fragments of such Eyed Spear-heads, and several
very beautiful perfect specimens are preserved in the Museum of the
Scottish Antiquaries, as well as at Abbotsford, and in other private
collections. They are extremely various in form, exhibiting such
a diversity of design even in the simple patterns, as well as of
ornamental details in the more elaborate ones, as amply to confirm
the idea suggested by so many remains of the bronze period, that these
relics were the products of no central manufactory, much less the
importation of foreign traders, but were designed and moulded according
to the taste and skill of the local artificer, most frequently for his
own use. One remarkable feature in the largest and most elaborate of
those in the Scottish Museum, represented in the annexed engraving,
abundantly confirms the system of classification which gives it place
among the later products of the Bronze Period. It measures fully
nineteen inches in length, and was found on the lands of Denhead, in
the parish of Cupar-Angus, Perthshire, about the year 1831. The bronze,
like that of many other works of the same period, is extremely brittle,
and the spear-head is broken and imperfect. One of the fractures
near the point of the blade shews that a thin rod of iron has been
inserted in the centre of the mould to give additional strength to this
unusually large weapon, and suffices to connect it with the second
transition-period, when the bronze was giving way to the more useful
and abundant metal which now nearly supersedes all others in the useful
arts. Of the simpler forms of the eyed or perforated spear, one of the
most common is pierced with two segmental openings placed opposite
to each other, or more rarely disposed irregularly so as to convey
somewhat the appearance of an S or ogee perforation. I am indebted to
Mr. Albert Way for a sketch of a very fine example of the former type,
found at Ardersier Point, Inverness-shire, about 1750. It measures in
length fourteen inches by two and three quarters in greatest breadth.
This remarkably fine specimen was discovered in a tumulus lying by the
side of a human skeleton. A similar spear was found in Northumberland
in 1847, along with a bronze sword and other relics, the whole of
which are now in the possession of the Hon. H. Liddell. But the eyed
spear-head, which is common both in Scotland and Ireland, appears to
be of rare occurrence in England, and is, I believe, unknown among
the native antiquities of Denmark, though it has been so long the
fashion with Scottish and Irish antiquaries to assign to these relics a
Scandinavian origin. The Scottish bronze dagger of the same period is
almost invariably found to consist of a two-edged blade, tapering to
a point, and perforated with two or more holes for attaching a handle
to it by means of rivets, but without the simpler, and, as it would
seem, more obvious and secure fastening of a prolongation of the broad
end of the blade for inserting into a haft. These weapons are also
occasionally found elaborately ornamented, according to the prevailing
style of the era. They generally retain the bronze rivets, thereby
shewing that the handles had been of wood or horn, and not of metal,
as is most frequently the case with the swords and daggers of the same
era found in Denmark. The annexed figure represents a fine example of
the Scottish bronze dagger, found at Pitcaithly, Perthshire, and now in
the valuable collection of Mr. Bell of Dungannon. It measures fully six
inches in length, by two inches in greatest breadth.



But the most characteristic and beautiful of all the relics of the
Bronze Period is the leaf-shaped sword, which has been frequently
found with both point and edge as sharp as when it first was used.
The examples already referred to, which were found, in 1846, on the
south side of Arthur's Seat, near Edinburgh, during the construction
of the "Queen's Drive," are equal to any that could be produced.
The largest of the two is one of the finest ever found in Scotland,
measuring twenty-six and a quarter inches in extreme length, and one
and three quarter inches at the broadest part of the blade. The form
is exceedingly simple, though graceful and well proportioned; but
a small engraving conveys a very imperfect idea of the weapon when
held in the hand.[310] The section of the sword shews the art with
which it is modelled, so as to secure the indispensable requisite of
strength along with a fine edge, the blade swelling in the middle, and
tapering off towards the line which runs round the entire blade within
the edge. The metal is indeed too soft, apparently, to retain a sharp
edge, or to resist the contact with any hard body; but it has been
found that when this alloy has been cast into such forms, if the edge
be hammered till it begins to crack, and then ground, it acquires a
hardness, and takes an edge not greatly inferior to the ordinary kinds
of steel. Several of the bronze swords in the Scottish Museum are
broken in two, and some of them imperfect, most of such having been
found with sepulchral deposits. One of these was discovered, alongside
of a cinerary urn, in a tumulus at Memsie, Aberdeenshire. Another
was found, lying beside a human skeleton, in a cist under Carlochan
Cairn, one of the largest sepulchral cairns in Galloway, which formerly
stood on the top of a high hill on the lands of Chappelerne, parish of
Crossmichael. It was demolished in the year 1776 for the purpose of
furnishing materials to inclose a plantation. From such discoveries
we are led to infer that one of the last honours paid to the buried
warrior was to break his well-proved weapon and lay it at his side, ere
the cist was closed, or the inurned ashes deposited in the grave, and
his old companions in arms piled over it the tumulus or memorial cairn.
No more touching or eloquent tribute of honour breaks upon us amid the
curious records of ages long past. The elf-bolt and the stone axe of
the older barrow, speak only of the barbarian anticipation of eternal
warfare beyond the grave: of skull-beakers and draughts of bloody wine,
such as the untutored savage looks forward to in his dreams of heaven.
But the broken sword of the buried chief seems to tell of a warfare
accomplished, and of expected rest. Doubtless the future which he
anticipated bore faint enough resemblance to the "life and immortality"
since revealed to men; but the broken sword speaks in unmistakable
language of elevation and progress, and of nobler ideas acquired by the
old Briton, when he no longer deemed it indispensable to bear his arms
with him to the elysium of his wild creed.

This graceful custom would appear to have been peculiar to Britain, or
it has escaped the attention of northern antiquaries. Mr. Worsaae makes
no mention of it in describing corresponding Scandinavian weapons,
but rather seems to imply the opposite when thus referring to a later
period,--"Skilful armourers were then in great request, and although
in other cases the Danish warrior would have thought it unbecoming and
dangerous to disturb the peace of the dead, he did not scruple to break
open a barrow or a grave, if by such means he could obtain the renowned
weapon which had been deposited beside the hero who had wielded
it."[311] Thus we learn that from the remotest times even to our own
day, the northern warrior has esteemed his sword the most sacred emblem
of military honour. In later ages the leaders of medieval chivalry
gave names to their favoured weapons, the Trobadours celebrated their
virtues with all the extravagance of Romaunt fable, and still the
soldier's favourite sword is laid on his bier when his comrades bear
him to his rest.

Associations with these ancient weapons of an altogether different
nature have been suggested, chiefly in consequence of some resemblance
of the indented mouldings on the bronze swords to the ribs and grooves
frequently found on the modern Malay Creess. The design of the latter,
it is well known, is to retain poison, and it has been supposed, not
without some appearance of evidence, that such practices were not
unknown to the ancient Caledonian. This has been already referred
to as the purpose which perhaps first suggested those rude incised
lines on the earlier axe-blades, afterwards turned to account as a
means of tasteful decoration. In the ancient Irish poem on the death
of Oscar, printed in the first volume of the Royal Irish Academy's
Transactions, the spear of Cærbre is said to be poisoned, seemingly
in no figurative sense. The era of the bronze sword is of an earlier
date; but notwithstanding the graceful symbolism apparent in some of
the sepulchral rites, we have little reason for assuming that there was
anything in the degree of civilisation attained by the Briton of that
period incompatible with such savage practices.

Fewer primitive relics of armour or of personal covering have been
found than of weapons of war, as might naturally be expected among
a people whose partial civilisation could not so far have overcome
the natural habits acquired in the chase and the sudden foray, as to
induce them to cumber themselves with any great amount of defensive
accoutrements. Skins and furs no doubt formed their chief articles
of clothing and protection, and moreover, abundantly admitted of the
degree of ornament which the taste indicated in the decoration of their
weapons would lead them to aim at.

Helmets or head pieces of any kind belonging to the native Pagan era
are of extremely rare occurrence. In a tumulus at Drimnamucklach,
Argyleshire, pieces of a rudely adorned bronze helmet were found,
and are now in the possession of Mr. Campbell, the proprietor of the
estate. Gordon describes another example found in a cairn, near
the water of Cree, Galloway, but it was so cracked and brittle, and
probably also so rudely handled, that it fell to pieces on being
removed.[312] There is every reason to believe that this piece of
defensive armour was not generally used among the native Britons, nor
indeed among the Scandinavian warriors of the Bronze Period. Only one
imperfect fragment of a bronze helmet exists in the ample collections
of the Christiansborg Palace at Copenhagen. Diodorus refers to the
brazen helmet of the Gauls, but both Herodian and Xiphiline speak of
the Britons as destitute of this defensive head-piece. Their matted
locks, which they decorated with the large and massive hair-pins
of gold, silver, or bronze, so frequently found with other relics,
sufficed them alike for protection and ornament. This custom was
probably common to all the northern races. But the indispensable
defensive armour of the old British warrior was his shield, frequently
made entirely of bronze or of wood covered with metal, and sometimes
adorned with plates of silver and even gold.

[Illustration: Bronze Buckler, Ayrshire.]

The ancient bronze shield is of common occurrence both in Britain and
Ireland, and forms one of the most ingenious specimens of primitive
metallurgic art. In 1780 a singular group of five or six bronze
bucklers was discovered in a peat moss, six or seven feet below the
surface, on the farm of Luggtonrigge, near Giffin Castle, Ayrshire. The
shields were regularly disposed in a circle, and one of them, which
passed into the possession of Dr. Ferris, was subsequently presented
by him to the Society of Antiquaries of London. It has a semi-globular
umbo, surrounded by twenty-nine concentric rows of small studs, with
intervening ribs, and measures 26¾ inches in diameter.[313] Like all
the primitive British bucklers, it will be seen that it was designed
to be held in the hand, the raised umbo in the centre being hollow to
receive and protect the hand where it grasped the cross bar, seen on
the under side in the annexed engraving. The central umbo is surrounded
with a series of rings of bronze set with small studs, and the two pins
seen on the inner side have perhaps secured a strap for suspending it
to the neck of the wearer when not in use. In 1837 two remarkably fine
bronze shields of this description were exhibited to the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland by Mr. George Wauchope of Niddry, which were
found near Yetholm, about eight miles from Kelso, at a depth of four
feet, by a labourer engaged in digging a drain. Sir Robert Sibbald
describes among Scottish antiquities obtained on the sites of ancient
camps, "pieces of harness of brass: some for the arms and some for the
legs. Shields also are found; some oblong and oval, and some orbicular.
Some of these are of brass and some of wood full of brass nails."[314]
It is probable that many of the shields of the same period were made
chiefly of wood and leather, with the central umbo of bronze; the
latter being occasionally discovered alone in barrows. In the circular
Highland target, which is still to be met with among collected relics
of the clans, we find a curious example of the imitation of the earlier
model of the Bronze Period. Though the Roman example of wearing the
shield on the arm has been followed by the Scottish mountaineer,
rendering the hollow umbo no longer of use, yet it appears to the last
in the boss of his target, furnishing another striking proof of the
unreasoning tenacity with which the Celtic races are found to cling to
ancient customs.

Among the specimens of defensive armour preserved in the Museum of the
Scottish Antiquaries, are two pieces of thin copper, decorated with
indented ornaments, which were presented to the Society by Sir George
Mackenzie of Coull, Bart., in 1828. They are described by the donor
as pieces of copper, supposed to be plate armour, or the covering
of a shield, found in a cairn, under an oak tree at Craigdarroch,
Ross-shire. Various other portions were found along with these,
and their appearance seems fully to justify the supposition of the
donor. In the autumn of 1849 a remarkable discovery of bronze arms
and other antiquities was made in the Isle of Skye. They included
swords, spear-heads, celts, and a bronze pin with a hollow cup-shaped
head similar to one figured in the Archæological Journal, a relic of
one of the Irish Crannoges, or island strengths.[315] A gold armilla
and other ornaments of the same precious metal are also said to have
been obtained along with these ancient remains, and beside them lay
the fragments of an oaken chest in which the whole appeared to have
been deposited. The most of these valuable relics were secured by
Lord Macdonald, but one curious and probably unique implement fell
into private hands, and has since been deposited in the Museum of
the Scottish Antiquaries. In general appearance it resembles a bent
spear-head; but it has a raised central ridge on the inside, while it
is nearly plain and smooth on the outer side. It has a hollow socket,
and is perforated with holes for securing it to a handle by means of a
pin. The most probable use for which it has been designed would seem
to be for scraping out the interior of canoes and other large vessels
made from the trunk of the oak. But we necessarily reason from very
imperfect data when we ascribe a specific purpose to the implements of
a period the arts and habits of which must have differed so essentially
from our own.


Another class of bronze implements not uncommon in Ireland, and
occasionally mentioned among those discovered in Scotland, includes
what are generally described as reaping or pruning-hooks. One of these,
which was found at a depth of six feet in a bog in the neighbourhood
of Ballygawley, county of Tyrone, now preserved in the British Museum,
is figured in the Archæological Journal.[316] Another engraved in
General Vallancey's Collectanea,[317] is described as "a small securis,
called by the Irish a _searr_, to cut herbs, acorns, mistletoe, &c."
About the year 1790, a similar instrument was discovered at Ledberg,
in the county of Sutherland, by some labourers cutting peats, and
was pronounced by the Earl of Bristol, then Bishop of Derry, to whom
it was presented, to be a Druidical pruning-hook, similar to several
found in England.[318] Perhaps among the same relics of primitive
agricultural skill ought also to be reckoned a curious weapon or
implement of bronze, occasionally found in Scotland, two examples
of which are figured here. One of them is from the original in the
Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries. It was found among the remains
of many large oak trees, on the farm of Rottenmoss or Moss-side, in
the vicinity of Crossraguel Abbey, Argyleshire, and is not inaptly
described by its donor as nearly resembling one of the common forms of
the Malay Creess. It measures fourteen inches in length. The other and
more finished implement of the same kind is in the collection formed
by the distinguished Scottish antiquary, Sir John Clerk, at Penicuick
House. It is furnished with a hollow shaft or socket for the handle.
The same interesting and valuable collection includes other specimens
of this primitive implement, constructed like that in the Museum of
the Scottish Antiquaries, with only a metal spike for insertion into
the haft. Some examples of this relic of old agricultural skill are of
extremely small dimensions, measuring only from six to eight inches in
the length of the blade, and should perhaps more correctly be described
as pruning-hooks or knives. But in this, as in so many other attempts
to assign a use to obsolete implements, the most probable suggestions
of their original purpose are at best but guesses after the truth.



[292] Mr. Worsaae remarks, (Primeval Antiquities, p. 24,) "We must not
by any means believe that the Bronze Period developed itself among the
aborigines gradually or step by step out of the Stone Period. On the
contrary, instead of the simple and uniform implements and ornaments
of stone, bone, and amber, we meet suddenly with a number and variety
of splendid weapons, implements, and jewels of bronze, and sometimes
indeed with jewels of gold. The transition is so abrupt that from the
antiquities we are enabled to conclude that the Bronze Period must have
commenced with the irruption of a new race of people, possessing a
higher degree of cultivation than the early inhabitants."

[293] Archæological Journal, vol. iv. p. 327, Plate I. fig. 1.

[294] I have to acknowledge obligations in this attempt at
classification to Mr. Dunoyer's valuable papers in the Archæological
Journal, though adopting a different arrangement and terminology. In
the present very imperfect state of the science, it is hardly to be
looked for that any single system will satisfy all requirements, and
prove of general acceptance. But an important point will have been
gained when a fixed nomenclature has been established.

[295] Archæol. Jour. vol. iv. Plate VI. p. 335.

[296] Archæological Journal, vol. iv. p. 328; vol. vi. p. 410.

[297] Archæologia, vol. xxxi. p. 497.

[298] Archæol. Journal, vol. iv. p. 4.

[299] Archæol. Journal, vol. vi. p. 363.

[300] Archæological Journal, vol. vi. p. 392.

[301] Portes, Coloniæ, &c. 1711. Tabula III. fig. 5 et 6.

[302] _Vide_ Note, Archæological Journal, vol. vi p. 376.

[303] Caledonia, vol. i p. 81.

[304] I am indebted for the use of this woodcut to the Council of the
Archæological Institute, with the courteous permission of Mr. Yates, by
whom it was originally contributed to the Archæological Journal.

[305] _Vide_ Bibliotheca Topog. Brit. vol. ii. Part 3, for an
interesting correspondence on the _questio vexata_ of the origin and
use of bronze celts, on which so much ink has been spilled to very
small profit. The correspondence includes an account of the singular
discovery at Alnwick, in 1726, of twenty bronze swords, sixteen
spear-heads, and forty-two bronze celts, and anticipates, to very good
purpose, much which has been written at greater length since.

[306] Vol. ii. p. 187.

[307] It is figured in the Antiquary, Abbotsford Edition, vol. ii. p.

[308] Journal of the Archæol. Association, vol. v. p. 349.

[309] Itinerar. Septent. p. 117.

[310] _Ante_, p. 228.

[311] Primeval Antiquities, p. 49.

[312] Itiner. Septent. Appendix, p. 172. Two helmets are said to be
preserved by Lord Rollo at Duncruib House, Perthshire, which were dug
up in the neighbourhood along with various bronze relics. _Vide_ New
Statistical Account, vol. x. p. 717.

[313] Catalogue of Antiquities, &c., Soc. Antiquar. Lond. 1847, by
Albert Way, Esq. p. 16. Mr. Way adds in a note, "The description of the
shield found in Ayrshire, as given in the minutes, corresponds with the
buckler now in the Society's possession in every particular, with the
exception of the diameter, which is stated to have been about 15¼
inches, possibly an error of transcript."

[314] Portes, Coloniæ, &c., App. pp. 17, 18.

[315] Vol. iii. p. 48.

[316] Vol. ii. p. 186.

[317] No. 13, Plate X. fig. 4.

[318] Sinclair's Statist. Acco. vol. xvi. p. 206.



Along with the weapons and implements of this period there have also
been found at various times drinking cups, culinary vessels, horns,
and other similar relics calculated to throw some additional light
on the manners and domestic habits of the people by whom they were
wrought and used. There have not indeed been discovered, or at least
preserved, among the sepulchral deposits or the chance disclosures of
the Scottish bogs and alluvial strata, anything to be compared with
the celebrated Danish golden horns, or the beautiful silver cups of a
later era, such as that taken from the grave of Queen Thyre Danebod,
at Jellinge in Denmark. There are not wanting, however, undefined
but not the less certain traces of the like costly memorials of
primitive native art, discovered only to be destroyed. On the lands
of Garthland, Wigtownshire, two vessels made of gold, and described
as lachrymatories, were discovered in 1783.[319] At the village of
Lower Largo, Fifeshire, a treasure was found in a sepulchral deposit,
sufficient it is believed to enrich the original finder. The only
relics which escaped destruction are two armillæ of pure gold, and
remarkable for their elegance and skilful workmanship.[320] In 1839
a tenant engaged in levelling and improving a field on the estate of
Craigengelt, near Stirling, opened a large circular cairn, which bore
the popular name of "The Ghost's Knowe." It measured exactly 300 feet
in circumference, and nearly fifty feet in height, and around its base
twelve large stones were disposed at regular intervals. Underneath this
cairn a large cromlech or stone chamber was found, the upright stones
of which were about five feet high, and within it lay a skeleton,
imbedded in matter which emitted a strong resinous odour, but the
bones rapidly crumbled to dust on exposure to the air. The gentleman
on whose estate this remarkable cairn stood,[321] and to whom I am
chiefly indebted for its description, had given strict orders to send
for him if a cist or coffin was discovered; but while operations were
delayed in expectation of his arrival, one of the labourers plundered
the hoard and fled. Many valuable articles are reported to have been
found; among which was a golden horn or cup, weighing fourteen ounces,
and ornamented with chased or embossed figures. This interesting relic
was purchased from one of the labourers by a gentleman in Stirling,
and is believed to be still in existence, though I have failed, after
repeated applications, in obtaining access to it. The exact nature or
value of the whole contents of this cairn is not likely ever to be
ascertained. The only articles secured by the proprietor, and now in
his possession, are a highly polished stone axe or hammer, eight inches
long, rounded at one end, and tapering at the other; a knife or dagger
of the same material, eighteen inches long, which was broken by one of
the stones falling on it when opening the cist; and a small gold finger
ring, chased and apparently originally jewelled, though the settings
have fallen out. Several other large cairns still remain unexplored at
Craigengelt, some of them of much larger dimensions than the one which
yielded such interesting results. English tumuli and primitive deposits
have occasionally furnished still more valuable gold relics; such as
the native gold corslet found in Wales, now in the British Museum.[322]
Golden vessels have also been found under similar circumstances, as in
a cairn near the Cheese Wring, in Linkenhorne parish, Cornwall, which
was accidentally broken into in 1818, and a gold cup found lying beside
the sepulchral remains. It was opened by some miners, who had selected
the mound as an appropriate site on which to erect an engine-house.
Within the cairn was a large cromlech, and underneath this lay a flat
stone measuring nine feet long by about four broad, which covered the
sepulchral deposit. In this chamber a thin slab, placed in a shelving
direction against one of the sides, protected its valuable contents
from injury. The remains of a skeleton lay extended on the floor of the
cist, and about the position of the breast stood an earthen vessel,
within which was placed the gold cup. It is bell-shaped and rounded
below, like the Danish gold cups found under similar circumstances and
engraved in the "Guide to Northern Archæology." The earthen vessel
was unfortunately broken by the fall of the stone that covered it,
but its fragments exhibited the usual incised ornamentation of the
early British pottery. A bronze spear was likewise found with these
remarkable relics. The gold cup was claimed for the Crown as Lord
of the Duchy of Cornwall, and it is believed to be still at Windsor
Castle.[323] It would find a more appropriate place in the long
desiderated British department of the British Museum.

As we cannot doubt but that these buried records of primitive native
history have as yet been only very partially disclosed, so also we may
hope that the rarer and more curious relics of the precious metals are
also unexhausted, and that golden horns and silver beakers, adorned
with the well-defined decorations of the Archaic era of native art,
may still lie safely garnered in the same store-house and registry
from whence so many historic records have been drawn forth, reserved
for better times, when their discovery shall no longer involve their
destruction. It will be seen from the number and variety of personal
ornaments of the same precious metals described in future chapters,
that such ideas are not mere chimerical dreams. Whencesoever the metal
was derived, gold appears to have been used in Scotland to a very great
extent, from the earliest period of the introduction of the metals,
and to have been frequently deposited in the sepulchres of the most
honoured dead, with no fear that sacrilegious hands would disturb the
sacred deposit.

Vessels of bronze are by no means so rare as those of the precious
metals. They are not indeed often found in the tumuli, and have
obviously been held in less esteem than the weapons and personal
ornaments of the same metal. But among the interesting disclosures
brought to light by the draining of bogs and lakes, and the ordinary
processes of agriculture, no class of relics have been more frequently
discovered than the various culinary and domestic utensils of bronze,
generally known by the names of Roman tripods and camp-kettles. Some of
these do undoubtedly belong to the Anglo-Roman era; but the whole have
been much too indiscriminately assigned to the legionary invaders and
colonists, whose occupation of Scotland was equally brief and partial,
and whose relics must therefore form a very small proportion even of
those of the later period to which they belong.

[Illustration: Bronze Cauldron, Kincardine Moss.]

In the "Account of the Dominion of Farney," by Evelyn Philip Shirley,
Esq., an engraving is given of a singular cauldron, made with
considerable taste and skill, of plates of hammered bronze, rivetted
together with pins of the same metal, the heads of which are conical
in form, and being regularly disposed, serve to decorate as well as
to secure the vessel. Two bronze rings are fastened to the inside
of the rim by ornamental staples, and with these it was obviously
designed to be suspended over the fire. This remarkable relic, which
measures sixty inches in widest circumference, was discovered in the
year 1834, at a depth of twelve feet below the surface of a bog,
in the barony of Farney, Ulster. Bronze rings and staples, similar
to those attached to this ancient cauldron, have been frequently
found in Scotland. One of them has been already referred to, which
was dredged out of Duddingstone Loch, near Edinburgh, along with a
large quantity of bronze arms. Several others are preserved in the
Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries, two of which (measuring each
4¾ inches in diameter) were found along with the bronze cauldron
here represented. Its dimensions are twenty-five inches in greatest
diameter, and sixteen inches in height. No question can exist of its
native workmanship. The rings and staples are neatly designed, but
rudely and imperfectly cast and finished, and are decorated exactly
as those of the Farney cauldron. The circles embossed on the side of
the vessel are in like manner such as have been frequently noted on
objects of the Bronze Period, both in Britain and on the Continent.
Nevertheless, in accordance with the classical system of designation
which is even yet only partially exploded, this remarkable native relic
figures in the printed list of donations in the Archæologia Scotica as
a Roman camp-kettle. It was dug up in the year 1786, from the bottom
of the peat-moss of Kincardine, some miles west from Stirling, where
it was discovered lying upon a stratum of clay beneath the moss,
which generally ranges from seven to twelve feet deep. Evidence has
already been referred to which leads to the conclusion that the moss of
Kincardine was in the same state at the period of Agricola's invasion
as it continued to be till nearly the close of the eighteenth century.
A curious allusion to this locality, in Blind Harry's Life of Sir
William Wallace, which refers to the moss as incapable of passage on
horseback, leaves us in no doubt as to its condition in the fourteenth
century. After Wallace and his adherents had surprised an English
garrison in the Peel of Gargunnoch,

    "Yai bownyt yaim our Forth for to ryde;
    The moss was strang, to ryde yaim was na but,
    Wallace was wycht, and lychtyd on hys fute;
    Stewyn of Irland he was yair gyd that nycht
    Towart Kincardyn, syne restyt thar atright,
    In a forest, that was bathe lang and wyde,
    Rycht fra the moss grew to the wattir-syde."[324]

Another large shallow vessel of hammered copper, made entirely
of one piece, is in the same collection with the above. It bears
considerable resemblance to one discovered at Huckeridge Hill, near
Sawston, Cambridgeshire, in 1816, and figured with other "Celtic
remains" in the Archæologia, (vol. xviii. _Pl._ XXIV.,) but wants the
embossed ornaments which encircle the rim of the latter. It measures
fully eighteen inches in diameter by six inches deep, and was found
at a depth of eighteen feet below the present level of the Cowgate,
Edinburgh. Notwithstanding the difficulty of accounting for so great
an accumulation of soil, there is perhaps greater probability in
assigning this as part of the _curta supellex_ of some wealthy citizen
of the Scottish capital, at a period belonging to the latest epoch
of the archæologist.[325] But no doubt can be entertained as to the
remote era of another such relic already referred to,--the large bronze
cauldron dug up about eighteen years since in a bog in King's County,
and now in the collection of the Earl of Rosse. Among the smaller
examples of Scottish bronze vessels, one is specially deserving of
notice, which was found by a labourer while cutting turf in Lochar
Moss, Dumfriesshire, about two miles north from Cumlongan Castle,
accompanied by relics of pure native character. It is a small bowl of
graceful form, measuring six and a half inches in diameter and three
in depth, formed of thin bronze plate of the bright colour common to
many of our primitive relics, and very skilfully wrought. Within it lay
one of the curious ornamental collars more particularly described in
a later page,[326] to which the name of Beaded Torc is now assigned.
Lochar Moss, where these interesting antiquities were discovered, has
proved a fertile field for archæological treasures of many different
eras,--primitive canoes, native stone and bronze relics, products of
Roman civilisation and medieval art; while within it lie embedded the
trunks of gigantic oaks and other natives of the forest, which once
occupied the area of this ancient and extensive morass.

Of the more usual forms of tripods, kettles, and cauldrons of bronze,
which are commonly assigned to the Romans, I must speak with more
hesitation, though both the circumstances under which these have been
found, and the style of some of their decorations, are sufficient to
shew that they have been much too summarily classed among foreign
productions. So long as bronze continued to be the rare and precious
metal which we find good evidence for concluding it to have been during
a transition-period of considerable duration, we may be well assured
that neither domestic utensils, nor such implements of common use
as the older material could supply, would be manufactured of it. We
have abundant proof, however, that the supply of the metals kept pace
with the increasing demands of progressive civilisation; and as this
gradually displaced the old barbarian habits of the Caledonian savage
by more refined tastes, the gratification of the palate would be aimed
at along with the simpler desire for the mere supply of animal wants.
Hence we may trace in the bronze cauldron and the tripod evidences
of native civilisation, though doubtless of a late period, and not
improbably, in many cases, coeval with the era of Roman invasion.
Bronze vessels, of the description to which we refer, have been
frequently found not only in the north of Scotland and in Ireland,
but in Denmark and Sweden, where no Roman legions ever established a
footing; though we must, of course, bear in remembrance that Roman
culinary implements, like Roman coins, might reach many regions
which their makers never visited. But classical writers make special
reference to the abundance of such vessels among the Gauls, and even
ascribe to the Bituriges the invention of the art of tinning them.[327]
In the _Samlingar för Nordens Fornälskare_, (_Plate_ XXII. vol. ii.,)
an ancient Swedish bronze vessel is represented, in no way differing
from the common form of what is here invariably designated a Roman
camp-kettle, but surrounded with an ornamental belt, decorated with
what appear in the engraving somewhat like Runic characters. A still
more remarkable medieval example of the bronze kettle is engraved in
the Archæologia[328] under the name of an ancient hunting pot. It is
of the same common form, but is ornamented in relief with the symbols
of the Evangelists, and with various devices, chiefly relating to the
chase, and is encircled with the following inscriptions:--~Vilelmus
Angetel me fecit fieri~. And underneath, in smaller characters, this

    ~Je sui pot de graunt honhur
    Viaunde a fere de bon savhur.~


Many bronze vessels discovered in Scotland have been found on the
draining or cutting of mosses, into which they may be supposed to
have been thrown on the sudden flight either of the native Briton
or the Roman invader, according as we incline to assign them to the
one or the other. I am not aware, however, of such having yet been
met with, either at any of the great Scoto-Roman coloniæ, such as
Inveresk or Cramond, or on the sites of the legionary stations on the
wall of Antoninus, though the remarkable discovery of Roman relics at
Auchindavy, in 1771, including five altars and a statue, all huddled
together in one pit, furnishes no doubtful evidence of the precipitancy
with which the legionary cohorts were compelled to abandon the
Caledonian wall.[329] An interesting discovery of such bronze vessels
was made a few years since in the grounds immediately adjoining the
cloisters of Melrose Abbey, and distant only a few miles from the
Roman station, near Eildon. Similar objects have in like manner been
frequently discovered in Galloway, Nithsdale, and in the district
surrounding Birrenswork Hill, the celebrated _Blatum Bulgium_, where,
among other curious relics of the Roman invaders, was found the winged
figure of the goddess Brigantia, a supposed native deity adopted by
the complaisant conquerors into the orthodox Pantheon of the Roman
world. All these districts, however, abound still more with traces
of native occupation, such as the most classical of modern Oldbucks
would hesitate to ascribe to a Roman origin. While, however, I feel
satisfied that many of these bronze vessels are the products of native
art, others are unquestionably Roman, and many more have probably been
made after Roman models, so that the attempt to discriminate between
them is attended with difficulty. The mere rudeness of workmanship
of many of them is not in itself a conclusive argument against their
Roman manufacture, since we are hardly justified in looking for all the
refinements of classic art in the furniture of the camp kitchen. It may
fairly, however, suggest doubts, which receive stronger confirmation
when we find it associated with forms peculiar to the northern
designer: as in the snake-head with which the spout is frequently
terminated. Such is the case with one of the so-called Roman tripods in
the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries, which was found in its present
imperfect state at a depth of five feet below the surface, in a moss
near Closeburn Hall, Dumfriesshire. It is of a form of very frequent
occurrence, and the decoration of the spout, though also not uncommon,
is such as an unprejudiced critic would be much more inclined to
ascribe to British or Scandinavian than Roman art. It is figured here
along with another of rarer form dug up in the neighbourhood of Dundee,
and now preserved at Dalmahoy House.[330] The superstitious veneration
which ignorance attaches more or less readily to whatever is derived
from a remote or unknown origin, has not failed to include these
ancient utensils among the objects of its devotion or fear. In Ireland,
more especially, this feeling is still powerful in its influence on the
peasantry, and not unfrequently throws additional obstacles in the way
of antiquarian research. But in Scotland it was also equally powerful
at no very remote date, nor was its influence limited to the unlettered
peasant. In the great hall of Tullyallan Castle, near Kincardine,
there formerly hung suspended from one of the bosses of its richly
sculptured roof an ancient bronze kettle of the most usual form, which
bore the name of _The Lady's Purse_. It was traditionally reputed to
be filled with gold; and the old family legend bore, that so long as
it hung there the Castle would stand and the Tullyallan family would
flourish. Whether the Blackadders of Tullyallan ever had recourse to
the treasures of the lady's purse in their hour of need can no longer
be known, for the castle roof has fallen, and the old race who owned it
is extinct. The ancient cauldron, however, on the safety of which the
fate of the owners was believed to hang, is preserved. It was dug out
of the ruins by a neighbouring tenant, and is still regarded with the
veneration due to the fatal memorial of an extinct race. It measures
8¼ inches in diameter by 5⅛ inches in height as it stands, and is
simply what would be called by antiquaries a Roman camp-kettle, and by
old Scottish dames a brass kail-pot! This medieval tradition suffices
at least to show that the object of its superstitious veneration
pertained to an older era than that of the Baron's Hall.

A remarkable discovery of a number of bronze vessels of the class
alluded to here, was made in the autumn of 1848, by some labourers
engaged in trenching a piece of mossy ground, situated under a peculiar
ridge of trap rock about a mile and a half due south of North-Berwick
Law, on the Balgone estate, the property of Sir George Grant Suttie,
Bart. The whole ground, extending to above twenty acres, was formerly
a morass. It has been partially drained of late years, in consequence
of which the mean level has sunk three to four feet. In the centre of
this morass the relics were found, consisting of a large bronze pot
or cauldron, several tripods, goblets, and various fragments of thin
plates of bronze, all much corroded. One of the bronze goblets lay
within the large cauldron, and the whole were found close together,
at a depth of about three feet from the surface, apparently just as
they had been thrown into the morass, probably not less than seventeen
centuries ago.

Another class of works of ancient art and constructive skill, which
come under the notice of the archæologist, admit of much more decided
and unhesitating assignment to the native manufacturer. These are the
specimens of pottery of such frequent occurrence in the tumuli and
cists, and which present, in every respect, so striking a contrast to
the fictile manufactures of the Roman colonists. It is not from any
doubt of the use of the sepulchral urn, and of the rites of cremation,
during the primitive period, that all notice of native fictile ware has
been reserved till now, though both furnish undoubted evidence of some
progress attained by the primitive Briton. It is altogether impossible,
however, with the very limited amount of accurately observed facts with
which the Scottish archæologist has to deal, to pretend to classify
into distinct periods the pottery found in the ancient tumuli and
cairns. Many of these fictilia are so devoid of art as to furnish no
other sign of advancement in their constructors from the most primitive
state of barbarism, than such as is indicated by the piety which
provided a funeral pyre for their dead, and even so rude a vase wherein
their ashes might be inurned.

One obvious distinction is at once apparent between the unsymmetrical
hand-made urn and that which has been turned and fashioned into regular
shape. Yet even this very marked subdivision will not suffice for
chronological arrangement; for the very rudest and most unsymmetrical
of all the hand-made urns in the Scottish Museum, devoid of grace,
and destitute of the very slightest attempt at ornament, was found to
cover a pair of gold armillæ somewhat roughly finished with the hammer,
and three smaller rings of the same metal, two of which are neatly
ornamented with parallel grooves.[331] It seems, indeed, as if some
pious hand may have hastily fashioned the clay into shape while the
flames of the funeral pile were preparing the ashes it was to hold.

It is obvious even from this single instance, that any assignment
of special examples or classes of native fictilia to the primeval
period can only be done on the distinct ground of their being found
accompanied solely with the relics of flint and stone. Still, setting
aside the idea of a precise chronological arrangement, somewhat may
be done as an approximation towards a system of classification. The
early British pottery, though at best sufficiently rude, exhibits
considerable variety both in form and workmanship, from the coarsest
specimens of unshapely sun-dried clay to the graceful and elaborately
decorated vases evidently made by workmen who had acquired a knowledge
of the potter's wheel. Though the whole of these are found with
sepulchral deposits, it is rarely difficult to discriminate between
domestic vessels and cinerary urns, independently of the contents of
the latter. The presence of the cup and bowl alongside the weapons and
implements deposited with the ashes of the deceased warrior, is readily
accounted for. The difficulty which the uncultivated mind experiences
in realizing any adequate conception of death, or of a future state,
apart from the daily necessities and cravings of the body, has led in
many different stages of social progress to the custom of depositing
food and drink, unguents, perfumes, and similar necessaries or luxuries
of life beside the body of the loved dead, or even along with the
cinerary urn. The archæologist has accordingly been long familiar with
the fact, that some at least of the fictile vessels found in the tumuli
are not sepulchral, and the names of "drinking cups" or "incense cups"
have been given to one class of small vases frequently deposited in
cists and barrows.

The first and most obvious subdivision which the early British
fictile ware admits of, is into hand-made and wheel-made pottery.
Notwithstanding the remarkable example above referred to of the
discovery of the former along with gold relics, it is most probable
that the hand-made pottery will be generally found to belong to the
earliest period. The inverse argument is at any rate indisputable,
which assigns the wheel-made pottery to the period of partially
developed art and tutored skill. Even in the case of the rude example
found in Banffshire, the gold armillæ are roughly wrought with the
hammer, and may have been fashioned from the native gold by a workman
who knew of its ductility, but had yet to learn the use of the furnace,
the crucible, and the mould. We know from the most ancient records
both of sacred and profane history, that the potter's wheel is among
the earliest inventions of primitive art. It is referred to by the
prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah as the most familiar illustration of
creative power; and the hieroglyphics and symbolic paintings still
visible on the temples of Egypt, prove that the simile is older
by many generations than that day when the Hebrew prophet "went
down to the potter's house, and behold he wrought a work on the
wheels." On the wall of a chamber in the ruined temple of Philæ,
which, however, belongs to the era of the Ptolemies, one of the most
striking adaptations of the prophetic symbol has been noted. Kneph,
the ram-headed god, is represented seated at a potter's wheel, which
he turns with his foot, while he fashions the mass of clay on it
with his hands. The hieroglyphic inscription which accompanies it is
thus rendered:--"Knum, the Creator, moulds on his wheel the Divine
members of Osiris, (the father of men,) in the house of life." It is
an old Egyptian version of the simple but sublime language of Isaiah:
"O Lord! thou art our Father, we are the clay, and thou our potter."
The contents of the earliest Egyptian tombs furnish abundant evidence
of the perfection to which the potter's art had been carried; and
the recent discoveries at Nimroud and along the banks of the Tigris
disclose no less satisfactory proofs of equal skill among the ancient
dwellers in the great central plains of Asia, from whence the nomade
colonists of Britain have been traced. The ignorance, therefore, of
the simple contrivance of the potter's wheel furnishes more conclusive
proof of a rude and barbarous state of society even than the stone
weapons and implements of the same period. In the one instance we see
the intelligent barbarian ingeniously turning to the best account his
very limited materials, and effectively supplying the want of metals
apparently from the most inadequate resources. In the other we find
him fashioning the plastic clay with far less skill or symmetry than
the thrush or the common barn-swallow displays in the construction
of its nest. It may therefore be assumed as a general rule, that the
unsymmetrical hand-made urn belongs to a very early period, and must in
most cases be considered the work of an era prior to the introduction
of the wheel, or the practice of the decorative arts so abundantly
employed in the adornment of later specimens of the same ware.

[Illustration: Urns found at Banchory.]

The rudimentary form of the cinerary urn is the common flower-pot
shape, which the potter still finds the easiest and simplest into
which the plastic clay can be fashioned. The later fictile ware,
however, which is found deposited in the sepulchres, apparently for the
purpose of holding food or preserving other tributes of affection or
reverence, is characterized by considerable variety both in shape and
decoration. Vases of a peculiar form, and apparently not sepulchral but
domestic--in so far as they lay beside unburnt bones, and contained no
incinerated remains--were discovered in several stone cists dug up in
the years 1833 and 1834, in the parish of Whitsome, Berwickshire. The
cists measured internally four and a half feet in length, and lay north
and south. "Each chest had also its urn of unglazed earthenware, and of
a triangular shape, the original contents of which had been converted
into a quantity of black dust."[332] I have in vain attempted to
ascertain if any of these singular examples of primitive fictile ware
are still in existence. The two urns here represented were found under
circumstances which seem in like manner to indicate their original use
as domestic rather than sepulchral vessels, though they differ little
from shapes of frequent occurrence in cinerary urns. They were found in
the year 1817 by a party of men employed in levelling a piece of ground
on a farm at Banchory, Aberdeenshire.[333] In the progress of their
work their tools struck on a stone, which proved to be the cover of a
cist of unusually large dimensions, lying nearly due NE. and SW. It was
composed of six stones, so arranged that the skeleton which lay within
at full length was bent at the pelvis to fit the angular construction
of the cist. It measured internally, in a straight line, six feet, by
two and a quarter feet at the north end, where the head lay, and only
one foot ten inches at the lower end. The whole was composed of rough
undressed mica-slate of from three to five inches thick. Within this
the skeleton was disposed in the singular position above described,
with the vases on its right side, one opposite the knee and the other
at the thigh-joint. Nothing was found in them but some sand which had
fallen in on opening the cist. The largest measured six and a half
inches, and the other five inches in height. They are described as
"composed of the common stones of the country pounded,--granite,
mica-slate, apparently some moss-earth, and a little clay on the
outside. They are wonderfully accurately made, and the patterns meet
so well that one would think they had been done in a lathe or stamped.
They are perfectly circular, and seem to have been only baked in the
sun." Several cists have been discovered in the same neighbourhood,
but no other example is known to have corresponded to this either in
disposition or contents. The whole skeleton crumbled into dust after
being exposed for a short time to the air; but it would appear to
have exhibited the wonted characteristic of a remarkably small head
in proportion to the body. The discoverer remarks: "The teeth are
perfectly fresh; and from the appearance of the jaws the skeleton must
be that of a full-grown person, though of small stature."

A still more remarkable example of pottery somewhat similarly disposed,
was discovered more recently on the demolition of the old town steeple
of Montrose. This venerable belfry tower, which was ascribed to the
twelfth century, occupied the highest ground in the centre of the
ancient burgh. After serving for centuries as clock-tower, belfry, and
prison, the fabric at length became so ruinous that it was taken down
in 1833. In digging the foundations for the new steeple, which occupies
its site, the workmen excavated the ground about nine feet below the
surface, and fully three feet below the base of the old tower. Remains
of several bodies were found in the new ground: one of which lay with
the head towards the west, and had a small pile driven through the
skull. In another part, directly underneath the foundations of the
old tower, was a skeleton disposed at full length in a rude stone
cist, and with four urns beside it: two at the head and two at the
feet. The skeleton measured six feet in length, and the skull, which
has been already referred to, is now in the Edinburgh Phrenological
Museum.[334] Only two of the urns were preserved; one of which is now
in the Montrose Museum, and the other in the collection of the Scottish
Antiquaries. The latter is a neat vessel of common form, and decorated
with the usual style of incised chevron ornaments. There is something
peculiarly interesting in the recovery of these memorials of long
forgotten generations, over which later builders had reared the massive
tower unconscious of their presence. The strong old Gothic masonry,
after withstanding the storms of some seven centuries, has decayed
and been swept away, and from beneath its foundations we recover the
fragile yet more enduring memorials of primitive skill pertaining
to a far older era, when the infant nation was just struggling into
intelligent youth.


Among the most remarkable classes of domestic pottery found in the
tumuli, are those evidently designed for suspension, and occasionally
provided with a cover or lid made of the same material. Some of them
are made round on the bottom, so as to be unfitted for setting on the
ground, and it seems no improbable inference that in these we possess
examples of the earliest artificial cooking vessels manufactured by
native skill. They are familiar to continental as well as to British
archæologists, and are figured in several works on Scandinavian
antiquities. The example engraved here, from the original in the
Scottish Museum, measures 4½ inches in height, and about 6½
inches in extreme diameter. It was found in one of a group of cists,
under a large cairn, situated at a place called Sheal Loch, in the
parish of Borthwick, near Edinburgh, and is minutely described by Dr.
Jamieson in the Archæologia Scotica.[335] Five perforated projections
are disposed at nearly equal distances around it, and the interior of
the vessel bears evident marks of fire. Nothing but clay was found
either in it or the inclosing cist, and no urns were discovered in any
of the adjoining graves. It appears to be made of fine baked clay, and
is of a much harder and more durable consistency than the majority of
specimens of Celtic pottery. Urns perforated for suspension, though
by no means common, are occasionally found in the British tumuli. The
fragments of another, found in Fifeshire, with perforated ears, are
preserved in the same collection with the above; and a third example,
found in a cairn at Crakraig, Sutherlandshire, in 1818, and engraved
in the Archæologia,[336] appears to have been of the same class.
Reference has already been made to a small cup discovered during the
construction of the "Queen's Drive" round Arthur Seat in 1846, and,
as is believed, alongside of the cinerary urn, alluded to in a former
chapter, which was broken in pieces by the workmen. The little cup is
formed with great regularity, and ornamented with a uniform pattern,
the lines of which seem as if they had been impressed on the soft clay
with a fine twisted cord. It measures 1¾ inches in height, 3¼
inches in extreme diameter, and fully half an inch in thickness.[337]
Another cup, in the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries, of still more
regular proportions, and a higher style of ornamentation, was dug out
of the foundation of an ancient ruin in the island of Ronaldshay,
Orkney, and presented to the Society in 1831. Like the larger urns
referred to above, it is perforated for suspension. Similar cups are
of comparatively frequent occurrence; sometimes devoid of ornament,
but generally symmetrical, and finished with a degree of art and
skill indicative of their construction, and of the adoption of the
ideas which led to their being deposited with the funeral urn, at a
considerably later period than that of the rude hand-made pottery of
the early tumuli.


In striking contrast to these minute sepulchral relics, many of the
Scottish cinerary urns are of an unusually large size. So far as my
opportunities of observation extend, it is much more common in Scotland
than either in England or on the Continent to meet with urns measuring
thirteen, fourteen, and even sixteen inches high. In the cairns,
more especially where several urns are grouped together, one is very
frequently much larger than the others, though not more ornamented; for
the pottery of the largest size is generally comparatively plain. The
woodcut represents one, now in the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries,
measuring 11½ inches in height. It was found within the area of
the modern Scottish capital, in digging for the foundation of the
north pier of the Dean Bridge that spans a deep ravine through which
the Water of Leith finds its way to the neighbouring port. Numerous
cists and urns have been discovered in the extension of the New Town
of Edinburgh towards the sea, attesting the presence of a busy and
ingenious native race in ages long prior to the dawn of authentic
history, on the same spot which has formed the centre of nearly all the
most memorable events in the national annals in more recent centuries.
Another urn in the Scottish Museum, measuring 12½ inches in height,
was found near Abden House, in the parish of Kinghorn, Fifeshire,
in 1848, by workmen engaged in cutting through the rocks on the
sea-shore, preparatory to the formation of the Northern Railway. When
discovered it lay in an inverted position on the flat surface of the
rock, at a depth of five feet from the surface, and was full of ashes
and burnt bones. In examples discovered under similar circumstances,
it is not unfrequently observed that the inside of the urn exhibits
considerable marks of exposure to heat and smoke. The incinerated
remains would appear to have been carefully gathered together in a
little heap while yet the glowing embers had only partially consumed
the bones, and over this the inverted urn was laid, quenching the last
fires that glowed within the ashes once ardent with impetuous life.


None of those examples of primitive Scottish pottery have been
accompanied by relics which would enable us to assign them with
absolute certainty to the period when the introduction of the
metallurgic arts had stimulated native skill and ingenuity into
action; unless perhaps in the case of the small cup found on Arthur
Seat, alongside of which I have reason to believe the bronze celt now
in my possession was found. But most of them, in all probability, do
belong to that period; nor is it at all improbable that the practice
of cremation may itself be traced to the same source from whence
the ingenious workers in stone learned to fuse the metallic ores,
and fashion them into every variety of form. There are not wanting,
however, numerous examples both of native domestic pottery and of
cinerary urns, found along with relics which leave no room to question
their belonging to the Bronze Period. The larger of the two vases
represented in the annexed woodcut was discovered under a tumulus at
Memsie, Aberdeenshire, and beside it lay a bronze leaf-shaped sword,
broken in two. It is scarcely a quarter of an inch in thickness, and
otherwise exhibits in symmetrical proportions and durable material
the evidences of experienced workmanship. In style of ornament it
differs little from the ruder specimens of Celtic pottery. But from the
well-baked material and the unusual thinness of the ware, it furnishes
a good example of the highest perfection attained in the potter's art
prior to the introduction of the vitrified glazing which is found
for the first time in connexion with the relics of the latest Pagan
era. Some similarity of form may be traced between this vessel and the
larger of the two discovered in the cist at Banchory. It is a peculiar
shape, and no doubt designed for some special purpose, possibly a
pitcher for liquids--the Pictish _heather ale_, perchance, of vulgar
tradition,--while the shallower vase which accompanied the former
example would more fitly receive the solid food provided to appease
the anticipated cravings of the dead. Alongside of the urn from Memsie
another is figured belonging to the same period, which was dug up in
the parish of Ratho, a few miles from Edinburgh. It was found filled
with ashes and fragments of human bones, mingled with which were the
fragments of bronze rings, and the handle of a small vessel of the same
metal. Both of these specimens of primitive fictile ware are now in the
Scottish Museum. A third, in the same collection, somewhat similar to
the last, was discovered in trenching a field near the old castle of
Kineff, Kincardineshire. A bronze spear lay beside it, and within it
were found, mingled with the ashes of the dead, two large bronze rings,
possibly designed to be worn as bracelets, and the broken and corroded
fragments of several others of smaller proportions.

The numerous discoveries of cinerary urns and sepulchral pottery of
various kinds, which have been made in Scotland, abundantly prove the
very extensive and long continued practice of the rite of cremation by
the early Britons. It is a just subject of regret that so very limited
a number of examples of these curious specimens of native art have been
preserved. The statistical accounts of nearly every parish in Scotland
report such discoveries, frequently in considerable numbers. Many
pass into private hands, to be forgotten and abandoned to neglect and
decay, when the transient influence of novelty has passed away; many
more are destroyed so soon as discovered. To the casual observer they
appear mere rude clay urns characterized by little variety or art. A
closer examination of them, however, shews that they are divisible by
periods, classes, and the adaptation to various purposes; and it is
hardly to be doubted that, with an ample and systematically arranged
collection, a much more minute classification might become apparent.
A more general diffusion of knowledge on this subject will, it is to
be hoped, aid in the accomplishment of so desirable an end. With the
hearty cooperation of landed proprietors, clergy, and the educated
classes who have influence in rural districts, it might be effected
at little cost or trouble; and it is impossible fully to anticipate
the important inferences that might become obvious, in relation to
the primeval history of our country, by such an accumulation of the
productions of native archaic art. Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, Roman,
and medieval manufactures, have all been patiently and enthusiastically
traced back to their first rude efforts. It is to the study of the
infancy of medieval art especially that the sculptors and painters of
Germany, France, and England, have now turned in their enthusiastic
anticipations of a new revival. Why should the infantile efforts of
our own national ancestry be alone deemed unworthy of regard, rude
though they be, and little akin to the favourite models of modern
schools? They form an important first-link in the history of native
design, and manifestly were among the earliest products of skilled
labour and inventive ingenuity. It is obvious, moreover, that the art
must have been in use for many generations. Amid the evidences of a
thinly scattered population, examples of it are still of very frequent
occurrence, after all the ravages of the spade and the plough. In these
we trace its gradual improvement, and from thence very effectually
discover proofs of the progress of their constructors. First in order
is the shapeless hand-made urn, merely dried in the sun. To this
succeed the imperfect efforts at decoration and symmetrical design,
and also the subjection of the moist clay to the process of the kiln.
Then comes the important discovery of the potter's wheel, in the train
of which many other improvements follow. Taste is displayed in a
variety of forms and ornamental patterns. In the source to which it is
conceived some of the more complicated of these designs are referrible,
we have another evidence of civilizing arts. Among the rarer contents
of the British sepulchral mounds, fragments of manufactured clothing
have been repeatedly found. These appear to have been invariably
wrought with the knitting-needle, and in their texture may be traced
the various patterns of herring-bone, chevron, and saltire work, as
well as nearly all the more complicated designs employed in ornamenting
the contemporary pottery. After a careful examination of the examples
within my reach, I have little doubt of this being the source of the
earliest imitative ornamentation, in advance of the first simple
attempts at combinations of incised lines. The subject will come again
under review in a future chapter; but, meanwhile, it may be noted here
as suggestive of the possible first source of decoration of the rude
cinerary urn, that its fragile texture may have been strengthened
by being surrounded with a platting of cords or rushes, which, in
tasteful hands, would assume the same forms as in the work of the
knitting needles, and thus lead to the reproduction of such patterns
by a more durable process on the clay. Humboldt describes a similar
practice which came under his notice at the village of Maniquarez in
South America, where the Indian women fashioned their rude vessels out
of a decomposed mica-slate, which they bound together with twigs, and
baked in the sun. It is certain that very many of the indented patterns
on British pottery have been produced by the impress of twisted cords
on the wet clay,--the intentional imitation, it may be, of undesigned
indentations originally made by the platted net-work on ruder urns,--so
simple and yet so natural may be the source to which we must look for
the first glimmering dawn of British art. Painters have delighted to
picture the Grecian maiden tracing her lover's shadow on the wall.
Perchance some British artist may not think it beneath his pencil to
restore to us the aboriginal potter marvelling at the unsought beauty
which his own hands have wrought.

Along with such evidences of taste and inventive ingenuity as the works
of the primitive potter display, the increasing demands of progressive
civilisation also become apparent in the adaptation of vessels to the
various requirements of domestic convenience or luxury; the clay-made
pottery improves from the clumsy, friable, ill-baked urn, into a vessel
of light and durable consistency, fitted for all the common purposes
of fictile ware. To this extent it was carried during the archaic era
of native art to which we give the name of the Bronze Period. It will
be seen in a future section that it received further improvements from
native skill before it was superseded by more ingenious arts indirectly
derived from Roman civilisation.


[319] Sinclair's Statist. Acco. vol. ii. p. 56.

[320] Archæological Journal, vol. vi. p. 53.

[321] John Dick, Esq. of Craigengelt.

[322] Archæologia, vol. xxvi. p. 422. _Vide_ also Walker's Hist. Essay
on the Dress of the Ancient Irish, (Dublin, 1788,) for a notice of a
gold corslet, found near Lismore, and sold to a goldsmith at Cork for

[323] MS. Letters, W. T. P. Shortt, Esq. of Heavitree, Exeter.

[324] Blind Harry's Wallace, b. iv. l. 272.

[325] Memorials of Edinburgh, vols. ii, iii.

[326] The Bowl and Torc are both engraved on Plate III.

[327] Pliny, xxxvi. 22.

[328] Vol. xiv. p. 278, Plates LI., LII., LIII.

[329] Roy's Military Antiquities, p. 201. Plate XXXVIII.

[330] A group of similar bronze vessels of commoner forms, including
an example of the Roman sacrificial patera, preserved in the
Abbotsford collection, is engraved among the illustrations to the
"Antiquary."--_Abbotsford Edit._ vol. ii. p. 12.

[331] Archæologia Scotica, vol. iv. p. 298, and Plate XII.

[332] New Statist. Acc. vol. ii. Berwickshire, p. 171.

[333] MS. Letters and Drawings, Alexander Thomson of Banchory, Esq.,
1st Nov. 1817. Libr. Soc. Antiq. Scot. The small cup figured along with
them is the one found on Arthur's Seat, near Edinburgh. _Ante_, p. 228.

[334] _Ante_ p. 170, No. 10 of cranial measurements.

[335] Vol. ii. p. 76.

[336] Vol. xix. Plate XLIII.

[337] It is engraved along with the Banchory urns, _ante_ p. 283.



In nothing is the singular inequality so characteristic of archaic art
more strikingly apparent than in the contrast frequently observable
between the rude clay urn of the Scottish tumulus or cairn and the
valuable and beautiful relics which it contains. Many of the latter,
indeed, are scarcely admissible under any classification of archaic
art. They differ more in characteristic peculiarities of style than in
inferiority of design when compared with the relics of the Anglo-Roman
period. Reference has already been made to the probable sources from
whence the abundant supplies of gold were derived by the primitive
Caledonian metallurgist. But whencesoever they are assumed to have been
procured, the fact is unquestionable, that while silver was exceedingly
rare, if not, indeed, entirely unknown, until almost the close of the
Bronze Period, gold appears to have been one of the very first metals
wrought, and to have been obtained in such abundance as to supply
material for numerous personal ornaments of large size and great weight.

But the skill and ingenuity of the primitive artist was not solely
confined to ornaments wrought in gold or bronze. The humblest materials
assumed new value by the aid of his ingenuity and taste; and not
a few of the personal ornaments of a comparatively late stage of
progression in the Bronze Period are still formed of stone, or of the
more easily wrought jet and bituminous shale. Beads and necklaces of
the latter materials are of very frequent occurrence, and while some
are characterized by little evidence of taste or ingenuity, many more
are the manifest products of experienced mechanical skill. In these
especially we detect the evidence of the use of the turning-lathe,
and its ingenious adaptation to the production of a great variety
of articles. This we may fairly regard as another important step in
advance of the improvements already detected in the native fictile
wares by the introduction of the potter's wheel. Some antiquaries,
indeed, have been inclined to class those, as well as so many other
evidences of native skill, either among the direct products of Roman
art, or as the fruits of the civilizing influence resulting from
intercourse with the Roman colonists; but if previous evidences of
the priority of the early native eras are of the slightest value, the
circumstances under which many jet and shale ornaments and relics have
been found leave no room to doubt that they are the products of unaided
native ingenuity and mechanical skill. These materials, however,
continued to be used during the Anglo-Roman period, and to partake
of the influences of Italian art in the forms which they assumed. It
therefore becomes necessary to exercise the same care in discriminating
between the products of native and foreign taste in the relics of jet
or shale, as in those of the metals, or of glass and ivory. According
to Solinus jet was one of the articles of export from Britain; and
Bede speaks of British jet as abundant and highly valued.[338] But
from these evidences of its later foreign use we may infer its early
adoption for construction of personal ornaments by the native Britons,
among whom its fitness for such purposes was very probably first
recognised. The style of many of the relics of this class found in the
primitive cists and cairns, and especially of those which are presumed
to be female ornaments, totally differs from Anglo-Roman or classic
remains, and abundantly confirms their native origin, already rendered
so exceedingly probable from their discovery in early sepulchral
mounds. An interesting discovery of such relics, made in the parish of
Houstoun, Renfrewshire, during the latter part of last century, is thus
described in the Old Statistical Account:

    "When the country people were digging for stones to inclose
    their farms, they met with several chests or coffins of
    flag-stones, set on their edges, sides, and ends, and covered
    with the same sort of stones above, in which were many human
    bones of a large size, and several skulls in some of them. In
    one was found many trinkets of a jet black substance, some
    round, others round and oblong, and others of a diamond shape,
    &c., all perforated. Probably they were a necklace. There was a
    thin piece, about two inches broad at one end, and perforated
    with many holes, but narrow at the other; the broad end, full
    of holes, seemed to be designed for suspending many trinkets as
    an ornament on the breast."[339]

In 1841 a stone cist was discovered on the estate of Burgie, in the
parish of Rafford, Elginshire, which measured internally three feet
in length by two feet in breadth. It contained a skeleton, believed
to be that of a female from the small size of the bones, in a sitting
posture, and with the head in contact with the knees. Beside the
skeleton stood an urn ten inches high, rudely decorated with incised
lines; and alongside of it were found a ring of polished shale or
cannel coal, two and a half inches in diameter; four rhomboidal pieces
of the same material, the largest pair two inches long; two triangular
pieces, and about an hundred large beads, all perforated for the
purpose of being strung together for a necklace. Various other cists
have been discovered on the same estate, generally containing urns; but
this is believed to have been the only example of the ring and necklace
of polished shale.

A necklace formed in part of similar ornaments is now in the
interesting collection of Adam Arbuthnot, Esq., of Peterhead. It
was found a few years since in a tumulus in the parish of Cruden,
Aberdeenshire, and consists of alternate beads of jet and perforated
but irregular pieces of amber. The largest beads measure about four
inches in length, from which they diminish to about an inch. The only
other object beside them was a flint hatchet about seven inches long;
so that this curious example of primitive personal ornaments may be
assumed to belong to the earliest period, or perhaps to that of the
transition from stone to metallic weapons and implements.

On opening a cairn on the hill of Auchmacher, Aberdeenshire, about
1790, an urn was exposed, in the mouth of which lay a number of
circular perforated beads of black shale.[340] About the same period
another urn was dug up in the parish of Ceres, Fifeshire, within which
a smaller one was inclosed, and in it, in addition to the incinerated
remains, lay a small brass implement, probably a hair-pin, (described
as resembling a shoemaker's awl,) and a small black bead cut in diamond

[Illustration: Jet Necklace, Ross-shire.]

Various interesting personal ornaments obtained under similar
circumstances, are preserved in the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries,
and one set in particular, found inclosed in an urn within a rude stone
cist, on the demolition of a tumulus near the Old House of Assynt,
Ross-shire, in 1824, very closely correspond in appearance to the
description of the Renfrewshire relics. They include a necklace of
irregular oval jet beads, which appear to have been strung together
like a common modern string of beads, and are sufficiently rude to
correspond with the works of a very primitive era. The other ornaments
which are represented here, about one-fourth the size of the original,
are curiously studded with gold spots, arranged in patterns similar
to those with which the rude pottery of the British tumuli are most
frequently decorated, and the whole are perforated with holes, passing
obliquely from the back through the edge, evidently designed for
attaching them to each other by means of threads.[342] Several other
urns were discovered in a large cairn, a few miles distant from the
tumulus which contained these interesting and tasteful relics of female
adornment, as they are with great probability assumed to be; though
it is well known that the modes of personal decoration which modern
taste and refinement reserve for the fair sex are very differently
apportioned in ruder states of society. The comparative anatomist can
alone absolutely determine this question by future observations on the
bones discovered along with similar remains. Meanwhile these examples
are of peculiar value from the conclusion previously assumed by Sir
Richard Colt Hoare, after examination of various sepulchral deposits
containing similar relics, that the female barrow very rarely contains
urns. Another sepulchral deposit of similar personal ornaments,
including two fibulæ or discs of bituminous shale measuring one and
a half inches in diameter, found in a grave at Letham, was presented
to the Scottish Museum in 1820 by Sir David Brewster. It probably
formed a portion of the contents of a group of cists discovered in a
round gravel knoll or tumulus, near the Den of Letham, and described
in the New Statistical Account of Dunnichen Parish, Forfarshire. They
contained urns of red clay with rude ornaments upon them, and human
bones irregularly disposed. "The neck-bones of some were adorned with
strings of beads of a beautiful glossy black colour, neatly perforated
longitudinally, and strung together by the fibres of animals. They were
of an oval figure; large and small ones were arranged alternately,
the large ones flat on the two opposite surfaces, the small ones
round. They seemed to consist of ebony, or of some fine-grained wood
which had been charred and then finely polished. On keeping them some
time they split into plates, and the woody fibres separated. In some
of these graves rusty daggers were found, which fell in pieces by
handling."[343] One is almost tempted to challenge the completeness of
this account, and to suspect the position of the necklaces, and perhaps
the fibre-strings also, to be creations of the statist's imagination,
more especially as the graves contained no perfect skeleton, but only
loose bones. The woodcut represents a fibula of the same material,
in the possession of James Drummond, Esq. It is drawn one-half the
size of the original, which was recently found in a moss at Crawford
Moor, near Carstairs, Lanarkshire. Simple as its form is it is not
unfamiliar to the British antiquary. Sir R. C. Hoare describes and
figures one exactly similar, found on opening a bell-shaped barrow at
Blandford, and examples are referred to in the Ancient Wiltshire and
other works.[344] Whether we regard this uniformity of type as evidence
of the extent of intercourse anciently carried on among the most widely
severed tribes, or of some system by which such relics were diffused
by the wandering trader throughout the whole British islands, such
comparisons cannot fail to interest the student of primitive history,
trifling though they may appear, and to stimulate him to further
investigation of such analogies.


English antiquaries have long been familiar with relics of this class,
under the local name of ornaments of Kimmeridge Coal, and also with a
more mysterious variety formed of the same material, on which the name
of "Kimmeridge Coal Money" was conferred, from the idea that these
symmetrical pieces of shale were used as a circulating medium before
the introduction of the metals. The material of which the whole of
this class of relics are composed has obviously been applied to the
manufacture of personal ornaments from a very remote era, though the
so-called coal money probably belongs to a comparatively late period.
Some interesting examples of necklaces and other ornaments, precisely
similar in style and character to those found in the Renfrew, Ross,
and Fifeshire tumuli, were discovered on opening some Derbyshire
barrows in 1846. These "female decorations of Kimmeridge coal," as
they are styled in the account of the discovery in the Journal of
the Archæological Association,[345] were deposited beside a female
skeleton, in a cist formed of large stones. "The other instruments
found on this occasion were all of flint, not the least fragment of
metallic substance being visible. The ornament appears to have been a
kind of necklace, with a central decoration, enriched by bone or ivory
plates, ornamented with the chevron pattern so prevalent on articles of
presumed Celtic manufacture, terminating with two laterally perforated
studs of the coal; the remainder of the ornament consists of two rows
of bugle-shaped beads of the same material." A few days later, two
more necklaces, of similar design and material, were found in a cist
under a barrow in the same county, in like manner accompanied only
with implements of flint and bone. Engravings of some of these relics
accompany the narrative of their discovery; and their remarkable
similarity to those of the early Scottish tumuli, leaves no doubt
that both belong to the same period. It is remarked of the Derbyshire
relics by their discoverer,--"On the most superficial examination,
it is quite evident that these articles have never received their
form from the lathe, as the armlets of Kimmeridge coal are clearly
proved to have done. This, coupled with the fact that the perforation
through the length of the bead is in no instance carried through from
one end, but is bored each way towards the centre, (as would be the
case if a rude drill of flint were used for the purpose,) bespeaks a
far more remote period than the one in which the use of the lathe was
prevalent."[346] Both the unsymmetrical form, and the perforation of
the beads found in the Ross-shire tumulus, fully correspond with these
in the indications of the imperfect skill and rude instruments of their
manufacturers. But the slow progress of native art was first aided,
as we have seen, by the introduction of the potter's wheel; and from
this, in all probability, originated the more ingenious contrivance of
the turning-lathe. Whencesoever derived, its influence is abundantly
apparent on the later relics of native art.

The "coal money" of the elder school of English antiquaries is found
almost exclusively in two little secluded valleys at Purbeck, on the
southern coast of Dorsetshire, known as Kimmeridge and Worthbarrow
Bays. Similar relics, however, it will be seen, are not unknown in
Scotland, though designated by other names than the local term derived
from Kimmeridge Bay. They consist of flat circular pieces of shale,
with bevelled and moulded edges, varying in size from 1¼ to nearly 3
inches in diameter, and frequently perforated or indented with one or
more holes. The actual purpose for which this coinage of the Kimmeridge
Mint was destined, long formed an antiquarian riddle, which baffled the
acutest English archæologists; for the popular name was rather adopted
as a convenient term, than seriously regarded as properly applicable to
articles so fragile and valueless. One ingenious but somewhat fanciful
theorist did, indeed, attempt to prove these relics to be the work of
Phœnician artists, designed, not as an actual circulating medium, "but
as representatives of coin, and of some mystical use in sacrificial or
sepulchral rites!" All such ideas, however, are now entirely exploded,
and it is no longer doubted that these are the waste pieces produced
in the formation of rings from the shale on the turning-lathe. The
fragments of pottery, and other relics discovered along with these
curious exuviæ of early art, leave little room to doubt that during
the Anglo-Roman period a manufacture of amulets, beads, and other
personal ornaments of Kimmeridge shale, must have been carried on to a
considerable extent in the Isle of Purbeck.[347]

The popular idea of the use of such circular pieces of shale as money
is found attached to them in Scotland as well as in England. In the
account of the parish of Portpatrick, it is remarked,--"Circular
pieces, from two to three inches diameter, cut out of a black slate
not found in the parish, are frequently dug up in the churchyard, along
with rings out of which these pieces seem to have been cut. Both of
these are supposed by the people here to have been used as money."[348]

Similar relics have been found in Kirkcudbright and other southern
shires; and Mr. Joseph Train describes others, not greatly differing
in character, found near the large moat or tumulus on the farm
of Hallferne, parish of Crossmichael, where also a beautiful
Druidical bead was discovered, nearly an inch in diameter, composed
of pale-coloured glass, with a waving stripe of yellow round the
circumference. In Kirkcudbrightshire, these ornaments of shale have
retained nearly to our own day the same rank in popular estimation for
their medicinal virtues, or supernatural powers, as we find ascribed
to the ornaments and amulets of jet among the Romans.[349] Mr. Train

    "There have been found, at different times, near the same moat,
    several round flat stones, each five or six inches diameter,
    perforated artificially in the centre. Even within the memory
    of some persons yet alive, these perforated stones were used
    in Galloway to counteract the supposed effects of witchcraft,
    particularly in horses and black cattle. 'The cannie wife
    o' Glengappoch put a boirt stane into ane tub filled with
    water, and causit syne the haill cattell to pass by, and, when
    passing, springled ilk ane o' them with a besome dipped in it.'
    One of these perforated stones, as black and glossy as polished
    ebony, is also in my possession. It was recently found in the
    ruins of an old byre, where it had evidently been placed for
    the protection of the cattle."[350]

Ure remarks in his History of Kilbride, "a ring of a hard black
schistous, found in a cairn in the parish of Inchinan, has performed,
if we believe report, many astonishing cures. It is to this day
preserved in the parish as an inestimable specific."[351] Similar
proofs of the superstitious reverence attached to these ancient relics
are by no means rare.

From evidence already referred to, it is abundantly obvious that
ornaments both of shale and jet were in use at the period of the
Roman colonization of Britain, and this is further confirmed by
their discovery along with Anglo-Roman sepulchral remains. Most of
those, however, exhibit a degree of finish and ornamentation which
distinguishes them from works in the same materials of an older date.
Still it is the more needful to examine with care the circumstances
under which the latter have been found, and to ascertain, if possible,
whether they are contemporary works of ruder execution, or really
pertain to an earlier era. Relics of this class, it is obvious, are by
no means uncommon; and it is with a view to the discrimination of those
of native origin from the later products of foreign art, that so many
examples are here referred to.

Sir Robert Sibbald thus notices the occurrence of rings or armlets
of shale in Scottish sepulchral mounds:--"Some full circles, of a
black colour, very smooth, two or three inches in diameter, are found
in the cairns or burroughs. They are very light, and when fire is
put to them they burn and give a good smell, and seem to be made of
odoriferous gums."[352] Mr. Ure appears to have tried the same costly
experiment, and remarks as its result, that they burn with a clear
flame. There formerly existed in the district of Logie, Forfarshire,
a remarkable group of tumuli, called the Three Laws of Logie; which
agricultural operations have since nearly obliterated. On opening one
of these, it proved to contain four human skeletons, near to which
was one of the above relics, described "as a beautiful ring, supposed
to be of ebony, as black as jet, of a fine polish, and in perfect
preservation. It is of a circular form, flat in the inside, and rounded
without. Its circumference is about twelve inches, and its diameter
four inches."[353] A large cairn, in the parish of East Kilbride, bore
the name of Queen Mary's Mount, from the tradition that the unhappy
Queen witnessed from its summit the Battle of Langside, and beheld the
sceptre of a kingdom pass for ever from her grasp. But such touching
historical associations could not suffice to rescue the venerable
memorial from the hands of the destroyer. For years it supplied the
whole neighbouring districts with materials for building stone fences,
until some workmen employed in removing the remaining stones, in 1792,
discovered a chamber containing about twenty-five urns full of earth
and human bones. These urns, some of which have been engraved in Ure's
History, were of the most primitive shape and character, "rudely
formed, seemingly with no other instrument than the hand, and so soft
as easily to be scratched with the nail. They were of different sizes,
mostly about twelve inches deep, and six wide at the mouth. None of
them were destitute of ornaments; but these were extremely rude, and
seem to have been done in a hurry, with a sharp-pointed instrument.
They were all placed with their mouths undermost upon flat stones; and
a piece of white quartz was found in the centre of the mouth of each,
larger and smaller, in proportion to the dimensions of the several
urns."[354] A cist of about four feet square was placed exactly in the
centre of the cairn, near to which was a bronze fibula of extremely
rude form; another, still simpler in design, was found in one of the
urns, and a bronze comb, equally characteristic of primitive arts, in
a second; while alongside of them lay one of the rings of bituminous
shale. The bronze relics are all engraved by Ure, so that a tolerably
perfect idea can be formed of their design and workmanship. He
pronounces them, according to the fashion of his time, to be Roman, but
they bear no resemblance to the rudest specimens of Anglo-Roman art.
Similar ornaments of shale have been discovered both in the Northern
and Western Isles, furthest removed from Roman arts and influence.
One example, which is here engraved one half the natural size, was
found in the Isle of Skye, and presented to the Scottish Society of
Antiquaries in 1782. It is supposed to be designed for the clasp of a
belt. Two rings of the same material, each measuring 3½ inches in
diameter, were discovered about two years later on the same island, and
added to the Scottish Museum. Another, four inches in diameter, flat
on the inside, and rounded without, as is most frequently the case,
was obtained from a tumulus in the parish of Logie, Forfarshire, along
with an urn full of ashes, and the remains of four skeletons.[355] In
1832, some labourers levelling a sandy field at Dubbs, in the parish
of Stevenston, Ayrshire, came upon a paved area five feet under the
surface, measuring six yards long and two broad. Across the one end lay
a stone of about a ton weight, and at the other there was found a stone
cist, measuring three feet in length by two in breadth. Within it were
two urns, one of gray and the other of black pottery, both apparently
filled only with earth, and beside them lay five studs or buttons of
different sizes, formed of highly polished jet. The urns were broken,
but the studs were preserved by the late Colonel Hamilton. They are
convex on the one side, and concave on the other, with knobs left in
the latter, seemingly for attaching them to the dress. The largest is
more than an inch in diameter.[356] Two other rings of polished shale,
similar to those already described, were discovered in 1786, lying
beside a skeleton, on removing a large flat stone within the area of
one of those circular towers in Caithness, commonly termed burghs, or
Pictish Forts. Beside them lay a bone pin, and two fine oval brooches,
(the _Skaalformet Spande_ of Danish antiquaries,) such as have been
frequently discovered in the Northern and Western Isles, and are now
generally ascribed to the era of the Vikings.


Such examples, it is obvious, might be greatly multiplied, but enough
have been cited to enable us to trace the use of those ornaments from
probably the earliest years of the Bronze Period to the close of the
latest Pagan era. The rings, which form the most common articles
manufactured of shale, have been usually considered as armlets, but
it is very doubtful if such was their real use. Many of them, indeed,
are too small to admit of the hand passing through them, and rings of
similar size and form are discovered of various other materials. One in
the Scottish Museum, apparently of glazed earthenware, and measuring
nearly three inches in diameter, was found under a large cairn at
Bogheads, Kintore parish, Aberdeenshire, in 1789, and beside it lay
four oblong squared pieces of polished shale, the two largest two
inches in length, the other two an inch and a half, and an inch broad.
Between each pair were three oval beads of the same substance, nearly
an inch long. They were described, when presented to the Society, as
having been suspended from the ring; but it is more probable that they
formed, as in other cases, a separate necklace. A number of cairns,
some of them of very large dimensions, still remain on the extensive
moor which occupies a considerable area in both the parishes of
Kinellar and Kintore. Another ring in the same collection, formed of a
white translucent stone, was found on the Flanders Moss, Perthshire;
and a third made of hard dark wood, 3½ inches in diameter, and 1¾
inches broad, was discovered near a cairn on the north side of Hatlock,
in Tweeddale, on first subjecting the neighbouring heath to the plough
in 1784. It has been suggested that these rings formed part of the
female head gear, through which the hair was drawn; and a sculptured
female head, found at Bath, is referred to, on which an ornament
somewhat resembling them is represented so applied.[357] The discovery
of such rings alongside of female ornaments, such as the necklaces and
pendants already described, seems to justify the classification of
them among objects of mere personal adornment; and where found singly,
their supposed use in the arrangement of the long locks of their owners
furnishes a very feasible explanation of the purpose for which they
were designed. Nevertheless, the frequency of their occurrence, under
a great variety of circumstances, suggests the idea that these rings
may possess a higher value as the records of long obsolete rites and
customs, than pertains to the mere objects of personal adornment. They
have been found accompanying female ornaments, and apparently with
female remains; but they have also been discovered no less certainly
in the sepulchres of warriors and chiefs, and under cairns which seem
to mark the last resting-place of those who fell in the grim strife of
war. We shall not perhaps greatly err, if we trace in these relics of
such frequent occurrence something analogous to the sacramental ring of
the Scandinavians, described in the Eyrbiggia-Saga, and referred to in
a former chapter in illustration of the perforated stone at Stennis, in
Orkney, and the vow of Odin of which it was the seal. Dr. Hibbert has
already observed on this subject,--

    "In Iceland a less bulky ring for the ratification of
    engagements was introduced. Within the hof was a division, like
    a choir in a church, where stood an elevation in the middle
    of the floor, and an altar. Upon the altar was placed a ring,
    without any joint, of the value of two oras. These rings (idly
    named Druidical amulets) are variously formed of bone, of jet,
    of stone, and even of the precious metals. Some are so wide as
    to allow the palm of the hand to be passed through them, which
    rings were used when parties entered into mutual compacts.
    In a woodcut given in an old edition of Olaus Magnus, the
    solemnization of a betrothing contract is represented by the
    bridegroom passing his four fingers and palm through a large
    ring, and in this manner receiving the hand of the bride. This
    is similar to the mode practised in Orkney, where contracting
    parties join hands through the perforation, or more properly
    speaking the ring, of a stone pillar. In the oath administered
    to an individual as a test of veracity, it was sufficient that
    he held in his hand a ring of small size, dipped in the blood
    of sacrificial victims."[358]

An illustration of the mode of administering such an oath occurs
in Viga Glum's Saga. In the midst of a wedding party Glum calls upon
Thorarin, his accuser, to hear his oath, and taking in his hand a
silver ring, which had been dipped in sacrificial blood, he cites two
witnesses to testify to his oath on the ring, and his having appealed
to the gods in his denial of the charge. These customs belong to a more
recent era than that to which we refer the Scottish Bronze Period. But
it is impossible to say to how remote an era we must look for their
origin, or how long before the time of the Vikings, the Scandinavian
and Celtic races, as well as their Allophylian precursors, had been
familiar in their common cradle-land in the far east, with rites and
usages from which the sacredness of this sacramental ring may have

Viewed in this light the frequent occurrence of such relics in the
cist, or under the memorial cairn, may be pregnant with a far higher
meaning than the mere ornamental fibula or amulet. When found with the
spear and sword, the ring may indicate the grave of the warrior-priest
or lawgiver,--a union of offices so consistent with society in a
primitive state; while, in the female barrow, amid the bracelets and
necklaces which once adorned the primitive British matron, the curious
relic may, with no undue indulgence of fancy, be looked upon as the
spousal pledge, and the literal wedding-ring. It seems, indeed, most
probable, that the little golden ring with which, in these modern
centuries, we wed, is none other than the symbolic memorial of the old
sacramental ring which witnessed the vows of our rude island fathers,
and was made the pledge of their plighted troth. This, however, is
perhaps trespassing beyond the pale of legitimate induction into the
seductive regions of fancy, where antiquaries have too frequently
chosen to wander at their own sweet will.


In some degree akin to the personal ornaments of jet and shale are the
large beads of glass or vitreous paste, and amber, so well known among
the contents of British tumuli, and associated even in our own day,
with the same superstitious virtues ascribed to them in the writings
of the philosophic but credulous Pliny. The very same story, in fact,
is told of the _Adder-stane_ in the popular legends of the Scottish
Lowlands as Pliny records of the origin of the _Ovum Anguinum_.
The various names by which these relics are designated all point to
their estimation as amulets or superstitious charms, and the fact of
their occurrence, most frequently singly, in the sepulchral cist or
urn, seems to prove that it was as such, and not merely as personal
ornaments, that they were deposited along with the ashes of the dead.
They are variously known as Adder Beads, Serpent Stones, Druidical
Beads, and among the Welsh and Irish by the synonymous terms of _Gleini
na Droedh_, and _Glaine nan Druidhe_, signifying the Magician's
or Druid's glass. Many of them are exceedingly beautiful, and are
characterized by considerable ingenuity in the variations of style.
Among those in the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries there is one of
red glass, spotted with white; another of dark brown glass, streaked
with yellow; others of pale green and blue glass, plain and ribbed;
and two of curiously figured patterns, wrought with various colours
interwoven on their surface. The specimens engraved here are selected
from these. Among a curious collection of antiquities discovered in
a barrow on Barnham Downs, and exhibited by Lord Landesborough at a
meeting of the Society of Antiquaries of London, March 7, 1850, there
was a large glass bead, which had been broken and ingeniously repaired
with a hoop of bronze,--a significant indication of the great value
attached to it.


Beads of amber, stone, clay, and porcelain, as well as of horn
and bone, are all more or less common among the early sepulchral
deposits, and may be regarded with little hesitation as of native
workmanship. Amber, though not indigenous to this country, is of
sufficiently frequent occurrence to abundantly account for its use
in the manufacture of personal ornaments, without assuming its
importation from the Baltic, where it most largely abounds. Both
Boece[359] and Camden notice the finding of pieces of extraordinary
size at Buchanness, on the coast of Aberdeenshire. The clergyman of
the parish of Peterhead, in the same county, in drawing up an account
of his parish for Sir John Sinclair, mentions having in his possession
"a pretty large piece of amber," recently found on the sea-beach near
the manse; and in 1783, Mr. George Paton presented to the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland two pieces found on the sea-shore in the Frith
of Forth, near Queensferry. The fact, indeed, of amber being obtained
in the greatest quantities on the southern coasts of the Baltic Sea,
is abundantly sufficient to account for its also frequently occurring
in smaller quantities on the east coast of Scotland. It appears
accordingly to have formed one of the most favourite articles for
adorning and setting brooches, hair-pins, and other personal ornaments,
from the earliest practice of the jeweller's art, until our native
tastes and customs were merged, by increasing intercourse with other
nations, into the common characteristics of later medieval art.

The source from whence the "Adder Beads" were derived is more
difficult of solution. The most probable means of accounting for their
introduction to Britain is by the Phœnicians, or by traders in direct
communication with that people, whose early skill in the manufacture
of glass is familiar to us, and to whom we in all probability owe the
initiative suggestions and examples which originated the most important
improvements characteristic of the period now under consideration.
Still it must be borne in remembrance, that after all we know extremely
little, and almost nothing precise or definite, concerning Phœnician
intercourse with Britain. Druids, Picts, and Danes have all been very
convenient names which have too often saved Scottish antiquaries, and
indeed English antiquaries also, the trouble of reasoning, and helped
to conceal the fact, from themselves as well as others, that they
really knew nothing about the questions they undertook to discuss. If
we merely substitute for these the name of the Phœnicians little indeed
will be gained by the exchange.

Sir William Hamilton has undertaken to prove the Italian workmanship
of the glass beads found in Britain, on the very slender evidence
of the discovery of one at Naples similar to British examples.
They have undoubtedly been found both in England and Scotland
accompanied with Roman relics, though much more frequently in
native sepulchres apparently long prior to the Anglo-Roman era. Ure
describes and engraves one of ribbed blue glass--bearing considerable
resemblance to another in the Scottish Museum from the Isle of
Skye--which was discovered in a large inclosed tumulus in Rutherglen
parish, Lanarkshire, along with what appear to have been two Roman
patellæ.[360] But the same relics have been found along the coasts of
the Baltic and the Mediterranean; they abound equally in Ireland and
the north of Scotland, where the Romans rarely or never were, and in
England and Gaul, which they so long occupied and colonized. They have
been obtained also not unfrequently in Egyptian catacombs accompanying
relics long prior to the Roman era. Raspe, in his introduction to
Tassie's Gems, refers to the so-called Druid's beads as belonging to
the same class as the "rich coloured glass and enamels found amongst
the Egyptian antiquities;" and Colonel Howard Vyse mentions them
among the numerous relics found in exploring "Campbell's Tomb" at
Gizeh, which appears to have been constructed during the reign of
Psammetichus II., about B.C. 600. But indeed the most conclusive and
altogether incontrovertible evidence of the remote antiquity to which
these singular and widely-diffused relics belong, is to be found in
the fact, that their origin and virtues were the subjects of the same
superstitious fables in the age of Pliny, as in the British folk-lore
of the eighteenth century. We shall not, I think, overstep the limits
of fair induction in viewing these beads as affording another proof
of the extensive, though probably indirect intercourse, by means of
which the races of the north of Europe participated in the reflex of
southern civilisation many centuries before we can trace any allusion
to them in the world's elder literature; unless where the fond Briton
seeks to include his sea-girt home amid "the isles of the Gentiles" of
the Hebrew Scriptures, or dimly discerns them in the Cassiterides of
Herodotus. It should be noted, in connexion with this subject, that
other glass relics have occasionally been found among the contents
of British tumuli, though much too rarely to afford any countenance
to the idea of a primitive native manufacture of glass. One imperfect
example in the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries, found in a cist in
the island of Westray, Orkney, apparently deposited on the breast of
the deceased, is described by its donor as "the only specimen hitherto
discovered of glass contained in these cemeteries." It appears to have
been a cup, not improbably of Roman manufacture, the bottom of which
is marked with concentric circles in relief. The extreme rarity of
such articles probably characterizes this as another example of the
ungrudging generosity of affectionate reverence for the deceased, no
less marked than the more valued sepulchral deposits of the precious

Of the beautiful gold and silver relics exposed from time to time on
the opening of Scottish sepulchral tumuli, or brought to light in the
course of agricultural operations, only the most trifling moiety has
escaped the clutches of ignorant cupidity. But even the few existing
specimens are sufficient to excite the deepest sorrow that such works
of early native art, frequently characterized by a style altogether
unique, and exceedingly beautiful in design and ornament, should
be discovered only to be destroyed. Some idea of the great variety
of Scottish gold relics may be formed even from the few examples
preserved or minutely described; but a much greater number might be
noted which are known to have been destroyed, without any opportunity
having been afforded even of accurately observing their form, or
learning of the circumstances under which they were discovered. The
plain gold armillæ from Banffshire, already referred to, and engraved
along with the urn in which they lay, in the Archæologia Scotica,[361]
furnish sufficiently rude specimens of primitive personal ornaments.
Though it can hardly admit of a doubt that they have been designed
as armillæ or bracelets, yet the difference in weight, and even more
in apparent bulk, sufficiently illustrates the inexperience of their
maker. Their respective weights are--1 oz. 5 dwts. 14 grs., and 1 oz.
14 grs. But along with them were examples of one of the simplest yet
most interesting class of gold relics discovered in the British Isles.
These are described in the Archæologia Scotica as nose and ear-rings,
but they are simply formed of bars of gold bent in a circular form,
and the extremities left disunited. Two of them are ornamented with
parallel grooves along the outer side, but they are of unequal sizes,
and in no degree differ from the numerous class of penannular relics
now designated by most antiquaries as "ring-money"; though the idea
of their use as nose-rings had been formerly advanced by Colonel
Vallancey,[362] and has been more than once revived.[363] In a valuable
article by Mr. Albert Way, on the ornaments of gold discovered in the
British Islands, examples of British ring-money are engraved, including
the simple penannular ornament, the crescent, and beaded and torquated
rings.[364] It is not necessary to enter at large on the disputed
question of the use of these relics as currency. Many ingenious, and as
I think satisfactory arguments, have been adduced in favour of their
original purpose as a circulating medium; though this was in no degree
incompatible with their use as personal ornaments. That such rings
passed for money among the Egyptians is proved by representations of
the weighing of gold and silver ring-money on their paintings; as, for
example, in one of the grottos in the hill of Shek Abd el Qoorneh,
which bears the cartouche of Amunoph II. inscribed on its walls. The
same metallic currency is obviously alluded to in the incident of the
Hebrew patriarchs on their first visit to Egypt: "Every man's money
was in the mouth of his sack, our money _in full weight_." It was
perhaps even better suited than a regular coinage for furnishing an
acceptable substitute for barter among a comparatively rude people, and
may therefore be assumed with considerable probability as one of the
improvements resulting from intercourse with the Phœnician traders.
Such a system of exchange will also suffice to account for one foreign
source of the abundant supply of gold during this primitive era; thus
introduced in a form well suited to the imperfect ideas of a people
whose trade probably long retained more of the original character of
barter than that of sale and purchase, and who would receive the gold
rings only as so much metal. There is reason to believe, however, that
both in Scotland and Ireland the ring-money continued in use long after
Cunobeline and other British princes had sought to rival the Roman
mintage. In the Irish annals there is frequent mention of gold rings
of different sizes offered at the shrines of Icolmkill, St. Patrick,
&c. The inferior metals appear also to have been current in this simple
form. Rings of bronze, exactly corresponding to the gold "ring-money"
have been found both in the ruins of Persepolis and of Carthage,
as well as in Egypt. They are well known to Irish antiquaries, and
are probably more common in Scotland than is generally supposed. The
imperfect bronze rings already referred to among the contents of a
cinerary urn dug up in the parish of Ratho, Mid-Lothian, are of this
description; and similar relics are occasionally described among the
contents of the weems or subterranean dwellings. In 1835 a large
tumulus, near the summit of Carmylie Hill, Forfarshire, popularly known
as the "Fairy Hillock," was invaded, and among a deposit of half-burnt
bones and charcoal several penannular bronze rings were discovered,
varying in size from about two inches to two-thirds of an inch in
diameter. They are quite plain, as if they had been formed by simply
cutting and bending into shape a rod of bronze wire. This ancient
and primitive form of currency which we detect along with the first
elements of British civilisation, has perhaps never ceased to be used
in some parts of the African continent since that remote era when it
sufficed for payment of the exactions of the Egyptian Pharaohs. Mr.
Way remarks,--"I am indebted to the Duke of Northumberland for the
opportunity of examining specimens of African gold money, especially
interesting as having been made under his own inspection at Sennaar.
His Grace favoured me with the following particulars:--He chanced to
notice a blacksmith occupied in forming these rings; and inquiring
as to their use, the man replied, that having no work in hand for
his forge he was making money. The gold wire being very flexible was
bent into rings without precise conformity in regard to weight, and
was thus converted into money. It passed current by weight. The gold
is so flexible that the rings are readily opened, to be linked into
a chain for the convenience of keeping them together, and as readily
detached when a payment was to be made."[365] Manillas, as they are
now generally termed, are regularly manufactured at Birmingham for the
African traders. They are made of copper, or of an alloy of copper
and iron, and are sold at the rate of £105 per ton for copper, and
£22 for iron rings. The copper ring weighs two and a half ounces, and
passes current in Africa at a value equivalent to fourpence sterling.
The Banffshire gold relics furnish examples both of plain and grooved
ring-money. Of the former class one of about £2 value is described in
the Old Statistical Account, found at Tiree, Argyleshire, in 1792.[366]
Mr. Paton of Dunfermline possesses a gold torquated ring, obtained in
that neighbourhood. Another, found in one of the weems or subterranean
dwellings on the island of Shapinshay, Orkney, "composed, as it were,
of three cords twisted or plaited together," is minutely described
in the Statistical Account of the parish;[367] and in the London
Numismatic Society's Museum, African gold relics, exactly corresponding
to these, are preserved among the primitive types of coinage. Plated
rings of similar form have also been occasionally discovered both in
Scotland and Ireland, which it is more difficult to conceive of as a
substitute for current coin, unless we assume the perverse ingenuity
of the forger, usually ranked among the vices of modern civilisation,
to be even as ancient as the era of British ring-money. One of these
composite penannular relics, in the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries,
was found in the Isle of Skye. It is of copper, covered with a thick
plating of pure gold, and when perfect must have bid defiance to
detection of its internal inferiority. It is thicker than the usual
ring-money, so that the gold has been forced into folds or wrinkles on
the inner side in bending it into shape.[368]


The most simple gold ornaments of larger size found in the British
Islands are the massive rings with dilated ends, disunited, but
generally brought nearly in contact, which are of frequent occurrence
in connexion with the rarer objects of the Bronze Period. They are
generally assumed to have been worn as armillæ, and to have their ends
disunited for the convenience of the wearer. One strong objection
to this supposition is to be found in the frequent extension of the
dilated edges of the two ends to the inner side of the ring, in a way
that must have rendered them exceedingly uncomfortable if worn as
armlets.[369] This is the case with one of two fine examples preserved
in the Scottish Museum, both found in the same cist at Alloa in 1828;
and such also appears from drawings in my possession to be the form
of several of a remarkable group discovered in January of the present
year (1850) at Bowes, near Barnard Castle, Yorkshire. Relics of the
same character, though differing in detail, are found under similar
circumstances in Denmark. The dilation of the ends in the examples
preserved in the palace of Christiansborg, at Copenhagen, is much
more conspicuous than in the British type, being in the form of cones
attached by the narrow end to the annular bar of gold, and therefore
still less adapted for being worn on the arm. Some specimens are found
without this peculiarity, the dilation being only outward, as in one
found near Patcham, Sussex, engraved in the Archæological Journal,[370]
and another almost exactly corresponding in form, but considerably
thicker, found in Galloway in 1784, and of which a drawing is possessed
by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. These rings are generally
much too massive and rigid, notwithstanding the purity and consequent
softness of the gold, to admit of their being unbent for the purpose of
clasping on the arm, without injuring their form and leaving marks of
such a process; in addition to which, another though less conclusive
argument against their use as armillæ is, that they are rarely if ever
found in pairs. A gold relic, seemingly of this class, was discovered
in 1794, on opening a large sepulchral mound at Upper Dalachie,
Banffshire, popularly styled the Green Cairn. "About two feet from the
surface," says Chalmers,[371] "was found an urn of rude workmanship,
which, when the ashes of the dead were shaken out, disclosed a piece
of polished gold like the handle of a vase, three inches in diameter,
and more than one-eighth of an inch thick." The finder sold this relic
for bullion, at the price of thirteen guineas. Where two or more
occur together, they generally differ both in size and form, as well
as in weight. The two found in the same cist at Alloa,--the largest
of which is here represented, half the size of the original,--differ
in all these respects; and the same is the case with those recently
discovered at Bowes,--no two of the whole six correspond, though they
all lay close together, with what was thought to be the remains of a
bag in which they had been inclosed. This will be apparent from the
following table of their weights:--

        Found at Bowes, near Barnard Castle, Yorkshire, 1850,--

                   1.  Weight 6 oz. 10 dwts. 17 grs.
                   2.     "   5  "  12  "     0  "
                   3.     "   2  "  17  "    12  "
                   4.     "   1  "  10  "    10  "
                   5.     "   1  "  10  "     5  "
                   6.     "   0  "  19  "    15  "

               Found at Alloa, Clackmannanshire, 1828,--

                   1.  Weight 3 oz. 4 dwts. 14 grs.
                   2.     "   2  "  7  "    20  "

                      Found in Galloway, 1784,--

                      Weight 3 oz. 5 dwts. 5 grs.

                 Found near Aspatria, in Cumberland,--

                      Weight 5 oz. 10 dwts. 6 grs.

                     Found near Patcham, Sussex,--

                   1.  Weight 5 oz. 5 dwts. 12 grs.
                   2.     "   2  "  5  "     6  "

The quality in the metal of the two last, though found in the same
locality, greatly differs, the first being largely alloyed with silver.
The weights of several other English examples are given by Mr. Way,
in his interesting contribution to the Archæological Journal.[372]
The record of the precise weights of these curious relics may help
to test the theory which has been occasionally advanced, that they
also belong to the class of primitive currency; since a uniform
rule of subdivision by weight has been thought discoverable in
relation to Irish ring-money. The idea, however, seems altogether
untenable with reference to these larger rings. The simplicity and
gracefulness of the form adhered to, with very slight variations, in
a relic of such frequent occurrence, while armillæ, torcs, and even
the small penannular rings supposed to have formed the currency of
these primitive metallurgists, exhibit so many varieties and modes
of decoration, seem rather to point out the former as appropriated
to some peculiar and perhaps sacred purpose. What that was we shall
probably never know. One example, indeed, found near Aspatria, in
Cumberland, in 1828, not only differs in being slightly ornamented
with circular lines and small notches, but certain antiquaries
discerned and undertook to read a supposed Runic inscription upon it.
It has accordingly been engraved, both in the Archæologia (vol. xxii.
p. 439) and in the Archæologia Æliana (vol. ii. p. 268.) But it seems
probable that it must rank with the more celebrated Runamo inscription,
which, after being proved to be in "the old northern or Icelandic
tongue, in regular alliterative verse, of the sort called _Fornyrdalag_
or _Starkadarlag_;" its precise date assigned, and its historic value
as an authentic document admitted by Danish scholars, is once more
acknowledged to be neither more nor less than the accidental cracks
and fissures in the rock! A golden relic was, however, discovered
during the latter part of last century, of the inscription on which
no doubt can be entertained. But it differs essentially in form from
the curious rings now referred to, and, indeed, appears to be unique.
It is engraved in the Archæologia, (vol. ii. _Plate_ III. fig. 4,)
and consists of a round bar of pure and very soft and pliable gold,
gradually thickening at both ends, which are bent. On the one end
is engraved HELENVS F., and on the other, in dotted characters,
the letters M. B. It was found about eighteen inches under ground
in a moss, on the estate of Mr. Irvine of Cove, near Ecclefechan,
Dumfriesshire. The author of the communication in which this is noted,
adds, that "several of the same sort have been occasionally found in
Scotland, but whether with the same impresses is not mentioned." An
observation, however, of this indefinite character, can, at most, be
received only in further proof of the well-known fact, that numerous
gold relics have been discovered in Scotland from time to time, though
most frequently described in terms sufficiently vague and obscure.
The _Dilated Penannular Rings_ (as I would propose, for the sake
of convenience, to call this class of relics) found at Alloa, were
discovered, along with two cinerary urns, on the top of a stone cist
of the usual circumscribed proportions,[373] in which lay an entire
skeleton, of great size, and therefore, it may be presumed, a male.
They were accordingly designated by their discoverers Coffin-handles!
Other cists, and, in all, twenty-two cinerary urns, some of them
of very large size and highly decorated, were found in the same
neighbourhood, chiefly on the line of the old road from Stirling to
Queensferry, where it skirts along the base of Mar's Hill. Another such
group of cists has been discovered near the point of Largiebeg, on the
south-east coast of the Island of Arran; and in one of them, says the
parish minister, writing in 1840, in a cist which a labourer discovered
a few years ago, in making a fence round his garden, "there was found
a piece of gold in the form of a _handle of a drawer_, with some iron
or steel, much corroded, at each end. The man concealed his prize till
he got it disposed of to a jeweller in Glasgow, who melted it down
into rings and brooches."[374] It would not be difficult to multiply
examples, derived from similar sources, of the ignorant and wilful
destruction of such relics of primitive native art and skill; but it
could answer little other purpose than to excite in every intelligent
reader lively but unavailing regrets.

Somewhat analogous to the dilated penannular rings are another class
of gold ornaments, which, so far as I am aware, have never yet been
discovered except in the British Isles. They consist of a solid
cylindrical gold bar, bent into a semicircle or segmental arc, most
frequently tapering from the centre, and terminated at both ends
with hollow cups, resembling the mouth of a trumpet, or the expanded
calix of a flower. One remarkable example of these curious native
relics, which is engraved in the Archæological Journal, presents the
characteristics of an intermediate type between the simpler forms of
the relics last described, and these _Calicinated Rings_.[375] The
cups are formed merely by hollows in the slightly dilated ends; but it
is further interesting from being decorated with the style of incised
ornaments of most frequent occurrence on the primitive British pottery.
It was dug up at Brahalish, near Bantry, county Cork, and weighs 3 oz.
5 dwts. 6 grs. In contrast to this, another is engraved in the same
Journal, found near the entrance lodge at Swinton Park, Yorkshire,
scarcely two feet below the surface. In this beautiful specimen the
terminal cups are so unusually large, that the solid bar of gold
dwindles into a mere connecting link between them. The annexed figure
of a very fine example found by a labourer while cutting peats in the
parish of Cromdale, Inverness-shire, somewhat resembles that of Swinton
Park in the size of its cups. It is from a drawing by the late Sir
Thomas Dick Lauder, and represents it about two-thirds the size of the
original. Similar relics of more ordinary proportions have been brought
to light, at different times, in various Scottish districts. One found
in an urn in the north of Scotland, in the year 1731, is described in
a letter from Sir John Clerk to Mr. Gale, written shortly after its
discovery; and is further illustrated in the Reliquiæ Galeanæ, by an
engraved figure the size of the original.[376] Shortly afterwards, Sir
John Clerk writes to his correspondent announcing the discovery of
several valuable gold relics, including two other calicinated rings,
brought to light in consequence of the partial draining of a loch on
an estate belonging to the Earl of Stair. "I begin to think," exclaims
the astonished antiquary, "that there are treasures of all kinds in
Britain; for lately in a loch in Galloway there have been found three
very curious pieces of gold: one a bracelet, consisting of two circles,
very artificially folding or twisting into one another; now in the
hands of the Countess of Stair." The other relics are described as
corresponding to an example of the calicinated ring found in Galway,
and engraved in the Archæologia. (Vol. ii. _Plate_ III. fig. 1.) One
of these must have been an unusually massive and valuable example, as
its weight is stated to have been 15 oz. Another smaller one found
along with it, and weighing only 1 oz. 4 dwts., more nearly approaches
to the type of the dilated penannular ring, the cup or bulb being
covered with a flat oval plate of gold. A bronze relic, of the latter
shape, formerly in the collection of Dr. Samuel Hibbert, is now in
the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries. Bronze calicinated rings have
occasionally, though very rarely, been found in Ireland. The only
example I know of is in the collection of Councillor Waller of Dublin.


The most recent discovery in Scotland of gold relics of this singular
type, was made in the year 1838, on the estate of the late Walter
Campbell, Esq. of Sunderland, on the Island of Islay, Argyleshire. At
the period referred to, a large standing stone, which had long been
overthrown, and lay prostrate at a little distance from Sunderland
House, was blasted with gunpowder, and removed, in the process of
levelling and draining the ground for agricultural purposes. The soil
immediately underneath the stone consisted of a rich black mould, in
which were found a broad fluted gold armilla, and a fine specimen of
the calicinated ring, both lying alongside of a stone cist, within
which were several rude cinerary urns. The armilla was of a peculiar
type, being a broad band of gold beaten out so as to form a convex
centre, on each side of which was a fluted ornamental border, and a
raised rim returned at the edge. Unfortunately, this interesting relic
was carried off by a dishonest servant, but through the kindness of
Mrs. Campbell, I am able to give the annexed representation (about
one-fourth the size of the original) of the calicinated ring, which is
now in that lady's possession. Mrs. Campbell remarks, in a letter with
which I have been favoured,--"The bracelet was large enough to encircle
a woman's arm above the elbow. Of many specimens which I examined at
the British Museum, chiefly Irish, there was none like mine, which
makes me the more regret its loss." Various tumuli exist in the
neighbourhood of Sunderland House, several of which have been opened,
and found to cover cists of the usual limited size, none of them
exceeding three feet in greatest internal dimensions. In some of them
were found cinerary urns, while others contained the entire skeleton.


Some antiquaries have sought to assign a sacred significance to these
singular relics, and to associate them with the mysterious rites of
Druidical worship. Vallancey, in particular, supposes them to have
been sacrificial pateræ. There is fully as much probability, however,
in the simple conjecture that they served as clasps or fastenings
for the mantle. The cups, which appear to possess such a mystic
significance, were not probably left void in their original state. In
the example first referred to, in the Reliquiæ Galeanæ, Sir John Clerk
remarks,--"The parts at the extremities are hollow, like little cups or
sockets, and the sides are very thin. There is a small circle within
the verge, which has had a red substance adhering to it like cement,
as if it had served to fix some kind of body within the sockets." A
similar appearance is still more markedly observable in an example in
the possession of Thomas Brown, Esq. of Lanfine, Ayrshire. Upon showing
it to an experienced jeweller, he assured me it cannot admit of a doubt
that the sockets have originally contained pebbles or jewels. If it
be indeed the case that in this curious gold relic we have the clasp
of the ancient British chlamys, worn by the native chief or by the
arch-priest when robed in his most stately pontificals, then we see in
it a British personal ornament which may stand comparison with the most
costly and elegant Roman fibulæ, while its essential dissimilarity from
every known classic type adds to the probability of its belonging to an
earlier era than the Anglo-Roman period.



Of the commoner British gold ornaments, the torc and armilla,
numerous examples have been discovered, though of these the few which
have escaped destruction are mostly in private hands, and not very
readily accessible. Three beautiful gold torcs, found at Cairnmure,
Peeblesshire, in 1806, are figured in the Archæologia Scotica.[377]
They were found, along with various other relics, by a herd-boy, who
going early in the morning to his sheep, observed something glitter
in the sun, and on scraping with his feet, brought the whole valuable
treasure to light. It consisted of three gold torcs or collars for
the neck; the beautiful gold ornament, supposed to have been the head
of a staff or sceptre, engraved here about one-half the size of the
original; and a number of flattened circular gold pellets, each marked
with a cross in relief. The value of the articles discovered in mere
bullion exceeded £100, and it is doubtful if the treasure-finder did
not privately dispose of more before his good fortune was known. The
staff-head and two of the gold beads or pellets are now in the Museum
of the Scottish Antiquaries. The latter are elsewhere referred to,
along with other examples, as the primitive type of native minted
currency. The defined character, however, of the ornamentation on the
sceptre-head adds, along with the presence of these indications of
increasing civilisation, to the probability that this valuable hoard
belongs to the later transition-period, in which the age of bronze
drew to a close. Simple indeed as is the usual style of ornament and
workmanship of the funicular torc, it appears to have been retained
in use for a very long period, and is reproduced in silver and bronze
along with the latest relics of the succeeding iron age. The annexed
woodcut represents a remarkably fine example, greatly reduced, of
what may be designated the knotted funicular torc. It was found about
sixty years ago by a labourer trenching within the area of a circular
camp on the summit of a hill in the parish of Penicuick, Mid-Lothian,
known by the name of Braidwood Castle. It was of gold, and met with
the usual fate of relics of the precious metals, having been sold by
the discoverer to a jeweller in Edinburgh for the sum of twenty-eight
guineas, as a Roman girdle of _brass_. It was doubtless worth a much
larger sum as mere bullion. A drawing of it, however, had been taken,
it is not now apparent by whom, and is preserved in the Library of the
Scottish Antiquaries.[378] The history indeed of Scottish gold relics
is only a sad commentary on the miserable fruits resulting chiefly from
the operation of the law of treasure-trove. A short way to the east
of Chesterlees Station, in the parish of Dolphinton, Lanarkshire, an
ornament of pure gold was found, which is said to have resembled the
snaffle-bit of a horse's bridle.[379] As this is usually a twisted
iron rod, there can be little doubt that the Chesterlees relic was
a funicular torc. A "gold chain" ploughed up on the glebe lands of
Mortlach parish, Banffshire, and described in the Old Statistical
Account of the parish, as "like an ornament for the neck of one of the
chiefs;" and another "golden chain" found at Thrumster, in the parish
of Wick, Caithness, "which in a year of famine the discoverer sold to a
bailie in Wick for a boll of oatmeal," may both be assumed, with little
hesitation, to have been golden torcs. The term, indeed, has been
used by experienced antiquaries. Gale describes a torc found near Old
Verulam in 1748, as "a wreathed or vermicular ornament, being a solid
chain of gold." One example, however, is on record of a gold linked
chain found in an early Scottish sepulchral deposit. Nearly a mile to
the east of Newton of Tillicairn, Aberdeenshire, on the top of a ridge
on which are several cairns, there is one of unusually large size,
appropriately designated Cairnmore. In 1818 this was partially opened
to obtain a supply of stones for building materials, when a quantity of
bones were found, among which lay "a small gold chain of four links,
attached to a pin of such size as might have been used in a brooch for
fastening the Celtic plaid."[380] A relic found towards the close of
last century on the farm of Balmae, Kirkcudbrightshire, and sold by the
discoverer for about £20, may also be classed among the lost examples
of Scottish gold torcs. It is described as "a straight plate of gold,
which was somewhat thick at each end and at the middle. It bent easily
at the centre, so as to admit the two extremities to meet."[381] It
must either have been a solid torc, or an unusually large dilated
penannular ring. Amongst the native personal ornaments in the Scottish
Museum, is a massive but plain penannular ring of the class to which
the name of solid torc is now applied. It appears to be composed of
nearly pure copper, and weighs twenty-five and a quarter ounces. It is
rudely finished, retaining the rough marks of the hammer.

No less beautiful than the finest examples of gold torcs are the
numerous armillæ which have been found in Scotland. Two funicular
bracelets, discovered apparently on draining the same lake in
Galloway previously referred to, are described and engraved in the
Reliquiæ Galeanæ. Sir John Clerk, writing from Edinburgh in 1732,
remarks,--"Since my last to you I have seen two other bracelets and a
large ring, found on the draining of a lake or part of it. There are
no letters or inscription, and the make is very clumsy. Each bracelet
is in weight six or seven guineas, and their shape thus,[382] of two
pieces of gold twisted. The ring is large, and about a guinea in

Another example found about forty years ago in Argyleshire was
sold for a trifle to a Glasgow goldsmith, and consigned to the
crucible.[384] In 1834, some workmen quarrying stones near the bridge
over Douglas Water, Carmichael, Lanarkshire, discovered a pair of
armillæ weighing twenty-nine sovereigns, which were destined to the
same fate; but fortunately the Marquess of Douglas learned of the
discovery in time to repurchase them ere they had been converted into
modern trinkets, and they are now safe in that nobleman's possession.
Mr. Albert Way illustrates his communication to the Archæological
Journal, "On Ancient Armillæ of Gold," &c, with an engraving of one of
a very beautiful pair, found in 1848 on the estate of Mr. Dundas of
Arniston, at Largo, in Fifeshire, of the same type as those previously
discovered in the Loch of Galloway. Mr. Way remarks of them,--"These
beautiful ornaments are formed of a thin plate or riband of gold,
skilfully twisted, the spiral line being preserved with singular
precision. It would be easy to multiply examples of torc ornaments
more or less similar in type found in this country, and especially in
Ireland; but none that I have seen possess an equal degree of elegance
and perfection of workmanship."[385] Mr. Dundas furnishes the following
interesting note in relation to the discovery:--"The gold bracelets
were found last winter on the top of a steep bank which slopes down
to the sea, among some loose earth which was being dug to be carted
away. The soil is sandy, and the men had dug about three feet, where
the bracelets lay. It was at a place close to the sea-shore, called
the Temple, which is part of the village of Lower Largo. An old woman
who has lived close to the spot all her days, says that in her youth
some coffins were found there, and one man was supposed to have found
a treasure, having suddenly become rich enough to build a house." The
neighbourhood of Largo Bay is celebrated in the annals of Scottish
Archæology for one of the most remarkable hoards ever discovered,
described in a later chapter as the "silver armour of Norrie's Law."
Only a very small portion of this collection was rescued from the
crucible; and the moiety of the Largo Bay relics which escaped the same
fate appears to have been even less, if we may credit the extremely
probable tradition of the locality. With the wonted perverse modesty of
Scottish antiquaries, Mr. Dundas accompanies his account of the latter
discovery with a reference to the advantages of the neighbouring bay as
a safe anchorage, and the probability of its having been a favourite
landing-place of the northern freebooters. How strange is it, that
rather than believe in the possibility of the existence of early native
art, this improbable theory should have been fostered and bandied
about by intelligent writers without contradiction for upwards of a
century. If there were no native arts and costly treasures, what, it
may be asked, brought northern freebooters to our shores? Surely some
less extravagant hypothesis may be suggested than that they crossed
the ocean to bury their own golden treasures in our sands. It would
seem, on the contrary, to afford undoubted evidence of a tumulus or
sepulchral chamber being the work of natives or of resident colonists
when it is found to contain objects of value. Only the confidence
inspired by the universal recognition of the sacredness of such
deposits could induce the abandonment of them under cover only of a
few feet of soil. It was not until a very late period--towards the end
of the ninth century--that the northmen established a footing even on
the remoter Scottish islands; while their possession of any but a very
small portion of the mainland in the immediate vicinity of their Orkney
possessions was so brief and precarious, that it might well excite our
surprise to discover any traces of their presence on the shores of the

[Illustration: Largo Armilla.]

A variety of independent proofs, some of which have already been
referred to, amply justify the archæologist in assigning the relics of
the Archaic Period of British art to an era long prior to that of the
Scandinavian Vikings. But there is not wanting evidence to shew that
at the latter period also golden armillæ and other native personal
ornaments were common in Scotland, and, indeed, frequently furnished
the chief attractions not only to the piratical Vikings who first
infested our shores, but to the more civilized northmen who supplanted
them, and established trading colonies in the northern and western
isles. Though the full consideration of the influence of Scandinavian
aggression on early Scottish history belongs to a subsequent section,
it will not be out of place to glance at some of these proofs here,
tending as they do to shew that there is in reality greater probability
in favour of some of the gold relics found in Denmark and Norway being
of British origin, than that our native relics should be ascribed to a
Scandinavian source.

Snorro tells us of two thanes from _Fiord-riki_, or the kingdom of
the bay, as the southern coast of Fife was called, who, dreading the
descent of Olave of Norway on their shores, put themselves under the
protection of Canute. Snorro's account is literally,--"To Canute came
two kings from Scotland in the north, from Fife; and he gave them up
his, and all that land which they had before, and therewith received
store of winning gifts, (_vingiafir_.) This quoth Sigvatr--

    'Princes, with bowed heads,
    Have purchased peace from Canute,
    From the coast,
    From the midst of Fife, in the north.'"[386]

_Ringa eldingham_, or bright rings, are frequently mentioned among
the spoils of the Norse rovers; but it is not always easy to tell
whether they refer to ornamental rings and bracelets, or to tribute
paid with ring-money. In the Norwegian account of Haco's celebrated
expedition against Scotland, A.D. 1263, frequent allusions occur to
such golden spoils, and especially in the extracts from the "Raven's
Ode," a song of Sturla, the Scandinavian bard, whose nephew, Sigvat
Bodvarson, attended Haco in this expedition, and most probably supplied
to Sturla materials for the narrative of his poem. The Scottish foes
are described as terrified by "the steel-clad exactor of rings;" and
Haco's reduction of the island of Bute is thus celebrated:--"The
wide-extended Bute was won from the forlorn wearers of rings by the
renowned and invincible hosts of the promoter of conquest. They wielded
the two-edged sword; the foes of our Ruler fell, and the raven, from
his field of slaughter, winged his flight for the Hebrides."[387]
We find also, in the same poem, Haco restoring the island of Ila to
Angus on similar terms to those by which the favour of Canute was
purchased:--"Our sovereign, sage in council, the imposer of tribute
and brandisher of the keen falchion, directed his long galleys through
the Hebrides. He bestowed Ila, taken by his warriors, on the valiant
Angus, the distributor of the beauteous ornaments of the hand," _i.e._,
rings or bracelets. Here then we find the northern bard scornfully
designating the Scottish foemen as "the forlorn wearers of rings,"
and their tributary chiefs as the "distributors of the beauteous
bracelets." It is by the same name claimed by the Scandinavian poet,
"exactors of rings," that the early Irish bards describe the northern
warriors who infested their coasts from the ninth to the eleventh
centuries; while older allusions abundantly prove their familiarity
with the "rings" long before the first descent of the Vikings on their
shores. An interesting passage illustrates this in an ancient MS. of
the Brehon Laws, preserved in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.
The reference is to the wife of Nuada Neacht, King of Leinster, in the
first century:--"The Righ of the wife of Nuada, she was used to have
her hand (or arm) covered with rings of gold for bestowing them on
poets."[388] It is abundantly manifest, therefore, that native artists
had learned at a very early period to fabricate the golden armilla, so
that the theory of Danish, or of any other foreign origin for these
ancient relics, may at once and for ever be dismissed as equally
unnecessary and untenable.

[Illustration: Rannoch Armilla.]

Returning from this digression, which more properly belongs to the
succeeding section, I am fortunately able, through the kind services
of Sir James Ramsay, Bart. of Banff, to present an engraving of
another gold armilla, of the same type as those discovered at Largo,
in Fifeshire, but found alike remote from any convenient anchorage,
or from any known Norwegian settlement on the Scottish shores. It
is now the property of Lady Menzies, and though inferior in point
of workmanship to those found at Largo, is an exceedingly tasteful
example of primitive skill. The original bears obvious traces of the
rough marks of the hammer, though they interfere very little with
the beautiful reflected lights which its elegant spirals produce.
It was found in the north-west of Perthshire, in what is described
in Chambers' Gazetteer as "the black wilderness called the Moor of
Rannoch; a level tract of country sixteen or twenty miles long, and
nearly as many broad, bounded by distant mountains; an open, silent,
and solitary scene of desolation; an ocean of blackness and bogs,
with a few pools of water, and a long dreary lake." Yet how many
such evidences may it contain of an era when the Scottish bogs were
luxuriant forests, and such relics were the personal ornaments of
the hunters that pursued the chase through their sylvan glades, or
of the maidens and matrons that awaited their return! The Rannoch
armilla is of sufficient size to encircle a lady's arm; and though
exhibiting unmistakable traces of the imperfectly developed art and
mechanical skill of the Archaic Period, its beauty is sufficient, in
the estimation of its present noble owner, to induce her frequently
to wear it along with the more elaborate productions of the modern
jeweller's skill. A still more beautiful armilla, of a different type,
and manifestly belonging to a later and more perfectly developed era of
art, was discovered in 1846, at Slateford, about three miles west from
Edinburgh, during the progress of the works required in constructing
the Caledonian Railway. The labourer who found it decamped immediately
with his prize. It was shewn by him to the Treasurer of the Society
of Antiquaries of Scotland, but while negotiations were pending for
its purchase, the discoverer took fright under the apprehension of
having his spoil reclaimed, and before the clue could be recovered,
it was consigned to the melting-pot. It was justly described by the
distinguished Danish antiquary, Mr. Worsaae, who saw it during his
visit to Scotland, as a relic that would have adorned any museum in
Europe. Its loss affords another painful evidence of the necessity for
some modification of the Scottish law of treasure-trove, as well as
for a comprehensive system for the preservation of primitive works of
native art. Fortunately a fac-simile was made of it previous to its
destruction, and is now preserved in the Scottish Museum. Torcs of a
similar type, terminating in solid cylindrical ends, are described by
Mr. Birch as not uncommon, and are referred to a late period, possibly
the fourth or fifth century.[389] Unfortunately no account could be
obtained of the circumstances under which the Slateford Armilla was
discovered. One nearly similar, found in Cheshire, and now in the
possession of Sir Philip de Grey Egerton, is engraved in Dr. Smith's
"Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities," with other so-called Roman
relics of unquestionable native origin.

[Illustration: Slateford Armilla]

The bronze armillæ clearly assignable to the Archaic Period are mostly
of a very simple character, consisting either of solid or penannular
rings, or more rarely of a thin spiral band of the metal. They are much
rarer, however, in any form than those of gold. The following account
of the discovery of bracelets _in situ_, in the parish of Glenholm,
Peeblesshire, is possessed of peculiar interest, though we have to
regret, as in so many other instances, the absence of more precise
information. "There is a plain by the side of Tweed on which there are
several mounts, apparently artificial. The proprietor had the curiosity
to cause one of them to be digged, and there found the skeleton of
a man, with bracelets on his arms. The body was inclosed in a stone
building, with a stone cover, and nigh him was an urn."[390] In another
grave opened at Westray in Orkney, a gold ring was found encircling one
of the thigh-bones of the skeleton.[391] Similar examples are familiar
to Scandinavian antiquaries.

The torc as well as the funicular armilla and other relics of
corresponding type, though known to the Romans, were regarded by them
as barbarian decorations. Like so many others of the characteristic
peculiarities of the Celtæ, they are clearly traceable to an Eastern
origin. The torc is introduced at Persepolis among the tribute brought
to Darius; and in the mosaic of Pompeii, Darius and his officers are
represented wearing it at the battle of Arbela.[392] Titus Manlius
Torquatus took the golden torc from whence he derived his name from a
Gaul he slew in single combat B.C. 361: and its first appearance in
Italian art is round the neck of the moustached Gaulish hero, whose
head forms the obverse of the As of Arminium, decorated probably
according to the fashion of his country, four centuries before the
Christian era. Still more interesting is its occurrence on the neck of
the dying gladiator, the masterpiece of Ctesilaus. In this historic
example of the torc, it is funicular with bulbous terminations,
resembling one seen on the Sarcophagus of the Vigna Amendola,
representing, as is believed, the exploits of the Romans over the Gauls
or Britons. So far then from the torc being either Romish or Danish,
it may be regarded as the most characteristic relic of primitive
Celtic and Teutonic art, brought with the British Celtæ from the East
centuries before the era of Rome's foundation, and familiar only to the
Roman as one of the barbaric spoils which adorned the procession of a
triumphant general, or marked the foreign captive that he dragged in
his reluctant train.

In addition to torcs, armlets, and other ornaments for the neck and
arms, metal rings of various kinds have been found in Scotland as in
other countries, to which, though apparently designed for personal
ornament, it is more difficult to assign an exact purpose. Several
of these will fall to be described in the following section, as from
their well defined characteristics more probably pertaining to the
latest Pagan era; but others completely agree in their archaic style
and workmanship with undoubted relics of the Bronze Period. To this
class belong various bronze rings, generally with broad expanded
ends overlapping each other, corresponding to a well-known class of
continental antiquities, which the northern archæologists believe to
have been worn about the head and entwined with the hair. Two of
these, of very rude workmanship, now in the Museum of the Scottish
Antiquaries, were found a few years since about 300 yards from a large
cairn, in the parish of Lumphanan, Aberdeenshire, which popular local
tradition affirms to mark the spot where Macbeth fell by the hand of
the Thane of Fife. One of these is figured here on a small scale.
Its dimensions, however, are abundantly sufficient to admit of its
encircling the head, and both ends terminate in broad flattened plates,
probably designed to rest on the forehead. Similar features occur in
those of a later date and much more ornamental character, some of
which are referred to in a future chapter. With this class also may be
noted, among the relics belonging to the period in the same collection,
an annulus of bronze, hollowed on the under side, measuring two and
three-fourths inches in greatest diameter; and several bronze rings
of various sizes, the largest three and a quarter inches in diameter,
found in an urn in the parish of Kinneff, Kincardineshire.



Smaller personal ornaments were also made of bronze, and occur among
the works of a later period frequently characterized by great beauty
of form and delicacy of ornament. The woodcut represents a bronze
ring-fibula, of simple but somewhat peculiar design, and a spiral
bronze ring, both the size of the originals. They were found about
nine years since, during the construction of a new road leading from
Granton Pier to Edinburgh, in a small stone cist, distant only about
twenty yards from the sea-shore. It contained two skeletons, which from
the position of the bones and the square and circumscribed form of the
cist, appeared to have been interred in a sitting posture. Mr. C. R.
Smith has figured a bronze fibula of the same type, though of ruder
workmanship, among the numerous relics pertaining to various periods
found at Richborough in Kent.[393] Several examples of the spiral
finger-ring have been found in Britain with remains of different
periods. They are also known to northern antiquaries among the older
relics of Denmark and Sweden. This may indeed be regarded as one of
the earliest forms of the ring, since it is only at a comparatively
late period that we discover any traces of a knowledge of the art of
soldering among the native metallurgists. A silver ring of the same
early type, formed one of the personal ornaments in the celebrated
Norrie's Law hoard, found on the opposite shores of the Frith of Forth.

Hair-pins and bodkins are another class of relics contained in
the tombs of this period, generally of bronze, though they have
occasionally been met with, and especially in Ireland, both of gold and
silver, and richly set with jewels. Charles Kirkpatrick Sharp, Esq.,
has in his possession three magnificent ornaments of the latter class,
formerly in the collection of Major Surr, such as might rival the most
costly and elaborate works of the modern jeweller. Among the rarest
and most curious forms of the bronze pin is that with a head hollowed
like a cup; one of which has already been referred to, found along
with a variety of other bronze relics, in a bog in the Isle of Skye,
and now in the possession of Lord Macdonald. It exactly corresponds
to an Irish example engraved in the Archæological Journal. Others
have the head decorated with a variety of grooves and mouldings, and
occasionally perforated, as if for attaching to them some pendulous
ornament. Perforated bronze implements are likewise found, which it can
hardly be doubted were used as needles; and among the rare and most
perishable contents of the tumuli have occasionally been recovered
small fragments of knitted or woven tissues, the productions of the
primitive weaver whose bones crumble into dust on being exposed, and
almost literally vanish before our eyes. Douglas engraves in the
Nenia some interesting fragments of such ancient manufactures, of the
herring-bone pattern, found on opening some tumuli in Greenwich Park.
But by far the most perfect specimen I have ever seen was procured by
Dr. Samuel Hibbert, about the year 1838, from some labourers who had
found it on the chance exposure of a stone cist, while excavating for
railway work, near Micklegate Bar, York. This valuable relic is now
in the Museum of the Scottish Antiquaries. It appears to be a sleeve,
or the covering for the leg, and somewhat resembles the hose worn by
the south-country Scottish farmers, drawn over their ordinary dress
as part of their riding gear. It has been knitted, a process which
doubtless preceded the art of weaving, probably by many centuries.
The fabric is still strong, and, in careful keeping, may long suffice
to illustrate the domestic manufactures of the ancient Briton. This
is one of the examples to which reference has been made in a former
chapter, as shewing the source to which it is conceived some of the
ornamental designs on the early British pottery are traceable; though
the resemblance is less striking here than in some more imperfect
specimens of such products of the primitive knitting needle or loom.
The accompanying woodcut, representing a portion of the knitted fabric,
will enable the reader who is familiar with the style of ornamentation
on the pottery of the tumuli, to judge for himself how far this idea is
justified by the correspondence traceable between them.

In 1786 a much more complete specimen was found, seventeen feet below
the surface of an Irish bog in the county of Longford. It is described
by Mr. Richard Lovell Edgeworth, in a Report to the Commissioners for
improving the bogs in Ireland, as "a woollen coat of coarse but even
net-work, exactly in the form of what is now called a spencer." Iron
arrow-heads, large wooden bowls, some only half made, with what were
supposed to be the remains of turning tools, lay alongside of it. The
coat was presented by Mr. Edgeworth to the Society of Antiquaries,
but is no longer known to exist. Possibly it rapidly decayed, as all
such relies must be apt to do on exposure to the air; or perchance its
history was lost sight of, in which case its value would appear very
slight in the estimation of the ordinary class of curators.


In 1822 Professor Stuart of Aberdeen communicated to the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland an interesting account of the opening of a
tumulus at Fetteresso, Kincardineshire.[394] Within it was found a
stone cist about four feet in length, containing a skeleton, with
the legs so bent back that the knees almost touched the lower end
of the cist. The bottom was strewed with round sea pebbles from the
neighbouring beach. Above this appeared some vegetable substance, in
which the body had been imbedded, and over that, covering the whole, a
tissue of wrought net-work, beautifully executed, but which, along with
all the other contents, crumbled to dust soon after being exposed to
the air. A great number of small black balls were found surrounding the
body, plainly vegetable, and described as closely resembling acorns.
At the top of the cist there seemed to have been placed a fresh sod
or turf, which still retained the impression of the head that had
been pillowed on it ages before, though no parts of the skull, nor
even any of the teeth, were found. Some of the hair, however, four or
five inches long, and of an auburn colour, still remained, and over
the breast were seen the remains of a small box of an oval shape,
apparently of wood elegantly carved; but this also speedily crumbled
to powder. In the month of November 1847, another cist was discovered
about an hundred yards to the south of the Fetteresso tumulus, which
may with much probability be assumed as a female grave; and if so,
adds another to the examples already noted of the occurrence of the
Scottish sepulchral urn accompanying female remains. The cist measured
only three feet in length, by two feet in breadth, and contained a
human skeleton which appeared to have been laid on the right side with
the face to the south. The limbs were bent according to the usual
disposition of the body in the circumscribed cist, and one of the leg
bones seemed to have been broken. A rude urn, about six inches deep,
lay as if it had been folded in the arms of the deceased, and upwards
of a hundred jet beads, which had no doubt formed a necklace, were
found beside the breast.


[338] Solinus, c. xxii. Bede Hist. lib. i. c. 1. Collectanea Antiqua,
C. R. Smith, vol. i. p. 174.

[339] Sinclair's Stat. Acc. vol. i. p. 330.

[340] Ibid. vol. xvi. p. 482.

[341] Ibid. vol. v. p. 392.

[342] Archæol. Scot. vol. iii. p. 49.

[343] New Stat. Acc. vol. xi. p. 147.

[344] Ancient Wiltshire, Plates XII. and XXXIV.

[345] Journal of Archæol. Assoc. vol. ii. p. 234.

[346] Vol. ii. p. 235.

[347] _Vide_ John Sydenham "On the Kimmeridge Coal Money,"
Archæological Journal, vol. i. p. 347; and Journal of the Archæological
Association, vol. i. p. 325, where accurate engravings of the "coal
money" are given.

[348] New Statistical Account, vol. iv., Wigtonshire, p. 142.

[349] "Fugat serpentes ita, recreatque vulvæ strangulationes.
Deprehendit sonticum morbum, et virginitatem suffitus. Hoc dicuntur uti
Magi in ea, quam vocant axinomantiam: et peruri negant, si eventurum
sit, quod aliquis optet."--_Pliny_, lib. xxxvi. cap. 34.

[350] Communication by Mr. Joseph Train to the New Statist. Acc. vol.
iv., Kirkcudbrightshire, p. 196.

[351] Ure's Hist. of Rutherglen and Kilbride, p. 219.

[352] Portes, Coloniæ, &c. Append. 18, and Plate III.

[353] Sinclair's Statistical Account, vol. ix. p. 53.

[354] Ure's Rutherglen and Kilbride, p. 217, and Plate I.

[355] Sinclair's Statistical Account, vol. ix. p. 52.

[356] New Statist. Acc. vol. v. p. 454.

[357] Collectanea Antiqua, C. R. Smith, vol. i. p. 174.

[358] On the Tings of Orkney and Shetland. Archæol. Scotica, vol. iii.
p. 120.

[359] Boece gives the following quaint description of amber, affording
evidence of the mode of its introduction, though sufficiently
extravagant in the style of its theorizing:--"Amang the rochis and
craggis of thir ilis growis ane maner of electuar and goum, hewit like
gold, and sa attractive of nature, that it drawis stra, flox, or hemmis
of claithis to it, in the samin maner as dois ane adamont stane. This
goume is generat of see froith, quhilk is cassin up be continewal
repercussion of craggis againis the see wallis; and throw ithand
motioun of the see it growis als teuch as glew, ay mair and mair;
quhill, at last, it fallis doun of the crag in the see.... Twa yeir
afore the cumin of this buke to licht, arrivit ane gret lomp of this
goum in Buchquhane, als mekle as ane hors; and wes brocht hame be the
hirdis quhilkis wer kepand thair beistis, to thair housis, and cassin
in the fire. And becaus thay fand ane smelland odour thairwith, thay
schew to thair maister that it wes ganand for the sens that is made in
the kirkis. Thair maister wes ane rud man as thay wer, and tuke bot
ane litill part thairof. The maist pairt wes destroyit afore it come
to ony wise mannis eris; of quhome may be verifyit the proverb,--'The
sow curis na balme.' Als sone as I wes advertist thairof, I maid
sic diligence, that ane part of it wes brocht to me at Abirdene."
Bellenden's Boece. The Cosmographie, chap. xv.

[360] Ure's Rutherglen, p. 164, Plate I.

[361] Vol iv. Plate XII.

[362] Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis, vol. vi. p 270.

[363] Archæol. Journal, vol. vi. p. 57.

[364] Ibid. p. 48.

[365] Archæol. Jour. vol. vi. p. 56.

[366] Sinclair's Stat. Acc. vol. x. p. 402.

[367] Sinclair's Statist. Acc. vol. xvii. p. 238.

[368] Sir R. C. Hoare describes a somewhat similar plated relic, found
in a tumulus near Amesbury, along with objects of gold.--_Ancient
Wilts._ vol. i. p. 201, Plate XXV.

[369] This may be assumed possibly as affording some confirmation of a
theory suggested to me by an ingenious friend, that these rings were
used in _infibulation_; a practice not unknown to the Romans. Martial
thus alludes to it, (lib. ix. epig. 28):--

    "Occurrit aliquis inter ista si draucus,
    Jam pædagogo liberatus, et cujus
    Refibulavit turgidum faber penem."

The subject is treated at great length in "Recherches Philosophiques
sur les Américains," &c., par M. de P... London, 1771.--"Pour brider
les garçons, on leur mettoit dans le prépuce un anneau d'or ou
d'argent, tellement rejoint par les extrémités qu'on ne pouvoit plus
l'ouvrir qu'avec une lime; et c'est ce que les Romains nommoient
_refibulare_."--Vol. ii. p. 123. The same _Recherches Philosophiques_
include minute details of several kindred processes under the head,
_La manière d'infibuler le sexe_,--_e.g._, "Parmi d'autres nations de
l'Asie et de l'Afrique, on fait passer par les extrémités des nymphes
opposées un anneau, qui dans les filles est tellement enchassé qu'on ne
peut le déplacer qu'en le limant," &c.--Ibid. pp. 119-121.

[370] Vol. vi. p. 56.

[371] Caledonia, vol. i. p. 129.

[372] Archæol. Jour. vol. vi. p. 59.

[373] The skeleton is described by Mr. James Drummond, surgeon, Alloa,
in a letter to the Secretary of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries, of
date 8th March 1828, as "bearing no marks of the action of fire, but
from the position of the bones, the body must have been placed neck and
heels together when interred." A third urn was found a few feet from
the cist, filled, like the two others, with ashes and half-burnt bones.

[374] New Stat. Acc. vol. v. Buteshire, p. 23.

[375] Archæol. Journal, vol. vi. p. 60. It is only from analogy, and
the want of more appropriate terms, that these relics can be called
rings, many being less than semicircles. Possibly, however, the term
suggested in the text may suffice to designate them by, at least till
the establishment of some theory as to their use shall supply a more
precise name. The term _calicinated fibulæ_ would be preferable, did
it not assume a use still open to challenge.

[376] Bibliotheca Topog. Brit. vol. ii. p. 280. Plate VI. fig. 5.

[377] Vol. iv. p. 217, Plate X.

[378] The drawing is simply marked "a gold collar found at Braidwood
Castle, Edinburghshire," but there can be little doubt of its being the
same referred to in the text. The additional particulars concerning
it have been communicated to me by a lady who had often heard of this
discovery in her younger days, as one of the remarkable events of her
native place.

[379] New Statist. Acc. vol. vi. p. 57.

[380] New Statist. Acc. vol. xii. p. 1061.

[381] Sinclair's Statist. Acc. vol. xi. p. 24.

[382] Biblio. Topog. Brit. vol. ii. Plate VI. fig. 8.

[383] Ibid. p. 299.

[384] New Statist. Acc. vol. vii. p. 206.

[385] Archæol. Journal, vol. vi. p. 54.

[386] Notes to "Lodbrokar-Quida." Rev. J. Johnstone. Denmark, 1782.

[387] Haco's Expedition, Rev. J. Johnstone, p. 65.

[388] Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland. 8vo. P. 215.

[389] Archæological Journal, vol. ii. p. 379.

[390] Sinclair's Statist. Acc. vol. iv. p. 435.

[391] Nenia Britannica, p. 76. In the Guide to Northern Archæology,
p. 54, reference is made to similar discoveries in Denmark; and I am
informed by Dr. Ludwig Becker of a skeleton with several penannular
bronze rings on the arm bones, found recently in a large tumulus near

[392] This interesting inquiry is entered on at large by Mr. Samuel
Birch, in two able articles on the Torc of the Celts. Archæological
Journal, vol. ii. p. 360, and vol. iii. p. 27.

[393] Antiquities of Richborough, Reculver, and Lymne, p. 85.

[394] Archæologia Scotica, vol. ii. p. 462.



The tombs of the Bronze Period appear to differ, in various important
respects, from those which are clearly assignable to the Primeval
Period. Some of their peculiar features have already been noticed,
in describing the circumstances under which sepulchral pottery and
their relics have been met with; but others equally characteristic of
the first era of development and progress remain to be described. To
this epoch, as has been already observed, it seems probable that we
must assign the introduction of the practice of cremation, while the
huge cromlechs and chambered barrows and cairns, appear to have been
abandoned along with the simpler rites of primitive inhumation, for
the smaller cist and cinerary urn. To this period also we can have
little hesitation in ascribing the earliest attempts at sculpture or
inscription which are met with on primitive sepulchral memorials.
The two most remarkable examples of sculptured monolithic structures
hitherto explored are the celebrated chambered cairn of Newgrange,
in the county of Meath, and that on the small island of Gavr' Innis
in Brittany. These gigantic and complicated works appear indeed to
pertain to the transition between the Primeval and Archaic Periods, and
partake at once of the earliest cyclopean characteristics and the later
ornamental decorations.

An abridged extract of the account furnished by Mr. J. W. Lukis of the
remarkable structure of Gavr' Innis will best illustrate the peculiar
features of such decorated sepulchral chambers. Gavr' Innis is a small
island, about a quarter of a mile in length, situated in the department
du Morbihan, Brittany. It is elevated somewhat above the neighbouring
islands, and with its tumulus, which still covers the cromlech,
forms one of the most conspicuous objects of the inland Archipelago.
The tumulus is about thirty feet high, and three hundred feet in
circumference. The cromlech beneath forms a large central chamber, with
a passage, constructed like it of huge masses of granite, leading out
to the south side of the mound.

    "Being furnished," says Mr. Lukis, "with candles, I entered
    the cromlech Gavr' Innis by a small opening at the south end,
    which is between three and four feet wide, by about the same in
    height. Having reached the third and fourth props, my attention
    was at once arrested by finding them covered with engraved
    lines, forming patterns resembling the tattooing of the New
    Zealander. On proceeding farther into the interior the height
    increased, rendering the passage to the end more easy; and I
    found nearly the whole of the props covered with similarly
    engraved lines. Here there is much to excite admiration at
    the regularity and beauty of so extraordinary a place; and
    on turning to a prop on the western side, the imagination is
    farther exercised to perceive the purpose or use of three
    circular holes, sunk into the face of the stone, each about six
    inches deep, and the same in diameter: they communicate with
    each other, and form a sort of trough within the stone. It is
    divided in front by two raised parts resembling in form the
    handles to a jar."[395]

[Illustration: Coilsfield Stone.]

Other cromlechs in Brittany are similarly decorated; and Mr. Lukis
arrives at the conclusion that in some of them the stones must have
been engraved prior to their erection, from the ornaments extending
round the sides which are now covered by adjoining stones. The
sculptured decorations at Newgrange are no less remarkable, and the
same observation has been made in regard to them, that the carvings
must have been executed before the stones upon which they appear had
been placed in their present positions. We shall not probably err in
assigning as contemporaneous works with these rare and most primitive
examples of sculptured sepulchral chambers, the rude cists occasionally
found decorated with similar devices, though otherwise entirely unhewn.
The annexed view of one of these incised slabs is engraved from a
drawing presented to the Royal Society of Edinburgh by Colonel Hugh
Montgomery of Shielmorly, in 1785, and subsequently transferred to
the Society of Antiquaries. It formed the cover of a cist, discovered
in digging a gravel-pit at Coilsfield, in Ayrshire, and underneath it
was found an urn filled with incinerated bones. The dimensions of the
stone were about five feet in length by two and a half feet in breadth.
The original drawing includes the representation of the portion of
the urn shewn here, which it will be seen presents only the usual
characteristics of primitive sepulchral pottery. A subsequent discovery
of cinerary urns at the same spot has been assumed to authenticate
one of the many dubious incidents recorded by our earlier chroniclers
in relation to a no less celebrated hero than "Old King Coil." Near
Coilsfield House is a large tumulus, crowned with two huge blocks of
granite, which local tradition affirmed to mark the place of sepulture
of the redoubted hero, of whom Boece records,--"King Coyll, unwarly
kepit be his nobilis, was slane, in memory wherof the place quhare he
was slane wes namit efter Coyll; quhilk regioun remanis yit under the
same name, or litill different thairfra, callit now Kyle."[396] Certain
zealous local antiquaries having resolved to put tradition to the test,
the tumulus was opened in 1837, and found to inclose a cist covered by
a circular stone about three feet in diameter, beneath which four plain
urns were disposed, the largest of which measured nearly eight inches
in height. The author of a recent topographical work on the district of
Kyle has gravely assumed this discovery as giving "to the traditionary
evidence, and to the statements of early Scottish historians in regard
to Coil, _except with respect to the date_, a degree of probability
higher than they formerly possessed!"[397] What more might not the
antiquaries of Kyle have been able to establish had they known of the
older discovery on the same spot, and of the mysterious symbols traced
on the sepulchral stone!


[Illustration: Annan Street Stone.]

Another cist, decorated with concentric circles in a manner nearly
similar to the Coilsfield stone, was exposed a few years since in
constructing the road which leads from South Queensferry through the
Craigiehall estate. It still remains, nearly perfect, in the high bank
on the side of the road, the end of the cist only having been removed,
and the covering slab left in its place. It contained bones and ashes,
without any urn. In Mr. J. Walker Ord's "History and Antiquities of
Cleveland," an interesting account is given of the opening of some
tumuli on Bernaldby Moor, in 1843, in one of which--a bell-shaped
barrow--was found a remarkably fine cinerary urn sixteen and a half
inches high, covered with an unhewn slab carved with rude devices
similar in style to those described above. Of the same class also is
another slab figured here, the drawing of which was made by George
Scott, the friend of Mungo Park, who accompanied him to Africa and
died there. It was forwarded to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
by Sir Walter Scott, in 1828, who described the original as a rough
sandstone, about six feet long by perhaps two and a half broad, which
was raised by the plough at a place called Annan Street, upon the farm
of Wheathope. The drawing is designated, probably by the original
draftsman, "a Druid stone found at Annan Street, figured with the sun
and moon." Little doubt can be entertained that it had formed the
cover of a cist, though few probably will now be inclined to attempt
a solution of the enigmatic devices rudely traced on its surface. The
spot where it was found is about half a mile from the church of Yarrow,
and close by there are two large stones, about 120 yards apart, which
are believed to mark the scene of the memorable struggle that has given
"The dowie houms of Yarrow" so touching a place in the beautiful
legendary poetry of Scotland. Thus does the human mind delight to
give a local habitation to the mythic and traditional characters
and incidents that take hold on the fancy, whether it be the old
mythological smith Wayland, associated with the cromlech of Berkshire;
the fabulous King Coil, and the sepulchral barrow of Ayrshire; or The
Flower of Yarrow, the creation of some nameless Scottish minstrel,
whose pathetic ballad will live as long as our language endures.

The rude attempts at sculpture figured here are certainly as artless,
and to us as meaningless, as the chance traces of wind and tide on
the deserted sea-beach. Doubtless they had a meaning and an object
once, and were not produced without the expenditure both of time and
labour by the primitive artist, provided almost for the first time with
metallic tools. To us they are simply of value as probably indicating
the infantile efforts of the old British sculptor, and the rudiments
of the art to which we owe such gorgeous piles as the Cathedral of
Salisbury, and such sculptures as those of Wells and York. Even as
the parent delights to trace in the prattle of his child the promises
of future years, the archæologist may be pardoned if he is sometimes
tempted to linger too fondly on those infantile efforts of the human
race until he sees in them the germ of future arts, the first attempts
at symbolic prefigurements, and the rudiments of those representative
signs from which have sprung letters and all that followed in their

The most interesting and characteristic features, however, which the
tombs of the Bronze Period disclose, are the weapons and implements
deposited alongside of the deceased, or inclosed with his ashes in the
cinerary urn. Much variety is traceable in the design as well as in the
mode of disposing of these enduring tokens of reverence and affection.
But we have already examined them with sufficient minuteness, and have
found a distinctive uniformity traceable throughout the whole; marking
with no doubtful features the products of an epoch in which we discern
the germ of all future progress, and the dawn of that civilisation the
full development of which we are now privileged to enjoy.


[395] Journal of the Archæological Association, vol. iii. p. 272.

[396] Bellenden's Boece, book i. chap. ix.

[397] Land of Burns, vol. i. p 82.



The title of this chapter, as of some others of those relating to
British history prior to the first century of the Christian era, may
perhaps appear to readers of indices as not a little presumptuous.
These chapters deal exclusively with a period believed to have long
preceded written history, and of which we possess no other records than
those that have been garnered in the grave, wherein is "no knowledge,"
or chance-found amid the alluvium and peat-mosses, in which the
geologist discerns many evidences of antiquity, but from which he has
yet failed to deduce any defined measure that will help us to their
age. Still we have found, in the ruder productions of the primitive
period, that the simplest works of man bear some ineffaceable traces
of his intelligence. The sagacious inductions of Cuvier have met with
universal acceptation in their definition of the form, the size, the
food, and the general haunts and habits of the Megalonyx, a gigantic
antediluvian sloth, only a few disjointed bones of which are known to
exist. We need not therefore despair of learning somewhat of the early
Caledonian, of his habits, his thoughts, and even of his faith, when we
are able to refer to so many specimens of his handiwork and inventive
design, and retain some relics of his ruined temples, and abundant
illustrations of his sepulchral rites. It is by simple induction,
however, that the discovery of such truths is aimed at. Intentionally,
at least, no rein is given here to fanciful speculation, nor are
any theories advanced but such as are believed to be based on the
suggestive aspects of ascertained truths.

We have no reason to assume that the aboriginal Caledonian of the
Bronze Period ever carried civilisation so far as materially to affect
the social character of the community. The patriarchal system of
tribes or clans, we may presume, continued nearly as we know them to
have existed at the first dawn of written history, or, at most, were
only modified by the union of a greater or less number of petty tribes
under some general chief. Many improvements on the accommodation and
conveniencies of the native hut and its furnishings would necessarily
result from the possession of metallic tools. With these only could
the art of the carpenter be developed, and the implements of husbandry
and the chase, as well as the weapons of war, be moulded into useful
and convenient forms. The clothing also, we have seen, was aided by
the ingenuity and skill of feminine arts. The skins of the deer or the
wild bull, as well as of the fox, the hare, and the smaller fur-clad
animals, would thus be superseded in part, and fashioned, where they
were retained, with such improved taste as made them correspond to the
beautiful ornaments of the period. Of very much of this all evidence
has disappeared, but enough remains to prove that the Caledonian of
the Bronze Period was no naked painted savage. Whether the ingenious
knitters of the garments, the precious fragments of which have
occasionally been rescued from the tumuli, had learned to adorn them
with any interwoven parti-colours may be doubted; but the learned
Scottish antiquary, Dr. Jamieson, has already suggested the Gaelic
_breac_, signifying parti-coloured, and _breacan_, a tartan plaid, as
perhaps the true source of derivation of the name _Gallia Braccata_,
which would thus refer to the colour rather than to the fashion of
the Celtic dress. We know certainly, from the sculptures on Trajan's
column, that the _Bracæ_ were not so unfamiliar to the Romans as to be
adopted as the peculiar characteristic of a single race. It is to be
borne in remembrance, however, that in so far as this archæological
period is strictly defined to include only the era of Archaic art, and
the working in gold, copper, and bronze, prior to the knowledge or
economic use of iron, it must be assigned to an epoch which had drawn
to a close before the Britons were known to the Romans, unless by vague
traditions indirectly acquired through Carthage or Spain, or by the
imperfect notices of the Cassiterides to be found in the pages of early
Greek writers.

An interesting inquiry suggests itself in relation to this as to all
unknown states of society--What was the social position of woman?
To this the answer we can at present give is very uncertain. But
the traces already noted are not such as to discourage all hope
of attaining to greater definiteness and certainty. The frequent
occurrence of what appear to be female personal ornaments among
the contents of the Scottish tumuli, seems to afford satisfactory
indications that woman possessed, at that early era, somewhat of the
equality of social position which still peculiarly characterizes the
races of Northern Europe. Further investigations can hardly fail to
add more certainty to our deductions, while they may also greatly
enlarge the evidence on which they are based. For the rest, we infer
with more certainty that the dog was the chosen companion of man in
these old days, as he is still; for the bones of the buried favourite
have been frequently found laid beside his master's urn. Doubtless his
value in the chase was well known, and his fidelity fully recognised
at the hearth. Whether the horse had also become, thus early, man's
useful companion and servant, appears still open to further inquiry.
Probably not till the succeeding era had fairly brought its civilizing
influences into full operation, did the Briton establish his dominion
over the noble and intelligent quadruped which assumed so important a
place in the symbolism and mythology of his latest Pagan creed; though
the investigations of the geologist leave no room to question its
presence prior to, if not contemporarily with the earliest colonists of
the British Isles. From diverse points, and by various means, we thus
seek to catch a glimpse of those old historic eras. But, with all such
aids, our view must be owned to be sufficiently slight, and our outline
to stand in need of much filling in, before we can picture as we would
wish to do, the intelligent Briton of that old time when he was still,
perhaps, a barbarian, but had ceased to be a savage, and is therefore
the just object of our earnest sympathy as the originator of much the
beneficent results of which we even now inherit.

This first era of civilisation, which succeeded the introduction
of metals and is known as the Bronze or Archaic Period, manifestly
differs, in many essential points, from that primeval period previously
considered. It is the birth-time of native arts wherein we discern the
possibility of still better things. There pertains to it an interest
altogether peculiar. Its acquired knowledge probably long exceeded its
means. Copper and bronze could at no time be so plentifully supplied
as to admit of the facilities to which the abundance and cheapness
of iron have for so many centuries accustomed us. With a thorough
knowledge of the superiority of metals, the ingenious artificer was
compelled, throughout the whole Bronze Period, to manufacture nearly
all his bulkier implements of stone. Still he was being educated, so
that when the greater facilities did come within his reach, he was
able to avail himself of them. We must look, indeed, upon this whole
period, as upon the early years of an intelligent child--rich with the
freshness, the originality, and the unconscious simplicity of youth.
Its efforts are extremely unequal, blending the most Archaic works
with occasional productions rivalling the ingenuity and taste of the
polished eras which have succeeded. We detect, moreover, the evidences
of a social state wherein the value of combined operations had still
to be learned, and where isolation led to abundant manifestations of
ingenuity and skill, without producing any immediate results beyond the
little sphere of the native hut, or hamlet, or patriarchal clanship.
We discover, indeed, nothing inconsistent with such a social and
political state as we know to have pertained among the most civilized
British tribes in the century immediately preceding the Christian era,
when, for the first time, we are able to look upon them with the aid
of definite, though somewhat prejudiced and disparaging narratives of
classic historians. I would only add, that there appears no shadow
of evidence thus far discoverable, on which to found a single doubt
as to the indigenous character of British relics of the Primeval and
Archaic Periods. As to the favourite idea of their Danish origin, it
is altogether absurd and irreconcilable with known facts. Nothing is
more certainly established in the history of these northern races, and,
indeed, involved in the nature of things, than that, long before the
Scandinavian races emerged from the _viks_ and _fiords_ of the north,
the Archaic Periods both of Scandinavian and British arts had been
superseded by others more compatible with the social status which such
aggressive movements very manifestly indicate.

The term _Archaic_ has been adopted as a definition of this era,
because, in the sense which is now most generally attached to it, it
peculiarly applies to the artistic productions of the period. The
ornamentation is almost without exception only improvements on the
accidents of manufacture. The incised decorations of the pottery
appear, in many cases, to have been produced simply by passing twisted
cords round the soft clay. More complicated designs, most frequently
consisting of chevron, saltire, or herring-bone patterns, where they
are not merely the primary results of a combination of such lines,
have been suggested, as I conceive, by the few and half-accidental
patterns of the industrious female knitter. In no single case is any
attempt made at the imitation of a leaf or flower, of animals, or any
other simple natural objects. It is curious, indeed, and noteworthy, to
find how entirely every trace of imitative art is absent in the British
Archaic relics, for it is by no means an invariable characteristic
of the primitive arts of Allophylian nations. The objects recovered
from the sepulchral mounds of the Great Valley of the Mississippi,
as well as in the regions of Mexico and Yucatan, display, along with
the weapons and implements of stone, silex, and obsidian, numerous
indications of imitative design. Among the relics of the aboriginal
mound-builders of the Great Valley especially, pipe-heads, tubes,
masks, and a great variety of nondescript articles, are often
characterized by evidences of very considerable ingenuity and imitative
skill. Even the pottery is occasionally moulded into the forms of
animals, and when only decorated with lines these are very frequently
arranged in such definite or flowing patterns as suggest their
derivation from flowers and other objects in nature.[398] The natives
of the Polynesian Islands display a similar though perhaps inferior
taste in their clubs, paddles, and mallets, the prows of their boats,
and numerous other objects, carving them into grotesque imitations of
human and other animal forms.

The indefinite and Archaic character which marks the ornamentation
of the early British pottery, characterizes the most elaborate and
costly ornaments of gold. Though the peculiar form of one class of
gold ornaments found in the British Isles has suggested a name for it
derived from the calix of a flower, which the cups of its rings seem
in some degree to resemble, yet no example has been found bearing the
slightest traces of ornament suggestive of such similarity having
been detected by the old British goldsmith. Where incised lines are
superinduced upon the flower-like forms, they are the old chevron
and saltire patterns of the rude clay pottery, though executed
with considerable delicacy and taste. It is obvious that ideas of
comparison, which enter so largely into the spirit of modern artistic
design, and also form so considerable an element in the more artificial
poetic compositions of modern bards, were altogether undeveloped
in these old times. Art was, in fact, the child of necessity, and
continued to receive the adjuncts of adornment from the same sources
from whence it had first derived its convenient but arbitrary forms.

[Illustration: Gold Rod. Circle of Leys.]

The gold "sceptre head" found at Cairnmure in Peeblesshire, and
engraved on a former page, is one of the very few examples of defined
forms of ornamentation found along with objects some of which at least
may admit of being classed with those belonging to this period. They
are still arbitrary, and, strictly speaking, not imitative, though they
approach towards forms directly imitative, or at least designed to be
representative, with which we shall become familiar in the succeeding
era. Little doubt, however, can be entertained that the sceptre head
belongs to the succeeding era. The funicular torc was undoubtedly
in use in the latest Pagan period, and the whole Cairnmure hoard
may very consistently be assigned to it. The large ornaments on the
sceptre head, though very partially defined, resemble in some degree
the "snake-pattern," which forms one of the commonest decorations of
the last Pagan era. The woodcut exhibits a much more characteristic
primitive symbol of office. It is the gold lituus dug up in the year
1824, within the monolithic circle of Leys, Inverness-shire. The parts
united together form a rod nearly eighteen inches long, the rude
workmanship of which strikingly contrasts with the delicate though
imperfectly defined ornamentation of the Cairnmure sceptre head.[399]
This entire absence of imitation in the primitive British arts is
an important fact in its bearing on our present inquiries, seeing
that it is not a universal or even a very general characteristic of
Allophylian nations. The relics, as we have seen, recovered from the
sepulchral mounds of the Great Valley of the Mississippi, as well as
in the regions of Mexico and Yucatan, display numerous indications
of imitative skill. The same is observable in the arts of various
tribes of Africa, Polynesia, and of other modern races in an equally
primitive state. What is to be specially noted in connexion with this
is, that both in the ancient and modern examples, the imitative arts
accompany the existence of idols, and the abundant evidences of an
idolatrous worship. So far as we yet know the converse holds true in
relation to the primitive British races, and as a marked importance
is justly attached to the contrasting creeds and modes of worship and
polity of the Allophylian and Arian nations, I venture to throw out
this suggestion as not unworthy of further consideration.[400] Yet
we are not entirely dependent on negative evidence in relation to
the primitive creed. We are led to the conclusion that the ancient
Briton lived in the belief of a future state, and of some doctrine of
probation and of final retribution, from the constant deposition beside
the dead, not only of weapons, implements, and personal ornaments, but
also of vessels which may be presumed to have contained food and drink.
That his ideas of a future state bore little resemblance to "the life
and immortality brought to light by the Gospel," is abundantly manifest
from the same evidence. Somewhat, however, is added to our knowledge
of his religion, if the inference be admitted to be a legitimate one
which deduces from the absence of all imitation of natural objects in
his ornamental designs, the conclusion that idolatry has pertained
under no form to the worship of the native Briton. Whether his religion
was a fetish-worship, with spells and strange magical rites; or that
he brought from his far eastern birthland the Chaldean star-worship
or the Persian fire-worship; or knelt to Sylvanus and the _Campestres
Æterni Britanniæ_,--the supposed haunters of his native fields and
forests, to whom the Roman legions afterwards reared altars and poured
out libations,--it seems consistent with all analogy to conclude that
no visible forms were worshipped within the Caledonian groves or
monolithic temples. Julius Cæsar, in his oft-quoted account of the
Druids, describes the Gauls as much addicted to religious observances,
and names Mars, Apollo, Jupiter, Minerva, and Mercury, as objects of
their worship. Of Mercury especially, he adds, they have many images,
and they esteem him as the inventor of the arts. This, however, might
be true enough of the continental Gauls of that late period, who had
then long been partially brought into contact with the Romans, and yet
be totally inapplicable to the Caledonians, who had no direct knowledge
of them for fully a century after the date of Cæsar's first landing
on the white cliffs of England. As to the theories relating to Celtic
Druidism, concerning which so much has been written, an opinion has
already been expressed. It is one of the many branches of primitive
history, in which, after having perused all the ponderous tomes which
have been devoted to its elucidation, the archæologist returns with
renewed satisfaction to the trustworthy though imperfect and scanty
records which he finds in the relics of primitive invention and archaic
design. The truths contained in these ample dissertations are mostly
too few and uncertain to be worth the labour of sifting them from the
heap in which they may be buried, at the rate of about a grain of truth
to a bushel of fancy. Still, from the authentic allusions of classic
writers, we may safely conclude thus far, that a native priesthood
exercised a most important influence over the later Celtic and Teutonic
races of Britain, as appears to have been the case among most of the
nations of the Indo-European family.

In the present state of archæological inquiry, it would be presumptuous
to assign dogmatically the precise races to which the arts of each
period pertain. Still the indications both of archæological and direct
historical evidence manifestly point to the Celtæ as comparatively
late intruders, and leave us to seek, with little hesitation, in
their Allophylian precursors for the metallurgists of the Archaic
Period. In the Kumbe-kephalic Allophyliæ, we may expect to trace the
rude primeval workers in stone, with undefined sepulchral rites, and
no distinct evidences of a faith or hope beyond the grave. Upon this
meanly gifted race the Brachy-kephalic Allophyliæ intruded, bringing
with them, in all probability, the knowledge of metallurgic arts, yet
effecting their aggressions by such slow degrees that, as we have seen,
their arts appear to have reached our northern regions long before the
rude aborigines were called upon to employ them in repelling their
originators. From these as well as other arguments we infer, that when
the earliest Celtic nomades first reached our coasts, they found the
older natives already in possession of weapons of bronze, and familiar
with the most essential processes of the metallurgist. Whether the
Celtæ had acquired any knowledge of iron at the period of their arrival
in Europe must have depended to a great extent on the nature of their
previous intercourse with the civilized nations of Central Asia; but
the smelting of the iron ore and the working of the metal to any great
extent, are manifestly altogether incompatible with the condition of
a nomade people, migrating across a continent the partial clearings of
which were already occupied by hostile races. Some reference has been
made in a former chapter to evidence which an investigation of the
languages of the Indo-European nations furnishes as to the degree of
progress to which they had attained at the period of their dispersion.
It would lead us to infer that they were either entirely ignorant of
the use of the metals, or had lost this useful knowledge amid the
exigencies and privations of their nomade life. In so far, therefore,
this important source of ethnological evidence involves nothing
essentially inconsistent with the idea of the metallurgic arts being
introduced in Britain for the first time among a Celtic population
already established on the soil. The earliest knowledge, however,
which we acquire of the continental Celtæ exhibits them as skilled
workers in metals, and even the Romans appear to have acquired their
principal supplies of iron and the art of converting it into steel,
from the Norici, a Celtic race who occupied a considerable tract of
country south of the Danube. Whatever was the precise state to which
this race had sunk at the period of its earliest pioneers intruding on
the Allophylian nations of Europe, the supremacy acquired by them is
sufficient evidence of their innate superiority. Possessed originally
of good mental capacity, so soon as the successive wandering hordes
of the Indo-European stock formed permanent locations, it is to be
presumed that evidences of their powers would be manifested; but even
in their nomade state they bore with them some of the elements by
which the Arian tribes are held to be distinguishable from the older
Allophylian nations.

    "They had bards or scalds, _vates_, ἀοιδοι, who were supposed
    under a divine influence to celebrate the history of ancient
    times, and connect them with revelations of the future, and
    with a refined and metaphysical system of dogmas, which were
    handed down from age to age, and from one tribe to another,
    as the primeval creed and possession of the enlightened race.
    Among them, in the West as well as in the East, the doctrine
    of metempsychosis held a conspicuous place, implying belief
    in an after state of rewards and punishments, and a moral
    government of the world. With it was connected the notion that
    the material universe had undergone and was destined to undergo
    a repetition of catastrophes by fire and water; and after each
    destruction to be renewed in fresh beauty, when a golden age
    was again to commence, destined in a fated time to corruption
    and decay. The emanation of all beings from the soul of the
    universe, and their refusion in it, which were tenets closely
    connected with this system of dogmas, border on a species of
    Pantheism, and are liable to all the difficulties attendant
    upon that doctrine.

    "Among most of the Indo-European nations the conservation
    of religious dogmas, patriarchal tradition, and national
    poetry, was confided not to accidental reminiscences and
    popular recitations, but to a distinct order of persons, who
    were venerated as mediators between the invisible powers and
    their fellow-mortals, as the depositaries of sacred lore, and
    interpreters of the will of the gods expressed of old to the
    first man, and handed down orally in divine poems, or preserved
    in a sacred literature known only to the initiated. In most
    instances they were an hereditary caste, Druids, Brahmans, or
    Magi. Among the Allophylian nations, on the other hand, a rude
    and sensual superstition prevailed, which ascribed life and
    mysterious powers to the inanimate objects."[401]

The contrasting religion of fetisses and spells, ascribed to the
Allophylian nations, has already been referred to. It still exists
among the Finns and Lappes of the north of Europe, and the Vogules,
Ostiakes, and Esquimaux, occupying the northern regions of Asia and
America, whither we may naturally conclude they have been driven by the
intrusion of the superior races. To these, perhaps, we must look for
the living type of the primeval Briton, and to their rude superstitions
for some shadowy tradition of the creed by which his untutored mind
took hold of the unseen. How much of the refined system of metaphysical
dogmas ascribed by Dr. Prichard as a general characteristic of the
Arian nations, pertained to those of them that colonized Britain,
we can only partially surmise. We know, however, that at the period
when the annals of our island are first embraced within the limits of
authentic written history, a native priesthood existed, combining not
only the sacerdotal and judicial characters, so frequently found united
in the priesthood of even comparatively civilized races, but also such
influence as leaders and chiefs that the Romans found in them their
most implacable and unrelenting foes. Hence their religious rites were
early proscribed by the imperial lieutenants; and the Druid priest,
who held fast by his mysterious faith and passionate love of national
independence, fell back before the advancing legions of Rome, till
he found partial and temporary repose within the ancient groves of
the Caledonian Celt, beyond the Tyne and Solway. The traces of this,
however, are extremely indistinct and uncertain; and so little evidence
does Celtic tradition preserve of the distinction between the refined
pantheistic creed of the Arian races, and the spells and superstitions
of Allophylian aborigines, that the name of Druid, or _Druidheadh_, is
used only by the modern Gael as significant of a magician or wizard.
Before, however, the hereditary British priesthood had been driven
into the northern fastnesses of the island, if not, indeed, before his
race had effected a landing on its shores, the proofs which we possess
seem clearly to manifest that the Archaic Period of native art had come
to an end, and the last great change within the Pagan era, resulting
from the introduction of the more abundant and more useful metal, iron,
had begun to operate. Within that closing primitive era we arrive at
the first glimpses of authentic records. Thus much has, meanwhile,
proved to be recoverable, in the form of suggestive inferences, if not
of ascertained truths, from amid the dim shadows that have for ages
covered, as with the pall of oblivion, the history of our national
infancy, and of its first youth.


[398] Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, vol. i. pp. 193, 194,
244-271, &c.

[399] After making vain inquiries about this very remarkable relic,
I have been fortunate enough, since the previous notice (_ante_, p.
114) was printed, to recover a drawing of it from a cast taken from
the original, and now in the possession of J. Anderson, Esq., W.S., of
Inverness. The shorter pieces appear to have formed the two extremities.

[400] The views here advanced were submitted to the Ethnological
Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, at
its meeting at Edinburgh, in 1850, along with those on the crania of
the tumuli, in a communication entitled "An Inquiry into the Evidence
of the Existence of Primitive Races in Scotland prior to the Celtæ."

[401] Prichard's Natural History of Man, p. 187.




The changes consequent on the introduction of Iron, to a people already
familiar with the smelting of tin and copper ores and the fabrication
of weapons and implements of bronze, were not necessarily of a radical
character, and undoubtedly were first experienced in the gradual
acquirement of the new metal from foreign sources. Had bronze been
obtainable in sufficient quantities to admit of its application to
the numerous purposes for which iron has since been used, there was
nothing to prevent the accomplishment of nearly all to which European
civilisation has since attained, without the knowledge of the new
metal. The opposite, however, was the case. The metal was costly and
scarce, and hence one of the most obvious sources of the lengthened
period over which we have seen reason to believe that the Archaic
era extended. Throughout that whole period metal in every form was a
rare and valued luxury, and it was as such that iron, the most widely
diffused, the most abundant and most useful of all the metals, was
first introduced into the British Isles. This is sufficiently accounted
for from the fact, that iron rarely, if ever, occurs in nature in a
metallic state; and that it requires great labour and a most intense
heat to fuse it.

The age of iron was introduced by a transition-period, occupying
possibly as long a time as that which marked the gradual introduction
of the era of bronze; but it was not characterized by results of the
same direct value. So long as the knowledge of the new metal merely
extended to the substitution, by barter or other means, of iron for
bronze weapons or implements, its influence could be little more
noteworthy than may be the substitution of percussion-caps for flints
in our British standing army, to some archæologist or historian of the
year 1950. But even such traffic, no doubt, tended through time to make
metals more abundant, and metallic weapons and implements more readily
attainable, so that the artisan and fabricator were at length enabled
to dispense entirely with the primeval stone-hammer and hatchet, and
greatly to extend the application of the new and useful material.

It was only when iron had become thus plentiful that it could be
productive of any effective change on the characteristics of the races
by whom it was used. But though iron is the most abundant of all the
metals, and was the latest to be introduced into use, it is at the
same time the most perishable, rapidly oxidizing, unless preserved by
the most favourable circumstances. Accordingly, very few iron relics,
properly pertaining to the closing Pagan era, have been found in such
a state of preservation as to enable us to make the use of them, in
judging of the skill of their fabricators, which has already been
done with those of the Bronze Period. The new and more useful metal,
however, did not supersede the gold and bronze in their application
to purposes of personal adornment; neither did it put a stop to the
manufacture of pottery, to the use of bronze in the construction of
vessels for sacred or domestic purposes, nor to those sepulchral
rites by which so many evidences of primitive arts and manners have
been chronicled for our instruction. It rather increased all these,
superadding the additional material of silver, wherewith to multiply
the personal ornaments which extending civilisation and refinement
more largely demanded. The superior fitness of the new metal for the
construction of weapons of war would, no doubt, be first discovered
and turned to account. The absence of the guard on all the swords of
the Bronze Period, to which attention has been directed, no doubt
originated mainly in the mode of using the weapon, which its own
capabilities rendered indispensable. The fence and clash of weapons
consequent on modern swordsmanship, in which the sword is made to
supply both offensive and defensive arms, was altogether incompatible
with weapons of cast bronze, liable to shiver like glass at a violent
blow. Experience would soon teach the old swordsman the true use of his
weapon; and so long as he had only to contend with neighbouring tribes
equally armed, he would deem his graceful leaf-shaped sword and his
massy spear of bronze the perfect models of a warrior's arms. But while
the changes which we have aimed at tracing out in the previous section
were progressing slowly but effectively within our sea-girt isle, very
remarkable occurrences were affecting the continent of Europe, and
extending their influences towards its remotest limits. Carthage had
risen from a Tyrian colony, planted on the site of an older Phœnician
settlement on the African coast, to be one of the chief commercial and
maritime states of the world. The younger builders on the banks of the
Tiber had founded the capital destined twice to form the centre of
universal empire. Rome and Carthage had come into collision, as was
inevitable, according to the notions of these elder times, which held
it impossible that two ambitious republics should exist as neighbours.
The Punic wars followed, and for upwards of a century--till 147 B.C.
when the African capital was razed to the ground--the seat of war was
far removed from the British Isles. The second Punic war carried the
arms of the rival republics into Spain, and then possibly some faint
rumour of it may have reached the Cassiterides, stimulating for a time
the trade of their ports, and checking it again, as disasters thickened
around the devoted African kingdom. Spain still continued the seat
of war after the total annihilation of the Carthaginian power; and
during the intestine struggles which followed in the Jugurthan war,
there appeared for the first time on the northern frontiers of Italy,
hosts of the Teutones, Cimbri, and other northern barbarians. By these
several Roman armies were defeated, and the growing power threatened
with annihilation from this unexpected source, at the very time when
it seemed to be without a rival. From an incidental notice of Polybius
we learn the important fact that these northern tribes were already
familiar with iron, and possessed of weapons of that metal, though
apparently ignorant of the art of converting it into steel. One of the
earliest European sources of iron, of which we know anything definite,
was the country of the Norici, a tribe occupying a considerable
region to the south of the Danube, the exact boundaries of which are
only imperfectly known. The invention of the art of converting iron
into steel is ascribed to this Celtic race. Noricum was conquered by
Augustus, and, in his time, the Noric swords were as celebrated at
Rome as the Damascus blades or Andrea Ferraras in more recent times.
To this source, therefore, we should probably look for the earliest
supplies of iron weapons. Polybius also refers to the country of the
Norici as abounding in gold; so that they appear to have excelled in
all the metallurgic arts, and may be supposed to have supplied the arms
with which the Teutones and the Cimbri invaded the Roman frontiers. The
latter, indeed, advanced through Noricum, and bore perhaps from thence
the sword which the haughty Gaul flung into the balance of the Capitol
when Quintus Sulpicius purchased the safety of Rome, not with iron but

The argument deduced from the apparently independent origin of the
oldest European names of the metals, confirms the evidence derived
from other sources in proof of the ignorance of the Arian nomades of
the working of metals on their first settlement in Europe. The same
line of argument, however, adds strong confirmation to the conclusion
suggested here, that the Celtæ had obtained considerable mastery of
the metallurgic arts at the time when they were brought into direct
intercourse and collision with the growing power of Rome, and renders
it probable that the Romans derived both the names of some at least of
the metals, and their knowledge of their economic uses from this older
race. The Saxon _gold_ differs not more essentially from the Greek
χρυσος, than that from the Latin _aurum_; or iron, from σιδηρος, or
_ferrum_; but when we come to examine the Celtic names of the metals it
is otherwise. The Celtic terms are:--Gold--Gael. _or_; golden, _orail_;
Welsh, _aur_; Lat. _aurum_. Silver--Gael. _airgiod_; made of silver,
_airgiodach_; Welsh, _ariant_; Lat. _argentum_, derived in the Celtic
from _arg_, white or milk, like the Greek αργος, whence they also
formed their αργυρος. Nor is it improbable that the Latin _ferrum_ and
the English _iron_ spring indirectly from the same Celtic root:--Gael.
_iarunn_; Welsh, _haiarn_; Sax. _iren_; Dan. _iern_; Span. _hierro_,
which last furnishes no remote approximation to _ferrum_. Nor with
the older metals is it greatly different: as bronze--Gael. _umha_ or
_prais_; Welsh, _pres_, whence our English _brass_--a name bearing no
very indistinct resemblance to the Roman _æs_. Lead in like manner
has its peculiar Gaelic name, _luaidhe_, like the Saxon _læd_, while
the Welsh, _plwm_, closely approximates to the Latin, _plumbum_. It
may undoubtedly be argued that the Latin is the root instead of the
offshoot of these Celtic names, but the entire archæological proofs
are opposed to this idea; and the direct historic evidence of the
early Noric arts, and of the arms of the barbarian invaders of Italy
who dictated terms to Quintus Sulpicius in the Roman Capitol, prove
that the Celtic and Teutonic races of the north of Europe preceded
the Romans in their mastery of the art of working in metals. To this
period, (circa B.C. 113-100,) or probably a little earlier, while Rome
was preoccupied with the struggle for existence, we may refer the close
of the isolated state of the British Isles, and the irruption of newer
races among the original occupants of the country. This it is, and not
the mere alteration of the old metallurgist's materials, which gives
a totally new character to the Iron Period. The gold and the bronze
are still there, but the shapes which express to us the intellectual
progress of their artificers and owners are essentially changed. The
indefiniteness of archaic art gives place to forms and ornaments as
positive and characteristic as any in which we recognise the expressive
types of medieval art, or the changing fashions of the Elizabethan and
Louis Quatorze styles. It is important that we should fix as nearly
as possible the true date of this change, when for the first time we
find our inquiries bringing us in contact with ascertained epochs and
recorded facts. From this, as from a central point, we may perhaps yet
be able to reckon backward as well as forward, and at least secure a
basis for future observations.

When iron first became known to the native Britons its value was
naturally estimated in accordance with its rarity, and it was applied
to such uses as we now devote the precious metals. Converted into
personal ornaments, it formed rare, if not beautiful trinkets, and in
the shape of ring-money it even superseded or supplemented the older
gold. Julius Cæsar speaks of the Britons as using such a rude currency;
but we may infer from other evidence already referred to that this
did not arise, at that comparatively late period, from its extreme
rarity. Herodian indeed speaks still later of the Britons wearing "iron
about their bellies and necks, which they esteem as fine and rich an
ornament as others do gold." But we have abundant evidence that they
were familiar with the value and beauty of gold, and we shall not, I
think, overstrain the allowances to be made for the prejudiced accounts
of the most intelligent Roman, in receiving even the narrative of Cæsar
with some limitations. His personal opportunities of observation could
extend only to a very limited section of the native Britons, and these
seen under the most disadvantageous circumstances; while the polished
and haughty Roman was little likely to trouble himself with attempting
any very impartial estimate of what were in his eyes only different
phases of barbarism.

The fact has already been adverted to, that all the descriptions of
the weapons of the Gauls furnished by classic writers, lead us to
the conclusion that the ancient bronze leaf-shaped sword had been
entirely superseded by the more effective iron weapon prior to their
collision with the veteran legions of Rome. The same is no less true
of the contemporary Britons. Tacitus describes the Caledonians as
"a strong, warlike nation, using large swords without a point, and
targets, wherewith they artfully defended themselves against the Roman
missiles." We know, moreover, that before the Romans effected a landing
in Britain, they were familiar with the fact of an intimate intercourse
having been long maintained with Gaul. The former is described by
Julius Cæsar as the chief seat of a religion common to both; and the
evidence is no less explicit which shews that many of the southern
British tribes were of the same race, and differed little in arts or
customs from the Gauls of the neighbouring continent. But still more,
the reason assigned by Cæsar for the first invasion of Britain was the
provocation its natives had given him by the aid which they furnished
to his enemies in Gaul. There could not therefore exist any great
disparity in their arts or military accoutrements; while we discover
in this no slight evidence of the maritime skill to which they must
have attained even at that early period, to enable them to embark
such bodies of auxiliaries for the help of the continental tribes as
attracted the notice and excited the indignation of the Roman general.

To the early part of this Age of Iron should most probably be assigned
the construction of the vast monolithic temple of Stonehenge. Its
difference from the older temples of Avebury and Stennis, as well
as from all other British monuments of this class, has already been
referred to. Rude and amorphous as its vast monoliths are, they are
characterized by such a degree of regularity and uniformity of design,
as marks them to belong to a different era from the Avebury or the
Stennis circle, when the temple-builders had acquired the mastery of
tools with which to hew them into shape. Much greater mechanical skill,
moreover, was required to raise the superincumbent masses and fit
them into their exact position, than to rear the rude standing stone,
or upheave the capstone of the cromlech on to the upright trilith.
Stonehenge, therefore, is certainly not a work of the Stone Period,
and probably not of the Bronze Period, with the exception of its
little central circle of unhewn stones, which may date back to a very
remote era, and have formed the nucleus round which the veneration of
a later and more civilized age reared the gigantic columns, still so
magnificent and so mysterious even in ruin.

The isolation which we have reason to believe had hitherto exercised
so much influence on the native tribes of Britain, is now seen to be
finally at an end. The Celtic races are once more nomade, or mingling
their blood with the more civilized tribes which are gradually securing
a footing in the south-eastern portions of the island. The first stream
of Teutonic colonization had set in, which, followed successively
by the Romans with their legions of foreign auxiliaries, by Saxons,
Angles, Scoti, Norwegians, Danes, and Normans, produced the modern
hardy race of Britons. The term Teutonic has been adopted here as at
once the most comprehensive and definite one by which to characterize
this period. In Scotland the Celtic races maintained a progressive
civilisation which ultimately developed itself in new forms, producing
an essentially Celtic style and era of art at a later period; but
throughout the last Pagan era, the arts of the Celtic Caledonians
appear to have been modified by the same Teutonic influence as those
of South Britain, Gaul, Germany, and Scandinavia. The tribes of
North Britain were indeed only indirectly affected by the aggressive
movements of the earlier Teutonic invaders, and were probably a pure
Celtic race when the Roman legions penetrated into the Caledonian
fastnesses in the second century of our era. But the close affinity
between the relics of North and South Britain abundantly proves the
rapid influence resulting alike from the friendly interchange of
useful commodities and personal ornaments, and doubtless also from the
frequent spoils of war. The beautiful coinage of the British Prince
Cunobeline, (circa A.D. 13 to A.D. 41,) and supposed to be the work
of a Roman, or of a native monier familiar with Roman art, exhibits
the type which the Gauls imitated from the Didrachmas and Staters
of Macedonia upwards of three centuries before. Little doubt is now
entertained by our best numismatists that the coins of Comius and
others of an earlier date than Cunobeline or the first Roman invasion,
include native British mintage. There is no question, at any rate,
that they circulated as freely in Britain as in Gaul, and have been
found in considerable quantities in many parts of the island. The iron
or bronze and copper ring-money of the first century must therefore be
presumed as only analogous to our modern copper coinage, and not as the
sole barbarous substitute for a minted circulating medium.

Several interesting discoveries of the primitive iron ring-money
have been made in Scotland, though in no case as yet in such a state
as to admit of its preservation. In a minute description of various
antiquities in the parish of Kilpatrick-Fleming, Dumfriesshire,
superadded to the Old Statistical Account, the contents of several
tumuli opened about the year 1792 are detailed. In one was discovered a
cist, inclosing an urn of elegant workmanship, filled with ashes. The
urn was found standing with its mouth up, and covered with a stone. At
a small distance from it, within the cist, lay several iron rings, each
about the circumference of a half-crown piece, but so much corroded
with rust that they crumbled to pieces on being touched.[402] A similar
discovery made in Annandale is thus described by an eyewitness: "In
the centre of the tumulus was found a red flag-stone laid level on the
earth, on which were placed two other slabs of equal size, parallel to
each other; and other two, one at each end; another was laid on the
top as a cover. In the interior of this was an urn containing ashes,
with a few very thin plates of iron in the form of rings, so completely
corroded that when exposed to the air they crumbled into dust."[403] In
these frail relics of the new material we can have little hesitation in
recognising the _annuli ferrei_ of Julius Cæsar, used by the Britons of
the first century as their accredited native currency.

Assuming it as an established fact that the native Britons of the
southern parts of the island, at least, had carried the arts of
civilisation so far as to coin their own money, we perceive therein
the evidence of a totally different era from the Archaic Period,
in which direct imitation of the simplest positive forms is hardly
traceable. Bronze, as has been already observed, continued to be used
no less than in the former era, of which it has been assumed as the
characteristic feature, in the manufacture of personal ornaments,
domestic utensils, &c. In Denmark, indeed, some remarkably interesting
relics have been found, seemingly belonging to the very dawn of the
last transition-period, when iron was more precious than copper or

These include axes consisting of a broad blade of copper edged with
iron, and bronze daggers similarly furnished with edges of the harder
metal. Even in Denmark such examples are extremely rare, and no
corresponding instance that I am aware of has yet been discovered in
Britain. A great similarity is traceable between the bronze relics of
the various northern races of Europe, belonging to the Iron age, and
that not of an indefinite character, like the stone hammer or flint
lance and arrow-heads of the Primeval Period, but a distinct uniformity
of design and ornament, which has mainly contributed to confirm the
prevalent opinion that the majority of British and especially of
Scottish bronze relics are of Danish origin. In examining these relics
in detail, I shall endeavour honestly to assign to Scandinavia whatever
is her own, but if the arguments advanced here have any foundation in
truth, it is obvious that the British Iron age had lasted well-nigh
a thousand years, and as a Pagan era was at an end before we have
any historical evidence of Scandinavian invaders effecting permanent
settlements on our shores. The whole evidence of history manifestly
leads to the conclusion that Britain long preceded the Scandinavian
races in civilisation, nor was it till she had been enervated alike by
Roman luxury and by the succeeding intestine jealousies and rivalries
of native tribes, that Scandinavia, fresh in her young barbarian
vigour, made of her a spoil and a prey.

On none of the native arts did Roman intercourse effect a more
remarkable change than on British fictile ware. From the English
Channel to the Frith of Tay, Roman and Anglo-Roman pottery have been
met with in abundance, including the fine Samian ware, probably
of foreign workmanship, the rude vessels of the smother kiln, and
the common clay urns and coarse amphoræ and mortaria, designed for
daily domestic use. Numerous Anglo-Roman kilns have been discovered,
some of them even with the half-formed and partially baked vessels
still standing on the form or disposed in the kiln, as they had been
abandoned some fifteen or sixteen centuries ago. Cinerary urns of
the same class have been frequently found accompanied with relics
corresponding to the era of Roman occupation. But, be it observed,
the bronze relics of the Teutonic type corresponding in general style
and ornamentation to those discovered in the Scandinavian countries,
when found in British sepulchral deposits are almost invariably
accompanied with the primitive pottery, or with a class of urns,
described in a succeeding chapter, in which we trace the first elements
of improvement in the manufacture of native fictile ware. This must
settle the question of the priority of their deposition to the earliest
conceivable era of Scandinavian invasion. The native Britons did
unquestionably greatly degenerate after being abandoned by their Roman
conquerors; but it is opposed alike to evidence and probability to
imagine that they resumed the barbarous arts of an era some centuries
prior--a proceeding more akin to the ideas of the modern antiquary than
to the practice of a semi-civilized race.

The devices most frequently employed in the decoration of the gold,
silver, and bronze relics of this period, are what are called the
serpentine and dragon ornaments. They are common to the works of all
the northern Teutonic races, and are manifestly to be referred to
the same Eastern origin as the wild legends of the Germano-Teutonic
and Scandinavian mythic poems, in which dragons, snakes, and other
monsters, play so conspicuous a part. Along with these, however, there
are other patterns indirectly traceable to Greek and Roman models,
as is also observable in the dies of the early Gaulish and British
coins. This, however, will be more fully considered in treating of
the personal ornaments of the period, but meanwhile we may draw the
general conclusion, that the arts of the Iron age pertained to the
whole Teutonic races of Northern Europe, and reached both Denmark
and Britain from a common source, long prior to the natives of these
two countries coming into direct collision. We see that an intimate
intercourse was carried on between Britain and Gaul at the very period
when the transition to the fully developed Iron age was progressing in
the former country: it is easy, therefore, to understand how similar
arts would reach the Danish Peninsula and the Scandinavian countries
beyond the Baltic. But Scandinavia had long passed her Bronze Period,
and succeeding transition era, when she sent forth her hardy Vikings
to plunder the British coasts. It was with other weapons than the
small leaf-shaped bronze sword that the Norse rovers came to spoil and
desolate our shores.

In recent cuttings, during the construction of the Dublin and Cashel
Railway, there were found a number of large and heavy iron swords,
which are now deposited in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy.
These Mr. Worsaae examined during his visit to Ireland in 1846, and
unhesitatingly pronounced them to be Norwegian. "The swords are long
and straight, formed for cutting as well as thrusting, and terminate
in points formed by rounding off the edge towards the back of the
blade. The spears are long and slender, and similar in form to the
lance-heads used in some cavalry corps."[404] They are formed of a
soft kind of iron, like those referred to by Polybius, as in use
among the Gauls more than a century prior to the invasion of Julius
Cæsar; and, like them, they differ nearly as much in every essential
point, as can well be conceived possible, from the bronze sword of
the previous era, which has been so perseveringly bandied about by
modern antiquaries between Romans and Danes. Mr. Worsaae especially
referred to the great size and weight of the swords found in Ireland,
and contrasted them with the lighter weapons of the same metal which
he believed to be contemporary swords of the native Irish, from whence
he drew the inference that Ireland was--like England, France, Germany,
&c.--so weak, from about the eighth till the twelfth century, in
consequence of intestine wars, that she fell an easy prey to small
numbers of Scandinavian invaders. Mr. Worsaae farther remarked of the
weapons found at Kilmainham:--"They are so like the Norse swords, that
if they were mixed with the swords found in Norwegian, Swedish, and
Danish tombs, and now in the collections of Christiania, Stockholm, and
Copenhagen, it would be difficult to distinguish one from the other.
The form of the handle, and particularly of the knob at the end of the
handle, is quite characteristic of the Norse swords. Along with them
some other antiquities of undoubtedly Scandinavian origin were also

The source from whence Europe derived this great gift of iron has yet
to be ascertained. It certainly was not from Rome. The Norici, it has
already been observed, furnished the chief supplies of iron to Rome,
and taught her metallurgists the art of converting it into steel. It is
not impossible, however, that it was from the remote North that this
source of civilisation was sent to the Mediterranean coasts. British
antiquaries have obtained as yet only a partial view of Scandinavian
archæology, notwithstanding the valuable publications of Mr. Worsaae.
The ancient land of the Scandinavian races includes Denmark,--a country
of peculiar geological formation, having abundant stores of silex in
its chalk strata, but no minerals to tempt the skill of its aboriginal
occupants,--and Sweden, including Norway, a country abounding in
minerals, and still furnishing Europe with the finest iron from
its native ores. It is remarkable that this latter country appears,
from its primitive relics, to have had its primeval stone period and
birth-time of the mechanical arts, but, with the exception of the small
district of Sweden adjacent to Denmark, so far as yet appears, this
was immediately succeeded by the Iron Period. No bronze archaic era is
indicated in its archæological annals. We cannot assume from this, as
some are inclined to do, that therefore Norway must have remained an
unpeopled waste, while Denmark was advancing into the period of well
developed mechanical and ornamental arts. With our present imperfect
materials for judging, we are better perhaps to assume nothing, but
wait for some able Norwegian archæologist doing that for his native
antiquities which Thomsen and Worsaae have done for those of Denmark.
Yet good evidence has been furnished in part, especially in one
important department, by Professor Nillson's _Skandinaviska Nordens
Urinvänare_, or Primitive Inhabitants of Northern Scandinavia, though
in this he assigns to the true Swea race, and the first workers of
the native iron, no earlier a date as the colonists of Sweden than
the sixth century. The _Samlingar för Nordens fornälskare_, already
referred to, is also of considerable avail, especially from its copious
illustrations. From these we learn that the primitive tumuli-builders
of Denmark and Norway are of the same race, and that Norway had her
monolithic era, of which no less remarkable traces remain than that of
Denmark. Hence we are led to ask the question,--May not her Archaic
Period have been an iron instead of a bronze one, and her forges the
source from whence the Norici and other Teutonic and Celtic races
of Europe learned that the iron-stone was also an ore, and could be
smelted and wrought like the more ductile bronze? Northern mythological
traditions throw some imperfect and uncertain light on this subject.
They refer, for example, to their Gnomes and Dwarfs, their Alfes, and
other supernatural metallurgists, as inhabiting mountain regions lying
beyond and around them. This is peculiarly noticeable in all the oldest
mythic fables, mixed up with the wild inventions of dragons, serpents,
and the like fanciful machinery, which tell of their far birthland
in the older continent of Asia. But it is worthy of notice, that the
topography of these mythological legends in no way corresponds with
the natural features of the Scandinavian peninsulas, lying as they do
between two seas. May we not infer, therefore, that they had their
origin while yet the Scandinavian nomades were wandering towards
their final destination between the Baltic and the German Ocean,
and that these distant mountains, with their metallurgic Gnomes and
Alfes, were none other than the mountain ranges of Norway, the mineral
treasures of which now furnish so valuable a source of national wealth
to their descendants? The Germanic tradition has already been noticed
which places the forge of the mythic Weland in the Caucasus, a fading
memorial, perhaps, of the wanderings of their Teutonic fathers towards
their western home. Such wild traditions must necessarily be used
with much doubt and caution; yet they are not meaningless, nor the
mere baseless offspring of fancy. Other and more direct evidence may
possibly be within reach of the Norwegian archæologist, to induce the
belief that the Alfes of his ancestral myths may have been a hardy
race of Finnish, Celtic, or other primitive metallurgists, who, like
the Norici, supplied the weapons by which themselves were subjugated.
All this, however, is advanced with the greatest hesitation, not as a
theory which it is proposed to maintain, but only as guessings at truth
which lies at present beyond our grasp. By far the most important iron
ore wrought in Norway and Sweden is Magnetite, which appears to pertain
nearly as exclusively to the North as tin does to the British Isles.
The largest known masses occur in Scandinavia, Lapland, Siberia, and
in North America. In Norway, Arendal is the most important locality;
and in Sweden, Dannemora, Utoe, Norberg, and Taberg. The fine quality
of the Magnetite ores is ascribed to their being mixed with calc-spar,
thallite, hornblende, and other natural adjuncts advantageous for their
reduction, so that the granular ores often require no other flux. Such
a condition of the iron ore was manifestly peculiarly calculated to
facilitate the processes of smelting and fusing, and thereby to adapt
it for working by the primitive metallurgist. Magnetite is not unknown
in several of the remoter parts of Scotland, but the distance from fuel
has hitherto prevented its application to economic purposes, at least
in modern times. Bog iron ore, an hydrated oxide of iron still more
readily fused, is also common in Sweden, and abundant in the northern
and western islands of Scotland; but though well adapted for castings,
it is inapplicable for other purposes. Hæmatite, or specular iron, is
another of the most abundant iron ores specially worthy of notice here,
because it is found in a state more nearly resembling the metal than
any other ore of iron, and occurs in the most ancient metallurgic
districts of England, where the previous native industrial arts were
so well calculated to suggest its economic use when observed in such a
form. It appears at Lostwithiel, in Cornwall, in the form of fine red
crystals of pure iron peroxide, and is also found at Tincroft and St.
Just in the same district, and in Devonshire, Wales, Cumberland, and
Perthshire. Such are some of the lights by which mineralogy enables us
to trace out the probable origin of the working of iron in Europe; but
after all, it is to Asia we are forced to return for the true source
of nearly all our primitive arts, nor will the canons of Archæology
be established on a safe foundation till the antiquities of that
older continent have been explored and classified. The advocate of
Druidical theories may find his so-called "Druidical temple" in the
steppes of Asia as well as on Salisbury Plain; and probably very many
other supposed national relics, exclusively appropriated by the local
antiquary, will yet be discovered to have their types and counterparts
in the evidences of primitive Asiatic art.

    "Sepulchral tumuli are spread over all the northern and
    western parts of Europe, and over many extensive regions in
    northern Asia, as far eastward at least as the river Yenisei.
    They contain the remains of races either long ago extinct,
    or of such as have so far changed their abodes and manner of
    existence, that the ancestors can no longer be recognised in
    their descendants. They abound on the banks of the great rivers
    Irtisch and Yenisei, where the greatest numbers of the then
    existing people were collected, by the facilities afforded to
    human intercourse. In Northern Asia these tombs are ascribed
    to Tschudes, or barbarians, nations foreign and hostile to
    the Slavic race. The erectors of these sepulchral mounds were
    equally distinct and separate from the Tartar nations, who
    preceded Slaves; for the tombs of the Tartars, and all edifices
    raised by them, indicate the use of iron tools; and the art
    of working of iron mines has ever been a favourite attribute
    of the Tartar nations. But silver and golden ornaments of
    rude workmanship, though in abundant quantity, are found in
    the Siberian tombs. The art of fabricating ornaments of the
    precious metals seems to have preceded by many ages the use of
    iron in the northern regions of Asia."[406]

Keeping these important facts in view, which so entirely coincide
with the ascertained truths of primitive European history, it is
still worthy of note that there appears to be something altogether
remarkable in the archæology of Sweden and Norway, destitute as these
countries would appear to be of the traces of the primitive metallurgic
arts discoverable elsewhere, equally in the Asiatic seats of earliest
population, and in the other European countries colonized by the
Arian nomades. If we accept the conclusions arrived at by Professor
Nillson, that the Swea race did not settle in Scandinavia till the
sixth century, we shall be the more certainly forced to the conclusion
that they were then a people far advanced in the arts of civilisation;
since it is the same race whose powerful fleets are found ravaging the
northern coasts of Europe in the ninth century, establishing colonies
on their shores, and soon after planting Scandinavian settlements
in Iceland, Greenland, and in Vinland on the continent of North
America. Leaving, however, the question of dates to further inquiry,
the curious coincidence of these northern mythological fables with
the topography of the country and the peculiar characteristics of
its primitive antiquities, suggest the conclusion that the latest
intruding race brought with it--probably from Asia--a knowledge of
the art of working the metals; and found on settling in the northern
Scandinavian countries that their predecessors were already familiar
with the mineral treasures of the North, and knew how to smelt the dark
iron-stone and convert it to economic purposes. The latter, according
to the craniological investigations of Professor Nillson, were a race
of Celtic origin, having skulls longer than the first and broader
than the second of the two elder races of the Scandinavian barrows.
There is therefore nothing in the ethnological character of the race
inconsistent with such metallurgic skill, but, on the contrary, much to
add to the probability of an early practice of the arts of the founder
and the smith, the Celtæ having shewn, wherever circumstances favoured
it, a remarkable aptitude for working in metals.

This digression pertains, perhaps, more to general Archæology than
to the direct elucidation of Scottish antiquities. But independently
of the legitimate interest attached to the inquiry into the origin
of these metallurgic arts which brought civilisation in their train,
the history of Scotland at the period we are now approaching is more
intimately connected with Norway than with any other country, except
Ireland. To the primitive Scandinavian literature we still look
for some of the earliest traces of authentic national history; and
whatever tends to illuminate the Iron Period of the North can hardly
fail to throw some light upon our own. This must be the work of the
archæologists of Scandinavia; nor are they insensible to its importance.

The traditional Vœlund-myth has already been attempted to be connected
with a definite historic epoch, the reign of King Nidung, king of
Nerika, in Sweden, in the sixth century. Such a mode of interpretation,
however, shews a very imperfect appreciation of the true nature of
this remarkable myth, which belongs in reality to no single country,
but is as essential a link in the history of the human race as are to
each of us the momentous years which form the stage between infancy
and manhood. We cannot, indeed, too speedily abandon this misdirected
aim, of seeking for precise dates of epochs in primitive history. With
these the archæologist, in his earlier historical investigations, has
generally little more to do than the geologist. Both must rest content
with a relative chronology, which yet further investigation will
doubtless render more definite and precise. Where dates are clearly
ascertainable, the archæologist will gladly avail himself of them; and
in this Iron Period much of the indefiniteness of primeval annals gives
place to authentic history. But while rejecting the localization of the
Vœlund-myth at the court of Nerika, it is of importance for our present
purpose to note the general evidences of Scandinavian progress in the
arts by which nations attain their majority. Not in the ninth century
only, but perhaps in this era of King Nidung, in the sixth century, or
in the fifth or fourth--we know not indeed how early--the Northmen may
have begun to build ships, and learned boldly to quit their fiords for
the open sea. Our annals prior to the ninth century are so meagre that
we must lie open to the recovery of many traces of important events
unnoted by them, in the interval between that ascertained epoch and
the older one when the Roman legions were compelled to abandon the
vallum of Antoninus, and repair the barrier beyond the Tyne. We cannot
too speedily disabuse ourselves of the idea, that because no Celtic
or Scandinavian Herodotus has left us records of our old fatherland,
therefore the North had no history prior to its Christian era. We
owe to the Romans the history of centuries which otherwise must have
remained unwritten, yet not the less amply filled with the deeds of
Cassivelaunus, Boadicea, Galgacus, and many another hero and heroine,
all unsung; though they wanted but their British Homer, or Northern
Hermes with his graphic runes, to render the sieges of the White
Caterthun as world-famous as that of Troy.


[402] Sinclair's Statist. Acc. vol. xiii. p. 272.

[403] New Statist. Acc. vol. iv. p. 97.

[404] Hand-Book of Irish Antiquities, p. 166.

[405] The Antiquities of Ireland and Denmark, by J. J. A. Worsaae, Esq.
Dublin, 1846. P. 14.

[406] Prichard's Natural History of Man.



The fashion of Scottish archæologists in dealing with our national
antiquities has heretofore most frequently been to write a folio volume
on the Anglo-Roman era, and huddle up in a closing chapter or appendix
some few notices of such obdurate relics of primitive nationality as
could in no way be forced into a Roman mould. Some valuable works have
been the result of this exclusive devotion to one remarkable epoch; but
since this has been so faithfully explored by Camden, Sibbald, Horsley,
Gordon, Roy, Chalmers, and Stuart, there is good reason why we may be
excused following the example of the Antiquary _par excellence_, and
plunging, "nothing loth, into a sea of discussion concerning urns,
vases, votive altars, Roman camps, and the rules of castrametation,"
with copious notations on the difference between the mode of
entrenching _castra stativa_ and _castra æstiva_, "things confounded
by too many of our historians!"

To English archæologists the Anglo-Roman Period is one of the greatest
importance; for the Romans conquered and colonized their country,
taught its inhabitants their religion, sepulchral rites, arts, and
laws, and, after occupying the soil for centuries, left them a totally
different people than they had found them. There is something,
moreover, in the very geological features of the south-eastern
districts of England, which the Romans first and chiefly occupied,
at once more readily susceptible and more in need of such external
influences. It cannot, indeed, be overlooked, among the elements of
ethnological science, that the geological features of countries and
districts exercise no unimportant influence on the races that inhabit
them. The intelligent traveller detects many indications besides the
mere difference of building materials, when he passes from the British
chalk and clay to the stone districts. To the Romans it can hardly be
doubted that England owes the art of converting her clay into bricks
and tiles; and that in all probability, the P. P. BRI. LON.--_præfectus
primæ [cohortis] Britonum Londinii_?--stamped on recently discovered
Roman tiles found on the site of modern London,[407] indicate some of
the products of the kilns by which the inexhaustible bed of London
clay was first converted to economical uses. The Roman mansion, with
its hypocaust and sudatorium, its mosaic paving and painted walls,
its sculptures, bronzes, and furnishings of all sorts, introduced the
refinements of classic Italy into the social life of England; while
the disciplined hardiness of legionary colonists tempered the excesses
of Roman luxury. New wants were speedily created, and many dormant
faculties excited into action among the intelligent native tribes. The
older British pottery entirely disappeared, superseded by the skilful
products of the Anglo-Roman kiln, or the more beautiful imported Samian
ware. England might, and indeed did, greatly degenerate when deserted
by her conquerors, but it was altogether impossible that she could
return to her former state. The footmark of the Roman on the soil of
England is indelible. It forms a great and most memorable epoch between
two widely different periods, the influence of which has probably never
since ceased to operate, and hence the important place which it still
continues to occupy in English archæology.

The history of the Scoto-Roman invasion is altogether different from
this. It is a mere episode which might be altogether omitted without
very greatly marring the integrity and completeness of the national
annals. It was, for the most part, little more than a temporary
military occupation of a few fenced stations amid hostile tribes.
Julius Cæsar effected his first landing on the shores of Britain in the
year B.C. 55; but it was not till after a lapse of 135 years--as nearly
as may now be guessed, in the summer of A.D. 80--that Agricola led the
Roman army across the debatable land of the Scottish border, and began
to hew a way through the Caledonian forests. Domitian succeeded to the
throne of Titus in the following year, while the Roman legions were
rearing their line of forts between the Forth and the Clyde; and the
jealousy of the tyrant speedily wrested the government of our island
from the conqueror of Galgacus. From that period till the accession
of the Emperor Hadrian, in A.D. 117, the Roman historians are nearly
silent about Britain; but we then learn that the Roman authority was
maintained with difficulty in its island province; and when Hadrian
visited Britain the chief memorial he left of the imperial presence
was the vallum which bore his name, extending between the Solway and
the Tyne. Up to this period, therefore, it is obvious that the Roman
legions had established no permanent footing in Caledonia--using that
term in its modern and most comprehensive sense; nor was it till the
accession of Titus Antoninus Pius to the Imperial throne, and the
appointment of Lollius Urbicus to the command in Britain, nearly two
centuries after the first landing of Cæsar in England, that any portion
of our northern kingdom acquired a claim to the title of _Caledonia
Romana_. Lollius Urbicus, the legate of Antoninus Pius, fixed the
northern limits of Roman empire on the line previously marked out by
the forts of Agricola; and beyond that boundary, extending between the
Forth and the Clyde, nearly the sole traces of the presence of the
Romans are a few earth-works, with one or two exceptions, of doubtful
import, and some chance discoveries of pottery and coins, mostly
ascribable, it may be presumed, to the fruitless northern expedition
of Agricola, after the victory of Mons Grampius, or to the still more
ineffectual one of his successor, Severus. In this extra-mural region,
indeed, lies the celebrated Roman military work, Ardoch Camp, within
the area of which was discovered the sepulchral memorial of Ammonius
Damionis, the only Roman inscription yet found north of the Forth.
Such an exception is the strongest evidence that could be produced of
the transitory nature of Roman occupation in the region beyond the
boundaries fixed by Lollius Urbicus.

Here, then, we have the proprætor of Antoninus Pius established within
the line of ramparts which bear the Emperor's name, A.D. 140. The
Roman soldiers are busy building forts; raising each their thousand
or two paces of the wall, and recording the feat on the legionary
tablets which still attest the same; constructing roads and other
military works; and establishing here and there coloniæ and oppida,
with a view to permanent settlement. For a period of about twenty
years, during which Lollius Urbicus remained governor of the province,
peace appears to have prevailed; and to this brief epoch, when a Roman
navy was stationed on the coasts of Britain, we may, with great
probability, ascribe the rise of Inveresk, Cramond or Alaterva, and
other maritime Roman colonial or municipal sites. With the death of
the able Titus Antoninus, whom grateful Roman citizens surnamed Pius,
all this was at an end. Calphurnius Agricola had to be despatched by
the new emperor, Marcus Aurelius, to put down an insurrection of the
British tribes. The reign of his successor Commodus was marked by a
still more determined rising of the North. The Caledonian Britons again
took to arms, assailed the legions with irresistible force, defeated
them and slew their general, broke through the rampart of Antoninus,
and penetrated unchecked into the most fertile districts of the Roman
province of Valentia, as it was subsequently named, comprehending the
whole district between the walls of Hadrian and Antoninus which at a
later period became the Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. Another legate,
Ulpius Marcellus, had to hasten from Rome to arrest the Caledonian
invaders, and a few more years of doubtful peace were secured to the
northern province. Lucius Septimius Severus succeeded to the purple
A.D. 197, learned that the Caledonian Britons were once more within
the ineffectual ramparts; and after a few years of timid negotiation,
rather than of determined opposition to these hardy northern tribes,
Virius Lupus, the legate of Severus, was compelled to own that the
occupation of Caledonia was hopeless. The aged emperor immediately
commenced preparations for marching in person against the Caledonians.
About A.D. 208 he effected his purpose, and entered Caledonia at the
head of an overwhelming force; but it was in vain. He penetrated indeed
as far, it is thought, as the Moray Frith, but only to return, with
numbers greatly reduced, to fix once more the limits of Roman empire
where they had been before marked out by the wall of Hadrian, between
the Solway and the Tyne. It is possible, indeed, that the northern wall
was not immediately abandoned. At Cramond have been found both coins
and medals of Caracalla and Diocletian. The Roman tenure of the North,
however, was manifestly insecure; and the successor of Severus was
little likely to recover what that able emperor had been compelled to

A period of sixty-eight years is thus the utmost that can be assigned
for this occupation of Caledonia as a Roman province, and the history
of that brief era is amply sufficient to justify the oft-claimed
title--whatever be its value--of the unconquered Caledonians. The
tribes in the immediate vicinity of the garrisoned strongholds of the
invaders might be overawed and forced into apparent submission; but
the country was no more subdued and rendered a tributary province than
when Edward made himself the arbiter between Baliol and the Bruce.

The successors of Severus were glad to secure the forbearance of
the Caledonians on any terms; and for seventy-three years after the
departure of his sons from Britain its name is scarcely mentioned by
any Roman writer. In subsequent allusions to the restless inroads of
the Caledonians on the southern province, they are mentioned for the
first time in the beginning of the fourth century by the name of Picts;
but it is not till the reign of the Emperor Valentinian, in the latter
part of the fourth century, A.D. 367, that we find the Roman legions
under Theodosius effectually coping with the northern invaders, and
recovering the abandoned country between the walls of Antoninus and
Severus. This was now at length converted into a Roman province, and
received the name of VALENTIA, in honour of the emperor; and to this
latter occupation should probably be ascribed the rise of most of the
inland coloniæ, the traces of which are still recoverable. But its
meagre history is that of a frontier province. The Picts were ever
ready to sally forth from their mountain fastnesses on the slightest
appearance of insecurity or intermitted watchfulness. Again and again
they ravaged the southern provinces, and returned loaded with spoil;
and it is chiefly to the notices of their inroads and repulsions that
we owe the possession of any authentic history of North Britain in
the fourth century. Early in the fifth century, about the year 422, a
Roman legion made its appearance in Scotland for the last time. They
succeeded in driving back the Picts beyond the northern wall, as a
disciplined force must ever do when brought into direct collision with
untrained barbarian tribes; but it was no longer possible to retain
the province of Valentia. The legionary colonists and the Romanized
Britons were advised to abandon it, and once more withdraw within the
older limits fixed by Severus on the line of Hadrian's Wall. So ended
the second and last Roman occupation of Scotland, extending over a
period of about fifty years. It is to this latter era that we should
probably assign the establishment of the Roman town near the Eildon
Hills, as well as of other sites in the interior of the country,
bearing traces of Roman occupation, which it has been customary to
seek for among the stations mentioned by Ptolemy. Roy, for example,
adhering to one of the names given by Ptolemy, while he rejects
the locality which he assigned to it, fixes the site of Τριμοντιον,
or _Trimontium_, in the neighbourhood of the Eildons, because "the
aspect of the hills corresponds exactly with the name."[408] In this
he has been implicitly followed by later writers. But _Trimontium_
is a mere Latinized version of Ptolemy's Τριμοντιον, and does not
necessarily signify _Tres Montes_, the supposed designation suggested
by the triple summits of the Eildon Hills; unless, as is possible, the
name is only a Greek rendering of the original _Tres Montes_, which
has been anew transformed into the later Latin form. Still the mere
resemblance of the name to certain features of an ascertained Roman
site is very insufficient evidence in contradiction to the more precise
information of the old geographer, as well as to the probability of the
later origin of the Eildon town. We must therefore leave Trimontium
where Ptolemy places it, in the district of the Selgovæ, not far
from the military station at Birrens, although it will be shewn that
very extensive Roman traces, unknown to General Roy, do exist in the
neighbourhood of the Eildon Hills. The first period of the Roman
presence in Scotland in the second century was obviously little more
than an occupation of military posts; the second, in the latter end
of the fourth century, was the precarious establishment of a Roman
province on a frontier station, and within sight of a foe ever watching
the opportunity for invasion and spoil.

Hence the paucity of Roman remains in Scotland, and the trifling
influence exercised by Roman civilisation on its ancient arts.
Roman pottery has been found in considerable quantities on the
sites of well-known forts and stations, but no Roman kiln has yet
been discovered in Scotland, such as suffices in England to shew
how completely native arts were superseded by those of the Italian
colonists. Few, indeed, of the memorials which the Romans have left
of their presence in Scotland pertain to the practice of the peaceful
arts. Their inscriptions, their altars, and their sepulchral tablets,
all relate to the legionary, and shew by how precarious a tenure
his footing was maintained beyond the Tyne. No evidence serves more
completely to prove this transitory and exotic character of the
occupation of the country than the traces of Roman masonry. Passing
beyond the limits assigned by Hadrian to Roman dominion, the legions
entered on a country the geological features of which are totally
dissimilar to any part of Britain which they had previously acquired.
Yet the ruins of their buildings, discovered in the very centre of the
Lothians, shew that they brought with them the art of the brickmaker,
and manufactured their building materials by the same laborious process
above the fine sandstone strata of the Frith of Forth, as within the
chalk and clay districts of England, where their earliest settlements
were effected.

This evidence of the practice of exotic arts becomes still more
noticeable on the sites of some of the wall-stations. At Castlehill,
for example, the third station from the west end of the rampart of
Antoninus, though the fort no longer exists, its materials have been
employed in erecting the farm-offices and inclosures which now occupy
its commanding site. Here, so recently as 1849, an inscribed tablet
of the Twentieth Legion was discovered. On visiting the station the
intelligent observer can hardly fail to be struck with the peculiar
character of the stones built into the new walls, and lying about where
they have been turned up by the plough. The legionary builders would
seem to have found clay unattainable, or inconvenient to work, and were
sufficiently remote from the Clyde to render importation unadvisable.
They have accordingly been compelled to resort to stone; but true to
the more familiar material, they have with perverse ingenuity hewn it
into the shape and size of the common Roman brick, making in fact, as
nearly as possible, bricks of stone. It is not improbable that similar
relics may still exist at some places on the line of Hadrian's Wall;
such, however, is not the case with its more substantial successor.
When Severus abandoned the northern rampart and rebuilt a wall
nearly on the line of that of Hadrian, the Anglo-Roman occupants of
Northumbria were no longer strangers to the peculiar facilities of the
district, and the wall of Severus accordingly exhibits many traces of
substantial masonry, such as antiquaries familiar only with the Roman
remains of the clay districts can scarcely persuade themselves are the
work of the same builders who wrought with chalk and brick, or bonded
even their stone walls in the south with courses of Roman tile.

Another conclusive proof of the temporary and mere military occupation
of Scotland by the Romans, appears from the fact, that with a very
few exceptions the Scoto-Roman remains have been brought to light on
the line of the Antonine Wall. A very remarkable altar was found at
Inveresk, near Edinburgh, so early as 1565, dedicated APOLLINI GRANNO,
by Quintus Lusius Sabinianus, proconsul of Augustus, which possesses a
singular interest to us from the fact that it attracted the special
notice of Queen Mary of Scotland. In her treasurer's accounts appears
the charge of twelve pence paid "to ane boy passand of Edinburgh with
ane charge of the Queenis Grace, direct to the Baillies of Mussilburgh,
charging thame to tak diligent heid and attendance that the monument
of grit antiquitie, new fundin, be nocht demolisit nor broken down;"
an evidence of archæological taste and reverence for _monuments of
idolatry_, which probably did not in any degree tend to raise the queen
in the estimation of the bailies of the burgh. The same ancient relic
became an object of interest to Randolph and Cecil, the ambassador and
minister of Queen Elizabeth,[409] and afterwards furnished Napier of
Merchiston with an illustration of the idols of pagan Rome when writing
his Commentary on the Apocalypse. This remarkable monument of the Roman
colonists of Inveresk must have been preserved for some generations,
as Sir Robert Sibbald mentions having seen it.[410] He died about the
year 1712, and the Itinerarium Septentrionale of Gordon, in which no
notice of it occurs, was published only fourteen years later. The
remains of Roman villas with their hypocausti, flue-tiles, pottery,
and other traces of Italian luxury, have been found at various times
in the same neighbourhood, leaving no room to doubt that an important
Roman town was once located on the spot. A few miles to the west,
along the coast of the Forth, the little fishing village of Cramond is
believed to occupy the site of the chief Roman sea-port on the east
of Scotland. There also altars, inscribed tablets, coins, and other
relics, attest the importance of the ancient _Alaterva_. Newstead, near
the Eildons, has also furnished one altar, and Birrens, the old _Blatum
Bulgium_, several inscriptions and sculptures. But even these are
nearly all military relics, chiefly of the first and second Tungrian
cohorts; and if to them are added some few fragments of sculpture and
pottery, and examples of bronze culinary vessels, we have a summary
of nearly the whole Roman remains found in Scotland, apart from the
stations on the wall of Antoninus, and the celebrated Arthur's Oon,
the supposed _Templum Termini_, of which so much has been written to
so little purpose. The earliest writer who notices this remarkable
architectural relic is Nennius, abbot of Bangor, as is believed, in the
early years of the seventh century. His own era, however, is matter of
dispute, and his account sufficiently confused and contradictory. Its
masonry appears to have differed entirely from any authentic remains
of Roman building found in Scotland, and, indeed, to have had no
very close parallel anywhere; though its form very closely coincided
with the round or bee-hive houses of Ireland, and its masonry was not
greatly dissimilar to that of the Scottish round towers of the same
builders, by whom it was more probably erected. The total absence of
cement must at least be sufficient with most English antiquaries, to
throw no little doubt on its Roman origin. The modern archæologist may
be pardoned if he smile at the enthusiasm of elder antiquaries, who
discovered in this little sacellum, or stone bee-hive, of twenty-eight
feet in diameter and twenty-two feet in height, a fac-simile of "the
famous Pantheon at Rome, before the noble portico was added to it by
Marcus Agrippa," to which Gordon--the ever-memorable Sandy Gordon of
the Antiquary--resolved not to be outdone by Dr. Stukely, adds, "The
Pantheon, however, being only built of brick, whereas Arthur's Oven
is made of regular courses of hewn stone!" Sir John Clerk, writing
to Mr. Gale, shortly after the destruction of the Oon, remarks,--"In
pulling these stones asunder, it appeared there had never been any
cement between them, though there is limestone and coal in abundance
very near it. Another thing very remarkable is, that each stone had
a hole in it which appeared to have been made for the better raising
them to a height by a kind of forceps of iron, and bringing them so
much the easier to their several beds and courses."[411] These facts
we owe to the barbarian cupidity of Sir Michael Bruce, on whose estate
of Stonehouse this remarkable and indeed unique relic stood. The same
zealous Scottish antiquary, quoted above, writing from Edinburgh to his
English correspondent in June 1743, remarks with quaint severity,--"He
has pulled it down, and made use of all the stones for a mill-dam, and
yet without any intention of preserving his fame to posterity, as the
destroyer of the Temple of Diana had. No other motive had this Gothic
knight but to procure as many stones as he could have purchased in his
own quarries for five shillings!... We all curse him with bell, book,
and candle,"--an excommunicatory service not yet fallen wholly into
disuse. Of this unique architectural relic sufficiently minute drawings
and descriptions have been preserved to render it no difficult matter
to reconstruct, in fancy, its miniature cupola and concentric courses
of stone; but it still remains an archæological enigma, which the magic
term _Roman_ seems by no means satisfactorily to solve.

The course of Antoninus's rampart and military road lay through a part
of the country since repeatedly selected by later engineers from its
presenting the same facilities which first attracted the experienced
eye of Agricola, and afterwards of Lollius Urbicus, as the most
suitable ground for the chief Roman work in Scotland. Gordon, it is
understood, acquired his chief knowledge of the Roman remains of this
district while examining the ground with a view to the formation of a
projected Forth and Clyde Canal.[412] General Roy again surveyed the
same ground, through which at length the Canal, and still more recently
the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway, have been carried; in each case
leading to interesting discoveries of Roman remains.

The most remarkable of these disclosures took place at Auchindavy
during the construction of the Forth and Clyde Canal, when a pit was
discovered within the area of the Roman fort, containing five altars, a
mutilated statue, and two ponderous iron hammers. Four of the altars,
and probably the fifth, had been erected by one individual, M. Cocceius
Firmus, a centurion in the Second Legion, Augusta. Their position, thus
hastily thrown together and covered up on the spot where they were
destined to lie undiscovered for so many centuries, seems to tell,
in no unmistakable language, of the precipitate retreat of the Roman
garrison from the fort of Auchindavy, which had been committed to the
charge of the devout centurion who was thus compelled to abandon his
desecrated aræ. All these, as well as most of the other relics found
from time to time along the line of the Roman wall, have been deposited
in the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow. They mark most emphatically the
dawn of a totally new era in Scottish archæology. Definite historic
annals henceforth come to the aid of induction. Dates take the place
of periods, and individuals that of races. Unhappily also, with the
definiteness of written records, we come in contact with doubts far
more difficult to solve than many of those which have to be unravelled
from the unwritten primeval records, since it is no longer the accuracy
of the induction, but the veracity of the annalist, that has most
anxiously to be looked to. Such, however, is not the case with the
inscribed evidences of the presence of the Roman legions.

Fortunately for the Scottish antiquary the builders of the Caledonian
Wall appear to have taken a peculiar and unprecedented pleasure in
recording their share in this great work, actuated thereto, in part
perhaps, by the reverence with which the name of Titus Antoninus
was regarded alike by Roman soldiers and citizens. These legionary
inscriptions, peculiar to the Scottish wall, indicating the several
portions of it erected by the different legions and cohorts, are most
frequently dedications of the fruit of their labours to the Emperor,
Father of his Country. They are objects of just interest and historical
value, supplying definite records of the legions by whom the country
was held during the brief period of Roman occupation, and meting out
to the modern investigator a measure of information more suited to his
desires than he could hope to recover of so remote and poor a province
of the Roman empire, from the notices of any contemporary author.

Only one of all the Roman historians, Julius Capitolinus, the
biographer of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, makes any allusion to the
erection of the Caledonian Wall; and on his sole authority, for fully
fourteen centuries, rested the statement that the imperial legate,
Lollius Urbicus, reared the vallum which still in its ruins perpetuates
the name of the Emperor, and preserves, as a visible link between the
present and the past, the northern limit of the Roman world. The very
site of the several British walls was accordingly matter of dispute,
when fortunately, towards the close of the seventeenth century, a rude
and very imperfect fragment of an inscribed tablet was discovered at
or near the fort of Bemulie,[413] which in point of historical value
surpasses any Roman relic yet found in Scotland. The inscription is
such a mutilated fragment that the farmer might have turned it up
with his plough and flung it from the furrow, or the mason broken
it up to build into his fence, without either of them dreaming that
it differed in value from any other stone, though its few roughly
inscribed letters supply a fact indispensable to the integrity of
Scottish history. Gordon pronounces it "the most invaluable jewel of
antiquity that ever was found in the island of Britain since the time
of the Romans." It is the fragment of a votive tablet, so imperfect
that it is doubtful whether it be a dedication by the Second Legion
in honour of the Imperial Legate, or by the latter in honour of the
Emperor. It contains, however, the names of both, and establishes the
only essential fact, that the wall between the Forth and the Clyde is
the work referred to by Julius Capitolinus. The stone, which now forms
one of the treasures of the Hunterian Museum, measures seventeen by ten
inches, and bears the abbreviated and mutilated inscription:--

                          P · LEG · II · A ·
                            Q · LOLLIO · VR
                          LEG · AVG · PR · PR

No great error can be committed in thus extending it as a votive
tablet in honour of the Legate, rather than of the Emperor: POSUIT
The ordinary legionary inscriptions include the name and distinctive
titles of the legion, cohort, or vexillation, by whom the number of
paces of the wall recorded on them have been erected; and dedicate
the work in honour of the emperor. The larger tablets are generally
adorned with sculptured decorations, and frequently bear the device of
the legion; that of the Twentieth Legion being the Boar; and probably
that of the Second Legion, surnamed Augusta, the Sea-Goat. One singular
sculptured legionary tablet, however, found at Castlehill, the site of
the third station on the wall, seems to leave little room for doubt
that this fanciful hybrid of the goat and seal was also employed as
the emblematical symbol of Caledonia, and may have been adopted by
the Second Legion to commemorate their victories over the hardy race
whom it not inaptly symbolized. It is a tablet recording with less
abbreviation than usual the completion of 4666 paces of the wall by the
Second Legion, Augusta:

                      IMP · CAES · TITO · AELIO ·
                         HADRIANO · ANTONINO ·
                     AVG · PIO · P · P · LEG · II
                     AVG · PER · M · P · IIII · DC
                               LXVI · S

On one side of this inscription appears a literal representation of
imperial triumph:--captives stripped and bound, above them a mounted
Roman armed and in full career, and over all a female figure, supposed
to bear a wreath emblematic of Victory. On the other side is the Roman
eagle perched on the prostrate sea-goat, the manifest counterpart of
the literal exhibition of the conquered Caledonians. The origin of
the singular emblem, however, is still open to question. It may be
doubted if it was a Roman emblematic device, though familiar to them
as the most usual form of Capricornus, for the imperial conquerors
more generally adopted the most characteristic literal representations
of the vanquished. It occurs on a rare coin figured by Gough, and now
ascribed to Comius, about B.C. 45; but it may also be seen as the
zodiacal sign, on a very remarkable calendar cut in marble, which was
found in a ruined villa of Pompeii.


The Roman fort at Castlehill, where the above tablet was dug up, was
one of the inferior class; its small dimensions arising, in part at
least, perhaps, from the natural advantages of its position. The
discoveries on its site, however, are possessed of greater interest
than those yet known belonging to some of the largest stations on
the wall. In the year 1826, a votive altar was brought to light on
the same locality, dedicated, as Mr. Stuart renders it,[414] to the
Eternal Field-Deities of Britain--CAMPESTRIBUS ET BRITANNI--by Quintus
Pisentius Justus, prefect of the fourth cohort of Gaulish auxiliaries;
a cohort which we learn from another altar discovered in Cumberland was
afterwards stationed on the wall of Severus.

There are altogether in the Hunterian Museum six altars, twelve
legionary inscriptions, and several centurial stones, all found along
the line of the Caledonian Wall, besides a few more of each known to be
in private hands. But nearly the whole of these have been so frequently
described and engraved, that it would be superfluous to repeat their
inscriptions here. One interesting discovery, however, made at
Castlehill, since the publication of the Caledonia Romana, deserves
to be noted. It was found during the spring of 1847, by the plough
striking against it, where it lay imbedded in the soil with its edge
upward, as if it had been purposely buried at some former period, in
the shady ravine called the Peel Glen: a dark and eerie recess, where
the _Campestres Æterni Britanniæ_, the fairies of Scottish folk-lore,
have not yet entirely ceased to claim the haunt accorded to them by
immemorial popular belief. The Roman relic discovered here is a square
slab, considerably injured at the one end, but with the inscription
fortunately so slightly mutilated that little difficulty can be felt
in supplying the blank. The stone measures two feet six inches in
greatest length, and two feet four inches in breadth. A cable-pattern
border surrounds it, within which is the inscription.

[Illustration: Roman tablet, Castlehill.]

This sculptured tablet is nearly the exact counterpart of another
legionary inscription found about one hundred and fifty years since in
the neighbourhood of Duntocher. In the latter the number of paces is
defaced in the inscription, and unfortunately the duplicate recently
discovered, which should have supplied the deficiency, is also
mutilated, the break passing through where probably the additional
mark of the fourth thousand originally stood. Both Horsley and Stuart
guessed from the smallness of the space left for the figures in the
former, that it must have been a round number, either III. or IIII.
This argument is equally conclusive in regard to the inscription
recently found, and little doubt can be entertained that the reading
should be four thousand paces. It will doubtless appear to most men
of this nineteenth century a matter of sufficient indifference, now
that the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway occupies the line of the Roman
vallum, whether the vexillation of the Twentieth Legion dedicated three
or four thousand paces of their long obliterated wall to the Emperor
whose name it bore. This tablet, however, establishes an additional
fact suggested by some previous discoveries, that the legionaries
were wont to erect these stones in pairs at the beginning and the end
of their labours, thereby the more distinctly defining the extent of
the work dedicated by them to the favourite emperor. The inscriptions
heretofore found at the Castlehill Station, furnish no evidence of the
presence of the Twentieth Legion as the garrison of that fort. At one
time it appears to have been held by a detachment of the Second Legion,
Augusta--the sculptors of the curious emblematic relievo of Caledonian
defeat; and at another by the fourth cohort of Gaulish auxiliaries,
as we learn from the votive altar of their prefect. The former were
doubtless the contemporaries of the Twentieth Legion who, located at
Duntocher, reared there the Roman fort, and constructed the vallum
eastward till it joined the work of the Second Legion at Castlehill.
This is confirmed by the diversity of the sculpture on the two slabs.
Underneath each inscription is the wild boar, the symbol almost
invariably figured on the works of the Twentieth Legion. They are
disposed, however, in opposite directions, so that when the slabs were
placed on the southern or Roman side of the wall, where they would be
seen from the adjacent military road, the boars of the twin legionary
stones would be facing each other.[415] Still more recent agricultural
operations on the Castlehill farm have brought to light during the
autumn of the present year, 1850, extensive indications of the remains
of buildings in the immediate vicinity of the Peel Glen, where the
tablet of the Twentieth Legion was discovered. The most remarkable
feature hitherto exposed by these later operations is the singularly
sculptured base of a column figured here; but these chance discoveries
leave little room to doubt that a systematic trenching of the area of
the fort would amply repay the antiquary for his labour.


Thus minute and circumstantial is the information still recoverable
at this distance of time regarding the Roman colonists of Britain.
Every century yields up some further additional records, and were we
in possession of all the inscriptions graven on votive altars or set
up on tablets and centurial stones, we would possess more ample and
authentic elements for the history of the Roman occupation of Scotland
than all that classic historians supply. Sufficient, however, has been
preserved to furnish a very remarkable contrast between the relics of
the Roman invasion and every other class of the archæological records
of primitive Scottish history.

The whole of the legionary inscriptions and nearly all the altars and
other remarkable Roman remains found on the line of the ancient vallum,
have been discovered at its western end. No railway or other great
public work has traversed its eastern course. The sites of its forts
are uncertain or altogether unknown, and its famous _Benval_ is not yet
so entirely settled as to preclude all controversy, should antiquaries
think the theme worthy of further contest. From time to time some new
discovery adds to our materials for the history of the Roman occupation
of Scotland, and many records of the builders of the ineffectual
rampart of Antoninus probably still lie imbedded beneath its ruined
course. It is more important for our present purpose to observe that
the discoveries which have been made on some single Anglo-Roman sites
greatly exceed all that has ever been brought to light in Scotland
truly traceable to the Roman occupancy. No archæological relics can
surpass in interest or value the legionary inscriptions peculiar to our
Scottish wall, so precise and definitely minute in the information they
have hoarded for behoof of later ages. But they are purely military
records, the monuments, in reality, of Roman defeat; while of the
evidences of Roman colonization and the introduction of their arts and
social habits, it is far short of the truth to say, that more numerous
and valuable Anglo-Roman antiquities have been brought to light within
the last few years at York, Colchester, or Cirencester, than all the
Roman remains brought together from every public and private museum of
Scotland could equal.

    "How profitless the relics that we cull,
    Troubling the last holds of ambitious Rome,
    Unless they chasten fancies that presume
    Too high, or idle agitations lull!
    . . . . . . . Our wishes what are they?
    Our fond regrets tenacious in their grasp?
    The sage's theory? the poet's lay?--
    Mere fibulæ, without a robe to clasp;
    Obsolete lamps, whose light no time recalls;
    Urns without ashes, tearless lachrymals!"[416]

It is of importance to our future progress that this should be
thoroughly understood. English archæologists, we may be permitted
to think, have devoted their attention somewhat too exclusively to
the remains of a period on which information was less needed than
on most other sections of archæological inquiry. Still the field of
Anglo-Roman antiquities is an ample one, and therefore well-merited to
be explored. But when Scottish archæologists, following their example,
fall to discussing the weary battle of Mons Grampius--the site of
Agricola's Victoria, founded at Abernethy, or elsewhere--and the like
threadbare questions, they are but thrashing straw from which the very
chaff has long since been gleaned to the last husk, and can only bring
well-deserved ridicule on their pursuits.

In the present brief glance at the indications of Roman occupation
of Scotland little more is needed for fulfilling the plan of the
work than to note a few of the most interesting Scoto-Roman relics,
including such as have either been discovered since the publication of
the "Caledonia Romana," or have escaped the notice of its industrious
and observant author. It is surprising, however, that under the
latter class has to be mentioned the most beautiful specimen of Roman
sculpture existing in Scotland. In the front of an old house in the
Nether-Bow of Edinburgh there have stood, since the early part of
last century--and how much longer it is now vain to inquire--two fine
profile heads in high relief, the size of life, which, from the close
resemblance traceable to those on the coins of Severus, there can be
no hesitation in pronouncing to be designed as representations of
the Emperor Septimius Severus and his Empress Julia. They were first
noticed by Gordon in 1727, and are described by Maitland about twenty
years later, in a sufficiently confused manner, but with the additional
local tradition that they had formerly occupied the wall of a house on
the opposite side of the street. A medieval inscription, corresponding
in reading as well as in the probable date of its characters, to the
Mentz Bible, printed about the year 1455, has been intercalated between
the heads of the emperor and empress, and seems, as it were, to furnish
an earlier witness from the fifteenth century, to say that the Roman
sculpture is still _in situ_.

It admits of serious doubt whether the discovery at Copenhagen, in the
last century, of the work of Richard of Cirencester ought to be viewed
as any great benefit conferred on British archæology. The compilation
of a monk of the fourteenth century, even as supplementary to the
geographical details of Ptolemy, can hardly be received with too
great caution, but used as it has been almost entirely to supersede
the elder authority, it has in many instances, and especially in
relation to our northern Roman geography, proved a source of endless
confusion and error. Without, however, aiming at reconstructing the
Ptolemaic map of Caledonia, we have abundant evidence that various
important Coloniæ were established, which have received no notice,
either in Ptolemy's geography or the "De Situ Britanniæ" of the monk
of Westminster, whom antiquaries may be pardoned suspecting to have
assumed the cowl for the purpose of disguise, being in truth a monk
not of the fourteenth but of the eighteenth century.[417] Attracted by
the supposed correspondence of the triple heights of the Eildon Hills
to the designation of Ptolemy's _Trimontium_, General Roy sought in
their neighbourhood for the evidences of a Roman station, and though
less successful than he desired, he found sufficient indications of
the convergence of the great military roads towards this point, to
induce him to conclude "that the ancient Trimontium of the Romans was
situated somewhere near these three remarkable hills, at the village
of Eildon, Old Melros, or perhaps about Newstead, where the Watling
Street hath passed the Tweed."[418] Though the propriety of assuming
this as the site of Trimontium is questioned, the sagacious conclusions
as to a Roman site detected by the practical eye of General Roy, have
since been amply confirmed by the discovery of undoubted traces of a
Roman town at the base of the Eildon Hills. Stuart has engraved an
altar dedicated to the forest deity Silvanus, by Carrius Domitianus, a
centurion of the Twentieth Legion, which he describes as "a few years
since discovered, not far from the village of Eildon."[419] As this
discovery is of considerable value as a clue to the true site of this
central Roman town within the province of Valentia, it is worthy of
note that it was found on the 15th of January 1830, in digging a drain,
about three feet below the surface, in a field called the Red Abbey
Stead, near Newstead, a village to the north of Eildon, and directly
east of Melrose.

More recently the Hawick Railway has been carried through the vale
of Melrose, and in its progress has added further evidence of the
presence of the Roman colonists on the site, while the ordinary
course of agricultural operations has exposed numerous foundations
of buildings, Roman medals and coins, and a regular causewayed road,
undoubtedly the ancient Watling Street. This road was laid bare only
a year or two before, in the progress of draining a field called the
"Well Meadow," immediately to the west of the Red Abbey Stead. It was
about twenty feet broad, and was entirely excavated by the tenant,
in order to employ its materials for constructing a neighbouring
fence. In the course of removing it the foundations of various houses
were exposed, and a sculptured stone was discovered, considerably
mutilated, but still bearing on it, in high relief, the wild boar,
the well-known device of the Twentieth Legion. As this corresponds
with the inscription on the altar previously discovered, there can
be little question that the roadway and other military works of this
important station, were executed by the same legion. Another sculptured
portion of an inscribed tablet, found in the same field, evidently of
Roman workmanship, retains only the fragmentary letters CVI. Among the
numerous foundations of ancient buildings much Roman pottery has been
dug up, including the fine red Samian ware, the black, and the coarser
yellowish or grey fragments of mortaria and other common domestic
utensils. It is not improbable, indeed, that the name of Red Abbey
Stead has been conferred on the site of the Roman colonia, owing to the
colour of the soil and the characteristics of the remains of ancient
building so frequently exposed, arising from the presence of numerous
fragments of Roman brick and pottery. By the same means the course of
the Antonine Wall may frequently be traced in the new ploughed fields
on its site, where all other indications have disappeared. There is no
evidence of any abbey having ever existed on the site; but surrounded
as the district is with Newstead and New and Old Melrose, the seats
of ancient ecclesiastical establishments, the discovery of the brick
foundations of extensive buildings would very naturally suggest the
local name of the Red Abbey. It was in the immediate neighbourhood of
this Roman site that one of those curious subterranean structures was
discovered, which has been referred to in an earlier chapter.[420]


Towards the close of 1846, during the excavations for the Hawick branch
of the North British Railway, several circular pits or shafts were laid
open a little to the east of the village of Newstead, and nearly on
the line of the Roman road, an additional portion of which was exposed
by the railway-cutting. Two of these shafts were regularly built round
the sides with stones, apparently gathered from the bed of the river,
and measured each two feet six inches in diameter, and about twenty
feet deep. The others greatly varied both in width and depth, and were
filled with a black fetid matter, mixed with earth, and containing
numerous fragments of pottery, oyster shells, antlers of the red deer,
and bones and skulls of cattle, apparently the _Bos Longifrons_:
the skulls being broken on the frontal bone as if with the blow of a
pole-axe, or possibly of the sacrificial securis. A piece of a skull
discovered in the same place seems to have been that of a small-sized
horse. In one of the pits the skeleton of a man was found standing
erect with a spear beside him, and accompanied with mortaria and other
undoubted remains of Roman pottery. The spear-head, which measures
fourteen inches in length, and only one and a quarter in greatest
breadth of blade, is figured here. The skull has been already described
and compared with the crania of the Scottish tumuli in a previous
chapter;[421] and the weapon represented here, as well as various
mortaria, urns, coins, and other relics from the same locality, are now
in the possession of John Miller, Esq., C.E., under whose direction
the railway was constructed. A bronze kettle, lachrymatories, bricks,
clay tubes, stones cut with the cable-pattern and the like familiar
classic mouldings, and numerous other Roman remains, all attest the
important character of the Roman town on this site. Coins from the same
locality are also in the possession of Thomas Tod, Esq., of Drygrange,
and Dr. J. A. Smith. In so far as these are to be received in evidence
of the length of time during which the Eildon station was occupied,
they extend over a longer period than we have any reason to believe
the Roman colonists possessed the province of Valentia; including
those of Vespasian, Domitian, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Severus,
as well as of Diocletian, Maximianus, Carausius, Constantius Chlorus,
and Constantine. It is to be borne in remembrance, however, that among
the Britons of that early period a coin was money whose ever image or
superscription it bore, and doubtless the Roman mintage continued to
circulate long after the last of the military colonists had abandoned
the province of Valentia.

Directly to the north, on the line of the road discovered in the Well
Meadow, there existed, in the memory of some few village patriarchs,
the foundations of a bridge on the banks of the Tweed, which also
may be assumed as the work of the Twentieth Legion. It appears to
have attracted the notice of General Roy, as he speaks of the Watling
Street having crossed the Tweed about Newstead. Continuing our course
northward along this ascertained Roman route, we are once more left to
the guidance of the recent interpreters of Ptolemy and the believers
in Richard of Cirencester, though it is possible with the aid both of
new and old evidence to fix another portion of the route which has
heretofore been misplaced. The assigned old Roman Iter proceeds from
Eildon to the supposed _Curio_ or _Curia_, near Borthwick--a site
still requiring confirmation--and thence directly to the Roman port of
Cramond or Alaterva.

[Illustration: Bronze Lamp found at Currie.]

The southern shores of the _Bodotria Æstuarium_, or Frith of Forth,
bear more abundant traces than almost any other Scottish district of
continuous occupation by Roman colonists; doubtless owing, in part
at least, to the frequent presence of the fleet in the neighbouring
estuary. If Alaterva, to whose Deæ Matres one of its altars was
dedicated, be indeed the ancient name of Cramond, no such epithet is to
be found in the old itineraries, nor has a classic name been suggested
for the no less important Roman town at Inveresk; unless that one
zealous local antiquary[422] has recently conceived the possibility
of establishing its claims to be the true Curia, hitherto located
elsewhere on very slender and inconclusive evidence.

Following the course of the assigned Roman route from the supposed
_Curia_ at Currie, near Borthwick, it is carried by Roy, in his revised
map, by a westerly sweep towards Cramond, leaving the rocky heights of
Edinburgh some two miles to the east of it, and joining Inveresk, in
the maps of Chalmers and Stuart, by imaginary crossroads, sufficiently
satisfactory on paper. A totally different arrangement may, however,
be shewn to have been followed in laying down the Roman military roads
of this district. Earlier writers were not so ready to exclude the
Scottish capital from Roman honours: _e.g._,--"The town of Eaden," says
Camden, "commonly called Edenborow, the same undoubtedly with Ptolemy's
Στρατοπεδον Πτερωτον, _i.e._, Castrum Alatum."[423] Sir Robert Sibbald
was one of the first of our Scottish authors to place a Roman colonia
at Edinburgh, but without advancing any satisfactory grounds for such
a conclusion.[424] "Some," says he, "think Edinburgh the _Caer-Eden_
mentioned in the ancient authors." Others, equally bent on maintaining
the honour of the Scottish metropolis, found in it the Alauna of
Ptolemy, and in the neighbouring Water of Leith the Alauna Fluvius--a
discovery perhaps not unworthy to match with that of Richie Moniplies
when he sneered down the Thames with ineffable contempt in comparison
with the same favourite stream! Such arguments, like those for too
many other Romano-Scottish sites, were mere theories, unsupported by
evidence, and little more can be advanced in favour of the supposed
_Castrum Alatum_.[425] Later writers on the Roman antiquities of
Scotland have accordingly excluded Edinburgh from the list of classic
localities. There are not wanting, however, satisfactory traces of
Roman remains on the site of the Scottish capital, a due attention to
which may help to furnish materials for a revised map of the Roman Iter.

There passes across the most ancient districts of Edinburgh, and
skirting the line of its oldest fortifications, a road leading
through the Pleasance,--so called from an old convent once dedicated
to S. Maria de Placentia,--St. Mary's Wynd,--another conventual
memorial,--Leith Wynd, St. Ninian's Row, Broughton, and Canonmills,
right onward in the direction of the ancient port of Alaterva. Probably
more than fourteen hundred years have elapsed since Curia and Alaterva
were finally abandoned by their Roman occupants, and the dwellings of
the Eildon colony were left to crumble into ruins; yet the traces of
the Romans' footsteps have not been so utterly obliterated but that
we can still recover them along the line of this old road, so deeply
imprinted with the tread of later generations.

In the year 1782 a coin of the Emperor Vespasian was found in a garden
in the Pleasance, and presented by Dr. John Aitken to the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland,--the first recent recovery, so far as is
known, of any indications of the Roman presence on the highway which
it is now sought to retrace to a Roman origin. Much more conclusive
evidence has, however, since been brought to light. In digging in
St. Ninian's Row, on the west side of the Calton Hill, in 1815, for
the foundations of the Regent Bridge, a quantity of fine red Samian
ware, of the usual embossed character, was discovered. It was secured
by Thomas Sivright, Esq. of Southhouse, and remained in his valuable
collection of antiquities till the whole was sold and dispersed after
his death.[426] In 1822, when enlarging the drain by which the old
bed of the North Loch, at the base of Edinburgh Castle, is kept dry,
portions of an ancient causeway were discovered fully four feet below
the modern level of the road. Some evidence of its antiquity was
furnished on the demolition, in 1845, of the Trinity Hospital, formerly
part of the prebendal buildings of the collegiate foundation of Queen
Mary of Gueldres, founded in 1462, when it was discovered that the
foundations rested on part of the same ancient causeway;[427] and
on the demolition of the venerable collegiate church an opportunity
was afforded me of examining another portion of it above which the
apsis of the choir and part of the north aisle had been founded. The
conclusion which its appearance and construction immediately suggested,
was that which further investigation so strongly confirms, that these
various remains indicate the course of a Roman road. It was composed
of irregular rounded stones, closely rammed together, and below them
was a firm bed of forced soil coloured with fragments of brick, bearing
a very close resemblance to the more southern portions of the same
Roman military way recently exposed to view in the vale of Melrose.
The portions of it discovered in 1822 included a branch extending a
considerable way eastward along the North Back of Canongate, in a
direct line towards the well-known Roman road in the neighbourhood
of Edinburgh, popularly styled "The Fishwives' Causeway."[428] Here,
therefore, we recover the traces of the Roman way in its course from
Eildon to Alaterva, with a diverging road to the important town and
harbour at Inveresk, shewing beyond doubt that Edinburgh had formed
an intermediate link between these several Roman sites. The direction
of the road, as still visible in the neighbourhood of Cramond in the
early part of the eighteenth century, completely coincided with the
additional portion of it thus recovered. "From this same station of
Cramond," says Gordon, "runs a noble military way towards _Castrum
Alatum_, or Edinburgh; but as it comes near that city, it is wholly
levelled and lost among the ploughed lands."[429]

Within a few yards of the point where this ancient Roman road crosses
the brow of the hill on which the ancient Scottish capital is built,
are the beautiful bas-reliefs above referred to, the heads of the
Emperor SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS and his wife JULIA. I have already suggested
elsewhere[430] that these sculptures, which in Maitland's time, 1750,
were said to have been removed from a house on the opposite side of
the street, have probably been discovered in digging the foundations
of that building. This idea has received striking confirmation during
the present year, (1850.) In the progress of laying a new and larger
set of pipes for conveying water to the palace of Holyrood, the whole
line of the High Street has been opened up, the workmen in many places
digging into natural soil, and even through the solid rock. In the
immediate neighbourhood of the site of the old "Heart of Mid-Lothian,"
several coins were found, including one of Henry IV. of France, bearing
the date 1596; and lower down the street, two silver denarii of the
Emperor Septimius Severus were discovered, in good preservation, not
many feet from the locality of the Roman sculptures. The reverse of the
one represents a soldier armed, and bearing the figure of victory in
his right hand--legend, AVGG · VICT., and of the other a female figure
in flowing drapery, bearing in the right hand a wreath, and in the left
a cornucopia--the legend illegible. The prejudices of a strong local
partiality induce me to look upon these traces of Roman presence on a
spot which formed the battle-ground of Scotland during the "Douglas
Wars," as well as in older struggles, with an interest which I cannot
hope to communicate to archæologists in general, but which to many of
them may perhaps seem a pardonable excess. The visit of the Emperor
Septimius Severus, and still more, of his Empress,[431] to this
distant corner of the Roman world, were incidents of a sufficiently
unusual occurrence to be commemorated by those who have left records of
every few thousand paces of an earthen vallum which they erected. If
we suppose the road which has been traced out in continuation of the
Watling Street to have been the route by which the Emperor journeyed
northward--as there is good probability that it must have been--we may
imagine him pausing on the brow of the hill, just above the steep slope
occupied by Leith Wynd, and catching the first view of the Bodotrian
Frith, with the Roman galleys gliding along its shores, or urged with
sail and oar towards the busy sea-port of Alaterva, now the humble
fishing village of Cramond. On this spot it seems probable that some
important memorial of this distinguished Emperor's visit had been
erected, of which the beautiful sculptures still remaining there formed
a prominent feature. Overthrown amid the wreck of Roman empire, they
may have lain interred for many centuries; for within a very short
distance of their present site, recent discoveries have brought to
light medieval sculptures and remains of buildings many feet below the
foundations of those of the sixteenth century.[432]

These, however, are not the sole evidences of the occupation of
Edinburgh by the Romans. In the Reliquiæ Galeanæ, of date March
1742, Sir John Clerk thus describes "a Roman arch discovered at
Edinborough,"--"Just about the time that your structure at York was
pulled down, we had one at Edinborough which met with the same fate.
It was an old arch that nobody ever imagined to be Roman, and yet it
seems it was, by an urn discovered in it, with a good many silver
coins, all of them common, except one of Faustina Minor, which I
had not. It represents her bust on one side, and on the reverse a