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Loch Etive and The Sons of Uisnach
Chapter XI - The Beregonium Theory


Willie.—I do not feel quite sure that you have done justice to Boece. I don't know much about him, but I told you what he said of Dunstaffnage, and now I will read you some extracts about Beregonium. They are taken from Hollinshed, but I have also looked at the original and observed differences.

1st. "Fergus was no sooner come into Albion than that, in a Parliament called and assembled in Argile for the purpose, they first consulted after what sort they might maintain themselves against their enemies."

After uniting with the Picts, they fought against the British King Coil at Doon, in Ayr, then "departed to their homes, and Fergus returned to Argile."

Here it is said the places took the names of their first governors; here also Fergus made laws for the maintenance of common quiet amongst them. "He built also the castle of Beregonium, in Loughquabre, on the west side of Albion over against the Western Isles, where he appointed a court to be kept for the administration of justice, that both the Albion Scots and also those of the same isles might have their access and resort thither for redress of wrongs and ending of all controversies."

After that came Feritharis, then Mainus, thirdly Doruadille, "who in the twenty-eighth year of his reign departed this world at Beregonium."

In the time of Reuther, Doualus, governor of Brigantia, who had set Doualus up, was routed by Ferquhard, son-in-law of Nothatus, "governor of Lorne and Cantire" (or gentis novantia princeps), "they encountered with Doual in battell, whose host, twice in one day, was put to flight near to the citie Beregonium, with the loss of eight thousand men." Brigantia is called Galloway; certainly confusing.

When the Britons rose, they drove the Picts from the Mearns and Lothians, and then passed into the Scottish kingdom, waiting the Scots at Kalender. "This discomfiture put the Scottish nation in such fear and terror, that they utterly despaired of all recovery, where contrariwise the Britons were so advanced in hope utterly to expel all aliens out of their isle, that they pursued the victory in most earnest wise; they forced Reuther and all the nobility of the Scottish nation, that were yet alive, to flee for safeguard of their lives into the castell of Beregonium, where they held themselves as in the surest hold. The Britons being satisfied of the repair of their enemies to Beregonium, environed the castell with a strong and vehement siege, until that the Scots within were constrained for want of vittels to cat each other, according as the lot fell by a common agreement made amongst them."

Reuther then passed to the "iles" and then to Ireland, afterwards returning to Albion by Loch Bruum, gaining a victory at Reuthirdalc. In the end, "Reuther departed this world at Beregonium, in the twenty-sixth year of his reign."

Things then went more quietly, and there are curious episodes about religion and Spanish philosophers and stones set up. We then find that Conanus was made governor in place of a degraded King Thercus; "when the king died, Conanus renounced the administration in presence of all the estates assembled in Parliament at Beregonium, where by common consent Josina, brother of Thereus, was chosen king."

"When Josina had reigned twenty-four years, he departed out of this world at Beregonium, being a man of very great a age "

During Josina's reign, "two men of a venerable aspect, although shipwrecked and almost naked, came to the king at Beregonium, accompanied by some of the islanders." They were said to have been Spanish, and to have been driven out of their way when going to Athens. These people told them not to worship the immortal gods in the shape of beasts and fowls, but putting aside images, to worship the living God with fire and prayers, building a temple without an image ("oportere itaque relictis simulachris viventem coeli Deum igne precariisque verbis, fano ac templo ad id constituto sine forma colere").

Finnanus followed him; after he had reigned long, he went to Camelon, and died when on a visit to "the king of the Picts as then sore diseased." "His bodie was conveyed to Beregonium, and there buried amongst his predecessors."

"Hollinshead" leaves out the ambassadors sent from Egypt to inquire into the condition of Albion, and I suppose he is ashamed of them. Still he mentions that some improvements were taken from the Egyptians.

Durstus was disreputable, and the neighbouring princes interfered; he promised better behaviour, swearing before a statue of Diana, and invited many to a feast. "After they had entered I3eregonium, and the king had received them into the citadel, an armed ambush came upon them." They were all slain. The wives of the murdered persons came to I3eregonium, and aided in raising indignation; after great tumult, Durstus was slain.

Afterwards Ewin, the uncle's son of Durstus, was made king, being brought out of Pictland. He was proposed by Caronus of Argyll, who spoke strongly of the horrors of the last reign at I3eregonium.

Ewin was brought from Pictland "in a kingly dress to Beregonium, amongst the acclamations of the people. The guard at Beregonium first denied him entrance; but when they saw such a crowd round the walls, and themselves unable to resist, they came into the power of Evenus," or Ewin. "Evenus was put on the royal seat on entering l3eregonium, and at his orders the nobles touched his hand and swore sincere obedience. He was the first of the Scottish kings who required this."

We are told that "he built a castle not far from Beregonium in a very stedy place, and called it after himself, Evonium, now commonly called Dunstafage, or Stephan's camp" (a better sounding derivation than the common one, but not therefore truer). He died at Dunstaffnage, and Gillus raised "sundry obelisks" at his grave near that place.

In the time of Gillus, Cadall, the governor of the I3rigantcs (Galloway, in "Hollinshead"), got into his hands without a struggle both Evonium (Dunstaffnage) and Beregonium. The young Edcrus was taken to Epiake, in Galloway. Here we are again curiously brought into contact with the south, and almost doubt our former northern opinions. To choose a king, Cadall came "to the continent to Beregonium." lie had been among the islands. Ewin, the second of that name, married the daughter of Gethus, the king of the Picts, and returned to Evonium with his wife.

We are told that he visited the part of his dominion which the Irish Sea surrounds, and in that journey built Inverlochtie, a place long frequented by merchants from Spain and Gaul. In the "east" he built Inverness.

Who knows but we may some day find a clue to all these names of kings. If we knew the place to be Beregonium, we should certainly find it interesting.

Loudoun.—Thanks for your account, which might have been longer. I called your attention to the chronology when we last spoke of Boece. It seems to make the whole absurd, and I need not prove the errors, as Mr. Skene has put to flight about forty of the kings. After all, we know of no Beregonium before Boece, and whether it is connected with Rerigonium in Galloway or not is not quite proved, but I believe it to be fairly clear. It is quite certain, however, that the Dalriad kings in Argyle were connected with Galloway, and that at one time they held both. This may be the origin of the whole mistake. It might be said that Rerigonium belongs to the Dalriads, as it did, forgetting that for a time the Dalriadic power had two seats, and we can easily imagine a transference of the name of one capital to the other. This supposes, also, that a mistake occurred in writing, and that Rerigonium was meant. There is no reason to doubt that Ptolemy's Rerigonium was gradually corrupted into Ryan.

Buchanan mentions Bergon as a place in the .rest of Scotland, but its relationships I do not know, and if we cannot fully illustrate the mistakes of the past, we can keep to our own subject, being assured that no place here had the fame Boece claims for it, and that no such kings could have reigned in the times chosen by him. We find plenty of bones, but no human ones, in the Dun, and vitrified walls, but no trace of dwellings enough to constitute a great city. We have rather the contrary arguments.

The evidence for I3eregonium breaks down, and the destruction of the civilization follows. It may be left to be swallowed up in the same gulf that Mr. Skene prepared for the kings, and we can all read his book.

NOTE.— Bocce mentions Caronus. It is Coranus in my Hollinshead. Hollinshed is the usual spelling of the latter name.


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