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Robertson’s Historical Proofs on the Highlanders
Chapter I


It has always been held and said by the Gael of Alban, or Scotch Highlanders, that they are the representatives and descend­ants of the Caledonians; that noble race of men, who, with success, defended their country and. maintained their freedom against all the attacks made on them by large Roman armies, under the command of celebrated generals and emperors, and which resulted in the defeat and withdrawing of the invaders.

To this claim the Highlanders of Scotland can have no right whatever unless they are the descendants of the Picts, who were the Caledonians under a new name, equally as at a subsequent period, the Caledonian Picts came to be called Scots. The identity of the Picts and Caledonians will be shown.

With regard to the people called ‘Scots,’ it ought to be remembered that they were the inhabitants of Hibernia, or Ireland—the name first appears towards the end of the fourth century, at and after which period, some stragling bands of Irish Scots came over and fought along with the Caledonian Picts against the Romans, yet we have as clear evidence that they returned to their own country, [Ample proof will be given that Ireland was the country of the Scots—and also called ‘Scotia.’] Ireland, as of their being in Caledonia.

The first permanent settlement of any Scots in present Scotland, cannot be authenticated till the beginning of the sixth century, or nearly if not quite, a hundred years after the Romans had left the country of the Caledonian Picts.

The Highlanders of present Scotland have ever called their native land ‘Alban,’ and them­selves ‘the Gael Albanach,’ and do so to this hour; a concise historical narrative will be given of their ancestors the Caledonians and Picts, from the first century—as mentioned in the pages of Tacitus’ Life of Agricola, and sub­sequent Roman writers; to the beginning of the fifth century—to these follow Gildas [Written in about AD. 550] the most ancient British writer, Adomnan’ Life of Columba, Bede’s History, and Nennius— after this we have those valuable historical authorities ‘The Irish Annals’ for the succeed­ing events—as without these annalists, we should know nothing whatever of our early history, during two or three centuries.

The object, therefore, of this small work is by a short but comprehensive, historical sketch, to show that the Gael of Alban,—or Highlanders of present Scotland, are descended from the Picts, who were identical with the Cale­donians—and the only exception to this is, those who derive from the Irish Scots, or Dalriads, who, as already mentioned, first settled in Argyleshire in the sixth century—~-.but even among this little branch of the Highland clans, the original native Caledonian Gael of Argyle must have somewhat mingled with them, from the very small numbers of the first settlers of this colony from Ireland, and who themselves, it is possible, were also at some very remote period, descended of the same ancestors as the valiant Caledonians.

A most undue antiquity has long been attempted to be given to the settlement of the Scots in present Scotland—it is only to some writers of Irish history, and a few Scotchmen, that we owe the removal of the fables pro­pounded by Fordun, Boece, and Buchanan, who appropriated to Scotland what belonged only to Ireland—for, as was concisely and well stated by the learned Pinkerton, ‘there is no authority for the name of present Scotland till the eleventh century.’

To those three Scotch authors above mentioned, the obscurity of our national history is due—the first named (Fordun) had finished his Chronicle by the year 1400, and Buchanan his History by 1682—through them, the sup­posed conquest of the Gael of Alban by the insignificant colony of Irish Scots in Argyle-shire, has been related and believed; an exami­nation of it will be submitted, as likewise a full and satisfactory refutation, drawn from authentic proofs, and fair deductions therefrom.

In support of the view hero expressed of those fabulous writers, the following is from one of our best modern historical Scotch authors:

‘The true history of the last half of the eighth, and first half of the ninth century, has disappeared from our annals. Upon this basis the fabulous historians reared the superstruc­ture of their history, and through one channel or another it can be traced to St Andrews. Its germs are found in the end of the thirteenth and beginning of the fourteenth centuries. It received its first artistic development from John of Fordun, and the crowning capital was placed upon it by Hector Boece.’ The important event of the introduction of Christianity among the Caledonian Gael, and the true period to be assigned to it, will be plainly stated. With regard to the point who were the first natives of present Scotland, the opinions of two of our historical writers (Innes and Pinkerton) ap­pear correct—namely, that the Cimbri, or Britons, were earliest—though of course very weak in numbers, and scattered along the coasts; whereby they became easily driven out, or absorbed, on the arrival of the far more numerous Alban Gael—and they (the Britons) disappear altogether from every section of pre­sent Scotland, at and after the Roman period, except the south—western parts.

Pinkerton, speaking of them, says that they ‘held Scotland till the Piks came and expelled them.’ It is also, in a similar way, spoken of by an old Scotch writer, called John Mair or Major, who wrote a history of both the English and Scotch people in the year 1512. He rejected some of the fables of Fordun, and in his work (De gestibus Scotorum, lib. ii. cap. 2) says, that ‘The Picts frequently possessed Lothian, and those parts beyond the Scottish Sea (that is the Firth of Forth), and the better and more fertile portion of what was north of it; both because they occupied the island before the Scots, and because, by their number and strength, they were superior to the Scots, which is shown by this, that they (the Picts) occupied territory obtained from the Britons.’

With regard to the period at which the Caledonian Picts first entered present Scotland, and then spread over the whole country, and lastly the islands, the opinion of Pinkerton may be justly considered as by no means too remote, if indeed it is sufficiently so. He says, from the direct authority of Nennius—’ The settlement of the Piks in the Hebud Isles’ (that is, the Western Islands of Scotland), may be dated, with as great certainty as any event in the earliest Greek or Roman history, at 300 years before Christ.’

Therefore, when it is considered that, in the year A.D. 78, the whole of Caledonia was found fully peopled, and their armies number­ing many thousands of men, the inference seems clear, that the earliest settlers of the Gael of Alban must have arrived in the country, at least 500 years before the Christian era.

The language of the Caledonian Picts is a highly interesting point. Proofs, and reasons respecting it, will be fully adduced and sub­mitted, showing, that as there was no conquest of the Picts by the Irish Scots, the former people remained, and of course their language with them; and that it must have been the same as that of the present Highlanders, or Gael of Alban, who are the descendants of the Caledonian Picts.

A short notice of the subjection of the Irish Scots, or Dalriads, by Angus M’Fergus, the King of the Picts, will be given. Also a short sketch of the early origin of the Clans; to those desirous of fuller detail, it will be found in Skene’s Highlanders, and Gregory’s Western Islands.

There will also be given very ancient proofs that everything accounted as national and peculiar to the Gael, or Highlanders of Scot­land, was in no way whatever derived by them from the Irish Scots; but that their national dress, language, poetry, arms, and pipe music, etc., etc., were received from their ancestors, the Caledonian Gael.

Some illustrations and descriptions of their country will be given, which, with a fair consideration of the whole now submitted, it is hoped may interest some.


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