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Robertson’s Historical Proofs on the Highlanders
Preface to the First Edition


THE Highlanders of Scotland are unques­tionably a most interesting race people, the true descendants of the ancient Caledonians; and though their early history has been greatly obscured by some pretended historians, and continues to be so even to this day, where­by readers are misled, yet the true narration of ancient facts respecting them, is independent of all the vain prejudice of those who would represent them, and their language, to be merely derived from the insignificant colony of Irish Scots which came into Argyleshire in the sixth century, where still remain their descendants, properly the only Scots in Scotland. With this in view, the writer submits the present small ‘work, which is not written with a desire merely to contradict others, but to point out and establish the truth, without any intention to depreciate previous writers. This he has endeavoured to do in a charitable spirit, when obliged to notice manifest errors (and for this the writer has always given the, proofs and reasons), or when forced, in maintaining the liberty of opinion, to express decided opposite views to some who have not founded their assertions on proper evidence. The necessary researches on the ancient historical points herein treated of were commenced four years ago, and have been continued ever since, and originally were intended as a continuation of a small work the author wrote on the ancient Earldom of Atholl, which embraces the whole North Highlands of Perthshire. The investigations have led to the present volume, which has no pretensions to anything but a desire to place the true early history of the origin, etc., etc., of his country­men, the Highlanders of Scotland, on an un­deniable trustworthy foundation, supported by proofs and authorities, and to refute the un­founded claims of some grasping Irish writers, as also the false assertions of some Scottish ones.

Much pains has been taken to make the proofs concise upon the subjects brought for­ward, at the same time, to be sufficiently com­prehensive. A careful perusal will best enable the reader to judge on this point; and the ex­planatory notes being read along with the text is essential to the full understanding of what is wished to be known. There has been no attempt made otherwise than to convey to the reader as much strictly accurate, historical, and antiquarian information as possible, and there­by lead to the true understanding of the early history of the descendants of the noble race of the Caledonian Gael. Upon the subject of their language, it is hoped that some of the Highland clergymen, or others, may follow that subject in a similar manner, as the writer has endeavoured to do.

The descriptions of the illustrations of the country of the Gael of Alban will be found in a chapter together, though they are themselves placed in different parts of the work. This collection of proofs from the earliest times may, it is also hoped, prove useful to future writers who wish to go into greater detail, and. That some interest may be felt in the Pictish Gael, who have been by many hitherto looked upon as quite an unknown people, and as the ‘Rev. Isaac Taylor says, ‘disappear mysteriously,’ as also the supposed destruction of their language, the greatest marvel of its kind that ever passed for truth.

The writer had not, the opportunity to notice, in the proper place (on the dress of the Caledonian Gael, the embellishment that ap­pears on the binding. It is the most faithful representation of the ancient Highlanders’ dress that can be given to the reader. It is derived from two different sculptured stones, namely, from that of Dull, Perthshire, which is de­scribed page 232, and it is a facsimile of the countenance, bonnet, and shield of one of the figures thereon. The arrangement of the ‘Breacan—an—fheilidh,’ that is, ‘the belted plaid,’ or full dress of’ the ancient Gael or Highlanders, is a faithful copy from another ancient sculptured stone found at St Andrews. Both these sculptures are to be seen in the Museum of the Antiquaries of Scotland, Edinburgh, open to the public, and wherewith the embel1ishment can be compared. The Map also, it is hoped, along with a most copious index, and very full table of contents, may prove useful to the reader.

The writer also expects hereafter to be enabled to bring out a short Supplement to this small work, containing further ancient historical and antiquarian information, inter­esting not only to the Highlanders, but also to all Scotchmen.

118 PRINCES STREET, EDINBURGH,
5th July 1865


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