The Scottish Gael Chapter II
Britain, the origin of its ancient inhabitants deduced
VARIOUS suppositions have been formed respecting
the period when
BRITAIN first became the residence of human beings. The fact cannot
be ascertained, and it is not important to be known. That this island
remained for many ages unoccupied by mankind, and perhaps undiscov-
ered, while other parts of the world were teeming with population, is a
reasonable belief. Tradition itself seems unable to reach a period so
remote, yet it is alluded to in the works of the Welsh bards.
The Phoenicians, who were celebrated as maritime adventurers, are
supposed to have been the discoverers of Britain, and to have traded
hither in the most early ages. It may not have been impossible for these
people to establish a commercial intercourse with Britain " perhaps a
thousand years before our era,"* but there appears to be no sufficient
proof of the existence of so early a communication; and the Cassiterides,
or Isles of Tin, for which metal they are said to have chiefly resorted,
seem erroneously to be considered the Scillies ofF the Cornish coast.
"No one writer of any Antiquity," says Ritson, "ever mentions that
the Phoenicians traded to Cornwall for Tin." It is maintained, that they
were well acquainted with Britain; but it is also confessed, that subse-
quent Historians and Geographers appear ignorant of this ancient cor-
respondence. Dio says, the early Greeks and Romans did not so much
a^ know there was such an island,"]" and to account for these ineonsis-
* Wbittaker, Pinkerton, &c. M'Phersou and others suppose an earlier
Carte fixes it 450, A. C.
I Aristotle, who flourished 350 years before Christ, speaks of it both as
Brettania. Buclianuan, &c.
tencies, it has been ingeniously conjectured that the trade was given up,
and the way to the island lost for a considerable time.
It has been asserted, that, at the period of this supposed intercourse,
no part of the world produced Tin but the islands of Britain. Pliny
mentions this metal as plentiful in Lusitania and Gallicia. Diodorus at.d
Possidonius say that much tin was found in different parts of Spain; and
Aristotle calls it Celtic, as a distinction from that of India. It was pro-
cured in great quantities from the islands which Pliny describes as lying
in the ocean over against Celtiberia, and which from this production re-
ceived the name Cassiterides. Ptolemy places them under " the situa-
tion of Tarraconia; " and Mela* says the islands, which for abundance
of lead were so called, lay in the parts of the Celtici, a people of Spain.
Strabo also places them opposite to Celtiberia. They appear to have
been the Azores or Western Islands, anciently the Hesperides, a term
descriptive of their geographical situation; for that the Scillies were the
isles of Tin, certainly appears doubtful. These islands are in number
upwards of one hundred and forty, but of the others there are but nine
or ten. The expression of Strabo, who says, in his second book, that
Britain and these islands are without the pillars of Hercules, does not
prove nor imply that they were near to each other.'}" They are, on the
contrary, mentioned as perfectly distinct; J and the opinion of the single
insula Silura of Solinus,^ being the Cassiterides of the ancients, perhaps
originated with Richard of Cirencester, who applies the appellation to
the Scillies. || A recent visitor says he ''could discover no traces of
mines or minerals, whether ancient or modern, in them." IT The historian
of' Cornwall confesses that the ancient workings which he believes he
discovered, were "neither deep, nor many, nor large," and adopts the
supposition of Ortellius, that the Cassiterides must have included Corn-
wall and Devonshire.
Mictis is supposed to be the Isle of Wight, where lead was also pro-
cured; but Pliny informs us, on the authority of TimaBus, that it lay six
days' sail from Britain.** Mictis was not therefore thelctis of Diodorus,
which lay so near to the English coast that it could, at low tide, be ap-
proached by land. Hither, therefore, he says the Britons conveyed
the tin which they dug, from whence it was transported to Gaul.ff
It appears, then, that Herodotus does not call these islands Cassiter-
ides; but it is certain that Britain was known to both Greeks and Ro-
mans, some ages before it became an object of conquest to the latter
people, and it may have been visited by adventurers in much more ancient
timesij J Little, however, can be elicited concerning the earliest histoiy
* Lib. iii. c. 6. t Lib ii. p. 129. t Pliny, Diod. &c. C. 22.
|| He calls them Sygdiles. Borlaso- says the proper name is Sylleh.
II Cambell, in his ed. of Ossian. ** Lib. iv. 16. tt Lib. v 2.
JtThe author of Arjjonautica, who lived, it is believed, in the time of
about 570, A. C. speaks of Britain, or perhaps Ireland, under the name
Plutarch, de defect, orac. the Elysium of the ancients appears to have be?n
in the north-
rn part of the island. Homer says, Ulysses, in his passage to the shades,
ITS DISCOVERY. 41
of European nations, from the dark and mysterious intimations of anti-
quity, the fai'nt light of which is unable to guide us clearly through the
wild dreams and fictions of ignorance, and credulity. If an enterprising
navigator, at some distant period, had caught a sight of Britain or Ire-
land, the Orkneys, or the Shetland isles; the obscure and marvellous re-
citals of poets, and the inexplicable narrations and allegories of theology,
would be conceived to have some allusion to the newly found, or long
lost land; and the ingenuity of succeeding ages, when farther discove-
ries were made, readily applies the ambiguous descriptions of antiquity
to places of which but an imperfect knowledge has been obtained. The
conflicting and indefinite accounts are, consequently, reconciled and ap-
plied, as credulity or caprice may suggest.
The description of that island, which the Hyperborei are said to have
inhabited, can suit no other than Britain. The island lay opposite to
Gaul, and was as large as Sicily. The people used their own proper
language, worshipped in groves and circular temples, played on the
harp, and led the most happy lives. They had a great esteem for the
Greeks, with whom, from the most distant ages, they had maintained a
correspondence arising from certain religious connexions, in consequence
of which, it is said, some of that nation visited this sequestered land,
leaving many presents to the gods, and Greek inscriptions to commem-
orate their mission.*
Pytheas of Massilia, who lived before Aristotle, is said to have first
discovered Britain, and Thule or Thyle, concerning which there is much
uncertainty. This island is represented as some days' sail northwards
from Britain, and should hence appear to be Shetland. | Agricola's fleet,
we are told, saw Thule as they circumnavigated the island. J Mela de-
scribes it as opposite to the Belgian coast, a position in which Richard
of Cirencester agrees, but strangely adds, that it lay beyond the Ork-
neys. Alfred, in his Saxon version of Orosius, says it lay northwest of
Ireland, and was known by few. That island has itself been taken for
Thule, and the term has been applied to the Western Islands of Scot-
land. Some have also contended that the name was given to the northern
parts of that country. ^ That Thule, in any of these situations, could
at Caledonia, to which Tacitus, in Germania, alludes. Pinkerton. Solinus
an altar, inscribed with Greek characters, was to be seen in the north,
this, c. 22. The second Brennus, who led the Gauls into Greece, when Delphos
rifled, is thought by some writers to have been a Briton ; and Lemon, in the
his English etymology, p. xxiii. 5, seriously relates this as the cause of
invasion of this island. Joseph de Gorionides, " de Hannibale," says that
quered the Britons, iii. 15, ap. Higgins, p. SO. But there were nations so
called on the
* Diodorus, who relates this from Hecatseus, a very ancient author, whose
it must be observed, he seems to doubt.
t So d' Anville understands it. Strabo calls it six days' sail from Britain
; Solinus five
days and nights from Orkney. t Vita Agricolas.
Essay concerning the Thule of the ancients, Edinburgh, 1G93
have been "large and copious in continual apples," as Solinus repre-
sents, is incredible. Saxo calls Iceland, Thylen, while Procopius ap-
plies the term Thule to Scandinavia.* Perhaps the name was given to
the land which was believed the farthest towards the north, and trans-
ferred to the islands successively discovered. It has been, indeed,
conjectured that there were formerly some isles between the continent
and Scotland that have been long since lost. The Saxonum Insulae of
Pliny are believed to have disappeared, in consequence of some natural
convulsion, and the fact of Heligoland having been several ages ago re-
duced to half its size, is adduced in support of this hypothesis."]" The
Welsh poems record the formation of Anglesea and many other islands
by a dreadful inundation, and the island Plada, which seems at no dis-
tant period to have been disjoined from Arran, carries in its name a
proof of this disruption. Bladh, is a part, and Bladham, I break.
The singular phenomena produced by the refraction and reflection of
light on fogs arising from the sea, lakes, or morasses, are well known.
Appearances of this kind have deceived experienced navigators, who
confidently believed they saw islands in the distant ocean, and it is by
no means improbable that ancient mariners may have had their senses
so imposed on. The illusion is sometimes so complete that you may
behold, with the most perfect resemblance to nature, picturesque land-
scapes, towns, castles, &.C., and that some such appearance gave rise to
the idea of a happy and fruitful country, the abode of the blessed, can
scarcely be doubted. This "fairy land" was situated in the western
ocean, and was familiar to the inhabitants of these islands, being denom-
inated Flathinis and Hybrasil by the Scots and Irish. J One of these
phenomena was seen, it is said, in the Atlantic, in the ninth century;
and so convinced were seamen of the existence of one or more fertile
and romantic islands, remote from all other land, that they have actually,
it appears, been placed on rnaps.^
Had so singular an appearance been noticed in ancient times, it might,
in some degree, account for the wonderful stories concerning the British
islands, and the confusion respecting the Thule of antiquity.
At what period Britain became inhabited, and from what particular
district of the continent the first colonists arrived, are equally unknown
and open to conjecture. While some writers believe it probable that the
first inhabitants arrived a thousand years before Christ, others suppose
a much earlier migration hither. Parties from the coast of Gaul may
* Pinkerton's Enquiry, i. t Ibid. i. 204.
J The Saxon Cockaigne seems to have been the same island which 'was also
to the French and Spaniards by other names. See " the Western Wonder, or
an Enchanted Island," 4to. 1G74.
This singular effect of mirage on the sands of the coasts in the western
isles is no-
ticed in the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal for Dec. 1827. The Highlanders
Dun na feadhre.'igh, fairy castles. Some remarkable appearances of this kind
seen near Yough-Il, in Ireland, in 1796, 1797, 1801, &c.
ORIGIN OF THE INHABITANTS. 43
have occasionally visited the island for the purpose of hunting, before
permanent settlements were formed; and, even after colonies had estab-
lished themselves, a long time must have been required to people the
Brettania is first mentioned by Aristotle, and Brittia is the term gen-
erally used by the ancients. It appears to be the second name, and is
derived by Whittaker from the Welsh, Brython, divided; the Gaelic
Bieac, striped or chequered, Brezonec, the appellation of Arrnorica,
the name Brigantes, Allo-Broges, &c., being all related. Mac Pherson
derives the name from Braid, extensive, In, land, Clarke from Braitoin,
top of the waves; and the etymology of another writer is equally simple,
but less probable: Stackhouse gives Bre, a hill, Ton, a dwelling; Bre-
theim, in ancient Celtic and German, is said, by Wolfgang, to signify a
residence; but Borlase asserts that no British word begins with B as a
The Britons, like the continental Celts, were ignorant of their origin,
and believed themselves indigenous, a proof that they could not have
recently arrived. Diodorus considered them as natives of the soil; but
Tacitus, more correct, was of opinion that the first inhabitants came
from the opposite coasts of the Continent. Caesar represents the inhab-
itants of the maritime parts as adventurers from Gaul, and those of -the
interior only as aborigines, according to their own tradition. The Cum-
ri, whom the Welsh Triads make the first colonists, are otherwise be-
lieved to have been the second, and of a different race. That they were
not, may appear from what has already been said;* and whether they
proceeded from Aquitain, as some conjecture, from Tacitus, | or from
Belgic Gaul, the only essential difference between these nations and the
Celts consisted in name and local position. The aboriginal inhabitants
of Britain must have been Celtic, for that race anciently possessed the
whole of continental Europe. These Cumri could not have been a very
large colony, or have occupied much greater extent of territory than
Wales, for the appellation was not applied to other Britons. Accord-
ing to the best Welsh Antiquaries, they came in on the Guydhel, as
they term the primitive inhabitants, whose name proves their derivation
from the great race who peopled the western world. The period when
the Cumri arrived is unknown. If the term was "the hereditary name of
the Gauls," and "the common appellation of all the tribes of Britain,*'
it is in vain to look for a colony bearing it as a proper and peculiar
name. When the island was gradually filling with inhabitants from the
redundant population of Gaul, various successive arrivals undoubtedly
* " No Cimbri ever landed here, except Gauls, so called. Those who broke
Greece appear to have been called Galli, Celtae, Cimmerii, and Cirnbri."
of the Britons, p. 47. " No one has any right to it (Britain) but the Cumri,
first took possession, and before that time there were no persons living in
Welsh Laws. Hu Cadarn brought hither the first Cumri.
t Who perceived a likeness between the Silures and Iberians.
44 CELTIC AND BELGIC BRITONS.
took place. The Triads mention the Lloegrwys, who came from
Gwasgvvn or Gascony, as the next settlers, from whom the Welsh de-
nominate the English Lloegr; but in less doubtful history, the Belgse
appeal to have succeeded the Cumri, who had been so long in the isl-
and that they were considered, as they have styled themselves, the an-
The Belgians are said to have arrived here three centuries and a half
before the epoch of Christianity, and that about this period there existed
a connexion between the two countries, is very probable. Divitiacus,
king of the Suessiones, a Belgic tribe, who was alive in Caesar's time,
had a certain sovereignty in Britain,* which he visited, enlarging his
dominions by the subjection of great part of the southern districts of
When Julius Caesar meditated his descent, there subsisted a consider-
able intercourse between Britain and the continent, by means of which
he sought information respecting the country and its inhabitants; but it
does not appear that he obtained very accurate knowledge of either.
The merchants who traded with the natives were the parties to whom he
chiefly addressed himself; but their personal knowledge of the island did
not, probably, extend to any considerable distance from the ports to
which they resorted, and the natives, we may believe, were not disposed
to be verv communicative.
When the Romans landed in Britain they found the maritime parts on
the south possessed by the Belgae, who were neither a race distinct from
the Celtre, nor did they speak a language "altogether different." A
better climate, and a degree of commercial intercourse, produced a me-
lioration of condition; but we have no reason to believe that these ad-
vantages had very materially increased the difference between the
southern and inland tribes at the period now under review. Diodorus
simply remarks that those who inhabited the promontory of Balerium,
(Cornwall,) were more civilized and courteous to strangers than the rest
of the p >pulation, by reason of their intercourse with foreign merchants.
The Britons, like the Gauls their progenitors, bore a general resemblance
in language, religion, manners, and customs, the strong and indubitable
proofs of a common origin. The local appellations throughout the ter-
ritories .which they inhabited decidedly evince that "the British Belgae
were of Celtic lineage." A Gothic colonization is, nevertheless, said to
have taken pkce when the Belgse established themselves on this side the
channel. | It has been shown that this people were but a division of the
Gauls, and not to be confounded with the nations of Getia. Three
hundred and thirty-four years before our era, the Scyths were not in
western Europe, but remained on the shores of the Euxine, and the
Gothic migrations from the east began about two hundred years after-
wards. The Goths first came into notice as a fierce and powerful peo-
ple in A. T). 250, before which time they were little known to the Ro-
* Bello Gal. ii. c. 4. t Pinkerton.
THE BELGIANS NOT GOTHS. 45
mans, and their empire on the Danube was not formed until A. D. 32S
Previous to the descent of Caesar, these nations were still about the
Euxine, at which time Britain had been fully peopled by the Celhe;
and the silence of history attests that no important migration of the
Goths had hitherto taken place.
It becomes, therefore, certain that the first inhabitants of Britain were
alike Celts, resembling those on the opposite coasts of Gaul, for, on the
arrival of the Romans, the language, the religion, and customs of both
countries were similar.* Had there, on the contrary, arrived a people,
different in their manners, and so entirely distinct from the Celts, that
"no tongues could be more different," some remains of that tongue
would surely have existed to prove the event. The prevalence of their
language seems to demonstrate that the Goths at some time came into the
north and west of Europe; but had they moved in a considerable body,
or settled otherwise than by a quiet and amicable migration,' some authen-
tic memorial of the circumstance must have remained. The Gothic
tribes do not appear to have left their native seats earlier than perhaps a
cent ury^ before the time of Caesar, when Britain was stored with a Celtic
population. At this time, the aboriginal race of Gauls were fast yield-
ing to the impressions of civilisation alterations in their language had
taken place the unmixed Celts were gradually confined to the west of
Europe, and those to the eastward were becoming Gothicised.
The Triads bring several other colonies hither at different times the
Brython from Lhydaw or Bretagne being the next in order of time to
the Lloegrwys, and both were of Cumraeg origin. It is impossible to
ascertain the periods when these tribes established themselves in Britain,
but it is certain that the various Colonists were all equally Celtic and
similar to the natives of Gaul. Such were the inhabitants whom Ccesar
found fifty-five years before the epoch of Christianity, and the population
was still Celtic when the Romans finally left the island five hundred
The Belgre, who possessed the whole south coast of England from Kent
to Cornwall, resembled the inhabitants of the continent more strongly
than those tribes who lived in the interior, and who were thought by them-
selves, and believed by others, to have been e terra nati, or indigenous.
Every succeeding colony obtaining a peaceable settlement, or, estab-
lishing itself by force of arms, remained in the vicinity of those parts
where it first landed; and the former inhabitants falling back, became
confined to the interior. The most ancient residents of Britain were thus
gradually forced to the west and north by successive arrivals from Gaul,
and finally rested in Scotland, in Ireland, and in the mountainous regions
When the Romans penetrated northwards to SCOTLAND, they' found
* Caesar, Tacitus, &c.
t " At the Roman abdication in 446, there was only one race of men in
46 ETYMOLOGY OF CALEDONIA.
(he people of the same Celtic race as those of the south, but much more
rude and uncivilized, being, in every probability, the remains of the ab-
origines, who were forced northwards b^ successive arrivals from the
Continent. It is a strong proof in favor of this hypothesis, that the an-
cient Scots always retained the name of ALBANICH, inhabitants of A ban,
or Albion, the first appellation by which Britain was known, and that
their descendants, the present Highlanders, invariably continue its use.
Another argument of some weight is found in the fact that there exist in
Wales certain words, used not only as local names but in common dis-
course, which are only referable to the Gaelic of Scotland; and a cur-
rent tradition is also found among the Welsh, that the Scots or Irish an-
ciently inhabited their country. The Welsh call both these people
Guydhel, or Guidhil, the appellation by which they distinguish the abo-
riginal inhabitants to whom the Cumri succeeded; and this word, the dh
being quiescent, is evidently the same as Gael, the term by which the
native Scots have been always known, and which is certainty derived
from the ancient general name of the whole Celtic race.*
It was not until the successful campaign of Agricola that the Romans
discovered the Scottish tribes, or obtained a knowledge of their country.
The Imperial troops advanced sufficiently far to arouse the natives to a
sense of their danger to a general confederation to a sanguinary and
protracted, but successful, struggle for their independence.
The most powerful tribe at that time, in the northern division of the
island, was the Caledonian, which had the leading of the war, and,
according to the accustomed polity of the Celts, gave name to the whole
association. Lucanf is the first who mentions this people, whom he
places in Kent. Tacitus, the elegant historian of Agricola's life, is the
first who shows the situation of the Caledonians of Scotland. If the
etymon which identifies this word with Guydhel or Gael, is just, the
name may possibly have been applied to different tribes; but Lucan is
believed to be in error, and has apparently misled Richard of Cirencester,
who places Caledonian woods in Kent and Lincolnshire.
Mr. Whittaker, adducing Florus, who also speaks of the Caledonian
woods in Kent, Sussex, &.C., says, from Guidhil, a wood, came Gaeldoch,
woodlandish, applied to those who inhabit "the precincts of an extensive
forest," a term of which the Romans made Caledonia. This is ingeni
ous, but it does not appear that " Caledon" hence " became the nation
al appellation for all woods of the Galli in Britain. "J Buchannan's
etymology is Caldcn, Gaelic, a hazel tree, and hence the name of the
wood from which the country was called Caledonia; but this great author
* The Welsh do not denominate either nation Cumri. The Irish language is
similar to ancient or modern Welsh than it is to the Gaelic of Scotland. Dr.
son. The Irish, however, from Vallancey, Coll. Reb. x. lib. iv., seem not
admit that they are Gauls. I Pharsalia, iii. v. 67-8.
t Hist. Manch. 415, Hist, of the Britons, and authorities. Another Antiquary
some celebrity maintains that no region was called Caledonia but the
GAEL ALBANICH AND SIRINACH. 47
is corrected by Dr. M'Pherson, who observes that Caultin, and not
Galden, is a hazel.
The Highlanders have always been known as Gael, and their native
country they have always termed Gaeldoch, the land of the Gael. 4 The
G has usually the sound of C, which brings it nearer to the primitive
Celt, from which it is unquestionably derived; and whether it signifies
the fair men,f the hardy or strong men,J the borderers,^ the men of the
woods, [j the fugitives, 1T the hill-dwellers, &.c. &.c. &.c. there appears
room to doubt that the Celtic Gael was the root of the Latin Caledonii.
The Caledonians who led the united Gael to battle at the Grampians,
possessed a great extent of territory. It comprised all the country from
the friths of Forth and Clyde to the hills of Balnagowan in Ross.
This powerful nation continued to inhabit the same province;** but
other tribes came afterwards into notice, and, from the honor of conduct-
ing different campaigns, alternately appear in the annals of their country,
and engross the praise that various clans were entitled to share. The
CALEDONIANS, the PICTS, the SCOTS, and the MEATS successively stood
forth to contend for their national liberty, or conduct inroads on the ter-
ritories of their enemies, and hence the whole country appears to have
been divided among a few powerful nations; but from the Tweed to
Caithness, there were no less than twenty-one different tribes of Celtae;
and when the Romans abandoned the island, Scotland was occupied
solely by this primeval race.
This division of Britain had not, however, at this epoch, received that
appellation by which it has been since known. The term was imposed
by others, but has never been recognised by the native inhabitants, in
whose language the original name of the country has been always retain-
ed. They disown the name of Scots, they disclaim foreign extraction,
they acknowledge themselves Albanich, inhabitants of Albion, an ap-
pellation which to this day is given them by the Irish, who receive and
appropriate, with justice, the designation Gael Eirinach, Irish Celts. ft
Every probability is in favor of the opinion that the first colonies
from Gaul were settled in Britain. The world might have rested satis-
fied with the rational belief that Ireland, appearing, ever since it came
under the notice of the Historian, in a state of civilisation, much inferior
to its sister island, could not have been peopled by a more refined or
polished race than the Celts; but Phoenician records, and other indubi-
*M-Pherson in Ossian. Dr. M'Pherson's Dissertations, &c. The word is Gaid-
healtachd, in Gaelic orthography. t Cluverius, Germ. Ant. i. 14
} Kaled, British, hard, Kaledion, a hardy, rough people. Camden. Pasumont de
I'oririne des mots Celte et Gaul, 1765. says Celt is robur.
Cilydion. British, Borderers. Lhuyd. |j Buchannan and Whittaker.
*, Cyliad, profugam. Buxhorn, in Ant. Brit.
** Dio speaks of them, about 239, as the only nation beyond the walls, in
ty of which dwelt the Meats, who were only inferior to the Caledonians in
Lib. Ixxvi. c. 12. ft Caledonia. Critical Diss. &c
43 THE SCOTS.
table proofs of Milesian and Heremonian dynasties of glorious splendor,
impart very different ideas of its ancient condition.
It does not appear to rne that the honor of both countries is so deeply
implicated in the simple fact of earliest inhabitation. If the people who
first took possession of Ireland passed over from Scotland, they are yet
to be ranked with the most ancient, and therefore the most noble Celts,
as Galgacus called the Caledonians, who had indignantly retired, to
protect their independence in the extremity of the land; for, in conse-
quence of successive invasions from the Continent, the Irish were, prob-
ably, at first compelled to cross the channel. The Highlanders are
justly proud of being descended of the unconquered tribes; but, honor-
able as this is, others may think that little credit is to be derived from
having left their native seats and allowed themselves to be confined to
The SCOTS are first mentioned towards the end of the third century,
by Porphyry. They are noticed by Ammianus Marcellinus in 360; are
spoken of by Claudian about 390, and are generally supposed to have
been first settled in Ireland. As the northern part of Britain did nrtt an-
ciently bear the name of Scotland, but was certainly called Hibernia, an
inveterate, and apparently interminable war, between the Scots and
Irish Antiquaries has long subsisted, and the disputants have advanced
so much in defence of their respective systems, that any farther investi
gation of the subject is peculiarly uninviting. It appears from Strabo,*
Pomponius Mela,| Ptolemy ,J &c. that the northern division of Britain
was considered as a separate island, a belief that long continued, and
has proved a copious source of national controversy.
The early accounts of Hibernia are suitable to Scotland, but cannot
with any propriety be applied to Ireland: at the same time, that island
was not unknown, as is apparent from Ca3sar, Diodorus, and others.
It has been attempted to restrict the first writer's description to the
Scotish Hibernia, but apparently without reason. The ancients had
certainly a very inaccurate knowledge of these islands, and great con-
fusion arose upon the full discovery that Britain was an entire island,
from which Ireland, situated towards the west, was perfectly distinct.
When this had become well known, whatever had been said concerning
Hibernia, or North Britain as an island, was naturally appropriated to Ire-
land, to which alone it appeared applicable, the more so, from the simi-
larity of the native word Iern,|| or according to the Greek form Juverna,
* Lib ii. iv. v. &c. t De orbis situ
t Syntaxis, ii. 6. See Goodall, in prefat. ad Fordun, i. ii. iii. &c*
|| It was called lern, lernis, and Iris by the most ancient writers, and
does not ap-
pear to have been called Hibernia before the time of Caesar. The former is
the original word, which, according to Bochart, is Phoenician, and implies
land. This agrees with the Gaelic lar-in, western island, and it is known
two languages were anciently much alike. Lemon, in his Etymology, says from
west, comes Iber, Iberia, &c. applied to those countries situated towards
sun, or in the direction of that luminary, when it is eve.
INHABITANTS OF BRITAIN. 49
to the appellation Hiberma, which appears to have been bestowed on
Scotland from its wintry climate, for Strabo describes it as " north of
Britain, and the boundary of the habitable part of the globe, where the
savage inhabitants could scarcely live for cold. " lie also says its dis-
tance from Gaul is upwards of 603 miles, an error that he could hard-
ly have committed if his Hibernia was Ireland, for it is not 10D miles
from the continent. It is evident that Ptolemy had once the same idea
concerning these islands which he was able latterly to correct. In Scot-
l^rid, a noted station of the Romans called Hierna,* and locally situated
in Strath Erne, added to the misunderstanding, that was yet farther in-
creased by the erection of the walls, which being drawn across the
country from sea to sea, as the boundaries of the provinciated and un-
subdued Britons, kept alive the idea of two islands; the first division
being called Britannia Romana, and the other Britannia Barbaria.
Gildas, who calls the first "the Island," and "the Roman Island,"
terms the Scots and Picts " transmarini;" which Bede, who also speaks
of " the Island " and " Britannica," as the southern part explains: " I
have called them foreign nations," says he, " not because they live be-
yond Britain, but because they are remote from that part possessed by
the Britons; two gulfs intervening, though they do not unite, "j" and thus
he continues to speak as if there were two islands, when it was well
known there was but one. Foreign writers, who only consulted the an-
cient authors, propagated the error from their own ignorance, and those
in subsequent times, who were better informed, have been consequently
astonished to read of the island of Scotland.
Fordun, Buchannan, and various other historians, have remarked
that the term Britannia was applied to the Roman part only, for the
Picts and Caledonians are not denominated Britons, but are called their
enemies. J Those enemies lived in " the barbarous island," an appel-
lation, which it may be presumed the Irish Antiquaries will with little
reluctance allow the Scots to appropriate to their own country, which
was that part not subject to the Romans, the inhabitants of which were
reckoned " foreign nations," or those beyond the province. From a
supposition that the Friths on the west and east coasts intersected the
country, the idea of two islands first arose. It was the enterprising
Agricola who ascertained that "the tide of both seas stretched an im-
mense way to the interior, but were prevented from joining by a narrow
neck of land."
Abraham Peritsol repeatedly mentions the island Scotland, believing.,
as Hide his translator remarks, that the Tweed made two separate
islands. $; In the British Museum is a map, originally constructed in
1479, which represents Scotland as completely insulated from the aestua-
ries of the Forth and Clyde ; and it is so represented in the cosrnogra-
* Nojv Stragcth. Roy's Military Antiquities, p. 128.
Hist. Eccles. J Lumenms, Panegyr. ad Constant, xvi.
Ilinpra Mundi, c. 7 & 12.
60 THE SCOTS IN BRITAIN,
phy of Peter Apianus, published at Antwerp in 1545, although " expur-
gated " from error. Richard of Cirencester, better informed respecting
this part of the kingdom, but still impressed with a belief : n two islands,
separates the country at the chain of lakes where the utoat Canul now
is, carrying the Varar quite through from sea to sea, and placing the
Caledonians in the farther division, that they might remain, as the an-
cients described them, in a distinct island.*
The name Hibernia was therefore originally applied to North Britain,
and subsequently transferred to Ireland, or restricted to it, when th|
former country began to be called by its proper name, Albany, although
it continued at the same time occasionally to receive the former appel-
lation. In the Roman Marty rology, Saint Bean, who died in 1015, is
styled " Episcopus Abredonise in Hybernia;" and this prelate was most
assuredly a Scotsman, for it cannot affect the question that the Bishop's
seat was first established at Mortlach, and subsequently removed to
In the age of Alfred, the northern parts of Britain were called Ireland
by mariners, j and the Highlanders were termed Hybernenses even in
1180. From this mutation of names, the Scandinavian writers are sup-
posed by Pinkerton to have confounded Scotland with Ireland.
That the Scots were the primaeval people of the island, and not recent
settlers, does not seem to admit of dispute, and the appellation by which
they were known must have originated with others, for it has never been
acknowledged by those who are the remains of the ancient inhabitants.
Albanach and Clan n' Alban are the terms, as has been observed, which
they appropriate, and derive from the original name of the whole island,
but which afterwards became restricted to a part only, and is now con-
fined to the district of Braidalban.J
The Descriptio Albanire informs us that the region which was corrupt-
ly called Scotia, formerly bore the name of Albania, Argyle being part
of it; and the Bishops of St. Andrews, it is known, were formerly styled
Bishops of Albany. About the end of the sixth century the term Scotia
begun to supersede the ancient appellation, but the inhabitants continued
to use Albany in their own language, and in Latin. In the work of
Hegesippus on the destruction of Jerusalem, which Sir George Mac-
kenzie thinks is of the time of Hadrian, about 127, but JJm F Grono-
vius asserts to be of the age of Theodosius, 395, Jt sephus tells the
Jews that the mountains of Scotland tremble at the Roman name, which
seems to be the first time the word is used.
Bede states that Aidan and his successors, Bishops of lona, who
preached the Gospel to the Northumbrians, came from Scotland, in
which country that island was certainly then as it is now. Alcuin and
*See the engraved maps in Henry's Hist, of Britain, Pinkerton's Enquiry, &c.
t Barrington's Orosius, in Caledonia, i. 338.
| The Albani of the Romans inhabited Braidalban, the west parts of Perth,
parts of Argyleshire.
AND IN IRELAND. M
Eginhart, who wrote in the end of the eighth century, use this name,
but tht: Irish apply all these passages to their own country; and Pinker-
ton, with his usual confidence, maintains that " there is not one authori-
ty for the name of Scotland hefore the eleventh century."
Usher made a similar assertion, contending that Prosper and others,
who distinguish the country of the Scots from Britain, speak of Ireland.
Palladius, who was ordained hy Pope Coelestine as the first Bishop of
the Scots, is said by the Irish to have been sent to them. This mission-
ary came into Scotland and was buried at Fordun in the Merns,* where
Paldy fair is still held, and where his shrine continued an object of pil-
grimage till the Reformation. The " reges Scottorum," with whom
Charlemagne corresponded,! are asserted to have been kings of Ireland;
and those who admit the authenticity of the celebrated League, affirm
that it was made with the Irish reguli, for which I believe no authentic
proof has ever been produced. Two or three Scots Kings lived in the
long reign of Charles; and if these are not the princes from whom he
received letters, which of the Irish regalities did he honor by his
The annals of that country do not appear to recognise any such corres-
pondence, but successive treaties between Scotland and France, alluding
to leagues ratified in the most distant times, ^ and the Scotish guard
which remained until a recent period, prove the ancient connexion of
the two countries; nay, Sir George Mackenzie says the original league,
formed in 791, was discovered in an old register at Paris.
Scoti and Albani were anciently synonymous, and Scoti and Hiberni
were indiscriminately used; but that this last term was exclusively ap-
plied to the Irish is certainly false. When Ammianus speaks of the
Romans defeating the Scots in lerne, must we not understand Caledonia,
with the inhabitants of which the Romans fought, but had neither their
wars with the Irish, nor ever invaded their country. We must in the
same way explain the passage in Gorionides where the Romans are said
to have reduced the Hiberni to subjection. IT
Gildas, in relating the devastation of Romanized Britain by the Scots
and Picts, uses an expression which, however translated, does not fix
the residence of these nations in Ireland. " Revertuntur ergo impu-
dentes grassatores Hyberni domum," is usually rendered, "the impu-
dent Hybernian robbers therefore return home;" and this home, if it is
proved that Scotland formerly received the appellation, must have been
the "icy Hibernia," whence they had advanced. But if the passage
should be, as Gale, Bertram, and others, read from ancient MSS., "ad
* Brev. Abredonensis.
t Eginhart, vita et gestse Karoli magni, p. 138, ed. Francofurti.
t Irish Histories. Chalmers, in Caledonia, i. 463, &c. &^
Letter of the Scots Nobility to the King of France in 1308, &*.
(I See an article in the Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of
H Lib. vi. 17
52 THE SCOTS
hibornas domos," to their winter habitations, it is a more satisfactory
proof that the Scots who invaded the province were not Irish.
Henry of Huntingdon says, that Ceesar sent his' legions "in Hiberni-
am, !) but as this cannot mean Ireland, where neither that commander
nor his troops ever were, hiberna, winter quarters, is substituted by An-
tiquaries as the proper word. So the " hibernique Getae " of Proper-
tius, instead of alluding to the people of Ireland, is believed merely to
characterize the Getians as living in a wintry latitude. If Bede uses
Hiberni and Scoti for Irish only, how can it be reconciled with his ex-
planation of " transmarini? "
The name of Scots was common to the Irish Gael as well as to those
of Albany ;* and this general application of the term has greatly per-
plexed the ancient history of Scotland, "the confusion which it has
introduced is eternal and irremediable." It seems, however, certain
that Ireland received its first population from Albion. Diodorus says,
Iris was inhabited by Britons; and Richard of Cirencester informs us
that the Scots of that island were those who were forced, on the arrival
of the Belgs, to leave their native country. Most of these emigrants,
it is probable, passed over from Scotland, where the two islands ap-
proximate so closely; and of which the similarity in dialect, and some
other circumstances, according to Sir William Petty ,f are evidence.
An intimate connexion has existed from the most remote times be-
tween the people of both countries, who were related by intermarriages,
and whose language arid customs were, for ages, perfectly alike; but
the intercourse which has always continued between the adjacent parts
of Scotland and Ireland, affords no proof that Albany received its in-
habitants from "the western land."
The Irish extract of the Scots is, notwithstanding, very keenly con-
tended for by many able writers, and the arguments are chiefly founded
on the ambiguous use of the term Hiberni, and the History of the King-
dom of Dalriada, or that of the Scots before the seat of government
was transferred from Argyle to the Low Country. Bede tells us the
Scots arrived from Ireland in that part of the West Highlands now call-
ed Argyle, where they settled under Reuda or Riada, and were from
him denominated Dalreudini, being the first Scots who ever were in
Britain. This is the venerable ecclesiastic's account, in which he is
not corroborated by any authorities equally respectable. Tighearnach,
the Ulster Annals, Flan of Bute, and other ancient historians and doc-
uments, are silent respecting this expedition. The district where the
colony established itself was denominated Ergadia, or Argathel, a word
apparently derived from lar Gael, the western Colts. The Irish call
the inhabitants simply the Gael of the hills, or high country, which they
designate as Ard na n' Gaodhal, the heights of the Gaedhelians, and
have never applied to these people their own appellation Eirinach. which
* Gir. Cambrensi:?. t Political Anatomy of Ireland.
OF DALR1ADA OR ARGYLE. 53
Dr M'Pherson has well remarked no Highlander has ever yet called
The Scots are represented by Eumenius and Sidonius Appollitiaris as
ne of the nations with whom Csesar contended. Alfred, in his version
of Orosius, says, Severus often fought with Picts and Scots; and Fabius
Ethelwerd says, that Claudius was opposed by these nations, a sufficient
proof of their antiquity in this country. The Irish were called both
Scoti and Gaidheli; but the Scots of Ireland are distinguished from those
of Britain, who were otherwise denominated Hiberni, a term that was
also common to the people of Ulster. Andrew, Bishop of Caithness,
from whom Cambrensis had his information, told him that the people of
Argyle were called Hybernenses, and their country Arregathel " quasi
margo Scottorum seu Hybernensium."* Bede calls this part of the
country "the province of the Northern Scots," from which it may ap-
pear that these people wero to be found elsewhere. Orosius calls the
inhabitants of Anglesea, Scots, which Buchannan notices. All the Irish
were not Scoti, but the Dalriads are so called by Bede, Adamnan, and
others; and Giraldus Cambrensis informs us it was applied as a special
name. From other authorities, we find that these people were also
known as Albanach.
The first arrival of the Scots in Argyle is said to have taken place in
258; | but it is more generally believed to have happened later. We
find that, about 210, a settlement was formed by the Picts in the North
of Ireland, which Bede considers as their original seat; and in this part
of the island there was a little kingdom called Dalriada, which comprised
the present county of Antrim and some neighboring districts, and is al-
lowed to have been subject to the British Scots until it was at last an-
nexed to the kingdom of Ulster.
It is acknowledged that Caledonii, Picti, Albani, and Scoti were
synonymous appellations, or nearly so. It is not, therefore, very evident
that " in the time of Bede only the Dalriads were properly Scots;" it is
still less apparent that they were Irish. The Picts of Ireland, and it
should seem of Scotland also, were termed Crutheni, or Cruithnich, a
word implying corn, or wheat eaters, in allusion to their practice of ag-
riculture. The former were established in a little principality, between
which and the kingdom in Scotland there was kept up a friendly inter-
course. O'Conner says that the connexions between the Crutheni of
Scotland and Cairbre Riada being renewed, he obtained a settlement
among them. Bede says the Dalriads took possession partly through
force, partly through favor. The Albanic Duan intimates that it was
by " a high hand," that they established themselves, but other authori-
ties inform us that thev were invited over.
From the name of the leader of the first colony, the territories where
it settled are said to have acquired the name Dal-Riada, the tribe of
* Descriptio Albaniae i Pinkerlon's Enquiry.
54 TFIE SCOTS.
Riada, an etymology that does not very well agree with the idionvof
the Gaelic language, and that otherwise is objectionable. We find it in
the ancient annals written Dalaroidh, &,c.
Loarn, the name of one of the kinglets into which Argyle was divided
by Fergus Mac Eire, is said to have been derived from that of his broth-
er; but it appears under the form of Lora or Lori, which otherwise oc-
curs as an ancient local name.
It is evident from both Scots and Irish records, that those who were
known as Dalriads, and had been long settled in Argyle, were driven to
Ireland on some occasion, about 440 or 446; and this circumstance,
coinciding with the supposed entire expulsion of the Scots, has increased
the confusion in this part of our history, and strengthened the belief in
the Irish extract of the Scots nation.
That the Scots were utterty expelled from North Britain, as repre-
sented, is certainly untrue. The Roman Historians, and the national
Chronicles, instead of showing that the Picts and Scots were at vari-
ance, or that the one nation had been expatriated, prove that they con-
tinued faithful allies, acting in confederation against the Romans and
provinciated Britons, during the period of this pretended banishment.
And here again appears a proof that the Dalriads were not the only Scots
in Britain. Those, however, who sent them out of the country were
obliged to bring them back at some period; and, if the national annals
are allowed to be authentic, the return and accession of Fergus to the
throne took place in the year 403; but those who have critically investi-
gated Scots' history reject this epoch, and contend that this prince and
his brother Loarn returned from Ireland an hundred years later, and
reigned jointly, until the death of the latter left Fergus sole king of the
The Scots appear neither as exiles nor a subjugated people, during
the period when they are said to have been in banishment. When Vor-
tigern invited the Saxons to assist him with their forces, it was chiefly
to protect him from the Scots, * but the Dalriadae were certainly at first
an insignificant community, although they afterwards became of moie
note, and, by their connexion with the Pictish royal family, they finally
perpetuated the race of their own princes in the line of Scots' Kings.
The Highlanders call Achaius, or Achadh, who reigned more than fifty
years before the subversion of the Pictish kingdom, the king of Albany. f
Numerous etymologies have been given of the name Scot, which is
thus seen to have been borne by the inhabitants of both countries Its
similarity to that of the Scythge is striking, and has determined many to
derive the Scots direct from Scythia. It is rather probable that those
people, so remote from each other, bore a name which was expressive
in the primitive language of Europe, but was somewhat varied in the
primitive dialects. Florus writes to Hadrian, who was in Caledonia,
*Nenuius. t Stewart's Sketches of the Highlanders.
THE ATT1COTS. 55
that he would not wish to suiTer Scythic frosts; and Nennius uses both
Scythae and Scotti indifferently :* Porphyry also, in some old editions, has
The name of the numerous people on the continent who were known
Skythoe, has heen, with the appearance of certainty, deduced from the
Nomadic state in which they lived, and the similarity of this appellation
to the Scuite of the Seanachies is apparent.
In the extensive regions which the former people inhabited, pasturage
was the sole occupation. There were no towns; but the people moved
about continually with their cattle, having no settled residence. He-
lodotus says, " they do not cultivate the ground, but lead a pastoral life;"
nay, some of them, he declares, were destitute even of tents, dwelling in
summer "each man under his own tree."* He afterwards observes,
that the Callipidae, one of their nations, did raise corn, but it was not to
eat, but sell. Strabo considers Scythoe and Nomades synonymous terms."f
In the time of Ammianus Marcellinus, they remained in the same va-
grant state of existence, when the Scots of these islands had become
well known. " Some few of the Scyths," says this author, " feed on
corn and fruits, but all in general wander over the wilds. Their wives,
their children, their furniture and houses, if they can be so termed, are
on wagons, covered with bark, and they remove them at their pleasure,
whithersoever they think fit." The Scots, in like manner, are character-
ized bv the same Ammianus, as wandering up and down, without any
fixed place of abode; and the description is agreeable to the account
that Nicacus gives of them. Hence the propriety of the name Scuite,
"the wandering nation," by which the Seanachies distinguish those
Gaedhelians who had no fixed residence, for they made use of both ap-
pellations. J The original word in Ossian is Scuta, which literally signi-
fies, " restless wanderer. "
That these people were not a particular tribe or nation, is evinced
from the expression " Scoticoe gentes;" and they ranged about at times
with the ATTICOTS, || or Attascots, as some read, who appear from the
annals of Ireland to have been also in that country, and who are suppos-
ed to have been the Dalriads.
The name of Scot was apparently given to that part of the population
* Lib. ii.
t " Gentes uno prius nomine omnes vel Scylhae vel Nomades (ut ab Homero) ap-
pellabantur." i. 48. Falconer's ed. Chrerilus, celebrating Alexander's
characterizes the Sacae as "fond of pastoral life." Bryant's Analysis of
thology, iii. 547.
t Ogygia. Carthon.
|| Porphyry, whose observation gives no reason to believe they were
considered a re-
cent nation in the third century. "The Attacots," says Marcellinus, "a
bana, and the Scots, wandering up and down, committed great depredations."
c. 7. The name seems derived from Attich, inhabitants, c ^ed, of the woods.
who live in the woods are at this day called, by the Highlai aers, dwellers
of the woods.
- Dr. M Pherson.
of both Scotland and Ireland, which remained pastoral and unsettled,
and was not a term of reproach, as some conceive, but an honorable ap-
pellation. It was only those who possessed numerous flocks, and were
able to traverse the country without restraint, who deserved it. Their
riches gave them influence, and Scoti and reguli were synonymous.*
The Scots of both countries are distinguished by Nennius, for they were
certainly peculiar to neither. Ulster was the proper country of the Irish-
Scots; between whom, and those of the West of Scotland, there long
continued so intimate a connexion, that the people may be said to have
anciently been the same; but the terms Scoti and Hiberni appear rather
confounded than synonymous. The transfer of name from a supposed
island to a real one, and the misapplication of passages relating to these
different countries, have been productive of much confusion and obscurity.
A great part of the population of Scotland and Ireland continued for
many ages to move about for the pasturage of their flocks. In the latter
country, the practice was remarkable even until recent times. Spenser
informs us, it was a general occupation for the inhabitants to traverse
the country, " driving their cattle continually with them, and feeding
only on their milk and white meates."| In allusion to this custom, Gil-
das observes, that Britain abounded with hills that were very convenient
for the alternate pasture of flocks and herds. The Scots have been,
and, from the nature of their country, a great proportion of the inhabit-
ants must continue a pastoral people; but their wanderings have long
ceased to extend farther than from the homesteading in the glen, to the
shealings in the mountains, during the months of summer.
The MEAT.E were those who lived within the Walls, and their name
was expressive of their local situation, being derived from Moi, plain,
and Aitich, inhabitants, J although within the Roman pale they were
scarcely subdued; and it was only about 368, that this part of the island
was formed into the province of Valentia. The Meatre were of the same
Celtic race as the other nations; and the Walenses, or people of Gallo-
way, are their remains.
They are supposed, by General Roy, to have become known as PICTS,
a name which appears to have been of wide application, and first occurs
in an oration of the panegyrist Eurnenius, to Constantius, on his victory
over Alectus, in 298, and they are not spoken of as a recent people, but
as having, like the Scots, been in the island before the arrival of Caesar.
It was, indeed, an established tradition in Bede's time, that the Picts
were the original inhabitants of Scotland; and, agreeably to this opinion,
it is said that Pictland was afterwards corruptly called Scotia.
The same Eumenius terms all the extra provincials Picts, and plainly
shows that they were the same people as the Caledonians. When the
* P^de. See also Innes's Grit. Essay. t View of Ireland, 1596.
tMae Pherson, in Ossian. Whittaker says from maean, middle, or moi, plain.
nes translates it Midland Britons. The ancient province of Meath, in
to have received its name from the same cause.
CALEDONIANS AND PICTS. 57
Ernperor Constantius came into Britain, he proceeded to repel the " Cal-
edonii ot alii Picti."
Giraldus Cambrensis says that some assigned a period of 1070 years
foi the dura. ion of the Pictish kingdom, which, reckoning from its sub-
version in 841, will carry it to the year 229 before the Christian era.
Herodian calls the Caledonians Picti;* and Ammianus says they
were divided into two nations, the Deu Caledonii and Vecturiones,
names which appear appropriate to their different situations. An dua
or tua, north, Chaeldoch or Ghaeldoch, Caledonian, an appellation some
west Highlanders, as Dr. Mac Pherson avers, continued to give to the
people of Ross and Sutherland. A part of Drumalban is still called
Drurn-Uachter, and Uachturich, which has the same signification as
Highlanders, is supposed, with the appearance of probability, to be the
origin of Vecturiones, which has otherwise been written Venricones,t
and, perhaps, Venicontes.J
In the time of Geoffrey of Monmouth it appears the Scots were call-
ed Picts generally. A passage in an ancient poem by Ossian, or some
other bard, shows that the Caledonians did not reject the term. " Alas!
that it was not in the land of Picts, of the bloody and fierce Fingaliaiu
that thou didst fall."
It is believed that this name was applied to all the inhabitants of the
North. ^ The similarity of interments in the Highlands and Lowlands,
affords a proof of the identity of the ancient inhabitants, who were un-
doubtedly Celts. Indeed, Innes is of opinion that the Caledonians
were but a part of the Pictish nation, || which was subdued by Kenneth
Mac Alpin, and is supposed to have been then utterly exterminated. On
the contrary, however, this prince was styled, as his successors long
continued to be, King of the Picts. IT He was, in fact, one of their own
monarchs, and had a legitimate claim to the throne, being the son of
Urguist, daughter of Hungus, King of the Picts, who was married to
Achaius, King of the Scots.**
Nennius declares that the Picts remained in his days; and the Bard
of Malcolm the Third gives no intimation of their pretended extirpation.
Their chief seat, about the year 875, was Galloway, a district which re-
mained to a late period in a state of comparative independence, govern-
ed by its native princes, and regulated by its peculiar customs. j"j"
The last mention of the inhabitants of this province by the ancient
name, is in 1138, when they fought at the battle of the Standard. Rich-
* D'Anville says they are not to be distinguished from each other.
t Mac Pherson's Critical Dissertations. Another very plausible etymology of
Caledonii is from dubh, black. It is said the Irish called the west
Highlanders " Duffe
Alibawn." Maule's Hist, of the Picts. Buchannan thinks Deu Caledonii ought
Dun Caledones. See also Grant's Thoughts on the Gael.
t Ptolemy, lib. xxvii. c. 7. Whittaker. || Critical Essay.
U Tighearnach. Caradoc of Llancarvon, &c. ** See P'nkerton's Enquiry.
it The princes are styled Reguli bv Fordun. sub. an. 1159, &c In 1308, " Gal
was not parcel of the crown." MS. in Brit. Mus.
53 DIFFERENCE IN MANNERS AND LANGUAGE.
ard of Hexham says the Picts of David's army were vulgarly called
GALLEWEIENSES. Gallovid, says Buchannan, in old Scots, is a Gaul;
and what the Scots call Gallowithia, the Welsh pronounce Wallowithia
So Talliesen calls the Principality, Wallia, and the Saxons called the
inhabitants Bryt vvealas, which they latinized Gauli.* The inhabitants
were also called what, in fact, they were, Scoti,t and this division of
Scotland was anciently of much greater extent than it is now. It com-
prehended all the tract of land from the Solway Frith to the Clyde.
From charters of David I., the town of Irwine, with Kyle, Cunningham,
Renfrew, &.c. constituted part of this extensive district; and hence Gal-
loway was able to offer so much as two thousand marks, with five hund-
red cows, and as many hogs yearly, for the King of England's protec-
tion, when, in 1174, they attempted to assert their independence on the
Scots' crown. J Nor were the Picts confined to Galloway, but about
the beginning of the twelfth century inhabited Lothian. }
The conjectures of etymologists are often as unsatisfactory as they
are numerous. Investigations of this kind are both useful and instruct-
ive when judiciously pursued, but they are often absurd or frivolous.
The impropriety of deriving this word from the Latin Picti, painted, has
been often noticed. .These people could not be solely entitled to the ap-
pellation, when the other tribes equally practised the custom of staining
It is easy to perceive that the nature of the country inhabited by the
Picts, must have in time produced a difference between them and the
Caledonians, although both of the same race. There were natural
boundaries by which the two nations were separated, and which must
for some months in the year have precluded all intercourse. It is not,
therefore, singular, that people originally the same, should become dis-
tinguished from each other, and acquire peculiar names. The nature of
their territories must have produced a change in national manners, and
rendered their avocations different. A native of the flat country of
Moray or Buchan was not likely to be expert in those pursuits that were
the favorite recreations of the people of the high countries of Mar or
Badenoch; nor could a Highlander easily accommodate himself to'a
residence on the plain. It is the opinion of General Roy, that the Picts
and Caledonians were the same people, who acquired different names
from their local situation. j|
The LANGUAGE, from the same causes, must undergo a change, which
in process of time will become very perceptible. It has already been
shown that the languages of Gaul were but different dialects of the same
speech; it appears equally certain that those of Britain were at one time
the same. When we find the Gaelic, as used. in Scotland and Ireland,
* Whittaker, Dr. Mac Pherson, &.c. Walsh, in German, is the name for a Gaul
t Isodorus, Origines, ix. 2. J Guthrie, &c.
Alexander Nechnmus, quoted by Goodall, in pref. ut sup
H Military \ntiquities, p. 129.
GAELIC THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE. 59
the Welsh, the Cornish, which is but lately lost, and the Manx, all
variations of the Celtic, spoken in the British islands, we can readily
admit the observation of Bede, that the language of the Picts differed
from that of the Britons of Wales, and the Scots of Ireland, without
giving up our belief in their national identity. Camden shows that the
British and Pictish tongues were alike,* and the different languages of
Bede could only have been dialects, a conclusion to which Buchannan
came, for this reason chiefly, that none of these nations appeared to have
required an interpreter.
It is asserted that the original Celts were expelled from the low coun-
try of Scotland upwards of 2000 years ago, by a people who spoke a dif-
ferent language, and who are said to have been of Cumraeg extract ;|
if so, there ought to be some remains of their speech ; but the local names
in the east and south of Scotland are not Welsh-, but Scotish Gaelic,
and are "far too numerous to be the relics of a language, which has
been expelled from those parts of the country for 2000 years.",
It has been attempted to prove that the Picts were Goths from Scan-
dinavia, by whom the Saxon language was introduced, and fixed along
the south and east coasts, and to support this system the public have been
favored with etymologies " altogether imaginary and ill founded. "J
Those who maintain the opinion and cite the languages of Bede, ought
not to forget that he expressly says the Pictish was different from the
Saxon; but the whole argument founded on the Saxon language of the
low country, I apprehend, is overthrown by the fact, that in Galloway,
the last sovereignty of the Picts, the native tongue which continued to be
spoken in the time of Queen Mary, was Gaelic, for which Buchannan,
being conversant with that language, is an unexceptionable authority.
Pinkerton himself acknowledges that it was spoken until lately in Carrick.
The dreary forests, the sterile and forbidding wastes of Scandinavia,
so far from having been the officina gentium,, whence nations were sent
forth to overspread and people Europe, and from which fecund store-
house is said to have issued, that Gothic colony from which the Picts
were descended, must have remained desert and unoccupied by mankind
until comparatively recent times.
Adarn of Bremen, who wrote in the eleventh century, says, that even
in his time, the shores only of Denmark were inhabited, the interior
being an impenetrable forest ;|j and Gibbon asserts that Scandinavia,
twenty centuries ago, must in all the low parts have been covered by
the sea: the high lands only rising above the water, like islands. TC
That Scotland, in the time of the Romans, and long after, was inhab-
ited by Caledonians and Picts, as it has been since by Highlanders and
Lowlanders, is perfectly clear; that both were of Celtic origin seems ab-
solutely certain. Differences existed between the inhabitants of certain
* Dr. Mac Pherson. t Pinkerton.
t Dr. Murray's remarks on the history and language of the Pehts in Trans, of
Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. ii. part 1.
Lib. i. 11. || Diss. on the Scyths, p. 23. II c. be.
60 INTRODUCTION OF THE GOTHIC LANGUAGE.
districts, either arising from local position and peculiar circumstances,
or produced by the intermixture of colonies subsequently arriving. The
parts possessed by the Picts were better adapted for agriculture and
commerce than the rugged wilds of Caledonia; and it is from their set-
tled lives and attention to manufactures, that the Highland traditions
represent them as an ingenious, rather than a warlike people. An early
change, therefore, took place among the inhabitants of the low country,
for those pursuits invariably lead to mutations in language and manners;
and the observation of a learned gentleman respecting the Gaelic is per-
fectly just, "Rocks, seas, and deserts, ignorance, sterility, and want
of commerce, are its best preservatives."*
It has been shown that the language of the eastern Celts on the con-
tinent, became first corrupted by the Gothic, which was itself derived
from the primitive Celtic.f " The most ancient remains of the German
or Teutonic approach very near to the Mcesa Gothic, "J and the Anglo
Saxon was immediately derived from the old Saxon of Germany.
The Gothic was long established among the Northern nations, and in
England, before it was introduced into Scotland or Ireland;. and in those
early ages, it was so pure that the people of remote countries found no
difficulty in understanding each other. In the time of Ethelred, 979, an
Englishman could converse with a Scandinavian, and could not, from his
tongue, know him to be a foreigner.||
The inhabitants of the south and east of Scotland, advancing into a
state of civilisation, in consequence of an intercourse with England and
other parts, were prepared, and, as it were, forced, gradually, to admit
the Saxon language; but the vernacular tongue of the Picts continued to
predominate. In the reign of Malcolm-Cean-more, towards the end of
the eleventh century, none of the clergy could understand the Saxon
without an interpreter.
Improvements in commerce and agriculture induced the settlement of
strangers; the progress of refinement occasioned the introduction of
many new terms, and paved the way for fixing, in the lowlands, the
Saxon language, to which several circumstances greatly conduced.
In 547, Ida, king of Northumberland, with an army of Anglo Saxons,
took possession of the lower part of Roxburgh, and seized Lothian, a
term which there is reason to believe was then applied to the south as
well as north side of the Tweed. This invasion is, however, not likely
to have made that alteration in the language!! which is supposed, even
although the invaders had settled in the conquered provinces, for they
must, as it is admitted the colonies from Germany and Scandinavia did,
have eventually merged in the Celtic tribes. Oswy, King of the Nor-
danhyrnbri, or people of Northumberland, about 650, reduced the
* " Nt xt to valuable books and permanent records." Dr. M'Pherson.
t See p. 25
| Jamieson's observations on Dr. Murray's remarks, ut sup.
De Murr's Conspectus Biblioth. Glot. Univers. ap. Jamieson, ut sup.
11 Gunlaug saga. Heimskringla, ap. Jamieson. H Border Antiquities.
ITS LATE RECEPTION IN SOME PARTS. 61
Scots and Picts, who -lived between the Tweed and Forth, and exacted
tribute from them until 685, when the Picts recovered their possessions
During this period, the Saxon language, it is believed, first began to
be used in the south; but on the Norman invasion, the Royal family
of .England, the principal nobility, with their attendants and others,
who would not submit to the conquerors, took refuge in Scotland; and
Malcolm murried the princess Margaret, sister to Edgar Atheling, and
harrassed the borders with fire and sword. So many refugees on this
occasion accepted the protection of the Scotish King, that Simeon of
Durham tells us the kingdom was " stocked with English men and
maid servants, so that, to this day, there is not a farm house, or even a
cottage, where they are not to be found."* On the death of the Con-
queror, and defeat of the rebellion against his successors, many Normans
also retired to Scotland, and Malcolm, with much policy, settled them
chiefly on the borders of his kingdom, and in the towns on the east coast
that were exposed to the frequent invasions of the Danes. " The towns
and boroughs of Scotland," says William of Newburgh, " are known to
be inhabited by the English;" but when an opportunity offered, he adds,
"the Scots, from an innate hatred towards them, which they dissembled
from a fear of offending the king, destroyed all whom they found."
The Celts were averse to live in towns and submit to sedentary occupa-
tions, or apply themselves to commercial pursuits; hence the Saxons,
Normans, Flemings, and others, were generally the inhabitants of the
Boroughs, and advantageously pursued those trades which the natives
had little inclination to acquire. f Through their means, chiefly, the
Saxon was propagated, for it had become the language most generally
understood in Europe. It was, as it were, the court language during
the reign of Malcolm, and the influence, which this must have had even
in those days, is easily conceived. Besides, all our kings, from Mal-
colm-Cean-more to Alexander II., lived some time in England, learned
the language and married English princesses.
To those who maintain that the Gothic was the language of the Picts,
or who assert that the limits of the two languages have always continued
the same, or nearly so, it is to be mentioned that, so late as the reign of
Q:ieen Mary, the Gaelic was spoken in the Gariach, Aberdeenshire,
where it is now entirely unknown, and was even taught in the schools of
Aberdeen. In Ireland, the nobility and gentry continued to use this
language until the time of Elizabeth, or James the First. J The Saxon
has continued to gain ground in both countries, and must inevitably, at
no very distant period, wholly supplant the Gaelic.
It is not the Saxon language alone that has excited the investigation
of antiquaries; the Dalriads are said to have brought over their native
tongue, which, according to some writers, they disseminated all over
* Lib. ii. c. 34. t See all ancient Charters, and other documents.
t Highland Society's ed. of Ossian. About 1019, the use of the Irish
deeds, was discontinued. Trans, of Ir. Acad.
62 THE SCOTS AN UNMIXED RACE.
Scotland, a proof not only that the Scots' Monarchy was derived from
Ireland, but that the people spoke a different language. Chalmers, who
allows the Gaelic of North Britain to be the purest, believes he has
proved the introduction of the Irish dialect, by citing a charter which
refers to " Inverin qui fuit Aberin." This is any thing but satisfactory;
he means to show that the Irish Inbhear supplanted the Scotish Abar or
Aber. Inver, here used with in, an island or country, signifies the land
which lies between the confluence of two rivers, and Aber, which seems
to be the original word, is generally applied in the same sense. Aber,
however, properly denotes marsh and boggy ground, but as this place
lay on the east coast, it had been probably drained by the industrious
Picts, and could no longer, with propriety, be called Aber-in. Abar is
a compound word, from Ab, an obsolete Gaelic term for water, which,
as may be seen in many names still existing, became softened into Av.
Bar, is a heap, a height, or point. Now the Caledonians generally chose
marshes as the sites of their entrenchments, and many Highlanders I
have found yet understand by abar, a work, as of an earthen mound, a
trench, &c. If, however, the language of the Eirinich differed from that
of the Scotish Gael, which it is said to have supplanted, no tradition or
valid proof remains to attest it; and if the Dalriads brought over their
guage, they did so effectually, for they have left no Invers behind them.
At the Roman abdication of Britain, in 446, there was only one race
of men in Scotland, the sixteen tribes north of Antonine's wall, and the
five between the praetentures, who were in some degree civilized by the
The Caledonians and Picts were, therefore, from all that is related by
the ancients, from the investigations of modern writers, and from the
undeniable identity of language, two divisions of one and the same Cel-
tic people; and I see no objection to our believing, with Innes, that the
Picts were " the first known people of the North," although it is not so
apparent that they were, as he says, "the second in order of time."
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.