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Chapter I. - Prehistoric Modes


THE Palaeolithic age, or that which precedes the period of polished stone, has two epochs. The earlier presents man chipping into tools flint nodules and pebbles; in the latter he is fashioning implements from the flake after it has been detached from the nodule. Within Scottish caves are traces of the posterior epoch only. And in examining these scenes of archaic life, whether on the sea-board, or by the river bank, it is to be kept in view that there are generally present not traces only of primeval occupancy, but of possession at several eras of a later age. In caverns on the eastern coast, the Viking sought shelter from the storm. And there long afterwards did the Christian missionary establish his oratory, or resort for meditation. within the weems of Dysart, St Serf of the fifth century performed his ascetic vows, and in the caves of Caiplie and Fifeness, St Adrian four centuries later sought repose amidst his evangelistic labours. In the caves by each class of occupants have been left memorials of their presence, in tools or weapons, or incised markings, and in Christian times by the symbol of the cross. The later period of the Palaeolithic age, commencing before Britain was separated from the Continent, extends to that point of human history when some of the dispersed at Babel penetrated to north-western shores. On the part of the posterior cave-men there was an intelligent constructiveness. Their implements were of two sorts; those used in procuring food, and those adapted for providing lodgment. For the slaughter of birds and land animals were formed arrow-heads of flint and bone, which were attached to reeds, or slips of wood, and then propelled from a bow. Fish-spears were of deer-horn. A flake of pebble or quartzite was used as the hunter's knife. The skins of slain animals were sun-dried and then used as garments, being made fast to the shoulders by pins of bone. Fire was obtained by friction, that is by rubbing smartly together portions of hard wood, or striking flint against a piece of iron pyrites. By fire so kindled boulder stones were made hot, which were then applied to the carcases intended for use as food. There was no pottery, a stone-slab forming the rude platter. To secure the marrow, bones were broken with water-worn stones gathered on the strand. When hunting did not yield the needed supplies, the cave-man satisfied his hunger by feeding on the whelk and limpet. The ordinary food of the Caledonian cave-man was the flesh of deer, also of the goat and the wild boar. The tools by which domiciliary comfort was secured, consisted of chisels and hatchets, constructed of flint and splits of the harder rock. The hatchet ranged in length from four to fifteen inches, and in breadth from one to four; at one end it was made sharp. By thongs attached to a wooden handle, it was vigorously applied to the tree till a deep indentation was procluced. Thereafter, at the point of cleavage, fire was applied, and the work of felling perfected. Into the fallen trunk flint chisels were driven by mallets, and logs thereby secured.

From the mountains of Central Asia various tribes penetrated into Europe, and with them introduced the Neolithic age. These Ugric settlers reached the British coast in coracles of wicker covered with hides. From the Palaeolithic races they differed, inasmuch as their tools and weapons were not rough but polished. The smoothness of their implements indicated their own advance in civilization. Tool manufactories were established, at which weapons were formed of symmetrical shapes, and with boles bored in them for the reception of handles. The purchase of tools at these manufactories originated inland commerce. With the new and better formed stone implements were felled the larger trees, which, scooped by hatchets, were converted into canoes, as substitutes for the earlier coracles. These canoes were often forty feet in length, and of an average breadth of four feet. Sharp at prow and stern, so as to be moved either way, they were propelled by paddles, sails being unknown.

The Ugric or Turanian settlers of the Neolithic age used hides as clothing, as had done the earlier races. By fishing and by the chase they derived subsistence. They also raised grain, for querns or grain crushers are found in their dwellings. Some of these querns are of wood.

A chief feature in the Neolithic age is the formation of sepulchres. How the cave races disposed of their dead does not appear; the Turanians had recourse to burial. Yet the word burial does not convey with absolute precision the intention of the Uric races in the disposal of bodies. It was their doctrine that a material existence continued after death, and that those departed from this life continued the invisible occupants of their former haunts. In Turanian fancy the tomb was a theatre of activity, from which the deceased could chase the deer upon the mountain, or track the wild hoar to his lair in the forest. Hence was the life dwelling of the chief reserved as his habitation in the viewless world after lie was gone. Thus the mythical Semiramis is said to have buried her husband in the palace of Nineveh, and the early Egyptians reared pyramids over the bodies of their kings.

British settlers of the Neolithic age at first eon-signed their dead to the lesser caves. But this practice was not long continued. Their dwellings, like the primitive Asiatic tent, were formed of logs, in conical shape and converging to a point. The occupant, when he died, was, in a sitting posture, placed in the centre, surrounded by his weapons and household implements. The entrance was now made fast, and the dwelling abandoned: when it fell by age or by the ravages of the tempest, the wreck was gathered into a heap. Hence arose the primeval cairn. The log dwelling was superseded by the tent-like house of mud and stone, a structure common at the Roman invasion, and which in recent times was represented in the Bur of the Hebrides, and by the lowland Caer.

The tribes of the Neolithic period varied in physique. Those which settled in South Britain were short in stature, with large heads, dark eyes, and prominent cheek-bones. By Taeitus they are described as planted in South Wales, where they were known as the Silures. Apparently a Basque family, they probably migrated from Spain. The Ugric races of the north were large-boiled and muscular; they were probably descendants of the Jetten, a gigantic race commemorated in Danish legend.

In the popular superstitions linger memories of the Neolithic age. In Sweden a polished stone is used as a protection against lightning, and in the Scottish highlands and in Ireland elf arrows, mounted in silver, are worn around the neck as a preventive of sorcery.

By the Celts, a great Aryan family which from the eastern shores of the Caspian sea had made early settlements in Germany and Gaul, was established in Britain a new epoch. To these shores they were attracted by the mineral treasures on the Cornish coast. Crossing the channel in their canoes, the Celts first settled at the mines of Cornwall, the Silures on their approach retiring into Wales. But they soon spread everywhere, and were hailed as benefactors: their manners were gentle, and they gave instruction in religion and the arts. Familiar with the mode of fusing and working and mixing metals, they constructed weapons and implements of bronze. They introduced the bronze age.

Of the bronze age, the earlier implements were moulded in forms resembling those of the Neolithic period. For a time, indeed, tools of bronze and polished stone were used simultaneously, a circumstance which implies that the intruding race did not attempt the general displacement of their Ugric predecessors. At length the British races, Aryan and Ugric, merged into one family.

What form of speech was used by the earlier race may not be ascertained. Place-names, derived from the Basque language, occasionally occur; but these might have been imposed by those who accompanied the pioneers of commerce from Iberian shores. As a rule, place-names are of Celtic origin. In South Devon and Cornwall place-names and prefixes occur, which are also common in Fife and Argyle, and in all the provinces of Ireland.

To their localities the Celts imparted names, solely in reference to their topical features. The island was called Britain from the compound word Brait-an, signifying a high country. The northern part was styled Albyn—that is, the region of the high mountains. Separated into two divisions, the Celts established distinct settlements; the Cimbri were planted in the south, the Cruithne in Ireland. From Ireland the Cruithne sent colonies into Albyn. By the Romans the Cimbri and Cruithne were distinguished as the southern and northern Picts. Deriving from the same source, and undisturbed by any influences which were not common to both, the two races were unlikely, at the expiry of a thousand years, to evince any prominent variety. When Caesar sets forth that they painted with woad, he referred to the practice whereby these early races described coloured stripes on their knees and lower limbs, so denoting the families or septs to which they belonged. This practice originated the tartan of Celtic clans. The Cruithne who effected settlements in Scotland were styled Albanach, subsequently Caledonians, from the words coille, a forest, and dun, enclosed or impregnable.

Subsequent to the plantation in Britain of the Celtic race a refining influence supervened. From their territories on the eastern shore of time Mediterranean sea the Phoenicians sent colonies eastward and westward. They were brethren of the ancient Hittites, that people whom Joshua dispossessed, and with whose descendants, the Philistines, the Hebrews were perpetually at war. Unlike the Hittites, who were idle and sensual, the Phoenicians were frugal and industrious. By skilled work men, they felled the oaks of Lebanon, which at Sidon and Tyre they converted into ships. Sidon was founded B.C. 2200, and a few centuries later Phoenicians colonies studded the coasts of the Mediterranean, also the shores of the Ęgean and the Euxine.

Sailing into the Atlantic, the Phoenicians planted Gades or Cadiz, and from thence procured, with other metals, tin and lead. It is held by Sir John Lubbock that Cadiz was founded between B.C. 1500 and B.C. 1200, and if this opinion is correct, it is not improbable that the tin and lead which, B.C. 1452, the Hebrews obtained among the spoils of Midian were by way of Spain brought from the shores of Britain. That the Phoenicians traded with Britain, or rather with the isles of the Cassiterides, we learn from Herodotus, and as the fleets of Solomon and Hiram, which proceeded to Cadiz together nearly a thousand years before our era, occupied three years in a single voyage, it is probable that the delay arose in waiting the return from Britain of the mineral-laden ships.

In Cornwall, about eighteen miles W.S.W. of Falmouth, is Marazion, a small town occupied by workers in the tin and copper mines of that neighbourhood. The name is of Hebrew derivation. During the Saxon period Jews were numerous in the south of Britain. May some of the Hebrew people have accompanied into this country the Phoenician traders? The tribe of Asher included in their original inheritance "the strong city Tyre," and Zebulou dwelt "at the haven of ships, with his border unto Zidon."  Of these tribes, some members may have been employed as wood-hewers in the forests of Lebanon, or at Tyre as ship-builders. In the reign of Solomon, most probably also in that of David, Phoenician and Israelitish merchantmen traded in common. When afterwards the Jews fell upon evil times, those made captives in war were enslaved by the Phoenicians. The name Marazion may point to a bitter wail from captive Hebrews. And the prediction of Moses, when he spoke of the tribe of Zebulon as partaking of "the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand,"  may have reference to their planting colonies on a distant sea-board, and digging metallic dust on the shores of Britain.

Through the port of Cadiz did British Celts maintain with Phoenicia a close and uninterrupted trade. From Tyre, Sidon, and other Mediterranean ports were brought into this country, in exchange for metals, commodities such as salt and pottery; also flax and wool. The art of weaving was carried westward. So was ornamental work in jewels. Foreign artists fashioned, of amber found upon the coasts, beads, perforated knobs, and brooches; shells were converted into drinking vessels. In the days of Ossian drinking shells were "studded with gems."

In memory of Eden, the early settlers in Mesopotamia consecrated droves, and worshipped under the canopy of oaks. Abraham, we are informed, "planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the Lord." In the earlier times God was in the grove worshipped under the name of Baal, that is as master or possessor—the universe being regarded as his temple, the earth as his altar. As the benignant source of light and Beat, the sun was revered. as Taal's chief vicegerent; latterly, the sun was called Baal and worshipped. Ashtaroth, or the moon, became "the goddess of the Zidonians."

The grove of worship originally stood in the sheltered vale. Next it was planted on the hill-side, afterwards on eminences. At length its shelter was dispensed with, and religious ceremonies were performed on high places, unsheltered and unenclosed. So degraded had become the Canaanitish votaries of Baal Peor, that not their worship only was proscribed, but themselves doomed to extinction. To the Hebrews was the command given to destroy their altars "upon the high mountains, upon the hills, and under every green tree." Yet the rites of Baal proved a constant stumbling-block to the Israelites, and at the expiry of a thousand years, after the first public condemnation of the idol, it became needful for a prophet to express the Divine command, "Call me no more Baali."

From Mesopotamia, the idolatrous rites of Baal spread to India on the east, and by Phoenician traders were carried north-westward to Gaul and Britain. In the latter countries the priests of Baal were termed Druids—a word which, both in the Greek language and in the Celtic, signifies oaks or oak-worshippers. In northern Europe Baal became a common prefix. Familiar in the Lofodden Isles, to which the Phoenicians traded, it gave, through the same instrumentality, a name to the Baltic Sea. Throughout Britain and Ireland, the prefix Baal or Bel occurs everywhere. There are Baal hills in Yorkshire.

On the mountains of Moab and the hills of Philistia, sacrificial fires had blazed to the idol god. Bullocks were originally offered, but as degeneracy made its baneful progress, the votaries of Baal surrendered in sacrifice their sons and daughters. This "passing through the fire to Moloch " was especially condemned by the Hebrew prophets.' Within the area of twelve Scottish counties may be traced on fifty hill-tops the remains of ancient fires. These fires exhibit a fusion of portions of the harder rock as in a reverberatory furnace. Described as vitrified forts, it is forgotten that such forts had no real existence. Nor do the spots at which these fused masses are found exhibit any traces of structural arrangement. They were the scenes of Baal fires at which sacrifices were rendered to the suit and moon. (Large boulders, ascribed to volcanic origin, and scattered on northern moors, are popularly known as "heathens." May not these be the remains of Druidic altars or sacrificial heaps?) " Raise my standard on high," cried Fingal, ''spread them on Lena's wind, like the flames of an hundred hills."

The prevalence of Druidic sacrifices in North Britain is testified by existing usages. On Beltane Baal's fire), or May-day, the Druids upon their altars celebrated the renewal by the sun of his vernal power. Two fires were kindled, one upon a heap of stones, the other upon the soil. Between these were passed the animals which were devoted in sacrifice. Human victims were enclosed in willow baskets, and in these cast upon the flames.

Such practices are by existing observances obviously perpetuated. Through a perforated monolith at Burnharn, in Yorkshire, also through the great stones of Odin at Stennis, sick children are on Mayday passed by their parents, in the hope of cure. At the Beltane festival, observed in the northern counties, children kindle great fires, and, as part of a ceremonial, rush wildly through the flames. In the counties of Ross and Sutherland, young men formerly walked round the Baal fires carrying branches of the mountain ash garnished with sprigs of heath. On their feast days the Druids carried about oak branches bearing the mistletoe. Water boiled at Beltane fires is believed to acquire medicinal virtues. Cakes toasted at Baal fires are held to be spiritually sustaining. These fires were kindled by peculiar rites. On the evening of the 30th April, the usual fires were extinguished. Early next morning men selected for the duty assembled secretly to raise teine-eigen, or need fire. They rubbed together portions of hard wood, or turned an augur in a dry log till fire was procured. Into fire so raised young men dipped torches, which they bore hastily to their respective villages, and thence to the nearest eminence. Horns were blown, and a procession formed. Formerly Beltane sports were continued from early morn till late at eve. In Scotland they can be traced to the time of James I., who reigned from 1124 to 1437. In his poem of "Peebles to the Play," James refers to the Beltane sports in these lines :—

"At BeItane, when ilk body bounis
To Peebles to the play,
To hear the singin' and the soundis,
The solace, sooth to say.

By firth and forest, forth they foun,
They graithit them fu' gay;
God wot, that wald they do that stoun,
For it was their feast day,
They said
Of Peebles to the play."

Beltane rites, with the worship of the sun and moon, were condemned by Canute early in the eleventh century.

The festival of Hallowe'en is, in the Highlands, perpetuated by fires upon the hill-sides; and in the Lowlands by a course of domestic rites. As the feast of in gathering, Hallowe'en was formerly celebrated at cairns, and hence is the harvest-home familiarly known as the kirn. Yule, the modern Christmas, was also kept as a Druidic feast; the sun was then supposed to begin his increase. The two fires of Baal are perpetuated in a Gaelic proverb; when, in the Highlands, anyone is in difficulty, or on the horns of a dilemma, he is described as "between the fires of Baal."

In the practice of their rites British Druids indulged a course of lustration. Commemorative of the waters of the deluge purifying the earth, a peculiar reverence was attached to water proceeding from the clouds. Hand-washing in snow-water is, as an emblem of innocency, mentioned in the book of Job. Cisterns for rain water were prized by the Hebrews, and it was a pledge by Rabshakeh to the besieged of Jerusalem that each would receive his own cistern. Rain water in different forms was, by the Syrians and Arabians, used in their religious rites. In Egypt, rain, which seldom falls, was collected in troughs, and appropriated to sacred uses. The Egyptians purified themselves with. snow water. The Greeks used rainwater in their libations; they also sprinkled themselves with dew.

At their altars, the Druids used rain-water cisterns, which were scooped in rocks, also in flags and upon rocking-stones. From these, the priests, after performing personal ablutions, sprinkled the people. Near these cisterns, we learn from Pliny, were grown certain plants which, immersed in rain-water, were supposed to yield healing qualities. Of these plants the more reputed were the selago and the samolus, or round leaved water-pimpernel.

Before pulling the selago, the priest made personal ablution and clothed himself in a surplice or white vestment. In rain-water in which the selago was clipped, sick children were bathed for cure. The leaves of the samolus were gathered by the priest fasting, and then plunged into a small cistern, for the cure of cattle.

The more remarkable rock-basins of this country exist in Cornwall and South Wales. Of the former we are informed in his "Antiquities," ("Antiquities of Cornwall," by William Borlase, LL.D., F.R.S. Lond., 1769; folio. To this erudite work, much too little known among northern antiquaries, we have pleasure in referring. Those desirous of prosecuting the study of archaic customs ought to become acquainted with this book.) by Borlase; of the latter, by Leland in his "Itinerary." Borlase describes circumstantially the rock-basins of Karnbie Hill in the parish of Illogan; also those on a group of rocks at Bosworlar, near Penwith. At both places the basins are isolated, also in groups ; and are scooped in the level surfaces of rocks rising about twenty feet above the common level.

The rock-basins of Cornwall vary from six feet to a few inches in diameter, and from three feet to a few inches in depth. Where the basins exist in groups they are connected by grooves, through which the contents of the upper cavities are conducted to those on a lower level, and ultimately discharged into the soil.

Rain-water cisterns resembling those of Cornwall and South Wales are to be found in the rocks of Plumpton in Yorkshire. In a valuable paper on "Cup-marked Stones," (Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 1881-2; new series, vol. iv., pp. 482-6.) lately contributed to the Scottish Society of Antiquaries, Mr William Jolly, F. R. S. E., refers to several rock-basins discovered by him in Inverness-shire. Among these he found in a field near Fingal's Hill, at the head of Strathglass, a small block of hornblende schist, containing a basin six inches in diameter; also in the old graveyard of Comar on the banks of the Beauly, two blocks of whinstone, each pierced with basins about eight inches in diameter. Near the "but circles," in the Black Isle of Taendore (house of treasure), he found a stone embedded in the soil presenting a basin eight inches in diameter and of similar depth. And we learn from the "New Statistical Account of Scotland" that at Kiltearn in Ross-shire there formerly existed near a megalithic circle a basin of the diameter of eight feet.' Four miles to the south of St Andrews, near the parish church of Dunino, is a rock basin, resembling in form those of Cornwall and Wales. Scooped in the level summit of a sandstone rock, which rises with perpendicular from towards the channel of a small stream, it is four feet eight inches in upper diameter, with a depth of two feet four inches. It receives its contents solely from the clouds, and is without any visible outlet. A mass of stones, which resembled those of a cromlech, lay on a portion of rising ground about forty yards to the eastward. This heap was removed early in the century. In the locality of the basin the plant selago grows luxuriantly.

A system of lustration lingers among the peasantry. On the morning of May-day country maidens ascend the hills to anoint their faces in dew, thereby to secure beauty and good fortune. Dipping in a tub for apples is one of the diversions at Hallowe'en. Another of these consists in three tubs being placed on the hearth, into one of which is poured clean, and into a second foul water, while the third is kept empty. From a given point a party of young bachelors advance blindfolded, each to dip a finger in one of the vessels. He who dips in the clean water has augury of wedding a maid; he who dips in the soiled water will marry a widow; and to the dipper in the empty tub is reserved a life of celibacy.

By the early Christian teachers, rock-basins, as associated with Pagan mysteries, were discountenanced, while wells of spring-water were recommended in their stead. At spring wells were converts baptised and received into the Church, and many wells are in consequence associated with the early teachers, and denoted by their names. Pilgrimages to wells were common at the period of the Reformation, and the frequenting of wells supposed to be consecrated, was a prevalent custom of the seventeenth century. In some parts of the Highlands the practice continues.

In the east a small round pebble was worshipped as a symbol of the sun. By the Druids a waterworn crystal of oval shape was worn round the neck; it was styled glan-nathair, or the adder-cleanser. Rain water, in which it was dipped, was held to possess the power of Healing, and was with this intent sprinkled among the sickly.

Amulets worn by the Druids were, when Christianity was introduced, not thrown wholly aside. By St Columba a white stone or pebble was sent to the Pictish sovereign in token of his regard. To sceptres, maces, and pastoral staves were rock crystals affixed. An egg-shaped crystal is inserted in front of the pendant part of the quigrich or crosier of St Filhui. The duigrich was, at the battle of Bannockburn, held up by the Abbot of Inchaffray, to encourage the Scottish army on the eve of conflict. (St Fillan's crosier is now deposited in the Museum at Edinburgh of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries.) Rock crystals, belonging to the families of Stewart of Ardvoirlich and Lockhart of Lee, were formerly believed to impart to water a healing efficacy. On the margins of lakes and rivers are found halls of greenstone, also of bronze, which are associated with superstitious rites. In shape both round and oval, they vary in diameter from one and a half to three inches. Some are divided into hemispheres, ornamented with incised spirals ; others represent scrolls and zoomorphic emblems.

Of Druidic authority, a chief symbol was the rocking-stone. In presence of a priesthood, who could move rocks by touch, their votaries trembled. Rocking stones are found at Druidic centres. They were styled clacha breth, or stones of judgment. The rocking-stones of Cornwall and of the Scilly isles are of vast bulk. In Scotland the more conspicuous clacha breth are those at Kilbarchan in Renfrewshire, at Kells, Kirkcudbrightshire, and at Balvaird and Dron, Perthshire. The majority of these stones are artificially poised; the others are natural The rocking-stone seems to have suggested the cromlech or stone-in-suspension. Upon two or four upright stones or flags a few feet apart was placed a dolmen or cromlech. As the people passed under it, the Druid priest blessed and sprinkled them. In his "Antiquities," Borlase describes a remarkable dolmen at Constantine, in Cornwall. Placed on the points of two natural rocks in a manner so that a man might walk beneath it, the cromlech is 97 feet in circumference, and weighs about 750 tons. On the summit it is honey-combed into basins or cisterns. Within the megalithic circle, the cromlech was usually assigned a central place.

In earlier times grove-worship obtained extensively. A space of ground, varying in extent, was secluded from common use and dedicated to religion. At Karnbie Hill, Cornwall, the scene of rock basins and other Druidic remains, appears an ancient enclosure equal to an English acre. About one hundred yards from the rock basin at Dunino is the parish churchyard, in which, about twenty years ago, was dug up the fragment of a Celtic cross; while a farm-homestead to the eastward is called Balcaithly—that is, Baal in the field—the farm-homestead on the west being designated Balelie, or Baal on the other side. At some distance to the north-westward is Pitandreich, the burial place of the Druids. At Dunino the religious enclosure was probably two miles in circuit.

Localities consecrated as groves or scenes of early worship are known as firth-splots. The superstitious rites of the firth-splot long survived the rites with which it was associated. In the year 967, King Edgar forbade well-worshipping, and the superstitious usages of the firth-splot. But Scottish firth-splot practices proved a source of discomfort to the Church long after the Reformation. In some districts of the country the firth-splot is distinguished as the good -man's croft; in certain parts of the Highlands it is protected from tillage.

By the early Celts were the dead buried within the enclosure of four flags capped by a fifth. The body was placed with the knees drawn up to the chin, as in a sitting posture. Cairns or grave mounds were placed side by side, and being united became barrows. A commemorative pillar stone was at first planted in the centre of the cairn; subsequently, upright stones were placed in circular form upon its edge. The practice was introduced by the Phoenicians. At Bethel, Jacob commemorated his vision of angels by planting a monolith. By a pillar stone, enclosed by a heap, he at Galeed perpetuated his covenant with Laban. When Rachel was buried, he placed a pillar upon her grave. At the base of Sinai Moses reared an altar, also twelve pillars, according to the number of the tribes. By twelve stones at Gilgal, Joshua commemorated the miraculous passage of the Jordan. By a pillar at Ebenezer, Samuel celebrated a victory over the Philistines.

In Bible lands the rearing of pillars, originally commemorative, came to be associated with the corrupt practices of Baal. Pillars so associated the Israelites were commanded to destroy.

By means of their bronze wedges the Celts of Britain readily broke up and separated the sedimentary rocks. From distant quarries were brought rude but majestic pillars to surround the cairns of chiefs and heroes. In the progress of ages circles increased in circumference and in columnar dignity. Under pillars heroes were buried. Upon single arose concentric circles. Next followed circles in groups and with various intersections. Expatiating beyond their original firth-splots, the Druidic priesthood appropriated to the purposes of their religion spots and erections hallowed in popular memories. The mega-ethic circle was converted into a sanctuary or place of worship. There sacrifices were offered, and a deluded people gratified by the sprinkling of heaven-descended water. Hecatous, a Greek historian, who wrote five centuries before Christ, remarks that Britain was remarkable for a magnificent sacred enclosure dedicated to Apollo; also for a circular temple celebrated for its riches. The places so described were doubtless the megalithic structures of Avebury and Stonehenge. When, under the influences of the Christian. faith. Druidism had ceased, the megalithic circle was still regarded with reverential awe. As places of sepulture, Avebury and Stonehenge were restored to their pristine use. At the great circle of Stennis in Orkney, interments have been conducted within the Christian period. Near megalithic circles were built the earlier churches, and on the practice of burial within these enclosures was engrafted the system of interment in the parish church.

When the Highlander desires to be informed whether his neighbour has been at church, he uses words in his enquiry which literally signify, "Have you been at the stones?"

By exercising at cairns a religious ceremonial, the Druidic priesthood were designated carnach or cairn-worshippers. At cairn funerals they sacrificed oxen, and accepted animals for use at the public festivals. Appropriating to their rites the monumental circles, they protected the ashes of the dead, and thus secured the affection of the living.

In eastern countries, where the early disposal of dead bodies is essential to health, arose the system of cremation, the cinerary remains being collected in an earthen vessel or vase. This method preceded that of embalmment, which existed in Egypt so early as the time of Joseph, and in the adjacent countries was continued long afterwards. In Palestine, the remains of royal persons were burned on a funeral pile. Public contempt was evinced towards Jehoram, the wicked king of Judah, inasmuch that no burning for him was made, "like the burning of his fathers." By the Phoenicians the system of cremation was brought into Britain, and while it did not entirely supersede the former mode of burial, it became general. British cincrary urns, unlike those of Etruria, were without ornament. Of circular shape, tapering towards the base, the common urn was about ten inches in height and eight inches in diameter. It was placed in the, soil on its base, but occasionally with the mouth downward, resting on a stone. Along with it were deposited small vessels with food and drink; also weapons, household implements, and personal ornaments.

Inosculating with the funeral urn is the chambered cairn, including stone passages by which the chambers may be reached. To the same age may be assigned the bell-shaped structures peculiar to the northern Celts. These erections, called Bothan (huts) in the Hebrides, are in southern counties styled Burians, and in northern Brochs; they are now generally named burghs or mud-houses. The greater number are to be found in the counties of Sutherland and Caithness; they are also common in Orkney and Shetland. Built of undressed stones and without cement, they present to the eye a circular mass of unbroken masonry. The walls, fifteen and twenty feet in thickness, contain within their compass chambers which open into a court. The court, accessible only by a passage through which a single individual might pass, was protected by a stone door, which no lever might dislodge. Nor would a forcible entrance into the interior court have much availed, since the intruders would have become victims to the besieged, by being smitten with missiles from the galleries and loopholes.

Built upon the banks of rivers, also in the more fertile districts, burgles have been described as store houses. Within the ruins have been found weapons of bronze, and also gold ornaments, impressed with Christian symbols. The Celtic burghs were prototypes of the Christian bell towers, of which specimens remain at Abernethy and Brechin.

During the Neolithic period defence against attacks was maintained by such gigantic earthworks as those of Ratho and Lincluden. The chambered cairn was probably the prototype of the fortifications of Cathairdun (the place of judgment). Of the White Cathairdun, the circumvallating wall, of undressed stone, is in breadth twenty-seven feet. But four and five circtunvallatiug walls were not uncommon in Caledonian forts. They were ordinarily approached by underground roadways, roofed with large stones, and which opened from a covered gallery, effectually concealed.

The precaution which led the Phoenicians to build their city of Tyre upon an island induced their colonists who settled in Britain to suggest the crannog, and to construct it. In some of the larger lakes, crannog-builders selected shallows or small islets, on which they raised platforms of clay and stone, supported by timber stakes. Upon these platforms they erected log dwellings, into which in times of peril they conveyed their stores. Scottish crannogs were most numerous; their remains are found in the lochs of the southern and western counties also in the northern provinces, except in the two northernmost counties. Within crannog-islets have been found carved ornaments in bone and jet, also handles of deer horn, querns, and bronze implements. In the Ayrshire crannogs have been picked up articles in wood-work, incised with Druidic symbols, and remains associated with the early Christian age. Crannog-building, from first to last, extended over a period of about fifteen hundred years. The crannog dwellers lived on venison, water-fowl, and shell-fish.

The crannog preceded the stone-built castle, also surrounded by water. The earlier stone strongholds were built on islets, then on edges of lakes and rivers, and partly enclosed by them; latterly in situations which admitted of fosse and rampart.

The earlier means of offensive warfare were most imperfect. But the Phoenicians brought with them the war chariot; every other mode of explaining the introduction of so destructive an appliance is unsatisfying. The war chariot was an important equipment in Philistian armies, and from the time of Joshua was much dreaded by the Hebrews. Brought into Britain it proved against the rebellious natives most formidable and resistless. The British war chariot was balanced so as not to overturn. Studded with spears, it was among the enemy's ranks driven furiously. Ossian thus describes the chariot of Cuchullin—"The car, the car of war, comes on, like the flame of death! the rapid car of Cuchullin, the noble son of Semo! It lends behind like a wave near a rock—like the sun-streaked mist of the heath. Its sides are embossed with stones, and sparkle like the sea round the boat of night. Of polished yew is its beam; its seat of the smoothest bone. The sides are replenished with spears; the bottom is the footstool of heroes! Before the right side of the car is seen the snorting horse. The high-maned, broad-breasted, proud, wide-leaping, strong steed of the hill. Loud and resounding is his hoof; the spreading of his mane above is like a stream of smoke on the ridge of rocks."

When, in A.D. 80, Agricola led the Roman legionaries into Caledonia, he made an easy conquest of a people ignorant of his approach, and therefore unprepared to resist him. But the conquerors of the world soon found that the inhabitants of the north were more formidable antagonists than the Britons, who had already succumbed to the Roman yoke. According to Tacitus, the Caledonians were large limbed and otherwise resembled the German races. Intermingling with the Ugric race which had preceded them, they also shared the blood of the Scandinavian vikings. At the battle of the Grampians, fought on the heights of Ardoch, they effectively wielded the war chariot, and though ultimately defeated by a people whose profession was conquest, they continued to wage with their invaders a ceaseless conflict. A chain of forts raised by Agricola between the Forth and Clyde, did not prevent combined resistance against the common enemy. Nor did the rampart reared A.D. 120, between the Tyne and Solway, nor the wall between the Forth and Clyde, erected twenty years later, depress the ardour of a valorous people. They refused to acknowledge the supremacy of a race, strange to them in manners and religion, and when after an occupation of three centuries and a half, the Romans retired, their language and habits remained unchanged. Yet the Romans occupied the country with benefit to the natives. By their axes were cut down the forests, and by their implements were morasses trained and embankments formed against intrusion by unfenced waters. They interlaced the country with roads and causeways. Upon the hills they introduced fallow-deer, and into enclosures, the domestic fowl. They imparted a knowledge of the culinary and ceramic arts. To the present day a model of the Roman camp-kettle is found in the broth-pot of every Scottish cottage.

Prior to the Roman invasion, the Fins, a migratory race, passed over Northern Europe. Of these, one or more tribes settled on the eastern sea-board. There they constructed underground habitations, or circle houses, where they lived in concealment. Remains of circle dwellings are frequently discovered in the counties of Forfar and Aberdeen, within one or two miles from the shore. In character they are nearly uniform. There is a central chamber connected with narrow and winding galleries. The sides are formed of rude stones, and the roofs of boughs and sods. Of short stature, the occupants corresponded with the svaltalfer, a small dark people, named in northern sagas. By Tacitus they are described as poor and mean. In the cirde House are found round stones for pounding grain, but no specimen of the quern or hand-mill. To the existence of their occupants may be ascribed the superstitious notions of brownies and hobgoblins with subterraneous homes and capricious habits.

About the year 423 the Romans finally withdrew from Britain, when both on the eastern and western shores appeared a new and adventurous race. Of this race, the Sarmatian founders had from the shores of the Danube and of the Euxine penetrated northward, ultimately effecting settlements between the Baltic and the extremities of the north. The Scandinavians, as they were called, proceeded to exercise their enterprise and employ their energies upon the ocean. From the period of the Fins, they made inroads upon our northern shores. Inlets in which they harboured are to the present day known as wicks; not a few localities, are so named, such as Aberbrothwick on the east coast, and Prestwick upon the west. By intermarriage Scandinavian settlers and the Cruithne became as a single people.

From their Norwegian homes, a body of Scandinavians planted themselves in Antrim, along its northern shore. By the Cruithine they were designated Sgeadaich, clothed, in allusion to their woollen garments. Their place of settlement was styled Dalriada, from the words Dal and ruadh, which together signify the plain of the red-haired.

The Sgeadaich or wool-clothed settlers at Antrim formed an alliance with the Picts, and crossing to Kintyre, only fourteen miles distant, assisted them against the Romans. At length, as we learn from Tighernach, the Irish abbot, they, in 498, under the leadership of Fergus Mor Mac Earea, found outlet for their increasing numbers, on the south part of Argyleshire, north of the Clyde. That new settlement embraced the districts of Cowall, Kintyre, Knapdale, and Argyle, including the isles of Isla, Iona, arid Arran; it also was called Dalriada. The people were now called Scots.

Converts to the Christian faith, prior to their advent in Argyle, the Scots hailed the advent of St Columba, and as a home, granted him Iona. This was in the year 563. By the Scots was the Irish apostle made known to the Pictish king, who listening to his teaching, embraced the Christian faith. Already had the southern Celts, the people of Strathclyde, accepted the Gospel, through the labours of St Ninian.

No sooner had the Scots settled on the western shore than the Saxons began to occupy the coast from the Humber to the Forth. Their settlement was effected without bloodshed, for the invading races were by the Caledonians regarded as brethren rather than as strangers. In planting the southern counties, the Teutons commemorated the previous occupants, by retaining their place names. The hills near Edinburgh were named by them as those of Pentland or Pictland; and to the channel between the mainland and the Orkneys they have the name of the Pentland or Pictland Firth.

With a view to conciliation, the immediate followers of St Columba, and other early apostles of the Christian faith, sought to engraft the new religion on the modes and observances of the old. Christian worship was therefore conducted at cairns and in caverns, also at circles and cromlechs. At ancient firth splots were reared chapels and churches, and portions of ground were there laid out for burial.

Even in the mode of interment the converts to the faith of the Gospel did not abolish pre-existing customs. In the graves were deposited the ornaments which the deceased had worn in life. Gentlewomen were, buried with their finger-rings; the higher clergy in their robes, and with ecclesiastical insignia. As in Pagan times, charcoal was strewn upon the remains. Vessels of holy water and perforated vases of incense were placed in the graves. Incense vessels were so deposited up to the fourteenth century.

In tracing the progress of Druidic rites, we have hitherto left untouched the subject of archaic symbolism. ri he more ancient symbols on cup-marked stones may be traced from the Pyrenees to Scandinavia. Abounding largely in Britain they are especially common in those localities (associated with the Celtic race.

Cup-marks, or round and oval indentations in rocks or in slabs, vary from 1½ to 8 inches in diameter, and in depth from half an inch to 1½ inches. They appear both singly and in groups.

One or two pits on a wide surface are not uncommon, while on a small slab or rock surface these may be traced by hundreds.

These archaic marks appear chiefly on the softer rocks, but they are also incised in granite, porphyry and mica-schist. They are common on cromlechs, the stones of cairns, and megalithic circles.

Cup-marks are at times environed by circular grooves, while two adjoining cups, enclosed by circles, are united by a groove. Some concentric circles present seven rings with a groove passing through each, from the centre to the extremity. (For most important and interesting details respecting the cup-marked stones of Scotland, see Papers by Sir James Y. Simpson, Bart.; J. Romilly Allen, Esq.; and William Jolly, Esq., F.R.S.E., in the "Proceedings of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries," vol. vi., appendix i. ; vol. iv., new series, pp. 79-143, 300- 401.)

Whence the origin and purpose of these archaic sculptures? In common with the cup-markings have been . found at Ohio and Kentucky the polished stone piercers which produced them, and it may therefore be affirmed that they are not less ancient than the transition period of the bronze tide, which followed the Neolithic. On the other hand, cup-marked stones are built into the petrified structures of Laws and of Tappoch, implying that at the period of the Roman invasion these symbolisms were forgotten.

In this country pit-marked stones are unassociated with the national legends. But the Swedish peasantry call the pits elf-stones, and place in them needles, buttons, and other small articles as offerings to the elves. A similar belief exists in Prussia, where pit marks are still sculptured on the walls of churches.

In comparing cup-marked stones with the rock-basins of Cornwall and Wales, with which they inosculate, there appears an identity of origin. The sculptures are sacred books, which the awe-inspired worshipper was required to revere and, probably, to salute with reverence. A single circle represented the Sun, two circles in union, the sun and moon—Baal and Ashtaroth. The wavy groove passing across the circle pointed to the course of water from the clouds, as discharged upon the earth. Groups of pit marks pointed to the stars, or, more probably, to the oaks of the primeval temples.

At its next stage symbolism is more significant. The prevailing symbol is the double disc or spectacle ornament. The discs are united, not by a groove, but a zig-zag. Not improbably the prototype is an arm bent at the elbow; the zig-zap developed into a broken spear with floriated terminals.

The crescent is a common symbol. If in the double disc we remark a representation of the sun and moon, in the crescent we recognise the moon only. As a symbol the crescent appeared at first simple and alone, subsequently as penetrated by a zig-zag or broken spear.

At the third stage of archaic art we are presented with zoomorphic figures, also with representations of articles in household use. Among the animals of an oriental type are the serpent and griffin, each impersonating evil; also the Asiatic elephant, embodying sagacity and strength. The serpent pierced by a spear may symbolise that evil has been overcome.

The comb and mirror are symbols associated with women. By the early Celts females were field in Honour, as preserving the continuity of families. In the superstitious rites of Hallowe'en a comb and mirror are still used by females as divining symbols. On stone monuments in the Hebrides is represented a mermaid holding a comb and mirror. The mermaid is still regarded in the isles with a superstitious reverence. Associated with the mermaid on Hebridean monuments is the galley of the Scandinavian viking, its prow and stern standing high above the deck, on which are displayed a mast and rigging with furled sails.

According to Camden, Greek traders brought into Britain articles of merchandise about 160 B.C. To this era the introduction of iron may be assigned. When iron became in common use, cremation was superseded by burial in enclosed chambers, in which the bodies were extended at full length. Upon the tombs of chiefs were incised representations of battle-axes and unbarbed shields, and on the tombs of females, scissors in the form of sheep shears—that is, working from a spring.

When Christianity was publicly accepted, sculptural forms underwent a material change. In pre-Christian monuments no symbol was duplicated, and figures were incised and of single lines, without any decorative accessories. Sculptures were engraved on one side only. Dedicating to sacred uses the pillars associated with an archaic creed, the early missionaries adorned them with Christian symbols. The figure of the cross was incised on the walls of caverns, and sculptured on sandstone blocks, which were laid on the graves of notable persons. In the sculptured memorial stone the cross occupied a central place, to which other symbols were subordinated. As archaic sculptures disappeared, there were introduced figures of armed warriors, horses, and war chariots; also of animals in all varieties of shape. Sculptures were no longer incised, but made in relief, and on both sides.

The celtic memorial cross was reared at first to denote prominent fields of missionary labour. Thus were commemorated the ministrations of St Columba, St Cuthbert, St Kentigern, and St Briged. Subsequently the cross was placed to mark boundaries, also to commemorate the virtues of noted chief, and perpetuate national events. The period of the sculptured stone cross extends from the seventh century to the tenth. Its conception was wholly celtic. Symbol stones are unknown both in the Scottish and Irish Dalriada., also in Saxonia, or the Northumbrian kingdom, which extended to the Forth. The celtic cross was, on the other hand, common to the Irish Colts and the northern Picts serving to establish their common origin and general identity.

In addition to its distinctive symbolism, the celtic stone cross exhibits a style of ornamentation singularly ornate. In its double and triple roll mouldings, spiral and diagonal figures, and its ribbon and lacustrine patterns may be discovered some traces of the zig-zag, the concentric circle, the wavy groove, the crescent and the double disk. In the interlaced tracery may also be distinguished the willow plaiting of the ancient coracle, the celtic wicker-basket, and the rude framework of the earlier Christian church. Yet the more graceful combinations of the celtic pattern cannot be explained by any reference to native models. The flowing lines, the flamboyants, and other graceful devices were probably brought into Britain by Etruscan traders, who in quest of amber are known to have sent fleets into Northern Europe from Mediterranean waters.

Inosculating with the Celtic memorial cross is that elaborate ornamentation winch appears in the Book of Kells and other Irish MSS. Decorative art was from Ireland borne to Iona by St Columba, who by an accomplished scribe, whom he retained, instructed others. As each Columban monastery was founded, a skilled illuminator was placed upon the monastic staff. When Aidan and his brethren penetrated into Northumbria, they carried with them an accomplished scribe, and hence by Saxon hands in the monastery of Lindisfarne were executed those illuminated gospels, with which the history of that institution is so memorably associated.

The decorative art used in adorning MSS. and memorial stones was also applied to metals; it appears on maces and pastoral staves, also on the decorated shrines which encased the hand-bells of Christian missionaries.

By Julius Cesar we are informed that the Druids made use of the Greek letters. But writing was rarely indulged. On their memory they preserved the metrical chronicles, which they taught sedulously to their disciples. One third of this priestly order were bards, some of whom composed religious odes, while others in song commemorated their annals. According to Diodorus Siculus, who flourished half a century before the Christian era, the Celtic bards accompanied their verses on an instrument, which resembled the lyre.

From an eastern source the Druids obtained their songs and music. Yet the Phoenicians, from whom they immediately derived, were not musical. May not the coronach sung at cairns, latterly at Christian interments, have proceeded from that people who in captivity at Babylon hung their harps upon the willows? Who in the strains of Ossian may fail to remark the fervent imagery of the Hebrew prophets? These combine the same thrilling words, the same love of nature, similar metaphors, and like forms of speech. Ossian laments that the words of the elder bards had come to him "only by halves." His warriors fight as do "contending winds." Battles dart from his hero's eyes, and upon beams of fire ride the ghosts of the departed virtuous. In the leafless grave of Lochlin, the poet marks "five stones" which guard the warrior's cairn. He sings of "the circle of Loda," and celebrates "the mossy stone of power." Ossian flourished sixteen centuries ago, and Roman legionaries might not subdue his voice. His father, the valiant Fingal, had contended with Caracalla, "Caracul, son of the king of the world." His son Oscar. had fallen in conflict with the emperor Catusius, "Caros, king of ships."

What Ossian in the third Christian century initiated, was by a long line of bards, actively perpetuated. The minstrel survived the ancient priesthood, with which he was associated. Successors of the son of Fingal flourished in the halls of chiefs. Their minstrelsy has perished, but the legends created by their fancy remain.

When Borlase composed his "Antiquities," upwards of a century ago, the Welsh bards assembled yearly at Bala in Merionethshire, where sixty or seventy harpers discoursed music to words of their own composing, though few could write or even read. At the close of the century, there was in the Highlands an organised system of pipe music. Every clan had its minstrel; every chief his bard.

When, in 731, Bede completed his history, the country to the north of the Forth retained its Pictish inhabitants; it was known as Alba or Pictavia. The Scots of Dalriada in Argyle retained their former limits. South of the Forth was Saxonia, with its Teutons; while Galloway in the south-west yet represented the ancient Cimbri. Two centuries later ensued important changes. On the coast had Danes and Norwegians, made warlike incursions. Wresting from the Celts the islands of Orkney and Shetland, they there planted colonies. In the year 794 the monastery of Iona was wrecked by Scandinavian pirates, who thereafter ravaged the adjacent isles, till, becoming masters of the Hebrides, With a portion of the mainland and the Isle of Man, they incorporated the whole into a new kingdom. Impoverished by lengthened conflicts, the Pictish monarchy underwent slow yet sure decay. The red-haired Scots of Dalriada pushed to the east and north. At length, in the tenth century, the entire country was named Scotland. At the court of King Malcolm Canmore, his queen, the Saxon Princess Margaret, introduced the apparel and culture of the south. For the Gaelic tongue, which Scandinavian settlers had used heretofore, Queen Margaret substituted the Saxon speech. During the reigns of her sons Edgar, Alexander, and David, the Teutonic dialect spoken south of the Forth rapidly spread northward, till in the twelfth century the Saxon tongue overspread the eastern lowlands. Under King David, Saxon and Norman families made settlements in the country, while with the money received for royal charters the king reared and endowed great churches. In the twelfth century the kingdom of Strathclyde, and in the thirteenth that of the Isles, owned as sovereign the Scottish king. The Celts retired to the uplands; those who lingered became serfs or labourers.


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