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Annals of the Caledonians, Picts, and Scots and of Strathclyde, Cumberland, Galloway, and Murray
By Joseph Ritson, Esq. in two volumes (1828)

Another posthumous work of the late Mr Ritson is now presented to the world, which the editor trusts will not be found less valuable than the publications preceding it.

Lord Hailes professes to commence his interesting Annals with the accession of Malcolm III., because the History of Scotland, previous to that period, is involved in obscurity and fable the praise of indefatigable industry and research cannot therefore be justly denied to the compiler of the present volumes, who has extended the supposed limit of authentic history for many centuries, and whose labours, in fact, end where those of his predecessor begin.

The editor deems it a conscientious duty to give the authors materials in their original shape, unmixed with baser matterwhich will account for, and, it is hoped, excuse, the trifling repetition and omissions £hat sometimes occur.


What has been, perhaps, too rashly attempted as the subject of these sheets, is a chronological account of the inhabitants of the country known, for the first time, by the name of Caledonia, and, in successive ages, by those of Albany, Pictland, Scotland, and North Britain, from the earliest period which history affords, and from the most ancient and authentic documents which time has preserved, and with that attention to truth and accuracy which integrity and utility require.

The genuine history of the Caledonian Britons, or most ancient, if not indigenous, inhabitants of this country, is to be found in the writings or remains of Tacitus, Dio Cassius, and some few of less note, who were Roman citizens, and wrote in Latin. Of the first we have, entire and perfect, “The Life of Agricola,” a work of singular interest and merit; the history of Dio is, unfortunately, defective. Some lights, however, are thrown on this distant period, by one Richard, surnamed Corinensis, or of Cirencester, a monk of Westminster, in the fifteenth century, into whose hands had fallen certain collections of a Roman general; and whose compilation, including a curious ancient map of Britain, was originally printed by Charles Julius Bertram, at Copenhagen, in 1757.

That of the Picts and Scots, which is known to remain, consists, in the first place, of some meagre notices, in two panegyrics, delivered by one Eume-nius, an orator, before the emperors Constantius and Constantine, in the years 292 and 301, and the exploits of the elder Theodosius, in 364, as related by Ammianus Marcellinus; secondly, of a few passages of the old British and Saxon, or English historians, namely, Gildas, Nennius, Bede, Ethelwerd, Ingulph, the Saxon Chronicle, William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon, Simeon of Durham, and a few more of later date; to which may be added the lives of saints Columba and Ken-tigern; the Cronica de origine antiquorum Picto-rum et Scotorum, supposed to have been written in 994, and, with another Cronica regum Scottorum, first printed by father Thomas Innes, of the Scots College, Paris, from an ancient manuscript, which had belonged to William Cecil, lord Burghley, and was then in the king of France’s library, by way of appendix to his “Critical Essay on the ancient Inhabitants of Scotland,” in two volumes, 8vo, at London, in 1729- The treatise “De situ Albania?,” published likewise by Innes, who thought there was “ground to believe that the author of this description was Giraldus Cambrensis,” whose words are, “Legimus in historiis et in chronicis antiquorum Britonum, et in gestis et annalibus antiquis Scottorum et Pictorum" but these, it is most probable, were nothing more than Geoffrey of Monmouth or his followers. It may be likewise proper to notice the Cronica de Mailros, printed in Rerum Anglicarum scriptorum. veterum, tomus I. Oxonice, 1684, folio, by William Fulman, and a slight Chronicon ccenobii sanctce-crucis Edinburgensis, in the first volume of Whartons Anglia sacra; but, -before all, the Annales Ultonienses, or Ulster-annals, a faithful chronology of great antiquity, a copy whereof was fortunately discovered in the Sloane-library, now in the British Museum, within these few years ; but has not been hitherto entirely printed, though, at present, it is believed, with others of equal importance, in a state of preparation.

The only books of any antiquity which profess, or pretend, to be general histories, or chronicles, of Scotland, are the Scotrthronicon of John de Fordun, a canon of Aberdeen, who flourished about 1377; and the “Orygynale cronykil of Scotland", by Androw of Wyntown, priowr of sanct Serfisynche in Loch-Levyn of Which an elegant and beautiful edition, in two volumes, 8vo, was published at London, by the industrious and accurate Mr David Macpherson, in 1795: but as both these writers are only remarkable for their ignorance, invention, forgery, and falsehood, neither of them deserves to be consulted, and still less to be quoted or relied on. That the Scots, however, had ancient chronicles, long before the time of Fordun, appears from the declaration of the Scottish clergy, in 1309-10, touching the right of king Robert de Brus, in which are these words .“Ut in antiquis Scottorum gestis magnificis plenius continetur.” See Robertsons Index of records, Ap. p. 5. Whether these were the chronica, or alia chronica, cited by him, cannot be ascertained. It is, however, remarkable,'that he never mentions the name of a single Scotish historian. But that every chronicle' was deliberately destroyed by Edward, the conqueror, or usurper, is a groundless calumny;, and if these “antiqua gesla” were extant in 1310, how happens it that we have no further account of them? Hector Bois, who lived at a later period, is, if possible, a still more wanton forger, and, in every point of view, unworthy of credit ; a character which may, with equal truth and justice, be extended to George Buchanan, who imposed the fables of Fordun and Bois upon his countrymen as their genuine history, interpolating, at the same time, a sufficient number of his own. Even bishop Lesley, Maule of Melgum, in his despicable and pretended “History of the Picts,” (Edin. 1706, 12mo,) Abercrombie, in the first volume of his “Scots achievements,” and Doctor George Mackenzie, adopt the falsehoods of Hector Bois to their utmost extent.

John Bale, bishop of Ossory, enumerates a work, intitled, “Regnum Scotorum et Pictorum succes-siones, incerto authore,” which he affirms to have left in Ireland when driven out by the’ papists; and Usher, at the foot of a letter from Selden, dated September the 14th, 1625, requesting what he had of the history of Scotland and Ireland, notes that he sent him upon this (inter alia,) "Fragment. Scotic. Annal. ad finem Ivonis Carnot.” But neither of these pieces has been further heard of: and so much for. the history of Scotland.

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