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The Scottish Gael
Chapter X
Of the pastoral state and of agriculture

THE cattle of the Gauls who were accounted affluent, were their chief
riches, and some of them, according to Caesar, lived entirely on their
flesh and milk. The Celtic race were much attached to the pastoral life,
for its freedom was suited to their state of refinement, and congenial to
their independent spirit. The inhabitants of Britain, at the period of the
first Roman descent, were for the most part in the pastoral state of soci-
ety, and long after this epoch many of the tribes, like their remote an-
cestors, continued to pay almost exclusive attention to their flocks, con-
temning the servile and less advantageous task of cultivating the soil.
Many parts of the island are adapted for grazing only, and those who
inhabit the mountainous districts must continue to depend for subsistence
on the produce of their herds. Although the wealth of the Highlands
has always consisted of cattle, the poets have not indulged in rapturous
encomiums on the shepherd state, for this reason, that the education of
the men was entirely military, the care of the flocks being left to the
women and youth. Cresar remarks the great numbers of cattle which
were reared in Britain, and Solinus avers that Ireland was overstocked
with them.* In Germany they were no less abundant, the inhabitants
taking great delight in the number of their flocks, which, according to
Tacitus, formed their only wealth. The animals were, however, but of
small size, for they appear to have been indifferent to their appearance;

* C. 35.


whereas the Gauls took so much delight in them, that they thought they
could never pay too dear for a beautiful ox.*

In the time of Severus, the people beyond Adrian's wall lived chiefly
on the flesh and milk of their flocks, with what they procured by hunting.
It is certain that at this early period the rude tribes of the north had do-
mesticated numerous herds, it being customary for them to place cattle
and sheep in the way of the Roman armies, to induce parties to straggle
from the main body, and fall into their ambuscades.^ A quarrel, con-
cerning the bull of the heath of Golbun, forms the subject of an episode
in the poem of " Fingal." Before the arrival of the- Saxons, North
Wales is said to have been chiefly appropriated for the pasturage of royal
cattle, three herds of which consisted of 21,000 head. J The cattle and
sheep of Scotland were anciently its chief resource; the numbers now
raised for the supply of the English markets are immense, and it may
with perfect truth be said of many of the Welsh, Irish, and Highland
Scots, as it was of the ancient Gauls, that cattle are their only riches.

The wild animals which inhabited the woods of Britain and Gaul, fur-
nishing subsistence to the Celtic huntsmen, have been already described.
Tlk domestic animals can be here only briefly noticed. Those who are
desirous of further information concerning the various improved breeds
m the northern division of Britain, are referred to the Agricultural Re-
ports, Transactions of the Highland Societies, the Statistical Returns,
and other similar works, for more detailed accounts.

There exists a belief that the inhabitants of Scotland had anciently
domesticated a species of deer, and the tradition has received something
like confirmation. A communication from H. Home Drummond, Esq.,
to the Wernerian Society of Edinburgh, describes a large stag's horn
that was discovered in the great Blair Drummond rnoss, which had a
piece of wood fitted into a circular perforation. It is not improbable
that these animals were tamed, as the rein-deer are at present among the

The CALEDONIAN Ox was considerably larger than that of the present,
day, as may be seen from the skulls, which are frequently discovered al
great depths. At Drumlanrig, a seat of the Duke of Queensberry, herds
of wild cattle of a white color are still preserved. The Gaelic bual, a
buffalo, or any wild horned beast, seems bu-all, or bo alluidh, a wild ox.
The breeds of Highland cattle and their qualities are well known.

The GfoAT, so useful a breed of animals in a mountainous country, is
now much reduced in Scotland. In Inverness, Sutherland, Caithness,
and other northern counties, there were formerly numerous flocks of
goats, every farmer, about fifty years ago. having from twenty to one
hundred. They wandered almost in unrestrained wildness in the moun-
tains, and their flesh was good meat, while, during summer, cheese was
made either of the milk alone, or of a mixture with that of the cow

* Bello Gall. t Dio J Triad, 85.

Letter read August, 1825.

SHEEP. 287

Their skins were an article of very early export, and in recent times
".ould always (etch a shilling from the travelling chapman. In the Isles,
a late visiter says they have almost disappeared. The goat is peculiarly
fitted for a rugged country, for it can pick up subsistence in places to
which the more timid sheep cannot venture, and is able to defend itself
against the fox, so destructive to the latter. It is curious to find that the
deer will pasture freely with goats, but evince a strong dislike to sheep
SHEEP formed a considerable part of the pastoral riches of the Celts.
It would appear from what has been before observed, if we are to receive
the doubtful testimony ofD. Munro, that many were in a state of nature
in his time, as they are said to have also continued until lately in the re-
mote islands of Orkney and Shetland. There appears, however, in these
assertions, an ignorance of grazing and sheep farming. Every mountain
may be now found covered with sheep wild as deer, and to all appear-
ance masterless, and where there were; no foxes or 6ther vermin to de-
stroy them, the same was formerly observable; but each person's prop-
erty was no doubt distinguished by the lug mark, or some other token.
The flocks that range in freedom on the muirs, are collected four or five
times in the course of the summer and autumn, and those gatherings
exactly resemble the ancient hunt. The grazing range is surrounded
silently, as early in the day as possible, when a simultaneous cry of men
and barking of dogs are set up, by which the timid animals are roused
from all their haunts, and brought together in a narrow pass, where the
flank or fold is erected. The native sheep were very different from the
modern breed. The fleece was a sort of down, mixed with straight hairs
of some length; the tail was short, slender, and tapering, and was thinly
covered with long silvery hairs. They were remarkably tame, and very
delicate, probably from the once invariable practice of housing them.
The breeds of sheep have been so often crossed and intermixed, that the
genuine native animal can scarcely be found. The original stock were
small, and dun colored, particularly in the face, but, notwithstanding
their hardiness, and some good qualities, few now remain. It appears
from Cambrensis, that in Ireland the sheep were chiefly black. Some
of the old Scots' sheep still exist in Galloway, and a few may be found in
different parts of the Highlands. A recent traveller seems to think
them confined to the remote island of Hirta, or St. Kilda,* but they ap-
pear also to be found in Orkney and Shetland, and are supposed to have
been originally brought from Norway. They were easily fed, their mut-
ton was delicious, and their fleeces were soft, to procure which it has
been said that the wool was pulled off, a practice, which, there is reason
to believe, did not, at least within traditional knowledge, prevail among
the Highlanders, who have an appropriate name for sheep shears, but
none for common scissors. It is not long since both sheep and goats
were committed to the entire management, and hence have been thought

* M'Culloch. An epithet by which this island is designated : Irt na'n caoiraicb
feann, Hirta of the hairy sheep, is thought to indicate a peculiar breed.


the exclusive property of the wife, being considered beneath the atten-
tion of a man, and so strong was this feeling that no man would con-
descend to assist at the sheep-shearing. The Highlands are admira-
bly adapted for rearing sheep, the fragrant herbage of the hills producing
most delicious mutton. Many ages since, the inhabitants of various
parts pursued with success the improvement of their stock. From before
the middle of the sixteenth century, "all the districts of the shire of
Aberdeen were distinguished for numerous flocks of sheep, which
yielded fleeces of the finest wool."* Many Highland proprietors have
of late turned their almost exclusive attention to sheep farming, and have
followed their object with so much zeal, that whole districts have been
depopulated, that they might be turned into extensive sheep walks!
How far this may be ultimately of advantage to proprietors it is not easy
to foresee, but its policy is certainly very objectionable. To force so great
a number of the inhabitants to emigrate, and thus deprive the country of
the services of a large proportion of the best part of the peasantry, is
surely a serious national evil. Regiments can no longer be raised, in
case of need, in those places where now are only to be seen the numer-
ous flocks of the solitary shepherd. The piobrach may sound through the
deserted glens, but no eager warriors will answer the summons; the last
notes which pealed in many a valley were the plaintive strains of the
expatriated clansmen Cha till, cha till, cha till, sin tuile, " we return,
we return, we return no more." The necessity for thus expelling the
tenantry is doubtful, the President of the Board of Agriculture having
proved by experiment, that the Cheviot breed of sheep, so much esteem-
ed by the farmer, could be introduced and thrive on the most bleak
mountains, and a large proportion of the old inhabitants might be retain-
ed in their possessions. f

The sheep has always been associated with our ideas of the pastoral
life, and, from its inoffensive nature and great usefulness, has ever been
a favorite with the shepherd, and the theme of rural song, and it is tp be
remarked, that while cattle-lifting was not considered dishonorable, a
sheep stealer among the Highlanders was held infamous Although
apparently a stupid animal, many curious proofs of its strong instinct
might be adduced. The attachment of sheep to the place of their nativity
is remarkable. They have been known to traverse great distances for
the purpose of revisiting the scenes of their youth and rejoining their

SWINE, muic, were formerly numerous in the low country of Scot-
land, but the Highlanders appear to have paid little attention to them,
allowing them to roam in a state of nature. The breed has been inter-
mixed with others, and much improved in size, by the encouragement
of the Highland Society, and the native animal, which was small, is
extinct, except perhaps in the Isle, of Man and in the wilds of Sutherland,

* Heron's Hist, of Scotland, v. 15. t Agric. Report.


where a few still remain. The Scots retain an antipathy to pork; wheth-
er derived from the ancient Celts, or the early Christians, is difficult to
determine, and, although this aversion is disappearing, it is far from being
eradicated. In the Agricultural Report for the county of Banff, it is
stated that live swine have never yet been sold in any of the fairs of the
norlh. Many places evince by their names that these animals must have
been there found in considerable numbers. There is the Isle of Muc,
Glen Muic, Mucross, &.c.

Those who fttended the cattle were, by the ancient Britons, called
Cheangon, retainers, and Paruis, herdsmen, whence some tribes, it is
thought, were named by the Romans, Cangi and Parisii. Goat herds
were denominated Gabr and Gabrant, or Gabrantic.* The laws of Wales
provided for the pasturage in common of all the cattle of one place.
The Aoireannan of the Highlanders are the " keepers of cattle," and
are a sort of farm servants who have the charge of cultivating a certain
portion of land, and taking care of the cattle it supports. They are
allowed grass for two milk cows and six sheep, and had also the tenth
sheaf, with the privilege of raising as much potatoes as they chose.
The slaves of the ancient Irish, or those purchased or carried off from
England, Wales, or the continent, were employed in tending the flocks. f
In the old practice of folding cattle on the farm lands, the herds shelter
themselves in a little hut of poles and pliant twigs, and this, called Bothan
tothair, is an exact model, on a small scale, of the ancient British hut.

The Cattle of the Celts were usually secured in a strong inclosure
connected with the camp or fort, as may be seen by inspecting the plans
of the ancient strongholds. At other times they were placed in inclo-
sures formed, according to Brehon regulations, by trenches and banks,
strengthened by stakes or live hedges to guard against the attacks of
wolves and other ravenous animals, as well as the attempts of hostile
tribes. There is reason to believe that means were found to secure the
cattle near the Duns, as at Castle Coul, before described. Pennant says
the Boaghun was the dun in which they were lodged. The Britons,
according to Whitaker, had sheds, constructed of stone and wood, for
this purpose, some of their ruins, 16 feet by 12, having been discovered
at Manchester

Pliny says there was no better pasture than the German fields. J The
Gauls had very extensive fields of grass, and it was mostly natural; the
only artificial sort known to them being trefoil: but the superior manner
in which these people prepared their lands, and the judicious use of
marie, must have rendered them abundantly fertile. Their cattle \jere
objects of great pride, and in their anxiety to improve the breed they
showed themselves good farmers, and acquired the praise of others for
their agricultural knowledge. It was remarked by Cato, am) assented

* Whitaker, on authority of Ptolemy and Richard of Cirenceater.
I Ware. * Lib. xvi.4.



to by Pliny,* that the best means of deriving profit from a farm wjs to
feed cattle well.

Since Scotland has become so destitute "of wood, the pasture has
materially suffered. The ground in the Straths, where the ancient woods
have decayed, do not now yield a quarter of the grass it did when shel-
tered by the foliage, and the farmer is not able to outwinter his cattle as
formerly: but the bare hills and flats are now abundantly stocked with
sheep, the animal whose increase is said to have been the chief reason
of the destruction of the young trees, and consequent deterioration of the
pasture. Notwithstanding the care of the Highland farmer, he often
loses great numbers of his cattle from want of food. The variable cli-
mate sometimes indeed reduces himself to want, but he frequently has
his farm much overstocked, and the consequence, scarcity of provender
in a severe winter, is certain,/ while to counteract the evil there are few
means. In Strathdon, in Aberdeenshire, the people are accustomed to
take heath tops for winter store with advantage; and when the cattle can
be turned out they assist them to this food by clearing the snow from

In the early stages of society, before land is regularly divided among
the members of a tribe, the shepherds freely move from pasture to pasture
as in the days of the patriarchs. The Suevi, the chief nation at one
time in Germany, had no inclosure, but moved to new situations every
year. Britain, says Gildas, abounds in hills that are very convenient
for the alternate pasture of flocks and herds, which most certainly alludes
to the ancient practice still preserved among the Scots Highlanders, and
formerly a remarkable characteristic of the Irish, who maintained abun-
dance of cattle. Spenser describes them as leading a wandering life,
driving their herds continually with them, and feeding only on their
milk and white meats, a practice which was called boolying.J This
vagrant life, so like to that of the Scythians, seems to have given rise,
as before observed, to the name of Scots, common to certain parts of the
population of both countries. It has been long impossible for any among
the civilized nations of Europe to pursue exactly this itinerant life, but
in Scotland, where a large tract of mountainous country is annexed to
a farm, the owner still continues to move his flocks in something resem-
bling the ancient manner.

After the Irish rebellion, in 1641, several wandering clans, under the
name of creaghs, or plunderers, overran the country with their numerous
flocks, so much to the annoyance of the English settlers, that it was found
necessary to restrain their perambulations by public authority. The
Highlanders were till lately universally accustomed to move from the
Bailte Geamhre, or winter towns, to the Arich, or breeding grounds, in
the hills; every davoch, or tenpenny land, and even each farm, having

* Lib. xviii. v. t Stat. Account; xv. 463. \ Page 35.

Coll. reb. Hib. ii. p. 2^5. Beauford's Diss. on Irish Language.


a certain portion of mountain territory for this purpose.* Here the
seisgach, or dry cattle, remained during the winter, if not too severe,
while the others were brought down to the more sheltered homesteadifig
in the glen. Spenser says, in Ireland each cantred maintained 400 cows
in four herds kept apart. In Scotland, where there existed any right of
common pasturage, the number of cattle which each individual was en-
titled to turn out was according to the number which he could fodder in
winter on his own farm, and the proportions, in case of dispute, were
settled by a form of law called an action of souming and rouming. The
ancient practice, which is still fondly adhered to where practicable, is
thus described by an~intelligent proprietor of Sutherland. "The princi-
pal farmers, who reside in the straths, or valleys, along the banks of the
streams, have extensive grazings in the mountains where the cattle are
driven in the summer. Early in the spring a person, who has the name
of Poindler, is sent to these hill pastures to prevent strange cattle from
trespassing, and when the crop is sown and the peats cut, the guidwife
and her maids, with some of the male part of the family occasionally, set
out with the milk cows and goats, and take up their residence in the
Shealing or Airie, which is a hut, or bothy, with one apartment, perhaps
12 feet square, for the purpose of eating and sleeping in, another of a simi-
lar size for the milk vessels, and, in general, there is a small fold to keep
the calves apart from the cows. Here they employ themselves indus-
triously in making butter and cheese, living on the produce of their
flocks, some oatmeal, and a little whiskey, contented, happy, and healthy,
dancing to the pipes or the melody of their own voices, and singing their
old native songs, not only in the intervals of work, but in milking their
flocks, who listen with pleasure and attention to the music, particularly
to an air appropriate to the occupation, of which the animals even evince
a fondness. Here they remain for about six weeks, the men occasionally
returning to the homestead to collect their peats, and perform any other
necessary work, when the pasture becoming exhausted, they all return
to the farm, and leave the yeld, or young cattle and horses, to roam at
freedom among the hills until the severity of winter drive them home.
The practice was to rear a calf for every two cows, and after the family
were served with the product of the dairy there were twenty-four to
thirty pounds of butter, and as much cheese from each cow. "I

The temperature of the milk in churning is ascertained by the sound
of the crearn. When harsh, it indicates its being too cold, but when
sufficiently warm, it is soft.

Rennet of a deer, lamb, or hare's stomach, are indifferently used by
the Highlanders for coagulating the milk: sometimes the gizzards of
fowls are applied for this purpose, and the stomach of a sow is said to be
preferable to any other. The old practice was to convert the cream

* Grant's Thoughts on the Gael. This intelligent writer believes the name of
Argyle, anciently spelt Aregael, and applied to a great proportion of the Highlands,
signifies the breeding grounds of the Gael. t Agric. Report.


into butler, and the skimmed milk into cheese, but there is little sweet
milk cheese now made. The old mode of curd cut into large pieces is
therefore in a great measure given up. It is a very old custom in the
Highlands to mix aromatic herbs with the rennet, a practice that has
recently been recommended as a great improvement by some English
writers, by whom it is thought a new discovery.

The ancient Celts had some singular methods of treating their cattle
when ill, and superstitious observances to protect them from mischief.
They were accustomed to take as much of limeum or belenium as could
be laid on an arrow head, which was put in three measures of liquid and
poured down the animal's throat. What disease this prescription was
designed to cure does not appear, but the cattle were fastened to stakes
until it had ceased to operate, for they often went mad from its effects.
Samolus, march wort, or fenberry, which was gathered with peculiar
ceremonies, was laid in the troughs where cattle drank, in order to save
them from all diseases.*

The Highlanders, as may be supposed, have many superstitions re-
garding their cattle, and indulge in many absurd ceremonies, some of
which may have at the same time originated in satisfactory experiment,
and acknowledged efficacy of prescription. The manner in which the
disease, or accident, called elf-shot, is successfully treated, has been
before described. On new year's day it is a practice deemed salutary
for the cattle, to burn before them the branches of juniper. It is com-
mon to the Highlanders and Irish to keep a large oval- shaped crystal,
the virtue of which is, that water being poured on it and administered to
the animals, they are sained, or preserved from many evils that would
otherwise befall them. Mountain-ash and honey-suckle, placed in the
cowhouse on the second of May, we may be assured, has not been
resorted to* without undeniable experience of much good. Most of these
superstitious customs have no doubt existed since the days of Paganism,
their object being to counteract the designs of evil spirits. Witches, war
locks, and other " uncanny" persons, are now the chief objects of dread,
and to baffle their diabolical efforts the farmer exerts his utmost skill
and faith. Reginald Scot's " special charm to preserve all cattel from
witchcraft," is doubtless a secret well worth knowing.

While on the subject it may not be amiss to describe some of the
methods by which the Highlanders endeavor to cure their cattle when
diseased, and guard them from impending illness. To prevent the
spreading of that direful disease called the, the animal is
taken to a house into which no cattle are ever after to enter, and there
the heart is taken out while the creature is yet alive, and being hung up
in the place where the other cattle are kept, it preserves them from death.
A live trout, or frog, is put down the throat to cure what is called blood-
grass. Murrain, or hastie, a complaint with which an animal is sudden
ly seized, becoming swelled, breathing hard, with water flowing from
* Pliny, xxiv. c. 9.


the eyes, and dying in a few hours, is treated in a peculiar manner. The
disease is less frequent since 4he decay of the woods, but it appears in
so malignant a form, for dogs who eat of the carcass are poisoned, that
it is firmly believed to be the effect of supernatural agency. To defeat
the sorceries, certain persons who have the power to do so are sent for,
to raise the Needfire. Upon any small river, lake, or island, a circular
booth of stone or turf is erected, on which a couple, or rafter of birch-
tree, is placed, and the roof covered over. In the centre is set a per-
pendicular post, fixed by a wooden pin to the couple, the lower end
being placed in an oblong groove on the floor; and another pole is placed
horizontally, between the upright post and the leg of the couple, into
both which, the ends, being tapered, are inserted. This horizontal tim-
ber is called the auger, being provided with four short arms, or spokes,
by which it can be turned round. As many men as can be collected are
then set to work, having first divested themselves of all kinds of metal,
and two at a time continue to turn the pole by means of the levers, while
others keep driving wedges under the upright post so as to press it against
the auger, which by the friction soon becomes ignited. From this the
Needrire is instantly procured, and all other fires being immediately
quenched, those that are re-kindled both in dwelling-house and offices
are accounted sacred, and the cattle are successively made to smell them.
This practice is believed to have arisen from the Baultein, or holy fires
of the Druids. Sometimes the diseased animal is brought, and held with
its tongue pulled out, for about fifteen minutes, over a sooty turf fire,
and the sods from the roof are at other times put in a pot with live coal
and a quantity of good strong ale.

The Highland drovers, or those persons who are intrusted with the
charge of bringing the cattle from the mountains to the southern markets,
are a class of considerable importance, and their occupation is peculiar
to their country. The drover was a man of integrity, for to his care was
committed the property of others to a large amount. He conducted the
cattle by easy stages across the country in tractways, which, whilst they
were less circuitous than public roads, were softer for the feet of the ani-
mals, and he often rested at night in the open field with his herds. These
trusty factors often come as far as Barnet, and even to London. In one
of Sir Walter Scott's novels, the Chronicles of the Canongate I believe,
is a spirited description of one of these Celts.

I am not aware of the rules which may have regulated the division of
a cattle spoil, farther than that there was generally a mutual division,
among the ancient Celts. The Highland practice, as before stated, was
to give two thirds to the chief, but whether any particular rights existed
among the Gael, as we find in other nations, does not appear. A con-
stable was anciently entitled to all cattle without horns, horses unshod,
and hogs taken in foraging, and the marshal received all spotted cattle.*
If any one in the Highlands could claim horses without shoes he would
* Edmonson's Heraldry.


have taken all. In a following chapter will be seen the perquisites
which some individuals in Celtic society received when cattle were

The cattle of the Gael were the temptation to mutual wars and unre-
lenting feuds, and they were the estimable reward of entei prising war-
riors. The herds often changed owners during the continuance of war
In 1626, we find the Governor of Ireland taking 4000 cows from the
Burkes; and in 1587, Tyrone carries off 2000 cows, and a great number
of garrons, &c., from Sir Arthur O'Neal. These were respectable
creachs, and seem to justify the title which the Highlander claimed for
the cattle lifters, gentlemen drovers.


The Celtae, although much attached to the pastoral life, were not in-
attentive to the advantages of agriculture. The sterner tribes did not
to be sure apply themselves with much assiduity to that or any other
pursuit, save those of war and plunder; thinking with the Germans, of
whom Tacitus speaks, that it was stupid to gain by their labor, what
could be more quickly acquired by their blood, but in general they cul-
tivated a greater or less proportion of ground.

The Belgic part of the population of Britain is described by Csesar as
practising agriculture to a considerable extent, while the Celts, or tribes
of the interior, are represented as neglecting or remaining ignorant of
this useful art, paying exclusive attention to the pasturage of numerous
flocks. This description has led to the belief that the cultivation of the
soil was entirely confined to the Belgians, and even introduced by them,
but the expression does not warrant this supposition. That the inland
tribes were not ignorant of agriculture, but did raise corn, is certain. It
may, at the same time, be readily admitted, that the local and commer-
cial advantages of the inhabitants of the southern provinces stimulated
them to greater diligence, but they were not the sole agriculturists in the
island. The rich fields of corn which Caesar found on the south and west
coasts, a fortunate acquisition for the sustenance of his troops, most like-
ly struck him as a peculiarity on observing the numerous herds and the
limited crops in the interior. From the address of Bonduca to her army
it is apparent that agriculture was not unknown to those tribes denomi-
nated Celtic, however limited the extent of their operations may have been.

It has been asserted, from the speech which Tacitus assigns to Gal-
gacus, that the art of procuring sustenance by the culture of the ground
was unknown to the Caledonians, but an attentive perusal of the pas-
sage will show that this inference is not quite fair; the warrior only
reminds his countrymen that, while free, they had no fields to cultivate
for a master.* Dio Nicseus, who relates that the people north of Adri-
an's wall had no cultivated lands, but lived on the produce of their flocks.

* Vita Agric. 31.


is also brought forward as authority on this subject, but his assertion
cannot be unhesitatingly admitted. Strabo enumerates grain among the
British exports, and it is well known that, shortly after the Romans had
settled in the island, large quantities of corn were annually transported to
the continent, for the supply not only of their friends, but the armies of
the Romans. It is true that this increased industry in agricultural labor
is attributed to Roman incitement, but as that people had not to teach
the Celts how to improve their soil, but, on the contrary, found them
enterprising agriculturists, the reasonable explanation of the fact is,
that the Britons only availed themselves of the new opening for the sale
of their grain. The same energy was exerted by the nations of the con-
tinent, Gauls, Germans, and Celtiberians; when subdued by the Roman
arms, they found a profitable market for the produce of their fields, but
these nations followed agriculture with success long before they became
tributary to Rome.

Malmutius was a celebrated British legislator on agriculture. The
laws of Moelmus, who is perhaps the same individual, are now believed
to be lost.* The Welsh Chronicles celebrate Eltud, or Eltutus and
others, as the authors of different improvements in the system of field

The laborers of the ground were called by the ancient Highlanders,
Draonaich, the genuine name, it is thought, of the Picts^ The people
of the eastern coast, where agriculture could be pursued with success,
were so designated by the western Gael, and vestiges of the habitations
of the Draonaich are found within the limits of the ancient Caledo-
nia, proving the meaning of the appellation synonymous with Pict, and
still retained by the Gael. The sites of these houses are scarcely ever
found without the visible marks of former cultivation on the adjoining

Although the inhabitants of the plains, who devoted themselves to the
cultivation of the ground, were called Draonaich, "yet a certain portion
of the people residing among the Gael of the mountains, were also known
by the same denomination; of which important fact the most complete
evidence remains to this day. The foundations of the houses of those
who employed themselves in the cultivation of the soil are distinguished
by the appellation Larach tai Draoneach, (the foundation of a house of
a Draonaich or Pict.) These are very numerous in many parts of the
country, and are, without exception, of a circular form, with the entrance
to the house regularly fronting due east. In the neighborhood of the
place of residence of the writer of these sheets, within the bounds of the
ancient Caledonian forest, there ,are cultivated fields; which further
proves the fact, that the term Draonaich was not exclusively appropriat-
ed to the people inhabiting the more level country of Scotland, but Vvas
applied also to the cultivators of the soil in the mountainous parts of the
country. Druim a Dhraonaich and Ach a Dhraonaich are fields well

* Roberts. t Grant's Thoughts on the Gael.


Known in the western part of the valley of Urquhart, lying to the west-
ward of Lochness; and still farther to the westward, in the adjacent valley
of Strathglass, there is a cultivated field called An Draonachc. And
even at this day the people who possess the arable lands in the bottom of
the valley in the vicinity of Draonachc, and who have been, for a long
period of time, remarked to be more industrious than their neighbors,
are called Draonaich Bhail na h amhn (the Draonaich of the River
town,) which is a village situated by the side of the river Glass, running
through the valley. When a man is observed employing himself in
laborious exertion upon the soil, it is a common expression among the
Highlanders, be'n Draoneach e, that is, he is truly a Draoneach. The
Gael of the mountains were divided into two classes, Arich and Draon-
aich. The first were the cattle breeders, and the other were the culti-
vators of the soil, and indeed comprehended all persons who practised
an art. Accordingly in Ireland, Draoneach signifies an artist, and
Draonachas, an artifice."

" The foundations of the houses of the Draonaich are so numerous
in some parts of the Highlands, as to afford the most decisive evidence
that the number of the cultivators of the soil must have been, in very
ancient times, prior to the knowledge of the plough, very considerable."*

When mankind first associate together, and apply themselves to culti-
vate the earth, it is done by the joint labor of all the members of the
community, who have an equal right to the crop that is produced, and
will receive proportions of it according to their wants, but after a village
has been some time settled, and the inhabitants advanced in civilisation,
this common property in the land is generally abolished. Each individ-
ual is considered entitled to the produce of his own labor, and as he
continues to possess the same parcel of land, he is understood to have a
certain right to it, and thus either by prescription, or allotment, the tracts
under cultivation become distributed among all the members. In regu-
lating these divisions, as in the management of the common property, the
chief exercises his delegated power. The right he assumes of disposing
of the public possessions is naturally acknowledged, and by retaining for
himself an extent sufficient to support his rank, he acquires an additional
authority, and subjects the different proprietors to the observance of
certain conditions necessary for the general welfare. Such is the
natural progress of mankind in the advance of civilisation, but this
tendency to an early division of the land is counteracted by various
circumstances. Poverty, the rudeness of husbandry, the relationship
of the members, and an adherence to ancient custom, with a strong
impatience of any thing like an infringement of their equal rights, com-
bine to prevent a separation of interest. Under the patriarchal or
clannish system of government, where the claims of consanguinity are
so strong, mutual labor and assistance continue, and the practice ot

* Grant's Thoughts on the Gael, p. 280.


cultivating the land in common, once so universal in Scotland, where it
still lingers among the Celtic inhabitants, is the ancient mode of conduct-
ing agricultural operations.

The Suevi, a powerful nation of Germany, who were distinguished for
their attention to agriculture, pursued their rural occupations under the
following regulations: the tribe consisted of 200,000 fighting men, and
of these one half went yearly to the wars, where they served for twelve
months, returning to take the place of the others, who, in like manner,
took the field for the same period of service. The individuals seem to
have had a certain quantity of land assigned to them, but no man was
allowed to remain more than one year in the same place.* The Vaccaei,
a nation of the higher Iberia, now Leon, every year divided their land,
ploughing and tilling it 'in common. After harvest they distributed the
fruits in equal proportions, and it was death to steal or abstract any thing
from the husbandman. f The Germans, who raised corn only, and made
no orchards, moved from land to land, and still assigning portions suita-
ble to the number of persons, parcelled out the whole lands according to
the condition and quality of each individual, every year changing and
cultivating a fresh soil.J The partition of land did not preclude the ex-
istence of common holding among the members of a tribe or community,
whose territorial possessions were, by public consent, reserved for them-
selves. All disputes concerning inheritances, and the limits of fields,
were settled by the Druids.^

The practice of common holding still remains in the western isles of
Scotland, and in many parts of the Highlands, and has not long been
abolished in many districts. An act of Scots parliament, 1695, author-
ized the division of lands lying run rig, the term by which this common
property was distinguished. || Under such a system it is not easy to
regulate the proportions very nicely: there are generally more people
living on lands so managed, than are taken into calculation, but, " ab-
surd as the common field system is at this day, it was admirably suited
to the circumstances of the times in which it originated; the plan having
been conceived in wisdom, and executed with extraordinary accuracy. IT
One of its evils was, that sometimes none would commence work while
any individual who ought to attend was absent, but this must have been
in an ill regulated township. In the most western counties of England
there is no common field. The lord lets off a portion of the common for
two crops, when it is allowed to become pasture again.

When the land is cultivated in common, boundary lines scarcely
appear necessary. The Suevi, Caesar observes, had no inclosure: the

* Caesar. This writer describes them as excellent agriculturists, yet he says they
lived on milk and flesh. Is he inaccurate, or did these people, like some of the Scyth-
ians, raise corn to sell, and not to eat ? t Diodorus Siculus.

t Tacitus. He says of one of their tribes, they labored with more assid:: jty in agri-
culture than suited the laziness of other Germans. Csesar.

ij It was also called Rig and Rennal. II Loudon's Agriculture, p. 504.



Romans themselves appear to have had no other mark of separation than
a statue of Terminus.* The old divisions of land were, when practica-
ble, rogulated by natural boundaries, that were sometimes nicely deter-
mined by the point of a hill, whence the water was observed running to
either side. It was also a most ancient custom, all over the Highlands,
to build head dykes, or walls, that were erected where there appeared a
natural demarcation between the green pasture and the barren heath
Within this dyke was the, arable and meadow land of the farms, while
beyond that line the cattle, horses, goats, and sheep, fed in common. In
the Highlands are often seen the vestiges of inclosures that exhibit
marks of great antiquity, concerning the original use of which the inhab-
itants have lost all knowledge; the ridges of stones, visible at a consid-
erable distance, and displaying extended white lines along the brown
heath, may, with propriety, be referred to this mode of laying out lands.
Inclosures are often very improperly formed of the turf, or surface of
the adjoining land. Galloway, or rickle dykes, are much esteemed in
Dumbartonshire and other Highland districts. This fence is construct-
ed of stones loosely piled up to the height of four or five feet, every tier
being less in size, and at the top the stones are wide apart. The fabric
seems too open and ill constructed to last long, but it is found to be dur-
able. The stones being placed with the thickest end upwards, act in
some degree like the key stones of an arch, and the wall opposes little
resistance to the wind. This is an excellent protection against sheep
who will not venture to scale such an erection. According to the co-
operation system, neighboring proprietors joined in the erection of boun-
dary or march walls. In 1577, we find the Deemsters of Man enforcing
an ancient practice, that persons whose lands were contiguous should
be at the mutual expense of forming the respective inclosures. By the
Welsh laws the husbandman had a right to the second best of every
three hogs, sheep, goats, geese, or hens, that trespassed on his corn.
This enactment shows the care of that people to secure to every one the
produce of his industry; it was afterwards modified: only one out of fif-
teen hogs, thirty sheep, goats, geese, &.c. being awarded to the com-
plainant, and if there were not so many animals, the compensation was
made in money. For the encouragement of agriculture no less than
eighty-six laws were made by the Welsh. If any one obtained permis-
sion to lay dung on another man's lands, he was allowed the use of them
for one year; and if the dung was in such quantity as required carts, the
term was extended to three years. If the lands of another were cleared
of wood, and rendered arable, the person who did so enjoyed their pro-
duce for five years, and a person who folded his cattle on another's field
without objection, for one twelve months, was entitled to cultivate it four
years after.

From the nature of society, it is evident that farms or portions of land

* Virgil's Georgics, iii. 212, &c.


possessed and labored by individuals must have been small. In other
words the land must have been subdivided, without a great disparity in
the quantities of the different allotments. It was one of the earliest
regulations of the Romans to assign every man two acres of land. The
jugerurn, or as much as could be ploughed in one day with a yoke of
oxen, was reckoned a sufficient reward to a deserving officer, and to re-
ceive the half of a quartarius, or a pint of adoreum, a sort of fine red
wheat, was esteemed an honorable testimony of public respect.*

Steel-bow tenants in Scotland, received corn, straw, agricultural im-
plements, &.C., from the proprietor, on condition of their restoration at the
end of the tack or agreement, and were bound to share the produce
with the landlord. The old system of agriculture encouraged the resi-
dence of numerous laborers or cottars around the house of a farmer, who
enjoyed their cottage, and a patch of ground as a vegetable garden, for
which they paid small or no rent. In the Highlands, the malair, a per-
son of the same order, was in the same condition. His sole dependence
was not on the employment which the land on which he resided gave
him, but he was bound to allow his services to the farmer in harvest and
on other occasions. There were no day laborers in the Highlands.
Their pride and sense of equality prevented them from working for a
neighbor, although many toiled in the low country for very small reward.
Improvements in Agriculture have led to the disappearance in many
places of this class of peasantry, and it is long since the desire to in-
crease the size of farms has destroyed the more equable division of land.
Pliny says that large farms had been the ruin of the Roman provinces,
and would eventually prove the ruin of the whole state. f How far
they are to be considered national evils in these days, I am not pre-
pared to state. The country may be depopulated, and the numerical
strength of a state may not be lessened, those who can no longer live as
farmers taking up their residence in towns; in the Highlands, however,
the ancient tenants who have been displaced, unable to gain a livelihood
by their handicraft, have forever bidden farewell to their native soil, and
sought an asylum in the wilds of America. A farm in Argyle, eighteen
or twenty miles long, and three to four broad, is said, by Doctor Robert-
son, of Dalrnenie, to be the largest in Britain. The sheep farm of Gal-
lovie, in Badenoch, is about twelve miles long, and from eight to ten
broad, which makes it at least ninety-six square miles, consequently six-
teen square miles larger than that in Argyle. One at Balnagowan, in
Sutherland, contains 37,000 acres. A Highland farm may be generally
described as a certain part of a valley, stretching on either side of the
burn or stream by which it is watered. To every possession, large and

* Pliny xviii. 3. Hence, by metonomy adorea. the quantity distributed came to sig-
nify honor, praise, &c. The first institution of Romulus was twelve wardens of corn
fields, Ibid. 2 ; and it shows how important they considered the protection of agricul-
ture, that when Carthage was taken, the only articles saved were twenty eight books,
which were written by Mago on that subject. \ Lib. xviii. 6.


small, a share of arable, meadow, pasture, and muir land was allotted.
The best part of the farm was distinguished as infield and outfield, the
former being generally under crop, and in good state; the latter consist-
ing of places not fit for tillage, but appropriated to pasture the cattle,
and produce a little hay. Beyond this, and separated by the head dyke,
was the common heath, extending to the summit of the mountains. Near
the house was also the door land, which served for baiting the horse of
a visiter at meal time, or such like. Crofters, or smaller farmers, had
no outfield. In officiaries, which were generally an ancient barony, but
sometimes a modern division of one to three or more square miles, the
ground officer regulated the management of the farms, fixed boundaries,
and settled disputes, in which he was assisted by the Birlaw or Boorlaw
men, a sort of rural jury. The more ancient Gaelic practice was, how-
ever, to refer the decision of any controversy to the oldest men of the
clan, who determined according to the Clechda or traditional precedents,
and their award was enforced by the chief. Several ancient terms, ex-
pressive of the extent of land, are still preserved. Davach is a common
denomination, and is equivalent to four ploughs.* Many farms in Scot-
land retain the name, and a well known toast in Strathbogie is the forty-
eight davach, alluding to the possessions of the Duke of Gordon in that

A Carucate is a term anciently in very general use, and is expressive
of as much arable land as could be managed with one plough, and the
beasts belonging thereto, in a year, with pasture, houses, &c. for the
persons and cattle. "f

An Oxgate was a certain extent of land, recognised in the later periods
of Scots' history. On the llth of March, 1585, " The lords fand that
thirteen aikers sail be ane oxengate; and four oxengate of land sail be
ane pound land of auld extent. "J The old extent was made about 1190,
and remained in force until 1474.

The only mode of ascertaining the extent of arable land seems to be
from the quantity of grain sown. The usual calculation is, that a boll
of seed is required to an acre, hence land is let by this allowance, and
by the number of cattle that it will maintain: but this valuation is not
strictly correct, for if the land be good, a less quantity is used, and if bad,
more is required; it is, however, a general guide for proprietors. Ara-
ble ^ land in Galloway, and most parts of the Highlands, is still reckon-
ed by pence, farthings, and octos. The penny land is generally allowed
to contain eight acres, consequently a farthing is two acres, and an octo
is one. or a boll's sowing.

In Lochaber the land is reckoned by pence, farthings, and octos, but
in Bc.denoch, and I believe in Strathspey, &.C., it is reckoned in marks,
eighty marks being equivalent to an octo, and ei^ht octos making a

* Shaw. t Preface to Domesday Book. J Harl. MS. 4628

Arable is derived from aratus, ploughed, a Latin word of Greek extract. Ar, tr
Gaelic, is Agriculture, and in old Celtic was earth.

RENTS. 301

davach. On the old system, a quarter davach was reckoned a sufficient
possession for a gentleman, and this quantity was generally attached to
every bailie or farm town. A good grazing quarter davach will support
from twenty to thirty milk cows, and a proportion of yeld cattle and
horses, yielding them sufficient fodder. The mountain skirting the
Strath and attached to the bailie, was fed in common by the cattle of the
davach, and was divided by water or land marks from the mountain of
the ne,xt valley, but the people of as many as four or five davachs some-
times grazed in common, in the more distant summer sheilings or ruidhs.
As many as eighty bothies might be seen on the plain of Altloy, in
Drummin, in Badenoch, and the same on the plain of Killin, in Strath-
Eric, a spot of itself worth a journey from London to see, about five
miles above the celebrated Fall of Fyers.

Rents were obviously at'first paid in kind, or by certain quantities of
produce. This originating in early society, remained an unavoidable
mode of payment in countries destitute of a sufficient quantity of coin to
render the barter of commodities unnecessary. By the laws of Ina, in
the end of the seventh century, a farm often hides or x plough lands, paid
ten casks of honey, three hundred loaves, twelve casks strong ale, thirty
of small ale, two oxen, ten wethers, ten geese, twenty hens, ten cheeses,
one cask of butter, five salmon, one hundred eels, and twenty pounds

In Scotland all sorts of domestic cattle and poultry, and the grain rais-
ed on the land, or proportions of meal, under the name of customs, were
commonly rendered until late years, and still form the chief amount of
rent in many places. Muir fowl, salmon, loads of peats and dry wood,
&c., were by no means uncommon in rentals. Tenants were also for-
merly bound to indefinite servitudes or feudal duties, under the name of
arriage and carriage, or services used and wont, but by the act abol-
ishing ward holdings, no services, except to mills, can be exacted that
are not specially mentioned in leases or terms of agreement. The cus-
tomary duties were certain days' work in seed time, hay and corn har-
vest, the leading or bringing home firing, &.c. These services being
often useless, from the non-residence of the proprietor, and money be-
coming more common, and being found a much more convenient medium
of settlement, were often commuted for the legal coin. In the rental of
the Bishoprick of Aberdeen, in the beginning of the seventeenth century,
we see the gradual conversion of customs into money, and the improve-
ment of society. As an instance, " The lands of Clovach, in the paro-
chen of Kyldrymie, sett to Lumsden fibr 9. 6s. 8d. One mart, twelve
kidds, four geese, 3s. 4d. for bondage and services, -37s. 4d. for grassum,
and 6s. 8d. of augmentation." f

The following enumeration of the different sorts of grain raised by the
Celts, with accompanying observations, are perhaps more curious than
important, but are not irrelevant to the subject now under consideration.

* Wilkins's Leges Saxonica?, p. 25. t Harl. MS. 4613.


Corn, originally the natural production of the earth, was certainly
cultivated by the Britons, before they were visited by the Roman le-
gions. The Germans raised much oats. Barley, the most ancient food
of mankind, had been long familiar to all the Celtne,* and in Iberia they
raised two crops of it in the year. That ancient historian Herodotus
says, that the Egyptians neither used wheat nor barley, which were then
common in other countries."!" The wheat of the Gauls and Britons was
light, and of a red color, receiving the name of brance, breic, or; brae,
from its bright appearance. J It was also called by the Romans Sanda-
lium, or more properly, it should seem, Scandalum, both terms being
derived, according to Whitaker, from the red brogs of the Celtx. San-
dalium is indeed the Latin name of a shoe, but it does not appear to have
been applied to those of the Celts, and the name of the wheat is various-
ly written sandalum, scandalum, scadalam, Sec. In some parts of Italy,
Dalechamp observes, the word scandella is still in use. ^ This grain
was peculiar to Gaul, and is celebrated by Pliny as of all others most neat
and fair, yielding more bread by four pounds in every rhodius or bushel,
husked and dried, than any other sort. || That called Arinca was also a
native of Gaul, and made the sweetest bread. IT The siligo, or white
wheat, was chiefly raised in Gallia comata, among the Averni and Se-
quani; the Allobroges called it blancheen, as the modern French say
Ble-blanche. In Aquitain much panicurn was grown, a sort of wheat
resembling millet, which last was the chief crop among the Sarmatse.**
The Thracian wheat was very good, being heavy, and ripening remarka-
bly quick. || Our researches do not procure much information concern-
ing the qualities of British grain in ancient times. It appears that
Gwent Iscoed, a native appellation for part of Monmouthshire, was noted
for abundance of wheat and honey; Dyfed, or F^embrokeshire, for bar-
ley and wine, while the staple of Carnarvon was barley alone. JJ One
Coll ap Coll frewi, in the sixth century, is said to have introduced the
culture of wheat and barley to the Welsh, oats having been the chief
grain previously grown. Gildas says the Britons when at peace raised
all sorts of grain in the greatest abundance. In Scotland oats are the
chief produce, and the chief food also, as all who have turned to the
word in Johnson's Dictionary are aware. Great quantities of barley are
likewise grown, but wheat, except in the southern and more champaign
districts, is not very common.

From the marks of cultivation on the acclivity of mountains, and on
the summits of hills, so generally observable in Scotland and in Ireland,
it has been supposed that the population must have been considerably
greater formerly than it is now. These appearances are of themselves
no decisive proof of this, for the high grounds were evidently cultivated

* Barley bread was anciently given to the Roman sword players, who were hence
called Hordearii. Pliny, xviii. t Lib. ii. c. 36. $ Whitaker.

Comment, ed. 1668, iii. p. 427. || Lib. xviii. 7, 10. IT Ibid.

*" Pliny. ft Ibid. ft Triad, 101.


when the straths were obstructed by impervious woods.* The ancient
farmers also preferred the security of the hill, to the risk which the
haugh presented from the floods of autumn, an evil much to be dreaded
in those moist climates, and they were, doubtless, careful to preserve the
natural pasturage in the valleys, which no artificial means could supply
on the hills. Another opinion is very prevalent. Where the marks of
cultivation are found in Scotland, they are often considered the memori-
als of recent periods of scarcity, and the ravages of the civil wars, by
which the proprietor becoming ruined, was obliged to abandon his farm;
and it is argued that, in a short period of neglect the ground will become
overspread with heath. It is true that this may be the case, but it is,
from the ridges which remain, sufficiently apparent that those fields are
recognised, and they may have been formed in very remote ages. There
are many proofs in the pages of national history that the Scots were at an
early period actively engaged in agriculture; they seem to have been
equally celebrated as keepers of cattle and laborers of the ground, in
both which occupations they are at present surpassed by no people.
The Scots of Ireland were formerly noted for their assiduity in improv-
ing the land, for which they were much disliked by the less diligent
natives. t On the submission of O'Neal, he solicited aid to assist him
in expelling them, the manuring and fertilizing the ground appearing to
be a chief cause of ofFence.J

In 1269, we find it recorded as a great calamity, that a frost in Scot-
land prevented ploughing from the 20th Nov. to the 2nd of February.
In 1298, while the English were besieging Dirleton Castle, they were
obliged to subsist on the peas and beans which they gathered in the
fields, and in 1336, a feud in Lothian laid one hundred ploughs idle.||
Those facts, it must be allowed, relate to parts of the country that were
not then Gaelic, but they show that agriculture was by no means neg-
lected in distant ages. As the Highlanders, from their numbers of cat-
tle, had it always in their power to supply themselves with corn in the
Lowlands, and found it necessary to take grain in exchange for their

* When the Caledonian forest was thick, its growth on the banks of rivers must
have led to the formation of marshes. The plains on the sides of the Spey, which are
still overflowed by the autumn floods, must have formerly been mere swamps. It is
related of Michael Scot, Alexander Gordon, (Alastair Ruadh na Cairnich, probably
Cairness,) and Mac Donald of Keppoch, that they had studied the black art in Italy,
the end of the 15th century, and it is added that Mac Donald was the greatest profi-
cient. He was accustomed to converse on the subjects with which his unhallowed
learning had made him acquainted, with a female brownie called Glaslig, for whom it
is believed he was more than a match. One evening he asked her the most remote
circumstance she remembered, when she replied that she recollected the time when the
great Spey, the nurse of salmon, was a green marsh for sheep and lambs to feed on.

t At a depth of five or six feet, a good soil for vegetation, formed into ridges, is often
discovered. A plough was found in a deep bog, near Donegal ; and a hedge, and some
wattles, were found standing at a depth of six feet.

t Derrick. W. Hemingford, i. 160. || Fordun, xv. 31.

304 MARL.

flocks, it may in some measure account for the limited cultivation u
"the rough bounds," for the Gael were certainly not incompetent to
raise grain, as far as the sterility of the mountains, and variable nature
of the climate, would permit. Donald Munro, in 1549, describes lona,
Mull, and other islands of the west, as " fertil, and fruitful of come."

The Highlanders have been charged with laziness and mismanage-
ment of their farms, from a stubborn adherence to old and erroneous
practices; and their system of management is much censured by South-
ern farmers. There is, doubtless, some truth in this stigma; but when
we consider the disadvantages of climate and soil, their conduct as agri-
culturists may be palliated. The husbandman can have little inducement
to lay much of his land under culture, with a chance of his hopes being
blasted, and his labor lost, by a rigorous season. If a severe frost should
kill the seed before it has arisen; if a wet summer should prevent its
ripening, or an early winter should destroy the crop, the loss will be
easier borne the less it is. The farmer therefore risks but a limited
quantity, sowing little more than he expects to want for use. If indo-
lence exist, it is surely most excusable where there is no motive for ex-
ertion; and if the Highlanders mismanage their farms, few others would
be found willing to undertake to make so much of them. It is believed
by those best able to form a correct opinion, that it would be impossible
to find any other people to inhabit the bleak mountains now possessed
by the Scotish Gael.* They may have old-fashioned notions, and awk-
ward implements, but it is not always the case that novelties are improve-
ments, or that the present generation are in all things wiser than their
fathers. Birt acknowledged that " their methods were too well suited
to their own circumstances, and those of the country, to be easily amend-
ed by those who undertook to deride them."

Gaul, says Mela, abounds in wheat and hay, and the lands of the
Germanni, we otherwise know, were excellent for bearing grain. These
nations well understood the art of fertilizing the earth, and it is an une-
quivocal proof of the ability of the Celtic farmers, and of their attention
to agriculture, that they discovered the use of margam, or marl,f which
they imparted to the Greeks and Romans. J The Hasdui and Pictones
of the continent made considerable use of lime to improve their grounds,^
but margam was in universal esteem. The obvious advantages of its
application created an anxiety to discover new sorts, yet, according to
Pliny, the various kinds were resolvable into two, as had been the case
from the first, namely, the white fat marl, and the heavy, reddish color-
ed rough sort, which was called capimarga, or accaunamarga. Both
kinds would retain their strength in the ground for fifty years. ||

The Britons possessed a superior knowledge of the various marls and
their properties. Their chalky sort was the best, which retained its

* Rose of Aitnach, Agricultural View of Sutherland.

t Marg, margu, marrow. Whitaker. J Pliny, xv'il. 6.

Pliny, xvii. 8. |] Ibid. 7.


strength for eighty years, so that no man was ever known to marl his
ground twice during his life.* That which the Greeks called Glischro-
inargen, resembling Fuller's earth, was used for grass land, and kept
its vigor thirty years: the sort called Columbine, the Gauls termed Egle-
copalarn. The use of marl appears to have been forgotten for a long
time in the south of Britain: one of the Lords Berkeley is said to have
been the first who revived it."}"

The people beyond the Po preferred ashes to other manure, raising
fires for the purpose of producing it; but it was not used for all crops,
and was never mixed with any thing else.J The Ubians, a German
nation, dug their lands three feet deep, a mode practised by no other
people, and not equal to the application of marl, for the ground required
to be broken up again in ten years.

Limestone is much used, but sea weed is the common manure in the
isles and along the coast of the Highlands. The very objectionable mode
of digging up the surface soil of the upper grounds, to mix with animal
dung as a manure for the valleys, is visible in many places. The High-
landers convert their houses into good manure. As they are chiefly
formed of turf, or foid, such frail tenements are only inhabited for a
short number of years, and, when they are taken down, the materials,
impregnated with smoke and soot, become a very useful compost. The
method by which the inhabitants of St. Kilda prepare their annual man-
ure, is singular, and apparently confined to that remote island. It is
composed of the ashes of their fires, the dung of their cattle, &c. which
accumulate on the floors of their houses during their long and dreary

The ancient method of conveying manure to the ground, general
throughout Scotland, but now confined to the Highlands, was simple
and expeditious. Two semi-circular creels, or baskets, one and a half
or two feet long, formed of strong wattle work, were suspended on each
side, of the horse, by means of ropes made of the pliant twigs of the
birch or willow, and affixed to the clubbar, or saddle, which rests on the
fleat, or summac, a sort of mat composed in general of straw and rushes
interwoven. The bottom of the creels are attached to the side nearest
the horse by twig hinges, so that it can be opened and closed, being
fastened when full, by means of sticks which are slipped into nooses at
either end of the basket. When the contents are to be discharged, the
sticks of both baskets are simultaneously withdrawn, and the manure
lulls to the ground, but to do this properly requires peculiar address,
for, should one side be discharged before the other, the apparatus is in-
stantly overturned, to the great merriment of the other laborers. This
method, apparently so awkward, is yet efficient, and is performed with
celerity. Six loads of the Highland ponies are equal to a cart load, and
the. manure is more equally spread, and in much less time, than by carting

* Pliny, xvii. 7. t Berkeley MS.

t Pliny, xvii. Ibid. 8



The particular systems of agriculture, pursued by the ancient Celts
and modern Gael, are not very remarkable. They varied a little, ac-
cording to the nature of the ground and other circumstances, the art
being pursued with simplicity, but with considerable success. The Ubi-
ans, we have seen, dug their land three feet deep, which was more than
could be done by the plough; but we do not know how they disposed of
the stones, where numerous, in clearing their fields. They may have
accumulated them in certain places, as was the practice in Scotland,
where the Draonaich collected them in numerous small heaps, leaving
the intermediate spaces clear for cultivation. This is observable around
all the sites of their dwellings, and differs from the later practice, which
appears to have been occasioned by the operation of ploughing, the stones
being thrown on each side, forming alternate ridges, with the clear land,
and denominated rigs and baulks. The Welsh, Cambrensis informs us,
used not to till during the year round, as in other places, but in March and
April, once for oats, and in summer twice. For wheat, they only dug
up the land once in winter. The Irish were formerly censured for their
ill management, in having hay and corn harvest at the same time.* The
unfavorable climate and sterility of the land are heavy disadvantages to
the Highland agriculturist. From the mountainous nature of the count-
ry, he is obliged, in many parts, carefully to turn all the earth into one
part, forming thereby an artificial bed, while the hollow on each side
serves to carry off the water, which otherwise would wash down the
scanty soil. The ridges are called in the Low country lazy beds, a
name not very applicable, considering the labor necessary to raise and
preserve them on the acclivity of steep hills. In such situations, no
other plan of cultivation could possibly be adopted; the name, however,
is often appropriate, when such beds are formed where the uniform depth
of soil obviates any necessity for them. These spots of cultivation,
scattered over a rugged hill, have a singular appearance.

The Highlander might certainly improve his methods of cultivation,
for in many things he is deficient. The ground cannot be very clean
when it is tilled in the spring only, nor can it be very productive when
not subjected to proper rotation of crops; but in objecting to the Celtic
practices, it is right to bear in mind that in parts of the island, where
natural obstacles did not check improvement, agriculture remained long
in a state of great rudeness. Even in England, the farmers continued
extremely ignorant, and, consequently, unsuccessful. In the reigns of
Edward I. and II. they set beans by hand, and leazed the seed wheat
from the ear itself, and in the time of Richard, they had not adopted the
simple and efficient mode of improving pasture by penning the sheep
progressively over the field, but gave themselves the trouble of carrying
the dung in small quantities from a distant fold.

The harvest of the ancient Britons was by no means late. Caesar,

* Riche.


according to the calculation of Halley, arrived on the 26th of August,
and the crop was almost all cut down, only one field, that had been later
than usual, being observed standing. In the Highlands, where the
climate is so disadvantageous, it seems unaccountable that the inhabi-
tants should be partial to late sowing; they indeed give a reason, which
may be allowed its weight, without however proving the system of
management to be good: if the seed was put earlier in the ground, the
Highland farmer alleges it would be smothered with weeds.

That the Highlanders retain several old and ridiculous superstitions
respecting their agricultural operations, cannot be matter of surprise,
when their more refined neighbors in the Low country, and the inhab-
itants of England, have not relinquished equally absurd and unmeaning
observances. In the most flourishing ages of Greece and Rome, the
farmers were incredibly superstitious regarding the seasons, the influence
of planets, the winds, &c.

The Highlanders think the moon ripens their corn as much as the sun
does. This, like most popular beliefs, is founded on experience, although
the effect is erroneously deduced. In clear and settled weather, when
the moon is unclouded by night, as the sun is by day, the crop must
obviously ripen well. A superstition, lately very prevalent, seems to
have originated in the times of paganism. It was the custom throughout
Scotland to leave a portion of land untilled, which was called, " the
good man's croft," or " the old man's fold," a practice which the Elders'
of the Kirk, in 1594, exerted their utmost influence to abolish,* without
effect. This hallowed spot is believed to have been the place where the
Druids invoked the divine blessing on the corn and cattle of the owner,t
or where he himself sacrificed for an abundant crop.

In noticing the various implements used by the Celtic agriculturist, it
will be seen that he possessed many ingenious articles that are gener-
ally supposed the invention of later ages. The PLOUGH was used by the
Gauls in their agricultural operations, and was called Planarat, Plum-
arat, or more probably, as commentators have observed, Pflugradt.J
The Celtic plough was very ingeniously constructed, for it was provided
with two small wheels, and the shares were large and broad, turning up
large turfs and casting a good furrow.^ The practice was to make but
two or three bouts and as many ridges, and one yoke of oxen were able
to prepare forty acres of good land.Sj This seems to resemble the
alternate ridges, which the old Scots formed, by their manner of plough-
ing, which received the descriptive appellation or rigs and baulks. The
plough was very early in use among the Britons, if we could trust the
relation of Geoffry of Monmouth, who says, Dunwallo, a prince who
flourished 500 years before Christ, was a great encourager of agriculture,
which he seems to have considered as an occupation connected with
religion. A law assigned to him, enjoins the ploughs of husbandmen,

* Arnott's History of Edinburgh. t Rev. Mr. Johnstone, of Monlquhiter.

| Pliny, xviii. 18. ed. Lugd. 1668. Ibid.


and the temples of the gods to be sanctuaries. Eltud, or Iltuttis, im-
proved agriculture, and taught the art of ploughing, until which time the
land was dug with the spade and pickaxe in the Irish manner,* and no
man was allowed to use a plough who could not make one. The ropes,
or harness, were to be made of twisted willows; and it was not unusual
for six or eight individuals to associate for the purpose of supplying
themselves with this implement, and for their regulation many curious
laws were enacted. | The old Irish plough was drawn by five or six
horses yoked abreast, and five men were required to conduct the opera-
tion. J In the beginning of the seventeenth century, ten shillings annually
were exacted for permitting the use of their "short ploughs," which
were drawn by the horse's rump, a practice not altogether unknown
among the Highlanders, among whom it was common to break a colt by
tying a harrow to his tail. The Irish were so fond of this barbarous
custom, that they petitioned the Deputy to be allowed to continue it
without being taxed; but they were answered that the law was not so
severe as in 1606, when a garron was the penalty for the first year's use
of one plough in that manner, and for the second year two; and as the
practice occasioned the loss of so many horses, it was necessary to
abolish it. The Irish are described by Spenser as Ct great plowers, and
small spenders of corne."

In many places of Gaelic Scotland, a small plough, called a ristle, is
used, and employed to precede the larger sort. Its chief peculiarity is
the culter, shaped like a sickle, to cut along the turf. In these parts
deep ploughing is avoided, on account of the high winds to which they
are subject, and which sometimes blow both seed and soil away.

The old Thraple plough is now seldom to be seen, except in the
remote Highlands, or in the Orkneys. In Argyleshire, it continued to
be used on some farms about twenty years ago, but was fast giving way
to the more improved manufacture. In some places it was called the
Rotheram plough, and was rude and simple in its construction, and
awkward in its management. It was entirely composed of wood, with
the exception of the culter and sock, and had but one stilt. It was
drawn by four garrons or oxen, yoked abreast to a cross bar; which was
fastened to the beam by thongs of raw hide or ropes of hair; and he who
managed the stilt, held it close and firm to his right thigh, to protect
which he had a sheep or other animal's skin wrapped around it. To keep
the plough sufficiently deep in the earth, a person was required to press
it down, while another performed the office of driver by placing himself
between the two central animals, where he walked backwards, |j protect-
ing himself from falling by placing both arms over their necks. The
mould-board was ribbed or furrowed, in order to break the land, and old
people declare that the soil yielded better crops after being ploughed in

* Triad, 56. i Leges Wallicaj. } Riche.

Des. cur. Hib. Ulster paid 870 of this tax.

|| Gir, Camb. describes the Welsh ploughman, likewise, as walking backwards.


this manner than it does by the modern practice. The supposition is,
that by the old method the soil was more equally broken up.

That excellent instrument the CASCROM, literally crooked foot, a kind
of foot plough, which the Highlanders can manage with great dexterity,
and which is too little known,* is still used in mountainous districts, and,
from its excellent adaptation to the culture of rugged and steep hills, where
a plough cannot be used, is not likely ever to be superseded by any im-
provement. With the same labor it will perform nearly double the work
of a spade. It consists of a strong piece of wood, five to seven feet in
length, bent between one and two feet from the lower end, which is shod
with iron fixed to the wood by means of a socket. The iron part is five
or six inches long, and about five inches broad. At the angle, a piece
of wood projects about eight inches from the right side, and on this the
foot is placed, by which the instrument is forced diagonally into the ground
and pushed along, as may be seen from the vignette. By a jerk from
the shaft, which acts as a powerful lever, eight or ten inches in breadth
of the soil is raised from a depth of eight to twelve inches, according to
circumstances, and dexterously thrown to the left side. Eight, 'ten, or
a dozen of men are sometimes employed working with the cascrom.
They arrange themselves in a line at the bottom of the hill, with their
backs to the acclivity, and with surprising rapidity turn over the rough
and scanty soil, forming, in their operations, an extended cut or trench,
like a plough-furrow. This is repeated as they gradually ascend the
hill backwards, and the land so labored is very productive. One
active man can turn more in a day with this instrument than four men
with common spades. Munro describes Tarnsay and other islands, in
1549, as " weil inhabit and mariurit; bot all this fertill is delved with
spaides, excepting sa meikell as ane horse-plough will teil, and zet they
have maist abundance of beir and meikell of corne."

The Casdireach, or spade with a straight handle, is also in consider-
able use. The Manx have an implement similar to this, furnished with
an iron spur for placing the foot upon; it is about four inches wide at
the end, and well adapted for rough and stony ground. Serviceable
spades are formed, in the North, of fir-wood shovels, imported from
Norway in exchange for meal, and afterwards shod with iron.

The spade used for casting or cutting turf for building or covering
houses, &,c. called also the divot, and the flaugter spade, is a sort of
breast plough, used by a person who presses his body with all his strength
against it, forcing it before him, and nicely cutting off the grassy or short
heathy surface of the ground. The laborer protects his thighs by a
sheep's skin, or several folds of plaid, hung like an apron before him, and
will cut nearly 1000 turfs per day. It may be noticed that in the LOAV
country, the Highlanders are esteemed the best laborers at trenching or
other hard agricultural work. The Gaulish method was to sow immedi-

* Sir. John Sinclair.


ately after the plough, and cover the seed by means of harrows, aftei
which the land required no more weeding. These harrows were fur-
nished with iron teeth. In the Isle of Lewis there was formerly, if it
does not still exist, a peculiar sort of harrow. It was small, and provided
with wooden teeth in the first and second bars, to break the soil;
in the third was fastened heath to smooth it, and a man dragged it
along by means of a strong hair rope across his breast. Iron teeth are
seldom used in the Highlands, because they bury the seed too deep in
the earth, which wooden ones, from their lightness, do not.

While the Romans reaped their corn with a sickle, the Gauls, whose
fields were remarkably large, went to work in a more expeditious manner,
and cut down their crops by means of a scythe, used by both hands, an
implement for which we thus seem to be indebted to these people, who
appear to have been more anxious to finish their labors as quickly as
possible than desirous of executing their work nicely, for they did not
cut close, but rather mowed down the tops.* They had also another
ingenious method of cutting down their largest fields, which shows not a
little perfection in the mechanical arts. A large machine, resembling a
van, was constructed, in which the horse was yoked so as to push it
before him. The sides were furnished with sharp teeth or knives, and
this carriage being driven into the field, the ears of corn were cut off,
and, at the same time, were thrown into the body of the car, which
was made to receive them!"]" Giraldus says the Welsh reaped with
an instrument like the blade of a knife, and a wooden handle at each
end. In the Scillies, the corn is reaped with sickles, but it is all
laid down regularly as it would be by a scythe. J The Britons were
as regardless of the straw as the Gauls, reaping their corn by cutting
off the ears only.

The harvest work in the Highlands is performed in a very creditable
manner. The women are the chief reapers, and, in the words of Mr.
Marshall, who drew up the Agricultural Report of the central Highlands,
they cut it "low, level, and clean, to a degree I have never before
observed." Lint also, which is said to be a late introduction to the
Highlands, is allowed to be a well-managed crop. It is carefully weed-
ed by the women on their hands and knees. In so variable and
unpropitious a climate as that of the north of Scotland, much care was
required in guarding the crop from injury when growing, and after it
was reaped. In Sutherland and Caithness, the Highlanders had observ-
ed that if the hoar frost remained on the corn when the sunbeams of the
morning first struck upon the crop, it became blighted; they were
theiefore accustomed to go to their fields before the sun arose, and with
a rope made of heath, held by a person at each end, and pulled along
the top of the corn, the frost was shaken off. The usual method of
oiling the corn in shocks, consisting of twelve sheaves, prevails in the

* Pliuy, xviii 28. t Pliny, c. 30. | Troutbeck.


Highlands, but in some of the Northern counties it was preserved in
small round heaps resembling beehives, which were well thatched
all round, and denominated bykes.* The sheaves are also, in many
parts, set up singly. It is usual to have the upper parts of the gables of
barns formed of wattle work, so constructed as to throw off the rain and
admit a thorough draft of air, a most judicious plan in a climate so wet.
It would have been much to the advantage of the husbandmen of former
years, in more favored parts of the country, to have had similar buildings,
for want of which they were obliged to keep the corn on the ground as long
as they possibly could. In 1358, an inundation in Lothian swept away
the sheaves that were laid out to dry at Christmas eve! f It is to dry
hay and corn that the spacious and elegant barns of the Duke of Argyle
were erected in Glenshira.

The Britons laid up the corn in the ear, and preserved it in subterra-
neous caves or granaries, J a practice also of the Celtiberians. They
deposited it in pits from which the damp and air was carefully excluded,
and in these receptacles wheat so preserved remained fresh and good for
fifty years, and millet for even more than 100.^ The Thracians stored
up their grain in similar vaults, and in the ear also, which Pliny recom-
mends as the best method of preserving it.

Throughout Scotland, but especially in Highland districts, are found
subterraneous buildings of rude but substantial formation. These are
the eird or earth-houses before noticed, built of loose stones, and cover-
ed with large flags, which may have often served as the hiding-places
of the natives, but were, in most cases, there is every reason to believe,
the places where the grain of the inhabitants was deposited for security.
The remarkable number of earth-houses at Kildrummy has been refer-
red to. All these subterraneous apartments are accompanied by a sort
of square inclosure or space, level, and somewhat lower than the sur-
rounding ground, and by noticing these places, one is often able to dis-
cover the caves; which, from examination, were evidently the storehouses
of the ancient inhabitants. Many of the inclosures have been cleared
out, and numbers of hand mill-stories have been invariably found. That
these recesses were designed chiefly for the deposition of grain, we
may safely conclude from the known practice of the Celtic tribes,
who were accustomed to take from their stores a requisite quantity of
grain daily, spending their time in the woods hunting, or in warfare.
The muirs of Achindoer and Kildrurnmie were eligible positions for the
granaries of surrounding tribes, being warm and champaign, inclosed by
lofty ridges of hill, and, as it were, just within the mountains. They
were not less favorably situated for cultivation; and to this day " Kil-
drumrnie oats" are esteemed before others in the Northern counties. To
these plains the natives resorted for their daily supplies of corn, which
they always ground for immediate use.

* Pen. i. 202. t Fordun. xv. 21.

+ Diod. v. Varro.


Those remarkable hollows on the borders of Wilt and Somerset shires,
qalled Pen pits, are most singular remains of former ages. A space
comprising more than 700 acres has been excavated into pits, in shape
like an inverted cone; and various conjectures have been formed as to
the purpose for which so numerous and close an assemblage was intend-
ed. As hand mill-stones have been found, I believe, in all that have
been examined, and as the situation is so dry that no water has ever
been known to stagnate in them, it appears probable that Pen pits were
the store-houses of the aboriginal tribes who lived in that part of the
country, and who in this place had their common granaries, whence they
supplied themselves as occasion might require.

The most early method of separating the grain from the straw was by
means of cattle, who, by repeatedly treading, effected the object. This
was the mode in practice among the Jews in most ancient times, and the
Romans either trampled their corn in the same manner, or pressed it
with the tribula, a sort of dray made of rough board. The Gauls and
Britons, however, used a Flail,* which performed the work much better,
and in much less time. This implement was introduced in Italy about
fifty years before Christ, but the Roman husbandmen, notwithstanding
the encouragement given to agriculture, were inferior to the Gauls, for
they continued to use their oxen in treading out their grain, to whose
assistance a roller, or heavy stone was added, j~ being the only improve-
ment made on the old plan, and the awkward practice is retained to the
present day.J

The inhabitants of Scotland continue to use the flail, where thrashing
mills have not been erected, and where mills or farm houses are not
provided with winnowing machines, the chaff is separated from the grain
by sifting it in the open air, when the weather permits, or between the
opposite doors of a barn, the draft of air carrying aside the lighter parti-
cles. Some of these buildings are constructed of an angular form, in
order to catch the wind blowing from any point. The Waight, guil, an
implement for winnowing, is a sheep-skin, the wool being removed, of
about on foot and a half in diameter, stretched on a hoop, like that on a
drum head. In these the corn is exposed to the wind, and the chaff
blown away, a light work, which the Highlanders commit to the women.

The most obvious, and consequently the first practised, method of
reducing grain to flour, for the composition of bread, is by simple pound-
ing. The Gauls had early arrived at the art of grinding their corn by
a hand mill, which was also used by the Britons before they were visited
by the Romans. This people, otherwise so greatly advanced in civ-
ilisation and refinement, had not altogether discontinued the practice
of bruising and pounding their grain, even in the time of Vespasian
The hand mill is of great antiquity, as appears from many passages n
the Scriptures. Pausanias ascribes its invention to Myleta, the son of

* Whitaker. t Colum. ii. 22.

t Blunt's Vestiges of Ancient Manners, p. 209. Pliny.


JLelex. That of the British tribes was called Quern, and in Scotland,
where its use is still by no means rare, it retains the same name.* Grind-
ing by the hand stone appears very awkward to those who are accustomed
to good machinery, for it takes two women four hours to grind a bushel,
and it is to this work which Barnaby Riche alludes, when he says that
the women in the North of Ireland ground their corn " unhandsomely."
The manner of preparing the grain for the quern was called Graddaning,
a term which comes from grad, quick; but Jamieson derives it from the
.Norse word gratti, descriptive of the grit stone, of which the quern was
made, whence are the Danish gryte, to grind; the English grits, German
grout, Swedish groet, and Scots grots and crovvdy. The process was
thus conducted. A woman sitting down takes a handful of corn, which
she holds by the stalks in her left hand. She then sets fire to the ears, and
being provided with a stick in her right hand, she dexterously beats off
the grain at the very instant when the husk is quite burnt, neither allow-
ing the grain to be injured, nor striking before it is ready to fall. This
practice is chiefly confined to the Western Islands and most remote
districts of the main land. The usual method, in Badenoch and else-
where, is this: the corn is switched out of the ear with a stick, fanned or
separated from the chaff, and put in a Scots pot stuck in the fire,
while a person keeps turning it with a wooden spatula, called speilag, in
the same manner as coffee is roasted in some places. This manner of
preparation is called araradh, often improperly written Eirench. " I
have seen," says a gentleman from Laggan, " the corn cut, dried
ground, baked, and eaten in less than two hours." A laborer returning
from his day's work carried home as much corn in the sheaf as he re-
quired for his supper and next day's provision.

The water mill -is believed to be an invention of the Romans, and
communicated by them to the Britons; we, however, read that Coel,
grandson of Caradoc ap Bran, first made " a mill, wheel with wheel."
The Gael of Albion were earlier acquainted with the nature of mill ma-
chinery than those of Erin, for about the year 220 Cormac Mac Art,
King of Ireland, sent notice to carpenters from Albin to make for him a
mill. | The horizontal mill, in Shetland called a tirl, and used in some
parts of the Highlands, is a very simple piece of machinery.

There was usually a mill on each barony, and the Laird, to secure
the multure or miller's fee, was solicitous to break the querns. The
miller on every Lairdship had usually a croft for his support, besides the
legal multures and sequels, i. e. the perquisites of the miller and his man.
In Scots' law, thirlage is the servitude by which lands are astricted to a
particular mill, being bound to have their corn ground there on certain
terms. The district or lands thus bound are termed the sucken, and the
payments are the multure or quantity of grain or meal exacted by the
heritor or his tacksman, and the sequels or those quantities given to the
servants under the names of knaveship, bannock, and lock, or gowpen.

* The quern is still used in the Scillies t Keating.



In the Highlands the thirle is called siucam, and the multures are term
i ed cis. The tenant paid a certain measure out of every boil to the chief,
, half that measure to the miller, and a quarter to the gille-mullin, or
miller's man.

The Gauls refined or sifted the flour by sieves of horse hair, which
were their own invention, and the (Jeltiberians improved on the discove-
ry, by making two sorts, both formed of fine linen.*

The British tribes were sufficiently skilful to construct cars of superior
workmanship for war, and had evidently machines for the purposes of
traffic!, but it does not appear how far they made use of those conveyan-
ces in their agricultural operations. In Caledonia, the mountainous
nature of the cou itry almost precluded the use of wheel carriages. All
work which cou'd not be performed by manual labor was executed by
horses^ for which the farmer was obliged to keep considerably more than
appeared to Lowland farmers compatible with good management. For
this they are still condemned, but it is an overstocking which is unavoida-
ble. In 1778. on a Highland farm, where one hundred and ten bolls of
oats, and thirty-six of bear, were sown, there was not a wheel carriage
of any description. f A wagon, or vehicle where the thill horse does not
bear the weight, is well adapted for the Highlands, where it seems
unknown. The old cart, the use of which is not yet entirely discontinued,
was formed wholly of wood. The wheels were of ash or other hard wood,
two feet and a half in diameter, and three inches in thickness, and were
fixed to the axle, which moved with them, and the traces were fastened
to a hoop of birch wood around the axle. Between the trarns or thills a
conical basket was placed, into which the fuel or manure was put, and,
to unload the carriage, the driver had a method of oversetting and
replacing it with great facility. The Irish car appears to be similar to
this machine. In the Isle of Man, a sort of sledges are used, composed
of two shafts, widening towards the end, but connected by five or six
cross bars, and dragged along the ground. Oxen, it has been stated by
a respectable author, are not worked in any part of the Highlands. The
Welsh, by their ancient laws, were prohibited from using any other animal
for the plough. A usual mode of conveyance is by the crubban, a trian-
gular machine formed of rods, and suspended across the horse's back on
each side. It is well adapted for carrying peats, corn in sacks, hay, &.c.
A sort of stout creels, of a similar construction, are called Rechailich,
and a tradition exists that the stones of which the bridge of Dee, near
Aberdeen, was built, about 1522, were conveyed by these means. A
sort of saddle, called a Clubbar, formed of wood, has a deep notch in
the top, for the purpose of holding a rope of straw, rushes, or heath, to
which are fastened, on each side the horse, a basket or bag, made of
straw, rushes, or floss, a sort of reed, and woven like a mat. They
p. re of an oval shape, about three feet wide at bottom, and two and a
half at tp, being about one foot eight inches deep, and capable of

* Pliny, xviii. 11. t Trans, of Highland Soc. i. 132.


-ontaining half a boll of oats. They are called cazzies, or ceises, and
are furnished with a handle or fettle at each end, by which they can be
carried, and have two straw or other ropes to tie the mouth, when full.
These simple and convenient articles are generally made during the
winter nights; they will last two years, and their value in the Northern
counties is perhaps fourpence or sixpence; but in Badenoch, where they
were chiefly employed in carrying cheese and butter from the sheelings,
they cost more. Highland garrons with these will travel through the
most rugged paths, each fastened to the tail of the other, however many
there may be, attended by one driver, and, when unloaded, the halter
of the foremost is tied to the tail of the last, so that it is impossible for
*hem to stray, as they can only move in a circle. This mode of fasten-
ing by the tail is thought an excellent method of breaking horses.

To conclude this chapter, it may be observed, that the state of the
old Highland tenantry was far from being slavish or uncomfortable.
Strangers seldom took farms, or indeed had the opportunity, for few were
ever removed from their ancient possessions, to which they thought they
had a sort of prescriptive right. The farm tenants of modern times have
generally a cow on the common pasture, and one, or one and a half
acres of land for vegetables, with the privilege of cutting grass on the
bogs, for which they pay a rent of five or six pounds. The freedom of a
pastoral and agricultural life is highly favorable to a military spirit, and it
did not escape the observation of the ancients, that their best troops were
raised in the country. The children born of husbandmen, says Cato,
are the most valiant and hardy soldiers, and the most intrepid.* The
late war e ced, in the case of the Highlanders, the truth of his remark

* Pliny, xviii. 5.

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