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The Scottish Nation

ARTHUR, a surname derived from Art-uir, signifying the chief or great man; hence the renowned Welsh prince, King Arthur, whose achievements have formed the subject of so much romantic fiction, and whose name has been traditionaló ly given to various places in Scotland, as well as in England and Wales. "It cannot easily be discovered," says Stoddart, "why several mountains in Scotland take their name from the Welsh prince, Arthur, of whom no other traces remain in this country; but it appears that they have been traditionally considered as places of sovereignty. Thus it is said that Ben Arthur (a lofty mountain-crag in the wilds of Glencroe, Aró gyleshire), being, at one period, the most elevated and conspicuous of the mountains in the domain of the Campbells, the heir to that chieftainship was obliged to seat himself on its loftiest peak, a task of some difficulty and danger, which, if he neglected, his lands went to the next relation sufficiently adventurous." Arthurís Seat in the immediate neighbourhood of Edinburgh is said to have taken its name from King Arthur having surveyed the country from its summit, previous to the eleventh battle which he fought against the Saxons, in the sixth century, and which, according to Whittaker, was decided on the castle - hill of Edinburgh. Pinkerton says that the name arose from the tournaments held near it, as did Arthurís round-table at Stirling. Arthur being quite popular in the centuries of chivalry and romance, (Enquiry into the History of Scotland, vol. i. p. 77, note; but there cannot be a question that the name of Arthurís Seat, as applied to the height immediately beside the palace of Holyrood, the residence of Scotlandís later kings, meant no more than the hill of the chief of sovereign of the whole country, without any reference at all to King Arthur of Welsh history. The same may be said of all the other places in Scotland to which his name has been given, and of which Chalmers in his Caledonia (vol. i. p. 244) has collected many notices. Arthurís fountain in the parish of Crawford, Clydesdale, is referred to in a grant made in 1239 by David de Lindsey to the monks of Newbottle, of the lands of Brother-alwyn in that district, as being bounded on the west, "a fonte Arthuri usque ad summitatem montis." (Cart. Newbottle, No. 148.) This, however, may only mean the fountain of the chief or great man of the district. The Welsh poets assign a palace to Arthur among the northern Britons at Penryn ryoneth, corre sponding to Dumbarton castle, which, as appears from a parliamentary record of the reign of David the Second in 1367, was, long before, named Castrum Arthuri. But this might mean only the castle or fort of the chief or sovereign. The romantic castle of Stirling was equally, during the middle ages, supposed to have been the festive scene of Arthurís round table. "Rex Arthurus," says William of Worcester, in his Itinerary, p. 811, "custodiebat le round-table in castro de Styrling alder, Snowdon-west-castell" Sir David Lindsay, in his ĎComplaintí of the Papingo, makes her take leave of Stirling castle thus:


"Adew, fair Snawdoun, with thy touris hie,
Thy chapell royall, park, and tabill round."

      In Neilston parish, Renfrewshire, there are three places of the name of Arthur-lee. The ancient monument of Arthurís Oven, or 'Oon,í on the Carron, which was demolished many years ago, was known by that name as early as the reign of Alexander the Third, if not earlier. Arthurís Seat near Edinburgh is not the only hill which bears the name. Not far from the top of Loch Long, that separates Argyle and Dumbarton, there is a conical bill also called Arthurís Seat, which is likewise the name given to a rock, on the north side of the hill of Dunbarrow in the parish of Dunnichen, Forfarshire. In the parish of Cupar-Angus, Perthshire, there is a standing stone called the Stone of Arthur; near it is a gentlemanís seat called Arthur-stone, and not far from it is a farm named Arthurís fold. At Meigle, in the same vicinity, some antique and curious monuments in the churchyard are associated by tradition with the name of the fabulous King Arthurís faithless queen, Vanora, Guenevra, or Ginevra. Arthur is, besides, the apparent founder of a numerous clan, whose antiquity is proverbial among the Highlanders.

ARTHUR, ARCHIBALD, professor of moral philosophy in the university of Glasgow, eldest son of Andrew Arthur, a farmer, was born at AbbotísInch, Renfrewshire, September 6, 1744. He was taught Latin at the grammar school of Paisley, and studied for the ministry at Glasgow college, where, when yet a student, he lectured on church history for a whole session, during the absence of the professor, to the great satisfaction and improvement of the class. In October 1767 he was licensed as a preacher of the Church of Scotland, and soon after became chaplain to the university of Glasgow, and assistant to the Rev. Dr. Craig, one of the clergymen of that city. Becoming also librarian to the university, he compiled the catalogue of that library. In 1780 he was appointed assistant and successor to the venerable Dr. Reid, professor of moral philosophy, who died in 1796. Mr. Arthur taught the class fifteen years as assistant, and only held the chair as professor for one session, as he died on 14th June 1797. In 1803, Professor Richardson, of the same university, published a part of Arthurís lectures, under the title of ĎDiscourses on Theological and Literary Subjects,í 8vo, with a sketch of his life and character.

Arthur from the Dictionary of National Biography

King Arthur Pendragon
By Nigel Dryden Cunningham (2019) (pdf)

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