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The Highlanders of Scotland
Excursus and Notes



THE ethnology of the British Isles is still, despite the intelligent researches of the last fifty years, in an unsettled state. This is greatly due to the fact that the subject draws its materials from various subordinate or kindred sciences, and no one man has yet appeared who has been able to grasp with equal power the reins of all these sciences. The archaeologist deals with the monuments and other physical remains of man’s past, helped by the anatomist in deciding upon “skins and skulls,” a subject also dealt with by the anthropologist, whose sphere of science is man – his race, physique, and beliefs. The historian depends on his written or printed documents; while the latest to lend his aid, as a real, not an empirical, scientist, is the philologist. Much was done in former times in using language to decide racial points; but it is since Grimm and Zeuss some sixty years ago put philology on scientific lines that any good has accrued from this subject. It is still a science known thoroughly, especially for purposes of ethnology, only by a few.

      Without going back to the cave-men, and others of paleolithic times, when Britain and its isles formed a continuous part of Europe, we come to neolithic times, when unmistakably we have man of the New Stone Age. These neolithic men were comparatively small of stature, long-headed, and dark-haired. They buried in long barrows. The Bronze Age begins with the intrusion of a race tall in stature, broad-headed, and fair-haired, with beetling grows – a splendid race physically and mentally. They buried in round barrows. Some – indeed, most – ethnologists regard these men as the first wave of the Celts; some say of Gadelic, or perhaps Gadelic and Pictish. They are allied by physique to several past and present races on the Continent – the modern Walloons, for instance, and the old Helvetii. The view maintained by the Editor is that the Gadels or ancient Gales and the Picts both belonged to the great Aryan Race, and originally possessed the tall stature, blond hair, and long heads which are postulated for the pure Aryan. The Aryan Race, or rather the Aryan-speaking Race, is a discovery of modern or scientific philology. It was discovered some sixty years ago that the languages of the various nations – barring a very few – dwelling from Ireland to Ceylon, ultimately came from one original tongue. In short, the chief Indian languages, Persian, Slavonic, Lettic, Teutonic, Greek, Latin, and Celtic, are descended from one mother-tongue. For a long time it has been a matter of dispute where this original language had its habitat. It is now agreed that southern Russia and ancient Poland formed the home of the Aryan tongue. The dispersion of the Aryan-speaking people began some four thousand years ago. The Celts lay on the upper reaches of the Danube until the dawn of history begins; the Latins and they were nearest of kin of any of the other leading branches. The Celts spread over Germany to the shores of the North Sea, and then, about 600 B.C., or indeed earlier, they entered Gaul and pushed on their conquests into Spain, and later into northern Italy. They were at the height of their power in the fourth century, spreading from the west of Ireland to the mouth of the Danube, and in 279 they overran Asia Minor, settling down to the limits of Galatia about 250 B.C. Such an “empire” might satisfy Rome itself. But it had no centre, and soon crumbled, after two hundred years’ domination.

      The Celts all unite on one philologic peculiarity: every Aryan initial p has been lost. In the course of their dispersion over Europe they divided into two dialects over the Aryan sound qv (as in Lat. quod Eng. quantity). The one dialect made it k or q purely, the other made it p; and we speak of P and Q Celts for brevity’s sake. The Belgic Gauls, the Britons and Welsh, and the Picts, were P Celts; the Gadels or Gaels of all ages were Q Celts. Most of Gaul spoke the P variety of Celtic. The Celts, of course, pushed westward into Britain. It is usually thought that the Gadels came first. The common notion naturally is that they swarmed into England about 600 B.C., and were thence driven westward into Ireland by the advancing Belgic tribes. Undoubtedly Gadels were in Wales and Devonshire in the fifth century A.D., settled as inhabitants. These, however, are accounted for as the invaders of the Roman Province of Britain during the invasions of the Scots and Picts from 360 to 500. Indeed, in 366, and for a few years, the Province of Britain was ruled, or misruled, by Crimthann, High-King of Ireland. Theodosius arrived in 369, and drove out the invaders. As early as 200, settlements were made by expelled Gaels in South Wales. Besides this, Gaelic inscriptions of the fifth and sixth centuries in Ogam are found in South Wales, and one or two in old Cornavia. Professor Rhys is the great protagonist for the view that the Gadelic tongue was continuous in Wales from the time of the first Gadels till the seventh century. On the other side, Professor Kuno Meyer asserts that “no Gale ever set his foot on British soil save frm a vessel that had put out from Ireland,” a dictum with which the present writer agrees.

      The tradition among the Gaels of Ireland themselves is that they came from Spain to Ireland. It is more likely that, starting from Gaul, they skimmed along the southern shore of England – perhaps the Picts were then in possession of the country – and thus arrived in Ireland. Their own traditions and there being no other trace of them in Britain before the Christian era prove this contention. As already said, the date of their arrival must be about 600 or 500 B.C.

      About the same time the Picts came across, possibly from what was afterwards the land of the Saxon invaders of England, and may have colonised Scotland first, bringing there the red-haired, large-limbed Caledonians of Tacitus. In any case, the Picts must have been the predominant race in Britain in the fourth century B.C., when the Greek voyager, Pytheas, made his rounds of the northern seas. He calls the people of Britain Pretanoi or Prettanoi; this might be a Celtic Qretani, present Gaelic Cruithne, possibly from cruth, figure, so called because they tattooed themselves, whence Lat. Picti, painted men. The fact that Pictavia was also the name of a large Gaulish province makes this last statement doubtful. It may, however, be inferred that this Greek from Prettania gave rise to the name Britain – a bad Latin pronunciation of Prettania. Prof. Rhys here objects, and pints out that Pliny mentions a tribe of Britanni as situated at the mouth of the Somme, not very far from Kent; that there was such a tribe is proved by the modern town-name of Bretagne. If Prof. Rhys is right, he must postulate that part of Kent was inhabited by these Britanni, and that from this little colony came the name of the whole island. No Britanni are mentioned as in Britain, and it is likely that the tribe on the Somme were some returned emigrants from Britain. The Welsh call the Picts Prydyn (from pyrd, figure), which again agrees with Gaelic derivation (Gaelic cruth, whence Cruithne, is, in Welsh, pryd). Britain is Welsh Prydain, the same word as that for Pict. Hence the Picts are the “figured” men both in the Gadelic and Brittonic languages. These are the Editor’s views, and the proof must be deferred till we come to treat the Pictish question.

      ‘We are on firm historic ground in regard to the last Belgic invasion of Celts from the Continent. The Belgic Gauls crossed over into Britain before Caesar’s time, for he found them in possession of at least the eastern portion of England; the language was the same on both sides of the Channel, some tribe names, such as the Atrebates, were common to both, and King Divitiacus ruled both in Gaul and Britain. Caesar speaks of the Britons of the interior as aboriginal, no doubt referring to the west coast and to Scotland. In any case, the Belgae seem at the time of the Roman conquest to have possessed Britain as far as the Forth – at least its eastern half, being probably in much the same position as we find the Anglo-Saxons about 613. The Picts had been conquered or driven west and north; we know they inhabited all northern Scotland then, and possibly what was afterwards the Kingdom of Strathclyde. Tacitus mentions the Silures in South Wales as a dark curly-haired people, and argues their Spanish origin. These Silures are now recognised as the survivors of the Iberians of the Neolithic age.

      In Scotland, therefore, at the beginning of the Christian era, the racial position would be thus: Belgic Gauls in the eastern portion of the country from the Firth of Forth to the Tweed; parallel to them in the western half, from the Firth of Clyde to the Solway, were the Picts, still retreating. The rest of the Picts filled the remaining portion of Scotland from the Firths to Cape Wrath and the Orkney Isles. The previous Iberian population, with its admixture of Bronze-age men, were absorbed by the Celts or driven westwards, where, among the Isles and on the West Coast, plenty traces of them are still in evidence. The Roman occupation of the district between the Walls, that is from the Tyne and Solway to the Clyde and Forth Wall, no doubt added a new ethnologic factor to the population there; and the Brittonic or Belgic Gauls undoubtedly came to possess Strathclyde and Dumbarton (the “dune” of the Britons). In the sixth century the Anglo-Saxons entered Scotland. The Celts called them Saxons because that tribe formed the first Teutonic raiders and invaders of Britain, the Gadelic tribes receiving the name from the Brittonic peoples. It was, however, the Angles that conquered the eastern half of Scotland to the Firth of Forth.

      Meanwhile the Scots, who had helped the Picts to harass the Roman province for a hundred years, had acquired settlements on the Argyleshire coast and in the Isles. The Scots were simply the inhabitants of Ireland; it was their own name for themselves. Isidore of Saville (600 A.D.) Says the name in the Scottic language meant “tattooed,” and, as a matter of fact, the root word is still alive in the language – Gaelic sgath, lot off; old Irish scothaim, allied to English scathe. This makes both Gadels and Picts mean “men of the tattoo.” Dr. Whitley Stokes prefers the root skot, property; German schatz, stock; and translates the word as “owners, masters.” The first invasion of Scotland by the Scots is set down by the Irish annalists as in the latter half of the second century (circ. 160 A.D.) Under Cairbre Riata, whom Bede calls Reuda (Gadelic *Reiddavos “Ready-man?”) Riata gave his name to the Irish and Scotch Dál-Riadas both – “the Tribal portion of Riata.” Possibly additions took place during the Picts and Scots alliance of 360 to (say) 460, but in any case a great accession to the Scots on the West Coast was the arrival, in 501, of the sons of Erc from Dalriada; they founded the little kingdom of Dalriada, practically Argyleshire and its Isles, though the original Argyle extended from the Mull of Kintyre to Lochbroom, as our earliest documents show. It means “Coastland of the Gael” – Airer-Gaidheal. When the Norse came about 800, they called the Minch Scotland Fjord, which shows that the Gael practically held the West coast entire, and the Picts held the East Coast to Pettland Fjord, or Pictland Fjord, now Pentland. The name Scot and Scotland came to be applied to the Scottish kingdom in the tenth century by English writers – the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle calls Constantine, who fought unsuccessfully at Brunanburg, in 938, King of Scotland. The Irish, who were called by this time Hibernienses, or Hiberni, by outsiders, dropped the name Scot and called themselves Goedel, or, later, Gaoidheal, “Gael.” This is the name that the Highlanders still call themselves by – Gàidheal. Unfortunately, the oldest Irish form dates only from 1100 – Góedel, which would give a Gadelic form, *Gaidelos, but Scottish Gaeli points to *Gâdilos or Gâidelos, and from various considerations seems the correcter form, giving a root gâd, Eng. good, Gothic gadiliggs, relative; German gatte, husband. The idea is “kinsman,” as in the case of the native name for Welshman – Cymro, whence Cymric, *Com-brox, a “co-burger,” where brox or broges (plural) is from the root mrog, land; Lat. margo, Eng. mark, march.

      The next invasion of Scotland, which gave her a most important accession of population in the Isles, the West Coast, and in Sutherland and Caithness, was made by the Norse about 795. Our historians seem little to understand either its extent in time and place or the great change it wrought in the ethnological character of the districts held by the Norse. Of this we shall speak at its proper place in notes on Chapter V. The Norman invasion extended even to Scotland, and Celtic earls and barons, either through failure of heirs male or otherwise, soon and in great numbers were succeeded by Normans and Angles.

      It will thus be seen that the Scottish people are ethnologically very much mixed. The Caledonians, as Dr. Beddoe points out, still show German, or rather Walloon, characteristics. Norse features are predominant in Lewis and the northern Isles generally, though Iberian and other (such as Spanish) elements are strong. The East Coast is largely Teutonic. The old burghs were planted by the Canmore dynasty in the northern districts to keep the ordinary population in order, and towns like Inverness were from the first in the hands of Flemish and other Teutonic traders.


      Till criticism began with Father Innes’s Essay on the Ancient Inhabitants of Scotland in 1729, the Scottish historians taught that the Picts and Scots were two separate nations living side by side, each speaking a language of its own. These historians gave their attention nearly altogether to the story and genealogy of the Scots, representing Kenneth Mac Alpin in 843 as overthrowing and even extirpating the Picts, insomuch that their language and their name were lost. Father Innes’s Essay, among other things, holds that though Kenneth Mac Alpin, the Scot, had to fight for his Pictish throne, yet he was rightful heir, but he proves that there was no extirpation of the Picts. Their language, as a dialect of Celtic, like British (Welsh) and Gaelic, naturally gave way to the Court and Church language of Kenneth and his dynasty, which was Gaelic – such is his easy-going method of getting rid of a national language. Later on Pinkerton, who had an anti-Celtic craze, put the Picts in the foreground of his historic picture of Scotland before 843; he regarded them as Gothic or Teutonic – ancestors of the Lowland Scots, who wiped out the Dalriadic Kingdom about 740. The king of the straggling remnant of Dalriads, one hundred years later, became, in the person of Kenneth Mac Alpin, also King of Picts. George Chalmers (1807), sanest critic of them all, regarded the Picts as Cymric or British by race and language, and of course accepted the usual story of the Scottish Chronicles. Mr. Skene, in the first edition of the present work, in 1837, adopted Pinkerton’s revolutionary ideas about the Picts and the Scottish Conquest, but with the great difference that he regarded the Picts as Gaelic-speaking, using the same language as the Scots. In fact, he held that there was no change of race or language at the so-called Scottish Conquest, which was no conquest at all, but a mere matter of succession on Kenneth’s part according to Pictish law. This may be called the “Uniformitarian” theory of early Scottish history: nobody conquered anybody, and the great Pictish nation was, as before, in language and race, the main body of the Scottish Kingdom, and most certainly ancestors of the present-day Scottish Highlanders – at any rate the Northern Picts were so. The Southern Picts he allows in 1837 to be conquered by Kenneth Mac Alpin, but in Celtic Scotland he only admits that Britons were between the Tay and the Forth – the Britons of Fortrenn being mentioned in the Irish Chronicles – and gave Kings to the Picts, as the Kings’ lists compelled him to admit; but these Britons were Cornish (Camnonii of Cornwall and Dumnonii of Mid-Scotland, according to Ptolemy’s geography, were likely the same people in Skene’s view). This very plausible theory has for the last sixty years held the field in Scottish history; indeed, the popular historians of Scotland – Dr. Hume Brown and Mr. Andrew Lang – regard the Picts as purely Gaels, and kill off the Dalriads in the time of the terrible Pictish King, Angus Mac Fergus (About 740). The obscurity of Kenneth Mac Alpin’s succession is insisted upon. Mr. Lang, as might be expected, is really “funny” on the subject. Writing about Prof. Zimmer’s expression that the Scots “took away the independence of the Picts,” he says: – “We might as easily hold that James VI. took away the independence of the English by becoming King, as that Kenneth Mac Alpin, a Pict by female descent [?], did as much for the Picts.” Dr. Skene has retarded the progress of scientific research into early Scottish history for at least a generation. This sort of thing, as shown by Lang’s case, will go on for many a day yet, let Celtic scholars do what they like.

      Modern Celtic scholars have reverted to the old position of the Chronicles. Respect for the authority of contemporaries like Bede and Cormac, and, we may add, Adamnan, compels them so to do, not to mention the authority of the Chronicles; philological facts, scientifically dealt with, and considerations of customs, especially in regard to marriage, hold the next place. The present writer thinks that the topography of Pictland is one of the most cogent factors in the solution of the problem, but, unfortunately, Celtic scholars “furth of Scotland” cannot appreciate this aspect of the question except to a limited extent. If Prof. Rhys studied the topography of Pictland instead of the so-called Pictish inscriptions, it is certain that he would not distract either Celtic scholars or outsiders like Mr. Lang with his theories as to the Pictish being a non-Aryan, pre-Celtic tongue. The ingenuity wasted on this theory and on its ethnologic consequences makes the outsider yet distrust philologic ways. And here, again, the study of Scottish ethnology is retarded, though not to the same extent as it is by Dr. Skene’s theories.

      We can here only summarise the arguments that go to prove that the Picts were a Celtic-speaking people, whose language differed both from Brittonic and Gadelic, but, at the same time, only differed dialectically from the Gaulish and Brittonic tongues. The language was of the P class. The arguments are these: –

      I. – Contemporary writers speak of the Pictish as a separate language from both Brittonic and Gadelic.

      Bede (731) twice refers to the matter: – “The nations and provinces of Britain, which are divided into four languages, viz., those of the Britons, the Picts, the Scots, and the English” (III. cap. 6). There may have been thus many provinces in Britain, but only four languages. In his first chapter he adds Latin as a fifth language – Britain “contains five nations, the English, Britons, Scots, Picts, and Latins, each in its own peculiar dialect cultivating the sublime study of divine truth.” These statements, surely, are definite enough: Pictish is a language different from either Brittonic or Gadelic. This Skene acknowledges in the present volume, but confines it to the southern Picts; in Celtic Scotland he does like the Scottish theologian – he looks the difficulty boldly in the face and passes on!

      Adamnan (died 704), writing for people who knew that Pictish was a very different tongue from Irish, did not require to mention that interpreters were needed any more than modern travel-books do, but he does incidentally mention that columba preached the Word twice through an interpreter, once to a peasant, and once to a chief. “On two occasions only,” says Skene, does he require an interpreter, and it is at once inferred that King Brude and his court spoke to Columba without interpreters – and in Gaelic!

      Cormac, King-bishop of Cashel (circ. 900), records a word of the berla cruithnech or Pictish language (cartit, pin).

      The next contemporary references occur in the twelfth century, and they concern the so-called Picts of Galloway. These will best be considered under the next heading.

      II. – The so-called Picts of Galloway and the Irish Cruithnig.

      The Picts of Galloway are mentioned as being present at the Battle of the Standard (1138) by Richard of Hexham, a contemporary writer, who informs us that King David’s army was composed inter alios of “Pictis, qui vulgo Gallweienses dicuntur.” The learned cleric calls them Picts; their usual name was Gallwegians. From Reginald of Durham, writing at the end of the twelfth century, we get a word belonging to these Picts, for, speaking of certain clerics of Kirkcudbright, he calls them “clerici illi qui Pictorum lingua Scollofthes cognominantur” Unfortunately, the word Scollofthes proves nothing, for like the Welsh ysgolhaig and old Irish scoloe, scholar, student – latterly, in Gaelic, servant – it is derived from Latin scholasticus; but the reference to the Pictish language implies its existence in Galloway at the time. Of course we can pit against these two references, another from the same Anglic source. Henry of Huntingdon, who writes before 1154, says: “The Picts seem now destroyed and their language altogether wiped out, so that what old writers say about them appears now fabulous.” We have further an enumeration of the inhabitants of the Glasgow diocese in the charters of Malcolm and William the Lyon, which are addressed thus: “Francis et Anglis, Scotis et Galwejensibus et Walensibus” – Franks (Norman French), English (of the south eastern counties), Scots (Gaels possibly), Galwegians and Welsh (remains of the old Britons of Strathclyde). Here there is no mention of Picts.

      Galloway is so named from Gall-Gàidheil or “Foreign Gaels.” This was the name given to the mixed Norse and Gaels who inhabited the Isles of Scotland, Man, Galloway, Kintyre, and the Western coast of Scotland. Dr. Stokes thinks that the Gaelic portion of them had relapsed into paganism. The Gall Gàidheil afterwards formed the Kingdom of Man and the Isles, without, however, any portion of the mainland being included; and the name Gall Gàidheil became latterly restricted to Galloway. The early history of Galloway can only be guessed at. the Brittonic people certainly had possession of it, and Dr. Beddoe regards the tall hillmen of Galloway and upper Strathclyde as the best representatives of the Brittonic race, Wales itself being very much mixed in blood. It formed part of the Kingdom of Strathclyde, no doubt; but it must have received a Gaelic population from Ireland before its conquest by the Norse. Its place-names show traces of Brittonic, Norse, and Gaelic names; but Gaelic names are predominant. Gaelic was spoken in Galloway and Ayr till the seventeenth century; but the Gaels of Ayr, Lanark, and Renfrew were invaders from the north, who in the tenth and eleventh centuries imposed their language and rule on the British Kingdom of Strathclyde. It is clear, from the above considerations, that the Galwegians of the twelfth century were anything but Picts, and that their language was the same as the Manx. Richard of Hexham and Reginald of Durham, finding the Galwegians a race apart, called them Picts; and so Dr. Skene founds one of his strongest arguments that Pictish was Gaelic on the fact that the Gaelic-speaking Galwegians were Picts according to two bungling English ecclesiastics of the twelfth century.

      The Irish Picts have always the name of Cruithnig, both in Gaelic and in Latin, whereas the Picts of Scotland are variously called Cruithnig, Picts, Piccardai, Pictones, and Pictores. In Ireland there were Picts in Dal-araidhe (Down and part of Antrim), in Meath and in Roscommon. The last two were doubtless some mercenaries introduced by some King or Kinglet returning victoriously from exile. Nothing is known of them save in a wild legend about the arrival of the Picts first in Ireland and their departure to Scotland, leaving a remnant in Meath. But the Cruithnig of Dal-araidhe figure prominently in Irish history in the sixth and seventh centuries. The Irish histories relate that they were the attendants or descendants of the Princess Loucetna, daughter of Eochaidh Echbél, King of Alba; she married Conall Cernach, the great Ulster hero of the early part of the first century of the Christian era. But the Ulster Picts were evidently invaders from Scotland who settled on the corner of Ireland nearest to their own land. By the sixth century they were as Gaelic-speaking as the rest of the Irish. And hence Skene finds another proof that Pictish was Gaelic. He also misreads the history of Ulster, which he regards as having been all populated by the Picts. Ulster had in early Irish history two consecutive denotations: Ulster at first meant the provence of Ulster as it is now. But the old kingly heroes of Ulster – the Clann Rudraid, descended of Ir, son of Miled – was gradually extruded from its lands by scions of the royal line of Ireland, until in the fifth century they had only Dal-araidhe or Ulidia or Uladh, which was still called Ulster and its kings still styled “Kings of Ulster.” They were, of course, also King of the Picts of Dal-araidhe. Hence has arisen Skene’s confusion, in which he is followed by Prof. Rhys.

      III. – The Pictish Language.

      Not a line of either poetry or prose has been recorded in Pictish; the so-called Pictish inscriptions are yet unravelled. Only two words are recorded by writers as Pictish. Bede records that the east end of the Roman wall, between Forth and Clyde, ended “in loco qui sermone Pictorum Pean-fahel, lingua autem Anglorum Penneltun, appellatur.” Here pean is for penn, which is also the old Welsh for “head,” old Gaelic, cenn; and fahel is allied to Gaelic fàl, Welsh gwawl, rampart. Both Skene and Rhys regard pean as British, belonging to the “Britons of Fortrenn,” or if not so, borrowed from the British. Cormac records the word cartit, a pin or brooch pin, to which Stokes compares the old Welsh garthon, goad.

      We have, however, ample means to judge the affinities of the Pictish language in the numerous personal and place-names recorded by classical and later writers, or still extant in old Pictavia.

      (1) Names in the classical writers.

      Tacitus first mentions Caledonia, by which he means Scotland north of the Firths, and Ptolemy writes it Kaledonios. The long e between l and d is guaranteed by the old Welsh Celydon, and Nennius’s Celidon; but all the same, it must be regarded as a Roman mispronunciation of Caldon – ld being not common in Latin as a combination, for early Gaelic shows Callden, now Caillinn, Scotch Keld, in Dun-Keld; and there are three other names near at hand there with the same ending, notably, Schiehallion. the root cald in Celtic means “wood,” and Caldonii would mean “woodlanders.”

      Tacitus also records the Boresti in Fife; he gives the personal name Calgacus, “sworded one” (Gaelic calg, colg, Welsh caly). The much misread Mons Graupius (now Grampian), yields the root grup, a non-Gadelic root in p, which argues its Picto-Brittonic character. Stokes compares it to Greek grupos, rounded (Ger. krumm, bent). The Orcades, or Orkney Isles, give the Celtic root orc, pig, possibly here meaning “whale.”

      Ptolemy (circ. 140 A.D.) In his geography, gives some 44 names connected with Pictland. Ptolemy’s tribal names begin in south Pictland with the Damnonii, who stretched across the neck of Scotland from Ayr to Fife. It is usual to regard the word as a variant of the Cornish Dumnoni, now Devon (Gaelic domhan, world, and dumno); both Skene and Rhys allow them to be Britons – those Britons of Fortrenn who were responsible for the Brittonic elements in the Pictish language according to the theories held by these writers. The Epidi of Kintyre are distinctly of the P Celtic branch; the root ep or eq means horse (stem eqo, Gaulish epo). The Carnonacai (G. carn), the Caireni (“sheep men”), the Cornavii (compare Cornwall), the Lugi (lug, win), Smertai and Vaco-magi (magh, plain), are all good Celtic names); and to these may be added the Decantai, found also in Wales, and the Vernicones (G. fearna, alder?). The Taixali of Aberdeen, and the Cerones or Creones, are as yet unexplained as to name. The coast names come next. The Clota or Clyde is from the Celtic clu, clean; Lemannonios, now Lennox, like lake Lemann, comes from lemano, elm. The river Longos, Norse Skipafjord, or Loch Long, comes from long, ship; Tarvedum (tarbh, bull); Cailis river (caol, narrow); Deva river means “goddess,” and is a common Celtic name, more Gaulish-Brittonic than Gadelic; Tava, the Tay, has Brittonic equivalents (W. Tawe, Devon Tavy? Welsh taw, quiet). Celtic, too, must be Itys (Gaulish Itins), and Vir-vedrum and Verubium (prefix ver); nor would it be difficult to explain from Celtic roots Volas or Volsas, Nabaros (nav, float?), Ila, now Ullie (il, go), Varar, Tvesis (Spesis? now Spey); and Loxa. Tina and Boderia or Bodotria (Forth), are doubtful. The town names are less satisfactory. Alauna, really the river Allan, a good Celtic river name (W. Alun, Cornish Alan, root pal); Lindum, G. linne, loch, water, possibly Linlithgow; Victoria, a translated name, in West Fife; Devana, “Goddess,” Gaulish Divona, “fons additus divis,” gets its name from the river as usual, viz., the Don, old Gaelic Deon, now Dian, being in spite of its inland bearings, really Aberdeen; Orrea, Bannatia, and Tamia are not immediately explicable, though, as far as mere roots are concerned, they can be Celtic. Alata Castra, or Winged Camp, is supposed to be Burghead. It is a translated name. So, too, is High Bank, between the Ullie or Helmsdale, and the Varar or Moray Firth. This has recently been happily equated with the Oyken, whose “High Banks” the Norse usually made the southern boundary of their conquests, and which they called Ekkjals-bakki, or Ekkjal’s Bank. The name Oykel goes along with the Oichil Hills and Ochiltree, and is from Celtic uxellos, high, Welsh uchel, Gaelic uasal. The Pictish here shows decidedly Brittonic phonetics. The island names prove nothing: Ebouda, perhaps for Boud-da, now Bute; Malaios, now Mull (mal, mel, brow, hill); Epidium (ech, horse); Ricina; Dumma (compare Dumnoni); and Skitis, now possibly Skye (not ski, cut, “indented isle”).

      The historians of Severus’s campaign (208-11) record but few names. The Maiatai and Caledoni are the only tribes mentioned seemingly having the north of Scotland between them, the Maiatai being next the northern wall. Adamnan calls them Miathi; the name is still unexplained. Argento-coxos was a Caledonian chief of the time; the name means “Silver-leg.” A tablet found some years ago at Colchester gives us the war god’s name as Medocius (G. and Irish Miadhach) and the devotee’s name was Lossio Veda Nepos Vepogeni Caledo. The date of the inscription is from 232-235. Prof. Rhys has suggested that Lossio (Brittonic gen. Lossion-os, Gadelic Lossen-as) is related to the Welsh personal name Lleision. Vepogenos, the name of the Caledonian’s grandfather or uncle (possibly), is thoroughly of the P variety of Celtic, and it appears in a shorter root form (vip) in the Pictish list of Kings (Vip, Vipoig), Gaelic Fiacha, a common name. Veda may be for Veida, and this in a shorter root form appears in the Pictish Kings’ list as Uuid, i.e., Vid. Ammianus Marcellinus (circ. 400) gives the two tribes of Pictland as Di-Calidonae and Vecturiones. the latter name has been happily corrected by Prof. Rhys into Verturiones, whence the historic name of Fortrenn, the district between the Forth and the Tay.

      To sum up the results of the above analysis: one-third of the names can easily be paralleled elsewhere on Celtic ground – Gaulish or Brittonic, though not on Gadelic ground; a fourth more show good Celtic roots and formative particles, and another fourth can easily be analysed into Aryan or Celtic radicals. These facts dispose of Prof. Rhys’s theory of the non-Aryan and non-Celtic character of the Pictish, and it also makes so far against Skene’s Gadelic view – a name like Epidi being especially decisive against a Q language. The names of northern Pictavia show no difference in linguistic character from those of the south, as witness – Deva, Devana, Vacomagi, Caelis, Smertae, Lugi, Cornavi, Caireni, Carnonacae, Tarvedum, Verubium (root ub, point, weapon); and, finally, Orcades.

      (2) Post-classical Pictish Names.

      Contemporaries like Adamnan and Bede record but few Pictish names, and we depend on the Chronicles of the Picts and Scots for complete King lists, and on the Irish Annals as a check on these lists and as a source of further names, and especially, place-names. The lives of the Saints present some names, but this is a doubtful source. The King list begins with Cruithne, the eponymus of the race, who is contemporary with the sons of Miledh, the Gadelic invaders of Ireland, whose date is only 1700 B.C. according to the Annals. We have 66 names of Kings to cover the period from Cruithne to Brude, son of Mailcon (554-584 A.D.), the King who received Columba in 565. Imagination seems to have failed the Pictish genealogists in making this list, for they fill a long gap with 30 Kings of the same name – Brude, differentiating them by epithets that go in couples, thus: Brude Leo, Brude Ur-leo, Brude Pont, Brude Ur-pont, & c. The ur here is the Gaulish prefix ver, Welsh gur, guor, Irish fer, for, allied to English hyper and over. It is very common as a prefix in all the branches of Celtic. It is useless to take these King names seriously before Brude Mac Mailcon’s time, though one figure may be historic – Nectan, son of Erp (A.D. 480), who is said to have given Abernethy to Derlugdach, abbess of Kildare. the name Nectan is common to Pictish and Gaelic; it comes from necht, pure, whose root is nig, wash. The Pictish form and pronunciation is doubtless best recorded by Bede’s Naiton, which shows Brittonic phonetics in changing et into it. Erp, the father’s name, was common in Pictland, and we last hear of it among the Norse. Erp, son of Meldun, a Scottish earl, and grandson of an Irish King, was captured by the Norse, and as a freed man went to colonise Iceland in the end of the ninth century; from him descended the Erplingi clan of Iceland. This is clearly the Pictih equivalent of Welsh Yrp (Triads) and Gadelic Erc, the latter a very common name (erc means cow, heaven). Brude appears in Bede in a more Welsh form as Bridei; Stokes equates it with Eng. proud. Mailcon, the father, may have been the famous Welsh King, whom Gildas calls Maglo-cunus, “High Chief,” known later as Maelgwyn of Gwyned. The list from Brude Mac Mailcon to Kenneth Mac Alpin is in the Pictish Chronicles as follows: –

Gartmait filius Domelch (584-599). The name Gartnait, or Garnait, was very common in Pictland, It comes from gart, head; Welsh, garth. It is non-Gadelic. Domelch is in the Irish Annals given as Domnach (from Dummo).

Nectan nepos Uerb (599-619), “nephew of Verb.” Verb appears in many Gaulish and British names In Ir. it means “cow,” “blotch”; in O.W. gverp, stigma.

Ciniod f. Lutrin (619-631); Ir. Cinaed Mac Luchtren. The first name is our modern Kenneth (cin-aed, “fire-kin”), common to Irish and Pictish. Lutrin is a Pictih form of Celtic Lugo-trenos, “strong by the god Lug.” Lug either means the “sun-god” or “winner.”

Gartnait f. Uuid or Wid (631-635). The name Vid is to be compared to O.W. guid as in Guid-lon, Guid-nerth; fuller form Veida, already mentioned. Seemingly the root is vid, know. It also exists in Ir. as a prefiz: Fid-gus, Fid-gaile.

      Bridei f. Uuid or Wid (635-641). Brude son of Vid, brother of above.

Talore frater eorum (641-653). The name Talorg and Talorgan is purely Pictish, and is the same as Gaulish Argio-talos, “Silver Brow.” It is common; there was a St. Talorgan. The phonetics of the Pictish Chronicle are here purely British (rg becoming re).

Talorcan f. Enfret (653-657). Talorgan, son of Eanfrid, King of Bernicia who was an exile in Pictland. The name Eanfrid is Saxon.

Gartnait f. Donnel (657-663). The father’s name is Domnall or Donald (Dummo-valos, “World-King”), and it is Irish. He was himself likely a Scot of Dalriada.

Drest frater ejus (663-672). Drust is meant. It is a common name and purely Pictish. Its longer form is Drostan, old Cornish inscription Drustagni; more celebrated as Tristan or Tristram of the legends. Stokes makes the root drut, W. drud, brave, strong. Compare Eng. trust and the terminal trud in Teutonic names (Ger-trude, & c).

Bridei f. Bili (672-693) Brude, son of Bili or Beli, King of Strathclyde. The name is British (Ir. bil, good).

Taran f. Entfidich (693-697) Taranis was the Gaulish “thunder” diety. W. taran, thunder. Adamnan has Tarainus, a Pict. The Irish Annals give Enfidaig for the father’s name, En-fidach possibly; Fidach, son of Cruithne, and Vid, already discussed, have the same root.

Bridei f. Derili (697-706). Brude, son of Derile. The der may be an imtensive prefix, as in W. Der-guist, O. Br. Der-monoc. There are also Dergard and Doirgarto, which came from Der-gart, gart being as in Gartnait.

      Nectan f. Derili (706-724-729), brother of above.

Drust and Alpin co-reigned. The name Alpin is purely British; if native, the root is alb, white, as in Alpes, the Alps. It seems allied to the name Alba, the older Albion.

Onnust f. Urgust (730-760). Angus, son of Fergus. Both names are common to British and Irish. They mean “Unique Choice” and “Super-choice.”

      Bridei f. Urgust (760-762), Angus’s brother.

Ciniod f. Wirdech (762-774). Kenneth, son of Feradach. An early mythic king was called Wradech, Ir. Annals, Uuradech, that is, Feradach. The name seems both Ir. and Pictish.

      Alpin f. Wroid (774-779). Ir. Annals, Feroth and Ferith, compare W. Gueruduc.

      Drust f. Talorgan (779-783).

      Talorgan f. Onnust or Angus (783-786).

Canaul f. Tarla (783-788), mis-reading for conall, son of Tadg, both names being purely Irish, and he seems to have been a Scot interloper.

      Constantin f. Urgust (d. 820). Constantine is Latin; Fergus, already discussed.

      Unnust f. Urgust (820-833). Angus, son of Fergus, his brother.

      Drest or Drust f. Constantin, and Talorgan f. Utholl, co-reigned 3 years.

      Uwen or Eogan f. Unnust or Angus (836-838). Eogan is both British and Gaelic.

      Wrad f. Bargoit, 3 years. [possibly Dergairt.]

Bred or Brude, son of Dergard, “Ultimus rex Pictorum” (St. Andrews Priory Reg.). For Dergart, see Bridei f. Derili.

      The above list, as handed down by the Pictish Chronicles, the age of which is unknown, is decidedly British in phonetics, and the names Brude, Gartnait, Talorgan, Drostan, and Alpin, are foreign to old Gaelic; but, at the same time, they are explicable from British sources. There is nothing non-Celtic in the list. It tells, therefore, both against Skene and Rhys.

      (3) The so-called Pictish Inscriptions.

      Pictland shares with the south of Ireland, Cornwall, and South Wales the peculiarity of possessing inscriptions in Ogam character. Ogam writing is an Irish invention, coincident probably with the introduction of Christianity into southern Ireland in the fourth century. By the south Irish missionaries this style of inscription was introduced into Cornwall and South Wales; and naturally we must look to the same people as its propagators in Pictland. the south Irish conformed to Rome in Easter and other matters in 633 or thereabout. It is likely that they came to Pictland in the Roman interest some time after, and may have been mainly instrumental in converting King Nectan in 710 to adopt the Roman Calendar. The Irish Annals say that he expelled the Columban monks in 716 over his conversion to Rome.

      We should naturally expect these inscriptions to be either in Irish or Pictish, but Prof. Rhys has jumped to the conclusion that they are purely Pictish, and, as his Pictish is non-Aryan, so is the language of these inscriptions. Unfortunately they are difficult to decipher; the results as yet are a mere conglomeration of letters, mostly h, v, and n. One at Lunasting in the Orkneys is punctuated, and according to Rhys runs thus: –

Ttocuhetts : ahehhttmnnn : hccvvevv : nehhtonn.

In opposition to those who hold that Pictish was a Brittonic tongue, Prof. Rhys cites the above, and declares that if it be Welsh he will confess he has not understood a word of his mother-tongue! It is neither Welsh nor any other language under the moon. Mr. Lang quotes the inscription and says – “This appears to be not only non-Aryan, but non-human! Or not correctly deciphered. Some people seems to have dropped all its aspirates in one place at Lunasting.” A word here and there is in a general way recognisable in these decipherments (as above the last word looks like Nechtan), but as yet these inscriptions are not correctly deciphered, and some, like the Golspie stone, are too weathered or worn to be deciphered.

      (4) Place-names of Pictland

      Only a resumé can be given here. The Pictish place-names are very different from names on Gadelic ground – Ireland and Dalriada. There is, of course, a veneer of Gaelic over them, as the Scots really did impose their language as well as their rule on the Picts. Place-names in the Isles and in Sutherland and Caithness must be left out of account, since they are largely Norse. From the southern borders of Ross to the Forth east of Drumalban the names have all a marked family resemblance, partly Gaelic, partly Pictish. The prefixes aber and pet, unknown to Gadelic, are found from Sutherland to the Forth. The former means “confluence,” and had two forms, aper and oper, as in Welsh (ad, od, and ber, Lat. fero); the Gaelic for aber is inver, and it has in the most common names superseded the Pictish aber. Pet means “farm,” G. Baile, which, in fact, has superseded it in purely Gaelic districts for a reason which the dictionary should make clear. The prefix both – farm, dwelling, common to Irish and Welsh as an ordinary noun, is widely used in Pictland to denote a bally. Pres, a bush, W. prys, a covert, is a borrowed Pictish word and occasionally appears in place-names, as does perth, brake, in Perth Partick (Old Perthoc, Strathclyde British), and Pearcock or Perthoc (King Edward). British pen we do not find now; every one such has become kin, as in Kin-cardine, a very common name, for Pen-cardin, W. cardden, brake. Equally common is Urquhart for older Ur-charden, Adamnan’s Airchartdan, “At (the) Wood.” A prepositional prefix peculiar to Pictish names is for, fother, corrupted into fetter (Fetter-cairn) and foder (Foder-lettir). It is corrupted also into far (Far-letter = Foder-letter). Possibly it is an adjective terminally in Dunnottar *Dun Foither of Chronicles?), Kin-eddar (King Edward), & c. It seems to mean “lower,” “under”: vo-ter, a comparative form vo, Gaelic fo, under. The extensive use of certain prefix names in Pictland is observable as compared to Ireland, where their use is rare: strath, ben, monadh (rare in Ireland), allt (“stream” in Pictland), corrie, blair, and cairn. Lan, so common in Wales, is rare, though known, in Pictland; the cill of the Iona monks gave Ian no chance. Ochil Hills and Oyken river have already been discussed. space does not allow the discussion of individual place-names; nor can the influence of Pictish on Gaelic phonetics and vocabulary be touched. Such a word as preas, bush, already alluded to, is easily detected as a Pictish borrow, because initial p is non-Gaelic, and its root qre, or qer, is allied to G. crann, W. prenn.

      IV. – Pictish Manners and Customs

      For the manners and customs of early Scotland, Skene goes to Ireland, and transfers the whole social system to Pictavia; so, as the latest example, does Mr. Andrew Lang. But surely the Book of Deer ought to have warned them all that this is utterly wrong. The public life outlined there resembles the Irish, but it is not the same. We have the king (), mórmaer or great steward (translated earl of jarl, and tóisech or clan chief: also the clan. the word mórmaer means “lord”; but it must be a Gaelic translation of the Pictish word, for the Gaelic itself is hybrid (mór, great; maer, officer; from Lat, major). We have only three grades of nobility here, nor is there any trace else of more. The tenure of land is the usual Celtic one, but the only word of definite import we get is dabach or davoch, four ploughlands, a term peculiar to Pictland, though extended slightly in feudal times to the West Coast and Isles. We see, therefore, that the older Pictish system underlies the Gaelic kingdom of Scotland.

      Another serious point, whose significance was lost by Skene, and found only too well by Prof. Rhys, is the Pictish rule of succession, or the marriage system. The succession to the throne (Bede) and to property (Irish writers) lay in the females; that is to say, a man succeeded to the throne because his mother was the previous king’s daughter or sister. The king’s brother was his heir, and failing him, his sister’s son. It was the female side that was royal. A glance at the king list given above shows this: no son succeeds a father, but a brother often succeeds a brother. The fathers, too, were often outsiders: Talorgan, son of Enfrid, Prince of Bernicia, and called cousin of Egfrid (686); Brude, son of Bili, King of Strathclyde; Gartnait, son of Domhnall, Donald being likely a Scotic prince. this system, where maternity alone is regarded as certain, holds a low view of marriage, and is at present found only among uncivilised races. Caesar knew of the existence in Britain of promiscuous marriage; Dion tells us that the wife of Argento-coxos, a Caledonian, acknowledged promiscuity among the high-born; and Bede explains the system of his day – that the Picts got their wives from the Scots on condition of the succession to the throne being through the females.

      Here we have a custom palpably belonging to a non-Aryan race, not to speak of a non-Celtic race. It must therefore be due to the customs of the previous inhabitants still surviving among the Celts; the vanquished here took captive their victors. Whether the Pictish language was also influenced by the previous one it is hard to say; but the influence could not be much, because Celtic civilisation was much higher than the native one, and borrowing would be unnecessary.

      To sum up the argument we cannot do better than quote Prof. Mackinnon’s criticism on Dr. Skene’s position: – “The question cannot, however, be settled on such narrow lines as these [Pictish if non-Gaelic would have left remains, and an interpreter was only wanted twice.] the questions of blood and language must always be kept distinct. anthropology and archaeology may hereafter yield concrete evidence which will be decisive of this matter. As things are, the following facts must be kept in the forefront. Among the Picts, succession was through the female. This custom is unknown among the Celts; it is, so far as we know, non-Aryan. Again, Bede regarded Pictish as a separate language. The Gael of Ireland looked upon the Picts or Cruithnig, to use the native term, as a people different from themselves. Cormac, the first Gaelic lexicographer, gives one or two Pictish words, quoting them as foreign words, at a time when presumably Pictish was still a living language. The Norsemen called the Pentland Firth Pettland, i.e., Pictland Fjörd, while the Minch was Skottland Fjörd. Mr. Whitley Stokes, after examining all the words in the old records presumably Pictish, says: ‘The foregoing list of names and words contains much that is still obscure; but on the whole it shows that Pictish, so far as regards its vocabulary, is an Indo-European and especially Celtic speech. Its phonetics, so far as we can ascertain them, resemble those of Welsh rather than of Irish.’” Celtic scholars of the first rank who have pronounced on the matter are all agreed that Pictish was not Gaelic, as Skene held.


N O T E S.



$ Buellan is another form of Boyle.

$ For Hamilcar read Himilco.

$ There is no distinction between Albiones and Britanni. Albion originally meant all Britain; it is the Irish that restricted the name to Scotland.

   Vecturiones, possibly a misreading for Verturiones, later Fortren.


$ Gift of Iona, according to native annals, was made by King Conall of Dalriada. Bede is here mistaken. For the extent of the power of the Gael, see Excursus above. Strabo’s “Islands of the Picts” is poetic license. The older Argyle stretched to Lochbroom, and in Norse times the Minch was Skotland Fjord.

$ Picts, Piccardach, Pictores, Picti, & c. Dr. Skene’s attempted distinction in these names is not supported by the facts, and it finds no place in Celtic Scotland.

$ Read “Eochaid Iarlaithi rex Cruithne moritur.” The Cruithnig meant were those of Ireland.

$ The Pictish Succession. See Excursus. The succession among the Scots was Patriarchal, but the king or chief was elective by the nobles. A king’s successor was appointed during his lifetime, and was called the Tanist, which really means the Second. He was usually brother of the king, and generally gave way before the king’s son, if the latter was of age.

$ The Scottish Conquest. Here Dr. Skene declines to follow the Latin Chronicles for the Dalriad kings of the 8th century, and puts his faith in a poem called the “Albanic Duan,” a monkish exercise of unknown date (professing to be written in Malcolm Canmore’s reign, and calling Macbeth “renowned”!), and of little value. This is unfortunate, for Dr. Skene has misread the plain Chronicle history of Dalriada. The Duan confuses Dungal, son of Selbach (circ. 735), with Dungal, son of Ewen (circ. 835), and places Alpin, the successor of the latter, as successor to the former, thus killing off Alpin in 743 instead of 843. Dungal and Alpin are the immediate predecessors of Kenneth the Conqueror in reality. Would it be believed that Skene actually places them like the Albanic Duan, one hundred years earlier, and closes the record of Dalriad kings for the next hundred years, regarding the kings in the lists, even in the Albanic Duan, as inserted by the monkish Chroniclers to fill the vacant gap? Yet so it is! Pinkerton, before him, performed the same feat. The reason in both cases is the same – to get rid of the Dalriad Scots and their conquest. Nor was there material wanting to make the suppression of the Dalriad kingdom plausible. Angus MacFergus, King of Fortrenn, waded his way to the Pictish throne through blood – “a sanguinary tyrant,” as a Saxon chronicle calls him. For an outrage on his son he invaded Dalriada and captured Dungal, King of Lorn, and possibly of Dalriada also, in 735, and in 740 he gave Dalriada a “smiting.” In the same year a battle was fought in Ireland between the Cruithnig and Dalriads of that country. Skene transfers this fight to Galloway somehow, and manages to kill in it Alpin, the Dalriad King that appears then in the Albanic Duan. (A late Chronicle has it that the real Alpin fell in Galloway.) With the death of the king, the kingdom of Dalriada falls under Angus’s sway, and it remains evermore Pictish – so Skene. The real truth is different. Angus’s invasions were of no more moment than his invasions of the Britons, who in 749 inflicted heavy slaughter on the Pidts, and the significant remark is made by the annalist – “Wane of Angus’s kingdom” – a remark which Dr. Skene never saw. It occurs in Hennessy’s new edition of the Annals of Ulster. Skene makes Angus a great king and conquering hero to the end (760). While he dies as “King of the Picts,” his successor (his brother) dies as “King of Fortrenn.” This dynasty had shrunk to its original measure of power; and with it also tumble the theories built on it by Pinkerton and Skene. Later writers while accepting Skene’s views that there was no Scottish Conquest, have usually refused to follow him in his suppression of Dalriada and its kings in 740. King Aed Finn fought with the Pictish King in Fortrenn in 767, a fact which Skene finds it hard to explain away. Aed’s death is also recorded in the Annals - 777; his brother’s in 780. In the Latin list given, the first two names should be deleted, and for Eogan should be read Eachaidh, who was father of Alpin, who was father of Kenneth the Conqueror. The conquest of the Picts cannot be clearly explained from our present materials. There was constant dynastic war for the last generation of kings – attempts mostly to break the Pictish rule of succession; and it is notable how Scottic names are very prominent. The Danes harassed the Picts north and east. The Scots, pressed out of tye Isles by the Norse, pressed eastward in their turn. The Scots also had the Church and the culture very much their own; Iona was undoubtedly the religious centre till the Norse caused a change to be made. Both in Pictland and in Strathclyde Gaelic ultimately and completely wiped out the original Pictish and British. The west coast from the Clyde to the Solway was, in the 11th century, “as Gaelic as the Peat.” See further the Editor’s paper on “Skene,” in Inverness Gaelic Soc. Trans., vol. xxi.


$ The Pictish prince of Kintyre! What an inversion of facts is here!

$ Cruithen tuath meant the Pictish nation (Pictavia), not the Northern Picts. There was no distinction whatever between northern and southern Picts; it is all a delusion, founded on Bede’s reference to the Grampians as a physical division of Pictavia.


$ Welsh Gwyddyl Ffichti proves nothing; the authority is too late, and word Gwyddyl being phonetically very unsatisfactory.

$ The word dobur is common to Welsh and old Gaelic. It proves nothing either way.

$ The quotation about Aed Finn’s laws, promulgated by the Gael at Forteviot, surely speaks against Skene’s views, and implies conquest.

$ The Mormaor of Moray was often by the Irish Annalists loosely called rí Alban. This Malcolm was not the King Malcolm (1005-1034).

$ Read “Mormaer Moreb,” Mormaor of Moray. For Mormaer see Excursus above.


$ The Norse Invasions, & c. Here Skene tries to write the history of Scotland from 843 to 1057 from new sources, viz., the Norse Sagas checked by the Irish Annals. He never refers to the native Chronicles, which during this period are no longer mere lists of kings. The results of Skene’s departure from native sources are here again disastrous. The chapter may well be omitted in reading the book, for it is entirely misleading. The facts are correctly given in Celtic Scotland, where Dr. Skene makes the Chronicles his basis, and adds interesting particulars from the Norse Saga. But even in Celtic Scotland he failed to appreciate the full force of the Norse Invasions. For a period of over four hundred years the Norse were in possession of the Western Isles and a fringe of the mainland (Kintyre, & c.), and for shorter periods they held Argyle in all its extent to Lochbroom (Dalir), Sutherland, and Caithness. With less firm hand they held Ross to the Beauly Valley (Dingwall, “County Meeting Field,” being still the Norse name of the capital of Ross). The place names prove this. The Hebrides could have no Gaelic left spoken in them. The place names in Lewis are in the proportion of 4 Norse to 1 Gaelic. This surely speaks for itself. In Islay, however, the proportion of Gaelic is to Norse as 2 to 1. It is certain that Gaelic had to reconquer (if it was there before) the Hebrides, Skye and Sutherland (in great part). The ethnological characteristics of the people of these parts fully bear this out, as Dr. Beddoe shows. The Norse element is very strong throughout.

$ The Norse settled in the Isles early in the 9th century.

$Native chiefs”; there were scarcely any left. It was Norse chiefs who rebelled against Harald.

$ The “Native chiefs” could scarcely then have recovered Sutherland. The Sagas were unfortunately written when Caithness became part of Scotland (1196-1200).

$ There were no “Midland Cruithne.” See correction of this mistake at note above. The elaborate argument about the Ptolemy names and those of the 10th century is useless and groundless.

$ The Malcolm that succeeded in 1005 to the throne of Scotland was Malcolm Mac Kenneth, who reigned 30 years. The other Malcolm was only Mormaor or King of Moray. This error is acknowledged by Dr. Skene in Celtic Scotland, i. p. 400.

$ Many of these pages are from Norse Sagas, and as given here are useless as history. Macbeth’s connection with Thorfinn and the Norse is a matter of doubt. His name never appears in the Sagas. The name Mac-beth, Gaelic Mac-bethadh, means “Son of Life.” Dr. Skene evidently thought that there was a Gaelic personal name Beth, and he would not allow that Comes Beth mentioned twice in the Chartulary of Scone is manifestly a mistake for Comes Heth, of Moray (Celtic Scotland, iii. 62). He is the ancestor of the famous Mac-Eths, and was married to the daughter of King Lulach. The name is Aed, “fire,” a favourite old name, later Aodh, Englished as Hugh and lost, but still living in the surname Mackay and Mackie.


$ Thorfinn’S mainland power is vastly exaggerated in the Sagas. Its southern limit was Beauly Valley, where the Norse names fail. he had also the Kingdom of the Isles and the West Coast fringe (old Argyle or Dalir, as they called it).

$ Donald Mac Malcolm here mentioned is, of course, King Malcolm’s own son.

$ For Morlach, see Celtic Scotland, ii. 379.

$ This is the same Donald as above. King Maelsnechtan is in the AnnalsMoreb. His father Lulach was Macbeth’s successor for half a year.

$ Caithness, Sutherland, and old Argyle were still Norse or under Norse rule. It was King William who really annexed Caithness and Sutherland to the Scottish Crown; and Argyle was finally subdued in 1222.

$ Donald Bane was “elected” king. He was at first tanist.

$ Ladmann or Lamont, son of Donald, was slain by the Moray men. He was really son of the Donald mentioned above. See Celtic Scotland, i. 453. The argument is therefore wrong.

$ Too much id made of the “Boy of Egremont.” The conspiracy of the six earls is unexplained. See Celtic Scotland, iii.66, where the Boy is cautiously suggested.

$ Dr. Skene here suggests that the fall of the Macdonalds meant the fall of the Highland clans. why, it was the ruse of the modern Highland clans. It freed the great clans of Maclean, Macleod, Mackay, Cameron, and especially, Mackenzie, not to mention minor clans, who in the 15th century all freely got Crown charters independent of the Macdonald chiefs.

$ One of the greatest factors in the change of the Highlands from mediaevalism to more modern habits of thought was the inflow of Presbyterian ideals in religion. Before the ‘45 the Highlanders were from a religious standpoint neither good Episcopalians nor Presbyterians at all. Indeed, they resisted Presbyterianism. A religious revival rose in the last half of the 18th century and spread slowly all over the north, which assured the success of Presbytery.


$ This chapter is rendered almost valueless by later research, which is given in full in Celtic Scotland, iii, chaps. iv. to viii.

$ Modern Highland clans have been feudal in succession and tenure of land; but the kinship feeling still remained.

$ The officer of Engineers was Captain Burt. His book was reprinted lately.

$ Law of Succession. Dr. Skene says in Celtic Scotland that the Irish law of succession was “hereditary in the family, but elective in the individual.” This has been shown already. In this work he confuses Pictish and Gaelic succession together.

$ Tanistry. The tanist or next heir was appointed during the king’s or chief’s lifetime, to avoid confusion at his death.

$ Gavel. The rule of dividing the property equally among the sons is really not Gadelic nor Scottic. It was very English, however, before feudalism came in. The case of Somerled of the Isles and his descendants to the 15th century is peculiar. It was the ruin of a mighty house. Originally, the chief had his mensal lands, and the rest of the tribe-land belonged to the tribe. But ever since the English Conquest (1172) the old Irish and Gadelic system became corrupt, because the sub-chiefs stuck to the lands assigned them, and latterly got charters. In Scotland, the chief of a Highland clan for the last five hundred years succeeds by primo-geniture, and it cannot be held by a bastard (contrary to the old system), nor can it pass through females. This is purely feudal and also Salic.

$ Native men, or Nativi, were simply the bondsmen on the estates. Gradually they were set free, and by the 16th century the term is used in the sense of “kindly men” – men allied by kin to the chief. This is especially the case in bonds of manrent.

$ The Toiseach. Dr. Skene has here fallen into a grievous error. The toiseach was the head of the clan; its earliest translation into Latin was “capitann,” later “chief” in English. The theory about the oldest cadet being called toiseach is probably due to Skene’s view of the Mackintoshes as oldest cadets of clan Chattan. The derivation of toieachdorachd, “coronership,” is toiseach, baillie, and deoraidh, a stranger; his first duty was doubtless to attend to incomers into the clan, and other “foreign office” matters. It also exists in Manx, tosiaght-yoarrey.


$ Dr. Skene’s account of the Celtic Church here is an excellent piece of pioneer work. Bishop Reeves later put the whole question of the Celtic Church on a scientific basis; and Dr. Skene’s second volume of Celtic Scotland is entirely devoted to the Church. It is his best piece of work. It was a monastic Church purely, the abbot being the religious head of the “diocese,” or rather of the tribal district, for the Celtic Church was tribal. The abbot might only be a priest, as at Iona usually. Bishops had no dioceses; they were attached to the abbey for ordination purposes, and were numerous. Skene fails here to grasp this point. The use of the term Culdee for the Columban clergy is unfortunate. The Culdees belonged to the later and debased state of the Celtic Church (900-1200). They were first anchorites, who later clubbed into 13, still retaining their separate booths or houses and also lands. Later, of course, they were married. With great difficulty the Church reform party of the Ceannmore dynasty got them to become canons, and in the 13th century they practically disappeared.

$ Ireland was, except Dalaraidhe, all Scottic/ but it was traditionally divided into two halves – Leth Moga and Leth Chuinn, Mog Nuadat’s Half (south), and Conn’s Half (north). These were two kings – somewhat mythical – of the 2nd century A.D.

$ St. Patrick and Palladius are really one person, the person meant being called in British Sucat, “good at war” (W. hygad), translated into Graeco-Latin as Palladius (Pallas, goddess of war), and naming himself as Patricius, because he was of noble birth. His sphere in Ireland was the north, and the later Romanisers make him bishop of Armagh. He was a Briton, but no relation of St. Martin of Tours.

$ The monks were laymen under monastic rule, as usual; but bishops were also monks, and nothing more. It was not, as Bede says, necessary that the abbot should be a bishop.

$ There really was no episcopacy at Armagh to transfer to Iona.

$ There were no dioceses apart from the monasteries. There was only one bishop for Scotland – the Bishop of St. Andrews – till King Alexander’s time. They really were not needed, as there were no dioceses till the Celtic Church fully conformed to Rome.

$ The Ossianic Poetry. It is needless to enter upon the question of the authenticity of Macpherson’s Ossian. Celtic scholars are agreed that it is all Macpherson’s own work, both English and Gaelic. Indeed, the Gaelic was translated from the English, and is for the most part very ungrammatical and unidiomatic. These very faults – showing its extremely modern character – have been always regarded as marks of antiquity. Ordinary Gaelic readers do not understand it at all. The English is better done, because it is the original. He has little or no foundation in Gaelic legend for his so-called poems; he used only about a dozen stories – and these, too, much abused – of the old literature, forming only a very small fraction of the English work. The latest scholarly views on the subject may be found in Dr. Ludwin Stern’s paper on the “Ossianic Heroic Legends,” translated in the 22nd vol. of the Inverness Gaelic Soc. Trans. Dr. Skene makes no reference to Finn or Ossian in Celtic Scotland. Again here he confuses the older Ulster with the smaller Ulster, called Ulidia or Dalaraidhe, and containing Picts. The list of kings shows to what straits a theory drags a man. Macpherson in “Temora” gives a further corrected list.

$ The history of Ireland unknown! Why, both Keating and O’Flaherty were already published! Macpherson used them for the 1763 volume.

$ The Bagpipe: “origin unknown.” That is not so. It came to Scotland in the 14th century and reached the Highlands in the 16th century, where it was hospitably received. Major (1521) does not mention it among Highland musical instruments, but Buchanan, fifty years later, says the Highlanders used it for war purposes. They also improved it by adding the big drone, whence the “Piob Mhór.” It is thoroughly non-Gaelic by origin.


$ The Highland Dress. About all the information possible in regard to the Highland dress is here given; yet curiously the modern Highland dress of plaid and philabeg are not accounted for. The old dress was a (saffron) leine or shirt, a plaid thrown over the shoulders and brought to the knees all round in plaits and also belted. a bonnet (sometimes), and brogues made of skin, sometimes with hose; knees always bare. This is really a Southern Europe dress, not the “garb of old Gaul,” which was breeches. The modern kilt is merely the lower half of the breacan or féile cut off from the upper, a jacket being made of the upper. When this improvement took place – when the kilt or philabeg was invented – is not known to a hundred years. It was during the Lowland wars of the 17th and 18th century at the instigation of the Iron Companies that then bought the Highland woods.


$ The Seven Provinces of Scotland. Dr. Skene makes too much of these seven earldoms. It is possible that in or about 800 A.D. the Pictish Kingdom was divided into the seven provinces mentioned. The sons of Cruithne are named in the best MSS. as follows: – Cait, Ce, Cirig (Circinn), a warlike clan Fib, Fidach, Fotla, Fortrenn. Cait is Caithness; Circin is Magh-Chircinn or Mearns; Fib is Fife; Fothla is Athole; Fortrenn is Menteith. But what are Ce and Fidach? Evidently Mar and Moray. Ce may appear in Keith.

$ Gouerin is surely Gowrie. Skene’s Garmoran is a continual nuisance.

$ The lists. The attempt to explain the 30 Brudes in this way is more than obsolete.




$ The Northern Picts in the 9th and 10th centuries were overrun by Scots and Norse-men, and made less Pictish than any part of Scotland. The Norse-men had the Province of Cat; the Scots had the West Coast, and were masters of the Mormaership of Moray. He allows the conquest of the Southern Picts by the Scots. Consequently, the chiefs of the older Highland clans can well claim to be either Scots or Norse.

$ “Barbarous Scottish hordes”! Why, the Scots were the most learned people of Western Europe then! The Picts were the barbarians.

$ The 1450 MS. Dr. Skene has made much use of this MS. – overmuch use. As far as the Macdonald genealogies go, the MS. reproduces the Book of Ballimote, and otherwise depends on that work. Where it stands alone, as in the case of clans Chattan, Cameron, Mackenzie, Ross, Matheson, Macfee, Macgregor, Maclaren, Mackay (of Perthshire), and Maclagans, it has to be used with caution, even as late as 1400. The genealogies end from 1400 to 1450. The MS. is now undecipherable, owing to the employment of chemicals by its first editors.

$ The MS. here alluded to is the famous Dean of Lismore’s Book, published in 1862.

$ John Elder’s views. This rascally turncoat tells Henry VIII. that the Redshanks were Picts, and that they were racially the old stock descended from the mythical Brutus, and hence naturally belonged to Britain and England. The story of descent from Scota, or from the Scots, he repudiates. In fact he takes up Edward I.’s position in his letter to the Pope about his claims on Scotland; the Scots, with Bruce at their head, claimed independence as being from Ireland, descended of Scota. Dr. Skene favours the English view! The two stories are myths; they are not even traditions.

$ The extraordinary statement made here that we first hear of the Scota descent in 1320 in the letter to the Pope is contradicted by many documents, and all Irish history. See Picts and Scots Chronicles passim.

$ The idea of “Highland Chief” was first translated by “capitanus”; it implies nothing as to descent.


$ The Gall-Gaidheil. As already said, these were the mixed Norse and Gaels dwelling in the Western Isles and along the west coast from Galloway to Cape Wrath, afterwards reduced to the Kingdom of Man and the Isles. The Gael portion seem to have turned heathen, thinking Thor more powerful than Christ. The Hebrides were completely Norse. The term Vikingr Skotar of course applies to the Gaels among these Gall-Gaidheil; but the Norse were by far the more numerous in the combined nationality, if it may be so termed. The Gall-Gaidheil never held any part of Perthshire – Dunkeld or any other place.

$ Battle of Brunanburgh. There were two Anlafs present. Anlaf Cuaran, son of Sitric, son of Imar, claimant to Deira, and Anlaf, son of Godfred, King of Dublin and Cumberland. The former was Norse paternally, despite a Saga reference. See Skene himself on the point in Celtic Scotland, i. 353.

$ Somerled. He was “regulus of Argyll,” which the Norse called Dalir, and his family the Dalverja. This is simply the old name Dalriada, which the Norse Sagas claim to have been often conquered and held by their Kings and Earls. Somerled’s name is Norse – Sumarlidhi, “Summer-slider,” that is, “mariner.” He was son of Gille-brighde, son of Gille-adamnan. These two names are thoroughly Gaelic. The genealogy then gives “son of Solam (Solomund?) son of Imergi, son of Suibne, son of Nialgusa.” Imergi or Mergad is conjectured to be the kinglet Ichmarc who submitted to Canute in 1031, Macbeth being the other. On the whole, Somerled may be regarded as a Gael ruling independently over the mixed Norse and Gael of Argyleshire, the Gael being there predominant in numbers, though not in martial activity. In Somerled’s genealogy is Suibne, son of Nialgusa. Skene makes him Suibne, son of Kenneth, to fit his Suibne, son of Kenneth, King of the Gall-Gaidheil, who died in 1034. He deliberately charges the genealogist with here tampering with the facts; but really why should the genealogist do so? He had gone back far enough, in all conscience. This Kenneth is made King of Galloway in Skene’s “Picts and Scots:!

$ The MS. referred to is the Red Book of Clanranald (Reliquia Celtica, vol. ii. p. 154).

$ The date should be 1135. David’s conquest of Man, Bute, and Arran is not mentioned in Celtic Scotland, and seems mythical. David had some claim over Kintyre as monastic charters show (Orig. Par. vol. ii. part i. p. 1).

$ The sons of Malcolm Mac-Heth were nephews of Somerled (mepotes then meant nephew). Malcolm himself was brother to Angus of Moray, whose father Aed was husband of King Lulach’s daughter. Malcolm’s history is mixed up with that of an imposter – Bishop Wymund of Man – who asserted that he was Malcolm Mac-Heth. The surname is now Mackay.

$ Somerled was slain before any battle occurred by one of his own men in his tent at night. The Sudreys included all the Scottish Isles on the West Coast; the historical expression is “Sudreys and Man,” still known in the title of the “Bishop of Sodor and Man.”

$ No grandson of the name of Somerled succeeded Somerled. His power and lands were divided between his three sons by Ragnhild, daughter of King Olave of the Isles and Man. Dugall, the eldest, received Lorn, Morvern, and Mull; Reginald got Kintyre, Cowall, and Islay; while Angus, the third son, received lands further north, of which he and his family were dispossessed by Reginald Celtic Scotland, iii. 293).

$ “Lochaber held by the chief of Clan Chattan” – this is pure tradition, and wrong at that. The sheriffship here meant is Ballliol’s division in 1292 (Celtic Scotland, iii. 88-89).

$ Reginald never had Lorn or any of Dugall’s possessions. See notes on Clan Dugall.

$ King Ewen of Argyle did not die without issue. See Celtic Scotland, iii. 294.

$ The two Reginalds. If historians are careless or partisan, it is easy to confuse Reginald of Man and the Isles with Reginald of Islay and Kintyre. Reginald of Man was a great Viking, and undertook the government of Caithness for William the Lion, about 1196. This is distinctly stated by the Orkney Saga and implied by Roger of Hoveden, who calls Reginald King of Man, but makes him son of Somerled, which he was not. Skene, even in Celtic Scotland, is wrong on this point, and so are all the Clan Donald historians.

$ Roderick was not the eldest son; that honour belongs to Donald, ancestor and name-giver to Clan Donald ( Celtic Scotland, iii.293).


$ Clan Donald. Dr. Skene so entirely changed his views on the Macdonald history and genealogy that Celtic Scotland, iii. 293-300, must be consulted. There he avowedly follows Gregory, the most level-headed of clan historians. The name Donald is Celtic: Dumno-valo-s, “World-ruler,” the same as the Gaulish Dumnorix. Reginald or Ronald is Norse: “Ruler by the Gods”; his mother bore a feminine form of the same name still known as Raonaid. Donald was eldest son of Reginald.

$ John’s sons by Amy were John, Reginald, and Godfrey. John died early and his family failed; Reginald was the second son and regent of the Isles in John’s old age and Donald’s youth. Godfrey appears with the title “Lord of Uist,” but he too disappears. His son was not Alexander Mac Reury of Garmoran; such juggling with names might do in 1837, not now.

$ Battle of Harlaw. There is far too much importance attached to this battle. As Earl of Ross, Donald held estates in Buchan, which his descendants afterwards held, and it is far more probable that the attack on Aberdeenshire was largely due to the desire of recovering his position there, as joint Earl of Buchan.


$ Donald Balloch was a youth of 18, son of John Mor of Islay, cousin of Alexander of Ross. Skene here confuses him with Donald, second son of Reginald; this Donald who died about 1420, was ancestor of Glengarry. It is a great blunder. Donald Balloch lived to a good old age in Ireland and the Isles. His betrayal was a ruse; another man’s head was sent to the king.

$ Macdonalds of Keppoch. These were descended from Angus, illegitimate son of Alaster Carrach. They had no right to any lands; they simply squatted on lands granted by Alexander of Isles to Mackintosh.

$ Alexander Macreury of Garmoran cannot be transmogrified into Alexander MacGorrie. Phonetics are against it. MacReury, no doubt, was a descendant of the old M’Rorys of Garmoran, the last legitimate heir being Amy M’Rorie, wife of John of Isles and mother of Reginald of Garmoran, ancestor of Clanranald. Alexander M’Reury was a claimant to the lordship; and he, with another claimant (?) John MacArthur, got hanged for their conduct.

$ Clanranald and Glengarry. In this earlier work, Skene allowed his connection with the Glengarry family to warp his judgment over undoubted facts. Reginald’s eldest son was Allan; Donald was a younger son. From Allan are descended Clanranald, who, to prove the truth of this, had the lands of Garmoran. The early history of the Glengarry branch is very obscure – an obscurity out of which the family emerged by the heir, about 1510, marrying Sir Donald of Lochalsh’s sister, who was co-heiress of Sir Donald. As regards the right of chiefship between Clanranald and Glengarry, it has to be borne in mind that, according to purists, a Highland clan chief cannot be a bastard, even though legitimated, nor can he claim chiefship through the females. Unfortunately for Clanranald, their most famous chief and ancestor was John Moydartach, a bastard legitimated (1531).

$ Clan Dugall. skene has here been led into a most unfortunate blunder by MS. 1450. Skene holds that King Ewen of Argyle died without male issue, because the 1450 MS. happens to drop him in the genealogy. The second blunder is to say that the MacDougalls are descended of Dugall, son of Reginald. The MS. of 1450 and the Book of Ballimote both make this blunder; but the Book of Lecan gives the true genealogy under the heading of “Clan Somairli,” for Dugall was really Somerled’s eldest son and therefore head of the house of Somerled. John of Lorn and his father, Alexander de Argadia, were the heads of Somerled’s house in Bruce’s time. Alexander was son of King Ewen, son of Duncan, son of Dugall, son of Somerled. This is the genealogy given in Celtic Scotland, vol. iii. p. 294. It also agrees with the facts, for it would be otherwise difficult to account for Alexander de Ergadia of Lorn. The reference to Cupar Abbey Chartulary is also unfortunate, for Duncan de Lornyn here adduced was Duncan of Lornie, near Perth! The name Dugall is for Dubh-ghall, “Black Foreigner,” that is, Dane. It is on a par with Norman, Frank, the Norman-French Allan (Allemann) and others, formed from national names.

$ Siol Gillevray. Gillebride rig eilan is a further reading of MS. 1450, in the Iona Club Transactions, p. 358. In Celtic Scotland, vol. iii, p. 473, his place under the guidance of the Irish genealogist Mac Firbis is taken by Flaithbhertach; and the genealogy is that of Clan Lamont! The connection of King Suibne of Galloway with these mythic names is merely fancy. Anradan, or better Anrothan, is not Henry. The Mac Neills are not mentioned, nor the Mac Gillevrays in MS. 1450. The latter were an old Argyleshire clan; and a branch of Clan Chattan bore the same name – from Gillebratha, better Maol-bratha, “Servant of Doom.” Gillebride could never phonetically become Gillevray. The whole [siol Gillevray] page is a mistake.

$ Knapdale in 1292 belonged to the Earl of Menteith and was in the sheriffdom of Lorn. It was acquired from the Sweens thirty years before as the Paisley charter show.

$ The Mac Neills. this clan was divided into two branches: Mac Neills of Gigha and Castle Sween, and the Mac Neills of Barra. They were separate clans historically, and Gregory thinks, from their non-connection and frm their different armorial bearings, that they are not descended from two brothers, but are independent. If there was any chiefship, then Gigha family had it, as the quotation shows, for this Chief Torkil in 1530, by the same document, is gifted with the non-entry of Gigha. It is a pity Skene did not quote this fact. an excellent account of the Mac Neills of Barra appeared in the Highland News for 15th December, 1900, from the pen of Rev. A. Maclean Sinclair. Skene is wrong in saying that the MS. of 1450 contains any reference to the Mac Neills. It does not (Celtic Scotland, iii. p. 473). The name Niall means “champion.”

$ the Mac Lachlans. MS. 1450 derives the Maclachlans, the Lamonts, the Clan Somerled (?), and Mac Ewens of Otter from Aed Alan, the Buirche, son of Anradan, descendant of Niall Glun-dubh, the 10th century Irish king. The Dedaalan given as father of Gilchrist is the above Aed Alan, whom Skene in Celtic Scotland, iii. 472, regards as a far-away ancestor of Gilchrist. Angus Mac Rory was no ancestor of the Lamonts, as MS. 1450, revised in Celtic Scotland, iii. 472, will show. The name Lachlan is somehow descended from Lochlan, “Norse-land.”

$ The Gaelic of Ewen is Eoghan, “well born,” with the same meaning as Eugenius or Eugene.

$ Siol Eachern. The statement that the Clan Dugall Craignish and the Lamonds are of the same stock is justified by the Lamond genealogy in MS. 1450, which Skene had misread. Where he gets his “Siol Eachern” is not known to the Editor. The Mac Eacherns flourished as a clan-let in the first half of the 16th century in Kilblane of Kintyre, the chief having the lands of Killelane and others after the forfeiture of the Lord of the Isles. Golin Makauchern of Killelane in 1499 was “mayr of fee” for South Kintyre, as he was before under the Island lord. The land was lost in 1552 to the grasping Lord of Dunivaig. In the first edition of MS. 1450, Skene gives an ill-read genealogy of the Mac Eacherns. Eachthigherna means “horse-lord.”

$ Clan Dugall Craignish. Dugall of Craignis is mentioned in 1292. In 1361 the heiress Christina parted with his barony, in her sore distress, to Colin Cambel, of Lochow, ancestor of the Duke of Argyle. Skene’s arguments about the early connection of the Macgillevrays, Macinnesses, and Clan Dugall are all “in the air” – not even good guesswork.

$ clan Lamont. Skene failed to recognise this clan in MS. 1450; hence he does not join them to the Mac Lachlans, & c. they were powerful in the 13th century, and too generous to the Church. It is unlikely that they bore the name Mac-erchar previous to Mac Lamont, though there was a tendency latterly to do so. Anegosius Maccarawer, who submitted to Edward I. in 1297, has been claimed as the then chief of Mackintosh, though really head of the Lamonts. The name Lamont is earlier Lagman, a Norse name, the same in force and elements as English Law-man.


$ Atholl. Older Gaelic form, Aththotla or Ath-Fodla, “Second Fodla” or Second Ireland, Fodla being one of the names of Ireland, and that also of a mythical queen of the same. Atholl is one of the old Pictish provinces, and its population represent the best type of the Caledonians. Skene makes it belong to the Gall-Gaidheil – a flat impossibility. The Norse never had any power in Atholl.

$ Abthane. The title Abthane, to which Skene devotes several pages, never existed! The word is the old Gaelic for Abbey-land, still preserved in Appin! All this is known in Celtic Scotland, ii. 343, and in vol. i., p. 431, Skene actually criticises Burton for following Fordun in such nonsense! The ingenious arguments about abthane all fall to the ground.

$ Clan Donnachie. The name Donchath or Donnchath is explained as for Donno-catus “Warrior-lord” or “Brown-warrior,” for the colour domn meant both. Dunno-catus, another old name, makes this doubtful, for duno (u short) is used in names and means “strength:; as dunum, it means “town,” “fort.”

$ Read Conaing, not Conan.

$ Clan Pharlan. This clan has nothing to do with Atholl. The clan is descended from the Earls of Lennox, as he well shows later. These Earls themselves were Celtic, and a Celtic genealogy is given them in the older genealogies (Celtic Scotland, iii. 476) and MS. 1450, though Skene was unable to decipher the genealogy in the 1450 MS., or, indeed, to recognise it. The name Ailin in the Gaelic records, Englished, or rather Latinised as Alwyn (us), is native; it is also old, for Adamnan (700) has it as Ailenus. The root is al, stone (cf. Athelstane, Thorstein, & c.). The Norman Alan is from Breton, and means an Alemann (“All Men”; cf. Frank, Norman, Dugall).

$ Aluin Macarchill appears in the Book of Deer as Algune Mac Arcill (8th year of David’s reign), and the man was an East Coast – probably Aberdeen – potentate.

$ “Andrew Macfarlane does not appear to have had a natural title to the chiefship,” Why? Because Sir John Macfarlane is called “capitaneus de Clan Pharlane”; and Skene is satisfied capitanus or “captain” means “cadet chief.” Now, captain is the very earliest word for “chief.” the word chief did not then naturally mean what was known as a Highland chief. The 1587 Act puts “captain” before either “chief” or “chieftain.” There is no break in the Macfarlane genealogy (so Celtic Scotland, iii. 329). This is history as “she was wrote” in 1837. The name Parlan, as he says, is an adaptation of Bartholomew; just as the same family were fond of the name Absolon, and derived therefrom M’Auslan, a sept of the Buchanans.


$ For “Mhic Croeb” read “Moreb,” that is, Morays – dat. pl. of muir, sea.

$ Mac-Heth. Much nonsense has been written about Malcolm Mac-Heth, whose life history is complicated by the fact that an impostor, Wymund, Bishop of Man, tried to act his part. The name Heth is the most ill-used syllable I know of. It appears ad Head, Ed, Eth; the Gaelic form of all these monstrosities can easily be identified. It is the very favourite name of Aed or Aodh, later, translated as Hugh. Mac-Heth is an old form of Mackay, the Galwegian Mackie! Earl Ed is one of David’s seven earls, and was, of course, Earl of Moray. He was married to King Lulach’s daughter, and was thus father of Angus, Earl of Moray, slain in 1130. Malcolm Mac-Heth was another son of Aed, and he continued the war. He married Somerled’s sister, and was thus the father of the Mac-Heth nephews whom Somerled supported in 1153. Malcolm Mac-Heth was reconciled to the king in 1157, and made Earl of Ross. The impostor’s share in the whole story is not clear. Mac-Heth was not a family name; surnames had not yet started, or were only starting in Southern Scotland. Mac-Heth was used, like a surname, to denote the claim on the Earldom of Moray by the descendants of Aed.

$ Conquest of Moray. Skene makes far too much of this Conquest of Moray, and his two Gillespics, though named by Fordun, can hardly represent the old families of Mac-Heth and Mac-William.

$ The Clan Chattan, which is so named from St. Catan or little Cat. Skene’s views on this clan are vitiated by the fact that willy-nilly he antedates the Macphersons, who, probably, did not belong to the clan in a genealogical sense at all, being in the same position as the Macgillivrays and other adherents. Besides, the Macphersons are unknown till 1594. Shaw, the historian of Moray, could not give them a genealogy; and the genealogy in Douglas’ Baronage is an audacious manufacture. It is usual to regard the Clan Chattan as coming from Lochaber, but MS. 1450, which, by the way, identifies the Mackintoshes with Clan Chattan, points rather to a Moray connection, and possibly a relationship, as far as Mackintosh is concerned, with the family of Macbeth – the Mormaors of Moray. Skene’s identification of Tead (Head in 1837) of that genealogy with Heth of Moray is impossible, if the name is Tead, and unlikely anyway. MS. 1450 has two genealogies of Clan Chattan. The first one is undoubtedly the Mackintosh genealogy, or an attempt at it. The second genealogy is quite a puzzle, for it does not agree in any way with the Macpherson genealogy. Both end in Gillecatan, significantly 14 generations back, which would place that worthy about the year 1000. Skene forces the second genealogy on the Macphersons, who don’t want it! They have one of their own already!

$ The Battle at the North Inch of Perth. The clans who fought at Perth in 1396 were the Clan Shaw (Clan Headh) or Mackintosh, and a clan called Quhele. We do not exactly know what this clan was; it is mentioned in 1587. It must have possessed the uplands of Badenoch; but it gave way before the Macphersons, who came from Strathnairn originally. In Celtic Scotland Skene makes the combatants to be the Mackintoshes and Camerons. This is the usual view now, but it is not correct. No early Macphersons had names like Sha Ferchar-son. In the later work Skene gives the Macphersons as ancestor, Duncan Persoun (1438), a personage imprisoned with the Lord of the Isles. Their own genealogy names the Parson as Muireach, and his date, according to the length of their genuine genealogy, is about 1400, thus: Andrew, in Cluny (1591), son of Ewen, son of Donald Og (1562?), son of Donald Dall, son of Donald Mor (his brother Bean of Brin appears in 1490), son of Duncan (Skene’s Parson!), son of Kenneth, son of Ewen Ban, son of Murdoch Parson, whence Clann Mhuirich (about 1380). This Murdoch was great grandson of Gillicatan, who flourished 400 years before! He was also great grandfather of Eva of Clan Chattan, who married Angus Mackintosh in 1291, and brought him the Clan Chattan lands and chiefship!

         As a matter of fact Skene himself hit upon the truth. It was Huntly that raised the Cluny chiefs to check Mackintosh’s rising power. The Strathnairn Macphersons he bands in 1543 against Mackintosh, and in 1591 he bands the Badenoch Macphersons. Besides, they were Huntly’s tenants. In 12603, Andrew Macpherson in (not of) Cluny had land to the extent of “3 pleuchs in Laggan,” of which he was tacksman. And this is the family that Mr. Andrew Lang, following Skene’s 1837 vagaries, ranks as royal! Skene’s argument about “captain” of Clan Chattan gets a good back-hander in the present work: “Hieland Captains.”

         The legitimacy of a Parson’s son has also to be considered in the case of a Highland chief. If Muireach lived in the 14th century, down tumble the Macpherson claims. a surname – or Highland Mac surname – cannot go back to the Culdees.

         The Macduff nonsense in the Mackintosh genealogy may really be explained by the curious fact that the allied Macbeth genealogy is called “genealogy of Clan Duff.” The Mackintoshes are probably of Macbeth’s lineage. There was no thane of Fife, and Macduff himself is doubtful; Macduff could not be a surname.

         Eva, of Clan Chattan, has been usually regarded as mythical by those who have studied this question unbiasedly; but Mr. Murray Rose has tried to prove her identify. A lady Eva in 1296 supplicates her maintenance from Edward I., her husband having been taken prisoner at Dunbar. It runs thus – “Eva, uxor domini Alexandri Comyn de Badenaghe, qui captus fuit apud dunbar, supplicat regi sustentationem suam de 40 £ terra de dote Domini Alexandri de Moravia quondam viri sui.” An old antiquary – Rose, of Moncoffer – left among his innumerable papers a statement that Eva, heiress of Lochaber of the Isles ( = Eva Macdonald, of Lochaber) married firstly, Alexander Murray, Freskin of Duffus’ brother; secondly, Alexander Cumming, son of John Cumming of Badenoch; and thirdly, she married Mackintosh of clan Chattan. The weak point is the statement is that Eva was heiress of Lochaber, for in her time, the eastern portion, at least, of Lochaber belonged to the Cummings.

$ Macdonald of Keppoch had no right to his lands. His ancestor, Angus of Fersit, was an illegitimate son of Alaster Carrach.


$ The Clan Cameron. In modern times the Cameron estates have been west of the Lochy. Again Skene’s notion of “captain” leads him astray. The septs of the Camerons were the Mac Martins, Sliochd Somhairle, Clann ‘ic Gillonfhaidh, and the Locheil branch. The 1450 MS. contains names from the Mac Martins and the M’Gillonies; they are all the same stock. Gillonfhaidh or Maolonfhaidh means “Servant of Storm” Cameron itself is from Gille-Camshròin, “Wry-nosed one.” But the Camerons of Fife, Edinburgh and Southern Perth, derived their names from the place-names Cambrun. Bishop Cameron was an Edinburgh man; but he is given in the Cameron genealogies as brother of that excellent reiver, Donald Du! The Cameron genealogy in the histories before Donald Du is manufactured like that of Cluny in Douglas.

$ Ewen Allanson got his lands of Locheil and Lochalsh from Celestine of Lochalsh and his son, Sir Alexander. The Clan Ranald was in possession of its usual Garmoran lands; it had lost Lochaber altogether.

$ The Mac-Naughtons. The name Nectan is Pictish and comes from nig, wash, as already said. the deportation of the Mac-Naughtons from Northern Moray is mere theory, and unlikely too. the name exists clanwise only in Strathtay and Argyle. It seems clear that the Mac-Naughtons are intruders into Argyle from Pictland.

$ The Macleans. Of course the Macleans are not “of Moray”; they are an Island family, the name being either Mac-Gilleòin or Mac-Gill’ sheathain (Gill’-eathain); in either case the name means “Son of John’s Gille.” MS. 1450 has the genealogy, and improved by other sources it appears at p. 480-1 of Celtic Scotland, iii – a good genealogy. Gillemore, of Perth, is not in the genealogy; and the three sons mentioned in Bruce’s time (John, Nigel, and Donald, 1326) are the sons of the real Gilleoin or ancestor. For John Mac Gillimore, read John Mac Gilleòin.

$ The Mackinnons were possessed of lands in Mull. The Macleans were interlopers, apparently. The legend is old but unauthentic.

$ The capture of Lachlan Mac Lean at Harlaw is unlikely.

$ An account of the feud between Maclean and Angus of Isla is given in the new history of Clan Donald, vol. ii. p. 553-73. It gives a more fair, if Macdonaldian, account of the transactions (dates 1596-73).

$ Siol O’Cain. All this is traditional and unworthy of regard. O’Cathan is not allied to Clan Chatan; the one is from cath, battle; the other is from cat, cat. These O’Cathans came over in the train of the O’Cathan wife of Angus Og (1300) – so the Seanachies say, but, to use Fordun’s terms, “they lie.” These were native clans. The Sleat Historian is the main authority for all this.

$ The Munros. The Sleat Seanachie says that this clan got its name from Bun-Roe, “Mouth of Roy River,” in Derry, and that they came over in the train of Angus Og’s wife (O’Cathan). A clan in the east of Ross, before ever Macdonalds were Earls of Ross, could hardly have come as attendants on the bride of the Lord of Kintyre in west Argyle. The name is very difficult to unravel; it is a place-name, since the first chiefs in the 14th century are called de Munro. Monadh-Ruadh, or even Bun-Ruadh (“Red Mount,” “Red-footland”), would phonetically suit – the former especially. Ruadh, or Rodh, is the latter root and the foundation of the Gaelic name, Rothach, a Munro. Robert de Monro is the first assured chief by charter evidence (1341-1372).

$ The Mac-Millans. The name is firstly Mac-Gille-Mhaoil, Gille-maol, “Bald Gille”; but it probably stands for Gille-na-maol, which means “Gille of the Saints.” Shortened in the usual way, it appears as Maolan. Compare Gille-naomh, Irish Gille-na-naomh, “Gille of the Saints,” whence M’Gilnef, and Naomhan, whence M’Niven. The Macmillans of Knap and those of Lochaber were clearly independent clans.

$ The Buchanans and M’Auslans, as already said, are descended from the Earls of Lennox, and can be traced by early charters. See note above [Chapter V].


$ The first earl of Ross was Malcolm Mac-Heth, who was liberated in 1157, witnessed a charter of Dunfermline Abbey as Malcolm Mac Eth, and as Earl of Ross was entrusted with the defence of the monks of Dunfermline. His real due was the suppressed Earldom of Moray; he got only the (easter) Ross part of it. He seems to have behaved badly, and probably plotted to get back the old Earldom. The next Earl of Ross is the count of Holland, but he does not seem to have had more than the nominal title. The first Earl of line was Ferchar Mac-in-tagart (son of the priest), hailing evidently from the west – from the clerical district of Applecross. His family name was O Beòllan, Beòllan being a common name then, even borrowed by the Norse (from beul, mouth). His connection with the Clan Gillanders is close, though not clear. Paul Mac-Mac-tire, in 1370, was, evidently from MS. 1450, chief of it.

$ Gilleoin does not translate into Colin. Later it is the surname Gilleon, a side form of Maclean.

$ “Gael of Western Isles” – read “Gall, & c.” The Isles were still Norse.

$ Paul Mac Tyre. Tyre was not his father, as usually is supposed, but Mac-tire (meaning “Wolf,” a common name in his day and earlier); the name is Paul Mac ‘Ic-tire. Of course Paul the Wolf is possible, and, as a fact, he harried Caithness sufficiently to earn this title. Historians usually call him after old traditions, Paul the Robber.

$ The Rosses of Balnagown were descended of Hugh or Rarichies, third son of Hugh, fifth Earl of Sutherland. For the whole subject, see F. N. Reid’s Earls of Ross (1894). The third Balnagown married Paul Mac-Mac-tire’s daughter and heiress.

$ The Mackenzies were vassals of the Earls of Ross, and little or nothing is known of their history until the forfeiture of the last Earl. Their first charter is about the first forfeiture of the Island lord – 1463. Anything before that is spurious. The first chief mentioned is Kenneth More, leader of two thousand, captured by the king in 1427, as Skene says. In Celtic Scotland, iii. 317, he gives this Kenneth Mor as ancestor of Cluny! And this, too, though Kenneth was manifestly a prominent vassal of the Earl of Ross, whose men alone are mentioned by Fordun. Mackenzie domes from G. Coinneach, “Fair one”; it has nothing to do with Kenneth. The z in the name arose from mistaking old g for z, Kengie being the real form.

$ John, last Earl of Ross, was the only legitimate son of Alexander, Earl of Ross. His sons, Celestine and Hugh, were both illegitimate; Celestine of Lochalsh, and Hugh of Sleat, ancestor of Lord Macdonald.

$ Clan Matheson. The Gaelis is Mac-Mhathan, “Son of Bear.” Like the Mackenzies, they were vassals of Ross, but at the forfeiture of the Earldom they, unhappily, were vassals to Celestine and his son Alexander, of Lochalsh, and so did not get free like the Mackenzies. Good genealogies to about 1600 can be made out for the leading families.

$ Siol Alpine. This is pure tradition, made famous by Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake, and therefore requiring respectful notice.

$ Clan Gregor. The name is the Latin Gregorius, from late Greek gregorios, “Watchful.”  There was no King Gregory; the name meant is Cyric, debased into Girig. a genealogy to Kenneth Mac Alpin appears in the Dean of Lismore’s Book; a quite different one appears in MS. 1450, going back to Ferchar Foda of Lorn. An account of the lands held in Glenorchay by the Macgregors will be found in Orig. Parochiales, ii. part i. p. 138.

$ Clan Grant. The name means undoubtedly “great,” and is the Norman-French grand or grant (compare Blound, Blount, & c.) The first of the name are mentioned – Laurence Le Grant and Robert – the former being Sheriff of Inverness. They were Norman-French interlopers. The clan itself, like the rest of the population, is native. The Bissets, Grants, and Prats were neighbours both in England (Nottingham, & c.) And in Northern Moray in the 13th century. Many le Grants are mentioned as connected with the North in 1292-1307. Gilbert of Glencarnie (circ. 1360) was not a Grant, as Skene asserts; but Matilda of Glencarnie was mother of the first undoubted Chief of Grant (Sir Duncan Grant, 1434-85), her father being Gilbert of Glencarnie or Duthil. Many Grants appear in the 14th century, and confusion reigns in the Grant genealogy for that reason. Sir Duncan’s father was possibly John Roy Grant, who died young.

$ The MacKinnons. The name Fingon was common in older times, a Celtic Vindo-gonios, denoting “Fair-bairn.” The original habitat of the clan was Mull (Mishinish the chief place), where they held lands under the Lord of the Isles, and from the crown after their forfeiture. They had also the estate of Strathardle in Skye (parted with in 1791, the last of their land). They were closely connected with Iona in the 15th century, and John Mackinnon was the last abbot. See “Memoirs of Clan Fingon,” by Rev. Donald D. Mackinnon, M.A. (1899). Their Clan Gregor connection, though asserted by a bond, seems mere fancy. There was a bond also between the Mackinnons and Macnabs, asserting kinship.

$ Mac-nab, “Son of the Abbot”; likely the abbot of Glendochart, where there was a great Celtic monastery.

$ Macphee: Gaelic (old) Mac Duibhsithe. The name Dubhsithe means “Black of Peace,” the adjectives of colour being so used often to govern nouns in the genitive.

$ Macquarrie: Mac-Guaire. The name Guaire, Celtic Guarios or Gorios, means “noble,” “glorious.” The clan had a good position under the Macdonald chiefs.

$ Mac-Aulay. Skene’s two objections to the Mac-aulays being not of the line of the Earls of Lennox are of little value. The bond of kinship of 1591 rests on pure tradition. The Aulay is no doubt here the Norse Olaf or Anlaf. the Macaulays of Lewis are certainly of Norse origin. There was an old Gaelic name, Amalghaidh, which confuses the etymology of the name in the case of the Lennox Macaulays, where the Earls bear old Gaelic names like Ailin and Maoldomhnach.


$ Garmoran. In 1343 this name is Garw-morwarne, that is, Garbh-morbhern or “Rough Morvern,” meaning, no doubt, the “Rough (bounds) of Morvern,” the district to the south of it. Mor-vern itself means likely “

$ Great Passes” (bearna). Neither name has anything to do with Mearns (older Magh-ghirghinn), either in pronunciation or roots. Garmoran was the Clanranald country, “from sheil to Sourn,” as the Dean of Lismore has it. It was never an earldom, only a district. Skene is entirely wrong, and the Earldom of Garmoran has no place in Celtic Scotland.

$ The events detained as I., II., III. belong to Mearns. See Celtic Scotland, i. 364, 439, and 452.

$ Cellach could not become Gilli in Norse; it becomes Kjalakr. Earl Gilli ruled in the Isles (Coll, & c.) And not on the mainland. Besides, there was no Earldom of Garmoran. Nor could it remain in the Crown till Alexander III.’s time. It then belonged to the M’Rorys, and had been so held since Rory’s time (Celtic Scotland, iii. 88).

$ The Macleods and Campbells were entirely unconnected and never belonged to the fabled Earldom of Garmoran.

$ Clan Leod. Skene denies the Norse origin usually ascribed to the Macleods by tradition. The genealogies given both for the Campbells and Macleods in the Kilbride MS. of 1540 and MS. 1450 are clearly absurd: both deduce the lineage of these clans from Fergus Lethderg, son of Nemed (2349 B.C.!), but there is nothing in common in the genealogies, save these last two names. The Campbell genealogy passes through King Arthur and other British names. The Macleod genealogy passes through Iver, the Norse King of Dublin (9th century), and several ancestors bearing such Norse names as Olvir, Magnus, Harold, Uspac, Magnus of Orkney, Longbard, & c. To make them Gaelic, the two mythic heroes are added at the end. There is therefore no connection whatever between the Campbells and Macleods, as a student of Highland history might expect. (See Celtic Scotland, iii. 340). Skene regards the Macleods as mainland clans, mainly because the charters of 1343 to the respective heads of both branches are for Glenelg and Assynt; but the after history of the Macleods show them to be almost purely an Island race. Indeed, Assynt is traditionally recorded as coming to the Lewis branch through the heiress of the Macnicols. We may, therefore, regard the Macleods as a Hebridean clan; and, secondly, we can deduce from their Norse names – Leod (Ljotr, “Ugly,” curtailed doubtless from Ljotulf, “Ugly Wolf”), Torquil or Thor-Kell (“Thor’s Kettle”), Tormod (“Thor-mooded”), and further back, Ollghair (Olvir) – that the chiefs were purely Norse. Their descent from Olave of Man is not provable by any old documents. Lewis and Harris formed the cradle of the race apparently; and from this we may infer that the Lewis family was the elder, as keeping the first habitat. Leod may, as the clan historians have it, have lived in the time of Alexander III., after the cession of the Isles (1266). His two sons, Torquil and Tormod, may have been the heads of the two branches or clans (so Gregory) into which they were in historic times divided. An interesting genealogy, attached to the Maclean genealogy (Celtic Scotland, iii. 482), should be borne in mind in discussing any genealogy before or after Leod. It plainly contains “Ollaghar Nan Lann” or Mary the Bardess.

$ Macleod of Harris does not always take precedence of Macleod of Lewis in the charter signatures. On this score, they are about even. Buchanan of Auchmar (1723) gives the Lewis branch the precedence. Despite Gregory, who regards them as two separate clans, with separate armorial bearings, there seems little doubt that the clan chiefs are ultimately from one father.

$ The story of the atrocity at Egg, though formerly much doubted, is now known to be perfectly true from a contemporary MS. published in Celtic Scotland, iii. 428, & c. The date of the event is 1577.

$ Clan Campbell. As Skene says, the Campbells are certainly Celtic. The name is an epithet. Caim-beul, “Wry-mouth,” is equivalent to the ancient Irish cerrbél, an epithet of Fergus, father of Diarmat, king of Ireland (539-558). Cerbél or Cearr-beul became a Christian name as Cearbhall, Norse Kjarvalr, now Carrol. We meet also in ancient literature with ech-bél, “horse-mouthed.” The name Cameron is also to be compared. The other derivations offered are useless. There was no “de Campo-bello,” because idiom demanded Bello-campo (Beauchamp, Beecham); and “de Campellis” would become Champeaux. Of course the Campbells belonged not to Garmoran, though apparently Arthur, son of Sir Arthur Campbell, got a charter from the M’Rory heiress (about 1400) for the Garmoran lands; but it clearly took no effect. John Macarthur in 1427 lost his life in reviving the claim to Garmoran, along with Alexander Mac Reury. These Campbells were, no doubt, the Strathchur branch, whose claim to the headship of the Campbell race rests merely on assertion. In Celtic Scotland, iii. 331, Skene says the original seat of the Campbells was the district of Lochow and Ardskeodnich, and he concedes to the Mac Cailin-Moir branch the headship (Celtic Scotland, iii. 339). At any rate, it is the genealogy of the Lochow family that is always given; it goes back to an ancestor, Duibhne, who lived about the middle of the 12th century. The clan was certainly known as Clann O Duibhne or Clann Duibhne (Englished Clan Guin, and often badly rendered in its Gaelic form in the old MSS. and songs). In 1266, Gilespic Campbell has the king’s lands of Menstrie and Sauchie in Stirlingshire – evidently temporarily; but he is the first Cambell mentioned, and is regarded, no doubt rightly, as father of Cailin Mor (1292), who possessed lands in Argyle, and who is the family eponymus (M’Callum-mor). In 1292 Thomas Cambel held lands in Kintyre, and about the same time Dugald Cambell is connected with Dumbarton Castle as governor. The relationship of these several Cambels, and of Sir Arthur Cambel, it seems impossible now to define. Cailin Mor’s son was sir Neil, who married Bruce’s sister. The Cambells are usually regarded as interlopers in Argyle (see Brown’s Memorials of Argyle), but, if they did not originally belong to Argyle, we must not go further than Dumbartonshire for their habitat. The old genealogies trace them to the British King Arthur, a tradition which may indicate that the Cambells originally lived on the borderland of the Strathclyde Briton and the Gael. The name Arthur is common among them. The Cambells rose then on the ruins of the families of Lorn and of Alexander, lord of the Isles, partisans of the English. The Cambells of Lochow soon became masters of Argyle; they were a race of statesmen, with high literary talent, as old Gaelic poetry shows, and they still manifest the same characteristics. Skene’s severe censures are undeserved; because the Campbell chiefs nearly always trod a path of level-headed common sense, must they be declared cunning and unscrupulous?

$ There was no sheriffdom of Argyle till 1292.

$ Caithness. The old province of Cat (so named from the Catti or Cat-tribe) included Caithness and Sutherland. In the restricted sense, Caithness meant in the Sagas, modern Caithness, but they also used it to mean the whole Cat province, save Sutherland. The province Ness meant strictly and always modern Caithness; it was the Ness of Cat. Skene’s attempt to make Ness mean the Cape Wrath district is entirely against the evidence; it is abandoned in Celtic Scotland.

$ “Gaddgedli”; this is simply a corruption of Gall-Gaidheil, later reduced to mean Galloway. The text of the Saga is corrupt (Anderson’s Orkn. Saga, p. 28).

$ The Mackays. The name aodh or Aed, so troublesome to Sassenach scribes, was once the most popular of Gaelic names. We have already dealt with the Mac-Heths of Moray; then there were the powerful Mackeths, or Mackies, of Galloway; Mackays of Ugadale; Mackays of the Rinns in Islay; and the Morgan Mackays of Sutherland. There is, of course, no connection between these clans. The Inverness-shire Mackays are usually called in Gaelic, Mac-ài, that is, Mac Dhài or Davidson; they formed a branch of Clan Chattan. It is remarkable that the Sutherland Mackays claim kinship with the Forbes’s of Aberdeenshire, and about 1608 actually adopted Lord Forbes’ arms, with cadet differences (by permission of Lord Forbes, whom Hugh Mackay of Mackay calls his “dear Chief”); but it is also remarkable that the name Morgan exists, or in historic times existed, nowhere else than in Aberdeenshire and among the Sutherland Mackays. The name in Pictish – Morcunn (Book of Deer), “Sea-bright.” Perhaps the explanation lies in the fact that the Earl of Ross held lands in Buchan – indeed, he was entitled to half the earldom, and the last lord of the old line died in asserting his claims, and the first of the Macdonald lords suffered at Harlaw in the same cause. Now, the lands of Strathhalladale and Ferrincoskry (Skibo, Creich, & c.), and probably more, belonged to the Earl of Ross. The former lands were granted or re-granted to Angus Du Mackay in 1415 by Donald of the Isles. Angus Du is the first historic chief of Clan Mackay, and from Donald’s charter we learn that he held also Strathnaver (Aed de Strathnaver), or part of it. He does not seem to have held it of the crown. Angus opposed the claims of Donald of Isles to the Earldom of Ross, and put himself at the head of all the men of Sutherland, belonging to the Earldom of Ross, and the Ross-shire men, to expel donald from the earldom, but Angus was defeated and captured. He then married Donald’s sister, and in 1415 received the lands above mentioned (Strathhalladale and Ferrincoskry). In 1427, he was arrested as abettor to the Lord of the Isles, his nephew, when he is represented as having 4000 men at his command. This number must apply to his former campaign against Macdonald, when he had all the malcontents of the Earldom of Ross at his back. The Mackays were never so numerous as the Mackenzies, who, in 1427, could muster 2000. But all Fordun’s numbers are clearly exaggerated for the clans and chiefs then in arms in Macdonald’s cause.

$ “Y. Mackay”; this should simply be “Y Mackay.” The single letter Y was all that then represented Aodh, older Aed, “Fire.”

$ All the arguments about Ness are simply wasted ingenuity. See above note on Caithness.

$ The Mac-Nichols. This was a Norse clan like the Macleods. Macnicol is, and was, sometimes pronounced Macreacuil according to a well-known Gaelic phonetic law that cn becomes cr (cf. Macreachtain for Macnaughton, Macrigh for Macni). An ancestor, Krycul, is absurdly impossible as a name. Nicolas was a common Norse name. The habitat of the Clan Nicol is now Skye; they say that they left Assynt when the Macleods took possession of it, and came over to the nearest shore of Skye. Nicolsons have been there for at least three hundred years, in abundance.

$ Skene regards Sutherland proper – east of the Brae-chat and Dirie-chat range – as Norse, the Gaelic speakers being mostly incomers; but the same must be said of the rest of Sutherland. The old Earls of Sutherland were Celts of the Celts – the famed De Moravia family. Like the De Atholia family, they belonged to the family of the Mormaers of Moray – kinsmen by descent to Macbeth, Finlay, and Ruary. The Murrays still hold high places in the peerage: Duke of Atholl, Earls Mansfield and Dunmore, not to mention lesser titles. Freskin of Moray was probably the descendant of a refugee, De Moravia, who established himself in Norse Sutherland about the first Mac-Heth rebellions. The name Freskyn is still unexplained, but it is likely to be either Pictish or Gaelic, and not Flemish or Frisian as usually asserted.


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