Archaeological Essays, Vol. 1
by James Y. Simpson
1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse





M.D., D.C.L.










Printed by R. & R. CLARK, Edinburgh.


The late Sir James Simpson, in the midst of his anxious professional labours, was wont to seek for refreshment in the pursuit of subjects of a historical and archaeological character, and to publish the results in the Transactions of different Societies and in scientific journals.

Some of these papers are now scarce, and difficult of access; and a desire having been expressed in various quarters for their appearance in a collected and permanent form, I was consulted on the subject by Sir Walter Simpson, who put into my hands copies of the various essays, with notes on some of them by his father, which seemed to indicate that he himself had contemplated their republication.

Having for a long time been acquainted with their merits, I did not hesitate to express a strong opinion in favour of their publication; and I accepted with pleasure the duty of editing them, which Sir Walter requested me to perform.

The papers in question were the fruit of inquiries begun indeed as a relief from weightier cares; but as it was not in their author's nature to rest satisfied with desultory and superficial results in his treatment of any subject, so his archaeological papers more resemble the exhaustive treatises of a leisurely student, than the occasional efforts of one overwhelmed in professional occupations.

In the present work will be found all the more important archaeological papers of Sir James Simpson, collected from the various sources indicated in the Table of Contents.

The subjects to the antiquities of which Sir James first directed his attention were connected with his own profession; but, as time went on, his interest in historical pursuits deepened and expanded, and the questions discussed by him became more varied.

It has been thought best to arrange the papers of a general historical scope in the first volume, and those connected with professional antiquities in the second; but readers, who may wish to trace the order in which they were written by the author, will find their various dates in the Table.

The first paper, entitled "Archaeology, its Past and its Future Work," was prepared as a lecture to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. This was done with a care and elaboration which are not always associated with such efforts; and, whether in indicating the object and end of the archaeological student's pursuits,—sketching the past progress of the study,—and specifying the lines of research from which Scottish inductive archaeology may be expected to derive additional data and facts,—nothing more thoroughly practical could be desired; while in his resume of the difficulties and enigmas peculiar to Scottish antiquities, he may be said to have left none of them untouched, his passing allusions being, in many instances, suggestive of their solution.

The paper on "An old Stone-roofed Cell or Oratory in the Island of Inchcolm" affords an instance of the author's careful observation, and his fertility of illustration. The humble structure in question, which, at the time when it first attracted Sir James Simpson's notice, was used as a pig-stye, had few external features to suggest the necessity of farther inquiry; but after his eye had become accustomed to the architecture of the early monastic cells in Ireland, its real character flashed upon him, and he found that his conclusions coincided with the facts of the early history of the island.

These he gleaned from many sources, but in grouping them into a picture he enriched his narrative with various instructive notes; as on the "Mos Scotticum" of our early buildings; a comparison of the ruin with the Irish oratories; notices of other Island Retreats of Saints, and of the Saints themselves. In one of these he gives an instructive reference to a passage in the original Latin text of Boece about the round tower of Brechin, which had been overlooked by his translator Bellenden, and so was now quoted for the first time.

A copy of this paper on Inchcolm having been sent to his friend Dr. Petrie of Dublin, author of the well-known essay on the "Early Ecclesiastical Architecture and Round Towers of Ireland," it was returned after a time, enriched with many notes and illustrations. In now reprinting the paper these have been added, and are distinguished from the author's notes by having the letter P annexed to them. The subject of the Inchcolm oratory was one about which this great man felt much interest, and on which he could speak from the abundance of his knowledge and experience. The notes are therefore of special value, as furnishing the latest views of the author on mooted points of Celtic Ecclesiology, while they are conspicuous for the modesty and candour which were combined with Dr. Petrie's vast learning on the subject.

Thus, in his work on the Round Towers, Dr. Petrie assigned "about the year 1020" as the date of the round tower of Brechin, but in one of the notes he corrects himself, and explains the origin of his mistake:—"The recollection of the error which I made, by a carelessness not in such matters usual with me, in assigning this date 1020, instead of between the years 971 and 994, as I ought to have done, has long given me annoyance, and a lesson never to trust to memory in dates; for it was thus I fell into the mistake. I had the year 1020 on my mind, which is the year assigned by Pinkerton for the writing of the Chron. Pictorum, and, without stopping to remember or to refer, I took it for granted that it was the year of Kenneth's death, or rather of his gift."

In writing of the Early Churches or Oratories of Ireland, Dr. Petrie stated in his Essay—"they had a single doorway always placed in the centre of the west wall." In one of his notes, now printed, he thus qualifies the statement:—"I should perhaps have written almost always. The very few exceptions did not at the moment occur to me." Again, Sir James Simpson having quoted a passage from Dr. Petrie's work, in which the writer ascribes the old small stone-roofed church at Killaloe to the seventh century, Dr. Petrie, in his relative note, adds—"but now considers as of the tenth, or perhaps eleventh."

To the paper on "Leprosy and Leper Hospitals in Scotland and England" is now added a series of additional "Historical Notices," prepared by Dr. Joseph Robertson, with the accuracy and research for which, as is well known, my early friend was conspicuous.

The origin of the tract on "Medical Officers in the Roman Army" is explained in the following note, prefixed to the first edition:—"A few years ago my late colleague, Sir George Ballingall, asked me—'Was the Roman Army provided with Medical Officers?' He was interested in the subject as Professor of Military Surgery, and told me that he had made, quite unsuccessfully, inquiries on the matter in various quarters, and at various persons. I drew up for him a few remarks, which were privately printed and circulated among his class at the time. The present essay consists of an extension of these remarks."

The essay on the monument called "THE CATSTANE" suggested an explanation, which naturally elicited divergent criticisms. Some of these appear to have occasionally engaged Sir James Simpson's attention; and from some unfinished notes among his papers, it seems plain that he meant to notice them in an additional communication to the Society of Antiquaries.

In these notes, after recapitulating at the outset the facts adduced in his first paper, Sir James proceeds:—"These points of evidence, I ventured to conclude, 'tend at least to render it probable' that the Catstane is a monument to Vetta, the grandfather of Hengist and Horsa. But I did not consider the question as a settled question. I began and ended my paper by discussing this early Saxon origin of the monument as problematical and probable, but not fixed. At the same time, I may perhaps take the liberty of remarking, that both in archaeology and history we look upon some questions as sufficiently fixed and settled, regarding which we have less inferential and direct proof than we have respecting this solution of the enigma respecting the Catstane. The idea, however, that it was possible for a monument to a historic Saxon leader to be found in Scotland of a date antecedent to the advent of Hengist and Horsa to the shores of Kent, was a notion so repugnant to many minds, that, very naturally, various arguments have been adduced against it, while some high authorities have declared in favour of it. In this communication I propose to notice briefly some of the leading arguments that have been latterly brought forward both against and for the belief that the Catstane commemorates the ancestor of the Saxon conquerors of Kent.

"1. One anonymous writer has maintained, that if the Catstane was a monument to the grandfather of Hengist and Horsa, the inscription upon it should not have read 'In hoc tumulo jacet Vetta f(ilius) Victi,' but, on the contrary, 'Victus filius Vettae.' In other words, he holds that the inscription reverses the order of paternity as given by Bede, Nennius, etc.[1] But all this is simply and altogether a mistake on the part of the writer. All the ancient genealogies describe Hengist and Horsa as the sons of Victgils, Victgils as the son of Vetta, and Vetta as the son of Victus. The Catstane inscriptions give Vetta and Victus in exactly the same order. When I pointed out to the writer the mistake into which he had, perhaps inadvertently, fallen, he turned round, and argued that in such names the vowels e and i were more trustworthy as permanent elements than the consonants c and t.[2] He argued, in other words, that Vecta as a proper name would not be found spelled with an i. If it were never so spelled with an i, that circumstance was no argument in favour of the strange error of criticism into which the writer had fallen; but the fact is, that in the famous chapter of Bede's history, in which the names Hengist and Horsa, and their genealogies, first occur, there is an instance given, showing that, contrary to the opinion of this writer, a proper name having, like Vetta, the letter e as a component, may change it to i. For Bede, in telling us that the men of Kent and of the Isle of Wight (Cantuarii et Victuarii) were sprung from the Jutes, spells the Isle of Wight (Vecta) with an e, and the inhabitants of it (Victuarii) with an i.

"The same writer states it as his opinion that the lettering in the Catstane inscription is not so old as I should wish to make it. 'It is,' says he, 'in our opinion, of later date even than Hengist himself, both in the formula of the inscription and in the character of the writing.' Perhaps the writer's opinion upon such a point is not worth alluding to, as it is maintained by no proof. But Edward Lhuyd—one of the very best judges in such questions in former days—stated the lettering to be of the fourth or fifth century, without having any hypothesis to support or subvert by this opinion. And the best palaeographer of our own times—Professor Westwood—is quite of the same idea as to the mere age of the inscription, as drawn from its palaeography and formula, an idea in which he is joined by an antiquary who has worked much with ancient lettering—viz. Professor Stephens of Copenhagen."

Although it is to be regretted that the contemplated remarks were not completed, it may be doubted if the question admitted of much further illustration; and, however unlikely the conclusion may be that the inscription on the Catstane, VETTA F[ILIUS] VICTI, is a contemporary commemoration of the grandfather of Hengist and Horsa, it may not be easy to suggest a solution of the question free from difficulties as puzzling. At all events the palaeographic features of the inscription seem plainly to associate it with a class of rude post-Roman monuments, of which we have a good many examples in different parts of the kingdom; and it may be remarked that Mr. Skene, who has made this period of our history a special study, after investigating, with his usual acumen, the evidence which exists to show that the Frisians had formed settlements in Scotland at a period anterior to that usually assigned for the arrival of the Saxons in England, has established the fact of the early settlement on our northern coasts of a people called by the general name of Saxons, but in reality an offshoot from the Frisians, whose principal seat was on the shores of the Firth of Forth, and on the whole thinks it not impossible that the Catstane may be the tomb of their first leader Vitta, son of Vecta, the traditionary grandfather of Hengist and Horsa.[3]

Besides the papers now printed, Sir James Simpson contributed many shorter essays and reviews of books to magazines and newspapers. He also prepared a memorandum, printed in the second volume of the "Sculptured Stones of Scotland," of a reading of the inscription on a sculptured cross at St. Vigeans in Forfarshire.[4] At the time of the final adjustment of this paper Sir James was an invalid, and confined to his bed, and I well remember the extreme, almost fastidious, care bestowed by him on the proof-sheet, in the course of my frequent visits to his bedroom.

It sometimes happened also that a subject originally treated in a paper by Sir James Simpson required a volume to exhaust it. Thus, in the spring of 1864, he read to a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland a "Notice of the Sculpturing of Cups and Concentric Rings on Stones and Rocks in various parts of Scotland;" but materials afterwards so grew on his hands that his original Notice came to be expanded into a volume of nearly 200 pages, with 36 illustrative plates. His treatment of this curious subject furnishes a model for such investigations.[5]

Setting out with a description of the principal types of the sculptures, he investigates the chief deviations which occur. He next classifies the various monuments on which the sculptures have been observed, as standing-stones, cromlechs, stones in chambered tumuli, and stones in sepulchral cists. Another chapter describes their occurrence on stones connected with archaic habitations, as weems, fortified buildings, in and near ancient towns and camps, and on isolated rocks and stones. After a description of analogous sculptures in other countries, there is a concluding chapter of general inferences founded on the facts accumulated in the previous part of the volume.

On the occasion of a rapid journey to Liverpool, Sir James Simpson visited a stone circle at Calder, near that city, and detected the true character of the sculptures on the stones, a very imperfect note of which I had recently brought under his notice. An account of this monument, which he prepared for the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, is printed in the Transactions of that body for 1865, and the following passages are quoted from it:—"Many suggestions, I may observe, have been offered in regard to the intent and import of such lapidary cup and ring cuttings as exist on the Calder Stones; but none of the theories proposed solve, as it seems to me, the hieroglyphic mystery in which these sculpturings are still involved. They are old enigmatical 'handwritings on the wall,' which no modern reader has yet deciphered. In our present state of knowledge with regard to them, let us be content with merely collecting and recording the facts in regard to their appearances, relations, localities, etc.; for all early theorising will, in all probability, end only in error. It is surely better frankly to own that we know not what these markings mean (and possibly may never know it), rather than wander off into that vague mystification and conjecture which in former days often brought discredit on the whole study of archaeology.

"But in regard to their probable era let me add one suggestion. These cup and ring cuttings have now been traced along the whole length of the British Isles, from Dorsetshire to Orkney, and across their whole breadth from Yorkshire in England to Kerry in Ireland; and in many of the inland counties in the three kingdoms. They are evidently dictated by some common thought belonging to some common race of men. But how very long is it since a common race—or successive waves even of a common race—inhabited such distant districts as I have just named, and spread over Great Britain and Ireland, from the English Channel to the Pentland Firth, and from the shores of the German Ocean to those of the Atlantic?"

The special value of the inductive treatment of the subject adopted by Sir James Simpson is here conspicuous; and although no decided conclusion was come to on the age and meaning of the sculptures, or the people by whom they were made, yet a reader feels that the utmost has been made of existing materials; and that, while nothing has been left untouched which could throw light on the question, a broad and sure foundation has been laid on which all subsequent research must rest.

One of the Appendices to this volume contains an account of some ancient sculptures on the walls of certain caves in Fife. The essay originally appeared as a communication to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in January 1866, and was also soon afterwards printed separately—"Inscribed to James Drummond, Esq., R.S.A., as a small token of the Author's very sincere friendship and esteem."

The discovery of these cave sculptures affords an instance of the thoroughness which Sir James carried into all his investigations. While engaged in the preparation of his original paper for the Society of Antiquaries on the Sculpturing of Cups and Rings, he wished to ascertain all the localities and conditions of their occurrence. After describing the sculptured circles and cups which had been found on the stones of weems and "Picts' Houses," he referred to the caves on the coast of Fife, which he suggested might be considered as natural weems or habitations. These he had visited in the hope of discovering cup-markings; and in one near the village of Easter Wemyss he discovered faded appearances of some depressions or cups, with small single circles cut on the wall, adding to his description—"Probably a more minute and extensive search in these caves would discover many more such carvings."

This was written in 1864; and when the paper then prepared had been expanded into the volume of 1867, the passage just quoted was accompanied by the following note:—"I leave this sentence as it was written above two years ago. Shortly after that period, I revisited Wemyss, to inspect the other caves of the district, and make more minute observations than I could do in my first hurried visit, and discovered on the walls of some of them many carvings of animals, 'spectacle ornaments,' and other symbols exactly resembling in type and character the similar figures represented on the ancient so-called sculptured stones of Scotland, and, like them, probably about a thousand years old."[6]

In like manner, after Sir Gardner Wilkinson had detected a concentric circle of four rings sculptured on the pillar called "Long Meg," at the great stone circle of Salkeld, in Cumberland, Sir James Simpson paid a visit to the monument, when his scrutiny was rewarded by the discovery on this pillar of several additional groups of sculptures.[7]

In his lecture on Archaeology, Sir James Simpson has indicated two lines of research, from which additional data and facts for the elucidation of past times might be expected—viz. researches beneath the surface of the earth, and researches among older works and manuscripts. By the former he meant the careful and systematised examinations in which the spade and pickaxe are so important, and have done such service in late years, and from which Sir James expected much more; and by the latter the exploring and turning to account the many stores of written records of early times yet untouched.

Being impressed with the value of the charters of our old religious houses for historical purposes, he, shortly before his death, had a transcript made of the Chartulary of the Monastery of Inchcolm, with a design to edit it as one of a series of volumes of monastic records for the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

But the services of Sir James Simpson to the cause of archaeological research are not to be measured by his written contributions, remarkable as these are. Perhaps it may be said that his influence was most pregnant in kindling a love of research in others, by opening their eyes to see how much yet lay undiscovered, and how much each person could do by judicious effort in his own neighbourhood. With this view he on various occasions delivered lectures on special subjects of antiquity, and among his papers I found very full notes of lectures on Roman antiquities, one of which, on the "Romans in Britain," he delivered at Falkirk in the winter of 1862.

For many years the house of Sir James Simpson was the rendezvous of archaeological students; and it was one of his great pleasures to bring together at his table men from different districts and countries, but united by the brotherhood of a common pursuit, for the discussion of facts and the exchange of thought.

The friends who were accustomed to these easy reunions will not soon forget the radiant geniality of the host, and his success in stimulating the discussions most likely to draw out the special stores of his guests. Others also, who were associated with Sir James in the visits to historical sites which he frequently planned, in the retrospect of the pleasant hours thus spent will feel how vain it is to hope for another leader with the attractions which were combined in him.

In the course of his numerous professional journeys he acquired a wonderfully accurate knowledge of the early remains of different districts; and so contagious was his enthusiasm for their elucidation, that both the professional brethren with whom he acted, and his patients, were speedily found among his correspondents and allies.

His presence at the meetings of Archaeological Societies was ever regarded as a pleasure and benefit. Besides the stated meetings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, which he attended with comparative frequency, and where he ever took a share in the discussions, he was present on various occasions at Congresses of the Archaeological Institute, the Cambrian Association, and other kindred bodies, by means of which he was enabled to maintain an intercourse with contemporary fellow-labourers in the archaeological field, and to attain that familiarity with different classes of antiquities which he turned to such account in the discussion and classification of the early remains of Scotland.

I must not speak of the wonderful combination of qualities which were conspicuous in Sir James Simpson, alongside of those which I have mentioned. This may safely be left to the more competent hand of Professor Duns, from whose memoir of his early friend so much may be expected, and where a more general estimate of his character will naturally be found. Yet, in bringing together this series of Sir James Simpson's Archaeological Essays, it seemed not unsuitable for me to express something of my admiration of the earnest truth-seeking spirit with which they were undertaken, as well as of the genius and research with which they were executed.



[Footnote 1: "The monument reverses the order of paternity of the two individuals, making Wecta the son of Witta, instead of Witta the son of Wecta, in which all the old genealogies agree."—Athenaeum, July 5, 1862, p. 17.]

[Footnote 2: "The vowel is far more distinctive of the two names than the difference of c and t, letters which were continually interchanged."—Ibid. August 2, 1862, p. 149.]

[Footnote 3: Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. iv. p. 181.]

[Footnote 4: The Sculptured Stones of Scotland, vol. ii. Notices of the Plates, p. 71.]

[Footnote 5: Archaic Sculpturings of Cups, Circles, etc., upon Stones and Rocks in Scotland, England, and other Countries. Edin. 1867.]

[Footnote 6: British Archaic Sculpturings, p. 126.]

[Footnote 7: Idem, p. 20.]




An Inaugural Address to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Session 1860-61. Proc. vol. iv. p. 5.


A Paper read to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, July 13, 1857. Proc. vol. ii. p. 489.

[With Notes by Dr. George Petrie, Author of an Essay on the "Early Ecclesiastical Architecture and Round Towers of Ireland."]


Read to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 11th February 1861. Proc. vol. iv. p. 119.

Printed separately in 1862, and "Inscribed with Feelings of the most Sincere Esteem to Mrs. Pender, Crumpsall House, Manchester."


Read to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 8th April 1861. Proc. vol. iv. p. 211.


Corrected Abstract of a Communication to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 20th January 1868, with Notes and an Appendix. Proc. of the Royal Society, No. 75.



It has become a practice of late years in this Society for one of the Vice-Presidents to read an Annual Address on some topic or topics connected with Archaeology. I appear here to-night more in compliance with this custom than with any hope of being able to state aught to you that is likely to prove either of adequate interest or of adequate importance for such an occasion.

In making this admission, I am fully aware that the deficiency lies in myself, and not in my subject. For truly there are few studies which offer so many tempting fields of observation and comment as Archaeology. Indeed, the aim and the groundwork of the studies of the antiquary form a sufficient guarantee for the interest with which these studies are invested. For the leading object and intent of all his pursuits is—MAN, and man's ways and works, his habits and thoughts, from the earliest dates at which we can find his traces and tracks upon the earth, onward and forwards along the journey of past time. During this long journey, man has everywhere left scattered behind and around him innumerable relics, forming so many permanent impressions and evidences of his march and progress. These impressions and evidences the antiquary searches for and studies—in the changes which have in successive eras taken place (as proved by their existing and discoverable remains) in the materials and forms of the implements and tools which man has from the earliest times used in the chase and in agriculture; in the weapons which he has employed in battle; in the habitations which he has dwelt in during peace, and in the earth-works and stone-works which he has raised during war; in the dresses and ornaments which he has worn; in the varying forms of religious faith which he has held, and the deities that he has worshipped; in the sacred temples and fanes which he has reared; in the various modes in which he has disposed of the dead; in the laws and governments under which he has lived; in the arts which he has cultivated; in the sculptures which he has carved; in the coins and medals which he has struck; in the inscriptions which he has cut; in the records which he has written; and in the character and type of the languages in which he has spoken. All the markings and relics of man, in the dim and distant past, which industry and science can possibly extract from these and from other analogous sources, Archaeology carefully collects, arranges, and generalises, stimulated by the fond hope that through such means she will yet gradually recover more and more of the earlier chronicles and lost annals of the human race, and of the various individual communities and families of that race.

The objects of antiquarian research embrace events and periods, many of which are placed within the era of written evidence; but many more are of a date long anterior to the epoch when man made that greatest of human discoveries—the discovery, namely, of the power of permanently recording words, thoughts, and acts, in symbolical and alphabetic writing. To some minds it has seemed almost chimerical for the archaeologist to expect to regain to any extent a knowledge of the conditions and circumstances of man, and of the different nations of men, before human cunning had learned to collect and inscribe them on stone or brass, or had fashioned them into written or traditional records capable of being safely floated down the stream of time. But the modern history of Archaeology, as well as the analogies of other allied pursuits, are totally against any such hopeless views.

Almost within the lifetime of some who are still amongst us, there has sprung up and been cultivated—and cultivated most successfully too—a science which has no written documents or legible inscriptions to guide it on its path, and whose researches are far more ancient in their object than the researches of Archaeology. Its subject is an antiquity greatly older than human antiquity. It deals with the state of the earth and of the inhabitants of the earth in times immeasurably beyond the earliest times studied by the antiquary. In the course of its investigations it has recovered many strange stories and marvellous chronicles of the world and of its living occupants—long, long ages before human antiquity even began. But if Geology has thus successfully restored to us long and important chapters in the pre-Adamite annals of the world's history, need Archaeology despair of yet deciphering and reading—infinitely more clearly than it has yet done—that far later episode in the drama of the past which opens with the appearance of man as a denizen of earth. The modes of investigating these two allied and almost continuous sciences—Geology and Archaeology—are the same in principle, however much the two sciences themselves may differ in detail. And if Geology, in its efforts to regain the records of the past state of animal and vegetable life upon the surface of the earth, has attractions which bind the votaries of it to its ardent study, surely Archaeology has equal, if not stronger claims to urge in its own behoof and favour. To the human mind the study of those relics by which the archaeologist tries to recover and reconstruct the history of the past races and nations of man, should naturally form as engrossing a topic as the study of those relics by which the geologist tries to regain the history of the past races and families of the fauna and flora of the ancient world. Surely, as a mere matter of scientific pursuit, the ancient or fossil states of man should—for man himself—have attractions as great, at least, as the ancient or fossil states of plants and animals; and the old Celt, or Pict, or Saxon, be as interesting a study as the old Lepidodendron or Ichthyosaurus.

Formerly, the pursuit of Archaeology was not unfrequently regarded as a kind of romantic dilettanteism, as a collecting together of meaningless antique relics and oddities, as a greedy hoarding and storing up of rubbish and frivolities that were fit only for an old curiosity shop, and that were valued merely because they were old;—while the essays and writings of the antiquary were looked down upon as disquisitions upon very profitless conjectures, and very solemn trivialities. Perhaps the objects and method in which antiquarian studies were formerly pursued afforded only too much ground for such accusations. But all this is now, in a great measure, entirely changed. Archaeology, as tempered and directed by the philosophic spirit, and quickened with the life and energy of the nineteenth century, is a very different pursuit from the Archaeology of our forefathers, and has as little relation to their antiquarianism as modern Chemistry and modern Astronomy have to their former prototypes—Alchemy and Astrology. In proof of this, I may confidently appeal to the good work which Archaeology has done, and the great advances which it has struck out in different directions within the last fifty years. Within this brief period it has made discoveries, perhaps in themselves of as momentous and marvellous a character as those of which any other modern science can boast. Let me cite two or three instances in illustration of this remark.

Dating, then, from the commencement of the present century, Archaeology has—amidst its other work—rediscovered, through the interpretation of the Rosetta-stone, the long-lost hieroglyphic language of Egypt, and has thus found a key by which it has begun—but only as yet begun—to unlock the rich treasure-stores of ancient knowledge which have for ages lain concealed among the monuments and records scattered along the valley of the Nile. It has copied, by the aid of the telescope, the trilingual arrow-headed inscriptions written 300 feet high upon the face of the rocks of Behistun; and though the alphabets and the languages in which these long inscriptions were "graven with a pen of iron and lead upon the rocks for ever," had been long dead and unknown, yet, by a kind of philological divination, Archaeology has exorcised and resuscitated both; and from these dumb stones, and from the analogous inscriptions of Van, Elwend, Persepolis, etc., it has evoked official gazettes and royal contemporaneous annals of the deeds and dominions of Darius, Xerxes, and other Persian kings. By a similar almost talismanic power and process, it has forced the engraved cylinders, bricks, and obelisks of the old cities of Chaldea and Babylonia—as those of Wurka, Niffer, Muqueyer, etc.—to repeat over again to this present generation of men the names of the ancient founders of their public buildings, and the wars and exploits of their ancient monarchs. It has searched among the shapeless mounds on the banks of the Tigris, and after removing the shroud of earth and rubbish under which "Nineveh the Great" had there lain entombed for ages, it has brought back once more to light the riches of the architecture and sculptures of the palaces of that renowned city, and shown the advanced knowledge of Assyria—some thirty long centuries ago—in mechanics and engineering, in working and inlaying with metals, in the construction of the optical lens, in the manufactory of pottery and glass, and in most other matters of material civilisation. It has lately, by these and other discoveries in the East, confirmed in many interesting points, and confuted in none, the truth of the Biblical records. It has found, for instance, every city in Palestine and the neighbouring kingdoms whose special and precise doom was pronounced by the sure word of Prophecy, showing the exact state foretold of them twenty or thirty centuries ago,—as Askelon tenantless, the site of ancient Gaza "bald," old Tyre "scraped" up, and Samaria with its foundations exposed, and its "stones poured down in heaps" into the valley below. It has further, within the last few years, stolen into the deserts of the Hauran, through the old vigilant guard formed around that region by the Bedouin Arabs, and there—(as if in startling contradiction to the dead and buried cities of Syria, etc.)—it has—as was equally predicted—discovered the numerous cyclopic cities of Bashan standing perfect and entire, yet "desolate and without any to dwell therein,"—cities wrapped, as it were, in a state of mortal trance, and patiently awaiting the prophesied period of their future revival and rehabitation; some of them of great size, as Um-el-Jemal (probably the Beth-gamul of Scripture), a city covering as large a space as Jerusalem, with its high and massive basaltic town walls, its squares, its public buildings, its paved streets, and its houses with their rooms, stairs, revolving and frequently sculptured stone-doors, all nearly as complete and unbroken, as if its old inhabitants had only deserted it yesterday. Again, from another and more distant part of the East,—from the plains of India,—Archaeology has recently brought to Europe, and at an English press printed for the first time, upwards of 1000 of the sacred hymns of the Rig-Veda, the most ancient literary work of the Aryan or Indo-European race of mankind; for, according to the calm judgment of our ripest Sanskrit scholars, these hymns were composed before Homer sung of the wrath of Achilles; and they are further remarkable, on this account, that they seem to have been transmitted down for upwards of 3000 years by oral tradition alone—the Brahmin priests up to the present day still spending—as Caesar tells us the old Druidical priests of Gaul spent—twelve, twenty, or more years of their lives, in learning by heart these sacred lays and themes, and then teaching them in turn to their pupils and successors.

The notices of antiquarian progress in modern times, that I have hitherto alluded to, refer to other continents than our own. But since the commencement of the present century Archaeology has been equally active in Europe. It has, by its recent devoted study of the whole works of art belonging to Greece, shown that in many respects a livelier and more familiar knowledge of the ancient inhabitants of that classic land is to be derived from the contemplation of their remaining statues, sculptures, gems, medals, coins, etc., than by any amount of mere school-grinding at Greek words and Greek quantities. It has recovered at the same time some interesting objects connected with ancient Grecian history; having, for example, during the occupation of Constantinople in 1854 by the armies of England and France, laid bare to its base and carefully copied the inscription, engraved some twenty-three centuries ago, upon the brazen stand of the famous tripod which was dedicated by the confederate Greeks to Apollo at Delphi, after the defeat of the Persian host at Platea,—an inscription that Herodotus himself speaks of, and by which, indeed, the Father of History seems to have authenticated his own battle-roll of the Greek combatants. Archaeology has busied itself also, particularly of late years, in disinterring the ruins of numerous old Roman villas, towns, and cities in Italy, in France, in Britain, and in the other western colonies of Home; and by this measure it has gained for us a clearer and nearer insight into every-day Roman life and habits, than all the wealth of classic literature supplies us with. Though perfectly acquainted with the Etruscan alphabet, it has hitherto utterly failed to read a single line of the numerous inscriptions found in Etruria, but yet among the unwritten records and relics of the towns and tombs of that ancient kingdom, it has recovered a wonderfully complete knowledge of the manners, and habits, and faith, of a great and prosperous nation, which—located in the central districts of Italy—was already far advanced in civilisation and refinement long before that epoch when Romulus is fabled to have drawn around the Palatine the first boundary line of the infant city which was destined to become the mistress of the world. Latterly, among all the western and northern countries of Europe, in Germany, in Scandinavia, in Denmark, in France, and in the British Islands, Archaeology has made many careful and valuable collections of the numerous and diversified implements, weapons, etc., of the aboriginal inhabitants of these parts, and traced by them the stratifications, as it were, of progress and civilisation, by which our primaeval ancestors successively passed upwards through the varying eras and stages of advancement, from their first struggles in the battle of life with tools of stone, and flint, and bone alone, till they discovered and applied the use of metals in the arts alike of peace and war; from those distant ages in which, dressed in the skins of animals, they wore ornaments made of sea-shells and jet, till the times when they learned to plait and weave dresses of hair, wool, and other fibres, and adorned their chiefs with torcs and armlets of bronze, silver, and gold. Archaeology also has sought out and studied the strongholds and forts, the land and lake habitations of these, our primaeval Celtic and Teutonic forefathers:—and has discovered among their ruins many interesting specimens of the implements they used, the dresses that they wore, the houses they inhabited, and the very food they fed upon. It has descended also into their sepulchres and tombs, and there—among the mysterious contents of their graves and cinerary urns—it has found revealed many other wondrous proofs of their habits and condition during this life, as well as of their creeds and faith in regard to a future state of existence.

By the aid of that new and most powerful ally, Comparative Philology, Archaeology has lately made other great advances. By proofs exactly of the same linguistic kind as those by which the modern Spanish, French, and other Latin dialects can be shown to have all radiated from Rome as their centre, the old traditions of the eastern origin of all the chief nations of Europe have been proved to be fundamentally true; for by evidence so "irrefragable" (to use the expression of the Taylorian professor of modern languages at Oxford), that "not an English jury could now-a-days reject it," Philological Archaeology has shown that of the three great families of mankind—the Semitic, the Turanian, and the Aryan—this last, the Aryan, Japhetic, or Indo-European race, had its chief home about the centre of Western Asia;—that betimes there issued thence from its paternal hearths, and wended their way southward, human swarms that formed the nations of Persia and Hindustan;—that at distant and different, and in some cases earlier periods, there hived off from the same parental stock other waves of population, which wandered westward, and formed successively the European nations of the Celts, the Teutons, the Italians, the Greeks, and the Sclaves;—and that while each exodus of this western emigration, which followed in the wake of its fellow, drove its earliest predecessor before it in a general direction further and further towards the setting sun, at the same time some aboriginal, and probably Turanian races, which previously inhabited portions of Europe, were gradually pushed and pressed aside and upwards, by the more powerful and encroaching Aryans, into districts either so sterile or so mountainous and strong, that it was too worthless or too difficult to follow them further—their remnants being represented at the present day by the Laps, the Basques, and the Esths. Philological Archaeology has further demonstrated that the vast populations which now stretch from the mouth of the Ganges to the Pentland Firth,—sprung, as they are, with a few exceptions only, from the same primitive Aryan stock,—all use words which, though phonetically changed, are radically identical for many matters, as for the nearest relationships of family life, for the naming of domestic animals, and other common objects. Some of these archaic words indicate, by their hoary antiquity, the original pastoral employment and character of those that formed the parental stock in our old original Asiatic home; the special term, for example (the "pasu" of the old Sanskrit or Zend), which signified "private" property among the Aryans, and which we now use under the English modifications, "peculiar" and "pecuniary"—primarily meaning "flocks;"[9] the Sanskrit word for Protector, and ultimately for the king himself, "go-pa," being the old word for cowherd, and consecutively for chief herdsman; while the endearing name of "daughter" (the duhitar of the Sanskrit, the [Greek: thygater] of the Greek), as applied in the leading Indo-European languages to the female children of our households, is derived from a verb which shows the original signification of the appellation to have been the "milker" of the cows. At the same time the most ancient mythologies and superstitions, and apparently even the legends and traditions of the various and diversified Indo-European races, appear also, the more they are examined, to betray more and more of a common parentage. Briefly, and in truth, then, Philological Archaeology proves that the Saxon and the Persian, the Scandinavian and the Greek, the Icelander and the Italian, the fair-skinned Scottish Highlander, and his late foe, the swarthy Bengalee, are all distant, very distant, cousins, whose ancestors were brothers that parted company with each other long, long ages ago, on the plains of Iran. That the ancestors of these different races originally lived together on these Asiatic plains "within the same fences, and separate from the ancestors of the Semitic and Turanian races," is (to quote the words of Max Mueller), "a fact as firmly established as that the Normans of William the Conqueror were the Northmen of Scandinavia."

Lastly, to close this too long, and yet too rapid and imperfect sketch of some of the work performed by modern inductive Archaeology, let me merely here add,—for the matter is too important to omit,—that, principally since the commencement of this century, Archaeology has sedulously sat down among the old and forbidding stores of musty, and often nearly illegible manuscripts, charters, cartularies, records, letters, and other written documents, that have been accumulating for hundreds of years in the public and private collections of Europe, and has most patiently and laboriously culled from them annals and facts having the most direct and momentous bearing upon the acts and thoughts of our mediaeval forefathers, and upon the events and persons of these mediaeval times. By means of this last type of work, the researches of the antiquary have to a wonderful degree both purified and extended the history of this and of the other kingdoms of Europe. These researches have further, and in an especial manner, thrown a new flood of light upon the inner and domestic life of our ancestors, and particularly upon the conditions of the middle and lower grades of society in former times,—objects ever of primary moment to the researches of Archaeology in its services, as the workman and the pioneer of history. For, truly, human history, as it has been hitherto usually composed, has been too often written as if human chronicles ought to detail only the deeds of camps and courts—as if the number of men murdered on particular battle-fields, and the intrigues and treasons perpetrated in royal and lordly antechambers, were the sum total of actual knowledge which it was of any moment to transmit from one generation of men to another. In gathering, however, from the records of the past his materials for the true philosophy of history, the archaeologist finds—and is now teaching the public to find—as great an attraction in studying the arts of peace as in studying the arts of war; for in his eyes the life, and thoughts, and faith of the merchant, and craftsman, and churl, are as important as those of the knight, and nobleman, and prince—with him the peasant is as grand and as genuine a piece of antiquity as the king.

Small in extent, scant in population, and spare in purse, as Scotland confessedly is, yet, in the cultivation of Archaeology she has in these modern times by no means lagged behind the other and greater kingdoms of Europe. This observation is attested by the rich and valuable Museum of Scottish antiquities which this Society has gathered together—a Museum which, exclusively of its large collection of foreign coins, now numbers above 7000 specimens, for nearly 1000 of which we stand indebted to the enlightened zeal and patriotic munificence of one Scottish gentleman, Mr. A. Henry Rhind of Sibster. The same fact is attested also by the highly valuable character of the systematic works on Scottish Archaeology which have been published of late years by some of our colleagues, such as the masterly Pre-historic Annals of Scotland, by Professor Daniel Wilson; the admirable volume on Scotland in the Middle Ages, by Professor Cosmo Innes; and the delightful Domestic Annals of Scotland, by Mr. Robert Chambers. The essays also, and monographs on individual subjects in Scottish Archaeology, published by Mr. Laing, Lord Neaves, Mr. Skene, Mr. Stuart, Mr. Robertson, Mr. Fraser, Captain Thomas, Mr. Burton, Mr. Napier, Mr. M'Kinlay, Mr. M'Lauchlan, Dr. Wise, Dr. J.A. Smith, Mr. Drummond, etc., all strongly prove the solid and successful interest which the subject of Scottish Archaeology has in recent times created in this city. The recent excellent town and county histories published by Dr. Peter Chalmers, Messrs. Irving, Jeffrey, Jervise, Pratt, Black, Miller, etc., afford evidences to the same effect. Nor can I forget in such an enumeration the two complete Statistical Accounts of Scotland. But if I were asked to name any one circumstance, as proving more than another the attention lately awakened among our countrymen by antiquarian inquiries, I would point, with true patriotic pride, to the numerous olden manuscript chronicles of Scotland, of Scottish towns, and Scottish monasteries, institutions, families, and persons, which have been printed within the last forty years—almost all of them having been presented as free and spontaneous contributions to Scottish Archaeology and History by the members of the Bannatyne, the Abbotsford, the Maitland, and the Spalding Clubs; and the whole now forming a goodly series of works extending to not less than three hundred printed quarto volumes.

But let us not cheat and cozen ourselves into idleness and apathy by reflecting and rejoicing over what has been done. For, after all, the truth is, that Scottish Archaeology is still so much in its infancy, that it is only now beginning to guess its powers, and feel its deficiencies. It has still no end of lessons to learn, and perhaps some to unlearn, before it can manage to extract the true metal of knowledge from the ore and dross of exaggeration in which many of its inquiries have become enveloped. At this present hour we virtually know far less of the Archaeology and history of Scotland ten or fifteen centuries ago than we know of the Archaeology and history of Etruria, Egypt, or Assyria, twenty-five or thirty centuries ago.

In order to obtain the light which is required to clear away the dark and heavy mists which thus obscure the early Archaeology of Scotland, how should we proceed? In the pursuits and investigations of Archaeology, as of other departments of science, there has never yet been, and never will be discovered, any direct railway or royal road to the knowledge which we are anxious to gain, but which we are inevitably doomed to wait for and to work for. The different branches of science are Gordian knots, the threads of which we can only hope to unwind and evolve by cautious assiduity, and slow, patient industry. Their secrets cannot be summarily cut open and exposed by the sword of any son of Philip. But, in our daydreams, it is not unpleasant sometimes to imagine the possibility of such a feat. It was, as we all know, very generally believed, in distant antiquarian times, that occasionally dead men could be induced to rise, and impart all sorts of otherwise unattainable information to the living. This creed, however, has not been limited to those ancient times, for, in our own days, many sane persons still profess to believe in the possibility of summoning the spirits of the departed from the other world back to this sublunary sphere. When they do so, they have always hitherto, as far as I have heard, encouraged these spirits to perform such silly juggling tricks, or requested them to answer such trivial and frivolous questions, as would seem to my humble apprehension to be almost insulting to the grim dignity and solemn character of any respectable and intelligent ghost. If, like Owen Glendower, or Mr. Home, I had the power to "call spirits from the vasty deep," and if the spirits answered the call, I—being a practical man—would fain make a practical use of their presence. Methinks I should feel grossly tempted, for example, to ask such of them as had the necessary foreknowledge, to rap out for me, in the first instance, the exact state of the English funds, or of the London stock and share-list, a week or a month hence; for such early information would, I opine—if the spirits were true spirits—be rather an expeditious and easy mode of filling my coffers, or the coffers of any man who had the good sense of plying these spiritual intelligences with one or two simple and useful questions. If, however, the spirits refused to answer such golden interrogatories as involving matters too mercenary and not sufficiently ghostly in their character, then I certainly should next ask them—and I would of course select very ancient spirits for the purpose—hosts of questions regarding the state of society, religion, the arts, etc., at the time when they themselves were living denizens of this earth. Suppose, for a moment, that our Secretaries, on summoning the next meeting of this Society, had the power of announcing in their billets that, by "some feat of magic mystery," a very select and intelligent deputation of ancient Britons and Caledonians, Picts, Celts, and Scots, and perhaps of Scottish Turanians, were to be present in our Museum—(certainly the most appropriate room in the kingdom for such a reunion)—for a short sederunt, somewhere between twilight and cock-crowing, to answer any questions which the Fellows might choose to ply them with, what an excitement would such an announcement create! How eagerly would some of our Fellows look forward to the results of one or two such "Hours with the Mystics." And what a battery of quick questions would be levelled at the members of this deputation on all the endless problems involved in Scottish Archaeology. I think we may readily, and yet pretty certainly, conjecture a few of the questions, on our earlier antiquities alone, that would be put by various members that I might name, as:—

What is the signification of the so-called "crescent" and "spectacle" ornaments, and of the other unique symbols that are so common upon the 150 and odd ancient Sculptured Stones scattered over the north-eastern districts of Scotland?

What is the true reading of the old enigmatic inscriptions upon the Newton and St. Vigean's stones, and of the Oghams on the stones of Logie, Bressay, Golspie, etc.?

Had Solinus Polyhistor, in the fourth century, any ground for stating that an ancient Ulyssean altar, written with Greek letters, existed in the recesses of Caledonia?

Who were Vetta, Victus, Memor, Loinedinus, Liberalis, Florentius, Mavorius, etc., whose names are recorded on the Romano-British monuments at Kirkliston, Yarrow, Kirkmadrine, etc., and what is the date of these monuments?

By what people was constructed the Devil's Dyke, which runs above fifty miles in length from Loch Ryan into Nithsdale?

When, and for what purpose, was the Catrail dug?

Was it on the line of the Catrail, or of the Roman wall between the Forth and Clyde, or on what other ground, that there was fought the great battle or siege of Cattraeth or Kaltraez, which Aneurin sings of in his Gododin, and where, among the ranks of the British combatants, were "three hundred and sixty-three chieftains wearing the golden torcs" (some specimens, of which might yet perhaps be dug up on the battle-field by our Museum Committee, seeing three only of these chiefs escaped alive); and how was the "bewitching mead" brewed, that Aneurin tells us was far too freely partaken of by his British countrymen before and during this fierce struggle with the Saxon foe?

Is the poet Aneurin the same person as our earliest native prose historian Gildas, the two appellations being relatively the Cymric and Saxon names of the same individual? Or were they not two of the sons or descendants of Caw of Cwm Cawlwyd, that North British chief whose miraculous interview with St. Cadoc near Bannawc (Stirlingshire?) is described in the life of that Welsh saint?

Of what family and rank was the poet—Merddin Wyllt—or "Merlin the Wild," who, wearing the chieftain's golden torc, fought at the battle of Arderydd, about A.D. 573, against Rhydderch Hael, that king of Alcluith or Dumbarton, who was the friend of St. Columba, and "the champion of the (Christian) faith," as Merlin himself styles him? And when that victory was apparently the direct means of establishing this Christian king upon the throne of Strathclyde, and the indirect means which led to the recall of St. Kentigern from St. Asaph's to Glasgow, how is it that the Welsh Triads talk of it enigmatically as a battle for a lark's nest?

If Ossian is not a myth, when and where did he live and sing? Was he not an Irish Gael? And could any member of the deputation give us any accurate information about our old nursery friend Fingal or Fin Mac Coul? Was he really, after all, not greater, or larger, or any other than simply a successful and reforming general in the army of King Cormac of Tara, and the son-in-law of that monarch of Ireland?

From what part of Pictland did King Cormac obtain, in the third century, the skilled mill-wright, Mac Lamha, to build for him that first water-mill which he erected in Ireland, on one of the streams of Tara? And is it true, as some genealogists in this earthly world believe, that the lineal descendants of this Scottish or Pictish mill-wright are still millers on the reputed site of this original Irish water-mill?

The apostate Picts (Picti apostati) who along with the Scots are spoken of by St. Patrick in his famous letter against Coroticus, as having bought for slaves some of the Christian converts kidnapped and carried off by that chief from Ireland, were they inhabitants of Galloway, or of our more northern districts? And was the Irish sea not very frequently a "middle passage" in these early days, across which St. Patrick himself and many others were carried from their native homes and sold into slavery?

Was it a Pictish or Scottish, a British or a Roman architect that built "Julius' howff," at Stenhouse (Stone-house) on the Carron, and what was its use and object?

Were our numerous "weems," or underground houses, really used as human abodes, and were they actually so very dark, that when one of the inmates ventured on a joke, he was obliged—as suggested by "Elia"—to handle his neighbour's cheek to feel if there was any resulting smile playing upon it?

When, and by whom were reared the Titanic stone-works on the White Caterthun, and the formidable stone and earth forts and walls on the Brown Caterthun, on Dunsinane, on Barra, on the Barmekyn of Echt, on Dunnichen, on Dunpender, and on the tops of hundreds of other hills in Scotland?

How, and when, were our Vitrified Forts built? Was the vitrification of the walls accidental, or was it not rather intentional, as most of us now believe? In particular, who first constructed, and who last occupied the remarkable Vitrified Forts of Finhaven in Angus, and of the hill of Noath in Strathbogie? Was not the Vitrified Fort of Craig-Phadric, near Inverness, the residence of King Brude, the son of Meilochon, in the sixth century; and if so, is it true, as stated in the Irish Life of St. Columba, that its gates were provided with iron locks?

When, by whom, and for what object, were the moats of Urr, Hawick, Lincluden, Biggar, and our other great circular earth mounds of the same kind, constructed? Were they used for judicial and legal purposes, like the old Things of Scandinavia; and as the Tinwald Mount in the island of Man is used to this day? And were not some of them military or sepulchral works?

Who fashioned the terraces at Newlands in Tweeddale; and what was the origin of the many hillside terraces scattered over the country?

What is the age of the rock-caves of Ancrum, Hawthornden, etc., and were they primarily used as human habitations?

The sea-cave at Aldham on the Firth of Forth—when opened in 1831, with its paved floor strewed with charred wood, animal bones, limpet-shells, and apparently with a rock-altar at its mouth, having its top marked with fire, ashes adhering to its side, and two infants' skeletons lying at its base—was it a human habitation, or a Pagan temple?

What races sleep in the chambered barrows and cairns of Clava, Yarrows, Broigar, and in the many other similar old Scottish cities and houses of the dead?

By whom and for what purpose or purposes were the megalithic circles at Stennis, Callernish, Leys, Achnaclach, Crichie, Kennethmont, Midmar, Dyce, Kirkmichael, Deer, Kirkbean, Lochrutton, Torhouse, etc., etc., reared?

What were the leading peculiarities in the religious creed, faith, and festivals of Broichan and the other Caledonian or Pictish Magi before the introduction of Christianity?

When Coifi, the pagan high-priest of Edwin, the king of Northumbria and the Lothians, was converted to Christianity by Paulinus, in A.D. 627, he destroyed, according to Bede, the heathen idols, and set fire to the heathen temples and altars; but what was the structure of the pagan temples here in these days, that he could burn them,—while at the same time they were so uninclosed, that men on horseback could ride into them, as Coifi himself did after he had thrown in the desecrating spear?

Was not our city named after this Northumbrian Bretwalda, "Edwin's-burgh?" Or was the Eiddyn of which Aneurin speaks before the time of Edwin, and the Dinas Eiddyn that was one of the chief seats of Llewddyn Lueddog (Lew or Loth), the grandfather of St. Kentigern or Mungo of Glasgow, really our own Dun Edin? Or if the Welsh term "Dinas" does not necessarily imply the high or elevated position of the place, was it Caer Eden (Cariden, or Blackness), at the eastern end of the Roman Wall, on the banks of the Forth?

Did our venerable castle rock obtain the Welsh name of Din or Dun Monaidh, from its being "the fortress of the hill," and was its other Cymric appellation Agnedh, connected with its ever having been given as a marriage-portion (Agwedh)? Or did its old name of Maiden Castle, or Castrum Puellarum, not rather originate in its olden use as a female prison, or as a school, or a nunnery?

And is it true, as asserted by Conchubhranus, that the Irish lady Saint, Darerca or Monnine, founded, late in the fifth century, seven churches (or nunneries?) in Scotland, on the hills of Dun Edin, Dumbarton, Stirling, Dunpelder, and Dundevenal, at Lanfortin near Dundee, and at Chilnacase in Galloway?

When, and by whom, were the Round Towers of Abernethy, Brechin, and Eglishay built? Were there not in Scotland or its islands other such "turres rotundae mira arte constructae," to borrow the phrase of Hector Boece regarding the Brechin tower?

If St. Patrick was, as some of his earliest biographers aver, a Strathclyde Briton, born about A.D. 387 at Nempthur (Nemphlar, on the Clyde?) and his father Calphurnius was, as St. Patrick himself states in his Confession, a deacon, and his grandfather Potitus a priest, then he belonged to a family two generations of which were already office-bearers in Scotland in the Christian Church;—but were there many, or any such families in Scotland before St. Ninian built his stone church at Whithern about A.D. 397, or St. Palladius, the missionary of Pope Celestine, died about A.D. 431, in the Mearns? And was it a mere rhetorical flourish, or was there some foundation for the strong and distinct averment of the Latin father Tertullian, that, when he wrote, about the time of the invasion of Scotland by Severus (circa A.D. 210), there were places in Britain beyond the limits of the Roman sway already subject to Christ?

When Dion Cassius describes this invasion of Scotland by Severus, and the Roman Emperor's loss of 50,000 men in the campaign, does he not indulge in "travellers' tales," when he further avers that our Caledonian ancestors were such votaries of hydropathy that they could stand in their marshes immersed up to the neck in water for live-long days, and had a kind of prepared homoeopathic food, the eating of a piece of which, the size of a bean, entirely prevented all hunger and thirst?

Caesar tells us that dying the skin blue with woad was a practice common among our British ancestors some 1900 years ago;—are Claudian and Herodian equally correct in describing the very name of Picts as being derived from a system of painting or tattooing the skin, that was in their time as fashionable among some of our Scottish forefathers, as it is in our time in New Zealand, and among the Polynesians?

According to Caesar, the Britons wore a moustache on the upper lip, but shaved the rest of the beard; and the sole stone—fortunately a fragment of ancient sculpture—which has been saved from the ruins of the old capital of the Picts at Forteviot, shows a similar practice among them. But what did they shave with? Were their razors of bronze, or iron, or steel? And where, and by whom, were they manufactured?

Was the state of civilisation and of the arts among the Caledonians, when Agricola invaded them, about A.D. 80 or 81, as backward as some authorities have imagined, seeing that they were already so skilled in, for example, the metallurgic arts, as to be able to construct, for the purposes of war,—chariots, and consequently chariot-wheels, long swords, darts, targets, etc.?

As the swords of the Caledonians in the first century were, according to Tacitus, long, large, and blunt at the point, and hence in all probability made of iron, whence came the sharp-pointed leaf-shaped bronze swords so often found in Scotland, and what is the place and date of their manufacture? Were they earlier? And what is the real origin of the large accumulation of spears and other instruments of bronze, some whole, and others twisted, as if half-melted with heat, which, with human bones, deer and elk-horns, were dredged up from Duddingston Loch about eighty years ago, and constituted, it may be said, the foundation of our Museum? Was there an ancient bronze-smith shop in the neighbourhood; or were these not rather the relics of a burned crannoge that had formerly existed in this lake, within two miles of the future metropolis of Scotland?

Could the deputation inform us where we might find, buried and concealed in our muirs or mosses, and obtain for our Museum some interesting antiquarian objects which we sadly covet—such as a specimen or two, for instance, of those Caledonian spears described by Dion, that had a brazen apple, sounding when struck, attached to their lower extremity? or one of those statues of Mercury that, Caesar says, were common among the Western Druids? or one of the covini mentioned by Tacitus—(for we are anxious to know if its wheels were of iron or bronze; how these wheels made, as Caesar tells us the wheels of the British war-chariots made, a loud noise in running; and whether or not they had, as some authorities maintain, scythes or long swords affixed to their axles)? or where we might dig up another specimen of such ancient and engraved silver armour as was some years ago discovered at Norrie's Law, in Fife, and unfortunately melted down by the jeweller at Cupar? or could any of the deputation refer us to any spot where we might have a good chance of finding a concealed example of such glass goblets as were, according to Adamnan, to be met with in the royal palace of Brude, king of the Picts, when St. Columba visited him, in A.D. 563, in his royal fort and hall (munitio, aula regalis) on the banks of the Ness?

Whence came King "Cruithne," with his seven sons, and the Picts? Were they of Gothic descent and tongue, as Mr. Jonathan Oldbuck maintained in rather a notorious dispute in the parlour at Monkbarns? or were they "genuine Celtic," as Sir Arthur Wardour argued so stoutly on the same memorable occasion?

Were the first Irish or Dalriadic Gaeidhil or Scots who took possession of Argyll (i.e., Airer-Gaeidheal, or the district of the Gaeidhel), and who subsequently gave the name of Scot-land to the whole kingdom, the band of emigrants that crossed from Antrim about A.D. 506 under the leadership of Fergus and the other sons of Erc; or, as the name of "Scoti" recurs more than once in the old sparse notices of the tribes of the kingdom before this date, had not an antecedent colony, under Cairbre Riada, as stated by Bede, already passed over and settled in Cantyre a century or two before?

Our Reformed British Parliament is still so archaeological as to listen, many times each session, to Her Majesty, or Her Majesty's Commissioners, assenting to their bills, by pronouncing a sentence of old and obsolete Norman French—a memorial in its way of the Norman Conquest; and our State customs are so archaeological that, when Her Majesty, and a long line of her illustrious predecessors, have been crowned in Westminster Abbey, the old Scottish coronation-stone, carried off in A.D. 1296 by Edward I. from Scone, and which had been previously used for centuries as the coronation-stone of the Scotic, and perhaps of the Irish, or even the Milesian race of kings, has been placed under their coronation-chair—playing still its own archaic part in this gorgeous state drama. But is this Scone or Westminster coronation-stone really and truly—as it is reputed to be by some Scottish historians—the famous Lia Fail of the kings of Ireland, that various old Irish writings describe as formerly standing on the Hill of Tara, near the Mound of the Hostages? Or does not the Lia Fail—"the stone that roared under the feet of each king that took possession of the throne of Ireland"—remain still on Tara—(though latterly degraded to the office of a grave-stone)—as is suggested by the distinguished author of the History and Antiquities of Tara Hill? If any of our deputies from ghostdom formerly belonged to the court of Fergus MacErc, or originally sailed across with him in his fleet of currachs, perhaps they will be so good as tell us if in reality the royal or any other of the accompanying skin-canoes was ballasted then or subsequently with a sacred stone from Ireland, for the coronation of our first Dalriadic king; and especially would we wish it explained to us how such a precious monument as the Lia Fail of Tara was or could be smuggled away by such a small tribe as the Dalriadic Scots at first were? Perhaps it would be right and civil to tell the deputation at once, that the truth is we are anxious to decide the knotty question as to whether the opinions of Edward I. or of Dr. Petrie are the more correct in regard to this "Stone of Fate?" Or if King Edward was right politically, is Dr. Petrie right archaeologically, in his views on this subject? In short, does the Lia Fail stand at the present day—as is generally believed—in the vicinity of the Royal Halls of Westminster, or in the vicinity of the Royal Halls of Tara?

What ancient people, destitute apparently of metal tools and of any knowledge of mortar, built the gigantic burgs or duns of Mousa, Hoxay, Glenelg, Carloway, Bragar, Kildonan, Farr, Rogart, Olrick, etc., with galleries and chambers in the thickness of their huge uncemented walls? Is it true, as the Irish bardic writers allege, that some of the race of the Firbolgs escaped, after the battle at one of the Moyturas to the Western Islands and shores of Scotland, and that thence, after several centuries, they were expelled again by the Picts, after the commencement of the Christian era, and subsequently returned to the coast of Galway, and built, or rebuilt, there and then, the great analogous burgs of Dun AEngus, Dun Conchobhair, etc., in the Irish isles of Aran?[10]

What is the signification of those mysterious circles formed of diminishing concentric rings which are found engraved, sometimes on rocks outside an old aboriginal village or camp, as at Rowtin Lynn and Old Bewick; sometimes on the walls of underground chambers, as in the Holm of Papa Westray, and in the island of Eday; sometimes on the walls of a chambered tumulus, as at Pickaquoy in Orkney; or on the interior of the lid of a kistvaen, as at Craigie Hall, near Edinburgh, and probably also at Coilsfield and Auchinlary; or on a so-called Druidical stone, as on "Long Meg" at Penrith?

Is it true that a long past era—and, if so, at what era—our predecessors in this old Caledonia had nothing but tools and implements of stone, bone, and wood? Are there no gravel-beds in Scotland in which we could probably find large deposits of the celts and other stone weapons—with bored and worked deer-horns, of that distant stone-age—such as have been discovered on the banks of the Somme and the Loire in France? And were the people of that period in Scotland Celtic or pre-Celtic?

When the first wave of Celtic emigrants arrived in Scotland, did they not find a Turanian or Hamitic race already inhabiting it, and were those Scottish streams, lakes, etc., which bear, or have borne, in their composition, the Euskarian word Ura (water)—as the rivers Urr, Orr, and Ury, lochs Ur, Urr, and Orr, Urr-quhart, Cath-Ures, Or-well, Or-rea, etc., named by these Turanian aborigines?

We know that in Iona, ten or twelve centuries ago, Greek was written, though we do not know if the Iona library possessed—what Queen Mary had among the sixteen Greek volumes[11] in her library—a copy of Herodotus; but we are particularly anxious to ascertain if the story told by Herodotus of Rhampsinitus, and the robbery of his royal treasury by that "Shifty Lad" "the Master Thief,"[12] was in vogue as a popular tale among the Scottish Gaels or Britons in the oldest times? The tale is prevalent in different guises from India to Scotland and Scandinavia among the Aryans, or alleged descendants of Japhet; Herodotus heard it about twenty-three centuries ago in Egypt, and consequently (according, at least, to some high philologists), among the alleged descendants of Shem; and could any Scottish Turanians, as alleged descendants of Ham, in the deputation, tell us whether the tale was also a favourite with them and their forefathers? For if so, then, in consonance with the usual reasoning on this and other popular tales, the story must have been known in the Ark itself, as the sons of Noah separated soon after leaving it, and yet all their descendants were acquainted with this legend. But have these and other such simple tales not originated in many different places, and among many different people, at different times; and have they not an appearance of similarity, merely because, in the course of their development, the earliest products of the human fancy, as well as of the human hand, are always more or less similar under similar circumstances?

Or perhaps, passing from more direct interrogatories, we might request some of the deputation to leave with us a retranslation of that famous letter preserved by Bede, which Abbot Ceolfrid addressed about A.D. 715 to Nectan III., King of the Picts, and which the venerable monk of Jarrow tells us was, immediately after its receipt by the Pictish King and court, carefully interpreted into their own language? or to be so good as write down a specimen of the Celtic or Pictish songs that happened to be most popular some twelve or fourteen centuries ago? or describe to us the limits at different times of the kingdoms of the Strathclyde Britons and Northumbrians, and of the Picts and Dalriadic Scots? or fill up the sad gaps in Mr. Innes' map of Scotland in the tenth century, containing, as it does, the names of one river only, and some thirteen Scottish church establishments and towns; or tell us where the "urbs Giudi" and the Pictish "Niduari" of Bede were placed, and why AEngus the Culdee speaks (about A.D. 800) of Cuilenross, or Culross, as placed in Strath-h-Irenn in the Comgalls, between Slieve-n-Ochil and the Sea of Giudan? or identify for us the true sites of the numerous rivers, tribes, divisions, and towns—or merely perhaps stockaded or rathed villages—which Ptolemy in the second century enters in his geographical description of North Britain? or particularise the precise bounds of the Meatae and Attacotti, and of the two Pictish nations mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus, namely, the Dicaledonae and Vecturiones? or trace out for us the course of Agricola's campaigns in Scotland, especially marking the exact site of the great victory of the Mons Grampius, and thus deciding at once and for ever whether the two enormous cairns placed above the moor of Ardoch cover the remains of the 10,000 slain; or whether the battle was fought at Dealgin Ross, or at Findochs, or at Inverpeffery, or at Urie Hill in the Mearns, or at Mormond in Buchan, or at the "Kaim of Kinprunes?" which last locality, however, was, it must be confessed, rather summarily and decisively put out of Court some time ago by the strong personal evidence of Edie Ochiltree.

* * * * *

If these, and some thousand-and-one similar questions regarding the habits, arts, government, language, etc., of our Primaeval and Mediaeval Forefathers could be at once summarily and satisfactorily answered by any power of "gramarye," then the present and the future Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland would be saved an incalculable amount of difficult investigation and hard work. But unfortunately I, for one at least, have no belief that any human power can either unsphere the spirits of the dead for a night's drawing-room amusement, or seduce the "wraiths" of our ancestors to "revisit the glimpses of the moon" even for such a loyal and patriotic object as the furtherance of Scottish Archaeology. Nevertheless I doubt not, at the same time, that many of these supposed questions on the dark points of Scottish antiquities will yet betimes be answered more or less satisfactorily. But the answers, if ever obtained, will be obtained by no kind of magic except the magic of accumulated observations, and strict stern facts;—by no necromancy except the necromancy of the cautious combination, comparison, and generalisation of these facts;—by no enchantment, in short, except that special form of enchantment for the advancement of every science which the mighty and potent wizard—Francis Bacon—taught to his fellow-men, when he taught them the spell-like powers of the inductive philosophy.

The data and facts which Scottish antiquaries require to seek out and accumulate for the future furtherance of Scottish Archaeology, lie in many a different direction, waiting and hiding for our search after them. On some few subjects the search has already been keen, and the success correspondingly great. Let me specify one or two instances in illustration of this remark.

As a memorable example, and as a perfect Baconian model for analogous investigations on other corresponding topics—in the way of the full and careful accumulation of all ascertainable premises and data before venturing to dogmatise upon them—let me point to the admirable work of Mr. Stuart on the Sculptured Stones of Scotland—an almost national work, which, according to Mr. Westwood (the highest living authority on such a subject), is "one of the most remarkable contributions to Archaeology which has ever been published in this or any other country."

"Crannoges"—those curious lake-habitations, built on piles of wood, or stockaded islands,—that Herodotus describes in lake Prasias, five or six centuries before the Christian era, constituting dwellings there which were then impregnable to all the military resources of a Persian army,—that Hippocrates tells us were also the types of habitation employed in his day by the Phasians, who sailed to them in single-tree canoes,—that in the same form of houses erected upon tall wooden piles, are still used at the present day as a favourite description of dwelling in the creeks and rivers running into the Straits of Malacca, and on the coasts of Borneo and New Guinea, etc., and the ruins of which have been found in numerous lakes in Ireland, England, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, etc.;—Crannoges, I say, have been searched for and found also in various lochs in our own country; and the many curious data ascertained with regard to them in Scotland will be given in the next volume of our Society's proceedings by Mr. Joseph Robertson, a gentleman whom we all delight to acknowledge as pre-eminently entitled to wield amongst us the pen of the teacher and master in this as in other departments of Scottish antiquities.

Most extensive architectural data, sketches, and measurements, regarding many of the remains of our oldest ecclesiastical buildings in Scotland (including some early Irish Churches, with stone roofs and Egyptian doors, that still stand nearly entire in the seclusion of our Western Islands), have been collected by the indomitable perseverance and industry of Mr. Muir; and when the work which that most able ecclesiologist has now in the press is published, a great step will doubtless be made in this neglected department of Scottish antiquities.

In addition, however, to the assiduous collection of all ascertainable facts regarding the existing remains of our sculptured stones, our crannoges, and our early ecclesiastical buildings, there are many other departments of Scottish antiquities urgently demanding, at the hands of the numerous zealous antiquaries scattered over the country, full descriptions and accurate drawings of such vestiges of them as are still left—as, for example:—

I. Our ancient Hill-forts of Stone and Earth. II. Our old cyclopic Burgs and Duns. III. Our primaeval Towns, Villages, and Raths. IV. Our Weems or Underground Houses. V. Our Pagan sepulchral Barrows, Cairns, and Cromlechs. VI. Our Megalithic Circles and Monoliths. VII. Our early Inscribed Stones; etc.

Good and trustworthy accounts of individual specimens, or groups of specimens, of most of these classes of antiquities, have been already published in our Transactions and Proceedings, and elsewhere. But Scottish Archaeology requires of its votaries as large and exhaustive a collection as possible, with accurate descriptions, and, when possible, with photographs or drawings—or mayhap with models (which we greatly lack for our Museum)—of all the discoverable forms of each class; as of all the varieties of ancient hill-strongholds; all the varieties of our underground weems, etc. The necessary collection of all ascertainable types, and instances of some of these classes of antiquities, will be, no doubt, a task of much labour and time, and will in most instances require the combined efforts of many and zealous workers. This Society will be ever thankful to any members who will contribute even one or two stones to the required heap. But all past experience has shown that it is useless, and generally even hurtful, to attempt to frame hypotheses upon one, or even upon a few specimens only. In Archaeology, as in other sciences, we must have full and accurate premises before we can hope to make full and accurate deductions. It is needless and hopeless for us to expect clear, correct, and philosophic views of the character and of the date and age of such archaeological objects as I have enumerated, except by following the triple process of (1) assiduously collecting together as many instances as possible of each class of our antiquities; (2) carefully comparing these instances with each other, so as to ascertain all their resemblances and differences; and (3) contrasting them with similar remains in other cognate countries, where—in some instances, perhaps—there may exist, what possibly is wanting with us, the light of written history to guide us in elucidating the special subjects that may happen to be engaging our investigations—ever remembering that our Scottish Archaeology is but a small, a very small, segment of the general circle of the Archaeology of Europe and of the World.

The same remarks, which I have just ventured to make, as to the proper mode of investigating the classes of our larger archaeological subjects, hold equally true also of those other classes of antiquities of a lighter and more portable type, which we have collected in our museums; such, for instance, as the ancient domestic tools, instruments, personal ornaments, weapons, etc., of stone, flint, bone, bronze, iron, silver, and gold, which our ancestors used; the clay and bronze vessels which they employed in cooking and carrying their food; the handmills with which they ground their corn; the whorls and distaffs with which they span, and the stuff and garments spun by them, etc. etc. It is only by collecting, combining, and comparing all the individual instances of each antiquarian object of this kind—all ascertainable specimens, for example, of our Scottish stone celts and knives; all ascertainable specimens of our clay vessels; of our leaf-shaped swords; of our metallic armlets; of our grain rubbers and stone-querns, etc. etc.—and by tracing the history of similar objects in other allied countries, that we will read aright the tales which these relics—when once properly interrogated—are capable of telling us of the doings, the habits, and the thoughts of our distant predecessors.

It is on this same broad and great ground—of the indispensable necessity of a large and perfect collection of individual specimens of all kinds of antiquities for safe, sure, and successful deduction—that we plead for the accumulation of such objects in our own or in other public antiquarian collections. And in thus pleading with the Scottish public for the augmentation and enrichment of our Museum, by donations of all kinds, however slight and trivial they may seem to the donors, we plead for what is not any longer the property of this Society, but what is now the property of the nation. The Museum has been gifted over by the Society of Antiquaries to the Government—it now belongs, not to us, but to Scotland—and we unhesitatingly call upon every true-hearted Scotsman to contribute, whenever it is in his power, to the extension of this Museum, as the best record and collection of the ancient archaeological and historical memorials of our native land. We call for such a central general ingathering and repository of Scottish antiquities for another reason. Single specimens and examples of archaeological relics are, in the hands of a private individual, generally nought but mere matters of idle curiosity and wild conjecture; while all of them become of use, and sometimes of great moment, when placed in a public collection beside their fellows. Like stray single words or letters that have dropt from out the Book of Time, they themselves, individually, reveal nothing, but when placed alongside of other words and letters from the same book, they gradually form—under the fingers of the archaeologist—into lines, and sentences, and paragraphs, which reveal secret and stirring legends of the workings of the human mind, and human hand, in ages of which, perchance, we have no other existing memorials.

1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse