Page images

fortifications, and their modes of warfare; and assigns to the use of their worship, assumed to be Druidical, the circles of detached stones which abound in various places on the Border. Funeral monuments, also, of these Celtic tribes, are numerous, and consist of the cairns, or heaps of stones, so frequently 'piled on remarkable spots.'

'On opening them, there is usually found in the centre a small square inclosure of stones set on edge, with bones and arms such as we have already described. There is frequently found within this stone-chest, or cist-vaen, as it is called by the Welch, an urn filled with ashes, and small beads made of coal. The manufacture of these urns themselves is singular. The skill of the artist appears not to have been such, as to enable him to form his urn completely, before subjecting it to the operation of the fire. He therefore appears to have first shaped the rude vessel of the dimensions which he desired, and then baked it into potter's ware. On the vessel thus formed and hardened, he afterwards seems to have spread a very thin coat of unbaked clay, on which he executed his intended ornaments, and which was left to harden at leisure. The scrolls and mouldings thus hatched on the outside of these urns, are not always void of taste. In these tombs, and elsewhere, have been repeatedly found the Eudorchawg, the Torques, or chain, formed of twisted gold, worn by the Celtic chiefs of rank. It is not a chain forged into rings, but is formed of thin rods of flexible gold, twisted into hoops, which pass through each other, and form oblong links.'

The Author passes quickly over the tumultuous period of the Roman dominion over the border country; a dominion maintained at an enormous expense of military works, and so maintained, not because the invaders set any great value on the tract itself, but because they were resolved to make it such a broad and powerful frontier, as should put out of all hazard their northern English territories, on which they did set a value. The tract thus fortified, and denominated Valentia, was included between the wall of Hadrian, extending from the Firth of Solway to the mouth of the Tyne, and a similar wall constructed by Lollius Urbicus, during the reign of Antoninus, between the Firths of Forth and Clyde, of course greatly in advance of the first bulwark. These were ramparts of earth, with ditches, military roads, and forts or stations from point to point. The insufficiency of these works as a security against the fierce tribes of the north, determined Severus to undertake the grand wall, the remains of which are, at this day, the principal Roman curiosity of the Border, and bear the full character of that magnitude of design and power peculiar to the operations of that empire. It was carried along on the south side of the original rampart of Hadrian, which was left to form a kind of advanced line of defence. But neither these barriers, nor the multitude of strong camps, military roads, and well

protected lines of communication, by which the province of Valentia was made to present one vast frowning aspect of defiance, could avert the daring incursions of the Britons, which made it a scene of interminable warfare. It is not wonderful, therefore, that among the numerous Roman antiquities found, there are no relics of Roman luxury and superstition, (excepting sacrificial vessels,) neither theatres, baths, nor temples.' Of the stupendous wall, the subject of continual dilapidation for fourteen centuries, the least injured fragment is to be found, our Author says, at a place called Glenwhelt, in the neigh'bourhood of Gilsland Spaw.'



A rapid glance is thrown over the events following upon the final abdication of the Romans; the inroads and ravages of the Scots and Picts, the progress, operation, and establishments northward, of the Saxon invasion, the furious and destructive invasion made upon them, in their turn, by the Danes, who were, however, destined to fall prostrate at last under the victorious arms of Athelstane. After a long series of all manner of barbarous violence, confusion, and change, England and Scotland acquired at length, and nearly with parallel progress, and at the same period, the forms of comprehensive and consolidated kingdoms; these tracts between them, occupied and divided in the proportion of the power of the two great competitors, were reduced to become their respective frontiers, and by the middle of the eleventh century, might be considered as finally settled, nearly according to their present limits. The adjustment might have been widely different, had either of the two monarchies attained its full establishment a little earlier.

The power of England could scarce be said to be wielded by one sovereign with uncontrolled sway, until William the Conqueror had repressed the various insurrections of the Saxons, subjugated for ever the tumultuary Northumbrians, and acquired a consolidated force capable of menacing the kingdom of Scotland. Had this event happened a century sooner, it is probable all Britain would, at that early period, have been united under one monarch. Or had a Scottish monarch existed during the heptarchy, as powerful as Malcolm Canmore at a subsequent æra, it is possible that he might have pushed his limits much further to the south than the present Borders, and would probably have secured to Scotland at least the countries to the north of the Humber. As it happened, the situation and balanced strength of both countries dictated the present limits.'

The Saxons on this northern territory appear to have paid very small attention to military architecture. After their conversion to Christianity, they were very zealous in the erection of ecclesiastical edifices; but even of these Mr. Scott questions whether there are now any genuine remains, a few relics, per

fectly in their style, having possibly been the work of later architects, who sometimes practised it after the introduction of what has been denominated with more than doubtful propriety, the Gothic style.

The feudal system established without ceremony by the Conqueror in England, had made its way more gradually in Scotland, with the great influx of Norman families into that kingdom, and by the strong recommendations which it carried in its nature, to the taste of the monarch, and even to that of the ecclesiastics, to whom it assured a firmer tenure, without any addition of burdens. Measures were taken to give it a more formal and complete ascendency during the temporary usurpa tion of Edward I. But it could never effect the extinction of the more patriarchal Celtic social order of septs, or clanship, of which an interesting description is given at considerable length, discriminating the good features and the bad. The good was infinitely more than countervailed, in this social constitution, by the perpetual inexpugnable possession of the fiend of war. It was held the absolute duty of the rival clans, to fight and slaughter one another, in revenge of every trivial wrong or insult, and in revenge, alternately, of the successive and accumulating revenges. The honour and force of each clan were pledged to maintain even a palpable and confessed wrong committed by any of its members on the neighbouring tribe. The state of highest pride and self-complacency in these clans, appears to have been that which they named deadly feud, a state of ferocious hostility into which any two of them might be plunged at any moment, and in which they fought as if each had deemed itself to be ridding the world of a legion of fiends.

For a long period preceding the invasion of Edward 1., the Borders appear to have been wonderfully quiet, as relatively to the two rival kingdoms, of which the royal families were kept in contented mood by frequent alliances, by offices, sometimes, of personal friendship between the monarchs, and by the courtesies which an obvious policy dictated to the Scottish kings as holding of the English Crown extensive domains in England. During this period, fruitful of monastic institutions, great benefit is judged to have been conferred on the people of the Scottish Border, by the establishment of the abbeys of Kelso, Melrose, Jedburgh, and Dryburgh, by means of which a large portion of the country most exposed to hostile inroad, was secured in possession and cultivation, by being placed under the sacred protection of the church.'

In this point of view,' says our Author, the foundations completely answered the purpose designed; for it is well argued by Lord Hales, that, while we are inclined to say with the vulgar that the

clergy always chose the best of the land, we forget how much their possessions owed their present appearance to the art and industry of the clergy, and the protection which the ecclesiastical character gave to their tenants and labourers, while the territories of the nobles were burnt and laid waste by the invaders.'

This is a very fair and true suggestion, yet it does not invalidate the vulgar notion, which is pointedly repeated and confirmed in some of the descriptions annexed to the plates; whether it is written by the same hand as this introductory history, is not, that we have any where observed, distinctly signified.

All the good conferred on the country by this beneficial taboo of the Church, and by the long period of substantial tranquillity, was to sink under a very ordinary fate of early national improve


The savage and bloody spirit of hostility,' says our Historian, which arose from Edward the First's usurpation of the crown of Scotland, destroyed in a few years the improvements of ages, and carried the natives of these countries backward in every art but in those which concerned the destruction of the English and each other. The wars which raged through every part of Scotland in the thirteenth century, were urged with peculiar fury on the Borders. Castles were surprised and taken; battles were won and lost; the country was laid waste on all sides, and by all parties. The patriotic Scotch, like the Spaniards of our time, had no escape from usurpation but by sacrificing the benefits of civilization, and leading the lives of armed outlaws. The struggle, indeed, terminated in the establishment of national independence; but the immediate effect of the violence which had distinguished it, was to occasion Scotland retrograding to a state of barbarism, and to convert the borders of both countries into wildernesses, only inhabited by soldiers and robbers.'' The mode of warfare adopted by the Scots themselves, however necessary and prudent, was destructive to property, and tended to retard civilization. They avoided giving pitched battles, and preferred a wasting and protracted war, which might tire out and exhaust the resources of their invaders. They destroyed all the grain and other resources of their own country which might have afforded relief to the Englishmen, and they viewed with great indifference the enemy complete the work of destruction. In the mean while, they secured their cattle among the mountains and forests, and either watched an opportunity to attack the invaders with advantage, or, leaving them to work their will in Scotland, burst into England themselves, and retaliated upon the enemy's country the horrors which were exercised in their own. This ferocious, but uncompromising mode of warfare, had been strongly recommended in the rhymes considered a legacy from Robert Bruce to his successors, and which indeed do, at this very day, comprise the most effectual, and almost the only defensive measures, which can be adopted by a poor and mountainous country when invaded by the overpowering armies of a wealthy neighbour.

"On foot should be all Scottish weir*
By hill and moss themselves to wear ;†
Let wood for walls be bow and speir,
That enemies do them no dreire.‡
In strait places gar || keep all store,
And burn the plain land them before ;
Then shall they pass away in haste,
When that they find naething but waste.
With wiles and wakening on the night,
And meikle noises made on height;
Than shall they turn with great affray
As they were chased with sword away;
This is the counsell and intent

Of good King Robert's testament."'

One expedient of this defensive system of the Scots, was to destroy the castles on their own border; little thinking what mischief they were thus doing to the future elegant works, in which the fine arts were to display and adorn the picturesque features of their country.

The good Lord James of Douglas surprised his own castle of Douglas three times, it having been as frequently garrisoned by the English; and upon each occasion he laid waste and demolished it. The military system of Wallace was on the same principle. And in fine, with very few exceptions, the strong and extensive fortresses, which had arisen on the Scottish Borders in better times, were levelled with the ground during the wars of the thirteenth century. The ruins of the castles of Roxburgh and Jedburgh, and of several others which were thus destroyed, bear a wonderful disproportion in extent to any which were erected in subsequent times.'

As, however, the country was not abandoned to the entire and permanent state of a desert, but occupied again at each recession of the enemy, the barons and gentlemen had for their residence an inferior kind of fortresses, often heard of in border history under the denomination of strengths, constructed upon a "limited and mean scale, usually in some situation of natural 'strength. Having very thick walls, strongly cemented, they


could easily repel the attack of any desultory incursion; but 'they were neither victualled nor capable of receiving garrisons 'sufficient to defend them, except against a sudden assault. The 'village which almost always adjoined, contained the abodes of 'the retainers, who, upon the summons of the chieftain, took arms 'either for the defence of the fortress, or for giving battle in the 'field.'

The smaller gentlemen, whether heads of branches of clans, or

Dreire, harm or injury.

* Weir, war. Wear, to defend.

Gar, cause.'

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »