Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

site of Broadway ; may have given Manhattan Island its Indian name. Just so the Welshman or Highlander is now an alien in our Border country, where his ancestors built the hill-forts, and lie buried in barrows or cairns, and where they have left Celtic names to many rivers and mountains, to a few towns, hamilets, and parishes.' (Pp. 10, 11.)

In resuming consideration of Mr. Craig-Brown's volumes, it is not necessary to follow him through his sketch of the Roman occupation; but it may be pointed out that Selkirkshire did not form part of the province of Mæatia (p. 32), since the country of the Maatæ lay to the north of the wall between the Forth and Clyde. Neither was it the forest of Selkirk which Severus, in A.D. 208, cut down and laid roads through, but the forests of Perthshire and Kincardineshire, when he subdued the revolt of the Mæatæ. We observe, at p. 63, an argument based on the same mistake. Again, the Roman station of Trimontium was not at Newstead in Roxburghshire ; nor has the name anything to do with the “triple Eildons. This is one of the spurious Richard of Cirencester's fables, and has been frequently repeated. The Trimontium of the Romans was in the district of the Selgovæ, on the Solway Frith, now Dumfriesshire, and has been identified since the time of Chalmers with the broad tabular hill of Birrenswark in that county, on which the remains of a great Roman camp are still to be seen. Dr. Skene has pointed out that the syllable tri represents the Welsh tre or tref, a home or town; and that Trimontium is simply the Latinised form of Trefmynydd, the Town on the Mountain. The Romans had evidently taken possession at this place of a native fort.

Into the prehistoric antiquities of Selkirkshire we need not enter. It possesses a considerable number of British forts, some of them of large dimensions. Up the valley of the Yarrow, and by the Gala and the Tweed, funeral cairns of the pre-Christian type have been found, with their shortened cists, occasionally containing clay urns probably of the Brouze Age. But its chief antiquity is one of a later age, namely, the Catrail, a fosse or trench, with a rampart of earth on either side, which runs from above Galashiels, irregularly southwards to Peel Fell, in the Cheviots, overlooking the Borders of England, a distance of nearly fifty miles. Readers of Scott's early letters to George Ellis will remember his frequent references to the ancient rampart'venerable relic of Reged wide and fair Strathclyde. It is known also as the Picts-work-ditch, and is once named in a deed of the fourteenth century as the fosse of the Gal

'wegians.' Many portions of it still exist, and its route can be traced with considerable accuracy almost throughout its entire length. Mr. Craig-Brown has shown its route upon the map of the county prefixed to his first volume; and in the text has given a most careful and minute description of that route, and of the surface of country over which it passes, drawn partly from his own observation, and partly from an excellent paper on the subject contributed in 1880 by Mr. James Smail, F.S.A. Scot., to the Proceedings of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club. Mr. Craig-Brown rightly observes that this fosse or trench presents a problem in archæology that has continued to exercise the wit and • ingenuity of investigators since its first description by • Gordon in 1726;' and he has embodied in his pages an interesting record of the various opinions that have been expressed regarding it. The chief problem of the Catrail turns upon the questions as to who were its original constructors, and for what purpose it was constructed. Gordon, in his ' Itinerary,' suggests that it may have been a boundary formed in the time of Caracalla between the territory of the Picts and the Roman provinces. Maitland, on the other hand, took it for a Roman road. Whitaker was of opinion that it belonged to the fifth century, and was a line of division between the Britons of Cumbria on the west and the Saxons on the east; in which opinion Chalmers and Sir Walter Scott may be said to have concurred. Professor Veitch, in his 'Border History,' describes the rampart as fixing the boundary to the west of the Angle kingdom of

Northumberland;' and he further thinks the traditional name of Picts-work-ditch“ points to the Picts as the framers of the rampart, though this,' he adds, is by no means decisive.' Mr. Craig-Brown is of opinion that it was neither a defence nor a boundary-was not a primary work at all ; but simply a convenient line of communication, or strategic road, between the greater forts.

We could have wished Mr. Craig-Brown had stopped here; but he waxes impatient with Professor Veitch's reference to the Picts : 'A word upon the Pictish theory. It is untenable. * There is no evidence whatever that the tribe known to 'ancient historians as Picts ever reached the English border.' (Vol. i. p. 46. Yet when we turn back over Mr. CraigBrown's own pages to p. 32, we find him there stating, what is quite true, that when troubles began to overtake the Roman Empire, the Roman provinces in Britain became a prey to Scots and Picts from the north and west, who,

[ocr errors]

- aided by Saxons from the east, even penetrated to the soutlı

of England.' He further states that even ‘Picts-work• ditch is a misnomer.' It is simply pickwork;' for he

' has found a ‘British camp’so described in a Scots Act of Parliament of the reign of Charles II.—that happy time when orthography was still one of the fine arts.* But his inability to appreciate Professor Veitch's position becomes better understood when we read, on p. 51, that after the • Cymri had been driven south and west, and before they became incorporated in the kingdom of Scotland, they were known as the men of Galloway; hence, no doubt, mention of the Catrail as the “fosse of the Galwegians,”' &c. This is far from being the case. Galloway was in ancient times the Patria Pictorum of the west; the men of Galloway' were not Cymri or Welshmen, but Picts, and they are so called in history down to the twelfth century. We do not, therefore, think that Professor Veitch's supposition that the Catrail may have been the work of the Picts, or his basing that supposition in part on the traditional name of the earthwork, can be treated as in any sense unhistorical; although his suggestion that the rampart was intended to serve as a boundary line does not seem to us more satisfactory than are the similar theories put forward by the older authorities named. Even Mr. Craig-Brown's own theory, that the fosse was simply the best strategic road between the larger forts, does not strongly commend itself; for if such a road was found of service, and worth making and maintaining, between forts in the part of the country under consideration, we should expect to find similar roads in other parts of the country, such as Peebles-shire and Midlothian, covered by the same class of forts. The question, therefore, of the

* The Catrail supplies Mr. Craig-Brown with some other etymologies. Knowe (English knoll), a word common all over the Lowlands, occurs frequently along the line of the rampart; hence he thinks it

seems to be another name for a minor fort.' Kill-knowe also occurs twice; and this, 'taken with the constant recurrence of "knowes” all • along the route, seems,' he says, ' rather to have a significance which ' at this day can only be guessed.' If we open the Ordnance-Survey map for Roxburghshire, we find the elevation in Hobkirk parish of that name is spelled Kiln-knowe, and that there is a place on it called Limekilnedge. On turning, further, to the New Statistical Account for Roxburghshire, p. 210, we read that limestone is found Lime• kilnedge, where it has long been burned for use.' So that the ancient and sanguinary significance of • Kill-knowe' disappears in the vapours of a modern pacific industry.

а

Catrail is still an open one; its secret as yet may be regarded as undiscovered.

We might enter upon the discussion of many other points referred to by Mr. Craig-Brown in this section of his work, but the interest arising out of them would be local rather than general, and hence they may be passed over in silence. To the history of Selkirkshire between the year 1000 and the Union of the Crowns in 1603, the author devotes six chapters. We should have preferred that he had given us, instead, one or two chapters embodying in a simple historical narrative the relations of the county to the general stream of national history, and had placed his many excerpts from printed charters and other sources in the form of ' Annals,' chronologically or otherwise arranged, at the end of the volume. The terms of numerous and miscellaneous charters, with the invariable list of parties or witnesses thereto, are no doubt of immense importance for the elucidation of local genealogy and even general history; but following each other without any connecting idea, they have rather a bewildering effect on the mind. It at least renders much of the context extremely tedious and unreadable. If we had got in these chapters, therefore, the results, with simply such details as supported or illustrated these results, the reader would have obtained a much clearer view of the condition of Selkirkshire during those centuries than by the method adopted. That Mr. Craig-Brown could have done so, is obvious from the following passage, which conveys much more of intelligence than if a score of charters had been condensed and placed in detail before the reader.

• The ancient charters reveal the interesting fact that north, south, and east of Ettrick Forest the land was mostly in the hands of barons, while the Forest itself was the King's personal property. By grants of David I. and Alexander II. about one-fourth of this passed to the great ecclesiastical houses, both these monarchs being sore sancts to “ the crown.” From the abbey cartularies it is possible to form a tolerably complete conception of the life led by the population of Selkirkshire under their clerical superiors, who probably exacted from their tenants and bondsmen much the same sort and amount of service as was rendered to the king and territorial barons. Agriculture was not then the science it afterwards became. The plough, for example, was an ungainly contrivance drawn by oxen, as many as twelve being yoked to it when the task was heavy. Barley, oats, and wheat were the crops mostly raised ; hay being got by removing sheep from hillpasture for a season. The relation in which the labourers stood to the abbeys was not always the same. Some were “kindly tenants paying rent for the most part in kind; others held lands for a yearly

[ocr errors]

money payment. . . Pasture, as distinct from arable land, seems in all cases to have been kept in direct occupation by the monks, who derived a large revenue from the sale of wool. No doubt many a fleece from upper Selkirkshire found its way by Melrose Abbey and Berwick to Flanders, where the monks had special privileges guaranteed by charters of the twelfth century.' (Vol. i. pp. 61–2.)

That is an admirably clear and interesting passage ; and if we take exception to one thing in it, our excuse must be its great importance. We refer to the author's implied definition of kindly tenants,' as those who paid rent for the most ' part in kind. False or fanciful etymologies are not always of great moment in history. To transmute a British camp into a seventeenth-century pickwork, or to mistake a modern limekiln for an ancient place of slaughter, may even help to enliven an otherwise dull page. But to misinterpret a phrase so full of historical significance as that of kindly

tenants,' is to deface one of the most beautiful features of Border life in the past. To be a kindly tenant' was the highest pride of a husbandman in the old times. It was the Border yeoman's coat-of-arms; the evidence of his pedigree and social respectability. He bore the designation proudly through life ; and after his death it was placed on the stone above his grave, as any Border kirkyard may still testify. To be called a 'kindly tenant,' implied that one was of the kith, kin, or sept of the landlord, or was the descendant of those who had held and farmed the same lands in succession, father and son, from generation to generation. It formed the feudal relation between the husbandman and the baron, just as the charter of the latter expressed his feudal relation to the crowned head of the kingdom. The term had nothing to do with payment either in money or kind. The cottars and smaller cultivators, for instance, paid their rents chiefly in kind; but this did not constitute them kindly tenants, nor are they ever so called. The * kindly tenants' forined, to borrow the language of Highland clanship, the gentlemen of the Border clans; and while the cottar or labourer, with spear and target, followed his lord to battle or foray on foot, the “kindly tenant'was able to don his morion and rusty breastplate, and clatter after his chief on his own shaggy-limbed horse. The tie expressed in the word was one, not of money or other payment, but of blood, and kinship, and personal devotion; a tie which may appear strange amid the customs of these later times, but which must have been invaluable in the old days when mutual support was indispensable.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »