Scottish Military History
Scottish Military History - History of the Wars of Scotland, Border Raids, Forays and Conflicts - Published in Edinburgh by A Fullarton & Co, 1850.
Invasion of the Danes
In the eighth century, during what is termed the Pictish period of Scottish history, the then singularly constituted governments of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, produced the celebrated Pirate Kings of the Northern Seas, called the Vikingr, perhaps unexampled in the annals of Europe. As the Goths, the Huns, and the Vandals, were the scourges of the human race by land, the Pirate Kings were long the scourges of the ocean, infesting almost every country, and plundering every vessel, which fell into their hands. “Till the eighth century, however, “observes a learned historian, “the Vikingr confined their odious piracies to the Baltic. They now pursued their destructive courses on every sea and on every pursued their destructive courses on every sea and on every shore in Europe. They first appeared distinctly on the east coast of England during A.D. 787. they were felt on the Caledonian shores some years afterwards. They made the Herbrides deplore their barbarities throughout the ninth century, while they burned the religious houses, which the pious hands of the Columbans (the disciples of St Columbia) had built. In A.D. 839, the Vikingr landed among the Picts. Uen the King hastened to defend the people. A bloody conflict ensued, and the gallant Uen fell in defending his country against those ferocious invaders; with him also fell his only brother Bran, and many of the Pictish chiefs.”
The old chroniclers as ravaging the country lying between the Picts and the Strathclyde Britons in A.D. 875 mention a Danish leader named Halfdene. The Vikingr had previously settled on the Irish shores, and thence found an easy passage into the Firth of Clyde. In A.D. 870, the Vikingr had besieged Aldcluyd, which they took and plundered after a blockade of four months. Aldcluyd signifies in the ancient British language the rocky height on the Clyde, and was applied to the celebrated conical rock on which the castle of Dumbarton is built. During the year in which the vale of the Clyde was ravaged by Half year in which Halfdene ravaged the vale of the Clyde, the Vikingr sailed from Northumberland and wasted Galloway. So severe did the inhabitants feel their inroads, that they resolved to emigrate to Wales, and in A.D. 870, a large boy of the departed, under a chief called Constantine, who was encountered and slain at Lochmaben. But his followers succeeded in repulsing the assailants, and forced their way into Wales. There they were assigned a district, which they defended with valour, when they assisted the Welsh to defeat the Saxons in the battle of Cymrid. The descendents of those Strathclyde Britons are a distinct people in North Wales at the present time. They inhabit Flintshire and the vale of Clyde. According to the author of CALEDONIA, they are “distinguished from their neighbours by a remarkable difference of person and speech. They are a people taller, more slender, with longer visages; their voices are smaller, and more shrill; they have many varieties of dialect, and generally their pronunciation is less open and broad than what is heard among the Welsh, who live to the westward of them.”
Kenneth, the son of Alpin, achieved the union and amalgamation of the Scots and Picts, and established both people and their territories under one government. This enabled the Scots to offer a powerful resistance to the Pirate chief’s f the Northern Seas. During Kenneth’s reign those Pirate chiefs landed in Scotland, and advanced into the country as far as Clunie, in the division of Perthshire called Stormont, and the ancient Episcopal city of Dunkeld. Ragnar Lodbrog was the name of the Danish leader, and the sole purpose of this invasion was as usual plunder and blood. Of his ravages on this occasion little is known, but he was soon afterwards killed in Northumberland.
The Danish rovers were now yearly increasing in power, and their settlements in Ireland were important and prosperous. They had considerable establishment sat Waterford, and they possessed commodious harbours on the east and north coast of the island, at Wexford, Strangford, in Belfast Loch, and in Loch Foyle; but Dublin, before they were driven from the city by the Irish, was the usual seat of their power and their plunder, as it also was of their dissensions. From these commodious stations on the north of Ireland the Danish pirates were enabled to attack the western coasts of Scotland. They found the river Clyde a commodious inlet into the country, and the Moray Frith, the river Tay, and the Frith of Forth, offered their attractive harbours on the east. The towns, such as they were in the tenth and eleventh centuries, the residencies of the King and the chiefs, and the religious houses, were generally the objects of their attack and plunder. In the reign of Constantine II., the son of Kenneth, in A.D. 866, the son of Kenneth, in A.D. 866, the Danes from Ireland, under a ferocious chief named Aulaf, who had arrived in that country with a numerous fleet and many adventurers in A.D. 753, ravaged the Scottish coasts, and returned to their Irish retreats loaded with plunder. The success of this expedition induced them to prepare for a second voyage, and in A.D. 870, the Pirates sailed from Dublin for the Clyde with augmented numbers. Their leaders, Andd, Aulaf, and Ivar, besieged Dumbarton, which they took at the end of four months by blockade rather than by assault. After plundering the country they returned to Dublin in 871, with great booty and many captives. In A.D. 872, Aulaf led another expedition into Scotland, where he met his fate from the hand f Constantine. Such was now the frequency f the Danish invasions that the country was never at rest. In A.D. 875, Ostin, the son of Aulaf, defeated the Scots; but he did not long enjoy his victory as he was soon afterwards treacherously slain by his own countrymen. The Danish Pirates again invaded Scotland in A.D. 876, and remained in the country aid bloody conflicts several months. In A.D. 881 there was another invasion of the odious foe, and Constantine advanced against the pirates in person. He encountered them on the shores of the Frith of Forth, and this ancient Scottish King fell gallantly fighting for his people. During this disastrous inroad of the Pirates upon the coast of Fife, several of the Scottish ecclesiastics, who had taken refuge on the Island of May, were slain by the Pagan adventurers, for the Danish rovers were not then converted to Christianity. The several conflicts, which the inhabitant’s have the southeast of Fife had to maintain, are still remembered by tradition. Near the mansion of Lundin, in the parish of Largo, are three remarkable stones in the middle of the plain standing upright in the ground, each measuring eighteen feet in height, and supposed to be as much below the surface. There are also fragment of a fourth, which seems to have been of equal magnitude with the other three. There are the well-known Standing Stones of Lundin. There is no inscription and no vestige of any ciphering is to be found upon them. Though they might have been erected for different purposes, and in more ancient times, the general tradition is that they mark the graves of some Danish chiefs who fell in battle during this invasion in the reign of Constantine II. Skeletons in stone coffins have been found upon the shore, from the entry of the river Leven into the Frith of forth to the eastern extremity of Largo Bay at Kincraig Point, and there are also supposed to be the remains of the slain. The scene of the death of Constantine is still pointed out near Crail, at the very south-eastern extremity of the county from which it would appear that a kind f running fight had commenced in the parish of Largo, and that the Danish rovers had been driven back to their galleys near Fifeness. In a cave near the site of the old mansion of Bacomie, the King, who was taken prisoner in a skirmish, as the rovers retreated, is said to have been sacrificed to the manes of the Danish leaders. Nor must the Danes dyke, as it is still called, near the cave, be forgotten. It sit he remains of a bulwark of dry stones raised in one night by the Danes after their defeat at the mouth of the Leven, when they retired to the extreme point of Fife, which they fortified in this manner to defend themselves against the Scots, until they could safely embark in their galleys, which were hovering in the Frith of Forth. The mound is quite overgrown with grass, but it can be distinctly traced a considerable distance. Such is the testimony of tradition the large space that it encloses, and some other circumstances, might justify some degree of scepticism on the subject.
In the reign of Donald IV the son of Constantine, the north men again invaded Scotland, and, landing in the Tay, they advanced up the river with the intention of invading either Forteviot or Dunkeld. The King met the Pirates in the neighbourhood of Scone, and a bloody battle ensued in which the Scots were victorious. But this defeat nothing disheartened the Danish rovers. In A.D. 904, they again appeared in Scotland on the western coast under Ivar O’Ivar, and penetrated into the country eastward, with a view f plundering Dunkeld, then a royal residence of the Scottish, as it had formerly been of the Pictish kings. They were encountered in their progress by Donald, and were defeated with the loss of their leader, but the King himself was in a while gallantly defending his harassed people.
The reign of Donald’s successor, Constantine III, is noted for a fierce invasion of the Danish pirates from Ireland. In A.D. 907, they made a general ravage, and advanced as far as Dunkeld, which they plundered before they could be opposed by Constantine. But the King, the chiefs, ad a gallant people, attacked them in an attempt against forteviot, and drove the from the country. This defeat secured peace several years, but in A.D. 918, according to the Annals of Ulster, another and most formidable invasion was made from Ireland by the Danes under Reginald their king, who steered his fleet into the Clyde. Constantine summoned his forces to repel the Pirates, and assisted, it is said, by some of the Northern Saxons, or inhabitants of Northumberland, he gave battle to the Danes at a place called Tinmore, the precise locality of which is uncertain. The rovers arrayed themselves in four divisions-the first conducted by Godfrey O’Ivar, the second and third by sundry earls and chiefs, the fourth by Reginald in person; and as the division was the reserve, he appears to have placed it in ambush. The divisions were unable to withstand the assault of the Scots, which was well directed by Constantine, and the amuscade was unsuccessful. The Pirates retreated during the night, and left the field in possession of the Scots, whose victory was the more important, as no leader or person of distinction on their side was slain, while two Danish chiefs, Otter and Gragava, are mentioned as having fallen in this battle. They commanded a party of whom the Scots made great havoc.
Reginald, the king or ruler of the Irish Danes, was induced to conduct the Vikingr, Sitric and Godfrey to the shores of Cowal, a peninsula or point of land stretching between the Frith of Clyde and Lochfine. In A.D. 921 he was slain, and was succeeded by his brother Godfrey, who is traditionally said to have been infamous for his cruelty even among the ferocious Vikingr.
In the reign of Kenneth III was fought the battle of Luncarty, as related in a previous narrative. Various other invasions were made on the east and west coast of Scotland, and these Pirates kept the country in a state of distraction. Malcolm II the son of Kenneth III, and the third king in succession after him, contrived to turn into distant channels the devastations of the Danes, who had now deluged England with blood; yet parties of them still continued to roam through the Northern Seas, and plunder every shore. They seized in the reign of Malcolm the burgh head of Moray, where they found a commodious harbour and a secure retreat. The ferocious Vikingr ravaged the Orkney’s Shetland, and the Hebrides,, but it was near the coasts of the Moray Frith that the Danes and Norwegians collected plunder from a wide extent of country. Sigurd, Earl of Orkney, one of the Vikingr, carried n his depredations along the shores of this Frith in the end of the tenth and beginning of the eleventh century. He married the daughter f Malcolm, but this was not restraint upon his piracies, and in the eyes of a Vikingr friends and foes were equally the objects of his plunder.
In A.D. 1009, the Danes made a fierce descent upon them province of moray, and in 1010 they were met in the midst of their destructive ravages by Malcolm at Forres. According to tradition, Sueno, son of Harold, king of Denmark, having defeated the English, and driven Ethelred their king out of the kingdom, resolved to revenge themselves on the Scots, who had aided their southern neighbours. Sueno sent a considerable force into Scotland under Olaus and Enecus, who landed in moray, and committed great ravages. Malcolm marched against them, and a battle ensued near the royal burgh of Forres, but the inexperienced Scotts, rushing with more courage than prudence, rendered the victory easy to the Danes, who followed it up by cruelty and bloodshed. The castles of Forces, Elgin, and Nairo, were soon reduced, and they resolved to colonise and possess the province they had conquered.
When their families arrived they fortified the promontory already mentioned, under the name of the burgh head of Moray. This promontory, designated by our old historians Burgus, is in the parish of Duffus, and juts out into the Moray Frith, rising about sixteen yards above low water. It is a perpendicular rock on the west and north; on the east the ascent is steep, and covered with grass; on the south the ascent is easy. The surface is upwards of one hundred yards in length, and in breadth about thirty. This area they surrounded with a strong rampart of oak lay deep in the ground, of which pieces have often been dug up, and some remains are still visible. By cutting a trench they brought the sea round the promontory and rendered the while secure by ramparts ad other fortifications. This fort was intended as a place of arms, for a safe retreat if defeated, and for an asylum to their wives and children; and it guarded the harbour at the base of the rocks where their galleys were moored. The Danes gave it the name of Burgh, which it still remains, and is called the Burgh Sea, or surrounded, by the sea, but it is no longer an artificial island.
Though defeated at Forres, the Scots were resolved never to allow the Danes a permanent footing in the country. Malcolm raised a powerful army in the southern countries, and in A.D. 1010, he marched to expel the invaders. The Danes, who had certain intelligence of the King’s motions, moved to meet him, wisely choosing to fight him at some distance from their projected settlement. In the neighbourhood of a house called Carron there are vestiges of a camp, which, it is thought, was occupied by the Pirates till their scouts informed them of their king’s approach. They then marched to Mortlach in Banffshire, while the Scots approached Achindun, little more than two miles from the enemy. The king is alleged to have used a stratagem by damming up the rivulet of Dullan, on both sides of which the Danes lay. About a mile above the church of Mortlach the rivulet runs in narrow channel between high rocks. Here its course was stopped and made to flow back into a plain, the Scots having attacked the enemy about daybreak, the dam was ordered to be broken up, and the torrent separated the two parts of the Danish army, so that the one could not assist the other, and those on the south, who were the smaller number, were all cut off.
But whatever credit may e assigned to this stratagem, the armies first saw each other near the parish church of Mortlach, and a little to the north of it they engaged. The numbers of the contending parties are not stated, but a fierce and bloody conflict ensued. Art the commencement of the attack, while pushing forward with too ardent impetuosity, Kenneth, Thane of the Isles, Dunbar, Thane of Lothian, and Graeme, Thane of Stratherne, were slain, and the loss of those leaders struck the Scots with consternation. The contest was now less than doubtful, for the Scots were thrown into confusion, and the issue was too likely to e decisive on the part of the Danes. Malcolm was carried reluctantly along with the retreating crowd, till he was opposite the church, than a chapel dedicated to a holy saint who was distinguished by the name of Molocus. The passage being here narrow, the returning Scots had leisure to recover, and were all collected together. At this crisis Malcolm was seized with a devotional impulse, when his eye rested on the walls of the chapel dedicated to the holy saint. Fervently praying and as was the custom of those times, rendering homage to the Virgin Mary and the saint, he made a particular vow that if successful he would erect a religious edifice, to evince his gratitude to Heaven. Inspired with confidence he addressed his soldiers in an animated speech, and leadings them to the attack; he struck down the Danish leader, Enecus with his own hand, and killed him. The Scots renewed the charge with vigour, and the northmen, after defending themselves with their usual obstinacy of valour, were obliged to yield the bloody contest to the bravery of their assailants. This second and decisive conflict after rallying happened a few hundred yards to the southwest of the Castle of Balveny, and it is conjectured that the ancient part of that building was the in existence, as a fort is mentioned near the field of battle. Malcolm, in gratitude for his victory, founded the bishopric of Mortlach, which was confirmed by Pope Benedict, who filled the Pontifical chair from A.D. 1012 to A.D. 1024. An ecclesiastic named Bein was consecrated the first Bishop, who died about thirty years afterwards, and his effigy, cut n stone, was paced on the walls of the church of Mortlach. This Episcopal seat, it is well known, was subsequently removed to Aberdeen in A.D. 1139.
Various traditional and other memorials are preserved and pointed out. There still remain the vestiges of an encampment, very distinct, on the summit of the little Conval hill, and known in the neighbourhood as the Danish Camp. Numbers of tumuli or Cairns exist, supposed to have covered the bodies of the slain. A huge round stone now rolled a little distance fro its position over the sepulchre formerly, it is said, distinguished the grave of Enecus. It has received the eccentric soubriquet of the Aquavitoe Stone. “To account for this, “ quaintly observes the author of the Statistical Account of Mortlach, “and to prevent antiquarians from puzzling their brains with dark and learned hypothesis in time to come, it may not be improper to tell, that the men whose brawny removed this venerable tenant, finding it rather a hard piece of work, got as a solace for their toil a pint o whisky, out of which immediately around the stone they took a hearty dram.”
A square piece of ground is pointed out where a large pit was dug, and multitudes of the dead were thrown into it. This is near the northwest corner of the fir park of tomnamuid, and about one hundred and twenty yards from the stone now mentioned. There is a standing stone on the parish minister’s glebe, containing some unintelligible sculpture. Human bones, broken sabres, and pieces of military armour, have been at different times discovered; and in ploughing the glebe about the middle of the eighteenth century a chain of gold was discovered, which from its antique formation is supposed to have bee worn by one of the chiefs.
The celebrated monument called Forres Pillar is supposed to commemorate this battle. It is adorned with rude sculptures, now unintelligible, representing warlike trophies and marches. A writer indeed asks-“Why should there be erected at Forres a monument of a battle fought more than twelve miles distant from it?” But the answer is obvious. The place might have been selected at the most central and convenient site to commemorate the final dislodgement of the Danes from a district in ancient times remarkable, as it still is, for its fertility, and of which they contrived to maintain possession or render tributary. Yet the traditional language of the district connects this fine obelisk with a Danish leader called Sueno, ad it is consequently designated King Sueno’s Stone.
The hostile invasions of the Danes were not confined to the shores of the Moray Frith. The coasts of Forfarshire and the district of Buchan experienced their ravages. They were encountered and repulsed at Aberlemno in Forfarshire, and two sculptured obelisks or pillars, one in the churchyard and the other of the road from Brechin to Forfar, are memorials of the conflict. These pillars are about nine feet in height, and proportionally sunk in the ground. One writer mentions that in his time there were five obelisks, which were popularly known as the Danish Stones of Aberlommy, near the two existing pillars a few tumuli have been opened, wherein were found rudely formed stone coffins, containing black earth and mouldering bones.
The repeated and disastrous defeats of the northmen at length induced Sueno to send a fresh body of warriors into Scotland under the command of Camus. Landing on the cast of forfarshire near the village of Panbridge, the Danes marched into the interior, but before they had advanced many miles they were attacked and entirely defeated by the Scots. Camus, in attempting to retreat northward, was pursued and slain on the spot where a monumental stone, called Camus Stone, indicates the scene of his overthrow. The conflict in which he fell was maintained hand-to-hand, and the deadly blow of a battle-axe cleaved the skull of Camus. Near Camus Cross a sepulchre was laid open, enclosed with four stones, and s gigantic skeleton was dug up about A.D. 1910, supposed to have been that of Camus, and part of the skull was cut away. About two miles from Panbridge, in the parish of Monikie, there is a farm steadying called Camuston, another near it is known as Camuston Cross, and a third place is designated Camustons Den. Al these localities are connected by tradition with the Danish rovers. In this quarter, near the eighth milestone from Dundee, there is a ridge of small eminences called the Curhills, where several stone coffins have been found. In the vicinity have been discovered urns enclosed with broad flagstones, below which were ashes, supposed to have been human bodies reduced to that state by fire.
But the preserving Pirates were not yet discouraged by their losses and defeats. They again landed on the Buchan coast of Aberdeenshire, in the parish of Cruden, about a mile west from Slaines Castle, the family sent of the Earl of Errol. Canute, son of sueno, afterwards the celebrated king of England, commanded the Danes. Denmark, Norway, and part of Sweden. The contending armies met upon a plain in the bottom of the Bay of Ardendraught near which the Danes had then a castle, some remains of which are still visible. A considerable portion of the Earl of Errol’s estate is called the Barony of Ardendraught, a name said to signify the Old Danish Camp. Even the name of the parish, Cruden of Crudane, originated from this battle. The Pirates were overthrown, and on the morning after the battle, while both parties lay at a small distance from each other, the appearances of the field turned their thoughts from war to peace. Conditions were proposed and accepted, which were-that the Danes and Norwegians should withdraw themselves from Scotland-that during the lives of the kings, Malcolm ad Sueno, all hostilities were to cease-that the field of battle should be consecrated, and made a burying place for the dead-and that the Danes, as well as the Scots, who had fallen in the conflict, should be honourably interred in it. Malcolm and Canute swore to the observance f the articles, and faithfully performed their respective obligations. Canute and his followers left Scotland, and Malcolm not only caused the dead bodies of the Danes to be interred with decency, but also built a chapel on the spot, which he dedicated to Olaus the tutelary saint of Denmark and Norway. The village near which this capel was erected was called Croju-Dane, or Cruden, which signifies Kill the Dane, and there is a tradition that during the confusion f the battle the Danish military chest was concealed near the place, but it has never yet been found. No vestige of the chapel of St Olaus or of the village now remains, but the locality is well known, and bones have been repeatedly dup up in several places. I the churchyard of Cruden which is about a mile westward from the scene of battle, there is a black marble gravestone, said to have been sent over by the Danish king to mark the sepulchre of some of his officers slain in the battle.
Scotland was now freed from the invasions of the northern Pirates, who do not appear to have ravaged the coasts until the time of there expedition under Haco, when they were finally defeated at the battle of Largs. Their proceedings in the Orkney and Shetland Islands, the Hebrides, and other islands “far amid the melancholy main,” are elsewhere narrated.
Many memorials of those celebrated Northern Pirates, and their hostile invasions, still remain throughout Scotland. So of these are already noticed. In the parish of Innerwick, in the country of Haddington, there is a small Danish encampment on Blackcastle Hill, and near it are several Cairns of burial places. The churchyard of Ruthwell in Dumfriesshire contains a true Danish monument, which seems to be the only Runic remains in north Britain. It was when entire in the form of an obelisk, and about eighteen feet in length, the side of each square being ornamented with figures taken from sacred history. This curious pillar, which may have been erected by some of the followers of Halfdene the Dane, was ordered to be dilapidated as a monument of idolatry by the General Assembly! A more degrading fate attended a curiously carved Danish stone in the parish of Neilston in Renfrewshire. It once stood on the lands of Hawkhead, but it was made a humble bridge over a small rivulet between that property and Arthurlie. There is also an obelisk in the Parish of Kirkden in forfarshire, on which are represented some imperfect figures of horses, supposed to have been erected upon the defeat of the Danes by Malcolm II about the same time with the Cross at Camuston.
In the Island of Lismore there is an old castle, with a fusee and drawbridge, said to have been built by the Northern Pirates. There are six Danish signal places in the parish of Kilmuir in the Island of Skye, and though the Gaelic languages is principally spoken by the inhabitants, most of the names of places in that Island are derived from the Danish or Norwegian. There are two ruins, called castles, of Danish forts in the parish of Loudn in Ayrshire, one of which is surrounded by a deep ditch, which was crossed by a drawbridge. Bracadale, in Inverness-shire, contains several Danish forts, the outer wall of one of which is still entire, constructed of large dry stones without mortar or any kind of cement, but very regularly and artificially laid together. Abour a mile from forgan in Perthshire, there is a place called Castlelaw, on the summit of a conical hill, which was defended on all sides by a stonewall, the vestiges of which still remain. The general opinion is that this was a Danish fortification. This place commands a most extensive prospect to the mouth f the Tay on the east, all Strathearn to the Grampians on the west, a great part of the counties of Perth and Forfar on the north and northeast, and the top of the Lomond Hills on the south.
There are several Danish forts, or places of observation, in the united parishes of Larbert and Dunipace in Stirlingshire particularly one at Lambert, a second at Braes, and a third at Upper Torwood. On the Western shores of Argyle, and in the northeastern countries of Scotland, these memorials are numerous. The Danes furnish the only memorials of antiquity in the parish of Barrie in forfarshire, and these are connected with their misfortunes. There are numerous tumuli, the traces of a camp in the neighbourhood, and Carnoustie, or the Cairn of Heroes is the name of a village and estate, I the vicinity of which is a rivulet, which was coloured with blood for three days. These tumuli are the graves of the marauders who fell in the desperate engagement near Panbridge.
In the parish of Falkland in fife, between the towns of Falkland and Auchtermuchty, on the south side of the Eden, there are the remains of a Danish camp. A neighbouring village is still called Dunshelt, supposed to be a corruption of Danes Halt. This camp is of a circular form. On Kaimes Hill and South Platt Hill, in the parish of Ratho, were two Danish encampments, and the latter position was probably selected from the extensive prospect it commands, as there is a full view of the Forth from Stirling t the Island f May, the coasts of fife. Midlothian and Haddington, and the hills in the counties of Perth, Stirling, and Dumbarton, as far as the “lofty Ben Lomond.” A hieroglyphically column, which stands conspicuous on the moor of Rhynie in Aberdeenshire, is another memorial of a conflict with the odious Danes. At Sandwick, in the parish of Nigg, on the east shore of Ross, there is an obelisk with sculptures of beasts and a cross, and here, according to tradition, three sons of a Danish king were interred. A similar stone in the churchyard is ascribed to the Danes. An obelisk about ten feet high, with carved figures, in the parish of Eddeston in Ross-shire, is said to mark the place of the interment of a Danish prince. One of a similar description is near the parish church of Criech in the county f Sutherland, and at the parish church of Farr, in the same county, is a large sculptured stone, which intimates the grave of a Danish chief who rested quietly here after all his savage deeds. At Wick, in Caithness, there is a large stone with hieroglyphic characters, which s said mark the grave of a Danish princess, the wife of one of the piratical Vikingr.
In the Parish of Craignish, in the county of Argyll, they’re re the remains of many Danish fortified eminences. These must have been reared without lime or mortar of any kind, and from their construction striking proofs are given of the strength and perseverance, though none of the taste and genius, of the Pirate invaders. Many grey stones also rear their heads in the heath, and mark the graves of the warriors of ancient times. A cluster of these rude obelisks is to be seen near the mansion of Craignish, which the proprietor has allowed to stand unmolested. Farther up the valley, towards the mountains, there was erected of a ore than ordinary size, to distinguish the grave of a warrior who fell in the pursuit, and remains of cairns, which covered the graves where the ashes of the dead were deposited, are to be seen. Tradition represents this as the locality of a bloody engagement between the Danes and the natives, in which Olaus, a son of the King of Denmark, was slain. Near the field of battle there is a little mount, which is called Duncan Aula, or the Little Hill of Olaus. During the eighteenth century, while some workmen were employed in incising this spot, after removing some loose stones they discovered a grave composed of four flags. A minute inspection disclosed to them an ancient urn. Expecting to find a treasure they broke the urn, and found nothing but the ashes of Olaus!
In the parish of Culross there are still the remains of two Danish camps of the usual oval form, one near a place called Burrowan, which is said to be the retreat of the Danes after their defeat near Inverkeithing; the other is in Culross muir, and was occupied by the rovers before the battle near that little royal burgh. The vicinity of the town of Cromarty contains many memorials of the invaders, who are reputed to have sustained a severe defeat in a large muir called Mullbuy. In various parishes throughout the Western Highlands and the Hebrides, Danish forts and Cairns constantly occur, the purposes of which, from their peculiar situations, are obvious. It would be tedious to enumerate all these monuments of antiquity, which show the enterprising spirit of the piratical Northmen, and the determined courage of the ancient Scottish inhabitants, who constantly and successfully repelled the invaders from ther shores. While England was compelled to submit for a time to the government of a Danish prince. Scotland preserved its independence, and the “stormy north” was the scene of many a sanguinary conflict. These battles are inseparably connected with the traditions of the country, and the localities are still poited out with the utmost accuracy. It may easily be inferred that the terror, which the invasions of the roving Vikingr excited throughout the country, was intense, and that it required the most desperate exertions of the ancient Scots to repel an enemy whose career was marked by desolation and blood.
Capture of Inchkeith
Monsieur D’Esse, an experienced French commander, arrived at Leith in 1549 with an army of six thousand men, all veteran soldiers, to assist the Scots in their contest with England during the regency of Mary of Lorraine, the mother of Queen Mary. The arrival of this force is thus noticed by a poet of those times.
At Leith they landit in the haven,
With powder, bullet, guns, and other geir,
Drest all their platforms in todays seven,
Nor lacking naething that belonged to weir.
Perceiving the importance of securing a place possessed of many advantages, the French commander began to fortify the town by throwing round it strong and regular works. These consisted chiefly of a rampart of earth, and it appears to have been a most formidable defence, constructed after the best principles of fortification as adapted to the warfare of the times. It is proper, however, to state that this is not the opinion of the valiant Captain Colepepper in the Fortunes of Nigel . “You speak of the siege of Leith,” says the redoubtable Captain, “and I have seen the place; a pretty kind of a hamlet it is, with a plain wall, or rampart, and a pigeon house or two of a tower at every angle. Uds, daggers, and scabbards! If a leaguer of our days had been twenty-four hours, not to say so many months, before it, without carrying the place, and al its cocklofts, one after another, by pure storm, they would have deserved no better grace than the Provost Marshal gives when his noose is reeved.”
But whatever may have been the state and appearance of the fortifications at Leith; we shall delay noticing these matters for the present, and direct our attention to Inchkeith. This little island, which is most conspicuous in the Frith of Forth, half way between Leith and Kinghorn, was taken possession of by the English at this period, and fortified. The garrison were in a situation, which afforded them many advantages, and they committed considerable depredations on the shores of Mid-Lothian and Fife, securing them from pursuit by returning to the island upon any alarm, where they were out of all danger from sudden reprisals. D’Esse resolved to dislodge the enemy from this stronghold, and ordered Monsieur de Biron, one of his officers, to sail out and reconnoitre the island. There is only one easy landing being very steep on almost all sides, and a handful of men could easily hold out against a superior force brought against it in those times.
Monsieur de Biron embarked in a galley belonging to a French captain named Villegaignon-the same galley, it is said, which carried the infant Queen Mary to France from Dumbarton Castle, and sailing round the island he carefully noted every point favourable for an attack. The English garrison were either ignorant of his intentions, or set him at defiance, for although he was nearly the whole time within reach of their guns he was not only unmolested, but was able to give a tolerably correct account of their umbers and condition, and of the state of the works upon the island.
Mary of Lorraine had resorted often to Leith since the arrival of her countrymen, and she took such an interest in the projected superintended the embarkation of the soldiers selected for the attack. The French, accompanied by some Scottish troops, sailed from Leith Harbour in small boats, and at first endeavoured to conceal their intentions from those on the island. They accordingly pretended to be merely sailing up and down the Frith, but their frequent approach to the island, where they were evidently selecting a place to land excited the suspicious of the garrison. Finding themselves discovered, the assailants made directly for the rock, and found the English prepared to dispute their attempt to land. The assailants nevertheless sprung out of their boats, and after a severe contest they not only maintained their ground, the English to the higher parts of the island, where their commander, named Cotton, and George Appleby, one of his officers, were killed. Besides those gentlemen, several persons of some note fell on the side of the English.
The fortalice of castle, which has long disappeared, was secured by the assailants, who pushed the Engish to an extremity of the island, where they surrendered without farther resistance. The gallantry the little band who attempted its defiance was most conspicuous. They disputed every yard of the rock with their antagonists, and only yielded when there was no longer any chance of success. In this assault Monsieur de Biron was wounded in the head by a harquebus, and his helmet was so beaten about his ears it was necessary to carry him into a boat to dress his wounds. The pike of the English commander killed one Desbois, his standard bearer, and Gasper Strozzi, the commander of a party of Italians, was also slain. The fortalice of Inchkeith was kept in repair for some time, but it was finally ordered to be dismantled by the Scottish Parliament, to prevent it being of any farther use to be English.
There is a French account of this enterprise written in 1556, which is not a little amusing, as it is expressed in the bombastic language peculiar to that extraordinary nation, and is at the same time extremely scarce. The following is their narrative of the capture of Inchkeith abridged and condensed. To those familiar with the present state of the island, an account of it by an eye witness, as it appeared in the reign of Queen Mary, during the Regency of her mother, must be entertaining and curious.
“The Island of Inchkeith, upon its being recovered from the English was named by the Queen Dowager the Island of God, but formerly the French called it the Island for Horses, and the reason was because hitherto it had been thought useless to men, and remained uninhabited. Yet Inchkeith is not destitute of the blessings of nature; it is pretty large, possesses excellent water, has spots of ground fit to be converted into pasturage or gardens, and places proper for saltpans and harbours. Its inhabitants at a small charge might make lime; build houses, and fortifications of all sorts. The island is so advantageously situated in the midst of the Frith of Forth, that it commands the sips that sail to or from the better part of the kingdom. Nature itself has fortified it, for the access is so difficult that it cannot be come at except by three fit places, and in these the sea, which is intermixed with the river, is about a foot and a half in depth. Hence, on account of the rocks, obvious at all times to the eye, no sort of shipping can come near the island, and one must set foot upon these huge stones, jump from one to another, and so gain the island, unless he chose to wade, n which case he would be in danger of falling unawares into one of those deep and narrow pools which are within a short distance of the island between the rocks. On all sides nothing is seen but a continued precipice, only towards the west nature has carved out steps, which ascend to the height of about twenty French fathoms, but there is little possibility of getting up by these means. Thus the island is very strong and advantageously situated, and besides the above impediments, the paths leading to the banks are so very narrow, widening, and steep, that scarcely three men can walk abreast, while the whole is commanded by the summit, on which the English had built a square fort, and had made it tenable within less than fifteen days.
“Not long before the English fleet came up the Frith, the Queen was informed that Monsieur de Termes had arrived at Dumbarton with two hundred horse, one hundred men-at-arms, and one thousand foot, and that he was appointed to the command of his Majesty’s (the King of France) army in Scotland in the room of Monsieur D’Esse. These accounts added to the desire the latter felt to obtain possession of the island. The Queen Dowager, on her part, sensible how prejudicial the presence of the English was to the kingdom, used every exertion to keep the French officers close to their resolution to attempt te recovery of the island. But this was, as the proverb express it, to set the spurs to a courser for the whole of them were bent upon the thing, and in compliance with her Majesty’s suggestion, it was resolved to send a man of prudence to view the fortifications commenced by the enemy. Monsieur Chapelle de biron was singled out on account of his great experience for the purpose, who together with Messieurs De Dussac, De Ferrieres, De Gourdes, and Nicolas, went onboard a small frigate commanded by M. De Villegaignon, sailed round the island, and returned with an exact account of the outward appearance of the works, the numbers, and the state of the garrison.
“The reports made by these gentlemen to her Majesty considerably affected her, for she saw that a post of such importance could not be easily recovered, but she had the prudence to conceal her sentiments, and gravely and civilly intimated to us her anxiety on the subject, and the value she would hold our services in the enterprise. All those who had served under Monsieur D’ Esse, solicitous that the attempt should be made by them exclusively, were informed of the design, but no of the day fixed for putting it into execution. This was politic, for if the English had by any means got information, they would have summoned to their assistance twenty ships of war, waiting at Eyemouth for a fair wind to carry them to Calais.
“Messieurs D; Esse, De Termes, Biron, and Villegaignon, had taken the measures connected with their respective duties, and other officers had been active in prevailing upon the Scots to bring into the harbour of Leith all boats found lying in the neighbouring creeks and havens. The Queen pressed the immediate execution of the Vens. The Queen pressed the immediate execution of the project, and came to Leith on corpus Christi Day, that her presence might prevent any quarrelling abut the choice of the boats, and encourage the soldiers to their duty. As they saluted her before they entered the boats, she addressed them as follows. You are obliged, my good friends, to the favour of Heaven, who has endowed you with courage, and afforded you so many honourable occasions to evince it. If I doubted the ascendant you will gain over the enemy, I would forget that you are Frenchmen. As such, you have a natural right to vanquish the English, and have kept yourselves in possession of that glorious privilege since you came hither. Continue, then, brave soldiers and my very good friends to overcome. Remember that God is propitious t this kingdom, and that he has sent you from France to preserve Scotland.
“Te soldiers, animated by these expressions, and fond of serving her Majesty in any circumstances, unanimously took Heaven to witness that they went off with a determined resolution to conquer or perish. It is now new thing to see a few soldiers so nobly disposed, but it is not a little remarkable to see some hundreds thus influenced. The Queen, overjoyed at their enthusiasm, asked Monsieur D’ Esse, when stepping onboard his ship, how many soldiers he had with him in this expedition? ‘Madam,’ he replied, ‘I do not precisely know their numbers, but this I certainly know, that your Majesty may depend upon their courage.’ ‘The wise,’ replied the Queen, ‘are seldom disappointed in their expectations, and since you’ as well as those under your command, promise so fair, I cannot doubt that you will come off with victory. The event of al things, Madam,’ he rejoined, ‘is in the hand of God, yet thus much I declare, that if yon island is not regained this day, D’ Esse shall never again unsheathe a sword. These words I overheard, and some more, but not so distinct as to enable me to set them down.
“The ships or galleys, commanded by Villegaignon and De Seur, had in the meantime sailed to prevent the English from coming out of the fortress to dispute the landing, and now all the boats made to the island. We had to contend with a violent gale on the way, and during this the enemy having observed us, stationed their Italian harquebusiers and some English bowmen to deter us from landing. The rest of their forces they divided into two bodies, placing the one within the front they had begun to build, and the other without, at the distance of forty paces, so far as we could judge from our boats. The Italians were drawn up towards the east of the island, where a part of the land descends towards the sea, which they considered to e almost inaccessible, and for that reason they had not fortified it. When they were approaching the island Monsieur D’ Esse sailed from boat to boat, exhorting his men to courage and resolution. Comrades he exclaimed, only follow me, and you will know were long that it is not the place on which men fight, but the resolution with which they handle their arms, that wins the day.
“While Monsieur D’ Esse was speaking, and about a dozen of boats were sailing by his side, he approached within reach of the stones and arrows of the enemy, who did him all the mischief in their power. He ran his vessel against one f the rocks, which are discoverable only at low water, and thus his progress was for a time interrupted; but monsieur Biron gained the eastern point of the island, near which the Italians were stationed. He secured the advantage of a rock, which the ebbing tide had abandoned, and there with some gentlemen kept his position, until three or four boats, which followed him, landed their soldiers, who beat off the Italians to the summit of the island. Monsieur D’Esse and several officers also affected a landing, but they had to contend with the step declivities of the rock before they could reach a convenient place to attempt the summit, where the English and their Italian auxiliaries were now joined. While Monsieur Biron was advancing and gaining ground upon the enemy, he was wounded by the shot f a harquebus, and a part of his helmet was driven into his head. When his followers saw the blood copiously flowing, they urged him to leave the contest, but he exclaimed. Since it is impossible that I can be preserved to die on a more honourable occasion, I entreat you, gentlemen, not to deprive me of the pleasure of either falling on the spot, or of sharing with you the glory of the day. He became, however, so weak with the loss of blood that it was necessary to convey him onboard one of the galleys, and commit hi to care of his followers.
“The English had many advantages over us. They occupied a position thought inaccessible; they had supplied by art what was wanting by nature towards their defence; and they were more numerous within the island than we who attacked them, tired as we were by both the fatigue at sea and the difficulties, which we encountered at landing. To do the enemy justice, they made excellent use for a long time of there advantages, fought most obstinately against both Germans and French, and exposed themselves to infinite danger when we attempted to land, and afterwards when we made the ascent. They had the boldness to wait, and they wanted courage to sustain the charge. Yet an officer, along others, who for his skill in military affairs was very much esteemed by the King of England, found out a thousand means to plague us from a favourable position he contrived to occupy. This man was going from rank to rank, ordering some to fire, and others t advance, sometimes planting his guns and discharging them himself, when his head was carried off by a cannon ball from one of our galleys. The English did wonders as long as they had advantage of ground, but when they perceived that we gave up attempting the narrow paths and defiles, to come to a part of the island which contracts into a plain, they stood close together in a disorderly manner. One of them wishing to stimulate hiss countrymen, advanced against us waving a pair of colours, but he was killed by a shot, and the colours were taken amid the loud cheers of our men.
“We were about two hundred altogether in this place, and though we attacked the enemy with all the valour imaginable, yet we could not injure them except with our shot. The English commander, active as he was-for the truth is, he advanced at the head of his small battalion with great resolution-soon found himself surrounded with heaps of slain, but this did not restrain his ardour. On the contrary, he continued to advance and lay about him most desperately. A gentleman named Desboryes, an ensign in Monsieur biron’s company, made up to ho sword in hand, but the English commander, having the advantage of a long pike, thrust it into his neck, and made way for his soul to get out of his frail body.
“By this time all our men were landed, and Monsieur D’ Esse with his soldiers had come to close quarters with the enemy. The English commander fell covered with wounds, and his men made a disorderly retreat to the part of the island where they surrendered. Our numbers amounted to seven hundred, and with the loss of three we made ourselves master of the island, defended by eight hundred English trained to war, and accustomed to slaughter. We found on it a number of large and small guns, ammunition of all sorts, a quantity of warlike implements, and tools for carrying on the fortifications, besides Spanish wine, bedding, silk stuffs, woollen cloths, and other necessaries. Monsieur D’ Esse absolutely refused to share in the booty, declaring that he would never appropriate to himself the property of soldiers, and that he intended to return to France enriched only with honour.”
When the day dawned, two English ships and a boat were descried approaching the island to supply the garrison with provisions. One of the vessels was just nearing the island, and a French officer named St Andre, who had been left in command, exerted himself to decoy the crew, when by some means they discovered that their countrymen had been defeated, and they stood out to sea. St Andre discharged some guns at the vessels, but no injury was done. On the same day the Queen Dowager sailed to Inchkeith, and landed, with the greatest satisfaction at the result of the enterprise. According to the French account, she beheld between three hundred and four hundred of the slain lying undeterred. In an interview with St. Andre, she said-“Well, Captain, is it in the power of the enemy to retake this island with as much dexterity as we have forced if from them?” “No, by Heaven, Madam!” replied the enthusiastic Frenchman, “the island of Inchkeith has much better ramparts today than it had yesterday.” When Monclue, bishop of Valence, who accompanied the Queen dowager to Inchkeith, advised the completion of the fortifications commenced by the English, St. Andre replied. “My Lord, the better we are fortified we shall certainly be so much more invincible, and if the enemy offer any interruption these brave men” pointing to the soldiers, “will not fail to make ramparts of there arms and hearts.”
Siege of Broughty Castle
Three miles east from Dundee, on the banks of the Frith of Tay, is the agreeable and pleasant village of Broughty Ferry-a modern sea bathing retreat of the lieges of the county of Forfar, and similar to those watering places patronised by the citizens of Edinburgh and Glasgow during the summer months. Although Broughty Ferry is minus trees, and has no pretensions to romantic environs, being situated like the Portobello of the Modern Athenians, on leve ground, it is nevertheless a comfortable, pleasant and sunny village, with a delightful beach, and separates from the opposite shore of Fife little more than a mile. The only object of historical interest in this village is the old ruined Castle Broughty, prominently situated on elevated rocks, and rearing its venerable battlements as if in proud disdain of the surrounding series of villas and houses. When it was built, or by whom, is not ascertained, and the earliest notice of it is in 1492, when Boece mentions it as witnessing a foolish prodigy. From 1547 to 1550, Broughty Castle was the scene of exploits worthy of notice, and which are intimately connected with important events in Scottish history.
The Duke of Somerset invaded Scotland in 1547, and after gaining the important battle of Pinkie, although compelled to return to England onaccount of designs formed against him, his fleet continued to scout the Scottish coasts, and, with the fortresses on the islands of the Frith of Forth,the English seized the Castle of Broughty, and filled it with a sufficient garrison. While the Duke of Somerset departed with his army by the southeast of Scotland, the Earl of Lennox, who had been received with distinction by Henry VIII and honoured with his alliance, entered the kingdom by the west, and his presence everywhere spread terror. The Regent Arran, at all times timid, beheld this new rival with dismay, but to conceal his fear he collected the scattered remains of the Scottish army discomfited at Pinkie, and marched to blockade the Castle of Broughty. He lay before the fortalice from the 1st of October 1547 to the 1st of January, when he was obliged to raise the siege, with the loss of all his ordnance. The English, emboldened by their success, pillaged Dundee and other places, and fortified the hill of Balgillo, nearly a mile northward of Broughty, where some vestiges of their fortifications are still to be seen. When the Earl of Argyll was informed that the English were ravaging the county of Forfar, and defeating every attempt at opposing them on the past of Maule of Panmure, and Halyburton, Provost of Dundee, he collected his vassals, and marched to Broughty, but he was no more fortunate than the Regent, and was compelled to relinquish the siege. A similar fate attended three regiments of French commanded by Monsieur D’ Esse, but at length the fortress was yielded in 1550 to the allied army f Scots, French, and Germans, commanded by Des Thermes, the successor of D’ Esse. A narrative if this siege, written by M. Beaugue, was published at Paris in 1556. It contains some curious particulars not generally known.
After some server reflections on Lord Gray, a Scottish nobleman who was most conspicuous in those times for his venality, and to whom it stated Broughty Castle then belonged, Monsieur Beaugue says “Broughty is a castle so conveniently situated that at full tide ships of 150 tons may ride at anchor within a hundred or eighty paces of it. The Earl of Arran had already made two attempts to recover this place, and both times he employed at least eight thousand men and eight pieces of cannon, but he failed in the first, because his presence was most urgently required elsewhere; and as for the second, the Earl of Argyll, who commanded the siege, made a truce with the garrison for a set time, and before its expiry the English had sent such succours as compelled him to retire, after his Highlanders had lain before it as long as they were obliged to serve.
“Monsieur D’Esse, being informed of the state of affairs at Broughty, sent Count Rimgrave with his companies of Germans, and Monsieur D’ Etauges with one of French, following with the remainder of his forces in person with the greatest expedition. The enterprise was projected and conducted with all imaginable secrecy and prudence, but it was not possible to conceal those movements from the English, who, when informed that we intended to visit them, demolished the fortifications they had commenced and diligently carried on during the space of eight days at Dundee, rifled the houses, and set fire to the town, returning to their forts at Broughty and Balgillo Hill. They were fortunate to have faithful spies in their interest on this occasion, for Count Rimgrave and Monsieur D’Etauges had gone before with a design of giving employment to the enemy; but when they entered Dundee they had the mortification to find in the town only a few men and some poor women, who were exerting themselves to extinguish the flames kindled by the English.
“Two days after this disappointment, the officers now mentioned went at the head of their companies to view the new fortress built by the English at Broughty. They advanced so very near it, that those within must either have drawn out, or allowed them to be braved at the foot of their walls. They chose to sally out, and we had a very warm reencounter. Our Germans drove back the foremost to their fort, and there met with the strength of their forces, who received our men within reach of the ordinance of the place; yet our captains and soldiers repulsed them again and again, till seeing a proper time they retired towards Dundee, facing about when necessary, and observing to a nicety all the punctilios of honour required on such occasions.
“After the various undertakings and successes of the campaign. Monsieur D’Esse ordered Dundee to be fortified, to prevent the English getting any more footing in those parts of the kingdom. For which purpose he left seven companies of French and two of Scots in the place, with pioneers, cannon, and other necessary ammunition. He then returned to Edinburgh, and it being necessary to give some case to his fatigued soldiers, he sent the residue of the army to quarter in the towns of St. Andrews, Perth, Aberdeen, Montrose, and in somre villages of the county of Fife.
“Monsieur D’ Etauges was commander of the garrison of Dundee, which consisted of his own company of horse all very well mounted and armed, seven companies of French infantry and two of Scots, the one of foot and the other of horse. All these had made frequent attempts upon the English at Broughty, and knowing how to improve an advantage, and to nick an opportunity, they always had the advantage of them. By this means the enemy were brought to that pass that they durst not stir abroad, or if they did, they were sure to keep always within the reach of an harquebus of their own walls. On this account Monsieur D’ Etauges so much undervalued them, that one day he resolved to go with a very few attendants to see a small vessel which was cast away at Broughty. He put on a coat of Spanish leather, and armed only with his sword and dagger, he mounted a very fine Turkish horse, desiring seven or eight gentlemen of his own retinue to follow him, and take the air and pleasure of the fields for a few hours. But Beauchatel, who was near him at the time, thought fit to play a sure game. He caused about twenty-five of our men to arm, and rode after his commander at full speed. The English had already discovered Monsieur D’ Etanges. That entire tract which lies between Dundee and Broughty is a large plain; the way is marshy, and deep and uneasy during the winter. The garrison had no sooner descried Monsieur D’ Etauges proceeding along the road from Dundee than they began to discharge their cannon. This did not prevent monsieur D’ Etauges from going round the forts, and viewing it on all sides, as here had often done before. This induced the English to sally out upon him. Beauchatel and his twenty-five horsemen, all barve lusty fellows joined him. Ashe was himself about to charge the enemy a second time, his horse, wheeling about in a marshy place, fell on his right side. Being surrounded by the English he was made prisoner, who carried him off immediately to their fort.”
The English retained possession of Broughty Castle till expelled, as already stated, by a united force of the Scots, French, and Germans, under Monsieur Des Thermes, the successor of D’Esse. The castle was afterwards dismantled, and though occasionally repaired it was eventually permitted to become a ruin, in which condition it now exists, and is a prominent object when entering the Tay, as if surveying with indifference the mighty changes, which have completely, altered the appearance of the surrounding country. Dundee is now a large and populous seaport, the land between it and Broughty is finely cultivated, instead of being a marsh as it was in Queen Mary’s time, and Broughty is a pleasant village, the inhabitants of which live in peaceful seclusion, enlivened, and of course enriched, by the presence of those summer visitors who resort to it for health and retirement.
Battle of the Grampians
The proceedings of the Romans in Britain, and particularly in Scotland, the battles they fought, and the many interesting memorials still to be seen, in various parts of the country, of those ancient masters of the world, require a connected and distinct narrative; but the celebrated battle of the Grampians, which was the last of those series of successes, may with propriety to be given separate, as the final triumph of Roman discipline over savage clans of roving barbarians, whose dispositions were as untameable as their lives were wild and ferocious.
Cnaeus Julius Agricola spent about seven or eight years in Britain, from A.D. 76 to A.D. 84 or 85, but the precise year of his arrival id not ascertained. The campaigns of every year added to the Roman arms, and at the end of the fourth campaign the Shole iIsland south of the Forth and Clyde were secured by the well-known wall, parts of which still remain, and by a chain of forts. It was in the last year of his government that Agricola defeated Galgacus on the Grampian mountains, and after this victorious conclusion of the campaign, a Roman fleet sailed round the entire island, and marked the boundary of the empire in the region of the Ultima Thule, and the Hebridean islands, lying “far amid the melancholy main.”
It appears from Tacitus that in the course of the third campaign, in A.D. 80, the Romans extended their conquests north of the Frith of Tay, and subdued the counties of fife and Perth. The principals fort built by Agricola was at Ardoch in the latter county, situated so as to command this entrance into the extensive valleys of Strathallan and Strathearn, and the choice of it proves what Tacitus says, that no general showed greater skill I the choice of advantageous situations. The Caledonians, as the Scots are called, retreated before the veteran Romans, and never dared to hazard a battle, although the legions struggled with all the difficulties of a tempestuous season. At every Roman post provisions for twelve month were supplied, to enable the garrison to stand a siege. They were repeatedly assailed during the winter, but they beat the besiegers in repeated sallies, and passed that winter secure from danger. “The consequence,” says Tacitus, “of these precautions was, that the enemy, who had been accustomed to retrieve in the winter what they had lost in the preceding summer, saw no difference of seasons, and as they defeated everywhere, they were reduced to despair.”
Yet the country had been overrun, not conquered, and the business of the fourth campaign was to secure it from native aggression. It was then that Agricola constructed his line of forts between the Friths of Forth and of Clyde, the same isthmus or neck of land on which Lollius Urbicus, governor of Britain, in the reign of Antoninus Pius, erected the Roman wall usually called Graham’s Dyke. By means of these wall situated and guarded stations, the Caledonians were confined to the northern part of Scotland, as it were in a peninsula. Agricola’s fifth campaign was in A.D. 82, and he penetrated farther into Scotland, but from the obscure style of Tacitus in this part of his life of Agricola, it is difficult to ascertain on which side the attempt was made. It appears, however, from the sequel, that the Roman general, having driven the Caledonians beyond the isthmus between the Clyde and the Forth, resolved to march against the tribes and septs north of the Clyde, to spread a general alarm, and make an impression on the western side of the country. He accordingly crossed the river Clyde in the first Roman vessel ever seen in that river, and landed near Dumbarton, while his army advanced by land, and making a rapid progress through the county of Argyle, marched to the sea coast opposite to Ireland. Tacitus says that Agricola defeated the Caledonians in several engagements before he came to the sea coast, which he induced to do not so much from an apprehension of danger, as with a view to future prospects. He saw that Ireland, lying between Britain and Spain, and at the same time convenient to the ports of Gaul and France, might prove a valuable acquisition, capable of giving an easy communication, and of course strength and union, to provinces disjoined by nature. The Roman general, and detained under a show of friendship, to be of use on some future occasion, kindly received an Irish petty king, who had been forced to fly from the fury of a domestic faction.
In the campaign of the sixth summer, dreading a confederacy of the tribes beyond the Frith of Forth, and also afraid of the danger of being surprised in a country not yet explored, Agricola ordered his ships to cross to Fife, and obtain some knowledge of the districts. He had already in the third year of his expedition penetrated north of the forth as far as the Firth of Tay, but that district was merely overrun, and now, suspecting an insurrection beyond the Forth, he manned a fleet to search the coasts on the northeast of Scotland. An antiquarian writer is of opinion, since Tacitus of the return of those ships takes no notice, that after their survey of the coast they remained in some road or harbour on the coast of Fife, or within the Frith of Tay, where there was commodious shelter from tempestuous weather. The war was now carried on in the counties of Fife, Peth, and the Mearns. The Roman fleet, Tacitus, now acting for the first time in concert with the land forces, proceeding in sight of the army, forming a magnificent spectacle, and adding terror to the war, tells us. At the sight of the Roman fleet, the natives, according to the statements of the prisoners, were struck with consternation, convinced that every resource was not cut off, since the sea, which had always afforded them shelter was now laid open to the invaders.
The Caledonians in their distress resolved to try the issue of a battle. Without waiting for the commencement of hostilities they stormed the Roman forts and castles, traces of which still exist in the countries of Fife and Perth, and made such an impression that several of Agricola’s officers, under the specious appearance of prudent counsels, advised a retreat, to avoid the disgrace of being driven back to the other side of the Frith of Forth. This recommendation was disregarded by Agricola, who having received intelligence that the enemy meditated an attack in various quarters at once, and lest superior numbers, in a country where he was a stranger to the defiles and passes, should be able to surround him, he divided his army, and marched forward in thee columns.
The Caledonians, when informed of this arrangement, changed their plans, and in middle of the night fell with their united force upon the ninth legion, which was considered the weakest in the Roman army. They surprised the advanced guard, put the sentinels to the sword, and forced their way through the entrenchments amid the terror and consternation, which prevailed. The battle raged in the very camp, when Agricola, who had been informed that the Caledonian were on the march, instantly pursued, and came opportunely up to the relief of the legion. Ordering the swiftest of the horse and light infantry to advance and charge the assailants in the rear, his whole army raised a loud shout. At break of day the Caledonians beheld the Roman eagles and banners glittering before them, and found themselves hemmed in by two armies. Their vigour relaxed at this unexpected misfortune, while the courage of the ninth legion. Acting no longer on the defensive, they rushed on the attack. In the gates of the camp, of which in every Roman one there were four, having distinct names one on each side of the circumference, a fierce and obstinate engagement followed. The recently besieged legion and the forces, which came to their relief fought with a spirit of emulation, the former observes the historian, to prove that they stood in no need of assistance, the latter contending for the honour of succouring the distressed. The Caledonians were completely routed, and if the woods and marshes had not favoured their escape this action might have finished the war, and completely established the Roman power.
It is contended that this battle was fought at Lochore in Fife, in the neighbourhood of Lochleven, where the appearance of a Roman camp is still to be seen. The form of this camp is described as resembling a square, but it is in many parts levelled and defaced. South of this camp there is a large morass, in which have been often dug up the roots of different trees in such abundance as to indicate that it was in ancient times covered with wood. This therefore, is supposed to be the camp in which the ninth legion was attacked. There is near this locality the village of Blair, a word that signifies, according to some interpreters of the ancient language, the spot where a battle was fought, but General Roy refutes this idea.
The Caledonians, notwithstanding their defeat, were not discouraged, and resolved to keep the field. They enlisted their young men, sent their wives and children to places of safety, and with solemn rites and sacrifices in their groves they formed a league in the cause of liberty. The campaign thus ended, and the contending armies retired into winter quarters.
In the opening of the following campaign Agricola dispatched his fleet, with orders to annoy the coast by frequent descents in several places, and to spread a general terror. He placed himself at the head of his army, and taking with him a band of Britons, on whose approved fidelity he could fully rely, he advanced as far as the Grampian mountains, where the Caledonians were posted under their renowned chief Galgach or Galgacus. Thus stupendous range, the Mons Grampius of Tacitus, extends across the island from the district of Cowal in Argyleshire, on the Atlantic, to Aberdeen on the German Ocean, whence they form another ridge in a northwest direction, extending through Aberdeenshire to Moray and the borders of Inverness-shire. The scene of the battle between the Romans and the Caledonians is noticed in the sequel, but it is still a subject of dispute among antiquarians, few of who can agree on the precise locality, although the district can be securely ascertained from the route of Agricola’s march.
Little is known of Galgacus the Caledonian chief. He is called Galdus in the Chronicle of the Kings of Scotland, and a learned writer gives is an account of the etymology of the name. He maintains that the Romans from two Gaelic appellations-Gold and Cachach latinized Galgacus; the first, Gauld being the proper name, and the second a soubriquet, on account of the number of battles he fought-a custom common among the Celtic septs. Thus, Graham of Claverhouse, the well known Viscount of Dundee, was called Evan Du-nan-cach, or Black haired John who fights the battles, and in a like manner the celebrated John Duke of Argyle was known among the highlanders by the title of Evan Roy-nan-cach, or Red haired John who fights battles. Tacitus says that upwards of thirty thousand men appeared under the Caledonian chief, and their numbers were continually increasing. The youth of the country, and even the men in years whose vigour was still unbroken, poured in from all quarters on this occasion, proud of their past exploits, and the memorials of bravery they had earned by their martial spirit.
Before the battle commenced Galgacus convened his soldiers around him, eager for action, and excited by ardour. The speech which Tacitus ascribes to him is a splendid piece of eloquence, and is valuable as exhibiting a striking picture of Roman oppression. It may be doubted whether Galgacus spoke what the historian has put into his mouth, but it is more than probable that he harangued his men, for in those times no battle was fought without a speech from the general to rouse and animate the valour of his army. “We see the same custom,” says a translator of Tacitus, “among the savages of America. In our times few or no speeches are made at the head of the line. The modern general has no occasion to be an orator; his artillery speaks for him. But since it is likely that Galgacus addressed his men, that probability is ground sufficient for the historian; and Galgacus, then upon the point of a decisive action, when all that was dear to him depended on the event, may be fairly allowed to have addressed his men in substance at least, if not in the manner represented. The ferocity of a savage, whose bosom glowed with the love of liberty, gives warmth and spirit to the whole speech. Neither the Greek nor Roman page has anything to do with it. The critics have admired the speech of Porus to Alexander the Great, but excellent as it is, it shrinks and fades away before the Caledonian orator. Even the speech of Agricola, which follows immediately after it, is tame and feeble, when opposed to the ardour, the impetuosity, and the vehemence, of the Baltic chief. We see Tacitus exerting all his art to decorate the character of his father in law, but he had neither the same vein of sentiment, nor the same generous love of liberty, to support the cause of an ambitious conqueror. In the harangue of Galgacus, the pleasure of the reader springs from two principles. He admires the enthusiasm of the brave Cale Caledonian, and at the same time applauds the noble historian, who draws up a charge against the tyranny of his own countrymen, and generously enlists on the side of liberty.”
Although the speech of Galgacus is well known, the present narrative would be incomplete without this splendid burst of alleged Caledonian eloquence, which many a schoolboy has been made to recite as an elementary exercise. “When I consider,” says Galgacus, “the motives which have roused us to this war, when I reflect on the necessity which now demands our firmest vigour, I expect everything great and noble from the union of sentiment pervading us all. From this day I date the freedom of Britain. We are the men who never crouched in bondage. Beyond this spot there is no land where liberty can find a refuge. Even the sea is shut against us, while the Roman fleet is hovering on the coast. To draw the sword in the cause of freedom is the true glory of the brave, and in our condition cowardice itself would throw away the scabbard. In the battles, which have been hitherto fought with alternate vicissitudes of fortune, our countrymen might well repose some hopes in us; they might consider us as their last resource; they knew us to be the noblest sons of Britain, placed in the last recesses of the land, in the very sanctuary of liberty. We have not so much as seen the melancholy regions where slavery has debased mankind. We have lived in freedom, and our eyes have been unpolluted by the sight of ignoble bondage.
“The extremity of the earth is ours. Defended by our situation, we have to this day preserved our honour and the rights of men. But we are no longer safe in our obsecurity; our retreat is laid open; the enemy rushes on and, as things unknown are ever magnified, he thinks a mighty conquest lied before him. But this is the end of the habitable world, and rocks and boisterous waves fill all the space behind. The Romans are in the heart of our country; no submission can satisfy their pride; no concession can appease their fury. While the land has anything left, it is the theatre of war; when it can yield no more, they explore the seas for hidden treasure. Are the nations rich? Roman avarice is their enemy. Are they poor? Roman ambition lords it over them. The East and the West have been rifled, and the spoiler is still insatiate. The Romans, by a strange singularity of nature, are the only people who invade with equal ardour the wealth and the poverty of nations. To rob, to ravage, and to murder, in their imposing language are the arts of civil society. When they have made the world a solitude they call it peace.”
After various allusions to the conduct of the Romans, and the peculiar circumstances in which the Caledonians were places, Galgacus continues “We know the manners of the Romans, and are we to imagine that their valour in the field is equal to their arrogance in time of peace? By our dissensions their glory rises; the vices of their enemies are the negative virtues of the Roman army, f that may be called an army which is no better than a motley crew of various nations, held together by success, and ready to crumble away in the first reverse of fortune. That this will be their fate no one can doubt, unless we suppose that the Gauls the Germans, and with shame I add, the Britons, a mercenary band, who hire their blood in a foreign service, will adhere from principle to a new master whom they have lately served and long detested. They are now enlisted by awe and terror; break their fetters, and the man who forgets to fear will seek revenge.
“All that can inspire the human heart, every motive that can excite us to deeds of valour, is on our side. The Romans have no wives in the field to animate their drooping spirit; no parents to reproach the want of courage. They are not enlisted in the cause of their country; their country, if they have any, lies at a distance. They are a band of mercenaries, a wretched handful of devoted men, who tremble and look aghast as they roll their eyes around, and see on every side unknown objects. The sky over their heads, the sea, the woods, all things conspire to fill them with doubt and terror. They come like victims, delivered into our hands by the gods, to fall this day a sacrifice to freedom.
“In the ensuing battle he not deceived by false appearances. The glitter of gold and silver may dazzle the eye, but to us it is harmless, to the Romans no protection. In their own ranks we shall find a number of generous warriors ready to assist our cause. The British know that for our common liberties we draw the avenging sword. The Gauls will remember that they once were a free people, and the Germans, as the Usipians lately did, will desert their colours. The Romans have left nothing in their rear to oppose us in the pursuit; their forts are ungarrisoned; the veterans in their colonies droop with age; in their municipal towns nothing but anarchy, despotic government, and disaffected subjects. In me behold your general; behold an army of freeborn men. Your enemy is before you, and in his train heavy tributes, drudgery in the mines, and all the horrors of slavery. Are those calamities to be entailed upon us? Or shall this day relieve us by a brave revenge? Before you is the field of battle, and let that determine. Let us know the enemy, and as we rush upon him, remember the glory delivered down to us by our ancestors; and let each man think that upon his sword depends the fate of posterity.”
There are various allusions in this speech ascribed to the Caledonian chief, which require explanation. When he says that the Romans have “no wives in the field to animate their dropping spirits, “he refers to the state of celibacy to which the military system of the Romans condemned the soldiers, for before the reign of Severus, who owed his advancement to the imperial purple to the legions, a Roman camp had no accommodation for women. To mark his gratitude, Severus permitted the soldiers to marry, and by that and other indulgencies he relaxed almost ruined the discipline of the army. The state of celibacy, which the Roman soldiers were compelled to observe, would doubtless often tempt them to commit licentious violence in the countries they conquered; and Tacitus makes Galgacus accuse them of these excesses. “Are our wives, our sisters, and our daughters, safe from brutal lust and open violation? The insidious conqueror, under the mask of hospitality and friendship, brands them with dishonour.” When Galgacus declares “their country, if they have any, lies at a distance,” and designates them a “band of mercenaries.” He intimates that the conquered provinces furnished auxiliaries, and the legions were often recruited by levies raised in different parts of the empire. These soldiers were not interested in the cause or welfare of Rome, because they were born in different and remote places. An example of this is given by the allusions of Galgacus to the Usipians. They were auxiliaries from Germany, but feeling no interest in the cause, they resolved to return to their own country, and with the design committed themselves to the mercy of the winds and waves. It can scarcely be supposed, however, that the Caledonian chief could be familiar with these and other facts which he is made to utter.
The Latin historian informs us that the speech of Galgacus was received, according to the custom of barbarians with war songs, savage howling, and a wild uproar of military applause. They began to form their line of battle, the brave and warlike rushing forward to the front. The Romans, on the other hand, were equally ardent, and in imitation of Galgacus, were addressed by Aricola with the following speech: -
“It is now my fellow soldiers, the eighth year of our service in Britain. During that time the genius and good auspices of the Roman Empire, with your assistance and unwearied labour, have made the island our own. In all our expeditions, in every battle, the enemy has felt our valour, and by your toil and perseverance the very nature of the country has been conquered. I have been proud of my soldiers, and you have had no reason to blush for your general. We have carried the terror of our arms beyond the limits of any other soldier, or any former general; we have penetrated to the extremity of the land. This was formerly the boast of vainglory, the mere report of fame; it is now historical truth. We have gained possession sword in hand; we are encamped in the utmost limits of the inland. Britain is discovered, and by the discovery conquered.
“In our long and laborious marches, when you were obliged to traverse moors, and fens, and rivers, and to climb steep and craggy mountain, it was still the cry of the bravest among you, when shall we be led to battle? When shall we see the enemy? Behold them now before you. They are hunted out of their dens and caverns; you wish is granted, and the field of glory lies open to your swords. One victory more makes this new world our own, but remember that defeat involves us all in distress.
If we consider the progress of our name, to look back is glorious; the tract of country, which lies behind us, the forests, which you have explored, and the estuaries, which you have passed, are monuments of eternal fame. But our fame can only last while we press forward on the enemy. If we give way, or if we think of a retreat, we have again the same difficulties to surmount. The success, which is now our pride, will in such a case prove the worst misfortune, which can befall us. We are not sufficiently acquainted with the course of the country; the enemy knows the defiles and arches, and will be supplied with provisions in abundance. We have not these advantages, but we have hands that can grasp the sword, and we have valour that gives us everything. With me it has long been a settled principle that the back of a general or his army is never safe. Who of you would not rather die honourably than live in infamy? But life and honour are this day inseparable; they are fixes to one spot. Should fortune declare against us, we die on the utmost limits of the world, and to die where nature ends cannot be deemed inglorious.
“If our present struggle were with nations unknown, or if we had to do with an enemy new to our swords, I should call to mind the example of other armies. At present what can I propose so bright and animating as your own exploits? I appeal to your own eyes. Behold the men drawn up against you. Are they not the same who last year, under the covert of the night, assaulted the ninth legion, and upon the first shout of our army fled before you? A band of dastards! Who have subsisted hitherto, because of all British they are the most expeditious in running away! In woods and forests the fierce and noble animals attack the huntsmen, and rush on cretain destruction, but the timorous herd is soon dispersed, scared by the sound and clamour of the chase. In like manner, the brave and warlike British have long since perished by the sword. The refuse of the nation alone exists. They have not remained to make head against you; they are hunted down; they are caught in the toils. Enervated with fear, they stand motionless on yonder spot, which you will render forever memorable by a glorious victory. Here you may end your labours, and close a scene of fifty years by one great, one glorious day. Let your country see, and let the commonwealth bear witness, if the conquest of Britain has been a lingering work-if the seeds of rebellion have not been crushed, that we at least have done our duty.”
When Agricola concluded his address, which was heard with the utmost enthusiasm, shouts of applause rent the air, and the soldiers grasped their arms, impatient for the onset. The general restrained their ardour till he formed the line of battle. The auxiliary infantry, about eight thousand in numbers, occupied the centre; the wings consisted of three thousand cavalry. The legions were stationed in the rear at the head of the entrenchments to support the ranks if necessary, but otherwise to remain inactive. To prevent the Caledonians making any impression on the flank, the front lines of the army were extended to a considerable length. The Roman camp was in two divisions, one for the auxiliaries, and the other for the cavalry. There were two camps in the adjacent country, from which Agricola drew together the main strength of his army.
It appears that the main body of Caledonians took post on an acclivity of that part of the Grampian range where the battle was fought, their advanced lines stood at the foot of the hill, and the ranks rose in regular order one above the other to the summit. Their charioteers and horsemen occupied the open plain, and rushed to and fro with wild velocity. The Caledonians, who according to Tacitus were in number thirty thousand, could not act with effect inc lose and narrow defiles, and it would seem that the field of battle was chosen by Galgacus to draw the Romans into a contracted plain, and then pour down upon them from the high grounds of the Grampians. Yet Agricola who was justly celebrated for this skill in choosing his ground of which incontestable proofs remain at the present day, might also prefer a place where thirty thousand men could not at once attack an army greatly inferior in numbers; and in this he was successful, for we are told that the enormous swords of the Caledonians were of little use in an engagement in a confined space. We also find that though the plain was wide enough for their charioteers and cavalry, they were drawn into narrow passes, in the heartof battle, andthus entangled among the inequalities of the gound, they could no longer act with vigour.
Some of Agricola’s officers supposed that the length of the lines would weaken them, and advised that the legions should be brought forward, but the Roman general adhered steadily to his own arrangements. He dismounted, dismissed his horse, and took his stand at the head of the imperial colours. The battle began, and at first was maintained at a distance. The Caledonians evinced skill and resolution. With their long swords, and their small targets made of wood and covered with leather, they contrived to elude the missive weapon of the Romans, while they discharged a thick volley of their own. Agricola ordered three Batavian and two Tungrian cohorts to charge the Caledonians sword in hand-a mode of attack familiar to those troops, but most disadvantageous to their opponents, for the Caledonians fought with the edge of the swords, cutting and hewing the enemy, while the Romans made use of the point, which enabled them in close engagement completely to obtain the advantage. The small target of the Caledonians afforded them no protection, and their broad unwieldy swords not sharpened to a point, could do little damage in a close contest. It is worthy of remark, that the Caledonians who fought on this occasion felt the fashion of their armour, as well as the example of their courage, to far distant posterity-the broad’s word and the target having been long the peculiar and well known arms of the Scottish Highlanders. But these weapons were of no avail, for the impetuous Batavians, rushing with fury to the conflict, redoubled their blows, bruising the Caledonians on the face with the bosses of their shields. They soon overpowered all resistance on the plain, and began to force an ascent of the hills in regular order to battle. The other cohorts emulated their example, and cut their way with terrible slaughter. Eager in pursuit of victory, observes the historian, they pressed forward with determined fury, leaving behind them numbers wounded, but not slain, while others were not even hurt.
The Roman cavalry in the meantime was forced to give way. Their enemies rushed with their armed chariots into the thickest of the battle, where the infantry were engaged, and at first they excited a general terror. But this career was soon checked by the inequalities of the ground, and the close ranks of the Romans. Enclosed in narrow places, from which they could extricate themselves, the Caledonians crowded upon each other, and were driven or dragged along by their own horses. A scene of irretrievable disorder ensued. Horses without riders, and chariots without guides, broke from the ranks, and flying wherever urged by fear consternation, they overwhelmed their own files, and trampled down all who came in their way. Those of them who had hitherto kept their position on the hills began slowly to quit their station, with the intention of wheeling round the field of battle, and attacking the victors in the rear. Agricola ordered four squadrons of cavalry, which he had kept as a body of reserve, to counteract this movement. The Caledonians now poured down with impetuosity, and retired with the same precipitation. At the same time the cavalry, by Agricola’s direction, wheeled round from the wings, and falling with great slaughter on the rear of the Caledonians, completed the victory. The latter now fled, closely pursued by the Romans, who wounded, gashed and mangled the fugitives, massacring their prisoners on the spot, to be ready for others.
The field presented a dreadful spectacle of carnage and destruction. In one part the Caledonians fled in crowds from handfuls of Romans, on other parts despair induced others to face every danger, and rush on certain death. Dead and mangled bodies, swords and bucklers, covered the plain, and the field was red with blood. Nevertheless defeated Caledonians gave occasional proofs of heroism and brave despair. Some of them fled to the woods, and rallying their scattered numbers, surrounded such of the Romans as pursued with too much eagerness. Agricola, however, took precautions against this overweening confidence in success, by ordering the light-armed cohorts to invest the woods, which caused the fugitives to retire in all directions. Night came on, and the Romans, weary of slaughter, desisted from the pursuit. No fewer than 10,000 of the Caledonians, including Galgacus and other chiefs, fell in this battle, while on the Romans only three hundred and forty were slain, among whom was Aulus Atheus, the perfect of a cohort. His ardour, and the spirit of a high mettled horse, carried him with too much boldness into the thickest of the Caledonian ranks, where he was cut to pieces.
The Romans passed the night in exultation, while the unfortunate Caledonians wandered about helpless and in despair. The cries of women and children rent the air with lamentations. Some, says the historian, assisted to carry off the dead, others called those who had escaped unhurt to their assistance; numbers abandoned their habitation, or in their madness set them on fire. They fled to obscure retreats, and which they in a moment capriciously deserted. They held consultations, and having inflamed their hopes, they changed their minds in despair; they beheld the pledges of tender affection, and burst into tears; they viewed them again, and grew fierce with resentment. It is a well-authenticated fact, that some laid violent hands upon their wives and children, as if determined to end their misery.
The following day disclosed the nature and importance of the victory. A melancholy silence prevailed, the hills were deserted, houses at a distance were burning, not a human being was to be seen; and the whole district, which so lately teamed with the Caledonians warriors, was a vast and dreary solitude. Those whom he had sent to explore the country, that no trace of the enemy was anywhere apparent informed Agricola, and that no attempt was made in any quarter of muster their forces. As the summer was far advanced, and the continuance of the war, or the extension of his operations, in consequence impracticable, he closed the campaign by marching into the country, he closed the campaign by marching into country of the Horestians, most probably the county of Fife. The people submitted to the conqueror, and gave hostages for their fidelity. Agricola now led his army into winter quarters, while his fleet sailed round the island of Great Britain, and returned in safety to its station in the Frith of Forth.
When the account of this victory was transmitted to Rome, the Emperor Domitian received it in the true spirit of his character, with a smile upon his countenance and malignity of heart. He began to dread that the name of a private citizen would overshadow his imperial title. He brooded in private over his discontent, and resolved to humiliate the man whom he thought had robbed him of renown in arms. Circumstances had occurred which inflamed his resentment. While Agricola was employed in extending the limits of the empire in Britain, Domitian went on his mock expedition into Germany, and returned without seeing the enemy. In imitation of the conduct of Caligula, he purchased a number of slaves, whom he ordered to let their hair grow and colour it, that they might pass for German prisoners of war. He felt the reproach and ridicule, which that contemptible expedition occasioned, and it offered a sad contrast to a real victory. Attended with the total overthrow of the enemy, and the applause of all ranks of men. Domitian in the meantime caused a decree to pass in the senate, awarding the usual marks of distinction to Agricola, but the imperial tyrant contrived to make this gallant commander resign the government of Britain in A.D. 85. The offer that succeeded is supposed to be Sallistius Lucullus, of whom nothing is known except that he invented lances of a new form, and gave them the name of Lucullean, which gave mortal offence to Domitian who ordered him to be put to death.
Agricola proceeded to Rome, and let his arrival in that city might draw together a concourse of people; he concealed his approach from his friends, and entered privately at midnight. With the same secrecy, and during the night, he went, as he was commanded, to present himself to the Emperor. Domitian received him with a cold salute, and without uttering a single word left the conquerors of Britain to mingle with the servile creatures of his court.
Such is the account of the Battle of the Grampians given by Tacitus, who was the son in law of Agricola, when the roman eagles triumphed over the Caledonians. It is supposed that Galgacus fell in the battle, but if he be identified with Corbredus Galdus, the twenty first king of the Scots, he died a natural death. In the parish of Kirkmabreck, in Kirkcudbrightshire, there is a heap of stones called the Holy Cairn, which tradition affirms is raised over the grave of Galdus. When many of the stones were carried off for the purpose of building houses and dikes, there were discovered large stones placed together in the form of a chest or coffin, but on account of the roof stone being iof prodigious magnitude it has never been removed. This stone stands in the centre, between two different places, about a hundred yards distant from it, where quantities of human bones have been buried.
The scene of the battle of the Grampians has been a subject of much antiquarian contention, which it would be out of place to introduce into the present narrative. Our only information from Tacitus, who leaves us completely in the dark as to the locality. We are told that it was fought at the foot of the Grampians, but every one knows that the Grampian Mountains traverse the whole extent of Scotland, from the vicinity of Aberdeen to the district of Cowal in Argyleshire. In this extensive range several places, considerably distant from each other, have been supposed to be the field of battle. It has been conjectured that when Agricola encountered Galgacus, the Roman legions were stationed at Meiklour. At the east end of the hill of Gourdie, in the parish of Cline in Perthshire, there is a curious memorial of antiquity called the Steeds stalls. It consists of eight mounds, with eight corresponding trenches, and there may have been others now obliterated by a plough. These mounds and trenches are of equal length. It iss aid that an advanced guard of the Caledonian army was posted here, to watch the movement of the Romans, when they lay encamped at Inchtnthill, about two miles west of the plain below. The place called the Steeds stalls, which is well adapted for such a purpose, lies on the summit of a rising ground looking directly northward on the declivities, which the Caledonains are supposed to have occupied. This locality is nearly three miles south of the Heer-cairns, or the Cairns of the Battle-a number of Cairns, which has long attracted the notice of the curious, on account of the remote and important transactions, intimated by them.
One site supposed to be the scene of the battle is at Fortingall at the foot of Glenlyon, in the very centre of the Grampians, where the vestiges of a camp, apparently Roman, are still visible. A second site, which has the most numerous supporters, is Comrie, at the head of Strathearn, where there is a Roman camp. Fettercairn, or Stonehaven, in the county of Kincardine, is also selected as the locality of the field of battle. But to all these localities there are objections. It is not likely that such an experienced general as Agricola would advance so far from his fleet with his legions through defiles of mountains, and in region of which he was utterly ignorant, and where he was liable to be surprised and cut off by a bold and resolute enemy; but the chief objections to Fortingallis, that it is too much hemmed in by high mountains and in all respects too limited, to be the sdcene of such an extensive engagement as that described by Tacitus. The localities of comrie are less circumscribed than those of Fortingall, but still the strth is narrow below and above, the mountains rise boldly from the vale, and the face of the country foes not accord with the statement of the historian, as it would have been difficult to have brought into action the horse and the hook armed chariots of cars of the Caledonians. At Comrie, moreover, the Roman army would have been too far distant from their fleet, which is supposed to have bee riding at anchor in the mouth of the Tay. The Romans would have been at a convenient distance from their fleet in the neighbourhood of Fettercairn, supposing that it had passed the Red Head, and was hovering off the adjacent coast; but the bold, rocky and, and dangerous coast of Angus and Mearns, from the Red Head to Stonehaven, would in all probability be shunned by the Roman fleet. The last locality maintained is the Heer-cairns mentioned. “this,” says the able author of the Statistical Account of the parish of Clunie, “appears to be at least probable a scene as any of the other four. Agricola could not, perhaps, in all Strathmore have pitched upon a more favourable station for his legions than the large elevated plain comprehended between the Cleven Dyke and the confluence of the Tay and the Isla. It is no great distance from the mouth of the Tay, where the Roman army, in case of a defeat, might have had easy access to their ships. It commands a distant view of the higher grounds of the Stormont to the north and northwest, and it looks directly westward on the entrance into the Highlands by Dunkeld, then the capital of the Caledonians, and in the vicinity of which we may suppose it would be natural for them to hold their general rendezvous on this occasion. In several parts of this neighbourhood, the surface of the ground exhibits a singular appearance of long hilly ridges, or drums, answering well to the colles of Tacitus, running parallel from west to east, rising above one another like the seats of a theatre. These colles, or long extended eminences, rising gradually one above another, were well fitted for displaying the Caledonian army to the best advantage.”It is father stated in favour of this locality, that there isa hill which still retains the name of Crag-Roman, to which Agricola’s right wing might have extended, and where several Roman urns and spurs have been found. “The circumstance,” continues the ingenious writer, of Roman spurs being found there give the more probability to the conjecture, because the wings of the roman army consisted of the three thousand cavalry, who as Tacitus expresses it, were widely extended on the wings to prevent the Romans from being attacked in flank. After the Batavian and Tungrian cohorts had begun to gain the heights, the Caledonians would fall back on their entrenchments above the Heer-cairns. It is possible, therefore, that these Cairns may be the very spot, where Agricola by a masterly manoeuvre turned the stratagem of the Caledonians against themselves, and brought on the general rout. Then commenced that dreadful carnage, of which the Heer-cairns may be at this day an affecting memorial. It likewise appears from the disposition of the tumuli along the neighbouring hills, that the fight of the Caledonians previous to their general dispersion was principally by two different routes; the one northwest towards the woods of Strathardheil, and the other northeast towards those of Maur, where there is also a number of cairns, seemingly coeval with the others. In several of these have been dug up cinders and little pieces of human bones; and here it has been thought probable that Aulus Atticus, and some of the thirty-three Romans who fell with him in the battle were burnt together in one funeral pile at the great cairn, which is about eighty or ninety yards in circumference and in the centre of which cinders were turned up in 1792.
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