Picture of William Camden

William Camden

places mentioned

Scotland: North of the Antonine Wall

Next Selection Previous Selection


WHAT so ever part of Britain lieth Northward beyond Grahames Dyke, or the wall of Antoninus Pius before named, and beareth out on both seas, is called by Tacitus Caledonia, like as the people thereof, Britans inhabiting Caledonia. Ptolomee divideth them into many nations, as Caledonii, Epidii, Vacomagi, &. Who were all of them afterward, for continuing their ancient maner and custome of peincting their bodies, named by the Romans and the Provinciall people Picts; divided by Ammianus Marcellinus into two nations, the Dicaledones and Vecturiones, touching whom I have spoken already before. Howbeit in the approved and best writers they goe all under the name of Caledonians, whom I would thinke to have beene so called of kalled a British word that signifieth hard , and the plurall number maketh kaledion , whence the name Caledonii may be derived, that is to say, hard, rough, uncivill, and a wilder kind of people , such as the Northren nations for the most part are, who by reason of the rigorous cold of the aire are more rough and fierce, and for their abundance of bloud more bold and adventurous. Moreover, beside the position of the climate, this is furthered by the nature and condition of the soile, which riseth up all throughout with rough and rugged mountainers; and mountainers, verily, all men know and confesse to be hardy, stoute, and strong. But whereas Varro alleageth out of Pacuvius that Caledonia breadeth and nourisheth men of exceeding bigge bodies , I would understand the place rather of Caledonia the region of Epirus, than this of ours, although ours also may justly challeng unto it selfe this commendation. Among this was the Wood Caledonia, termed by Lucius Florus Saltus Caledonius , that is, The forest of Caledonia , spreading out a mighty way, and impassable by reason of tall trees standing so thick, divided also by Grampe hil, now called Grantzbaine, that is, the Crooked bending mountaine. That Ulysses arrived in Caledonia (saith Solinus) appeareth plainely by a votive altar with an inscription in Greeke letters , but I would judge it to have beene rather erected to the honour of Ulysses than reared by Ulysses himselfe. Martiall the Poet likewise in this verse maketh mention of Caledonian beares:

Thus yeelded he his naked brest
To beare of Caledon forrest

Plutarch also hath written that Beares were brought out of Britaine to Rome, and had there in great admiration: whereas notwithstanding, Britaine for these many ages hath bred none. What Caledonian monster that should be whereof Claudian wrote thus,

With monster Caledonian Britaine all attired,

to tell you the truth, I know not, Certes, it nourished in times past a number of white wild buls with thicke manes in maner of Lions (but in these daies few), and those very cruell, fierce, and so hatefull of mankind that for a certaine time they abhorre whatsoever they had either handled or breathed upon; yea, they utterly skorne the forcible strength of dogges, albeit Rome in times past wondered so much at the fiercenesse of Scottish dogges that it was thought there they were brought thither within yron grates and cages. Well, this tearme and name Caledonii grew so rife with Roman writers that they used it for all Britaine, and for all woods of Britaine whatsoever. Heereupon Lucius Florus writeth that Caesar followed the Britans unto the Caledonian woods, and yet he never saw them in this life. Hence also Valerius Flaccus writeth thus to Vespasian the Emperour:

Caledonius postquam tua carbasa vexit

That is, the British Ocean. Hence likewise it is that Statius versified thus unto Crispinus sonne of Vectius Volanus Propretour of Britaine about the time of Vitellius:

How much renowned shall the fields of Caledonia bee,
When as some old inhabitant of that fierce land to thee
Shall in these tearmes report and say? Behold, thy father oft
Was wont in Judgement heere to sit, upon this banke aloft
To th' armed troups to speake. It was he that walled this fort
That built thus strong, and it with ditch entrenched in this sort.
By him to Gods of warre these gift and arms were consecrate,
The titles (lo) are extant yet. Himselfe this brave brest plate
In time of battaile did put on, this cuirace finally
In fight he pluckt by force of armes from King of Britannie.

2. But in these as in other things I may say,

Poeticall licence is boundlesse.

For neither Caesar nor Volanus so much as ever knew the Caledonians. In Plinies time, as himselfe witnesseth, thirty yeeres almost after Claudius the Romaines with all their warlicke expeditions had discovered no farther in Britaine than to the Vicinity of the Caledonian Wood. For Julius Agricola under Domitian was the first that entred Caledonia, whereof at that present Galgac was Prince (who is named Galuac ap Liennauc in the Booke of Triplicites under the three worthies of Britaine), a man of the ninth Legion, in exceeding heat of courage joined battaile with the Romans and most manfully defended his country so long, untill fortune rather than his owne valour failed him. For then, as he saith, These Northern Britans beyond whom there was no land, and beside whom none were free , were the utmost nation verily of this Iland, like as Catullus called the Britans the utmost of all the world in that verse unto Furius:

Great Caesars Monuments to see in his memoriall,
The Rhene in Gaull, and Britans grim, the farthest men of all.

In the daies of Severus, as we read in Xiphilinus, Argetecox a pety Prince reigned over this tract, whose wife being rated and reviled as an adulteresse by Julia the Empresse, frankly and boldly made this answere: We Britaine dames have to doe with the bravest and best men, and you Romaine Ladies with every lewd base companion secretely.


IN this large country of the Caledonians, beyond the Territorie of Sterlin, whereof I wrote last, and two countries or Sherifdomes of lesse note, Clackmans, over which a Knight named de Carsse, and Kinrosse, over which the Earle of Morton are Sheriffes, Fife a most goodly Biland, wedged, as it were, betweene the two armes of the Sea, Forth and Tau, shooteth out farre into the East. This land yeeldeth plenty of corne and forage, yea and of pit coles. The sea, besides other fishes, affordeth Oisters and shelfish in great abundance, and the coasts are well bespred with prety townlets replenished with stout and lusty mariners. In the South-side heereof by Forth, first appeereth Westward Cul-ros, which giveth the title of a Baronie to Sir John Colvil; then standeth Dunfermling a famous monasterie in old time, both the building and buriall place of King Malcolm the Third. But now it giveth both name and honor of an Earle unto Sir Alexander Seton a most prudent Councellor, whom lately James King of Great Britain worthily raised from Baron of Fivy to be Earle of Dumfermling and Lord Chancellour of the realme of Scotland. Then Kingshorne standeth hard upon the Forth, from which place Sir Patricke Lion, Baron Glamys, lately received at the bountifull hand of King James the Sixth the title and honor of an Earle. After this, there is upon the shore Disert, situate on the rising of an hill, from whence there lieth an open Heath of the same name, where there is a good large place which they call The Cole-plot, that hath great plenty of an earthy Bitumen and partly burneth, to some damage of the inhabitants. Unto it adjoineth Ravins-Heuch, as one would say, The steepe hill of Ravens , the habitation of the Barons Sincleir. Above it, the river Leven hideth himselfe in the Forth: which river, running out of the Lake Levin, wherein standeth a Castle of the Douglasses now Earles of Morton, hath at the very mouth of it Wemmis Castle, the seat of a noble family bearing the same surname: which King James the Sixth hath of late honored with the dignity of a Baron. From hence the shore draweth backe with a crooked and winding tract unto Fife-nesse, that is, The Promontorie or Nose of Fife. Above it Saint Andrews, and Archiepiscopall Citie hath a faire prospect into the open maine sea. The more ancient name of the place, as old memoriales witnesse, was Regimund, that is, Saint Regulus mount , in which read thus, Oeng or Ung, King of the Picts, graunted unto God and Saint Andrew,. that it should be the chiefe and mother of all Churches in the Picts Kingdome. Afterward there was placed heere an Episcopall See, the Bishops whereof like as well the rest within the Kingdome of Scotland were consecrated by the Archbishop of Yorke, untill at the intercession of King James the Third, by reason of so many warres betweene the Scottish and Englishmen, Pope Sixtus the Fourth ordained the Bishop of Saint Andrews to bee Primate and Metropolitan of all Scotland; and Pope Innocentius the Eight bound him and his successours to the imitation and precedent of the Metropolitane of Canterburie in these words: That in matters concerning the Archiepiscopall state, they should observe and firmely hold the offices, droits and rights of Primacy, and such like Legacy, and the free exercise thereof, the honours, charges, and profits, and that they should endevour to performe inviolably the laudable customes of the famous Metropolitane Church of Canterburie, the Arch-Bishop whereof is legatus natus of the Kingdome of England &. Howbeit, before that, Laurence Ludoris and Richard Corvel Doctors of the Civill Law publickly professed here good literature, laid the foundation of an University, which now for happy encrease of learned men, for three colledges, and the Kings Professours in them, is become highly renowned. In commendation whereof Maister Jonston, the Kings Professour there in Divinity, hath made these verses:


Seated it is hard by the sea et even and equall bounds
Of streates; how well enclosed besides with fat and fertile grounds!
Whilom, when prelats state was great and glorious withall,
There flourish'd heere in sumpteous port a See pontificall.
Now Schooles it shews and Colledges, both Gods and mans delight,
To Muses which be dedicate and built to stately height.
Heere Phaebus hath his shady grove, heere dwell the Sisters nine,
And chiefe of them the Lady bright, Uranie divine.
When I was returned from farre coasts of Germanie,
With welcome kind heere did me place in chaire of high degree.
Most happy towne, wist it what were the gifts of learning true,
The blessed Kingdome if withall of God in heaven it knew.
All plagues, good God, all nocive
[harmful] things to Muses, hence repell,
That in this Citie, Godlinesse and Peace may jointly dwell.

2. Hard by there looseth it selfe in the sea Eden or Ethan a little river, which, springing up neere unto Falkland (belonging in times past to the Earles of Fife, but now a retyring place of the Kings, very well seated for hunting pleasures and disports) runneth under a continued ridge of hilles, which devide this country in the mids, by Struthers (a place so called of a Reede plot) a Castle of the Barons Lindsey, and by Cupre a notable Bourough, where the Sheriffe sitteth to minister justice. Concerning which the same John Jonston hath thus versified:

By rich corn fields, by shady woods and pastures fresh among,
The river Eden glideth soft, with cristall streame along.
Hitheply may he thinke he hath a sight againe of France.
What? Drew this place from thence their wit and spirit hote trow
[think] yee?
Or rather had the same at first by native propretie?

3. Now, where the shore turneth inward a front Northward,. hard by the salt water of Tau, there flourished in old time two goodly Abbaies, Balmerinoch, built by Queene Ermengard, wife to King William daughter of VIcount Beaumont in France. But lately King James of Great Britaine advanced Sir James Elphinston to the honor of Baron Balmerinoch; and Lundoris, founded among the woods by David Earle of Huntington, and at this day the Baronie of Sir Patricke Lesley; betweene which standeth Banbrich, the habitation of the Earle of Rothes, strongly built castle wise. But as touching the townes of Fife planted along the sea side, have heere now if it please you these verses of Maister Jonston:

Who sees how thicke towns stand upon this coast will say anone
They are but one, and yet the same all joined in that one.
How many sands on crooked shore of Forth are cast by tides,
Or billowes at the seas returne beat hard upon bankes sides.
So many ships well nere you may heere see to saile or ride,
And in those townes so thicke almost as many folke abide.
In every house they ply their worke, no idle drones they are:
Busie at home with diligence, busie abroad with care.
What seas or lands are there to which a voiage for to make
In britle barkes will not their youth courageous undertake?
By valour be they growne to welth, yet valour meet with paines,
And perils too: some losses to have they had with their gaines.
These things have made them valiant, civill withall and courteous.
Losse, perill, painfull toile availe all such as be magnanimous.

4. The governour of this province, like as of all the rest in this Kingdome, was in times past a Thane, that is, in the old English tongue, The Kings MInister , as it is also at this day in the Danish language. But Malcolm Canmore made Macduffe, who before was Thane of Fife, the first hereditarie Earle of Fife, and in consideration of his good desert and singular service done unto him, granted that his posterity should have the honor to place the King when he is to be crowned in his chaire, to lead the Vantgard of the Kings armie, and if any of them should happen by casualty to kill either Gentleman or commoner, to buy it out with a peece of money. And not farre from Lundoris there is to be seene a Crosse of stone, which, standing for a limite betweene Fife and Strathern, had an inscription of barbarous verses, and a certain priviledge of Sanctuary, that if any Manslear allied to Mac-duffe Earle of Fife within the ninth degree, if he came unto this Crosse and gave nine kine with an heipher, should be quit of manslaughter. When his posterity lost this title, I could never yet find. But it appeereth out of the Records of the Kingdome that King David the Second gave unto William Ramsey this Earledome with all and every the immunities and law which is called Clan-Mac-Duffe , and received it is for certaine that the lineage of the Wemesies and Douglasse, yea and that great kinred Clan-Hatan , the chiefe whereof is Mac-Intoskech, descended from them. And the most learned John Skerne, Clerke of the Kings register of Scotland, hath taught me in his significations of words that Isabell daughter and heire to Duncane Earle of Fife, granted upon certaine conditions unto Robert the Third King of the Scots for the use and behoufe of Robert Stewart Earle of Menteith, the Earledome of Fife: who being afterwards Duke of Albanie and affecting the Kingdome with cruell ambition caused David the Kings eldest sonne to be most pitifully famished to death, which is highest extremity of all miserie. But his sonne Murdac suffred due punishment for the wickednesse both of his father and his owne sonnes, being put to death by King James the First for their violent oppressions, and a decree passed that the Earledome of Fife should be united unto the Crowne for ever. But the authority of the Sheriffe of Fife belongeth in right of inheritance to the Earles of Rothes.


AS farre as to the river Tau, which boundeth Fife on the North-side, Julius Agricola, the best Properetour of Britaine, under Domitian, the worst Emperour, marched with victorious armes in the third yeere of his warlicke expeditions, having wasted and spoiled the nations thitherto. Neere the out-let of Tau, the notable river Ern intermingleth his waters with Tau: which river, beginning out of a Lake or Loch of the same name, bestoweth his owne name upon the country through which he runneth. For it is called Straith Ern, which in the ancient tongue of the Britans signifieth the Vale along Ern. The banke of this Ern is beautified with Drimein Castle, belonging to the family of the Barons of Dromund, advanced to highest honors ever since that King Robert Stewart the Third tooke to him a wife out of that linage. For the women of this race have for their singular beauty and well favoured sweete countenance wonne the prize from all others, insomuch as they have beene the Kings most amiable paramours.

2. Upon the same banke Tulibardin Castle sheweth it selfe aloft, but with greater joility, since that by the propitious favour of King James the Sixth, Sir John Murray Baron of Tulibardin was raised to the honor and estate of Earle of Tulibardin. Upon the other banke, more beneath, Duplin Castle, the habitation of the Barons Oliphant, reporteth yet what an overthrow (the like to which was never before) the Englishmen that came to aide King Edward Balliol gave there unto the Scots, in so much as the English writers in that time doe write that they wonne this victorie not by mans hand but by the power of God, and the Scotish writers relate how that out of the family of the Lindesies there were slaine in the field forreskore persons, and that the name of the Haies had bin quite extinguished, but that the chiefe of that house left his wife behind him great with child. Not farre from it standeth Innermeth, well knowen by reason of the Lords thereof, the Stewarts ‡out of the family of Lorn-Inch-Chafra , that is, in the old Scotish tongue, The Isle of Masses , hereby may be remembred, whenas it was a most famous Abbay of the order of Saint Augustin, founded by the Earle of Strathern about the yeere 1200.‡

3. When Ern hath joined his water with Tau in one streame, so that Tau is now become more spatious, he looketh up to Aberneth seated upon his banke, the roiall seat in old time of the Picts and a well peopled Citie, which, as we read in an ancient fragment, Nectane King of the Picts gave unto God and Saint Brigide untill the day of Dome, together with the bounds thereof, which lie from a stone in Abertrent unto a stone nigh to Carfull , that is, Loghfoll, and from thence as farre as to Ethan. But long after it became the possession of the Douglasses Earles of Anguse, who are called Lords of Abereneth, and there some of them lie enterred.

The first Earle of Strathern that I read of ‡was Malisse who in the time of King Henrie the Third of England married one of the heires of Robert Muschamp a potent Baron of England. Long afterward‡ Robert Stewart in the yeere 1380. Then David a younger sonne of King Robert the Second, whose onely daughter, given in marriage to Patrick Graham, begat Mailise or Melisse Graham, from whom King James the First tooke away the Earldome as escheated after that he understood out of the Records of the Kingdome that it was given unto his mothers grandfather and the heires males of his body. This territory, as also that of Menteith adjoining, the Barons Dromund governe hereditarily by Seneschals authority as their Stewarties.

4. Menteith hath the name of Teith, a river, which they also call Taich, and thereof this little province they tearme in Latin Taichia: upon the banke of which lieth the Bishopricke of Dunblan, which King David the First of that name erected. At Kirkbird, that is, Saint Brigids Church , the Earles of Menteith have their principall house or Honour, as also the Earles of Montrosse comming from the same stocke at Kin-Kardin not farre off. This Menteith reacheth, as I have heard, unto the mountaines that enclose the East-side of the Logh or Lake Lomund. The ancient Earls of Monteth were of the family of Cumen, which in times past, being the most spred and mightiest house of all Scotland, was ruinated with the over-weight and sway thereof, but the latter Earles were of the Grahams line, ever since that Sir Mailise Graham attained to the honor of an Earle.


BEYOND the Lake Lomund and the West part of Lennox, there spreadeth it self nere unto Dunbriton Forth the large country called Argathelia and Argadia in Latin, but commonly Argile, more truely Argathel and Ar-Gwithil , that is, Neere unto the Irish , or, as old writings have it, The Edge or border of Ireland, for it lieth toward Ireland. The country runneth out in length and breadth, all mangled with fishfull pooles, and in some places with rising mountaines very commodious for feeding of cattaile, in which also there range up and downe wild kine and red Deere. But along the shore it is more unpleasant in sight, what with rockes, and what with blackish baraine mountaines. In this part, as Bede writeth, Britaine received after the Britans and Picts a third nation of Scots in that country where the Picts inhabited: who comming out of Ireland Reuda, either through friendshippe or by dint of sword planted heere their seat amongst them, which they still hold. Of which their leader they are to this very daie called Dalreudini. For in their language dal signifieth a part. And a little after: Ireland (saith hee) is the proper Country of the Scots. For beeing departed out of it they added unto the Britans and Picts a third nation in Britaine. And there is a verie great Bay or arme of the sea that in old time severed the Nation of the Britans from the Picts, which from the West breaketh a great way into the land, where standeth the strongest City of all the Britans even to this day, cald Alchith. In the North part of which Bay the Scots aforesaid, when they came, gotte themselves a place to inhabite. Of that name Dalreudin , no remaines at all, to my knowledge, are now extant, neither finde wee any thing thereof in writers, unlesse it bee the same that Dalreita. For in an old pamphlet touching the division of Albanie wee read of one Kinnadie (who for certaine was a King of Scots and subdued the Picts) these very words: Kinnadie two yeeres before hee came in to Pictavia (for so it calleth the Country of the Picts) entred upon the Kingdome of Dalreita. Also, in an historie of later time there is mention made of Dalrea in some place of this tract, where King Robert Brus fought a field unfortunately.

2. That Justice should be ministred unto this Province by Justices Itinerant at Perth whensoever it pleased the King, King James the Fourth by authority of the States of the Kingdom enacted a law. But the Earles themselves have in some cases their roialties, as beeing men of very great command and authority, followed with a mighty traine of reteiners and dependents, who derive their race from the ancient Princes and potentates of Argile by an infinite descent of Ancestours, and from their castle Cambell tooke their surname. But the honour and title of Earle was given unto them by King James the Second, who, as it is recorded, invested Colin Lord Cambell Earle of Argile, in regard of his owne vertue and the worth of his familie. Whose heires and successours, standing in the gracious favor of the Kings, have beene Lords of Lorne and a good while Generall Justices of the Kingdome of Scotland, or, as they use to speake, Justices ordeined in Generall, and Great Maisters of the Kings roiall household.


LOGH Fin, a lake breeding such store of herings at a certaine due season as it is wonderfull, severeth Argile from a Promontorie, which for thirtie miles together growing still toward a sharpe pointe, thrusteth it selfe forth with so great a desire toward Ireland (betwixt which and it there is a narrow sea scarce thirteene miles over) as if it would conjoine it selfe. Ptolomee termeth the Promontorie Epidiorum, betweene which name and the Islands Ebeudae lying over against it there is, in my conceit, some affinity. At this day it is called in the Irish tongue (which they speake in all this tract) Can-tyre , that is, The lands Head. Inhabited by the Mac-Conells, a familie that heere swaieth much, howbeit at the pleasure and dispose of the Earles of Argile, yea and other whiles they make out their light pinnaces and gallies for Ireland to raise booties and pillage, who also hold in possession those little provinces of Ireland which they call Gilnes and Rowts. This Promontorie lieth annexed to Knapdale by so thinne a necke (as beeing scarce a mile broade and the same all sandie) that the mariners finde it the nerer way to convey their smal vessels over it by land. Which I hope a man may sooner beleeve than that the Argonauts laid their great ship Argos upon their shoulders, and so carried it along with them five hundred miles from Aemonia unto the shores of Thessalia.


SOMEWHAT higher toward the North lieth Lorn, bearing the best kinde of barly in great plenty, and divided with Leave a vast and huge lake: by which standeth Berogomum a castle, in which sometime was kept the Court of Justice or Session, and not farre from it Dunslafag , that is, Stephens Mount , the Kings house in times past, above which Logh Aber a Lake, insinuating it selfe from out of the Western sea, windeth it selfe so farre within land that it had conflowed together with Nesse, another Lake running into the East sea, but that certaine mountaines betweene kept them with a verie little partition asunder. The chiefest place of name in this tract is Tarbar in Logh Kinkeran, where King James the Fourth ordeined a Justice and Sheriffe to administer justice unto the inhabitants of the out Islands. These countries and those beyond them, in the yeere of our Lords Incarnation 605, the Picts held, whom Bede called the Northern Picts where hee reporteth that in the said yeere Columbane a Priest and Abbat, famous for his Monkish profession and life, came out of Ireland into Britaine to instruct these in Christian religion that by meanes of the high rough ridges of the mountaines were sequestered from the Southern countries of the Picts , and that they, in lieu of a reward, allowed unto him the Island Hii over against them, now called I-Comb-Kill , of which more in place convenient. The Lords of Lorna in the age aforegoing were the Stewarts, but now, by reason of a femall their heire, the Earles of Argile, who use this title in their honourable style.


MORE inwardly, where the inhabitable, lofty, and rugged ridges of the Mountaine Grampius beginne a little to slope and settle downward, is situate Braid-albin , that is, The heighest part of Scotland. For they that are the true and right Scots in deed call Scotland in their mother tongue Albin , like as that part where it mounteth up highest Drum Albin , that is, The Ridge of Scotland. But in an old booke it is read Brun Albin , where wee find this written: Fergus filius Eric &. , that is, Fergus the sonne of Eric was the first of the seede or line of Chonare that entred upon the Kingdome of Albanie, from Brun-Albain unto the Irish sea and Inch-Gall. And after him the Kings descended from the seede or race of Fergus reigned in Brun-Albaine or Brunhere unto Alpin the sonne of Rochall. But this Albanie is better knowne for the Dukes thereof than for any good guifts that the soile yeeldeth. The first Duke of Albanie that I read of was Robert Earle of Fife, whom his brother King Robert the Third of that name advanced to that honour, yet hee (ungratefull person that he was), pricked on with a spirit of Ambition, famished to death his sonne David, that was heire to the crown. But the punishment due for for this wicked fact, which himselfe by the long-sufferance of God felt not, his son Mordac the second Duke of Albanie suffered most greivously, being condemned for treason and beheaded, when hee had seene his two sonnes the daie before executed in the same manner. The third Duke of Albanie was Alexander, second sonne to King James the Second, who beeing Regent of the Kingdome, Earle of March, Marr, and Garioth, Lord of Annandale and of Mann, was by his owne brother King James the Third outlawed, and after hee had beene turmoiled with many troubles, in the end, as hee stood by to behold a Justs and Tourneaments in Paris, chanced to bee wounded with a peece of a shattered launce, and so died. His sonne John, the fourth Duke of Albanie, Regent likewise and made Tutor to King James he Fifth, taking contentment in the pleasant delights of the French Court, after hee had wedded there the daughter and one of the heires of John Earle of Auvergne and Lauragveze, died there without issue. Whom in a respected reverence to the bloud roiall of the Scots, Francis the First, King of France, gave thus much honour unto, as that he allowed him place betweene the Archbishop of Langres and the Duke of Alenson, Peeres of France. After his death, there was no Duke of Albanie untill that Queene Marie in our memorie conferred this title upon Henry Lord Darley, whom within some few daies after shee made her husband, like as King James the Sixth granted the same unto his owne second sonne Charles, being an Infant, who is now Duke of Yorke.

2. There inhabite these regions a kinde of people, rude, warlicke, ready to fight, querulous, and mischeevous. They be commonly termed High-landmen, who being in deed the right progeny of the ancient Scots, speake Irish and call themselves Albinich. Their bodies be firmely made and well compact, able withall and strong, nimble of foote, high minded, inbread and nuzeld [practiced] in warlick exercises or robberies rather, and upon a deadly fued and hatred most forward and desperate to take revenge. They goe attired Irish-like in stript or streaked mantles of divers collours, wearing thicke and long glibbes [locks] of haire, living by hunting, fishing, fowling, and stealing. In the warre, their armour is an head-peece or Morion [helmet] of iron, and an habergeon or coate of maile. Their weopons bee bowes, barbed or hooked arrowes, and broade backswordes: and beeing divided by certaine families or kinreds which they terme Clannes, they commit such cruell outrages, what with robbing, spoiling and killing, that their savage cruelty hath forced a law to bee enacted whereby it is lawfull that if any person out of any one Clanne or kinred of theirs hath trespassed ought and done harme, whosoever of that Clanne or linage chance to bee taken, hee shall either make amends for the harmes, or else suffer death for it, ‡whenas the whole Clan commonly beareth feud for any hurt received by any one member thereof, by execution of lawes, order of justice, or otherwise.‡


OUT of the very bosome of Mountaines of Albanie, Tau the greatest river of all Scotland issueth, and first runneth amaine through the fields, untill that, spreading broad into a like full of Islands, he restreineth and keepeth in his course. Then, gathering himselfe narrow within his bankes into a chanell, and watering Perth, a large, plentiful and rich country, he taketh in unto him Armund a small river comming out of Athol.

2. This Athol, that I may digresse a little out of my way, is infamous for witches and wicked women. The country, otherwise fertile enough, hath valleies bespred with forests, namely where that Wood Caledonia, dreadful to see to for the sundry turnings and windings in and out therein, for the hideous horror of darke shade, for the Burrowes and dennes of wilde bulles with thicke manes (whereof I made mention heretofore), extended it selfe in old time farre and wide every way in these parts. As for the places herein, they are of no great account, but the Earles thereof are very memorable. Thomas, a younger sonne of Rolland of Galloway, was in his wives right Earle of Athol, whose sonne Patricke was by the Bissets his concurrents [rivals] murdered in feude at Handington in his bedchamber, and forthwith the whole house wherein hee lodged burnt, that it might bee supposed he perished by casualty of fire. In the Earldome, there succeeded David Hastings, who had married the aunt by the mothers side of Patricke: whose sonne that David surnamed Of Strathbogy may seeme to bee, who a little after in the reigne of Henry the Third King of England, beeing Earle of Athol, married one of the daughters and heires of Richard base sonne to John King of England, and had with her a very goodly inheritance in England. Shee bare unto him two sonnes, John Earle of Athol, who, beeing of a variable disposition and untrusty, was hanged up aloft on a gallowes fiftie foote hight, and David, Earle of Athol, unto whom by marriage with one of the daughters and heires of John Comin of Bazenoth, by one of the heires of Aumar de Valence Earle of Penbroch, there fell great lands and possessions. His sonne David, who under King Edward the Second was otherwhiles amongst English Earles summoned to the Parliaments in England, and under King Edward Balliol made Lord Lieutenant Generall of Scotland, was vanquished by the valourous prowesse of Andrew de Murray and slaine in battaile within the Forest of Kelblen in the yeere of our Lord 1335. And his sonne David left two yong daughters onely, Elizabeth wedded unto Sir Thomas Percie, from whom the Barons of Borrough are descended, and Philip married to Sir Thomas Halsham an English Knight. Then fell the title of Athol unto that Walter Stewart sonne to King Robert the Second, who cruellie murdered James the First, King of Scotland, and for this execrable cruelty suffered most condigne punishement accordingly, in so much as Aeneas Sylvius Embassadour at that time in Scotland from Pope Eugenius the Fourth, gave out this speech, That hee could not tell whether hee should give them greater commendations that revenged the Kings death, or band them with sharper censure of condemnation that disteined themselves with so hanious a paricide. After some few yeeres passed betweene, this honour was granted unto John Stewart of the family of Lorne, the sonne of James surnamed The Black Knight, by Joan the widow of King James the First, daughter to John Earle of Somerset and Neice to John of Gant Duke of Lancaster, whose posterity at this day enjoy the same.

3. Tau, bearing now a bigger streame by receiving Almund unto him, holdeth on his course to Dunkelden, adorned by King David with an Episcopall See. Most writers, grounding upon the signification of that word, suppose it to be a towne of the Caledonians, and interprete it The mount or Hill of Hazeles , as who would have that name given unto it of the Hazel trees in the wood Caledonia. From hence the Tau goeth forward by the carkasse of Berth a little desolate City, remembring well enough what a great losse and calamitie hee brought upon it in times past when with an extraordinary swelling floud hee surrounded all the fields, laid the goodlie standing corne along on the ground, and carried headlong away with him this poore City with the Kings child and infant in his cradle and the inhabitants therein. In steed whereof, in a more commodious place, King William builded Perth, which straightwaies became so wealthy that Necham, who lived in that age, versified of it in this manner:

By villages, by townes, by Perth thou runn'st, great Tay, amaine,
The riches of this Citie Perth doth all the realme sustaine.

4. But the posterity ensuing called it of a Church founded in honour of Saint John, Saint Johns towne, and the English, whiles the warres were hote betweene the Bruses and the Balliols, fortified it with great bulwarkes, which the Scots afterwards for the most part overthrew and dismantled it themselves. Howbeit, it is a proper prety City, pleasantly seated betweene two Greens, and for all that some of the Churches be destroied, yet a goodly shew it maketh, ranged and set out in such uniforme manner that in every several streat almost there dwell several artificers by themselves, and the river Tau bringeth up with the tide sea commodities by lighters. Whereupon John Jonston, so often now by me cited, writeth thus:


Nere to the waters clere of Tai, and pleasant places all greene,
In middle ground betweene them stands Perth, proudly like a Queene.
Of Noble kings the stately seat and palace once it was,
Faire for the site, and ritch withall for spring of corne and grasse.
To neighbour places all it doth lawes, customes, fashions give:
Her praise to give, theirs, to deserve the same for to receive.
Of all the Cities in these parts, walled alone is she,
Least she to foes continuall a scumbling prey might be.
What Knights she bred, and what rewards they wonne to knighthood due,
Danes, Saxons fierce, bold Britans eke the Romanes of-spring knew.
Happy for praises old, happie for praises new of late,
New as thou art, thine honour old strive to perpetuate.

And now of late King James the Sixth hath erected it to the title of an Earldome, having created James Baron Dromund Earle of Perth.

5. Unto Perth these places are neare neighbours. Methven, which Margaret an English Lady, widow unto King James the Fourth, purchased with ready mony for her third husband Henry Steward descended of the roiall bloud, and for his heires, and withall obteined of her sonne King James the Fifth for him the dignity of a Baron. More beneath is Rethuen a castle of the Rethuens, whose name is of damned memory, considering that the three states of the kingdome hath ordeined that whosoever were of that name should forgoe the same and take unto them a new, after that the Rethuens, brethren in a most cursed and horrible conspiracie, had complotted to murder their soveraigne King James the Sixth, who had created William their father Earle of Goury, and afterward beheaded him, being lawfully convicted when he would insolently prescribe lawes to his soveraigne. But of men condemned to perpetuall oblivion I may seeme to have said over much, although it concerneth posterity also for a Caveat, that wicked generations be notified, ‡as wel as noysome weeds and venemous plants.‡

6. As for the Country Goury aforesaid, famous for the corne fields and singular fertility of the soile, it lieth more plaine and flat along the other banke of Tay. In this tract over against Perth, on the farther side of Tay standeth Scone, a renowned monastery in old time, and of reverend respect for the coronation therein of the Kings of Scotland, since that time King Kenith, having hard by put the Picts for the most part to the sword, placed a stone heere enclosed within a chaire of wood for inauguration of the Kings of Scotland, that had bin transported out of Ireland into Argile. Which stone Edward the first, King of England, caused to be conveied unto Westminster. Touching which I have put downe this prophesie so rife in every mans mouth, since it hath now proved true and taken effect, as very few of that sort doe:

Except old sawes be in vaine,
And wits of wisards blind,
The Scots in place must raigne
Where they this stone shall finde.

But now Scone giveth title of Baron of Scone to Sir David Murray, whom King James for his good service advanced lately to that honor.

7. Where Tay, now growen bigger, enlargeth himselfe, there appeareth over it Arrol, the habitation of the noble Earles of Arrol, who ever since the Bruises daies have beene by inheritance the Constables of Scotland, and verily they deduce an ancient pedigree from one Hay, a man of exceeding strength and excellent courage, who together with his sinnes, in a dangerous battaile of Scots against the Danes at Longcarty, caught up an Oxe yoke, and so valiantly and fortunately withall, what with fighting and what with exhorting, reenforced the Scots at the point to shrinke and recule [run away], that they had the day of the Danes, and the King with the States of the kingdome ascribed the victory and their owne safety unto his valour and prowesse. Whereupon in this place the most battle [fertile] and fruitful grounds were assigned unto him and his heires, who in testimony hereof have set over their coat a yoke for their creast over their Armes, three Escotcheons Geules in Argent. Touching Huntley castle, that joyneth unto it, I have nothing to write but that it hath given title to a very potent, great, and honorable family, whereof I am to speake hereafter.


BY the out-let or mouth of Tay, and more within beside the river North-Eske, Anguis, called by the naturall and true Scots Aeneia , lyeth extended with goodly fields bearing wheat and corne of all kinds plentifully, with large hilles also and pooles, forrests, pastures, and meedowes, and also garnished with many forts and castles. In the very first entry into it from Goury standeth Glamis, a castle and the Baronie of a family surnamed Lions, which arose to honor and reputation ever since that Sir John Lion, standing in the high favour of King Robert the Second, received this and the dignity of a Baron with the Kings daughter for her marriage portion, and therewith, as I find written, the surname of Lion with a Lion in his Armes within a Treassure Floury , as the Kings themselves do beare, but in different colours, like as Sir Patrick Lion Lord Glamys, who now liveth, was advanced very lately by King James the Sixth of that name to the honor of the Earle of Kinghorn.

Not farre hence standeth Forfare, where for the administration of justice the Barons Greies are hereditary Sheriffes, who, being descended from the Greies of Chillingham in the county of Northumberland, came into Scotland with King James the First at his returne out of England. Upon the first of whom, named Andrew, the King of his bounteous liberality bestowed the Seignorie of Foulis, together with Helen Mortimer in marriage for his advancement.

2. Hard by the mouth of Tay is situate Dundee, sometimes called Alectum. Others terme it in Latin Taodunum , a towne verily of great resort and trade, and the Constable whereof by a speciall priviledge is Standerdbearer to the King of Scots. Hector Boetius, who was heere borne, expounded this name Dundee by way of allusion to Donum Dei , that is, Gods gift. This Hector in the reflourishing time of learning wrote the Scottish historie elegantly, and that out of such hidden and farre fetched monuments of antiquity that Paulus Jovius wondred in his writings there should be records extant for above a thousand yeeres of these remote parts of the world, Scotland, the Hebrides, and the Orcades, considering that Italie, the nource of fine wits, for so many ages after the Goths were cast out was defective of writers and records. But of this place Maister Johnston, borne not farre from it, writeth thus:


Where Southwind with his whistling blasts aloft doth mildly blow,
There Tay with streame and Sea with tide doe friendly goe.
And heere Dundee, ships under saile harbring in gentle road,
The wide worlds wealth to Inlanders both sells and sends abroad.
By wiles betraied, by force assaild oft times like to have beene,
With heart undanted to this day it stands sound to be seene.
With new springs of Religion her old fame more did grow.
Hence shone pure light, hence to the rest cleere beames full bright did show.
At first Alectum clep'd it was. But if you marke withall
Her gifts so great, perhaps you will it Donum Dei call.
Thou, Boeth, now this peoples praise and Cities joy for ay,
The blessings all besides of thine owne native place shalt say.

3. From hence standeth within sight Brochty-cragge, a good fortresse which the English garison-souldiers manfully defended and made good for many moneths together, what time as in their affectionate love to a perpetuall peace they desired and wished for a marriage betweene Marie, heire apparant of Scotland, and Edward the Sixth King of England, and upon promise thereof demanded it by force of armes, and in the end of their owne accord abandoned the said piece. Then there lieth full against the open Ocean Aberbroth, short Arbroth, a place endowed with ample revenewes and by King Wiliam dedicated in old time to Religion, in honor of Thomas of Canterbury. Beside which the Red-head shooteth into the deepe sea, and is to be seene afarre off. Hard by, South Eske voideth it selfe into the Ocean; which river, flowing amaine out of a Lake, passeth by Finnevim Castle, well knowen by reason of the Lindesaies Earles of Crawford keeping residence there, of whom I have already written. Then upon the said river standeth Brechin, which King David the First adourned with a Bishops See, and at the very mouth thereof Mont-rose, as one would say, the Mount of Roses , a towne in times past called Celurca, risen by the fall of another towne bearing the same name, which is seated betweene the two Eskes, and imparteth the title of Earle to the family of the Grahams. Concerning which towne, Jonston hath these verses:


With Roses gay the towne is deckt, a easie Mount withall
Stands neare the same, and hence, they say, Mont-rose folke did it call.
In former times by ancient name Celurca men it knew.
Ennobled thus you see it is by name both old and new.
Both old and new renowne it hath for proesse and for wit,
Of men that have their country grac'd and honor wonne to it.

Not farre from hence is Boschain, belonging to the Barons of Ogilvy, of very ancient nobility, lineally descended from Alexander Sheriffe of Angus, who was slaine in the bloudy battaile at Harley against the Mac Donald of the out Isles.

4. As touching the Earles of Angus, Gilchrist of Angus, renowned for his brave exploits under King Malcolm the Fourth, was the first Earle of Angus that I read off. About the yeere 1242 John Comin was Earle of Angus, who died in France, and his widow (happly inheritrice to the Earledome) was married to Sir Gilbert Umfranvill an Englishman. For both he and his heires successively after him were sommoned to the Parliaments in England (untill the third yeere of King Richard the Second) by the titles of Earles of Angus. Howbeit, the Lawyers of England refused it their Brieves and instruments to acknowledge him Earle, for that Angus was not within the Kingdome of England, untill he had brought openly in the face of the Court the Kings writ and warrant, where in he was sommoned to the Parliament by the name of Earle of Angus. In the reigne of David Brus, Thomas Stewart was Earle of Angus, who by a sudden surprise wonne Barwicke and streightwaies lost it; yea, and within a while after died miserably in prison at Dunbritton. But the Douglasses, men of hauty mindes and invincible hearts, from the time of King Robert the Third have beene Earles of Angus (after that George Douglasse had taken to wife the Kings daughter), reputed the chiefe and principall Earles of Scotland, and to whom this office belongeth to carrie the regall crowne before the Kings at all the solemne assemblies of the kingdome. The sixth Earle of Angus out of this stocke was Archebald, who espoused Margaret daughter to Henrie the Seventh King of England, and mother James the Fifth King of Scots, by whom he had issue Margaret wife to Matthew Stewart Earle of Lennox, who after her brothers decease that died childlesse, willingly resigned up her right and interest in this Earledome unto Sir David Douglasse of Peteindreich her unkles sonne by the fathers side, and that with the consent of her husband and sonnes, to the end that she might bind the surer unto herselfe by the linke also of a beneficiall demerite [favor] that family, which otherwise in bloud was most neere, what time as Henrie her sonne went about to wed Marie the Queene; by which marriage King James our soveraigne, the mighty Monarch of Great Britaine, was happily borne to the good of all Britaine.


THESE regions were in Ptolemeis time inhabited by the Vernicones, the same, perhaps, that the Veturiones mentioned by Marcellinus. But this their name is now quite gone, unlesse we would imagine some little peece thereof to remaine in Mernis. For many times in common speech of the British tongue V turneth into M. This small province Mernis, abutting upon the German Ocean, and of a rich and battle soile, lieth very well as a plaine and levell Champion [flatland]. But the most memorable place therein is Dunnotyr, a Castle advanced upon an high and unaccessible rocke, whence it looketh downe to the underflowing sea, well fensed with strong walles and turrets, which hath beene a long time the habitation of the Keiths, of an ancient and very noble stocke, who by the guidance of their vertue became hereditarie Earles Mareschals of the kingdome of Scotland, and Sheriffes of this province. In a porch or gallerie heere is to be seene that ancient inscription which I mentioned even now, of a companie belonging to the twentieth legion, the letters whereof the right noble and honorable Earle now living, a great lover of antiquity, caused to be guilded. Somewhat farther from the sea standeth Fordon, graced in some sort, and commendable in regard of John de Fordon, who being borne heere, deligently and with great paines compiled the Scoti Chronicon, that is, The Scotish Chronicle , unto whose laborious studies the Scotish Historiographers are very much indebted, but more glorious and renowned in old time for the reliques of Saint Palladius, bestowed and shrined sometime, as it is verily thought, in this place, who in the yere 431 was by Pope Caelestinus appointed the Apostle for the Scotish nation.


FROM the sea in the mediterranean or inland parts above Mernis, Mar enlargeth it selfe and runneth forward threeskoare miles or there about. Where it lieth broadest Westwards, it swelleth up with mountaines, unlesse it be where the rivers Dee, which Ptolomee calleth Diva, and Done make way for themselves and enfertile the fields. Upon the bank of Done, Kildrummy standeth as a faire ornament to the country, being the ancient seat of the Earles of Marre; and not farre distant from it, the habitation of the Barons Forbois, who, being issued from a noble and ancient stocke, assumed this surname, whereas before time they were called Bois after that the heire of that family had manfully killed a savage and cruell Beare. But at the very mouth of this river there be two townes that give greater ornament, which of the said mouth that in the British tongue they call aber , borrowing one name, are divided asunder by one little field lying betweene. The hithermore of them, which standeth neerer to Dee mouth, is much ennobled by an Episcopall dignity (which King David the First translated hither from Murthlake, a little village) by faire houses of the Chanons, a hospitall for poore people and a free Grammer school, which William Elphinston, Bishop of the place, in the yeere 1480 consecrated to the training up of youth, and is called New Aberdon. The other beyond it, named Old Aberdon, is most famous for the taking of Salmons. But John Jonston a native hereof in these his verses depeinteth Aberdon thus:

Beset with lofty tops of hilles, and Northward lying spred,
Among her sister-townes alone she beareth up her head.
The warme Sun-beames such temper give to sharpnesse of the aire
That neither skorching heat you need, nor pinching cold, to feare.
The sea, the fishfull rivers eke, with plenteous gulfes and streames
Make this place rich, and one of them enricheth it with gemmes.
Plaine-hearted men, of lightsome lookes and cheerefull, passing kind
To strangers, decent every thing neate you shall there find.
Their noble gentry ancient, their livings ancient were,
And their demenses, undanted hearts and martiall mindes they beare.
The Justice Hall, as mother kind, she honors due doth deigne
Professions all; art strives with it, and wits with arts againe.
All short of her. But praises all of this my genitresse
That shee deserv's, no wit nor art is able to expresse.

2. It is almost uncredible what abundance of Salmons as wel these rivers as others also in Scotland on both sides of the realme doe breed. This fish was altogether unknowne unto Plinie, unlesse it were that esox of the Rhene, but in this North part of Europe passing well knowne, shining and glittering (as he saith) with his read bowels. In Autumne they engender within little rivers and in shallow places for the most part, what time they cast their spane and cover it over with sand. And then they are so poore and leane that they seeme to have nothing else in maner but their small bones. Of that spawne in the spring next following there comes a frie of tender little fishes, which, making toward the sea, in a small time grow to their full bignesse; and in returning backe againe to seeke for the rivers wherein they were bred, they strive and struggle against the streame, and looke whatsoever lieth in their way to hinder their passage, with a jerke of their taile and a certaine leape (whence happly they had their name Salmons), to the wonder of the beholders they nimbly whip over and keepe themselves within these rivers of theirs, untill they breed. During which time it is enacted by law they should not be caught, namely from the feast of the Assumption of our Lady to the feast of Saint Andrew in Winter. And it should seeme they were reputed among the greatest commodities of Scotland, when likewise it was ordained that they should not be sold unto Englishmen but for English gold, and no other contentation [currency]. But these matters I leave for others.

3. To come now unto the Earles of Marre, in the reigne of Alexander the Third William Earle of Marre is named among those that were sore offended and displeased with the King. Whiles David Brus reigned, Donald Earle of Marre Protector of the Kingdom was before the battaile at Dyplin murdred in his bed by Edward Balliole and the Englishmen that came to aide him: whose daughter Isabell King Robert Brus tooke to be his former wife, on whom he begat Marjorie mother to Robert Stewart King of Scots. Under the same David there is mention also made of Thomas Earle of Marre, who was banished in the yeere 1361. Likewise in the reigne of Robert the Third, Alexander Stewart is named Earle of Marre, who in the battaile at Harley against the Ilanders lost his life in the yeere 1411. In the daies of King James the First, we read in Scots Chronicon thus: Alexander Earle of Marre died in the yeere 1435. The base sonne of Alexander Stewart Earle of Bucquan, sonne to Robert the Second King of Scots, after whom, as being a bastard, the King succeeded in the inheritance. John the second sonne of King James the Second afterwards bare this title, who being convict for attempting by art magicke to take away the King his brothers life, was let bloud to death. And after him Robert Cockeran was promoted from a Mason to this dignity by King James the Third, and soone after hanged by the Nobility. Since which time this honorable title was discontinued untill that Queene Marie adorned therewith James her bastard brother. And not long after, when it was found that by ancient right the title of Earle of Marre appertained to John Lord Ereskin, in lieu of Marre she conferred upon him the honour of Earle Murray, and created John Ereskin, a man of ancient and noble birth, Earle of Marre; whose sonne bearing the same Christian name now enjoieth also the same dignity, and is in both realmes one of the Kings privie Counsell.


THE Taizali mentioned by Ptolomee in ancient times inhabited where now Buquhan, in Latin Boghania and Buchania , above the river Done, beareth forth toward the German sea. Some derive this later name a bobus , that is, From Oxen and Kine , whereas notwithstanding the ground serveth better to feed sheepe, whose woole is highly commended. Albeit the rivers in this coast everywhere breed great store of Salmons, yet doe they never enter into the river Ratra, as Buchanan hath noted. Neither let it bee offensive if I cite his testimonie, although his bookes by authoritie of Parliament in the yeere 1584 were forbidden, because many things in them contained are to be dashed out. Who also hath written, that on the banke of Ratra there is a cave neere unto Strangs Castle, the nature whereof seemeth not to be passed over. The water, distilling by drops out of a Naturall Vault, presently turneth into Pyramidall stones, and were not the said cave or hole otherwhiles rid and clensed by mans labour, the whole space as far as up to the Vault would in short time be filled therewith. Now the stone thus engendred is of a middle nature betweene yce and hard stone, for it is brittle and easie to crumble, neither groweth it ever to the solidity and hardnesse of marble. Concerning those Claike-geese, which some with much admiration have beleeved to grow out of trees both upon this shore and else where, and when they be ripe to fall downe into the sea, it is scarce worth the labour to mention them. That there be little birds engendred of old and rotten Keeles of ships, they can beare witnesse who saw that ship wherein Francis Drake sailed about the world, standing in a docke neere the Tamis, to the outside of the Keele whereof a number of such little birds without life and fethers stucke close. Yet would I gladly thinke that the generation of these birds was not out of those logges of wood, but from the very Ocean, which the Poets tearmed the father of all things.

2. A mighty masse likewise of Ambar as big as the body of an horse was not many yeeres since cast upon this shore. The learned call it succinum, glessum, and chryso-electrum , and Sotacus supposed that it was a certaine juice or liquor which distilleth out of trees in Britaine and runneth downe into the sea, and is there hardned. Tacitus also was of the same opinion when he wrote thus: I can verily beleeve that, like as there be trees in the secret and inward parts of the East which sweat out Frankincense and balme, so in the Ilands and other countries of the West there be woods and groves of a more fatty and firme substance, which, melting by the hote beames of the sunne approching so neere, runneth into the sea hard by, and by force of tempests floteth up to the shores against it. But Serapio and the Philosophers of later times write that it ariseth out of a certaine clammy and bituminous earth under the sea and by the sea side, and that the billowes and tempests cast up part thereof a-land, and fishes devour the rest. But I digresse extravagantly. I will into my way againe, and since I acknowledge my fault, let my confession purchase pardon.

3. In the reigne of King Alexander the Second, Alexander Comin rose up to the honor of Earle of Buquhan, who married the daughter and one of the heires of Roger de Quincy Earle of Winchester in England, and his neice by a sonne brought the same title unto Henrie de Beaumont her husband: for he, in King Edward the Third his daies, had his place in the Parliament of England by the name of Earle of Buquhan. Afterwards, Alexander Stewart, sonne to King Robert the Second, was Earle of this place; unto whom succeeded John, a younger sonne of Robert Duke of Albanie, who arriving in France with seven thousand Scotishmen to aide Charles the Seventh King of France, bare himselfe valiantly and performed singular good service against the Englishmen, and that with so great commendation, as having victoriously slaine Thomas Duke of Clarence, brother to Henrie the Fifth King of England, at Baugy, and discomfited the English, hee was made Constable of France. But in the third yeere following, when the Fortune of warre turned, he with other most valiant Knights, to wit, Archebald Douglasse Earle of Wigton and Duke of Touraine &., was vanquished at Vernoil by the English and there slaine. Whom notwithstanding, as that Poet said,

France thankfully will ay recount as citizens of her owne,
On whom both titles glorious and tombs she hath bestowne.

Certes, whereas under the Kings Charles the Sixth and Seventh France was preserved and Aquitain recovered by thrusting out the English, the Frenchmen cannot chuse but acknowledge themselves much beholden to the fidelity and fortitude of the Scotish. But afterwards King James the First gave the Earledom of Buquhan unto George of Dunbar, moved thereto upon pity and commiseration because he had deprived him before of the Earldome of March by authority of Parliament for his fathers crime. And not long after, James, the son of James Stewart of Lorn surnamed the Black Knight, whom he had by Queene Joan sister to the Duke of Somerset and widdow to King James the First, obtained this honour and left to his posterity. But for default not long since of heires male, it came by a daughter married to Robert Douglas a younger brother of Douglas of Lochleven, to the family of the Douglases.

4. From Buquhan, as the shore bendeth backward and turneth full into the North, lieth Boena, and Bamff a small Sherifdome, also Aiuza a little territory of no especiall account, and Rothamay Castle the dwelling place of the Barons of Salton, surnamed Abernethy. Beneath these lieth Strath-bolgy, that is, the Vale by Bolgy , the habitation in times past of the Earles of Athol, who of it assume their surname, but now the principall seat of Marquesse Huntley. For this title King James the Sixth conferred upon George Gordon, Earle Huntley, Lord Gordon and Badzenoth, a man of great honour and reputation for his ancient noblenesse of birth and the multitude of his dependants and followers, whose ancesters, descended from the Setons, by Parliamentary authority tooke the name of Gordon (whenas Sir Alexander Steton had taken to wife the daughter of Sir John Gordon Knight, by whom he had a large and rich inheritance), and received the honour of Earle of Huntley at the hands of King James the Second in the yeere 1449.


THE Vacomagi, remembred by Ptolomee, anciently inhabited on the further side of Grantz-baine mountaine, which, as it were, in a continued range of hils hanging one by another drive out his ridge with many a winding as far as to Murray Frith, where now lieth Murray, in Latin Moravia , celebrated for the fertility, pleasant site, and commodity of fruitfull trees. By this Province Spey a famous river maketh his issew into the sea, wherin he lodgeth when he hath watered Rothes Castle, whence the family of the Lesleys tooke the title of Earle ever since that King James the Second conferred the honor of Earle of Rothes upon Sir George Lesley. Concerning this Spey, our Poet Necham hath thus written:

Spey raising heaps of sands amaine, that shift of times their place,
Inconstant he doth change eftsones, and keeps no certaine race.
A panier
[basket] serves heere for a boate, some venterous swaine it guides,
Who followeth still the rivers course while downe the stream it glides.

2. The river Loxa, mentioned by Ptolome, which now is called Losse, hideth himselfe in the sea hard by, neere unto which Elgina appeareth, in which and in Forres adjoining John of Dunbar of Cumnock, descended from the stocke of the Earles of March, hath his jurisdiction as Sherif by inheritance. But where it is now redy to enter into the Sea, he findeth a more plaine and soft soile, and spreadeth abroad into a Meere full of swans, wherein the Hearbe Olorina plentifully groweth, he hath Spiny Castle standing upon it, whereof now the first Baron is Alexander, of the linage of the Lyndsays, like as Kinlosse, also a neighbour by, sometimes a famous Monastery (some call it Kill-flos, of certaine flowers miraculously there springing up on a sodaine, when the carcase of King Duff, murdered and hidden in the same place, was found) hath also for the Lord thereof Edward Brus Maister of the Rols in England, and of the Kings Majesties Privy counsell, whom King James the Sixth created Baron Brus of Kinlosse. Thus much for the shore. More inward, where now standeth Bean Castle (thought to be Banatia that Ptolomee mentioneth), there was found in the yere 1460 a vessell of marble artificially engraven and full of Romane coine. Hard by is Nardin or Narne, an heritable Sherifdome of the Cambels of Lorne, where there stood within a Biland a fortresse of a mighty height, built with wonderfull bulwarkes, and in times past defended by the Danish forces against the Scotish. A little off is Loch-Nesse, a very great Lake, as reaching out 23 miles in the length, the water whereof is so warme that even in this cold and frozen climate it never freezeth: from which by a very small Isthim or partition of hils, the Logh Lutea or Lothea, which by Aber letteth it selfe forth into the West sea, is divided. Nere unto these Loghs there stood in old time two notable fortifications, the one named Innerness, the other Innerlothea, according to the names of the said Loghs. Innernes hath for Sheriff thereof by right of Inheritance the Marquesse Huntley, who is of great command heereabout. But have here what Maister Jonston hath written jointly of these two:


Two mighty forts and holds these were in ancient kingdomes daies,
The first wall'd fenses, as they say, that hand of Kings did raise.
Affront with towres oppos'd they stand. For one of them regards
The Western winde, but th' other lookes the Sun-rising towards.
On both sides they their rivers have, and rivers full of fish.
One hath an haven frequented aye, and safe as heart can wish.
Such was it once. But now, alas, to wast and desert fields
Is turn'd, and that which longed Kings to wilde beasts harbour yeelds.
The other yet draws breath, though deepe, and shewes that it doth live,
But over-match'd, to destine at length bucklers give.
What's now become of Carthage great? Where is that martiall Rome?
Where Troy? Of wealthy Asia the riches all and some?
No mervaile now that mortall weights to death be subject. Why?
Because you plainely see that townes and Cities great may die.

3. Under the reign of Robert Brus, Thomas Randolph his sisters sonne, who in his Countries behalfe undertooke exceeding great paines and most greivous quarrels, was highly renowned by the title of Earle of Murray. Under King Robert the Second, John of Dunbarre tooke to wife the Kings daughter, to make amends for for her devirgination, received this Earldome of Murray with her in marriage. Under King James the Second William Creichton Chancelour of the Realme and Archebald Douglas grew to great variance and aegre [sharp] contention about this Earledome, whenas against the lawes and ancient customes Douglas, who had married the younger daughter of James Dunbar Earle of Murray, was preferred to the Earldom before Creighton, who had wedded the elder, and that through the powrefull authority that William Earle of Douglasse had with the King, which was so great that he advanced not onely him to the Earledome of Murray, but also another brother to the Earledome of Ormund, and made two confines [kinsmen] of his Earles, the one of Angus, and the other of Morton. But this greatnesse of his, not to bee trusted upon because it was excessive, turned soone after to his owne confusion. Under King James the Fifth his owne brother, whom hee appointed his viceregent in the government of the Kingdome, enjoyed this honour. And within our remembrance, James the base sonne of King James the Fifth received this honour of Queene Marie his sister, but he requited her basely, when, conspiring with some few of the Nobility, hee deposed her from her Roiall estate and kingdome, a fowle precident and prejudiciall to all Kings and Princes. Which notwithstanding was revenged, for shortly after hee was shot through with a bullet. His onely daughter brought this title unto her husband Sir James Stewart of Downe, who was also of the bloud roiall from the Dukes of Albanie, who beeing slaine by his concurrents [rivals] left his sonne James to succeed him in this honour.


WHATSOEVER beyond the Nesse bendeth to the West coast and adjoineth to the Lake Aber is thereupon called Loghuabre, that is in the ancient tongue of the Britans, The mouth of the Lakes , as what lieth toward the North is commonly Rosse. Loquabre is full of fresh pastures and; woods, neither is without yron mines, but no so free in yeald of corne, but for most fishfull pooles and rivers scarce inferiour to any country thereabout. At Logh-Lothey, Innerlothey, fensed with a fort and well frequented with Merchants, as of great name and importance in times past, but being razed by the piracies and warres of Danes and Norwegians, it hath lien for these many ages so forlet that there remaineth scarce any shew of it, which those verses that I alledged even now doe imply.

2. Loqhuabre hath had, so farre as I have read, no Earls, but about the yeere of our salvation 1050 there was a Thane over it of great fame and much spoken of, named Banqhuo, whom Macbeth the bastard, when with murder and bloudshed he had usurped the crowne, being fearefull and suspitious, caused to be made away, for that he had learned by a Prophesie of certaine wise women that his posterity, when the line of Macbeth was expired and extinct, should one day obtaine the Kingdome, and by a long successive descent reigne in Scotland. which verily hath fallen out accordingly. For Fleanch the sonne of Banqhuo, who unknowen in the darke escaped the traines laid for him, fled into Wales, where for a time hee kept himselfe close, and having taken to wife Nesta the daughter of Griffith ap Lewellin Prince of North-Wales, begat Walter; who returning into Scotland, with so great fame of his fortitude repressed the rebellion of the Ilanders, and with as great wisdome managed the Kings revenews in this tract, that the King made him Seneschall, whom they commonly call Stewart, of the whole Kingdome of Scotland. Whereupon this name of Office imposed the surname Stewart unto his posterity, who spreading throughout all parts of Scotland into a number of noble branches, after many honors heaped upon them have flourished a long time, and from out of them, three hundred yeeres agoe and thirty, Robert Stewart by Majorie his mother, daughter to King Robert Brus, obtained the Kingdome of Scotland, and now lately James Stewart of that name the Sixth King of Scots, by Margaret his great grandmother, daughter to King Henry the Seventh (the divine powre of that most high and almighty Ruler of the world so disposing) is ascended, with the generall applause of all nations, to the height of Monarchicall Majestie over all Britaine and the Isles adjacent.


THE Province Rosse, so called from an old Scottish word which some interpret to be a Promontorie , others a Biland , was inhabited by the people named Cantae (which terme in effect implieth as much) in the time of Ptolomee. This extendeth it selfe so wide and large that it reacheth from one sea to the other. What way it beareth upon the Vergivian or Western Ocean, by reason of huge swelling mountaines advancing their heads aloft, and many woods among them, it is full of stagges, roe buckes, fallow Deere, and wild foule; but where it butteth up against the German sea it is more lovely bedect with corne fields and pastures, and withall much more civill. In the very first entrance into it, Ardmanoch, no small territory, whereof the second sonnes of the Kings of Scotland beare the title, riseth up with high mountaines that are most trusty preservers of snow. As touching their height, some have reported unto me strange wonders, and yet the ancient Geometers have written that neither the depth of sea, nor height of hills exceed by the plumb line tenne stadia, that is, one mile and a quarter. Which notwithstanding, they that have beheld Tenariffe amongst the Canarie Ilands, which is fifteene leagues high, and saile withall the Ocean neere unto them, will in no wise admit for truth. In this part standeth Lovet Castle and the Barony of the worthy family of the Frasers, whom for their singular good service for the Scottish kingdome, King James the Second accepted into the ranke of Barons; and whom the Clan-Ranalds, a most bloudie generation, in a quarrel and braule betweene them had wholy destroied every mothers sonne, but that by the providence of God fourescore of the principall persons of this family left their wives at home all great which child, who, being delivered of so many sonnes, renewed the house and multiplied the name againe.

2. But at Nesse mouth there flourished sometimes Chanonry, so called of a rich Colledge of Chanons whiles the Ecclesiasticall state stood in prosperity, in which there is erected a See for the Bishop of Rosse. Hard by is placed Cromarty, where Urqhuart, a gentleman of noble birth, by hereditary right from his ancestours ministreth justice as Sheriffe to this Sherifdome, and this is so commodious and safe an harbour for any fleet, be it never so great, that both Sailers and Geographers name it Portus Salutis , that is, The haven of safety.

Above it is Littus Altum , whereof Ptolomee maketh mention, caled now as it seemeth Tarbarth. For there in deed the shore riseth to a great height, enclosed on the one side with Cromer a most secure and fast haven, and on the other with Celnius, now Killian, the river. And thus much of the places toward the East Ocean. Into the West sea the river Longus, mentioned in Polomee, at this day named Lough Longus, runneth; then the Cerones anciently dwelt where now is Assinshire, a country much mangled with many inlets and Armes of the sea, inbosoming it selfe with manifold commodities.

3. As for the Earles of Rosse, it is full of difficulty to set them down in order successively out of writers. About foure hundred yeers past, we read that Ferqhuard flourished and enjoied this title. But for default of issue male it came by a daughter to Walter Lesley, who for his noble feats of armes, courageously atchieved under Lewis the Emperour, was worthily named The Noble Knight. Hee begat Alexander Earle of Ross, and a daughter married unto Donald Lord of the Islands Hebrides. This Alexander had issue one onely daughter, who made over by her deed all her owne title and unto Robert Duke of Albanie: whereat the said Donald of the Islands, being highly enchaufed [angry] and repining, stiled himselfe, in the reigne of James the Third, King of the Islands and Earle of Rosse, having with fire and sword laied wast his native country fare and nere. At length, the said King James the Third, by authority of Parliament, in the yeere 1476 annexed the Earledome of Rosse to the crowne, so as it might not be lawfull for his successours to alienate by any meanes from the crowne either the Earledome it selfe or any parcell thereof, or by any devise to grant the same unto any person save only the Kings second sonnes lawfully borne. Whence it is that Charles the Kings second sonne, Duke of Yorke, at this day holdeth and enjoieth the title of Earle of Rosse.


BEYOND Rosse, Sutherland looketh toward the East Ocean, a land more meete to breede cattaile than to beare corne: wherein there be hils of white marble (a wonderfull thing in this so cold a climate), but of no use almost, considering excesse in building and that vaine ostentation of riches is not yet reached to these remote regions. Here is Dunrobin, a castle of very great name, the principall seat of the ancient Earles of Sutherland, descended, if I be not deceived, out of the familie of Murray. Among whom one William under King Robert Brus is most famous, who married the sister of the whole bloud to King David, and had by her a son, whom the said David declared heire apparant of the crowne, and compelled his nobles to swear unto him allegeance. But he within a little after departed without issue, and the Earledome in the end came by a daughter and heire hereditarily unto Anthony Gordon, one of the line of the Earles of Huntly.


HIGHER lieth Cathanes, butting full upon the said East-sea, bending inward with a number of creakes and compasses which the waves as it were indent. In which dwelt in Ptolomees time the Catini, but written falslie in some copies Carini, among whom the selfe same Ptolomee placeth the river Ila, which may seeme to be the Wisle at this day. The inhabitants of this province raised their greatest gaine and revenewes by grazing and raising of cattaile and by fishing. the cheife Castle therein is called Girnego, in which the Earls of Catnesse for the most part make their aboad. The Bishops sea is in Dornok a little meane towne otherwise, where also King James the Fourth appointed the Sherife of Catnesse to reside, or else at Wik, as occasions should require, for the administration of justice.

2. The Earles of Catnesse in ancient times were also Earles of the Orcades, but at last they became distinct, and by the eldest daughter of one Malise, given in marriage to William Seincler the Kings Pantler [butler], his heires successively came to bee Earles of Catnesse, and doe still enjoie the same honor.


THE utmost and farthest coast of all Britaine, which with the front of the shore looketh full against North point, and hath the midest of the greater beares tale, which, as Cardan was of opinion, causeth translations of Empires, just over head, was inhabited, as we may see in Ptolomee, by the Cornabii, among whom hee placeth the river Nabeus, which names are so nere affinity that the nation may seeme to have drawne their denomination from the river that they dwelt by. Neither doth the modern name Strath-Navern, which signifieth the Valley by Navern , jarre altogether in sound from them. The country it selfe is for the soile nothing fertile, and by reason of the sharpe and cold aire lesse inhabited, and thereupon sore haunted and annoied by most cruell wolves. Which in such violent rage not only set upon cattaile to the exceeding great dammage of the inhabitants, but also assaile men with great danger, and not in this tract onely, but in many other parts likewise of Scotland, in so much as by vertue of an act of Parliament the Sheriffes and inhabitants in every Country are commanded to goe forth thrice a yeere a-hunting, for to destroy the wolves and their whelpes. But (if in this so Northerly a country this be any comfort to speake of) it hath of all Britaine againe the shortest night and the longest day. For by reason of the position of heaven here distant from the Aequinoctiall line 59 degrees and forty minutes, the longest daie conteineth 18 houres and 15 scruples, and the shortest night not above 5 houres and 45 scruples. So that the Panegyrist is not true in this, who made report in times past that the sunne in manner setteth not at all, but passeth by and lightly glanceth upon the Horizon, happily relying upon this Authority of Tacitus, for that the extreme points and plaine levels of the earth with their shade so low raised up no darkeness at all. But more truely Plinie (according to true reason), where hee treateth of the longest daies according to the inclination of the Sunnes circle to the Horizon: The longest daies (saith he) in Italie are 15 houres, in Britannie 17, where the light nights doe prove that undoubtedly by experience which reason forceth credibly, that in Midsommer daies when the sonne approcheth neere to the Pole of the world, the places of the earth under the Pole have 6 moneths, though the light having but a narrow compasse, the night contrariwise when he is farre remote in middle winter.

2. In this utmost tract, which Ptolomee extendeth out farre East, whereas indeed it beareth full North (for which Roger Bacon in his Geography taxed him long since), where Tacitus said that an huge and enorme space of ground, running still forward to the farthest point, groweth narrow like a wedge. There runne out three Promontories mentioned by the old writers: namely Berubium, now called Urdchead, neere to Bernswale a village; Virevedrum, now Dunsby otherwise named Duncans-bay, which is thought to be the most remote promontory of Britain; Orcas, now named Howburn, which Ptolomee setteth over against the Islands Orcades, as the utmost of them all. This also in Ptolomee is called Tarvedrum and Tarvisium, and so named, if my conjecture faile mee not, because it is the farthest end of Britain. For tarvut in the British tongue hath a certaine signification of ending , which which I accordingly will end this booke, purposing to speake of the out-Isles Orcades, Hebudes or Hebrides, and of Shetland in their due place.

Thus have I breifely runne over Scotland, and verily more breifly than the worth of so great a kingdome requireth. Neither doubt I but that someone or other will set it forth more at large and depeinct it (as I said) with a more flourishing pensill, in greater certeinty, and upon better knowlege, whenas our most mighty Monarch now openeth those remote places hitherto fore-closed from us. Meanwhile, if I have at any time dropt a steepe (for the most watchful may sometimes bee taken napping) or if some error in this unknowne tract hath misleade me from the truth (as nothing is more rife and easie than error), I hope the courteous Reader will pardon it upon my acknowledgement, and of his kindnesse, recalling me from error, direct me in the right way to the truth.

William Camden, Britain, or, a Chorographicall Description of the most flourishing Kingdomes, England, Scotland, and Ireland (London: George Bishop and John Norton, 1610) Copyright 2004 by Dana F. Sutton. This text was transcribed by Professor Sutton, of the University of California, Irvine, from Philemon Holland's 1610 translation [British Library Short Title Catalogue 4509, Early English Books reel 911:1]. For a full critical edition presenting Camden's original Latin text in parallel with Holland's translation, visit Professor Sutton's site at:


Placename mark-up by Humphrey Southall.

Next Selection Previous Selection