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ON THE DRUIDICAL REMAINS IN PERTHSHIRE.
The highlands and braes of Perthshire abound with monuments and names commemorative of the Patriarchal or Druidical worship, which, there can be no doubt, at one time exclusively prevailed over the whole island. This distinction they probably owe, partly to the slower progress of civilization in these till of late years sequestered districts. and partly to the preservation of the language in common use, which was either contemporaneous with the system of worship referred to, or which was current while the memory of that system was yet as fresh in the public mind as the remains of its temples, groves or coirs, and its deep-seated superstitions, could preserve it. From the circumstance of the ruins of these temples being almost uniformly found on eminences, either remarkable in themselves for beauty of situation, or commanding views of the most extensive and varied character, it would seem as if the appellation of the "high places of Baal" had been literally as well as figuratively applied. The view from the Druidical ruins on the south-west side of Ben-vracky, at the south entrance to the pass of Killiecrankie, is perhaps the most varied and romantic which the scenery of the Scottish Highlands offers: that from Tully-Bealtane, an eminence a few miles west from the pass from the south to Dunkeld, if not so picturesque, is of a still more extensive character. This is called at this day by the highlanders “Tullocb-Baal-teine,” or the Mount of Baal's Fire. Within the range of this latter eminence three hills of Baal are distinctly visible; one due south on the northern chain of the Ochills, another on that of the Sidlaws, and a third on one of the Bens which terminate the fertile vale of Strathearn in the west.
Many of the names of places and districts in the carse of Gowrie are purely Celtic; and their etymology, if carefully traced, would not only be interesting, but would throw light on the natural history of a district, which must have undergone many changes since their present Celtic names were appropriately bestowed. To encourage the local antiquary, a few of the most obvious derivatives, connected with the Druidical remains in the parish of Kilspindie, may at present be noted.
The “ Hill of Beal," in the parish referred to, forms the most conspicuous and lofty eminence on that range of the Sidlaws which bounds the carse of Gowrie on the north. On the summit of this hill there is a level area, sufficiently large to contain a body of six thousand men. The view from this spot is of the most extensive character, comprehending no less than eight counties. About two hundred yards east of this point, a circle
of Druidical stones has given the name of Clachanah to a small eminence on which they stand. That these are the remains of places of religious worship there can be little question; the opinion is corroborated by the fact, that a church is to this day often called Clachan (or the Stones) in the Celtic language. Still farther east from Beal's Hill is a perpendicular rock bearing the name of Craig Greine, or the Rock of the Sun.
Without entering upon the controversial point, whether the heavenly bodies were worshipped on their own account, or merely as symbolical of a greater power, it is sufficient at present to remark, that there can be no question that the sun was considered as an object of religious veneration by the Druids. The fires which were kindled by them on Hallowe'en were termed Samanach; and the torches which continue still to be carried about by boys on that evening, receive the same name in the Highland districts. It may be observed, that Shems or Shemis, is the Persian and Syriac name for the sun; Sam is also a name for that luminary in the Celtic language.
About half a mile to the east of Craig Greine is another large circle of stones, in one of which are several artificial cavities to receive the pure dew of heaven; another circle stands on an eminence about a mile south from the same rock. At Bandirran, probably Ben-na-Draun, or Druid's Mount, there is a fourth circle of similar ruins. About half a mile from the summit of Beal's Hill is Dritch muir, or Druid's muir, part of which was lately ploughed up, which to all appearance had not been under cultivation for many centuries. On breaking up a small tulloch or hillock, in search of stones for fences, a large cairn was discovered, covered over with turf about a foot in thickness. The cairn was exactly circular, measuring about 24 feet diameter, and contained 130 load of stones; underneath, and about the centre of the circle, was a small pit, about 24 feet square and i} foot deep, faced up on the sides with freestone,' and paved on the bottom. This pit contained no vestige of inhumation excepting a little fine mould. A number of small cairns surrounded this spot, which, when examined, were found to contain large quantities of ashes and human bones half burnt, mixed promiscuously with the stones; leaving nothing, however, to throw light on the disputed point, whether the Druids, at such places, offered human sacrifices, or used the ground as a place of common sepulture.
In this parish stands the village of Pitrodie, Pit, Druidie, the graves or burial-places of the Druids. On a rising ground, in the same neighbourhood, a number of ancient graves have lately been found; some below cairns, and others near the surface of the ground, composed of four large stones, forming the sides, top and bottom, and not lying in any uniform or regular direction.
Arnbathie, Ar-n-Faidhe, or Seer's field, is situated about a
mile west from Druid's moor. A little to the north is the Shian hill, from Sighean or Fairies, its supposed inhabitants. That the belief in the agency of genii formed part of the Druidical mythology is very probable; for sufficient evidence exists at this day that the Druids made amulets as preservatives against the machinations of evil spirits; and to this part of their mythology we are no doubt indebted for the subject of many a legendary tale. The spells framed by the judicial astrologers were the genuine successors of the amulets in succeeding ages : and may we not trace, in the bag of camphor suspended round the neck of children during periods of apprehended danger from infectious diseases, the influence of the same superstition, modified to the age of enlightenment in which we now live?
A lofty hill, about a mile west from Arnbathie, is called Suldry, and
may have taken this name from its summit having been used as an observatory by the Druids. Seall, in Celtic pronounced houll,* means to behold ; and, without doing much violence to the etymon of Kinnoull, it may be rendered the End Observatory. Suldry, or Seall Draoi, may also be translated Druid's Observatory, and Craig-oull, the Rock Observatory. Thus, these prominent points on the range of hills proceeding from Perth eastward, still retain the same name in Gaelic, which constitutes the name of the whole line of the Sidlaw, in the language still spoken in that part of the country.
To the Editors of the Cambrian and Caledonian Quarterly
Magazine. GENTLEMEN, As your respectable publication is intended as a medium of furnishing correct information on all subjects connected with the Principality, I hope you will excuse me for trespassing briefly on your attention in a matter that involves the religious character of the inhabitants of Cardiganshire. The talented writer of the History of Cardiganshire, Sir R. Meyrick, is so highly esteemed that, from a deep sense of my inferiority to bim, I feel reluctant to offer any observations of mine, in contradiction to his statements; but, finding in his history of that county an error, arising, I am confident, from false information, but calculated in no small degree to injure the religious character of the inhabitants, I cannot repress the feelings of a Cymro, and must therefore venture to assert that, in one instance, the learned gentleman alluded to has been very incorrect. In page 129 of the Introduction to his history, when speaking of the weddings, biddings, &c., he says: “Saturday is always fixed on for the marriage cere
Seall is “to behold;" sheull,“ beheld,” is pronounced as above : selw is the Welsh.
mony," &c. and page 132, “The Sunday being come, the bride and bridegroom's business is to stay at home all day, and receive goodwill and pwython.” This day is called “neitheor.” “They receive more money this day than Saturday,” &c. "On Monday morning the drink is exhausted," &c. The History of Cardiganshire was published twenty-five years ago; and I have questioned many
old inhabitants of the county, some of them above eighty years of age, and they tell me that they never heard of a bidding or marriage being held on the Lord's day. I have myself lived many years in the county, and travelled almost every part of it, and I never heard of such a thing. “Saturday," says the learned gentleman, “is always fixed on for the marriage ceremony." Now it is well known to all that have had occasion to notice the circumstance, that scarcely in one instance out of a thousand a wedding takes place on that day, some of the more ignorant having a prejudice against it, and others viewing it, if a bidding is intended to be held, as approaching too near the sacred day of rest. “They receive more money on this (Sunday) than Saturday.” “ Monday morn the drink is exhausted.” This represents the inhabitants of Cardiganshire as guilty of scandalous and infamous profanation of the Lord's day, transacting business and tippling the whole of Sunday, so that on Monday the drink is all exhausted. I have never heard in the whole course of my life of the sabbath's being unhallowed by a bidding or marriage held on it; and I venture to say that Sir S. Meyrick has, as relates to this matter, suffered himself to be strangely misguided. That he would have slurred the fame of the less dignified classes of society in this county, out of spite or prejudice, I cannot for a moment suppose; but I am quite at a loss to conjecture from whence he could have derived his authority in this particular. Minute and diligent inquiry ought to have been resorted to in a matter involving so serious a charge. If so indecent a deviation from propriety, as to hold a bidding on the sabbath, could have accidentally occurred in some less civilized district of the county, which circumstance I cannot, from the many inquiries I have made on the subject, persuade myself to have been possible; this should not in fairness have been the cause of charging the whole county with the disgraceful practice, in a dissertation on the customs, habits, and manners of its people.
“In the face of light," and impressed with the propriety of maintaining, according to the old Bardic motto "y gwin yn erbyn y byd,” Truth against the world,—I venture to say that this is an incorrect representation of the religious character of the inhabitants of Cardiganshire, and ought, in justice to them, to be as widely contradicted, as, through the rightly earned fame of the writer referred to, it has been widely diffused.
Exonerating, as I cordially do, the highly talented writer of the History of Cardiganshire, from any dishonorable intentions,
fully appreciating the merits of his work, upon the whole; and well knowing that he has drank too deeply of the Pierean spring, to consider himself beyond the reach of imperfection, I hope he will excuse the liberty I have taken, and pardon the warmth of a Cymro in the defence of his native land: gwlad ei enedyaeth. I am, gentlemen, your obedient servant,
Fellow of Jes. Coll. Oxon. Maesmynach, Cardiganshire;
May 24, 1833.
Sirs, In looking over an old Welsh Magazine called Eurgrawn Cymraeg, published at Caermarthen in the year 1770, by one Evan Thomas, of Montgomeryshire, I happened to meet with the following account of the manner in which Edward I. prevailed on the Welsh to take his son Edward II. as their prince, and which I have translated, for the benefit of your readers, particularly as it gives the same interpretation of the prince of Wales's motto as that which was sent you some time ago by « Paris.” I am, sirs, yours, &c.
ARVON. March 23, 1833. After the death of Llewelyn ap Griffith, the last prince of Wales, of the ancient British line, Edward the First sent to the principal gentlemen of Wales, to demand their attendance, in order to swear true allegiance to him, and submit themselves henceforward to his government as good and faithful subjects. After having held a short consultation together, they informed the messenger that they would never submit to any prince except one of their own nation, and one of unimpeachable life and character, and one who could converse with them in their own language. When the king perceived they were so resolute and determined, and that it would be impossible to make them submit by force or compulsion, he contrived to obtain their submission by the following stratagem. It happened that Queen Eleanor was at that time within a few months of her confinement ; he therefore dispatched proper persons to England, in order to bring her down to Wales as expeditiously as possible, though it was then in the depth of winter. The queen accordingly obeyed the summons, and came with all speed to the castle of Carnarvon, as she had been requested; and, in a short time afterwards, she was there safely delivered of the first prince of Wales of the English line. Soon afterwards, the king summoned together all the Welsh chieftains, the gentlemen of the greatest weight and influence in the Principality, and informed them, that as they had expressed a wish to have a countryman of their own for their prince, and