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comparison with the splendid baronial residences of the more wealthy nobility of England and Wales.
In many parts of the Highlands, however, ruins and foundations of places of strength, and of castles, are so frequent, as to exhibit proofs of the existence of a population more numerous than that of latter ages. The marks and traces of the plough also evidently demonstrate that cultivation was, at one period, more extended than at present. Fields on the mountains, now bleak and desolate, and covered only with heath and fern, exhibit as distinct ridges of the plough as are to be seen on the plains of Moray. * Woods and cultivation gave a genial warmth to the climate, which planting and other improvements would probably yet restore. As an instance of these marks of the ancient population, I shall confine my observations to one district. In a small peninsula of four miles in breadth, situated between the rivers Tummel and Garry, in Athole, extending from Strowan to the Port of Lochtummel, about ten miles in length, and ending at the Point of Invergarry, below the Pass of Killiekrankie, there are so many foundations of ancient habitations, (and these of apparent note,) as to indicate a remarkably numerous population. They are nineteen in number. One circular building, near the house of Fincastle, is sixty-two feet in diameter; the walls are seven and a half feet thick, and a height of five feet is still remaining. In the district of Foss there are four. On the estate of Garth there are eight, some with walls nine feet thick; the stones in two of which are so weighty, that they could scarcely have been raised to the walls without the aid of machinery. In Glenlyon * there are seven; and, in a word, they are scattered all over the country. Respecting these buildings, various opinions are entertained; but one thing is certain, that they must have been erected at a great expence of labour, and that a numerous people only would have required so many buildings, either for shelter or for defence. Tradition assigns them to the age of Ossian, and they are accordingly denominated Caistail na Fiann, " the Castles of the Fingallians." The adjacent smaller buildings are pointed out by names expressive ofthe purposes to which they were appropriated. In Glenlyon, for instance, is shewn the kennel for Fingal's dogs, and the house for the principal hunters. All this, to be sure, is tradition, and will be received as such; but the traces of a numerous population in former times are nevertheless clear and incontrovertible.
* It has been said, in accounting for the existence of these marks of more extended cultivation, that, in ancient times, the valleys were thickly wooded, and much infested with wolves and other wild animals, and that the inhabitants were, in some measure, compelled to cultivate the high grounds, which were more clear of woods and wild beasts. But as wolves could not be such objects of terror to an armed population, and as it is not probable men would cultivate the more barren and exposed parts of a country and leave the warm and sheltered untouched, it may, with some confidence, be supposed, that a stronger necessity than the dread of savage animals compelled the inhabitants to cultivate, as high as the soil and climate would produce any return for their labour. Being shut up in their mountains by the hostility of their neighbours on the plains, from whom no supply could be obtained except by force of arms, the number of inhabitants required that every spot capable of cultivation should be rendered as productive as possibley^nd the low grounds being insufficient, the higher parts were necessarily cleared and cultivated,
But, whatever might have been the population and state of civilization of ancient Albion, the country was destined to experience one of those revolutions which are frequent in human affairs. The extension of their dominions occasioned the frequent absence of the kings from the ancient seat of their government. At length when, about the year 1066, the Court was removed by Malcolm Ceanmor, never to return to the mountains, the sepulchres, as well as the residence of the future kings of Scotland, were henceforth destined to be in the south, and Dunfermline became the royal cemetery instead of Icolm-kill, where so many kings, chiefs, bishops, eminent ecclesiastics, and men of learning,
* In ancient poetry, it is stated that the Fingallians had twelve castles in Glenlyon, but the ruins of seven only are visible at this day.
lie entombed. That university, which had for ages been the fountain whence religion and learning were diffused among the people, was now deserted. The removal of the seat of authority was speedily followed by the usual consequences. The Highlanders were impoverished. Nor was this the only evil that resulted from the transference of the seat of government. The people, now beyond the reach of the laws, became fierce and turbulent, revenging in person those wrongs for which the administrators of the laws were too distant and too feeble to afford redress. Thence arose the institution of chiefs, who naturally became the judges and arbiters in the quarrels of their clansmen and followers, and who, surrounded by men devoted to the defence of their rights, their property, and their power, established within their own territories a jurisdiction almost wholly independent of their liege lord. *
• Io 1057 Malcolm Ceanmor formed several thaneships throughout the kingdom into lordships and earlUoi is; those in the Highlands were said to be Monteith, Lennox, Athole, Mar, Moray, Ross, Caithness, Badenoch, and Sutherland. Many descendants of these noble families still exist in the country; but there is no representative of any in a direct line, except the present Countess of Sutherland, whose title, the most ancient in the kingdom, will soon merge in the superior title to which the son will succeed. It is a curious circumstance, that, although there exists only one direct descendant of the thanes who were promoted on the occasion above mentioned, the families of many of those who remained as thanes, such as Mackintosh, Campbell, Macdougal, Maclean, Cameron, Menzies, Grant, &c, are to be traced in direct and unbroken male lineage, down to the present day. The direct succession of the Lords of the Isles ended in the fifteenth century; yet there are many thousands of their descendants, as also numerous descendants of several other families of that early period, cadets and branches of which have come down in lineal descent, although that of the chiefs has been interrupted.
System of clanship—Consequences of this system—Effects of the wait of laws on the manners and character qf the people.
The division of the people into clans and tribes, under separate chiefs, whose influence remained undiminished till after the year 1748, constitutes the most remarkable circumstance in their political condition, and leads directly to the origin of many of their peculiar sentiments, customs, and institutions. The nature of the country, and the motives which induced the Celts to make it their refuge, almost necessarily prescribed the form of their institutions. Unequal to contend with overwhelming numbers, who drove them from the plains, and, anxious to preserve their independence, and their blood uncontaminated by a mixture with strangers, they defended themselves in those strong holds, which are, in every country, the sanctuaries of national liberty, and the refuge of those who resist the oppression and domination of a more powerful neighbour. Thus, in the absence of their monarchs, and defended by their barrier of rocks, they did not always submit to the authority of a distant government, which could neither enforce obedience, nor afford protection. The division of the country into so many straths, valleys, and islands, separated from one another by mountains or arms of the sea, gave rise, as a matter of necessity, to various little societies; and individuals of superior property, courage, or talent, under whose banners they had fought, or under whose protection they had settled, naturally became their chiefs. Their secluded situation rendered general intercourse difficult, while the impregnable ramparts with which they were surrounded made defence easy.
Every small society had arms sufficient for its own protection, artisans skilful enough to furnish the rude manufactures required within their own territory, pasture for their cattle, wood for every purpose, moss and turf for fuel, and space for their hunting excursions. As there was nothing to tempt them to change their residence, to court the visits of strangers, or to solicit the means of general communication, every society became insulated. The whole race was thus broken into many individual masses, possessing a community of customs and character, but placed under different jurisdictions. Thus every district became a petty independent state. The government of each community, or clan, was patriarchal, * a sort of hereditary monarchy, founded on custom, and allowed by general consent, rather than regulated by laws. Many members of each clan considered themselves, and actually were, branches and descendants of the same family. The central stem of this family was the chief. But the more these connections of blood and friendship tended to preserve internal harmony, the more readily the clans broke out into violence on occasion of any external injury or affront. The laws of the state affording no protection, turbulence, aggressions, and reprisals necessarily resulted. In this state of agitation, all knowledge of letters was lost, except among a few; but a
* The feudal system, which had obtained such general influence over all the east and south of Europe, did not extend to the inaccessible districts, where the remains of the Celts had taken shelter. In Wales, in Ireland, in the western and middle borders of Scotland, and in the Highlands, the patriarchal government was universal. Opposed to this was the feudal system of their Saxon invaders, who established it as far as their power extended. It was long the policy of the Scottish legislature to oppose the feudal government, and support the power exercised by the chief, jure sanguinis, over the obedience and service of his clan, while the power assumed by the feudal superior of his freehold was disregarded. In this manner the Duke of Gordon, feudal superior of the lands and estates held by the Camerons, Macphersons, Macdonells of Keppoch, and others, had no vassalage or command over these clans, who always followed the orders of their patriarchal chiefs, Lochiel, Clunie, Keppoch, &c.